Archive for April, 2020

Total mortality reveals uncounted Covid deaths

Wednesday, April 29th, 2020

The New York Times pretty much copied this: Covid-19 data – Tracking covid-19 excess deaths across countries | Graphic detail | The Economist

Life in a ‘Coronavirus Hotel’

Wednesday, April 29th, 2020

This is not quite what I suggested in my “modest proposal” of March 16 but it does have some of the same elements.

Addendum (suggested by my friend John Butler)

To the tune of Hotel California and with apologies to The Eagles:

Welcome to the Hotel COVID-19
Such a lovely place (for a virus chase)
A mask for your face,
Plenty of room at the Hotel COVID-19
Any time of year (a Corona beer,
You can get it here).

Planet of the Humans 

Tuesday, April 28th, 2020

The over-the-top reaction of Elizabeth May made it certain that I would have to actually watch this.

And I’m not sorry I did.

The main messages (which bizzarely the very poor Guardian reviewer almost completely missed in a relatively favourable review) are that there will not be any solution to the various problems of human impact until we defuse the population bomb and that any technology which might help but can be misused for profit will be so misused in the context of a “free market” capitalist system.

Like much of Moore’s work (but also unfortunately also just like much of the work of those who are now squealing like stuck pigs), the film is polemical and manipulative to a fault, and crosses the boundary into dishonesty at various points. The fact that, as a ten year project, it includes much that is out of date, is not in and of itself a failing, but the movie’s failure to acknowledge changes that happened several years ago is one. For example Bill McGibben’s endorsement of biofuels was reversed several years ago – well after he was first challenged on the topic by Gibbs, but long before the movie actually came out. And I don’t think that acknowledging this would have reduced the impact of using biofuels as an example of how easy it is to overlook hidden weaknesses (especially ones involving vulnerability to abuse for profit) and pick a wrong horse when desperate for a techno-fix.

Another failing is the confounding of environmental impact of construction and back-up of one energy source with that of the fuelling of another. Just because there is such an impact does not necessarily negate the benefit of a proposed alternative. But the need to properly account for ALL impacts has often been ignored by the proponents of “climate friendly” alternatives.

The smug and smarmy manner of Ozzie Zehner playing “gotcha” with solar and wind projects doesn’t help matters (but he seems a lot less offensive in the live chat session that accompanied the movie’s release)

Anyhow, what I find most interesting about all this is the lengths to which people will go to make it all about them and miss the very clear actual point of the exercise.

An Interesting Experiment

Sunday, April 19th, 2020

I suppose there will be some value in future to having the knowledge of exactly how much harm one person can do in a situation like this.

Source: Trump Encourages Protest Against Governors Who Have Imposed Virus Restrictions – The New York Times

Canada Letter: How can it happen here?

Saturday, April 18th, 2020

ThisNew York Times ‘Canada Letter’ is a welcome contribution to the exposure of the evils of private care facilities.

My only problem with the article is Susan Bartlett’s reference to reticence about complaining out of “deference for our health care system”. These loathsome private facilities are not part of Canada’s public health care system, but rather have been allowed to encroach on and exploit that system by right wing politicians eager to turn that system into an American-style profit generation machine. (And indeed when Bartlett first did her research the situation may have been different, as there are many cases of former public and non-profit facilities having been bought out or forced into management contracts with private for-profit operators.) I’d say such things should happen only “over my dead body” but sadly am reaching the age where that is becoming more and more likely.

Part of the Problem

Saturday, April 11th, 2020

In political arguments (especially in a democracy) there is a tendency to value quantity over quality. We are all have good reason to be afraid of alienating potential supporters, and as a result sometimes we are slow to reject even the most evil of allies – let alone to quibble against well-intentioned but invalid arguments. However, that is where I come in.

Nick Malik’s answer to the Quora question: If the participation of Hunter Biden in the Burisma board of directors could be a case of corruption, why is it not investigated in a regular US court? is a case in point.

Malik skips the opportunity to use the lack of prosecution as evidence for the claim that whatever investigation was done found nothing illicit, and chooses instead to “prove” the absence of corruption among the Bidens by arguing that it would be impossible for Hunter to offer anything to the Ukrainians because he was just a private citizen with no elected office – an argument which is, of course, clearly wrong (and which, if accepted, would also “prove” the innocence of Trump in the face of our current awful “witch hunt”).

It may seem necessary to some to respond to a false claim by “proving” that it is impossible rather than merely false, but by basing one’s defense on an excessively strong claim one becomes vulnerable to any arguments against the stronger claim; and furthermore, by relying on an indefensible position one also creates doubt as to the existence of a more robust but less remote defense.

Some of today’s anti racists, climate defenders, and so on strike me as like knights defending an impregnable castle who decide to defend it by running to an outer wooden stockade. But when the stockade is breached there is noone back at the castle.

Calling Mike Bloomberg…

Wednesday, April 8th, 2020

This is just one example of stories that need to be widely disseminated during the coming US election. Massive distribution of TV ads showing DT’s early comments on COVID-19 is another. And there are many more.

Mike Bloomberg has proved that money is not enough to just buy a nomination – let alone an actual election – but it may be enough to ensure that a valid message gets out to the electorate, and so to unveil and defeat a confidence trickster.

If Bloomberg is sincere in his wish to rid the USA of Donald Trump’s presidency, then he has the means to do that. All it will take is unrelenting and timely exposure to the stupidities, inanities, and contradictions uttered by the current Buffoon-in-Chief.

This will not earn Bloomberg the presidency for himself but by showing his commitment to principle rather than personal advancement it may actually earn him the latter.

He can’t be included on the ticket this year since the VP has to be a woman and has to appeal to the Sanders wing. But after Biden retires in 2024, his VP and successor Elizabeth Warren might well be advised to take on Mike Bloomberg as her running mate.

So while he may never actually become president, little Mike could well become VP if he plays his cards right – and does what is best for both his country and the rest of us.