Saturday, October 24, 2020

For the Record: Why the Affordable Care Act Will Survive

Photo by CQ Roll Call via Forbes.


 A heavy Twitter day, sorry. Some more arguments with friends:

Friday, October 23, 2020

For the Record: Debate Takes


The Debate (2017), by the Filipino painter Gerry Joquico, via ArtAnton.

Earlier in the evening, I had a kind of kerfuffle with our dear friend Bos over the framing of our attack on Trump's China business, where I think the prevailing rhetoric emphasizes the points that aren't important at all for the sake of a sound bite that really doesn't end up meaning anything:

I had a Singapore checking account for a couple of years after I came back to the States, and I really didn't mean any harm.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Flooding the Zone


Via ZDNet.

I'm going to be really skeptical in all directions about the report on Iranian interference in the election from our notoriously unqualified Director of National Intelligence, ex-Congressman John Ratcliffe, who got Trump's attention in 2017-18 alongside Devin Nunes as the two of them worked to turn the House Intelligence Committee into an adjunct of the Trump campaign, was criticized for not coming close to meeting the statutory requirements for the job

50 US Code § 3023, “Any individual nominated for appointment as Director of National Intelligence shall have extensive national security expertise.”

and lying about it in the most ridiculous way

Tuesday, October 20, 2020



The original Zoom debate, from the Democratic primary campaign in New York's 14th congressional district, 20 May 2020, screenshot by Mashable.

No, I'm not going to waste my time on a virtual debate. That's not what debating's all about. You sit behind a computer and do a debate is ridiculous. And they cut you off whenever they want.

Donald J. Trump, 8 October, rejecting the format proposed by the Commission on Presidential Debates for the scheduled 15 October town hall–style debate in Miami, after Trump's Covid-19 infection raised safety concerns. I can't find out anything about the role computers were supposed to play in the proceedings—the CPD's statement didn't mention this—but it must have been discussed in the course of the CPD negotiations with the two campaigns, and that's where Trump got it.

My idea is that it was really going to be a Zoom debate, as suggested originally by Mashable and later backed up by Fox BusinessVice, Catholic University's The Tower, and I don't know who else—Fox was the most authoritative, citing Mitch McConnell and the Trump campaign's Mica Mosbacher—and Trump was thrown into a panic, not by the thought that the moderator was going to have a mute button (he's accepted that, at least for part of the time, for Thursday's debate), but because he might have to operate one himself; that he might be required to touch a key or click a mouse, hands at the console and face at the camera, and he was certain he would screw it up.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Malarkey Factory


I may be finding this Matt Viser/Washington Post story a little more reassuring than I should, but I'm glad to learn the Biden campaign has a multimillion-dollar "Malarkey Factory" combating disinformation, and very glad to get an explanation of what kinds of disinformation they decide to combat:

Swiss Miss

Via CEFA Aviation.

This is a couple of weeks old already, but I just heard about it on the radio, a Covid piece by Dr. Jonathan Schiffer ("Against Covid-19, Imperfect Measures Do the Most Good"), and it's a bit cheering: 

Schiffer, an associate professor in the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, discusses the benefits of some effective, although far from flawless, tools in the battle against COVID-19. It’s an approach that reminds him of swiss cheese, he says, because “each of these strategies has holes but, if you apply all of them, fewer infections break through.”

The Swiss cheese is a reference to a kind of biz school model of risk assessment, envisaging safeguards against harm as an array of cheese slices, each of which blocks the oncoming threat except where it has holes; if each slice comes from a different part of the cheese, its holes are in different places, so if you have enough of them you can block just about everything (see illustration).

So if all our tools are flawed, all of them—the washing of hands and wiping down of surfaces, the masks, the distancing, the testing and tracing, the quarantine, the temperature check, eventually the vaccine that may be as little as 50% effective—have flaws in different places. I was inclined to feel despair at the thought of a vaccine that's only 50% effective, and I still see 70% would be a lot better, but the point is that trying to get where you need to go with the perfect method, the one that doesn't have any flaws at all, is a mistake—it's really better to have imperfect techniques, if you have a bunch of them.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Literary Corner: There Are Some Very Fine Anti-Pedophiles

Via Encyclopedia of Alabama,

I Know Nothing
by Donald J. Trump
(Let me ask you about QAnon.
It is this theory that Democrats
are a satanic pedophile ring
and that you are the savior, of that.
Now can you just, once and for all,
state that that is completely not true, and—)
I know very little.
You told me, but what you tell me
doesn't necessarily make it fact.
I hate to say that.
I know nothing about it.
I do know they are very much against pedophilia.
They fight it very hard.
But I know nothing about it.

If you’d like me to study the subject,
I’ll tell you what I do know about.
I know about Antifa,
and I know about the radical left,
and I know how violent they are
and how vicious they are.
And I know how they are burning down
cities run by Democrats,
not run by Republicans.

Friday, October 16, 2020

For a pronominal consideration

Georg Baselitz, "Portrait of Elke I", 1969. Via.

David F. Brooks, "How to Actually Make America Great":

The frequency of the word “I” in American books, according to Putnam and Garrett, doubled between 1965 and 2008. The authors are careful not to put it into moralistic terms, but I’d say that, starting in the late 1960s, there was left wing self-centeredness in the social and lifestyle sphere and right wing self-centeredness in the economic sphere, with a lack of support for common-good public policies. But it was socially celebrated self-centeredness all the way across. It was based on a fallacy: If we all do our own thing, everything will work out well for everybody.

Robert Putnam, "with" Shaylyn Romney Garrett, in The Upswing: How America Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again, are careful not to put it into moralistic terms, but David Brooks will happily fix that. 

His own use of "I" in his column has diminished by a good 70% since 24 September ("How Faith Shapes My Politics"), when he used it 19 times, to today, when there are only six (excluding four cases of "'I'" in quotes, which is technically not using the word, to refer to himself, but mentioning it, as a word people use). But I digress.