Friday, July 31, 2020

Friday Night: Birthday Boy, Drive-by Truckers

More of Various

The Republican party, including Mitch McConnell, are cancers on America, without empathy, without caring, without basic decency. 

McConnell says a third of Republican senators just don't give a shit. Instead of people, they're pretending to care about the deficit. How convenient. 

Of course they never care about the deficit or debt when they give giant tax breaks to the wealthy and corporations. There's always lots of money for that.

We do need a revolution -- that's the only thing that will fix all this. No election will -- the two parties have rigged it so no one else can get in power. Maybe we need a revolution with no quarter given, a la Tom Cotton's plan for protesters. 

Revolutions happen periodically. They have before, and they will again. It's difficult to know the form of those in the future, with so much changing so fast, but they will happen.

But watch -- those who really need the help, in middle America, in the south, will again (and again) vote for Republicans. Because they don't mind being kicked in the teeth again (and again). Doesn't bother them, because they have so very few teeth left.


A co-founder of The Federalist, which I do believe we've heard a thing or two about here on this blog before, says Trump should be impeached for suggesting election day should be postponed.

It has always been set in steel.


After all, the Presidential oath of office says the president "...will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Trump just willingly failed to do that. He clearly violated his oath.


Fauci said today we would most likely have a safe vaccine ready by the end of 2020 or early 2021. Seems hard to believe, when you include rigorous testing. But as the book said, "been down so long it looks like up to me."


Recently I started reading Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, where the narrator is a pedophile. Two things have surprised me so far, 1/3rd of the way in: (1) it's set in New Hampshire, and (2) it's actually quite funny.


Last week I finished The Invincible by Stanislaw Lem. It's old school sci-fi (pub 1967), though nothing by Lem is ever really pulp. (Earlier I read Lem's His Master's Voice (pub 1968), which wasn't easy, and which I'll need to read again.) The Invincible is about a human spaceship that lands on a planet in search of an earlier human spaceship that never returned, and the mysteries behind the reasons. They involve self-assembling and self-replicating nanotechology, and the humans' struggle to not defeat the quasi-lifeforms, but merely to escape them. And, ultimately, to let them "live" -- exist --  alone, an enlightened view for a book published in the 1960s, though perhaps not by a scifi writer like Lem.


Here's what I've been reading over the last decade. (Sorry, I'm a spreadsheet junkie.)

Where Are They Wearing Masks?

From the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation:

I don't know what's wrong with Illinois. Or the entire upper midwest, for that matter. 

IMHE is now projecting 231,000 deaths by November 1st. 77 9/11's.

They say more people are wearing masks, and "if that number increases to 95% across all states, around 32,000 lives could be saved."

Trump: "If no testing, few cases"

As someone wrote on Twitter, Herman Cain would be alive today if only he hadn't gotten tested for COVID-19. 

 Trump really can't be this stupid, can he? So what's his angle?

Thursday, July 30, 2020

van Gogh's Last Painting, and a Movie

Vincent van Gogh's last painting, "Tree Roots." Someone recently discovered its likely location, which still looks much like the painting. 

Just recently I watched an interesting movie on Kanopy, Loving Vincent, which is an animation of 65,000 frames of 853 paintings done in van Gogh's style, made by 100 artists. I wasn't sure about it at first, but was very glad I stuck with it -- it's set a few weeks after van Gogh's death, narrated by a man investigating the circumstances leading up to his suicide as he tries to deliver van Gogh's last letter to his brother Theo. I recommend it.

Louie's Lousy Logic

So Louie Gohmert, a Republican from Texas, has COVID-19. He has refused to wear a mask while walking around the Capital. He berated his own staff for wearing a mask in his office after forcing them to come back into the office instead of working from home. 

Gohmert's reason for not wearing a mask? Because he was getting testing regularly for the virus. Perhaps while quarantining he can read up on biology or logic or both. 

Gohmert, who is perhaps one of the dumbest members of Congress (he called an in-person meeting of his staff to tell them he had COVID; in June Gohmert said he'd wear a mask if he got sick), plans to take zinc and hydroxychloroquine to cure his disease, because of course he does. I suppose injecting bleach will be his backup plan.

Louie, who is (of course) a climate denier, claims he thinks he got COVID from the few times he did wear a mask, 
When the Texas Republican later contended to a local TV station that he might have gotten sick because of getting germs on a mask while wearing one, Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) tweeted, “This is the COVID version of claiming you got VD from a toilet seat. That hydroxychloroquine must be starting to impair Louis' mental faculties.”
Republican minority whip accidentally called him "Congressman COVID." Now the Capital Hill petri dish is angry and up in arms. 

Also, Herman Cain, who once campaigned for the Republican party presidential nomination, has died from COVID-19. He also opposed face masks, and attended Trump's Tulsa rally two weeks before receiving his diagnosis. In a tweet about Trump's 4th of July part at Mt Rushmore, Cain wrote
“Masks will not be mandatory for the event, which will be attended by President Trump. PEOPLE ARE FED UP!”
It's sad that some people are so bullheaded they have to learn the hard way, and angering they put the rest of us at risk in the process. Not wearing a mask should be enforced, with at least a fine. This again is one of Trump's great failings.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

US CO2 Emissions Hit Record Low

Meanwhile, US CO2 emissions for April were the lowest since modern record keeping began by the EIA in 1973:

Women Snatched Off Street in NYC

Now a women unconstitutionally snatched off the street by men in blue shirts an shorts, no insignia or identification at all, wearing guns, producing no warrant, this time in Argentina New York City. I suppose some excuse will be offered by the police, by Trumpists, by the fascists and by conservatives. The hippie deserved it.

US Coal Production: Lowest Since 1978

Tuesday, July 28, 2020


I want to get back to blogging more science. But events keep getting in the way, important events, historical events. I know it's a cliche by now, but this really is the most important election of our lifetimes. (What does it say about America that this has been true for the last five or so elections now?) Four more years of Trump and this country will be left in shreds.

At the Republican National Convention in 2016 Trump said the nation was in crisis and then he said "I alone can fix it."

Is there any part of America that is better today than it was in 2016? Perhaps only the stock market, up about 38% since he was sworn in. But then, "84 percent of all stocks owned by Americans belong to the wealthiest 10 percent of households."

By the way, the same Wilshire 5000 was up 35% in Obama's first term, 51% in his second.

Trump can't be blamed for the pandemic, but he is certainly responsible for the US's feeble, uncoordinated, feckless response to it. The deaths of tens of thousands lies in Trump's hands. He has no clue how to provide leadership in this crisis, no ability to, and, worst of all, no desire to. He is such a psychological head case that he sees himself as the victim in all this, pathetic beyond compare. He lies as he breathes, and even when we all know he's lying, he lies again. It's clear by now that, despite all his bluster, he is a very weak, broken man.

So I have to write about what's going on politically, socially, culturally, at least untl the election. If it doesn't convince anyone of anything, at least it gets some stress out of me, in this lonely pandemic, which is something I need right now. I hope you can bear with me.


Florida now has more COVID-19 cases than New York state. But New York still leads per capita, 21.2 cases/K to 19.8 cases/K. (Not sure about any other states.) About 1/5th per hundred. Still pretty low, unless you're vulnerable.


The Kaiser Family Foundation says 8 in 10 people who have died from COVID-19 were 65 or older. That's the national number; it varies by state, from 90% in Idaho to 70% in D.C.


Gallup: Two in Three Americans Support Racial Justice Protests.


David Frum writes about pandemic life in Canada right now. It's eye-opening. 
"It’s not the health-care system, exactly—although that has coped better, too. A close friend in Los Angeles combatting cancer this week began to experience COVID-19-like symptoms. Her cancer treatment had to pause while she awaited first a test (a two-day delay) then the results (God knows how long). Meanwhile, my two Canadian nephews took the precaution of a COVID-19 test before coming to visit us in the country. They got the test on a walk-in basis. The results arrived a few hours later: all clear."

A little while back I mentioned John Hersey's book Hiroshima, which was a journalistic account of the bomb through profiles of six people who survived it. It was originally published in The New Yorker, taking up the entire issue of the August 31, 1946 magazine. It sold out almost immediately; nationwide radio read it in its entirety over the air.

This Daily Beast article says Harry Truman, who of course ordered the dropping of the bomb (and also that on Nagasaki), didn't want to read about what he'd done. I guess that's understandable, but still. The article is password protected, so I can't read the details for now; it will probably become available without a password in a few days. We'll see if he actually did read it or not.

Albert Einstein ordered a thousand copies.


I thought these two comments were excellent, from this NY Times opinion piece, "In Portland’s So-Called War Zone, It’s the Troops Who Provide the Menace: If President Trump is actually trying to establish order, he is stunningly incompetent," by Nicholas Kristof (who lives about 20 miles outside Portland and grew up on a farm there):


Clay Bennett:


The melting of Arctic sea ice has stalled in the last week and is returning to something normal (at least normal for an AGW world):


Monday, July 27, 2020

The Fire Devil

A recent cover of Der Spiegel. Translation:

"The fire devil"
"A president sets fire to his country."

Sunday, July 26, 2020

About Masks

Those people who warned early on in Trump's term that fascism was coming to America.... They were right. "America is 'staring down the barrel of martial law' as it approaches the presidential election," said Oregon Senator Ron Wyden in The Guardian.

Here's Trump gloating when the mayor of Portland, Ted Wheeler, had a bad experience at the protests:
“They knocked the hell out of him,” President Trump boasted on Fox News. “That was the end of him.”

First Image of Two Exoplanets

This is the first ever image taken of two planets orbiting another star.

The star is located about 300 light-years from Earth in the constellation Musca in the southern sky, and is about one solar mass. But the two planets are exotic -- orbiting at four and eight times Pluto's distance from our sun. Both are huge -- the inner one is 14 times Jupiter's mass, and the outer one is 6 times.

Photo taken at the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in northern Chile.

Photo and article via Scientific American.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Donavan La Bella Has Brain Injury

This tweet shows video of the federal attack:

Friday, July 24, 2020

A COVID-19 Peak in the US?

The US appears to be reaching a peak in COVID-19 cases -- or maybe we should say another local maximum. Hopefully, but doubtfully, certain southern governors will refrain from reopening for a least a month and maybe(?) two.

Of course, schools would ordinarily start in a month and a bit, and if cases are declining at that point there will be a lot of pressure to open them and probably start the cycle on the upswing again.

PS: Have I ever said that I hate the way Blogger renders figures?

Thursday, July 23, 2020

OR/CA Fire Season Setup

This looks like a pretty decent setup for fire season in Oregon and northern California:

latter map via

The Kraken!

Holy heck, the Seattle team joining the NHL in 2021-22 is going to be called the Kraken!

What an absolutely awesome name. Kudos to whoever thought of it and who ever decided to go ahead with it.

The Stanley Cup playoffs start in only 8 days. Go Pens!

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Thomas Sowell Wrong on Diversity

Update, next day, 7 pm:

This wasn’t a very good post – it made a weak case for the business value of diversity, relying on too much that was personal. Instead I should I have linked to articles from serious business sources like Forbes, Enriching The Data: Driving Business Value With Diversity And Inclusion, ABA, Dollars and Cents: The Business Value of Diversity and Inclusion, and McKinsey and Company, Why diversity matters. They study this subject and have said it better than I can.

OK. Here's a Thomas Sowell quote I just came across. It's very typical of his arrogance and preachiness, and also short-sightedness.

His claim about diversity is easy to refute. How many tools and systems have been designed and built only to learn that they don't work for left-handed people, and have had to be rebuilt? How many computer programs were written only to learn that older people couldn't see them? Couldn't respond with mouse commands in time? My mother had me buy her a really nice computer setup -- she had to have the best, she said, and, being a restaurant manager, she always knew someone who would give her a deal -- then hardly used it because she couldn't see both the screen and the keyboard out of her glasses at the same time. They were meant to correct far-sightedness, but she also had near-sightedness. She kept having to flip her glasses up and down every keystroke or two. They were just cheap glasses she bought at the drugstore, because she was too vain to go to an optometrist. Could the computer designer have done better? She was new to computers -- was she really supposed to be able to dive into the settings to configure all the visual settings for herself? I'm terrified of my wireless laser printer going offline, because I have no idea how I got it to work a year ago, what directions I followed -- I just worked on it for two days, trying this and that, then what something the company suggested, and at some point it worked, and that's all I know -- nothing after that. And I'm supposed to have lots of experience and understand these things. Instead, all I have is a big mystery and a prayer it never breaks again. Why can't Brother, my printer's manufacturer, write very explicit instructions for me and people like me, have people they employ, a diversity of people, who understand why older people find this so hard to figure out, instead of having 20-something engineers writing the instruction manuals, which, sure, they know all about how it works, because they designed it.

How many man-hours are wasted at this kind of thing, Mr Sowell? You're a fool if you think it's zero.

Another time I worked for a company, MCI, which was at the time the second-largest long-distance company in the US (this was ~ 1993). I was assigned to a project to build an toll-free 800 service that worked in both the US and Canada and across the border, one number that covered both countries. Not as easy as you might think. Our US team worked a lot with a team from Bell Canada, but there was always this quirk that all our documents needed to be translated into French to satisfy the Quebecois of French Canada. At first it seemed like an unnecessary chore (MCI was all about cutting corners and moving very fast), but eventually I came to respect the Canadian's inclusivity, tenderness and respect for other parts of the country that were a little different -- the south for the west, New England for the midwest. We'd all be better off for it, and better for seeing that everyone's views were included. 

So, yeah, I do think diversity matters, and I do think companies recognize this these days, even if Thomas Sowell in his ivory tower doesn't. 

Trump's Secret Police

From today's NY Times, via the AP:
“This is a democracy, not a dictatorship,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, said on Twitter. “We cannot have secret police abducting people in unmarked vehicles. I can’t believe I have to say that to the President of the United States.”
I agree with her -- no matter what's happening, this is unconstitutional. Where are the Republicans and conservatives who complain about big, overreaching government and it threats to personal rights?

The ACLU of Oregon has sued the federal government over the agents’ presence in Portland. Meanwhile these federal actions are only increasing the number of protestors who come out each night -- what was in the low hundreds was, last night, about 2,000.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Record Melting of Arctic Sea Ice

You may have heard that the recent heat blast in Siberia was determined to be "almost impossible" without manmade climate change (Wash Post, CNN). The study, done in two weeks by a group formed by World Weather Attribution and not yet peer reviewed, found the event was "600 times more likely as a result of human-induced climate change," and "the prolonged heat was a very rare event expected to occur less than once every 130 years" without manmade global warming. Make of it what you will.

Naturally that heat wave had an impact on Arctic sea ice, which over the last couple of weeks has been at a record daily low. 2020 is starting to open up a sizable gap. According to the NSIDC's data the SIE has been lowest since 7/6 and is now 420,000 km2 below its 2nd lowest year of 2011, and according to the Japanese JAXA data this year's SIE is lowest since 7/3 and is 380,000 below their 2nd lowest year, which is last year. 

From the Danish Meteorological Institute:

From JAXA:

My own graph:

and finally, my own graph showing how this year compares to some significant years of the past:

2020 is going to have to still melt strongly if it's to beat 2012's record minimum and build up a sizeable cushion, so when 2012 declined steeply in early August it will have something to ride on.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

New Cases in Peer Countries

From Paul Waldman in the Washington Post:
Here are new case totals from Monday for a few of our peer countries:

France: 580
UK: 564
Spain: 546
Germany: 365
Canada: 299
Japan: 259
Italy: 200
Australia: 158
South Korea: 52

And the United States? 55,300.
No, these aren't per capita. But making them per capita won't make much difference. The US response has been a joke, pathetic, laughable, tragic. Why? Trump. The worst pandemic in a century comes along, and we have Trump. It has to be a cosmic joke.

Trump voters may yet get us all killed. And that's not a joke.

Victory: Trump administration rescinds foreign students rule

Trump admin caves quickly: Trump administration rescinds foreign students rule.

The Hill: "The Trump administration on Tuesday rescinded a policy that would have stripped visas from international students whose courses move exclusively online amid the coronavirus pandemic."

The parties in a lawsuit brought by Harvard and MIT against ICE came to a quick resolution, in which, as far as I can tell, ICE retreated 100%. That was the right thing to do -- this measure was ridiculous and cruel from the start.

Being Forced to Work From Home

Grant Imahara of Mythbusters Has Died

This is terrible: Grant Imahara, a co-host of Mythbusters, has died at the young age of 49. No cause of death has been released yet. The Hollywood Reporter reported that Imahara died of a brain aneurysm. Such a nice guy.

Monday, July 13, 2020

I Have a Blog, and I Must Scream

Just out: June 2020 tied with June 2019 for the warmest June in NASA GISS's records.

People are losing their minds; for some, almost literally: French bus driver beaten to death after asking passengers to wear masks, Oregonian, 7/11/20.

Here a Portland, Oregon protester, who was simply standing across the street with a speaker, was shot in the head by a federal officer with some kind of impact munition. The video is graphic. He is in serious condition, but, last I heard, is now awake with a tube draining blood from his brain.

At least one piece of good news: Today the Washington D.C. area football team will announce they will change their name from the Redskins. (They won't announce the new name today, but have said it won't involve Native American imagery.) Credit the George Floyd and BLM protests.

By the way, seven years ago the Redskins owner, Dan Snyder, said he would never change the name.
"NEVER," Snyder said at the time. "You can use caps."

More insanity: Trump aides "sent reporters opposition-research-style bullet points about Dr. Anthony Fauci." You'd never guess they are on the same team, or that Fauci is his leading infectious disease expert.... As Eric Wemple writes in WaPo (same link):
Fauci’s efforts may have been flawed at times, but by all appearances they were undertaken in good faith. And that’s the cardinal sin here: Since handling a public health emergency in good faith requires a sincere — if sometimes tactful — effort to inform the public about it, this has inevitably put him in Trump’s cross hairs, because it has reflected badly on Trump.
The NY Times wrote:
Mr. Trump has long been dismissive of Dr. Fauci in private, according to White House officials, taking note of the amount of time he spent on television and of when the doctor contradicted him during press briefings.
Trump is afraid of anyone who knows more than him -- which is most people, including all scientists -- so they must go. The pandemic here is spiraling out of control. Trump must go in November, and most people can see through warped maneuvers like this.

This annoying woman is celebrating what she thinks is her little role in getting Orange County, California to drop their face mask mandate. Here is the COVID-19 case history in Orange County, from the LA Times:

Stupid people will get us all killed.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Trailer for "I, Pastafarian"

A recognized new religion. Be sure to stay to the end.

"My Petition For More Space"

I just reread My Petition For More Space by John Hersey, a novel I first read maybe 30 years ago. I guess it would be labeled dystopian sci-fi; it's the story of a man, David Poynter, who lives in a New Haven, Connecticut that is absolutely chock full of people. Like, people walking in the street shoulder-to-shoulder, front-to-back. They live in large, open warehouses, each assigned a space marked by white lines on the floor. Being single, Poynter's space is 7 ft by 11 ft, with no walls; crossing the line, or letting one's possessions cross the line, is severely punished.

Poynter wants to ask the faceless, nameless bureaucracy to give him more space -- an increase to 8 ft by 12 ft. To do this he must enter a petition at an official station, explaining why his petition should be granted. This requires getting in and standing in a long, jam-packed line for several hours with all the other people submitting their own petitions, to change jobs, asking for Havana cigars, asking for permission to have a child. Those in line are also stand shoulder-to-shoulder, chest-to-back, so tightly packed that when one women faints she must be lifted up vertically out of the crowd. There's no reason given why their world is this way, but it seems to be a relatively new state, as Poynter and others can remember when the world was less crowded and more bucolic.

The book twists and turns on the social interactions of those in the multiple lines, whom they can only see by turning their heads or listening to those around them. And the book focuses on Poynter's thoughts, about what he wants and why, how he feels about this world, and how he feels assaulted and demoralized by it, yet still he hopes for change. After several hours of back-and-forth social dynamics even in such a crowd, Poynter finally reaches one of the unseen bureaucrats behind an opaque window and begins to make his case....

It's a quirky book, and not very long (my paperback version is only 160 pages), published in 1974. I definitely recommend it; I appreciated it as much this time as the first time, although of course the shock of it wasn't there. Long ago I also read Hersey's book Hiroshima, which is excellent. Hersey was one of the first western journalists allowed into Hiroshima after the US's nuclear bomb was dropped, and he tells the story of six witnesses to the bombing, in, for then, a new style, applying some techniques of fiction to nonfiction reporting. The New Yorker gave an entire issue to this reporting, and his book then sold three million copies.

COVID-19 Seems to Be Peaking in Some States

It looks like the COVID-19 spikes in some of the worst hit states may be peaking. That would be very good news.

Via today's Washington Post.

In other news, this stupid, ignorant, deathly White House actually made a list of all the times Fauci has been wrong on the coronavirus. You really have to wonder what their priorities are. (Well, you don't have to wonder -- we all know exactly what their priorities are, and it's certainly not containing the pandemic.) Just keep stuffing science in the closet -- look what that's done for us so far.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Pure Corruption

Why did President Trump grant clemency to the guilty Roger Stone? Because Stone had the goods on him on the Russian hacking scandal and threatened to spill them.

David Frum lays out all the details in "Stone Walks Free in One of the Greatest Scandals in American History" in The Atlantic.
Stone was accused of—and convicted of—lying to Congress about his role in the WikiLeaks matter. Since Stone himself would have been in no legal jeopardy had he told the truth, the strong inference is that he lied to protect somebody else. Just today, this very day, Stone told the journalist Howard Fineman why he lied and whom he was protecting. “He knows I was under enormous pressure to turn on him. It would have eased my situation considerably. But I didn’t.” You read that, and you blink. As the prominent Trump critic George Conway tweeted: “I mean, even Tony Soprano would have used only a pay phone or burner phone to say something like this.” Stone said it on the record to one of the best-known reporters in Washington. In so many words, he seemed to imply: I could have hurt the president if I’d rolled over on him. I kept my mouth shut. He owes me.
Read all the rest of the filthy details.

Trump should be impeached over this.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Inspired by Putin?

Trump thinks he gets to decide what universities can and can't think, how they can and can't teach:

This guy's reelection campaign is really floundering....

The US Administration's History on the Pandemic

I'm bringing this out of the comments -- thanks J.D. It's the story of an administration who had tried to minimize and underplay (undercut?) this pandemic at every turn, and as a result the US has handled it worse than almost any other country in the world. It's really hard to believe.

Original source.

National Daily Death Count Rising

Now the daily national death count is rising too. A statistical blip? NYT has more here: "health experts cautioned that it was too early to predict a continuing trend from only a few days of data.... Still, many experts predicted that the declining death tolls were unlikely to last as the virus continued spreading, passing from younger people to older people and those who are more vulnerable to the most dire effects of the virus."

I read recently that Trump hasn't attended a meeting of the Coronavirus Task Force in months. It sounds like he's falling apart.

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Temperatures Are Running Amock

This is really quite something, considering that the El Nino of the past several months was literally almost the smallest that was possible, and that it has now ended, and that the 2015-16 El Nino was huge.

Monday, July 06, 2020

Someone(s) tore down a statue of Frederick Douglass in Rochester, N.Y. Only fair, right?

Jennifer Rubin on the sins of the big red state southern governors (AZ-TX-FL):
The recklessness and incompetence of these governors should outrage not only residents of their own states but Americans everywhere. One thing we have learned is that a runaway pandemic in one or more states imperils all of us. They can hardly claim to be surprised by the predictable result of their arrogant, anti-science approach. Governors who wanted to rev up their economies and chose to ignore warnings about the consequences of their actions are responsible for thousands falling ill and dying. Their economies closed down anyway. Resigning is the least they should do.
An infectious disease specialist said Trump's Fourth of July celebration at Mount Rushmore was "the behavior of a cult leader..."
"...who is jumping off the cliff, except he's jumping off into a safety net where he has protections around him. People around him are being tested. He's being tested on a regular basis. While he asks his followers to jump off a cliff into nothing," she continued. "I mean, this is extremely dangerous behavior and unfortunately, this has become so politicized where you abide by public health and scientific recommendations on the basis of your political beliefs not based on the science. And people are really going to be harmed as a result of this."
Two weeks ago, a Politico/Morning Consult survey asked whether the Pentagon should “rename military bases that are named after Confederate leaders” or “leave the names” as they are. A plurality of voters, 48 percent to 33 percent, said the names should be left alone. Trump’s position was a winner with independents, moderates, and suburbanites. It was also preferred by voters who somewhat disapproved of his job performance or who expressed a somewhat unfavorable opinion of him. In short, it’s an issue he could use to claw his way back into the election.
But read the rest of the article too.

Why (US) health insurance should never have been tied to employment. Great idea in a pandemic, huh!

A paper from a Nobel Laureate, in 1963(!), of why the free market cannot, even in principle, provide affordable, universal health care:
Synopsis: Free markets have never provided affordable, universal health care, anywhere in the world, ever.
And for good reasons: The advantages of a free market system do not apply to health care, because
(1) you cannot predict when you will need care
(2) or what care you will need
(3) you usually can't comparison shop.

Buying health care is not like buying bread. Thus, you need an insurance system. And private insurance systems demand a profit, and a large administrative staff to analyze and deny claims (NOT paying for care is, after all, how they make their money). Private insurers refuse to insure those they think will be too expensive, and drop clients who have become too expensive.
This was pointed out long ago by a famous economist:

"Uncertainty and the Welfare Economics of Medical Care," Kenneth J. Arrow, The American Economic Review, Vol. LIII n 5 (Dec 1963)

For a synopsis you can read:
"Why markets can't cure healthcare," Paul Krugman, New York Times, July 25, 2009.
"Patients are not Consumers," Paul Krugman, New York Times, April 21 2011.

Coal Under Trump And in Campaign 2020

I wonder how coal families are going to vote in November. I'd guess they think they don't have any choice.

In May 2016, during his first campaign, Trump said, in West Virginia
On Thursday, Trump drew wild applause in Charleston, W.Va., by telling miners in hard hats and reflective stripes to get ready to be "working your asses off" in reopened mines if he's elected. Some people waved signs saying, "Trump digs coal," and the business tycoon joked about needing a spritz of hair spray after trying on a miner's helmet, the gift of an industry group. 
"I'm thinking about the miners all over this country," Trump said. "We're gonna put the miners back to work. We're gonna put the miners back to work. We're gonna get those mines open."
Of course, it was just a lie to get votes, as many analysts knew at the time -- that the real reason coal was in decline was because electricity generated from natural gas had become cheaper.

If Trump didn't know that he was incompetent. If he did know it then he was a liar.

This time, Trump's campaigning looks to be too busy being a racist to have time to bother with coal miners. Their numbers hadn't moved at all since Trump's inauguration, and with the pandemic have plummeted:

I guess the pandemic plummet is due to less electricity used by industry, even though there must be more electricity use by households. Though looking at the graph the plummeting here began in the late 2019s, which is consistent with the Trump recession beginning this past February, before the pandemic. 

I don't know how you do this, but US coal miners, in the Appalachians and in Wyoming, need to be made to realize that coal simply isn't come back, due to the economics alone. Plus add climate change on top of that. Coal power is now more expensive than wind and solar too.

Hillary Clinton really did have it right when she said, during her 2016, "we're going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business." It was a mistake, which she admitted later. But, typically, that's all that was quoted and no one went any further. But what she said after that was
"We're going to make it clear that we don't want to forget those people," Clinton said. "Those people labored in those mines for generations, losing their health, often losing their lives to turn on our lights and power our factories. Now we've got to move away from coal and all the other fossil fuels, but I don't want to move away from the people who did the best they could to produce the energy that we relied on."
She wanted to invest in the region -- at one point I think I remember hearing her say $30 billion. That's a lot of money.

I know a regional economy doesn't change easily. I understand it is scary. My dad was in the steel industry near Pittsburgh in the '70s, which was collapsing, and we had to move twice, the first time away from all my extended family and the second time all the way across the country, and those were some of the biggest factors on the shape of my personality, personally. The governor of West Virginia is a billionaire in the coal business, so he's not going to lead them to a new, sustainable future. Trump couldn't lead six baby ducks to a pond of water. Their leaders are failing them, in a manner such that early deaths in Appalachia have, over the decades, surely exceeded deaths from COVID-19. Seems Trump probably doesn't care about either.

Another Hockey Stick Has Been Published

"Holocene global mean surface temperature, a multi-method reconstruction approach," Darrell Kaufman et al, Scientific Data volume 7, Article number: 201 (2020).

It's open access.

I've added it to the list of hockey sticks.

Saturday, July 04, 2020

Las Vegas???

What the hell?
Not a deep fake -- it's in the White House transcript... He makes it sound like it's one of America's greatest accomplishments, not a boring mob-built monument to greed.

Friday, July 03, 2020

June 16, 1996

I found this photo from the archive of the Appalachian Trail Conference, where they keep a photo of all hikers who stop at their headquarters in Harper's Ferry, West Virginia. We -- me and my then-girlfriend Sharon -- passed through on 6/16/1996, after starting the Appalachian Trail in Georgia on 3/6/1996. 995 miles hiked at this point to get to Harper's Ferry. Wow, I was so thin then. (She was thin from the outset.)

My trail name was "Bronco," because I had a case of bronchitis very early on in the hike; her's was "Puddin'," because she'd gather up everyone's boxes of pudding and make one big pot for a party.

Alas, we didn't make it to Maine. I partially tore two ligaments in my ankle in southern Virginia (though a Dr didn't discover that until many years later; a surgery didn't help), and by Massachusetts I couldn't stand the pain anymore and with the swelling could barely lace up my boot, and we got off the trail after hiking 1,483 miles. Still had 677 miles to go, really tough miles through NH and ME. Not completing the full, 2,160 mile hike to Mt Katahdin is still the biggest heartbreak of my life, but the 2/3rds hike was still an unforgettable adventure. Very bittersweet. My ankle never did heal and still hurts today.

How the Big Wheels Handle the Small Things

Here's an interesting article about how Anthony Fauci and five other health specialists handle the ordinary things we are all dealing with -- masks, hair cuts, dinner invitations, cleaning their houses, etc. Of course, they're all big-time professionals so most of them have cleaners who come in, but still it's interesting how they handle it. Fauci does most of his own grocery shopping, for example.

Kudos to the reporter or editor who came up with this excellent article idea.

"How Fauci, 5 other health specialists deal with covid-19 risks in their everyday lives," by Marlene Cimons, Washington Post, July 3, 2020.

My own hair has never been this long before, even in high school. I'm going to start hacking away at it with scissors, I've decided, at least on the sides. It's become a real bird's nest.

What are your problems?

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Cowardly Trump Can't Acknowledge COVID Record

49,000 new COVID-19 cases in the US today. Our cowardly, good-for-nothing, yellow-bellied president doesn't say a word about it.

What a fucking pussy this man is.

Arizona: Everything is Rising, Including Deaths

Link. (Sorry. I can't get this shit stuff to embed right unless I just cut what I want -- too much else often comes along.)

COVID-19 Deaths Rising in Florida, Arizona, and Texas

Bringing this out of the comments, here's a graph from Professor of Child Well-Being at McGill University that shows deaths look to be rising in at 3 of the states were cases have been spiking: Arizona, Florida and Texas:

A Few COVID-19 Notes

"To date, only two Rwandans are known to have died of Covid-19." - Farhad Manjoo, NYT. Rwanda, population 12.3 million.

Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), Tuesday: “We shouldn’t presume that a group of experts somehow knows what’s best.”

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation article (title): “The lessons Canada can take from the U.S.’s mishandling of Covid-19.”

Here's a graph from the CBC article.

If you adjust for populations, the current values would be

Arizona   9,000
Florida   7,800
Texas   3,400
California   2,500
New York   570

and the peak for New York in early April would be about 9,800.

From the Financial Times, via Twitter, showing why the EU is keeping Americans out (Update, 3 hours later - the US has denied EU citizens entry since March):

Donald Trump could not care less; he only wants someone to blame. And I do mean, he really couldn't care less. When is the last time he even mentioned the pandemic and 125,000 127,485 Americans dead? He will be remembered no better than a president who hid in the closet when foreign troops landed on our shores and invaded the country.