Saddam Hussein and Donald Trump have a key area in common. Saddam didn't want to cooperate with the UN weapons inspectors, because he feared a public finding that he didn't have weapons of mass destruction: his ability to intimidate enemies would be gone. Donald Trump didn't want to cooperate with the wealth inspectors -- the Internal Revenue Service -- because he feared a public finding that he didn't have any wealth (as the New York Times tax returns revelations show). His ability to impress signifier-susceptible voters would be gone (James Poniewozik wrote a book about this).
Friday, September 25, 2020
Back in March and April, when there was a lot of bewilderment about the coronavirus, Tomás Pueyo introduced the vivid terminology of The Hammer and the Dance for the sequence that would be needed to get the pandemic under control. Even if the prescription was never exactly followed, it's a useful way to describe a cluster of severe measures early on, and then a more protracted phase of adjustments after that. Pueyo has now written a New York Times sequel calling for a "fence" -- based on the apparent movement of the virus from country to country and around cities and counties within a country. So if we restrict these kinds of movements, we restrict the virus.
Maybe. But consider the following. We're now almost 10 months into the pandemic. The virus is everywhere. When we see new infection surges, these aren't infection surges from travel. They're local surges from social activity, aggravated by non-compliance with social distancing. The "fence" would have to be within a city to be effective, and there have to be at least a minimal consensus about what behaviour needs to be restricted on the infected side of the fence, and how this would be enforced (Madrid clearly lacks both at the moment).
The ultra environmentalist mantra -- "we are the virus" -- is true. There is no possible fence, except the one that magically moves around with us, the zone corresponding to social distancing. But social distancing became uncool in June. And there seems to be little willingness to adopt it again, across all age groups. It's going to be a long winter.
Thursday, September 24, 2020
Wednesday, September 23, 2020
There are many odd aspects to the "Kent Access Permit" revelation in the House of Commons today, although whether it's actually surprising depends on how much attention you were paying to "experts" about Brexit. But among the odd things: Michael Gove didn't even mention the permit in his opening statement. It was only revealed as part as a response to a follow-up question from Damian Green:
Damian Green (Ashford) (Con) I can assure my right hon. Friend that the so-called Saxon wall on the Ashford site is in fact a myth: it is not Saxon and it is not holding up work. The prospect of 7,000 trucks queuing to cross the channel will send a chill through my constituents, because we know the disastrous effect that has on all the roads in Kent. I very much support my right hon. Friend in his work to prepare the road haulage industry for the end of the transition period, but may I ask about the Government’s own preparations and specifically the smart freight system that he mentioned, which is essential for the smooth running of traffic across the channel? Can he give a guarantee that that system will be fully up and running and operational from January?
Michael Gove My right hon. Friend makes a number of very important points, and I am grateful to him for clearing up the point about archaeology, which I failed to address in my response to the hon. Member for Leeds West (Rachel Reeves), but his expertise in this area is greater. My right hon. Friend is absolutely right that we want to avoid the level of congestion that this reasonable worst-case scenario sets out, and he is also absolutely right that that requires people to work together. It requires not just the haulage industry, but in particular those goods exporters who commit goods to haulage to be ready in time. Part of that is the smart freight system, which has been developed and is being shared with business. We want to make sure that people use a relatively simple process to get what will become known as a Kent access permit, which means that they can then proceed smoothly through Kent because they have the material required. If they do not have the material required, through policing, ANPR cameras and other means, we will do our very best to ensure that his constituents are not inconvenienced.
Tuesday, September 22, 2020
From Studies in World Christianity / Volume 25, Issue 3 / The Origins of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in the United States: Early Developments in Indiana and Michigan and the Reactions of the Ecclesiastical Authorities by Valentina Ciciliot --
In the spring of 1973, Fr Michel Dubois, a priest from Belgium, was introduced to The Word of God charismatic community in Ann Arbor, Michigan, as someone who had come from Europe to experience the Catholic charismatic renewal in person. He stayed with community members in their homes, attended prayer meetings, met with a variety of small groups and participated in seminars. Only at the end of his approximately five-day visit did he reveal to everyone his true identity: Cardinal Léon Joseph Suenens, archbishop of Malines–Brussels and primate of Belgium, and one of the four moderators of Vatican II. Few in the community knew who he was, and his plan for anonymity worked well enough that he was able to have a personal encounter with this new movement in the US, known at that time as Catholic Pentecostalism (later it was widely known as the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, hereafter CCR).Why, you ask, is the proprietor of this blog looking up this kind of stuff? Because while Republicans seem to be trying to bait Democrats into making Amy Coney Barrett's Catholicism an issue, it's the charismatic part that's going to be interesting if that ends up as a line of questioning.
Friday, September 18, 2020
On the occasion of the New Year, I wish Iranian—and indeed all—Jews happiness, and most of all, good health.— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) September 17, 2020
The children of Adam, Abraham and Moses are siblings who deserve to live in a real democratic peace—not business deal. Our proposal has been #Referendum.
L'Shana Tova! pic.twitter.com/aHA8FCKiFs
Saturday, September 12, 2020
We are where the WHO feared back in February that we would be if widespread mask-wearing became a major plank of pandemic strategy: masks have a become a substitute, not a complement, for other pandemic precautions formerly known as social distancing. Public health measures have targeted the more obvious non-distancing arenas (e.g. restaurants) but all sorts of social consumption and social leisure activities have popped up in their place -- not to mention the Veblen intersection of those two activities: conspicuous consumption.
"But we're wearing masks!"
Hope you're all geared up for a winter of home-schooling.
Saturday, September 05, 2020
"If you go to nonurban areas, there's amazing talent hanging out," she said.
Friday, September 04, 2020
Saturday, August 22, 2020
Thursday, August 20, 2020
The former House speaker will serve as chairman of a vehicle known as Executive Network Partnering Corp., which will seek to raise roughly $300 million in an initial public offering, people familiar with the deal said. That figure is subject to change based on demand.
Sunday, August 16, 2020
Friday, August 14, 2020
Donald Trump, explaining his breakthrough agreement with the UAE and Israel yesterday --
This deal will allow much greater access to Muslims from throughout the world to visit the many historic sites in Israel — which the Muslims want to see very badly and have wanted to see for many, many decades — and to peacefully pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is a very special place for them.
There is lots for Palestinians to worry about in this deal, but this particular point is up there. If Israel is able to present the deal as broadening access of Muslims to Al-Aqsa, that could be a useful distraction from the restricted access of Palestinians to Al-Aqsa. Ultimately, it could be a front for isolating the Palestinian capital behind the security barrier: after all, Muslims will have more access to the Old City, right?
Tuesday, August 11, 2020
Niklas Luhmann, The Reality of the Mass Media (1996) --
I wish it were possible to get TV news to pay as much attention to what Trump does as to what Trump says. https://t.co/e55vyRszEM— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) August 11, 2020
Sunday, August 09, 2020
Saturday, August 08, 2020
Lebanon National News Agency --
the Iranian ambassador said that "the support of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Lebanon will continue, not only through the provision of humanitarian aid in terms of medicine, medicine and foodstuffs, but also will include the restoration of Reconstruction in the port, the damaged buildings, and everything that can be provided to support the people and the government in Lebanon. "
Friday, August 07, 2020
Tuesday, August 04, 2020
Sunday, August 02, 2020
Tuesday, July 28, 2020
Saturday, July 25, 2020
Friday, July 24, 2020
Monday, July 20, 2020
Sunday, July 19, 2020
Saturday, July 18, 2020
Friday, July 17, 2020
Saturday, July 11, 2020
Friday, July 10, 2020
Tuesday, July 07, 2020
Saturday, July 04, 2020
Friday, July 03, 2020
Saturday, June 27, 2020
Friday, June 26, 2020
Wednesday, June 24, 2020
Thursday, June 18, 2020
That's the New York Times print edition for 17 June. Someone maybe realized that with the original decree powers having been proclaimed by elites as the end of democracy in Hungary, a headline saying that the end of the decree period was the end of democracy might be a stretch. So the current web headline is Hungary Moves to End Rule by Decree, but Orban’s Powers May Stay.
Sunday, June 14, 2020
Friday, June 12, 2020
Sunday, June 07, 2020
Saturday, June 06, 2020
This is simple textbook regression to the mean fallacy. With randomness in the data, high observations are more likely -- purely for probabilistic reasons -- to be followed by lower ones, and low observations to be followed by high ones.
That's part of why the national numbers have looked pretty good even though there are a lot of states to be worried about. The numbers tend to be either high but falling, or low but rising—but not many places where they're high and rising.— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) June 5, 2020
Friday, June 05, 2020
Wednesday, June 03, 2020
What person who lived in New York City any time between 1980 and 2015 believes that Donald Trump is a man of devout faith deeply concerned with people's attending religious service?— James Poniewozik (@poniewozik) May 22, 2020
Saturday, May 30, 2020
I believe that the perpetrators of this inhumane act shall receive the punishment they deserve. We will be monitoring the issue. I remember with respect George Floyd and extend my condolences to his family and loved ones.— Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (@RTErdogan) May 28, 2020
|Photo illustration from Bild of what's possible under Germany Coronavirus restrictions.|
Monday, May 25, 2020
Saturday, May 23, 2020
Feel like there's a bit too much talk in the media about how much spread of COVID is growing or shrinking (R) and not enough about *levels*. Both are important. Sustaining a plateau (R=~1) can be a disaster if the level of cases is high. Or a pretty decent outcome if it's low.— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) May 23, 2020
Friday, May 22, 2020
Wednesday, May 20, 2020
Tuesday, May 19, 2020
Monday, May 18, 2020
Sunday, May 17, 2020
Saturday, May 16, 2020
Friday, May 15, 2020
Saturday, May 09, 2020
Friday, May 08, 2020
Thursday, May 07, 2020
This tweet and the associated thread is such a perfect variation of the famous statistical fallacy. Silver looks at a change in cases and relates them to the initial level, inserts some semi-causal views about why the levels vary, and then declares that there is a group in the middle that's "stuck." Once average, always average.
One observation related to this:— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) May 6, 2020
States that have seen clear declines in new cases tend *either* to have had either a LOT of cases early on (e.g. NY, LA) or very FEW cases (e.g. MT, HI). The states in the middle (e.g. MD/VA) aren't seeing much, if any, decline, conversely. https://t.co/NhLUwFu0sF
Monday, May 04, 2020
They were an issue in Ireland up to the early 1980s. In some houses, they probably still are an issue.
Anyway, Ireland (thankfully) has several cohorts that have never had to think about chilblains. Until now.
They are a mysterious Coronavirus symptom in some cases (New York Times).
Sunday, May 03, 2020
What does this photograph show?
If your lens on the world is social media in western Europe or North America -- also known as the Valley of the Squinting Tweeters -- it shows too many people and too large groups in a park on a sunny Coronavirus-era day.
What it actually shows in people in Jamwon Hangang Park in the megacity of Seoul. And as the associated Yonhap story comments, they are complying with social distancing. Koreans -- with major success in mitigating Coronavirus and a tradition of messaging about responsible behavior (Robocar Poli!) see an orderly scene in the photograph. But change the caption to a western city, and someone will be along soon enough to declare evidence that no one is complying with social distancing. The reality of social media.
Saturday, May 02, 2020
Al Qaeda in the Upper Peninsula.Directly above me, men with rifles yelling at us. Some of my colleagues who own bullet proof vests are wearing them. I have never appreciated our Sergeants-at-Arms more than today. #mileg pic.twitter.com/voOZpPYWOs— Senator Dayna Polehanki (@SenPolehanki) April 30, 2020
Thursday, April 30, 2020
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited Syria today and met with Bashar al-Assad while seated next to the commander of Russian forces in Syria, Lieutenant General Alexander Chayko. Shoigu received a Su-35S fighter escort during his flight. 241/https://t.co/4xUsaEpc9P pic.twitter.com/XazclI3LKm— Rob Lee (@RALee85) March 23, 2020
Sunday, April 26, 2020
Why did Donald Trump have the Nobel Prize on his mind when his tweet-storm today seems like a reference to the Pulitzer Prize, not the "Noble" Prize?Just spoke to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali of Ethiopia. His Country needs Ventilators, and the U.S. is in good position to help him. We will!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 25, 2020
One possibility -- and at the risk of looking for too empirical an explanation: because yesterday, he phoned the current holder of the Nobel Peace Price, Abiy Ahmed, the PM of Ethiopia. Trump is obsessed with this prize, at least back to Barack Obama getting it. And the wires got crossed between his briefing for his Addis Ababa phone call yesterday and his rage today.
Out with Bourgeois Bohemian, In with Preppy Proletarian: The Kim Yo-jong Style Guide
Running the Workers Party by Day, Magic in the Kitchen in the evening: Kim Yo-jong's scallion pancake recipe
Dennis Rodman: that time I was at a reception with Kim Yo-jong
From Swiss Chic to Hanoi Hipster: Our travel reporter follows the footsteps of Kim Yo-jong
Game of Thrones Gangnam Style: How Kim Yo-jong outmaneuvered the generals to secure the legacy of her beloved brother
Outrage as Kim Yo-jong accused of "cultural appropriation" over K-pop themed promotional video
Marie Kondo: what we can learn about home organization from Kim Yo-jong
(continues until next 50,000 notch in Covid-19 fatalities)
The White House statement on the "meeting on the Elbe" (the handshake of American and Soviet troops at the river in 1945) is fascinating. Given the current state of USA - Russia relations, it will be read for every clue of influence. Particularly interesting is the pivot from the front lines to the workers --
We also recognize the contributions from millions of men and women on the home front, who forged vast quantities of war materials for use around the world. Workers and manufacturers played a crucial role in supplying the allied forces with the tools necessary for victory.
It's the hammer and sickle -- without the sickle. Where are the Great Patriot Farmers?
Saturday, April 25, 2020
Friday, April 24, 2020
THE PRESIDENT: Right. And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning. Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it would be interesting to check that. So, that, you’re going to have to use medical doctors with. But it sounds — it sounds interesting to me.
Tuesday, April 21, 2020
Defined as rule by a class associated with the Spectator (UK) Magazine.
Usage spotted in Robert Shrimsley's excellent discussion (Financial Times) of how the Covid-19 choices are getting embedded in the UK's version of the culture war:
... a claque of the government’s media outriders clustered around the Spectator magazine, an outfit whose diaspora also includes Boris Johnson, the UK prime minister, and his chief strategist, Dominic Cummings. One lockdown sceptic, Toby Young, a Gove ally and associate editor at the magazine, has set up a website to argue that the lives saved are being overvalued and the costs understated. Both Mr Johnson and Mr Cummings are less hawkish and worry premature easing may lead to a second peak and more economic damage. But the instincts of the Spectocracy are often aligned and find favour with this government.
Monday, April 20, 2020
Iran's Coronavirus crisis is so urgent and requires so much focus and relief from other countries that ... emoji condolence guy, foreign minister Javad Zarif, has time to visit Bashar al-Assad today.
At least there's more social distancing in this photo than during the late-March visit to Bashar of the Russian Minister of Defence Sergei Shoigu.
How did the Coronavirus get to Moscow anyway?
Photo via Fars. Note: it's not clear why Fars published some photos featuring no masks and some with masks.
Saturday, April 18, 2020
Friday, April 17, 2020
Such ties created a risk that the Russian intelligence services deliberately planted misinformation in Mr. Steele’s network. Complicating matters, however, is that Mr. Steele was trying to understand what Russian intelligence services were doing with regard to the Trump campaign. He would seemingly need his sources to be in contact with people with connections to those services or the Kremlin who were in a position to know what was going on.
In other words, the Steele dossier was raw intelligence. He was talking to people, shady people who knew other shady people, writing down what they said, presenting an assessment of it -- but it was up to others to draw conclusions from the layers of shadiness.
The problem is that his approach presumed patience, and instead it got short-circuited, with upstream intelligence work finding its way directly into the public domain.
This is not a new problem.
In 2002, upstream intelligence on Saddam Hussein's possible WMD program found its way to Dick Cheney.
In 2013-14, upstream intelligence on Libyan Islamist groups found its way to House Republicans looking for dirt on Hillary Clinton.
And now, in 2020, upstream intelligence on Chinese research labs and its late 2019 public health situation is finding its way to the media, and in turn feeding an (understandable!) hope among liberals that it can be used against Trump.
The problem with the last approach should be evident with the previous three instances. Upstream and raw intelligence and surveillance is all about indirect information, informed speculation, and tentative assessments. It's not designed for instant conclusions. If there were instant conclusions, you wouldn't need the analysts in the first place.
Any attempt on a China Knew Therefore Trump Knew "scandal" is not going to end well. It will be a circus of operatives, memos, "leaked" reports, opportunists, grifters, insta-experts, and cranks.
Saturday, April 11, 2020
“Obviously a lot more people are home all day,” Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokesman Peter Golkin told ARLnow. “They’re cleaning out more than usual, listening to their inner Marie Kondo as they stare at the walls and what’s piled up in front of them. They should indulge themselves with the couch and ARLnow and a few books and put off the big clean-ups for a few months.”
[Previously in this series]
Wednesday, April 08, 2020
Monday, April 06, 2020
Sunday, April 05, 2020
The Munich Security Conference took place during 14-16 February 2020. This is one of the biggest ground-truthing, thought-leading, direction-of-travel setting, VIP blabbing events of the year. Even emoji condolence guy, Javad Zarif, was there!
Although everyone's talking points had Cover-der-Arsch references to Coronavirus, the virus was discussed as a mainly China issue that would pose risks if it escalated elsewhere.
In fact, the virus had by then taken root in northern Italy -- with a respectable theory out there that Patient Zero for the Italian outbreak actually occurred in ... Munich in January. Bonus idiocy: Zarif was there yukking it up with the media when the virus was rampant in Iran!
But maybe it's not fair just to focus on the pretty vacant thought leaders at one Munich conference.
Eventually we will get some accountability on the pandemic, at least in terms of who knew what and when. And in that accountability, the decision of European countries to allow the Alpine ski season to continue all through February is going to look like total madness.
It takes a huge level of cognitive dissonance to know that the virus was in northern Italy, and yet not wonder whether it might already be all over the Alpine regions, with hundreds of thousands of ski vacationers, including school children, passing through the regions -- regions that also happen to be Europe's economic heartland. Far more than attendees at one or two sporting events, which get all the media attention because they are easier to focus on, this was a critical phase of the transmission.
With this level of haven't-a-clue leadership in Western Europe, is it any wonder that no one is getting too agitated about Viktor Orban?
Photo: MSC Müller.
Saturday, April 04, 2020
Friday, April 03, 2020
The new economic situation, in which the game is to anticipate events at every turn and at every level, using the interval between the present and the coming events as if this interval were a tangible thing, this new situation in comparison with the older nuts-and-bolts economy presents a contrast somewhat similar to the "old journalism" and the "new journalism." The old journalism had aimed at the objectivity by "giving both sides at once." The new journalism seeks, rather, to immerse the reader in the total situation, using the resources of imaginative fiction to provide a multileveled experience.The new journalism is quite prepared to urge that "news" is necessarily a form of fiction or making. In the same way, the new economy is based on information and gaps and promises, and precisely to the degree that the new economy is based on the simultaneous, it fosters, invites,demands the rule of the anticipatory, the role of the hunter that the blow must strike where the quarry will be.