Bonus points for the NHS-bashing.
Image: screen capture 3.25pm before the hideous Pay-for-Outrage flash page takes over.
Bonus points for the NHS-bashing.
Image: screen capture 3.25pm before the hideous Pay-for-Outrage flash page takes over.
The New York Times article today about the unfolding process of realization in China a year ago about Coronavirus as the political instinct clashed with the scientific is interesting and has some new details. But in substance, it's very close to a lengthy Financial Times investigation from over 2 months ago. The FT article also involved some riskier local reporting, as a note at the end indicates. And both articles agree that there is a critical 2 weeks in the middle of January where President Xi is missing in action, which may also be the critical 2 weeks in scaling the virus up to a pandemic.
There are a growing number of countries saying something along the lines of: we have found Covid-19 infections traceable to travel from the UK and the new variant therein (VUI – 202012/01, B.1.1.7 lineage). Such a country is therefore admitting or claiming one or more of the following:
If you believe all that, we're glad 2020 hasn't crushed your optimism.
UPDATE 29 December: If you want a model of the opposite of the above sloppiness ("we found the UK variant in a cluster with someone recently arrived from the UK!"), it's the press release issued by the office of the Governor of Colorado today, describing the first case of the variant in his state. It uses the scientific name for the variant, never refers to it as the "British" or "UK" variant (only that it's the same variant), notes the absence of any travel history of the victim, and precisely describes the test.
Or, the Beatles and their subsequent individual careers -- a Brexit-themed playlist. We've posted a few of these selections before, but the ideas keep accumulating! Links to Youtube. Chosen for their unintended topicality, lyrics about England's place in the world, intimations of sudden change, and spasms of doubt.
Helen Wheels (Paul McCartney and Wings)
Goodnight Vienna (Ringo Starr)
Awaiting on You All (George Harrison)
Cold Turkey (John Lennon / Plastic Ono band)
Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey (Paul McCartney)
Give Ireland back to the Irish (Paul McCartney)
God (John Lennon)
Page 535 (underline added) --
With respect to Investment liberalisation – National treatment and Regulatory framework for Legal services – Obligations: The EU: Treatment granted pursuant to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union to legal persons formed in accordance with the law of the Union or of a Member State and having their registered office, central administration or principal place of business within the Union, including those established in the Union by investors of the United Kingdom, is not accorded to legal persons established outside the Union, nor to branches or representative offices of such legal persons, including to branches or representative offices of legal persons of the United Kingdom. Treatment less favourable may be accorded to legal persons formed in accordance with the law of the European Union or of a Member State which have only their registered office in the Union, unless it can be shown that they possess an effective and continuous link with the economy of one of the Member States.
That seems highly significant for companies established in Northern Ireland and doing business in the Republic.
Winston Churchill in the House of Commons, 16 February 1922 --
Then came the great War. Every institution, almost, in the, world was strained. Great Empires have been overturned. The whole map of Europe has been changed. The position of countries has been violently altered. The modes of thought of men, the whole outlook on affairs, the grouping of parties, all have encountered violent and tremendous changes in the deluge of the world, but as the deluge subsides and the waters fall short we see the dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone emerging once again. The integrity of their quarrel is one of the few institutions that has been unaltered in the cataclysm which has swept the world.
Of course, this is a too-much cited quote and it's Churchill in his cranky reactionary Unionist phase. But ... he had a point, and if you change his reference from World War 1 to the pandemic and change Fermanagh and Tyrone to just about anything, he has a point again.
Example: Twitter is apparently outraged, again, that Gal Gadot is Israeli. And that Man U "dropped points" against Leicester. And some other third thing.
The speed with which people want to get back to regular aggro service, with the pandemic still raging, is amazing.
There is a contradiction at the heart of the deal. In the outline of the deal that has been made available -- not the deal itself -- there are several references to how what has been agreed between the UK and the EU is better than in any other trade deal.
Which may be true.
In which case, the challenge of Brexit becomes even clearer. Because, if this deal is so much deeper than any other trade deal out there, then it's going to be impossible for the UK to conclude a trade deal with another partner which compensates for the market access that it has lost by leaving the Single Market and switching to a free trade deal -- as good as it is - with the EU.
What other country or regional club, without the history of close integration with the UK, will be willing to grant a similar deal?
Scene: The English camp on the M20 in Kent, bound for #Dover or #Folkestone, and on to France.
O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do work from home today!
KING HENRY V
What's he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin:
If we are mark'd to tariff, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to trade,
The fewer goods, the greater share of quotas.
God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Gove, I am not covetous for turbot,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires:
But if it be a sin to covet control,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England:
God's peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more, methinks, would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this traffic jam,
Let him depart; his passport shall be blue
And euros for convoy put into his purse:
We would not wait in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to be stuck with us.
This day is called the feast of No Deal Brexit:
He that outlives this day, and comes home ever,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of BROCK.
He that shall live this day, and see old age pension,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is No Deal Brexit:'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his Kent Access Permit.
And say 'This paperwork I had on No Deal Brexit day.'
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember with advantages
What lay-by feats he did that day: then shall our names.
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Boris the king, Gove and Dominic,
Priti and Nigel, Rishi and Arlene,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember'd.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And No Deal Brexit Day shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of lorry drivers;
For he to-day that looks for the nearest toilet with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That queued with us upon No Deal Brexit day.
1. The Hatch Act is suddenly being enforced: White House staff couldn't work on the campaign post-election legal strategy.
2. The Trump campaign is flat broke and most campaign staff and contractors are wondering if they'll get paid -- no one there available to help (example). So ..
3. Rudy was on his own. He asked an intern to find a venue. Rudy hasn't seen Philadelphia other than through a limousine window in 25 years, so he remembered that there was a Four Seasons on the Parkway at 18th Street, with a parking area and overhang facing the Parkway. And he wasn't going to spend the money on a hotel function room. So he decided to gamble on showing up at the hotel and having the news conference either right outside, or if asked to move, he would go to Logan Square across the street, either of which would convey the needed degree of "classiness."
4. So he told the intern, give everyone the address for the news conference as the Four Seasons Philadelphia, the one in the city near I-95. Make sure it's the address rather than the name of the hotel, since we haven't arranged anything directly with the hotel.
5. The intern had never been to Philadelphia, Googled the description, and found what looked like a Four Seasons fitting the description. Especially as, since the Four Seasons is no longer in the original location, the intern would have been stumped by how Rudy described it (it's now called The Logan Hotel). Rudy wouldn't know it, but the Four Seasons has moved to the new Comcast tower (the Technology Center) a few blocks away. A short distance, but no longer fitting the description on the Parkway, across from Logan Square.
6. At some point, they realized the mistake, but before they could reverse course, Trump had mistakenly tweeted the hotel as the venue, and they knew it would be be obvious they were trying to get access to a hotel grounds without paying. So they toughed it out.
UPDATE: Whatever about the facts of what happened, you won't read a better cultural analysis of the event than in the Financial Times by Joy Lo Dico.
How it startedHow it's going
Everyone probably has their own version of how an unexpected election outcome merely confirms their existing opinions. So with that pinch of salt, our existing opinion: Pundits and pollsters have failed to grapple with the role of polarization in elections, and especially the role of elections in driving polarization.
Would Americans have been as polarized by Coronavirus if it was not an election year?
The fact that pollsters have now major misses two USA presidential elections in a row is a warning sign that should be familiar to social scientists -- you think you are undertaking a statistically scientific estimate of some fixed underlying parameter, but the very circumstance that makes you want to estimate that number is also causing that number to be fluid!
Another way to say this. Pollsters and polling analysts (one in particular) tend to think about "news" as something that causes a measurable shift in opinion. But there is no plausible "news" that explains what is emerging in the election outcome. It is more that the election result is itself news about the level of polarization.
To be slightly more technical, polarization is endogenous. It can't be measured by polling, because the polling is correlated with a cause of polarization.
Spurs boss Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports (after win over Brighton) via BBC sport:
First of all it's three points. When teams with more power and history, one of the top six let's say, has a difficult match against the others it is always analysed as the top team not playing well. It is time to give credit to these guys. Not just to Brighton, the majority of the teams. They are getting better, they are very well coached, the difference in quality of players between the teams is not huge. The game is very difficult for us, we beat a good team and it was very difficult.
If he's correct -- and we think he is -- then much of what dominates analysis of the Premier League is a total waste of time. The tendency to view the "Top 6" versus any other team in terms of "dropped points," "slip-up," calls for the head of the manager, etc is a relic. The teams are close in quality. The edge is a bit of skill and a bit of luck, not some business as usual from the Alex Ferguson days.
This morning on CNN's State of the Union with Jake Tapper, interviewee is White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows --
MEADOWS: ... your Web site is talking about, well, now we think the spread is coming from small social groups and family groups. First, it was large groups. Now it's small groups. Now... (CROSSTALK) TAPPER: It's coming from all sorts of places. It's coming from all sorts of places, because the pandemic is out of control.
MEADOWS: That's exactly the point. So, here's what we have to do. We're not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation areas... (CROSSTALK)
TAPPER: Why aren't we going to get control of the pandemic?
MEADOWS: Because it is a contagious virus. Just like the flu, it's contagious.
With full credit to Jake Tapper for getting and pursuing the key quote "We're not going to control the pandemic" -- there's nothing about the federal government Coronavirus strategy in that quote that we did not already know. Trump has said as much on multiple occasions, and it could discerned from actions, or the lack thereof.
But, if the same statement had come from Meadows in a "leak," "tape," or similar format that would have lent itself to the screaming headline "REVEALED" treatment, it would be massive "news." While a factual statement to this effect is simply another hour in the news cycle.
The divergence of meaning of plain English statements depending on whether or not the statements are seen as political is bizarre, and has itself been part of syndrome that made Coronavirus worse than it had to be.
Steve Bannon has managed to get himself back into the US politics legacy and social media slipstream, while on bail for fraud charges, through an interview that he gave to that widely watched American news outfit ... Sky News Australia. In other words, a platform that has no distribution in the USA, and an interview that took place during the sleeping hours of most of the USA. But of course, it's that Bannon guy who's doing what looks a TV interview somewhere with an outfit that has "news" in its name, and the polarization-industrial complex has been stuck for material this weekend -- so it's News!
Janan Ganesh in the Saturday Financial Times, with an innovative redeployment of the famous Yeats poem --
The falcon can hear the falconer, it seems.
His underlying argument: the media exaggerate the degree of dissent about more restrictive Covid-19 public health measures.
As if millions of hipsters suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced:Wall Street Journal on the restaurant industry restructuring -- Yet many other chains say now is a time to get more aggressive. Olive Garden’s parent, Darden Restaurants Inc., is looking into expanding in urban areas including Manhattan where rents were previously too expensive to justify growth.
Palestine News Agency (WAFA) --
President of the State of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas, today, Saturday, congratulated the Chairman of the Labor Party, Chairman of the State Affairs Committee of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, Marshal Kim Jong Un, on the anniversary of the founding of the Korean Labor Party. In his telegram, [Abbas] valued the long-standing historical supportive role that the Korean Labor Party plays for the peoples who struggle for freedom and independence, and on top of that is its support for our people's legitimate struggle for freedom, independence and sovereignty over our Palestinian land, with East Jerusalem as its capital. The president expressed his confidence in President Jong Un's supportive stances towards the achievement of this noble goal, wishing the existing historical friendship between the two countries and two peoples and his party further development and advancement.
Deputy national security adviser Matt Pottinger, who oversees the National Security Council, was among the earliest and most consistent mask wearers in the White House. He was previously mocked behind his back by some staffers for wearing a mask at work, one person familiar with the matter said.
Actually it's the 1751 print Gin Lane by William Hogarth. But the print and its context is a good representation of the incredulity of the behaviour at the White House this day last week, and indeed for the months since the pandemic started.
Transferred from en.wikipedia; transferred to Commons by User:NotFromUtrecht using CommonsHelper.
This was the warning sign. This day last week, the White House sent a special flight to South Bend to pick up the Barrett family and take them to the White House for a day of events related to the Supreme Court nomination. The ceremony and the optics were being prioritized -- during a pandemic. Touchdown Jesus became Touchdown Coronavirus.
A military Special Air Mission flight landed in South Bend this morning from Joint Base Andrews.https://t.co/p9SIf6L84H— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) September 26, 2020
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).
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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?
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
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. "
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.
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
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
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.|
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