BRIEFLY NOTED: For 2021-05-12 We; + A Guess at the State of þe Plague in India, & þe Right-Wing Long Con
Things that went whizzing by that I want to remember...
A Snippet from a Dialogue: The Current Plague in India:
Axiothea: How much worse are things in India than the statistics the Indian government is reporting say?
Parmenides: We do think that here in the United States we have had 900,000 rather than 600,000 deaths—out of a total caseload of perhaps 60 million, perhaps 120 million. How bad are things in India right now, really? And how bad are they going to get?
Aesclepius: We do not know. We guess that true plague deaths are between three and eight times officially recorded deaths. And we guess that India is only halfway through this current plague wave.
Axiothea: If so, note that India currently is at 200 reported deaths per million—say the true number is 1000, 0.1% of the population, and it is going to double before this wave is through. With a population of 1.4 billion, that would be 3 million dead by the time this wave ebbs…
The Right-Wing Short Con:
With America’s right wing, it is always, always the grift. Always:
Paul Campos: Josh Hawley, Grifter: ‘I clicked on the link so you don’t have to, and discovered that my $75 contribution will keep happening every month automatically unless I unclick an already helpfully checked box that makes my contribution recurring. Also too unless I unclick another already clicked box I will make yet another $75 contribution on May 15th, to help stem the yellow red black brown tide of Joe Biden’s and Chuck Schumer’s and Nancy Pelosi’s Radical Left agenda. As always, Rick Perlstein’s now nine-year-old essay on the Long Con remains essential reading, although I suspect Sen. Hawley himself is strictly short-time, as they say in the rackets…
Charles Goodhart: Less Lower for Longer; More Higher and Sooner <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFGQ_4msKUA>:
Very Briefly Noted:
German Lopez: Health Experts: Vaccinated People Can Relax About Their Covid–19 Risk Now. Really: ‘I asked health experts about their post-vaccination lives. Most no longer worry about their own risk of Covid–19… <https://www.vox.com/22423098/covid-19-vaccine-coronavirus-protection-herd-immunity>
Michael Lovell, Robert Lucas, Dale Mortensen, Robert Shiller, & Neil Wallace: Rational Expectations: Retrospect and Prospect<https://web.archive.org/web/20150314233047/http://hope.econ.duke.edu/sites/default/files/Rational%20Expectations%20Panel%20_30%20May%202011_.pdf>
Charlie Jane Anders: What Samuel Johnson Can Teach Us About Separating Art from the Artist <https://buttondown.email/charliejane/archive/what-samuel-johnson-can-teach-us-about-separating/>
Paul Krugman: What a Blue State Really Gets Wrong: ‘Blue states can do fine while raising money from the rich, [but] they do a lot of harm by preventing the construction of new housing for ordinary people… <https://messaging-custom-newsletters.nytimes.com/template/oakv2?>
Jeet Heer: Never Trump or Forever Trump?: ‘The history of Jacksonian democracy certainly suggests that epiphanies of enlightenment are rare. A major party committed to demagogic authoritarian racism can persist for decades. The small dissident forces inside the GOP adopted the slogan “Never Trump.” We need to prepare for the opposite possibility: Forever Trump…. For those of us not running for office, there is no need to make feel-good predictions. It’s better to have a clear-eyed view of reality, free of consoling illusions. Those opposed to Trumpism need to steel themselves for a long war… <https://jeetheer.substack.com/p/never-trump-or-forever-trump>
Robert Solow (1956): A Contribution to the Theory of Economic Growth <http://piketty.pse.ens.fr/files/Solow1956.pdf>
Patrick Iber: Ungrading <https://twitter.com/PatrickIber/status/1391777253852393476>
Thomas Piketty & Gabriel Zucman: Capital Is Back<http://piketty.pse.ens.fr/capitalisback>
Patrick Iber: Syllabus: Modern Latin America <https://patrickiber.org/ 2021/01/05/syllabus-modern-latin-america-2021/>
Glenn Fleishman: ‘[Swenson’s] book… is an explanation of all the strategies to avoid and advice on “meeting” not beating the market… a regularly rebalanced mix of Vanguard funds to avoid high fees… <https://twitter.com/GlennF/status/1391776996342997001>
Daniel Larison: How Can Iran ‘Re-Enter’ an Agreement That It Never Left?: ‘There isn’t going to be a subsequent agreement, and insisting that there has to be one is a good way to make sure that we lose the agreement that already exists… <https://daniellarison.substack.com/p/how-can-iran-re-enter-an-agreement>
Roy Edroso: It’s like they speak a secret language—one I’m not even sure their subscribers speak: The Washington Times: "NEWS ALERT: Americans eager for ‘revenge travel’ battered by speed bumps: Americans eager to travel are running into rising gas prices, ever-shifting travel rules, and a shortage of foreign workers who fill seasonal jobs at U.S. parks and resorts…
Paul Campos: The Significance of the Liz Cheney Auto-da-fe: ‘The tiny remaining remnant of genuine Never Trump conservatives is pointing out that there’s something happening here, and what it is is precisely clear…. The new GOP consensus [is] that, going forward, no victory by a Democratic presidential candidate will ever be certified by Republicans…. We are on the verge of not having meaningful presidential elections in this country, just as there are no meaningful national leadership elections in places like China and Russia. I’m aware this sounds like hysterical hyperbole when stated in words of one syllable. It’s nevertheless nothing but a simple statement of the present danger…
Robert McClelland: Avoiding Biden’s Proposed Capital Gains Tax Hikes Won’t Be So Easy. Or Will It?: ‘Current law does allow them to turn to the time-honored strategy of not realizing their gains and passing them tax-free to their heirs. In the past, that technique was so successful that it was possible a sharp increase in capital gains rates could raise little or no money for the federal government…. The second piece of the Biden plan anticipates this. It would tax at death unrealized capital gains that exceed $1 million…. Only a very small share of estates would owe any taxes… 3 percent… Ultimately, if this new approach is successful, many wealthy taxpayers will probably escape paying higher taxes, but most of their gains probably will not…
Leonard E. Burman: Biden Would Close Giant Capital Gains Loopholes—At Least For The Rich: ‘Critics of Biden’s proposal have several complaints. None hold water. Critics worry that raising capital gains taxes would lower the after-tax return for individual investors and drive down stock prices. However, taxable individuals hold less than one-third of corporate stock. The rest is owned by nonprofits, retirement plans, life insurance companies, and foreigners—none of whom pay individual income taxes on US capital gains and dividends…
Cory Doctorow: ’Seriously. Like Clarke’s Third Law/indistinguishable from magic Amazing. How amazing? Well. compared to conventional vaccine production, mRNA factories are: 99–99.9% smaller, 95–99.7% cheaper, 1,000% faster. If you convert a single closet in a conventional factory to mRNA production, it will make more doses than the rest of the factory COMBINED. Only part of the factory needs to be a high-spec cleanroom facility, and the rest can be cheaper and more easily maintained. Spend $20m to build one of these microfactories, install a 5l bioreactor, and, for $100m/year, it will produce ONE BILLION VACCINE DOSES…
John Maynard Keynes: The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money: ‘Even apart from the instability due to speculation, there is the instability due to the characteristic of human nature that a large proportion of our positive activities depend on spontaneous optimism rather than on a mathematical expectation, whether moral or hedonistic or economic. Most, probably, of our decisions to do something positive, the full consequences of which will be drawn out over many days to come, can only be taken as a result of animal spiritsï—of a spontaneous urge to action rather than inaction, and not as the outcome of a weighted average of quantitative benefits multiplied by quantitative probabilities. Enterprise only pretends to itself to be mainly actuated by the statements in its own prospectus, however candid and sincere. Only a little more than an expedition to the South Pole, is it based on an exact calculation of benefits to come. Thus if the animal spirits are dimmed and the spontaneous optimism falters, leaving us to depend on nothing but a mathematical expectation, enterprise will fade and die;ï—though fears of loss may have a basis no more reasonable than hopes of profit had before. It is safe to say that enterprise which depends on hopes stretching into the future benefits the community as a whole. But individual initiative will only be adequate when reasonable calculation is supplemented and supported by animal spirits, so that the thought of ultimate loss which often overtakes pioneers, as experience undoubtedly tells us and them, is put aside as a healthy man puts aside the expectation of death…
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Re: What Samuel Johnson Can Teach Us About Separating Art from the Artist
I'm reminded of a visit to the SFMOMA some decades ago, where the docent spent a lot of time talking about an artist and the meaning this implied in a picture of apparently random color daubs and squiggles on a canvas. The art world seems to expend a lot of effort convincing the "uneducated" public about the worth of some art. And not for nothing are the inflated auction prices for art and artifacts by known creators, when the vast majority of amateur art or artisanship is equally good but by a no-name creator. Art is truly in the eye [and modified by the mind] of the beholder.
Re: Vaccines. If Doctorow's numbers are even partway correct, it suggests that large national governments should ensure spending perhaps a $tn a year making vaccines for every variant of infectious viral disease that appears, so that quick testing and distribution can be applied to try to stop outbreaks early. Of course, this will always run into "vaccine hesitancy" and plain anti-vax opposition too. [Are some nations trying to eliminate themselves from the future - or is this an example of social Darwinism in action?]
Given that mRNA delivered in a variety of ways to generate antigens is a promising approach to treat a variety of diseases such as various cancers, such facilities could quickly produce the needed material for research, especially for the larger phase III trials.