Ugly “Benevolent Racism” From The “Woke”

“Benevolent racism” is my term for the ugly, infantilizing, and ultimately highly racist directives from “Woke”-ville to treat people who are black as if they are incompetent and fragile children. Glenn Loury has an absolutely stellar piece on this at Free Black Thought. An excerpt:

In The Power of the Powerless, the Czech politician and playwright Vaclav Havel invites us to empathize with those “living within the lie” during the time of Soviet hegemony in Eastern Europe. Envision the dilemma of a simple man, a grocer who every morning puts a sign in the window next to his tomatoes and his lettuce that says “Workers of the World Unite.” Havel asks, why does this grocer do this when everyone knows it’s a fraud? “Workers unite?” The party lies constantly. Everyone knows that the official ideology of the state is completely bankrupt, and yet this goes on for decades: people reproducing and reinforcing this idea, this lie, out of a desire merely to be left alone. So, we should ask ourselves, how many “Black Lives Matter” signs in shop windows reflect the same instinct as Havel’s grocer? That’s not anti-racism, genuine human empathy, or authentic concern for your fellow citizen, for your brother or sister. That’s living within the lie.

Source: Ugly “Benevolent Racism” From The “Woke”

Crazy Government Responses to COVID Part 1: Understanding Incentives

Briefly, the case against masks

There are people I talk to that assume that the entire history of science consists of a march towards more and more certainly that public masking is essential to stopping respiratory disease spread and that the only people who oppose this NPI are doing so because Donald Trump or the Baptist Church told us to oppose them.  But there are actually really good reasons to be skeptical of masks as a mandated NPI for this respiratory disease:

  • The body of public health research prior to 2020, on balance, held that public masking (and large scale lockdowns, btw) were not effective and generally not recommended (at least once the outbreak is past a very small group).
  • People usually respond to this by saying, well, you wouldn’t want your surgeon to operate on you without a mask.  Of course, this use case comparison is absurd, since standing next to someone in line at Walmart for 60 seconds is not really anything like hovering over someone’s open incision for 3 hours.   But it turns out that the scientific support for masks even in surgery to reduce post-op infection is surprisingly equivocal.
  • The weave of your mask looks to a COVID virus approximately what a chain link fence looks like to a mosquito.  It is not stopping the virus itself.  And this is even before discussing the total lack of sealing against the face I see on pretty much every mask.  And the fact that many people are reusing the same mask for days.
  • The argument is thus made that the mask is stopping saliva droplets.  But we have known pretty much since last March that droplets don’t spread the disease.  Droplets end up on the floor, not floating around for hours.  The disease is spread best by aerosols, and masks are only marginally effective at blocking these aerosols
  • Everything I have said above is EXACTLY what the CDC has said for years.  Here is their info-graphic, still up on their web site.  (Here is a copy I have archived in case they ever take it down: understanddifferenceinfographic-508 )
  • A case can be made that masks can make spread worse.  Imagine being on a plane for 4 hours and you have COVID.  Before you ever even get on the plane, you mask is saturated with COVID virus and moisture.  You then spend the entire flight blowing COVID-laden aerosols out through the mask like bubbles from a bubble wand.

Incentives of Government Agencies

But within weeks of the start of the pandemic in 2020, government agencies like the CDC threw out all this history and decided to mandate masks.  Masks were mandated for people outdoors, even when we knew from the start that transmission risks outdoors were nil.   Officials are still mandating masks for children, who have lower death rates from COVID than the flu and despite a lot of clear research about the importance of facial expressions in childhood development and socialization.  Officials are even starting to mandate masks for the vaccinated who, if they are not effectively immune from the disease, are nearly perfectly immune to hospitalization and death from the disease.  So why?

One needs to remember that the officials of government agencies like the CDC are not active scientists, they are government bureaucrats.  They may have had a degree in science at one time and still receive some scientific journals, but so do I.  Dr. Fauci has seen about the same number of patients over the last 40 years as Dr. Biden.  These are government officials that think like government officials and have the incentives of government officials.

I will take the CDC as an example but the following could apply to any related agency.  Remember that the CDC has been around for decades, consuming billions of dollars of years of tax money.  And as far as the average American is concerned, the CDC has never done much (at least visibly) as we never have had any sort of public health emergency when the CDC had to roll into action.

If you think this unfair, consider that the CDC itself has recognized this problem.  For years they have been trying to expand their mandate to things like gun control and racism, trying to argue that these constitute public health emergencies and thus require their active participation.  The CDC has for years been actively looking for a publicly-visible role (as opposed to research coordination and planning and preparation and such) that would increase their recognition, prestige, and budget.

So that is the backdrop.  And boom – finally! – there is a public health emergency where they can roll into action.  They see this new and potentially scary respiratory virus, they check their plans on the shelf, and those plans basically say — there is nothing much to be done, at least in the near term.  Ugh!  How are we going to justify our existence?  Tellingly, by the way, these agencies and folks like Fauci did follow a lot of the prior science in the opening weeks — for example they discouraged mask wearing.  Later Fauci justified his flip flop by claiming he meant the statement as a way to protect mask supply for health care workers, but I actually think that was a lie.  His initial statements on masks were correct, but government agencies decided they did not like the signal of impotence this was sending.

There was actually plenty these agencies should have been doing, but none of those things looked like immediate things to make the public feel safer.  Agencies should have been:

  1. Trying to catalog COVID behavior and characteristics
  2. Developing tests
  3. Identifying and testing treatment protocols
  4. Slashing regulations vis a vis tests and other treatments so they could be approved faster
  5. Developing a vaccine

If we score these things, #1 was sort of done though with a lot of exaggerated messaging (ie they communicated a lot of stuff that was mostly BS, like long covid or heart risk to young athletes).  #2 the CDC and FDA totally screwed up.  #3 barely happened, with promising treatments politicized and ignored.  #4 totally did not happen, no one even tried.  #5 went fabulously, but was an executive project met with mostly skepticism from agencies like the CDC.

Instead, the CDC and other agencies decided they had to do something that seemed like it was immediately affecting safety, so it reversed both years of research and several weeks of their own messaging and came down hard for masks and lockdowns.   And, given the nature of government incentives, they had to stick with it right up to today, because an admission today that these NPI aren’t needed risks having all their activity in 2020 questioned.

Incentives for Government Officials

Pretty much all of the above also applies to the incentives of government officials.  Our elected officials of both parties, but particularly the Democrats, have been working to have the average American think of them as super-dad.  Got a problem?  Don’t spend too much time trying to solve it yourself because its the government’s job to do so.  Against this background, the option to do nothing, at least nothing with immediate and dramatic apparent potency, did not exist.  We have to do “something.”

It might have been possible for some officials to resist this temptation of action for action’s sake, except for a second incentive.  Once one prominent official requires masks and lockdowns, the media began creating pressure on all other government officials.  New York has locked down, why haven’t you?  Does New York care more than you?  We had a cascade, where each official who adopted these NPI added to the pressure on all the others to do so.  Further, as this NPI became the standard government intervention, the media began to blame deaths in states with fewer interventions on that state’s leaders.  Florida had far fewer COVID deaths, particularly given their age demographics, than New York but for the media the NY leaders were angels and the Florida ones were butchers.  For a brief time terrible rushed “studies” were created to prove that these interventions were working, generally by the dishonest tactic of cherry-picking a state with NPI mandates that was not in its seasonal disease peak and comparing it to another state without NPI mandates that was in the heart of its seasonal peak.  (We are, by the way, starting to see a similar cascade around the most recent delta-driven mandates — just today a random Arizona county with no uptick in COVID hospitalizations just required indoor masking for the vaccinated).

And then the whole thing got polarized around party affiliation and any last vestige of scientific thinking got thrown to the curb.   Take Chloroquine as a possible treatment protocol.  Personally, I have not seen much evidence in its favor but early last year we did not know yet one way or another and there were some reasons to think it might be promising.  And then Donald Trump mentioned it.  After that we had the spectacle of the Michigan Governor banning this treatment absolutely without evidence solely because Trump had touted it on pretty limited evidence.  What a freaking mess.  In addition to giving us all a really beautiful view of the hypocrisy of politicians, it also added another great lie to the standard list.  To “The check is in the mail” and “I will respect you in the morning” is now added “We are following the science.”

Incentives for the Public

I won’t dwell on this too long, but one thing COVID has made clear to me is that a LOT of people are looking for the world to provide them with drama and meaning.  The degree to which many folks (mostly all well-off white professionals and their families) seem to have enthusiastically embraced COVID restrictions and been reluctant to give them up has just been an amazing eye-opener for me.

Source: Crazy Government Responses to COVID Part 1: Understanding Incentives

“Lived Experience”

I need to save this for the next “discussion” about “white privilege”.

This is one of those phrases out of the critical racism theory cult.  It means that my personal experience (which is subjective, perhaps improved by trauma or intentional exaggeration to meet the needs of the moment) take precedence over any objective measurements (what is the race distribution of people killed by police officers?)  My “lived experience” trumps data, logic, everything.

My “lived experience” is that growing up poor and white was hard.  I went to school with black kids from middle class homes that I could only envy.  I experienced a robbery that in my perception (all that matters, right?) was driven by race, and relied on race (robber pointing to three much older and larger blacks and identifying them as “my brothers” to insure compliance) to make it happen.  In the 1970s, I saw a lot of racism in hiring.  (I was an employment agent.)  My lived experience has been that hard work and character  are rewarded with family stability and wealth.

That’s my “lived experience”: if you disagree, you are a racist.

Source: “Lived Experience”

ANALYSIS: Liberal Animosity Toward Minorities, Teachers, and Poor People is Out of Control. As y…

I’ve also seen people demeaning the people of Arkansas for not buying into the whole mask for everyone everywhere trope. Apparently, according to the compassionate leftists, everyone in Arkansas lives in trailer parks and whole families have one tooth among their members.

ANALYSIS: Liberal Animosity Toward Minorities, Teachers, and Poor People is Out of Control.

Obnoxious liberals, the ones who fill the yawning void in their lives by posting online, are expressing an unhealthy degree of animosity toward minorities, teachers, poor people, and other marginalized communities, a Washington Free Beacon analysis has determined.

As you might expect, Lincoln Project operatives are some of the worst offenders. Tom Nichols, one of the super PAC’s former advisers, griped last week that the United States was “threatened by millions of spoiled, stupid adult children” who are reluctant to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. His much wealthier former colleague, Rick Wilson, agreed: “We’re so fucked.”

The extremely online duo’s outbursts were presumably in response to successful black athletes publicly expressing their vaccine hesitancy. NFL wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, for example, suggested a day earlier that he didn’t “want to partake” in the COVID-19 vaccine. Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott was also ruthlessly mocked for refusing to divulge his vaccine status, just as NBA star LeBron James repeatedly insisted his decision to get the vaccine (or not) was a “private thing.”

Nichols went on to describe Hopkins, using racially charged language, as “some jamoke in a red hat who has the mentality of a rashy toddler.” Red just happens to be the primary color of Hopkins’s NFL team, the Arizona Cardinals. He feels “almost no emotion and zero empathy” for the successful black man and other marginalized individuals whom he finds annoying.

Polling shows that vaccine hesitancy is most prominent among racial minorities, individuals without a college degree, and those who earn less than $50,000 a year. Additionally, teachers’ unions have been some of the most outspoken opponents to President Joe Biden’s effort to mandate vaccines for government employees.

As a result, these marginalized communities have been singled out for derision by overeducated white liberals who earn many times the median household income. Many of the hateful attacks, including some in the pages of the New York Times, have used racially explosive rhetoric commonly associated with white supremacy movements.

In one letter to the editor published in the Times, Naomi Stephen of Cambridge, Mass., praised the NFL’s policy of penalizing players for refusing to get vaccinated as “brilliant” because it promotes personal “responsibility” among the league’s mostly black athletes—a common racist trope and white supremacist dog whistle. “Accepting responsibility for one’s choices is surely a principle that all people can agree on,” Stephen wrote, controversially.

Daniel Fink of Beverly Hills, Calif., was even less subtle in his attack on black athletes and other individuals who refuse to get vaccinated. “If you don’t like being protected by your government, go to countries where people aren’t getting vaccinated because they don’t have vaccine to administer,” he wrote to the Times, which published his letter despite its explicit call to violence against marginalized communities.

Washington Post columnist Max Boot, who is bald, recently argued it was time for the federal government to “stop making reasonable appeals” to “granola liberals who believe in alternative medicines and African Americans who distrust the health care system,” and concluded with a curious word choice that could only be interpreted as an appeal to white supremacists. “We should not grant an unreasonable minority [emphasis added] the power to endanger public health,” he wrote, with racism in his heart.

Few libs have been more aggressively antagonistic in their disdain for marginalized communities than Nichols, the former Lincoln Project adviser. “It’s astonishing to think we’re facing another round of pandemic measures because of people who are willing to get sick and risk death because they think it’ll piss off someone like me for a few months,” he tweeted in a recent display of pathological narcissism.

Source: ANALYSIS: Liberal Animosity Toward Minorities, Teachers, and Poor People is Out of Control. As y…

Delta Hysteria

The current re-masking of America is driven by hysteria over the Indian variant of covid (renamed the Delta variant when it occurred to liberals that if “China virus” is racist, “Indian variant” must be racist too). It is entirely foreseeable that viruses will mutate, usually to a less lethal form, since it is bad for the virus to kill you. That is what is happening with the Indian form of covid.

A few simple charts, courtesy of the CDC, tell the story. “Cases,” many of which are false positives, are rising rather sharply:

But deaths are not:

The tally of “covid deaths” is inflated, since doctors write “covid” on death certificates in many instances where the virus had little or nothing to do with the cause of death. The better index, I think, is the total number of fatalities in the U.S., week by week. I don’t have much faith in the CDC, but I assume they can count bodies.

This shows that there was in fact a significant excess of mortality in the U.S. during 2020 and early 2021, but total deaths have now returned to a normal level and so far, at least, there is no sign of the Indian variant having a perceptible impact:

There is no reason for a return to masking, shutdowns, remote “learning” or anything else. What we see now is mostly just the proto-fascist Left clinging to power.

Source: Delta Hysteria

“Virulent” Does Not Mean “Infectious”

Articles often claim that the Delta variant is more virulent, e.g. “Citing the spread of the more virulent Delta coronavirus variant in the United Kingdom”. Earlier in the year the same was said about the Alpha (Kent) variant, that it was more “virulent”.

That was untrue. Virulent means “harmful”, not “infectious”.

If anything, the evidence suggests that the Delta variant may be less virulent, but more transmissible/infectious—although it is hard to be sure this is true, given that the vulnerable old are now protected by vaccines.

Source: “Virulent” Does Not Mean “Infectious”

Life science is taking off in the age of the gene

In short, the life science era is here. Notice that although Deep Mind’s breakthrough was in computing, the application was in bioscience. The good news is that Britain is and always has been unusually strong in biology: from Darwin to the double helix and on to gene sequencing, cloning, test-tube babies and DNA fingerprinting, all invented here.

So don’t believe those who preach a coming “great stagnation”, as innovation dries up. There are golden prospects ahead for those who are bold, as the government’s innovation strategy, launched this week, rightly makes clear.

But don’t take innovation for granted either. It’s a myth that technological change is speeding up. Innovation brings prosperity in its wake, but you would never realise that from how little it gets mentioned in parliament or much of the media. The engine of discovery and application is coughing a little, because of the heavy burden of regulation under which it increasingly labours. Entrepreneurs have to fight ever tougher battles against silly rules, frustrating delays, lobbying by incumbent firms, precautionary extremism masquerading as concern for the environment, and similar obstacles.

If we play our cards right, 22nd Century medicine could be absolutely amazing.

If we don’t, 22nd Century medicine could wind up being leeches and the Doctrine of Signatures.

Source: Life science is taking off in the age of the gene

Question over Quora

I get emails from Quora, some of which are questions people have asked and want an answer to. Recently, someone asked, “How much water is there in the universe”?

It’s hard to say. I’m sure it’s possible to estimate, in a very broad fashion. We could start by estimating how much hydrogen exists in the observable universe, based on how much would have formed during the Big Bang, and subtracting out losses due to subsequent fusion in the hearts of stars. We could estimate how much oxygen has formed through stellar activity, and been released into the universe. That gives us an upper limit on how much water could exist in the observable universe. We then estimate how much of the oxygen would have combined with hydrogen to form water in the observable universe.

Then there’s the issue of what exists outside the observable universe. Cosmologists estimate that what we can see is a tiny fraction of what’s out there. So we’d multiply our estimate of the water in the observable universe by the number of observable universe volumes in the total universe, which is a guess.

My answer was a lot shorter.

I answered, “All of it.”

Delta variant bullet points

Notwithstanding my exasperation with the failure of common sense and skepticism to prevail, I will try one more time to simply list why we shouldn’t get all hysterical again and what data our supposed government experts should be providing.

Let’s start with Delta.  Contrary to the misinformation being spread by many, including the so-called experts, the research to date shows:

  1.  It has a lower hospitalization and death rate.
  2. It is perhaps somewhat more transmissible.
  3. It does not result in substantially higher viral loads.
  4. Vaccines are only marginally less effective against Delta infections.
  5. It does not have a worse impact on children.

Now let us move on to vaccine effectiveness, where we find that:

  1.  People who are vaccinated can get infected, but do so at lower rates than the unvaxed.
  2. People who are vaccinated and get infected have lower viral loads than the unvaxed who become infected.
  3. People who are vaccinated and get infected are less likely to be infectious and transmit.
  4. People who are vaccinated have much lower rates of hospitalization and death than do those who are unvaccinated and get infected.
  5. The research is actually mixed as to whether vaccination or prior infection provides a stronger adaptive immune response.
  6. If you understand adaptive immunity, whether from infection or vaccination, in regard to respiratory viruses, none of the above is a surprise, e.g., the performance of flu vaccines and the difficulty in developing an RSV vaccine.

Now what do we need, other than a complete replacement of said political leaders and experts.

  1.  Provide case, hospitalization and death data by vaccination status and give us days after second dose that the case was identified in the case of “fully” vaccinated individuals.  Full adaptive immunity is unlikely in 14 days, it takes weeks for memory B and T cells to be completely in place.
  2. Give us the age structure of cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the vaccinated as well as the unvaccinated.
  3. Show us at least a very representative sample of cycle numbers from supposedly positive PCR tests in both the vaxed and unvaxed cases.  I am certain this will reveal much higher cycle numbers and lower viral loads in the vaxed cases.
  4. Do representative sampling of supposed positives from vaxed and unvaxed persons and attempt to culture the test swabs.  I am again certain this will show much less presence of viable virus among the vaxed group.
  5. Give us complete reinfection cases among the unvaccinated, including hospital and death rates.  Reinfections among the unvaxed are the equivalent of breakthrough infections in the vaxed and a direct comparison about rates and outcomes would be helpful.
  6. Stop hiding how many hospitalizations listed as CV-19 ones aren’t actually for CV-19.  The state of Minnesota started doing this for breakthrough infections but it should be done for all cases, so we can compare true serious outcomes.

Finally, come up with better and more accurate messaging on how respiratory virus vaccines should be expected to work.  Stop calling them breakthrough infections; the virus isn’t breaking through some physical barrier.  Give people at least a rudimentary explanation of how adaptive immunity works.  Explain that adaptive immunity is weaker in older persons and those with serious health issues, so we can expect to see cases and even serious illness continue among that group.  Once more, for the three millionth time, tell people this virus is not going away, we will live with it, we will adapt to it, we will have preventive and treatment measures that are effective, but it ain’t disappearing.  And life is too short and too valuable to waste it in futile attempts to avoid CV-19.

Source: Delta variant bullet points

John Hayward says what needs to be said about the Jan. 6 show trial

Here’s John Hayward’s Twitter thread, turned (verbatim) in the prose I find easier to read:

The 1/6 rioters should be treated with the same severity as Black Lives Matter rioters. Since that is not remotely possible, all else is political theater and raw exercises of power, and I am weary of pretenses to the contrary.

I’m weary of our ruling class sending the message that your home, business, and personal safety are at the mercy of violent Demcorat-approved grievance groups, but don’t you DARE do anything that makes the aristocracy in D.C. uncomfortable.

I’m tired of hearing the Abolish the Police Party demand limitless scrutiny and aggressive defunding of the police who protect the rest of us, but unquestioning support and increased funding for the police who protect THEM. Why not protect the Capitol with social workers, huh?

There are Democrat-controlled parts of the country where theft has literally been decriminalized, and not just during Democrat-approved riots. You have to stand and watch helplessly while your business is looted every day. But the rules are different for THEIR place of business.

The entire premise of the theatrical 1/6 hearings is supposedly that further “insurrections” are a serious threat that must be proactively addressed. That is FAR more true of Democrat-approved grievance riots. They were vastly larger, deadlier, and more likely to occur again.

No group that might contemplate barging into the Capitol was given billions of dollars in funding by politicized corporations, as BLM was. None of them enjoys anything like to [sic] the political and media support of the 2020 rioters, who even got a pass from coronavirus restrictions. Democrat-approved rioters were even given free passes from coronavirus restrictions.

Every rule on the books was bent and broken for them. Prosecution for their offenses has not been zero, but it hasn’t exactly been thorough. The message sure as hell isn’t “never do this again.”

The Democrat Party normalized and celebrated political violence for months before the Capitol riots. Let’s have some hearings on THAT. Let’s talk about how incredibly dangerous it is for one Party to think it has a monopoly on grievance-mongering, street theater, and violence.

Let’s also have some hearings about how one Party thinks it has a monopoly on questioning the outcome of elections. We could roll video of top Dems, including sitting officials, doing that for HOURS. You want theater? I’ll make the popcorn and bring the tapes.

I’m not really interested in hearing any Democrat, or their GOP footstools, give tearful speeches about sacred democracy while their party systematically destroys every bit of protection for our elections and wantonly undermines every outcome they don’t like. We have every reason to fear the full power of bloated, hyper-politicized government being turned against Americans who dissent from the ruling Party.

Show trials designed to establish the predicate that dissenters are potential violent terrorists are not exactly reassuring. There is no need to excuse or valorize anything that occurred on 1/6 to be disgusted by this week’s political spectacle. Our media tells us that “context” is everything. Well, in the full context of 2020, hysterics over 1/6 are absurd and hypocritical.

You can’t say THIS city is sacred ground, but THESE cities must be abandoned to mobs and criminals as lawless wastelands. Hell, most of D.C. outside the Capitol IS a lawless wasteland. You shrieking potentates can see murder factories through your barbed wire fences.

You can’t say THESE cops are sacred avatars of law and order whose actions merit no public scrutiny or investigation, but all the rest of them are trigger-happy racists who should be micromanaged, distrusted, disarmed, defunded, and replaced by community organizers.

You can’t say THIS politicized violence is totally unacceptable and should be prosecuted unto the end of time, but THESE people are allowed to use violence and vandalism whenever they feel the system is not addressing their grievances quickly enough.

You can’t tell me the 1st Amendment must be bypassed to silence “disinformation” because it might lead to “insurrection,” while embracing media outlets that spread Hands Up Don’t Shoot lies with wild abandon, resulting in real and immediate crime and violence.

When people who spent four years role-playing as “the Resistance” against a “stolen election” suddenly start telling us dissent and resistance are treason that will be punished without mercy, we know exactly what’s going on. It’s a grim story repeated throughout human history.

By all means, let’s have universal respect for universally RESPECTABLE elections. Let’s have zero tolerance for political violence. Let every American’s property be treated with the respect afforded to a congressman’s office. These hearings obviously aren’t about that. /end

Source: John Hayward says what needs to be said about the Jan. 6 show trial