History lessons from the musical Hamilton

The price of a ticket to Hamilton finally came down to something I was willing to pay: $0 (already subscribing to Disney+).

So far I’ve learned that taxes in the American colonies were sky-high and King George was arbitrarily murderous.

Who else is watching? Now that we’ve seen it, does it seem like it would have been worth $2,000/seat to see in the theater? (If we assume that the streaming Hamilton is as good as the live one, comparable to the assumption that our state and local overlords would have us believe regarding K-12 schools, everything else on Disney+ is essentially free until everyone in our family is dead. The cost of four tickets to Hamilton on Broadway, back in the year 2019, would pay for at least 50 years of Disney+?)

Also… Happy Treason Day!

An NBER paper:

There is no doubt that the colonies paid very low taxes. For example, in 1763, on average, a citizen in Britain paid 26 shillings per year in taxes, while a citizen in New England paid just 1 shilling per year (see, for example, Ferguson 2004). Along the same line, Walton and Shepherd (1979) present an index of per capita tax burden for 1765: Great Britain 100, Ireland 26, Massachusetts 4, Connecticut 2, New York 3, Pennsylvania 4, Maryland 4, and Virginia 2. Moreover, after the Seven Years War, the British Parliament tried and failed to impose new taxes on the American colonies …

The third wave was the Townshend Acts of 1767, which were customs duties on British products imported into the colonies. The measures were intended to raise 1% of colonial income, a relatively small economic burden. Moreover, they met the criteria that only external trade should be taxed.

I’ve seen some other sources that calculated the tax burden for American colonists at 2 percent of income, lower than the most efficient countries today, such as Singapore (14 percent). For reference, the U.K. collects about 33 percent of income in taxes today while the U.S. is at 27 percent (but we spend 38 percent!).

Regarding the other history lesson, did King George ever actually order any colonist killed, like Admiral General Aladeen in The Dictator did?

Fallingwater, more or less on the Proclamation Line, west of which the colonists could not steal land from the Native Americans without rebelling against England:

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More Americans will die from all of the coronaguns than from actual coronaplague?

“Gun sales are off the charts” (Fortune):

U.S. consumers are rushing to buy guns as the Covid-19 pandemic and protests over police brutality combine with U.S. presidential politics to fuel unprecedented demand.

Firearm background checks compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a proxy for gun purchases, jumped to a record in June as street demonstrations spread around the U.S. That extended a surge that began in March as the coronavirus prompted lockdowns across the country.

James Hillin, owner of Full Armor Firearms in Texas, said the store’s gun sales have increased 75% since January, and that 95% of those were by new gun owners.“They’re scared,” Hillin said before cutting a brief interview short to attend to waiting customers. “They want to protect themselves.”

I wonder if, in the long run, more American life-years will be lost as a result of this increase in gun ownership sparked by coronapanic lockdowns and the subsequent riots by those who’d been locked down. (This is not to say that I am against Americans exercising their Second Amendment freedoms, which might be one of the few Constitutional rights that is left!) Keep in mind that the typical person who dies from a gunshot would is much younger than the typical person (80+) who dies from/with Covid-19.

From Back Bay (Boston) the other day…

(What does it mean to “attend” high school in a country where no teachers are willing to work?)

Older posts on the side-effect deaths from coronapanic:

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What if Thomas Edison were alive today?

Edison by Edmund Morris, gives us some hints as to how Thomas Edison might have dealt with our society’s challenges today. (Below, Edison’s workshop, transported to Michigan by Henry Ford and now part of Greenfield Village.)

Although he was an early enthusiast for aviation, trying to build a helicopter in the 1880s, Edison (1847-1931) actually lived (and continued to work hard and effectively) through the period of the most rapid advances in aviation. He seems not to have contributed anything significant to the development of flying machines.

One thing that I learned from the book is that Edison loved huge projects and was not afraid of doing things at scale. He put about $2 million and years of work into trying to mine iron ore in New Jersey and then mill it profitably. From the early 1890s:

A party of inspectors sent by Engineering and Mining Journal toured the plant early in the fall. Although some sections were idled for refurbishment and Edison was coy about showing any of his new machines, they could see that he already excelled at quarrying and magnetic separation, if not yet in the difficult processes of crushing and refinement. They were particularly impressed with his cableway system, every suspended “skip” delivering four tons of rock to the crushers at only twelve cents a load. But they predicted that in view of the low iron content of local ore, Edison would still have to spend a fortune and deploy “the utmost resources of engineering skill” to compete with Mesabi ore at 64 percent iron. “With his surpassing genius [and] capacity for taking infinite pains, it cannot be doubted that he will ultimately achieve success.”

In July Edison learned that his mining venture had so far cost him $850,000, including some $100,000 that could not be accounted for. A profit-killing amount of money was being lavished on labor that simply loaded and unloaded rock at either end of the conveyors. The jaw crushers took too long to do their work and often broke down, necessitating expensive repairs. The magnetic separators, plagued by screening problems, were concentrating only 47 percent iron—far less than the 66 or 70 percent he needed to match the richness of Great Lakes ore. He was still digesting this information when a stockhouse under construction at Ogden collapsed, killing five men and injuring twelve. Lawsuits alleging negligence were filed by bereaved families.106 A newspaper clipping he carried in his wallet read, “Thomas Edison is a happy and healthy man. He does not worry.” As usual he countered the pull of bad news by pushing forward harder. Rather than continue to “improve” Ogden with ad hoc adjustments, he increased the capital of its parent company to $1.25 million, then shut the plant for a tear-down rebuild that would expand it enormously and make it a showpiece of automated design. No sooner had a new separator house gone up than he decided it needed some screening towers, and should be constructed all over again.

Given what we now know about the ore near Lake Superior (ore in the water of Tahquamenon Falls, below, from Travels with Samantha), the idea seems laughable today and, indeed, it was a complete failure. Nonetheless, it was amazing how many problems Edison was able to solve.

My theory about what he would be working on today, therefore, is geoengineering. He would take complaints about a warming planet as inspiration to work in the lab and then build infrastructure on the scale of the largest mines and power plants.

How about coronaplague? Edison did like to jump into solving problems that society perceived as urgent. But what kind of machine would be useful for fighting the plague? Big shade structures to move activities outdoors? Edison did put a lot of effort into “tornado-proof concrete houses”:

Last May’s catastrophic earthquake in San Francisco revived an idea he had had when the cement mill was first ready to roll. He saw low-cost, molded concrete houses replacing the fragile wooden boxes in which most Americans lived—houses that contractors would mix from cement (with a colloidal additive for grit suspension) and spill on the spot into prefabricated forms. A three-story house could be poured in six hours and set in less than a week.

He had to admit that the individual kits, consisting of nickel-plated cast iron parts, would be expensive, at around $25,000 apiece. But they would pay for themselves in frequency of use and universality of detail, molding mantelpieces, banisters, dormer windows, conduits for wiring, “and even bathtubs.” Having made the investment, a contractor could pour a new house every four days. Each could be sold for $500 or $600, enabling millions of low-income Americans to become homeowners for the first time, with no need to worry about earthquakes, hurricanes, or fire. “I will see this innovation a commonplace fact,” Edison promised, “even though I am in my sixtieth year.”

What about a wearable device that would deflect the evil coronavirus away from a person’s mouth and nose, but without obstructing breathing the way that a mask does?

Where would Edison have stood on this year’s Presidential campaign? “Edison had always been a loyal Republican,” writes Morris, but quotes Edison explaining why he voted for Teddy Roosevelt whose statue was just toppled in Manhattan: “I’m a Progressive, because I’m young at sixty-five,” he said. “And this is a young man’s movement. There are a lot of people who die in the head before they are fifty. They’re the ones who get shocked if you propose anything that wasn’t going when they were boys.” Morris says that “Edison had come to despise government bureaucrats, seeing them as a blight on democracy,” but perhaps Edison’s Progressive streak would have led him to support Bernie nonetheless!

On the third hand, Edison would probably not have been able to hold a job in the present-day U.S.:

Relations between him and [son] Charles warmed to the extent they could resume their old exchange of “negro jokes.”

Wikipedia points out that Edison married a subordinate whom we would today call “underage”:

On December 25, 1871, at the age of 24, Edison married 16-year-old Mary Stilwell (1855–1884), whom he had met two months earlier; she was an employee at one of his shops.

Mary likely died, only 28 years old, in the modern American manner. The author quotes from a contemporary source:

At the request of Mr. Edison she took a trip to Florida last winter. Instead of obtaining relief she fell victim to gastritis, due to the peculiar atmosphere or perhaps the long acquaintance with morphine. She returned to Menlo Park in a more troubled condition. Her pain intensified, and at times she was almost frantic. Morphia was the only remedy, and naturally she tried to increase the quantity prescribed by the doctors. From the careless word dropped by [a] friend of the family it was more than intimated that an overdose of morphine swallowed in a moment of frenzy caused by pain greater than she could bear brought on her untimely death. The doctor in attendance said she died of congestion of the brain. When a reporter put the question to him he positively asserted that it was the immediate cause, but about the more remote causes he preferred to remain silent.

(1.5 years later, Edison was 39 and married Mina, age 20.)

What about shutting down schools, society, and the economy for three months so as to end up with the same death rate from Covid-19 as Sweden?

as Edison lay dying [in 1931, age 84], it was suggested to President Hoover that the entire electrical system of the United States should be shut off for one minute on the night of his interment. But Hoover realized that such a gesture would immobilize the nation and quite possibly kill countless people.

Readers: Fun speculation for today… suppose that Thomas Edison were alive today, age 40, and had $1 billion available to invest. What problem would he attack?

More: Read Edison by Edmund Morris.

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Get rid of exercise in the name of public health (Sweden did okay, though)

What’s the best strategy for dealing with a virus that attacks the obese and out of shape? Stay home for three months right next to the fridge.

“In Fight Against COVID-19, Physical Activity Falls Off a Cliff — Drastic change in worldwide daily step counts since March” (MedPage Today):

In the first 10 days after the World Health Organization’s March 11 declaration that COVID-19 was officially a global pandemic, smartphone users worldwide showed a 5.5% decrease in mean daily steps (287 fewer steps).

In the first 30 days, mean daily steps dropped 27.3% (1,432 fewer steps), reported the group led by Geoffrey Tison, MD, MPH, of the University of California San Francisco. Their paper was published online in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

For example, people in Italy had a 48.7% maximal decrease in daily steps, whereas those in Sweden showed only a 6.9% maximal reduction in steps. The difference may have stemmed from government responses, as Italy issued a lockdown on March 9, whereas Sweden has yet to implement such a measure.

(I like the last part. There is still hope among the righteous for saving Swedish souls by converting them to the Church of Shutdown.)

“This is an interesting natural experiment that has health implications for global and regional populations, and especially those with underlying chronic health conditions who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19-related morbidity and mortality and who may depend on routine physical activity as a preventive measure,” according to Messiah.

i.e., it will be interesting for a “scientist” (named “Messiah”! As someone who evaluates coronaplague “science” from a comparative religion point of view, this is my dream fulfilled!) to watch fat people die.

From the Newport Jazz Festival, 2005 (canceled until a hardier breed of Americans can be produced?):

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Get rid of public restrooms in the name of public health?

One of the things that Western do-gooders scolded India for was its lack of public restrooms, a hazard to public health. What was the first thing that we did in response to coronaplague? Close our public restrooms!

At the Cape Cod National Seashore in May, for example, the beach was open but the restrooms were closed. From the web site:

DeCordova Art Museum and Sculpture Park: park open by reservation; restrooms closed.

Our town, soon to build the most expensive school building, per student, ever constructed in the United States:

(They have $110 million for a building for 440 town-resident students, but can’t figure out how to keep an outdoor pool’s restrooms clean/safe? Why are porta-potties better? Because only one person will go in at a time?)

Speaking of the pool… “Face coverings should NOT be worn in the water” and “Patrons should not bring water (or land) toys of any kind with them to the facility, as they increase the risk of contact transmission.” (but didn’t we decide that the “science was settled” and people were not getting coronaplague from surface contamination?)

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The Frito Bandito delivers a lecture on Black Lives Matter

Who knew that the Frito Bandito was an expert on social justice? Frito-Lay’s Doritos brand delivers Do You Hear Us Now? #AmplifyBlackVoices via YouTube:

On the YouTube site, the company says “Doritos is taking meaningful action in the push for real change.”

(How many tens of thousands of pounds have black Americans gained from eating Doritos while locked into their apartments and houses for 4+ months during coronapanic? Maybe the “real change” Frito-Lay is talking about is transitioning from obesity to morbid obesity?)

From the slender friend who sent this to me: “I’ll do a 180 on social justice warriors if they get Doritos cancelled. So gross. Cool ranch Doritos are an abomination.” (she also coined the term “coronapudge”)

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Catholic priest at MIT fired for not following the state religion

“Catholic chaplain resigns over email responding to Floyd killing” (the Tech):

Rev. Daniel Moloney, MIT’s Catholic chaplain, resigned June 9, according to a statement by the Archdiocese of Boston. The Archdiocese asked the chaplain to resign after Moloney sent an email to the Tech Catholic Community (TCC) in response to the killing of George Floyd and the subsequent protests.

Moloney wrote in the email that while Floyd should not have been killed by a police officer, Floyd’s killing was not necessarily “an act of racism.” Moloney added that “people have claimed that racism” is a “major problem in police forces. I don’t think we know that.” He wrote that the police officer had “acted wrongly” and that “it is right that he has been arrested and will be prosecuted.”

Moloney also wrote that Floyd “had not lived a virtuous life,” stating that Floyd had committed sins, “but we do not kill such people” and instead “root for sinners to change their lives and convert to the Gospel.”

Suzy Nelson, vice president and dean for student life, wrote in an email to student and faculty leaders June 12 that MIT senior leaders and the Bias Response Team had received reports about Moloney’s email. Nelson wrote that Moloney’s message “contradicted the Institute’s values” and “was deeply disturbing.”

According to Nelson’s email, all MIT chaplains sign the Office of Religious, Spiritual, and Ethical Life’s “Relationship with Affiliated Organizations and Representatives” agreement, which states that chaplains should demonstrate “respect for the dignity and worth of all people and a sensitivity to the beliefs and cultural commitments of others” and that “actions or statements that diminish the value of individuals or groups of people are prohibited.” Nelson wrote that Moloney’s email did not “live up to these expectations.”

We still have the First Amendment, sort of (not the right for healthy young people to assemble, for example). Is it fair to say that, from a functional perspective, we still have the First Amendment right to freedom of religion in the same sense as subjects of the Roman Empire? Conquered people could keep their religion and continue to worship their gods so long as they also respected and worships the Roman gods. Maybe this is why almost every nominally Christian church in Massachusetts has a BLM banner and a rainbow flag.

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Why won’t the Europeans let in Americans who test negative for coronavirus?

“EU Sets New List Of Approved Travel Partners. The U.S. Isn’t On It” (NPR):

U.S. travelers won’t be among those allowed to visit the European Union when the bloc begins opening its external borders on July 1. EU ambassadors endorsed a list of 15 travel partners on Tuesday, including South Korea, Japan and, with a caveat, China. Those countries were hit early by the pandemic but have been able to bring the coronavirus under control.

The U.S. was seen as a long shot to make the travel list, which requires that only those countries with epidemiological situations — taking into account both the infection rate and current trends — that are equal to or better than the EU’s can send tourists and other nonessential visitors to the open-border region.

My dumb question for today: If tests work, why can’t airlines test Americans before allowing them to get on the plane to plague-free Europe? If tests don’t work, why do Americans want to pay for millions of tests every day?

Readers: After six months of coronaplague and the genius-level work of Kary Mullis at our disposal, why can’t we credibly promise the Europeans that we won’t send them the Covid-19-ridden?

(from last summer, children playing on a monster trampoline near Copenhagen, no grown-ups within 100 yards)

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Reddit stuffs the gender critical feminists into the Memory Hole

https://www.reddit.com/r/GenderCritical :

archive.org shows that, as June 26, the discussion group had 64,400 members:

As advertised, they are hostile to an Ask Me About My Pronouns T-Shirt.

Pride Gender Inclusive Adult Pronouns Graphic T-Shirt - White - image 1 of 1

Feminism is the movement to liberate women from patriarchy. We stand up for the rights of women to control our own bodies as individuals and to control women-only spaces as a class.

Women are adult human females. We do not believe that men can become women by ‘feeling’ like women. We do not condone the erasure of females and female-only spaces, the silencing of critical thinking, the denial of biological reality and of sex-based oppression. We oppose the ‘cotton ceiling’ and the pressure on lesbians to have sex with men. We resist efforts to limit women’s reproductive autonomy. We condemn the men who exploit and abuse women in prostitution and pornography.

“Women do not decide at some point in adulthood that they would like other people to understand them to be women, because being a woman is not an ‘identity.’ Women’s experience does not resemble that of men who adopt the ‘gender identity’ of being female or being women in any respect. The idea of ‘gender identity’ disappears biology and all the experiences that those with female biology have of being reared in a caste system based on sex.” – Sheila Jeffreys, Gender Hurts

Reddit has deleted nearly seven years of content by this community. I asked a friend who considers herself a TERF whether this forum was, in fact, hate-filled. Her answer:

No, the mods were exacting about following the rules. Couldn’t call people trannies, etc. Purely political decision. They still left all the porn subreddits up so it clearly wasn’t about anything other than clamping down on terfs.

The archive.org server grabbed the front page of the forum, but not the actual content. So those of us who were not participants in the community can never know whether they were haters or not. Some of the older threads do seem to be available. Samples:

Transgenderism does seem to be winning the war, if indeed there was anyone other than a few terfs to fight against. Walking into a Target recently, for example, the very first display for all shoppers is of LGBTQIA+-themed products:

(the gender critical feminists might not be pleased to learn that a trans woman is more “authentic” than a cisgender woman!)

Near the pharmacy, Johnson & Johnson talks about its “championing” of all matters LGBTQIA (but not “plus”!) and offers rainbow-wrapped Listerine, sunscreen, etc.:

Companies usually like to avoid actual political controversy. Why lose nearly half your customers by saying “We at GreedCo prefer Candidate X”? There are some dramatic differences between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, for example, but how many Fortune 500 companies have endorsed either one? The only time that a company would be willing to alienate customers is on an issue where there are hardly any people who strongly oppose the position being taken. From this, therefore, it seems reasonable to infer that, at least since 2011 when Johnson & Johnson decided it was safe to come out of the closet, there is no significant opposition to LGBTQIA advocacy.

I wonder if this sanitizing of the Internet by Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, et al. will actually work against those who advocate for the causes that are now held sacred and to which no opposition can be voiced. Once all of the terfs are silenced, for example, and there is no record that they ever existed because old content is in a memory hole, wouldn’t that cause people to ask an advocate for transgenderism “Who exactly are you fighting against?”

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“promotion from mathematician to engineer”

“NASA Names Headquarters After ‘Hidden Figure’ Mary W. Jackson” (nasa.gov):

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced Wednesday the agency’s headquarters building in Washington, D.C., will be named after Mary W. Jackson, the first African American female engineer at NASA.

“Mary W. Jackson was part of a group of very important women who helped NASA succeed in getting American astronauts into space. Mary never accepted the status quo, she helped break barriers and open opportunities for African Americans and women in the field of engineering and technology,” said Bridenstine. “Today, we proudly announce the Mary W. Jackson NASA Headquarters building. It appropriately sits on ‘Hidden Figures Way,’ a reminder that Mary is one of many incredible and talented professionals in NASA’s history who contributed to this agency’s success. Hidden no more, we will continue to recognize the contributions of women, African Americans, and people of all backgrounds who have made NASA’s successful history of exploration possible.”

After two years in the computing pool, Jackson received an offer to work in the 4-foot by 4-foot Supersonic Pressure Tunnel, a 60,000 horsepower wind tunnel capable of blasting models with winds approaching twice the speed of sound. There, she received hands-on experience conducting experiments. Her supervisor eventually suggested she enter a training program that would allow Jackson to earn a promotion from mathematician to engineer. Because the classes were held at then-segregated Hampton High School, Jackson needed special permission to join her white peers in the classroom.

Jackson completed the courses, earned the promotion, and in 1958 became NASA’s first Black female engineer. For nearly two decades during her engineering career, she authored or co-authored research numerous reports, most focused on the behavior of the boundary layer of air around airplanes. In 1979, she joined Langley’s Federal Women’s Program, where she worked hard to address the hiring and promotion of the next generation of female mathematicians, engineers and scientists. Mary retired from Langley in 1985.

As a math undergrad who learned that an SB in mathematics does not make one a “mathematician” and who later studied EECS, I am thrilled to see “a promotion from mathematician to engineer”! I don’t expect to see this again in my lifetime, though.

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