Politician characterizes immigrant-rich California as “like a third world country”

At 27 percent, California leads the U.S. in percentage of population who are foreign-born (Wikipedia). Many of these folks migrated from low-income countries where the typical resident is “low-skill” from the perspective of a U.S. employer.

What if a politician referred to California as “like a third world country”? We would cancel him/her/zir/them as a Trump-poisoned hater of low-skill migrants, right?

“Newsom grapples with his ‘third-world country’” (Politico):

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s frustration was palpable on Thursday, as he cleaned up trash-strewn railroad tracks in Los Angeles that have become the site of innumerable package thefts. You may have seen images of the property crimes in question. They’ve permeated California’s media markets and been beamed beyond our borders, where the coverage has often advanced a familiar narrative of California spiraling into dystopia. None of that is lost on Newsom.

“I’m asking myself, what the hell is going on? We look like a third-world country,” Newsom said

Separately, “Newsom has big plans to get rid of California’s massive homeless camps. Will they work?”:

After pouring an unprecedented $12 billion into homeless housing and services last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom now is turning to the massive tent camps, shantytowns and makeshift RV parks that have taken over California’s streets, parks and open spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a never-before-seen effort, the governor is doling out $50 million this winter to help cities and counties clear out camps and house people living outside. San Jose, Richmond and Santa Cruz are among those that might benefit. Newsom hopes to increase that investment 10-fold in the coming year’s budget and add $1.5 billion to house people with behavioral health conditions. In charge of it all will be Newsom’s new state homelessness council, co-chaired by none other than the face of California’s COVID response — Dr. Mark Ghaly.

“This is probably one-of-a-kind, once-in-a-lifetime type funding that we’re seeing from the state,” said Michelle Milam, crime prevention manager for the Richmond Police Department and a member of the city’s homelessness task force. “We’ve never seen this kind of investment from the state for encampments.”

If he/she/ze/they is canceled as a result of this hate speech, maybe Mx. Newsom will retire to state-income-tax-free 3-percent-foreign-born Wyoming?

Based on my own travels, I think that Mx. Newsom is incorrect regarding California looking like a third-world country. The major cities in the poorest countries that I have visited do not feature people encamped in tents on sidewalks, people consuming drugs out in the open, etc. See my photos from Haiti, for example (not the tourist Haiti, but the authentic Haiti). A sample:

And, from the Provincetown Public Library, taken shortly after the above photo, some migration-related titles in the Young Adult Non-Fiction section:


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Skiing in a country where nobody wants to work and where nobody can afford to live

A friend lives in a $3 million starter home in the Vail valley. He reports having to carefully pick ski days this season due to crowding on the mountain and long lift lines. “They sold a ton of Epic passes in the spring at a discount,” he explained, “and now lifts and trails are closed because nobody wants to work. They can’t find people to drive the snowcats for grooming, so you find that a lot of trails are roped off and blocked by a big pile of snow.”

How did the labor supply change? “The cost of living, especially housing, is much higher than two years ago and the wages haven’t gone up as much,” he replied. “They’re offering a $2 per hour bonus for people who stay through March, but that’s not enough to enable someone to live where the rich people live.”

(I wonder if restrictions imposed with a COVID-19 justification are partly to blame. The last time I was at Beaver Creek I noticed that a high percentage of workers were foreigners, e.g., from Central and South America, on temporary visas. It seems that not too many Americans wanted to spend the winter in a glorious ski resort, at least not at the wages offered. Until November 2021, was it possible for foreigners to get to the U.S., except as asylum-seekers walking across the Rio Grande?)

From a February 2017 trip to Beaver Creek:


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Soviet management tips for the American executive

To celebrate having gotten through one month of winter, let’s turn our attention to things Russian (since they are the true masters of the cold).

Last year, I was invited to a family dinner in which the husband’s father is retired from managing a large Soviet enterprise (many bonuses and incentives for performance, so not actually all that different from running a bureaucratic U.S. company). The wife had recently been promoted to manage five divisions of a substantial U.S. company instead of just one. She described her frustration with workers who didn’t want to come back to the office. “Can you make it in every Wednesday?” was an unreasonable ask. Productivity was unimpressive and a lot of people had gotten comfortable with the previous manager, whose standards were low-to-mediocre.

We kicked around some ideas for motivating the workers and gradually acclimating them to the new higher standards. After 10 minutes of mostly unproductive suggestions, the father-in-law offered some advice…. “Old Russian saying: When whorehouse is losing money, you don’t change the beds. You change the whores.”

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We voted for Pedro; did all of our wildest dreams come true?

Joe Biden’s campaign promises were similar to those of Pedro’s (“if you vote for me, all of your wildest dreams will come true”) in Napoleon Dynamite.

It has been a year. How did Biden deliver on the promised dreams?

First, let’s check the promises on archive.org, 10/29/2020. It was a “Battle for the Soul of the Nation.” Do we have a better soul today?

Biden promised “leadership during the COVID-19 Pandemic”:

Biden knows how to mount an effective crisis response and elevate the voices of scientists, public health experts, and first responders because he has done it before.

We need a decisive public health response to curb the spread of this disease and provide treatment to those in need — as well as a decisive economic response that delivers real relief to American workers, families, and small businesses, and protects the economy as a whole.

More Americans have died with a COVID-19 tag during the Biden administration than during the Trump administration. Did the dead people die happier under Biden because they heard the voices of scientists before they died?

Then there was “Joe and Kamala’s Plan to Beat COVID-19”:

Fix Trump’s testing-and-tracing fiasco to ensure all Americans have access to regular, reliable, and free testing.

Double the number of drive-through testing sites.

Invest in next-generation testing, including at home tests and instant tests, so we can scale up our testing capacity by orders of magnitude.

Stand up a Pandemic Testing Board like Roosevelt’s War Production Board. It’s how we produced tanks, planes, uniforms, and supplies in record time, and it’s how we can produce and distribute tens of millions of tests.

Create the Nationwide Pandemic Dashboard that Americans can check in real-time to help them gauge whether local transmission is actively occurring in their zip codes. This information is critical to helping all individuals, but especially older Americans and others at high risk, understand what level of precaution to take.

Immediately restore our relationship with the World Health Organization, which — while not perfect — is essential to coordinating a global response during a pandemic.

By how many orders of magnitude was our testing capacity scaled up? Just two orders of magnitude (100X) or did Biden/Harris get us 10,000X the testing capacity that prevailed in the Dark Days of Donald?

And where did President Biden hide the promised “Nationwide Pandemic Dashboard”?

How about the economy? Did Biden promise the highest inflation since Jimmy Carter? Not according to Google. joebiden.com barely uses the word “inflation”. One thing that raging inflation will facilitate: Biden’s promise to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, which will also be the price of a stick of chewing gum.

Foreign policy?

Biden will end the forever wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East, which have cost us untold blood and treasure. As he has long argued, Biden will bring the vast majority of our troops home from Afghanistan and narrowly focus our mission on Al-Qaeda and ISIS. And he will end our support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. Staying entrenched in unwinnable conflicts only drains our capacity to lead on other issues that require our attention, and it prevents us from rebuilding the other instruments of American power.

I’d say that President Biden delivered on this dream!

A taco shop at the Delray Beach Market:

Biden promised to discriminate in hiring on the basis of membership in the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community:

Biden will nominate and appoint federal officials and judges who represent the diversity of the American people, including LGBTQ+ people.

How many people who wouldn’t otherwise have qualified for high positions did Joe Biden appoint? And did they have to wear these socks in order to get hired? (also from Delray Beach)

On education:

The challenge facing our schools is unprecedented. President Trump has made it much worse. We had a window to get this right. And, Trump blew it. His administration failed to heed the experts and take the steps required to reduce infections in our communities. As a result, cases have exploded.

Joe Biden has a simple five-step roadmap to support local decision-making on reopening schools safely

Get the Virus Under Control:… Implement nationwide testing-and-tracing, including doubling the number of drive-through testing sites;

Where are these extra sites and how does one sign up for nationwide test and trace?

Readers, especially those who voted for Biden: did your dreams of what President Biden would do come true?

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It will be tougher to get a parking space in Palm Beach

“Rolls-Royce, Bentley, BMW Sales Surge as Cheaper Brands Lag Behind” (WSJ):

The most luxurious brands such as Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Porsche and BMW have reported record sales.

Bentley sold 14,659 cars last year, an increase of 31% from the year before and a record for the company. Porsche, also owned by VW, sold 301,915 cars, an increase of 11% world-wide. Both brands posted growth in the U.S., Europe, and China.

Rolls-Royce, owned by Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, whose tailor-made superluxury cars have starting prices of more than $300,000, sold a record 5,586 cars last year, up 49% from the year before.

Martin Fritsches, president of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Americas, told the Journal that buyers of superluxury cars like Rolls-Royce are younger today. The average age of a customer is about 43 years old, which means many of their clientele are in their 30s.

In part, Mr. Fritsches said, Rolls-Royce’s wealthy customers have been sheltered from the hardships felt by many during the pandemic. They benefited more from the economic recovery, the cryptocurrency boom and soaring stock prices. And many of the buyers are first-time Rolls owners, he said, including young entrepreneurs who got rich on the stock market and cryptocurrencies.

Meanwhile, when we took our Honda Odyssey in for an oil change recently, the dealer had exactly 0 new Hondas in stock. If we’d wanted to replace our Odyssey it would have required paying 20% more than we paid a year ago and waiting 1-2 months.

“Global chip shortage: Everything you need to know” (TechRepublic, November 2021):

A shortage in the supply of semiconductors first hit the automotive industry during the COVID-19 pandemic and has had a cascading effect, causing global disruption. The shortage can be traced back to the first half of 2020, when overall consumer demand for cars declined during the lockdown. This forced chip manufacturers to shift their focus to other areas, such as computer equipment and mobile devices, which spiked in demand with more people working remotely.

Part of the problem is that the return on investment isn’t compelling enough to build new foundries—which cost billions of dollars and take years to construct—to satisfy the demand by automakers, according to IDC. Automakers operate in a just-in-time environment without business continuity planning, according to Mario Morales, program vice president of the semiconductor group at IDC.

After they canceled orders early on in the pandemic, disgruntled suppliers turned to other markets that were still doing well, such as consumer electronics, and automakers found themselves lower on the priority list.

I still don’t get it. A replacement for our Odyssey is at least $7,000 more than we paid for the identical vehicle in January 2021. Let’s say that Bidenflation has driven up Honda’s costs by $3,000. Assuming that Honda made a profit on our Odyssey, Honda could still pay up to $4,000 for some chips and sell Odysseys at a profit (they’d have to raise the price to dealers so that Honda recovered the $3,000 premium over sticker that the dealer is currently charging). Apple can’t pay $4,000 for the chips that go inside a $1,400 iPhone. Microsoft can’t pay $4,000 for the chips that go inside a $500 Xbox Series X. Econ 101 suggests that the car companies can outbid anyone other than the U.S. military for the chips that they want. How is it possible that integrated circuit supplies are limiting car production?

Consistent with the WSJ article, I did find a Cadillac available for immediate delivery near the Venice (FL) airport:

“Microlino EV, Adorable Two-Seater, Going into Production in Europe” (Car and Driver):

“Our goal was to deliver the first vehicles to customers within the end of the year [2021], but the worldwide supply-chain chaos is affecting us like many other carmakers,” the company indicated. “Despite our preparations to order crucial parts way in advance, the situation has gotten much worse and is now affecting more and more parts. Now, even commodity parts like simple connectors for the wiring harness have become scarce and have lead times of up to 50 weeks!”

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Finished San Fransicko

I have finished San Fransicko, the book by a self-described lifelong “progressive and Democrat” that I wrote about in Reading list: San Fransicko.

Let’s go to the solution first. The author describes 50 years of failure by California government agencies and 15-20 years of spectacular failure by state and local government agencies, with ever-growing revenue for non-profit contractors. What’s the alternative to failed state government?

What California needs is a new, single, and powerful state agency. Let’s call it Cal-Psych. It would be built as a separate institution from existing institutions, including state and county health departments and health providers. Cal-Psych would efficiently and humanely treat the seriously mentally ill and addicts, while providing housing to the homeless on a contingency-based system. Cal-Psych’s CEO would be best-in-class and report directly to the governor. It is only in this way that the voters can hold the governor accountable for the crisis on the streets. Cal-Psych would have significant buying power, be attractive to employees, and be able to move clients to where they need to be. It would be able to purchase psychiatric beds, board and care facilities, and treatment facilities from across the state. And it would be able to offer the mentally ill and those suffering substance use disorders drug and psychiatric treatment somewhere other than in an open-air drug scene.

What if someone is homeless because he/she/ze/they is consuming opioids?

Cal-Psych would do as much as legally, ethically, and practically possible to establish voluntary drug treatment and psychiatric care and would also work with the courts and law enforcement to enforce involuntary care through assisted outpatient treatment and conservatorship. The low-hanging fruit, according to Rene, is getting twenty-something-year-old opioid addicts off the street and into medically assisted treatment programs, since we have good substitutes for opioids in the form of Suboxone and methadone.

What’s in these “substitutes for opioids”? Suboxone isn’t packed with healing essential always-available-even-when-schools-are-shut cannabis, but it does contain buprenorphine… an opioid. In other words, if someone is taking too many opioids, give him/her/zir/them more opioids.

So… the solution to failed government is more government and the solution to drug addiction is government-supplied drugs.

Homelessness certainly is a growth industry in California:

Between 2010 and 2020, the number of homeless rose by 31 percent in California but declined 19 percent in the rest of the United States.2 As a result, there were, as of 2020, at least 161,000 total homeless people in California, with about 114,000 of them unsheltered, sleeping in tents on sidewalks, in parks, and alongside highways. Homelessness had become the number one issue in the state.3 Half of all California voters surveyed said they saw homeless people on the street five times a week.

A big part of the reason for the failure of the homeless industrial complex has had to do with perverse incentives, progressive resistance to mandatory treatment, and the insistence on permanent supportive housing over shelters. But it also has to do with the neoliberal model of outsourcing services. Instead of governments providing such services directly, they give grants to nonprofit service providers who are unaccountable for their performance. “There is no statutory requirement for government to address homelessness,” complained University of Pennsylvania researcher Dennis Culhane. “It’s mainly the domain of a bunch of charities who are unlicensed, unfunded, relatively speaking, run by unqualified people who do a shitty job. There’s no formal government responsibility. It’s only something we dream of. And that is fundamentally part of the problem.”23 Nobody can even accurately calculate how much money is being spent. The state auditor calculates that California spends $12 billion total on homelessness, and it is not clear how much of that is overlap with other state spending. The Legislative Analyst’s Office found many difficulties: “Difficulty assessing how much the state is spending on a particular approach towards addressing homelessness, for example—prevention versus intervention efforts. Difficulty determining how programs work collaboratively. Difficulty assessing what programs are collectively accomplishing.”

There is a philosophical-religious basis for why Californians decided that they wanted to be surrounded by tent cities:

Unlike traditional religions, many untraditional religions are largely invisible to the people who hold them most strongly. A secular religion like victimology is powerful because it meets the contemporary psychological, social, and spiritual needs of its believers, but also because it appears obvious, not ideological, to them. Advocates of “centering” victims, giving them special rights, and allowing them to behave in ways that undermine city life, don’t believe, in my experience, that they are adherents to a new religion, but rather that they are more compassionate and more moral than those who hold more traditional views.

Some more quotes on how San Francisco got to this point:

How and why do progressives ruin cities? So far we have explored six reasons. They divert funding from homeless shelters to permanent supportive housing, resulting in insufficient shelter space. They defend the right of people they characterize as Victims to camp on sidewalks, in parks, and along highways, as well as to break other laws, including against public drug use and defecation. They intimidate experts, policy makers, and journalists by attacking them as being motivated by a hatred of the poor, people of color, and the sick, and as causing violence against them. They reduce penalties for shoplifting, drug dealing, and public drug use. They prefer homelessness and incarceration to involuntary hospitalization for the mentally ill and addicted. And their ideology blinds them to the harms of harm reduction, Housing First, and camp-anywhere policies, leading them to misattribute the addiction, untreated mental illness, and homeless crisis to poverty and to policies and politicians dating back to the 1980s.

There is a chapter on Jim Jones, who was close to former mayor George Moscone and Willie Brown.

Moscone made Jones the chairman of the powerful San Francisco Housing Commission.12 Jones cultivated progressives with money and favors. He made large donations to the ACLU, the NAACP, and United Farm Workers. Jones and Moscone met privately with vice presidential candidate Walter Mondale on a campaign plane a few days before the 1976 presidential election, and Mondale praised People’s Temple shortly afterward. Jones met with First Lady Rosalynn Carter several times. Governor Jerry Brown praised Jones. Glide Memorial Church’s Rev. Cecil Williams loved Jones. There is a photo from 1977 of a smiling Williams awarding Jones the church’s “Martin Luther King, Jr. Award.”

A conservative member of the Board of Supervisors who was defeated in the mayoral election by Moscone accused the new mayor, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the rest of the city establishment of being blind to Jones’s extremism. “There’s no radical plot in San Francisco,” insisted Moscone, in response. “There’s no one I’ve appointed to any city position whom I regard as radical or extremist.”

Brown was master of ceremonies at a dinner for Jones in the fall of 1976 attended by an adulatory crowd of the rich and powerful, including Governor Jerry Brown.

San Francisco’s establishment stood by Jones even after a California magazine, New West, owned by Rupert Murdoch, published an exposé of Jones’s beatings of Temple members and financial abuses in August 1977. The article was written by a San Francisco Chronicle reporter and was meant for the Chronicle to publish. But the newspaper killed the story because it didn’t want to alienate Jones, whom it viewed as central to its plans to expand the Chronicle’s circulation in the heavily African American Fillmore District. Jones also managed to avoid investigation and prosecution in part by getting the district attorney to hire as deputy district attorney Jones’s longtime attorney and confidant.

Harvey Milk, too, was tarnished by his association with Jones. In the fall of 1977, Milk wrote to President Carter’s secretary of health, education, and welfare requesting that Social Security checks be sent to elderly Temple members in Guyana. “People’s Temple,” wrote Milk, has “established a beautiful retirement community in Guyana.”

“Even as the bloated bodies of the dead were removed from the jungle and the wounded were airlifted by the U.S. Air Force to hospitals in the United States,” wrote a historian, “Brown said he had ‘no regrets’ over his association with Jones.” They repeatedly disavowed responsibility. Said Moscone, “it’s clear that if there was a sinister plan, then we were taken in. But I’m not taking any responsibility. It’s not mine to shoulder.”

Moscone was ultimately killed by Dan White, an anti-Progressive former firefighter. The author tries to explain how Dan White was acquitted of what certainly looked like premeditated murder:

The jury appeared to pity White. What seemed to be particularly influential was a recording of White breaking down in tears during his confession to the police.

Playing the victim, or what researchers call victim signaling, appears to be working better than ever. Society’s definition of trauma and victimization is broadening, researchers find. As a result, there are more people who identify as victims today, even as actual trauma and victimization are declining. Researchers find that people are increasingly “moral typecasting,” or creating highly polarized categories of “victim” and “perpetrator.” And they find that people who portray themselves as “victims” believe they will be better protected from accusations of wrongdoing. In one study, participants judged how responsible an imaginary car thief was for his actions. One group was told that he had a genetic oversensitivity to pain. The other group was not given that detail. The people in the group who were told that the man was oversensitive to pain held him less responsible for his action.

Victim signalers are more likely to boast of their victim status after being accused of discriminating against others, or of being privileged. And so-called virtuous victims, people who broadcast their morality, alongside their victimization, are more likely to gain resources from others, researchers find, and display Dark Triad personality traits, than victim signalers who did not signal their virtue.

San Fransicko is worth reading, if only to see just how bad things can get for the middle class and even upper middle class before the elites need to worry about losing elections or personally experiencing anything negative. I find it tough to believe that the author’s proposed solution, a new massive state bureaucracy, would be effective. Suppose that the new state agency worked precisely as hoped, unlike any of the previous or existing government initiatives described in the book. If California were then to deliver on its promises to its current homeless, why wouldn’t that attract a more or less unlimited supply of new homeless people from other states, other countries (just walk across the border), etc.?

In the meantime, since California progressives are so passionate about helping the homeless, the least that folks in other states can do is purchase bus tickets for any homeless person who wants to go to California!

Greyhound bus photos below are from February 2020, Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, currently a Deplorable-free environment:


What counts as proof of vaccination? You must provide both:

  • Your vaccination card issued by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (which includes the name of the person vaccinated, the type of vaccine provided and the date(s) dose(s) administered), or similar documentation issued by another foreign government agency, such as World Health Organization, a digital vaccine record, a legible photograph of the vaccination card, or documentation of a COVID-19 vaccination from a healthcare provider; AND
  • Your photo ID.

(It is not in any way racist to require a photo ID.)

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Omicron is in Retreat

Adding some support to the Vietnam War analogy, today’s New York Times says “Omicron Is in Retreat”, with the implication that any decline in “cases” is due to the efforts of the human army and its generals (the Covidcrats):

In the human v. virus war (it has to be a war because one army is retreating), humans are “winning” and it will be humans who decide on when to “close the books” on the spread of the virus:

Since early last week, new cases in Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey and New York have fallen by more than 30 percent. They’re down by more than 10 percent in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. In California, cases may have peaked.

“Let’s be clear on this — we are winning,” Mayor Eric Adams of New York said yesterday. Kathy Hochul, the governor of New York State, said during a budget speech, “We hope to close the books on this winter surge soon.”

The Tet Offensive of SARS-CoV-2 may continue through Tet (February 1), however:

The Covid situation in the U.S. remains fairly grim, with overwhelmed hospitals and nearly 2,000 deaths a day. It’s likely to remain grim into early February. Caseloads are still high in many communities, and death trends typically lag case trends by three weeks.

On FaceTime last night with a group of friends back in Lincoln, Maskachusetts, a physician said that his hospital was full and transferring patients to other hospitals. Quite a few of the “COVID cases” within the hospital had been acquired in the hospital, due to folks ignoring the April 2020 idea of building renal dialysis-style clinics for COVID treatment (would keep most COVID patients from going to the hospital in the first place). The Democrats in the group then riffed about their dream of denying medical care to the unvaccinated. In their view, it was inconceivable that a vaccinated (“responsible”) human could require hospitalization for COVID-19, but the unvaccinated were nonetheless making it tough for the vaccinated to get ordinary hospital care, e.g., for cardiac issues.

My response to this virtue-based triage system was that, due to American incompetence with keeping medical records and the country’s persistent refusal to implement a chip-in-the-neck system, anyone who was about to be kicked out of the hospital for being unvaccinated (“Djokoviced,” after the first athlete to be banned and deported for not taking drugs) could simply say “I was vaccinated at a Walmart in Punxsutawney,” but lost my vaccine papers. How would the hospital in Maskachusetts be able to check?

A generally conservative member of the group (though he had voted for Obama) pointed out that we did not deny medical care to the obese, to alcoholics, or to drug addicts (I corrected him using CDC preferred terms, such as “Persons who use drugs/people who inject drugs” and “Persons with alcohol use disorder”). This was not persuasive, however, and the Democrats still wanted to exclude the unvaccinated from health care, as they are already excluded from public places in Boston. Confirming our loyal reader/commenter Mike’s worst suspicions, I suggested that the final stage of the Democrats’ triage system for the unvaccinated could be a job as an extra in the next Alec Baldwin film.

Speaking of Massachusetts, it look as though the January 15, 2022 implementation of a vaccine paper check requirement was highly effective. Nearly 15,000 cases of COVID-19 occurred on January 14. Excluding the unvaccinated from restaurants, etc., reduced infection to 0 cases on January 15. From Google:

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Will we ever know how the CDC’s cloth mask recommendations changed the COVID-19 death statistics?

“The C.D.C. concedes that cloth masks do not protect against the virus as effectively as other masks.” (NYT, Friday):

When the C.D.C. finally recommended masks for ordinary Americans, it emphasized cloth face coverings. It took months more for the C.D.C. and the W.H.O. to concede that the coronavirus can be carried by tiny droplets called aerosols, which can linger indoors for hours.

After nearly two years we learn that a bandana is not “the best” PPE.

I’m wondering if there would be any way to tease out the effects of federal and state government mask orders and propaganda campaigns on COVID-19 deaths. (Here’s one place in Jupiter, Florida that takes CDC guidance seriously…


Theory 1: while cloth masks are garbage compared to a professionally fitted N95 mask used with a full set of Ebola ward precautions, including frequent hand-washing and disposing of the mask after one use, they “did something.” So COVID-19 deaths were perhaps delayed (14 days to flatten the curve) or maybe even prevented (though the mechanism for prevention is unclear).

Theory 2 (core Church of Sweden): cloth masks had almost no effect, just as other Western government efforts were doomed to fail in a “virus in charge” world.

Theory 3: Anders Tegnell, the MD/PhD at the Swedish public health helm in spring 2020, suggested that European Covidcrats consider whether cloth masks and surgical masks could actually intensify a COVID-19 epidemic due to giving people a “false sense of security.” In other words, people who would have stayed home would instead go out with a cloth mask on. People who would have kept a 6′ distance would instead forget.

A friend criticized me for heaping scorn on well-meaning public health officials in the U.S., e.g., calling them Karens and referring to “face rags” rather than “protective cloth masks.” My response:

You’re basically saying “How can you question the $10 trillion two-year anti-COVID war in which the best and brightest U.S. bureaucrats have embroiled American schoolchildren and taxpayers?” Isn’t this the same question that people who supported the Vietnam War (albeit much much cheaper, even adjusted for inflation, and much less disruptive to the average American’s life, and probably far less deadly to Americans (lockdown-induced extra opioid deaths alone will soon exceed American Vietnam War deaths)) asked of the anti-Vietnam War contrarians? For the supporters of the Vietnam War, anyone who said that it was unwinnable and/or actually immoral was unpatriotic as well as crazy/stupid/unscientific. JFK and Lyndon Johnson had assembled the smartest people in the U.S. to hang out at the White House and they’d proven with charts and statistics that the Vietnam War could be won and was being won. Added to this technocratic competence, the pro-Vietnam War folks were motivated by the purest of intentions.

My mocking the cloth masks that the experts told Americans to wear could actually have saved lives, no? By urging people to use common sense and reflect that a wet bandana was not effective PPE, the term “wet face rag” could have resulted in someone either (a) using an N95 mask that would actually provide some protection, or (b) staying home. Why not reserve your criticism for the public health officials who told people that cloth masks were effective? Isn’t it a far greater sin to have told people to nurture a bacteria colony in front of their piehole as a COVID-preventive than anything I did?

… Because of misplaced faith in masks and vaccines, Americans avoided the hard work of restructuring society to thwart respiratory viruses. Los Angeles will soon host a 200,000-person gathering (Super Bowl). Disney and Universal keep thousands of people from all over the country and the world crammed together in indoor lines every day. If not for faith in masks and vaccines, everyone would agree with me that it is crazy to allow these parks to reopen before they restructure their lines to be outdoors-only.

You can infer from the above that I am a Church of Sweden parishioner. However, as is typical for Church of Swedeners, I admit that I can’t be sure that I’m right.

Will #Science ever convincingly settle this debate? The one good study of masks as a public health intervention (as opposed to masks in a lab setting) is the Bangladesh randomized controlled trial (Nature summary). It showed a slight reduction in infections over an 8-week period with surgical masks (no statistically significant effect with cloth masks), but in a society where people have less control over their environment than in the U.S. The typical resident of Bangladesh can’t choose whether to say home and work via Zoom, whether to use a private car instead of public transport, whether to isolate in a corner of the 2,300 square-foot house shared by 3 people, etc.

Maybe Florida versus California is the best that we can do as a natural experiment within the U.S.? Both have climates that enable a lot to be done outdoors. From a Stanford Medical School heretic:

From the above data we could infer that the central Church of Sweden tenet (Theory 2) is the correct answer, i.e., that masks had no effect. But we could also infer that the (cloth) mask orders increased the death rate (Theory 3). By September 2021, when the above chart was published, California had enjoyed nearly 1.5 extra years of protection via lockdown/shutdown compared to Florida, in addition to the masks. So if we believe that the lockdown/shutdown (except for “essential” marijuana stores of course) orders reduced the COVID-19 death rate, we have to suspect that California’s mask orders pushed California COVID-19-tagged deaths up.

Speaking of risk compensation, here’s a message from a physicians’ discussion forum right at the peak of the Omicron surge:

“My twins turned 14 today and had 8 (immunized and also mostly previously infected) kids over for a party. I was told none of them are straight. They played spin the bottle, apparently, and I thought how awesome a game, when everyone feels comfortable kissing everyone! That was NOT my middle school experience. I know there’s a pandemic, but I still thought: cool.”

Maybe a COVID-19-safe version of spin the bottle could be played on Zoom? Each time a person is selected to kiss, he/she/ze/they kisses his/his/zir/their family pet. Mindy the Crippler would be a fan!

And, finally, since this post mentions Sweden:

In response to a comment below, about the CDC recommending cloth masks only as an emergency measure in spring 2020, a current CDC web page, updated August 2021:

Note that the only example are cloth masks.


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The 6-year-old hater

Rousseau thought that children were innately innocent, but maybe that is because he never reared any.

On the way to the Stuart Boat Show, we stopped at a favorite local restaurant for breakfast. I finished my Egg McMuffin before our 6-year-old had consumed his Big Breakfast with Hotcakes and decided to share with him some news of the world. I stumbled upon “China Bans Flights From U.S. as Covid-19 Measures Intensify” (WSJ):

The 6-year-old’s comment? “But they started Covid.”

Freed from the supervision of Senior Management, the young hater enjoyed his first caramel apple later that day. After sampling this new delicacy, he said, “You know what would be better? A caramel apple with no apple. The same size and shape, but all caramel.”

(Why don’t the Chinese postpone the 2022 Olympics until they’re willing to allow spectators? If the Japanese could kick the Olympics a year down the road, what would be wrong with a postponement to December 2022 or February 2023, for example? If we believe Science, COVID-19 won’t be a problem then. See “Fauci: US can get Covid under control by next year with more jabs” (Guardian, November 16, 2021), for example.)


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MIT: Groundbreaking research on politics and racial justice

The December issue of MIT’s alumni magazine, Technology Review, arrived. this includes a special sub-magazine that is only about things that happen on the MIT campus or that are done by MIT alumni. The cover story: “MIT’s new chancellor laid a foundation for leadership through her groundbreaking research on politics and racial justice.”

What else was in the issue? “Discrimination by the numbers”:

When Phyllis Ann Wallace reached Yale University, in the mid-1940s, she was used to facing obstacles and proceeding anyway. Women weren’t expected to go into economics, especially at the graduate level, and for Black women like herself, breaking into the field decades before schools, buses, or workplaces were legally integrated was practically unheard-of.

Her book MBAs on the Fast Track chronicled how the experiences of men and women with equal education differ, and why women work longer hours for the same compensation.

She arrived [at MIT] as a visiting scholar at the Sloan School and quickly moved up to become the school’s first female professor, in 1975. In her office overlooking the Charles River, she wrote books and papers on women in the labor force, particularly Black women, often inviting students to coauthor or co-edit. She worked to ensure that male MIT students were aware of equity issues, believing that “if you can really educate them now, hopefully they will go out and bring about the revolution wherever they are.”

(Note: Americans upset by “why women work longer hours for the same compensation” and who want to work for just one hour and earn a lot more than the average MBA can refer to “Child Support Litigation without a Marriage” and/or the $2.5 million tax-free example of Hunter Biden’s plaintiff (she didn’t waste time getting an MBA!))

Anything about Science (the new capitalized-like-God version)? A brief interior article noted that David Julius, Class of ’77, “shared the 2021 Nobel in Physiology or Medicine for discoveries about how the body senses touch and temperature.” In other Nobel-ish news, a current MIT professor won the Nobel in economics.

Speaking of elite university experts on comparative victimology, “‘Rhodes Scholar’ claimed she grew up poor and abused — then her story started to unravel” (New York Post):

In November 2020, when University of Pennsylvania graduate student Mackenzie Fierceton won the prestigious and highly competitive Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford — one of just 32 scholars selected from a pool of 2,300 applicants — she was praised by the Ivy League school’s president in a newsletter.

“Mackenzie is so deserving of this prestigious opportunity,” declared president Amy Gutmann of the 23-year-old from suburban St. Louis. “As a first-generation [to go to college] low-income student and a former foster youth, Mackenzie is passionate about championing young people [and] dedicating herself to a life of public service.”

Multiple college consultants told The Post that the college application process now features more questions about overcoming obstacles. The 2021-2022 essay prompts from Common App, the organization that oversees undergrad applications for more than 900 schools, include “Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure.”

Categorizing herself as a first-generation, low-income student with a history of horrific abuse — who also earned nearly straight A’s and was student body president in high school — Fierceton certainly fit the bill. She was admitted to Penn in 2015 to study political science, then began studying for a clinical master’s degree in social work in 2018.

When Fierceton’s Rhodes Scholarship was announced, the Philadelphia Inquirer profiled the academic star in November 2020, noting that she “grew up poor, cycling through the rocky child welfare system [and] bounced from one foster home to the next.”

As Fierceton said in that story: “I would trade [the Rhodes honor] to have been adopted and have a family.”

But after that Nov. 22, 2020, profile ran, an anonymous accuser sent an email to Penn and the Rhodes Trust, claiming Fierceton’s story was “blatantly dishonest.” The email reportedly alleged that Fierceton grew up in St. Louis, Mo., with her mother, an educated radiologist; that her family was upper-middle class; and that she had attended a fancy private high school and enjoyed such high-end hobbies as horseback riding.

According to Winkelstein’s subsequent report, Fierceton was raised in an upper-middle-class household; it also notes her mother is a radiologist and that her grandfather had graduated from college.

The Penn victimological bureaucrats criticize the young student for purportedly lying, but take no responsibility for their own incompetence. These are paid full-time victimologists and they can’t distinguish between true victims and the child of a radiologist? How are ordinary Americans supposed to accept the Ivy League say-gooders as experts on social and racial justice?

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