Telescreen puck for behind friends’ wall-mounted TVs?

How about this idea for an Arduino project… a puck that can be quietly stuck to the back of a friend’s TV when you’re visiting. After a 72-hour delay, the puck begins emitting the dialog that Winston Smith heard from the telecreens in 1984. An example:

’Attention! Your attention, please! A newsflash has this moment arrived from the Malabar front. Our forces in South India have won a glorious victory. I am authorized to say that the action we are now reporting may well bring the war within measurable distance of its end.

(maybe update the above with reference to Ukraine instead)

Thirty to forty group! Take your places, please. Thirties to forties!

Smith! 6079 Smith W.! Yes, YOU! Bend lower, please! You can do better than that. You’re not trying. Lower, please! THAT’S better, comrade.

THERE, comrades! THAT’S how I want to see you doing it. Watch me again. I’m thirty-nine and I’ve had four children. Now look.

You see MY knees aren’t bent. You can all do it if you want to. Anyone under forty-five is perfectly capable of touching his toes. We don’t all have the privilege of fighting in the front line, but at least we can all keep fit. Remember our boys on the Malabar front! And the sailors in the Floating Fortresses! Just think what THEY have to put up with. Now try again. That’s better, comrade, that’s MUCH better.

(update the last one to refer to Ukraine and replace “his toes” with “his/her/zir/their toes”?)

Now we can see you. Stand out in the middle of the room. Stand back to back. Clasp your hands behind your heads. Do not touch one another.

Smith! 6079 Smith W! Uncover your face. No faces covered in the cells.

Any other updates to Orwell’s 1949 text?

Separately, a few excerpts from the Wikipedia page regarding Orwell...

At the outbreak of the Second World War, Orwell’s wife Eileen started working in the Censorship Department of the Ministry of Information in central London … Eileen went into hospital for a hysterectomy and died under anaesthetic on 29 March 1945 … [1984] was published in June 1949, less than a year before his death. … Sonia was a beauty, and her act of marrying a sick wealthy man, when his death was almost certain, has left many to doubt her intentions.

Orwell was also openly against homosexuality, at a time when such prejudice was common. Speaking at the 2003 George Orwell Centenary Conference, Daphne Patai said: “Of course he was homophobic. That has nothing to do with his relations with his homosexual friends. Certainly, he had a negative attitude and a certain kind of anxiety, a denigrating attitude towards homosexuality. That is definitely the case. I think his writing reflects that quite fully.”

Orwell used the homophobic epithets “nancy” and “pansy”, for example, in expressions of contempt for what he called the “pansy Left”, and “nancy poets”, i.e. left-wing homosexual or bisexual writers and intellectuals such as Stephen Spender and W. H. Auden.

Here’s a possibly useful building block:

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Write an alternative history of the U.S. if proper COVID policies had been followed?

How about this idea for a novel: Describe what the U.S. would look like in 2024 if proper COVID policies had been followed in 2020-2021.

Suppose that the U.S. had been run by Science-following Democrats without interference from Republicans or Republican-appointed federal judges. “COVID-19: Democratic Voters Support Harsh Measures Against Unvaccinated” (January 2021) describes a Rasmussen poll:

Fifty-nine percent (59%) of Democratic voters would favor a government policy requiring that citizens remain confined to their homes at all times, except for emergencies, if they refuse to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Nearly half (48%) of Democratic voters think federal and state governments should be able to fine or imprison individuals who publicly question the efficacy of the existing COVID-19 vaccines on social media, television, radio, or in online or digital publications.

Forty-five percent (45%) of Democrats would favor governments requiring citizens to temporarily live in designated facilities or locations if they refuse to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Twenty-nine percent (29%) of Democratic voters would support temporarily removing parents’ custody of their children if parents refuse to take the COVID-19 vaccine.

The survey also found that more black voters (63%) than whites (45%), Hispanics (55%) or other minorities (32%) support Biden’s vaccine mandate for government workers and employees of large companies.

President Biden’s strongest supporters are most likely to endorse the harshest punishments against those who won’t get the COVID-19 vaccine. Among voters who have a Very Favorable impression of Biden, 51% are in favor of government putting the unvaccinated in “designated facilities,” and 54% favor imposing fines or prison sentences on vaccine critics.

(Note that I previously proposed Protection Camps for the Deplorables and euthanizing the unvaccinated to ensure sufficient hospital capacity for the Righteous.)

Perhaps the novel could follow two families, since statistics are never as interesting as personal stories. Alyssa and Emily Good have two non-binary children together: Dakota and Zen. All get vaccinated and, whenever recommended by the CDC, boosted. Alyssa works at a reproductive health care clinic providing abortion care to pregnant people. Emily works at a non-profit organization fighting anti-2SLGBTQQIA+ hate. They enjoy a rich life in a COVID-free United States and get together with neighbors in their means-tested affordable housing complex to hang BLM and Rainbow banners.

Gunner and Katelynn Bad breed like rabbits because they reject the Sacrament of Abortion Care and have four kids: Cooper, Mallory, Rhett, and Josie (only 3 months old when the Great Removal begins). Gunner sells pickup trucks and goes hunting on weekends while Katelynn stays at home. The Bad parents, having refused the Sacrament of Fauci, are confined to their exurban house while their kids are taken away by a platoon of National Guard troops who arrive in Bradley Fighting Vehicles. The 3-month-old is allowed 2 Zoom sessions per week with the parents, on account of her young age, while the old kids get 1 Zoom session.

I fed all of the above to ChatGPT. Out came a mushy plot titled “The Great Divide” in which “A common threat or challenge unites the Good and Bad families” and “The families reevaluate their beliefs and values”. My further instruction:

Rewrite this so that the Good and Bad families never come back together and the Bad family is sent to a higher security prison after asserting, contrary to Science, that the COVID-19 vaccines of 2021 did not prevent infection or transmission.

The novel this time was called “Worlds Apart”. Here’s an excerpt:

Then I asked ChatGPT to write the first chapter. Here it is, not in quote style for readability:

Chapter 1: Parallel Lives

The morning sun stretched its golden rays across the suburban landscape, illuminating rows of houses that differed only in minor details. In the means-tested affordable housing complex, the Good family began their day like any other.

Alyssa and Emily Good rose early, setting their alarms to make the most of the limited hours they had to themselves. They were the kind of couple that fit together seamlessly, like puzzle pieces that had found their match. Alyssa, a caring and dedicated nurse, worked at a reproductive health care clinic providing abortion care to pregnant individuals. Emily spent her days at a non-profit organization fighting against anti-2SLGBTQQIA+ hate. Together, they created a home full of love and acceptance for their two non-binary children, Dakota and Zen.

The Goods had eagerly embraced the COVID-19 vaccination campaign, seeing it as their civic duty to protect themselves and others from the pandemic. They kept up with every recommendation by the CDC, receiving boosters as needed, and found solace in the knowledge that they were doing their part to keep their family and community safe.

A few miles away, the Bad family occupied a larger, more secluded home. Gunner and Katelynn Bad, fervent believers in traditional values, had built a life together based on self-reliance and independence. With four children – Cooper, Mallory, Rhett, and baby Josie – the Bads were an ever-growing family. Gunner worked at a local dealership, selling pickup trucks, while Katelynn, a proud stay-at-home mom, nurtured their children.

Unlike the Goods, the Bads rejected the COVID-19 vaccination campaign. They saw it as an infringement on their personal liberties, a belief reinforced by the misinformation they consumed on social media. In their world, the vaccines were an untested, unnecessary risk. And so, as the deadline for vaccination loomed, the Bads chose defiance over compliance.

The tension in the air grew thick as the consequences of this choice settled in. When the government announced the Protection Camps for the unvaccinated, the Bad family scoffed, believing the threat to be little more than a scare tactic. But as more families were forcibly removed from their homes, the reality of their situation became impossible to ignore.

The day the National Guard arrived at the Bad family’s doorstep, it was raining, the sky filled with menacing clouds. Gunner and Katelynn watched in terror as their children were taken from them, the younger ones crying for their parents. Baby Josie, just three months old, was whisked away in a military vehicle, her cries barely audible over the sound of the rain.

The Good family, meanwhile, continued to live in relative peace. They regularly gathered with their neighbors in the housing complex, hanging BLM and Rainbow banners as a show of solidarity. As they shared stories and laughter, the fate of the Bad family seemed like a distant nightmare – something that could never touch their happy, vaccinated existence.

But the fates of the Good and Bad families were more intertwined than they knew. As the Bads were confined to their home, they began a desperate search for any means of reuniting with their children. At the same time, the Goods began to question the harshness of the policies that had forced a family apart.

The world had changed, irrevocably, and the two families found themselves on opposite sides of a deep and unbridgeable divide. Unbeknownst to them, their paths would soon cross, and their beliefs would be challenged in ways they could never have imagined.

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More about The Swamp (book)

Second post regarding The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida, and the Politics of Paradise, by Michael Grunwald. We’ll pick up the story at the dawn of the 20th century… (photos from Grassy Waters Preserve the other day)

NAPOLEON BROWARD declared war on the swamp during his 1904 campaign for governor, unfurling giant multicolored maps of the Everglades at campaign rallies, promising to bust a few holes in the coastal ridge and create an instant Empire of the Everglades. “It would indeed be a sad commentary on the intelligence and energy of the people of Florida to confess that so simple an engineering feat as the drainage of a body 21 feet above the level of the sea was beyond their power,” he taunted his audiences.

Broward has been vilified by modern environmentalists for his intense assault on the Everglades, but he was considered a staunch conservationist in his day. He supported strict laws to protect fish, game, birds, and oysters, and his top priority was the reclamation of a swamp for agriculture and development. Broward never stopped to think what draining the Everglades might do to the fish, game, birds, and oysters that lived there, but hardly anyone did. The conservationist John Gifford dedicated his book of Everglades essays to Broward, explaining that “the man who makes two blades of grass grow where only one grew before is the proverbial public benefactor, but the man who inaugurates a movement to render 3,000,000 acres of waste land highly productive deserves endless commendation.”

When a canal-based drainage project did succeed, the projects could be substantial.

Swampland the state had sold to settlers for 25 cents an acre now produced harvests of $600 an acre for tomatoes, $1,000 for lettuce, $1,500 for celery. At a time when farmers were struggling to survive on 160-acre homesteads out west, the farmer Walter Waldin netted $3,400 on six acres in six months in the Everglades—after building a home and feeding a family of five.

One problem, however, was that the canals were temporary:

[James Wright, a former high school math teacher hired by the Feds to study the challenge] also ignored the high cost of maintaining canals, a problem exacerbated by the gentle gradient of the Everglades, which produced currents too slow for the canals to scour themselves out, and by the explosive proliferation of the water hyacinth, an attractive but invasive weed that had clogged almost all the state’s waterways since a well-intentioned gardener named Mrs. Fuller imported it to Florida in 1884.

The setting aside of swamp for parks began in 1916 with a 4,000-acre Royal Palm State Park that became the core of Everglades National Park. Meanwhile, humans were trashing the rest. Regarding the Miami area:

Meanwhile, 34,000 acres of the Everglades had been converted into farms, and much of the rest was parched by ditches, drought, and the Tamiami Trail. “The drying up of the Glades, due to the various canals, is playing havoc with the birds here,” one surveyor wrote. “The finer ones are fast disappearing. They lack feeding grounds.” The water table was dropping fast, drying out springs that once bubbled to the surface on Cape Sable and within Biscayne Bay, reducing the downward hydraulic pressure caused by the weight of fresh water—the “head”—that kept salt water from the region’s estuaries from intruding into its aquifers. By 1920, Miami’s overpumped well fields at the edge of the Everglades were turning salty. The declining water table was also fueling the fires that raged in overdrained Everglades wetlands. Broward had ridiculed the idea that a swamp could catch fire, and Randolph had predicted soil shrinkage of no more than eight inches, but some of the Everglades had already lost three to five feet of the black muck that had inspired so many pioneer dreams. This was not only the result of subterranean fires; it was also caused by “oxidation,” the exposure of historically flooded organic soils to the open air. The aeration of the muck breathed life into long-dormant microbes in the soil, which consumed organic material that had accumulated underwater over thousands of years. The soils then dried into powder and blew away on windy days, kicking up dust storms so violent that pioneers “could hardly get out of the house without wearing goggles.”

Charles Torrey Simpson, an early preservationist, very nearly wondered heretically whether at least some humans should be illegal:

“We shall proudly point someday to the Everglade country and say: Only a few years ago this was a worthless swamp; today it is an empire. But I wonder quite seriously if the world is any better off because we have destroyed the wilds and filled the land with countless human beings.”

Agriculture in the Florida swamp got a huge boost when the state’s research lab figured out that the Everglades soil was deficient in copper, manganese, and some other necessary trace elements.

The idea that the federal government should be in charge of all of the water in Florida got a huge boost from President Herbert Hoover, whose confidence was not shaken in the repeated failures of the Army Corps of Engineers to control the Mississippi. The dike that surrounds Lake Okeechobee is named after Hoover. The effects of the dike were not all positive…

The Depression years were drought years, and the combination of the new dike, which prevented water from the lake from reaching the Everglades, and the old ditches, which carried water from the sky away from the Everglades, left its wetlands desert dry. Its fresh water table dropped like a boulder, allowing salt water to intrude further into its aquifers every year, contaminating wells and ruining tomato farms along the Gold Coast. Meanwhile, soils that had been accumulating underwater for thousands of years were vanishing with exposure to the air; in Belle Glade—town motto: Her Soil Is Her Fortune—the ground was sinking so quickly that settlers had to add an extra doorstep every few years.

Failure and unintended consequences always motivated the experts to go bigger. The late 1940s:

The Army Corps plan for the Central and Southern Florida project called for the most elaborate water control system ever built, the largest earthmoving effort since the Panama Canal. It envisioned 2,000 miles of levees and canals, along with hundreds of spillways, floodgates, and pumps so powerful they would be cannibalized from nuclear submarines. The C&SF project was designed to control just about every drop of rain that landed on the region, in order to end the cycle of not-enough-water and too-much-water that had destabilized the frontier and stifled its growth…

The plan’s first big innovation was its strict separation of the usable Everglades from the unusable Everglades, a concept that first appeared in Captain Rose’s drainage proposal for Henry Flagler. The plan also adopted Rose’s call for piece-by-piece as opposed to all-at-once drainage. The work began with a 100-mile-long “perimeter levee” running more or less parallel to the coastal ridge, walling off the Gold Coast and a wide slice of the eastern Glades from the rest of the marsh. Next, the Corps encircled and reclaimed the rich soils of the upper Glades with more levees and drainage canals, creating an Everglades Agricultural Area the size of Rhode Island. The Corps then built more levees to divide a swath of the central Glades even larger than Rhode Island into three gargantuan “water conservation areas,” a more recent plan devised by the Belle Glade research station. The station’s scientists had suggested that “rewatering” the central Glades could restore the region’s hydraulic head and mimic the natural storage capacity of the Everglades, preventing salt intrusion, soil subsidence, muck fires, and water shortages all at once. The conservation areas would still look like the Everglades, but they would hold onto needed water for farms and cities during droughts, absorb excess water from farms and cities during storms, and recharge the region’s aquifers to keep salt out of its groundwater.

In the mid-1950s, the Army Corps made a movie about their plans and achievements, Waters of Destiny:

One the Corps was on the job, people felt confident that dry land was around the corner and, therefore, real estate could be purchased without much thought regarding whether it was buildable.

The Corps’s work did enrich some real estate speculators, but it impoverished the Everglades and the animals:

THE C&SF PROJECT did not extend the glories of flood control to southwest Florida, but that did not stop two Baltimore brothers named Leonard and Julius Rosen from selling nearly half a million acres of swampland there during the boom. The Rosens had gotten rich selling an anti-baldness tonic called Formula Number Nine, featuring the miracle ingredient of lanolin—and the immortal tagline, “Have you ever seen a bald sheep?” The brothers could see that shivering northerners yearned for a piece of Florida the way bald men yearned for hair. Their Gulf American Corporation offered “a rich man’s paradise, within the financial reach of everyone,” the ultimate miracle elixir. Gulf American’s most ambitious venture was Golden Gate Estates, where the Rosens platted the world’s largest subdivision in the middle of Big Cypress Swamp. … The Rosens sold tens of thousands of lots in Golden Gate, parlaying their $125,000 investment in Florida swampland into a $115 million payout, but only a few dozen homes were built there.

The Corps’s work did enrich some real estate speculators, but it impoverished the Everglades and the animals:

Marjory Stoneman Douglas had expected the C&SF project to save the Everglades, but it turned out to be an ecological menace. It did a terrific job of draining wetlands and promoting growth, but its expanded canals carried more water out of the Everglades at a time when south Florida’s expanding cities and farms were increasingly dependent on water in the Everglades. Its flood protection prompted additional development in the Everglades floodplain, which prompted demands for additional flood protection. And the Corps and its like-minded partners in the flood control district—often run by former Corps engineers—refused to release water to the park, except when it was already inundated. They manipulated water levels to accommodate irrigation schedules and development schemes, discombobulating the natural water regime to which flora and fauna had adapted over the millennia. “What a liar I turned out to be!” Douglas cried.

Nobody benefitted more from this than the sugar industry:

Big Sugar received no direct subsidies, as its army of spokesmen constantly pointed out, but it depended on federal import quotas, tariffs, and price supports that cost American consumers as much as $2 billion a year. Florida’s growers also relied on a federal program to import their labor pool of 10,000 impoverished West Indian cane-cutters; the industry was notorious for mistreating them, withholding their wages, and deporting any who dared complain. The growers also reaped the benefits of the C&SF project, which irrigated their fields in the dry season and drained their fields in the rainy season. They received more than half the project’s water releases, while paying less than one percent of the district’s taxes.

But that runoff [from sugar cane fields] wasn’t harmless to the Everglades, because the things that extra phosphorus made grow generally didn’t belong in the marsh. The Everglades was “phosphorus-limited,” with flora and fauna peculiarly adapted to a nutrient-starved environment, and ill-suited to compete when even minute amounts of phosphorus became available. And those thimbles added up; the agricultural area pumped 100 tons of phosphorus a year into the Loxahatchee refuge, fertilizing the march of the cattails.

President Nixon began to reverse some of the damage that the 1950s hubris had caused, with the help of Florida’s first Republican governor (voters in the former slave state had previously been loyal Democrats):

The other tectonic shift in Florida politics in 1967 was the ascension of Claude Roy Kirk Jr., a little-known insurance salesman who looked like a mob boss, partied like a frat boy, and stunned the state’s political establishment by becoming its first Republican governor since Reconstruction. Kirk only received the GOP

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Florida: Hydrology is Destiny (book review)

Some excerpts from The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida, and the Politics of Paradise, a book that covers the literally foundational element of transforming South Florida into a place where a substantial number of people could live. The initial assessment was unpromising:

The Spaniards had abandoned southern Florida after deeming it “liable to be overflowed, and of no use.”

The Seminole Indians, themselves recent migrants from the north, were an early obstacle to white settlement in Florida and the three decades of war in the swamp were America’s first military quagmire.

But the ink had barely dried [on an 1823 treaty] before white frontiersmen began seizing slaves from Seminoles, and famished Seminoles began plundering cattle from whites. The settlers began clamoring for the return of all blacks living with the Indians, even though the tribe had purchased many of them legally from the settlers. Florida’s legislative council also passed An Act to Prevent the Indians from Roaming at Large, sentencing any Seminole caught off the reservation to thirty-nine lashes. “We were promised justice, and we want to see it!” protested a tribal spokesman named Jumper. “We have submitted to one demand after another, in the hope that they would cease, but it seems that there will be no end to them, as long as we have anything left that the white people may want!” He was right. There were only 4,000 Seminoles in Florida, but that was 4,000 too many for Florida’s settlers. And the new president, one Andrew Jackson, intended to remove them.

The odds were not even:

[the whites] had superior manpower as well as firepower; 40,000 federal regulars and state militiamen would cycle through Florida, while the Seminoles had no way of reinforcing their original 1,000 warriors.

As in Vietnam, military officers were sometimes confused about the rationale for fighting:

Taylor’s exploits in Florida earned him the nickname “Old Rough and Ready,” and helped launch his path to the presidency, but he spoke for many military men when he mused that if the Seminoles wanted the Everglades, they should be allowed to keep it. “I would not trade one foot of Michigan or Ohio for a square mile of Florida swamp,” he wrote.

The author draws some direct parallels:

The Second Seminole War was America’s first Vietnam—a guerrilla war of attrition, fought on unfamiliar, unforgiving terrain, against an underestimated, highly motivated enemy who often retreated but never quit. Soldiers and generals hated it, and public opinion soured on it, but Washington politicians, worried that ending it would make America look weak and create a domino effect among other tribes, prolonged it for years before it sputtered to a stalemate. Of the eight commanding generals who cycled through Florida, Taylor was the only one whose reputation was enhanced, when he declared victory after a clash near Lake Okeechobee—a battle that achieved nothing except to confirm the lake’s existence.

Nature is a more fearsome enemy than the Seminoles:

Motte and his fellow medical men did not realize it, because they blamed tropical disease on “swamp miasmas” and the summer “sickly season,” but those mosquitoes spread malaria, dengue, and yellow fever. The U.S. troops also suffered from dysentery, tuberculosis, and a kind of collapse one officer described as a “general sinking of the system a regular cave-in of the constitution.” At one point, five battalions could not muster 100 men; after a two-month trek through Big Cypress, 600 out of 800 troops in one unit reported unfit for duty.

By the time the Seminole Wars ended (1858), South Florida was inhabited by just a handful of Seminoles and perhaps 50 whites. The first big drainage ideas, starting from northern Florida where farming had been successful, were put together in the 1880s and the land was being promoted even before it had been created:

Disston [the dredger] promoted his domain as America’s new winter playground and breadbasket, a frost-free, illness-free, bug-free paradise where 20 acres were worth 100 up north: “You secure a home in a garden spot of the country, in an equable and lovely climate, where merely to live is a pleasure, a luxury heretofore accessible only to millionaires.”

How would it work?

Disston’s drainage strategy was straightforward: Move the excess water in the Kissimmee valley down to Lake Okeechobee, then move the excess water in Lake Okeechobee out to sea. In the upper basin, his engineers proposed to link the Chain of Lakes with a series of canals and straighten the serpentine Kissimmee River. In the lower basin, they adopted Buckingham Smith’s plan to lower Lake Okeechobee: one canal east to the St. Lucie River and out to the Atlantic, one canal west to the Caloosahatchee River and out to the Gulf, and at least one canal south through the Everglades. “Okeechobee is the point to attack,” one Disston associate explained. The key to the plan was to make the outflow from the lake through the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Canals “equal to or greater than the inflow from the Kissimmee valley, which is the source of all the evil.” By “evil,” of course, he meant “water.”

Of course, with the feeble equipment of the day the grand plan couldn’t be executed and what portions were executed quickly filled up with silt. What was working was Henry Flagler’s railroad down the coast.

At first, he had limited his interests to St. Augustine and Jacksonville. Then he had intended to stop at Daytona Beach. He had already spent ten times more than he had planned, and south Florida was still a blank space on the map. Flagler figured he would concentrate on north Florida. But after several chilly winters, Flagler realized that north Florida’s supposedly frost-free climate was not much warmer than the rest of the temperate South. When he took a trip to the real subtropics 200 miles south of Daytona, he became enthralled by a white-sand barrier island called Palm Beach: “I have found a veritable Paradise!” Flagler also noticed a tangle of scrublands on the mainland, directly across Lake Worth from his new enchanted isle, and West Palm Beach began taking shape in his mind’s eye: “In a few years, there will be a town over there as big as Jacksonville.”

The Royal Poinciana soon became the Gay Nineties winter hub for the Social Register’s exclusive “Four Hundred,” attracting Vanderbilts, Carnegies, Morgans, Astors, Fricks, and the rest of America’s industrial royalty. The guests enjoyed golf, fishing, yachting, and sunbathing—Flagler employed beach censors to make sure women covered their legs—along with haute cuisine, orchestras, and vaudeville. The guests were served by 1,400 staffers so attentive the resort was known as the Royal Pounce-on-them. Black employees whisked them around in bicycle-powered carriages known as Afromobiles, and entertained them with “cakewalks,” minstrel-style dance competitions whose winners got to “take the cake.” Suites cost $100 a night, about three months’ wages for a typical laborer.

Let’s try to adjust that suite cost to Bidies. $100 in 1895 (the hotel opened in 1894) is supposedly about $3,500 today (the BLS inflation calculator goes back only to 1913, but some other sources are available showing just a touch of inflation over the preceding two decades). The Royal Poinciana was demolished during the Great Depression, but the Breakers (rebuilt) is still with us. Suites are only about $3,000 per night right now (the shoulder season), but they no longer include three meals per day. So the price of a Palm Beach hotel room has remained almost constant in inflation-adjusted dollars for more than 125 years. If we adjust for attentiveness for the staff, though, the $100 fee in the 1890s was a much better deal.

Regarding Flagler’s cherished hope of draining the developing the slightly-inland swamp, the New York Times predicted that it would never be accomplished.

Were you thinking that we live in unprecedented times?

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the progressive movement emerged to try to rein in corporate America. The United States was now the richest country on earth, producing half the world’s oil and one-third of its iron and steel. Its citizens were consuming Campbell soup, Borden cheese, Post Grape-Nuts, and Hershey chocolate, while enjoying lightbulbs, telephones, automobiles, and airplanes. It was the dawn of the American century, a time of puffed-up national pride and confidence. But there was a growing feeling that average Americans were not sharing in the progress, that business interests controlled the government, and that the balance of power ought to be reversed. Progressivism was a gospel of science and reason; progressives believed the same pragmatic thinking that was solving great technological and engineering problems could be applied to social problems.

The only economic activity in the Everglades at the time was killing birds for their feathers, which would ultimately be used for women’s hats.

The feather trade also provided income for Seminoles, but they practiced an early kind of sustainable exploitation, refusing to wipe out entire rookeries. “The Indian leaves enough of the old birds to feed the young of the rookery,” one writer observed. “The white man kills the last plume bird he can find, leaving the young ones to die in their nests, then returns a few days later lest he might have overlooked a few birds.” This kill-them-all strategy took its toll. Roseate spoonbills, snowy egrets, great white herons, and short-tailed hawks nearly vanished from Florida. The wild flamingos that so enchanted Audubon—and inspired the name of the village at the tip of Cape Sable—did vanish from Florida. The lime-green-
and-carmine Carolina parakeet was hunted to extinction. There was only one pair of reddish egrets left on the peninsula, and only one rookery for brown pelicans, a clump of mangroves off Vero Beach called Pelican Island. “I

An Ivy League-educated professor tried to drain the swamp with a biological agent, the Australian melaleuca tree. John Gifford spread a handful of seeds near Miami and the tree is today considered a problematic invasive throughout the Everglades (immigrant humans are never illegal or “invasive”, of course, but immigrant plants should be eradicated with Roundup!).

This post is getting long, so I’m going to cover the post-1900 sections of The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida, and the Politics of Paradise in a follow-up.

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Ron DeSantis vs. the Progressive Elite

Posts so far regarding The Courage to Be Free: Florida’s Blueprint for America’s Revival, by Ron DeSantis:

One topic that cuts through the book is how progressive elites have found new ways to dominate American politics and therefore, as the government has been greatly expanded, American society.

Ron explains how Facebook can now run U.S. elections:

In 2020, Facebook founder and billionaire Mark Zuckerberg poured $400 million into nonprofit groups to funnel directly to election offices in key states. This included more than $350 million dispersed by Zuckerberg’s Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) to provide so-called “COVID-19 response” election administration to local election offices, with the money going disproportionately to left-leaning counties to boost Democratic turnout in the election. Rather than fund groups seeking to influence the behavior of voters through persuasion, Zuckerberg used his $400 million to manage the election itself. In 2020 injecting private money into election administration was not against the law, largely because it was not something that state legislatures had contemplated. This meant that Zuckerberg-backed groups could direct the grant money it distributed to election offices. Groups like CTCL used this leverage to staff local election offices with partisan activists, requiring the offices to work with partisan “partner organizations” to expand mass mail balloting and to permit ballot harvesting. This represented an unprecedented transformation of election administration into an organ of partisan electioneering. Following the 2020 election, I responded to these questionable practices by ushering through the Florida Legislature a sweeping package of reforms to fortify election integrity. First, we enacted a prohibition on ballot harvesting and made it a third-degree felony. Second, we required voter ID for absentee ballot requests, equalizing the voter ID requirement for absentee votes with the long-required ID requirement for in-person voting. Third, we ensured that county supervisors of elections clean their voter rolls on an annual basis by instituting penalties for noncompliance. Fourth, we instituted an outright ban on Zuckerbucks to stop the use of private money in election administration.

The above is, of course, in addition to Facebook’s power to nag young progressives to get off the sofa and cast an in-person or mail-in ballot.

Facebook and friends had better keep working to keep Ron DeSantis out of Washington, D.C.!

As the years wore on, especially following the election of Donald Trump in 2016, large Silicon Valley companies began to evolve from being open platforms to serving as censors. Part of this was in response to pressure from the tech industry’s fellow travelers on the political left to crack down on what they considered to be “misinformation,” which was frequently just speech they didn’t like. Tech companies also received pressure from legacy media outlets, which had lost influence because of Big Tech’s rise.

This is all well and good, but when these tech platforms start to aggressively censor speech, it calls into question the basis for the federal liability protection. Indeed, the practices of Big Tech reveal the companies to represent the censorship arm of the political left, and their mission seems to be the enforcement of leftist orthodoxy and the marginalization of those who dissent from it. As companies like Facebook and Twitter make censorship decisions that always seem to err on the side of silencing those who dissent from leftist orthodoxy, they distort the American political system because so much political speech now takes place on these supposedly open platforms. From censoring the Hunter Biden laptop story during the 2020 presidential election to suppressing search results from conservative media sources, Big Tech has consistently placed a firm thumb on the scale for the political left.

Even apart from the risk of collusion with the government, Big Tech platforms have become the new public square, so viewing these quasi monopolies as just run-of-the-mill private companies is a mistake. While a properly functioning free market should allow for competitors to emerge to challenge the incumbent companies, Big Tech has used its massive market power to crush upstart firms. As a result, it’s wishful thinking to hope that the market will solve the problem of Big Tech censorship. With this in mind, I worked with the Florida Legislature to enact a series of reforms to protect Floridians from Big Tech censorship. We did this knowing these represented novel legal issues that would eventually be decided by the US Supreme Court. Our goal was to provide a legal framework that guaranteed more, not less, political speech. In doing so, we recognized that these massive tech companies are different from a typical corporation and are more akin to a common carrier like a telephone company. Our reforms included protections for political candidates against being deplatformed, which is a way for Big Tech to interfere in elections. What is stopping Big Tech companies from shutting off Republican candidates from social media platforms during the stretch run of an election? If someone hosts a get-together for a candidate and provides refreshments, that must be accounted for as a campaign contribution, yet a tech company can upend an entire candidate’s campaign, and that is somehow not considered interference with an election.

For those who are curious about the backstory regarding Disney and its fight with the people of Florida:

As the controversy over the Parental Rights in Education bill [“Don’t Say Gay” according to the New York Times] was coming to a head, [Disney CEO] Chapek called me. He did not want Disney to get involved, but he was getting a lot of pressure to weigh in against the bill. “We get pressured all the time,” he told me. “But this time is different. I haven’t seen anything like this before.” “Do not get involved with this legislation,” I advised him. “You will end up putting yourself in an untenable position. People like me will say, ‘Gee, how come Disney has never said anything about China, where they make a fortune?’ “Here is what will happen,” I continued. “The bill will pass, and there will be forty-eight hours of outrage directed at Disney for staying neutral. Then the Legislature will send me the bill a few weeks later, and when I sign it, you will get another forty-eight hours of outrage, mostly online. Then there will be some new outrage that the woke mob will focus on, and people will forget about this issue, especially considering the outrage is directed at a political-media narrative, not the actual text of the legislation itself.”

In promising to work to repeal the bill, supposedly family-friendly Disney was moving beyond mere virtue signaling to liberal activists. Instead, the company was pledging a frontal assault on a duly enacted law of the State of Florida. Things got worse for Disney. Almost immediately after the company issued its declaration of war, remarkable footage leaked from a video conference in which Disney executives promised to inject sexuality into programming for young kids. One speaker said that Disney would keep a “tracker” to monitor that the company was including a sufficient number of “canonical trans characters, canonical asexual characters, [and] canonical bisexual characters” in its programming. In bowing to the woke agenda, Disney had already, one speaker proudly pointed out, eliminated the use of “ladies,” “gentlemen,” “boys,” and “girls” from its theme parks.

Even though Democrats often rail about the nefarious power exerted over politics by large corporations, and supposedly oppose special carve-outs for big companies, they all dutifully lined up in support of keeping Disney’s special self-governing status. This confirmed how much the modern left has jettisoned principle in favor of power—so long as those corporations use their power to advance the left’s agenda, the left is perfectly willing to do the bidding of large corporations.

Ron D makes the point that Republicanism is essentially obsolete now that the biggest corporations have been enlisted in the Army of the Woke.

ESG provides a pretext for CEOs to use shareholder assets to target issues like reducing the use of fossil fuels and restricting Second Amendment rights. It is, in effect, a way for the political left to achieve through corporate power what they cannot achieve at the ballot box.

The battle lines almost invariably find large, publicly traded corporations lining up behind leftist causes. [Budweiser?]

For decades, a huge swath of GOP elected officials have campaigned on free market principles, but governed as corporatists—supporting subsidies, tax breaks, and legislative carve-outs to confer special benefits on entrenched corporate interests. Just because policies may benefit corporate America does not mean that such policies serve the interests of the American economy writ large. What is in the national interest is not necessarily the same as the interests of large corporations. And when large corporations are seeking to use their economic power to advance the left’s political agenda, they have become political, and not merely economic, actors. In an environment in which large corporations are aggressive political actors, reflexively deferring to big business effectively surrenders the political battlefield to the militant left.

Ron did manage to prevail in the 2022 election even in the very lair of rich corporate progressives:

While there had been chatter leading up to the election that Miami-Dade was in play, few were talking about the possibility that we could win the traditional Democrat bastion of Palm Beach County. Yet, we ended up being the first Republican to win Palm Beach in a governor’s race in nearly forty years.

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Ron DeSantis and Coronapanic

Posts so far regarding The Courage to Be Free: Florida’s Blueprint for America’s Revival, by Ron DeSantis:

Today let’s look at the chapter on coronapanic.

Compared to some of the Deplorables who comment here and myself, Ron DeSantis was a late convert to the Church of Sweden. He declared a state of emergency on March 9, 2020 and “Later than most governors, DeSantis imposed a lockdown” on April 1, 2020 (The Hill):

“All persons in Florida shall limit their movements and personal interactions outside of their home to only those necessary to obtain or provide essential services or conduct essential activities,” his order said.

The lockdown ended on April 29, 2020 and that’s when DeSantis began to diverge from the Faucists. The book downplays DeSantis’s one-month Faucist period to concentrate on his Church of Sweden rebellion. He opens by quoting Eisenhower:

“we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.” [1961]

Eisenhower cited the alarming risk that what he termed a “scientific-technological elite”—an elite that is neither interested in nor capable of harmonizing all the competing values and interests that are the hallmark of a free, dynamic society—could commandeer policy and, ultimately, erode our freedoms.

Eisenhower wouldn’t have been surprised by the takeover of American society by the Covidcrats:

In March 2020, Fauci was held up as the authority on the coronavirus. On its face, this seemed understandable because Fauci was the head of the NIAID and touted as the nation’s foremost expert on infectious diseases. However, Fauci was also the epitome of an entrenched bureaucrat—he had been in his position since 1984, demonstrating staying power in Washington that would not have been possible without being a highly skilled political operator. He proved to be one of the most destructive bureaucrats in American history.

Ron describes getting immersed in the Imperial College London model and conversations with various high-level bureaucrats, including CDC director Robert Redfield, Deborah Birx, but perhaps not the Great Fauci Himself.

At one point, I asked Dr. Birx whether the policies for which the expert class was advocating—and which could be very destructive to society—had any precedent in modern history and, if so, what were the results. “Well,” she said, “this is kind of like our own science experiment.”

I decided that I needed to read the emerging research and consume the available data myself, not just about Florida or the United States, but also about what was going on in other countries.

I wanted to be armed with the foundational knowledge to chart my own course for the State of Florida. This course kept our state functioning and ultimately led to Florida serving as an example for freedom-loving people not just in the United States, but around the world.

As more data came in, it became clear that the Fauci policy of perpetual mitigation was wrong. One important insight stemmed from a study done by a team of Stanford researchers led by Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, a physician at the Stanford School of Medicine who also had a PhD in economics and was one of the few prominent academics willing to speak publicly about the failures in the COVID-19 policies advocated by Fauci and his followers. The Stanford study examined the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, which can be detected after someone recovers from a coronavirus infection, in Santa Clara County, California. The study found that the prevalence of antibodies in the population was dramatically higher than the number of “cases” that had been detected up to that point,

Ron DeSantis was checking the curves wherever he could find data:

The April 2020 COVID-19 wave in New York saw hospitalized COVID-19 patients peak at 18,000, a significant number but something that the medical system could handle and a far cry from the 140,000 predicted by the flawed models.

He got some information from a Deplorable Science-denying Nobel laureate in chemistry:

While lockdown advocates claimed the epidemiological curves nosed over because of so-called social distancing, Levitt pointed out how lockdown-free Sweden also saw its first COVID-19 wave perform in a similar fashion. Indeed, as successive COVID-19 waves hit various parts of the United States in the ensuing months, the waves almost always featured about a six-to-eight-week period during which the wave would escalate, peak, and then decline. This was true regardless of mandatory “mitigations” that were employed.

He makes similar points to what I wrote in June 27, 2020 in “Looking at Covid-19 death rate is like the old saying “An economist is someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing”?

A Covid-19 epidemiologist can tell you how many Covid-19 deaths your society has suffered and, perhaps, some things that you can do to reduce Covid-19 deaths going forward. But the Covid-19 epidemiologist can’t tell you whether Intervention A against Covid-19 is actually worth implementing because (a) the Covid-19 epidemiologist is ignoring deaths from all other causes, and (b) epidemiologists in general can’t tell us what human activities are worth accepting some risk of death. How many lives are we willing to sacrifice in order that our children can go to school? Obviously we are willing to sacrifice some, because all of the driving of children, teachers, and administrators to and from school causes some deaths. But the threshold number at which schools should be shut down is not something that any epidemiologist can give us.

Is asking an epidemiologist whether to keep schools and playgrounds open like asking your accountant whether you should buy a dog? Yes, the expert can give you a bit of insight (“my other clients with dogs spend $4,000 per year on vet, food, and grooming”), but not a life-optimizing answer.

Here’s what Ron D writes:

So many of the so-called experts lost sight of the fact that true public health cannot be blind to everything but a single respiratory virus. Led by Dr. Fauci, the experts seemed to be throwing away previous understandings of how to approach pandemic management—and sowing fear and hysteria in the process.

The mostly peaceful mostly unmasked George Floyd mass gatherings showed Ron D that the Covidcrats weren’t serious about preventing Covid-19.

For two months, these so-called experts lambasted anyone for making a cost-benefit analysis when it came to COVID-19 mitigation policies. Then, the moment it suited their political interests, they reversed course by endorsing the protests as passing their cost-benefit analysis over COVID-19 lockdowns. That they specifically rejected protesting for other causes they did not support told me all I needed to know about what partisans these people were. These “experts” were not going to save us. People making the best decisions for themselves and their families would. It was up to leaders like me to lead in a way that was evidence-based, that recognized the obvious harms of mitigation efforts, and that best maintained the normal social functioning of our communities.

I’m still looking for good summary-by-state excess mortality data (comparable to what Our World in Data gives us by country), but Ron apparently ran the numbers and Florida has done pretty well by this metric (remember that the righteous said that Florida’s COVID-tagged death numbers were fabricated so excess deaths should be a better place to look):

Between April 2020 and mid-July 2022, New York witnessed an increase of so-called excess mortality of 20 percent, while California experienced an excess mortality increase of 17.7 percent. Excess mortality represents deaths above what is normally expected; of course, it includes COVID-19 deaths but also includes deaths caused by lockdown policies. During the same period, excess mortality increased in Florida by 15.6 percent—a smaller increase than in lockdown-happy states that typically received

Ron says that he doesn’t Deny Science. He just follows different scientists:

The approach that we took in Florida reflected the thinking of prominent epidemiologists like Stanford’s Jay Bhattacharya, Harvard’s Martin Kulldorff, and Oxford’s Sunetra Gupta.

And it is following these MDs, PhDs, and MD/PhDs that turned DeSantis into a Science-denier:

After several weeks of consuming data and measuring it against policies implemented around the country, I decided that I would not blindly follow Fauci and other elite experts. To this end, I revoked my order suspending elective procedures at hospitals. The predicted April surge in coronavirus patients never materialized, leaving Florida with one of the lowest patient censuses on record. I also abandoned the federal government’s framework of essential versus nonessential businesses. Every job and every business are essential for the people who need employment or who own the business. It is wrong to characterize any job or business as nonessential, and this entire framework needs to be discarded in pandemic preparedness literature.

It was easy for me to join the Church of Sweden because nobody cares what I think, say, or do. But Ron took a lot of heat:

When Florida experienced its first major COVID-19 wave starting in the middle of June 2020, it sparked massive media hysteria. The media drew a connection between Florida’s lack of restrictions and the COVID-19 wave. If only Florida had not been so reckless, the narrative went, it would not be experiencing such a wave.

After I saw other states from similar geographies endure similar COVID-19 waves in the fall and winter, I knew that COVID behaved in a seasonal pattern. I was, though, monitoring the data on a daily basis, and I was sure that the summer wave would follow a pattern similar to the trajectory that Dr. Michael Levitt had identified from earlier waves. It would not simply increase exponentially without end in the absence of a shutdown. The pressure grew on me to shut down the State of Florida to mitigate the COVID-19 wave, not just from the media but also from experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci and partisan opponents. On July 8, 2020, Dr. Fauci advised that states like Florida “should seriously look at shutting down.” This was because, Fauci explained, “we are seeing exponential growth.” All Democratic members of Florida’s US House delegation but one wrote me a letter to demand that I shut down the Sunshine State and impose a compulsory mask mandate. The letter was written on July 17, 2020.

Some of my friends and allies were worried about all the negative attention and urged me to implement some mandates and restrictions to help take the heat off me. For me, the important thing to do was to safeguard the freedom, livelihoods, and businesses of the people I was elected to serve. If doing so caused me to suffer political damage, and even to lose my job as governor, then so be it. It is easy to do the right thing when it is popular, but leadership is all about doing the right thing when under political attack.

In fact, by July 8, 2020—the day Fauci said Florida should shut down—infections in our state had already peaked. I knew this because visits to the emergency departments for COVID-like illness, which was the best leading indicator of infection trajectory, peaked on July 7.

What Fauci and especially the House Democrats were calling for was a post-peak shutdown, which would have been totally counterproductive and hurt Floridians.

As it turned out, even though during the summer wave Florida saw an increase in patients hospitalized for COVID, our hospital capacity was more than sufficient to handle the higher patient volume, just like in lockdown-free Sweden in the spring.

How did Florida end up as the mask-free state?

I was skeptical that masks would provide the protection that the public health establishment claimed, but I was adamant that a mask mandate was not an appropriate use of government power. If the masks were as effective as claimed, then people would choose to wear them without government coercion.

(The latest on Ron’s unscientific skepticism… “Were masks in hospitals a waste of time? Hated NHS policy made ‘no difference’ to

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New book on ChatGPT in medicine

Some friends have put together The AI Revolution in Medicine: GPT-4 and Beyond, a thought-provoking book released today. Health care is nearly 20 percent of our economy (compare to 4 percent in Singapore) and a higher percentage of our tax dollars (Happy Official Tax Day, though April 18 is the deadline this year; the opioid makers thank you for your efforts in the workplace). The book asks the important question “What will LLMs do for an industry to which Americans have decided to devote one working day per week?”

First, let’s ask why we think GPT-4, famous for its writing talents, might matter for doctors. Doctors aren’t primarily writers, after all. Many physicians, however, spend time attempting diagnoses and this is an information processing activity. The patient describes his/her/zir/their symptoms and the doctor matches these to known patterns, possibly asking follow-up questions or ordering tests to confirm or reject explanations. In other words, exactly what computer programs have traditionally done.

Second, let’s ask GPT-4 for its own opinion: “Explain why GPT-4 will change the practice of medicine and the experience of patients.” Our future overlord’s response:

GPT-4 has the potential to significantly change the practice of medicine and the experience of patients in various ways. Here are some key areas where it can have a transformative impact:

  1. Enhanced medical diagnosis: GPT-4’s advanced language processing capabilities enable it to understand complex medical information and provide diagnostic suggestions to doctors. This can help in the early detection of diseases, improving patient outcomes, and potentially saving lives.
  2. Personalized treatment recommendations: GPT-4 can analyze an individual’s medical history, genetic data, and other relevant factors to provide personalized treatment recommendations. This can lead to more targeted and effective therapies for each patient.
  3. Streamlining administrative tasks: GPT-4 can help automate and streamline various administrative tasks, such as scheduling appointments, managing patient records, and handling insurance claims. This will allow healthcare professionals to focus more on patient care and less on paperwork.
  4. Health education: GPT-4 can act as a virtual health educator, providing patients with accessible and accurate information about their conditions, medications, and self-care strategies. This will empower patients to take a more active role in managing their health.
  5. Mental health support: GPT-4 can serve as a virtual therapist, offering support to individuals struggling with mental health issues. It can engage in conversation, provide coping strategies, and help track mood and behavior patterns. While it cannot replace human therapists, it can be a valuable supplemental resource.
  6. Telemedicine: GPT-4 can enhance telemedicine platforms by providing real-time language translation services and facilitating communication between patients and healthcare providers across different languages and cultures. This can expand access to healthcare services for patients in remote or underserved areas.
  7. Research and development: GPT-4 can assist in the analysis of large volumes of medical data, identifying patterns and relationships that may be difficult for humans to detect. This can help accelerate the development of new treatments and technologies in the medical field.
  8. Ethical considerations: The integration of GPT-4 in healthcare can raise various ethical concerns, such as data privacy, algorithmic bias, and the potential for overreliance on AI. However, addressing these challenges and ensuring the responsible use of GPT-4 can lead to a more equitable and effective healthcare system.

Overall, GPT-4 has the potential to revolutionize the practice of medicine and improve the experience of patients by enhancing diagnostic accuracy, personalizing treatment, streamlining administrative tasks, expanding access to healthcare services, and more. As with any new technology, it is essential to address ethical concerns and ensure the responsible and equitable use of AI in medicine.

(Note ChatGPT’s passion for equity! If we put ChatGPT in charge, it might read “Racial Disparities in Maternal and Infant Health” (KFF), learn that “Black and American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) women have higher rates of pregnancy-related death compared to White women” and decide to euthanize 15 percent of white pregnant people who come to the hospital. That would be the simplest and fastest way for the AI to accomplish its equity goals of health outcomes based on skin color.)

A primary care doc neighbor says that he uses ChatGPT every day and would pay $1,000 per month for it if he had to. When confronted with a massive hospital discharge note that he is required to summarize in order to get paid, he will ask ChatGPT to summarize it, for example. He also uses ChatGPT to draft follow-up instructions. He says that ChatGPT is surprisingly good at interpreting blood tests. It is interesting to reflect that ChatGPT is useful to him describe the fact that he can’t feed it his institution’s electronic medical record. So the AI doesn’t already know each patient’s full history.

Let’s return to The AI Revolution in Medicine: GPT-4 and Beyond… starting with “Chapter 4: Trust but Verify” from the doctor (Isaac Kohane) and “Chapter 5: The AI-Augmented Patient” from the science journalist (Carey Goldberg).

In “Trust but Verify,” the question of how we would put GPT-4 through a clinical trial is explored. Other computer programs have passed clinical trials and received government approval, so why not GPT-4? The typical clinical trial is narrow, Dr. Kohane points out, while GPT-4’s range of function is wide. Just as an FDA trial probably couldn’t be done to approve or disapprove an individual doctor, it seems unlikely that an FDA trial can approve or disapprove a LLM and, therefore, AI programs are most likely destined to be superhuman partners with human docs and not replacements. The chapter contains a couple of concrete scenarios in which the doctor compares his own work in some difficult cases to GPT-4’s and the AI does fantastic.

In “The AI-Augmented Patient”, the journalist points out that the people who’ve been asking Dr. Google for advice will be the heavy users of Dr. GPT-4. She highlights that the “COVID ‘misinfodemic’ shows[s] that it matters which humans are in the loop, and that leaving patients to their own electronic devices can be rife with pitfalls.” Implicit in the foregoing is the assumption that public health officials are the best human decision-makers. What if the take-away from coronapanic is the opposite? Credentialed Americans refused to read the WHO pandemic management playbook, refused to process any information coming from Europe unless it fit their preconceived ideas about lockdowns, school closures, and mask orders, and refused to consider population-wide effects such as risk compensation. A computer program wouldn’t have any of these cognitive biases.

What happened when people expanded their sources of information? One notable example: Marjorie Taylor Greene turned out to be a better virologist than Dr. Fauci. In August 2021, MTG was suspended from Twitter for noting that the available COVID-19 vaccines did not prevent infection by and spread of SARS-CoV-2 and that masks were not effective. Virologist Greene’s statements were labeled “false” as a matter of Scientific fact by the journalists at the New York Times in January 2022 and then proven correct soon afterwards with a huge study in Spain and the Cochrane review. Plenty of those killed by COVID would be alive today if they’d listened to Marjorie Taylor Greene’s advice rather than the CDC’s. The elderly/vulnerable would have stayed safe at home, for example, instead of entering public indoor environments with masks on.

I’m optimistic that GPT-4 will do better in many areas than American medical officialdom because its judgment won’t be tainted by groupthink and “we’ve always done it this way”. We’ve often had standard of care disagreements with the Europeans, for example, and the Europeans have ended up being correct. The latest discrepancy in Science is that Denmark suggests a newborn get his/her/zir/their first COVID shot at age 50 (in the year 2073) while the CDC suggests four shots over the next 12 months. We might know who was right in 5-10 years, but an orthodox American MD isn’t supposed to question the CDC and would never ask “Are the Danes right?” while GPT-4 surely would be aware of the Danish MD/PhDs’ conclusions.

As long as we’re on the subject of every American’s favorite disease… later in the book, Kevin Scott, the CTO of Microsoft whose degree is in computer science, talks about the epic stupidity of physicians in rural Virginia. Not only did they fail to immediately prescribe Paxlovid to his tested-positive brother, but they actively refused to prescribe it when the life-saving experimental drug was asked for by name (cue the Super Bowl ad for the still-not-FDA-approved drug). Here’s a photo of the West Coast computer programmer who claims to know more about preventing death-by-COVID than doctors in Virginia’s Trump Belt:

Given the scattered nature of American medical records, I think that a patient who is diligent about saving all of his/her/zir/their tests and logging symptoms then running a local copy of GPT-4 will be way ahead in the diagnosis Olympics. There is a limit to what a doctor can do in a 15-minute visit and the typical doctor can see only a fraction of a patient’s medical record (because tests and treatments have been done at other institutions and the $trillions that Americans have spent on electronic health records have not yielded any practical integration).

What will this do to demand for medical services? The chapter quotes “Dr. Jim Weinstein, a leading expert on health equity now at Microsoft” that “[GPT-4] could be a particular valuable partner for the 100 million Americans on Medicaid, and it could cut unnecessary cost and waste across the board by helping patients understand more about their options.” Personal guess: GPT-4 will drive demand and therefore costs in the opposite direction. GPT-4 already covers its ass by providing the worst-case scenarios. Patients will learn that their “options” include aggressive rare cancers and calling 911.

Let’s try a concrete example. Suppose that you live in Maskachusetts and your female-led Social Equity marijuana home delivery was running late so you drink half a bottle of rum while waiting for the daily one-ounce high-potency bong refill. The next morning, despite all of the healing cannabis that you consumed, you wake up on the bathroom tile not feeling your best and ask GPT-4, “I have a lump on my head. What are the possible causes?” Here’s what it says:

There are several possible causes of a lump on the head, including:

  1. Head injury: A bump or lump on the head may be the result of a head injury, such as a concussion, hematoma, or skull fracture.
  2. Scalp infections: Infections of the scalp, such as folliculitis or cellulitis, can cause swelling, redness, and lumps on the scalp.
  3. Cysts: A cyst is a sac filled with fluid or other material that can develop under the skin on the scalp.
  4. Lipomas: A lipoma is a slow-growing, benign tumor made up of fat cells that can develop under the skin on the scalp.
  5. Bone deformities: Certain conditions, such as Paget’s disease or fibrous dysplasia, can cause abnormalities in the bones of the skull that may lead to lumps or bumps on the head.
  6. Tumors: In rare cases, a lump on the head may be a sign of a cancerous tumor.

It’s important to have any new lumps or bumps on the head evaluated by a healthcare provider to determine the cause and appropriate treatment. If the lump is the result of a head injury and you experience symptoms such as loss of consciousness, dizziness, or severe headache, seek emergency medical attention immediately.

The patient who didn’t talk to GPT-4 might wait a few days before seeking healthcare services. After all, plenty of Looney Tunes characters recover quickly from head lumps.

The patient who reads the GPT-4 output, however, is explicitly told that he/she/ze/they must be “evaluated by a healthcare provider” and that injury from an alcohol-and-cannabis-assisted encounter with tile is just 1 out of 6 possibilities. The idea that “the 100 million Americans on Medicaid”, who have $0 copays for going to the emergency room, will ignore GPT-4’s explicit

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Ron DeSantis and government accountability

Continuing to mine The Courage to Be Free: Florida’s Blueprint for America’s Revival, an introduction to Ron DeSantis for non-Floridians…

One area where Ron is out of step with the American mainstream is in thinking that there should be consequences for government incompetence. For example, Mary Daly, who focused on the diversity crisis at the San Francisco Fed (NYT) while SVB and First Republic were accumulating risk, would be fired in Ron’s ideal world.

By the time I became governor, it was clear that the victims [of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, which happened a year prior to DeSantis becoming governor] and their families had been failed by both Broward County sheriff Scott Israel as well as the Broward County school district. The Florida Legislature responded to the tragedy by enacting a series of firearms restrictions, which my predecessor signed into law. I campaigned saying that I would have vetoed those restrictions on Second Amendment and constitutional due process grounds. This was a tough position to take, as it was a very emotional time, and there was a natural human desire to “do something.” But when it comes to fundamental rights, those times are the times when defending them is so essential. Rather than a firearms issue, I viewed the Parkland massacre as a catastrophic failure of leadership that cried out for accountability. As someone who had been serving in Congress, I was frustrated that government failures almost never resulted in any real consequences. If an average American posted something politically incorrect on social media, an online mob might very well get that individual “canceled,” including termination of employment. But if a government agency abused its authority or failed in its basic duties, the result, invariably, was essentially nothing in the way of accountability.

After taking office, I acted very quickly to suspend the Broward County sheriff. I had been consulting with a few of the Parkland parents, and they were very hopeful that I would hold the sheriff accountable. He was mired in multiple scandals, including his department failing to stop the shooter despite receiving forty-five calls about him or his household.

Under Florida law, a constitutional officer suspended by the governor has the right to a trial in the Florida Senate; if the Senate agrees with the governor’s decision, then the official’s suspension becomes a permanent termination. Scott Israel challenged my decision in front of the Florida Senate and lost. Justice was served. I also petitioned the Florida Supreme Court to convene a special grand jury to investigate the failures of school security in counties like Broward. This grand jury ended up leading to the resignation of the superintendent of schools and provided a series of recommendations for reform, including removing several members of the Broward County school board, whom I suspended after the final report became public in 2022.

[Ron DeSantis might say “yes” to How about decimation for the Memphis police department and city government?]

Note that highlighted part. DeSantis is like the dissenters in Korematsu v. United States. FDR said that the Constitution didn’t give Japanese-Americans the right to walk around in freedom #BecauseEmergency (same reason that the Nuremberg Code did not prevent coerced injection of experimental drugs into children; #Coronamergency). The dissenting justices said “What are these Constitutional protections for, then, if not when a president chooses to declare an emergency?”

No matter how whipped up into panic the average American becomes, Ron D is going to do his own analysis and try to act rationally even when everyone else is behaving irrationally.

I refused to do any polling at all once I became governor. When someone does a poll, it provides, at best, a static view of how voters respond to certain issues, but it cannot tell you how people will view a dynamic push for certain policies. If leadership was nothing more than dutifully following poll results, then it would not be in such short supply. A leader does not meekly follow public opinion but shapes opinion through newsworthy actions. If I set out a vision, execute on my governing plan, and produce favorable results, then public support will follow.

We are informed that Republicans are the party of Jew-hatred. But it seems that Ron DeSantis did not get the ADL’s memo. He tells a story about media- and government-selection experts being failures as prophets. It is unfortunate, from my point of view, that he puts double quotes around the word expert.

One major foreign policy issue that I cared about deeply was the relocation of America’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. During the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump promised that, if elected, he would move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. US law since the 1990s identified Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and, as a result, the proper site of the US embassy, but the law included a waiver provision (in classic DC style) that allowed presidents over two decades to punt on relocation of our embassy every six months—even though Presidents Clinton and Bush had promised to move it.

From my seat in the House, I wanted to create a sense of inevitability about the relocation of our embassy. In 2017, I led a small mission to Israel to scout out possible sites in Jerusalem for the new US embassy. I looked at a handful of possible locations, and the site I thought was the best ended up being the site that was selected by the Trump administration. Before I left, I held a press conference at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem to recount what we did on the trip and to express my view that President Donald Trump promised to move our embassy to Jerusalem, and he will be delivering on his promise.

The next month, President Trump announced that the United States would be relocating its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. The formal ceremony in May 2018 was a major event, which I attended in person. It was a great day and should have occurred years earlier.

This was an example of why following the advice of the conventional DC expert class is almost always a mistake. Especially when they predict imminent doom.

“What would happen if the US moved our embassy?” I asked. The consistent response from these so-called experts was that relocating our embassy to Jerusalem would be a geopolitical disaster. None even entertained the idea that moving our embassy would serve our national interests. Looking back on it, these were supposed to be our top experts in matters of diplomacy and intelligence, but they were dead wrong about the impact of the move. This experience confirms the bankruptcy of our bureaucratic “expert” class. Time and again, from weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to the financial crisis of 2008 to the response to COVID-19, America’s bureaucratic elites have whiffed when it counted.

I continue to believe that Ron D faces an uphill battle in any general election. Americans’ faith in bureaucratic elites remains stronger than ever. The majority bought into Faucism and the dramatically lower percentage of excess deaths in no-mask no-lockdown Sweden (6%; see map) compared to the typical Faucist country has not shaken anyone’s faith in Faucism. (Example: “What Worked Against Covid: Masks, Closures and Vaccines” (Wall Street Journal, March 17, 2023) does not even bother to look at Sweden vs. European lockdown and mask champs nor at Florida versus the lockdown states. And that’s in a conservative newspaper!) We also shouldn’t forget that a higher percentage of Americans are dependent on government than at any time in history due to the massive expansion of government that began in 2020 with coronapanic as the justification. That’s going to make it tough for any politician who suggests that government spending be limited in any way. Point 1 of the DeSantis agenda articulated in his 2019 inauguration speech:

Promoting a fiscally responsible government that taxes lightly and regulates reasonably

This is the opposite of what the majority of Americans want. A typical American votes for a fiscally lavish government funded by taxes on successful corporations and anyone richer than he/she/ze/they is (though, of course, what is delivered is a government funded by borrowing/inflation and taxes on the peasants).

Ron also promised, in that speech:

Ushering in a new era of conservation for Florida’s waterways and Everglades

(and delivered, according to the Everglades Trust!). This is presumably popular, except with Big Sugar, but I can’t imagine government-dependent Americans thinking that this commitment to the environment outweighs their own paychecks.

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A book about the Federal Reserve and inflation

A timely book… The Lords of Easy Money: How the Federal Reserve Broke the American Economy (2022) by Christopher Leonard.


First, since this is a political book let’s look at the author’s background politics. He is particularly hostile to the Tea Party,

If the Tea Party had a single animating principle, it was the principle of saying no. The Tea Partiers were dedicated to halting the work of government entirely.

An aging population relied more and more heavily on underfunded government programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security,

The existence of these Deplorables kept the reasonable Democrats and Republicans in Congress from doing great work via government spending, thus putting pressure on the Fed to act. The Fed’s rash actions may thus be laid at least partly at the doors of the haters. Also, the best characterization of the world’s most expensive health care programs, as a percentage of GDP, is “underfunded”. Without the Tea Party, every Medicaid beneficiary would get a weekly gender reassignment surgery? The author expresses his dream that more American workplaces would become unionized.

What’s the scale of the Fed’s recent money-printing?

Between 1913 and 2008, the Fed gradually increased the money supply from about $5 billion to $847 billion. This increase in the monetary base happened slowly, in a gently uprising slope. Then, between late 2008 and early 2010, the Fed printed $1.2 trillion. It printed a hundred years’ worth of money, in other words, in little over a year, more than doubling what economists call the monetary base.

The amount of excess money in the banking system swelled from $200 billion in 2008 to $1.2 trillion in 2010, an increase of 52,000 percent.

Maybe the author and Simon and Schuster are using coronamath? What if they’d asked Wolfram Alpha about this ratio? The answer would be a 600 percent ratio or 500 percent increase, not 52,000 percent.

Whatever the percentage might have been, quantitative easing was going to be good news for the rich:

The FOMC debates were technical and complicated, but at their core they were about choosing winners and losers in the economic system. Hoenig was fighting against quantitative easing because he knew that it would create historically huge amounts of money, and this money would be delivered first to the big banks on Wall Street. He believed that this money would widen the gap between the very rich and everybody else. It would benefit a very small group of people who owned assets, and it would punish the very large group of people who lived on paychecks and tried to save money.

Perhaps no single government policy did more to reshape American economic life than the policy the Fed began to execute on that November day, and no single policy did more to widen the divide between the rich and the poor. Understanding what the Fed did in November 2010 is the key to understanding the very strange economic decade that followed, when asset prices soared, the stock market boomed, and the American middle class fell further behind.

According to the book, Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen (U.S. Treasury Secretary today, at least until my prediction of Sam Bankman-Fried taking over comes true) were the Fed’s biggest cheerleaders for quantitative easing while Thomas M. Hoenig was the biggest opponent, partly due to concerns about inflation, but mostly because the “allocative effect” in which money would move from working class to rich and from people who did productive things to Wall Street.

[Bernanke is most notable for his 2007 statement: “We believe the effect of the troubles in the subprime sector on the broader housing market will likely be limited and we do not expect significant spillovers from the subprime market to the rest of the economy or to the financial system.”]

How does QE work?

The basic mechanics and goals of quantitative easing are actually pretty simple. It was a plan to inject trillions of newly created dollars into the banking system, at a moment when the banks had almost no incentive to save the money. The Fed would do this by using one of the most powerful tools it already had at its disposal: a very large group of financial traders in New York who were already buying and selling assets from the select group of twenty-four financial firms that were known as “primary dealers.” The primary dealers have special bank vaults at the Fed, called reserve accounts.II To execute quantitative easing, a trader at the New York Fed would call up one of the primary dealers, like JPMorgan Chase, and offer to buy $8 billion worth of Treasury bonds from the bank. JPMorgan would sell the Treasury bonds to the Fed trader. Then the Fed trader would hit a few keys and tell the Morgan banker to look inside their reserve account. Voila, the Fed had instantly created $8 billion out of thin air, in the reserve account, to complete the purchase. Morgan could, in turn, use this money to buy assets in the wider marketplace.

Bernanke’s initial goals were to create $600 billion via QE, with the justification that this would bring down unemployment. “Before the crisis [of 2008], it would have taken about sixty years to add that many dollars to the monetary base.”

The Fed’s own research on quantitative easing was surprisingly discouraging. If the Fed pumped $600 billion into the banking system, it was expected to cut the unemployment rate by just .03 percent.

Who had the best crystal ball?

Jeffrey Lacker, president of the Richmond Fed, said [in 2010] the justifications for quantitative easing were thin and the risks were large and uncertain. “Please count me in the nervous camp,” Lacker said. He warned that enacting the plan now, when there was no economic crisis at hand, would commit the Fed to near-permanent intervention as long as the unemployment rate was elevated. “As a result, people are likely to expect increasing monetary stimulus as long as the level of the unemployment rate is disappointing, and that’s likely to be true for a long, long time.”

[Richard] Fisher, the Dallas Fed president, said he was “deeply concerned” about the plan. Of course, he didn’t let pass the chance to use a nice metaphor: “Quantitative easing is like kudzu for market operators,” he said. “It grows and grows and it may be impossible to trim off once it takes root.” Fisher echoed Hoenig’s warnings that the plan would primarily benefit big banks and financial speculators, while punishing people who saved their money for retirement. “I see considerable risk in conducting policy with the consequence of transferring income from the poor, those most dependent on fixed income, and the saver to the rich,” he said.

What’s wrong with massive asset price inflation, as the Fed was trying to achieve? The author says that asset price bubbles are the typical drivers of both banking and market collapses. Example from the 1980s:

When Paul Volcker and the Fed doubled the cost of borrowing, the demand for loans slowed down, which in turn depressed the demand for assets like farmland and oil wells. The price of assets began to converge with the underlying value of the assets. The price of farmland fell by 27 percent in the early 1980s; of oil, from more than $120 to $25 by 1986. The collapse of asset prices created a cascading effect within the banking system. Assets like farmland and oil reserves had been used to underpin the value of bank loans, and those loans were themselves considered “assets” on the banks’ balance sheets. When land and oil prices fell, the entire system fell apart. Banks wrote down the value of their collateral and the reserves they were holding against default. At the very same moment, the farmers and oil drillers started having a hard time meeting their monthly payments. The value of crops and oil were falling, so they earned less money each month. The banks’ balance sheets, which once looked stable, began to corrode and falter.

This was the dynamic that so often gets lost in the discussion about the inflation of the 1970s and the collapse and recession of the 1980s. The Fed got credit for ending inflation, and for bailing out the solvent banks that survived it. But new research published many decades later showed that the Fed was also responsible for the whole disaster.

Why don’t people get nervous when an asset bubble is inflating?

When asset inflation gets out of hand, people don’t call it inflation. They call it a boom. Much of the asset inflation of the late 1990s was showing up in the stock market, where share prices were rising at a level that would have been horrifying if it was expressed in the price of butter or gasoline. The entire Standard & Poor’s stock index rose by 19.5 percent in 1999. The Nasdaq index, which measured technology stocks, jumped more than 80 percent.

When asset bubbles burst, the Fed is right there:

Over the next two years [after the dotcom crash of 2000], the Federal Reserve’s state of emergency became almost permanent. The rate cuts of 2001 remained in place, with the cost of short-term loans staying below 2 percent until the middle of 2004.

As with coronapanic, dramatic efforts for short-term relief lead to long-term disaster:

If there was one thing Hoenig had learned, it was that the Fed’s leaders, who were only human, tended to focus on short-term events and the headlines that surrounded them. But the Fed’s actions were expressed in the real world over the long term, after they had time to work their way through the financial system. When there was turmoil in the markets, the Fed leaders wanted to take immediate action, to do something. But their actions always played out over months or years and tended to affect the economy in unexpected ways.

The book was written before the Silicon Valley Bank collapse, but does this sound familiar?

The Fed was essentially coercing hedge funds, banks, and private equity firms to create debt and do it in riskier ways. The strategy was like a military pincer movement that closes in on the opponent from two sides—from one direction there was all this new cash, and from the other direction there were the low rates that punished anyone for saving that cash.

Before the financial collapse that started in 2007, the reward for saving money in a 10-year Treasury was 5 percent. By the autumn of 2011, the Fed helped push it down to about 2 percent.I The overall effect of ZIRP [zero-interest-rate policy] was to create a tidal wave of cash and a frantic search for any new place to invest it. The economists called this dynamic the “search for yield” or a “reach for yield,” a once-obscure term that became central to describing the American economy.

Then, as now, the nation’s problems started in San Francisco:

One of Bernanke’s secret weapons in the lobbying effort was his vice chairwoman, Janet Yellen, the former president of the San Francisco Fed. Yellen was an assertive and convincing surrogate for Bernanke, and she championed an expansive use of the Fed’s power.

“Janet was the strongest advocate for unlimited” quantitative easing, [Elizabeth] Duke recalled. “Janet would be very forceful. She is very confident, very strong in promoting the point of view.” Yellen and Bernanke were convincing, and their argument rested on a simple point. In the face of uncertainty, the Fed had to err on the side of action.

If it is any comfort, the Europeans are even dumber and more devoted to cheating with money instead of working harder than we are:

In Europe, the financial crisis of 2008 had never really ended [by 2012]. The debt overhang in Europe was simply astounding. Just three European banks had taken on so much debt before 2008 that their balance sheets

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Ron DeSantis’s book

I have begun to read The Courage to Be Free: Florida’s Blueprint for America’s Revival, despite my general aversion to this genre of literature. I consider reading Ron DeSantis’s book to be a duty both as a blog publisher and as a new Floridian. Progressive academic friends in Cambridge feel that they already know Mr. DeSantis. One noted, during my most recent visit, that DeSantis is responsible for importing slaves into the United States to pick sugar cane. “They come on boats in chains,” he said, “and aren’t paid.” Why don’t journalists from New York-based media enterprises ask Mr. DeSantis about his slave importation operation at press conferences? “They know that he won’t answer.” Why didn’t the progressive himself go down to Florida and picket outside the Governor’s Mansion for the slaves to be released? He’s a member of the laptop class and can work from anywhere. He couldn’t explain why he wasn’t willing to invest the price of a plane ticket to protest the actual slavery that he has identified on U.S. soil.

For folks who don’t feel that they already know everything worth knowing about Ron D, read on…

The book starts out rough, in my opinion:

Most Americans instinctively know that something has gone wrong with our country over the past generation.

How is Ron going to win with this message? Successful politicians generally tell Americans that they are the world’s greatest people living in the world’s greatest (and richest) country. A vote for the politician is a path to slightly increased greatness, not a recovery from a nosedive. The language gets a little softer later in the introduction:

Our nation needs immigration policies that recognize and enforce the country’s sovereignty, not just by having a wall at the southern border but also by quickly repatriating those in the country illegally. An erroneous claim of asylum should not give a foreign national a ticket to settle in the interior of our country. Nor should the legal immigration system have policies such as the diversity lottery and chain migration; instead, the immigration system should be merit-based; favor assimilation, not mass migration; and be geared toward benefiting the wages of working-class Americans.

Ron D will not deport migrants, but repatriate them.

Looking for useful life advice?

People often talk about the need for a student-athlete to “balance” the demands of the classroom with the requirements of sports. For me, I rejected the idea that I would strike a balance between academic achievement and athletic success, because I was not willing to give less than 100 percent to either baseball or my academics. So instead of balancing, I just did everything to the hilt and let the chips fall where they may.

He gave 110 percent while at Yale, in other words? Or 200 percent? I am not sure how to put this into practice since my capacity is about 50 percent on my best day.

We learn about Ron and Casey’s working class and military roots. Ron worked during high school and college, e.g., for an electrical contractor, while Casey’s sister was a USAF C-17 pilot. (Even today, the DeSantis family has minimal wealth.) Ron’s own military service made him skeptical of America’s recent war aims:

It was just as obvious that we would not succeed in establishing a pro-American, Western-style democracy in Iraq. This was simply outside the capability of any military force to achieve. The cultural differences were too vast for Iraq to embrace Madisonian constitutionalism. In fact, the Iraqis considered “freedom” to be submission to sharia law, not the enactment of a liberal democracy.

(The U.S. would be a lot friendlier to the immigrants that we claim to welcome if Michigan and Minnesota adopted sharia law. Why should Muslim immigrants, many of whom are asylees or refugees who are fleeing violence, have to accept a debauched society? They didn’t come to the U.S. because they love the way that the U.S. is, but because they would have been killed if they had stayed in their home countries.)

Ron was inspired by Barack Obama:

Once I left active duty, I began to think more and more about how our country was moving in the wrong direction, especially under the leftist agenda of the Obama administration.

What did he learn as a Congressman?

Ingrained in Beltway thinking is a contempt for average voters, particularly voters who reject leftist ideology.

That’s certainly consistent with my experience of D.C.! Also, Ron turns out to be one of the few Representatives who actually reads the bills.

The book does get more substantive. Leafing through, I found the following, for example:

Our reforms included protections for political candidates against being deplatformed, which is a way for Big Tech to interfere in elections. What is stopping Big Tech companies from shutting off Republican candidates from social media platforms during the stretch run of an election? If someone hosts a get-together for a candidate and provides refreshments, that must be accounted for as a campaign contribution, yet a tech company can upend an entire candidate’s campaign, and that is somehow not considered interference with an election. The reforms also included transparency requirements for the social media companies’ content moderation policies, and required that users be given notice of changes to those policies. The opaqueness of how Big Tech arrives at its censorship decisions means that it is easy for them to move the goalposts to stifle views the industry does not like.

I’m actually surprised that Twitter, Facebook, and Google allow Republican candidates to use their platforms at all. Any of these firms could cite the following analysis of the January 6 insurrection and say that it wasn’t safe to allow Republicans to speak.

I hope that some readers will read along with me!

So far I’m dismayed that Ron hasn’t adapted his message to be more like conventional politicians’. Crushing it in Florida against an all-abortion-care-all-the-time fossil does not mean that he can crush it with voters nationwide in 2024. Americans in general are the most timid and compliant humans ever to occupy this planet. The Floridians who wanted the freedom to leave their houses, breathe without masks, send children to school, not inject their children with experimental drugs, etc., are outliers on the spectrum of American cowerhood. Young/cognitively sharp/competent/energetic/effective sounds good, but Americans in 2020 chose a new president who does not have any of these qualities.

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