Okay, so I wanted
to finally revisit the CA vs. TX vs. FL COVID response. I want to look
at it since the TX governor said "we're open for business" and effectively
went against all the suggestions to keep mask restrictions, etc. I also
want to look at the bottom line number for the entire pandemic to see if
CA (which as been in various states of lockdown since relatively early)
did demonstrably better than FL (which was slow to respond and quick to
reopen schools, etc.).
Some factors that
might affect things other than the lockdown status (state government response)...population
density, population makeup (age, race, income). Local restrictions, which
might vary quite a bit depending upon county. Ideally we would look at
things zip code by zip code and compare public policy and demographics
and figure things out. With that in mind, it's too much work for me to
look into all those variables and come up with a really great idea of how
much each factor played into the death toll so I'll just do what's easy
and I think at least somewhat instructive considering the perceived importance
of the gap between CA and TX/FL.
One other note
is that I'm looking at the deaths per million people statistic. It's less
reliant upon testing, less likely to be manipulated, and is adjusted for
population. So here are the numbers...
CA is doing the
best of the 3 I'm looking at. 1586 deaths per million compared to 1679
and 1765 for FL/TX respectively. So, TX is about 11% worse than CA and
FL is about 6% worse.
If you look at
the top chart and the bottom chart, you'll see that both FL and TX did
better than CA in that time. CA went +286, FL went +260, and TX (whose
governor was lambasted for spiking the football too early) went +267. All
pretty close, but CA actually did the worst of the 3. Could be because
of a bad vaccine roll out, but, according to Google the vaccination rate
for CA is 39.3%. FL is lower at 36.2% and TX is lowest at 33.1%. So, FL
and TX are worse than CA at vaccination and far more open from an economic
and social standpoint, but they have done better than CA since 3/2/21 when
Greg Abbott opened up the state and only 6-11% worse than CA overall.
I think these numbers
point towards a much more difficult story than what we're being told by
the mainstream narrative. Public policy seems to have an effect, but it
doesn't appear to be the huge difference that many think...at least on
the state level. Again, we could look at zip code level stats and demographics
like age or BMI or something, but the bottom line for me is that CA destroyed
education for a year+, destroyed the lives of many lower income earners,
destroyed many small businesses, increased
deaths of loneliness, etc. and the result isn't as clearly better as
you might hope.
Another way of
looking at it is, if CA had done 11% worse (same rate as TX) they would
have had 69,739 deaths, which would have been an additional 7,080 deaths.
One question I've
had since very early on is how many deaths is acceptable? The prevailing
wisdom amongst the orthodoxy right now is that no deaths are acceptable.
I've heard these exact words from a teachers' union representative, in
fact. But, what's the actual number? We accept deaths from all sorts of
things all the time. What number of deaths would we accept to have our
economy back or to be able to visit our dying grandma (check the This American
Life episode linked above) or to have school back in session so our kids
can learn and we can go to work? Is 7,000 deaths in 16 months, in a state
of 40 million okay?
As Nate Silver
pointed out...if you've gotten your vaccine and you're not changing your
behavior then that's a pretty good sign that you're overreacting.
There's an idea
of Truth (with a capital T) and poetic truth. The Truth is what I think
most people think of when they hear the word...it's the actual thing that
actually happened. You can play epistemological games and get philosophical
about it, but let's say that such a thing exists. Either a thing happened
or it didn't. Then there's the poetic truth, which is what we seem to have
in today's "post truth" world. It's the thing that is true enough, or,
even if it isn't true, gets at a fundamental truth. So, the poetic truth
might not be a thing that happened, but it could have happened because
of how the world is. Poetic truth maybe didn't happen in this instance,
but it has happened before so, hey, it's close enough. "Hands up, don't
shoot" is a poetic truth. Eric
Holder's DOJ found as much and yet it's a myth that persists. Supposedly,
Michael Brown said it before he was killed in cold blood. It's an inconvenient
truth that Brown was not a boy scout and was actually fighting with the
cop before he was killed. But, something like the narrative around the
Brown shooting certainly could have happened, and certainly has happened
elsewhere in the past...so it's true enough. At least that's how the argument
To what extent
does it matter that the poetic truth isn't the Truth?
Crypto market took
a dump today. I actually cashed out 80% of my position last week so I got
lucky on that. My worry about BTC (which I've never owned) is that it could
seemingly be easily replaced. Gold is gold and will always be useful and
important. BTC could be replaced tomorrow by someone who figures out a
better version (maybe it takes less power to mine or fixes some other issue
with BTC). Since BTC can't change, it could be obsolete with a better competitor.
I think the crypto
market is a bit bonkers and indicative of society. It changes rapidly and
doesn't seem to have any actual value behind it (in many cases). Unlike
stocks, which are connected to real companies with earnings and disclosures
and the rest, it appears as though crypto has a lot less behind it (thus
making valuation difficult). It seems the way to make money on it is the
same way you make mony on GME stock. Find the popular coin of the day and
invest short term. Less an investment and more an attempt at making money
out of nothing. Or maybe it's just a wealth transfer of sorts.
more signs of inflation...
If you think cops
aren't thinking about this
kind of interaction every time they make a stop then you're not paying
attention. I guarantee that there are hundreds of videos like this where
it's a close call or a cop gets killed that make the rounds with cops.
They talk about them in training and cops surely share them with each other.
I've seen dozens so I know the cops have seen even more. And I've seen
some of the training videos where they break this stuff down frame by frame
and talk about the mindset you have to have to stay alive. Unfortunately,
that mindset doesn't go well with regular policing. Any reform we suggest
has to keep all these things in mind. Most of the reforms I'm seeing from
the BLM crowd don't take any of this into account.
Been looking for
a warehouse space for a while now. The goal is to have all our work and
home stuff in one space so 1) we don't have to keep paying for storage
costs (which go up every few months) 2) have everything in one secure place
3) have everything in one place so it's easier for Meryl to manage her
staging inventory 4) have a bigger space for my tools/materials 5) move
so we don't have to be around our annoying neighbors 6) get a bit closer
to the amenities we like to be around. Can't recall if I've written about
this here yet. The long and short of it is that we've been looking for
a while. Found a place a few months ago that ticked all the boxes, but
it had two tenants so that would have been a challenge and it sold to someone
else anyway so... Now we've found another place, but it's 21,000 sf and
way more expensive than we can afford, but, if we rent out portions of
it, and get it for well below asking price, then it gets to a place that's
doable. Those are big ifs so we'll see. Meryl needs about 2000 sf for her
inventory and I'd like the same for my materials and shop space. The living
space could be 1500 sf and that would be good enough. We would need to
get our office in there somewhere as well.
One of the unintended
consequences of the "green economy" (pot) is that it has driven up the
cost of any warehouse type space quite a bit. This one may not be affected
by that, though, since it's near a school and they tend to be wary of that.
Crypto has been
really big the last six months or so. Wish I had gotten into it earlier.
The only two players that I see as solid at this point are ETH and BTC.
BTC has gone up like 500% in the last year and ETH has gone up 1.5k%
in that time. BTC I see less as an alternative to cash and more as an alternative
to gold. It's a store of value and hedge against inflation. ETH is potentially
the platform for the future. The problem with both of them is that valuation
is tough to justify since it's such a new market. I think people are still
figuring it out. My (small) stake in ETH has doubled since I went in. Obviously
I wish I had put in everything with returns like that in such a short time
I think this is the tough point with all crypto. Ultimately it's a supply
and demand thing of course, but that's not saying much. My hunch is that
ETH is much more likely to go up 10x in 10 years than it is to go down
10x in that time. In that way, the valuation seems to be on the side of
buying. I think there are more things that could drive the cost up than
down. Unlike BTC, ETH is dynamic and holds real value beyond a store of
value since it's a platform for potentially game changing things. Hopefully
those things come to fruition and it becomes the game changer that people
think it could be.
I have been going
on and on about inflation and MMT for a while now and it's one of those
things where I'll either be wrong or I'll be wrong until I'm right. I still
just don't see how the government can pump so much money into the economy
without a negative consequence. I don't know where/how it will all go wrong,
but I think it has to. The point of these black swan type events is that
you don't see them coming. Economists will measure inflation like they
always have and everything will look fine and then the shit will hit the
fan and they'll realize there was a blind spot somewhere and they'll start
measuring that for next time.
possibility is that shortages (like we're seeing in everything from
packets to chlorine)
could be one manifestation of inflation. Where we don't have shortages
we have straight up price increases like lumber, copper, metal, and more.
Ultimately, I just don't believe the super genius MMT folks.
news, I've been trying to have an abundance mindset lately, as opposed
to a scarcity mindset. In my work I've always worried about the next job
and trying to get whatever job opportunity is in front of me because I
don't know if tomorrow will bring another job. It's one of the worst things
about running your own business and part of the reason that I think business
owners are a bit more conservative. They are more in tune with the natural
law of the wild and I think that aligns more with at a conservative mindset.
That is, there are no guarantees in life. Be happy with what you have.
Do the responsible thing and save because a rainy day could always be around
the corner. When you are an employee, your mindset is very different. You
have much more security. Your thoughts aren't about where your next paycheck
(customer) is coming from, it's about how your job could offer more benefits,
etc. I think the employee mindset is more aligned with the left and the
employer mindset is more aligned with the right. Couple the mindset shift
with things like writing a check every quarter to the government (as opposed
to automatic deductions every two weeks...which you don't even really see
anymore because of auto deposit) and it's no wonder that the self-employed
tend to skew conservative. Of course there's also self-selection bias there....maybe
you're less likely to go out on your own if you have a leftist mindset
in the first place. It's also interesting that some of the most secure
people in their positions are tenured college faculty and they also tend
to be very highly Democratic. Hmm.
Anyway, I've been
trying to shift my mindset from one of worrying about where the next customer
is coming from, to one of abundance...thinking the best of future business
prospects, rather than the worst. We've kept busy regardless of how many
people we've had - from 0 to 4 people working under me in the field and
haven't done any marketing for years, so maybe it's time to worry less
about how many jobs are out there. Instead, maybe we should worry about
finding the jobs we want, rather than just filling the calendar. We'll
see how that goes and if I can be right about the macroeconomic situation
and also not foolish to believe that this new mindset is a good way to
run a business.
I remember voting
yes on the high speed rail proposition in 2007-ish when it was on the ballot.
My thinking was 1) it's going to take longer and cost more than they say,
but 2) it'll be great when it's done anyway. It's increasingly looking
like I was wrong on that second point and I underestimated just how much
#1 was going to be true. This is the kind of thing that I think Democrats,
Democrat apologists, and big government allies have to answer to. California
is the natural result of the policies that those people support and high
speed rail is one of those programs that those people love (including me
at one time). And yet here we are. It's 10+ years in the making and we
have essentially nothing to show for it. At some point you need to be able
to point to things that work if you're going to be an ally for a certain
position. So, if you have Democratic rule in a city or state for 20-50
years like it is in CA and many large cities, and yet you have rampant
homelessness, crime, income inequality, etc. then your ideas have to answer
to that. Of course it goes for the other side as well, but you already
knew that part.
the way there came this idea that if you can make it in NYC you can make
it anywhere. I think it would be much harder to make it in most rural locations
than in NYC. Maybe at one point NYC didn't have a robust social safety
net. Maybe it was more edgy and dangerous. But these days it's got every
resource imaginable and it's easier than ever to access those resources
because of the internet. I'd argue that NYC is one of the easiest places
to "make it" in the country. Sure, it's expensive, but the minimum wage
is high and there are just a million opportunities. If you burn one bridge
you've got a million other options. If you become disabled then there are
resources to help and a million other jobs you can still do if you have
the wherewithal. I'd just rather be a poor black kid with below average
intelligence in NYC than in rural Alabama. That already disadvantaged kid
would definitely be able to make a living in NYC if he worked hard. The
same is not true in rural AL. Look into the rural vs. urban divide and
you'll see this is a big issue in a lot of ways.
are many anti-rioting laws that are being proposed by Republicans. They
run the gamut from defining riots to have an add-on penalty for rioting
while doing some other crime. On the Media podcast had their panties in
a bunch over this, as did several other outlets. The main arguments seemed
to be that it was a violation of the first amendment and that there's no
need to add a riot designation to bolster pre-existing laws that already
outline illegal behavior like assault or vandalism. They complained that
it was too nebulous and subjective. I find this second point to be pretty
hilarious since these are the same people who are so adamant about hate
crime laws being necessary.
What's the deal
with hate crimes? Why do we need a separate designation for intent behind
an already illegal action? If I beat someone up should it matter that I'm
doing it because I don't like their religion? It doesn't make a lot of
sense to me. If I beat someone up to take their money and then I call them
a kike does that make it worse? Plus, it gets into a dicey area about intent
and that seems really tough to ajudicate. I think I'm going to stay consistent
on this one - we don't need anti-riot add ons anymore than we need hate
I listened to Chuck
Schumer on the Ezra Klein podcast the other day. He has an imaginary middle
class couple that he always thinks about when he's thinking about new legislation
or current economic trends, etc. This is very nice of him to think about
the middle class, however it's absolutely hilarious that he needs to concoct
a fictional couple and come up with a story about them and think about
what they might think about laws he's thinking about passing. He has access
to the actual opinions of thousands of actual middle class couples and
yet he finds himself making up fake ones and inferring their opinions based
upon whatever is in his head at the time. I mean, you can't make this shit
up. The guy is legitimately retarded. Just have some middle class friends
for once in your life, Chuck. Or maybe ask a constituent what they're thinking
once in a while for fuck's sake.
George W. Bush at 51% today. It was 11% when he left office. What the hell
is wrong with these people? W may have been worse than Trump, but they
have a short memory. The guy was dog shit in a suit. Yeah, he danced with
Michelle Obama or whatever, BFD. He's basically a mass murderer for fuck's
Reply All is a
good podcast overall, but it's become a woke fiasco the last year or so.
Most recently it was in the news because it turned out they're not as woke
as they claim and they were doing a story on another toxic workplace culture
when it was revealed that maybe they shouldn't be ones to talk. What a
mess. Live by the sword, die by the sword.
Have you heard
of the problem
solvers caucus in congress? Probably not. You have to ask yourself
why you haven't or, if you have, why you haven't heard about it more. This
is why the media is complicit in the downfall of our society and worse
than W or Trump or Koch or Mercer or any of the rest of the individual
morons you may hate. Instead of focusing on people who are working to solve
issues in a bipartisan way, you hear about Schumer wearing Kente cloth
and McConnell being a douche bag. The media could focus on the efforts
of these 56 members for an entire week, but instead they've historically
happier to parse Trump's latest tweet from the toilet. The mainstream media
An issue that comes
up every once in a while is the issue of free tampons. As part of a public
toilet situation I think it makes sense. You give free TP, so it would
be nice to give free tampons and pads as well. There's precedent and it
makes sense. Same could be said for poor women in shelters, for example.
However, as a matter of public policy to just pay for tampons makes no
sense to me whatsoever. It smacks of the kind of "more free shit" thinking
that we get these days. Under what logic does it make sense to provide
free tampons to women (er, sorry, I mean people who menstruate)? An aside
about this - because some trans activists are very particular, this is
legitimately how we are supposed to talk about this issue. Not all women
menstruate - and we're not just talking about menopausal women - we're
talking about women who were born with dicks who can't menstruate, so let's
be sensitive. No, I'm not making this up, I'm not that creative. Anyway,
what is the precedent or analog for paying for tampons? I just don't see
it. We don't pay for TP and everyone uses that. We do pay for free condoms
and needles so maybe you could say that? I'm not sure where the free stuff
ends. This is the slippery slope (remember, it's not a fallacy). This
is something people actually want and think they deserve for simply
There has to be
a test to determine what gets paid for and what doesn't. If we do it on
a case by case basis then we'll just slowly work our way down the line
paying for everything until the political contingents get so small that
they don't have any pull. So what's the test? If you say that tampons should
be free because without tampons there's a public health crisis then TP
has to be next. And toothpaste. And toothbrushes. And band-aids. And and
and...At some point there have to be women willing to stand up and say
"no thanks, I can take care of myself thank you very much." To do otherwise
is to be anti-feminist in my view. Women are so weak and unable to care
for themselves that they need a provider. It used to be their dad or husband
and now it's Uncle Sam. Is that what we want?
Since I'm digging
my grave on the women vs. men front today, I may as well continue.
You can't say that
men are rapacious and brutal capitalists on the one hand and then complain
that women make less overall. If men are brutal capitalists who have less
empathy and are implicitly worse people, but better capitalists then that's
the cost of making more money. In this system (according to the people
who make these claims) the men are making more money because of their attributes
and capitalism. If you want women to make more then have them adopt the
same attributes. You can't sit on your high horse and claim moral superiority
and be virtuous, but also make the same money. Life is about trade offs.
I think I've fleshed
this out before, but suffice it to say that the gender wage gap that Obama
talks about ("women make 22% less than men for the same work") is an utter
lie. The same work wage gap is in the single digits depending upon what
your source is. And the gap is almost entirely a result of having kids.
You can see this, in part, by looking at lesbians who don't take a year
off to have kids, for example. But it's a useful lie so the narrative continues.
If I'm steel manning
the argument I'd say that capitalism doesn't leave room for things like
raising kids and that disproportionately hurts women (mostly because of
biology and individual decisions, but still) so capitalism needs to be
reformed to make that better. Unfortunately it's harder to have the discussion
when the one being proffered instead is based on lies.
In the last year
you've probably heard more about Tuskegee than normal. Here's how the conversation
goes, and I've heard it at least a dozen times on NPR type programs: "The
vaccine rollout is going well, but we really need to reach out to Black
communities which are vaccine hesitant, and rightfully so because of Tuskegee
and things like that." I've heard an argument almost exactly like this
many times by now. They always mention Tuskegee and they never mention
another example of why the Black community is justifiably vaccine hesitant.
One woman mentioned in an interview that her doctors didn't take her seriously,
but that's the closest I've heard to fleshing out the "and things like
Tuskegee" part of the argument. So, if you know of other cases like Tuskegee,
let me know. I have very little faith in the government so I wouldn't doubt
it, but it's odd that they never mention anything else.
Speaking of Tuskegee...the
reason this is so egregious is that the government doctors had a policy
of using Black people for their experiments for so many years. It was a
total of 600 men. It was a failure of the medical community and the government.
But black men in particular are seen as disposable so they did what they
did. Another example of men being disposable is the Titanic. If you were
a 3rd class passenger and female you have a 50/50 chance of living (92
died, 87 lived). If you were a 3rd class male passenger then the ratio
was a wee bit worse (389 died, 62 lived). Overall, 1345 men died out of
1669, that's 80.5% of men died vs. 25.6% of women. The stats I have don't
break the children down by gender for some reason. Tragically 49 of 115
children died. 1st class 137 out of 141 women lived. 1st class 56 out of
174 men lived. So, regardless of class, men were much more likely to die.
Meryl got her first
shot of the vaccine the other day, I still haven't.
78% of people hospitalized
or dead from COVID were obese or overweight. Hm, I wonder if this has anything
to do with our poor outcomes relative to other countries.
What are the chances
somebody with COVID must be hospitalized? Think about it for a minute...zero?
1-5%? 6-10%? 11-19%? 20-49%? 50% and up? Here's where we get to see how
accurate your perception is of the issue. How does the media you consume
shape your answer here and if you get this wrong are you going to demand
better from your media sources? The answer is 1-5%. 41% of Democrats answered
50% and up. 28% of Democrats answered 20-49%. So, 69% of Democrats thought
it was 4-10+ times worse than it actually is. 10% of Democrats got the
answer right. 26% of Republicans got the answer right. Why? Because Democrats
are the party of science? Oops. Because Republicans are so much smarter
than Democrats? No, because of the news they consume.
I'm fortunate to
remember this same kind of misinformation coming around 9/11 when Republicans
were asked questions about Iraq and weapons of mass destruction, etc. They
all watched FOX and so they were horribly misinformed. Now, the shoe is
on the other foot.
Garbage in, garbage
out. Unless you were close on that question, I don't think you can be at
all smug. We should all have some humility even though most of us leftists
were laughing at the idiots 17 year ago who didn't know the basic answers
about Iraq and WMD.
George Floyd has
a bunch of stuff named after him now apparently. I mean...he didn't really
do anything. Are we allowed to be honest about the guy? He wasn't a saint.
He didn't seek to be a martyr. He didn't stand up against oppression or
anything. He was tweaking out and he died because a cop (at least one)
was a piece of shit who was posturing for the crowd. I don't see how that
makes you worthy of having a town square (among other things) named after
you. It's the ultimate sign in a time when being a victim is a badge of
honor - get a landmark named after you for no reason other than you were
victimized by someone. I'm not a fan.
I see the same
sort of sentiment in other places as well. Saw a sign the other day that
said we should never forget 1/6/2021. Why? 9/11, never forget. Why do we
want to remember the times when something bad happened? Importantly, it's
not that we're remembering our reaction to the thing...it's remembering
the thing itself. Remembering the Alamo at least was remembering how the
few fought against the many. It's inspirational on some level. But remembering
1/6/21 or 9/11? Remember that time you got punched in the dick and were
crying on the sidewalk for 10 minutes! Yeah, makes a lot of sense.
I used to like
Ellen Page a lot. But now I just see her as a fraud or, at best, someone
who is mentally unwell. When she came out on Ellen's show she claimed to
be so happy and she could finally be who she is and all that. Everyone
pretty much knew it already, but whatever, you're gay and out - good for
you. Now she says she's a boy and claims she's known she was a boy since
age 5. In the Oprah interview she really comes off as supremely unhappy
and unwell still. I think this is going to be a Kirstie Alley type situation
where she's up and down - not with her weight, but with her mental wellness
and overall happiness. I don't see good things in the future.
One proposed fix
to the SCOTUS is to implement term limits for SC justices. If people really
believe in this idea then they should try to get it passed when Breyer
retires under Biden's administration (likely this year). Otherwise you're
just a bullshit artist. Either it's a good enough idea to start now or
it's just bullshit. "Hey guys I think we should jump off this bridge, but
you guys should do it first." vs. "Hey guys I think we should jump off
this bridge and I'll be the first to do it."
Same goes for the
unity talk. You can't give a victory speech and call for unity. Of course
the winner wants everyone to unite behind him/her. Do it when you lose.
Lose to Trump and say, hey he's our president and I look forward to working
with the guy. Otherwise it's just more bullshit talk from a bunch of phonies.
This is an old
one, but it may be my favorite meme.