Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for April 8th, 2020

The New Populist Right Imagines a Post-Pandemic America

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Fascinating column by Matt Stoller in Big. From the column (but read the whole thing):

Since 2016, the Republicans, long a party supportive of free trade with China, began changing their relationship to both China and big finance. Trump is a protectionist who loves tariffs and closing down borders. But behind him, there is a notable new thought collective of populists who pay attention to China, which includes figures like White House advisor Peter Navarro, Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson, Senators Josh Hawley, Marco Rubio, and Tom Cotton, American Compass founder Oren Cass, Rising anchor Saagar Enjeti and United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. The shift is not party-wide by any means, but it is substantial enough to massively influence policy.

This new populist thought collective includes some of the first major political figures to really get the impact of the Coronavirus, and it also includes some of the more assertive influencers of the policy debate. There is a deep streak of raw nationalism here, with Tom Cotton almost seeking great power conflict and acting reflexively hostile to multilateral institutions. But the nationalist rhetoric and jingoism of Trump can obscure a more sophisticated recognition by some people in this new populist world that the core dynamic of the China-US relationship isn’t two nation-states opposed to one another, it is an authoritarian government in China that is deeply aligned with Wall Street, against the public in both nations.

One way Rubio has tried to deal with Chinese control in the American economy is through industrial policy, meaning the explicit shaping of industrial enterprises by state financing and control. One of Rubio’s initial goals was to meet the security threat from Huawei, the Chinese telecom giant that is threatening to take over the global communications apparatus. But he’s also gone more broadly into manufacturing in general, and small business, which is a more Brandeis-style frame.

Regardless, the intellectual ferment on the right is real, and fascinating. The first fruits of this philosophical discourse is the massive SBA Paycheck Protection Program, which is a $349 billion lending program to small business negotiated with Democratic Senators. So far, the program excludes private equity-controlled corporations, and though that may change, such legislative design implies genuine skepticism of the role of high finance. That’s a significant shift from traditional Republican orthodoxy.

Operationally speaking the PPP is a mess, and Republican populists will have to confront the many institutional challenges involved in trying to get large amounts of money through the ‘rusty pipes’ of our banking system. But it’s still a remarkable achievement.

A New American Deal?

But that’s not the end of the debate. The new populist thought collective has much broader aims.

Last week, a second key leader of this group, Senator Josh Hawley, introduced an expansive vision document titled “Getting America Back to Work” on how to save the American worker and then position American industry to address the China problem. Hawley is perhaps the single most aggressive Republican when it comes to corporate power, addressing structural problems with big techWall Street, and landlords, and attacking liberal power centers like academia, Silicon Valley, and Hollywood. Like Rubio, he has a core philosophical premise; his book Theodore Roosevelt: Preacher of Righteousness is a genuinely excellent work on 19th century intellectual history, race, imperialism, and the corporate state. Hawley’s plan emerges from his view that America should exist as a moral society anchored by the broad middle of the nation, which he sees as the family, the local community, the local business or civic association, and the church.

The plan starts by mimicking what Denmark and the UK have done, which is to offer payroll support to firms to keep workers employed instead of offering welfare to the newly unemployed. But it also includes a firm crackdown on Wall Street and mergers, and inducements to begin making things in America again. In some ways, it is the outline of a New Deal-style arrangement, taking power from the financiers and returning it to private businesses, workers, and public institutions.

Under Hawley’s plan, the Federal government would pay the salaries of workers by giving firms a refundable tax rebate for 80% of their payroll costs. It would also give . . .

Written by Leisureguy

8 April 2020 at 6:42 pm

Trump didn’t suspend China flights. The airlines did.

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Written by Leisureguy

8 April 2020 at 6:31 pm

Mesmerizing kinetic sculptures

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I would like to get either Spirit or Duality for the wall I face when sitting in my chair. (Note the run times —  and the price.)

Written by Leisureguy

8 April 2020 at 2:52 pm

Posted in Art

The Role of Meat and Dairy in Triggering Type 1 Diabetes

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Dr. Greger has an interesting blog post:

ype 1 diabetes “arises following the autoimmune destruction of the insulin-producing pancreatic β [beta] cells…[and] is most often diagnosed in children and adolescents, usually presenting with a classic trio of symptoms” as their blood sugars spike: excessive thirst, hunger, and urination. They need to go on insulin for the rest of their lives, since their own immune systems attacked and destroyed their ability to produce it. What would cause our body to do such a thing? I examine this in my video, Does Paratuberculosis in Milk Trigger Type 1 Diabetes?

Whatever it is, it has been on the rise around the world, starting after World War 2. “Understanding why and how this produced the current pandemic of childhood diabetes would be an important step toward reversing it.” A plausible guess is “molecular mimicry, whereby a foreign antigen (bacterial or viral) provokes an immune response, which cross-reacts” with a similar-looking protein on our pancreas such that when we attack the bug, our own organ gets caught in the cross-fire. Given this, what pancreatic proteins are type 1 diabetics self-attacking? In the 1980s, a protein was identified that we came to realize in the 1990s looked an awful lot like a certain mycobacterial protein. Mycobacteria are a family of bacteria that cause diseases like tuberculosis and leprosy, and, in one study, all newly diagnosed type 1 diabetic children were found to have immune responses to this mycobacterial protein. This didn’t make any sense as incidence of type 1 diabetes has been going up in the industrialized world, whereas TB and leprosy rates have gone down. However, there is one mycobacterial infection in farm animals that has shot up with the industrialization and globalization of animal agriculture: paratuberculosis (paraTB), which causes Johne’s disease in animals. Paratuberculosis is now recognized as a global problem for the livestock industry.

Weren’t there a dozen or so studies suggesting that “cow’s milk exposure may be an important determinant of subsequent type 1 diabetes” in childhood? Indeed. After putting two and two together, an idea was put forward in 2006: Could mycobacterium paratuberculosis from cattle be a trigger for type 1 diabetes? The idea was compelling enough for researchers put it to the test.

They attempted to test the association of Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis (MAP), the full name for the bug, with type 1 diabetes by testing diabetics for the presence of the bacteria in their blood. Lo and behold, most of the diabetic patients tested positive for the bug, compared to only a minority of the healthy control subjects. This evidence of MAP bacteria in the blood of patients with type 1 diabetes “might provide an important foundation in establishing an infectious etiology,” or cause, for type 1 diabetes. “These results also might possibly have implications for  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

8 April 2020 at 2:51 pm

Contrast of abstract vs. concrete in physics, math, and elsewhere

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I had a few thoughts after sleeping on this article in Quanta, which describes how abstract (and unconstructable) numbers in mathematics possibly support a distorted view the physics of physical reality.

One thought concerned something that would be possible (in theory) if physical quantities could be measured precisely: Consider two metal cubes, almost identical in size. Designate the smaller’s width as 1, and the larger made so that its width is 1.000xyz…, where xyz initiates a string of 3-digit segments, with each 3 digits being the decimal value of a byte, and the bytes representing characters in Unicode UTF-8. The larger cube is constructed so the decimal expansion contains the Unicode representation of the Universal Library described by Jorge Luis Borges in The Library of Babel.

This library, though quite large (read the story to get an idea of its size), is certainly not infinite, and so the decimal string of the larger cube’s size in terms of the size of the smaller is also not an infinite decimal. It’s just a very long decimal.

That would mean that two 1mm (approximately) cubes could contain the complete range of human knowledge. But this is possible only in thought, not in reality. Reality does not even allow for such precision.

Another thought I had was the contrast between the Platonic ideal God of some branches of Christianity — a God that is eternal, unchanging, absolute, omnipotent, omniscience, unaffected by the physical universe in general and humans in particular — and the God of process theology, which is intimately involved with the evolutionary universe and humans, reacting to humans and capable of change and of learning (as in fact as described in the Holy Bible).

In both cases, the contrast is between the abstract and theoretical and the real and practical — similar to the contrast between my abstract and theoretical knowledge of the camera’s self-timer that did not make the jump to the real and practical application of the self-timer when I needed it. Abstract and theoretical knowledge is separate from real and practical and experiential knowledge, and the abstract and theoretical model of the universe in physics is separate from the real and practical (and not so precise) universe in reality.

Written by Leisureguy

8 April 2020 at 11:52 am

‘From dream to reality!’ The 1960s spoof

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The video in this Aeon article is a hoot.

Written by Leisureguy

8 April 2020 at 11:27 am

Posted in Business, Video

Amid critical supply shortage, FEMA is spending millions to protect Trump properties

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Alex Emmons reports in the Intercept:

THE FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY has provided less than 10 percent of the N95 masks requested by officials in five states and the District of Columbia, according to documents released Thursday by the House Oversight Committee. FEMA also told the committee that the Strategic National Stockpile had only 9,500 remaining ventilators — far short of what will likely be needed to treat a growing number of coronavirus patients.

Although federal officials have known of the shortages for months, they have not been remedied. Yet every year since 2017, Congress has directed FEMA to set aside $41 million of its budget to offset the extraordinary costs of providing security for President Donald Trump’s properties. The “Presidential Residence Assistant Protection Grants” were most recently funded by Congress in an appropriations package in December.

According to memos posted on its website, FEMA has previously identified Trump properties in New York, New Jersey, and Florida as “qualifying residences” and paid out millions of dollars to the New York Police Department and Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, among others. The grant program is limited to reimbursing “operational overtime and backfill overtime” for law enforcement and cannot be used to underwrite salaries or purchase police equipment.

The grant program does not make up a huge part of FEMA’s annual budget or its disaster relief fund, which just received a $45 billion infusion from last month’s stimulus bill. But at a time when every federal dollar counts, some question whether the payout to secure Trump properties is a good use of government resources.

Tyson Slocum, a program director with the advocacy group Public Citizen, told The Intercept by phone that the program “doesn’t seem to be in line with FEMA’s core objectives” and that he had “a financial conflict of interest concern” about it. Public Citizen recently used public records requests to show how much the Secret Service paid to rent rooms at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Florida.

“It’s been well established that President Trump spends an inordinate amount of time at his properties, that he routinely advertises his properties as part of his official duties, and that having this sort of special fund to help offset local security costs is an indirect benefit to the president,” Slocum said. “Allowing reimbursements to those local law enforcement costs could be relieving the Trump businesses of having to provide extra security.”

A former FEMA official who declined to be named for fear of professional reprisal, told The Intercept that the $41 million grant program was created in 2017 to help cover the huge costs of security at Trump’s residences, though it is unclear who in Congress shepherded the language to passage then and in each year since.

The former official pointed out that previous presidents have spent time in private residences — like the vacation home Barack Obama rented on Martha’s Vineyard in 2013, or the private ranch used by George W. Bush while in office — but that neither burdened local law enforcement agencies the way that Trump’s trips to his properties have.

In 2017, for example, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

8 April 2020 at 10:56 am

Coronavirus spreads rapidly and kills more than the flu

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A cluster(f-k) of right-wing politicians and pundits — including Rush Limbaugh and Donald Trump — repeatedly have stated (and, unfortunately, have been believed by some) that the cornonavirus is no worse than the common flu. Indeed, Limbaugh said is was simply the common cold. This chart, from a Philip Bump article in the Washington Post, exposes them for the lying vile blackguards that they are.

Written by Leisureguy

8 April 2020 at 10:53 am

Posted in GOP, Media, Medical

Another sandalwood, stronger — and the excellent RazoRock MJ-90A

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Despite Tcheon Fung Sing’s “forte” designation for its Linea Intensa “Crazy Sandalwood,” I found that fragrance much less intense than that of Art of Shaving’s (excellent) Sandalwood shaving soap. (BTW, TFS’s soap is made with almond oil (olio de mandorle), which I don’t see in many shaving soaps, though it certainly fits with the Italian love of almond-fragranced shaving soaps.)

The Kent Infinity, a very nice little brush, made a really excellent lather immediately from the AOS soap — it’s a good soap, and I would say that it contains no clay — and the highly comfortable and highly efficient RazoRock MJ-90A did a bang-up job. (“A” is for “aggressive”; I would name it the MJ-90E (for “efficient”), since it is not aggressive at all in feel.)

A splash of the interesting Ogallala Bay Rum & Sandalwood, and the day begins on a good note.

Written by Leisureguy

8 April 2020 at 8:07 am

Posted in Shaving

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