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March 24, 2020

Posted by Patrick at 07:25 AM * 110 comments

Reading about all the people venturing that maybe it would be better to stop the social distancing and reopen the businesses, because tHe dAmAge tO tHe EcOnoMy is So mUcH wOrSe thAn A fEw MiLliOn dEaThS. As someone on Twitter put it, “throwing millions of people into a volcano to appease the Market God.”

I find myself remembering all the times I’ve heard people in the science fiction world, including eminent authors, muse that it would probably be for the best to have some big die-off events. I suspect that at least one in three Americans believes this. I suspect I have friends and colleagues who quietly believe this.

I can’t stop thinking about it. I feel surrounded by ghouls.

Comments on Surrounded:
#1 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 08:08 AM:

*reads what you have written*

#2 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 08:29 AM:


People who think that are wrong. They are ignorant and wrong.

We can take care of each other. Stay home. Most employers are not going to be stupid. Governors of individual states are going to continue telling people to stay home.

What's going to be difficult for many are the hours of work increasing. People working in medicine, in retail, in "vital" jobs who will increasingly have longer hours as peers either become sick (not just from CONVID-19; stress, over work, etc. are already a factor) or quit out of fear of contagion.

And for others, our income has dropped precipitately, without a government funded social network.

We're going to have to create our own social networks. This means sharing resources like food where we can.

This will change the economy, and our lives, but not the was 🤥🤥👖🔥 Trump thinks. Look at the 14th century; there's a map showing good and bad routes.

But please hang in there. We can protect ourselves and our loved ones—says she who has not left an apartment for longer than thirty minutes in months. Because my 96 year old mom is very very vulnerable.

#3 ::: Phiala ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 08:44 AM:

A pandemic is a wicked problem: unclear and rapidly changing specification; no actual point at which we have solved it and can move on; and no right solution, just better and worse strategies.

Like all the wicked problems currently confronting us, there are many very intelligent and highly-motivated people employing all the tools of science to tackle it. (I have my own small piece of a different wicked problem to work on.)

But like all such problems, that's not enough. It's not just the scientific insights: these problems require the political and social will. That's where the US, and many other countries are falling short. A pandemic is a faster sort of slow motion disaster, and like puppies, humans mostly don't learn well unless you can rub their noses in it. In a few months I expect rousing choruses of, "Why didn't anyone TELL US?"


I am an environmental scientist. I can tell you many ways in which a smaller human population would be good for the environment. I am a human, and this is so very not how I want to get to that point. I am emphatically not okay with people dying for the good of the environment, good of the economy, or any other reason beyond peaceful old age.

#4 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 08:53 AM:

I've amended the OP to forstall a possible misreading. The thing I can't stop thinking about is not the idea that we should let millions of people die. That idea is vile.

#5 ::: Patrick Linnen ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 09:14 AM:

'Lifeboat Ethics', promoted by Garrett Hardin (originator of the idea of the 'Tragedy of the Commons'). It is also known as ecofascism.

#6 ::: Cory Doctorow ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 09:17 AM:

The thing I find baffling is how short-term this thinking is.

Not for Trump, ofc, who is legendary for his view of life as a game of running across a river hopping from the back of one alligator to another before he can get his leg bitten off.

But for the right-wing establishment, whose whole schtick is "rationality" and "long-term thinking" and "self-control" (think of the gleeful repetition of the discredited Marshmellow Test and the rhetoric about the "poor life choices" that lead to single parenthood, addiction, and inadequate retirement savings or health insurance).

How is it that these self-congratulatory long-game-players can't see that murdering one in five American seniors is a self-limiting move when frightened old white people are the primary source of turkeys who can be counted upon to vote for Christmas every four years?

The right has an antimajoritarian, elitist agenda. Right-wing thought is essentially the belief that some people are destined to rule, and others are destined to be ruled over by their betters, and the world is best when the right people are atop the pyramid. Splits in the right are about who should rule: Dominionists want Christian men in charge; libertarians want bosses in charge, imperialists want America in charge, racists want white people in charge, etc.

Antimajoritarian projects struggle in democracies, for obvious reasons. When your platform is "only 1% of us should be making decisions" it's hard to win 51% of the vote. That's why the right focuses so hard on gerrymandering and voter suppression, and why the otherwise untenable coalitions -- finaciers and young-Earth Creationists, say -- persist.

But the biggest source of ballots in support of rule by elites is frightened people, especially frightened bigots who think that the elites will promote their interests ahead of the disfavored minorities (think: Dixiecrats).

So murdering 20% of the most reliable source of votes for elite rule is a farcically shortsighted thing to do.

I am terrified of a Biden candidacy not merely because I think his policies are poor, but because I think he is really bad at being a candidate, and will struggle to win.

But Trump murdering 20% of his base might just be enough to make him LOSE. It may be that while he could murder someone in the middle of 5th Ave and get away with it, he can't sentence 20% of US pensioners to gruesome deaths and get away with it.

I'm not gleeful at this prospect. I am totally aghast. I barely slept last night, waking up dozens of times with this genocide playing out in my imagination.

But I am incredibly SURPRISED. How does the self-declared Party of the Long View not see that this is going to destroy it?

The stock market is circling the drain and obviously this is very distressing for the donor class, but almost no Americans own any significant stocks, because most Americans have NO savings. The idea that rescuing share prices by killing the elderly will get the turkeys out to vote for Christmas is clearly wrong.

#7 ::: Prendle ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 09:40 AM:

There are many effects from destroying the economy that are not obvious. The governor of NY was just talking about a 9 month shutdown, and I am stunned at the lack of foresight and understanding of the mind who thought that was reasonable.

Poverty brings with it a lot of suffering, not just for the first generation, but for future generations. And personally I'd rather die than take on much more suffering.

#8 ::: Prendle ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 09:50 AM:

Also the national debt is so high, and there is so much theft in the system, we may be in the phase now where if growth stops for too long we'll enter the next great depression. I doubt that's the fear of the corporate neolibs and neocons though. Their fear is mostly that this is keeping them from stealing as much.

We need a new party. A third party, a people's party, to unite the non-cultists of the left and right, and pull in a lot of the independents who have given up. We need to make the hard compromises on things that drive people away, like not letting the party platform include controversial things like abortion (candidates can, but not the party). It should have a no spoiler clause where our candidate will step down and endorse if losing, in extreme cases like Hillary vs Trump. And the person to lead this party? Cory Doctorow. Well maybe it should be someone less polarizing. Certainly not me.

#9 ::: Michael Mock ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 09:51 AM:

My personal feeling is that these people aren't particularly smart; they're just rich. And they're used to having other people sacrifice for them, and I'm absolutely certain that at least some of them are still affronted that this virus had the sheer, unmitigated gall to make its way into Congress and infect people like them.

The rules have never applied to them before, after all.

So they're panicking, and trying to push these murderous, short-sighted, self-defeating strategies because that's all they have.

What's killing me emotionally is that I don't see more people turning on them for this. How is there not a row of guillotines in the street in front of our Lt Governor's house right now? (Yes, I'm in Texas.)

#10 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 09:54 AM:

Obviously recessions and depressions cause untold suffering.

Just as obviously, if we yank all the social-distancing and lockdown measures, millions of people will die. Millions. 2.5 million people is over five times the US death toll in WWII. And meanwhile, as they die, they will crash our health care infrastructure.

Anyone who thinks this also won't beat the living crap out of our economy is, I submit, not exactly showing a lot of "foresight and understanding."

#11 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 09:57 AM:

My Strategic Eyeroll Reserve is insufficient to sustain an argument about the importance of the "national debt."

TL,DR, it's nowhere near as important as the debt scolds think it is. And it's amazing how quickly it blinks in and out of existence as a Serious Concern, depending on whose interests are at stake.

#12 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 10:05 AM:

There appear to be 2 answers to "Why do we have a society?", and the people we've put in charge of our society are the ones supporting the wrong answer.

#13 ::: CLP ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 10:43 AM:

Absolutely agree with you. Economies should exist to serve the well-being of people.

Also, the idea that millions of deaths wouldn’t also tank the economy is nonsensical!

About a decade ago, the right argued against the ACA with the bogus idea that it would lead to the advent of “death panels”. Now we are seeing very clearly that this was pure projection.

#14 ::: stefan jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 11:23 AM:

Tangentially relevant article from The Smithsonian:

I suspect that it is the ghouls who are surrounded. I'm seeing lots of furious reaction to this proposal.

Time to thoroughly shame those who promote it.

Stay well, everybody.

#15 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 11:50 AM:

My mom is 94, too incoherent to live by herself, has COPD and AFib and various other conditions, and last week was recommended for hospice care: Great! Let’s put her in a Petrie dish!

If she catches COVID-19, no triage worker is going to recommend anything beyond comfort measures while she suffocates.

#16 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 11:58 AM:

Aside from the bald-faced cruelty and stupidity of this thinking, I'm always charmed by the underlying belief that these speakers have that it will be someone else gasping for breath without medical attention. Because I don't imagine these speakers, should they contract Covid-19 and spiral into a worse-case medical scenario, will be selflessly wheezing, "No, it's okay, put me on the ice floe for the good of the market!"

#17 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 11:59 AM:

Prendle, you're afraid, and that's keeping you from seeing that you're looking at the wrong things. "9 months of lockdown isn't "shutting everything down" - it's restricting, yes, but it's the only way to keep people from spreading the virus when they don't know they're sick (and half the people who get it don't know).

A "populist party" has been tried before and it loses. It makes things worse, in fact, because it pulls votes from one party that could have kept the worse candidate from winning.

The national debt isn't the problem. It's the policy of cutting taxes on the wealthy and corporations, when they complain about having to pay their share. You and I shouldn't have to pay more in taxes than Exxon or Amazon!

#18 ::: Greg Hullender ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 12:07 PM:

We need a lot of creative suggestions to get through this, and "just let the old, the weak, and the sick die" is not creative. We need ideas like encouraging people to wear masks and gloves as fashion accessories to enable most of the population to return to work (if, in fact, that would work).

But we could do we less drinking aquarium cleaner thinking it's a cure.

#19 ::: Prendle ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 12:16 PM:

> Prendle, you're afraid, and that's keeping you from seeing that you're looking at the wrong things. "9 months of lockdown isn't "shutting everything down" - it's restricting, yes, but it's the only way to keep people from spreading the virus when they don't know they're sick (and half the people who get it don't know).

It's clueless. China is already opening up Wuhan. If we were in a plague so bad we needed a 9 month shutdown, we would be resigned to entering a depression. I'm just saying we need to balance all factors with the goal of minimizing death and suffering.

> A "populist party" has been tried before and it loses. It makes things worse, in fact, because it pulls votes from one party that could have kept the worse candidate from winning.

That's why I put in the "no spoiler" part. Please read and cogitate my entire statement before telling me I'm wrong. The time is ripe now for a revolution. It is possible and doable. If there are problems, come up with solutions. "It can never work" is exactly what the establishment wants you to think. There is a solution. Think outside the box.

#20 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 12:46 PM:

From a tweet way back: In retrospect, I resorted to cannibalism rather faster than I should have.

#21 ::: stefan jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 12:52 PM:

#16: I was gratified to see that representatives and senators were being declared C-19 positive; not because I wish them ill, but because it gives them and their colleagues some perspective about this outbreak. Anyone is vulnerable.

* * *

@Teresa: I am so sorry.

The well of misery and injustice is so deep right now.

* * *
Oh, man:

Jerry Fallwell, Jr., is calling back the staff and students of Liberty University.

Can this be ANYTHING but the result of Trump's signal?

When those kids and the staff start getting sick, and the school is closed again. they'll go home to communities predisposed to not believing there ever was a problem.

#22 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 02:15 PM:

The medical experts are talking FIVE months of lockdown. The politicians don't understand what they're dealing with, don't necessarily want to understand, and think that things can go back to The Way They Think They Were with no changes. It Won't Be Like That.

We're going to have a depression anyway, because that's what pandemics do. Go read about the plague in the 1340s - that was far worse.

And find news sources that don't try to fill you with fear. Fear kills your thinking.

#23 ::: elizabeth bear ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 02:28 PM:

I'm really, really over those people.

I suspect some of them are engaged in cozy apocalypse magical thinking where the protagonists all survive and build a new world in the ashes of the old.

Not the real world, where people we love and even we ourselves are the victims of horrible things and no amount of positive thinking or Being Right can stop it.

I envision some of them trying to mansplain to the viruses. "No, no, I didn't mean ME."

#24 ::: jack lecou ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 02:57 PM:

The weird thing is there IS a way to have your cake and eat it too. Or there would have been, 6-12 months ago. What you do is prepare for disasters like this ahead of time, so you’re ready to leap into action when something comes up. Much like Korea did.

You generously fund infectious disease research and response agencies such as the CDC. You maintain proper stockpiles of medical equipment, medicines and PPE. You ensure that adequately sized medical facilities exist in every community, and have readiness plans and drills. Most importantly, you put scientific and medical experts in charge of all of that, and listen to their advice. Simple.

So where were all these Very Rational Big-Brained Long Term Thinkers a couple of years ago when science budgets and pandemic preparedness were getting slashed to the bone, with political flunkies appointed to oversee the flayed corpses of vital government functions?

Back *then* those programs were all "too expensive". Yet somehow *now* it's all "sacrifices must be made".

I can’t wait until we get to see these people reacting to more and more climate change disasters. Not like anybody can see those coming or anything.

#25 ::: Prendle ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 03:33 PM:

> TL,DR, it's nowhere near as important as the debt scolds think it is.

Don't you realize Trump and the Republicans are trying to bankrupt the nation in the name of Small Government? They are adding 1T a year to the debt and this year it might be 10T. Then they leave the mess for the next Dem president who always has to spend years fixing the economy. You want to let the right control the narrative on the national debt? We should be shouting about it from the rooftops. They definitely will after a Dem wins.

#26 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 04:34 PM:

Yes. But that wasn't what you were talking about. That's the deficit, not the national debt. They're two different things.

#27 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 04:48 PM:

Cory, I suspect the right-wing establishment types who are thinking about this to any rational extent are counting on most of the losses occurring in high-population-density regions that trend strongly blue anyway.

I can also see some attempts to turn this into an anti-urban, anti-immigrant thing. Possibly they’re hoping that some portion of independent voters will blame Democratic policies for their dead friends and relatives.

#28 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 05:02 PM:

I suspect these crazy arguments arise from elite panic. The proponents seem to be mostly rich right-wingers (check) of an authoritarian temperamental bent (check) and they're scared of losing money/status (check) and want the threat to be over so they can move on and forget about it (check).

They're also terrified that it's coinciding with a shift off oil for automobiles (to EVs -- the shift is coming very fast indeed in terms of how the automotive industry works: Tesla just manufactured their millionth car, up from being a niche maker of luxury sports models a decade ago), the end of coal, the end of the post-2008 financial bubble, demographic shifts turning red states blue and ending white Protestant domination of politics, and, and ...

It's gotta be absolutely terrifying to be an old rich white male oligarch these days. Doesn't mean I won't be cheering on the tumbrils if this goes on, though. (Even though I know where that sort of thing ends up. Ugh.)

#29 ::: jack lecou ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 05:03 PM:

> You want to let the right control the narrative on the national debt? We should be shouting about it from the rooftops.

You're parroting right wing narrative in this very post. "Bankrupt the nation", "$some-big-number-T", etc. Those are all right wing talking points. Discussing debt and deficits as problems in and of themselves is playing straight into their hands.

Debt is just a tool. You can criticize poorly considered (ab)uses of the tool, without criticizing the tool itself and buying into the (R) rhetorical game. E.g., tax cuts for the wealthy aren't bad policy because they increase the debt -- lots of policies that are good can increase the debt -- no, they're bad policy because they're massively expensive, promote inequality, and don't even really help anyone.

The (R)s wield debt like a political bludgeon, but the rhetoric is all pure mythology. The truth is, debt itself doesn't matter much. The likeliest way to ruin our economy or bankrupt ourselves isn't through debt. It's by freaking out about debt and then auto-asphyxiating ourselves with austerity measures. As long as we don't succumb to that temptation, the debt itself is mostly harmless. (If anything, we should probably be spending a lot more than we do.)

It's not like attacking tax breaks or whatever in debt-based terms is going to get the Rs to show restraint, after all. They don't really believe any of it. All you'll accomplish is to give their precious debt-is-crippling-us message that much more traction and potency the next time (D)s are at the big desks and something progressive comes up. "See, even Prendle thinks the debt is bankrupting us. That's why we need to cut services and can't afford a new healthcare system."

The only winning move is not to play.

#30 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 05:09 PM:

Teresa: you have my deepest sympathy.

#31 ::: Doug K ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 07:17 PM:

as elizabeth says, I suspect this is just cozy apocalypse magical thinking. The same thinking on the left gave us Biden instead of Warren as the candidate - let's just Go Back to Normal. But there isn't a normal to go back to.

Lifting the social distancing restrictions won't get the economy back for many different reasons, including the supply chains that will continue to be disrupted by other countries behaving rationally. Then the two million dead will tank the economy even deeper, as well as destroy what little trust is left in government. Maybe that is the bold end plan, Trump is on record as gleefully welcoming catastrophe. Meantime his base entertains billionaire prepper endtimes fantasies, where the lights and water stay on somehow. Perhaps the invisible hand will take care of the sewers as well ?
Our problem is that US government worked so well so long that it became invisible. Now it's almost gone..

#32 ::: Prendle ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 08:47 PM:

> That's the deficit, not the national debt. They're two different things.

The deficit is added to the debt every year, correct?

> You're parroting right wing narrative in this very post. "Bankrupt the nation", "$some-big-number-T", etc. Those are all right wing talking points. Discussing debt and deficits as problems in and of themselves is playing straight into their hands.

I think that NOT discussing them is playing into their hands. They get to attack us on it while we borrow to fix their messes, then when they borrow trillions to pay off their friends, we are silent. And they've managed to convince the left that talking about it is helping them. God help us all if we don't stop using their rulebook.

#33 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 10:56 PM:

No, that isn't how it works at all. The national debt is the difference between what we pay for exports and what we pay for imports.
The deficit is the difference between income (from taxes, mostly) and outgo (spending).

#34 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 11:17 PM:

P J Evans @33

The deficit is the difference between government revenues (taxes, duties, fines, exises, etc) and government expendatures in a given year.

The national debt is the sum total of money borrowed to pay for expendatures. It is effectively the difference between total revenues (from 1789-present) and expendatures (from 1789-present), with a small rounding-error's amount of debt assumed from the previous government.

The trade deficit/surplus is the difference between our imports and exports.

Personally, I agree with Keynes: run surpluses in the good times, deficits in the bad. But if they won't listen to Keynes, they won't listen to me. They surprisingly won't listen to Adam Smith and Friedrich Hayek either, both of whom said that universal healthcare was an important enabler of making capitalism work right.

#35 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 11:44 PM:

I wish they'd stop listening to people who think starving poor people is a Good Idea. And for Ghu's sake, lose Laffer.

#36 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2020, 05:36 AM:

Teresa @15: I am very sorry about your mom.

#37 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2020, 06:05 AM:

"Obviously recessions and depressions cause untold suffering."

To follow up on Stefan Jones's comment (#14): The counterintuitive but apparently real thing is that people who have actually looked at recessions and depressions find that death rates go down, not up. (Yes, suicide rates do go up, but they're drowned out by the decrease in other death rates.) At least for the US and Britain and Canada and Germany, which is where I'm aware that people have looked.

A general overview:

Here's another study, not mentioned in the article, which looked at trends over the period 1920-1999 in the US (and references a study done for the German economy for the period 1980-2000):

"The 5 years with the worst recessions in terms of GDP contraction (between 23.6 and 213.3%) were 1930–32, 1938 and 1946. During these years mortality dropped between 1.6 and 6.8%. The largest drop in mortality between 1920 and the end of the century, 10.6%, was in 1921, a strong recession year during which GDP contracted 2.2%."

This doesn't mean recessions and depressions are good, and it doesn't mean we should welcome them; that would be grotesque. But the idea that (as one deeply confused friend in my Facebook feed put it) "tens of millions of people will die if the economy craters!" is not supported by any evidence.

#38 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2020, 08:51 AM:

Peter Erwin #37: I suspect a lot of that represents the effect of "not doing as much stuff". That is, workplace accidents will obviously go down with employment, but also people can't afford vacations, might not be socializing as much¹, probably drive less (auto accidents etc), and so on.

¹ In the current case any drop in infectious disease would probably be trumped by the actual epidemic, but a drop in fights might register.

#39 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2020, 08:58 AM:

Thinking about the apparent paradox of reduced mortality in years with economic slowdowns, and I keep coming back to "Saint Peter don't you call me, 'cause I can't go. I owe my soul to the company store." I hear this in Tennessee Ernie Ford's voice.

#40 ::: Stephen Granade ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2020, 09:07 AM:

I realy did not expect the right to say these quiet parts loud, but I should have. The whole theme of the Trumpian era is turning dogwhistles into out-and-out whistles.

@Teresa, I'm so sorry. I've got a family member in a similar situation, and others who are front-line medical personnel. I'm watching my area of the south US fail to take this seriously at all, and not even the Waffle House Index tanking is changing that.

I keep trying to find ways to light candles against this darkness, but I feel as if I'm running out of candles.

#41 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2020, 09:24 AM:

@Teresa, my profound sympathies.

#42 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2020, 09:53 AM:

While many people don't have savings, many do. I am retired, living on a pension, an annuity, and social security. The pension is invested in the stock market, and the annuity is to some extent as well. If the market tanks, I don't know what kind of income, if any, I'll have. And it looks like the current idiots may try to take away the third, which I have paid into my whole working life. Buying individual stocks is one thing, but many people are indirectly "in the market". This crash will affect all of them at the very least. No, I don't want *anyone* to die to keep stocks high, but too many people are assuming that only the rich will be affected by the crash.

#43 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2020, 10:02 AM:

Teresa, my sympathies as well. My parents are 70+ and 80+, but are in good health and hunkered down hard. (Admittedly, in Julie's case, social distancing represents little change from his normal routine, but Mom is the root of anxiety in the family, and she had us all prepping well in advance. ;-) ) My stepmother is off in Thailand, which is probably safer than the US just now.

And then my family noted that I'm a long-time smoker, and is conspiring to make sure I don't need to go into a store.... (Unfortunately, local deliveries are still kinda borked here.)

I'm most worried about my boss, who is only 70, but wheelchair-bound with MS. Shutting down the store has to be hard on him in itself, and he's a very social fellow.

#44 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2020, 10:20 AM:

Magenta Griffith @42, agree that a stock market crash will affect many people not normally counted among the rich. I realize that expecting to retire in a few years and having 401K and 403B retirement accounts is a position of relative privilege, but we weren't planning on buying any yachts with it. Just, y'know, food and clothing and medical care. There's a wide range between "Billionaire" and "Hungry if I miss a paycheck and homeless if I miss two."

To be absolutely clear, I don't want people to die to maintain the value of my retirement account. But even if you think the stock market index is the best or only measure of a economic success (which I do not) it seems short-sighted to focus on current value and not on positioning the US for a recovery by maximizing the number of people who will be willing and able to buy and invest when the situation improves. Rather than being, say, homeless, or without the small business they spent years building, or mired in debt, or traumatized by the unnecessary deaths of friends or relatives. Or dead. Not to mention that a single sharp shock seems better than continued slippage.

#45 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2020, 11:02 AM:

Wait, I already wrote the poem for this!

#46 ::: stefan jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2020, 11:06 AM:

Britt Hume and other conservative pundits have come down on the side of "grandma would be happy to die for a good economy," and a county in Texas has issued an executive order for businesses to stay open.


We're just hitting the "it's EVERYWHERE!" part of this pandemic. I suspect that next week's body count is going to terrify people into forgetting getting back to work in time for Easter.

#47 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2020, 09:30 PM:

Elizabeth Bear at #23:

"I suspect some of them are engaged in cozy apocalypse magical thinking where the protagonists all survive and build a new world in the ashes of the old."

I am in the middle of Friday, by Robert A. Heinlein, and that kind of describes the story in it.

So can we blame science fiction for the fact that people think this way?

#48 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2020, 09:49 PM:


#49 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2020, 11:44 PM:

This coronavirus will not even make a dent in the human population. Our current growth rate is about 1.05% per year. If SARS-CoV2 spreads to 50% of the population (unlikely) and has a death rate of 2$ (about in the middle of its fatality estimate ranges: I've heard 1$ to 3% of total cases, with no real knowledge of how many are asymptomatic, that number of people will be replaced in a year, and we're back where we started.

So the folks with malthusiasm (great term!) are not going to get anything out of this particular plague.

#50 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2020, 12:43 PM:

Tom: of course, 1-3% mortality and 50% infected is "no biggie, we might get our hair mussed" in Doctor Strangelove's vernacular, but it's about 40-100M dead on the ground in the real world.

And then the fun and games start if it turns out that immunity doesn't persist, and we're going to get a new COVID-19 season running the same cycle on an annual basis ...

#51 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2020, 01:06 PM:

> So can we blame science fiction for the fact that people think this way?

Alternatively, we could blame socialists for abandoning science fiction to the tender mercies of the ecofascists. This is a fun game. Let's keep playing it.

#52 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2020, 03:06 PM:

Totally agreed, Charlie @50 -- and I wanted to point out that we'd get a lot of the grief and none of the benefit that the disaster-sayers want, out of the current scenario. Which, perhaps, might give some of them pause.

#53 ::: Venus ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2020, 09:52 AM:

@50 Charlie, one of the few good pieces of news I saw recently was that current epidemiology studies are showing very low mutation rates for this virus, despite it hoofing all over the globe. They hope/predict that if they can get a vaccine working, it will hold. (I first saw the news on WaPo, but I've also seen it elsenet now.)

#54 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2020, 01:30 PM:

Patrick, thanks for the link to the Intelligencer article. Sarah Jones wrote:

America has hit an inflection point. It will emerge from this calamity a more generous nation, or it will become more atomized and more callous than it had been before. I don’t know which direction we’ll take.
For people who lived through the Depression, it went both ways. My two sets of grandparents went through the same hard times in the same area and learned completely different lessons. One set made it through because they and their friends and neighbors helped each other. They learned to be even more thrifty and kind and generous. The other set was better off but they felt deprived and that they never got all that they deserved. They learned that you had to look out for yourself, to take all you can and hold on to it.

#55 ::: Nix ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2020, 05:52 PM:

Venus@50, this virus (like its cousin which causes SARS) is most unusual in that its replication complex includes a proofreading complex made up of the proteins nsp14, nsp15 and nsp16, which reduces the error rate of the otherwise notably error-prone RNA polymerase which more or less all RNA viruses use. It's still error-prone compared to almost any non-virus, but it's about an order of magnitude less so. This may be essential to its survival, since it's got a damn big genome for a virus: make too many errors and it won't be able to spread at all. But it's also beneficial for us, making a vaccine...

#56 ::: Russell Letson ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2020, 06:26 PM:

And always the loud angry crowd,
Very angry and very loud,
Law is We,
And always the soft idiot softly Me.

(When I can't find some wisdom in Shakespeare, Auden is one of the next places I look.)

That Great Depression divide: Yah. My parents' blue-collar situation meant that our family is yellow-dog Democrat, and I knew the kids (grown old, like me) of better-off families with the complementary-opposite take on FDR, the New Deal, and all such socialist nonsense. Unto the Nth generation, eh?

#57 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2020, 07:59 PM:

TomB #54: For people who lived through the Depression, it went both ways.

It always does, for any sort of hardship. That's the basic choice of each human: Joining hands with the community to help and be helped alike... or looking first to their own (or at least their family's) welfare, defending their own resources against all comers. And under pressure, most people double down on their choice.

#58 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2020, 12:11 PM:

#21 Stefan
Scalise being shot, didn't cause him to reflect and moderate his opinions one iota..

#59 ::: Dwight Williams ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2020, 06:33 PM:

The right will fight to keep control of the narrative after this next US presidential election is done. Their willingness to fight for that control doesn't guarantee them any sort of victory this time, though.

That said?

Yeah, we've got ghoulish schools of thought to resist here. No arguments at all.

#60 ::: Barry ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2020, 03:56 PM:

In terms of the reopen, I believe that a lot of the elite right-wingers in the USA think that right now the trajectory is towards a Democratic blow-out in November (25%+ unemployment, 100K dead and more every day, a president who is visibly rotting on the stage).

They figure that for them reopening is not any bigger of a risk, and could benefit them in the long run by handing the Democrats a literal smoking ruin of a country.

#61 ::: Dwight Williams ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2020, 05:43 PM:

A disgusting, obscene idea for them to entertain: that they should go for scorched earth "since we're already going to lose bigger than we even feared".

#62 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2020, 10:05 PM:

#60-61: Ahem. Do you have any public statements by them to that effect? Because if not, I'd say that falls squarely under Hanlon's Razor.

It may also fall under the retort ("sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice"), but it certainly falls under the Razor itself.

#63 ::: Jane Yolen ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2020, 08:20 AM:

To put it simply--they ARE ghouls. Ghouls who think that death in a pandemic doesn't apply to them. Luckily, they are as stupid as they are ghoulish.


#64 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2020, 09:12 AM:

A few weeks before Illinois was locked down, I saw the writing on the wall, and considered what we might want or need in the event of a pandemic stay-at-home order. One of those things was entertainment. So I went to the used DVD store a few towns away to stock up on old movies. Another shopper kept getting into my face (as I backed away) to explain to me that the virus was a punishment from God on China for eating monkeys and bats (I kid you not; that's what he said) and that HE didn't need to worry about it because God would protect him. (And, presumably, because he ate hamburgers like God intended.) I told him (in my best reasonable tones) that in the entire history of the world, God has never stopped anyone from dying; even Jesus died. We're all going to die, sooner or later. And God helps those who help themselves; WASH YOUR HANDS. And then I walked away as quickly as possible, as he kept insisting that God would protect him. (I did NOT ask whether God would protect his parents or his children from the virus he brings home; that much prudence I still had.)

I'm not sure what came over me; normally I do the wise thing and ignore such people. But it made me so angry. And now I'm seeing those people on television gathering in crowds and infecting themselves and (more to the point) the innocents around them, and it makes me even angrier.

Why don't people understand that viruses don't care about your politics, or your religion, or how good a person you are?

#65 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2020, 12:22 PM:

A couple of weeks ago, as I was driving past a nearby church, I saw a procession of nuns moving across its front lawn. One was in the lead, "presenting" a statuette in the best "Turn Undead" manner, closely followed by a tight cluster of others. (Google informs me that the collective noun for nuns is a "superfluity". I don't know how reliable that is.)

I suppose that if they're cloistered, and already living in close proximity, it wouldn't put them at any additional risk. I was only slightly tempted to stop and try to explain to them that historically, God, Jesus, and Mary don't have a strong record of turning away plagues.

#66 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2020, 12:52 PM:

@64: One of my teenage special interests was the rise and fall of the Third Reich. The local public library had a whole shelf of huge fat books about it--Speers' memoir, an eponymous volume, etc. I read them all.

I remember that the authors and foreword-writers all seemed baffled by how it could have ever gotten that bad in Germany, of all places. One recounted what they characterized as a mere rumor that said more about the people who spread it than it did about the actual Nazis. The rumor ran that some minor functionary giving a speech in the boonies had bellowed, "We don't want a good result! We don't want a bad result! We don't want a so-so result! We want a National Socialist result!" This, the author said, proved that the average German thought Nazism was nonsense.

It's stuck in my head for all these years because it was such a surreal little anecdote. But now I think that the original incident actually happened, and that if the author had accepted it as factual they might have figured out some things.

All that matters is that they feel that they have exercised their power. Nothing else matters. Not even their own lives. The rush of power is better than heroin. The thrill of power is stronger than oxygen.

#67 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2020, 11:03 PM:

Jenny Islander: Especially if you're feeling desperate and powerless. (And especially especially if this is a feeling you don't dare consciously cop to.)

#68 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2020, 11:25 AM:

Jacque@67: Which takes us back to Low Dishonest Decade and “Being right wins you exactly nothing if you have no power.” These folks have decided to get power first, then figure out what to do with it. That's a pragmatic point of view, more potent than the reverse. Ganking another quote, “If you don’t choose your battles, your opponents will choose them for you.” Just so. They're winning the meta-battle, by default.

Dang. I figured I could work in “Revelations of misdeeds of the powerful induce only popular resignation if there is no viable counter-power to take advantage of the opening.” But that'd take harder work. It doesn't map easily to the situation.

#69 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2020, 02:14 PM:

@Cassy B @ 64: Why don't people understand that viruses don't care about your politics, or your religion, or how good a person you are? Science is a matter of knowledge; religion is a matter of belief. A lot of people who aren't outright snake handlers nonetheless believe that they will be either saved or Saved. AFAICT, the only short-term way to counter belief is to explode it (e.g., counter Bible literalists with the plain text showing two discrete creations, per Ken MacLeod); getting facts to seep through impervious belief is a slow process -- especially with someone who tells themselves "I believe, therefore I am good/real/..." and gets that reinforced on a regular basis.

This isn't a matter simply of believing in some higher power; there are all sorts of theists (including AFAIK the progenitor of this blog) who have a balance between faith and facts. But some people demand more flash with their belief; cf the parable of the flood, the two boats, and the helicopter.

#70 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2020, 04:20 PM:

#68 ::: John A Arkansawyer

That takes me back to The Cool War and Firestarter (and probably other stories) where the happy ending is that the evil that the bad guys are doing is made public.

But now what?

#71 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2020, 06:14 PM:

"These folks have decided to get power first, then figure out what to do with it."

They know exactly what they want to do with it.

When you're right, even if you don't have power, you might be able to get your way by persuading people to cooperate to their mutual benefit.

When you're wrong, when your agenda is not beneficial to society, persuasion is ineffective. In that case, your only viable options are deceit, cognitive fallacies, and coercion. To use them effectively requires power.

#72 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2020, 10:05 PM:

What they want is power without responsibility.

#73 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2020, 11:26 AM:

#72 ::: Cadbury Moose
"What they want is power without responsibility.

You're reminding me of _Rich Dad, Poor Dad_, a best-selling book of financial advice. Big best seller which spawned a bunch of sequels.

I don't usually feel so much moral revulsion, but it was explicitly about structuring investments (mostly real estate, I think) so as the get the profit while off-loading the risk on to other people.

I felt as though a country where this book is a best seller deserved whatever it got.... not that I was thinking about plague.

See also Michael Lewis' _Liar's Poker_ about aggressive and dishonest bond trading in the 80s-- he meant it as a cautionary tale, but what he got was people asking him how to get in on the money.

#74 ::: Buddha Buck sees even more spam ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2020, 02:08 PM:

Nancy @73:

What I got out of _Liar's Poker_ was why he got _out_ of on the money.

I read the book in the '90s, but it was very helpful in understanding the Great Recession. It details the creation of the mortgage bond market that took down the economy.

#75 ::: Buddha Buck does not see spam after all ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2020, 03:02 PM:

I picked a bad posting to click the "Don't make me type all this again".

#76 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2020, 07:51 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz@70: Firestarter is set, and was written, in a much more optimistic time, when popular pressure had ended an evil war and driven a crooked president from office. Exposing evil to a broad population could invoke popular power at that time.

Now we're in a very different place, where just exposing evil reinforces its inevitability because there is no source of power with which to oppose it. Dwelling on the power of evil and dreaming that evil is dumb and stupid both disempower those who would oppose it.

I mean, it's important to expose wrongdoing, but people have been exposing Trump for thirty years. Hasn't done much good, especially the last four, because those who expose him don't have power. If you don't have power--if you can't act--why should people listen to you?

#77 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2020, 01:18 PM:

continuing: I have no numbers about how widespread this issue is, but it's obvious that some people depend more heavily than others on being a member of the Right group in such a way that other groups are defined as being Wrong. Until recently, I had to deal with a pathological example of this in a local group, so my estimate may be biased -- but ISTM that the problem has been encouraged by a stratum that sees these dependents as a way to either money (e.g., ad revenues from shout radio) or direct power. I have no idea how to unwind this; I've seen statistics that even Trump's iron 40% support is starting to weaken -- such that some Senatorial *ss-kissers are thinking he'll cost them the two levers they now hold -- but no indication that they'll abandon an ethically-bankrupt strategy rather than reverting to dog whistles accompanied by sometimes putting their brains into gear before their mouths go into motion. If I thought I had any skill at persuasion, what I'm willing to the next generation would come with an apology for not spending it criss-crossing the country trying to lower the temperature and/or pry loose enough people to undercut the Cheetoh and the toadies to him and his certain successors; instead, there are times when (as John D. MacDonald put it) I stand here looking like Smokey the Bear watching all the forests in the world going up in flames.

#78 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2020, 06:11 PM:

Probably worth remember that it's usually only the Social Dominance Oriented who are primarily interested in accumulating power and using it to dominate everyone else. They are usually far outnumbered by the Right Wing Authoritarians whose main interests are displaying loyalty to their authority figures and retaining their favored group status. The latter are usually more like zombies than ghouls— as they are mainly occupied with cultivating a preemptive and protective stupidity in order to avoid thoughtcrime. The former are the ones more like ghouls, dependent on maintaining a steady supply of corpses on which to feed.

#79 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2020, 07:02 PM:

I think you may have just explained why the horror genre is in such ascendancy right now.

#80 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2020, 11:22 PM:

Has anyone else seen the message from George W. Bush? To say I am not a fan of Bush is to understate the matter; but aside from the religious component, I found this to be powerful and very well written. It was not what I expected. (Guesses requested as to who was the speech writer -- Karen suggests it's by one of their best writers, possibly Mark Helprin.)

#81 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2020, 02:45 AM:

Bush has always been good at presenting a high-minded vision, while simultaneously engaging in bare-knuckled politics. The video is beautifully uplifting but it also is a direct rebuke to the current president.

#82 ::: Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2020, 10:32 AM:

There's a good piece on how to reopen safely at

If you don't want to click through: It's a form of split session, which you may remember from your school days in the 70s.

We have a lucky break as far as calendar organization goes: on average, there's a 3-day delay between the time a person is infected by COVID-19 and the time that person can infect others, and they're infectious for about 10 days after.

SO: We split everyone, the students, teachers, workers, etc. into two teams of families-- we'll call them Purple and Orange Squadrons. (Ask your parents.)

Starting on Monday, June 1, Purple Squadron goes into work, the office, school, etc. for four 10-hour days. On Friday, June 5, Purple Squadron goes into a 10-day lockdown at home, doing what we've all been doing at home.

Meanwhile, starting on Monday, June 8, Orange Squadron goes into work, the office, school, etc. for four days, then on Friday, June 12, Purple Squadron goes into a 10-day lockdown at home.

On June 15, Purple Squadron starts again. And so on.

That should cut the reproduction rate of the virus down below 1 quickly, while minimizing spread in the wild, and getting the rest of the economy back at half strength. And it works with minimal testing, although the more you have available, the better.

The biggest hassle, as near as I can tell, is legal: making sure people still have workplace protections, insurance, etc. when working essentially part-time (or full time every other week.)

#83 ::: CHip asks for help from the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2020, 02:45 PM:

A comment is being held for unclear reasons; here are no URLs, and the most offensive word I can see looks like it should be common here. [makes a wave offering in a gnomic direction.]

#84 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2020, 02:11 AM:

Er, what happened to Making Light? And to Teresa, I hope things are going better with your mom.

#85 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2020, 02:52 AM:

All the people who used to post new articles have, for various reasons, stopped doing so. (There isn't even anyone cleaning up the spam anymore.) Without new content to spark discussion, critical mass of conversation was gradually lost. Things aren't completely dead, but mostly.

#86 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2020, 08:44 AM:

Idumea (I think) pops in occasionally to clear away the spam, but a lot of people have other problems at the moment and the covid-19 pandemic is not helping matters.

Some of the regulars descended on a Twitter thread recently, much to the confusion of an obnoxious infrapont (who flounced shortly thereafter).

Hopefully things will improve in the near future.

#87 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2020, 03:48 PM:

Might I ask which Twitter thread, so I can be amused by the goings-on?

(I've been following some threads elseweb, on medieval genealogy, where an annoying young poster is repeatedly asking others for their opinions, even after being told that the evidence isn't there to draw conclusions.)

#88 ::: Cadbury Moose crosses the streams ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2020, 05:08 PM:

P J Evans asked at #87

Might I ask which Twitter thread, so I can be amused by the goings-on?

Why certainly, it began on 19th July here and continued for a couple of days as Auntie Shepherd, T Kingfisher and a cast of tens weighed in. Unfortunately once the ML commentariat hijacked the discussion and Brett flounced he deleted all his tweets so the remaining thread is rather fragmentary and some entertaining bits have fallen off. Starting further down may be a better bet, try: this one and scroll up. 3:O)>

#89 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2020, 06:06 PM:

(I see the infraponts deleted their own posts. It means I get to imagine worse things than what they probably wrote.)
Now I gotta come up with a roadsona.

#90 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2020, 07:29 PM:

As noted, mine is paved with good intentions. I think the infraponts were completely unprepared for the way the discussion proceeded in an unfailingly polite tone and nobody even batted an eyelid at any insults they tossed out. Once you've fired off all your ammunition and the target is completely unscathed and actually smiling in your direction, retreat is the only available option (plus trying to pretend it never happened in the first place). I wish I'd archived the whole thing as it happened, it was a privilege to be able to assist. (Still not going past the "Tracked vehicles only beyond this point" sign, though.)

#91 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2020, 08:06 PM:

Cadbury Moose @88: ::spoiled by cry laughing emojis:: I remember the start of that thread. Proven yet again: UrsulaV Twitter is the best Twitter.

ML commentariat hijacked the discussion and Brett flounced he deleted all his tweets

I think they broke him. Went and looked at his account, and there's only two tweets since the roast. Bless evilrooster; she so gamely tries to get him to actually engage.

& @90: discussion proceeded in an unfailingly polite tone and nobody even batted an eyelid at any insults they tossed out.

Flourospherians can't help but make light, I guess. We've been trained well.

#92 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2020, 10:39 AM:

I wandered by Making Light on a whim, since it's been a long time that it's been largely dormant. Read through this thread. And (a deficit scold notwithstanding), it reminded me how marvelous the comment sections here are, or were. (Were simply because they're now so quiet.) I miss Making Light.

#93 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2020, 11:00 AM:

In other news, Jacque and I managed to find one another a few times at the recent Worldcon, which was very nice. But I did not see most of the rest of you, if you were "there." I never did get the hang of socializing, so there were probably some great parties somewhere on the Conzealand Discord I missed out on. Or maybe I suffer from chronic Fear Of Missing Something.

I did experience a rather large number of panels, though. With added bilocation, because they left an archive of recorded webinars up on their site for a week. Finally, one could thread backward in time, and attend panels one missed because one was a panelist on a different panel in the same timeslot!

(The recordings were only avaliable to members online for a limited time. But scholars and Torontonians can consult the permanent versions now held in the famous Merril Collection at the Toronto Public Library.)

#94 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2020, 01:42 PM:

Cadbury 88: Damn, I'm sorry I missed that. Especially because the sheep vs. goats conversation would have given me an opportunity to post this: Goats and Sheep. Sheep and Goats.

#95 ::: Impostor ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2020, 01:22 PM:

fnll rlzd tht CVD19 s nthng mr thn hx nd th dth nmbrs r fk (mtrccl crsh dths cntd s “crnvrs dths”).

Fr Fc.
Dfnd th xprts.
Trn th nvrsts nt csns... Trmp Csns tht s...

#96 ::: Xopher Halftongue sees spam under MY NAME damn them ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2020, 01:39 PM:


#97 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee is not amused ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2020, 02:29 PM:

Impostor, go jump in a lake. You defile Xopher's good name at your peril.

I am seriously annoyed.

#98 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2020, 02:46 PM:

Thank you, Ms. Arbacoochee.

Boffer bops to you, Imposter.

#99 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2020, 07:31 PM:

Several people I know, including my brother-in-law, have had Covid19. A co-worker's uncle just died from it last week. Fuck anyone calling it a hoax right in the ear.

#100 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2020, 09:52 PM:

The funny thing is, Trmp has already run nvrsts and csns, and he's run all of them into the ground (as in, bankrupted them, court settlements against them for fraudulent business practices, etc.). That's impressive for universities, most of which persist for centuries in financial good health, and absolutely amazing for casinos, where the saying is "the house always wins"!

#101 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2020, 04:37 AM:

@95 ::Sighs in nostalgia:: Ah, I haven't seen a good disemvoweling in ages!

In happier news, that was a lovely chat with Mr. Beam Jockey "at" Worldcon.

Hafta say, I'm a big fan of being able to do cons from my comfy chair at home. Still haven't figured out the random social connection side to online cons, though. :(

Meanwhile, for those that are interested, MileHiCon is this weekend (1 day left, as of this writing), and is also putting up their programming on YouTube. (I'm assuming those will be up indefinitely, but I haven't verified this.)

#102 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2020, 09:25 PM:

Defund the exports? Defend the experts?

#103 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2020, 12:20 AM:

I am writing this on November 3rd, in my time zone.

Don't forget the mail-in ballots.

#104 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2020, 11:53 AM:

Jenny -- Thank you. I've been trying to keep that in mind.

I'm agnostic. When it comes to miracles and the possibility of God's/gods' affecting the world, I lean towards the downstream effects of what's permitted by quantum uncertainties, combined with the "world of spirit / world of matter" dichotomy described in Lois Bujold's "Five Gods" stories. That is, that God / the gods are only able to act through the agency of a being of will, and is/are only able to give gifts of insight (unless we want to get to serious miracles). On the rare occasions that I pray, it's that people be given virtues such as wisdom and charity, stuff like that.

I've been praying.

#105 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2020, 03:21 PM:

Joel Polowin @ 104...interesting having company in this boat. I'm agnostic/atheist depending on what's happening in my world/the world when the question is asked of me. It would be easier if I had mind when I wish/hope/send good mojo, because I can't really call it prayer. Although I've seen prayer defined as "telling your deity of choice that you don't like the way things are and want them changed", which does kinda fit. Hanging out at the intersection of frustrated, angry and numb. ***sigh***

I gave in and ate the "oh you asked us to substitute another 4oz carton of ice cream but we ran out, here's a pint instead" pint last night. I think I'm going to wish I had a few more pints before this is over.

#106 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2020, 11:40 AM:

Regardless of who wins, what the numbers say about the mindset of so many Americans is heartbreaking. I'm so sorry, guys.

#107 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2020, 12:15 PM:

Pennsylvania has been called; Biden has won.

Modified rapture!

Now, will McConnell have the wrinkled old turtle balls to try to rein in Trump's calls to arms?

It seems to me that you guys are desperately in need of some truth-and-reconciliation -- of Republican leaders and media types standing up and taking responsibility for their actions and inactions. Otherwise, you're going to remain the social equivalent of a wildfire waiting to happen.

#108 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2020, 12:43 PM:

Whew! We have a President who lives in consensus reality.

Now let's bird-dog him relentlessly.

#109 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2020, 02:31 PM:

Is it very wrong of me to want the crowd in front of the White House to be chanting "Four less years! Four less years!"? Even the strict grammarian in me notes and accepts that the years are not being treated as atomic quantities.

#110 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2020, 12:20 PM:

Joel@109, if we had time travel, we could have had four fewer years of this horror. Meanwhile, even the grammar nazis are glad to be rid of real Nazis.

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