A Thursday Forum

FILED UNDER: Open Forum
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    From Iowa was reporting false COVID-19 information for months, until this nurse blew the whistle:

    Shouting into the void

    On May 30, Jones tweeted at the news site Iowa Starting Line, “@IAStartingLine did you know that the total daily cases you were reporting in March are now being reported by @IAPublicHealth as double that number now?”

    Meanwhile, Gov. Kim Reynolds was reopening the state using Iowa’s low positivity numbers as justification for lifting bans on gatherings of 10 or more people, bars, restaurants, water parks.

    Jones was telling anyone who would listen about the numbers shell game that the state was playing with COVID-19 tests, but she was shouting into a void.

    Reynolds was opening the state. Nothing would stop her, not even the truth.

    Others in the media had noticed the data problems, but were not getting their questions answered by IDPH or the governor’s office. Emails were going unreturned and calls unanswered. Working in journalism in small newspapers and TV stations in 2020 feels like trying to report from the deck of the Titanic — there is too much going on and your world is sinking. But reporters were asking for answers. Sara Konrad Baranowski, editor for the Times Citizen in Iowa Falls, was relentless in pushing for answers. Over the course of 20 days, she sent 10 emails (the governor’s office prefers emails and refers phone calls from the press to email), but the state didn’t reply.

    Meanwhile, Reynolds was touting the transparency of her administration and forcing schools in-person in the fall.

    So, Jones watched the cases back date for months. Finally, it was August, and Jones sent an email through the IDPH portal asking what was happening. She got a response. On Aug 14. Rob Ramaekers, the lead epidemiologist for the department’s Surveillance Unit, wrote back to Jones noting that they were aware of the problem and working to fix it. On Aug. 17, the Iowa news site Bleeding Heartland, the AP and the Times Citizen reported on the “glitch.”
    …………………………………
    And it wasn’t just the “glitch.” At a news conference on Aug. 27, Reynolds admitted that antigen tests, which are a different type of COVID-19 tests, were not being added to the positive case totals. The tests were added to the overall tests performed, but if they came back positive, were not added to the states positive totals. That’s changing, but the fact that for months Iowans were misled about the reality of the virus in the state, that’s a truth the state can’t shuffle around on an Excel sheet.

    On Aug. 28, the antigen tests were added to Iowa’s numbers and our infection rate shot off higher than an illegal firework in a Des Moines suburb. If Iowa were a country, we’d have the third highest rate of infection in the world.
    ……………………………
    Just three days after I spoke with Jones, Iowa became number one in the United States for COVID-19 cases per capita. And Reynolds moved to shut down bars in only six counties. But schools are opening in person and the reality is worse than we know.

    Pro-Life my ass.

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  2. Bill says:
  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    An Ig Nobel nominee: Whatever floats your boat? Scientists defy gravity with levitating liquid

    Scientists have turned the world upside down with a curious quirk of physics that allowed them to float toy boats the wrong way up beneath a levitating body of liquid.

    In a striking demonstration of the mind-bending effect, the boats seem to defy the laws of gravity as they bob about on the water above them with their sails pointing down.

    The bizarre phenomenon makes for a nifty trick, but researchers say the finding may have practical implications, from mineral processing to separating waste and pollutants from water and other liquids.

    “We were playing around,” said Emmanuel Fort, a researcher on the team that discovered the effect at the Higher School of Industrial Physics and Chemistry in Paris. “We had no idea it would work.”
    ……………………
    The researchers believe the work opens up new avenues for study, and suspect the effect might be useful for industrial processes, such as removing plastic particles from liquids. But for now, the scientists are simply enjoying the weird effect.

    “The fun thing is that it triggers reactions from people who aren’t scientific,” Fort said. “People say it’s like the scene in Pirates of the Caribbean when the boat floats upside down. It’s counterintuitive. It gets people talking about science fiction and fantasy and that is very nice.”

    ETA: video at the link.

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  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Luis Velarde
    @luivelarde

    ·
    Sep 1
    Reupping this video.
    A few days before Trump visited Kenosha, The Post toured the neighborhood where Jacob Blake was shot. There, we spoke to Anthony Kennedy, who for many years was the only Black city council member. This is how he views the district he oversees ––>

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  5. Bill says:
  6. Bill says:

    I have had nomorobo for my landline for 6 years. It is very good blocking annoying political calls around election day.

    Since Monday I have had five phone calls blocked from something labeled ‘Florida Dems’. They called three times yesterday. Of those five calls, they are coming from 4 different telephone numbers.

    It is two months to the election and these people want to bombard you with calls and WTF for? They are a major annoyance. Every time they call, my phone rings one time. It rang yesterday while I was taking my nap. Putting a block on the individual number is of little use because the Dems are using multiple numbers.

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  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Interesting: Can a mining corporation ever truly be a good neighbor?

    Twenty years ago, a group of cattle ranchers, sheep herders and community members in rural Montana came together and struck a rare agreement with a mining company: be liable for community-set environmental standards in exchange for unobstructed use of the land.

    But today, Sibanye-Stillwater, the owners of two mines in Stillwater county and Sweet Grass county, seeks to expand. The contract negotiated 20 years ago doesn’t account for that. A delicate relationship – and the state’s natural beauty – hangs in the balance. Can they continue to tame a corporation?

    The creators of the original document and new community advocates say they expect the mining company to hold up their end of the bargain and continue to negotiate future plans in good faith with the people who live and work there.

    Good neighbor agreements (GNAs) are legally binding contracts that are generally effective at holding corporations accountable for their environmental conduct – and while there are very few in place in the US, experts say they could be replicated in cities and towns across the country.

    The story is instructive about the documents’ strengths and weaknesses: in 1999, three grassroots organizations – the Northern Plains Resource Council (NPRC), the Cottonwood Resource Council, and the Stillwater Protective Association (SPA) – sued to halt the construction of a mine. Going to court was expensive and timely, and ultimately ineffectual. Council members wanted a creative way of remaining on the inside of mine operations without being beholden to the mine’s operators, so they asked for a good neighbor agreement. Negotiation with the mine’s owner took over a year, but the result is considered the “Cadillac” of GNAs, because the contract applies directly to the mines themselves, regardless of who owns them.
    ……………………………..
    Smoothing over that tension is what the GNA has been historically good at. The contract has created a taskforce and an oversight committee which address other water and soil concerns. Sibanye-Stillwater is also obligated to fund an environmental audit, fish-monitoring program and groundwater study – as well as pay for a mining and water quality engineer handpicked by the councils.

    Abiding by the GNA means following “water, soil, air and traffic provisions that are above and beyond what current state and federal laws require,” said Charles Sangmeister, an SPA member who also sits on the taskforce.
    …………………….
    This type of community organizing is a virtuous circle: the more the council members have actively participated in the mines’ operations, the more experience and knowledge they’ve gained, making them better advocates for their community. Over the years, volunteers have helped avoid possible water pollution catastrophes; because of their oversight, “there hasn’t been a bad spill, there hasn’t been a fish kill, there haven’t been issues,” said Baxter.

    And yet there are no guarantees that the council can meaningfully influence Sibanye-Stillwater’s plans for expansion. “It’s been tough. This has not been a happy little love story,” said Erickson.

    I know the *Nature Conservancy has similar arrangements with the neighboring properties of their holdings* but I had not heard of such arrangements with specific corporations.

    ** they will buy a particularly sensitive piece of land to protect a specific species or unique environment and then draw up agreements with their neighbors to help protect it and/or increase the size of their footprint.

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  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Bill: They all use multiple numbers now. And by “all” I don’t mean just political parties, but corporations and nonprofits too. Also, they like to use the local area code. I’ve been dealing with that shit for years, one notable culprit being police fraternal organizations looking for handouts.

    No, I’m not particularly kind to people who engage in this kind of BS, why do you ask?

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  9. MarkedMan says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: The safest bet in human history: Mine owners can never be trusted.

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  10. Bill says:

    @MarkedMan:

    The safest bet in human history: Mine owners can never be trusted.

    And that’s why whenever it is a mining episode, the Mine owner is always the murder victim on Perry Mason.

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  11. wr says:

    @Bill: “Putting a block on the individual number is of little use because the Dems are using multiple numbers.”

    Not to get all conspiratorial here, but odds are it ain’t the Dems at all. A constant barrage of calls claiming to be from the other side — and thus infuriating the recipient — is a fairly standard bit of political ratfuckery.

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  12. Bill says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    They all use multiple numbers now. And by “all” I don’t mean just political parties, but corporations and nonprofits too. Also, they like to use the local area code. I’ve been dealing with that shit for years, one notable culprit being police fraternal organizations looking for handouts.

    Ozark,

    I know but till recently the political callers down here weren’t always switching numbers.

    An interesting experience from about 7-9 years ago. The Florida GOP started making calls to FL residents. Their purpose- To make sure we all know how great Governor Rick Scott was.

    You know what I think about Rick Scott.

    Anyway I got sick of them and decided to do a google search. I discovered some Florida GOP leader who had been quoted on these calls. So what I do? His number was unlisted and I called him at 6 a.m in the morning. His wife answered. To make a long story short, the calls to me ceased.

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  13. mattbernius says:

    Once again, my adopted home of Rochester NY is in the news for not great reasons. Yesterday we learned that our local police were responsible for the death of a man during a mental health call back in March, details here:

    https://www.wxxinews.org/post/daniel-prude-was-suffocated-rochester-police-his-family-says

    I’m highlighting this because in the recent Andrew Sullivan comment thread, the topic of police reform came up and someone stated that they didn’t see how sending social workers would be the right answer in the case of Jacob Blake.

    Leaving that particular situation aside, I wanted to present this as exactly the sort of situation where sending mental health/social workers as the first line of intervention would most likely have kept a young man alive. Elijah McClain is another example to illustrate that point.

    Which gets back to the topic of “defund the police.” So long as the answer in mental health cases to send the police to sort it out, this is what will happen. And so long as folks are unwilling to pay more in municipal taxes, then defunding to refund other options is the only answer.

    I know people will say, “what about reforming the police” — what if, since we don’t want to pay more in taxes, shifted *more money* away from social services and provided more training for the police to deliver them. Perhaps this article about the 50-year history of trying to reform the Rochester Police force might show why history suggests that this isn’t the best option.

    https://www.rochestercitynewspaper.com/rochester/fifty-years-of-rochester-police-reform-yielded-few-returns/Content?oid=12192039

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  14. Kathy says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    @wr:

    These days there are “virtual numbers” as well, and everyone does it.

    I get calls from HSBC frequently. I must have blocked a dozen numbers easily, from the same area code. They keep calling.

    BTW, if I call the number displayed on the phone, I get a “user unavailable” error and no call ever goes through.

    Fortunately I’ve a superpower. I can hang up, interrupt, and not engage in conversation for every telemarketer call. Usually I just say “Thank you. I’m not interested. Please don’t ever call again. I’m hanging up now.”

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  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: If you read the article you will notice that nothing is left to trust of the mining company. The company could of course attempt to with hold information but I suspect that would be in breach of the “legally binding contract” (not having actually read the document I can not say for certain).

    The article does state that, “In this case, the councils gave up the right to sue the company extracting platinum and palladium ore from the two mines covered under the contract.” so I wonder what kind of enforcement mechanism is in the contract and how it is structured. I would assume it’s arbitration but who picks the arbitrator?

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  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Bill: To make a long story short, the calls to me ceased.

    HA! Good on you.

    @Kathy: You are a far kinder person than I.

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  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @mattbernius: “what about reforming the police”

    We have been “reforming the police” for decades and yet here we remain.

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  18. Bill says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    We have been “reforming the police” for decades and yet here we remain.

    Yes, it is almost exactly 50 years since this was formed.

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  19. MarkedMan says:

    @wr:

    but odds are it ain’t the Dems at all. A constant barrage of calls claiming to be from the other side — and thus infuriating the recipient — is a fairly standard bit of political ratfuckery.

    True, but I’m even more cynical than you. If you get an “Americans for Biden” call, or a “Patriots for Trump” one, I think the odds are very good that it’s just scam artists putting their hands in your pocket. It would be interesting to find out how many of these “committees” tie back to the same shysters, regardless of who the purported candidate is.

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  20. Kathy says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Only sometimes.

    I realized early on, c.late 90s, that it’s a mistake trying to get the telemarketer to end the call. their scripts don’t have that option before they’ve sold whatever they’re pushing.

    Still, if they catch me at an importune time, or in a bad mood, I can do worse.

    What really bugs me is they often don’t say where they’re calling from. HSBC asks whether it’s me, then they begin to describe a credit card, or ask whether I’d like to enjoy XYZ “free” benefits. Other banks begin by asking how I am. So I always ask first “Where are you calling from?” Then I hang up.

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  21. Teve says:

    I have a distant elderly relative who canceled her landline sometime in the last year, and she said she was just getting 25 to 30 spam calls a day so there was no point in having it. It turns out, years ago before her husband passed, he was a Republican voter who signed up for a bunch of tea party newsletters etc. The tea party groups apparently sold off his name to every grifter who came along.

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  22. Mu Yixiao says:

    I have two phone numbers. The one associated with my mobile phone, and one from Google Voice. I give my Google number to people I want to talk to. When a call comes in through there, it shows “Google Voice” as the caller, so I answer it. If a call comes in on my “real” number and I don’t know it, I generally don’t answer. If I do answer, I do so in Chinese. 😀 If they don’t pause and “uummm… is this…”, I know it’s a spammer.

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  23. Kathy says:

    On aviation news, Saudi Arabia has reportedly announced all flights to and from the Unite Arab Emirates can use Saudi airspace.

    I await confirmation, but this site tends to be reputable.

    This would mean, broadly interpreted, that El Al could operate regular flights from Tel Aviv to the UAE, using a direct route through Saudi Arabia. But not that it can use Saudi air space, as noted in the piece, for flights to India.

    I’m not sure if support for the Palestinians is falling among the Gulf monarchies, or whether fear of Iran is rising.

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  24. Slugger says:

    Yesterday I got a call that displayed my actual name and phone number! How do they do that? I don’t answer calls unless I recognize the caller, and I was in a quandary when the caller was me. I didn’t answer it. I hope it wasn’t a future me calling with an important warning.

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  25. Mister Bluster says:

    From late last night in whatever time zone OTB uses:

    Kathy says:
    Wednesday, September 2, 2020 at 23:02
    @Mister Bluster:
    Not a fan of The Big Bang Theory?

    My TV at home does not get any channels. It has been that way since the transition to digital broadcast in 2009. I use it for DVDs. I have never seen an episode of “…BANG…”. The only thing I know about it is that one of the actors had a role on the original Roseanne. I used to watch that show all the time.
    As for the origin of the universe, I flunked the second semester of my High School Physics class Senior year (class of 1966). I really thought that I would not graduate but somehow I was presented a diploma along with everyone else.
    The most memorable part of that exercise was after the last parchment was issued all 500 of us marched out of the gymnasium singing this tune. Eric Burdon would have been proud!

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  26. Kathy says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    I have never seen an episode of “…BANG…”.

    Spoiler alert: Sheldon Cooper has a fetish for flags.

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  27. wr says:

    @Kathy: “Fortunately I’ve a superpower. I can hang up, interrupt, and not engage in conversation for every telemarketer call.”

    I’ve got one of my own — my phone tells me if a caller is likely to be spam. Oh, and when I’m not expecting a call from a food delivery guy to tell my my lunch is with the doorman, I set my phone not to ring for unknown numbers…

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  28. Joe says:

    I got a call that displayed my actual name and phone number!

    Slugger, this is a form of “spoofing” and a pretty lazy one, but I can one-up you. Some years ago, a customer of one of my small phone companies had a call come up on her cell phone from her recently deceased husband. It was, of course, some marketer spoofing a number adjacent to hers, but it was also a little devastating for the customer.

    I finally cancelled my land line years ago when I moved my father out of assisted living (where he had his old phone number) into skilled nursing. Somehow, forwarding his mail to my address resulted in my phone number being substituted for his. Since my kids and I each had cell phones, I got almost no other calls to my wireline number other than solicitors trying to reach my dad for political donations. That was it. Wireline gone!

    My cellphone is set not ring for any number not in my (fairly extensive) contact cards. It can be a little frustrating when I find a message from one of the seemingly dozens of numbers my doctor’s clinic or dentist’s office use for appointment reminders, but usually real callers leave a voicemail.

    I am aware that phone companies are working on a system to identify and block spoofed calls, but it is not simple technically or from a regulatory aspect. But I have noticed that I will find missed calls (cause my phone didn’t ring) labeled by my phone provider as “possible spam.” I assume they are all actual spam.

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  29. Mister Bluster says:

    I can go for days and not have the phone ring.
    The only time I answer my phone is if I know for certain who it is. Even then I usually let it ring out and see if the caller leaves a voice mail.
    Of the few calls I get very few leave a voice mail and most of those voice mails are incomplete or totally silent.
    I have even posted my # on a friends FB timeline so they would text me. I thought that would somehow increase traffic to my cell. Crickets.
    If anyone needs me to get back to them they know to text.
    I think I have gotten one or two political campaign texts this season.

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  30. Sleeping Dog says:

    It appears that the owners of the franchise and the Washington Examiner, have resurrected the Weekly Standard banner. https://www.weeklystandard.com/

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  31. CSK says:

    @Mister Bluster:
    I went to high school with Jay Leno. He and a few other guys broke into the P.A. system and played that record during lunch one day. The cafeteria ladies starting singing and dancing along with it. We all did.

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  32. Kathy says:

    @wr:

    I’ve got one of my own — my phone tells me if a caller is likely to be spam.

    Mine too. but the company I work for is hands out hundreds of cell phones to its personnel, and only a fraction of those numbers are on my contacts list. also some calls flagged as spam turn out to be from a bank where I have an account or a credit card. Sometimes they call for legitimate reasons, like last year they asked me about a charge just made, which wasn’t made by me. They took it down, cancelled my card, and issued a new one with a different number.

    And so…

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  33. inhumans99 says:

    For a bit of time it went away but the scam calls that show Apple Support on your phone ID are back. It was either yesterday or Saturday (I forget which) in which I received two calls that I did not even pick up and just blocked (for now, that seems to have done the trick).

    Having used Apple Care recently when I accidentally locked the new owner out of using an iPad Pro I sold him earlier this year I know how Apple Tech Support works and for what it is worth the tech person was awesome and the new iPad owner had a good laugh over my goof when he was able to get back into the iPad.

    The things is, at first glance the calls from Apple Support look legit but they are beyond scammy.

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  34. Northerner says:

    @Bill:

    She was just trying to show there are idiots on every side of every issue. Always have been, always will be. With the Internet its just become a lot easier to track, because people take note of idiots on the other side and pass the info around.

    More seriously, what kind of person hits a twelve year old over a political sign? I doubt many people of either party would condone her — in fact, I suspect progressives would be as likely to condemn her as conservatives.

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  35. Teve says:

    Seen on the Internet

    Do you identify as a Christian but like to conveniently ignore virtually every teaching of Jesus?

    Ask your doctor if the republican party is right for you.

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  36. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: I really dislike the ones who act like I am a long lost buddy. Fooled me with that schtick once and ever since as soon as I hear the bull it’s ,”Fuck you.” and hang up.

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  37. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @Kathy:
    Another technique I’ve found useful:
    “The person you are calling died last week, are you calling about funeral arrangements?”

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  38. Monala says:

    The US topped 6 million Covid cases in the last week, and 190,000 deaths in the last day.

    I keep hearing on the right (among those who don’t deny it altogether) that the only thing that matters is the death rate, to which we compare favorably to Europe. The issue with that is:

    1) places hit early on (such as Europe and NY/NJ) have the highest death rates because they were hit before doctors knew anything about the disease or how to best treat it. More patients are surviving now because doctors know more about how to help patients survive.

    2) Nevertheless, the Americas are fast catching up to and surpassing Europe. Several Western Hemisphere nations (Peru, Chile, Brazil, USA, Mexico, Panama) have already or will soon surpass the death rates of some of the worst-hit European nations (Spain, the UK, Italy, Sweden, France). The only European nations still topping the death rate list will be Belgium and two micro-states (San Marino and Andorra).

    3) Something I think the media needs to emphasize loudly and often: death or complete recovery are not the only outcomes. Many Covid patients, even those who had mild symptoms, are left with lasting and debilitating side effects. Examples:

    – 30-35 percent of COVID-19-positive Big Ten athletes had myocarditis (inflammation of the heart)

    – One study found that 60% of German patients had heart complications post-Covid, “independent of underlying conditions, disease severity, overall course of illness, and time from diagnosis.”

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  39. Kylopod says:

    @Slugger:

    Yesterday I got a call that displayed my actual name and phone number!

    I think that has happened to me–though much more often it isn’t quite that number, but a similar one. If I answer it there often is an alarming message about my car insurance, despite the fact that I have never owned a car.

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  40. MarkedMan says:

    @Joe: I think it has been literally years since my mobile has been set to audibly ring. And unless it comes up with a name in my contact list that I immediately recognize it goes to voicemail. This has worked pretty well for me but I found a couple of days ago that I was getting robocalls that left voice mail and an actual friend’s message had got lost in the shuffle. I’m starting to get pissed.

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  41. Kathy says:

    @Monala:

    1) places hit early on (such as Europe and NY/NJ) have the highest death rates because they were hit before doctors knew anything about the disease or how to best treat it.

    Yes, but also the scarcity of testing early on may mean fewer cases were recorded.

    Take Mexico. Officially there are 610,000 total cases and 65,800 deaths, for a mortality rate of 10.77%, which is insanely high. Tests number well under 1.5 million, which makes for an insanely high positivity rate.

    This is so unlike most of the rest of the world’s data, that either something extraordinarily different is going on, or the lack of test means there are many more cases, largely mild or asymptomatic.

    Tests are almost entirely diagnostic. That is, given almost solely to sick people suspected fo having COVID-19. Naturally the positive rate is sky-high, as is the death rate.

    I don’t know if the test number accounts for privately done tests not part of the public health sector. Our company has had a lab do a number of tests. When my mom had surgery lat month, she had to take a COVID-19 test before being admitted, as did all patients at that hospital.

    My guesstimate is for about 4 times as many cases as the official count, or around 2.4 million. The death rate might be much closer to reality, as those sick enough to die are more certain to be tested. If I’m anywhere close to right, then the mortality rate i around 2.7%. High, but within the bounds of plausibility.

    I’m not suggesting the discrepancy in the NY/NJ region was that bad early on, but some cases were surely missed.

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  42. Teve says:

    @MarkedMan: phone, mail, email, voicemail, SMS, we invent an amazing technology and then let assholes ruin it.

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  43. Kylopod says:

    @Kathy:

    The death rate might be much closer to reality, as those sick enough to die are more certain to be tested.

    Estimates from excess mortality indicate the death rate is larger than the official numbers.

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  44. Kathy says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    I had a call like that once, but it was phishing rather than telemarketing.

    I’ve only a few friends, and no long-lost ones. Oh, plenty of people i knew long ago, none of whom I’d ever let back into my life. So that failed very quickly.

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  45. Kathy says:

    @Kylopod:

    I’m sure the death totals as reported in the official accounts are no accurate. There’s the lack of testing again and people dying at home, not to mention the solemn media reports until around late April of deaths by “atypical pneumonia.” But I think it’s closer to the real number than the official total case number.

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  46. Teve says:
  47. DrDaveT says:

    We just received a truly horrifying document in the mail. It’s from the “National Republican Congressional Committee”. It purports to be a survey, but it’s actually a piece of gaslighting propaganda, with the lies disguised as questions. “The answers you provide on this 2020 Critical National Issues Survey will directly influence our efforts to end Liberal Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s reign in the U.S. House…”

    Here are some examples of the “questions”:

    2.2 Do you support Republican efforts in the House to cut spending, balance the budget, and reduce the national debt?
    [You have to admit that it takes chutzpah to still claim that Republicans care about the debt.]

    2.3 Do you support a new trade deal, which would force Communist China to lift tariffs on American made goods and services?
    [Um, if it’s a deal, then it doesn’t force anyone to do anything, because both sides agreed. You might as well ask “Would you support a treaty making economic concessions to Communist China in exchange for reduced tariffs on American goods and services?” It’s the same thing.]

    4.1 Do you think we should stop the Socialist “Green New Deal,” which will ban airline travel, forbid air conditioning, and force people to walk to work?
    [I hear it will also outlaw peanut butter and jelly, and require working-class Americans to feed their children to Jews.]

    4.2 Do you support the Socialist “Medicare for All” scam that will cost over $3.3 trillion per year and make it illegal to have private health insurance?
    […yadda yadda…]

    5.1 Do you oppose Nancy Pelosi’s plan to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)?”

    6.2 Do you oppose the Democrat-supported “Born Alive Abortions” legislation, that would make infanticide legal in America?

    …you get the idea.

    The last page, of course, is Please Send Money. As a final zinger, you can either check the box that says “Yes, I wish to donate” or the box that says “No, I do not wish to participate at this time, but I’m returning the Official Survey Document with a contribution of $17 to the NRCC Legal Fund to help defray the costs of tabulating my survey.” And then they nag at you to please return the survey IN THE NEXT 30 DAYS.

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  48. Kylopod says:

    @DrDaveT:

    It purports to be a survey, but it’s actually a piece of gaslighting propaganda, with the lies disguised as questions.

    That’s what’s known as a push poll, which was (in)famously used against John McCain in the 2000 SC primary to spread rumors that he’d fathered an illegitimate black child.

    I once received a phone call that turned out to be one of these. It was for some local election, and even though I figured out pretty quickly what was going on, it failed to resonate because I was simply not tuned into this particular race.

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  49. Kathy says:

    @DrDaveT:

    I’d answer it all the “wrong” way, and add a note that I cannot donate any money because I’m unemployed in the greatest economy EVER! and would they please tell Mr. Trump to send me money to cover my rent.

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  50. Kylopod says:

    @Kathy: Tying into our earlier discussion about phone scams, there’s this thing on Youtube of people who get one of those fake-IRS calls and instead of just hanging up, they play along. Sam Seder did a whole segment with this a while back:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kU6i_HEKJgg

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  51. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Sleeping Dog: What’s up with all the articles there telling how long of a read the particular article will be? A new version of “Short Attention Span Theater?”

    ETA: And when did Gregg Easterbrook become a sports reporter?

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  52. Bill says:

    @Kylopod:

    Tying into our earlier discussion about phone scams, there’s this thing on Youtube of people who get one of those fake-IRS calls and instead of just hanging up, they play along. Sam Seder did a whole segment with this a while back:

    I’ve watched a few of videos at youtube where someone has fun with the ‘Indian IRS*’. They were quite funny.

    Six or 7 years ago dear wife and I got a series of calls. I had heard of these hoax calls so I wasn’t going to be fooled but the first two calls weren’t very smart. It’s 9-930 Florida morning time and they are spoofing a California number. IRS wouldn’t even have an open office at that time and CA IRS facilities have nothing to do with individual Florida filers.

    The first call I told to get lost but I then decided to have some fun by calling them back and telling the scammer that somebody was going to come to his office and cut his penis and nuts off and then stuff them down his throat while filming the whole thing for the purpose of posting it to you tube so his family could see it. The scammer muttered something then hung up.

    One day later, he is on the phone again. I reply “It’s you again.” He hung up at once.

    We got one more call. They left a almost totally ignorant and threatening message** on our answering machine. That was the last call.

    *- One IRS scam operation at least was traced back to India and shut down.
    **- The threats were we were going to be visited by an IRS agent with a warrant and arrested if I didn’t pay the money they were demanding.

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  53. BILL says:

    Like a said sometime a few weeks back, never bundle all your phone services with one provider. Our Xfinity/Comcast service was down for 3 hours this afternoon. I was expecting an important phone call too. On top of this one of our boxes isn’t working and I’m paying for three of them. It has been out for four days and I will only be getting a replacement box tomorrow. This after having to spend over 2 hours/two calls combined on the phone with Xfinity.

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  54. Kylopod says:

    @Bill: Although these scams are almost always incredibly transparent, I did start to get nervous about them after I had an actual IRS-related scare. One year I received a letter telling me I was being charged thousands of extra dollars in taxes. It turned out that because I had been involved in calling tech support for a student-card machine in the store where I worked, somehow my name got attached to forms suggesting I (and not the store) would be receiving the revenue for any transactions made through this machine. While I didn’t actually receive any of that revenue, I did get charged with the taxes.

    Here’s the thing, though. It came in the form of a letter rather than a phone call. There was no threat of arrests, or really any implication that the matter was urgent. And I was able to get the whole thing resolved in a matter of hours. It was just a simple mix-up.

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  55. Kathy says:

    @Kylopod:

    There was a spate of scam calls about having won a sweepstakes sponsored by a bank or credit card company (based on a short-lived public-private partnership program to stimulate people to use bank services).

    Some people fell for them, including people I know. Given the news media reporte don them all the time, and people talked about these scams frequently, how the hell could anyone still fall for it? Turns out if asked whether it was a scam, they said no, and that you could check the permission issued by the Department of the Interior, and gave a document number.

    So my question remains.

    I got a few such calls and just hung up or briefly stated I was not interested in being scammed. But I heard a radio show once, before I switched to listening to audiobooks while driving, where the host played along.

    The production values of the scammers were very good. The person doing the scam was enthusiastic in describing the various prices, and didn’t sound as though he was reading a half-baked script. They gave make, models, sizes (there were tons of prizes, including TVs, cars, trips, etc.), made humorous suggestions on how to use them, asked what shows the marks would watch on the new TV, etc.

    Even when the host let on he was smart to the scam, the scammer simply said, with much feigned sincerity, how bad he felt for the mark to pass on such amazing treasure trove due to misplaced mistrust, but he wasn’t going to argue with him, and if he changed his mind he gave him a number to call.

    Quite impressive, really.

    Oh, the scam required the mark to buy a number of prepaid phone cards, then call a number to read the cards’ numbers. I suppose then they used those credits for something, or maybe sold them to inmates in prisons (where they were quite popular). One reason the scam ended, perhaps, is that the prepaid phone cards disappeared and were replaced by direct deposit to your cell phone number account in convenience stores, supermarkets, ATMs, etc.

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  56. Jax says:

    Y’all better belly up to the OTB bar with me today, this round’s on me because I’M DONE HAYING!!! Three weeks early, and there’s enough that we won’t have to sell cows OR buy hay! (Cool sunglasses emoji, because that one never works for me here) 😉

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  57. Teve says:

    Taco Bell just announced they’re canceling the Mexican pizza because 2020 doesn’t suck bad enough yet.

    At the rate of awfulness 2020 is hitting, Trump will probably be reelected.

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  58. CSK says:

    @Teve:
    I just spent the afternoon with someone who’s predicting the exact same thing.

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  59. Moosebreath says:

    Meanwhile, Jeffrey Goldberg at The Atlantic is reporting that Trump decided not to attend ceremonies in 2018 for WWI dead because the soldiers who died were losers and suckers:

    “In a conversation with senior staff members on the morning of the scheduled visit, Trump said, “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.” In a separate conversation on the same trip, Trump referred to the more than 1,800 marines who lost their lives at Belleau Wood as “suckers” for getting killed.”

    There remains no bottom.

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  60. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Jax:

    Congrats! I grew up on a grain and hog farm, but I would help neighbors bail and stack for most of my youth.

    I strangely miss it. Not enough to help when I visit, but still, I miss it.

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  61. Mikey says:

    @Moosebreath:

    “In a conversation with senior staff members on the morning of the scheduled visit, Trump said, “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.” In a separate conversation on the same trip, Trump referred to the more than 1,800 marines who lost their lives at Belleau Wood as “suckers” for getting killed.”

    Every day, I wake up and think there’s no way I could hate that motherfucker any more.

    And every day, that motherfucker proves me wrong.

    He actually stood before the graves at Arlington National Cemetery and asked, “What was in it for them?”

    It’s the inability to understand the meaning of sacrifice, of service to a larger cause than oneself, that reveals so much.

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  62. Teve says:

    @Moosebreath: Surely this will destroy Trump’s campaign.

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  63. Teve says:

    Politics Jeopardy!

    A: “Jeffrey Goldberg at The Atlantic reporting that Trump decided not to attend ceremonies in 2018 for WWI dead because the soldiers who died were losers and suckers”
    Q: “What is a lie by the liberal media elite trying to bring Trump down, Alex”

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  64. Mikey says:

    Hey, blog owners: I thought I should let you know I’m seeing “click to edit” and “request deletion” links on other commenters’ comments.

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  65. Monala says:

    Today in amusing Twitter threads: whoever manages the Walgreens Twitter account is loving the “Algreens” memes. They retweeted Al Green’s image from yesterday, with the words: “We were just tired of being alone.”

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  66. CSK says:

    @Mikey:
    Same here.

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  67. @Mikey: Thx. I have passed along the info to James.

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  68. Mister Bluster says:

    @Mikey: @CSK:...“click to edit” and “request deletion”

    I noticed this many weeks ago and mentioned it in a post.
    I’ve seen it a few times since then.

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  69. Jax says:

    @Neil Hudelson: Thanks! I’m pretty stoked, it’s been a miserable couple of weeks. 2,135,492 pounds of hay, all neatly wrapped up in bales, and trying to keep all the associated equipment running while putting it up. I have so much hydraulic oil and grease under my fingernails, it’ll be Christmas before the stains wear off.

    As to the “click to edit”, “request deletion”, that’s been going on since even before they switched to the new server, I think. It’s generally at the most recent comments, but I, myself, have never been able to get the buttons to do anything on someone else’s comment. Not sure if that helps OTB’s IT guy or not.

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  70. steve says:

    Never minded baling hay, just hard work. Baling straw I really hated. Felt like I was breathing the stuff.

    Steve

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  71. CSK says:

    @Mikey:
    There is no end to Trump’s vulgarity, coarseness, and ignorance. None.

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  72. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Jax:

    Congrats!

    I’m seeing a lot of the farms around here cutting their 2nd crop of hay, and the corn harvest is in full swing (for sweet corn, field corn is a long way off). Fortunately, we’ve had a pretty good year. Last year was soggy, and that caused a lot of problems. This year we’ve had a good rain (good amounts spread out) and the ground’s wet to at least 6-feet down (I know this because it’s coming up through the floor of my basement 🙁 ).

    There’s nothing better than seeing an empty field and a full barn, is there?

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