Friday’s Forum

Working on mysteries without any clues.

James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Just 7.3% of Stockholm’s inhabitants had developed Covid-19 antibodies by the end of April, according to a study, raising concerns that the country’s light-touch approach to the coronavirus may not be helping it build up broad immunity.

    The research by Sweden’s public health agency comes as Finland warned it would be risky to welcome Swedish tourists after figures suggested the country’s death rate per capita was the highest in Europe over the seven days to 19 May.

    Sweden’s state epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, said the antibodies figure was “a bit lower than we’d thought”, but added that it reflected the situation some weeks ago and he believed that by now “a little more than 20%” of the capital’s population had probably contracted the virus.

    However, the public health agency had previously said it expected about 25% to have been infected by 1 May and Tom Britton, a maths professor who helped develop its forecasting model, said the figure from the study was surprising.

    “It means either the calculations made by the agency and myself are quite wrong, which is possible, but if that’s the case it’s surprising they are so wrong,” he told the newspaper Dagens Nyheter. “Or more people have been infected than developed antibodies.”

    Björn Olsen, a professor of infectious medicine at Uppsala University, said herd immunity was a “dangerous and unrealistic” approach. “I think herd immunity is a long way off, if we ever reach it,” he told Reuters after the release of the antibody findings.
    In April, officials estimated one third of Stockholm residents would have contracted Covid-19 by early May, subsequently suggesting that the capital could reach herd immunity of between 40% and 60% by the middle of June.

  2. James Joyner says:

    Doug update: I’m reliably informed he’s alive and well, continuing to sort out some personal matters.

  3. Kit says:

    Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band

  4. Kathy says:

    More bad news for the Airbus A380, now Etihad, the oher long haul Emirati airline, is thinking about scrapping their entire A380 fleet. And in a further blow to Airbus, it wants to cancel all its orders for the newer, smaller, A350.

    The last says more about Etihad’s financial condition, which has been troubled for some time.

    If the A380 was a flop of sorts, the A350 is a home run, having racked up over 900 orders with over 250 deliveries by now. It’s similar to Boeing’s 787, the most advanced design, lower altitude pressurization, but larger.

  5. Scott says:

    What could go wrong?

    More than one company could get cash to build the Air Force’s AI-equipped Skyborg drone

    The U.S. Air Force has kicked off a competition for one of its most highly anticipated tech programs, a drone known as Skyborg that will use artificial intelligence to make decisions in battle.

    The Air Force envisions Skyborg as a family of drones — each designed for a specific mission or set of missions — with modular hardware and software payloads and a common AI backbone, which will allow software to be rapidly updated across the fleet.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    From ProPublica: States Are Reopening: See How Coronavirus Cases Rise or Fall

    Short, sweet, and simple pictures of how things progressed/regressed over the previous 2 weeks in any one state.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Joyner: Thanx James. I hope he knows he is missed.

  8. Bill says:
  9. Bill says:
  10. Bill says:

    @Scott: More than one company could get cash to build the Air Force’s AI-equipped Skyborg drone

    A combination of The Terminator and Star Trek. We’re all doomed.

  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Scott: Let me guess: Cyberdyne Systems is one of the companies picked to develop this.

  12. MarkedMan says:

    So James, trying to lose those awkward teenage blues?

  13. MarkedMan says:

    @Bill: Just a guess, but I suspect he was caught in a lie to investigators. The way it was originally reported he was a friend of the father and son and was with them. Since lawyering up the story seems to have changed. He’s now claiming to be an innocent bystander who happened to come out to film. I don’t actually recall any quotes from him in the beginning so it might have been a misunderstanding on reporters part. But if investigators believed his story now, I don’t see grounds for arrest.

  14. MarkedMan says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I’d say this is useful for serious states, but Since the data is reported by the states themselves, it’s probably meaningless for Trump states. I’ll be watching for reports of hospital bed shortages.

  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: My guess would be they got the cell phone records.

  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: I just watch the trend lines. The MO data on a day to day basis is a mess, but I suspect that is a matter of messy data collection or bad reporting of it (it is not uncommon for them to report the total number of tests for 1 or 2 days in a row as only the positive tests, on the 3rd or 4th day there is a BIG spike in the number of tests reported). Doing a 5 or 7 day averaging is the only way to approach it.

    FL and GA appear to be actively screwing with their numbers. I have seen nothing to indicate MO is. Yet.

  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Unusually active hurricane season could threaten US effort to fight Covid-19

    As the US continues to be pummeled by the coronavirus pandemic, a fresh looming threat is set to complicate efforts to contain the outbreak – an unusually fierce hurricane season.

    The official season for Atlantic hurricanes doesn’t start until 1 June, but for the sixth year in a row there’s been a named storm occur before this date, with tropical storm Arthur brushing the Outer Banks of North Carolina on Monday.

    Arthur is set to be just the opening salvo in an active period of hurricanes, according to forecasters, with Penn State’s Earth System Science Center estimating there will be between 13 and 24 named storms – a category reached when the National Hurricane Center deems a storm to have wind speeds of at least 39mph.

    Penn State researchers’ best guess is there will be 20 named storms, eight more than the 30-year average, which would make 2020 one of the most active years for hurricanes on record. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) will release its own projection on Thursday.
    The normal strategy of cramming displaced people into temporary shelters to escape flooding risks spurring a fresh wave of infections, forcing authorities to tear up their standard hurricane plans.

    “In our first meeting about this, we were like, ‘Oh my God, we will have to have shelters with Covid,’” said Steven Davis, president of All Hands Consulting, a disaster preparation firm. “This year is different because you can’t put a bunch of people in an elementary school with a disease spreading. It’s going to be challenging. We are having to redo all of our plans.”

    I say this at least once a week, but now there is a little more urgency in it: I want my son to come home.

  18. Kit says:

    From The Guardian:

    Tanzania has defeated the coronavirus through the power of prayer, its president has said.

    John Magafuli made the claim after his country after his country’s number of confirmed cases of coronavirus stayed the same for three weeks. Just over 500 cases have been reported in a country of nearly 60 million people.

    Meanwhile, Magafuli has led a crackdown on anyone who dares raise concerns about the virus’s spread in Tanzania, or the governments response to it. Critics have been arrested, and opposition politicians and rights activists say their phones are being tapped.

  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Pictures show Donald Trump wearing mask after Ford factory row

    Surrounded by Ford executives who were wearing masks, Trump told reporters he had put one on earlier in the visit.

    “I had one on before. I wore one in the back area. I didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it,” he said.

    NBC News@NBCNews·
    President Trump wears a mask during his tour of the Ford Rawsonville Components Plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan, where ventilators, masks and other medical supplies are being manufactured.

  20. sam says:
  21. Moosebreath says:

    The original post was made after dawn Eastern time, so way too early to be making any Night Moves.

  22. sam says:

    How “Strawberry Fields Forever” Contains “the Craziest Edit” in Beatles History :

    While the time spent on [creating the recording of] the song might seem extravagant, we should consider that these days bands can pluck the sounds they want, whatever they are, from pull-down menus, and splice anything together in a matter of minutes. In the mid-60s, Brian Jones, Brian Wilson, Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles and other studio pioneers dreamed up sounds no one had heard before, and brought together instrumentation that had never shared space in a mix. Producers and engineers like Martin had to invent the techniques to make those new sounds come together on tape. Learning the ins-and-outs of how Martin did it can give even the most die-hard Beatles fans renewed appreciation for songs as widely beloved as “Strawberry Fields Forever.”

  23. MarkedMan says:

    @sam: …and the award for single best headline of the day goes to…….Sam!

  24. Jax says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: In regards to yesterday’s comment about processing chickens, I concur. Chickens are probably the worst to process yourself, a lot of work for not much reward. If I had a facility like that Mennonite one close to me, I would raise a few meat birds and do the same thing. I don’t eat my chickens, when they hit the age of 2 and start slowing down on eggs, I cull them if they have health issues at all, or I find someone that wants a little backyard flock.

    All of my culls this fall (after my pullets start laying) are spoken for, thanks to pandemic uncertainty and the grocery store running out of eggs for a couple days a while back. Everybody wants chickens now, without the hassle of raising them from 1 day old. 😉

  25. An Interested Party says:

    “I had one on before. I wore one in the back area. I didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it,” he said.

    Petty childish idiot…

  26. Teve says:

    Nearly Half of Twitter Accounts Pushing To Reopen America May Be Bots

    If you were Russia, why wouldn’t you spend a few million bucks to make a pandemic worse in America?

  27. Mikey says:

    Antimalarial drug touted by President Trump is linked to increased risk of death in coronavirus patients, study says

    A study of 96,000 hospitalized coronavirus patients on six continents found that those who received an antimalarial drug promoted by President Trump as a “game changer” in the fight against the virus had a significantly higher risk of death compared with those who did not.

    People treated with hydroxychloroquine, or the closely related drug chloroquine, were also more likely to develop a type of irregular heart rhythm, or arrhythmia, that can lead to sudden cardiac death, it concluded.

  28. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jax: Everybody wants chickens now, without the hassle of raising them from 1 day old

    Heh, boy do they. I get a half dozen pullets every year (Rhode Island reds one year, barred rocks the next so I know which ones to cull) and this is the first time I ever had to wait to get them (2 weeks, big deal s//) My meat birds come the first week of August but I have been stocking up on feed because I’m afraid there will be a ton of first timers raising them this year. It is probably unnecessary but I have good storage for them and it will cut down on the sticker shock factor.

  29. Jax says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I buy specific breeds each year, too, so I know which are which when it comes time to cull. I was glad I got my order in in January, and was suspicious enough about this pandemic stuff that I ordered 20 more than usual, with some dual-purpose heavy breeds that can double as meat birds if necessary. I’ll eat them if I have to, but I’m not gonna enjoy getting them in the freezer!

    The hatchery I order from is actually in Missouri! They’ve done pretty well for me, the only time I’ve had trouble with the chicks was last year, and they made it right.

    I bought one of the pigs that was supposed to go to that Smithfield plant, too. $300, cut and wrapped. Pick that up June 1st.

  30. CSK says:

    You know what Cult45 is going to say: That this isn’t true; that’s it’s an international conspiracy to make Trump look bad and destroy his chances of winning this November.

  31. MarkedMan says:

    @Mikey: When did the voice of the Republican Party turn from Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” to “Go ahead and take pills if your friends have good things to say about them”?

  32. Kit says:


    All of my culls this fall (after my pullets start laying)…

    Hey! Weren’t we saying a few days ago that the Germanic names referred to the animals and the French names to the meat?

  33. Kathy says:


    So Trump’s drug takes a terrible situation and makes it much worse.

    That’s 100% Trump.

  34. Sleeping Dog says:

    On the Revisionist Histories at the Heart of Fascism and Populism
    From Perón to Trump, the Political Art of Spinning Lies Into Myth

    Fascism and populism both appeal to the political trinity, leader, nation, and people, as their main source of legitimation. In both formations, there is no contradiction between the people, the nation, and the representation of the people in the persona of the leader. These ideologies believe in personification as representation, which means, in effect, that achieving the will of the people is fully delegated to the leader. This three-part myth of representation rests on the fantasy that somehow a single leader is the same as a nation and its people—an identification of one person and two concepts.

  35. MarkedMan says:

    As I’ve said for a while, the modern Republican Party can best be thought of as the government of Alabama or Mississippi on a national scale.

  36. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jax: Let me guess: the Cackle Hatchery? I get my birds from them too.

  37. Sleeping Dog says:


    If Twitter really wanted to fix their “bot problem” they would charge users for the ability to post and re-tweet posts. Payment would need to be made via credit card and the name of the card holder would be attached to all tweets made by that account along with the handle the tweeter uses. Facebook could do a variation of this as well.

  38. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    That’s not going to happen. Twitter would lose a huge number of Tweeters, and as for Facebook, isn’t their motto “It’s free, and always will be”? The advertising revenue for both would decline precipitously as their membership declined.

  39. Michael Cain says:


    What could go wrong?

    One of my retirement projects has me learning (relearning after 20 years for some small parts of it) computer vision stuff. (1) I am a long-time collector of software snafus, but it has opened my eyes to a whole new world of ways that software can screw things up. (2) Neural networks were invented to drive mathematicians crazy. (3) If I were a young man with interests in the same kinds of math and real-time control I developed later in life, I would have to be thinking hard about choosing between my reluctance to build weapons and the fascinating math and real-time control problems some of the small missile and drone companies are working on.

  40. Michael Cain says:


    A study of 96,000 hospitalized coronavirus patients on six continents found that those who received an antimalarial drug promoted by President Trump as a “game changer” in the fight against the virus had a significantly higher risk of death compared with those who did not.

    The obvious counter-argument from Trump’s side is, of course, “The president is advocating hydoxychloroquine in small doses for healthy individuals as a prophylactic.” I understand there is at least one well-structured study of that hypothesis going on, but it will be some weeks before they have enough data to draw any conclusions.

  41. Teve says:

    Eta dang Mikey beat me.

  42. CSK says:

    The Week has a good article by Windsor Mann on Trump’s aversion to reading. I’d furnish the link, but when I do that, I get sent to moderation.

  43. KM says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    Actually, that would make it worse. What’s to stop Russia from sinking in a couple million more to keep doing what they’re doing when it’s reaping such unprecedented rewards? They’d be absolute *fools* to let a pay structure deter them. All they need to is establish a credit card (or several) and just make a billion fake accounts. Or create a ton of false identities and get legit ones as I doubt credit card companies care so long as no financial fraud or legal issues screw them. Yeah, more work and harder to maintain but with this kind of result? You’d better believe that if I were the guy in charge of doing this, I wouldn’t hesitate to keep it going as the ROI would be worth it.

  44. KM says:

    @Michael Cain:

    I really, really want to hear the explanation for when it comes out that it doesn’t work or worse, actively causes harm. Drugs ain’t cheap so at the very least, they’re going to have to justify why they’re pushing an expensive product that didn’t work. I know Cult45 won’t care but the courts will when the inevitable lawsuits start up…..

  45. Tyrell says:

    “U.S. Warns New China Law Jeopardizes Hong Kong’s Special Status” (Bloomberg)
    I have always thought that it was a mistake when Britain let go of Hong Kong.
    Read: “The Boxer Rebellion: The Dramatic Story of China’s War on Foreigners that Shook the “World in the Summer of 1900” (Diana Preston 2001)
    “On China” (Kissinger)

  46. Sleeping Dog says:


    The bots would be revealed and can be identified as such. I don’t see how having a unique identifier attached to a twitter account would make the problem worse.


    Then they don’t really want to solve the problem. Do they?

    I don’t believe the decline in posters would be as bad as you think. Politicians, celebrities, athletes etc. would still post and treat the cost as a promotional expense.

  47. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    Certainly. But celebrities needs their millions of fans to follow them, don’t they? Justin Bieber has I don’t know how man gazillion people following him. I suspect a fair number don’t have credit cards. And…a lot more people on Twitter are nonentities than celebrities.

    I have a Twitter account. I wouldn’t if I had to pay for it. It doesn’t mean that much to me. Nor does Facebook.

  48. Michael Cain says:

    @KM: There will be new shiny things to distract them before any serious study is finished… The reporters all know better than to ask in, say, three weeks, “Mr. President, how’s that thing with you taking hydroxychloroquine working out?”

  49. Jax says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Yup! I got some of the Crazy Cackle Toppies this year, it’s some kind of hybrid polish they developed. I suspect at least 3 are roosters, but it’s a little early to tell, I’ve only had them for two weeks. I love those polish chickens, they make me laugh every time I look at them! Their head feathers are just too funny. 🙂

  50. CSK says:

    I’ve decided that Trump is not and never has been taking HCQ. He says he is because he cannot bear to be wrong. And he doesn’t give a damn if any of his culties ingest it and die.

  51. CSK says:

    This Twitter exchange, pinned by George Conway, makes me laugh every time I see it:

    Michelle Goldberg: Side effects of hydroxychloroquine include paranoia, hallucinations and psychosis.
    George Conway: So how do we tell if it’s affecting him?

  52. Just nutha ignint cracker says:
  53. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kit: ???

  54. Bob@Youngstown says:

    CDC – risk of getting covid-19 by touching surfaces is very low, BUT, be sure to disinfect commonly touched surfaces.
    What’s up with that?

  55. CSK says:

    Breaking news: Trump says houses of worship have to open immediately on the grounds that they are essential. He adds that he will override the governors if they don’t obey him.

  56. Jen says:

    @Bob@Youngstown: “Commonly touched” is the key here. While picking up your mail carries some risk, there’s far more risk that a doorknob that is being touched multiple times a day by multiple people will accumulate virus.

  57. Teve says:


    OANN asks Kayleigh McEnany if President Trump has considered pardoning President Obama… She answers by putting up questions on the screen that she thinks reporters should be asking President Obama. Things have taken a turn.

  58. CSK says:

    Things took a turn for the worse–much worse–in November 2016.

  59. Teve says:
  60. Kit says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: That’s that’s clue for the forum. Don’t tell me you are too young to get the reference :-p

  61. inhumans99 says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    That is hilarious and almost something I would expect to see on The Onion or a similar humor site.

  62. Kathy says:

    Good news: apparently the COVID-19 tests from all the department came back negative.

    Not so good news: this only means none of us were infected with SARS-CoV2 as of last Monday, May 18th.

    This is why we need a faster test. I understand, though, there are problems with these non-PCR tests, among them false negatives.

    False positives are not so bad. False negatives kill poeple.

  63. Kathy says:


    Make a count of how many time you touch a surface every day, with particular note of surfaces other people also touch. You’ll find they’re a lot. Now, the odds of catching COVID-19 from any one is low, but multiply that by the number of times you’ve touched them, and that’s the real risk of catching COVID-19 form surfaces.

    Just wash your hands, use hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available, and you should be ok.

  64. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    That does look like The Onion.

    But today after going to the supermarket(*), I thought perhaps I should wear a crinoline when I go out. That would make others keep their distance!

    But then I couldn’t fit in the aisles.

    (*) I went today rather than Saturday because I was working from home. I reasoned that even in the semi lock down we’re having, fewer people would be up and at the store at 7 am on a weekday. I was right.

    Alas, there were more store personnel and suppliers stocking and arranging items in shelves.

  65. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @Jen: My paraphrase of the CDC website introduced the “commonly touched” phrase.
    This is what the CDC website actually says:

    The virus does not spread easily in other ways
    • From touching surfaces or objects. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, but we are still learning more about this virus.

    Protect yourself and others
    The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. You can take steps to slow the spread.
    • Routinely clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.

    Appears to be somewhat contradictory (but perhaps intentional), and easily misinterpreted.

  66. Kathy says:

    Notes on my COVID-19 test:

    The result comes back as “NOT DETECTED.”

    The fine print note below explains this means either the RNA from SARS-CoV2 is not present, or it’s below the detection threshold.

    It further explains the test result should not be the sole determinant for treatment in a clinical setting. This doesn’t apply to me, as the test was not made due to any display of symptoms.

    The other possible results, are “DETECTED,” meaning seek medical attention, and “INCONCLUSIVE,” meaning you need to take the test again.

    Now I have more reason to work from home as much as possible. I’d like to keep avoiding this virus.

  67. Mister Bluster says:

    In 1942 Raymond Chandler said that James M. Cain was “a [Marcel Proust] in greasy overalls, a dirty little boy with a piece of chalk and a board fence and nobody looking . . . everything he touches smells like a billygoat”.
    IMDb/Double Indemnity/Trivia

  68. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kit: No, I actually didn’t pay any attention to the subtitle of the post at all. Also, the only Seeger song that I’ve ever heard is Night Moves, and I don’t remember any lyrics from it. At that time, I was more of an Al Stewart guy. I have an Oblivion Express tape and a couple of records by Taj Mahal and Paul Butterfield Blues Band from that era too. Seeger, meh… not so much.

  69. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: Still in all, I don’t think I’ll hold my breath waiting for whatever kind voters they have in South Carolina to vote Lindsey out.

  70. Kit says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I recently rediscovered Seger. For many older artists, I tend to judge them by how good of a Best Of album they leave behind.* By that standard, I reckon that Seger was a giant, and I say that as someone who never bought an album if his but did hear him often enough on radio.

    *An album, even if only digital, should still be limited to around ten tracks. That’s just the natural order of things.

  71. Tyrell says:

    @Bob@Youngstown: It means to return to sensible cleaning, instead of spraying and sloshing bleach and other strong chemicals.
    Another CDC flip flop.