Wednesday’s 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. Kylopod says:

    They’re getting closer to finishing the vote counts for 2020, so here are a few observations (subject to change as more votes come in):

    (1) Biden’s share of the popular vote just inched up from 50.8 to 50.9. I’m guessing the final count will be very close to Obama’s 2012 margin of 51.1-47.2%, and Dave Wasserman suggests the margin could be even wider. The fact that it translates into a much narrower EC victory is a sign of how skewed against the Dems the EC has become. It’s possible this is something particular to Trump, and may subside when he’s no longer a candidate.

    (2) One thing that hasn’t gotten much attention yet is how strong Biden’s numbers are in the non-battleground states, including some recent former battlegrounds. Biden achieved a 10-point win in Virginia–the best a Dem has done since 1944. He also scored the first double-digit win in Colorado since LBJ, and a nearly 20-point victory in Washington State, again the best since 1964.

    (3) Biden also did better than usual for a Dem in certain red states. Trump won Utah by 58.0-37.8%–which is a lot, and certainly an improvement over his 45.4% in 2016 when Evan McMullin was on the ballot, but it’s still the best performance for a Democrat since (once again) LBJ. (It’s not clear whether this is due to a Democratic trend in the state or a particular aversion to Trump from conservative Mormons.) Biden also had the best performance in Alaska since the ’60s–42.9%, about a 10-point loss. Partly because of Alaska’s history of giving a significant share of the vote to third-party candidates, Biden is only the second Democrat (after Obama in 2012) to break 40% since 1968.

    (4) California is still being counted, but it looks to be the best performance for a Dem (or any candidate, for that matter) since 1936.

    ReplyReply
    10
  2. Teve says:
  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Russia discovers ‘road of bones’ on frozen highway in Siberia

    A “road of bones” has been discovered in Siberia, where officials have opened an inquiry into how a human skull and other remains appeared on a frozen highway near Irkutsk. The remains, which may be a century old, were buried in sand that was spread over a local road to improve traction on black ice. So far, the bones of at least three people have been discovered, a Kirensk city official told Russian state television, adding that they may date back to Russia’s 1917-22 civil war.

    Photographs of the frozen remains first emerged on social media, where locals argued over whether the bones had come from a nearby cemetery or from a ravine rumoured to have been used as a mass grave.

    ReplyReply
    1
  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Trump officials rush plans to drill in Arctic refuge before Biden inauguration

    In a last-ditch attempt to make good on promises to the oil and gas industry, the Trump administration is rushing to formalize plans to drill for oil in the Arctic national wildlife refuge before Joe Biden takes office. On Tuesday, the Bureau of Land Management initiated the process with a formal “call for nominations”, inviting input on which land tracts should be auctioned off in the refuge’s 1.5m-acre coastal plain region.

    The call for nominations “brings us one step closer to […] advancing this administration’s policy of energy independence”, said Chad Padgett, the BLM Alaska state director, in a statement.

    The call for nominations lasts 30 days, which would allow the bureau to begin auctioning leases for land tracts to oil and gas companies just days before Biden’s inauguration on 20 January. The coastal plain region, where land could be auctioned, is considered some of the country’s last pristine wilderness, containing dozens of polar bear dens, essential migratory bird habitat, and caribou calving grounds held sacred to the Gwich’in people.
    ……………………………..
    The rush to sell leases appears to be spurred by Biden’s very different approach to public land management. He has promised to “permanently protect” the refuge and ban all new oil and gas leasing on public lands, making it unlikely that leases will be sold once Biden takes office.

    Even if the BLM holds an auction as early as 17 January, it’s unclear how much bidding will take place. The oil industry is also having a particularly bad year; two dozen banks have announced that they would not fund fossil fuel extraction in the Arctic refuge. And either way, it could be years before any drilling might take place, given the environmental reviews required to do so.

    “If BLM holds an auction, but doesn’t get as far as issuing leases, the new administration may be able to avoid issuing them, particularly if it concludes the program or lease sale was unlawfully adopted,” said Erik Grafe, an attorney with the environmental law non-profit Earthjustice.

    I’m just gonna go out on a limb and predict that not a single well is drilled due to these actions.

    ReplyReply
    3
  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    This is a pretty cool graphic, and absolutely terrifying.

    ReplyReply
    1
  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Coronavirus: Five signs that show how bad El Paso’s outbreak is

    Overflowing hospitals

    With cases going up by more than a thousand every day in El Paso, some 76,000 people have now been infected. That’s about the same number of confirmed cases as in the whole of Greece or Libya.

    Data shows 1,120 El Paso residents are currently in hospital with the virus, and this number is expected to rise. That means that of all the Covid patients in hospital across the state of Texas, one in six is in El Paso, according to the latest figures. A total of 782 people are known to have died.

    Ten mobile morgues

    As hospitals grapple with too many patients, El Paso’s morgue has been unable to keep up with the county’s rising death toll. As a result, officials are turning to refrigerated trailers. Ten of these mobile morgues have been requested in recent weeks. The mobile facilities are set up outside the county’s medical examiner’s office, which has been handling more than 150 bodies in the last week.

    No shutdown for El Paso

    Despite the worries of many El Pasoans, there’s no lockdown in sight for the west Texas county.

    On Friday, a state appeals court overturned a stay-at-home order after local restaurant owners and the state attorney general sued Judge Samaniego for shutting down the city.

    A panel of judges ruled 2-1 that the order to close nonessential businesses until December went against the Texas governor’s 7 October reopening guidance. Some businesses resumed operations almost immediately, local media reported.

    Attorney General Ken Paxton called Judge Samaniego a “tyrant” over the mandate. The county judge responded that it was “unfortunate” that the attorney general sought “to gloat instead of coming to El Paso to walk along side me by the mobile morgues”.

    When it comes to the Paxtons of this country, words fail me.

    ReplyReply
    6
  7. Scott says:

    Meanwhile in Texas.

    FBI is investigating Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, AP report says

    The FBI is investigating Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, the Associated Press reported Tuesday evening, vetting allegations made by eight of Paxton’s former top aides that he illegally used the power of his office to benefit a political donor.

    Two unnamed sources told the AP that the bureau was examining claims made by the whistleblowers that Paxton broke the law by intervening several times in legal matters involving Nate Paul, a real estate investor and friend who donated $25,000 to Paxton’s campaign in 2018.

    On Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, eight aides in total told authorities that they believed Paxton had committed crimes as part of his relationship with Paul, citing bribery and abuse of office. Since then, four aides have been fired, three have resigned, and one has been placed on leave — sparking a whistleblower lawsuit.

    BTW, that’s Indicted Felon AG Ken Paxton.

    Paxton has been under indictment for more than five years on securities fraud charges but has yet to stand trial. He has dismissed the charges as politically motivated and entered a not guilty plea.

    Only the best.

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    When it comes to the Paxtons of this country, words fail me.

    Yes, he is part of the Republican death cult here deep in the heart of Texas.

    ReplyReply
    6
  8. Teve says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: ugh.

    ReplyReply
  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Scott: Every time he opens his mouth I reconsider my opposition to the death penalty.

    ReplyReply
    6
  10. Teve says:

    I continue to be Amazed that Uber’s market cap is almost $100 billion. For a scam company that can’t possibly work.

    ReplyReply
    4
  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A man with a mission: Underwater museum: how ‘Paolo the fisherman’ made the Med’s strangest sight

    While Italian law bans trawling within three nautical miles of the coast, it’s so profitable that it’s not uncommon for boats to carry on illegally at night. Some employ lookouts to warn against the coast guard, or use devices to shield their GPS signal.

    Fanciulli noticed the effects of trawling as early as the 1980s: the damaged ecosystem was affecting his catch and having an impact on his livelihood. So, along with some other local fishermen and activists from Greenpeace, he blocked a commercial port in Tuscany in protest.
    …………………………
    It wasn’t enough to stop illegal fishing, however. In 2006, a desperate Tuscan government dropped concrete blocks into the sea in an effort to disrupt the trawlers. Fanciulli says they didn’t work, however, as they were too far apart and the nets simply dragged between them.
    marble sculpture by Emily Young

    He got permission from Arpa, the agency for environmental protection, to drop an additional 80 blocks at his own expense. Still, however, he wasn’t satisfied, and his thoughts turned to the shipwrecks he’d loved as a boy. “I didn’t just want concrete,” he says. “I was fascinated with beautiful antiquities underwater.”

    He began to wonder: what if, instead of dropping concrete blocks into the water, he dropped art?

    He asked a quarry in nearby Carrara if they could donate two marble blocks that he could use to make sculptures. “They donated 100 instead.”

    Via word of mouth, contributions from tourists and online crowdfunding, Fanciulli persuaded artists including Giorgio Butini, Massimo Lippi, Beverly Pepper and Emily Young to carve sculptures from the marble. Then he took them out to sea and lowered them in.

    The underwater sculptures create both a physical barrier for nets and a unique underwater museum. The sculptures are placed in a circle, 4m apart, with an obelix at the centre carved by the Italian artist Massimo Catalani. Emily Young provided four sculptures, each weighing 12 tons, she calls “guardians”; nearby lies a mermaid by the young artist Aurora Vantaggiato. Lippi has contributed 17 sculptures representing Siena’s contrade, or medieval districts.
    ……………………………….
    Marine life of all kinds appears to be returning. Algae covers the statues, and lobsters have taken up residence nearby. Talamone is a turtle recovery centre – part of the Tartalife project – and more turtles have been seen, as have dolphins. “In the past it was unusual to see dolphins near the coast,” Faniculli says. “They normally stay offshore, but as industrial fishing destroyed the seabed, they moved close to the statues because, due the repopulation, there is food.”

    The museum is Fanciulli’s version of the shipwrecks he loved as a boy, and he hopes to build on its success. “We put in the first statues in 2007 but our goal is to reach 100,” he says, sensing an opportunity. “We’d like someone to help our battle in defence of the sea. Do you know if any soccer player or influencer is available?”

    ReplyReply
    7
  12. CSK says:

    Attorney Lin Wood is claiming that Trump won in a 70% landslide and that he received at least 400 electoral votes.

    ReplyReply
    2
  13. mattbernius says:

    One last time for the folks in the back row: there are no pictures, there is no blackmail. Lindsey Graham has always been like this/capable of this.

    When I speak to former colleagues of mine who are—or were—in the Republican sphere that includes Graham, the conversation about “what happened to Lindsey Graham?” usually ends with the conclusion that he is scared to death of what life would be like if he wasn’t a U.S. senator.

    Source: https://thebulwark.com/lindsey-graham-is-the-worst/

    ReplyReply
    5
  14. Teve says:

    @byMikeBaker

    If states were countries, here’s the global ranking of new cases per capita this past week:

    1 North Dakota
    2 South Dakota
    3 Iowa
    4 Wyoming
    5 Nebraska
    6 Wisconsin
    7 Minnesota
    8 Montana
    9 Illinois
    10 Montenegro
    11 Kansas
    12 Luxembourg
    13 Utah
    14 Indiana

    ReplyReply
    1
  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Lin who?

    ReplyReply
    1
  16. Sleeping Dog says:

    It’s not the robots.

    It is because America has returned to being a feudal economic system

    The U.S. economy produces larger wage gaps, proportionately fewer high-quality jobs and less intergenerational mobility than most other developed nations do, the researchers found. And America does not seem to get a compensating payoff in growth. “The U.S. is getting a low ‘return’ on its inequality,” the report said.

    Nor does the lagging position of American workers appear to be the result of technology. “It’s not that we have better technology, automating more middle-wage jobs,” said David Autor, an M.I.T. labor economist and a co-author of the report. “We have worse institutions.”

    ReplyReply
    6
  17. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    I can’t tell if you’re being sardonic, so…Lin Wood is an Atlanta attorney, best known recently as the attorney for the Covington Catholic student Nicholas Sandman, who, with Sidney Powell, has entered the election fray on behalf of President Lardass.

    ReplyReply
    2
  18. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Yeah sorry, I googled him and got the low down. I was being sarcastic, as in, “If a lawyer opens his mouth in an empty courtroom, has he made an argument?”

    ReplyReply
    4
  19. Kathy says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    I’m in the middle of Why Nations Fail. While it’s beginning to sound very repetitive, it did bring up early on the idea of extractive economic institutions.

    Basically it means structures where wealth flows from the bottom to the top, where it accumulates. The authors make much about how political and economic institutions in wealthier countries, especially the US, are inclusive rather than extractive. This clearly was so in the past, but it’s less so every day now.

    ReplyReply
    1
  20. Northerner says:

    @Kylopod:

    (1) Biden’s share of the popular vote just inched up from 50.8 to 50.9. I’m guessing the final count will be very close to Obama’s 2012 margin of 51.1-47.2%, and Dave Wasserman suggests the margin could be even wider. The fact that it translates into a much narrower EC victory is a sign of how skewed against the Dems the EC has become. It’s possible this is something particular to Trump, and may subside when he’s no longer a candidate.

    Actually Biden’s electorial vote victory (306-232) closer to his popular vote victory (51-47) than Obama’s was (365-173 and 53-46). That strikes me as being a good thing — ideally the electorial vote would exactly reflect the popular vote (and then you could get rid of it).

    Right now your EC is heavily skewed towards the winner, like all first past the post systems. Saying a 306-232 EC win with a 51-47 popular vote win is skewed against you is very odd.

    ReplyReply
    1
  21. Kathy says:

    Both Pfizer and Moderna are close to requesting, and likely obtaining, emergency use authorization for their vaccines.

    It’s worth noting that Pfizer’s vaccine was developed by its partner BioNTech, a German biotechnology company started by two descendants of Turkish immigrants. it’s also worth noting the pair is part of Operation Warpspeed only in that they agreed to produce some millions of vaccine doses to sell to the US government, but did not take any funding from the program.

    All that said, Moderna’s vaccine looks like the more practical choice, as it requires only -20 C storage, vs -70C for Pfizer’s. Further, Moderna’s vaccine once thawed, is viable for about a month at temperatures of 2 to 8 C, well within the range of any home fridge.

    -20 C (around -4F) is very low as even industrial freezers go, but there are some freezers that do work at such temps, and even lower. It’s also well within the range of dry ice, and well above liquid nitrogen. So it would be easier to ship globally, and vaccination centers would not require specialized equipment beyond common refrigerators.

    The only more practical option would be a conventional vaccine using a virus vector, like the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, but those are further behind in development.

    We’re not near the end of the pandemic, but we’re close to the beginning of the end.

    ReplyReply
    2
  22. Teve says:

    @Kathy: capitalism redistributes money to the top. Governments/unions/wars redistribute it back down or you wind up with a pretty shitty country.

    ReplyReply
    5
  23. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    Quite all right. Sidney Powell is now saying that Trump received at least 80 million votes.

    What’s interesting is that some of the Trumpkins are demanding proof of what she’s claiming.

    What I’m wondering is whether, when this is over, Trump will pay them for enabling this charade.

    ReplyReply
    1
  24. Kylopod says:

    @Northerner:

    Actually Biden’s electorial vote victory (306-232) closer to his popular vote victory (51-47) than Obama’s was (365-173 and 53-46). That strikes me as being a good thing — ideally the electorial vote would exactly reflect the popular vote (and then you could get rid of it).

    First of all, I was talking about 2012, not 2008. It looks like Biden’s margin will be very similar to Obama’s 2012 margin, yet he’s getting a much narrower EC victory than Obama did that year: 332-206 (with much wider vote margins in the states that pushed Obama over the top).

    It’s well-known that historically, EC totals tend to look lopsided compared to the winner’s popular-vote margin. So for example, Obama wins 53% of the PV in 2008 but around 68% of the EC. That’s very typical. This is due to the winner-take-all format in most states. However, in a relative sense there’s still a close relationship between popular-vote margin and EC victory. If Candidate A wins the popular vote by 3 points, Candidate B by 5 points and Candidate C by 7 points, there’s a good chance Candidate B does better in the EC than Candidate A, and Candidate C does better than both of them. This isn’t always the case, but it’s generally true. You could state the rule as follows: The wider a candidate’s popular-vote margin, the higher his share of the EC is likely to be.

    I’m no defender of the EC, and like most people here I’d love to see it abolished. But I’m just pointing out that there was a strong pro-Trump skew in the EC this year, in the sense that he came much closer to winning the EC than winning the popular vote. (It’s reflected in the fact that Biden overperformed in states he didn’t need, as I detailed earlier, but just barely survived in the states that put him over the top in the EC even though his popular-vote margin was much more comfortable.) That hasn’t always been the case: In 2012, the EC was slightly skewed in Obama’s favor.

    ReplyReply
    3
  25. Teve says:

    What I’m wondering is whether, when this is over, Trump will pay them

    Ima stop you right there… 😀

    ReplyReply
    6
  26. Teve says:

    @mehdihasanshow

    Ford’s pardon of Nixon “didn’t heal the nation, it only aggravated the sense that Nixon had escaped justice,” says @KevinMKruse. “Furthermore, the pardon only emboldened Nixon,” a lesson many presidents of both parties took to heart.

    mor·al haz·ard
    /ˈmôrəl ˈhazərd/
    nounECONOMICS
    lack of incentive to guard against risk where one is protected from its consequences

    ReplyReply
    5
  27. CSK says:

    @Teve:
    Well, when he loses, he can always refuse to pay Wood and Powell on the grounds that they did poor work. It would be well in keeping with his lifetime practice of stiffing contractors.

    ReplyReply
    2
  28. Kathy says:

    Well, the Boeing 737 MAX is safe to fly again, per the FAA.

    But this also means changes to existing planes need to be made, as well as additional training given to certify pilots for the MAX.

    The grounding, modifications, re-certification, and so on probably have cost Boeing more than developing a 737 clean slate replacement would have cost. Hopefully they and Airbus will learn from this.

    ReplyReply
    3
  29. Kurtz says:

    @Teve:

    capitalism redistributes money to the top. Governments/unions/wars redistribute it back down or you wind up with a [shit hole] country.

    FTFY

    ReplyReply
    2
  30. Joe says:

    @Kathy:
    Luckily, it would seem they have some spare capacity right now to spend time retrofitting the fleet and training the pilots.

    ReplyReply
    2
  31. Kathy says:

    @Joe:

    A little.

    I expect massive retirement of older 737 models, and some A320/A319 as well. Probably followed by new low cost and ultra-low cost startups snapping up cheap 737s when they see the travel market recover.

    ReplyReply
    1
  32. dazedandconfused says:

    @CSK:

    re: Will he pay them?

    I doubt they will even bother to bill him. The Trump Family uses the same model that the mafia uses: “Associates” must make their bread by association, not by pay. A system probably best described in popular media in the movie “Casino”. Nobody in the cash stream wasn’t paid. Some took the huge risk of pocketing some of it but for those who couldn’t get away with that there was nothing. This eventually brought the whole show down.

    Rudy isn’t paid, and if IIRC neither was Cohen. They are allowed to keep all they can earn, and by being associated with “the family” they can earn quite a bit if they play their cards right, just like the mafia. They can get a cut out of individual deals if the cut comes from the other side.

    Powell? Highly paid by FOX and the more her name is in the news the more money she can make. There is no such thing as bad coverage in the entertainment business.

    ReplyReply
    2
  33. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Kathy:

    Inclusive v. extractive.

    Historically the US has been an inclusive economy, that was enabled in the 19th century by western expansion and in the 20th by the development of manufacturing technology, tech in general and the fact that the North American economic machine was the only major economy functioning at the end of WWII. But this began shifting 50 years ago and in the oughts we have solidified into an extractive model. This is evidenced by the drop in economic mobility, new business creation, the crushing of middle class wages and business oligarchies across large segments of the economy.

    This isn’t sustainable, but to borrow from Keynes, in the long run we’ll all be dead, so the wealthy harvest the rewards, spreading just enough to maintain a coterie of enablers.

    ReplyReply
    5
  34. Loviatar says:

    Here’s a GOP challenger bragging about how she purposefully walked through a crowd of Detroit elections workers without a mask out of spite. Her friend had a Trump mask on.

    Patty McMurray

    She smiles, smirks and laughs as she recites her story.

    Said it before and will continue to say it, until enough of you guys understand; I can live with an opponent, I cannot live with an enemy.

    P.S.

    So what should be the consequences if this woman sickened or killed your family member.

    ReplyReply
    9
  35. Teve says:

    @Loviatar:

    So what should be the consequences if this woman sickened or killed your family member.

    I just binged the first three seasons of The Blacklist, so all kinds of terrible things are coming to mind 😀

    ReplyReply
    1
  36. Kathy says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    The problem, for us, is the ultimate extractive model is slavery or serfdom. We won’t get there, but we’ll get a modern equivalent.

    It’s time for a UBI and a living wage.

    ReplyReply
    6
  37. gVOR08 says:

    @Teve: @Kathy: @Sleeping Dog:

    Governments/unions/wars redistribute it back down or you wind up with a pretty shitty country.

    That last, war, is pretty much Piketty’s thesis. The world’s economy had been extractive up through the Gilded Age and wealth had accumulated heavily at the top. Much of the accumulated wealth was destroyed by WWI, WWII, and the Great Depression. The Depression being partly fallout of WWI. The result of destroying all that wealth was thirty years of peace, prosperity, and genuine democracy. The effect was less extreme in the U. S., what with not being bombed or occupied, and selling guns, butter, and oil to our allies, but still very clear.

    As to government and unions, J. K. Galbraith noted that the only “countervailing”(his coinage) power against ginormous corporations is strong government and strong unions. Republicans, with altogether too much support from centrist, neoliberal Democrats, have largely eliminated strong unions, and they’re working on eliminating strong government.

    ReplyReply
    3
  38. Teve says:

    Why did all the Trumpers immediately drop the Legend of Hunter Biden’s Laptops?

    ReplyReply
    10
  39. Kylopod says:

    @Teve:

    Why did all the Trumpers immediately drop the Legend of Hunter Biden’s Laptops?

    This gets into the level of projection on Republicans’ part. When they said Covid would “magically disappear” after Election Day, they were accusing Dems of doing what they do. The caravan of migrants magically disappeared after 2018. The Hunter laptop has now magically disappeared. They’re incapable of viewing the pandemic except through a political lens, so they assume it follows the same rules as the manufactured crises they come up with.

    ReplyReply
    15
  40. wr says:

    @Kathy: Pardon my ignorance, but this vaccine that needs to be stored at -70 — what do they do when they administer it? It is brought up to room temperature? Because I can’t imagine getting -70 anything shot into your skin would be particularly pleasant. But if so, how long can it last at room temperature and how quickly does it have to be injected?

    ReplyReply
    2
  41. Kathy says:

    @wr:

    It would be lethal to inject something that cold. So, yes, it’s thawed and brought to a few degrees above zero C. I assume Pfizer’s shots are also viable for a time at fridge temperatures, but I haven’t learned how long.

    I don’t recall much of my own vaccinations in childhood, but I do remember they were kept in refrigerators, and injected straight from there. that’s not worse than drinking cold water.

    ReplyReply
    1
  42. An Interested Party says:

    Good grief, this parade of horribles, dare I say, deplorables, is the immediate future of the GOP? Trump needs to hang around long enough to spare all of us from one of these odious creatures winning the presidency in 2024…

    ReplyReply
    3
  43. grumpy realist says:

    Wow. It looks like the Trump side actually managed to grift enough cash out of their marks to in fact pay for a partial recount in Wisconsin.

    I suspect more hissy-fits when the recounts turn out to not change anything.

    ReplyReply
    3
  44. Northerner says:

    @Kylopod:

    I’m no defender of the EC, and like most people here I’d love to see it abolished. But I’m just pointing out that there was a strong pro-Trump skew in the EC this year, in the sense that he came much closer to winning the EC than winning the popular vote.

    I’m missing something. Trump got roughly 43% of the electorial vote, and 47% of the popular vote. Doesn’t that mean he came closer to winning the popular vote than the electorial vote?

    First past the post is a horrible system, whether in parliamentary systems or in systems like yours. The problem seems to be that no one can agree on what to replace it with. In Canada there’ve been a few referendums on it, but though the majority of people want it changed, they’re divided on what system to replace it with — there are several flavors of proportional representation, and then variations of first past the post like ranked voting.

    ReplyReply
    2
  45. Teve says:

    The Last Children of Down Syndrome

    If you’re looking for a not too short, thoughtful article about genetics and prenatal screening etc.

    ReplyReply
    1
  46. Michael Cain says:

    @wr:

    but this vaccine that needs to be stored at -70 — what do they do when they administer it? It is brought up to room temperature? Because I can’t imagine getting -70 anything shot into your skin would be particularly pleasant. But if so, how long can it last at room temperature and how quickly does it have to be injected?

    The Pfizer -70 vaccine is good for six days at refrigerator temperatures. The bigger problem initially is that Pfizer wants to ship in basic units of either 1,000 or 5,000 doses frozen doses. That’s going to be a problem in a rural area where there are at most only a couple hundred people that will get vaccinated before it goes bad.

    The Moderna vaccine doesn’t need to be kept as cold while frozen and is supposed to be good for 30 days at refrigerator temperature. Moderna doesn’t seem to be as far along on the process for manufacturing millions of doses, though.

    ReplyReply
    1
  47. Teve says:

    @Michael Cain: I heard someone explain that it would make sense to use the Pfizer vaccine in technologically capable, urban areas. And use the Moderno vaccine in lower-tech locations. I’ve used -70 freezers, but they ain’t common. Mostly found in places where people need to long-term store genetically modified bacteria.

    ReplyReply
    2
  48. Kylopod says:

    @Northerner:

    I’m missing something. Trump got roughly 43% of the electorial vote, and 47% of the popular vote. Doesn’t that mean he came closer to winning the popular vote than the electorial vote?

    Well, no–that doesn’t really tell us anything about how close or far he was to winning either the EC or the popular vote. That has to be determined by looking at the margins of victory or defeat in the states that mattered the most. In PA, WI, GA, and AZ, Biden’s victory margin is around 1% or less, in Michigan about 2.5%. Trump would only need to flip three of those states to change the electoral outcome. Yet Biden’s national margin is going to be around 4%, maybe more.

    In contrast, Obama had about a 4-point national margin in 2012, yet his five narrowest states were FL (<1%), OH (~3%), VA (3.88%), CO (5.36%), and PA (5.38%)–and Romney needed at least four of them if he wanted to change the electoral outcome. In other words, he needed at least one state that was won by a wider margin than the popular vote. That's why the EC was skewed in Obama's favor that year. For Trump to change the electoral outcome this year, he would only need to flip states that were won by a narrower margin than the popular vote.

    First past the post is a horrible system, whether in parliamentary systems or in systems like yours. The problem seems to be that no one can agree on what to replace it with.

    Ranked choice is on the rise in the US–first in Maine, more recently in Alaska. But I’m under no illusion it’s some kind of panacea for the massive structural problems in the US’s electoral system.

    ReplyReply
    3
  49. Teve says:

    Vic Walcsyk, head of Pennsylvania ACLU:

    Musings from Yesterday’s Trump Trial (November 17)

    Yesterday was pretty surreal. Here’s a few observations before I hit the road for the drive back to Pittsburgh. I have largely dictated this so please excuse the somewhat rambling nature.

    The hearing was scheduled to begin in the Williamsport federal courthouse at 1:30. The courtroom itself was supposed to be limited to the lawyers for the two sides (I say supposed to be because the Trump team had a half dozen unidentified acolytes, lawyers and otherwise, sitting in the gallery). After my two teammates arrived around noon, we grabbed a quick takeout lunch at the Wegmans across the street from the courthouse. As we approached the courthouse, there was a large space set up for a demonstration. There were only a handful of pro-Trump demonstrators, as shown in the picture (I think it’s below). Security was abundant. Earlier that morning, one Rudy Giuliani had entered an appearance on the docket for the Donald J. Trump campaign. I don’t know if the security was specifically for him, but it was everywhere, both inside and outside the courthouse.

    Judge Matthew Brann’s courtroom is on the fourth floor. We found pieces of paper with our names on them assigning us seats. Since we are voter intervenors and not the parties initially sued, the court assigned us to the benches in the gallery. That’s not unusual in cases with large legal teams. The seats were about 6 feet apart and on every other bench. As at any wedding, the opposing side stayed on their own side of the courtroom. Giuliani arrived with an entourage shortly before 1:30 and assumed the number one counsel seat on his side of the courtroom. Shortly before 1:30, a fellow lawyer and I were escorted back to the judge’s chambers. I couldn’t tell if anyone looked askance at us. I was simply moving the lawyer’s admission to the court, a regular non-event. The judge was businesslike but appeared nervous. We had met a few times socially, but my experience before him is limited. We exchanged a few pleasantries, not coming close to the case, and returned to the court room within about five minutes.

    The hearing began late, as they were clearly having technical difficulties setting the remote access. The press were relegated entirely to another courtroom on a different floor of the courthouse. There was no media inside the courtroom itself. Apparently, they had a live feed, but I learned afterword that it was highly problematic.

    The judge directed plaintiffs to open (begin the argument), a bit surprising since our side filed the motion to dismiss. Giuliani started out surprisingly strong and lucid, compared to clips I’ve seen of him on his TV rants. That soon devolved into a mega conspiracy theory that led to a stolen election. Something about Democrats in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Milwaukee engaging in a conspiracy to steal the election from Trump. He claimed there was evidence of fraud everywhere and that you had to be blind not to see it. The problem with this argument is, as I noted in a post the other evening, they have not introduced a shred of evidence about fraud in Pennsylvania. That has not changed since earlier in the week. There is still zero of what we lawyers call “record evidence.”

    The judge largely listened to all the evidence, asking very few questions over the course of nearly 6 hours. He did ask enough to demonstrate that he was listening. Our lawyers were excellent. We allowed a young partner from our cooperating law firm to argue for our clients. He had done most of the hard work in preparing the briefs. He was the last of the four lawyers to present and did an excellent job. We carved out a narrow lane for ourselves, representing the interests of the voters.

    We made two arguments. One is something called the doctrine of laches. In essence, it means that a party cannot sit on its rights and delay in bringing a lawsuit, especially if it is trying to gain an unfair advantage. Here, the Trump campaign could have sued over the issues it now raised in this court before the election, or at latest on election day. They are simply claiming irregularities in how the election was conducted, not any fraud. They have filed many lawsuits, including on these issues, yet they waited six days to file this lawsuit in federal court. Rather than fixing the problems before they began, or early in the process, now they say the problems haveso infected the vote count that the only remedy is to cancel hundreds of thousands of votes.

    Our second argument is that their requested relief is itself a constitutional violation. During questioning by the judge, Giuliani argued that more than 680,000 ballots need to be canceled based on some vague argument about rampant fraud and that their canvass observers weren’t able to observe the canvassing process, which is demonstrably false. Both arguments are nonsense. Importantly, the only votes the Trump campaign wants to cancel are those from Philadelphia and Allegheny County (Pittsburgh), and maybe the four other Democratic majority counties they sued. That would be somewhere in the neighborhood of over 1 million ballots. Again, their arguments and requested relief aren’t super clear.

    There are two profound ironiess in the Trump campaign’s arguments. Giuliani went on and on about how unfair it was that their two voters, from Fayette and Lancaster County, we’re not given an opportunity to fix their defective mail ballots. Both filed what are called naked ballots, meaning they forgot the secrecy envelope. The irony is that ballots without secrecy envelopes are not counted because the Republicans argued in lawsuits over the summer against counting them. We were on the other side of those cases, arguing that the secrecy envelopes are irrelevant for ballot security and voters should not be disenfranchised if they forget them. We lost; they won, one of their few victories. Now they have the nerve to complain that their own voters could navigate the hurdles that they themselves insisted were absolutely necesary.

    The second rich irony is that the Trump campaign’s slogan these days seems to be to count every “legal vote.” But in the absence of any evidence of fraud, it is they who want to cancel the legal votes of hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians, based on where they live. Giuliani and his lawyer colleagues in fact made the argument in one breath that it was unconstitutional for their two voters to be treated differently than people in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh because no one helped them fix their defective ballots, and then moments later argued to disenfranchise people based on where they live, i.e., Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. They gave no indication that they understood the inconsistency, or hypocrisy. Expletive deleted!

    Frustratingly, the judge did not rule and did not throw out the case. The law is clear that the court can, should, and needs to dismiss the lawsuit. The judge’s questions to the plaintiffs’ lawyers made clear that he understands the flaws. He is giving them every opportunity to make their case, allowing them to file more documents later today. We will then respond and I expect the judge will rule either late Friday or over the weekend. The first key post-election date is Monday, when the secretary must certify the votes from the 67 counties.

    This was a highly unusual hearing. The pandemic restrictions glued people to assigned seats. In case you are wondering, all but a handful of participants wore masks, except when a lawyer was addressing the court. There were a couple of notable exceptions, and I will let you guess which side of the court room they sat on. As with any gathering, the two sides of the aisle were wary of each other, but over the course of a long afternoon we began to engage during the long breaks to repair technical difficulties. For those who don’t know, I inherited my mom’s affinity for talking to everyone. Let me say I had some very interesting discussions with the Trump people, including recognizable names. We bantered and even joked a bit. I did not, however, lose sight of the fact that these people are trying to overturn democracy.

    Rudy in the house was plainly an attraction. I had a nice exchange with him about a matter of professionalism, which I will not discuss here. He did not come off as a raving lunatic, in terms of his demeanor. But his arguments in court were pretty fantastic, especially his allegation of a widespread conspiracy among democratic cities and counties, across multiple states, to steal the election. Again, that’s nice on TV, but there is nothing in the court record about these matters, as the judge noted in his questions. That’s a problem for them.

    I will also say that if news accounts are true that Giuliani is getting $20,000 a day, every lawyer on our side of the aisle is way underpaid, including those from the big city law firms. At one point, the judge asked what level of scrutiny he should apply to this case. For any lawyer who remembers constitutional law, this relates to analysis under the equal protection clause. The lowest level is rational basis, then intermediate, and finally strict scrutiny. Giuliani plainly had no idea what he was asking. He said, “normal, of course.” The judge asked if he meant rational basis, and Giuliani said yes. That is likely to be a fatal admission. Challengers regularly lose under that level of scrutiny. Giuliani also had difficulty navigating the judge’s questions about something called standing, which is why the Trump campaign and voters have any basis to bring their claims in federal court. They don’t!

    I obviously do not know how the judge will rule, but I am cautiously optimistic that this interesting charade will conclude soon. While this may all be entertaining, it is exhausting and taxing for the lawyers involved. We desperately need a break. As does America. I’m not asking for pity, as the privilege of participating in yet another historic trial is exciting, but this chapter of our history must come to an end. I do believe the end is nigh and that the ending will be one I like. Take care.

    ReplyReply
    6
  50. Northerner says:

    @Kylopod:

    Okay, thanks. I’m not following your elections that closely, and I assumed electorial votes are similar to ridings in parliamentary systems (ie most ridings represent roughly the same population).

    And I agree that ranked or proportional systems aren’t a panacea, but I do believe they’re better than first past the post.

    ReplyReply
    2
  51. Kathy says:

    Four years ago, before Trump was inaugurated but after the election, while arguing about the popular vote in a message board, one idiot* on the Trump side dismissed Hillary’s higher popular vote count by saying “That’s just California votes.”

    Looking at the results of this election, Biden leads Pessimus Trump by about 5.6 million votes nationally. In California his lead is about 5.1 million. So, does California determine the national popular vote winner?

    Surprisingly, no.

    Take Biden’s 79.2 million votes nationally and subtract 10.9 million CA votes, and he gets 68.3 million votes. Take Trump’s 73.4 million nationally and subtract CA’s 5.8 million, and he winds up with 67.6 million nationally.

    So then the difference is around 700,000 in Biden’s favor. Closer, but still indisputably above the mad would-be dictator.

    But ti would be too simple, and maybe effective, to point out to California and claim in a popular vote system, it alone would determine the winner.

    *I actually met the guy in person, and he is an idiot. He sat down at a 6:5 hit on soft 17 blackjack table.

    ReplyReply
    3
  52. Mu Yixiao says:

    Gee. Ms. Fernandez really doesn’t like Biden.

    The Biden plan for Central America: Militarised neoliberal hell

    ReplyReply
    1
  53. Mister Bluster says:

    Sleeping Dog says:
    Wednesday, November 18, 2020 at 12:42
    With Trump still on the scene, it clouds our view of how horrible a person RMN was.

    I am not a crook…
    Richard M. Nixon
    November 17, 1973

    ReplyReply
    1
  54. grumpy realist says:

    @Kathy: The problem with a UBI is that it would just encourage NEETs to stay at home, obsess about how MEEEAN everyone is to them, and do nothing but watch video games and anime.

    Those pilot programs where UBI has turned out to be a godsend for people? I note that it’s never given to people who are unemployed, sitting at home, and mooching off other people. I really really doubt that UBI would do anything for the latter except allow them to buy more expensive gaming equipment. They’ll still be free riders….forever.

    ReplyReply
    2
  55. MarkedMan says:

    It looks like I’m going to have to head back to Nebraska to help a customer with N95 and P100 mask testing and I have to admit I’m really concerned. Not only is it a Republican state, but it is a stupidly Republican state. No mask mandates because socialism. Exponentially climbing caseloads but the newspapers are careful never to correct nonsense, with a mere he said / she said neutral reporting, even when the “he said” is pure gibberish. Only one article about Covid is even above the fold on their website and that’s the always safe “Partying College Students Are Not Being Safe” (I didn’t even bother to read it.). And a dumb-f*ck Republican State Senator who gets into email exchanges with his constituents over his nonsense Trumper theories about the virus and how herd immunity works, insulting them and question their sanity, is written so you could come away thinking him either rude and brusque, or a no-nonsense guy willing to tell it like it is.

    When the state and local officials side with cuckoo-town, how can I trust that any effort will be made to keep public places safe? I feel like I’m having to risk my life because Republican officials are lazy morons incapable of acting for the public good.

    ReplyReply
    2
  56. Monala says:

    @grumpy realist: Those pilot programs also don’t give people enough to live off, just an extra amount of money in their pockets, say (thinking of the program in Stockton, CA), $500 or $1000 a month. What it does is provides people with a cushion for emergencies so the emergency doesn’t derail their lives (e.g., a car repair so they don’t lose their jobs), or that little extra to help them take a step forward in life (e.g., sign up for a training program).

    ReplyReply
    1
  57. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: We’ve done what we can in Washington State. We’re back to Covid case numbers so high that we’re shutting back down beginning yesterday for a lot of businesses. My county has increased it’s case load by 100% over the course of a week.

    I’m just glad that I live in a blue state instead of one of those Covid-ridden red ones. I can’t imagine how bad things would be.

    ReplyReply
    1
  58. grumpy realist says:

    @Monala: The NEETs over at Reddit are dreaming of a day when each of them will get $2000 per month for the rest of their lives.

    I’d rather provide people with a little extra money and free access to training but also require paid employment (and provide the jobs). Anyone who wants to get somewhere, we should help providing a mechanism/path. But if you insist on sitting on your butt and contributing nothing back to the world/society, I don’t see why we have a moral imperative to help bail you out.

    ReplyReply
    1
  59. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: It merely shows how much surplus capital is accumulated when you cut way back on paying people for working. The money has to go somewhere. Owners of capital simply prefer into a black hole over into the pockets of the working poor.

    ReplyReply
    1
  60. Kathy says:

    @grumpy realist:

    They’ll still be free riders….forever.

    Often the efforts to remove free riders costs more, in time and resources, than simply letting them along for the ride.

    ReplyReply
    6
  61. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK:

    What I’m wondering is whether, when this is over, Trump will pay them for enabling this charade.

    You’re so funny! That was hilarious. When does Trump ever pay anybody?

    ReplyReply
  62. Teve says:

    @Monala: when i was poor i found myself in money spirals. One time I bought a car for $1000 and about a year and a half later I couldn’t pay the bill in time to get the tags renewed, so a truck driver at the apartment complex noticed and had it towed, and now I couldn’t afford the hundreds of dollars of towing and storage plus the tags, so I had to just surrender the car. But now I’m forced to get jobs that I can walk to and where I was living in Raleigh that just meant food service, so now my paychecks are shit too. We let people in America fall into grinding poverty. “But at least them blacks ain’t getting my tax dollars to sit around havin babies!”

    ReplyReply
    11
  63. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: And you beat me to it. By several hours it seems. That’s what I get for sleeping in.

    ReplyReply
    2
  64. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: Living wage is an idea whose time has come–so it won’t be permitted to happen except to the extent that owners of capital decide it’s in their interests to pay their employees more–ala Henry Ford. That most entrepreneurial enterprises don’t make big ticket items–or any other ticket items as far as that goes–it’s unlikely to happen here.

    For my money, UBI is a scam propagated by the owners of capital to transfer the cost of production from their own coffers to the tax base–the ultimate free ride. YMMV and I’m old, so you guys can have what you want. I have nothing to lose and everything to gain from such a plan because as a low income, yet holder of wealth, I’m in the best of both worlds.

    ReplyReply
    1
  65. Kathy says:

    @Teve:

    I’ve a feeling their chronic inability to make a profit is due to their inability to cap the number of drivers in a region, which keeps ride prices low.

    They could cap the number of drivers, but then some other ride hailing company would place more in that market. It’s like the fable of the genie in the bottle: once you let him out, how do you bottle him back up?

    It may not be as simple as that, or by now they’d be lobbying for laws to limit the number of ride share vehicles permitted in a given area.

    I recall when the trend started, and specifically when it began in Mexico, the earliest drivers made good money and worked what hours they chose. But back then there were relatively few Uber drivers.

    Of course the whole debacle is far more complicated. Some years back I took an Uber weekly to and from work due to vehicular restrictions in Mexico City. One time a driver told me how he operated. He owned several cars, and hired people to drive them, taking a cut from each ride. he rarely drove himself any more, but with the surge in demand he had to.

    he also told me Uber was paying a bonus for recruiting new drivers, to the person who brought them in. He’d been doing that for weeks, too.

    In effect, he was running his own mini-Uber under Uber’s unknowing auspices.

    Now, hiring drivers for taxi companies, or for independent taxis, is a common practice (also for the minibuses that still provide public transportation). So seeing it blossom in Uber is no surprise. And I suspect the drivers this man hired fared better than those who had to acquire a new car and pay its upkeep (but who knows).

    I’d really like to see an intelligent, well-informed analysis on the whole gig economy.

    ReplyReply
    1
  66. JohnSF says:

    @Kathy:
    @Teve:

    “extractive economic institutions” “redistribution”

    A common pattern of a lot of pre-modern polities was that of a predatory ruling elite extracting wealth almost arbitrarily from the rest of society.

    Very often the ruler was hardly limited by law in the western sense, but only by the limits of state reach, and the need to accommodate the subordinates needed to administer and enforce the system (bureaucrats, religio-legal authorities, soldiers, courtiers).

    Western society was rather different, as due to series of historical accidents, it ended up with multiple semi-autonomous power centres: monarchs, nobles, church, towns.
    None would allow the others absolute ascendancy.
    The peasantry still got squeezed, but the competition and related legal mechanisms meant a western peasant was less thoroughly mulcted than a lot of others were.
    And the less-extractive nature of the western models had enabled the beginning of self sustaining commercial expansion.

    Arguably redistribution was a lot less important early on, as despite all the injustices and exploitation, ordinary people benefited by the labour alternatives to agriculture, the rapid expansion of the “pie”, and the declining relative share of landholders.
    (Though the differences between Europe and US re. redistributive politics are significant).

    We now have a “mature” system to manage, where net material growth is lower, a stabilised elite is more tempted by extraction, and therefore distribution questions become more important.

    ReplyReply
    1
  67. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @An Interested Party: I think that “old Trump in a new bottle” is unlikely because Trump is too old for that. My thinking is that “more respectable nasty Trumpism” is the likely winner simply because established politicians have the edge in political games. Trump was an outlier, not an emerging trend.

    ReplyReply
    1
  68. Teve says:
  69. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Kathy:

    Hubert Horan has a long series of post on Uber and why it doesn’t make financial sense. Great reading

    ReplyReply
  70. Sleeping Dog says:

    I know this will disappoint some of you. I came through Salem, NH this afternoon and the Trump Superstore is closed and cleaned out.

    ReplyReply
    5
  71. Gustopher says:

    @Teve:

    I continue to be Amazed that Uber’s market cap is almost $100 billion. For a scam company that can’t possibly work.

    Doesn’t that depend on what their business model is? You are assuming that they are selling a service to customers, with margins that might someday go from negative to perhaps razor thin positive.

    But really, they are selling a dream to investors. And they are doing a great job of it, to the tune of $100 billion.

    And when people begin asking questions about profits from their main business, they show off fancy self-driving car technology that they claim will make their main business obsolete. All I want to know is what their plans are for disinfecting the self-driving taxis — remove the driver from the taxi, and things get … sticky.

    ReplyReply
    2
  72. Kathy says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Thanks. I’ll look it up.

    ReplyReply
    1
  73. DrDaveT says:

    State EC votes per million pop (2010 census)
    Wyoming 5.28
    District of Columbia 4.99
    Vermont 4.76
    North Dakota 4.44
    Alaska 4.16
    Rhode Island 3.79
    South Dakota 3.66
    Delaware 3.33
    New Hampshire 3.03
    Montana 3.02
    Maine 3.00
    Hawaii 2.93
    Nebraska 2.73
    West Virginia 2.69
    Idaho 2.54
    New Mexico 2.42
    Nevada 2.21
    Utah 2.17
    Kansas 2.10
    Arkansas 2.05
    Mississippi 2.01
    Iowa 1.96
    Connecticut 1.95
    South Carolina 1.94
    Minnesota 1.88
    Alabama 1.87
    Oklahoma 1.86
    Kentucky 1.84
    Oregon 1.82
    Colorado 1.78
    Washington 1.78
    Louisiana 1.76
    Wisconsin 1.75
    National average — (538 * 1 million) / 309,785,186 — 1.74
    Maryland 1.73
    Tennessee 1.73
    Arizona 1.72
    Indiana 1.69
    Massachusetts 1.68
    Missouri 1.66
    Georgia 1.64
    Virginia 1.62
    Michigan 1.61
    New Jersey 1.59
    Pennsylvania 1.57
    North Carolina 1.57
    Ohio 1.56
    Illinois 1.55
    Florida 1.53
    Texas 1.50
    New York 1.49
    California 1.47

    50.4% of the EC votes are controlled by 43.7% of the population. The other 56.3% of the population all live in Virginia, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Ohio, Illinois, Florida, Texas, New York, or California.

    ReplyReply
    1
  74. inhumans99 says:

    This is a repost from another thread as I probably should have put it here first instead of the Anti-Democracy thread which is already old news:

    So on another forum I frequent people got really annoyed that Kamala was seen fist bumping with Graham on the floor of Congress but I basically replied that while not a profile in courage, Graham says things publicly that will make Trump happy but the fist bump speaks volumes about how he feels about Trump’s claim that he won the election. Graham needs to keep saying things to placate Trump until 01/20 and then hopefully, all bets are off.

    I can be hopelessly naïve but even if some members of the GOP conveniently discover they have a spine and can use it after Trump is out of the White House, I will still take what I can get.

    It still blows chunks that folks like Graham are still trying to make Trump happy but yeah….he clearly knows that Biden and Kamala will be in the White House this January.

    Speaking of the White House, I bet Biden continues to work remotely for at least 3-4 weeks past the inauguration date while multiple teams of professional cleaners sanitize the White House. The WH is one big super-spreader hot spot and I have to imagine Biden and Kamala will not set foot in the WH until someone of Fauci’s caliber gives them the all clear to do so.

    ReplyReply
    1
  75. flat earth luddite says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    That graph is way too reminiscent of John Ringo’s “Black Tide Rising” series. Especially the first novel.

    ReplyReply
    1
  76. flat earth luddite says:

    @Teve:
    So, Teve, care to wager how many flips we get when he makes that right turn off the freeway?

    ReplyReply
    1
  77. Teve says:

    @Gustopher: their business model is to bleed investors of $1+ billion per quarter until investors realize rides are fungible and Uber can never be profitable. Uber will never pull in big profits for the same reasons the airlines never made any money. More reasons, too, but the fungibility of rides is a big one.

    ReplyReply
  78. Teve says:

    @flat earth luddite: no idea cause we can’t predict the roll dynamics when the body snaps completely off the suspension. 😀

    ReplyReply
    1
  79. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Maybe they started their Black Friday sales early and sold out.

    ReplyReply
    2
  80. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    I know. I’m a laff riot.

    ReplyReply
    2
  81. Teve says:

    @Gustopher: The self driving car that’s going to save Uber thing makes me laugh too, because according to programmers there are five levels of car automation: none, driver assist, a little autonomous, conditionally autonomous, highly autonomous. And according to the people in the industry, it’s fairly easy to get to conditionally autonomous. The car can drive, say, in daylight, if other drivers act predictably. And going from conditionally autonomous to highly autonomous is like going from the top of a skyscraper to the moon. It’s like virtual reality. Ever since I first heard about it 30 years ago, it’s been right around the corner.

    ReplyReply
    3
  82. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    I was there at about 1:30 p.m., shopping in the Market Basket by the defunct K-Mart. Where was the Trump store?

    ReplyReply
  83. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Teve:

    Lookit this fancy sophisticate.

    I always laugh at lift kits. Your clearance is determined by the transfer box on the axle, not the floor of the cab.

    ReplyReply
    1
  84. Kathy says:

    @Teve:

    The car can drive, say, in daylight, if other drivers act predictably.

    You could make all drivers act predictably, if all cars were autonomous and running on the same rules and protocols. More so if they communicated their intentions to other cars nearby.

    ReplyReply
  85. Kathy says:

    BTW, Disney Plus debuted today in Mexico.

    I expect I’ll sign up Friday (the free trial is 7 days), and binge The Mandalorian, plus whatever else seems interesting. I doubt I’ll want it for long, same as the other services.

    A cable channel, FOX, showed the first two eps. of Mandalorian Sunday evening. Meh so far. Gimmicky (we don’t see his face! we don’t know his name!), and a whole episode about bargaining with Jawas was bizarre. Not the subject matter per se, but it felt like an interlude episode which usually come later in a season, and are increasingly rare in the ten-ep seasons now becoming the norm for drama.

    Also, I may have this all wrong, but take the mask off, give him a Wookie partner, and he’d be Han Solo if Solo had been a bounty hunter.

    ReplyReply
  86. Teve says:

    @Mu Yixiao: when I worked at Carmax they’d buy any car—unless it was a truck with a lift kit. I asked one of my coworkers why and he said it damages the trucks half the time.

    ReplyReply
  87. Teve says:

    @Mu Yixiao: “ . Your clearance is determined by the transfer box on the axle, not the floor of the cab.”

    Yes, but his penis size is determined by total height of the cab.

    ReplyReply
    7
  88. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Teve:

    We let people in America fall into grinding poverty.

    This is what welfare was created to deal with. That is no longer what it is.

    I’m a strong believer in helping people who need help. But I’m opposed to UBI.

    I have three friends who depend heavily on public assistance. Two have Cerebral Palsy, and one has been dealing with arthritis since she was six. Of the first two, one is non-verbal and non ambulatory. She requires a “Hawking rig” to get around and communicate. And she holds a civil service job finding housing for people with disabilities.

    The second (with CP) needs a special set-up on his car (he can’t push the pedals with his legs). He’s a database manager.

    The last (with RA) needs thousands of dollars of medicine just to walk. She got her PhD on scholarships, and is a researcher doing “brain science” (don’t ask, I don’t understand it).

    I am more than happy for my tax dollars to go to people like these to get what they need. Even though they’re costing more in tax dollars than they’re contributing–they’re contributing.

    And I’m more than happy to support those who can’t survive on their own (e.g., severe mental or physical disability) and are incapable of contributing. Though… that group is a hell of a lot smaller than people think.*

    But I’m opposed to just “throwing money at poverty” and thinking it’ll fix anything. It never has. Dealing with poverty requires investment, effort, understanding, and the ability to treat those in need with respect rather than just “a problem to be fixed”.

    I’m curious: In the case of your car, did you look for assistance? (That’s not snark, that’s an honest question). There are a lot of civic and religious groups that provide assistance for situations just like that. It would have been a one-time or short-term gift so you could either make car payments or get your tags. My area (about 6k) has 2 orgs dedicated to free assistance for necessities, and there are over 70 community organizations and a dozen churches (that I know of) that offer appropriate help to those who need it.

    I can’t afford to donate money to these orgs but, through my newspaper, I give them publicity which has resulted in at least $25k in donations–and hopefully a lot more people in need knowing that this assistance exists.

    10-15 years ago I had a number of young friends in their early 20’s who were struggling. I couldn’t afford to give them money, but they all knew that they could stop by any time and I’d give them a hot, home-cooked meal and/or let them do their laundry. If there was a task I could do–rather than calling a professional–I was always willing. I knew those little bits would free up more money for them (and more than it cost me) so they could pay for other things. They’re all doing quite well now (and probably pulling in a much larger income than I am).

    That’s an investment I was more than happy to make.

    Giving everyone a grand a month just because they exist? Sorry. No.

    =======
    * When I was in China, I met an Israeli couple** with whom I became good friends. They operate a workshop that trains mentally handicapped people to do assembly and other factory-type work. And then they contract with local factories to do outsourced work. This is detail work like wire-harness assembly. The workshop charges market rates and the workers are paid market wages and bonuses–as well as getting a support network and training in life-skills. The last time I talked to them, they had just purchased new equipment and expanded their workforce to keep up with the demand. This is in a country where the mentally handicapped are hidden away in shame.

    ** That’s a fun story for another time, but it ends with the moral: Never be afraid to say “hello”.

    ReplyReply
    1
  89. gVOR08 says:

    @Teve: Saw a Trump pickup a couple days ago. Just a regular pickup, with a big white flag. But apparently the campaign was buying cheap foreign made flags. The flag was so frayed it read,

    TRUI
    NO MORE BU

    (That would work better if I could change font size.)
    I love that “Trump, No more bullshit” line. Hard to imagine any greater detachment from reality.

    ReplyReply
    3
  90. DrDaveT says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Your clearance is determined by the transfer box on the axle, not the floor of the cab.

    It’s not about clearance; it’s about looking down on the peons. The only thing he wants to be able to drive over is libruls.

    ReplyReply
    4
  91. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Kathy:

    You could make all drivers act predictably, if all cars were autonomous and running on the same rules and protocols.

    Until you hit reality.

    I drive rural backroads to and from work*. There are no road markings. There are very few signs (mostly “narrow bridge”–which is just a culvert over a ditch). How well do you think autonomous cars would work out here?

    Yesterday there was a small herd of deer in the woods just off the road. They were deciding which way to run when they heard me coming. How will autonomous cars deal with that? Are they even programmed to recognize deer? Or moose? (Do you know what happens when a car hits a moose? The car never wins.)

    What happens when a car blows a tire and suddenly swerves? What happens when a car suddenly stops because the engine through a rod? Or doesn’t stop because the brakes fail? Or it slides all over the place because of black ice? Or it can’t see anything because it’s snowing at a rate of an inch an hour with 20 mph winds?

    Autonomous driving is based on the notion that everyone has perfect cars and will only be driving in cities or on major highways in perfect weather.


    * I could take state & county highways, but I get there just as fast and I don’t have to deal with any traffic. Plus it’s a much more pretty route.

    ReplyReply
    1
  92. Mu Yixiao says:

    Out for the night.

    Need to meet the mayor for the paper, then go to sleep.

    ReplyReply
  93. Teve says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    But I’m opposed to just “throwing money at poverty” and thinking it’ll fix anything. It never has.

    You’re wrong about that, it often does fix the problem. We threw money at Social Security and that was maybe the biggest anti-poverty success the country has ever seen.

    Retired workers account for the majority of the program’s recipients; however, 14 percent of beneficiaries are disabled workers and 17 percent are the survivors of deceased workers or spouses and children of retired workers. The researchers from the University of Chicago found that while Social Security reduced the rate of poverty among households with elderly residents by 75 percent, it also reduced poverty among households led by a disabled recipient by 33 percent. Those rates far exceeded reductions resulting from programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Housing Assistance, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

    Sometimes what you need to do is literally just throw money at the problem.

    linky

    That’s just one set of studies of course, I wouldn’t say they’re definitive, but they’re very suggestive.

    ReplyReply
    1
  94. gVOR08 says:

    @grumpy realist:

    I really really doubt that UBI would do anything for the latter except allow them to buy more expensive gaming equipment. They’ll still be free riders….forever.

    Saw a story years ago, failed to save a link and I’ve forgotten details, but it concerned a British philanthropist sometime in the nineteenth century. He was supporting a soup kitchen that provided meals to the poor. They had a strict rule, no alcohol. A lot of people stayed away. He decided his role was to provide meals not to enforce his morality on others. And they were going to drink anyway. He opened up a new operation and allowed alcohol. Didn’t have much trouble and fed a lot more people.

    If we arrive at robots, or Star Trek replicators, doing all the work and very few meaningful jobs to be had, most people are going to be free riders.

    ReplyReply
    2
  95. DrDaveT says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Giving everyone a grand a month just because they exist? Sorry. No.

    Even if literally everyone were better off under that system?

    It’s a serious question. Is there any point in debating whether that would be true, or does it not matter? I know people for whom it does not matter — they would rather everyone be worse off than that anyone profit from free-riding. That seems wildly irrational to me, but it’s a real thing.

    ReplyReply
    6
  96. Teve says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    What happens when a car blows a tire and suddenly swerves? What happens when a car suddenly stops because the engine through a rod? Or doesn’t stop because the brakes fail? Or it slides all over the place because of black ice? Or it can’t see anything because it’s snowing at a rate of an inch an hour with 20 mph winds?

    Autonomous driving is based on the notion that everyone has perfect cars and will only be driving in cities or on major highways in perfect weather.

    That’s what’s called conditional autonomy or level three. Apparently getting from there to level four is a massive engineering challenge. The human brain is the most complex computer that has ever arisen and informed by millions of years of instinct and we still have a million accidents in the US every year.

    I do expect self driving cars to be the norm within my lifetime, but it’s been around the corner five years from now for a few decades. 😀

    ReplyReply
    2
  97. Kathy says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    I’ve seen neither rural roads, nor deer on city streets.

    I’ve seen straw men, though.

    ReplyReply
    8
  98. Teve says:

    @DrDaveT: we don’t worry about what Bill Gates’s daughter will manage to do with her life. We don’t worry about how Warren Buffett’s grandkids will find meaning in things. For some reason with poor people we think they’ll just sit on the couch watching Jersey Shore all day. And I’m fine with that. I don’t have this puritanical belief that regardless of our ability to feed and clothe and house everybody we should make everybody go to some drudgery every day. I’m cool with people taking some time off. Work for work’s sake is some Ebenezer Scrooge stuff. We’ve internalized work==worth. No, I can take the buckle off my hat brim.

    ReplyReply
    7
  99. Teve says:

    @Mu Yixiao: that differential is what, maybe 14” off the ground?

    ReplyReply
  100. flat earth luddite says:

    @Loviatar:

    what should be the consequences if this woman sickened or killed your family member.

    @Teve:

    I just binged the first three seasons of The Blacklist, so all kinds of terrible things are coming to mind

    Why I couldn’t watch the original Batman show with my friends, especially when their parents were in the room. When Part 1 was over, and our heroes were in dreadful peril, I’d always think to myself “Why all this fuss? Just shoot ’em in the head.” This failure on my part demonstrates why I’m not allowed out to play. Also why I don’t write scripts. Never gets past the first “hero in peril” spot.

    I would add that I’m generally against the death penalty, primarily because the way it’s administered does not promote justice, and is not cost effective in its current U.S. model. That being said, I have personally known people who were worth, at most, the price of a bullet. I suspect, if I knew her, she’d be one I’d add to the list.

    ReplyReply
    2
  101. grumpy realist says:

    @Teve: I wouldn’t be surprised if the trucking industry becomes more or less automatic, at least going from (large shipping site just outside City X) to (large shipping site just outside City Y).

    Of course, they’ll finally have to fix that end of the Pennsylvania Turnpike known as Breezewood….

    ReplyReply
  102. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: Yeah, right. s// directed at them, not you.

    ReplyReply
  103. wr says:

    @Mu Yixiao: “I’m curious: In the case of your car, did you look for assistance? (That’s not snark, that’s an honest question).”

    I’m sure it is an honest question, and I’m sure you think you’re helping. But really you’re just patronizing, and going back to the standard American value: If you’re poor, it’s your fault.

    Most people who are this poor are already working multiple jobs. Often they’re caring for children or parents, as well. They pay more for everything, are taxed harder than the rich, and don’t get a fraction of the services.

    And when they have a real setback like this, it’s a crisis. Because they now have to walk to work every day, and that’s taking what little free time they might or might not have had.

    And you, helpful American conservative, have this useful advice for them — have you thought about calling around cold to all sorts of churches or organizations that might be able to help you but probably won’t? Sure, your phone has been cut off because you lost your job when you couldn’t drive to work, but sure you could knock on all the neighbors’ doors and ask if you can use their phones.

    And if you actually find a phone, you can spend hours you don’t have explaining your situation, giving up all your dignity as you beg for money.

    Of course, if you were one of the “good ones” — you know, the quadriplegics who are still able to dance with the Bolshoi — then maybe you’d reach a level of moral superiority where I would consider letting you have some government support. But barring that, this is what your bootstraps are for.

    As I said, I really do believe you think you’re compassionate here. But mostly you just sound like Dickens’ Mr. Gradgrind.

    It would do you a world of good to read Barbara Erenreich’s Nickeled and Dimed and try to get some understanding of how people really live in this rich country.

    ReplyReply
    8
  104. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Teve: Good question, do tell….

    ReplyReply
  105. Teve says:

    @grumpy realist: that would be what they would call conditional or level three autonomy. You can do it. A long haul truck moving from I 10 to I 95, you could generally do it.

    ReplyReply
  106. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mu Yixiao: But I’m opposed to
    UBI.

    Not me. As long as the richest of the rich have it, I figure us poor working fucks who give it to their fat lazy asses deserve a UBI too.

    ReplyReply
    6
  107. Teve says:

    @wr: the spiral of poverty makes me mad. This $10 inability to pay, becomes a $100 loss, becomes a $1,000 loss.

    ReplyReply
    4
  108. Teve says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: UBI might be the redistribution corrective that rebalances the last 40 years.

    ReplyReply
    2
  109. Jax says:

    Our County Health Officer requested and received a variance from the Governor for a mask order. The usual suspects are on the county yard sale pages on Facebook suggesting 2nd Amendment Solutions™ , but from what I saw on my trip to town today, most people seem fine with it.

    ReplyReply
    1
  110. Teve says:

    If they can take $1 Trillion to straight up save the Wall Street banks, can they wipe my $20,000s of student loans?

    ReplyReply
    4
  111. Kathy says:

    The cryogenic vaccine storage got me thinking about Dippin’ Dots. That’s an ice cream brand, manufactured at really low temps, and stored at -40C (-40 F strangely enough). My older brother worked at the master franchise here for a few months (last I heard, they fizzled out and can’t be found any longer in Mexico).

    So I got to try the product, and I learned a few things about it. They have freezers that can keep -40 C, and they used dry ice for transport. You can consume flash frozen ice cream at -40 C without ill effects, too. I think the colder they were, the less I sensed any flavor at all.

    ReplyReply
  112. Sleeping Dog says:

    @CSK:

    In Salem Center in an old grocery at the intersection of Main St and School St. From the Mkt Basket go north on 28 till you get to Main (Rt 97) go right on Main ~4 miles. Or go up Lawrence Rd to Main go right about a 1/2 mile. If you were to continue on Main another mile or so lands you in Methuen.

    ReplyReply
    1
  113. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: Have never watched the show and am going on the basis of something I read in passing somewhere, but my impression is that he’s supposed to be either Boba Fett or one of his forbearers. That’s what I’d be assuming, at least.

    But so far this new season, TV has been a disappointment. All but one of the shows (the 3-5 total that there were) that I’ve seen new seasons of so far have demonstrated that the concepts are used up. But because I stream using Roku and Hulu, the only “networks” that I watch current programming on are CBS and CW. Fortunately, I was gone for 8 years (1o if you count that when I lived in Vancouver, WA, my TV only received 2 network stations), so there’s a lot of stuff that I haven’t seen from while I was gone.

    ReplyReply
    2
  114. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mu Yixiao: Yeah. 😀 😛 But in real world terms, when I’ve seen people in transportation talking about driverless cars, they also seem to be talking about discrete, designated roadways where there are only other driverless cars. We all ready have that technology–it’s called light rail and subway systems.

    ReplyReply
  115. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: Yeah, looks like about that. But since he’s running tractor/trailer sized tires and hubs, he’s probably about half again or more higher than his pick up clearance would be.

    I wouldn’t take the rig off road because it’s probably as top heavy and a rig can get, though. So I still wonder what the point is. Penis size to height ratio seems like a valid explanation, all right. 😛

    ReplyReply
    2
  116. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @flat earth luddite: Exceptions to every rule, zeeb. That’s why Kant, I believe, suggested that the measure of morality isn’t what happens when one person is permitted to do something but rather what happens when everyone MUST do it.

    ReplyReply
  117. An Interested Party says:

    We threw money at Social Security and that was maybe the biggest anti-poverty success the country has ever seen.

    Without Social Security, the poverty rate among seniors would be near 40%…with Social Security, the poverty rate is just under 10% (source)…it’s the easiest thing in the world to issue a pithy “Sorry. No.” and talk about how great private charities are, but heaven forbid that the government should actually do anything to alleviate poverty…of course, such thinking is expected from a libertarian…this reminds me of an article I recently read about the book Hillbilly Elegy…as the author mentions, it’s hard to pick yourself up by the bootstraps if you don’t even own boots…

    ReplyReply
    3
  118. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: Okay. I’d be willing to consider it from that perspective. Can we set it up via some kind of income/capital redistribution system rather than via deficit financing/taxing the workers? (I know, I’m never satisfied.)

    ReplyReply
    1
  119. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Have never watched the show and am going on the basis of something I read in passing somewhere, but my impression is that he’s supposed to be either Boba Fett or one of his forbearers.

    Geez, I hope not.

    I must admit I’ve read nothing about the show, though i couldn’t help but learn of the baby Yoda character. he was everywhere.

    ReplyReply
  120. Monala says:

    @wr: I work for a human services agency that provides small dollar emergency financial assistance to people (among other services). But there are restrictions: it has to be for a specific need that we can pay for directly (e.g., we’ll pay the tow company, or utility company, or the DMV on your behalf) rather than giving the person cash; people can only get emergency assistance once per year; and many times in a given month, we run out of money before everyone with a need has received assistance. And of course, people have to know the service exists, and still have to apply for it.

    ReplyReply
  121. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy: He is not Boba Fett.

    I’ve been really enjoying the show. It’s a spaghetti western in space. The Clint Eastwood man with no name, except a bit of a sad sack.

    ReplyReply
    3
  122. flat earth luddite says:

    @Kathy:
    Just a reminder that, as all those birds have been on the ground for two years, even if maintenance has been performed, they’re basically going to require a full mechanical/electrical teardown, inspection, and recertification. Then, and only then, will the new, improved software get installed, and the birds get re-tested and re-certified again. In the meantime, all pilots and flight engineer types, mechanic types, and support staff all undergo retraining/recertification. This fuster-cluck takes time. I doubt we’ll see very many of these birds back in the air before Q2 2021, if then.

    ReplyReply
    1
  123. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    I know it well. Thanks.

    ReplyReply
  124. JohnSF says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    re. autonomous vehicles
    Here’s my prediction (for what it’s worth)

    The future of autonomous vehicles is in urban/suburban zones where the almost all other traffic is excluded. (Europe is already seeing steps in this direction with increasingly tight vehicle use restrictions in some cities). And where roads can be modified for suitability.
    And it may not be as the primary transit mode, but a secondary to mass transit, to handle the things mass transit systems cant: the “final miles” problem, light and personal goods/luggage transport, short trips and “across the grain” journeys.

    It is never likely to be viable in rural areas, long distances, or even small towns without the funds for the road modifications and transit systems needed.

    ReplyReply
    1

Speak Your Mind

*