Unintended Consequences


Unintended consequences are the bane of social engineers. They are why the “Scientific” and centralized method of governance never worked and will never work. (Sorry, guys, it just won’t.)

Part of it is because humans are contrary. Part of is because humans are chaotic. And part of it is be cause like weather systems, societies are so complex it’s almost impossible to figure out what a push in any given place will cause to happen in another place.

This is why price controls are the craziest of idiocies. They don’t work in the way they’re intended, but oh, they work in practically all the ways they’re not. So, take price controls on rent. All they really do is create a market in which housing is scarce, landlords don’t maintain their property AND the only people who can afford to live in cities that have rent control are the very wealthy.

BUT Sarah, you say, aren’t rent controls supposed to make them affordable. Yeah. All that and the good intentions will allow you to go skating in hell on the fourth of July weekend.

Let’s be real, okay? I saw rent control up close and personal in Portugal. Rents were controlled and landlords were penalized for “not keeping the property up”.

In Portugal at the time, and here too, most of the time from what I’ve seen, the administration of property might be some management company, but that’s not who OWNS the damn thing. The owners are usually people who bought the property so it would support them in old age/lean times.

To begin with, you’re removing these people’s ability to make money off their legitimately owned property. And no, they’re not the plutocrats bernie bros imagine. These are often people just making it by.

Second, people are going to get the money some other way, because the alternative is dying. And people don’t want to die or be destitute. So they’re going to find the money. I have no idea what it is in NYC, etc, but in Portugal? it was “key buying.”  Sure, you can rent the house for the controlled price, but you have to make a huge payment upfront to “buy the key.” From what I remember this was on the order of a small house down payment. And if you couldn’t do that, you were stuck getting married and living with your parents.  And if you say “greedy landlords” — well, see the other thing you could do was leave the lease in your will. So the landlord didn’t know if they’d ever get control of their property back, and they needed to live off this for x years (estimated length of life.)  So, that was an unintended consequence. The kind that keeps surfacing in rent-controlled cities in the US.

The same applies to attempts to “help” the homeless.  Part of this, as part of all attempts to “fix” poverty is that the people doing it, usually the result of generations of middle class parents and strives assume the homeless and the poor are people like them.

To an extent, they’re correct. The homeless and the poor are PEOPLE. But culture makes a difference, and culture is often based on class and place of upbringing. And the majority of humanity, judging by the world, might be made to strive but are not natural strivers. Without incentive, most of humanity sits back, relaxes and takes what it’s given.

Look, we’re a scavenger ape species. Sitting back and eating what you have is a good survival trait. Because the tribes of overachievers, who actually went out and hunted might live better, but if they don’t stop hunting when they already have three giant mammoths rotting in the cave, they’re just going to starve next month when there are no more mammoth.  So, given no incentive, humans do not work. Most humans. Yes, some of us are broken. And the incentives changed enough over the last hundred years that the broken ones thrived. But that doesn’t mean most of humanity wants to strive for the heck of striving. (And those of us who do tend to be more neurotic than a shaved cat, to be honest.)

So when you assume that poor people are poor because “they have too many demands” (look up bee sting theory, I covered it, I THINK on this blog) and therefore become overwhelmed, you go in entirely the wrong way and the results are epic and unintended.

Which is why our programs to deal with the poor or worse the homeless mostly create more poverty and homelessness. And the people running it refuse to process the results because “that’s not what should be happening.”

Look, every minimum income that’s been tried results in less productivity, greater poverty (people try to live within the free money, no matter how tight) and just general aimlessness and squalor. But very smart people will keep insisting on them, because it’s not the way THEY’d react to minimum income.

Anyway, so, I’m highly amused with the press’s crusade to make Covid-19 into the black death.

Note that I’m not saying there won’t be deaths.  There is a potential for a high number of deaths particularly mid health care workers and the elderly. As someone who has friends in both groups, and frankly who catches everything that crosses the street and usually catches it twice and really bad cases, I am of course concerned.

But the numbers are not black death. The high estimate, back of the envelope, among friends, if the US goes like the Diamond Princess is around 1 million.

The US is however not likely to go China, or Italy. We just don’t have the same systemic weirdness those countries have. And Diamond Princess is absolutely the worst case scenario.  We’ll probably get a “bad flu season” hit, which is STILL hundreds of thousands.

The panic itself, though, is going to cause damage to the economy and eventually deaths.  Because the economy is not “greed” or “you want money”, it’s how we live. There are going to be people laid off who are stressed and weakened and might die. There are going to be supplies that don’t reach those who need them because of economic turmoil and panic. And all of that — all of that — is goofy. And not needed.

But you see, the press is on the side of the social engineers. They’re trying to engineer panic and ruin, because then they can get the party of the “best people” who “know what they’re doing” in power and — they think, for a stretch goal — get universal health care in too.  So they’re pounding the drum and screaming black death as hard as they can.

For a comparison to how they treated the Swine Flu, which is probably on the same level but hit the young instead of the old, read Lilek’s excellent post.  Only, you know, the Swine Flu it was their precious social engineer in charge, not Orange man bad. So, there was no panic. None.

The problem is the press is…. well… let’s say most members of the 4th estate (Lord, was there ever a more vainglorious self-appellation?) were never as bright as they thought they  were. And it’s not got any better by hiring for political conformity with the social engineer crazy.

I’m going to point out a few things they might have not thought of:

You can’t keep the panic up forever, unless there are body-collection carts making the rounds. You just can’t. You can only inflate the few casualties so long. Sooner or later, people are going to tweak.

And then two things happen: First, they notice that you age, once again, not just lying but being crazy. And you lose a little more of your ability to convince people. Probably well before the election.

People are being stampeded into telecommuting. The thing is, dear media, once that happens, you can’t put it back in the bottle.

For two decades now, telecommuting and distance learning have been perfectly possible and even, frankly, beneficial. What has held it back is managers afraid they don’t know how to manage at a distance, corporations who think mega cubicle farms are a great way to be “important” and a general sense that only us, ne’er do wells, work in our pajamas on the sofa (I’ll have you know I’m wearing a sweatshirt and yoga pants. Never mind.)

If the panic lasts even two months (and the press will ensure it does before it collapses under its own weight) that reluctance to telecommute is going to be blown to hell. For one, once workers taste of THAT fruit, just anecdotally, 90% of them LOVE it. (The other 10% have very annoying children or spouses.)

And in the wake of the financial panic and wobbles, corporations are going to notice that they spend a lot less money when most of the workers work from home. At some point, they’ll also realize that they need much smaller facilities if they need facilities at all. And hey, money.

This will cause all sorts of other things, which I think will lead within two years to an exodus from the big cities everyone has crammed into because it’s where the jobs are.  I think in turn this will lead to a world the social engineers really don’t like.

Other side effects are not going to be pleasing to them, either. I think this ends up killing bookstores. And since that’s the only hold the traditional publishers have on the market… well, wave bye bye, it’s been nice knowing them.

And btw, not everyone is stupid. The difference in how the virus was handled here and in Europe, no matter how much the media screams and hollers, is not going to be centralized government health care looking good.  In fact, it will probably bury the idea once and for all.

And the one thing ALREADY becoming clear is that we can’t afford to do business with totalitarian countries that will lie to us, or to have completely open borders to them. Or really to anyone. You can scream “racist” all you want, but nationalities are not races, and viruses don’t care. The end of this will be sensible border control. Sorry if you won’t like it, media, you brought it on yourselves. You could have treated this like you treated swine flu, and not hurt the economy, but your senseless fury against Orange Man Bad is leading you to all those unintended consequences…. We’ll enjoy them.  We don’t know about you.

Other unintended consequences MIGHT come from the virus itself, including the fact that, apparently, there’s far, far fewer drugs coming in, which is having an interesting effect in our urban fauna.  And who’ll know what the unintended consequences of THAT will be.

Stay calm. The one thing we know is that historically the unintended consequences always bite the social engineers in the butt.

Buy stocks of popcorn.



303 thoughts on “Unintended Consequences

  1. Unintended consequences? O didn’t intend for there to be any unintended consequences! Those were not in the plans!

      1. “There oughta be a law.” Now there is a phrase to strike terror into the hearts of men {and dragons, and Minotaurs, and main battle tanks, and . . . }

        1. Right up there with “There oughta be a law!”, is “If they can put a man on the moon, they should be able to solve (insert problem here).:

          Well …

          You could say that since the government put men on the moon
          That they’ll handle all this stuff just fine …
          But I recall all the effort that it took to put ’em there
          Just a half a dozen times

          What makes our leaders think they can even come close
          To gettin’ all the answers right
          When all the answers have to be right over each and every one
          Of three hundred million lives

          Despite their erudition
          And academic pedigree
          The Best and the Brightest look instead
          Like a box of dim bulbs to me

          They can barely handle stuff that’s one-size-fits-all
          Let alone for you specifically
          The Best and the Brightest look instead
          Like a box of dim bulbs to me …
          … Like a box of dim bulbs to me

          1. My answer to “If they can put a man on the moon” has always been “Putting a man on the moon is an engineering problem. Poverty is a sociological problem. And Sociology is voodoo.”

    1. Exactly. The Left believes only in what it intends, thus paving the road to Hell. That’s why the Left condemns any teaching of Practical Wisdom/Prudence.

      1. And then the rest of us? “And the gods of the copybook headings limped up to explain ti once more!”

  2. Some unintended consequences (e.g., effects of rent control) are so predictable it has become difficult to believe they are truly unintended.

    1. Unintended and unpredictable aren’t quite the same thing. It’s just that the ones putting the activities in place are so bone-stupid about what effects those activities will actually cause that they can’t comprehend that the quite predictable outcomes aren’t remotely what they intend.

      1. If you toss a cinder-block in the air, it is predictable that it will indeed land. That you intended it to remain aloft is irrelevant.

        “Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.”
        — Daniel Webster

    2. There are unintended consequences, and there are side effects. The intended consequence of Rent Control is the reelection of the P̶a̶r̶a̶s̶i̶t̶e̶s̶ Politicians who support it. A secondary consequence, intended but not the core reason for the policy, is the support of cheap rent for the kind of wealthy patrons who donate to political campaigns. The loss of housing, suppression of maintenance, etc are simply side effects.

      And awful lot of the policies pushed by the Progressive Left are much more explicit able once you understand that the Political Elite consider the average voter to be only slightly smarter than the average farm animal.

  3. The Real Cause of “unintended consequences” is the Trickster.

    He/She/It just loves to spoil the extremely elaborate plans of beings who think up “can’t fail plans”. 😈

  4. Much less the unintended consequence of pushing parents into homeschooling by any other name for it. Given the infrastructure is already there, privately, this may get truly interesting on the “Why are we sending Shaniqua and Krystal back to that hellhole when they do so much better with DistanceEd?”

    And on distanceEd in universities… why are we paying for all these on-campus extras when we can just do the work at night and around a job?

    1. From my brief experience in college, only the TAs would see much change; administration and higher-ranked professors don’t deal directly with students anyway.

      1. Where’d you go to school? I had access to my professors from the time I was a freshman. Mind, individual access in my first semester chemistry class whose class was two stories would have been ummm limited.

        1. I had full access to my professor’s too. TA’s were regulated to labs, class study hours, test prep, etc. I think in 425 hours (2 bachelors & one AA), I had 16 hours of credit that were TA’s not professor taught; all of them were summer classes. (Oregon State University, Lower Columbia College, University of Oregon)

      2. Huh. All my classes were taught by profs. Ok, it was engineering, which may be a tad different.

    2. One of my best friends had a similar experience: she had a serious illness, her mother picked up her work for her to do at home, but tragically for the school, Mom actually looked into the packet and saw what that “work” was. “Really? THIS is what you’re doing all day in school? Why don’t you just skip the entire rest of the semester if this is all they expect you to learn?”

      For the universities, it’s going to depend on who’s making the decisions: the way that the universities are marketing themselves, “all these on-campus extras” is the point. I remember listening to a lot of university presidents talk about, “The most important lessons you learn will be outside the classroom,” and wanting to snark, “In which case why are we paying the cost of a small house for the lessons INSIDE the classroom…”

      1. The problem is, justifying $10,000+ price difference per year with a gym and Women’s Center won’t wash when the job outcomes are the same.

        Already, Z is teaching a lot of undergrad classes in rehab counselling online as a PhD student (she’ll go from TA to instructor of record come fall) and some of those are for on campus students.

        If you can teach non-clinical mental health for a quarter of the price when someone can stay at home and work school around the same part time job they had in HS, those amenities won’t encourage people to cover the cost difference. It won’t take many students making the switch to create a negative feed back of “higher prices for amenities mean fewer people paying it meaning higher prices”

      2. You know why gender studies is a crock of sh1t? It’s because I don’t understand women any better than I did before, it never improved my ability to get a date, and the number of companies that will pay you for it in this country can be counted on one hand..

        1. I don’t understand women any better than I did before,

          NObody understands women, including especially women.

          Each is an individual, precious and valued … and bat-[crap] crazy.

          As opposed to men, each of whom is dumb as a stump – especially the “smart” ones.

    3. Yep. Z is working on her PhD and while she thinks her field won’t be affected much by distance learning (internship hours in mental health need on site supervision and skills teaching) and a lot of STEM will still need labs, even she figures by the time she has tenure (if she gets it) English/History/etc will not have much on campus.

      Even undergrad psych, i.e. non-clinical work, won’t have a real on campus presence.

      1. Even with STEM, the labs (through the BS level) tend to concentrate in the first couple of years, and could be done at a junior college, at least the ones in the 1970s. Do JCs do chem labs now?

        The more advanced courses could have been (mostly) distance learning. I had two labs my senior year that needed specialized equipment, but I could see having to go to the big U campus only that one year.

        My MS program was designed for working engineers and had no labs. All could be done via distance learning.

        1. AA degree & second Bachelor’s (computer programming & computer design) could have been 100% online, including all the math I had to take, despite having the prior degree.

          Now first Bachelor’s. Lectures yes, could have been on line. Labs no. Not even most the in building labs. In fact one of the advantages that Oregon State has for their Forestry programs is that McDonald Forest is close enough to incorporate lab hours with lectures during the term classes are taken. Allowing summers to actually work in the forestry field if one is lucky enough to get a seasonal position. That is extremely rare for other Forestry programs. The students have to pay for summer school to do the Forestry Labs. While other students were taking their Dendrology, Timber Cruise, Log Scaling, and other labs, during their summers, I was interning, first summer, or actually doing that work my second, third, and 4th summers; by the time I graduated, I had 15 months field work experience (lucky enough that it wasn’t Wildland fire crew experience). OTOH, Labs at OS, often included being wet and cold. Granted, it has been 41 years since I graduated. Spotted Owl has gotten in the way of jobs. Things have changed, a lot. I’m sure the program has too. McDonald Forest, however, is still right next door to Corvallis.

          1. NC State sold off Shenk (spelling, sorry) Forest right next to the football stadium; there’s office buildings there now, I think. I had taken orienteering as a PE there. After a court fight, Hoffmann Forest stayed, I think, but it’s two or more hours away and was willed to provide income. I guess there’s a closer classroom forest, maybe. There’s still a viable Foresty Program there, however, the last I heard.

            1. Not saying Oregon State School of Forestry is the only program with this advantage. But it is one of the few. McDonald Forest isn’t on campus, but less than 30 minutes away. Other advantage is the weather. Snow rarely an issue. Labs occurred regardless of weather. I froze during more than one lab because I couldn’t afford the proper weather outerwear to keep me 100% dry. I was either, or close to, too cold, more than once. At 18/19/20/21, being female, I’d have dropped before I said a word … now OTOH, forget that.

              Orienteering. When hubby & I were taking adult scouting training, there was an map and compass instruction ending with a small orienteering layout. Not big enough that everyone was super spread out, but only two of the group even came close to the invisible “X” marks the stop. That was only because we couldn’t stand on each other. Our response to “how’d you do that” was “We could have taught the section. Occupational hazard.” Even though neither of us had used it working, other than recreational (hiking/backpacking), by then for 20 years.

        2. Speaking as someone with B.S. and M.S. Geology degrees, who was a Biology major for 3 years before that, that’s more false than true. I had plenty of classes with separate lab classes all the way through to graduation at both levels.

          1. When I was in college (you know, when dinosaurs were roaming; mid-’70s) classes + lab were one class. So a 5 credit class (most the Forestry ones) were 3 one hour lectures, and 2 labs (generally messed with scheduling Tuesday or Thursday classes because lab was off campus & 2 or 3 hours + travel). Chemistry 4 credit, 3 one hour lectures, 1 hour lab. Etc.

            When son was in college, within last 10 years, it had changed. Same university. Classes & labs were separate (ish). Required to sign up for the lab. But hours separate on transcripts. Chemistry became 3 credits, and 1 credit lab.

    4. Every single one of my education websites that has a learning app sent out an email today, explaining how to use their website for “learning at home when the school is closed.”

      Oh my goodness, yes on the gateway to homeschooling.

  5. > They’re trying to engineer panic and ruin, because then they can get the party of the “best people” who “know what they’re doing” in power

    They’ll be first to the gulags; news will be announced by the State so their functions will be redundant, they know too much, they will expect privileges for their “help”, and they’re too stupid and self-important to STFU.

    The fellow-travelers always get purged first because they’ve already proved they’re traitors.

  6. China’s claiming the number of new cases is in the single digits, but I don’t believe a word they say. They covered this up for months and arrested a doctor who attempted to blow the whistle. The hysteria alone is likely to crash the world economy, even if the numbers of deaths are relatively few. Which the conspiracy theorist in me says the progressives are trying to force so Trump will be a one-term President.

      1. But Saraaaaah, not trusting what totalitarian regimes say is racist! All the smart people say so!

      2. As predictable as the sun popping up in the east, China is now blaming the USA for the Wuhan virus.

        They are a hostile foreign power, and some folks foolishly think otherwise.

      3. Oh, you can trust them plenty, you just have to know their tells.

        For example, when they say the world will be our oyster, or suggest that countries that know where their best interests lie will not obstruct China, or that Tibet is and has always been an integral part of China, …

        In short, any time China says, “Get out of our way” you can trust them.

  7. Had a discussion with the younger generation about the homeless and how my parents and grandparents dealt with homeless/bums and “travellers” before widespread federal aid and “shitting on the sidewalk is protected free speech ” nonsense.

    Communities dealt with the them in three ways. One was to run them out of town. Two was the poor house or the county work farm. Three was the asylum.

    There was a safety net. The churches and families that helped the truly needy. And odd jobs for the hobos that would do some work. But everyone worked or had family that supported them. A small town might tolerate a few harmless drunks that survived war in in Europe or the Pacific, but a horde of sponges that interfered with “normal life” wasn’t allowed. We had a nearby family of grifters and thieves that got burned out twice before they understood not to mess with folks that spent 2 straight years island hopping or in a winter in a fox hole in Korea.

    1. A small town might tolerate a few harmless drunks that survived war in in Europe or the Pacific, but a horde of sponges that interfered with “normal life” wasn’t allowed.

      Not to mention, men who came back from the war broken enough to become drunks were often seen as having worked, for everyone, and care for them a civic duty to repay their sacrifice.

      Not the same for baby-mamas and gang bangers.

  8. I don’t think this will be the thing that reverses the trend of urbanization. I’m banking on the “flying car”/”urban air mobility vehicle”/”passenger-carrying drone” to do that. But something must.

    We can’t sustain a republic with >50% of the voters in a few mega-urban-blocks

    And we can’t sustain a nation with a long-term demographic collapse, and urban-dwellers just don’t have children at anywhere near replacement level.

    So making it not just possible, but attractive, for people to live their lives and NOT have to move to Seattle/SF/LA/NY/Boston/DC is really vital.

    1. > I’m banking on the “flying car”/”urban air mobility vehicle”/”passenger-carrying drone” to do that. But something must.

      Barring antigravity, yabba rays, or other handwavium, not likely unless your flying car looks like a small helicopter. And those are noisy, low efficiency, high-maintenance, and take a lot more parking space than cars. Also not all that great in bad weather.

      When you can dictate where people work, go to school, and live, subways and buses get your proletariat from People’s Residential Center #14 to Public School #182 to State Manufactory #53 just fine.

      When you have free people who choose their own work and housing, the automobile is still the optimum transport solution.

      1. Flying vehicles are very energy and maintenance intensive. Cars sometimes crash but at lease they don’t fall -down- onto things from a great height.

        1. Yaassss… even if they can’t compete against heavier-than-air craft for speed, efficiency, or payload, they’re still grand things.

          1. They lose on speed, but maybe not on the others – the housing of them would be an issue, certainly. I do wonder how many would learn the hard way that a grounding wire/chain is not an optional extra.

            1. Weather is a major issue for them. They are more vulnerable to wind and storm issues than planes.

      2. Do you REALLY want teen agers, drunks, druggies, and other criminals along with the normal stupid drivers operating flying vehicles? I passed one woman yesterday who was yakking on her cell phone while drinking coffee and smoking a cigarette while driving over 70 mph on I55. A while later I saw a guy reading a newspaper held over the steering wheel……

        1. I almost got t-boned at a four-way that has yield signs for all right turns, because I didn’t know the guy who DIDN’T TURN ON HIS SIGNAL UNTIL AFTER HE WAS TURNING was going to turn.

          He, of course, slammed on his brakes to sit there flipping me off, because how dare I not know he’s going to turn with NO BLINKER. -.-

          1. how dare I not know …

            No, HOW DARE you make him accountable for his actions.

      1. There will be some companies and some managers who figure out how to work it and before long the laws of competitive advantage will inexorably do their thing. Soon enough somebody will hire away one of those successful remote-working managers, and then others will follow and then somebody will figure how to apply those methods in new, unanticipated ways …

    2. urban-dwellers just don’t have children at anywhere near replacement level

      Urban-dwellers who have children are called “ex-urban dwellers.”

      “You know what the fellow said: In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love – they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.”
      — Orson Welles as Harry Lime in The Third Man

  9. To the best of my knowledge the only ‘city planning’ (which is Social Engineering’s father) that worked pretty much as planned was straightening and widening the streets of Paris so that canons with grapeshot could clear out mobs.

      1. My theory about DC’s layout is that there were several canticles of planners, each having good fused with the others, and they got to design the areas the other canticles would go home through.

      2. I thought it was designed to confuse invading armies, and the success of this design is exemplified in the difficulty that visitors have in driving from one side of the city to the other.

  10. And the one thing ALREADY becoming clear is that we can’t afford to do business with totalitarian countries that will lie to us, or to have completely open borders to them.

    Oh, we can do business with totalitarian countries. A free market has some huge advantages.
    What we can’t afford is to lose the ability to provide for ourselves necessary things we now trade for if/when we can no longer acquire them cheaper (including external, and not necessarily monetary, costs) by trading.
    Of course you’re right on borders. A country that can’t control its borders will only be free temporarily.

    1. Which is one of the reasons why the “totally free international trade” concept was always a problem. (Another HUGE one is that “free trade” really isn’t free when gov’ts are subsidizing stuff.) It really isn’t free. And it sucks you into a possible trap.

      It doesn’t necessarily require gov’t rules to force people to “Buy American”. But it does require the concept of “American companies” as opposed to “global corporations”. And some manner of balancing (like tariffs) to keep the global competition from underselling (and you have to keep the gov’t from playing favorites, grift, etc.) the American companies.

      1. Ah, but the problem of the free market: “Who is this ‘we’, kemosabe?”

        There’s always that one MBA who’s certain it’ll be a profitable deal for him, and this company over here who wants to do it anyway because of reasons of culture / niche / provenance, and…

        You know and I know that the government isn’t to be trusted. That tea company, though, that wants this particular Chinese tea, and no, the Indian one won’t do? Doesn’t care.

        1. That’s where the tariffs come in. MBA guy can’t make it profitable if there’s a 100% tax on Chinese tea, and a 0% tax on Indian tea..

    2. What we can’t afford is to lose the ability to provide for ourselves necessary things

      It is generally a good idea to make your own bullets and all components thereto.

      “Do you have a plan?” asked [Kebra].
      “Stay alive, kill all enemies, reach the coast, find a ship.”
      “Things always look brighter when you have a plan,” said Kebra.
      — David Gemmell, “Winter Warriors”

      1. Which is presumably one reason why a surprisingly large number of countries (particularly in Western Europe) make their own tanks. Even fairly poor Romania makes its own tanks (the TR-85). Japan and South Korea – which are both heavily reliant on the US military for their defence – make their own tanks (and Japan designed its first mass-produced post-War tank in 1955).

        A country MUST control its source of important war-fighting materials.

        1. How many of the necessary parts for US tanks are NOT from the US? Same thing for Planes?

          1. AFAIK, every part in an M1A2 Abrams tank is made in the US. We license parts when needed. For instance, the main gun was designed by the British. But it’s built under license in the US.

            Now the F-35, on the other hand…

            Production for parts in that plane was intentionally farmed out to foreign allies in order to persuade them to buy some of the production models.

    3. What we -must- always remember, is that hostile foreign powers are and remain exactly that.

      Our ways and attitudes do not rub off on them. They learn our bad habits, and we learn theirs.

      That last exchange does not favor us, not at all.

  11. What we can’t afford to do is deal with totalitarian countries that lie and CHEAT while we pretend that they don’t. This is one of the things about the drumbeat of Orange Man Bad that infuriates me. It isn’t ‘Trump’s Trade War With China’, it’s China’s trade war with everybody. Trump is simply the first Head of State willing to fight BACK.

    And, really, it says a great deal about the Left that so much of what they complain of from Trump boils down to ‘how dare he hit back!’.

    1. ” it says a great deal about the Left that so much of what they complain of from Trump boils down to ‘how dare he hit backstand up to, and call them, bullies!’.”

      Fixed it.

      Note. Where Bullies = China & media.

  12. I’ll tell you something here. No matter what happens, the concentration of supply chain off-shore will be -ending-. The unintended consequence of letting communist governments organize and run all the medical manufacturing in the world is right up in the faces of every technocrat medical system official in the West, right now.

    By which I mean -they- are afraid. The technocrats are shitting their pants. You can see them doing it all over Twitter.

    It isn’t just paranoids and preppers having a cow today, they already had theirs and now they’ve pulled their bunker doors shut.

    No, the people freaking out today are the same ones who planned and managed the healthcare system into the shape it is today. All those clever just-in-time delivery bastards and tax hogs who charge an annual levy on inventory.

    Vengeful, wrathful bastards like myself exist everywhere. All the guys who have been screaming “YOU CAN’T OFF-SHORE IV BAGS YOU MORONS!!!!!!” are still out there, and we all remember this argument from years ago.

    Many terrified bean-counters are re-assessing their opinions today. Imagine how it’ll be in a couple of weeks.

    1. Not just medical supplies; we’ve been somewhat blunted in the impacts because a lot of companies pre-bought before tarriffs kicked in, so they had a surplus-to-normal inventory.

      Many companies all over the economy are now going “We can’t sole-source from a single country, and especially not one that’s going to randomly shut down for unspecified time, and may get into a worse trade war! Lots of factories are getting stood up all over SouthEast Asia right now,even with the virus slowing things down – in fact, there are container ships now skipping the standard intermediary stop in China and going straight from the US to Vietnam.

      We may not see the manufacturing come back *here* in job lots – that ship has sailed – but China has a whole lot of drawbacks, and for years has suffered a slow bleed of companies deciding the risks and drawbacks now outweigh the benefits. This will accelerate the trend, and when those jobs go, they aren’t coming back.

      1. Folks are learning that “just in time supply” requires resiliency, redundancy, and a rapid shift to plan B when things get weird.

        “What if (crap) happens and this -doesnt- work” is good Business Continuity planning.

        “What if -bad actors- happen?” is also prudent.

        Backup plan
        Oh crap! plan
        It all went to heck! plan
        Four deep, always.

        Since this bug is still not up to 2009 swine flu levels, we are on 2 with panic-mongers driving 3 for ulterior purposes.

        1. Implementation of Business Continuity Planning costs money. Single-sourcing is *always* cheaper, even if you have two otherwise-identical sources. In the end the bean-counters will shave all redundancy away to reduce operating costs.

          1. More importantly, it requires constant maintenance as, over time, sources … change. Often remarkably quickly.

            “Acme Rocket Packs? They’ve been bought out by King Konglomerate. Who sold off the property, plant and equipment, fired all the employees then sub-contracted production to a group in Lower Slobovia.”

    2. Yeah.

      Over at Alma’s today, I figured out that part of what is setting me off, what I can relax about now identified, is that some folks are losing their minds.

      There are two or three bad decisions that have been made apparent in this, most people are quietly reassessing, and the media loudmouths are stressed because they have the same information, and can’t entirely silence the voices at the back of their minds murmuring calculations.

      So it is /crises of faith/, ghost dancing (revitilization), and maybe some socialist revolutionary eschatology. Not so much something planned, and measured to last until the election.

      1. the media loudmouths are stressed because they have the same information, and can’t entirely silence the voices at the back of their minds

        The problem of media loudmouths is not that the’ve never had a thought left unexpressed, it is that so much of what they’ve expressed they have never thought out.

        “People generally quarrel because they cannot argue.”
        — Gilbert Keith Chesterton

        1. “People generally quarrel because they cannot argue.”
          — Gilbert Keith Chesterton


          Given the source, there’s a good chance he was thinking–even if he didn’t write it, as not relevant– that if one side wants to have a rational argument, and the other wants to quarrel, you’re going to quarrel. You can’t argue with a wall, not really, because you have to make both sides….


          Ah, the patron saint of paradox.

      1. The link in his name has pointed to the new site for, I think, years.

        1. Oh, WordPress again. 😡 The “Contact” link goes to my real blog. WordPress refuses to behave properly for me, I left The Phantom Soapbox on Google Blogspot because it doesn’t crash all the time.

  13. (The other 10% have very annoying children or spouses.)
    Actually, there’s another 10% who have critical jobs that require actual presence. Gov’t-related (mostly military) classified operations can’t be done from home. Doctors. Construction workers.
    Telecommuting is VERY “thinker job” oriented.

    1. I can’t tele-teach. I’ve tried it. No dice. I have to have real-time feed-back from students so I can see what is working and what’s not, and who’s getting lost. I admire people who can do it well, but me? Nope.

      I suspect a percentage of high-school and younger students need a live teacher and a controlled classroom environment. They’re smart, but need that containment and company to do well. What percentage? No idea.

      1. Yes, on needing the controlled environment. As we’ve observed numerous times on this blog, kids need to be civilized – it doesn’t happen by itself. And they usually don’t want to learn if they can be doing other things, instead.

      2. You’re quite right, with tele-teaching, without 100% two-way video, you can’t pick up on the non-verbals showing the student doesn’t get it.

        On the flip side, it IS possible for a student to tele-learn an entire degree’s worth of information; but 95% of that is merely reading and thinking on his own.

        1. “but 95% of that is merely reading and thinking on his own.”

          Are you nuts? They can’t think on their own. I mean. They might actually stop Believing!!!! Shame on you.

          (JTBC – /sarcasm now is off)

        2. … 95% of that is merely reading and thinking on his own.

          Something impossible to do in contemporary classrooms.

      3. For your feedback and having a live teacher, why don’t you use some of the meetings software. Pictures of each participant, Sharing of work on screens, etc.. That would seem to work. There should be some specialized for classrooms. It does mean that there has to be a certain time for the class but reviewing the class could be helpful. Also schedule meeting with students using the software for one on one or for small groups that need extra time or help. This would seem doable and satisfy your concerns.

    2. Oh. Sorry, I meant to specify that: only certain jobs can telecommute. I meant 10% of THOSE.
      I know hands-on jobs can’t. One of the things I told both boys when they chose their paths was that neither had chosen telecommuting jobs. Even in the future.

      1. Even then, some telecommuting is possible. The consulting gig I had (circa early 2002) was to code and debug a largeish test program (13K lines, not trivial for the time) as well as several tools. The debugging needed to happen at the customer’s sites, both the US site as well as one in Deepest Bavaria. However, even with dialup, it was feasible to take source code home to work on it.

        The previous job had minor telecommute possibilities, but in the ones of percent of the job.

        1. Gotten a LOT easier now. Even early ’90s I was using dial-in to work on some code (it was a PIA, but doable). Some code I could take home. By 2002, I wasn’t actually coding on my home computer, when I worked at home. There was a VPN that was logged into that I could reach my work computer; two processes to setup, but once done it was on shortcut on the home computer. All the work was done on the work computer. Now, when power was out at the office, or the office network was down … no one was working on anything.

    3. Even then, some thinker types prefer the office. I do, for one.

      The separation of spaces allows for easier shift of mental modes from “working on paid work for $COMPANY” to “doing work for me directly”.

      1. The separation of spaces also allows for a “Work is done for the day, I can drop it and go home” mental shift, that ritual of going out the door and no longer caring, and not carrying the stress home. (As much as possible.)

        1. Nod.

          I’ve also heard that there are tax requirements about your “office/work space” being separate from “where you live”.

          1. Federally, the requirement is “If you want to deduct it”, then yes. Locally? Ah, fifty little laboratories of freedom, what tax laws can they create? (Ask your local friendly CPA.)

          2. Federal tax law is set up to punish anyone who does not work in an office separate from their home.

            Why is an open question, but it is undeniably so.

            1. Dorothy got it right: only if you try to take a deduction on your taxes. The rules governing that are sufficiently arcane that it isn’t generally worth the bother Sure, if you write, give music lessons, do people’s books, see patients (used to be that almost all doctors had an office in the home) you can shield income from taxes by deducting the expense of a home office — but it carried hassles like increased susceptibility to audit and having to adjust your capital gains upon sale of the house to recognize the income already protected by that home office deduction.

              Not really worth doing any more. It might have made sense when personal income tax rates were in the seventy to ninety percent neighborhood, but if that’s your situation you’re better off forming an S Corp or LLC and holding the home in that entity, hiring yourself as an employee and selling your services at a nice mark-up. That allows you to deduct far more than just the office expense.

            2. As I recall (late 90s?), they were complaining about people writing off parts of the home office that might possibly be used for non-business stuff. If I have it right, it was possible (barely) to write off a home office after the “reforms”, but it had to be a dedicated workspace (a separate room, I think) and used for *nothing* but the business.

              Heaven forbid a mere taxpayer decide what’s best for him.

        2. Dorothy, at least in IT, THAT idea has been dead since we got laptops and cell phones. Throw in teams across timezones, and management at most companies schedule on the basic assumption that you’ll work when they need you to, or there’s an H1B who will.

          1. Yep; I had housemates who worked in IT. I worked in Aviation, which likes to eat your soul in different ways.

          2. “at least in IT, THAT idea has been dead since we got laptops and cell phones

            Programmers too. Even if you work in an office. About the only way to dodge it is to not have home internet, and to live where cell coverage is sketchy at best, and landline is flaky. If any of these are true, well, they will find someone to replace you. And get away with it.

            Anyone know of an IT or programming shop that is organized & union protected? Outside of maybe, government?

            True story. We go on vacations to places where cell coverage is non-existent, as is power … We normally just have our phones off, turning on only if know there is coverage (went into nearby town). Only to see my voice mail full because the office called. I’d have to go through & clear messages out making sure nothing critical from family was included (back when voice mail was just a count, now my carrier has an app that lists the calls, with message if one was left). Every. Single. Time. Very irritating. What part of “No cell coverage. No computer. No access to work.” In RED on multiple emails. Don’t they understand?

            1. Years ago a friend visit $HOOTERVILLE and the telco he worked for had signal drop dead about halfway through town. I lived just beyond the limit of coverage. He was THRILLED. He really was on vacation thus.

              And what don’t they understand? Damn near everything.

            2. Heck, in the nineties, when the big tether was PAGERS Dan spent an entire vacation weekend finding cell phones to call the office back because they were having kitten fits and paging him non-stop.

              1. 2002, I was at primitive summer camp that is off Hwy 126. Sits in a hole. Mid week the troop was resupplied with perishables & ice. The supplies were later than we were expecting; intent was to get them in & back off the mountain road before dark. Unless used to it that road in the dark is not fun or safe to drive. Reason? My husband showed up with them (he does know how to drive those roads). Because he had a message for me from work to call them … what????? What part of not available didn’t they understand? I did try with the emergency phone that if you hiked most the way up to the top of the ridge, you might, you know if you hold the phone just right, and balance on one foot, get a signal. I got one after trying for about 1/2 and hour. Person I needed to contact wasn’t available. Told the receptionist to get me someone who could get him, or talk to him. That person came back to tell me it would be dealt with Monday, when I was due to be back … It was the 4th round of bankruptcy cuts. So, back to work Monday.

                Was packed, said goodbyes, and gone by noon (well after having lunch out with remaining engineering team division). Technically should have been told, escorted out, & returned after 5 PM to pack my things & leave. But asked to be able to get it done now. Boss & immediate supervisor looked at each other and called TPTB some bad names, & said sure. So I didn’t get the security escort. When I was making the goodbye rounds, one engineer who was part time, came in, saw me & immediately stated, “Oh, good, you weren’t on the cut list!” I had to disappoint her. She had some words to say to supervisor, manger, & TPTB, but no go. Probably for the best. Would have bought me, maybe, another 6 months, maybe. OTOH I wouldn’t have been desperate enough to apply for the job I did get if I’d had another 6 months. Plus another 6 months wouldn’t have stopped what happened 14 months later when hubby’s company realized I wasn’t working, so he wouldn’t quit if he was force transferred to a distance location (boy you should have heard THAT ranting).

        1. Yes. That has been a huge issue with our half in this week/half home this week plan.

          People at home are not as good about being prompt in answering. That needs to be solved in our group with so many real time tasks.

        2. “easy access to coworkers for quick consults.”

          Mostly consults didn’t happen where I’ve worked, ever. Even the last job where all programmers worked on the same code at one time or another. A shout out question worked via email. A non-response & really needed to discuss, then a phone call. So no reason why working at home dispersed wouldn’t work then, let alone now. In fact there was one programmer I never, ever met, and only talked to, maybe, 6 times in 12 years. Lots of emails. By the time I left, there were two programmers working from home due to their distance. One was in Colorado, the other had recently relocated to eastern Oregon.

    4. Boiler operator, hospital workers including doctors as mentioned, linemen, truck drivers, railroad people, etc. —- a whole bunch of “trades” looked down upon by the “elite”.

      There’s a lot more jobs that cannot telecommute then academics think there are, because they don’t know any people with those jobs.They think the electricity arrives at their house through some magical process that involves only clerks and executives.

      1. Local home heating/cooling/plumbing group took advantage of this– they set up all their guys with vans that are mobile shops. 90% of the stuff they need to do is right there, and the van goes home with them. Calls are assigned based on where the van is, so a lot of saved time, etc.

      2. “You worked on Christmas?!”

        “If the power is out, someone has to bring it back on. We did.”

        (Wasn’t part of it, but I have heard this conversation.)

        1. Yeah, this particular job I have now – as part of the onboarding, when I and another pilot were being briefed, we both had the same reaction. “Wait, what do you mean Christmas and Thanksgiving are guaranteed off? You mean guaranteed on, right? We’re lowest seniority, so of course… off? really? How’s that work? What do you even do with your time, if you have those days off?”

      3. A week ago, a guy was talking on Twitter about his wife was stocking up and insisting on stuff that didn’t need refrigeration. He said he had asked her how the virus could put out the power, and she had only given him a look — and he got dozens of replies saying, DUH — by putting out the people who work at the power plant.

        Now, Wuhan didn’t lose power so it’s — improbable. But possible.

  14. Distance learning will make it harder for the universities to indoctrinate the youth.
    It will also make it harder to teach -and- pass the really tough courses that you just have to master. That’s math, some math-heavy engineering courses, chem and bio lab, and medical school. Probably a few others. Art school with studio work?

    1. I know a chemistry teacher (college) who is trying to figure out how to labs before they make her shut down the classroom.

      (There was talk of making the students watch ElectricBoom videos….)

      1. That answers my question about junior colleges and chem labs. I do recall a roommate who managed to flunk the lab after they caught him making NI3. Not a wise thing to do, especially in the fall of 1970…

    2. It will also make it much less enticing to spend *how much* on that funky course with your friends, and that easy-A over there so you can set your schedule up to party instead of attaining a degree…

    3. It will also make it harder to teach -and- pass

      More probably it will alter the paradigms for success. The ability to sit quietly in a classroom will be de-emphasized, and lecture styles will also have to change.

    4. My brother’s teaching a physics lab for undergrads (part of his PhD study obligations). His university just announced – without warning – that the campus is completely shutting down (they’re even closing the dorms and booting students off campus) and that all instruction will be online-only.

      He, his profs, and his entire department are freaking out because how the [BLEEP!] are you supposed to do a physics lab over the internet?

      1. I think they just crossed some legal lines there.

        Those dorm rooms… that makes them paid tenants, and they’re the lawful residents until their terms (or whatever their lease length is) is up.

        State laws vary a whole lot on tenant/landlord contracts, but even the ones most biased toward the landlord, they can’t evict a paid-up tenant without provable cause and a lot of specific paperwork.

        So they’re gypping them out of their “education” *and* turning them out onto the street. That’s not going to look good in anyone’s court.

        1. I think a bad lawyer could win a case for refunding housing, meal plan, amenities costs to the students. A GOOD lawyer would have the students OWNING the college.

          1. I suspect almost all of the agreements have “Act of God” clauses that would eliminate liability, as a health epidemic would qualify as one.

          2. A GOOD lawyer would have the students OWNING the assets of the college.

            Fixed that for you. It would be a mediocre lawyer who stuck them with the whole package.

    5. Most of the art and drafting work is done on the student’s own time, the only advantage that studio time has is that it’s dedicated time to work on nothing but the drawing/plans, and you have a TA wandering around that can demonstrate what you’re doing wrong, or what you could do better before you get too far into your mistake.

      It also allows timed exercises – which are useful for breaking students out of the “it must be PERFECT” mindset that a whole bunch of them have, especially when they are first starting out in art/design – and a single unique model, which allows the teacher to be sure that the students are doing their own work.

      A significant amount of time on the teacher’s part is dedicated to just that – making sure that the student is doing his own work.

      When I was TAing in the architectural drafting course at my school, the project for the semester was taking measurements of one of several buildings on campus and drafting plans, sections, elevations, and perspectives of that building. This was to get the students accustomed to using all of the tools – from measuring tapes to drafting boards; to get them to see and understand how the buildings were shaped; and to give them practice at depicting the building as it was built , which is frequently not at all the same as how it was planned (an important skill when you are modifying an existing building).

      There was always some student who missed the entire point of the exercise and tried to get away with just tracing the building floor plans that were available on the school’s website. The particularly stupid ones would trace the annotations – like the room number – as well.

  15. from my walmart trip yesterday, i need to buy stock in rice and ramen noodle companies.

    1. A few years ago I was amused to note that while many “American” brands are actually Chinese, all of the ramen on the shelf was actually made in California, and most of the rice, even if a “national” brand, originated less than a hundred miles from the store.

        1. It s far easier to ship production methods than high-volume, low-price finished goods.

  16. This reminds me of the Great Fear in France in 1789. The difference is that France didn’t have a centralized media to spread the various invasion/noble armies/ hoards of robbers/ hoards of beggars stories at near light-speed. The sense of chaos and uncertainty, the idea of every community for itself, of a government that either is the problem or can’t deal with the problem? All familiar.

    So we’ve seen this sort of wave before, rhyming. Apparently humans are still human.

  17. Just-in-time delivery of products and employees needs to die a quick death over this. A good first step to regaining our economic independence would be to rewrite the tax code so that inventory isn’t taxed (I’m looking at you Thor Power Tool ruling). Getting rid of corporate taxes altogether would go a long way keeping the economy humming (do I really need to point out corporations don’t pay taxes, they just pass on costs of operating?) and simplifying the personal income tax would likely do the rest.

    The universities in the area have announce all classes for the rest of the month will be online only. I think this will have a radical change in the next couple of years regarding higher education. If the elementary and high schools catch on, watch out for a lot of squawking. The state could get by with 1 teacher for each grade level/subject, and employee babysitters to monitor the kids in class. I’d suggest the kids just stay home and watch, but I don’t think we’ll be able to convince people to leave their six year olds home alone all day for school.

    1. A good first step to regaining our economic independence would be to rewrite the tax code so that inventory isn’t taxed (I’m looking at you Thor Power Tool ruling)

      If trad publishing had spent a fraction of what they’ve spent trying to kill eBooks on killing Thor Power Tools, they wouldn’t be nearly in the dumpster to the degree they were. For one, it would have made keeping the midlisters, who have fled to eBooks and taught their successors to not bother with anything else, economically viable and sensible.

      1. To quote something I saw recently: “Calling TradPub a dumpster fire is an insult to dumpster fires; At least a good dumpster fire burns the trash.”

          1. Let it burn … I am incensed all over again, upon checking out a book which was mentioned in an email for a catalog dealing with Brit-TV … yep, looked on Amazon, and holy-crep, the Kindle version is $13- something! Thirteen freaking dollars and change, thanks to the mainstream establishment publisher. Yeah, I’ll bet it is selling REAL well!
            I sell a couple of my smaller page-count print books for less than that.
            No wonder that indy authors are eating the lunch of establishment published companies.

            1. But think of the professional editing and marketing, and their promotional system, and advances and royalties, and…

              Hello? Who turned out the lights?

      2. Thor Power Tools and the Chevron case (the one that gives so much discretion and power to administrative agencies) must be overturned or legislated out of existence if any genuine economic and government reform is to occur.

        1. The few dollars of tax revenue were far overshadowed by the economic turndown that resulted.

          Another of those “unintended consequences…”

          Letting that revenue go would probably cost less than the various “initiatives” and “stimulus packages” since, but the Fed doesn’t think that way.

      3. Inventory tax is why once a year retailers would suffer spot shortages of GE incandescent light bulbs, as GE drew down it’s inventory….

        I also read that overhead catenary is taxed under property tax as added value – which is why more railroad miles aren’t electric, and a lot has been torn out. All (non-steam) locomotives are pretty much electric, just the diesel ones carry their own generators. It’s cheaper to run electric locomotives.

        1. While taxation of overhead catenary may have played apart, the abandonment of America’s two large-scale freight railroad electrifications had more immediate causes. The Milwaukee Road’s electric system and locomotives were worn out by the early 70’s, and the bid for complete dieselization was slightly more attractive to the financially-troubled railroad than the bid for renovating the catenary and substations and new electric locomotives. This turned out to be a bad decision, because it was made just before the Arab oil embargo drove diesel prices through the roof.

          For Conrail, with its former Pennsylvania Railroad electricification, it was the federal government’s seizure of the Northeast Corridor in the wake of the Penn Central bankruptcy. The fed’s turned it over to Amtrak, which charged Conrail high rent for running freight trains on it. This lead to Conrail rerouting most of their freight trains over other non-electrified lines. Without the Northeast Corridor in the mix, the freight electrification was of far less utility.

        2. Interesting. I have long wondered why widespread railroad electrification wasn’t pursued. Very specifically why the Milwaukee never closed the gap between its two systems instead of tearing them out in the 70s.

          I also wondered why people serious about global warming concerns didn’t push it to move all railroads off fossil fuels to nuclear (note: if you are including nuclear, you don’t really have human carbon fuel usage based global warming concerns imnsho).

          1. Well yes, but ultimately they could care less about climate. Restricting/banning fossil fuels AND nuclear powr means there will not be enough energy produced; which of course will then “require” complete government control/nationalization and rationing. It is about political power and achieving totalitarian socialism.

          2. I also wondered why people serious about global warming concerns didn’t …

            There are no people serious about global warming concerns. Those are just a cudgel for beating us into line.

            1. I wouldn’t say there are none, but they are as rare as Femdoms who actually want a submale as their primary or, even rarer, monogamous partners.

              Meaning someone deep into environmentalism might have met 2 in person and can name a dozen or so more.

    2. The problem with taxing inventory as income is that a society needs companies with deep inventory a damn sight more than it needs a wealthy government.

      Of course, a society needs a cholera epidemic a damn sight more than it needs a wealthy government.

    3. I rise in defense of just-in-time delivery but without intent to make the arguments in its favor. As a means of efficient production and controlling waste it is superb.

      BUT it requires control if the entire production process. Dependency on uncontrollable suppliers is incompatible with just-in-time and negates the very real benefits of the system.

      And yes, taxing inventory is idiotic — like every other element of the corporate tax code, an exercise in screwing the consumer while his (and her) back is turned.

      1. Carrying inventory *is* a cost, whether in warehouse space, or in the resources tied up in production that could have been used elsewhere.

        The problem with taxing inventory is that it increased the cost of inventory far above the market price.

      2. The Harley shop I worked at did an inventory every Christmas and then hauled a couple pickup truck loads of perfectly good, brand new parts to the dump so that we wouldn’t have to pay inventory tax on them. I think the cutoff was “if it’s been there for five years, it goes”.

        1. Inventory tax killed the publishing newbs. The publishers could no longer keep the unsold books in the warehouse until they earned out their advance, and started making a profit. It meant that the house had to built their list via blockbusters, which would sell out and go into 2nd and 3rd printings.
          Anytime an industry does anti-business things, the tax laws are in there somewhere.

        2. Books get pulped on the same principle, only it’s more “a year or more.”
          etc. etc. We’re throwing away masses of stuff because of that stupid law.
          And in publishing, it crippled people’s ability to find “old” books and authors that had no promotion.
          Until recently.

      3. there aren’t a whole lot of companies that control the entire production process. In fact, I can’t think of a one that doesn’t require outside resources.

  18. Part of is because humans are chaotic. And part of it is be cause like weather systems, societies are so complex it’s almost impossible to figure out what a push in any given place will cause to happen in another place.

    The later is the mathematical definition of chaos more or less, a system that creates extreme changes in outputs from small changes in inputs, thus the two are equivalent.

  19. One thing about Central Planning and Unintended Consequences- you can tell most of those who advocate for it have probably never DM’d a D&D game.

    1. naah, lots of them have, they are just the type to railroad their players into complying with their story… (looks at his former co-writer)

      1. Then again, extrapolating lessons learned on a small scale to the big picture is not exactly one of their strong suits.

    2. They have, they just haven’t realized that D&D parties are all aligned chaotic insane because most of humanity is.

      1. Pretty much. Which is kind of funny- the whole controlled society thing depends on the idea that people will be happy to be coerced into doing things they aren’t now doing voluntarily.

  20. … members of the 4th estate (Lord, was there ever a more vainglorious self-appellation?)

    They’re not all that far off — I think of them as a Fifth Column.

    The Leaders Of The Crowd
    [ http://www.poemhunter.com/p/m/poem.asp?poet=3057&poem=13993 ]

    THEY must to keep their certainty accuse
    All that are different of a base intent;
    Pull down established honour; hawk for news
    Whatever their loose fantasy invent
    And murmur it with bated breath, as though
    The abounding gutter had been Helicon
    Or calumny a song. How can they know
    Truth flourishes where the student’s lamp has shone,
    And there alone, that have no Solitude?
    So the crowd come they care not what may come.
    They have loud music, hope every day renewed
    And heartier loves; that lamp is from the tomb.
    — William Butler Yeats

    “If I had my choice I would kill every reporter in the world, but I am sure we would be getting reports from Hell before breakfast.”
    — William T. Sherman

  21. And the one thing ALREADY becoming clear is that we can’t afford to do business with totalitarian countries that will lie to us, or to have completely open borders to them.

    You can’t and I can’t, but the Bidens and the Clintons and their ilk and their consigliere cannot afford not to do business with such regimes. Such corrupt dealings are the heart of their wealth and their purpose for pursuing power.

    I think the Bushes might be in that category and certainly plenty of members of both parties as well as heads of large corporations are in it.

  22. I’ve been tracking our visits to the local grocery store, specialty stores and Costco – and I have yet to see anything the least bit out of normal. No panic-buying at all; no ones’ baskets loaded with anything other than what is normal. A section of the toilet paper shelf WAS cleared out yesterday at the nice HEB on Bulverde – but that was only because it was the house brand, they had a generous coupon, and a limit of two 12-roll packs per customer. Was at the Lowe’s today, and at Home Depot – nope, totally normal crowds there. I have gotten corporate emails from those two, my bank and a couple of other businesses, letting us know that yes, they were aware, and were taking extra precautions with sanitizing and general cleanliness, letting workers work remote from home, nothing to worry about. Honestly, all the panic I am seeing is on the part of the Establishment News Media. Had a client meet on Tuesday – they were rather bemused at the inability to find hand sanitizer at any price. Oh, and two elderly retired nurses we struck up a conversation with in Tuesday Morning – they were both bemused at their local Walmart being out of bleach. One of them retired from the local facility of the Texas Center for Infectious Diseases; I doubt that much could frighten either of those two ladies, both of whom had been around long enough to have seen it all and nursed most of it. No, no panic around here.
    Some of the other bloggers and commentors at Chicagoboyz are most worried about industrial disruptions, short term. Maybe a painful couple of months, but if we have to dial back on outsourcing and return to local manufacturing – might be to the better in the long run. It’s a very ill wind that blows no one any good.

    1. None up here either. The drug store was low on generic antihistimene, but everything’s flowering right now, so that doesn’t count. And my cereal is back on the shelves, so all’s right with the world. 😉

      1. As of last Saturday, the local Sam’s club was completley out of all rice except minute rice. Which was weird. They were extremely low on antihistamines, but… everything’s blooming, so not that surprising. The automotive section last week was very low on batteries, but fine on tires.

    2. If you watch this You-tube starting at 13:00 and continuing to about 16:00…

      …you will find out from a guy who’s been screaming about it for a DECADE that 85% of the IV saline bags -worldwide- are made in one plant in Puerto Rico. He predicted a worldwide crisis to anyone who would listen, and wrote a whole fricking book about it.

      Hurricane Maria came through in September 2017 and stopped that one plant producing, thereby creating a worldwide IV bag crisis.

      You will also find out that crash-cart and renal failure drugs are from China and India. Generic, right?

      I will note at this time that something as simple as welding gasses are not made in Ontario Canada, the industrial heartland of the Demented Dominion. They do make some in Quebec, but most of it comes from the USA. Canadian Liquid Air company used to have a plant in Hamilton Ontario, but like every other goddamn thing in Hamilton it was “rationalized” out of existence. (Hamilton used to be a place where they made -everything- from cars to socks. Now they make nothing. The only thing of any size still running is Dofasco, now owned by Arcelor Mittal.)

      Now, you wouldn’t think that welding gas is a big deal, right? I mean, who needs that? Well, anybody who wants to cut a piece of metal or stick two pieces together needs it. You want a new muffler on your car, the mechanic is going to have to torch the rusted fasteners off.

      No welding gasses, no new muffler.

      All that shit comes in here by train. Either from the USA, or from Montreal. Guess what political party is letting “activists” block the rail lines?

    3. Mrs. TRX called a bit ago; the said the lines at Wal-Mart were backed up with people with buggies full of toilet paper, bottled water, and junk food. She bailed and went to Dollar General, and said the parking lot was full. So she said she’d wait until three or four in the morning to do the grocery shopping and was on the way home.

      1. If you can get to the store before people realize that kitchen napkins can replace other paper products like TP and paper towels, I suggest grabbing that instead. Vanity Fair napkins in particular are soft enough to use in place of TP in an emergency. Yes, I was out at the store today and while the TP was all gone, the paper towls almost all gone, there were still plenty of packages of table napkins.

    4. No tp,Kitchen rolls or Tissues for a 9 days or so in any large supply in any reasonable distance. I managed to get a box of tissues a week ago and I went in around 7:30am 4 days ago and managed to restock our kitchen roll. I took 1 of 3 on the shelves. Nothing in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th supermarkets I have checked. Our local “chemist” that also sells drinks, beach stuff sells packs of 4 at 4x the typical supermarket price so we won’t actually face running out. note I would not have normally brought any tp till today or next week as I brought a pack of 24,14 days ago

      Almost all homeless I have talked to over the years are homeless by “choice” or have issues.

      We have our local grey head, walks around with blankets and mutters/yells to himself. He owns a apartment block. 10 mill+?

      We have the guy who buses in each morning, he wore dresses for 20 odd years but now has gone back to shirts and jeans, we had the weighty asian woman who chain smoked a 20$-50$ a day habit.

      We have seasonal homeless every summer who often have surf/skate boards.

      Their was a “18” year old who left home and his parents by choice, he eventually got done for stealing bags on the beach.

      We have the local “leader” of the homeless community who apparently has 14 kids by many mothers and would be paying 14x child support if he was actually working.

      There is the annoying woman who hangs outside the train station, I have seen her in town at the movies with partner and kids, wearing a leather jacket better then anything I own.

      Various old men, far gone in drink, I have sadly seen a couple dead in the gutter over the years

      1. Here in Kansas City, there is no panic buying of paper goods. I have been in three different stores in the last three days (Mar 10-12) and there were shelves well-stocked with TP, towels, etc. No one seemed concerned (yet).

    5. My husband went shopping at the local Harris Teeter in Fort Mill, SC, and did notice some clear shelves in the paper and cleaning products aisle.
      However, this is the South, where 3 snowflakes of the weather kind will paralyze the city. I’m fairly sure that the same culprits are involved in this, too.

  23. I think this ends up killing bookstores.

    Ain’t gonna do much for movie theatres, neither.

    I saw Amazon shilling a 50″ TV monitor with built-in Fire stick for in the neighborhood of $250.00 — and the screens are only going to get bigger and the prices lower. Eventually they will figure the path of the printer industry and practically give the monitors away if only you subscribe to x number of streaming services. Hell, I can practically write the ad copy now:

    “Staying home, maintaining social isolation? Get our BIGSCREEN with built-in streaming and enjoy the latest movies and TV programs as you want, when you want. Skype distant family members and enjoy large as life conversations from the comfort of your den. Order now and not only will we provide free next-day delivery of your new BIGSCREEN with built-in streaming, we will provide a case of microwave popcorn for while you watch!”

    1. The House Of The Mouse just indefinitely delayed the release of the live-action “Mulan” remake, that after the next Bond flick and many others were previsouly delayed as well.

      Certainly there will be no movies if there are no moviegoers, but it works the other way as well.

    2. Get our BIGSCREEN with built-in streaming and enjoy the latest movies and TV programs as you want, when you want.

      The problem there is much of the Hollywood production pipeline is shutting down, with multiple movies and TV shows announcing production halts.

      Sure if you have another season of The Mandalorian ready to go and you are able to roll it out now instead of in the fall, you’g get screaming blockbuster viewership – but it basically has to be in the can already at this point.

      1. As image/video editing/synthesis improves (and will audience standards for such lower a bit if the supply is sparse?) the whole lot can be synthesized – by people mostly working remotely. Do I expect this to happen? Eventually. But “Real Soon Now” has a certain reputation for good reason.

        1. So far they need some live action basis to be in the can (used to be on film, thus the “can”, but now everyone captures digitally on set) to digitally add the extra stuff in post, and lately they actually have moved to doing more stuff in-camera. Disney’s The Mandalorian does most of their background effects work not using greenscreen and major digital post production as has been the standard for decades, but instead using massive LED displays as virtual sets – the actor stands there and instead of being in front of a huge green screen, the background is generated around them in realtime, so reflections, shadows etc. are correct on things like shiny metal helmets, and the whole thing does not need a bunch of post production just to get rid of green reflections.

          There are some cool videos on youtube on this.

          Using this method there’s less post-production and they can concentrate their digital effects folks on the really important cute-little-green-aliens work instead of the equivalent of digital wallpapers, but it does require actors and crews on sets, and everything has now gone cold.

  24. telecommuting / remote working…can work very well in many cases, not so much in others. The key is to avoid one-size-fits-all policies. Both Marissa Mayer at Yahoo and what-was-her-name at IBM made serious mistakes, IMO, in edicting ‘no telecommuting’ on corporate levels rather than leaving it up to managers closer to the action.

    1. Mayer was a Googlewunderkind moron. Yahoo got what they deserved for hiring her as CEO.

  25. How much of the institutional near-panic comes from a terror of a liability lawsuit? “My spouse caught the kung-flu at work/ child at college and I’m going to sue you for millions because of mental anguish!” I know universities shiver at the thought of liability.

    1. That, and, having given up on the original goal of educating young men and women into upstanding citizens with a bright job future ahead, how many are straining to be “relevant”?

    2. “How much of the institutional near-panic comes from a terror of a liability lawsuit?”

      I think (or I hope, to be honest) that the near-panic from institutions comes from the realization of educated managers that they, personally, could die from this. Most of them understand enough arithmetic to recognize a exponential curve when they see one.

    3. That’s a good point – I think MOST of the panic is fear of being sued.

  26. Here’s a consequence of the social distancing guidance and public gathering directives:

    Firsthand report this morning from a resident of The City Filled With Poop And Needles By The Bay: The nightclubs and bars and restaurants are empty, and as a result the streets on which said establishments are located are also empty of foot traffic, and since that foot traffic is the major source of panhandling income which funds their drug purchases, “the homeless are completely losing their $#!+.”

  27. Speaking of the gods of the copybook headings…

    Anyone know where to find copybooks with such headings, anymore?

    1. I do not, but I might be interested. I suspect with the Age of the Keyboards that my penmanship is somewhat on the rusty side. (And the ionosphere is on the Heaviside, yes.)

  28. I really hope the consequences aren’t too bad, either in terms of health or the political sabotage efforts.

    Increased telecommuting and homeschooling would be great.

    1. Aye. Such should have been adopted faster and earlier… it would have mitigated a lot of nonsense. Of course the resistance to such was by those who profit from nonsense being the norm.

  29. I am of the not-so-very-humble opinion that there is — or must be — no such thing as unintended consequences. Especially since they are most often predicted. I believe that a claim that consequences that eventuate might be unintended is a dodge. And excuse. An attempt at a get-out-of-jail-free card. Instead, anyone should be held responsible for the consequences of his actions without regard to intentions.

    1. I will posit that such things DO exist. They are unintended, and also disbelieved until Reality gives such fools the inevitable goolie-kicking that the non-fools pointed out. Unintended (and disbelieved) is NOT the same as ‘unpredicted’.

      Example: Yacht tax as a “soak the rich” policy. But “the rich” can simply spend elsewhere or even not spend. Predictable (but what a shock to the “soak the rich” types!) result: The ‘rich’ stopped buying yachts, and the folks who built them were the one taking it in the shorts. First Law of civil engineering (yes, there is NO such thing as a “civil” engineer…): $#!% goes downhill.

        1. *snort* What they advocate for doesn’t ever result in upper middle class lifestyles except for the special elite. Seen it first hand, because the socialists ranked us there; not that they’d believe me.

          I really wish Rex Vallachorum would write up his ‘life in Romania’ tweets that keep getting his accounts nuked on his website instead.

  30. Before public schools go to distance learning, there’s a few things that will have to be addressed.

    1. Do we actually have the basic infrastructure in terms of connectivity to handle that load?
    a. The company I work for is trying to move to Zoom and Slack; has been for about a year. Reliability has been mixed at best. Those companies just don’t always have the infrastructure to handle high levels of voice and especially video conferencing with webcams. We’ll have a team of people trying to follow the screens showing the problem and having navigation fall minutes behind where the presenter is on their laptop. Now dump 50,000 classrooms onto that service. Yeah.
    b. What about network bandwidth? Again, this is not just the backbone, but also the “last mile” problem. The area where my late grandparents’ farm is in Arkansas doesn’t even have reliable cell phone connectivity. It doesn’t have cable, or broadband. There are kids living in that area, though. Who pays to build that?
    c. Who buys the laptops / smart phones / tablets that will be needed? Some public school districts in urban areas have tried… and it’s hella expensive, both the initial purchase and the maintenance.

    2. Can we enforce attendance/discipline on a bunch of young hoodlums? Heck, we have problems getting them to attend and not be disruptive in one physical location? Also, there’s the whole equipment question when they lose / accidentally damage / deliberately damage or lose those laptops / tablets / cable modems / routers… and we’ve already seen that happen.

    3. Underlying all of this is the idea that public education K-12 is a RIGHT. It MUST be provided at some level, and it cannot be denied. Which means there’s a presumptive argument that all that hardware / software must be provided to every student…. and continue to be, even in the face of deliberate sabotage. That’s gonna be spensive.

      1. The question then becomes “How well does it scale?”. I don’t have hard numbers for the US or Australia; my gut tells me we have a larger school-age population here.

        1. CIA World Factbook says Australia is 5 million 0-14, and 3 million 15-24.
          It also says the US is 60 million and 40 million, respectively.

        1. Yeah. I mean, I had to keep my son home to help me mind the littles because this random flu (not kungflu) kicked me to bed (I blame exhaustion making it worse, tbh) and the school would let me know he’s absent (and to call or send a note explaining kidlet’s absence please or else.) The parents serious about their kids’ education will KNOW.

          The times I went to hospital recently to the various appointments with specialists (more daughter’s, really) I saw plenty of school age children at the shopping center, out of uniform and just out and about. It never ceases to boggle me.

      2. Or even the hintermost hinterlands of Canada. Which spends LESS per pupil than the USA and yet has a higher literacy rate, despite once you get away from the southern border there’s a whole LOT of not much.

    1. It’s not a right. It’s an edict.

      But mostly, it’s “free” government-paid daycare.

      1. Yep. But it’s presented as a “right”. Just like Social Security and Medicare were presented as “insurance”. That presentation is a big component of why it’s so hard to come to the conclusion that there are some kids who shouldn’t be ALLOWED in a classroom, and kick their disruptive butts out.

    2. Day Job is planning for a shift to remote learning if the big districts around us do. A lot of grand plans are colliding with reliability and bandwidth realities.

      1. It’s the feedback and such. I recall some lessons over TV and radio, “School of the Air” sort of things – even if some were presented in the classroom… which made it seem Rather Silly.

    3. In the short term, almost every kid in America has access to at least a smartphone, on which they can access videos/email.
      The pre-made videos are already there. The quizzing/testing apps are there. Less has to be done than you think.
      This is going to streamline the numbers of teachers like you wouldn’t believe. Which, in turn, will kill the teacher pension system.
      Which will mean that most of the teachers will qualify for an increased SS payment (for those who fell under the WEP penalty (Windfall Elimination Penalty – basically penalizes teachers for also qualifying for a pension, in addition to SS).
      The whole education establishment will be pushing for a return to the status quo. Which, to be fair, I might, as well – about 2/3 of my retirement income is teacher pensions. My husbands is about the same.
      Oh, well. I could pick up work training teachers to set up Youtube channels to teach specific subjects. Especially in science, with virtual labs. Or/and, I could do it myself, with my husband’s help. Between us, we cover all sciences, math, computers, business, history. Just need the arts and english, and we’ve got a Virtual School channel.
      Hmmm. Need to talk to him today, as soon as he wakes up.

      1. And, the cost of a small computer can be as little as $100, particularly if you pick up a monitor 2nd hand, and don’t bother with a printer.

  31. I see the other side has decided on a non-partisan approach and is refraining from politicizing this crisis:

    1. Remember them, they who drive this panic for political gains. Because when this passes, it is time for an accounting.

      Long past due. They must be shamed and denied any credibility ever again.

      1. I’ve noticed that Trump’s supporters and his detractors all share one thing in common: they believe everything revolves around him.

            1. Monarchy a) can work in some circumstances b) has a logic of magical thinking.

              Humans fairly naturally think magically, and it takes care and effort to think otherwise.

        1. Well, you can always try President Biden, Sanders, or Pelosi, and see if the results would be better. Trump is the first actual American leadership we’ve had since Reagan. Bush wouldn’t fight, and was a tranzi squish besides.

    2. Long, long ago, I donated to public radio. I think I’ve moved a few times since then so I no longer get snailmail spam about such. But if asked, well… they do NOT need my help, besides I’m not licensed to practice psychotherapy.

      1. Long, long ago, public radio earned my support. Now? I see no need to underwrite snooty “journolists” to tell me how (never why) every value I hold makes me a bad person. That I can get for free with (possibly) amusing advertisements interspersed among the diatribes.

  32. I guess I must be part of the 10% that doesn’t like telecommuting, but I can’t stand working from home, because I don’t ever actually get to focus completely on work. There’s just way to much potential distraction at home.

    Look, I love my wife, but no matter how hard she tries, I’m going to pay attention to her when she comes into the room, which breaks by attention away from the code I’m trying to write, or the system I’m trying to debug.

    I’m ADD as hell, and concentrating on demand is quite difficult. However, when I’m at work, and I am un-distracted long enough, I can really zone in on a job and get tons of work done. While it’s nice to have the wife come in a few and kiss me hello, then go off to putter around in the kitchen, it’s still a distraction, and resets my focus meter back to zero. Having an autistic 5 year old that you’ve just been told “I’m just going to send him down there for a bit, can you watch him for a minute?”… well, that’s not conducive to throughput, either.

    All I can hope is that, while a good chunk of the workforce starts working from home, that there will still be opportunities for troglodytes like me to still cling to our beloved cubes.

    1. Heck even at the office being able to concentrate on coding or debugging and zone everything else out was a luxury. But then our company didn’t have a support level. All but 2 programmers had to answer phones and support clients AND write code. No, I was not one of the privileged two.

      Working at home I got a whole lot more done.

      1. When I did embedded programming, the support guy taking the calls was careful to NEVER use a programmer’s name. It was always, “I’ll get with the programmer” or, if they really truly HAD to speak.. either no name was used, or one was invented. I think I was ‘Valentine’ a couple times.

      2. The last corporate IT job I had, I spent virtually all of my time in my cubicle, working. Until my phone started blowing up with calls from random people, for other techs who were out of the office.

        Turned out the IT honcho had observed that I was the only one who spent any noticeable time at his desk, therefore my time would be better spent as a secretary than as an admin/programmer.

        Bonus points:
        1) the other extensions all had voicemail, but they directed the calls to me anyway.
        2) unplugging my phone – which I almost never used anyway – got me a stern talking-to, for “letting down the team”
        3) they claimed they couldn’t understand why I couldn’t spend half a day as their message-taker and still do eight hours of programming
        4) they claimed I had a “bad attitude”

        1. My first non-intern programming job, I was a one person shop within a division, within an international corporation. I got used to doing “everything” except selling (a skill I’ve never developed). To the point where when the job evaporated (division assets sold off & division disbanded) when interviewing I’d be asked to specify which of the development process was I specifically responsible for. Answer was (unfortunately?) “All of it.” Hardware setup and upgrades, computers & networks. Program/system design (did not have to come up with ideas, those were thrown at me, not only *reworking* existing systems, but brand new ones), scheduling based on need (well I had bosses to help, buffer and prioritize), actual design, program, document, install, instruct, support, and maintain. I was known to unplug the phone, occasionally, & had a (craft) sign printed that was put on my office door stating “I’ve died. Will let you know when I’ve resurrected.” Or “Go away. Trying to get something done.” Given the division in question … it worked. This was early ’90s.

          Second job. I had one program I was responsible for, which was not from scratch but maintenance, expansion, & *reworking*. Bigger than most of the programs I did above. I wasn’t technically support. Did have to help support division if they had questions as there was no script. But rarely interacted directly with clients. Late ’90s. Hardware? Networks? My first day IT apologized that my computer wasn’t ready yet. My first impulse thought was “Oh, I can do that.” I didn’t say that. Second impulse thought was “I don’t have to do that anymore!” I didn’t say that either. My response was “Oh. Okay. Let me know.” This was late ’90s. This firm ultimately caught up in a bankruptcy.

          My 3rd job, also my last. I was expected as the newest programmer to field all calls … I’m a lousy secretary (and I’m being generous). That didn’t last. Well before the first 6 month trial period the main phone was central, anyone could answer the phones. Didn’t matter that they’d all had put up with the phones as primary. Sure, my inability to adjust could have counted against me & I wouldn’t have lasted. Would any software owner do that when, in his experience (I was the 8th hire, that I knew of, there were others that didn’t last, for other reasons) that took 18 months to 24 months to learn & understand the system (not coding, the system itself). Not productively coding & having changes go out the door, unless vetting by other programmers, for 8 months to a year. … Me? Try 5 weeks oh I didn’t “know” the system, but I could correctly code in it using tools I’d never used before. (Trust me nobody knew ALL of the system no matter how long they’d been there, except the boss, it is that extensive.) And I didn’t have a computer for a week. Granted my experience *reworking* programs, where the original developer was long gone, & no documentation other than code, and 20 years prior experience, might have had something to do with my success. At least this system, I had 5 other programmers, plus the boss to actually ask questions of (luxury!!!). Boss was going to let me go? Or adjust? Boss adjusted. FWIW. I was the newest programmer hired for 12 years!!! New hires were hired 3 weeks before my last day. Boss was unhappy I’d given him only *8 weeks* notice (granted 4 of that was vacation & holidays … but gee). Required to give 2 weeks. Also, retired, so references were not required.

        2. … they claimed I had a “bad attitude”

          Funny, that’s what Harvey Weinstein said.

    2. $HOUSMATE works from now, but makes a point of having work stuff away from everything else (and I do try to minimize working-hours contact to make things easier) for the “This is work” and “This is not work” isolation.

    3. I can get my wife to grok a closed door. My dog Nemo, OTOH….. “Whine” scratch “Bark”scratch…..

  33. The difference in how the virus was handled here and in Europe, no matter how much the media screams and hollers, is not going to be centralized government health care looking good. In fact, it will probably bury the idea once and for all.

    Well, dust him until somebody dumps a vial of blood on that vampire’s ashes, anyways.

    1. Or my favorite version from Marvel’s Dracula comic, where they finally have Drac staked on the autopsy table….. and the replacement ME shows up and demands a tour.

      She walks into the autopsy room, her jaw drops, and the next thing you see is her standing next to the table.
      “I don’t know what kind of circus you’ve been running here, but now that I’m in charge there will be proper respect for the dead!!!” Yanks out the stake

      The next panel is just a square of solid red.

      Followed by a panel showing the room full of drained corpses and a trail of mist headed out the door…… 😎

  34. Buddy of mine had a room mate in college who got tired of his next door neighbor’s stereo….. so he swiped the X-Ray source from the physics lab and irradiated the stereo, the neighbor, and himself…..

    1. The great Barracks Boombox Weekend War

      I brought about a cease fire, imposed by the First Sergeant, by weaponizing whalesong with a cheap BoomBox.


      1. Next room cranked it at time that torqued me off. Then roommate left. Pennsylvania 6-5000 on repeat for half an hour…. And that was that.

      2. Better – go to the power circuit breaker box and flip it on and off a few times. Works well, but there are sometimes personnel problems.

      3. Didgeridoo solos for the win.

        Although there is a theory about invention of the bagpipes …

      4. My roomate and I won a dorm loudness war via a guitar & a Marshall MkII 50 watt turned up to 11.

        1. I won one of those battles with E.Power Biggs playing Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor using a Crown DC300 amp feeding AR3a speakers. Turned up to 12! The amp was nominally rated at 250 watts into 4 ohms. Still using those speakers
          Yes it was loud. The bass was/is awesome

  35. When someone else mentioned it a week or so ago I hadn’t seen evidence of it. Yesterday on the drive to work I noticed a westbound train on the main line with 30 empty flat cars that are normally stacked 2 high with containers. Haven’t seen any eastbound trains since then…

    Maybe I’ll go train spotting for a while tomorrow. They come by every 20 minutes like clockwork.

    Oh, after 9/11 the newly established DHS tried to ban train spotting. The railroads told them to back off- if the train spotters noticed any suspicious characters, they’d let the railroad know long before DHS could spot them.

  36. I just got done with a BS in Networking/Network security that was 100% online including the very functional virtual labs. OK they were very functional except for the Pearson Labs because Pearson. But once they bought other labs it was fine. I interacted with professors as much as I needed to via email and some text/chat and a couple webinars. To this day I don’t know what a single one of them looks like. WGU Western Governors University. They have a teachers college and a bunch of computer science courses and an online business college. They are also inexpensive.

  37. One benefit often overlooked with having to work a hard, grinding, backbreaking entry level job for low pay in a free society is that there’s nothing better to stimulate and provide motivation for getting some skills to move on to something better, and to give one the strength to endure until one gets there.
    Been there, done that, got the scars & aches to prove it.

  38. The medical threat is that a surge of cases means treatable cases are not treated, and then they die. Italy has apparently decided that elderly people will not get access to a vent, as they have run out of vents, so they will treat the young. So the Diamond Princess death figures are not representative of what happens when it gets going. There are some 90,000 ICUs rooms in the US, and on an average day about 35,000 are empty. This is flu season, so it’s less than that today. Not all of these have vents. So if two million people get the virus in a week and the typical 5% need ICU support they all can’t get it because there are not that many ICU rooms in the US. And people won’t stop having heart attacks during a pandemic.

    So it will likely get bad in some places, hopefully not where you are. But then it will get better.

    1. By vents, do you mean ventilators?

      Because there’s three levels for that– oxygen, noninvasive ventilation, and invasive ventilation, and only the last one is unusual to do at home.

      Honorary grandfather got “something” that tore his lungs up about Christmas time, and he’s at home with an oxygen tank.

      1. The problem is that unlike the toilet paper which is already starting to be restocked in a lot of places, you can’t just go build a bunch of extra ventilators, or repurpose one type for another types job.

        Well, you could. But the people who have already proven themselves incompetent to apply a band aid in this situation have to sign off on it.

        1. Except the entire calculation I was responding to is based on the assumption that
          1) only ICU rooms have them,
          2) there isn’t an existing supply elsewhere.

          As Snelson pointed out, CPAP machines are ventilators.

          Let’s limit it to “what you expect to see in a hospital” type ones, though. The kind that require a doctor to order them. And ignoring the invasive ones.

          That’s still something that has multiple companies with stock on hand that were in business way before this got started:

          That’s before you look at businesses that specialize in letting folks hospice at home, which I am pretty sure someone here mentioned recently. They set up the whole hospital bed, right there in your (usually) livingroom.

          Just like how a single backwater hospital in Washington had more incubators that the entire region in Canada– our priorities are massively different than what we’re being compared to.

          Given the lack of information on what exactly he means by vents, and lacking information on how high demand the assisted respiration is if they do need it, there are fatal errors with the calculation.

          1. Yes. I know the ventilator bottleneck could be quickly removed. That is what I said.

            Who has to sign off on that? Oh, the FDA and CDC.

            Fortunately there is a pretty good chance that they will be ignored if it gets bad enough.

            1. Will you please stop involving me with the conversations that are going on inside of your head? Your response has no connection with what I said beyond a vague realization that I wasn’t saying “oh, gosh, yes Ian!”

              1. Kevin’s post was talking about an overloaded medical system running out of ventilators.

                Your and snelson’s responses were about how there are many things that can fill the gap if it became bad.

                Then I pointed out that even though we could easily fill the gap, we don’t have a market in ventilators, because the bureaucrats have to sign off and are incompetent.

                Then you wrote a long and detailed post about how there are alternatives. Ignoring that I had specifically said the problem was regulatory and not physical.

                I responded and tried to make it even more explicit.

                And now I am talking with my head apparently.

                1. Most people over 45 have APAPs these days, even the ones who used them like two nights and went “yeah, no.”
                  According to Italian blogs, that’s the thing they’re most in desperate need of, to help people who are getting worse but not critical yet.

                2. ANY medical thing, these days, the instructions say “bring your APAP if you need one.”
                  And hell, look, we have one extra for long and complex reasons, but not that unusual a set of reasons, so we’re probably not alone. And Americans will RUSH TO HELP.

                3. Your and snelson’s responses were about how there are many things that can fill the gap if it became bad.


                  They were not.

                  Snelson and I pointed out that the “gap” did not exist because it was based on multiple false assumptions.

                  My response was pointing out the initial number was hogwash, and then Snelson pointed out that it was EVEN MORE NONSENSICAL than I thought.

                  It’s as if someone was trying to calculate the number of IV bags in the US, and their initial assumption was “there is exactly one bag per hospital bed.”

                  1. And my point is that sure there is a warehouse of IV bags next door. But as long as the FDA gets to make decisions they won’t allow any of them to be used because they haven’t given their ritual blessing.

                    Actually that could be a benefit of this event: everyone gets the idea that the people making that decision ought to be ignored as much as possible.

                    I don’t know what the numbers are, so I can’t say whether or how much gap there is. I do know the bureaucrats are doing their utmost to make the situation worse. Which is what they universally do. (talking about actions here, not intentions)

                    1. Let me put this as simply as possible:

                      YOUR POINT IS NONSENSE.

                      In the terms of the IV bag example, you’re insisting that the FDA is going to forbid the hospital from grabbing either the IV bags in the room, the IV bags in the hospital’s supply, the IV bags in the private groups that are already doing at-home medical supply, and the companies that currently sell the IV bags to the hospitals, the nursing homes and the home medical care.

                      It would require proactive stupidity in an extremely public manner.

                    2. They *just* did exactly that with the test kits.

                      Any biolab in the country could run those tests. Any hospital could replace the messed up contents that the CDC provided. The FDA said Nope!

                      And “proactive stupidity in an extremely public manner” is the norm. Especially when you have a media that will give you as much Orange Man Bad cover as you could hope for.

                    3. No, Ian, they didn’t.

                      That would only be apples to any sort of fruit if the tests were already in general use and physically in hospitals, nursing homes, ER rooms and a wide range of private medical service providers, PLUS privately owned at home, and they banned all but a tiny subgroup.

  40. Agree with a lot of this. They actually are really wanting us to work from home here, and were even planning on closing the office in this state and having all employees in the state work from home from now on. Two of us have annoying Spouses/Kids/Parents/Nieces/Nephews at home, and want to still have an office, so they’re moving us from a 1200 square foot office for 4 people, to a 100 square foot office for 2 people… Now I’m scrambling to take 250 square feet of equipment I had at the office and move it home so that the remaining 50 square feet of equipment will fit in the new office.

    Also, 1 million is a fair estimate if we only do a mediocre job at containment and treatment. If we do a great job from here on out, we could keep it down under 250k. That would be taking pages from South Korea and Taiwan’s books though. We either need to steal their treatment regimens or rush our own version of theirs through phase 3 trials and start using them, and also all the things Trump said he’d do in his speech. The drive-up testing kiosks is straight out of how South Korea’s handling things on their end, and a very good idea. If we botch it badly like Iran and Italy (and perhaps the UK and Spain) have done, we could go higher than 1 million, but it looks like we’re on the trajectory to avoid that now.

    To quote Mad Mike, “There’s a good chance in a month it will all be a bunch of nothing. If so, it’s because action like this mitigated the threat, not because the threat didn’t exist.”

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