The reaction is all overblown. In some vague sense this was indeed a coup attempt, but in such a pathetic weak disorganised and always utterly hopeless way that it doesn't really deserve the name. Better said, it was a riot, with (as many have commented) laughably weak policing in stark contrast to how BLM was handled. But - as is evident from the pix and vidz - the rioters had no plan, and no idea what to do when they got in. And they could not have had a plan, because what could it have been? Seize the building and hold it? Why: what use would that be: none at all. The only plan that would make sense would be: seize-and-hold and then wait for the national insurrection, which you've just inspired. But, there was none, and their could not have been, cos all the nutters they could dredge up were in the riot.
This brings me to part B, the twilight of the Trump. Various folks have said that Trump will remain dominating the Repubs; might even run in 2024, and so on. I don't believe it. He has not the patience, or the staying power. He will just fuck off and ghost-write his memoirs, or retreat to playing golf, or some other stupid thing.
Which I'll update as interesting things come in. Do I agree with "Don’t exaggerate the threat of the Capitol rioters" from Spiked? Mostly. Certainly the initial stuff. But he disappoints with his But I’m more worried about the anti-democratic elites - which he mostly targets at fb and Twatter for blocking the Mango Mussolini. I think fb and Twatter are being reasonable; even restrained. But I do hope this small episode isn't used to push for yet more securitisation of pols.
Effort to impeach Trump again gathers pace after 'attempted coup' at Capitol says the Graun, and plenty of others (House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would move forward with impeachment if Mr Trump did not resign immediately). Mostly this is rather unattractive you-lost-we-won-now-we're-going-to-grind-your-face-in-the-dust kind of stuff, which is the antithesis of democracy. Remember, part of making transitions violence-free is the assurance that the losers will not be punished - just look at all those African (or Syria) strongmen hanging grimly onto power because if they lose it, they'll be strung up.
At this stage, impeachment seems symbolic, perhaps even nakedly political: there seems little prospect of it going through in time, and perhaps the only real Dem aim is to be able to say later "but Repub X refused to join in". The Dems are spinning the symbolism as "no bad deed should go unpunished" but I don't agree. Lots of bad deed should go unpunished. The best thing to do with Trump is to forget him, not martyr him.
Update: there is unclarity on this. For example, Mitch McConnell: Senate can’t consider Trump impeachment until after term is up would make the impeachment moot; and I think the Dems know this, but they still want to go ahead. So all the twatting about nuclear codes is so much drivel. Is it even possible to impeach someone once they've left office? This tells me that “shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors” which makes me doubtful that it is possible (though the linked article convinces itself otherwise).
Update: Twatter and Free Speech
Twitter permanently suspends Trump's account says Aunty. I have mixed feelings about this. As so often happens (I've seen this on wiki too) after a long period of trouble the actual words cited as outrageous appear rather if not totally innocuous then as rather thin grounds for a ban. The hyperbolic responses that this is the death of free speech are foolish, with proponents of that view unable to see the contradiction in Trump's widely-reported comments on the attempt to silence him.
The first amendment says "Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press" and that is good; but that says nothing about the decisions privately made by private entities. Wiki's FoS page says Freedom of speech is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or a community to articulate their opinions and ideas without fear of retaliation, censorship, or legal sanction. and the only difficult word there, for these purposes, is "censorship", which it defines as the suppression of speech, public communication, or other information, on the basis that such material is considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or "inconvenient." Censorship can be conducted by governments, private institutions, and other controlling bodies. I consider the inclusion of private entities dubious.
Anyway, my mixed feelings: shutting Trump's account may calm things down, at a time when some calm would be valuable; it also sends a signal concerning what are the limits of tolerable behaviour. But it seems terribly late to be doing this, and in not-very-long it will be irrelevant. This kind of political censorship should only be done if necessary, and I am very doubtful that it was necessary.
* It was all a waste of time: Congress confirms Joe Biden's victory - Beeb.
* Editorial: Another call for the justices to speak to the country - SCOTUS blog: an examle of the kind of thing that won't happen.
* IS TRUMP READING BREITBART OR THE GUARDIAN? - though I preferred the original title.
* Capitol riot: Recriminations and arrests after Washington violence - Beeb - for all those saying "why hasn't X been arrested?"
* Social Censorship: The First Offender Model - SSC
* Quotation of the Day… nationalism, socialism, liberalism.
* SCOTUSblog: Justices issue more orders from Friday’s conference, decline to fast-track election-related cases. The Supreme Court on Monday morning issued more orders from the justices’ private conference last week. After adding 14 new cases to their docket for the term on Friday afternoon, the justices were not expected to grant review in additional cases on Monday – and they did not. Monday’s order list was nonetheless noteworthy because the justices turned down a group of requests to expedite the consideration of petitions for review in cases seeking to undo the results of the 2020 presidential election. The denial confirms that the justices will not consider the petitions until after the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, effectively rendering the disputes moot.
* Parler sues Amazon for kicking it off the internet.
* The Economist explains: Can the Senate hold an impeachment trial after a president leaves office? The constitution does not forbid it, but it is uncharted territory.
* Sedition Charges Are Almost Always a Terrible Idea: Laws against sedition have historically been used by insecure officials to punish critics. J.D. TUCCILLE
* YouTube suspends Donald Trump's channel - Beeb. It kinda looks like his power is ebbing away.
In many Congressional districts, the primary is more important than the general election. In those districts, extreme partisan politics is rewarded and centrist politics is punished. This makes bipartisan legislation impossible, because a representative who votes for such legislation will be branded a traitor and voted out of office in the next primary.
But why is this so? In a simple model of politics (the real election, not the primary) voters are sprinkled left-to-right, and each of two candidates wins all the electors "closest to them"; which is to say, all the electors on the side away from the other candidate, and all the ones in-between that are closer to them. This model tends to push candidates towards the middle of the spectrum.
Now consider the primary. Exactly the same applies, except the electorate is different - most points are now either to left, or to right, of the center. So why do we see quotes such as the above (that do seem to have some basis in reality). I'm thinking of primaries in districts where one side is almost certain to win, so the primary is effectively the real election - but nonetheless, the same logic would appear to apply: you should get candidates pushed half-way out, not to extremes.
I'm not sure; it's an interesting question. I'm inclined to believe in a rapid recovery from Covid, looking somewhat on the bright side by hoping for a not-too-badly-fucked-up-vaccination, but a recovery probably accompanied by much more homeworking, which will help suppress emissions. And I'm more optimistic than KC about new solar+wind+tech-in-general, and China and India's adoption of it, and decline in their usage of coal.
Nordhaus expands on his reasoning.
My pic is of Christmas Unikitty who, let me remind you, will tolerate No Negativity At All (as seen as a full-size model in the local Grand Arcade).
Per comments, we have our own betting ring running:
* Anteros: offers £150 (to my £100) of KC's side, up to 2023.
* rustneversleeps: $100 of KC's side, up to 2022.
* Tom: $50 of KC's side, up to 2022 (I presume).
All bets in your preferred currency. I'm not sure exactly what we use as CO2 emissions data... we'll have to be gentlemanly about it; probably (per comments Global Carbon Project). I propose that if it is "close" - defined in some sensible way, possibly as in different data sets give different answers - then the bets are void; they only pay if the answer is "clear".
Jan: Socrates, himself, is particularly missed; A lovely little thinker, but a bugger when he's pissed (42) - Australian wildfires. Bonus: reviewing drafts, I decided to publish the fragment 0.5°C makes a big difference for mitigation?
Feb: Tasting the whole worm; or; "Pielke shumps the jark?" (13).
Mar: Coronavirus days: policy? (30).
Oct: Me on USAnian politics (51).
Dec: A warning on climate and the risk of societal collapse? (61).
The theme for the year is clear enough, but the winner is the more abstract legislation of June. And so another year has slipped by... Happy new Year to all and my thanks for your continued readership.
Note: this isn't the post reviewing what the Coronavirus year has been like, I'm still turning that over in my mind.
Me, D and E on top of Point Louise, Ecrins on a cloudy day. Follow the link for more pix. And any resemblance between the title and the picture is, I swear, entirely accidental and only noticed in arrears.
Exciting new feature: books of the year (prompted by someone else doing it properly). Except it isn't really that, it's just the books I have reviewed. I do these partly to record what I have read, but it's an incomplete list. And, a couple of films.
Dec: Look to Windward
Nov: Howard Zinn: A People's History of the United States (incomplete)
Aug: Bastiat: The Law
Jul: Consider Phlebas
New Year's Day 10k: 40:50.2. A minute slower than last year. HR max 167, 4 lower.
We've finally left. In one sense I think "thank goodness the endless chatter and speculation is finally over"; but I very much doubt it is. My initial view - which you're doubtless interested in - is that the "deal" looks not totally insane, in that it roughly mimics EU membership whilst regrettably losing things like free movement; but really it looks like "why would you bother" - the nominal sovereignty gains appear weak enough to be not worth it, except to fanatics.
But I hope to think about this more carefully in future.
And, well, I suppose the promoters of "Singapore-on-Thames" will get their chance to show they mean it. Ho ho.
* My Top 12 Blog Posts of 2020 by David Henderson
* When May We Be Happy? by Bryan Caplan
The carbon tax part first, prompted by the-Ken-formerly-known-as-ATTP's not understanding my carbon taxes are ensuring that the costs of emissions are factored into those emissions; a subtle but important difference [from the idea that they are a payment for the damages]. I say "my" but the idea is of course not mine, and was transmitted to me by Timmy (via PeteB in that case, but I'm pretty sure there's a better example I failed to find). Also, disclaimer, IAMAE. This is all part of prices-are-information theory. For most things, the price of the thing reflects the cost of making it (and marketing it, and so on) and you-the-consumer get to decide if that price is low enough for you to want to buy it. And so we have economically sane activity: things are bought (and therefore, are made) if there is demand, at price. But there are externalities, the most obvious of which is CO2, whose cost is not in the product. And so we risk economically insane activity: things being made, whose (total, true) cost is less than their sale price. Which is to say, the process destroys rather than creates value.
This version of the theory doesn't require govts to use the carbon tax proceeds for any particular cause... building windmills, paying for storm prevention, insulating homes, whatever. The other version, KR's which I shall unkindly call the "naive theory", is that the carbon tax is paying, in advance, for a cost that will be incurred). This is - I now think - a mistake, but one I've made before1. If it is a mistake, it should have some consequences; ideally I'd be able to say "but then when you apply it to this, it all goes wrong". But I think it is only a theoretical mistake; sort-of like the way using a Hamiltonian helps you to get from classical to QM physics.
The Covid pandemic rolls on, depressingly. There's a new strain, of greater transmissibility but as yet not-known-greater-damage; Cambridge(shire) is in tier 4, thus scuppering my plans to visit the Lakes (I say these things for context so that when I come back in years future I'll know about where we are).
But just as, in theory, a carbon tax is a liberty-preserving solution to GW, is there an equivalent to lockdowns (which greatly resemble, because indeed they are, regulation). JA offers In theory we could pay for people to isolate as required. That itself wouldn’t solve the problem but it would surely help but I think that's problematic (I think he intends this as a liberty-preserving solution, not as a solution; but I don't think it is. The liberty it doesn't preserve, in case it isn't visible at first sight, is of the people you'll have to take the money from). If you want the "std" answer (with the caveat that there isn't a std answer4) then I think the best presentation I've seen is Life-Years Lost: The Quantity and The Quality by Bryan Caplan. This attempts to use cost-benefit analysis3 to show that reaction2 to Covid has cost more than the unchecked pandemic would have cost (and was therefore a bad idea).
I don't know whether I believe it or not; I incline towards belief. The analogy I'd use - and argument from analogy is always valid, recall - to answer the inevitable "but people would die; life degraded through lower quality doesn't matter in the same way; you can't sum up lives" is with the inevitable reactions to protectionism: the benefits (preserving our jobs) are visible and accrue to obvious people; the losses (higher costs for everyone; bureaucracy; more govt) are diffuse and hard to see.
interreg isn't a thing I'm familiar with. My picture is of a poster - found on the kiosk on Jesus Green near the lock - which says there is an initiative to increase tree cover in Cambridge. I can't say I've noticed any such, or even that there are obvious ways to do so. It might draw a hollow laugh from the folks on Milton road who have tied yellow ribbons around their trees to protest plans to cut them down. But don't let me be too negative; there may be some as-yet-unperceived value in the scheme. Indeed this bit is part of Nature Smart Cities across the 2 Seas programme and specifically the Cambridge bit is Cambridge Canopy Project: the average tree canopy cover figure is 16% in England. Cambridge currently has 17% tree canopy cover. We are working to increase this to 19%, which will need more than 800,000m2 of new tree cover.
Probably a mistake, but I can't resist. At the time of the initial outbreaks, much was made of the incompetence of the right-wing US and UK govts in contrast to the more successful socialist responses of various countries, most notably Germany. But that success - though you could note various factors that made it plausible - was always a bit mysterious, and has fallen apart recently. Though I've left it long enough that they're back below us now (although possibly the over-Christmas data isn't totally reliable, and the sharp falls from US, Germany and France might be spurious). And yes, if you count cumulative deaths then Germany has done significantly better.
Update: economics and morality
The Twitter conversation continues as, apparently, a sequence of misunderstandings on my part: see the conversation, perhaps ending at KR's All I really mean is that how we assess the costs cannot really be done in a truly value-free way. So, even if we do decide to estimate the price of carbon emissions and to then use that to set a carbon tax, this is not a value-free assessment. With which I have no disagreement. Some aspects of economic costs of GW are explicitly value judgements: how much do we value lost mountain glaciers? And some are value judgements, but wrapped in economics: if we lose winter skiing, how many jobs are lost? The latter is more measureable, but still value judgements, because the choices of the people that wanted to go skiing are inevitably part of the economics.
You might - if you have a decent memory - object that this contradicts my earlier That it is easier to agree on economics than morality and in some ways it does, or at least pushes against it. And so - given that there are people who would make the mistake of calling economics value-free - it isn't unreasonable for KR to make this point. I'll paraphrase what I said at Morality and economics: I don’t, of course, mean to suggest that it is entirely an economic and not at all an ethical problem. I mean to suggest (see aforementioned post) that thinking about it primarily as ethical [value-judgement] is unhelpful.
Update: FT's sausage pic
Updated, in response to CIP's comment, the FT's "sausage" pic, which to me shows that initially it was all EU and US; in the middle, EU dwindles to nothing and the US is a small proportion of the global total; and now Europe plus US is 60+% ot the total whilst everyone else is sort-of stable. Admittedly, these are reported, so perhaps it is possible that Europe and US are better at the reporting; but I can't see how that explains it all.
* Congratulations to James and Jules for being part of Science breakthrough of the year (runner-up).
* Donald Trump's influence will evaporate once he leaves office. Here's why; Julius Krein, in the Graun. This is close to what I think, but few others seem to be saying; our celeb-obsessed news world, sez I. Trump, out of power, will fade away; and doesn't have the staying power to regroup for 2024.
* Not even half-way there - JA
* New Year Wish: Political Wars of Religion? by Pierre Lemieux - the will of the People
1. Also I have a feeling that when I said this before, Richard Tol said no, it was also paying for damages, so if you prefer you may take his viewpoint with some degree of support.
2. An analogy that he doesn't make is the immune system's allergic response.
3. See my failed attempt to propose similar.
4. Another is Lockdowns and the Presumption of Liberty by Don Boudreaux; or Nice vaccine; pity there's no distribution mechanism by Scott Sumner
Or so I wrote about a week ago, thought "nah, even I don't care enough", and left it in draft. But now, you lucky people, you get to read these words 'cos ATTP has blogged on it3 - and tastefully quotes me, always nice to see. His justification is I think we should be willing to discuss worst-case scenarios so as to, ideally, avoid them, and while that is an uplifting sentiment, it doesn't justify the letter, because the letter adds absolutely nothing, and we're already discussing GW, under whatever name you please. As usual in these discussions, there's a sop to the whatever-you-call-them by talking about "global north" but this is a pointless distinction best ignored. There are various WYCT countries where society actually is collapsing - Sudan, say; or Yemen, depending on your standards for this ill-defined "collapse" - but this has little to do with GW2 and almost everything to do with crap govt, either in the country concerned or its neighbours.
Having said that, since I bothered to write the words below, I'll publish them:
Let's start with While bold and fair efforts to cut emissions and naturally drawdown carbon are essential. That sounds both noble and bold. One pictures a mighty Climate Leader, helping hand supporting some oppressed peasants, noble chin uplifted and mighty hand pointing boldly forwards into the glorious carbon-neutral future. But actually, restricting yourself strictly to "fair" efforts is a mistake: would you really refuse to save the planet, if it was only possibly to do so unfairly? And notice that they say that fairness is essential, so that is what they are saying. Nor can it be turned around: it is not plausible to claim that only fair efforts have any chance of success. Similarly, I'm doubtful of the bold part of the claim, with it's implication of extraordinary efforts designed to scare off people who are doubtful of the Cause. More likely commonplace efforts and sanity (like the Krauts not shutting down their nukes, the Yankees not slapping tariffs on Chink solar panels) and a carbon tax would do1.
Continuing, researchers in many areas consider societal collapse a credible scenario this century. Do they really? How might we evaluate such a claim? Well, if only the idiots who wrote the letter had provided some details, or even a link to the details elsewhere, it could be evaluated. Failing that, it's just empty words. For my part, I think certain groups of people are rather prone to overestimate the fragility of society; everything from Covid to the so-called Great Recession is taken of evidence of such fragility, rather than what it actually is, i.e. the reverse.
I think you can tell how broken their thinking is from their worry about the way modern societies exploit people. Yes, exploiting people is indeed a concern, but has little or nothing to do with the possibility of collapse. It is a perfectly valid concern about fairness, which they're entirely welcome to worry about, but mixing it all together with GW into a muddy slurry of words helps no-one.
Who is responsible for this guff? If you click on "246 others" you end up at http://iflas.blogspot.com/2020/12/international-scholars-warning-on.html which leads me to https://www.cumbria.ac.uk/research/centres/iflas/our-people/ which leads me to Jem Bendell. Say no more guv.
Update: so, does thinking about "societal collapse" help? Although I've criticised their thinking as broken, what about the underlying idea: does framing the problem in terms of societal collapse help at all? It doesn't seem to have helped them - other than in the matter of that all-important publication count and getting your name in the papers - because they didn't manage to say anything interesting or new. The "bar" of interest is I think 2 oC - or arguably 1.5 oC - because we've already "agreed" so-to-speak to limit ourselves to +2 oC, so anything that kicks in much higher than that isn't very interesting. Would SC happen before +2? If ecosystems collapse, then perhaps, but we're already worrying about EC, so that gets you nothing. Is there some excitingly non-linear effect that we're missing? If so, we're missing it, and this hasn't helped find it. Perhaps the subtext is "ooooooh, modern society is so complex and therefore fragile, we should, like, go back to a simpler era maan and live in harmony with nature". But that's wrong: modern society is complex and therefore resilient.
* If it isn’t catastrophic we’ve got nothing to worry about, have we? - my post that ATTP refs, but at the Wordpress address. Those were the days when I could just toss off a quick post.
* Welfare in the 21st century: Increasing development, reducing inequality, the impact of climate change, and the cost of climate policies - BjornLomborg4
* The impact of climate change, and the cost of climate policies - ATTP.
1. You could argue that such efforts are out of the ordinary, which in this world alas is true. And yes, I know it's too late for the Krauts.
2. And phrasing it as "Not all of this is climate related" is I think deceptive.
3. Which is fine. Re-reading this, I may sound a bit harsh on him, which I don't intend, but rather than rephrase anything I'll just add this little note which will make everything better.
4. Reminder. Inclusion of a reference does not imply that I agree with it.
I turned up somewhat earlier, but I cannot now recall how early; certainly, after I joined BAs in 1990. Almost the first thing I saw was the classic "what do you mean 'we', white man?" joke, immeadiately followed in true welcome-to-Usenet style by some fool misunderstanding it and getting all huffy.
The great virtue of Usenet was that no-one owned it and anyone could post. The great vice of Usenet was that no-one owned it and so anyone could post1. My recollection is that things got worse, particularly as internet access became more common and more fools came online, but that may just me believing in the Age of Gold, which you shouldn't, except for exceptional cases. Nonetheless, it did do away with tedious arguments about comment censorship on blogs, and I did sometimes advise people to post there during the period they ran in parallel; I gave up Usenet in 2006.
The cast of characters in those days was rather different. When I turned up folks like Robert Grumbine, Michael Tobis were already there, and now I look at early 2005 so were Raymond Pierrehumbert, Len Evens, Carlo Izzo, Robert Parson, Rich Puchalsky, John McCarthy, Jan Schloerer, Dean Myerson, David B. Benson, Paul Farrar, Carl J Lydick, James Annan, Ian St. John, David Ball, Coby Beck, Lloyd Parker, FerdiEgb, Roger Coppock, Eric Swanson, Steve Schulin, Scott Nudds, Bruce Hamilton, Thomas Palm, H. E. Taylor, Steinn Sigurdsson, Alastair McDonald, Peter Hearnden, James B. Shearer, Josh Halpern and probably many others who I have rudely forgotten, but those are all names I recall, somewhat vaguely, and could probably divide roughly into "good", "bad" and "squonk", which latter class I've just had to invent; if it helps, JMC is put into it. For these were early days, the science of GW was unclear (do not believe the fools that tell you we knew it all in 1960, or 1970, or 1980...), most of that science was not on the web (because the web didn't exist; recall that Netscape was formed in 1994) but was "hidden" in hard to access libraries; even the 1990 IPCC report wasn't widely available. "Yeah, GW might be a thing, but I am unconvinced" wasn't an unreasonable position, for anyone unfamiliar with the science. The unambiguously "bad" were a small minority.
So quite a lot of the conversation was noobs asking noob questions and getting polite and useful replies. The rest of it, apart from pure noise, was the usual kind of global warming wars. Over time, it became obvious that something more consolidated and buildable was more useful for the general-questions aspect; Wikipedia came to fill that role.
There was also sci.geo.meteorology, which was more science-like, as you'd hope, and thus lower traffic, as you'd expect. For example, someone in 1995 asked for the BAS website, and I pointed them to our FTP, which had GTS data. There was also talk.environment, but that was even noisier than sci., and I think I ignored it.
What did we talk about? The earliest thread I can find is about what would a zero CO2 world be like? JMC wanted to tell us why we should postpone coming to a steady state in population, energy use, and flow of materials for 50 or 100 years. Hugh Easton got in early on that perennial favourite, Will polar ice melt more quickly than previously thought? There was a kinda thread on can-forcing-produce-negative-output but it didn't go terribly well. We even did solar cycle length and solar forcing; but that was before Damon and Laut.
Well, that will do. On the whole, I didn't find wading through the past particularly enlightening.
You might thing that the "Congress" in that limits the clause to the Feds, but this is not so, by the incorporation doctrine; for "Congress", read "any layer of govt".
People make the most basic of errors in reporting on this2. The NYT, which really should know better, asserts that "In an unsigned opinion, the majority said Mr. Cuomo’s restrictions violated the First Amendment’s protection of the free exercise of religion". But that's not true. Instead, it has said that the applicants "have shown that their First Amendment claims are likely to prevail". This is, after all, but an injunction, not a judgement. It merely prevents NY from "enforcing Executive Order 202.68’s 10- and 25-person occupancy limits on applicant pending disposition of the appeal in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and disposition of the petition for a writ of certiorari, if such writ is timely sought". This is the court doing the bare minimum it can, whilst having regard to the constitution; and reserving the right to change it's mind later. Doubtless they hope that the lower courts will decide, and it won't come back to them, now they've fired this warning shot.
The facts of the case are generally agreed, except for how restricted the religious were, in comparison to comparable secular institutions. Here the concept of "essential" businesses comes in, and NY (and the dissents) rely rather heavily on the literal use of the word essential. If this word could be clearly used and had a clear meaning that might work; but it can't and it doesn't: businesses are things that sell things or services, and one persons essential is another's frippery; as Gorsuch notes, "acupuncturists, and liquor stores" are on the essential list. The religious also note, and I don't see NY denying, that large stores had no attendance limits imposed on them. The imposed limits made no concessions to the size of the building, and this seems like a simple error on NY's part, as the ruling makes clear: "Among other things, the maximum attendance at a religious service could be tied to the size of the church or synagogue". If NY offers any explanation for why it refuses to do this, I missed it. And I really really hate it when da govt behaves unreasonably and refuses to explain itself.
Although the case turns on FE, I'd also take more seriously "shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion"; ideally laws should simply not mention religion; they should be written in a general way ("any building may only have x people per y square meters of floor area...").
The dissent leans on the religious being treated no more harshly than, say, lecture theatres or cinemas. And there's a question there: do you compare the treatment of the religious to those you're treating most harshly, or those you're treating least harshly, or those you think are most comparable, in some sense. G deals with this by asserting that if you create a "favoured" class - the so-called essential - then you must compare the religious to that. This is, incidentally, admitting that the FE clause isn't absolute; that the state may override it if essential; and that deference is due to the executive; but this is nothing new.
Roberts says that the case is moot - as it technically is at this point - because the religious are not currently afflicted by the zones; and therefore would deny relief, whilst admitting that if things change, they could come back. That seems like a combination of an attempt to keep the peace of his polarised court, and a laudable attempt to avoiding ruling where no ruling is needed. Although "keeping lawyers out of USAnian life" is a ship that has sailed.
Overall, I think this represents the court giving a rap over the knuckles to arbitrary govt, and I approve of that. If your response is "but this will lead to super-spreading" then you've failed to notice that all agree that it is currently moot.
Other people's opinions
Brian: I'm shocked at how conservative judges have manipulated the law but shouldn't be. Power to quarantine is a fundamental power of govt dating centuries. Right not to be quarantined is an unenumerated right wholly invented by conservatives, in the last year. My reply: That seems mad. You may not like the decision but it could be reasonably argued either way.
So, the main point: Brian errs, I am certain, by regarding the judgement as outside the bounds of reason. I happen to think it was right, but had it gone the other way, it would have been merely a different and not unreasonable interpretation. Secondary: Brian is here trying to win the argument by "stealing" words. There is no "Right not to be quarantined" and no-one has suggested there is any such right; instead, there is a right to liberty and freedom from unreasonable govt interference, and the quarantine is just an aspect of that. "Power to quarantine" is somewhat dubious; this rests less on anything explicit and mostly on people-have-done-that-before; like, for example, interning Japanese-ancestry folk during WWI.
There's been a fair amount of complaints in the UK about the govt not showing proper respect for court judgements, and I think complaints about Trump, too; so what about Cuomo. I think he fails: the NYT quotes him saying "You have a different court, and I think that was the statement that the court was making... We know who [Trump] appointed to the court. We know their ideology".
Christian school in Kentucky asks justices to intervene in dispute over in-person classes at religious schools looks to be taking the piss: this is a case where the state has closed public and private elementary, middle, and high schools and the religious want a pass. I think they'll lose, and that they should.
1. Yes yes I know, I'm being provocative, this is the broad-brush intro, read on for the details.
2. A hostage to fortune if there ever was one. Go on, do your worst.
* The Pivotal Justice in the Supreme Court Decision? by Pierre Lemieux. The "The" point is one I thought about then decided to ignore, as uninteresting. But the last para is worth copying: An observation of a different sort is that all three Justices nominated by outgoing president Donald Trump voted to defend freedom of religion guaranteed by the First Amendment, which is a good point in his favor—although he himself, to say the least, did not demonstrate strong preferences for the free-speech protections in the same amendment. The Supreme Court decision also suggests that conservative judges are often more likely to protect individual liberties than “liberal” ones, even if caveats are in order, including regarding Justice Roberts in this case. We are told that Trump consulted the Federalist Society on judicial nominations instead of relying on his empty and dangerous intuitions. One wishes he had done the same on trade and other economic matters.
If you look at my talk page, you'll find the case of 2010, Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Case/Climate change, which ran June to October. If you're wondering what I thought about it, you can read my talk page, trawl through my responses at the case, or read what I wrote at the time, They make a wasteland and call it peace; having just re-read that, I haven't changed my mind.
Preceeding, and somewhat overlapping with that, was Wikipedia:General sanctions/Climate change probation/RFC. This was a sort-of attempt to handle the problem within the community, rather than via Arbcomm. It didn't work - we ended up with an Arbcomm case - for a variety of reasons, mostly the entrenched disagreements, but also because of Admin fuckwittery. It is perhaps unfair to single out anyone in particular since the problem was widespread; The Wordsmith and I think Lar spring to mind; but it was a long time ago and I'm afraid I haven't kept the burning flame of animosity as bright as I might have hoped.
Not directly relevant to GW, but affecting my wiki-reputation and so indirectly relevant, was 2009's Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Case/Cold fusion 2, which is the one that got me de-sysopped. I wrote something about that in Up before the beak again; that, too, demonstrated Arbcomm's stupidity, in failing to realise that Abd was a useless twat. Preceeding that was another case, which is hard to interpret unless you know that Giano has a lot of influential friends.
Before that, so long ago that I found it hard to find, was Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Climate change dispute. That was a much smaller issue mostly caused by two denialists; it featured the Great Edit War over the Greenhouse Effect article. That case was also poorly handled, though it improved in Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Climate change dispute 2 when the revert parole on me was declared a mistake and removed; thnx Stephan. See-also Connolley has done such amazing work...
Returning back to 2010 post Arbcomm, what was the result? Apart from the regrettable scorched-earth stuff, it was a Victory for Science, in that the articles remained sane. There's a long-standing question of why the denialists and nutters fared so badly; not really understanding the science didn't help them, of course; but the exact mechanism or process by which this works out is obscure.
* Wikipedia as soap opera - 2005
Perhaps a place to start is The Economist's The pragmatist: Joe Biden would not remake America’s economy: He would improve its fortunes, though. It isn't anything very complimentary, mostly a discussion of a list of special cases, because Biden - as far as I can tell - doesn't have much in the way of principles1 that you could derive general policies from, and so would govern by a series of ad-hoc decisions. Not as badly as Trump, though, since Trump often seems to be either genuinely malicious or shamelessly self-centered. A quote: having rejected its signature policies and outmanoeuvred its star figures, Mr Biden might try to placate the left of his party by giving it lots of jobs in the regulatory apparatus where they would emit a cacophony of left-sounding signals.
Another place might be my WATN: Trump from 2018, wherein I defend my assessment of him overall as "minor"5. Given all the outrage that might seem perverse, but - as the Economist notes - while Biden might be nicer than Trump there are quite a few dumb Trump policies, most obviously tariffs on China, that Biden isn't in any hurry to revoke, at least judging him by public utterances. And yet, conversely, if those hadn't been in place I doubt he'd have added them. So he seems rather a let-things-be kinda guy. While this is an improvement on Trumps do-random-dumb-things, it doesn't seem terribly glorious or inspiring or principled.
What would I like to see him say that he hasn't? That he'd drop the protectionism (he won't say this, but might slowly edge that way, quietly); that he'd push for voting reform such as prohibiting gerrymandering; that he'd continue Trump's people's deregulationary intent (obviously, no hope there); that he'd like a carbon tax. That's he'd back away from the Google-bashing Trump has started so strangely. And so on.
The Evil Repubs have pushed through Amy Coney Barrett, thereby demonstrating conclusively that they are not gentlemen; the Dems, alas, had no real principle with which to oppose this: their pathetically weak argument was that the Repubs had said, four years ago, that they wouldn't do this kind of thing. Suppose the Dems are in any position to do anything about this (which I take to mean controlling the presidency and the senate) what should they do? Astonishingly, Biden's plan - a special commission to suggest supreme court reforms - makes sense to me. Despite all the angst, ACB will probably turn out much less exciting than feared4; and the threat of court-packing will probably constrain the court. And if you did want to "rebalance" as Brian does, adding two seats to a 6-3 split isn't really going to help; you'd need to be bold and add 4, which would probably be regarded as Well Over The Top.
Repubs post Trump
Shirley it is not too much to hope that, if Trump is defeated, the Repubs will come to their senses? I like Steve Landsburg's My fantasy outcome for next week’s election is for Trump to lose every state by a wide margin while mainstream Republicans take over both houses of Congress and revert to their better selves.
* America’s election: Why it has to be Biden: Donald Trump has desecrated the values that make America a beacon to the world - the Economist: THE COUNTRY that elected Donald Trump in 2016 was unhappy and divided. The country he is asking to re-elect him is more unhappy and more divided. After almost four years of his leadership, politics is even angrier than it was and partisanship even less constrained. Daily life is consumed by a pandemic that has registered almost 230,000 deaths amid bickering, buck-passing and lies. Much of that is Mr Trump’s doing, and his victory on November 3rd would endorse it all. Joe Biden is not a miracle cure for what ails America. But he is a good man who would restore steadiness and civility to the White House. He is equipped to begin the long, difficult task of putting a fractured country back together again. That is why, if we had a vote, it would go to Joe. And then quite interestingly Mr Trump has fallen short less in his role as the head of America’s government than as the head of state. He and his administration can claim their share of political wins and losses, just like administrations before them. But as the guardian of America’s values, the conscience of the nation and America’s voice in the world, he has dismally failed to measure up to the task.
* The Volokh Conspiracy: Why Biden is a Lesser Evil than Trump by ILYA SOMIN.
* Trump no more: Joe Biden is set to capture the White House: After a hard electoral battle the Democrats have almost certainly won the presidency, but they have done less well than they had hoped - the Economist.
* Why a Vast Election Fraud is Highly Implausible by Pierre Lemieux
* America changes course, while remaining very much the same - the Economist: in other words, this race ended up looking very much like what would occur if a generic Republican ran against a generic Democrat in a year when not much of note took place.
1. Distinguish "doesn't have much in the way of principles" as in not really having anything that would guide your political course from "is unprincipled" meaning "a bad person; untrustworthy".
2. For anyone uncertain, I'm in the UK, so I don't have a vote. Elections like this, with candidates like these, are a great advert for the idea of "negative voting"; I'd vote "not Trump", if I could, in preference to "for Biden".
3. With the appropriate genuflections to the gods for the impiety of being hopeful out loud.
4. This is my SCOTUS prediction. That, and to note that Gorsuch and Kavanaugh haven't done anything outrageous yet.
5. Clear evidence of this is found in Counterfactuals: What If Clinton Had Won in 2016? by Pierre Lemieux.
Can they really prove this? Of course: In a 1975 paper in Science, she asserted that aerosols caused "heating of the atmosphere near the poles... published in the Journal of Applied Meteorology in 1979. It focused on albedo, or the measure of how well a surface reflects sunlight. Their second paper, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research in 1981, explored "increases in the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide." Or perhaps you prefer: Before arriving at Ford, Plass had published a series of eye-grabbing pieces on the climate, including a 1956 article in the magazine American Scientist titled "Carbon Dioxide and the Climate" and a 1956 paper in the journal Tellus titled "The Carbon Dioxide Theory of Climatic Change." And so on. In case you should think that these papers were ignored - and therefore the auto-makers, who, errm, sponsored them before they employed these people, errrm, had some kind of inside track, E&E helpfully destroys its own case by noting that Plass' findings reached the highest levels of the U.S. scientific community.
Yup, you read that right: their evidence was that they published public research papers. In other words, the "GM, Ford knew", with its implication (actually, more than an implication: E&E lies directly: More than two decades after GM and Ford privately confirmed the dangers of climate change...) of sekrit knowledge, is utter drivel: whatever they knew was public. This is the fruit of a months long investigation?
All of this stuff is stupid. It is done by idiots trying to plump up their public profile, and with a future eye on lawsuits, which judging by Alsup will fall over horribly because they will learn nothing from that case. The idea that people really knew with any confidence about GW in the 1960s is obvious drivel; see previous posts; at best, you could claim that the first IPCC report in 1990 is a good date, but even that is doubtful, if you've ever read the thing. The idea that the oil companies, or anyone else, knew anything sekrit is also drivel: #everyoneknew.
* More drivel, this time a Twat from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: I’m willing to hold you accountable for lying about climate change for 30 years when you secretly knew the entire time that fossil fuels emissions would destroy our planet. Fuckwit.
But now let us turn our thoughts towards the future, helpfully projected - note, projected, not predicted - by JA. We see a peak of perhaps 5k stiffs/day5, about 5x the initial peak, and surely that would not be tolerable; our medical services would be overwhelmed, not to mention the sadness of so many premature deaths.
But we have left it rather late to turn the ship around. As JA thoughtfully notes today, we have "baked in" a significant increase already, and unless the govt does something soon other than rename things, we'll soon be baking even more.
In retrospect, the relaxation in July instead of continuing to drive the numbers down, looks to be an error. But I'm pretty sure the natives were getting restless at that point - see comment above about our poor-quality population - and the relaxation was definitely popular. So overall I'd say we're getting the epidemic we deserve, and I feel somewhat pessimistic about the future3.
Leaving aside the prospects of a higher quality citizenry, the other obvious failing is anything vaguely competent in the nature of test, or trace. The latter I think I have something of a hard time believing in, but the test element could be done so much better, and should be. It also looks like I am to some extent getting what I wished for in "Regionalism", but in the confused atmosphere of a state occupied by morons, I see how hard this concept is to explain. Can we perhaps be more Swedish? I wanted to say something sympathetic about The Great Barrington Declaration, too. So I have.
People - including Labour - have called for a "circuit-breaker" of a couple of weeks. I think this is an example of people giving a name to an idea, and then taking the name for the thing, an imagining that because the thing has a given name, it will work as the name implies. But reality isn't like that.
Cruel though it is to say it from my comfortable position, I don't think the impact on GDP is as large or as important as it looks. To an extent, we're losing "fluff". Of course I regret losing my weekly coffee-in-Waterstone's, and this loss reduces GDP, and someone is no longer being paid to serve it to me; but this loss in the service economy isn't as serious as losing food production or imports; and so on. It also implies, to my mind, in a rather half-formed thought, that the country can "afford" to continue paying wages for those so laid off; though in this experiment, to maintain balance, the money would have to come from the likes of me, which is to say higher taxes.
Things are getting somewhat confusing. In our own parochial UK... no wait, in our own parochial East, things aren't too bad; we're one of the lower regions. But in the UK as a whole, there's uncertainty. There are so many clamouring voices saying so many things, it's no wonder people don't really know what is going on. Some of the voices are genuinely trying to help, some are just looking for the oxygen of publicity, but the end result is unclarity.
I think the prime example of this is Covid-19: Growth in cases may be slowing in England:
The growth in cases of coronavirus may be slowing down, the largest study of the infection in England suggests. A team at Imperial College London analysed samples from 84,000 people chosen at random from across the country. They said the R number, the virus's reproduction number, appears to have fallen since measures including the "rule of six" were introduced. However, they warn cases are high, with one in every 200 people infected. The React study is highly influential, both due to its size and because it gives an up-to-date picture of how the virus is spreading. The last samples used in the analysis were collected as recently as Saturday. It was the previous React report that found infections were doubling every seven to eight days in late August and early September... Then the research group estimated the R number for their study - the average number of people each infected person is passing the virus on to - was 1.7. The latest analysis, of swab samples collected between 19 and 26 September, suggests the R number has fallen to about 1.1 - although the precise figure is uncertain.
This is from Dear Aunty Beeb, you can trust her even in times of war, and all that gumpf. However is it true? Probably not. Consider the pic, stolen from Oliver Johnson's Twat. It-was-1.7-it-is-now-1.1 is based on interpretation B. Whereas interpretation A seems more natural. Apart from anything else, B is discontinuous, which is unphysical. Also I just don't trust their underlying "explanation" for the slowdown: that the Glorious Leader's "rule of six" has pulled down R. That may have made some difference, but not a lot; and the return-to-school and return-to-university has certainly pulled the numbers in the opposite direction; finger-in-the-air, I'd say those latter two will have made more difference. JA is barely able to believe that people are still falling for this stuff, and yet they do. People want the Bad Thing to go away.
[Update: alerted by Twatter, I bothered to read further down the article, and find However, Prof Oliver Johnson, from the University of Bristol, said the conclusion that cases were slowing down was "wrong and dangerous". And he doubts both the old and the new estimates of the R value. He said: "I suspect they were both wrong, and it was actually more like R=1.4 each time.". So not finding that the first time was a bit crap of me. But burying it so far down was even crapper of the Beeb.
More people not being dead impressed can be found at [E]xpert reaction to preprint with the latest interim data from the REACT-1 study on COVID-19 spread across England, but even there they lead with someone liking it.]
Also, version A is consistent with James Annan's daily-updated modelling, which looks vastly more sane than anything Imperial have been able to do. I admit that I did lose faith a little when deaths clearly fell below the curve towards the end of August, but happily the corpses have started stacking up since then, and my trust is restored.
The govt of course has not helped the aura of confusion by being a pack of incompetent clowns; but there's more blame to go round. The media have been irresponsible too, and not a few of my fellow citizens have been dumb enough to go out partying, the tossers1.
It is conventional to compare Science in Covid and Global Warming. When Science delivers us a vaccine, all will be well let us hope, but at the moment Science isn't doing a brilliant job on Covid, except in a rather confused, muddling-along, ants-moving-a-leaf kind of way. Certainly in the UK we haven't managed to get any competent unified voice speaking sense. SAGE is too tied to the govt; and anyway doesn't seem to manage to be particularly sensible, and doesn't really speak in public. Unlike, say, the IPCC. Though the IPCC has the luxury of much longer timescales; and doesn't I think say much that is influential on the economics, instead grinding over long-solved problems in ever greater detail2.
Indeed the competence of (local?) govt seems to be more important than Science; though the latest FT Covid pix blow the idea of some Socialist Miracle; France and Spain now have deaths well over the UK; only the Squareheads are looking good.
Away from whingeing, via Paul, This Overlooked Variable Is the Key to the Pandemic from The Atlantic. Oversold, of course, but perhaps correct in that looking at the average too much hides important information.
* Today's random restrictions, by region - DailyMash
* Self-Help Is Like a Vaccine by Bryan Caplan
* Ridiculous Widespread Beliefs by DON BOUDREAUX and Expert Failure to Know
* CAN CARBON-NEGATIVE SOLAR CREMATION ECLIPSE THE ANTINOMY OF CASTE-NEUTRAL SUTTEE?
* Jeez People, Get This Right - Timmy
* Adding to my JA Twit collection; shame he is so restrained.
* Opinion: The case for voting against presidential candidates by GEORGE LEEF. But, why only for presidential voting? I've advocated similar, but can't now find where. Related: Why Can't They Both Lose?
1. Anecdote: a friend of my daughter's is at St Andrews, now isolating in his household, because another member of the household has got Covid, due to going out and screwing around. This is irresponsible, but on a statistical level that's going to happen when young folk go away from home.
2. I exaggerate for effect, you understand.