Three Things: Numbers, Hearings and Racist Code

There’s always more than three things to address but here’s three we should look at more closely.

~ 3 ~
This is what we’re up against.

823 Americans have died of COVID-19 since yesterday. In contrast, South Korea, which learned of its first case of COVID-19 the same day the U.S. learned of its own, has only lost 281 of its citizens.

We lost not one American to an attempted shoe bombing in 2001 and yet an immediate program was developed and implemented to detect future shoe bombing attempts, requiring air travelers to take off their damned shoes and go through multiple screenings.

But Trump can’t be arsed to shut up and let the professionals handle stopping an ongoing daily stream of deaths from COVID-19.

This administration is killing Americans. Trump’s not even hiding the fact he’s willing to ignore deaths to manipulate numbers by insisting testing for the virus should be suppressed. He has the temerity to brag about his performance which has resulted in the unnecessary deaths of more than 120,000 Americans.

Yesterday the House Committee on Energy and Commerce held a hearing on oversight of the Trump Administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Called to testify before the committee:

Robert R. Redfield, M.D., Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (statement at 27:39)

Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., Director, National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes o Health (at 33:40)

Admiral Brett P. Giroir, M.D., Assistant Secretary for Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (at 38:25)

Stephen M. Hahn, M.D., Commissioner, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (at 43:54)


Some of the GOP’s efforts are useless, wasteful filibustering — like Rep. Bob Latta’s (OH-5) question about how the human body makes antibodies. This is something he should have been briefed on let alone read on his own long before this hearing. He should have read this basic biology question MONTHS AGO when the pandemic began. So was his question about how the vaccine would be distributed WHEN WE’RE 6-18 MONTHS OUT AT BEST from having a viable, effective, safe vaccine through Phase III trials.

Rep. Diana DeGette asked Fauci about vaccine development (at about 1:28:00); I think he was extremely optimistic saying he thought there would be one by early 2021. But the question wasn’t as specific as it should have been; there are clinical trials in progress for a couple of candidates, but it’s not clear what phase they are in.

Reported last week by StatNews:

There are more than 100 projects around the world centered on the development of a vaccine for the coronavirus. As of May 11, eight candidate vaccines were being tested in clinical trials in people.

An official at the National Institutes of Health said in mid-May that large-scale testing could begin in July with a vaccine potentially available by January.

Other experts say the more likely timeline is summer or fall of 2021.

The other factor beyond the capabilities of the vaccines and developers which will predict the time to public distribution is Congress and the White House.

If we still have that malicious narcissist in the Oval Office without a veto-proof Democratic majority in the Senate, nationwide roll-out of a vaccine by the U.S. government may not happen even if an efficacious vaccine is found.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 don’t care…

Just like Trump.

~ 2 ~
The Mary Sue presented a nice overview of what happened in Tulsa this past weekend.

In short, Team Trump fucked themselves hard.

What happened this weekend was supposed to be a point where Trump turned the narrative back in his favor and moved the attention away from the activists and change that have controlled the news cycle for months. But what really happened was instead of taking the attention away from the K-Pop teens for his failures, those things all combined to add one more line to an endless line of failures that we can only hope will keep going until November.

It wasn’t just a loss of narrative and momentum but the complete trashing of campaign data harvesting.

We don’t know exactly what the data accumulated by Trump’s re-election campaign looks like after receiving ~800,000 registrations for the Tulsa rally. Some were valid, some were valid but no-shows, some were legitimate addresses of people who had zero intention of attending — likely sent by TikTok accounts.

And a mess of them must have been K-pop fans who are still feeling their oats after they DDoS’d police video monitoring during anti-racism protests as well as spamming right-wing hashtags.

Parscale’s operation better have had a good backup before the Tulsa registrations began, though I have suspicions somebody’s ass wasn’t well covered.

I mean, who is foolish enough to brag about more than 1,000,000 registrations like that, without a hint of skepticism about the data’s integrity?

Somebody prone to hubris, that’s who.

And somebody else isn’t going to pay Team Trump for data gleaned through Tulsa.

~ 1 ~
The ACLU filed suit this morning against the Detroit Police Department for its wrongful arrest of Robert Williams based on racist facial recognition technology.

The Washington Post published an op-ed by Williams explaining what happened to him and why facial recognition software should be banned.

The next morning, two officers asked if I’d ever been to a Shinola watch store in Detroit. I said once, many years ago. They showed me a blurry surveillance camera photo of a black man and asked if it was me. I chuckled a bit. “No, that is not me.” He showed me another photo and said, “So I guess this isn’t you either?” I picked up the piece of paper, put it next to my face and said, “I hope you guys don’t think that all black men look alike.”

The cops looked at each other. I heard one say that “the computer must have gotten it wrong.” I asked if I was free to go now, and they said no. I was released from detention later that evening, after nearly 30 hours in holding. …

It’s not just the software at fault, though. DPD made absolutely no attempt to confirm Williams’ identity against images they had before they took him into custody, processed him, and detained him overnight in holding.

They literally can’t be bothered or they are racist as hell in a minority majority city.

The ACLU is calling for a ban on facial recognition in Detroit, Williams being a perfect example of how flawed and racist the technology is as well as an assault on innocent citizens’ privacy.


Boston’s city council banned facial recognition technology this morning, setting an example for Detroit.

What’s your municipality doing about facial recognition technology?

Are you blowing off this issue because you’re white and you couldn’t possibly be misidentified?


~ 0 ~
The House Judiciary Committee hearing on politicization at the Justice Department is still under way as hit Publish. If you haven’t been following along and want to catch up, here are four Twitter threads covering the hearing.


Jennifer Taub

Courthouse News


This is an open thread.

54 replies
  1. Rayne says:

    I have so much stuff I haven’t shared…can’t keep up these days.

    Vote in House on Friday for Washington DC to become a state.

    Important article about COVID-19’s effect on those who survive the disease.

    US compared to EU wrt COVID-19

    Most COVID-19 deaths — perhaps 99% — could have been prevented

    Still marveling over Warren’s ability to persuade GOP senators on Confederate base names

    • Peterr says:

      That last item on renaming military bases is quite something.

      Given Trump’s opinion of John McCain – I like heroes who didn’t get captured – it’s surprising he’s got such a thing for General Braxton Bragg. Per wiki:

      He was a corps commander at the Battle of Shiloh, where he launched several costly and unsuccessful frontal assaults but nonetheless was commended for his conduct and bravery.

      In June 1862, Bragg was elevated to command the Army of Mississippi (later known as the Army of Tennessee). He and Edmund Kirby Smith attempted an invasion of Kentucky in 1862, but Bragg retreated following the Battle of Perryville in October. In December, he fought another battle at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, the Battle of Stones River, against the Army of the Cumberland under Major General William Rosecrans. After months without significant fighting, Bragg was outmaneuvered by Rosecrans in the Tullahoma Campaign in June 1863, causing him to surrender Middle Tennessee to the Union. Bragg retreated to Chattanooga but evacuated it in September as Rosecrans’ troops entered Georgia. Later that month, with the assistance of Confederate forces from the Eastern Theater under James Longstreet, Bragg was able to defeat Rosecrans at the Battle of Chickamauga, the bloodiest battle in the Western Theater, and the only major Confederate victory therein. Bragg forced Rosecrans back to Tennessee, but was criticized for not mounting an effective pursuit. In November, Bragg’s army was routed by Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant in the Battles for Chattanooga and pushed back to Georgia. Confederate President Jefferson Davis subsequently relieved Bragg of command, recalling him to Richmond to serve as his chief military advisor. Bragg briefly returned to the field as a corps commander near the end of the war during the Campaign of the Carolinas.

      Bragg is generally considered among the worst generals of the Civil War. Most of the battles in which he engaged ended in defeat. Bragg was extremely unpopular with both the men and the officers of his command, who criticized him for numerous perceived faults, including poor battlefield strategy, a quick temper, and overzealous discipline. Bragg has a generally poor reputation with historians, though some point towards the failures of Bragg’s subordinates, especially Leonidas Polk—a close ally of Jefferson Davis and known enemy of Bragg—as more significant factors in the many Confederate defeats at Bragg’s command. The losses which Bragg suffered are cited as principal factors in the ultimate defeat of the Confederacy.

      Maybe it’s because Bragg’s record appears to be the military equivalent to Trump’s record as a businessman.

      Henry L Benning is another piece of work. In 1961, he was dispatched to try to convince Virginia to secede, and included this appeal in his speech:

      What was the reason that induced Georgia to take the step of secession? This reason may be summed up in one single proposition. It was a conviction, a deep conviction on the part of Georgia, that a separation from the North was the only thing that could prevent the abolition of her slavery…. If things are allowed to go on as they are, it is certain that slavery is to be abolished. By the time the North shall have attained the power, the black race will be in a large majority, and then we will have black governors, black legislatures, black juries, black everything. Is it to be supposed that the white race will stand for that? It is not a supposable case…. War will break out everywhere like hidden fire from the earth, and it is probable that the white race, being superior in every respect, may push the other back…. We will be overpowered and our men will be compelled to wander like vagabonds all over the earth; and as for our women, the horrors of their state we cannot contemplate in imagination. That is the fate which abolition will bring upon the white race…. We will be completely exterminated, and the land will be left in the possession of the blacks, and then it will go back to a wilderness and become another Africa…. Suppose they elevated Charles Sumner to the presidency? Suppose they elevated Fred Douglass, your escaped slave, to the presidency? What would be your position in such an event? I say give me pestilence and famine sooner than that.
      — Henry Lewis Benning, Speech of Henry Benning to the Virginia Convention, February 18, 1861.

      Perhaps Benning is Trump’s oratorical role model.

      And then there’s John Bell Hood:

      Hood returned to field service during the Atlanta Campaign of 1864, and at the age of 33 was promoted to temporary full general and command of the Army of Tennessee at the outskirts of Atlanta, making him the youngest soldier on either side of the war to be given command of an army. There, he dissipated his army in a series of bold, calculated, but unfortunate assaults, and was forced to evacuate the besieged city. Leading his men through Alabama and into Tennessee, his army was severely damaged in a massive frontal assault at the Battle of Franklin and he was decisively defeated at the Battle of Nashville by his former West Point instructor, Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas, after which he was relieved of command.

      Remind anyone of Jared?

      • madwand says:

        Benning’s speech to the Virginia Convention went right along with the Cornerstone speech both of which prioritized slavery as the prime motivating factor, not states rights, as being the real cause of the conflict.

        Anyway I’ve always wondered why there isn’t a Fort Sherman somewhere, I’ll stick with Sherman, and there was, one in Idaho and one in the Canal Zone, both deactivated.

        • vvv says:

          There is/was of course, the Sherman tank, one of which (decommissioned, of course) serves as a monument near where I live.

  2. P J Evans says:

    There’s a list here of coronavirus vaccine trials, as of June 9 – it gets updated.

    Also, I think facial-recognition technology isn’t anywhere close to ready for wide-scale use. In a facility with strictly limited access, it might be useful for tracking who’s accessing what, but it shouldn’t replace things like access controls.

    • Rayne says:

      You can say it’s not ready, PJ, but the problem is that it’s already been deployed. Now we have to hunt it down and kill it.

      I’m glad to see Google employees protesting against the company’s sales to police.

    • drouse says:

      I am not by any means an expert on machine learning but I have read up on the basics.As I understand it, machine learning takes a bunch of variables and runs them through the algorithm.Then it checks the output for accuracy, applies a weight to each variable and sends it though again looking for improved accuracy. This is horribly simplified but the point is that the weighting is determined by humans. My thinking is that the optimization is going for the highest overall accuracy rather than equal accuracy across the range of inputs. If it was done for the latter, it would show that the whole thing is nowhere ready for prime time. Otherwise we end up with a system that identifies a good chunk of the Black Congressional Caucus as felons.

      • Rayne says:

        “Otherwise we end up with a system that identifies a good chunk of the Black Congressional Caucus as felons.”

        They ran their images through sometime in 2015-2016 time frame, and yeah, that’s exactly what happened. And yet we’re still unable a handful of years later to expect better results.

        The entire facial recognition system in the U.S. is built on borked (racist) premises. I pointedly say U.S. because China isn’t having this problem in spite of having more than 50 ethnic groups.

        EDIT: Wow, even more recently they tested facial recognition software on members of Congress — in 2018. It failed badly on Black members of Congress but it also failed on white members. See

        It just plain needs to be outlawed until its accuracy is improved to 99.99966% which will require a more inclusive, holistic approach to coding.

        • P J Evans says:

          I keep looking at that tweet from Carroll that you posted: the pics are a black guy being identified as a very-much-not-the-same white guy. (Human brains can tell who the guy on the left is, usually. Computers, not so much.)

          • Rayne says:

            Yeah…we know who the guy on the left is supposed to be.

            Let’s say it isn’t but it’s someone who is light-skinned Black/mixed race and they are NOT a criminal, but the white guy on the right is. Or vice versa. We know facial recognition software is racist, but why are white people not up in arms about the fact they could be misidentified?

            Especially racist whites — why aren’t they worried? Or is it they already believe the white supremacy which is default and underpins this entire society will never fail them?

            • P J Evans says:

              They believe in their own privilege.
              I’d like for everyone else to have that kind of automagic privilege.
              And for white males to not be immune to the consequences of their own actions.

            • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

              True story: a guy was talking about problems that companies have encountered with lack of diversity in the hiring pool.

              One company (not Apple, not Microsoft) was writing and testing face recognition software. They tested it on a black adult male. I won’t tell you quite what the software came up with — you’d scream.

              They realized, to their horror, that none of the people on the team that built the software ever thought about the fact that they were all testing it on one another — white males in their 20s and 30s.

              Conclusion: Company decided that it needed to ramp up diversity in its hiring pool, and test this software on a much wider range of humans than white males in their 30s.

              Sometimes people actually do learn from their mistakes.

              But as for facial recognition software, I have a lot of qualms about the people making decisions regarding its implementation. If they include Louis Gohmert or Jim Jordan, I’d say we’re in big trouble, no matter our ethnic background or demographic characteristics.

              • soothsayer says:

                “But as for facial recognition software, I have a lot of qualms about the people making decisions regarding its implementation. If they include Louis Gohmert or Jim Jordan, I’d say we’re in big trouble, no matter our ethnic background or demographic characteristics.”

                Oh my God, this made me laugh in horror. That they are even elected (God help us all), but even the idea of them or the fact that probabilistically there are likely in fact people just like them (or worse O_o), that may already be in such roles, that make these types of decisions right now.

                Without stronger data governance and AI regulation soon, including with multilateral agreements, we all f’d to put it nicely. I think the last 4+ years have been a demonstration of our probable AI future, unless we can address these issues, especially as used by actual or wannabe Authoritarians; and it sure ain’t pretty (1984 on steroids aka quantum comes to mind).

                • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

                  Now imagine William Barr calling the shots.
                  Or the mob gets (legal, financial) control of a company that makes facial recognition software. How might they use it? Against whom?

                  Interesting times…

                  • soothsayer says:

                    The, or more like one of the mob(s)? Mon Dieu, quelle chance mauvais O_o

                    Funny enough, speaking of the mob, or mob(s). I had this thought yesterday on a reassessment of recent articles on Fiona Hills thoughts of her time in the White House. First I was upset of her analysis when she said she was dismissive of Trump as Manchurian Candidate (which I agree I do not believe because he is too dumb to ever have been an intelligence asset – oxymorons be damned), but moreso her thoughts on collusion that he is more a transactional businessman. So I assumed she was brushing off any control by Putin over Trump psychologically. I mean to me that is absurd, because obviously even Bolton stated that Putin had easy control over Trump, and all of Trumps history of business contacts with Russians in Putins orbit would allude to at a minimum an endearment or business ties of sorts.

                    But then, I came to a different assessment from her statement of his friendly treatment of Putin, and her seeing the behavior as part of a pattern, as Trump was equally reluctant to criticize other autocratic leaders, including President Xi Jinping, of China, and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, of Turkey.

                    That the above all leads to my original thoughts years ago, that yes, he has dealt with the Mob in NY, not just one Mob, but several Mob(s), a multiculturalism of Mobs if you would. Previously the Genovese, then the Red Mafiya came along, I am sure the Triad at some point, and now I am reading that there is in fact a Turkish Mob, and he had business dealings with some that I think may fit this description – but this I am guessing at. So maybe the implication is actually more spot on – it is all business, a “certain kind” of bidnesss. Now, I am not suggesting this is what she was implying, but I think the facts are self evident, that he does in fact prefer this sort of “what will you do for me” sort of transactional business, and are you part of my “familia” and all that joie de vivre sans le cochons me manger O_o

                    So yeah, with your point above, I am now much more je ne sais quoi, so I will just say..

                    “Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!”

                    ..while all the obscure Wizard of Oz control the masses with their AI

      • PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

        The weights in each layer aren’t set by humans, but optimized by an algorithm each iteration during training. Weighing how much a particular sample in a training set “e.g. grant this sample more or less importance” is done by humans.

        The main problem is these models aren’t developed by diverse teams, are trained on data sets which already have racism baked into them, and the technology is not well understood by the poobahs deciding to use it, and is overmarketed.

        If an algorithm learns by example, and you feed it your sorry racist data trying to be a more efficient racist, this shit happens.

        What also really scares me is that self navigating vehicles can be made to turn into traffic, speed up, etc, by the strategic application of stickers to the environment.

  3. Rugger9 says:

    I see Barr is (allegedly) coming in five weeks, assuming that the WH can’t come up with an excuse to dodge. Gohmert says he will. Mukasey is still a tool, but that’s a dog-bites-man story.

  4. Nehoa says:

    Having lived in China recently, I was thoroughly scanned facially, and fingerprinted on all fingers…multiple times. Citizens get much the same treatment. I bet their systems are much more reliable than ours. Whether that’s a good thing is another topic.

    • Rayne says:

      China’s use of facial recognition in concert with social media to develop social capital is oppressive. All the more reason for us to kill bad facial recognition now before it can be used against the entire public to coerce behavior with or without improvement.

      • Nehoa says:

        China starts with a very different set of premises about rights and responsibilities than the U.S.

        • Rayne says:

          Minor understatement, one being a unitary Marxist-Leninist one-party socialist republic and the other a federal presidential constitutional republic.

          • Nehoa says:

            I was thinking more along the lines of viewing things from a perspective of individual rights and responsibilities (U.S.) vs. the community being the reference point. Very Confucian in a Communist suit.

            • di says:

              @Nehoa, you are correct. I’ve seen interviews with returning journalists, filmakers, white american men either married to someone from China or having lived there for years. The filmaker was visiting his wife’s family right when the outbreak occurred. He explained the experience exactly as you say. Everyone was fully aware and experienced and new what to do. In a virologist’s podcast ad S. Korean scientist explained how everyone knew exactly what to do because they’d been through a previous epidemic. Plus, instead of daily news with the leader speaking, there was a nightly newscast update with scientists only. Science was given center stage, not politics like here. Thus, the pandemic spread was managed, rather than politicized or weaponized as in the U.S. Indigenous native people in the Americas follow the same philosophy similar to Confucianism, of community.

      • soothsayer says:

        Hear hear, I second this.

        Years ago, while on my first Asia trip back in 2014, I went to the Philippines.

        I happened to connect through Beijing. It irked and raised my suspicions on their data collection and what there were doing with it, that they had made me, a traveller through a connecting flight, go through a facial processing station. They took my pic and I think scanned my passport. Sure, there are international agreements for airport screening, but I sensed their dubious use to cast it for use with everyone was more dark and sinister. I had thought at the time that this seemed to be part part and parcel of some massive global database of foreigners they were amassing.

        The other thing that irked me? That their airport was packed with so many airport staff, many more than seemed needed, but that they were all young and fit. My point being, this is a country that was already aligning for agression (just as Russia has been), as well in its internal security footprint over data and physical control (massive security, drone use over cities etc). Obviously externally with their dredged islands, aggression against India etc etc.

        Anyways, back to the original topic, yes, I think we need to set the example here for democratic norms. But, conversely, how do we offset what malign activities China and Russia are obviously doing and malign tools they are building to likely adversarial target other countries citizens digitally? As their hacking of massive corporate databases of personal data and all their activity points to this sort of strategy. I doubt they would go along with multilateral agreements here, but I fully believe we need to not only a) address this issue here and b) get the international community on board and push back hard on states that hack this data and use it against other countries citizens.

        Btw, I will add, it had been made known to me, by a seasoned pro, that Huwaei products always send data back to China.

        • Nehoa says:

          If I can offer a different perspective on staffing at airports and more generally. First, the security redundancy is intended to thwart attempts to undermine security through the bribery of individual security officers. Too hard to set up a chain of bribed people to get something/someone through. Second, there are a lot of people employed by the government that seem redundant to those of us used to the ruthless efficiency of the West. It is a means of keeping most people employed, and at least marginally productive. Homelessness is much lower there than in the U.S. They have grannies using bamboo brooms cleaning margins on highways. We have giant streetsweeping machines. A very different approach with different ends sought.

          • soothsayer says:

            Yes of course, thank you I appreciate the insight. I actually would have never thought that, because I am definitely unaware of these factors from never having been in the country beyond the airport for a connecting flight. I do think that your experience from being on the ground, is a good perspective that sheds light on a probable reason.

            Though, what do you think of their surveillance state? I think it is excessive and frightening. That they so closely monitor basic human activities not even in aggregate but at such a personal level and imply judgement on simple activities. Using their social credit score for activities it prefers vs ones it does not e.g. video games or alcohol.

            Any insight on how individuals there feel about their own freedoms and the direction their government is moving? To me, it is a myth that they consider themselves social capitalists, I think they have only ever achieved state capitalism. Also, when there was hope that they would move to more democratic norms, they devolved back with draconian measures. I think it is very sad, I wish they would change course for the benefit of their citizens well being to be able to live a self determined life. I would think at a minimum they should be free to live, express themselves and buy without fear or favor within the constraints of only needed regulations, not judgement by the state with social credit based on what goods they buy and use from the open market and speech control and nullification of opposing thoughts. I think it is self injurious, and I personally think that creativity needs to thrive in a space that allows freedom for mistakes and growth, and is strengthened by fluid diversity and weakened by forced homogeneity. Ultimately this would include working harmoniously with your neighbors fairly aka other countries, and to better the human condition and world. But it all starts at home so they should start there – and I admit I know, we have to work on some of our own issues at home here – though we are currently on two different paths, we are looking to right ourselves and our democratic norms, and they are looking in a much different direction.

            • Nehoa says:

              I would first view the CCP as the ruler of China for 70 years in the context of the country’s 2500 year plus history. Very difficult country to govern. What they do in governing is to maintain the power of their organization while keeping the “Mandate of Heaven,” i.e. sufficient popular support. For the last 45 years or so the approach is to support economic growth and maintain social control. Not just internet and physical surveillance, but limiting protests and arguing with government officials. No parades with lots of people in public spaces, riot gear on hand at any large public facility such as train stations or parks. In exchange the government provides jobs, education, healthcare, access to housing. The older generation is proud that there is plenty of food now. Was not always the case. There is no grinding poverty as in many other countries. It is a balancing act.

              • madwand says:

                Exactly the “Mandate of Heaven” when the ruler loses it he is gone and sometimes his dynasty. Nehoa l think you talk very intelligently as someone who has spent a lot time in and read a lot about China.

                The other aspect of the Chinese is they have goals, they think and plan in terms of sometimes as much as 50 years, along with numerous five and ten year plans in technology, military, engineering, infrastructure etc, as opposed to the US which thinks in terms of the daily news cycle. More importantly they support science and encourage their population to get educated in STEM subjects. Chinese are united because of their deep history as a nation steeped in traditions such as Confucianism and the Five Classics. They honor the family and their ancestors. They are either catching up or passing the US in almost every metric. The new Belt and Road initiative and the Chinese use of soft power in other Asian countries counters the use of American hard power in Asia and Africa.

                It is unfortunately Americans who have sat on their laurels and who will eventually sooner not later cede leadership in the world to the Chinese.

                • soothsayer says:

                  I find it confusing, unless its just part of Confucianism, how you can state that actions that supplant a system you may be part of or somehow get benefit of, is somehow a feat to be lauded. Unless of course, you benefit from the Chinese system in someway.

                  Moreso, the means in which many Chinese technologies arose, were mainly due to theft. It is even ironic in an insidious way, that Jack Ma would name his company Alibaba, as in Alibaba and the 40 thieves.

                  Is it that we should perhaps look back within the diverse 2500 year history for clues as to understand how to deal with this perplexing way that the Chinese deal with other humans, say from Zhang Yingyu, who represents himself as a Confucian gentleman. His writings in “The Book of Swindles” or also known as “A New Book for Foiling Swindlers” might be an apt place to start, put etre?

                  La vie est pillage,
                  La vie est vol,
                  Chere Mad’moiselle,
                  Est-ce que
                  Parce que
                  Vous m’aimez?”

                  • madwand says:

                    What you think and I think won’t make the Chinese go away, sort of like how the US is dealing with Coronovirus. One can deal with what is or what one wishes it to be, sort of like the Trump administrations response to the virus.

                    It might also be naive to think that a country would relocate large portions of its manufacturing capabilities to a foreign country and then expect its intellectual property rights to remain sacrosanct. A review of Asian history since the west opened up the east would reveal the copycat nature of their technologies.

                    It used to be there was a technology lag between one companies development of a product and another companies output of a similar product at least in the electronics business. That lag is significantly less these days for a lot of reasons. It is unrealistic to expect that nations will not compete on the same grounds, a good example is semiconductors, where China is definitely behind and where US actions are forcing them to develop their own. So in five years China wants to be able to manufacture its own semiconductors. Do you compete or make puerile comments about patriotism?

                    • soothsayer says:

                      I did not say I disagreed with your assessment, but agreeing and or disagreeing is different and separate from how the facts are portrayed. You see their strategy in how they see it, as the long term strategy to outcompete, and supplant the west, specifically the US and its allies. This in and of itself, leaves out if this is acceptable especially in how they are going about this. They are and have been malign in their means to an end, or in the fact that this was in fact their ultimate end to supplant and not be a part of the global system. This alone is damaging, and begs the question of if they do not reform and stay a part of the system, perhaps they should not even be part of the global system in the same way. Play by the rules that are based on democratic norms without harming other nations, or do not play at all. Because authoritarianism is a system that must never be supported, especially one steeped in communism or state capitalism, as the Chinese Communist party is demonstrating. They are the poster child for lessons learned, and we should all agree, never again.

                      On your specific points with some additional items:

                      – In economic activity, the US has always used soft power, they have done so with USAID and other agencies. The Chinese Communist Party uses a form of “soft power’ that is actually more so as a mafia would lend money, and then a) apply high financing rates b) start demanding their borrower to align to their political will; they have done this in Africa, South Asia and are starting to try to do so in Latin America and elsewhere with their Confucian institutes that try to mold Western Universities to their political will; the world is waking up to this insidious activity. Do you in anyway find this acceptable?

                      – The naivety of which you speak, is true to some extent, but in the sense that the world expected the Chinese to hold up to world trade agreements and laws and not breaking them, of which they continuously lied that they would change their ways, and reverted to malign activities. The world welcomed the Chinese into the world economic system, and jointly built production for low cost. There is no time that companies stated they would give away their intellectual property, and is a false assumption on the Chinese Communist parties behalf that they could do so and continue to do so. Copycat is one thing, outright theft is another through constant hacking of as well as physical corporate theft. Do you in anyway find this acceptable?

                      – Through breaking legal findings on the South China sea, specifically dredging up fake islands and planting military bases on them; as well as intimidating other South China Sea countries in their own 20 mile limit. Do you find this acceptable?

                      – Through working with Russia on the 2016 election interference and other Russian satellite states, as well with ongoing disinformation campaigns against all of the West to rile up division and violence, as well as other malign activities such as e.g. breaking Iran sanctions with a Huaweii sub entity working with the Iranian regime. Do you find this acceptable?

                      Does who compete? The US and the West? Yes of course, very much, I have been of the opinion we should have a whole of Society policy to compete back. I am aware from public info, that the USG and allies have a few programs in place. Remember, China and Russia have been designated great power competitors, but I think this limits the reality of the situation. They have been so designated because they have shown their hand, shown that they seek to undermine the US. This is not a friendly game for them, they are not merely competing, they are seeking to supplant with any means necessary, and have started to do so fully in the SCS.

                      Again, I will reiterate. If China reforms and decides to sincerely play fair, the world would be glad, but their actions over the last 2 decades have not shown this, and they have deceived. It is too bad, because I do enjoy their culture and their people.

                      Anyways, I appreciate a healthy debate, so no bones here. Cheers

  5. Worried says:

    Our president doesn’t understand why this virus is called Covid-19.

    I think he would understand it better if it were called Covid-45 Trump Flu.

    • Worried says:

      I had my annual physical (aged 68) this past week.
      First a video physical, then an office visit.
      In his office my Doctor told me, with a straight face, that the day after the upcoming presidential elections are over all talk about this virus will cease.
      He said that there is so much information about the virus being suppressed and he had access to it.
      He said if I get the virus, it will be no worse than getting a cold.
      I said, “I hope you are right”.

      • vvv says:

        About a year after 9/11 I had occasion to depose an opposing witness, an engineer in a premises-liability BI case. Nice guy. After the dep, he spent a half hour lecturing us about the secret reports involving the Twin Towers construction and destruction that, he said, were imminent. (Case settled, our advantage.)

        An attorney friend just popped up on Fecesbook yammering the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine, and the medical profession and left’s reasons for attacking its use. (He also cited, “TDS”.)

        The most apparently intelligent, educated people, in their own wheelhouse or willing to opine out of it, can say the darnedest things.

      • Rayne says:

        Please, I beg you, look for another doctor. The one you’ve seen is a crackpot.

        There have been far too many health care professionals who’ve offered their own testimonials on video about COVID-19 and what it does, including a nurse who documented her own decline which led to her death. This isn’t political bullshit, not propaganda.

        A doctor who doesn’t believe in the science which explains COVID-19 and what it does can’t be trusted to believe the same kinds of researchers on other diseases and therapies. The health care you’ve received from this doctor so far may be questionable.

        • Worried says:

          Both videos extremely saddening and tough to watch.
          Our general lack of empathy for our fellow citizens is astounding.

      • bmaz says:

        I agree with everybody else in this regard. Finding a new doctor is always a pain in the ass, but you really should consider doing so.

        One thought though, email him, whether through regular email or whatever “portal” he has (they all seem to have portals now), and request he forward to you all the information he has access to that supports his statement. You will still need a new doc, but I would love to hear about what he returns with.

      • madwand says:

        My doc avoids politics like the plague or to be more accurate like I try to avoid coronavirus and I appreciate his avoidance. It gives me confidence my health issues are the ones that matter and that is how it should be. But doctors are human and not immune to politics. At a minimum that should have no bearing on the health of the patient. We are looking on a big scale how politics has affected coronavirus. Health has been hijacked by politics and ideology, and it’s not as if that isn’t reflected in the numbers.

      • Worried says:

        Thanks for the comments.
        When I told my wife about my discussion with the Doctor her first comment was “get a new doctor!”
        I’m 2 years into my relationship with him and establishing a successful baseline relationship with my primary care physician is, as BMAZ says, “a pain in the ass”. (I had my previous doctor for 30 plus years, until I moved).
        So be it. Start Again!
        In any case, to me the interesting point is the intersection of science and politics. This virus (like all others) is apolitical and doesn’t discern between rich or poor, or other social characteristics.
        It’s us humans, even very well educated ones, who give it a political face and offer an excuse for fellow humans to ignore the science and put themselves, and everyone else, at risk.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          My worry with a health care provider would be when politics trumps science. You describe someone leaning heavily in that direction, or worse, simple magical thinking. It wouldn’t work to make the trains run on time or make a bacteria less virulent.

  6. paulpfixion says:

    re: facial recognition

    “This is your receipt for your husband… and this is my receipt for your receipt.”

    This problem was not unforeseen. ugh.

  7. Pajaro says:

    Was today pondering the US COVID-19 daily fatality numbers, found one source ( that says it is 955 persons/day as of 6.23.20. So, that is one 9-11 size disaster every 3 days in USA! That and it is increasing in rate in many states due to Republican idiocy. Couple that with Trump closing monitoring stations as infections climb through the roof! Posted 9-11 towers burning to my FB, with above scream into the void. Why isn’t this daily screaming news headlines everywhere?

    • vvv says:

      Whenever concert tours can start, I would go see Lady A open for The Chicks.

      Altho’, I just read a cute joke goes, “If you had to give up one form of music to solve the pandemic, which would it be and why Country Music?”

      • Rayne says:

        I don’t know why we haven’t heard something from a crossover artist in the way of a bluesy requiem for the COVID-19 dead which also curses the Trump administration.

        Goodness knows there’s plenty of material there.

        • vvv says:

          Or even a rock one, say a re-write of the Jim Carroll tune:

          ht tps://

          But yeah, I hope Gary Clark, Jr. maybe for blues, Jason Isbell for Americana – Drive-By Truckers and Lucinda Williams are already there (no time to find a link for this post!)

          (I will note that independents have been doing quite a bit of recording about this stuff, both C19 and the administration. is a good site for indie stuff, for example.)

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