It’s true it’s only an opinion, “the world has simply gone bonkers”, but some opinions are actually true

What is left to say? Actually, there’s quite a lot left to say but who is listening? Here, however, are the opening words of the first para.

I have not written much about COVID19 recently. What can be said? In my opinion the world has simply gone bonkers.

I will pick my favourite quotes from the rest but you can go to the link and pick the ones you like best, or go somewhere else and pick whichever quotes you like for yourself.

It appeared that tens of thousands died in some countries, almost none in others. What I was waiting to see, was the impact on the one outcome that you cannot alter, or fudge. The outcome that is overall mortality i.e. the chances of dying, of anything….

In the UK, and several other countries if you have had a COVID19 positive test (which may, or may not, be accurate) and you die within twenty-eight days of that positive test, you will be recorded as a COVID19 death. I do not know much for sure about COVID19, but I do know that is just complete nonsense.

There are so many cases where – even if the COVID19 test was accurate – COVID19 would have had nothing whatsoever to do with the death. Another thing known, or at least we probably know, is that the vast majority of people who die had many other things wrong with them….

So, what you need to do, is look beyond what is written on death certificates. You need to look at what is happening to the overall mortality. Whilst you can argue endlessly, pointlessly, about specific causes of death. What you cannot argue about is whether or not someone is alive, or dead. Even I usually get this one right. No pulse, no breathing, no reaction of the pupils to light, no response to pain… and suchlike. Yup, dead. Now… what they die of? Um… let me think….

Here is the graph of overall mortality for all ages, in all countries. The graph starts at the beginning of 2017 and carries on to almost the end of 2020.

As you can see, in each winter there is an increase in deaths. In 2020, nothing much happened at the start of the year, then we had – what must have been – the COVID19 spike. The tall pointy bit around week 15.

It started in late March and was pretty much finished by mid-May. Now, we are in winter, and the usual winter spike appears. It seems to be around the same size as winter 2017/18. It also seems to have passed the peak and is now falling….

So, again, what have I learned about COVID19? I learned that all Governments are floundering about, all claiming to have exerted some sort of control over this disease and ignoring all evidence to the contrary. In truth, they have achieved nothing. As restrictions and lockdowns have become more severe, in many cases the number of infections has simply risen and risen, completely unaffected by anything that has been done.

The official solution is, of course, more restrictions. ‘We just haven’t restricted people enough!’ Sigh. When something doesn’t work, the answer is not to keep doing it with even greater fervour. The real answer is to stop doing it and try something else instead….

If I were to recommend actions. I would recommend that we stop testing – unless someone is admitted to hospital and is seriously ill. Mass testing is simply causing mass panic and achieves absolutely nothing. At great cost. We should also just get on with our lives as before. We should just vaccinate those at greatest risk of dying, the elderly and vulnerable, and put this rather embarrassing episode of mad banner waving behind us.

Well, it’s an opinion.

Thomas Sowell on editors and editing

Thomas Sowell on Editors and Writing which does not entirely parallel mine who has been very fortunate in the light-handed editing I have experienced, while not having had to do much of it myself. Anyway, this is from The Conversable Economist where he plucks the following from reading Sowell.

____________

Thomas Sowell offers some autobiography and vivid examples in his 2001 essay, “Some Thoughts about Writing.” He offers both a case for the importance of editing, and also some vivid frustrations about overly officious editors. He writes near the start: “People who want to be complimentary sometimes tell me that I have a `gift’ for writing. But it is hard for me to regard as a gift something that I worked at for more than a decade—unsuccessfully—before finally breaking into print. Nor was this a case of unrecognized talent. It was a case of quickly recognized incompetence.”

Here’s Sowell on his own experience with editing academic writers (footnote omitted): 

To say that my relationship with editors has not always been a happy one would be to completely understate the situation. To me, the fact that I have never killed an editor is proof that the death penalty deters. However, since nowadays we are all supposed to confess to shameful episodes in our past, I must admit that I was once an editor. Only once. And I didn’t inhale.

It was the most painful kind of editing—editing academic writers. Too many academics write as if plain English is beneath their dignity and some seem to regard logic as an unconstitutional infringement of their freedom of speech. Others love to document the obvious and arbitrarily assume what is crucial. A typical work of this genre might read something like this:

As surely as the world is round (Columbus, 1492), and as surely as what goes up must come down (Newton, 1687), when Ronald Reagan was elected President (Cronkite, 1980) and then re-elected (Rather, 1984), it signaled a change in the political climate (Brinkley, 1980–88). Since then, we have seen exploitation (Marx, 1867) and sexism (Steinem, 1981) on the rise.

But no attempt to parody academic writing can match an actual sample from a scholarly journal:

Transnationalization further fragmented the industrial sector. If the dominant position of immigrant enterprises is held to have reduced the political impact of an expanding industrial entrepreneurate, the arrival of multinational corporations possibly neutralized the consolidation of sectoral homogeneity anticipated in the demise of the artisanate.

You can’t make that up.

If academic writings were difficult because of the deep thoughts involved, that might be understandable, even if frustrating. Seldom is that the case, however. Jaw-breaking words often cover up very sloppy thinking. It is not uncommon in academic writings to read about people “living below subsistence.” The academic writers I edited seemed to have great difficulty accepting my novel and controversial literary doctrine that the whole purpose of writing is so that people can read the stuff later on and know what you are trying to say. These professors seemed to feel that, once they put their priceless contributions to mankind on paper, a sacred obligation fell upon the reader to do his damndest to try to figure out what they could possibly mean.  I’ve worked 34 years as an academic editor, so I enjoyed reading that passage. But I would also say that while the problems of academic writing are well-described here, my own experience is that authors are quite willing, and even grateful, to work with my editing in producing an improved draft. 

Sowell also conveys the horror of the kind of copy-editing that makes everything taste the same, or worse. He writes: 

But these are just two kinds of absurdities from the rich spectrum of the absurdities of copy-editors. Where Shakespeare wrote, “To be or not to be, that is the question,” a copy-editor would substitute: “The issue is one of existence versus non-existence.” Where Lincoln said, “Fourscore and seven years ago,” a copy-editor would change that to: “It has been 87 years since . . .” Where the Bible said, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth,” a copy-editor would run a blue pencil through the first three words as redundant.

Pedestrian uniformity and shriveled brevity are the holy grail of copy-editors, the bureaucrats of the publishing industry. Like other bureaucrats, copy-editors tend to have a dedication to rules and a tin ear for anything beyond the rules. Seldom is there even the pretense that their editorial tinkerings are going to make the writing easier for the reader to follow, more graceful, more enjoyable, or more memorable.

Self-justifying rules and job-justifying busy work are the only visible goals of copy-editors.

My own approach here is that in the process of hands-on editing, I try to make all the small-scale copy-editing changes that are needed. Then the author has a chance to revise, and while authors may differ with other suggestions I offer, they hardly ever care about the copy-editing details like spelling out “United States” as a noun but using “US” as an adjective, whether to use a serial comma when listing more than two authors, and the like. But as a result, when authors see galley proofs, they have already seen and digested the copy-editing changes, so there aren’t any last-minute surprises. 


Sowell’s methods may not work for everyone. For example, he describes his usual approach of working on several books at once, and putting aside the ones where he doesn’t feel inspired for years, before perhaps returning to them. 

One more example why classical economic theory is far superior to modern Keynesian macro

Let me take you to the article by Ross Gittens today displaying his typically ignorant views on the economy. But if he is going to invoke Keynes to explain anything, let me remind you that no one who uses Keynesian economics to explain anything ever gets it right. Evil Lord Keynes flies to rescue of disbelieving Liberals. This is what Gittens wrote:

When we entered lockdown in March this year, many people (including me) pooh-poohed Scott Morrison’s assurance that the economy would “snap back” once the lockdown was lifted. Turned out he was more right than wrong.

We could, of course, compare what I wrote on March 26 on the AIER website: A Classical Economic Response to the Coronavirus Recession.

That is why when I hear discussions of the need for a stimulus I am even more than usually amazed at how beyond sense economic policy has become. What is needed, and what is largely being done, are measures to hold both capital and labour in place until the closures are brought to an end. There are businesses that will open the moment the law allows. There are millions of jobs that will be immediately filled again the moment these businesses reopen, which will see their customers flooding back. The aim of policy is therefore to maintain a holding operation on business and to ensure workers who are being temporarily displaced can purchase necessities.

Back in March, as Gittens himself emphasises, he had no idea that the economy might “snap back” once the lockdown was lifted, but that’s precisely because he is a Keynesian who has no idea how a market economy works.

BTW have I ever mentioned the book I published this year: Classical Economic Theory and the Modern Economy. It is unbelievable how ignorant of economics a modern economist is.

I dreamt last night that Donald Trump had died

I was in the middle of getting some paperwork done so that I could get some document completed that needed his name and was then told the President had died. We were on some aircraft so the news was presented as uncertain. The rest of the dream was about whether I could still get the paperwork accepted even if it had his name on it.

Not mentioned at Drudge so it isn’t true. Never dream about politics. Very unusual.

It ain’t over ’til it’s over

17 States Join Texas in Supreme Court Lawsuit Against Michigan, Georgia, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania Over Fraudulent Election.

For more detail, A Total Of 18 States Have Joined Texas’ Lawsuit. The conclusion:

I find these arguments compelling. I can’t conceive of any reason for the SCOTUS to refuse to hear the case. Especially when the case is supported by 18 cases, led by Texas.

Plus this: Trump Administration Will Join Texas Lawsuit Against Battleground States.

There is also this today which I found quite interesting.

Of course, the idea that men who identify as more masculine would be more supportive of the president isn’t that much of a shocker considering they have been among his biggest fans from the beginning. According to the AEI survey, that was true this year as well: When broken out by how masculine or feminine they identified themselves, completely masculine men were the only group where the majority (60 percent) said they had voted for Trump.

Apparently, the way this is presented by a typically lefty source, being a masculine male is a bad thing, but I can live with it.

Just how much ruin is there in the United States?

To appreciate just how idiotic those who oppose Donald Trump are we have this that has just been sent to me: Learn to Stop Worrying and Love Debt. It’s by no less an authority than Paul Krugman who notoriously when asked when the stock market might turn up after the American election in 2016 replied, “If the question is when markets will recover, a first-pass answer is never.” Now we have this from the same authority:

The bottom line is that government debt just isn’t a major problem these days. Which brings us back to the politics.

Joe Biden has promised to “build back better,” a slogan that translates into proposals to spend big sums on infrastructure, climate policy, education and more, largely with borrowed money. And that’s very much the right thing to do; business may see only limited returns to investment, but we’re in desperate need of more public investment, broadly defined (for example, including spending on children).

So we will have Daniel Andrews as the American president. I might just supplement this with a post by Steve Hayward at Powerline discussing Modern Monetary Theory.

The hottest thing among leftist political economists is “Modern Monetary Theory” (MMT), which holds that a sovereign government can borrow and spend all the money it wants because it can’t actually default on its own currency. This warmed-over Keynesianism wouldn’t get anywhere except in a time of unusually low interest rates and very low inflation.

I’m not sure that the actual inflation rate is all that low, but interest rates are well below anything representing the actual opportunity cost of capital. Government spending is the new black (or perhaps the new red in both of the metaphorical senses of the word).

The thing that gets me about the bureaucracy voting left is that they only show how ignorant they are of anything that might make a community peaceful and prosperous. There is a lot of ruin in a nation, as Adam Smith once said. If Joe Biden (or Kamala Harris) makes it to the Oval Office we will get to see just how much ruin there really might be.

Nothing that has happened in the past four years has made me regret my support for Donald Trump in 2016. We shall see what fools like LIQ will have to say in 2024 should Joe actually get there.

The Deep State is back which should worry us all

The foreign policy of the Deep State was on display in The Oz this morning: Trump’s strategic mess will take years to repair. If we go back to 2017 or thereabouts, my memory is of North Korea starting on a program of nuclear weapons development along with developing the delivery systems to make their existence a genuine threat. This was the historic result of American weakness in dealing with both North Korea and China. So what does the writer – a former senior CIA analyst, who served as national intelligence officer for East Asia, chief of station in Asia and the CIA’s director of public affairs – have to say?

Not only did Trump pursue a love affair with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un and remain smitten with Russian President Vladimir Putin, he also badmouthed America’s European allies when he was not undermining them outright.

Has the news also not reached the CIA that Russia is no longer a communist country attempting to subvert our political and economic system, but has been replaced by Communist China as our largest foreign policy problem of the moment. And goodness, Trump “badmouthed” Europe for not contributing what they had actually promised to pay for their own defence.

Did anyone ever actually worry about what side of the international divide Donald Trump was on? As for Biden, his own personal history, along with that of his son, ought to be a genuine concern for the future. Confronting Chinese aggression in the Pacific is unlikely to be high on his agenda. Articles such as this only add to my worries about the future since it reminds me just exactly what Trump was getting at in referring to the Deep State.

You might also be an ignorant fool

Fisking “You Might be a Socialist” . Complete ignorance everywhere about the notion of what actually constitutes socialism. As has been asked elsewhere, was the Roman Republic a socialist state because they build roads? They also had slaves, so does that count?

The general ignorance of how an economy works is so widespread that you have to wonder how soon this will disappear in a mist of incomprehension.

Intelligent life besides ourselves is rare if not impossible says Oxford Institute

Oxford study says chance of intelligent life elsewhere very low.

The statistical chances of their being other intelligent life in the universe are “exceptionally rare,” according to a new study from the University of Oxford.

In the paper, scientists from Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute, theorize that as life evolved on earth, in many cases it depended on a series of unlikely “revolutionary transitions.” Given how late intelligent life evolved on this planet, the chances of similar developments happening on other planets, before they are no longer able to sustain life, were highly unlikely, they said.

“It took approximately 4.5 billion years for a series of evolutionary transitions resulting in intelligent life to unfold on Earth,” they wrote in the paper published last month. “In another billion years, the increasing luminosity of the Sun will make Earth uninhabitable for complex life.

“Together with the dispersed timing of key evolutionary transitions and plausible priors, one can conclude that the expected transition times likely exceed the lifetime of Earth, perhaps by many orders of magnitude,” the wrote. “In turn, this suggests that intelligent life is likely to be exceptionally rare.”

Given the distances no one will ever know one way or the other but the possibility that this is all there is remains genuine. Much too much improbability for the necessary sequences ever to have happened elsewhere. Still, it is absurd to think that my consciousness and yours are all the self-reflection that the universe has ever created.