We Need to Change Our COVID-19 Strategy

We would like to think that we can eliminate COVID-19, but doing so is far from certain. The medical system has not been successful in eliminating HIV/AIDS or influenza; the situation with COVID-19 may be similar.

We are discovering that people with COVID-19 are extremely hard to identify because a significant share of infections are very mild or completely without symptoms. Testing everyone to find the huge number of hidden cases cannot possibly work worldwide. As long as there is hidden COVID-19 elsewhere in the world, the benefit of identifying everyone with the illness in a particular area is limited. The disease simply bounces back, as soon as there is a reduction in containment efforts.

Figure 1. One-week average new confirmed COVID-19 cases in Israel, Spain, Belgium and Netherlands. Chart made using data as of August 8, 2020 using an Interactive Visualization available at https://91-divoc.com/pages/covid-visualization/ based on Johns Hopkins University CSSE database.

We are also discovering that efforts to contain what is essentially a hidden illness are very damaging to the world economy. Shutdowns in particular lead to many unemployed people and riots. Social distancing requirements can make investments unprofitable. Cutting off air flights leads to a huge loss of tourism and leaves farmers with the problem of how to get their fruit and vegetable crops picked without migrant workers. If COVID-19 is very widespread, contact tracing simply becomes an exercise in frustration.

Trying to identify the many asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 is surprisingly difficult. The cost is far higher than the cost of the testing devices.

At some point, we need to start lowering expectations regarding what can be done. The economy can protect a few members, but not everyone. Instead, emphasis should be on strengthening people’s immune systems. Surprisingly, there seems to be quite a bit that can be done. Higher vitamin D levels seem to be associated with fewer and less severe cases. Better diet, with more fruits and vegetables, is also likely to be helpful from an immunity point of view. Strangely enough, more close social contacts may also be helpful.

In the remainder of this post, I will explain a few pieces of the COVID-19 problem, together with my ideas for modifications to our current strategy.

Recent News About COVID-19 Has Been Disturbingly Bad


It is becoming increasingly clear that COVID-19 is likely to be here for quite some time. The World Health Organization’s director recently warned, “. . . there’s no silver bullet at the moment and there might never be.” A recent Wall Street Journal article is titled, “Early Coronavirus Vaccine Supplies Likely Won’t Be Enough for Everyone at High Risk.” This article relates only to US citizens at high risk. Needless to say, creating enough vaccine for both high and low risk individuals, around the world, is a long way away.

We are also hearing that vaccines may be far less than 100% effective; 50% effective would be considered sufficient at this time. Two doses are likely to be needed; in fact, elderly patients may need three doses. The vaccine may not work for obese individuals. We don’t yet know how long immunity from the vaccines will last; a new round of injections may be needed each year.

new report confirms that asymptomatic patients with COVID-19 are indeed able to spread the disease to others.

Furthermore, the financial sector is increasingly struggling with the adverse impact shutdowns are having on the economy. If it becomes necessary to completely “write off” the tourism industry, economies around the world will struggle with permanent job loss and debt defaults.

Shutdowns Don’t Work for Businesses and the Financial System 

There are many issues involved:

(a) Shutdowns tend to lead to huge job loss. Riots follow, as soon as people have a chance to express their unhappiness with the situation.

(b) If countries stop importing migrant workers, there is likely to be a major loss of fruits and vegetables that farmers have planted. No matter how much money is printed, it does not replace these lost fruits and vegetables.

(c) Manufacturing supply lines don’t work if raw materials and parts are not available when needed. Because of this, a shutdown in one part of the world tends to have a ripple effect around the world.

(d) Social distancing requirements for businesses are problematic because they lead to less efficient use of available space. Businesses can serve fewer customers, so total revenue is likely to fall. Employees may need to be laid off. Fixed costs, such as debt, become more difficult to pay, making defaults more likely.

Shutdowns cause a major problem for the economy, because, with many people out of the workforce, the total amount of finished goods and services produced by the economy falls. Broken supply lines and reduced efficiency tend to make the problem worse. World GDP is the total amount of goods and services produced. Thus, by definition, total world GDP is reduced by shutdowns.

Governments can institute benefit programs for citizens to try to redistribute what goods and services are available, but this will not fix the underlying problem of many fewer goods and services actually being produced. Citizens will find that some shelves in stores are empty, and that many airline seats are unavailable. They will find that some goods are still unaffordable, even with government subsidies.

Governments can try to give loans to businesses to help them through the financial problems caused by new rules, such as social distancing, but it is doubtful this approach will lead to new investment. For example, if social distancing requirements mean that new buildings and vehicles can only be used in an inefficient manner, there will be little incentive for businesses to invest in new buildings and vehicles, even if low-interest loans are available.

Furthermore, even if there might be opportunities for new, more efficient businesses to be added, the subsidization of old inefficient businesses operating at far below capacity will tend to crowd out these new businesses.

People of Many Ages Soon Become Unhappy with Shutdowns

Young people expect hands-on learning experiences at universities. They also expect to be able to meet possible future marriage partners in social settings. They become increasingly unhappy, as shutdowns drag on.

The elderly need to be protected from COVID-19, but they also need to be able to see their families. Without social interaction, their overall health tends to decline.

We Are Kidding Ourselves if We Think a Vaccine Will Make the Worldwide COVID-19 Problem Disappear

Finding a vaccine that works for 100% of the world’s population seems extremely unlikely. Even if we do find a vaccine or drug treatment that works, being able to extend this solution to poor countries around the world is likely to be a slow process.

If we look back historically, pretty much all of the improvement in the US crude death rate (number of deaths divided by total population) has come from conquering infectious diseases.

Figure 2. Crude mortality rates in the United States in chart from Trends in Infectious Disease Mortality in the United States During the 20th Century, Armstrong et al., JAMA, 1999.

The catch is that since 1960, there hasn’t been an improvement in infectious disease mortality in the United States, according to an article in the Journal of the American Medical Society. As progress has been made on some longstanding diseases such as hepatitis, new infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS have arisen. Also, the biggest category of infectious disease remaining is “influenza and pneumonia,” and little progress has been made in reducing its death rate in the United States. Figure 3 shows one chart from the article.

Figure 3. Mortality due to influenza or HIV/AIDS, in chart from Infectious Disease Mortality Trends in the United States, 1980-2014 by Hansen et al., JAMA, 2016.

With respect to HIV/AIDS, it took from the early 1980s until 1997 to start to get the mortality rate down through drugs. A suitable vaccine has not yet been created.

Furthermore, even when the US was able to reduce the mortality from HIV/AIDS, this ability did not immediately spread to poor areas of the world, such as Sub-Saharan Africa. In Figure 4, we can see the bulge in Sub-Saharan Africa’s crude death rates (where HIV/AIDS was prevalent), relative to death rates in India, where HIV/AIDS was less of a problem.

Figure 4. Crude death rates for Sub-Saharan Africa, India, the United States, and the World from 1960 through 2018, based on World Bank data.

While the medical system was able to start reducing the mortality of HIV/AIDS in the United States about 1996-1997 (Figure 3, above), a 2016 article says that it was still very prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2013. Major issues included difficulty patients had in traveling to health care sites and a lack of trained personnel to administer the medication. We can expect these issues to continue if a vaccine is developed for COVID-19, especially if the new vaccine requires more than one injection, every year.

Another example is polio. A vaccine for polio was developed in 1955; the disease was eliminated in the US and other high income countries in about the next 25 years. The disease has still not been eliminated worldwide, however. Poor countries tend to use an oral form of the vaccine that can be easily administered by anyone. The problem with this oral vaccine is that it uses live viruses which themselves can cause outbreaks of polio. Cases not caused by the vaccine are still found in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

These examples suggest that even if a vaccine or fairly effective treatment for COVID-19 is discovered, we are kidding ourselves if we think the treatment will quickly transfer around the world. To transfer around the world, it will need to be extremely inexpensive and easy to administer. Even with these characteristics, the eradication of COVID-19 is likely to take a decade or more, unless the virus somehow disappears on its own.

The fact that COVID-19 transmits easily by people who show no symptoms means that even if COVID-19 is eradicated from the high-income world, it can return from the developing world, unless a large share of people in these advanced countries are immune to the disease. We seem to be far from that situation now. Perhaps this will change in a few years, but we cannot count on widespread immunity any time soon.

Containment Efforts for a Disease with Many Hidden Carriers Is Likely to Be Vastly More Expensive than One in Which Infected People Are Easily Identifiable 

It is easy to misunderstand how expensive finding the many asymptomatic carriers of a disease is. The cost is far higher than the cost of the tests themselves, because the situation is quite different. If people have serious symptoms, they will want to stay home. They will want to give out the names of others, if they can see that doing so might prevent someone else from catching a serious illness.

We have the opposite situation, if we are trying to find people without symptoms, who might infect others. We need to:

  1. Identify all of these people who feel well but might infect others.
  2. Persuade these people who feel well to stay away from work or other activities.
  3. Somehow compensate these people for lost wages and perhaps extra living expenses, while they are in quarantine.
  4. Pay for all of the tests to find these individuals.
  5. Convince these well individuals to name those whom they have had contact with (often their friends), so that they can be tested and perhaps quarantined as well.

Perhaps a few draconian governments, such as China, can handle these problems by fiat, and not really compensate workers for being unable to work. In other countries, all of these costs are likely to be a problem. Because of inadequate compensation, exclusion from work is not likely to be well received. Quarantined people will not want to report which friends they have seen recently, if the friends are likely also to lose wages. In poor countries, the loss of income may mean the loss of the ability to feed a person’s family. 

Another issue is that “quick tests” are likely to be used for contact tracing, since “PCR tests,” which tend to be more accurate, often require a week or more for laboratory processing. Unfortunately, quick tests for COVID-19 are not very accurate. (Also a CNN report.) If there are a lot of “false positives,” many people may be needlessly taken out of work. If there are a lot of “false negatives,” all of this testing will still miss a lot of carriers of COVID-19.

A Major Benefit of Rising Energy Consumption Seems to Be Better Control Over Infectious Diseases and a Falling Crude Death Rate

I often write about how the world’s self-organizing economy works. The growth in the world’s energy consumption since the advent of fossil fuels has been extremely important.

Figure 5. World Energy Consumption by Source, based on Vaclav Smil estimates from Energy Transitions: History, Requirements and Prospects, together with BP Statistical Data on 1965 and subsequent

The growth in world energy consumption coincided with a virtual explosion in human population.

Figure 6. World Population Growth Through History. Chart by SUSPS.

One of the ways that fossil fuel energy is helpful for population growth is through drugs to fight epidemics. Another way is by making modern sanitation easy. A third way is by ramping up food supplies, so that more people can be fed.

Economic shutdowns lead to reduced energy consumption, partly because energy prices tend to fall too low for producers. They cut back on production because of unprofitability.

Figure 7. Weekly average spot oil prices for Brent, based on data of the US Energy Information Administration.

Given this connection between energy supply and population, we should not be surprised if shutdowns tend to lead to an overall falling world population, even if COVID-19 by itself is expected to have a small mortality rate (perhaps 1% of those infected). Poor countries, especially, will find that laid off workers cannot afford adequate food supplies. This makes poor members of those economies more susceptible to diseases of many kinds and to starvation.

Epidemiologists Based Their Models on Diseases Which Are Easily Identifiable and Have High Mortality Rates

It is clear that an easily identifiable illness with a high mortality rate can be easily contained. A difficult-to-identify disease, which has a very low mortality rate for many segments of the population, is very different. Members of segments of the population who usually get only a light case of the disease are likely to become more and more unhappy as containment efforts drag on. Models based on very different types of pandemics are likely to be misleading.

We Need to Somehow Change Course

The message that has been disseminated has been, “With containment efforts plus vaccine, we can stop this disease.” In fact, this is unlikely for the foreseeable future. Continuing in the same direction that has not been working is a lot like banging one’s head against a wall. It cannot be expected to work.

Somehow, expectations need to be lowered regarding what containment efforts can do. The economy can perhaps protect a few high-risk people, but it cannot protect everyone. Unless COVID-19 stops by itself, a significant share of the world’s population can be expected to catch COVID-19. In fact, some people may get the disease multiple times over their lifetimes.

If we are forced to live with some level of COVID-19 (just as we are forced to live with some level of forest fires), we need to make this situation as painless as possible. For example,

  • We need to find ways to make COVID-19 as asymptomatic as possible by easy changes to diet and lifestyle.
  • We also need to find inexpensive treatments, especially ones that can be used outside of a hospital setting.
  • We need to keep the world economy operating as best as possible, if we want to stay away from a world population crash for as long as possible.

We cannot continue to post articles which seem to say that a spike in COVID-19 cases is necessarily “bad.” It is simply the way the situation has to be, if we don’t really have an effective way of containing the coronavirus. The fact that young adults build up immunity, at least for a while, needs to be viewed as a plus.

Some Ideas Regarding Looking at the Situation Differently 

(1) The Vitamin D Issue

There has been little publicity about the fact that people with higher vitamin D levels seem to have lighter cases of COVID-19. In fact, whole nations with higher vitamin D levels seem to have lower levels of deaths. Vitamin D strengthens the immune system. Sunlight raises vitamin D levels; fish liver oils and the flesh of fatty fishes also raise vitamin D levels.

Figure 8 shows cumulative deaths per million in a few low and high vitamin D level areas. The death rates are strikingly lower in the high vitamin D level countries.

Figure 8. COVID-19 deaths per million as of August 8, 2020 for selected countries, based on data from Johns Hopkins CSSE database.

The vitamin D issue may explain why dark skinned people (such as those from Southeast Asia and Africa) tend to get more severe cases of COVID-19 when they move to a low sunlight area such as the UK. Skin color is an adaptation to different levels of the sun’s rays in different parts of the world. People with darker skin color have more melanin in their skin. This makes the production of vitamin D less efficient, since equatorial regions receive more sunlight. The larger amount of melanin works well when dark-skinned people live in equatorial regions, but less well away from the equator. Vitamin D supplements might mitigate this difference.

It should be noted that the benefit of sunlight and vitamin D in protecting the immune system has long been known, especially with respect to flu-like diseases. In fact, the use of sunlight seems to have been helpful in mitigating the effects of the Spanish Flu outbreak in 1918-1919, over 100 years ago!

One concern might be whether increased sunlight raises the risk of melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer. I have not researched this extensively, but a 2016 study indicates that that sensible sun exposure, without getting sunburn, may decrease a person’s risk of melanoma, as well as provide protection against many other types of diseases. Non-melanoma skin cancers may increase, but the mortality risk of these skin cancers is very low. On balance, the study concludes that the public should be advised to work on getting blood levels of at least 30 ng/ml.

(2) Other Issues

Clearly, better health in general is helpful. Eating a diet with a lot of fruits and vegetables is helpful, as is getting plenty of exercise and sunshine. Losing weight will be helpful for many.

Having social contact with other people tends to be helpful for longevity in general. In fact, several studies indicate that church-goers tend to have better longevity than others. Churchgoers and those with many social contacts would seem to have more contact with microbes than others.

A recent article says, Common colds train the immune system to recognize COVID-19. Social distancing tends to eliminate common colds as well as COVID-19. Quite possibly social distancing is counterproductive, in terms of disease severity. Epidemiologists have likely never considered this issue, since they tend to consider only very brief social distancing requirements.

A person wonders how well the immune systems of elderly people who have been cut off from sharing microbes with others for months will work. Will these people now die when exposed to even very minor illnesses? Perhaps a slow transition is needed to bring families back into closer contact with their loved ones.

People’s immune systems can protect them from small influxes of viruses causing COVID-19, but not from large influxes of these viruses. Masks tend to protect against large influxes of the virus, and thus protect the wearer to a surprising extent. Models suggest that clear face shields also provide a considerable amount of this benefit. People with a high risk of very severe illness may want to wear both of these devices in settings they consider risky. Such a combination might protect them fairly well, even if others are not wearing masks.

Conclusions – What We Really Should Be Doing

Back at the time we first became aware of COVID-19, following the recommendations of epidemiologists probably made sense. Now that more information is unfolding, our approach to COVID-19 needs to change.

I have already laid out many of the things I think need to be done. One area that has been severely overlooked is raising vitamin D levels. This is being discussed in the medical literature, but it doesn’t seem to get into the popular press. Even though the connection is not 100% proven, and there are many details to be worked out, it would seem like people should start raising their vitamin D levels. There seems to be little problem with overdosing on vitamin D, except that sunburns are not good. Until we know more, a level of 30 ng/ml (equivalent to 75 nmol/L) might be a reasonable level to aim for. This is a little above the mean vitamin D level of Norway, Finland, and Denmark.

Social distancing requirements probably need to be phased out. A concern might be temporarily excessive patient loads for hospitals. Large group meetings may need to be limited for a time, until this problem can be overcome.

 

 

About Gail Tverberg

My name is Gail Tverberg. I am an actuary interested in finite world issues - oil depletion, natural gas depletion, water shortages, and climate change. Oil limits look very different from what most expect, with high prices leading to recession, and low prices leading to financial problems for oil producers and for oil exporting countries. We are really dealing with a physics problem that affects many parts of the economy at once, including wages and the financial system. I try to look at the overall problem.
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2,353 Responses to We Need to Change Our COVID-19 Strategy

  1. Herbie R Ficklestein says:

    As Gail has pointed out repeatedly, not enough to go around
    https://news.yahoo.com/dangerous-greece-turkeys-mediterranean-standoff-143802577.html
    Turkey’s Oruc Reis vessel in Eastern Mediterranean
    Turkey’s MTA Oruc Reis seismic vessel, which is escorted by Turkish navy, is seen offshores of Eastern Mediterranean on August 10, 2020. Credit – Ministry of National Defense—Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
    The Eastern Mediterranean has become an increasingly crowded space, between precarious refugee crossings from Libya to Europe, the flow of arms and mercenaries in the other direction, and Russia’s new naval hub at the Syrian port of Tartus.
    So when a Turkish seismic vessel began carrying out surveys in waters where Greece also claims jurisdiction, shadowed by Turkish warships, it added another dangerous element to the mix.
    Since it began in mid-August, Turkey’s drilling program, and the gunboat diplomacy that has followed, has contributed to a situation so volatile German foreign minister Heiko Maas on Tuesday warned: “any small spark could lead to catastrophe.” It has prompted Turkey to announce new live-fire military drills to be held off Cyprus’s northern coast next week, with Greece planning rival navy exercises with France, Cyprus, and Italy. The dispute has divided E.U. leaders over how to manage Turkey and drawn in states as far-flung as Egypt and the UAE.
    In a week in which Erdogan resolved to make “no concessions on that which is ours” and Greece announced it would extend its maritime territory around some of its islands unrelated to the dispute, the tensions are only escalating. Here’s what to know about the trouble brewing in the Mediterranean:

    These two have been at it for centuries and seems they have something new to fight about besides Cyprus or refugee immigrants

  2. Oh dear says:

    Re: nuclear and SNP

    Momentum continues to build for Scottish independence. Unionists have been playing the economy card, and project fear, over the last fortnight in response to a growing majority support for independence – but a new poll shows that Scots fancy that they will be better off in their pockets for independence.

    Anyway, SNP has a longstanding policy to remove the two nuclear power plants in Scotland, and the nuclear subs stationed there, but it cannot do so while it is a matter reserved to Westminster. Independence could thus render Scotland habitable after the collapse, which is obviously a massive reason for finite worlders to get behind independence.

    I would urge well wishers around the globe to get on the SNP website and to make donations – this is not just about national sentimentality, it is about getting rid of the nuclear plants in Scotland and thus helping to secure a habitable section of Britain after collapse. We must get rid of the nuclear plants while we still can.

    > SOME 55% of voters believe that independence will be good for Scotland’s economy, a new poll has found.

    The survey also reported that 70% of people have more confidence in the Scottish Government’s ability to manage the economy compared with Boris Johnson’s.

    The Panelbase survey, conducted on behalf of Business for Scotland, also found 68% of Scots agreed that Brexit will be bad for Scotland’s economy.

    The poll reported almost a third of Scottish Tory voters rejected the notion that Johnson’s Brexit would benefit the nation’s prosperity.

    https://www.thenational.scot/news/18682983.scottish-independence-55-scots-say-yes-vote-will-good-economy/

    • neil says:

      That’s a relief to learn that radiation respects National boundaries. I’ll be able to pop over to safety in Scotland the next time one of the English nuclear plants facing the Irish Sea goes up in smoke. Good to know.

      • Oh dear says:

        Yes, wind blows predominantly east to west rather than north but the Hunterston plant in Ayrshire is on the east coast across from Ireland, so yes, good to know.

        Cut the attitude and get behind SNP.

        • Oh dear says:

          Hunterston plant in Ayrshire is on the WEST coast

          duh, typing as I dash to shop

        • neil says:

          Really? The prevailing winds are indeed from the south west, but only prevailing, otherwise we wouldn’t have had Chernobyl detritus ending up in our tasty Mourne mountain lamb way back then. We are significantly west of Minsk. Similarly, we got zapped when Calder hall (aka windscale, then sellafield) went up in smoke 30 years earlier.

      • Oh dear says:

        Actually the predominant winds in Britain blow west to east or SW-NE, coming off the Atlantic, so the west coast plant in Ayrshire is set up to blow radiation across Scotland. The wind is westerly 5/6 of the year there and southerly 1/6. That would take out the entire Highlands and most of Scotland. All the more reason to get Scotland independent and to get rid of the nuclear plants there.

        > The predominant average hourly wind direction in Ayr varies throughout the year.

        The wind is most often from the west for 3.1 months, from January 14 to April 18; for 4.6 months, from May 10 to September 29; and for 2.1 months, from October 28 to December 30, with a peak percentage of 45% on July 2. The wind is most often from the south for 3.1 weeks, from April 18 to May 10; for 4.1 weeks, from September 29 to October 28; and for 2.1 weeks, from December 30 to January 14, with a peak percentage of 35% on October 11.

        • neil says:

          Thank you. It’s nice to read facts, rather than the fantasies of political extremists I’ve been hearing all my life. With depressing frequency, here in Northern Ireland. Scottish nationalism is only matched by brexitism in its enthusiasm for absurdity.

    • Malcopian says:

      I just can’t keep up with events. George Galloway, that well-known Scottish Muslim Trotskyite, has recently formed the ‘Alliance for Unity’ party in the UK:

      http://www.alliance4unity.uk

      Extract:

      ‘The Alliance for Unity has been formed by George Galloway on a cross-party basis, to secure the defeat of the SNP in May 2021 and an end to the Neverendum on Scotland’s future.’

      Galloway meets and praises Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein:

      https://youtu.be/IIy_GmvUElE

      =======================

      Galloway on Celebrity Big Brother. ‘Would you like ME to be the cat?’

      https://youtu.be/KQA2X4yvK_g

      • Oh dear says:

        Yes, what on earth is the old ultra-lefty Galloway doing standing up for the British state? He seems to have a knack of picking all the doomed causes to support. His stepping up in support is practically a kiss of death for UK if his track record of failed causes is anything to go by. Go Galloway!

        • Malcopian says:

          Boris will never allow another Scottish indy referendum. He has said so. Look, here he is on a tank outside the Scottish parliament, threatening to shell it. His good mate Putin has sent some Russians to help him, hence the flag.

          https://vid01.bt.co.uk/v1/bc/pd/2045965034001/201507/2706/2045965034001_4343803836001_August-19-PA-8647607-video-large.jpg

          • Oh dear says:

            I catch your meaning, UK is in a similar position to when Yeltsin became president of the Soviet Union in 1991. You are quite right, democracy and the break up of the Union are inevitable now, whatever Boris might say. Good parallel.

            • Malcopian says:

              There are quite a few more Boris / Boris precedents. Several UK newspapers have referred to ‘the clown in No. 10’. Yeltsin also had his clown side too – getting drunk, singing, goosing women in public.

              Yeltsin started off as Mayor of Moscow, I believe, while Gorbachev as already President (or similar title) of the USSR. Yeltsin then became President of Russia, and he eventually took Russia out of the USSR, to complete the downfall of his former boss.

              Boris Johnson attained the prestigious position of Mayor of London. When David Cameron became UK prime minister, the two former pals would occasionally make barbed remarks about each other in public.When Boris spearheaded the Brexit referendum for the Brexiteers and won, Cameron was seething, regarding Boris as a traitor, and he felt obliged to resign as prime minister. Boris eventually inherited the post!

              I note that Boris Yeltsin brought about the secession of Russia from the Soviet Union, thereby breaking up the Soviet Union. Will the other Boris eventually cause the collapse of the UK, leaving England as a separate entity? If so, it will be by accident, not by design! Whether Boris then ends up as leader of an independent England remains to be seen. I suspect he is perfectly capable of changing his spots!

  3. Dennis L. says:

    Quote from Nate: “Doom obviates responsibility.” I have often wondered why the attraction to doom, is it because it frees us from caring?

    Nate’s presentation is about 35 minutes and then goes to question and answer session.

    Personal note: today I was in Preston, MN at the FSA office and communicated by dropping an envelope through a car window, onto a back seat in a government car. Returning to my farm from the FSA office I passed the Poet ethanol plant. Ethanol is a cash flow source to farming, each time I pass I wonder how much longer.

    Nate’s presentation is a the end of July, 2020. He makes predictions for the near future, August and September. We will see if he was correct very soon.

    Anyone hear of Kleiber’s Law? Neither had I, interesting idea, is on Wikipedia.

    Nate mentions the need for a support network. All my life I have been in small business – keeping the group together is the number one factor between success and failure, now I am working like hell to build a small support network, in a smaller community. It is easy to talk it, it is tremendous work to achieve. Where does one network, perhaps one of the multiple small, white churches on the prairie around my farm. That is a heck of a change for a city mouse.

    All of us here are going through change, damn tough to see a way forward.

    Nate just mentioned a 35% drop in GDP, now or within two years. This is a hell of a lot to deal with in a very short period of time.

    Nate take is energy is the center of everything, we have seen all this in Gail’s ideas. Energy is currently cheap to buy, expensive to produce.

    Nate has a comment on the university experience on Zoom and states “It sucks.” I agree, people are important, but as I keep mentioning, MITx is off the wall good. Madison was magic in the sixties, so much change.

    Found this lecture on CHS “Musings” web site.

    Ideas?

    Dennis L.

    • I’ll have to take time to listen to it. I really need to be working on my next post, however.

    • Lidia17 says:

      OTOH, Dennis, what good does “caring” actually do?
      The situation cannot be changed.

      I haven’t watched the video yet (have seen many of his others) but if he is saying “Doom obviates responsibility” like that’s a *bad* thing.. well, I disagree.

      To give 18-year-olds the message that they now have Responsibility in all of this is cruel. It’s not as though they can rush bravely to stick their fingers in howevermany dikes. We are back to the misguided belief in Agency.

      I used to wonder all the time why things would happen in apparently illogical ways. Once I grokked that things follow the path-of-most-waste, I could relax and stop expecting things to somehow be different (though I do slip back into old mental conventions a lot of the time).

      Much of the Doomosphere still retains the odor of Original Sin, from which we must be Redeemed even if we fail at altering the outcome. Christopher Hitchens used to condemn certain religions for their insistence on a scenario in which we are “born sick, and commanded to be well”.

      Hitchens was referencing a 17th c. Calvinist named Fulke Greville:
      Oh wearisome Condition of Humanity!
      Born under one law, to another bound:
      Vainly begot and yet forbidden vanity,
      Created sick, commanded to be sound:
      What meaneth Nature by these diverse laws?
      Passion and reason, self-division cause.
      Is it the mark, or Majesty of Power
      To make offences that it may forgive?

      I like this other stanza equally:
      If Nature did not take delight in blood,
      She would have made more easy ways to good.
      We that are bound by vows and by promotion,
      With pomp of holy sacrifice and rites,
      To teach belief in good and still devotion,
      To preach of heaven’s wonders and delights —
      Yet, when each of us in his own heart looks,
      He finds the God there far unlike his books.

      https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Fulke_Greville,_1st_Baron_Brooke

      • Slow Paul says:

        A recipe for neurosis. The educational system supports this. You can be anything you want. Just be a good pupil, get good grades and all will be well. All we need is more higher educated people resulting in more technology and more progress.

        Many young people will be disappointed when they get their degree only to find out they need to lick a lot of backs and walk over bodies just to get an internship to a life sucking office job.

        People who are “successful” in business go their own way, seeing education diplomas as secondary to what they need to get where they want. Education is basically a work program that also functions as a pacifier for the population (makes people feel safe, that their lives have a direction, keeps unruly kids under watch for most of the day).

      • Robert Firth says:

        Thank you, thank you: most enlightening. But I still think Alexander Pope said it better:

        “Know then thyself, presume not God to scan;
        The proper study of mankind is man.
        Plac’d on this isthmus of a middle state,
        A being darkly wise, and rudely great:
        With too much knowledge for the sceptic side,
        With too much weakness for the stoic’s pride,
        He hangs between; in doubt to act, or rest;
        In doubt to deem himself a god, or beast;
        In doubt his mind or body to prefer;
        Born but to die, and reas’ning but to err;
        Alike in ignorance, his reason such,
        Whether he thinks too little, or too much:
        Chaos of thought and passion, all confus’d;
        Still by himself abus’d, or disabus’d;
        Created half to rise, and half to fall;
        Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all;
        Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurl’d:
        The glory, jest, and riddle of the world!”

        The opening, of course, is a reference to the famous inscription above the Temple of Apollo at Delphi: ‘Γνώθι Σεαυτόν’, “Know thyself”.

  4. Dennis L. says:

    Nate Hagens has an interesting podcast on this site looking at the next ten years.

    An interesting “fact” he presents at the beginning is the energy from coal, oil, etc., is equivalent to 500 billion workers. Note the term “workers.” Very young children can become workers, after middle age workers decline in productivity, they are costs, we invest in the young, but the old are a problem.

    fbclid=IwAR2DZrHhEi-awOV9NlbxehEvWox90UI8umMhYZV1TVmZeZoX6M_x29HgJFQ

    I am listening to it now, Nate has some interesting ideas which seem to survive the test of time.

    Dennis L.

    • JesseJames says:

      An interesting talk that reinforces Gail’s ideas on the economy being a super organism dependent upon consuming energy. He gives away his leanings a couple of time….once referring to Mitch McConnel as not being evil, but of course not referring to both sides of the aisle. His other giveaway is saying we must increase taxes on fossil fuels….which will be disastrous. It shows that his nod to all economy being dependent on energy is superficial. Increasing taxes on FF will be the deathknel of our economy at this time. He also has his rose colored glasses on that solar and wind can be used to create electricity to turn water into FF. It is feasible technically, but not economically or environmentally. He clearly supports UBI for social stability and for big government to solve our problems. That is definitely a liberal mentality.

      • Nate Hagens gives talks to college students. He is hired by Wisconsin/Minnesota universities. He needs to have a slant that will sell to these universities.

        • JesseJames says:

          That explains why he cannot be completely truthful about our predicament. They would not hire him if he was. I sympathize with the hopium that we can downsize, but the reality of the situation is going to be much more difficult than imagined. He alludes to these truths in his talk. I think he is giving hints at the situation. His thinking is similar to Kunstler in the downsized and simplified communities.

    • Duncan Idaho says:

      Nate is interesting , and also a fellow mushroom hunter.
      He couldn’t coax out my secret spots, no matter how he tried.

  5. Dennis L. says:

    The new job interview:

    “On July 14th, Google launched new professional certification programs in data analysis, project management, and UX design, to be hosted on Coursera. Though the platform charges a monthly $49 fee, Google will provide 100,000 needs-based scholarships to cover costs and will be awarding over $10 million in grants to certain non-profits that partner with workforce development to women, veterans, and underrepresented Americans.
    “In our own hiring, we will now treat these new career certificates as the equivalent of a four-year degree for related roles.” — Google
    Google lists the median annual wage of each career track with a high of $93,000 for the project management program. According to Google, 80% of learners that complete the IT Support Specialist certification either landed a new job or earned a raise. Prior experience and higher education are not required as a prerequisite for the courses. And, once completed, typically in three-to-six months, participants may have a crack at a job with the tech giant.”

    https://medium.com/discourse/you-dont-need-college-anymore-says-google-102d4beec668

    I keep returning to education, something in which I am directly involved. Google is using Coursera as an initial interview process and applicants pay to apply. These courses typically have timelines, one can go through the courses more quickly than the syllabus – your progress and answers can be graded both for time and accuracy. This is essentially a world wide talent search. Note the starting salary, Zoom and the like are making home work possible(a bit of a pun).

    Higher education is under assault from within and without. Job opportunities are bypassing the “studies,” difficult to see how universities will adapt. In the movie “Good Will Hunting,” Will makes a comment to a Harvard student of humanities that he could have learned the same thing with a library card. Couple this with Coursera and MITx and one has an incredible education for peanuts.

    This new system is diverse, the system is however very competence based.

    Dennis L.

    • Good point! These inexpensive Coursera courses and their competitors are changing the world, especially for technical subjects. Universities, with their expensive “residence halls,” cafeterias serving a wide array of foods, football teams, and faculty working to publish endless peer reviewed papers, become way too expensive to compete.

  6. Xabier says:

    Amusing in Britain: the govt., faced with dead city centres – almost no office workers, the consequent collapse of service businesses depending on them – is trying to shepherd people back to their offices, saying it’s safe, and it seems that 90% would prefer to work from home.

    I suspect the sheer awfulness of commuting to work by train and metro lies behind this, just as much as any fear of contagion – it’s a hellish daily experience on the whole.

    Will these centres simply die?

    • Malcopian says:

      I remember getting on the train to work once. I looked around the carriage. Everyone in the carriage had an annoying face. I closed my eyes to escape the annoyance. I could only keep that up for so long. When I opened my eyes, they still had annoying faces. Oh, the stress! I close my eyes again. And so on.

      • Artleads says:

        This is very funny.

      • Xabier says:

        You’ve brought it all back. The Horror. Standing in the drizzle at 7am, everyone clutching their comfort coffees, waiting for the doors to open on the train to London, and then plodding to The Guardian when it was in the gloomiest of office blocks in the nastiest street in London, Farringdon Road…… Doing it all again at the end of the day, only for some reason trying to get a seat returning was a more desperate, life-or-death struggle.

        Hey you, Gov: We don’t want no more commuting!

        • Malcopian says:

          Ha, you worked at the Guardian! You are an enemy of the people. This will be recorded for evidence at your future trial.

          • Duncan Idaho says:

            I read the Guardian ( most US sources are useless).
            A bit conservative, compared to French sources, but one can extract some information.

        • Robert Firth, says:

          Ah, memories. Leaving home at 0730 on a bright, fine tropical morning. Starting the 12 minute walk to work, enjoying the trees, flowers, birds, and not enjoying the repulsive yapping pooches along the way. And on the return journey, stopping at Pasir Panjang beer garden for a snack and a lime margarita.

          Though perhaps my best commute was by tricycle. Five miles (8km) each way, in 25 minutes, through the Cotswold countryside. And the lunch hour was long enough for a 3 mile ride to the pub and back: steak pie and Dry Blackthorn cider. I learned over time that a bad commute casts a shadow over the whole day: the horror experienced in the morning, and the horror anticipated in the evening.

    • I am suspicious that the answer is, “Yes.” The centers of smaller towns died years ago, as businesses built big new facilities on the outskirts. Now it is the turn for the centers of big cities that have been held up by public transport.

      The downtown of the city of Atlanta really isn’t much at all compared to the city as a whole. There are some city and state offices, and a few sites to attract tourists, but not much for shopping and relatively few office buildings. The restaurants in Atlanta are no doubt struggling as well. The city center tends to be disproportionately populated by black citizens. They are left without jobs.

    • Lidia17 says:

      Xabier, I think the cities will die, for the thermodynamical reasons that have been raised here.. sheer lack of energy. For the kind of dissipative structures Gail talks about, there needs to be an energy gradient which allows the structure to form in the first place. For an office building, it gets built because there is more money (future energy proxy) on the other side of the enterprise, time-wise, than there would be if the building had not been constructed. Less or no energy on the other side means the structure no longer has purpose. The hurricane dissipates.

      As I indicated earlier, the looting and burning can be seen as a low-tech way of releasing what remaining energy there is in enterprises which have on the surface maxed themselves out.

      James over at the “Megacancer” blog uses biological analogies. He likens modern humans to RNA (information-bearing molecules) working in “technological cells”:
      https://megacancer.com/2020/07/29/wisdom-from-aargot/#comment-10063

      • You are definitely right. Cities cannot exist without a constant inward flow of energy. Building new buildings is an expression of belief that in the future, building the building will provide a positive net return (in money or energy terms) in the future. Biological systems work on a similar principle.

    • Minority Of One says:

      >>Will these centres simply die?

      Indeed they are.

      In my current job at one of Aberdeen’s universities, I really enjoyed the long walk to work every morning (50 min), the personal contact of meeting and chatting with colleagues, and worked much better in the office environment. So I would like to go back to the office asap, without wearing a face mask. But I might be in small minority regarding this.

      It is clear that both the Scottish govt and the university are planning for people to work from home indefinitely. The university told us only last week that everyone who wants to and their job allows it, can now work from home indefinitely. The university’s new policy is that no more than 20% of the work force are allowed on campus at the same time, and given that many staff have to be there to do their research or teach, I cannot see me getting back even though I want to.

      I think I heard in the news last week that some big office-based companies in the UK also have a new policy of allowing people to work from home permanently.

      If I was one of the thousands of people that used to commute to work every day by rail (I was, a few years ago), I would jump at the opportunity to work from home permanently. The rail service in the UK, and especially in and out of London, seems to be spectacularly overcrowded and unreliable, and expensive. All those that used to commute daily from Cambridge to London, for example, now have an extra £3000+ (annual ticket price) in their pocket that used to go to the railway companies.

      Ironically, Aberdeen city centre is now a very attractive place for pedestrians. Since the outbreak, a middle section of the main street, Union Street, is now cut off to traffic. The bus lanes for the remainder, where traffic can still go, is now for pedestrians and cyclists only, with huge pot plants and wooden seats scattered along the length of it.Too little, too late. I walked down the length of Union Street this afternoon and it was like a ghost town compared to pre-CV19.

      • Duncan Idaho says:

        Hint:
        New Zealand, about the same land size as the UK, has 5 million people.
        The UK has 60+ million people, I believe.

  7. covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

    https://www.frbatlanta.org/cqer/research/gdpnow

    GDPnow plus 28.9% for Q3.

    • Interesting! The headlines right now are about Coca Cola laying off workers and other companies laying off workers, as they calculate how things are really working out. I would expect that GDPnow percentage to go down, as this plays out.

  8. covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

    https://www.oftwominds.com/blog.html

    more CHS on cities:

    “Again, uncertainty becomes a self-reinforcing feedback that disrupts the economy and the social order, because people make different decisions when they lack certainty in outcomes and the future.

    In other words, the actual crime rate need not increase by much to trigger a complete recalculation of risk and uncertainty that could then trigger a mass exodus from city centers by small businesses and the top 20% of households with the most to lose and the most mobility.

    Once these sectors abandon the city, the economy and social order collapse to levels that no one thought possible.”

    • “the actual crime rate need not increase by much to trigger a complete recalculation of risk and uncertainty that could then trigger a mass exodus from city centers by small businesses and the top 20% of households”

      Good point. This seems to be parallel to, “The overall death rate need not go up by much, to trigger a retreat from society by the 20% who feel that they personally are closest to death already.” They hide in their basements until a vaccine will save them.

    • Kowalainen says:

      It is why passwords are garbage. At least 2 factor identification. Two completely different devices, one a personal one, such as a mobile phone with a pin/camera/face scanner to verify it’s you.

      • Robert Firth says:

        Kowalainen, I agree that passwords are garbage. If you can remember them, they can be cracked; if you can’t, … But that table is also garbage, because it ignores (a) Zipf’s Law, (b) conditional probability, and (c) the association of ideas. And probably more I currently forget.

    • Ed says:

      Nuclear is the only option left.

    • Lidia17 says:

      1.) He can afford it (even more so once he cashes in on his global vaccine).
      2.) He is autistic, and so this makes twisted sense to him.
      3.) He is just fulfilling the Maximum Power Principle/Maximum Entropy Production Principle (like all of us, except to a greater degree).

      Thinking about the current rioters and those who have recently destroyed the centuries-old Buddha statues, Nôtre Dame, etc.: when you have the capacity to destroy small, you destroy small; when you have the capacity to destroy big, you destroy big. High-IQ high-power people can come up with nuclear plants (and nuclear bombs?) and campaigns of “regime change”.. they will break down mountains and forests and seabeds with heavy machinery in an organized and efficient fashion; low-IQ low-power people employ machetes and fire and shit and neglect to a similar end. A high-IQ person might assault you with Novichok or a false accusation by the FBI; a low-IQ person will assault you with a knife or a soda bottle filled with concrete. It all leads to the same place. High-IQ people have a tendency to destroy far-off nations and peoples; low-IQ persons are more likely to destroy those immediately around them. I think that may just happen to follow energy constraints.

      At least that’s my reckoning tonight.

      Comments?

      • Duncan Idaho says:

        centuries-old Buddha statues
        Those were destroyed by religious authoritarians, like our current right wing Christians.
        Our current “rioters” are a bit different– is the statue of Buddha or Robert E. Lee (the most oppressive, and even if he was a traitor to the government) the same?
        Religion is often poisonous.

        • covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

          and yet you dare not name the “religious authoritarians” who destroyed those Buddha statues.

          why not?

          • Lidia17 says:

            It’s not a question of daring.. it simply slipped my mind entirely.

            A few months ago I might have thought it essential. Now I think authoritarians of all stripes (religious and secular) are going to “express themselves” upon us and a cowed populace will allow them every latitude out of fear and the threat of non-belonging.

            It won’t just be exercised in some far-off and contained situation. It won’t be only the Islamists. It’s going to be the Globalists, with the best of intentions, of course. They will destroy (are destroying) our cultural icons not out of enmity, but for our own good, don’t you see?

            How different is the de-humanization instinct of those who chopped off the faces of antiquity from those who want us to wear masks everywhere, even in our home, or during Zoom meetings from home (Wisconsin)?

            • covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

              thanks.

              it was actually Ducnan who I was replying to.

              he had the audacity to call out “right wing Christians” by name, but omit the name of the group who destroyed the Buddha statues,

              perhaps it’s left wing hypocrisy.

            • Tim Groves says:

              Covid was addressing Duncan, I believe, not you Lydia.

              Duncan never explains his cryptic utterances. He’s like the Oracle of Delphi in that respect.

              Who knows who was behind the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas?

              The Taliban did it and the One-Eyed Mullah ordered it, according to the news media that lie about everything. But if this account is correct, the question remains, who was behind the One-Eyed Mullah, ordering him to do the ordering?

            • Lidia17 says:

              Sorry! I was too quick on the trigger. I get your comment now.

        • Dennis L. says:

          Duncan,

          If religion works 20% of the time and gives 80% of the results it is okay. Perfection is the enemy of good enough. Secular humanism is a failure, it does not work. When was the last time you saw right wing Christians burning a block?

          Point of interest, C. A. Fitts claims many of the burned businesses in Minneapolis were scheduled for some sort of urban renewal, etc. Maybe available now for a lower price, you think?

          Life is poisonous, it always ends the same way.

          You are too smart for this.

          Dennis L.

        • JesseJames says:

          The current BLM rioters are exercising their beliefs with religious zeal. They will burn your home in the name of their religion.

      • covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

        high IQ persons invented guns.

        low IQ persons get a hold of them often thru illegal means directly or indirectly: steal the guns, or sell drugs and buy black market guns.

        so in effect, these low IQ persons have obtained a higher energy resource, which they then often use to shooot each other on the streets of inner cities.

        there might be a lesson in there somewhere about misusing or abbbusing higher energy and the power that comes with it.

        • Lidia17 says:

          “Mis-using” and “abusing” are such nasty value judgements, covidina!
          Perhaps everyone is using the surplus energy they either create, steal, or come across in exactly the way that they should.

          • covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

            sarc?

            okay, perhaps I should not have made that value judgment about inner city persons shoooting each other…

            many dozens of times per week in American cities…

            especially in the large D controlled cities.

            oops, was that more value judgment? 😉

      • Xabier says:

        True, Lydia, bleakly true.

        Although one can meet threats at the primitive level in just the same way, if young and strong enough: while against people like Gates who fancy themselves as world-shapers, whether it’s overbearing ambition or a belief in their superior insight, one can do nothing at all.

        • Robert Firth says:

          Xabier, I suggest skitterbots. They are mechanical cockroaches containing nerve gas, and they can infiltrate just about anything. Asymmetric warfare is in my opinion our last, best hope against the oligarchs.

      • Artleads says:

        Whether it works this way or not, my IQ is too low to understand it one way or another. To us low IQ types, reducing everything down to entropy and whatever it is we’re supposed to be doing with it is a waste of a brain. Better to be like the bird or the dog and make the best of the interesting world we live in.

  9. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Europe’s migrant crisis is worsening during the pandemic. The reaction has been brutal.”

    https://edition.cnn.com/2020/08/28/europe/europe-migrants-coronavirus-intl/index.html?fbclid=IwAR30WBtgDsM_97p0S8Ub-a89MwiUzlX56GTyd0enLhSUUCVCZnrgIph0Afg

    • Robert Firth says:

      The reaction may have been brutal, but it has not been brutal enough. Europe is experiencing a barbarian invasion, aided and abetted by globalist tyrants who seek to erase nation states, histories, and values. We are in more danger now than we were on the eve of the Battle of Lepanto, and our supposed leaders are either asleep or corrupt.

      These people are fleeing the consequences of their own dysfunctional societies, and will inevitably bring with them those same values.

      • Lidia17 says:

        Robert, what a wound to the heart to visit Puglia and see the hacked-off faces of the beautiful ancient sculptures. Why would anyone invite in a population that hates them? Those who cannot create, destroy. My Italian husband and I toured places like Otranto and Ostuni while staying with dear friends in Galatina. A wonderful area but sore beset even prior to the current troubles. My Italian relatives by marriage are mostly in Rome or further north and are all citified and mostly “woke”. Everyone knows the phrase, “Mamma! li Turchi!” … but the Pope instructs them now to kiss the feet of black muslim invaders.

        The grates everyone has had over their shops and residential windows for years are called “saracinesche” (anti-Saracens). Recently they have been shifting over to the more-politically-correct “tapparelle” or “serrande”, etc. I was horrified over the ten years I was there to see the encroaching degradation. They are the anecdotal frogs on the boil, trying not to notice. “This is fine.” Historically, my husband says, Italians are so used to various invasions from east to west, north to south… they will always take it in stride. I wonder. Italians have been largely dis-armed, although not entirely. Africans not only rape and steal and dismember, but calmly cook up stray cats and dogs to eat on the public pavement without particular disturbance.

        One of our first homes was a small old rented convent in central Italy. When we found a place to purchase a year later, in the next town over, we signaled a change of address at the local post office. The reaction of the postmaster? “Non c’e’ niente di buono che viene da Sarteano, neanche il vento!” Nothing good comes from Sarteano, not even the wind!

        Born and raised in a modern US, such “campanilismo” was strange and off-putting. Now I sorely miss that sense of solidarity and rootedness. We came back to the US to care for my elderly mom, and because land was more affordable. In our part of Italy at the time, less than two hectares of olives yielding €1800/year cost over €200.000 to purchase (we bought 93 acres here for less than that).

        In Italy, if you wanted to raise a couple of chickens you had to register each one at the Health Department, at a cost greater than the value of the chicken. Result? No-one has chickens about. The government is terribly oppressive: everyone has to fit into a pre-determined caste or class or guild or union position (often based on nepotism and grift). My husband, a computer programmer, was forced into the metal-mechanics union. Why? Because computers are made of metal.

        When you go to the supermarket there, the garlic comes from China, just like in the US. Fashion areas in the central north have been taken over by legal and (mostly) illegal Chinese, so they can make cheap crap and “honestly” label it as “Made in Italy”. Everything is being hollowed out of its essence. Everything is a scam. Outside of a few pockets, that is probably true world-wide. Clearly the US is being carved up as we speak in an analogous fashion. Italy is a bit further along this path, is my feeling. I would move back there tomorrow if it were not so. The sense of place is (restrictive yet) enriching.

      • info says:

        Most migrants are male. So its an invasion force.

      • Minority Of One says:

        Libya was a fully functional, well-organised, stable state where almost everyone was reasonably well fed, and now it is a basket-case failed state where thousands of people are trying their best to escape for a better life, often at the hands of ruthless thugs. Why? Because WE intervened and destroyed the place. Ditto Iraq. We destroy their countries then write things like “the consequences of their own dysfunctional societies” ?

        • Robert Firth says:

          I doubt the people of Chad would have such a rosy view of Libya, after four brutal invasions in ten years. And after being thrown out by a united Chad resistance, Gaddafi turned his armies’ repressive tactics on this own people, which in 2011 led to civil war. Long before “we” intervened.

    • Not enough jobs available that pay well, anywhere. Too many people for the world economy to handle.

  10. From WSJ, Hawaii Is No Longer Safe From Covid-19
    More than twice as many people have been infected in the past month as between March and late July

    The Hawaii Department of Health said in a social media message earlier this month that the “clusters in Hawaii are a result of workplace social interactions.” Most businesses, including retail stores, have been open since May, provided they follow safety guidelines including social distancing. Customers and employees are required to wear face coverings.

    It doesn’t sound like they really understand what the problem is. The state still requires a 14 day quarantine for all new arrivals.

    On Tuesday, Mr. Ige approved an emergency order requiring all nonessential workers on Oahu to stay at home for two weeks. Social gatherings are also prohibited.

    • Duncan Idaho says:

      I sold a house in Maui—
      Just in time, I think.

    • Lidia17 says:

      Are these serious “infections” (leading to illness)? Or just positive “cases” (PCR testing potentially indicating any old kind of coronavirus)? I don’t find a lot of relevant detail in many of these sorts of articles (though I can’t read most of this WSJ piece).

      Anyone can “be infected with” tetanus or strep or staph or E. coli, HPV, adenovirii (cold/pneumonia) and remain perfectly healthy. We have most of these organisms on or in our bodies all the time without any ill effects.

      2000 “cases” in March vs. 5500 “cases” in late July … is this just an artifact of increased testing? or not? Maybe someone with access to the complete article can say?

      Are we all just HRC’ing it?
      “What difference at this point does it make?”

      • These seem to be real cases. This is a link to the State of Hawaii site.

        https://health.hawaii.gov/coronavirusdisease2019/what-you-should-know/current-situation-in-hawaii/

        It now says,

        Updated 8/25/2020: We have seen several recent case clusters surrounding social activities such as break room gatherings, work pot-lucks, and other social gatherings. We suspect and in some cases have confirmed these cases are related to inconsistent mask wearing and lack of physical distancing.

        There have been 7,830 cases of COVID-19 identified in Hawaii. Of those cases, 6% have required hospitalization and 7,258 (93%) were residents.

        You can see testing results at this link:
        https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/eb56a98b71324152a918e72d3ccdfc20/page/page_5/

        • Lidia17 says:

          Thanks for the link. It says that 6.2% of tests came out positive.

          Out of 7806 positive “cases”, it lists that
          4 40-49yo died
          7 50-59yo died
          8 60-69yo died
          20 70-79yo died
          19 80+ died

          4+7+8+20+19 = 58 out of 7806 = .0074 mortality rate out of positive “cases”.
          Is my math wrong? If not, I hardly think we need to be afraid.

          251,701 were tested, it states here:
          https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/eb56a98b71324152a918e72d3ccdfc20/page/page_5/
          so overall that’s a (58/251,701=) .0002 mortality rate unless I am mistaken.
          Going to go hide under my desk now.

          1/4340 (rounded) is along the lines of the death risk of “pedacyclist incident” at 1/4486.

          Here are death risks of 1/4340 and higher:
          Heart Disease and Cancer 1 in 7
          Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease 1 in 28
          Intentional Self-harm 1 in 95
          Unintentional Poisoning by and Exposure to Noxious Substances 1 in 96
          Motor Vehicle Crash 1 in 114
          Fall 1 in 127
          Assault by Firearm 1 in 370
          Car Occupant 1 in 645
          Pedestrian Incident 1 in 647
          Motorcycle Rider Incident 1 in 985
          Unintentional Drowning and Submersion 1 in 1,188
          Exposure to Fire, Flames or Smoke 1 in 1,498
          Choking from Inhalation and Ingestion of Food 1 in 3,461
          https://www.nsc.org/work-safety/tools-resources/injury-facts/chart

          Gail, I would welcome any comment about these risk profiles.

          • Tim Groves says:

            Going to go hide under my desk now.

            Are you sure you want to do that?

            The risk of hiding under a desk is much greater than the risk of dying from Covid-1testing “Covid positive” in a PCR test.

            You might bang your head on the underside of the desk after being startled by a dead spider and suffer a concussion or even a cerebrospinal fluid leak. Indeed, there should be law mandating warnings on the underside of desks to this effect and making such spaces off limits to anyone not wearing a hard hat.

          • Many of these people got sick in the last two weeks. No one would expect them to die yet. The rate can be expected to rise somewhat as the peak ages.

            But you are right. With today’s treatments, is it hard for people to die of this illness. If people do die, they tend to be elderly. They may also have pre-existing conditions.

        • Lidia17 says:

          Gail, what do you mean by “real cases”? Are the people actually ill or did they merely have a positive PCR test? Not to knock you, but this imprecision is maddening.

        • Lidia17 says:

          Commenter “Kauai” at ZeroHedge:

          Total BS. I live here and don’t know a single person that contracted COVID. The heavily indebted Democratic states like California, Washington, New York, Oregon, etc. are all torpedoing their economy on the big gamble Biden and his progressive politicos will take control of the WH and Congress. Then pass a big multi $ Trillion bailout to clean up the state debts, not from Covid but decades of financially destructive progressive policy. States can’t go BK but will gladly accept the Federal taxpayers paying off their loans.
          ==========
          https://www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/hawaiis-covid-19-outbreak-spirals-out-control-gov-revives-lockdown#comment_stream

          58 deaths out of 1.2 million people.

          • Lidia17 says:

            Assuming these are real “covid” deaths and not deaths due to other natural causes (stroke, heart attack, flu or other pneumonia, etc.)

            Sorry to belabor this, but it’s pointless to throw numbers around that are inaccurate or potentially inaccurate.

  11. The WSJ has an article called After Unrest, Small Businesses Wrestle With Plywood Storefronts

    From New York to Seattle, some storefronts remain boarded up because of long waits for glass, fear of more tumult, and pandemic financial strains

    Local business leaders worry that boarded-up windows make urban centers, already struggling with the fallout from the pandemic, even less inviting. In West Philadelphia, many businesses suffered significant damage and still have boards up because owners can’t afford repairs, said Jabari Jones, president of the West Philadelphia Corridor Collaborative, a business association. Some have resorted to spray-painting “We’re Open” on the plywood.

    “It just doesn’t look good, it doesn’t feel good,” Mr. Jones said. “People don’t want to shop in an area where it looks like there’s broken windows or abandoned buildings and boards up on storefronts. A lot of people will keep on driving by.”

    It doesn’t sound like this would be a situation that would help local tourism.

    • Robert Firth says:

      This phenomenon was the basis of James Wilson’s “broken window” theory, published in 1982: that small crimes and acts of vandalism are the seen from which more serious crimes grow, and by suppressing them a city can reduce crime generally. It was adopted in New York City by Mayor Rudi Giuliani, with enormous success. NY had become almost unliveable; he turned it around. William Bratton similarly made the transit system safe, by cracking down on fare evasion, littering and so on. And crime rates in NY continued to decline for 15 years. Until the Democrats took over again, and decided that addressing minor crimes was “racist”. It doesn’t take much civic neglect to destroy a city.

      • Xabier says:

        Zero-tolerance is the only way to maintain decent civic life.

        Mussolini started off merely beating kids up and stabbing people, which was in embryo his model for politics: beatings, assassinations, and war against innocent neighbours.

  12. Oh dear says:

    Projections of EU demographic decline continue to deepen. This could have been a good thing, a ‘reducing’ population for reducing resources, but unfortunately capitalism with its profit- and structural debt-based need to maintain the labour force and to grow GDP stands in the way. It might also have been good for the environment.

    Likely we have left it too late to radically rethink BUA in any case, and the entire industrial project was simply not thought through. Private interest may have been a good mechanism for material growth but it is looking wholly inadequate as a basis for anything resembling a sustainable future.

    The idea of governmental social planning had a popularity among both liberals and socialists in UK after WWI, due to the failures of the free market and the seeming success of planning, and it led to u- /dys- topian novels like Brave New World. Capitalism has gone global since WWII and it seems to be headed for worse than dystopia anyway – collapse.

    > New study forecasts the EU’s population will plummet by millions more than expected

    New research has forecast the European Union’s population will plummet by millions more than previously predicted.

    The United Nations has said the number of people in the bloc will drop to 365 million by 2100, down from 446 million today.

    But a new study, published in the medical journal The Lancet, predicts it will fall more sharply, to 308 million by the end of the century.

    Scientists, mostly from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, forecast the fertility rate — the number of children per woman on average — will drop to 1.41 in the EU. Previous UN estimates had put the figure at 1.75.

    The new analysis predicts that Earth will be home to 8.8 billion people by 2100, with global growth peaking in 2064 at a population of 9.7 billion. Previous UN projections forecast 10.8 billion.

    Why is the fertility rate declining?

    Global fertility rates have steadily declined since the 1960s. According to the online publication Our World in Data’s study, this can be put down to three factors: “The empowerment of women (increasing access to education and increasing labour market participation), declining child mortality, and a rising cost of bringing up children (to which the decline of child labour contributed).”

    The authors of the new study add another reason for the global trend of declining fertility: “Educational attainment and access to contraception.”

    Women in the EU27 are generally now having fewer children when they are younger, choosing to have them when they are older, which reduces the potential number of children possible on a biological level, according to Eurostat.

    By 2100, 21 out of the 27 EU Member States will see their populations decline, the study predicts. Some countries like Bulgaria, Latvia, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, and Spain will probably even see their populations reduce by more than half by 2100 — up to a 77% decline for Latvia.

    The figures show that 15 of the EU’s countries, including Italy, Greece, Hungary, Poland and Portugal, are already experiencing a decline.

    Five countries (Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, and Luxembourg) will gain in population size by 2100, despite a reduction in speed of growth. Scientists attribute these small rises to a relatively steady fertility rate and positive net migration forecast in these countries.

    https://www.euronews.com/2020/07/31/new-study-forecasts-the-eu-s-population-will-plummet-by-millions-more-than-expected

    • Minority Of One says:

      >>The United Nations has said the number of people in the bloc will drop to 365 million by 2100, down from 446 million today.

      By 2100 we will be producing zero fossil fuels. I don’t think the hunter/gatherer lifestyle will sustain 365 M people.

      • Oh dear says:

        Indeed, if historical data is anything to go by.

        – Estimates of the population of the world at the time agriculture emerged in around 10,000 BC have ranged between 1 million and 15 million.[23][24] Even earlier, genetic evidence suggests humans may have gone through a population bottleneck of between 1,000 and 10,000 people about 70,000 BC, according to the Toba catastrophe theory. By contrast, it is estimated that around 50–60 million people lived in the combined eastern and western Roman Empire in the 4th century AD.[25] – wiki

        And that was when people still knew how to H-G – and there was still stuff around to H-G.

        I guess that fishing will be the way to go – once most of us have died off – and maybe raise some chickens. Get a fire going and… smoked haddock with poached eggs (some old pot will do) – and maybe some mash potatoes – intercontinental imperialism was not for nothing after all, spuds are pretty easy to grow (thinking from Britain here.) Keep some cows for a nice glass of milk – very nice!

        If we have indeed overstretched our population then the earth itself will solve that problem. In retrospect, the anarchic pursuit of human self-interest in capitalism was always going to end one way – overreach and natural limits. The fertility rate simply did not drop until material development had already gone too far and it was far too late to avoid collapse.

        – Far too many live, and far too long hang they on their branches… Ah! ye preach patience with what is earthly? This earthly is it that hath too much patience with you, ye blasphemers! – Nietzsche, TSZ

        • Lidia17 says:

          If you are in Northern seas which are productive, good! Not a lot of fish at the shores I have visited over the past decade or two. The amount of diesel it takes to go out and fish is prodigious. Modern enterprises suck up everything down to the floorboards. Fisheries which have collapsed may never come back. And don’t forget the 400+ nuclear power plants.

          I just started reading the Diary of John Evelyn (born 1620). He had eight children of whom two lived to marry and generate three grandchildren in all. Smallpox was the disease that carried a number of them away.

          We have some chickens now, but will need to find/grow food supplements for them for the winter rather than relying on the grain store (we are fortunate to have a feed mill right in town, connected by rail, for now).

        • Xabier says:

          Not even the fault of Capitalism, as such: once the Industrial Genie had been let out of the bottle, we were certain to pay the penalty for getting all our wishes fulfilled.

    • Tim Groves says:

      Why is the fertility rate declining?

      Because women are bearing fewer children on the average?

      Or is it the other way round?

      OK, let’s start again.

      Are people less fertile due to physical factors that make it more difficult or impossible to conceive and/or carry embryos and fetuses to term?

      Or are they less fertile for psychological reasons including fear of becoming a parent, fear or dislike of children (pedophobia), fear of parential responsibility, reticence to take on the economic, financial and/or emotional burdens of raising children, desire to be free from the social or communitarian commitments involved in being a parent, horror at the thought of bringing more kids into a world as FUBARed as ours currently is, etc?

      • Lidia17 says:

        I tend to think the latter, but behind the latter are physical reasons (not immediate bodily reasons) of which people are only subliminally conscious.

        When you sense resources are going to be scarce, you can do one of two things: *over*procreate (trees will set more fruit under duress) or *under*procreate. When times are hard mother animals may eat their own young to preserve resources in order to theoretically live and procreate another day.

        There is no one winning strategy, and we don’t know which option will lead to greater success; it’s all a crap shoot largely without conscious intent.

        • Xabier says:

          It’s all about the context. A very poor family in Morocco can send the (usually numerous) sons out everyday – even as prostitutes servicing Europeans from the rich North – to make money somehow and bring home the evening meal.

          So over-reproduction in highly inauspicious circumstances both causes stress – how are we going to eat? – and also provides useful labour so as to be able to scrape by yet another day.

          Here, a large (2-5 children) immigrant family scoring lots of ‘need’ points will be more likely to get subsidised housing (and get much more welfare money) than a professional single person (and truly British by long descent), newly redundant as a result of the idiotic lock-downs – their case will in fact be more or less hopeless as far as official assistance goes.

          Careless reproduction may pay off in both primitive and complex social economies. For the time being……

  13. Harry McGibbs says:

    “The city government of Berlin has called off several planned weekend protests, the largest of which on Saturday expected to draw 20,000 people or more. The organizers plan to challenge the move in court.”

    https://www.dw.com/en/berlin-bans-large-weekend-protests-against-coronavirus-restrictions-citing-health-grounds/a-54709887

  14. Harry McGibbs says:

    The worst of all worlds for poor old Peru:

    “The country with the world’s strictest lockdown is now the worst for excess deaths…

    “Officially, there have been more than 28,000 deaths, in a population of 31 million. But when all fatalities are taken into account, including those without a formal coronavirus diagnosis, the Andean nation now has the world’s highest rate of “excess” deaths compared to historical averages.

    “Peru also just hit 600,000 cases, a grim tally that puts it behind only five other countries, all with significantly larger populations. Polls show that nearly seven in 10 residents personally know someone who has died from Covid-19.

    “Hospitals have been overrun, prompting many desperate families to brave the ghoulish speculation of a booming black-market in oxygen as they nurse gasping relatives at home.

    “Yet normality is a relative concept. These days just being allowed out of the house for “nonessential” activities, including exercise by the ocean, is a freedom for Peruvians to cherish.
    In mid-March, President Martín Vizcarra imposed one of the strictest lockdowns anywhere in the free world.”

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/south-america/peru/articles/peru-strict-lockdown-excess-deaths/

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “Peru’s mining-driven economy, one of the hardest-hit by the coronavirus pandemic, is expected to contract 12% this year – its deepest plunge in three decades, the economy ministry said on Thursday.”

      https://uk.reuters.com/article/peru-economy/update-1-peru-economy-set-for-12-plunge-in-2020-worst-in-three-decades-idUKL1N2FT2GS

    • A person wonders whether the lockdowns were a reaction to bad conditions before COVID19 hit. The people were especially susceptible to the disease, or perhaps it was made worse by a cutback in adequate nutrition.

      • Lidia17 says:

        a “mining-driven economy” may have lots of people who are already compromised as far as respiration is concerned. Also, much of it is high altitude (though I am not sure what percentage of the population lives in those climes or are how much they are affected with illness).

        • Robert Firth says:

          Lidia, when I visited Peru I found the people higher up fitter, thinner, and more active. Lima was a typical big city with people driving around, sitting around, and shopping. On the altiplano they walked more, visited each other more, and seemed happier. When I arrived in Cuzco I was given two cups of coca tea, had a slightly disturbed night, and was ready for tourism the next morning. By the way, I was in my 50s at the time.

          Lake Titicaca, by the way, was awesome. And no problem three days into the tour, even though it is about 4000m above sea level. But the sun was quite fierce. I think my highest point was on an Inca trail at 4200m, and walking at usual speed was not hard.

  15. D3G says:

    Some Epexcerpts from an essay featuring quotes by Tim Garrett
    https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-08/uou-oeh082620.php

    Our energy hunger is tethered to our economic past
    UNIVERSITY OF UTAH

    “How do we achieve a steady-state economy where economic production exists, but does not continually increase our size and add to our energy demands?” Garrett says. “Can we survive only by repairing decay, simultaneously switching existing fossil infrastructure to a non-fossil appetite? Can we forget the flame?”

    But is it possible to undo the economic and technological progress that have brought civilization to this point? Can we, the species who harnessed the power of fire, now “forget the flame,” in Garrett’s words, and decrease efficient growth?

    “It seems unlikely that we will forget our prior innovations, unless collapse is imposed upon us by resource depletion and environmental degradation,” he says, “which, obviously, we hope to avoid.”

    So what kind of future, then, does Garrett’s work envision? It’s one in which the economy manages to hold at a steady state–where the energy we use is devoted to maintaining our civilization and not expanding it.

    It’s also one where the energy of the future can’t be based on fossil fuels. Those have to stay in the ground, he says.

    ************

    Tim Garrett talks about collapse as possibly being “imposed upon us by resource depletion…”, but I think he means running out of ‘the stuff’ in a literal sense, which of course, is not going to happen. The essay is well worth a read.

    D3G

    • Mike Roberts says:

      Well, maybe not in a literal sense but resource depletion does lead to resources that are more expensive to get at and, as Gail has pointed out, if such resources can’t be recovered economically at a price that the economy can afford, then less would be produced. In practical terms, such a situation is not much different from “running out of the stuff.”

      • D3G says:

        That’s the direction I was trying to go, Mike, but I guess I’m getting tired after a long day.
        Cheers, D3G

    • According to the article,

      Regardless of the year examined, they found that every trillion inflation-adjusted year 2010 U.S. dollars of economic worldwide production corresponded with an enlarged civilization that required an additional 5.9 gigawatts of power production to sustain itself. In a fossil economy, that’s equivalent to around 10 coal-fired power plants, Garrett says, leading to about 1.5 million tons of CO2 emitted to the atmosphere each year.

      If GDP growth goes to zero, there is nothing at all of offset the effects of depletion. There is nothing at all to offset the impact of rising population.

      And, as Garrett points out, increased efficiency encourages more energy use, not less, it is not really a solution either.

      • Robert Firth says:

        “And, as Garrett points out, increased efficiency encourages more energy use, not less, it is not really a solution either.”

        Exactly. That is Jevons’ Paradox, named after William Stanley Jevons, and published by him in 1865. It seems many economists no longer study the history of their own discipline.

  16. Tango Oscar says:

    So I watched Jay Powell’s speech today. It was basically a big nothing burger other than they said they’re going to allow inflation to run hotter than 2% to make up for years where it ran sub 2%, which is pretty much every year for decades. Are they going to let inflation run at 30% or something this year to make up for the last 20 years? On a more serious note I have two lines of thought that could explain the Federal Reserve’s actions or lack thereof. Either inflation is already running hot and they’re announcing this as an attempt to maintain the illusion of control OR they’re planning on doing something intentionally to greatly increase inflation as in digital dollars directly into consumers bank accounts. While both of these could certainly turn out to be true in the near future I think they’re trying to look competent and in control of market forces.

    Looking at a broad index we already know the CPI is turning up the last few months with food prices increasing. Various goods that make our economy run are at or near all time highs including lumber, wheat, corn, gold, copper, and others. Oil has a variety of interesting things going on with wells being shut in at the same time the virus has diminished demand and hurricanes are on the loose. The thing is, prices for natural gas and oil aren’t nearly high enough for producers and current prices are still pushing them towards insolvency. Perhaps the Federal Reserve is going to “let inflation run hot” to try and juice up prices some more on energy related assets. I can’t see how oil goes much above $40 without some type of QE genie magic.

    If we look at the DXY chart, which is an index of currencies against one another in a basket (primarily US Dollar versus Euro), the dollar has been weakening substantially since June. The dollar literally had almost 10% of its purchasing power vaporized against the Euro since June, which is quite astonishing all by itself. This creates the interesting dynamic of paper fiat currencies becoming less valuable compared to one another and versus commodities simultaneously. I keep an eye on this chart daily along with gold and the indexes and have seen some eye popping volatility lately. Whatever is going on with the markets, I get this feeling that another liquidity crisis cannot be far off.

    Financial institutions are in a lot of trouble. US Banks had an awful Q2 with some losing billions like Wells Fargo and others in Europe getting bankruptcy warnings from the Fed like Deutsche Bank. HSBC made .01 and with brexit, Hong Kong being assimilated by China, and a general implosion of rates I cannot think they survive much longer. Rates are too low for banks to make money and they’re really not doing much lending to speak of. Couple this with one of the biggest financial bubbles of all time, evidenced by companies like Tesla being valued at 1300 P/E ratio and we have all the ingredients for financial armageddon come the fall.

    • covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

      “Either inflation is already running hot and they’re announcing this as an attempt to maintain the illusion of control…”

      that one.

      not double digit inflation, but the average person is “experiencing” higher than what has been usual for many years, and this experience is in essentials where people are going to notice it more and take more of a hit to their wallets.

      the USD down 10% is a bit of a worry, but since most of the other major countries are also printing like crazzzy, I don’t see the USD dropping much more.

      and I don’t see a coming liquidity crisis, since that crazzzy money printing solves that in the short term. MMT more money today.

      but yes, in Autumn or Winter, something could break.

      tens of millions of flat broke unemployed in the USA and the EU is a path to an economic plunge.

      • Tango Oscar says:

        Don’t trade the stock market Dave. The dollar is currently plummeting .76% today against the Euro. I’ve never seen a drop this big before.

        • covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

          https://www.cnbc.com/2020/08/28/forex-markets-federal-reserve-dollar-in-focus.html

          “The greenback resumed its slide against a basket of major currencies in the wake of Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s remarks at the virtual Jackson Hole conference. Powell said the U.S. central bank would seek to keep inflation at 2%, on average, so that periods of too-low inflation would likely be followed by an effort to lift inflation above 2% for some time.

          In practice, market participants expect that this means the current ultra-low rates will stay lower for longer, thereby pressuring the dollar. After recovering from an initial slide on Thursday immediately after Powell’s speech, the dollar weakened once again overnight. The dollar index was last 0.5% lower at 92.513.”

          sure, lower.

          but all of the other major CBs are likely also to be keeping their “current ultra-low rates” “lower for longer”.

          I don’t see how the Fed is unique here.

          if the dollar index goes below 90, then so it goes. Something could break in the US economy and send it even lower, but then things could break in other countries too. We’ll see. It’s only money.

          • Robert Firth says:

            Sigh. If US interest rates stay at zero, and other countries’ rates rise, the dollar will fall. If US interest rates rise, the national debt will increase more quickly, and the dollar will fall. If the US could reduce its external deficit to zero, that would help, but we all know that can’t happen. The Roman Empire faced a similar problem when they ran out of silver, and it did not end well.

            • covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

              “If US interest rates stay at zero, and other countries’ rates rise, the dollar will fall.”

              yes, but I don’t see how “other countries” can raise their rates.

              “If US interest rates rise, the national debt will increase more quickly, and the dollar will fall.”

              yes, so I don’t see any chance of US rates rising.

              in other words, everyone stays at near zero rates.

            • Robert Firth says:

              For covid… On the whole I agree. Which is why all these clever financial people have run out of room to manoeuver, and perhaps should retuie to their basements and wait for the sky to fall.

    • The problems we are encountering are strange, in many ways. Farmers are having to plow under crops, or throw out milk, because of a lack of commercial consumers to sell to. Prices that farmers receive tend to be depressed, partly because of broken supply lines. But the prices that consumers have to pay rises on many things, partly because the system isn’t set up to handle so much demand at the grocery store level and so little demand from buyers such as restaurants and university cafeterias.

      With commodity prices as low as they are, they need to rise, for the sake of the producers. This would tend to raise inflation further. The hope of the Fed is that all of their actions (plus other government programs) will somehow get back to consumers in a way that will allow more inflation at the consumer level.

      • Tango Oscar says:

        I get what their intent is behind trying to get inflation to rise, my thought process immediately floats to “how do they get it to stop?” I guess that’s not what they’re concerned about right now as deflation is likely to cause commodity prices to plummet. But the more levers and buttons they mess with the more impossible it will become to get the situation under control.

        • I doubt that anyone can really control the situation any more. We need a properly working international economic situation to get prices under control. Prices need to rise for the producers, but consumers can’t afford the higher prices.

          • Tango Oscar says:

            I’ll believe our central bank loses control when the stock market tanks 75%. Until then it at least appears they have things under control and keeps the plebes from suspecting there’s any real problems. Every time someone looks at their 401K it’s bigger, what’s the problem they’ll say. And it works to keep confidence and spending higher in the meantime. People don’t mind being lied to if their bank accounts look bigger each week.

            I will admit the system has already carried on longer than I thought it would’ve, given all of the circumstances. Things are still happening at a very quick pace, just not quickly enough to fully destroy the facade of normalcy. So long as the big banks and oil companies are alive and the airlines keep getting bailed out, people want to believe that things will be back to normal in 2022 or in 10 years or whatever story they’re telling themselves that particular afternoon.

            • covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

              “I will admit the system has already carried on longer than I thought it would’ve, given all of the circumstances. Things are still happening at a very quick pace, just not quickly enough to fully destroy the facade of normalcy.”

              I admit that I have always thought that the system would carry on at least into the mid 2020s, so hey I have been correct so far.

              yes, “they” have limited control.

              they can keep stocks up, and can keep banks liquid.

              but can they keep the USD from plunging?

              yes, lots of “levers and buttons”.

              perhaps for a while longer they can guess right on how they tweak them.

          • nikoB says:

            If the governments start giving everyone a weekly payment (say $1000), would that stimulate the prices enough to keep deflation at bay and prices high enough for producers? At least temporarily?

            • covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

              yes, helicopter money directly to consumers would raise inflation, as opposed to most of the USD created this year which has gone mostly into propping up asset prices.

              but then that MMT would send the dollar index lower, so that would be risky business.

              but everything govs do now is risky business.

            • We are dealing with a world economy. Most governments don’t really have a way of giving their citizens $1,000 per week. Think of South Africa or Lebanon, for example.

              I am doubtful that you could make this work. The currencies of the governments with the big payments would likely fall in relationship to other currencies.

            • nikoB says:

              Would printing keep the centre alive though for a longer period than the periphery?
              EU, US, CAN, AUS, NZ etc at the expense of Africa, sth America for example.
              Could this be the game plan?

  17. MG says:

    How bad is the situation?

    Well, I would say that only a small number of the people live mentally in the year 2020.

    The rest lives mostly live in the second decade of our century, with some people living in the first decade, too, but there are also such people who live even in the 80s.

    One can not believe how ignorant the majority of the people is. It is easy to turn on music or speech for listening anywhere and disguise that way the deadly silence produced by the system stopping functioning on various levels.

    Moreover, you should work harder, you are not trying enough, because you are lazy and foul, until breathing your last breath from exhaustion, not knowing the real cause of the disappearance of the human world…

    • MG says:

      The motto of our time is “Faster is better”, but you see no meaning in that, as if this should only distract you from the horror of the reality.
      Finally, you are considered to be too slow according to those who are rapidly hitting the wall with a broar smile on face…

      • MG says:

        You may come to the conclusion that you should ask the blind and crazy majority to put you in the psychiatric ward, as there is more sanity than in the open world.

    • covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

      interesting.

      “Well, I would say that only a small number of the people live mentally in the year 2020.
      The rest lives mostly live in the second decade of our century, with some people living in the first decade, too, but there are also such people who live even in the 80s.”

      my life now is at least as good as it was in the 80s thru 2019.

      I’m sure this is true for many millions of people.

      mentally, I’m not in the future which appears to be headed for a near term Great Depression and the added societal problems that will come with the economic problems.

      2020 has been quite good so far.

      knock on wood.

      • Kowalainen says:

        True statement. Imagine being the beneficiary of fossil fueled technocracy and resent it, while at the same time having artifacts of its technological omnipotence in the pocket. It is sanctimonious hypocrisy at its “finest”.

        Then the eternal cackling about a the collapse of financial institutions. Here’s the real deal: It is only three parameters in this game. Game Theory, Natural resources and technology. The rest is simply fickle smoke and mirrors.

    • Slow Paul says:

      Most people follow their instincts, which also includes not liking people that are different or act differently (i.e. tribalism). I guess this goes both ways. Doomers are not really that different from “normal people”, we are just trying to “win” another game. That is the game of understanding collapse and positioning oneself for surviving and thriving as long as possible.

    • Robert Firth says:

      Sigh. I live mentally in about 50 AD, or as I think of it, 800 AUC. And so here I am, in the exact centre of the Mediterranean.

      • Duncan Idaho says:

        800 AUC?
        Rome in 50 AD had well over a million people.
        It wasn’t until the 1700’s in London that that happened again, although Bagdad in the 1300’s may of come close.
        1700 years is a long time, amigos.
        Getting back to our historical population of 1-10 million would make survival more possible, although extremely unlikely.

        • Tim Groves says:

          Survival, for both species and individuals, is a temporary condition.
          If we’re born (or hatched out of an egg), we’re sure to die.
          It’s no big deal.

  18. Minority Of One says:

    Dr. John Campbell (UK) does a daily YT update video on the cv-19 epidemic. I’d describe his attitude until now as somewhere between kind (towards those in charge) and naive. Here he discusses scientific data that proves how useful Hydroxychloroquine is, and quite simply cannot believe what a rubbish job the teams from the WHO and Oxford, England have done.

    Hydroxychloroquine, evidence of efficacy

    • Interesting!

    • Xabier says:

      That’s an important post.

      I would say that what you call his ‘naivety’ is really that he is so kind and decent that he finds any other behaviour difficult to comprehend.

      One type of person climbs the greasy pole, or lives off nice juicy research grants, another better type holds things together and does the real work.

  19. Tina Eden says:

    Hi,
    I just found your blog and have been enjoying reading its many different posts.
    I came here in search of some updated information on peak oil, but most of what I have found is from 2012 or earlier.
    Do you have any comments at this time on oil/energy supplies?
    Thank you

    • The real issue is Limits to Growth, not Peak Oil, so what I have been writing about has been somewhat different recently.

      The problem is that selling prices for oil fall too low for oil producers. Indirectly, because of low prices, oil production declines. Oil producers voluntarily cut back on production to try to achieve higher prices. This is what produces the peak in oil production. The highest year of crude oil production seems to be 2018; it was already declining in 2019, and will decline quite a bit more in 2020. I expect that production will decline more in future years. There may be occasional small spikes in prices, but not enough to bring production back up. Instead, governments of oil producing countries will tend to collapse.

      This is a chart of crude oil production by part of the world, using BP data through 2019. Total crude oil production in 2019 was down very slightly because even though North America’s oil production rose (US and Canada’s rose, while Mexico’s declined), the decline in oil production in the Middle East and the “Remainder” more than offset this increase.

      https://gailtheactuary.files.wordpress.com/2020/04/world-oil-production-by-area-to-2019.png

      This is a chart of prices, which are too low for producers. They need prices up near the 2008 peak.

      https://gailtheactuary.files.wordpress.com/2020/07/weekly-spot-brent-oil-price.png

  20. Dennis L. says:

    Covid and education:

    Personal experience: last year I attended a local CC and took first year calculus – excellent.
    Over the summer I was very busy, intended to review, did some, didn’t feel enough so went to MITx. Incredible! The teaching is clean, the presentation is clean and subtle in that it not only gives the basics, it weaves the deeper meanings into the experience. The problem sets are very good as well as challenging using the basics in a more than memorized manner. For $100 one can take for credit(well a certificate). Browsing around they have a very complete math section, a very complete physics section, a very complete materials section, a very complete circuit section, etc.
    Say eight courses a year, 4 years, 32 courses and one has an incredible education with introductory certificates. Currently this would cost $3200.

    Interview with Google, etc., they will not care about your credentials, they can test and credential.

    Not sure about medicine, but back in the day only required 3 years of undergraduate, some basic courses and the boards. Blow the boards away and you are most likely in somewhere. Dentistry was 2 years undergraduate with the hurdle course, organic chem.

    Engineering used to require only experience and passing a PE exam, not sure about today.

    Abraham Lincoln read law, he did not go to school as I recall, he did okay it would seem.

    Education is changing before our eyes, collapse of the educational establishment may be upon us, but not collapse of education and loss of knowledge.

    What is missing? Personal interaction, we need people around us. Someone is going to figure that out and the result may be not unlike those who can withdraw from public secondary education and hiring tutors in pods. Interesting if one can essentially credential homeschooling, what about pods? What happens to support for public school?

    Dennis L.

    • Actuarial work, particularly casualty actuarial work (which I was in), is sort of an apprenticeship program. There are approximately 10 tests to pass (some get subdivided into parts), over a period of years.

      One of the people with whom I worked never obtained a college degree. He had been hired as a “clerk” back in the day when adding machines were the state of the art (pre-calculators!). He started dating a female actuarial trainee (some time before I joined the company), and decided that in order to support a family, it would be helpful to pass the actuarial exams. He found a local university where he could sign up for the courses necessary to give him the background he needed. He learned the material he needed to learn, and passed the actuarial exams. I doubt anyone would guess that he did not have a college degree!

    • Bei Dawei says:

      In the USA, until the 20th century many people (well, men) became doctors by apprenticing themselves to other doctors. The major disadvantage was the rise of medical “sects” that had no basis in science, such as osteopathy and chiropractic (which spread much like a Holiness revival might spread religious teachings). The government was finally moved to do something when this one guy started promoting an operation in which men had their testicles removed and replaced with goat testicles. (There was a book–and, I think, a movie–about this, called “Charlatan.”) After the Flexner Report, doctors had to go to an approved medical school, pass Boards, etc..The osteopaths and chiropractors adjusted (sorry!), other medical “sects” (like homeopathy) were pushed to the periphery, along with faith healers and such.

      • Malcopian says:

        Then there was the man who had his testicles removed and replaced with octopus testicles. A few months later, his wife gave birth to octuplets. Yuck!

      • The situation is not entirely different today.

        Surgical procedures are not entirely standardized. This leads to significant creativity in changing the procedures, for better or worse. One physician carved his initials after delivering babies, based on malpractice claims.

        Another area of creativity is using drugs for “off label” uses. A doctor can find new uses for any approved drug.

        Doctors are under pressure to get as much revenue as possible. If there is a cheap solution to a problem (for example, a pessary for a problem some women have) and an expensive surgical solution to a problem, there is a significant chance that practice group that is getting its revenue from surgical procedures will recommend the surgical procedure.

        There are any number of machines that can be used for diagnosis; if a physician owns these machines, himself, he can make considerable revenue by using these machines, whether or not the expense of the test would be warranted.

        Medical schools generally ignore the importance of proper nutrition. Instead, medical schools and require continuing education programs focus on the latest medicines and vaccines. The pressure is to prescribe as much medicine as possible, because this will keep the patient coming back for more office visits, and thus more revenue for the physician.

    • Kowalainen says:

      Yes, and the professional “tools of the trade” education market is exploding. Plenty of courses in whatever your interests and job opportunities are.

  21. Ed says:

    Urban farming in skyscrapers makes no sense. To grow food one needs sunlight or electric provided artificial light. A square of flat dirt/farm land say 500 feet by 500 feet receives sun from an opening 500 feet by 500 feet. A floor in a building receives sun from the windows say 10 feet by 500 feet, so 50 times less than a piece of dirt without the blocking effect of the floor above. Urban farming requires electric lights and so is a none starter in an energy constrained world.

  22. Harry McGibbs says:

    “…the liquidity being injected into the banking system is staying in the financial circuit of the economy, but is not working its way into the production of real output for the economy…

    “The massive debt levels being created will not necessarily lead us into some kind of financial collapse, although that scenario is not entirely out of the question.”

    https://seekingalpha.com/article/4370890-credit-inflation-is-alive-and-well-in-europe

    • We need to print cheap energy production; dollars won’t substitute.

      • Dennis L. says:

        Perhaps the US has done that. Foreign debt non bank denominated in dollars is now about $11T. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-global-markets-debt/new-high-water-mark-for-global-foreign-currency-debt-idUSKBN1X921E

        A country whose businesses borrow in dollars needs to pay in dollars which come from exchanging its currency for dollars, e.g. selling oil. The oil is produced in local dollars, when the local currency declines, more is required or in effect, more oil/dollar – deflation.

        Locals outside of US want cheaper debt, the market tells them they can’t borrow at attractive rates, local politicians and others want short term results, they borrow in dollars at a low interest rates and when time comes to pay debt, need to sell the proverbial farm to pay the debt.

        Some/much of the money the US is “giving” away may be finding its way into these channels, e. g. Venezuela. The net result is the dollar becomes stronger – more of it is required to pay debts, once the debt paid the dollar is extinguished. CHS had a similar reasoning for the dollar remaining strong – perhaps some very clever bankers using human nature to purchase various items on sale.

        The path of dollar extinguishment may not be that complicated. Oil is sold in the international market for dollars, the dollars pay off the bond and effectively the money ceases to exist. Where before there was the bond with a value of say $1 and a dollar in a local bank, meaning $2.00 worth of value to leverage against, after payment there is only $1, the oil has been burned and no longer exists.

        Dennis L.

        • Very interesting ideas! Thank you!

          The result may not be as bad as you suggest, if the oil is burned in a way that creates more goods and services with the oil. For example, food might be produced and distributed using the oil. Or new mines might be added. But at some point, more productive uses for the oil tend to disappear. Investment is in mines that can’t really produce enough, at the prices available in the marketplace. Or more food is produced than people can really eat, without a lot of waste in the system. This seems to be where we are now.

          • Dennis L. says:

            As I understand economic multipliers a car can be sold say 4 times and then scrapped. If at the end of its lifetime the GDP calculation will be greater than the original selling price, the total is the original plus used price1, used price2, … plus salvage price. There is loss of material at each step, but not 100%.

            The more indebted a nation to non-multiplier goods, the lower GDP which with a constant population is a lower per captia GDP. Debt is the ultimate non multiplier separated from useful goods purchased.

            Food if only used for subsistence is essentially a multiplier of 1 as are diapers for the elderly, interestingly enough toilet paper is a non multiplier even a negative multiplier as it requires sewage treatment.

            No argument, trying to understand what will possibly work and what is not worth pursuing.

            Dennis L.

            • I had to check to see how used cars are treated in GDP calculations. I found the answer a couple of different places. Basically, the only part of a used car’s price that goes into the calculation is the cost of the “service” of the sales organization selling the car. Thus, if a used car organization buys a car for $9,000 and sells it for $10,000, $1,000 would be added to GDP. A similar calculation would hold for sales of used houses and used factories. If this approach weren’t used, the turnover of property would be a big part of GDP.

              I think that the thing that is important that isn’t in GDP calculations is the impact of price changes, either because of inflation/deflation or because of currency change relativities. (More or less, net realized capital gains.) Over a very long period, the United States has experienced inflation in the price of homes, shares of stock, and land values. These inflationary increases can get back into the economy, even before a home is sold, if an owner can refinance the home loan and use the proceeds to buy other goods and services. Of course, if an economy suddenly encounters deflation, the opposite effect is likely to take place. In fact, debt defaults are likely, especially if a homeowner needs to sell a home, because he can no longer afford it.

              Big shifts in currency relativities can make debt repayment much greater than was originally anticipated. This, in some ways, also acts like deflation.

      • Oh dear says:

        “We need to print cheap energy production; dollars won’t substitute.”

        Hey, maybe we could use those new 3D printers to print out plastic coal.

        Don’t laugh, it is recyclable – which means that it is green.

  23. Harry McGibbs says:

    “The world’s steepest deflation is set to linger across Gulf Arab states as the coronavirus pandemic broadens a slump in prices that started with a downturn in their housing markets…

    “the extent and duration of falling prices give a glimpse into the damage to consumer confidence…”

    https://finance.yahoo.com/news/gulf-states-dive-deeper-deflation-063218445.html

  24. Harry McGibbs says:

    “PetroChina posts $4.4 billion first-half loss, pledges near-zero emissions by 2050.”

    https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-china-petrochina-results/petrochina-posts-4-4-billion-first-half-loss-pledges-near-zero-emissions-by-2050-idUKKBN25N1AF

  25. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Mexico’s economy could contract by almost 13% this year, the central bank warned on Wednesday, after GDP data showed the pandemic lockdown had thrown the country into the deepest slump since the Great Depression.”

    https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-mexico-economy/mexico-slumps-to-great-depression-economic-lows-central-bank-slashes-forecast-idUKKBN25M1IA

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “Populist leaders often use moments of crisis to advance authoritarian agendas. The “perfect storm” currently engulfing Latin America — a lethal combination of political instability combined with health and economic crises — is just such a moment.”

      https://www.ft.com/content/36a0ff50-8c03-433d-9d2e-8eb1925ca91a

        • New debt to help pay off the old debt, most likely!

          • Robert Firth says:

            I thrill to the weight of your purse, dear
            Even though I know debt is a curse, dear
            But I’ll still borrow more
            ‘Cause I hate to be poor
            So let’s dance to the debt roll over tango.

            I still have my jets and my yacht, dear
            Though the people most likely have not, dear
            So I’ll let them eat cake
            While I’m still on the take
            Just keep playing that debt roll over tango.

        • Dennis L. says:

          A simple guess is Argentina is too far away from most markets, goods sold on the international market have a more or less fixed selling price, the higher the transportation costs the lower the “surplus” remaining. When transportation costs increase, it kills the profit, borrow to carry over, rinse and repeat.

          Countries like Argentina need to be much more local than global which leads to problems of scale for many contemporary products.

          Looking for Argentina data came across this, a rather nice summary of many economic trends and other data.

          https://tradingeconomics.com/

          Dennis L.

          • That is a good point, but I know I buy produce from Chile and from South Africa, and flowers from Columbia and Ecuador. These are distant locations as well. I very occasionally see pears from Argentina.

            My impression is that Argentina’s exports often overlap with US exports, so that the US is not very much of a market for Argentina’s exports. Both countries export wheat, soy beans, corn, and beef. I am sure that the US raises plenty of apples. Argentina makes delivery trucks, but I doubt that they are for delivery to the US.

            This chart shows exports and destinations.
            https://oec.world/en/profile/country/arg

            The biggest group of exports seems to be to other parts of Central and South America. These countries aren’t necessarily doing very well themselves. (Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Peru, etc).

            Another almost equally big group of exports goes to Asia: China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, etc).

            A fairly good sized amount goes to Europe (Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Italy, UK, Russia, etc).

            When I check, the US does import crude oil and petroleum products from Argentina. These would seem to be mostly very low-valued products however, such as petroleum coke and relatively high sulfur residual fuel oil. https://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/PET_MOVE_IMPCUS_D_NUS_NAR_MBBL_M.htm

            The US, in turn, sends back low sulfur distillate oil, finished motor gasoline, and lubricants. It looks to me as if Argentina is, in effect, buying oil refining services from the US. Comparing exports and imports, it looks like Argentina is a net importer of oil from the US. This is likely part of its problem. Australia’s oil production has been declining since a peak in 2001. It has been trying to work around this problem for a long time.

            https://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/pet_move_impcus_d_nus_NAR_mbblpd_a.htm
            https://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/pet_move_expc_dc_NUS-NAR_mbblpd_a.htm

            • Robert Firth says:

              Gail, you are a true citizen of the globalised world. The furthest commodity I purchase is my vodka from Latvia. Almost everything else is a truck ride or a ferry ride away. As tonight: lasagna from southern Italy, red wine similarly, and bread baked locally (4 minutes’ walk away) from local corn. Of course, electricity courtesy of the cable from Sicily, my real lifeline. If we are collapsing early, so far it feels good.

            • neil says:

              Gail, Argentina’s harvests are six months different from the usa’s.

            • But the US stores apples and grains. Seasons don’t matter much for beef. It is only pears that do not store well.

    • Lockdowns are a big part of the problem!

  26. Harry McGibbs says:

    “…for Turkey the currency crisis, the second in less than two years, combined with the pandemic, presents a heightened risk of economic collapse.

    “Economists are predicting a sharp downturn after the decline of the lira raised the specter of another round of soaring prices for imported goods like medicine and fuel. International investors are alarmed by the financial maneuvering and flood of cheap credit that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has used to prop up the lira and fuel economic growth.”

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/27/business/turkey-currency-crisis.html

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “Lebanon is in such a deep political and economic crisis the country risks collapsing altogether, France’s foreign minister said Thursday, ahead of the French president’s visit to the country next week.”

      https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/france-warns-lebanon-risks-collapse-explosion-crisis-72645823

      • Harry McGibbs says:

        “Israelis walking through central Tel Aviv were surprised Wednesday after protesters placed dozens of gravestones in Rabin Square outside the city hall representing business that had gone bankrupt during the coronavirus crisis.”

        https://worldisraelnews.com/gravestones-placed-in-central-tel-aviv-protest-economic-crisis/

        • People encouraging lockdowns forget the business deaths (and job loss) that result.

          • Artleads says:

            There is some lockdown where I live, and some BAU (particularly needed for food supply and other basics). It could be that the shutdowns are affecting less basic businesses, like those related to tourism. Maybe the lockdowns have a long way to go to work through the supply chain. But the equilibrium between lockdown and BAU is not too bad just now where I am.

          • Rodster says:

            “People encouraging lockdowns forget the business deaths (and job loss) that result.”

            That’s what the Elite always never admit. Madeline Halfbright once went on to excuse 500,000 Iraqi children dying saying it was worth it to her to implement the change she wanted.

            The bottom line is the Elite don’t give a sh*t about the little people. They are sitting at the top looking down at all the people suffering because it doesn’t affect them….Bastards !

            • Dan says:

              Yes ! Be interesting to see if we import Dr.s and lawyer’s to the states from around the world

            • Dennis L. says:

              Always a skeptic, I Googled the statement and if appears to be correct, the YouTube video could have been edited. I found this 2003 NYT piece.
              Go to wikipedia, it is an interesting read.

              Dennis L.

            • Lidia17 says:

              Dan, 1/3 of US doctors are already foreign-born.

            • Robert Firth says:

              Exactly. As one of the elite put it: “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche”. That is the next to last stage in the collapse of a dysfunctional polity. For the last stage, I refer you to Madame la Guillotine. Our elites still do not realise that when their project for global tyranny collapses, the reckoning will be terrible indeed. They shall say to the mountains, fall on us, and to the hills, cover us.

          • Minority Of One says:

            That is most govts in the industrialised world, except for Sweden, and a few others in Asia.

    • The flood of cheap credit doesn’t seem to be working for Turkey.

      • Dennis L. says:

        It would be interesting to see how that played out if instead of military adventures in Syria and Libya, those expenditures were directed at the supposed, large gas fields off Greece. Natural gas in large quantities could go a long way in strengthening the Turkish Lira.

        The curious might wonder what an outside influence needs to do to have a nation’s leader engage in what are somewhat vanity wars, someone, somewhere is making a buck.

        Dennis L.

  27. neil says:

    If the U.K. leaving the EU is not worth the disruption, how much more extreme would the problems be if Scotland were to leave the U.K.?
    Of course, they’ve got all that undiscovered oil off the west coast ( a bit like the undiscovered oil on my farm), and no country has ever rejected its chance of freedom, apart from Quebec (twice), their near neighbour Northern Ireland and themselves (twice).

    • Xabier says:

      ‘Freedom’ for Scotland within the EU- which is effectively, if not explicitly, an imperial structure – would be something to see…..

      • Robert Firth says:

        Xabier, Scotland has already left the EU. Under the rules, they would have to apply to rejoin, and the Brussels oligarchs will impose terms that are totally ruinous. At minimum, Scotland would have to give up her fish, her oil (if any) and any freedom to trade she might have.

        • Erdles says:

          Robert, it’s not Scotland’s oil or fish it’s the United Kingdoms. Before any negotiations with the EU Scotland would firstly have to negotiate a split with the remaining UK.

    • At today’s prices, oil is not worth trying to extract, in most cases. There is also a fairly long time line, in terms of getting all of the infrastructure in place, including drilling platforms, trained workers, refineries, and pipelines.

      • neil says:

        Of course it’s not. Any economic argument for Scottish independence expired about 1974.

        • Robert Firth says:

          That argument expired in 1707. The Act of Union saved Scotland from certain bankruptcy and probable civil war. The grandees of Edinburgh had run up unpayable debts, and were plotting to seize the property of the highlanders in order to fund them. The highlanders would most probably have resisted with force, and they had a lot of force at their disposal.

          So England bailed them out (not for the last time), and we have been hated for it ever since.

          • Minority Of One says:

            The anti-Scotland tone by the rule-Britannia brigade (why? what started this? It is not like there is any oil left. There isn’t.) using history going back 300+ years is … odd. Even if we are currently ruled by a shower of nutjobs.

            For the record, post-collapse, I will not care who you are, where you are from, how many honours you have received from HRH, you will not be getting any of my food. No point in begging.

            • Robert Firth says:

              What started this? Three hundred years of Scotland begging for money and repaying us with hate. Keep your food.

      • Dan says:

        What is the break even point for oil around the world? Fracking has always been a losing position hasn’t it?

        • It depends on what your effective tax rate is. Governments take something between a large share and a huge share of the selling price.

          Sometimes state governments (or a government such as Canada) will lower the tax rate, depending on the selling price.

          • DAn says:

            Well if it’s that simple than why can’t markets adjust to be pumping oil forever?

            • Governments, especially of oil exporters, desperately need the revenue that they get from oil producers. They cannot reduce tax rates much, or they will have to cut off services that citizens depend upon, such as subsidized food. They also subsidize jobs programs for citizens. If governments cut the citizens off, they will revolt. I am afraid this is on the way to happening in the Middle East. Venezuela is an example of an oil exporter that is not getting a high enough price to support the government. Saudi Arabia is headed this direction, too, I am afraid.

              Another example is Alaska. Without oil revenue, there is relatively little of interest in Alaska, except perhaps tourism. Alaska has historically collected enough taxes from oil companies that residents not only don’t have to pay any income taxes–they actually received a rebate each year, at least until recently. Oil companies supported the system in many other ways as well.

              Now, oil from existing wells is declining enough that the exported oil may have to be cut off, unless heaters are installed under pipelines to keep the oil liquid, as it is sent south across Alaska. This would be a high cost operation, in today’s low price environment. Finding some other oil to add to the existing oil might allow the system to keep going for a few more years. This would seem to be behind the recent decision to allow exploration in ANWR. Otherwise, Alaska can be written off as a “prior producer of oil.” Residents of Alaska will want to move to the mainland.

        • Minority Of One says:

          >> Venezuela is an example of an oil exporter that is not getting a high enough price to support the government.

          Venezuela’s biggest problem is how much oil it produces. In 2001, V was producing about 3.2 million barrels/ day, now about 0.6 Mb/d. Of course, nowadays it might not matter how much oil they produce. Venezuelan oil is expensive to produce and they might not be making any money from each barrel they pump (if indeed it is liquid oil, as opposed to heavy oil which is not really a liquid, and what they have lots of).

  28. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Germany extended another crisis tool to prevent corporate bankruptcies, a move that critics say will store up bigger problems later for Europe’s largest economy.

    “The longer suspension on insolvency filings has raised alarm bells that it’s masking a growing credit risk that could explode into a wave of bankruptcies when the moratorium ends.”

    https://finance.yahoo.com/news/german-economic-crisis-response-could-040000966.html

  29. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Germany has scrapped plans to discuss Brexit at a high-level diplomatic meeting next week because there has not been “any tangible progress” in talks, the Guardian has learned, as Brussels laments a “completely wasted” summer.

    “EU officials now believe the UK government is prepared to risk a no-deal exit when the transition period comes to an end on 31 December, and will try to pin the blame on Brussels if talks fail.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/aug/26/germany-scraps-plans-for-brexit-talks-at-eu-ambassadors-summit

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “The Irish Sea border means chaos looms, even with a Brexit deal.”

      https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/aug/24/irish-sea-border-chaos-brexit-northern-ireland

      • Harry McGibbs says:

        “A British private bank has written to its clients in France to say it will have to stop providing services if the UK and EU do not agree a banking arrangement before December 31.”

        https://www.connexionfrance.com/French-news/British-banks-may-stop-services-due-to-Brexit

      • Oh dear says:

        There is a simple solution to that – Irish unity. Polls suggest that most Brexit voters could not care less about whether NI remains in UK. It might matter to some of them but most of us never gave NI a thought once a year before Brexit.

        The border in Ireland is a nuisance to everyone, English and Irish alike. NI is a drain on English tax payers and, let us be honest, the sectarian statelet has been a complete disaster for everyone trapped in it, with decades of civil war.

        The best course forward is to implement the decision of the Brexit referendum in full – a full and proper Brexit. It would be a disaster for democracy in Britain if a majority mandate, the largest vote in British history, was overturned without implementation.

        Then the other countries in UK can decide what they want to do. If they want to leave UK, and even rejoin EU, then that is fine with us. It is completely up to them what they do with their countries. All we ask is that our referendum is respected and we will fully respect their own referenda.

        If ROI and NI decide to reunite then we wish them all the best and we offer them our national friendship as they go forward as a united country. It would certainly be the simplest and best solution for England going forward.

        • Malcopian says:

          Yes, this makes sense. Splitting certainly doesn’t mean that any of the constituent nations believes that autarky or isolation is possible. They’d just be taking a little more autonomy for their nations.

      • Robert Firth says:

        Ah yes, the Guardian. Of all the “Project Fear” players the most shamelessly mendacious. And, as usual, simply unable to recognise that their cause is lost. We are taking back our country, and not before time. Get over it.

      • Robert Firth says:

        There will be no “Irish Sea border”. Goods will travel freely between NI and the mainland. It is the EU that will create chaos, by forcing Souther Ireland to create their own border. Perhaps the Irish will then realise that they are subjects of a totalitarian dictatorship, and recover their own independence.

  30. Oh dear says:

    Polls continue to indicate that the British have increasingly had enough of the UK and want to break it up into independent countries. The tendency accelerated after the Brexit vote. Wales seemed to be the exception, which voted Leave along with England, but it too is now picking up.

    Support for Welsh independence has risen to 32% today, the highest ever level. Support for Scottish independence stands at 55% and English independence at 49%, while Irish unity has 70% support in ROI and 49% in NI.

    Particularly notable is 42% support among LP voters in Wales for independence, well above the national average. As in Scotland, LP is no bulwark against support for independence. In England, a majority of both LP and TP voters support English independence. Unionist parties cannot keep their own voters on board with the UK let alone anyone else.

    > New YouGov poll shows highest ever support for Welsh independence

    Almost a third of people in Wales said they would vote for independence if a referendum was held tomorrow

    Almost a third of people in Wales would vote for independence if a referendum was held tomorrow, a YouGov poll has found.

    Commissioned this month, the poll shows that 32% of voters would vote ‘yes’ in a referendum on independence for Wales – the highest figure ever recorded by YouGov.

    The last YouGov poll on Welsh independence was released in June and recorded a ‘yes’ vote of 25%, which itself was a record at the time.

    Over the course of two months, however, the number of people who would vote ‘yes’ in a referendum has gone up another seven points.

    Support for Welsh independence is highest amongst people aged 16-24, with 46% of people within this age bracket showing support for an independent Wales.

    The figure stands at 39% for 25-49 year-olds, 30% for 50-64 year-olds and 18% for people aged 65+.

    68% of people who voted Plaid Cymru in the 2019 General Election would vote ‘yes’ in a referendum, followed by 42% of Labour voters, 21% of Liberal Democrat voters and 11% of people who voted Conservative.

    Siôn Jobbins, chair of campaign group YesCymru, said: “Once again, this poll shows that around a third of the people of Wales who said they would vote would vote for independence if a referendum was held tomorrow. That’s a massive increase in support from just a few years ago.

    “It also shows that support for independence is now mainstream and cross-party, with 42% of those who voted for Labour in 2019 saying that they would vote for independence if a referendum was held tomorrow.

    https://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/new-yougov-poll-shows-highest-18832964

    • the nations of Britain, and Britain itself hark back to a time that never was, but which the dream used to be, fed by right wing nutters who make promises of what the future will be if only we vote for it

      Much like the USA really

      Cities exist in the UK that were created and supported by local resources that fed communities.

      Those resources have gone, yet they still fantasise that their existence can go on into infinity

      • Oh dear says:

        That is an interesting take. Obviously the distinct nations of Britain go back very many centuries. The wealth and population growth of Britain was based on the industrial revolution, coal, steam, finance and the British Empire. The growth of British cities was anything but local, it was national and global. 80% of food is now imported.

        There certainly is an argument for regional parliaments within England to give democratic control to regional populations. UK development has long been centred around London and SE, to get the optimum return on investment, and the regions have long been neglected.

        The ‘conventional wisdom’ of the British state is that it is ‘too late’ to do anything about that. 9 out of the 10 poorest regions in northern Europe lie in UK. UK has the greatest regional wealth disparity of any EU country, with the City of London the richest and others among the poorest in northern Europe.

        So there certainly is a case for devolution within England but the break up of UK into its countries is going to come first. Then we can look at more regional and local democratic control. There is nothing ‘right wing nutter’ about that. There is support for independence across the spectrum, which is why it is a realistic prospect.

        • neil says:

          Go on, Welsh and Scottish – vote for poverty. You know it makes sense.

        • ‘independence’ requires a prefix== ‘energy’

          no nation region or city is independent without energy independence

        • Xabier says:

          Regional ‘parliaments’ in the UK would only replicate the clumsy, expensive and very corrupt Spanish system of Autonomous Communities, which I am very familiar with.

          The calibre of the politicians and their advisors would be even worse than at the national level, in all probability.

          Dumb idea, no thanks.

          • Oh dear says:

            Yes ironic, most of the Spanish that I know have a very strong instinct for a centralised state, much more so than the British. The present Spanish constitution was a reaction to the Franco years.

            The devolved parliaments in UK are very popular with the locals. They were developed in much calmer times than post-Franco Spain.

            Anyway, it will ultimately be up to the peoples in the regions what they decide to do, not any central state power, and that is how it should be. Now that is a bright idea – democracy.

      • Xabier says:

        Yes, Norman, spot on.

        That’s the general problem that afflicts civilisation in general, and industrial civilisation in particular: the unthinking desire to persist in locations that are no longer at all viable, begging for politicians to ‘create jobs’ and somehow magically bring wealth back.

        • Oh dear says:

          UK has seen huge job creation over the last decade and employment rates are at record levels – unlike much of the EU. Unemployment rates are horrific in the south and west of Europe, especially among the young.

          UK problems lie in the concentration of development around London and the SE, regional disparities and a centralised state that is largely unaccountable to the regions.

          Scots and Welsh consistently do not vote TP and yet they keep getting it as the government anyway – that needs to end, for their own sake.

      • Kowalainen says:

        Dark Norman is the best Norman.

    • Robert Firth says:

      I would be a most ardent supporter of Scottish and Welsh independence: provided that also cut themselves off from England’s money.

      • Oh dear says:

        Yes, Scottish and Welsh independence amount to English independence – up the SNP! But it has to be genuine independence with no further financial dependence on England. Most of us Englanders would go for that.

        Westminster would never give Englanders a vote on independence, so the best thing that we can do is to support the independence movements in the other countries. Literally, go on their websites and make donations.

        • Malcopian says:

          ‘But it has to be genuine independence with no further financial dependence on England.’

          That would be very mean. We English could at least give Scotland a ten shilling postal order every year. The Scots are very frugal and would make it last.

          • neil says:

            They’re pretty clever – they’ve managed to convince the world that something that tastes like a mixture of diesel and toilet cleaner is a quality product

            • Malcopian says:

              Yes, I’m not sold on Scottishry – kilts and tartan and thistles and ‘the skirl of the bagpipes’ – homely kitsch, as I call it. Not to mention haggis and deep-fried Mars bars. Oirishry is even worse, though. Then there’s the Scottish weather, even drearier than the English, and all those dull sandstone houses. Yet the Scots manage to stay cheerful despite all that.

          • Xabier says:

            I recall my Scots Highlander friend from student days carefully counting out 5 and a 1/2 pence in penny pieces in paying his small debt to me for some purchase.

            I airily said ‘Don’t bother!’, but, very earnestly, he stated that ‘every penny counts’.

            Which, of course, it does. Good lesson.

            • Malcopian says:

              True. Pennies make pounds, and pounds make stones, and stones make walls, and Walls make ice cream. (And sausages).

          • Robert Firth says:

            Heartily agreed. I volunteer to give Scotland a ten shilling postal order every year for the next ten years. All I ask in return is one of Nicola Sturgeon’s toes for each order.

    • Malcopian says:

      Increasingly I read the sentence in newspapers, ‘Scottish independence now looks inevitable’. And then there are all these opinion polls. But opinion is fickle, as we know.

      It’s actually very difficult for a modern Western country to break up. Those who have achieved it suffered either communism or occupation by the Germans in their recent history (Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, USSR). But what is the Western experience? Look at Belgium, Quebec, Catalonia. For a while it looked likely in those places, but it never happened.

      Not that the breakup of the UK would worry me. I’m English, but there’ll always be an England, as the song goes. As Harold Wilson noted, though, a week is a long time in politics. Sentiments can change. Keir Starmer is enjoying a honeymoon period right now, though I don’t trust those beady eyes of his.

      But there is everything still to play for. The future is by no means settled. I do enjoy living in interesting times, though.

    • Unfortunately, no geographical area can really live on its own resources anymore, certainly not with today’s population. The “grass looks greener on the other side of the fence,” but it really is not. There are just different problems that new leaders can’t really solve.

      • Xabier says:

        Very true.

        Before the industrial and globalised age, one could establish a viable kingdom or republic by having a suitably productive peasantry, sufficient armed forces, a chain of fortresses, and the will and organisational capacity to fight off any threats.

        That simple age is long gone, but emotionally we haven’t caught up with reality of total inter-connectedness and dependency.

        • Oh dear says:

          Yep, and if Gail is right, those days will soon be coming back. I have been watching Merlin on Netflix and it is just like you describe. It looks quite quaint and pleasant – but then again, most of the scenes are set inside the castle.

          As you say, simpler times still appeal to us emotionally, the whole ‘romantic’ view of the past. We evolved for a lot longer under pre-industrial conditions and emotionally we are still somewhat adapted to the past.

          I was reading Nietzsche talking about this in BGE last night. He was very cynical about the ‘new Europeans’ and ‘we good Europeans’ as he put it. He saw it headed toward a tyranny over an excessively domesticated and tamed worker population – EU and neo-liberalism? It is the old Platonic ‘pessimism’ that democracy culminates in tyranny.

          One of the things that I like about Gail’s site, is that anything is possible – except a continuation of the present. It makes one think about moral and political philosophy, economics and the world in much less ‘normal’, constrained terms. There is an intellectual freedom to it.

          • Xabier says:

            There is an interesting article on the evolving disintegration of Columbia in The Guardian: various gangs and mafias trying to carve out their own mini-kingdoms – organised no longer on an idealogical basis, but just a raw struggle for power. Horrifying.

            • Oh dear says:

              Yes, I suspect that Nietzsche had a limited experience of that of which he wrote. Likely he was influenced by a ‘romanticism’ about the European Middle Ages. He was quite traditional, even reactionary in some ways.

              I read him talking about Mozart last night in BGE and he was a massive fan of Mozart over any of the following composers, who he went through one by one. Mozart was a culmination of centuries of European taste and he was full of ‘southern’ warmth, while the later composers expressed the turmoil and uncertainty of their times. He was well down on his old mate Wagner. Likely he would have seen modernist music as a complete collapse of taste that reflected capitalist social disintegration.

              It would be an mistake to assume that a naked ‘will to power’ would necessarily lead to the heights of culture of aristocratic Europe. It is just as likely to end up like Columbia.

              > The “good old days” are over – they sang themselves out in Mozart. How lucky for us that his Rococo still speaks to us, that his “good company,” his tender enthusiasms, his childish pleasure in Chinoiserie and fancy flourishes, his courtesy of the heart, his longing for the delicate and the amorous, for dancing and tearful moments of bliss, his faith in the south, might still appeal to some vestige in us! Oh, some day all this will be gone! – but who can doubt that the understanding and taste for Beethoven will be gone even sooner! – although he was only the finale of a transitional style and stylistic discontinuity and not, like Mozart, the finale of a centuries-old, great European taste. Beethoven falls somewhere between a brittle old soul that is constantly coming apart and an overly young, future-oriented soul that is constantly on its way. A dusk of eternal loss and eternal, wild hope lies over his music – the same light that lay across Europe when it dreamed with Rousseau, danced around the freedom tree of the Revolution and ended up practically worshipping Napoleon. – BGE 245

            • covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

              “Yes, I suspect that Nietzsche had a limited experience of that of which he wrote.”

              he also had a limited experience of Mozart and all the romantic composers who followed, certainly compared to our times where almost the entire history of music is on the internet.

              the younger Beethoven greatly admired Mozart, and perhaps if he had not died at age 35 in 1791, he might have dueled Beethoven into his 70s for superior composition.

              the earlier composer, Mozart, wrote in too regular of a style (for my tastes), a nice pleasant style that still appeals to millions of people.

              Beethoven had the big advantage of being later, and he opened up the emotion and power of early romantic composition.

              Mozart would have been much more amazing (to my tastes again) if he had followed Beethoven.

              But history only happens once.

            • Oh dear says:

              Nietzsche would have spent his entire life immersed in romantic music as a living tradition, so it seems hard to say that we have a better understanding of it because we have YT to look at.

              “emotion and power”

              No offence but I would guess that Nietzsche had a much better understanding of musical composition and appreciation than you, judging by his writings on the matter, not to mention his close personal friendship with Wagner. Correct me if I am wrong.

              Personally I have always adored Beethoven as practically a god of composition. I agree with Nietzsche that he was a ‘finale’, a master whose heights no one following got even close to. For me, romanticism peaked at its start with Beethoven and Schubert.

              That has always been the common understanding, but Classic FM constantly gets out the romantic library for its popular appeal on the car radio. It was bourgeois and popular in its day. I love romantic music but there is something of the artificial and sugary about much of it. Who can listen to Chopin’s nocturnes more than once a decade?

              There are many early, transitional composers who definitely are worth a listen though. The late romantics transitional with modernism are also interesting, like Reger. Who these days does not need a touch of modernism for relief now and then?

              I never considered either Brahms or Lizst to be worth listening to, though I have forced myself over the last year and it was not entirely without reward. Wagner and Bruckner were the last real greats in my opinion and Bruckner only for his symphonies.

              The entire romantic movement in culture expresses a wistful unhappiness with the direction of European civilisation under capitalism and it culminated in the fin de cycle and the collapse of aesthetics into modernism. The Viennese classicists will always represent a pinnacle of confident accomplishment across centuries – and yes, that includes Beethoven – no hint of disrespect from me to him.

              Btw. to be fair to Nietzsche, he did emphasise that the outcome of WTP would depend on the sort of souls involved and he never would have expected much from a gangster rabble. I did him a massive injustice that I retract. There has been quite enough easy disrespect for one day and the idea that I understand WTP better than him was laughably arrogant.

            • covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

              thanks for the thoughtful reply.

              “The Viennese classicists will always represent a pinnacle of confident accomplishment across centuries – and yes, that includes Beethoven…”

              it’s no surprise that there is disssagreement on the subjective appeal of music.

              I don’t see the artificial timeline with “pinnacles” etc though.

              the romantics built on everything that came before.

              the 19th century contains many more of the great musical triumphs than the seeds of the 18th century.

              Beethoven and Berlioz thru Tchaikovsky and Wagner and Mahler.

              but I do see the appeal of the easy listening safe nice 18th century classical.

              to be clear, I was meaning that Nietzsche probably would have thought differently about the romantics if he had heard virtually everything of significance from the 19th century, as we can now.

              all opinion and all subjective.

            • Oh dear says:

              “Tchaikovsky”

              Yes, I regretted not mentioning him, Rossini too. My listening repertoire is broader than I let on. I make a point of listening to all of the Western tradition of art music, from chant to the latest modernism. I spent the lock down doing just that. The Notre Dame and Franco-Flemish schools stand out in the early Renaissance period. All of it really. But I could not stand by and let Mozart be dissed.

              “the 18th century contains many more of the great musical triumphs than the withered, scented potpourri of the 19th century.”

              “but I do see the appeal of the easy listening safe nice 19th century romanticism.”

              FTFY

              Let us call a truce, I am not as partisan as I am making out and I apologise if I spoke harshly to you. It is actually quite amusing when music gets combative.

            • covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

              you are quite diplomatic so thank you.

              one more thought: in these dark days of 2020, the Mozart style of music has an additional appeal as a soothing balm, as I’m sure it was to those who lived in the harsher conditions of the 18th century.

              I occasionally listen to Classical Radio, and the softer and sunnier pieces have stood out to me as appropriate for a listening audience enduring much stress.

            • Oh dear says:

              Btw. I listen to a lot more Haydn than Mozart. Likely his unsurpassed string quartets would appeal to you, they are as experimental as anything in the 19 c. but without the saccharine and the failure of form. Mozart and Schubert have always been seen as young man’s composers and Haydn that of a mature man. Women tend to go for the romanticism. : )

        • Kowalainen says:

          Don’t worry, techno-feudalism will be the norm. Once we get through this little fracas.

    • Xabier says:

      Highest support for nationalism among the worst-educated and least-experienced section of the population – no surprise!

      The nationalists promise them miracles – as everywhere – and they swallow it.

      In a few years time they will be lucky to have full stomachs, whatever flag is waving over their heads.

      • Oh dear says:

        Funny, that is what they said about Brexit voters and they still won, and now they practically control the UK government. Insulting vast swathes of the population does not tend to help a cause.

      • Minority Of One says:

        Once the fossil fuels have gone, some time this century, in the UK sooner rather than later, the population I should imagine will drop to less than 1% of its current level. No-one knows how to live in a world with no fossil fuels and the couch potatoes will just keel over (almost everyone) from hunger and disease.

        Talk of Scotland / England / independence in the future then becomes pointless. We are all headed for the same place.

  31. covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

    https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2020/08/26/investor-safety-driving-hundreds-of-thousands-of-people-from-u-s-cities-to-suburbs/

    “There’s hundreds of thousands of people looking for suburban homes, and I would say it’s not as driven by the Covid situation as it is safety and law and order, and that is now pervasive across the big cities of the United States, sadly,” Sternlicht told CBNC’s Squawk Box.

    • Robert Firth says:

      “First the Dominant Minority attempts to hold by force—against all right and reason—a position of inherited privilege which it has ceased to merit; and then the Proletariat repays injustice with resentment, fear with hate, and violence with violence when it executes its acts of secession. Yet the whole movement ends in positive acts of creation—and this on the part of all the actors in the tragedy of disintegration. The Dominant Minority creates a universal state, the Internal Proletariat a universal church, and the External Proletariat a bevy of barbarian war-bands.”

      Arnold Toynbee, of course. Sound familiar?

    • I expect a second wave of selling will come from people being laid off from jobs and being forced to find cheaper accommodations, such as moving in with relatives. I am starting to see a little of that now in my neighborhood. When this gets going, it seems like it will cause even suburban property prices to fall. Perhaps small town and rural prices will hold their own.

    • Robert Firth says:

      三十六計走為上策 Avoid trouble by flight. (The Chinese talks of thirty six strategies; an allusion to Sun Tzu)

  32. covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

    https://confoundedinterest.net/2020/08/26/fed-seen-holding-rates-at-zero-for-five-years-in-new-policy-jackalope-jay-powell-will-comment-shortly/

    “I wouldn’t be surprised if interest rates are still zero five years from now,” said Jason Furman, a former chief White House economist and now Harvard University professor.

    near zero rates are the only option.

    • Kowalainen says:

      Zero rates, negative rates, COVID-19, COMET-21, in that order.

      *Looking at the skies, longing for the final rain*

      Wanna bet against me? 😉

  33. covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

    https://www.oann.com/white-house-says-trump-could-act-unilaterally-to-avoid-u-s-airline-layoffs/

    “President Donald Trump is weighing executive action to avoid massive layoffs at U.S. airlines if Congress fails to agree a fresh coronavirus stimulus package, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said on Wednesday.”

    which would be useless action that would not “avoid” massive layoffs, just delay them.

    Trump is no conservative in this quasi socialist-lite handout proposal.

    this of course would be the second handout in 2020 for airlines. Perhaps the lesson will be learned before a third handout.

  34. Herbie Ficklestein says:

    What will collapse first!?

    The Guardian
    Unless we change course, the US agricultural system could collapse
    Tom Philpott
    August 26, 2020, 6:15 AM EDT
    California’s agricultural sector has flourished from decades of easy access to water in one of the globe’s biggest swaths of Mediterranean climate. The Sierra Nevada, the spine of mountains that runs along California’s eastern flank, captures an annual cache of snow that, when it melts, cascades into a network of government-built dams, canals and aqueducts that deliver irrigation water to farmers in the adjoining Central Valley. In light-snow years, farmers could tap aquifers that had built up over millennia to offset the shortfall.

    But the Sierra snowpack has shown an overall declining trend for decades – most dramatically during the great California drought of 2012-2016 – and it will dwindle further over the next several decades as the climate warms, a growing body of research suggests. A 2018 paper by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researchers articulates the alarming consensus: a “future of consistent low-to-no snowpack” for the Sierra Nevada, the irrigation jewel of our vegetable patch.

    Related: Is the way cattle are grazed the key to saving America’s threatened prairies?

    Even as snowmelt gushing from the mountains dwindles, the Central Valley farming behemoth gets ever more ravenous for irrigation water, switching from annual crops that can be fallowed in dry years to almond and pistachio groves, which require huge upfront investments and need to be watered every year. As a result, farm operations are increasingly resorting to tapping the water beneath them. Between 2002 and 2017, a period including two massive droughts, farmers siphoned enough water from the valley’s aquifers to fill Louisiana’s Lake Pontchartrain three times.

    As the water vanishes, the ground settles and sinks in uneven and unpredictable ways, a phenomenon known as subsidence. By 2017, large sections of the Central Valley were sinking by as much as 2ft a year. In addition to damaging roads, bridges, houses, sewage pipes and pretty much all built infrastructure, subsidence snarls up the canals that carry snowmelt from the Sierra Nevada. Thus we have a vicious circle: reduced snowmelt means less water flowing through government-run irrigation channels, which pushes farmers to pump more water from underground, causing more subsidence that damages those channels and reduces their flow capacity, pushing farmers to accelerate the cycle by pumping more water from underground

    I’ve been reading this for decades Lester Browns State of the World series has been warning this every issue..yawn

    • Florida seems to have water problems also. This is one article I found:

      Florida’s aquifer is in crisis — but there’s still time to save it

      This depletion of groundwater is a problem throughout the state, with both southern and northern Florida experiencing shortages and environmental effects, according to The Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Many of Florida’s biodiverse ecosystems are dependent on freshwater to be clean of pollutants and at a certain water level to function. . .As the water drains out of the aquifer and the Everglades, saltwater begins to intrude into freshwater reserves.

      Crowl was not ready to make any predictions without continued monitoring in the future, but he did say “we are getting higher and higher concentrations in more and more of our wells where we measure saltwater intrusion. Watching the rate that’s happening is a little bit scary.”

      • Herbie Ficklestein says:

        Gail, this is a silent crisis here in South Florida that rarely is reported on here by the local media. The aquifer IS being reported came salt water IS contaminating the water supply on the coast People love their lawns, pools and flush toilets. Actually, recently channel 10 here has reported massive fish kills in Miami Bay due to run off of fertilizer from lawns .
        Lots of environmental degradation from overshoot. Just need a good clean out from nature…hurricane should do the trick..
        PS Florida is a BIG state with lots of freshwater lakes and stream’s, some parts care still unaffected

    • Robert Firth says:

      Yes; I noticed this some 15 years ago. As well as relying on fossil fuel, US agriculture relies mostly on fossil water. This is of course unsustainable, but (again) nobody seems to care.

      • In theory, it is possible to use desalination of sea water, pump the water to where it is needed, and add back the missing minerals. In practice, this isn’t really done. Israel is trying it without adding back the missing minerals, with adverse impacts on heart disease. The cost tends to be high.

        https://www.timesofisrael.com/major-study-suggests-desalinated-water-raising-risk-of-heart-disease/

        • Robert Firth says:

          Gail, Singapore did the same thing: took water from Malaya, purified it, and distributed it. The purification process removed all the trace elements, which made the water rather unhealthy. My morning cocktail was 50% grapefruit juice (rich in potassium) and 50% mineral water (rich in magnesium), and it served me well. Until after heart surgery, and two days recovering with wretchedly bad meals, my latest blood test showed me deficient in, guess what, potassium and magnesium. Sigh.

  35. Tango Oscar says:

    Who’s watching the Federal Reserve announcement tomorrow? I hear rumors they will say they aren’t raising rates for 5 years or that they’re going to somehow let inflation run hot. I can’t wait to see what scheme they’ve devised this time or if they’re going to be even remotely truthful about the situation that we’ve backed ourselves into. Obviously subjects like the next hyper QE package, a digital dollar and UBI in some form could all be on the table. In previous speeches Powell has told congress pretty directly that they need to be super heavy on the stimulus and bailouts or this isn’t going to work. They have failed to do that so now it’s Powell’s move.

    • It looks like Powell’s speech is at 8:10 CDT. That is 9:10 EDT. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell to deliver a speech entitled “Monetary Policy Framework Review” at the 44th annual Economic Policy Symposium – “Navigating the Decade Ahead:Implications for Monetary Policy”.

      London time, that would be 14:10 (2:10 pm)

  36. Azure Kingfisher says:

    From, “Can Contact Tracing Work At COVID Scale?”

    “Identifying contacts of new cases by itself doesn’t slow down the disease; those contacts must also take a transmission-busting action. For COVID-19, that action is an immediate self-quarantine lasting 14 days from exposure. This applies to all contacts—even those with no symptoms or a negative test. Most of these contacts won’t go on to get COVID-19 by the end of that period. These are regular people who will be asked to put their lives on hold for two weeks for the public good. That means staying home from work (and possibly losing income as a result), arranging for groceries and other necessities, and delegating childcare responsibilities. It is not an easy ask, especially for those in socioeconomically challenging situations.

    The US is currently reporting upwards of 20,000 new COVID-19 cases per day, and each case can average more than 30 identifiable close contacts. If these numbers hold, successful contact tracing could mean that, every day, hundreds of thousands of people would be asked to enter voluntary 14-day quarantines. If this is the case, the number of people under rolling quarantine on any given day in the US could easily run into the millions. In a country where quarantines are voluntary, the sheer number of people under quarantine combined with the onerous length of the quarantine period may encourage many to simply disregard quarantine recommendations, undermining contact tracing efforts.

    The United States is embarking on a monumental operational endeavor—creating, within a few short months, a nationwide contact tracing operation employing tens of thousands of people to chase the novel coronavirus and stop its spread. As we build out the tracing infrastructure to reach and guide individuals exposed to COVID-19, we must also remember to build the data infrastructure to learn from them.”

    https://www.healthaffairs.org/do/10.1377/hblog20200630.746159/full/

    This is disappointing. They’re creating an entire industry out of the scamdemic – apps, jobs, infrastructure, etc. Once all of this is in place there will be little chance of removing it. 9/11 brought us the Department of Homeland Security. COVID-19 is bringing us this.

    • Dan says:

      What do you think the U.s military is? It’s a jobs program nothing more. You could easily cut 70 percent of people. Wars in the future don’t need as many humans…

      • The US military, besides being a jobs creation program, is also a way to assert the US’s place in the world order, so that the dollar can remain high, and the US can continue to borrow money and do all of its financial manipulations. The US can continue to import more than it exports.

        • Tango Oscar says:

          Military has plenty of “good” or useful purpose behind it and is also responsible for a lot of research and development that goes on as far as medical procedures, satellites, aircraft advancements, and various technological developments. Think companies like Raytheon, Boeing, GE, Exxon, Garmin, and Halliburton as being huge beneficiaries of government and military advancements. Who do you think backs the US oil consumption up to the degree that it is? US Dollar world reserve currency and the military. Petro oil dollar dynasty via the military industrial complex about sums it up.

        • Dan says:

          Maybe so but we could still accomplish that with a lot, lot, lot less humans..
          Unless we do the carthagenianian solution….

      • Azure Kingfisher says:

        That’s because the battlefield has changed. I remember when we used to “support the troops.” Now we “clap for healthcare workers.”

        The scriptwriters are replacing one villain (the terrorist) with another (the virus).

        We’ll have a new jobs program; and with it will come the normalization of rolling quarantines, increasing surveillance and the further erosion of privacy – among other restrictions belonging to the “new normal.”

        • Artleads says:

          Quite. For somebody to volunteer for testing they must have rocks in their head.

        • Dan says:

          Really? How much did we spend in Iraq and Afghanistan? My family has fought in every war this country has had…while the rich trust funders like George Bush and Donald Trump hide behind like cowards. My dad came back from Vietnam and no one gave a damn! Now its B.S patriotism or a marketing scheme…no different than the liberals and their Green washing! We should be sending people like yourself to the front lines…..so you can see it for yourself……I saw a lot of friends dads with missing limbs and craters in their back made by exit wounds as the bullets tore out of their bodies…the Vietnamese would manipulate their bullets so they would cause much more damage…There is a thing called mal investment and that’s what war is a misallocation of resources….unless you are talking about defending your country or killing all the people in another country and taking all their resources

      • Bei Dawei says:

        In a war, every soldier in combat probably has to be supported by about ten in the supply line and management. It’s worse for the navy and air force. Can automation reduce this? Maybe, but an easier way would be to fill non-combat positions with people who are unsuited for combat anyway–the old, handicapped, etc.

        • Dan says:

          Look we are not in 1940!??? Obviously you have not seen the Bombs we have these days. You could wipe out 1000 men at the blink of an eye

          • Robert Firth says:

            Which is why potential enemies of the US have been developing asymmetric warfare for the past fifty years. And doing very well, it would seem.

          • Kowalainen says:

            1000’s? Rather 10’s of millions. Thermonuclear devices.
            War is stupid. But indeed a great pastime for a rapacious monkey.

    • I agree this is crazy. I suppose this tracking program is primarily a jobs creation program for the many out of work.

      We don’t pay the people who are identified as having COVID for self-quarantining, so what can we expect? If they feel well, they will go about their regular lives, regardless of what we try to tell people to do.

    • Jean Wilson says:

      Its about control, not health. COVID stands for “Certificate of Vaccination I.D.”. Its so obvious.

      • Azure Kingfisher says:

        When the scamdemic was starting I came across a phonetic interpretation:

        See Ovid One Nine

        “Of things at strife among themselves for want of order due.” – Ovid, Metamorphoses, Book 1, Line 9

  37. Ed says:

    CV19 seems more like Easter Island, a cult, rather than a reason.

    • Duncan Idaho says:

      Actually, CV19 could care less what you or I think.
      Simply a virus replicating.
      Viruses are not alive.

      • Perhaps the term should be “able to replicate” rather than “alive.”

        • Robert Firth says:

          Viruses need a host in order to replicate, because they take over some of the host’s replication machinery. They are the zombies of the micro world. Rather like certain companies that need to infect deluded investors in order to grow, rather than growing from their own profits. The US shale oil industry, for instance, was a classic zombie pandemic.

          • Right, but some little pieces of viruses are not sufficiently complete to be able to replicate, even if a host were available. We don’t really know.

        • Kowalainen says:

          “Perhaps the term should be “able to replicate” rather than “alive.”

          Like, dunno, life? 🙂

      • Kowalainen says:

        I call BS. Viruses is as much alive and any other organism dependent on the processes of Gaia, the planets and star.

        The only thing that ever will be truly independent of an earthly ecosystem will be completely synthetic and self-sufficiently creating its own ecosystem in the absolute vacuum of space.

        • info says:

          Viruses are robots.

          • Lidia17 says:

            Humans are robots.

            • Robert Firth says:

              A topic explored in a charming children’s show called “Annedroids”. There is also an android in the Logan’s Run series, but his abilities seem rather limited.

              And I was going to add a brilliant and irrefutable defence of human free will, but decided not to.

            • Kowalainen says:

              Ah, yes, the comforting illusion of free will. 😉

      • Mike Roberts says:

        If “CV19 could care less” then it must be alive, otherwise it couldn’t care less.

  38. Herbie R Ficklestein says:

    Vote with your feet and make sure you have somewhere to run to after you dress up.
    https://qz.com/africa/1895878/nigerias-wealthy-use-henley-in-caribbean-passports-for-cash-plan/
    Wealthy Nigerians are buying up passports for cash from Caribbean nations to beat visa rules
    That sharp rise reflects spiking demand among Nigeria’s wealthy private citizens who are increasingly tapping into “investment migration” opportunities from countries. The programs allow foreign nationals obtain fast-tracked citizenship and passports or permanent residency permits in exchange for specified amounts of cash investments. The payment for the passports can come in form of direct “contributions” to the development funds set up by the national governments or through investment in real estate projects which offer the promise of not just passports but also possible profits.
    With around 40,000 passports believed to have been issued through investment migration programs globally, citizenship by investment is now estimated to be a $3 billion industry. It is often favored by high-net worth individuals from countries with “weak” passports often from countries in sub-Saharan Africa and some Middle Eastern countries.

    Yes, A couple of websites advise doing just this as being prepared for a quick getaway.
    George Gammon on his site spoke of this and FerFal as he is known from Surviving Argentina also recommends having more than one Passport0Visa
    Suppose we shall see more of this as conditions deteriorate and people of means look elsewhere for a better nest
    I have a Passport, doubt I’ll seek another way out at my age, let the young folks deal with all the drama and commotions coming at us. See all the Civil unrest as prelude to what’s coming as the new normal.

    • Bei Dawei says:

      There are five Caribbean countries involved. The cheapest (if you’re single) is Dominica at about 100,000 USD. (NB: This is a different country than the Dominican Republic, which is not involved in CBI / CIP.) You have to pass a background check, and they can take the citizenship away later if you go and commit crimes somewhere (or are alleged to have done so). The other four are St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, and Grenada. If you have a family and you all want passports, then one of the other programs may be a better deal, but this changes from time to time so go check. In general you can either donate 100-200 thousand USD outright, or “invest” in government-approved real estate for several times that. You might lose less money by just giving them the money. There can be lots of smaller fees, too. The background check could cost tens of thousands of USD, for example.

      Vanuatu in the Pacific also offers a deal like this, but gets mixed reviews, and there have been some problems with it.

      All of these countries are what Andrew Henderson calls “Tier B” passports. (Tier A gets you access to the USA, Tier B to the Schengen countries–if you also get the UK that would be a B+–and Tier C is everything else.) I can well imagine some of the OECD countries deciding not to admit passport-holders from these countries who have naturalized, both because of terrorism concerns (the background checks haven’t always prevented mafia types from buying passports) and the issue of tax avoidance. In fact, people who buy these passports are already sometimes grilled by customs people in some countries. (“Did you buy this passport? What’s your connection to Dominica?”

      • Bei Dawei says:

        PS, If you’re willing to spend several million USD, then Malta and Cyprus have programs that will fast-track you into an EU citizenship. This comes with tax obligations, so you might want to think about whether this is really what you want. (In fact you should probably do that with any of these citizenships, whose tax policies vary somewhat.)

        Most of the customers for these things are Chinese and Russian citizens. Middle Easterners may be attracted to Turkish citizenship, which requires a 250,000 USD property investment, or a larger bank deposit. (Turkey’s passport is not great, but the country itself has more possibilities than many of these others.) Jordan and Egypt also offer CBI programs that nobody thinks are a good deal.

        Don’t confuse citizenship by investment with “Golden Visa” programs like Portugal’s or Greece’s. These can lead to citizenship a number of years later, but it’s not guaranteed–there are residency requirements, and you’ll have to learn the language. In Greece, people report that the bureaucracy has been refusing to naturalize people. On the other hand, residency without necessarily getting citizenship might be what a lot of people are really seeking, so don’t confuse the two.

        For most people, I recommend going the “normal” route of living in their chosen country for however long it takes (five to ten years, typically–less if you marry a citizen), learning the language, having a job, and staying out of jail. Keep in mind that a number of countries–for example, Germany and Japan–ban dual nationality. (They make exceptions, but probably won’t for you.)

        • Herbie Ficklestein says:

          Thanks for the review…very helpful😳
          My Sister has dual citizenship with Canada…..born in Toronto…
          But at our age….staying put

  39. Tim Groves says:

    Great to see the Irish are waking up.

    Honestly, it gladdens the heart to see ordinary people demonstrating peacefully in their thousands to call for a change in the murderous COVID-19 policy, an end to the lockdowns, and the use of proven preventive strategies against this nasty virus.

    To Dr. Delores you will listen!

    https://youtu.be/n0bDKsMaBcs

    • neil says:

      Whether you agree with these folk or not, I was amazed to see how many were there and how little mention there was of it in the papers. It was all drowned out by some silly twitter spat between failed pop stars about the wisdom of wearing a mask, and a scandal about politicians crossing the country against the rules to enjoy a nice dinner together.

    • Dennis L. says:

      As a US citizen living in a prosperous town I see a large gathering of people who look healthy, are not obviously over weight being addressed by someone not yelling in rage(I did not watch the entire segment). They are dressed decently, cleanly and neatly.

      Whether I shop at a local Sam’s or a local supermarket, it seems more than half the people are grossly overweight and shuffle along. We have become at first glance a very unhealthy society, we yell at each other and when that doesn’t work smash things and burn down our surroundings. It is not healthy mentally nor physically.

      Best wishes to us all,

      Dennis L.

      • I think that the US has far more overweight people as a percentage of the population than Ireland. This has to do with our big serving sizes, lack of exercise, and heavy use of processed food.

        I also expect that the people who show up for the rally are somewhat younger and healthier than average. If there are overweight older people with other comorbidities, I expect that they will stay at home. Too much walking! Too much fear of catching COVID-19.

  40. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Having rushed to engineer a massive policy response to the initial virus shock which briefly threatened to unleash a financial crisis, the world’s leading central banks face the next economic phase of the pandemic with a dwindling arsenal of monetary weapons and rising frustration that some key drivers of the recovery — both health and fiscal — are beyond their control…

    ““The Fed is running up against the long-term issue that when things are bad they are pushing on a string with monetary policy,” said Adam Posen, president of the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington.

    ““You can alleviate liquidity problems, you can put a floor under some asset prices, you can stabilise credit markets, all of which is constructive but none of which is sufficient to create recovery,” Mr Posen added.”

    https://www.ft.com/content/269eec67-1145-41b8-b97c-f43b293017fd

    • Robert Firth says:

      Why do I find it greatly encouraging that the key drivers of (recovery) are beyond the control of the world’s leading central banks? Perhaps because these banks have put themselves first, the industrial oligarchs second, and the ordinary people dead last. ÉCRASEZ L’INFÂME!

      • Malcopian says:

        Hmm, so you’re not a Teuton, Robert. But did you study French and German for your degree?

        • Robert Firth says:

          As a schoolboy in the old days I had Latin and Greek beaten into me with a bamboo cane. Never regretted it. We also learned conversational French, but my philosophy teacher persuaded me to upgrade to Descartes. At university there was a compulsory course in scientific German, and you had to pass the exam to graduate. Then I discovered opera, and moved on to literary German, and from there to Goethe, Schiller, and Heine.

          A little Italian as a tourist; I’m using it more here in Malta where many of the shopkeepers are Italian. And for some bizarre reason I took some time to learn Egyptian; I can still read much of the hieroglyphic script. That’s about it. The Hausa and Arabic I picked up as a teenager in Africa have pretty much been forgotten.

          • Malcopian says:

            Wow. 🙁 Too much. I hope you still found time to read The Beano and The Eagle, burst bubble-wrap, eat an Aztec bar, stroke a sausage dog and buy a bubble car. Or even go youth-hostelling in the Amazon jungle. 😉

          • Kowalainen says:

            Robert is such an embodiment of the western intellectual.
            I wish there was some more eastern Zen and the Tao here to balance it out.

            🙂

  41. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Global trade flows collapsed in the spring, marking the largest fall in two decades, as coronavirus lockdowns disrupted air and sea transport and dealt a blow to the demand for many consumer and investment goods…

    “Global trade had weakened before the crisis, hobbled by trade tensions and fresh tariffs. Coming on top of those disruptions, the pandemic has raised fresh questions about the resilience of supply chains that stretch across the globe and drive a third of world trade.”

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/covid-crisis-drives-historic-drop-in-global-trade-11598368752

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said on Wednesday that its 37 mainly wealthy member states had suffered an unprecedented 9.8% economic shrinkage in the second quarter of 2020…

      “Britain suffered the worst GDP fall, at 20.4%.”

      https://www.dailysabah.com/business/economy/oecd-member-states-take-98-hit-to-gdp-in-2nd-quarter

      • Dreadful results for every country mentioned. Forecast for end of year assumes “no second wave.” Except, isn’t it the case that many of the countries that thought they had defeated COVID-19 are experiencing a second wave? (In the US, this is really mostly a continuation of the first wave.)

        • Harry McGibbs says:

          “UK Sheep farmers are now resorting to burning wool after a huge price crash during the coronavirus pandemic has rendered it basically worthless.”

          https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8666737/Sheep-farmers-resort-BURNING-wool-Covid-causes-price-plummet.html

          • Robert Firth says:

            Why don’t they card the wool, spin it, weave it, and wear it? Just as it used to be, two hundred years go. Collapse early, and be ahead of the game.

            Und drinnen waltet
            Die züchtige Hausfrau,

            Und reget ohn’ Ende
            Die fleißigen Hände,
            Und mehrt den Gewinn
            Mit ordnendem Sinn,
            Und füllet mit Schätzen die duftenden Laden,
            Und dreht um die schnurrende Spindel den Faden,
            Und sammelt im reinlich geglätteten Schrein
            Die schimmernde Wolle, den schneeigten Lein,
            Und füget zum Guten den Glanz und den Schimmer
            Und ruhet nimmer.

            Friedrich von Schiller, of course, and the greatest didactic poem in the German tongue

            • Bei Dawei says:

              I knew somebody who stuffed dog hair into his shoes in place of socks, since his wife refused to wash his. Maybe that’s deserving of a poem?

          • This is the “prices too low” problem all over again!

            • Kowalainen says:

              The knife edge of overspecialization strikes deep at the core of IC.
              Either it is full bore, maximum profits or total and utter economic disaster.

              But, hey, let the finance racket run the world was such a good idea.

  42. Harry McGibbs says:

    “American Airlines has said it will cut 19,000 jobs in October… Earlier this summer, United Airlines said that it could furlough as many as 36,000 employees in the fall. And, on Monday, Delta Air Lines warned that it might have to furlough as many as 1,941 pilots in October, even after nearly as many had accepted buyouts.

    “While weak demand is spurring these announcements, the airlines are also seeking to put pressure on Congress and the Trump administration to strike a deal on another coronavirus stimulus package.”

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/25/business/american-airline-furlough-19000.html

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “Qantas will shed thousands of extra staff and even begin selling luxury pyjamas as the airline seeks to cut the costs needed to survive a longer than expected disruption to air travel owing to Covid-19…

      “The measures are in addition to 6,000 redundancies and 20,000 staff already put on furlough, announced by Qantas in June.”

      https://www.ft.com/content/fdcde4f1-5d1a-4614-a731-ade7fdb69fc3

    • Robert Firth says:

      You know, my small buggy whip, oil lamp, and corset making business is also doing poorly. Perhaps the Fed can spare a billion or two?

      Or perhaps they could spend $15 at Amazon on “Prophet of Innovation”, a discussion of Schumpeter’s “creative destruction”, and learn why bailing out dying industries is a thoroughly bad idea.

      • Malcopian says:

        ‘ Schumpeter’s “creative destruction” ‘

        Even during the Great Depression, innovation never stopped. Though in the 1940s, the Phewrer apparently needed some persuading that a plane could fly without a propeller!

        I think we can still expect a few decent technological breakthroughs by the year 2030. Which future-facing companies or products do you think would be worth investing in to help us through the coming depression?

        • them technological breakthroughs!!!!!!!

          can never get enough technological breakthroughs.

          debatable perhaps—but has there ever been a technological breakthough??

          Every one that I can think of (and I’m open to correction here) has been an incremental step on the back of something else

          the only technological breakthrough that i can recall. was Aladdin rubbing his lamp. We could do with one wish coming true right now—let alone three.

          In the meantime I’m putting my faith in computer graphics–they never let you down

          • Malcopian says:

            ‘Every one that I can think of (and I’m open to correction here) has been an incremental step on the back of something else’

            You have a point there. For me, the internet was THE marvel of the 20th century and still is now, but of course it depended on a lot of other technology before it could take off. I guess you’re not much into technology. And Gail prefers physical exercise, so I expect she doesn’t even own a dishwasher. She probably captured a sasquatch and trained it to wash the dishes.

            • she doesn’t need to catch a sasquatch

              a whole tribe of them are regulars on OFW

              (you know who you are)

            • Malcopian says:

              ‘a whole tribe of them are regulars on OFW’

              One of them’s gone AWOL, though. Or maybe she’s slaughtered it and cooked it, to save money on groceries.

            • Kowalainen says:

              Not really, the discovery of electricity was and is the foremost largest leap for mankind, closely followed by the steam engine. The rest follows.

        • Robert Firth says:

          Malcopian, I need to think really hard about that one. But you have two suggestions that do not seem wholly congruent: innovation and investment. Time perhaps for one example of each:

          The steam engine (“aolipile”) was a true innovation; nobody at that time believed one could harness just fire and water to create the fastest moving machine in the world. But it would have been a terrible investment, because only one was ever built.

          On the other hand, a caravanserai on the Silk Road required no innovation, but was a hugely profitable investment. One such grew into a city, Trebizond, that became world famous. Indeed, even today when we speak of “cash on the table”, we are alluding to the Greek name of that city (“Trapeza”).

          • Malcopian says:

            Yes, you never can tell. ‘Vimanas? They’ll never work. Now, sliced bread – that might just make me a millionaire.’

            Check your dream diary for successful future investments. 😉 My dreams that came true were only ever of banal events.

            • Robert Firth says:

              Malcopian, based on my library, a dream diary would be an excellent investment. Even though Sigmund Freud anticipated you in 1899, there seems to be much scope for imitators.

            • Malcopian says: