Thursday Open Thread

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

Please feel free to write comments on this post on whatever topic you like! (As usual, please avoid personal insults of each other, vulgarities aimed at each other or at third parties, or other things that are likely to poison the discussion.)

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  1. I think the elephant in the room with respect to COVID-19 is public consumption of alcohol. The hot spots are originating in bars, raves, and block/beach/pool parties.

    Why do people socially drink? To relax, to lower inhibitions, to talk to friends over loud background noise. Therefore masks come off, people stand closer, and speak louder.

    All of that is directly counter to vigilance, inhibitions, and social distancing.

    I know the word is hated, but for this COVID-19 crisis we need to bring back a form of prohibition.

    1. Maybe some PSAs would help, like this one

      “The darkly humorous video ended with COVIDon ordering a pizza topped with half bat, half pangolin.” 🙂

      https://www.jpost.com/israel-news/love-and-coronavirus-is-in-the-air-this-tu-bav-meet-covid-19-cupid-637452

    2. It isn’t just the word that is hated. It isn’t even about hate. The salient thing about prohibition is that it did not work, and had massive unintended negative consequences. Close bars, witness the rise of house parties and speakeasies. Will the police arrest everyone at the house party? At the speakeasy? Are you suggesting federal officials confiscate all the liquor in the country?

      Also, what’s the metric for ending this prohibition? No new cases? A vaccine? How will we enforce any of this? When would we stop? It’s not a realistic option. Many people died after drinking bathtub gin or other contaminated liquor during prohibition. Black markets tend to be violent. More people might die as a result of prohibition than lives saved by said prohibition. When will we learn this lesson? How have we failed to learn it?

      I think the elephant in the room is that the virus is not planning on going anywhere. We can hide at home. Masks apparently offer some protection. We can stand on dots when in line at Target. But all this delays the inevitable. At some point, we have to come out of our homes and remove our masks. What then?

      1. “Black markets tend to be violent.”

        The history of prohibition is that the rum runners and moonshiners were not all that violent until the government stepped in and escalated the use of violence on the enforcement side.

        If you look at drub prohibition before the “war on drugs” you see the same thing. Was there some violence, sure. But escalation in violence on the criminal side followed, not proceeded escalations in the use of violence by law enforcement.

        1. Even if I concede the point that black markets may not be “all that violent,” the rest of the argument stands.

        2. The history of prohibition is that the rum runners and moonshiners were not all that violent until the government stepped in and escalated the use of violence on the enforcement side.

          Are you sure of that?

          My understanding is that these situations get violent because of disputes among the bootleggers over territory, customers, etc., and disputes with customers. Because the business is illegal, these can’t be settled in court, or thorough contracts, or whatever, so violent means take over.

          Indeed, part of the function of the criminal organization is precisely to handle these matters.

          1. Lobster fishing is legal, but those disputes over territory often get quite violent.

          2. Yes.

            I’m not saying there was no violence at all, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as is typically portrayed before the government started coming down guns blazing.

            1. Well the government will have no choice but to come down guns blazing because people will find a way to drink if they want to drink. Laws are all fine and good, but useless if not enforced. This is why we had the Volstead Act. So prohibition of alcohol would inevitably lead to government intervention, increased crime, dangerous drinks (like those containing methanol rather than ethanol – the former can be deadly), and an increase in the spread of COVID because people would have to hide away and gather closely together to do their drinking. No health inspector is going to check in on the secret speakeasy. The Ken Burns documentary is fabulous – highly recommend it.

      2. “I think the elephant in the room is that the virus is not planning on going anywhere. We can hide at home. Masks apparently offer some protection. We can stand on dots when in line at Target. But all this delays the inevitable. At some point, we have to come out of our homes and remove our masks. What then?”

        Eventually (hopefully in months not years) there’s going to be a vaccine. It’s not at all obvious that wearing masks between now and then is unsustainable. There’s probably some set of behaviors like mask-wearing and standing on dots that aren’t particularly intrusive on the general operation of society that can be adopted to keep things mostly under control until then–that seems to be the experience of most other countries, but they were mostly more disciplined about lockdown management than the US so who knows if those lighter-weight mechanisms are going to be good enough to get us out of our current mess.

        1. A vaccine depends on a persistent immune response. If people actually are catching this twice, no vaccine is possible.

          1. Sure, it’s possible that we won’t get a vaccine or one that works well enough to mostly ignore Coronavirus. That will require a set of pretty hard choices by society that I don’t think we’re actually very prepared to deal with. So far, though, people that know what they’re doing seem reasonably optimistic.

            It seems reasonable that some people should be planning for what we do in a scenario in which a vaccine doesn’t pan out in a reasonable amount of time. “Act like Coronavirus doesn’t exist” doesn’t seem like a very good Plan B, but I honestly haven’t heard anything else seriously proposed other than possibly the Swedish approach.

            1. In the “no good vaccine ever” case, it’s not clear there will or should be a single collective decision on how to respond. A lot of us were around when AIDS first hit, less contagious but on the other hand uniformly fatal (we thought) if you got it. “Refrain from sex” would have been a very big ask from the government, and they did not ask that as a matter of law.

              It was mostly a personal decision. Some people did refrain. Some people took precautions that reduced but did not eliminate risk. Some people decided enjoying life is as important as prolonging it and carried on. Some changed their behavior permanently, some temporarily until things didn’t look as bad.

              And their decisions did impact others because it was a contagious disease, neverthless, each person was responsible for taking their own precautions rather than insisting everyone else make it safe for them to have sex wherever they wanted. The collective part of the AIDS response was mainly making sure people had the facts, and investments in treatments and cures.

              It could end up along the same lines, just replace “sex” with “physically mingle in society”. Rather than make everyone else change their behavior to make public spaces safe, change your own behavior until you feel safe. We’re fortunate that staying home is now a valid option for those who want to do it. Nothing wrong with staying home, but focus more on what you can do to protect yourself and maybe a little less on policing others.

              1. The analogy fails. HIV is transmitted during acts that occur in private, not public spaces. A decision matrix that works for a sexually transmitted disease like that (you can have sex without protection, with protection, have safer forms of sex, or not have sex at all) is completely inappropriate for a respiratory disease. There are all sorts of things you can’t do in a public space precisely to protect other people from the consequences or your decisions, notwithstanding that you have decided to accept the risk. Walking around potentially infected with a highly contagious respiratory disease and failing to take minimal precautions to avoid exposing other people should be one of those, it seems.

                Basically, you assume there are no externalities or that they are essentially the same in both the STD and respiratory disease cases. But the externalities are far more prevalent in the respiratory disease case, including because there are relatively minor things you can do to drastically minimizing passing your respiratory disease to other people, but it is really hard (absent becoming a hermit as you suggest) to protect yourself from other people’s disease if they are free to walk up to you and breath in your face (as you propose).

                The STD situation is almost the reverse. You can’t really pass on your STD without the other person’s consent to the interaction (without committing a crime). Hence, the analogy fails.

                1. It’s not a perfect analogy, but part of it hinges on what you consider public space. A believer in expansive government tends to think public space is everything except your literal bedroom. I tend toward the other limit: public space is a few government buildings and parks, and everything else (grocery stores, bars, restaurants, etc) are private spaces inhabited by consenting adults who get to decide their risk levels among themselves.

                  I’m fine with the government setting rules for their own offices, the public schools, etc. The rest is just as private as sex.

          2. Herd immunity also requires a persistent immune response.

            Even if that’s not going to occur (and I remain skeptical of that single working paper), the work we’ve done to get better therapies has already saved incalculable lives.

          3. Thus far there is no evidence anyone has caught this twice. Or that antibodies are declining by more than they normally do after an infection is active.

        2. Look, this isn’t the bubonic plague. It isn’t even smallpox. Or the 1918 flu. If you flip the statistics, the lockdowns and mask mandates become puzzling. If you are under 50, you have at least a 98% chance of surviving it if you catch it. Most people who get it don’t know they have it.

          I think this is a great example of human arrogance, personally. Our government, which does almost nothing well, can keep us safe from nature? Sure.

          If you have comorbidities that make you more susceptible to the virus, you should take precautions. Why were are issuing blanket orders, I don’t know. Let the youngs go to the beach and take their chances if they want to. Most stores offer hours only for seniors and others at risk. Nobody is going to make you come within 6 feet of me. A more surgical approach would be at least as effective without all the horrible side effects.

          It isn’t that there’s no danger. It’s that there is no life that is free of danger.

          1. “Our government, which does almost nothing well,”

            That is the mantra of those who hate modern America.

            I believe our government has been an indispensable part of building a fine country.

            The arguments of those who prefer the “good old days,” before our government arranged today’s America, are impaired by the illusory nature of those “good old days.”

            1. Are you still pretending to be libertarian or not?

      3. No more violent raids by police!

        Unless it’s on a modern speakeasy.

    3. My social circles have been doing wine tastings online.

      Local wineries are only too happy to send bottles over with occluded titles. And then we drink and try and guess the grape. We are very bad at it, but the journey is what we’re looking for.

    4. “I think the elephant in the room with respect to COVID-19 is public consumption of alcohol. The hot spots are originating in bars, raves, and block/beach/pool parties.”

      I’d argue that instead that this is the expected consequence of 5+ months of jackbooted fascist lockdowns and young people responding with the attitude of “make me.”

      What no one is saying is that 90% of the BLM protests are social events of young people desperate for something to “do”, *and* that they have to be hot spots as well.

      And when Farcebook hires Hillary Clintons people and Twatter hires Kamalia Harris’ and puts them in charge of what is acceptable for Trump to say about the Wuhan Virus, it leads people to not believe ANYTHING that the purported “experts” say.

      The untold story of the national 55 MPH speed limit is that it so delegitimized speed limits that speeds actually came *down* when it was raised to 65 MPH in the late ’80’s.

      1. And shutting off water to houses where people have parties — does anyone understand why sanitary codes *require* water service?

        1. In most jurisdictions turning off essential services is illegal. Even if you are behind years on your water bill it is illegal to shut off service. Usually what the municipality has to do is physically arrest you and then charge you with theft of services.

          1. There’s also something in the US Constitution about the right of Americans to cross state lines. These people have gone full fascist and the Mayor’s justification is that “they are breaking the law” so, apparently, he can do anything he damn well pleases.

            See: https://deadline.com/2020/08/los-angeles-coronavirus-garcetti-shut-off-water-large-parties-1203005621/

            A small town in Massachusetts not only did this but locked a guy out of his rented property, and I *know* that’s illegal in Massachusetts (30 days in jail). They tried to board it up too, but no company would take the job.

          2. “Usually what the municipality has to do is physically arrest you and then charge you with theft of services.”

            I’ve always seen a lien put on the property — the water/sewer bills combined with unpaid property taxes. I’ve seen municipalities then willing to waive this when someone else is willing to buy/redevelop the property.

            1. Yes that is sometimes a civil remedy available. The problem usually is the property isn’t worth any money or executing the lien just means the municipality will then have an unoccupied, blighted property it has to maintain on the taxpayer dime.

              Even rundown properties are usually better when occupied as owners/renters/landlords will do minimal upkeep and it keeps criminals away.

              1. As I understand it, having a lien doesn’t mean you have to take possession.

        2. I found that shocking as well.

      2. Farcebook and Twatter. Love it.

    5. The conspiracy of ignorance masquerades as common sense.

  2. Josh Blackman is a jerk. Discuss!

    1. Disagree!

      He’s a hack! 🙂 But a nice hack!

      1. I agree Blackman is a hack.

        I haven’t sufficient information to assess whether he is a jerk and/or a nice hack. And, yes, I think it is possible he could be both a nice hack and also a jerk.

        1. He is a jerk. I was a board member of my journal, at a school in NYC ~50-100 listings higher than STCL, and Blackman accepted our invitation to join a panel discussion on campus speech. It was in response to his de-platforming at CUNY law.

          What was bizarre about Blackman was his rude behavior during the panel discussion. Whenever it was not his turn to speak, he would disregard the other panel members by eating his pizza and browsing articles on his laptop. Mind you, my editorial role on the journal was to put on events such as this one, and in all my experiences going to events and hosting them, never once did I experience ANYONE eat pizza during the panel, let alone tool around on their laptop while the other panelists spoke. It is rude to the audience and his fellow colleagues, of which were prominent constitutional law scholars, and a litigator from the ACLU. Blackman did not engage in substantive discussion with the other panelists. He merely recited his same points and would go back to reading articles on his laptop.

          Even more bizarre than any of this conduct was the Blackman thought there was nothing wrong with it! In fact, he recorded all of it and put it on his youtube channel!

          1. I guess he was studying airplane seating charts.

          2. Wow. That maybe explains a lot about his expressed opinions. The person you describe sounds like the sort of person who takes positions merely to advance his own interests but really doesn’t actually care about a legitimate dialogue (or other people much at all). Which, in today’s climate, is unfortunately not uncommon in people vying for prominent positions. Gross.

    2. I rather like his bipolar posts. The wild swings of elation at having an oped published and despair for the fate of the republic with each court decision he disagrees with—it’s a heady mix. He’s very much a go big or go home kind of writer.

      1. “He’s very much a go big or go home kind of writer.”

        What home? He can’t stand modern America.

      2. He’s certainly a go long kind of writer.

    3. That’s racist! Why is everyone trying to put down Josh? Is it because he is a Blackman?

  3. If you ask Rick Astley for a DVD of the Pixar movie Up, he won’t give it to you because he’s never gonna give you Up. However, by not giving you Up like you asked for it, he is letting you down. This is known as the Astley paradox.

    1. LOVE IT

    2. The Conspiracy has officially been Rickrolled.

  4. Yesterday, I walked out of Target and saw a middle-aged, serious-looking Asian man driving by slowly in a very beat up SUV. His windows were down, and he was blasting Dr. Dre’s classic, “The Chronic.” I was delighted. What a wonderful, quirky moment.

    It made me think about our current situation, and how everyone sitting behind a keyboard is a full human, full of idiosyncrasies and quirks and humor and hope and fear.

    I believe that social media and anonymous comment threads have been the key factor in destroying civil discussion in this country. It’s much easier to be unkind when the target is just a screen name. We immediately assume the person on the other side fits neatly into a political box. I made a comment at the WSJ about journalists rarely being SMEs in the topics on which they report. Someone immediately responded that was only true at my preferred news source: Fox. It also makes it much easier to avoid an argument with an ad hominem attack.

    On social media, we fight and unfriend those who disagree with us. We assume the worst of everyone. In so doing, we create little bubbles where we only hear from those who share our views. This is how extremist groups form: people come together sharing an idea or belief, then the loudest voices in the room, the most extreme, inspire the more rational folks to bail. All you have left is the extreme.

    I have not watched Fox News in over a decade. I am not a Republican (or a Democrat). I am a lawyer and a published playwright and a singer and I make bookmarks with watercolors in my spare time. I am damn near a free speech absolutist. I am not a Trump supporter. I am worried about Biden. I am worried about our response to COVID and am not convinced we needed to go so far. I do not think we can overcome nature. I make a point to be kind to everyone I meet. I am an atheist and a humanist and empathetic to a fault. (I have plenty of other faults.)

    I am done with people who want to put me in a nice, neat little category. Most of us don’t fit so nicely into a stereotype either. If we could remember that when we are behind our screens, the world would be a better place. It is possible to be skeptical about the efficacy of masks or the wisdom of the lockdowns without being a Trump supporter. It is possible to be very concerned about racism and qualified immunity for cops without being on the far left. There is the hard right and the hard left, but most of us live somewhere in metaphorical flyover country.

    I worry about the future. I worry because the way we communicate now has made it so easy to dehumanize our political opponents. I don’t have a solution, especially when human to human contact is so severely restricted. We are headed for bottom so quickly that we are going to land hard.

    1. I believe the problem with civil discourse is that in a face-to-face conversations, speakers get instantaneous feedback. Agreement, disagreement, puzzlement, disgust, all reactions occur so quickly that speakers can change tack, backup, clarify, immediately, and that helps listeners treat them as humans.

      Online has none of that. Languages are full of words that people can easily misinterpret or take out of context. Tone of voice matters, emphasis matters, pauses matter, they all contribute towards subtle clarifications, and they are all missing from tweets and comments. Good writers spend a long time agonizing over words precisely because they know this; comments and tweets do not have that luxury. Newspapers used to have some time for that, and editors to provide a sanity check. Online news seldom does. Letters to the editor had that to an extent. Online comments and tweets never do.

      1. Amen, Á àß äẞç ãþÇđ âÞ¢Đæ ǎB€Ðëf ảhf. Your analysis is correct: the feedback received through (for example) a conversation at a bar provides a control loop which simply cannot be achieved via (for example) a twitter exchange.

        Earlier today on this blog, there was a citation of a poll which found that, in large part, folks are just fine with the level of policing. Similarly, in a recent bar conversation, the collective present discussed statue removal and, as polls show, most found it to be a silly topic [oddly, this was also true after Charlottesville attempted to remove a statue: the majority of each “race” found the topic silly]. But tweets tell a different story regarding both topics.

      2. Some huge percentage of communication is nonverbal.

    2. As for the future, my guess is that humans will adapt to this new context-less communication in some manner. Smilies and emoticons are one primitive adaption, so are italic and bold and *stars* and /s. Surely others will show up. Humans as a species or as societies are very adaptable over the long term, not so much in the short term.

    3. I agree that the anonymity that rules over a huge amount of internet interaction contributes to the incivility. I know that it is valued highly by internet culture in general, but I think it is a net negative (pun intended). Even here where the commenters are relatively educated and intelligent (I think), there is a good deal of rudeness.

      1. I LOVE PUNS!

    4. That’s a lotta words for saying humans get a little emotional kick being nonsentient memetic defense cogs for their respective memeplexes.

      Memes are ideas that get you to behave in ways that engender their spread.

    5. I largely agree with you, but as far as Penny Arcade’s Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory goes, I think it’s been subsequently established that anonymity actually isn’t a necessary part of turning a normal person into a total asshole online. Facebook, Twitter, all the commenting platforms that operated on Facebook… people are more than willing to act like assholes online. Seems like it’s more the possibility of an imminent punch in the face that keeps a significant number of people well-behaved.

  5. I was watching an episode of Dateline in which the interviewer prefaced a question by saying, “Most people probably don’t know anyone who was a murder victim, and you know two.”

    So I thought about it and realized I’ve known three people who were murder victims: A pastor who was killed by a mentally ill homeless man that he was trying to help, a former classmate who was shot by his son during a domestic violence incident, and another former classmate who was strangled by the brother of a boy he was molesting. And I almost knew a fourth; a former client was shot during a robbery but survived.

    So now I’m curious as to whether the Dateline interviewer was just completely wrong and it’s not that unusual for someone to have known multiple murder victims, or if I’m an outlier. I’m curious as to what others think.

    1. My memory of probability is rusty, but I think this is right:

      The annual murder rate is ~5 per 100,000 in the US. The first article in my Google search says the average person in the US knows ~600 people. Assuming murders are evenly distributed across the population (this is a very bad assumption, I know), that gives you a ~3% chance of knowing a murder victim in any given year and a something like a 93% chance of knowing a murder victim over an 80 year lifespan.

      Of course, the big assumption there is that the murder rate is distributed evenly across the population. This is very obviously not correct, so your probability of knowing a murder victim is going to depend a lot on who you know. For example, the murder rate in South Dakota was only 1.5 per 100,000 so if all your friends were from there you’d have less than a 1% chance per year of knowing a murder victim and roughly even odds over 80 years. I suspect murder victims are actually pretty concentrated into specific populations, though, so the original claim from the TV show that “most people don’t know anyone who was a murder victim” is probably correct, whereas there’s a reasonable cohort of people who know many so the implication that it’s super unusual to know more than one is probably the more suspect statement.

      1. It’s cultural — whom one associates with.

        1. So wait–you’re saying that the probability of knowing a murder victim depends on how likely the people you know are to be murdered? Yes, I hope that is obvious to everyone but doesn’t really go any distance to answering Krychek_2’s question.

          To elaborate on the last point on my previous point, though, if we were to assume that 10% of the murders in the US happened within a murder-prone group that was 90% of the population then each member of that group would have fully a 27% chance of knowing a murder victim EACH YEAR while the rest of the population would have only a 21% chance of knowing a murder victim over an 80 year lifetime.

          My math isn’t good/quick enough to figure out the odds of knowing more than one murder victim and we should probably be doing a simulation instead of straight probabilities like this, but I think my bad math says that within 5 years, people within the murder-prone cohort have a 19% chance to know at least two murder victims so you can definitely end up with one population that will tend to know zero murder victims and another that is reasonably likely to know more than one.

          1. We have a real world example. Roughly 50% of the people murdered in the US are Black. Blacks make up about 13% of the population. African Americans also tend to live near other African Americans.

            Taking other demographic factors into account like education and income probably concentrates it even through.

            As older white guy I have known 2 murder victims. One a guy I did some busin3ss and the other the son of a friend of my wife’s. Neither were close friends nor black.

          2. My math isn’t good/quick enough to figure out the odds of knowing more than one murder victim

            In this case, you multiply together. So, if it was 3%… then 0.03*0.03, or 3% of 3%, comes out to 0.09%. Continue for 3, 4, more.

            I have never known anyone murdered. My girlfriend knows one guy who was murdered. I’d also put the number of people I know at 60, not 600.

            1. “In this case, you multiply together. So, if it was 3%… then 0.03*0.03, or 3% of 3%, comes out to 0.09%. Continue for 3, 4, more.”

              Sorry, but that’s definitely not right. You’re computing the odds of knowing someone murdered every year. By multiplying, you’re saying “of the 3% of the people that knew a murder victim in year one, what fraction of them also knew a murder victim in year 2?” That is, correctly, a very low number: less than a tenth of a percent and the odds decrease year over year. This is a good sanity check to understand that you aren’t computing the right number–the odds of knowing a murder victim *ever* should increase over time, not decrease.

              But if we want to know “what fraction of people will know someone who was murdered?” we basically want to do the opposite of this, because it’s just the inverse of “what fraction of people will never know someone who was murdered?” To figure that out, we look in year one and see that 97% of people don’t know someone who was murdered (and 3% did) and then multiply by 97% again (because once again most of them won’t know a murder victim but a small fraction will). That get’s us to 94.09% having never known a murder victim (and 5.91% of people that have, including .09% of people who now have known murder victims in both years). Repeating this multiplication year over year is how I got to the lifetime numbers above. There’s still some problems with this approach (like I said, we should probably be using simulations instead of just multiplying numbers out like this), but seems ballpark correct to me.

    2. I knew one murder victim, one murderess. When to high school with both. Also, I’ve personally been on two “hit lists.”

      1. Wow. I just have people who don’t like me….

  6. Is everyone here familiar with the apparently strong correlation between patients with acute Covid-19 symptoms and vitamin d deficiency? I believe there are a couple papers in the works awaiting peer review. Very interesting, and it makes sense from an immune system point of view.

    1. There has been research on Vitamin D and general coronaviruses conducted before and a correlation between acute symptoms and low serum levels of Vitamin D seem to correspond. A friend of mine who is a doctor, recommends to his patients to just take a vitamin D supplement during the winter, but just started recommending to all of his patients because of the pandemic. Considering it is cheap (bottle of 200 is around $10 on Amazon) adding it to your daily vitamin intake is probably worth the cost/benefit. Just be aware you might need to take a higher dose than one tablet to get up to a beneficial level. Consult your doctor of course.

      1. Remember that it’s added to milk.

        1. Unless you drink a lot of milk that is probably not enough.

        2. Remember it comes in multiple forms, and exposure to sunlight seems to have beneficial effects aside from vitamin D generation.

          1. And causes skin cancer — a sunburn IS a radiation burn.

            1. True, but I’ve read that with only 15 minutes of direct exposure to sun, your body can manufacture the complete recommended daily allowance.
              By the way, what have you done with the original Dr. Ed?

              1. A recommended daily allowance is based off of old studies mostly conducted in the 50’s and 60’s which are thought to be the minimum amount of vitamin present in blood serum (not necessarily available and being used in your body, just what is present in blood) in order for the body to maintain minimum functionality. The confusion is that recommended daily allowance is not necessarily the OPTIMAL daily allowance for ones body. That amount tends to be much higher and can vary by individual.

              2. I don’t know….

            2. It’s a risk/benefit tradeoff; If you avoid getting a sunburn, you aren’t terribly likely to get skin cancer from sun exposure, unless you take it to extremes. So it’s worth the slight risk.

              Even sunburn can be a risk/benefit tradeoff; I have psoriasis, and back when it was much worse, my dermatologist would advise me to go out and get mildly sunburned occasionally.

              So today I visit a dermatologist twice a year for skin surveys, but that’s mostly because of the sunburns I got as a child. It’s still better for my health to not hide in a cave.

              1. Yeah, my children’s various skin problems get way better when they get some regular sun, not even sunburns.

      2. The Jerusalem Post ran an article recently about an Israeli study that found taking vitamin D supplements will help. The thinking, as I understand it, is taking a higher dose of vitamin D (4000 IU – 5000 IU) daily helps the body maintain immunological homeostasis. Therefore, easier for your immune system to clear out Covid-19 from your system.

        I ‘upped’ my vitamin D dose from 2000 IU to 4000 IU daily/4 days weekly. I spend a little more time in the sun.

    2. WOW — that’s a direct correspondence to skin color and *if* there is a greater Black/Hispanic vulnerability to this, well, interesting…

      You often can find preprints of papers on the web, there are a couple of web sites that publish them, I forget the urls. And I’ve been told that NEJM isn’t waiting for peer reviews anymore, simply putting stuff out unrefereed.

    3. Yes. Been hearing that for months.

    4. Radiolab just had a nice little article about it, starting out with what do modern homeless and longshoremen during the 1918 epidemic have in common?

  7. I never thought I’d see the day when I had zero interest in college football but it sure looks that way going into this season. Thanks Covid and SJWs.

    1. I guess SJWs just think ending a public health crisis is more important than a football season. Who’d have thunk?

      1. May I state that adding a political agenda to a public health crisis serves to discredit both?

        1. OK, I’ll bite. Why would anyone have a political agenda to shut down a football season?

          1. Because it has so many offense team names.

          2. I consume a fair bit of sports media. There is a zeitgeist in sports media of Corona-Negativity. Its almost a fashion statement, like frosted tips or belt buckles. I’m sure like those trends, in 5-10 years most people expressing anti-college football sentiment will look back and say, “what was I doing”, but 5% will still be wearing their figurative belt buckle.

            Why is this in fashion? I think negativity in general is fashionable in the media, and football is merely the current target of negativity because Basketball and Hockey and Baseball are already powering through.

    2. Why are you blaming others for your lack of interest, and what do “SJWs” have to do with it?

      Given the amount of close physical contact there is in football it seems pretty reasonable to think there is a good chance of transmission between players.

  8. And anyone have any idea how I became “Dr. Ed 2.”?

    1. Are you the actual Dr. Ed?

      1. Yes — and is says “Dr. Ed” is in use when I go into the control settings to remove the “2.”.

    2. I suspect Soros.

      1. His main weapon is fear. Fear and surprise. His two main weapons are…

      2. I know it was Soros. He paid me to do it.

    3. Disgruntled UMass Genetics Post-Docs?

  9. Recently read “The Ideas Factory”, on Bell Labs, which gave me extreme nostalgia. Innovation at Bell Labs essentially took the form of “put smart people in a room and see what happens.” Today its just … idk. Mostly smart people yelling at other smart people people and the only one who is allowed to show any creativity is Elon Musk or the CEO or whatever.

    My library removed all most new releases and restricted access to half the place, which means that while it is now open, it is completely useless. Fun.

    I am progressively growing more and more annoyed at the amount of bs there is. A storm came by yesterday and knocked out the power for a couple of hours. Combine online everything with no power … this sort of thing is starting to piss me off.

    1. I was writing something about how we’re still good, Lincoln Labs, etc. But I think I came around to agree with you.

      We have plenty of examples of getting scientists of a given discipline together, but not interdisciplinary unless they’re all coordinating on the same grant or something.

    2. Two words: “Power Inverter”

      You run it off your car battery — clip it directly to the battery — and have the engine running (it’s 10 amps for every one you get out) but you can get AC power out of your car.

      It’s switched DC and not actual AC (which has a sine curve) and laser printers don’t like it, but with almost all electronics now having a transformer/rectifier that converts the 120v AC into low voltage DC, it doesn’t matter. And they aren’t that expensive anymore. And if you have a good UPS, all you really are doing is recharging the battery inside it that is then powering your protected power.

  10. I picked up David Frum’s book on The Seventies. It reminds me how strange of a decade that was and is a good read. Also makes me wonder if the 2020’s is going to be the modern day equivalent of the 70’s (not that decades perfectly repeat, but some get close.)

    1. Check out Dan Epstein’s Big Hair and Plastic Grass, a superb narrative history of baseball in the 70s. The weirdness factor of the game in the 70s highlights how safe and dull baseball (and all pro sports) has become.

      1. I love watching old highlights from baseball in the 1970’s and 80’s. Slides with spikes up. Fan fights. The “disco sucks riot.” “Nickel Night” causing drunken upheaval. Players clearly drinking in the dug out between innings. Players who were fat and out of shape because they didn’t care. That was some good stuff.

        1. Fat players but also how damned skinny so many of them were. Ballplayers still looked enough like the rest of us that we could fantasize about playing pro ball. Guys liked Dave Parker or Dave Winfield were freaks, not the norm.

          1. And guys like Babe Ruth were fat. Also look at the shots of fans. Most are skinny and just healthier looking. Could be poor video quality of the age, but maybe there is something to all the corn syrup and preservatives in our modern diet.

            1. It’s pretty much certain that the federal government blighted a couple generations with bad nutritional advice like the “food pyramid”, and they haven’t stopped yet.

  11. This election is going to be a disaster.

    “More than 223,000 mail-in ballots sent to registered voters in Clark County, Nevada, were bounced as “undeliverable” in the state’s June primary election, newly released data reveals.

    According to data collected by the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) from the Clark County Election Department, a total of 223,469 mail-in ballots sent to registered voters for the June 9 primary election ended up bouncing as “undeliverable” — 17 percent of the total 1,325,934 mail-in ballots that were sent out in the county.

    “These numbers show how vote by mail fails,” PILF President J. Christian Adams said in a statement, adding:

    New proponents of mail balloting don’t often understand how it actually works. States like Oregon and Washington spent many years building their mail voting systems and are notably aggressive with voter list maintenance efforts. Pride in their own systems does not somehow transfer across state lines. Nevada, New York, and others are not and will not be ready for November.

    For comparison, in the 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2018 general elections, the entire state of Nevada recorded just 5,863 mail-in ballots as “undeliverable.” That data comes from U.S. Election Assistance Commission surveys….
    Recent data has not shown a compelling public health justification for mail-in voting. In Wisconsin’s April election, only 52 of more than 400,000 voters and poll workers were confirmed to have contracted the Chinese coronavirus. None of those cases were fatal. This equals an infection rate below two-hundredths of one percent.”

    1. You make an important point. Oregon and Washington built their systems to work. Whether or not they are the best public policy options is arguable, but at least those systems were intended as proof of concept.
      Emergency efforts to do vote-by-mail are intended to…?

    2. But the media told me that mail in ballots being a train wreck was just a “conspiracy theory.” Are you saying that there might actual be problems with the system?!?!?

    3. Yeah, it’s gonna suck. Were I the Feds I’d be giving grants and advice to mitigate the issue.

      Are you arguing we should ignore the virus and just make people vote in person?

      1. Yes, absolutely we should vote in person. That’s not ignoring the virus.

        1. That’s not gonna happen, though.

          Continuing to avoid large gatherings remains a worldwide policy. And we remain the worst at it, and have one of the worst deaths per capita for our lack of seriousness.

        2. It’s not like mail in voting is a thing that was just invented right before this election. In 2016, 40% of votes nationwide were cast by mail. So the notion that we’re choosing between “voting in person” and “voting by mail” is farcical–there’s almost certainly going to be a lot of both, and we should make sure we’re ready to deal with it.

          Extending from that, even if you don’t think that local authorities should do anything different in terms of allowing or encouraging vote by mail, there’s still going to be a lot more of it this election. Even prior to Coronavirus, the majority of states allowed for no-excuse mail-in balloting. It’s pure ostrich-thinking to imagine that many more people are going to take advantage of that, and as you’ve correctly noted many places aren’t really prepared to deal with this.
          So if we don’t want the election to be a disaster, we should be helping states and localities prepare for more vote by mail instead of getting into the latest dumb, unnecessarily partisan debate.

          Similarly, we should make in-person voting as robust as possible for people who want/need to use it. But let’s be real–MANY poll workers aren’t willing to take the risk this year so it will be almost impossible to make this option available to as many people as in years past. You can’t just wish problems like that away. If you think the same level of in-person voting should happen in 2020 as in 2016, what’s your plan to actually make this possible other than proclaiming that it should be so?

  12. Not wanting to poison the conversation, I’ll re-raise the topic of masking.

    From the Director of the W.H.O., we hear “The mask has come to represent SOLIDARITY. […] By wearing a mask, you’re sending a powerful message to those around you that WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER.”

    But what if I don’t want to send that message?

    The W.H.O. offered no substantial scientific evidence that masking would _directly_ prevent spread of any virus; however, there was substantial evidence that masking promotes awareness and may thereby indirectly reduce the rate of infection.

    But again, I have to ask, what if I don’t want to send The Message of The Mask? Absent a compelling direct health effect, should my refusal to speak The Message of The Mask be protected?

    As a counterexample, shrouding my penis with a condom and exposing the properly enveloped package in public would make a profoundly large and notably effective statement regarding safe sex but would do absolutely nothing to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted disease. Should any level of government be permitted to require the entirety of its population to wear condoms in such a manner?

    1. Put a swastika on your mask?

    2. There’s tons of evidence at this point that masks reduce the spread of Coronavirus.

      There are perhaps interesting conversations to be had about individual rights relative to the government response to a crisis, whether Coronavirus qualifies as a crisis, whether mandates are necessary instead of voluntary encouragement, etc., but it seems pointless to try to have a conversation if we can’t start with some baseline agreement on facts.

      1. Yes lots of science shows that wearing a mask and maintaining social distance reduces the risk of transmitting Covid to almost nothing. Wearing a mask is not a conspiracy. Yes it might be uncomfortable especially if having to wear for an extended period of time, but it does make a difference. Please just wear your mask when you are in public and leave a few feet between you and someone else.

        1. Not against masks at all, and not denying they do a lot of good. But “redcues the risk to almost nothing” is an exaggeration. It’s been very rare to see an unmasked person for six months in my county, and yet we turned into a coronavirus hotspot over the last few weeks. I’m sure it would be even worse without the masks, but saying it’s a completely effective solution just isn’t true. It’s a proven useful measure, why can’t we leave it at that?

          In the long run, saying what is literally true is a better strategy than saying what you think will make people behave the way they should. We’re already seeing the consequences of a low trust society.

          1. The best way not to spread Covid is not to be around people who have it. If your community had no cases in the area then of course Covid isn’t going to spread. Everyone can walk around without masks, or could even pack in bars and share glassware without any reason.

            The reason why masks are important is because you don’t know who is a carrier and many carriers don’t know they are shedding virus. Masks won’t “save us all” but they do help reduce the over transmission rate and that is what is going to get this pandemic under control.

            1. Fine. “Reduce the overall transmission rate” is a fine statement.

              It’s also quite different from “reduces to almost nothing”, which aside from being untrue could have unintended consequences, for example, people declining other useful measures on the ground that six and a mask gets you full safety.

  13. This is going to be a DISASTER, very deliberately set up and created. And it will be a very sad day for our country.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/17/nyregion/election-absentee-ballots-primary.html

    “3 Weeks After Primary, N.Y. Officials Still Can’t Say Who Won Key Races

    Tens of thousands of absentee ballots in New York are still uncounted and many races have yet to be called. What will November look like?

    More than three weeks after the New York primaries, election officials have not yet counted an untold number of mail-in absentee ballots, leaving numerous closely watched races unresolved, including two key Democratic congressional contests.

    The absentee ballot count — greatly inflated this year after the state expanded the vote-by-mail option because of the coronavirus pandemic — has been painstakingly slow, and hard to track, with no running account of the vote totals available.

    In some cases, the tiny number of ballots counted has bordered on the absurd: In the 12th Congressional District, where Representative Carolyn B. Maloney is fighting for her political life against her challenger, Suraj Patel, only 800 of some 65,000 absentee ballots had been tabulated as of Wednesday, according to Mr. Patel, though thousands had been disqualified…..

    The delays in New York’s primaries raise huge concerns about how the state will handle the general election in November, and may offer a cautionary note for other states as they weigh whether to embrace, and how to implement, a vote-by-mail system because of the pandemic…

    “The system is built to process 3 to 5 percent of the election in absentee ballots, not 40 to 60 percent of the election,” Mr. Conklin said, adding that it is “not possible to change this process overnight.”

    “This is just a primary: Imagine November with the presidential race and all the Senate and House races,” said Rebecca Katz, a progressive political consultant who serves as an adviser to Mr. Bowman’s campaign. “What’s going to happen to our country?””

    1. kind of like a wide variety of other issues during the pandemic (schools come to mind). endless argument about how to proceed, mostly partisan talking points, rather than taking a “do no harm” approach and spending all that energy on readiness for the event.

  14. In Flynn/Sullivan en banc news the panel allocated time yesterday to the parties, all 3 of them 20 minutes, DOJ, Flynn, Sullivan. Besides the original order that said the parties should be prepared to argue whether a mandamus is the only way for the parties to obtain the desired relief, now there is one other issue they want discussed “the parties be prepared to address at oral argument the effect, if any, of 28 U.S.C. §§ 455(a) and 455(b)(5)(i) on the District Court judge’s Fed. R. App. P. 35(b) petition for en banc review.”

    From White Collar Crime Prof blog:
    28 U.S.C. § 455(a) “Any justice, judge, or magistrate judge of the United States shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.”

    Under 28 U.S.C. § 455(b)(5)(i), a judge “shall also disqualify himself” if “He…is a party to the proceeding.”

    I don’t know how they decide which issues they want argued, is it by concensus or any judge on the panel can say: ‘I’d like to hear …’?

    Because it certainly seems like someone thinks that Sullivan has made himself a party to the case.

  15. As an American citizen, it is not our responsibility to make law enforcement’s job easier. If that statement makes you clutch your pearls, you already live in a police state.

    1. One of the most important police functions is to protect criminals, without effective policing law breakers are much more likely to face private or mob justice.

      This video illustrates what happens when people can’t depend on the police.
      https://youtu.be/d8wqXHE-lVk

      1. I know a few people who went to WVU. At the Pitt vs WVU game (at WVU) some idiot dressed in full Pitt regalia (and Pitt necklace, etc) sneaked into the middle of the WVU student section and then took off the overcoat to reveal the Pitt regalia. Immediately he was pelted with everything at hand. It took two tries for the police to surround the PItt fan and get him out of the student section.

        Response from the WVU students: Who is that stupidly suicidal?

        The call at WVU games was “Eat Shit Pitt”. There’s a reason they stopped playing each other.

        1. In America you have the right to be stupid.

  16. New York’s state attorney general has filed a “baseless, premeditated attack” lawsuit intended to dismantle the NRA. https://twitter.com/NRA

    It’s a lot broader than a defamation suit — but I’d call it a classic SLAPP, and wonder if an anti-SLAPP motion will be good against it.

  17. anyone want to take on the foolish question of whether NY AG filing has any effect?? NRA was founded in NY, but I thought was now a VA corp. certainly HQ in VA. how can state AG dissolve nonprofit in another state??

  18. Article the First, a.k.a. The [actual] First Amendment (not yet ratified.)

  19. Joe Biden is “a racist with the mindset of a Plantation Owner” (Leo Terrell, liberal activist and african american). Besides being a racist Joe Biden has serious dementia and is unqualified to be president.

    President Trump deserves re-election because of his highly successful record during his first term. President Trump deserves re-election because he loves this country more than he loves power (unlike Biden and democrats).

    Biden is disqualified to be president because he has been on the take through his son Hunter from China, and personally supported the outsourcing of USA manufacturing jobs, INCLUDING DRUG MANUFACTURING, to China.

    Biden and his family are corrupt grifters for the last 40 years.

    Biden is unqualified to be president because he’s been in politics for 47 years and has never been on the right side of a foreign policy issued in his life.

    Biden is unqualified to be president because he was part of the Obama cabal that sought to undermine and create a baseless and phony soft coup against a duly elected incoming President.

    Biden is unqualified to be president because he’s a moron.

      1. I think this is where you say ‘Sir, This Is an Arby’s.’

    1. Rumor is Biden as liked to order himself a “cheese pizza” pretty regularly.

      1. Nah, you’re not QAnon fool.

        Yet.

  20. Good morning Professor. I am glad that you are well.

    Milady Wife, 81, and I ‘bicycled’ thirty miles to lunch and home yesterday, in bright sunshine and fresh air.

    Good people ought to be armed as they will, with wits and Guns and THE TRUTH.

  21. Zoomer twins listening to “In the Air Tonight”

    “I ain’t never seen somebody drop a beat three minutes into a song.”
    https://twitter.com/travisakers/status/1291694978499055616

  22. More antifa violence in Portland. So much for the red herring that it was all Trump’s fault for deploying federal law enforcement. Extremists try to burn down a police department with people in it. Fun stuff.

    1. You think this is anywhere near the level of violence when the Feds were out there in force arresting folks without cause?

      I’m beginning to wonder about the endless series of failed arsons turning protests into violent riots. At some point, you gotta wonder if it’s actually an attempt.

      1. Most people would just be happy that these arsonists aren’t very good at actually starting structure fires that kill occupants and endanger fire fighters. But, if you are an apologist for violent extremists I guess that is the take you will have…

        1. Yeah, I love violence.
          Dehumanize yourself and face to bloodshed.

          The attempted arsonists should be apprehended and have the book thrown at them. But I don’t know that they should also be used to condemn the protests, much less to trump them up to the level they were at when the Feds were there putting up fences and shooting nonlethal rounds at people’s eyes.

          1. You still seem more or less OK with the attempted arsons, which is highly suspect….

            It is hard to judge a mob of looters, arsonists, and criminals by the few that might be there to legitimately protest. Usually you judge a riot by the rioters which is necessary because of the nature of a riot. So yeah you do judge the “protests” by the arsonists. If anything they are unwitting co-conspirators providing cover for those who wish to try to commit crimes.

            1. Sarcastro: The attempted arsonists should be apprehended and have the book thrown at them.

              JTD: You still seem more or less OK with the attempted arsons, which is highly suspect

              Which of these people is rational?

  23. So what’s going on with the NRA? Seems they’ve made a helluva bed, but I don’t know that the extreme remedy of dissolution is good policy given the partisan optics.

    Kind of a heckler’s veto situation, but I think pragmatism mitigates against that.

    1. Their spending is suspect, but most likely not illegal. I’m sure this is mostly a partisan hatchet job designed to discredit them. For whatever reasons liberals have decided that gun confiscation is what they want to start pushing and to do that effectively the NRA has to go.

      1. Pretty sure you’re making it up that their spending is most likely not illegal.

        I’ve not heard anyone defending the NRA as being on the right side of the law in this.

        But you got a persecution narrative to push, I guess.

        1. Illegal is much different then unethical. I don’t think it was per se illegal. Does it look horrible? Sure. Was it illegal? That is questionable. Does it matter? Probably not. The point of the lawsuit wasn’t to dissolve the NRA but discredit them. The prosecutor used the power of their office to get documents and then make those public using a lawsuit.

          If a conservative AG did this to Planned Parenthood, the left would cry foul. Oh wait, that happened and they did.

          1. Looks like a lot of tax evasion to me.

            At a minimum there’s a pile of unreported income. Back taxes, interest, and penalties are gonna sting.

            1. Misappropriation and criminal fraud is pretty easy to make out.

  24. After World War II the Soviet Union was allowed to exist.
    Patton wanted to keep going and wipe ’em out.. and the Americans stopped him… And the New World Order… was established at that point. And that was the beginning of the desire all of those people had for the eventual day where the world would be governed by a single government, a globalist government that would not be located in Washington. So from the 1940s all through 2016 the Washington establishment became focused on not America first, but the world first.
    If you think that the people running the United States — and I don’t just mean the president… there is an invisible group of people — and I don’t mean to make this sound conspiratorial – We got people that have never been elected anything that are writing more laws than Congress is… We’re in a death struggle with communism. And the post-World War II world order established and validated the Soviet communist state, protected it.

    Truman, Kennan, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Acheson… They were all pro-Soviet, trying to prop up the USSR. Kennedy was a great Castro-lover as well.

    1. Someone hack your account, or is this a piece of fan fiction?

      1. Rush Limbaugh show transcript.

  25. Question: Does the POTUS have the authority to ban an app? Just wondering how something like that actually works.

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