Friday, December 04, 2020

The Pandemic Is a Marathon Without a Finish Line

 The best defense against usurpatory government is an assertive citizenry.

— William F. Buckley, Jr., born  in 1925

Czechs to Reopen Shops, Restaurants as Virus Spread Slows Bloomberg

Pandemic Motors: Europeans snap up old cars to avoid public transport Reuters

SHOCKER:  CNN: The Wuhan files: Leaked documents reveal China’s mishandling of the early stages of Covid-19.

Lockdown has affected your memory – here’s why - BBC – Many of us have found ourselves in an isolated routine during the pandemic – and it turns out, that’s not very good for your memories. At the University of California Irvine, research is beginning on how the lockdown has affected people’s memories. It’s been reported that even some of those amazing people who usually remember events like buying a cinema ticket 20 years earlier because they have highly superior autobiographical memory are finding they are forgetting things. There are, of course, several different types of memory. Forgetting what you intended to buy is different from forgetting someone’s name or what you did last Wednesday. But research on how memory works points to several ways in which our newly constrained environment could be having an impact. The most obvious factor is isolation. We know that a lack of social contact can affect the brain negatively and that the effect is most serious in those already experiencing memory difficulties. For those with Alzheimer’s Disease, levels of loneliness can even predict the course of disease…”

Social Unrest Is the Inevitable Legacy of the Covid Pandemic. "Throughout history, plagues have caused upheaval and revolts. This pandemic will be no different."

OSHA Let Employers Decide Whether to Report Health Care Worker Deaths. Many Didn’t

Scores of deaths were not reported to occupational safety officials from the earliest days of the pandemic through late October.

The Pandemic Is a Marathon Without a Finish Line. How Can We Win?

Jason Kottke   Nov 25, 2020

With the positive news about the Covid-19 vaccine trials, I assume many of you have started to think about the potential end of the pandemic — what we’ll do, where we’ll go, who we’ll see, and reckon with what’s changed and what’s been lost. I know I have. Alex Hutchinson has written an intriguing piece on what sports science might be able to tell us about the psychology of a situation like the pandemic, where the finish line is poorly defined, ever-changing, or even non-existent.

The coronavirus butterfly effect: Six predictions for a new world order -Fast Company – “In chaos theory, the butterfly effect describes a small change that can have massive, unpredictable consequences. An insect flaps its wings and, weeks later, causes a tornado. The coronavirus is more like an earthquake, with aftershocks that will permanently reshape the world. If we are lucky, the world will pass “peak virus” within the next six months. But the economy, governments, and social institutions will take years to recover in the best-case scenario. Indeed, rather than even speak of “recovery,” which implies a return to how things were, it would be wise to project what new direction civilization will take. That too will be a bumpy ride. The next 3-5 years will remind us that COVID-19 was the lightning before the thunder…”

 NOT ONLY IS 2020 STRANGER THAN WE IMAGINED, IT IS STRANGER THAN WE CAN IMAGINE: Dead minks infected with a mutated form of COVID-19 rise from graves after mass culling

Related: Woke Publishing Employees Can’t Stand Their Woke Employer Publishing Books They Don’t Like.

Had the employee bothered to read 12 Rules for Life, he — or she or “xi” or “they” or “it” or whatever pronouns he or sheprefers to be called — might have found the book sophisticated, scientific, and illuminating. I certainly did.

Peterson’s bestselling book encourages people to take control of their lives, to abandon victimization, and to value the truth. Yes, Peterson disagrees with the radical transgender orthodoxy, and he is notorious for criticizing a law that would force people to refer to one another using their chosen pronouns. Peterson also explains that biological sex is real and that men and women are different in some ways — oh, the horror!

Peterson clearly contradicts transgenderism, but that hardly justifies accusations of “transphobia.” The professor has clearly said he will refer to people by their preferred pronouns when they ask him — he only objects to a government order on speech.

Does this make the professor a heinous “icon of hate speech,” an “icon of transphobia,” or an “icon of white supremacy”? No. If anything, Peterson is an icon of sanity in a world gone increasingly mad.

It seems there is little these triggered publishing company employees need more than to actually read Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life. Luckily, they work at the company that published it! Perhaps the staff can lend them some copies.

Tyler O’Neil’s article is just for our VIP members; please use the discount code LOYALTY if you’ve been thinking of becoming a supporter.

Pandemic Stories from Around the World, Fall 2020

Jason Kottke   Nov 30, 2020

My friend Jodi Ettenberg spent a decade traveling around the world, so she’s got friends and followers from all over the place. Over the weekend, she asked her Instagram followers to share their pandemic experiences and she’s been republishing them in Story collections: onetwothree. (You can also find them on her Instagram profile page.) Individually and as a collection, the stories she’s received are fascinating and heartbreaking to read. Almost 11 months into the pandemic — Wuhan’s lockdown began on Jan 23 — folks out there are really struggling and the response of governments around the world has varied widely (and wildly). Here are a few of the stories…check out the links above to read the rest.

Lockdown has affected your memory – here’s why - BBC

DISPATCHES FROM THE NORTH MINEHEAD BYE-ELECTION: Politician named Adolf Hitler wins election in Namibia.

(Classical reference in headline.)

Lidka and Krzysztof Constitutional Friday Evening Spirit


  The Legend of Starka, the Next Trendy Brown Spirit You Haven’t Heard Of.

THOMAS SOWELL: Walter E. Williams 1936-2020.

Walter Williams loved teaching. Unlike too many other teachers today, he made it a point never to impose his opinions on his students. Those who read his syndicated newspaper columns know that he expressed his opinions boldly and unequivocally there. But not in the classroom.

Walter once said he hoped that, on the day he died, he would have taught a class that day. And that is just the way it was, when he died on Wednesday, December 2, 2020.

He was my best friend for half a century. There was no one I trusted more or whose integrity I respected more. Since he was younger than me, I chose him to be my literary executor, to take control of my books after I was gone.

But his death is a reminder that no one really has anything to say about such things.

Comisky Article on Tax Evasion and Money Laundering

Comisky Article on Tax Evasion and Money Laundering

Readers of this blog will likely be interested in a recent practice point offering from the ABA Tax Section, Ian M. Comisky, May Tax Evasion Be Charged as a Money Laundering Offense? The Times Are A-Changing (ABA Tax Times 8/25/20), here.  (To access the document ABA or Tax Section membership may be required.)  Comisky (bio here) is a long-time practitioner and commentator on the interface of tax crimes and money-laundering.

Here are some paragraphs introductory and one more (from the already short offering) to tease the interest (footnotes omitted):

Tax evasion has never been a predicate offense for a money laundering charge in the United States. The government, however, has employed mail and wire fraud offenses to charge money laundering arising out of a tax crime. This article reviews the basics of U.S. money laundering laws, the use of mail and wire fraud crimes to transform tax offenses into money laundering, and recent developments worthy of discussion.

“This Is a Revolution, Sir” Jacobin

The real class war is within the rich FT


The Archetypical Cycle of Internal Order and Disorder Ray Dalio


Joseph Bankman (Stanford) presents Mr. Smith Gets an Education: Why it is so Hard to get Easy Tax Filing virtually at NYU today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Lily Batchelder and Daniel Shaviro:

Imagine that one day, you get a note in the mail from Visa saying that starting next month, Visa will no longer be sending itemized bills (or indeed, any bills at all) to its cardholders. Instead, it will be the responsibility of every Visa cardholder to keep a record of all purchases, and refunds charged or credited to their account during the month, along with late payments and late fees, interest accruing on unpaid balances, and then tote it all up at the end of the month to figure out how much they owe Visa. If cardholders inadvertently omit some charges and pay Visa too little, you’re informed, Visa will assess interest and penalties on the underpayment.

The Covid data spies paid to know ALL your secrets: Town halls harvest millions of highly personal details including if you’re being unfaithful or having unsafe sex Daily Mail

Some prominent exposure apps are slowly rolling back freedoms MIT Technology Review

Thursday, December 03, 2020

Trust the Science

Trust the science

Was it because it was wrong? Was there a scientific error that slipped past the reviewers? Nope. Johns Hopkins tweeted that it was because “the article was being used to support false and dangerous inaccuracies about the impact of the pandemic.”

How sad that Johns Hopkins has decided to give a pass on the evidence. Like it or not, it will get out. It already is getting out. 

WELL, THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY, YOU KNOW — EVEN IF SHE WAS CONCEIVED IN THE 20TH:  Baby born from 27-year-old embryo believed to have broken record set by her big sister.

Like Typhus, but also Not London Review of Books

New York Times, Trump Tax Write-Offs Are Ensnared in 2 New York Fraud Investigations:

Two separate New York State fraud investigations into President Trump and his businesses, one criminal and one civil, have expanded to include tax write-offs on millions of dollars in consulting fees, some of which appear to have gone to Ivanka Trump, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Legendary football star Diego Maradona has died at the age of 60.

Hugh Grant Says He Never Wanted To Be A Romantic Hero

Not that he hated it. “I’m not ungrateful. I loved the money, of course, and I’m proud of a lot of those films. But if someone said to me, ‘Do you have any talent as an actor?’ I’d say, ‘Well, only in regard to character acting.'” – Los Angeles Times

1% of farms operate 70% of world’s farmlandGuardian


You Have The Right To Not Work Indica


Anti-Populism with Thomas Frank (podcast) The Dig. Bracing. And if you want to understand why Frank has been blackballed by liberal Democrats and won’t (at least as I heard him say on Useful Idiots) be writing on politics any more, this is the podcast episode for you.


How close is too close? Aeon

How to Work With Tribesmen (PDF) W. Patrick Lang 

Social Unrest Is the Inevitable Legacy of the Covid Pandemic. "Throughout history, plagues have caused upheaval and revolts. This pandemic will be no different."

Much of the U.S. Could Be Uninhabitable by 2050

A new report confirms earlier studies that found that climate change will render a lot of the US uninhabitable in a few decades.

A short history of Very Special Episodes on TV shows and the lessons about drugs, AIDS, and school shootings that have stuck with some people.

An analysis of representation in crossword puzzles. "Our finding: crossword puzzles are dominated by men of European descent, reserving little space for everyone else."

Online access to the NY Times is now free for all US high school students and teachers until Sept 2021.

Meghan Markle writes about the grief she felt over her miscarriage this summer and connects it to the grief we're all feeling, one way or another, because of the pandemic

Danish Mayfly chosen as 2021’s Insect of the YearEuronews

Moths draped in stealth acoustic cloak evade bat sonar Chemistry World

McKinsey advised Purdue to offer rebates for opioid overdoses Axios

Summary of the Amazon Kinesis Event in the Northern Virginia (US-EAST-1) Region AWS

Presumptions of Tax Motivation

 Emily Cauble (DePaul), Presumptions of Tax Motivation, 105 Iowa L. Rev. 1995 (2020):

Rebuttable presumptions are scattered throughout the Internal Revenue Code and the Treasury Regulations. In many cases, they are employed in service of determining a taxpayer’s motive or state of mind. They are not, however, always utilized when motive or state of mind must be assessed. In some contexts, courts are called upon to examine all relevant facts and circumstances in order to divine a taxpayer’s state of mind – which facts are relevant and the weight to be accorded to various facts are not specified ahead of time except to the extent set forth in judicial precedent. At the other extreme, in yet another subset of situations in which tax outcome turns on motive or state of mind, tax law provides that a given fact establishes an irrebuttable presumption of a given motive. In between the two extremes, tax law makes use of a variety of tools including rebuttable presumptions. When a rebuttable presumption is at work, the proof of a specified fact is deemed to establish the existence of a given state of mind, unless the party who is disadvantaged by that state of mind determination presents sufficient evidence to overcome it.

Corporate Power in Australia

Companies can secure so much economic power they can translate it into the political power, which they use to get laws that further advance their economic power. Continue reading 

Liquidity Risk at Large U.S. Banks NBER. “For 2019 Q4, the revised tests suggest it is unlikely that any of the six banks would survive a liquidity crisis for 30 days. This negative finding is most clear-cut for Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.” Oh.


Fed Chair Powell: Stimulus legislation deserves ‘lion’s share of the credit’ for economy rebound, more would help Yahoo Finance


The City of London’s Supremacy Goes Very Deep Bloomberg

Heinz Klug (Wisconsin), Time for a Social Solidarity Tax?:

Covid-19 is transforming the world, but we do not yet know how much. Across the globe the pandemic has exposed and exacerbated social and economic problems. From medical systems to livelihoods, Covid-19 is revealing how inequality impacts death rates, job losses, education, and housing. In many societies, including the United States, it has also exposed how these gross inequalities fall along racial and ethnic lines, with devastating impacts on marginal individuals, poor and minority communities. This article looks back at the comparative historical experience of wealth taxes and capital levies in Europe and Asia to put the present calls for wealth taxes in perspective and to suggest that a Social Solidarity Tax designed with this history as a guide may be necessary to address the coming economic catastrophe.



Campbell McCullum Money Laundering 



Gladys Berejiklian oversaw fund that set aside $5.5m for project backed by Daryl Maguire 


Australia politics live: NSW hotel quarantine worker tests positive for Covid 

Wednesday, December 02, 2020

China 🇨🇳 the Wolf

 XI’S GOTTA HAVE IT! Twitter is in China’s pocket. If Jack Dorsey won’t flag disputed tweets from CCP agents, he is effectively endorsing their falsehoods

Challenging the wolves: how to reply to Beijing’s tweet

An unexpected tweet from a senior Chinese diplomat on Monday 29 November provided a perfect excuse for the Prime Minister to divert attention from his domestic problems, to praise our gallant defence forces, to refer to our national values, and to stand up to the People’s Republic of China, who, as everyone knows from numerous press reports and commentaries in recent months, has been threatening our trade and undermining our public institutions. Continue reading 

OH: California’s Highest-Paid Govt Employee Worked for Org Tied to Chinese Espionage. “Taxpayers paid $1.7 million to ex-pension fund manager Meng.”

How Prestige NonChinese Journals Remain Elite, Exclusive And Exclusionary - Forbes: “Last week, Nature journals unveiled their “landmark” open-access option. Nature journals will charge authors, starting in January 2021, up to $11,400 to make research papers free to read, as an alternative to subscription-only publishing. Scientists from around the world received this news with outrage and disappointment on social media. Nature’s announcement comes on the heels of their recent “diversity commitment” which pledged “greater representation of currently under-represented groups” in their published content and events, and “faster movement in the direction of equity.” How does Nature’s diversity commitment square with their own fee options? Do elite, prestige journals actually care about equity and diversity? Is Nature, one of the largest and most profitable publishers, leading in addressing inequities and setting an example to other publishers? And what do scientists in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), people who are rarely consulted, think about Nature’s new policy? To address these questions, I consulted 20+ scientists from around the world. 

Their voices matter, as scientists are the most important stakeholder in the publishing industry. I also sought input from Springer Nature, the publisher, to better understand their fee structure which is thought to be the highest of any journal. The Lancet, another high-impact journal (by Elsevier, the publisher), in comparison, charges $5000 for the open-access option. “The fees are outrageous, an impediment to open access, and a huge hurdle for LMIC researchers,” said Mwele Malecela, Director, Neglected Tropical Diseases, World Health Organization…”

Gross contracts written under coercion.  But contracts nonetheless, and informed by agency theory

NYT profile of Shopify

Google discovers a new problem with machine learning?  (Is it new?)  Source paper here.

John McWhorter profile

 Family portrait (photo)

52 things Tom Whitwell learned this year.  Some are disputable, but always a good series

My colleague Walter E. Williams has passed away

Should South Korea allow its K-pop royalty to postpone conscription duties until age 30?  (NYT)

Will not be bullied': citizens around the world told to buy Australian wine in stand against China

 When China threatens Australia, it threatens us all. Standing up for our allies and shared values is sometimes costly but when the drinking is this good, doing nothing to protect our Antipodean friends would not just be immoral, it would be a good bottle wasted.

China is humiliating Australia as an example to others - but the bullying won't last

Beijing controls Chinese-language media agencies in Australia, says intel agency

  • by Nick McKenzieKate Wong and Charlotte Grieve

A display of Australian wines at the China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai on Nov. 5, 2020. China is stepping up pressure on Australia over disputes including its support for a probe into the origin of the coronavirus.

Will not be bullied': citizens around the world told to buy Australian wine in stand against China 🇨🇳 

Millions of people around the world are being urged to buy an Australian bottle of wine or two, as a way of showing Chinese President Xi Jinping that the world will not be intimidated by his "bullying of Australia".

The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), comprising more than 200 MPs from a range of political parties and representing 19 country legislatures, has launched a campaign to convince people to buy and drink Australian wine in December, as a show of solidarity.

More than 200 MPs from 19 different countries are encouraging people to drink Australian wine in protest at ‘authoritarian bullying’

What do a prominent Hong Kong democracy activist, the former prime minister of Sweden and more than 200 parliamentarians from 19 different countries have in common?

They’re all drinking Australian wine to “stand against authoritarian bullying” in response to brutal trade tariffs slapped on the country by China amid an escalating diplomatic standoff.

Kennards’ Self Storage CEO Sam Kennard has put out a call to arms for Australian businesses to fight back and drop suppliers from China

The appeal for a united business front comes in the middle of growing diplomatic tensions between Australia and China, and increased tariffs on Aussie exported goods.

“The Chinese Communist Government has proven to be difficult to trust,” Mr Kennard told NCA NewsWire.

Joe Biden’s incoming administration will “rally” its allies behind Australia as Beijing warns Australia “will pay a price” for siding with the US.

Be very afraid - China threatens ‘lasting punishment’ as Biden backs Australia

Between ports, energy companies, dairy processors, cattle stations, waterfront mansions and country estates – just how much of Australia does China own?

Our biggest trading partner also remains one of our biggest sources of foreign investment, although rising tensionsbetween the two countries have resulted in a sharp drop-off over the past two years.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, China was our ninth-largest foreign investor at the end of 2019 with a total of $78.2 billion, accounting for 2 per cent of the total – however a large amount of Chinese investment comes via Hong Kong, which comes in fifth place with $141 billion, or 3.7 per cent of the total.


A map showing the various uses of Australia land, commissioned by DFAT and China. Picture: DFAT Source: Supplied

How much of Australia does China own?

Not long ago people were cheering all the manufacturing jobs going to China so we could concentrate on what we do best which, I believe, is investing in real estate.

Graeme Finn, St Peters