God Dammit people have to get Zika right

Yes, Zika is a horrible health threat. Yes, we really, really, want to do something about it. But we do need to understand it:

Now that the World Health Organization has declared the Zika virus a public health emergency, we must remember one thing: we can’t turn the clock back on globalization. There is no role for travel or trade bans unless we issue mosquitoes passports and restrict their movement – a ridiculous notion.

Almost six million foreigners travel to Brazil every year. It is estimated that another half a million will travel to Brazil for the Olympics, just under half of whom are expected to be Americans. Travellers returning from the Olympics could carry Zika back to the US, but it’s only a matter of time before that happens anyway. With its warm, humid climate, much of the US south is an ideal habitat for the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the transmitter of Zika virus.

No, no and thrice no you stupid fucking idiot. Zika is not about the spread of a particular species of mosquito. It is also not (as Bill Mckibben seems to think) about climate change. It is about the spread of a specific virus among an extant distribution of mosquitos. Just as with malaria outbreaks.

The mozzie feeds on an infected human (or other animal). This infects the mozzie, which then infects the next feeding platform, human or other animal. You can have a vast population of the relevant mozzie and as long as no infected humans (or other animals) enter that population then Zika will not spread. To misappropriate a phrase from elsewhere, there’s a co-dependency here. There is no mozzie to mozzie transmission of Zika, as there isn’t with malaria.

This is hugely important. For, for example, the way to stop it moving from, say, Brazil to the Southern US, where there is that resident mozzie population which could be infected, is to stop people with Zika moving from Brazil to the US.

It’s only if you understand what is actually happening that you can produce a solution. No, I don’t actually recommend banning human travel. But it really is sod all to do with coal burning or even mozzie populations spreading. It’s an infection within extant mozzie populations.

As usual, the bureaucracy comes after the market

Liberal Yank has asked for an opinion on this piece, where Obama has delayed the granting of new coal leases on Federal land out west:

Then last year, mining company Alpha Natural Resources filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Industry giant Arch Coal Inc. followed in early January. Each company has two major mines in Wyoming. Arch’s Black Thunder mine ranks among the largest in the world.

Less than a week after the Arch bankruptcy came the Obama administration moratorium on new coal lease sales.

It targets an Interior Department program that’s been criticized for decades by members of Congress, for allowing mining companies to profit off a taxpayer-owned resource they lease for just pennies per ton through a largely uncompetitive bidding process.

Well, yes, the market seems to be trying to tell people something there. If everyone’s going bust despite only paying pennies per tonne then those resources, in the ground as they are, aren’t in fact worth even pennies per tonne, are they? But more interesting is this:

As it is, the coal companies themselves have been unwilling to lease any new coal in the Powder River Basin for the past three years, due largely to the uncertain market for the fuel.

“The damage has already done by current market conditions and a decision to regulate carbon dioxide,” said Robert Godby, who directs the Center For Energy Economics and Public Policy at the University of Wyoming.

The leasing moratorium, he said, represents “more nails in the coffin. I don’t want to say they’re already dead, but you get the idea.”

The market has (for which read, cheap fracked gas) fucked the business anyway. At which point the correct way to read this is as follows. Obama gets to throw a bone to the environmentalists at absolutely no cost whatsoever to anyone else. Why wouldn’t a politician do that?

The idiots, environmentalists, aren’t bright enough to realise that the reg will make no difference whatsoever and will think they have won something. Everyone else isn’t going to give a shit.

People here will know

There’s something called a “close company”. I get the general drift: something that’s under the control of only a few people, can rather be regarded as an extension of their persons, rather than truly an independent entity, yes?

The tax laws are different. But how are they different?

My assumption is that this is important to the idea of abolishing corporation tax. If we do that then some say that rich peeps will just incorporate and never pay any tax. But isn’t that what this definition of a close company is trying to deal with? If you’re little more than an investment fund for one or a few people, then you get taxed differently anyway?

Jeebus, but this is harsh

A teenage rape victim was allegedly sexually assaulted a second time while in hospital receiving treatment for the original attack in India’s east, police said on Monday, in the latest case of violence against women.
The 15-year-old girl has told police that she was raped on Sunday by a security guard at the hospital where she had been admitted in Jamshedpur city in the impoverished state of Jharkhand.
“We registered a case and arrested the private security guard posted at the hospital after the girl’s complaint and are now awaiting her medical report,” police superintendent Chandan Jha told AFP.

Worthy of a specifically harsh punishment on the (alleged) perpetrator methinks.

Which puts me heavily out of step with current approved thinking of course, for rape is simply rape, there is no “rape, rape” and not “rape, rape”, there is simply “rape”.

Which does not, I’m afraid, quite accord with how I see the world. If a security guard goes pilfering I would expect them to get a heavier punishment than someone who broke in, teenage youth or career crim. So too here.

And whatever the various campaigners say pretty sure that most would agree.

Will the feminists welcome this or reject it?

Or perhaps we should ask which group of feminists will do which:

For women, shedding the pounds can feel like a unending struggle of dieting and exercise with little results.
But a new study suggests that there could be a reason why females find it more difficult to lose weight than men.
Researchers say hormones responsible for regulating appetite, physical activity and energy expenditure work differently in the sexes.

Simple observation of our fellow humans means that this should not surprise. And even a little bit of thinking about how child creation works would show that it’s not greatly surprising either. A woman does rather need to gain weight in order to produce the next generation in a manner that a man does not.

Not that this explains this specific mechanism: but that there might be a difference in weight regulation doesn’t surprise in the slightest.

So, is this a jet of of jail free card for the fatty lardbuckets? I’m female, you know, it’s my brain? Or will there be an absolute rejection in the sense that of course there can be no differences between male and female?

How absolutely wonderful: free speech and the left

Certain subjects – race, immigration and Islam in particular – attract an unacceptable level of toxic commentary, believes Mary Hamilton, our executive editor, audience. “The overwhelming majority of these comments tend towards racism, abuse of vulnerable subjects, author abuse and trolling, and the resulting conversations below the line bring very little value but cause consternation and concern among both our readers and our journalists,” she said last week.

As a result, it had been decided that comments would not be opened on pieces on those three topics unless the moderators knew they had the capacity to support the conversation and that they believed a positive debate was possible.

The policy would be worldwide, applying to our UK, US and Australia offices, as the issues were global. And, where they were open, it was likely that threads would close sooner than the typical three-day window. “We want to host conversations where there is a constructive debate, where our audience can help us broaden our journalism with their expertise, their knowledge, their considered thoughts and opinions, and where they can use our site as a platform to make connections with the world and with those around them,” added Hamilton.

This was not a retreat from commenting as a whole, she said; it was an acknowledgement, however, that some conversations had become toxic at an international level – “a change in mainstream public opinion and language that we do not wish to see reflected or supported on the site”.

The joy is that of course they’ve entirely missed the very point of having such comments.

Which is to burst the bubble in which the original writers are living. The true glory of CiF in the first place was the mystification which writers greeted commenters. What? The peasantry do not agree with me? Are not being guided by what I was told over the polenta yesterday? Have ideas and desires that do not accord with bien pensant thinking? It was exactly this which led to the famed Polly’s shout of pendant at me.

Prior to this direct readership feedback they might get the occasional letter to the editor in green ink. But those were carefully not passed on to actual writers: rather, kept as pleasures of the editorial desk if they were particularly juicy. No, really, the pronunciamentos, people really did believe they were speaking for the nation. This is true of right and left: simply because all were so insulated. The demotic papers, The Sun, Mirror, they did better. But The Guardian, as an example, really just didn’t know what people out there were thinking. They were reflecting the world they knew, that upper middle class lefty view, and really, really, did not know what the majority thought.

That’s what those comments woke them up to. It was glorious.

For the decade it lasted.

What a difference two days makes, eh?

On Saturday the Murphmonster said:

And there are also those who like to say that the charge is passed on to the customers or the employees of companies. I think the evidence for that is remarkably weak: if the tax charge could be got rid of so easily then I have no doubt at all that much less effort would be put into avoiding it.

On Monday, the Lord High Tax Denouncer said:

The fact is that corporation taxes are like democracy, easily the worst way of taxing the income earned by companies that will at some unpredictable date in the future become the income of others

And yes, the Murphmonster and the Lord High Tax Denouncer are indeed the same person.

Just came across Jacob Collier

And there’s obviously great talent there, even if it’s not quite my thing.

But after I’d flicked through a few videos, sampling this and that, sure, OK, a capella versions, multiple overdubbing by one voice, sure, it’s been done and this is being done very well. Whoever did “Don’t Worry” was doing the same thing.

Then it struck me what was really odd. Hearing versions of jazz and soul standards being sung with an English accent.

That’s really weird.

Err, Zoe?

Were we minded to discuss a post-capitalist sharing economy, in which renewable energy moved freely across borders and the fruits of technological advance moved beyond appropriation by monopolies, this would be the place to start.

Umm, what does that actually mean?

Umm, I mean, in our current capitalist economy renewable energy freely moves across borders. Iceland exports hydro power by smelting aluminium, as does Quebec (and has done for many decades). Danish wind power gets stored in Norwegian lakes. What is there about capitalism which makes you think that energy doesn’t cross borders?

And, err, the fruits of technological advance are rather enjoyed by those with a smartphone in their pockets, aren’t they?

So, err, what the fuck is it that you’re talking about?

Don’t go near any gas stations Donald

The only time I met Donald Trump told me all I needed to know. It was at an American Red Cross dinner-dance to raise money to fight cancer, held at his opulent Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach a few years ago. It was of course extremely generous of him to lay on the place gratis for the night – there was a synchronized swimming display in the swimming pool, I remember – and the evening did indeed raise over $5 million, but in personally deciding the placement for the dinner he did something so unforgivable that the real man was exposed in all his egotistical vulgarity.

He sat his wife at the same table as a lady – and I must be careful here – who several of his friends present strongly believed to be his mistress. The rest of us at the table were dumbfounded and embarrassed; Trump himself obviously found it amusing as he ruined the evening for both pneumatic and almost identical women. The obscene self-regard of the man was laid bare for us all.

It is something that would not even have been done by the statesman who most closely resembles Donald Trump in history, Benito Mussolini, who at least respected the outward appearances of marriage in his most Catholic of countries. Otherwise, Mussolini – the other master of the ludicrously bombastic speech and the deliberately jutting jaw and the impossible-to-fulfil promises – is clearly Trump’s secret template. And now the Iowa caucus looks like being the first step of the Trumpian equivalent of Mussolini’s infamous March on Rome.

That he’s not a gentleman is obvious. but the idea that a boorish billionaire might have a mistress is not beyond the bounds of possibility, is it?

However, Mussolini is a bit over egging that pudding, don’t you think? Bernie’s rather closer in his economics: you can have everything for free if we just take it off those other guys.

Idiot sodding bureaucracy

Yes, yes, we know what the rules are and we know why they’re there:

The problem stems from the fact that state law says the officer loses the right to directly buy the animal if he leaves the force while the dog “is still fit for duty” and the animal remains the property of the city of Marietta, where Mr Hickey is based.
“Because it is personal property, it is treated like a shovel. That’s just the way it is,” Paul Betram, Marietta Law Director, told WBNS.

So, the retiring police dog handler has raised money on the internet to buy his police dog as he retires. All cool, right?

No, of course not. Because the correct way to deal with this is through society, not rules. Yes, sure, we’ve got to have the rule so that the Governor’s idiot nephew doesn’t get to walk away with the State House when he retires from his job that lasts only as long as his Uncle’s does.

But the solution here is that we have a little bit of socially approved collusion, the auction is held, one person bids $1, Officer Hickey bids $2, the first bidder folds and 5,000 on watching locals cheer loudly, wipe away the occasional tear and dog and master potter off for a celebratory hot dog on the way to their well earned retirement.

As Elinor Ostrom pointed out to gain her Nobel in societies above a certain size we really do need to have property ownership laws. It’s only smaller ones where there’s a web of connections, Polayni’s mutual debts perhaps, which can get away with the societal and mutual enforcement of property rules.

Marietta Ohio, with 14,000 people, is too large for Ostrom’s mutual enforcement to work. The number of people in Marietta Ohio who would want to purchase a working police dog is small enough that it would indeed work. Because there would be sufficient social outrage against anyone who outbid Hickey.

We can even test this. Could we have a Bateman cartoon with the caption “The man who outbid the retiring police dog handler”? Could we imagine an Ealing comedy that starts with the auction and then the reaction of everyone in the town to the buyer who did outbid? With, of course, the inevitable denouement that he’s a bit of a bad one, the dog dobs him in and the handler makes the citizen’s arrest which jugs him.

Yes, we could indeed imagine both (we’ll get Steve to write the script for us). So, therefore, we think that such societal solutions would indeed work. Our deeper point being perhaps, as those Ealing films made so often, that sure there have to be rules. But the important thing is to know when to subvert them.

There’s a reason for this

Government spending is 97.8% of GDP.

By 2008 unemployment had risen to 94%

That being:

A white Zimbabwean farmer has been handcuffed and forcibly removed from his farm after police stormed the property to enforce a claim made by a British doctor.
Phillip Rankin was first ordered off his tobacco farm in September last year following a claim for land made by Dr Sylvester Nyatsuro, who was born in Zimbabwe but now has British citizenship.
….
Dr Nyatsuro, a 45-year-old GP who runs a slimming clinic in Nottingham, arrived at the tobacco farm, Kingston Deverill, in September with a letter from the government allocating the land to him.
Political sources in Harare suggested the doctor – whom Mr Rankin said was accompanied by his wife, Veronica and government officials, had family connections to Grace Mugabe, the president’s wife.

It’s not all that difficult. Take productive assets from those who use them productively and hand them over to those who have no fucking clue and your economy goes down the toilet.

This is true whatever we want to say about race, colonialism, socialism, or Uncle Tom Cobbleigh. It’s just fucking lunacy.