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2020-08-31      Fixable   

All of this was fixable. The sum total of reforms (a bit simplified, to be fair) is this:

  1. Limit campaign donations:

  • A citizen may only donate to a person for whom (s)he may vote in the next election.
  • The sum total of donations must be a very small amount, allowing access to any person.

2. Limit access to lawmakers:

  • Every meeting with every individual who is not a constituent must be logged and recorded as a permanent record.
  • Every meeti

3. A holder of national office must divest his or her holdings:

  • An exception to this is dwelling real estate or small (very small) business.
  • Real property of little financial value may be retained.
  • Value of previously held stocks, bonds, etc. would be directed to an anonymous and wide-ranging fund directly proportional to the standard holdings within the US citizenry.
  • A non-partisan legal and fiduciary committee would review all transactions of the national officials with veto authority.

2020-07-30      If a Dictatorship were Declared in this Country   

... it would be the duty of every American citizen to devote his/her life to the restoration of Constitutional government.

2020-06-30      The Confederacy   

Let us consider the 11 states that would have stars in the Confederate flag. The first official Confederate flag was the "Stars and Bars" and not the early "Beauregard flag," its successor, the "Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia," or the second ("Stainless Banner") or third ("Bloodstained Banner") official Confederate Flag. Nevertheless, for this calculus, we will consider the listed states as having been under the "Confederate Flag" for the entire period from the official formation of the Confederacy to the surrender of Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Courthouse. This period, from 08 FEB 1861 to 19 APR 1865, lasted 1,521 days. For comparison, the duration from original statehood to formation of the Confederacy is considered along with the time from Lee's surrender to now. The percentage of that total time during which these states claimed to be a part of a separate nation is shown on the right.

Date of
StateDays as USA State (Antebellum)Days as CSA StateDays as Returned USA StatePercentage Confederate
23 MAY 1788South Carolina265581521566951.79%
10 DEC 1817Mississippi15766 1521 56695 2.06%
03 MAR 1845Florida5821 1521 56695 2.38%
14 DEC 1819Alabama15032 1521 56695 2.08%
02 JAN 1788Georgia26700 1521 56695 1.79%
30 APR 1812Louisiana17816 1521 56695 2.00%
29 DEC 1845Texas5520 1521 56695 2.39%
25 JUN 1788Virginia26525 1521 56695 1.79%
15 JUN 1836Arkansas9005 1521 56695 2.26%
21 NOV 1789North Carolina26012 1521 56695 1.81%
01 JUN 1796Tennessee23628 1521 56695 1.86%

An insignificant fraction of total statehood of each was spent under one iteration or another of the various Confederate flags. As such, it would seem there must be some other reason for certain people to venerate this particular part of their collective history.

I wonder what that could be.

2020-06-16      The Confederate Flag   

Today I had a discussion with a colleague on the "Confederate Flag" (the most common representation is not any of the three official iterations of the Confederate Flag). I hope I bored her to tears, but I find the topic interesting. I may have to expound upon this topic.

2020-05-20      Gig Work   

Today I found a author/editor whose work I know complaining that he had been applying for jobs. The context was that he has been a gig worker for some time (to the extent that he may be considered internet famous). I have found the idea of gig work unseemly for as long as I've been aware of it. Like so many things these days, I see it more as a symptom of a systemic problem.

There have long been freelancers. Though the word itself is only from the early 19th century, the concept of mercenary goes back at least to medieval times in Europe, and has analogs in other cultural systems.

The freelancer can be quite a bargain:

  1. The equipment (the "lance") is literally free. A musician or another artist generally brings along the tools of his trade.
  2. The training he brings was already acquired prior to the employment, so it is also free.
  3. The employer generally has little or no obligation to continue compensation after termination.
  4. There is no implied continuity of support before or after the term of employment.
  5. The employer may renegotiate the contract in his favor at his pleasure.

The important feature of the last three points is that there is a required context. This context is that there should be little or no safety net. Any social safety net will work against these features. Insurance - be it unemployment, health, disability, etc. - provides a level of assistance that reduces the level of urgency intrinsic to a spell of unemployment. As such, the bargaining power of the potential employer is greatly reduced.

Since FDR, the Republican Party has made a religion of dismantling the social safety net.

The concept of the "gig," coupled with this weakening of support, allows for the greater power of the employer over the employed. The combined result is the rapid upward transfer of wealth from the employed to the employer.

2020-05-05      I Lied   

I kept trying to revise my model. Unfortunately, it is difficult to cleanly factor in the social distancing and shutdown portion. But this will soon be alleviated, as those in power are apparently angry at the slowing of the upward transfer of wealth that occurs in a shutdown. As such, we will soon resume the exponential rise. Then the 2019 novel corona virus will cease to be referred to colloquially as COVID-19. It will be thenceforth be known as "The American Flu" or something of that flavor.

2020-03-30      I'm Actually Working, I Swear   

I'm working on an analysis. It seems that, despite Trump's criminally late response, there is some good news. While the inaction of the incompetent imbecile and his toadies (along with some good old-fashioned corruption) will kill many Americans, the infection rate seems to be breaking away from a strict exponential growth. While the US will surely become the late-comer epicenter of this plague, It is likely that we will not hit the worsts predictions of my earlier model. As I had stated in my assumptions, the effects of isolation (even limited and voluntary) will help. Most of the country hasn't been hit as hard as New York. Donald has a particular hatred of New York. It was a place where all who knew of him knew him as a fraud. And now this enclave, home to nearly 5% of Americans, will feel death at the hands of a petulant child in the guise of an obese elderly child molester who serves a foreign master.

2020-03-26      Tomorrow, I'll Revisit the Trend   

There was a small amount of good news recently. Today's tally fell short of my initial prediction. Yesterday's tally of 68,211 was markedly less than the rough prediction I had made two weeks prior to that date (100,000). That is good. But all it really means is that the minimal measures taken thus far have slightly curbed the otherwise exponential growth in the infection rate. Tomorrow, I'll try to explain that better with some math. Though I should note that one day after that prediction (and as I type these words) the number of identified COVID-19 cases in the US stands at 85,991.

2020-03-19      How Accurate?   

One week ago today, I made a very rough estimate, based on some assumptions stated in that post. How accurate was that guess?

At that time, 1,000 cases had been identified within the US. My quick calculation was to assume an order of magnitude gain per week for a few weeks (before saturation was approached). So today should have been 10,000 by that calculation.

I had rounded down to be conservative, it seems prematurely. As I type this, the number of cases in the US stands at 14,250.

In the following post, I fitted the past data to an exponential curve. That seemed to paint a darker picture. Then today, the picture was darker yet. I will keep you posted.

Don't watch Fox News, as it is unvarnished propaganda against the United States of America.

2020-03-18      How Would It Spread with No Intervention?   

The following charts are based on the data found at https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/us/ and represent a trend if there were no intervention. That is an important caveat, as the pictures might be otherwise alarming.

First: Fit the raw data to a curve. This is not necessarily the best fit. I fit a curve to each two points from first major spike (02 MAR 2020) to the next to most-recent data point. I compared each such exponential curve to all others to find the best (least-squares) fit. The resulting curve looks to be a pretty good fit.

A least-squares fit of the data (blue dots) to an exponential curve (red line) as of 18 MAR 2020

Second: What do we do with models? We make predictions. Again, this is assuming that NO INTERVENTIONS have taken place. Certainly they have. While nearly nothing has been done by the hamstrung Federal agencies, states, cities, and private companies have been forced to take the reins. Hopefully we will start to see results soon. But for the time being, we probably won't see too much change in the next week. So this might be an accurate look.

Extrapolating out based on the previously described exponential curve

Third: Hopefully, the non-Federal agencies' efforts will have begun to pay off. If not, we could begin to expect something like this in two weeks.

How the exponential growth would look in two weeks, absent any effective mitigation

Fourth: I want to make it absolutely clear that I do not expect this to happen. The Federal organizations will have begun to overcome the sabotage of their capabilities, and state and local organizations will likely have become more efficient. Additionally, at this point, the ocean may no longer be considered infinite. That is to say, as a significant fraction of the population is exposed, the curve must begin to level off. A large fraction will have recovered and will no longer be contagious. A smaller number will have died and will also no longer be contagious. And multiple exposures to an individual from different sources will still only net a single potential infection in that person. That said, this is the point when out health care system would become extremely taxed.

Hopefully, the number of cases will have begun to level off a couple of weeks before we reach this point.

Perhaps tomorrow, I will look at the relative success of South Korea to see the upper end of our optimism.

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