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1) I've lost a ton of respect for a ton of public intellectuals over the last few months, mainly for abusing their credentials to win little epistemic status games that in aggregate add up to a very distorted version of reality for the information consumer.
2) Petty epistemic status games are endemic on globe twitter. Lots of insecure personalities with significant enough positions to influence public opinion but not enough character to challenge shoddy received narratives. HCQ vs Remdesivir is a great example of this dynamic.
3) It's deeply disappointing to see how many people instinctively reach for cope and comfort rather than engagement and action when presented with situational adversities like the ones we all share right now. It's really dangerous to have too much of the population act like that.
4) Cope is dangerous because cope can be a backdoor to authoritarianism. It's really easy to exploit the feeling of relief that most people get when they convince themselves that an authority has the situation under control.
5) No group of people in the US is more primed to accept and promote authoritarianism than mainstream progs. If that wasn't obvious before these lockdowns happened it should be now. If it isn't obvious now, sorry, you've got an authoritarian personality.
6) You know who doesn't have an authoritarian personality? The boogboi with a rifle and a "Don't Tread On Me" patch hanging out at your state capitol. I don't support occupying public buildings, but I also don't have so many brainworms that I think that that's fascist behavior.
7) Running around with a gun yelling about how the cops better not come after people who are opening their salons early is about as far away from authoritarian as it gets. That that is associated with "fascism" in the press is real testament to the level of prog hegemony.
8) While I sympathize with people who want to reopen their businesses I don't think you need a militia QRF to do it. You certainly don't need a militia QRF to cover morons screaming about 5G and "Mark of the Beast" vaccines.
9) People continue to have trouble with the concept that multiple things can be bad at the same time. This is an evergreen problem, but its impact is heightened in situations like the one we face right now. Another case of cognitively "running home to mommy" cope.
10) These shortages really spook me. Our supply chains are way more brittle than normies realize. They've been changing the layout of the grocery store I go to to make it look normal, but there's only about half of the product that used to be on the shelves.
11) One thing that got my gears turning the other day was the 30% drop in bottled fruit smoothie prices, which indicate a upstream market collapse. I don't think a lot of the growers are going to plant crops anytime soon given these conditions.
12) Logistical problems take time to materialize. We won't experience the consequences of a fruit market collapse in the form of acute shortages for a month or two, but rest assured, they're coming. And when they do I think a lot of people will get really scared.
13) We'll be able to work through the concrete aspects of these problems given resources and time, but the abstract, psychological impact is what really worries me. Is our society gonna be able to handle things visibly falling apart everywhere at once?
14) More importantly, can the authorities handle it? The potential for overreaction and misbehavior on the part of the average American cop is unacceptable even under regular circumstances. These are not regular circumstances.
15) Every police officer I've interacted with in the past few months is noticeably shook. The thin blue line is awfully thin, and they know it better than anybody else. Combine that with a habit for acting like the suburbs are Iraq and you can see the potential for problems.
16) Last week somebody tried to break into the lower level of my building. Since I was pretty sure it was just a few hobos scavenging I hit the lights started yelling at them and they ran off. Once they had time to split I called the cops to take a look for damage.
17) Within five minutes there were three SUVs and two squad cars with a total of about fifteen cops, and *they* broke into the building to search it. The funny thing is that I didn't even call 911, I called 311 and got transferred without asking to be. Complete overreaction.
18) One thing that I thought I'd see more of is companies leaning into the abnormality of everything from an operational perspective. There are precious few large firms who looked at this situation and said "yes, now is our time to adapt faster than everyone else".
19) Do investment banks *really* need offices to function, or do investment bankers need offices to see and be seen? So many companies could go full remote permanently, but everybody still seems to be committed to returning to "normal", whatever that's supposed to mean.
20) I know of very few software companies that couldn't go full remote permanently. I'm not predicting any historic shift at this point though, mainly because I thought we'd see most tech firms commit to permanent full remote in week one of the lockdowns, and that didn't happen.
21) As Adam says, the parallels to Gulf War II and Katrina are striking. Absolutely none of what we're seeing is a novel failure mode.
22) We see in recent history a correlation between high outdoor temperatures and civil unrest. It's likely that this will be a very hot summer politically, given the other pressures covid exerts. And if people riot, who can really blame them? Things are spinning out of control.
23) The poor have a right to be angry, and while they don't have a right to lash out violently it's totally understandable if they do. The society that failed them for decades is failing them again in their time of acutest need.
24) Whenever I see the lines at food banks I think "the future is here, it's just not evenly distributed yet".
25) The Discourse is fouler than ever, in particular the smug condescension aimed at people who question the necessity of strict lockdowns. When the history of this is written it won't look kindly on those who decided to impose a depression on top of a pandemic.
26) The argument that there is a direct tradeoff between the level of allowed economic activity and human life is one of the most simplistic, fear-driven, fact-free pieces of reasoning I've ever heard, and it is established blue tribe orthodoxy at this point.
27) The lockdowns continue because nobody at any level of government has a plan other than protracted martial law. No central quarantine, no mass testing, no tracing project, no rules for firms to restart safely. Just martial law and politically determined "essential business".
28) Meanwhile we're sending positive cases home to infect their families. We're cramming people into centralized supermarkets that become hotzones. We're not applying pathogen control measures that were well understood by medieval port cities centuries before we had germ theory.
29) National test and trace isn't gonna happen soon enough, because we didn't start in January. Central quarantine likely won't happen in enough places to matter. The idea that the state is even capable of executing effectively against this virus is a dangerous pipe dream.
30) What's most infuriating about this is that Hong Kong, a failed state, beat this thing down with little to no serious government attention to the problem in the early stages. Everybody masked up, stopped sending their kids to school, and started disinfecting touchpoints.
31) Covid never took off in Hong Kong because the people led the effort. The state had very little work to do when they actually kicked into gear. Mass adoption of pathogen defense is the silver bullet, but there has been no attempt to do that in the US.
32) If we do ever adopt a defense in depth strategy in the West I expect comprehensive gaslighting from the established institutions, just like what happened with masks, or what could easily happen if hydroxychloroquine trials work out. Nobody will learn the lesson.
33) That inability to learn lessons even at tremendous cost is precisely why we need to completely replace most of our institutions. We had our chance for incrementalism and we squandered it. Now we have our chance to be nonviolently revolutionary. Let's hope we use it.
34) Stasis is not a thing in politics. You can have relatively stable conditions for long periods of time, but things are constantly shifting in all manner of dimensions. There is no status quo ante that we can return to. No changes are permanent, but change is.
35) I just don't understand the thought process that feeds into wanting to ban guns while simultaneously being terrified of political rivals who have guns that aren't going away even in a ban scenario. Why not arm up yourself? Is it just hoplophobia? Why do most progs think this?
36) I've been thinking a lot lately about Georgism and its prospects. The wave of neo-Georgist thought characterized by the Weyl-Posner work is still building, but to what end I'm not sure. They present an excellent grab bag of ideas, but with few paths to implemention.
37) I think Georgism and the land value tax was kneecapped by the emergence of the far less just, far easier to manipulate income tax regimes that we have today, and I think that kneecapping happened because the oligarchs of the time wanted it to.
38) The New York Times is a hereditary monarchy.
39) Major universities have similar corruption patterns to the monastic estates of the Renaissance.
40) 20th century prog institutions increasingly resemble a decayed ancien regime.
41) The fact that people have a hard time thinking about the possible outcomes of drastic political change over short periods of time is exactly what makes those moments of dramatic change dangerous.
43) Blue tribe people should understand that the charitable explanation for shutdown fetishism is that supporters are out of touch and don't understand the conditions being experienced on the ground. The less charitable explanation is increasingly the consensus among some people.
44) By the time early March came around even I was supportive of a multiweek national service industry lockdown and office work-from-home order. Most firms were sending their staff home anyway. We needed to buy time to scale up a response. And then nobody in government did shit.
45) Think about that. We shut down the entire economy. People mostly complied, knowing they were putting their livelihoods at risk, out of genuine civic and humanitarian spirit. And the bureaucrats at every level of government pissed away the time that we bought them.
46) Why should we trust these institutions with anything ever again? Why should we trust the alphabet soup to do its job in any matter of consequence? What titanic failures happen under the surface and never float to the top for the public to see?
47) Action and inaction have consequences, and those consequences always play out one way or another. We've had zero accountability for the institutions that have steered our society into disaster after disaster over the last few decades. This will all eventually come to a head.
48) When it does, the people in the institutions who slept through this had better hope the reckoning stays limited to hearings, sackings, and new names for some agencies. I have a feeling it's gonna go a lot further than that, and I just hope things stay peaceful.
49) Young people in DC need to pick what side of this they plan to be on, because the barbarians are gonna be at the gates soon and it's not gonna go well for people who don't throw the doors open. You really don't want to be a part of Team Status Quo Ante.
50) My immediate family's quarantine morale is high. That said, there's a lot of rational concern about the next month, mainly on the economic and political side.
51) Been thinking a lot about quarantine morale as a measurable thing. You could gauge response to various degrees of lockdown with phone and email surveys. I'd imagine freely available public sentiment data on that sort of stuff would be useful to a wide range of groups.
52) When I worked in polling we did a lot of data collection on forward-looking sentiment in specific emotional terms and then layered health data over it. Sicker areas were more negative in aggregate, which makes sense. Thinking about how we could measure that right now.
53) One thing I'd like to look for is a "Blitz mentality" with regard to quarantine, and what that might look like relative to peoples own expectations about outcomes over time.
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