A new sandpit for long side discussions, conspiracy theories, idees fixes and so on.

To be clear, the sandpit is for regular commenters to pursue points that distract from regular discussion, including conspiracy-theoretic takes on the issues at hand. It’s not meant as a forum for visiting conspiracy theorists, or trolls posing as such.

19 thoughts on “Sandpit

  1. This is a bit like an open letter to J.Q. on “The Economic Consequences of the Pandemic”. I believe this was the working title of the book projected and commenced by Professor John Quiggin. However, this project fell through, up until now at least. In writing the comments below I am going to make a few suppositions and few recommendations. If I am wrong in any way I am open to correction(s).

    It seems to me that the key problem which undermined J.Q.’s project was an unforeseen event or complex of events. Few if any of us foresaw what would happen. I certainly didn’t foresee it in all its florid emergence and horrible ramifications. This event or complex of events was the almost complete abandonment of all public health and infectious disease control knowledge and standards; knowledge and standards built up over something like 150 years. In their place we got a leaky vaccine for a rapidly mutating virus and… nothing else that lasted or was maintained. Testing, tracing, isolating and masking were abandoned. Quarantining and hepa-filtering of public and workplace indoor air were never attempted in any serious manner.

    It was a process of near total capitulation to the virus, a process led by our business and political elites and by the lamentably numerous professional sell-outs in the medical, ID (infectious disease) and epidemiological professions and even in parts of the economic profession, namely in the neoliberal parts. The holdouts or mavericks, many warning of serious dangers right from the start, were relatively rare and the propaganda and misinformation war then began in earnest.

    There were also savage media and social media attacks and even personal threats aimed at a number of prominent scientists and other prominent persons who continued to advocate for measures from N95 masks and hepa filters to proper testing and isolation policies supported by public funding making masks and test-kits free and paying isolation pay to the unemployed and working poor. Predictably, female scientists and other prominent females advcating for very feasible and scientifically supportable control measures re C-19 copped the absolute worst of the vicious vitriol and attempts at sabotaging their reputations, professional and personal, in the eyes of their employers and colleagues.

    However, even all of the above is not my main focus. We need first to look at the concerted campaign to minimize the dangers of Covid-19 and to press the “open up at any costs” policy which killed millions of people in the developed world alone and is still killing people at a rate which now makes C-19 the third ranked cause of death in many developed countries. Important in this campaign were the Koch foundation, the GBD (Great Barrington Declaration) and its sponsor, the Brownstone Institute, among others. It was this business and elite mass disinformation campaign which reverberated through the world, galvanizing a horde of science-denialists, trolls and bots to amplify all their patently false propaganda: patently false in scientific and science-congruent economic terms.

    The problem went deeper of course and there has been overwhelming use of heavy US and neoliberal pressure on the WHO from at least the 2009-10 Swine flu (H1N1)pandemic to NOT declare that a pandemic. The precedent was established that there was to be heavy pressure to not declare global pandemics or certainly to not declare them early enough to do any good in preventing the early exponential growth of the pandemic. The raison d’être was that “the economy”, meaning of course those parts of the economy which funnel wealth to the already wealthy, was to continue at all costs and with no changes. The costs were to be born by the poor, vulnerable and dispossessed in the form of higher death and illness rates and the descent into ever worse poverty. Even this is all preamble to my main point but certainly grist for introductory scene-setting chapters in any book like “Precursors and Consequences of the Covid-19 Pandemic”.

    John Quiggin predicted very early in the pandemic that economic and health policies tending to the technical elimination, if not technical eradication (by standard scientific definition), of the virus do in the economic jargon “predominate” in theory and indeed would be proven to predominate in practice if applied. This has turned out to be true, empirically true. There are now enough data for J.Q. or any economist worth their salt to fully prove the case to anyone driven by real data and not by ideology. We have the data of the different performances from different countries (the economics and health data) which adopted different policies for a period: the period where some kept C-19, by and large, out of their population. Australia and New Zealand are two examples. Sth. Korea and Japan are two more. I refer here to countries with reasonably reliable data.

    Both the health data, including that for quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) and the economic data (for net economic costs and economic cost estimates for lost QALYs) demonstrate that costs of controlling the pandemic properly were and far less than the costs of letting it run rampant have turned out to be. Both courses has net costs. The let-it-rip course has far higher costs. This is now provable and has already been shown to be so in some preliminary studies. QED. A book length exposition and proof, along with attendant lessons would be marvelous and much needed.

    Such a book is needed to set the historical record straight. The misinformation machine proceeds apace. The great lies about C-19 being both mild and intrinsically uncontrollable and about it being economically and even “humanitarian-ly” better to let it run rampant for the sake of “the economy” continue to foisted on the public. Many of the realities and data about the real impact of C-19 continue to be actively hidden and data even deliberately not collected. It will take ten or twenty years to change the current false narrative on the virus and get the truth fully told for history and posterity. Some seminal books to kick off this process are sorely needed. Raina MacIntyre’s book “Dark Winter: is the forensic epidemiology one. J.Q.s “Precursors and Consequences of the Covid-19 Pandemic” (advocated by importunate me) is another book required, the economic one.

    The real pandemic took such a bad turn, catalyzed by the extraordinary anti-humanitarian, anti-economic and anti-science policies of the global neoliberal network of international governance, that the rug was quite pulled out from under J.Q.’s first projected book. The grounds or base of what was happening got so rapidly and continuously worse, there was no new settled empirical base-line for several years for how bad things could become from the idiotically and perversely bad policy. Nobody predicted or could have predicted, I think, how bad things could get. Anyone predicting that policy would become as absurd and anti-logical as it turned out to be and that we would abandon 150 years of public health and infectious disease control principles, simply would not have been believed. We had to plumb the nadir of this insanity to get the true baseline for a book such as J.Q. projected.

    I think it is crucially important that the terrible and self-serving lies of the “continue to let it rip” industry be refuted. This must be done for history and posterity. Equally, the venal liars and professional turncoats, abandoning their professions’ deepest scientific and ethical tenets for the pay and prominence and of playing the neoliberal fiddle and getting the pubic to dance to their St Vitus jig, should be exposed for posterity, not by name necessarily but exposition of their false methods. In time, if the truth is told properly, history will excoriate them, if we have any future history left.

    J.Q., you have referred to writing every day for writing practice. I hopefully view your current writing for alternative and social media as “the work of your left hand” (a Miltonic reference which assumes right-handedness). You have at least one more important work to do. You are fitted for the task. I hope you are still well and fit for the task. If not you, then who?

  2. Ikon says “If not you, then who?”.

    Very LLM’s ^ Glen Weyl et al may assist (the probably overwrought JQ.).

    Hyperbaton (figures of speech), fables, Snark & Irony etc detection, emergent from big – very big – LLM’s!

    “The Unpredictable Abilities Emerging From Large AI Models

    March 16, 2023

    “Large language models like ChatGPT are now big enough that they’ve started to display startling, unpredictable behaviors.

    “137 emergent abilities of large language models

    Nov 14 
    Written By Jason Wei

    ‘PaLM 540B (25 tasks): analogical similarity, causal judgment, code line description, crass ai, cs algorithms, elementary math qa, english russian proverbs, geometric shapes, hyperbaton, identify odd metaphor, international phonetic alphabet nli, language identification, logical fallacy detection,logical sequence, movie dialog same or different, physics questions, question selection, temporal sequences, understanding fables, unit interpretation, snarks, english proverbs, timedial, hinglish toxicity, vitaminc fact verification

    I wonder if LLM’s may provide an answer to homeless policy?

    Maybe we can test outcome using:

    Glen Weyl et al “… in every equilibrium of this quadratic-transfers mechanism, each agent’s transfer converges to zero, and the probability that the efficient outcome is chosen converges to one.”

  3. No need to get too “testicle” (technical) as my brother would say. 😉 The proofs of the failure of neoliberal pandemic policy (ethically, medically and economically) are basic albeit the data are extensive and would need to be assembled and chained together in a logically argued case to generate the understanding and assent of the intelligent lay reader.

    Correction to my original post: I used “predominate” when I think I should have used “dominate” with respect to policy choices. It is just such gaffes as these that make lay boofheads like me look stupid, along with my typos and excessive flights of rhetoric of course. I still think my suggestion has merit but it is importunate of course. I rather suspect well-known Professors are often pestered with “good ideas” by students and cranks. The students have some excuse.

    “For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?” – Mr. Bennett in “Pride and Prejudice”, Jane Austen.

  4. Mental health and New Year resolutions. How are your resolutions going? At the start of this year I adopted New Year resolutions on the following basis.

    A. Habits or behaviors exist in a complex system.
    B. To change one big thing successfully while changing nothing else is rare.
    C. Better to make a connected network of micro-resolutions to establish new habits.

    Accordingly, I resolved to and remained successful at;

    (1) Cut coffees per day to 2 (down from 5) and substitute weak teas and even decaf teas for the others. Plus drink water more rather than juices or beverages.
    (2) Cut 1 teaspoon of sugar per cup to 1/2 teaspoon per cup.
    (3) Stop putting sugar on cereal.
    (4) Cut social media and blog use. Abandoned Twitter. Blog on 1/3 the blogs I used to.
    (5) Increase my share of housework by small adjustments.
    (6) Increase daily exercise by small adjustments.
    (7) Regularize bedtime and eat healthier.
    (8) Increase mental exercise.

    This leveraged my obsessive-compulsive aspect without getting out of hand. I continue to pay slightly obsessive or “gestalt” attention to all these details. Slipping up for one day here or there in one thing is no big deal and no great failure or “sin”. One simply goes back to doing that little thing right again.

    I tried self-teaching math but this did not hold me. I have as yet unresolved issues about disliking math and I have no need for advanced math in retirement. I got a 5 and a 4 in Math A and B respectively in Senior and a 7 in Physics, 6 in Chemistry. I can do all the practical math I need.

    Instead, I started playing chess again after many years. There are excellent free sites and free self-guided tuition on line. I am still quite mediocre at the game but have discovered that getting better at it than I was in my youth should be a realistic goal.

    Although I enjoy chess, I am lazy at calculations, preferring to use heuristics, instincts, gambles and a bit of opening memorization. This does not take one far. Being lazy and poor at calculations is exactly the reason I hate math. Chess calculations are different but are still calculations. However, this time round I am doing calculation exercises in chess (puzzles, visualizations, memorization exercises, pattern familiarizations and I intend to eventually attempt to learn “method of loci” memory techniques to assist). These are the hard yards I never attempted when a young chess player.

    What’s the point? I actually enjoy chess so that’s a start. I’m motivated to study to get better. Currently, my only problems are probably studying too hard (6 to 8 hours a day) and making too slow a progress. My old brain is very rusty but it seems at classical time limits (I would call them “fast classical”) I am already better than 70% of chess players (a self-selected and probably younger demographic). This is after starting seriously about a month ago.

    The interesting thing was that initially I was not so much teaching myself chess as finding all the resources and teaching myself how to teach myself chess. I am doing a lot of error and blunder diagnosis too: using analytics tools to highlight weaknesses and mistake areas and then work on them. The free tools available for this are amazing.

    The real point is keeping the brain active and making new synapse connections if I can in old age. And just enjoying a pursuit. Sometimes, escape into an abstract pursuit is the only answer to the insanity of this world.

    Chess might not be your thing. But the thing you can escape into must be physically and/or mentally active. I.E. is must NOT be being a coach potato, snacking and binge-watching streaming services. That’s my two-bob’s worth. Have a good day. Remember, resolutions are re-solutions.

  5. Via a media dragon.
    “DEMOCRACY REPORT 2023 #Defiance in the Face of #Autocratization. “Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) produces the largest global dataset on #democracy with over 31 million data points for 202 countries from 1789 to 2022. Involving almost 4,000 scholars and other country experts, V-Dem measures hundreds of different attributes of democracy. “….

    Click to access V-dem_democracyreport2023_lowres.pdf

    AI Ephemera. There will be a million sites like;
    “Let AI debate your own topic”

    Coming soon –
    “Argument – Monty Python

  6. Fight fire with fire.
    And Thiel with Thiel.
    And Overton with Overton.

    Go outside the window.

    I am trying to influence a Teacher Union rep to broaden their perceived supporters and retest / nuance the messages used to gain support from ‘us’. I currently have skin in the game. And am preparing a multi pronged GIPA -FOI – request / complaint.

    A takeaway from our conversations was “If the NSW Coalition government wins this weekend,  public education is finished”. Such a doomer claim defeats and depresses. One quadrant allows change makers to be effective and “None of the other quadrants are effective.”.

    This article “We need the right kind of climate optimism” credits the quadrant to ‘Peter Thiel’s book Zero to One”. Me thinks the writer hasn’t credited others including;

    “Overton was an ardent libertarian, and while associated with the Mackinaw Center in Midland, he promoted and studied free-market principles for over ten years while travelling to more than a dozen countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America.[6] One of his other responsibilities was fund-raising. In order to explain what think tanks do, in the 1990s he designed a brochure to illustrate the range of policies politically acceptable to the mainstream at a given time.[8] That idea eventually became known as the Overton window, and his lasting legacy.[4] He opined that it is the responsibility of think-tanks to propose policies outside the window and shift the window.”

    “We need the right kind of climate optimism

    “Climate pessimism dooms us to a terrible future. Complacent optimism is no better.

    “Scaring people into action doesn’t work. That’s true not just for climate change, air pollution, and biodiversity loss, but for almost any issue we can think of. We need optimism to make progress — yet that alone isn’t enough. To contend with environmental crises and make life better for everyone, we need the right kind of optimists: those who recognize that the world will only improve if we fight for it.

    “A framework for bringing about societal change

    “To understand what sort of thinking does drive positive change, we can imagine a framework for how people conceptualize the future and their ability to shape it.

    “Credit where it’s due: I first saw a version of this concept in the venture capitalist Peter Thiel’s book Zero to One. He presented it in the context of entrepreneurship, but it tied perfectly with my experiences in the environmental space. I’ve adapted it.

    “My framework has two axes. On one axis, we have “level of optimism,” spanning from optimistic to pessimistic. People who think the future will be much better are on one end, and those who think it will be much worse are on the other.

    “On the other axis, we have “changeability.” This reflects how much people think the future can be shaped by the decisions we make today. People who think the world is changeable believe they have an agency to mold it, while those who think it’s unchangeable believe we’re on a predetermined path and that trying to shape the future is futile.

    “This gives us four quadrants — but only one really matters for our purposes. The “optimistic and changeable” box is where people who move the world forward fall. We need more people in there. None of the other quadrants are effective. By exploring the characteristics of each person, we’ll see why.

  7. Proposition 1: “Climate pessimism dooms us to a terrible future. Complacent optimism is no better.”

    Observation – Proven empirically correct to date.

    Proposition 2 – “Scaring people into action doesn’t work.”

    Observation – Proven empirically correct when the attempted scare is verbal, logical and/or scientific. Proven empirically incorrect when the scare or danger is physical and thus visceral. Climate change’s real results will scare people into action when they suffer harm, ruin and terror. Real harm, ruin and terror do scare people into action. However, the action can be too late, especially for exponential and runaway processes.

    People will start doing something when the majority clearly see that most of them are going to suffer imminent ruination. One can wish, hope, plan and try to act to bring about action in another way, in a preemptive way. Yes, we can and should try to do that. Telling people ruin is coming will begin to work when they begin to see clearly that it is coming… for them. So the Jeremiahs and Cassandra must keep warning and agitating until a sea change brings a sea change. See what I did there?

  8. Ikonoclast: – “Telling people ruin is coming will begin to work when they begin to see clearly that it is coming… for them.

    Thanks, Iko. But I think for many, it’s not “see clearly that it is coming… for them,” but more like “…see clearly that it HAS ARRIVED… FOR THEM.”

    I think some people need to experience actual personal hardship before modifying their behaviour. For something like the climate crisis, where climate outcomes are ‘locked-in’ for perhaps decades before manifesting, that will be too late.

    You may wish to view the YouTube video titled Loss Aversion | Frankly #25, published Mar 11, duration 0:10:56. Nate Hagens reflects on his experiences in the financial industry with the cognitive bias Loss Aversion and the ways it may manifest to the coming material throughput declines during The Great Simplification. Why do losses feel so much stronger to us than gains – even when we have an overabundance of wealth? Can being aware of this evolved psychological trait diffuse its intensity? How does this affect our ability to perceive and plan for the reality of less available energy and resources in the future?

    From time interval 0:07:11 Nate says:

    Loss aversion also shapes our cultural stories and our paths, like the Green New Deal and other such fixes, are popular because as a culture, we’re not willing to give up anything that we’ve become accustomed to possessing, which means we limit ourselves to a subset of responses that actually can’t physically work. So, I’ve often said that PV and wind turbines and other things can power a decent civilization, just not this one. But loss aversion keeps us from looking at pathways that might really work.

  9. Ikon, maybe we should consider becoming performance artists! Seriously. I’ll be the spruiker and safety officer. You smash. Excellent therapy.

    What can we smash to demonstrate “The Consequences of the Pandemic”?
    Porcelain miniatures of old / disabled / vaccine apartheid effected people?
    Effigies of hospitals – when smashed gold spills out?
    Locks when smashed free helium balloons with famous libertarians on them?

    “Unwittingly, they all became players in Lay’s performance, illustrating his moral point. Philadelphians cared more passionately about the safety and sanctity of objects than they did about that of other human beings.”

    “A Paradise for All
    “The relentless radicalism of Benjamin Lay.

    “On a March day in 1742, a very unusual man set up a table on a busy Philadelphia street. Benjamin Lay was sixty-one years old, wore humble homespun clothes, and sported a long beard. His head was large and his eyes luminous, but his posture and height immediately set him apart: he had a stooped back and stood a little over four feet tall. He carefully laid out a few teacups and saucers, delicate objects that had been treasured by his wife before she passed away, and then proceeded to smash them with a hammer, crushing the dishes with dramatic flair. With each loud blow, bits of ceramic flying, he denounced the “tyrants” in India and the Caribbean who mistreated the workers who harvested the tea and enslaved the people who produced the sugar that his Pennsylvania neighbors consumed.

    “Oblivious to his words, passers by responded to his deeds with shock and indignation. Some implored Lay to hand over the porcelain wares for safekeeping, while others offered to purchase the set or dashed to grab the cups to spare them abuse. A group of young men picked Lay up and threw him to the ground before hauling him away to prevent him from committing further violence against property. Unwittingly, they all became players in Lay’s performance, illustrating his moral point. Philadelphians cared more passionately about the safety and sanctity of objects than they did about that of other human beings.

    The Dolphins are yelling at me to stop trying to warn humanity.

  10. Study from California shows:

    “COVID-19 has impacted life expectancy for both women and men. Life expectancy for all Californians shortened from 80.9 years in 2019 to 79.0 in 2020 — an almost two-year drop in a single year.

    COVID-19 vaccines can help save lives; unvaccinated Californians are nearly three times more likely to die than vaccinated individuals. Statewide, women make up 53% of
    all Californians vaccinated against COVID-19.

    Californians report that symptoms of long COVID continue to affect them long term. An estimated 38% of women have been plagued by long COVID statewide compared with 21% of men.”

    Click to access MSMU_RSWG_2023-final%5b88%5d.pdf

  11. Prof Kathy Eagar tweeted yesterday (Mar 24):

    11 weeks into 2023 & 2,731 COVID deaths this year. An average of 248 COVID deaths a week. More than in 2020 & 2021 combined (2,229 over 2 years). Schools, hospitals & aged care all paying the price as are literally many thousands of people.

    It seems that NSW COVID-19 hospitalisations are perhaps on the rise again, per the graph in a tweet yesterday (Mar 24) from Matt @crudeoilpeak:

    Here we go again? Will the #nswelection be a spreader event for new #omicron variants?

    It’s more comfortable for politicians, the media & most of society to deny it than to confront it.

    7NEWS Adelaide reported yesterday (Mar 24):

    An explosion of new COVID cases is wreaking havoc with South Australian schools and aged care homes grappling with new outbreaks.

  12. There seems to be a nest of corona denialists in broader psychological care.

    My latest psychological helper told me omricon is just like the flu, and that the flu, cancer, and hospital infections have killed more people anyway before omricon, surface infections don´t exist… If my father dies of corona, i should not bother because he has lived his life. You get the picture. He was also below any minimum standards by other definitely non subjective criteria and pretty aggressive when i asked for someone else.
    He is no one man or small shop show. He is working for a major church run organization running most social psychiatric care.

    So far so bad. What is my therapist doing when i tell him i am down because of that experience? Treating it is another personality disorder based interpersonal conflict. Yes i should switch therapist aswell. Problem is just, that would mean at least another 6 month of waiting for a new one.

    The number of corona crazy people and worse the tolerance for them among colleagues in broader psychological/psychiatric care here is just impossible. There is even an outspoken corona denialist Prof at the local university. So far so bad: Here is the part that really shocks me: He is still allowed to teach mandatory classes. He is doing them while permanently pushing his theories in class and after doing at least once a final test where he graded according too how much one agreed with this corona conspiracies.
    The local monopoly newspaper granted him a two page interview where he can play victim twice.

    I´m told the other Profs are angry and shocked. Also that they put some pressure on him to stop asking do you agree with my corona conspiracy theories questions in the final test. Great. It seems they were not shocked enough to remove him from mandatory classes and hide his teaching in irrelevant electives it seems. And that they can do with no problems. Also cutting his bonus to zero i guess these days, which was probably the pressure point to at least make his test less conspiracy loaded. Otherwise a tenured Prof is untouchable.

    Consider the consequences. The psychotherapy master is heading towards requiring a perfect score in the BA to get admission after some dysfunctional changes to the system. So pleasing the denialist prof is now starting to become an admission criteria, ensuring all future therapists will be like mine or worse. They will also all have rich parents, since financial hurdles are getting higher and higher.

  13. Addition: The nest is a German one and while there are indications this is a problem beyond the local area, it looks a lot worse than usual in the region.

    Psychological care culture aside, i think my latest corona denialist still having a job where he can mistreat people with mental health problems has a lot to do with general church problems.

    The two big churches run most social care – they run it, they do not pay it. Paying is up to the government. That means around 1,1 million people work for the big church run social care organizations. Normal labor law does not apply to them. Strikes are banned. There is no employer council with the usual powers and most important, church membership and (visibly) abiding to church norms in private live are legal and practically enforced. No church member no job. Second marriage, fired.

    The situation is particular absurd for social workers. Social work here is a separate study program, a specific BA that is rather successful in claiming many jobs exclusively for graduates. Rather often even when other degrees would be a better fit, and most of the times when some other degree would be just as good.

    That culture is not particular religious. Rather the contrary. So far so lucky – just that most jobs require nominal church affiliation and keeping ones mouth shut in public regarding some topics. So you got those people who are boxed in a frankly in many ways rather cozy career (i´ve never seen any other profession crying as much to the contrary), that requires most to shut up about their basic values.

    A culture that lets people get away with a lot as long as it does not challenge the church hierarchy – even living relatively open in contradiction to ridiculous church norms as long as it is not quite an open challenge. No wounder corona denialists mistreating their clients get away with it while colleagues and superiors look away.

    The alternatives emerging in social psychiatric care are neoliberal nightmares. Contracts to the lowest for profit bidder where things are even worse, much worse. Those also break the all jobs must be done by social work graduates rule. Sure not by hiring say one of the many psychology BAs, sorry Bsc.* that does not get into the super selective MA, sorry MSc.*. No by hiring people with no college degree, sometimes no apprenticeship, no nothing for jobs that do look like a BA would be a useful requirement under working conditions that make it impossible for anyone to keep his own mental balance or function properly on the job.

    *That would be another topic regarding unfounded superiority attitudes.

  14. 1. “Preventing Long Covid” by Eric Topol…

    2. is inadvertently enabling predatory and oligipoly inducing capital & crypto currencies. 

    3. Hope? You’re dreamin’.

    Eric Topol is in Substack’s front page today. No, I got link via amediadragon. Topol’s offer “I will donate all proceeds to Scripps Research” is funding Stripe Inc. Thiel & Musk & Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase & Co.

    “Preventing Long Covid”

    Eric Topol
    Mar 23

    “While the risk of severe, acute Covid that leads to hospitalization or death has decreased during the 3+ years of the pandemic, the primary concern has shifted to the chronic side—winding up with Long Covid. My colleagues and I reviewed Long Covid in-depth earlier this year, but there have been new reports that firm up evidence for 4 ways to reduce the likelihood of chronic sequelae from a Covid infection (or re-infection).”.

    1. Novid
    2. Metformin
    3. Paxlovid
    4. Vaccination
    OK, But What About Treatment?

    It is a shame Elon Musk & Peter Theil process the 10% charge, processing the fees of many, via Stripe, Subatack’s non exclusive  payment provider.

    “Frequently asked questions
    “Are there any fees?
    “If you add paid subscriptions, we charge 10% and there is a credit card fee charged by Stripe.”
    support substack /hc/en-us/articles/4405482746132-How-do-I-set-up-my-Stripe-account-to-start-receiving-payments-

    “How long can the Substack party last?” – Financial Times
    6 Apr 2021
    “On top of the 10 per cent that Substack charges, Stripe charges 2.9 per cent plus 30 cents per transaction (no wonder its valuation has soared…”
    ft com › … › Media › Digital Media

    Stripe Inc.
    “dual-headquartered in South San Francisco, California, United States and Dublin, Ireland
    Revenue US$12 billion(2021)”…
    “In 2011, the company received investment of $2 million, including from PayPal co-founders Elon Musk and Peter Thiel, Irish entrepreneur Liam Casey,[6] and venture capital firms Sequoia Capital,Andreessen Horowitz, and SV Angel.[7]”.

    Stripe is trying hard via acquisitions to be an oligopoly. Ford, Spotify and ! Twitter crypto transactions:

    “2022, Twitter announced that it will partner with Stripe Inc (digital payments’ processor) for piloting cryptocurrency payouts for limited users in the platform. “The crypto payments will be routed through Stripe Connect, which will also handle KYC requirements”, Stripe said. The company announced it is also planning to add options for payment in other cryptocurrencies in the future.[13]

    “In April 2022, Stripe announced its strategic partnership with UK-based FinTech company ION.[14]”

    “The Wall Street Journal reported in July 2022 that the company’s internal share price had fallen, causing its implied valuation to drop from $95 billion to $74 billion.[15] In November 2022, the company announced it intended to initiate layoffs, terminating some 14% of their workforce.”.

    wikipedia /wiki/Stripe,_Inc.

    Stripe “… hired investment bankers at Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase & Co….
    “according to the presentation, handed out to wealthy clients of Goldman Sachs Group Inc.. .. “Stripe said it generated $14.3 billion in revenue as it processed $816 billion in payments volume last year. The company’s so-called transaction margin before losses — a measure of net revenue — rose to $3.17 billion, or 0.38% of total volume. That compares with 17 basis points for rival Adyen NV, according to the presentation.”

    Or be your own payment processor, sort of, if you’re scrimping;
    “Sheehan processes his own payments via PayPal, sends renewal notices manually and writes his newsletter right in his email. For its clients, Substack eliminates those logistical hurdles and has other perks.”

    [Substack’s] …” appeal is clear: Eliminate everything around the troubled business of journalism, from corporate ownership to advertising to traffic-driven clickbait, and replace it with the ability to monetize a direct relationship with your readers.”

    “There are other financial arrangements, too. Gibbs received a $20,000 advance and shares more than 10 percent of her revenue with Substack to pay it back. She is now assigning freelance articles for her newsletter — including to reporters who have been laid off in recent months.

    “Where it all leads depends on whom you ask. Substack’s co-founders said they can envision bundles of newsletters that ideally maximize revenue for writers and offer readers more content. Brown, for instance, is already planning to merge his newsletter with another writer who covers college sports. But down the road, he worries about cannibalization.”

    Money, (g)Libertarians and minimal censorship;
    “In January 2022, the Center for Countering Digital Hate criticized the company for allowing content which could be dangerous to public health, estimating it earned $2.5 million per year from the top five anti-vax authors alone, who have tens of thousands of subscribers.[36] Presumably in response to press inquiries, the three founders in a blog post affirmed their commitment to minimal censorship.[37]
    wikipedia /wiki/Substack

    Hope! You’re dreaming. 

    “P.M.Lawrence says:
    January 28, 2021 at 12:15 am
    I tend to agree with Nietzsche on hope: rather than being a closing exception to the evils coming out of Pandora’s box, it was the final evil that compounded all the rest by tricking mankind into continuing under those others (and see also Hamlet’s soliloquy).”

    These rapacious Irish domiciled megalomaniacs are still crushing hope. Enabled by the US etc politics and finance law’;

    “The Golden Rule (them what has the gold makes the rules):
    Dobbs, SVB, the Internet Archive, antitrust and the law’s foundation in norms, not consistency.”

    “Finance law, by contrast, firmly roots its understanding of outcomes in expediency and politics as much as the text of the law.”

    https://pluralistic [dot] net/2023/03/25/consequentialism/#dotards-in-robes

  15. Hix has pointed out a key issue and it is part of a larger picture. Vast numbers of professional people in a great number of disciplines (majorities in their respective disciplines in many cases) have covered themselves in disgrace and ignominy [1] for all time by supporting the deliberate infection of the global population with a BSL 3 pathogen, SARS-CoV-2. All who have done so are morally, intellectually and scientifically bankrupt. These were, after all, people supposedly expert in their given fields. There was and is no excuse for experts to get this wrong.

    Next, we have to ask the question, “Why did they abandon morality and science and get their advice and exhortations so wrong?” Since this has been a systemic outcome there has to be a systemic reason. The systemic reason is that they have been rewarded handsomely for wrong advice and wrong views (scientifically and empirically provably wrong) or at least not ostracized and not attacked for holding and expressing contrary views. There are rewards, or at least not punishments, for joining the anti-science groupthink camp.The system provided and provides perverse incentives for wrong advice and these people were weak enough, morally, to be corrupted, peddling misinformation and disinformation for money, career and reputation. If a system puts enough and high-enough perverse incentives in front of people, many, indeed the great majority it seems, succumb to pressure and temptation. The misinformed and disinformed public are then led by the nose.

    We can even posit that it’s not really their fault. Their brains are wired that way by nature and/or nurture plus institutionalization in the form of professional and institutional enculturation. They are, by a combination of these factors, constituted to be group-thinking people who follow the herd, which herd a relatively few rich and/or powerful calculating sociopaths and psychopaths then find it easy to manipulate and lead.

    Relatively few people have the financial independence and psychological independence or unconventionality of mind to be able to think truly independently. For most people, staying in the herd’s Overton window outranks their ability for clear, logical and objective thinking. They almost always fall victim to self-interest and motivated reasoning.

    Under our current system, these will always be the outcomes. The interests of wealth (capital as power) will always trump those of morality, science and objectivity. There is no hope for any other outcome until this system collapses or begins to collapse clearly and palpably in reality. I hope the right people are waiting in the wings to be enabled by this material “sea-change” which will then make an ideological sea-change possible and indeed necessary, if people want to survive at all.

    Note 1 – If objective science is done and objective histories are written after this pandemic is over, if it is ever over, then the names and reputations of all those who prominently chose the side of “spread it, don’t eliminate it” will rightly suffer obloquy for all time recorded time.

  16. Erratum:

    “There was and is no excuse for experts to get this wrong.”

    This should read;

    “There was and is no excuse for experts to get this wrong, unless we accept that it is in their nature or training and they cannot help their own behavior.”

  17. Superbatteries

    I don’t claim to follow the rapid progress in battery tech at all closely, but this one caught my eye.

    “Amprius Technologies […] is once again raising the bar with the verification of its lithium-ion cell delivering unprecedented energy density of 500 Wh/kg, 1300 Wh/L, resulting in unparalleled run time. At approximately half the weight and volume of state-of-the-art, commercially available lithium-ion cells …”

    Current Tesla lithium-ion cells are at about 250 Wh/kg, so the doubling claim is not hyperbole. This is an actual device not a lab rig, and Amprius claim they will ship samples “this year” – they must be very tricky to make. It’s tweaked lithium-ion, not an exotic new chemistry.

    The target market is not cars but planes. Airbus are interested, even enthusiastic (talk is cheap). They are building a long-duration surveillance plane, presumably unmanned, ideally one that can stay up indefinitely. The Solar Impulse round-the-world flight in 2015 proved the principle, though for any practical purpose you are looking for much greater robustness and a more useful payload. For these you need really good lightweight composites for the structure, really good solar cells covering all upper surfaces, and above all really good batteries. These are all in sight. For this tiny niche market, the largely military customers will pay very high prices, kicking off the virtuous cycle of improvement and economies of scale as usage widens.

    I have no idea if Amprius will succeed against cutthroat competition. But electric aviation is coming. The very large savings in fuel costs, maintenance and general inconvenience are quite enough to drive rapid adoption once battery power becomes feasible. Just now it can only sell in niche markets, including flight trainers and seaplane air taxis. The first large-scale application is likely to be in 25-seat commuter planes flying 200 km routes from small regional airports, which may well see a revival according to Mike Barnard at CleanTechnica. There is a big jump to come from that to regular electric short-haul flights, say at least 1,500 km: likely but not assured. Intercontinental, who knows.

  18. Peak tanker

    A shipping expert quoted by Mike Barnard at CleanTechnica:
    “ VLCCs [tankers that carry > 2 million barrels of crude] are vital for transport of crude exports from the U.S. Gulf and the Middle East. There will be 910 VLCCs of all ages on the water by the end of this year. The number of new VLCCs to be delivered in 2024? Zero. The number to be delivered in 2025? One.”

    Barnard gives the life of an oil tanker at 20-25 years. Extension is possible, but while flags-of-convenience regulators may turn a blind eye to rustbuckets, neither insurers nor battered oil company executives are likely to to be so casual. Taking the 25-year life, the steady state annual replacement rate should be 4%, or 36.

    Tanker shipowners don’t have it easy just now. Steel prices are high and new ships expensive. The EU – the largest importer – is pressing ahead with an emissions levy on ships docking in EU ports, so the need for greener propulsion is becoming urgent. However, the industry has not settled on its preferred green replacement fuel, methanol, ammonia, or biodiesel. Picking the wrong horse could be costly. Still, if the trade thought that oil demand were going to grow or at least hold up over the next 20 years, they would be ordering some new ships regardless. An order freeze implies they think oil demand is going to drop, and sharply.

    Some but not all think tanks agree. Barnard:
    “Norwegian oil giant Equinor, fossil-fuel heavy consultancy McKinsey, and the International Energy Agency have all published scenarios that include peak oil demand between 2025 and 2030, with a combination of COVID-19 and the European energy crisis accelerating the shift away from a high-carbon economy.”

    A tipping point, perhaps? You only see them clearly in the rear-view mirror. But if we were at an oil tipping point, this is the kind of anecdata we would be seeing.

  19. The new years resolution post reminded me to look at my public Tesla share price prognosis when things do not go my way. Chances to be right at the end of my prognosis time frame look limited at the moment. Suppose it has served its purpose of countering overconfidence by tracking ones prognosis. Musk remains a solid number two in the worlds billionaire list, and he will remain filthy rich, global top 20 rich even if things go very bad at Tesla.

    Already a quarter of the current year gone. An opportunity for a quarter of the year gone resolution, at best public which is supposed to help to stick to them? Maybe those are more likely to succeed.

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