"Don't hurt people and don't take their stuff" - Matt Kibbe

8/13/20

A Report From The Front


By Grant Davies


I'm putting on my war correspondent hat today to report on the action in the US war with domestic terrorists.


The terrorists are winning handily at this point. Many cities have been laid waste and a number have surrendered.


Large swathes of entire states have been ceded to the terrorists. Those states are notably, Washington, Oregon and California. 


The invasion is widespread but the most progress by the terrorists has been made along the entire west coast. 


The supposed US defenders have turned on the militia in some places in a tactic that seems designed to aid the progress of the terrorists. They have arrested members of the militia for brandishing their own weapons in defense of their homes and businesses. New recruits to the terrorist side are being provided by the practice of releasing criminals from jail. 


It's unclear if the country as a whole will fall but terms are being negotiated by the sides. They are rumored to include the legal dissolution of private property and the ceding of most political power to the terrorists in exchange for the temporary cessation of burning, looting, and murder. 


One political party has called for defunding/dismantling of the defenders except for the purpose of arresting citizens who do not comply with the edicts concerning the wearing of masks and social distancing. No reinforcements are expected and desertions are at a high point among the current defenders. 


Things look bleak for the republic. 


For a very long time I have been exhorting people to "get a helmet." My latest advice is to put the helmet on. It looks like a long war. 

7/10/20

This Post is Not About Masks


By Grant Davies

"Charlie" was played for a fool with this ad. Don't be like "Charlie." 

The article below is not primarily about masks. Rather it may be about blindfolds or at least blind faith. Essentially, this article is about science. It's not about debating whether or not to wear a mask. 

"What does a story, demonstration, or test really say? Does it support the stated conclusion or advice? Does it even bear on your question, or is it simply irrelevant? You can always find someone willing to tell you what to do. With so much evidence on both sides of a question, you’d do better to think for yourself." - Ramon P. DeGennaro




A popular link circulating on the internet shows the results of a demonstration. Dr. Richard Davis sneezed, sang, talked, and coughed into agar cultures wearing a standard surgical mask, and again using no mask. The result is a powerful image: The cultures without the mask clearly show more microorganism growth. 
The strongly worded conclusion from the post’s author? Wear a mask. That way, “Lives will be saved.” 
A picture is worth a thousand words, but a picture is not a good substitute for thoughtful analysis. Does the image actually support the conclusion? Or even worse, is the image misleading, steering you to an incorrect conclusion?
Indeed, Dr. Davis’ own conclusion of his demonstration is considerably less emphatic than the author’s: “A mask preventing your spit & breath from flying out of your mouth, even if doesn’t catch it all, will stop some spread of bacteria (see [in this demonstration]) AND LIKELY VIRUS (not seen [in this demonstration]).” ~ Rich Davis, PhD, D(ABMM), MLS June 27, 2020, emphasis in the original.
That’s far less powerful. First, as Dr. Davis is careful to say, the cultures show bacterial growth, not viral growth. Bacteria are much larger than viruses, so a test showing that a mask blocks bacteria gives us no direct evidence that masks help block COVID-19 and other viral infections, such as the flu. 
This doesn’t mean the demonstration is necessarily irrelevant for viral infections. But to inject a dramatic photo of bacterial cultures into the COVID-19 conversation is at best misleading. Masks may or may not be a good idea for you, but Captain Michael Doyle, the commanding officer of a coronavirus testing site, says, “The only mask that the CDC considers safe from you getting the coronavirus, the only way to actually prevent you from inhaling it, is the N95 mask.”  
So, based on Captain Doyle’s statement, should we not bother to wear a mask? Again, masks may or may not be a good idea for you, but his statement is also potentially misleading: Although Captain Doyle is absolutely correct, he is discussing whether the mask protects the wearer. Perhaps we should consider those around us. 
Do you remember what we were taught even before we attended elementary school? “Cover your face with a tissue or handkerchief when you cough or sneeze!” Returning to the sneeze image, a more informative demonstration of bacterial protection would be for Dr. Davis to compare a surgical mask with a simple handkerchief. 
Yet, even that wouldn’t give direct evidence of whether a mask protects either the wearer or others against a virus. The demonstration, after all, uses bacteria and not viruses.
The point is not whether you should wear a mask, or even whether someone should be allowed to force you to use a mask. By now, enough credentialed sources have weighed in on both sides of the issue. As recently as May 22, 2020, the New England Journal of Medicine wrote: “We know that wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection.” Still, you can find ostensibly reputable sources to support your opinion. Rather, the point is that you should think about that evidence.

7/5/20

Rational Politics and Wild Predictions


By Grant Davies

Time to make a quick detour from the current national conversation for the sake of our sanity and just perhaps have a little fun while we are at it. So let's talk about irrationality on something other than the virus for a post or two.

Even though I usually try to refrain from writing about politics, (preferring to bloviate about fundamental ideas and concepts instead) I must admit that the lack of sports, normal human interactions, or other normal distractions, has out of boredom, led me to make wild predictions about politics recently.

For instance you might recall that I predicted quite a while back, right after Super Tuesday, that Joe Biden would not be the Democratic nominee for the Presidency in 2020. I'm notoriously bad at these predictions but I'm sticking to that one until it proves to be incorrect. Other scenarios obviously exist.

It's irrational for the Dems to nominate Biden as he slips ever more rapidly into senility. Don't get me wrong, I truly feel badly for him and anyone who suffers from this horrible affliction. It may affect me too at some point. Some may even argue that it already has, but I digress.

What I consider to be irrational decisions and policy prescriptions by Democrats seem quite rational to them and therefore they continue to make them. With some success, I might add. Rationality, at least my definition of it, does not seem to affect what they do, so I'll assume they will continue be irrational on most things over the long term. Here's the setup:

Having disposed of Crazy Bernie the Socialist, (but not his policies) they now have to get rid of Crazy Joe in favor of someone who is also crazy but doesn't mutter incoherently all the time.

So, prediction time. 

Who will they replace Joe with? You can round up all the usual suspects, list them, and make a decent case for most of them. But I'm going with the long shot since no one expects me to be right anyway.

I think the odds are that they will make a rational decision just because the laws of probability predict that it has to happen sooner or later.

Therefore, they will choose Michelle Obama. 

They get a far left authoritarian again, who happens to be a woman, black, and coincidentally married to the political messiah that caused them to have their legs quiver in 2012. She apparently spent most of her time for the eight years of his presidency telling Barack what to do and say so she knows the ropes well. Certainly she is more qualified than her husband was at the time he was elected so there's that too. 

So there you have my new wild political prediction. When she is nominated as a last minute replacement for the seriously ill Joe Biden and the media begins to have political orgasms over her candidacy, remember that I was the one who predicted it. If it doesn't happen, you will just chalk it up to me being as wrong, and possibly senile, as I usually am.


6/12/20

Rioting Is Good?

By Grant Davies

Most of my readers most likely understand the fallacy of the "Broken Window" theory. But this post will give everyone a chance to share it with others who may not. A better understanding of fundamental economics is beneficial for society in general.

Therefore, I submit this three minute video and a link to the blog International Liberty on which it is featured and my favorite econ policy wonk, Dan Mitchell.

As hard as it might be to believe, there are still some "economists" who profess this nonsense in regards to the recent lawlessness.

And here is a new tradition I just made up; if anyone is ever having a beer with me and mentions the name Bastiat I will clink their glass. I'm too cheap to buy them a beer.


6/5/20

Fundamental Policing

Law Enforcement? Handcuffs and a gun?
By Grant Davies

The chaos that has engulfed the USA in recent days has put the "Virus Panic of 2020" on the back burner for a time.

The panic chaos will have to wait for the country to stop burning before bringing it back to a boil as soon as the media needs to cover up for their political buddies again. I predict it won't take long. There is a lot to cover up for.

In the meantime, the video of a man who had been arrested being murdered by a cop while other police looked on, has temporarily drowned out the calls for political heads to roll on the virus response.

Just in the nick of time for out-of-their depth politicians who have caused the deaths of thousands of people with their proclamations and edicts. Gretchen Whitmer and Andrew Cuomo may think that they have escaped the elder death toll they caused in the nursing homes they infected. We shall see.

So right now the focus is on the police mayhem. It is caused by the few bad actors and those who cover for them. This problem has stubbornly refused to go away for many years now.

It's because no fundamental reforms have been made. The pack has been reshuffled more times than a blackjack deck but the cards always remain the same. A different king or queen comes to the top, (because they say "heads must roll when a bad cop acts out) but the cards are still the same and the dealing resumes as before.

There is no mistake that police officers are as human as all the rest of us. Most people try to do the right thing even if they fail sometimes. All of us fail sometimes. But some people never care about doing the right thing. They care about themselves. They are called sociopaths. And sometimes they are psychopaths as well. The police aren't the problem, bad people are the problem.

This is an opinion blog. I have an opinion about what is wrong with the police departments and an opinion concerning what to do about it. I also have an opinion about some of the things that have been proposed. Let's roll with the last one first.

Some have suggested dissolving the Minneapolis police department, for instance. They think it should be replaced with police who act as social workers and "community relations" officers. Those notions are preposterous. It's not their job.

"Hello? 911? Yes, someone is breaking into my garage. Would you send the police to convince him this is a bad idea?" Thanks, I'll hold on the line. Please hurry though, he has already pried the door open."

Others suggest fiddling with policies of policing. Like better training, or more police, or "sensitivity training." That is the wrong approach. They are conflating features with benefits. Features come later, benefits should be the focus. So likewise, I reject those "solutions" since they miss the fundamental point of policing. This blog is primarily about fundamental things. It's not usually about policy.

So let's define the purpose of government before we move on. We should have the discussion often among ourselves about the fundamental role of government in a free society. But for now, let's rely on an already accepted definition. It was defined by some pretty smart (but also human) guys a long time ago. Thomas Jefferson wrote it down for them in a document called The Declaration of Independence.

It's crystal clear what they decided upon even though it has been ignored for most of our history. The part that applies goes like this;

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men," (Bold is mine.)

The part in bold is the most overlooked phrase in the Declaration. And it is the answer to the question concerning what is wrong with the police departments and what to do about it.

Somewhere along the line our protectors became enforcers. They became known as, and identified as, LEOs. Law enforcement officers. Tax collectors, revenue producers, dispute resolution officers, and jailers. Enforcers for politicians. 

The police should be reorganized from top to bottom on every level, federal, state, and local. Their new instructions should be, "your job is to defend the rights of the people. Don't allow anyone to violate anyone else's rights. Not other citizens, not politicians, not governments, not businesses, not unions, nor any other organizations or players will be allowed to violate rights."

Everyone has individual rights, there is no such thing as group rights. If you hurt someone or take their stuff, you have violated their rights. And you should be dealt with. The police slogan shouldn't be "We serve and protect." It should be "Defending your rights."

Nothing is a silver bullet, but this is where we should fundamentally begin. So there are my opinions about what's fundamentally wrong and how to begin to fundamentally correct it. Your opinions are welcome below.