Reporting in these times

October 6th, 2014

Washington Post:

Some West Africans believe that the day you die is one of the most important days of your life.

Amazingly, the average age of the reporters seems to be well above 25. Also, check out this NYT piece which could have come straight out of the scene with the mayor in Ghostbusters.

All is well

October 5th, 2014

CNN:

Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen said when she and two colleagues recently returned from reporting in Liberia, they got a mixed bag of responses from Customs and Border Protection officers. “We all said we were journalists who had just been in Liberia covering Ebola,” Cohen said. “One of my colleagues was told, ‘Oh, OK, welcome back home, sir’ — and (was) just let in — that was it.” Cohen herself got a different response. “I was told, ‘Wait a minute, I think I got an email about this,’ and the border patrol officer went and consulted with his colleagues,” Cohen said. That officer later told her she should check her system for 21 days. “I said, ‘What should I be checking?’ And he wasn’t sure,” Cohen said. The third colleague merely had his boots checked to see if there was mud on them.

HT: AT

Duncan just “walked out” on September 4 and walked into a US without ZMapp

October 4th, 2014

This Liberian Observer piece once again suggests that Mr. Duncan suspected he was exposed to Ebola a couple of weeks before flying to Dallas through several airports on several airlines:

About Duncan being aware of his medical condition before he left Liberia, his former boss, Mr. Henry Brunson, 60, manager of SafeWay Cargo, a licensed agent of FedEx, agreed that Duncan knew that he was infected with the virus, having directly participated in efforts to help save the life of his landlord’s daughter, who was pregnant. Mr. Brunson said Duncan was his “personal chauffeur” before he (Duncan) just “walked out” on September 4, and never saw nor heard from him again until it was reported that he had been diagnosed with the Ebola virus in the US. He stated that while he is sorry that Duncan might have passed the virus to others over the last few days, he, however, said he is glad that Duncan is in the US where he would get the best treatment to survive. “If he were in Liberia, he was going to surely die,” Mr. Brunson added sadly.

Duncan’s landlord’s daughter, Ms. Nathaline (earlier reported as Marthaline) Williams, 19, was seven months pregnant when she died of Ebola on September 16, having been rejected at three major hospitals in and around Monrovia, including JFK Memorial Hospital, ELWA Hospital and Benson Hospital. She was also rejected at Fredai Clinic at Police Academy Junction.

According to Duncan’s 72nd residence neighbors and Mr. Jiminez Grugbaye, taxi driver, who drove Duncan, Nathaline and her parents to all these health facilities, Duncan helped carried Nathaline when they got back home at midnight after she had been rejected at all those health facilities. “He was holding her hands; her brother held her from her back while her father held her feet as they carried her from the taxi to their apartment where she died,” 31-year-old Irene Seyou, who lives next door to Mr. Duncan’s apartment in the same building, told the Daily Observer.

Our Health Correspondent was told that Nathaline’s brother and an aunt of hers died few days ago, too, of Ebola. Her father and mother are now being isolated in the Ebola treatment unit.

Meanwhile, Grugbaye, the taxi driver, who looks healthy at the moment, said after they had been rejected at all of those health facilities, knew that something wasn’t right about his sick passenger’s illness. “When I got home, I chlorinated my entire vehicle. I repeated it the next day before I got back in the traffic,” he stated. He told the Daily Observer that he felt feverish on Wednesday and visited a “German Clinic”, where he was treated and discharged few hours later the same day. He, however, said he is willing to be placed under quarantine by health officials.

Typical entry in the comments section: “If I was in the position of Mr. Duncan, I would done the same because our leaders have fail us in this country.”

This situation is far more serious than our current deeply dishonest and corrupt government lets on. (We pointed to an outstanding Jonah Goldberg piece the other day that describes the alternate reality they live in.) The truth, as evidenced by the case of Mr. Duncan, is that the US, the states, the CDC, etc., have no effective means of stemming the tide of Ebola, and that those infected with the disease have every incentive to get to the USA, which is what Duncan did.

Alas, those fleeing to the United States are fleeing to a country that, as of this moment, is only a dream. In the good ol’ USA of yore, we’d be doing a ZMapp Manhattan Project at Warp Speed. In the US of today, what you get is theater, and really really stupid theater at that. God save us!!!

Wisdom in these times

October 3rd, 2014

CNN: “I want to tell you and you mother you don’t need to be scared because the person in your school doesn’t have Ebola, they were just near someone who had it. So you don’t have to worry.” NBC: “A day after the first case of Ebola was confirmed to have been diagnosed in the United States, government agencies said they were beginning to hand out a flyer warning about Ebola to all travelers heading to the U.S. from West African countries with Ebola.” Question: which country might you try to get into if you had the Ebola virus but no symptoms yet?

Bonus fun: Jonah Goldberg has a very insightful piece which explains, among other things, that the faculties of most US universities are living in a different country than we are.

What do these Thomas Eric Duncan timelines mean?

October 2nd, 2014

NYT:

A man who flew to Dallas and was later found to have the Ebola virus was identified by senior Liberian government officials on Wednesday as Thomas Eric Duncan, a resident of Monrovia in his mid-40s.

Mr. Duncan, the first person to develop symptoms outside Africa during the current epidemic, had direct contact with a woman stricken by Ebola on Sept. 15, just four days before he left Liberia for the United States, the woman’s parents and Mr. Duncan’s neighbors said.

In a pattern often seen here in Monrovia, the Liberian capital, the family of the woman, Marthalene Williams, 19, took her by taxi to a hospital with Mr. Duncan’s help on Sept. 15 after failing to get an ambulance, said her parents, Emmanuel and Amie Williams. She was convulsing and seven months pregnant, they said.

Turned away from a hospital for lack of space in its Ebola treatment ward, the family said it took Ms. Williams back home in the evening, and that she died hours later, around 3 a.m.

Mr. Duncan, who was a family friend and also a tenant in a house owned by the Williams family, rode in the taxi in the front passenger seat while Ms. Williams, her father and her brother, Sonny Boy, shared the back seat, her parents said. Mr. Duncan then helped carry Ms. Williams, who was no longer able to walk, back to the family home that evening, neighbors said.

“He was holding her by the legs, the pa was holding her arms and Sonny Boy was holding her back,” said Arren Seyou, 31, who witnessed the scene and occupies the room next to Mr. Duncan’s. Sonny Boy, 21, also started getting sick about a week ago, his family said, around the same time that Mr. Duncan first started showing symptoms…

Mr. Duncan had lived in the neighborhood, called 72nd SKD Boulevard, for the past two years, living by himself in a small room that he rented from the Williams couple. He had told that them and his neighbors that his son lived in the United States, played baseball, and was trying to get him to come to America.

For the past year, Mr. Duncan had worked as a driver at Safeway Cargo, the Liberian customs clearance agent for FedEx, said Henry Brunson, the company’s manager…Mr. Brunson said that Mr. Duncan quit abruptly on Sept. 4

He quit his job on September 4, carried the Ebola lady on September 15, and flew out on September 19, arriving on the 20th. He first went to the hospital on the 24th.

This all seems very strange. Why did he quit his job on September 4? When was he actually infected? They say the incubation period is 2-21 days but typically 8-10. He certainly knew he carried the disease when he flew to the US, and there’s a chance he knew it when he quit his job.

Something is very strange here and looks either stupid or sinister or both. Why didn’t he tell the hospital at his first visit what was happening? None of the timelines make any sense, unless this guy set out to do harm. Any alternative theories? HT: PJ

Stuck on stupid

October 1st, 2014

Daily Mail:

The patient is reportedly not being treated with the experimental serum ZMapp – because there is none left.

Epic incompetence on issue after issue. It was obvious what should have been done a while ago.

Okay then

September 30th, 2014

Whitehouse.gov 14 days ago:

it is highly unlikely that we would experience an Ebola outbreak here in the United States, given our robust health care infrastructure and rapid response capabilities

Chris Matthews, yes that Chris Matthews, reacts. Oh, what the heck. We heard it was a JV virus.

First ISIS, now this

September 29th, 2014

HuffPo:

The intruder who climbed a fence made it farther inside the White House than the Secret Service has publicly acknowledged, a Republican congressman said Monday. The disclosures came on the eve of a congressional oversight hearing with the director of the embattled agency assigned to protect the president’s life.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said Monday night that whistleblowers told his committee that the intruder ran through the White House, into the East Room and near the doors to the Green Room before being apprehended. They also told the committee that the intruder made it past a female guard stationed inside the White House, Chaffetz said.

In the hours after the Sept. 19 fence-jumper incident, Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan told The Associated Press that the suspect had been apprehended just inside the North Portico doors of the White House. The Secret Service also said that night that the suspect had been unarmed — an assertion that was revealed to be false the next day when officials acknowledged that Omar J. Gonzalez had a knife with him when he was apprehended.

Also, CAGW has jumped the shark. What’s next?

Wars and rumors of wars

September 28th, 2014

Today’s reads are Clarice Feldman and Andy McCarthy. It ought to be pretty hard to keep believing the fantasies, but the fantasists persist. Spengler explains some reasons that make fantasy attractive.

In the nick of time

September 27th, 2014

LA Times:

The Justice Department is expected to issue a broad new policy in the coming two to three weeks banning religious and other forms of profiling by federal law enforcement officers, department sources said Friday. The long-awaited policy will not include an exemption for national security investigations

Just in the nick of time. Of course that nick might be an Alton Nolen starting to saw your head off.

Back to the future?

September 26th, 2014

The West should lament the “secularist” plus “male = female” (in all aspects) society it has created in the last 50 years or so. Testosterone plus religion often equals violence — see the definition of Jihad if you care. Holy War can be a beautiful thing to young men seeking both meaning for their lives and soldiering. This has been obvious since the dawn of time and the book of Genesis. But now Jihad is merely workplace violence to some. That guy in London was not doing Jihad. It’s not terrorism. So too that guy in Oklahoma. They’re just mentally disturbed. Of course that is true, but there’s a reason 16-30 year olds are drawn to the Islamic State. The West’s conjoining of secularism and no male-female differences is a toxic brew. Headless Body in Topless Bar has taken on a new meaning. We ignore this at our peril, but soon it may well be impossible to ignore, try the cognoscenti though they will…

Roger Simon has more thoughts on this, as does Steyn on random workplace beheadings. Move along, nothing to see here.

Incoherence

September 25th, 2014

Michael J. Totten:

The Islamic State drove a convoy of stolen Humvees into an Iraqi army base named Camp Saqlawiya just north of Fallujah and exploded themselves. Hundreds of Iraqi soldiers are dead or missing. I paid a visit to Saqlawiya six years ago. “That’s where you’ll want to go,” an American Marine told me, “if you want to say you get shot at once a week.” Nobody shot at me. Saqlawiya was relatively “quiet” back then because the American military was occupying the area.

The American military is no longer occupying the area. And since the Iraqi army is effectively useless, despite years of American training, the Islamic State can wage its scorched earth campaign of murder and mayhem almost with impunity.

I say “almost” because air strikes by the US-led coalition are putting a crimp in their plans, but IS rules a huge area straddling two large countries and somebody will need to go in there, clear ground, and hold it if anything substantial is going to change.

Likewise in Syria. The US and several Arab governments are now bombing the Islamic State on the Syrian side of the border, including its “capital” in Raqqa and several oil refineries in order to keep cash out of the terror group’s pockets. Again, though, somebody will have to go in there and clear and hold ground if anything substantial is going to change.

No one we like will be able do that anytime soon. If the Iraqi army can’t handle it at this late date it might never be able to handle it. As for Syria, according to David Ignatius in the Washington Post, “the U.S. military will…lead the training of Syrian forces, but this will take longer because the opposition there starts from a low base of readiness. The hope is that by sometime next year, a well-vetted force of at least 5,000 Syrians, trained in Saudi Arabia and other countries, will be ready.”

Nobody really knows how many fighters the Islamic State has, but estimates are in the tens of thousands. And those 5,000 American proxies in Syria don’t even exist yet. So in the meantime, any ground cleared of IS fighters will be open to the Syrian and Iranian regimes and their terrorist proxies such as Lebanese and Iraqi Hezbollah. Washington may be coordinating with Bashar al-Assad indirectly through the Iraqis and admits that it’s coordinating with Iranian-backed militias through the Iraqis.

We suspect that few know the history that in part informs the current crisis, and worse yet, the establishment still says that it’s unacceptable to address the basic issue honestly. Hence, you’re reduced to saying flapdoodle. An incoherent war can’t be won.

BTW, the last time we caught up with the peripatetic Mr. Totten, he was in Cuba.

Caution, genius at work

September 24th, 2014

Guardian:

this is not about just telling people to change their light bulbs or to buy a hybrid car. This disaster has grown BEYOND the choices that individuals make. This is now about our industries, and governments around the world taking decisive, large-scale action. I am not a scientist, but I don’t need to be. Because the world’s scientific community has spoken, and they have given us our prognosis, if we do not act together, we will surely perish.

And as if that weren’t enough, there’s this. This is terminally embarrassing but at least we now know what it’s like to live in the pre-Enlightenment West (or even in the 7th century).

They don’t know that they don’t know

September 23rd, 2014

NYT:

The family whose legendary wealth flowed from Standard Oil is planning to announce on Monday that its $860 million philanthropic organization, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, is joining the divestment movement that began a couple years ago…Ms. Wayne said the family’s commitment is intergenerational, and continuing. She said that her 8-year-old daughter lectures her on the destruction of orangutan habitat to create palm oil plantations. “If I’m wearing lipstick, she won’t kiss me,” she said, “because there’s palm oil in it.”

And there’s more. At a minimum, these people are not arguments for low estate taxes.

Myths, then and now

September 22nd, 2014

Richard Lindzen (earlier piece here):

Climate alarm belongs to a class of issues characterized by a claim for which there is no evidence, that nonetheless appeals strongly to one or more interests or prejudices. Once the issue is adopted, evidence becomes irrelevant. Instead, the believer sees what he believes. Anything can serve as a supporting omen. Three very different previous examples come to mind (though there are many more examples that could be cited): Malthus’ theory of overpopulation, social Darwinism and the Dreyfus Affair. Although each of these issues engendered opposition, only the Dreyfus Affair led to widespread societal polarization. More commonly, only the ‘believers’ are sufficiently driven to form a movement. We will briefly review these examples (though each has been subject to book length analyses), but the issue of climate alarm is somewhat special in that it appeals to a sizeable number of interests, and has strong claims on the scientific community. It also has the potential to cause exceptional harm to an unprecedented number of people. This has led to persistent opposition amidst widespread lack of interest. However, all these issues are characterized by profound immorality pretending to virtue.

Malthus’ peculiar theory wherein the claimed linear growth of food loses out to the exponential growth of population has maintained continuous popularity in the faculty lounge for about two centuries. It is, therefore, worth noting that Malthus had no evidence that food supply would increase only linearly. Nor did he have evidence for exponential population growth. Malthus initially went so far as to estimate an e-folding time for population of 25 years, based on the population of North America, and ignoring the role of immigration. Although Malthus, himself, eventually acknowledged these problems, the enthusiasm for his anti-human conclusions remains strong. Neither the green revolution nor the diminution of famine amidst increasing population dissuades them. The fact that Chad is poor and the Netherlands is rich never strikes the believer as odd. Apparently, the growth of cities, the movement of workers from the farm to the city, and, for much of the developed world, immigration, all served to convince people of means that there were too many other people around, and Malthusian theory formed a framework for something they were (and are) eager to believe.

Social Darwinism and its corollary, eugenics, represents another case of a theory without support that was widely accepted with, at times, horrid consequences. Darwin’s “The Origin of the Species” had immense influence. It presented a theory whereby natural selection and what were essentially mutations could account for biological evolution. While it offered valuable insights into the development of finch beaks, it was hardly meant to describe societal evolution. Nevertheless, the notion of ‘survival of the fittest’ applied to society had obvious appeal to those who perceived themselves to be the fittest and who naturally regarded the application as scientifically justified. It was a small step to eugenics which was the counterpart of modern day environmentalism during the first third of the twentieth century, and was supported by all the ‘best’ people (including George Bernard Shaw, Margaret Sanger, Alexander Graham Bell, and Theodore Roosevelt) despite the fact that there actually was a mathematical theorem (the Hardy-Weinberg Theorem) that showed that the impact of eugenics on the gene pool would be negligible. Needless to add, mathematics is of no importance to the ‘best’ people. Malthusian population fears continue to the present, but eugenics was rendered unfashionable by the obvious implications presented by the Nazis.

While science is a common vehicle for such misuse, the Dreyfus Affair shows that other vehicles exist. In 1894, Captain Alfred Dreyfus was accused of passing secret French military information to the Germans. There was, in fact, no evidence to support this accusation. Nevertheless, there was again a strong desire on the part of many people in France to believe the accusation. To be sure, there was the endemic anti-Semitism in France. However, there was also the humiliation of France’s loss in the Franco-Prussian War, and the desire to blame such loss not on the army, but on the perfidy of a group that some considered to be ‘outside’. (The Nazis’ ‘stab in the back’ theory for the German loss in WW1 represents a similar instinct). Dreyfus was tried (several times) and sentenced to Devil’s Island. Prominent Frenchmen (Emile Zola in particular) , incensed by the obvious injustice campaigned for Dreyfus, and the issue literally split France in half (partly because the conflict between Catholics and Secularists also entered the Affair). Dreyfus was eventually exonerated after the identification of the actual spy became undeniable.

The current issue of global warming/climate change is extreme in terms of the number of special interests that opportunistically have strong interests in believing in the claims of catastrophe despite the lack of evidence. In no particular order, there are the leftist economists for whom global warming represents a market failure, there are the UN apparatchiks for whom global warming is the route to global governance, there are third world dictators who see guilt over global warming as providing a convenient claim on aid (ie, the transfer of wealth from the poor in rich countries to the wealthy in poor countries), there are the environmental activists who love any issue that has the capacity to frighten the gullible into making hefty contributions to their numerous NGOs, there are the crony capitalists who see the opportunity to cash in on the immense sums being made available for ‘sustainable’ energy, there are the government regulators for whom the control of a natural product of breathing is a dream come true, there are newly minted billionaires who find the issue of ‘saving the planet’ appropriately suitable to their grandiose pretensions, etc., etc.

Strange as it may seem, even the fossil fuel industry is generally willing to go along. After all, they realize better than most, that there is no current replacement for fossil fuels. The closest possibilities, nuclear and hydro, are despised by the environmentalists. As long as fossil fuel companies have a level playing field, and can pass expenses to the consumers, they are satisfied. Given the nature of corporate overhead, the latter can even form a profit center. The situation within science itself is equally grim. Huge sums of government and private funding have become available to what was initially a small backwater field. Science becomes easy when emphasis is on malleable models supported by hugely uncertain data that can be readily found ‘consistent’ with the models supplemented by fervidly imagined catastrophic ‘implications.’ Indeed, uncertainty is often exaggerated for just this purpose. Opposition within the scientific community is immediately met with ad hominem attacks, loss of funding, and difficulty in publishing.

The last paragraph is interesting in that the amorality (and sometimes perfidy) of big companies is something that many on the left and right can agree on. Somewhat amusing treatment here.

Oddities, inanities, and so forth

September 21st, 2014

From Yale: “To Save the Planet, Don’t Plant Trees.” From NYU: earth’s temperature “increased much more slowly for the past 16 years, even as the human contribution to atmospheric carbon dioxide has risen by some 25%…the models famously fail to capture this slowing in the temperature rise.” And, topping the charts today: “Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber.”

The folly that turned a recession into the Depression

September 20th, 2014

We originally posted this a year before the Calamity of 2008, when it seemed impossible that history could repeat itself. Yet history almost repeated when Lehman Brothers was allowed to fail on September 15, 2008 and all hell broke loose. History is hard.

We had the good fortune to meet a man who was present as a child at one of the precipitating events of the Great Depression, the failure of New York’s Bank of United States in December 1930. His grandfather, who lost his savings in that bank, took him to witness the scene as depositors thronged to bank doors that were locked during normal business hours. The panic from bank failures in New York and elsewhere spread around the country — there was no deposit insurance — driving banks to maximize liquidity, sell assets, foreclose loans, and create the Mother of All Credit Crunches, which became known as the Great Depression. Here’s how the NYT described the scene in its December 12, 1930 city edition:

onset.gif

Perhaps you have been taught that the stock market crash of 1929 caused the Great Depression. That is not so. The crash both reflected and amplified the recession that the US economy was entering in 1929; however, it was the problems of the banking system and of monetary policy that cascaded recession into depression. We will quote from Friedman and Schwartz’s Monetary History of the United States (from pp. 309-313):

The stock market crash…left no mark on currency held by the public. Its direct financial effect was confined to the stock market and did not arouse any distrust of banks by their depositors.

The stock market crash coincided with a stepping up of the rate of economic decline. During the two months from the cyclical peak in August 1929 to the crash, production, wholesale prices, and personal income fell at annual rates of 20%, 7.5%, and 5%, respectively. In the next twelve months, all three series fell at appreciably higher rates…Even if the contraction had come to an end in late 1930 or early 1931, as it might have done in the absence of the monetary collapse that was to ensue, it would have ranked as one of the more severe contractions on record….

In October 1930, the monetary character of the contraction changed dramatically…A crop of bank failures, particularly in Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Arkansas, and North Carolina, led to widespread attempts to convert demand and time deposits into currency…A contagion of fear spread among depositors…such contagion knows no geographical limits. The failure of 256 banks with $180 million in deposits in November 1930 was followed by the failure of 352 with over $370 million of deposits in December…the most dramatic being the failure on December 11 of the Bank of United States with over $200 million of deposits.

That failure was of especial importance. The Bank of United States was the largest commercial bank, as measured by volume of deposits, ever to have failed up to that time in US history. Moreover, though an ordinary commercial bank, its name had led many at home and abroad to regard it as somehow an official bank, hence its failure constituted more of a blow to confidence than would have been administered by the fall of a bank with a less distinctive name.

In addition it was a member of the Federal Reserve System. The withdrawal of support by the Clearing House banks from the concerted measures sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to save the bank — measures of a kind the banking community had often taken in similar circumstances in the past — was a serious blow to the System’s prestige…

Friedman implies that the reason that the Clearing House banks failed to bail out the Bank of the United States, despite often intervening in other, similar cases, is that the BoUS’s customer base and board were Jewish. This contention seems to be supported by statements from the NY State Banking Commissioner of that time, Joseph A. Broderick (p. 310). Let’s take a look at how the New York Times reported the attendees of the meeting the day before the Clearing House pulled the plug on the Bank of United States:

bous.gif

We have no way of knowing if Milton Friedman’s contention is true or not, though it appears likely to us that, unlike Herbert H. Lehman, the “small, able” Mr. Isidor J. Kresel was probably not a member of Our Crowd. TIME Magazine summed up the banking community’s view of the Bank of the United States in its December 22, 1930 issue on that fateful meeting:

Another late arrival was lanky Owen D. Young who came about 11 p.m. in full dress, accompanied by Thomas William Lamont of J. P. Morgan & Co. Looking taller than usual in his full dress, Mr. Young paused to peer down at and converse with small, able Isidor Kresel, counsel for Bank of United States…Conservative Manhattan bankers last week were angry at Bernard K. Marcus, dark-haired, heavily-built president of Bank of United States. His aim was perhaps much too high. Only last year he stated: “Often we’ve put two or three days work into one. We have gone ahead two or three times as fast as we would have had we been working only one day at a time.” To bankers, a day’s work is a day’s work, to be done well, thoroughly.

The tall and lanky in full dress versus the small, able, dark-haired, overreaching, and heavily-built. We get the picture. Thanks, TIME.

This piece has been quite educational to research. We see once again that great events can turn on small episodes of human weakness, prejudice and folly. And who knew at the time that a crowd gathered at a bank on a cold December day would become anything other than the “local” event that the head of the NY Clearing House opined that it would be?

We should not believe that we can’t make mistakes of similar magnitude or wrongheadedness again. The stagflation of the 1970′s was caused by foolish economics policies of three presidents in a row — Nixon, Ford, and Carter — that weren’t reversed for a decade until Ronald Reagan and Paul Volcker had the wisdom and courage to take the harsh steps required to kill inflation (we know that Carter appointed Alfred Kahn to the CAB and Volcker to the Fed, but the hard work for Volcker was done on Reagan’s watch, with the fed funds rate rising to an unprecedented, unbelievable 20% in mid-1981). Today, one new challenge is the anti-China, pro-protectionism movement increasingly vocal in the US today. The greatest folly can seem trivial or reasonable at the time, which is precisely why it is so dangerous.

Many never left the Dark Ages

September 19th, 2014

We used to worry that the West was losing the Enlightenment. No more. It turns out that the Enlightenment bypassed many who reside in the West. Some are still fighting wars that began in the 7th century. (It is amazing that the establishment still refuses to acknowledge this obvious truth.)

But we’re not simply talking about the barbarians now inside the gate. We’re talking about those who believe in ridiculous superstitions like the alchemy of our time, CAGW. They believe in a magic bean that can destroy the earth, a bean so powerful that one bean among 2500 can do the job. And they believe they are superior for believing this voodoo (here and here, for example).

Thomas Aquinas wrote on alchemy in his time. We wonder what he’d make of it in our time.

Odds and ends

September 18th, 2014

Here’s the Ayaan Hirsi Ali video. Some comments from it are here. Here’s a kerfuffle about letting American fighters for the Islamic State back in the good ol’ USA. Oh, yes, just in case you thought this wasn’t coming to a town or village near you, think again. Of particular note is the response to the Australian police raids. Question: can you think of a cure for all this that can be spoken in polite society today?

Ebola needs a ZMapp Manhattan Project at Warp Speed, not nonsense

September 17th, 2014

Bloomberg discusses ZMapp, which, along with related treatments, needs to be produced in the millions of doses, not 100:

Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc., which has nine employees, released its experimental ZMapp drug, until now only tested on infected animals, for the two health workers…The two scientists behind Mapp, President Larry Zeitlin and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Whaley, “are both brilliant,” said Charles Arntzen, a plant biotechnology expert at Arizona State University who collaborated with the two researchers years ago. “They are very, very bright guys and free spirits”…

Mapp’s drug is being developed with Toronto-based Defyrus Inc., which has six employees, according to Defyrus CEO Jeff Turner. ZMapp is a “cocktail” of monoclonal antibodies that help the immune system attack the virus…Kentucky BioProcessing LLC, a subsidiary of tobacco giant Reynolds American Inc. (RAI), manufactures the treatment for Mapp from tobacco plants…

The tobacco plant production system was developed because it was a method that could produce antibodies rapidly in the event of an emergency, he said. To produce therapeutic proteins inside a tobacco plant, genes for the desired antibodies are fused to genes for a natural tobacco virus, said Arntzen. The tobacco plants are then infected with this new artificial virus, he said. “The infection results in the production of antibodies inside the plant,” Arntzen said. The plant is eventually ground up and the antibody is extracted, he said. The whole process takes a matter of weeks.

We have no idea if ZMapp is the best treatment for ebola, but we know it worked in several cases. We also know that the San Diego and Toronto companies total 15 employees between them. This is real and real-time, not silly fantasies like Solyndra. We need a ZMapp Manhattan Project at Warp Speed to avoid disaster.

Now, insanity and theater via NYT:

Senior administration officials said Monday night that the Department of Defense would open a joint command operation in Monrovia, Liberia, to coordinate the international effort to combat the disease. The military will also provide engineers to help construct the additional treatment facilities and will send enough people to train up to 500 health care workers a week to deal with the crisis. Officials said the military expected to send as many as 3,000 people to Africa to take charge of responding to the Ebola outbreak.

The American government will also provide 400,000 Ebola home health and treatment kits to Liberia, as well as tens of thousands of kits intended to test whether people have the disease. The Pentagon will provide some logistical equipment for health workers going to West Africa and what administration officials described as “command and control” organizational assistance on how to coordinate the overall relief work. The Army Corps of Engineers is expected to be part of the Defense Department effort. Administration officials did not say how soon the 17 treatment centers would be built in Liberia; officials there, as well as international aid officials, have said that 1,000 beds are needed in Liberia in the next week alone

Instead of putting American soldiers in harm’s way for no apparent benefit, wouldn’t it have been a better idea to clone Mapp and its promising rivals in multiple US, European and other medical research centers, and devote massive resources to ramping up production of ZMapp and other drugs with similar laboratory success?