Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The risky policies of "know nothing" political amateurs
   Protecting the value of U.S. technology,
   including biotechnology, could be suicide

This New York Times headline on Page D1 (page D1???) of the August 28 edition is seemingly more important than most articles about the Trump Administration on the front page. At least the article reluctantly recognizes a relationship between its subject - mutated flu virus samples - and the dangers of the deplorable trade war of the Trump Administration.

What could the avian influenza A(H7N9) virus possibly have to do with the trade war and technology (which includes biotechnology)?

Well, if you're interested in making money on a health threat, you could order the market research report H7N9 Vaccines Market Sales Area and Gross Revenue of Key Manufacturers 2018.

Or you could just read the New York Times story which explains:
    ...More than one year after a devastating wave of H7N9 infections in Asia — 766 cases were reported, almost all in China — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is still waiting for several viral samples, the National Security Council and the [World Health Organization] confirmed.
    Scientists at the Department of Agriculture have had such difficulty obtaining flu samples from China that they have stopped requesting them altogether, according to a government official who spoke anonymously because he was not authorized to discuss the matter.
    Recent trade tensions could worsen the problem.
    The Office of the United States Trade Representative in April released a proposed list of products to be targeted for tariffs — including pharmaceutical products such as vaccines, medicines and medical devices.
    So far, none of those medical products have landed on the final tariff lists. But lower-level trade negotiations with China concluded on Thursday with few signs of progress, increasing the likelihood of additional tariffs.
    The United States relies on China not only for H7N9 influenza samples but for medical supplies, such as plastic drip mechanisms for intravenous saline, as well as ingredients for certain oncology and anesthesia drugs. Some of these are delivered through a just-in-time production model; there are no stockpiles, which could prove dangerous if the supply was disrupted, health officials said.
Most Americans, and most certainly the Deplorables, think the trade issues are about cell phone technology, autos, and steel in terms of their personal wealth. But those who understand political economics know it is also about the potential for severe illness and death, the avoidance of which has economic value.

The New York Times article notes:
    Scientists believe top commerce officials in both governments view the viral samples much like any other laboratory product, and may be unfamiliar with their vital role in global security.
The scientists are wrong, of course. Top officials in the Chinese government are fully aware of the vital role of the viral samples to global security. And unlike those scientists, top officials in the Chinese government are fully aware of the trade value of those samples in the context of Trump's trade war against China. As noted in the article:
    For over a decade, epidemiological data and samples have been used as trade war pawns.
And here is where determining whether free trade or nationalism is the most important element in political economics can become a problem. Influenza A viruses usually are associated with more deaths in children and the elderly. If we don't have a vaccine for a truly virulent Influenza A strain, about 2 million Americans could die, using as an indicator the 1918 Spanish Flu which was also an Influenza A subtype.

The World Health Organization - also known by its acronym WHO - would usually be able to facilitate sharing of the viral samples under an existing agreement. If you occasionally read the news perhaps  "WHO" seems similar to another acronym "WTO" the Trump people have been denouncing. That acronym stands for World Trade Organization under which trade is governed by agreements which the United States is currently blocking by preventing appointments to its Appellate Body as part of its trade war against China.

In 1918 when the Spanish Flu hit the world, World War I was just ending. By the early 1920's due to a resurgence of xenophobic American nationalism, world trade was handled with bilateral negotiations. The U.S. position had sentenced the League of Nations to a meaningless existence. That ultimately led to the Great Depression and WWII.

It is 100 years later and xenophobic American nationalism again has been restored to a leading tenant of U.S. policy. The U.S. government has decided that the well-being of the world's population of 7.6 billion is not it's concern. Only the well-being of 4% of the world's population is of concern, those who live in the United States.

If nationalism is considered a legitimate policy position for the United States, then you have to consider it a legitimate policy position for China. Thus the American position is that only the well-being of the 18.5% of the world's population who live in the China should be of concern to the Chinese government.

Or perhaps Americans all need to move our attitudes into the 21st Century. In the meantime a headline in June noted H7N9 Spreading Westward from Southern and Eastern China.

Monday, August 20, 2018

What was wrong with managed timber harvesting???
  When your air is clogged with congestive
  climate change, who should be blamed?

In 1976, a 28-year-old newly minted Congressman, Al Gore, held the first congressional hearings on the climate change, and co-sponsored hearings on toxic waste and global warming. About that, in December 2016 we noted: "But on climate policy 40 years ago, he..., well, kids..., my generation failed him and you."

In December 2017 in the post Foolish planning and the inevitable wildfires: What could have been learned from John Steinbeck about California's true climate we noted: "What we cannot do honestly is blame it on Global Warming which at worst only accelerated an inevitable timeline. And we are not going to "fix it" because we are the environmentally aware California. "

The Ranch Fire pictured above has burned more acreage than any fire in California's recorded history.  It is likely that this year's fire season ...well, we don't have a season anymore, so let's say that this year's wildfires... will have burnt more acreage than any prior year.

As discussed in Extreme California Wildfires Emit More Greenhouse Gases — But Scientists Don’t Know Exactly How Much:
    Cal Fire says more than 750,000 acres have burned so far in 2018, combusting grass, trees, homes, and all pushing out greenhouse gases.
    The fires have consumed three times as much land as the 2013 Rim Fire, which the U.S. Forest Service estimates released 10-to-15 million metric tons of carbon — roughly the equivalent of the emissions resulting from a million Californians over a year.
As explained in Huge wildfires can wipe out California’s greenhouse gas gains:
    Most years, the amount of greenhouse gases spewed by California’s cars, factories and power plants drops slightly — a hard-won result of the state’s fight against global warming.
    And in any given year, one big wildfire can wipe out that progress.
    Over the course of just a few weeks, a major fire can pump more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than California’s many climate change programs can save in 12 months. Scientists debate whether California’s vast forests are emitting more carbon dioxide through fires than they absorb through plant growth.
    To get a sense of the problem, look at 2015
    Greenhouse gas emissions across the California economy inched downward by 1.5 million metric tons that year, the most recent for which emissions data are available. And just one fire in 2015 — the Rough Fire, in the foothills of Fresno County — produced 6.8 million metric tons of greenhouse gases, according to an estimate from the U.S. Forest Service.
This is a problem, of course, for the State of California's whole self-congratulatory aggressive environmental policy. For instance, up to 2018, wildfire impacts have not been considered in reports about progress such as this one...

...because wildfires have been considered natural phenomenon. And so each year since that chart, some gain has been reported.

On December 11, 2017, the official scientific journal of the National Academy of Sciences, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, publish an article Human presence diminishes the importance of climate in driving fire activity across the United States which acknowledges...
    The adverse effects of increasing wildfire on human assets, and altered fire regimes on ecological integrity, are becoming a worldwide concern, especially in the wake of recent “megafire” events in some regions, which have resulted in enormous loss of human lives and properties. Most of these large fire events are driven by extreme weather conditions combined with prolonged drought; and escalation in fire activity is widely attributed to climatic factors and global warming. Furthermore, projections suggest that fire extent, frequency, and intensity could skyrocket in upcoming decades due to warmer temperatures and drier fuels, although there is inherent variability and regional variation.
...but points out...
    Climate was significantly less important where humans were more prevalent, suggesting that human influence could override or even exceed the effect of climate change on fire activity. Although climate change may play a significant role in altering future fire regimes, geographical context and human influence should also be accounted for in management and policy decisions.
As explained in As California Fires Continue, $170 Million In Grants Given To Reduce Fire Threat:
    While California experiences another destructive fire season, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) announced that more than $170 million has been awarded in grants to prevent catastrophic wildfires, like the Carr Fire and Mendocino Complex, and restore forest health. More than 100 agencies and organizations across California will receive funding to help the state reduce greenhouse gas emissions from wildfires and sequester carbon.
    With funds provided by the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund for California Climate Investments (CCI), CAL FIRE awarded 142 fire prevention grants totaling $79.7 million and 23 forest health projects totaling $91.5 million.
    The Fire Prevention grants will enable local organizations like fire safe councils, to implement activities that address the risk of wildfire and reduce wildfire potential to communities and forests. Funded activities include hazardous fuel reduction, fire planning, and fire prevention education with an emphasis on improving public health and safety, all while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
    “California continues to invest millions of dollars into creating healthier, more resilient forests that benefit all of us,” said Chief Ken Pimlott, CAL FIRE director and California’s state forester. “Already this year more than 700,000 acres have burned across the state creating significant carbon releases that counter our efforts at reducing greenhouse gases. Local projects funded by this money will prevent wildfires before they start, and when combined with our fire prevention activities, will help move us toward our greenhouse gas reduction goals.”
Wow! The Californian who bought a Tesla Model S for $90,000 must be really into carbon emission reduction. Not only did she shell out for that, she paid the State $4.25 of her taxes to address the wildfire problem.

Of course, it might be effective to have the State raise her taxes for wildfire reduction and forest health projects to $42.50 per person generating $1.7 billion a year to spend on reducing wildfire emissions and increasing Carbon Dioxide absorption.

But hey, being human we're looking for someone else to blame as noted in California Wildfires Are Causing Billions in Damage. Who Will Pay? I wonder when the Trump people will be pointing out the liberal environmentalists opposition to timber harvesting?

As noted in a previous post, managed timber harvesting could create jobs for people who don't work at desks, people lefty,techie liberals seem to not care about.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Was the shift in popular preference of Americans from baseball to football an augury for a shift
from a democratic republic to a dictatorship?

Willie Mays played professional baseball. In 1999, Mays placed second on The Sporting News's "List of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players", making him the highest-ranking living player. His sport, baseball, is called "America's Pastime" partly because as one sports writer explained in America's Pastime: 20 Reasons Why Baseball Will Always Hail over Football:

    In a way, baseball is everything America stands for. Everybody has a chance on a baseball field.
    If you're old, maybe you can run a team like nobody's business. If you're young, maybe you're your favorite team's biggest fan. If you can't field, maybe you can hit. If you can't hit, maybe you can pitch. If you can't pitch, maybe you're the best dang bat-boy baseball's ever seen.
    Baseball is always making room for all sorts of people; it doesn't hand-pick athletes.
    If you lost, you lost fair and square. Sure, the umpires might've blown a call or two during the course of the game, but not enough to completely decide the outcome of the game. It gives the game a final feel to it.
    There's something truly magical about baseball. Something that you can't lay a finger on, but it has always been there.

Baseball is not a "contact sport." A "contact sport" is "a sport in which the participants necessarily come into bodily contact with one another." Football is a contact sport, a deliberately violent sport. Here is what we know about Americans:

I grew up when baseball was America's Pastime, when I saw Willie Mays playing for the San Francisco Giants.

Yes it was during the decade of the 1950s when the 49ers were known in the NFL for their so-called "Million Dollar Backfield", consisting of four future Hall of Fame members: quarterback Y. A. Tittle and running backs John Henry Johnson, Hugh McElhenny, and Joe Perry. They became the only full-house backfield inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

We knew about that, sometimes even saw local games on TV. But football was just not imaginable as America's Pastime. We thought....

As the polling folks at Gallup explained:

    On Jan. 16, 1972, a Gallup headline heralded, "Football Overtakes Baseball as America's Top Spectator Sport." And indeed, sometime between 1960 and 1972 -- spanning a decade marked by sweeping moral, religious and cultural change in the U.S. -- Americans shifted from a primarily baseball-loving people to a primarily football-loving people.
    The first televised NFL game occurred in 1939, and regular broadcasts followed in the 1950s. However, TV coverage really took off in the 1960s as the NFL and a newly created rival league, the AFL, negotiated big network contracts. The momentum continued with the first Super Bowl played toward the end of that decade, followed by the debut of Monday Night Football in 1970. Whatever the cause, by 1972 Americans were enchanted with the game.
    Even in 1972, the impact of television was obvious -- as George Gallup said, "Interest in football has no doubt been affected by the steadily increasing coverage the sport has received from the major television networks."

The fact is football is violent and dangerous as explained in detail in We Know Football Is Dangerous. So Why Are We Still Letting Our Sons Play It? The fact is chronic traumatic encephalopathy entered the conversation in 1997, over 20 years ago. Why aren't these kids playing baseball - you know, Little League?

And is the football fascination reflective of three 21st Century facts about America?
  1. We have embraced the building of edifices to football violence similar to the Roman Colosseum, known as the Flavian Amphitheater, where festival of violence and slaughter were held and, usually scheduled during the lunchtime interval to provide some light relief, Christians and others would be thrown in with a variety of wild and ferocious animals, such as leopards, boars, and lions, and required to fight for their lives.
  2. We encourage our children to use electronic devices linking them to commercial enterprises which increase their impatience and shorten their attention span thereby making it difficult to appreciate a non-violent, relatively slow baseball game.
  3. Surrounded by violence and impatience, we have determined to "correct" all cultural "errors" using approaches to change that have left those who lived within, and rightly or wrongly believed they benefited from,  the previous cultural norms angry.
You must ask yourself, does the Willie Mays quote apply to baseball fans? If you read America's Pastime: 20 Reasons Why Baseball Will Always Hail over Football the answer would seem to be "yes." The article also offers this thought:

    Here's a famous quote from a writing: "The game begins in Spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rain comes, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone."
    If that's true, then football begins when everything is dying.

After five centuries the Roman Republic ended in political conflict, during which Julius Caesar was appointed as perpetual dictator and then assassinated in 44 BC. Ultimately in 27 BC the Roman Senate formally granted  Octavian, Caesar's adopted son, overarching power as emperor and the new title Augustus, effectively marking the end of the Roman Republic and the creation of the Roman Empire. Construction of the Colosseum began 100 years later under the emperor Vespasian in AD 72.

If "between 1960 and 1972 -- spanning a decade marked by sweeping moral, religious and cultural change in the U.S. -- Americans shifted from a primarily baseball-loving people to a primarily football-loving people" did that shift presage the end of our Republic?

Did the shift from baseball to football augur the death of our democratic republic and the rise of a dictatorship?

Monday, August 6, 2018

Trump tweets about California wildfires and water - here's a visual to help him be less ignorant about the government he runs

The President of the United States tweeted about California's wildfires as follows:
    “California wildfires are being magnified & made so much worse by the bad environmental laws which aren’t allowing massive amount of readily available water to be properly utilized. It is being diverted into the Pacific Ocean. Must also tree clear to stop fire spreading!” — tweet Sunday.

    “Governor Jerry Brown must allow the Free Flow of the vast amounts of water coming from the North and foolishly being diverted into the Pacific Ocean. Can be used for fires, farming and everything else. Think of California with plenty of Water — Nice! Fast Federal govt. approvals.” — tweet Monday.
The federal government owns 45.8% of the land area of California as indicated in the graphic below:

As indicated most of the current wildfires are as usual on federal lands as are most of the trees about which he states: "Must also tree clear to stop fire spreading" And as indicated on the bottom map, the federal government owns a significant portion of the water contained in reservoirs in California and President Donald Trump, not Governor Jerry Brown, heads the government that manages the water "foolishly being diverted into the Pacific Ocean."

It is embarrassing to  have a President so ignorant.