Friday, October 9, 2020

If it just saves one life ...

Utilitarianim's and consequentialism's main idea is that outcomes determine something's normative properties. Is a Covid lockdown good? It depends upon how outcomes aggregate. Time scales are always an issue. You also have to determine how to handle Black Swan events (improbable events that might not occur when the same scenario is repeated, even if all conditions remain the same). Fitness in biology is very concerned about similar issues. Has the covid lockdown been more of a net positive or net negative? 

Obviously one can't really judge. But as per Steven Crowder's recent lockdown protest and demand for open info suggests, people are at the point where messages of "take care if you have cold symptoms" have been recieved as much as they can, and people are legitimately demanding open information about lock down efficacy vs costs. Facebook and twitter info bans do nothing to further this conversation. Neither does legacy media's refusal to do any sort of investigative journalism on the real issues. That leads to polarization.


Here's some research me and my wife did. We were on opposite sides of lockdowns and masks in the Spring (with me being much more cautious than she was as a nurse). Lately we've switched positions and remain on opposite sides (with her now being in favour of mask mandates and its associated authoritarianisms). If it just saves one life, and the personal costs are low....

Alberta's Covid deaths are as of Oct 8 are about 283.  The Heritage Foundation shows that in the US, the percentage of deaths in the under 55 age group are about 8% of the total deaths. This means Alberta should expect to have about 23 deaths under 55 due to Covid. Most of those likley have co-morbities to them.

How does this compare to increases caused by Covid lock down dynamics occurring from suicide?

Alberta has about 550 suicides per year. Coroner information from the US suggests an increase in suicide rates of about 30% this year.  Yakima Washington says their rate is now about 30% higher that it was pre-covid.  Other hard stats aren't "hard", so we'll use a 20% figure as a "safe bet".  The distribution of suicides by under 55's is about 40%-50%. (I used absolute suicide rates and didn't adjust by % of population). 

That means we would normally expect on the order of 240-250 suicides by under 55's in Alberta. But with the 20% or so increase due to Covid, we now have an additional 50 or so.

THAT IS twice the deaths caused by the lockdown that have occurred due to Covid.

This doesn't mean a lockdown hasn't saved more lives. It certainly may have. But it does suggest one really needs to question whether the social effects of the lockdown exceed its severity. 

This doesn't account for the fairly large number of deaths that are occurring due to breaks in medical service. I know my mom had a close-enough call due to an infection that normally wouldn't have occurred without a lock down.

Failure to account for secondary deaths due to the lockdown is immoral.  This includes failure to account for the absolute devastation done to social contracts, civil life, and debt levels which down the road will certainly curtail social net spending.

If it just saves one life rhetoric is not a moral position with respect to covid lock downs. It may be that lock downs save many lives. But they also cost many lives. The best solution would seem to be one that allows freedom of choice and institutes safety measure for vulnerable populations.

Clearly the West is not doing that. I hate to say it, but I suspect Sweden provides a good case study. Victoria province in Australia, the UK, California, Minnesota and New York provide good case studies on the other side. Authoritarianism has very real consequences. It is almost always justified by "if it just saves one life" logic. Then you just ramp up to the next level of "small things need to just save one more life".

See any of JP's Awaken comedies for satire on the issue.

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Ed: Pluralism or Religion

Ed is starting its deep dive into its role as a pluralistic coherer or religious indoctrinator. Religious indoctrination seems to be its historical role (up until the end of the enlightenment era). There's normally a pacing and leading which happens between religion and governance (see Norenzayan's Big Gods). For a while governance adopts the lessons learned by religion, but does so in a more pluralistic way that enables group size increase or other adaptive group traits. For a while religion leads. Right now Ed is ostensibly determining (along with society) whether -everyone is equal under the law, or -some people are more equal than others (for the sake of equality of outcomes). Applied Critical Theory certainly takes the latter, Orwellian approach. Recently it seems like fricition within Alberta's Teachers Association is just starting to reflect this dichotomoy. The Orange bubble urban areas are heading one way, while rural venues are heading the other. There are structural reasons why urban centers gain ideological dominance within large institutions. This seems to be a historical "law". But this tendency isn't neutral, or "progressive". It simply reflects the cultural evolution cycles Peter Turchin describes in his Secular Cycles work and Cliodynamics. It leads to periodic revolutions, purges, and societal collapses. Fighting these cult like Trosky tendencies is not easy. By the time these behaviours become non-ignorable, instituitional technocracies and structures are largely monopolized by ideological conformity. Self selective processes gradually tip the balance toward homogeneity, and it is very rare that enough counter-balancing momemtum can be generated to bring things back into balance before over-reach leads to collapse. We'll have to see where things end up in the West. My guess is that much of US education is in serious trouble. Canada's pluralistic nature (and lower population) may give it enough breathing room to survive. But, here in Alberta at least, there are going to be some nasty fireworks as the Urban progressive minority start going head to head with the sleepy conservative base.

Friday, September 4, 2020

A Peaceful Protest?

 More peaceful protests continue. Not all involve mobs of people </irony>

Monday, August 31, 2020

Modern Lynching

 This is a modern lynching. Simple as that.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Cut to the Chase

 I tend to get to the end game of things pretty quick. I rarely feel the need for gradual ramp ups to energize yourself under the guise of allowing space for escape valves. If you're ready for the end game and fully accept it then the process of a mutually agreeable exit becomes easy. But there is no dallying around one-sided exits while the other side subterfuges. 

For instance, it's been since at least 2010 when I figured US civil war was going to be inevitable. The main question is whether it would take a mob based tit for tat, or whether it would be predominately a targeting assassination affair.

Now that everyone is waking up to this fact, we've got until Jan 2020 to figure out what to do. It will take a few months for the mail-in ballot fubar to work itself out. During that time you'll have a HUGE number of protests and counter protests with violence levels graudually increasing each weekend. Just like the Kenosha - Portland tit for tat, each side will fight for its legitimacy to occupy space and maintain a grip on its right to exist within the public sphere.

But, nothing will settle this down.

The only real option is to decide how to parse up that nation so that BLM/Antifa progressive cultists can comfortably exist in their space and Trumpist conservatives can exist in their own.

To that end you'll probably need an amalgam of states that start going by their own set of rules. Those rules will be very draconian for outgroupers. You'll have a lot of intimidation based emigration. That's similar to the sorting that happened during the Patriot-Loyalist conflicts in the war of Independence. It will also mean watering down Federalism. That is going to be very hard, nay impossible to do. Systems don't like to give up power, and I don't think the Judiciary is liable to give up any of the righteous rule.

That functionally means finding a way for the mid-west and south to have good port access. While I'm no expert, the Caribbean is poorly suited to this end. That means the crux of things will be the Carolinas and Virginia. But it also means finding a way for East coast puritanism to function as a political entity with West coast fundamentalism. That is hard.

There's also no easy answer for what to do with Washington. It's the Federal seat of power but is clearly in the boundaries of the progressive sub-nation. There may be no real way to get rid of Federalism's overpowering nature without giving up most of Washington's current physical role.


The only other option is to explore the limits of City state power.

The current conflict can be well characterized as an overgrowth of city state size and power. Rural California, Oregon, Washington, etc. have very different politics from their city centers. Much of the over step of city center power is based on the deference outsiders give to the rule of law.  With the social contract now irredeemably broken (with the realization of such only slowly dawning on people), there will be a functional limit to how far cities can pressure their rural residents.

I don't think this polity size change is viable though. It is too many units of selection down from where polity size is currently stabilized at within our population.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Why It's a Bad Idea to Ban Conspiracy Theorists

Conspiracy theorists are annoying. It's the inevitable tail end of aspergery tendencies. Like 9/11 conspiracies or ant-vax stuff, it is incredibly time consuming to disprove.

But, like Russiagate, or relativity, occasionally, they're right. A system's characteristic to allow a certain percentage of its populace to engage in this type of behaviour is adaptive. Just like its adaptive to have a certain percentage of your population pushing existentially risky out-group sympathetic positions.

Here's another reason you shouldn't ban conspiracy theorists. Sometimes you won't hear a lot of pop-narrative damning stuff from mainstream players.


Sunday, July 5, 2020


Does something that is clearly racist cease to be so if it is politically agreeable? Or, if it is both politically agreeable and done by a protected class?

At some point one hopes that people will realize that objectivity & equality is probably the best way to keep racism out of society.