Political Discussion Thread II

I don’t honestly know why he’s apologizing for the world being a slightly happier place for six hours. Meanwhile in Washington:

Lots more dirty laundry getting an airing.

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One thing I’ve commented on before (not really directly on topic but still), is how so many services don’t really care about outages. MMOs are probably the most obvious example, but it still annoys me.

Regardless though, while the whistblowers information was awful, it also wasn’t terribly surprising. Facebook was not a good thing overall even early on, but in the last half-decade and change it’s gone from that to something so incredibly destructive to our society it defies reasonable belief. It drags down your opinion of humanity.

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The FB outage (at between 6-8 hours) was way more of a big deal to a lot of small businesses than I had realised. See the comment thread here for some details, but basically life has evolved to the point that many single owner businesses rely on FB/WhatsApp/Instagram for pretty much all communication and advertising. It’s easy to see that is a big mistake in hindsight, or if you’ve been around the internet since before AOL, but there’s a huge marked right on FB so for many independents it’s the one-stop for everything.

That decision to let FB buy it’s competitor messaging service keeps looking worse and worse in the rear-view mirror. And the following may turn out to be a more significant problem than the current hearings, especially if taken in tandem:

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Anti-trust law has been effectively uneforced since a series of precedents set in the 70s basically rewrote the law to eliminate it. That said, yes, Facebook has been so blatantly a problem for so long that it’s extraordinary how obliging the US government has been in regards to their expanding in their own industry.

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Yes, it has. Social media as a rule is, cause hate gets clicks, scandals (imaginary ones included, fact-checking is for lefties anyway) get clicks, the more outrageous, the better. Couple that with the ‘boon’ of anonymity that gives many morons the ‘courage’ to harass others or peddle their ■■■■■■■■ without consequences…

Meanwhile, building a government advances at a glacial speed:

By now it seems obvious that the traffic-light coalition will be the way to go, but the details still have to hammered out. Despite losing millions of voters, the CDU in part believes that the chancellor job may be theirs:

Laschet has refused to bow to pressure from within his own party to relinquish the idea of being able to form a government under his leadership. “We have signalled that we are ready to hold further talks,” he said.

While he talked about having a ‘clear mandate’ for the top job, even parts of his own party are of the opinion that he had his chance, blew it and should get out of the way now. An opinion that many voters share.

On the coalition talks themselves, my best guess is that they’re going to agree somehow: - the SPD finally wants to be part of a government where they’re not the junior partner

  • the liberals can’t walk out again like they did four years ago, cause no one (including their own voters would take them serious anymore
  • the greens after 16 years in opposition need to show that they can get things done when they finally get some responsibility

Time will tell…

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Oh they’ll do it regardless of anonymity - there’s been some work on this, but really it can be summed up in a simple example: Facebook. Unfortunately, this is just an example of your earlier point, negative emotions tend to be stronger. Well that and the Dunning-Kruger effect.

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The CBC changed its comments rules so that real names had to be displayed. It’s just as bad as it ever was. I think people must feel anonymous - or at least safe - when they’re just posting words on a screen and not physically interacting with the other person.

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And how precisely are they going to ensure people’s actual names are used?

Nice idea but typical of CBC’s infuriating naïveté, such as maintaining a comments section with the blithe belief that it promotes constructive public discourse. Incredible to think that this hippy liberal finds the CBC to be excessively liberal. The relentless white guilt is yet another reason I’ve sworn off the site.

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I can see a lot of goings on with this:

:rofl:

Say what now?

This must be some odd definition of the word, ‘respected’, that I haven’t come across. Someone should ask him what ‘Conquistador’ means in English - that would be interesting.

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I guess he means they massacred the indigenous people in a courteous manner and plundered them politely?

Or maybe wished them good health while smallpox wiped them out?

From the article:

He added: "He has just attacked the great masterpiece of the Spanish conquest: the evangelisation.

“How proud we can feel about what our ancestors did,” he said, describing the Spanish colonies as “the empire of human rights”.

Yeah, right. Problem is, the natives obviously weren’t considered as human enough.

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It certainly is a startlingly brazen piece of revisionist history. What’s scary is that he probably believes every word of it, critical thinking and historical records be damned.

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If “Hacker X” really wants to put things right, he has a Herculean task ahead of him. For one thing, a lot of people simply won’t believe him. Including his own family:

Maybe if we could develop a vaccine to prevent gullibility and sneak it into the water supply…

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History of potential new drug Molnupiravir (EIDD-2801):

The story about molnupiravir’s serpentine route toward approval is a textbook example of how politicians and press in the Trump era have fallen into a pattern of treating the exact same set of facts in different, even opposite ways, depending on whom they perceive to be the beneficiary of news.

Last year, when Trump was president, molnupiravir was bad, dangerous science, an evil twin to hydroxychloroquine:

Now, it’s a pharmaceutical superhero, coming to the rescue — literally a Thor-inspired drug, coming to “hammer” COVID:

If the drug does turn out to prevent death, a not-insignificant portion of the lives that were lost waiting for its arrival will be on the politicians and press figures who railed against it.

Bright was immediately hailed as a hero by the press. Reporters universally described him as a man of principle who’d taken a stand on behalf of “science” against the bleach-guzzling, witch-doctor profiteers at the Trump administration. Virtually every news outlet that covered the story found ways to denigrate the drug, as if its alleged political affiliation spoke to its scientific utility. Once again, political reporting took on the characteristics of prophecy, in this case apparently failed prophecy.

:thinking:
Article of the whistle blower Rick Bright who stopped the original funding for Molnupiravir:
https://www.science.org/content/article/emails-offer-look-whistleblower-charges-cronyism-behind-potential-covid-19-drug

The Bright allegation addressed by Benford’s email centers on a so far unsuccessful effort by Florida-based Ridgeback Biotherapeutics to win new federal funding to develop EIDD-2801, a version of a 4-decade-old antiviral drug, into a treatment for COVID-19. Although the drug has shown potential against the coronavirus that causes the disease, Bright had opposed providing an immediate large funding boost. He argued the drug had already received substantial government support, and some earlier studies suggested EIDD-2801 could cause harmful genetic mutations. In his complaint, Bright suggests Kadlec attempted to help Ridgeback sidestep a government contracting process that is supposed to be guided by science. In one email to BARDA, a Ridgeback executive wrote that Kadlec was “personally” pushing the company “to move fast, but we can’t without this authorization” for funding.

Edit:
Once it’s approved, who’s going to be able to afford it?

A FIVE-DAY COURSE of molnupiravir, the new medicine being hailed as a “huge advance” in the treatment of Covid-19, costs $17.74 to produce, according to a report issued last week by drug pricing experts at the Harvard School of Public Health and King’s College Hospital in London. Merck is charging the U.S. government $712 for the same amount of medicine, or 40 times the price.

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That’s a bit of a tangled web, there. Still working through the whistle-blower stuff. This looks like a reasonable stand to take:

Emphasis added. Throwing that amount of money at anything that didn’t have any safety testing done would certainly not be something I’d be happy to have my name on.

This bit raised my eyebrows somewhat:

but

Things can indeed be a bit unpredictable when you start tweaking bits of a molecule’s structure simply because we still know far less about the human body than most people realise. Proper safety testing takes both time, money and expertise, and Merck certainly has the last two.

Not sure how the current understanding of the pill has evolved, but getting the safety information had to happen one way or the other. I’d probably want to see an analysis from someone who really knows what to look for on that, which means not a journalist or politician. Like this guy:

https://www.science.org/content/blog-post/molnupiravir-mutations

Going to take a while to process that…

Oh, that’s just the US pricing. It will certainly be cheaper in democratic countries that have communist health care systems :stuck_out_tongue:

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Chan said Merck will sell the drug internationally based on a “global tiered pricing strategy,” which will adjust prices for the drug based on a nation’s ability to pay.

Merck has reached agreements with eight generic drug companies, allowing each of them to sell molnupiravir in more than 100 low- and middle-income countries. These generic companies will compete on price, with one report saying they are expected to charge about $12 to $15 per treatment course.

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It really makes you wonder about the US system when you see such massive discrepancies in drug pricing. There are US diabetics who before the pandemic were literally travelling by bus, car, or plane to either Mexico or Canada to bulk buy insulin. I have no idea what they did during the border closures, but it can’t have been easy to get by.

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The report, citing multiple sources familiar with the test, said Beijing in August launched a nuclear-capable missile that circled the Earth at low orbit before descending toward its target, which three sources said it missed by over 20 miles (32 kilometers).
The report added that China’s progress on hypersonic weapons "caught US intelligence by …

image

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Concerning, but that hoary old saying about fighting the last war still applies. Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely concerned about China having the ability to ignore missile defense systems, but honestly I suspect that what we don’t know would be more dangerous than what we did if it came down to it.

Albeit, for now I don’t expect any significant likelihood of a war with China, unless you want to argue our current relation amounts to a cold war anyways.

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