Shelbyville hospital boss urges skeptics to get vaccinated

In addition to Major Hospital being at capacity, he said the Indianapolis hospitals are at the breaking point.

Re: V'ger

There is a saying in science that it is never aliens... until it is. A great many natural phenomena can generate electromagnetic radiation.

On Wed, Sep 8, 2021 at 7:01 PM Larry wrote:

I am enjoying a great sci fi book called Omega from Jack MxDevitt, which has bad things coming from the galactic center...but here is something new in reality...

Astronomers have detected a strange, repeating radio signal near the center of the Milky Way, and it's unlike any other energy signature ever studied.

According to a new paper accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal and posted on the preprint server arXiv, the energy source is extremely finicky, appearing bright in the radio spectrum for weeks at a time and then completely vanishing within a day. This behavior doesn't quite fit the profile of any known type of celestial body, the researchers wrote in their study, and thus may represent "a new class of objects being discovered through radio imaging."

The radio source — known as ASKAP J173608.2−321635 — was detected with the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) radio telescope, situated in the remote Australian outback. In an ASKAP survey taken between April 2019 and August 2020, the strange signal appeared 13 times, never lasting in the sky for more than a few weeks, the researchers wrote. This radio source is highly variable, appearing and disappearing with no predictable schedule, and doesn't seem to appear in any other radio telescope data prior to the ASKAP survey.

When the researchers tried to match the energy source with observations from other telescopes — including the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory, as well as the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy in Chile, which can pick up near-infrared wavelengths — the signal disappeared entirely. With no apparent emissions in any other part of the electromagnetic spectrum, ASKAP J173608.2−321635 is a radio ghost that seems to defy explanation.

Prior surveys have detected low-mass stars that periodically flare up with radio energy, but those flaring stars typically have X-ray counterparts, the researchers wrote. That makes a stellar source unlikely here


Merced River closed to public after California family dies on hiking trail in Sierra National Forest - ABC7 San Francisco

A cause of death has not been determined, and investigators are considering whether toxic algae blooms or other hazards may have contributed to the deaths.

Toxicology reports are still pending, and investigators have ruled out any weapons being used or dangerous gases from a mine along the trail.

On Tuesday, forest officials had closed access to trails in the area due to "unknown hazards."



‘Doomsday’ COVID variant worse than Delta


As if we didn't have enough problems.

How The Immune System ACTUALLY Works

Natural Immunity Is Real, And Here's What That Means | A Doctor Explains

China draws three bottom line on bilateral relations with U.S.

The U.S. must not challenge, slander or even attempt to subvert the path and system of socialism with Chinese characteristics, Wang said, stating the first of the three demands. Chosen by history and the Chinese people, China's path and system are matters of Chinese people's welfare and Chinese nation's future as well as core interests that China must firmly uphold, he added.

Secondly, the U.S. must not attempt to obstruct or interrupt China's development process, Wang said. The Chinese people have the right to live better lives and China has the right to modernize, as modernization is not an exclusive right of the U.S., he said, urging the U.S. to remove all unilateral sanctions, high tariffs, long-arm jurisdiction and technology blockade it has imposed on China as soon as possible.

China's third demand is that the U.S. must not infringe upon China's state sovereignty or damage China's territorial integrity, Wang said, referring to issues surrounding China's Xinjiang, Tibet, Hong Kong and Taiwan. These issues have never been about "human rights" or "democracy," but concerning "Xinjiang independence," "Tibet independence" and "Hong Kong independence." No country will allow its national sovereignty and security to be compromised, he reiterated.

As for the Taiwan issue, Wang said it's even more important. He said the fact that both sides of the Taiwan Straits belong to one and the same China and Taiwan is part of China has never changed and will never change. If "Taiwan independence" forces dare to provoke, China has the right to take any necessary measure to stop it, Wang said, urging the U.S. side to honor its commitment on Taiwan issue and act prudently.


List of Wrong doings:

Wolf warrior" foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian explained the "wrongdoings" include U.S. visa restrictions on Communist Party members, increased supervision of Chinese students, sanctions on Chinese companies, and the U.S. extradition request targeting Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.

First off, and without any apparent sense of irony, China is saying the only way Washington and Beijing can improve relations is if Beijing can make Washington's China policy. However, when we consider the issues China has raised, it becomes clear why that might be difficult.

Consider that increased U.S. scrutiny of Chinese student visa applications is necessary because many students are official or casual intelligence officers and agents.

COVID-19 origin tracing matters because there is a substantial possibility a devastating global pandemic originated in a Chinese government laboratory.

U.S. action over Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Xinjiang matters because of grotesque human rights abuses and China's betrayal of its treaty obligations. U.S. efforts to uphold free passage in the South China Sea matter because China intends to leverage access to those waters at the price of nations kneeling to its political demands.

Considering the South China Sea accounts for more than $3.5 trillion in international trade flows, this is no small concern.


Also on the list of "wrongdoings," was the suppression of Chinese companies, "harassing" of Chinese students overseas and attacks on the Confucius Institute. Beijing also wants America to not extradite Meng Wanzhou, a Chinese business executive who served as Huawei's chief financial officer.

Meng was detained and arrested at a Canadian airport in 2018 on a U.S. extradition request alleging fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud. The Department of Justice accused Meng of conducting "millions of dollars" in transactions that violated sanctions the U.S. had against Iran.

"For years, Chinese firms have broken our export laws and undermined sanctions, often using U.S. financial systems to facilitate their illegal activities," former Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in a statement. "This will end."



How long does covid-19 immunity last? | The BMJ

How does natural immunity compare with vaccine induced immunity?

Various studies have shown that an immune response involving memory T and B cells emerges after covid-19 infection.11 But people's immune systems tend to respond in very different ways to natural infection,12 notes Eleanor Riley, professor of immunology and infectious disease at the University of Edinburgh. "The immune response after vaccination is much more homogenous," she says, adding that most people generally have a really good response after vaccination. Data from the clinical trials of the leading vaccine candidates have found T and B cell reactivity.13

Does vaccination make a difference to those who have already had covid-19?

There is some evidence that vaccination can sharpen immunity in people who have previously been infected with SARS-CoV-2 and recovered. A letter published in the Lancet in March discussed an experiment in which 51 healthcare workers in London were given a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine. Half of the healthcare workers had previously recovered from covid-19 and it was they who experienced the greatest boost in antibodies—more than 140-fold from peak pre-vaccine levels—against the virus's spike protein.14

Sarah Bernhardt: The World's First Celebrity

The Universe is Hostile to Computers


This Virus Shouldn't Exist (But it Does)

Apple Store vs. Repair Shop: What the Right to Repair Is All About


Moderna Creates Twice as Many Antibodies as Pfizer, Study Shows - Bloomberg

On Tue, Aug 31, 2021 at 9:21 AM Albertwrote:
Some good news for those who have taken the 2-shot Moderna vaccine.

Moderna Creates Twice as Many Antibodies as Pfizer, Study Shows - Bloomberg


On Tue, Aug 31, 2021 at 1:59 PM John wrote:
It appeared that people had more reactions to the Moderna vaccine, so I wanted Pfizer.

The number of antibodies isn't the whole story.  Your body creates memory T-cells that provide long-term immunity.

From: Albert 

Most likely these are all moot points since we are just about to authorize booster shots for the original COVID-19 virus. Unfortunately, for us, COVID-19 will continue to mutate and we will have to stay ahead of the mutations. When the true "killer mutation" comes into being, our vaccines may be impotent and unable to save us. Thanks, China!


Now Games Can Look Like Pixar Movies - Unreal Engine 5

The bottom line is that the Unreal Engine allows massively detailed images to be generated in real-time for either games, or like on The Mandalorian TV series where they use a dome with screens on all sides to generate the environment for the actors to act in.  (https://techcrunch.com/2020/02/20/how-the-mandalorian-and-ilm-invisibly-reinvented-film-and-tv-production/)


The first version of the Unreal Engine was used to make a videogame in the late '90s called "Unreal".  I played this game.  By today's standards, it was very crude, but it was actually a step up from what we were used to at the time.


CNN: “There is no room to put these bodies,” Alabama health official says as COVID-19 deaths climb

"There is no room to put these bodies," Alabama health official says as COVID-19 deaths climb
The rate of Covid-19 deaths has increased in 42 US states in the last week, according to new data, as the spread of the more virulent coronavirus Delta variant has upended a spring of reopenings and led to increasing concern headed into autumn.

Read in CNN: https://apple.news/AWTntWpaaQOGf5U7Ub2n_fQ

Shared from Apple News

N95 masks

---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: John 

There is misinformation that has been around since the beginning that claims that trying to stop a virus with a mask is like trying to stop mosquitoes with a chain-link fence due to the submicroscopic size of the virus.  However, N95 masks are designed to stop 95% of all particles.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQmZou7TaVc&t=261s

In addition, all masks help stop infected people from expelling water droplets that carry the virus.

On Wed, Aug 25, 2021 at 3:20 AM wrote:
If you can smell a fart through your mask, how is it going to stop a microscopic COVID-19 virus? It's not. Your most likely to get covid by touching a covid infected surface and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.


US Coronavirus: 'There is no room to put these bodies,' Alabama health official says, as Covid-19 deaths climb - CNN

The state activated two of its four refrigerated trailers for the first time since the pandemic began, Harris said, in Mobile and Baldwin counties this week.

"These are typically held in case of a mass casualty event for example, when a large number of bodies appear at one time. This is actually a situation that is happening in Alabama hospitals now," Harris said.

Antibodies waning? The immune system has a backup plan for that

The team noted that antibodies gradually ebbed, but that the shots generated durable immune memory to SARS-CoV-2 in the form of B and T cells that increased over time to help ward off serious illness.

Afghanistan: British Army surgeon used new parenting skills to comfort baby passed over barbed wire

Every effort was made to unite the children with their parents - and the baby girl was reunited with her mother, who are both now safely home.


What immunity did having COVID give me? Do I need a vaccine? - WHYY

A prior infection offers protection in the range of 80%, compared to about 95% for the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, said Dr. John Wherry, director of the Institute for Immunology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. That means about 15 to 20 out of every 100 people who have previously had COVID-19 could get reinfected, while 5 out of every 100 people who got an mRNA vaccine might get infected.

It is not clear to me why a prior infection wouldn't be more effective at preventing the disease.


An evidence review of face masks against COVID-19 | PNAS


Our review of the literature offers evidence in favor of widespread mask use as source control to reduce community transmission: Nonmedical masks use materials that obstruct particles of the necessary size; people are most infectious in the initial period postinfection, where it is common to have few or no symptoms (45, 46, 141); nonmedical masks have been effective in reducing transmission of respiratory viruses; and places and time periods where mask usage is required or widespread have shown substantially lower community transmission.

The available evidence suggests that near-universal adoption of nonmedical masks when out in public, in combination with complementary public health measures, could successfully reduce ReRe to below 1, thereby reducing community spread if such measures are sustained. Economic analysis suggests that mask wearing mandates could add 1 trillion dollars to the US GDP (32, 34).

Models suggest that public mask wearing is most effective at reducing spread of the virus when compliance is high (39). We recommend that mask use requirements are implemented by governments, or, when governments do not, by organizations that provide public-facing services. Such mandates must be accompanied by measures to ensure access to masks


During past national crises, persons in the US have willingly united and endured temporary sacrifices for the common good. Recovery of the nation from the COVID-19 pandemic requires the combined efforts of families, friends, and neighbors working together in unified public health action. When masks are worn and combined with other recommended mitigation measures, they protect not only the wearer but also the greater community. Recommendations for masks will likely change as more is learned about various mask types and as the pandemic evolves. With the emergence of more transmissible SARS-CoV-2 variants, it is even more important to adopt widespread mask wearing as well as to redouble efforts with use of all other nonpharmaceutical prevention measures until effective levels of vaccination are achieved nationally.


I suspect that mask-wearing is marginally helpful, mostly to prevent the infected from spreading droplets, but not near as good as vaccination.  I find that wearing a mask for more than an hour to be pretty uncomfortable around my ears.  I am going to try to see if I could find a more comfortable mask.


Hospitals pen letter to unvaccinated Tennesseans

As the healthcare systems of Middle Tennessee, we are banding together in one unified voice to ask you, to beg you, to get vaccinated against COVID-19. We have seen, firsthand, the unnecessary suffering this horrible disease wreaks on the human body. We have had many patients in our ICUs, with machines keeping them alive, who wished they had gotten the vaccine but at that point it's just too late. They, along with their families, are living with regret. Our caregivers are growing more and more saddened and frustrated that simple steps that could greatly reduce the loss of life are not being embraced.

Our clinical leaders strongly support the vaccine. They have studied the science behind it, and it is safe and effective. The likelihood of getting seriously ill, becoming hospitalized or even dying as a result of COVID-19 is greatly diminished if you are fully vaccinated.

Peak COVID cases

Indiana has 4,000 new cases daily. That is approaching peak pandemic levels. One out of 8 people in Indiana has had COVID. Bartholemew county is 1 out of 9.5. Nationally it is 1 out of 11, with 102,000 new cases daily.



Magnus Carlsen get mated in 8 seconds and rips his shirt off!

When Magnus Carlsen plays Bullet, which is any chess time control where a player has less than three minutes to make all his moves, he often "premoves" anticipating what his opponent is going to do.  Many Bullet games are played with just one minute per person.  

These time controls are played mostly online since bullet would be more difficult to play in person.   The last time I played 1-minute-chess in person, it made my arm sore for days probably due to arthritis.

The bizarre COVID side effect no one is talking about



The Most Important Invention of the 20th Century: Transistors

A doctor discusses COVID vaccine myths and misconceptions

Rate of death

Heart disease1 in 6
Cancer1 in 7
All preventable causes of death1 in 24
Chronic lower respiratory disease1 in 27
Suicide1 in 88
Opioid overdose1 in 92
Fall1 in 106
Motor-vehicle crash1 in 107
Gun assault1 in 289
Pedestrian incident
1 in 520
1 in 543
Motorcyclist1 in 899
Drowning1 in 1,128
Fire or smoke1 in 1,547
Choking on food1 in 2,535
Bicyclist1 in 3,825
Sunstroke1 in 8,248
Accidental gun discharge1 in 8,571
Electrocution, radiation, extreme temperatures, and pressure1 in 13,394
Sharp objects1 in 29,334
Cataclysmic storm1 in 58,669
Hornet, wasp, and bee stings1 in 59,507
Hot surfaces and substances1 in 63,113
Dog attack1 in 86,781
COVID Vaccine
1 in 138,849
1 in 62,400,000



From Larry:

Violent crime is spiraling out of control in America's cities. COVID-19 cases are significantly rising throughout the country. Inflation is on the rise. Illegal immigrants are crossing the border in record numbers. The Taliban took over Afghanistan in less time than it takes to binge-watch the latest Netflix release. President Joe Biden has been on the job less than seven months, but his "Build Back Better" platform turned into "Make America Worse Again" very quickly


Delta variant: Pfizer Covid vaccine 39% effective in Israel, prevents severe illness

VFX Artists DEBUNK Pentagon UFO Videos

That Time a Science Fiction Writer Accidentally Almost Revealed the Manhattan project.

The author Robert Heinlein wrote a story about radioactive weapons of mass destruction midway into World War II.  He wrote about weapons that would kill people through radioactivity.  This was actually a pretty good story.   However, he considered writing about an atomic bomb instead but didn't do so because he thought that the U.S. government might be secretly working on such a weapon.  In science fiction, the idea of an atomic bomb predates World War II.

After the Trinity test, engineers at Polaroid noticed that radioactivity in the atmosphere was affecting their photographic film, and so they figured out that an atomic bomb had been detonated.  Since the light from the Trinity test could be seen from a great distance, the army had a cover story that a secret weapons depot had exploded.

In the early 1930s, Japanese comic books had stories where the Japanese would be victorious against the United States by destroying the American fleet in a surprise attack.


Should You Get Vaccinated NOW? | A Doctor Explains

The Genesis of the 1918 Spanish Influenza Pandemic

This is interesting.  It is long, but I found it interesting.

The Surprising Genius of 3D Printed Rockets

AMA, JAHA, JAMA, et all go CRT

From: Larry

In Minneapolis, Hennepin Healthcare System removed gynecologist Tara Gustilo, of Filipino descent, from her position as chair of the OB/GYN department after members of her department questioned her "ability to lead." The demotion followed her series of Facebook posts criticizing critical race theory, Black Lives Matter and "How to Be an Antiracist" author Ibram X. Kendi, and her insistence that her department must strictly adhere to race-neutral policies with regard to patient care.

Gustilo has filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in which she describes critical race theory as "a race essentialist ideology that presupposes zero sum racial conflict and seeks to remedy that by discriminating against individuals, so as to make group outcomes more equal." 

The AMA's 86-page strategic plan endorses critical race theory, intersectionality and equity as core elements of a medical school education. Consistent with those doctrines, the AMA's equity strategy repudiates equal treatment and meritocracy, denouncing them as "malignant," white supremacist ideologies that serve to obscure "true power and site of responsibility." The AMA condemns the "detrimental effects of colonization, racial capitalism, and enduring forms of supremacism" that contribute to a "persistent cycle of structural violence."

Colleagues and other doctors on Twitter denounced as racist University of Pittsburgh cardiologist and professor Norman Wang, who is ethnically Chinese, after his peer-reviewed paper last year critiqued affirmative action as illegal and discriminatory. The Journal of the American Heart Association, which published the paper, soon retracted it, alleging "deliberate misinformation or misrepresentation." Wang's employer demoted him from his role as director of a fellowship program for physicians, barred him from contact with fellows and residents, and temporarily prohibited Wang from contact with med students. Kathryn Berlacher, director of the cardiology fellowship program, reprimanded him in an email: "It is clear to us that any educational environment in which you partake is inherently unsafe, increasing our learners' risk for undue bias and harm." 

"Rise up, colleagues!"Mayo Clinic cardiologist and diversity director Sharonne Hayes Tweeted in August in response to Wang's article. "The fact that this is published in 'our' journal should both enrage & activate all of us."

Placebo instead of Vaccine

Based on witness testimony, police investigator Peter Beer said there was "a reasonable suspicion" that the rogue medical professional had administered shots of saline solution to up to 8,600 patients who were slated to receive the COVID jab, Reuters reported.

"I am totally shocked by this episode," Sven Ambrosy, a local councilor, said of the alarming switcheroo, which reportedly occurred in March and April in Friesland in northern Germany.

It's unknown why the shot-blocker — reportedly a Red Cross nurse — had injected people with blanks; however, she had reportedly broadcast anti-vax views on social media, investigators reported.

And while the faux jab was harmless, it may have disproportionately affected elderly people, who are at a greater risk of contracting the virus.

Anti-vax nurse gave 8,600 people saline, not COVID vaccine: police (nypost.com)


An honest conversation on Apple, hashing, & privacy with Daniel Smullen

How is Apple examining the data on my phone any different than Wiretapping?

It is a federal crime to wiretap or to use a machine to capture the communications of others without court approval, unless one of the parties has given their prior consent. It is likewise a federal crime to use or disclose any information acquired by illegal wiretapping or electronic eavesdropping.



I read that only 50% of the eligible U.S. population has been fully vaccinated, which makes me wonder what is the problem with the other 50%? The vaccines have been available for about 8 months, and anyone who wants one can get one easily. Many pharmacies are allowing people to just walk in and get it.



Federal Government Gives Millions To ‘Justice Reform Change Agent’ That Supports Defunding The Police | The Daily Caller

Gain of Function

"You take an animal virus and you increase its transmissibility to humans, you're saying that's not gain-of-function?" he asked.

But George Mason University's Gregory Koblentz, an expert in biodefense and dual use research, pointed out that WIV1 wasn't an animal virus enhanced to infect humans through gain-of-function research, because it was already shown to pose a danger to humans.  

"Sen. Paul is wrong when he says that the coronaviruses that were the subject of this research only infect animals and not humans and that this research was 'gain-of-function' because it enabled an animal virus to infect humans," Koblentz said. "The WIV1 strain was already known to be able to infect humans."

Even before the virus was edited in the lab, researchers found WIV1 was "poised for human emergence," writing it could infect human airway cells "with no significant adaptation required."

Fauci said the grant proposal "was judged by qualified people up and down the chain" in the federal government not to comprise gain-of-function research.

Experiments in synthetic biology that create engineered, or "chimeric," viruses that are "reasonably anticipated" to gain properties that make them more dangerous are supposed to get extra scrutiny by the government. At the time of the 2017 study, the government had implemented a pause on these experiments altogether.  

Changing the virus

The researchers in Wuhan spliced the WIV1 virus with other novel coronaviruses expressing spike proteins and grew them in the lab. The scientists tested whether the new engineered viruses could infect human-like cells with the ACE2 receptors that spike proteins bind to. They could.

Among the coauthors credited are Shi Zhengli, a Wuhan Institute virologist, and Peter Daszak, the president of EcoHealth, a nonprofit that served as a private intermediary between Wuhan and the NIH. The research received funding from NIH and USAID.

A key question is whether adding different spike proteins to a virus already known to infect human cells made that virus even more infectious or virulent.

Richard Ebright, a Rutgers microbiologist and biosecurity expert whom Paul cited at the hearing, says yes.

"The research was, unequivocally, gain-of-function research," he said. "There can be no serious doubt that Fauci knows this."

Others dispute whether it was, or say it's hard to know, but that the experiment was potentially dangerous. Not a lot is known about the novel coronaviruses that the Wuhan researchers edited into WIV1.

"A certain set of experiments that have been published by the Wuhan Institute … I view as particularly risky," said Relman of Stanford, calling attention to the WIV1 research.

"I'm not saying they led to this outbreak or pandemic by any means," he said, referring to COVID-19.

University of North Carolina researcher and Wuhan Institute of Virology collaborator Ralph Baric had already studied the WIV1 bat coronavirus and found it "to be a virus 'poised for human emergence,'" Relman said.

Relman described the experiment: The spike proteins of other novel coronaviruses found in samples taken from bats, whose virulence and transmissibility were unknown, were added to the WIV1 virus. Then those new viruses were grown in the lab.

Virologists argue this sort of research is important to learn about how viruses evolve in nature and where new outbreaks could emerge, while critics like Relman are not convinced.

"Their approach for studying novel sequences that they found in other samples was to take a piece of the genome, a piece of that sequence, and swap it into this WIV1 virus. They then resurrected this virus and grew them in the laboratory," Relman continued. "Now we're talking about a chimeric virus with properties we don't know and can't predict well."

Defense of the research

Virologists are less concerned about the WIV1 study.

Stephen Goldstein, a researcher of dangerous pathogens at a high-security lab in Utah and skeptic of the so-called "lab leak" theory, noted the paper showed some of the edited viruses were less infectious than the original WIV1.  

Georgetown University virologist Angela Rasmussen, another critic of the lab leak theory, acknowledged that the viruses were infectious to human-like cells, but said studying a cell line in a lab, as the Wuhan researchers did, isn't a good predictor of the virus' ability to infect real people.

"The definition [of gain-of-function research] refers to increased transmissibility and pathogenicity in humans, and you can't determine either of those things in a cell line," she said in an email. "That can test infectivity in an artificial system but is not remotely analogous to showing the virus is 'transmissible,' because there's a lot more to transmission in the real world than just receptor binding and entry."

Rasmussen said attempts by Paul to link WIV1 to the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 are a "politically motivated smear," echoing Fauci's argument that it's "molecularly impossible" they are related. Fauci was "right to call Sen. Paul a liar," she said.

The assurances of virologists have not alleviated the concerns of other researchers.

"What I would apply here is a little common sense. And if what you are doing is creating recombinants of a dangerous human virus that you know to have potential to be more infectious or more lethal, then I think that by any reasonable understanding of the term, you are engaged in gain-of-function," said Edward Hammond, a biosafety researcher and activist.

The rationale behind the NIH's approval of the grant is mysterious, because its reviews of gain-of-function research are confidential and there is relatively little public information about NIH's process.

Rasmussen acknowledged more discussion is needed about how the government reviews this sort of work.

Koblentz said the disagreement between Fauci and Paul shows how little is known about what the government views as gain-of-function research and what it doesn't.

"How 'enhanced' would a virus have to be to count as an enhanced potential pandemic pathogen?" said Koblentz. "It would be really useful for NIH to document these reviews and explain their reasoning and assessment."

Best wishes,

John Coffey



Who Gets To Decide the Truth? – Reason.com

But an objective observer would probably not have said that the Europe of the late medieval period was better organized or more advanced than the Europe of the Roman Empire at its height. In the year 1500, alien visitors might reasonably have pegged Homo sapiens as a stuck species. "Come back in another 100,000 years," they might have concluded, "and maybe these goofballs will be interesting."

People, Smith argued, come into the world equipped with what he called sympathy, or fellow-feeling; empathy is the word we might use today. We have a natural inclination to imagine how others see and feel, and to align our own perspectives and dispositions with theirs. Also, people come equipped with a desire to be trusted and respected by others. Through our desire for mutual esteem based on our empathetic intuitions, we can align our interests and form social bonds on a basis other than force or domination. True, human beings are also greedy and ambitious. Yet—here is Smith's most famous insight—a well-structured social order can harness those very traits to promote activity which benefits ourselves by benefiting others. If we get the rules right, millions of people of every imaginable skill and temperament and nationality can cooperate to build a fantastically complex device like a Prius or iPhone, all without the oversight or instruction of any central planner. If we get the rules right.

Smith's proposition seemed ridiculous, given that human history through his time was soaked in blood and oppression. His claim was redeemed only by the fact that it proved to be true. Although Smith did not invent markets, he notated the code which enabled a tribal primate, wired for personal relationships in small, usually related groups, to cooperate impersonally across unbounded networks of strangers, and to do so without any central authority organizing markets and issuing commands. Economic liberalism—market cooperation—is a species-transforming piece of social software, one which enables us to function far above our designed capacity.

The first is the idea of natural rights: fundamental rules that apply to all persons from birth to death—rules that all other persons and also sovereigns and governments are bound to respect, and which are to be respected impersonally and reciprocally. Because they are natural, these rights inhere in human nature and are present in the state of nature. They provide a built-in limiting principle to the war of all against all. For Locke, the fundamental rights are life, liberty, and property (meaning not just material property but authority over one's own body and conscience). Because rights are inborn rather than earned by merit or conferred by social position, they inhere equally. Individuals are always equal in their fundamental rights, even as they differ in countless other ways.

A second foundational principle is rule by consent. Governments are not instituted by divine authority to rule the people; they are instituted by the people to enforce natural rights. If governments exceed their authority or use it to violate the people's rights, Locke argued, they lose their claim to govern and may rightly be replaced. Government is sovereign within its grant of power, but the ultimate sovereignty belongs to the governed.

Third, toleration. Religious differences had torn Europe apart, in good measure because the combatants assumed that if one religion is true, then others must be false.