Wednesday, September 30, 2020

No Winners

 Sucker Punched,

"Will You Shut Up, Man?!"
  I watched the first 15 minutes of the punchfest presidential debate, then popped back in a few times  while cooking a lovely dinner of fresh vegetables, some of which grew a few yards from the stove, but I digress, like Joe Biden, who did better than I expected. 
  Donald Trump kept trying to knock Biden off his train of thought, to derail him. It was a relentless effort of punches from all sides and pestering, and it did not really work. Trump did not "digress" per se, but did what he wanted to do, as usual.
  Trump's attacks seemed to be centering for "sleepy Joe", who looked really sharp with his suit and facelift, but also wooden, really wooden...
President Donald had a really nice golf-face tan. Orange. It looked natural. Trump looked natural.
  In an important way, Biden "won" the battle by not getting knocked out. 
Biden maintained plausibility despite interrupting his own sentences from the beginning. 
He did manage to get back on track and answer, usually, but would never answer Trump's nagging, like about "packing the Supreme Court". Considering the rules-as-applied, that exercise of judgement was in Biden's favor. 
  Trump said what he wanted to say before circuitously answering questions, typically with a turn-of-the knife, like Trump...

I personally suspect Trump and Biden were both legally medicated for this debate. 
Rumor has it that Trump takes Ritalin.
 I don't know what Joe's "stack" was last night, but it worked well enough for him to not be Ronald Reagan ca. 1988. 
What are the choices of "legal" nootropic drugs to maximize performance in a strategic presidential election? 
Here are some serious contenders. There are others: 
Smart Drugs and Nootropics

I Lived Through Collapse. America Is Already There.
Living in Sri Lanka during the end of the civil war, I saw how life goes on, surrounded by death

The Redistribution Games
​  ​Life is not the Olympics, where talent and training determine an athlete’s performance. It’s more like a Roman arena in which well-armed gladiators vanquish unarmed victims who lose not because they did not try hard enough, but because of the asymmetrical initial distribution of armor.
​ In the 1950s and 1960s, hard work and an innovative mind could perhaps be relied upon to lift people from poverty and propel them upward. But that was possible only because society imposed constraints on what the ultra-wealthy, bankers especially, were allowed to do with their money. Since those constraints were removed, with the collapse of the Bretton Woods system and the ensuing financialization of our economies, working long hours and showing immense flair may get one nowhere.
​  ​The problem facing most people, especially the young, is not that superstars like Warren Buffett are leaving them behind. It is that they are being held behind by stagnant investment and wages, owing to the simple fact that the wealthy get wealthier almost in their sleep, for reasons that have nothing to do with effort, entrepreneurship, or parsimony.​..
​  Fortunately, there are proven ways to redistribute wealth without violating anyone’s rights or crossing ethical lines. In 1906, Theodore Roosevelt famously broke up Standard Oil and other cartels despite a chorus of opposition bemoaning his attack on innovation and entrepreneurship. Following the 1929 Wall Street collapse, another Roosevelt, Franklin Delano, faced the same chorus when he put the financial genie in a bottle. With these two moves, the Roosevelts effected a redistribution of wealth and power that nothing short of a revolution could accomplish.

​There is a war on between Azerbaijan (+ Turkey) and Armenia over contested lands from the 1994 war:
Nagorno-Karabakh is a breakaway region inside Azerbaijan that is controlled by ethnic Armenians and backed by Armenia. It broke away from Azerbaijan in a war during the 1990s but is not recognised by any country as an independent republic.
A​rmenia saysa Turkish F-16 shot down an Armenian fighter plane over Armenia, killing the pilot. Turkey denies it. If true, it would activate a mutual defense treaty and bring Russia in with Armenia, against NATO member, Turkey. There is a gas pipeline route being contested.
The war has already spread across the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, and both Armenian and Azerbaijani officials say they will not negotiate now.

Moon of Alabama has more context. Whose drones were those?
​  ​During the last weeks there was news that Turkey was hiring some 2,000 'Syrian rebels' to fight in Azerbaijan against Armenian forces which since 1993 occupy Nagorno- Karabakh. Earlier today the Azerbaijan forces and the mercenaries launched their attack on Armenian lines. It was a massacre. Two Azerbaijani helicopters were shot down. Some 10 tanks and armored troop transporters went up in flames. Azerbaijani artillery hit some civilian structures in Stepankert, the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh. Turkish(?) drones hit Armenia front positions.

​South Front has more context. It's complexificated.
​  The 2018 political crisis in Armenia the led to a seizure of power in the country by de-facto pro-Western forces led by current Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan which did not strengthen Armenian positions over the territorial dispute. The double standard policy of the Armenian government, which was de-facto conducting anti-Russian actions but keeping public rhetoric pro-Russian, also played its own role. For years, Russia has been the only guarantor of Armenian statehood and the only force capable to rescue it in the event of a full-scale Azerbaijani-Turkish attack. Nonetheless, the Armenian leadership did pretty well in undermining its strategic partnership with its neighbor.

More geopolitical context from Moon of Alabama:
  The United States could extend Russia in the Caucasus in two ways. First, the United States could push for a closer NATO relation-ship with Georgia and Azerbaijan, likely leading Russia to strengthen its military presence in South Ossetia, Abkhazia, Armenia, and southern Russia.
  Alternatively, the United States could try to induce Armenia to break with Russia. Although a long-standing Russian partner, Armenia has also developed ties with the West: It provides troops to NATO-led operations in Afghanistan and is a member of NATO’s Partnership for Peace, and it also recently agreed to strengthen its political ties with the EU. The United States might try to encourage Armenia to move fully into the NATO orbit. If the United States were to succeed in this policy, then Russia might be forced to withdraw from its army base at Gyumri and an army and air base near Yerevan (currently leased until 2044), and divert even more resources to its Southern Military District.
  The RAND report gives those options only a poor chance to succeed. But that does not not mean that the U.S. would not try to create some additional problems in Russia's southern near abroad. It may have given its NATO ally Turkey a signal that it would not mind if Erdogan gives Aliyev a helping hand and jumps into anther war against Russia.
  Unless Armenian core land is seriously attacked Russia will likely stay aside. It will help Armenia with intelligence and equipment flown in through Iran. It will continue to talk with both sides and will try to arrange a ceasefire.

Eleni sends this article from the day war broke out, with lots of video. Azerbaijan took a lot of initial military equipment losses as it attacked.

What's the Conflict Between Greece and Turkey All About? 
(History remains in play, and it's about tapping flows of power, and denying them to other players.)
The Mediterranean gas and oil fields are vital energy/power sources, currently being contested.

Thanks Eleni​; Hybrid-warfare-defenses in action:  Greece files against 33 NGO members for assisting human traffickers
​  ​Citing a press release by the Lesvos Police directorate, local news website stonisi, writes that “under the pretext of humanitarian action, those involved provided refugees in Turkey information about landing coordinates and weather conditions via closed groups and internet applications.”
​  ​The information included:
​Gathering places on the Turkish coast and departure time for voyage to Lesvos.
​C​oordinates (longitude and latitude) of specific refugee flows and their direction at a specific time and place
​N​umber of third-country nationals onboard of boats and the prevailing situation during the voyage
​F​inal destination (landing place on the coast),
​D​etails for the accommodation at Moria refugees center on Lesvos.”
​  ​The Police announcement said also that “in addition, through the extensive use of a specific telephone connection application, related to the activation of rescue operations, they hampered the operational work of the Greek Coast Guard vessels, at a time when migratory flows were evolving.”

​More context from Eleni in Athens: 
The US' Hybrid War On Russian Energy Targets Germany, Belarus, And Bulgaria
  The US is ruthlessly waging an intense Hybrid War on Russian energy interests in Europe by targeting the Eurasian Great Power's relevant projects in Germany, Belarus, and Bulgaria, banking on the fact that even the partial success of this strategy would greatly advance the scenario of an externally provoked “decoupling” between Moscow and Washington's transatlantic allies.

  Is the tide finally prepared to turn towards actual public health in the US? 
My marker is when this country pushes vitamin-D supplements to everybody, which will reduce COVID-19 impacts, but also heart attacks, strokes, and even diabetes, as well as the impact of infectious diseases, in general. ("Vaccine? We don't need no stinking vaccine!")
  This study is from Boston, and even mentions RACE.  
COVID-19 patients who get enough vitamin D are 52% less likely to die of the infection, study finds
​  ​Boston University researchers found that COVID019 patients with 'sufficient' levels  of vitamin D wer about 52 percent less likely to die after hospitalization
Rates of severe illness were about 13 percent lower in vitamin D-sufficient patients and intubation was  46% less common  
Vitamin D plays a crucial role in the immune system's ability to fight infection and keep inflammation - which kills many COVID-19 patients - in check
About 42 percent of Americans are vitamin D deficient, with higher rates among elderly Americans and people of color
Black, Hispanic and elderly people are also among the hardest hit by coronavirus

​Medical Express News, in the US also has the story. Is it going mainstream? (The bar of "adequate" is below "normal" That's not obvious.)
Adequate levels of vitamin D reduces complications, death among COVID-19 patients
​  ​In patients older than 40 years they observed that those patients who were vitamin D sufficient ​(levels 30-100)were 51.5 percent less likely to die from the infection compared to patients who were vitamin D deficient​ (levels under 20)​ or insufficient​​ with a blood level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D less than 30 ng/mL (but more than 20)​.
​  ​Holick, who most recently published a study which found that a sufficient amount of vitamin D can reduce the risk of catching coronavirus by 54 percent, believes that being vitamin D sufficient helps to fight consequences from being infected not only with the corona virus but also other viruses causing upper respiratory tract illnesses including influenza. "There is great concern that the combination of an influenza infection and a coronal viral infection could substantially increase hospitalizations and death due to complications from these viral infections."

​Here is CNBC, packaging this message in sanitized, disposable plastic, for mainstream American consumption. 
The Decision appears to have been made to get America healthier, even if it runs counter to a whole lot of interests. 
It's a grudging start.​
Dr. Fauci says to take vitamin D if you're deficient — here's how to know
  While Dr. Anthony Fauci admits most "so-called immune boosting" supplements being marketed amid Covid-19 mostly do "nothing," he does believe in the benefits of vitamin D.
  "If you are deficient in vitamin D, that does have an impact on your susceptibility to infection. So I would not mind recommending, and I do it myself taking vitamin D supplements," Fauci, 79, said during an Instagram Live on Sept. 10.

Somewhat Illuminated

Pictured planting Texas heirloom garlic a couple of weekends ago, and with some garden rows prepared for fall planting this past weekend
I've been busy with 3 gardens, and less able to post, because of it. It's not done yet.

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