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Belmont Club

For We Know Not What We Do

December 10th, 2014 - 1:55 pm

I’d like to apologize to readers for failing to realize that a link in the previous article was to a satire piece. It’s getting harder to spot them, but just as an aging man has to try to walk each day or never walk again, the effort must be made, even though you’ll lose in the end. I’ll try harder next time.

While we’re on the subject of knowledge gaps, Micah Zenko of the Council of Foreign Relations notes that the CIA never measured the effectiveness of their covert programs.  Take interrogation. A memorandum by the CIA dated June 27, 2013 — but only released today — responds to “the SSCI’s conclusion that the ‘CIA never conducted its own comprehensive analysis of the effectiveness of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques’”. (emphasis mine)

We agree with Conclusion 10 in full. It underpins the most important lesson that we have drawn from The Study: CIA needs to develop the structure, expertise, and methodologies required to more objectively and systematically evaluate the effectiveness of our covert actions.

We draw this lesson going forward fully aware of how difficult it can be to measure the impact of a particular action or set of actions on an outcome in a real-world setting.

Zenko concludes that “therefore, the CIA admitted that — as late as June 2013 — it was simply incapable of evaluating the effectiveness of its covert activities.”  They just kept doing the same old covert things without knowing how well, or even if they were accomplishing their goals. Zenko’s main point comes next:

this also directly implies that the CIA lacks the ability to adequately evaluate its much larger, more lethal, and more consequential covert program: its role as the lead executive agency for drone strikes in Pakistan, and many of those in Yemen. … Based upon the best publicly available information, the CIA has killed an estimated 3,500 people in non-battlefield drone strikes since the program began on November 3, 2002 …

I have spoken with former and current National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) officials and analysts, who have always been uneasy with having CIA analysts evaluate CIA covert programs.

Specifically, they claim that — compared to the NCTC’s own analysis—CIA analysts are more likely to discount claims of collateral damage and the thesis that drone strikes creates blowback in the form of enhancing terrorist recruitment. …

If the 119 detainees who entered the rendition and interrogation program — 26 of whom were wrongly detained — deserve a public accounting, then don’t the 3,500 who have been killed deserve this as well? Or, is the United States simply more comfortable with torturing suspected terrorists than killing thirty times more of them?


Crazy Talk

December 9th, 2014 - 1:23 pm

There’s a saying that the surest way to go crazy is to keep the company of the insane.  Glenn Reynolds links to an account of a male gender studies  graduate telling every stranger he could find at a party to admit their “privilege”.   The man who may or may not have been invited, “moved throughout the party, unleashing the fundamental concepts of his undergraduate major at every opportunity. ‘It was kind of weird to get lectured about the patriarchy by, y’know, a member of the patriarchy,’ one victim commented. ‘He called me an Uncle Tom for wearing bras.’”

“Privilege” is the word du jour. Have you checked your privilege lately?

Recently there were two dueling articles in the Israeli press. The first, wrote Benjy Cannon of J Street,  argued that Jewishness could not excuse the crime of  ”whiteness”. “While I do not often think, write about, or actively engage with my whiteness, it is an omnipresent force in my life”.  This was challenged by Hila Hershkovitz in the Times of Israel, who asserts “Ashkenazi Jews are not white” or at least there was a time when real white people, guys with names like Himmler, didn’t think so.

She has a point.  Things are no longer what they seem.  Ward Churchill is Native American, as is Elizabeth Warren.  Nikki Haley is definitely not white, even though she’s checked the box.  And the whitest man in America, though he may not look it, is George Zimmerman.

A name is not a name either.  Lena Dunham  has responded to a threatened libel suit by admitting that the Republican called Barry who she says raped her in college wasn’t really called Barry. Random House is adding disclaimers warning readers not to take this book of nonfiction too literally.  Interestingly digital copies of Dunham’s autobiography are going to be redacted to fit Dunham’s new storyline.  So if you are reading a book hosted on the cloud and find the letters rearranging themselves before your very eyes, don’t worry, it’s not you that is going nuts, but the world.


Our 21st Century World

December 8th, 2014 - 4:59 pm

It was one of those days that remind forcefully remind you it’s the 21st century, when the world seems high definition in the way it never did in the last century.  Maybe it’s the clean air, the lack of clutter,  the gleaming brick and glass low rise buildings on both sides of the street peeking through the network of trees.  Or the people walking absently down the street consulting their smart phones or driving past guided by GPS beams.  The last time I got the feeling was walking through downtown Chevy Chase. But I guess suburban Sydney has caught up.

There was at all events a nice Japanese restaurant where I was going to meet a friend.  It was a little place with a stylishly worn wooden door,  full of Australians who 20 years ago would never have dreamed of eating raw fish and yet who were now if anything, eager to get it, along with the kikkoman soy sauce and wasabe. My friend had yakitori and a Sapporo, and I had a tempura set with a bottle of Three Monkeys.

“Do you think China’s going to start a war?” he asked.

“Nobody is going to start any such thing on purpose,” I said.  ”But these things typically happen by misadventure, not design.  The Great War began like that.” We live in a time of great opportunity, why would anyone mess it up?

Victor Davis Hanson, writing in the Fresno Bee, thinks that a large war is looming.  ”The world is changing and becoming even more dangerous — in a way we’ve seen before.”

The ancient ingredients of war are all on the horizon. An old postwar order crumbles amid American indifference. Hopes for true democracy in post-Soviet Russia, newly capitalist China or ascendant Turkey long ago were dashed. Tribalism, fundamentalism and terrorism are the norms in the Middle East as the nation-state disappears.

Under such conditions, history’s wars usually start when some opportunistic — but often relatively weaker — power does something unwise on the gamble that the perceived benefits outweigh the risks. That belligerence is only prevented when more powerful countries collectively make it clear to the aggressor that it would be suicidal to start a war that would end in the aggressor’s sure defeat.

It seems a preposterous idea, mad even. Why would anyone endanger our world of wonders? But the key thing to remember is that while everyone on he planet lives in the 21st century its development has not been even.  Everyone can buy a GoPro but in America these POV HD cameras are mounted on rock climber’s helmets capturing artificial thrills while in Syria they are mounted on T-72 tanks recording excitements the users would gladly do without.


Proof of Life

December 7th, 2014 - 3:01 pm

The intellectual role that used to be occupied by theology is now largely filled by science fiction. Wikipedia lists only a dozen of possibly hundreds of books where writers, some of them practicing mathematicians or scientists themselves, examine the consequences of our current understanding of the universe.  The familiar, everyday world that we know isn’t what it seems. It is actually a strange place.

On large scales it isn’t governed by ‘common sense’ Newtonian physics but by the paradoxes of relativity.  At very small scales, perhaps at its foundation, it is governed by quantum phenomena, which is stranger still.  Arthur Eddington said “not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine.”  But we try not to think about that in our daily lives.

It is commonly believed that very smartest people are atheists. In fact, the really intelligent tend to discuss things like multiverses and singularities, driven by the knowledge that reality is really, really wierd.  David Deutsch, for example,  has attempted to describe the implied fabric of reality as an infinitude of multiverses entangled by consciousness.

It implies, incidentally, that free will is real, as science writer Stephen Whitt noted with relief:

Now insert a living thing into this multiverse. Life is knowledge, and (as Deutsch said in Beginning of Infinity) “(K)nowledge is information which, when it is embodied in a suitable environment, tends to cause itself to remain so.” (BoI, p 123) What can this possibly mean in a multiverse? It means that we no longer have an evenly branching tree! Knowledge causes itself to remain embodied. Once you have knowledge, for instance a living thing, that living thing makes choices. How? Living things that aren’t people do it through variation and selection. Once you have plants in the multiverse, you’re going to have more than the expected number of universes in the multiverse in which plants survive and thrive. Variation and selection ensures that plants develop good survival strategies (because those are the ones that survive).

It may occur to you that Deutsch’s idea of multiverses joined by consciousness incidentally provides a solution to the Fermi Paradox. I have often quoted a friend’s joke maintaining that human folly was so great that the only way the continued survival of the species could be explained is through the operation of Providence or the guidance of Space Aliens. The Fermi Paradox says the same thing. Human life seems incredibly improbable, for our instruments can’t find anyone else. We must really be special to be here, otherwise as Fermi noted, then where is everyone?

The Fermi Paradox is non-trivial challenge to our concept of ‘life’. As Enrico Fermi pointed out, if Space Aliens were anything like us, given the cosmic time scales involved the galaxy should already be colonized by life.

The Fermi paradox can be asked in two ways. The first is, “Why are no aliens or their artifacts physically here?” If interstellar travel is possible, even the “slow” kind nearly within the reach of Earth technology, then it would only take from 5 million to 50 million years to colonize the galaxy. This is a relatively small amount of time on a geological scale, let alone a cosmological one. Since there are many stars older than the Sun, or since intelligent life might have evolved earlier elsewhere, the question then becomes why the galaxy has not been colonized already. Even if colonization is impractical or undesirable to all alien civilizations, large-scale exploration of the galaxy is still possible using various means of exploration and theoretical probes. However, no signs of either colonization or exploration have been generally acknowledged.


The Battle of the Monsters

December 6th, 2014 - 4:35 pm

In the highly touted “anti-corruption campaign” being waged by the Chinese Communist Party, corruption seems to be winning. The Washington Post reports that despite a year of campaigning China is now rated by Transparency International as ‘slightly more corrupt than places like Colombia, Egypt and Liberia’, falling 20 places from its former ranking.

David Frum believes corruption will win in any case.  He Tweets ”In democracies, official is accused of corruption, loses power. In China, official loses power, is accused of corruption.”  Conviction of corruption is the fate of losers. The winners are always clean.  Frum’s bon mot would be more accurate had he deleted all before “in China”.

Beijing has launched “Operation Fox Hunt”, which seeks the cooperation of the Obama administration in running to earth those suspects who are hiding from the Chinese Communist Party in the United States.

China has asked the United States to help it track down more than 100 people suspected of corruption and who China believes are in the United States, a US official said on Friday.

The official, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter, said those on the list had Chinese names but it was not clear if they were all Chinese nationals.

“The majority of them are related to crimes of corruption or economic malfeasance,” he said. “The list is not precisely clear in terms of the details of the nature of the crimes, the evidence or the whereabouts” of the accused.

The United States is where Chinese Communists go to spend their money. Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post describes niche travel agencies, catering to Communists, which specialized in arranging luxury tours to the US.

Almost every year for more than a decade, tour group operator Carson Zhang guided a delegation of about two dozen Chinese government officials from Guangdong province’s Forestry Administration for a two-week trip through the national parks of California, Tennessee, and Georgia.

Along with presentations about forest fires and trail preservation, the officials enjoyed lobster and steak dinners, went to see Tennessee bluegrass musicians perform, and made a stop at one of Orange County, California’s shopping malls.

Zhang’s company, American Carson International, catered almost exclusively to government tour groups from Guangdong. But in the past couple of years, official tourism from there has been scaled back, and the forestry group has not visited the US since 2012, Zhang said.

President Xi Jinping’s crackdown on government corruption, which began almost two years ago, has had a profound impact on this niche of the US tourism industry.

Carson International’s tour business has declined of late. Chinese Government officials formerly out for a good time are now on the lookout for safe houses to hole up in. “The Washington-based Global Financial Integrity Group estimates that $1.08 trillion illegally flowed out of China from 2002 to 2011.” After all, a trillion here and a trillion there and pretty soon you’re talking real money — the kind of money that will either buy you friends or make you enemies.


Zhou Yongkang

December 5th, 2014 - 2:01 pm

The exercise of state authority is often — and meant to be — an awe-inspiring spectacle.  Movie goers are familiar with the scene: thundering converging helicopters, SWAT vans  with flashing lights closing in; armed men in Kevlar vests advancing in a stack with firearms at the ready.  And if the perp is smart he’ll throw down his guns and hope  Steve McGarrett is there to utter his trademark “book ‘em Danno”. But imagine a police agency that makes the FBI or Scotland Yard look little league.  The Shuanggui pronounced (SHWANG’-gwei) is the secret police of the Communist Party of China, otherwise known as the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection  or CCDI.  They don’t arrive with flashing lights and thumping rotors.  They just show up and then they take you with them, often forever. And they’ve been hard at work arresting tens of thousands of Chinese communists, torturing them to extract confessions and otherwise rounding up anyone connected with Zhou Yongkang, recently the internal security chief of China and head of its oil industry; one of the most powerful men in China now headed for life imprisonment and secret death.

Li Qiang, the Communist Party boss of an eastern coastal city in China, was wrapping up a speech on corruption on the morning of September 17 when an ominous group of men appeared. The men were Communist Party graft investigators, sent from the powerful but opaque Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), tasked to look into allegations of graft in the party’s ranks. And they were waiting for Li. As he was about to leave, Li, the municipal party secretary of Lianyungang in Jiangsu province, was whisked away by the investigators. By afternoon, the CCDI had announced his detention under suspicion of “serious discipline violations” – party speak for graft. That was the last time the public saw Li. He is just one among almost 75,000 party members who have been investigated by the CCDI and its regional units since President Xi Jinping rose to power at the end of 2012.

Imagine reading in the papers that a person having the attributes of oil billionaire, Hillary Clinton, Eric Holder and General Hayden were suddenly arrested on charges of espionage. The English word “purge” probably conjures up images of Ex-lax among Western readers. But as the Washington Post notes, in China ‘purge’ connotes images of a high rise concrete building, surrounded by a seven foot security wall, off limits to everybody, with only an address number to suggest its purpose, with website “”.  The headquarters of the CCDI is where you go never to return. “In the middle of the building’s garden stands a 350-year-old locust tree. Visitors are often told it’s meant to symbolize the impartiality of justice.” Cynics say it really symbolizes “the guilty sitting in judgment of the guilty”. The Washington post recounts that “Lin Zhe, a professor at the Central Party School, an influential party institution, has visited the disciplinary detention center in Shanghai. (more…)

Da Doo Ron Ron

December 3rd, 2014 - 4:38 pm

When Japan was facing a resource crisis in the years immediately before the Second World War the strategists of the imperial general staff considered two broad options for expansion: the Hokushin-ron (or Northern Expansion) would put them on a collision course with the primary Eurasian land power: the Soviet Union.  The Nanshin-ron (or Southern Expansion) on the other hand, would put them in conflict with the maritime powers: Britain and above all, the United States.  We

David Goldman, better known as ‘Spengler’, argues that China, as today’s dominant Asian power, is  facing the same dilemma.  Like imperial Japan, it needs energy and resources.  One path to the oil wells lies to its West through Russia.  The other and maritime road is in the grip of Japan and the United States.  Spengler argues that despite America’s fears that the Dragon will breaks its chains in the Pacific, it has already chosen to push past the mangy Bear as the path of least resistance.  The push will be commercial and economic in nature but in the end it will be the sleek Dragon over the emaciated Bear.

The whole Eurasian landmass is likely to become a Chinese economic zone, especially now that Russia is more amenable to Chinese terms. That the Americans would have helped bring this to fruition by tilting at windmills in Ukraine baffles the Chinese, but they are enjoying the result.

The economic impact of this is hard to fathom, but it is likely to extend Chinese influence westwards on a scale that the West simply hasn’t begun to imagine. It is not at all clear whether China has a clear idea of what the implications of the New Silk Road might be. The implosion of America’s geopolitical position has placed risks and opportunities at Beijing’s doorstep, to Beijing’s great surprise.

A year ago, Chinese officials privately reassured visitors that their country would “follow the lead of the dominant superpower” in matters relating to Middle East security, including Iran’s attempts to acquire nuclear weapons. For the past several decades, China has allowed the US to look out for the Persian Gulf while it increased its dependency on Persian Gulf oil. By 2020, China expects to import 70% of its oil, and most of that will come from the Gulf.

China, like America, needs energy. But Beijing unlike Washington, can unabashedly defend its interests. And it has not hesitated to show its flag for oil. The Business Insider reports that Beijing is sending hundreds of soldiers to Africa “to shield its oil industry”, citing Column Lynch at Foreign Policy.

The Asian powers are much more stone-faced than the West. As the Chinese send troops to Africa to outpost its oil, the New York Times notes that Tokyo is rewriting the history books to airbrush the imperial crimes out of the narrative.

“They are using intimidation as a way to deny history,” said Mr. Uemura, who spoke with a pleading urgency and came to an interview in this northern city with stacks of papers to defend himself. “They want to bully us into silence.”

“The War on The Asahi,” as commentators have called it, began in August when the newspaper bowed to public criticism and retracted at least a dozen articles published in the 1980s and early ’90s. Those articles cited a former soldier, Seiji Yoshida, who claimed to have helped abduct Korean women for the military brothels. Mr. Yoshida was discredited two decades ago, but the Japanese right pounced on The Asahi’s gesture and called for a boycott to drive the 135-year-old newspaper out of business.

Speaking to a parliamentary committee in October, Mr. Abe said The Asahi’s “mistaken reporting had caused many people injury, sorrow, pain and anger. It wounded Japan’s image.”

These are things the West can never do.  Its elites are obsessed with white guilt which suffuses everything. Recently McClatchy reported that “President Barack Obama will welcome the 566 leaders of federally recognized tribes to Washington Wednesday. Or, as he’s referred to by the tribal leaders, Barack Black Eagle Obama.”

In the aftermath of the 2014 elections American politics appears to have split in two. Chief Black Eagle, having been beaten everywhere else, is busy fighting the color wars.  There’s the Green War. He has suddenly become very concerned with regulating ozone. There’s the Black War in Ferguson Missouri. There’s the Brown War as exemplified by the amnesty of illegal aliens.  There’s even the Red War as he accepts delegations from the former stronghold of Sitting Bull.

The other part of the body politic sees civilians doing what government used to do. The oil industry has crippled Russia and possibly Saudi Arabia.  Reuters reports that Exxon, not the State Department, is the principle prop of Kurdistan.  It’s crazy.  The bugle has sounded for the settlers to ride to the rescue of the cavalry.  And there they go.


Aye, Robot

December 2nd, 2014 - 2:05 pm

“Nichole Gracely has a master’s degree and was one of Amazon’s best order pickers. Now, after protesting the company, she’s homeless” — by choice, she declares in the Guardian. ‘Being homeless is better than working for Amazon’ says the article, which details the act of protest by voluntary unemployment.

I received $200 a week for the following six months and I haven’t had any source of regular income since those benefits lapsed. I sold everything in my apartment and left Pennsylvania as fast as I could. I didn’t know how to ask for help. I didn’t even know that I qualified for food stamps.

I furthered my Amazon protest while homeless in Seattle. When the Hachette dispute flared up, I “flew a sign,” street parlance for panhandling with a piece of cardboard: “I was an order picker at Earned degrees. Been published. Now, I’m homeless, writing and doing this. Anything helps.”

She was ‘alienated’ and left. For years Marxism has maintained that mere paid work is usually alienating.  (Entfremdung) was a condition of misery caused by believing in something beyond ourselves which made it impossible to be ourselves.   To be happy you should forget transcendence and get in touch with your inner animal.  Do your thing.

Gracely could not be herself as a warehouse worker and hence left.  But Amazon may not ask be calling Gracely back to work any time soon. Perhaps in acknowledgement that warehouse work is inhuman after all, the company has started to hire robots.  More likely however, Amazon gave no thought to alienation. They did it to save money.

ABC News describes the company’s new ‘robot army’, fifteen thousand strong.  They never quit. Never get bored and don’t even have the concept of choosing liberating homelessness.

A year ago, workers like 34-year-old Rejinaldo Rosales hiked miles of aisles each shift to “pick” each item a customer ordered and prepare it for shipping.

Now the e-commerce giant boasts that it has boosted efficiency and given workers’ legs a break by deploying more than 15,000 wheeled robots to crisscross the floors of its biggest warehouses and deliver stacks of toys, books and other products to employees.

“We pick two to three times faster than we used to,” Rosales said during a short break from sorting merchandise into bins at Amazon’s massive distribution center in Tracy, California, about 60 miles east of San Francisco. “It’s made the job a lot easier.”

The harsh reality is that for an ever expanding list of occupations, robots are the workers of choice. All our Entfremdung are belong to them. As this video shows, humans in Amazon warehouses are still employed to “pick” the items  the robots bring and put them in boxes. But it may simply be a matter of time until robots do that too.


Despite the huge sums of Russian money spent to discourage US domestic hydrocarbon production production, there’s a glut on the oil market that is demolishing the ruble.  The New York Times reports that the Kremlin bankrolled protests against fracking in Europe.  Green was really Red.

Before stepping down in September as NATO’s secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen gave voice to this alarm with remarks in London that pointed a finger at Russia and infuriated environmentalists.

“Russia, as part of their sophisticated information and disinformation operations, engaged actively with so-called nongovernmental organizations — environmental organizations working against shale gas — to maintain dependence on imported Russian gas,” Mr. Rasmussen said. He presented no proof and said the judgment was based on what NATO allies had reported. …

“Energy is the most effective weapon today of the Russian Federation — much more effective than aircraft and tanks,” Victor Ponta, the Romanian prime minister, said in an interview.

Russia has generally shown scant concern for environmental protection and has a long record of harassing and even jailing environmentalists who stage protests. On fracking, however, Russian authorities have turned enthusiastically green, with Mr. Putin declaring last year that fracking “poses a huge environmental problem.” Places that have allowed it, he said, “no longer have water coming out of their taps but a blackish slime.”

But the Red/Green campaign availed not. Daniel Yergin writes in the Wall Street Journal that Putin is being crushed by politically incorrect America. “The decision by members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countrieson Thursday not to cut production reflects a profound shift in the world oil market. The demand for oil—by China and other emerging economies—is no longer the dominant factor. Instead, the surge in U.S. oil production, bolstered by additional new supply from Canada, is decisive. This surge is on a scale that most oil exporters had not anticipated. The turmoil in prices, with spasmodic plunges over the past few days, will likely continue.” Technological advances mean North American oil might be viable right down to $50 a barrel.

It is now clear that the new U.S. production is more resilient than anticipated. There has been a widespread view that at around $85 or $90 a barrel extracting “tight” oil from shale would no longer be economical. However, a new IHS analysis based on individual well data finds that 80% of new tight-oil production in 2015 would be economic between $50 and $69 a barrel. And companies will continue to improve technology and drive down costs.

True, with prices now near or below $70 a barrel, U.S. companies are looking hard at their investment plans—where and how much to cut or postpone. But it will take time for these decisions to affect supply. U.S. oil output will continue to rise in 2015.


Left Out of the Narrative

November 30th, 2014 - 2:19 pm

Everybody recognizes the names of Michael Brown and Darren Wilson in connection with the riots in Ferguson.  But here’s a question.  What was the name of the manager of the convenience store who Michael Brown strongarmed?  We may not be able to cite a name, but Joe Biden can put us in the ballpark.  ”You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent.”

We know that whatever his name was it was of Indian derivation.

The Ferguson Market, where Brown allegedly grabbed a handful of cigars before his deadly encounter with police, looters twice targeted the store owned by a Patel family along with several other Asian-American owned stores, according to the Daily Beast.

At least eight stores were looted in nearby Dellwood too with Pakistani American Mumtaz Lalani’s Dellwood Market among those ransacked and almost burnt down by dozens of looters, according to South Asian Times.

It’s not just convenience stores. The low-cost motel industry is also largely Indian. The Times of India notes: “the hotel industry in the United States, particularly the budget hotels segment, is dominated by people of Indian origin. Some 60 per cent of all budget hotels, typically called motels, are owned by Indians. Their predominance has led to the term ”Potel Motels” because they are usually run by Gujaratis with the last name Patel.”  So whenever a night motel clerk is robbed or a convenience store is looted in a low income neighborhood the guy at the losing end was probably called something like Patel.

The race problem is usually defined in terms of black versus white. But it’s not really that simple. I asked one South African Indian what life was like before and after apartheid. He answered that  ”during apartheid the problem of South African Indians was that they weren’t white. Afterward their problem was that they weren’t black.”

Recently Harvard University has been accused of “disappearing” Asians. “Asian Americans are invisible,” writes Tim Mak in the Daily Beast.

That, at least, is the contention of Students for Fair Admissions, an organization alleging in an anti-discrimination lawsuit that Harvard systematically excludes Asian Americans through its “holistic” admissions process. The argument is that by considering information about an applicant other than test scores and GPA, the school is trying to limit the number of Asian Americans in attendance—and that the result is a form of affirmative action for non-Asians.

The media’s ability to define the narrative is so enormously powerful it almost distorts reality. Take Ebola. Everybody knows that the epidemic is over because it’s no longer reported. But as Deutsche Welle notes, it isn’t. The apparent drop is an artifact of the way the disease has been reported.