Use Me by Bill Withers

R.I.P. Bill Withers. There’s worse ways to spend an hour than listening to Menagerie. If you prefer to read, try Rolling Stone‘s profile: Bill Withers: The Soul Man Who Walked Away. Questlove says in it, “Questlove. “Jordan’s vertical jump has to be higher than everyone. Michael Jackson has to defy gravity. On the other side of the coin, we’Bill Withers is the closest thing black people have to a Bruce Springsteen.”

Capitalism vs. Price Gouging

Open Question: When does capitalism become price gouging?

Strikes me that price gouging is during acute events where people with means cannot buy what they want, i.e., the price mechanism breaks badly enough that it impacts society-at-large rather than a minority. But, so long as it’s impacts a minority or is an plausibly deniable externality, it’s merely capitalism as designed.

Mal on the Street

“In conventional business attire, trusty Mohawk at their side, the two would waylay pedestrians and proprietors. Clandestinely recording each conversation, they would retreat to the curb to rewind: The Mohawk used quarter-inch metal cassettes and rewinding the tapes required the operator to manually turn a handle like a fishing reel. Then they’d hook up the earpiece and listen to their latest. If they only collected usable material every two or three days, they were happy.

The best of these hidden-mike recordings is a long encounter with a druggist, from whom Coyle solicits advice about performing home surgery on Sharpe, who is complaining of chest pains. The druggist is aghast at Coyle’s medical “experience” — third-year high school, plus a few days of home study. They offer to do the surgery in a station wagon outside. The druggist begs them not to, saying they’re running huge risks for no reason. Coyle replies, “He’s willing to take the chance, and it would be very interesting for me.”

-Staff, “Mal on the Street.” SF Weekly. May 25, 1995

Someone Needs to Ventilate the Air From the Smell of Bullshit

“Ford Motor Co said on Monday it will produce 50,000 ventilators over the next 100 days at a plant in Michigan in cooperation with General Electric’s healthcare unit, and can then build 30,000 per month as needed to treat patients afflicted with the coronavirus.”

—Nick Carey, “Ford, GE to produce 50,000 ventilators in 100 days.” Reuters. March 30, 2020

It’s a good idea, sure. But, peak effects from the coronavirus in the United States will have largely passed in the next hundred days. Most of these ventilators will need to be shipped to Africa, Latin America, India and elsewhere. Hopefully, they’ll keep some around for when this thing gets bad again (but not as bad as now) in October.