Thursday, February 06, 2020


It's very surreal to see everyone pretending like the China thing isn't happening. That place is completely spiraling out of control. Everyday has a new theme.

Yesterday it was all videos of people trying to escape quarantine because people believe they are just going to be killed. I've seen people drive through barricades. Today social unrest has started. Just look at what they are doing to people!

Everyday I hope things have leveled off, but it doesn't seem to be. Today they are going door to door to round people up for quarantine camps. Which sounds super not real, but..... everyday in China is a new crazy.

And everyone seems to be ignoring the economic hit. More flights have been canceled than 9/11.
Take this gem of a headline. Asian markets surge as coronavirus fears fade.

In what universe have the fears faded? They have run out of hospital beds there and aren't even admitting patients at all!

While everyone is focused on Trump 24/7, quietly companies are pulling out of trade shows.
Lockheed shrinks Singapore Airshow team over coronavirus, Pentagon considers same.

It looked like Trump had manufactured a soft landing with all that money printing, but now I don't think that is going to save us.


  1. "It's very surreal to see everyone pretending like the China thing isn't happening."


    I have to do that every now and then, you know. :-)

    But about China and the mess that's going on now ...

    For a few days, I thought I actually had SARS.

    I stayed in, avoided people, ate up food already in my refrigerator, and did whatever I could over the phone and the Internet. Anyone who came by, I talked with them through the door and urged them to leave the building at once.

    It turned out to be some kind of flu instead of SARS, but because everyone was freaking out about it, I stayed in, self-quarantined, and made arrangements to get out of the country once I was sure I was completely well again.

    Where and when: Singapore, 2003.

    Ever seen an economy on a slow path of explosion only to suddenly reverse course and implode over the space of a few days to weeks?

    Singapore, 2003.

    There were places in the US where people had "the bird flu", SARS, etc., but the reactions weren't nearly quite as pronounced as on the front lines.

    Seattle had a few cases which most people reacted to with concern, followed by ignoring what was going on.

    "Today they are going door to door to round people up for quarantine camps."

    The new hospital on the west side of Wuhan looks like it's inside one of those infamous "holiday camps" of the PRC. There was an existing set of barracks for Chinese medical and sanitation workers over there already, and what they couldn't continue to use, they just bulldozed all of it and started with building the hospital on top of that.

    There are places all around Wuhan where they could have built the hospital, but why there?

    Oh, but those buildings next to the hospital are apartments ... right, show me some real estate listings for them then, and I'll really try to believe that.

    But you don't really have the perspective for crazy in China yet.

    Remember how I was going to talk about drones and China, especially when it comes to a certain history lesson?

    Let's do that now -- I'll make that my next comment here. :-)

  2. I'll start by not talking about drones, of course. :-)

    I'll even cite a source for some of the background material: James C. Scott of Yale University.

    He wrote about the "upland" cultures of SE Asia, but what I got out of that was a description of certain groups of people who were living in a semi-anarchist state because central governments couldn't project power into their regions.

    Eventually the PRC government was able to project more power into these regions within China, but many still maintain an underground economy and underground autonomy.

    Although Xinjiang is technically outside the "SE Asian Massif" or "Zomia" region, the relatively recent growth and projection of centralized power into Xinjiang, especially in the form of the growth of the surveillance state along with the carceral state, is not only symbolic of the PRC government's biggest fear, but also is a model of attempting to deal with it.

    The biggest fear of the PRC government is that there are people who aren't protesting against them, which they could otherwise counter by subversion and interdiction, if they were out in the open. They are afraid there are well-organized individuals and groups who are trying to acquire power by hiding out in these semi-autonomous areas and in the covert spaces within urban areas before using that power to project force back into areas that the PRC controls.

    Revolution in China tends to have a grass-roots flavor to it that comes out of the rural areas into the cities, such as Mao's bloody revolutions against the city intellectuals. Now that the PRC controls the cities and doesn't control the rural areas to as much of an extent, the relations of power have flipped.

    Massively deployed and near-universal surveillance is part of the PRC's projection of fear of alternate means to power, and the money thrown at drones is part of a plan to project surveillance into places where it's unclear whether there's also a need to project power.

    Basically, the PRC leadership understands that it would lose an asymmetrical power struggle, and that the CPC came into power in some ways because of one. Now that they're in government, they intend to use asymmetrical surveillance techniques to counter asymmetrical power projections.

    And so the PRC government is more afraid of grass-roots anarchists who want a return to the minimal government of the past than they are any of the Western-led efforts to try to "reform" China into some kind of democracy.

    Since the CPC can't march a bunch of PLA thugs up and down every street and place them on every corner, drones and surveillance cameras backed up with powerful automated data sorting and collation systems might suffice.

    That's why they're so far ahead with drones.

    Right now, given the tenuous hold the CPC actually has on power, they have to support drones and surveillance tech because the alternative is to be on the losing side of an eventual revolution, or so goes their belief.

    What will probably come out of it is a form and structure to revolution that the world hasn't seen yet, one that indirectly attacks these attempts to project power by indirect means.

    You could also argue that Bitcoin does this to an extent on the economic playing field, and that Japan's legal protections for crypto currencies are part of a regional strategy to deprive China of economic resources so the internal potential for revolutions in China increases substantially.

    Drones are from this perspective an admission that the PRC is running out of money and resources to engage in its past behavior of overwhelming force projection every single time some small group of protesters shoots a bird at what is now People's Republic of Cameras ...

    What you're seeing now is that when the Chinese people put on their N95 masks, they've let slip the masks they've been wearing that allow them to pretend that the current situations and their agony must endure forever.

  3. I also think that while the communist party was trying to convince America that they were becoming more like us, they let people have a lot more freedoms. They definitely do not seem to be afraid of the government right now. Who knows where the tipping point is. Maybe it's this time. Maybe not.

  4. BTW, the stock market "rallying" behavior right now?

    China has been scheduling its own form of QE for the period between Christmas and Lunar New Year for a few years now, but this year, they literally doubled down on it by making it twice as big.

    The current "novel organism" mess is having impacts in places that weren't really ready for this kind of mess.

    Let's look for "N95 breathing masks" on Amazon Japan.

    Ready for sticker shock?

    A five pack of these 3M masks with the yellow-printed N95 valve in the front sells at Walmart for $15.

    Today's price in Japan? 29800 JPY (271.39 USD) ... and you will need to wait 3-4 days for them to ship, let alone arrive.

    Maybe you want 50 less durable/comfortable N95 masks from 3M?

    Choose from twenty sellers at a starting price of 44476 JPY (405.04 USD).

    Japan also has a Cruise Ship of Doom docked with all passengers in quarantine onboard.

    This is going to shit all over the holiday cruise business.

    There are at least sixty cases onboard of The Novel Form Of Death that the WHO has been gingerly dancing around giving a name (or perhaps just dancing around like a ginger while Asia burns).

    Japan absolutely, positively has no problems with denying entry to any non-Japanese citizens who are on that cruise ship, regardless of whether they test positive for The Novel Form Of Death or not.

    And so a few thousand passengers are stuck on this cruise ship that's technically docked in quarantine in a Japanese port, and the CEO of the cruise ship company had to travel to Japan to try to unfuck this situation.

    What I was able to gather of the situation from NHK sounds like "ongoing negotiations" where the Japanese say "it would be very difficult" but what they actually mean is "what you propose means you are out of your fucking mind".


    American translation (with a similar tone): War is hell.

    "[Chinese citizens] definitely do not seem to be afraid of the government right now."

    Shenzhen's in lockdown, and the Wuhan doctor who tried to break the news that the bat shit was going to hit the fan died on Friday of this stuff.

    People have not been taking this well, but there aren't protesters who are charging the PLA thugs on the streets and ripping their face masks off, so for now this is a lot of noise.

    China's political brass have been playing the racist card lately when it comes to how they're being treated abroad, as if that's all they really have remaining, and in some ways they're right ...

  5. "Would you get on a plane right now to Shenzhen, assuming you could even get there through all of the closed borders and checks, just to make sure one of our suppliers is doing their job? And do remember we have to check up on these people every now and then because they like putting in unapproved design changes and component swaps so they can attempt to save a little money here and there on fabrication at our expense."

    That vote went 100% the way I expected it to go.

    Nobody wants to go to China, nobody wants to talk about China, nobody wants to hear anything more than China because right now all that everyone involved associates with China is the massive pain in the ass it is to get everything restarted elsewhere.

    Cost of goods sold is still relevant, but not nearly as relevant as having a supply of goods that can meet support contracts and new customer demand.

    And right now, even if I had an army of ten thousand Umbrella Corp thugs to arrange my heavily armored and CBRN-suited insertion into Shenzhen to meet with suppliers and to arrange for shipment of our stuff, even if they were still able to meet the production numbers, I still wouldn't go.

    I'm not even flying in the US right now, I'm driving around in my one remaining personal vehicle so I can stay out of the airports.

    JIT, MRP2, Prince, etc. are all great for execs who think that the supply chain's always going to be shitting rainbows instead of raining dead frogs.

    "Who knows where the tipping point is."

    The economic beatings will continue until Chinese hygiene improves, and I'm not just talking about bat soup and snake tenders on a stick.

    So far, the economic beatings are nowhere even close to getting started.

    Right now the PRC government can buy itself some comfort in the markets at the tune of between 1.2 to 2 trillion CNY per month ... but for how long?

    Then the bats come home again to the roost.