Eugene Linden
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Maddening Numbers

The way in which the media and policymakers are using the numbers on coronavirus approaches insanity. Most of the numbers published are about as credible as Trump’s estimates of the size of his inaugural crowd. Absolutely no one with any expertise believes that China has only 80,000 cases o...

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Winds of Change
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Afterword to the softbound edition.


The Octopus and the Orangutan
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Silent Partners
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Affluence and Discontent
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Bloomberg's Choice


Tuesday December 10, 2013

Just published this op-ed in the Los Angeles Times. We won't realize how much we need a credible press that reports without fear or favor until we lose it, and that is happening gradually so that we may never notice the moment when we pass some fateful tipping point.

Journalism is under threat not just from the economics of the digital revolution, but from governments as well (just today, the New York Times reported that Putin has dissolved a state news agency). I like George Orwell's quote on the purpose of journalism, cited by Mikew Schiavenza at the Atlantic, that it consists of printing what someone else does not want printed. Indeed, with every news outlet that dies or succumbs to advertising or political pressure, the bad actors become more free to act with impunity.

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Short Take

A Glimmer of Hope in the Coronavirus News?

I’m usually the most apocalyptic guy in the room, but, maybe, there’s a glimmer of hope in the latest news on the coronavirus. If it’s been circulating in Washington state for several weeks, it’s probably also been circulating in a few other states for weeks as well. And if there hasn’t been a big spike in visits to emergency rooms with respiratory ailments (and I have not read about such), it may well be that the virus is already widely spread in the U.S., but not hitting Americans as hard as it has populations elsewhere. If this turns out to be the case, the difference might be that there are far fewer smokers in the U.S. than in China, South Korea, Japan and Italy, and that the air is far cleaner in American cities than in China’s. 

We’ll find out in the next few weeks whether Americans are better able to withstand the disease. There remain major unknowns about coronavirus; nor do we know how hard the virus will hit the elderly and infirm. Still, this latest news could be a positive. 



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