Hard to find dumbbells in GOUSA

I know. I know. Just turn on the telly and watch the Republican Convention in action. This ain’t about that. 🙂


Even a $400 set like this from NordicTrack

Dumbbells, like Nintendo Switches, yeast, and bidets, are one of those things that have become extremely popular during the pandemic and extremely hard to find. People are spending more and more time at home, and they’re buying things they never needed or possibly wanted before. The sudden surge in demand has created shortages of the most seemingly disparate things.

For gym-goers, obtaining your own weights and working out from home had always been a possibility. But justifying the purchase was hard, especially with the rise of gyms and boutique fitness studios.

The pandemic swung the pendulum the other way — so much that it’s hard to rationalize going back before a vaccine is created. Depending on where you live, gyms may not be open (which has led to the rise of “speakeasy” gyms), and disconcerting research shows that they are looking more and more like coronavirus hot zones. Working out from home with dumbbells — for one reason or another — seems like the future of fitness. Just as soon as you can get your hands on some.

95% of the world’s dumbbells are manufactured in China. You better believe they’re working overtime to catch up with demand. They are weeks behind. They were months behind. And they’ll catch up; hopefully, before you take up speed crocheting or something equally arcane.

Ray Dalio’s perspective on China

Couple of quick notes:

Recently, I read reviews of Ray Dalio‘s essays on China and investing and that was what I was looking for. That is over here. In the course of my search for an easily accessible link, I came across this video. ‘Nuff said.

It’s long for my usual liking, though, there’s nothing slow or boring about it. Whenever he is on one of the (very few) TV channels I ever watch, I try to catch his appearance. I always learn something useful to managing the comparatively small retirement account I have to backup Social Security.

Returning from Spain, Italy – no screening – Americans only asked if they visited China


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Trump crosses out “corona” in briefing notes – adds “Chinese”

When Pam Mundus and a friend landed in Milan for a weeklong vacation on Feb. 23, uniformed airport workers in face masks, attempting to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, took their temperatures.

But when Ms. Mundus returned home on a direct flight from Rome to New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport on March 1, no one questioned her about her time in Italy or whether she might have been exposed to the illness. At that stage, the State Department had already urged Americans to reconsider travel to Italy; there were at least 1,500 cases there and 34 deaths related to the coronavirus by then.

“The only question we were asked was, ‘Have you been to China?’” Ms. Mundus, 62, said in a phone interview from her home on eastern Long Island, where she has been in self-quarantine since her return…

But several experts say the experience of Ms. Mundus shows the limited effectiveness of the administration’s travel restrictions, which followed outbreaks in affected countries by days or weeks. The administration never even imposed restrictions on passengers who had been to South Korea, which also faced a large outbreak.

And the restrictions applied only to foreign citizens, despite the fact that the virus could be transmitted just as easily by the many Americans returning home in droves, who were getting confusing and inconsistent messages on how to protect themselves and their communities — or in many cases, no advice at all…

“The policy makes no sense,” said Danielle Ompad, an epidemiologist at the N.Y.U. School of Public Health. “It was based on nationality, not risk of infectiousness, and the two are not synonymous.”

The Fake President’s policies often make no sense. Some of them, like these creepy incidents, stink of the bigotry and racism that characterizes the leadership of today’s Republican Party.

China donates coronavirus supplies to Italy via China Red Cross


A Chinese team of experts with head of the Italian Red Cross, Francesco Rocca

A planeload of medical supplies, including masks and respirators, has arrived in Italy from China to help the European country deal with its growing coronavirus crisis…

Italy is now the worst-affected nation in the world after China, since the contagion came to light there on February 21…

The outbreak risks overwhelming Italian hospitals, and some key supplies are running low.

In contrast to China, Italy’s partners in the European Union earlier this month refused Rome’s requests for help with medical supplies as they looked to stockpile face masks and other equipment to help their own citizens.

A team of nine Chinese medical staff arrived late on Thursday with some 30 tonnes of equipment on a flight organised by the Red Cross Society of China.

“In this moment of great stress, of great difficulty, we are relieved to have this arrival of supplies. It is true that it will help only temporarily, but it is still important,” said the head of the Italian Red Cross, Francesco Rocca.

In a separate development, Chinese businessman Jack Ma, who is the founder of the Alibaba Group and among the world’s richest people, offered to donate 500,000 coronavirus testing kits and one million masks to the United States, which on Friday declared a national emergency over the outbreak.

…Jack Ma said: “Drawing from my own country’s experience, speedy and accurate testing and adequate protective equipment for medical professionals are most effective in preventing the spread of the virus.”…”We hope that our donation can help Americans fight against the pandemic!”

Over the past weeks, Ma’s organisations have helped provide similar supplies to virus-hit countries such as Japan, South Korea, Italy, Iran and Spain.

I’m not certain if today’s generations know much of the history, of the role often assumed by charities like the Red Cross, globally and in individual nations in time of disaster. Whether war or natural disasters, the Red Cross societies can typically be counted upon to provide aid and comfort to victims regardless of political context. Flags and elections don’t count as much as lives at risk.

BTW, I didn’t learn of this aid to Italy from the mainstream channels on American television. Which is why I rely on more international news sources, anyway.

Falun Gong plays with fraud and artificial faces on Facebook

” Facebook has taken down a well-financed campaign that used dozens of artificially generated faces to spread pro-Trump and anti-Chinese government messages, the company and outside researchers said on Friday.

Researchers from New York-based Graphika and the Digitial Forensics Research Lab, an arm of the Washington-based Atlantic Council, said it was the first time they had seen the large-scale use of computer-generated faces to spread disinformation on social media…

” Facebook said 610 Facebook accounts, 89 Pages, 156 Groups and 72 Instagram accounts were involved in the network. The social media giant said those behind the operation had spent upward of $9 million on advertising to promote their content, which touched on hot-button issues such as “impeachment, conservative ideology, political candidates, elections, trade, family values and freedom of religion…”

Facebook said its investigation linked the activity to U.S.-based Epoch Media Group and individuals in Vietnam working on its behalf, though the accounts more openly associated with The BL, for the Beauty of Life…

” The Epoch Times was set up as a print publication by followers of the Falun Gong spiritual movement, banned in China, before moving heavily online. Its output has tended to steer toward support for Trump and attacks on his opponents.

The content removed by Facebook had the same tilt. Groups identified by the outside researchers bore names such as “America Needs President Trump,” “TRUMP MAGA 2020,” or “WE STAND WITH TRUMP & PENCE!”

Phew! Some heavy lifting on both attack and defense inside this one. Or maybe not. Maybe this crap is getting easier to pull off – especially on profit-at-all-cost sites like Facebook. Maybe this crap is getting easier to fund to the tune of million$ if you’re working for thugs like our Fake President.

VW, There and Here


VW starts pre-production runs – new plant in China

❝ VW announced that it already started pre-production at its all-electric vehicle factory in China, just a year after ground breaking at the new plant.

Over the last two years, every major automaker has announced plans to build electric vehicles in China due to the country’s new aggressive zero-emission mandate.

❝ VW is among those automakers who quickly announced plans to build a new factory just for electric vehicles.

They started building it last year through their joint venture with SAIC and today, they announced that they started pre-production at their new factory in Anting, Shanghai.


VW breaks ground for $800 million EV plant in Tennessee

❝ Volkswagen breaks ground Wednesday on its Tennessee plant that will produce two battery-powered cars, according to Reuters. Plans for the $800 million investment in the Chattanooga plant were first announced in January. The ground-breaking shows that Volkswagen is intent on achieving its goal of producing 50 million electric cars in the next several years.

❝ Scott Keogh, Volkswagen Group of America CEO, characterized the event as part of a “magic moment” for electric vehicles in the United States. He equated it to the introduction of the Beetle, which went on to sell 21 million units.

❝ The average transaction price of a car in America right now is $33,000, somewhere around there. That’s where I’d put the dart in the market [for an electric vehicle]. That’s a decent space to approach the center of the market. It will be a car for the heart of the market.

Don’t kid yourself. The same kind of people whining about investments, government support for electric vehicles, here in the United States have their peers with the same kind of chickenshit DNA in China. Priorities are formed by leaders: political, economic and social leaders willing to move ahead. Apparently, it is still possible to find folks willing to setup shop in completely different countries because they recognize opportunity.

China figured out carrots work as well as sticks


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Since the start of President Trump’s trade war, China has retaliated against US tariffs by raising tariffs on US goods. Less well known is that China has also been lowering rates for everyone else, putting US companies at an even greater disadvantage when trying to sell to China’s 1.4 billion consumers. Companies in the United States and elsewhere used to be on a level playing field, facing an average Chinese tariff of 8.0 percent. Now, there is a 14 percentage point difference between the average Chinese tariff US exporters face versus all other exporters. Some US goods are facing even wider differences in duties, like soybeans, farm and fish products, and certain manufacturing products.