Prepping for the future

I’ll be downloading everything that I can from by January 15th.

I hope that I’m wasting my time but the cost benefit analysis is clear that downloading and archiving is a plausible choice. In the best case scenario, I waste my time. It is only two weeks on the clock while I build a deeper understanding of the entire data universe. I’ve wasted two weeks on projects that had no pay-off before and I know that I will be on projects that go nowhere at some point again in my life. I will have learned something and brought into local control useful data that I can bounce off of national data. Best case scenario, I incur minor costs that are slightly higher than minor benefits.

It is the worst case scenario where data just gets either locked down or yanked from the public and is only accessible via FOIA requests in non-user friendly formats that the pay-off is strong. Again it is two weeks of my life but it is access to years of research material that can fuel impactful analysis. It would be the creation of health policy wonk trading sub-culture that rivals show tapes of Deadheads — I’ll trade you a 2014 Rate PUF for a 2009 CBO public option report man….

And if you assume that this worst case scenario has more than a 1% chance of happening, that is a very good use of a few weeks and a few gigabytes worth of space.

I have to assume environmental and consumer protection focused folks are doing the same thing, just in case.

58 replies
  1. 1
    Matt McIrvin says:

    Here’s a project to back up climate data, which my online friend John Baez is part of.

  2. 2
    misterpuff says:


    We need digital monasteries to preserve knowledge during the coming Dark Ages (may it be only 4 years).

    Thank you Digital Monks!

  3. 3
    Patricia Kayden says:

    It’s good that Republicans are going to feel forced to replace the ACA with something plausible. They must know that millions of their deluded supporters need the ACA, which is a good thing and will ensure its survival in some format.

    OT but President Obama looks so young and fresh in that photo. Sigh.

  4. 4
    Gindy51 says:

    Reading Jared Diamond’s Collapse… might be a primer for what is to come.

  5. 5
    Thoroughly Pizzled says:

    Anything we can do to help, Richard?

  6. 6
    Yarrow says:

    only accessible via FOIA requests

    That’s cute. As if FOIA is still going to exist once the new authoritarians take control.

  7. 7
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Patricia Kayden: They can’t replace it with something plausible, though, because they’re going to ram through the repeal immediately with something like a two-year delay on the implementation; but that repeal will induce a tax cut that will be essentially impossible for Republicans to undo. If they couldn’t come up with anything before now, they won’t do it later either.

    They’re going to leave those millions of supporters to go die, and make up for it with fearmongering about Muslims, which stands a good chance of working, because there’s always another terrorist attack somewhere.

  8. 8
    Yarrow says:

    @Matt McIrvin: Even if there’s not another actual terrorist attack somewhere, it’s easy to fake a terrorist attack. Then declare state of emergency, invoke emergency powers, clamp down on whatever they want to clamp down on. Hello President Trump for life, following by whichever of the evil spawn is chosen to be next.

  9. 9
    Chris says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    I can’t pretend that I give a shit if any of those supporters die. I think suicide should be legal, and that’s all that would be. What a pity that it can’t be limited to them, though.

  10. 10
    Yarrow says:

    @Matt McIrvin: This whole thing is stupid. If they made a tiny modification – doesn’t matter what it is – and renamed it “Trumpcare,” all the idiots screaming against it would LOVE it. It has nothing to do with reality and everything to do with branding.

    They could wash their hands of the whole “Obamacare” thing. Say they’d delivered on their campaign promise and move on.

  11. 11
    hovercraft says:

    @Matt McIrvin:
    Also too the Wayback Machine is backing up everything to Canada out of fear of our new emperor, who does not like it when people point out that he has no clothes.

  12. 12

    @Yarrow: The requests will be available… data might not come out for 15 years and have 3% not redacted

  13. 13
    ArchTeryx says:

    @Chris: That’s just it. I’ll die too, and I’ve been voting against those fuckers my entire life.

    For all the good it did me.

  14. 14

    @Thoroughly Pizzled: If you have time, download files and we can communicate and curate in the new year

  15. 15
    hovercraft says:

    @Matt McIrvin:
    The Wayback Machine is also backing the internets up in Canada. You can make a tax deductible donation at the link.

  16. 16
    hovercraft says:

    How are you doing?

  17. 17
    Bex says:

    @Yarrow: The Narcissist would also LOVE that idea! Think of thousands of idiots falling down in worship because he “gave them healthcare.”

  18. 18
    Yarrow says:

    @Richard Mayhew: I am not as confident as you. I think it will be easy for them to eliminate the FOI department. Just a signing statement and it’s gone. Say it takes too much money to run and they can’t process requests because “they are buried by ridiculous requests.” Since no one gets any information in a timely manner, let’s just eliminate the whole thing.

    Control of information is what authoritarians do. That’s why you’re backing up the healthcare data – because you fear it will be gone. That’s why they’ll stop releasing info.

  19. 19
    Weaselone says:


    They’re not going to stop there either. It’s quite likely that a large chunk of the data coming from the government is going to be if not eliminated highly skewed. The CBO could conceivably be shuttered permanently, like the Republicans did to the Office of Technology under Gingrich. The goal of Republicans for decades has not only been the establishment of their own alternate, partisan reality, but also the elimination/marginalization of other sources of information, particularly those that have reputations for accuracy, lack of bias and objectivity.

  20. 20
    D58826 says:

    That we even have to think along these lines is sad. The Chinese are working on a space station. India and Japan have space programs. CERN is doing cutting edge physics. Most of the world has better internet/smart phone service. And in this country – a bunch of Luddites want to turn scientific research over to the flat earth society.

  21. 21
    Yarrow says:

    @Bex: They would indeed. I’m sure some of them know this. I don’t know what small thing they could tweak – I’m sure Richard has some ideas of improvements. It could even be something that Democrats have been asking for. They fix that, Dems are kind of forced to “compromise with Trump”, he gets a big victory, the anti-Obamacare people stop screaming and the insurance companies still get their money. It’s the easiest win for the Republicans. They get to claim it as “Trumpcare” and how “new and improved” it is. They get the victory.

    People generally like the provisions in the ACA. They just don’t like the mythical thing known as “Obamacare.” They don’t even know what that is – it just has “Obama” in it and they’re told to hate it so they do.

  22. 22
    Avery Greynold says:

    Metaphor both sides would endorse: America’s Cultural Revolution.

  23. 23
    Yarrow says:

    @Weaselone: Yes. Under this new administration 2 + 2 will equal whatever they tell us it equals. Because that’s patriotism.

    I wish I were making this stuff up.

  24. 24
    hovercraft says:

    We are all “preppers” now.
    Who would have thought?

  25. 25
    Felanius Kootea says:

    @D58826: Well, a minority of voters prevailed and most have since lost interest in politics and assume all is well because their candidate won. We can’t eliminate the Luddites among us but we can try to make sure they don’t prevail in the future. Perhaps evidence of the achievements of other countries while Trump scales back on US achievements will wake a few up. In the meantime, those of us who did not vote for the man have to focus on what’s going on locally and make sure the Luddites don’t take over our school boards, etc.

  26. 26
    Weaselone says:

    @Avery Greynold:

    America’s Great Leap Forward?

  27. 27
    Chris says:


    People generally like the provisions in the ACA. They just don’t like the mythical thing known as “Obamacare.” They don’t even know what that is – it just has “Obama” in it and they’re told to hate it so they do.

    And also that it’s responsible single-handedly for everything wrong with American health care. For example, premiums were never skyrocketing before Obamacare.

  28. 28
    Yarrow says:

    @Chris: Of course. But rename it Trumpcare and then shout on cable news about how “President Trump has dramatically slowed down the rate of increase of premiums. He is showing those insurance companies what’s what!” And suddenly he’ll be a savior.

  29. 29
    Jack the Second says:

    @Patricia Kayden: That is way too optimistic.

    It doesn’t go for all Republicans, but there is a very solid nugget of conservatives who don’t think the government should be in the business of saving lives, even if it can. This nugget is surrounded by a thick shell of people committed to the idea that government can’t make things better, who tell jokes like “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” and who have spent the last six years shrieking that Obamacare is a failure. And they’ve largely succeeded at convincing Republicans it is true.

    They’ll repeal Obamacare with no replacement and never lose a single night’s sleep or a single voter.

  30. 30
    Thoroughly Pizzled says:

    @Richard Mayhew: From here?

    I’ve got some hard drive space.

  31. 31
    D58826 says:

    @Jack the Second: The core principle of the GOP/conservatives is to make the rich richer by stealing from everyone else. Everything else is just window dressing

  32. 32
    hovercraft says:


    The Narcissist would also LOVE that idea! Think of thousands of idiots falling down in worship because he “gave them healthcare.”

    Yes they would love it while he touted it, but as soon as a democrat came back in, assuming we still have presidential elections, it would be rebranded as evil. Regardless of what it’s called, it needs changes to improve it and make it sustainable, when the time came to make those changes it would become something wholly owned by the democratic president tasked with fixing it, and they would be branded as the one who destroyed his greatest accomplishment Trumpcare. Remember Obamaphones were started under Reagan, the bank bailouts were Bush’s legacy. The recovery was because the democrats got “shellacked” and the GOP policies brought us back from the edge. The deficit that didn’t matter when Bush-Cheney were creating them, was Obama’s fault. They have perfected the heads they win, tails we lose concept, that the media even buys into their the claims when they behave so badly that even the media notices, that the only reason for that is that the democrats are so mean to them that they are forced to throw a tantrum.

  33. 33
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Yarrow: That wouldn’t produce a tax cut, which is the key thing.

  34. 34
    Bex says:

    @Yarrow: When that’s done, just go on to Trumpicare and Trump Social Insurance. Just a couple of tiny tweaks and the idiots will build altars to his magnificent personage. It’d be like crack to him.

  35. 35
    hovercraft says:

    @Avery Greynold:

    America’s Cultural Revolution.

    I think you meant to say Canada’s.


    America’s Great Leap Forward?

    America’s Great Leap Backwards.

    The flatearthers had an excuse for their ignorance, these bozos are motivated by money and greed. It’s all FUIGM, unfortunately for them, you can keep fracking out of your back yard, but the air or lack there of travels everywhere, also too those pesky little earthquakes.

  36. 36
    Aleta says:

    Not that this would prevent the erasures of climate and health data, but I’d like to know what the current laws are about discarding government-funded science research data and communications?

    Computers and equipment bought with federal grant money can’t just be thrown out, even if they are 35 years old and don’t work now. They remain federal property. (The feds must take possession and I believe go through some (probably time-wasting) paperwork/authorizing process to specifically account for it all before auctioning/donating/destroying.)

    What’s the current process they must follow for destroying public-funded data? What’s the penalty if they don’t? Would they quickly be able to rewrite the law for only specific kinds of research data?

    Of course this data has to be protected now, by any means. At the same time, if the new administration will be trying to changing a law, so that Congress would have to be involved, then this will be a place to put early public pressure on our local members of Congress.

    (“A vote in favor of the bill to “Simplify Gov’t Records” means Congressman Blackwater wants to destroy records of xxx to abolish the rights of perrywinkle hunters who are volunteer firemen.”)

  37. 37
    Jack the Second says:

    @D58826: I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it aligns so well with corporate interests, but it doesn’t change the fact that a solid majority of Republicans earnestly believe that the only legitimate role for government is law enforcement and national defense. Unless that changes, you’ll never see a Republican sad to lose education, regulation, and social welfare, even if it materially harms them.

  38. 38
    Yarrow says:

    @Matt McIrvin: They can do tax cuts in other ways. Hell, they can SAY they did something to Obamacare to produce a tax cut. It doesn’t matter what they do or say. They lie all the time. People believe them.

  39. 39
    Aleta says:

    Information is power. But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for
    themselves. The world’s entire scientific and cultural heritage, published over centuries
    in books and journals, is increasingly being digitized and locked up by a handful of
    private corporations. Want to read the papers featuring the most famous results of the
    sciences? You’ll need to send enormous amounts to publishers like Reed Elsevier.

    There are those struggling to change this. The Open Access Movement has fought
    valiantly to ensure that scientists do not sign their copyrights away but instead ensure
    their work is published on the Internet, under terms that allow anyone to access it. But
    even under the best scenarios, their work will only apply to things published in the future.
    Everything up until now will have been lost.

    -Aaron Swartz

  40. 40
    Russ says:

    Think for a minute about what we are talking about. Capturing data compiled for common GOOD so that healthcare is less expensive and more efficient. The capture is do to our government possibly making the information inaccessible. Even if the government does not hide the information just the thought that they would is unnerving.

  41. 41
    ArchTeryx says:

    @hovercraft: Searching for alternatives. Once Obamacare falls, nobody in New York State is exactly sure what will happen in the state exchange. Expanded Medicaid may fall immediately or not. Nobody can say. Other options I am exploring include a shotgun marriage with my fiancee so I can get onto her (very limited) insurance plan, or fleeing to France to live with my sister. (Unknown if I’d even get a visa, or get access to their care upon arrival).

  42. 42
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Yarrow: The money guys don’t.

    See, I think most of the bad stuff that is about to come down the pike is really best seen as not so much Trump stuff as Republican stuff, aimed at enriching the rich and enpooring the poor in the usual manner. That’s why we’re not going to see a cent of Steve Bannon’s ideas about Trump becoming the Republican FDR and ramming through a bunch of infrastructure spending. Fascists always did have a Keynesian streak, but Congress isn’t remotely interested, and Trump doesn’t really care enough to die on that hill.

  43. 43
    Brachiator says:


    Information is power. But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for

    We are beyond this. The situation is more like Christianized rulers burning libraries because they contained “pagan” knowledge.

    During the Bush years, scientific knowledge was denigrated by evangelicals and others who felt that everything since the Renaissance cultivated godlessness. We may look back on this fondly, compared to the efforts of the “government as business” types who believe that anything that gets in the way of “free market” utopia should be ruthlessly rooted out or suppressed.

  44. 44
    Yarrow says:

    @Matt McIrvin: Trump wants everyone to love him. I don’t know if that’s his Achilles heel, but it’s a weakness. He even said at that tech meeting something like, “Some of you have to like me now.” Whatever he does, if he’s not being praised for it enough he will demand love and praise.

    Maybe it’s more rallies, but once he’s president those are going to wear a little thin if he isn’t delivering. Maybe he’ll start pressuring his people to make things happen so he can get praised. I will be looking for that kind of pressure to create interest in the infrastructure bill. Congress having no interest in it is a stumbling block for Trump so we’ll see how those battles go.

    As for the money guys, they’re not that smart. They ignored the housing bubble. They can be told tax cuts are imminent, or whatever and they’ll buy it.

  45. 45
    Это курам на смех says:


    We need digital monasteries to preserve knowledge during the coming Dark Ages

    Pound pastrami, can kraut, six bagels — bring home for Emma.

  46. 46
    Roger Moore says:


    If they made a tiny modification – doesn’t matter what it is – and renamed it “Trumpcare,” all the idiots screaming against it would LOVE it.

    Except that the rich assholes who are paying for their reelection campaigns would be angry because they wouldn’t get the big tax cut they’re expecting. That’s the fundamental problem the Republicans are facing: they want to eliminate Obamacare completely so they can give the 1% a big tax cut, but they don’t want the bad electoral consequences of everyone losing their insurance.

  47. 47
    Yarrow says:

    @Roger Moore: So cut taxes. Deficits don’t matter, right? They just give the 1% a huge tax cut. Hell, they can even raise taxes on everyone else but the TV people will explain it as a tax cut. Then run a deficit for everything. No one will care.

  48. 48
    amygdala says:

    @Russ: Variants of this have already happened, thanks to Congressional Republicans. They prevented CDC from tracking gun violence, for example. Data and facts are the enemy.

  49. 49
    amygdala says:

    @Yarrow: More than wanting to be loved, he can’t abide being ignored. And that’s a lot harder to deal with.

  50. 50
  51. 51
    Yarrow says:

    @amygdala: Yes, that’s also a problem. But I think it’s something of both. He’s been desperate for respect from his peers since he first showed up in NYC. And he still doesn’t have it. That craving for respect, and the little tells like the “now some of you like me” comment I mentioned above show he needs love as well.

    I think it’s why we get the push back against SNL and Alec Baldwin’s portrayal of him. They don’t love him. If Baldwin portrayed him as some super smart guy who was doing everything right, Trump be praising him and SNL nonstop.

    If he just didn’t want to be ignored he’d love the SNL portrayal because they were paying attention to him.

  52. 52
    hovercraft says:

    We are waiting to se what happens, so hang in there. When they finally figure out how they are going to screw us, then we’ll come up with a game plan. Maybe this will force Cuomo off his ass, other states are seriously working on ways to cover their constituents if/when the axe falls, NY is a very blue state, and a rich one, surely they can figure out a way to protect New Yorkers. Best of luck, and Happy Holidays. I’d say thank God this years is finally coming to an end, but I fear what comes next will be worse.
    Sorry we’re supposed to be cheering you up, so just take care, and remember BJ is here for you to kvetch anytime you need it.

    Take care.

  53. 53
    🌷 Martin says:

    @Patricia Kayden:

    It’s good that Republicans are going to feel forced to replace the ACA with something plausible. They must know that millions of their deluded supporters need the ACA, which is a good thing and will ensure its survival in some format.

    I wouldn’t count on that. Kansas has been an exercise in fucking over your constituents for ideological gain. North Carolina is doing the same now. Trump is a randian. Ryan is a randian. They’re true believers that if you just get rid of all of this pesky regulations that free Doogie Howsers will fly out of all of our asses – just give it enough time.

    That said, California will not abide by that. We will build locally whatever they tear down nationally. At least some other states can follow suit – NY is large enough and has the leadership. Vermont has the leadership but may be too small. Texas is large enough but lacks the leadership. What I expect you’ll see is a widening in economic outcomes by state over what we have now. Employers will flock to states that put up good health systems. Jobs and wages will benefit. States like West Virginia and Kansas will fall even further behind.

  54. 54
    cmorenc says:

    In the case of environmental data (especially any that might relate to climate studies) – the worst case isn’t even hidden, obscured, or outright destroyed data (bad as the latter would be) – but the wholesale substitution of fraudulent or heavily tampered-with data and studies in the place of legitimate scientific data-gathering and studies. Scott Pruitt (incoming head of the EPA), the Koch Brothers, the fossil fuels industry, and their allied right-wing think tanks would gladly do just that, if they think they can get away with it.

  55. 55
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @cmorenc: The project I linked to above is thinking hard about ways to certify the backups they’re making to guard against that kind of thing.

  56. 56
    donnah says:

    I’ve read that the scientific community is also scrambling to preserve data regarding environmental concerns and anything else likely to be chopped by the incoming crowd of malevolent idiots. I feel heartsick that an entire mass of this country denies science; evolution, global warming, and the eventual extinction of entire species of wildlife, but here they are.

    I’m hoping that this new administration is heavily documented by a lot of different groups, recording the atrocities that will happen across the board. I want tangible records of when and where and how trump destroyed our country from his Electoral win all through his torturous term. No “This was Obama’s fault”, folks. trump will own it.

  57. 57
    Chris says:


    I feel heartsick that an entire mass of this country denies science; evolution, global warming, and the eventual extinction of entire species of wildlife, but here they are.

    I’ve always said that one of the, possibly the most damning statistic about America, is that fully half of the population refuses to “believe in” evolution. (Of any kind). And that it was a problem we were going to have to reckon with in a big way at some point down the line.

  58. 58

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