Links 10/19/14

Beautiful Feather Pictures: Birds Flaunt Majestic Tails and Dramatic Collars National Geographic

Blinded by non-science: Trivial scientific information increases trust in products Science Daily

Investors Shaken as S&P 500 Reversals Ignite Volatility Bloomberg

How Low Will Stocks Go? WSJ

Growth in Housing Starts The Center of The Universe

A Trade Storm Is Brewing Eyes on Trade

Eurocrisis Round Two, Blame the Germans Edition Credit Writedowns. On the other hand…

The German ship is sinking under the weight of its own delusions Bill Mitchell

GM’s hit and run: How a lawyer, mechanic, and engineer blew open the worst auto scandal in history Pando


Guinea Says Ebola Spreads to Regions Near AngloGold Mine Bloomberg

Ebola! Prevention and Responsibility Ralph Nader, In the Public Interest

Ebola, Including Model Error [PDF] Nassim NicholنTaleb

Ebola Paul Farmer, London Review of Books

Much worse to come Economist. Must read.

Ebola Halloween costumes all the rage as Obama names czar Union Tribune

The Four Kinds of Political Ebola Panic  Bloomberg

In setback for Ebola vaccine, company says work will take longer than hoped McClatchy

Dallas hospital where one man died of Ebola and two more contracted the deadly virus has become a ‘ghost town’ as patients are avoiding facility over safety fears Daily Mail. Entirely rational. What kind of management allows its specimen tubes to be potentially contaminated, or sends its nurses in to treat ebola cases without training, and with protective gear that leaves their skin exposed?

Smiling black woman next to Corbett on his website was Photoshopped Daily News. Well, it’s the thought that counts!

Unprecedented amount of ‘dark money’ fuels midterm races LA Times

The Court won’t interrupt Texas voter ID law SCOTUSblog

Black Vote Seen as Last Hope for Democrats to Hold Senate New York Times


The Racist Housing Policies That Built Ferguson Ta-Nahesi Coates, The Atlantic

Report: Feds don’t have evidence to charge officer who shot Michael Brown Vox. This is the civil rights charge.

Police Officer in Ferguson Is Said to Recount a Struggle New York Times

Mong Kok clashes resume while both students and government officials condemn violence South China Morning Post

A farewell to paws Al Jazeera. Loukanikos, the Greek riot dog.

Telling the Story of the Arab Spring: an Interactive Graffiti Map Muftah. Here’s the map itself. Beautiful, but you’ve really got to zoom in to separate the markers.

Egypt signs with six international firms to dredge new Suez Canal Reuters

Class Warfare

Warehouse Empire Buzzfeed

Why Inequality Matters Bill Gates, Gatesnotes

How Companies Kill Their Employees’ Job Searches The Atlantic

Amid Cooper Union Tuition Battle, Activist Turns Trustee WSJ. Just another great institution squillionaire morons on the board are trying to wreck.

Scientists caught in Chinese anti-corruption sweep Nature

Episode 576: When Women Stopped Coding NPR. With handy chart.

The tech innovators of the Victorian age FT

Econometrics, open science, and cryptocurrency Interfluidity

Risking Your Life without a Second Thought: Intuitive Decision-Making and Extreme Altruism PLOS One

Antidote du jour:


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. MIWill

    “What kind of management allows its specimen tubes to be potentially contaminated, or sends its nurses in to treat ebola cases without training, and with protective gear that leaves their skin exposed?”

    Oooo! I know! Pick me! Pick me!

    1. scott

      Unfortunately, the ER wait times at Baylor and Parkland have increased 30%,
      Presby could advertise prices for services up front, take all Medicare and Obamacare silver plans, you know, act like a business and not a cartel, and maybe patients would come back.

      1. cwaltz

        I doubt it. Who wants to go to a hospital for a disease, get misdiagnosed, and get free ebola? Not me, even if you were offering service at rock bottom prices I’d pick a different hospital. There were just too may screw ups there to be excused.

        1. dearieme

          “What kind of management”: one that deserves jail time or hanging. Take your pick. People who prattle about leadership are meant to show some. If they are derelict in their duty and people die, off to the criminal courts with them.

  2. sleepy

    My apologies if this has already been discussed here.

    In response to a question from a journalist, Rear Admiral John Kirby attempts to defend Chuck Hagel’s statement that the Russian military now sits on “Nato’s doorstep”, complete with an “aw-shucks-I’m-uneducated-about-history-schtick”. It is astonishing that this person could achieve the rank of admiral, or maybe not.

    1. James

      The good Admiral is merely doing what all of the American Exceptionalists in DC do all the time: mistaking their own image in the mirror for that of their adversaries’. The US has been punching against phantoms of its own creation since at least the end of WWII. In the same fashion, the GWOT should more accurately be termed the Global War OF Terror, although conveniently, the acronym remains the same. To paraphrase a line from Inventing the Abbotts: “If the Russians/[fill in the blank] didn’t exist, we would have had to invent them.” And so it goes…

    2. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

      Until Brzezinski’s mad scheme of breaking Russia into backward, manageable, corrupt and feuding little ‘stans, or else someone has the guts to stand up and put the neocons in their place, the endless provocations on Russia’s periphery will continue.

      I noted a BBC radio spot about how reviled a Russian sports team was in Belorus. So make some popcorn and get ready for the colored revolution in Minsk sponsored by USAID, Endowment For Democracy, &c.

  3. diptherio

    Mong Kok clashes resume while both students and government officials condemn violence South China Morning Post

    So…provocateurs fighting with each other?

  4. steviefinn

    Unknown to the BBC it seems, a week long Occupy Democracy protest started last night in London. Cameron stated the other day that ” Rights & freedoms, including those of person, of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of travel, of movement, and indeed, of strike…. These are important freedoms ….which most of all, we should stand up for “. He was talking about Hong Kong not his own backyard where not much of the above is in evidence.
    It reminds me of the Thatcher / Reagan era in which it was apparent that the only good labour union was a Polish one.

    1. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

      Democracy is all well and good to preach when fomenting trouble in someone else’s country. Then of course once the “revolution” is successful it’s Meet the New Boss/Same as the Old Boss.

      1. trish

        and never mind rights & freedoms in other countries if their dictator/thug is workin’ fine for our interests, our corporations (I think someone once said some thing like, a son-of-a-bitch, but he’s our son-of-a-bitch). Then never mind the curtailments of the press, speech, death squads…

  5. John Jones

    I noticed this too in Australian news. It seems they are for it when it is in their favor against some country they are against. But heaven forbid that stuff happens at home.
    America, Australia, E.U etc. Take your pick all the same story.

  6. David

    Philanthropy by the 1%—To Serve Man by Serving Themselves
    Bill Gates: “Philanthropy also can be an important part of the solution set. It’s too bad that Piketty devotes so little space to it. A century and a quarter ago, Andrew Carnegie was a lonely voice encouraging his wealthy peers to give back substantial portions of their wealth. Today, a growing number of very wealthy people are pledging to do just that.”

    Given that Gates basically bought-off all opposition to his Common Core scheme, after using his personal contacts with Obama and Arne Duncan to create Race to the Top and coerce the states to accept Common Core, this statement is either a complete (sick) joke, hopeless naïvt&eacute, or a bald-faced lie. The reference to Carnegie is even more telling, given how the Carnegie Foundation did exactly what the Gates Foundation is doing to force its vision of a public education that produces just-enough-literate and coöperative Americans.

    1. James

      The reference to Carnegie is even more telling, given how the Carnegie Foundation did exactly what the Gates Foundation is doing to force its vision of a public education that produces just-enough-literate and coöperative Americans.

      Ahh, philanthropy with strings attached. So noble!

    2. Inverness

      You’re raising some key points about the role of philanthropy in capitalism. It’s a whitewashing campaign, isn’t it? As long as Bill Gates is being lauded as a savior, who would question the ethics of how his products are made, how well-paid his workers are, nor the ruthless nature of the Microsoft monopoly? If I recall correctly, Walmart produced commercials bragging about how much money the Walton family company donated to Katrina victims. Turns out their employees — many of whom are members of the working poor — actually donated more.

      Also, it must be an incredible feeling to be the arguably the most powerful man in American education, who was neither elected, nor has any experience in the field. What an ego: “I can dictate what goes on in our classrooms, and help shape our citizenry.”

      1. MikeNY


        The underlying assumption is that the rich are smarter and better … “the numbers” prove it!

          1. bruno marr

            …well, not really a “job” but a plan to get richer. (His daddy was a prosperous Seattle lawyer, so he grew up with resources.)

            Initially, his venture of buying an computer operating system from IBM and melding it with ideas “innovated” from PARC didn’t take off until he moved the enterprise to Seattle and daddy taught him the skill of legalized “bullying” and the concepts of corporate monopoly.

      2. cwaltz

        I don’t donate to those bins and stuff for this reason. I often wonder if Walmart takes the tax write off for the money it collects from patrons for things like the CMN. If they get a couple thousand in donations at the register for CMN what’s to prevent them from calling it “their” donation? The same goes for those other altruistic businesses that want you to purchase boxes for them to deliver to a food pantry.

        If I want to donate. I’ll purchase and deliver it myself or wait until there is a non profit outside their door to deliver it too.

    3. Banger

      I’m not sure the Bill Gates knows anything at all about education–but I will buy into the thought that he cares about it and looks for the simple nostrums of Common Core which are based on nothing other than fashion and political expediency. The problem with relying on philanthropy from our fuedal lords is they are as big ignoramuses about the world outside their narrow area of expertiese as they are shrewd about their own world.

      I think Gates, at least as far as education is concerned, has probably done more harm than good. There is no area of our collective life more f-ed up than education at all levels. It is still, basically, a system that seeks to maintain the 19th century with impossible contortions. The whole basis of our system needs to be rethought using what we know about human learning that has virtually no connection with what schools are actually doing. We aren’t going to get leadership from the feudal lords and we most certainly are not going to get leadership from public officials and the education profession/industry (including unions) which all consider teachers and students as excess baggage.

      1. trish

        Common Core = millions of public dollars (including from public schools often strapped for cash) channeled into corporate coffers for (untested) “teaching” and training tech (including Bill Gates’ Microsoft), and testing, testing, and more testing.

        and these are just some of the problems with the common core school “reforms.” “School reform” is regurgitated completely unquestioned by the MSM, with all the positive implications of improving. Another example of the effectiveness of the (mis)use of and manipulation with words by the corporate elite and their shills in government to further their agenda.

        “I will buy into the thought that he cares about [common core]…”

        I don’t buy it. At all. Except to say that it feeds his inflated notion of himself- that he (and other billionaires like him) know what’s good for the public, for our children, and should have the power due to their oft-ill-gotten largess to run these shows. And he cares about profits.

      2. bruno marr

        Well, folks who study how people learn and folks who study how to educate folks who are trying to learn (most of us) DO KNOW what they are trying to accomplish. (Some don’t. but they are a minority.) The problem with education (schools) is a one of resources, cultural value, and opportunity. Not abject ignorance.

        The reason Finland is at the top of the education heap is a small, homogeneous, well-off, population that pays it’s teachers more than their lawyers (that’s a cultural valuation, that consequently attracts high-quality teachers). American schools, not so much. In fact, American colleges pay their teachers (adjuncts) a pittance. So, I guess you get what you pay for.

        1. trish

          we could pay our teachers more, elevate them to a status similar to doctors, accord them respect they deserve as educators of our children (future citizens), get rid of the testing & the corporate-driven agenda, leave education decisions to those in education not business, and we would see better results over time. And we would also need to address the great income disparities, the inequality, have a good social safety net. Again, over time things would, could vastly improve. Even though we don’t have Finland’s homogeneity.
          Ours is a wealthy country and could be wealthier (in many ways). it’s just that the wealth is not channeled into the public good.

        2. Yves Smith

          It’s not a cultural value. It’s a cultural value that has been inculcated. Teachers were once well respected.

          I had two spinster great aunts. Both public school teachers. During the Depression they not only were able to buy cars, but also bought GM stock. Teachers were paid above the average of the then-middle class.

      1. Carla

        I agree about the law.

        Instead, we are going in the opposite direction. In my community, both our “public” schools and our “public” library have created private foundations, because austerity.

        Recently, at a small meeting of citizens held to discuss how we would support an upcoming library levy, the relatively new (and still tiny) library foundation was mentioned in a positive light. When I said “Look, it really concerns me that we’re uncritically regarding the privitization of our PUBLIC library as a good thing,” silence fell. Finally, someone muttered, “Well, yeah, Carla. But what are you going to do? They need the money.”

        Just to put things in perspective for those who live outside the rust belt, in our struggling inner ring suburb the owner of a house “valued” at $100,000 pays $3,700 per year in property tax. That does not mean the owner could necessarily sell that house for $100,000.

        What to do, indeed? I don’t have the answers. But my hunch is that the creation of more private foundations ain’t one of ’em.

        1. craazyboy

          It all goes back to the core root of evil. Massive wealth concentration = massive influence concentration. We may get lucky and find out a Saint or two figured out how to get massively wealthy, but that does seem unlikely.

        2. trish

          Our county system has been hit hard with funding cuts but the push to privatize hasn’t infected us…yet (an attempt to privatize our water failed…so far).
          The starving, closing of libraries, the push to privatize, has been happening in Britain, too, across our country, NYC notably.
          odious stuff.

          In our little town library where I work we have a far-right wealthy redneck chairing our Library Friends Board who recently pushed through costly security cameras (a lot of money that could, should have gone to, say, books). We’ve had no thefts, it’s a low-crime town (but there’s an increasing number of homeless). Security cameras are so counter to what our library – a library- should be about. And now they’ll be staring us in the face.
          Then this moron withdrew the Friends banking from a particular bank because that bank made a business decision not to do business with gun shops.
          the Friends secretary sent out a shrill, breathless email that this was a threat to our very freedoms!, our constitutional rights! Our American values! What morons. But harmful morons, at least small-scale.

    4. tongorad

      When I lived in Ballard, Washington, I used to admire the old Carnegie Library on the main drag. Nothing special, just an old brick building among the condos. I think it’s now used a flea/antique market. So whatever were Carnegie’s intentions, at least we have some cool old victorian buildings to look at.

      I wonder what’s going to be the architectural legacy of the Gates foundation? Something with steel bars on the windows, perhaps. Here’s an excellent breakdown of the charter school/corporate education reform true intentions:
      Following the Charter Dollars
      The money shot quote:

      The convergence of Republican and Democrat political interests in behalf of charter school expansion is financially and socially connected, and focused on overcoming what former U.S. DOE Secretary Rod Paige described as the real strength of local school boards: The grass roots of the democracy.

      Billionaires, it seems, have a problem with democracy. Who could have guessed?

  7. trish

    re Ebola Halloween costumes all the rage as Obama names czar

    Reminded me of an old SNL skit with Dan aykroyd. He playing a slimy used-car-salesman-type pushing some sick Halloween costumes. If I recall correctly one was “Johnny Human Torch,” a bag of oily rags and a lighter…quite hilarious.

    1. voxhumana

      That was hilarious indeed, although I didn’t remeber it to be about halloween and costumes, I thought it was about Christmas and birthday gifts to kids. My favorite was “Bag of Glass” and as you’ll imagine, the glass was in shards. Haven’t watched SNL for decades. Just a few seasons after the original cast left it seemed to be carving out a direct line to the status quo and consumer mentality with humor that was mostly edgeless – bright not dark, funny, sure, but pointless and decidedly apolitical except for the occasional bi-partisan take downs just to keep things even for its advertisers. Kind of like the MSM punditry in general, especially after msnbc fired Phil Donohue for being the highest rated show on that loathsome network.

      1. trish

        Ok, I looked on google – my memory was correct (better for old stuff than new!). indeed hilarious.

        Aykroyd and Jane Curtin-

        there’s also Johnny combat action costume, w/ real rifle, popular in Texas…and this was the 70’s.

    2. jrs

      There was a skit where a new cola was introduced called ECola, people kept confusing it with ebola, and e-coli. Terrible cola names …

  8. James

    From The Economist:
    This all pales, though, compared with what is to come. The WHO fears it could see between 5,000 and 10,000 new cases reported a week by the beginning of December; that is, as many cases each week as have been seen in the entire outbreak up to this point. This is the terrifying thing about exponential growth as applied to disease: what is happening now, and what happens next, is always as bad as the sum of everything that has happened to date.

    And from the Albert Allen Bartlett Wikipedia page:
    Bartlett regarded overpopulation as “The Greatest Challenge” facing humanity, and promoted sustainable living. He opposed the cornucopian school of thought (as advocated by people such as Julian Lincoln Simon), and referred to it as “The New Flat Earth Society”[10]

    J. B. Calvert (1999) has proposed that Bartlett’s law[11] will result in the exhaustion of petrochemical resources due to the exponential growth of the world population (in line with the Malthusian Growth Model).

    Bartlett made two notable statements relating to sustainability:

    “The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.”

    and his Great Challenge:

    “Can you think of any problem in any area of human endeavor on any scale, from microscopic to global, whose long-term solution is in any demonstrable way aided, assisted, or advanced by further increases in population, locally, nationally, or globally?”

    So, it seems our inability to deal with Ebola, over the short term at least (let’s hope it never gets to the long term!) is once again hampered by our inability to understand or at least deal with the effects of the exponential function. Sort of a reverse capitalism if you will. Where capitalism naively assumes that we can expect exponentially growing economic returns forever concentrated in the hands of a wealthy few, which in turn supports/encourages/demands exponential population increases and resource depletion as a result, epidemics like ebola flip that logic on its head, demanding that we respond proactively in an exponential fashion to attend to the many or suffer exponential losses for all.

    I’m not one of the “god people” so I’ll leave such speculation aside, but phrases like “what goes around comes around” certainly come to mind. One could certainly be forgiven for concluding that the universe is either a master prankster or master teacher, or both.

    1. Vatch

      Thanks, James. Al Bartlett was one of those rare people who could apply scientific knowledge to real world social problems. It’s a great pity that more people aren’t aware of his work.

  9. TarheelDem

    Parse these sentences carefully:

    The officials, who were reportedly briefed on the federal civil rights investigation into the Brown shooting, reportedly said that forensic tests performed by the FBI found Wilson’s gun had been fired twice in the car. One bullet struck Brown in the arm, while the other missed.

    Who might those officials be if not the state or local officials who have fumbled the ball from the beginning? What we have here is a pre-emptive leak from Missouri that might or might not correspond with the evidence that the DOJ actually has. And we have the laying of the groundwork for a whitewash.

    And it dodges the question of why the officer emptied his magazine into a still unarmed Michael Brown.

    1. Benedict@Large

      Try to create a video in your mind of how Wilson’s gun comes out of his holster while he is sitting in his car. Make it happen only AFTER Wilson senses a threat. Unclip the holster, draw it, keeping good control. Bring it across his body, still under control. Aim and fire it.

      What is Brown doing while this is happening?

      Pretty tough, huh?

  10. Vatch

    On ebola and high population density in poor tropical countries:

    Laurie Garrett, the author of The Coming Plague, is warning that we “just don’t get it.” She has been saying that now for two decades. Developing regions, including many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, have long been at risk of contagion. Vastly underfunded and severely compromised by conflict and the spread of HIV AIDS, public health systems in many countries have not been able to keep up with the needs of a rapidly growing population. And when it comes to the transmission of disease, population growth, density, and distribution matter.

    Writing nearly two decades ago for Foreign Affairs, Garrett cautioned that “Population expansion raises the statistical probability that pathogens will be transmitted, whether from person to person or vector – insect, rodent, or other – to person.” She went on to warn that while high population density “does not doom a nation to epidemics. . . [but] the areas in which density is increasing most are not those capable of providing such infrastructure support. They are rather the poorest on earth.”

    The public health crisis that now threatens to envelope West Africa was not unforeseen. Many more experts than Laurie Garrett have been sounding the alarm.

    1. petal

      From one of the JH ebola lectures the other day, it was brought up how new roads, development, and deforestation were bringing these once rare and isolated diseases to heavily populated, poor areas.

  11. JTFaraday

    re: “Beautiful Feather Pictures: Birds Flaunt Majestic Tails and Dramatic Collars,” National Geographic

    Elizabeth I is on the set! Birds!!

  12. Mark

    Per: How Companies Kill Their Employees’ Job Searches

    It’s interesting how CEO can jump from company to company without having to worry
    about giving up trade secrets.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Well, they’re generic managers, so they don’t actually know anything. Except for accounting control fraud, but that, as we know, is totally portable across business sectors.

      1. jrs

        like the new ebola czar, generic managers that don’t actually know anything. Who frankly I’m not even convinced know any soft managing type skills in that case, but I’m told it’s perfectly ok they know nothing about healthcare as they “are managers”. Of public relations presumably?

      2. craazyman

        competence is for little people.

        I’ve personally witnessed at least 4 highly able people fired from my employer by empty suited bufoons.

        Their sin was being scapegoatable.

      3. Benedict@Large

        This generic manager was indeed the idea that emerged from Harvard in the 70s. No matter what your organizational group was doing, insert a (Harvard-trained) generic manager at the top, and results would improve.

        Prior to this, the maxim was, take care of the business, and the profit will take care of themselves. After the “Harvard awakening”, nothing was left but what could be directly measured.

        1. craazyman

          every once in a while an angel emerges from a Satanic Mill, but its only through the Grace of God.

          And did the Countenance Divine,
          Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
          And was Jerusalem builded here,
          Among these dark Satanic Mills
          -Billy Blake, Jerusalem

          The short answer: “No”

  13. Banger

    Clearly we are faced with a series of very clear decisions as a civilization. Let’s look at the record so far while keeping in mind the extraordinary achievements of western science/technology/systems theory and so on which is much greater and more spectacular than we generally acknowledge since, in the U.S. at least, history is considered a four-letter-word and long-term perspectives are seen as deeply immoral.

    We have all the methods, materials, expertise to handle all our major problems, environmental, war/peace, income inequality and social malaise and outbreaks of serious diseases. Problem is that in all of these areas we have chosen not to use our abilities to solve any problems that involve the commons because the West doesn’t seem to recognize that such a thing exists except in a sort of theoretical sense–but when push comes to shove it is me, myself and I and the people I feel are part of my clan or tribe that count–never mind that we live in a finite planet with finite resources and carrying capacity–that is irrelevant to the vast majority of people even most on the so-called “left.”

    In the U.S. (which the Western world still slavishly follows) we have turned thumbs down to effective action on climate change and other environmental scourges other than some vague gestures in that direction by some but such notions are increasingly unpopular (see the rejection of Senator Udall by Colorado voters that looks almost certain because he made the environment a major issue).

    Now we are faced with Ebola despite the fact we have been warned for several decades about the inevitability of such an epidemic whether Ebola or something else. And, collectively, we have chose to ignore the problem. Well, the good part of this epidemic is that if it spreads as it appears to be spreading it could very well threaten population centers outside of Africa (which we have studiously neglected, exploited and meddled in for centuries) and then what? Are we going to realize then that simply following our own self-interest may not be in our self-interest? That maybe the culture of narcissism may not be all it’s cracked up to be? Could it be that the leadership class might be motivated to be responsible? What do you think?

    1. Vatch

      “Could it be that the leadership class might be motivated to be responsible?”

      I’m reminded of Boccaccio’s Decameron, which takes place at a secluded villa. 10 prosperous people are in hiding to avoid the plague, and they tell stories to while away the time.

  14. craazyboy

    “Much worse to come Economist. Must read.”

    Here’s our Ro again:
    “……R?, is the key variable. For easily transmitted diseases R? can be high; for measles it is 18. For a disease like Ebola, much harder to catch, it is lower: estimates of R? in different parts of the outbreak range from 1.5 to 2.2. Any R? above 1 is bad news, though, and seemingly small differences in R? can matter a lot. An R? of 2.2 may sound not much bigger than an R? of 1.5, but it means numbers will double twice as fast.
    And R? is not a constant. It depends both on the biology of the virus, the setting of its spread (city or country, slum or suburb) and the behaviour of the people among whom it is spreading. Over the course of the crisis the second two factors are bound to change as the virus moves to different places and as people start to adapt. Given high rates of mutation, which bring with them the possibility of evolutionary change, it is possible that the first could change, too. ”

    Ok. So we also know that mutation is highly unlikely in the short to medium term, and may only be a problem, say 20 years from now, if the virus gains a animal reservoir foothold in developed countries, we have a successful vaccine and/or “treatment” developed, and the virus morphs and upsets our happy situation again. :(

    So where our Ro is in danger of changing is if the environment in developed countries happens to be different from Western Africa. We may have to change risky behavior, they say, in order to slow an exponential growth.

    Guessing at what may be different in our environment from West Africa and then guessing at these risky behaviors, I’m thinking some might be the following [pure conjecture on my part]

    1) Flying in pressurized aircraft and breathing circulated air.
    2) Congregating in air conditioned structures of any sort.
    3) Densely populated office cubicles – ( See Doonesbury for further info on that)
    4) Keeping food in refrigerated devices rather than in outdoor markets exposed to sunlight.
    5) Sending kids to school.
    5) Going out to eat.
    6) Dark movie theaters.
    7) Anywhere one may encounter sweat, ie the gym, Florida, etc….

    This is not an exhaustive list, nor is it even very detailed, and may be full of crap. Yikes. Crap.

    So the only way I can think of to develop our National Ro, is to collect more data so we can recalc this constant for our environment. Hope that doesn’t take too long.

    1. ewmayer

      Another big wildcard the tropical environs from whence the virus came: Cold & Flu season.

      That’s one reason I’ve been especially interested in the “transmissible via aerosol fluid droplets?” angle. Of course differentials in virus survivability due to colder/dryer climate also factor into this.

      1. Vatch

        People should get vaccinated against influenza! This won’t protect against the common cold, so some droplets will still be spewn (is that a word?), but many droplets will never become airborne if people don’t have the flu.

        The safety of vaccines has been discussed here before. Single dose flu vaccines are less likely to contain any troublesome mercury containing preservatives. Last week, I had to refuse vaccination at the first place where I planned to undergo the process, because they only had flu vaccine in a vial with the thimerosal preservative. But the next place I tried had the single dose variety, so I got vaccinated.

        1. D

          The only thing that ever defeated the annual influenza season in the USA was the total shutdown of air travel during the 9/11 panic.

          Flu started very late that year, and never got up to anything like normal.

          Lesson: Stay Home When You Are Sick!

      2. craazyboy

        Early on Ebola has “flu-like” symptoms, so one thing I think will happen when however may thousands or millions get colds and flu during flu season is it would be impossible to know if any of it is Ebola. The tests for it can’t be simple – protocols, ya know.

        1. Yves Smith

          The media has created tons of unwarranted panic.

          Eight nurses were exposed to the Duncan when he was dying. That means he was expelling copious amounts of virus-filled bloody vomit and blood-filled shit, which they had to clean up. They were wearing protective gear that made matters WORSE. Duct tape around the neck meant they had to remove it, and you can’t remove that well with gloves on. Tell me how you get that off unless you were wearing two layers of protective gear and so had an inner layer of clean gear you had stripped down to so you could remove the almost-certainly contaminated duct tape.

          Only two got sick. None of Duncan’s family seems to have contracted Ebola.

          That tells you that, generally speaking, it isn’t terribly contagious if you take decent precautions even when exposed to someone in the phase when they are hugely contagious, as in basically dissolving into a pool of high viral load liquid.

          But yes, every person who has watched too much TV and has been in Dallas or been on an airplane and gets a flu is now going to go into panic and freak out everyone around them. This winter is going to be torture.

          As the nice man on Fox pointed out, 52,000 people died in the US last year from garden variety winter flu. Is anyone worried about that?

          1. Vatch

            Well, yes, I’m worried about garden variety flu, and that’s why I got vaccinated. I’ve had type A influenza; it’s very unpleasant, and it takes weeks to fully recover. If it develops into pneumonia, it can be live threatening, and as you indicated, people really die from it.

            1. craazyboy

              I’ve had that too, once. Flat on my back for 2 weeks. Doc gave me anti-biotics too as a effective “treatment”. Said it almost became pneumonia.

              The fact that I took anti-biotics is the reason I’m still around, and can get it again. But I don’t want it again. This means I do worry about it.

              I also worry about new deadly viruses that have no treatment and haven’t killed many in the US because the virus hasn’t existed in the US.

              Call me crazy. Got to stop watching TV, especially Fox News. Which I don’t think is infective.

    2. Yves Smith

      Ebola is transmitted by blood. When people die of it, they vomit and shit out tons of blood filled fluids. Most of the fluid in their body hemorrhages out. Blood, vomit, and shit from someone in the infectious (as in dying) stages of Ebola are the big contagion vector. Even with the horrible protocols in the Dallas hospital, only 2 of the 8 nurses dealing with Duncan got sick. This is consistent with an Ro of 1.5 to 2.2. The US experience is consistent with historical rates of infection.

      People who deal with Ebola and other diseases with similar infection mechanisms concede that it might be possible for someone who is infected to pass the disease to someone else by expelling fluid (basically snot or pleghm) in copious enough volumes that someone else could contract it. They would NOT get it via breathing but via getting in on their hands and then getting it on a mucous membrane (rubbing their eyes) OR getting it on an open would (a cut with no band-aid on it).

      There isn’t any evidence that snot or mucous in an Ebola-infected person in the early stages of the progress of the disease has high enough density of the virus to do that, BTW. This is presented as a theoretical possibility. But this is getting taken up and translated by the hysterics in the medias as if the risk of getting Ebola via airborne means is a real risk. It isn’t.

      The vector on an airplane, if there is one, is the bathroom, not the pressurized air. This fanning fears on airborne transmission is driving me nuts. It’s presented inaccurately and is leading people to freak out over non-risks while ignoring real risks (the need to spend whatever it takes to contain it in Africa).

      1. craazyboy

        Protocols now call for N95 or N100 masks because these will screen “particles” of the type from a cough or sneeze. It’s also well known it’s easy to catch the flu on a airplane, either from these particles being re-circulated, or perhaps they fall on surfaces and you touch it.

        Both the CDC and the Canadian health agency say it can be transmitted by sweat also. Something to do with lymph nodes, I would imagine.

        I think the best way to contain it in Africa starts with telling people it might be easy to catch, and much is not know about transmission vectors, which happens to be true. Not that you have to share a needle, or slip in crap and vomit in an Ebola ward to get it.

        Besides, the current count of dead and infected in Africa is up to over 9000, and we know they all aren’t nurses and doctors.

          1. craazyboy

            From the same link, a possible “animal reservoir” for developed countries…

            “HOST RANGE: Humans, various monkey species, chimpanzees, gorillas, baboons, and duikers are natural animal hosts for ebolavirus Footnote 1 Footnote 2 Footnote 5 Footnote 22 Footnote 23 Footnote 24 Footnote 25 Footnote 26 Footnote 27 Footnote 28 Footnote 29 Footnote 30 Footnote 31. Serological evidence of immunity markers to ebolavirus in serum collected from domesticated dogs suggests asymptomatic infection is plausible, likely following exposure to infected humans or animal carrion Footnote 32 Footnote 33. The Ebolavirus genome was discovered in two species of rodents and one species of shrew living in forest border areas, raising the possibility that these animals may be intermediary hosts Footnote 34. Experimental studies of the virus have been done using mouse, pig, guinea pig, and hamster models, suggesting wild-type ebolavirus has limited pathogenicity in these models Footnote 35 Footnote 36.

            Bats are considered to be a plausible reservoir for the virus. Serological evidence of infection with ebolavirus (antibody detection to EBOV, ZEBOV, and/or REBOV) has been reported in fruit bats collected from woodland and forested areas near Ghana and Gabon, with reduced frequency of isolation from bats collected in mainland China and Bangladesh Footnote 37 Footnote 38 Footnote 39 Footnote 40.

          1. craazyboy

            Per above Canadian Health link:

            SURVIVAL OUTSIDE HOST: Filoviruses have been reported capable to survive for weeks in blood and can also survive on contaminated surfaces, particularly at low temperatures (4°C) Footnote 52 Footnote 61. One study could not recover any Ebolavirus from experimentally contaminated surfaces (plastic, metal or glass) at room temperature Footnote 61. In another study, Ebolavirus dried onto glass, polymeric silicone rubber, or painted aluminum alloy is able to survive in the dark for several hours under ambient conditions (between 20°C and 25°C and 30–40% relative humidity) (amount of virus reduced to 37% after 15.4 hours), but is less stable than some other viral hemorrhagic fevers (Lassa) Footnote 53. When dried in tissue culture media onto glass and stored at 4 °C, Zaire ebolavirus survived for over 50 days Footnote 61. This information is based on experimental findings only and not based on observations in nature. This information is intended to be used to support local risk assessments in a laboratory setting.
            Other sources posted here in the past couple weeks tend to say 3 weeks, maybe longer. It seems to depend on temp, moisture, although above it says 50 days dried, almost like yeast.

            So it’s nothing like AIDS – which doesn’t live outside the body and is killed by natural defenses like saliva and stomach acid.

            The only cheery thing about ebola is it’s easily killed by common disinfectants.

            1. craazyboy

              “Other sources posted here in the past couple weeks tend to say 3 weeks, maybe longer”

              Memory slowly coming back – we’ve seen a range of “up to 6 days” and another at 23 days. Then elsewhere I heard maybe 80 days, but I think that was like a corpse, or maybe stool type environment.

              Anyway, what is supposedly known is all over the map.

        1. Yves Smith

          I am in contact with people at Emory who are treating the disease. The CDC is creating panic, and may also be covering for the incompetence of US medical facilities. This from a doctor at Emory, which is the one place in the US that seems to be competent at treating Ebola:

          Remember, in 100 years of microbiology not a single virus has mutated from being fluid/blood transmission to airborne. It’s why we haven’t panicked about AIDS and Hep C becoming airborne. With airborne transmission you don’t have to have direct contact with the patient ( eg. TB and Flu ) However, if you cough and sneeze a large amount of respiratory fluids and someone else unmindfully touches it and makes it to their mouth or eyes, there is a possibility of transmission. There was some initial panic with pigs potentially getting the ebola airborn but that has been debunked. I believe there was a case of HEP C via large respiratory droplets from coughing (which contained microdroplets of blood).

          I used to be chief of infectious disease at my hospital when we had no ID specialists. The gowns and gloves used for contact isolation, if not taken off in the right order, ( and it is not as simple as ripping off the gloves and gowns) can cause a serious breech of contact isolation…

          I believe the nurse may have been tired, exhausted and just was not mindful. Nice thing about training at Emory is that we got impeccable infectious disease training and cardiology training.

          Please read that CAREFULLY. The concern about Ebola possibly being transmitted via coughing is based on one (repeat, one) incidence of Hep C being transmitted via that route, and it required blood being in the phleghm.

          This is an incredibly remote odds risk. When someone is so sick that they’ll be coughing up blood, they’ll have already been vomiting, which along with poop are the main vectors for transmitting Ebola. And they’ll presumably be in a hospital by then or otherwise isolated.

      2. Roger Bigod

        The wikipedia articles are good on ebola. Besides entries for the disease name and the present outbreak, there’s “viral hemorrhagic fever” and “disseminated intravascular coagulation”.

        Since the first description in 1976, there have been several outbreaks. This one is the largest, but there’s otherwise no difference from previous strains in infectivity, rate of spread or virulence. The previous outbreaks were confined to rural areas, and the jump to cities may account for the number of cases.

        I wonder how much of the hysteria is based on the feature of bleeding on the face. The blood darkens after a day or two, hence “black plague” or “black death”.

        I once took part in the care of a plague patient where this was important. The bacilli had been killed by antibiotic for several days, so he was in no danger. But toxin was still leaking into the blood from enlarged lymph nodes in his groin (buboes), and there were persistent crops of small hemorrhages on his face. He was convinced that he was going to die, and it was worrisome to see his expression of impending doom day after day.

        The mechanism, as with ebola, is that the disease triggers small clots all over the body which deplete clotting proteins in the blood, so a small trauma such as rubbing the face causes hemorrhages. The counterintuitive, but the amount of blood in the hemorrhages is a negligible fraction of the blood volume. In ebola, a lethal depletion of blood volume is common, but it’s due to the huge volume of diarrhea fluid.

        Anyway, we decided that the small danger of a transfusion of fresh blood would be worth it to alleviate our plague patient’s psychological suffering. The rationale was that fresh blood supplies the missing clotting factors. After the transfusion, the bleeding stopped, as expected. The patient was convinced that we had performed a miracle. It was a gratifying feeling, though undeserved.

        1. craazyboy

          The Ebola virus attacks the blood vessels themselves, basically “dissolving” them. I read a more technically correct description in a virology publication, but I’m not fluent enough in med speak to repeat it verbatim.

          But in overly dramatic laymen terms, the end stage is the patient turns into a squishy bag of bloody pus and pops. I think this makes the Black Plague sound pleasant in comparison.

          But yes, the lymph system comes into play here as well. Again, my laymen understanding of this is the lymph system helps clean the blood, and does transfer stuff like bacteria and perhaps viruses from the blood and ultimately to be expelled as sweat. The med publications do say sweat is a transmission vector for Ebola.

          1. craazyboy

            But, perhaps for the sake of scientific curiosity, lets follow this line of thought a bit.

            Starting with the “attack mode” of the virus, I would think the capillaries would be the first to go. They are everywhere of course, but are very dense in the kidneys and intestinal wall. So they break down and you have the observed path of infected blood to feces and urine. I guess for the sake of completeness, we have the stomach to vomit path as well.

            The other thing to consider is permeability of tissue. These organs are designed to transfer stuff either to or from the bloodstream. In the case of the intestines, larger dissolved substances in the blood, say minerals, don’t transfer easily. But transfer is aided by an attached fat. (See vitamin research) We know viruses are extremely tiny.

            There are other “permeable” tissues in the body, say lungs, blood-brain barrier, lymph system, mucous membranes and probably some I’ve missed.

            So here we can see that there are avenues to consider when trying to asses how the virus escapes from the body, and there is the timing issue on when is the patient contagious. There is a possible range – organs still working as intended all the way to capillary breakdown leaking blood places it shouldn’t be going.

            Again I’ll toss out my laymen disclaimer, but it seems to me this is worth some consideration, at least.

          2. Roger Bigod

            At the molecular level, the virus attacks two types of cells: monocytes and endothelial cells. (See illustration in wikipedia article). Monocytes are blood cells that scarf up bacteria and dead tissue. Endothelial cells are the lining of blood vessels.

            Damaged endothelial cells allow blood proteins to leak out into the tissue. The proteins include clotting factors and when they contact “tissue factor” the result is a tiny blood clot. If enough clotting factors get used up, there aren’t enough to form clots where they’re needed (“consumption coagulopathy”). Toxins released by plague bacilli can cause the same process.

            Plague is perhaps worse in that if the bacillus starts growing in air spaces in the lung it becomes airborne and highly contagious (pulmonic plague).

            There’s something special about facial bleeding. If you don’t know about blood circulation, capillaries etc., it’s where the “self” resides. There’s a primal horror about the word “plague” that’s unique among infectious diseases. Not the best background for organizing public health efforts.

            1. craazyboy

              Yes.”Damaged endothelial cells” is what the virology pub I read discussed in great detail. They talked about the virus attacking the “glue” [my word, regrettably] that holds blood vessels together. They also mentioned that viruses are a protein[small?], so I’ll bet somebody else’s monkey that Ebola travels right along with the other blood proteins.

              Dunno what we can do about that plague word. I suspect it may have origins in Latin, Greek, or Egyptian, and once meant “pestilence of epic proportion”. haha. Just making fun of our little foibles. :)

              1. Roger Bigod

                “Glue” gets the idea across. The endothelial cells link together to provide a seal against big proteins (including clotting factors) leaking out. There’s a factor in the surrounding tissue (imaginatively named Tissue Factor) that activates clotting factors to plug little local leaks. Widespread endothelial damage leads to massive clotting. The factors turn over slowly, so it takes several days to restock and restore normal clotting.

                The “central dogma” of molecular biology is that DNA transfers information to RNA, which transfers it to protein. Viruses can be DNA or RNA. Ebola is RNA with only 7 genes. Some RNA viruses back-translate to DNA and insert themselves into a cell’s nucleus. These are “retro” viruses, and the best known is HIV.

                1. craazyboy

                  paging Roger Bigod – Since you’re here, I’ve got another question.

                  The viro mag article I read also gave a short newbie primer on viruses. Because they are such simple organisms, they have no internal way to replicate. They have to attach to a target cell, and to make a confusing explanation short, this cell matter is essentially turned into a new[baby] virus organism.

                  In the case of Ebola, they are talking endothelial cells, and also monocytes, which is how Ebola knocks out your immune system and has a replication rate much, much faster than the typical virus.

                  So I’m also wondering is Ebola very selective about the type of cell it will procreate with, or will any cell do? For instance, will it replicate anywhere in the body besides the inside wall of a blood vessel.

                  “I don’t know” is a perfectly acceptable answer.

                  1. Roger Bigod

                    AFAIK, once a virus gets into a cell it can grab anything for energy, components of new virus particles, whatever. But to get in, it needs to attach to proteins on the external surface and these vary with cell type. The wikipedia article on “influenza” shows how different viruses attack differentparts of the respiratory tract.

  15. rich

    Renzi’s cutting health care

    “Renzi has slotted into the current package, the disgusting cut-health-care clause! If he has the courage, let the President of the Council, appear on TV and tell the Italian people the truth. The same truth that he kept hidden yesterday in a press conference at Palazzo Chigi: namely that his “Stability Law” offloads 4 billion of cuts onto the regions and that this will mean cuts to health care provision,

    a direct attack on the bare flesh of the citizens.

  16. CB

    More specifically, American kestrel, which a long time birder told me is disappearing in our area, southern New Jersey.

        1. CB

          Yes, I saw that picture when I read the Eurasian Kestrel comment and rummaged thru the web for kestrels.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      They didn’t mention Oliver Heaviside, who worked in telegraphy; IIRC, he worked at night, and had the Victorian equivalent of junk food left on a tray outside his door. So there was a nerdly larval stage even then….

  17. flora

    Cooper Unions: “Just another great institution squillionaire morons on the board are trying to wreck.”
    The plutos’ new form of big game hunting.

  18. trish

    late on this, but just saw in yesterday’s Links- Senior NSA official moonlighting for private cybersecurity firm Guardian.

    wow. seems like it’s getting more blatant. forget the revolving door. all in-house now. cash in before you’ve left “public service.” Is this a first, or have I just missed something???

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Given the opacity of the intelligence budget, it’s hard for me to believe it’s the first, human nature being what it is. Perhaps, as in so many other elite endeavors, they simply don’t care enough to fake it any more.

  19. lmk

    Outrageous that the Atlantic article mourns only the “loss of innovation” that these noncompete agreements bring — rather than, say, the way they suppress wages and exacerbate income inequality.

  20. Ignacio

    Wow, Edward Hugh misses completely the point in his “blame the Germans” rant. Of course it is not the “Germans” and I hate this kind of oversimplification. It is clearly “german policies” what is causing stagnation in Europe and will end in eurozone breakup if european policymakers, not only german policymakers, don’t change radically their minds.

  21. Anonymous

    nizations: UN, NASA, Shell, MacDonald, BP, Wal-Mart. The reselling of a hybrid might result in Kjøp lacoste sko the penalty of a recapturing of the tax credit. During somepart of this time physicians at times rely on the nurses and staff to keep an eye on the woman’s progress and to keep them up to date of any issues that might arise. VIPS was formed after former President George W. Let me just express to you that my overwhelming feeling as I leave is one of gratitude. Boehringer Ingelheim

  22. H. Alexander Ivey

    “GM’s hit and run: How a lawyer, mechanic, and engineer blew open the worst auto scandal in history”

    It’s a excellent posting of the “gosh darn, why doesn’t business build safe (cheap, clean, etc, etc.) cars (widgets, …). Lots of good old fashion heart tugging anecdotes, quietly stated sincere moral outrage, and well founded facts of damning mis-engineering and cold-hearted money over all other concerns.

    Well, the fault lies not in the stars but in ourselves. The way Detroit (and American business mostly) works is NOT broken, is NOT immoral, is NOT a source of moral outrage. It is not the business of business to set and maintain standards (like safety, in this case). It is the “business” of government to set the standard. Asking a business or industry to set any standard is a poor idea at best (standards of use or exchange) and criminal at usual (standards of safety, in this posting, standards for quality and environment).

    Don’t think I’m unmindful of the tragedies done here, I am. But I am not going to allow others to make business be the bad guy here. They are not the bad guy, the “remedies” being proposed (X million dollars for a Y person accident or death) and million dollar penalties imposed on corporations are entirely wrong headed. Businesses are not people. They can not be jailed nor their existence limited to a 8×5 foot cell. Any fine that is imposed, if it does not change company policy, is not really a fine, but a simple cost to be paid for by the consumer.

    I know why those involved with this particular tragedy seek to fight it out in the court, it is the only acceptable way to fight. But it will not change anything (the fines involved are just a cost of business, not a means of changing company policy), and worse, far worse, it continues to hide the truth: in America, the government has given up its true role of setting standards and protecting the weak, and companies have given up on building things and providing services that meet high standards.

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