2:00PM Water Cooler 3/30/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Thank you, readers, for making this year’s Water Cooler fundraiser a great success, and also for the many kind comments, and helpful suggestions. I feel much better about the stresses of the coming year (and will also be able to help some others, as I said). Thank you, thank you, thank you! –lambert P.S. Of course, if you missed the fundraiser, the tip jar is below. There’s still time!


At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart:

The data is the John Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. I am using a linear, not a logarithmic scale, because the linear scale conveys the alarming quality of the multiplication better (don’t @ me, math nerds). I did not adjust for population, because it seems to me that the epidemics spread through a population in a fractal matter; within reasonable limits, the shape of the curve will be the same. Show me I’m wrong!


“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune

“They had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.” –Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord

Key dates coming fast now, so I added some counters:

* * *


We encourage readers to play around with the polling charts; they are dynamic, and there are a lot of settings, more than I can usefully show here. Here is a link to alert reader dk’s project. You can also file bug reports or feature requests using the same contact process as for Plants, below. Thanks — but no promises!

We have a new national poll from ABC, as of 3/30/2020, 11:00 AM EDT. The sample size is miserably small:

The numbers:

It does seem that the strategy of keeping Biden out of the public eye pays off. Earlier in the year, we often had occasion to comment on the mysterious strength of the Biden Juggernaut, on display here; but it’s also true that Biden’s ups and downs have been of much greater amplitude than other candidates.

* * *

Biden (D)(1): “Joe Biden is the worst imaginable challenger to Trump right now” [Ryan Cooper, The Week]. “A Pew poll, for instance, found that Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters nearly doubled their approval of Trump over the last few weeks, from 7 to 12 percent. As has been made abundantly clear, Democratic voters tend to take their cues from Democratic elites. The party rallied around Biden in lockstep right before Super Tuesday, and voters fell in line. Biden won multiple states he has not visited in months and in which he had no campaign offices. And now that he’s the probable nominee, Biden is not savaging Trump’s response. On the contrary, his campaign says they are hesitant to even criticize him at all. “As much as I dislike Trump and think what a bad job he’s doing, there’s a danger now that attacking him can backfire on you if you get too far out there. I don’t think the public wants to hear criticism of Trump right now,” one adviser told Politico.”

Biden (D)(2):

Cuomo (D)(1): “Even in a Pandemic, Andrew Cuomo Is Not Your Friend” [Jacobin]. “It’s an effective public relations campaign — so effective that you could almost forget that this is Andrew Cuomo we’re talking about. The man who summarily disbanded the corruption commission he’d ran on creating when it began to investigate his allies. The man who made a host of videotaped promises in exchange for the Working Families Party’s endorsement only to turn around and break them all. The man who secretly worked for years to ensure Republican control of the State Senate, protecting himself from the flak that would come with having to veto progressive legislation. And lest you thought he had turned a new leaf, Governor 1 percent is insisting on taking an ax to the state Medicaid budget even at the cost of $6.7 billion in emergency federal aid — and lying about it. In the most unequal state in the nation, he is fighting to protect the rich and impose austerity on everyone else. Make no mistake: even in a pandemic, Andrew Cuomo is not your friend.” • Even Indivisible gets this:

Sanders (D)(1):

Sanders (D)(2): “We Need to Talk About Joe” [The Intercept]. Aja Monet: “You know, years ago that I would expect myself to be endorsing or supporting an older white man [Sanders] for president. You know, rhetorically, that sounds crazy, right? But in actuality, identity is an entry point. It is not the end. It is the way by which we are informed of how the world and power dynamics affect our daily lives. What makes someone a true comrade, what makes someone who’s willing to be in solidarity with you as someone that understands the interrelations of power, how power changes and transforms based on the people that you are in conversation and movement with. And I think Sanders has built a coalition of people who are constantly in struggle with one another to understand the different power dynamics, to understand our relationship to white supremacy, to understand our relationship to patriarchy, to understand our relationship to capitalism, etc. And we’re breaking those things down, day to day, person by person.” • Philosphers have interpreted the world…

Sanders (D)(3): The headline: “This Is What an Opposition Party Is Supposed to Sound Like” [The Nation]. The deck: “Bernie Sanders’s moral outrage and devastating sarcasm struck back against a GOP assault on poor and low-income workers.” • I bet if Stoller read that, he nearly stroked out. “Devasting sarcasm”! There’s a precedent for this:

Vercotti: Doug (takes a drink) I was terrified of him. Everyone was terrified of Doug. I’ve seen grown men pull their own heads off rather than see Doug. Even Dinsdale was frightened of Doug.

Interviewer: What did he do?

Vercotti: He used sarcasm. He knew all the tricks, dramatic irony, metaphor, bathos, puns, parody, litotes and satire.

Well and good. But Doug has a brother, Dinsdale:

Interviewer: Stig, I’ve been told Dinsdale Piranha nailed your head to the floor.

Stig: No, no. Never, never. He was a smashing bloke. He used to give his mother flowers and that. He was like a brother to me.

Interviewer: But the police have film of Dinsdale actually nailing your head to the floor.

Stig: Oh yeah, well – he did that, yeah.

Interviewer: Why?

Stig: Well he had to, didn’t he? I mean, be fair, there was nothing else he could do. I mean, I had transgressed the unwritten law.

Sanders needs to be Doug and Dinsdale. He needs to nail Biden’s head to the floor. Politics ain’t beanbag.

* * *

“Is the U.S. Headed Toward a Short British-Style Election?” [New York Times]. “Many Democratic leaders now doubt their national party convention will take place as planned in July, while President Trump’s determination to hold the Republican convention could collide with life-and-death realities… The duration of the election season itself is likely to shrink significantly. The presidential campaign, which typically dominates news coverage for much of the year, could look more like one of Britain’s six-week general election sprints. Should the two major American candidates return to the stump before the fall, they will most likely be crowded out by the grim accounting of the country’s worst pandemic in over a century…. But until the spread of the virus slows, there is likely to be little interest in the presidential race and even less in state and local races.” • I would think there would be an enormous amount of interest, at least among those clever enough to see opportunity.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Sirens in the silence: As we settle in for a plague year, the empire strikes back” [Salon]. “[Hoover Institution fellow and NYU law professor Richard A. Epstein] argued that the coronavirus pandemic wasn’t really a pandemic: There would be “well under 1 million” cases worldwide, and about 50,000 deaths. In his original post, he predicted that there would be fewer than 500 deaths in the United States — and, oh goodness, each of those would be a personal tragedy, no doubt! But in the larger scheme of things, nothing to worry about, and definitely no justification for the ‘current course’ of widespread economic shutdown.” • I would be much more sympathetic to liberal Democrat horror at this line of thinking if they had not systematically ignored falling life expectancy, and if they were not perfectly OK with losing 68,000 lives a year, every year, for years and years, because they won’t support #MedicareForAll.

The Democrat Establishment. Thread:

Interestingly, the Clinton campaign laundered the Steele Dossier through Perkins Coie.

Stats Watch

At reader request, I added some business stats back in. Please give Econintersect click-throughs; they’re a good, old-school blog that covers more than stats. If anybody knows of other aggregators, please contact me at the email address below.

Manufacturing: “March 2020 Texas Manufacturing Plummets” [Econintersect]. “Important subindices new orders significantly declined (and are now in contraction) and unfilled orders insignificantly improved and remains deep in contraction. This should be considered a much worse report relative to last month.”

Housing: “February 2020 Pending Home Sales Growth Strong. Wait Until Next Month To See The Affect [sic] of Coronavirus” [Econintersect]. “The year-over-year growth is in positive territory. The data is very noisy and must be averaged to make sense of the situation. Shorter-term trends are now improving. However, we expect the pending home sales index to collapse with the March data.”

* * *

Real Estate: “The World Needs Warehouses Now, and Blackstone’s Got Them” [Bloomberg]. “Last year, Blackstone Group Inc. bought more than $25 billion worth of industrial properties, which include warehouses and logistics facilities, according to Real Capital Analytics. The private equity firm now owns more of this space in the U.S. than any group except real estate investment trust Prologis Inc., which has also been getting bigger through acquisitions. The two companies have about a billion square feet between them, more than their next 10 largest competitors combined, according to CBRE Group Inc.”

Retail: “The coronavirus pandemic may be providing supermarkets a view of a future that depends heavily on digital grocery shopping. Soaring demand for online ordering is giving grocers a lesson in how far they are from handling e-commerce efficiently… with many companies straining to turn surging web traffic into profitable sales and deliveries” [Wall Street Journal]. “Consulting firm Bricks Meets Clicks says the number of U.S. households ordering groceries online reached 40 million this month, roughly double the level recorded just last August. Although supermarkets have invested heavily in their online businesses, it is proving harder to ramp-up capacity quickly online than in physical stores. The trend-setting U.K. online grocer Ocado stopped taking new customers and Walmart Inc. and Amazon Fresh customers have seen delays.”

Shipping: “Scared drivers press on toward looming freight cliff” [Freight Waves]. “Trucking companies last week began to accept loads they would have rejected two weeks ago. There are fewer loads to choose from as the coronavirus pandemic shuts down all but essential businesses like grocery stores and pharmacies. Manufacturers of most expensive items like cars and trucks are shut down. Their suppliers have no choice but to cease production….. None of the drivers who spoke with FreightWaves wanted to drive a load to New York, where the coronavirus spread leads the nation.” • Hmm. I wonder how much food there is in warehouses that serve New York.

Manfacturing: “The coronavirus relief package coming out of Washington provides a big boost to troubled U.S. aerospace supply chains. The $2 trillion measure makes billions of dollars available to aircraft manufacturer Boeing Co. and its fast supplier network…. providing a safety net for a sector under pressure from plummeting demand for air travel” [Wall Street Journal]. “Whether Boeing will tap into the federal money remains a question, and the company is looking at private financing so it doesn’t have to take funding with big strings attached. The jet maker’s suppliers may need help, however, since many have been strained by the crisis over the grounding of Boeing’s 737 MAX jets. The high value of aerospace components leaves some suppliers with little financial room to ride out the coronavirus lockdowns, and may make it harder to resume operations quickly once demand returns.”

Manufacturing: “40 years ago, a fabulist named Robert Bork dreamed up an imaginary history of US antitrust law in order to justify dismantling it” [Cory Doctorow, ThreadReader]. • A thread about the extremely bad behavior of Covidien, the big company that bought up a small company whose mission was to build cheap ventilators, to kill their product. Reminds me of the horror stories in voting machine companies.

Tech: “Venmo, Square Cash Vie For Stimulus Funds Distribution” [PYMNTS.COM]. “Venmo and Cash App want to be considered as ways the U.S. government could deliver its stimulus funds to help the coronavirus-wrecked economy…. The parent companies of both apps have discussed this possibility with the Treasury Department, though it is unclear if the proposition has been seriously considered…. Though the money is planned to be distributed via direct deposit, that option may not be feasible for everyone. Fourteen percent of Americans making under $40,000 a year don’t have a bank account, according to figures published by the Federal Reserve in 2019, and Venmo, Cash App and other such services are available to even those without bank accounts. Erica York, an economist with the Tax Foundation, said there could be potential for experimental thinking outside the box when it comes to people who don’t have normal bank accounts. However, with the size and scope of the crisis, she was unsure if the government had the requisite time to adapt to a whole new form of distribution because of the changes that would be needed to adapt to the apps.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 24 Extreme Fear (previous close: 23 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 5 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 30 at 11:39am. Stimulus!

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 182. Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing. An index that measures the likelihood of the Apocalypse has been stable in the midst of what, in Biblical terms, should surely be a plague. Very odd.

The Biosphere

It really bugs me the way #COVID19 has driven all the climate news off the science sites. Because #COVID19 is just the first wavelet of a tsunami.

“Climate vs coronavirus: Why massive stimulus plans could represent missed opportunities” [Nature]. “But there is a danger that governments will fall back on high-carbon projects that are ready to go. Mountford notes that India and China have plenty of plans for coal-fired power plants that have been shelved in pursuit of renewable energy, and they could be revived quickly if the focus is purely on economic growth and jobs…. This dynamic is already playing out in the aviation industry, which has been at the front of the queue for government relief in the COVID-19 crisis. In Europe, Livingston says, airlines are asking politicians to shelve looming carbon taxes, which would apply to flights within Europe and the European portion of external flights.”

“Rare ozone hole opens over Arctic — and it’s big” [Nature]. “A vast ozone hole — likely the biggest on record in the north — has opened in the skies above the Arctic. It rivals the better-known Antarctic ozone hole that forms in the southern hemisphere each year…. “From my point of view, this is the first time you can speak about a real ozone hole in the Arctic,” says Martin Dameris, an atmospheric scientist at the German Aerospace Center in Oberpfaffenhofen…. [T]his year, powerful westerly winds flowed around the North Pole and trapped cold air within a ‘polar vortex’. There was more cold air above the Arctic than in any winter recorded since 1979, says Markus Rex, an atmospheric scientist at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Potsdam, Germany. In the chilly temperatures, the high-altitude clouds formed, and the ozone-destroying reactions began.”

“The northern-hemisphere winter of 2019-20 was the warmest ever on land” [The Economist]. “The winter-that-wasn’t of 2019-20 is not yet a new normal. The main factor determining the severity of northern winters is the “Arctic oscillation”: the relative pressure of Arctic and sub-tropical air. When pressure is higher in the Arctic, cold air from the North Pole pushes south, bringing harsh, dry winters to many places. When pressure is higher towards the sub-tropics, warm air pushes northwards, hemming in cold air around the pole. These two patterns flip back and forth irregularly. For reasons that are not yet clear, pressure in the sub-tropics this year was much stronger than in the Arctic. And researchers have not yet determined how rising temperatures affect the Arctic oscillation. Until a few years ago, climate models tended to show pressure in the Arctic strengthening, reducing the amount of warming during winter at temperate northern latitudes. The latest models find the reverse.”

“Read All About Arctic on ASI Blog” [Arctic Sea Ice Forum (PI)]. PI writes: “For the past year or so I have been following the Arctic Sea Ice forum, in particular their data thread. They track the rise-and-fall of the ice up north, and compare it to previous years we’ve had data for.”

Health Care

“Coronavirus: The state had 21 million N95 masks stockpiled. All are expired.” [San Francisco Chronicle]. “As the coronavirus pandemic slammed into California and doctors and nurses sounded the alarm on a dire shortage of masks, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the release of the state’s emergency stockpile of 21 million N95 respirators. What he didn’t mention then: They are all expired. Every one of the masks stored in the state’s climate-controlled warehouse in a secret location has surpassed its wear-by date…. What could limit the expired masks’ use in this pandemic is quite simple — an elastic band. The resilience of the band that holds the mask in place can wear over time and prevent a tight fit on the nurse or doctor wearing the mask.”

“Meet the doctor who ordered the Bay Area’s coronavirus lockdown, the first in the U.S.” [San Jose Mercury News]. “It was [Sara] Cody, [Santa Clara County’s Public Health Officer since 2013,] who would eventually lead her Bay Area cohorts to pull the trigger March 16 on the historic seven-county legal order — the first of its kind in the country — that required residents to ‘shelter-in-place,’ days ahead of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s similar mandate for the entire state.”

Screening Room

There is a Netflix movie, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness. The Hunter Thompson of Circus-Circus days would approve. Here are two threads about it:

There’s a motherlode of “You can’t look away” material on this thread:

This thread is like listening to somebody react without being able to see what’s on the screen:

Groves of Academe

“Mayor: New Haven asks for coronavirus housing help; Yale says ‘no'” [New Haven Register]. “An angry Mayor Justin Elicker said he asked Yale University President Peter Salovey whether police officers and firefighters who are asymptomatic, but who have a family member exposed to COVID-19, or who are not symptomatic, but have been exposed to the virus, or are waiting for test results, if they could use a dormitory at the university. The answer was no. He said he then called UNH President Steve Kaplan, “who in the first 5 minutes of the conversation, said ‘yes. We will make this happen. This is important for the community.'” • Corey Robin:

I think the normally astute Corey Robin has this reversed. Elites are not mimicking Trump. Rather, Trump is the pure expression of elite sociopathy, with the public relations and the pretense of moral superiority ripped away. Hence their hatred of him, I would guess.

Class Warfare

“COVID-19 and Circuits of Capital” [Monthly Review]. Word:

The failure to prepare for and react to the outbreak did not just start in December when countries around the world failed to respond once COVID-19 spilled out of Wuhan. In the United States, for instance, it did not start when Donald Trump dismantled his national security team’s pandemic preparation team or left seven hundred CDC positions unfilled.9 Nor did it start when feds failed to act on the results of a 2017 pandemic simulation showing the country was unprepared.10 Nor when, as stated in a Reuters headline, the United States “axed CDC expert job in China months before virus outbreak,” although missing the early direct contact from a U.S. expert on the ground in China certainly weakened the U.S. response. Nor did it start with the unfortunate decision not to use the already available test kits provided by the World Health Organization. Together, the delays in early information and total miss in testing will undoubtedly be responsible for many, probably thousands, of lost lives.

The failures were actually programmed decades ago as the shared commons of public health were simultaneously neglected and monetized. A country captured by a regimen of individualized, just-in-time epidemiology—an utter contradiction—with barely enough hospital beds and equipment for normal operations, is by definition unable to marshal the resources necessary to pursue a China brand of suppression.

The leadership debate fracas in the press and the political class does seem a little… superficial.

“Nurses Die, Doctors Fall Sick and Panic Rises on Virus Front Lines” [New York Times]. “‘I feel like we’re all just being sent to slaughter,’ said Thomas Riley, a nurse at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx, who has contracted the virus, along with his husband.” • That has always been the case. That’s why life expectancy isn’t dropping for the 10% on up, and is dropping for everyone else. It’s just happening out in the open now, and a lot faster.

News of the Wired

“Upgraded Google Glass Helps Autistic Kids “See” Emotions” [IEE Spectrum]. • Just the kind of power we want to give the Marketing Department.

“Tilde Sites – Geocities 2.0, or SDF for the 2020s?” [The Dork Web]. • I don’t know quite what to make of this. It seems that tilde sites are real and exist today, and use the gopher protocol? (This seems to be SDF). It all seems very retro. But that’s not a bad thing at all.

Going stir-crazy already:

I think there are some missing days. Where’s Banday?

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (TH):

TH writes: “This one was taken at a Nature Center in Long Beach, California—El Dorado Park. There’s something about greenery bordering water that draws me in every time. (I’m not sure how I feel about the out of focus foreground, but I don’t think I was supposed to step off the path and didn’t want to trample anything to avoid it.”)

Here is another reader project (stillfeelinthebern):

stillfeelinthebern writes: “I see Katiebird’s mittens. Here are mine. These are a take on traditional Latvian mittens. Knit circular, on a circular needle with a loop, not the traditional 4 needles. That why you see only one needle in the picture. Lambert, you are correct that knitting is a complicated data structure. I started knitting at age 7 and really believe that all the math and symbolic pattern reading prepared me to be a scientist (and artist too!).” Thank you!

* * *

Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the annual NC fundraiser. So if you see a link you especially like, or an item you wouldn’t see anywhere else, please do not hesitate to express your appreciation in tangible form. Remember, a tip jar is for tipping! Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of donations helps me with expenses, and I factor in that trickle when setting fundraising goals:

Here is the screen that will appear, which I have helpfully annotated.

If you hate PayPal, you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check. Thank you!

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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. jo6pac

    MMMMMMMMMMMMMM this must be an opening for us commenters to comment or pass info around.

    Ha I opened a second time and there it was just like FM;-)

      1. ObjectiveFunction

        “He was a cruel man, but fair!”

        (for some time it’s been my standard practice to post a gif of Spiny Norman in reply to RussiaRussiaRussia! posts on FB)

    1. clarky90

      Trapping a Monkey in Colonial Times / La Chasse au Singe à l”epoque coloniale (1912)


      “A monkey is caught alive — for a pet, performing animal act or zoo, presumably — in footage dating from 1912. The information about the original film tells us that the method shown is the native way of doing this: ……. The frantic struggles of the trapped monkey are shown without comment, but were presumably there to be laughed at because of its “stupidity”!”

      Prescient commentary about 2020, USAian politics?

  2. Otis B Driftwood

    Wife and I have had a cleaning lady come to our house every 2 weeks for years. We decided to keep paying her even if she can’t come to our house right now.

    That, and we are getting take out at least twice a week to help support our local restaurants. We also found a local baker who delivers.

    Everyone is impacted in a different way by this. I am fortunate to be able to keep WFH, earn the same $$, and so I’m able to do this, the very least I can do.

    1. John

      If you can afford to have someone clean your house,you can afford to pay them through thick and thin.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        My dad doesn’t get that, somehow.
        How did i absorb his father’s stories,about the Depression, etc., while he did not?
        Been a conundrum for a long time.

  3. Synoia

    California’s Stock Pile of N95 Masks

    What could limit the expired masks’ use in this pandemic is quite simple — an elastic band. The resilience of the band that holds the mask in place can wear over time and prevent a tight fit on the nurse or doctor wearing the mask.

    Oh. How can the elastic wear over time in a stockpile of masks? In my experience wear is a function of use, not storage.

    It could perish, but generally that requires heat.

    1. Carolinian

      Rubber deteriorates over time (years)–particularly under certain storage conditions.

        1. CuriosityConcern

          Alligator clips, or my mom was planning to staple ribbons on her mask where the band broke.

        2. Angie Neer

          Right, that’s not hard. But it was cheaper to buy new masks from China than to replace the straps. Until recently.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            aye. didn’t hafta pay all thse americans .

            but the Chinese Peasants didn’t stay peasants, which broke the model.
            so they tried for years to make us peasants, instead.
            and succeeded.
            and now this has happened, and we’re all peasants,
            so what the hell?

            (that class only exists when people are looking at them.. think about it.)

        3. Chris

          In a sterile way, without damaging the rest of the mask, and then repackaging them so that they can be used? Yes, it is difficult to do.

          Ditto for face shields.

          We need to do research into other materials that have longer shelf lives and different mask designs that don’t rely on components that deteriorate easily.

        4. The Rev Kev

          Give them to the doctors and the nurses. They will be able to achieve a work-around in minutes, even if they just use big rubber bands.

        5. AndrewJ

          As someone who is making fabric masks right now, to give away, appropriate elastic is out of stock in America, and nobody knows how long it is going to take to get resupplied. The Seattle monster is expecting late April, some June estimates. I kid you not. The supply chain that could bring me, a home-gamer and repairman with a Mcmaster account, elastic head straps in a week or less has broken.
          Even cotton twill in the most appropriate width is out of stock.

      1. Carolinian

        The masks are probably factory packaged and once opened are no longer considered certified virus free.

        Or something like that–a bureaucratic objection.

        1. D. Fuller

          Already, IIRC, posted prior here on NC…

          Every Day, Tons Of Viruses Are Swept Into The Sky And Fall Back Down To Earth

          There are an enormous number of viruses that get sucked up into the outer atmosphere and then fall out of the sky and scatter across the globe, according to new research published in the International Society for Microbial Ecology Journal.

          So, of course opening a package and exposing it to the air… :)

          Our legal system certainly is not English… but Legalese.

    2. Billy

      Rubber bands dry out, being made of natural rubber, in part.
      God help a country made up of medical professionals who can’t figure out how to use another rubber band from their drawer to replace an old one.
      No, there is not an app for that.
      Directions for Appholes.
      1.Find scalable Rubber Band. Often found on vegetables like broccoli -make sure to disinfect it! You can usually find RB’s in in those sliding metal boxes thingies under tables where printer paper is stored, along with all those weird metal silvery things.
      2. Cut loop into straight piece with scissors or knife. Sharp edge goes against the rubber band, on top of a table, not in your palm. There might be an instructional Youtube video.
      3. Tie several rubber banks together in a long string. Knots.com, perhaps an App?
      4. Pry staple on side of mask up with a screwdriver. Consult your computer memory installer, or tech guy they have one.
      5.Pull old dried out band from under lifted staple. Discard. Not recyclable. Slip end of new one under staple, Pound flat with handle of knife on table, not on your palm.
      6. Figure out length of rubber band to reach around your head and connect under other side of mask’s staple you have lifted. Have your partner mark it with a sharpie. Pull tight. Math function of your phone not required. Tie a knot. Cut off excess.
      Congratulations You are now part of America’s new manufacturing class!

    3. HotFlash

      The rubber in elastic oxidizes, which renders it brittle and, um, inelastic. The word ‘wear’ is just sloppy writing, poor vocabulary, and/or ignorance. Maybe writer didn’t have time to check wikipedia?

      1. Carey

        Yes- exactly as has happened to my 3M 8210+ N95 masks, which I keep around for the few times I can’t go outside to sand stuff. They’re unused but five-or-so years old, and the elasticity’s gone, as I found out a several days ago. Nothing a staple
        or two won’t fix, though.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          If there is no stretchy rubber anywhere to be found, but there is vaseline petroleum jelly within reach, one wonders whether a seamless smear of vaseline along the whole edge of the mask would allow it to stick to the face if jammed tightly on.

    4. Bsoder

      If any natural rubber is used it will fall apart a fact, but plenty of non-rnatural rubber bands around so…

    5. David B Harrison

      The mask elastic is an example of crapification like tires which have an expiration date(seven years).They simply disintegrate without having to be used or exposed to the elements.

  4. Max

    The article about Tilde sites made me smile, primarily because it referenced Demolition Man, and I love hokey sci fi. I’ve been making endless Demolition Man references for the past few weeks.

    For whatever reason, it is only in this crisis that it became clear to me we might be headed toward Demolition Man’s version of future dystopia: universal surveillance and behavior monitoring, hyper-sanitization, limited human contact in favor of “virtual” relationships, consolidation of small business into one or two massive corporations, and those three shells I can’t figure out (but at least the lack of TP won’t be a problem!).

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Am I right in thinking, then, that there’s an entire world of interconnected websites that does not use http? Might be a good place to go off the grid, yet still online, were one inclined to do that.

    1. marym


      On Monday, General Electric factory workers launched two separate protests demanding that the company convert its jet engine factories to make ventilators. Workers protested at GE’s Lynn, Massachusetts aviation facility held a silent protest, standing six feet apart. Union members at the company’s Boston headquarters also marched six feet apart, calling on the company to use its factories to help the country close its ventilator shortage amid the coronavirus pandemic.


      Whole Foods Employees Are Staging a Nationwide ‘Sick-Out’
      Workers say they will strike Tuesday because the Amazon subsidiary has failed to prioritize their safety during a period of record sales.

      The Whole Foods “sick out” is the latest in a wave of strikes led by workers on the frontlines…On Monday, Amazon warehouse workers in New York City and Instacart shoppers across the country walked off the job. Last week, sanitation workers in Pittsburgh and poultry plant workers in Georgia staged their own unauthorized strikes.


      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        it sounds like there will be no lack of worthy strikers and sicker-outers to give assistance to. Starting with money.

        Beyond that, is there a no-corona way to assemble and give sufficient amounts of food to these people as well, so they don’t have to come out to chancy food banks? That would help their solidarity money go farther.

  5. Carolinian

    I don’t think the public wants to hear criticism of Trump right now,” one adviser told Politico.”

    Well, that’s kinda true. Plus Trump is a moving target and when he encounters criticism about, say, “reopening by Easter” he backs off.

    1. Samuel Conner

      My gut reaction to that remark is that what is really happening is that JB and company would prefer DJT to be dumping on D governors right now, rather than on the presumptive D nominee.

      So it falls to others to criticize the R opponent of the presumptive D nominee.

      I don’t see why that policy would change once we reach the general election campaign.

      Perhaps the campaign will be a yawner.

      1. Carolinian

        IMO it’s a big mistake for anyone to try to politicize what’s going on right now. Of course I don’t ever watch TV news and have the luxury of ignoring Trump totally. I suspect it’s not his actions that so much annoy people as him.

      2. Matthew

        Democrats don’t know what makes Trump…popular is maybe the wrong word, but they don’t know why public opinion behaves the way it does in response to Trump. I think this is why so many people are ignoring Biden’s numerous and multiplying red flags: They are reminded in some superficial way of Trump and think that it makes Biden more suited to the moment. But the people in charge of Biden’s campaign are the same people who have never figured Trump out, and so you end up where we are now, with the opposition party laying low during a pandemic and hoping a sitting President will just self-destruct.

    2. Tom Bradford

      I don’t think the public wants to hear criticism of Trump right now,” one adviser told Politico.”

      Quite right. It’s unpatriotic and, you know, jolly bad form to criticize a general leading his troops from defeat to defeat. Bad for morale and all that.

  6. urblintz

    Oh my… Trump talked with Putin today and no one screamed treason. Oil prices obviously carry more weight than world peace…

    but were there translators on the call (And can someone tell me who would be translating what to whom in such a conversation since Putin speaks English better than Trump)?

    1. D. Fuller

      Pelosi being an ardent supporter of Russiagate, no less.

      About Nancy Pelisi and the corporate bailout bill, specifically the $170 billion tax gift to real estate that would benefit Trump? Well…

      Paul Francis Pelosi Sr. is an American businessman who owns and operates Financial Leasing Services, Inc., a San Francisco-based real estate and venture capital investment and consulting firm.

      How convenient intersectional interests just happen to align. Or perhaps it is just coincidence.

      1. John k

        Lots of such interests, explaining why dem donors don’t mind trump. At all.
        They have one job… not to keep pelosi speaker, or Schumer maj leader, but to keep progressives from power. Everything else, Russia Russia etc, is just for distraction.

        1. D. Fuller

          Just make a list of every Congress Member holding stock or have friends and family, in those businesses that are bailed out… Survival of the Fittest, monetarily speaking.

          Always follow the money…

          Since Congress Members vote for their spendiest donors… what was it, 95% of the time?

          Of course, personal finances are not the only reason Congress and The Administration sold out Main Street. And Trump is not the only President to sell out Main Street, especially since the bailouts began in very late 2008. Or rather, 2003 when interest rates hit 1.0 percent.

    2. Carolinian

      There’s been talk about setting up some new cartel that would include Russia and the United States but then the swamp really would go nuts. Still if it’s a batte between the blob and Texas oil money??….

      Gas price here now $1.54. When it hits .99 it we’ll be back to the 20th cent.

      1. urblintz

        it’s something I never imagined happening again, consumer prices at this level. I think oil beats blob every time… because blob is a petroleum based product!

        1. D. Fuller

          The have a plastic eating bacteria, and since many plastics are derived from petroleum products?

          Mutations of a bacteria to eat petroleum. There was actually a scifi story in a series edited by Jerry Pournelle – There Will Be War – back in the 1980’s that involved a man-made bacteria that ate petroleum products.

            1. Anarcissie

              There are plastic-eating bacteria and other microorganisms living on bits of microplastic in the oceans. They are exchanging genetic material and evolving. They are also, along with the microplastic, being ingested by fish and other ocean-dwelling animals, and by birds that feed on the fish. Also, along the coasts, when waves vaporize themselves on rocks, they are being thrown into the air and are blown inland when the winds are right. No one really knows what they’re going to do, but the evolution of aggressive land-based plastic-eating microorganisms seems highly possible.

    3. Late Introvert

      urblintz, thank you, that’s funny cause it’s true

      Putin does speak better English than Trump, and he runs his nation better also. That makes the Pentagon VERY ANGRY. Must use this to source more weapons and surveillance contracts! Urgh!

    1. The Rev Kev

      And if AirBnb came back, be sure to greet the new “visitors” and casually mention that the last people that stayed at that AirBnb all came down with severe Coronavirus and you heard that they ended up in an ICU and their lungs never recovered. Very sad that as they were so young.

      1. HotFlash

        Hmm. I know a few AirBnB locations near me, can possibly will find more. I can post posters nearby, warning that CV is *very likely* in the near n’hood. I have seen more ‘”For rent” signs in the last 2-3 weeks in ‘hood than I have seen in 5 years, maybe 10. And my (basically) homeless friend, and a First Nations person, told me with delight, “I have a place!” BTW, he told me some months ago, “They say the white man stole our land. That’s not true, the land has always belonged to itself. We just lived here and looked after it.”

  7. Glen

    I don’t know if this has been posted yet, but some hard truths about handling the pandemic from Dr. Osterholm:


    CV testing? Not going to happen – we are going to run out of the required reagents which are made in China.
    N95 masks – we are making them as fast as we can but it’s too slow, we don’t have the manufacturing base, it’s in China.

    Contrast this with “fortress China”:


    Everybody is wearing full protection.

    I’m essentially a manufacturing engineer, and I have watched (and complained) that our industrial base was being shipped overseas for well honestly almost forty years now.

    All water under the bridge, now we need FDR, Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, you know the list…

    1. MLTPB

      Following Spain, the Netherlands now says they have problems with their test kits and masks from China.

      Perhaps the lack of a reliable manufacturing base is a world problem.

    2. Cuibono

      Funny : not a word from Osterholm about Singapore, Korea, Taiwan, HK or even Germany…
      now why would that be

  8. DJG

    The quotable Lambert Strether [don’t preen]

    I think the normally astute Corey Robin has this reversed. Elites are not mimicking Trump. Rather, Trump is the pure expression of elite sociopathy, with the public relations and the pretense of moral superiority ripped away. Hence their hatred of him, I would guess.

    I keep dropping this into conversations with people. Trump is a symptom. My formulation is usually, Let’s hope that many, many people in the U.S. elites emerge from this crisis to discover they no longer have a career. Or influence. Let’s send them into well-deserved exile (hey, Chappaqua!).

    If this cleaning out of the nest doesn’t happen, well, the guillotine has suddenly turned into a meme lately.

  9. Roady

    “‘I feel like we’re all just being sent to slaughter,’ said Thomas Riley, a nurse at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx, who has contracted the virus, along with his husband.”

    For those who aren’t expendable, get yer private bunker apartment for the low, low price of just $2.2M. The plebes and cheapskates can go for the $38K semi-private suite.

    The secret bunker where billionaires hide away in a crisis

  10. flora

    file under Healthcare:

    Private Equity Buyouts in Healthcare: Who Wins, Who Loses?

    By Eileen Appelbaum and Rosemary Batt

    March 25, 2020

    As we face a coronavirus-induced health and economic crisis of uncertain duration, policy makers should be particularly concerned about private equity’s heightened use of debt to buy out healthcare providers and take them private, with no regulatory oversight.


    1. Oregoncharles

      Why is that even possible? Shouldn’t healthcare providers be non-profit? I can live with clinics owned by the doctors in them – preferably all the staff. But they should not be allowed to sell.

      1. flora

        They should be non-profit, I agree, or at least not PE owned. PE privatizing health care isn’t lowering the cost of medical care. It’s also exerting a damaging influence, imo. Take the Steward Health Care network owned by PE group Cerberus; Stewart Health Care has a network of hospitals, including Easton Hospital in Pennsylvania.

        Steward Health Care, the hospital’s for-profit owner, had told Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration in a letter dated Friday it “will proceed immediately on planning to close the facility” unless the state took over operations there effective at midnight.

        The ultimatum came amid a push this week by Steward to obtain millions of dollars in emergency funding to keep Easton Hospital open….

        According to Steward, Wolf’s administration had agreed Wednesday to provide $8 million to keep Easton Hospital open for four weeks, with a goal of working month-to-month to secure a total of $24 million through June.


        Then there was this from last year.

        Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia is slated to close in September, less than two years after private equity firm Paladin Healthcare bought it.

        Critics accuse the buyout firm of preferring to close the hospital, rather than keep it running, because the city real estate is valuable to developers.

        Private equity investment in hospitals and clinics has surged in the last decade, reaching $10.4 billion last year.


        This isn’t a rare situation, it’s common now. How much are rising hospital and medical care costs being driven by PE owners jacking up prices just because they can, just because they want bigger profits? It’s a question worth investigating, imo.

  11. TroyIA

    If anyone is interested The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation out of the University of Washington posts a daily update for Covid-19 projections in the U.S. I believe this is the model that the federal government is basing its projections off of.

    There is a drop down menu for each state listing hospital beds, ICU beds and ventilators as well as expected peak.

    Covid-19 Projections

    1. garden breads

      If this is the basis of government planning we are in unbelievable trouble. Until my recent retirement I specialized in disease and health resources demand forecasting, health outcomes, and costs of care.

      Look at their estimates for New York. They forecast peak patient load on April 9th with a need for
      71,574 total hospital beds including 11,070 ICU beds and 8,855 invasive ventilators
      but with only 718 ICU beds available!

      Yet they expect deaths to peak the following day at only 798 patients!

      If over 8,000 patients have respiratory distress that day and need ventilator assistance but do not receive it, I expect a significant proportion would expire shortly.

      That is what happened in Italy and Spain which have total mortality rates of 11.39% and 8.77% respectively so far. They did not have beds and ventilators for the more severe patients. Note these rates are across all confirmed COVID diagnoses, even asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic ones. The rates for persons who need ventilation and who do not receive it are many times higher. Also these percentages will increase as some of the current active cases will die subsequently.

      I think their approach to resources demanded by diagnosed cases (beds, ICU beds, ventilators) is reasonable as is their assessment of impacts of various social distancing measures. But the impact of mortality when demand exceeds resources does not seem realistic and I suspect the peak may extend longer.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > the impact of mortality when demand exceeds resources does not seem realistic and I suspect the peak may extend longer.

        But our system is very efficient! The only question is, efficient at what…

    2. John k

      But we’re not Italy, twenty states still have no distancing. You can still drive or fly from states or regions with to those without. Or take the bus. Or train. And nobody I know wears a mask. And we’re not taking it nearly as seriously as Italy or Spain. So I will be pleasantly surprised if these peaks really arrive mid April, I’ll take the over.

      1. garden breads

        Exactly. That’s one reason I think it may extend longer. They base the effects of social distancing measures based on what was observed in New Zealand and countries where citizens exhibit more social consciousness in their own behavior. Given that the transmission rate drops significantly below one. The other reason is that they probably overestimate the number of un-diagnosed carriers in the community so believe it will self limit in a couple weeks (because underestimate number with infection who progress enough to seek testing and who are hospitalized). For this the South Korean statistics are probably more accurate as their should be negligible missed cases. Korea has a first rate medical system, a cooperative population and has had sufficient resources for their number of patients yielding a mortality rate so far of1.64% (as of 03/3) and 18.2% for those 80+. These percentages have been trending up as current patients die and may end up around 2% and 20+%.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > So I will be pleasantly surprised if these peaks really arrive mid April, I’ll take the over.

        I don’t know if we have a good proxy for social distancing. I would imagine aerial photography over a week or so could do it for pedestrians, but I don’t know if anybody is doing that.

        Meanwhile, the idiots on Florida beaches are by no means the only idiots.

    3. MLTPB

      Is that the one with 100,000 to 200,000 victims?

      If that is the case, why do they not ask Cuomo to reconsider quarantine?

      In a different system, the governor could be ordered to obey. That’s not ours though.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        In a certain particular different system, the local equivalent of “governor-on-down” persecuted and suppressed some early-detector doctors to begin with and helped spread the new corona virus all over a certain country and then to the world. So certain particular systems have downsides of their own.

  12. Gavin

    ” corona-virus-map.com ” [the one asserting numbers from Hopkins] contains the trojan AZORult – nobody should click on that link. Only 76% of virus tools will presently detect it.. Avoid that site.

  13. John

    Commentary on the Corey Robin Tweet, “Elites are not mimicking Trump. Rather, Trump is the pure expression of elite sociopathy, with the public relations and the pretense of moral superiority ripped away.”

    Read this in William Gibson’s Count Zero, “And, for an instant, she stared directly into those soft blue eyes and knew with an instinctive mammalian certainty, that the exceedingly rich were no longer even remotely human.”

    Fitzgerald had it equally correct with his conclusion about the vast carelessness of Tom and Daisy.

    1. eg

      I am reliably informed that an instinctive horror of cold-blooded creatures is hard-wired into even the tiniest mammalian brains.

      Govern yourself accordingly …

  14. montanamaven

    Can people here explain to me what Dimitry Orlov means by this (in his latest essay on Patreon). Mostly the first paragraph:

    The US had entered the next phase of financial collapse back in mid-August of 2019, at the outset of REPO madness, at which point US sovereign debt lost its value as collateral for overnight loans. Half a year later, the arrival of the coronavirus made the reality of financial collapse impossible to ignore any longer.

    That was the moment when we suddenly discovered that the European Union, NATO and G7 don’t really exist. The clay machine gun swiftly took them all out. The EU did nothing while member states squabbled over resources and closed their borders. NATO took it lying down while Russian military jets landed at a NATO airbase in Italy and Russian medical officers fanned out across Italy and started issuing orders to the Italians.

    The “clay machine gun” is a reference to the Buddha Anagama who pointed his left pinkie at something and its true nature is revealed and pretty much everything he points to disappears.

    1. urblintz

      i assume the clay machine gun is corona, leveling the notion of european unity… every man for himself!!!

      Yves wrote about the repo problems which at first seemed not so alarming but when they kept going on and getting bigger it was unclear exactly what was happening but very clear that something was happening… and being an economic idiot I probably should not have even attempted an answer… but that’s what I get out of it. I also kept hearing about the “end of the 40 year bull market in bonds” but understanding even less about bonds I can not explain. still, the fed has decided to use leveraged bailout money to buy corporate bonds (i think for the first time ever?) and I saw a news crawl that said Powell had already “leveraged” 4 trillion of it… seems to me like a lot of rich people got saved.

      and please, anyone, if i have no idea what I’m talking about say so and correct me. i’d welcome that! unless it’s so stupid as to be ignored completely, something I’m familiar with when talking finance.

      1. montanamaven

        Thanks, and yes, I wondered about “the repo problem”. Maybe somebody can link to the Yves explanation. I get the clay machine gun analogy. I want to know why last August was when everything went plum to hell in laymen’s terms as I also am an economic idiot. Maybe I’ll try to ask Dimitry.

        1. Stephen

          Zoltan Pozar, an analyst at Credit Suisse, has done yeoman’s work on the repo crisis. I also am not fluent in the language of high finance, and so find his work most digestible in podcast form. There are a few interviews on Odd Lots that give a good overview of what happened.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Yves wrote about the repo problems which at first seemed not so alarming but when they kept going on and getting bigger it was unclear exactly what was happening but very clear that something was happening

        Here is what Yves posted on repo: Here, here. From the former:

        Even though this is a finance and economics blog, I haven’t written about the disruption in the repo markets. That is in part because the upset is not in any way, shape, or form like the 2008 period when banks were unwilling to repo even Treasuries to each other overnight because they were fearful another major dealer (say Morgan Stanley, which was on the verge of going tits up) would go the way of Lehman. I thought posting on it would feed the false narrative (which sadly is still kicking around) that the repo crunch is a sign of systemic stress, which it isn’t.

        Just because it’s problematic doesn’t mean it’s systemic. Further than that I cannot go.

    2. MLTPB

      Thanks. Never heard of clay machine gun before.

      Looking around, I see it’s from a modern novel, I think.

  15. zagonostra


    …all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed…But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism [neoliberalism], it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies[U.S. Citizens]; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.

    To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

    He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.


    Insulin cost 10 times in the U.S. as it does in Canada.
    Federal Minimum wage is $7.24
    Military budget is $738 billion

    1. richard

      I like “let Facts be submitted to a candid world”
      whatever else we revise, let’s keep that part in

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        That’s not a bad idea. That would be a very good post. Unfortunately, it’s not possible simply to “declare independence” without seizing territory and I am unclear on how that is to be done.

  16. Elim Garak

    The Tiger King documentary is very much worth the watch, it’s a 7-parter and the perfect distraction for those going a little stir crazy sheltering at home.

    There’s a lot of great documentary material on Netflix right now. Would highly recommend Who Killed Malcolm X? as well as Unabomber: In His Own Words for those that have the free time and interest.

    1. Painted Shut

      Yes, great documentary. Also recommend Don’t F With Cats on Netflix. The web sleuths on there remind me of some of the personalities found amongst the NC commentariat…

    2. montanamaven

      For dark comedy which is what I love, watch “Patriot” by Amazon about a CIA agent who has to deal with bunglings on every assignment he has as he tries to “meddle” in Iran’s elections. His cover is some “pipe” company in Milwaukee. I laughed a lot in the first 3 episodes. Enough stabbings and other murderous things to keep everybody happy. For Sci Fi fans, “Devs” is about Silicon Valley evil doing by the creator of “Ex Machina”. And “Avenue 5” from HBO is very right for our time. It’s about a huge cruiseship in the future which gets knocked off course and a month cruise turns into a bit longer. By the creator of “Veep, Armando Iannucci”, and the great great movie “Death of Stalin” which is also good for right now.

    3. lyman alpha blob

      The Tiger King is spectacular. Everything that everyone does in that show is just wrong, wrong, wrong and yet I still find myself glad that people like that are around. If I’d been dealt the hands (or literal lack of) in life that some of the people in the show, I doubt I would have been able to persevere to the extent they did. Despite glaring and obvious character flaws and bad decisions, you still do have to have your act together to a pretty large extent to keep 200+ massive carnivores fed every day.

      It’s like Sophocles or Shakespeare for post-Jackpot society.

      Side note – while we’re all stuck in the stay at home doldrums, I’ve also been rewatching DS9 and your namesake is my favorite character, Mr. Garak.

  17. smoker

    Priceless: 03/30/20 Where did tech giants get MILLIONS of N95 masks? Facebook and Apple say personal protection equipment they are donating to hospitals was stockpiled during California wildfires

    •Apple, Tesla, Facebook and Google are sending masks to US hospitals
    •The firms are donating millions and many question where the reserve came from
    •The stockpile is a result of FEMA guidelines in California
    •It recommends employers have a certain amount of masks per employee
    •They are to be used in case of an emergency, such as a wildfire in the area
    •Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

    I don’t buy the FEMA requirement excuse (and further, why so very late with the offering?). The Major Tech Campuses in Silicon Valley, in highly cemented areas; and Fremont California’s Tesla Plant – which can be seen from Highway 880, in a heavily cemented area, are not in expected Wildfire Fire Zones, at all.

    On a related note, still waiting for the piece about where all of the Silicon Valley, and Seattle area, Tech Oligarchs are hiding out currently, while they’re being sickeningly portrayed as coronavirus heroes after being largely responsible for having created the conditions for the virus to spread – from the wealthy down to those who cannot escape – and thrive in.

    1. Phil

      The Major Tech Campuses in Silicon Valley, in highly cemented areas; and Fremont California’s Tesla Plant – which can be seen from Highway 880, in a heavily cemented area, are not in expected Wildfire Fire Zones, at all.

      The Bay Area, including Silicon Valley, was inundated in smoke for weeks during the fires of the past couple of seasons. Many (perhaps most) people here wore N95 masks every day as a matter of course. Given that the big tech companies provide free lunches, gym time, and all sorts of other goodies to their employees, it doesn’t surprise me at all that they stockpiled masks.

      1. smoker

        Many (perhaps most) people here wore N95 masks every day as a matter of course.

        I live in Silicon Valley/ Santa Clara County, where those firms (sans Tesla) are located, have for years, that’s not what I witnessed. Yes there was visible smoke during some of the fires – which were miles away – but rarely saw anyone using masks outside of elder people, not anything even close to a sizable minority. I still call bull on why those firms had millions of masks, especially when Paradise victims likely didn’t.

      2. kareninca

        What???? I live in the Palo Alto area and essentially no-one wore masks here during the wildfires. I knew a few people who bought masks, and then stuffed them in their closet. Were you actually here at that time???

    2. MrQuotidian

      I have no love for big tech, but as a former Bay Area resident I have to disagree about your wildfire assertion… During the Napa fires a couple years ago, the winds brought all the smoke directly south where it became hazardous to go outside. Schools were shut down, and for good reason. That’s when my wife and I picked up our n95 masks.

      And frankly, these “highly cemented areas” are actually surrounded by a ton of the eponymous “golden” hillsides, oak groves, and open-spaces, which are super dry and span the peninsula and interior Bay. All of that can and does burn! Remember the Oakland firestorm of ’91?

      Given all that, it makes sense that these giant companies would have a ton of stock-piled face masks.

  18. periol

    re: the Arctic

    This is a very interesting time. Many climate predictions have shown that aerosol pollution provides a barrier for some of the sun’s energy, giving us something like .5-1C degree of cooling, to counteract the natural warming tendencies in place from our production of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. This is called global dimming.

    Paul Beckwith talks a little bit about global dimming and coronavirus here: https://paulbeckwith.net/2020/03/22/impact-of-coronavirus-on-global-dimming/

    It has been predicted that if the aerosol cover declines, the first place we would see the impacts of the heat would be the poles. There was a sudden surge of melt the second half of March in the Arctic, and if this continues we could see impacts to weather patterns in the Northern Hemisphere soon.

    It is also interesting because we don’t really know. We think “global dimming” is a thing, but we are about to find out whether or not it is. If it isn’t, there are going to be credibility issues for current climate models.

    Personally, I think the ice is primed for record-breaking melt this year (there is almost no multi-year ice left), the effects of global dimming will be seen to be real, and the climate fallout will not be pretty.

  19. Pelham

    Re the pandemic and lockdowns: Maybe it’s time for Fredric Jameson’s Universal Army as a kind of job guarantee.

    Non-essential workers are safe at home while essential workers (mostly blue- and pink-collar) continue to risk their lives out in the world. The UA could remedy this situation. A few weeks of required basic training in some simpler forms of essential work could inject a sizable contingent of home-ensconced paper pushers into the blue-and-pink workforce to relieve those souls of the heavy burden they currently bear.

    The situation calls to mind David Graeber’s recent book on BS jobs. He cites a couple of surveys (in the UK and the Netherlands) in which about 40% of employees said their work was meaningless and a further 10% weren’t quite sure. There should be no uncertainty. If one, for instance, is producing or delivering food or medical supplies in a pandemic, the meaning is clear. Perhaps the need for something like a UA draft will become clearer as the lockdown weeks roll by.

        1. Carey

          Most are in North County (Paso Robles/Atascadero). Then Arroyo Grande, which is a bit of a head-scratcher to me. Hope the hospitalizations
          keep dropping; there were a max so far of nine, three days ago.

    1. Tom Doak

      Biden has not changed his mind that the lobbyists paying him represent the right side of the issue.

      1. Lee

        I wonder for how much longer Biden will be playing the “Look at Italy” card. Early days yet. The U.S. is about to pass China in Covid-19 deaths, assuming China is telling the truth, with just a fraction of the total cases and very many more yet to come.

        BBC just showed a dispersal map generated through tracking mobile devices of people returning home from spring vacation in Florida. Pretty much everybody east of the Mississippi is doomed. I exaggerate slightly.

        1. witters

          “I wonder for how much longer Biden will be playing the “Look at Italy” card. Early days yet. The U.S. is about to pass China in Covid-19 deaths, assuming China is telling the truth” – and, of course, the US, no?

        2. Bsoder

          NIH was a similar map of tracking the geo location of a given cell phone’s pings to towers (legal by the way). Data aggregated by county. Way too many people traveling around.

    2. John

      Seems like this would be the time for all of Trump’s followers to demand
      the “great, wonderful healthcare for everyone that would be cheaper and better than Obamacare” that Trump promised them when he was campaigning.


  20. Stephen V.

    Maybe I missed it but the mention of the *Biden juggernaut * brought this to mind: Voter suppression. A democrap fine art:
    Mar 25
    2020 Missouri Democratic Party Presidential Primary. As in 11 of 17 state primaries, discrepancies between exit poll projections and the results of the unobservable computer vote counts is large and beyond the margin of error of the exit poll. https://bit.ly/MO2020primary

    1. John

      Saw him on Jimmie Dore.

      Sounded like he was helping the elites out by attacking the only two progressives in Congress.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        I think Stoller is extremely disappointed that Sanders hasn’t come out harder against the establishment at this important moment and listening to him speak with Dore, it sounded like he really took Sanders lack of fight personally. Hopefully he’ll cool down because tearing Sanders apart isn’t really helpful to bring about the changes I think Stoller would like to see.

        1. Carey

          Agree. Stoller’s vehemence and name-calling in that J. Dore episode
          were surprising, and to me off-putting.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > I think Stoller is extremely disappointed that Sanders hasn’t come out harder against the establishment at this important moment

          I think Stoller’s anger comes from a real place, and we should respect it. In a way, I am proposing a way forward for Sanders here (read to the end).

          Adding, I think that because the Democrat Establishment base is composed of authoritarian followers (hence the 30% pop) that they expect everybody to think like they do. But if Sanders, say, backtracked on #MedicareForAll, we would see very quickly that they are wrong; the movement is not the man.

          If Sanders the candidate doesn’t step up to the historical moment, somebody else well. And we had better pray whoever that is is not on the Right, and armed.

    2. JohnnyGL

      You’re not going to like 100% of what someone writes. Stoller has kind of built his brand as someone who speaks hard truths. Sometimes, he gets it wrong. That’s okay. What you posted wasn’t his best stuff.

      He’s right about Democratic Primary voters, though.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > He’s right about Democratic Primary voters, though.

        I agree. It’s the most parsimonious explanation for Biden’s mysterious strength in the polling, his 30% pop in the polls immediately after Obama’s Night of the Long Knives, and for cleaning up in states where he didn’t even campaign. Needless to say, Biden voters are not all Democrat voters, as Chait would have it, but it’s still clear that an enormous number of voters are simply assets for the Democrat Establishment, and that they want an Obama Restoration, and most definitely do not want their party to become the party of FDR.

        Stoller is correct that a reckoning with Obama never took place, and should have. And here we are in another crisis, and the leaders of that debacle are all proclaiming themselves as the problem-solvers for this one. Learned nothing, forgotten nothing.

        1. Eric

          One of Sanders mistakes in my mind was that he didn’t call himself a Democrat in the tradition of FDR. Instead he calls himself a Democratic Socialist.
          which I suspect turns off a lot of older voters.

          I’m puzzled why you say most voters “definitely do not want their party to become the party of FDR”?

      2. Noone from Nowheresville

        I think he’s right about voters “liking” their representatives too.

        Stoller was angry with Sanders prior to CARES. He was also angry with Warren although he seemed to have more respect for what she did after 2008 bailouts. He said that she worked while Sanders didn’t but took credit. Stoller was working on the Hill at the time as a newbie so I suspect he saw a lot more but doesn’t say much. On the other hand, chaotic times so maybe Stoller didn’t see all, although he seems to think that nothing much has changed except that they are all arrogant.

        I happen to agree with him on the standing up and fighting as soon as the alarm was sounded. There was no coalition even trying to say NO during the 5 or so days before the vote: a truly transformational piece of legislation especially when combined with the fallout of this pandemic. Life as we knew is gone for the foreseeable future what replaces it will be unknown.

        Not impossible to undo as Stoller says at the very end of the Dore interview. But I think it will be much harder by virtue of the government “paying for” these entities to do what they do.

        I guess I’ll give points to Sanders for picking the thing to protest which garnered him a “transformational” title by The Nation. But what I’m looking for during this crisis is HIS and his staff’s boilerplate legislation. He lived through 2008. He wants to change the system and he’s a legislator by trade. I assume that he and his staff have been drafting some boilerplate legislation (some type of roadmap) on where and how he wants to go since 2017. Now would be the time to pull it out and adapt it for the times because I suspect there will be more and more TINA legislative efforts like CARES.

        I think he needs to be a legislator first to give his “transformational” (here’s hoping) organization a fighting shot.

        1. Noone from Nowheresville

          PS. There are many ways to pass legislation from “sneaking” amendments into bills to push out boilerplates to allies at the city, county and/or state just like the corporate side does. If the hole for “ordinary” people becomes too deep, there won’t be a lot of choices left.

          Sanders and his senate staff don’t need to write new legislation by themselves. But with their organization, I would hope, they could meld, or even forward on, the best into something which could be pushed out to in a coordinated fashion. e.g., Cities pass idea A. What, if anything, will they need from either the state or the federal government to help fund this? Definitely the lawyer funding idea from above. Need offense not just defense.

          This is in addition to the direct work they are doing on the ground. I don’t think it’s an either or choice.

          ETA: Coordinated doesn’t necessarily mean same legislation at the same time in multiple locations. It can. But it can also mean this piece of legislation goes to this city because they are already moving that direction. While this county wants to do this. Anything to build and compliment what’s already happening and then push it out to others.

  21. dbk

    Pretty significant announcement today out of Britain’s NHS – UCL Hospital: they have reverse-engineered an older model of a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) device and in collaboration with Mercedes anticipate that once approval is granted, they can produce up to 1,000 a day.

    CPAP devices represent an intermediary stage of treatment between simple oxygen provision and a ventilator; they make it possible for approximately 50% of patients who would otherwise have required a ventilator to manage on a much less invasive device.


    1. Carolinus

      This was my initial line of thinking when I was hearing about a shortage of ventilators- BiPAPs (and similarly, CPAPs) are very useful tools in respiratory failure. I’m a nurse in an ICU at a VA hospital in western North Carolina. We wouldn’t normally send a patient out of the ICU if they were dependent on a BiPAP for respiratory support, but I thought of it as an easy way to expand our capacity to treat a tidal wave of patients. Every ventilator used in the ICUs, and trained staff mobilized to train and oversee clinicians in lower acuity settings with staff that are experienced with inpatient care but not necessarily with those on BiPAPs. I was dismayed to hear about the following concerns:


      I don’t see this concern addressed specifically in your link. It would be great to learn that whatever reverse engineering has been done here addresses the problem.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Here in Oz they went around and had the veterinarians register what ventilators they had in case things got really bad. Tough on Rover and Mittens but there it is. It is not ideal but is better than no ventilators at all-


        With all the social distancing and others measures, the curve seems to be flattening a bit around here so am starting to get my hopes up. If we get on top of it, we may be in a position to help other countries with their own outbreaks

    2. Bsoder

      Only up to a point. Out of my lab, and now, as a volunteer trauma doc, I have to say being on oxygen or any kind of device to help people breathe does not either slow the disease or stop it. There is no cure. I’ve not seen it. If C-19 continues to destroy lung tissue, at a well known point, not enough oxygen reaches the other organs of the body. At that point it’s over. I’m angry and I’m sad. But there it is.

  22. Wukchumni

    Sequoia workers evicted from national park by concessionaire amid coronavirus pandemic

    Employees in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks learned Thursday that they have to be out of park housing by the end of the month as coronavirus continues to spread.

    “Out of an abundance of caution for everyone’s safety,” the Delaware North letter to Sequoia employees continues, “supply lines being very limited, and the fact that there are no medical facilities nearby, we need everyone to find alternative housing options and vacate by March 30, 2020.”

    He said employees were asked to leave “due to location and proximity to medical care.” With the closing of the parks, White said many full-time Delaware North employees there were put “on temporary leave with one week of pay and eight weeks of benefits, and we are not scheduling part-time employees to work.”

    A whole week’s pay for full-time employees, and RAUS!

    1. Carey

      >A whole week’s pay for full-time employees, and RAUS!

      It really is remarkable what the ruling class have been able to normalize and get away with in this country (thinking also of Biden’s recentest comments on M4A).

      So far..

      1. John

        The one thing you can count on in any crisis. The rich get richer and the rest of us get the shaft. Cruelty and inhumanity have been normalized.

        1. Bsoder

          A small story. Around 423 BCE, the Spartans (those guys from the movie “300”), asked their slaves who would stand up and help them – Sparta in their war of annihilation agaisnt Athens. 2000 did. Sparta immediately murdered all of them. And they would do this again and again. Why? Because Sparta thought, now that we know these guys will fight, what’s to prevent them from fighting and killing us. Best not to take the chance. That was over 2400 years ago. The rich and powerful have always hated & despised the poor. It was been with us back to the beginning.

  23. Jodorowsky's zoom

    With a pre-crisis growth rate of 0.5%, Russia’s federal budget relies, by law, on a fund comprised of all petro-revenue in excess of a $40 barrel. There is also a thirst for significant outside fixed-capital investment to ease the tension between the seven guys who already own the Russian petro-state and are uninterested in merging with themselves. At the risk of activating a would-be Tsesarevich in the tea room, I imagine a now-or-never deal for lifting Western sanctions was presented to Trump, whose mental gaskets are already critical. Trump is the only person who needs to believe in the prowess of Chekist political warfare.

  24. Carey

    I don’t know if this is right, wrong, or otherwise, but seems worth a hearing, to me:

    “..We must dare to say it: it is not the virus that kills, it is the chronic pathologies that make a CoV-2 SARS infection potentially fatal to certain patients already heavily affected by these societal diseases, whereas it is benign for healthy people.

    There is another problem: the rates, especially those for complications and mortality, exhibited day in, day out, are meaningless. As long as there is no systematic testing of the population, we have no reliable data to which to refer the figures we obtain (the number of reported cases and of deaths).

    This is a classic in epidemiology: if you only screen for deaths, you arrive at a death rate of 100%! If you only test the critical cases, the rate will be lower, but still much higher than the actual one. If you do a great deal of screening, you will find many cases, whereas if you do little testing, the number of cases will be low. The present cacophony just doesn’t give you any idea of how the virus is really progressing and spreading.

    The most credible estimates suggest that the number of people who test positive for Covid is far lower than the number of people who are actually infected, about half of whom will not even realize they have contracted the virus. For a fearsome killer, it can be rather debonair at times…

    At this point, then, we have no idea of the actual extent of the propagation of the virus. The good news is that the real figures (for percentages of complications and mortality) are necessarily much lower than the usual present claims. Actual mortality, as I announced in a previous paper, must be at 0.3% at most, and probably even lower. That is less than a tenth of the first figures announced by the WHO..”


    1. Samuel Conner

      It’s an intriguing hypothesis, though IMO not very comforting for residents of a country whose leaders seem to be quite at ease with the idea that a significant fraction of the population is chronically precarious in multiple ways, including inability to avoid the kinds of co-mordibities that make infection with the new virus so deadly.

      1. Carey

        Being part of a more at-risk group (older, history of lung disease), I’m following the twists and turns with real interest.. not being able to breathe is big no fun, speaking from experience. Still, something feels ‘off’ to me with the media frenzy.

        Maybe I’m wrong.

        1. Yves Smith

          They are having to use refrigerator trucks to haul bodies out of hospitals in NYC.

          Doctors are freaked out and having to re-use not-adequate-to-begin with PPE.

          I could go on….

          Pull out a calculator. If 40% of Americans get it, with a 1.5% mortality rate, that’s 2 million dead. And 40% is fewer than need to be infected to get R0 < 1 (that takes 60-70%, but the lower infection rate is a sort of fudge to allow for the fact that we might get a treatment in a few months that lowers the death rate). And you think this is hyped? Have you lost your mind?

            1. Yves Smith

              So? San Francisco has less than 1/10th the population of NYC.

              San Diego County has over 500 cases. Also few deaths but their cases are mainly among young people…which is interesting that they are having symptoms severe enough for them to get tested.

              California has also closed its beaches and parks statewide. No other state has taken such strict measures.

          1. Carolinian

            But the problem is that there is very little solid basis for that 1.5% figure and the overall mortality rate is likely much lower than that. All estimates of mortality are based so far on the people who have been tested and that’s just a fraction of the population in most places and certainly a small fraction here in the US. Many articles from medical commenters, not me, have speculated that it is really well under one percent although still greater than normal flu. Add in a real possibility of a slowdown during the hot months and the eventual appearance of a vaccine as well as better therapies to lessen the death rate and the worst case estimates may be way high.

            1. The Rev Kev

              In a normal flu season, maybe 1 out of 1,000 people have to be hospitalized due to normal flu. With Coronavirus, you are talking about 150-200 people out of a thousand having to be hospitalized. And then your health-care system collapses like it has in Spain, Italy & New York and the bodies start stacking up like cord wood. Check the chart at the following page on countries to get a sense of the numbers-


              If you click on the USA, it will break it down by States.

    2. Carolinian

      Right. There are also some who say that China vastly understated the number of infected–or at least didn’t know how many–and this flawed data was the basis of subsequent predictions about how it would go in the West.

    3. VietnamVet

      The Wuhan Coronavirus death rate is around 0.2% when there are sufficient hospital and ICU beds, ventilators and a public health system to contain the spread of the virus. What all these rationalizations ignore is that between 15% and 20% of the infected get so sick they must be hospitalized. In the West, with the destruction of the public health system, the national governments incompetent, plus just in time hospitalization there is simply no resilience. Just like Spain and Italy, the US healthcare system will be overwhelmed and the fatality rate will soar. The number of deaths from hundreds of thousands or a million in the USA will depend on the varying responses of the 50 state governments.

        1. Yves Smith

          The South Korean tests are believe to be overly sensitive and have yielded a lot of false positives. But you’d rather have that than false negatives.

  25. Wukchumni

    As the date when the lockdown ends keeps being extended, the prospect of early season conflagrations in California ought to be addressed, similar to what hit Aussie.

    How do we plan to fight fires under the new aegis?

    1. Carey

      According to the quite sharp high-schooler whose parents own the store around the corner here, the closure of schools has been extended from 14 April to the first
      of May. Not sure that’s data-driven, at all. Interesting times.

      1. periol

        Nothing they are doing is data-driven. Los Angeles County is only officially testing people with severe cases who need a positive test to receive immediate hospital care. Corporations have ramped up testing, but it’s still very difficult to actually get tested. They essentially said community spread was endemic, and gave up testing. What few results are coming through are from commercial labs.

        I also read a few days ago that LA County was waiting on a backlog of thousands of test results, many of which are taking longer than 7-9 days to get back.

        My wife works in a school. I think the odds that school here is open before summer are really, really slim.

    1. John k

      You still breathe the room air. Breath it all day in an infected ward and real chance of catching it.
      Unless you breath thru a n99 filter, usually an effort and not foolproof.
      Or unless you carry around a tank of compressed air, like divers do.

      1. flora

        The story mentioned an air filter in the modified masks’ special 3-d printed parts. that’s supposed to be good for several days before the filter needs to be changed. Don’t know how or if it works.

  26. Billy

    Good news on the stock recovery:

    We are finally getting the worker out of the equation, unleashing the profit potential of business, this is very exciting for holders of capital!

    This should speed up the deployment of automation by a factor of ten.

    1. eg

      Walter Reuther would like a word with the holders of capital — how will they get the automatons to buy their products?

  27. David J.

    Sanders needs to be Doug and Dinsdale. He needs to nail Biden’s head to the floor. Politics ain’t beanbag.

    Back in college I had a professor who would occasionally say it this way:

    “We need to be ruthless, with Ruth.” The idea that one somehow needs to meld the discipline associated with the concept of being ruthless, and yet simultaneously embrace the kind of deep loyalty associated with the biblical Ruth has always stayed with me. It’s a balancing act and forces one, at least in my case, to consider where my underlying loyalties reside and just how far would I go to make my loyalty to certain ideas a more sensuous reality. In other words, I doggone better well have some good principles if I’m going to pursue them with rigor and discipline.

  28. a different chris

    Well I heard it on the TV – the doctors are at it again!

    Remember, so many of them view themselves as infallible (I went to Haaarrvaard Medical School) and thus basically blame the patients rather than admit that they can only do so much. So the very first reason they propose for the COVID-19 male death rate* looking like 2x the female in the first studies is that men “smoke and drink more”.

    It’s all our fault when we don’t live to our late 80’s. But The Donald, who has the worst eating and exercising habits you can possibly imagine will almost certainly live into his 90s. Why do I say that? Because his father did. “Almost” certainly because I don’t know anything about his mums.

    Genes will out in the long run. You can add a year or two. You can make the last 10% of your life much more active and pleasant if you put aside the Cheetos. But you ain’t gonna live that much longer than whatever parent you take after.

    *which is based on a sample too small but that’s another one of their blind spots

    1. Bsoder

      The “infallible”, ones would be from the school of Public Health, not the same at all as the medical school. Or maybe the School of Theology were infallible is debated (endlessly). An MD is just a master degree with 2 years of apprenticeship. More like a masters in engineering of medicine. As the Dean of one such school said to me the purpose of the training is render thinking unnecessary. Doctors do what they’re told. You need a PhD and twenty years experience before you’re allowed to think and act independently. If your doc is acting infallible time to get a new doc.

    2. Samuel Conner

      > Genes will out in the long run.

      Epigenetics may be even more crucial than genetics (aside from edge cases such as specific heritable disorders) and this can be influenced by individual choices


      search Pub Med on

      epigenetics caloric restriction

      for more in this vein.

      There was an intriguing RadioLab podcast about transgenerational epigenetic effects of caloric restriction in pre-pubescent boys, but I have not seen the published research on which that item was based

      Here’s the RL episode. The segment on multi-generational effects of austerity vs plenty in pre-pubescent boys starts at 28:30

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