2:00PM Water Cooler 4/1/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


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

* * *


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 YouGov, as of 4/1/2020, 12:00 PM EDT. The sample size is miserably small:

The numbers:

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. What’s fascinating is that underneath it all, if you look at the trendline, Sanders continues a slow and steady rise. Not the same as delegates, of course!

* * *

Biden (D)(1):

Let us also remember that the impeachment only took place in January and not December because that was the calendar Pelosi wanted. That’s where her mind, and hence the Democrat hive mind, was too.

Biden (D)(2): “Joe Biden’s Campaign Claimed It Was Safe to Vote During the Pandemic. It Absolutely Wasn’t.” [Jacobin]. “[A]fter the CDC on March 15 advised the public to cancel all gatherings of more than fifty people, a senior adviser to Joe Biden, the current frontrunning Democratic presidential candidate, went on CNN and claimed the CDC had deemed in-person voting safe. And not a single major media outlet reported on it. Nor did they report on the actual dangerous conditions at multiple primary voting sites, and the exposure of trusting citizens to the coronavirus that the adviser’s reckless advice had encouraged. And it wasn’t just one irresponsible adviser that put people at risk: DNC chair Tom Perez made misleading statements, downplayed the dangers and exaggerated the preparedness of voting sites, and criticized and threatened states which wanted to postpone their primaries. The Biden campaign as well as the DNC put politics over people, exposing countless voters to a fatal virus. We now know that at least two poll workers at locations described as safe by Perez and the Biden campaign have contracted COVID-19.” • They did.

Biden (D)(3): “Biden allies wants [sic] Sanders out, sooner rather than later” [The Hill]. “Another fundraiser was more blunt: ‘He’s an asshole. It’s over. Bernie folks are clinging as they always do.'” • Understandable that a large donor would think that way.

Biden (D)(4): If canidates are responsible for their supporters…

What’s fascinating in this dogpile is how many of the tweets to Sanders Press Secretary Briahna Joy Grey were of the “You’ll never eat lunch in this town again!” variety. Very clarifying.

Cuomo (D)(1): “Cuomo could be the leader the Democratic Party and nation desperately need” [Katrina vanden Heuvel, WaPo]. Whichever editor wrote the headline: Authoritarian followership on full display. More: “The current Cuomo moment is therefore contradictory. The nation rightly celebrates a politician who seems to be able to tell it like it is, to be empathetic and smart and competent all at the same time. How unusual! But within days, this same politician will unveil a monumental budget deal in Albany. Will he channel his father and ask the rich to dig deeper and pay more in taxes to help the state in its time of need? Or will he continue to accept the inequality that characterizes American society today and stand by his cuts to vital services such as Medicaid — not unlike Trump’s cuts to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — that millions of New Yorkers depend on?” • I think I know the answer…

Sanders (D)(1): Sanders goes on The View:

Sanders (D)(2): Crisp messaging that should have been delivered before Florida:

Sanders (D)(3): “I worked for Bernie in 2016. Here’s why Black voters aren’t feeling the Bern in 2020” [The Grio]. From Sanders Black Outreach Director in 2016: “The brand of politics that Bernie wields comes from the populist theories of Governor Huey Long to the civil rights era struggles of Black organizations and leaders in the 1960s. At its core, the class-based “for all” policies Bernie has produced is what Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, James Baldwin, and the Black Panthers wanted for our own communities. Bernie adopted the policies that basically shaped our movements…. .In the end, Bernie lost the Black vote when he was in the best position to get it.” • This is well worth a read, and dovetails with what Bill Fletcher has to say here.

Trump (R)(1): “Who Are the Voters Behind Trump’s Higher Approval Rating?” [New York Times]. “While public perceptions are fluid in a crisis, a notable twist in polling at this point is that independents are driving Mr. Trump’s bump in approval, and some increased Democratic support is a factor as well. Gallup called that “highly unusual for Trump” in reporting its latest survey, which was released last week and showed Mr. Trump’s approval rating at 49 percent, equal to the best of his presidency. While Republicans’ views of Mr. Trump were flat — a sign they had already topped out — approval by independents rose by eight percentage points from early March, while Democratic approval was up by six percentage points. Polling experts said that it was normal for the country to rally around a president during a national crisis, and that Mr. Trump’s dominance of the airwaves alone was enough to sway a slice of voters who don’t normally tune in to politics.” • It is also true that the Democrats, collectively, have never send a consistent policy message other than “Orange Man Bad.” As usual.

* * *

“Gov. Tony Evers to use National Guard members to work the polls amid massive shortage of workers” [Milwaukee Journal]. Gov. Tony Evers has agreed to use members of the Wisconsin Army National Guard to work at the polls during the April 7 election amid a massive shortage of poll workers that is leaving some communities without anyone to give voters ballots on Election Day. More than 100 communities in Wisconsin don’t have any poll workers for the spring election in six days and a record number of voters are overwhelming clerks with absentee ballots — leading to warnings that thousands of votes may not be counted.” • In the Third World, having the military run an election is generally a very bad sign.

“Kansas Democrats Eliminate In-Person Voting in May 2 Party-Run Presidential Primary” [Frontloading HQ]. ” But Kansas Democrats arrived at the same conclusion other states with party-run contests recently have. Democrats in Alaska, Hawaii and Wyoming all chose to end their in-person voting on April 4 and completely lean on the mail-in option each had layered into their delegate selection plans from the start. That insurance policy — the presence of and planning for a vote-by-mail system — gave each state party something to fall back on given the threat the coronavirus now poses to in-person voting this spring. Typically, state parties are at a disadvantage in implementing these types of party-run elections. Those parties just do not have the (funding) resources that state governments do. But in this case, careful planning ahead of time — and in response to new DNC encouragements in Rule 2 to increase participation — laid the groundwork for this unique alternative option. Now, states with primaries but no vote-by-mail infrastructure — states like Delaware — have had to change the dates of their primaries to hopefully shift out of the window of time in which the coronavirus may reach its peak.”

Realignment and Legitimacy


Slip of the tongue? Or something more?

“Republican senator Kelly Loeffler admits to millions MORE in stock sales after coronavirus briefing including ditching shares in retailers and buying into company that makes protective equipment as Justice Department launches Senate probe” [Daily Mail]. •As usual with the Mail, the whole story is in the headline. One detail: “The wealthy Loeffler, who was appointed to her seat and is married to the president of the New York Stock Exchange, sold $18.7 million in International Stock Exchange.” • That’s nice. I wish I had a yarn chart of political class spousal relations.

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.

Employment: “March 2020 ADP Employment Declines 27,000” [Econintersect]. “Last month’s employment gain was cut. What ADP is saying is that their estimate of job growth is not accurate because of the coronavirus pandemic as the cutoff for this report was before the major impact of the coronavirus on the economy. ADP employment has not been a good predictor of BLS non-farm private job growth.”

Contruction: “February 2020 Construction Spending Declines” [Econintersect]. “Construction spending is trending upward – but this is the month before the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The inflation-adjusted data is no longer in contraction. Private construction had been fueling construction growth – but currently, public construction is fueling the growth. The reason for the headline decline is the significant upward revision of last month’s data.”

Manufacturing: “March 2020 ISM and Markit Manufacturing Surveys Are In Expansion But Marginally Declined” [Econintersect]. “The ISM Manufacturing survey declined and is in contraction. The Markit PMI manufacturing index also declined and is now in contraction…. Overall, surveys do not have a high correlation to the movement of industrial production (manufacturing) since the Great Recession.”

* * *

Commodities: “The Effects of COVID-19 Will Ripple through Food Systems” [Scientific American]. “Though the extent of the blow to U.S. food production is unclear—and will depend on how long the pandemic and countermeasures last—widespread food shortages are unlikely anytime soon, several researchers say. Agriculture is considered essential work under the shelter-in-place orders expanding across the country. But farmers must still adhere to social-distancing requirements and can be buffeted by regulations and other changes along the food supply chain, such as the shuttering of restaurants. Some work can easily continue with little interruption. For example, many U.S. farmers producing staple crops, including wheat and rice, do so with mechanized tools that already limit human-to-human contact and fall within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for limiting the spread of the coronavirus.”

Shipping: “Amazon.com is facing overwhelming demand from consumers turning to e-commerce amid broad lockdowns, even as the digital behemoth copes with absences at its logistics operations and an increasingly restive workforce” [Wall Street Journal]. “The company says it is ‘working around the clock to bring on additional capacity to deliver all customer orders.’ But employees say Amazon at times has operated warehouses with half the typical number of workers, as staffers call in sick and those remaining struggle with the heavy demand. Amazon has prioritized crucial shipments, but absences and quarantines at some sites have pushed delivery of some in-demand products to weeks rather than hours or days.”

Shipping: “FMC tracks COVID-19-induced supply chain bottlenecks” [American Shipper]. “On March 31, the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) authorized Commissioner Rebecca Dye to begin working with representatives from the container-shipping industry to identify “operational solutions to cargo delivery challenges” caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The FMC order, known as Fact Finding 29 International Ocean Transportation Supply Chain Engagement, highlighted the commission’s statutory mandate to ‘ensure efficient and economic transportation system for ocean commerce.’ The order also stated that ‘the commission has determined there is a compelling need to convene new Supply Chain Innovation Teams to address these challenges.'”

Tech: “Honda bucks industry trend by removing touchscreen controls” [Autocar]. “While most manufacturers are moving to touchscreen controls, identifying smartphone use as their inspiration — most recently seen in Audi’s latest A3 — Honda has decided to reintroduce heating and air conditioning controls via a dial rather than touchscreen, as in the previous-generation Jazz. Jazz project leader Takeki Tanaka explained: ‘The reason is quite simple – we wanted to minimise driver disruption for operation, in particular, for the heater and air conditioning.'”

Tech: “Zoom Meetings Aren’T End-To-End Encrypted, Despite Misleading Marketing” [The Intercept]. “ZOOM, THE video conferencing service whose use has spiked amid the Covid-19 pandemic, claims to implement end-to-end encryption, widely understood as the most private form of internet communication, protecting conversations from all outside parties. In fact, Zoom is using its own definition of the term, one that lets Zoom itself access unencrypted video and audio from meetings…. So when you have a Zoom meeting, the video and audio content will stay private from anyone spying on your Wi-Fi, but it won’t stay private from the company.” • Oh.

Tech: “Zoom Calls Aren’t as Private as You May Think. Here’s What You Should Know.” [Consumer Reports]. “Zoom collects personal information about its users and doesn’t provide a lot of detail about how it’s used for advertising, marketing, or other business purposes. And most of the people on Zoom calls probably don’t realize how much information a host can gather. Depending on what tier of service—from a free option to advanced levels for big companies—a host can make a recording of the conference, have it transcribed automatically, and share the information later with people who aren’t in the meeting…. If you feel that you need to have the camera turned on, Zoom lets you choose a photo as the background for your video. You can pick one from your hard drive or use one supplied by Zoom. That can be important because the books on the shelf, posters, or other items in your living space can reveal information that you might not want to share with some of your co-workers or clients. And those images of your bedroom may not disappear when the conference is over; they can be stored for months or even years, and shared with people you’ve never met.”

Tech: The Zoom install on Mac OS seems more than a little sketchy. Thread:

Apparently, everybody loves Zoom because “it just works.” But at what?

Manufacturing: “Hospitals in some cities are using 3-D printers as a stopgap measure to fabricate goods including nasal swabs and face masks” [Wall Street Journal]. “The moves are part of the push of patchwork solutions, often with technologies still under development, to respond to the crushing demand on medical systems as Covid-19 cases mount…. U.S. regulators recently issued updated guidance for 3-D printing specific medical devices and personal protective equipment.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 22 Extreme Fear (previous close: 25 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 17 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 1 at 11:44am. Back to Extreme Fear; no doubt Trump’s presser.

The Biosphere

“Carbon declines along tropical forest edges correspond to heterogeneous effects on canopy structure and function” [PNAS]. “Nearly 20% of tropical forests are within 100 m of a nonforest edge, a consequence of rapid deforestation for agriculture… We uncovered declines in aboveground carbon averaging 22% along edges that extended over 100 m into the forest. Aboveground carbon losses were correlated with significant reductions in canopy height and leaf mass per area and increased foliar phosphorus, three plant traits related to light capture and growth. Carbon declines amplified with edge age. Our results indicate that carbon losses along forest edges can arise from multiple, distinct effects on canopy structure and function that vary with edge age and environmental conditions, pointing to a need for consideration of differences in ecosystem sensitivity when developing land-use and conservation strategies.” A popularization.

“Plastic Wars: Industry Spent Millions Selling Recycling — To Sell More Plastic” [NPR]. “For decades, Americans have been sorting their trash believing that most plastic could be recycled. But the truth is, the vast majority of all plastic produced can’t be or won’t be recycled. In 40 years, less than 10% of plastic has ever been recycled. In a joint investigation, NPR and the PBS series Frontline found that oil and gas companies — the makers of plastic — have known that all along, even as they spent millions of dollars telling the American public the opposite…. [T]he industry promoted recycling as a way to beat back a growing tide of antipathy toward plastic in the 1980s and ’90s. The industry was facing initiatives to ban or curb the use of plastic. Recycling, the former officials told NPR and Frontline, became a way to preempt the bans and sell more plastic.” • Goddammit.

“How Did Deepwater Horizon’s Spill Affect The Coastal Soils And Wetlands In The Gulf Of Mexico?” [Soils Matter, Get the Scoop!]. “The slow, chronic natural leaks are something that Mother Nature can handle on its own. It’s man-made disaster spills causing acute levels of oil that cause real issues. Instead of 20 million gallons spread over 365 days, Louisiana wetlands received 200 million gallons in the course of almost three months during Deepwater Horizon. This completely overrode the natural way of handling hydrocarbon seepage…. During the two-month journey to the Gulf’s shores from the wellhead, the oil also was exposed to sunlight. This caused further chemical reactions to take place before it washed up on coastal shores. We’ll refer to this as “weathered oil.”… Research showed that the weathered oil was less toxic to the soil microorganisms than the fresh oil. One study did report that submerged oil had an impact on wetland plants’ roots. This could potentially increase their stress and damage the plants. Erosion happened in areas where the oil washing up on shore was too thick. The plants’ roots died in some locations, and roots are important to prevent erosion. Without plant roots, wetland soils were at the mercy of tidal movements and weather.”

“Social tipping dynamics for stabilizing Earth’s climate by 2050” [PNAS]. “Here, we discuss and evaluate the potential of social tipping interventions (STIs) that can activate contagious processes of rapidly spreading technologies, behaviors, social norms, and structural reorganization within their functional domains that we refer to as social tipping elements (STEs). STEs are subdomains of the planetary socioeconomic system where the required disruptive change may take place and lead to a sufficiently fast reduction in anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. The results are based on online expert elicitation, a subsequent expert workshop, and a literature review. The STIs that could trigger the tipping of STE subsystems include 1) removing fossil-fuel subsidies and incentivizing decentralized energy generation (STE1, energy production and storage systems), 2) building carbon-neutral cities (STE2, human settlements), 3) divesting from assets linked to fossil fuels (STE3, financial markets), 4) revealing the moral implications of fossil fuels (STE4, norms and value systems), 5) strengthening climate education and engagement (STE5, education system), and 6) disclosing information on greenhouse gas emissions (STE6, information feedbacks).” • “Online expert elicitation.” Interesting method.

Health Care

“Archived chat: the coronavirus pandemic” [STAT (nvl)]. • A good Q&A, where the reporters take questions from readers. nvl singles out one exchange:

I am especially interested in whether or not vaped air–which one can smell even if no one is in sight–could be contaminated with viruses. The answer:

“This has not been directly studied. But it’s clear from analyses of air samples and surfaces that people infected with the new coronavirus can expel it when they cough and, probably, talk, so there is a good chance that exhaling anything from the lungs would also have this effect. And fwiw, a new study finds that smokers are particularly likely to become infected with this coronavirus, because of how chronic exposure to smoke increases the expression of the receptor through which the virus enters airway cells. As for airborne lifetime, not zero but not long: one study (not of smoke/vapor exhalation, though) found very, very low levels after more than an hour. Viral suspension in vaping vapor would be worth studying.”

You can’t just put hospital beds everywhere, like bunk beds:

I knew if I searched on “oxygen tank shortage” I’d find something…

“As Coronavirus Surges, ‘Medicare for All’ Support Hits 9-Month High” [Morning Consult]. “In the midst of a pandemic that has spurred an economic crisis and put Americans’ health care costs in stark contrast with the rest of the industrialized world, support for ‘Medicare for All’ has risen to its highest point in about nine months, according to new Morning Consult/Politico data.”

Failed State

“U.S. unemployment offices sitting on mountain of pending claims” [Reuters]. “Some state officials say they’re struggling to process a flood of applications, and to adapt computer systems to accept new types of claims allowed under the CARES Act. That’s creating a backlog of claims that aren’t yet showing in the official figures…. U.S. unemployment benefits processing is built around a decades-old mainframe computer system, which each state has modified in different ways, making the changes described in the bill difficult to quickly adopt nationwide.” • Paging Clive! (Although we’re probably lucky no contractor has tried to replace the mainframe. “Node.js. Yeah, that’s the ticket!”

Class Warfare

Why did we let private companies manage our health?

“Essential and Exposed: Anxiety Spreads Among UPS, FedEx Drivers” [Bloomberg]. “In the new coronavirus economy that divides labor into essential and nonessential, truckers and parcel delivery drivers have become some of the most indispensable — and most exposed — workers as shut-in Americans rely more on online shopping.” • Lol, “the economy” has always been divided into essential and non-essential workers. The PMC is only realizing this because they’ve been personally affected by it.

News of the Wired

Another home-based project:

“Tales From the Loop Review: Amazon’s Otherwordly Sci-Fi Series Is Remarkably Grounded in Reality” [TV Guide]. “Cole and May live in Mercer, Ohio, in some hazy, indeterminate version of what appears to be the 1980s. Mercer’s home to the Mercer Center for Experimental Physics, colloquially known as The Loop. The Loop has a founder named Russ Willard (Jonathan Pryce), a history, and a center; it’s built around a mysterious black orb called The Eclipse, described as “the beating heart of the Loop.” But Tales from the Loop leaves the other details fuzzy. Based on the three episodes supplied to critics, what the Loop is and what it does isn’t really the point of the series, which takes place in an underpopulated, unsettlingly beautiful alternate universe in which science fiction concepts double as ways to explore emotional truths.” • As readers know, I’m a Stålenhag fan:

Except now Stålenhag, instead of being a quirky Swedish retrofuturist, has an Amazon series reviewed in TV Guide. “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded”?

“A History Of Sprawl In One Road Trip” [The American Conservative]. “We are really seeing two things here: a physical history of the layers/rings of development, and the current built form/stage of development of each particular place. Places back east like Annandale or Bailey’s Crossroads, or some parts of Arlington—now congested and undergoing some of the physical decay typical of early suburbs—were not built all at once. They all went through a process: something like countryside/farm > transition zone > exurb > suburb. Unless land use and housing affordability change dramatically, in all likelihood today’s transition zone, and communities still further west for 10 or 20 miles, will eventually go through this same process. At the same time, the overall density gradient or layers of development, driving west from D.C., will remain observable, because there will always be a particular land area undergoing transition.” • This is very good, and should have its own Stålenhag to chronicle it.

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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 (MF):

MF writes: “Spring has come to Los Angeles.” A bit of flare at top fight, but a lovely composition and I am sure very evocative for anyone who knows the hills and canyons of Los Angeles.

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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. Elim Garak

    Today’s entry into the annals of ‘I told you so’

    A friend of mine passed along a study from 2007 focusing on SARS-CoV and the potential risk of emerging and remerging infections. The money quote:

    “Coronaviruses are well known to undergo genetic recombination, which may lead to new genotypes and outbreaks. The presence of a large reservoir of SARS-CoV-like viruses in horseshoe bats, together with the culture of eating exotic mammals in southern China, is a time bomb. The possibility of the reemergence of SARS and other novel viruses from animals or laboratories and therefore the need for preparedness should not be ignored.”


    Can’t imagine what these researchers must be feeling now as all of this is unfolding.

    1. MLTPB

      Eating exotic mammals.

      1. That should have been stopped.
      2. Less neeed for preparedness, unless 1 is not done.
      3. Maybe a global commission on labarotories mentioned in the quote.

      1. bassmule

        I may have posted this before. Two observations about wet markets.

        1. Many years ago I met a guy in Hong Kong. We were talking about food. He said “Chinese cuisine is the cuisine of starvation. If it’s green or it moves, you eat it.”

        2. It is my understanding that a great many of the exotic animals are sold as sexual performance enhancers for men. Has anyone (besides the late Mr. Bourdain) ever thought to send the Chinese a few hundred tons of Viagra?

    2. Bsoder

      People aren’t eating bats. More like Pangolins. Here there are two problems. A Pangolin eats an ant, that in turn is a glucose-based eating ant. Which eats part of a plum. Which in turn was nicked by a bat. Depending how you like your Pangolin, most cooking will kill the CV19. But, the dressing of a Pangolin is a great way to be exposed to the CV19 virus if present. Both climate chaos, population overshoot, and complete discard for ecology have caused all this. And it will be repeated again and again.

      1. MLTPB

        Per Wikipedia Bat as Food, bats are eaten, and also hunted for medicine, in China.

        They are eaten in other places around the world, just just today, but also in the past, according to the same article.

      2. John k

        It’s all a direct consequence of the population explosion.
        Seems unlikely this event will affect enough to modify the picture, particularly as its mostly elderly and not breeders.
        Nature will just have to be more inventive if she wants real change.

          1. jsn

            Not happy? She’s having a blast!

            She’s just not anymore enamored with us than any of her other creations.

            Ursla LeGuin said God quit listening to us because nothing we said made any sense anymore. But she said it better than I can remember it.

      3. Amfortas the hippie

        the wild rabbits around here carry tularemia.
        i’ve never had tularemia(touches wood)
        the squirrels, which need to be thinned a bit, sometimes carry the derned plague.
        which i’ve also never had(touches wood a little more firmly)
        the chickens and geese and ducks that we grow and coddle and eat carry salmonella, and prolly an hundred other things that they pick up from scraps and from wild birds…

        it’s in the processing/butchering/meathandling.
        there’s a way to do it…and a bunch of ways not to do it.
        from what i read about “wet markets”…which i had never heard of before all this…they’re pretty lax, to say the least, in their meathandling practice.
        And here i was under the assumption that China was a communist regulatory hellhole…the butcher up the road from me would never act thataway.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Its a communist regulatory hellhole for certain things only. They regulated those early warning doctors into deep silence. They regulate the lives and culture of Uighurs in detention camps. etc.

          1. periol

            But let’s be honest, we’re doing our best to shup the medical workers up here too. And we are using prison labor to build mass graves, so…

            America’s in it just as deep, if not deeper.

      4. drumlin woodchuckles

        The bats in question are the big fruit bats ( flying foxes) of the tropics and semi-tropics, not the little insect-eating bats of the temperate zones.

    1. zagonostra

      I don’t get it, isn’t she married to the respected Russian scholar, Stephen F. Cohen and works as the main Editor of the Nation magazine?

      These people are smart, I’m just a layman what the eff am I missing here.

    2. jsn

      Actually, what you link to is the point vanden Heuvel is making. WaPo headline writers inverted the meaning in order to get non readers to think Cuomo may in fact be a good leader.

      That’s how soft authoritarian propaganda works.

  2. Noone from Nowheresville

    Stålenhag: It’s the Daleks. Exterminate Exterminate!

    As soon as they are complete, they will break free be unleashed on the world.

    Speaking of Daleks with all the new overwhelming powers they’ve received in the series reboot, it seems a shame that they still that eye stalk flaw. You’d think they’d redesign that already.

  3. a different chris

    The Meagan Day example is an example of the insufferablity of our betters. Here is Brianna Joy’s tweet:

    This is a good start, but is it ok to die from cancer or diabetes becuase you’re poor?

    And here is a good example of idiocy, either real or pretensed for real idiots:

    Only despicable person here is you. Harris isn’t running for president, but her plan didn’t have co-pays or deductibles & was available to everyone from day one, even those covered by ESI. She’s chosen to endorse someone who doesn’t have an internet troll as a press sec’y.

    Did Ms. Gray say that Harris didn’t support M4A? No. But

    1) (the idiocy): These people are authoritarians, which makes anything you say directed at a person they view as “above” you to be out of your station. Could it have been an invitation by Ms. Gray for Ms. Harris to say “yes, that’s one good reason why I changed my mind on M4A”? We dunno, because authoritarians of the follower flavor take everything as an attack on whatever Dear Leader they are in love with at the moment.


    2) (pretensed): they want all power to themselves, and anything Ms Gray says or does that might reflect well upon her needs to be twisted, jumped on and pummeled completely out of shape in order to prevent that happening. So you can’t even agree with these people if you aren’t one of them, might confuse the herd. The way they think, they might even believe Ms Gray is trying to work her way into their circle, with the inevitable bumping.

    You pick. I have no idea about the original whiners, the negative variant in the comments are comprised mostly of #1 I would say.

    1. ObjectiveFunction

      I stand by my prediction that Kamala, who had the Clinton nod, will be the Biden running mate. So any attacks on her prior to her ‘reintroduction’ to the worn out American public as savior are to be crushed by any means necessary.

      It’s also interesting how in the parallel logic of IdPol world, the fact that Kamala’s mom died of cancer (identity = bereaved survivor) immunizes her from any criticism of the consequences of her policy stands relating to that. Any discussion is now a microaggression. Maybe Hunter Biden will conveniently kick off as well, taking Ukraine off the table.

      Only thing is, Trump never got that memo. Ask #LowEnergyJeb Bush about his mama.

      1. Felix_47

        It looks like Biden Harris 2020, Biden Harris 2024, Harris Buttigieg 2028 and 2032, and then Buttigieg Klobuchar 2036 and 2040. Sometimes I think voting third party makes sense. It is like shuffling the cards and hoping for a better hand in 2024 instead of sitting through 20 more years.

  4. Mikel

    Reuters: China

    BEIJING, April 1 (Reuters) – A county in central China’s Henan province said on Wednesday it had virtually banned all outbound movement of people, following several cases of coronavirus infection in the area.

    No one can travel out of Jia county without proper authorisation, the county, which has a population of about 600,000, said in a post on its social media account. Additionally, residents are not allowed to leave their homes for work unless they have clearance to do so.

    Henan province reported one confirmed case in Luohe city on Saturday. Local authorities said the infected person had been in contact with two doctors based in Jia county who later tested positive for the virus even though they had showed no symptoms. (Reporting by Colin Qian and Ryan Woo; Editing by Catherine Evans)….

    1. MLTPB

      I recall early on, reading a story about some in Henan with an incubation period much longer than 14 days.

      In any case, that is happening there in Henan now suggests the global fight will be a long one, and there will be plenty more new lessons out of China for the world to learn.

      1. cnchal

        Yeah, but he called it a Republican mob when it’s really the Wall Street mob.

        What Kwak is describing is the Wall Street Mob is going to take over, for want of a better description, an economic wasteland, and get moar blood from the corpses.

        Aaaand, Amazon is the big winner in this winner take all economic system, as Amazon shoppers crack the whip on the corona carrying employees tied to their whipping post and order Oreos.

        Every Amazon warehouse is a festering sore, spewing the coronavirus far and wide, and the “authorities” keep tickling Bezos’ balls instead of giving him a swift kick there. NJ yesterday, Romulus today, another one tomorrow, let’s find Waldo.

        On every level it is demented logic. Shelter in place to bend the curve down while Amazon with a dick pic on every delivery box bends the curve up.

        To every clueless Amazon shopper, order some sanitary wipes with your Oreos and the first thing you clean is the package the wipes come in, the second is the box of Oreos and then carefully throw the rest of the packaging in the trash, change your clothes and wash your hands and don’t ever touch your face before these steps are taken, otherwise you will be on the breathing end of a ventilator. Why is this so difficult to understand?

        This is a public service announcement, because the authorities are afraid of Jeff and his billions, but are happy to scare the shit out of you. To save yourself and the rest of your neighbors, when it comes to Amazon, just say no.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Maybe the people who order from Amazon in times like these and pay Bezos to keep his workers simmering in a vat of corona . . . should be part of the Darwinian experiment and not warned about the corona they are buying along with their precious oreos. But then everyone who knows an Amazon shopper will have to shun them or kick them out of the house or etc.

      2. Massinissa

        ‘Government by mob/mob rule’

        Eh, not sure that actually reflects Trump’s government.

        But… It sounds like whatever is coming after the next Trump/Biden term if the plutocrats don’t handle the coming crises correctly…

        EDIT: Wait, is it mob as in masses of people or mob as in The Mob? Because rule by The Mob is pretty much Wall Street 101 like cnhcal says above.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          Mario Puzo has always belonged in the economics section of any library.
          That’s where I keep him…right next to Smith, Marx, Veblen and Polyani.

  5. fresno dan

    Meagan Day


    IMHO, the best comment on the thread:
    They sound an awful lot like Republicans screaming, “Sir! How dare you POLITICIZE a mass shooting?!” A pandemic is no time to reflect on our healthcare system!!

    Yup – there will be a lot of positive thinking, now is the time to pull together, moving forward, no back seat driving and every other phrase designed to avoid accountability and maintain our WONDERDFUL PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE that everybody loves…
    I have a friend (really, I do…) who humours me when I am ranting and raving about our abysmal method of paying for health care. Now that he is getting older and suddenly a number of aliments are coming to the fore, he is starting to acknowledge how precarious his financial situation could be and how f*cked up the current system is.
    Most people don’t really deal with the health care payment system to any significant degree – most people most of the time are not in a hospital. A lot of people are going to find out what an ambulance to the ER costs, and what diagnosis and treatment copays, deductabiles, and co-insurance costs. And what having a system predicated on having a job entails…

    1. LawnDart

      Not so long ago it was mostly just members of the military who were given the opportunity to die for our country…

      Essential Workers, thank you for your service!

      (Does everyone get a medal and free health care as a token of gratitude from our nation for their service?)

      1. Wukchumni

        Essential workers will receive a ‘Extinguished Service Medal’ made out of virtual unobtanium, upon their demise.

        1. MLTPB

          The Pentagon stopped all overseas travel. That was 6 days ago.

          On March 14, they stopped all domestic travel. I think CNN today has an article about domestic travel restrictions by a few states. Mostly self isolating for a number of days. Dont recall hard ‘no entry from other states’ orders.

          New York said it would a declaration of war to quarantine the state by DC, I think.

  6. Jason Boxman

    I grew up on Reduce-Reuse-Recycle; They taught it in school! I wish I could go back to last January, when my biggest concern was that plastic recycling has been a farce my entire life. Now that seems like an age ago.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Re-use can work too. A “disposable” plastic bag can be used a hundred times or so with care.
        That could let you reduce your use of “disposable” plastic bags by 99 out of a hundred.

        One just has to make “re-use” be part of the broader “reduce” Prime Directive.

  7. Otis B Driftwood

    Wisconsin is moving ahead with voting on April 7th. I heard from the Sanders campaign today, asking for volunteers to phone bank to let voters know they can still arrange to vote by mail. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is tomorrow, April 2nd at 5pm CT.

    If you are in WI or know of someone who is, here’s the link to the WI site:


    1. Stillfeeinthebern

      New problem, people who requested their absentee ballot at myvote, and the clerk has mailed it (you can track all of that on the website) but the ballot has not arrived. I have a friend who has waited 10 days. You can go in and vote in person on Election Day, but few people know this.

  8. JTMcPhee

    A couple of things:

    Re that tweet on briebriejoy, glad to see the word “despicable” being used to describe the Dems slamming someone whose mother died of cancer daring to suggest that treatment should be free at the point of care. (My mom died of cancer in 1072 and even then it took me dad years to dig out of the money pit from chemo and radiation and the rest. At least he did not have to go through bankruptcy.)

    That word “despicable” ought IMO to become a hashtag and meme applied to all the people who call so many of us “deplorable.” Obama, Clintons, Pelosi, Perez, and the aisle-straddling #despicables on all sides (and the vultures of K and Wall Streets, need an epithet of their very own.

    Re the pithy header quotes, suggest adding another one from “Dune:”

    “A certain amount of killing has always been an arm of business.” Baron Harkonnen.

    1. ObjectiveFunction


      The ‘treachery’ line is past its sell-by date…. every Democrat candidate turned out to be Dr Yueh.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Maybe we could even start talking about a ” bucket of despicables” to balance out the ” basket of deplorables”.

  9. Jeremy Grimm

    Adam Tooze has posted two recent essays describing the place of the U.S. dollar in maintaining global liquidity. The economic shutdowns in response to the Corona pandemic have lead to a spike in Global demand for dollars. The U.S. Fed is covering a liquidity crisis similar to the crisis in 2008. This could be another aspect of the CARES Act and the urgency with which it was passed. There is a more accessible post at VOX —
    “What both the left and the right get wrong about the coronavirus economic crisis”
    This post points to some important contrasts between the Corona liquidity crisis and the crisis of 2008. It also points out South Africa’s 5 million people with AIDS face extreme vulnerability to the corona virus.
    The blogposts:
    “Crashed to Corona 1: The Dollar Shortage”

    “Crashed to Corona 2: Mapping the Global Funding Squeeze”

    An earlier blogpost discussed the U.S. response to the 2008 liquidity crisis.
    “Framing Crashed (11): American Power and Global Order”
    This post referenced a lecture Adam Tooze delivered to the London Review of Books which I recall gives an entirely different perspective on the multi-trillion dollar bailout from a global view.
    Defying Gravity: Adam Tooze on American power in the long 20th century

    I am still trying to wrap my head around the CARES Act, particularly Sanders vote for that Act — but I believe there is a lot more going on than the Kabuki entertainments we have been given.

  10. zagonostra

    I just logged on to both the PA and FL unemployment online websites to “live chat” with someone and both of those sites were not able to respond because of high demand.

    If I were depending on getting through to them for my next meal or rent payment I would be seriously screwed.

    Those ~3.5M that filed for unemployment last week will be followed by a tsunami of claimants. There has to be a lot of economic anxiety out there and I don’t see much reporting on the MSM on this.

    1. Jane

      Isn’t 3.5 million really low? Canada is roughly one tenth your size and 2.13 million have filed here.

      1. LawnDart

        Can’t file if they can’t get through– helps to keep the numbers low: better optics (USA’s masterful at BS and self-delusion, in case you haven’t noticed).

        This virus truly is a horrible disease, but ultimately, it also may prove to be the cure.

  11. Noone from Nowheresville

    Ryan Grim: The truth about AOC’s evolution 11:47 The Hill

    It’s a nice complimentary take to the Jimmy Dore’s video link posted this morning.

    Per Grim: Sanders doesn’t want to burn the system down. If the “left” wants something like Medicare for All, they will have to go around the legislature and elected officials.

    Power concedes nothing without demand.

    Here’s my thought on AOC: After the AOC Rapinoe video, I’d say AOC is “whip” smart, charismatic and being groomed. On a very superficial level, she reminds me an early earnest version of Rubio in his first election where he touted how important Medicare and Social Security were at it pertained to his mother.

    1. JohnnyGL

      I think people are losing sight of the fact of the matter is that the landscape is different than a couple of months ago. The left has suffered a major defeat. The public players have to go into survival mode and regroup to fight again later. AOC is a political player, that’s what she signed up to be. That means she’s got to move with the changing political environment. That’s not a critique, that’s politics.

      The bailout bill really showed us where the power in DC is right now. It’s with Congressional Leadership, full stop. The outsider bomb-throwers on the left and right all folded.

      1. Noone from Nowheresville

        Sorry, I have to disagree. When will the “people” have more leverage than they do now in the middle of a crisis when workers hold such importance? Once the immediate first curve crisis is over and that multi-trillion dollar leverage fund goes to work, that’s when we’ll really see how different the landscape will become.

        Grim, Dore, Stoller, Taibbi, Dayen, etc’s critique of the “progressive block” is that they never were:

        The outsider bomb-throwers

        that they made themselves and their policies out to be. They are part of the establishment. They made no protest and gave no warnings. The excuse is, was and shall ever will be: TINA

        Leadership for the people’s movement is not to be found in the legislature. At least not on the level to challenge TINA. Because of course there are alternatives. These are purposeful policy choices being made now. Survival mode of politicians be damned.

        If workers are putting their lives on the line and are easily replaceable then politicians who are claiming some superior morality to the system should do no less.

        1. Temporarily Sane

          The Democratic Party “left” have been exposed as a bunch of cowardly frauds who would rather carry water for the establishment than fight for what they supposedly believe in.

          Sanders showed in 2016 that he doesn’t have it takes to mount a real fight to win and AOC talked a good line…until she got elected and promptly showed fealty to Queen Pelosi.

          These people have no integrity and now everyone can see it.

          1. Carey

            >Sorry, I have to disagree. When will the “people” have more leverage than they do now in the middle of a crisis when workers hold such importance? Once the immediate first curve crisis is over and that multi-trillion dollar leverage fund goes to work, that’s when we’ll really see how different the landscape will become.

            Hear, effing hear.

          2. Ian Ollmann

            This is a sensible strategy if you come to believe that the real problem is Trump, and the distance between you and the democratic leadership is fairly tiny compared to the Gulf between you and the President.

            If Democrats have a majority in both houses and the presidency, then I think there is a lot more room for calling out the Joe Biden’s of the world for not doing enough.

          3. JP

            The Dem Left cannot mount a real fight against Trump. The base of the Dem Left has proven to be too thin; this was confirmed in the 2020 Dem primaries on Super Tuesday. Comparing 2020 to 2016 it’s obvious now that Sanders in 2016 only showed strength as Hillary was an extraordinarily weak and unlikeable candidate.

            AOC’s congressional experience is limited. Pelosi was needed at the helm and preferred due to her experience with the congressional and political machinery, the likeliness of an impeachment, and the slim possibility that both Trump and Pence could have been removed.

            In the current climate, Sanders should continue to push the progressive agenda. If the coronavirus did not exist, no one would be listening to Sanders right now and he would have been burned at the stake for continuing his campaign. The only leverage the Dem Left has is with a unifying ticket of something like Biden/Warren… trying for anything is not likely to end well.

        2. Yves Smith

          Progressives are not radicals. Progressives care only about winning debates, not fights.

          And the people on the front line would not take horrible jobs like being an Amazon warehouse worker unless they really needed the pay. Easy to talk about taking one for the cause when you aren’t paying for a strike fund.

    2. HotFlash

      The left has suffered a major defeat.

      That’s for sure. Despite vast enthusiasm, as indicated by (early) polls, rallies, volunteers, and $$$ contributions, Bernie did not produce a landslide victory. For whatever reason(s). It truly beggars belief. So, leaving aside here the question of by whom it was defeated, some licking of wounds is to be expected, then stocktaking, lessons learned, and a new plan is in order. I think one lesson we can learn from Bernie’s early political career, is that you lose and you lose and you lose and you lose… maybe, eventually, you win. But there has been some change. The Dem *and R!* establishment is now talking about Medicare4All. Well, to be honest, they were before, eg, “never, ever, come to pass.” They’re now talking like it was their idea all along. Now, I expect them to bait-and-switch on this, but the *voters* now understand how M4A would work, that the federal govt can afford it, and will happily spend trillions for their big owners donors. And, I remind everyone, they did it over one freeping weekend!

      The nomination may be lost, but there is still a Bernie organization, seems they are mobilizing against CoViD and urging vote by mail. These are worthwhile things and keep on keeping on. Keep sending them money if you think what they are doing is what we should be doing. We should be rewarding him/them, if you want to ‘punish’ somebody, go kick Chuck Schumer or TP Nancy Pelosi’s house.

      Finally, I remind everyone that Bernie styles himself “organizer-in-chief”. Not prophet, not miracle-worker, not martyr. If we had really, really wanted Medicare for All, free public colleges, universities and trade schools, student and medical debt forgiveness, etc. (you know the Bernie shopping list), then *we should have made him the nominee*. We didn’t. Not sure who to blame (well, I do have some thoughts on the matter, perhaps the truth will come out in 25 years). Whatever, it didn’t happen. Blaming him at this point for not making the entire power structure of the US congress bend is laudable, but why should he support us when we did not support him sufficiently to actually do it??

      Re AOC: The dynamics of running for and winning national office are considerably different than those of working in the legislature (cue dog-catches-car simile). Once you have your barbarian inside the gate, bashing on the gate is counter-productive. So, support the lady and remember that Tulsi G was once being groomed buy the DNC — and see how well that worked out for everyone.

      Their job (Bernie, AOC, Talib, all those) is to get us some legislation that will make our lives better. Our job is to direct and support them. So, by all means, scream bloody murder if they don’t, and Jimmy is a genius at this (<3<3<3<3<3) — he screams but that doesn't mean I don't need to. So, we scream, that give the lefties in Congress more leverage, and if we *reliably* do that, incl supporting our best electeds including, eskpecially, financially, then they won't be able to swim upstream for us.

    1. Sailor Bud

      Er, disregard and destroy. Misunderstood “birthday” on criterion collection for living one. Please delete.

    2. MLTPB

      In Red Beard, he played the doctor who showed the younger one what it meant to be a healer.

      That might have inspired a few today.

  12. Krystyn Podgajski

    I would be wary of associating anything that raises ACE2 expression to be bad. Yes, it is true that smokers have more ACE2 expressed in the airway, but ACE2 is not normally found much in the epithelial cells of the upper airway. The highest normal expression or ACE2 is found in the GI tract, Liver, Kidneys and gallbladder. So while raising ACE2 expression in the airways might be bad, no one know if raising it in the GI tract is bad. Having a high ACE2 expression in the GI tract (and the liver) might help set the stage for a healthy immune response. (I have no evidence of this, but neither does anyone else.)

    mRNA (as opposed to protein) expression of ACE2 in the GI tract is HUGE. And no where else in the body is mRNA expression even indicated. I do not know if this is meaning full but it sure is interesting.

    I am making the assumption that there is more ACE2 being expressed in the airway because whatever ACE2 is being produced does not function well and cannot get rid of the ANGII fast enough. I have a proof for this. If ACE2 was working well that would mean having more ACE2 = lower blood pressure and lower atherosclerosis. But smoking leads to higher blood pressure and higher rates of atherosclerosis.

    In my view, health outcomes (not infection rates) has less to do with ACE2 and more to do with changes in levels of Nitric Oxide Synthase. It has been shown that Nitric Oxide Inhibits the Replication Cycle of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus. So it is possible that poor functioning NOS1 and NOS3 have more to do with health outcomes.

    We are all going to catch SARS2, the point is not so much avoiding infection, but building immunity before it kills us.

    So in short, I do not feel higher ACE2 levels mean poor outcomes. Rather, it might be oxidative stress imbalance that we should be focusing on.

    1. Bsoder

      Well, all good science helps at this point. However CV19 is killing many more people then similar infections of this type. “Thus, the role of NO during SARS infection in animal models and the level of NO in SARS patients constitute important areas for future studies.” → Not much data generated in that pursuit. Yes, well ‘oxidative stress’ or the lack of oxygen via the lungs that is killing people is one way to put it. If I can stop any one of the 20 proteins need by CV19 to replicate then I’ve done my job. Why CV19 attacks either ACE2 or causes oxidative stress is for another day.

  13. XXYY

    “Hospitals in some cities are using 3-D printers as a stopgap measure to fabricate goods including nasal swabs and face masks” [Wall Street Journal].

    Using 3D printers to mass-produce gigantic volumes of identical items is the exact wrong use for the technology. Anyone who has ever watched a 3D printer labor for half an hour or an hour (or 10 hours) to produce one small plastic part will easily see the problem here.

    3D printers should be used for low-volume, one-off manufacturing processes, prototyping, or for semi-custom production at low volumes. If you need a million or a billion of something, conventional plastic manufacturing techniques are vastly better and infinitely faster.

    1. marku52

      Yes, but all that technology is now in China. We are working with what we’ve got. Basically home technology. 3D printers and sewing machines. The only manufacturing technologies left in the US, for the most part.

    2. Samuel Conner

      It’s a mark of desperation, but might save lives. I doubt that there are many mold-makers left in US. We’re kind of an extractive economy with a large service sector and a gigantic financial sector.

      One wonders if it will be noticed that the (in)ability to make physical objects at scale has “national security” impacts.

      1. Phacops

        The US injection moulding businesses, from medical devices, on down, has meant a steady, but still tight, supply of mold makers.

        But that’s neither here nor there. In manufacturing, we have traded away real American security for cheap baubles and $$$ to the corporate class. As a result, mold making and other machining specialties, withered.

      2. cnchal

        > . . . I doubt that there are many mold-makers left in US

        Tim Cook agrees. He said all the moldmakers remaining in the US could fit in a broom closet with room for brooms left over, or some small space like that, and therefore no point in doing any manufacturing here. Is Tim hiding out on his yacht or in his bunker now?

        Globalization is a disaster, no matter where one cares to look.

        1. HotFlash

          cnchal, I assume from your moniker that you know a bit about this? A good friend of mine is a self-taught* machinist, clearly not the same a mouldmaker, but on the same order.

          * He is learning his skills at a maker-space that was gifted an old CNC mill, the prev owner having to downsize. BUT! Doug, the prev owner of the mill, hangs out at the ‘space, tutors eager beavers like my friend, and they are getting stuff together. The CNC people there are doing something (not clear to me what) to help the 3D printer people to make some stuff, projects include ventilators (not the whole things, just some critical part), a way to convert CPAP for CoViD, and there is a design for valves for masks that don’t fog up your glasses.

  14. John

    So plastic recycling has been 90% a scam. Plastics came along as I was growing up and became widespread in the late 1950s early 1960s. Somehow we scraped along without plastic everything. The argument that forests were cut down for paper making is self-serving for the makers of plastic. Coppicing is ancient and in the south pines are grown specifically to be cut for a variety of industrial uses. Replant and you have another crop in 15 or 20 years. You really can recycle wood and paper.

    The ruinous environmental effects of plastic far outweighs its utility. I say ban them.

    1. Bugs Bunny

      When I was a kid practically nothing came in plastic. It was considered almost a luxury packaging item. Glass and steel cans, paper and foil. Hawaiian Punch came in a can.

      Get off my lawn.

      1. Lost in OR

        I believe it was Mel Brookes who when asked “what is the greatest invention of mankind?” responded: “Liquid Press. Because it comes in a plastic bottle that doesn’t shatter when you drop it in the shower”.

    2. cnchal

      Throw out the baby with the bath water.

      Look around, and try to imagine all the plastic objects in your view, gone. The point of plastic is that objects can be made, useful objects by the way, that cannot be made with another material or method at a price that you could afford.

      For something on everyone’s mind right now, what material do you think the housings for medical equipment are made of? The interior trim in your car, if you have one, or underhood components? Electrical components where the electrcal insulating properties save your butt from getting fried? I could go on, but I hope you get the point.

      Some plastic use is a huge benefit. Calling for a blanket ban is the opposite of critical thinking.

      1. Basil Pesto

        quite so.

        Along those lines, I also find the “somehow we scraped along without plastic everything” line of argument fairly weak, too. We also scraped along without, say, refrigerators, for the overwhelming majority of our history. Bloody love refrigerators, though.

      2. Old Jake

        In fact, simple solutions for complex problems is the essence of populism, no? Indeed, we do need to apply intelligence to the problem and not expect some invisible hand to do it for us, whether attached to an imaginary invisible being or not.

        “Disposable” anything that remains around leaking toxins for a long long time must be curtailed. Most “plastics” are polymer materials derived from petroleum, which contain additives to manage the properties so they are usable, and the additives are also nasty. The reason we use petroleum as the base is its ubiquity and cost, and of course our “system” of allowing price to rule. Development of alternatives has been suppressed. Because it can be.

        I pick up my dog’s droppings in polymer bags made from corn starch. Those bags cost about twice that of what I could get at Costco. Made in the US and still cheap. They are guaranteed by the manufacturer to be degradable in a back-yard composter (as opposed to the industrial composting which is required for most “biodegradables,” which composers essentially don’t exist). I’m not really counting on those bags having no additives and being entirely innocuous, I drop the bags in the trash, double-bagged, anyway. But it’s a start. The point is that polymers can be made from other things than petroleum, and with some additional technical development a wide variety of things can be made from them — just look around you at what Mother Nature does.

        1. periol

          Or you could just pay a little more for your poop bags, as humanity collectively decides to stop polluting our environment with plastic and our bodies with microplastics.

          Even if we can make “plastic” from other polymers, there would need to be decades of testing on environmental and human/animal physiology impacts before we even contemplate reintroducing it.

          In the meantime, maybe we need to make some hard decisions about convenience vs. a livable planet, since a planet that is no longer habitable for humans will be decidedly inconvenient.

    3. John k

      A $0.10/ each discrete item, say a dime per straw or five dimes if the part has five plastic bits, would substantially cut usage. Or start with a nickel, double it after a year.

    4. roguescholar

      I watched this report on PBS and highly recommend it. I think this issue and how it was handled perfectly encapsulates the issues with capitalism. The recycling pitch was a scam promoted by the industry to protect it and insure growth, and now they’re trying to run the same con again as we’re drowning in plastic. I’m not arguing against recycling, but reduction has to be the main focus. And how do you get an entire industry to cut their production? It really is insanity.

    5. HotFlash

      Yep. I sincerely hope that when ‘business as usual’ resumes, we will understand that all this $h14 is not needed, but only damages our health, our society, and our planet. We don’t have to go full-on commie to figure out how we will live, MMT shows the way. Basic food, clothing, shelter, and medical care as a human right. Will it happen this time? Most likely not, but we plebes will have seen that it can be. The old lies won’t convince anymore, and so maybe next time, or the time after, but eventually. The centre-left cannot hold.

      1. John

        If it does not bio degrade, should we be permitting it that is unless you see the earth as the ultimate garbage dump. Of course plastics have their uses. Tell me it is impossible to come up with a formula for a material that performs many, some, all of the same functions of plastic and has after a time must be replace because it will lose its integrity and decompose into components that are compatible with life forms. Maybe it would cost more. What are plastics as they exist costing every living thing? What is the benefit of micro plastics in your food? In the water you drink? Are plastic bath beads a necessity or an indulgence? Do whales and turtles eat plastic because they like or because they cannot avoid it? What constitutes the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? What is filling up garbage dumps? Yes, I know they have been renamed land fills, which is a name as false to fact as the so called lagoons filled with pig urine and s**t that can make driving down I-40 in North Carolina such a treat. I will go part way with you: End the production and distribution of all single use plastics. Give the industry a moment to find a material that does degrade into components that exist in nature or switch into the production of other materials that do.

  15. hunkerdown

    The Grio? Is that just Salon redecorated for Black PMC sensibilities?

    TheGrio.com, owned by Entertainment Studios LLC, is the first video-centric news community site devoted to providing African-Americans with stories and perspectives that appeal to them but are underrepresented in existing national news outlets.

    Looks like a yes. Now I suspect this Marcus Ferrell guy may not be speaking from his former experience, now that he is managing the campaign of a moderate identitarian, present or former CFR member (a pro-austerity group, we must remember), and potential Biden running mate. Ferrell using a quote from some Black lawyer on Twitter as a significator of Black thought seems like an example of exactly what the Sanders movement isn’t all about. “Didn’t feel any Black tactics and strategy” sounds like the very usual upper-middle look-at-me stuff.

    I’m not saying it’s valueless, but I am saying that I don’t believe Ferrell any longer speaks for the anti-establishment.

    1. tongorad

      I found the Grio article a tough read, as in “blah, blah, blah, Joe Biden.”
      The money shot:

      How are you going to peel Black support from a man who was the VP to America’s first Black president? Time, tactics and effort, that’s how. Bernie had 4 years to set up in Black communities and engage them with his message, organization, but he instead chose to do the same thing — only to get the same result. It’s political insanity.

      Obama, destroyer of worlds. How many potentially progressive moments has he snuffed out?
      Obama loyalty, not a good look. History will not be kind.

    2. ObjectiveFunction

      Well said.

      “Didn’t feel any Black tactics and strategy” sounds like the very usual upper-middle look-at-me stuff.

      Also, Reparations is basically the last honeypot for the Black Misleadership Class as the base for their old fashioned machines gradually diffuses into the rest of America. Establishing eligibility alone (‘one drop’ rides again?) presents an amazing patronage and grifting opp. Heck, you could create a whole new Cabinet post and agencies!

    3. ObjectiveFunction

      … I did enjoy the tag ‘Vermont Moses’ though. So apt, on so many levels.

      Also, Sam Kriss has a pungent take on Biden:

      Critics are confounded by the recent successes of the Biden campaign against Bernie Sanders. After all, Biden has hardly any field offices, no ground game, no passion or joy behind his candidacy, no movement. There’s simply nothing there to attach yourself to; as Biden himself put it, ‘nothing would fundamentally change.’

      This is more dangerous by far than Trumpism, which is still basically a participatory movement in the old mould.
      Trump wants something from you. Biden doesn’t; he insults seemingly every voter in his path, and sometimes forgets what position he’s even running for.

      He’s successful not despite the fact that his brain is clearly turning to jelly, but because of it. Leftists are currently insisting that Biden will inevitably lose to Trump, but the reality could be far worse.

      He’s the perfect expression of our senescent age. A politics of grudgeful stasis; in other words, a politics of defacialisation, a politics of social distancing, a politics of the coronavirus.


  16. a different chris

    >“A History Of Sprawl In One Road Trip” [The American Conservative].

    But there’s still plenty of countryside left, and the trope of sprawl swallowing up vast tracts of land is something of an exaggeration.

    Frog, meet boiling pot. Of course we all know that frogs actually move on. White male conservatives, well they keep convincing themselves that they like the warm water. And the warmer water. And the much warmer water…

    1. stefan

      In 1962, when the development of Tysons Corner, Virginia (the intersection of Rt 123 Chain Bridge Road and Rt. 7 Leesburg Pike) was announced in the news, I went with my parents to take a look. The only building out there was a ramshackle wood frame convenience store with a screen door that slapped in the wind, like something out of Ballad of the Sad Cafe. Take a look at Google Street View to see what it looks like today.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        aye. the back-then very rural neighborhood i grew up in north of houston is all but unrecognisable.
        i stayed away for almost 20 years, and when i went back, i was shocked….and lost,lol.
        but, the author is right…there are still rural and ‘more than rural’ places in abundance. I live in one.
        but like Captain Flint said, “Civilisation is coming!”.
        (or at least it was…now I’m unsure if it’s still advancing)

  17. smoker

    Re: California is an enterprising, modernizing, nation-state. 40 million strong. Together, we will get through this.

    VERY Well Connected, Emperor Striver – RepubloCrat at Heart – Gavin Newsom being Gavin Newsom. It wouldn’t surprise me if he ran on the ticket with Trump, as they’ve been a bit cozy of late (of course I can’t find the very recent sfgate link).

    1. Drake

      California is an enterprising, modernizing, nation-state, 4 million strong. It’s also a dreary, run-down, brutal, third-world kleptocracy, 36 million weak. Adjust the numbers as necessary.

      1. smoker

        Yep. Pre-coronavirus California: over 150,000 homeless (mostly unsheltered); at least a third of the state on MediCal [Medicaid]; over 7% totally uninsured; and millions insured who can’t afford to be treated.

          1. smoker

            Because I live here (I’ve lived and worked here for most of my adult life) – and have been increasingly watching the unnecessary and brutal suffering go on, – for both strangers, and loved ones about to possibly end up dead very quickly, for no fathomable reason – for over a decade. Further, the profession I was in (along with my own parent’s horrid experience as an engineer with, significant patents under his name) repeatedly made me fully aware of what the Powerful and Obscenely Wealthy have gotten away with in Silicon Valley.

            (I likely will not respond to any further response you might have, it took me 12 minutes (I fastidiously tracked the time) with my stunningly limited affordable Silicon Valley Internet access, just to be able to ‘nest’ this response to your comment. that time does not include the time I took to consider and write my response to you.)

        1. Ian Ollmann

          So, to be fair, the homeless have freedom of movement around the country. They don’t necessarily come from CA. I always assumed they were here because the weather is mild and the authorities mostly leave them alone.

          Anyway, California is so far ahead of most of the rest of the nation in policy, culture and technology, that it does feel like a separate country to me. It is a great place to live. My only complaint is that there are too many Californians .

    2. sgr2

      Not surprising really … politics always has made for strange bedfellows. Didn’t I read not long ago that Govenor Good Hair’s ex is paling around with one of the Trump boys these days?

  18. Wukchumni

    The word California comes from a romance novel written in the 16th century, and imagined it as an island unto itself, and in fact for quite some time, early maps of the state showed it detached from the rest of the country, so there is precedence in being a ‘nation-state’ of sorts. California was populated by Amazon warriors in the tome, and whether they worked for Bezos is unknown, but likely.

  19. Martin Oline

    Regarding Morning Joe’s comment this morning “Everybody saw this coming in early January.”
    For the last couple of years I have not had the stomach to watch Joe and Mika for more than a couple of minutes. I am also very careful to never leave the station on MSNBC as I am afraid the cable company is polling the channels I watch even while the system is off. I have noticed that his delivery has changed to a very slow cadence which tells me he has nothing to say but has to fill the time he is allotted. This morning I was unlucky enough to see him deliver this statement live and immediately turned it off. This is true Revisionist History. Perhaps he should change his handle to Uncle Joe, as in Uncle Joe Stalin. Mika proudly declared over a year ago that she doesn’t report the news but is there to “shape opinion.” It seems they also believe they are there to also shape history.

    1. MLTPB

      Earlier, it was we wasted 6 weeks

      Then, a day ago, it was that the nation ignorantly dismissed the threat.
      I Impeachment was offered as a counter argument or evidence that there were distractions for not paying more attention, in the water cooler yesterday. The impeachment vote seems like it happened last century.

      I’m glad we remember what occupied the nation back then.

      Perhaps it’s better we focus on what to do now, and going forward, and save ideas such as a UN like commission later, when the situation is not so urgent.

    2. CanCyn

      I think this beats how long it took everyone to forget that Obama had all the power he needed to make the change everyone ‘hoped’ for when he was first elected. How does it happen so fast? Someone revises the story and everyone jumps on the bandwagon and the truth is buried, to the extent that it is scoffed at when mentioned by those who haven’t forgotten. What is up with that phenomenon?

      1. Wukchumni

        I’ve decided we have what I call ‘fortnight memory spans’, most of us. We can remember stuff from a couple weeks ago, but that’s it. Conversely it goes the other way as well, we can plan things only for the short term, as witnessed by all the people who have been told they need to shelter in place through May, but only have food for a week or 2.

  20. Noone from Nowheresville

    Since Hobby Lobby is a “peoples” corporation with religious objections to birth control / Obamacare, can we call for the death penalty to this corporate entity via the Ten Commandments?

    Hobby Lobby quietly reopened stores in at least 2 states, defying coronavirus-related shutdowns and prompting police intervention

    Hobby Lobby is defying state-mandated lockdowns by quietly reopening stores, including nearly all of its stores in Wisconsin and Ohio.

    A March 28 memo obtained by Business Insider equipped managers with talking points for “how to respond and communicate if visited by a local authority that asks why we are open.”

    1. CanCyn

      While I am no fan of Hobby Lobby, here in Ontario, our list of essential businesses that can remain open during the declared COVID emergency is rather long (https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2020/03/29/ontarios-list-of-essential-businesses-is-too-large-to-contain-spread-of-virus.html).
      I admit we have been thinking that access to crafty things for locked down people to do might could have meant that the craft stores be on the list. I have been sewing masks and had to order elastic online – it arrived today from the UK. Out of stock on many sites in US and Canada. NB: We are trying not to order much (no Amazon) and have been tipping when we do get deliveries.

    2. Alfred

      The Hobby Lobby store in Hermitage, TN (suburb of Nashville) was open for business last week with a sign on the door explaining why it is “essential.” I must paraphrase from memory: (1) it sells materials used for making masks; (2) it sells various items needed by home-schoolers and telecommuters. I’m just reporting what I saw; I’m not buying it.

      1. marym

        Joann Fabrics has been giving away fabric for masks. fwiw I did a search on a few IL stores on-line and they’re showing “temporarily closed”; in TN “hours temporarily restricted.” Here’s this from Michigan:

        “JoAnn Fabrics asked the state to be classified as an essential business, but the attorney general denied that request.

        [AG Dana] Nessel’s response said they appreciate the contributions that JoAnn Fabrics has made in addressing the crisis, but because the products can be obtained through other ways, like online, it is not necessary to continue on-site operations.”


    3. griffen

      Is Amazon closed for business? I am not aware if the online behemoth retailer has closed its doors out of any fealty to their employees.

      Easy to single out examples. Msybe they should, maybe they should not. Not my call to make.

  21. nippersdad

    Re: “I worked for Bernie…”

    Speaking just for myself, I had some real problems with this article.

    He says: “The hot take on Bernie is that he was too risky for Black voters.” “The assertion that Black voters are risk-averse is about as correct as saying Hillary won the primary election in 2008.”

    Well, virtually all of the black press that I read, including the Black Agenda Report, call the elderly black vote being risk averse a fact. He is conflating generational differences in the black vote.

    “We just needed him to take his message to Black media and explain how it would help the Black community in ways the current system does not.”

    A Chuck Rocha outreach system. OK. So what was this guy’s job, again? Oh, that’s right, the National Black Outreach Director for the ’16 Sanders campaign.

    “The brand of politics that Bernie wields comes from the populist theories of Governor Huey Long to the civil rights era struggles of Black organizations and leaders in the 1960s.

    At its core, the class-based “for all” policies Bernie has produced is what Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, James Baldwin, and the Black Panthers wanted for our own communities. Bernie adopted the policies that basically shaped our movements.”

    Seems like that should have been a point that he could have made when it was his job to make it; something that even risk averse elderly black people should have been able to understand were it put into those terms. In what way did the Sanders campaign prevent him from doing what Killer Mike, Danny Glover, Reverend Barber, Jesse Jackson, Harry Belafonte, Cornell West, Nina Turner and many others have explicitly been doing for five years now?

    Maybe we will never know, but I do wonder why a former Sanders staffer who now (apparently) works for CAP board member and grateful recipient of millions from Bloomberg has found it convenient to bring this stuff up now.

    Sanders should have used his movement for maximum leverage; MLK wouldn’t have achieved what he did without the Black Panthers in the background. He has the ear of a disaffected base, and using that leverage would have gone a long way toward moving the risk averse his way were it pointed out to them that the establishment candidate could not win without them. He did not, and will not do that. That is his fault, but a lack of outreach to the black base is prolly not the thing that tipped the scales for Biden.

  22. Carolinian

    re cars–I finally broke down and got a fairly recent model and while it does have a touchscreen it also has buttons and knobs for every essential function. Plus when you start the car a warning comes up on the screen similar to that seen on gps units. It says use this touchscreen while driving at your own risk. You have to wonder why regulators would even allow car to depend on a touchscreen although this is apparently true of the Tesla which only has a touchscreen.

    All of which provides one reason why I got a more recent car. It has lots of airbags.

    1. Jen

      I just bought a new car at the end of February. Manual transmission, and it has a key. It does have a touch screen but everything that I need to operate can be worked with buttons and knobs. Amusingly, the first thing that comes up on the touch screen is some sort of legalese about the touch screen and an agree button, which I will never, ever touch!

      1. Carolinian

        Right. But I like having the screen which is useful for the radio and needed for the backup camera. I just don’t think it should be used for more than that (and in my car it isn’t although I have the usual Apple/Android options).

        1. jen

          Agreed. One of the other things that I like about this car is the touch screen is small and therefore easy to ignore. Haven’t embraced the backup camera yet, but I may yet come around.

  23. Glen

    Speaking of Morning Joe, they are now ardent supporters of government:


    I’m not sure what to make of this at all given that these are the very people that said government doesn’t work and then proceeded to destroy it (except with regard for their ability to loot it for themselves. )

    Things fall apart – truth is revealed – and one gets hip deep in the BS rather quickly.

    1. MLTPB

      7 tweets in Jan about sports, and 0 on corona.

      My guess is the 7 were about college football or the Superbowl.

      In another country, the interest might have been soccer or football.

      That’s the world we live in.

      (Dont know if those who paid a lot and flew to the game practiced social distancing enroute to or back, or while there).

  24. anon in so cal

    Not sure what Gavin Newsom’s tweet depicting California as a “nation-state” means, but he has earned points during this crisis. His neoliberal track record is ghastly, but in his daily press conferences he can speak at length extemporaneously and knowledgeably and answer media questions in detail.

    Separately, in the UK, US tech firms Amazon, Microsoft and Palantir (co-founded by Peter Thiel and involved in ICE raids) will oversee Covid-19 data collection efforts.

    “Data collected via the NHS’s 111 telephone service is to be mixed with other sources to help predict where ventilators, hospital beds, and medical staff will be most in need.”



    1. MLTPB

      I don’t think it’s about Ca-exit here.

      As for tracking, is it a relief to know data collection for covid19 is not already in a giant data center somewhere?

      1. ambrit

        All that data probably is already on one unified data dump site, but, neo-liberalism being what it is, there is a perverse disconnect between the Public’s Security and the Public’s Safety

  25. flora

    Capitalism and pandemic profiteering. From The Intercept:

    Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare, a Pennsylvania-based health product firm that produces supplemental oxygen machines, sent at least three different shipments of respiratory equipment to Belgium in mid-February and early March. The total cargo included 14 containers weighing more than 55 tons. DeVilbiss and its owner, Clayton Dubilier & Rice, a New York-based private equity firm, did not respond to a request for comment.


  26. Max

    This isn’t the first time Gavin Newsom referred to California as a nation state, he also used that wording last weekend during a speech from San Jose. I meant to comment at the time – a silicon valley fuel cell tech company called Bloom Energy made a big deal about retooling their business in order to bring a couple hundred ventilators back online. That’s all fine and good, with lots of back patting about the SV can-do attitude and ability to disrupt expectations, etc etc. My close reading of the speech suggests that there were a bunch of ventilators sitting around in storage, and most just needed new batteries. Any fix would have to be simple and easy to troubleshoot. Modern medical devices are insanely complicated, so for some random company and their techs to be able to get them working again would mean the original problem would need to be simple to diagnose. And if it is so simple, why did we have to wait for someone to volunteer? To their credit, it does appear that Bloom is getting working ventilators back into circulation.

    My question is, how will these ventilators be calibrated, tested and certified? Even during normal times, functioning medical equipment is routinely inspected and calibrated (the calibration cycle) by either the OEM or an accredited technician to verify it is functioning within well-defined performance specifications. It’s one thing to get something to turn on again, it is completely different to certify it for use during life saving operation. How do you know the new batteries won’t die a couple hours into their operation? How do you know the sensors are accurate to within the required certainty? A lot of the expense for modern medical devices comes from the testing and paper trail that goes along with their manufacture and upkeep, and this requires specialized, intimate knowledge of the machine and its performance (in addition to software and equipment). I don’t see how a unrelated company could possibly come and and, in a matter of days, figure out how to repair and test machines (probably from different manufacturers!).

    My suspicion is that the unspoken understanding is these are “better than nothing”, and will get sent out with the hope that most work well enough for the demands of the crisis. Any malfunctions will need to be excused as unfortunate but necessary. Source: I am an engineer in the medical device industry.

    1. sd

      A California rocket-maker will start producing simple ventilators

      “This one is going to basically be for all the patients who need a ventilator but do not need a top-line ventilator,” Dr. Govind Rajan, the director of clinical affairs at the UC Irvine Medical Center, says. “That will free up all these top-line ventilators for the sickest of the sick.” […]

      To help alleviate the pressure, a group of physicians and biomedical device experts hopes to start producing “bridge” ventilators in the coming weeks. These are simpler devices, akin to the handheld “ambu” bags used by paramedics to give oxygen to patients over brief periods of time, while in transit or before they have been intubated.

      Rajan says the device was inspired by the start of his career in India decades ago, when doctors facing ventilator shortages would train family members to use handheld respirators to breathe for sick loved ones.

    2. HotFlash

      Umhmm. Friends of mine are working on a 3D printed ventilator (not the whole thing, just parts) and are flummoxed by simple questions. Apparently, conventional ventilators just use room air. Well, people, is that *safe*? they are trying to find out, info not easy to come by. If you know of any sources, pls let me know so I can fwd to them.

    3. John

      Thought Experiments for 2020:Which US states of leagues of states would make viable nations? Which US cities would make viable city states like Singapore or Hong Kong?

      1. ObjectiveFunction

        Interesting question. City states are pretty much always entrepots for commerce, although almost by definition they aren’t going to be self-sufficient. Ancient Athens tried, walling off large farmlands and the road to Piraeus, but it didn’t really work out for them.

        Hong Kong’s entire purpose was to displace Canton as the entrepot to south China from the 1850s until 1941, secured by the might of the Royal Navy and then until 1997 by the forbearance of the PRC which found its continued existence useful.

        Singapore is an island strategically located on a maritime chokepoint. The East India Company imposed itself on the Sultan, then imported lots of Chinese and Indian laborers whose sons became a bureaucratic and commercial class. These folks didn’t want to pay baksheesh to Malay bumiputeras, and nor did the oil majors who ran the large refinery complexes. Ergo, independence. Subsequently, SG became the region’s commercial center of choice by dint of low but steadily collected taxes and stable rule of law.

        As far as America is concerned, after the Cuba revolution, Miami became the de facto economic capital of Latin America and it is still a preferred bolthole for their elites, as Vancouver and Pac Heights are for Chinese.

        San Franscisco got rich off the Gold Rush and subsequent land booms. Seattle did much the same later, as the entrepot to Alaska. Most of the heartland cities started as river and/or rail hubs.

        And of course there’s New York, which as early as the 1825 Erie Canal became, in the envying words of Boston Brahmin O.W. Holmes Sr., ‘that tongue that is licking up the cream of commerce and finance of a continent.’

        A hypothetical set of conditions that allowed an American metro region to secure independence from the USA would almost certainly also entail a large scale breakdown of world trade. Which wouldn’t seem to be favorable for entrepots. Otherwise, you’d be talking about a Red Dawn/High Castle concept where a US city is effectively colonized by a foreign power as its entrepot. Not sure I see that one coming either although I’m sure one could dream up endless what-ifs.

        1. Jessica

          “These folks didn’t want to pay baksheesh to Malay bumiputeras,”
          I have read in a number of places that Singapore was expelled from Malaysia because the bumiputras were afraid of being dominated by the Chinese. At the time, Singapore was terrified to be on its own, particularly because Indonesia laid claim to Singapore and had just killed 500,000 to 2,000,000 primarily ethnic Chinese in a US-backed pogrom.
          That fear is also why Singapore has run such a tight ship, both for good and for bad.

        1. Jessica

          Everyone of course is entitled to imagine this their own way, but looking at this map now, two points seem unlikely:
          1) Colorado grouped with Wyoming and Montana
          2) Northern Idaho being part of Seattle-Portland.
          More likely that Colorado would stay on its own or join up with New Mexico and Northern Idaho would be with Wyoming and Montana. Even eastern Oregon and Washington would probably have to be held in Seattle-Portland by force of arms. They would fit more comfortably with Wyoming-Montana-northern Idaho.
          This map from Colin Woodard’s “American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America.”

          is also useful, though it delineates regions as they function with a unified US. Some of them would be geographically ill-shaped to function on their own. Yankeedom and The Midlands would need to join together.
          My comments on the northern Rocky Mountain Region are based on having lived in some of this area and visited much of the rest.

          1. The Rev Kev

            The book doesn’t say but I am guessing that when they went to check, they found that none of them worked and half the missile silos were flooded with groundwater anyway.

  27. Carey

    SLO County CA coronavirus statistics

    As of 4/1/20 at 12:00 pm

    83 Confirmed cases
    36 Home
    37 Recovered
    10 Hospitalized (2 in ICU)
    0 Deaths


    San Francisco statistics:

    Coronavirus (COVID-19) Cases in San Francisco

    Total Positive Cases: 434
    Deaths: 7
    updated daily at 9:00 AM


    Dr John Lee: How to understand – and report – figures for ‘Covid deaths’:

    1. Alfred

      I thank you especially for the link to Dr. John Lee’s piece. Very helpful. I hope many here read it. Perhaps Lambert would be willing to hoist it into his links tomorrow? It echoes some points I heard made on the radio yesterday by the mayor of Atlanta, to the effect that the statistics available to her (via the Georgia department of Public Health) were very hard to use for planning purposes, and dangerous inasmuch as the under-reporting of “cases” (which are really just a subset of “severe cases”) leads the public to under-estimate the likelihood of contagion.

  28. Tertium Squid

    *sigh* We have further to go than I thought.

    A neighbor came by this afternoon and asked if the Bernie Sanders sign in our front yard was an April Fool’s joke.

  29. europa

    The article about UI systems is not strictly true. Many are running on modernized systems for either tax assessment, benefits payment, or both. (Though these are not without their problems.) I’m sure workload is an issue, but another issue is the lack of federal guidance on program specifics for the new programs; also, a federal funding source to draw on.

    The new programs are modeled on previous UI programs (for extensions, disasters, et cetera) but given that UI is a complexity wet dream, I doubt state system programmers want to pull the trigger until the federal government is very specific about what is to happen, especially since these are likely going to result in record-breaking outflows.

  30. molonlabe

    Lambert: “That’s nice. I wish I had a yarn chart of political class spousal relations.” There are not enough pitchforks and guillotines if people saw the spousal (and sibling/child) relationships between lobbyists and financial “services” titans and judges, senators, congresspeople, and regulators. Similar to how people would react if they saw the vast amount of under-utilized wealth of the 0.1%.

  31. Wukchumni

    By not shutting down public intercourse in the red states, are the unfortunates within essentially the “Judean People’s Front” (not to be confused with the People’s Front of Judea) crack team of suicidists?

  32. cripes

    So Drumpf and Bill (we’ll stop at nothing to get Epsteins co-conspirators) Barr deploys Navy destroyers, combat ships, Air Force surveillance planes and helicopters, and ten Coast Guard cutter ships in Caribbean and Eastern pacific “Southern Command” against drug traffickers.

    In the beginning of the middle of the coronavirus peak?



    1. Massinissa

      They’re being deployed… Near Venezuela.

      Trump going to try getting a ‘short victorious war’ against Venezuela to try and distract the public from the health crisis, maybe? Wonder if somebody realized its the 30th anniversary of the month-long US invasion of Panama this year…

      1. ambrit

        This ‘invasion’ will last a lot longer than a month. Panama was ruled by a Dictator back then. Venezuela is ruled by a generally popular elected regime.
        Gaido has not generated the requisite popular groundswell of support. He’ll probably end up like one of those South Vietnamese “leaders” from the sixties and seventies of the last century. Wholly dependent on the armed forces and American ‘support.’

    2. Paradan

      This is probably in preparation for military action against Venezuela. Since they accused Maduro of drug trafficking it justifies (in their screwed up world view) them to initiate Operation Just Cause 2: Imperial Boogaloo! Russia just bought up all of Rosnefts(?) assets in Venezuela so did Trump promise to reimburse them if they stay out of it? If Russia lets the US get control of Venezuela, then what was the point of the current oil-production war?

      Our elites are probably thinking a war will take the pressure off them, but this one could end up a real mess.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Trying to invade a country in the middle of its own pandemic does not sound like a good idea right now. That is, unless you consider soldiers and marine to be disposable assets.

        1. ambrit

          Be ‘Real’ (TM) Rev. To that bunch, everyone below the 0.001% is a disposable “asset.”
          I’m wondering if Colombia joins in.

        2. John

          Agreed. But there is all that oil and it would be so easy. Venezuelans will just step aside and let it happen. These demented deluded crazed obsessive compulsives never let go of a bad idea once latched onto.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > This is probably in preparation for military action against Venezuela.

        Fortunately, the war with Venezuela has bipartisan support, since Pelosi et al. signed on with Greedo. So it’s all good!

  33. sd

    Iceland lab’s testing suggests 50% of coronavirus cases have no symptoms

    Experts have said comprehensive testing is key to controlling coronavirus, and creating a more accurate picture of the spread of Covid-19. This island-nation of 360,000 is doing just that. As of Tuesday, Iceland had tested more than 17,900 people for the virus — nearly 5% of its population. […]
    Although fewer than 1% of the tests came back positive for the virus, the company’s founder Dr. Kári Stefánsson told CNN that around 50% of those who tested positive said they were asymptomatic, confirming multiple studies that show that asymptomatic, or mildly symptomatic, people have played an important role in spreading the virus.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      I’ll say it here: 9/11, 2008, now Covid. Scams to take away more of our money and more of our rights. If it’s death we are afraid of why are they not urgently screaming for everyone to drive 20 MPH? And let’s definitely ban bicycles! Surfing is much too dangerous! No more scuba diving! Wake me up when the global deaths surpass that of the regular flu. Or even double that. We’re willing to dismantle Western Civilization for that?

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        Are you willing to dismantle our health care system by killing our doctors and nurses in order to save the restaurants and bars?

  34. geoff

    New Mark Blyth in Foreign Affairs: “The US Economy Is Uniquely Vulnerable to the Coronavirus- Why America’s Growth Model Suggests It Has Few Good Options”.

    “… when markets freeze and cannot price assets correctly…, the growth model collapses. [snip] The Federal Reserve and Congress can try to put a floor on asset prices by bailing out companies, but there is no bottom for the broader problem of consumption that occurs when a third of the labor market is laid off and the other two- thirds are locked at home for an extended period of time. In this world bailing out capital and expecting labor to adjust through wage cuts and unemployment is simply impossible given the size of the shutdown.”

    1. Wukchumni

      Want to know how the next chapter goes…

      No reason for the almighty buck to be the world’s reserve currency anymore in a world come undone, and once that extraordinary privilege goes away, the $ plummets, and Ag cuts a fat hog by shipping all the food grown here overseas for the big bickies, compared to the crummy price you’d have to accept selling it to Americans, because markets.

      1. John k

        Problem is nobody credible wants the privilege bc they see the consequence as a curse. Only China and Eu are possibly credible, and they want to export more than they import, which drains liquidity from ROW. As it is now Germany even drains liquidity from Southern Europe, explaining their continuous slow growth or recession.
        The us deficit spends enough to put back into the private sector the liquidity that is drained away by the trade deficit… the twin deficits have often been quite similar.
        Until China or Germany is willing to be a major importer and supply the world with needed liquidity we’re stuck with it… and it’s getting worse, inequality is the draining of liquidity from willing to unwilling spenders, so as that progresses the us, or many governments, must deficit spend more and more to avoid recession. Maybe China is willing to temporarily tun big deficits in the current crisis, but not Eu, they’re allergic to spending on the working class.

          1. Jack Parsons

            The trade deficit drives the replacement of gold with the dollar as the international trade currency. If you want someone to use your currency, you have to make that currency available everywhere. We shipped dollars overseas en masse to buy oil, to establish the world dollar, and must keep shipping dollars out to maintain this source of international power.

      2. JBird4049

        …and Ag cuts a fat hog by shipping all the food grown here overseas for the big bickies, compared to the crummy price you’d have to accept selling it to Americans, because markets.

        That would be vastly incredibly, mind-numbingly, suicidally, stupid. I know that I have said that our leadership has suicidal ideation, and with a few exceptions like the Aztec and Incan Empires, just about any civilization anywhere either fell or had wars because of food or water shortages.

        It would also mean the end of any political party that did not stop that. …but suicidal ideation? Or are TPTB really dumb enough to think that any large population in any of the United States would allow this?

        IIRC, most of the corn and wheat shipped goes out via the Mississippi River. It probably would not be that hard for even a small and determined group to block-off the mouth of the Mississippi, or at least far down the river for shipping, and stop the flow of grain shipments. Some angry and determined people could do it several times over a few months. Sure, there the is the American military, but has any of you seen the Mississippi River? It is a bit looonng. Or just start hitting the ports at the mouth.

        Of course, since the United States is the primary backup grain supplier for most of humanity, that would also cause problems for most of us, if anything unexpected were to happen. Like say, COVID-19 or maybe, just maybe American civil unrest.

        Sometimes, I wonder just how vastly incredibly, mind-numbingly, suicidally, stupid human beings, or at least the present incarnation of the planetary civilization is and I am including both the Western and Eastern civilizations. We are all cutting it so close to the food supply and the population and are dependent on decaying third world countries like the United States to make up the differences in an emergency.

        1. ambrit

          The simplest and easiest way I can think of to strangle the export of commodities via the Mississippi River would be to blow up the Old River Control Structure above Baton Rouge Louisiana. That would leave Baton Rouge and New Orleans ports stranded on a semi-navigable river stub, and no easy way to get those upriver barges and freighters to the Gulf of Mexico.
          Old River Control Structure: https://www.wunderground.com/cat6/Americas-Achilles-Heel-Mississippi-Rivers-Old-River-Control-Structure

          1. Stillfeelinthebern

            No need to worry about it being exported. It is being destroyed right at the farm. Farmers are dumping milk. https://www.jsonline.com/story/money/2020/04/01/coronavirus-forces-dairy-farmers-dump-milk-wisconsin-covid-19/5108609002/

            I heard the leaders of the Wisconsin legislature say earlier today during a press conference that milk prices are tanking. I would think that people gotta eat and it would make no difference if it is in a restaurant or at home for the consumption of dairy, but obviously I was mistaken.

            1. Ian Ollmann

              Most of my family has switched over to vegetable milk substitute. I’m partial to oat milk myself. This has the potential to be a big problem for dairy.

          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            And make the Atchafalaya River the new ” Lower Mississippi”?

            Buy land in-around Morgan City, I guess. it could become the ” new New Orleans”.

  35. John k

    How many infected in a given area? Can’t use test data bc we’re not testing.
    Mortality works if we know the rate… it gives us an indicator (multiple) of how many became infected on the day those dying now did.
    The second multiple is how the number of infected grew from that day to the present.
    So of mortality is 1-3%, the mortality multiple is 50-100.
    Expansion is slowing, but avg from over past 26 days is doubling every 2.5 days. If it takes 15 days from getting disease to die, multiple is 64. If it takes 20 days, 256.
    So multiplying the multiples yields a big range, 3,200 to 25,600, a factor of 8.
    Four people passed in Ca today, implying total infected today is between 12,000 and 100,000. If the higher number = 1/400.
    Probably not good guess in NY bc death rate rises when hospitals overwhelmed (fewer infected).

    1. Carey

      Number of possibly-CV hospitalizations seems like a useful diagnostic, under the circumstances.

  36. Jason Boxman

    Why knock on NodeJS? You can build robust computer applications in nearly any language. I get knocking “learn to code”, because that’s liberal claptrap, but why knock this language or that?

    1. curious euro

      Because different languages are useful for different scenarios.
      NodeJS is simply bad design or taken way out of the domain it is useful for. Javascript is a “throwaway language” to write easy, small scripts on a webpage. Which is why it is dynamic, weakly typed, event driven. Making it into a backend language for complicated calculations and basing a whole organization on it goes against its purpose the bigger the project gets and the longer it needs to be supported. This particular task is one of these, that’s why it’s a mainframe system decades old and customized beyond recognition. If you rewrote it in JS, 50 years down the line it would be much worse than it is now if you used JS.

      Also NodeJS suddenly brings lots of programmers who only know about those small webscripts into the backend which obviously creates huge problems since they are often not up to the task. Which leads to a stereotype which is however unfortunately not really wrong.

      Yes, every language can be used to write any program, but that doesn’t mean you should.

  37. marym

    America’s Top Unions Demand Amazon Do Better

    We write to you today shocked at reports that Amazon warehouses are not practicing the protocols
    necessary to protect the well-being of your workers and of the public.

    And we are outraged to hear that not only did Amazon executives NOT promptly address the concerns being articulated by your own workers, but you actually fired one of the lead whistleblowers immediately following his courageous action Monday. We call for the swift reinstatement of Chris Smalls…

    We support workers who are calling for warehouse closures with full pay for all workers who
    depend on those warehouses for their income, until you put into place the following protocols:

    Summary of Protocols:
    Independent health and safety inspection and ongoing monitoring
    100% pay for all employees during sanitation closures.
    Cancel all rate and productivity requirements
    Stricter protocols for six foot distancing measures.
    Cover childcare expenses
    Full pay for all workers who cannot return to work because of their own or family member illness
    or out of need to self-quarantine – for themselves or loved ones.
    Retroactive pay for workers who have needed to take unpaid time off over the past month due
    to COVID-19 and its effects on our communities.
    Issue a public statement of improved protocols

    Leaders of AFL-CIO, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, AFSCME, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, AFT, SEIU, and IBT: Amazon Employees for Climate Justice: and a list of NY lawmakers


    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      The next step for these Unions would be to put adds or memes or something into every heavily-viewed venue they can . . . . to the effect that Amazon Spreads Disease. Amazon Spreads the Corona Plague.
      Everyone who buys from Amazon risks getting a thing covered with Corona Plague inside a box full of Corona Plague and covered with Corona Plague.

      Attrit and degrade Amazon’s customer base until only Darwin’s Discards are still buying from Amazon. Then tell Amazon that the one way out of this situation is for them to completely fulfill every one of these Union Conditions, down to the last jot and tittle.

      Otherwise, Amazon is still a Plague Spreader and will be witch-taint identified as such as loudly as possible.

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        The next step for these unions should be putting an organizing office in every town with an Amazon warehouse and announce a national (not warehouse by warehouse) drive intended to create a national Amazon workers union that can bargain a single contract with the company. And to commit to hiring as organizers every worker Amazon fires for expressing support for the union.

        Everything else is weak tea. There is no way an announced boycott of Amazon will achieve anything. Degrade their customer base? They are currently trying to hire 150,000 MORE workers. Plus, it is hard to organize workers when you are encouraging people to try to put their employer out of business.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Your theory of the One Big Amazon Union is interesting and may be tried.

          As long as Bezos is committed to creating corona-spreading conditions within his warehouses, hiring 140,000 more people means subjecting 140,000 more people to corona virus.

          As long as Bezos remains devoted to maintaining the corona-spreading conditions within his warehouses, it is a reality-based fact that he and his company is a plague-spreading machine. And if enough people are made aware enough of that fact that they stop buying the corona virus that Bezos sells along with his boxes and the contents inside them, then there is a chance that he will lose enough business to see the thing-selling side of his company go extinct.

          That prospect may be enough to torture and terrorise Bezos into cancelling the corona-spreading policies he practices against his workers and his customers. If he cancels every one of his corona-spreading policies, then the same people who were pointing out that Bezos causes disease and spreads it to every worker and customer of his company . . . . can point out that Bezos has now been tortured and terrorized into changing his company into a suppressor of disease and it is now safe to work for it and buy from it.

          Why do you want to see 140,000 more people go to work in a seething cauldron of corona virus? Don’t you want to see Bezos tortured and terrorized into removing the corona virus from the cauldron? And how do you torture and terrorize Bezos into doing that without a credible threat of exterminating his company unless he does that?

          1. Left in Wisconsin

            I don’t want them to go to work there. It’s just that customer boycotts don’t work. Much as I would like them to, and I refuse to use them myself, Amazon is not going away. Much better then is having a union there.

  38. richard

    re Zoom
    a lot of teachers at our K-8 school (and all over I imagine) jumped right in with Zoom meetings with their classes
    last week we were told to “transition” away from Zoom, because of its vulnerabilities and are trying instead to use Schoology and Microsoft Teams, though Teams is hard for more than 6 or so people to use, and neither of these platforms is geared for younger kids at all – zoom is way easier to use but not very functional for teaching, harder to share docs for example.

  39. hunkerdown

    Glenn Greenwald’s new podcast, System Update, debuts today with a look at the Sanders 2020 campaign with fellow podcasters Liz Franczak (TrueAnon) and Kyle Kulinski (Secular Talk). I’m not in love with the low information rate of the podcast format, and this is no exception, but these two conversations were kind of interesting, and Glenn and guests made a partially successful effort to avoid talking about coronavirus.

    The takeaway for me from both guests, and I admit I have been well primed to receive it, was that the Democrat establishment is literally the enemy of the left, and we (not just Sanders, or his campaign or his supporters, but leftists in general) have failed to press that case as hard as the moment warrants, in deference to a norm of comity that almost never works in the left’s favor.

  40. Acacia

    FYI, some published research on cloth masks:

    A cluster randomised trial of cloth masks compared with medical masks in healthcare workers

    Conclusions: This study is the first RCT of cloth masks, and the results caution against the use of cloth masks. This is an important finding to inform occupational health and safety. Moisture retention, reuse of cloth masks and poor filtration may result in increased risk of infection. Further research is needed to inform the widespread use of cloth masks globally. However, as a precautionary measure, cloth masks should not be recommended for HCWs, particularly in high-risk situations, and guidelines need to be updated.

    n=1607 hospital HCWs aged ≥18 years working full-time in selected high-risk wards.

    Not to say that cloth masks are a bad idea (as opposed to no mask at all), just that they are not as effective as the disposable medical masks.

  41. drumlin woodchuckles

    “You can’t put hospital beds everywhere, like bunk beds” , the article notes, and goes on to describe the extreme complexity and space requirements of all the oxygen and machine and etc. hookups.

    But a thought occurred to me. Maybe these temporary off-site hospitals are being set up for the level of people who need mid-tech mid-vigilance hospital care. People with simple broken legs, mid-level heart attacks, etc. could be sent to these off-site hospitals. Leaving all the hospital spaces in the current perma-hospitals devoted strictly and only to COVID cases and the few other immediate-life-or-death ICU-type cases who also come in.

    Does anyone who works in a hospital see their hospital emptying out to near-zero census to get ready to fill all that space with COVID patients?

  42. John Beech

    Loved the article in The Grio that details why Senator Sanders lost the black vote. It boils down to; ‘he doesn’t support reparations’.

    So the one guy who ‘would’ do something for black guys, who actually marched for civil rights, was a worse choice for blacks than the guy who excoriated Anita Hill, who was vocal in his opposition to integration/bussing, and was for the crime bill, and is basically the antithesis of black interests . . . is preferable? OK.

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