Links 5/3/2020

Yves is braving a trip to NYC to see a doctor in late-ish May, the theory being that the city will be safer towards the tail end of the lockdown than when restrictions are eased.

She could very much use some paid, professional help with her three laptop Macs (one workhorse, two backups). If you think you can do the job, here are the requirements:

1. You must be willing to work on a legacy version of the OS and not insist on an upgrade. Yves is running legacy software that is already getting funky on the version she is using.

2. You must be able to untangle a hidden files issue. The workhorse laptop is saving certain data files to Dropbox, rather than locally, even though local files exist. The Dropbox account also has Google login-related issues.

3. You must, as much as possible, synch up the two other laptops to the workhorse laptop.

4. You must come to her midtown hotel, either to do the work there or to get started, haul the laptops away, and return with the work completed.

If interested, please e-mail yves-at-nakedcapitalism-dot-com with “Mac consulting” in the subject line. We can discuss dates, remuneration and contact details at that point. Thanks!



Birdsong has risen like a tide of hope from our silenced cities. Is it here to stay? Guardian

‘Murder Hornets’ in the U.S.: The Rush to Stop the Asian Giant Hornet NYT (Dan K)


Man goes to clear out dead mom’s home, finds body in freezer ABC (Rocky)

Lawyer dressed as Grim Reaper stalks Florida beaches to protest reopening Independent

Norfolk police seek person dressing as plague doctor RTÉ

How climate change could make infectious diseases even more difficult to combat in the future Business Insider (The Rev Kev)

She Predicted the Coronavirus. What Does She Foresee Next? NYT (re/silC)

George W. Bush: ‘We are not partisan combatants’ in fight against coronavirus Politico

Across the World, the Coronavirus Pandemic Has Become an Invitation to Autocracy The Wire

In March, COVID-19 wiped concerts and festivals off the calendar — and that was just the beginning. Inside music’s unprecedented crisis Rolling Stone

Why the Coronavirus Is So Confusing Atlantic

There’s only one way the fight against coronavirus resembles the real wars I’ve witnessed Independent. Robert Fisk.

A New Mexico city has closed its borders to outsiders after becoming a COVID-19 hotspot  Business Insider (David L)

For introverts, lockdown is a chance to play to our strengths Guardian


The Coming Greater Depression of the 2020s Project Syndicate. Nouriel Roubini. From earlier this week; don’t recall seeing this in Links but my apologies for the duplication if we’ve posted it before.

Warren Buffett says Berkshire sold all its airline stocks because of the coronavirus CNBC


The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic could have been prevented Virology (david l). Important.

Three potential futures for Covid-19: recurring small outbreaks, a monster wave, or a persistent crisis Stat

What the Proponents of ‘Natural’ Herd Immunity Don’t Say NYT. The deck: “Try to reach it without a vaccine, and millions will die.”

Hopes for Remdesivir in the Coronavirus Fight May Be Misplaced Der Spiegel

How Long Will a Vaccine Really Take? NYT

New Advice Cautions Against Rushed Return to Diving for Coronavirus Patients Dive. I know most readers aren’t divers. Posting this for the discussion of just how sneaky this diseases can be. Diving happens to be one leisure activity for which recovered patients of a serious case of COVID-19 infection are particularly vulnerable; I’m sure w’ll find other activities as well.

Diving in the Era of COVID-19 Dive Tech. Another perspective, and discusses previous advice.

Food Security

‘We Had to Do Something’: Trying to Prevent Massive Food Waste  NYT (The Rev Kev)

U.S. Beef Output Is Down Way More Than Shutdowns Suggest Bloomberg

Class Warfare

My Retirement Plan Is You NYT (re/silC)

Obesity dangers make Covid-19 a rebuke to unequal societies FT

‘A New Low’: Betsy DeVos Sued for Garnishing Wages of Nearly 300,000 Student Loan Borrowers During Pandemic Common Dreams

Serfs Revolt

Immigrants Making PPE Strike After a Co-Worker Dies of COVID Payday Report. Mike Elk.


A State-by-State Look at Coronavirus in Prisons The Marshall Project

Kuwait Reiterates Offer to Transport Undocumented Indian Workers for Free  The Wire

35-yr-old travels 14 days to UP village from Mumbai, dies in hours Indian Express

Privacy concerns during a pandemic The Hindu

Gods in face masks: India’s folk artists take on Covid-19 BBC


Coronavirus NSW: Dossier lays out case against China bat virus program Daily Telegraph Australia (david l)

The deeper roots of Chinese demonization Asia Times. Pepe Escobar.

Donald Trump is igniting a cold war with China to win the election Independent. Patrick Cockburn.

China’s coronavirus hunters adopt Sherlock Holmes’ methods to trace patients SCMP

Tibet, China, and the violent reaction of a wealthy elite (J T McPhee)

Lego says it had nothing to do with a Chinese state media video animation attacking Trump’s coronavirus response Business Insider

And a tweet embedding the video (English version).


Europe prepares for more lockdown easing as virus hopes rise Agence France-Presse

United Kingdom

Why UK has world’s worst Covid-19 death rate Asia Times


‘No miracle’: What explains Bali’s low coronavirus cases? Al Jazeera


Donald Trump has the Saudis over an oil barrel Qantara


Four More “Exhausting” Years? Trump Reporters Mull Covering a Second Term Hollywood Reporter (re/silC)

Dan K:

Antidote du Jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. ahimsa

    Chinese state media video animation attacking Trump’s coronavirus response (Business Insider)

    Great trolling.. but, I mean, what’s to argue in this video?

    1. MLTPB

      America never said so what to it, to only a flu, or to mask wearing.

      It’s a big place full of different views.

    2. ambrit

      A classic case of “soft power” fighting among hegemons.
      Artistically, a well done video. Funny with a sting in it’s tail. I always remind myself that the term ‘propaganda’ was not always a pejorative.

      1. MLTPB

        Please don’t do a

        ‘Don’t eat bats
        So what?

        Don’t eat snakes
        So what ?

        Don’t eat pangolins
        So what ?’


        1. ambrit

          Right. I would prefer to do a “Don’t eat Furrys” video.
          I would love to do it during this year’s Worldcon in Wellington, New Zealand, but, will the physical convention be allowed this year? If not allowed, who better than a bunch of cos-play futurists to embrace a ‘virtual’ convention?

          1. Jeotsu

            Worldcon will be virtual/on-line this year. Details being worked on very actively at the moment.

            There might be a local physical Con for the folks in NZ, but much depends on how the Elimination goes over the next month or two.

            All going well I’ll be leading a couple of panel discussions! :)

            1. ambrit

              Wonderful! Will the panels also be ‘virtual?’ (Do not go the Zoom route. It may sound like a Jetson’s type of service, but I am told that it is more like an old D&D mud.)
              Keep us posted, or is there a website for informational purposes?

    3. Glen

      Good video. Perhaps American MSM can report the news this way since it has a clarity and directness that the American MSM lacks.

  2. fresno dan

    Four More “Exhausting” Years? Trump Reporters Mull Covering a Second Term Hollywood Reporter (re/silC)

    The producer continues: “It’s not a matter what his political beliefs or his ideological beliefs are. The exhaustion comes from his behaviors. That’s it. His behavior is exhausting. … I don’t I think have ever run into anybody who says they literally hate Donald Trump the man. They’re just exhausted by his behavior, and I think that’s fair. Nobody I know is openly rooting for him to lose.”
    So….the “coverage” is of “behaviors”
    Maybe, just maybe, it wouldn’t be so exhausting if “news” coverage dealt with the facts of actual laws passed, policies actually implemented, etcetera – but if news was what actually Happened, versus what was Said, there would be precious little news. How much breathless, credulous coverage of Russiagate…and than, nothing to see here. So many assertions, so few facts.
    The obvious truth is that Donald Trump is covered obsessively, only because he makes money for the media.

      1. xkeyscored

        And this CNN producer must move in rather narrow circles to know of nobody openly rooting for Trump to lose. Even if you doubt their sincerity, the entire Democratic Party is ostensibly aiming at precisely that. Or has this producer become so fascinated by Trump’s antics as to forget them?

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Because of GOP shouting, its been overlooked, but the msm has been very right wing for a long time. The msm took a nominally leftward turn in 2009, probably reeling from the shock of Herr McCain losing, a shock to the msm. They worshipped Shrub, but then followed suit with Obama. I think Obama being so right wing and expectations Team Blue was there to stay made these people take new identities. The outward Republican friends of the msm outside of Bush family loyalists may be embarrassed by Trump but he’s so close to what they want they only keep up appearances for certain circles who might be upset to find out they have a MAGA hat hanging above their jack boots.

          There is a certain amount of cultural war divides going on. The natural republicans who could care less about religion beyond uses for exploitation probably found it freeing to not to have to lug a giant wooden crucifix everywhere. Do they care if their hair dresser wants to get married in a church with a rainbow flag? And so forth. But do they care if a poor person becomes less poor?

          In short, republicans who don’t want to pretend to watch Nascar are simply upset some republicans don’t mind pretending as long as the poor are brutalized.

          1. Brindle

            Pelosi and Schumer don’t seem to be puttung up much of a fight against Republican policies that are brutalizing the poor–maybe because they basically agree with them.

              1. Kurt Sperry

                This. I think it’s a mistake to attribute personal ideology to professional politicians. They are simple whores who do as they are paid to do and it’s really that uncomplicated. If overt racism, or M4A, or anything else you could name, good or bad, got them paid most, then that’s what they’d support. Thinking a politician shares your beliefs is no less silly or deluded than falling in love with a whore. Love, beliefs and ideology have nothing to do with it. It’s business, nothing personal.

                1. hunkerdown

                  To be fair, class interest and personal ideology are hard to distinguish in the first person. They are still the ruling class and they are still acting as individual members of the ruling class. I mean, if they didn’t generally agree that commoners need to be ruled and their labor extracted for “noble” purposes i.e. the personal purposes of the nobility, they wouldn’t be sitting where they’re sitting.

                2. JBird4049

                  Yes, much of our political class is composed of professional fellators; however, like much of American society, increasing with the higher levels of class, they generally been molded into shallow thinking, even callow, narcissists with delusions of competence.

                  What is worse is that professionalism and competence are not only not rewarded, they are punished. Much as I loathe Pelosi, Schumer, McConnell, and Trump, they are also trapped in this dystopian system that rewards shallowness and greed.

              2. polecat

                It’s All a joke, and we’re the marks .. who keep being goaded into fighting each other over bullshit ‘partisan/identitarian’ issues, for Their continual gain.

            1. NotTimothyGethner

              They are Republicans too. LIke the msm ones, they don’t care if a black celebrity moves into an adjacent neighborhood. Its part of the reason their ilk is extolling Shrub today. In 8 or so years, the official Democratic response will be:

              President for Life Baron Trump would make his father ashamed if he saw Baron defecating on the steps to the capital. He would say, “sir, you have no decency.” Resist! (or whatever they’ve borrowed from Disney to be a name for the good guys.

            2. neo-realist

              Partly agreement and partly minority status on the Senate side, which keeps democrats from voting against Federalist Society reactionaries to the Supreme and the District courts.

              1. Procopius

                I would really like to see them voting against the most egregious ones. It’s only symbolic, after all, and I don’t believe their donors would mind. At least vote against the ones who have never tried a case in a court of law.

          2. xkeyscored

            Maybe, but CNN is forever attacking Trump, so I still marvel at a CNN producer claiming to know nobody openly rooting for Trump to lose. Perhaps this producer could turn on a TV and watch the drivel spewing forth from that very channel, or is that too horrible an experience to ask anyone, even a senior employee presumably at least partly responsible for it, to undergo?

            Privately, they may all not give a damn, or may all be rooting for Trump to win, but that was not the claim.

            1. Pat

              Because I am sure the guy has no idea what Jeff Zucker wants regarding Trump…not. The nameless corporate owners maybe not so much.

            2. Synoia

              A combination of eye balls, no balls and Democratic snot balls Biden their time.

    1. Watt4Bob

      So, the M$M’s excuse is the same as the Democrat’s;

      “We’re working real hard here, but it’s so exhausting!”

      All this effort is going to kill Joe Biden, and then they’ll have proof of how hard the job is, and why they have to take pause, from the fight to recuperate from all the exhaustion.

      1. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

        Joe Biden is dead already. He doesn’t need any help.

        1. edmondo

          I believe Joe Biden is hunkered down in his bunker in Wilmington, Delaware waiting for the call from General von Cuomo that the Fatherland has been secured. He and Eva Braun Biden are sitting there with a couple of loaded pistols just in case someone accidently asks him a question about his actual record over the last 50 years. He’s gone through an entire primary and some of the general election and no one seems to care that this guy will be a bigger disaster than his predecessor but will “respect norms” as he plunders America for HIS donors’ sake.

        2. BoyDownTheLane

          “… The process is actually fairly straightforward. If Biden quits the race right before the convention, delegates would select a new nominee. If he drops out right after the convention, members of the Democratic National Committee would pick their replacement candidate. 

          Who might be in consideration to become the new nominee — and who would be selected as the vice presidential running mate? Several likely combinations come to mind, starting in many minds with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, but one particular, truly out-of-the-box combination stops the discussion in its tracks: Hillary Clinton as the nominee and Barack Obama as her running mate…..”

          1. HotFlash

            This is so strange! I had heard that Americans had that gunz amendment in their c onstitution precisely to prevent government overreach.

    2. Arizona Slim

      Exhausting? Really?

      They obviously don’t remember the Nixon and Johnson years. Those two guys were REALLY exhausting.

    3. Carolinian

      Blame it on Atlanta’s (now Montana’s) Ted Turner. There was a time when American TV news was mostly confined to a half an hour per night from each of the three networks. Newspapers did the serious news. Turner’s CNN (preceded by some profitable news shows like 60 Minutes) kicked off the idea of the news as 24/7 background noise. And nobody does noise like Trump with his incessant craving for attention.

      The reality is that those “exhausted” reporters are themselves news performers (the story is after all from the Hollywood Reporter) so it’s really just a question of them being upstaged by the BIg Ego himself. Boo hoo for them.

      1. Pat

        Not entirely. Oh I am it saying that the 24 hour news cycle has not been damaging, but there was also a big switch for broadcast networks from the late sixties to the early seventies which became obvious as the decade went along. News departments were no longer loss leaders but had to be self supporting. IOW news shows had to sell enough advertising to cover their costs. The bureaus became smaller, the PR based reports more frequent, and yes the immediate scoop more important than prestigious serious reporting. And ratings became all important. None of that was Turner’s fault. Although for “breaking” news broadcast networks suddenly felt they had to compete with a cable channel that less than a tenth of their ratings.
        Sad thing was Turner was originally driven by a desire for better overall world news coverage in America. This was something that CNN did very well, even better than the broadcast networks until Turner sold his television business off and new management jettisoned most of their foreign offices for cost.

        1. Carolinian

          I wouldn’t overestimate Turner’s altruism although it is true that the real deterioration happened after he sold out to Warner Brothers.

          What I’m saying is that the whole idea of a 24 hour cable news cycle was his and that’s the reason Trump is now never far from our remote control. Fox News, MSNBC are all spawn of his concept. And this idea isn’t my own. There’s a book–forget the title–about how the incessant CNN coverage of things like Gulf War one and the OJ trial led the broadcast networks to abandon their own Murrow type standards. Yes it started before Turner (Network came out in the mid 70s) but cable news put the process into overdrive.

          1. Pat

            And it took well over a decade after CNN started for Fox and MSNBC to arrive.

            We are just going to have to disagree about what was most destructive. For me it was a combination of Media consolidation, the erosion of the requirement of the public good, all coupled with rise of short term MBA management profit expectations. Although the big one is always going to be do not disrupt owner’s profits.

            CNN was merely a good excuse. Without the requirement that news departments fund their own operations, they can ignore an upstart cable operation that still has at most 1/10 of the viewership of the least viewed network newscast. And that is after cable proliferation and only rarely. It is an excuse to dumb down and expand propaganda.

          2. dcblogger

            The finest reform Congress could do is to turn off their TV. Everybody thinks that they need cable news on all day. They don’t. Just turning off the TV would go a long way to improving Congress.

            1. polecat

              They’ just switch to video games instead. Hominids gotta nid, you know. If it’s not flint napping & atlatl chucking, it’s chest beating and fingering an e-screen while threatening to lob nukes!

            2. JTMcPhee

              But then they would miss the ego-boost of having their names and faces flashed across the tiny screen. “Dear Lord, please preserve me from becoming an unperson…”

              Or the smug satisfaction of seeing their BS (Bernays Sauce) BS sliming its way into the flaccid minds of all us paroles…

    4. D. Fuller

      Corporate media seeking sensationalism to boost ad revenue. Tabloid media that caters to the American psyche. Contributing to the breakdown of America.

      Everything was turned into dollars.

      On another note? Toothless laws passed by Congress making an act illegal. Proscribing no punishment

      I am speaking of Betsy DeVos. However, there may be one novel remedy: impeachment.

      This goes for any Administration, D or R. However, Democrats sullied that with their inane Russia!Russia!Russia! non-strategy.

      1. D. Fuller

        Addendum: By “impeachment”, I mean impeachment of Administration officials such as DeVos.

    5. ewmayer

      Yah, what they don’t say is that their own Trump obsession, TDS, RussiaRussiaRussia-hysteria-mongering, corporate and MIC-propagandizing and water-carrying for the Clintonite DNC crooks is what’s exhausting. If Trump’s behavior is what’s exhausting, why does he himself not appear especially tired?

      1. randomworker

        Well, if I could watch tv until noon every day I would look a little more refreshed.

    6. John Anthony La Pietra

      Well, they could just say they were on a break for a few years. . . .

  3. David

    You’ve likely never heard of him, but a major figure in World Music passed away yesterday.
    Idir (real name Hamid Ceryat) was a singer and composer born in Algeria, who throughout his career wrote and sung in his native Kabyle language. The Kabyle (who don’t much like to be called Berbers – it comes from the French barbares – “barbarians”) were the original inhabitants of the country before the Arabs arrived , and they cling fiercely to their own language, alphabet and culture. Like many influential Kabyle, Idir was exiled in Paris for most of his life. He was an open dissident against the Algerian regime, and a keen supporter of the Hirak the “movement” which has been shaking Algeria for the last couple of years.
    If you listen to nothing else this weekend, follow this link to his first hit and most famous song – A Viva Inouva – based on a traditional melody and the words of a courting song. .

    1. xkeyscored

      Thank you, I didn’t know about the word Berber.

      A question. Does the term Kabyle apply equally to ‘Berbers’ or ‘i-Mazigh-en’ in other parts? Wikipedia seems to suggest not, but it’s all rather confusing. If not, is there a better word than Berber?

      1. David

        I think it has done in the past. As far as I know, the word itself is a corruption of the Arabic qabila which just means “tribe”. So the qaba’il (plural) were “the tribes” that the Arabs found particularly hard to subdue during the conquests. Usually they were mountain tribes, so one informal translation would be something like “highlanders.” Given the lack of national borders at the time, the term seems to have been used indiscriminately for any group that gave the Arabs (and later the Ottomans and the French) particular grief. These days, I think, it’s largely restricted to Algeria, although the state doesn’t actually recognise the Kabylie as an administrative unit, so it’s borders are not fixed. It’s more of a cultural and geological entity.

    2. Lindsay Berge

      From Encyclopedia Britannica:

      It was the Arabs, who had enlisted Berber warriors for the conquest of Spain, who nevertheless gave those peoples a single name, turning barbarian (speakers of a language other than Greek and Latin) into Barbar, the name of a race descended from Noah.


      Berber, self-name Amazigh, plural Imazighen, any of the descendants of the pre-Arab inhabitants of North Africa. The Berbers live in scattered communities across Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Mali, Niger, and Mauritania. They speak various Amazigh languages belonging to the Afro-Asiatic family related to ancient Egyptian.

      The Kabylie are a range of mountains in Northern Algeria.

      Kabylie, also spelled Kabylia, mountainous coastal region in northern Algeria, between Algiers and Skikda. It comprises: (1) the Great Kabylie (Grande Kabylie) or Djurdjura Mountains bounded on the west by the Isser River and on the southeast by the Wadi Soummam; (2) the Little Kabylie (Petite Kabylie, or Kabylie des Babors) around the Gulf of Bejaïa (Bougie); and (3) the Collo Kabylie (Kabylie de Collo) forming the hinterland of Cape Bougarʿoun. The Kabylie is joined to the Tell Atlas on the west by the Bou Zegza Mountains.

    3. Jane Atwood

      Wow, so lovely (and their duet singing exquisite toward the end). Thanks.

    4. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Wow, incredible sounds!

      Thank u for posting!


      PS please feel free to share any other indigenous music you know of!

  4. Henry Moon Pie

    The confusing Coronavirus–

    The article is a nice summary of the many problems we’re having with understanding this virus, its effect on us and the broader implications. This was especially interesting to me:

    A lack of expertise becomes problematic when it’s combined with extreme overconfidence, and with society’s tendency to reward projected confidence over humility.

    The old American approach that classifies everything as a marketing or messaging issue is proving to be quite inadequate when it comes to dealing with this little guy.

    I would offer something else as a reason for our confusion. Any question of meaning when it comes to human existence must begin by answering the question of which preposition applies to us. Are we “of” the Earth or merely “on” the Earth? This Coronavirus is providing a definitive answer to that question but the Masters of the Universe don’t like it.

      1. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

        I keep seeing ‘debunking’ articles from Mockingbird attacking the idea it was artificially tampered with. By China or the US. Whenever you see prominent articles in the usual vectors of intel apparat disinfo, like ‘The Atlantic’ or WaPoNYT, you should give serious consideration to whatever ideas they are telling you are hokum and ‘white supremacist’ or ‘conspiranoia’ or whatever. Which is not to say people should jump onto the Q bandwagon or the David Icke handbasket to heck. Just look into it and examine why BIll Kirstol and Bill Gates are so concerned you’d give the ideas any credence. Because we know they care SO much for humanity. And stand to make NO money whatsoever!
        Evertything about this episode is proof, as though additional proof was needed that Naomi Klein’s “Shock Doctrine” is the underlying leitmotif of the archons.

        1. ShamanicFallout

          Yes, this is the one thing that is really a red flag. As you say, now, suddenly our leaders care about all of us? And want to “protect all lives’ and keep us “safe”? Huh? Since when has this ever been the case? We are reminded of Lambert’s equation here: Because Markets, go die.

  5. Bs

    The article in Virology, is in essence an article about human perfection. If humans did all the right actions, followed by all the right responses, then Covid-19 would never have happened. But, that’s not how humans work, nor is it to be expected that this state of being will be reached anytime soon. In the Long course of human history (see Jared Diamond) some things have been avoided, some things not so much. It takes several things in general for failure or success. Given Neolib and globalism if it wasn’t Covid-19 then It would have been something else.

    1. David

      Yes, I suspect we’re going to have a lot more such articles, most of which amount to “if they had only listened to me/us.” The problem is that whilst the argument may be correct in the abstract, it makes a number of assumptions that our experts can perhaps comment on. First, that a vaccine was actually possible and highly effective. Then that it would be proof against precisely this form of the disease, then that it would be available, or could have been available, in massive quantities at just the right time, whether that was ten years ago, today or twenty years in the future. I’m prepared to believe that’s so, but of course there are, and were, hundreds of other competing medical, environmental and other threats, and there always have been. Nobody knows what’s going to hit us tomorrow, and knowing that something is possible, or even likely, doesn’t help you to know when it’s going to happen. You simply can’t prepare for everything, and so far there is no foolproof way of predicting exactly what will happen and when.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        The article doesn’t even make much sense on its own terms, as its pretty clear that a treatment for coronavirus infections wouldn’t make much difference to its spread, given what we now know about symptomless super-spreaders. And while I’m not a virologist, everything I’ve read indicates that a generalist anti-coronavirus vaccine is very much a long shot, if not actually impossible. The article totally ignores the experience we’ve had so far that the best protection against highly infectious diseases are public health measures, not drugs or even vaccines.

        1. xkeyscored

          The article was talking mainly about a pan-coronavirus medicine, not vaccine, which might well have been something to aim for, given that we knew about SARS and MERS, and that we were ‘due’ for another pandemic.

          “A pan-CoV antiviral drug could have been developed through human phase I trials, and stockpiled for the next pandemic. But there was no money to support such work – neither in the halls of big Pharma or forthcoming from the under-funded NIH. It might have even been possible to make a pan-CoV vaccine, although in my view this would be much harder and less certain than a pan-CoV antiviral drug.”

          1. Rod

            I thought the Virology article was all about doing something because you had forewarning that something could occur that was preventable or controllable;

            What could have been done? To start, we should have made antiviral drugs that inhibit a broad range of bat SARS-like CoVs. One protein encoded in the genome of these viruses – the RNA dependent RNA polymerase, essential for the synthesis of all viral RNAs…

            from the Virology article:

            All of this research and more is taking place after the fact – too late to impact the pandemic. Companies are now motivated because the profit to be had is clear…We could have had so much more than this.

            is quite complimentary to that NYT’s article Preventing Massive Food Waste

            “Time is not on our side,” said Mary Coppola, a vice president at the United Fresh Produce Association, a trade group of fruit and vegetable growers and processors. “In my own personal opinion, we are not coming up with the supply-chain logistical solutions as quickly as produce is growing.”
            Some people, upset by all the food waste when families are running low, are trying to come up with other solutions.

            imo, Forethought is what you do when you are mortified (because you have had that personal experience) of the Afterthought:

            If only I had done that beforehand, this( whatever) would not be happening

            The Times article is an indictment of Society that Lacks Imaginative Solutions combined with the Will and Power to seek such.

          2. Procopius

            It might have even been possible …

            Yeah. If we had some ice cream we could have ice creal and cake, if we had some cake.

      2. MLTPB

        Simply can’t prepare for everything.

        Most of those that have done relatively better were nations with the most SARS cases and fatalities in 2002 to 2004.:

        China, Mainland
        Hong Kong

        Humans being humans, imperfect we are (Western, Russian, Madagascan, etc), a strong first impression always helps with doing better the second time.

        I believe people in Taiwan likely would humbly say that.

        1. Clive

          Plus, if you were to follow this notion of trying to do everything possible to prevent a pandemic from getting hold (which is merely just a (-nother) excuse for an outing of that old chestnut, the myth of prevention) and mitigating its severity, you’d need to look at the co-morbidities which are going to be factors, to a varying but inevitable degree, in any future public health emergency which stems from an infectious agent. These include:

          Type-2 diabetes (related in large part to obesity which is a major risk factor)
          Excess alcohol consumption
          Recreational drug use
          Poor diet (sugar and fats — factors driving overall calorific intake)
          Exercise (or lack of)

          So if in the face of obvious and sustained public non-cooperation with the well-known, well-proven public health information and guidance on these lifestyle choices (although it must be stated poverty is also a contributor, but it can’t be totally blamed for everyone’s ignoring of medical advice and deliberately doing things which are bad for them) and the equally obvious deleterious effect of this public obstinacy, just how far should our government go in moving from advising people and into forcing or coercing them into complying?

          Frankly, if government are expected to enforce the wearing of face masks, there’s no evidential, or moral-equivalence, basis for not also forcing them to quit the booze, fags and cake, too. Which is not going to be a happening public heath policy response, apart from token tinkering at some of the edges. There is simply a limit to what people will put up with, even if there is a (latent) cost.

          Plus, even if for a while future responses are lockdowns which are harder and faster than as was the case with COVID-19, I give it two or three iterations of the inevitable “next [insert infectious health issue here] scare” before we start to slacken off our resolve and we end up back to square-1 again.

          1. Monty

            Isn’t the idea of wearing a mask that there is evidence it stops you from spreading the virus to someone else?

            The public heath analogues are banning smoking indoors in public places, because of the dangers of ‘second hand smoke’, or banning drinking and driving because you might cause an accident.

            There are also public health mandates strictly for your own protection. Crash helmets and seat belts spring to mind.

            1. Clive

              Better overall population health will reduce the severity of symptoms and the consequential health service resources needed to treat them. Even a ten or twenty percent reduction in hospital admissions would significantly reduce the impact on healthcare and healthcare providers and their staff. Plus a reduction in mortality will reduce the need for such stringent and impactful lock downs.

              You can’t say “I’m happy for effective measure X to be made mandatory and strictly enforced by government and law enforcement on everyone” (implied: because I, personally, like that measure or don’t mind it) “but I’m not happy for effective measure Y to be made mandatory and strictly enforced by government and law enforcement” (implied: because I personally don’t like that measure and don’t want to have to do it).

              Or, put another way, if I give you the right to make decisions for me (and you get to choose the basis for your decision-making process) and determine my behaviours and actions (or to put limits in them), you have to give me the right to determine (or put limits on) yours. You might not like what I have in mind for you.

              But I’m not giving you one, without you giving me the other. So be cautious before you’re tempted to go down this road.

              1. Monty

                Fair enough, but I don’t think ending chronic illness is really ‘on the table’ for this crisis, and I know you’re not saying it would be. A more relevant question is, what can the UK government do to help people right now?

                I might be misunderstanding you, so forgive me if i am barking up the wrong alley.

                It sounds like you are saying it would be an unprecedented imposition for the UK government to define what is acceptable behaviour (wearing masks), for the greater good (protecting the vulnerable).

                I think there is plenty of precedent for that, it isn’t a free for all out there.

                If your avoidable behavior can directly lead to someone else’s death or serious illness, I am in favour of the government enacting laws aimed at altering that behaviour. Aren’t you?

                1. Clive

                  No, I’m saying if your avoidable behaviour or behaviours is/are leading to a societal cost which I have to bear, because that could lead to my illness or death (through you’re demanding to continue with your behaviour and, if that causes you to have a more severe illness, impair the ability to provide my healthcare because your needlessly utilising necessarily limited healthcare resources or creates a larger viral load in you which results in your greater propensity to be infectious to me) then I’m in favour of my forcing you to stop those deleterious (to you and society) actions.

                  To say otherwise is a classic anti-vax’er argument: “I don’t want to have to do something (or stop doing something) and I not only don’t care if it harms me, I expect everyone else to put up with my potentially increased infectiousness and direct causative drain on the healthcare system at what may be a time of maximum stress, and also my putting healthcare professionals in an invidious choice of not treating me because ‘I deserve it (being ill)’ or still having to treat me even though I could have reduced my risk of ending up in this position in the first place, but I chose not to”.

                  There’s plenty of precedent for that (banning or curtailing the availability of harmful substances), too. That’s why you can’t legally buy crack cocaine. But at some point, one person’s perfectly valid extension of the principle which has been established through precedent becomes another person’s gratuitous overreach.

                  1. Monty

                    OK, I think we are agreeing.

                    If you breathe out virus into someones mucus membranes, and they get sick and die, that’s a direct result of your behaviour, just like running someone down whilst drunk driving.

                    Easy to write and pass a law for this. “Wear a mask or face a penalty”.

                    “Being generally unhealthy and denying hospital space to a healthy person in the peak of a pandemic” is not quite the same, so many causal links in the chain until we get to the preventable death.

                    It’s going to be a much more difficult law to write and pass. What would the law even be?

                    1. Clive

                      No, the premise I have already defined earlier will not be devitalised by any ambiguation.

                      I get the right to tell you what measures I think you should implement, or things you’re not to do, based on such evidence base as I select and reserve the right to vary at, my complete discretion, from time to time.

                      You get to, as you are doing, the right to require the same of me.

                      We both have to agree to giving each other the same rights. Otherwise, it just wouldn’t be fair. One person could come up with their own pet evidence base — and its relevant strengths or weakness in the evidence base — for their own “must-have” measure or measures and impose it on the other. Without allowing the other person to have the same privileges. Or the right of veto.

                      If both of us are willing to accept this and is willing to, unquestioningly, abide by the other’s stipulations, then all well and good. Conversely if we, neither of us, likes that prospect, then we should both keep our yappy gobs shut and quit with the telling people what to do.

                      I am reminded here, in closing, that our first encounter with Winston Smith was at his home, practicing his daily (Ingsoc-mandated) exercise routine, observed and chastised, when necessary, by a Party overseer through the Telescreen. The Party couldn’t care less whether Smith, or anyone else, lived or died. What mattered above all was the power over him and the rest of the Proles.

                      Orwell wrote this in 1948 in as an observation and a warning about this authoritarian streak which lies hidden, but not to any great depth, lurking beneath the surfaces of our peoples and our societies. Seems like then, as now, it doesn’t take much for some individuals to grasp firmly with both hands any convenient passing opportunity to start bossing people about, all backed up by “evidence” and “wanting to do good”. Or, that useful hand-me-down “wanting to protect myself” (this last one often accompanied by “and my family”). Me, I tend to smell a rat when I see or hear it.

                    2. Monty

                      I don’t think you understand me. I am not suggesting I personally get to tell you how to behave, and I can assure you, I wouldn’t comply with your requests either.

                      I am saying that, if the law of the land mandates or prohibits something for the greater good, as they often do, you must comply or face the penalty. Nothing 1984 about it, it’s just how civilized society works.

                      That is something quite different from any obligation to abide by what any individual with a “yappy trap” wants.

                    3. Clive

                      The question isn’t about what the law (or public health stipulations) currently says or doesn’t say.

                      The question is about what the law (or public health stipulations) should or could say.

                      If you (or anyone) gets to propose a change in public health policy, especially if it is mandatory, on the basis of some evidence or other and their (often subjective) assessment where there are consequences to that measure then I also get that right.

                      My campaigning should get no special pleading entitlement. It has to stand or fall on its merits and its public acceptance (or not).

                      But the same has to be true for everyone else’s proposals for public health policy adoption. They can’t use neo-moralising or emotive force (“you must be compelled to do that / or not do that / because otherwise I think you’re a threat to me”).

                      Nor can they use the “what you’re asking for is too difficult to achieve in practice whereas what I want is nice and simple” ruse. Public health benefits are public health benefits are public heath benefits.

                      In short, don’t go lecturing people about public health policy you happen to be in favour of while living, volitionally, a lifestyle which isn’t compatible with good public health outcomes yourself. I’ve not got any major objections to anyone living any lifestyle which has any detrimental effects on public health (either as an individual or as a member of society).

                      But if they do, then they had better not have the nerve to be lecturing me on what they think I should or shouldn’t do with regards to my public health opinions and choices. Or insisting I should follow their new public health policy recommendations or demands when they themselves refuse to follow the existing ones which are there for their benefit and that of wider society’s.

                  2. xkeyscored

                    I’m not suggesting that people should take recreational drugs or have poor diets etc. But you seem to ignore the fact that the UK government is obviously deleterious in so many ways. Why would you expect people to heed the advice of those who manifestly work against their interests most of the time?

                    I’m well aware from many of your comments that you’re not an enthusiastic supporter of capitalism and all that. But if you were actively maintaining a class system that maintained your privilege at the expense of mine, why would I bother listening when you tell me such and such might harm me? When I see what you do as harming me every day?

                    Where this leaves us, I don’t know. You talk about “well-known, well-proven public health information and guidance on these lifestyle choices.” Agnotologists of my acquaintance are keen to point out that government advice on salt, fats, sugars and so on has shifted over the years, and David Nutt resigned/was sacked as the UK’s ‘drug czar’ precisely because he felt government advice was rubbish, based not on science but political whim. Our government is happy to attack Iraq or profit massively from the war on Yemen; why should I believe their sudden humanitarian concern for human health?

                    Clearly many of the ‘co-morbidities’ you mention are avoidable, on a societal or individual level, and they impact your health as well in the ways you describe. But what role can we expect or demand our government play in forcing or encouraging us to avoid them? Or, to put it another way, how can our government regain some legitimacy and credibility? Do we even want it to?

                    1. Clive

                      My main beef isn’t so much what government should be mandating. It’s far more important to be, in my opinion, incredibly circumspect about where things are demanded.

                      Conversely, if someone seizes on the Precautionary Principle as a justification for imposition of public health measures, then there’s to be no cherry picking. You start telling me to wear a mask, restrict my movements, dictate who I can see and can’t see, what I can do, where “for their protection, just in case”, then I get to say “in for a penny, in for a pound” and demand similarly precautionary measures. People may not like them. But how can they — legitimately and without hypocrisy — refuse?

                      Better, however, to not even start down that road at all, as far as I’m concerned. But many seem like they can’t wait to rush, headlong, straight into it, full speed ahead.

                    2. Monty

                      If you were an elected official with power to do so, you could demand similarly precautionary measures.

                      Otherwise you’d just be yapping.

          2. flora

            I’ll add one more co-morbidity to your list, for the US populations, at least:

            A shambolically profits-driven health care system, which many are afraid to access due to the likelihood of a bankruptcy complication.

          3. Synoia

            English joke:

            I don’t swear, drink or smoke!
            Blast, I just dropped my fag in my beer!

            In the UK, a fag is a cigarette butt.

            Twas ever thus.

            1. wilroncanada

              My mother’s version, circa 1950s Ontario, Canada.
              I don’t drink, swear or smoke.
              J**** Ch****, I left my pipe in the beer parlour.

            2. AbateMagicThinking But Not Money

              Synoia : “Fag”

              Not quite right, but close. a “fag” is a cigarette. A “fag-end” is a cigarette butt.

              Fag-end is why I read NC as in “fag-end of empire?”


              nb I think the whole anglosphere is aware of the American usage.
              ps Lets move onto “fanny”

          4. rtah100

            There is *zero* proof that obesity is a risk factor for COVID-19.

            The data from ICNARC (UK’s ICU clinician research body) show a near-perfect correlation of overweight / obesity prevalence in both the COVID-19 and historic Influenza-like illness ICU admission patients by age cohort with the Public Health England national overweight / obesity prevalence by age cohort. In plain English, the sick are as fat as the “well”.

            There is a lot of evidence that blood disorders are a major risk factor, especially diabetes which raises the risk of clotting and interferes with immune response. The higher risk in certain populations (African, Middle Eastern, South Asia) is likely related to the higher prevalence of various haemoglobinaemias (thalassemia, sickle cell) and the known differential prevalence of different ACE2 sub-types.

            Smoking appears to be protective – heavy smokers are many-fold underrepresented in COVID-19 cases (but have worse outcomes if they get it). Nicotine is now on trial (several trials in France) as a potential treatment, probably acting on the ACE2 receptors in some way (either stimulating over-production to counter viral binding or, conversely, binding to them protectively – biology is fickle!).

            So, cake and booze in moderation and nicotine patches all round.

    2. Poppajee

      Re: The “important” link to “The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic could have been prevented” article in Virology.
      Which imho is at best a shill for gain of function research masquerading as 20/20 hindsight. Thus, John Altman writing in the comments section to the article sums up his spot on critique, “I still think the onus is on GOF supporters to provide solid and specific arguments that the benefits outweigh the risks.” The fact of which I would add is layed out thoroughly and even-handedly in current discussions (linked to below here) assessing the possibility that such research at the NIH funded Wuhan Institute of Virology lead to this pandemic. In any event the thrust of Mr. Altman’s comment is worth quoting in full:
      “The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in no way proves that the moratorium on Gain-Of-Function experiments with infectious agents of pandemic potential was unwise.
      (1) We did not need GOF experiments to tell us that zoonoses of an animal coronavirus had pandemic potential.
      (2) Most GOF experiments with coronaviruses would not have permitted us to develop vaccines or therapeutics any faster than we are now doing. Consider what in hindsight would have been the most obvious GOF experiment with a bat coronavirus — insertion of a polybasic cleavage site. Acquisition of the PCS by SARS-CoV-2 almost certainly has been important for human-to-human transmission, but it’s not a useful target for vaccines and even if targeting the host-cell proteases that cleave the PCS proves to be useful, we didn’t need GOF experiments to tell us this.
      (3) If we had done GOF experiments with animal coronaviruses and found the mutated viruses to be more transmissible in an optimized animal model, it is unlikely to have had sufficient influence to increase research funding and therefore would have not increased pandemic preparedness in the way that you envision.
      (4) There’s a good argument that we should have invested more in pan-coronavirus drug development, but again, you don’t need GOF experiments for that. Maybe you need chimeric viruses for animal testing, but I don’t know if these qualify as GOF, and it’s not obvious to me that these are critical path experiments.”

      Links: (15:00-41:00 and 47:30-57:20)

    3. Charles Faris

      Yep. Typical primate behavior. Nothing survives but the way we live our lives.

    4. Mikel

      “Given Neolib and globalism if it wasn’t Covid-19 then It would have been something else.”

      And dispite all jumble of theorizing and intellectualizing about the “end of neoliberalism” it’s gone nowhere. That rebranded mix of Social Darwinism and fascism is still wreaking havoc. We’re still promoting advice from billionaires on how to save “us .

      And because neoliberalism is still doing its murderous work, there will still be somthing else…in addition to Covid.

      1. MLTPB

        The way we humans have separated ourselves from Nature, I believe this is beyond Marxism, neoliberalism, new green deals, socilaism, etc.

      2. shtove

        The last time I glanced at US cable news, I caught some tanned chap in a suit saying, “But billionaires make our lives better …”
        “No change there then”, I grumbled while reaching for the remote.

    5. Jeremy Grimm

      The one thing I take away from this article is that Medicine, Pharma, Public Health, and Hospitals have no business being in Business. They are all functions of a well-run State — if such a thing can exist. The Market values Profits not the Public Good, and goes so far as to deny that Public Good exists.

      I agree with other comments suggesting the hubris and evident self-interest in the author’s claims of what might have been if only …. But I very strongly favor that our Government cast off the Market ideas driving research contracts and begin large programs supporting grants for basic research in many areas including virology and ways organisms have developed to fight viral infection.

  6. The Rev Kev

    “Coronavirus NSW: Dossier lays out case against China bat virus program”‘



    plural ‘Cat’s-paws

    Definition of cat’s-paw

    [from the fable of the monkey that used a cat’s paw to draw chestnuts from the fire] : one used by another as a tool: dupe

    the… government became the cat’s-paw for foreign powers— D. J. Boorstin

    1. xkeyscored

      The Telegraph article may have a point about China’s hypocrisy, but it totally fails to explain why Western governments didn’t take action sooner. Are they under the thumb of Beijing? Do they usually believe everything China tells them uncritically and without question? Why did they not close their own borders to Chinese travellers earlier? None of this seems to be examined here. If they valued their trade and political relations with China over the health of their own citizens, is that China’s fault? China may indeed have wanted them to basically do nothing, but do they usually kowtow to whatever China wishes? Taiwan took firm action early on in spite of China’s statements; why didn’t others? They had access to broadly the same information, but short-sightedly tried to place profits first, it seems to me.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        The obvious defence case for Western Governments, is that they were mostly following WHO guidelines and advice, which was quite explicit that there was no need to stop travel (even while China was busy cutting off all internal flights to Wuhan). We still have to find out why WHO was so keen on parroting everything the Chinese government was saying up until it was too late.

        The countries that responded quickly were those who were observing what the Chinese were doing, not what Beijing or WHO were saying. Healthy scepticism seems to have been the most effective policy.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Could WHO’s mutterings have had something to do with those pandemic bonds that would have to be paid if a pandemic was declared? If so, the pressure on the WHO may have not been so much coming from the Chinese as major financial interests instead. Just a possibility.

          1. lyman alpha blob

            Been wondering about that too but IIRC the amount of those pandemic bonds was supposedly in the hundreds of millions of dollars, which these days is a drop in the bucket.

            But then again, we’ve seen time and time again that those in charge of institutions will go on the take for a relative pittance. Our political representation routinely sells us out for chump change.

            1. MLTPB

              A possibility remains just that.

              Something more would be convincing, if the WHO was saying no need to stop travel in Feb.

              1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                Ah yes but few recall that The Orange One put in an early ban to inbound travel from China, against the advice at the time of his public health advisors and the WHO. And was roundly ridiculed and called “rayciss!” because of it. China absolutely locked down travel to Beijing and Shanghai but outbound travel from Wuhan to the rest of the world was okey-dokey. Mm-hmm.

                And now the scion leading the world’s largest failed state (NY), with a death count rivaling entire nations like the UK and France, who was singularly responsible for the big Medicare and public health funding cuts over the last decade, is being hailed as “the guy who obviously would have done so much better”.

                Um, no.

                1. Procopius

                  Just curious. I thought I saw some articles that Andrew Cuomo was fighting mightily in Albany to get his budget passed, which includes another of his cuts to Medicaid. Right now! While he’s putting on this show about COVID-19. I haven’t seen a lot about it, just a couple of mentions and then the sound of crickets.

          2. MLTPB

            The WHO only lately reversed position on mask wearing.

            And then there is Taiwan being ostracized by the WHO.

            1. xkeyscored

              Taiwan is ‘ostracised’ by more than just the WHO.

              ” Currently fifteen states recognise Taiwan as the ROC (and thus do not have official relations with Beijing): Belize, Guatemala, Haiti, Holy See, Honduras, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Nicaragua, Palau, Paraguay, St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Swaziland and Tuvalu.”

              “The Australian Government continued to recognise Taipei until the establishment of diplomatic relations with the PRC in 1972. Australia’s Joint Communiqué with the PRC recognised the Government of the PRC as China’s sole legal government, and acknowledged the position of the PRC that Taiwan was a province of the PRC.”

              The “Australian Government does not recognise the ROC as a sovereign state and does not regard the authorities in Taiwan as having the status of a national government. Dealings between Australian government officials and Taiwan, therefore, take place unofficially. ”

              And much the same goes for most governments, I think. Unofficial contacts undoubtedly remain strong.

              1. MLTPB

                Taibei has been protesting the unofficial contacts part by the WHO.

                Whether diplomatically recognized or not, with the current pandemic, practically, it relates to, in Italy’s case, their travel restrictions on China to include Taiwan. As it turned, as far as material benefits or disadvantages, Taiwan likely saw fewer imported cases, as a result, than otherwise.

        2. xkeyscored

          And it’d be nice to know why Western governments were following WHO guidelines when they could see what China was actually doing. The USA, for example, has its own National Center for Medical Intelligence. If all they do is follow the WHO, what need does the USA have for them? And if the US is effectively pulling out of the WHO, will the NCMI be issued with televisions so they can watch the news next time something crops up?

          1. MLTPB

            The WHO should consider all the people of the world, not just those in the West.

            If the guidelines were inadequate, it’s not just about western governments doing or not doing.

      2. expose

        Let’s put two and two together here.

        Globalisation is all about insisting that China is wonderful. C’mon, man.

        Taiwan is right next door to China. Taiwan and China do not get along. Taiwan doesn’t trust China; yet it trades alot with China. It is at very high risk for any transmittable disease from China. It is very likely that just word of mouth about the virus got to Taiwan well before WHO even mentioned it.

        Now, would Taiwan believe China’s initial claim that the virus was not transmittable to humans? This claim was made on January 14 (or published on Jan 14).

        Taiwan did not buy that story. It was hit hard with SARS in 2003 and better prepared overall. It shut down trade earlier; Taiwanese were wearing face masks earlier, and so on.

        So there is your explanation. Proximity, prior bad experience, and mistrust of China.

      3. MLTPB

        This was early on. International reactions were there.

        In late Jan., US: travel restrictions.

        Beijing: that’s spreading fear, causing panic.

        Moscow, a non western government, did something similar, and is still coping today.

        Italy was also there, to include Taiwan as part of China, which Taibei protested, and responded by restricting Italian pork imports. Ironically, in light of the Italian situation post-mid Feb.

        Lack of preparedness, it would seem, has been worldwide…in all continents.

    2. MLTPB

      I doubt Xi wants to be Putin’s dupe.

      And Putin is not Xi’s tool.

      There are other combinations, I believe.

    3. Synoia

      Begs the question:

      Why is the USG being so defensive? What are they trying to hide?

      1. Monty

        Could it be outsourcing gone wild?

        This gain of function research is terrifying. It is a process of ‘upgrading’ viruses, so they can infect other species. It seems to be a matter of fact that the US gov were paying the Wuhan lab to do “gain of function” research on SARS and bat viruses…

        Quite a coinky-dink!

        1. polecat

          I’m still on the mind that this thing was out there in NOVEMBER! and i had it.. After T-day (and no, it wasn’t no undercooked bird what done it!). Fever, chills, hacking cough, TIGHTNESS of chest – THAT I have never felt before in my life ….. Authorities have ever so gradually walked this virus back weeks, if not months .. after first telling the mokes “oh no, these aren’t the symptoms your looking for .. ” They are constantly pulling out that CYA Jedi medical mind-f#ck outta their vents !

          The peter principle reigns supreme amongst these ‘organs’.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I’ll be damned. Good catch that. And ‘Two of the researchers involved in both studies, Stanford’s Eran Bendavid and Jay Bhattacharya, published an editorial in the Wall Street Journal in March arguing that stay-at-home orders were not warranted because the virus was not as deadly as first thought.’ It is like a coordinated campaign this. Authors are on that paper-

        But the UK is getting nearly 5,000 new cases a day so don’t know if their message will fly there.

        1. xkeyscored

          Other European countries are easing their lockdowns, and the UK probably will at some point. The article does make what seem to me a few good points:

          “Almost a month ago studies found that infection rates were already 11% in Robbio, northern Italy, and 14% in Gangelt, western Germany. More recently, in New York, antibody testing suggested that up to 25% of the population had been infected by late April, compared with the official tally of 1.7%.”

          “Contact-tracing makes sense when there are small numbers of cases. But it is probable that several million people have been infected in the UK, which makes it practically impossible to test on the scale required.”

          “A better approach is to utilise testing in a precise way to guide reopening. Hospitals and nursing home staff must be tested regularly to protect the most vulnerable — along with stringent infection control and far stricter hygiene measures in these facilities.

          The public should be urged to stay away from hospitals if they have Covid-19 symptoms — unless they are extremely sick — and frail people may need to be quarantined at home for longer. Further easing of the lockdown can be shaped by careful evaluation of how the epidemic develops and the hospital bed capacity.”

          1. Monty

            It just takes one infectious carrier to slip through, and it’s curtains for the people inside.

            Does the technology exist to instantly detect an asymptomatic carrier with a high degree of accuracy, in way cost effective enough to have it installed in every hospital and nursing home?

            I doubt it, and certainly not ready to be rolled out at the scale needed.

            1. xkeyscored

              No. But that applies equally to migrant agricultural workers, and how many are demanding that agriculture cease until we vanquish this virus or have 100% reliable instant tests? How many are even interested in facilities for these essential workers that allow for social distancing?

                1. xkeyscored

                  Ioannidis, like most, didn’t address the issue, at least directly.

                  But you seem in favour of continuing strict lockdowns. What’s your solution for migrant agricultural labourers? Or Taleb’s? Ban the practice until we have a vaccine? Give them decent accommodation, hygiene, sanitation and so on? I’m in no way getting at you personally, but this seems to be a question that ‘lockdowners’ generally just want to ignore, so far as I can see. Of course they want their food to be produced even while they call for maximum protection for essential workers. They know agricultural workers, like many others, aren’t getting much, if any, protection. On the contrary, social distancing is all but impossible for many, sharing showers, canteens and the like. They know many of these migrant workers are foreigners, imported to do jobs UK and US workers can’t or won’t do for those wages or in those conditions. And there it seems to end, with these valiant defenders of everyone’s health continuing to depend on others risking their health to feed them. Something seems missing to me.

                  If we ignore this issue, we might find COVID clusters popping up in rural areas least able to cope, migrant workers being decimated, food shortages, or all three. We probably will anyway, but how we manage the unlockdown will help determine how much.

                    1. Billy

                      Have able bodied, long term welfare recipients do it. If one can play basketball at midnight, then they can pick crops at dawn.

                    2. xkeyscored

                      I see we’re thinking along similar lines. I think there’s a big and obvious role for the army here. They know about setting up camps with latrines, showers, canteens and wotnot, and could learn how to do it incorporating social distancing, enhanced hygiene and so on, even if they don’t do the actual agricultural work (might be better if they’re off preparing the next camp or something).

        2. MLTPB

          10,000 new Russian cases.

          Unprepared or not, best wishes to the Russian people, and all.

            1. xkeyscored

              Ignacio is stupid, and Ioannidis ignorant. All hail Taleb, the only intellect intact!

                1. xkeyscored

                  That is highly selective quoting. You conveniently omitted what came right before: “If we assume that case fatality rate among individuals infected by SARS-CoV-2 is 0.3% in the general population and that 1% of the U.S. population gets infected….” Hardly a prediction, more a matter of arithmetic. What number would you arrive at from those assumptions?

                  And the article is full of statements that we just don’t know because the data isn’t (or wasn’t) in, so predictions and assumptions are damned hard to make. For example,
                  “The data collected so far on how many people are infected and how the epidemic is evolving are utterly unreliable.”
                  “We don’t know if we are failing to capture infections by a factor of three or 300.”
                  “This evidence fiasco creates tremendous uncertainty about the risk of dying from Covid-19.”

                  I don’t agree with everything he says, and he sounds a lot keener than me to ease or end lockdowns, but he wasn’t predicting 1% infected or 10,000 deaths. And this bit sure looks sensible to me:

                  “The most valuable piece of information for answering those questions would be to know the current prevalence of the infection in a random sample of a population and to repeat this exercise at regular time intervals to estimate the incidence of new infections.”

                  – something we’re getting a few clues about at last.

                  PS What do you make of Taleb’s attack on Ignacio? He did have some vitriol for epidemiologists.

                  1. Amfortas the hippie

                    i find that i’m pretty uninterested in taleb vs ignacio, atm.
                    But this:
                    ““The most valuable piece of information for answering those questions would be to know the current prevalence of the infection in a random sample of a population and to repeat this exercise at regular time intervals to estimate the incidence of new infections.””
                    is something i’d like to hear more about.
                    is anyone doing that?
                    random sampling?
                    the tests that are coming to mason tomorrow(administered by the national guard, no less) are still by appointment, and strongly imply that “if ya ain’t got this set of symptoms, don’t come.”
                    That’s how the testing out this way has been since we got tests…because there weren’t enough tests to go around.
                    Nevertheless…and I am NOT a statistician,lol. hated that class!), but doesn’t testing the symptomatic leave out a lot?
                    Thing I’m most worried about is asymptomatic spread.
                    Random Sampling, if done in a big enough, smart enough way, would seem to be a good thing.
                    But I haven’t seen anything about it.
                    Given, i’ve been pretty chaotic out here for some time….(add a billion or so tiny grasshoppers hatching out all over the place to the ambient Doom*)

                    (* before the new sprayer showed up, i was all over the place in the Falcon, scouting for grasshopper hotspots…where they were hatching. when they’re this small, they can’t fly and can only jump a foot or two.
                    so i identified the hot spots…their characteristics, vegetation, aridity, light exposure, etc…and was able to target those areas for particularly strong measures…
                    not anywhere out of the woods with this, but it does sort of rhyme with my understanding of countermeasures to pandemic)

                    1. juno mas

                      Tests are now free to anyone living in Los Angeles County. The data derived from that testing should close some knowledge gaps. It will take some time to do the testing as they plan to set up 40,000 (yes!) access points throughout the county.

                2. Cuibono

                  you left out the ” if we assume” preface to that comment.
                  If you watch his videos it is clear he is not claiming to know that

                  1. xkeyscored

                    He slagged off epidemiologists, apparently in general and en masse. I forget the exact word(s) he used. There was considerable pushback from many commenters regarding his arrogance or whatever they chose to call it..

                    1. emmajane

                      I don’t see Taleb putting all epidemiologists in the same basket in his quote, it is clear he is talking about Ioannidis.

                      Here is a quote from another epidemiologist in the Wired article Taleb refers to:

                      Other epidemiologists’ assessment of Ioannidis’ claim, that staying at home will likely kill far more people than Covid-19, might best be summed up the way physics giant Wolfgang Pauli is said to have dismissed the lesser work of a colleague: It’s not even wrong. To be promoted to wrong, the Ioannidis position would have to be based on data and analysis that scientists could argue over. Even allowing his 0.1 percent fatality rate for the disease—which most epidemiologists think is way too low, but not beyond-the-realm-of-possibility low—there is almost no data to go on for the likely cost in human life of the lockdown. We know Covid-19 is killing tens of thousands of people, and that staying at home is slowing the spread; but we know virtually nothing about the number deaths caused by staying at home. As such, what Ioannidis is promoting simply isn’t science, says Loren Lipworth, a Vanderbilt University epidemiologist. “It’s impossible to do that risk-benefit analysis,” she says. “It’s just relying on anecdote and common sense.” In other words, Ioannidis is pitting his gut against the collective data-driven wisdom and analysis of medicine and public health.


    1. Jeremy Grimm

      After all the nonsense about “herd immunity” I did a search on hoof and mouth disease. I am referencing the article I found because of the many interesting similarities between hoof and mouth disease and the Corona virus.

      Hoof and Mouth Disease by Dr. Richard Wallace from 2001

      “In susceptible populations, there is a high rate of illness when an outbreak occurs but the death loss is minimal. This disease primarily has severe economic implications for the livestock industries.”

      “Seven immunologic types, over 60 subtypes and numerous strains have been identified. … The disease is enzootic in many areas of the world” (enzootic: Occurring at a steady or predictable rate in animals of a specific geographic area; endemic. Used of a disease.) [where outbreaks are] “sporadic to more or less continuous and appears to be related to the efficacy of available vaccines and the proportion of the susceptible animal population immunized. … The emergence of a field strain of virus quite different from that in the vaccine being used” … [or outbreaks in a] “naive population” can generally affect over 90 percent of that population. “The most common means of infection is by the inhalation of virus-containing aerosols. … The virus can also cause degeneration of heart muscle, which may result in sudden death of the host. The virus can be found in all parts of the body during the viremic stage of the infection.”

      “the virus [can] multiply in the pharyngeal region of vaccinated or even recovered cattle … the virus [can] persist … for weeks or even months after all lesions have healed. Much circumstantial evidence shows that the persistently infected animals, referred to as carriers, can transmit virus to other animals and thereby cause new outbreaks of disease, but such transmission has not been shown under controlled laboratory conditions.”

      “There is no known treatment for Hoof and Mouth Disease[HMD]. … Vaccines to control HMD are used in many parts of the world. Because vaccinated cattle can be infected even when exposed to homologous virus strains, HMD is seldom, if ever, eradicated by vaccination alone.”

      Although this information is a little long in the tooth, I don’t believe much has changed since 2001. If it is discovered that Corona is anything like Hoof and Mouth Disease … perhaps it may be a little early to lift the lockdowns.

    2. Aumua

      Listen, proles. The ruling class really needs you to get back to work now, ok? Our wealth and power depend on it so chop chop. Stop being lazy. We’re not going to give you any more more money. We’re not going to stop rent payments. You will make your own masks out of whatever materials you can find, and the insurance administrators will make sure you get some % of your medical bills payed if you do get sick. Thugs with assault rifles will be on hand to make sure regional governors comply with the push to get our economy working for us again. That will be all.

  7. LawnDart

    On the more personal level, this addresses how to deal with people who might be in your immediate life who are taking advantage of #COVID-19.

    Yes, Family Courts will become much busier– I, for one, amongst them. I have been watching this closely over the past several weeks, because my daughter’s mother has refused me any contact (not even telephone!) with my kid (I’ll let the courts figure that one out) since the beginning of March.

    A lot of people are taking advantage of this virus to take advantage of others: landlords asking for “favors” in lieu of rent, big corporations claiming small business funds, snake-oil salesmen…

    On this, the child-visitation/child-custody side, be advised that the courts seem to recognise that COVID-19 is NOT an excuse to interfere with visitation and shared custody arrangements, and that for time lost or interfered with with, “make-up” time will be awarded. From the research that I have done, this seems to be very consistent across the country.

    I hope that this helps anyone who may be dealing with a similar situation right now.

  8. The Rev Kev

    “Man goes to clear out dead mom’s home, finds body in freezer”

    Wait, the body has been stored in a freezer there for maybe ten years? That would make it since about 2010 that. Was he perhaps a census-taker for the United States Census of 2010? Was there an empty bottle of Chianti in that apartment? Maybe an empty packet of fava beans too?

    1. timbers

      I see a movie sequel – something about Hannibal’s previously unknown female companion, lover, soulmate.

      1. a different chris

        I like my movie idea even better: This particular Hannibal meets an seemingly average intelligence, mousy-personality female that he wines and dines and — the tables are suddenly turned. Maybe he ate her fiance or a family member a long time ago.

        He winds up in the freezer because she can’t prove what she knows – and even if she could, murder is murder – so she just has to hide the body for the rest of her life.

    2. edmondo

      That story has been completely debunked. It seems Joe Biden used to sleep in the woman’s freezer so that he wouldn’t get any wrinkles on his 77 year old forehead. You can bounce a quarter off that thing.

      1. Synoia

        I was under the impression Biden’s freezer was to keep certain body parts healthy and stiff.

  9. Wukchumni

    Had our second family Zoom get together, and have decided i’m a much better killjoy via e-mail, versus laying it out in person.

    Our ill-fated family cruise was to happen a month from now, and one of my sisters was cautiously hopeful it might still occur, and another mentioned how she’d love to come see mom (who is a prisoner of xenda @ her assisted living place on the 2nd floor and can’t be seen in person) on her 95th by flying from Az to LA, and the return trip had her going from LA-LV-Den-Tucson. no direct flights-fancy that.

    I’d dread going on even 1 flight now, she wants to hop on 5 planes playing rushing roulette to be able to be in the alley 15 feet below mom’s 2nd story apartment window, WtF?

    A couple of my sisters practically lived up in the ether @ 600 mph, one ended up with a tally of around 120 countries visited, while the other was an important cog in hospital computer capacity and was on a plane across the country at least 4 days a week.

    Nobody really wanted to talk of anything of substance, all fluff and no circumstance filled the hour long video show, starring us. I was complicit in complacency, you can lead people to knowledge but you can’t make them think it, if it bothers them.

    I’d mentioned awhile back in an e-mail to the world traveler, that she might want to catch a last flight, as I felt the airlines would be out of business soon along with Boeing & Airbus, sans government support, and in our family conversation she brought it up with kind of a ‘this is what maybe crazy brother said’ with a chuckle, it got a few laughs.

    The denial was undeniable…

    I felt as if I was in It’s a Good Life, and the only thing missing was the all grown up version of Anthony Fremont leading us down the primrose path from his perch on 1600 Pennsylvania~

  10. Alice X

    The Nouriel Roubini piece was well worth re-reading. He does posit the possibilities of debt-deflation or stagflation. Not sure how that works at the same time. Add to that today’s piece on Laura Garrett to round out the Cassandra wing and throw in a piece from several weeks ago with Michael Hudson for distant historical
    perspective – – and voilà – let’s meet at the (virtual) bar.

    I wish I could help Yves with the laptops, I’m big on legacy Macs. Why can’t we have an economic system not based on planned obsolescence? Oh, wait.

    1. TXMama

      It seems that Roubini does not subscribe to the MMT school of economics. Or am I missing something?

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        That was my impression also. I also missed any mention of the huge restructuring of the US economy which Michael Hudson predicts will be the end result of the CARES Act and its coming sequels. Roubini seems to predict that generally ‘bad’ things will happen because of ongoing economic policies and the disturbances caused by things like the Corona virus. That seems likely — how could anyone see other than dark shapes in our future? — but I don’t see the same shapes in the future that Roubini sees.

        1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          Basically an Economy built around the workers home. No retail stores. No movies. Only big chains. The time of the Robber Barons has come again. Ugh time to be a Citizen again and dust off those century old books…

      2. jaaaaayceeeee

        It doesn’t matter whether Roubini is ignoring MMT (or mention the need for single payer health insurance, employment protection, public investment, bailing out of states and cities, etc that got us out of the Great Depression). He’s warning of the results of not following Stiglitz’s advice (below).

        I think, that just like before 2008, when Roubini didn’t talk about deregulation/regulation of the financial sector, but instead said a whole lot more was going down than a housing bubble, Roubini is not going to talk about policies to extend unsustainable status quo’s and stop good policy (I knew we were doomed when corporate media had to black-out Jayapal’s and Sanders’ “Health Care Emergency Guarantee Act” that says add a billing code to Medicare for Covid 19 temporarily. Just ignore the unneccessary deaths and costlier rentier protection).

        I think he might be right to coin the phrase “Greater Depression” although I hope I am wrong. In a world where hospital staff is laid off because profits are down, Betsy DeVos is garnishing the wages of workers with student loans, local governments and the administration are getting people to go to work by stopping their unemployment not getting them PPE, and investors are eyeing all the public goods they can scoop up, it’s going to get ugly.

        If Nouriel Roubini is right to predict what he wants to call the “Greater Depression”, lets hope it helps us ask policy makers if they really want to go down in history as Hubert Hoover vs FDR.

        I’d rather call it “Medieval 2020’s” but what’s important is the 21st century medieval age we’re facing, because nobody with policy making power is listening to Stiglitz’s 4 priorities:

        “…Though Congress has intervened with trillions of dollars in stimulus and relief, these rescue packages have been poorly designed. Cash and unemployment benefits will likely run out before the crisis is over; state and local governments, facing increasing expenses and declining revenue, are not receiving the funds they need; the “payroll protection plan” is both inadequately funded and illequipped to reach those who most need protection.

        We should not mistakenly renew and extend the existing programs that have serious design flaws. It
        is not too late to make different policy choices. This issue brief recommends four:

        • Reducing contagion and containing the pandemic with further support for our health care and
        social insurance systems, including paid leave;
        • Funding state and local governments;
        • Keeping workers in jobs with a paycheck guarantee program that sends money straight to
        firms to support their workers; and
        • Providing broader-based liquidity and debt relief for individuals and households.

        Given continued uncertainty, and our weakened initial conditions, a failure to correct existing design
        flaws in the current federal packages threatens our overall economic and physical health.
        The macroeconomic consequences could be dire and long-lasting….”

    2. periol

      “I wish I could help Yves with the laptops, I’m big on legacy Macs. Why can’t we have an economic system not based on planned obsolescence? Oh, wait.”

      Yeah, I’m on the wrong coast or I would help. Sitting here running 10.11.6 on this machine, 10.6.8 on my desktop in the other room. I refuse to move on – the 10.7 update destroyed some key functionality for some of my software, and I have seen nothing in more recent updates to justify making the move. Why slow down my machines?

      Really sick of these updates that add little-to-no actual value but cripple functionality. It’s not just Macs, it’s everything tech. The only good updates I get are for my newer music gear – every update improves the functionality in tangible ways. Just a different business model I guess…

      1. Alice X

        I’m on 10.12.6 with my 2012 Mini, I have Parallels installed which can run OS 10.7 through 10.15, the latter for the one app that requires it. I can also run XP through Windows 10, Ubuntu or even Android. So for some time I have hung onto to each machine past the point that I can sell it for anything, or able to do much new. But they still work fine for what I originally used them for.

        I have 10.6 on another machine to run Omnipage X, which after twenty years is still great.

        I even have a 2002 Quicksilver which will boot System 9 and print to my twenty five year old Laserjet. If I’m not in a hurry. I can scan with my twenty plus year old tabloid scanner, which is still perfectly usable (only the interface is obsolete).

        We have an insane economic system.

    3. John Macrae

      from Roubini:

      “Blue-collar workers and broad cohorts of the middle class will become more susceptible to populist rhetoric …”

      Condescending, much?

        1. Ignim Brites

          Actually “depression” may be a little to mild insofar as it implies a kind of stasis, as suggested by the notion of an L shaped recovery. Maybe something like the Unending Descent. It might be that it won’t be until we hear characterizations like this that we can even begin to think of the possibility of recovery.

      1. jaaaaayceeeee

        The 21st century medieval age, and we’ll lose a lot more than the ability to fabricate glass.

  11. Monty

    What the Proponents of ‘Natural’ Herd Immunity Don’t Say

    The argument I see over and over in the last few days is something like:

    “*Shrugs*. They are going to die anyway, why should we suffer too.”

    Once people were indoctrinated to believe they were not personally at risk of dying of Covid19, because they were not 80+ and in a nursing home, they stopped caring.

  12. Eustache de Saint Pierre

    I may be wrong but the Asia Times NHS piece appears to me to be a stealthy hatchet job, which attempts to ease the Gov off the hook. No mention of the ignored Cygnus pandemic exercise & that the Tories plan were based on an influenza event, failed antibody testing, underfunding, privatisations & underpaid demoralised staff. Cummings infiltrating Sage, under reporting of deaths, lack of masks & PPE resulting in now over 100 deaths in medical staff with Boris missing Cobra meetings being just some of the failures that come to mind.

    I suspect it is part of the inevitable push to label the whole fiasco as a failure of publicly funded infrastructure, so as to allow in those privateers who of course have our best interests at heart.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      It also compares raw death figures, which are quite likely to be distorted by the UK’s slow response to testing. I think it will be a long time before we find out the real ratio of infections to deaths.

      Having said that, recent figures indicate that the death rate in the UK is something like 5 times that of Ireland, which is a quite remarkable difference given the similarities between the countries. Especially as the border areas are a particular hot spot in Ireland, indicating that infection rates are much higher even in rural/small town parts of the UK.

      It seems however quite clear so far that the UK has handled it less well than most countries, which is particularly depressing considering that a couple of decades ago the UK was considered a world leader in infectious disease control – I suppose arguably a legacy of imperialism, as stopping all its soldiers dying of the weird and wonderful infections they picked up as they conquered the world was considered pretty important. The fault seems to go from top to bottom, although I suspect the NHS response will need looking into as well – from indirect contacts I’ve had with people who’ve worked both sides of the Irish Sea, the NHS seems to have been quite slow off the mark compared to Ireland, which is remarkable for those of us who have observed the ineptness of the Irish health system at work for many years.

      1. xkeyscored

        It’s a bit unrelated, but I wonder why South Korea is referred to as “the global gold standard for testing.” From what I can see, it’s tested around 1% of its population, compared to around 5% in Iceland.

        1. sd

          Population size plays a part.
          Iceland – population 360,000
          South Korea – population 51.6 million

          1. xkeyscored

            In that case, why isn’t the USA ‘the gold standard’ for testing? More tests + bigger population.

            1. sd

              Because we don’t make anything any more including any of the pieces and parts that go into tests. Regaents, swabs, tubes, it’s all manufactured elsewhere.

              1. xkeyscored

                What’s that got to do with it?

                If being ‘the gold standard’ is about population size or sheer number of tests, the US beats Iceland and South Korea. If it’s percentage of population tested, Iceland beats the other two. So why is South Korea ‘the gold standard’?

                1. PlutoniumKun

                  To be fair, I think the issue is not the number of tests carried out, but how they are doing it. The South Koreans seem to have been most effective at ensuring that those who needed tests, got them, and that the data from those tests was used most efficiently to build up a bigger picture of the spread of the virus.

                  The South Koreans also it seems benefited from having a large number of small suppliers, so they were able to quickly work out which tests were most accurate.

                  1. MLTPB

                    How much of S Korea being more organized for this is related to their preparing for N Korea?

                    1. c_heale

                      Not very much imo. They did really badly with MERS. And MERS, having a different government, and already having infection control happening in December, due to African Swine Fever has more to do with it. Long term I think because the country has a long history of coping with disasters and invasions and the people have a collective mentality they are maybe psychologically better able to deal with this kind of situation.

        2. Monty

          Because testing is just one part of the solution, the other parts that made Korea the gold standard were: tracing and testing the contacts, then isolating the infectious people, so they don’t infect anyone else.

          You can test till the cows come home, but all you are really doing is generating statistics, if the infectious are not isolated.

      2. Eustache de Saint Pierre


        Agreed on all of that – in NI according to a recent report I read here in Northern Ireland we are somewhere between the mainland & the Republic, with apparently 2 thirds more cases than ROI, which I hope stays that way. I get on pretty well with some the staff of the local Sainsbury’s & so far so good none of them have become afflicted, which I believe is a good sign as they are obviously in a fairly vulnerable position.

      3. Oregoncharles

        P.K. (and Eustache): that reminds me; what’s the border area like, now that the UK is no longer in the EU? Aside from infectious diseases slipping across – maybe a sign there isn’t much border control?

        We should be seeing hints o fjust how that’s going to be handled.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          The border regions within the Republic are a major hotspot of Covid cases, which has led to suggestions that the Republic is seeing an overspill in those areas from higher UK levels of infections (this is strongly denied by the NI authorities, but the reality is that because they were slow on testing they don’t have the same level of data as exists south of the border.

          Its also been noted that there are much higher levels of traffic movements in NI and the border areas than anywhere else on the island. My guess is that a lot of individuals are arbitraging the rules on both sides of the border to justify breaking the informal rules, possibly leading to a higher risk of the infection spreading.

  13. Mark Gisleson

    Feeling tremendous solidarity with Yves and OS 10.11.6. Apple no longer respects the desktop, this is the last best OS we got!

    But no, you do not want me for a tech guru. And you probably shouldn’t tell your tech guru what I told mine (over an unrelated issue but the fact remains he is no longer my tech guru).

    1. Bugs Bunny

      I’m running 10.14.6 and I’m not moving.

      Installed Catalina and it broke everything. I looked into getting new software to replace what broke and it’s either moved to subscription or out of development. Funny how that works, isn’t it?

      Uninstalled. Thank heavens I took notes on how to reverse the update before trying it.

      As for Yves dilemma, I sympathize. Time Machine used to allow one to make a backup and clone across multiple Macs. Not sure if that works anymore. I’ll stop the unsolicited advice here.

    2. flora

      Couple things:

      1. both Apple and Microsoft used to plan for 2 years (or more) between Op Sys larger upgrades or newer versions. That gave developers time to work out most of the bugs and make sure compatibility with existing newer versions of software wasn’t a problem. Withing the past 4 years or so, both companies have gone to the 1 year upgrade, or even 6 months upgrade cycle. Not enough time to work out the bugs. They’re letting their marketing depts rush ahead of engineering, imo. It’s the great marketing rush to push users into their cloud environoment – a new market. (The Win 10 upgrades have been particularly problematic.)

      2. Apple had a fairly silent or unadvertised (to end users) determination to make all its software 64bit (not 32bit) compatible with the upgrade to Mojave. The problem with that was 32bit software that worked perfectly in Sierra or Mojave, for example suddenly didn’t work in Catalina, with no error code that made clear why it didn’t work.
      So, if a user was running a 32bit version of, say, Office 2016 or Photoshop or Illustrator that worked in Sierra or Mojave, and it stopped working in Catalina, that’s probably the reason it failed to open, but it could take some research to figure that out. Once the user did figure out the 32bit code was the problem, then the problem becomes getting new, 64bit versions of the 32bit apps. $$ (And, I agree that Yosemite, 10.11 , was the last good non-cloud-centric Mac OS. )

      1. flora


        compatible with the upgrade to Mojave
        should read
        compatible with Catalina

      2. David

        Well, I was getting virtually daily warnings about the movement from 32 to 64 bit software for at least two years before the change, and suggestions to move to 64bit versions, which became increasingly available. Everyone I know with a Mac had the same experience, and software that wouldn’t run on Catalina was marked as such.

      3. Basil Pesto

        might there some kind of emulator that lets 32 bit software run on the 64 bit OS? would that even be possible?

        1. flora

          The only info I’ve seen suggests either setting up a virtual machine (VM) – aka a machine emulator – or using a secondary partition for a dual boot setup. I haven’t tried either method to run 32bit on Catalina. Here are a couple how-to link for those interested.

          The first link uses Parallels for the VM, Good program, $$. (Avoid any “free” download sites. Oracle’s ‘free to try’ for a timelimit is OK.)
          The second link uses VirtualBox for the VM. Good program. Free for personal and educational use.

          1. flora

            Oracle’s ‘free to try’
            should read
            Parallel’s ‘free to try.’

            (Oracle’s VirtualBox is free for personal & educational use.)

  14. Wukchumni

    A friend was in on a conference call with the Superintendent (a great one, we’re lucky to have him around these parts) discussing the potential opening of shuttered Sequoia NP, and all the complications of Covid-19, including the 2 most popular and congested areas-Sherman Tree & Moro Rock, along with what will become of the excellent in-park bus shuttle system which would require a lot of social distancing to the point where visitors might wait hour/hours to be able to utilize them when it gets busy?

    Might be a phase 1 opening in 3 weeks with very limited everything, and seeing as people in the Big Smokes (sorry Sydney, your old moniker seems out of date) are going stir crazy now, imagine the pent up desire to get out of dodge by then?

    It’ll be interesting to see how it goes, in this not so brave new world.

  15. The Rev Kev

    “Birdsong has risen like a tide of hope from our silenced cities. Is it here to stay?”

    With the dragon-sound of traffic missing, it is remarkable the bird sounds that can be heard now. Ones that you normally would never hear. But last night I discovered something else that I had forgotten which is this. It is sometimes good to go out at night and simply look up at the stars in the sky. No matter how many changes have taken place in your life, they are always there and on a moonless night are spectacular.

    1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Heck Yeah they are!

      My go to is always Orion cuz I grew up at the intersection of Feronia and Orion except where I come from people called it Or-eee- ahn. Weird right? It’s because whenever locals say the street name to companies or whatever on the phone our mail would say O’Ryan. Lol Also cool cuz there are alot of Classical Names from Antiquity like Hesiod, Homer, Demosthenes, Nero, Orion, Aurora, etc!

  16. tegnost

    “The Trump administration is taking money from borrowers who are living on the edge of poverty, in the middle of a pandemic, and in violation of the law,” said Seth Frotman, executive director of the Student Borrower Protection Center, which is supporting the lawsuit. “This lawsuit shines light on how she has been operating a student debt collection machine that is accountable to no one—and it must be stopped.”

    Well she could be accountable to a bankruptcy judge……..if that was allowed
    I’m sure biden would just forgive it all because dems are more competent managers
    Oh by the way I have for sale very cheaply a bridge that goes to brooklyn

  17. Phacops

    Re: Covid and Diving

    The UK article is a sobering one. Lung fragility and gas permeability are aspects that one is always mindful of and the stress of emergency can exacerbate. While not an especially active diver (340 dives) in two instances I assisted divers in emergency ascents where barotrauma was a possibility and decompression at the recommended 15 foot safety stop could not be completed. I am also conscious of safety as I have Type II Diabetes and high blood pressure, both controlled, but have been diving with that for 20 years. Still, I see my primary care physician before any multi-day dive trip.

    The only good news in the article is that use of oxygen enriched air EANx (Nitrox) is still OK. I use it as an additional safety factor at my age. I’d hate to give up diving before one last trip on the reefs that are so filled with life and where special sights keep on popping up.

  18. NotTimothyGeithner

    Can we all agree these stupid parades for children’s birthdays (not the sick kids) are just awful? Oh no, they didn’t get to eat their card board at Chuck E Cheese!

    I guess people make a big deal for birthdays. Mine is the week of Thanksgiving which gets better as you get older. Oh, I would love to help, but its my birthday. Yeah, holiday birthdays…yeah they are terrible…I’m going to go somewhere else.

    1. Oh

      I’d rather stay home too than go to someone’s place and watch them stuff their pie holes.

  19. The Rev Kev

    “A New Mexico city has closed its borders to outsiders after becoming a COVID-19 hotspot”

    This pandemic is starting to resemble nothing less than a major bushfire like the ones we had in Oz a coupla months ago. When one goes through an area, firefighters have to patrol for what are called “spot fires”. Fires that are created by flying embers and sparks. It is like this here. You had an ember get into this town and now you have to have an emergency response before it flares up into a major conflagration. You look at a map and you can see this virus spread as individuals spread to other towns like embers or sparks. It is remarkable how it spreads so rapidly when it is in the right place. One person carrying the virus went into a aged care facility in western Sydney and you now have over sixty cases (nearly half of whom are staff) and fourteen dead.

      1. xkeyscored

        If the US and UK followed that advice, they’d have to come up with a way to restart their agricultural production other than using migrant labour.

        “1) Relax restrictions locally by geographically isolated regions (not by industry group, trade or occupation).

        2) Assure that travel restrictions prevent new cases from entering. Fines or repatriation may help reduce the motivation to sneak in.”

    1. Procopius

      Are walled towns the wave of the future? I think just a palisade, or, if we don’t have enough trees to build palisades, a chain link fence? And then maybe fences like those Trump wants. And then, because those are so easy to cut through, walls of brick? It would provide a path to job guarantees, too, as you could hire the homeless to guard the walls.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        Octavia Butler’s Parable series, written in the early 90s, is set in California in the 2020s. Environmental deterioration, corruption and social dissolution have all but destroyed local law enforcement, so people construct palisades around suburban neighborhoods and establish local defenses.

        Spoiler alert: the local fortresses don’t work. Crazed mobs destroy and burn them.

  20. rowlf

    Warren Buffett says Berkshire sold all its airline stocks because of the coronavirus CNBC

    A few weeks ago I was puzzled by my company and stock buybacks, as the executives were unfashionably conservative in running the company (to the point my LBO PSTD was acting up). I had speculated the stock buyback fad was maybe due to external pressure.

    While the CNBC puff piece does not mention it, a parallel article in the Weekly World News, er, Zerohedge, pointed out how much of a cheerleader Warren Buffett was for stock buybacks.

    Here is article from Market Insider on Buffett being a fanboy for unhealthy capitalism:

    5 reasons Warren Buffett loves stock buybacks, which US lawmakers plan to suspend for companies they bail out

  21. jef

    Acting cavalier about or even outright denying an imminent threat makes that threat ever more destructive.


    We can’t tell the complete truth about climate change because people will get scared and not do anything or we can do like the world has done with the virus and tell everyone that the fate of humanity depends on us doing most of what we are now doing and then some. Soon we can add back in social gathering in all its forms and gradually engineer a better future.

    Don’t say it can’t be done because it is being done.

  22. Olga

    Not sure this has been posted:
    “In reality, the dream was always an illusion, and its collapse was already underway. That’s because oil fracking has never been financially viable. America’s energy independence was built on an industry that is the very definition of dependent — dependent on investors to keeping pouring billions upon billions in capital into money-losing companies to fund their drilling.”

    1. MLTPB

      Speaking of fracking or drilling, hope they can get the huge wildfires in Siberia under control soon, and no drill sites are nearby.

      1. Oregoncharles

        I keep seeing references to those wildfires. Do you have a link on them? I’d like to learn more.

        1. MLTPB

          I’ve seen headlines from articles from, Siberian times, moscow times, gizmondo, using search terms ‘wildfires siberia.’

          From 6 days ago,, headlined, wildfires in siberia bring more challenges to lockwed down area, for example.

  23. Loran Davidson

    The Historicly article on Tibet and China sure smells like the usual PRC propaganda regurgitated into “fact”. As I have had the good fortune to study with several Lamas, and also have a number of Tibetan friends, I trust their assessments that the “serfs” were free to move to other jobs, in part because many men joined the monasteries; hunger was seldom a problem, and many Tibetans often went on lengthy pilgrimages of up to a year or more, generously encouraged and supported by the local villagers.

    The article condescendingly paints Richard Gere as a fantasist, in love with “Shangri-La”…I know Richard, he often came to study with my Lama, and is a long time practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism, as well as a friend of the 14th Dalai Lama. Tibetan Buddhism has been well accepted as a branch of philosophy and religious studies in many universities, and was well known, with many students, in the West way before Mr. Gere mentioned it. I see no mention of the 14th Dalai Lama’s 1989 Nobel Peace prize either,in recognition of his nonviolent campaign to end the Chinese domination of Tibet. It’s well known that nearly all Tibetans hope for an independent country, and many still remain in refugee camps in India.

    Yes, Tibet was a feudal theocracy, and suffered from internal conflicts, but China is the armed invader in this story, and post invasion, created gulags of monks, nuns and others who opposed the takeover of their country. Over the years,many thousands of Tibetans died in these gulags, which also enforced slave labor of the worst sort on the prisoners, as well as the most meager and contaminated food. I have met former monks and Tibetan medical doctors who finally escaped from these horrors, but their numbers are few.

    “In August 1950, the PLA crossed over into Tibet:” – this is a flaccid euphemism for an armed invasion and a land grab by the PRC. Another very telling example of the dismal level of research and understanding of Tibet in Historicly is the “example of a monastery” photo which is actually the Potala Palace, residence of the Dalai Lamas! So much for accuracy.

    If of interest, The Office of Tibet offers a quite different view of Tibet’s history:

    A Historical Overview of Tibet by Michael Van Walt Praag

    (This short excerpt shows the violence that the PRC used from the start):

    The Invasion of Tibet

    The turning point in Tibet’s history came in 1949, when the People’s Liberation Army of the PRC first crossed into Tibet. After defeating the small Tibetan army and occupying half the country, the Chinese government imposed the so-called “17-Point Agreement for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet” on the Tibetan government in 1951. Because it was signed under duress, the agreement lacked validity under international law. The presence of 40,000 troops in Tibet, the threat of an immediate occupation of Lhasa, and the prospect of the total obliteration of the Tibetan state left Tibetans little choice.

    As open resistance to the Chinese occupation escalated, particularly in Eastern Tibet, the Chinese repression, which included the destruction of religious buildings and the imprisonment of monks and other community leaders increased dramatically. By 1959, popular uprisings culminated in massive demonstrations in Lhasa. By the time China crushed the uprising, 87,000 Tibetans were dead in the Lhasa region alone, and the Dalai Lama had fled to India.

    In 1963 the Dalai Lama promulgated a constitution for a democratic Tibet. It has been successfully implemented, to the extent possible, by the Government-in-exile.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Yes, the article is a tiresome collection of random factoids and quotes twisted to support the conquest and suppression of the Tibetan people. There may be an overly romanticised view of Tibet in the West, but that should not in any way detract from the ongoing oppression of the Tibetan people.

      1. Olga

        For a more nuanced view than LD’s comment above:
        “Tashi Tsering, now an English professor at Lhasa University is representative of Tibetans that do not see China’s occupation as worse tyranny. He was taken from his family near Drepung at 13 and forced into the Dalai Lama’s personal dance troupe. Beaten by his teachers, Tsering put up with rape by a well-connected monk in exchange for protection. In his autobiography, The Struggle for Modern Tibet, Tsering writes that China brought long-awaited hope when is laid claim to Tibet in 1950.”
        “Yes, Tibet was a feudal theocracy, and suffered from internal conflicts,..”
        well, “internal conflicts” is sure doing a lot of work there…
        I don’t know if one can claim to being an expert by “studying with Lamas,” not the least because Lamas were part of that feudal, oppressive system.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          ‘I for one, welcome our new insect overlords’.

          Plenty of prominent Afghans welcomed the US invasion because they hated the Taliban. Plenty of Iraqis actively advocated for the US intervention. Numerous wealthy and educated Iranians are part of the campaign for the US to attack and invade Iran. Indian nobles aided the UK annexation of India. There has scarcely been an invasion in history that wasn’t welcomed by someone who hoped to profit, or had a grudge against the existing order.

      2. orlbucfan

        Thanks for the clarification of the Chinese invasion and occupation of Tibet. I scanned the article and my skepticism grew as I kept reading.

        1. MLTPB

          From Beijing’s viewpoint, they seek to recover as much as possible what was lost in the 19th century.

          And they got many islands back from Russia, following the 1969 conflict.

          Maybe one day, Vladivostok too.

          Consistent with this view is China’s recovery of Tibet, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao. Also consistent is the absence of claim to, say, Singapore.

          I think the CCP could make a case (based on consistency of the argument, not necessarily on merits) for Mongolia, as the ROC did.

          Perhaps also (on consistency, of the territories of the Qing dynasty) on Okinawa, Korea and Viernam.

          Not that I advocate these positions myself.

          1. Oregoncharles

            However, they insist on Imperial claims that are completely illegitimate by modern standards – like the famous “dashed line” that claims the entire S. China Sea.

            1. ambrit

              I imagine that China plays by the old ‘Realpolitik’ rules. If they can get away with something, then it is “legal” by default.

      3. Olga

        Puzzling to see that my comment with a different view got stuck in moderation. Tibet is a much more complex issue than “China bad.” There is a good article on this topic in the 2/11/09 Guardian.

    2. Oregoncharles

      Thank you. You could also mention that the Chinese moved in great numbers of Han Chinese colonists, into an area with severely limited resources, which previously had been relatively prosperous – more so than China itself. That will create the usual nightmare if Tibet ever approaches independence, and in the meantime constitutes a massive theft of Tibetan resources.

      Tibet, like Sinjiang, was conquered. The purpose and effect of conquest is theft; it’s a form of murderous armed robbery. China is an empire and behaves accordingly. Not that the US is better.

    3. Alex

      This is a familiar imperial trope, just like (some) British would claim their occupation of India was net positive and (some) Russians would say the same about the Russia’s role in the Caucasus and Central Asia.

      To a certain extent it’s true – some of the more barbaric customs *were* ended by imperial/colonial administrations – but usually the well-being of the locals was the last item on their agenda.

    4. heresy101

      The article represents American’s future after the coronavirus. This is not CCP propaganda, but a description of the serf/slave situation of the masses under the 1% represented by the Dalai Lama. At the end of the article, author revealed that he used that Communist source of propaganda – the CIA – for much of the political background:
      “You can download all the documents from the CIA I used to write this piece here.This memo was especially illuminating for me in writing this piece.”

      Check out Michael Parenti:
      “Until 1959, when the Dalai Lama last presided over Tibet, most of the arable land was still organized into manorial estates worked by serfs. These estates were owned by two social groups: the rich secular landlords and the rich theocratic lamas. Even a writer sympathetic to the old order allows that “a great deal of real estate belonged to the monasteries, and most of them amassed great riches.” Much of the wealth was accumulated “through active participation in trade, commerce, and money lending.” 10

      Drepung monastery was one of the biggest landowners in the world, with its 185 manors, 25,000 serfs, 300 great pastures, and 16,000 herdsmen. The wealth of the monasteries rested in the hands of small numbers of high-ranking lamas. Most ordinary monks lived modestly and had no direct access to great wealth. The Dalai Lama himself “lived richly in the 1000-room, 14-story Potala Palace.” 11

      Secular leaders also did well. A notable example was the commander-in-chief of the Tibetan army, a member of the Dalai Lama’s lay Cabinet, who owned 4,000 square kilometers of land and 3,500 serfs. 12 Old Tibet has been misrepresented by some Western admirers as “a nation that required no police force because its people voluntarily observed the laws of karma.” 13 In fact. it had a professional army, albeit a small one, that served mainly as a gendarmerie for the landlords to keep order, protect their property, and hunt down runaway serfs.”

      “In old Tibet there were small numbers of farmers who subsisted as a kind of free peasantry, and perhaps an additional 10,000 people who composed the “middle-class” families of merchants, shopkeepers, and small traders. Thousands of others were beggars. There also were slaves, usually domestic servants, who owned nothing. Their offspring were born into slavery. 15 The majority of the rural population were serfs. Treated little better than slaves, the serfs went without schooling or medical care, They were under a lifetime bond to work the lord’s land–or the monastery’s land–without pay, to repair the lord’s houses, transport his crops, and collect his firewood. They were also expected to provide carrying animals and transportation on demand.16 Their masters told them what crops to grow and what animals to raise. They could not get married without the consent of their lord or lama. And they might easily be separated from their families should their owners lease them out to work in a distant location. 17

      As in a free labor system and unlike slavery, the overlords had no responsibility for the serf’s maintenance and no direct interest in his or her survival as an expensive piece of property. The serfs had to support themselves. Yet as in a slave system, they were bound to their masters, guaranteeing a fixed and permanent workforce that could neither organize nor strike nor freely depart as might laborers in a market context. The overlords had the best of both worlds.”

      Sounds at lot like the Gig Economy!

    5. Billy

      Wow, that, plus a few other Chinese exports, that unfortunately work all too well, makes me want to boycott all Chinese goods from now on.
      If no American, European, Taiwanese or Japanese alternatives, then thrift shops will be my outsourcing.

    6. occasional anonymous

      Honestly, I found it a quite balanced article. The real PRC propaganda line is basically that Tibet has always been a province of China, which isn’t what the article claims.

      I’ve found pre-1951 Tibet to be a fantastically obscure place to get accurate information on. One anthropologist will describe it one way, and another will describe it entirely differently. Someone will say it was a brutal feudal system, and critics will say “no no, it wasn’t *really* like that; it was much more nuanced…”. If your Tibetan friends are correct in claiming the serfs could just move to another job, than by definition they weren’t actually serfs. In which case the terminology being used is completely wrong, and I’m at a complete loss for how the hell to describe the system Tibet used. Perhaps your friends just don’t know as much about their history as they think they do. They wouldn’t be the first patriots to operate under false ‘knowledge’.

      ‘A pox on both their houses’ is where I end up. On balance I think Tibetans are better off under the Chinese, but that seems to be a very low bar. The highly unequal wealth and ownership, the almost universal illiteracy, and the limb chopping all seem to be agreed upon facts about feudal Tibet. CCP rule at least cleared (most of?) that nonsense away. I don’t approve of the policy of what is essentially cultural obliteration the CCP is engaged with (I’ve heard the characters for the official policy literally mean ‘to make Han’). Nor do I think much of their plan to convert a bunch of what is stolen land into a national park. I would hope that the future for Tibet would involve neither the CCP nor the Dalai Lama.

      This all seems completely academic though. Tibet is part of China now, and the Chinese aren’t going to give it up, anymore than they’re going to give up Xinjiang. The only way this will ever change is if central control in Beijing abruptly collapsed, which doesn’t seem likely. And nobody, but nobody, in DC or in the CIA gives, or has ever given, a crap about Tibet. The Dalai Lama is a CIA asset only because he’s a useful stick to beat the Chinese with.

      1. Furzy

        The 14th Dalai Lama has often stated that Tibet needed to modernize….even in Heinrich Harrer’s wonderful read from the 1940’s. He befriended Harrer in order to learn about the rest of the world, and has been a consistent supporter of science, saying if religious tenets disagree with scientific findings, then the religious beliefs need to change. He’s also established a Tibetan democracy in exile from Dharamsala, India, a huge change for a formerly feudal society.

        Yes, sadly, the PRC will probably wipe out Tibetan culture entirely. Tibetans are being forced to use the Chinese language, and now the younger generation doesn’t even use it very much. If you want to have a job and not be persecuted, you “go along” with the PRC overlords.

        I admit only studying Buddhism with the Tibetan Lamas does not qualify me as a scholar of that region, so who do you wanna believe? I’ll take the monks’ descriptions and written histories of Tibet by Tibetans any day over the PRC’s pronouncements.The “serf” meme has been endlessly propagated by the PRC, and many academics subscribe to it; as well as accept grants from the PRC to “study” Tibet. Now we have “Confucius Institutes” all over academia pushing their propaganda, so guess who has the bigger megaphone?

        Tibetologist Robert Barnett[22] writes:

        Chinese references to preliberation conditions in Tibet thus appear to be aimed at creating popular support for Beijing’s project in Tibet. These claims have particular resonance among people who share the assumption—based on nineteenth-century Western theories of “social evolution” that are still widely accepted in China—that certain forms of society are “backward” and should be helped to evolve by more “advanced” societies. This form of prejudice converges with some earlier Chinese views and with vulgar Marxist theories that imagine a vanguard movement liberating the oppressed classes or nationalities in a society, whether or not those classes agree that they are oppressed. Moreover, the Chinese have to present that oppression as very extensive, and that society as very primitive, in order to explain why there were no calls by the Tibetan peasantry for Chinese intervention on their behalf.

        The question of Tibet’s social history is therefore highly politicized, and Chinese claims in this respect are intrinsic to the functioning of the PRC, and not some free act of intellectual exploration. They have accordingly to be treated with caution. From a human rights point of view, the question of whether Tibet was feudal in the past is irrelevant. A more immediate question is why the PRC does not allow open discussion of whether Tibet was feudal or oppressive. Writers and researchers in Tibet face serious repercussions if they do not concur with official positions on issues such as social conditions in Tibet prior to its “liberation,” and in such a restrictive climate, the regime’s claims on this issue have little credibility.”[23]

        According to the PRC:

        …there was a historically imperative need for the progress of Tibetan society and the welfare of the Tibetan people to expel the imperialists and shake off the yoke of feudal serfdom. The founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 brought hope for the deeply distressed Tibetan people. In conforming to the law of historical development and the interests of the Tibetan people, the Central People’s Government worked actively to bring about Tibet’s peaceful liberation. After that, important policies and measures were adopted for Tibet’s Democratic Reform, regional autonomy, large-scale modernization and reform and opening-up.[10]

        However, the Tibetan government in exile responds:

        …the Chinese justifications make no sense. First of all, international law does not accept justifications of this type. No country is allowed to invade, occupy, annex and colonize another country just because its social structure does not please it. Secondly, the PRC is responsible for bringing more suffering in the name of liberation. Thirdly, necessary reforms were initiated and Tibetans are quite capable of doing so.[11]

        Monasteries served as schools, universities and centres for Tibetan art, craft and medical care. The role of monasteries as highly disciplined centres of Tibetan education and intellectual hubs was central to the traditional Tibetan way of life. They also performed religious functions for the government.

        The largest proportion of land in ‘Old Tibet’ was held by the peasants who reimbursed the state directly. This was the main source of revenue for the government. These taxes were mostly paid in produce such as grain, wool, butter etc. They could also be paid in labour and transport services to government officials.

        A very small percentage of the population − mostly in Central Tibet − were tenants. They held their lands on the estates of aristocrats and monasteries, and paid rent to the estate-holders in kind or in physical labour. According to Smith, they became “relatively wealthy and were sometimes even in the position of loaning money or grain to the estate. They also had legal rights to initiate legal action against the estate owner. The final arbiter in such cases was the Dalai Lama himself.”

        No system is perfect, and the administration of Tibet before the Chinese occupation was far from being exemplary. There were excesses on some estates by over-enthusiastic owners because of which many tenants suffered. But on the whole the system worked equally for rich and poor. Throughout her history Tibet never experienced famine and the number of beggars could be counted with your fingers.

        Thus, to brand the entire system as “a backward theocratic feudal serfdom” is Han-chauvinism and a total distortion of Tibetan civilization to suit Beijing’s political needs.

        Tibet experienced its first-ever famine between 1959-’63 under Mao’s Great Leap Forward campaign. This was a mad mammoth plan that ended in full-scale economic disaster, killing at least 36 million people in China and Tibet.

  24. Jesper

    About: For introverts, lockdown is a chance to play to our strengths
    Not entirely true, it depends on whether or not the introvert is living alone, with someone who respects the introvert or living with an extrovert who might not understand the need for solitude and quiet.

    When I first arrived in Ireland 20 years ago then I was a bit surprised to see elderly men sitting alone at the pub reading the newspaper. It didn’t quite make sense to me until I realised that the reason why they read the newspaper at the pub might be that if they stayed at home then they’d have to talk to someone. So to keep the peace they went out, had a pint and read the newspaper. Sure there was noise but nobody asked for (or demanded) their attention.
    Similarly when I saw people sitting alone in cafes working on laptops, reading a book or writing something in a notepad.
    I believe that some might be going out to be around people but I know that there are those who go out to avoid being talked to.

    Yes, for some introverts then the lockdown is great for other introverts then it is the opposite – no escape from the chatty extrovert…

  25. Susan the other

    The Sun Is Unusually Quiet. The Independent. This has been observed since around 2008-9. Last year there was speculation that we were headed into a Maunder Minimum by 2050. I take that to mean that they won’t be certain until this progresses for another 30 years – and then as many years to get out of it. I noticed this spring that the trees in the valley leafed slowly out about a week ago and leafing has gradually climbed up the hillsides. It is May already and the leaves are very small and reluctant. The temperature is only a few degrees off, but interestingly, there are many fewer sunny days – instead there is continuous cloud cover. All economies that use coal-fired power plants should install scrubbers to get those particulates out of the air. If we continue on with murky skies and less sun it could get really chilly. Nobody seems the least big concerned about all these possibilities. Much like the Danish climate scientists were warning.

    1. Synoia

      Two points

      1, Humans understand weather, but are poor on Climate trends, because of the two different time frames.
      2. I wish Trump would emulate the current Sun.

    2. flora

      Same here. 2 weeks ago I wondered why it was taking the trees so long to leaf out. Just now they have noticeable new green leaves, where they should have had 2 weeks ago.

    3. Oregoncharles

      Odd. Spring is booming along here, and once again a couple of weeks early (I asked my scientist neighbor, who actually keeps track.)

    4. jef

      Mid willamette valley here and everything is on sched. A bit ahead in some cultivars. Tomatoes are thigh high.
      Maples are full broad leaf, cherries are showing and are about the size of an olive. Weather has been a farmers dream of a little rain, a little sun, repeat, repeat, repeat.

      US is warmer that average;

      The contiguous U.S. average maximum (daytime) temperature during March was 56.8°F, 3.7°F above the 20th century average, ranking in the warmest third of the record. Above-average maximum temperatures were observed from the Rocky Mountains to the East Coast. Below-average maximum temperatures were observed from central California to western Arizona.

      “Recent Heat Wave Setting Unusual Records in Florida”;

      “March 2020: Earth’s Second Warmest March and Third Warmest Month on Record”.

      Pray for a solar minimum.

      1. Monty

        I have been buying some amazing pies from that area! Apple and marion berry are the 2 I have enjoyed the most. Have you ever tried those?

        I know the summer in Oregon is amazing, but how do you find the other seasons? I quite fancied relocating to Ashland, but I enjoy blue skies and thought it might not be for me.

        1. Oregoncharles

          Yes, those are good. So are “Mom’s” pies, from Eugene. Good pie is pretty scarce, unless you make it yourself.

      2. Roger Boyd

        Thankyou for so politely (i.e. just using facts) pointing out the “extrapolation from personal experience” climate fallacy. All of the reliable global surface temperature data sets show a rising trend (possibly accelerating in the past few years) – e.g. GISS and LOTI. The effect of lower sun spots is far outweighed by the effect of increasing GHGs.

        I hope that climate change denial, even the more subtle kind, does not find a home on this site.

        Yes, we should be praying for a solar minimum! Any offset, however small, to climate change should be welcomed.

        A Trump minimum should also be much welcomed!

    5. Aumua

      A minor point perhaps, but the article is not about the current solar minimum, or the possibility of a grand solar minimum. It is about the relative quietude of our sun’s activity cycles compared to other stars we have observed over recent millennia.

      1. HotFlash

        It seems to me that this would be a major point, but hey, I am an instrument builder, what do I know? Are there any astrophysicists or other knowledgeable folks out there who can do us some ‘splainin’?

  26. Oregoncharles

    From “The Coming Greater Depression…,” Roubini:
    ” That makes debt deflation likely, increasing the risk of insolvency.

    A fourth (related) factor will be currency debasement…. Yet, over time, the permanent negative supply shocks from accelerated de-globalization and renewed protectionism will make stagflation all but inevitable.”

    He’s predicting BOTH deflation and inflation. In sequential paragraphs. Good editor needed?

    1. Oregoncharles

      And yes, I finished the article. Useful list of hazards – but he thinks “de-globalization” is one of them, and he isn’t real consistent.

    2. Procopius

      When I saw “debasement of the currency” I quit reading. I don’t think he understands what money is. Like von Mises, he seems to think there is an intrinsic value backing currency. As Brad deLong put it, in trying to explain von Mises’ obsession with gold, “It is simply not the case that we can cheaply and easily buy things with money because it is valuable. It is, instead, the case that money is valuable because we can cheaply and easily buy things with it.”

  27. Mikel

    RE: Covid – Concerts/Music Fests

    RE: Music Crisis Concert Tours
    “With our show coming up on the 14th, we were going to have rehearsals on the 13th, and crew flying in on the 12th,” says Albair. “On March 11th, there was still no word of cancellations, so our crew hopped on flights from New York to L.A. to make rehearsals. Of course, I received the call that morning that our show with the Strokes was canceled — so I had to put the guys right back on flights home.”

    There will be time for reflection on this practice of flying crews around.

    The ritual of music concerts had become rather ritual – more obviously so than with all other occupations and experiences.
    “What’s happening __________(fill in blank, name of city)!”

    “Are you ready to _________ (party, have some fun, get wild, get loose, get naked, etc)?”
    (Music – well known song)

    Dancers hit the stage or lead singer stalks the stage (running, sliding, or descending from some platform), giant video screens in the larger venues…

    Well, you all know the rest.

    Maybe when concerts return, the artists, having time to reflect, will have other ways to “wow” us all. Counting on it and looking forward to it.

  28. fwe'zy

    I invite you to read Michael Parenti on the topic of Tibet. Tibetan Buddhism is a reactionary philosophy that explains one’s wealth and beauty (evidence of superiority) as having been earned in past lives: a perfect complement to Soulcycle meritocrats’ neoliberal sanctimony.
    The CIA’s role in maintaining counterforce to the spread of communism is key.

    1. Procopius

      I don’t know enough to dispute you, but Thai (Hinayana, Theravada) Buddhism teaches the same thing, yet that doesn’t prevent Thais from acting as if that is changeable by your actions and thoughts in this life. I note that in Islam the belief is that everything is God’s Will, which must not be resisted, and Calvinism (such as Betsy DeVos follows) says that God chose The Elect before he created everything, that there are a limited number, that nothing you can do or believe will change your status as Elect or Damned, and that your status can be discerned by the blessings God bestows on you in this world.

      1. fwe’zy

        Thanks. I guess my beef is with the idea that wealth and beauty are evidence of virtue in a past life.

  29. Susan the other

    General observation from everything so far. I’d just like to suggest that anyone going to NYC, like my daughter or Yves or anyone with various obligations, might consider taking BCG inoculations. It is tried and true and safe to take, with rare exceptions. And there are indications that it prevents Covid-19, sometimes altogether, sometimes just making it a milder infection.

    1. MarkT

      Agreed Susan. I’ve been offline for a few days, so am not sure whether this very important article was captured in the Links:

      “A growing body of research suggests that live vaccines, which are made from living but attenuated pathogens (as opposed to inactivated vaccines, which use dead pathogens) provide broad protection against infections in ways that no one anticipated.”

      Imo there’s been far too much focus on a corona-specific vaccine which may never come.

  30. Oregoncharles

    From “The SARS CoV-w Pandemic Could Have been Prevented:”

    “I would also like to point out that due to pressure from a number of individuals who felt that determining the pandemic potential of SARS-like CoV in bats was too dangerous, a research moratorium on certain kinds of this research was imposed in 2014. I do hope the authors of that moratorium feel at least a small amount of regret as they look at the rising COVID-19 numbers. After all, Nature does not observe our moratoriums.”

    Yes, I think I’m one of those “individuals.” Not that I was influential. He doesn’t say that the research, called “gain of function” research, was resumed in 2018 – under Trump. It was stopped because there were fears of exactly what has happened: a great pandemic. And indeed, NIH was funding work at the very Wuhan virology lab that is close to the pandemic’s point of origin and now under suspicion. Work on bat coronaviruses that some, at least, say was “gain of function” work.

    None of that is proof. It’s highly circumstantial, and there’s getting to be a lot of it. I doubt there will ever be proof, because the Chinese government controls the information – very tightly, as we also saw yesterday.

    The author of this post is doing his best to be useful; he is also a virologist, so he’s “talking his book.” That is, he has a natural tendency to see all virology funding as desirable. (No, that isn’t proof, either.) Ultimately, this is why major policy decisions should be made outside the circle of beneficiaries.

    He ignores the fact that there’s a SARS vaccine sitting on a shelf somewhere, ready to be tested. He’s right about why it wasn’t tested: no market, so no money. Nobody knows whether it would have helped. Vaccines tend to be strain-specific.

    In the bigger picture, we’re still s-l-o-w-l-y working our way up to a Butlerian Jihad. Ironic, to be saying that on an internet website.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Very timely, from today’s Links:

      Confirmation, if the Daily Telegraph can be believed.

      Incidentally, this is not “demonization” of China, especially with the Australian, NIH, and N. Carolina (!) connections. To my mind, it’s closing in on whether certain types of research should be funded or even allowed. In this case, FWIW, Obama’s administration thought not, Trump’s thought yes. And we may just have the result.

      1. Yves Smith

        After the way the intel services behaved on RussiaRussia? And then Mueller came up empty handed? And now China is the new official enemy.

  31. ChrisPacific

    The former president also issued a warning that the impact of the pandemic will not be felt equally.

    “Let’s remember that the suffering we experience as a nation does not fall evenly. In the days to come, it will be especially important to care in practical ways for the elderly, the ill and the unemployed,”

    I think GW is onto something here. Perhaps Halliburton could be issued with a no-bid contract to look into possible solutions? Or – I know! – the US could pick a suitable Middle Eastern country to invade and occupy. That would boost hiring among the armed forces and defense contractors, at least.

  32. Aron Blue

    As an aside, regarding the NY Times article on Laurie Garrett, I was pretty unimpressed that they had to correct that glaring error about Cassandra after publication. The writer thought she was Greek, not Trojan. It is shocking to watch an entire culture just poof out – even a generation ago that kind of ignorance of the classics would be unthinkable–especially for a journalist at a major newspaper.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      Yeah. I went all Nerd Herd with the wife about that this morning.
      Boys grew up hearing those stories(Homer, Herodotus,Ovid) around campfires and barbque pits, and would never mistake Cassandra for a Greek.

      1. HotFlash

        I don’t think it is their fault that they were badly educated. However, I kinda subscribe to the 21 rule — once you are 21 years old, your upbringing, your education is on you. So, if they get to 21 and still don’t know their education is deficient, it is their bad. As my old (now dead) dad used to say, “If you can read, you can do anything.”

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          the wilful destruction of the Humanities, in my lifetime, is an ongoing peeve with me.
          I was reading that sort of thing when i was 8, and wanting from then on to be a Philosopher, live on a mountain and wear robes(done, done and done!)…but would have settled for being a Classicist or antropologist or something.
          no fewer than 4 college registrars laughed in my face,lol.
          Circa 87-91, and by then it was apparently known that all that was all over.
          we are poorer for it’s lack.

          1. Billy

            I had the pleasure of seeing a once arrogant junior college admissions officer working in a bakery around women 20 years her junior. Sweat on her upper lip, instead of a hide behind the counter sneer, no more ceramic junk jewelry, instead a hairnet. Whatever happened to her was Karmic.

            A barometer question to determine education:
            “What do you think of martial law possibly coming to the U.S.?
            “Who is he?”

            1. Basil Pesto

              maybe she was happier? University Administration is an industry notoriously rife with ‘bullshit jobs’, as opposed to the baking business

    2. Oregoncharles

      About that: the Trojans almost certainly were Greek, only on the other side of the Aegean. In the Iliad, the two sides talk to each other quite freely.

      Admittedly, the story is built around an opposition between the two.

      1. Quentin

        Yeah, right, as Germans and Americans talk freely to each other in Hollywood movies.

    1. ChrisPacific

      Rod Drury, who has otherwise been a useful contributor during the current pandemic, has unfortunately blown all credibility by suggesting that we waive foreign investment rules to allow a bunch of rich Americans to build houses here. He justifies this by saying it could provide a 5 to 10 billion dollar stimulus for the construction industry.

      This is, of course, spectacularly missing the point (as I’m glad to see Shamubeel Eaqub has pointed out already). Liquidity is not something we are short on right now – because this counts as a crisis, the balanced budget provisions don’t apply (and as MMT shows, that’s an artificial constraint anyway, even if it’s enshrined in law). If we want to do this then we are perfectly capable of funding it ourselves, or many other possible projects, all of which could provide a similar stimulus to construction. Nearly all of them would be better choices than devoting a bunch of prime residential land to building inappropriately large properties that are mismatched to the needs of the community, and that will probably remain vacant for all but a few weeks per year. It’s arguably even worse than the Keynesian thought experiment of digging holes and filling them up again.

      1. MarkT

        Is Rod Drury the person who flits back and forth between Napier and Wellington in his business jet? Sometimes it’s simply a day trip.

      2. The Rev Kev

        Just found an article talking about how NZ should be trying to attract foreign companies to re-locate there as they will be virus-free but I see two problems. First, how will all these international business players feel if they have to go into two weeks quarantine whenever they re-enter the country? Because you could never be sure what they might be bringing back with them on their private flights. Same applies for any commercial planes carrying their staff as well.

        Second is that how long before any big players want local laws changed to suit themselves. Maybe they will fund political parties. Get a coupla trained journalists signed up to their cause. Ease the quarantine restrictions as they are bored with them. Change the laws on foreign investments. Start buying up local real estate for sale on the international market. Because you know that this would all happen-

          1. The Rev Kev

            Only if we get your Prime Minister. No, seriously. We really need your Prime Minister. Scotty from Marketing has been consistently behind the ball since the beginning. It was been our State Premiers that have really been getting the job of containment & elimination done.

            1. MarkT

              Our PM has been an example in leadership and communication. I just hope that she and the team (especially the scientific members of the team) are thinking on their feet and following the data. This thing started out with Nil Information, hence the drastic response. But responses need to be rapidly modified based on data.

  33. Daryl

    Reporting in from Texas, where the reinfection, I mean reopening plan is going well.

    Buffalo Springs Lake in Lubbock to close two days after reopening due to massive crowds and a fight:

    Corpus Christi beaches massively crowded:

    And we are now on our fourth straight day of 1k new cases per day:

    Stay safe out there.

  34. lordkoos

    I see the giant Asian hornet is in the news cycle now. I first read about them over six months ago, why is the media choosing this particular time to promote more fear? They have been found in northern WA state very near the Canadian border but I haven’t heard anything about them spreading so far.

  35. integer

    I just watched the Biden interview on Morning Joe again and noticed he said:

    “If you work with me, or I work for you, and you had my income tax return, you had my whatever, they’re private documents. They’re not for, they don’t get put out in the public. They are not part of the public record, that in fact any senator or vice president or president has in their records.”

    The Ds been demanding Trump release his tax returns for years, and now Biden clearly states that income tax records are private documents. The Ds are a dumpster fire.

  36. VietnamVet

    The USA is at inflection point with no time left. The lockdown is not working. The Pandemic has to be fought now. In the same way as in the functional nations of Asia and the South Pacific; using all the tools of the Public Health System. In nineteen US states the number of infection cases are still climbing including my state of Maryland and Virginia. Red states are reopening. In three weeks, if not sooner, 100,000 in the USA will die due to the Wuhan coronavirus. The US federal government has failed at its basic purpose of protecting American lives.

    Unless Congress does its job today and restores the American Public Health System including free medical care, universal testing, tracing, and safe quarantine facilities for the infected; unrest is certain. Free to spread across North America in the chaos, even at a latest morality rate of 0.5%, around a million and half will die of the virus alone not counting millions more dead due to no medical care and violence.

  37. Tien

    That Dropbox problem doesn’t sound like an issue. The hidden files are on the workhorse and the Dropbox cloud. That’s what it’s supposed to do.

    Backups can have Dropbox too so they can sync everytime the Dropbox cloud gets updated. You would just need to keep them switched on or remember to switch them on once a day.

  38. MarkT

    Thank you Yves for your blog. It helps to keep me sane. I am a refugee from the “financial services” sector who left it to go back into the sciences. But the dragon followed me. I found you many years ago. Please keep on keeping on. (And consider having a BCG vaccination as suggested by Susan above. There is definitely something going on in the mortality experience across countries which has not yet been explained).

  39. smoker

    Re fwe’zy’s comment above, @2:05 PM Eastern Daylight Time:

    I invite you to read Michael Parenti on the topic of Tibet. Tibetan Buddhism is a reactionary philosophy that explains one’s wealth and beauty (evidence of superiority) as having been earned in past lives: a perfect complement to Soulcycle meritocrats’ neoliberal sanctimony.

    Indeed, and thank you, fwe’zy. There is no better proof of that than the horrid Silicon Valley; San Francisco – E.G. Senator Dianne Feinstein’s husband Dick Blum’s longstanding extremely close relationship with the Dalai Lama; and Hollywood millionaire/billionaire’s relationships with him.

    Yes, Michael Parenti’s updated and expanded January 2007 piece: Friendly Feudalism: The Tibet Mythis an excellent read.

    Not all Tibetan exiles are enamoured of the old Shangri-La theocracy. Kim Lewis, who studied healing methods with a Buddhist monk in Berkeley, California, had occasion to talk at length with more than a dozen Tibetan women who lived in the monk’s building. When she asked how they felt about returning to their homeland, the sentiment was unanimously negative. At first, Lewis assumed that their reluctance had to do with the Chinese occupation, but they quickly informed her otherwise. They said they were extremely grateful “not to have to marry 4 or 5 men, be pregnant almost all the time,” or deal with sexually transmitted diseases contacted from a straying husband. The younger women “were delighted to be getting an education, wanted absolutely nothing to do with any religion, and wondered why Americans were so naïve [about Tibet].”63

    The women interviewed by Lewis recounted stories of their grandmothers’ ordeals with monks who used them as “wisdom consorts.” By sleeping with the monks, the grandmothers were told, they gained “the means to enlightenment” — after all, the Buddha himself had to be with a woman to reach enlightenment.

    The women also mentioned the “rampant” sex that the supposedly spiritual and abstemious monks practiced with each other in the Gelugpa sect. The women who were mothers spoke bitterly about the monastery’s confiscation of their young boys in Tibet. They claimed that when a boy cried for his mother, he would be told “Why do you cry for her, she gave you up–she’s just a woman.”

    The monks who were granted political asylum in California applied for public assistance. Lewis, herself a devotee for a time, assisted with the paperwork. She observes that they continue to receive government checks amounting to $550 to $700 per month along with Medicare. In addition, the monks reside rent free in nicely furnished apartments. “They pay no utilities, have free access to the Internet on computers provided for them, along with fax machines, free cell and home phones and cable TV.”

    They also receive a monthly payment from their order, along with contributions and dues from their American followers. Some devotees eagerly carry out chores for the monks, including grocery shopping and cleaning their apartments and toilets. These same holy men, Lewis remarks, “have no problem criticizing Americans for their ‘obsession with material things.’”64

  40. Furzy

    Ah, yes, the concept of karma (Sanskrit: “I do”) is very unsettling to many folks. Nor is it an obvious, materialistic, phenomenon….seems many people are settled into being “radical materialists” with hard core science as their religion. Yet, no science has been able to find the “mind”, or why we dream, or how good can overcome evil, within and without. Buddhism investigates these questions; please tell me what is “reactionary” about that?

    Yes, many monks, priests and preachers are utter hypocrites in every religion…shall we rehash all the Catholic pedophile priests and come to jeezus preachers who’ve been exposed? And I can assure you that many of the Tibetans speaking to the PRC authorities told them what they wanted to hear and benefitted from that.

    My Tibetan Lama worked for years at B. Altman Dept. store to provide for himself; all of my Tibetan friends were hard-working and well-employed in NYC.

    Professor Robert Thurman states:

    Some people will say, “I’m spiritual, and science has nothing to say about my spirituality. Why would I want my spirituality to be dragged down?” But that ignores the fact that science is the religion of the modern world. The idea that Buddhism can get dragged down falls into the scientific materialistic trap by assuming that our religious beliefs make us feel good but are unrealistic and not scientifically corroborable. And that, again, is conflating Buddhism with blind faith, which it isn’t. Buddha was 100 percent against blind faith. He said if you believe in something that your reason and common sense say couldn’t be true, that belief will cripple you mentally.

    It sounds like part of what you are saying is that Buddhism is not a subset of natural science but that it is a science in the same way that natural science is a science. Is that right?
    No, I’m being a little more aggressive. I’m saying that Buddhism is what science should be doing—Buddha’s wisdom teaching is what scientists should practice. They can do their material science, too, but the modern idea that secular means totally materialistic is a very rare case in history. The Buddha was seeking knowledge of reality, but for him, the mind was part of that secular reality. So by practicing Buddhist science, they would be taking a different kind of responsibility about the quality of their own minds and experience, and they would truly drop the dogma of materialism.

    I am insisting that Buddhism be taken seriously as a knowledge system. The arrogance of Western materialist scientists, that they understand the world and know how to fix it, is ridiculous because they are destroying it, not fixing it. They need higher knowledge—not just some faith or god. And the Buddha’s teaching has a way of helping them. Scientists who meet the Dalai Lama often come away saying, “Boy, I had some new insights talking with him. He’s so smart.” But they don’t ask any questions about Buddhist science or what Buddhist knowledge is. They don’t think that he knows something, they just think he’s peaceful and nice and that, in his presence, they have great ideas. That is our Western arrogance. It’s really terrible.

    When I say that everyone should be a Buddhist scientist, I don’t mean they have to be a Buddhist or change their group affiliation, just that they need to be more enlightened. [His Holiness the 14th] Dalai Lama often says he doesn’t want people leaving their grandmother’s religions because they studied some Buddhism. He wants people to keep granny happy and stay in that religion, and if they learn by meditating, studying, or being more ethical, then they’re elevating their own cultural setting, which is great.

    1. fwe’zy

      Thanks for your thoughtful reply. Anything that honors grannies is tops with me. As with nutrition, frugality, and other lifestyle choices, Buddhism is very good for the practitioner. The Dalai Lama is very gracious and appears sincere in his solicitude for people in general. Buddhism has been used, as art has been, in the CIA Postmodern Putsch against communism and materialism. Religion and art both bring comfort and escape from objective reality, as do opiates. Full disclosure, I do think there are some extremely useful teachings in Buddhism, around “illusions” and “desire.”

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