Links 6/26/2020

Effects of the characteristic temperament of cats on the emotions and hemodynamic responses of humans PLOS One. “The characteristic temperament of cats may be a key factor influencing the health benefits of owning cats.”

Brussels to call for probe into German regulator over Wirecard FT

Wirecard Auditors Say ‘Elaborate’ Fraud Led to Missing Billions Bloomberg

Pandemic causes ‘unprecedented’ fall in global trade FT

The shape of our recovery Felix Salmon, Axios

The Coronavirus Trade-Off Was Always an Illusion John Authers, Bloomberg


Calcitriol, the active form of vitamin D, is a promising candidate for COVID-19 prophylaxis (preprint) bioRxiv

‘Serious Seven’: Local health experts identify high-risk locations for COVID-19 KJRH. “The Tulsa Health Department is advising the public to take precautions at high-risk locations for COVID-19, known as the “Serious Seven,” including gyms, weddings, house gatherings, bars, funerals, faith-based activities and other small events.”

North Texas family shaken after 18 relatives test positive for COVID-19 following family gathering WFAA

Coronavirus may have infected 10 times more Americans than reported, CDC says Reuters

Shortage of vials may slow COVID-19 vaccine rollout Beckers Hospital Review

* * *

How the Virus Won NYT. Stoller comments:

Not to mention our for-profit health care system….

The Blood on New York’s Hands Discourse Blog. Not on the hands of New York’s “essential workers”!

As New York Reaches a Coronavirus Landmark, Parts of Red America Are Facing a Potential Disaster The New Yorker. Looks like the Red State governors are making the same mistakes that Diblasio and Cuomo did. Experience is a hard school….

The CDC Lost Control Of The Coronavirus Pandemic. Then The Agency Disappeared. Buzzfeed

* * *

The Dudes Who Won’t Wear Masks The Atlantic. Much better than the headline.

Remember when seatbacks and squalling children were a problem? Thread:

* * *

What are the odds on coronavirus? Worse than most people think is the one thing we can say Tax Research UK

A Virus Study You’ve Never Heard of Helped Us Understand COVID-19 Smithsonian

Decades-Old Soviet Studies Hint at Coronavirus Strategy NYT

The Cholera Riots Tribune


Hong Kong’s Cartoonists Aren’t Giving Up on Dissent The Nation

How to read between the lines of China and the EU’s diplomatic statements Quartz

Inside China’s race to beat poverty FT

China’s Go West plan fails to capture imagination of foreign firms suffering from ‘regional development plan fatigue’ South China Morning Post

Chinese structures appear near site of border clash with India, satellite images show NBC


Don’t Blame Modi for ‘No Intrusion’ Claim, Blame Him for Dramatic Shift in China Policy The WIre

Memories of pox, plague, and pandemics in TN People’s Archive of Rural India. TM is Tamil Nadu.

To beat the heat, Vietnam rice farmers resort to planting at night Reuters

East Africa: Ethiopia’s Nile Dam Dispute Must Be Solved Soon All Africa


Brexit: a happy bunny EU Referendum


Labour’s Rebecca Long-Bailey sacked in anti-Semitism row BBC

Hating lockdown? A third of Brits have actually enjoyed it CNN

New Cold War

We Need a Vaccine for Something More Dangerous Than the Coronavirus Valdai Discussion Club

How Russians are Reading Bolton and Trump Carnegie Moscow Center

Russia cannot afford another 15 years at war with the west FT

Trump Transition

Transcript: NPR’s Full Interview With Attorney General William Barr NPR

Trump administration calls for Supreme Court to strike down ObamaCare The Hill

Stimulus checks: Prepaid debit cards come with fees and privacy strings attached CBS

$1.4 Billion in Stimulus Funds Sent to Dead People, Watchdog Finds NYT


The Two Sides of Trump National Review

Black Injustice Tipping Point

It Is Time for Reparations Nikole Hannah-Jones, The New York Times

Police State Watch

Corporate Backers of the Blue: How Corporations Bankroll U.S. Police Foundations Eyes on the Ties

FBI Expands Ability to Collect Cellphone Location Data, Monitor Social Media, Recent Contracts Show The Intercept

Yes, Defund the Cops – And Put Them Under Community Control Black Agenda Report

Failed State

Santa Cruz County lifts beach closures: ‘People are not willing to be governed’ Los Angeles Times

The world is putting America in quarantine Ryan Cooper, The Week (J-LS). As I’ve been saying…

‘Has it peaked? I don’t know.’ NIH official details foreign influence probe Science

Sports Desk

Colleges Weigh Scrapping Football Season in Threat to a Cash Cow Bloomberg (Re Silc). On the bright side: Fewer brain-damaged “student athletes.”

Guillotine Watch

Why the French Riviera is full of ghost yachts The Economist

Class Warfare

Jobs Hit Is Four Times Worse for Low-Paid Workers, Fed Analysts Say Bloomberg. Everything’s going according to plan!

Life Care fired staffer who revealed nursing home nightmare to Reuters Reuters

Philadelphia set to be first U.S. city to protect workers against retaliation for calling out coronavirus conditions Philadelphia Inquirer

Google’s Promise to Delete Your Data Has a Major Loophole Gizmodo

Antidote du Jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Amfortas the hippie

    “We don’t have a word for being in a depressed economy that’s growing,”

    Being in Texas, where the incidence of viral infection is shooting right up(which was entirely predictable by a 14 year old boy i know, but totally missed by our gooberment and the numerous cheerleaders)…I wonder what a W or Double-W “recovery” will look like.
    Humans aren’t widgets, after all….confidence matters. Greg Abbot and company tried to shoehorn “recovery” before the public health was anywhere near ready, and is having to backtrack just a month or so later.
    Texas finally came up with a “plan” they were willing to commit to paper for “reopening” schools…and I reckon that will soon be revisited, too.
    what happens to “confidence” if, as seems likely, this doesn’t just go away due to Believing Real Hard?
    what if it just keeps coming back?…a sawtooth decline, like some of the Latoc People were predicting all those years ago?
    Will the “can’t make me wear a mask”-people finally get on board, due to plain old self-interest(they’re generally pretty good at that), or due to it finally being mandated?
    My understanding of pandemic mitigation strategy…even with the asymptomatic features…is that if we would have shut everything down, somehow(even “essential workers”) for 2-4 weeks, this would all be over.
    Similarly, if we had required masks every time someone went foraging for groceries, this would be a lot less terrible than it is.
    Cousin went fishing in the Laguna Madre this week(he stays away from people in normal times, so is pretty well suited for “social distancing”; isn’t above sleeping rough), and said the beaches were packed, all the touristy places were wall to wall….all due to Unemployment and other government largess….when that ends, and rent comes due, and the full extent of the damage becomes harder to hide, what then?

    1. Samuel Conner

      Perhaps we need geographical metaphors for the shapes of recoveries, as the letters of our alphabet do not have enough shapes. I suggest: “Appalachian mountains” — a long series of rolling hills, sloping gradually downward, basically the inverse of the new infections pattern as states implement “stop/go” protective measures overlaid on the underlying accumulating damage to the real economy.

      The “10% of population infected” suggested by CDC is hopeful in terms of the true case fatality rate (which would on that supposition be below 1%, though still much higher than in, for example, Singapore, where it is below 0.1%) but, alas, not much comfort from the perspective of the hope for herd immunity, in view of the evidence that the protective effects of immune response last only for a few months.

      Dig those gardens.

      1. JWP

        The Western US works well for a geographical metaphor. Goes up in the Cascades, stays high through the plateaus until it goes up even further in the Rockies as the virus is now.

    2. td

      Right now, Canada is in the eye of the storm with fewer than 300 daily new cases. We dropped the ball on long-term care homes, where the majority of deaths occurred, but that appears to have been taken in hand. However, there is now a move to open up the economy and we have seen mob scenes on beaches and the usual lack of concern by those who think the low numbers mean it’s all over and won’t come back.

      On the plus side, the wearing of masks is less of a political issue than it is to the south of us, but that does not mean that we have anything like the 90% compliance that would make it really effective. I’m still avoiding any kind of crowds, but I feel quite safe about walking in the neighbourhood where nearly everyone is OK with social distancing. I’m in a small city to the east of Toronto but close enough to be a suburb, and I expect to see higher numbers in the urban conglomeration going forward. By the way, Toronto and it’s satellites are roughly comparable to Chicago in size and density.

      I should mention that the only travel allowed between Canada and the US is essential economic stuff, like truck deliveries, and interprovincial travel is still similarly restricted. The Atlantic provinces have had almost no new cases for a while so they are forming a travel bubble.

      It’s all a lot like dieting – you can be really good for a few months and lose some weight, but it’s a big mistake to party at the end to celebrate and thus gain it back.

      1. Winston Smith

        Hoping against all hope that the border will re-open before the end of the summer…

        1. HotFlash

          My dear Mr Smith, “Hoping against hope” is a term I have never really understood. Would you be so kind as to elucidate?

          1. chuck roast

            I think that he is referring to the timeline between “the man from Hope” and the “hope and change” man…you know where this goes.

      2. Amfortas the hippie

        on mask wearing…out here in the Hill Coutry, it’s the old and sick, and the people who live with them, and people who lean lefty, or left/center(as it were,lol) who are wearing them.
        there’s echoes of post-9-11 with the hostile looks from a few more hard core righties at mask wearing. I’m immune to such hostility, of course…but others are not…again, similarly to Post 9-11, when so many people were intimidated into silence about the war crimes and imperial arrogance.
        In San Antonio, on the other hand, the county Judge went head to head with Greg Abbott, and won, regarding requiring masks indoors…and I noted an additional social stigma against those who don’t wear them.
        The same hostility noted above, but reversed…as if the non-masked are peeing on the floor.
        I also ran across a dashboard, at the San Antonio Express News site, that had…in addition to the usual tally of cases and fatalities…an interactive map, and a running list, of bars and whatnot who had been fined for not enforcing social distancing, limiting occupancy, and the like(the exception to Abbott’s rule was apparently that a city could mandate that businesses be the mask police, and be fined for violations perpetrated by their customers…this, somehow, preserves all that sweet Freedom we Texans presumably enjoy)

        so two very different experiences…in the same Texas that everyone loves to rag on.
        Both places, in spite of these differences, are experiencing a steep rise in infections…but it anecdotally feels like the folks most averse to wearing a mask are coming in droves from SA to the Hill Country.
        I’ve heard from several folks…including our Doctor in Fredericksburg…that these tourists are in the main pretty assholeish about demanding that their waiters, etc don’t protect themselves.
        pretty weird manifestation of political identity.

        1. anon in so cal

          “Coronavirus: face masks save lives, Japanese study says

          Scientists used a computer model to show how Covid-19 death rates were higher in countries where people tended not to cover their mouths

          The mask wearing rate was “found to be the strongest predictor for the number of deaths per million”, and the sooner people started wearing masks the better, the researchers said.
          Nearly 80 per cent of the Covid-19 deaths reported in early June could be linked to people’s reluctance to wear a face mask in mid-March….

          ….The World Health Organisation this month recommended wearing face masks in public after previously discouraging people from doing so….”

        2. The Historian

          Americans are insane. I remember after 9/11 how Americans reacted. They were willing to give up all of their ‘rights’ for security, even allowing the Patriot Act to be passed with very little complaint and allowing us to get involved in a war for no good reason.

          Covid-19 has killed more Americans in less than 6 months than 9/11 and the Iraq/Afghanistan wars combined, yet they now feel their ‘rights’ are violated simply because they are being asked to wear a mask.

          1. Arizona Slim

            I can remember my very Republican and quite conservative father being VERY opposed to the Patriot Act.

          2. Oh

            Money is talking through their mouths; when the UnPatriot Act was passed money was responsible in shutting the mouths of those opposed.

            It’s the economy….

            There’s really no freedom, no rights…..

            1. Mr. House

              Something most people never consider, after the dotcom bubble burst, homeland security did create a lot of jobs………

          3. lordkoos

            Americans didn’t have much say in the patriot act, it’s not like there was a referendum on it. Most legislators didn’t even read it all before ramming through congress.

        3. Goingnowhereslowly

          My sister, a nurse in Houston, was recently visited by her young adult children: her son, who lives just outside San Antonio, and her daughter, who lives in suburban Dallas. Her daughter noted, “Wow, a lot of people are wearing masks here.” Her son said, “Gee, hardly anyone here is wearing a mask.” So, more anecdotal evidence for the diversity of behavior across the state.

          I live in DC, which I think has much more mask wearing than any of those Texas cities: at least in my neighborhood, not wearing a mask outside one’s home is pretty much a signal that one is an anti-social jerk.

          1. lordkoos

            In WA state the governor has now mandated masks in public. In the eastern part of the state there are many COVID deniers. Went shopping this morning and 80-90% of the people were wearing masks… went out a week ago and it was more like 50-60%. People still complain endlessly but now if they want to buy food, they better put on a mask.

      3. HotFlash

        My dear td,

        Someday, when either this is all over *or* we have learned to live with it, perhaps we could have a SW Ontario meetup? It seems there are quite a few of us. We could wave at one another across Gold Point Marsh, or raise our (unopened) glasses high at Casimir Gzowski Park, or do a (socially distanced) bicycle tour or Niagara wine country!

        My DH has gotten himself an amateur radio license and is busy connecting up with hams around SW Ontario and further. Hey VE3(xxx) in Thorold, VE3(yyy) in Cobourg! Lockkdown can make for simple(r) pleasures. :)

    3. rd

      The Texas exercise in stupidity has just hit a road-block. Governor Abbot today just announced that bars are closed as of noon today and restaurants are at 50% capacity starting Monday. I assume he wants the restaurants to have one last shot at really boosting the hospitalization numbers.

      Arizona still doubling down on live free and die, although apparently, the bars and restaurants have way fewer people in them now than a couple of weeks ago. This matches what economists have been tracking, that most of the economic slowdown wasn’t governor orders, it was just people hiding in their basements in fear and confusion.

          1. Wombat

            So Arizona’s 21 Deaths per 100,000 is going to catch NY’s 161 or Massachusetts 121? Truly doubtful, and reprehensible to say “just wait”. It is detestable for one to eagerly await deaths in red states so one can prove how stupid the “COVID disbeliever deplorables” are. I suspect they will not be satiated.

            Let’s face it, protecting vulnerable populations is the best thing we can do. Furthermore we should focus on deaths per capita – the most meaningful metric. COVID cases per day is confounded by testing availability and many other factors.

            1. lordkoos

              There was nothing “eager” about my statement, just an admittedly cynical observation. Due to the lesser density of population many western states will likely never reach the number of deaths per capita seen on the east coast, but that does not mean their hospitals will not be overwhelmed, or that thousands of people won’t die needlessly.

              1. Wombat

                My frustration was not with you, but with the liberal private jet class who excitedly spouts off red state deaths on TV, shamelessly modifying the Y axis to make it appear worse than blue states.

                Phoenix, Houston, and Dallas (5th, 4th, and 9th) all have more population than Boston (21st). Havent assessed the densities though. But Seoul is among the densest in the world and did not comdemn their infected elderly back to their nursing homes and of course far better results. There are many confounding results- restaurant openings, mask usage, and protests are but a few.

                We can vigilantly wear our masks, sure, but we are going to need a long-term plan to protect our elderly and vulnerable.

              2. Amfortas the hippie

                re: density. my county has 4.3 people per square mile…but that’s not really the reality on the ground, since 3/4 of the population lives in the one city.
                nevertheless, we had an outbreak at the city office, and it spread from there.
                official number was 33 cases…all recovered…but i know of 2(already very ill) who didn’t, and many more who were sick, but never got tested.
                now, after opening up, and few wearing masks(maybe 1 in 5 or 6, based on periodic observations)…as well as the tourists and the locals driving all over the state to play and licking every doorknob they pass by…I expect to be right back in the soup right quick.
                the little clinic is rudimentary, at best…they got a batch of tests from the government in april/may…but i doubt they have the capacity to test a lot of people.
                (and anyway, if you don’t test, it doesn’t exist)
                just heard about a little league baseball trip…several teams going to Dallas, with their parents and grandparents…all but one family is of the “can’t make me wear a mask”/”commie hoax variety.
                they’ll stop every 50 miles to let the little darlins out to pee and run amok, there and back, stay in a best western and suck down the free waffles in the morning…play ball all day with similar groups from far and wide, and return home…licking every doorknob on the way.
                then they’ll go out to eat here at home.
                should be fun.
                our lack of density won’t save us, since people can’t stand to isolate themselves, and find ways to mingle and lick each other.
                my hermit kingdom is on lockdown…and i’ll make an heb run early sunday morning when the rubes are at church, breathing on each other.

    4. tongorad

      is that if we would have shut everything down, somehow(even “essential workers”) for 2-4 weeks, this would all be over.

      We would have to nationalize payroll, as they have done in the UK and other places. Where were the TDS politicians calling for this, especially those who have a D next to their name?
      Another object lesson on how a proper understanding of MMT is literally a matter of life and death. “We can’t afford it” is hate speech.

  2. Krystyn Podgajski

    >Calcitriol, the active form of vitamin D, is a promising candidate for COVID-19 prophylaxis

    Glad they are looking at nutrition. Still curious why they are not looking at zinc (Anyone here in the med/research field here have thoughts on that?).

    But back to Vitamin D and calcitrol. Don’t assume that taking more Vitamin D will mean will get more calictrol. To make the conversion you need an active CYP27B1 enzyme, which uses Heme as a cofactor but also needs a functioning adrenodoxin reducatse (FDXR) enzyme which uses Riboflavin (FAD) as a cofactor. The FDXR enzyme is expressed mostly n the adrenals, so watch your stress of course.

    Having enough Heme?. Probably more B6 and Iron and certainly less Lead. So it makes me wonder now if lead poising in lower income neighborhoods is linked to worse COVID outcomes. Zinc lowers intestinal absorption of lead…hmmmm….add the stress of poverty and you have worse outcomes.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Thats really interesting – I’ve read several cases of people who take lots of Vit D and do all the right things, but still have surprisingly low levels. As so often, these things are far more complex than a simple matter of taking a supplement if you’ll think it will help. I don’t think there is any real substitute for a healthy, well balanced diet with lots and lots of vegetables and minimising your exposure to toxins.

      1. Juneau

        Agreed. Still Vitamin D needs to be national news and promoted widely in every way. The correlation studies looking at severe Covid show a very strong inverse relationship, low vit D is definitely associated with severe Covid risk. There are at least 2 genetic factors that can make it very difficult to get a good vitamin D level. I have both and simply cannot eat my way to a good level It takes 7000 IU a day just to get a mid range normal level. And it took a long time to get to that point. There is little harm to taking a low dose supplement (that has ever been demonstrated in the literature) according to cardiologist Dr Ford Brewer. Lower dose meaning under 5000 IU but I would aim for 1-2 thousand just to be safe. You can die from vit D toxicity but has to be very high dose therapy (like taking 25000 IU daily).

        1. Krystyn Podgajski

          I would not say there is no harm in just taking a low dose D supplement. Taking extra Vitamin D will put pressure on these pathways and use up the cofactors I mentioned. This could make a Ribofalvin deficiency worse could impair the removal of H2O2, as an example, and increase oxidative stress.

          It might not even be that Vitamin D helps prevent COVID. It might just be a marker.

          The more I learn about nutritional genetics the less sure I am about anything.

          1. divadab

            Fresh air and sunshine – make your own vitamin D. Why take a supplement when your body will do it all by itself?

            1. rd

              Winter and very hot climates with air conditioning mean many people will not go outside much with a lot of skin exposed for a number of months during the year. This may be one of the reasons why flu and cold season is worse in the north during the winter and why Covid is spreading wildly in the South when heat and sun are supposed to prevent it.

            2. The Historian

              Because there are many people like me who have been advised not to get any more sun damage to their skin?

              1. Medbh

                I’ve read a number of articles that suggest the benefit of Vitamin D isn’t the vitamin itself, but rather it’s association with sun exposure. I’ve had skin cancer, so I’m familiar with the recommendation to avoid all sun. It never made a lot of sense to me, as you’d think humans spent most of their history outside.

                If you do a search for benefits of sun exposure, you’ll find a bunch of studies on how sun exposure improves outcomes for a wide range of illnesses, including the big ones like cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, skin conditions, cancers, etc.

                1. Krystyn Podgajski


                  Conclusions  These findings indicate that oxidative stress may play different roles in the pathogenesis of human skin cancers. In non‐melanoma skin cancer, a diminished antioxidant defence caused by chronic UV exposure might contribute to multistep carcinogenesis, whereas melanoma cells exhibit increased oxidative stress which could damage surrounding tissue and thus support the progression of metastasis.

            1. Foy

              Yep, which reminds me of that great line from Tao Te Ching

              “Those who say don’t know and those who know don’t say”

        2. Barbara

          Being old, I grew up when it was assumed that you got your Vitamin D from being out in the sunshine. There was a point when some were decrying the Vitamin D added to milk because it was unnecessary.

          That’s the way I lived throughout most of my life until I found in my 60’s that I had a D deficiency. And now I take my vitamin D3 daily, especially as it supposedly has a function in staving off things like memory loss.

          Then there were hints coming out that Vitamin D has a positive role in corona virus protection. Good news.

          And one of my many medications includes Zinc

          I wear masks outside the house and practice social distancing.

          So far, so good.

          1. HotFlash

            And now I take my vitamin D3 daily, especially as it supposedly has a function in staving off things like memory loss.

            Me too. Well, as with my gingko, when I remember.

      2. rd

        I take a Vitamin D supplement as well as flaxseed oil. But I always make sure to take it with a meal, so it is getting processed along with a bunch of food. I don’t believe any nutrient supplements are standalone – they have to be integrated in a diet.

        Things like tea will also interfere with absorption of iron, esepcially non-heme iron from vegetable sources.

        So basic rule is varied diet with varying sources of different nutrients.

        1. HotFlash

          My DH’s ex-father-in-law, a food chemist/mathematician of some renown, after decades in the field, concluded that the people who would do the best, nutrition-wise, were either 1.) the people who were right in on the cutting edge of food science research, or 2.) the people who paid no attention to published food science research and just ate what they liked. Which was better? “Well,” he figured, “it’s 50-50.”

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            i’m definitely in the latter category.
            brother’s wife is in the former…wants to live forever.
            after reading something about bread crusts and the brown tasty parts of french fries being statistically correlated with cancer(and yelled about for clickbait) many years ago, she insists on buying crustless bread(!)
            or OD-ing on Kale when that was a thing.
            I refuse to live that way.
            of course, when wife got type 2 Diabetes, I modified our general intake…or hers, like tonight, which is spaghetti nite(she gets less pasta)…and i really don’t care for corporate factory food any way….so we just don’t buy it.
            so it’s all good.
            and I get all my vitamin D from Sol, and am generally pretty bronzed by late march from gardening as naked as i can get away with. I’ll live until I don’t, and enjoy food I like on the way, and not worry about living til I’m 120.

  3. jr


    “American elite culture today is oriented around hostility to people who have unpopular but accurate observations.”

    This observation triggered a memory from a film I watched years ago, Mephisto. It’s about an opera house director whose career becomes entangled with the rise of the Nazi party. It’s been years but as I recall there is a scene where a high ranking general and his wife are taking their seats in a packed hall and the crowd is going simply wild with applause, looking on in abject worship of the power and fanfare embodied in the man and, by extension, in his wife. A cult of power and a mass display of obesience; it’s an incredible scene.

    It struck to me that it’s a symbol of this headset Stiller describes, an incestuous fascination with the echoes of one’s own thoughts, a sort of dopamine loop of logic, it’s right because it’s right, therefore it’s right. And shiny too! Which of course makes everyone else wrong.

    I’ve seen it growing in friends and family over the last few years. It’s an inability to criticize one’s thinking, never one of humanity’s strong points in the best of times. In some instances, it’s an outright rejection of the notion that one should even try. It sometimes presents a facade of personal liberty as its justification: “You have your facts, I have mine.” Often, you don’t even get this semblance of “balance”, your facts are just ignored because they don’t fit into the current mental CandyCrush puzzle. Most primitive of all are the ones who think you’re wrong merely because of who you are. And they have been coagulating into this preening blob of consensus, an echo chamber of their own mucus and spittle, clapping and cheering for themselves, not noticing that the time of return between each echo is getting shorter and shorter…

    1. Dirk77

      Still, some replies in that twitter thread did bring up good criticism, so apparently critical thinking is still alive to some extent. Such as the tweet that the NYT article conveniently failed to mention Cuomo and nursing homes.

      1. jr

        For some reason the link takes me to another account whenever I tried to follow the thread, but sure, I agree. And I didn’t mean to darken my points too much with a Nazi reference, it was just that scene that really clicked.

        It is a fantastic movie, I highly recommend it.

  4. The Rev Kev

    “How Russians are Reading Bolton and Trump”

    I think that the author is fascinated by the latest shiny object in the form of John “Yosemite Sam” Bolton. Perhaps we should listen to a Russian in how they view present day America and I have just the guy in mind – Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov. He did an interview about a month ago and he has a lot to say but a key passage was when he said-

    ‘We don’t believe the U.S. in its current shape is a counterpart that is reliable, so we have no confidence, no trust whatsoever. So our own calculations and conclusions are less related to what America is doing than to many, many other things.’

    They have a point. A few days ago the US and Russia got together to have an arms negotiations session. So the US decided to use the negotiation to embarrass the Chinese by having a table with chairs and Chinese flags for the Chinese, even though they are not part of these negotiations. This is the present level of US negotiation techniques-

    1. Winston Smith

      Personally, I think that quote from Ryabkov is probably a reflection of what US “allies” know but cannot speak out loud

    2. fresno dan

      The Rev Kev
      June 26, 2020 at 8:49 am

      Trump: I will hire the best people
      Trump hires Bolton
      Trump: Bolton is a liar and grossly incompetent

      Uh, if I were Russian, I think I would find that…erratic. So…why was Bolton hired? Does Trump know Pompeo’s views any better than Bolton’s???

      One other thing – I did a Google search “What is the worst thing Trump said about Bolton”
      Practically ALL of the results were about what Bolton was saying about Trump.
      So is it time for triple tinfoil or is it merely typical American quality in action?

      1. rd

        Hiring Bolton never made sense. Bolton has never seen a country that couldn’t be greatly improved by invading it while Trump was campaigning on ending overseas wars.

        1. s.n.

          Hiring Bolton never made sense.

          wasn’t it one of the conditions sheldon adelson insisted on in return for continuiing his record-breaking [40-million-dollar] contributions to the GOP?

    3. MLTPB

      Odd that Russia is negotiating with someone they claim to be unreliable/not ‘agreement capable.’

  5. bassmule

    On mask shaming: I went to the Holyoke MA Mall yesterday to get my ailing laptop diagnosed. The front doors to the mall were covered with signs that said “You must wear a mask.” At the Apple Store, I had to answer a short questionnaire (Do you have a cough, trouble breathing, etc.) then had my temperature taken. Then was escorted into the store and parked at the Genius Bar (yeah….) to await help. An Apple employee was chatting with a young man about his phone. The guy’s mask was not covering his nose. The employee said nothing. There was also a woman who was talking to another employee with her mouth uncovered. That employee said nothing, either. I left. Outside in the mall, there were dozens of people with masks at half-mast or just hanging below the mouth. There were also dozens of young men wearing black outfits that said “Security” on them. They said nothing to any of the people who were partially unmasked.

    So all these steps (questionnaire, temperature-taking, distancing) are, it seems, just theater. My guess is the word came down from Corporate to take these measures, but employees don’t want enforcement to be part of their job. So yes, shaming won’t work. But perhaps enforcement might, if anyone were to actually try it?

    1. Winston Smith

      If you are indoors you should wear your mask properly and be cattle prodded at low voltage if you insist on not doing so. Outdoors is a different story. I routinely go for a walk around a reservoir in my city and it seems that some people wearing masks think that physical distancing is no longer necessary if you are wearing a mask. Outdoors, I would greatly prefer to have people distancing than be shamed to have a piece of cloth around their necks that they pretend to use.

    2. Keith

      Like the TSA’s Security theater. The goal is to make people feel better about coming back out. I see this even at Costco, they are aggressive about you have a mask on upon entering, but you regularly see people with them off once they get inside, or just partially wearing them.

      On that note, there are exceptions to wearing a mask, if there are certain medical conditions. I do not recall off the top of my head, but I wonder if the employees are told not to enforce due to the potential of insulting a person with a condition that does not allow them to wear a mask. Trying to enforce the rules on these people could bring potential ADA claims, or at least headlines from a potential lawsuit. I may be over thinking this, but I wonder if this may be a factor.

      1. Redlife2017

        Ha Ha. We have mask theatre amongst the few people that go to work. They have to wear them into / out of the building, but they are having meetings without masks on in rooms with really crap ventilation.

        1. rd

          Our office re-opening has closed conference rooms and the kitchen. 35% office capacity with checkerboard cubicles (cubicles actually have real partitions.) You don’t have to wear a amsk in your office or cubicle but must wear it when walking around. Talking to someobdy who has actually gone in, he says it is a ghost town. Most of us can work well from home so we are.

          We still avoid stores unless we really need something. We stay away from people in the stores and obviosuly wear a good multi-layer mask over mouth and nose. However, we have seen adults not doing that.

          We don’t wear masks when outdoors unless in a group sitting around close to each otehr, which we avoid anyway. Walking, cycling etc. are easy to do without being near other people, so we don’t wear masks then.

        2. Keith

          Not for the workers, but for encouraging shoppers. Shoppers pay sales taxes which local and state govts crave. As more and more shoppers come out, more and more businesses can open, which is what business owners and lobbyists crave. Making people feel safe is an important part of that. Making employees wear masks while encouraging others to do so can help, especially if you avoid offending any customer that does not want to bother.

    3. Carolinian

      From the story

      Americans are figuring out how to live with a deadly new virus now, just as gay men did in the early years of AIDS. Abstinence from sex wasn’t sustainable, and condoms became a ticket to greater sexual freedom. Likewise, Americans can’t abstain from human interaction forever, and widespread masking may be a ticket to more social and economic freedom. But trying to shame people into wearing condoms didn’t work—and it won’t work for masks either.

      Condoms for your face? Well why not?

      The story is arguing for common sense over vanity which in our current USA is always going to be a tall order. Personally I’d say it’s worth a shot even if many Covid accounts now say you are unlikely to get the disease at the grocery or pharmacy–the targets of recent South Carolina ordinances. Indeed the AIDS comparison–which has come up before–may be especially apt as you are once again posing public health versus the sex drive among the young where “distancing” is often the opposite of what is desired.

      Still, worth a shot.

      1. a different chris

        >The story is arguing for common sense over vanity

        Which is funny because 90%+ of us look better with masks on. We see a lot of good-looking people on TV shows and we think this reflects reality, despite our actual interactions with such.

        1. mpalomar

          speaking of funny it was not too many months ago that the hijab was a contentious subject in some places.

    4. Baby Gerald

      Thanks for your testimony from Holyoke Mall, bassmule. Seems that service workers have been trained for so long by management to kowtow to customers at risk of losing their jobs, they will keep doing so even at risk of losing their lives. That twitter thread about Southwest Airlines tells me all I need to know about the cavalier attitude people are taking regarding masks. When even the stewards won’t adhere to the rule, why expect the customers?

      My 74-year old father loves to go to Las Vegas once or twice a year to escape the cold Adirondack mountain he has chosen to live on in his retirement. This year I thought he might delay his trip until the COVID crisis had receded but learned last week that he was excited about his departure for sun and sand lined up for this past Tuesday. NC ran a link to an article about service workers in LV complaining about how few customers are wearing masks the very next morning. My dad’s airline of choice? Southwest. Now this twitter thread.

      My old man loves to brag about how he tips the waitresses and service people so well and how they all know his name at the hotel at which he regularly stays, but will he wear a mask for their benefit? I didn’t ask but I sincerely doubt it. If he doesn’t think this disease is worth curtailing an airline trip to a hub of infection, I doubt he’ll believe his mask wearing is effective or worth his effort.

      Coincidentally, my brother’s girlfriend and her mother planned and are taking a trip to LV that same week. My brother was also a bit distressed by this news, wondering if maybe they should have postponed it during a pandemic in which the number of cases in Nevada have tripled over the last three weeks. He was reassured by his girlfriend that mask-wearing was obligatory and not to worry. I sent him the aforementioned story about the casino workers to set that story straight.

      But despite all my brother’s worried posturing, it’s not like this pandemic was going to change his plans for he and his girlfriend to fly down to Florida next week for a vacation stay at a rental house on the beach. I am not sure which airline they are taking but sent him the link to the tweet about Southwest just now to see if that changes his outlook. If the DIVOC-91 charts about FL weren’t going to change his mind, maybe this testimony will. But again, I doubt it. People’s habits and wants can be powerful things to change, even during pandemics.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I can only sympathize with your situation and can imagine your feelings when they come back from their trips. Exasperation does not come even close. I hate to say it but with your dad and your brother, perhaps you should mask up and wear gloves the first fortnight after they get back. Gotta keep yourself healthy if you are going to help them if they need it.

        1. Baby Gerald

          Thanks for your concern, Kev. Luckily, I don’t live near either of them- my dad is in a very small town in the Adirondacks and is socially distanced by default. He has a wife to worry about, and that’s about all. My brother is set up in western MA and works from home since the pandemic began, so if he is quarantined with his girlfriend for two weeks he probably will get through it fine. I wish I could say I would help them if something happened, but would do so only with the ability to say ‘I told you so’ with utter impunity.

          I spoke with my dad on the phone today and he seems to be fine in Vegas. Didn’t ask him about mask wearing there or on the flight out but doubt he would tell me the truth even if I did. My brother got a text from me with only the link to yesterday’s NY Times story ‘Florida Smirked at NY’s Coronavirus Crisis. Now It Has Its Own’ and he responded with ‘We won’t be around anyone and I’m going to cook or use takeout or delivery only’ as his reasoning for thinking they will be safe. I can’t respond to that in any way that is going to change his mind, so I didn’t. As if he and his girlfriend are going to teleport to the house they’re staying at and will be buying food in unoccupied grocery stores. I can only shake my head because he was the first one scorning our old man for going to Vegas. Compared to Florida, Nevada looks like Mongolia.

    5. Katniss Everdeen

      Before I jump on the “enforcement” bandwagon I’d like a very clear, concrete explanation of what that looks like.

      I mean, are we talking broken taillights in Texas or jaywalking in Ferguson, MO here? And I’m not in any kind of favor of neighbors ratting on neighbors, “citizen patrols” ala George Zimmerman / Trayvon Martin, or apple geniuses vs. Karen cage matches at the mall.

      IMNSHO, anything that could get excused after the shit hits the fan as, “Seemed like a good idea at the time” is a non-starter.

      1. Carolinian

        Most of the versions of these laws make it a misdemeanor with (local example) $25 fine. In the nearby town it only applies to grocery stores and pharmacies although employees of all retail are already required to mask. I’d say it’s highly dubious whether anybody will be getting a fine although having the law would presumably give the store an excuse to ask you to leave (they probably won’t do that either).

        What it may do is cause a lot more people to mask up and peer pressure could take care of the rest.

        And yes it may not do any good (we would know in a few weeks) but I personally don’t see much downside. In my town we have laws against running stop signs that are widely ignored including by the police but I don’t think that means we should take them off the books.

        1. Bystander

          In our large metropolitan area, the police went on record as soon as this all started, saying that they wouldn’t enforce any COVID rules. They said it wasn’t their job, it was up to the Health Department to enforce. Well HD has virtually zero enforcement officers. And when the stay-home rule finally came out, it had 40 categories of exemptions. That’s 40 CATEGORIES, not 40 specific exemptions. Virtually everything was exempt. The only things that were closed were dine-in restaurants, beauty supply houses (temporarily) and tattoo parlors. Otherwise the streets were still packed with cars, people were everywhere without face masks, and basically it was as if nothing odd was happening. You can guess what happened. Without even a token attempt at enforcement by the only ones having the manpower and authority to do it, we’ve had well over 500 deaths in the county I live in. Over 6,000 total cases. Both numbers going up daily, thanks to a lack of common sense on the part of the citizens, and a lack of enforcement by those who plaster their cars with “To Protect and Serve.”

      2. Spring Texan

        I agree 100%, it will give police a great excuse to hassle POC and poor people. Not for it. Thanks for making this excellent point.

        As with not making a lane change or a broken taillight, enforcement will be selective.

    6. Dr. John Carpenter

      From my experience in retail (and specifically Apple, coincidentally,) you have no power at the bottom of the food chain to do anything with regard to enforcement, as you’ve termed it. And if you step beyond politely asking someone to comply, that’s a very quick way to find your self out of a job. Any of that type of stuff is supposed to be shuffled off to a manager, which is difficult to do when you’re expected to juggle several customers in a crowded store and managers are in short supply.

      And speaking of enforcement, I’d encourage you to search for the video of the Florida man trying to fight his way into Walmart without a mask. I’m sorry, but those associates don’t get paid enough to put up with that. If they need bouncers, they need to hire bouncers. That’s not the job those folks signed up for. I can completely understand why these employees don’t want one more responsibility chucked on them, especially dealing with entitled and potentially violent people over this issue.

      Just to be clear, I agree with the mask policy, but that shouldn’t be the responsibility of the person fixing your iPhone or bagging your groceries to enforce that policy.

    7. tongorad

      Re your mall experience, just imagine how mask will “work” in the K-12 environment. Opps, my state (TX) has not mandated them for teachers or students in school environments. Due to the insane workloads, in the past I’ve regarded teaching as more of death march than a career. About to get a lot more real I suppose, as our vicious governor has declared we’re back to school in the fall.

    1. Massinissa

      I mean, they’re all fans of the vigilante The Punisher from Marvel comics. Its not surprised there are ex-police who have daydreams of being violent vigilantes. The rot goes deep, really deep.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      Does anyone honestly think that cops across the country are just going to kneel on command, take the political abuse, and say, “Please, Sir, I want some more?”

      Cops are out of control precisely because the civilians who are elected to supervise them are weak, incompetent political creatures who couldn’t manage their way out of a paper bag. (See joe biden for an example on the national level.)

      There is no way that police forces that have been permitted to run wild for decades in the interest of “law and order” will become docile and subservient because elected weaklings demand it or “promise” it on the campaign trail. Hasn’t ANYBODY ever watched The Wire or The Shield????

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          the half(?) of eligible voters who don’t vote.
          admittedly not a very effective protest.

          1. Mr. House

            vote for tweedle dee or tweedle dink?

            I want a republican or democrat to run with the only stated goal being to break up the monopoly of the two parties who make it almost impossible for anyone to run outside of their lanes.

            1. John Anthony La Pietra

              Well, did Lawrence Lessig come close enough for you last time?

              In August 2015 he announced he would run for the Democratic nomination for President on a platform of campaign-finance and political reform if people would donate $1 million by Labor Day. He made it with a day to spare. But the polls wouldn’t mention him at first, which kept him out of an early debate. And when he did qualify with enough support in the polls, the DNC changed their rules so he wouldn’t qualify — and so shortly after that, he dropped out.

            2. Odysseus

              If you want to break the two party system, you need to change the ways that states themselves run elections. Either institute Instant Runoff Voting (Maine), Jungle Primaries (California, Louisiana, Washington) or some other method that doesn’t lock in the two party system.

              That can’t be done from the Presidential level.

  6. zagonostra

    Below is a good summary of the political/financial world we are living in from Jesse’s Cafe Americain, except for the last sentence; everybody sees it coming it’s just that when the music stops they/we think there will be a chair to sit and wait it out while everyone else is thrown out of the game. And so for now the music plays on…

    The distractions and diversions intended to provide cover for the looting, which historically have been called ‘bread and circuses’ are running hot and heavy. The masters of distraction are engaging people’s worst sides and turning them into useful idiots for the moneyed interests.

    Well, there will be hell to pay. It will most likely be ‘the mother of all collapses.’ But that is for the future.

    They know what they are doing. Trump and the Congress know what they are doing. They do not care. They are getting paid.

    And so no one can see it coming.

    1. Mr. House

      Nah bro, we just got to get rid of Trump and this will all go away. Racism will end when Trump is gone, Poverty will also be shown the door along with inequality! YA JUST GOT TO BELIEVE! Many people on the street have told me this so it must be true! /s

    2. anon in so cal

      Cedric Johnson on how “the new corporate blackwashing” is helping the investor class:

      “The gestural politics of the moment, reflected in terms like “white skin privilege” and “post-traumatic slavery disorder” have been heartily embraced by the investor class precisely because they deflect from the actual corporate decisions that justify exploitation, rationalize obsolescence and waste, and reproduce inequality all in pursuit of profit….”

  7. fresno dan

    “It’s really important to understand we’re not seeing reality,” says neuroscientist Patrick Cavanagh, a research professor at Dartmouth College and a senior fellow at Glendon College in Canada. “We’re seeing a story that’s being created for us.”

    Most of the time, the story our brains generate matches the real, physical world — but not always. Our brains also unconsciously bend our perception of reality to meet our desires or expectations. And they fill in gaps using our past experiences.
    Remember The Dress – it was a thing a few years ago whether it was black and blue or white and gold.
    I have a friend whom I send articles about the brain. I mentioned The Dress was in the article and that NO WAY did I think the dress was black and blue. I sent the article with comment and went I clicked back on the article The Dress was black and blue! I clicked in and out of the article and refreshed the computer and looked at other pictures of the dress and it remained black and blue.*
    Where you stand depends on where you sit.
    And what you see depends on where you’ve been…

    * Larks and nightowls. The theory seemed to fit me as I get up at 4 am, and many times at 3 am. But that actually means that I am in darkness as long as a nightowl because I am up before the sun is up.

    1. jr

      Hmm, so I’m not seeing reality. But the neuroscientist knows there is this real reality out there somewhere, no doubt one of models of probability fields and particles ultimately derived from some sort of model…but we can’t actually ever experience it because we can’t experience reality. We are trapped in this gelatin of illusion, which often times seems to correspond to reality but sometimes doesn’t. You know, the real reality. That one no one can actually experience. So we have to construct models of it predicated on…illusions? (To be clear, not the whirly gigs and moving dots, the, um, “realer” illusions that we experience.) You can’t claim they are predicated on reality, that’s unapproachable, remember? We then test those illusions against other illusions to arrive at….Ultimate Conclusions?

      Oof, wouldn’t want to try to defend that position…

      It’s almost a kind of, well, a Bizarro World metaphysical position. I mean, this real reality is more meta than sarcastic Postmodernist party chatter, more meta than a blue wig atop blue hair, more meta than, well meta, since the thought “meta” must also too be an illusion. Right?, cause according to the neuro-metaphysician-scientist I can’t ever even experience myself, myself being a part of the world and therefore ultimately unapproachable except through………………………………….illusion.

      Got it.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        one of my eldest’s best buddies is interested in Philosophy…so i gave him some books that i thought were good introductory material…and am available whenever they have some beer and sausages and a campfire.
        on one such night, at one point, after some of the Delphic Aphorisms that are scattered through the underbrush sparked a conversation(as intended…pats own head), I was given the opportunity to Hold Forth…and as an aside, said “Aaron, I can’t prove that You exist…”.
        which is perfectly True, an an age old philosophical conundrum.
        it was just an aside, in answer to a minor quibble…but it stopped everything in it’s tracks,lol.
        I used it as an example of the value of Pragmatism…it’s fun to speculate about such unprovable things…that we’re all inside the eye of a blue eyed giant, or whatever…but if you want to exist in the world, you have to just accept some things as “Proven”, at least tentatively(Popper:”All Knowledge is Provisional”)…until better information comes along: I accept that the sky is blue due to Nitrogen having a habit of reflecting blue wavelengths of light, and move on…and I accept that Jesus was just a guy(if an extraordinary one), until he shows up before me upon my death, or materialises out of the ether, or whatever.
        This settled matters, and they all moved on to the degrees of Hawtness of various chicks they know.
        The Greek focus on Eudaimonia, Arete and Phronesis are important to keep in mind when thinking about Philosophy, so as to avoid getting lost in one’s navel.

      2. Grebo

        Either there is an objective reality or there isn’t. If not there’s no point in discussing it because you’re not real.

        If there is, how come we don’t all agree on every detail of its nature? Because we can only perceive it imperfectly. We cannot see atoms or magnetic fields. We can build machines that can, and we agree on what they tell us.

        Amongst other things, they have told us that we are the master who makes the grass green.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          i like it!
          my stepdad is colorblind…sees everything in reds and browns and grays and blacks…that’s his normal.
          many times we’ve drank beer on the porch and played with that…especially when the boys were smaller: ‘and what color is THIS, Pa?”
          strange to try to get your head around.
          he’s literally never seen green, however formulated…or blue.
          he sees the sky and that tree in a totally different way.
          at different times, in their respective development, I encouraged each boy…during these philosophical wanderings…to attempt to describe blue or green to him as they see it,lol….without referencing blue or green things.
          fun times.

          1. jr

            Thank you for your points!

            I respectfully disagree with you both. That link is hooey. We are not merely another kind of “instrument” soaking up data from this magical fairyland objective reality thats constantly being proposed. We are conscious; if the writer doesn’t see a difference between himself and a snarky microscope well, hmmm. And instruments don’t have some special privileged observers status, peeking “through the veil” as it were. They provide simply another observation made well within the confines of the observable universe, by definition. A raptors eyes can see a rabbit a mile away but we don’t claim they can see into another dimension; wasps can see in UV but we don’t make that claim either. Neither does a spectroscope, or any scope, they simply extend our visual range. Where else could we be looking through them? The “real” reality, you know, the one that materialism cannot, by it’s own standards, demonstrate exists?

            The notion that non-vertebrate life is merely “surviving” speaks to a jaundiced, mechanistic view of life. He literally admits that the mind of an invertebrate and ours are utterly different then proceeds to tells us exactly what it’s not thinking. Now, I strongly suspect sea worms are not writing sonatas. But that’s a far different thing than claiming it’s merely surviving. As if it’s somehow simply “doin’ time” by living. Just a squishy ball of chemical reactions and stimuli. Right. Denigrating life, especially human life, is a common failing of the materialist…we’re always “just” bio computers or some other reductionist mental cul de sac. Which just so happens to jive with the dominant political ideology of our times but that’s another conversation

            Yet in another sense, he’s right, although he doesn’t know it. Life is survival, or at least the attempt. Humans in their most fanciful, flowery moments of thought are merely surviving because being able to think such thoughts is one of the ways we deal with the raw burden of being alive and the knowledge of its opposite. It’s why we drink, write poetry, dance, flick boogers at the wall…these are all survival mechanisms for a consciousness of our type as much as hiding from a sabre-toothed wombat. He needs to read his Dr. Johnson*:

            “He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.” ― Samuel Johnson

            I would argue that making an angel of oneself bears a similar goal in mind. Can anyone think of a time when humans existed that we didn’t do at least some of these things? Can anyone think of their own life without pursuits beyond simple brute survival? Has the man never heard of a lithophone? The authors understanding of survival, and in turn life, fails coming and going…

            But back to the point: this unicorn land really real reality that materialism proposes. It just seems so clunky and complicated, seeing things that can’t be seen, this whole other existence we can’t exist in but then somehow a microscope can bridge these unbridgeables. Jeepers. Well, there is an easier way, one that puts consciousness at the center of the question, you know, the thing we actually are able to experience without a doubt. It’s called monistic idealism. It does a far better job of explaining our existence than materialisms fantasies or pragmatisms tossing in the towel.
            There is a gentleman, Bernardo Kastrup, whose writings on it I find quite compelling…

            *Disclaimer: I’ve only ever read that quote from Samuel Johnson.

            1. Grebo

              What a bizarre interpretation of the article. I didn’t get any of that from it. Clearly our priors (I wrote the above before reading it) have affected our perceptions.

              I don’t have time now to delve deeply into monistic idealism but I suspect it amounts to solipsism, which can’t be disproved but/therefore I don’t like it.

  8. allan

    A COVID-19, Healthcare and Trump Transition trifecta:

    Hospice sales reps accused of sneaking into hospitals, nursing homes amid coronavirus [NY Post]

    A Florida hospice chain prodded its sales reps to sneak into hospitals and nursing homes in search of terminally ill patients at the height of the coronavirus pandemic — even if it meant falsely posing as staff, a new lawsuit claims.

    Vitas Healthcare of Miami improperly declared its sales staffers “essential” to get around government-ordered lockdowns — and then sent them to scour for new business in ways that endangered the health of both staffers and patients, according to a class-action complaint filed in California state court by a Bay Area sales rep.

    Vitas, nation’s biggest for-profit hospice chain, knew that its sales reps could be turned away, so it “openly encouraged sales representatives to skirt entry checkpoints at hospitals by posing as hospital employees,” the lawsuit claims. …

    But surely, Vitas should be congratulated for innovatively disrupting
    the end-of-life-healthcare-funding-extraction space … oh, wait …

    In 2013, the United States filed a lawsuit against Chemed Corporation, Vitas Hospice Services LLC, and Vitas Healthcare Corporation for the submission of false claims from 2002 through 2013. “The government’s complaint alleges that Chemed and Vitas Hospice knowingly submitted or caused the submission of false claims to Medicare for crisis care services that were not necessary, not actually provided, or not performed in accordance with Medicare requirements.”[10] In 2017, the organization agreed to pay 75 million dollars in order to settle the lawsuit. “’Today’s resolution represents the largest amount ever recovered under the False Claims Act from a provider of hospice services,’ said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.”[11]

    That “Acting Assistant Attorney General” tells you all you need to know about who slapped Vitas’ wrist,
    but there’s a twist: Chad Readler served in that position twice, from January 30 – November 16, 2017,
    and then, after taking a long Thanksgiving break, again from December 11, 2017– September 4, 2018.
    In other words, he was in charge of the Civil Division for almost two years
    without being confirmed by the Senate. The good news is that for this thankless toiling
    keeping the world safe for the front-row kids, he was suitably rewarded:

    On June 7, 2018, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Readler to serve as a
    United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. …
    On March 6, 2019, his nomination was confirmed by a vote of 52–47.[12] …

    And, needless to say,

    He is a member of the Federalist Society.[13]

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      I used to work for Vitas as an inpatient social worker and they were completely predatory. I often found myself having to drag my feet on complying with directives that served the bottom line but not the patients and their families. Luckily there was so much incompetence along with the bean counting it was often possible to subvert these directives.

      The marketers (all nurses btw and they don’t call them marketers of course but liaisons and admission nurses) gave families the impression they could stay at the inpatient unit with no fixed time limitation and they arrived grateful for an alternative since the hospital would no longer keep them.

      But actually Vitas wanted them discharged within 5 days, and it was supposed to be my job to pressure them to make the arrangements. And our inpatient unit was much nicer than either the hospital or any nursing home, with better staff ratios, private rooms and no limits on family being present. It really amounted to a bait and switch.

      The nurses’ assessment of the patient’s condition rather than a set time frame was my guide for how hard to push discharge planning. Just couldn’t stomach foisting another debilitating transfer on patients (and their families) in their last days of life to save a few pennies.

      Working in for-profit healthcare requires a certain guerrilla mentality. Management was much more concerned with enrolling new patients than serving the ones we already had.

      1. Mr. House

        “Management was much more concerned with enrolling new patients than serving the ones we already had.”

        Was government money involved?

  9. The Rev Kev

    “The Dudes Who Won’t Wear Masks”

    Not just an American phenomenon. Right now in Oz, there are outbreaks of this virus taking place across the city of Melbourne (Capital of Victoria). Panic buying is back. They are doing a bucket lot of testing but they refuse to shut down the city. It’s like they are waiting for something. Meanwhile, reporters are talking to planeloads of travelers from Melbourne who have just arrived in Oz’s biggest city – Sydney. Seriously? But getting back to Melbourne, there are some people who still regard this as no big deal. They interviewed one guy and this is what happened-

    ‘But while some Broadmeadows locals expressed fear and urged their fellow residents to heed health warnings, others described the virus as “rubbish”.
    “I’ve been out and about, and everyone has, and I haven’t met a person that’s got it,” one young man said.
    He said he was still hugging and kissing people in greeting, instead of keeping the recommended 1.5 metres apart, and said COVID-19 was not dangerous because he was young and healthy.
    “It’s not deadly, it’s like any other virus,” he said.
    “It’s killing old people. A person who’s 99 years old is dying, 100 years old is dying … they’re going to die the next day regardless, so why does it matter?
    “I’m not going to stop my whole life for coronavirus, I’ve got to work, I’ve got a business to run … just like everyone else in Broadmeadows.” ‘

    We have a word to describe such people in Oz. We call them d***heads. He is literally a dude who won’t wear a mask. But it gets better. Scotty from Marketing went on TV today and he was adamant that all the States had to open up to each other next month. He said: ‘”But where you get bumps and when you get outbreaks, then you need to manage them and you need to respond to them, and that is what exactly what is happening.”‘ The man is an idiot. Victoria and New South Wales (our most populous States) may have opened to each other but all the other States are treating them as if they were pariahs. And until the present outbreaks, the Victorian leader was going feral at the other States for not opening up to them-

    1. Winston Smith

      You mention “d***heads”…what about “nong”? Is that a harsh enough word?

      1. Paul O'Sullivan

        No. Not sufficiently harsh. We have other, shorter, words but I don’t type them.

      2. The Rev Kev

        I did have a few other choice words in mind but this is after all a family-friendly blog.

          1. JBird4049

            Just what in Perdition is so evil about wearing a mask? It is just an inconvenience that may say other people’s lives as a virus does not care about anything but reproducing even if it means killing you. Are some so concerned about their own mere comfort that they are willing to let others die and did I just answer my own question? Twits.

            1. flora

              My point with the cartoon had nothing to do with masks and everything to do with the hairless head shape of Dilbert’s boss’s boss, and also said uber-boss’s clueless demands to staff over these past years of the Dibert cartoon. The ‘d**khead’ boss doesn’t show up often, but when he does it’s always a bad sign for the company’s and workers’ future existance in said company. ;)

    2. cnchal

      That one young man fails at logic by equating stopping his whole life with wearing a hideous looking mask and keeping some distance from the next person in casual encounters. I suppose it’s only normal for someone that ignorant of the facts.

      To the dudes who won’t wear masks, imagine your exhale as a deadly weapon randomly infecting others.

      1. jr

        It smacks of the whole “I need a haircut!”silliness. This notion not only minimizes the severity of COVID, an existential threat. It degrades the loopy-heads own sense of personal agency. No other ideas, folks?

        Here’s one: get a pair of trimmers and buzz your head. I did, laughed with my nieces who shrieked when they saw me, and now it’s growing back. Imagine, as a show of solidarity, everyone who could get away with it buzzed their heads. Problem solved for months. But no, these helpless Americans only rose to this dire challenge by holding signs, lamenting this “problem”, proclaiming their feebleness of imagination to the world.

    3. carl

      I think there should be a category called “Stupid People Doing Stupid Things” on NC. It would be mostly posts from the US though.

    4. eddie32

      there are medical conditions wherein the doctor suggests that you shouldn’t wear a mask as it will be detrimental for you (i have a non-mild version of asthma, this is what my doctor suggests).
      there are also many mental conditions that might prevent a person from wearing a mask such as somewhat serious case of claustrophobia.
      Its so nice to hear that you have characterized us all as ****heads, thx.
      maybe a little less self righteousness and possibly an ounce of understanding might help us all.
      Also, as others have already stated, most of the mask wearing is simply kabuki theatre

      1. Chris

        It’s not the lack of mask-wearing that makes them d**heads, Eddie, it’s the lack of mask wearing when visiting the ‘Serious Seven’. If your condition stops you wearing a mask, that’s fine. Just stay home.

    5. s.n.

      just fyi, you will see [and from early March onwards will have seen] very few if any masks worn by anyone in Denmark, and those only within the last few weeks (the airport has just insisted on masking, and i’m sure hospitals have all along). With the exception of an outbreak this past week in a Jutland provincial town, the Danish corona stats look very good right now and the country has reopened much of everything

  10. Gregorio

    “The characteristic temperament of cats may be a key factor influencing the health benefits of owning cats.”
    The cat may “own” the “owner,” but the “owner” doesn’t “own” the cat.

    1. a different chris

      Yup. “Dogs have owners, cats have staff”.

      I really need to read the article because I haven’t experienced (but it’s only like 5 decades and 50 or so family cats :)) any “characteristic” temperament!

      There have been even one or two cats that I thought actually saw me as slightly above servant-class, but I admit I may have simply been conned.

      1. jsn

        That class relationship you mention IS the “characteristic temprament of cats”.

        It’s really beyond servant / master though.

        No one has really gotten it right since the ancient Egyptians, just ask your cat.

    2. Maxwell Johnston

      A quote from the study (yes I actually read through it, as my family is owned by several cats): “….cats do not typically display obedient behaviors toward humans.” Glad to know that my observations have been borne out by scientific research.

      1. Gregorio

        From my unscientific and completely anecdotal observations, humans typically display obedient behavior towards cats, and at least in our home, so does the dog.

    3. Stephen V.

      Cats have staff, as the saying goes. Not so sure about hemowtf.
      Our youngest decided to skip dinner and stay out 2 nights in a row. What with cars, rednecks with guns, coons armadillos opossums & etc mommy and daddy were plenty worried. He shows up this a.m. hungry and unhurt and no explanation forthcoming. Emotional health benefits? He’s getting grounded for a…er, few hours.

    4. Amfortas the hippie

      i decided not to read through that,lol.
      Bob the Cat is a would-be tyrant…come in, go out, feed me, get up, this is my bed,open the door in response to his whining and he sits and licks, etc etc.
      I keep a spray bottle by my bed…”the Whip”…for reminding him who is really in charge around here.
      since my Eldest brought home the Wiggly Dog, things have gotten weird. Osa(dog) eats Bob’s food(and litter box contents) and wants very badly to play with him…Bob is having none of it,of course… but the demanding behaviour has lessened just a little bit.
      That “Whip” worked on the boys when they were little, too, by the way….especially in teaching them that certain gaseous emissions weren’t allowed in Dad’s room.

  11. zagonostra

    The below paragraph I just came across reminded me of when a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit brought against the DNC by ruling that although the court recognized that the DNC treated voters unfairly, since it is a private corporation, voters have no redress in court.

    There is no form of political power which is so ill-fitted to cope with plutocracy as democracy. Democracy has a whole se of institutions which are extra-legal, but are the most powerful elements in it; they are the party organization, the primary, the convention, etc. All this apparatus is well adapted to the purposes of plutocracy: it has to do with the formative stage of political activity; it is very largely operated in secret; it has a large but undefined field of legitimate, or quasi-legitimate, expenditure, for which there is no audit. As the operations of this apparatus are extra-legal they are irresponsible, yet they reach out to, and control, the public and civil functions. Even on the field of constitutional institutions, plutocracy always comes into the contest with a small body, a strong organization, a powerful motive, a definite purpose and a strict discipline, while on the other side is a large and unorganized body, without discipline, with its ideas undefined, its intertest poorly understood, with an indefinite good intention.

    William Graham Sumner (1840 -1910) from Social Darwinism

  12. JacobiteInTraining

    In my quest to spend a certain portion of my ‘time online budget’ NOT focusing on politics, and being a History buff, I thought this little ditty was amusing. If any of you remember a catchy little tune about school shootings from the early 2010’s called ‘Pumped Up Kicks’….you might be interested to see what it would sound like….

    …if written and sung in, say, 1066AD about an Anglo-Saxon kid in Wessex who is sick and tired of his abusive peers with their fancy footwear:

    Again, in the spirit of trivial goals…its amusing to see some folks start to advocate for trying to get the same song done in reconstructed-proto-indo-european.

  13. diptherio

    There seems to be a lot of chatter about this county in Oregon that has specifically exempted people of color (along with children and those with breathing issues) from the “mandatory” wearing of masks in public. I do understand the reasoning, but I can’t help but think this is only going to play into the hands of the divide-and-conquer set. The conspiracy hypothesists, of course, are all over this.

    1. JacobiteInTraining

      I feel like the ‘divide and conquer set’ could have people on ‘Side A’ suddenly decide to do a 180 and take on with fervent dedication 100% of the policies and talking points of ‘Side B’ – utterly repudiating all past positions…..and this would have no effect except to cause ‘Side B’ to also execute a retrograde maneuver and take on all of ‘Side A’ positions in retaliation.

      Well, no effect other then to reveal to a growing percentage of people that we basically have ‘Cult A Koolaid’ and ‘Cult B Koolaid’ to choose from.

      Kinda makes me want to stir up a batch of pineapple-scented extra-strength ‘Cult C Koolaid’ (available online at a ridiculously low LOW price!) to cash in on the process.

      1. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

        There was a tweet recently that the last 3 months have been an endless Willie Wonka boat ride. All the categories are scrambled; left, right, center. All a whirl

    2. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

      I do see a lot on Twitter about the conspiracy to kill all black people by encouraging them to be doubtful about the mask thing.

      Other than to go along with store policies and not mock the concerns of others, I’m not wearing it, either. Both in solidarity with people of color and more to the point that it’s a manufactured social engineering exercise. All these precautions were to allow the health care ‘industry’ to get prepared for a wave of sick people. (flatten the curve) Not to somehow eradicate the disease completely through total isolation of all people everywhere. The breathless ‘second wave’ hysteria has already begun.
      And I am also astonished how people who for decades called themselves ‘left’ or ‘dissenters’ or even ‘doubters of neoliberal globalism’ are doing flips to toe the line and demand more rigorous centralized control of people, smothering of dissenting voices and the ‘debunking’ of science that doesn’t fit into the narrative.

      And the Atlantic editorial board can take two steps back and literally F__ its own face.

      1. JBird4049

        Aside from being slightly more leftist both economically and socially, while being slightly more apt to be moralizing, unfortunately, while even being more absolutist on civil rights, I have not changed; in the past I would have been a normal democrat if a bit left of center, and perfectly acceptable to the political party albeit suspect, even though the purge of the leftists was ongoing. My strong support of and sympathy to religious freedom would have made me popular with the social conservatives in the Republicans.

        Today, I am considered a monster by both the neoliberal Democrats and the “conservative” Republicans. I am not woke enough for one side and considered not a leftist, but a Stalinist by the other, while my belief in civil rights, equality under the law, and this weird thing called “justice” makes me anathema, even disgusting or loathsome, to both of the groups as well.

        I have not really changed my core beliefs, but both parties have left me. One has gone economically conservative and socially crazy, and the other just insane with the former also tending towards totalitarianism and the latter to authoritarianism.

        It feels like the political establishment has covertly being creating an American Newspeak under the cover of politics. This explains some of the insanity for some of us are trying to use the old dictionary’s meanings, the more brainwashed are using this new dictionary’s meanings with most not realizing the change over. Just how can people have a conversation when one cannot say what they mean when what they say does not mean what they say. A great to confuse, enrage, divide, and conquer.

  14. The Rev Kev

    “Russia cannot afford another 15 years at war with the west”

    By golly, this author is right. Russia should wind back the clock to the 90s when the west had great relations with Russia and everybody will be happy again.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      “Russia cannot afford another 15 years at war with the west”

      I’d say the converse is also true, and getting truer by the second.

    2. Maxwell Johnston

      The comments are well worth reading, even if the article itself isn’t; one commenter in particular (going by the handle “popcorn journalism”) shreds the article line-by-line in a tour de force. I would only point out that in PPP terms, Russia’s economy ranks number 5 or 6 in the world (basically in a dead heat with the Germans), rather different from the number 11 that Philip Stephens mentions. Also I find the overall tone of the article interesting; it’s as if the FT is nudging Russia to join ‘the West’ against China. Makes one wonder what’s going on in the heads of the FT’s editors these days.

  15. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: $1.4 Billion in Stimulus Funds Sent to Dead People, Watchdog Finds NYT

    $1.4 billion is .5% of the $270 billion distributed. Under the circumstances, that’s not exactly the crime of the century, especially as government “expenditures” go.

    I’d be a lot more interested in the nyt investigating where the rest of the 2 trillion went. That probably wouldn’t be too heavy a journalistic lift since I suspect the bulk of it landed a lot closer to home.

    1. Stephen V.

      Ouch! Someone needs to study the multiplier effect of $$ to dead v. The trillion$ to zombie corporations.

    2. Glen

      It would be interesting to see what happens to stimulus funds sent to dead people, but I would suggest that IT IS MORE PRODUCTIVE than similar funds being given to Wall St:

      1) Stimulus funds that are sent to dead people and the check is never cashed – no harm, no foul.
      2) Stimulus funds sent to dead people and the check is cashed and the money is spent back into the local economy. Well, I suppose it’s illegal, and it the money could be spent on something illegal, that is an issue, but the money is spent into the local economy.

      Now, let’s examine the alternative:
      1) Stimulus funds spent buying up junk bonds for a walking dead company. Assuming most of this money is spent to enrich an executive manager’s pay or a rich investor’s portfolio, it’s pretty much going into some rich person’s bank account. It’s debatable how much of this money gets spent, locally or otherwise. Most of it may be given to a PE firm to go find an asset rich American company to buy and destroy, or buy up real estate somewhere to drive up prices.

      Now, I don’t have any data to back any of this up – it would be interesting to see what the data showed. I would not expect to see a serious study done since my basic assumption is that investing money back into Wall St has done little to nothing for real Americans for a long time now. Wall St and rich people as “job creators” is obviously a myth. Wall St is doing fine, but 40 million people are out of work.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “Yes, Defund the Cops – And Put Them Under Community Control”

    Sorry, but this whole idea of Defund the Police is so stupid. If I had to pick a slogan to alienate more people than it could get people aboard with, it would be that one. It’s like if the DNC picked it to short circuit the protests with like they did after the Ferguson riots. They would have done far better with a slogan saying Demilitarize the Police which far more people could come aboard with. The trouble is that after defunding the police, the police might pursue other interests rather than do their jobs when needed-

    1. Oso

      if by stupid you mean pointless because something founded upon white supremacy cannot be reformed, then i agree. police need to be abolished. the southpark cartoon is apt because it reflects their attitude towards the public, although in black and brown communities that has always been their approach. they’ve never served or protected anyone but the wealthy.
      hence the dichotomy which undermines all people being in the street right now, american attitude toward law enforcement mirrors their support of their military. the democrats will co-opt this movement and subsume within some broader programs. likely a more diverse police force will be the result. the increasing desperation within our communities will not settle for this tho, and if you look at the amount of white youth in the streets the dichotomy has blurred significantly. this is far past discontent now.

    2. Adam Eran

      “Defund” Sounds pretty accurate to me.

      Here’s U.S. population: 1981 – 229.5 million – 2017 – 325.1 million. That’s a 42% increase.

      Police funding: 1981 – $40 billion – 2017 – $115 billion. That’s a 287.5% increase.

      The truth is that for generations, the U.S. has been defunding the social safety net programs that would make police force less necessary. This includes releasing mental patients, reducing welfare, and being miserly with Social Security Disability (you typically have to hire an attorney to navigate a disability application).

      I have friends who are policemen (and women), and I want their jobs to be safer. The social safety net used to be acknowledged as a cheap way to ensure social peace. Now, it’s a commonplace for people to believe only frauds and cheats (“welfare queens”) get such support. As Warren Buffet acknowledges, there’s a class war going on, “And,” says Buffet, “My class is winning.”

      1. J.k

        Yes, nypd, yearly budget alone is over 6 BILLION. Thats larger than than the MILITARY budget for some countries. North Korea is around 2.5 billion, Venezuela at its peak was around 6 billion , currently only .5 billion. Im sure you can find other examples. At the very least, the massively bloated departments around the country can afford some defunding.

      2. Oh

        If your police friends lose their jobs they can always learn to code. /s

        In the meanwhile let’s defund the police and take away their fancy weapons and cars, etc

    3. David

      You are making the (pardonable) assumption that the people parroting this slogan actually mean what they say, and want to abolish the police and replace them with something they can’t quite define. But actually this is an example of a well-known political tactic, as old as the hills, whose purpose is to discipline your own followers and ensure that, in the words of that nice Mr Biden, nothing is going to change. Demanding police reform, for example, which is clearly needed, risks starting a real debate and even leading to actual changes, in cities controlled by the Democrats. Better to make incoherent demands that stand no chance of being met.
      Extreme demands are also useful as disciplinary devices. People who know better, perhaps because they have been to countries like some in Africa where the police have been well and truly defunded, or just seen the news from Glasgow today, can be marginalised by being forced to adopt ridiculous slogans under pain of ostracism if they don’t. They then have to mumble embarrassedly that words don’t mean what the dictionary says they do.

      1. Aumua

        We’re talking about cutting budgets here. Does that seem incoherent, extreme or unreasonable to you? How about ending the war on drugs for a practical policy change that will enable most police department’s budgets to be reduced significantly?

    4. Aumua

      It’s been proven to my satisfaction that these organizations resist all attempts at reforming them.

      While I think simply pulling the plug on the police is insane while our society remains in it’s current state, I’m for aggressively cutting PD budgets (which is 1/3 of our city’s entire budget btw). I don’t mean 3% or 4%. I mean 20% to start, something significant. Then we can have a discussion about what to do with those funds to fill in the gaps previously filled by police. The cops that get laid off are just going to have to find something productive to do with their lives.

  17. John C.

    Re: Wirecard and auditing/EY — a slightly different emphasis in this FT piece (vs. Bloomberg)

  18. Expat2uruguay

    “Eyes on the Ties”, what a great name for a Blog that tracks corporate malfeasance!

    Corporate Backers of the Blue: How Corporations Bankroll U.S. Police Foundations – “Eyes on the Ties”

    The first link under the Police State Watch heading.

  19. Th Pale Scot

    The only way to deal with the maskless is to cancel their whole family’s health insurance.
    Take a picture of them, post it, dox them and let them handle the costs out of their own pocket. Screw having one cent of the 8000 a year I pay for a policy going to these cretins

    PS. If this goes into moderation, could one of you kind souls email me and tell me why this happens?

  20. The Historian

    More chaos from the Trump Administration. Trump wants the Supreme Court to strike down ACA during a pandemic – how brilliant!

    I’ve been one of ACA’s worst critics because I’ve always thought it was an abortion of actual healthcare, however, it is still better than Trump’s alternative – which is nothing.

    I wonder what the Supreme Court will decide, given that it was the Trump Administration that goaded the Republicans to remove the individual mandate. Will they reward Trump for his rigging of the game and then now trying to take the ball away?

    1. rd

      Trump is still assuring people that pre-existing conditions will be protected with coverage even though the entire point of the lawsuit is to allow insurers to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions.

      The cognitive dissonance is massive.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      Yeah, about that.

      None of the onerous stuff inherent in obamacare–huge deductibles, out-of-network emergency rooms and specialists, balance billing–has been made less onerous by covid. The only thing that seems to have changed is that people are far less able to avoid the “healthcare” that triggers a big bill. Who even knows if unemployed policy holders are still making the monthly premium payments to keep the policies in place. We do know millions are skipping rent and credit card payments and standing in bread lines so…..

      With the election just around the corner, the “ineptitude” of the Trump administration covid response as a political issue has sucked all of the oxygen out of the room. There just isn’t much info out there about who’s paying for all the testing, scarce ICU beds and ventilators, the miracle drug remdesivir etc. I suspect that reckoning won’t come until after November along with the bills.

      It could very well be that obamacare is not up to the current job. If it were, I would have expected to hear stories about how “lucky” we all are that it’s here in the country’s hour of need. But we hear nothing except that the bad orange man is trying to get it struck down because he’s “unfathomably cruel.” Oh, and that premiums will probably go up by 40% next year due to the pandemic which is commonly known as “bending the cost curve.”

    3. Pat

      I don’t think much of our governing class has a clue how bad our health care system is.

      ACA is not working. It isn’t.

      So we have Trump responding to his base and attempting to eliminate it. We have the Democrats who just weeks ago were running on save and improve it responding to their donors and spitting on their base dropping the last part of that and just keeping it as is. (I have to wonder how many of them even have a clue at how much insurers want to increase the premiums of their already unaffordable and largely useless plans.)

      Oh and Cuomo just cut Medicaid in NY. And Ihave to wonder how many here and elsewhere are going to be in for a big shock if the expanded unemployment also gets them kicked out of Medicaid.

      Many here have been frank that they have had to forgo insurance. That number will be going up in January even if ACA continues.

      The only suggested “improvement” for healthcare in America has largely been given lip service or mostly outright rejected by our political class. Regardless of how they have chosen to go about it both Parties are “Hurry up and die”, they just don’t agree how to get the peons there.

      1. DJG

        Pat: + + +

        Thanks for this comment. This is where we (collectively) are. The ACA never worked–first, those of us who were free lances were immediately kicked off insurance. Then we had a choice of bronze, silver, and gold plans. They are high-deducible, limited service.

        And I didn’t go to the government web site, because I knew that it wouldn’t work. I ended up at an insurance broker. They were polite and helpful. But the experience was typical of American as the land of middlemanization of everything.

        Layers and layers of bureaucracy, all dedicated to the idea that twelve people should bargain over the price of one’s eye exam.

        1. carl

          And now we can’t even travel to to countries to get better, cheaper healthcare. Somehow, it feels like the circle has been squared.

          1. Massinissa

            I imagine it might still be possible with a private jet that makes multiple stops on the way to the destination.

            The squillionaires always find a way to protect their interests, or in this case, their health, regardless of laws that apply to proles.

    1. Duke of Prunes

      Why do you say herd immunity is “dangerously deluded”?

      In the days before vaccines, how did our species survive pandemics?

      1. Chris

        How did our species survive pandemics? By massive thinning out of numbers, and slow rebuilding of populations.

        The Black Death killed up to half of some communities. Some villages disappeared completely and never came back.

        If you’re happy with that then fine. You’d just better hope that you and yours are amongst the survivors.

        It’s the neoliberal way:
        1. Because markets
        2. Go die

        1. Duke of Prunes

          I wasn’t advocating “herd immunity” as a solution. I was just pointing out that I don’t believe it is a dangerously deluded notion.

          Yes, prior to vaccines, the herd thinned, but the remaining were immune to some degree or we wouldn’t be here.

      2. Grebo

        If you catch a cold (coronavirus) you can catch another one within months.
        If you catch dengue you can catch it again within months, and the second time might kill you.

        It has not yet been established how much if any immunity you get from having covid19. If the answer is ‘little to none’ then there ain’t no herd immunity either.

        1. Efmo

          Isn’t the fact that we can catch another cold so soon because there are so many cold viruses or that they constantly mutate? You never actually catch the same cold virus twice? (I realize this may be a distinction without a difference, or however that saying goes).

      3. False Solace

        We “survived” pandemics through attrition because we had no other option than to let people die. Today things are different. Today, when people die to coronavirus it’s by choice. Elites choose not to issue guidance, do TTI, or spend what’s needed on public health.

        Our life expectancy was 40 years lower in historical times mostly because of infectious disease. That’s what happens when you let infections rampage through a population. Funny how plague, smallpox, yellow fever and all those other diseases never vanished on their own, even though so much of the population was exposed. They returned in waves, again and again, killing and killing for millennia. Forgive me if I don’t think that’s the right approach.

        “Herd immunity” as a concept doesn’t exist unless you have a vaccine. It requires vaccination of the entire population. We aren’t anywhere close.

  21. fresno dan

    So if you frequent – conservative, right wing, republican – sites, call them what you will, you may have read stories that the “noose” found in a Nascar garage of the only black Nascar driver was merely a garage pull rope and this is just another case of a black person over reacting to something completely innocent. There were stories that the FBI determined that the rope had been there for…months or years.
    So today I see a picture of the controversial knotted rope for the first time – and if that’s not a noose, than I am a 747 airplane constructed of hamsters.
    But whether its malicious or benign are two different things. I have a morbid sense of humor, so if I had a garage I may vary well make a noose for the pull down rope. On the other hand, the black driver getting the one garage with a noose is bizarre. So reporting was certainly appropriate.
    Like my link about seeing, where you have been determines what you see…

    1. JWP

      A paradigm shift would have to connect the critique of police murder and brutality with a critique of Wall Street and the Pentagon simultaneously. ” There is very little follow the money type reasoning being preached at the protests I’ve been which is concerning. The effectiveness of the powers that be in creating divides on every little issue has been startlingly effective and makes seeing the larger picture necessary for a paradigm shift nearly impossible for a movement. Ultimately leading to either faulty plans or half assed policy such as what is introduced in congress. I’m curious to see how the BLM protests and action converges with the economic chaos and the millions who are left behind in the wake of it. It’s an opportunity if the movement can seize it.

  22. Billy

    Reparations? Sure, make corporations and universities pay, but allow victims of convicted black criminals to seek damages from the funds. Fair is fair.

    1. nippersmom

      So victims of black criminals are entitled to damages that victims of white criminals are not?

        1. Oso

          and those white criminals would include goldman sachs inter alia, one uses the weapons yt supremacy and capitalism provide them.

  23. Basil Pesto

    My copy of ‘The Deficit Myth’ arrived today. I powered through the intro. Good, strong stuff. I’m not sure when I’ll get the chance to read all of it as I’m currently in the middle of Georges Perec’s wonderful ‘Life a user’s manual’ but I’ll be sure to pass on my thoughts in links/WC when I do.

  24. kramshaw

    Valdai club “We need a Vaccine for something more dangerous than Coronavirus”:

    “Let us suppose that the unrest in the United States does not cease, that left-wing Democrats continue to encourage radicals, they do not calm down, and the authorities, in the meantime, lose power. Many say that this likelihood is very low. And this, of course, is true. But still there is a chance. This means that people who are unusually aggressive can come to rule the world’s largest nuclear power. I note that the similarity with the Russian Empire is not only in the split among the elites and general myopia, but also in the fact that all the protests, as well as the policies of the leaders of the Democratic Party, are actually socialist, extremely leftist, and egalitarian. Moreover, they clearly see their movement as global. There is no new “Internationale” yet, but due to the new information and communication environment, it may not be necessary, due to its network-type nature.”


    “Naive idealists, evil radicals, and simply criminal and semi-criminal elements are rampant on the ground. All of them are racial minorities.”

    This dude is literally afraid that American socialists, in the Democratic party(!), are going to take over alongside criminal elements consisting of racial minorities. And then create a new “Internationale” backed by US nuclear weapons.

    Lol. I’ll have what he’s having.

    1. Massinissa

      As a socialist, I do wonder where I sign up for this cabal that is supposedly corrupting the Democrats.

    2. furies

      whatchu talkin’ about, man?

      “…that left-wing Democrats continue to encourage radicals”

      What frickin’ ‘left wing Democrats’?

      1. Massinissa

        Maybe these ‘left wing Democrats’ are called ‘Republicans’?

        They’re more ‘radical’ than the mainstream Dems are at this point. The Proud Boys are more ‘radical’ than any Democratic leaning groups I can think of.

      2. RMO

        Yes, this was one of the most deranged pieces I have read lately. I’m not sure where the writer’s head is at but I would be willing to bet that it has a number of bruises from Cloudcuckoos running into it on days of poor visibility.

    3. occasional anonymous is a useful blog that provides translations of Russian media discourse.

      Much of the Russian establishment, and basically the entirety of the Russian media, seems to have a very screwed up understanding of what is happening in the US. They’re very much on the side of the cops.

  25. Bugs Bunny

    Had a COVID test today, me and my partner in Bunnyhood. My specialist is convinced that I caught it in an air liner in early March, was fairly asymptomatic and now have the lingering symptoms. It took about 30 minutes from the beginning of the socially distanced line to end of (blood draw) test. Results 6 hours later. Negative. I actually was hoping for positive to have some immunity. Another test in 2 weeks because the doctor says that there are a lot of false negatives with the serologic test.

    I’m in France – price 55 euros, because high class lab. Reimbursement by the gov’t is 34. Mutual takes care of the rest. There’s a free one across town. Nurse was only wearing a mask, no gloves, she said she knew all the risks and was fine. For the nasal swabs, she said that she needs “full cosmonaut”.

    Hope that helps us understand. In 2 weeks I’ll let you know more.

    Your faithful rabbit.

    1. ambrit

      You fortunate coney.
      We here in the half-horse town still cannot get tested without being suspected of having the Dreaded pathogen. Strictly investigatory tests are not available to the hoi polloi. No one last week would even give us a guesstimate on the cost for a test.
      And now, the Dreaded Saharan Dust Devils have arrived. Who knows what exotic African pathogens are riding along with the Sahelic Sands.

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