Links 10/12/2020

After 3,000 years, Tasmanian devils are returning to Australian mainland CNN

Harry Reid Confirms Federal Government Covered Up UFOs For Years HuffPo. Reid: “There’s more than one up there.” Apparently, 2002’s showrunners decided murder hornets and venomous caterpillar aren’t enough. I think they’re flailing.

Central bank digital currencies: foundational principles and core features (PDF) Bank of Canada, European Central Bank, Bank of Japan, Sveriges Riksbank, Swiss National Bank, Bank of England, Board of Governors Federal Reserve System, and Bank for International Settlements.

OECD drafts principles for $100bn global corporate tax revolution FT

Bank of England asks banks how ready they are for sub-zero rates Reuters

Next Big Shift in Economics Takes Shape Under Covid Shadow Bloomberg

Endowment Velociraptors Are Best Left to Roam Free John Authers, Bloomberg

The company that has a monopoly on ice cream truck music The Hustle

California kept prison factories open. Inmates worked for pennies an hour as COVID-19 spread LA Times


The effect of temperature on persistence of SARS-CoV-2 on common surfaces Virology Journal. From the Abstract: “While the role of fomite transmission is not yet fully understood, precise data on the environmental stability of SARS-CoV-2 is required to determine the risks of fomite transmission from contaminated surfaces.” In the lab, in the dark (no UV): “We obtained half lives of between 1.7 and 2.7 days at 20 °C, reducing to a few hours when temperature was elevated to 40 °C. With initial viral loads broadly equivalent to the highest titres excreted by infectious patients, viable virus was isolated for up to 28 days at 20 °C from common surfaces such as glass, stainless steel and both paper and polymer banknotes. Conversely, infectious virus survived less than 24 h at 40 °C on some surfaces.”

Community and Close Contact Exposures Associated with COVID-19 Among Symptomatic Adults ≥18 Years in 11 Outpatient Health Care Facilities — United States, July 2020 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. From the Summary: “Findings from a case-control investigation of symptomatic outpatients from 11 U.S. health care facilities found that close contact with persons with known COVID-19 or going to locations that offer on-site eating and drinking options were associated with COVID-19 positivity.”

COVID-19: faecal–oral transmission? Nature. From March, possibly germane: “”Physicians and caretakers of potentially-infected children need to be aware that stools might be infectious,” adds [Mary Estes at Baylor College of Medicine]. The results are preliminary and further research is needed. ‘We are now assembling a much larger cohort to confirm our results and will test more patients to confirm faecal–oral transmission,” says [Kang] Zhang.'” Worth adding to the fomite v. aerosol discussion; there was, after all, a fecal plume in Amoy Gardens case, during 2003’s SARS outbreak in Hong Kong.

* * *

The “herd immunity strategy” isn’t part of a scientific debate about COVID-19. It’s a well-funded political campaign. Medium

Focused Protection, Herd Immunity, and Other Deadly Delusions The Nation. Speculating a bit: Aerosols are like cigarette smoke. We tried “focused protection” with cigarettes with smoking areas, etc. At best, protection was partial, below expectations, and far inferior to prohibition. Focused protection won’t work with the virus, either; fortune, like smoke, passes everywhere. As with cigarettes, the only solution will be to change our ways, collectively. But see below.

‘It’s been so, so surreal.’ Critics of Sweden’s lax pandemic policies face fierce backlash Science

Hotspots of resurgent Covid erode faith in ‘herd immunity’ FT

I think the toothpaste might be out of the tube:

Go long domestic tourism, because passports are gonna be a problem. (To be fair, it would be nice if this service was like BLM marches (no known cases), and not like indoor political rallies (cases), or Wisconsin in-person voting (cases). It is outdoors. But I’m not seeing masks, people are singing and shouting, and they remain close to their neighbors for an extended period of time. So I’m not hopeful. Tennessee isn’t doing well, either.)

* * *

Air cleaner notes Potrzebie Review. “Notes from reading up on air cleaners to help deal with the current California wirefire smoke.”


Mainland Chinese bankers are taking over Hong Kong’s financial sector, displacing their local peers in top roles South China Morning Post

Asia Today: China to test 9 million after new outbreak AP. Impressive.

Washington Watching as Beijing’s Space Power Grows The Diplomat. From September, still germane.

Why the US Luxury Recovery Is Not Comparable to China’s Jing Daily

Southeast Asia Isn’t Interested In Joining A New Cold War The American Conservative

Man loses 200 times at crane game, calls police to investigate, staff member loses 300 times too Sora News


India’s Big Bad Billionaires Are United in Their Arrogance, Entitlement and Disdain for Laws The Wire


Lebanon explosion: Deadly fuel tank blast rocks Beirut BBC. There seem to be rather a lot of explosions just now:

Azerbaijan v. Armenia:

A Tajikistan poised on verge of economic calamity set for vote


Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam’s Op-Ed GOV.UK. Yikes.

Boris Johnson faces rebellion over Covid job support for workers FT. Lack thereof.

UK At ‘Tipping Point’ As Millions Face New Coronavirus Rules HuffPo

Northern cities seek overhaul of national tracing ‘shambles’ Guardian

The anti-lockdown crusade gains oxygen from this government’s ineptitude Stumbling and Mumbling

France risks new lockdowns if Covid-19 surge worsens: PM Agence France Presse

Italy prepares new restrictions to fight spike in coronavirus cases Reuters

Trump Transition

Republicans Have Already Packed the Courts. It’s Up To Democrats How To Rebalance Them. Washington Monthly. Perhaps, in retrospect, Schumer waving Trump’s nominations through so the Senate could go on vacation wasn’t the best plan?

Fix America by Undoing Decades of Privatization The Atlantic


No and no:

Twitter is correct to flag this, though if platform have to make such calls, maybe there shouldn’t be platforms.

Protests and Riots

A profile of the conspirators in the Michigan plot WSWS

The Meaning of Timothy Mcveigh Gore Vidal, Vanity Fair. From 2001, still germane.

Security guard suspected in fatal protest shooting not licensed in Denver, city says Denver Post

Dangerous use of crowd-control weapons against medics and protesters in Portland, OR The Lancet

Police State Watch

Police killings more likely in agencies that get military gear, data shows Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Big Brother Is Watching You

Google Supplying Police User Information Based On Keyword Searches – Report Deadline

Lord Advocate Launches War on Twitter Craig Murray (GF). “[T]he Lord Advocate of Scotland is claiming in the contempt of court case against me that I am legally responsible for the content of replies to my tweets…. But neither you nor I nor any other user is the publisher of Twitter. There is no sensible view in which you are the publisher of replies to your tweets. Twitter is the publisher of tweets and users are responsible for what they tweet.”

Health Care

Further to my post on “bureaucratic” barriers to “access,” we have this (flora):

We have coding, we have upcoding (for profit), why not failcoding?

Health Care: The Best and the Rest New York Review of Books. Review of Ezekiel J. Emanuel’s new book. “Emanuel sees automatic enrollment as both essential and nonthreatening—a social good requiring little systemic change.” If Emanuel thinks that, he’s out of his mind, and not just because the Freedom caucus will hate it.

Our Famously Free Press

An Arrest in Canada Casts a Shadow on a New York Times Star, and The Times NYT. Picture caption: “The New York Times newsroom. The paper is in the midst of an evolution from the stodgy paper of record into a juicy collection of great narratives.” Oh.

ICO’s final report into Cambridge Analytica invites regulatory questions FT. “[I]t may shortly become even harder to disprove the uncomfortable proposition that Cambridge Analytica’s main data-related crime was overselling its own capabilities rather than actually hacking democracy with the help of the Russians.”

Black Injustice Tipping Point

A Nation of Walls Places Journal

Guillotine Watch

US companies rewrite bonus plans to prop up executive pay FT

Behold, the Texas home with America’s largest closet Inman

The Cultural Roots of Conservatism Roger Kimball, American Greatness

Class Warfare

Silicon Valley is famously liberal. Then, investors and employees started clashing over race. WaPo

Les nouveaux Misérables: the lives of Filipina workers in the playground of the rich Guardian

This Graph Shows How Car Paint Colors Have Gotten More Boring Over the Years The Drive

Kafka in Pieces The Baffler

Antidote du jour (via):

A second en-zoo-ed animal, I admit. But awfully cute!

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. Wombat

        Yea didn’t you know. The virus doesn’t spread if your cause is pure. The Rose Garden however- “Super Spreader!!!”

        1. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

          Funny how that works. No Antifa cases in Portland either. But anyone who comes down with any respiratory malady is “COVID”. There’s a narrative and they’re sticking to it.

          Thanks for the meerkat by the way! And good news about Tasmanian devils.

          1. Basil Pesto

            such generalities and use of the royal ‘they’ are inane. as nick asked, where are the known cases?

            Of course, if such protests did avoid spread of the disease, I’m sure it was by luck rather than design, even with precautions taken.

            1. jsn

              Out doors, in motion, therefore more and more variable room between people.

              Air movement, people movement and masks. I live in Brooklyn and saw a number of marches and had friends in them, they were certainly masked and most of the protesters were as well. There were people who weren’t but in the marches I saw most were.

              So, it isn’t the virtue or lack of it, its the mask or lack of it and staying out of air conditioned spaces that preserve and recirculate the virus. Just a guess…

              1. Basil Pesto

                I’m inclined to agree, and I think a positive corollary of the protests is that they may have furthered, or deepened our understanding of how the virus spreads, particularly in outdoor crowd dynamics.

                Mind you, I still think it was a risk, given the gaps in our knowledge at the time (the aerosol concept, for instance, was hardly mainstream), which is why I say the non-spread was by luck rather than design.

        2. marym

          There were studies done and statistics gathered during the timeframe when a spike in cases due to the protests would have been a possibility. By now we’ve learned a lot about relative risks and outcomes of gatherings depending on a number of factors: masks, distancing, indoors/outdoors, ventilation, shouting/singing.

          NEBR study in the links section, and additional links in the comments:

          WH tracker:

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        I haven’t seen a study and I’ve seen nobody pushing a spike, and I do try to keep track of these things.

        I think that people, mostly in masks, marching in motion, outside, and not forming small, semi-permanent groups (as in a church services or choir practice) are much less at risk than people unmasked, standing or sitting in place, whether inside (rally) or outside (church service), who stand or sit together for extended periods.

        I don’t see why this would be a controversial view. If there’s a study on marches and transmission, I’d very happy to see it. Even credible anecdotes would do.

        NOTE I understand the sense of unfairness some might feel when “their” large crowds are licensed, and “our” large crowds are stigmatized; and some epidemiologists foolishly jumped into the fray. That said, the virus is capricious! It is behaving as it will given the conditions, fairness or not.

          1. tegnost

            Adding that any rational person attending a BLM rally would be incentivized by facial recognition to wear a mask, and leave their stupid phone at home…
            “Who me? no I wasn’t there, my phone was right next to my bed as you can clearly see (yes they actually can) I was obviously sleeping mein freund gestapo haspel/brennan/clapper et al.

        1. chris

          I forget the source but there was a study warlier this summer looking at this and the results suggested a significant cultural factor. That the people most likely to spread the virus were least likely to attend a BLM or antifa adjacent event, and vice versa.

        2. tommystrange

          Also in Bay Area….we’ve had protests some huge, some not….. from the beginning and more this weekend. No big spike at all. In fact doing pretty good around here. While also being an international hub of travel …with a very dense area in Oakland and SF….AND a huge homeless population….over 10,000 in SF alone…tents everywhere in the working class areas….People have been wearing masks and mostly standing apart. Since late March. I was worried, but didn’t happen.

          1. Josef K

            This thread (so far) exemplifies the reason the USA is in dire COVID straits, and IMO can extrapolate to, for one, global warming and denialism thereof.

            To wit: Bimbop, Wombat, Hindenburg make just-false-enough equivalences. My perusal of numerous “debates” on twitter and other media with disucssion formats, as well as right-wing or Trumpista articles, indicates this is the go-to MO: whether intentional or due to poor reasoning skills, equivalences are made, or conversely distinctions drawn, due to leaving out the devil-in-the-details small but crucial elements that would prove such equivalence or distinction wrong.

            Of course our Trumpman Show President does a crude version of this daily.

            Then, well-intentioned, good-willed commentators respond again and once again with, mostly, sensible explanations that clear-up or refute the poorly-reasoned comments. See: nick, Basil, marym, Lambert.

            I’ll add mine: BLM vs. Rose Garden: one word–masks. If anything, the difference in cases in those two types of gatherings, especially considering the huge difference in attendees, should be proof positive masks work.

            Thanks to a family member, and to one too-famous right-wing pseudo-pundit I knew all too well at Uni, I learned pretty early on that you can throw reason at a true-believer all day long and none of it will stick. The pasta will just never be ready.

            To be sure, this unwillingness or inability to engage in thinking process based on reason and the search for answers, truth as it were, is widespread; I’d look to the dumbing-down of education over the previous decades–funny how that worked out, just as planned I’d say. But in this climate, those on the “other side of the aisle” have a near monopoly on it.

            I’ve now seen a number of these clean-up-the-mess threads (not thoroughly read due to life being short) here on NC, which to be sure has a generally high level of discourse in the comments, and it’s discouraging because it mirrors what’s happened and happening in the real world: people who don’t care not to, or want to sow destruction and chaos doing just that, and others wasting their precious time and life energy trying to clean up, stop, or even foolishly reason with them.

            I’m sure Bimbop, and the numerous single-syllable (interestingly) drive-by commenters I see here, toss their rhetorical M-80 and move on; maybe they look back to snicker a bit at the results.

            Some statements don’t deserve comment, is my position.

            EOR, I’m fresh outta hyphens anyway.

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              Good comment.

              Masks! or No Masks! Yes, the CDC says on their website that masks “may” help. May. (Cue the just-true-enough equivalence army. I have plenty of hyphens left in my drawer).

              And did the WHO retract their statement that 780 million people are infected? Doesn’t *everything* hinge on whether that number is anywhere close to accurate?

              I’m perfectly willing to state that it is 100% possible for a pathogen to emerge that kills 3, 5, 20, or 50% of those infected. That kills 200 million people, like we were told this would back in March. But the WHO is stating that the number on this bug is something like 0.14%. While we’re arguing droplets and mask design and correct distancing don’t you think it’s important first that we need to understand just how deadly the thing is. Or isn’t?

              1. Andrew Thomas

                It would be nice if the WHO prefaced whatever it said with the words ‘according to the data provided to us’ and ‘we do not vouch for the accuracy of the data’. Maybe they did, and you didn’t see it. But I know that the data in Florida is bogus, that the data from Turkey has been bogus, and that even if good faith efforts were being universally made that there are inherent difficulties in the way of those efforts which include the fact that pathologists who work for coroners, or their equivalents, world wide need sleep. I have serious doubts about extrapolations from data provided by governments with reasons to not be forthcoming about what is really happening, when even if they’re trying to be honest the task of achieving reliable accuracy is not achievable.

                1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                  I’m not sure we are in territory where “reliable accuracy” within an acceptable margin of error is actually in question, if the WHO figures are off by a factor of 10 it still means the virus is less than half as deadly as previously thought.

              2. Aumua

                This is a good example of Josef K is talking about. I don’t know why I seem to be the only one around here willing to take you on about this HAL, but so be it. I guess I’m just your foil for the moment.

                And did the WHO retract their statement that 780 million people are infected? Doesn’t *everything* hinge on whether that number is anywhere close to accurate?

                No it doesn’t. Let’s assume that the 780 million number is true, even though I find that VERY hard to believe myself. It wouldn’t make COVID any less significant, because a less deadly (IFR) disease that infects more people is just as serious as a more deadly disease that infects fewer people (like the original SARS for instance).

                That kills 200 million people, like we were told this would back in March.

                I don’t know where you got that number, but I’m sure a lot of numbers were being tossed around in March, when we knew very little about how this was going to shape up.
                Have the worst case scenarios come to pass? Obviously not.
                Is COVID more serious than the seasonal flu? Obviously yes.

                Would economic damage have occurred regardless of lockdowns? I think so, when people panicked over an initial surge of deaths that would have undoubtedly been higher with no control measures than what we got. I mean the system we have is kind of just waiting for a reason to crash anyway.

                1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                  Hi Aumua, nice to see you again. OK, I’ll bite.

                  The 200 million figure is from the original Imperial College Oxford projections that got governments around the world to decide to “do something”.

                  You seem to be arguing that if Covid is 1/10th as deadly as previously believed that should not affect how significant we think it is or the steps we take to avoid it. Do I have that right?

                  1. Aumua

                    Well this article says that the 200 million prediction was for the bird flu in 2005, and that his original COVID prediction was up to ~500,000 dead in the UK, which was revised downward in the third week of March. BTW do you think I have time to chase down all of your half true assertions and/or fallacious reasoning that you picked up from some biased and unreliable source to drop off at the feet of our curators here? I don’t, and this is exactly what Josef K is talking about above.

                    You seem to be arguing that if Covid is 1/10th as deadly as previously believed that should not affect how significant we think it is

                    That’s exactly right. If it is 10 times as infectious then it is as serious as a virus that is 10 times as deadly, because the net result (population mortality rate) is the same.

                    Nice to see you too, buddy.

            2. Janie

              Once upon a time, philosophy, logic and rhetoric were part of university curriculum. Time to bring them back.

              1. hunkerdown

                And leave the working class un-defended against their PMC betters, typical. How about middle school, instead?

            3. Wombat

              I’ll Bite Josef. First off thank you for your taste of PMC elitism (“single-syllable commenters”) that is generally shunned in this venue.

              Indeed the R0 at the Rose Garden is almost surely higher than the protests. Surely, based on the factors everyone has mentioned (stagnant seating, lack of masks, close proximity) the Rose Garden would have a higher R0. We can also agree that masks are effective at lowering R0. Indeed, masks were mostly worn at the peaceful protests. However masks are not 100% effective. In fact the bandanas and neck gaitors favored by some were statistically found in one recent study to be no better than wearing a mask at all:


              See overlapping C.I.s for masks 11 and 12 in figure 3.

              Now, the protests may have a lower R0, which is nonetheless not 0. This is fine. We can still support the protests and at the same time NOT universally reject other outdoor events (Sturgis, Rose Garden, political rally) just because their cause is not deemed to be as pure.

              1. pasha

                the “rose garden” event was partially indoors (many pictures of attendees hugging, only waitstaff wearing masks), only partially outdoors.

                similarly, there are pictures of the overcrowded bars in sturgis, naturally sans masks.

                over 200 cases traced to the lansing, michigan bar in the short time it reopened before being closed — none from those students who stayed on the patio.

                indoors makes a difference. universal masking makes a difference.

        3. Tom Bradford

          Whether the spread is by droplet or aerosol there are a number of variables uniquely effecting any outdoor gathering: are they marching or a stationary crowd, or both at different times?: For how long?: Is the crowd large for the space and hence constricted and unable to mingle or is there room to spread out and move between groups: Is there a breeze? Or wind? Is there a wind-tunnel effect of high buildings, or a scattering of buildings and/or trees creating eddies and still-spots?: Is it midday under a hot, bright sun, overcast or even at night? What’s the humidity? Is it cold enough for people to be wrapped up and perhaps even wearing mufflers? Is there singing, chanting or shouting, or is the crowd listening to a speaker?

          The variables of anything out of doors are far more than for any indoor meeting, but on the whole would work against transmission more than anything indoors

      3. Clem

        Where are the attendence lists, sign ups, reservation lists and memberships for BLM marches?

        Those are how spreading is traced at non BLM events.

        I bet if phone tracing were used on all new cases of Covid, many would have been at BLM events.

        1. Lost in OR

          Beyond the specific activities (BLM protests vs religious & freedom rights protests) perhaps the local culture is the determining factor.
          Tennessee currently has 282 cases per million and hasn’t been under 100 cases/million in almost 4 months.
          Oregon currently has 84 cases per million and has never been over 100 cases/million.

          Not without it’s hazards though. There is a recall campaign underway on behalf of the the governor. Let no good deed go unpunished.

        2. GF


          “Where are the attendence lists”…
          “Those are how spreading is traced at non BLM events.”

          The white house super spreader event has the list but is not contact tracing.

    1. pasha

      the italian public health service, which has been efficient at contact tracing, reported no known confirmed infections from outdoor contact while masked.

      i know that must be true because i read it from a link in the comments here, about a month ago

  1. John A

    Re car colours, a lot were originally based on the Formula One colours for the countries of the various competing cars. Ie British cars Green (or officially British Racing Green), France Blue, Germany Silver, Italy red etc. If you buy a Ferrari, surely it must be a red one?
    I read a while ago that white cars are better in warmer climates as the air conditioning does not have to work as hard plus there are various studies as to what colours are more visible to other drivers and therefore safer on the road. But then again, I view a car as a means fo getting from A to B, not as some symbol of wealth or virility etc.

    1. jr

      I can’t help but think of the car I saw the other night. Lotus or some other lux brand. Music so loud that the occupants had to be losing hearing, and that’s with the top down. Silver and black paint. Bright bands of multi-colored LEDs running around the edge of the car as well as the interior, sync’d with the music. It was the combustion engine version of a male peacock.

      1. Toshiro_Mifune

        Lotus …. bright bands of multi-colored LEDs running around the edge of the car as well as the interior, sync’d with the music
        I think we can all agree that this should never be done to a Lotus. By all means make your Mk5 Golf as tasteless as you want, however please refrain from festooning an Elise or Exige with anything other Nurburgring track times. It’s what god intended.

        1. jr

          The closest thing I had to a Lotus (and to be honest I could have IDed it incorrecty) was a ‘72 SuperBeetle that had a hole in the floorboards to drop my stash if the heat pulled me over. Used it once with Florida States finest to “liberating” effect.

        2. ewmayer

          Amen, brother – and if you really want to impress with your Nürburgring times, make those laps include the (in)famous Nordschleife, which even the F1 races don’t use anymore because it’s so frickin’ hair-raising.

          1. Basil Pesto

            thankfully and gloriously recreated in many racing games/sims, which impressively manage to convey some of its hair-raising qualities

      2. Eustache de Saint Pierre

        One of the things I like about old films is the cars, but more about how cars used to reflect their countries identities mainly through their design / form rather than colour. I suppose it is a consequence of globalisation that most models everywhere are a variation on a uniform theme, as is I think architecture.

        I’m a big fan of US road movies & I wonder are there any vehicles besides old ones that would now fit that genre. I’m not interested in cars per se, purely A to B, which is one reason I still have my battered 160,000 mile old Citroen, which is just as well as I am skint once again.

        Cars are much better engineered now but I miss the variety & the fact that often the only way to tell who manufactured the car is to look at the badge. I guess the designers now get given a competitors drawings or a small model & are told to play around with that. Not a big deal of course in comparison to that huge pile of problems out there, although the way things are going I imagine that parts from faraway exotic places might eventually become a problem.

        1. farragut

          “…but I miss the variety & the fact that often the only way to tell who manufactured the car is to look at the badge.”

          As a yute, one of my superpowers was the ability to recognize AMC cars from a distance. No need to wait for it to come closer so I could look at the marque–I could tell it was an American Motors machine, just from its profile from three blocks away. Now, I don’t recall their reliability as cars (as you may recall, I was merely a yute) but they were …’distinctive’ (and of course, by distinctive, I mean butt ugly) in their styling: the Pacer, the Javelin, the AMX, the Concord, the Hornet, the Ambassador, and–my personal favorite in distinctive design– the Gremlin.

          1. Toshiro_Mifune

            As a yute, one of my superpowers was the ability to recognize AMC cars from a distance
            The plume of steam and smoke was always a dead give away.

              1. Toshiro_Mifune

                AMC Eagle had selectable 4wd. They’ve become something of a cult car since they went out of production in …`88 or `89. They were also dirt cheap on the used market in the early 90s so I had several friends who had them.
                I honestly don’t remember what the handled like on ice though.

          2. John Wright

            It was surprising that a car company would name a car “Gremlin”.

            The web has that “A gremlin is a folkloric mischievous creature that causes malfunctions in aircraft or other machinery.”

            I spent too many hours working on my sister’s AMC Hornet.. Did AMC really have to use a troublesome and archaic vacuum operated windshield wiper assembly in 1970 or plastic bushings in the door hinges that would quickly wear, causing the doors to sag and become difficult to open, especially with the slippery tab handles?

            AMC was run by George Romney who begat Bain capital’s and US politician Mitt.

            With Mitt, maybe the AMC Gremlin legacy continues.

            1. philnc

              The Pacer and the Gremlin were the ugliest cars ever made, in that order. Only in America…

              I owned a ’72 Scamp, so I know a lot about ugly automotive designs.

            2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              Then there was the Chevy Nova. Or in Spanish, “No” plus “va”. Doesn’t Go.

          3. ShamanicFallout

            I had a Matador in the early 80s that my dad bought me so I could get to my summer farm job. Used to wake up the neighborhood every morning trying to start it!

          4. Randy

            My dad worked at American Motors in Kenosha when they still made Ramblers. He carried a 40 oz. hammer which he used to make the fenders fit together more or less properly.

            The cars were called Kenosha Krumblers around here. He still liked AMC cars and drove them until they quit making them.

          5. pasha

            i grew up in detroit in the fifties and sixties. any self-respecting male over seven was expected to be able to identify make, model, and year at fifty feet! now they all look the same

          6. drumlin woodchuckles

            I believe AMC came out with all these different cars after we didn’t have our Rambler anymore. I remember our Rambler as having been a good car for many years. I remember it looking kind of angular and rectangular and it was very big for its size.

        2. chuck roast

          Check out the old Italian Rossano Brazzi “B” movies. Rossano is always cruising around in some sort of Alfa/Maserati top-don, convertible sound with blond diamonds and pearls in the passenger seat. He never fails to take the coast roads with great scenes of the Med and Adriatic. Thank god for the Italians.

          1. Carolinian

            Don’t forget showing Katharine Hepburn the meaning of love in the great Summertime or singing “Some Enchanted Evening” in the considerably less great South Pacific. The guy made a zillion movies.


            I’m currently watching the celebrated 1979 Italian mini series Christ Stopped at Eboli –now out from Criterion. It’s Gian Maria Volonte rather than Brazzi. This Italian town setting during Mussolini time only has one car, much less glamorous coast roads. You have your Dolce Vitas and then you have your gritty neorealism. Was there ever a more class conscious cinema than post ww2 Italy?

        3. jonboinAR

          The lines are uglier and more generic, or all the same, than in the old days, but the interiors are way more efficient. This makes me think it’s a case of function before form.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Where I live, you sometimes see car club enthusiasts who drive around in veteran cars and the colours on them are noteworthy. Just last week I saw an old classic Holden and the blues that it was painted in was as striking as they were attractive. It was painted in the scheme that I remember as a kid. It is not a binary choice of bland whites, grays, etc or garish, loud colours. The car parks from decades ago showed a variety of colours whereas nowadays they are mostly grey, silver or white. We drive a boring silver car.

      1. Brian (another one they call)

        I read something in the last month about car colors and their visibility, sorry I can’t cite the story. The story cited green as being the most visible color. I had a dark blue one that became invisible when night approached. I always found the silver cars were invisible to me until it was almost too late to avoid.
        If we were in search of noticeable difference in ours v. theirs, going with a custom paint scheme that employs several dozen colors would be impossible to miss becuase it doesn’t appear in nature and causes us to notice whether we want to or not. Of course many might think it is unpleasant until you get hit by someone that “couldn’t see you” Theft would go down some if the car is so different looking that an all points bulletin would be unique and unmistakeable.

      2. edmondo

        How Car Colors Rank in Popularity
        Based on an authoritative annual survey of car color trends, white is the clear global winner in the 2019 color race—for the ninth consecutive year—with 38% of vehicles manufactured in that color, followed in second place by black at 19%, gray at 13%, and silver at 10%.

        The order in North America is slightly different, with 29% white, 19% black, 17% gray, and 11% silver. Only in Europe is white in second place with 24% of all cars gray, and 23% white.2

        Nearly 50 years ago, in 1961, blue reigned supreme with 26% of all cars in North America manufactured in that hue.


        1. chris

          I forget where I read it, but from my time in amateur sports car racing and reviewing the relevant magazines and sources, I came to understand that at least until the 1990’s the most popular colors used on automobiles closely corresponded to the most popular colors for women’s lingerie. I’m not sure if that metric is still valid or not.

        2. Clem

          One advantage of white cars is that chips and scratches are easy to cover up with white paint. They become invisible. Good luck trying that on any paint of color, it’s almost impossible to match.

      3. GratefulDude

        I saw Malcolm Forbes driving a big 20’s vintage roadster on a back road somewhere near Bedminster NJ, must have been late 80s, top down, a cigarette holder in his teeth and a scarf in the wind. It was as if I’d driven onto a movie set. Cool. At least he looked like MF. Must have been somebody.

    3. skippy

      A big aspect of car colours is the chemical changes in the paint being used, application, and its depth requiring clear coats for protection.

      Its interesting to note that old Rolls where painted by brush with heated paint, pot even had a thermometer in it, hung to dry, with any edges having drips cut off before drying hard. This created depth in the paint due to the DFT [dry film thickness]. No need for waxing other than a good wash and when necessary a cut and polish to remove oxidization.

      This is why the old classic cars can sit for so long and still have great paint work if stored well and still be honest if not.

      Currant processes are established around the life expectancy or original owners life span … sorta like modern housing construction … sigh …

  2. Terry Flynn

    re herd immunity etc. Yes indeed focused protection isn’t working (and isn’t likely to work) here in the UK Midlands and North (and Exeter too, from what another commenter said recently regarding a new outbreak originating in the returning student population). Here in Nottingham the initial huge spike within “student” wards very quickly spread into “other” youngish people (living in house shares with such students) and inevitably junior staff in all (clinical and non-clinical) depts at the main university hospital. The university hospital trust covers TWO heavily linked hospitals, one to the west of the city, the other in the north-east, so now has routes to spread in practically any direction. We’re shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.

    In terms of this kind of route, my sister is now fuming that her kids have been exposed via someone who should know better – she may have to leave them with their dad for 2 weeks as she frankly can’t afford to get covid-19 (nor can I, for previously mentioned heart issue reasons and which ignacio here strongly agreed with). The prospective study NC drew our attention to on athletes remains a very good one – it may not be large but size isn’t everything, if you have the right design, data, and sometimes, a really big dollop of luck.

    In terms of Sweden, having lived there I totally get what has been going on. I liked quite a lot of what I experienced there but NC comments that it is a “neoliberal” foothold in the Nordic countries are correct. Healthcare was generally very good but often fragmented (particularly when trying for secondary care which can be lucrative) so a “holistic” approach is the LAST thing I’d describe as my experiences there (and IIRC the only OECD criterion on which it fell down heavily). I think too many people look for “single smoking guns” and where Sweden is concerned you can’t do that. On the one hand, if you want to TRY for herd immunity and no/limited/rolling lockdowns then the Nordic countries are, via culture, the kind of places it might work. However, once you compare within Nordic countries you see just how badly Sweden is doing in relative terms.

    1. Krystyn Podjaski

      Terry, and everyone else here. I implore you to obtain some simple nutritional tests: Serum Zinc, Ceruloplasmin, Copper, and a Vitamin D panel.

      The best prevention may be knowing what your deficiencies are.

      I have spoken with a nurse who provides nutrition to COVID19 patients. They are supplying their patients with 220mg of Zinc Sulfate, 4mg of copper, and a dose of D3 (that I cannot remember right now) for two weeks. That is not a prescription, just a reference.

      1. jr

        Do you think it would be of value to take a multi vitamin? I know you are looking at this on another level but I was wondering if that would be helpful as a place to start. I read somewhere that vitamins don’t help if you don’t have a deficiency (and I eat a varied diet) but it seems it would be good to have a bit more than not enough.

        1. AnonyMouse

          Hi JR,

          Just from personal experience, I would suggest that if you live in the UK, you probably are Vit D deficient, even if you don’t know it. I was. I’ve been on 3000IU / day for a year and while I can’t really distinguish it from the effects of being isolated for much of that time, I am getting less regular colds

          1. jr

            Thank you, yes I probably am, I live in NYC and I tend to avoid the open spaces around here anyway because humans.

        2. Krystyn Podjaski

          IMO, multi’s are fine as maintenance once you correct deficiencies but they will not correct a deficiency. The nurse I spoke to called those “replenishment” doses of zinc. 200mg of zinc sulfate is equal to 50mg of elemental zinc.

          The reason my zinc was probably was never going higher that 70 mcg/mL was because I was not getting a replenishment dose. Same with my copper. I was not deficient at those levels but I was taking what I thought was a lot of zinc.

          1. jr

            Thank you for your considered opinion. I’m going to start digging into this deeper, unfortunately I don’t have access to the necessary tests so I may have to find a more patchwork solutions. If they exist.

            I know, start drinking again! /s

            1. Ella

              Keep it simple. Take a high quality multivitamin suited to your gender/age and additional vtamin d. I buy mine at health food store. Anecdotal, I stopped taking my multi for about 6 weeks because I was getting nauseous when I took it. Replaced it with a daily kids chewable. After the 6 weeks I noticed a huge increase in fatigue. I started back on my multi (on full stomach) about 4 weeks later, energy back to normal.

      2. Terry Flynn

        Thanks. Yeah I already take high strength vitamin D3 and zinc. In fact the guy who first drew attention to vitamin D deficiency at higher latitudes gave a great presentation during my PhD circa 1999…..and the epidemiologists mauled him calling him a “cancer supporter” because he knew sunshine is best solution and that supplements rarely give you enough (he was a “kook” at that point) …. They had to eat their words and even Australia (when I subsequently lived there) changed their infamous public health campaign.

        Here’s the issue – now I’m back in UK I’m deficient by October. But I can no longer get high strength vitamin D to remedy this on NHS because “it can be bought over the counter”….. But they ignore the fact that without a General Medical Council number (i.e. Being a medical doc) you can’t get the version that is easy on the GI tract. So I live with either IBS or vitamin D deficiency.

          1. Terry Flynn

            Hehe yeah true. It’s good that you know the fish benefits – unfortunately, as the “kook turned visionary” said, even fish isn’t enough for lots of us…. The comment he made which provoked particular ire of the epidemiologists was that doctors should prescribe two weeks in the canary Islands in winter to Brits!

            I used to holiday there when I was richer. Then living in Oz I was sorted. Now I am screwed. The only way to get enough D3 without horrid gastric issues is the oral drops you can only get on prescription here (but which now are pretty much disallowed). It stinks. And as a PhD health economist I know the real reason all this happened…. :-(

          2. Lost in OR

            I told my Dr once that I was taking cod liver oil for vitamin D. He said “That’s great. How many mg is that?” I’m back to taking the pills.

          1. Terry Flynn

            To my knowledge there are two (available in UK anyway), with a third that is “ok for some people”. The easiest is “what a GP will give/prescribe you” (if you are very very lucky) – oral drops. The second is in a pill format and this was the one my (singularly unhelpful) GP told me to buy…..without telling me (or more probably without realising due to long forgotten cookies on her PC) that you need a GMC number to buy it!

            The third is via Amazon. It’s certainly enormously good value (technically either 180 or 360 days worth for 20 quid) and to be fair it DOES warn you on the label that routine use will give your the squirts…..but all oral supplements are singularly inefficient ways to get vitamin D into your system so many people (and I’m not even BAME who are in a WORSE situation) DO have to take high dose. Some people have said this version is OK. I suspect they are just naturally more robust to such issues (or they are offsetting the effects due to a need for codeine or something that works in the opposite direction). I try to get a happy medium between these and standard vitamin D you’d get from pharmacy in winter months so as to neither get squirts nor end up D deficient.

            1. larry

              Is that Veganicity? Amazon sell a complex with vegan suitable D2 & D3 – 1600IU, I think. If that is the one you are thinking of, then I will get it. Thanks for the help.

              1. Terry Flynn

                Zipvit (vegetarian approved) – D3 only (D3 is most important). Interestingly I can’t see the 5000iu tablets anymore on amazon (UK) that I bought. 4000iu is the maximum (a Brexit effect? lol). But the price per iu has come down a lot even since my last quote so you are still “in the money” …. if also “in the toilet”……

        1. Count Zero

          Terry, you can buy Vitamin D in oral spray form. You spray a single burst inside your cheek daily. Relatively cheap & easy to find.

      3. Anthony G Stegman

        I’m wondering if you’ve been spreading nonsense. Last time I checked there is little data to support using zinc and vitamin D supplements to fight the coronavirus.

        1. Krystyn Podgajski

          I’m not suggesting that everyone should take zinc and vitamin D, as I said, it’s best to get tested for these things before you take anything. There is scientific evidence, and I’ll say it again, it is certain scientific evidence that being low in zinc and low vitamin D affects the immune system. And there has been more than enough evidence that being deficient in vitamin D and zinc has some affect in regards to the coronavirus that it wouldn’t hurt to get checked to see if you were deficient in either and if you are, then take replenishing amounts of supplements.

          There may as well be other things that help. For example, selenium has shown some efficacy. But since there are no test for that I don’t recommend it unless you know what you’re doing.

          1. Terry Flynn

            To be honest Krysten I’d have just replied that both have shown important effects *generally* on such a variety of conditions that they should be given the benefit of any doubt.

            The “kook” really made his case by showing prevalence of multiple sclerosis by latitude. Further from the equator you live, the higher the prevalence. Even WITHIN countries that span immense latitudes like Chile and Australia. So it ain’t something country specific.

            Australia dropped its slip slap slop campaign when I was living there due to vitamin d deficiency going through the roof. We know loads more now about how they affect immune function and other bodily systems so the chances they are *bad* in terms of covid are vanishingly small.

          2. Eustache de Saint Pierre

            Here’s a link to some good info on a Vit D trial from Iran, which appears to basically match the Spanish hospital trial in that those who are not deficient are about 50% less likely to end up in ICU.


            Dr. John Campbell has been on a double dose of 25 iu or 1000 whatever for about 4 months & seeing as he seems OK am now doing the same as the very grey Northern Ireland Winter is coming. Prior to that any sign of the sun I ran down to the beach. I asked my new GP about a Vit D blood test, but was told that it was a fad from a few years back & they don’t do it – am now back on statins.

            1. lordkoos

              Living in the northern latitudes, we have been taking 5000 iu of D a day, and 10,000 iu in the winter. Been doing this for a couple of years with no ill effects.

              1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

                Thanks for that – picking up stuff on the web that appears to confirm that but will increase gradually as the night comes further in.

                Will look into Coq 10, thank you too.

                I have been on the 15hr fast for around 6 weeks with very positive results, BMI now perfect & walking the beach most days, with the others going on a daily half hour trek with 2 Shi-Tzus, one of whom named Molly appears to think that I am a sled & that she is a Siberian husky who basically drags us 2 males along at quite a pace while hardly stopping to check the local gossip deposits.

                I owe this wonderful place a lot & all being well I will be able one day to show my gratitude in material terms.

    2. Clive

      At this point, I’m not really sure what’s served by describing all the many and varied problems and the lack solutions which stand a test of repeatability.

      Anyone can explore the data (the FT’s data explorer is probably the best) and here I’ve selected a few interesting examples for comparison so let’s debunk frequently-postulated guaranteed-fix-all each in turn.

      Lockdowns for as long as it takes? Argentina tried but it made no difference at all as did Columbia. Lockdown “circuit breakers”? Israel is on its fourth one, every time you end the lockdown, you then have to lock down again a few weeks later. Just wear a mask an everything can open up again? Japan is the most mask-compliant country on Earth — with the benefit of automatic culturally-induced social distancing — and it has the same swings and roundabouts as everyone else in terms of cases and it certainly hasn’t eliminated the virus. Lockdown early then keep on top of things as you open up? The Republic of Ireland did but is now little better than the dilettante US. Speaking of the US, maybe US Derangement Syndrome is really a thing because it’s doing exactly as well, or as badly, as the EU. While I’m in the EU, how’s about Why Can’t We All Do As Well As Germany? Germany is now exactly the same as The Country That Dare Not Be Named (okay, I’ll name it: Sweden) for cases. And Sweden’s cases are almost neck-and-neck with Norway’s (29 per million for Norway, 37 per million for Sweden).

      Many countries (even the rubbishey old UK) has been able to bring cases down to below 10 per million for a while. None has been able to return to normal — and no country has embraced any attempts to make the new normal a permanent state of affairs — for any length of time while simultaneously eliminating the virus. Except, of course, before everyone says it, New Zealand. So, all we need to do is all move to remote, sparsely populated islands in the middle of nowhere and turn the place into an open-air prison camp. Alrighty, then. And one swallow does not make a summer.

      1. a different chris

        >And Sweden’s cases are almost neck-and-neck with Norway’s (29 per million for Norway, 37 per million for Sweden).

        Say what? I think before you delve too deep into the FT data you need to refresh your math skills a bit..

        1. Clive

          My maths is just fine, thanks. An extra 8 per million is around an extra one in one hundred thousand. Is this material do you think?

          1. Phillip Cross

            I don’t think the number of current cases is telling much apart from how much testing is going on. Norway does more tests and still finds less cases.

            More importantly, Norway has 51 deaths per million whilst Sweden has has 583. Quite material for those poor people that are dead and have lost loved ones, don’t you think?

            1. The Rev Kev

              Regarding testing. I checked at and found the following column that talks about the number of tests per million of population for the Scandinavian countries-

              Sweden – 176,865
              Norway – 209,840
              Denmark – 751,491
              Finland – 212,131

              What was that that Trump said? If we test less we will find less cases? But to be frank, I trust Sweden’s figures less than I do China’s figures.

              1. Terry Flynn

                Having worked with epidemiologists there for 5 months and spotting that on worldometers, Sweden KEPT having suspicious gaps in reporting (several days at a time) I feel the same way.

                Though I will at this stage simply assume cock-up rather than conspiracy (knowing that the neoliberalisation of their system is making a mockery of a previously well run centralised system using common standards) it doesn’t make me any more confident in their figures.

            2. Clive

              Deaths to date is a backwards-looking data point and it is disingenuous and a diversion tactic to refer to it in a context of what is happening now and what that tells us about current national public health policies and their effectiveness.

              I award no points for shroud-waving in a debate. I want to get to the bottom of what works and what doesn’t, when, where and why — and what public opinion (or such subset of it as is found in the bowls of the Naked Capitalism commentariat and represents what the thinking man or woman on the Clapham omnibus believes) is doing right now.

              1. furies

                Those ‘shrouds’ were people, Clive.

                Lives lost because CAPITALISM.

                You must have been in management/administration…

                1. Clive

                  Not in the UK they weren’t (at least, not entirely). Seniors were shoved out of NHS (government-run) hospitals into care homes (sometimes also government-run) and not given care (i.e. hospitalisation if needed) to “protect” the same government run health services. The reason being, to avoid the government looking like it hadn’t managed its healthcare responsibilities properly (which it hadn’t).

                  They lost their lives (I’m going to risk being inflammatory here, but that’s how I feel on this) or, as is certainly claimable, killed because of POLITICS (and I too can shout in capital letters, but it doesn’t enhance my arguments, either).

              2. Phillip Cross

                If you could possibly copy Sweden’s approach, you would end up with 10x the number of deaths as your neighbours and a roughly equivalent ongoing infection problem heading into the bad part of the year for respiratory infections. Why are you heralding it as a success?

                Of course there are infinitely many complex variables over and above public health response, or lack thereof, in these matters. What works in one place might not work elsewhere with a different culture. Especially one that has been saturated with tedious “libertarian” propaganda for the past 5 years. Some of it was just luck, as in how many carriers came in and infected people before everyone started taking precautions.

            3. a different chris

              That’s freaking… ok

              (37-29)/29 = 27.6%. Or, for every 3 people that go it in Norway – and I’m using your numbers, which I am wondering if I should even trust? – at least one more got it in Sweden.

              Yes, it is material. And you apparently ignored Philip Cross’ numbers, which really gets to the heart of the problem: if you ignore it, it not only spreads faster but heads right towards the weakest part of the population.

              1. Clive

                You’re ignoring materiality . “27.6% higher” still only equates to an extra 1 in 100,000 cases for these countries. It’s the same distorting citation used in media reporting to good effect: “Fears Grow for DEATH SPIRAL as Cases in the Town TRIPLE Over Holiday Weekend”. If you wade you way through the article you find that, six paragraphs in, it’s gone from 4 cases to 12 in a town of 10,000 people. Bad if it went on for weeks but meaningless without checking the trend outcome subsequently.

                And they’re not “my numbers”. They’re collated by the FT. And I included a link to their data explorer above which includes their sources. The charting tool shows trend data since Day 0 for each country so those interested in researching can review how cases and mortality have evolved over the course of the pandemic.

      2. The Rev Kev

        Clive, it’s New Zealand. It’s not the Popular People’s Democratic Socialist Republic of New Zealand. They did the hard yards – twice – and so they got their lives back again. They get to go to pubs, libraries, footy games, etc. again. Some open air prison. If virus containment failed, it was because they went for containment. Not eradication. Containment. And all containment is is slow motion ‘herd immunity’. How many of these countries that you mentioned really tried to eliminate this virus. Hardly any. They would only shut down a part of their economy which let the virus spread in the open part. They prioritized their economy over their people and as a consequence left both in shambles.

        1. Clive

          Spain didn’t try really hard? Italy? Israel? Columbia has armed militias brutally enforcing curfews.

          And New Zealand didn’t shut down its entire economy, either. You still need food distribution, essential services like utilities operating, transportation, healthcare, money transmission, government, policing… countries have no choice but some form of halfway-house. And in doing so, it’s an inevitable race against time between ever more draconian state force being applied and public tolerance. Even Australia which went further along the line of authoritarianism than most had to let up before the virus is eradicated as support threatened to fall below a majority in favour of hardline lockdowns. Saying that few countries managed to get as far as that merely proves the point.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Clive, I have always had a deep respect for your comments and opinions. You will note that when people gave you a hard time about the subject of masks the other day, that I did not pile in. Nonetheless, with this subject I must respectfully disagree with you. New Zealand did not shut down all of it economy. No country can. But they followed the primary rule – go in early and go in hard. With Spain you will recall that even though they knew that the virus was running wild, that they still went ahead with some big festivals because of their economy. Florida did the same with Spring Break – to the rest of America’s cost.

            Now Australia I can better talk about because I am standing in it. Our response was a mixed bag. Most of the States went for eradication while the two biggest went for ‘containment’ – New South Wales & Victoria. The Federal government under Scotty from Marketing and his wonky medics also demanded ‘containment’ which meant that all the State borders MUST be opened but he was ignored. I note also that at the beginning of this pandemic, Scotty was listening to British technocrats who were also advising Boris to go for ‘herd immunity.’ This was long before Boris himself got his dose.

            The present result is that most States have been free of this virus for several weeks while NSW & Victoria still struggle to put down their outbreaks. Here in Queensland we had a nasty outbreak cause by two botoxed, teenage bimbos who snuck in from Victoria while infected. It took a helluva effort to put that outbreak down. So masks where I live have been a bit of a rarity and mostly ignored. The mild paranoia of touching surfaces and being to close to people was never a big thing luckily. But it could have been different. Victoria’s government did not take it seriously and so our national death toll shot up from about 107 to nearly 900 at the moment.

            And yet Scotty is still demanding that all the States open up their borders to NSW & Victoria. To him Australia is an economy full of workers with a country attached. He wants the money fro cruise ships and a few million international tourists and students. He wants immigration again as that has ground to a halt. In other words, he wants to go back to last year and is not wanting to reconfigure our economy to the new order of things. My point in all this? If we had gone for eradication like New Zealand did, we would have eradicated it long ago. We would have had our travel bubble to countries like New Zealand and other Pacific nations. Instead he went for ‘containment’ aka slow-motion herd immunity and stuffed the lot up.

              1. Angie Neer

                As a resident of the state of Washington I was a bit confused by your assertion, but I guess you mean Western Australia?

              2. Basil Pesto

                yes, WA, SA, have both done very well – sparsely populated states to be sure but with the populations concentrated in reasonably large capital cities served by international airports. ACT, NT, Tasmania also done well but with much smaller populations. QLD seems to have struggled a bit relatively speaking, but not relative to NSW, Vic and much of the rest of the world.

            1. Chris

              It’s been around 60 days since Tasmania’s last case. Nice to live on an island. The state government is looking to open up to ‘safe’ states on October 26.

      3. Carolinian

        Thank you and thank you. One has only to read widely on the web to know that there are indeed scientists who say that herd immunity is what will ultimately slow and stop the virus and therefore there is a debate about this, not a war between greedy capitalist deceivers and virtuous lockdown advocates. The WHO itself has now come out against further lockdowns making them–presumably–capitalist tools or no longer scientists.

        I wear a mask in stores both because I feel I should and because it’s a city ordinance but IMO there’s a difference between wearing a mask and being a mask fanatic who accuses anyone who doesn’t wear one of trying to kill them. Let’s all just get through this without politicizing the very uncertain knowledge surrounding Covid.

        1. furies

          *Politicizing* my health?? Public health most certainly has been ‘politicized’, and it will be the death of me and many many others.

          Precautionary Principle has been thrown into the trash–and is only ever whispered about because CAPITALISM.

          1. Carolinian

            I’m quite possibly older than you are and am hardly indifferent to public health or to my own health. But there’s a problem with the precautionary principle when it becomes a species of single minded doctrine that ignores precaution regarding other considerations such as the fact that people who are not work at home office workers need to make a living. And even health considerations are set aside such the many other diseases that go undiagnosed and untreated because of the overwhelming focus on covid (this is the testimony and complaint of medical people).

            And re Sweden the facts do not support. They have fewer deaths per million than the US and several European nations and that gap is widening. To be sure that statistic alone doesn’t tell us the whole story but it does tell us that they are not the huge disaster that is routinely claimed. It’s like Cuomo closing his borders to Southern states when his death rate is three times theirs. Everything is a propaganda talking point where this great pandemic medical disaster is absorbed into our petty political squabbles. Enough already.

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              I’d love to see a re-airing of the totality of what “health” means.

              The WHO says “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”.

              Given this definition it’s hard to argue that lockdowns, media hysteria, and economic devastation promote “health”.

              If we’re going to completely re-order society around the avoidance of one pathogen then let’s be honest and say that’s what we’re doing. We’re seeking “the absence of disease or infirmity”, not promoting “health”.

              1. Terry Flynn

                The WHO says “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”.

                And Virtually all of Europe, Canada, Australasia and a lot of the rest of the non-USA world doesn’t agree with this. They use – in many cases EXPLICITLY – the Quality Adjusted Life Year (QALY) in policy. Which would have a lot to say about any disease that has effects that go beyond the traditional disease realms. It would, not least, have a LOT to say if 15% of the population died young of organ failure. And govts that don’t follow this in practice don’t go for the “individual disease model” either.

                Don’t get me wrong. I am a “traitor” to economics (in that the QALY model quietly sits upon the neoclassical synthesis and not a model of “real resources” like MMT and thus I reject it). However, this is the model so many governments purport to follow. So if we’re going to be “honest”, then governments will, perhaps after a delay, seek to fund interventions that come under the “QALY threshold” for all (commonly understood to be £30,000/QALY gained in UK, $50,000 US elsewhere). I wish people would stop quoting WHO definitions of health when I don’t know of a single 2nd/1st world country that explicitly sets this as its definition of health in a meaningful policy-based sense (i.e. something rules/law-based to aim for).

                1. Carolinian

                  if 15% of the population died young of organ failure

                  You keep throwing that around as though it was some sort of proven assertion. You do realize that a study in Britain said that three quarters of those testing positive have no symptoms at all.

                  There was never a cure for the Spanish Flu and yet we all aren’t still dying from the Spanish Flu (although lots do die from “the flu.”) Herd immunity is a real thing and widely accepted as such until the politics of this entered the picture including some who welcome the collapse of the current system. Therefor huge and damaging decisions are being made on the basis of assumptions such as yours. It’s CYA for the politicians and for everyone else and their means of living “I’ll be gone, you’ll be gone.” If you want to throw around the fifteen percent thing, honestly, you need rock solid proof. And no offense but “healthcare economist” is not much of a credential when it comes to the science of disease.

                  1. furies

                    But what I’ve read (I’m too wiped out presently to look up links for you but I will…) is that *asymptomatic* people are incurring organ/brain damage.

                    1. furies

                      Adding further to the ‘maybe’ comment;

                      funny how you’re hesitant to take a vaccine for Covid but you’re willing to sacrifice the unlucky for your theoretical ‘herd immunity’ ~

                      The uncertainty *should* make you cautious!

                  2. Phillip Cross

                    “You do realize that a study in Britain said that three quarters of those testing positive have no symptoms at all. ”

                    The household study you referred to did find that 3/4 of the handful of those who tested positive *in that study* had no symptoms yet. They tested a random sample of the population to get an overview of infection prevalence.

                    However, 100% of people getting tested in the UKs health system actually do have symptoms, because you cannot get tested otherwise.

                    So for the 14k current positive cases a day, assume there are an additional 42k pre-symptomatic cases walking around.

        2. Lost in OR

          Does herd immunity suggest that once you’ve had covid you can’t get it again? If so, do we have evidence of that? If not, how much of this discussion is moot?

          Two years ago I got a nasty flu virus twice in the same month. It would be nice to be assured the covid virus isn’t like that.

          1. Terry Flynn

            Very good point. So much of the herd immunity case relies on a practically zero error Bayesian prior that you “won’t get it again and won’t suffer any lasting damage to vital organs”.

            Nothing so far supports this on a population scale. There’s plenty of evidence to the contrary in population subgroups. The issue is “are these subgroups small enough that we can realistically use herd immunity as a valid approximation to how covid spreads/infects/reinfects over the population”?

        3. lordkoos

          Maybe ask the native Americans how quickly they developed “herd immunity” to smallpox. In the time of back plague so-called herd immunity was not achieved for 200 years.

          1. Procopius

            We didn’t achieve “herd immunity” to smallpox until we had a workable vaccine. Same with polio, although apparently epidemic polio only appeared in the late Nineteenth Century. Same with measles, mumps, whooping cough, scarlet fever, chickenpox … Those are all diseases with fatalities, by the way, which is why doctors recommend so many vaccinations.

            I expect either the Russians or the Chinese to develop a safe, effective vaccine before Big Pharma does. I wonder what would happen to a pharmaceutical company (I’m thinking Shkreli’s Turing Pharmaceuticals) licenses the Chinese version and started manufacturing it.

      4. David

        I’m beginning to get the queasy feeling that we are faced with an insoluble problem; or, more precisely a problem which cannot be solved within the constraints of the range of social, political and economic systems in the world today. Simply put, there a variety of things you can do, and, depending on the situation of your country, some will work better than others to control the virus and limit deaths. Until you try to go back to normal, that is, and cases will accelerate rapidly again. Except for a few special cases, mostly islands, the virus seems to be inherently incompatible with any form of normal life except in the very short term. At least in Europe, the idea of “living with” the virus, at some “acceptable” level of death, seems to be a delusion. In France, even a relatively limited relaxation of rules, with enforced mask wearing, hasn’t been enough to prevent a massive spike in cases, to the point where most experts think we’re essentially in the same position we were in March, just with more testing. We may be condemned to oscillate between lockdowns and massive increases in cases, with no equilibrium point.

        But what about vaccines I hear you ask? Well, OK, but that only works if enough people, in every country in the world, are vaccinated, not just travellers (which would be a massive problem in itself). So an airport cleaner in Juba infects a passenger travelling to Addis Ababa to take a flight to Singapore via Dubai. How many people would get infected along the way, in duty-free shops, airport cafés, or toilets? Short of building a wall around your country and only letting people enter with a machine-readable international vaccination enter, what else can you do? Would you trust someone who turned up with a vaccination certificate from Khirgitstan, even if you could read it?

        1. Clive

          Yes, I agree totally. There are simply too many unfalsifiable theories.

          “Why didn’t the lockdown work?”, “It didn’t work because it wasn’t long enough or severe enough, if it had been longer and more draconian, it would have worked…” (but no-one can say, up front, how long is long enough or how restricting is restricting enough).

          Same with herd immunity (“how many infections are sufficient?” “as many as is needed to produce herd immunity.” “how many is that?” (etc.)). Same with mask ordinances (why didn’t the mask ordinance work?” “it didn’t work because compliance wasn’t good enough” “what compliance rate is required?” “if everyone wore a mask whenever a mask was needed, the policy would be effective”) — any failure of these policies can be blamed on the people, not the policy, because the effectiveness threshold is either unestablishable or unrealistic and since the people will always fail to some extent, they can always be made the culprit.

          I’m really not sure what the answer is, either.

          1. cocomaan

            Clive, I’ve read all your posts here and I’m generally with you on this.

            The answer is that there is no answer. This disease is a parasite that preys on human sociability much more readily than other diseases, even highly transmissible diseases like the common cold. Community spread is far too easy with this germ.

            What’s amazing is that, after all these months, all this gnashing of teeth, we still know next to nothing about the disease. If anything, this disease has shown how hard it is to do medical science.

              1. cocomaan

                That’s a solid observation. There’s a mythology about our ability to deal with adversity.

                All bombs can be defused, just by cutting the correct wire.

                As it turns out, some bombs can’t be stopped. You have to figure out how to move people out of the way, instead.

          2. JWP

            I think this is pushing the data and statistics driven world into overload and probably showing that it isn’t the answer to everything it’s cracked up to be. Seeing as most models people use to create an “effective level” would work with a 1 or 5% error, they are set up to fail. If 99 people comply and one doesn’t, a whole country could become infected in a month or so but the claim would be the model and therefore the policy is full proof.

      5. Cuibono

        Some clever obfuscation going on there Clive. Sweden has 10X the mortality of Norway and you know it. JAPAN is going far better than the vast majority of the world. Germany one of Europes stars…

        1. Clive

          Please see my earlier reply above. A historic death rate tells us nothing about the effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of a public health policy today.

          The only valid datapoint for how effective a country’s public health policy was last week is the data from last week (save maybe adding a week or so to reflect the time it takes for a rate of transmission to show up in the case count).

          If I’m obfuscating, you’re deflecting.

          1. Cuibono

            Nope. Sweden has 10 x the mortality of its immediate neighbors. That is the FACT. In addition they have an economy that is NOT stronger. FACT.

            1. Phillip Cross

              “I hereby declare that all facts counter to my argument are inadmissible”.

              Well played Sir!

            1. Clive

              But they include care homes which caused half or more of the deaths in Sweden which were due to a mismanagement of infected people moved out of hospitals to avoid “overloading” them — the same happened in the U.K. too (and elsewhere probably). This is, you’d have to assume, a mistake which would not be repeated.

              And countries which suffered high early infection rates had poorer morbidity because initial treatment approaches were stabs in the dark (too much too early ventilation) and didn’t benefit from discoveries like dexamethasone. Sweden’s current death rate is little different from Norway’s

              When comparing clinical outcomes between countries for something like cancer, for example, you don’t say oh, country A is doing better than country B at the moment but gee, that doesn’t count because five years ago it was terrible so country B is still better because it didn’t mess things up five years ago. You look at current survival rate data. Unless your aim is to perpetually “punish” a country and try to make it a pariah because of past mistakes.

              If you managed a healthcare system, there’d be no point in clinical trials because, no matter how good the trial, if people had died of a disease before, you’d go and add them to the trial result data, just because they’d already gone and died and the current clinical management hadn’t been able to go back and retrospectively save them.

              1. bob

                “This is, you’d have to assume, a mistake which would not be repeated. ”

                That’s quite an assumption that you’re making, then extrapolating it into the future for ‘data’, which you then use the justify the assumption. That’s called circular logic.

                “You look at current survival rate data. Unless you aim is to perpetually “punish” a country and try to make it a pariah because of past mistakes. ”

                It’s one or the other. Those are the rules. You’re either wrong, or you’re being mean.

                1. Clive

                  If I’m making an assumption then so are you (the same one I’m making but in reverse, rather than elderly patients not getting dumped into care homes, they would be getting dumped into care homes). There’s nothing in what you say to substantiate that any country would fail to learn through experience.

                  As to your second point, by your logic you can never evaluate current public health policy and its effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) because you always have to add back in morbidly from past policy failures (even though you may well have learned from those failures and don’t intend to repeat them). No public health policy development has ever worked on that basis. For good and self-evident reasons.

                  1. bob

                    There are 2 choices. You’re either with Clive: Correct, Good and one with God almighty

                    Or, you are wrong, evil and want to kill people.

                    You’d rather be Clive, right?

                    1. Clive

                      At least I’m not promising an illusion of total safety and then conspicuously failing to deliver it — and all the while blaming the failure on people not following my deeply flawed plan (which hasn’t a shred of robust data backed up by rigorous field-based research and is merely a rag-bag of hopeyness, pseudoscience and correlation but is still running as a live trial with no design, protocol or control group) diligently enough.

        1. Clive

          Whataboutery is my favourite game! What about Greece? What about Iceland?

          We can all cite this-or-that country to make specific examples either for or against the argument we’re trying to advance. But I asked for consistent and repeatable strategies that can and have been applied everywhere and work every time over time. This is the standard for research since the Enlightenment. If we’re not to use the scientific method for determining what works and what doesn’t but, rather than testing a hypothesis against empirical evidence, we rely on approaches not founded in proven cause-and-effect linkages then we might as well go back to leeches and the four humors.

          There isn’t any which fits that bill. It is very difficult to compare different countries especially as today’s hero can easily become tomorrow’s zero.

          Always interesting too to see where the country fits on the democracy index. The two examples you list have some issues as do most “COVID successes”. New Zealand is again an honourable exception and an outlier rather than typical.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            “Flatten the curve” disappeared without a trace from the debate. You know, that the total number of deaths could not be controlled, just the speed at which populations experienced them? En route to herd immunity that is. And oh: herd immunity itself as a concept is under attack…but I’ve not yet heard what the practical opposite of that is supposed to be. Eradication, a la smallpox? With (X) number of successful corona virus vaccines having been previously developed and used before (X = 0, BTW)?

      6. Tom Bradford

        Sure, I’ll say New Zealand. And yes we would be pretty thin on the ground if we were spread out but Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch and the larger towns where most of us live are pretty much crowded city centres and suburbia like anywhere else.

        What New Zealand did unlike the US and Europe was to lock down hard and early to stop the infection spreading and then stay locked down until it had been eliminated in the community, before easing up. Most everywhere else that did lock down did it too late, compromised to economic squealing to lessen its effectiveness and came out too early, which created the worst of all possible worlds, epidemically and economically.

        Going hard and early meant that essential workers were still free of it and stayed that way. For most places now it’s too late for that, so lockdowns won’t work.

    3. jackiebass

      Herd immunity is a form of mass killing. Covid is a convent tool to facilitate it. I watched a program on BBC World about the subject. One of the people, supposedly a scientist, was pushing herd immunity. She without realizing revealed she had a vested interested in promoting herd immunity. She teaches at an elite British university and said she was anxious to get back to in person teaching. That told me she was more interested in her personal situation than the harm that herd immunity would do to others. I personally don’t believe herd immunity is worth the price you would have to pay. It would result in unnecessary deaths and long term health issues.It is actually too soon to promote this idea because we still do not know enough about covid.

      1. Terry Flynn

        I don’t disagree. Though I got cynical quite young, the cynicism in the academic establishment I gained when seeing particular “evidence based medicine pioneers” rip the “vitamin D guy” a new one in 1999 was a new one on me.

        To answer others who have made/make this point – you can argue that none of the restrictive policies followed in various countries have really properly “worked” but please be honest about what you are endorsing instead – a policy that we know already (via the precautionary principle that is native to Europe at least) could well doom 15% of people to organ failure at an early age. To criticise all the current strategies without acknowledging the kind of evidence NC has drawn attention to regarding what covid-19 can do is odd at the very least.

      2. Clive

        Mass killing is letting COVID-19 just rip without countermeasures. But then mass killing is also blanket DNR orders (or DNRs by stealth through practice if not by design) in care homes. Or rationing other medical treatments. Or through the secondary effects of mass unemployment.

        Now if you want to make a point about how opening up while protecting the vulnerable is a handwave in the absence of a proven strategy to do just that, then that I completely agree with. There is absolutely no question at all in my mind that, with our current irresponsible governments left to their own devices, “protecting the vulnerable” could turn out to be “let the vulnerable sort it all out for themselves”. But that failing — of government and governments betraying our trust in them and not living up to their responsibilities — is a different issue.

        And while we’re discussing handwaves, magical solutions like “we’ll just lock down for as long as it takes to eliminate the virus and then we’ll have perfect track and trace to keep it under control” is just as much a handwave as “protect the vulnerable while opening up” is. As is selective lockdowns, “suppressing” the virus and various well-intended home remedies and preventatives. None of these protect the vulnerable, either. They just perpetuate what most of us are enduring anyway — herd immunity + some noisy, distracting displacement activity.

        1. hunkerdown

          As a US citizen under the US healthcare industry, I am essentially vulnerable in a way these sanguine, out-of-earshot sacrifices don’t address: that those of us who submit to this invidious judgment and found unfit for grace are social scrap who, it seems, some almost want to develop long-lasting side effects that not only damage actual human lives, but destroy productive capacity at the personal level. Over half of COVID infectees have lingering side effects, it has been quoted. I would expect that as favored a guest of our humble bloggers wouldn’t make the error of not including the appreciable likelihood of permanent damage in their devil’s advocacy.

        2. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

          Moderns just cannot get used to the idea that they are mortal. The entire culture is geared toward perpetual youth and vitality.

      3. ambrit

        I imagine that you and I think alike insofar as we both consider any ‘excess’ deaths to be unacceptable. Unfortunately, we live in a society where death is metricised. A certain range of “unnecessary” deaths is considered acceptable for the continuation of ‘business as usual.’
        My go to example is the auto company management that calculated the ‘acceptable’ rate of deaths resulting from an automobile design defect, all based in net profit versus legal department and court damage awards costs determined by the dollar amounts. Absolutely no recourse to ethics or morality.
        Echoing the extended thread of comments from the other day, I’ll posit that today’s ‘meme’ of herd immunity versus social actions designed to mitigate the effects of the Dreaded Pathogen is an example of ‘Brutalism’ applied to social relations.
        Stay safe!
        Winter is coming. (I’ll steal from the Master and remark that this will not be “the Winter of our discontent,” but “the Winter of our distemper.”)

        1. Clive

          Yes and even in my own my mind I am hopelessly conflicted (and if even I end up vacillating back and forth, I’m not sure how time-pressed and non media-savvy people who don’t have the luxuries I am afforded manage).

          On the one hand, no-one should ever suffer let alone die when such suffering and death can be alleviated.

          But on the other hand, such motherhood-and-apple-pie statements don’t stand up to the merest brush with reality. Even in fully state-run healthcare systems, there is literally a price on life (and endless reams of guidance and criteria are established to say what that is). This isn’t all down to those dastardly capitalists or callous uncaring governments (although the capitalists are dastardly and the government can be callous and uncaring) but merely a reflection on the necessity to tackle price-gouging by drug developers for ineffective or not-better-than-the-conventionally-offered drugs and procedures or to work out how, given an unavoidably finite distribution of national resources to healthcare, you determine where diminishing returns set in.

          These form the basis of a mature debate. I don’t know first-hand what the public discourse state is in the US for COVID-19 but it seems from afar much like that in the U.K. — utterly bonkers and crazy-making. It is well past time we all got a grip of ourselves.

          My views were piqued and my understanding of how awful the current level is by talking with a Japanese friend on this subject. I asked about the situation is in Japan, public attitudes, what the government is doing, what is good, what is bad etc. She was guarded but unmistakable: the Japanese are doing the best they can, taking reasonable but not excessive precautions and trying to balance the various harms to the economy and people evenly across society and keeping things functional alongside the various flipsides of how there are inevitably constraints on what can be done. When compared to the demented reaction and degeneration into screechiness, slanging matches and name-calling in the U.K. in what passes for public debate, she throught we had absolutely lost our minds.

          I for one couldn’t help but agree.

          1. Redlife2017

            Clive – as was pointed out in the Atlantic article, though, Japan and other countries are doing a better version of contact tracing in that they are looking for the superspreaders and get the clusters under control. They have also emphasized people being careful inside crowded spaces (closed spaces with poor ventilation, crowded places, and close-contact settings) that are the right way to think about it. And knowing the Japanese – I would be shocked if they went out if they knew they were sick. The percentages of people going out knowing / suspecting they are sick in the UK is pretty amazing. In September SAGE came out with the number that only 20% fully self-isolate. So the Japanese have several good ways to avoid the superspreader events.

            I’m not saying the Japanese are perfect, but they muddled through to a way to deal with this…

            There is a qualitative difference to what European countries including the UK did. I’d be thrilled to do what the Japanese, New Zealanders and Taiwan have done to contain things so that we can mostly live our lives. But in my mind, this whole discussion seems to miss the point that our politics have utterly failed. There is no way anyone can say with a straight face that Boris Johnson and his lot have tried to be reasonable and thoughtful in their precautions. They lunge from total opening to partial then total shutdowns (randomly almost). They refused to do any planning for when universities would open. They refused to do any planning on how to open up workplaces. They refuse to learn from other countries. They refuse to use local government know-how on how to contain the virus and let people live. They refuse to use the Nightingale hospitals as pure covid wards instead using hospitals as covid wards (and leading to their greatest wish – the destruction of the NHS). What we are seeing is feudal corruption, lies, and incompetence (as per the linked article yesterday).

            I personally do not want a lockdown, but I also know that everything the government has done has lead to this outcome.

        2. Terry Flynn

          As a health economist I don’t consider any excess deaths to be unacceptable. But I was trained to be up front about assumptions. Hence – and I suspect we’re on the same page here – I am not arguing for some sort of attempt to preserve a mythical nirvana.

          My main argument is really as follows. Those of us in Europe (and I’m sure, a fair number elsewhere) want the precautionary principle followed. Given what we know so far – and some truly disturbing prospective studies with NONE of the problems of confounding etc that plague so many clinical trials have shown – there is prima facie evidence that 15% of people may be getting severe organ damage due to covid-19, no matter what their symptoms. These people were very fit (athletes in fact) – see NC passim. Now, maybe that’s grossly unrepresentative of “the typical population”. After all, my heart condition was NOT one of the ones typically affecting older/fatter/unhealthy people. When giving my medical history to a new doctor upon my arrival in Sydney my GP looked at me (when I was still fit with around 7% body fat) and asked “are you a former athlete then?” Yes indeed SVTs most commonly affect the hearts of people who push themselves. Maybe the covid-19 heart atrophy issues is something similar?

          But if it is NOT, and 15% is our “best case scenario”, then the results could be truly horrifying. Which is why I think systems dynamics models (of the sort people like Steve Keen use) with non-linearities and which model multiple systems (like both health and the economy) are desperately needed. We can’t separate “the economic effects” from “health”. Until we get a better picture of our “civilizational tipping point” (and yes it might be that bad) we should be erring on the side of caution. And yes, lockdown REALLY messed up my mental health (again) so I’m not being blase there either….. /rant :-)

          1. a different chris

            >We can’t separate “the economic effects” from “health”.

            No, and actually isn’t that the whole basis of civilization? Yes of course said civilization has been happy to do stuff like sending a percentage of the population 600 feet down into the ground to fill their carts with coal and their lungs with coal dust. People shrunk after the onset of the Industrial Age. But we learn…the point is to keep the human race progressing.

            But if the economy as designed collides with the health of the population, then the economy has to be at least temporarily redesigned. We have food. We have shelter. Figure it out, buy time until a vaccine arrives or you are sure that it won’t – we are at neither point now.

            Killing people is not supposed to be the point of economics. That is the point of war. And even then, you need a large healthy population to wage said war – so you can’t get around it.

          2. ambrit

            I’m with you about the “realistic” side of public health.
            I also fear that if the 15% figure is correct, and in such a ‘sneaky’ manner at that, we are in for a cultural shake up. My second order musing is, what if the Dreaded Pathogen does a similar 15%s worth of serious damage each time it ‘comes around?’ That would land us in Great Plague territory. I note that earlier Great Plagues did their damage over extended periods of time. Is this applicable to modern, high mobility populations?
            As to Clive’s reference to how Japan handles the Dreaded Pathogen, I note that theirs, from the outside looking in, is a much more cohesive and “socially” oriented construct.
            Correct me if I am wrong, but, massive epidemics generally break out in congested urban conditions. Japan, for various reasons, one being usable land restrictions in the Home Islands, looks to have had a history of early urbanization and thus, having to deal with epidemics, ecological degradation, etc. Thus, we should look to them as having had a longer history of dealing with epidemics and such. Short form; the Japanese have learned hard lessons that we in the West can learn from to our benefit. Cultural chauvinism be d—-d.

            1. Terry Flynn

              Again, I think we’re on the same page, with only minor quibbles. My best friend has lived most of the 26 years since graduation in Japan. Wrote his PhD on Japanese WW2 memories and then translated it into Japanese himself (illustrating why he got the “professional” qualification in written Japanese required for lawyers/etc). Now is a vice-Dean in Tokyo. I always ask him about issues that affect Japan. His covid view is that whilst “packed train syndrome” etc have rapidly been reversed (in a way that might not happen quite so readily in “western” countries), Japan has its own set of problems that, quite frankly, are insoluble.

              What problems? Nuclear power legacy. If you look at the location of practically every single nuclear power station in Japan, with regard to the socio-economic status of that region, power of the local Liberal Democratic Party MPs etc, you see that Japan’s “dash for nuclear” following the oil crisis was perhaps the world’s worst case of NIMBYism ever. Virtually all the stations were in poorer areas and on low-lying ground. Fukushima was merely a taster for what’ll happen all over Japan when sea levels rise in the next 75 years. They are familyblogged. He merely is hoping his son gets to reach his 70s before things become too bad.

              Moral of the story? If there is one, it’s that neoliberalism seems to get us one way or the other if we give it even an inch :-(

              1. ambrit

                Thank you for the view from Japan. I remember the last segment of Kurosawa’s “Dreams” posited something very much like the nuclear disaster you mentioned happening. His visual cue of the herds of Japanese jumping off of the cliff to escape the “monster” was almost explicitly a lemmings reference.
                I fully agree about the mass disasters that the rising sea level will bring on. I have capered about on that hobbyhorse for years. This happened after Phyl and I lived through the ‘Katrina Experience’ on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The hurricane was bad enough. The following consequences were worse. Then, the Sea came for a short visit to the coastal dwellers. Now, we expect the Sea to come again, to stay.
                However, I digress. Covid-19 seems to possess a similar dynamic. Viruses have come and gone over the millennia. There is the distinct possibility that this particular Dreaded Pathogen is here to stay.
                If the above is anyway near the truth of the matter, there will never again be a “return to normal.” A “New Normal” will have to be worked out. To that point I suggest that, if a workable vaccine is not possible, then we will have to turn this process “on it’s head” and begin to work on the human body itself. Go very long on genetic ‘enhancement’ of the human body.

                  1. ambrit

                    Many thanks from Phyl and I. As Phyllis said shortly after the ‘Katrina Experience,’ “If that didn’t kill us, I doubt if very much else could.”
                    Knowing how to live a “proper” life is not a given. It has to be learned. This requires flexibility. One big path to “flexibility” in living is learning critical thinking. Again, it isn’t easy.
                    Be safe.

  3. zagonostra

    >The Meaning of Timothy Mcveigh Gore Vidal – Vanity Fair.

    Like Michael Parenti, Vidal bores into the hypocrisy, inconsistencies, and out right lies that our gov’t perpetuates on an unwitting and somnobulent populous. I never read this piece by Vidal, thanks for posting, there is much in it, I’ll need to re-read it more carefully when time permits, it’s a long article but well worth the read.

    But after a half-century of the Russians are coming, followed by terrorists from proliferating rogue states as well as the ongoing horrors of drug-related crime, there is little respite for a people so routinely—so fiercely—disinformed…

    1. nycTerrierist

      dear old GV, always worth re-reading:

      “TV-watchers have no doubt noted so often that they are no longer aware of how often the interchangeable TV hosts handle anyone who tries to explain why something happened. “Are you suggesting that there was a conspiracy?” A twinkle starts in a pair of bright contact lenses. No matter what the answer, there is a wriggling of the body, followed by a tiny snort and a significant glance into the camera to show that the guest has just been delivered to the studio by flying saucer. This is one way for the public never to understand what actual conspirators—whether in the F.B.I. or on the Supreme Court or toiling for Big Tobacco—are up to. It is also a sure way of keeping information from the public. The function, alas, of Corporate Media…

      1. Brian (another one they call)

        Imagine if you will; a newsreader and the job description; “Read what is put before you and do not comment unless it is scripted”
        as Mr. Henley said; “Its interesting when people die, give us dirty laundry”

        have you seen a newsreader that has lost the plot? deer in the headlights They are never hired for their ability to improvise.

      2. ambrit

        Vidal was one of the few brave enough to “speak truth to power” and not back down. Nevertheless, he did decide to move to Italy for years. I understand that he only moved back to America when his health began to fail.
        For some time, the Internet platforms were the refuge for those “conspiracy theorists” who were demonized by and driven off of the Corporate Media platforms. Now the Internet platforms have become Corporate. [How else interpret private entities like Google (parent company of YouTube,) Twitter, Facebook, et al, beginning to “sanitize” their information flows, all in the interests of “combatting” ‘Fake News’ etc.] I always get suspicious when some powerful entity tells me that it is going to place limits on my life to “protect” me.
        As a side note; it has been the sad experience that we are confused about how to react to the Dreaded Pathogen because, the “Officials” have been exposed as self interested liars.
        All of our Gold standards have turned back into Lead.

        1. Carolinian

          He was sandbagged by Mike Wallace on Sixty Minutes who asked, in effect, “You live your life in Italy. What kind of American are you?” Wallace then launched on the gay thing.

          And Wallace was “liberal” media back in the day.

          I’d say Vidal’s fiction is just ok but his essays were his true glory. He probably would have preferred the opposite judgment.

          1. chuck roast

            I’m currently reading DC. It is an absolutely hilarious send-up of all the feckless power brokers and their hangers-on in our nations capitol. No one in this novel has even a scintilla of morality or empathy. It’s very chatty, and some of the conversations are guffaw-inducing. Vidal’s take on and understanding of human nature are singular.

            1. GF

              Read his historical fiction “1876” for a great satirical insight into the presidential election that year. This year’s election, with the loser ending up in the White House, could be a remake of that book.

            2. Carolinian

              Oh I’ve read, and enjoyed, almost all of his books but I’d say their goal is always to make a point rather than the traditional novelistic goal of talking about the human condition. One of his peculiarities is that all the characters sound like Gore Vidal talking just as all the characters in Woody Allen movies sound like Woody Allen talking. Guess what I’m saying is that they don’t overflow with empathy or much concern for psychology.

              And don’t forget he was very prolific as a TV writer, wrote plays and movies. But IMO the essays are his glory.

          2. anonymous

            James Baldwin had to answer questions like that, even for articles where he wasn’t even interviewed.

      3. NotTimothyGeithner

        The famed description of tv making a holocaust scholar and a holocaust denier seem like equals is so hyperbolic it might distract from how awful tv is as a medium. The dangers are seemingly much more subtle and innocuous.

    2. Lee

      “Dr. John Smith [describing Timothy McVeigh]: Well, I don’t think he committed it because he was deranged or misinterpreting reality…. He was overly sensitive, to the point of being a little paranoid, about the actions of the government. But he committed the act mostly out of revenge because of the Waco assault, but he also wanted to make a political statement about the role of the federal government and protest the use of force against the citizens. So to answer your original question, it was a conscious choice on his part, not because he was deranged, but because he was serious.

      As America appears to be unraveling and our governing institutions seem bent upon burying their heads ever deeper up their own duopolist asses, I suspect we will be experiencing an outbreak of seriousness within larger segments of the general population.

    3. Redlife2017

      Yes, I read that and realised I hadn’t marinated properly in some Vidal books..ever! So, I now have a few on order. That article is astounding. Really the must read for today.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Don’t miss Julian. Took him 10 years to research and write.

        (Unless of course you are a practicing Christian…in which case he will comprehensively skewer your belief system for you)

    4. pjay

      Yes, thanks for this very timely article. So relevant in so many ways today.

      Remember when noted magazines like Vanity Fair would publish articles like this rather than official stenography?

      Also, did anyone else notice the publication date? Even more chilling.

  4. jr

    “The request for the IP addresses falls in a grey area of the law. Police usually would have to narrow their focus to an individual before serving a warrant for information on searches. But keyword warrants are outside the scope of current law language.“

    Can anyone help me understand how it is that a “keyword warrant” can exist as a law enforcement process but no law exists to govern that process? Are we seeing law enforcement “disruptors” at work? Entrepreneurs who create new exciting new methods of law enforcement on the wing; no time for the stodgy system to bog things down with ethical/legal/political concerns?

    1. Phillip Cross

      “Can anyone help me understand how it is that a “keyword warrant” can exist as a law enforcement process but no law exists to govern that process? ”

      Nine eleven plus an ignorant, cowed population?

    2. hunkerdown

      I’m afraid lawfare is exactly that and that’s exactly what you’re looking at. Entrepreneurism is the neo’s state religion. As much as I hate providing material support for neoliberalism, it’s worth throwing John Robb $5 a month for the window into the heads of our Best and Brightest™.

    3. tegnost

      from the citi post below links…

      Mind you, there are other ways to deal with the “too big/too complex to fail” problem with banks, which is prohibition. They need to be kept from doing risky and stupid things. For starters, the baseline regulatory assumption should be not that “everything which is not prohibited is allowed” to “everything that is not allowed is prohibited .”

      1. hunkerdown

        Bob Cringely suggested something very similar in the wake of the GFC, in his better days. His attitude was, paraphrasing, “Banks exist to lend. Do your job or lose your charters.” I suppose, if there is one virtuous thing about the entrepreneurial ideal, it’s that those who embody it get about as cranky about aimless, adrift, adolescently self-interested capital’s “sacred order” as the rest of us.

  5. jr

    Re: The Others and Harry Reid

    Great time to reread “Childhoods End” and hope they care enough to step into this s#1+show.


      1. Sensei Tiger

        I was thinking about what kind of wild Hail Mary Trump might opt to throw in the final weeks of the campaign and the two scenarios I kept coming back to were ‘sending a message to China’ and something about UFOs.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Trump alone might come up with a hail mary, but he now has too many regular Republicans to do this. Group think will produce the usual GOP outcomes: “Biden is a commiesocialist” and “Harris is black”. I think Trump won’t buck the consensus of people he sees as aligned with him, and telling people “Harris is black” appeals to Trump anyway.

          1. Synoia

            I personally find Harris is back somewhat terrifying, based on her record as Attorney General in CA.

            She certainly appears as a solid member of the Republican wing of the Democratic Party.

          2. Phillip Cross

            From what I have seen, they are being craftier than simply pointing out, “Harris is Black”. They prefer to say “Harris isn’t really Black”, and then go into the details of her genealogy. Probably to try and stoke resentment to her among the African American electorate.

        2. cocomaan

          We are still waiting on the US Navy’s statement on the Tic Tac object.

          Given that it’s 2020, I wouldn’t be surprised if we found out that a race of aliens has lived at the bottom of the ocean for centuries (ala James Cameron’s The Abyss), existing in a tense stalemate with humanity by leveraging their superior technology. That technology, in turn, has been the subject of intense military research in an effort to get a leg up on the ocean faring alien race.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        There is a great deal about V and Independence Day that doesn’t hold up (though both are fun), but having the ships appear and hover about cities was simply a fantastic tribute.

    1. Lex

      Here’s the thing… Overlord on one shoulder, Overmind on the other… if I actually added ‘The Phenomenon’ to my Netflix queue and thus my list of regrets, I’d have to spend the rest of my life apologizing to myself for making yet another dodgy choice eyes wide-open, and so late in life and of an age when I should have known better. In high school when I read the book — sure, where do I get in line?! Now decades later I’d just walk around muttering, ‘WTH? Have I learned nothing?!’ Lashing my own backside with a cat-o-nine tails of recriminations for stupidity/willed ignorance.

      I don’t expect a lot of dignity goes with old age, but I would like to be able to say I learned to stop stepping in my own dookie. Yep, baby steps. Ascension might take awhile.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Err…Reid is a Mormon convert. I mean…if he was in a different sect I could easily see him griping about giants and outcroppings on Mount Ararat.

    3. dougie

      No argument here! I was going to start a new book this afternoon. Might as well be this one. It’s been over 40 years since I last read it.

  6. timbers

    David Atkins: Republicans Have Already Packed the Courts. It’s Up To Democrats How To Rebalance Them. Washington Monthly

    Of course.

    Like Obama packed the court during his 8 years? Like when Dems rolled back Bush’s wars to bring our troops home and illegal surveillance and sided with whistle blowers and held public meetings on CNN to formulate ACA and became the most transparent government ever? Like when we had to pass the ACA to know what’s in it? Like when once we knew what’s in it Dems improved it because that’s the only thing that could have happen? Like we just need more and better Democrats? Like how Dems won a Noble Peace Prize because they rejected force in international relations and chose dialogue and peaceful cooperation instead?

    The term useful idiot takes on new meaning.

    1. edmondo

      The Democrats are always fighting the last war. They had no idea that reapportionment after 2010 meant until they lost the House for ten years because of gerrymandering. The Dems had no idea that leaving three quarters of the judgeships empty might be a huge target for The Heritage Foundation. This time, it’s going to take 30 years to outlive the Star Chamber that Mitch has given us. Fortunately, the Dems don’t care. It’s great for fundraising and that is their priority.

    2. Noone from Nowheresville

      Just further seeding the fields to open up the court of play for a constitutional convention.

  7. Henry Moon Pie

    Cultural roots of conservatism–

    This is an interesting piece to read in the context of Brooks’s lament for liberalism and Beer’s TAC piece crying over conservatism.

    Kimball sees a struggle between two groups: his Traditionals (my term) who see culture as something handed down from above (i.e. from a god) and from the past; and the Brave New Worlders who seek to remake humans into a more easily managed version.

    I find it hard to quarrel with his depiction of the BNW-ers:

    Huxley’s brave new world is above all a superficial world. People are encouraged to like what is new, to live in the moment, because that makes them less complicated and more pliable. Emotional commitments are even more strictly rationed than Shakespeare. (The same, again, is true in 1984.) In the place of emotional commitments, sensations—thrilling, mind-numbing sensations—are available on demand through drugs and motion pictures that neurologically stimulate viewers to experience certain emotions and feelings. The fact that they are artificially produced is not considered a drawback but their very point. Which is to say that the brave new world is a virtual world: experience is increasingly vivid but decreasingly real. The question of meaning is deliberately short-circuited.

    But he is blind to the faults of the cultural tradition he’s extolling. It was a tradition that butchered other cultures while being prone to internecine conflict itself. Its inherent hubris about human capability has combined with its Cartesian disdain for the natural world to bring us to the beginnings of environmental catastrophe. It showed no flexibility when groups defined as “out” in the paradigm demanded some freedom and equality. The decline of Traditional culture’s hold is less the consequence of the BNW-ers successfully suppressing the Traditional culture than its own collapse from self-contradictions and rigidity.

    So like watchmen wait for the morning, so we keep a lookout for the appearance of a new worldview that provides the foundation for a way forward.

    1. hunkerdown

      Naturally. Pradhan et al. 2020 proposed that any reserve of exploitable resources inevitably leads to the formation of a class system, with one (or more) elite classes capturing and exploiting a near-subsistence-level mass. In that light, calls for “progress” are calls for more exploitation and a more secure position for elites. More pertinently, in that light, the loot is enough to explain every class system, and every proponent of a class system bears the burden of proving that the loot isn’t a motivation, a very easy negative to prove by simply forswearing the loot. They’ll never do this because they have the very entitlement mentality they project onto others.

      I tried to read Kimball, but it was just as unpleasant a series of “high culture” (on what?) shibboleths and pompous self-regard as anything from the woke PMC. I had to drop out at the second paragraph when he just asserted taboos noisily as if they were entitled to exist and reproduce.

      (Mods: the Submit Comment button doesn’t seem to be highlighting/greying right today, after a Firefox upgrade last night. Apologies for any doubling.)

  8. WhoaMolly

    > “ImageThe New York Times newsroom. – The paper is in the midst of an evolution from the stodgy paper of record into a juicy collection of great narratives.“

    Like, maybe, The National Enquirer?

    The Times caption of the photo appears to be accidental truth telling. I am shocked. It does, however, put recent reporting and newsroom hires into perspective.

    1. divadab

      Yes. The NYT is apparently in the propaganda business – managing the imperial narrative – and they hire publicists and screenwriters like this Callimachi person who masquerade as journalists. Anything for the story!

  9. The Rev Kev

    “‘It’s been so, so surreal.’ Critics of Sweden’s lax pandemic policies face fierce backlash”

    If they are finally tightening up on their anti-virus measures, there may be a subtle reason why. When the other Scandinavian countries closed their borders to Sweden who went gung-ho for herd immunity, the Swedes suddenly found themselves in the position where they were being looked down upon by their neighbours. That their Scandinavian neighbours did not want them or partake in their experiment but closed the borders to keep them out. I bet that that was something that the Swedes were not used to and felt uncomfortable about.

    1. Phillip Cross

      Ironically that probably helped them in their efforts to control the virus. It seems to be all the international comings and going that bring the new infectious chains. If nobody wants you at their place, and nobody wants to visit, you end up with a fixed set of cases to deal with. Quarantine in UK, when they finally bothered, is on the honour system, so they will never deal with their problem. Probably by design.

      1. Maritimer

        “It seems to be all the international comings and going that bring the new infectious chains.”

        Mr jurisdiction has had negligible cases for about two months. All new cases are attributed to travel. There is an international airport but since Covid Panic began, they have permitted flights into that airport from anywhere in the world that connects. When someone gets here, they are informed only that they must self isolate for 14 days. That’s all they are told: no enforcement, no tracking.

        So my government has locked down the citizenry here with masks, social distancing and other unnecessary mandates while refusing to rigidly control the airports and other entry points of Covid. Here it is truly Emperor Has No Clothes Time. There is no Covid but folks fearfully go about masked and tiptoeing by each other distrustfully. Even the top Covid Banana has said he is “training the population.” Masked rats in a Pavlovian box. I wonder what other unnecessary “training” is planned.

        Multiple choice: The experts here are:
        1. incompetent
        2. negligent
        3. following orders of the WHO, CDC, BigPharma bosses.

    2. divadab

      I don;t know about that – the Swedes have been kicked out of both Norway and FInland when the Norwegians and the Finns decided they were sick of the Swedes bossing them around. I imagine that made them a bit more uncomfortable at the time than they are now.

  10. Mark P.

    Anyone seen a nice graph plotting judicial vacancies and appointments over the last 40 years? Am I correct to recall that the R senate put holds/delays on Clinton’s nominations to the federal bench like McConnell did to Obama? You could Tufte it up to demote control of the presidency and senate. And add notes showing when changes were made to the nomination process, such as Bush II removing the norm of selecting candidates prescreened by the American Bar Association (Mar 2001). Additional graphs showing cumulative appointees that are/were Federalist Society members, numbers that never tried a court case in their career, etc, averaged ABA ranking, political spectrum rating, etc?
    Could be a great NC group effort.

    1. MT_Bill

      “Tufte it up”.

      That’s great and I’m going to start using it when reviewing figures and maps. Thanks!

    2. a different chris

      Funny (ha-ha funny, but in that gallows humor way) that the party considered to be “of lawyers” completely lost the handle on the importance, not of the judicial system but of the people that make up the judicial system, whereas the party considered to be “of businessmen” was very cognisant of that fact.

  11. The Historian

    Thank you for that meercat picture. They have got to be one of my favorite animals in the whole animal kingdom. I’ve often though that if they were left alone to evolve, they would be the next ‘thinking beings’ on this planet.

  12. JMM

    Re: ICO’s final report on Cambridge Analytica.

    FT Alphaville says that (highlighted paragraph on the link compilation): “it may shortly become even harder to disprove the uncomfortable proposition that Cambridge Analytica’s main data-related crime was overselling its own capabilities rather than actually hacking democracy with the help of the Russians.”

    To which I only have to add: but of course. The letter from the ICO Commissioner lets it through:

    5. […] In the main their models were also built from ‘off the shelf’ analytical tools and there was evidence that their own staff were concerned about some of the public statements the leadership of the company were making about their impact and influence.

    Translated: “this could have been done by any competent data scientist / statistician, and then the guys that went out with PowerPoint presentations to sell this to anyone with deep pockets were also good at their jobs”.

    The entire CA fiasco, just like the “Russians hacking democracy”, was dancing around the same narrative: the status-quo is fine, the system is as good as it gets, there is very little to change here, and whatever can be done must be done in small incremental steps; anyone voting against this is not a true American, and therefore some external influence must be to blame. Vote for Hillary, or else!

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Nice to see that a few months ago Nancy personally invested between $500K and $1M in Crowdstrike.

      I guess if you’re going to manufacture evidence for a coup attempt you might as well also make some serious bank doing it.

  13. Pat

    Schumer’s deals to fast track judges has been my top piece of evidence of the Democrats failure as an opposition party. Followed by my reminder that logically this meant that the Democratic leadership had no problem with these candidates, and the press and twitter distress and dismay were all for show.

    I also kept telling people to ignore Trump and focus on all the procedural success his administration was having and that it was largely bipartisan. Fell on deaf ears similar to my warnings during the Obama years

    1. fresno dan

      October 12, 2020 at 9:42 am

      The biggest new thing I have learned in my life when I became a HICAP volunteer is the credulity of people.
      They believe heath insurance advertising!!!
      Now, I believe in taking what people say at face value, but the operative word is people, not corporations or politicians.
      “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”

    2. John k

      Dems are an overwhelming success story as an opposition party. They fiercely oppose progressives and support reps (the rep auxiliary), precisely in accordance with donor instructions.
      You just have to understand their real role, not be fooled by their pretend role, then everything they do makes perfect sense. (Public vs private policies/roles.)

  14. fresno dan

    We have coding, we have upcoding (for profit), why not failcoding?

    A business aphorism is you measure what you care about.
    and if follows that you don’t measure what you don’t care about…
    Actually, I don’t believe that the number of people not treated or not treated well is something that the medical insurance complex does not care about – they care very much about that number…not ever being known

    1. a different chris

      Man that really works:

      You measure what you care about.
      You don’t measure what you don’t care about
      You suppress the measurement of what you don’t want others to care about

      Works for our plastic saturated oceans as well as the Medical Industrial Complex.

  15. marym

    “The California Secretary of State has received reports in recent days about possible unauthorized ballot drop boxes in Fresno, Los Angeles and Orange counties…Reports place such boxes at local political party offices, candidate headquarters and churches.

    On its website, the Fresno County Republican Party also shared a list of “secure” ballot collection locations. None are official county drop box sites, with the local GOP instead listing its own headquarters, multiple gun shops and other local businesses.”

    “In Florida, the Gutting of a Landmark Law Leaves Few Felons Likely to Vote

    State officials don’t know how many felons are registered or eligible to vote. So we did our own analysis and found only a very small percentage of them will be able to cast ballots this election. Some could face prosecution if they do.

    In a presidential election marred by voter suppression tactics, such as misinformation about vote-by-mail fraud, the weakening of Florida’s ballot measure, known as Amendment 4, may constitute the biggest single instance of voter disenfranchisement.”

    Here’s a resource:
    “ProPublica’s Electionland project covers problems that prevent eligible voters from casting their ballots during the 2020 elections. Our coalition of newsrooms around the country are investigating issues related to voter registration, pandemic-related changes to voting, the shift to vote-by-mail, cybersecurity, voter education, misinformation, and more.”

      1. Duck1

        But the Cali GOP is such a minority, what they will support their local reps, who are in a distinct minority? No effect on the Preznitdential electiion that I can see.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “The War Nerd: Like we always say on RWN, it helps to look at the maps. And then it’s good to add a topographic map. Here you can see that the Azerbaijani advances (green arrows) are in the south, where there’s flat land…”

    If the Armenians keep the high ground and have the equipment, I wonder if that means that they will retain fire control over any further advances by the Azerbaijanis. Probably the Armenians will not repeat the mistake of distancing themselves from Russia which led to them becoming vulnerable to this attack in the first place. The Armenian will also realize that without Turkish & Israeli help, that they would have been able to stop this Azerbaijani advance so they will have to reconfigure their military to deal with such weapons as drones.

  17. Ella

    I had to stop inside my gas station today to buy windshield fluid. I should’ve ordered it online (I rarely go anywhere except my yard, quiet hikes with my family these days). Anyway, 3 workers. One masked, one with his nose hanging out of mask and a third with no mask on. I asked her to wear a mask while I was in store. She said, I took it off because I was in the bathroom and wearing a mask in the bathroom is gross.


    Then I got massively depressed realizing the reality of this situation. It’s utterly exhausting.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      She said, I took it off because I was in the bathroom and wearing a mask in the bathroom is gross.


    2. hunkerdown

      Mask discipline is fair-to-middling in downriver Michigan, too. It’s the south side of Wayne County, bordering the Monroe County (Trump 2016, looking toward Biden 2020) where one commenter a couple of days ago mentioned family. Even toward the northern half of the county, I see at least one uncovered nose in almost every restaurant I visit, and in some independent or small-chain restaurants there is the occasional employee with mask obviously unworn but ready to emplace as if it fell by accident unawares. Now that’s what’s gross.

    3. Sutter Cane

      It’s utterly exhausting.

      My feelings, as well. At this point I have simply resigned myself to an extended sheltering in place. It is too frustrating whenever I venture out and see that my fellow citizens are incapable of even the simplest measures.

      1. furies

        Hard to do if you live alone.

        I just wish they’d send me the black pill; dying of Covid sounds like a real drag. We get the plan…

  18. DJG

    New York Times discovers that star reporter who hasn’t been monitored enough because she’s a star was fishing for the right story in Syria.

    Quelle surprise.

    New York Times coverage of Syria has mainly reinforced what the intelligence agencies were leaking to it. I recall a few years back when an article was desperately trying to come up with a good rationale for the U S of A to be in bed with Al Qaeda and Al Nusra in Syria. You don’t have to be an Assad fanboi to realize that subsidizing religious nutters may be perceived by real Syrian people as not a great idea.

    Yet the U S of A has been meddling in Syria since Syria received independence in the late 1940s.

    One disaster after another. The only beneficiary has been the so-called intelligence agencies. Gosh golly, do you think that the NY Times may also have gotten the Libya coup wrong and subsequent events as the country deteriorated into civil war, terror, and torture?

    1. Carolinian

      The Times has always been terrible on foreign policy. They were gung ho for Vietnam (reporters on the ground often–in the old days–would have different views).

      Since our elites seem to be obsessed with foreign policy the American public should pay more attention. The establishment may be up to no good. But here in the hegemon we are highly self absorbed.

      1. Procopius

        Never trust a foreign correspondent who does not speak the language of the country she’s supposedly reporting on.

  19. Synoia

    The loonies who want to go the Church to pray (and pray on others they will)

    Matthew 6:6 (King James Version)

    But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

    1. hunkerdown

      Why miss out the previous verse, that calls out the commandment from Jesus which they are directly flouting (emphasis mine):

      5 “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.”

    2. Foy

      Yep exactly. And do it in silence … Matthew 6:7 “And when you pray to not keep babbling like the pagans for they think they will be heard because of their many words”. Anyone would think he was giving instructions to just meditate quietly alone…. but can’t have that, they might actually discover the “kingdom of heaven is within them” (Luke 17:21)

      1. jr

        Not all babble is the same, some drives you to places you hadn’t thought capable of existing. Silent prayer and meditation have their place but so does howling and intoning.

  20. Noble

    Re-The effect of temperature on persistence of SARS-CoV-2 on common surfaces

    “titres excreted by infectious patients, viable virus was isolated for up to 28 days at 20 °C from common surfaces such as glass, stainless steel and both paper and polymer banknotes. Conversely, infectious virus survived less than 24 h at 40 °C on some surfaces.”

    That means the inside surfaces of a car with the windows up on a warm day will be more than that temperature and if left for a day or more, will self sterilze, especially the steering wheel and place high up where hot air builds up.

    Also, heating your mail, not magazines with staples, or U.S. currency, to the point where it is far hotter to the touch in a microwave, would sterilze it.
    I ran some tests: Microwaved a stack of 20 dollar bills at full power for 20 seconds, then inserted a meat thermometer in the middle as soon as power off and door opened, it registered over 220 degrees, cooling rapidly. Apparently there’s a lot of moisture in money, same in mail, which begins to curl because of different thickness of paper. Only downside, the steam makes sometimes makes return envelope glue self adhere.

  21. Clem

    California kept prison factories open. Inmates worked for pennies an hour as COVID-19 spread LA Times

    Remember Kamala Harris’ policies?

    “Most of those prisoners now work as groundskeepers, janitors and in prison kitchens, with wages that range from 8 cents to 37 cents per hour. Lawyers for Attorney General Kamala Harris had argued in court that if forced to release these inmates early, prisons would lose an important labor pool.

    Prisoners’ lawyers countered that the corrections department could hire public employees to do the work.”

  22. Pat

    Today’s terrible balloon from the Biden camp – Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

    Mind you the Wall Street contingent will cheer, so it is probably another money raiser for them.

    1. John Anthony La Pietra

      For a touch of contrast . . . the Green Party of Michigan held a virtual statewide meeting on Saturday, and those present heard Howie Hawkins say he’d like to persuade Ralph Nader to take that seat.

      (Maybe if not that, then the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau?)

  23. Susan the other

    The BIS on Central Bank Digital Currencies. Very international. Very informative and written on a lay person’s level. Basically, “a payment service cannot expand its balance sheet” so all is protected. But more people are serviced. It’s more about the velocity of money than changing any basic function of money. The article only uses the word “national” once to my count. It also mentions “domestic” a couple of times. So it does address the protected position of every sovereign currency. But it clearly underplays it. CBDC sounds fully functional. But I couldn’t follow a thing called “synthetic digital currency” which isn’t “official” central bank currency which is dependent upon sovereign control. Synthetic digital could be an interchange, like a sidetrack, to accomodate crypto payments as I read it. Digital has its checks and regulations, but it allows for other transactions. Like crypto if the crypto user maintains a reserve balance (as in private deposits) in some sovereign currency. Right? Chipping away at national sovereignty imo. Everything else sounded reasonable and doable. Except there was too great a trust and acceptance of “private money”. And too little respect for sovereign money. Privateering with sovereign money has run amok so badly in the last 40 years it is close to unforgivable and requires close restrictions to prevent the planet from spinning out of the solar system. One restriction on money, private money especially, would be a strict standard set by requirements for global warming prevention. That would be a good start. But the BIS made no mention of those things as if they were merely “political” which is always an affront to “private money” – as if private money printed up its own currency? Big loophole there. If central banks could understand the danger profiteering, extraction and global exploitation pose to a mere “sovereign currency” they might be a little more aggressive on some of these things.

  24. Matthew Slick

    Say what you will about Sweden, but perhaps it would be good to look at their death rates along a timeline, especially how they are doing now. Yes, they screwed up badly in the beginning because they weren’t paying attention to the elderly, as did some other nations and states. However, since August 1 (almost 2-1/2 months ago), they have been averaging 1-2 Covid deaths per day. Even looking at total deaths from the beginning, their rate for Covid deaths to population is lower than: the US, the UK, Spain, Italy, New York, New Jersey, Arizona and Florida. And their excess mortality rate has been lower than normal since September. I don’t have strong opinions on this, and with the advent of cold weather, this could all be shot to hell, but for now their situation impresses me.

  25. KFritz

    Search warrants based in keyword searches? The ghosts of Heinrich Himmler and Lavrenti Beria are gaping with envy. Imagine what these “remarkable” men could have done keyword dragnets!

  26. JCC

    Just a quick comment on the Air Cleaner Notes article for residents of California, Colorado and other fire areas… Our Valley here in the North Mohave has been filled with smoke almost every day since mid-August. I was waking up every morning to the smell of campfire in the house and spent the first hour or two of every morning sneezing and clearing out sinuses.

    About 3 weeks ago I put together an inexpensive box fan filter using a MERV 12 furnace filter and it made a *very big* difference in air quality inside the house., and it was a heck of a lot cheaper than purchasing a HEPPA filter system that would have been capable of handling one room only.

    I was little surprised at how quickly the color of the filter changed from pure white to gray to light brown… less than 3 days. I wish I had known about this 2 months ago.

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