Links 11/22/2020

Deep Frozen Arctic Microbes Are Waking Up Scientific American

D.C. Researchers Spent The Last Two Years Taking Photos For The Cat Census DCist. Now they’re counting them.

The Uniqueness of Mammals Area

In California, 1 million people lack access to clean water High Country News

Port of Los Angeles Reports Busiest Month Ever on Loaded Imports, Empty Exports gCaptain

ADM, InnovaFeed to build world’s biggest insect protein plant in Illinois Reuters

Panic buying of toilet paper hits U.S. stores again with new pandemic restrictions Reuters (Re Silc). Go long bidets. They’re better anyhow.


2 Companies Say Their Vaccines Are 95% Effective. What Does That Mean? NYT and Clinical Outcomes Of A COVID-19 Vaccine: Implementation Over Efficacy Health Affairs. Efficacy: trial results. Effectiveness: real world results.

A very a propos UCSF Grand Rounds:

For those with no time or inclination to listen, here’s a thread:

Big Pharma Is Always Good That’s Just Science Eschaton

* * *

Trends in County-Level COVID-19 Incidence in Counties With and Without a Mask Mandate — Kansas, June 1–August 23, 2020 Morbidity and Mortality Report. A natural experiment, from the Discussion: “After implementation of mask mandates in 24 Kansas counties, the increasing trend in COVID-19 incidence reversed. Although rates were considerably higher in mandated counties than in nonmandated counties by the executive order, rates in mandated counties declined markedly after July 3, compared with those in nonmandated counties. Kansas counties that had mask mandates in place appear to have mitigated the transmission of COVID-19, whereas counties that did not have mask mandates continued to experience increases in cases. The findings in this report are consistent with declines in COVID-19 cases observed in 15 states and the District of Columbia, which mandated masks, compared with states that did not have mask mandates (7).”

Hospital-Acquired SARS-CoV-2 Infection JAMA. From the body: “Together, these findings suggest that overall hospital transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in the setting of universal masking is likely rare, even during periods of high community prevalence. This has at least 2 important implications. First, it is imperative for the public to understand that hospitals with well-implemented universal masking policies are overwhelmingly safe, and public health messaging should emphasize that avoidance or delay of needed and urgent health care is not necessary. Second, despite the politicization of masking, this is an important and compelling proof of concept for the broader use of universal masking in crowded indoor settings, even with good ventilation.”

Face mask trial didn’t stop coronavirus spread, but it shows why more mask-wearing is needed LA Times. Study design matters (here it is; note the Limitation section).

If masks fog your glasses (1):

Or a band-aid. If masks fog your glasses (2):

* * *

Post-lockdown SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid screening in nearly ten million residents of Wuhan, China Nature. From the Abstract: “Stringent COVID-19 control measures were imposed in Wuhan between January 23 and April 8, 2020…. Here, we describe a city-wide SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid screening programme between May 14 and June 1, 2020 in Wuhan…. The prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in Wuhan was therefore very low five to eight weeks after the end of lockdown.” From the Discussion: “The citywide nucleic acid screening of SARS-CoV-2 infection in Wuhan recruited nearly 10 million people, and found no newly confirmed cases with COVID-19. The detection rate of asymptomatic positive cases was very low, and there was no evidence of transmission from asymptomatic positive persons to traced close contacts. There were no asymptomatic positive cases in 96.4% of the residential communities.”

* * *

SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV, and MERS-CoV viral load dynamics, duration of viral shedding, and infectiousness: a systematic review and meta-analysis The Lancet (this was a preprint in Links on July 31). From the Interpretation: “Although SARS-CoV-2 RNA shedding in respiratory and stool samples can be prolonged, duration of viable virus is relatively short-lived. SARS-CoV-2 titres in the upper respiratory tract peak in the first week of illness. Early case finding and isolation, and public education on the spectrum of illness and period of infectiousness are key to the effective containment of SARS-CoV-2.” Summary with handy chart:

Hydroxychloroquine Inhibits the Trained Innate Immune Response to Interferons Cell Reports. From the Discussion: “We discovered a previously unknown immunomodulatory mechanism of hydroxychloroquine, namely that it prevents trained immunity through epigenetic modulation….The fact that chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine avert trained immunity suggests that these drugs may not be beneficial for clearing viral infections like SARS-CoV-2 and argues against their use as a prophylactic for COVID-19.”

Data Heroes of Covid Tracking Project Are Still Filling U.S. Government Void Bloomberg

I Traced My Covid-19 Bubble and It’s Enormous Farhad Manjoo, NYT

Fauci says Santa Claus has ‘innate immunity’, won’t be spreading COVID-19 to anyone this Christmas USA Today

Loneliness and me FT

1,000 U.S. Hospitals Are ‘Critically’ Short On Staff — And More Expect To Be Soon NPR

The Scientist Who Saved Japan Once Battles a New Virus Surge Bloomberg


Apple is lobbying against a bill aimed at stopping forced labor in China MSN (Re Silc).

Xi says China ready to boost global COVID-19 vaccine cooperation Reuters

Tigray’s War Against Ethiopia Isn’t About Autonomy. It’s About Economic Power. Foreign Policy


Azerbaijani leader hails handover of region ceded by Armenia AP

Turkey Not Happy With Karabakh Peace Deal – Part IV Awful Avalanche

Is Russia’s naval base in Sudan a signal to Turkey … and Biden? Al Monitor

Declassify America’s Dirty Secrets In Syria To Stop A Biden War The American Conservative

Protesters march against economic, social policies in Colombian cities Reuters


Why there will be a Brexit deal FT. “The only snag — emotions — can be overcome.” A snag

Brexit: UK and Canada agree deal to keep trading under EU terms BBC

New Cold War

Information Threats and Arms Control: Is Russian-US Dialogue Possible? Valdai Discussion Club

Trump Transition

CIA Awards Secret Multibillion-Dollar Cloud Contract NextGov


A vindictive Trump seeks to undermine Biden’s presidency WaPo

Tucker Carlson’s viewers call him a ‘traitor’ for slamming Trump’s election fraud lawyer Sidney Powell after he demanded she produce a ‘single piece of evidence’ that 8M votes were stolen from the president Daily Mail. Powell:

There are plenty of problems with how Georgia acquired its voting machines and how it runs its elections, but that (Republican) Governor Kemp, (Republican) Secretary of State Raffensperger, the CIA, and Hugo Chavez (!) somehow rigged the machines to steal the election from Trump strikes me as implausible in the extreme.

Americans Deserve the Truth, Even If It’s Unpleasant National Review. On Sidney Powell’s tripe. Electronic voting now firmly in the saddle. I hate this timeline.

Last challenge to Maricopa County election results tossed by judge Arizona Republic

Michigan, national GOP seek to delay certification of election results Detroit News

Trump campaign files for new recount in Georgia The Hill

Federal judge dismisses Trump election lawsuit in Pennsylvania NBC. But there’s a new one–

Republican Pa. congressman seeks court order throwing out all mail ballots in long-shot suit The Inquirer (the filing).

Crying Wolf on Election Fraud Is OK at NYT—if Targets Are Official Enemies FAIR

The Parties Decide The Baffler

Biden Transition

MSM Already Helping Next Administration Hide Corruption Under ‘Diversity’ Banner Caitlin Johnstone

The Oldest President Ever Will Confront a Generational Wealth Gap Bloomberg. Handy chart:

The generational averages, of course, conceal income disparity within generations. Nevertheless.

Imperial Collapse Watch

I Lived Through Collapse. America Is Already There Medium (Henry Moon Pie). (parts two and three).

“I Screamed Into My Radio to Ignore the Order”—Pardoned Soldier’s Comrade Still Lives With Guilt of Murdered Civilians The War Horse (linked to by the Senior Advisor for Veterans Affairs for @ProjectLincoln, venue given an award by The Atlantic Council in 2016).

Class Warfare

Uber driver says company isn’t offering him aid after passenger repeatedly kicks his face, breaks his nose Arizona Republic

A Cal Football Player Opted Out Because of the Virus. Then Came the Tuition Bill NYT (Re Silc).

We’re headed to court on Thanksgiving Eve to fight our eviction Yasha Levine

Sex and the cities FT

Balancing Epistemic Humility and Prior Knowledge Zeynep Tufecki, Insight

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote:

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. skippy

    All I know is the Trump clan is being prepped for an epic cold shoulder post transition E.g. NYC etc privileges are gone [pulp ref] …. Florida, Texas, et al move seems highly probable.

    Next question is what are all his wandering minstrels and groupies going to do afterwards.

    1. The Historian

      First of all, I would suggest NOT writing Trump supporters off or labeling them. They have an amazing energy in their movement, even if it is misdirected, at this time. Why not find out why they were taken in by a demagogue and what they really want? I’m betting it is not that much different than what progressives want – and that is an end to neoliberalism. Both parties have tried to distract from that and make it about idpol, but that is a cover to protect the interests of the PTB. Power never gives up easily and it will do anything to maintain its authority.

      Second, I’m reminded of what happened during the Reformation. The Reformers just didn’t die off when the Church – the authority – cracked down on them – they had enough resilience to go on, even though it meant over a 100 years of continued warfare. Is that what you would rather see happen here, because this battle seems to be shaping up in the same way.

      1. Wukchumni

        I dunno know about that, Trump is kind of a Keith Richards type that will somehow outlive us all, except switch out hard drugs for fast food.

        1. neo-realist

          His fast food diet, weight, and age, not to mention his lack of a work ethic, I suspect, put him at risk of having a major health crisis that may prevent him from running in 2024.

      2. skippy

        Him and His won’t be getting any invites to anything and that is tantamount to social and economic banishment in blue blood land … left to wither on the vine as it were … ultimate insult.

        Per the tribe in tow … such mobs are primed for the next special person to claim defender of the light [tm] and is a bit of a pot luck* affair with what rolls around in their head – 10s of millions of people waiting to be filled*.

        Hard to pick which is more dangerous … covid or them … with an option of being a mix of the two.

        1. Yves Smith


          Trump never never never cared about approval from the elites. He decorates with gold, dates and marries swimsuit models, never patronized the right charities, etc. New York Magazine was attacking him starting in the 1980s.

          1. skippy

            Yes I know Trump does not and has never personally cared, on the other hand, he has attempted to use office to set his kids up and it is them that will be the targets of disdain.

            Trump on the other hand has stripped out and rolled back more worker, environmental, finreg, et al rights than most and took Bush Jr’s politicization of churches and their flocks to a whole new level. These are the same ones that rolled over for the hyper security post 9/11, hippie punching Occupy for Wall St, hyper authoritarian when in power and widely insecure when not – left will throw them in the pits.

            Point being their all over the shop and anyone that thinks they can manage them to some outcome and then disband the lot have another thing coming – they eat their own at the slightest sign of failure.

    2. Phillip Cross

      I think some people may be underestimating the dangerous waters we are in. Politics as a fundamentalist religion, with devout followers who act on faith in their infallible leader. Among their dogma: The Party and the country are synonymous. They believe they are the real Americans, fighting against literal evil that opposes them.

      Trump, or no Trump, we now have at least several tens of millions of heavily armed Americans, who have become radicalized. Like any right-wing voting bloc, they will be pandered to and encouraged, if it helps gets GOP politicians elected. Pandora’s box has been flung open.

      1. Noone from Nowheresville

        We also have several tens of millions of heavily TINA & cancel culture Americans, who have become radicalized. Their Party and their country may also be synonymous. They also believe they are the real Americans although they express that sentiment in more fractured ways. They also believe they are fighting evil and are just as guilty of not applying their “evil” labels to their own team using any concrete criteria which could and should judge both sides of the divide. Loyalty is the ultimate privilege and its own reward.

        Like any neoliberal-wing voting bloc, they have been pandered to and encouraged. Cancel culture will strip dissent from communities. Or start outright physical confrontations.

        Austerity will rule regardless of whether one wants to label it right-wing or left-wing or whatever.

        An individual with guns & ammo can kill a lot of people. An individual cog in The Machine’s bureaucracy can kill, damage or simply destroy a lot more people, regardless of which side of the idealogical divide they exist for.

        We exclaim how horrible the gun person is. We sweep under the rug the cog unless it’s to make an example of. The big wheels continue on and the morals and ethics of the elite continue to filter ever downward. Those waters of the elite may appear calm but I agree they are dangerous indeed.

        ETA: It’s kind of funny or simply morbid. We super-size the fear of the gunman (which is admittedly horrible to contemplate) but we minimize the damage of The Machine which millions of us may experience at the drop of a hat even if we play by all the “so-called rules.”

      2. tegnost

        “Politics as a fundamentalist religion, with devout followers who act on faith in their infallible leader. Among their dogma: The Party and the country are synonymous. They believe they are the real Americans, fighting against literal evil that opposes them.”

        I love the way you make it seem like those are are only the trump supporters. It’s the same with the failed state series, it’s all trumps fault…but we were a failed state before trump and the same accusation you’re throwing at trumpists was true of blue no matter who before trump. Trump is what came out of Pandora’s Box

        and no, here I agree with the failed state series. No one is going to fix it, starting with you.

        1. flora

          tsk. Everyone knows B.Clinton deregulating Wall St banks and derivatives trading, knows W continuing to look the other way as mortgage and other frauds built up, and knows the O admin bailing out Wall St and crooked banks (gotta foam the runway) while letting Main St. sink, knows these things had nothing whatever to do with the election of T. T’s election was sui generis. Nothing to do with what both D and R parties did for 20 years before his election. /s

          1. Phillip Cross

            You’re giving them too much credit if you think most of those who believe demoncrats are satanic child murderers, and Obama is a Muslim communist, are thinking along those lines. This isn’t about fiscal policies for them at this point. They think they are in an existential struggle against evil and b.t.w. you are on the side of the bad guys. It’s game over, as far as reaching them is concerned.

            1. fwe'theewell

              They think they are in an existential struggle against evil and b.t.w. you are on the side of the bad guys. It’s game over, as far as reaching them is concerned.
              Exact same can be said of the Biden Left Deranged (BuiLD Back Delusional). They truly believe in the blatant snake-handling and speaking-in-tongues of the center-right coalition aka Lincoln project.

            2. flora

              OK, now yer makin’ me laugh – wackdoodles are given outsized importance relative to their numbers by MSM looking to sell papers and ad space, imo. Now that T is almost out, what can the MSM “aghast!” us with next? /heh

                1. Phillip Cross

                  It is a funny coincidence, earlier today I was thinking of a making “how it started/how it’s going” meme. Do you know the format?

                  Anyway, the one I was going to post had the “how it started” side as someone holding a “god hates f@gs” sign, and the “how it’s going” side was with someone holding a “stop the steal” sign… But then I took a nap instead.

                  Could this idea I had have been due to a “disturbance in the force” after you left the comment above?

              1. rowlf

                While I voted for Trump to flip the bird (again) to the scolds and snobs, I will admit suffering from MSM aghast fatigue. Now I worry that the supply of devout followers can’t keep up with MSM demand. I expect in January, when asked, everyone will just nod their heads and say they voted for Biden.

                I forget the name of the Muslim group in the Middle East that is considered a bit off but always tells everyone that they are Sunnis so no one harasses them.

                1. ObjectiveFunction

                  Sufis is the sect you’re thinking of, I think.

                  I agree with the rest of your comment. Slightly less than half the electorate has now voted for Trump, twice. Not as an admistrator, strategist or role model, but simply to confound the ruling classes.

                  By proving unable to win over more non-PMC votes than he lost, net — albeit swimming against a flood of Establishment dirty tricks — he has failed in that mission.

                  Nobody wants him as an elder statesman or preacher, as he never had any statesmanship, wisdom or coherent values to preach, beyond the endless Trump Makes Magical Deals! snake oil. The juju didn’t work.

                  His future media vehicles will likely command an audience and bring crowds to his rallies to keep owning the libs but really for entertainment, the Deplorables’ reverse of virtue signaling. The belief in Trump as a serious change agent though vanishes once he leaves office.

                  Also, without a real political career behind him in NYC or elsewhere, Trump hasn’t had time to establish a patronage machine or safe seats to put Ivanka and Don Jr into. Like Harris, those kids have no base to ‘lead’, only a clientele to serve. Ivanka, who actually seems a capable lady, might perhaps have run for Congress down in FL, but that’s the bottom rung of the ladder and a historical footnote. Probably not worth her time.

            3. anon in so cal

              That’s a sweeping generalization / caricature of 70 Million Trump voters.

              One part of your statement is valid, however, namely that there’s an “existential struggle against evil,” because that captures opposition to Biden.

        2. Phillip Cross

          “I love the way you make it seem like those are are only the trump supporters.”

          I was careful not to imply it was universal. What polling exists shows there are loads of ’em!

          yougov polling: “fully half (50%) of Trump supporters said they think Democrats are involved in elite child sex-trafficking rings, while another third (33%) aren’t sure. “

          That includes at least 8/10 adults at our Thanksgiving table! Perhaps you haven’t come across them. Count yourself lucky!

          1. JBird4049

            No, but I get echoes from the other side as my family is Democratic. The Wurlitzer Machine has mindfraked many people into two separate artificial pseudo religious cults. One cult is seemingly armed with just about everything except the Bomb and the other side’s more hardcore wing is trying to do the same. Tens of millions of Americans facing each, getting increasingly hungry, cold, and fearful with many in the gendarmerie eager to use real bullets.

      3. OpenthepodbaydoorsHAL

        Yes, the gap between “count every vote!” on one side and “count every legal vote!’ on the other is yawning. Not clear why Biden would not want the latter, especially to cement the glorious victory the polls and media told us he won. No door to door canvassing, three campaign rallies where they had to pay 8 people to show up, Joe bunkered in the basement, as Lambert asked “genius or idiocy?. Maybe there was a third much more obvious reason. Biden can show there was not, and get that “unity” stuff he says he wants, by doing everything he can for transparency. Then there’s that Constitution thingy, seems to me that doing what it says is the main way to put the matter to bed for both sides.

        1. Phillip Cross

          “Biden can show there was not”

          I assume you are talking about “vote fraud” here. If so, that’s not how it works. The burden of proof is entirely on the accuser. You might want to take a quick primer on our legal system as defined by that Constitution thingy, before ‘digging in” on any more strong opinions.

          1. JTMcPhee

            Amazing how many people still reference the Constitution as if it was a talisman that had any remaining effect and meaning. Even liberals recognize the realities:

            You think that as an individual in the Empire, you have any “rights” under that Constitution and its Amendments and subsequent judicial gloss? Maybe the 2nd Amendment still applies in some places, even under the vast breadth of interpretation that gun people give it, but there’s not much else under our state security apparatus and wealth stripping machinery that limits the worst of us in preying on the rest of us.

            As Asante how the “burden of proof” works in reality, or all the people whose property was simply stolen by cops and prosecutors in the various
            “actions in rem” confiscations, Or how about homeowners, including people who post here, who had their houses stolen by Banksters in the GFC? And how many people have been killed by cops for walking while suspicious?

            Wasn’t it John “Tell me what you want the opinion to say” Yoo, who justified torture and “preemptive war” and all, who said the Constitution is just a quaint document?

            Don’t be looking there for succor or support.

            1. Phillip Cross

              It is certainly a weird concept. What other contract binds people that are not signatories?

              What is this magic that makes us obliged to follow it’s terms centuries later?

          2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            So true! But why would Joe and the MSM continue to say things like “there is no evidence!” and “he’s trying to steal it!” when simple cooperation would completely defuse the issue once and for all? When Zuckerberg gave tens of millions of dollars to Dem counties for things like vote drop boxes we were told there would be logs of who accessed those boxes. Do those logs exist? Are they being made available? What is the downside of transparency by Team D, when the upside is they get the “unity” they say they want? And I don’t recall the section in the Constitution thingy that says a governor or a Secretary of State can change election procedures in a Federal election, maybe you can point me to that?

            1. bob

              He’s digging in, only a little bit longer before the bottom drops out because of the excavation….We’re so close!

              1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                As I said yesterday it is almost “put up or shut up” time in the only court that matters, the court of law. Let’s find out whether truckloads of ballots arrived at 4 AM to be counted in secret, or whether 200% of residents in Dem districts cast votes. Let’s learn the answers to those questions not from media talking heads, but with transparency in a court of law. The choice is between a festering open sore and a world where everyone in a red cap goes home to lament their fallen leader and think about 2022. If you spend any time with them you will learn that they want every legal vote counted wherever the chips may fall, not a big ask if you ask me.

                1. marym

                  Is the 200% issue a reference to Trump team allegations about WI and MI on Thursday?

                  Wisconsin: Registered voter counts were from a database that hadn’t been updated. Alleged over-vote numbers were corrected on website where it was reported.

                  Michigan: Vote counts were from Michigan; registered voter numbers were from jurisdictions with the same name in Minnesota

                  1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                    Great! Let’s tick off the fact versus fiction arguments one by one. That’s what a court of law is for. We dropped everything as a nation for four years while claims of 2016 election Russian collusion were investigated. Those claims were found to be completely baseless. Surely we can endure four weeks to look into and debunk these claims? Shoe, foot, other one, on.

                    1. marym

                      When these allegations are propagated outside a court of law, it seems appropriate to debunk them there as well.

                    2. Mel

                      We can gossip about these legal maneuvers, but it’s only in court that it matters. I almost remember a book, The U.S. vs Richard Nixon, by Frank Mankeiwicz, about the development of the Watergate affair, and a short passage in the foreword. He said that Nixon’s White House staff felt they had a political problem, and that they’d corralled it with the political and public relations measures they took. Then a very telling (I wish it were memorable) description of the work of the courts. The courts had their own processes, their own mechanisms, their own timetable; motions were filed, hearings were held, decisions were made;the process completed, and Nixon had to resign to escape a certain impeachment.
                      If it happens that way this time, the “other team” might win. It isn’t decided yet.
                      Wish I still had the Mankiewicz book. That was a fine passage.

        2. anon in so cal


          An attorney, Robert Barnes, noted that,

          “When @BarackObama wanted office, how did he do it? Showing the signatures of his opponent didn’t match the signatures on file.”

          Not sure if the signatures were on ballots or on a petition?

          Barnes criticizes the approach taken by Sidney Powell and argues that the focus should have been on the ballots. He also noted this about the Democrats’ attorney, Marc Elias (sorry for re-posting this, also):

          “Now is a good time to remind everyone that @marceelias laundered $ for the Clinton campaign to give to FusionGPS to spread disinformation through the Steele dossier.”

      4. ambrit

        All we need now is for America to get it’s a– handed to it in a war. Hmmm… I do hear the faint cadence of the war drums being beaten even now. How’s about the Straits of Hormuz becoming the New Ironbottom Sound?

        1. The Rev Kev

          You might have a point. The Straits of Hormuz could very well become The Slot 2.0 and it is the right shape.

  2. Fireship

    Re: Tucker Carlson’s viewers demand that he play their game of make-believe.

    There are no elites pulling the wool over these people’s eyes. They are actively anti-rational, anti-intellectual. 20 years ago, Morris Berman wrote Twilight of American Culture. He drew parallels to Rome and predicted that America was on an irrevocable slide into the garbage can of history. From his Guardian piece, Waiting for the barbarians:

    “For centuries, the aim had been to hellenise or romanise the rest of the population – to pass on the learning and ideals of Greco-Roman civilisation. But as the economic crisis deepened, a new mentality arose among the masses, one based on religion, which was hostile to the achievements of higher culture.

    In addition, as in contemporary America, the new “intellectual” efforts were designed to cater to the masses, until intellectual life was brought down to the lowest common denominator. This, according to the great historian of Rome, MI Rostovtzeff, was the most conspicuous feature in the development of the ancient world during the imperial age: primitive forms of life finally drowning out the higher ones.

    For civilisation is impossible without a hierarchy of quality, and as soon as that gets flattened into a mass phenomenon, its days are numbered. “The main phenomenon which underlies the process of decline,” wrote Rostovtzeff, “is the gradual absorption of the educated classes by the masses and the consequent simplification of all the functions of political, social, economic, and intellectual life, which we call the barbarisation of the ancient world.”

    There will be no new deal, green or otherwise. There will be no build back America better. The Unions are gone. There is no industrial working class. Instead, there is bowling alone, Fentanyl and the gig economy. Forget about looking for a rabbit to pull out of the hat. America is done. The barbarians have won.

    1. Noone from Nowheresville

      “The main phenomenon which underlies the process of decline,” wrote Rostovtzeff, “is the gradual absorption of the educated classes by the masses and the consequent simplification of all the functions of political, social, economic, and intellectual life, which we call the barbarisation of the ancient world.”

      I haven’t read the total argument but my immediate thought is, couldn’t this be backwards? Perhaps it’s really the gradual absorption of the masses by the educated classes.

      Which group are the “true” barbarians? Which group has better “ethics,” “morals?” Which group has spent the last 40-50 years pushing out their morality to the other groups and homogenizing it?

      If I look at the world and am to judge the complexity of the political, social, economic and intellectual life used to justify the current there is no alternative hustle or die world, what criteria should I use?

      Which group should shoulder the primary responsibility for the decline?

    2. Eustache de Saint Pierre

      A funny thing kind of related to the above, that the quality of Roman portrait busts diminished with the odd flourish in tandem with the Empire – which I suppose was also the case in the other Arts.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I don’t know if anyone has done a study on it – I’ve always been struck by how the general assumption that a high point in the arts represents a high point in the economic strength of a society doesn’t always match up with reality. As you say, the quality of art in Rome certainly declined even as it reached its zenith in power. One historian I read suggested it was down to changes in society whereby it was no longer considered to be a social benefit to sponsor public art – in the early years of Rome you showed you had ‘made it’, by building a public fountain or temple to a local God or commission a statue of some historical figure. As time went on, this became seen as the job of the State, not rich individuals.

        In Ireland (at to a different extent in Britain) I’ve always been struck at how every wealthy landowner in 18th Century Ireland felt inclined to build houses of the very highest architectural quality – nearly all the homes of the wealthy – urban or rural – were beautifully and tastefully (at least to my eyes) designed. But as the Industrial Revolution took place all this gave way to gaudy mock castles and fake gothic and mountains of gold leaf. Arguably, all the arts followed suit. Was it just that the nouveaux riche really were vulgar, or was it that you no longer had to signal your virtue by showing good taste?

        1. Anonymous

          Was it just that the nouveaux riche really were vulgar, PlutoniumKun

          That would be my bet because there’s a difference between showing bad taste (vulgar) and simply living a modest life.

          As to why they should be vulgar, our finance system and unlimited land ownership, both contrary to the Bible, reward ruthless behavior and ruthless behavior has a cost to one’s soul, e.g:

          A kindhearted woman gains honor,
          but ruthless men gain only wealth.
          Proverbs 11:16

        2. Alex Cox

          Regarding the idea that “a high point in the arts represents a high point in the economic strength of a society” that was certainly true of the American cinema (indeed world cinema) in the 1970s. The quality of film art produced then (and the quantity of good film art) seemed to match the last economic good times (as in, being able to quit your job and find another one).

          1. Josef E-flat minor

            Appreciation for good art—I’ll focus on music–has absolutely diminished over the decades.

            I read an article back when about how Murdoch and his ilk impacted working-class England; the writer talked about how his laboring father and friends listened to classical and jazz in the ’60s and ’70s, (the same was true of my working-class parents, only one of whom had a college education). Gradually, the propaganda that this was elitist dumbed those tastes down.

            A mainland China experience that sticks with me: I was in a department store on the Wangfujing, Beijing’s High Street, back in the day. In one room there were some black light paintings, the epitome of kitsch, and throngs of people were staring at them like they were the Mona Lisa. No objective correlative by which to judge–in their case due to isolation from the outside world.

            What’s our excuse for our often execrable taste in music, art, and leaders? This is why I commented here in early 2017 that we got the President we deserved; I recall the response to that on that day being….crickets. Four years later, I think it’s clear he’s not really an aberration, just a rather (but not the most) extreme case.

            We are reaping what we’ve sowed for the last few decades, and it’s not going to be over until the fat lady twerks.

            1. Montanamaven

              If you watch Season 4 of “The Crowne”, you might be struck with what bad taste Buckingham Palace and even Windsor are decorated. Not to mention their clothes. Youza! And the Royals are a bunch of twits to boot. Quite vacuous and kind of dumb. I guess beauty, indeed, is in the eye of the beholder. And nobody can deny that the Blues are sublime.

        3. Ook

          Indeed, a visit to Osborne House, the summer retreat of Victoria on the Isle of Wight, would soon disabuse anyone of the notion that artistic quality and economic or political strength work in tandem.

      2. Yves Smith

        The decline of the busts was due to technology, using drills as opposed to old tech, which was chisels. Led to coarser details, particularly hair. They called it “devolution” in my intro Art History course (which was actually tough, they want to flush out people who though they could treat an art major as a gut).

    3. The Historian

      I think that you have to read a lot of authors and understand their biases before you can come to any conclusions why Rome fell – and then you will understand that it was not the ‘barbarians’ who destroyed Rome – they did it to themselves.

      Compare Rome before Marius and Sulla to Rome after Marius and Sulla – you will note many differences. Here are a couple of those differences:

      Before Marius and Sulla, the military was mostly a citizen army. After Marius and Sulla, it became a professional army and loyalty of its soldiers was not to Rome any more, but to its generals. War became a way of getting power – Rome no longer looked to its civilians for authority. And no doubt that was partly because of how the Senators were ruling for their own interests instead of the interest of the civilians. Inequality was rising in Rome which is why Marius and Sulla were able to fragment the population in the ways that they did.

      As the militaries became more dominant, the administration of Rome travelled with the generals – it was not centered in Rome any more and Rome became less and less important to the generals. In addition, Rome was never able to feed itself – it depended on grain from North Africa. But because the armies needed feeding and were too large to live off the land as they moved, that trade was diverted from Rome.

      Before Marius and Sulla, Rome was accepting of immigration and immigrants could become full or partial citizens of Rome. After Marius and Sulla, that stopped and Rome became more and more xenophobic towards ‘outsiders’. What they called barbarians were no more ‘uncivilized’ than they were – it is just that their cultures were different. The various Goths and other tribes were feeling pressure from others moving into their territories and had asked Rome for unoccupied land to live on – the immigrants didn’t want to destroy Rome, they wanted to become Romans, but Rome refused them.

      And then you had the Christians who also were polarizing. The pagans were willing to accept Christianity, but the Christians were not willing to live with paganism. The influx of Christian ideology forced people to choose – and then the battles between the two religions began.

      And other historians point out other things, like perhaps the Roman Empire was too big to govern adequately by one administration. And some consider the plagues and how that affected the Empire.

      I don’t think you can blame ‘barbarians’ for Rome’s failure – rather it was a slow motion death caused by the choices made by Roman people themselves.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I think the ‘fall of Rome’ is one of those historical events that is almost always interpreted in line with individuals own priors. What strikes me so much about Rome is that the seeds of its final end were there for centuries – at least from the time of Julius Caesar and his failure to put in place a proper set of rules for succession – but it still kept going for centuries, and maybe would have continued for centuries more had they had a little more military luck in those last few decades. Its not the only example – the Ottoman Empire rotted for a few centuries before it was finally put out of its misery. It reminds us that the fall (and survival) of Empires owes as much to random events and individual acts of judgement as it does to any underlying processes.

      2. Rodeo Clownfish

        I agree with much of your post but would quibble about the claim of Rome being accepting of outsiders before Marius and Sulla. In fact, much of the conflict between the two generals occurred within the context of the Social War, which was all about Rome denying citizenship to other Italian allies/subjects.

      3. Mark Gisleson

        On behalf of my ancestors, thank you for this excellent comment. Visigoths and Vandals didn’t wreck Rome, they just looted the already burning Walmarts and Targets.

      4. fresno dan

        The Historian
        November 22, 2020 at 8:42 am

        The Roman empire lasted, more or less, about a thousand years. Can anyone imagine this country existing a hundred years from now? I look at Rome and the US and I see Future Shock – the corrosion of either the elites, or plebes, or elites/plebes, whichever group one wants to assign blame to, taking place in the US in a fraction of the time that it took in Rome.
        You can go to any number of sights in Europe and see structures built 20 or more centuries ago – some of them still in use! An administrative state, held together and competently run for centuries, with public projects built for the good of the entire society (e.g., water projects).
        Does anyone think our great administrative programs, such as social security will exist as a real benefit, and not as a flag lapel virtue designator pin in 100 years? Look at how coins were debased, and look now at the “cost of living” is applied to minimum wage and social security. We have fallen and we can’t get up…

          1. JTMcPhee

            Buy gold! Dig up Bunker Hunt and give him another chance to corner the silver market!

            On the other hand, minting some trillion dollar platinum coins to obliterate the right-hand entries on the double entry bookkeeping ledger (I think that’s right, where the “liabilities” are recorded) sounds like a kickin’ idea.

            1. Wukchumni

              Nelson Bunker Hunt managed to get the biblical Ag-Au ratio back to 16-1 in 1980, if only briefly.

              It’s now around 80-1

              1. Wukchumni


                The Hunt silver bubble was the first financial bubble I ever saw and was something to behold. They got beat when the rules were changed to thwart them.

                Nelson Bunker was subpoenaed to explain to Congress what he and his brother were doing a few years later, and some blowhard Congressman asked him if he realized that they lost billions through their machinations, and Bunker responded:

                A billion dollars isnt what it used to be.

                40 years ago to converse using that hallowed word was anything but commonplace, now I can confidently talk in the trillions, and can quadrillions be far off?

        1. Morgan

          How about the feckless mayor of San Francisco, the island city that has failed, the city that once knew how, earning more than Trump or Biden?

          “According to 3 U.S. Code § 102, the president of the United States makes $400,000 per year. The president also receives a $50,000 expense allowance,”

          “Mayor London Breed earns 452,000 per year…plus” expenses.

      5. TomDority

        Maybe it was all a case of the creditors just plain not forgiving the debts and all the citizens were bond servants dispossed of their lands – they all took flight and decided they ain’t nobodies fool no more.
        Leaving the empire to rot and die a deserved death.
        See Micheal Hudson books – one on Forgive them their debts

      6. Michael Fiorillo

        One of the under-acknowledged dangerous consequences of Russiagate is the fact that a duly-elected President was undermined by elements in the National Security bureaucracy, which will likely lead to our next Hitler/Mussolini/Putin Mistress establishing his own Praetorian Guard, loyal to him alone.

        Mention this to someone steeped in #McResistance folklore/disinformation, and guess what you’ll be called…

        1. Alex Cox

          Your comment is very apt, given that today is November 22nd, the anniversary of a very notable failure by the President’s non-Praetorian guard.

          1. Morgan

            Sometime in January, the CIA and FBI will ask president elect Biden to step into a sceening room to watch the Zapruder Film of JFK’s brains being blown out.

            “Any questions, Mr. President?”

            1. polecat

              Doesn’t matter. Whatever brains he had, he dropped in Ukraine. Ab$olutely, Po$itively Normal. Hence the need to bring Frau CookieBlaucher into the fold to clean up, or smear, any lingering, hard to launder ‘color spots’.

      7. Dr. Robert

        You’re totally off-base attributing the fall of Rome to Marius and Sulla, when the Empire survived, thrived, reached it’s greatest extent and level of development centuries after their influence and survived for another five hundred years. You’re also flat out wrong about the inclusion of immigrants and non-Romans, which only improved after the Republican period. The mosaics portraying Theodoric the Goth dressed in Roman clothing in his baptistry in Ravenna looked a lot more like a case of cultural assimilation than barbarian invasion. That was in the fifth century.

        The destruction of Italy during the Gothic Wars, which were more a Roman Civil War than a war against invading barbarians, the 536 event, and the plague of Justinian terminally weakened the divided Empire, and the Arab conquests of the 7th century finished it off by closing the Mediterranean.

        The fall of the Republic can be laid at the feat of Sulla and Caesar, but the Republic was constituted to protect the status of an elite class in a political system designed for a city-state, not the continent-spanning empire Rome had become. In the US we have a similar problem, but at this rate we’ll lose our empire before we lose the republic.

        1. The Historian

          Perhaps you are confused about what I am commenting on? We are talking about the fall of Rome, NOT the fall of the Roman Empire as it existed in Constantinople – that empire existed until at least the 1400’s. Theodoric came to power after the fall of Rome – remember, he was named the head of the Eastern armies.

          And yes, Rome began to fall during the periods of Marius and Sulla and is considered to have completely fallen by most historians by 476 AD.

          1. The Rev Kev

            In Mike Duncan’s History of Rome podcast series, he talks about how the city of Rome itself eventually became a backwater in its own empire as the real seat of power moved east to Constantinople. At the time, the city of Rome must have become a bad parody of itself.

            1. Wukchumni

              The Byzantine Empire was the only issuer of gold coins for use in commerce in Europe for many hundreds of years after the fall in the west, not only did the former Roman Empire move to Constantinople, they reestablished honest money while they were at it.

              Nelson Bunker Hunt, who was mostly known for his attempt to corner the silver market in the late 70’s, tried the same thing in regards to Byz gold coins.

      8. Ron Grissman

        Interesting comments. What I agree with entirely is: “I don’t think you can blame ‘barbarians’ for Rome’s failure – rather it was a slow motion death caused by the choices made by Roman people themselves.” And a very wise man – Jared Diamond says in his books that is the number one reason countries fail. And if we do not deal with the poverty and misery in rural America we are finished. We don’t have much time. Climate chaos contrary to the best guesses of economists (and that is what they are) is going to consume all are resources: money/energy. Covid is just the start. It seems to both problems find the solution in each other.

        1. The Historian

          I’ve just gotten Diamond’s trilogy and have just started reading the first book. He’s been well recommended so I am eager to know what he has to say.

          1. Wukchumni

            Guns, Germs & Steel was one of the most profound books i’ve ever read, Jared Diamond lays out how we came to be in a fashion that opens doors previously shut.

    4. Henry Moon Pie

      Thanks for that link. It reminded me how much I agree with Berman on his prognosis that the country is halfway down the crapper, but how much I disagree with his diagnosis of America’s ills. Both he and Dreher seem to look back on some ideal time, probably somewhere in the 50s, and for Berman that’s when “America stood for the enlightenment tradition.” That must have been when Charlie Van Doren was opining on cultural issues on the “Today” show in between segments featuring J. Fred.

      Berman and Dreher would otherwise make great debate opponents like Buckley and Vidal because like that 50s version, they essentially believe in the same foundation but disagree vehemently over how the structure is to be trimmed. Berman wants the Parthenon and Dreher, Notre Dame.

      Isn’t our treasured elite leadership, well-schooled in all features of the Enlightenment, who really led us to militarism, materialism and malaise? It wasn’t Billy Graham who sent Americans to kill Vietnamese, though he had no problem enthusiastically supporting it, but it was the best and the brightest with slide rules and maybe even copies of The Affluent Society.

      Here’s another way of looking at things that we might give a try before Elon Musk sends up a rocket full of special sauce that gives us the equivalent of nuclear winter:

      Whoever rules by intellect
      is a curse upon the land.
      Whoever rules by ignorance
      is a blessing on it.

      Tao te Ching #65 (U.K. Le Guin, trans.)

      Before dismissing that out of hand, as Trumpism before Trump, consider that Berman’s precious Enlightenment has been the driving force behind the destruction of the Earth that has taken place over that past couple of centuries. Berman’s dastardly church, to the extent that it dominated in the Middle Ages, was content to let people stay close to the land and their traditions. That made it an “enemy of progress” for Berman, I suppose, and progress is a great thing at all times and in all places.

      That wonderful article about mammals that Lambert brought us today had me smiling and laughing as I read it, especially when remembering pets we’ve had over the years. But the story left me sad when I thought about how much our culture has managed to obscure and suppress that behavior. Sure, Berman’s villain Church is partly to blame, but there’s more to it than that. When we think about the inter-species relating common among mammals, we must admit we’ve learned to shut ourselves off from our relationship to animals other than “cute” ones or pets in the era of industrial agriculture. The Enlightenment’s main contribution to that has been to augment our ability to rationalize what we’re doing to the Earth in the name of high values like profit and convenience.

      Berman is ultimately all about human glory when the story needs to focus now on human humility because we have a hell of a lot to be humble about.

      (What is this compulsion of mine to preach on Sunday?)

    5. JohnnyGL

      The problem is definitely ‘perspective’, as The Historian points out.

      Imagine reading about the decline of America, solely through CNN or MSNBC broadcasts, or through the elite historians at Ivy league schools.

      All indications are to me that Rome had been very much infected with the same problems of parasitic elites wrecking the underlying society and then blaming the wreckage on the people they’d wrecked.

      As Thomas Frank says, “media talking heads think that elites can never fail, they can only BE failed by others”.

      Rome was failed by its greedy, corrupt elites and America is being failed by ours. Anti-elite culture doesn’t just spring forth from the ether, — much like Trump didn’t just appear from thin aIr. Anti-elite culture comes as a direct response to elite parasitism. Trump is very much a creation of the cultural wasteland created by elites. Krystal Ball describes it best.

      They’ve cultivated an environment that enables incompetent narcissists to succeed, if they’re good at marketing themselves. Now elites have to grapple with the horror they’ve helped create and they’re going to deny their role in creating it all the way to the end.

      1. Fireship

        The “elites” are just the distillation of the American people. There is no conspiracy: most Americans want to be Donald Trump or Kamala Harris. They want a McMansion, a truck and 2 weeks in Vegas/DisneyLand/Cancun. It’s time to pull on the big boy pants and face reality. It’s over folks. Looks like I have to pull out the blessed George Carlin quote again:

        “Now, there’s one thing you might have noticed I don’t complain about: politicians. Everybody complains about politicians. Everybody says they suck. Well, where do people think these politicians come from? They don’t fall out of the sky. They don’t pass through a membrane from another reality. They come from American parents and American families, American homes, American schools, American churches, American businesses and American universities, and they are elected by American citizens. This is the best we can do folks. This is what we have to offer. It’s what our system produces: Garbage in, garbage out. If you have selfish, ignorant citizens, you’re going to get selfish, ignorant leaders. Term limits ain’t going to do any good; you’re just going to end up with a brand new bunch of selfish, ignorant Americans. So, maybe, maybe, maybe, it’s not the politicians who suck. Maybe something else sucks around here… like, the public. Yeah, the public sucks. There’s a nice campaign slogan for somebody: ‘The Public Sucks. Fck Hope.”

        1. flora

          I think almost all Americans want a govt that works for all segments of the country and income levels, not just the richest; want a govt that restrains monopolies from destroying jobs and wages; wants a govt that restrains predatory finance, restrains predatory pharma pricing, restrains predatory lending, etc.

          Blaming the voters for the current system is easier than looking at ways to disable govt capture by mega corporations and monopolies. That’s a huge, long term task. (It looked impossible in 1880, too.) Easier to blame voters’ bad character or whatever. Blaming voters means you don’t have to do anything because there’s nothing to be done. That’s an easy out.

          1. flora

            Remember C’s campaign in ’92 more or less promising to restore the New Deal ethos of the party? He got elected. Found out after the election he was a fraud. Remember O’s campaign implying he’d renegotiate NAFTA, crack down on predatory banks and Wall St and big pharma and insurance companies – single payer govt health insurance? He got elected. Found out after the election he, too, was a fraud.

            1. Fireship

              Clinton promised to cut taxes and reduce welfare. He said he was going to out-Republican the Republicans and he did. Obama was indeed a complete fraud.

              1. flora

                In the ’92 campaign Clinton’s public speeches talked about the economy getting worse for the 99% and the middle class working harder but falling behind. In ’92 he accepted the nomination, ” …in the name of the hardworking Americans who make up our forgotten middle class. ….When I am president, you will be forgotten no more.” *

                In ’92 Clinton campaigned very much as a champion of the hard working middle class. Most voters didn’t know he was really a Trojan Horse for the neoliberal DLC. That part of his outlook was seldom mentioned in news reports or campaign literature. By ’96 it was clear who he was, but the faces of the opposition by then were Dole and Gingerich.

                *ref. Thomas Frank, ‘Listen Liberal’, ch. 3.

          2. Fireship

            No, they don’t. They voted for Ronald Reagan who said “government is the problem.” It has been neoliberalism all the way down. Keep puffing away on the hopium bong if it makes you feel better. I’ll stick to reality, thanks.

            1. flora

              By ’80 the govt had raised interest rates to something like 15%. It was knocking out Main St.

              My council is neither hope nor despair.

            2. JWP

              Those people have been brainwashed by decades of neoliberal free market propaganda. they do want the best, but what is actually good for us all is seen by many as some communist scheme. That how intense the narrative has been screwed. No chance an FDR like situation happens anytime soon considering no one (at least in large numbers) has lived through a well formed and functioning government that doesnt work solely for the rich.

              1. Upwithfiat

                There’s nothing free market about, for example, government guarantees of privately created deposits/liabilities for fiat.

                Even FDR expressed reservations about the FDIC but signed the authorizing bill anyway in 1933 because of (short-sighted, if not self-interested) public demand.

                Yet we continue to turn a blind eye to government privileges for the banks as if they are an inevitable and necessary evil. They aren’t…

            3. Upwithfiat

              They voted for Ronald Reagan who said “government is the problem.”

              Let’s just say that big government is an inadequate solution to an unjust society.

              Otherwise, Ronnie would not have gained the traction he did.

        2. Tom Bradford

          i would refute Carlin’s claim that US politicians are the best you can do. As the Baffler’s above article “The parties decide” points out they’re the best you can do under the system you have so it’s the system that sucks, not the electorate.

          In New Zealand “…the electoral reform debate began in earnest following two successive general elections in 1978 and 1981 in which the National Party won a majority in Parliament with less than 40% of the vote and a lower overall share of the vote than the opposing Labour Party.[24] … Furthermore, the Social Credit Party was a victim of disproportionality as while they won 16.1% of the vote in 1978 and 20.7% of the vote in 1981, they only won one and two seats in Parliament respectively.”

          Pressure for the 1996 change to PR – a major break from the FPP system inherited from the “mother country” – came from below because the unfairness of the existing system was apparent, and until enough of the electorate in the US are willing to take the huge step of acknowledging that the US system may not necessarily be the world’s best just because, well, it was made in the USA, you’re stuck with what you have.

          Actually a change to any form of PR seems to benefit the Right, as in NZ it was the Left that split into more ideologically distinct and competing parties to the left of the ‘main’ party or to the Center, and lost votes to the Greens too, while the Right tends to hang together rather than hang separately. I believe this is the reason Labour in the UK is only lukewarm about PR, and suspect the Democrat leadership in the US also suspects any form of PR would diminish them and their power.

    6. Lee

      Let us not forget that the wonderfulness of Greco-Roman civilization was in large part made possible by slave labor. Also, the depiction of cultural achievements emanating from the top of a hierarchical structure is questionable. A more likely scenario is the appropriation by elites of insights and methodologies arising from the anonymous riffraff. Consider, as just one sterling example, the inventors of the phonetic alphabet, currently assumed to be a group of hieroglyphically illiterate miners.

      1. Wukchumni

        All I can say is thank goodness for al’ Gebra and their supporters zeroing in on the solution, Roman numerals being so unwieldy.

        1. LifelongLib

          Only a factoid I read someplace, but supposedly rather than work with written numerals Romans would use an abacus for calculating.

      2. lordkoos

        The wonderfulness of western civilization in the last few centuries was also made possible by slave labor.

        1. Count Zero

          No it wasn’t. There was all kinds of oppression and exploitation of the labouring majority but there was little or no formal slavery in Western Europe. Slavery was much more prevalent in Africa and the Ottoman Empire than in Western Europe. Serfdom predominated in Eastern Europe and Russia.

          The contribution of slavery in the Caribbean and the southern states did make a contribution to the wealth of Europe, for a fairly brief period. But European civilisation was built on the back-breaking labour of the majority of the population — workers, peasants, serfs and, indirectly, some slaves in the colonies.

            1. Count Zero

              Good point — though I think “workers, peasants, serfs and… some slaves in the colonies” might just about cover it?

              Free labour is cheaper to employ than slaves. Behind all the moral rhetoric about the wickedness of slavery there was shrewd economic calculation. Slavery only makes sense in a situation of acute labour shortage.

    7. Alex morfesis

      Rome was always a language…not a civilization… representing a fragile small portion of the world…the fantasy of scribes and their publishers…hoisted on the modern consumer of higher education as filler to justify tuition. A religion of thought vs. an actual base from which to compare anything…a cheap excuse to teach Latin and Greek and keep the unemployable fed by having them standing in front of a classroom. The “great reach” of the empire mostly a fantasy tied to trading posts and commerce vs actual control.

      Nyet, 9, nicht, OXI, olbidate…

      Someone marketing a “Historical map” doesn’t get to dictate reality….

      Most “History” is a small subset of reality…vanity press narrative nonsense fed to the world as “definitive” simply due to some wealthy or victorious person and their capacity to promote/market/advertise their “product”…

      hiz story is always inferior to “her facts”…

      1. Lee

        I am ever more impressed with inferences about the past drawn from physical evidence such as are derived from archeology than I am by depictions of history as written by the privileged. That said, I am at the moment very much enjoying Gore Vidal’s Julian, particularly his antagonism toward the absurd metaphysical disputes and religious intolerance displayed by the then politically ascendant “Galileans”.

  3. Tom Stone

    That Cal football player did not recieve a bill for tuition, nosirreeebob.
    The California Constitution is quite specific, schools within the UC system are not allowed to charge tuition, these are fees, an entirely different animal.
    The nose is a lot longer…

    1. The Rev Kev

      A coupla months ago in Israel, a bunch of Ultra-Orthodox also held a wedding. But to fool authorities who were trying to put a lid on these super-spreader events, they held it in a Palestinian quarter and played Palestinian music to trick anybody going by. They still got busted.

    2. dcblogger

      ever get the feeling that there is a concerted effort to focus our attention on events such as this and the motorcycle rally in SD rather than say, the real super spreader institutions, prisons, meat packing plants and Amazon warehouses?

      1. jr

        Wouldn’t surprise me; also, it’s a lot easier to moralize (and therefore sell papers) about a specific group of dip$#!+s whose faces you can see , especially members of what according to some Jewish friends more or less amounts to a cult who are quite unpopular with a lot of folks in NYC, than to analyze our legal, economic, and food production systems with all the attendant existential realizations.

      2. Pat

        Perhaps, but very honestly this one concerns me because I live in NYC and our numbers are climbing. Any outbreak of infection is unlikely to remain confined to this community. It is going to spread throughout Brooklyn and then radiate from there. It will stress the Hospitals further.
        Another lockdown will kill off even more small businesses here, and we are already facing a homeless and crime surge like we haven’t seen in decades.

        So while the things you mention are important, this is not just a distraction. Every event like this is deadly and possibly massively destructive. Super spreader events with hundreds or thousands of people who then go about their lives have been massive vectors of contagion spread already. That isn’t different now that we are we are hitting wave two.

        1. Carolinian

          In yesterday’s lockdown/mask discussion Clive made the point that telling people to do something is one thing but getting them to do it–even under threat of the law–is something else. Here we have a city mask ordinance and almost, but not all, customers in stores wear them. But it’s not unusual to see masks worn off the nose and since your nose is where the thing is breeding this violates the spirit if not the letter of the law which isn’t enforced in any fashion anyway. If some of us have a somewhat fatalistic attitude toward the disease it’s because the notion that you can somehow regulate human behavior to defeat Covid is–in a country like America–chimerical at best.

          On highways we have laws against speeding but how many people actually obey them? When smoking was proven to cause cancer millions continued to smoke (and cigarettes are still a staple prop for movie actors if not in real life). When it comes to Covid those most vulnerable need to protect themselves as best they can and protect their elderly relatives if they can. Half of those who have died in SC have been in nursing homes. Perhaps the vaccines will work but in the meantime science should arguably be concentrating on treatment rather than prevention.

          1. FluffytheObeseCat

            In our public spaces we have laws against nudity. And oddly enough, Americans overwhelmingly wear clothing outside their homes even in the summer. Masks are much more akin to clothes than to speed limits. Mandating them, and making them normative in public interactions is not difficult.

            There are a number of issues on which our elites are clearly self dealing liars of the worst sort. International trade. The comparative value of “knowledge work”, by which they only mean whatever they themselves do. However masks in public settings in a pandemic is not one of these things.

            1. Carolinian

              Of course exposing yourself is not at all the same as wearing a mask off your nose.

              My point is not that it is unreasonable to ask people to wear a mask. I’ve said the opposite here many times–may have been one of the first to say so. Rather my point is that if your mitigation strategy is to force everyone to wear a mask then that isn’t going to happen and therefore it’s not a strategy at all. Human nature is a thing–in medicine as well as economics.

              1. Foy

                It worked in Melbourne. Was met with understanding and little resistance by most of the community, there were a few who got viral media air time for not wearing them, but they were few and far between. 24 days zero cases in a row (although it is still being detected in the sewerage in some suburbs).

                Now the mask rules have just been lifted outdoors although must carry one with you in case you get stuck in a line at Bunnings Warehouse waiting for the sausage sizzle. We must be a bunch of compliant mopes. Or perhaps we understand, as a community, that every little counts.

              2. JBird4049

                I understand, but it feels like saying it’s reasonable not to stab strangers to death, but human nature being what it is…

                Look, being expected to wear a mask is seriously annoying, but it is an infectious disease. I am one of those weirdos who supports the carrying of weapons and want to eliminate almost all the security measures of the last thirty years with the exception of a very few nobrainers like lockable cockpit doors. But then, unlike some, I trust my fellow human beings. Communicable diseases aren’t human. They exist only to reproduce and spread.

                All this has been understood since Louis Pasteur. If people don’t mind possibly killing a few hundred people or that the vulnerable are imprisoned until the pandemic ends, frak ‘em. It’s merely an inconvenience and not an infringement of one’s liberty. It’s what decent human beings are supposed to do.

      3. jcmcdonal

        My local government (in Ontario) reports super spreader type cases separately, and they represent like 20-30%; significant probably to “start” a chain but most infections come later when people take their masks off inside.

    3. Count Zero

      Seems like a wonderful opportunity to study the effects of such an event in the spread of the virus.

      Negotiate with them. No prosecutions or further investigations on condition that they keep the relevant authorities informed of all cases of covid19 among the congregation and families during October and November. It could provide a very useful case study.

    4. Procopius

      The story says the wedding happened on November 8. That’s two weeks ago. Has anybody checked to see if there are new cases among the attendees? The way I understand the English Language, if there are no new cases, it’s not a “superspreader” event. I would expect there to be lots of new cases, since the spokespeople for the synagogue have said there were 10,000 people there. I would expect at least a few hundred new cases and at least a dozen deaths. Confirmation bias makes me want to believe this story, but the New York Post is a Murdoch operation.

  4. The Rev Kev

    So there is good news and there is bad news. First, the bad news. Thanks to Trump, the US Census for 2020 will be an absolute dumpster fire and future genealogists will curse his memory down the ages. Now the good news. We will at least have the D.C. Cat Census to comfort us instead.

    1. griffen

      For their next effort will they run a Humane Homeless count ? Inquiring minds wish to know.

      No I’m not poking fun at the homeless or indigent.

      1. furies


        They’re all drug addicts or mentally ill and deserve to die in the gutter. Just ask our economist friends~


  5. jr

    I just came from coffee and while there I got into a conversation with two PATH patrol officers. (PATH is the NJ subway that connects NYC and nearby NJ.) I mentioned how nervous I was with all the problems, the growing numbers of homeless, the upcoming eviction tidal wave, the unemployment ending right after Christmas:

    They said to brace myself for it because it’s getting bad and it will get significantly worse. They are not only seeing an uptick in crime but an increase in types of crime not often seen in an area like the West Village, people waving knives, push in burglaries, etc. If you live in NYC, stay frosty…

    1. petal

      Was at a local quickie mart yesterday and I think it was the cover of the NY Post had something similar-there’s no help coming to deal with the increase in crime there, so you’re on your own.

      1. jr

        A related anecdote: the entire conversation was started by a third party, some kid waiting in line was asking the cops questions about their patrol vehicle. When they went inside, I commented that I had been in a few of them and many had all plastic back seats so that you could hose them out if necessary. He smiled and noted, cheekily, that some people protest the police by soiling themselves intentionally to make a mess. It was suddenly clear that this kid was referring to people he knew, if not himself. I nodded and he rode off.

        It occurred to me what a useless act that would be. Now, if I just been beaten or gassed or whatever by the cops and was tossed into a car, I might do something like that as an act of revenge, a middle finger so to speak. But an act of protest it ain’t. If anything, maintaining oneself in the face of police violence would seem to be a more useful tactic, like the man I saw in a video being pepper sprayed with arms wide open and a smile on his face. This kid seemed to think of it as a lark.

        1. jef

          Just listened to Radio Lab on OPB as I sat in the car waiting for my wife in the fabric store. The segment was all about how the police are under no obligation to help anyone, nowhere is it written that they must “protect and serve”. They illustrated by documenting cases where the police were there but did nothing in fact sometimes they hid. All court cases around the country thrown out. Went to SCOTUS ruled that police have no obligation to help or protect.

          Interesting no?

        2. Mikel

          “like the man I saw in a video being pepper sprayed with arms wide open and a smile on his face. This kid seemed to think of it as a lark..”

          Well, when thet are in full, piwer trip mode you’re mire likely to get “what do you think us so funny? How ’bout I wioe that smile off your face” BAM!!!

          1. jr

            For sure, I just think it makes a stronger statement than whizzing in the cop car, for whatever that may be worth. Which probably isn’t much.

          2. Mikel

            “When they are in full, power trip mode you’re more likely to get…”
            I don’t do well at typing and walking at the same time.

            1. Procopius

              Mikel, I thought it was a fascinating experiment in Middle English, or at least Elizabethan English spelling. Perfectly understandable and more interesting because it required attention.

    2. griffen

      Yikes. On the 12th day of Christmas my true love regifted the lump of coal from our betters in the US Congress.

    3. Kurtismayfield

      #1. Show my actual statistics on crime.
      #2. Compare them to the same neighborhood in the 80’s.

      I guarantee that our coddled, spoiled populace still has lower crime rates now than before. The PATH officer’s hyperbole is based upon their biases.. not historical facts.

      1. Yves Smith

        Yes, I remember how in the bad old days of the 1980s, I was pick-pocketed 3x. And this was in the day when you never pulled out your wallet on the street. If you went to the bank or got change from a purchase, you reflexively put in your wallet inside and put you wallet away before exiting. Break-ins were common too. I haven’t heard of any from people I know since the early 1990s.

      2. jr

        This misses the point by a mile, not to mention the context. No one said it was as bad as the 80’s, but that it’s getting worse. And it is, you can see it around you. You accuse them of hyperbole but they never made any grandiose claims, they just said they are seeing more crime and the types of crime they are seeing are unusual for their beat. They also said it will get worse. It will get worse, given the times. Does anyone here see any help coming? Where will they eat with the restaurants gone and the panhandling dollars gone? Food pantries and shelters maxed out. Any suggestions?

        I’m not interested in the “historical” numbers, to be blunt. I am interested in not having a pistol stuck to my head as I did years ago in Philly or for my girlfriend to be followed home repeatedly by a smirking weirdo. All of this in relatively good times. In a situation like that, it’s just you and your aggressor, no time for sociological critiques or bold indictments of power.

        When I see a dangerous situation, or environment, I assess it as a soldier. (Think of that what you will.) I note where the hot spots are, what are the best routes to take, which one’s to avoid. Where is the lighting good, where is it always dark? Where are the long stretches of sidewalk with no activity? This includes everyone and everything: I avoid the NW corner of Washington Square Park because it’s where a lot of drug use and dealing goes on and I avoid walking my tiny dog through Washington Square central because the doofus’s from NYU rip through there on their bikes, gyros, and boards and are often belligerent even when they are utterly at fault. I avoid walking on certain corners on Fridays and Saturdays because that is where the drunken Brads start arguments by hogging the entire sidewalk and messing with passersby and I don’t walk down by the waterfront after dark because a lot of wacky stuff goes on around there that even the cops don’t know about.

        How would I know that? Because I keep my eyes peeled and I talk to everyone, not just the police. I had a buddy who would run on the streets all night with the semi to totally homeless gay crowd that used to hang on Christopher St. She told me to avoid the waterfront at night, so I did. And do. When my coffee shop owner tells me he has had more hungry and homeless people approaching him for food in the morning when he is opening his door, I take note. When I see people sleeping at night in the newly erected cafe shelters, wrapped in plastic bags for warmth, I take note. When I walk by a homeless man and he growls “I hate you.”, I take extra careful notes because that can go south really fast and he now has an idea of where I walk. When I see a customer at the “vape” shop in the morning scratching himself maniacally waiting for the doors to open, I take note. The vape shop, incidentally, that the patrol cops have told my coffee shop buddy they have been told to leave alone. Why is anyone’s guess but it doesn’t really matter, the bottom line the danger levels have gone up a few notches.

        I bear them, the homeless and desperate, no ill will: I’ve been in their shoes to an extent, including homeless and even on the street for brief periods in my life. I know the excruciating fear of not knowing where you are going to sleep tonight. And I am not an uncritical fan of NYPD or any arm of law enforcement, in fact quite the opposite. I’m well aware of their skewed perceptions and their own thuggery and lawlessness. But I am not going to ignore what I can see with my eyes and what others tell me is happening, not to mention the fact that the big picture is getting measurably worse. So I will say it again: stay frosty.

    4. Eclair

      Here in Seattle (boarded-up and graffiteed downtown streets lined with tents, tent villages no longer confined to the non-man’s land under and next to the Interstate, but springing up in parks and on the grassy medians around Ravenna and the U District), little articles keep appearing: Ballard merchants upset by rising crime, downtown store closes due to ‘crime.’

      I wonder, how much is ‘crime’ a code for ‘the homeless problem?’ Like the ‘pigeon problem,’ there are abatement measures; stop feeding ‘them;’ install spikes and barbed wire to prevent ‘roosting;’ ohhh, maybe we’ll have to poison them.

      In Tacoma this week, activists took over an abandoned school and moved in a score of people living on the street. Last I heard, police were gathering. Can’t have poor people claiming property rights.

      Reading Indi Samarajiva’s American Collapse trilogy, I begin to think that these break-ins, robberies at knife-point, ‘crime,’ are low level civil warfare, a nascent and decentralized ‘peasants’ revolt.’ Which happen only when conditions get so desperate that there is a perverse pleasure in committing acts of violence. Why not? You get ground down, every day. You’re forever cold and damp and hungry, your joints ache from sleeping on the ground. And you know you smell …. of sweat and piss and sh*t, so the real people walk around you and avert their gaze. No one, no one, looks you in the eye and acknowledges your common humanity. Violence is an acting out, a ‘look at me! I exist!’ Some cash is a by-product. And, there are the thousands of other disaffected people, angry … at their bosses, their spouses, their landlords, the bill-collectors, the corrupt politicians, the immigrants who moved in next door …. who have had their trust in institutions and government at all levels carefully ground down over the past decade. They will join in the violence because …. why not?

      Unfortunately, as Samarajiva points out, in such a collapse, it’s not the corrupt predatory class, who have so thoughtfully wrought this obscene system, who will suffer.

        1. jr

          Thanks for that link, that’s a group to keep an eye on (and I’m sure I’m not the only one thinking that) but I suspect that such efforts are simply going to be washed away in the flood that’s coming. Or just stamped out if and when they become big enough to present a problem to the powers that be. I’ve volunteered in the past with a similar organization in Philly: we handed out food, drove the elderly to appointments, got harassed tenants in contact with free legal. Sure, we did some good and that is not unimportant but at no time did we ever come close to presenting the threat of real change. If we had, we would have been smashed to bits or less heroically mainstreamed like I’ve seen in the environmental movement.

          And the people we were helping were grateful, usually, but had absolutely no interest in getting on board. They were too beaten down, too scared, too cynical, and I don’t think they were wrong to think that way.

      1. jr

        “ I wonder, how much is ‘crime’ a code for ‘the homeless problem?’ Like the ‘pigeon problem,’ there are abatement measures; stop feeding ‘them;’ install spikes and barbed wire to prevent ‘roosting;’ ohhh, maybe we’ll have to poison them.”

        The two blend together easily. The hungry man asking for a dollar becomes the starving mugger who has nothing to lose, in fact a trip to the jail can mean a better meal than what’s available on the street. That is definitely a factor here and one I shared with those cops: the West Village is/was famous for it’s restaurants. If you know the right dumpster, you could dig out a hundred dollar steak on a good night. Lots of pizza joints throwing out pizza at the end of the night, bags of day old bread on the trash heap from the artisanal bakeries. 90% of that is gone and a lot of people relied on it. Their numbers have only grown in the last few months and soon they will explode.

        Another angle they shared with me: colleagues of theirs who work the Holland Tunnel see moving trucks day and night, all headed out of the city. That’s panhandling money leaving along with rents, taxes, discretionary spending, etc. It’s a hunger issue but also an addiction issue: people are having a harder time “scoring”. It’s around; there is a “vape” shop that does a brisk trade in what I suspect to be heroin given the sometimes wealthy clientele you see out front but the homeless addicts can’t scrape together the cash for it. These guys told me they are picking up more people in the throes of withdrawal than they have seen before.

      2. DJG

        Eclair: I have a comment recommending Indi Samarajiva’s American Collapse trilogy, and the comment went the way of all pixels into moderation (because I’m only seemingly moderate).

        So I’m responding here to agree with your observations.

        Specifically, his three articles, linked to up top, are important. They are a kick in the pants. Americans think that we are going to overcome forty years of economic unfairness that show up as a climbing Gini quotient and in homeless camps. Americans think that we are going to overcome twenty years of repressive emergency–which is where Samarajiva’s life becomes an example of what happens during a long emergency. By when? Midterm elections in 2022?

        How are we going to do that? We haven’t even acknowledged the problems. As you say, we are entering a cold civil war.

        Meanwhile, people here grouse about wearing masks. If we go by Samarajiva’s observations and the long disruption of his live, we aren’t headed for one winter in masks. We are headed for ten years in masks.

        1. Eclair

          Thanks, DJG. Yes, you are only ‘seemingly moderate’ :-)

          After living near Jamestown, NY, with my spouse’s family (farmers, machine shop workers, truckers, Trump-voters all), amidst the devastation of a once thriving city that produced furniture and cloth and was surrounded by dairy farms. after years of driving through the mid-west’s shrinking towns, monumental granite and sandstone Romanesque and Gothic county courthouses built in the 19th century, now surrounded by empty shops and tree-shaded , pot-holed streets lined with houses badly needing paint ….. after all this, Samarajiva’s essays were almost a relief. I am not crazy. I think.

          1. Procopius

            Minor quibble: I think there are courthouses built in the nineteenth century, but many of the federal courthouses and office buildings now decaying were built in the 1930s by the PWA (Public Works Administration). I imagine if we try to get similar works programs passed (infrastructure building) it will be decried as ‘socialism,’ and we will be asked, “Where will the money come from?”

            1. fwe'theewell

              Especially since Democrats have their fingers in the pie of “liquidating” those public assets into private property. O, the gladhands they can pass through along the way!

      3. Lex

        High quality reading today, links and comments. As they say regarding the prospect of jail time: three hots and a cot.

      4. JWP

        Same situation down in Portland. Homeless camps are becoming massive and petty and gun crime is through the roof. Meanwhile, the wealthy neighborhoods carry on as usual. The store i work at was broken into the other day and i didn’t bat an eye upon seeing it, people are desperate for money and cloths and our store has both. If the economy and country fails to provide such basic things, alternatives will be pursued.

    1. furies

      Our sheriff in Siskiyou County put out a press release yesterday saying the same thing…

      no where to run nowhere to hide

    2. Louis

      What is astounding is the number of people that seem to have drunk the Democratic Party koolaid–they think anyone with a “D” after their name can do no wrong might very well support someone who shot someone in broad daylight as long as they had a “D” after their name–and don’t think what Newsome did was a big deal.

      I don’t the defining factor is moderate versus progressive–there are people in both camps that are blind to the damage, as well as ones it both camps who comprehend how damaging it is–but rather people with critical thinking skills and integrity versus those without.

      Leadership, especially in a time of crisis, includes not holding others to standards you are unwilling or unable to live up to yourself. It doesn’t take many examples of hypocrisy like Newsome to undermine the efforts to control the pandemic.

      1. dcblogger

        drunk the Democratic Party koolaid–they think anyone with a “D” after their name can do no wrong

        I think that the Republican party, not just Trump, has become fascist and therefore, for many people, voting not-fascist is crucial. certainly, here in the most Democratic city, DC, nobody thinks that Democrats are faultless, or indeed, do not have very serious defects.

        1. anon in so cal

          Liberal Democrats are pretty fascistic. Obama’s NDAA encroached on Posse Comitatus. Obama also went after the press. Now, Dems are making lists for retaliation, and joining their MSM and Big Tech allies in censorship.

          Glenn Greenwald gets it:

          “The jarring pre-election internet censorship on behalf of this Democratic-led coalition is the tip of the iceberg of what is to come. The key players in that internet censorship campaign are the corporate U.S. media outlets who are still are a key part of this ruling coalition.”

          “Just watch this clip of a Vox writer — on an MSNBC platform of all places — beg for “gatekeepers” and warn that citizens cannot be trusted to exchange information and ideas without corporate media overlords. This is the face of US liberalism right here:”

          “They beg Facebook and Google and other tech giants to regulate our discourse. They think NBC News & CNN are devoted to combatting disinformation and keeping us safe from propaganda. They beg for “gatekeepers” and discourse regulators. They are institutionalists & authoritarians.”

          “There is no question that Democrats are gearing up to use their new power to apply far more pressure than ever on Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc. to censor any views they deem “threatening.” Obama could not be clearer about this:”

      2. furies

        It’s a fu*king MASK for godsake!

        It’s not an invasive proceedure, or a chain or anyotherfu*king bullshit burden claim.

        A mask. One part in keeping the virus from running amok. Fu*king Jeez already.

        What’s the point of these edicts without enforcement? I want to know just how you let ‘er rip people expect us to stay safe when all health recommendations are being actively undermined? As someone on the very bottom of the totem pole–you are asking me to die for your ‘convenience’. The least you can do is to line up some morphine for us. It would be more humane than what’s currently accepted as pandemic planning/public health. What a fu*king joke.

    3. flora

      If the smart guys at the top demonstrate they don’t take Covid seriously – by ignoring their own rules – why be surprised when regular people ignore the rules? ( A fish rots from the head down….)

      1. ShamanicFallout

        Right flora, because now I’m seeing a lot of these kinds of questions popping up all over social media:

        “Newsom along with people from the CA Med establishment, Pelosi visiting the salon, Feinstein not wearing a mask in the Senate, etc. don’t seem to be worried at all about covid. What do they know that we don’t know?” ie it feeds into the it’s an exaggerated risk/control/power play take.

    4. Duke of Prunes

      You tag “Southern Ca is Trump County” as sarcasm. I’m not so sure.

      I was in Huntington Beach about a year ago and saw many boats in the inter-coastal flying very large Trump flags, almost like a multi-millionaire’s version of the Midwest’s 4×4 Trump parades. It very much looked like Trump county to me.

  6. ACF

    The two pieces of advice on glasses and masks are not Covid equivalent. I wear glasses. If they are fogging up I know I don’t have a good enough seal. Sounds like the first piece of advice will address that issue. The second piece of advice bypasses the issue entirely and enables me to continue to have a poor seal. While a poorly sealed mask might be better than no mask, for sure a well shielded one is better than a poorly shielded one.

    1. jcmcdonal

      I’ve found adjusting various things still isn’t enough to prevent all fogging; mask is secure enough that I can feel it going in and out while I breathe, and I tend to hope that is enough… All the focus on just wearing masks to begin with has distracted from all the ineffective mask wearing.

      1. Rtah100

        The diving trick of spit works on dry land too. :-)

        Just spit on the goggles or whatever you wearing, rub it round and if desired rinse it very briefly. The mucus proteins stick and somehow stop the fogging. I would have thought they would make it worse (nucleation sites). Must be magic.

    2. jef

      I am the designated shopper for our household of 3 generations because apparently I don’t work, I just farm.

      I am particularly aware of masks as I have a patent for a breathing filter apparatus I am working on for 6 years now. I would estimate maybe 2 out of a hundred masks are properly fit. More than half of all mask wearers are useless as you can see their mouth and nose through the side. Many wear their mask over mouth only. Face shields are more and more popular which are only 20% efficient if that.

      The point is in any given isle of the market where there are a dozen or more people slowly trolling there is massive particulate floating around being inhaled by everyone and coating all surfaces and getting in peoples eyes.

      Why do we kid ourselves that this is working? Why can’t we do the things that will work?

      1. furies

        Your stats are suspect.

        If my mask only ‘works’ at 60%, and your mask only is 60% effective…between the two of us…

        It’s not suppose to ‘work’ on it’s own. It’s the swiss cheeze approach. Handwashing, distance and MASKS. One layer, two layers and then a third.

        Sure would be easier to stay safe if everyone was on the same page. But alas…

      2. dcblogger

        because in countries with mask compliance the rate of transmission is MUCH lower. And if you wash your hand when you get home you wash off any virus on your hands. Furthermore, virii cannot survive very long if they do not have a host, they will become inert if they just lie on a surface. Masks work, we can save lives, including our own, if we wear them.

  7. Ella

    Re Santa. I had this conversation with my 7 year old daughter this week. I told her santa and the elves are so busy working that they don’t see anyone and therefore don’t have the coronavirus. I said they are totally safe and in fact there is no coronavirus in the North Pole. She looked at me and said, Maybe we should move to the north pole.

    Nothing better than the innocence of children. Especially during this sucky time.

    1. edmondo

      Coming in Monday’s Water Cooler:

      “How the high prices of homes at the North Pole may force Santa and the Elves to relocate to Vietnam.”

    2. polecat

      It’s soon to be a Santa Claus$chwabian Christmas .. so you will take your un-owned coal and Like It!

      And remember this, little whoo-nots: according to the WEF cloudfolk – you ARE the Roastbeast.

    1. Jesper

      Interesting story. For me it was about the difference between many (often shallow) friendships and having few (but deep) connections. The deep connections start out as shallow connections so without the shallow connections the deep connections might be impossible to get/find.
      My experience has been that a lot of time of an adults life is spent either at work or going to and from work, less time spent on that might allow for time to be spent on allowing the shallow to grow deep.
      & my impression is that when time is in short supply then it happens that time is wasted on trying to optimise the time – if there is only two hours of time then it has to be spent in the best possible way possible so make multiple plans and then pick the best and cancel the rest…. If the two hours were to be ten hours the pressure to optimise would be less, fewer plans would need to be made thus leading to fewer plans cancelled.

      1. dcblogger

        it is a good article. I live alone and shut down has had a terrible effect upon me. I used to go to the library of congress every week day, it was like a job. I had some friends there, or friendly acquaintances there, it was a lovely life, and now I can’t do that. Nor can I go to church anymore, because my church has moved to zoom, being very Matthew 4:7 type Christians.

        I went to church yesterday to download software, because my iPhone hot spot does not support the bandwidth for download software, so wanted to use the church’s wifi. It was wonderful to see our church’s clerk. We just exchanged a few words, but it was wonderful to see a familiar and friendly face.

        the isolation is getting to me. I mostly cope by surfing the internet and listening to audio books. My dog died a few years ago and my present apartment complex does not permit pet ownership.

        1. edmondo

          I hear ya. It is getting old. OTOH – stay active here on NC. I always look forward to your comments even when I disagree with them. Stay well.

          1. dcblogger

            thank you for your kind words. truly I am grateful for being merely bored. I am sitting in a nice chair, listening to Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier and reading my favorite blog. Homeless people would be happy to trade places with me. Even so, shut down is getting to me, not so much for me to go outside and put my life and others at risk, but yeah, shut down is getting to me. At least I have a balcony, so I can go outside without putting others at risk.

    2. Zephyrum

      Thanks for the link jr.

      The author writes:

      (Willing to date a woman 15 years younger but not even two years older? You and I shall never meet.)

      which implies she will only date men at least 2 years younger. It’s fine to have criteria, but it does limit the pool of potential partners. In my post-divorce online-based dating I found that the sites make age the most important factor after gender/sexual orientation, which causes a lot of people to lie with varying degrees of success. Hard to complain about being lonely when you maintain arbitrary filter criteria.

      (Personally I refused to lie about my age and didn’t use any filters beyond being within 100 miles. Ended up meeting my girlfriend at a meetup event. Age isn’t as important when you meet someone you fancy in person.)

    3. Robert Gray

      Another PMC bemoaning that her life is just so h-a-a-a-r-d. Puh-leeze.

      “So how can you tell me you’re lonely
      And say for you that the sun don’t shine
      Let me take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of London
      I’ll show you something to make you change your mind.”

      Ralph McTell, ‘Streets of London’

      If you don’t know it, search. If you do know it, now is a good time to listen to it again.

      1. John

        Wow, this might be the most mean-spirited thing I have ever read in these comment lines. Perhaps, Robert you should follow your own advice and just quietly choke on your rage without lashing out at strangers whom you know nothing about.

  8. Alex

    Re Yasha Levine story, can someone from the US explain the context? What is the purpose of fighting eviction in court, given their circumstances – they are a two-income family who have been paying their rent and probably can move to a different place. Is it a matter of principle – to show what can happen to regular people in the middle of the pandemic – or is it a rational choice for a tenant to go to court over this?

    1. jr

      It could be a question of wanting to stay in a particular neighborhood, for example my GF and I have paid a lot of money to stay in the West Village over the years but we are close to everything. Moving to Brooklyn could get us more space for less money but that means taking the train every morning to get to work ($) instead of walking as we used to do, me walking to the VA in < 25 minutes as opposed to the Brooklyn VA which is an 1 1/2 ride to the end of the “R” line then a 20 minute walk, and frankly the character of the neighborhood with the nightlife, restaurants, museums etc. all a quick walk away. (All of this was pre-COVID of course.)

      If Yasha is lucky enough to enjoy regulated rents, as some still are here in NYC, the desire to stay put is even stronger as moving across the hall can translate easily into a 1K$ a month increase in rent. We were living in an efficiency that was stabilized/controlled, whatever the less wonderful one is, for 2K$ a month in the heart of the Village. An efficiency on the first floor of that building, 2/3’s the size of ours with a “wall kitchen” (no divider between the rest of the space) was something like 5 or 6 hundred bucks more a month. Another efficiency across the hall was around 2K$ but it was literally so small the front door didn’t open all the way before it hit the wall behind it. The last tenant was a giant of a man, I have no idea how he did it. And the rent could have gone up on those spaces at the end of the lease.

      I think a good rule of thumb when discussing rentals in the US is that any kind of change can end up costing you in money or quality of life, so people are inclined to stay put unless they see some advantage to moving. We only moved from our last place because we managed to find a 1 bedroom with regulated rent, again I’m not sure which type, not too far from where we were. If we hadn’t, we would have stayed put as everything else was too expensive. I don’t know what the market looks like now with the pandemic but that was our experience.

      Not to mention, moving sucks big time. It always costs more than you are led to believe, by the moving company and by yourself. When I managed a relatives moving company in VA years back we used to offer an estimate then laugh ourselves silly when the client wasn’t around. My foreman and I specialized in chatting up customers, stretching things out, then adding another day onto the move for any number of reasons. Movers are >not< your friends.

    2. Pat

      While we do not know the particulars from what was said this is not about either missed rent or property destruction. So taking him at his word, they are not at fault. Here are a few possible reasons.

      They may not like their landlord, but they like where they live and do not want to move.

      They do not want to apartment hunt and arrange to move during a pandemic, especially when pregnant.

      Financially they do not look as good on paper with the probable short term loss of one of their incomes, hurting their chances with landlords.

      Evictions do not look good to future landlords.

      Real estate in large Popular cities has gotten very tight with AirBNB, skewing the market. This means less choice and higher prices.

      They are not in breech and should not have to move at the whim of the landlord.

      1. Alex

        Thanks, this makes it clearer.
        I read his previous post and it turns out that the apartment is rent-controlled, so I guess this is another reason

      2. Clem

        “Evgenia points out, this is straight out of a Charles Dickens plot: a landlord pushing a pregnant woman and her husband out into the cold on Christmas Eve”

        Dickensian Horror, California style:

        Two deeply religious Jewish people being pushed out into the low seventies Santa Monica beach weather at Christmastime…

        A paltry 60,000 apartments and homes for rent right now in the Los Angeles basin…

        Is a hungry black hole eating comments?

        1. ambrit

          Yeah, and now contrast the asking rents with the income figures for the demographic groups there.
          I remember when Clint Eastwood was mayor of some little sea side California enclave for the wealthy of the time and he pushed through a higher than the State figure minimum wage for the town. His argument was that, if the workers who kept the wheels from falling off couldn’t afford to live within a reasonable commuting distance of the town, that pretty soon ‘things’ would begin to fall apart due to lack of working class employees.
          So, my take away is that wealth inequality in California is already damaging the social fabric of the local society. Much more of this and the social fabric will completely unravel and doom result. Doom for all and sundry.
          I can imagine the consternation on the billionaire’s private jet when Wellington Air Traffic control tells them to turn around or be shot down. The NZ Air force is not needed for this. Ground based missiles will do the trick. Adding, those missiles can be either publicly owned or privately owned. Rival billionaires ‘protecting’ their turf?
          Oh, nothing is set in stone.
          Burning, Burning, Burning.

          1. rowlf

            I have it on good authority that Air Traffic Control has ef’d with folks they had an issue with class wise.

            Why not?

            1. ambrit

              Ah, a functional national air traffic control system. America used to have one, until Ronald “Prince of Darkness” Reagan crushed their union.

      3. Alex

        (the previous comment was lost)
        Thanks, it’s clearer now. In an earlier post he also wrote that theirs is a rent-controlled apartment which explains why finding a new one is a worse option.

    3. DJG

      Alex and Pat:

      Besides the Yasha Levine story, which is about a family that isn’t in arrears on rent, you should read Zeynep Tufekçi’s interesting post about Epistemic Humility.

      All the way to the end, where she describes the same situation, although she lives in North Carolina. The ex-pat landlord seems to want to eject her so as to do something to the property–who knows? Condominiums? AirBnB?

      She mentions being “lawyered up.” Just as Levine has had to be. Going into the unreliable U.S court system.

      The war of all against all.

      1. Alex

        Thanks for a tip. I wonder why the landlord can’t wait till the end of the lease (it’s usually annual, no?) and then simply not prolong it.

  9. PlutoniumKun

    Why there will be a Brexit deal FT.

    I think the author if this makes one fundamental error –

    My optimism stems from two factors. The first is that there is no powerful actor in the Brexit arena that opposes a deal. Noisy yes, but powerful no

    This is to very significantly understand the forces that first of all pushed for Brexit, and then when they won the referendum to push for a nonsensical purist version of Brexit. As elsewhere George Monbiot has pointed out, the arguments within the Tory party are essentially one between two versions of capitalism – one that sees itself as comfortable within a steady state, regulatory environment, and one more predatory one, that sees profit in disrupting regulation and existing social/political relationships. The latter are a particularly powerful force in the UK thanks to the long history of a form of swashbuckling libertarian financial capitalism. They are still there, pushing hard within the Tory party against the pragmatists.

    Another element, one that Fintan O’Toole has written about in some detail in a number of essays, is English nationalism.

    Neither force is illogical on its own terms, but it is one that seems beyond the comprehension of insiders and those who see themselves as rational operators. A deal is entirely logical and a rational approach to Brexit, and everyone sensible wants one. But to pretend that those opposing one are powerless or just represent a fringe view is just plain wrong. We’ve seen for years how the cheerleaders of predatory capitalism have torn up social contracts and attacked regulation ‘just because’. A no deal Brexit would be a huge victory for them in itself – the inevitable economic and possibly social chaos is meaningless for them – they can cash in on it, just as they’ve made fortunes from previous system failures, from the fall of the Soviet Union to the last crash, to the disruption by internet ‘innovators’.

    So while I think that at this time (it changes every day) it looks likely that Johnson will sign off some sort of deal, it is by no means certain.

    1. Mikel

      That’s what I suspected.
      It’s like the “Trumpism” in the USA…it did NOT derive its power from poor or working class white people. There are amplifiers and there are power holders.

  10. Wukchumni

    My personal memories of the day JFK was assassinated:

    6:27 am: left teat

    9:52 am: left teat

    10:11 am: bowel movement

    12:35 pm: right teat

    The rest is just a blur…

  11. The Rev Kev

    “I Traced My Covid-19 Bubble and It’s Enormous’

    And this article is a perfect demonstration of how a lockdown can work. That guy had a bubble of at least a hundred people but under lockdown, it would revert back to himself, his wife and his kids. With all these little bubbles, the virus keeps on running into a dead end. It may spread to every member of a household but that is about it. It burns itself out and can go no further. By the time lockdown is over, everybody is past their infection who were infected. It gives authorities time to play catch-up, hospitals are not being overwhelmed, contact-tracers can get a decent handle on their jobs, and medical supplies are not run down. The only thing is that governments have to support people under lockdown so that they have the means and resources to be able to do so.

    1. Louis Fyne

      How are you going to feed people?

      Who’s going to be slaughtering the chickens and manning the frozen pizza factories? social distancing is very tough at a food processing plant.

      The virus is in the community. Any food processing plant WILL have an outbreak. The US can’t even test every inbound international traveler. Who is going to test every worker pre-shift?

      if doesn’t matter if my entire city quarantines for 6 weeks if the virus is still circulating because it was never eradicated among essential workers.

      and we even have gotten to the fact that pictures of Newsome, and others, violating his own covid orders undermines the credibility of lockdowns

      1. Basil Pesto

        and we even have gotten to the fact that pictures of Newsome, and others, violating his own covid orders undermines the credibility of lockdowns

        No it doesn’t; it undermines the credibility of Gavin Newsom

      2. cuibono

        what about getting R0 under 1 do you not understand. do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good …

        1. Louis Fyne

          getting R under 1 for essential workers is impossible given the current state of everything.

          Any strict lockdown does nothing to eradicate the virus outside of one’s house.

          Covid will still be in jails, floating through nursing homes, at the food plants.

          Want to have R less than 1 in rural areas? Force the slaughterhouses and food plants to staff at 15% of capacity. Then watch as what that does to food bills and supplies

          People were fighting over rolls of toilet paper. Now you get to see them fight over the last place in a bread line

        1. MarkT

          I am an essential worker in NZ and am thoroughly grateful the NZ government went “hard and early” and eradicated the virus. It was a surreal experience. But so was watching governments in many western countries obfuscate and dither. They wasted weeks.

    2. cocomaan

      I think the site ate my last comment. Sorry if I’m reposting.

      But we need to be careful with hospital occupancy panic. Because according to the CDC, only 8% of hospital beds are occupied with Covid patients.

      That sucks but it’s not apocalyptic. A nurse I was talking to said that many of her beds are being taken up by people who deferred surgery this spring for their conditions. Remember, panic only serves Jeff Bezos and his media empire.

      In my home state of PA, 4% of beds are taken by covid patients, yet we’re at 60% occupancy. That’s not covid.

      The worst state by far is AZ, with 25% of beds taken up by covid patients.

      1. PNW

        In following your link to the CDC, they indicate that this data is from July and that they were no longer updating this information. So, yes, we do indeed need to be careful.

      2. Michael

        Another question is what is the normal rate of occupancy? (High, its a business eh?)
        And like a table at a cafe, there is the turnover factor. (Here’s your check, we have people waiting!)
        What is the average stay for elective surgeries?
        If the virus causes more people to need hospitalization, slow or stop elective surgeries again.

        Dumbing down of civilization by dumb journalists continues.

        1. cocomaan

 This is also a good video (and shorter) on exponential growth.

          But I don’t know that covid is exponential. For instance, the exponential growth drawings made by many don’t at all take into account individual immunity, which seems increasingly likely to be about 6 months ( Exponential curves also don’t take into account weather patterns or people distancing from each other more than ever in my lifetime (for instance, Thanksgiving is basically cancelled in my family).

          I stopped really buying exponential models of Covid this summer because they never turned out to be accurate. And I’m not sure that exponential growth worries have much to do with hospital occupancy.

          I’m open to suggestions though. I’m just trying to help people understand what it means when the news reports that “hospitals are reaching occupancy.” It’s important not to panic, because the PMC benefits, just like they did with outsized terror about, well, terrorism.

          1. Harold

            Obviously, when people don’t congregate, physically distance, wear masks, work from home and don’t go out, exponential growth cannot take place. It did take place here in NYC in April, when for days, the case rate doubled until it reached the highest in the world. Then the curve flattened because of the lockdown and other measures taken.

            Obviously, in an epidemic, people stay home because they don’t want to die, even if the fatality rate is “only” three in a hundred.

            1. Stephen The Tech Critic

              “Looks pretty exponential” is a fairly useless thing to say about data like this. Just eyeballing it, if I look at the uptick starting 20 days ago and ignore everything else, it actually looks a lot like a straight line. You could also find some quadratic curve, or power law curve that appears to fit the latter part of the data quite well.

              In other words, you can’t “look” at a picture like this and deduce that something is exponential without a lot more qualification. An example of such a qualification is knowledge that the underlying system dynamics *actually are exponential*. You establish that with a strong theory and adequate experimental evidence to back up that theory.

              Now in terms of theory, one can model pandemic spread as exponential, but this is not a good model. Early this year, I analyzed the data coming out of Wuhan using an exponential model, reasoning that pandemic growth will likely be exponential in the very early stages. However, I was very wrong in my approach for two big reasons.

              First, the data itself was not temporally consistent with the reality on the ground. The rapid rise in “confirmed cases” we saw in early February (IIRC?) was most likely due to catching up on a cumulative backlog of testing and contact tracing by the Chinese. After a couple weeks, the rise leveled off pretty dramatically.

              Second, the underlying disease spread dynamics aren’t really exponential at all, even in the early stages. Models that imply exponential growth are way too simplistic to capture even basic human social behavior.

              Imagine we pair each person with someone else in the world completely at random for one hour, and then after every hour, we reshuffle all the social contacts. Also imagine that the world population is huge compared to the number of cases. Then, to a reasonable approximation, spread will be exponential because each person passes it on to some number of people who pass it on to some number of people who … The population of infected is *multiplied* after each generation or constant interval of time.

              Now over time, the population of infected and/or immune will grow, and many pairings won’t cause new transmissions because both of the pair already have it or are immune. As this occurs, the trend levels out and no longer “behaves exponentially”. We might also say that the progress of spread is becoming *saturated*. It’s hitting an effective ceiling as it approaches 100% herd immunity.

              However, in reality, we don’t pair with other people throughout the world entirely at random. Instead, we socialize with people in *clusters*, and these clusters exist at multiple *scales*. For example, our house mates can comprise one cluster at a small scale. The people we are likely to cross paths with at the grocery store, at our (essential) jobs, at church, etc. can comprise *clusters* at a medium (community) scale. The people we might possibly interact with on the airplane or at the airport, in some casino in Las Vegas, or in a Hasidic Jewish synagogue in New York (ugh), might comprise a *cluster* at a very broad scale.

              Saturation essentially arises separately for each of these different clusters at different scales. Once everyone in the house gets it, no one there gets sick anymore. Once most people in New York have had it (and are reasonably immune), it doesn’t spread as readily there. And so on. These dynamics are way more complicated than but always less severe than actual exponential growth.

              So I think at this point, it’s probably best to lay-to-rest the term *exponential* when talking about the pandemic. It just doesn’t work like that, and even if a picture of data “looks like exponential”, the real thing ain’t.

          2. Larry Y

            It’s not exponential in the same way Y2K wasn’t a serious problem. People did stuff to stop it.

            The virus is exponential if people did nothing… or was the examples in Wuhan, Bergamo, and NYC, etc. not enough to convince you? Or are we talking about another kind of delusional exceptionalism here?

            Splitting hairs about hospital capacity… how about just look at overflowing morgues and rented refrigeration trucks.

        2. carl

          It opened my eyes years ago, and I’m happy to see it posted here. What an amazing professor Al Bartlett was!

      3. marym

        Your reply on this topic to my comment yesterday sent me looking for some current and cumulative pandemic hospitalization statistics, though not enough to have an informed opinion yet on whether concerns about the numbers or urgency being overstated. That’s not stopping me from sharing not totally informed opinions though!

        People deferring non-urgent but necessary care is a problem too. Other factors which may now be putting stress on hospital capacity and staffing: numbers and type of staffing requirements for care; equipment and supplies needed for care; contagion containment requirements; length of stay; not being able to call on staff from other geographical areas compared to earlier when the pandemic was less widespread; staff getting sick.

        In a recent briefing the IL governor was discussing hospitals doing an assessment of capacity now, and talking about the distinction between having an available room, and having sufficient staff and other support requirements specific to this situation.

      4. Medbh

        It doesn’t matter what percentage of the patients in the hospital have covid. What matters is if there are beds and staff available. Hospitals aren’t sitting around with unused capacity even in normal times, and it doesn’t take that many covid patients to collapse the entire system.

        Once the hospitals are overrun, medical care is delayed or deteriorates, and everyone suffers from it. Your own comment reinforces this fact.

      5. Yves Smith

        Wrong metric anyhow. The choke point is ER and ICU capacity as well as stuff like # of machines that can provide oxygen therapy, which now seems like the first line of “bad case” defense if you can’t get to one of the pretty rare ECMO machines.

        People were waiting in ERs in NYC for 30 hours merely to be seen during the worst of the Covid crisis, piled up in gurneys in the corridor.

  12. IM Doc

    Internal Medicine Physician here.

    A few words about the COVID Grand Rounds video from UCSF – and the tweets from Dr. Wachter – who is the current Chairman of Internal Medicine from UCSF.

    I saw this video yesterday – I am desperately trying to decide how I am going to deal with this vaccine with my patients.

    There were large parts of the video that were very helpful – with very thorough discussions about various aspects of COVID.

    Unfortunately, the vaccine part was not as helpful. Still treading out the same minimal numbers we have seen from the pharma glossies and there is this continued trust of the FDA and PHARMA that I just no longer have – that the data will be coming shortly – and all will be OK. I am sorry – after years of having patients suffer from problems caused by meds – and KNOWN to be problems before their release – just color me skeptical.

    After long hours of research and scouring for information – I have come to the conclusion that the two most likely bad effects of these vaccines are incomplete immunity – meaning it is completely unknown a) if it will work and b) for how long. And secondly, the very real prospect in some patients of initiating an immune status that will turn a mild infection into a potentially fatal one. The video just glanced one of these issues – and completely ignored the other.

    The other more concerning problem is that huge swaths of the American public are just not buying it. I am beset daily with questions and comments about nano-robots being injected, about bar codes being injected – about Chinese Communist plots, about WHO plots – it is quite simple – more than half of this country will not be taking the vaccine. And you need basically 80% to do so for the larger community effects to happen. Given the complete distrust and questioning going on in my own town based on these “concerns” – I really feel it is not worth the risk to the people willing to take it. I am also not sure how you change that.

    Furthermore, just an FYI on Dr. Wachter. My profession has been absolutely taken over by a cadre of neo-liberal academics. They are absolutely corrupt to the core. They are wed to medical corporatism, and medical credentialism. Effective and safe and value-based patient care is about their 32nd priority – despite what all their glossy ads say. The corruption is enormous. Dr. Wachter is right in the big middle of this – and I would say “shady” is too good a word for his previous actions. (This has all been completely and thoroughly documented over the years at How I feel about the corrupt politicians is the same way I feel about these medical “leaders”. I find it very difficult to trust a thing they say. They do not represent the medical providers of this country – and most certainly not the patients – they are a cabal of corporate interests and neo-liberal academic departments. Their goals are profit extraction from the patients and the providers, complete and total control over the patient-physician relationship, and overwhelming credentialism. You can easily recognize these people online – their bios usually contain from 15-20 letters behind their name. MD, FACP, FACHE, MBA is one I am looking at right now on another tab.. What I am trying to say – if you want the buy-in of the working docs in this country – Dr. Wachter is not going to be a good spokesperson or a good actor. He is widely distrusted and has worked hard at earning every bit of disrepect that currently clings to his name.

    At this point – I am still in a wait and see pattern with my patients and this vaccine. I am not going to recommend it – nor am I going to try to dissuade those who really want it – other than a warning about safety issues. I am going to continue right on digging deep in the research and the actual trial numbers – if they are ever provided.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Thanks for this insight – I have this feeling that vaccination may turn out to be a fiasco. There is an arrogant assumption that people should just accept it ‘because science’, but its entirely rational to question the decision making process behind it (perhaps more so than in Europe – I think public trust in the medical and political institutions is a little stronger here). If it is not handled correctly there could be sufficient numbers of refusals to ensure a long term home for Covid within the population (especially if there is a mass refusal by religious groups, who seem to be among the worst super spreaders). Of course, if a problem does arise with one or more of the vaccines, then things could get even worse.

      I think there has to be a huge level of care behind its roll out, and I particularly think it is worth ensuring that a range of vaccines are available, as it seems clear there will be several suitable candidates. There will be an enormous push behind getting mass immunisation in place by summer 2021, but this could simply be too early. I think expectations need to be reigned back, not just because of the practical and scientific issues, but the need to bring the public along with it and to address real concerns.

      1. a different chris

        What’s, um interesting I guess is that an honest economic decision would be to give a trusted-but-scarce vaccine to the working class, people who have to work in a meat-packing plant for instance.

        A kleptocracy would instead give it to the people that could just stay home, simply because they are rich and first in line for everything.

        So then we come to the “trusted” part…which it won’t be by most anybody (beyond techno-idiots like Elon Musk) especially in the upper classes who know how things “work”. So does this kleptocracy really want to be first in line for an entirely new vaccine or do they want to test it on the plebes first?

        We will see how that shakes out.

      2. cnchal

        > I have this feeling that vaccination may turn out to be a fiasco.

        That’s baked into the cake.

        > . . . I think there has to be a huge level of care behind its roll out, and I particularly think it is worth ensuring that a range of vaccines are available, as it seems clear there will be several suitable candidates.

        There is no care in the world when billionaires scramble to mop up the trillions spilled to cope with the pandemic, so, multiply that fiasco by the number of vaccines to get an inkling of reality.

        The competing ads write themselves. Take “our” vaccine, that Ford or Chevy vaccine is garbage. Never mind the certainty that some people are going to take every vaccine available, just to be sure, for which there are only questions without answers.

      3. Louis

        There is an arrogant assumption that people should just accept it ‘because science’, but its entirely rational to question the decision making process behind it

        I agree. It’s not just the normal anti-vaccination crowd questioning it either. There are people who are fine with vaccines (and get them) but are questioning–rightly or wrongly–whether corners were cut to get COVID vaccines approved in a faster way, for political purposes. As a consequences, they too are wary of taking it.

        I’m not saying these people are right or wrong but telling people to “shut up and color” is not going to get us anywhere–it will just lead to more resistance. While you are never going to convince everyone to take it, being transparent and telling the truth will help reduce the number of people who have reservations about taking the vaccine.

      4. ChrisPacific

        I think the worst case scenario would be some kind of catastrophic side effect like an autoimmune response that seriously harms or kills a lot of people. Even if it did what it said on the tin, and the number of people it killed was far less than the number of people it saved, this would be immensely harmful. It would absolutely become a cause celebre for anti-vaxxers for decades to come, for example.

        I think expectations need to be reined back, not just because of the practical and scientific issues, but the need to bring the public along with it and to address real concerns.

        That presupposes you have a political class that’s interested in “bringing the public along with” anything, rather than setting them against things. Possibly true in the EU, not so much in the US.

    2. Krystn Podgajski

      Can you be my doctor? Great to see the First do no harm ethic still alive. And you raise brilliant questions.

      Due to the stress from a series of calamities while being homeless and driving cross country in a 20 year old minivan, I have generated my first ever case of psoriasis on my knees.

      I will be last in line for a vaccine. How do I know how it will affect someone with an immune related mood disorder? So I will keep wearing masks and staying away from people until I get the reports on how this vaccine effects people with TNFa levels that just don’t shut off.

    3. Brian (another one they call)

      Thanks Doc; One of my biggest concerns is the mRNA approach. No vaccines have been made using this technique which seems to indicate that there are known problems. It seems to be a mad rush toward a money making proposition alone. There are no signs of efficacy and no real test bed where the parameters are controlled by someone outside of bigpharma where the results will be public.
      I don’t remember a vaccine that couldn’t be measured in any other terms but profit. But I’m only in my seventh decade. I am concerned that we are being led down a rabbit hole that Alice wouldn’t touch.

    4. rusti

      And secondly, the very real prospect in some patients of initiating an immune status that will turn a mild infection into a potentially fatal one.

      You’re talking about Antibody-Dependent Enhancement? I remember Michael Osterholm mentioning it back in March as an issue that required basic research but I haven’t seen anything about it since then other than Ignacio mentioning that he thought some of the re-infection cases were likely ADE. Is there a viable way to scientifically show that this isn’t likely to be a big issue before massive numbers of people are given the vaccines?

      1. JWP

        My school has made flu shots mandatory, I can only imagine the case with this, pure entrapment coming up.

    5. Oh

      Doc, thanks for enlightening me. TBH, I’m very skeptical about the corporate profit from healthcare industry. I know that there are very dedicated and honest doctors like you; we need more of ’em.

    6. Phacops

      When Sanofi, who I consider to be very conservative for a pharma firm, was looking at mRNA therapies they dropped it completely. The issue was protein misfolding in several therapies being investigated. People working in recombinant proteins are highly aware of that and recognize post-translation (post protein building) processing. Plus, early studies using only the active region of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein demonstrated deficient response. In contrast, a protein in its proper, final, 3-D, conformation presents the immune system, which is highly sessitive to such stereochemistry, a target-rich material.

      Proteins are not merely a linear assemblage of amino acids. The three-dimensional shape leads to their emergent properties and T-cell mediated immunity and immune memory rely on that also. No evidence that the proteins produced by the mRNA vaccines are properly folded as presented on the cell surface has been provided in any of the two mRNA candidates.

      And, knowing of past failures by Moderna, I feel that more transparency is needed than pronouncements from the C-suite. In Moderna’s case I have heard that during interviews it is implied that scientific ability, skill, and experience is of little value compared to youth.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        I didn’t know exactly what was meant by the mRNA vaccines against Corona but the low temperatures required to prevent misfolding of the mRNA in the vaccine twinged my ‘spidey-sense’. Your comment is very helpful to my limited understanding. As far as I know both the protein folding problem and — what I thought had been hoped to be a simpler problem — the RNA folding problem remain unsolved. I do not know how well in-cell protein manufacturing processes are known, nor how well the means a virus uses to take-over protein manufacturing processes are understood. But given what I believe is considerable mystery remaining in the basic science I cannot help but believe Big Pharma’s “Warp Speed” efforts to produce mRNA vaccines are like children playing with matches in a basement while standing ankle deep in gasoline.

          1. Jeremy Grimm

            Quick look [lazy? sorry yes … ] at your link and I am left wondering about how the RNA produces protein and how the RNA manages to control the manufacture of protein if it folds badly as it seems wont to do without extreme low temperatures. [How does it make it into a cell to do its job without folding into a nebbish RNA?]

            Anyway … [ref. party scene in Steven Soderbergh “Solaris”] I appreciate your link. Thanks!

    7. Lee

      Much thanks for your postings here and much sympathy for your excruciating dilemma. Small comfort to be sure, but so far as this realm of knowledge is concerned, it’s all I’ve got.

      1. Glen

        Thank you for posting. Very good information.

        I’m sorry to hear your profession has been over run by the PMCs. Mine has too.

    8. petal

      IM Doc, I’ve been holding off commenting. Am in immunology. Colleagues have been cautiously whispering to each other about concerns they have with the vaccines, because they are so afraid of being labeled as anti-vax. They have legitimate scientific and medical concerns about the mRNA vaccines and won’t touch them with a barge pole. The younger colleagues(under 30) are all for them and can’t wait(they have complete trust in pharma), but those that are a little older and experienced don’t want them. I am concerned the hospital whose premises I work on will force us to get it.

      1. ambrit

        Could you convince the administration to run their own efficacy tests and demand to be in the control group?

    9. Jeremy Grimm

      Thank you for your comment. I feel better about my own immediate reaction to a vaccine developed at “Warp Speed” by Big Pharma. I was knee-jerk responding to the noxious reek of the the vaccine projects. You lifted the curtain for me exposing the unkindly mountebanks and very real risks of their nostrums.

      I have worked on too many failed engineering projects where management and money — not the best estimates based on the lessons of long established practice — determined schedules. Mashing together a little encapsulated wisdom from my former trade: It takes nine months to produce a baby no matter how many women you hire to produce it and silver bullets are fictions fit for low budget werewolf movies.

      Many of the countries in Asia were able to control the Corona pandemic using relatively old tried-and-true public health measures. The US Government opted not to learn from what worked and went its own way using the Corona pandemic as an opportunity to raid the public coffers for the benefit of Big Money while maintaining policies that effectively spread the pandemic — either deliberately or through total incompetence. Instead of proven public health measures the US dumped money on Big Pharma to produce a vaccine at “Warp Speed” promising a panacea for all problems financial and medical once it was completed. I remain at a complete loss understanding what kind of warped thinking designed the US response to the Corona pandemic. I greatly fear the consequences of how the US might respond to a truly serious disease as I greatly fear the economic and social consequences of how the US has responded to the Corona pandemic.

    10. skippy

      It seems all the olds that were turfed out long ago for the more malleable has come to its inevitable end.

    11. jef

      IM Doc – Thank you so much for your comment. I feel much less crazy (still pretty crazy though).

      Why can we not just vaccinate the 20 to 25% of the population who are 95% of those at risk instead of forcing the other 80% to get vaxed too? I know the standard argument from the general population is “why do you want me to die?”, but that is simply not the case.

      I spent a week of hell with my daughter after she received the GARDASIL vax and almost died so I question the insistence on poking everyone. No conspiracy just personal experience.

      1. ShamanicFallout

        This makes my heart sink. I have a seven year old daughter. I don’t know what I would be feeling after something like that. Grateful and righteously angry at the same time maybe. As for this vaccine, we are on the “you first” list

    12. Cuibono

      one additional thing you do not mention:
      I calculate that the NNT for this vaccine from trial data is something like 400:1…

      maybe my calculations are way off…would like others to replicate.

    13. Josef K

      Yes, thank you for this information, your expertise and experience is very valuable for those of us trying to sort through all the information out there.

      One friend has already brought up the nanobots idea; she seems to rely on FB for her information, FWIW.

    14. Glen

      Thank you for your comment, very useful information.

      I’m sorry to hear that your profession has been overrun by the PMCs. I’m dealing with this too where I work. It’s not good.

    15. Lambert Strether Post author

      > At this point – I am still in a wait and see pattern with my patients and this vaccine. I am not going to recommend it – nor am I going to try to dissuade those who really want it – other than a warning about safety issues. I am going to continue right on digging deep in the research and the actual trial numbers – if they are ever provided.

      There’s a lot about the process that’s whiffy (including the press releases and the ramping). That is the system we have.

      I contine to root for an underdog nation like South Korea or Thailand to get it right with old-fashioned technology, not mRNA.

      1. rowlf

        I second keeping an eye on what Thailand is doing. The Thai culture post lends itself to objective solutions to the problems they are facing.

        I loved a story of a Thai doctor developing a combination drug for AIDS patients in Thailand years ago and when the international pharmaceutical companies objected she told them to to go climb a tree. Her argument was that the companies manufactured the drugs but the US government developed it.

        One of the nastier parts of the TPP was to squash the Thai government’s pharmaceutical manufacturing in favor of international companies.

    16. anon in so cal


      I posted this the other day, sorry for reposting. However, since the BCG cost approximately $3 per vaccine and may provide some protection, one wonders why it’s not getting more attention.

      “A widely used tuberculosis vaccine is associated with reduced likelihood of contracting COVID-19 (coronavirus), according to a new study by Cedars-Sinai. The findings raise the possibility that a vaccine already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration may help prevent coronavirus infections or reduce severity of the disease.

      The vaccine, known as Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG), was developed between1908 and 1921 and is administered to more than 100 million children around the world every year. In the U.S., it is FDA-approved as a drug to treat bladder cancer and as a vaccine for people at high risk of contracting TB. The BCG vaccine is currently being tested in multiple clinical trials worldwide for effectiveness against COVID-19.

      In the new study, published online Nov. 19 in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, investigators tested the blood of more than 6,000 healthcare workers in the Cedars-Sinai Health System for evidence of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and also asked them about their medical and vaccination histories.

      They found that workers who had received BCG vaccinations in the past—nearly 30% of those studied—were significantly less likely to test positive for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in their blood or to report having had infections with coronavirus or coronavirus-associated symptoms over the prior six months than those who had not received BCG. These effects were not related to whether workers had received meningococcal, pneumococcal or influenza vaccinations.”

      1. MarkT

        I was going on about BCG effects in the early stages of the pandemic. No one seems interested. Profit ueber alles.

        1. Yves Smith

          No, this is wrongheaded.

          First, the have been studies on much larger populations (in India, Africa) on BCG v. non-BCG vaccinated populations. The conclusion was that BCG didn’t appear to make any difference. Recall that India was perceived to be doing better on Covid due to BCG and then they had a huge infection wave.

          Second, and more important, any BCG benefit comes from HAVING TAKEN the vaccine. Getting it now, for reasons over my pay grade, would increase your vulnerability to Covid for reasons over my pay grade.

    17. MarkT

      Thanks for sharing your views re the vaccine. I’m not a medical scientist but am equally concerned for exactly the reasons you mention. I am an atmospheric scientist who has watched the corporatisation of every organisation I’ve worked in, with the general result that the worst amongst us now call the shots.

  13. Antoine LeBear

    Re: vaccine and Bob Wachter twitter thread.
    I don’t know about you but I’m very nervous about the new vaccines. And I’m pro-vax, my 4 children wife and I are fully vaccinated.
    But I need reassuring in the new tech they used for these one: mRNA. First vaccine or med designed to use it and nobody explained to me why it’s safe except « because science ». My understanding is it’s a new delivery mechanism that fools the immune system into producing antibodies based on the RNA loaded in the vaccine. And I don’t like to have my immune system fooled. So if someone has links to peer-reviewed articles on the safety of this tech I’d appreciate it.

    1. JBird4049

      Having been vaccinated for almost everything as a child, I am very pro vaccination too, but while the anti vaxxers are foolish, any problems with previous vaccines seem to have been dismissed. Mind you it’s small, but like with some drugs that had bad side effects like sudden death and were still approved by the FDA, why should I trust the FDA? And I don’t trust any medical company at all.

      If the FDA ever gets rid the corruption and incompetence, and gets adequate funding again, it will still take decades before it is trusted.

  14. Wukchumni

    “I Screamed Into My Radio to Ignore the Order”—Pardoned Soldier’s Comrade Still Lives With Guilt of Murdered Civilians The War Horse

    My neighbor was the machine gunner in a tank in the Marines and arrived in country about a week before Tet, and was in Hue when all hell broke loose, and he reckons that he killed between 150 to 200 people in his tour of duty. He used to drink a 12 pack of beer a day to try and forget what he did, but to no avail. He’s been sober about 5 years now.

    The killings come up in vignettes occasionally when we talk, the most recent being 6 villagers about 100 yards away with an equal amount of water buffalo, and he told me the tank commander told him to ‘light em up’ and he protested a little, and said commander practically screamed ‘that’s an order!’ and brrrrrrrrrrp, 2 legs & 4 legs gone in a flash.

    When the Ken Burns Vietnam documentary was on, I asked his wife if they watched it, and she told me “he doesn’t watch anything related to war”.

  15. IM Doc

    I am not sure my previous comment went through – it did not give me the opportunity to edit – so I am typing this out again – I hope it is not a duplicate.

    Internal Medicine Physician here

    About the COVID vaccine video –

    I watched this yesterday in my continuing attempt to remain informed and planning my next moves with my patients regarding this vaccine.

    The video was actually very helpful with many aspects of COVID.

    Unfortunately the vaccine was not one of them. It is largely the same recitation of the pharma ad glossies – this time by a world expert in vaccines. Not much help.

    After much research – the 2 largest potential problems I see with this vaccine are as follows:
    a) Incomplete immunity – is it going to last long? and will it be enough to actually work?
    b) In some patients, there is a possibility it could prime the immune system too much – and wreak havoc up to death when they do get infected – by causing a virulent immune reaction way out of proportion to normal – this has been a problem with many new vaccines in the past.

    The video just glanced problem a – and problem b was not discussed at all. Again not too helpful.

    My biggest concern with the vaccine is now becoming obvious – it is the patients and their perceptions. I am beset daily with questions and comments galore – there are nano-robots in the vaccine, there are bar codes in the vaccine, it is a Chinese plot to take down America, and on and on and on. I have no doubt that more than half my town may never take a vaccine. In that setting, is it worth it to subject the willing to the risk? I have serious qualms about that issue.

    On another note that I really feel needs to be bookmarked into these videos and tweets is Dr. Wachter himself. He is the very definition of neoliberal, corporatist corruption of medicine. THE. VERY. DEFINITION. He is one of the ringleaders of the neoliberal, corporatist, academics who have now taken over my profession. He also has quite a history of corruption. “Shady” is a word that I am not sure is quite enough to describe his actions. His deeds along with many others have been dutifully logged in a website – – over the years. This group of “leaders” is more concerned about profits for the corporations, and mass credentialing than anything else. They are easily identified by the initials after their name – for example – MD FACP FACHE MBA – there are usually at least 15-20 letters. If you have a physician with this behind their name – please for your safety – assume they are corrupted and move on. It is also very likely they have not taken care of real patients since their residency. Their patients are usually paper tigers. Value-based, safe, and efficient patient care is like about #20 on their priority list – despite what their glossies say. I do not trust them. At all. They have done more to destroy the patient-physician relationship than any force in my career. And Dr. Wachter is in the big middle of this. He would never be a good spokesperson for anything important – a large majority of internists in this country – mainly the ones regular people are likely to see as physicians – distrust him to the core of their being. And he has earned every bit of it.

    I am still planning my response to the vaccine. Again – right now – we are in a wait and see pattern. I am not going to encourage it – and for those really wanting it – they will be given a warning about safety. Until we are all provided real numbers and real facts – this is the way it will be.

    1. Lee

      “b) In some patients, there is a possibility it could prime the immune system too much – and wreak havoc up to death when they do get infected – by causing a virulent immune reaction way out of proportion to normal – this has been a problem with many new vaccines in the past.”

      As a CFS/ME patient, this worries me. I’ll bet my CFS/ME specialist at Stanford is also sweating bullets over this one, given that the theory of the disease they subscribe to is that it is caused by an immune system overreaction to a virus that is part of the normal and harmless viral load carried by the great majority of people.

      Because I’m in a position of being able to limit my social interactions, and as I am tired of these strictures, I’m inclined to wait and see for awhile.

    2. Lee

      This reply is lost somewhere in the system so I’ll give it another shot.

      “b) In some patients, there is a possibility it could prime the immune system too much – and wreak havoc up to death when they do get infected – by causing a virulent immune reaction way out of proportion to normal – this has been a problem with many new vaccines in the past.”

      As a CFS/ME patient, this worries me. I’ll bet my CFS/ME specialist at Stanford is also sweating bullets over this one, given that the theory of the disease they subscribe to is that it is caused by an immune system overreaction to a virus that is part of the normal and harmless viral load carried by the great majority of people.

      Because I’m in a position of being able to limit my social interactions, and as I am tired of these strictures, I’m inclined to wait and see for awhile.

    3. MarkT

      Reposting what I said above :

      Thanks for sharing your views re the vaccine. I’m not a medical scientist but am equally concerned for exactly the reasons you mention. I am an atmospheric scientist who has watched the corporatisation of every organisation I’ve worked in, with the general result that the worst amongst us now call the shots.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “Apple is lobbying against a bill aimed at stopping forced labor in China”

    Maybe somebody should have a quiet word to Apple and point out that if they move their facilities to the eastern part of the country, then they can take advantage of all those places staffed by North Korean slave labourers. No unions, no trouble, no backchat, no complaints, minimum wages for the workers. Apple would love it.

    1. David

      Apple has no “factories” in China, and of course the law will do nothing to stop forced labour there. I admit I actually laughed when I read the first lines of the story:

      “The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act would require U.S. companies to guarantee they do not use imprisoned or coerced workers from the predominantly Muslim region of Xinjiang, where academic researchers estimate the Chinese government has placed more than 1 million people into internment camps.”

      In other words it’s the usual performative posturing to look good, and be seen to make faces at China. Of all the unattractive features of the US political system, none, perhaps is worse than the arrogance and egotism of supposing that US laws can and should influence the rest of the world, and that somehow requiring lots of companies (not just Apple) to sign a piece of paper saying that none of their contractors or sub-contractors or sub-sub-contractors makes use of slave labour will actually change anything. Since that’s impossible to guarantee, then at the first rumour affecting a company that anyone has heard of, there’ll be calls for enquiries, fines, new laws etc. none of which will have the remotest effect on Chinese policy, but will mean lots of free publicity and TV appearances for politicians and anti-China pundits. Maybe they should start by looking at working conditions in their own country.

      1. Alex Cox

        Apparently US law does apply all over the world, regardless of what other countries may think.

        Otherwise Julian Assange would not be incarcerated in Belmarsh, suffering through Mme Justice Baritser’s show trial, before being found guilty (of breaking US laws abroad) and sentenced to life imprisonment in a Colorado SuperMax.

      2. Clem


        “To create change, we have to reexamine our own views and actions in light of a pain that is deeply felt but too often ignored. Issues of human dignity will not abide standing on the sidelines. To the Black community — we see you. You matter and your lives matter.”

        But those funny hat wearing Chinese people? That’s different.

        1. polecat

          Expropriatingly phony Big Corpses are just the worst, aren’t they? .. smelling to highmarket heaven as they d..

          The maggots have to feed, no?

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          BLACK LIVES MATTER AT APPLE: if they are rich enough to buy every newest I-thingie every time we release it.

    2. Glen

      As death devastates El Paso, prisoners stem overflow from morgue

      This California inmate fought the state’s wildfires. Now he faces deportation

      Maybe we should look a little closer to home for this type of reform. US prisoners are being used essentially as “slave labor” in more and more places in the US.

    3. Ook

      “The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act would require U.S. companies to guarantee they do not use imprisoned or coerced workers”

      Am I the only one who reads this and thinks the US prison industrial complex must be feeling the competition?

      1. Count Zero

        I suppose the millions of people on zero-hours contracts or who work for barely more than subsistence are not “coerced workers”. They are free to sell their labour in the market for the best price they can get or starve.

  17. notabanker

    “We appreciate that the government has chosen Microsoft and are eager to serve as an integral partner in supporting its overall mission,” a Microsoft spokesperson told Nextgov in a statement. ”

    “IBM is proud to further its collaboration with the U.S. federal government with this strategic award to provide the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) with IBM’s hybrid cloud flexibility and sophisticated security features to support mission-critical workloads”

    “Oracle is privileged to continue and expand its support of the U.S. Intelligence Community”

    “this award builds on recent federal momentum for Google Cloud with NOAA, the U.S. Department of Energy, Defense Innovation Unit, U.S. Navy, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, U.S. Small Business Administration, and more.”

    “We are honored to continue to support the intelligence community as they expand their transformational use of cloud computing….an AWS Spokesperson told Nextgov in a statement. ”

    Yeah, about that anti-trust noise……… We’re all competing, see!

    1. griffen

      Skynet is very pleased to partner with the US Government in their ongoing pursuit of a comprehensive, expansive consumption of every last bit of data yet uncollected or analyzed.

      The Ministry of Truthiness will be a source of collective good.

    2. TomDority

      Because AI has the ability to prosses huge data sets, that it can make small claims using legal boilerplate that before took at least a couple hours to compile and validate- now done in miliseconds or less – with cost measured in cents and dollars instead of hundreds or thousands of dollars. Because AI is being deployed in many sectors . I put to you that Mankind is setting the scenario where Mankind itself is putting itself in a cage or in legal and financial (slavery) to its own inventions at law – that being corporations and their intents and interests (good and bad) and the AI that is operating at little human oversight, at little human understanding.
      AI can now pursue payments for things that it may not have standing (due to some oversight or intent of programmers hoping AI can fill the void between the end state desired by the programming and where their understanding about how to get there is short)
      So a court case for collection of monies can be boilerplated by AI – signed by a human filer as to truthfullness of the boilerplate (not underlying principles of standing ) for amounts so small that a court of equity would not understand why anyone would want to defend against such a small claim. Even before a filing – AI would be billing to establish veracity of a claim that might not have one on its own. AI of course is using its language (digital) which so happens coincides with dollars and accounting etc. Therefore it’s keeping score – Like how much gain – offset by fines, penalties, sanctions etal will be had at the end…. and what is good enough to continue (possibly illegal paths) to profits – 10%, 20%, 40% –
      And if they are let to get away with it… in case law they are self re-enforcing their positions and soon or already – its already making its way into FASB, International accounting standards and other reaches of the legal, governmental, political landscapes around the globe including areas notabanker points out above.
      AI is a rouge entity – unleashed by man, unconstrained by mans empathy, moral code, religious edicts and beliefs or any other moral constraint – it is not embued by concience – something I think Jefferson had commented about regarding Corporations.
      So yea, AI is good if directed to good and bad if directed by bad – left to its own devices – it has no capability of understanding the difference between right and wrong!!!!

  18. Wukchumni

    ZERMATT, Switzerland, Nov 21 (Reuters) – Blue skies over the Matterhorn drew skiers and snowboarders to Zermatt on Saturday, as well as police to break up crowds, as Switzerland’s modest coronavirus restrictions allowed near-normal operations while other Alpine resorts keep their lifts shut.

    France, Italy, Austria and Germany have all ordered even the high-altitude lifts that could be running this early in the winter to remain closed for now in the hope that all resorts can benefit at peak-season, if and when the infection rate slows.

    Switzerland, despite being a second-wave coronavirus hotspot with 5,000 infections a day and mounting deaths, is hoping that a middle way of social distancing, limits on gatherings and mask-wearing on lifts can prop up pillars of the economy such as tourism without fueling the pandemic.

    As far as I can tell, not one ski resort in the USA is planning on staying closed up in a wait and see stance such as France, Italy, Austria & Germany are.

    It’s all about the Benjamins…

  19. meadows

    I will take a vaccine only after every member of Congress has taken it… and verified it’s efficacy.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I’m reminded of a story about the aftermath of the Three Mile Island accident when TV interviewed a local who was returning to her house. She was asked ‘how are you so sure its safe?’. She said ‘I know its safe because the President visited. If it was dangerous, they’ve have sent the Vice President’. A wise woman. Although I’ve a funny feeling that it might be the opposite situation with a Biden presidency, if Kamala has any say in it…..

    2. edmondo

      I will take a vaccine only after every member of Congress has taken it

      What makes you think that they are getting the same vaccine as you are? I’m gonna pass to see how many grow a third eye before i get the shot.

      1. Oh

        The Congress Critters would gladly want the vaccine if they could be assured that they’d grow a third hand that will be handy (pun intended) to take more graft.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          “Governor Newsome, if you take this vaccine no one will gripe when you go to a $350 a seat dinner after telling people to wear masks and not go anywhere.”

          This might work. This is a win win win.

  20. The Rev Kev

    “Azerbaijani leader hails handover of region ceded by Armenia”

    The Azerbaijani leader may be celebrating but the Armenian leader keeps on stuffing things up for himself. There is a Russian delegation, including Prime Minister Sergey Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu (the two Sergeys) in Armenia at the moment to help establish a peace and ensure that Armenia does not lose even more than they have. It was noticed in the negotiation room where the Armenian and Russian delegations were talking, there was an Armenian flag but no courtesy Russian flag as they had ‘forgot’. That Armenian PM Pashinyan, I predict, will lead his country into even more trouble down the road.

  21. Wukchumni

    The devil in the details went down to Georgia.
    He was lookin’ for votes to steal.
    He was in a bind ’cause he was way behind.
    He was willing to make a deal
    When he came across this lawyer figurin’ up a fiddle and playin’ it hot.
    And said devil jumped upon a rally stump and said “Girl, tell me what you got?.”

    “I bet you didn’t know it, but I like to fiddle, too.
    And if you’d care to take a dare I’ll make a bet with you.
    Now you play a pretty good fiddle, girl, but give the devil his due.
    I’ll bet a fiddle of stole against your soul ’cause I think I’m better than you.”

    The girl said, “My name’s Sidney, and it might be a sin,
    But I’ll take your bet
    And you’re gonna regret ’cause I’m the best lawyer there’s ever been.”

    Sidney, rosin up your bow and play your fiddle hard.
    ‘Cause Hell’s broke loose in Georgia and the devil has run out of cards.
    And if you win this shiny fiddle you get a cabinet role,
    But if you lose the devil gets your soul.

    The devil stated his case and he said, “I’ll start this show.”
    And fire flew from his lips as sweat formed on his brow.
    And he agitated all the right wings and they made an evil hiss.
    And a band of demons joined in and it sounded something like this.

    When the devil finished, Sidney said, “Well, you’re pretty good ol’ son,
    But sit down in that chair right there and let me show you how it’s done.”

    “Liar on the Mountain.” Run, boys, run!
    The devil’s in the details
    Chicken’s in the White House raising dough
    Did he win though, no”

    The devil bowed his head because he knew that he’d been beat.
    And he laid a retainer’s fee on the ground at Sidney’s feet.
    Sidney said, “devil, just come on back if you ever wanna try again,
    ‘Cause I’ve told you once–you son of a bitch–I’m the best there’s ever been.”
    And he’d been played:

    “Liar on the Mountain.” Run, boys, run!
    The devil’s in the details
    Chicken’s in the White House raising dough
    Did he win though, no”

    1. Lee

      If the quaternary mass extinction is anything to go on, megafauna do not fare well against anatomically modern humans armed with projectile weapons. Microbes, OTOH, are harder to spear or shoot. While climate change and human hunting are often cited as major contributing causes of that extinction event, the role of microbial pathogens being released from cold induced dormancy is less often discussed. Perhaps more evidence of such will soon be coming to a theatre near you, me, and everybody else.

      “It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there.”

      1. Phacops

        Rather than extinction, I think the time to look at is the great invasion of North American mammals into South America when the isthmus opened up. While replacement of Marsupials is a culprit, the introduction of new diseases cannot be discounted.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I doubt deep frozen microbes should be of as great concern as the future prospects for fungi in the warmer moister world of the future.

  22. Krystyn Podgajski

    The flamingo’s are pretty but I wish they would not stress them out by flying a drone over them for our amusement. The grouping behavior is a sigh that they think they are being preyed upon.

  23. Wukchumni

    Day 19 of the ‘I Ran Hostage Crisis’

    The Mullahs of Invention have been hard at it, as suppression is not easy when pitted against judges that can see through their flimsy arguments, and in a battle of the Hawzas versus the have nots, the outcome is clear-yet murky.

  24. chuck roast

    Protesters March…in Colombia

    No matter what, no matter where, the framing is always the same. Three-hundred thousand march in DC against a made-up war in Iraq…there is the photo of some old geezer and his grand daughter walking down Pennsylvania Avenue. “Thousands” of leftists march for human rights in the streets of many cities of Official American Toady Colombia, and there it is…a photo of one guy holding his fist up. OTOH here we have a wide-angle shot of a few hundred Trumpistas in a “yuge” rally where thousands were expected. The official media organs are always predictable and always with us. They can be found at the lower end of the intestines.

  25. Wukchumni

    ADM, InnovaFeed to build world’s biggest insect protein plant in Illinois Reuters
    Fly lent green?

  26. Wukchumni

    The evangs have been yammering for political power since the USA really started going downhill and finally nabbed the brass ring in a big way…

    How will they react to being shut out, all of the sudden?

  27. timbers

    “US President Donald Trump announced, during Friday remarks at the White House, two “groundbreaking” rules to lower drug prices, that, according to him, will “save American seniors millions of dollars” in the cost of prescription drugs.

    The first rule, Trump said, will require drug discounts be passed on directly to patients, instead of using what he termed “middlemen”. The second rule will price prescription drugs for Medicare based on the lowest price paid by other countries.”

    Oh gee wonder why Obama never did this…in all seriousness wonder why Trump did do this years ago instead of waiting until he reaps no benefit?

    But don’t know if these rules are legal. So many of his were not. Hopefully they are.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      As to Trump, he’s like Shrub in that I think being the last person the room is likely to win every debate within the Trump circle. So there are probably 3 factions: you are still the president, GOP types expecting to be back in 2024 with Hailey or Hawley, and people really disliked in DC circles who are done with politics who want revenge.

      The first group is away from the WH, the second group is out the door, and the third group is now feeding Trump. Take away Biden’s easy wins or force Biden into a situation where Biden tries to undo a good executive order. Biden is pretty stupid. He might try this.

      1. Samuel Conner

        > Take away Biden’s easy wins or force Biden into a situation where Biden tries to undo a good executive order. Biden is pretty stupid. He might try this.

        Sort of like a “poison pill”; pardon the pun.

        It’s a bit disheartening to think that policies that benefit a broad swath of society are only appealing for the political damage they can do to the other side.

        I understand that “politics ain’t bean bag”, but I wish it were a bit different from “guerilla warfare.”

    2. Oh

      Cynical as I am, I was trying to figure out Drump’s motive here. PhRMa is angry with him for this. Is that posturing or for real. We’ll never know. Bide n will undo all of Drump’s execitive orders quietly and these two will not even get a mention.

      1. Samuel Conner

        > and these two will not even get a mention.

        I suspect that DJT will not go away quietly and remain quiet after he has gone away. He likes the media attention too much; even the unfavorable attention provides opportunities to diss his critics and stir up his supporters.

        If JB does undo EOs that benefit significant numbers of people, it is to my mind almost certain that these actions will be noticed by DJT, tweeted on, and taken up by his “base.”

        An alternative interpretation is that perhaps this is “vengeance” not on individual political actors, but on the pharma industry itself, which didn’t sufficiently — sufficient to change the outcome — cooperate with timely (ie, pre-election) favorable news about vaccines and therapies.

        But on that theory, DJT would still want the policies to remain in place, and would still have a motive to draw attention to changes in them by JB.


        The thought occurs to echo St Paul in the first chapter of his letter to the church at Philippi, and rejoice that, “whether from false motives or true, concrete material benefits policies are promulgated”

    3. grayslady

      Trump’s executive order is practically identical to a bill put forth by Elijah Cummings that has had 7 actions taken on it in the house but has still not passed. Be aware that Trump’s executive order has an effective date of January, 2022. Kabuki theater, as far as I’m concerned. Although I support the idea, I doubt we’ll ever see it come to fruition.

  28. Wukchumni

    Panic buying of toilet paper hits U.S. stores again with new pandemic restrictions Reuters
    You’ll know how desperate things are when people start resorting to 1-ply Washingtons or in a moment of true duress, Lincolns.

    1. polecat

      They can at least be uh, laundered … and reused again and again.

      No point in clogging up the pipes.

  29. Mikerw0

    I’ll go there.

    If a key tenet of modern orthodoxy in the elite political class is to not use government resources to reward bad behavior, then why would we give states that are denying any effort to contain the virus a penny. No help, or aid, for their overrun hospitals, no government PPE, no vaccines if they actually work, etc.

    If we had to fight WWII where certain states had said we are America Firsters, and therefore don’t have to participate, how would that have gone?

    Also, if the neoliberals really believe their rhetoric , then shouldn’t the market determine who gets back? If you can afford it you get it.

    1. Wukchumni

      If we had to fight WWII where certain states had said we are America Firsters, and therefore don’t have to participate, how would that have gone?

      That would be Quebec in WW2 and the French-Canadians who were referred to as ‘Zombies’.

      The “Zombies” were so-called because they were soldiers who could not fight in the war, making them like the reanimated corpses from Haitian mythology who were neither alive nor dead, but rather somewhere in-between. The “Zombies” were widely hated by the men who had volunteered for overseas service and were referred to as cowards.

    2. Glen

      Very, very bad assumption about that “will not use government resources to reward bad behavior”. Here’s some information on the 2008 bailouts:

      Bailout Costs vs Big Historical Events

      “In just about one short year (March 2008 – March 2009), the bailouts managed to spend far in excess of nearly every major one time expenditure of the USA, including WW1&2 (omitted from graphic), the moon shot, the New Deal, total NASA budgets (omitted from graphic), Iraq, Viet Nam and Korean wars — COMBINED.

      206 years versus 12 months. Total cost: ~$15 trillion and counting . . .”

      Since then, the Fed has dumped at zero interest over $35 TRILLION into Wall St.

      The elites HAVE NORMALIZED using government resources FOR THEM. You, judging by the fact that you are unaware of this (as are almost all Americans) have been told “WE DON’T DO THIS”.

      Sorry, but how so obviously do you have Wall St going great while the country goes down the tubes? Simple, they get free money and you don’t.

  30. DJG

    A few weeks back, Henry Moon Pie posted one of the columns by Indi Samarajiva, “I Lived through Collapse.” I found that article and read Samarajiva’s two linked articles.

    What Samarajiva writes is that, for much of his life, Sri Lanka was in civil war and collapse. The war lasted from 1983 to 2009, and the recovery since then has been steady, slow, and uneven. Freedom of the press in Sri Lanka is still impaired.

    The central message is: Once things go to hell, they don’t return to something viable in one season.

    Speaking of 1983, the U S of A has been in economic decline–in the sense of worsening distribution of wealth, rising Gini quotient, and declining wages and living conditions, since the Reagan administration. Let us not forget that one of the red-letter achievements of Saint Ronnie was busting the air-traffic controllers union.

    That’s forty years. Now, bridges are falling down. Evictions are up. The minimum wage is a starvation wage. “Right to work” laws reign supreme. So: Just to repair the economy would take us years and years.

    Add to that twenty years of political emergency, oh-so-conveniently tied to external threats and the war on terror. We have the Patriot Act, suppression of Occupy Wall Street, the surveillance state, Hillary Clinton’s private server (with the 30,000 missing e-mails about yoga that sparked Jill Stein to ask, Did she do any work?), endless war in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen. Oh, and our continuing whatever-it-is with Iran.

    So give the three columns a read. Sobering. You may think that you have the right grouse about wearing a mask this winter–but if you see collapse from Samarajiva’s perspective, you’re going to be wearing a mask for the next ten years.

  31. BobW

    I was coming out of a business on a busy street in a mid-sized town when a cat threw himself at my feet and began rolling on my shoes. No way I was going to leave him out on this street to get run over. Took him to a vet who ran a chip, said he was a catch-neuter-release cat, and was about one year old.
    I’ve had him for three years now and he is the most affectionate cat I ever saw. Approaching, but not quite, too needy. Worst habit is waking me up at 5:30 to announce morning.

  32. Alex Cox

    Re. The Uniqueness of Mammals – very nice article.

    But the author is a mammal, right? And thus I suspect a certain prejudice on his part.

    Mammals are newcomers on the planet. Amphibians, fish, insects, crustaceans and reptiles have been around for a lot longer. So they do things differently. Being newer and more numerous we tend to view ourselves as the top of the tree.

    But consider reptiles. They have been around for hundreds, not tens of millions of years. Being cold-blooded, they are vastly more efficient than mammals – as they do not need to eat continually so as to maintain a constant body temperature. They are able to slow down their metabolisms based on the circumstances; so in the absence of food they do not necessarily starve. Humans, dogs and other mammals go blind, in part due to the sun’s harsh blue light (a serious design error); reptiles have amber filters on their rods and cones to protect their eyesight (snakes actually have an amber lens which slides over their eyes like sunglasses).

    When the author writes, “The Psittacidae (parrots) appear to have some mammalian behaviours. They exhibit play, learning through modelling, interspecies bonding and kissing and certain species are highly regarded for their intelligence” he is referring to animals which are far closer to reptiles than to mammals. Since they willingly interact with humans (which most birds and reptiles don’t) perhaps we are seeing in parrots and crows examples of deep reptilian behaviour which mammals have come to emulate.

    And don’t get me started on the anthropomorphic stuff I’ve seen western fence lizards get up to…

  33. Koldmilk

    Big Pharma Is Always Good That’s Just Science Eschaton:

    …it isn’t being ANTI-SCIENCE or DANGEROUS DENIALISM to not think a couple of press releases means the problem is definitely safely solved.

    A reminder (not that this community needs it) of Big Pharma’s priorities:
    Big Pharma could supply the whole world with a COVID vaccine. They’ve chosen not to Salon:

    Pharma companies have received billions of dollars to research these vaccines with the hopes of making even more billions of dollars in return. If patents are broken and generics manufactures can produce vaccines at will, the Big Pharma companies stand to lose profit. The governments and health bodies (looking at you, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) that bankrolled these pharma companies with billions of dollars had a choice. They could have stipulated clearly and transparently in their contracts with these drug companies that all patents for COVID-19 are to be publicly owned and available to all. They could have — they just chose not to.

  34. Mike

    On “Americans Deserve the Truth, Even If It’s Unpleasant”:

    One other simple way to tell that this is BS. If they could move votes to Biden, why didn’t they move enough votes to clearly take the Senate, or expand the lead in the House for that matter?

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      To answer that maybe we should get a chance to look at the ballots in the discovery phase in a courtroom. Mail-in ballots that have a sole bullet vote for Biden at the top and no creases that show they were ever folded into an envelope might be, I dunno, one reason. Whether such ballots were then passed through a vote counting machine multiple times outside the view of inspectors might be, I dunno, another reason. Let’s find out.

    2. Tom Doak

      The genius of the Dem strategy of courting suburban Republicans [h/t Chuck Schumer] is that suburban Republicans might vote for Biden, but they were definitely gonna vote for Republicans in the Congress as a counter-balance to the Dems.

      Thus giving the Dems four more years of blaming Republicans for gridlock.

  35. Wukchumni

    Port of Los Angeles Reports Busiest Month Ever on Loaded Imports, Empty Exports gCaptain
    The dirty little secret that the lions share of what we were sending China was recyclables is laid bare.

    Good deal though, we sent them trash and they send us consumer goods that’ll be trash in 6 months to a year from purchase. Now they don’t even care that they get nothing for the effort.

  36. Rick in Oregon

    Re: COVID data – I’m no ‘hero’ but have accumulated the state data from the Oregon Health Authority which isn’t easily available from any online source I’ve found.

    Mike The Mad Biologist occasionally posts data about prevalence in D.C. but would be interesting to see other states’ prevalence data, especially at the level of county or other smaller regions.

    Coronavirus prevalence in Oregon

    The animations of prevalence over the course of the epidemic are revealing. What once were big anxiety inducing bumps are now ignored.

    Oregon has also found a way to halve it’s test positivity number: count all tests, not people tested.

    1. jef

      Rick – I have yet to see any “data” on “cases” that includes PCR cycle counts. WIthout this all of these graphs are meaningless as the difference of 10 or even 5 cycles in any tests make them apples and oranges.

      1. furies

        I know, right? 250,000 people dead–pfffft! It means nothing! It’s just the flu, bro!

        There’s that whataboutism again~

  37. juno mas

    RE: Fogged Glasses while using mask.

    Using baby shampoo to put a surface film on your glasses to prevent fogging is also an option.

    As an ocean swimmer I use it (and sometimes a commercial product) to keep my cold water goggles clear so that I can see landmark guide points in the distance; and potential, proximate ocean predators in the near water.

  38. jcmcdonal

    Exponential curves don’t account for changed behaviours as a result of seeing the curves. People will get concerned if cases are low and that can have a huge effect.

    Unfortunately this means MSM panic induction may actually be a benefit wrt infections.

    1. ambrit

      Sorry, but Raul Julia is no longer available for the ‘pivotal’ role in the proposed “Off Colour Revolution.”
      Anyway, why would Trump really want to be the President who will be completely overwhelmed by a pandemic and economic collapse? His best strategy is to stay “on the sidelines” constantly sniping away at Biden and Team Dem. Payback for the Russiagate hoax that just about crippled his administration.
      The next few years in America are going to be horrible.
      Turnabout is fair play.

        1. ambrit

          If the ‘controversial’ formulation that the two parties are but two sides of the same debased coin holds true, then that should be; “…and it was premediated.”
          A heretical thought: could Bernie Sanders have signed a “Non Compete” clause when he associated himself with the Democrat party? That would explain a lot.
          As for the charge that I “slay” you, well, you are in a defensible position up on a Lonely Mountain and think that you have left the smaug behind. Oh boy! Talk about the Kiss of the Spider Woman!
          However, as the Adjuncts say about Modern Times; “It’s tutorials all the way down.”

  39. Sailor Bud

    Tweet of the day, Ilhan Omar:

    “Tell me a story about a time your health insurance company did something terrible or inexplicable to you.

    Tell me a story about a time your health insurance company made your life more difficult.”

    Many, many replies with appalling stories demonstrating a cruel system, and of course some ton of the “what is health insurance?” variety, from those going without.

  40. Mikel

    RE: Brexit

    Emotions? It’s just being emotional to have ither ideas now…wow.
    TINA on steriods.

    Note: this comment is not an endorsement of any politician…anywhere in the world..

  41. Cuibono

    Japan:”while Tokyo saw a near-record 522 cases..”

    can you imagine ? that would be like LA having 211 cases yesterday instead of 4,400 cases…


  42. dcblogger

    Biden is much worse than I thought he would be, and I thought he would be terrible

    I am not going to shut down the economy, period,” Biden said at a press conference. “I’m going to shut down the virus.

    complete denial as to what we are up against, and clearly no sense of urgency.

  43. ChrisPacific

    An advantage of New Zealand’s managed isolation and testing for new arrivals is that it makes it possible to test for Covid transmission paths on planes:

    Seven cases (out of 86 passengers) linked to the flight, four of whom are thought to have caught it during the flight from one index case, who tested negative prior to the flight and was contagious but pre-symptomatic while on board. Results call into question a DoD study in October which claimed you’d need to sit next to an infected person for 54 hours to catch it on a plane (the flight in question was 18 hours). Also occurred despite strict masking protocols (which, as the article points out, are difficult to maintain for that length of time).

    1. rowlf

      In case my earlier reply got et up. The US DoD should have a lot of data as they have been flying a lot of personnel around on large chartered international airliners throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

      I can’t figure out who has reliable analysis.

      1. ChrisPacific

        Possibly not that inconsistent after all. DoD study was only for the case where everybody was masked all the time. From an article I found:

        Significantly, the study did not examine the risk posed by the virus spreading in larger droplets that people can spread when eating or talking. Nor did it look at risks involved in getting to the airport and waiting to board a plane.

        On an 18 hour flight there would have been multiple meals, so if that’s when the transmission occurred then it would be consistent with both studies. (The infected passengers were all within a few rows of the index case, so the airport/boarding transmission idea seems less likely).

        There have been few studies looking at real-world cases, with scientists hampered by limited testing and contact tracing and the difficulty of pinning down the moment of infection with a virus that incubates over several days.

        This is where New Zealand flights are useful, because everybody goes straight into 2 weeks of managed isolation when they arrive, and if they test positive they are quarantined and the genome sequenced. So it allows for naturally controlled experiments with much higher quality data, albeit many fewer data points (as you note).

  44. Mikel

    “MSM Already Helping Next Administration Hide Corruption Under ‘Diversity’ Banner” Caitlin Johnstone

    Go long on warmongering.
    The next Great War will be under a banner of alleged “diversity.”

    1. Clem

      Didn’t we invade Kandahar to “save the girls of Afghanistan?

      Note to Lambert, I’ve seen lots of Cloudfare error messages when trying to even read the site. Their graphic oks my browser and Cloudfare and blames it on the host site, for what it’s worth.

  45. polecat

    So Right. Diversity of the possibility of ‘enhansed, widespread radiation treatments’ ….

    That’ll surely kill the Peace Virus.

    1. ambrit

      Oh boy.
      My worst case scenario is that a certain Middle Eastern Theocracy uses atomic warheads against a rival Middle Eastern Theocracy, and an affiliated Middle Eastern mixed model state supplies the aggrieved party with a few nukes on the sly to “return the favour.”
      Then, there is the Samson Option.

  46. jr

    So I just got around to reading the Caitlin Johnstone piece and I think this pretty much sums up my reaction:

    This is beyond doublethink or whatever, it’s institutional schizophrenia. I don’t think a critique is warranted or even helpful; I’m going to go do the dishes.

    Please, will the Others show themselves. Please.

  47. lobelia

    Continuing from a post I made regarding Ezekiel [Zeke – Why I Hope to Die at 75] Emanuel on Lamberts 02/20/20 Water Cooler ( ).

    Currently, per :

    Zeke’s Active Venture Capital Investments:

    Oncology Analytics©

    Zeke’s prior investments:

    Aspire Health© (acquired by Anthem, Inc.)

    Aspire Health© reminds me of how non profit BC/A (fill in the missing spaces, as I’m rightfully terrified of the Monsters who ‘oversee’ it) headquartered in S.F., CA, despite acknowledging an ASAP copy of my recently deceased parent’s death certificate, turned around a month later and attempted an autopay of my parent’s obscenely near $1,000 20% Medicare coverage premium. The only reason they didn’t get away with it with the utterly corrupt bank was that my by then impoverished parent did not have that amount left in their bank account. NO APOLOGIES GIVEN, though they did acknowledge the error after I spent 24 or more solid hours undoing their ‘error’ in horror at the evil impunity of it all (just for one – my local California state rep was totally unmoved at that news; and I certainly couldn’t afford, and have come to utterly distrust, legal representation (more than once burnt)), as my parent’s increasingly impoverished – since 911™ and Red/Blue Bush/Obomber – executor.

    Doo doo the search on the three of those Zeke Emanuel Gold Mines (I don’t want to overdoo the links).


    Also, my prayers for Yasha and Evgenia. I could write volumes on how sadistically renters who cannot afford homes (despite their wisdom, abilities, kindness, and intelligence) have been historically treated. Just for one example, how is it that so many not in their shoes seem to think it is a simple matter to lose a home, what if their mortgager decided on a whim, despite all payments being current, that they had to leave their HOME????????????

    That absence, of walking a mile in another’s shoes, is no thanks at all to our famous Free Press who at least used to post articles about how traumatic it is, on countless levels, to move, PARTICULARLY BY FORCE. I’ve noticed, for over a decade now, that same Free Press denying that age old reality that moving is one of the most stressful things a person might have to endure (LEASTWISE DURING A MASSIVE PANDEMIC, with no affordable housing in sight in California in Yasha and Evgenias’ case). The era of forced permanent transience, despair –way too many times, a consequent premature death – for the masses.


    Apologies, I won’t be able to follow up on any responses, I am living on time that’s being rapidly drained with daily blows and increasing internet access crashes and obsolescence threats without any reliable cash accepted computer repair/internet access assistance. I use no plastic – not so long ago, that was a choice I made for incredibly valid reasons – since Obama’s Great(™) Recession™, and then my subsequent cancer diagnosis while uninsured, it became something I could not undo, leastwise afford, despite supposedly living in one of the most Progressive and Blue™zip codes on the face of the earth.

    1. ambrit

      Words fail to convey our empathy.
      We have Medicare for Phyl’s cancer and then amputation bills, and ‘they’ are still ‘threatening’ to impoverish us.
      You are not alone. Keep that knowledge close by when you despair. You are not alone.

      1. furies

        O lobelia (lovely name!)

        Great rant. As ambrit above says, you are not alone.

        I get tired of stereotypes of what a ‘renter’ is. Thank you for being so articulate.

  48. Lex

    Read this in The Coloradoan today, published on Friday. This is in regard to the county east of us.

    ‘The state of Colorado on Thursday flagged Weld County as one among a dozen or so that will move up to the “red” level on its COVID-19 dial, which outlines different levels of restrictions based on current conditions within a county.

    But the Weld County commissioners on Friday said they would not adhere to the state’s restrictions, the Greeley Tribune reported.

    “The county will not enforce a rule confining individuals to their homes for an undetermined length of time,” the statement said. “The county will not enforce a rule that states residents cannot have personal gatherings; the county will not tell the school districts how to provide education to their students; the county will not enforce a rule requiring a reduction of attendees in places of worship; the county will not enforce a rule demanding restaurants close their indoor dining areas; the county will not enforce any rule that forces a business to shut down or impedes their ability to operate.”

    “Instead, county government continues to do what it has done since March, which is promote and encourage residents and business owners to take individual responsibility and make decisions to protect themselves, their families, their communities and their businesses,” the statement reads.’

    Are there rules? Sure. They just won’t enforce any of them, rendering them useless.

    1. ambrit

      This sets up a new stage in the political drama surrounding the Dreaded Pandemic.
      The State should be able to use public health as a legal means of imposing martial law in that county, using the State National Guard to enforce the State’s mandates.
      Otherwise, some enterprising lawyer could, if possible, convince an ambitious District Attorney to charge the members of the County Commission with murder or manslaughter when a few locals succumb to the Coronavirus after the two week interval.
      I can see the next cycle of County Commissioner political campaign ads in my mind’s eye.
      Incumbent’s ad: “We kept our people working and protected our freedoms!”
      Opponent’s ad: “The incumbent is a cold blooded murderer!”
      Where is the “point of no return” for America?

  49. Clem

    “with no affordable housing in sight in California.”

    Just curious, did you vote for Gavin Newsom who made California a sanctuary state and handed free medical care to other nation’s undocumented migrants?

    “5.6 million immigrants in California (52 percent) had naturalized as of 2018, and 2.2 million immigrants were eligible to become naturalized U.S. citizens in 2017.”

    Add to that how many ineligible to be naturalized?

    Taking the old Spanish salutation “Mi casa es su casa” “Make yourself at home”
    and change it around to

    “Su casa barata es mia”
    “Your affordable house is mine.”

    Wonder how much low cost housing at a bare minimum 7.8 million people occupy?

    1. Glen

      Rents are high because Wall St has decided buying housing and charging excessive rents is one more good way to squeeze the last drop of blood out of the American middle and lower class.

      The Fed has dumped TRILLIONS into Wall St and that money is out there seeking/creating high returns thru private equity hedge funds, etc. There is no good return in American manufacturing anymore, it’s all been picked clean, outsourced, surpassed by China, etc. There is no more money to be made in oil/fracking, the bottom has dropped out of the market so Wall St has decided to jack up rent and healthcare (PE is behind “surprise billing” outbreak in health care). Over 30% of the homes being sold around me are NOT being bought by families, it’s PE and Wall St.

      Then they can charge and arm and a leg to everybody, including those poor people you mention.

      Believe me, if any state is handing out anything FREE right now, it would be flooded with people, but all the states are going broke. Their taxes depend on local business and that is down, down, down. And data indicates that people are LEAVING California and going to Arizona and Texas.

      The only people getting money right now are the corporations, Wall St and the billionaires. The Fed was up to about a BILLION a DAY. And that was on top of the TRILLIONS the US government approved.

  50. Darthbobber

    So now Mark Halperin gets to do things like interview Sidney Powell on Newsmax. I guess the comeback’s only going about so well.

  51. Wukchumni

    Drove by a restaurant in Visalia that I frequented for the last 15 years and they never lacked for customers, as they had good food & service. There was no place for outside seating and take out wouldn’t have worked, it wasn’t their deal. A dozen people earned their living working there.

    There was a bright & shiny ‘For Lease’ sign out in front of it.

    1. griffen

      I suppose they’ll take the advice from Rahm , or Larry Summers…learn to code ? Here ye lads, some bootstraps for wee troubles and such.

      Sarcasm not intended. Small business is getting swallowed, pick your damn poison.

      1. Glen

        Did you see earlier this year where Larry Summers was shocked, shocked to learn we could not make the chemicals required for CV testing in the US anymore? Talk about being out of touch with what your own polices actually do to the country…

        I hear he’s pretty smart unlike that chowder head Rahm, maybe he could learn to code. Oh, I take that back, apparently he lost some of Havard’s money on Wall St:

        Summers Fired Whistleblower & Lost Harvard Billions

        “Harvard reported losing $8 billion but real losses may be $18 billion, half of Harvard’s endowment. Before he was fired, Larry Summers directed Harvard’s endowment fund managers to invest in derivatives and risky investments that they were unqualified to manage. Now Harvard Crimson reports that he fired the derivatives expert who blew the whistle on the mismanagement of Harvard’s endowment. Instead of fixing the problem bad investments directed by Summers himself ended up costing Harvard billions.”

        OK, so they’re both too stupid code. Lucky for them, $crewing the American people is a lot easier.

    2. fresno dan

      November 22, 2020 at 6:58 pm
      That is just heartbreaking. But it is not as dramatic as a forest fire, earthquake, or hurricane. Just so many, many people without income, in a society talks safety net, but one that has less safety net year after year after year.

  52. Brunches with Cats

    Sampling of children’s letters to Dr. Fauci:

    Dear Dr. Fowchee,

    My frends say there is no Santa Claus and make fun of me becuz I beleev in him. Mommy is always telling everebody that you are a good example becuz you teach peeples to beleeve in siense. Can you send me some sientific proofs that Santa is reel so I can make my frends stop being mean to me. Thank you in advance.

    Michael from California
    Dear Doctor Fauchi,

    Could you ask Santa to drop off a blood sample when he flies over your office so you can study how to give innate immunity to all the peoples of the world. If its not too much truble, could you make sure my mommy gets it first? She works in a hospital and I am afraid she is going to get covid and die.

    Suzie in Smithville
    Deer Dr Fasci,

    Why shud I beleeve wat you say about Santa? You told evrybody that masks dont work. Then wen you said evrybody needs to start waring masks my Daddy said you are a liar. Daddy says guvermint is trying to kill peeple like wen he and Unkel Frank shoots extra deers becuz too many gits to be pests. Is guvermint paying Santa to spred kuronaviris to kill all of us little childrens?

    Jonah P.
    Verysburg New York

  53. bayoustjohndavid

    The Adam Tooze tweet of Bloomberg’s latest generational divide and conquer piece reminds me of something Dean Baker wrote 10 years ago:

    price of the median home is currently around $170,000. This means that the $205,500 held by the median household headed by someone between ages 65-74 would be enough to pay off the mortgage on the median home (remember, these numbers include home equity) and leave about $35,000 to supplement the household’s Social Security income (@$1,300 a month) throughout their retirement.

    The second problem is that the under 35 group includes many people who are still in college. The rise in college enrollment over the last quarter century would almost certainly have the effect of pushing the wealth for this group downward. People in college will generally not be accumulating wealth; in fact they are likely to be accumulating debt.

    Basically, you take a chart of median home prices and what percentage of their mortgages people of different ages have paid off and scream “pay attention to generational labels, not class inequality.” Even though the average retiree has a net worth equal to roughly the value of the median house or an IRA maxed out (with little interest) for 30-40 years, despite the change from defined benefit to defined contribution retirement plans

  54. MarkT

    A short rant from me. We have reached this wonderful situation by allowing the worst amongst us to get to the top, and not regulating them.

  55. VietnamVet

    Today’s Link:

    “The Sadness Of American Collapse
    The people an empire falls down on”

    “America is just a stock market with human beings attached. And the human beings are expendable.”

    This is the best summary of reality I’ve read. If Donald Trump gets the Republican State Legislators to vote for his second term, it is all over. If not, Joe Biden and the neo-cons are back. Except there is no Western Empire. It vanished. Keeping Syria’s oil field in an enemy country allied with Russia, China and Iran hundreds of miles from the coast is a psycho nightmare.

    Americans are sick and quarantined. If the Democrats continue to represent the 5% and exploit the rest with identity politics, the corruption will doom them to fail as the Trump Administration did.

    Incompetent government breeds chaos. Toilet Paper is out of stock again. Certain food is too. No job. Soon, no shelter.

    Pestilence, forever wars, hunger and shortages will break the USA apart.

    1. MarkT

      I am an essential worker in NZ and am thoroughly grateful the NZ government went “hard and early” and eradicated the virus. It was a surreal experience. But so was watching governments in many western countries obfuscate and dither. They wasted weeks.

      1. M

        Please do not gloat about your competent, good looking, honest, wonderful leader there. Our wounds in the USA are too fresh. :-)

      2. Count Zero

        That’s all very well but I wouldn’t get too comfortable. NZ will need to be in a state of siege forever. Covid19 is now endemic. It’s not going away. It’s never going to be eradicated. Cases will fluctuate and, as in the case of flu, there will be quiet periods and localised epidemics. But either you never leave NZ, which has to remain in a permanent state of quarantine, or you will be exposed to the virus and it’s many future mutations.

  56. M

    How many tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of Americans would still be alive if President Obama were still president?

    On the other hand, I recommend that a committee be selected to check and appoint President elect Biden’s next cabinet to avoid a repeat of history. I was unhappy in 2016 (and almost voted for Trump) that he (President Obama) had appointed Eric Holder and Geithner and had not arranged to investigate, prosecute, and jail all the leading, ultra-rich banksters in nice, humane jails, forever. I wrote and urged him to investigate all of those persons, including his own appointees. However, he was an ex-constitutional law professor, not versed in financial crimes and he trusted political allies. (Reportedly, Geithner’s father was a family friend of President Obama’s mother. See See

    Those years were simpler times, when Americans’ lives were not being lost daily indirectly as a result of presidential “mental illness,” to be polite. However, we have another chance this year or by 2021 during the next financial collapse. Since the ultra-rich’s banks’ derivatives gambling and massive MBS (mortgage-backed securities) “investments” (gambling) to again sell mortgages as securities to dupes (like your school, union, or most often, your pension) has almost surely again made the major banks legally insolvent, expect the ultra-rich banksters (not the mass of public shareholders but the holders of the “control groups,” who vote enough shares to appoint each bank’s board of directors) to again claim that the world will end if they are not bailed out, when the world finds out their weaknesses. (Note the banks’ directors and officers are like good guard dogs, obedient to commands from the true ultra-rich banksters (who have never had have to pay taxes thanks to US foreign income tax laws) but deniable, and sacrificable if someone must go to jail.)

    Of course, expect the stock market again to collapse in value in 2021 and the 15-billionaire-controlled US media to AGAIN hysterically scream that the US congress “just does not understand” until the US congress is again bullied into giving the banksters another TARP bailout. (I bet if the banksters were wiser, they could honey trap politicians into voting for this again by enabling them to have sex with underage girls at parties in mansions of the ultra-rich filled with cameras, video recording the pornographic results. Did they ever think of that? Why not?) That would be aside from the banksters’ own ongoing bailouts through their “Federal” bankster Reserve to themselves and I do not mean the “Fed’s” 2019 Repo market bank bailouts. See See

    The banksters’ “Federal” Reserve (a deceitfully named and secretly created monopolistic, bank cartel operating behind bankster figureheads appointed by pliable presidents) cannot bail them out forever by acting as a “bad bank,” and purchasing the banks’ now garbage MBS holdings at premium, way above FMV prices. See What about their formerly-profitable, derivatives gambles — now gigantic debts? Someone must pay for those– not the ultra-rich banksters, of course.

    That “bad bank” is always the banksters preferred financial “solution” to their problems of course, so the US taxpayers will have to indirectly suffer the banksters’ gigantic, unrealized but probably now already computable billions or TRILLIONS in losses– AGAIN. See

    It must be nice to be a bankster: you make huge fortunes behind what is essentially a government guarantee of your credit while you happily gamble in derivatives and MBS then if you go insolvent, your loyal (“hybrid”) “Federal” Reserve bank cartel gives you free (US government legal tender) money secretly, at ultra-below-FMV interest rate loans for decades to “recapitalize” you by effectively giving you gifts worth billions, and if things go really bad, the US congress ultra-rich-owned politicians give you even more free money! Senator Aldrich planned well. Bernie Maddoff must be jealous. See; see See

    Those “Federal” Reserve cartel gifts to the banksters are in US taxpayer legal tender printed by the “Fed” through the US treasury(!!) effectively as annual, sweet-love-gifts from all Americans to the banksters. Thus, your children’s grandchildren will still be effectively repaying them until the next century, to bail out the gigantic fortunes of the owners of Wall Street’s most profitable firms, who have enriched themselves by trillions since President Clinton repealed FDR’s wise Glass Steagal Act. See and see the bankster apologists’ arguments in

    That will happen soon, by 2021 at the latest. Mark my words. Plan on it. There are real solutions. Read about the early French Revolution and its innovations against corrupt, ultra-rich cronies and secret cronyism by the ultra-rich. Read JFK’s speech against secret societies before his assassination— which I am sure was a sheer coincidence. ;-) See

    Now, Yellen, the former “Fed” president whose cuddly appearance might have discouraged any investigations of financiers, e.g., in the “Fed,” might become the next treasury secretary. Isn’t that remarkable! Joy! That is really, really, really, really, really amazingly worrisome. Excuse the eye tic that I just got when I heard.

  57. M

    Thank you for the link as to the microbes and the oncoming vicious cycle releasing CO2 and methane hydrates coming soon to a theatre, beach, city, etc., near you. … and all of us. It is amazing how little people want to raise their heads and see the lights of the oncoming climate change train rushing toward them. Ignorance is bliss.

    On another subject, an administration is ending. Power corrupts. Insider trading is so easy and so profitable.

    If I could, I would investigate every treasury secretary since Reagan still alive, with wiretaps and every other artifice used against Gotti or Capone. Maybe, even the dead ones, :-)

    I would routinely and automatically do the same to every future treasury secretary, SEC chairperson, “Fed” director or open market committee member, and bank presidents/officers or any owner of the major bank’s control groups.

    Did you hear the old joke:
    As he exited the door of his beautiful, corporate-provided jet holding the bare arm of his young, gorgeous personal assistant provided to him by his bank, into his luxurious, corporate-paid limo, an owner of the majority of a bank’s shares was asked how much his stock was worth. He said billions and billions with a smile.

    He was then asked how much a particular individual, who was a small shareholder who owned the minority of the shares of the bank, was worth. He said, “that poor son of a __[gun], he and his shares ain’t worth nothing.”


  58. Mikel

    RE: I Lived Through Collapse. America Is Already There Medium (Henry Moon Pie). (parts two and three).

    Still on part one, but this story is also a good example why the tired old refrain “the youth/children are going to make the world a better place” is dangerous. It will take all generations being vigilant together to make real change.

  59. drumlin woodchuckles

    Poor Tuckie-poo and all the other Foxies. They’ve created a Frankenstein’s Slime Mold and now they can’t control it. Pray it eats them all alive.

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