Links 12/26/2020

Saved from the garbage, Russian cat lands on its feet in minister’s chair Reuters (resilc)

House of the Dragon: Meet Daemon Targaryen’s Dragon, Caraxes LRM (furzy)

Lava lake continues growing inside Halemaumau Crater on Hawaii island Star Advertiser (David L)

Massachusetts city to post climate change warning stickers at gas stations Guardian (resilc)

Aviation Groups Are Worried 5G Could Lead to ‘Catastrophic’ Plane Crashes Popular Mechanics (resilc)

The family with no fingerprints BBC


China’s virus deceptions have been even worse than we thought New York Post (David L)


Super-infectious mutant strain of coronavirus is found in Ireland and France Daily Mail (Kevin W)

UK scientists trial drug to prevent infection that leads to Covid Guardian (furzy)

Rich countries buying most of the world’s vaccine supply has left the rest ‘scrambling for supplies,’ campaigners say Business Insider (Kevin W)

Quack cure or Covid hope? Six things you can buy in the shops that scientists believe could protect against severe coronavirus infection Daily Mail

Boston doctor says he almost had to be INTUBATED after suffering severe allergic reaction from Moderna Covid vaccine RT (Kevin W)

Why new coronavirus variants ‘suddenly arose’ in the U.K. and South Africa National Geographic (David L). Really really bothered that this is a hypothesis with no evidence whatsoever. Convalescent plasma was deployed in a big way in NYC. So why don’t we have a mutation cluster coming out of NYC? Another therapy, hydroxychloroquinine, was used extensively in hospitals in Italy during its peak and is heavily used in the global South. So why the declaration that the mutations showing up in London are due to treatments, with zero evidence of London using “treatments” more than other places with acute outbreaks, like New York and India and Los Angeles? We also have Long Covid….which according to IM Doc’s sample, is significant among patients who have been hospitalized, and press reports of Long Covid has typically showcased a different population, young healthy people whose initial Covid cases were mild to moderate but didn’t resolve.

This is the Stanford vaccine algorithm that left out frontline doctors MIT Technology Review


France finds first case of new coronavirus variant BBC


Kary Mullis Nobel Prize Inventor of Abused PCR Slams Antony Fauci YouTube (RR). Ouch.

Christmas travel rush ignores Covid warnings as California hits 2m cases Guardian. Resilc: “Since the American community cannot address this issue, they cannot address, nor agree on any issue.”

California COVID-19 patients wait 8 hours in ambulances before entering ERs Daily Mail

Southern States Are Facing an Explosion of Virus Cases New York Times

Experts say experience convinced Midwest of virus dangers ABC. MA flags this quote:

Roughly one of out every 278 people across northern states spanning from Wisconsin to Montana required hospital care for COVID-19, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project.


Trump again calls for $2,000 checks as Covid aid bill remains in flux CNBC

Anger at Congress, Trump mounts among governors The Hill


China’s Economy Set to Overtake U.S. Earlier Due to Covid Fallout Bloomberg

Tales of a “CEO monk” obscure the business of faith in China Economist (David L)


EU ambassadors gather to review Brexit trade deal on Christmas Day CNN

Brexit Trade Deal Google Drive. Courtesy the Telegraph, for those of you with high tolerance for pain or detail.

Keir crisis: Labour MPs set to rebel against whip and vote down Boris Johnson’s EU deal Express. Hhhm. Presumably purely symbolic.

Brexit: tea break’s over Richard North. Finds some significant UK misrepresentations beyond the one I flagged on a fast pass yesterday.

Brexit’s Unwinding of Integration With EU to Test U.K. Economy Wall Street Journal

This Brexit deal is emphatically nothing to celebrate Prospect

Thousands apply to be a Finn for 90 days in migration scheme Guardian (resilc)

Imperial Collapse Watch

Pentagon leaders exchange lobbyists for Christmas Duffelblog (JTM)

Trump Transition

Four Seasons Total Landscaping: The Full(est Possible) Story New York Magazine (UserFriendly)


GOP seeks to avoid messy Trump fight over Electoral College The Hill. OMG Tommy Tuberville is being treated as a player???

The Memo: Could Pence run and win in 2024? The Hill. Painfully early to be handicapping. He might not even be alive by then.

The WOKIES: 2020’s top virtue signalers, ENTERTAINMENT edition RT (Micael)


Nashville explosion: What we know about downtown explosion on Christmas morning Tennessean. A well-travelled NYC friend argues this would never have happened in Time Square: NYC has bomb squads and would have recognized the threat earlier.

Next up for retailers: A big wave of gift returns Reuters

SA Bitcon CEO Disappears With Over 9 Billion Investors Money South Africa’s Rich and Famous andMTI CEO goes AWOL, lawyers pull out Moneyweb (furzy)

Who Is America? Ian Buruma, Project Syndicate (David L)

Class Warfare

Boots Riley on Why the Left Abandoned Class Struggle YouTube (Kevin C)


GoDaddy is accused of cruelty after it teased 500 employees into replying to email promising Christmas $650 bonus – only to then reveal it was phishing test they FAILED Daily Mail (BC)

Antidote du jour. R.H.: “Meet Ozzie, a 17-year old rescued Persian (Got him when he was 3 years old).”

And a bonus (dk):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here

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  1. Amfortas the hippie

    re: old books and labor history.
    is anyone else still having the “can’t read books anymore” apparent corollary to pandemic?
    I finally finished E.P. Thompson’s “making of the english working class” the other morning, after having it as my sole book-in-progress since february.
    (it’s a good read, and well written, making this phenomenon even weirder)
    like, apparently, the book in this article, turns out there’s a lot of stuff that has simply(purposefully) fallen out of the hive mind’s memory.
    I lean Luddite…in the original, economic sense of the word.
    as for why this history remains largely unknown among the hoi polloi, i’ve reviewed every history book my kids have been issued for 15 years now.
    in all of them, history stops between WW2 and Ronald Reagan…nothing happened during that time, and FDR is most well known for that war.
    similarly with everything from the Palmer Raids to the Haymarket Massacre…labor history is, at best, glided over at 20,000 feet…Bomb Throwing Anarchists(is there any other kind?) might be mentioned….but none of that history is to be explored.
    Electricians and welders might know something about unions, here in Texas….but no one i’ve ever worked with in “food service” has ever had the barest inkling.(“Unions are thugs, aren’t they?”)
    (and to add to the irony, electricians and welders, in my experience, tend to be conservative…much like the swinger community,lol(began with USAF Pilots))

    1. JohnnyGL

      “is anyone else still having the “can’t read books anymore” apparent corollary to pandemic?”

      — Actually, yes. It’s quite strange and definitely wouldn’t have predicted this a year ago.

      “history stops between WW2 and Ronald Reagan…nothing happened during that time”

      — Wow, that’s absolutely absurd. Middle class ‘golden age’ turns out to be a footnote? All those wars abroad? Both proxy, and with our very own doing the fighting?

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        on the latter point, i’m only being a little bit hyperbolic.
        korea and viet nam were unfortunate necessities,to contain the commie menace…lbj took the Oath on an airplane…Eisenhower was a former general…nixon had watergate…
        all utterly anodyne, and without context…let alone through an Empire Lens.
        and through it all, the constant…if somewhat subtle..Rah-Rah flagwaving exceptionalism narrative.
        this is Texas, of course, post-911…when Texas had gone fully to the Right, as far as who was in office, and who could speak in public:dems generally have remained hidden ever since—and during the textbook controversies, it was lefties outside demparty orbits who did the fighting to keep Jefferson…and not replace him with Moses…in the official curriculum.
        Christian, Capitalist Nation, and yada yada…”Amurca…F&ck yeah!”

    2. BlueMoose

      I find that I am having the same issue even though I love reading. I am trying to wrap up Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’ so I can get to the waiting in the wings ‘The Brothers Karamazov’. Currently at Book XI, Chapter XXXII. After that, I have some recently found Solzhenitsyn I want to try. I love finding old books in peoples collections that have passed away. I have so many yet to read classics from my fathers collection that I had no idea he even knew about. I was stunned when my mother asked my to take what I wanted from his library. As in: my father read Plato and St. Augustine? Lost/missed conversations…

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        prior to last february, i’d read 50+ books per year, easy…so it’s weird, for me, to have such difficulty.
        I habitually keep a Truck book or 5…like for when i take wife to chemo…or the boys to sports.
        now, i get sleepy,lol.
        someone should prolly study this phenomenon.

        1. BlueMoose

          Do you read (or did you read) one at a time or was it common to find yourself reading several at the same time? Might be another study topic.

        2. Utah

          I’m not an expert, but I spend a lot of time in therapy because of PTSD. Sounds like pandemic stress is causing overstimulation. You’re over stimulated and you’re in hyper vigilance. Your brain can’t calm down enough to immerse yourself in a book because the pandemic is like our 21st century version of a predator that’s nearby and could kill you.
          Calming down the nervous system could help. Deep breathing relaxes the vagus nerve. Lavender soothes and calms people down (I think I even read something from NC about studies in lavender.)
          As for me, I haven’t been able to read anything but fluff all year. I’ve tried, but my brain just can’t absorb the information. So instead I’ve been reading things in different fiction genres that strike my interest. Reading ultimately relaxes me, so I try to read, even if it’s not the best book or will never win an award.

        3. LifelongLib

          Started reading “Goodbye To All That”, liked it, then put it aside for a month and only picked it up again the other day. Used to always have a book in progress.

          Seems like I do more podcast listening now, or else online reading of short articles and comments (including NC).

          Current events maybe too anxiety inducing? Keeping us from long concentration?

          1. Procopius

            I can’t do podcasts. First of all, they all seem to require some special program to run, but they never tell you that, nor what program(s) to look for. On the web page it looks like all you need to do is click on the “play” button, and that doesn’t do anything. I feel frustrated and go away. Once, I made the effort to find a program that would play Chapo Somethingorother House, and found it boring. A couple of other podcasts I just couldn’t understand what they were saying. I sometimes go to YouTube, and I am amazed at how many people have bad stutters. Others seem to be just speaking spontaneously and haven’t given any thought beforehand to what they are going to say. They seem to be trying to organize their thoughts as they go. Chris Hayes comes to mind. He writes well, but his interviews on YouTube are a mess. I always look to see if there’s a transcript somewhere, or just skip it.

      2. polecat

        Maybe this pandemic has begun to intiate the stirrings of an age of Post-Murican Monasterians, forced to move ungrounded because – ‘owning nothing, and liking it’ just doesn’t cut the grey poupon!

      3. chuck roast

        War and Peace aye…I just launched into Vassily Grossman’s “Life and Fate”.
        I had no idea that it was an 800 page doorstop. I am preparing instructions to my descendants on which library to take it back to.

        1. upstater

          Grossman’s Stalingrad precedes Life and Fate. Took me a couple of weeks for 900+ pages. The Chandler translation is the latest and had a handy index of all the characters.

      4. Jessica

        Brothers Karamazov is so good.
        I find that I finish audio books quicker than paper books or Kindle books.

    3. jhallc

      While never a voracious reader I have also had trouble plowing through the book sitting on my nightstand. However, the other day I finally started unpacking the books I’d boxed from my move over the summer. I got engrossed in a photo essay by Jack Hurley entitled “Portrait of a Decade”, about Robert Stryker and his organizing of the photographers sent out to document the 30’s Depression. Between the amazing photos and the story I realized I had spent more than an hour just sitting there. Maybe I just needed to get back to basics with a picture book. Pat the Bunny is up next.

    4. dcblogger

      is anyone else still having the “can’t read books anymore” apparent corollary to pandemic?

      yes, all eAudio Books all the time

    5. Janie

      I have also had trouble staying focused on a book. Usually I have two or three books going, different genres. Now, half a chapter and I’m done. As Utah at 1.29 says, maybe it’s stress. I’m going to try your suggestions, Utah.

      1. notberlin, aka [fill in the blank]

        But also the irony of worrying about not reading while reading…. thus, website commentaries. I think, though, this is about the disruption of longer narratives, or more specifically, the ability or willingness to “invest” in the endeavor. For me, as an artist, it has a lot to do with a loss of faith, in the bare knuckle sense of, “Why undertake if all roads leads to…. [fill in the blank]. It’s manifestly hard to overcome this sentiment. For me, anyway. But I also go back to my Iowa working class small town roots, and say to myself, “Why let the bastards win?” My oldest real friend, Wayne, in Utah, has 7 or 8 novels out there, and he puts it sort of succinctly: “You are a bird on a tree, sing your song.” It’s (perhaps?) the same with reading. Or painting, writing, basket weaving, horseshoe making (or tossing), or [fill in the blank].

        So on a very blunt level: if the world is coming to an end, why invest? Why engage? Camus is good on this subject, of course, but recently started reading The World of Yesterday: Memories of a European by Stefan Zweig, which seems prescient. We will see if I manage to finish it :)

        *Zweig eventually would go on to take his own life. “I think it better to conclude in good time and in erect bearing a life in which intellectual labour meant the purest joy and personal freedom the highest good on Earth”, he wrote.

    6. norm de plume

      Yeah, me too. I didn’t get past the first few chapters of Graeber/Sahlins’ On Kings. I am now struggling with Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. Love his short story collections but finding disbelief suspension harder over the longer haul. Conversely, I’m having great fun dipping into Peter Bogdanovich’s interviews with Golden Age directors like Allen Dwan, Raoul Walsh and Howard Hawks. What picaresque fun they all had.

      As for the history, I spent 2018 helping a nephew with his final year high school history. ‘utterly anodyne, and without context’ is a good description of the textbook. I mean you don’t expect Howard Zinn, but it was bleached of all the fear, greed and flat out racism that drove so much of the events it enumerated. The main idea I tried to get across was that history was not a separate ‘thing’, it’s not even ‘the past’ really, it is a succession of previous presents, and that ‘history’ is occurring right now. To that end I would send him the odd current news story which chimed with things we had covered, such as imperialism, Civil Rights, whatever, as if to say, ‘see, it is still happening’ but I could tell he wasn’t really convinced. Too busy being young and living in the moment I guess…

    7. Roland

      I’ve definitely been under-reading relative to the time available to me (alas, leisure has, in the end, made me prone to sloth). Nevertheless I am still reading quite a bit, revisiting stuff on my shelves that I hadn’t read cover-to-cover in decades.

      I usually have several books going at once, to suit my mercurial nature. However for the past couple of days I’ve been completely absorbed in Conrad’s Nostromo. It made a nice change after months of re-reading ancient historians in translation.

      My old e-reader has seen use, too, since the has a good collection of WW1 memoirs (not as good as Graves’ but all still very interesting to the student of history). I just finished Q.6.A and Other Places.

      But if put myself on a timer I think I’ve spent as much time watching Netflix (I’ve really enjoyed the Korean workplace drama Misaeng), or playing “Battlefield” on the XBox.

  2. Basil Pesto

    re: the Depp article earlier, one of the casualties of the cinema for me this year was Waiting for the Barbarians by Ciro Guerra, who directed the superb and highly recommended Embrace of the Serpent. Depp
    co-stars, Mark Rylance (who I’ve been lucky enough to see on stage a few times) leads. I saw it was available on DVD in the shop the other day but I def wanted to see it in the cinema.

    1. Carolinian

      Agree that both Depp and Rylance are excellent actors although Rylance seems to be in a bit of a rut with his movie perfs whereas Depp is just the opposite and determined to appear in anything offbeat even if perversely so. His good movie batting average is sinking fast given some of his recent choices.

      I first saw Rylance in Wolf Hall (shown here on PBS) and think that’s still the best large or small screen thing from him. Supposedly he’s a British theater legend?

      1. Carolinian

        And btw I’ve seen Waiting for the Barbarians via that DVD release. Both actors are good but thought the movie’s anti-imperialist message a bit heavy handed. The villains are really villains.

      2. DorothyT

        Mark Rylance is not only a British theater legend but also on Broadway — and Brooklyn.
        I’ve been fortunate to see great theater in NYC, but there’s nothing like a Mark Rylance play.

        “Farinelli and the King” Broadway 2017
        “Nice Fish” Brooklyn/St. Ann’s Warehouse 2016 (hilarious)
        “Richard III” Broadway 2013
        “Twelfth Night” Broadway 2013
        and four more …

        1. Carolinian

          I think after Wolf Hall the movie folk are typecasting him as the sad eyed humanist. Sadly down this way we don’t get your gourmet theater.

          1. ambrit

            Come a little bit farther “down” and you will find it difficult to find anything at all that does not come with popcorn and valium. We here didn’t even have “Dinner theatre” to liven up the odd evening. The local universities do have drama departments, but who wants to go to see even talented learners for fifteen dollars a seat? (Actual prices; public-$15, faculty-$10, students-$8 per seat.) Try coming up with that when the best non-degreed jobs available are now at Mickey D’s and The Colonel. (McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken.) Many ‘service’ level jobs here are still paying minimum wage.
            [Last year I checked out trying to get tickets for a friend to Keb’ Mo’ at the local Sanger Theatre, a restored 1920’s live venue. $27.50 to $57.50 per. That show sold out early.
            The point being, what percentage of an average weekly paycheque was six dollars back then, which I remember paying for a live show somewhere, versus the percentage of an average weekly paycheque one of today’s shows cost now?
            We have become ruled, no, managed, by greedy people.

      3. rtah100

        He is indeed a favourite of the boards – and also toddlers because he gives it the full RSC treatment in the slightly trippy pre-school programme Bing, about a large, colourful neotenous rabbit-child and its smaller greyer guardian (the conceit of the programme being that, a bit like those diagrams of a human nervous systems that are 90% genital, the toddler weltanschauung sees only itself and the adults fade into the background).

    2. norm de plume

      I second the recommendation of Embrace of the Serpent. Genuinely strange, beautiful and mysterious by virtue of a sort of hypnotised immersion in the culture of The Other. The only thing I can compare it to is Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, another rich and potent ethno-cultural immersion.

    3. m

      Depp was dumped after tabloids stated he beat his younger wife Amber Heard. After she went too far he is suing a Murdoch tabloid & Heard herself. Tapes have come out, which strangely YouTube buries which clearly show Amber is a Gone Girl type crazy. Amber has aligned herself with MeToo, Kamala Harris & Biden and other “woke” groups-making money off speeches about empowerment. There have been a bunch of Depp articles trying to cancel him after UK judge really stretched himself to side with Murdoch..
      His career would probably be ok if he didn’t have a midlife crisis and marry an attractive, greedy, ambitious younger crazy girl.

  3. The Rev Kev

    “This is the Stanford vaccine algorithm that left out frontline doctors”

    This confirms to me even more that Stanford’s so-called algorithm was nothing more than a blatant attempt to get admin staff to get first priority over anybody else aka the professional managerial class. It’s not rocket science here how to work out who gets the needle. The ones that get priority should be ones directly exposed to this virus. If you are daily exposed to it, you go to the head of the line over those who are only occasionally exposed to it. From this group, you crank in age so that the older the person, the more they are nudged to the head of the line. Not only are they at more risk, but probably in this sub-group are your senior staff working on the front lines and you want to retain their experience. When all of them are done, then and only then can you start on the bean-counters, the marketing droids and those from the coloured pencil department.

    At this stage, Stanford Medicine’s name is mud.

    1. John Beech

      Rev Kev’s absolutely right. Business owner here, 60s, asthmatic, and overweight, so this means head of the line due to risks, right? Nope, not a chance because I can choose to avoid crowds and take prophylaxis seriously (masks, saline nasal wash with Betadine when seriously concerned regarding exposure – e.g. after doctor’s office visits, when folks get too close to me in public places). Far better in my opinion for anybody at a hospital to receive it first, janitors and cleaning staff especially, as well as essential workers, e.g. folks working in meat packing plants, or anywhere else we have data informing us of higher risk. C’mon folks, this isn’t rocket science!

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            It’s a mouthwash in Japan at 0.5% concentration, and has been studied at both a nasal spray and gargle at concentrations up to 2.5%. Tested for 6 months with no ill effect in subjects. Only concern is with people with thyroid conditions (presumably high thyroid since additional iodine could increase T4 conversion to T3). I’ve been gargling 2x a day with a 1% homebrew for months.

    2. Louis Fyne

      my brother just got this week—no high-risk factors. he’s attached to/works in a hospital right now for a finance project.

      He didn’t even know he was eligible. Vaccine staff asked if he wanted to get the shot, he said sure.

      Aside: I was wary of the theoretical outlier risk of allergies from the shot. But (anecdotally) it seems that the risk of “Long Covid”/post-covid chronic fatigue syndrome is much higher than media is reporting.

      So I eventually want the shot too. Don’t want the outlier risk of getting long covid in winter 2021-22. definitely YMMV.

    3. Lambert Strether

      > This confirms to me even more that Stanford’s so-called algorithm was nothing more than a blatant attempt to get admin staff to get first priority over anybody

      Come on. Stanford is an extremely prestigious, nationally ranked university. They would never do that.

    4. Ohnoyoucantdothat

      Stanford alum (PhD 75). Remember, Stanford is ground zero for Silicon Valley software development and that mentality permeates everything there. Why convene a panel and just do the logical thing when one can write an “algorithm”? It’s cool and so “now”. And maybe someone was thinking to sell it to other, lesser hospitals and made a quick killing. Don’t discount that motive. The big venture capital firms are, literally, just down the street from the hospital and are all over the tech areas in the place. I don’t think there was a conscious effort to screw the frontline staff … just hubris. Glad the frontline workers blew it up. I’m of the opinion that these elite schools need to be kicked in the teeth to get their attention and straighten themselves out (/sarc). Right, like that would really happen.

  4. John Beech

    Reading the New Yorker article re: facts and people holding strong to previously held belief structures even when they’re mistaken, was an utter waste of time. Why? It’s because I already know people can’t integrate new information and realign their views – nothing new in this. What I’d like to learn is a practical way to change minds. Seems there is no way to do this. Who’d a thunk?

    1. Samuel Conner

      A point that I’m sure has been made at NC comments before is that people seem to be more willing to consider ideas or data that are contrary to their current views if they can somehow discover them on their own. On this view, which I think is right, persuasion requires elicitation of that discovery on the part one’s interlocutors, and that can be difficult.

      Example: a friend who was for a long time a fan of “fiscally responsible” Paul Ryan’s rhetoric about the Federal budget was never persuaded — over a period of years — by my attempts to explain MMT and its implications for PR’s views. Stephanie Kelton’s book “The Deficit Myth” persuaded him within 2 chapters. Her style of explanation is a lot clearer than mine was, but I also think that it leads the reader to “discovery on one’s own” in a way that promotes “ownership” of the insight.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        socratic method in the feed store…ask questions, and lead to epiphany by appearing not to lead.
        it’s a hard skill to learn.
        one is rewarded by the lights going on behind the eyes.
        (or by hearing feed store paduans engage in socratic dialog, and/or parrot amfortas, in the produce aisle…like a proud papa, i am)

        my key contributions to local hive mind: “Chamber of Commerce on the square is a Business Union’….”working should not lead to poverty”…”New Deal because it’s Our Country”…”Farmers should rightly hate Big Ag”(and The Grange was a Good Thing, and a Union).

        all of this, of course, undone utterly by politicisation of covid.

        1. Samuel Conner

          I was thinking of you in my “I’m sure this point has been previously made”.

          It is indeed hard to learn. I suspect that my own “pedagogical” deficiencies are an illustration of the problem. The thing that “opened the door” for me to embrace MMT was Randall Wray’s arguments about the implications of the “Sectoral Balances Identity” for the causality of deficits. He argues that private sector savings decisions are a stronger influence than public sector spending/taxing decisions. The implication that the public sector ought to accommodate private sector savings preferences (and not worry about the size of the deficit as a policy goal; obviously there are other constraints, such as inflation) straightforwardly follows.

          But “what worked for me” does not seem to work as well for the people whom I have tried to persuade.

          I’m still learning, but I suppose that recognition that I need to learn is itself a particle of progress.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            on MMT…i point to the Pentagon…and to the post-GFC Wall Street bailouts…”where, pray tell, is all the inflation?”…and “if it’s good enough for them…”

            but it is difficult…one must know one’s audience…avoid numerous(and often unanticipated) Trigger Words/terrorwords…and incorporate “conservative” rhetoric/framing…
            and it really helps with my feed store denizens to use lots of Jesus Speak and parables and bible quotes.
            you also have to be prepared for sometimes ugly hostility(like if you accidentally use one of the lesser known/incomprehensibly surprising terror words)

            and these folks are NOT the Owners…which is important.
            the Owners are much more likely to be Free Marketers and Hard Core GOP Members, and wear all that on their sleeve.
            they cannot be reformed, and will hafta be eaten, or rendered into compost.

            1. Watt4Bob

              I remember a high ranking Army officer saying that everything he used to negotiate with Somali War-Lords, he learned from reading the Bible, and William Shakespeare.

              1. Anonymous

                The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of these collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd. But beyond this, my son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body. Ecclesiastes 12:11-12

                I like the one Shepherd part …

            2. Samuel Conner

              A lesson for me is that concrete illustrations are generally more useful than abstract explanations.

              Thanks for the ideas!

              1. fresno dan

                Samuel Conner
                December 26, 2020 at 11:43 am


                What is amazing is that even when one sees the “staircase” in a horizontal view, and discovers it is not a “staircase” and reviews the video, your brain MAKES you think it is a staircase – it makes you perceive an illusion.
                And with regard to MMT, it seems obvious to me that we have been doing it for 60 years at least (MMT is deficit spending right? Seriously, is anyone really going to say we don’t have health care NOW because we can’t fund health care? – its not economics, its politics) So why do people think MMT will be spent on health care and full employment, and not war and empire?

                1. Upwithfiat

                  So why do people think MMT will be spent on health care and full employment, and not war and empire? fresno dan

                  Not to worry since if MMT spending on the non-rich causes price inflation then the non-rich will be taxed to curb it? /sarc

                  Why not instead completely de-privilege the banks and mandate that all fiat creation be for the general welfare only? In other words, eliminate all welfare for the banks and, by extension, for the rich?

                  And besides, is price inflation such an injustice if it is created ethically, e.g. via an equal Citizen’s Dividend?

                  1. Wukchumni

                    If all goes according to Hoyle, an ethical & equal Citizen’s Dividend of about a buck fifty per day, should be mine soon.

                2. Massinissa

                  They ALREADY use MMT to fund war and empire. MMT proponents just advocate using MMT for things that are not the military.

        2. polecat

          After having experienced Obama’s steering of the U.$.$. Bucolic even Further starboard into that Iceborg, I made a complete 180° turn, into the shallows of cynicism – trying to relearn everything, but believing nothing instead..

          So here I am, dry-barened and landlessly locked, not knowing where to turn, for sooth!

      2. BlueMoose

        I would agree. It seems to be the same with people involved in cults. Until that proverbial light bulb clicks on in their own mind, you are just beating your head against the wall no matter how much ‘proof’ you bring to the table. It doesn’t hurt to try, but just let it be and assure them you will be there if needed.

        1. tongorad

          Until that proverbial light bulb clicks on in their own mind.

          I agree, but I don’t understand.
          Seems to me that all but the very wealthy are just one turn away from medical bankruptcy, even with so-called health insurance. Is this realization due to a severe lack of imagination or…?
          I don’t get it.

            1. The Rev Kev

              An old line-

              “If I had known that I was going to live so long, I would have taken better care of my health when younger.”

      3. Mark Gisleson

        Samuel Conner’s observation about tricking people into discovering information triggered old memories. While writing resumes (again with this but hey — it’s all I know!) I worked very hard to present information in a way that would allow the reader (HR/hiring mgr) to form predetermined conclusions.

        My resumes always looked like classically formatted resumes which allowed me the use of ALL CAPS, bolding, ALL CAPS BOLDING, right margin tabs, ……tab leaders, and bullet p•ints (thank you Zapf Dingbats for giving me square bullet points). Italics are nice but when HR started scanning resumes italics were strictly verboten.

        Powerful tools. You probably noticed the above paragraph even before you read the first graf. Every reader scanning these comments will see them. Which is why most people misuse them. By hammering the reader with your strongest information, you actually get the reader to resist them. I won’t bore you with reading theory but with lists, last is almost if not better than being first. A list presented in table format has four hotspots (the corners).

        A surprising number of people read the tail end PERSONAL/ADDITIONAL INFORMATION sections, as well they should. This is where you slip in the illegal-to-ask-about information like religion (volunteer, Dorothy Day Center), family (playing softball with my two daughters and son), ethnicity (member, Sons of Norway), etc. None of this bolded or emphasized other than simply being included. Being last is attention enough. The important thing being to only include information which will be favorable to the reader without appearing to pander. (Never pander, at least not in an obvious way.)

        My biggest fight was getting clients to let me lowball some achievements. If they appeared to be a slam dunk to “make the cut,” it was always smart to understate the achievements most likely to be asked about so that my clients’ answers could build on those points. Hard to do when you shouted out the best stuff already. Text is best for throw-away lines that make the reader stop, then go back and read again because if you did X, you must have done Y.

        The next time an ad catches your eye and you’re not sure why, study it carefully. There’s more going on there than you realize. These studies about how resistant people are to believing information contrary to their beliefs has been known to advertisers forever. But now that articles like this are being written, the Wile E. Coyote super-geniuses at the DNC will undoubtedly start targeting bigoted folks with “clever” strategies that will be resisted.

        /old guy tutorial (do they even still use resumes?)

    2. Skip Intro

      The way to do this is to make a personal connection with a person and relate stories about yourself that explain your belief. I believe the brain chemistry from empathetic bonds with others can overcome the rush from having your beliefs confirmed.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        in my feedstore, i was already known as that guy who writes really good letters to the editor…with common sense pragmatism(real, not hillaryesque) that could appeal so broadly that many thought i must be a repub/teabilly.
        my greatest success also, notably, coincided with the nadir of trust in the GOP as representative of their interests…from around 2013 till a year ago.
        ergo, during this time, they had abandoned belief in the usual sources of herd reinforcement, from Faceborg to Rush to Faux.

      2. Hank Linderman

        This. It also gives you a chance to find out what they want or need from you; it might be simply to be listened to. It also helps if you establish agreement on something before you head into where you differ.

        Talking with Trump voters, I looked for specific things we could agree on, like using Medicare to negotiate drug prices. Anything that was done to actually help working people was (and still is) fine with me.

        Understand we’re up against a media news system who’s first job isn’t news.


        1. Mark Gisleson

          Pro tip: most conservatives are paranoid and you can easily talk them into disagreeing with themselves if that lets them avoid agreeing with you.

          Give some thought to how you set them up. Instead of “what you do you think about drug prices?” try “you know what really p*sses me off? drug prices!!!” And then keep ranting as if they’re not even there. Make them interrupt you to agree with you.

          [I don’t know what it is about this time of year that brings out my inner satan…]

    3. Zagonostra

      Thanks for validating what I suspected. I only glanced at the article and said to myself, this why the Social sciences or sociology is almost totally useless today. You can go back to Plato and his slender dialogue and learn more.

      Reading Hilaire Bulluc on Reformation today and very impressed, he reminds me of Chesterton,

    4. lyman alpha blob

      It was rather ironic that in an article describing confirmation bias and how hard it is to defeat, they just couldn’t help themselves from slipping in a little TDS –

      Surveys on many other issues have yielded similarly dismaying results. “As a rule, strong feelings about issues do not emerge from deep understanding,” Sloman and Fernbach write. And here our dependence on other minds reinforces the problem. If your position on, say, the Affordable Care Act is baseless and I rely on it, then my opinion is also baseless. When I talk to Tom and he decides he agrees with me, his opinion is also baseless, but now that the three of us concur we feel that much more smug about our views. If we all now dismiss as unconvincing any information that contradicts our opinion, you get, well, the Trump Administration.

      That last sentence sounds extremely – what’s the word I’m looking for? Well, smug. Wouldn’t want to change the views of those New Yorker readers who are convinced that Orange Man is singularly Bad. That paragraph, and the one before it which wasn’t much better, must have made a lot of New Yorker readers feel pretty good about themselves.

    5. ShamanicFallout

      But of course it’s much deeper than this. It is, from a certain point of view, the fundamental issue that keeps up in our ignorance: Identification. We are so identified with ‘ideas’, or ‘ideologies’, or ‘narratives’ that they become much more than just a collection of ‘ideas’, ‘ideologies’,’narratives’. We actually, literally, become them. And so any criticisms, or attacks, become not a challenge to ideas, but a challenge to one personally. And this, as we know, and have seen repeated over and over, is very tricky, deep-seated, and can even be very dangerous

    6. Donald

      The toughest people to talk to are my fellow PMC types. Not always, but often. They “ know” all kinds of things. They know they are the smart educated people and they know they have the moral high ground and they know the only important division is between Democrats and Republicans. They know that “ working class” means white working class and that these people are mostly all bigots. They know Russia interferes in our politics and they don’t seem to know that the two countries that really would have seen Trump as an asset are Israel and the Saudis.

      I am exaggerating with some. Not everyone falls neatly into categories. But quite a few liberal upper middle class types seem to think pretty much as I have described them.

    7. ArvidMartensen

      As a onetime student guinea pig to a psych department back in the day, one round with these guys leaves you with a healthy distrust. So while the STEM students are taught to accurately measure and report and never lie, psych students are taught that lying is a very good skill to have indeed.

      Most people know that our politicians and elites (as they like to call themselves) lie to us about everything all the time, coincidentally increasing their power and wealth.
      Take the last 20 years. WMD in Iraq? A lie. The NSA doesn’t spy on US citizens? A lie. Masks are dangerous and don’t stop the spread of Covid? A lie. The Earth is not warming? A lie.

      Anybody who remembers the media coverage of the last 20 years knows how fervently the media reported these lies as the holy truth at the time. Doubters and skeptics have been attacked, smeared, ridiculed as “unpatriotic”, “conspiracy theorists”. and worse. Whistleblowers have been smeared, honey-trapped and jailed, lives destroyed.

      Freud and his nephew Bernays and psych experiments done on naive students and other guinea pigs have laid the structural groundwork for a whole industry of continuous propaganda using psychological conditioning, nudging, bludgeoning and torture (see Assange).

      The customers for this work are the elites (as they like to be called). The conduit to the subjects is the media, both msm and social media. The “liberal” press, read by the well-educated, moves in lockstep on most issues. Russiagate. Trump. Biden. Hunter Biden. The hackability of voting machines. If you see it in the NYT, you will simultaneously see a similar take in the Post, the Guardian etc etc.

      Genuine populist voices of both the right and left are routinely squashed like moths. As Trump voters on one side and Sanders voters on the other have found, anyone with views not approved by the swamp of interconnected grifters and con artists that rule the country are easily dispatched.

      Populists are smeared as “conspiracy theorists”, uneducated, naive, hillbilly, mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging bogans on one side, and “leftists”, “socialists”, “useful idiots” and dupes of Russia on the other. If they get any following on either side, then they are eventually suppressed and banned by the msm, Twitter, FB and Utube. Covid and Trump have been great windows into all of it.

      Remember Occupy? Obama metaphorically droned Occupy out of existence. Now we have the suppression and demonisation of a life-saving drug with fewer side effects and deaths than aspirin over 60 years (hydroxychloroquine). It will be a great investigative story for some media organisation in 10 years when the vaccine companies have carved the Covid market out to suit themselves, made trillions of dollars and the story no longer matters to them.

      Then the last remaining, functional, generation of homo sapiens can watch it as a night’s entertainment on their preferred channel, be outraged for a night and agree that they would never fall for anything like that. Like their parents watched shows about tobacco, perfluoro chemicals, and climate change and agreed that they would not fall for anything else.
      And in 50 years the rich can die happy knowing that at the end they owned everything and controlled the thinking of everybody. Even if their children hate them.

    1. Louis Fyne

      Chappelle’s work from 15-20 years ago, if released today, would absolutely get him cancelled by the “liberal” Twitter mob.

      It’s a shame as Chappelle’s works provoke a lot of thought (if one thinks about it) past the initial laugh.

    2. IdahoSpud

      To the Wokies list, I’d like to add the Portland Antifa, who knocked over the statue of Abraham Lincoln and attempted to set fire to a federal building with people inside.

      It’s a bit spooky thinking of what sort of “social justice” these folks would hand out if *they* held the reins of power. Pol Pot comes to mind.

      1. JWP

        I would look closer at what happened and who antifa is before coming to that conclusion as well as the goals of social justice from the top down. Antifa does not try to gain power but rather send a message, most are just outright anarchists who will never run for office of any kind. No one tried to burn down the federal building because it is made of concrete and fenced off and is just a gaslighting claim made by media. I agree the social justice first agenda is a dangerous route, but the real danger is liberal politicians and all sorts of companies using it to mask predatory capitalism and bad, discriminatory policies while putting on an “equality” facade.

          1. ambrit

            I agree with some of the points given, but must observe that the word ‘liberal’ as used now no longer has a single, coherent meaning.

      2. Dirk77

        Don’t forget the Portland mayor and city council who are being sued by downtown businesses to pay for all the damage to their stores bc Portland won’t pay for it. And need I mention that the PA left all the new Amazon warehouses in town untouched? And for the mayor for trying to foreclose on a family, in this winter, who lost their jobs in the pandemic.

  5. timbers

    Nashville and Dopamine

    The dopamine in my brain cells wants me to think the truck full of explosives set off right next to a obvious AT&T switch center is an attack on the fact our tax dollars are being given to the likes of AT&T and others to unconstitutionally spy on us and herd us into choosing equally unacceptable choises (Biden or Trump? Obama or Hillary?).

    Then, my imagination combines with my dopamine to wonder “If this is so, are there better more affective targets? The famous NSA building in the middle of no where desert land? But what about civilian deaths? Collateral damage?”

    Then I realize…I am actually considering, weighing, the pros and cons of civilian collateral damage, as a factor in asymmetrical strikes against the ruling elites.

    As one of the occupants trapped inside of a Mall surrounded by zombies in Dawn of the Dead (1978) says:

    “What’s become of us?”

      1. Lost in OR

        I was thinking that there was someone else who really didn’t like his AT&T Wireless plan.

        Just a small modification.

    1. TsWkr

      I tuned into NBC Nightly News last night, I do this periodically to see which way the wind is blowing in proper circles. On the Nashville story, their “Justice Correspondent” did the reporting and mentioned that some people were already attributing the motive to the “baseless conspiracy” that the telecom companies are conducting surveillance on Americans. It’s really bold that they can gaslight so openly these days.

      Most of the rest of the 20 minutes I mustered was COVID (just doctors crying, or advising that there’s no way to do anything and be safe) without much practical information. There was a small segment on the inevitability of movies going straight to streaming, starting with the ones going to HBO Max. I had to lookup which studio Comcast had ownership of after the segment.

      This is network news, so it doesn’t really follow the Hate Inc. model, but is it giving viewers a dopamine boost by assuring them that trusting authority, living in fear and being a faithful consumer of megacorp is the proper way to live?

      1. timbers

        A couple of times I told the customer service rep of my carrier, that they are illegally sharing my phone conversations and data with the Federal Government, and are being paid my tax dollars to perform that crime.

        She denied it. I responded in is a know fact, proven true by Edward Snowden and others.

        1. The Rev Kev

          That sort of stuff came out about 15 years ago about how the NSA were setting up their own equipment in major telecommunications nodes in the US. Probably authorization for them was buried in the patriot Act somewhere.

    2. shinola

      A diversionary tactic?
      -warning provided to avoid/minimize casualties
      -damage to at&t switching facility – perhaps including central reporting burglar alarm circuits
      -early on xmas morning (a Friday) when most businesses are closed & will not open ’til Sat. (or maybe even Monday)

      Hmmm… maybe I’ve just seen too many caper/heist movies.

    3. Jessica

      “The famous NSA building in the middle of no where desert land?”
      Actually it is on the edge of Salt Lake City suburbs, near a lot of recent development. The southern-most part of the Jordan River Trail is nearby.

  6. Wukchumni

    Four Seasons Total Landscaping: The Full(est Possible) Story New York Magazine

    We’ll find out soon the damage to Burpleson AFB, er the aftereffects of Jack D. Ripper, as attempts to put the toothpaste back in the tube through a tiny opening mount after inauguration.

    I like zany as much as the next mirthmaker I guess, and the last 4 years was comedy with a straight face and often unintentional, which is the best kind, but nothing could compare to the Four Seasons Total Landscaping fiasco, which i’d like to claim was some mid level nobody wreaking revenge by utilizing the wrong place, but the truth is more likely ineptoism, somebody’s sad sack relative had scheduling performance anxiety issues and were hired in spite of this, and kept on the job.

    Gorbachev’s undoing was openness, while Trump kept on bluffing on a busted straight flush-9 high, often exposing his cards whilst the hand was still in play, to his disadvantage.

    1. Michael Fiorillo

      So, in a matter of days, #McResistance media went from warning us that Trump would cancel the election/order the Proud Boys to invade Detroit and Philadelphia/force Republican electors to ignore the popular vote in their states, to mocking him for his farcical incompetence, as in this article, from the home of Jonathan “I’m a Peeliever” Chait.

      Over four years spent hyperventilating that Trump was Hitler/Mussolini/Putin’s phook boi, seamlessly seguing into Trump as Opera Buffa… and then these characters wonder why the public holds them in such low regard.

      As Gore Vidal said, this truly is the United States of Amnesia.

  7. David

    OK, masochist that I am I have just spent half an hour skimming through the next of the EU-UK agreement. Trying to take a step back from the silly arguments about who “won”, there are a couple of things that stand out.

    Firstly, this is a Commission draft. The sheer length and complexity and the level of detail, as well as they way it’s written, make me confident of that. It’s almost certainly a draft that’s been in preparation all year, and probably shared, at least in part, with member states some time ago. This means the UK, as with the WA, was playing on somebody else’s field according to their rules. This breaks the first rule of negotiation: make the other side work to your agenda. But that wasn’t possible because, yet again, the UK couldn’t make up its mind what it wanted. One result is that massive parts of the text will just have been nodded through, because the UK side didn’t have the time or the depth of expertise to contest them.

    Second, there’s an interesting, if somewhat tortured paragraph at the beginning of the Common Provisions, which reads:

    “Where the Union and the United Kingdom conclude other bilateral agreements between them, such agreements shall constitute supplementing agreements to this Agreement, unless otherwise provided for in those agreements. Such supplementing agreements shall be an integral part of the overall bilateral relations as governed by this Agreement and shall form part of the overall framework.”

    What this seems to mean is that other agreements (which there will certainly have to be) will not be independent of this one, but supplements to it, leading ultimately to an overarching agreement and probably, ultimately, a single text, which the UK claimed it wanted to avoid. It’s true that the text says “unless otherwise provided for”, but since the EU will never agree to separate texts and the UK will be the demandeur, then that particular game is effectively over.

    That said, there’s not a lot more to add at the moment until the experts have picked the text apart. But in general, and as might have been expected, the EU seems to have got most of what it wanted.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I’m glad you had a go with it, my eyes glazed over when I tried it this morning.

      But looking at the layout and structure, its quite clearly a Commission document. As you say, they set out the playing field and invited the UK onto it. Looking at a few initial commentaries, it does seem that at least some of the EU ‘concessions’, were semantic only, the reality of the agreement is pretty much exactly what the EU wanted at the start. This does certainly explain why they were willing to expand so much energy to get a deal up to and beyond the last minute. Quite simply, the deal suits the EU, and they are happy to let Johnson crow a little.

      I do think in fact that there may have been a certain amount of co-ordination among EU capitals to ensure that there was no triumphalism. Irish politicians have been suspiciously quiet, despite the final deal being an out and out triumph for Dublin. Ireland got everything it wanted – an Irish Sea border, free movement along the land border, the land bridge across England, no tariffs but phytosanitary restrictions one way on food coming from the UK (meaning Irish dairy will continue to dominate the British market), and pretty much all the fishing rights it wanted.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      The US version of the negotiating principle you mentioned: “He who controls the document controls the deal”. As in never never never let the other side/the other side’s attorney propose the text from which you negotiate and therefore also control the master document.

    3. Ignacio

      Wow, David, you have a strong stomach! Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts. Yesterday, I read a headline at a Spanish newspaper saying something in the line that there ‘was no agreement in the financial services sector’ which is probably a sector in the UK seeking for some assurance on how to keep their market share in the EU after the withdrawal.

      If anyone has an opinion on this I would appreciate it.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        So far as I can see – and I can stand corrected on this as I’ve only skimmed through the documents and read a few early analyses – is that there is nothing whatever substantive on services, and its slowly dawning on the UK financial services industry that they’ve been exchanged in return for a few cod.

        A key issue with services is professional qualification recognition – without this, there is no professional indemnity insurance, and this would be a disaster for a whole range of professions, from law to architecture, not to mention on the entire UK education infrastructure. If this isn’t covered in the agreement, then it would have an enormous economic impact on the UK, and on my reading there is little to nothing on this. If so, its an astonishing oversight/negotiation failure on behalf of the UK.

        1. Ignacio

          I was thinking more or less the same, so the UK can’t have her cod and eat it (if this easy joke is allowed). I am not very much versed on the culinary traditions in the UK about fishes (except the Fifh & Chips) but given the EU policy on fishing control goes ‘from the fishing net to the plate’ the UK will not access EU markets without following EU policies on fish certificates, landing certificates, certificates of origin, processing, sharing fishing data etc, they will have to eat all they capture or export somewhere else but not the EU… or alternatively follow EU rules.

        2. David

          That was my impression: there’s a section on services, but not financial services. And there’s lots of words about who is allowed to work and for how long, and who’s allowed to visit for professional purposes, but very little that provides general rights. There are pages and pages of examples, on the other hand, where states can impose restrictions.
          I think Richard North today is right: he makes essentially the point I made above, that the really important issue here is procedure. If the UK wants an agreement on financial services, for example, it will need to go and beg for one, it will be in a weaker position than it is now, and it will have to accept an arrangement that conforms to the overall principles of this agreement. Clever, that. If there was an international Darwin Award, I would nominate HMG without a moment’s hesitation.

  8. The Rev Kev

    “The family with no fingerprints”

    On the bright side, if a crime was committed and the fingerprints recovered showed flatness and no swirls, that would narrow down the field of suspects tremendously. You would have to stay very honest in that family. It’s like the problem of how to find Adam & Eve if you died and went to heaven. Of the billions of humans there, you would just look for the couple that do not have belly buttons.

    1. Wukchumni

      I’ve had time to kill the past 10 days, most of it premeditated.

      Must’ve spent an hour looking at my palms one afternoon, which curiously resemble 4 canyon river systems with shallower feeder creeks all along the way. Or maybe it’s a close-up of the canals on Mars?

        1. Wukchumni

          If proffered the backs of 100 hands, I doubt very much that I could differentiate between the other 98 and mine.

    2. Synoia

      Older manual worker lose their fingerprints, the finger prints become worn.

      Bricklayers and Tile-layers are especially prone to loss of fingerprints because of the abrasive nature of the materials.

      However, Trump, and many other politicians Lawyers, while abrasive, do not have this problem.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        also the lime in the mortar eats epidermis.
        i know a concrete guy who coats hands and feet* with vaseline before diving in. aids in cleanup, and prevents skin erosion.

        * concrete always gets into one’s rubber boots.

  9. marym

    Re: Trump again calls for $2,000 checks as Covid aid bill remains in flux

    After “largely having sat out the negotiation process” does Trump know or care that this is a combined pandemic relief/government funding bill? Provisions in the bill he says have “nothing to do with pandemic relief” reflect spending in his own budget proposal.

    If he doesn’t bother to sign the bill – or if he gets around to vetoing it and Congress doesn’t get around to overriding it – inadequate as the bill is, without it the unemployment benefits from the last bill and the national eviction ban expire, there’s no rental assistance fund, and there’s a government shutdown starting Tuesday.

    1. Wukchumni

      If you’ll allow me to parallel park historically, 1930 will soon be over and the worst of the Great Depression, but not really as 1931 & 32 will have the wholesale closing of retail stores on a boulevard near you, combined with a recent hack so devastating in ways we can scarcely imagine, what if that takes out online retail, leaving us in the lurch as consumers, we might have to reclaim citizen status.

      Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose

      1. marym

        Whether it’s the bi-partisan predator class, rogue predator Trump, or militants in the streets, I don’t see tearing it all down and salting the earth as opening a path to something better.

        1. Wukchumni

          We’ve all lived pretty sheltered lives of abundance on zenith compared to most on nadir, and nobody really wants the party to end as its the only way of life we know.

          A year or 2 back, I remember thinking to myself, if we can just keep this charade going another 20 years, set it on cruise control until my last gasp and i’m good to go.

          I view things now as a lot less certain in that regard.

      2. JWP

        Might be a great hack! The capitalist class’ nightmare-come-true of a huge jump in public savings would be sure to follow such a hack and the resulting unemployment collections. One can only imagine the horror of having a population with agency over their money.

      3. Glen

        I have hope, yet fear the worst. There is no FDR on the horizon. The Democratic party – the party of FDR – is still firmly in the grip of Obama, the slick talking predator neo-liberal.

    2. Louis Fyne

      ymmv. in this case this is not an instance of let the imperfect get in the way of the good.

      the bill is garbage from a populist left-wing and populist right-wing perspective.

      Nancy is a parasite too….for not getting a better bill for the people passed pre-Election

      MMT for the top 0.5%, $600 for everyone else.


      1. marym

        They’re all predators and posers. Shame on Pelosi for not getting a better bill passed in March, and pushing back on the (at least theoretical) possibility of stimulus checks just before election.

        She and her defenders should be condemned for that, as Trump and his should be for jeopardizing minimal unemployment benefits, protection against eviction, rental assistance, and the already decaying functioning of government.

      2. Wukchumni

        MMT really brings out the Melanesian in us, in that the Car Go Cult thinks if they can attract free money by constructing reasonably good looking facsimiles of attractants, surely the spice will flow their way, as it did in the war.

    3. WhoaMollly

      I am so disgusted by watching the cynical corruption of the “covid relief” bill that I will never vote for another incumbent as long as I live.

      I will also contribute money and time to support *any* primary of an incumbent in my district. I don’t care who runs, their record, or policies.

    4. ShamanicFallout

      I flashed this morning that the impending unemployment running out, impending evictions, no stimulus money, very uncertain job situation, etc. will be a boon for armed services recruiting. Just a thought.

      1. JWP

        Seconded. With the increase in army and marine advertisements on tv the last few months emphasizing how the army offers and escape from the boring daily life and a path for people with a variety of skills, it’s looking like enlisting is gonna shoot up.

      2. Stephen C.

        Well, if the unemployed are hired as security guards, doesn’t that solve the problem of unemployment?

        -Signed, rich clueless person with an MBA

    5. Pat

      Yes, but apparently “we” cannot spend more on Covid relief because…
      So if those items are cut from the spending bill that money should be back on the table for higher benefits.

      I am sure Trump does realize that there are two bills combined in an omnibus bill. And yes his demands are showmanship and knifing Congress, but his point about the hypocrisy is still valid.

      And as far as cruel and pointless show, the whole reason this is so last minute is so both sides can pretend this was the best that could be done before we ran off the cliff, our opponents weren’t interested in the voters. When neither group of party leaders wanted to do anything that meant PEOPLE got relief.

      1. marym

        Trump’s not knifing Congress. Congress won’t miss a paycheck, has healthcare if they need it, and can get vaccinated if they choose. He’s knifing the people, same as both sides of Congress.

        I don’t think it’s pointless or a show, because the outcome will be either very bad or worse and all 3 sides (D, R, Tr) are ok with that. However, if cruel includes includes Trump’s last minute/nothing for the people tactics along with those of Congress, I agree with your last paragraph.

    6. Aumua

      Provisions in the bill he says have “nothing to do with pandemic relief” reflect spending in his own budget proposal.

      Well it’s all very murky, isn’t it. Which part of the bill is regular government budget spending and which part is stimulus. Which factions support what parts of the bill and why. It’s like they don’t want people seeing the picture clearly.

      I mean the first stimulus was at least easy to decode. We may not have liked everything in it, but at least we knew what was in it.

      1. marym

        Congress creating gigantic “omnibus spending bills,” opaque to the public, is certainly an issue.

        Presumably after 4 years Trump’s found a way to deal with it. He managed to identify provisions in it to object to. For the little people there’s a table of contents in the main bill and summaries of the other sections that didn’t take too long to find, but I didn’t find the full text of the pandemic relief sections (M and N).

        “The text of the spending package, H.R. 133, is available here. The joint explanatory statement for Front Matter is here, Division A here, Division B here, Division C here, Division D here, Division E here, Division F here, Division G here, Division H here, Division I here, Division J here, Division K here, and Division L here.

        A division-by-division summary of the appropriations provisions is here. A division-by-division summary of the coronavirus relief provisions is here. A division-by-division summary of the authorizing matters is here.”

        (The referenced links are embedded here: )

    7. dcblogger

      Re: Trump again calls for $2,000 checks as Covid aid bill remains in flux

      After “largely having sat out the negotiation process” does Trump know or care that this is a combined pandemic relief/government funding bill? Provisions in the bill he says have “nothing to do with pandemic relief” reflect spending in his own budget proposal.

      I really should have known that his call for $2000/month was just stirring shit up. If Congress fails to provide meaningful covid relief, and it sure looks that way, the country will be ungovernable. I think Biden and his team are sunk in this West Wing fantasy and he really thinks that he will give this wonderful speech on his inauguration and the country will swoon. Meanwhile Americans are living in a Brechtian nightmare.

  10. .Tom

    Would Labor MPs’ votes against the EU-UK trade/coop agreement be more purely symbolic than Labor MPs’ votes for it? What do Labor MPs’ votes matter or signify in this?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Yes, they don’t have the votes to make a difference. I suppose they could say by not voting for the deal that they don’t own the mess that gets worse as of Jan 1.

  11. Tom Stone

    The Nashville Bomb appears to be straight out of an old IRA manual, ANFO, probably boosted with a few cylinders of propane ( The initial flash is indicative of a blast wave moving too quickly for straight ANFO which has a lot of solids).
    The leads will be the VIN from the chassis of the RV, Surveillance footage and cell phone records.
    If this wasn’t a false flag we’re likely looking at a cell of 3-5 people who have displayed a reasonable amount of competence, if the RV was stolen, any cell phones used were carefully purchased burners and the surveillance footage not helpful…
    I hope Richard Jewell has a good alibi.
    2021 promises to be a VERY interesting year

    1. Wukchumni

      I heard remnants of black velvet framed dogs (one with a hidden ace of spades near it’s private parts) playing poker was found near the blast site, and it is suspected that Artifa is the culprit.

      1. ambrit

        On my C-reddit feed it ‘said’ that the remnants of a similar oil on black velvet ‘canvas’ of a toreador in the ring with a bull was found. The theory is that this is blowback from the War on Drugs, Mexican style.
        Be warned, the above is ‘snark’ o’ ye creditulous ones.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      Its interesting you mention the IRA connection, the first thing I saw on my Twitter feed this morning was someone (I’ve no idea how reliable the source) connecting some odd tweets that may have been connected with the bomber with Ireland. I can’t find it now as the twitter treads are overwhelmed with conspiracy theorists and I can’t be bothered ploughing through them all for any potential gems.

      But its certainly a very odd occurrence. ANFO is of course a very easy explosive to make once you have the time and space to experiment a little with the right mix with diesel (as the Beiruiti’s found out this year, it doesn’t require a sophisticated chemist if you have enough of it in one place). The only difficult thing is getting some real explosive as a detonator. Using propane to enhance the blast is pretty common too – I wonder if maybe propane or butane had been released in the minutes before the explosion, creating a thermobaric effect, that might explain the intense flash. Although I’d disagree that it would necessarily involve several people – Anders Breivik in Norway prepared a bomb of something like 5 tons and set it off using timers in Oslo, apparently on his own. The damage to the buildings looks quite similar in extent to those in Nashville.

      1. Tom Stone

        PK, the initiator could easily be black powder, easy to procure a pound or two or you can make it yourself.

        1. Paradan

          Actually pyrodex and the other modern black powders don’t have the detonation velocity to set off AMFO. Some forms of Tannerite (the stuff you can shoot with a rifle and it explodes) do though, and I’ve always felt it was a huge mistake to allow that stuff to be commercially available without a permit.

      2. fajensen

        If one has access to fine aluminium powder, that gives more energy and simplicity to the reaction. More sensitivity also.

        Palestinian terrorists used to add aluminium powder to the ANFO because the resulting explosive can be set off with a rifle cartridge.

    3. EGrise

      Also right out of the IRA/ETA playbook is the (in this case automated) warning and the apparent desire to limit civilian casualties.

      I think it’s reasonable to conclude that, following the IRA pattern, this is not intended as a one-off.

    4. Glen

      I’m reading a Daily Mail headline that the FAA has shut down the airspace over Nashville and the military will use “deadly force”?

      Have we decided to drone strike in our own country?

      I remember earlier this year that there was data indicating that DHS was flying an airplane over Portland to do something similar.

      Or am I way off base here?

      1. Procopius

        Have we decided to drone strike in our own country?

        I was expecting it to happen before now. Obama, after all, got a ruling from the Office of Legal Counsel that it was OK for the President to kill anybody, US citizen of not, anywhere in the world, without due process or outside review, as long as that person was suspected of being involved with a terrorist group. I don’t actually remember the exact wording, and it’s probably classified anyway, so secret law, but that’s roughly what was described back when he offed Anwar al Awlaki. It’s legal. So maybe Biden will be the first to follow the existing precedent. Even if it doesn’t happen under Biden/Harris, eventually some President is going to make it standard. As Obama himself has said, “It turns out I’m very good at killing people.”

  12. DomiDF

    Kary Mullis: I enjoyed the take down of Fauci. Unfortunately Kary Mullis died in 2019. Pity because all the barbs were spot on. Once disinformation starts it is sometimes becomes hard to figure who is disinforming who..

    1. deplorado

      I personally enjoyed this, from an interview published on his website – humorous and containing multitudes of truths:

      “How did your life change after winning the Nobel Prize?

      My favorite pastime is learning according to the directions I discover for
      myself. Having a Nobel Prize allows one to indulge this kind of habit
      without starving, and I have taken advantage of it. Some people are not so
      obsessed with their own freedom, and utilize the awarding of a Nobel as a
      gateway to power and responsibility, and the accompanying financial
      rewards. I don’t accept responsibility easily and I am happy without those
      things. I like to read widely and at my own direction. Having a Nobel Prize
      has allowed me the opportunity to become well enough educated that I feel
      now that I really deserve one.

  13. Amfortas the hippie

    i put this in context with my now going on 5 year grasshopper plague.
    i noticed during the height of the second summer of this that the birds seemed scarce.(i was ashamed of myself for not noticing this immediately)
    this scarcity was confirmed over and over once i noticed it.
    only last summer did they start to return…along with a few non-natives from further south(esp. red tanagers)
    so i’ve since ramped up the winter feeding and birdhouse building.
    when i finally get done with all this infrastructure construction, i’ll build more birdhouses, and hang them all over the neighbors’ spreads.
    given all this, i’m not certain which is causative…starvation or lack of birds.
    birds have had plenty to eat around here…with the hoppers surviving into the first weeks of december.

    add all of this to confusion in the rest of the envoronment…many mesquites still have green leaves…after 2 months of mostly below freezing nights.
    oaks just barely lost their leaves….and figs and peaches are trying to bud out…again, with all this cold.
    geese are nesting 2 months early…and the chckens…who should have stopped laying for a time(the antipode to the late summer fall in egg production), and going like gangbusters.
    add to it all that we’ve(west central texas) been in a drought since july.
    all very worrisome.

    1. Wukchumni

      Our oak savanna typically loses leaves and the trees go dormant for a few months, only to leaf out early in the year, so why do they all have leaves still in these days of least solar resistance?

    2. antidlc

      fwiw, I noticed a scarcity of geckos this summer. Usually we get quite a few in the house. We had one this summer and I didn’t see too many outside either.

      1. Adrienne

        Some of the bird species cited are flycatchers, swallows, and warblers–all insectivores. As are geckoes.

        Seems like there might be some repercussions to our wholesale extermination of insects…

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          I had settled on the hypotheses that the decline in local birds was due to some new insecticide being used by the hay farmers hereabouts….that maybe interfered with metabolism or reproduction.
          but the birds referenced were tested for that(but: tested for what, exactly?)
          I’d be interested to see the folks in this article take a look at insect population where these birds have been.
          whatever, something’s definitely amiss.
          my recent consultation with the Genii of the place was inconclusive.

        2. Susan the other

          A good axiom for our own war on human disease – tampering with our own micro-bio-immunity is only a matter of scale. At some point there is a break in the food chain/energy chain and systems shut down. Gaia anyone? Like messing around with mRNA vaccines might be a very foolish thing when we have the ability to do palliatives and drug treatments instead. We don’t call a dumb human a dodo for ‘nuthin.

    3. Hallucinating Hag

      Same here in Lake County CA. Like you, we’ve turned our yard into a bird preserve with excellent results. We just got our first droplets of rain in the past couple of weeks.
      The local reservoir is a puddle.
      Trees dropped their leaves just this month, while spring asparagus is sprouting and the rosemary is flowering. It’s so deeply disturbing the locals won’t even speak of it.

      1. Karrinina

        Hi Hallucinating Hag! My brother lives in Lake County. My dad and grandparents and great grandparents used to live there in the 40s – 60s. Mom grew up in Napa during the 40s – 60s. I regularly visited family in the area as a kid in the 70s – 80s. So, from my home in Kansas I still closely follow events there and am amazed by how much things have changed even in the span of my memory, let alone my parents’ memories. The big mid-70s drought that’s etched in my memory pales in comparison. The transition from fruit and nut ranches with a wide range of varieties, many of which were local and regional, to all grapes is also a bit alarming. That can’t be great for insects and birds. I keep trying to convince my brother to relocate to Northeast Kansas, but he still loves it there and wants nothing to do with our winters (which also seem to be getting warmer and drier).

    4. Lex

      We live in town so we see less variety than those that live up in the foothills. At our feeders we seem to be gaining birds. Our coup this year was three nesting pairs of goldfinches. They’ll only stick around in the spring if they’re confident of a food and water source. I talked to a woman at ‘Wild Birds’ who said her feeders were swarming with Bullock’s Oriels. There was a nesting pair two doors down three summers ago, haven’t seen them since. About the time the sharp-shinned hawks moved in. Go figure.

      Briefly, for about 11 seconds before the dog ran up to the window to see what we were gawking at, we saw a Western Tanager, then that was that. I’m still trying to lure in hummingbirds; there are lots of them up in the hills so you wouldn’t think it would be that difficult.

      The biggest threat to small birds here were two nesting pairs of sharp-shinned hawks. Nobody sprays for insects. The pest problem in the garden was flea beetles (who did not like the diatomaceous earth I worked into the top layer of soil) and T-rex grasshoppers. Our schnauzer will snap at anything that moves in his yard and he decided grasshoppers were delicious. It would be more accurate to say the grasshoppers had a schnauzer problem.

    5. Jen

      I have a wild grape vine clambering over a tree outside my bedroom that usually provides a mid winter feast for grouse, and last year two pileated woodpeckers. This year robins picked it clean by the end of september. A friend of mine grows grapes and there are always tons of them left at the end of winter. Not this year – once again, picked clean in september.

  14. carl

    The number of pieces today from the Daily Mail makes me think I should put the paper on my reading list. Seems more legit than the NYT.

    1. Louis Fyne

      the Daily Mail is great! ymmv. my brain’s guilty pleasure.

      At least the Daily Mail is honest in its aim to clickbait you.

      Unlike the NYT which does much the same as the Daily Mail but wraps itself in smug Manhattan intellecutal authority

      1. polecat

        I would substitute ‘bi-water’ Atlantic $nobbery for MIntel authority .. but that’s just little ‘ol me.

        Not much difference either way, I suppose.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      I hate having more than one link from them, but they actually do very good science write-ups, often with graphics from multiple source. Also sadly very good on bombings and protests and riots, allowing for sometimes bias in headlines. Lots of commentary from the scene and many many photos.

  15. The Rev Kev

    “Who Is America?”

    I have made plain in previous comments about my dislike for Trump and his abilities but he did have good qualities, even if unintentional. For example, saying the quite bits out loud such as when he said “We’ve got a lot of killers. What do you think? Our country’s so innocent?” That by itself caused a wail of agony across the media but was just a statement of fact. One not to be said out aloud in polite circles. So I am reading through this project Syndicate article and come across the following gem-

    ‘Barack Obama had his flaws as a president, but he always exuded an air of dignity and refinement. Few presidents in history have his gift for English prose. Obama is not only a stylish writer, but a discerning reader. His behavior in office was always impeccable, and he and his wife, Michelle, are the model of a highly civilized couple.’

    The author has TDS and wishes for Camelot once again. But you know what? He complains about Trump killing people on death row. But here Trump is doing it retail while Obama did it wholesale. Most of the people killed by drone strikes under Obama were innocent but Obama did not care as he found that he was good at killing people. Bully for him. Obama talked about ‘the baser instincts lurking in the darker corners of American life’ and the author took it to mean among racist supporters of Donald Trump. It never occurred to the author that the darker corners were actually to be found in official Washington.

  16. Tom Stone

    Amforta’s, Drought is very worrisome.
    We had our first rain in Months here in Sonoma County over XMas and ar at about 1/3 of normal rainfall.
    Fire season officially ended Monday..,
    Unless we get a very soggy spring there will be a lot more Morel habitat at the end of 2021 than at the beginning.

  17. Wukchumni

    Massachusetts city to post climate change warning stickers at gas stations Guardian
    I was in Sausalito across from the Bay bridge staying @ a friend’s houseboat and the city leaders had decided to erect ‘Nuclear Free Zone’ signs all over town, which gave much one much confidence that you’d be spared being roasted spare ribs in the aftermath of something happening.

  18. LawnDart

    No love for “the Squad” at BAR:

    “Working within the system” seems a poor excuse for inaction against this cannibalistic predatory state where the daily struggle to survive is very real to tens of millions of us subjects.

    F the party members– each and every last one of them: as noted, they are the enforcement arm of the capitalist class and their participation in this government itself perpetuates the illusion of citizen representation (unless it is Citizens United that gives you personhood).

    Time is overdue to change this balance of power, either through a new constitutional convention, or, by other means..?

    (Need to see more WSWS, ItsGoingDown and Crimthinc reports in the Class Warfare section! Oh heck; the stories in Class Warfare now are usually more than enough to boil p!$s! And thanks for that!)

    1. Carolinian

      Problem will be solved when Biden starts his new war with Russia over the “cyber Pearl Harbor.” Indeed all our worries will be over–permanently.

    2. a different chris

      Yeah but that article…

      There are but a few voices calling for Bernie Sanders, AOC, and the rest of the “progressive” Democrats to move beyond demands for

      …then the next paragraph…

      That AOC and Sanders won’t respond to the demands of the masses

      Which is it? Few voices? Masses? Anybody proofread this stuff?

      I’ll give you a hint: this country is full of people who answer polls like socialists but vote like they want a Big White Daddy ruler, whether it be Trump or Biden. There ain’t no coherent demands from any “masses”, or if there is I hate to tell BAR but it’s the Deplorables that have claim to it.

      Blaming the near-powerless, one from a tiny state who never belonged to either of the duopoly party and the other from a tiny district who said she didn’t really want to be in that party, is pretty much what we expect of left “thought leaders” anymore.

      But yeah, AOC is pretty so her picture is great clickbait and BAR gets a few extra coins I guess.

      1. dcblogger

        Which is it? Few voices? Masses? Anybody proofread this stuff?

        here! here!
        BAR seems to embrace the underpants gnomes theory of social change:
        trash the Democrats, ESPECIALLY the rare progressive ones

    3. fwe'theewell

      Another great: Monthly Review. We had mention of Leo Panitch in Water Cooler, I think, whom I associate with the book treasure trove on

      I saw just now that they are discussing the “return of nature and Marx’s ecology.” Check it out!

    4. Oh

      Thanks for the link. From the article:

      Austerity’s chickens have come home to roost in the form of the most devastating economic crisis since the Great Depression and there is no end in sight. The lesson of this moment is that real demands must be placed on the ENTIRE state, even the most supposedly left elements nesting within it. Movements are defined by their demands. Without them, AOC and Sanders will continue to support bloated military budgets and capitulate to the class that actually wields power: the capitalist class. The so-called “left-wing” of the Democratic Party is accountable only to the political apparatus enforcing austerity on the masses of people. That AOC and Sanders won’t respond to the demands of the masses is a lesson that has yet to be learned by loyal Sandernistas. Because so-called progressives are unprepared for the moment, it is ultimately up to workers and oppressed people to make the United States ungovernable unless their demands for a better life, and a new world, are met.

  19. Timothy

    Kary Mullis Nobel Prize Inventor of Abused PCR Slams Antony Fauci

    Herding cats back into the bag is very difficult.
    Here’s more official narrative breaking down news:

    “Dr. Michael deBoisblanc was working as the trauma medical director for John Muir Health in Contra Costa County, California, until last Friday, after he questioned the scientific basis for again locking down citizens of the area. Along with doctors Pete Mazolewski and Brian Hopkins, deBoisblanc wrote that there were “deep concerns regarding more lockdown measures.”

    “The science is clear,” the letter continued, “that more lockdowns lead to much more non COVID morbidity and mortality.”

    “Public policy is being based on erroneous assumptions,” it added.
    But another area leader said that more transparency is needed from health officials during the pandemic. “That only engenders trust and leads people to understand why we’re making these decisions and why we need them to behave in certain ways,” San Francisco District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney said.”

  20. CoryP

    Dammit. Got a COVID test just now.
    The nasopharyngeal swab was fun—I’m glad they only did one side. It did occur to me afterwards it’s no worse than things people do with their noses in their hedonistic youth, if that puts anyone’s mind at ease.

    The Ontario self assessment instructs you to test and isolate if you have any of an extensive list of symptoms, which basically means if you feel at all under the weather.

    Had a new runny nose on Thursday which I attributed to the new minus-30C-with-wind weather that my lovely town gets. Last night progressed to a standard head cold with occasional cough due to post nasal drip.

    It just sucks because my drugstore is now stuck trying to find another Pharmacist to work the overnight shift during the holidays at very short notice, and I feel guilty and annoyed because I had shit I needed to do there and I can’t communicate with doctors through our confidential network from home.

    I wonder if self assessment tools from other jurisdictions are so sensitive…

    (Not a particularly interesting story, but I feel like complaining)

    1. CoryP

      I haven’t called in sick in ten years, so it’s particularly galling having to do so for symptoms I would not normally even think about.

      (Aside from the days I took off after I had a seizure at work)

      I guess I should be glad I love my job so much.
      I don’t think it’s just capitalist Stockholm Syndrome.

      1. HotFlash

        My dear Cory, what a pain. Condolences on your quarantine and hope your test turns out negative. The neighbours on our block here in west-end Toronto bang pots and ring bells for essential workers at 7:30 every night — masked and socially distanced, of course! I will shout you out. Thanks for your work, and thank you for self-quarantining.

      2. JMM

        I haven’t called in sick in ten years

        I have 5 sick days that I can use as I please (Quebec). If you use more than three in a row (I think), they’ll ask for a doctor’s note or something, but it never happened to me. At the end of the year, the days are gone, though, they don’t roll over; it’d be a pity if they were wasted. So some Fridays I’ve been “sick” (I’ve even told my boss in advance: “I’m going to be ‘sick’ tomorrow, just so you know”).

        1. CoryP

          Oh yeah I remember those days well. In the early aughts I was working a very low stakes mpart time job while in university. We had ten “E-Days” as they were called and you better believe we all used every single one of them.

          I must say I’m surprised that Quebec of all places (a bastion of pseudo-left-wing nationalism? Lol) has such crappy sick time provisions. Maybe Ontario is just as bad now, but I haven’t checked.

          That’s a good relationship to have with your boss though. I feel like fewer and fewer outfits allow behaviour like that these days.

  21. Wukchumni

    Here on just the other side of nowhere, where we’re lucky if it snows down this low once every couple years, the town exults as if the few inches of white will linger longer than say 11 am before melting off into memories of xmas snow that almost made it on time, but possible come late Monday into Tuesday morn.

  22. Wukchumni

    Thinking of joining a Fantasy Covid Bootfall League, where you earn points each week on the basis of betting ‘the spread’.

    You get 10 points for every completion, and if they infect others, you get those points as well.

    1. CoryP

      Well, that is how you would hit the optic nerve. Unfortunately your options to hit it are either by puncturing the eyeball and going straight for the blind spot on your retina, or doing what Newton did and run the risk of shearing it off at the back of the socket.

      He apparently caused no lasting harm.
      I admire the curiosity and adventurousness.
      I contend that there is something fundamentally male about the creative impulse to stick a thing in a thing and see what happens. (The Decanter also has my halting respect).

  23. JacobiteInTraining

    Re: the Finnish ‘Lets attract some tech workers’ article: Man, there is a part of me that would really love to take them up on that offer. I wouldn’t use that one though, since I have a Grandparent who was born in Finland and there is a side-program in Finland for that – if you are descended from such a person,(who was born Finnish, or ex-Finnish citizen) you are considered a returnee (paluumuuttaja) and can get residency based solely on that.

    The Finn diaspora, coming back home.

    My older brother has been making noises that he may well go that route once my dad passes away. I think he has paperwork for it in gear, and has made several visits in the past to hang out with and spend vacations with the side of the family that stayed there since my Grandfather left. (well, technically my Great-Grandfather left, dragging along his part of the family)

    I’m probably gonna stick around, though. Hate to just ‘give up’ on my local area, I feel like if I don’t stick around to fight…figuratively *or* literally, as the case may turn out to be…I would regret it in my declining years.

    So you know, if you see a middle aged bald guy on the barricades someday yelling ‘hakkaa päälle!!’ or also maybe ‘Tulta munille!’, that’ll be me.

    Unless, of course, the allure of an actual functioning country takes me and I end up retiring to a quiet lake on the outskirts of Joensuu, and to hell with those crazy ‘muricans. :)

    1. WhoaMolly

      Being a middle aged bald guy on the barricades in Finland sounds a hell of a lot better than being a middle aged bald guy impoverished by ‘out of plan’ extortion after a trip to the ER, and living on the street under a refrigerator box.

      Choose one realistic risk for old age: being a healthy foreigner in Finland, being a sick ‘untouchable’ living under a refrigerator box in US.

      1. JacobiteInTraining

        Well, when phrased in those terms…one can certainly feel ones fervor to ‘defend’ declining in direct proportion to the heat in the sauna, on that lake, on the outskirts of Joensuu.


        1. Jessica

          Looked at a map to see exactly where in Finland Joensuu is.
          I always wondered why I have never heard Finland getting revanchist about its half of Lake Ladoga.
          Now I know.

        2. Janie

          Finland sounds good to me. I enjoyed a little time in Turku and Helsinki and would have liked to stay longer. Wish i had your option. Unfortunately, my ancestors have been here for centuries and I’m way past the acceptable ave5.

    2. Wukchumni

      My mom is a lapsed defrocked Canadian who went down under in 1950, and aside from regular visits has had American citizenship since the late 50’s, and there must be a few like me considering becoming a dual national on the basis of her birthright.

      I’ve been wearing out a University of Guelph t-shirt I bought online to better fit into Calgary with a cover story if push>meets<shove.

      1. Sub-Boreal


        Unless you’re concerned about culture shock, that’s in the least Canadian of the provinces.

        Be a bit more daring.

        1. Wukchumni

          There’s a dozen basements available to me with my name on them around the Palliser Triangle, should things get stupid down under.

        2. Jessica

          Edmonton (and I hear Calgary) are Canadian enough. The countryside is a bit Texas with cold instead of heat though.

  24. anon in so cal

    >Covid new variants

    Excellent information from the twitter feeds of various virologists and epidemiologists. Some hypothesize that mutations could have occurred during the protracted illness of an immuno-compromised patient. In one instance, 17 mutations apparently occurred at one time, some in crucial docking locations on the spike protein. This is a race to get the population vaccinated before the vaccinations are ineffective against the new variants.

    1. DorothyT

      Thanks for introducing the immunocompromised patient aspect of the Covid-19 mutations/variants. Recommend reading through this Science article about recent UK findings including potential importance re: vaccines. The U.S. is said to have inadequate viral evolution research and tracing.

      To (WHO epidemiologist) Van Kerkhove, the arrival of B.1.1.7 shows how important it is to follow viral evolution closely. The United Kingdom has one of the most elaborate monitoring systems in the world, she says. “My worry is: How much of this is happening globally, where we don’t have sequencing capacity?” Other countries should beef up their efforts, she says. And all countries should do what they can to minimize transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in the months ahead, Van Kerkhove says. “The more of this virus circulates, the more opportunity it will have to change,” she says. “We’re playing a very dangerous game here.”

    2. IM Doc

      In an effort to make sure all know the sources from which their information comes, I would like to make sure the following is known about Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding. I have seen him repeatedly quoted on multiple websites and all over my social media feeds.

      I have tried in vain to find anything this man has ever published in research journals about virology or pandemics. Indeed his main research focus is on the epidemiology of nutrition. I am not so sure we should be listening so much to a nutritionist and his “insights” on a viral pandemic at the level of exposure he seems to have. Would also encourage all to look into his political background. I think there is something more going on here than meets the eye. His musings have been the most panic-inducing hysteria of any “expert” I have been reading this year. Furthermore, at least one colleague of mine who is at Harvard has reported to me that he was associated with Harvard at best tangentially. You can take that as a little tip from an anonymous Internet commenter. But please do your own research.

      You can start here – with this comment from Dr. Mark Lipsitch, a real professor of epidemiology at Harvard University. –

      I have not looked into your other twitter feed’s background, but just on the face of it, that individual seems to be a much more trustworthy source.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I can’t comment on Feigl-Dings credentials, but so far as I’m aware he has kept most of his commentary to his own area of expertise, which include meta analysis and the mathematical aspects of epidemiology. I’m always a little cautious about ‘experts’ who seem to love public attention too much, although arguably in the pandemic we’ve been harmed by the number of specialists who have been reluctant to speak out about areas of concern for fear of being accused of fear mongering or conspiracy theorising (you, of course, are a very honourable exception).

        This is always one of the most difficult things for those of us outside of research and academia. Degrees and titles aren’t really enough – the history of science is littered with fine scientists who made fools of themselves when they strayed outside their own expertise, just as many insights and breakthroughs have come those who came to a problem from outside of a particular paradigm. On a practical level, as I’m sure you know from medical practice this is precisely one of the reasons why big research hospitals invariably provide better treatment than small specialist ones – it is the mix of expertise that enriches the individual specialisms. This applies as much to hard science as to the softer sciences and humanities.

        One of the things that has disturbed me so much about commentary around Covid is that so much discussion has been ring fenced and politicised, and consequently much misinformation has come from so called specialists as much as conspiracy theorists. The calamitous early opposition to face masks being an early obvious example, in addition to the extreme slowness of public health officials outside of Asia to accept that aerosols may be the primary mode of transmission. Just last week, the Guardian had an article written by a virologist arguing that air travel bans were unnecessary. I’m still trying to work out the logic of that one (unless somehow the virus has learned to fly across oceans).

        I doubt it will happen, but I hope when this happens there will be a long, careful post mortem into the broader fields of public health and research to see exactly why so many errors were made, and still are (WHO, for example, is still hedging on travel bans and masks). Unfortunately, judging from the ‘science has saved us!’ and ‘if only those stupid politicians had listened’ type things I read in the media and social media, I’ve a feeling this won’t happen. It’s all too easy to blame everything that went wrong on Trump types, and everything that went right to heroic scientists.

      2. anon in so cal

        F-D’s credentials, or purported lack thereof, do not invalidate the hypothesis that some of the new virus variants may have originated in immunocompromised patients with protracted cases of Covid. F-D is not generating the hypothesis; rather, he is merely reporting it; F-D linked to the author of the article who discussed the hypothesis (the second twitter feed link).

        In the link you provided, Dr. Mark Lipsitch appears concerned to impugn F-D’s credentials. He also claims F-D’s twitter followers are Trump supporters. This seems a questionable claim, since F-D has consistently criticized T’s handling of the pandemic and has advocated for Biden.
        Otherwise, why not focus on the actual hypothesis, rather than on the background or personal characteristics of the individual who communicated it?

        1. IM Doc

          I have found multiple web sites today that absolutely are hypothesizing the same thing as Dr. Ding, from very accomplished folks. I think we should go about affirming or falsifying this hypothesis right away; it is indeed a very important piece of the puzzle. The same sort of thing occurred in the AIDS era, not just with HIV but with many of the other bugs associated with it, like mycobacteria and fungus.

          I think my issue with Dr. Ding more than anything else has been his tendency to really notch up the panic/hysteria to level 10 in the past. That is why I have so much trouble with him. And on top of that, he just should not have the standing to do so, but Twitter and Facebook have allowed this to continue. For example, his Twitter feed was screaming in the early stages of this pandemic that this was the most contagious virus ever encountered by humanity, over and over and over again. This is a grotesque falsehood now and it was so then, but it sure scared the hell out of many of my Facebook friends and family. On the other side of the coin, I can point to statements being made by well-known scientists like Dr. Offitt, in early March, stating this was all going to blow over very soon. My profession, its leadership, and public health in general has certainly not covered itself in glory during this entire affair. When this is all over, I believe what is called a “root cause analysis” will be in order for this country’s entire health system, both the medical side and the public health side. We find ourselves in the credibility problems we have today because of enormous blunders that our health leaders have been making all year long.

          I am talking all day and every day to dozens of patients about these vaccines. I can assure you the credibility of our health system is just destroyed with a huge chunk of the general public. It may be destroyed to the point that not near enough people are willing to trust our medical leaders to take the vaccine. Only time will tell.

          1. Phillip Cross

            Those early posts by Ding were featured on links here. I don’t think you are characterising him fairly at all.

            He simply linked to the data which was showing that the virus was spreading with r2.5, and explained that it was bad news because it is much higher r number than flu. the medical establishment was telling us that flu was a much bigger threat than covid at the time.

            In the end Ding was right to stick his neck out and raise the alarm, and the establishment was wrong.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              His commentary about the R0 being 3.8 was indeed on dialing it to 11 level of hysteria. And that was before one study suggested the R0 with no intervention was 5.4.

              He has since removed that tweet, because it was widely criticized, but it was reproduced in The Atlantic:

              HOLY MOTHER OF GOD—the new coronavirus is a 3.8!!!” Feigl-Ding’s tweet read. “How bad is that reproductive R0 value? It is thermonuclear pandemic level bad—never seen an actual virality coefficient outside of Twitter in my entire career. I’m not exaggerating.” During the next five minutes, Feigl-Ding put together a thread on Twitter, mostly quoting the paper itself, that declared we were “faced with the most virulent virus epidemic the world has ever seen.”

              I find IM Doc to be accurate on the topic of Dr. Feigl-Ding histrionics.

              1. Phillip Cross

                Don’t forget that this was in January, the only data available was coming from Wuhan, and he was quoting it, not making it up.

                Is an unknown virus, reportedly showing an r0 of 2.5 – 3.8, that seems to fatal in some relatively high % of cases, “thermonuclear pandemic level bad”? I would say so.

                In the same thread he said “we are potentially faced with possibly an unchecked pandemic that the world has not seen since the 1918 Spanish Influenza. Let’s hope it doesn’t reach that level but we now live in the modern world ? with faster ✈️+ ? than 1918. @WHO and @CDCgov needs to declare public health emergency ASAP!”

                He was a concerned citizen who stuck his neck out, trying to raise the alarm early, whilst the mainstream public health organizations were still ignoring or dismissing the threat.

                He got your attention, because you posted it here at the time. Perhaps he helped give us all a head start to prepare for what happened next?

                It reminds me of back in March, when Bernie was panned as an alarmist for saying the potential deaths and economic impacts of the coronavirus are “on a scale of a major war.”. And yet here we are well on track to exceed the US WWII casualties and costs.

                1. Yves Smith Post author

                  Sorry, Dr. Fengl-Ding was most assuredly Making Shit Up on that R0 being off the charts. Measles has as R0 of 12 to 18!!!

                  And the Chinese locking down 70% of the country had nothing to do with Dr. Fengl-Ding either. That was the data point this site took seriously and I am sure that was true of others.

                  And it is not fatal in a high percentage of cases. SARS has a not much lower R0 and a much higher fatality rate, 9.7%. For reasons still not known, it died out after a few very scary months, and experts assume we got luck with how it mutated.

                  The uncontrolled R0 of SARS was between 2 and 3. This Lancet article puts it as almost identical to SARS-2, the former at 2.4 and the latter at 2.5. But due to the high fatality rate of SARS, very aggressive containment measures were implemented.


                  By contrast, SARS-2 isn’t anywhere near as lethal but produces a high level of morbidity. And I can’t prove it, but it seems that it takes a fairly high level of hospital intervention to keep the fatality rate down, but there’s no way even uncontrolled that it’s as lethal as SARS.

                  The fact that we may have fallen for some of his early commentary on actual news does not make his over-egging the pudding defensible, particularly with the benefit of hindsight. Recall that Nassim Nicholas Taleb was warning in January about the need for intervention, particularly masking, since once case numbers got beyond a certain, not high level, strategies like contract tracing would become ineffective. So he was hardly the only one to raise early alarms.

                  1. Phillip Cross

                    Sorry if I wasn’t clear when I said “relatively”. I was trying to say that in January it was fatal in a high % of cases and showed a much higher r0 relative to the flu, which our medical establishment was telling us was far bigger threat at the time.

                    The difference in the ultimate attack rate of r0 1.3 (flu) vs r0 3+ is massive, resulting in orders of magnitude more infections.

                    Luckily we have a comprehensive vaccination program against existing diseases, like measles, with a potentially higher r0, so they aren’t a pandemic threat in the same way as a novel virus.

    3. Cuibono

      “his is a race to get the population vaccinated before the vaccinations are ineffective against the new variants. ”
      not sure i follow that logic.

      1. Ignacio

        Yeah, I concur. There is no logic to it. And this prompts me to comment about the National Geographic article on hypotheses about how new variants with many cumulative mutations appeared suddenly which is, from a scientific point of view, highly speculative and nearly without (scientific) substance, except for one point.

        During an epidemic we could see ‘evolution’ (mutations appearing and being kept) ocuring during the passage of viruses from donors to recipients, for instance a single mutation appears in a subject and it is seen in further cases that can be traced to that subject, and you cannot identify the original donor precisely, when and where the mutation occurred. Then we have the possibility for ‘in host’ evolution that has been reported for HIV that establishes very long chronic infections for several years and when you can identify in a single subject the appearance of new variants with time that become dominant.

        The mysterious appearance of new variants that accumulate more than a dozen mutations not seen before together in the same sequence and including nucleotide deletions/additions –mutations which are more difficult to appear and become stable in a genome– is indeed puzzling and suggest ‘in host’ evolution. It can be speculated that for this to occur best chances would be in chronic diseases in which SARS CoV 2 could replicate many more times in conditions very different compared with short lived infections. So far so good (the reasoning). It also appears that this has ocurred not once but twice, in SA and the UK, but given similarities between both strains it cannot be ruled out that both variants could be related with each other if proper extensive contact tracing was done only to diverge somehow afterwards. I am sure there are multiple connections between the UK and SA even in Covid times so this wouldn’t be that rare and indeed it is almost certain that both slightly different variants exist in both countries (and possibly in much of the rest of the world). Once a significantly different variant arises is wouldn’t be that rare if it suffers further ‘evolution’ as it adapts to the new hosts.

        Whether these new variants appeared under selective pressure in immunosuppressed patients treated with convalescent sera enters pure speculation territory. If so, as Yves comments, wouldn’t be more likely that such variants appeared in NY first if there was extensive use of c.s. to treat patients? This could be a blow against that theory. There is a logic to that hypothesis but there could be many alternatives. The NG article then go to ‘therapeutic sledgehammers’ (antivirals etc) that could be behind these events, but here enters very slippery speculative territory since today there is not really anything that can be considered a ‘sledgehammer’ for Covid treatment. It goes further to compare with HIV disease and it’s treatment but there are lots of differences between HIV regarding the duration of the disease, the frequency of chronic diseases, the history (and efficacy) of antiviral treatments etc. Speculations go into thinner and thinner logic.

        The reality is that, for the first time in humanity we are following the molecular evolution of a new human-infecting virus in nearly real-time, since the very beginning of the epidemic, and we are going to learn a lot about the evolutionary biology of Coronavirus, though unfortunately by the hard way. Many surprises will arise but indeed we don’t really have any idea about W.T.H is really going on and how and why these new variants arise. We are in uncharted territory.

        What is common to these articles at the NG the Guardian etc. is that the writers have not bothered themselves to do a little research in the scientific literature or to challenge the logics by themselves with a little bit of the same logic or by consultation with other scientists in the field. These might be rara avis, but they exist.

  25. curlydan

    I wish I could say the the “upper Midwest” got scared straight by COVID, but somehow I doubt it. We’ve seen so many waves in COVID from March onward that the decline in ND, MN, and WI probably is just another lull in the storm. Here in the middle Midwest, I’ve seen the same attitudes and no one more worried than previously. Just waiting for the next wave to hit.

  26. Amfortas the hippie

    adjacent to one of the links:

    within, a Daniel Boorstein quote:
    ““We are the most illusioned people on earth. Yet we dare not become disillusioned, because our illusions are the very house in which we live; they are our news, our heroes, our adventure, our forms of art, our very experience.””

    since 2016, i’ve had to go and re-read Boudrillard, and Guy deBord.
    Spectacle and Performance and Narrative…all the while the very idea of Narrative is pooh-poohed by the Narrative makers.
    I still think trump was an accident…he caught the car, and shocked himself as much as he shocked the Big Center Party of Adulting.
    but like 9-11, his ascendance was Lihopped and incorporated into the Narrative Framework….in a sense, he was a 4 year 9-11.

    and, I’ll drop this here:

    ran across it while i was avoiding the news.
    Keep Zbignew’s Grand Chessboard, etc in mind when reading it.

    1. Samuel Conner

      Listening closely to that YouTube link from the NC links, there is nothing in it that identifies this conversation with 2020 or CV-19,

      The video and audio quality also seem kind of poor for a recent “shoot”.

      I suspect that, if this is indeed KM (and I think it does look like him), the recording was made years ago, perhaps during a prior virus epidemic crisis, perhaps SARS, MERS or Ebola. Fauci has been around for a long time (head of NIAID since ’84, per Wikipedia), so perhaps this is an old recording that was “resurrected” and given new life as commentary relevant to the present crisis.

      1. Samuel Conner

        Poking around a bit more, I’d say it is KM and is considerably earlier than a 2013 TEDx talk that comes up in the playlist at YT when one views the linked item.

        Lambert’s displeasure with AF has a Nobelist precedent, I would say.

        1. carl

          I was curious about why Mullis had such withering comments on Fauci in the video; other than deriding his lack of expertise, he doesn’t really give any specifics. Something to do with the AIDS “scam,” whatever that is.

          1. flora

            Something to do with Fauci denying the use of effective drugs off-label to treat AIDS PNP pneumonia. Fauci wouldn’t greenlight the use even when many doctors were reporting success with the off-label use of the drug.

            Had Fauci listened to people with AIDS and the clinicians treating them, and responded accordingly, he would have saved thousands of lives. In the two years between 1987, when Callen met with Fauci and 1989, when the guidelines were ultimately issued, nearly 17,000 people with AIDS suffocated from PCP. Most of these people might have lived had Fauci responded appropriately.


      1. jean

        I believe Sherlock Conner was referring to the youtube link posted above in “Links”, not the twitter link posted in comments, Bill.

    1. Phillip Cross

      Let’s assume for a moment that you are correct, and covid-19 is a just narrative communicated by useful idiots, for unspecified reasons, and not a contagious disease. How do we explain the large increase in deaths from all causes in many hard hit nations during 2020?

      1. semiconscious

        nice attempt to strawman. i did not say that covid-19 was ‘just’ a narrative. what i said was that the covid narrative we’ve been presented with is the one created by fauci, ferguson, et al, & anything countering or questioning this particular narrative is either discredited or ignored…

        it’s one thing to acknowledge the existence of covid-19, & another thing entirely to accept either a particular way of thinking about it (as in such questionable concepts as ‘pcr positive cases’), or approach to dealing with it…

        1. Phillip Cross

          I’m thinking about it in terms of explaining “the large increase in deaths from all causes in many hard hit nations during 2020”, how are you thinking of it?

          Can I just look at whatever that Italian Architect’s opinions are on his Twitter feed, and transpose them to you?

          1. semiconscious

            i’m thinking about it in these terms:×393.png

            both the asian flu, & the hong kong flu were estimated to’ve killed between one & four million people world wide (at a point in time when the total population was half the size it is now). during both these pandemics there were no lockdowns, no travels bans, no businesses/jobs destroyed, no masks, no distancing, no vaccines. hell, we even had a massive rock concert called woodstock during one of’m!…

            i’m thinking in terms of covid the way i think in terms of these other pandemics: tragedies that are a part of life. nothing less, & nothing more…

            1. Phillip Cross

              Covid 19 could well end up killing more than ’58 flu globally, and that’s after all the public information available now and all the precautionary health measures that have been taken globally to stop the spread.

              Imagine how many would have died if everyone just shrugged and ignored it, just as you seem to advocate.

              Luckily for you, there are no personal repercussions for being totally and dangerously wrong. Governments cant take that cavalier attitude. They have a duty to try and protect the nation.

            2. Kurt Sperry

              That’s a remarkably immoral, callous, and irresponsible attitude. But that’s anti-vaxxers in a nutshell.

              How the heck did something like that clear moderation?! Disappointing.

              1. ambrit

                Beware of ending up in an “echo chamber.”
                One essential aspect of “science” is ‘vigorous discussion’ of competing points of view.
                Plus, one of the rules from “The Art of War” is “Know your enemy.”

                  1. ambrit

                    That would make an interesting “art” film; “President Lincoln’s Cabinet of Curiosities.”
                    Curious that we’re citing A Lincoln in regard to the Dreaded Pathogen Pandemic. Will this be a “point of inflection” for America today like the War Between the States was then?

              2. drexciya

                It’s remarkably callous to use measures that don’t necessarily work as advertised, like lockdowns, without a serious discussion about the collateral damage. In my opinion, the damage caused by lockdowns, and other Covid-19 measures, will be larger than Covid itself.

                The current approach doesn’t seem to work, why not look for an alternative approach? Aggressive early treatment using iMAPS+ (Ivermectin), focus on prevention (diabetes 2 and obesity as co-morbidities), and prophylactic use of vitamin D (and other supplements). Simple, cheap and safe.

                This is very different from “just let it rip”. I’m not sold on the vaccines, given their murky safety profiles, and the rather lame end points used to get them approved.

                1. ambrit

                  The “alternative approaches” are being implemented in America, but on an ad hoc basis, and by ‘individual’ actors.
                  I have had an extremely hard time trying to convince relatives, much less friends and neighbors, to be skeptical about the entire “public health” process being mangled today in America. I have generally met with “discreet silence” from others when the subject has arisen.

                2. Phillip Cross

                  That sounds like “just let it rip”, treat people as needed, whilst preventing diabetes (?) and forcing people to lose weight overnight (?). If only everything was that simple!

          1. furies

            And that article is full of shit…

            Just complete and utter nonsense. Poo-pooing the fact that a section of the country does not buy the Covid story–at all. I know, because I live in an area that refuses to do any preventative measure *at all*, believing their QAnon, Faux Noose, or in this case, Stat.

            How many must die before Americans ‘get it’? And more personally; how in the hell am I suppose to ‘protect’ myself when surrounded by deniers? Fresh out of minions, here.

            1. Shiloh1

              I’m willing to give up my place in the vaccine line to 7,500,000,000 more deserving fellow humans.

              That’s just the kind of guy I am.

            2. chris

              All that article from the other day says is that a majority of the country bordering on 75%+ doesn’t believe that COVID-19 is “fake news.” And that a majority approaching 70% is open to getting the vaccine but they’re concerned about some of the things they’ve heard about it. That’s great news. But it doesn’t mean that no one in the country is a COVID denier, just that most people aren’t. So how is that nonsense?

              1. furies

                I guess just like any other yahoo; my eyes and my own extended networks.

                (and the resulting caseload and death count)

                Cali–we’re #1!

                ps I do wonder the difference in compliance between rural and urban. Maybe those of you who are seeing compliance with safety ‘suggestions’ are in a more urban area.

          2. Carolinian

            Thanks you and IM Doc for a bit of narrative skepticism. You are of course being attacked and straw manned.

            Surely no one can deny that the response to this disease among the media and also many scientists has been hugely political–just as every discussion in Trump time seems to have become political. Some of us just want the truth and feel like NC is a good place to look.

    2. Cameron

      What sort of COVID narrative do you think we should be hearing? The people who made the Great Barrington Declaration include lots of reputable scientists, especially those in public health. My problem with them isn’t that they make this statement in bad faith or that they don’t have expertise in the field; I don’t feel we know enough about this disease to really open things up the way they favor.

      1. semiconscious

        see my response above. i’d say that experiencing periodic pandemics appears to be part of the price of being human beings living on this planet. &, looking back on the asian flu & hong kong flu, this seems to’ve been pretty much everyone’s attitude at the time, as well…

        we currently are being led by a group of individuals who’ve become convinced, & who cannot stop reassuring us, that, with enough tinkering & tweaking, they can somehow ‘fix’ this. i, personally, do not trust these people…

        1. IM Doc

          There was a time and day not that long ago – even in the early days of my professional career – where these issues were discussed rationally. I distinctly remember a lecture given by one of the best “Infectious Disease” minds of this country stating that pandemics were a price of admission on this planet, that viruses and their occasional introduction were part of our own genetic heritage, and tinkering with that could cause great harm to not only our species but the entire biosphere.

          I point you to this lecture, given by a Nobel Laureate in 1988. I doubt this lecture would be met well in today’s world; however, it is more germane than ever if one is trying to think through our current situation.

          1. Phillip Cross

            What’s wrong with the lecture, by today’s standards? The lecturer says that the existential threat from viral pandemic is real, but he worries we won’t be able to do what it takes when the big one comes, because people won’t want to take the measures necessary to stop it getting out of control.

            Sounds about right to me.

            We are just very lucky that this virus isn’t more deadly, because the US showed itself to be defenseless in the face of it.

      2. flora

        I’m all for vaccines. These 2 new vaccines look to have been developed with maximum profits in mind, imo, which is a little worrisome. The rush to cross the finish line first to maximize profits might not have led to cutting corners on tests. But, I can’t be sure of that so I’ll probably wait; I’m not a healthcare provider who needs an early shot. I’ll watch how the rollout goes for a few months.

        “Pfizer’s vaccine maximizes profit, not the greater good | Column

        The vaccine is great, but so will be the profits, writes the dean of University of Miami’s business school.”

        1. VietnamVet

          A real problem is that there is just enough history, science and common sense to know that Americans are being scammed but there is no recourse except to isolate oneself, if able. The pandemic is real. Instead of ending it, the plan is to inject as many people as possible for as long as possible to increase corporate profits and bonuses – profiteering on illness.

          Donald Trump is a fading disaster unless he self-explodes in the next four weeks. Joe Biden definitely knows his way around Washington DC but this is not 1972 anymore. He changed the USA so badly it is incapable of combating coronavirus. His medical advisor, Dr. Anthony Fauci, failed with both the HIV and COVID19 pandemics.

          There is no Plan B public option – the restoration the public health system within a functional government. If the vaccines do not eradicate the virus inside the USA, all that is left is the continued picking of carrion off of the bones.

  27. Zephyrum

    My girlfriend and I have finally recovered from a bout of Covid. My evidence that it was real is a positive PCR test, 10 days of feeling crappy. losing our sense of smell, etc. My sense of smell is coming back only slowly, but day-by-day. I cannot speak to the more severe cases, but if anyone is skeptical about the reality of the disease I am happy to amplify on our experience. BTW, we believe we were infected by a friend of my girlfriend who denies the existence of Covid. They worked together after Thanksgiving. Perhaps she is an asymptomatic carrier.

        1. chris

          I recently recovered from a mild case of it too. It is no joke. I too was infected by someone who tried to tell other people that COVID was not a big deal and just like the flu…but that has been a minority position in my personal and professional circles. Maybe 1 out of 50 people I deal with have an opinion on that spectrum, and of those, only 2 that I know of really think this is all a hoax.

          Glad to hear you’re feeling better!

  28. fwe'theewell

    Thanks to NC mostly, I’ve pieced together that “inflation” by-and-large means the lessening of inequality, or more directly, the equalizing of society. The edge or schism that gives meaning to wealth would erode, if workers had more consuming/ buying power. Hoarded wealth would lose worth apace with the inflating of workers’ egos.

    There goes the neighborhood, along with the ability to control production and work. Ability to define culture, happiness, leisure, access to health and really, even reproduction. The great horror of inflation is that with inflated access to the good life, everyone will be equally poor. The truth is, we already have so much hyperabundance that is instead being hoarded and gamed.

    This is why pensions/ “lucky” workers/ public employees / essential people like teachers, nurses, factory workers, and firemen are together the biggest “investors,” so that they have a tiny taste of the “vested” interest in the financialization scam. More and more people/ money/ vested are needed because the more participants/ iterations, the higher accuracy achieved by predictive/ mathematical models to extract from the tippy-top of the smoothie.

    “Where are the customers’ yachts?”

  29. dcblogger

    behold our elite:
    Books by the Foot, a service run by the Maryland-based bookseller Wonder Book, has become a go-to curator of Washington bookshelves, offering precisely what its name sounds like it does. As retro as a shelf of books might seem in an era of flat-panel screens, Books by the Foot has thrived through Democratic and Republican administrations, including that of the book-averse Donald Trump. And this year, the company has seen a twist: When the coronavirus pandemic arrived, Books by the Foot had to adapt to a downturn in office- and hotel-decor business—and an uptick in home-office Zoom backdrops for the talking-head class.

    1. chris

      No, not at all. Articles here on NC as well as multiple discussion from experts on podcasts like TWIV have acknowledged that PCR as a tool has a lot of limitations when applied to COVID. Especially because no one gets their CT count with a typical test. That’s really important if you’ve had it and then been told you need a clear test result to return to work. If you get a result of 34 passes or greater, you have so little virus in you that it doesn’t matter that you tested positive via PCR.

      1. john halasz

        Umm…. Mullis died last year, pre-covid-19 so he couldn’t have been citing any technicalities as you mention. His denunciation of Fauci as not a ‘real” scientist, no doubt goes back earlier, to the 1990’s and 2000’s, when Mullis was adamantly denying that HIV caused AIDS, something Fauci was a key figure in establishing. He was also denying AGW during that same time frame. There are several cases of scientists being legitimately awarded a legitimate Nobel, who then go off on strange tangents based on their perceived .prestige, William Shockley spent the rest of his career peddling racist IQ theories. More harmlessly, Linus Pauling spent much time promoting the miraculous effects of vitamin C. The Germans have a term of someone who is brilliant in one narrow specialization and a complete ignoramus about anything else, usually without realizing it: Fachidiot. Dr, Ben Carson would be a good example. Giving the likes of Mullis a forum for expressing “skepticism” without any source criticism is not responsible. There may be many grounds, i.e. good reasons, for expressing doubt or uncertainty about what is a novel and complex problem. But using the likes of Mullis to give free reign to licentious “skepticism” is definitely not helpful.

        1. chris

          Not sure what you’re replying to. I didn’t say that Mullis had expressed any skepticism with respect to COVID. How could he have? As for skepticism about Fauci, and many of the people who came up during the AIDS crisis, it’s something any scientist has to be ready to receive and respond to over time. Dr. Gallo for instance has as many admirers as critics. He was a big proponent of convalescent serum as a way of treating COVID early on and as far as I’ve heard he’s still pushing it despite a lack of evidence.

          But with respect to RT-PCR CT count, and the problems with the test as a tool for detecting COVID, that’s been reported in Science, discussed on multiple podcasts with reputable scientists like TWIV, and is a well known issue with the technique. It is the same as using a proverbial bazooka to kill a mosquito at some point.

          Here’s the CDC page for FAQS discussing the problems with using RT PCR for COVID related issues. For example, the results can’t tell you if you’re infectious or not.

          Here’s an article from Science discussing similar issues.

          Here’s the link to TWIV. I forget which episode they discuss it, but it is something that’s been known for a while now that if the number of passes from the test is higher than 34, you really don’t have enough virus in you to count. As far as I’m aware, the only state that requires CT count be reported with results is Florida. But maybe that’s changed. It’s not something I’ve paid too much attention to because I can’t get that data where I live.

  30. ewmayer

    (Wanted to post the following to today’s “Rolling Out the Vaccine” article, but comments there are closed.)

    Heard something very interesting re. the Oxford-AstraZeneca [OAZ] Covid-19 vaccine. Context: did an annual pre-Christmas meet-up with a longtime friend and former apartment-complex neighbor of mine from my Silicon Valley days last week. His girlfriend of 18 months – he’s in his early 60s, she looks to be perhaps 10 years younger from the pics he’s shown me – lives on the E coast, and one of her best friends from college works as an MD on a US military base – he didn’t say which – in Virginia. Per her, they were vaccinating medical staff and military personnel there – including the gf’s MD friend – using the OAZ vaccine already BACK IN MARCH. Never known him to be a bullshitter, and he has a pretty BS detector himself.

    So obvious first thing to do is examine the history of the OAZ vaccine to see if it’s one of those based on longstanding research which simply needed a bit of genetic tweaking to include specific key gene sequences unique to SARS-CoV-2, and thus might’ve been available for early human trials at that time. The Wikipedia article on the vaccine disappointingly says nothing about the early development work – the “History” subsection begins with June – but does desribe the formulation:

    The AZD1222 vaccine is a replication-deficient simian adenovirus vector, containing the full‐length codon‐optimized coding sequence of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein along with a tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) leader sequence.

    The researchers used the SARS-CoV-2 genome that had been sequenced in Wuhan. The modified monkey adenovirus cannot replicate, so does not cause further infection, and instead acts as a vector to transfer the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.

    The spike S1 protein is an external protein that enables the SARS-type coronavirus to enter cells through the enzymatic domain of ACE2. After vaccination, this spike protein is produced, promoting the immune system to attack the coronavirus if it later infects the body.

    Looking for early-year items in the article’s list of links, we have this News item from the Oxford U website dated 7 February:
    Oxford team to begin novel coronavirus vaccine research: A research team at Oxford University’s Jenner Institute is preparing to begin clinical testing of a novel coronavirus vaccine candidate

    The Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford has agreed a contract with Italian manufacturer Advent Srl to produce the first batch of a novel coronavirus vaccine for clinical testing.

    The vaccine ‘seed stock’ is currently being produced at the University’s Clinical Biomanufacturing Facility, and will be transferred to Advent who will initially produce 1,000 doses for the first clinical trials of the vaccine, ChAdOx1 nCoV-19.

    The Jenner Institute has been working on a vaccine against another coronavirus, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), which has been shown to induce strong immune responses against MERS after a single dose of the vaccine in the first clinical trial which took place in Oxford. A second clinical trial of the MERS vaccine is underway in Saudi Arabia, which is where most MERS cases have occurred. The same approach to making the vaccine is being taken for the novel coronavirus vaccine.

    Further searching for “Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine early trials”, we find this mention of an early trial (the results of which were formally published in a linked article in The Lancet), in April:

    The foot race to develop the first effective vaccine against COVID-19 involves an awfully crowded field, with 137 candidate vaccines in pre-clinical study worldwide and another 23 actually in development. But a leader seemed to emerge today with research published in the Lancet reporting promising results in a robust study by investigators at Oxford University in England.

    The study began in April, with a sample group of 1,077 adults aged 18 to 55—an age group young enough to tolerate exposure to SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes COVID-19, with less risk of adverse effects than would be seen in older, more vulnerable adults.

    So it certainly seems possible that US/UK might’ve been engaged in, shall we say, “unpublished” early trials on their servicemembers – the militaries have never been shy about dosing soldiers with experimental vaccines – remember the vax-cocktails Gulf War veterans describe, often accompanied by tales of debilitating long-term after-effects?

    1. Ignacio

      Short answer: nah!
      You are a long way to know anything relevant about the how the Oxford vaccine platform was developed, this vaccine candidate in particular, its sequence of vaccine trials, and more generally about vaccines based in virus platforms such as the similar Russian Sputnik vaccine. Let me suggest you something more sophisticated if you want to increase the noise level with some credibility.

      As if there weren’t enough noises about Covid and vaccines.

      1. ewmayer

        If it really is BS, fine – but I thought arguments from authority were discouraged hereabouts. I provided links re. published early trials no later than April. If a slightly earlier March trial on e.g. military ‘volunteers’ is impossible, it would be nice if you would provide at least one credible reference which explains why, instead of mere “shut up you silly little head” pooh-poohing.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          This is not an argument from authority and you are out of line. The two links and quotes you provided don’t even begin to prove the claim that servicemembers were involuntary guinea pigs. In fact, any data from that process would be unusable in a clinical trial due to the lack of consent, and those quotes were solely about clinical trials.

          On top of that, sevicemembers would be unrepresentative of the general population due to age, gender mix, and not being as overweight, and likely lower incidence of chronic health conditions. So they would be an unsuitable trial population, save perhaps for a phase 1 (safety) trial, and those are done with very very small numbers of people.

  31. kareninca

    My 96 y.o. father in law lives with us. I was off doing an errand today, and my husband called, frantic. FIL had been acting strangely – not responding when my husband spoke – and my husband had called 911. I rushed home; for the first time in my life I intentionally ran a red light. I found 5+ emergency vehicles out front. Of course all of his vitals were fine and it turned out to have been low blood pressure. I now have a call in to an advice nurse to ask about reducing his meds. FIL is now having a happy nap.

    Now don’t get me wrong – I am extremely grateful that these guys showed up. But there were about ten of them, all in our place. Supposedly we are doing very badly in Santa Clara County, CA, vis a vis the virus. If we were infected by covid, all of these guys would be exposed. It would have been better if they’d just sent in a few, for their own safety.

  32. dubray

    From Gemma O’Doherty’s blog

    The Irish people asked their government to prove that the covid-19 virus actually exists. By Irish law, they have the right to ask this

    After taking weeks to respond, HSE (the Irish national health emergency team) Finally Admit That Covid19 Has Not Been Scientifically Proven To Exist

    Okay, so the Irish people asked the following questions: If the virus has not been scientifically proven to exist, how can you prove that Lockdowns work, and what is the purpose of the covid vaccine, if the virus we are being vaccinated against, has not been proven to exist

    Gemma O’Doherty explains in a 10 minute video

    1. Kurt Sperry

      Questioning if the Covid-19 virus exists is from a rational viewpoint comparable to questioning if the Earth is oblately spherical vs. flat. Why would anyone listen to this sort of crazy drivel? And where is the moderation here? I’m serious, NC is better than this, far better.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Did you miss our announcement that this is a comments holiday? Meaning we ought to be sticking to our guns and not having them on for any posts. If you are going to whine like that, we’ll turn them off entirely till Jan 2. Ingrate.

        1. Kurt Sperry

          In my defense, the provocation here is extreme to say the very least: the suggestion that it is possible or even likely the Covid-19 virus doesn’t exist. If my “whining” by merely pointing that out is deemed worse than outright Covid denialism (which sailed through moderation), what does that say?

          I will refrain from making any comments on moderation here in the future, that’s really just an unfortunate distraction from what is a pretty shocking example of potentially very dangerous denialism. My apologies for getting out of my lane.

    2. Lambert Strether

      > The Irish people asked their government to prove

      I have no idea what this means operationally. What was the mechanism? Referendum? Public hearing? Internet poll? Where is the link to government’s response?

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Gemma O’Doherty is a well known right wing racist loon in Ireland, she has a clutch of around 100 odd supporters (judging from the same faces who appear on every demonstration she organises), and the tiny vote she got when she once ran for election), but they have a very large social media presence, amplified by people following her for the giggles.

      2. Phillip Cross

        Fact check: The SARS-CoV-2 virus has been identified and studied by scientists globally

        “A video falsely claiming that COVID-19 does not exist has been shared online. The 12-minute clip shows Irish former journalist and activist Gemma O’Doherty standing outside Ireland’s Department of Health with what she says is “proof” the novel coronavirus isn’t real.”

        She holds an alleged response to a Freedom of Information Request (FOI) from the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and says: “They confirmed, and I will read it out now to you, that the DHSC does not hold any information on the isolation of a SARS-CoV-2 virus. In other words, it does not exist”.

        “Reuters confirmed that an FOI matching the contents described in the video was sent to the DHSC on Nov. 2 but could not find the response O’Doherty describes”

        FOI request and response here:

        “Dear Mr Kent,

        Thank you for your email.

        The Freedom of Information Act only applies to recorded information such as paper or electronic archive material. As your correspondence asked for general information and an opinion rather than requesting recorded information or documentation, it did not fall under the provisions of the Act. It will be answered as general correspondence in due course.

        Yours sincerely,

        FOI Team
        Department of Health and Social Care”


    3. BlakeFelix

      How do we even know anything is real, man? Maybe we are all just, like, living in the Matrix, seeing shadows on the wall. Maybe the robot overlords are secretly harvesting our precious American bodily fluids… I mean seriously, people are studying COVID-19 gene variations. It exists to any reasonable standard.

    1. BrianC - PDX

      My brother in law and sister run a company in Montana that cares for the 2nd, 3rd, and nth houses of people from out of state while the owners are away. One of the tasks is to get the houses ready for occupation when the owners are going to fly in. For Christmas, or… escaping the Covid restrictions in their original places of residence.

      As part of that service, in the winter, they sometimes have to “turn on the driveway”. Some of the homes have cement driveways with electric heaters to melt the snow. These are sometimes several hundred feet long. In Montana.

        1. Angie Neer

          With active heating as described by BrianC, I would expect the melted ice to evaporate pretty quickly, leaving the way dry. Flame thrower might handle that, too, if you have the right touch.

  33. Cuibono

    Yesterday there as a reprint about the Vaccine that asked: “Where’s the public health?”
    It all comes down IMO to Cuibono.
    It surprises me that the author failed to consider this.

      1. Cuibono

        I know a thing or two about measles, having worked for a year in the midst of a large outbreak in the golden triangle and led vaccine efforts there 40 years ago.

  34. Cuibono

    Is it just me or does the swirl of news and conjecture around all things Covid including mutations, vaccines, case counts, ethics, conspiracy, anti-conspiracy seem to be accelerating?
    i don’t want to sound alarmist but…

    1. Phillip Cross

      They are trying to squeeze as many clicks as they can out of us now, just in case the vaccines work.

  35. chris

    I know it’s been discussed ad nauseum how bad search has become but every now and then I get a reminder of how crapified it’s become. We’re looking to commission some furniture. We want to pay a local craftsman to do it. Using DuckDuckGo I couldn’t find a local furniture maker as an option within the first 6 pages of results. On the 7th page I found stuff that was in the region but certainly not where we live. When I posted a request on the local faceborg page for our area I was given 5 options that were within 16 minutes of my house. None of which showed up on any search for: furniture making, carpentry, woodworking, custom tables, or furniture design. How can I support local businesses if I can’t even find them?

  36. Acacia

    Vaccine news from Japan:

    Dr. Ken Ishii (vaccine science) of the Institute of Medical Science, the University of Tokyo, who is involved in domestic development, gave a lecture at the Japan National Press Club on 12/26. COVID vaccines have been put into practical use overseas and testing has begun in Japan. However, Dr. Ishii suggests that it will take at least four to five years before the social effects can be felt, such as the appearance of almost no infected people. “It is hard to imagine that our current lifestyle will be unnecessary soon,” he indicated.

    The current plan (based upon an announcement from the Ministry of Health, indicated via a chart on the news story) is roughly as follows:

    Phase (1) Advanced vaccination of medical workers (approx. 10,000 people), late Feb through the beginning of March 2021.
    Phase (2) Medical workers, etc. (approx. 4 million people), during March 2021.
    Phase (3) Elderly, age 65+ (approx. 36 million people), end of March through beginning of April 2021
    Phase (4) First group: people with pre-existing conditions (8.2 million); second group: elderly care workers in group homes (2 million); third group: if vaccine is still available, all people aged 60~64 (7.5 million). Time frame: after April.

    However, in an editorial appearing in the Chugoku Shimbun on 12/10, we also find the following:

    Pfizer has reached a basic agreement with the Japanese govt., that 120 million doses (60 million people) of the company’s vaccine will be supplied to Japan in the first half of 2021. After clinical trials and examinations, vaccination in Japan is expected to begin in March.

    The editorial notes the difficulty in transporting the vaccine at ultra-low temperatures, and casts doubt on the Ministry of Health’s plan to vaccinate millions by the end of 2021, as overly-optimistic. “There are 6.7 million long-term care facility residents and medical staff alone. It is expected to take several months just to vaccinate them.” Doubts are also raised about the system to roll out the vaccine in Japan, which hasn’t prepared in the way that some other countries (e.g., the U.K.) have.

    A survey of 15 countries, including Japan, is cited, indicating that 70% of respondents agree with vaccination, while the remaining 30% do not agree. Their concerns were often about side effects, or that the clinical trials have been conducted too hastily, or that the new vaccine technology is not proven safe.

    Draw your own conclusions.

  37. rjs

    i’m late to that National Geographic article, but i think i see their key fallacy…as i tweeted to the authors:

    Replying to @MoNscience and @WeiPoints

    YES: “the virus has more opportunities to replicate, increasing the odds for mutations.”
    NO: “use of the therapies may put more pressure on the germ to evolve.”

    a virus cant respond to pressure. it is a dumb chunk of protein & genetic code without agency..

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