2:00PM Water Cooler 1/20/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Sadly, not our national bird.


At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart from 91-DIVOC. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site.

I feel I’m engaging in a macabre form of tape-watching… If these declines continues through the end of the week, I’m gonna have to conclude we aren’t looking at a reporting effect from the long weekend. Of course, we might get a spike in ten days or so, if people were paryting on MLK day, but with luck it will be a clip. Of course, there are those worrisome variants, so a mood of sunny optimism is not warranted…

Vaccination by region:

The South stumbles. Supply problems?

Case count by United States region:

Big states (New York, Florida, Texas, California):

Test positivity:

Nowhere near 3%, anywhere.


Hospitalization is discretionary; they may also be reducing their admissions rate — relative to cases we cannot see in this data! — to preserve future capacity; or because hospitals have figured out how to send people home.

Case fatality rate (plus deaths):


“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune

“They had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.” –Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord


Banquo at the feast:

The knitted mittens though!

The nuclear football arrives:

Lady Gaga:

Biden speech:


Schedule for the rest of the day:

* * *

Inauguration hot takes (and I’ve encountered several that I can’t embed because they’ve been deleted):


Lambert here: I’m sure there are many, even at NC, who feel this way. To them, I apologize if I seem unduly sour or blasé. Please understand I’ve been at this a long time. I’m so old I can remember being inspired by Bill Clinton’s “Man from Hope” speech (in 1992, eating Chinese take-out spare ribs, after the Al-Anon meeting in Dorchester, MA). To me, the Biden administration has form: The same people who failed to rise to the occasion in 2009 — “creating the conditions for Trump,” as we say — are in power again. They have form. We must pray they do better with the power granted to them in 2021. Very little in their strategy or tactics from 2017 onward would lead one to believe those prayers would be answered. Nor did the campaign Biden ran. After the Crash, the Democrats took care of their base only:

Adding highlight to the Morning Consult chart I ran this morning, it’s happening again, in this crisis:

Will the liberal Democrats be able to reverse this trend? Do they have any desire to? 1202021 is a palindrome: in the beginning is the end, and in the end, the beginning.



* * *



It is true we don’t export bananas. So there’s that.

* * *

“Beyoncé and Dua Lipa Are Featured on Biden-Harris Inauguration Playlist” [Teen Vogue]. “Although this year’s ceremony will feature a largely virtual celebration, President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have unveiled a specially-curated playlist that will bring the festivities to your home. On Friday, January 15, the Presidential Inauguration Committee, along with D-Nice and Raedio, an ‘audio everywhere label’ founded by Issa Rae and Benoni Tagoe, released the official Biden-Harris inauguration playlist, Billboard reports. Featuring 46 tracks, the playlist is intended to reflect feelings of togetherness, collaboration, and unity. In a statement, the Biden-Harris team explained that the selection of tracks “represents the diversity of our nation, and our strength and resilience as we look forward to new leadership and a new era in America.'” • Beyoncé not, however, in the prime time special.

Transition to Biden

“Can Joe Biden Succeed Where Barack Obama Failed?” [David Sirota, Newsweek]. The quote to end all quotes: “Obama would later write that he avoided a crackdown on Wall Street because that might have ‘required a violence to the social order.’” That reverence for the status quo—and deference to Wall Street after the financial crisis and housing meltdown—ultimately helped create the backlash conditions for the rise of Trump. One data point suggested a direct linkage: In one-third of the counties that flipped from Obama to Donald Trump, there had been an increase in the number of residents whose home mortgages were underwater in 2016, according to a study by the Center for American Progress.” • Maybe the Obama Alumni Association learned something from this. Maybe. I doubt it. I have the feeling that the direction of this Administration was set during the transition period, and that direction was little to do with “violence to the social order,” which is the very last thing the Democrat base, the PMC, is all about.

“Biden Should Go Big, Fast, and Simple” [The Atlantic]. Well, I’m still smarting over this one: “The centerpiece of the U.S. rescue will be direct payments worth $2,000 to individuals. (That figure technically includes the $600 already sent to millions of households.) Direct payments are the opposite of the sly paternalism preferred by Obama officials in the 2009 stimulus.” • “Technically,” my Sweet Aunt Fanny! Warnock ran — and won — on campaign advertising with an image of a US government check for $2000 (Two Thousand Dollars). These people are so, so detached. And how is two thousand dollars with an asterisk in any way “big, fast, and simple”?

* * *

“Biden Announces Nation Will Rejoin Paris Hilton Fan Club” (podcast) [The Topical]. “For the first time since 2016, the U.S. will join over 188 other nations in celebrating the career of the esteemed businesswoman-slash-model-slash-singer-slash-actress.”

Obama Legacy

Obama decided Biden would be his Vice-Presidential candidate on August 23, 2008:

So I’m not sure “first” and “best” mean what Obama thinks they mean.

Transition from Trump

Too perfect:

Because I’m not a trusting soul, I searched on “Hit The Road Jack.” The video is doctored, as Russia Today — and nobody else — demonstrates. Not tagged by Twitter as “manipulated media,” for good or ill.

I didn’t know Greta did irony:

I’m genuinely not sure whether this photo has been Photoshopped:

Realignment and Legitimacy

“H.R.1 – For the People Act of 2021” [Congress.gov]. From Subtitle F, Section 1502(a)(2)(A)(i):

(i) Paper ballot requirement.–(I) The voting system shall require the use of an individual, durable, voter-verified paper ballot of the voter’s vote that shall be marked and made available for inspection and verification by the voter before the voter’s vote is cast and counted, and which shall be counted by hand or read by an optical character recognition device or other counting device. For purposes of this subclause, the term `individual, durable, voter-verified paper ballot’ means a paper ballot marked by the voter by hand or a paper ballot marked through the use of a nontabulating ballot marking device or system, so long as the voter shall have the option to mark his or her ballot by hand.

So, paper ballots, but not hand-marked, and not auditable. In other word, election fraud is legal, absent a requirement that proprietary source code can be examined, and perhaos not even then.

“Biden’s Intel Chief Says ‘We Are a Long Ways’ From Returning to Iran Deal” [Antiwar.com]. “Joe Biden’s nominee for Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines, said during Senate confirmation hearings on Tuesday that the incoming administration is a ‘long ways’ from reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA. Haines said that Biden ‘has indicated that if Iran were to come back into compliance, that he would direct that we do so as well. And I think, frankly, that we are a long ways from that.'”

“To understand Trump’s support, we must think in terms of multiracial Whiteness” [Cristina Beltrán, WaPo]. “What are we to make of … Latino voters inspired by Trump? And what are we to make of unmistakably White mob violence that also includes non-White participants? I call this phenomenon multiracial whiteness — the promise that they, too, can lay claim to the politics of aggression, exclusion and domination.” • Not sure why that final “white” is lower-case. Anyhow, from Philip K. DIck’s The Man in the High Castle:

“Did you hear the Bob Hope show the other night?” she called. “He told this really funny joke, the one where this German major is interviewing some Martians. The Martians can’t provide racial documentation about their grandparents being Aryan, you know. So the German major reports back to Berlin that Mars is populated by Jews. And they’re about one foot tall, and have two heads… you know how Bob Hope goes on.”

(To be clear, I’m not calling Beltrán a Nazi; it’s her… flexibility of mind I’m calling attention to.)

“In Tampa Bay area, 2,000 Republicans switch parties in days after Capitol riot” [Tampa Bay Times]. “Since the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, what appears to be an unusual number of Republicans in the three biggest Tampa Bay area counties have switched parties, mostly to no party affiliation, but some becoming Democrats. News reports in Florida and nationwide have noted a similar phenomenon elsewhere, with voters citing anger at President Donald Trump and his supporters. But at least a few Republicans may also be switching out of anger that party leaders haven’t backed Trump strongly enough, including one Hillsborough County Republican Party official. According to figures from Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas elections supervisors, 2,025 Republicans in the three counties switched parties from Jan. 6 through Thursday.”


He’s not wrong.

Stats Watch

At reader request, I added some business stats back in. Please give Econintersect click-throughs; they’re a good, old-school blog that covers more than stats.

Containers: “December 2020 Sea Container Imports Continue At Record Pace. Exports Decline Year-over-Year.” [Econintersect]. “The import container counts for the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach improved month-over-month and ended the year in record territory. Exports continued in contraction and ended the year below last year’s pace…. On top of a trade war and the world pandemic, import container counts continue to surge. There is chaos in container movements with containers in the wrong place and shortages of rail cars to move containers – however, the container situation again improved this month – but there continues a shortage of containers. Simply looking at this month versus last month – exports and exports improved.”

Trucking: “December 2020 Trucking Improved” [Econintersect]. “Headline data for the CASS Freight Index show that truck volumes show volumes grew month-over-month – and the year-over-year growth advanced further in positive territory. The American Trucking Association (ATA) index improved and now is in expansion.”

* * *

Retail: “Gyms will move to a ‘hybrid model’: celebrity trainer Jillian Michaels” [Yahoo Finance]. “From affordable dumbbells and yoga mats to pricey treadmills and stationary bikes, health and fitness equipment revenue more than doubled to $2.3 billion from March to October, according to NPD retail data. [Celebrity fitness trainer Jillian Michaels] admits she misses the gym and her classes. ‘So maybe I won’t spend a couple hundred dollars a month on that expensive gym membership, but I will take my favorite yoga teacher’s yoga class, or I will take that one spin class out of the house. And then I’ll probably do a couple workouts at home or around my home. I’ll save money. I’ll save time. I’ll get that social component.'” • Aren’t there workout classes on Zoom?

Retail: “Pandemic-driven cleaning routines boost P&G sales forecast again” [Reuters]. “Procter & Gamble Co raised its full-year sales forecast for a second time on Wednesday as it benefited from sustained coronavirus-driven demand for cleaning products, while also warning that the pace of sales might slow as vaccines roll out.” • A big boost from fomite theory. Sadly.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 68 Greed (previous close: 61 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 70 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 20 at 12:11pm.

The Biosphere

“Humans could move to this floating asteroid belt colony in the next 15 years, astrophysicist says” [LiveScience]. “Now more than ever, space agencies and starry-eyed billionaires have their minds fixed on finding a new home for humanity beyond Earth’s orbit. Mars is an obvious candidate, given its relatively close proximity, 24-hour day/night cycle and CO2-rich atmosphere. However, there’s a school of spacefaring thought that suggests colonizing the surface of another planet — any planet — is more trouble than it’s worth. Now, a new paper published Jan. 6 date to the preprint database arXiv offers a creative counter-proposal: Ditch the Red Planet, and build a gargantuan floating habitat around the dwarf planet Ceres, instead. In the paper, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, astrophysicist Pekka Janhunen of the Finnish Meteorological Institute in Helsinki describes his vision of a “megasatellite” of thousands of cylindrical spacecrafts, all linked together inside a disk-shaped frame that permanently orbits Ceres — the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Each of these cylindrical habitats could accommodate upwards of 50,000 people, support an artificial atmosphere and generate an Earth-like gravity through the centrifugal force of its own rotation, Janhunen wrote.” • I’m reading Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy (hat tip, alert readers Stanley Dundee and Marbles). Wherever you go, there you are.

“Mammalian Aggression” [Sarah Constantin]. “In trying to understand how aggression works, as well as aggressive emotions like anger, I decided to go to the animal literature…. What the mammal literature says about aggression is that it splits neatly into discrete types. Researchers disagree on exactly how many clusters there are, since there are inevitable judgment calls in defining taxonomies. And the pattern is somewhat different depending on species. But one very consistent finding is that there are qualitatively different types of aggression. They are governed by different hormones, activated in different situations, and seem to involve different subjective experiences…. A certain cluster of behaviors in mammals can be called “defensive aggression“, “affective defense,” or “defensive rage”. These behaviors are reactions to pain or immediate threat, whether that threat comes from a member of the same species, a member of a different species, or an inanimate object…. Social aggression, unlike defensive aggression, is directed only at members of one’s own species. It is sometimes called “intermale aggression” or “hormone-dependent aggression” even though it is not exclusive to males, because it is generally more common in males and correlates well to testosterone levels. It also inversely correlates to serotonin levels. Social aggression revolves around competition for scarce resources – mates, territory, or in some species food and water. It generally involves threat displays intended to make an opponent back down without a fight. … Maternal aggression is the propensity of mammalian mothers to become more aggressive in defense of their offspring during pregnancy and while nursing. Predatory aggression is violence against edible prey. It is almost always directed against members of a different species, though some mutations make animals attack conspecifics in ways that resemble predatory aggression…. Mobbing refers to behaviors by groups of prey animals to approach, intently observe, harass, and attack a predator or other large member of another species. Mobbing is common in primates, particularly New World monkeys.”

“Monarch butterfly population moves closer to extinction” [ABC]. ” The number of western monarch butterflies wintering along the California coast has plummeted precipitously to a record low, putting the orange-and-black insects closer to extinction, researchers announced Tuesday. An annual winter count by the Xerces Society recorded fewer than 2,000 butterflies, a massive decline from the tens of thousands tallied in recent years and the millions that clustered in trees from Northern California’s Marin County to San Diego County in the south in the 1980s.”

Health Care

“SARS-CoV-2 501Y.V2 escapes neutralization by South African COVID-19 donor plasma” (preprint) [bioRxiv]. The Abtstract: “SARS-CoV-2 501Y.V2, a novel lineage of the coronavirus causing COVID-19, contains multiple mutations within two immunodominant domains of the spike protein. Here we show that this lineage exhibits complete escape from three classes of therapeutically relevant monoclonal antibodies. Furthermore 501Y.V2 shows substantial or complete escape from neutralizing antibodies in COVID-19 convalescent plasma. These data highlight the prospect of reinfection with antigenically distinct variants and may foreshadow reduced efficacy of current spike-based vaccines.” And from the conclusion: “Ultimately, the correlates of protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection and severe COVID-19 disease remain undetermined and rely upon ongoing large-scale clinical trials. Nevertheless, the speed and scope of 501Y.V2 mediated immune escape from pre-existing neutralizing antibodies highlight the urgent requirement for rapidly adaptable vaccine design platforms, and the need to identify less mutable viral targets for incorporation into future immunogens.” • From a thread of commentary:

mRNA, it is to be hoped, is the “rapidly adaptable vaccine design platform” called for in the Abstract. (This morning’s Link on South African variants includes E484K and K417N and not N501Y.)

Police State Watch

Our Famously Free Press

Coordinated inauthentic activity:

There’s a word for this, I know it’ll come to me:

Class Warfare

“Workers like me”:

News of the Wired

“Exploring the role of competitive brain processes in artistic cognition” [MedicalXpress]. “n their paper, Nemeth and his colleagues took a first step toward understanding artistic cognition from a cognitive neuroscience perspective. Their main objective was to understand how the human brain deals with art and how an artist’s brain perceives the world, builds representations and uses neural processes related to intuition. In psychology, the term intuition refers to the human ability to understand or examine something instinctively, without consciously reasoning about it…. After reviewing past papers related to artistic cognition, Nemeth and his colleagues introduced the idea that when it comes to producing art, ‘less is more.’ More specifically, they suggested that ‘weaker’ prefrontal circuits, which are related to executive functions (i.e., cognitive processes that allow humans to control their behavior and focus on a task at hand, such as working memory and flexible thinking), can actually lead to more effective artistic cognition. The researchers refer to this phenomenon as the Andras effect. ‘For example, if a photographer can tune down her control functions and access to long-term memories, she can perceive a ‘different world’; a world without expectations or past memories,’ Nemeth said. ‘We can call this intuitive photography.'”

“For the First Time in 200 Years, a New Blue Pigment Is Up for Sale” [Smithsonian]. “In 2009, researchers at Oregon State University discovered YInMn Blue—the first new blue pigment identified in 200 years—while developing materials for use in electronics. Led by chemist Mas Subramanian, the team quickly realized that it had stumbled onto something significant. “People have been looking for a good, durable blue color for a couple of centuries,” Subramanian told NPR’s Gabriel Rosenberg in 2016…. Now that the EPA has given its stamp of approval, the pigment is finally available for commercial use, with paint retailers such as Kremer Pigmente in Germany and Golden in the U.S. offering YInMn Blue products. A dry powder version has yet to be approved for public consumption…. Mark Ryan, a marketing manager for the Shepherd Color Company, a pigment manufacturing business that obtained a license to sell YInMn in 2016, tells Artnet News that ‘[t]he art world likes it because of the color.’ Industrial companies, meanwhile, like ‘it because of what it can do in terms of environmental regulations for building products.’ (The pigment reflects most infrared radiation, keeping it, and by extension the building exteriors it adorns, cool.)”

Blue (1):

Blue (2):

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GD writes: “Flowers in the Newport Beach wetlands.”

* * *

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. IM Doc

    I am not certain what I am doing to make the comments in italics.

    I am responding to the link this morning about the Ivermectin study. This was a pilot study. It is basically a very small study to see if there is enough data support to warrant a larger study. In this case, there clearly is.

    I have been very reluctant to discuss my Ivermectin experience – but I feel with all the news coming out, I should at least say something.

    The NIH did something extraordinary last week by upgrading ivermectin for COVID. Before Friday, it was considered a STRONG AGAINST recommendation. As of Friday, our own NIH has upgraded this medication ivermectin for COVID to neither encourage or discourage. That may not sound like much to a layman – but in medicine that is a huge deal. Ivermectin has now joined the same NIH “neither discourage or encourage” recommendation level as remdesevir, convalescent plasma, and monoclonal antibodies that we have all been hearing about over the past months. This NIH action opened up the use of this already FDA approved drug (for parasitic infections and immune conditions like rosacea) for an off label use for COVID. Physicians around the country should be far less reluctant and far less shamed to use it at this point.

    I have to say I was very skeptical of the Ivermectin situation when I first heard about it. After doing a few weeks of research on this situation in November, I began to use it in a very specific group of patients.
    If a patient is having any symptoms of COVID or certainly is COVID positive, I immediately get them on this medication. Usually 9-12 mg in a one time dose for 2 weeks. The vast majority have only needed a single dose. I also treat their immediate contacts in their home with the exact same dosing. I am doing no other therapy with this right now.

    Before I started doing this, I was admitting to the hospital an average of 2-6 people a week for COVID. I have admitted only a single patient since I started 6-7 weeks ago. I would say the average conversion rate of COVID close contacts before I started this was on the order of 30% or so. I have now had only 4 household contact conversions in the past 6-7 weeks. It has been a very dramatic change. I would make sure everyone understands – the patients still are sick, they are just not sick enough to be placed in a hospital setting. This is not a cure-all. But the potential to unclog our hospitals – and by extension decrease mortality is there for all to see. Big robust studies should begin immediately to test these possible beneficial effects.

    I also want everyone to realize my experience up above is anecdotal, a case series, without a control group. It is how we physicians roll in a time of crisis like this.

    However, it has encouraged my soul. This may be something that can really help us keep people out of the hospital. This is a no-brainer in my opinion. The risks on this drug are quite minimal. And this may be a godsend for the world until we have better vaccine options and are not living through our current vaccine fiasco.

    I would also point out to everyone – look here – That will guide you to your own research regarding world accepted ethics in human research and human medical care as outlined by our forebears in the Declaration of Helsinki. It is my opinion, among many other physicians, that NOT using this drug at this time of crisis in the world is likely a violation of Article 37 of these Helsinki Declarations.

    I will have to say, I have not felt this encouraged in a while. I will continue updating all about how this is going.

    1. Carla

      “However, it has encouraged my soul.” IM Doc, as a faithful and appreciative reader of your NC comments, I am encouraged by that which encourages you. Thank you. Perhaps I’m not alone in thinking, “I needed that today.”

    2. Arizona Slim

      If you were in Tucson, you would SO be my doctor. Kudos to you for being part of the best darn commentariat on the planet.

    3. freebird

      Mentioned this in the morning links; are there not nations which have been using ivermectin as a therapy with much better results than we have? Cannot a ‘natural’ experiment on say 100 million people substitute for lengthy formal experiments that none of us have time to wait out?

      Could we for once in our lives admit perhaps the mighty US is the one behind the curve, and learn from others?

      1. IM Doc

        In the Western Hemisphere alone – Argentina, Mexico, Belize, Peru and the Dominican Republic all have nationwide or various areas using this drug fairly heavily. I would recommend you look at these areas hospitalization and mortality rates and compare to the rest of the world. Their use of this drug is certainly not the only thing different – but that is why we need to do robust studies to eliminate confounding factors. Argentina, in particular, has been out in front on this entire issue. Much of the work has been done there.

        1. carl

          My wife’s Colombian relatives and friends are all aware of this medication; it’s become harder to find because of widespread use. I understood that the usage started in the spring in Cali when the epidemic in nearby Ecuador exploded.

        2. Phillip Cross

          Don’t forget Bangladesh! Basically third world countries where there are many untreated parasitic infestations.

          Could put be that untreated parasitic infestastions are cured by ivermectin, making the host stronger and more able to beat the covid-19 virus?

          Mind you, this country is in such terminal decline in many areas, and the healthcare system such a mess, would it surprise anyone if there are many untreated parasites in the average american too?

          1. The Rev Kev

            Hookworm was rampant in the American south a century ago according to a contemporary novelist when Americans having dirt floors in their homes was not that uncommon and it seems that it never really went away-


            You would reckon that there must be records with the US military regarding the health of inductees over the past century. I bet that there is a treasure trove of data there just waiting to be uncovered.

    4. epynonymous

      The folks I’m selling my white blood cells to at key biologics just got bought out by cellero. Cellero brands themselves “a Charles River Company” so at least they’re local.

      Lets just say the staff is less than pleased by the instructions they are getting from on high.

      edit: remesdivir?

    5. clarky90

      Hi IM Doc

      Can you clarify? “Usually 9-12 mg in a one time dose for 2 weeks.” What does two weeks mean, if it is only a one time dose?

      Many thanks for your courageous and lifesaving work!

      1. IM Doc

        Ivermectin is a very fat soluble molecule. So when you take it, it immediately gets deposited into your fat tissue. And then it slowly releases over time. About 2 weeks or so later, in humans, it is gone. So, the dosage is every 2 weeks or so. Some of the inpatient critical care protocols give it a bit more often. I use 9 mg for average sized people, I use 12 mg for obese or really large people. So, I see the patient back frequently that first week. I have had only 2 people out of all that I have done who still have symptoms after 2 weeks, and I dosed them again. Everyone else is done with just that one dose. There are protocols to do prophylaxis with dosing every 2 weeks or so. I am not doing this at all right now because I am not OK with that general idea at least yet – AND more importantly we are already seeing ivermectin shortages here in America. It should be used just for the sick right now.

        One of the other big reasons I am doing this case series is the huge amount of people who have been taking animal ivermectin. I feel this really should be monitored by a doctor and they should be given human formulations. Animal drugs are meant for animal intestines. But the amount of animal ivermectin being taken by humans right now is staggering.

        1. Ronald Grissman

          You argue that this drug is not evidence based effective in terms as defined by NIH. I know what some docs do in this situation and it tends to fall into 3 categories which I’m not to get into here. Clearly, experience and advanced education beyond an MD makes a difference. Nothing to radical in all that. But, to say “NOT using this drug at this time of crisis in the world is likely a violation of Article 37 of these Helsinki Declarations.” I find extremely problematic. Could I go the my state medical society and make that claim? No. Could I sue a doc for failure to use, as negligence – no. Docs as I was taught need to treat the patient in front on them, considering all the circumstances. I’m not per disagreeing with about what you decide to do or not do. I feel uneasy that as medicine is highly technical matter and those without the training do not understand all the trade offs, one needs to be careful of what one says. I don’t need patients telling me there doctor is in violation of ‘article 37’. Which now I now doubt will hear. The medium often becomes the message

          1. IM Doc

            I would tell you to please make sure you noticed that I stated IN MY OPINION. Opinions are not hard and fast.

            However, I would also ask you to realize that medical ethics and risk/benefit ratios take on an entirely different tone and intellectual processing in a time of grave crisis. Please note the paper that a commenter above highlighted in their comment. That was about the ebola crisis – but the same issues apply here.

            So not only is there this Ivermectin issue. Because of the nature of this emergency, we have been tasked with exposing the entire world to the enormous risk involved in basically doing a PHASE III clinical trial without the benefit of having any body (IRBs) locally to assess risk to the subjects. This is a brave new world.

            Believe it or not, these are issues that I struggle with daily. The only thing that keeps me going is this is exactly the same kind of thing I was dealing with as a young doctor on the AIDS wards. It is my duty to remember that experience and to make sure my profession remembers the lessons we all learned. I am doing my best to guide my younger colleagues in how to handle crises like this in the most ethical manner possible.

            These ethical frameworks were largely written in the immediate aftermath of WWII and the Nazi crimes against humanity. They were written in a much brighter time than now. The same ideals we as humanity prescribe in the best of times are there to guide us through the worst of times.

            Again – I understand what you are saying, but these are not normal times.

            1. Mason

              Is it the principal of doing the unknown but at the same time making sure it’s low risk, mitigated risk?

              For example, taking vitamin D and C while taking a little zinc. As long as one doesn’t over-dose on the vitamins, there is very very little risk. At the same time, there is an unproven but not impossible risk that lack of vitamin D compromises the immune system and leads to a very severe case.

              I’m just confused at how the powers that be are so resistant to try these measures out. Just take some vitamin supplements!

              I got one physician in the family who was working cases over in the middle of North Carolina. Her worst cases were folks who had a vitamin D deficiency. They actually are a physician couple that worked in the hospital ward, both eventually got covid. They did well but were taking a cocktail of vitamins. I also believe for a period of time they were using hydroxychloroquine. I need to follow up with them.

              1. Yves Smith

                Ivermectin is fat soluble. That does create a concern about dosing, which is one of the big reasons for cautioning people against trying veterinary ivermectin. That is also a potential issue with Vitamin D and zinc but IMHO most of the handwringing regarding Vitamin D is ill informed. 20 minutes of full body exposure to equatorial sun = 20,000 IU. I have never heard of anyone recommending or taking that much orally. Zinc is also fat soluble and the recommended level is 50 mg/day max.

                With water soluble vitamins, the big risks are:

                1. Possibly interfering with meds, so you need to check

                2. Gastric irritation

                3. Overthinning blood (as in reducing ability to clot)

                4. Expensive urine, as in you are just pissing it out

          2. Yves Smith

            Your comment is a complete straw man of what IM Doc wrote. And anyone with an operating brain cell knows the Helsinki Declarations are mere guidelines and have even less force in the US than “international law,” as in none.

            I would have ripped your comment out had IM Doc not responded. He has more important things to do that clean up your informational mess and you cherry picking and misrepresenting one tiny part of his comment…to what? To get the rush of a “gotcha”? To try to discredit him? To present you as the smartest guy in the room?

            I am blacklisting you instead.

    6. Alan Toth

      But → Among patients with non-severe COVID-19 and no risk factors for severe disease receiving a single 400 mcg/kg dose of ivermectin within 72 h of fever or cough onset there was no difference in the proportion of PCR positives. There was however a marked reduction of self-reported anosmia/hyposmia, a reduction of cough and a tendency to lower viral loads and lower IgG titers which warrants assessment in larger trials.

      And → I also want everyone to realize my experience up above is anecdotal, a case series, without a control group. It is how we physicians roll in a time of crisis like this.

      Thus to say: “physicians, that NOT using this drug at this time of crisis in the world is likely a violation of Article 37 of these Helsinki Declarations.”

      Is without, merit and in fact dangerous. No I’m not kidding.

      1. IM Doc

        I would also point you to the numerous randomized controlled trials that have already been done over the world. Some of them not so good – some of them excellent. They all seem to be pointing to the same conclusion. The drug does seem to have an impact on hospitalizations, on death, and on health care workers remaining negative while working with COVID patients.

        We cannot just quote the conclusions of a very small pilot study and think that represents the totality of what has been already done. That certainly would not have made my decision. I do not believe for a minute the NIH would have changed course on this drug had there not been very compelling data otherwise.

      2. Yves Smith

        What I said to Ronald Grissman goes double for you. Cherrypicking, straw manning, bad faith. Trash talking ivermectin as risky is Making Shit Up. It’s an old drug, with decades of use, and the doses discussed here are a bit lower than for its typical application as an antiparasitic. Goodbye.

    7. Adrian D.

      @IM Doc & Yves have you seen this recent pre-print from Dr. Andrew Hill a Liverpool Uni (UK) academic & his colleagues working on a WHO funded metastudy of repurposing Ivermectin for CV19? You can track down videos of his presentations on youtube too. This really should be getting larger coverage – it really could be a game-changer.


    8. jonboinAR

      Ivermectin, Ivermectin, I don’t know. I don’t think I can get it prescribed for me by my oh, so cautious doc. I’m a pest control man, an exterminator. I go into a lot of houses and businesses and always feel leery about my exposure and other’s exposure to me. I almost feel it’s a miracle I haven’t contracted Covid, yet. So far, I’ve had 3 negative tests. Anywho, today a customer of mine showed me a bottle of Ivermectin. It was for cattle. She and her husband have been self-dosing with it. She told me the dosage, 10 ml per hundred pounds every two weeks, something like that. She said a doctor friend quietly recommended the prophylactic treatment, the cow IM as the source, and the dosage. Or, you know, she seemed to be saying that, wouldn’t put it quite explicitly.

      I’m like, “Hmmm, eeeah, hmm, eeeah!” Self-prescription, self-dosage, with IM for COWS? Pretty extreme. I mean, suppose in IM for cows they allow a little mercury (or something, you know?) Are we certain about the dosage, 100%? It seems quite insane, yet here I am thinking about it.

    1. Samuel Conner

      It looks like a procedure mask. Perhaps harking back to the surgical precision of ‘the night of long knives.’

      One has to wonder ‘what might have been.’

  2. Katiebird

    >> This ceremony would be immensely beautiful if I weren’t dead inside.

    Wow. Matt Stoller’s Tweet packs a punch. I’ve been trying to find the right words.

    I think I just don’t care for Presidential Pomp. For one thing there hasn’t been a president elected since I cared that I like. And considering my affection for Universal Health Care, I feel kind of guilty for not liking LBJ more. But the peacenik in me still has a lot of power, I guess.

    1. Jen

      I made the mistake of logging on to my feceborg account this afternoon. Many obligatory national nightmare over posts…then I got to the friend posting a picture of herself wearing her pink p*ssy hat with the comment: “I wore this to DC to protest Trump, now I’m wearing it to celebrate Biden’s inauguration.”

      I scrolled no further. Hopefully in a couple of days my friends will be back to posting pictures of their cats, and sharing vile puns. I’m making myself scarce in the mean time, lest I start acting like a skunk at a picnic.

      1. petal

        haha yes! I was all “hide post, hide post, hide post” for a bunch of my comfy liberal friends. I saw a hashtag pearlsforgirls one, too. I only eat once a day(dinner) so it’s not like I have anything I can go vomit. A couple others(very very well off) have posted that they didn’t vote for him but we all need to support Biden and help him succeed. Staying away from news websites as well. I’m so glad I’m very busy today, and tired. I’ve never really belonged, but feel even more out these days.

          1. petal

            I’ll belt it out as soon as I get in the car and roll through Hanover! Good woman, needed the laugh!

        1. ambrit

          Seriously? #pearlsforgirls????
          That sounds like a porn fetish site.
          PMC could soon stand for Pornographic Managerial Class.

    2. Arizona Slim

      I’ll admit to feeling a bit blah this morning.

      So, I decided to do something about it. Got my pruners and loppers out and trimmed a couple of bushes in the back yard.

      What did I do with the trimmings? I used the aforementioned tools to cut them into smaller pieces, which are now in my compost bin.

      Nothing works like yard work therapy.

      1. polecat

        Pruned the multi-grafted cherry (sweet) yesterday, to relieve myself of some B-funk. Soon to finish up the 3 sours ..

        I will say that D.C. has a severe case of Heart Rot .. in that the supporting trunk is goners, whilst the upper crown reaches .. which are suffering from a kind of spreading purplish dodder .. refuse to open up in allowing ANY $unlight and nutrition back down to the starving lower branches, regardless of impending fall color!

        The Tree of Liberty is at this point, almost dead .. with no seedings in sight!

      2. Mantid

        AZ Slim – We’ve been pruning our grapes, apples and plums – it’s that time of year. Our 95 year old father cuts the suckers into bite size pieces, bundles them with twine, and we use them next year in our wood stove. It’s all about the process. You’re right, it does treat the blahs.

    3. zagonostra

      Trump’s approval rating leaving office is 51% if below link/poll is accurate. That dead inside feeling that Matt Stoller talks about has a different edge to those who fall in this category.

      A third of the people are totally disconnected and didn’t vote, the third that did vote may be glad Trump is out (like myself even though I voted Green) but the country is fractured and Biden’s inauguration does nothing to change that no matter how it’s spun.


      1. Jesper

        & looking at the approval rating of congress:
        A 15% approval for Congress as a whole in December 2020.
        60% believes that their representative deserves to be there and 68% believes that most representatives does not deserve to be there.
        The highest approval rating coincides in time with one big event, what will it take to raise the approval rating now?

      2. John Zelnicker

        January 20, 2021 at 3:31 pm

        Rasmussen has a reputation as one of, if not the most conservative pollster. Many times they have come up with approval numbers for Trump that were substantially higher than most of the other polling companies.

        The approval rate in the link seems to be from yesterday.

        This is the Real Clear Politics aggregation of polls:


    4. marcyincny

      …dead inside, as in lost all hope. At least four years ago there was a litle hope that Democrats would see their loss to Donald Trump as a wake-call and make some changes.

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        A weird feeling, glad to see Trump go but no hope of much from Biden. Not celebrating and pretty much avoiding those who are.

        Tired, just tired, and no point in raining on their parade…

        1. marym

          Maybe this time around the country has seen enough and changed enough so the new iteration of the same old people will face a lot more pressure from the public, and enjoy fewer lesser-evil defenses compared to the Obama years.

    5. jonboinAR

      Heck, Tricky Dick proposed universal health care, did he not? Teddy Kennedy shot the proposal down because it wasn’t good enough for him. Anyway, that’s what I read on the Internet or something. Kennedy, to his credit, later allowed that he’d made a great mistake. I guess it wasn’t until St. Ronnie’s time that universal health care, the idea of it anyway, became, ahh, communist, or whatever.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Tricky Dick always was a bit of a notorious Lefty what with his establishing the Environmental Protection Agency and opening up China to the west.

  3. fresno dan

    “Can Joe Biden Succeed Where Barack Obama Failed?” [David Sirota, Newsweek]. The quote to end all quotes: “Obama would later write that he avoided a crackdown on Wall Street because that might have ‘required a violence to the social order.’” That reverence for the status quo—and deference to Wall Street after the financial crisis and housing meltdown—ultimately helped create the backlash conditions for the rise of Trump. One data point suggested a direct linkage: In one-third of the counties that flipped from Obama to Donald Trump, there had been an increase in the number of residents whose home mortgages were underwater in 2016, according to a study by the Center for American Progress.” • Maybe the Obama Alumni Association learned something from this. Maybe. I doubt it. I have the feeling that the direction of this Administration was set during the transition period, and that direction was little to do with “violence to the social order,” which is the very last thing the Democrat base, the PMC, is all about.
    So, who was worse: Obama or Trump?
    I think both of them are remarkably similar – products of media, as media evolved away from newspapers and to Facebook, Twitter, and 24/7 cable. As “news” became ever more a venue for preaching from a pulpit instead of providing dispassionate objective fact. And anger, quarreling, arguing as the sine non qua of media.
    And as Taibbi has written, there is an agenda for divisiveness that benefits the few. It makes me wonder if a big social program can ever again get through our political process.

    1. Wukchumni

      Obama always failed upwards in appearance, and never having been in business, had no idea how to negotiate and got played every time for the mark…

      …whereas Trump was all about negotiations, and the country got played for the mark

      1. Pat

        Or as I call it:

        Obama was the smooth conman. He is the guy who sweet talks the wealthy widow sweeping her off her feet. He starts taking care of everything for her. And after he has disappeared with every sou she and her dead husband ever had and more, she still believes he was wonderful, that he was forced to do all this for some reason and he will come back to her some day. She ignores everyone who points out he is/was lying. He does this over and over. He was and is fine at negotiating. When we thought he was negotiating badly he was just setting out the terms of the sale he already arranged, real payment to come later.

        Trump is the fast talking snake oil salesmen. He convinces people he has an answer for everything. And that he is giving you a bargain. He has to be careful to take a lot for a little AND to not be seen again for long enough for the scam to be forgotten. If he gives people time to think, returns too soon OR takes close to everything, people get it and go after him with pitchforks.


        1. jonboinAR

          With Obama, we were never quite privy to whom the team was he was really negotiating for. Actually, I don’t think he was ever in heavy talks at all, just fronting to us while the real action was elsewhere. Trump could have been much the same, but he kept the country occupied with his clown act.

      2. Carolinian

        played every time for the mark…

        The standard excuse. Around here, at the time, the view seemed to be more that they were all on the same page. The Dems could have eliminated the filibuster and created a more decent health care law but that “status quo” (again) was sacred.

        Obama was a chosen front man for a Dem party very much committed to more of the same. As front men go he was a classy choice.

      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        Obama did not get played for any mark. Obama played his audience for marks. Anyone who still thinks Obama got played is hermself one of Obama’s hardy perennial marks.

        Obama got what he wanted. He got CanadaCare prevented. He made the Bush Tax Cuts permanent. He got the criminal bankers immunized, impunified and further empowered and enriched.
        He got the Cheney(bush) Administration war criminals and criminals against humanity immunised and impunified. And it looks so far as if he as getting all the Big Tubmans he ever hoped for as his reward.

      1. Kurtismayfield

        I have to disagree. Trump did exactly what he wanted. He wanted to reform the Tax code, promote Israel above all others, and make himself the center of attention. It worked fabulously. His 3 SCJ picks will outlive him and make him revered by the right for 30-40 years. His 4 years will be remembered as a political success..

          1. Temporarily Sane

            How does that invalidate criticism of Trump?


            Trump is accused of doing x
            Obama also did x
            Therefore Trump cannot be accused of doing x

            …is not a valid argument.

            Why is it so difficult to understand that Obama and the Democrats doing bad sh*t doesn’t mean Trump was doing good sh*t or that he is above criticism?

            TDS exists but there is also reverse-TDS where every criticism of Trump, no matter how accurate, is met with “…but Obama/the Democrats!”

            The beauty of learning how to think critically is it will cure you of TDS and reverse-TDS.

        1. Temporarily Sane

          I agree. I was never on board with the TDS suffering “omg Trump is Satan!” crowd but at the same time I think his grudging supporters on the “left” give him way too much credit. They projected their hopes and wishes onto him and were swept off their feet by his rhetoric while not paying nearly enough attention to his actions.

          This article at Counterpunch sums him up quite accurately, I think.

          It begins with his father’s arrival in New York City and gets into how the Trump family did, and continue to do, business. Donald J. Trump is a mediocre businessman, who got funded and bailed out by daddy, with a talent for bullshi**ing and self-promotion. He learned a lot of his trademark style from Roy Cohn, who took him under his wing. He is very good at getting people to believe what he wants them to believe. It’s a long article but well worth the read.

          (This does not mean I support Biden or the Dems. When it comes to the duopoly my choice is ‘none of the above’.)

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Well, I voted for Simple Joe Malarkey and the Kamalabeast this time because I wanted to save the Administrative State from abolition. If there is some rebuildment of governance capacity in the departments, bureaus and agencies, then I have gotten what little I voted for.

            If Biden cancels the permits for Keystone Pipeline XL, that is something, too. If he can somehow prevent drilling in ANWR, that is something three.

            If he cancels the Trump cancellation of roadless area status for much of Tongass National Forest, that is something four.

            And a ritual recognition of the fact of the reality of man made global warming might tilt the battlefield on which “what is to be done” will be fought to the economic death and extermination of one side or the other . . . Big Green or Big Fossil.

            1. Steve D

              This strikes me as a pretty healthy perspective on the situation. I am guilty of sometimes losing all faith in the ‘system’ – but I think I will try to think more like dw. It will certainly benefit my mental health.

              1. drumlin woodchuckles

                Thank you for the kind words. So far it looks as though Biden is already digging back up a few of the many land mines Trump planted throughout policy and government. He is taking things from TrumpWorse back to ObamaBad. And Bad is better than Worse. Thank God for small favors?

                We may have bought 4 years for non-Regressives and Greens of various shades from palest to deepest . . . to begin evolving a GreenLiving BetterCulture involving many millions of people. And getting that Greenlife Counterculture involved in organized culture-wide economic support of “this” and economic destruction of “that”. ( Hopefully the Greenlife Counterculture, if one arises, will know what that means.)

                Every dollar is a bullet on the field of economic combat.

                Lead the money around by the nose.

                Identify which industries and business sectors are the source of the Coaly Rollers’ power and begin attriting and degrading those industries and businesses to put them onto a slow but sure path to extinction. Kill them with a thousand cuts. Exterminate them with ten thousand mosquito bites.

                Begin tipping and grinding the tectonic plates of power against the Merchants of Fossil and the sooty-gray DeathCulture of Coaly Rolling.

          2. David J.

            Excellent article, but I have one small quibble:

            In Trump’s own words his first major deal was struck over a site located in Cincinnati – a site he had hit upon as a lucrative investment opportunity when at “college, while my friends were reading the comics and the sports pages of newspapers, [and] I was reading the listings of FHA foreclosures…And that’s how I found out about Swifton Village.” Again the superficial spin belies the more prosaic reality – the Swifton Village property had been acquired by his father some time before, and Trump simply took over its management, but during his time there, the same familial practises of discrimination were in effect. Black residents were denied access, poorer tenants were forced out in a bid to cultivate a “better element” on the road to gentrification.

            I lived in Swifton Village for a while and then lived across the street for much of my childhood. While I wouldn’t be surprised by the racial discrimination (although there were plenty of working class Blacks in the general neighborhood) the notion of forcing out tenants for gentrifying is just silly. While it is true that the street I lived on in Swifton did have a number of Cincinnati Reds players also living there, that neighborhood was solid working class for miles around and that did not change, except for the worse. In fact, over the next couple of decades (early 60s through the 80s) the entire neighborhood (and other bordering neighborhoods) declined. I would concede that “white flight” had something to do with that, but the context is broader than the author implied.

          3. ObjectiveFunction

            I tried to get through that piece, but I just couldn’t. Florid prose, and unrelentingly filled with hate.

            Amazing that Trump ever got anywhere, given that his entire life and environment was 100% Evil topped with Evil sauce, with a side order of Evil. Amazing he didn’t push the button while he still could and wipe out all the subhumans, after first going long salt mines and Iceland. FFS.

            ‘Eichmann in Jerusalem’ had more sympathy for its subject.

            I suppose the title of McKenna’s book “Angels and Demons” (advertised) pretty much sums up his Manichean view of the world. I won’t be bothering with anything else by him.

    2. ahimsa

      The cult of politics? Inaguration secular ritualism..

      Nicholas Taleb asked, what have we learned after 4 years of Trump?

      I say, the high priests (gate keepers and sympol manipulators) of Capitol Hill and the MSM revere decorum, ritual, and power (holding not wielding) above all else. Know your station, ignore the nepotistic oligarchy, repeat after me, m-e-r-i-t-o-c-r-a-c-y. Learn to code, watch your tone. We’ve got kente cloth! Medicare4all during a pandemic???… Listening to the pablum of Biden’s speech on the car radio just made my head want to explode…

      George Carlin said it best, “It’s a big club, and you ain’t in it”
      “…good honest hard-working people..
      white-collar, blue-collar (doesn’t matter what color shirt you have on),
      good honest hard-working people continue (these are people of modest means) continue to elect these rich [family bloggers] who don’t give a [family blog] about you,
      they don’t give a [family blog] about you,
      they don’t care about you at all, at all, at all…”

    3. Pelham

      Obama was worse than Trump, as was every president since, maybe, Eisenhower, I think. Strip away the phony gravitas from any of these characters and examine their raw records, foreign and domestic. Trump emerges looking not quite so bad, though he was saved only by the grand scale of his incompetence, which managed to throw a small monkey wrench into the gears.

      Come 2024, this voter will be looking for another monkey wrench.

      1. neo-realist

        But Trump had crappier SC appointments, just like most other republican presidents: anti-abortion, anti-civil rights, anti-voting rights. If one isn’t a woman or a POC, it doesn’t matter all that much.

        Better monkey wrenches to be found in the congressional races–way more progressives to be found, rather than the ones running for oval office whose ability be a monkey wrench for the people is compromised by serving the various power centers–MIC, Corporate sector.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        Here is the problem. Some of the gears he threw monkey wrenches into were the gears of the agencies, bureaus and departments which perform environmental protection, game management, health protection, safety protection, etc. His mission was to ” deconstruct the Administrative State”.
        In practice that means to give polluters and destroyers total permissiveness to pollute and destroy to their hearts’ delight.

        If a bottle says “aspirin” on the label, I want to know that it contains “aspirin” in the bottle. I don’t want it to contain “arsenic”. And I am not a pharmaceutical chemist. I am not qualified to know whether it is arsenic or aspirin by looking at the tablets. That’s what the FDA is for. That what I pay taxes for. And Trump wanted to destroy even that. ( As do all the Republicans–let us be clear).

        So while I voted for Trump the first time in order to save myself from the hydrogen bomb war with Russia which a President Clinton would have brought a very real risk of, now that that risk has been somewhat lowered ( unless Biden and his Establishment Foreign Policy people want a war with Russia to support Banderazi Nazi west Ukraine), I don’t need any more monkey wrenching.

      3. Ranger Rick

        When Trump was elected, I observed at the time that at the very least he would do more to end the imperial Presidency than any effort of Congress or political movement ever could (but despite his shenanigans, Congress kept the AUMF and Patriot Act). I can glibly say he didn’t start any new wars, and even made a very public attempt to end one, but that’s complicated by the occasional attempt to start World War III via “aggressive” diplomacy (Syria, Iran, and according to some, North Korea).

        Trade and immigration are probably the two things he had the greatest influence over as the head of the Executive, and it’s there I’d focus the bulk of my post-presidency analysis on.

    4. Mikel

      Also, they are similiar in that each were thought to represent an “anti-establishment” vote early on. That’s how you got people that voted for Obama and Trump.

  4. Pat

    Bernie sitting alone has become a meme.

    And on those mittens!

    All about those mittens

    I love that man. I know all the reasons I am supposed to be disappointed by him but I am disappointed by the media and the DNC and the result. I am saddened that a decent man gets taken. And that he was ill suited for a position no one else would take on.

    And I am devastated that we are continuing our string of deeply corrupt Presidents with two more. But unlike the last, they will not be treated like the liars and cheats and flaming pieces of manure they are. *

    *Unlike Bernie I am neither decent or polite. I will justify only so much and then I assume you know what you are doing and just don’t care as long as you prosper.

  5. Louis Fyne

    –Humans could move to this floating asteroid belt colony in the next 15 years, astrophysicist says”—

    For sci-fi fans, “The Expanse” (and the books from which the show is adapted) asks that very question—-what would the politics of the solar system look like in hundreds of years if Humans settled Mars and beyond?

    Spoiler alert: don’t be surprised if the 0.5% versus the 99.5% dichotomy gets scaled up beyond Earth.

    1. TsWkr

      I too thought of that show (it’s actually the only show I am actively watching right now). In Season 1, Ceres Station actually plays a major role with a detective who has never been out in space (“I’m actually more of a City Belter”). I find the current season fascinating with the dynamics of a decline of a superpower after a frontier is opened, plus a glimpse into what life on earth looks like in this technologically advanced future.

      1. Louis Fyne

        If you haven’t got to seasons 2 or 5 yet….you see the authors’ interpretation of life on post-scarcity Earth for the lower classes—and it’s very believable given the trajectory of today’s politics.

        that’s one of my favorite aspects of the show, even more than some of the character arcs.

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      I’ll add my rec for that show, too.
      the politicosocial exploration is not Dune-Level…but it’s pretty dern good for a tv show.
      as a Nasa Kid, and scifi nut from birth, i hope we do go.
      just for the social aspect of a New Frontier–this time, presumably, with no Indians to massacree…or Saracens to dislodge…
      give the second sons and challenge junkies something to do…out there, instead of the corner office or the “trading floor”.

    3. Eustache de Saint Pierre

      The way we are going or sliding backwards, I would be surprised if at least some of these asteroids were not made available in a Botany Bay / Tasmania sort of way, for those who someone once called the unnecessariat.

      1. Tom Doak

        It’s too expensive to send them, though. Botany Bay worked great because the wind blows to the west once you go down far enough!

  6. jalrin

    The South’s vaccination slowdown may be a side effect of West Virginia finishing its nursing home push. Because West Virginia used its own infrastructure instead of the CVS/Walgreens contract that most other states used, they got through their early first group faster than anybody else. Now that is finished, they may no longer be masking the problems that all of the other states in the region have distributing the vaccine.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The South’s vaccination slowdown may be a side effect of West Virginia finishing its nursing home push

      Thanks, that’s a very good idea (though is WV’s population big enough to have that effect?) I will look at the South in more detail tomorrow.

    2. Watt4Bob

      My bet?

      CVS/Walgreens will soon be hiring folks to allow it to execute those contracts.

      There’s a light at the end of that tunnel.

    3. freebird

      Mississippi’s public officials said they are ‘out’ of vaccine as of several days ago, and do not expect more til ‘mid-February’. So, yeah, a bit of a slowdown in the South.

      1. StevRev

        CDC says Mississippi has used less than half of their doses, which is consistent with US overall. No shortage of vaccines, it’s a last mile problem. Only about 2 million people so far have received both doses, but the number of shots is increasing each week. I think the data set Lambert posts is based on Our World in Data, which appears to lag a bit from CDC.

        1. ambrit

          I’ll add to ‘freebird’s’ comment and note that the Nextdoor “announcement” by the Mississippi State government was that the state was out of first shot doses. That leads to the supposition that those unused doses are being held back so as to complete the double shot protocol for those that have already had the first shot.
          I live in Mississippi and I have been told that getting the vaccine the first time is not on, (not that I want to. Too many unknowns.)

  7. farragut

    A “Biden-Harris Inauguration Playlist?”
    Hmm, have I judged the Biden administration too harshly?

    1. Mark Gisleson

      I counted at least three non-US artists/bands listed, including Bob Marley (cannabis) and MF DOOM (who was barred from reentering the US in 2010).

      The hypocrisy is strong in this list which is, I guess, why it’s an appropriate playlist for this Salt’n’Paneer administration.

      1. cocomaan

        Pretty disgusting that they’re playing the late MF DOOM, after denying him reentry during their previous administration. His body is barely cold at this point!

  8. Lambert Strether Post author

    I added more hot takes, and some orts and scraps. Please refresh your browsers.

    I’m also so old I remember popping the cork on some champagne when the Democrats won control of the House and the Senate in 2006 — champagne I’d bought specially for the occasion. I actually thought they’d impeach Bush, and one reason I had moved to Maine, giving up my corporate health insurance, was that I thought the Democrats couldn’t possibly screw up a no-brainer like health care (Maine also had MaineCare, a state attempt at improvement). That was a long, long time ago. Like I said, the Democrats have form.

    1. Pat

      I remember those Halcyon days. I also remember having some hope of progress in 2008 when Democrats had all both Houses of Congress and the Presidency.

      Pretty sure Obama squandered more opportunity than Trump did. At least if you thought doing things for people were on the agenda. Trump did do a lot of what he said he was going to do, ending the trade deal, throwing out a lot of regulations, and all the judges, it might not have helped people but all that was part of his agenda. If Obama had actually run on anything, but even with what he did do little of it was the change people were imaging he was promising.

      1. Jen

        I wouldn’t say Obama squandered opportunity. He took full advantage of it to enrich himself and his cronies.

      2. Elizabeth

        I never bought champagne to celebrate an election or an inauguration, but I looked forward to what might come from such change of leadership. This all changed when Obama (Bush II wasn’t so great) was elected because I felt from the beginning he was a con man – he turned out worse than I predicted. Today I’m feeling very pessimistic – because as Biden said – nothing will fundamentally change, except more crackdowns on dissent, more poverty and misery with possibly a new war tossed in. I really do feel like Bernie looks – alone and isolated. A very blue Wednesday.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          I was not that perceptive. I just saw Obama as a chance to prevent a President John ” Bombomb” McCain and then President Caribou Barbie after that. So at least we got that.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Ironically 12 years later the situation has been duplicated again with an elderly President Joe Biden having cognitive health problems and having another Caribou Barbie waiting in the wings. And this time that combination won.

    2. Mikel

      I’m so old that I remember drinking champagne and watching the 2008 election returns on FOX (!!), just so I could watch heads explode.
      That turned out to be the highlight of both his terms.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I’m so old I remember when the opposite of “straight” . . . . was “stoned”.

  9. Wukchumni

    What a far cry from a dozen years ago, my buddy and his then 5 year old boy came to watch it on the telly, and the kid got confused when they showed an array of cannons going off and then switched back to the inauguration, and I yelled ‘INCOMING!’ but humor is lost on a child, and he didn’t get it.

    So subdued today, the speech so unmemorable nothing comes to mind a few hours later what he even uttered aside from the usual pablum.

  10. Wukchumni

    Yes we have no banana republic
    We have no banana republic today
    Praise the almighty, the almighty buck
    For keeping things that way.

    I keep fixating on the similarities of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and Tragic ComicCon on January 6th, the former was the beginning of the end for Communism.

    The ease with what both the Berlin Wall and the Capitol were breached, completely unimaginable a month prior.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      my Ex was a teenage army brat, and was there in Berlin when all that happened. i have a pic of her spraypainting it, and a chunk of it in my Library that she picked up from the rubble.
      she said it would have been a rush without the drugs…it happened so fast, and was such a maelstrom of fear and hope and pent up wildness being released.
      I don’t think the recent mob action was to that level…more of a potential precursor, if the Right manages to maintain some semblance of coherence.
      I’ve yet to wander through the duckblinds…and so many have moved off the easily accessible platforms.
      it will be interesting to see where and how that cohort ends up.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        here’s a sort of curated duckblind…many are just sad:

        and another:

        only Q people i know IRL are quintessential trailer park people, and while i’m polite, i have avoided them since around 9-11-2001, when they went totally rambojesus new world order agenda 21, etc.
        I’m sure there’s more out here, but…given the particular mores and folkways of this place…keep it to themselves.

        I’m much more interested in the militia and small bidness wings of the Right, and how they intersect(they do)…but i’m reluctant to start all that surveillance/virtual field study up again(it was an exhausting 8 years(03?-13?))

  11. vegasmike

    I’m so old I remember the Kennedy inauguration address? I was a pretty cynical kid, mostly from listening to my sister’s Lenny Bruce Album and reading Mad magazine. I remember hearing the phrase, ‘ask not what your country do for you, but what you can do for your country,” and thinking this guy wants me to be killed in a war.

    1. Carolinian

      Even I’m not that old although I was around at the time. I remember all the campaign buttons and the party gimcracks on offer at that year’s county fair.

      Kennedy did at least serve in a war as he endlessly reminded people. LBJ not so much (Robert Caro has the full story). I wonder how many of the soon to be war boosting Biden admin have any military service–guessing very few.

      1. Phillip Allen

        Not a few of the electeds from his party hail from one or another (or many) organ(s) of the national security state / military. Even if you don’t count CIA/NSA service as military, we have brave Mayo Pete (potentially) in the Cabinet, and many members of the new administration are at least military-adjacent. Consider Walking Dead Man Joe’s son Hunter, with his so-meritorious Navy service. Relax. Everything is fine.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            I think I remember reading that in Charles Whiteman’s last note that he left behind, he wrote that someone should open his head up and study his brain to see what was wrong that he would make and carry out his plans.

            Supposedly a brain autopsy was done and a tumor was found pressing on the “hate and rage” center inside his brain.

            1. epynonymous

              The x-files episode about this is some of their best work.

              The reboot was pretty good for a short time, but they got scared.

              The new tv show “resident alien” seems like a nice toned-down version of Wyatt Cenack’s (spelling?) “people of earth”

    2. Sonoma John

      Gore Vidal has a short book on U S presidents and he was friend of Kennedy. From what he wrote about JFK wanting a war to be “great president” you were probably right.

  12. cocomaan

    Looks like Tyler Hamilton is a young man.

    I’m alarmed that Biden’s @transition46 team is thinking about nominating a lawyer for Amazon to enforce laws against monopolies like Amazon. This is not what I voted/donated for. This is literally the fox guarding the henhouse.

    He’ll learn quickly that is is precisely what he voted for. Next time, he shouldn’t bother to donate, leave donating to the hedge funds, private equity, etc.

  13. skippy

    Sad fact is Biden will get a pass just by staying off Twitter and not promoting his kids and their partners[tm] ….

    Btw I see a pardon for the google engineer that stole property, used it to start his own business, and then sell it on shortly afterwards from Trump … one would think they were using the cannons to indicate when, what, and too whom laws are applicable …

    1. Carolinian

      He pardoned a bunch of crooks.

      And he hired some real doozies like Pompeo, Haley, Bolton. In many ways Trump’s foreign policy was the opposite of what he promised during the campaign. Naturally this is the last thing the media criticize because they probably like the mindless belligerence of someone like Pompeo.

      1. skippy

        The party of “the sanctity property” shezzz …

        Personally I think Trump is and always was poster boy for one of the old NC libertarian utopia posts deconstructions.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        I remember that when Trump ordered some rockets and missiles against Syria, that the MSM and the Foreign Policy Opinionators praised him for at last being Presidential and showing mature Leadership.

  14. hemeantwell

    “There’s a word for this, I know it’ll come to me:” re Joe Biden’s embrace via light reflections.

    Ohhhh, what a good find. I can only suggest a ballpark. Not a word, but “delirious fawning”? “Hallucinatory ….” The statement could perfectly capture a kind of gleichschaltung of illusion generation to not only embellish but animate Biden. Let’s work on this.

  15. HotFlash

    I hope this is not considered OT on Watercooler, but since this is a question I would ask at a real watercooler, I make bold to ask it now. Any sightings of Krystyn P recently?

    1. ambrit

      I’m wondering if he got a bit freaked out after being taken to task for some comments he made.
      Shout Out to Krystyn: Don’t sweat it! It takes a thick skin to comment on the internet. Never take criticism personally. That way lies, whatever.
      It reminds me of something an acquaintance in High School said. “Suicide is not a ‘good deal.’ No one will miss you when you are gone. Well, maybe your dog will.”

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        Yeah, it has occurred to me to let him know as far as I could tell from Yves’ remarks he was still welcome.

        But he is a sensitive soul and she can be a bit bruising.

        Krystyn, if you’re still reading, we appreciate you and want you back!

        I in fact got my vit D checked and indeed it was borderline severely low. Now taking D and K in addition to zinc many thanks to you. (Doing the whole ivermectin-adjacent protocol, with Quercetin, C, and melatonin in addition to a B complex and CoQ both of which I routinely take.

  16. a fax machine

    Most of Biden’s successes or failures will be determined by his China policy. Regardless of what you consider China, most Americans and most swing voters want change there the most. His cabinet picks and existing statements from them seem to imply a more hawkish trade stance than “Mr. Deal” (Trump).

    But so did Obama, who decided to waste seven and a half years of his Presidency trying to build the TPP just to have Trump push it over in the final six. If there’s a new TPP then Biden will get another obstructionist Congress, except this time the “Trump veterans” in the GOP will be willing to disrupt far more through investigations, lawsuits, and (targeted) terrorism. The government would logjam in such a situation, it’s one thing to crash the cars of journalists it’s another to be told to arrest people that determine your wages.

    On the other hand, there is hope. Labor expansion in the USMCA protends good things if Biden decides to take hard curbs against slave labor and wage slave labor worldwide. Same if he decides to tax energy imports, and not do business with countries (China, Russia) that lack enforceable environmental laws.

    Not a lot of middle ground as a result. Which is reflected in Congress where Manchin’s single vote will keep American coal alive. How Biden handles that will also be a test, especially when a W.V.A would be a literal New Deal program, as FDR wanted such a thing but WW2 got in the way.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      He would have to abrogate all of America’s Free Trade Treaties and take America out of every Free Trade Organization ( like the WTO) to be able to do any of that.

      1. a fax machine

        I don’t think it’s out of the question, yet. Democrats have a lot of hard decisions to make over the next 12 months as the economy starts to sputter and crash. Either they take rhetoric seriously and remove slavery and wageslavery from US supply chains with a new law requiring labor minimums for free trade or we continue down this road where populist Republicans are able to command the government until they themselves end free trade for new domestic slavery (college loan debtors being the most obvious source of the free labor).

        The international system is still under the worst stress since the 1930s. Anything less than reconstruction will cause it to fail.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      i’ve been wandering through townhall, free republic and “greatawakening dot win” and such like for an hour or two.
      like watching a train derailment from one’s porch.
      for some perspective:

      and again…i consider Q to be either a massive Orson Welles style troll…or some kind of mass delusion/moral panic…twitterfied like no other moral panic before it.
      either way, it’s being used at least somewhat by the Real Right(militia and other serious righty lunatics) for recruitment and/or a sort of pseudo-legitimisation( some of the actual Far Right people have talked openly about using Q to “redpill” the mundanes)
      aside from the morbid fascination, this last part is what i’m interested in.

      and, to be sure, this is just the latest, most out there thing from the lumpen right…see: Hal Lindsey,lol…or Ken Hamm…the mainstream right have had this problem for some time.

      1. a fax machine

        Q was just a troll by certain 4chan /pol/ users, as a means to justify/rationalize Trump banning bumpstocks after the Mandalay Bay Massacre. This was when Trump fought the NRA and more or less forced everyone in the GOP to choose between conservatism and himself. Most of the GOP chose him and he successfully banned bumpstocks. If you go all the way back that is what the conspiracy existed to justify and it spread from there, becoming increasingly ludicrous in the process. The additional religious/christian morality aspect applied to Q and Trump speak to this latter point. This is how Trump has now become a sort of Jesus-like figure in the Q Theory.

        Everything that happened after that was just a joke. I mean it literally: humor off gullible people. Then around Russiagate it spread to Facebook and older people (pardon, no offense intended) without any context started truly believing it. This can be seen in the other post regarding Capitol Riot protest demographics, where most of the arrested were in their 30s and 40s. The people making it up are in their 20s or teens.

        That people STILL take it seriously speaks to the power of delusion. Bear in mind, Q was created on a web forum that believes “Hitler Did Nothing Wrong” (where that meme was created, in fact) and where The International Jew is required reading, so Q is very quaint by the existing standards. Right now that web forum is having a meltdown between self-proclaimed Nazis and Q Purists. The former group is having a hard time because for as dumb as they are it is impossible to debate someone who has already made up their mind.

  17. Dr. John Carpenter

    Re: QAnon reprogramming: yeah, I suppose it would go like the way the system handled drug and alcohol abuse. The rich get the nice vacation rehabs and the poor get thrown into the prison system. Either way, cha-Ching!

    Of course, I don’t see a mass of people turning away from the Q stuff voluntarily. Judging from the little social media I partake in, I think a lot of people will be surprised at how Q continues one way or another without Trump. (I believe I caught a link here about that a few days ago.)

  18. Edward

    “There’s a word for this, I know it’ll come to me”

    Biden sounds like North Korea’s Dear Leader.

  19. JBird4049

    “To understand Trump’s support, we must think in terms of multiracial Whiteness”

    WTF does multiracial Whiteness even mean? Can I assume that it is yet another way of not seeing class? Or like having the working class be just the White working class and ignoring the hall of the working class that is not White?

    I swear that this is like arguing with White Nationalists who come up with all sorts of distortions, excuses, cherry picking, and outright lies (which they believe are) to support the supposed superiority of Whites over anyone else and that there is no American Nation only the White Nation. (Any American nationalist must be a jingoistic, racist White supremacist)

    It is also interesting to see “Liberals” argue that all our problems are due to the inherent racism of Whites and alt-rightists argued that the problem that Blacks and other minorities have is themselves. Both parties are making arguments that excuses the elites’ created political economy that protects and enriches them. Anything but class and power politics.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      “another way of not seeing class”
      that’s what i immediately thought, too.

      just a different version of “Freeedumb”

      and speaking of the latter: report from our local ISD:
      when obama was inaugurated, parents protested and raised sand and were allowed to opt out their kids from watching it at school.
      nothing like that for trump….and now…no hooplah at all over the little darlins watching biden take the oath.

    2. anon y'mouse

      i took “multi racial whiteness” to mean that Whiteness ™ is not just for *white* people anymore. it is accessible to anyone.

      which would be fine if it meant the rights and privileges inherent in that concept, but i think they just mean the “supremacy” party.

      who knows, with ideology this confused.

    3. neo-realist

      Nothing wrong with dealing with the class and power politics, but institutional racism is still a big problem for POC in the USA. Nothing wrong with multi-tasking the fight.

      1. JBird4049

        There is absolutely no problem especially as we are going to have to multitask if we want any part of civilization to survive; the problem I have here is not fighting systemic racism as well as talking to the chuckleheads who think it’s not a thing; Identity Politics is being used to protect the well off.

        Telling a homeless, White family that they have white privilege, while technically true, is irrelevant to dealing with the hunger, misery, and sheer want as to be insulting, even degrading. It would merely drive to the side of the chuckleheads.

    4. Acacia

      To use the preferred nomenclature (with apologizes to The Dude), if sex gender is “performative”, then why not race? Et voilà, “whiteness” would also be performative, and any race can perform being white.

      Is that the logic?

      1. JBird4049

        I don’t know, but the concept of Whiteness and who exactly is white has changed repeatedly. Most of Europe was not considered White until after the 19th with the Irish, Italians, and I guess the Jews being admitted into the club. Just like saying someone is Black also gives very little information. I mean after Africa (which is just a bit gigantic), much of South America, and Caribbean are all places where “Black” people live and have migrated from into the United States.

        The labels we Americans use are awfully limited. The social role and its labels are not only tightly prescribed by our religious foundations, its political economy’s language has been drastically chopped off with the effective destruction of the entire, and I do mean entire, left half of politics, law, and the economy. The social part of the leftwing has been neutered into a performance. Only now, this ideology of Identity Politics has been labeled as being leftist. Its labels are even more discriminatory and constraining than the current neoliberal regime.

        The destruction of the new Left’s economic and social ideas and its permanent replacement with neoliberalism and idpol would serve the elites very well.

        1. Stephen C.

          My current operating theory is that the woke ideology grew from a divide and rule, social control-type CIA op. Not sure if it got out of their control and has turned into a Frankenstein who’s escaped from the lab at faux-studies departments in Academe, now running loose among third rate professors, journalists, and other wannabes, or if the agency is in fine-tune control and has activated sleeper cells to go full-on in this current existential crisis, which they term a reset.

          1. JBird4049

            I’m not convinced that it is a result of a illegal, covert operation, but the CIA has done such for decades including COINTELPRO, and has had blowback on them as well.

    5. flora

      Multiiracial Whiteness?? With no discussion of economic class, jobs, stagnant wages (for all but the top)?

      Thomas Frank wrote a book – The People, No – about late 1880’s-early 1900’s populism. Populism then included urban and rural workers, and black and white workers. The black and white coalition in the South was very successful… until the Bourbon Democrats running Southern states hit upon the ‘white superiority’ ploy to divide the working classes. White workers were encouraged to identify more with the white bosses than their black fellow working class. Idpol worked then to split one part of the populist movement.

      Now, after 30+ years of stagnant wages, of gig work, of crushing debts, people are starting to reject the neoliberal economic order; ideas for a new sort economic fairness, better wages, and protection from financial abuse is in the air.

      Pretty interesting the PMC liberals are suddenly pulling out the same ‘divide the working classes by race’ ploy…. again. Except this time, the PMC is painting the whites as the deplorables, not to be associated with lest one fall out of “good” society. imo.

      1. Stephen C.

        I think the big clue to that woke-ism is bunk is their pivot from “white” to “whiteness”. For me any word ending in “-ness” should give one pause. Look for a better word. Often you will discover (reveal) what you really mean. Often you discover your sentence doesn’t mean anything, that you haven’t given the topic enough thought.

        I can’t remember exactly, but I think I picked that up from Orwell, in an essay on his tips for writing.

  20. Synoia

    So, paper ballots, but not hand-marked, and not auditable. In other word, election fraud is legal, absent a requirement that proprietary source code can be examined, and perhaps not even then.

    One needs some mechanism to prove the source code presented and inspected the is manifestation of (The actual) the compiled code code executed on the ballot machines. That test is remarkably difficult.

    What goes into the compiler is a completely different form than what is run, or executed, on the ballot machine. Different compilers will generally produce different machine code.

    Even an interpreted source code, for example Basic, is sublet to corruption by the interpreter (the code that executes the interpret code)..

    I believe Yves correct. The only auditable process involves humans counting ballots, and IMHO, at least three teams independently counting the all the ballots, and comparing results in public.

  21. epynonymous

    I half considered writing about crapification of the Uber app today (they don’t give you rates or show drivers in your order, at least not before accepting their fees and I doubt if then.) but facebook is really in a nice mood.

    Firstly, they got rid of the delete button, but only for links. Not for friends posts. Delete those right aways, the rest go in a ’30 day shame bin’ called trash. Then you have to go to your ‘activities tab’ for that.

    Don’t we all know how much we all love web-site redesigns?

    Secondly, they ran an offer to invite the unusual members of my family to a FB group of mine, could have been anything at random. Mostly I do retro art/ engineering pages or esoterica. I’ve been meaning to talk to mom (I do have my valentines chocholate in order at least) but I said whatever and hit invite.

    The invite has been denied 5 times over the last four minutes. “The invite was not sent” Sounds like some experiment or something.

    Also, has the autocomplete funtion here just got much wider?

    Happy inauguration day…

  22. chuck roast

    Something to think about…

    Now that we have a fresh Great Helmsman and The Blob is back in their old seats, maybe it’s time for a new regular header in Water Cooler. Call it, say Regime Change Handicap. We can run odds on the most likely regime change candidates. For example:
    Iran 3-1
    Venezuela 3-1
    El Salvador 4-1
    Bolivia 5-2
    Syria 5-1
    Canada 20-1
    And like that.
    Let’s say the Canadiens win the Stanley Cup or they get a brain cramp and think they actually have an independent foreign policy…for instance they ship Chrystia Freeland back to the prairie and replace her with some neo-hippie. Well then, the odds would immediately change to, like 1-2 with the newly vetted Maine NG massing at Fort Kent.
    Just a thought.

      1. Milton

        Top off

        – pretty funny.
        I see Ecuador and Honduras as needing a splash to get to the finish(ed) line as well.
        Good call on Belarus. I see them as the odds on favorite.

  23. Noone from Nowheresville

    1202021 is a palindrome: in the beginning is the end, and in the end, the beginning.

    I vote Smashing Pumpkins (Watchman) The Beginning Is the End Is the Beginning

    Others might like Smashing Pumpkins (Batman) The End is the Beginning is the End

    The Watchman version is slow and dark. The chorus struck a chord with me back in the day. Probably need to find a more uplifting to celebrate the palindrome.

    Is it bright where you are
    Have the people changed
    Does it make you happy you’re so strange
    And in your darkest hour
    I hold secrets flame
    We can watch the world devoured in it’s pain

    1. epynonymous

      I felt like the new Smashing Pumpkins sounded like the new Pearl Jam.

      “Dance of the Clairvoiants”

      I prefer Cake. “Easy to Crash” which is in the same vein.

  24. chuck roast

    Re: “Exploring the role of competitive brain processes in artistic cognition”

    This is what you do in order to avoid washing dishes for a living or working at McDonalds. This gal will not need any particular artistic cognition to see the handwriting on the wall.

  25. marym

    Ballots: I’m not sure why in this description they wouldn’t be auditable? This seems like the system in GA where a full hand audit (recount) was done.

    “(ii) PRESERVATION AS OFFICIAL RECORD.—The individual, durable, voter-verified paper ballot used in accordance with clause (i) shall constitute the official ballot and shall be preserved and used as the official ballot for purposes of any recount or audit conducted with respect to any election for Federal office in which the voting system is used.

    “(iii) MANUAL COUNTING REQUIREMENTS FOR RECOUNTS AND AUDITS.— (I) Each paper ballot used pursuant to clause (i) shall be suitable for a manual audit, and shall be counted by hand in any recount or audit conducted with respect to any election for Federal office.

    (I don’t dispute arguments for paper ballots, hand marked, hand counted in public. l don’t think we’re going in that direction, though I’m trying to learn enough to change my mind. Meanwhile, I’m interested in understanding the limitations of the current systems, and ways to evaluate and improve the auditability and security of the human procedures and technology. So this is a question, not a dispute.)

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Why use a Rube Goldberg machine when a simple piece of paper accomplishes the same thing?

      Also, I don’t think being auditable and having recounts are equivalent. I have mentioned many times the recount I participated in, so apologies for flogging the same horse again. I had asked our city council for years if we could check the voting machines to see if their counts matched a hand count, and was told that was not possible. The only way to get a recount would be if the margin of victory were small enough to legally warrant one. My better half ran for office a few years later and the results were slim enough, so we asked for a recount and while it didn’t overturn the result, we did show that the machines had not counted all of the votes – the hand recount showed more overall votes tallied by 1-2%.

      The point here is that without a close election there would have been no recount because an audit was not allowed otherwise. Not all states and municipalities follow the same rules of course, but in situations like I described an enterprising election fraudster would merely need to program the machines so that the margin of victory was larger than the recount threshold.

      In a real democracy, we wouldn’t be using machines with proprietary software to count ballots, machines made by private corporations, sometimes themselves owned by private equity vultures. Unnecessary complexity only introduces more vectors for fraud.

      PS: I very much appreciate the numerous links and sources you’ve posted on this topic. Lots of good stuff.

      1. marym

        I’m going over the same ground too. I want to understand alternatives in managing risk with machine processing, as long as that’s what we have. In following recent election controversies, I’ve (randomly) learned a little about different controls and audit procedures in place even when there’s no controversy. I’m not sure there’s uniformity in use of the term recount or audit. I’ll try to remember to use “hand” or “machine” when referencing them.

        At least some states have procedures that include logic testing of the software before the start of voting, and hand count audits afterward (beyond any legal requirements for hand or machine recounts in close races). The criteria would be something like x% of ballots for y% of races in z% of precincts. So – if there’s no particular controversy seeming to require more scrutiny – is there a way to establish statistically reasonable choices for those numbers? What are the other control procedures like video recordings, multiple people counting the same stack of ballots, observers, chain of custody, comparing ballots issued and ballots counted. Some of those questions need answers even in a completely manual counting system.

        I’m interested but can’t contribute technical knowledge regarding fraud via software as far as how feasible it would be, on what scale, or what controls would be useful beyond those obvious to a non-expert – like no internet connection, how software changes are distributed, physical security/chain of custody.

        1. Synoia

          I want to understand alternatives in managing risk with machine processing,

          One cannot prove that the software written for the machine is
          1. Without bugs
          2. Is actually an precise compilation of the code written
          3. Cannot be proven to be an accurate machine code rendition of the source code
          4. When running is not modified
          5. Is properly configured
          6. Has not been fed fraudulent ballots

          The precise aphorism at work here is:

          To err is human, but to really mess up takes a computer, because they repeat one’s mistakes endlessly.

          Lets take an example: If one produces a metal, or plastic, by machine or by hand, part, then one can use vernier calipers or a micrometer to measure the dimensions of the part and compare them with the part’s specification.

          That is: Independent of the machine, measure and verify the machine’s results.

          The only known such independent measurement method for the results of computer code, is to repeat the computers results manually.

          1. marym

            There may be more repeating of the computer results manually (full and partial hand recounts) for voting than other computer systems that have those risks (no bugs, accurate compilation, etc.) and that do complex, important functions. This may well be an argument against computerized vote tabulation, but no more or less than for other computerized functions.

            If there’s a risk of feeding fraudulent ballots into the tabulation process, those risks exist for manual systems too. Whether the controls in place now are adequate or need to be better would be an issue in either case.

  26. dbk

    I now suspect I know what Bernie Sanders and his mittens were contemplating during the Inauguration:

    Seriously though, I have to say I’m one of those NC readers who is feeling relieved today. I appreciated the pomp and circumstance while understanding that it’s for show, not for substance.

    I believe Biden is persuadable, and see no reason to stop agitating for the things Bernie argues for in his Guardian piece – one of which is Medicare for All, of course.

    The first 100 days – if Day 1 is any indication – will mostly be devoted to the pandemic and undoing the damage wrought by Trump. This represents an ideal window of opportunity for progressives to marshal their forces in support of M4A.

    I’d be very happy to join such an initiative if, for example, NC and its commentariat /readers were interested …

    Also: yes to paper ballots at all election levels, local-state-federal.

  27. The Rev Kev

    ‘It is true we don’t export bananas. So there’s that.’

    Not quite true as it turns out. They grow and export bananas in Florida but under climate change, I would not be surprised to see bananas being grown in places like Michigan.

    1. Phillip Allen

      I would not be surprised to see bananas being grown in places like Michigan.

      Assuming that Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense doesn’t render the only commercial banana cultivar ‘Cavendish’ extinct, maybe. There might be another banana species resistant to the so-called “Panama disease”, but apparently none are amendable to commercial cultivation. If this drug-resistant form of the banana blight fungus does eradicate Cavendish bananas, a world-wide clone monoculture, it will be the first of the long-anticipated extinctions flowing from monocrop agriculture.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        There are more varieties of banana than just cavendish. But cavendish is the variety of Industrial Monoculture. If cavendish goes extinct, does that necessarily mean that any or some or all of the minor and local and artisan varieties of banana will also go extinct?

        Here is a collection of images of various varieties of banana, including NON-cavendish varieties. Every picture has its URL and some of those URLs might point to very interesting reading.


        1. Phillip Allen

          People have been working for years on non-Cavendish banana species and cultivars and none are particularly amendable to commercial exploitation as a sweet banana like the Cavendish was designed to be. The Red Banana, Musa acuminata (AAA Group) ‘Red Dacca’, is the only other banana variety I’ve seen in commerce. It’s grown widely around the world but is not cultivated to the degree that this variety can compete in markets similar to those in the USA, used to the extremely low price of Cavendish.

          Absent a whizbang technosave for the Cavendish, it does seem likely that it will disappear from all commerce and only be found in botanical/agricultural research settings. We can hope the Red Banana varieties don’t themselves succumb to a Fusarium blight before a resistant clone is selected (if that’s possible).

          These two wikis are pretty decent. The first about the Red Banana in particular.


          The second is about Panama disease, it’s several types, the very difficult challenges in preventing or mitigating infection, and the hurdles entailed by the triploid genetics of the Cavendish-type banana lineages, including Red banana.


          In reading about Panama disease, I see I was wrong to describe what’s happening the Cavendish banana as the extermination of a monocrop species. It’s “only” one particular clone, but it accounts for the bulk of the 5.6 million hectares of land worldwide in banana/plantain production. This means that huge plantations will likely never be suitable for sweet banana cultivation again.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Well . . . people will just have to pay a fair artisan price for non-Cavendish bananas, then. No pay? No get.

  28. allan

    Three more Seattle police officers report being in D.C. during insurrection at Capitol [Seattle Times]

    The Seattle Police Department says three more police officers have self-reported that they were in Washington, D.C., during the Trump-inspired insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

    That makes a total of five Seattle officers who are under investigation for traveling to Washington, D.C., when a mob of right-wing rioters stormed the Capitol in an attempt to prevent Congress from accepting the election of Joe Biden. …

    [But check out the URL: when the story was first posted, it was just two more – who knows how many
    it will be up to by tomorrow morning.]

    So, who was funding all this transcontinental travel?

  29. Cuibono

    the prospects of everyone needing to be vaccinated at least annually.

    what one word comes to mind?


  30. Basil Pesto

    The punditocracy cliché at presidential inaugurations used to be the admiring, almost awestruck observation that it was American democracy working “without a shot being fired”

    I can only assume no one ventured that cliché today?

  31. VietnamVet

    Being in a sour mood, I haven’t watched the Propaganda-Hour yet. But it is sure to show the inaugural flags and light show, highlight the speech, and perhaps mention there is no audience, guarded by 25,000 National Guard troops. Media definitely won’t mention that the US Elite have four more years to provide healthcare for all, control the pandemic, and implement a universal basic income or face a real insurrection. But they won’t.

    Like the USSR at the end, the big lie is not working. Global oligarchs imposed an old world caste system on a former middle class nation turning 75 million Trump voters into untermenschen (untouchables). This will not work. The long haulers, the homeless, the unemployed, the hungry, Heartland Americans with nothing to lose, Texas, will secede from either Coast and especially from Yankees. Yet this has not entered the Aristocracy’s consciousness even as they staff up the neo-Stasi to censor the truth off the internet and blame Russia for everything. The Biden/Harris Administration will fail just like the Donald J Trump did. Perhaps this will finally be the end of the neoliberal era after a 44-year reign.

  32. rowlf

    A fair article on airliner computer hacking news versus cases. I like it as the media stories were sensational while the claims and methods always seemed improbable due to how the various aircraft and cabin systems interfaced. (Aircraft systems send information to the cabin systems.)

    Having worked on the development of ADS-B I’m not sure how a hacker could interfere unless the signals were mocked outside the aircraft. Check out the Quail drone.

    Will Your Airliner Get Hacked? – Smithsonian Air & Space Magazine


  33. The Rev Kev

    I didn’t know Greta did irony

    Hmmm. Interesting question here. Who will have more lasting fame through history – Donald Trump or Greta Thunberg?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Trump by default. Though he will just be a gilded age president in an Era of imperial decline. Without sustained leadership, Thurnberg will only be part of an environmental movement that predates her and goes after her (or we are all dead). MLK’s fame really doesn’t originate from his efforts in favor of civil rights as that was part of a huge movement, but MLK did end the debate on what its supposed to mean to be black or anything in America in the long run. Greta will ultimately be like those other civil rights leaders who don’t get much play. It’s like John Adams thought that Jefferson’s work on religious tolerance was the most important thing any member of the continental congress actually did. The rest of it was reactionary and part of the larger zeitgeist. Jefferson bent the curve with his edicts of religious toleration.

  34. Michael McK

    I almost hate to comment this late and I do not have a link but…
    There is a sense in which a “non-tabulating ballot marking device” being allowed as part of paper ballot requirement reforms is not highly suspicious. That is for persons with substantial physical limitations. A decade or more ago my County chose its current vendors for our system of paper ballots and optical scanners with random hand counted spot checks. I remember an issue from the time about a technology (some sort of board?) from a small company (from Arizona?) that allowed very physically limited people to vote by themselves. I did a quick search and found nothing (actually I found lots of stuff but not what I was looking for). We went with a major vendor and I do not know what solution we have for the disabled but having a carve out in the legislation to allow BMDs (with the caveat that people have a hand option) is not inherently bad. I did not read the whole bill but sec.1503 deals with disability access and is groovy enough (I know, it’s a pretty low bar) to stipulate that any systems developed with the grants offered must be non-proprietary.
    I wholeheartedly support, no, demand, hand marked ballots hand counted in public but we need to let the handless vote too. I am not claiming the bill is not bunk, I did not even read the whole table of contents, just that it might be just fine even with 1 ballot marking device at every polling place..

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