Recent Items

Links 1/18/2021

Darkened SpaceX Satellites Can Still Disrupt Astronomy, New Research Suggests Gizmodo

Lael Brainard: Full Employment in the New Monetary Policy Framework (PDF) Bank of International Settlements. “The strong support from monetary policy, together with fiscal stimulus, should turn the K-shaped recovery into a broad-based and inclusive recovery that delivers full employment.”

Russia has never been this hot Barents Observer

#COVID19

Why West Virginia’s Winning The Race To Get COVID-19 Vaccine Into Arms NPR (UserFriendly). People’s arms, dammit.

Mississippi Expands Vaccine Access, But ‘Red Tape’ Delays Long-Term Care Vaccinations Mississippi Free Press (UserFriendly).

Nursing homes make big push to change minds of workers who refused vaccination NBC. The deck: “Cash bonuses, free TVs and paid time off are among the incentives nursing homes are offering to persuade staff members to get vaccinated.”

Current State of Mass Vaccination Preparedness and Operational Challenges in the United States, 2018-2019 Health Security. From the Abstract: “We found that most jurisdictions were not capable of or had not planned for rapidly vaccinating their populations within a short period of time (eg, 1 to 2 weeks). Many also noted that their focus on pill dispensing was driven largely by federal funding requirements and that preparedness efforts for mass vaccination were often self-motivated. Barriers to implementing rapid mass vaccination operations included insufficient personnel qualified to administer vaccinations, increased patient load compared to pill-dispensing modalities, logistical challenges to maintaining cold chain, and operational challenges addressing high-risk populations, including children, pregnant women, and non-English-speaking populations.”

* * *

Op-Ed: Public Schools Should (Almost Always) Stay Open MedPage Today

Ventilator blues:

* * *

Caffeine and caffeine-containing pharmaceuticals as promising inhibitors for 3-chymotrypsin-like protease of SARS-CoV-2 Journal of Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics. From the Abstract: “To our knowledge, this in silico study shows for the first time very inexpensive drugs available in large quantities that can be potential inhibitors against 3CLpro. In particular, the repurposing of linagliptin, and caffeine are recommended for COVID-19 treatment after in vitro, in vivo and clinical trial validation.” From the Results and Discussion: “caffeine and theophylline are naturally available in many plant species such as cocoa beans, kola nuts, tea leaves and coffee beans (Petimar et al., 2019; Risner, 2008). Consequently, it is easy to make it available to a large number of patients, regardless of their whereabouts or living standards, which is difficult or impossible-like for some other medications such as Remdesivir.” I sought reassurance on this to comprensate for my twin biases toward off-patent and natural, and toward caffeine [sips], which I received.

* * *

The Coronavirus Is Evolving Before Our Eyes The Atlantic

New COVID Strains May Deepen Crew Change Crisis Maritime Executive

Pandemic Severe, But “Not Necessarily The Big One”: WHO NDTV (CA).

China?

US blacklists Xiaomi and Cnooc in flurry of actions to counter China FT

China’s pork output recovered ‘higher than expected’ last year after African swine fever ravaged 2019 South China Morning Post

Special Report: Burner phones and banking apps: Meet the Chinese ‘brokers’ laundering Mexican drug money Reuters. Hey, that’s our job!

On a Guizhou Mountainside, a Lesson in the Limits of Sex Ed Sixth Tone

The Pandemic Sessions | Interviews from Vietnam Vietnam Coracle. Two Vietnamese, two expats. Still interesting.

Indonesia’s Semeru volcano erupts spewing hot clouds days after deadly earthquake ABC Australia

Broken promises: How Singapore lost trust on contact tracing privacy Bloomberg

The Koreas

SKorean court gives Samsung scion prison term over bribery AP. Putting a billionaire in jail. That’s real First World mojo, right there.

India

Women at farm stir: ‘We are recreating history’ People’s Archive of Rural India

India hails ‘life saving’ Covid-19 vaccine rollout Agence France Presse

Syraqistan

France says Iran is building nuclear weapon capacity, urgent to revive agreement France24

Biden Doesn’t Need a New Middle East Policy Foreign Affairs

How COVID-19 vaccination is proceeding in Russia Russia Beyond

UK/EU

Why banks should not bear all the burden of Britain’s scam culture FT

French Muslim council agrees accord on ‘principles’ sought by Macron France24

Venezuela slams U.S. court approval of Citgo parent sale as ‘fraudulent’ Reuters

New Cold War

Dmitry Medvedev: America 2.0. After the election TASS

Trump Transition

Classicist struggle:

Did Obama possess Prudentia? Or Justicia? Arguably not.

QAnon’s Predictions Haven’t Come True; So How Does The Movement Survive The Failure Of Prophecy? Religion Dispatches. From October 2020, still germane.

Swiss text sleuths unpick mystery of QAnon origins Channel News Asia

Capitol Seizure

Pushing on an open door (JS):

* * *

Liberalism’s War on the Internet Benjamin Studebaker. If the Capitol Seizure really is like 9/11, we’ll over-react, impose Draconian security legislation, declare war on the wrong enemies, lose it, and spend trillions of dollars (ka-ching). And the same people will be in power at the end as were in power at the beginning. It’s not like we don’t have form.

Massachusetts teen turns in her own family as Capitol rioters ABC7

The lives of others:

Hundreds in publishing sign letter objecting to book deals for the Trump administration Los Angeles Times (DJG). While furiously office politicking to edit the (final?) volume of Kissinger’s memoirs, no doubt.

Twitter temporarily suspends Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene for election misinformation CNN

Manchin: Removing Hawley, Cruz with 14th Amendment ‘should be a consideration’ The Hill

Root out police departments’ extremists New York Daily News

* * *

House panels open review of Capitol riot The Hill

What the right gets wrong about Big Tech and the Capitol coup Kara Swisher, Politico. “There is nothing that Parler was doing that companies like Facebook were not guilty of too and in larger measure and for a very long time.” Scaling the dopamine loop is bad and should be illegal.

The Unlikely Connection Between Wellness Influencers and the Pro-Trump Rioters Cosmpolitan

Would I have stormed the Capitol? Boston Globe

Online far-right movements fracture in wake of Capitol riot NBC

Do Democrats realize the danger they are in? Ryan Cooper, The Week

Inaugural

FBI vetting Guard troops in DC amid fears of insider attack AP. Paragraph three: “[Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy] and other leaders say they have seen no evidence of any threats, and officials said the vetting hadn’t flagged any issues that they were aware of.”

Biden Transition

Bullet points:

Race, not class. And nothing at all on health care.

Democrats ready immigration push for Biden’s early days Politico

An increase to a $15 minimum wage marks a core component of Biden’s new stimulus plan Business Insider. “[N]ot a clear timeframe.”

Divided Senate Gives Kamala Harris Powerful Tiebreaker Role Bloomberg

The US must now repair democracy at home and abroad Brookings Institution. The adults are back in the room….

The ABC has been radicalised David Llewellen-Smith, Macrobusiness. More interesting than the headline, a summary of the Biden administration’s prospects (combined with a media critique of ABC Australia).

Boeing

Boeing’s deal with the DoJ highlights the limits of US justice FT

Imperial Collapse Watch

Asia’s rise and the steady decline of the West Nikkei Asian Review

Class Warfare

The Rich Are Minting Money in the Pandemic Like Never Before Bloomberg. So what’s not to like?

Pain, despair and poverty reach fever pitch for unemployed workers CNBC

Essential work:

Prop 22 Is Here, and It’s Already Worse Than Expected The American Prospect

The Rise of Human Capital Theory Economics from the Top Down

Developers: These botched software rollouts are costing businesses billions TechRepublic (original).

Antidote du jour (via):

See Yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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

216 comments

  1. CoryP

    Re: Russian vaccine

    The claim that the two-component vaccine “provides immunity for 3 years” stood out.

    I wonder how they can feel comfortable saying that. Every other comment I’ve read on immunity from the infection or the vaccine made it sound like this is essentially unknowable at the moment.

    Am I missing something? If it’s baseless propaganda it’s certainly not subtle.

    1. Eelok

      It is not knowable. There are many different components to immunity, including several different ways in which the body itself can “remember” and respond to viruses, as well as the potential for new mutations or strains to arise which bypass vaccine-derived immunity. Some scientists make educated guesses based on the immune response triggered, but there’s no substitute for time and study.

      It does seem like propaganda in this case on the part of Russia’s national epidemiology research center. Elsewhere, its director has taken jabs at the Pfizer vaccine while arguing that Sputnik V can provide immunity for 2 years.

      1. Mikel

        “but there’s no substitute for time and study…’

        And there has been no time study for continual injections over time of an essentially experimental vaccine like the mRNA ones.
        Are approvals for consistent injections over time for various strains? Would that need another round of scientific study and approvals rather than “just line the arms up”?

        And there is still worry by some about the virus building up its defenses and becoming stronger strains with the lag time between shots. Nobody thought to study that as a requirement before approval?

      2. The Rev Kev

        Guess that we won’t know what the go is for the Sputnik vaccine until many more months have gone by to see if it is effective or not and for how long. It has copped a lot of flak in the media because, well, it’s Russian. Personally I hope it works because I am a fan of any vaccine that works at this stage. The more the merrier. RT was having a laugh because some of those Moscow-based reporters that have been criticizing Sputnik have now been lining up for shots of it-

        https://www.rt.com/russia/512428-western-journalists-sputnik-vaccination/

        1. CoryP

          Well exactly. I’m of the kind that even if Russia or China had a miracle cure it would be downplayed and ridiculed here in the west.
          So I’m eager for news on these vaccines.

          Yet the three year claim seems egregiously propagandistic in the other direction. Sigh.

    2. Mickey Hickey

      Russia has been in the vaccine business since 1768 under Catherine the Great. I expect they are projecting the decline of the relative active fragments in the blood based on 6-12 months testing and a model developed over the years since C the G. Certainly it will not be highly accurate but it will be better than commercial hype. Keep in mind that Russia has been the target of Western propaganda for 75 years and at some point people always succumb to their own propaganda.

      1. Cath_still_Veliky

        While this is true in the sense that Catherine introduced variolation to Russia, and it was indeed forward thinking of her, and a great success: Catherine did this by inviting an English doctor to Russia, as it was already somewhat common in England, having been introduced 40-50 years before (borrowed from the Ottomans) and becoming relatively standardised there. Now if only the English had been similarly inclined to make the practice standard elsewhere in the Empire.

    3. Moeglicherweise

      I give you a related response to your question on vaccination. Please see the link below for an example of how tracking of immunological memory for natural SARS-CoV-2 infection has been done – out to 8 months so far. J.M. Dan et al Science 2021. 254 samples from 188 COVID-19 cases. The authors assessed IgG levels, B, CD4+ and CD8+ T memory cells and performed both cross-sectional and longitudinal analysis. Note the very large range of individual responses and how this compares to the decay over time. What happens beyond 8 months? The data are not sufficient to know, for example:

      These data suggest that T cell memory might reach a more stable plateau, or slower decay phase, beyond the first 8 months post-infection.

      So we don’t have sufficient data yet.

      This is the most interesting data I’ve seen so far on the topic, and yet despite all the work that went into this paper, it was not a comprehensive study of immunological memory, as it was limited to circulating immune memory (which does not diminish its significance).

      https://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2021/01/06/science.abf4063.full

      1. Yves Smith

        A much larger study of UK healthcare workers (over 4000) could conclude immunity lasted 5 months, perhaps more:

        https://www.reuters.com/article/health-coronavirus-immunity/covid-19-infection-gives-some-immunity-for-at-least-5-months-uk-study-finds-idUSL8N2JO4MM

        The very large and diverse Imperial College surveys (tens of thousands of people, regular sampling) has similarly found antibody levels fall off so rapidly that they have stated immunity might only last a few months. There have been documented reports of reinfection within months, and this is in the US with terrible testing. So even before you get to mutations, this is very much an open question.

        1. Moeglicherweise

          The reason I find the J.M. Dan et al. article interesting and helpful is because of the broad range of memory cell responses they looked into, in addition to IgG anti-spike and IgG anti-RBD (and their relationships over time). Different studies are giving us different pictures. A small(er) study on memory cells gives us information that a study 100 times larger on IgG to spike does not. We need all these studies to be done. Correlates of protection are in the process of being determined.

          I have not yet seen Hopkins’ SIREN Article referenced in the Reuters link. It appears to be in preprint from what I can tell.

          From a SIREN-related Hopkins study, Lumley S.F. et al. NEJM 2020, which is out we have:

          The relationship between the presence of antibodies to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and the risk of subsequent reinfection remains unclear.

          https://www.nejm.org/doi/10.1056/NEJMoa2034545?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori%3Arid%3Acrossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub++0pubmed

          Hope this helps clarify what I was driving at.

  2. The Rev Kev

    Capitol Seizure – “Attempted coup”

    Got really annoyed watching that clip of that cop talking to those rioters in the Capital Chamber but not for the reason that you might think. I was watching a longer version of that clip on the news tonight and it was saying how “scary” the footage was. But it was on the same level of this video so not really scary at all and the bit about the bloodied guy saying he had been shot in the face had been edited out altogether. Kudos to that cop being and acting like a pro such as when he asked that wounded guy if he needed medical attention and taking to them matter of factly. I did note one thing. He referred to that place as the ‘sacredest place’ and I have heard some politicians refer to it by the same words. But the Capitol building is sacred? Really? Gettysburg to me is sacred. So is the Independence Hall in Philadelphia. But the Capital building? Nah! It is what it was described as a fortnight ago – a crime scene.

    1. Pat

      There have been some scary videos from the riot, for instance one where the cop was drug into the crowd. Most I have seen have been like this one. Or even more common people talking about doing their patriotic duty looking like those ads you see with people excited to take the latest ride at Disneyland. There is no way most of the people there were seriously trying to overthrow the government. Which is why I continue to call it a riot.

      I know this could just be bureaucratic incompetence, but there is such a feel of a dog catching the car’s bumper. There was so little security. And I am having deja vu as I watch the over reaction, and deeply fear the coming security ramp up.

      1. Cas

        I agree with you. What I’ve seen and read about the people entering the Capital is they were expecting Jan. 6 to be the big reveal, Trump would be there and show the election was a fraud, then lead them on to victory? I’m not sure what. As more chat room conversations are reviewed we may find out some individuals were planning serious harm (although I’m already at the stage were I’d be sceptical of its validity). So yes, we’ll just get more security ramp up and more loss of civil liberties.

      2. campbeln

        I keep coming back to Yves’ question – “cui bono?”

        The DC Mayor called for National Guard in the days leading up to the 6th, yet nothing happened. Why!?

        https://apnews.com/article/joe-biden-donald-trump-politics-electoral-college-muriel-bowser-1634bf71a27de48efef3cd1e6ed4abe4
        > WASHINGTON (AP) January 4th — Bracing for possible violence, the nation’s capital has mobilized the National Guard ahead of planned protests by President Donald Trump’s supporters in connection with the congressional vote expected Wednesday to affirm Joe Biden’s election victory.

        > Trump’s supporters are planning to rally Tuesday and Wednesday, seeking to bolster the president’s unproven claims of widespread voter fraud. “There are people intent on coming to our city armed,” D.C. Acting Police Chief Robert Contee said Monday.

        So… who benefits from this failure of security at the Capitol?

        1. WJ

          Let’s see:

          1. the Democratic establishment
          a. Party
          b. Media apparatus
          c. Tech monopolies
          2. the Security State
          3. Establishment Republicans

    2. Arizona Slim

      The sacred Independence Hall. Reminds me of a little story from the Arizona Slim file.

      In late 2019, I was in Philadelphia with my camera. As is my wont, I wanted to get a closer shot of Independence Hall. So, I walked up to that fence that surrounds the building.

      I was about to duck under said fence when a very amped up security guard came charging up to me and told me to NOT to go any further! Or else!

      Yours Truly backed off and took the picture from a safe distance away from that fence.

      Methinks that if the Capitol had a force that showed the same level of aggression that I experienced in Philadelphia, the events of January 6 wouldn’t have happened.

    3. Fireship

      Ah, the sacralization of the State… now where have I heard that one before? By the way, nice fasces you got in that there Capitol. Of course, fascism could never arise in America. Fascism means putting the state above all else. American life is about putting the individual above all else, of staying a child for one’s entire lifespan.

      So, the future of America is not fascism, at least. I suspect it will be much worse. A totalitarian state where one is urged to consume oneself to death in a lonely, atomized shell of a life where one constantly needs distraction from the utter futility of it all. Oh wait, that IS American life.

      1. Pelham

        You capture nicely the sense of an article that was linked here a few days ago. It remarked how existential angst — a profound feeling of personal detachment from the world around one — was once considered a malady to be treated. But since then it has evolved into today’s hyper-individualism, a bottomless well of self regard that capitalism delights in exploiting.

        That’s rather a nasty turn of events, and, in one sense, a bunch of people joining as one with a great (though lunatic) purpose to storm Washington or riot this past summer over allegations of police brutality might also be interpreted as refreshing departures from the default of self-absorption in the service of capitalism.

        But back to the main point: I’m getting the same impression, that what was initially characterized with the scare word “insurrection” and is now evolving into a “coup” attempt was really little more than a case of inadequate security forces (although that “little more” also includes some pipe bombs, I guess) unable to contain an undetermined number of opportunistic yahoos.

        So where does this leave us? Well, it appears the expected mayhem at state capitals over the long weekend has basically failed to pan out. I suppose that’s a good sign for starters. Back to brunch?

        1. JTMcPhee

          Not enough use of an important descriptor in what’s shakin’ in the US and a lot of other places in the world:

          Anomie: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anomie

          And then there’s “strain theory,” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strain_theory_(sociology).

          Which in practice leads to another bad behavior: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Running_amok Like that guy in Las Vegas, https://nypost.com/2020/07/02/new-documentary-offers-clues-for-las-vegas-shooters-motive/

          Morbid symptoms, and the people who have their hands on the levers of power are all about doubling down on the stuff that keeps their bubble afloat…

      2. Henry Moon Pie

        “American life is about putting the individual above all else, of staying a child for one’s entire lifespan.”

        How true. But they’re such unhappy children.

        1. LifelongLib

          Seriously? You, your family, your friends, your neighbors are consumerist children? How many Americans who are like that have you actually met? In my case, almost none.

          1. Young

            Apple invites you to visit one of their store as soon as they open them so that you can meet some of the said American people.

            I have seen many fifty-ish looking children with toys costing $1000+ in their hands at the Stanford Shopping Center, almost crying because their toys weren’t cooperating.

          2. campbeln

            Sounds like you’re in flyover where real work is done by real people LifelongLib. I echo Young’s account of (wo)man-children in the Apple store as well the gelotti shop and in lifted trucks running poor schleps off the road for daring to go the speed limit.

            Course… maybe that’s just California.

      3. Harold

        The concept of a secular civil religion and “amour sacré de la patrie”– “sacred love of the Fatherland” (La Marseillaise), long predate Fascism. The guard may not have been very articulate, but the idea that the historic capitol building at the very least ought to inspire a some degree of veneration and respect doesn’t seem controversial to me.

        1. JTMcPhee

          The Capitol is just a building. The veneration and respect are supposed to be earned by the critters that populate it. A task which in their infinite hypocrisy, dissembling and corruption (converting public wealth to private profit, for themselves and their owners) they fail — by intent and long practice — every single day.

          They have the reputation they deserve.

          Kind of like priestly pedophiles and their relationship to the great aspirational edifices they hide within and defile.

        2. Basil Pesto

          Perhaps, but on the other one can’t help but think that there are many formerly ‘sacred’ seats of governance that are now ruins. Sacred, until everyone realises they’re not.

    4. cocomaan

      If there’s any scene to sum up 2021, it’s a capitol police officer with his mask under his nose letting a bunch of yahoos into the chamber, saying:

      “I just wanted to let you guys know, this is, like, THE sacredest place.”

    5. Carolinian

      If it’s “sacred” maybe we should toss the money changers from the temple. It’s ok for Capitol cops to feel that way–maybe not the rest of us.

  3. RattasackN

    The link on the South Korean AP article on jailing a Samsung scion points to a business insider article on Biden.

  4. CoryP

    re: QAnon – When Prophecy Fails

    This stuff is fascinating. However I find it funny that neither the article nor the 24 page PDF it links to mentions the 2000 year old archetypal example that demonstrates the longevity of motivated belief.

    Of course, even for unbelievers, that’s only one possible interpretation of Matt. 16:28

    If there’s any sentient life on earth in 4000 AD maybe JFK Jr will be revered as a god.

    (Not trying to pick any fights. I was raised as a biblical literalist and over time have come to appreciate how interesting the text is when looked at critically)

      1. CoryP

        You and me both. Excellent comment.

        I think I might actually try to delve into the Qanon phantasmagoria (I know that’s the wrong word but I don’t know what the right one is)

        I’m not sure if I’m going to take the deep dive but,..I kind of want to. I think I know how their belief system works.

        Source criticism was a revelation for me and that’s why I’m gushing on it in defiance of the commenting policy.

        1. ambrit

          ‘Q’anon and phantasmagoria in the same sentence should “square” the weirdness factor. Now, if one were a carpenter or a mason, squaring ‘something’ will mean something distinctly different in kind from if a mathematician, or Pythagorean Philosopher were to do so.
          Indeed, your usage compotes closely with what I imagine Philip K Dick was attempting to describe in his later works, such as “Valis.”
          I too had my eyes opened by “source criticism,” all three of them.

  5. Worf's Prune Juice

    The US must now repair democracy at home and abroad – Brookings Institution

    A lot of great stuff here. Quotes from senior fellows at the Atlantic Council and the Council on Foreign Relations, handwringing about how autocratic regimes such as Turkey are experiencing schadenfreude regarding Trump’s actions. I particularly like how they laundered in the claim that China (in addition to Russia of course) is committing political interference in the good ole’ US of A. Ultimately, our refusal to “push back” against “abuses abroad” will amount to a “moral abdication” by the US.

    I can’t say I’m surprised by any of this, but I continue to be a bit gobsmacked by the utter lack of any recognition of the very real abuses the US has committed – and continues to commit – all over the place. Last year’s Bolivian election fiasco and hilariously bungled attmepted coup in Venezuela is only the tip of the iceberg. I realize not recognizing these things is kind of their job, but this really is appraoched Qanon-level of alternate reality.

    “For example, the Trump administration used democracy and human rights purely instrumentally, as weapons with which to bludgeon its enemies—China, Venezuela, Cuba—while giving its friends a pass and undermining these values at home. That approach is bankrupt and will fail if tried again.”

    I agree on the last sentence, but if anything I see this being increased in a Biden admin based on his NatSec appointees.

  6. bassmule

    Actual good news?

    We’re underselling the vaccine,” Dr. Aaron Richterman, an infectious-disease specialist at the University of Pennsylvania, said.

    “It’s going to save your life — that’s where the emphasis has to be right now,” Dr. Peter Hotez of the Baylor College of Medicine said.

    The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are “essentially 100 percent effective against serious disease,” Dr. Paul Offit, the director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said. “It’s ridiculously encouraging.”

    https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/18/briefing/donald-trump-pardon-phil-spector-coronavirus-deaths.html

    For Lambert: It’s an idiom. Take it easy, OK?

    1. Literally, an injection of drugs. This phrase can refer to both legal and illegal substances. Once the nurse gives you a shot in the arm, you’ll feel better, I promise.
    2. Something that revitalizes, reinvigorates, or encourages someone or something. The chief’s unexpected praise really gave my floundering project a shot in the arm.
    3. A drink of alcohol. After a long week like this, I need a shot in the arm—want to meet me at the bar?

    1. CallMeTeach

      People who have received both of their vaccine shots, and have waited until they take effect, will be able to do things that unvaccinated people cannot — like having meals together and hugging their grandchildren. But until the pandemic is defeated, all Americans should wear masks in public, help unvaccinated people stay safe and contribute to a shared national project of saving every possible life.

      This message would probably undo all the good of the vaccine because people would–justifiably–be angry and envious that they have not had the vaccine yet, because they followed the rules and didn’t try to jump in line/wield influence to get theirs/buy theirs. The mistrust and resentment is already there. We’ve seen article after article sparking outrage over those who have jumped the queue. Here’s a recent one:
      I can imagine it won’t take too long before those who have to wait just give up and be reckless.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Anybody know if the vaccinated people who are supposedly able “to do things that unvaccinated people cannot — like having meals together and hugging their grandchildren,” will for sure not be shedding coronavirus particles from their “personally protected” respiratory and alimentary tracts?

        It still seems like a plurality death wish, this impetus to return toot sweet to intimacy status quo ante, and the notion of being shielded by the vaccine would seem to align well with a continued willingness to put self over commons when it comes to public health necessities…

        As a constitutional recluse and misanthrope, I personally don’t need hugs or closeness, but I acknowledge my wife’s aching need to be close to the kids and grandkids, and do pray that there will be some combination of tech and behaviors that lets her fill that need.

        1. Cuibono

          IMO this is dangerous nonsense. Lots of vaccines can protect against morbidity and mortality and NOT block transmission. Well described with animal CV vaccines. Also Polio, Pertussis in humans.

          We should NOT be encouraging people to drop physical controls at this time until MUCH more is known.

          1. Cuibono

            https://www.acpjournals.org/doi/10.7326/M21-0111

            The distinction between immunity that protects a vaccinated person from developing symptomatic disease and immunity capable of also interrupting transmission of the virus from the vaccinated person to others is an important consideration for population immunity. This distinction is frequently lost in discussions about the collective societal responsibility to get vaccinated to reach an adequate level of population (herd) immunity to eliminate transmission. Failure to appreciate this distinction may lead to a false sense in vaccinees that they are protected from infection and thus cannot transmit to susceptible contacts. Hence, it is critical to continue to reinforce the public health measures of social distancing, handwashing, and masking until the current outbreak is under control.”

    2. cocomaan

      At 35 years old, my chances of dying from Covid are probably around 0.05%, using whatever incomplete statistics we have right now. That’s one half of one tenth of one percent.

      I’m a white man, no underlying conditions, healthy BMI, so my chances of getting seriously ill or dying are that much lower than ethnic minorities or people who are unhealthier. I’m also not in ridiculously good shape like some people I know who have zero percent body fat and thus might get sicker.

      If you’re trying to convince me to take the vaccine because Covid might kill me, you’re failing with this argument. The vaccine apparently doesn’t prevent transmission so there’s not really an incentive for me to take it to keep others from getting sick either.

        1. cocomaan

          It’s not really helping me, and it’s not helping anyone else since I still transmit the disease. What’s the point? I don’t see the argument here, makes no sense to me.

      1. Maritimer

        Well said. Fortunately, you still have the right to refuse medical treatment be it invasive or not. But the Covid Drumbeat continues and that right may soon be taken away.

      2. Procopius

        What is overlooked here is “long covid,” the lasting and sometimes very serious harm the virus does even when it’s a “mild” case. People who have recovered and are feeling pretty good may die in a year or two from the kidney or heart failure brought about by the virus. We may start seeing cases of dementia in people in their thirties or forties. I wonder sometimes if “long covid” is just under reported because it’s not dramatic enough to attract clicks and eyeballs, or if it’s being actively suppressed by editors who know their owners wouldn’t like to see it.

        1. cocomaan

          Or, it might not be that much more of a problem than any other long term effects from any other disease. It’s hard to say right now. Freely speculating that something is a problem is… well… half the problem with the way things are being decided right now.

          1. Basil Pesto

            Or, it might not be that much more of a problem than any other long term effects from any other disease. It’s hard to say right now.

            It has been reported in considerable breadth and depth in the last six or so months. Much of said reporting has been featured on this site. Your first sentence is lamentably blithe.

      3. Kurt Sperry

        The vaccine apparently doesn’t prevent transmission

        I think whoever is making the bald assertion you are basing that on is plain making stuff up, which we should all as a service to the site avoid either doing ourselves or repeating and spreading second-hand as misinformation.

        1. Yves Smith

          You are out of line.

          We have repeatedly run posts from scientists and medical professionals who strongly urge continuing to wear masks after having been vaccinated because

          1. There is yet no evidence that the vaccines stop transmission (the only one that collected data on this point was AstraZeneca and limited data indicates only some reduction). The expectation is that they will reduce it somewhat due to lowering the # of symptomatic cases, where viral shedding is much higher (due to greater severity of the disease plus in most cases coughing).

          2. It is just about 100% certain that no vaccine for Covid will produce sterilizing immunity, which is a level of immunity that is so high that an infection does not occur in a vaccinated patient. Covid enters in the nose and from there goes to the lungs or the gut. No vaccine will stop Covid from getting into your nose.

          The vaccines may only provide effective immunity:

          Sterilizing immunity differs from effective immunity in that the latter can prevent illness but still lead to asymptomatic infection.

          https://www.verywellhealth.com/covid-19-vaccines-and-sterilizing-immunity-5092148

          As Nature warned in November:

          Now, evidence suggests that about one in five infected people will experience no symptoms, and they will transmit the virus to significantly fewer people than someone with symptoms. But researchers are divided about whether asymptomatic infections are acting as a ‘silent driver’ of the pandemic.

          https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-03141-3

          And with the “coming to your town soon” super infectious Covid, those asymptomatic carriers, who presumably have lower viral loads, will be more dangerous than they were in the past.

          1. Kurt Sperry

            I’ve read those post from scientists, just as I’ve read scientists that disaree. There is a possibility that one or some of the vaccines being distributed will allow significant spread, but that chance appears to me to be small and the statement that “The vaccine apparently doesn’t prevent transmission” is completely unsupported by the same inevitable lack of data that makes it impossible to say that vaccines will always prevent transmission. I would never categorically claim that all vaccines will 100% prevent infectious spread, that would be “making stuff up”, but so is asserting the opposite. We don’t know; nobody does yet.

            Anyone with a strong belief that the new vaccines will allow contagion unchecked as alleged, can we make a friendly wager on that? How about winner gives the sum to NC as a donation, whoever that winner is? That’s how confident i am. We’ll probably know the answer within a year, maybe sooner.

      4. Yves Smith

        You really have not been paying attention.

        Symptomatic cases most assuredly result in virus shedding and potential infection of others. Asymptomatic cases are believed to as well. A vaccine likely won’t stop all virus shedding but by greatly reducing the incidence of symptomatic cases (with their higher viral loads and often, coughing) they should somewhat (maybe more than “somewhat”) reduce transmission.

        Morbidity is serious with Covid. And I’m not keen about having my insurance premium have to cover the cost of people like you.

        Did you miss Long Covid, which appears to disproportionately afflict the young and formerly healthy

        How about the finding from a major Texas teaching hospital, based on a very large sample (IIRC >4,000) that literally every person who they saw that had symptomatic Covid showed lung damage worse than had they been serious smokers. and 70-80% of the asymptomatic cases showed similar damage?

        We’ve also shown post Covid cases showing significant levels of brain impairment (visible on scans), heart and kidney damage?

        You aren’t showing anywhere near the warranted level of concern about this disease.

        I’m not getting a vaccine until I see more safety data, and I’m likely to take a conventional vaccine like the AstraZeneca one. And I am using prophylactics beyond masks as a result.

        Rejecting a vaccine out of hand is a very poor computation of the odds. It also imposes costs on the rest of us. Bluntly: who do you expect to push your wheelchair if you wind up needing one?

      5. drumlin woodchuckles

        My understanding is that this mRNA neo-vaccinoid is supposed to prevent those infected from actually responding badly to the presence of virus. It is supposed to get the body to prepare enough antibodies to stop most of the viruses from infecting most of your cells.

        Why would this matter to someone young and nearly healthy? I have read recently, including here on NaCap, that young and youngish people who get mildly sick and recover in terms of not having symptoms yet still have enough after-infection lung cell micro-damage as to make me wonder if they have lost all “margin of safety” in their lungs. Will they be super sickenable or even killable by any little infection or condition which attacks what remaining lung function they still have left?

        Is it worth getting the neo-vaccinoid as insurance against this delayed outcome “later” from a seemingly mild covid infection “now”?

    3. ChiGal in Carolina

      But there is a person or entity that is receiving the shot in the arm in these examples, not exactly parallel with shots in arms. I agree with Lambert it is s somewhat off-putting.
      But I figured it must be doctor lingo, or maybe even a Brit thing, like jabs.

      1. ambrit

        I’m wondering if the term “jabs” might not be New England dialect, as in; “My uncle and his bois got them jabs daun at the Navy Yahd.”
        That’s a political two-fer; needles and work. I’d vote for that.

    4. Kurt Sperry

      From the piece,

      Although no rigorous study has yet analyzed whether vaccinated people can spread the virus, it would be surprising if they did. “If there is an example of a vaccine in widespread clinical use that has this selective effect — prevents disease but not infection — I can’t think of one!” Dr. Paul Sax of Harvard has written in The New England Journal of Medicine. (And, no, exclamation points are not common in medical journals.) On Twitter, Dr. Monica Gandhi of the University of California, San Francisco, argued: “Please be assured that YOU ARE SAFE after vaccine from what matters — disease and spreading.”

      It appears unlikely that the vaccinated population will be a significant vector for the spread of the virus. It’s just impossible to prove it at this point in time.

      1. Duke of Prunes

        All well and good, and I truly hope this is correct. However, your quotes do not ease my skepticism.

        First, the mRNA Covid vaccines are unlike any “vaccine in widespread clinical use”. Therefore, it doesn’t seem correct to compare it to them. Having never before attempted a widespread mRNA vaccination program, it seems premature to say it will behave just like a dead virus vaccine with any degree of certainty. I certainly hope it does, but Dr. Sax’s statement doesn’t help me get beyond this hope.

        Secondly, the fact that there is no rigorous study to analyze whether vaccinated people can spread the virus means we do not know. Regardless of how many exclamation points the good doctor uses. As a skeptic, the use of exclamation points where they do not normally belong raises red flags rather than comfort. I’d rather see factual statements (and supporting documentation) that end with periods (ALL CAPS do not help, either). This is uncharted territory (see no rigorous study) so, again, it seems misleading to wrap speculation in a package that implies certainty.

    5. Mikel

      It’s bothersome in the same way those videos of clips of newscasters reading from the same script about some issue or controversy is bothersome….
      Like words that come from some think tank or marketing focus group, rather than words of actual concern.

  7. The Historian

    I loved Taleb’s tweet. My high school Latin came in handy today!

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could actually find politicians with those qualities? Even in Rome, very few politicians were worthy of those words, and more often than not, dignitas and iustitia were things that were purchased, and auctoritas came at the edge of a sword.

    But more to the point, would we actually vote for people who did exhibit these qualities? Seems to me that they wouldn’t make good politicians in today’s world. “The Prince” seems more apropos!

    1. bojackhorsemeat

      I think those are characteristics of heroes in classic mythology, not anything any real ruler ever has or will exhibit. Seems like an oddly childish view of politics. There are probably good reasons we don’t see leaders with these traits actually winning elections.

      And it’s weird to point to Trump only here – but I guess other than decorum there isn’t a lot different about him.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      The problem is of course that those qualities can be faked. As Krystal Ball on TheHill has pointed out, Biden’s success is largely due to his ability to project gravitas and likability, allowing everyone to overlook what he’s actually stood for over his long career.

      But gravitas is important. When Jeremy Corbin was elected Labour leader, my first instinctive thought was that he simply didn’t look like a PM, and if I didn’t think so, then the average UK voter wouldn’t think so either. He did try later on try to look the part, but it was far too late.

      But it is something I think that the left needs to learn. If you want to be elected, its not enough to have the right policies, or to campaign the right way. Perception is important (yes, even wearing the right suit!). Its a rare politician who can mix gravitas with the right policies and good political instincts. If you can find that, you are on to a winner. Nicola Sturgeon comes to mind as someone who combines those qualities (more or less). There aren’t many others.

      1. notabanker

        I would contend Biden’s success is largely, like 99.9%, due to a corrupt election process where big money corporate donors decide who the candidate will be. Biden was the presumptive nominee with a mere 10 million primary votes and Harris was unelectable in her home state.

        The media’s narrative of these candidates is propaganda. Biden is corrupt as the day is long and is controllable, much like Obama. He is going to do what his donors tell him to do.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Obama was more than just corrupt. Obama was/ is coldly evil. I suspect Kamala may resemble Obama in that.

          To rephrase that, Draculamala may resemble Barakula in that.

      2. Lex

        I read your comment and took a hunch to Wiki for “proof”.

        Corbyn was born on 26 May 1949 in Chippenham, Wiltshire, and lived until the age of seven in the nearby village of Kington St Michael.[10] He is the youngest of the four sons of Naomi Loveday (née Josling; 1915–1987), a maths teacher, and David Benjamin Corbyn (1915–1986), an electrical engineer and expert in power rectifiers. His brother Piers Corbyn is a physicist, meteorologist and weather forecaster. His parents were Labour Party members[14] and peace campaigners who met in the 1930s at a committee meeting in support of the Spanish Republic at Conway Hall during the Spanish Civil War.’
        (emphasis mine)

        That was my first impression of Corbyn, starting with he seemed to be humorless. It wasn’t true.

        1. Henry Moon Pie

          I wonder if Corbyn’s parents knew Orwell. Same circles. I still find Homage to Catalonia one of the most encouraging works of autobiography/history around.

      3. .Tom

        Visual presentation is one aspect of appealing to people through their unconscious thought. It’s something one side does well while the other seems to take take pride in not doing it and using good argumentation instead. George Lakoff has talked about it a lot.

      4. Duke of Prunes

        And your think Boris Johnson looks the part?!? Goofy smile and messy hair has never hit me as gravitas :). My wife didn’t believe me the first 5 times I told her that he was the leader of the UK.

    3. Wukchumni

      Harry Truman left the Presidency to live in his mother in law’s home (we’d call an adult doing that today, something snide) with very little savings and no $65 million book deal waiting for the last President to have only graduated from high school.

      He seemed to be the epitome of a humble man in deeds & actions, and it’s doubtful that a retinue of a dozen secret service agents were needed at his mother in law’s house, as the Presidency hadn’t devolved into our in royalty yet.

      There must be men & women in our country that both lust for the power of office, and the possibility of enriching our lives by setting good examples of themselves, but where the hell are they?

      1. Janie

        As I recall from touring President Truman’s home in Independence, the Trumans took the train from DC and walked from the depot from the house. An avid reader, he sat in the living room in front of an open window, visible from the street. There was no protection until LBJ insisted on it after the Kennedy assassination. He delighted in eluding the agents to walk the town. Bess would give him a head start, then innocently ask the agents if anyone had seen Harry lately. He maintained his military cadence, and agents had to trot to keep up. He enjoyed joining school tour groups and answering their questions. These were memories of older tour guides and tourists there with their own grandchildren, as well as official information.

        1. Phil in KC

          the Trumans had an Independence, Missouri police detective assigned to provide security while they were in residence at the Wallace home on Delaware St. He had a little shack out back near the garage. There was a telephone from the main house to the shack (installed by my dad, which is how I know this stuff). When it was cold the Trumans would have him at the kitchen table. He was only there from 8 to 5 five days a week. Sometimes he ran errands for Mrs. Truman.

          The Trumans were really real people. We were lucky to have had such a President at this time, although I often wonder what a President Henry Wallace would have done.

      2. Procopius

        There must be men & women in our country that both lust for the power of office, and the possibility of enriching our lives by setting good examples of themselves, but where the hell are they?

        I think Jimmy Carter is one. Unfortunately, he’s also the source of the policies that led to the dominance of neoliberalism (preempted by Reagan and the corporatists). I’m not sure I want to see another like him, but there don’t seem to be any FDRs any more.

    4. The Rev Kev

      Maybe the term ‘Statesman’ covers what those Romans were talking about. It might be hard to quantify but you know it when you see it. Is Trump a statesmen? Nope? Boris? Macron? MSB? I would say that Putin is one but there are not many on the world stage. When I see world leaders gathered at places like the G20, all I can think of is that they mostly look like the B team instead.

    5. ChiGal in Carolina

      My two cents: Obama projected gravitas but was crippled by his cautious nature, so prudent to a fault.

      1. urblintz

        I don’t think he was crippled at all. What you call cautious and prudent, I’d call self-absorbed and smug. Would that Obama had been “crippled” from legislating the betrayals that are hallmarks of his mendacious presidency – the best political liar in my lifetime, better than the big dog even. Imho Obama was far more of a fraud than Donald Trump. And Biden will pick up where he left off…
        (and no, I did not vote for Trump)

  8. Wukchumni

    In honor of MLK, admission to all National Parks is free today, please don’t come here though. My wife took a drive to the entrance station and regaled me with tales of way too many people in town, way too few masks and way too little Covid caution.

    There’s no lodging, campgrounds or restaurants open in Sequoia NP, so like a funnel it all cycles here where tourists go to the same 6 restaurants & 2 food markets, stay in AirBnB’s & motels in theory only rentable to essential people, at a point in the pandemic that practically screams for them to quarantine @ home for 40 days, as in days of olde, but no doing.

    We’re a superspreader event waiting to happen, and once it hits, tourists will vamoose taking it home and leave us here to divide it among ourselves.

  9. Mikel

    RE: Public Schools should stay open

    “Data last week from Sweden are reassuring. Nearly 2 million kids attended school from March to June, as the outbreak surged. Kids were not asked to wear masks. Despite this, only 15 kids developed severe COVID-19 or multi-inflammatory syndrome requiring ICU stay, of whom four had underlying medical problems. No children died.”

    So that’s an example, from Sweden, which is like night and day from the USA in so many ways.

    In the USA, kids in public schools, especially in urban areas, can live in close quarters at home with parents who have what are considered essential jobs.
    Then there are the pre-existing health conditions of family members that have not been mentioned once as a favtor to consider in the entire article…obesity, diabetes.

    1. marcyincny

      “Vladimir Kogan, PhD, is an associate professor in the department of political science at Ohio State University. Vinay Prasad, MD, MPH, is a hematologist-oncologist and associate professor of medicine at the University of California San Francisco, and author of Malignant: How Bad Policy and Bad Evidence Harm People With Cancer.”

      Again no mention of the deaths…

    2. Pat

      How many had minor symptoms?

      This is important because they are discovering the long term damage from even mild cases could likely be extensive.
      Local news report with some scary x-rays

      If this is remotely possible, do you really think putting our younger people in locations likely to be petri dishes of infection (see description above of law requiring closed and locked doors for classrooms) is a good idea?

      I do believe our children are better off in school for reasons ranging from socialization to the problems of reliance on technology where inequity means the least among us have even less access to education. I just think we need to be careful about the numerous health issues beyond low rate of mortality as well.

    3. Phillip Cross

      That misses the point. It is not about kids getting sick, we know that severe symptoms grow more likely with age. The point is that, in areas where there is uncontrolled viral spread, kids in schools catch do the virus, and do infect their families, who do spread it to others in their social network. It is these secondary and tertiary (etc..) infections that are more likely end up in the morgue.

      At the elementary school our child attends, they keep the classes apart and they send the whole class home for 10 days as soon as anyone in that class gets it. That has happened about 10 times at the school since September, even though they wear masks. As far as I know that has been quite effective at stopping school wide outbreaks.

      If you are trying to stop the spread of the virus, having schools open is going to reduce the effectiveness of any other measures that are being implemented and therefore they will need to be in place longer.

    4. td

      A couple of weeks ago, Sweden caught up with the US for the rate of new infections and currently has an average rate of daily deaths roughly equal to Canada, which has four times the population. The Swedish king in his annual message commented that their Covid plans appeared to have failed, which he wouldn’t have done lightly.

  10. Fireship

    A Harvard educated liberal descends into QAnon insanity:

    https://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/us/i-m-the-meme-queen-a-q-anon-digital-soldier-marches-on-1.4461146

    More than a 100 million Americans believe in QAnon to some extent. 40% believe Covid was made in a Chinese lab:

    https://www.ipsos.com/en-us/news-polls/npr-misinformation-123020

    Progs are now denouncing their own family members. Society in America is broken beyond repair. This used to be a blog about corporate malfeasance. It now documents US collapse in real-time. Still, it’s not all doom and gloom – American collapse is funny, like watching Laurel and Hardy. Who knew they were prophets?

    1. Aumua

      A third of Americans subscribe to QAnon? I don’t think so. I mean there are plenty of them, but not that many.

    2. Massinissa

      I have to agree with Aumua. ‘to some extent’ is doing an awful lot of work there. Define ‘believe in Qanon to some extent’? Quite frankly, defining something in such a broad way that it could include tens of millions of people who don’t even believe in the Q thing simply because they have a few characteristics in common with with Q cultists seems a little specious.

    1. Daryl

      Interesting note, I went searching for this since the link wasn’t working and had to narrow it down because there was a flood of news about the new Samsung Galaxy phone. Their PR department must be on overdrive now. Good for Korea, though.

  11. Don Cafferty

    In the article “Op-Ed: Public Schools Should (Almost Always) Stay Open’, the authors state that “… there is no evidence that its [B.1.1.7] increased transmissibility is occurring preferentially in younger ages.” I don’t know if it is evidence or not but in the attachment of data that CanChemist posted recently in the Comments section what stood out in the Ontario, Canada data for me was that as of January, each of the younger age groups 19 years and younger had a measurably higher positive percentage than all other age groups. In my eastern Canadian province, I don’t have data that is detailed like CanChemist; however, since the start of school in January, many more schools are reporting infections. The ‘Keep the Schools Open’ versus ‘Close the Schools’ has become such a controversy that as of yesterday, a petition is circulating demanding that the Minister of Education resign. I think that governments should be transparent with the data that they possess. Parents are shouting at one another and at the Minister of Education without the benefit of data. The “Almost Always” part of the article’s title would likely apply in one health region of my province and the schools would be closed. The attitude of the provincial government is that we will keep the schools open “at all cost”; hence, the battle has begun.

    1. bojackhorsemeat

      Lots of people I’ve heard unwilling to have their kids tested, “too invasive” or some nonsense like that. I imagine if they’re symptomatic they would get their kids tested, and that’s what’s driving the rates. I haven’t seen tests by age group vs population distribution for Ontario though.

      1. rtah100

        I believe it is more infectious in primary age children than the previous version, which was not very infection (or was infectious but largely asymptomatic / like any other childhood cold). My reasoning is:

        1) If you look at adult infection rates in the UK, they fell continuously during November’s lockdown in remote parts of the country but fell then rose in London and the SE, where the new variant hit first.

        2) It is my working hypothesis by inspection of the graphs that the data reflect two variants, one rising slowly and responding to lockdown and one coming up on the rails and relentless rising, giving the up-down-up profile. The more remote areas (e.g. Devon) just did not have much of the new variant, so they showed a monotonic fall of the old variant.

        3) Hidden in that is the school-age case rate. The UK saw a notable rise EVERYWHERE in the rate of infection in school age children during the autumn term, especially in primary school age children during November (and then on into December).

        4) So, while the adults were in lockdown-lite, the new variant exploded in areas where it reached critical mass. In areas where it was less prevalent, it as more infectious in children than the old variant and therefore drove an increase in case rates that the preceding two months of continuous schooling had failed to do.

        You can see these data if you search flu covid surveillance (for the weekly PHE Flu + Covid surveillance report), which will show you the increase by age band of case rates over time.

        You can also see very impressive heat maps of case rates by age band, if you look up a postcode on the gov.uk coronavirus staging website and then select “all case information” under the cases section for that area. SW1A0AA is Parliament, if you need a dummy postcode!

        NB: there is still some scientific argument that the new variant may have a shorter serial interval but not a higher R value, so it spreads quicker but not more effectively. There is also a question whether it has the different k-value, i.e. the over-distribution. Also, its R value may be higher because it is *more* prone to superspreading, so it is spreading only in congregate living conditions, like schools and care homes. Care homes are currently now 20% of UK cases and the case rate for 90 years olds is c. 2k per 100k even in areas like mine, in the bottom ten for case rates nationally…. :-( However, if this is the case, it should be just as tractable as the old variant to lockdown and its apparent 50% advantage will be 50% more susceptible to lockdown. If the k value has diminished *and* Reff is higher, that is really bad news, because it must have a much higher modal attack rate in all settings, including domestic and “covid-safe” settings.

      2. rtah100

        I wrote a long reply which will drop from the sky eventually. This one might get through first so forgive them being out of order. I just checked the case data by age band for my area. It is holding steady or declining for nearly every age except 0-4 and 90+. 90+ was to be expected, the virus is back int he care home. However, 0-4 is intriguing: the new lockdown has closed schools but left nurseries open. With the predictable result that 5-9 and 10-15 and 15-20 are declining and 0-4 is rising quite fast. :-(

        Again, this did not occur in September-October, before the new variant took off….

    2. marieann

      Our schools were closed by the MOH a week before Christmas. A week after that Doug Ford put us in another lockdown…we had many,many outbreaks in the schools since September and our new case numbers had been going through the roof.
      All I heard in the community was praise for our MOH.

  12. fresno dan

    https://hotair.com/archives/ed-morrissey/2021/01/18/maher-dont-confuse-5000-rioters-74-million-voters/
    Words of wisdom from Bill Maher, who certainly doesn’t express any sympathy for or with Donald Trump within them. It’s a couple of days old, but the wrap-up of his Real Time episode on Friday addresses some important points, especially in the near future. How do 81 million Biden voters get along with 74 million Trump voters, and vice versa? Maher argues that attempting to paint all Trump voters as insurrectionists is about the worst possible strategy for the media and in politics, and he’s correct.
    =================================================
    the worst possible strategy for the media Wrong, Wrong, WRONG. The thing about 24/7 media, in a capitalist system, is that you gotta fill that time. And stories about water testing (cough, cough, coughs lung out) in Flint MI are BORING. And the idea that the media now a days is some objective 4th branch of government is laughable. AND Iraq reporting…

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Quoting Maher:

      “Maybe, since all politics is local, all she [Ashli Babbitt] knew was she lives in a state that cares more about her toxic whiteness than her toxic brokeness,” Maher added. “And that the state that is run entirely by Democrats. Yeah. They didn’t stop anyone from charging her 169% interest on a loan either.”

      “It shouldn’t be that surprising that America is full of fed-up unhappy people who just want to break shit,” Maher continued. “Trump sure didn’t drain any swamps but when it comes to graft and corruption and everybody wetting his beak, California, yeah, that’s a swamp too. We can’t put up a housing unit for the homeless for less than $500,000 or build a rail line connecting the state for less than $200 million a mile.”

      Wolf in wolf’s clothing or wolf in sheep’s clothing? By now it should be evident that democrats can do things to people that republicans could never get away with.

      See The American Prospect link: Prop 22 Is Here, and It’s Already Worse Than Expected

      1. Yves Smith

        Maher has his fact wrong. The interest was not 169%. To retire the loan, she paid 169% of the principal.

        3+ years at 19.9% plus a few late fees gets you there. Or 23.9%.

        This wasn’t a business loan in the way most people think of them. It was likely borrowing on a business credit card (which for a small business person is personally guaranteed and based on your personal credit) at a default/penalty rate. Small business people can’t borrow against their business. It’s either against real estate owned by the business or a de facto personal loan (the only “business” part is that the interest payments are a business deduction).

    2. Chromex

      Well I keep hearing that all Trump voters are Q fanatics and watch OAN and are ready to shoot Biden and Pence on sight. I was a Bernie supporter BTW and reluctantly voted for Joe. I talked to many who voted for Trump, though. Did not find one voter I spoke to who was a Q supporter or who I would describe as Fringe right wing. Many were moderate republicans who disliked Trump . What they said was that, on issues that mattered to them, such as abortion, the economy etc etc, they were hoping that republicans would be more sane, even with a President whose demeanor and judgment they disliked. However, I had to agree with them when they said how extraordinarily weak a candidate Biden was. With the exception of Bloomberg, he was the weakest candidate up there during the dem primaries. One could reasonably conclude on available video evidence that e was/is too old for the job, he was center right, he campaigned on how horrible Trump was ( a good strategy considering how Trump became more unhinged as the campaign progressed , but not one to inspire confidence) he lied about himself and his record almost as much as Trump, he showed signs of mental confusion. The Biden admin that is manifesting has made some missteps but has actually done a little better than I thought. But let us not forget that but for the night of the long knives and the conservatism of the NC house dems, BIden’s 2020 campaign would have failed like his other 2. And his primary campaign up until then was a disastrous show of incompetence. Swing voters did not forget, and, while there is certainly a divide in the US today, a large number of those who voted for Trump were not members of his deranged cult. I would not at this point characterize the split as 81/74 and am taking a wait -see attitude as to what happens next.

      1. flora

        My guess is a large number of T voters were Dem/GOP/Independants who were, um, “sending a signal” to both the neoliberal dominated parties. Watching what has happened to jobs, to local stores, to medium and small towns in the past 30 years, it’s not hard to understand why many voters would vote for T as a protest vote instead of voting for more-of-the-same neoliberalism in both parties.

      2. fresno dan

        Chromex
        January 18, 2021 at 11:12 am

        I have said this a million times – it’s not the brown sugar water you drink – Pepsi and Coke are essentially identical – its whose commercials you identify with.

      3. Culp Creek Curmudgeon

        I was a Census Enumerator and traveled all over rural Southern Oregon. I saw a lot of Trump signs and talked to a fair number of people who had them. After getting the Census info, I often talked to many people for quite a while. And since this was happening during August, September and October there was much conversations about politics and the state of the country. And you know what? Most of the pro-Trump folks felt he was the best of two lousy choices, kind of like most of the Biden supporters I know. The same thing goes for most of my Republican neighbors and family members. Now this isn’t a scientific sampling but it is, I believe, instructive. Of course there are Q-Anon followers, neo-nazis and white supremacists in the Trump camp, but that’s not all of the 74 million people who voted for him. We are only going to be in more trouble if we try to be so reductionist about these people that we claim that 74 million white supremacists voted for Trump.

        1. ambrit

          Yep. If there really were 74 million ‘white supremacists’ in the country, we wouldn’t need to vote for Trump. The ghost of George Wallace could win in such a polity.
          I’m curious about just when was Idpol weaponized? That would be the “Beginning of the End” as far as I can see for American Civil Society. Once we have an “other” set up and defined for ‘the masses,’ it’s ‘Game On!’

          1. Massinissa

            “The ghost of George Wallace could win in such a polity.”

            Hell, if 1/5 of Americans are White Supremacists, pretty sure Wallace would have gotten at least 20% of the vote in the ’68 election rather than 13%, seeing as how that was his entire platform and all. Or are we supposed to believe the percent of White Supremacists in the country has actually increased in the 52 years since that election?

          2. Swamp Yankee

            Trump _is_ the ghost of George Wallace. That wing of American politics is a direct antecedent of the Trump style and electoral bloc, replete with heckling the hecklers at rallies. The mixture of talk of largesse for the working man mixed with dog-whistle (or overt) racial-ethnic appeals was the essence of the George Wallace appeal. We saw this with Trump — promises of jobs and healthcare mixed with reactionary animus towards various internal Others (Mexican-Americans, Black Lives Matter, Antifa, etc.)

            That said, I don’t think 74 million of his voters are white supremacists; indeed, the term “white supremacist” and white supremacy have lost a lot of substance and explanatory purchase as they are used to describe everything and everyone. Meaning is bleeding out of the phrase.

            What unites most Trump supporters that I know is a position in the petit-bourgeoisie — small business and shop-owners, contractors, real estate types, and etc. This includes people who are not white. Not all 74 million are in this class, of course, but I do think that is the class that forms the social stratum of his base.

        2. ex-PFC Chuck

          “Most of the pro-Trump folks felt he was the best of two lousy choices, kind of like most of the Biden supporters I know.

          Exactly! Tens of millions of people held their noses and voted for Trump, and more tens of millions did likewise and voted for Biden. Then there were a few million more who couldn’t pinch tight enough to vote for either and went third party or write-in. Together they probably constitute a solid majority of all voters. Somehow we’ve got to get them talking with each other rather than at each other.

    3. Lee

      His sympathetic portrayal of Ashli Babbit as a victim of predatory lending and economic inequality, whose anger was misdirected through manipulation was right on the money. Maher makes the point that she had gotten a loan that had a 169% interest rate in blue, blue California “a state that seems to care more about her toxic whiteness than her toxic brokeness.”

      1. Louis Fyne

        And in any other circumstance, media would be spinning the Babbit death as use of excessive force. Now it’s being memory-holed.

        No weapon found. Hands were visible and not in a threatening manner. No verbal warning (that I am aware of). And two Capitol Police officers were literally arms-length behind her and could have been hit by the shooter’s friendly fire.

        1. fresno dan

          Louis Fyne
          January 18, 2021 at 11:53 am

          First, I am going to make a generalization about many pundits on MSNBC and CNN, BUT there are principled people who have appeared that believe that the police should try to deescalate situations on these networks. However, there are also a lot of pundits who appear to advocate de-escalation for my tribe and cause, but Bull Connor and snarling dogs for your tribe and cause.
          Hypocrisy seems to be the first feature of tribalism or excessive support of a particular agenda…

        2. Kurtismayfield

          They banged down that doorway that was locked.

          The officer warned her not to do it. The officer was guarding a way to get to the VP and all of the Congress critters

          She went to jump over the shattered pieces of the doorway, after bring warned not to do it After the guard saw this group tear down the doirway. The officer shot once

          If she got over it.. how many more would have flooded through?

          Compared to the videos of brown people being killed by the police, this was as close to as restrained that I can see.

      2. Yves Smith

        This is totally mis-reported. Even payday loans don’t have 169% interest.

        She took out a loan in 2017 and wound up paying in total 169% of the borrowed amount.

        If the loan was outstanding 3+ years, 19.9% interest compounded plus a couple of late fees would do that.

    4. Louis Fyne

      I read this internet comment once and I don’t know if this is an actual saying, but rings true to me:

      a large group of people is only as smart as its dumbest person.

  13. polar donkey

    Ventilating classrooms- My friend who is a teacher said students have become so conditioned to worry about school shooters that if she leaves her door open the kids will ask “why is that door open?” Even when she has door closed, it is common for kids to ask if door is locked.

    1. TsWkr

      I wonder how much of that is from home life as well? I think there’s been a big shift culturally to always having all doors locked to your house (regardless of neighborhood) and a panic if a door is found to be unlocked.

  14. Mikel

    RE: “Do Democrats realize the danger they are in?” Ryan Cooper, The Week

    The entire point of letting them in for the scare was to make the Democrats fearful of excercising any power, no matter how compromised that has always been.

    The funny thing is that there are people who think these kinds of acts of terror will not lead to a REAL lockdown of the economy…meaning people not going out. Even strikes.

    1. Pelham

      I just finished reading that piece, and Cooper makes it sound as if these were actual fascists out for blood. Is he right? I tend to doubt it (in a comment above), but I don’t know. Moreover, there’s no reporting institution I trust to give me a straight account with the kind of shoe-leather, unbiased, inclusive perspective that meets what used to be considered journalism 101. I include in this voices I normally assign a good deal of credit.

      1. Louis Fyne

        1. A summary the events of Jan 6 from a Bernie supporter. https://www.mvtimes.com/2021/01/08/not-huge-angry-mob/

        2. This Adam Curtis video from 2010 (just as Twitter was taking off) media wins, by gaining eyeballs and clicks, if people are paranoid and frigthened.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxV3_bG1EHA

        3. The Capitol Police, while a federal agency, does not report to the President/Dept. of Justice/Homeland Security. It reports to Congress via a board of directors in which 2 of the 3 members (the sergeant at arms for each chamber) are elected by the Congress themselves—the other (architect of the capitol) is appointed by the president and confirmed by the senate.

        4. Democrats could conduct a purge of all the right-wing extremists in law enforcement and the security apparatus. —- I have family in law enforcement/HHS. Cooper’s view is hyperbolic. Might as well grab McCarthy and root out the Commies too while we’re at it.

        1. Mikel

          “media wins, by gaining eyeballs and clicks, if people are paranoid and frigthened…”

          But there is also a flip side, so to speak.
          The media cover-ups of situations when caution is in order. The cover-ups to protect a corporate bottom line.
          And there is always the weighing of if you are being told the entire story or if all the things that they are not saying may be the things to worry about.
          Choosing what to cover and what not to cover is a form of editorializing.

  15. NotTimothyGeithner

    Re: the Taleb tweet

    Did we actually learn this? 300k dead, economic shocks, and mass isolation. Trump might have coasted, relatively coasted given partisanship.

    Though I suppose Trump had “dignitas” in the former of social credit. Like Bill Clinton in 1992, he didn’t have “auctoritas” as a new man in DC. His kids might have it given the white washing of Shrub and his cronies. These aren’t 1 to 1 words with the heavy influence of Christianity on the language.

    Trump’s reasoning might be off, but he has his own nutty version of prudential.

  16. Wukchumni

    I’m about to receive a pardon from the President after 4 years, and in retrospect it was even a crazier time in the big house than the first moments when he couldn’t even be honest about the crowd size, for starters.

    Initially his administration was riddled with those that might have a conscience, but in the end he was able to assemble a team of toadies in total lockstep, his clowning glory.

    I had no idea what a Proud Boy, 3%’er or Oath Keeper was, Nazi types being more akin to the ones in Blues Brothers, and then they were coddled by the commander in chief, ye gads.

    He dared not mention names of the latest black person killed by the coppers, but was quick to defend a juvenile murderer.

    I could go on and on, but lets don’t go there.

    Anyhow, i’m being released on my own cognizance in a few days, wish me luck.

  17. The Rev Kev

    “Massachusetts teen turns in her own family as Capitol rioters”

    I wonder if she would have done that if she was not on social media and getting applause for it? Gunna make for an awkward Thanksgiving this year. This is like that other story – ‘Women Use Dating Apps To Get Capitol Rioters To Confess And Turn Them In.’ Yves has already pointed out that law enforcement do not need all this help. They could simply match up faces with driver’s licenses and the like.

    But what this does do is make it socially acceptable to dob in your friends, your family, your neighbours or any other person that belongs to ‘the other.’ I saw an image of a bus stop somewhere in the US and on the side was about 8-10 fotos of guys that the authorities were trying to identify to arrest from the riots. It looked so sinister that. One of them was even a black dude so I wonder how many ‘minorities’ were among the rioters. They were not all glasses of milk.

    The East German Stasi thought that they were on a good thing when about 1 in every 6.5 citizens were Stasi informers. But then again, they didn’t have social media going for them nor computers and mobiles. No, that is not a joke. After Cold War 1 came to a close, an American agent asked a Russian agent why they had so many people as compared to themselves for internal spying. The Russian agent told him that it was because not many Russians had home computers.

    1. Rosscarrock

      I would acknowledge your point of view but I would also disagree. To me, this is more like Jane Jacob’s model of a healthy neighborhood having eyes on the street.

    2. Wyoming

      Not at all sure that is a good reading of the situation and there are a lot of assumptions in it. Checking google one comes up with a simpler explanation.

      The rest of the story explains a lot of why she reported them. I read an interview where she stated she has been ostracized by her family and tossed out of the house due to her sexual preferences not being in line with those of her conservative family and also attending BLM protests. And she is angry with them as one might expect.

      So it is basically revenge served a little warm I guess. But good for her is all I can say…one has a right to fight back. And one could be pretty sure that Thanksgiving left the station some time ago.

      1. ambrit

        Beware any system that relies on informers for it’s primary functioning. It will inevitably descend into chaos and murder.

        1. bassmule

          The women who are using a dating site to lure men who were at the Capitol riot into confessing are being scolded for providing too much information, that this should be left to the FBI. So I don’t see how this is a system that relies on informers for it’s primary functioning. As far as the system itself, I see people who tell the police that family or friends participated in the riot being branded as STASI. That seems totally out of proportion.
          https://god.dailydot.com/dating-apps-capitol-rioters/

    3. Mummichog

      Heard an interview on Big Corporate Radio with a socio expert recommending that in the present “misinformation, science denial” atmosphere that children should monitor their parents’ consumption of internet media! Wow! I had to turn it off it was too sickening.

      Of course, children consuming corporate advertising, marketing, anti-social media is OK as long as its the Party Line and the brainwashing is of the correct pedigree.

      As far as the Stasi, the movie The Lives Of Others says it all. Maybe do a remake in Sandusky or Peoria.

      1. Wukchumni

        I have never gotten near social media and maybe 4 or 5 months ago I had a little extra trash and behind the market are a couple of dumpsters and they had little in them, with trash pick up in a day, so bombs away. Yes, i’m aware that I was using somebody else’s resource, but it isn’t something I do very often.

        Fast forward a day, and a friend who is on Facebook tells me there’s a video of me taken from about 150 feet away doing the deed, and the denizen of social media whomever it was, wanted to shame me, on account of virtual being it’s own reward.

        The person wielding the movie camera in their smartphone had no idea who I was, nor did it matter to them what I did. Here was a chance to rat somebody out!

        I felt the cold breeze of Stasi breathing down my neck, a little.

          1. JBird4049

            Icky. If someone was stealing from little old ladies, selling crack to kids, or was a murderer, turn him in. But other than that, I was never encouraged to be a snitch. It would have signaled a lack of virtue. You do not narc on your family or friends.

            We’re truly a f—- up society if emulating what Hitler, Stalin, and Mao wanted (to spy on your family and friends for the state) are all encouraged. Having friends and family being encouraged to turn in their family and friends for essentially bad thoughts or having a forbidden radio was a thing. Even children turning in their own parents. As a kid I read books and saw documentaries that mention this to showed how evil those regimes were.

            So now it’s our turn to be the archetypical evil, authoritarian or totalitarian, police state and empire. Just great.

            I just wonder what my grandparents, great-grandparents and other relatives of those generations would say if they could talk about this now. They only fought a world war to stop stuff like this and saw and some endured horrible, horrible things.

  18. Mikel

    RE: “Pain, despair and poverty reach fever pitch for unemployed workers” CNBC

    How about using the term “unemployed people”?
    Humanity has to be recognized outside of employment status if there are to be policies that improve lives.

  19. William Hunter Duncan

    I have a question about the $600 I got from gov, not necessarily related to these links – I just don’t know who to ask.

    The original $1200 I recieved as a paper check. My fiance received a check the first time, and it was automatically deposited in her checking account this time. This round, I recieved an EIP card.

    This piece of plastic is not convenient. I assume it is in part an attempt by the Treasury to accertain my checking account info, as I am self-employed and have had no reason to give it to them for years. It also seems like a way to generate profits for Metabank, reducing my stimulus, if I use it as a debit card. It also seems like I could pull out more money than $600, and thereby take on debt.

    Any thoughts or links?

    1. cocomaan

      I had the opposite experience. I almost threw out my Metabank card for the first round of stimulus, after having it delayed and not understanding why. The meta bank card looked like spam mail.

      The second more recent round came as a paper check in the mail.

      1. Cuibono

        THIS!
        I did too. Imagine how many people did throw it away. The envelope and the card looked so FAKE. This cant be accidental

    2. Mark Gisleson

      Check came in the mail Saturday, both checks came by mail despite my Social Security being directly deposited into a bank account.

      I live in a very rural, Republican area. I’d be curious as to whether or not there’s some kind of zip code algorithm at work here.

      1. BobW

        My SS is direct deposit also, got first check direct deposit, no second check. Did not file tax return because below income limit, and now IRS Get My Payment site says I need to file return and get it as a tax refund. That puts it off until February at earliest.

    3. curlydan

      normally the $600 distribution should be based on the latest account info the IRS has for you. So if you direct deposited a federal refund last year into your bank account, it should have gone directly and electronically to that account.

      If you asked for a paper check (which the IRS hates BTW), then you might have gotten a check or a MetaBank debit card. I don’t quite understand why some people get a check and some get a debit card.

      If you had a balance due, then the IRS might not know where to send the money and result in a check or debit card to your address.

      If you got your refund by purchasing a “refund transfer product” where your preparer deducts their fees from your refund for normally about $40, then it really gets weird because the IRS sent most of those refunds to the wrong accounts.

    4. Maritimer

      “I assume it is in part an attempt by the Treasury to accertain my checking account info, as I am self-employed and have had no reason to give it to them for years.”

      I find that more and more these corps and institutions try to get more and more info out of a person any way that they can. This extends to all entities. These institutions certainly seem to be flexing their muscles more since Covid.They are slowly turning the screws on the population.

      Banks for instance. Early on, there were lineups at the Bank with a Gatekeeper who would ask you why you were at the Bank. No privacy concerns at all with other customers listening.

      The other day I had to go to the Bank to do a transaction I could not do online. A simple transfer of cash from one account to the other. The teller actually asked me where the money in my account had come from! Incredible. And if you ask for a few thousand in cash, they act like you are from Miami or Medellin. Soon, you may have to beg to get your money and groceries. As it is, you now must line up and act like a dog.

      I suspect we will see an article about this soon, how Corporations are taking advantage of Covid to redesign their operations and reset their so-called clients. (The Great Reset, Klaus Schwab)

      Anyway, good on you for trying to protect your privacy.

    5. Wukchumni

      We got $1200 checks in June, and $600 Visa debit cards last week.

      I went on a buying binge with my newfound wealth on the weekend, and made a point of asking the cashiers if anybody else had been using their Big Gov plastic largess, and all 3 told me I was the first one they’d seen, which kind of shocked me.

    6. Larry Y

      My wife and I got the card the first time. Second time was a check. We always end up owning some money to the Feds, and live in suburban NYC.

      I was able to link my checking account to the card, and just did a bank transfer. No fees or anything.

  20. ObjectiveFunction

    Here in Singapore, I can access the full Xiaomi product line, including the “Mi” retail store downtown.

    And while Xiaomi products are exact copies of foreign luxury goods (Dyson, Apple, Siemens, Roomba, etc.), my family’s purchases have all proved to be of very high quality. And the price difference (typically 1/3 that of the copied brands, even less if you buy them aftermarket with no warranty, Chinese plugs etc.) makes them very hard to ignore.

    While there’s still a flood of shoddy crap coming out of China Inc. (cheap plastic screwing into cheap metal where it isn’t just glued in), that doesn’t mean the Middle Kingdom isn’t perfectly able to produce top quality goods when it sees a profit in doing so.

  21. flora

    Thomas Frank was interviewed on the Krystall Kyle podcast and named Lasch’s 1994 book The Revolt of the Elites as one that influenced him.
    Matt Taibbi reviewed Lasch’s 1979 book The Culture of Narcissism and mentioned The Revolt of the Elites. Here’s a bit from Taibbi:

    Meanwhile, the [Jerry] Rubins of the world who left the joking behind to become earnest apostles of modern progressive life grew up to be the people at the center of another trend described in a Lasch book from 1994, The Revolt of the Elites: And the Betrayal of Democracy. That book — which was significantly about the ex-concerned who became self-indulgent, stateless elitists in the End of History age — ripped the Clinton-era professional class as having “retained many of the vices of aristocracy without its virtues.” By previewing the disgusted reaction to such people, it predicted a lot of the themes of Trumpian “drain the swamp” rhetoric.

    …[Lasch] was concerned with the growing economic distance between the wealthiest citizens and everyone else, and argued that globalization made the managerial class increasingly like tourists in their own countries. The decision of that key stratum of educated, upper-class, largely urban members of society to distance itself from responsibility to participate in the upkeep of society as a whole, while becoming expert at self-care, made it unable to see widespread problems of income inequality, collapsing cities, etc.

    https://taibbi.substack.com/p/how-much-did-the-culture-of-narcissism

    This is Lasch’s essay adapted from his book The Revolt of the Elites. Harpers Magazine, Nov. 1994.

    http://archive.harpers.org/1994/11/pdf/HarpersMagazine-1994-11-0001862.pdf

    1. fresno dan

      flora
      January 18, 2021 at 10:39 am

      …[Lasch] was concerned with the growing economic distance between the wealthiest citizens and everyone else, and argued that globalization made the managerial class increasingly like tourists in their own countries. The decision of that key stratum of educated, upper-class, largely urban members of society to distance itself from responsibility to participate in the upkeep of society as a whole, while becoming expert at self-care, made it unable to see widespread problems of income inequality, collapsing cities, etc.

      https://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2012/03/04/the-story-of-henry-fords-5-a-day-wages-its-not-what-you-think/?sh=22847101766d

      While that’s talking about the living wage argument it applies here as well. The point is not so as to be paying a “decent wage” or anything of that sort: it is to be paying a higher wage than other employers. That gets your workforce thinking they’ve got a good deal (for the clear reason that they have got a good deal) and if the workers think they’ve got a good deal then they’re more likely to turn up on time, sober, and work diligently.
      ==============================================
      I think the connection between your links and the Ford link is “paying a higher wage than other employers.” Ford didn’t pay high wages for the day because he was a nice guy, or even because he wanted his employees to buy his product – he did it because he had to.
      Once labor could be arbitraged, either by exporting it, or illegal immigration (so that workers had no legal rights and could be deported), it was a short hike to eviscerating union power, and therefore wages. And here we are, with ever increasing inequality.
      And of course, the long time coming connections with meritocracy, class war as unAmerican, race as a distraction to economic problems, and the current thinly disguised contempt for non college educated Trump supporters as racist as diversions from EVER mentioning that rich people cause a good many problems.

    2. fwe'theewell

      Thank you for this, flora. I’ve been reading about Lasch this morning, embezzling time from my job. This struck me:
      “Narcissism signifies a loss of selfhood, not self-assertion. It refers to a self threatened with disintegration and by a sense of inner emptiness. To avoid confusion, what I have called the culture of narcissism might better be characterized, at least for the moment, as a culture of survivalism.” [Lambert’s phrase “predatory precarity.” Also the fake scarcity of Paygo.]

      It made me think of “God helps those who help themselves” and “why should we let you live” (permaculture asks this in the spirit of “what do you bring to the table”). Capitalism brooks no deviation; either you play the game or you “survive” as a ghost on the fringe.

      I also like what Lasch said about frugality and austerity being lifestyle choices that embody economic stagnation and therefore not-life within this system. Austerity imposed from above is indeed not-life, a death sentence for deplorables, leading to what I call Street-Poops-and-Space-Coupes.

      Looking forward to reading more Lasch.

    1. TsWkr

      I enjoyed it. A lot of similar topics to his recent interviews with Paul Jay and Taibbi&Halper, but it’s nice seeing face-to-face interviews rather than the constant flow of zoom backgrounds.

  22. Jeff W

    “Scaling the dopamine loop is bad and should be illegal.”

    Given that dopamine mediates behavior at a very basic level—it’s implicated in motivation—it’s probably unwise (if not impossible) to do that. (The statement strikes me as somewhat akin to saying something like “Let’s make ‘chemicals’ in food illegal.”)

    Probably a good chunk of human activity in the past 5000 years has been devoted to “scaling the dopamine loop,” albeit unwittingly, in one way or another, given how much time and effort people have expended trying to get other people to do things, for better or worse.

    I suppose there’s some case to be made against reinforcing some behavior (the behavioral correlate to dopamine at the neurotransmitter level) where the net benefit accrues to someone other than the individual to the individual’s detriment (as in, for example, slot machines in a casino, clicks on social media, wage labor under capitalism) but that’s somewhat narrower than “scaling the dopamine loop.”

  23. Carolinian

    Re teen ratting out parents–reminds me of a certain historical precedent where “youth” were indoctrinated to venerate the government and a certain national leader rather than their own families. When was that?–can’t quite put my finger on it….

  24. fresno dan

    https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/you-cant-just-build-your-own-twitter/
    But to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe. Here are the interconnecting layers of the internet that you’ll need to recreate yourself.
    Build Your Own Website
    Scattered across the infamy spectrum are a few attempts to Just Build Your Own Twitter. Building a website, in and of itself, is pretty easy these days, since there are open-source options that cost nothing and no-code services that can be bought. Both result in minimal technical work on your end.

    Gab was founded in 2016 as a “free-speech” alternative to Twitter: the only content that’s restricted is content that violates the law. Because the only people who really benefit from a neutral content policy are culturally radioactive right-wingers, the user base quickly spiralled into a den of far-right villainy. Consequently, it was booted from the Google Play app store in 2017, and never made it onto the iOS App Store.
    ================================================
    Ad Infinitum. I had no idea of all the interconnecting layers that building a “twitter from scratch” would entail.
    Also, I don’t know all the infrastructure and expense that goes into assuring that those videos of beheadings are removed from the internet (as well as illegal porn) – showing that it is a myth that anyone is free to post anything. AND who will really want to be associated with a website known ONLY as a sounding board for racists, nazis, and QAnon propagators?

    1. hunkerdown

      It’s just a website and a database running on machines, with due complications according to scale. Chapo.chat is based on a free/open-source software called Lemmy which imitates reddit. Twitter has its FOSS substitute in Mastodon. Diaspora is a Facebook clone. Peertube is a Youtube alternative that uses the BitTorrent protocol to distribute video. WordPress has always been amenable to self-hosting.

      I’ve only mentioned systems that support self-hosting and federation. Self-hosted services can be run on your own equipment, from a raspberry Pi to a monstrous AWS cluster you’re renting. Federated instances can communicate with one another and provide a more continuous experience, similar to the old FidoNet or Usenet syndication models. Other services and software exist that lack one of the other of these properties.

  25. simjam

    Dmitry Medvedev: America 2.0. After the election

    Seems not to be available. Please check. And,I can’t access Tass. Thanks.

      1. flora

        Disagree. The old USSR/new Russia is still fishing in muddy waters. I don’t need Medvedev (or NY or CA) instructing me about the meaning and legal construct of the Federal system of united States. ;)

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > I don’t need Medvedev (or NY or CA) instructing me about the meaning and legal construct of the Federal system of united States

          I think it’s always interesting to know what the Russian elite thinks, agree or disagree.

    1. rowlf

      The link for Dmitry Medvedev: America 2.0. After the election worked for me on Linux Chromium, and I’d like to thank the NC crew for adding it today as I felt it was a well written opinion piece that listed problems and suggested corrective actions in a neutral tone. I like reading from people who are outside of the giant meth lab called the US and insulated from the sports team media reporting mentality of only being allowed to consider one or the other team.

      I wish I could share the op-ed with family and friends, but outside of my aunt who’s husband was a Professor of Russian History, I doubt anyone would give it a fair chance. Being written by a Russian dooms it from getting a fair read by most people in the US due to years of conditioning, as most people’s minds lock up when Russia is mentioned.

  26. Winston Smith

    Essential work:
    This post resonates with me. Every young person should experience a service oriented job at some point if not for long. I was a bell hop in a hotel for a summer in Calgary (running away from the toxic atmosphere of the 1980 Quebec independence referendum) and it left me with an enduring desire to behave respectfully in my interactions with people who do these jobs.

    1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

      It resonates with me too as after getting kicked out of Art school at 16, from then till I was 23 & got married, I worked as mainly a labourer in various jobs just for party money & during that period 77 – 83 it was still easy to walk from one job to another with often a ” Start Monday ” after a very brief interview. I met plenty of diamonds in that rough, very likely all dead now. The toughest place was a long gone foundry where I discovered that I was the only one who hadn’t done time. I only had one shower, preferring to walk home as black as a coalminer.

      The staff at the Sainsbury’s store where I shop wear name tags & are mainly female. Most of them light up as I bid them a sweet farewell using their name, which is it’s own reward as it lights me up too.

  27. Bill Smith

    “Developers: These botched software rollouts are costing businesses billions”

    The problem is real but the article has some fantasy.

    Start with “Just 2% of the worldwide population knows how to develop software, and the need is estimated to grow by 24% over the next seven years.”

    In seven years, the planet will need 24% of the worldwide population to be able to develop software? The underlying article is not talking about using Excel as ‘software development’. Come on, the readers of Naked Capitalization should understand from all the posts on the site concerning size of the financial industry relative to the entire economy how unrealistic a forecast that is.

    1. RMO

      I believe they mean to say that the number of software developers is currently about 2% of the population (perhaps around 140 million people?) and that it is that amount they claim needs to grow by 24% – not that about a quarter of the global population needs to be coding by 2027.

  28. Baldanders

    On reopening schools: I work as a an aide for elementary children with autism in North Carolina. We have children in class if their parents have opted in.

    The thermometer guns are a joke. The highest reading I’ve ever got on myself is 97.1. They constantly read low.

    The idea of elementary kids following covid restrictions is a joke. They don’t. Many teachers required to be in-school are older and have other risk factors for higher mortality rates from covid.

    Basing notions of safety on a study carried out when almost all North Carolina students were out of school and a handful of students were going to sparsely attended schools is insane. A substantial “everyone back to school ” situation is going to involve much higher population density in the schools.

    Oh, and schools aren’t built with the idea of outside ventilation. Particularly in winter. Good luck on keeping students focused on learning a thing as icey drafts rip though the classroom.

    Public schools have been all about cooking data for the purpose of glad handing for decades. IME, we are continuing on that path now. My district is trumpeting the message “everything is going great with the kids we have now!” Which is a straight up lie.

    WSJ is saying many European countries are doing an about face on this one. I wonder how many dead teachers we need to have the same revelation?

  29. semiconscious

    re: Pain, despair and poverty reach fever pitch for unemployed workers CNBC

    Nine months ago, the coronavirus pandemic upended the economy, swiftly pushing millions into joblessness.

    it was not ‘the coronavirus pandemic’ that upended the economy. it was the governmental responses / lockdowns. there was no similar upending of the economy during either the asian flu or the hong kong flu, each of which killed between one and four million world-wide (at a point in time that the population was half the size of what it is now)…

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > it was the governmental responses / lockdowns

      More precisely, in the US it was the lockdowns without paying people to stay home, since otherwise they must work to subsist.

      1. semiconscious

        & so we agree that it wasn’t ‘the coronavirus pandemic’ itself (as misstated in this article)?…

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Only somebody who thinks that pandemics operate outside the context of world systems would think that. If the corner you’re trying to put me in is “Corona is just a flu,” I’d advise against it.

          1. semiconscious

            my sole point in making my original comment: attributing the upending of the economy to ‘the coronavirus pandemic’ itself, rather than to the governmental responses to the coronavirus pandemic (on which point we agree), is a clever bit of misdirection/deception. it wasn’t the pandemic that destroyed livelihoods (or closed schools or cancelled scheduled medical appointments, etc). it was the way in which our leadership responded to the pandemic that did these things…

            1. Aumua

              What you’re saying is only true if you assume that COVID-19 is not that big a deal in reality. I personally believe the opposite is true: that if we had ignored the virus and took no measures to curb its spread initially, then the resulting massive surge in deaths would have caused a panic that would have shut down everything just as badly or even worse. If people don’t feel safe, then they (many of them) aren’t going to be living in business as usual mode. So really it is the pandemic that is causing the economic disruption, and not the governments of the world per se.

              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                > What you’re saying is only true if you assume that COVID-19 is not that big a deal in reality.

                Exactly. People actually got ill, and many died.

                It’s absurd to think that government response is the only issue (which also goes straight to “let ‘er rip” herd immunity, the comforting myth that will not die).

        2. Yves Smith

          No, this is false. There’s extensive evidence that people were restricting their activities and spending starting (depending on the location) ten days to two weeks before lockdowns.

          New York City is a ghost town not because there’s a lockdown but because workers are afraid to commute in and ride on elevators, and most top execs agree and are letting workers who can work from home do so. That pattern is replicated to a less extreme degree all over the US, wreaking havoc on business-district enterprises.

          It’s very likely many if not most essential workers would stay home if they could afford to. That has nothing to do with lockdowns and everything to do with assessment of risks.

          And how about the collapse in business travel? The convention business? Are you seriously going to try to pretend lockdowns are the reason they are dead dead dead?

          Ideologically driven falsehoods are not on here.

  30. antidlc

    Since we don’t know yet if the covid vaccines prevent a vaccinated person from spreading the virus, are there any public education efforts underway to tell vaccinated people to keep wearing masks?

    Mass vaccination centers are being set up, such as the one at Disneyland. Are these people being told anything when they are vaccinated at these sites (or pharmacies, or doctor offices, etc.)?

    https://khn.org/news/article/5-reasons-to-wear-a-mask-even-after-youre-vaccinated/
    5 Reasons to Wear a Mask Even After You’re Vaccinated

    What is the point of mass vaccination if we are not educating people about the necessity to continue wearing masks after vaccination? What are we really doing here?

    Am I missing something?

  31. Carolinian

    Parler is back, or at least the site is.

    https://parler.com/

    Meanwhile new versions of Facebook are being explored.

    https://www.zdnet.com/article/three-or-four-guys-have-colonized-the-internet-and-its-wrong-says-revolution-populi/

    Personally I’d say the actions of Big Tech in the last couple of years and not just the last couple of weeks are outrageous and also self destructive. Facebook and Twitter stocks are down as they eject large segments of their users. Do we really need these spybotting megalomaniacs? At least Amazon does provide a–for some–necessary service. Facebook is just a fad.

    As for Twitter, perhaps if they had deleted Trump a lot sooner he would be looking at four more years.

    1. Louis Fyne

      lol, yes. that is a great irony. Had Twitter-Facebook cancelled Trump, they would have saved Trump from himself!

    2. JWP

      https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2019/07/facebook-mark-zuckerbergs-fake-accounts-ponzi-scheme.html

      Plus the outright defrauding of advertisers. I think the ponzi scheme actions of facebook will be more publicly uncovered as brands find it toxic to advertise there with the stigma and decreased usage. People can live without these apps and will realize this rather quickly and so will the advertisers who allow them to exist.

      For amazon, the company should be treated apart from the tech companies for the service reason you mentioned. In that it’s now functioning as both a vertical and horizontal monopoly (shipping vertical and video, ecommerce, music, aws, etc horizontal). However, the online/plugged in world monopolization makes Bezos and Amazon a similar example to facebook in theory.

  32. bob

    https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/18/opinion/biden-covid-19-plan.html

    ““This will be one of the most challenging operational efforts ever undertaken by our country,” Biden said on Friday. “You have my word that we will manage the hell out of this operation.”

    The person in charge of managing the hell out of the operation is Jeff Zients, who served as chief performance officer under President Barack Obama and led the rescue of HealthCare.gov.”

    He rescued heathcare.gov by shooting the hostages and declaring victory with the best managed PR campaign ever.

    1. cocomaan

      In a Saturday briefing with journalists, Zients broke the plan down into four buckets. Loosen the restrictions on who can get vaccinated (and when). Set up many more sites where vaccinations can take place. Mobilize more medical personnel to deliver the vaccinations. And use the might of the federal government to increase the vaccine supply by manufacturing whatever is needed, whenever it is needed, to accelerate the effort. “We’re going to throw the full resources and weight of the federal government behind this emergency,” Zients promised.

      Oh great. Makes me feel much better. Because the federal government also threw its full weight and resources into the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and those places are still hell on earth.

      Please, please, stop helping.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > He rescued heathcare.gov by shooting the hostages and declaring victory with the best managed PR campaign ever.

      That’s not fair. healthcare.gov was in fact rescued by non-HHS contractor techies, who came in and fixed it. I would give credit to them; giving credit to Zeints, the manager, seems like stolen valor, to me.

      Also, “manage the hell out of this operation” speaks to process, not results. That’s unfortunate, and reminds me of the classic “fighting for” trope (always fighting, never winning). I hate to be so cynical, and we should all pray for Biden’s success, but their record does not inspire confidence (or to be more precise, Obama was great at “inspiring confidence” because that’s what a confidence man does).

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the school opening conversation

      I’m not sure that country data is fungible. The virus, being airborne, is capricious with respect to ventilation. I would want to know if German schools have windows, HVAC, and air circulation before claims were made that their data applies to America. I would also want to know about class sizes, room sizes, etc. And that’s before we get to social determinants of health. (This is why I like epidemiological studies with air patterns and seating charts. Those seem fungible to me.)

  33. Susan the other

    About “Human Capital” and eugenics. Funny how if anything can be misconceived it will be. I think it’s all part of a quick-fix mindset. Be careful what you wish for. Nature has a way of paying for everything – so a super “productive” worker would lack all instincts and abilities to the contrary. We can see a shadow of that by our comparatively low level manufacturing of consent and cooperation to promote hyper capitalist societies. Somehow eugenics isn’t in the same category as adaptability. And adaptability is all important – until we come to the end of the line of specialization. Makes me wonder if the adaptability of a species is limited by a certain number of actual genetic changes. Or just sudden environmental changes.

  34. Pat

    I may have been too personal in a response. Mea culpa.

    I am, however, going to say that mortality in children should not be the only consideration when opening the schools. Nor should the danger to teachers, not that that isn’t important.

    We know that schools do not have the monies to overhaul every school’s ventilation system and that without that they will be infection centers. We also know that contrary to original ideas, children do get Covid and Covid variants. We are also seeing that even mild and asymptomatic infections can do long lasting damage to the system, especially the lungs. Do we really want to set up a whole generation of people to have the lungs of decades long smokers starting in their preteens? Shouldn’t even the possibility of this give us pause? Without clear knowledge that mild cases in children do NOT have the same detrimental long term problems shouldn’t exposure be approached with caution?

    Annecdotal local report with comparitive x-rays

  35. Mikel

    RE: “Asia’s rise and the steady decline of the West”Nikkei Asian Review

    “Not only have the United States and Europe lost economic ground to Asia, in terms of volumes of trade, investment and growth…”

    The US and Europe literally moved a lot of “economic ground” to Asia. So “lost” doesn’t really cut it as a descriptor for all that has happened.
    “Have it your way” is only a Burger King slogan that corporations and their servants took too much to heart.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The US and Europe literally moved a lot of “economic ground” to Asia. So “lost” doesn’t really cut it as a descriptor for all that has happened.

      Good point. That said, China sure took the ball we handed them and ran with it.

  36. chuck roast

    Apparently there is not much interest in Studebaker here, but I find his posts thought-provoking. Then I got to think about the Federalist Society and the George Mason U. acolytes. These types have surely fallen off the “liberal” spectrum, but they come in for very little criticism in the liberal firmament. They are mentioned only when some important judgeship or policy position falls to one of their membership. The liberals are OK with this because they have their cozy little virtue signaling spots veiling the iron fist…“And the same people will be in power at the end as were in power at the beginning….” That’s the PMC’s…no real power but cozy little spots, and no matter how many reactionaries are running things. Go after their 501Cee’s and listen to their cries of pain.

  37. Cuibono

    The Rich Are Minting Money in the Pandemic Like Never Before Bloomberg. So what’s not to like?

    Who says the USA is failing with this pandemic management? Sure seems to me we are succeeding admirably…

    “Every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets.” Deming

  38. Encephalitis Lethargica

    “Autogolpe”. The events that culminated on 6 January could commonly be described as an “autogolpe”, Spanish in origin, where an elected leader in power attempts to dissolve the democratic institutions, and consolidate power, within a given country. Whereas a coup d’état refers to when an outside group assumes power. Usually, an autogolpe occurs under the pretense of restoring order in a crisis. But like most of Trump’s impulses, he is unable to create order of any kind. Unable to compete in a realm of ideas, Trump relies on demagoguery alone, and cannot build concentric layers of power, even when Trump, himself, would sit at the center of an inner circle consensus.

    The insurrection featured at least 13 different bunds: oath-keepers, 3%-ers, proud boys, etc. None of whom are capable of consensus, preferring action, alone, for action’s sake. These groups self-perpetuate by removing an individual’s ability to compromise, supplementing any interest in common long-term goals with an elaborate mythological political taxonomy. Such organizations share a poison pill: the vanguard all distrust power. When the time comes to rally around their own in power, these groups cannot govern. Repression by way of a secret police force is the only tool available to preserve order, thereby becoming what the groups ostensibly assembled to prevent.

    1. flora

      …“autogolpe”, Spanish in origin, where an elected leader in power attempts to dissolve the democratic institutions, and consolidate power, within a given country.

      Forgive me, but I saw no attempt to “dissolve” democratic institutions, but only to hold to account democratic institutions charged (real or not) with various frauds.
      You will recall the Dem attempt to hold the electoral votes suspect in the 2017 count. The demands for recounts. etc. There again, there was no attempt to “dissolve” democratic institutions but only to hold democratic institutions to account.

      https://www.cnn.com/2017/01/06/politics/electoral-college-vote-objections/index.html

      If the Dems are going to mock the GOP’s “It’s OK if you’re a Republican” tactic, then they might think twice (if they’re honest) about using the “It’s OK if you’re a Democratic” tactic. My 2 cents.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I saw no attempt to “dissolve” democratic institutions, but only to hold to account democratic institutions charged (real or not) with various frauds.

        First time I’ve seen a bunch of frivolous court cases described as “an insurrection,” but that seems to be where we are.

    2. ObjectiveFunction

      Agree, EL, and I’d go further and say that the ‘insurrectionists’ who found themselves inside the ‘Holy of Holies’ were the proverbial dogs who caught the car. (Beavis & Butthead: uhhhhhhhh)

    3. cocomaan

      A guy in horns standing in the speaker’s podium in the House, because the capitol police were too dumb to put more than a dozen people in front of the Capitol, is not a putsch attempt or an autogolpe.

      You can find the video in the links today of the guys virtually just standing around aimlessly. If that’s an attempt at consolidating power, it was a supremely wimpy attempt. It was a horrible mess, to be sure, and embarrassing, but all of America is embarrassing at this point.

    4. nothing but the truth

      its a reality show gone too far. The orange man doesn’t know retreat, and his followers were just having a raucous time.

      you have no idea what a coup or insurrection is really like.

    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The insurrection featured at least 13 different bunds: oath-keepers, 3%-ers, proud boys, etc. None of whom are capable of consensus, preferring action, alone, for action’s sake.

      So, in other words, an autogolpe in every respect save its institutional structure, leadership, and ultimate effect. OK….

      Autogolpe sounds very much like one of those words that goes all over everything like kudzu because those using it sound cosmopolitan and authoritative (e.g., “kompromat”).

  39. nothing but the truth

    “The Rise of Human Capital Theory”

    this is basically a political article.

    this is the future of science, and it is chilling.

    we breed dogs to have different and predictable behaviors.

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