Links 1/4/2021

A Harvard professor says an alien visited in 2017 — and more are coming NY Post. ‘Oumuamua, checking the quarantine.

Japan developing wooden satellites to cut space junk BBC. Brilliant!

Stress test looms for financial system in 2021 FT

‘Peak hype’: why the driverless car revolution has stalled Guardian (Re Silc). NC, 2016. Re Silc comments: “On to peak electric vehicles before the batteries, as we know them, kill it.” Helpful suggestion on batteries:

Maybe we could innnovate with amusement park bumper car technology?

Analysts expect as much as $500bn of green bonds in bumper 2021 FT

The 1996 Law That Ruined the Internet Steve Waldman, The Atlantic. Section 203.

2020 Post-Game Analysis

20 striking findings from 2020 Pew Research Center

52 things I learned in 2020 Flux[x], Medium


Coronavirus vaccine has arrived, but frustrated Americans are struggling to sign up WaPo. Failed states:

Some counties and hospital systems launched reservation websites, only for them to quickly become booked or crash. Others announced appointments only through Facebook, with slots filling before some residents knew to look. And many have not revealed how the vaccine will be made available to anyone beyond health-care workers and long-term care residents and employees, the focus of the first round of vaccinations.

Um, not everybody is on Facebook. That demographic seems a little skewed.

U.S. may cut some Moderna vaccine doses in half to speed rollout, official says Reuters. When your sink is clogged, pouring more water into it won’t solve the problem.

National Trends in the US Public’s Likelihood of Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine—April 1 to December 8, 2020 JAMA. “In this nationally representative survey, self-reported likelihood of getting a COVID-19 vaccine declined from 74% in early April to 56% in early December 2020, despite the early November press releases of high vaccine efficacy for 2 vaccines in phase 3 trials, although prior to Emergency Use Authorization. Low likelihood of getting a COVID-19 vaccine among Black individuals and those with lower educational backgrounds is especially concerning because of their disproportionately higher burden from COVID-19 disease.” Obviously, we need to shame people more and harder.

Taleb on vaccination priorities:

If only our Failed State could track the superspreaders….

HCW vaccine hesitancy:

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New South Africa variant ‘incredibly worrying’ – Hancock BBC. “[Health Secretary Matt Hancock] has spoken to his South African counterpart and it is ‘even more of a problem than the UK new variant.'” More trouble.

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Airborne Transmission of COVID-19: Aerosol Dispersion, Lung Deposition, and Virus-Receptor Interactions ACS Nano. Ambitioius scope. Well worth a read if you’ve got the stamina. Key sentences: “In contrast to direct and fomite transmissions, by which SARS-CoV-2 first infects the nasal cavity, replicates itself in the upper airways, and eventually propagates into the lung periphery, SARS-CoV-2 transmission mediated by aerosols may directly infect the lung interior, thus leading to a rapid onset of the most severe third-phase alveolar infection of COVID-19.” And but: “[P]lausible, direct clinical evidence for lung infection by virus-laden aerosols is still lacking.” Sounds like not being a mouth-breather is linked to survival (assuming the direct infection theory is true). This layperson is not sure about saying lungs = aerosols, nose = fomites. Surely aerosols can be inhaled through the nose too?

Aerosols FTW:

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Fighting dry hands: Dermatologist shares the best methods KY3. I can’t speak from experience on any of this. For me, not a lot of lather, lukewarm water, air-dry, lots of typing. I use gels and alcohol very infrequently.

Home remedies for dry hands caused by frequent hand washing Times of India


China’s central bank faces tricky balance to support liquidity FT

China’s IUU Fishing is Testing Global Fishing Governance Tim Hu, ArcGIS IUU = Illegal, Unregulated, and Unreported.

Op-Ed: The Pacific Ocean’s Ecology is Under Threat Maritime Executive

The Koreas

As end to pandemic mask-wearing nears, South Koreans scramble to arrange cosmetic surgery Reuters (Re Silc).

Thailand to Get Two Million Doses of China’s Sinovac Shots Bloomberg

Vietnam heiress, once branded a COVID-19 super-spreader, now has hygiene line CNA Luxury

Why Indonesia is vaccinating its working population first, not elderly Reuters. Sinovac.

237 doctors died of COVID in 2020: IDI Antara News. Indonesia.

Wedding company fined for coronavirus breach after hundreds attend Western Sydney wedding reception ABC


Farmers’ protest: Unions issue ‘ultimatum’, say will hold tractor parade on Republic Day in Delhi if demands not met First Post. The chief guest at the Republic Day parade will be… BoJo?!

Tractors to Twitter: India’s protesting farmers battle on highway, online Reuters

2020 Latin America and the Caribbean in Review: the Pink Tide May Rise Again Counterpunch

Deepening divisions: Venezuela’s haves and have nots BBC

Venezuela’s government is planning to move to a fully digital economy Bloomberg (Re Silc).


Palestinians excluded from Israeli Covid vaccine rollout as jabs go to settlers Guardian

‘We are not prepared’: The flaws inside Public Health that hurt Canada’s readiness for COVID-19 Globe and Mail

Biden Transition

“‘I just want to find 11,780 votes’: In extraordinary hour-long call, Trump pressures Georgia secretary of state to recalculate the vote in his favor” Election Law Blog (I can’t fight my way through WaPo’s paywall to the original, oddly). Audio and transcript. Trump seems to think votes are like inventory; he sounds like a builder who wants that “missing” truckload of Breccia Pernice marble found, because everybody’s crooked, and “lost” inventory can always be “found.” And the marble doesn’t have to be that genuine, as long as the paperwork checks out.

Trump’s powers backfire Axios

The Republicans prepare for “Opposition” status (and Trump with them) Sic Semper Tyrannis

All 10 living former defense secretaries: Involving the military in election disputes would cross into dangerous territory WaPo. Good to see Dick Cheney re-entering public life!

People are using Venmo to demand $2K from Mitch McConnell after he blocked stimulus checks Courier-Journal.

US Airlines Will Recall Furloughed Workers In $15 Billion Aid Deal One Mile at a Time (edmondo).

Joe Biden has the opportunity to help the US return to sustainable wage growth by increasing Federal funding for technological innovation LSE USCentre [slaps forehead]. Innovation! Why didn’t anybody think of this?

Democrats en Deshabille

Pelosi wins Speakership for fourth time in dramatic vote The HIll. Slotkin, Spanberger (CIA Democrats), and Sherrill (Navy Russian policy officer) vote “present,” which is interesting. Bush, Bowman, AOC decline to “go after” Pelosi (hopefully for a player to be named later).

That’s quite an act! What do you call it?

The Democrats!

Health Care

In the Fight Against Poor Health, the USA Is Punching Well Below Its Weight Assuming that the goal of our health care system is in fact health care, yes.


Julian Assange verdict: A test case for press freedom Deutsche Welle

UPDATE Julian Assange: Wikileaks founder extradition to US blocked by UK judge BBC. Now to get him out of jail. The US will appeal, of course.

Sports Desk

It Took a Pandemic to See the Distorted State of College Sports Sports Illustrated (Re Silc).

Realignment and Legitimacy

Will the U.S. have another civil war? Interview with Paul Staniland Noahpinion

Grover Norquist: Fourteen Points for Reviving America The National Interest

Class Warfare

Twenty states raise minimum wage at start of new year The Hill

‘I Just Hope I’m Alive Next Year’: Five Local Essential Workers Describe Their 2020 DCist

The Comparative Impact of Cash Transfers and a Psychotherapy Program on Psychological and Economic Well-being NBER. So give the billionaires psychotherapy, then?

A Thousand Rivers Carol Black

Missing the forest Interfluidity

The Prophet of Maximum Productivity NYRB. Thorstein Veblen.

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.