Links 2/1/2021

Box seat: scientists solve the mystery of why wombats have cube-shaped poo Guardian (Re Silc)

A Quarter of Known Bee Species Haven’t Been Seen Since 1990 Wired


New Playbook for Covid-19 Protection Emerges After Year of Study, Missteps WSJ. The deck: “Mask-wearing, good air flow and frequent rapid tests are more important than surface cleaning, temperature checks and plexiglass. Scientists say America needs to double down on protection protocols as potentially more-contagious coronavirus variants take hold and vaccines are slow to roll out.” Commentary:

Safety Standards and Checklist: Restaurants The single memtion of aerosols, by “Open windows and doors to increase airflow where possible.” Nothing on HVAC; everything is fomites and the magic 6-foot circle. This when we have epidemiological case studies on transmission in restaurants by aerosol transmission over greater distances! Of course, people aren’t going to be opening windows in Massachusetts in the winter, so what Massachusetts is saying is that it’s safe to go into crowded, closed, close-conttact spaces, then take off your mask to eat and drink, for an extended period of time. It’s lunacy. Isn’t Massachusetts supposed to have high-functioning health care institutions?

Public health actions to control new SARS-CoV-2 variants (preprint) (PDF) Cell (nvl).

Hacks That Really Work Covid Straight Talk. Handy chart of airborne mitigation techniques:

I’m afraid the smaller type isn’t completely legible, but you can click the image to get to to the full-sized original.

* * *

Federal watchdog finds lack of data, resources impede COVID response Axios (original).

Trump officials actively lobbied to deny states money for vaccine rollout last fall STAT (Alllan).

Cuomo administration finally comes clean on nursing home deaths (Editorial) (bob).

Op-Ed: How L.A.’s stratospheric housing costs help fuel the pandemic Harold Meyerson, Los Angeles Times

As Virus Variants Spread, ‘No One Is Safe Until Everyone Is Safe’ NYT. Totally, which is why temporarily re-opening the means-tested and complex ObamaCare marketplace is the best way forward for the country.

* * *

Assessment of Maternal and Neonatal Cord Blood SARS-CoV-2 Antibodies and Placental Transfer Ratios JAMA. From the Conclusions: “Our findings demonstrate the potential for maternally derived antibodies to provide neonatal protection from SARS-CoV-2 infection and will help inform both neonatal management guidance and design of vaccine trials during pregnancy.”

* * *

Pfizer CEO Says Science Will Prevail With Covid-19 Here to Stay Bloomberg

The Hard Lessons of Modeling the Coronavirus Pandemic Quanta


What 31 provinces reveal about growth in China (PDF) Bank of International Settlements

Linda Thomas-Greenfield and Washington’s China-Africa Groupthink The China-Africa Project

Myanmar military seizes power, detains elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi Reuters. For those confused, this is what a “coup” looks like in the real world. This, too:

COVID-19 vs. Tet Vietnam Weekly

Will a new road between China and Pakistan lead to a military boost against India? South China Morning Post

Tokyo doubles monthly COVID-19 record with nearly 40,000 cases in January Japan Times


Modi breaks silence on months long farm protests Reuters

Farm laws: Centre extends ban on internet services at Delhi’s borders till Tuesday night The Scroll

The Postcolonial Autumn: Agrarian Capitalism and Resistance in India Spectre Journal (JP).


Israel extends coronavirus lockdown as Orthodox Jews breach regulations to attend rabbi funerals ABC Australia

OPINION: The Master’s Seminary—COVID-19 Denial, Dishonesty, and Deception The Roys Repoirt


Post-Brexit penalty reveals the power of the credit card duopoly FT

Irish freight volumes to EU ports doubled in first month of Brexit Reuters


Ursula von der Leyen feels the heat over vaccine exports hiccup FT

Irish commissioner: EU made serious ‘mistake’ in attempt to block vaccines across Irish border Politico

‘We’ve had enough’: In France, Spain and Denmark, anti-lockdown protests continue Euronews

Cladding: Labour calls for taskforce to ‘get a grip’ on crisis after ‘years of dither and delay’ Sky News

Scottish Parliament to hold vote on Unexplained Wealth Order into Donald Trump’s finances The Scotsman

New Cold War

Navalny: Thousands join fresh protests across Russia BBC

Who is Alexei Navalny? Behind the myth of the West’s favorite Russian opposition figure The Grayzone

Is There A Russia Card? Hoover Institution

Hold the French Fries, Make That Russian Fries – Potatoes and the September Russian Election Dances with Bears

Biden Transition

Biden, GOP senators to discuss slimmed-down Covid relief bill pitch NBC. “Pitch” is really the right word, because there’s no real proposal:

Anyhow, the Democrats are negotiating with themselves again:

Sanders says Democrats have the votes to pass another relief bill The Hilll

Biden to give first major foreign policy address on ‘restoring America’s place in the world’ NBC

Why you haven’t seen a sit-down Biden interview yet Politico

If Austin Is Serious about Preventing Sexual Assault, Why Is Hyten Still Vice Chief? Defense One

‘Who pours the kibble?’ And other answers about daily life for dogs in the White House WaPo. With a photo of George W. Bush cuddling “Beazie” in 2006.

Opinion: 50 things that are better already Jennfier Rubin, WaPo. “12. The White House philosophy is to underpromise and overdeliver, not the other way around.” This seems to be the line many are using . It reminds me of “He’s only been President ___ montn(s), give him a chance.” The slieight of hand here is what we haven’t actually seen anything delivered yet.

Capitol Seizure

Video Investigation: Proud Boys Were Key Instigators in Capitol Riot WSJ


Trump announces legal team for Senate impeachment trial NBC

Can a Former President Assert Executive Privilege in an Impeachment Trial? Lawfare

Democrats en deshabille

This Might Be a Good Time for Democrats in Congress to Stop Trading Stocks The New Republic (Re Silc).


How to think about the GameStop saga Ed Harrison, Credit Writedowns

GameStop Short Nightmare Shows Few Signs of Becoming a Contagion Bloomberg

GameStop is just latest sorry case of misallocated capital FT

Analysis: Robinhood and Reddit protected from lawsuits by user agreement, Congress Reuters

Our Famously Free Press

A West Virginia newspaper company is suing Google and Facebook over online ads. NYT. “There is no longer a competitive market in which newspapers can fairly compete for online advertising revenue.”

What the next generation of editors need to tell their political reporters Dan Froomkin, Press Watch

Health Care

The diabetic who ignores his debt Sick Note. This is no movie. This is real. It makes Kafka look like The Little House on the Prairie.

Imperial Collapse Watch

Crouching Beliefs, Hidden Biases: The Rise and Fall of Growth Narratives (PDF) Reda Cherif, Marc Engher, and Fuad Hasanov, IMF Working Papers. “We observe the rise and fall of the ‘Washington Consensus’—privatization and liberalization— and the rise to dominance of the ‘Washington Constellation,’ a collection of many disparate terms such as productivity, tourism, and inequality.”

Report: Corruption in U.S. at Worst Levels in Almost a Decade Foreign Policy

Drone Swarms Are Getting Too Fast For Humans To Fight, U.S. General Warns Forbes

Guillotine Watch

URMC email suggested ‘major donors’ could jump vaccine line WXXI (Allan).

Class Warfare

Housing Precarity and The Covid-19 Pandemic (PDF) NBER. From the Abstract: “We find that policies that limit evictions are found to reduce COVID-19 infections by 3.8% and reduce deaths by 11%. Moratoria on utility disconnections reduce COVID-19 infections by 4.4% and mortality rates by 7.4%. Had such policies been in place across all counties (i.e., adopted as federal policy) from early March 2020 through the end of November 2020, our estimated counterfactuals show that policies that limit evictions could have reduced COVID-19 infections by 14.2% and deaths by 40.7%. For moratoria on utility disconnections, COVID-19 infections rates could have been reduced by 8.7% and deaths by 14.8%.”

Can Chloé Valdary Sell Skeptics on DEI? Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic. “The diversity, equity, and inclusion industry is booming as corporations, government agencies, high schools, colleges, and nonprofit organizations clamor for its services.

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.


  1. Fireship

    > Biden to give first major foreign policy address on ‘restoring America’s place in the world’ NBC

    Good luck with that, Joe. The problem, us folks here in the rest of the world cannot unsee what we have seen: America looks like a drunk guy in an alleyway with his pants down around his ankles, punching himself in the face and yelling at a lamp post “I am the gweatest! hic!” It’s over. Go home, go to bed and sleep it off.

    Coming down will be hard, but hanging on to a delusion will be worse. America is simply not a serious country anymore. America needs to get into rehab and figure out what to do with the rest of its life. My bet is that it won’t. I expect more hilarious mayhem. The Three Stooges are back, and this time they have a nuclear arsenal! Shts and giggles galore!

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      It’s frightening what the nut will say. My guess is like the “Obama Doctirne” which suspiciously matched Shrub’s Doctrine Bill will say similar nut job stuff and be praised for “tone”. With the executive orders off the board, he will probably start to look for a place where he won’t have to lobby his friends.

    2. Wukchumni

      The US is merely the tip of the point of the capitalism spear, our peers are underpinned by us in a series of interlocking financial alliances, similar to just before WW1 in terms of mutual security deals, the security being the almighty buck.

      Ever look at who owns our treasuries, yeah just about every developed country, including yours perhaps?

      We keep dipping a toe into the abyss tempting fate, and one of these days thanks to markets, we’ll go all-in and push all of our chips towards the middle on a busted straight flush 9 high.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Wealthy Americans? Foreign investors are at 30% of treasuries. Japanese outfits were still ahead of China last I checked.

        There is a reason centrists and their country pop music conservative cousins gripe about the national debt. They are afraid the solution will become self evident.

      2. Fireship

        I am not sure what point you wish to make. The dollar is indispensable? You will have to be less cryptic.

        1. Wukchumni

          What fills in the void?

          All currencies are backed by nothing and its agreed that none of them are a worthy substitute.

          You kick in the $ door and the whole edifice wrecks…

          1. skippy

            All currencies are and ever been backed by laws, hence the demise of the state proceeds any issues with currencies.

            There never has been a permanent store of value in the form of an immutable token which transcends human foibles across time and space. Not to mention those that attempt to circumvent that as a A political fix to a political problem have been proven wrong time and time again – monetarists, bimetallism, money cranks et al.

            1. Wukchumni

              Sorry, that isn’t true. Coins have been recycled over and over again in the past couple thousand years, the countries change but the metal content doesn’t.

              1. Massinissa

                I’m not sure what you assert is true either. Yes, money gets recycled, but according to a lot of archaeology, many states, such as the Roman Empire, have coins that over the years contain less and less silver and more and more copper, so as to create currency more cheaply.

                Or do you mean metal currency in any form regardless of the metal inside it? I may have misunderstood the meaning of how you mean ‘metal content’

                1. Wukchumni

                  Metal content being silver & gold, of course.

                  The Romans made 95% pure silver Denarii for many hundreds of years, where do you think they all went when their empire faded, of course most of it got recycled into other coins of future countries, that is until recently, as the last country to have silver coins in circulation was Mexico about 30 years ago.

              2. skippy

                These coins represent laws and the recycling you note is not just in coin form, even then a significant amount are lost for millennia or forever.

                Never the less when legal structures that underpin its use as a dominate means of exchange come undone, for any reason, so too does the utility for its exchange in contracts. That is why Clive has banged on endlessly about the contractual aspect proceeding any ideological or deductive notion of fixes.

                Then again covid is becoming a real teaching moment for the unwashed, sadly most are having issues understanding because of deception deployed, could just end up lashing out. Paramount that they get accurate information IMO.

                1. Wukchumni

                  If anything early coinage represented who was the ruler, and a Roman emperor didn’t want that guy from 3 emperors ago’s mug on the coins circulating-he wanted his, so recycling of coins was commonplace in just one empire, let alone far-flung places where Roman coins ended up such as India & China.

                  I suspect those in the far east back then didn’t care a whit for Roman law, it was more about weights & measures.

        2. JTMcPhee

          For some, it’s all about precious metals and “hard currencies.” As if.

          After all, despite a huge amount of back and forth and sideways, seems to me there’s no agreement or unitary understanding, even here at NC, on “what is money?”

          Risk on, risk off. The GameScam thingie displays it all: greed, manipulation, misdirection, fake reporting, shallow understanding, cheering for “underdogs” who embody just what virtues, again? Where are the homeostatic drivers in all this epoch, where the “positive feedback” loops totally dominate?

          What is the shape of the political economy that the nominal and apocryphal “we” want to have?

          1. Wukchumni

            I’m quite fond of one of the most precious of metals once upon a time in a natural state, and available widely for about $10 a pound for a few hundred feet of it that has exceptional qualities & can be reused often especially when cooking something.

            Now, whether you could render a currency out of a roll of Reynolds Wrap that also could double as a toque, that’s a tall order.

          2. Massinissa

            “For some, it’s all about precious metals and “hard currencies.””

            On the other side is all the people obsessed with Cryptos. Yes, I’m aware cryptos are designed to function similarly with mining becoming more scarce overtime, but still, the lack of consensus on what ‘money’ is, even in circles trying to buy large quantities of precious metals/coins/cryptos/assorted financial assets, is almost mind boggling.

    3. rhodium

      We still have the world’s richest plutocrats, and the world’s angriest rednecks, and the hoards of cynical sons and daughters of a former middle class. We’re very serious.

    4. EMtz

      One of the best things that came about during Trump’s 4-year abdication from “world leadership” is that everyone learned they could make their own mistakes and make their own way without the US just fine. The previous 70 year leadership role was outdated anyway. Things change. There will be no brass bands celebrating US “restoration” after this and DC policymakers are just going to have to get used to it.

  2. John A

    “12. The White House philosophy is to underpromise and overdeliver, not the other way around.”

    As in promising $2000 and delivering $1400?

    1. christofay

      And the counter offer from the White House will be $600 downpayment and $800 eventually or a portion of a several hundred billion dollar bill.

    2. Wukchumni

      We prioritized by making sure transgendered people* would be allowed into the military, who really needs a $2G network anyhow?

      * how many could there be that want to enlist, a few hundred if that?

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        Since insurance won’t cover them, apparently it’s the only way they can get the surgeries they need to align with their gender. My hetero ex who has a huge heart told me he has known some trans people including a friend who committed suicide within the last couple of years and it is a miserable existence. He was very glad Biden reversed that order. (He is a cell biologist and believes there is a genetic component.)

        Huge heart:
        He called me sobbing on Friday because he discovered his late 20s nephew in Kenosha has an alternate FB page under his middle name and there are pictures of him with the OK hand signal and guns all over it.

        He tried to tell his brother but he doesn’t want to know (apolitical artist type). Apparently the mother who is Latina is very progressive and the lad has cut her off.

        It upsets my ex because he emigrated with his parents from Germany in the late 50s. His father was a mathematician who couldn’t find a post in Germany and the move was supposed to be temporary so he grew up speaking German and with a lot of nationalistic pride.

        Imagine his horror when he learned about WWII and put two and two together. His father was forced at the tender age of 18 into the army and his maternal grandfather who was a chemist who did govt research under the Third Reich.

        Fair amount of disillusion and disbelief when his father found out he wasn’t fighting for a noble cause after all, and a good bit of lingering denial.

        Very early my ex predicted Trump would win in 2016. Now he is horrified by the widespread flirtation with white supremacy, cuz of a kind of guilt by association (my take) he seems to feel about the original Aryan Nation.

        Also he has a teenage daughter with his second wife. With our son 20 years gone, I don’t have a dog in this fight, generation wise. My son was Gen X and actually some of his peers are NOT having kids. Still, selfishly I wish he was here, though if I would wish this crappy world on him is another matter. He’d be one to make a difference, though.

    1. Lex

      What good timing! We’d been wondering just that. My favorite is the red-breasted nuthatches. Tiny, streamlined, and remarkably fast. Our feeders are filled with WBU’s* No-Mess, but even that mix isn’t high enough in fat, so we add insect-laced suet for the flickers.

      *Wild Birds Unlimited

  3. zagonostra

    Funky Buddha near Ft. Lauderdale off of Dixie Highway had a pretty good crowd Friday. They won’t let you in until you put your mask on but then as soon as you sit down, you’re allowed to take it off. Only tables were open and they were spaced out, but still overall a pretty good crowd. Also the outside cafes were packed along A1A, no one is wearing masks while seated or when walking around the boardwalks, except maybe 5% of the people I saw.

    Traffic is fairly heavy and as far as I can tell by parking at Target on Oakland Park near the beach, people are out and about. It seems strange and disconnected to read how we are in a pandemic and people are wearing their own homemade bandanas that double as face masks and people in the park are carrying on as usual. Some parks have even opened up the children’s area.

    Empirical observable behavior is not reconciling with what is being said about COVID, there are just too many inconsistencies. I stopped reading the rubric under COVID months ago when people were talking about “wet markets” and discussing the origin of the virus. What I pick up via osmosis about the virus and the vaccine I can’t process. It does not compute.

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      This take is a bit alarming, speaking as one who hasn’t been to a restaurant since last March. So I wouldn’t even be able to gainsay this based on observation. Though I see en route to the grocery store that shops and restaurants are open, people go in and out.

      But always in my mind this activity is related to the continuing thousands of people who get infected and die. You don’t assume the same correlation?

      1. Wukchumni

        If you own a restaurant and are playing by the rules in terms of keeping your customers protected from the virus, you’re a goner.

        A number of owners and particularly those that swing hard right have realized the only way to survive is to kill off your customers potentially. Every 1-star review that would normally be off-putting is tantamount to a badge of honor for those you’re trying to entice into your establishment, the problem here being that there are only a few sit down restaurants, and tourists get hungry, especially when there are no services in Sequoia NP, as in no food, no lodging, no campgrounds, no nothing.

        Here’s the latest 1-star review from our offender in town, they simply don’t care, nor does Tulare County apparently.

        This is the worst restaurant i’ve ever been too. Absolutely none of the staff was wearing masks i did not see one person wipe down and sanitizer tables they just removed plates and sat other people, i was horrified and uncomfortable with the way they do not care about COVID-19, to top it off the staff was very rude the table next to me had a problem with there food and the waitress kept rolling her eyes as she walked away. I should have known this places was going to be bad as soon as i seen a “blue lives matter” flag hanging outside. Never will i go back or recommend to anyone.

      2. zagonostra

        Correlation is not causation, but even if I consider correlation I would have to compare all the variables of where they had a strict lockdown with that where there is a loose one like here in SE Florida, which is too difficult for my little brain.

        I just don’t see a mindset in the people out at the various shops, bars, and other venues that communicates any sort of dire concern for their safety is all I’m saying.

        One section of the populace is struggling to survive, the other, how to get the most out of life while they can.

        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          This site has linked to many studies and articles that walk you through the efficacy of lockdown.

          But I guess it as many have said, this virus is so bedeviling because of its (relatively) low lethality. The hosts (us) get and spread it, all the while oblivious to the long-term internal organ damage it is causing and what they and their loved ones may suffer later.

          And indeed, who is to say which is the “right” approach anyway? If this virus is so much smarter than we are it will get us in the end and then what’s the point of me living my last years in isolation? I am not saying that is my thinking, just that I am not sure I can judge others for it. Especially when so many are forced for survival into exposure without adequate PPE.

          Taleb notwithstanding.

    2. Darius

      Did you read the WSJ excerpt above? Masks, good airflow, and frequent rapid testing. If you have followed the issue with any attention, this should be no surprise. Since no one follows the good airflow recommendation, it follows that any indoor group situation is unsafe. Testing in the US is a disaster.

      There was a movement in the early 90s to legislate indoor air quality standards, a big part of which was air exchange. Then Gingrich and the Republicans took the Congress and the issue disappeared without a trace.

      I recently picked up a pizza in a place that where most of the tables were full. None of the customers wore masks although the staff did. I left as soon as they gave me the pizza. A visit to the grocery store during nonpeak hours is about the most anyone should do.

      Since our leadership is doing nothing, we have to figure it out for ourselves. Those of us who aren’t forced to work in unsafe situations.

    3. JET

      Here in Southern Palm Beach County, the bars and restaurants seem to be more crowded than they would have been pre-covid. Yesterday they were packed at 4 PM. It was a beautiful day, and they are mostly open-air so even the inside tables and barstools (which were also packed) are getting lots of fresh air, but it’s still surreal to see. It’s like Covid never existed.
      None of the “local” people in my neighborhood have any plans to sit shoulder-to-shoulder in a bar or restaurant with strangers (and we used to do plenty of that before). My guess as to what is going on is that since Florida has no rules, the “live for today” people from all over the country are coming here to take advantage of that. And then add the younger crowd going out as much as before and you get places that are busier than ever.

  4. Yves Smith

    I hate to quibble with one of Lambert’s excellent tidbits, but the chart on Covid hacks suggests increasing humidity. That’s pretty much impossible to do in a heated home in the winter, unless like a rare bit of art, you spend most of your time sitting right on top of a humidifier. Houses are too leaky for any kind of humidifier effort to have much impact unless you have a tightly-sealed house.

    1. skippy

      Sadly I think the main issue is letting ones guard down in the home at onset, depending on the local circumstances, all to human. For so many its quite difficult from a behavioral stand point because they have no past reference point and habits are habits.

      On the latter I think it is a reflection of why so many rail against policies to mitigate covid, humans invariably loath habitual changes once taken as a normalcy, they structure their lives around. Which is a wee bit strange considering habit changes over the last few decades when a human threat is the face of change, but when a natural occurring biological threat occurs its all tooth and claw in many minds, never the less the occupational threat of many activities is even higher in death or morbidity, especially to the risk taking of those that think their normalcy is in question.

      Then again I think I’m safer rolling around on a roof … eh …

    2. K.k

      Plants! Lots of plants! And now led lighting is cheap and efficient enough to have a significant indoor garden for a house or an apartment. Plants and bright indoor light have made Chicago winters exponentially more bearable for me. In addition to the bright lights themselves there is something wonderful that happens in my brain when the light bouncing off the plants hits my eyes.
      Adding plants will bring humidity up in homes especially with the old radiators used for heating but i imagine less so with the modern heating systems. I personally break out the high pressure sodium lamp and some leds for the winter. Anyone going down this route should be careful with leds that offer a spectrum heavy on blue wavelengths. There is some uncertainty as to weather high blue wavelengths can be damaging to eyes.
      There is also some research pointing to potential increase in cognitive skills by simply having plants around your home or work environment. I can use all the help i can get.

    3. Carla

      I also noticed a possible problem with the portable fan. Unless one is able to self-test daily, how would you know that you’re not an assymptomatic or pre-symptomatic case who is just pushing virus-laden aerosols outward and endangering others?

    4. nippersdad

      It makes one nostalgic for those old houses with hissing radiators and the burglar systems (drafts) that were set off by opening a door, any door, inside or out. The only time it was more humid in the house than summer (all windows open for air conditioning) was in the winter.

      I have always been disappointed that they went from coal burning fireplaces straight to a forced air system for our house. You really cannot beat a badly maintained steam radiator system, but then you really can’t afford to use one anymore, either.

      1. Harold

        We are lucky to live in a 1907 house with hot water radiator heating and lots of drafts, though we blew insulation into the cockloft ( I think it’s called) and installed insulated windows.

    5. Alex Morfesis

      About Covid hacks… negative air machines and air intake for ac equipment to not circulate but simply bring in air from outside…we know how to create fairly safe environments by using technology and techniques for removing asbestos and lead paint…it boggles the mind how that simple enough fix has not been put on the table simply since boma types are foolishly counting pennies and ignoring the macro

    6. JeffC

      Don’t give up on humidification so easily, Yves. I’m further north (colder) than your Alabama spot and keep the house near 40% pretty consistently by running two ultrasonic humidifiers flat out 24/7. Been doing it in winter for years for the asthma.

      The towel in water thing I was doing in the early 70’s as a penniless student. Use multiple hangers to have multiple folds, spaced an inch or two, hanging into the water. Then put the whole contraption in front of a heat vent. Then duplicate for every vent in the house. Hang damp towels in bathrooms/showers also. You’ll spend all your time tending this mess, but if you go all out like that, it actually makes a difference. (Hygrometer verified.)

      But don’t expect anything from one towel in one bucket in the middle of the room.

    7. Brunches with Cats

      Dunno about that, Yves. Based on the recommendation for increased humidity that I read here on NC, I bought a cheapo vaporizer at Walmart (l know, I know, but that’s pretty much it out here in the red hinterlands). Filled to max water line, it runs for 4-5 hours. It’s such a pain in the neck to refill that I use it only once a day. My apartment most definitely is not sealed. The building is 120+ years old. There’s a huge gap under the door to the outside hallway, and these old windows are all crooked and impossible to lock; in other words, a bit drafty — which I actually prefer, because otherwise it gets too hot and stuffy in here.

      Anyway, after 2-3 days of running the vaporizer, the front door swelled so that it is difficult to shut without slamming and waking up the neighbors. Also, compared to last year with no humidifier, the cat’s skin is in much better shape. Poor thing last year had skin flaking off from the electric baseboard heat. And of course the plants are happier.

      1. diptherio

        I just got my benefits card in the mail…complete with a list of fees, should I decide to actually use it.

        1. Eclair

          After much frustration, we went in person to our credit union to complain. Nicely. The rep handed us a printed sheet complete with instructions on how to get the funds transferred to our credit union account at no cost. A website and a phone number.
          There is also an app for that. Be sure to ‘activate’ your card before attempting to transfer funds. You will also need your bank’s routing # and your account #.
          Gotta love those public-private partnerships.

          1. Carla

            So great for the un-banked. As usual, they will get the privilege of paying all the fees. What an utterly crummy country we live in.

    1. ambrit

      Haven’t you heard? The “Stimulus Project” is now, officially, an infinite regression program. $1400 is 70% of $2000. Take 70% of $1400 as the next “step” in the process, which comes out to $980 USD. How far along the ‘curve’ this can be taken is really a political problem.
      My prediction is that the Democrat Administration ‘asks’ for $1000 USD cheques and ‘settles’ for 70% of that.
      I’m eagerly anticipating my next years “Christmas Bonus” of $700 USD.

    2. Massinissa

      Getting to the point where, if its this difficult to send people a few one time checks, maybe UBI would be more difficult to implement than I thought. I suppose this is just reinforcing my preference for the Job Guarantee.

  5. Bob Hertz

    The Eviction Lab is doing their best to track evictions across the USA.

    Their estimate is that 227,000 evictions have been filed since Covid started to spread.

    40% of Covid deaths would be 120,000.

    It is absurd to suggest that over one half evictions resulted in a Covid death.

    1. The Historian

      Perhaps you should have read the article first:

      I quote from the article:
      “Turning to the impacts of housing precarity policies on deaths, Figure 2 shows cumulative deaths
      per 100,000 residents with local housing precarity policies in place as adopted along with a
      counterfactual in which those policies had never been implemented. This raises the average
      cumulative death rate at the end of our sample period from 76.9 to 94.3 per 100,000 – an increase
      of 18.4%. Local eviction moratoria reduced cumulative deaths per 100,000 to 83.9, or by 11%,
      while utility disconnection moratoria only reduced it to 87.2, or by 7.4%. Note that these impacts
      incorporate both direct policy impacts on deaths, and indirect effects that come through their
      impacts on average lagged infection rates. Figure 2 also shows how deaths would have been
      affected had all local policies instead been adopted everywhere at the start of our sample period.
      These results highlight the public health potential of these policies. Cumulative deaths per 100,000
      at the end of our sample period would have fallen to 41.9 – a reduction of 55.5% relative to a world
      in which all of these policies had been turned off. Breaking these impacts down by type of policy,
      we find that adopting local eviction moratoria in all counties starting on the first day of the study”
      period would have reduced deaths to 55.9 – a reduction of 40.7%. Similarly, mass adoption of
      utility disconnection moratoria starting on the first day would have reduced deaths per 100,000 to
      80.3 – a reduction of 14.8%. ”

      I have no idea how you thought that the math the authors used equated to 40% of all Covid deaths.

    2. cocomaan

      Not that I’m unsympathetic towards anyone facing eviction, but how many evictions happen in a normal year?

      Because when I checked the census just now, there were 130m households in the USA. 227,000 evictions would be .17% of the households in the country. But I’m not sure if that’s a good measure.

      This guy critiques Eviction Lab’s methodology back in 2019, before the pandemic even graced us with headlines:

      1. jsn

        But when you evict someone in a non Covid period, theres not an obvious externally driven displacement pressure so its easier to say “they deserved it!”

        I’ll grant there are some people who do, but how many people really deserve to be dis-homed in a “normal year?”

    3. Home Stats

      I am an academic researcher who specializes in housing. In my experience the Eviction Lab data is used as a conservative estimate. Eviction Lab doesn’t have the ability to collect and verify information about every eviction filing, and their scope of research is severely limited by that fact. Many places aren’t accurately counted (in some cases at all) by their work. For example, Chicago is not being tracked by their project.

      All of this to say, the numbers don’t seem that absurd to me. Eviction Lab is a gross underestimate of eviction activity at best.

      1. CuriosityConcern

        The OP might be confusing 1 eviction = 1 person. 1 eviction = x.x people, then some portion of newly evicted individuals and families will move on with other individuals and families, thus making a more dense living situation, thus increasing the amount of individuals in a home who could become infected and also possibly increasing viral load. Allowing evictions during this pandemic is a worse gamble than shorting GME.

  6. griffen

    Can I append my own items to that listing of 50 things are better ?

    1. Unicorns and puppies
    2. Rainbows
    3. I got back my brunch schedule
    4. Life no longer is that sucky for a broad swath of Americans, of all stripes. Magical improvement.
    5. $10 ice cream for all

    Forgive me, ok a few specifics are eventually bound to shift and improve. Those meanies in Russia won’t realize how much we miss pushing them around.

    1. Samuel Conner

      Off-topic; my initial reaction to the headline was to hope that it was about “life in general” in 3rd world America, not the JB administration. On a longer time horizon — years/decades — I’ve noticed that there are fewer stones and dirt clods in the dried beans I purchase at the local grocery. At a consumer level, it “feels” like “big Ag” is doing a better job of keeping debris out of the food processing system. But this small convenience is certainly not worth the anti-resiliency and other changes that have happened in the food system for domestically produced products.

    2. The Rev Kev

      You have to remember that this was written by Jennifer Rubin. Journalists tend to live in a bubble. Rubin tends to live in a bubble within that bubble and has been accused of writing ‘political pornography.’ She wants to make the news rather than just report it. A year or so ago she said “It’s not only that Trump has to lose, but that all his enablers have to lose. We have to collectively, in essence, burn down the Republican Party. We have to level them because if there are survivors, if there are people who weather this storm, they will do it again.“ This is not the words of a journalist-

      1. JP

        She’s not a journalist. She is an opinion writer (columnist). You wouldn’t call Tucker Carlson a journalist. The news is no longer the news (if it ever was). What now passes for news is mostly spin. The failure of democracy is spin sells and we all vote for spin. It is so much easier then becoming informed.

        What’s better is Trump is out of office and it is creating a glitch in the republican machine. It is also like a small bit of ventilation opened up in the crowded shipping container we are all trapped in.

  7. Stephen V.

    Thanks Lambert for the Harrison GameStop piece!
    Quote: GameStop and other share prices were rising so much that it was creating a liquidity squeeze for the brokerages. So they limited trading in those shares.
    This casino is redistributing
    Wealth not creating value. Can’t see illegality but I’m sure some will be *found.* The author really goes onto the weeds but well worth a read.

    1. Wukchumni

      It seems commonplace to compare Wall*Street to a casino, but the latter is constantly on the lookout for cheating by punters and more importantly their own employees. If you’re a blackjack dealer giving signs to a gambler on the other side of the felt, and get caught doing so, you’re looking at jail time-an extended stay @ the all-bar motel.

  8. The Rev Kev

    “Who is Alexei Navalny? Behind the myth of the West’s favorite Russian opposition figure”

    The penny dropped for me on who this guy is like earlier. American readers may not know the name but I am sure that British readers will be familiar with Tommy Robinson. He is a far-right nationalist and a bit of a rabble-rouser though in interviews he comes off as quite intelligent. So I am imagining Tommy Robinson in the UK doing his thing but having the full backing of the US and the EU. And every time that he is arrested, there is an international outcry to have him released. But having Navalny as President of Russia would be as good idea of having Tommy Robinson as prime Minister of the UK-

    As far as all those arrests are concerned, I think that this is a message to the Biden Administration. Biden has already said that he wants to be combative with Russia so this is Russia’s way of telling Washington not to try anything internally to Russia. That they can and will deal with it.

  9. cocomaan

    Why you haven’t seen a sit-down Biden interview yet Politico

    As main protagonists go, Biden’s role has been comparatively limited — a startling contrast to the omnipresent president who preceded him. Donald Trump didn’t so much love the spotlight as he sought to totally consume it. Whether he was sending Twitter screeds at all hours or shouting answers over the ear-splitting blades of his presidential aircraft, Trump craved media attention like no American leader before him.

    The media really has no self reflection at all.

    Trump’s antics could have easily been ignored but they weren’t, because NYT and the rest had plummeting subscriptions and wanted to convince the public that there was a Russian Agent Orange Hitler in the White House that needed to be #resisted.

    The fact is that the media hasn’t called on Biden to appear. They aren’t asking, for instance, about the $1400/$2000 discrepancy and demanding on behalf of their viewers why the Democrats have folded in on themselves on that particular promise. They aren’t asking why the stock market has become a casino instead of a price discovery mechanism. They aren’t asking where price discovery went at all, in fact.

    The president appears in interviews when there’s significant questions to answer and people are riled up. Nobody is riled up because the media doesn’t care, he’s doing the right things.

    Where this might change is as ratings fall and subscriptions dry up. I thought that was a reason driving Trump obsession, but it might not be. That is, if the billionaires behind the NYT actually care about the staff in their newsrooms. I’m pretty sure they were content to let the paper die a slow death during Obama. Because insofar as it’s a media outlet, the NYT is also a mouthpiece for the powerful and a way to shape public opinion for Lambert’s Professional Managerial Class. The rich folks sitting on the Board don’t really care if it’s putting out accurate news, but instead that it’s making the right kind of news.

    1. km

      The one good thing about a Team R presidency is that it makes the media sort of do their job.

      Fawning and toadying are the order of the day when Team D is in the White House.

  10. PlutoniumKun

    Crouching Beliefs, Hidden Biases: The Rise and Fall of Growth Narratives (PDF) Reda Cherif, Marc Engher, and Fuad Hasanov, IMF Working Papers. “We observe the rise and fall of the ‘Washington Consensus’—privatization and liberalization— and the rise to dominance of the ‘Washington Constellation,’ a collection of many disparate terms such as productivity, tourism, and inequality.”

    Interesting, I love analyses like this as they reveal so much about what our supposed betters are thinking.

    I see that very belatedly they are talking about industrial policy now. One problem of course is that historically successful industrial policy initiatives take decades to work properly, in particular with countries without a history of development. There seems little appetite for this type of long term thinking anymore.

  11. Carla

    Bernie Sanders tweeted this on Jan. 30:

    “McDonald’s worker in the US: $9/hr — McDonald’s worker in Denmark: $22/hr, 6 weeks of annual vacation, a union, 1 year of paid family leave, life insurance and pension. America must join the rest of the industrialized world and ensure that our working class can live with dignity.”

    Hey, Bernie — Don’t forget:

    “All registered Danish residents are automatically enrolled in publicly financed health care, which is largely free at the point of use. Registered immigrants and asylum-seekers are also covered, while undocumented immigrants have access to acute-care services through a voluntary, privately funded initiative supported by the Danish Medical Association, the Danish Red Cross, and the Danish Refugee Council.”

    Editorial note: In my book, this is what civilization looks like!

    1. John A

      Actually, in an attempt to win back working class voters, the Danish social democrat party is now pushing a vision of zero asylum seekers via tougher rules. Perhaps a bit late for refugees from the US to apply.

      1. JBird4049

        Somehow, I don’t see the Danes creating the hellish ICE camps with their kiddie prisons, missing children, slave labor, lack of medical care, and forced sterilizations. Maybe it would be worth it for the “illegals” to slip on over to Europe.

        1. Wukchumni

          They’re sneaky those Danes, I mean how do they pay $22 an hour plus bennies @ McDonalds, and by the same token, manage to export metal tins full of butter cookies for a few bucks, something doesn’t jive.

          1. Carla

            Denmark is monetarily sovereign. They just happen to know what to do with that, vs. us stupid Americans.

  12. The Rev Kev

    “Tokyo doubles monthly COVID-19 record with nearly 40,000 cases in January”

    All the big wigs with the International Olympic movement are bullish about the Olympics going ahead but when you read about what it is like in Japan at the moment, all you can say is ‘Nah!’ The 2024 Olympics are scheduled for Paris so I think that a deal is going to be have to be made to scrap these Olympics and then give the 2024 Olympics to Tokyo while Paris gets the 2028 Olympics instead.

    Yeah, it’s gunna be expensive but not so expensive a trying to go ahead. Imagine Coronavirus running rampant in the Olympic village and destroying permanently the careers of hundreds of Olympians. Who is going to pick up the insurance tab for that little exercise? Are all those athletes going to be each in their own quarantine bubble when they get home? What variants might they spread?

    In reading up on future Olympics, I see that Los Angeles has it in 2028. That city has already had it twice before so this is a bit of a surprise. I note that this is the same year that you will be having the 2028 US Presidential elections so that should be fun. Especially if you have as Presidential contenders Kamala Harris vs Nikki Haley.

    1. Lex

      Worrisome, that. Got any stats on the number of elite athletes who have succumbed to Covid? I ask this as I pop 4000 IU of Vitamin D into my mouth like it matters. I’m no athlete by any stretch, but I’d think the immune system of a career athlete would be ass kicking enough to give most viruses the bird. Wishful thinking?

      1. Larry Y

        I’ve come across snippets of runners dealing with long COVID. Some haven’t recovered.

        I’ve also a big soccer fan. Some high profile athletes (Cristiano Ronaldo and his team mates at Juventus, including US midfielder Weston McKennie) got the virus and seem to be doing fine now. In contrast, Kai Havertz of Chelsea and Paul Pogba of Manchester United took months to recover, and I don’t think Havertz has fully recovered.

    2. John A

      Pushing Paris back 4 years wont please Jupiter Macron as he may be out before then. On the other hand, he did boast that Notre Dame would be rebuilt in time for the Olympics, so that may justabout work out.

    3. PlutoniumKun

      The Japanese government are absolutely desperate to host it, and are doing the usual Japanese thing of digging in their heels and refusing to discuss the problems. But if Covid does surge over the spring there, then its dead for this year I think. But so far the Japanese have done a very good job in stopping the virus from surging, and I think they’ll manage it. But having said that, none of my Japanese contacts believe those figures, they have been consistently using every trick in the book to minimize both positive tests and deaths.

      If I was to make a guess, I think they’ll do a compromise and maybe do a ‘token’ Olympics with a few dozen of the most high profile track and field events for the TV views and so they can claim that the Olympic Stadium wasn’t a complete waste of money. It might not be a bad thing to have an Olympics with all those obscure sports that nobody is really interested in excluded. Bad news for those athletes of course. And all those hoteliers who invested in big new extensions.

  13. Tom Stone

    I was momentarily surprised to read that the Dems don’t have a detailed stimulus bill ready to submit to Congress.
    Then I recalled how busy they are dealing with more important matters such as Iimpeachment, a desperately needed domestic terrorism bill, getting to the bottom of that whole Gamestop/Reddit thingy, and most importantly of all, Restoring America’s Soul.
    That last one is going to take some Honkin’ tax cuts for the wealthy.

    1. The Rev Kev

      So what were all those task forces doing that he appointed several months ago? Did he not assign one to deal with a needed stimulus bill?

    2. The Historian

      You have to remember that the Dems, in the spirit of ecumenism, have to consider the Reps’ offer of $1000 and means testing first to see if it better than anything they can think up. That is going to take them some time like when in 2008, they had to consider if the Heritage Foundation health plan was better than anything they could think up then.

  14. Wukchumni

    In the aftermath of the Soviet Union & bloc party having a going out of business sale, the main thing that seemed to show up was military accoutrements including incredibly cheap ammo, that I suspect helped fuel the gun craze here.

    What will be our equivalent when push>meets<shove here?

    A tale from 1991:

    I'm working for the biggest coin/bullion firm in town, and field a call from somebody I suspect to be Boris Badenov, the accent certainly fits. He wants a quote on what we'd pay on Czarist era 5, 7 1/2, 10 and 15 Ruble gold coins?

    I give him a competitive quote and a few hours later, Muttsky & Jeffov are at the door, each of them sporting a minimum of 3 gold teeth, and they have hundreds of each of the mentioned coins.

    Just a year earlier when it was illegal to own gold coins in the
    Soviet Union, these fellows would've been doing some serious gulag time, but that was then and this was now. I do the deal and write them a check for an awful lot of money, and ask them what next?

    Muttsky tells me they are going to use the money I gave them to go back to Russia and buy up diamonds.

    Things change.

    1. Stephen

      Wukchumni, i always enjoy your stories. You seem to have had an interesting career, at least judging by the snippets you drop here.

      Are you implying that, in some not-distant future, desperate or clever Americans may find opportunity liquidating our surplus treasures, acquired from certainly desperate domestic sellers, in foreign markets? We certainly have the surplus ammo in hand.

      1. Wukchumni

        I had so much fun in my business life, no day was ever the same, and it’s fun to share tidbits of what went down.

        The cupboard is pretty bare in terms of what Americans might have to sell, the ‘we buy gold’ gambit of a decade ago was similar to a Hoover vacuum in stripping the public of their wealth in that form (often for a pittance of real value) and I remember driving in Glendale, Ca. and seeing 17x storefronts, all buyers only-nothing for sale.

        The developed world for the most part is anti-gun, so our markets for hand cannons and ammo would be in the 3rd world.

    2. a fax machine

      Gun craze peaked post-WW2, back when the US government itself made firearms and had so many you could buy it by the crate. Then the AR-15 came out, which coincidentally was the first non-US gov’t produced GI firearm. It’s predecessor, the M-14, was the last. Arguably, 1963 was the peak as that was the last year you could order a firearm from Sears and have it mailed to your door without a dealer. The USSR’s collapse didn’t matter since most of the guns were already banned (per the ’83 Hughes Amendment) while the remaining stock (mostly bolt-actions and sniper rifles) took another 20 years to sell out.

      Our equivalent will probably be drugs, if it’s not already. Despite the attempted prosecutions over prescription opiate painkillers, it’s just going to be available recreationally instead. This is probably for the best since it removes the prison element, but replacing a physical prison with debt collection is no better for society. Deceptive marketing and a lack of more fulfilling activities (re: decline of the public sphere) creates a society of literal zombies that gradually collapses as they age and do not reproduce.

  15. flora

    re: Kelton tweet and Sanders relief bill.

    Neera Tanden has been named as director of OMB. The Dem estab plays defense as well as offense against the non-elites. ;)

    1. The Historian

      Tanden is perfectly positioned to be a foil against Bernie Sanders and what he wants to do as chairman of the Budget Committee, isn’t she!

    2. Pelham

      But Biden’s press secretary this morning pointedly noted that Biden has said the $1.9 trillion figure risks being too low, not too high. Of course, he also said $2,000 checks would go flying out the door and into our hands the minute he took office if Georgia elected two Dem senators.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “What the next generation of editors need to tell their political reporters”

    Here is the talk that the next boss should give to their political staffs-

    ‘Learn stenography – it’ll make your job easier. And never cross what the papers owners want you to write or you won’t be writing here for long. Remember that we don’t report news anymore. We report our opinions so that the little people will know what to think. And ‘we’ get to decide who runs for office these days as we have the education and qualifications to decide. Also, never talk about class. That is a forbidden topic. Talk about whiteness instead or some other bs distractor. And if you get a chance, push for censorship as that will only affect non main-stream publications – never us.’

    And here is an article about the state of journalism these days-

    1. John A

      The odious Luke Harding wrote a cringingly fulsome review of Bellingcat’s book that is about to be published
      “We Are @bellingcat’ on how he has reinvented reporting for our internet age: “Facts matter, accountability is possible, and people still care about the difference between truth and lies”.
      Becoming a front for CIA/MI6 propaganda/disinformation is the way forward for MSM reporters.

  17. Mikel

    RE; “Read this story and weep. This, after masks, is the biggest failure—both scientific and communication—of the pandemic in Western nations: the airborne nature of the pathogen…”

    I boil over thinking about it everytime.
    The Asian nations had experience dealing with the Sars-type outbreaks. A friend and I went to the grocery store wearing masks long before waiting for officual communictions. We saw the people in Asian countries wearing masks and doctors wanting them. Clue enough for us.

  18. Wukchumni

    Donald Trump’s son-in-law and former White house adviser Jared Kushner has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for his role in negotiating a deal between Israel, the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco.

    The 40-year-old, who is married to Trump’s eldest daughter, Ivanka, was nominated by Alan Dershowitz, who was part of Trump’s legal team during his first impeachment trial.

    The peace deal, dubbed the Abraham Accords, were the “most significant diplomatic breakthroughs in the Middle East in 25 years”, Reuters reports.

    Kushner’s deputy, Avi Berkowitz, was also nominated for the honour.

  19. a fax machine

    creepy video of the day: facial recognition at a school in china, slightly old (from June) but still relevant and worth discussing

    A similar system was mentioned here under “Alibaba launches ‘smile to pay’ facial recognition system at KFC in China”

    It makes me feel so old, I thought the thumbprint/blood scanners in Gattica (1997) was scary enough.

  20. SkepticKen

    -Can Chloé Valdary Sell Skeptics on DEI?-

    This entire new taxpayer funded parasitical ‘industry’ sounds like
    Orwellian Deiarrhea.

    It looks, feels and sounds like mandatory Ten Commandments lessons in public schools.
    Somebody else’s religion, forcing itself on others.

  21. epynonymous

    The military drones article is saying we are too slow to *control* drones, not neccessarily to fight them.

    An old argument, but surely terrifying now that it becomes practical.

  22. Carolinian

    Re Grayzone/Navalny–Populist, anti-immigrant including xenophobic rhetoric, pro-gun, pro private enterprise, finds support largely because he isn’t Putin…..gee he sounds just like Trump. Guess our elites are pushing him because its ok when they do it. Or perhaps intellectual consistency just isn’t their thing.

    1. Carolinian

      This is interesting too

      having tirelessly compared it to the US where I’ve been working in the past few years, I have to say while nothing about Russia is performatively woke, the foundations set in place by the Soviet Union remain quite firm: from the access to free, unlimited abortions to a genuinely multiethnic society. Russia is not without its racial problems, of course, but that’s also true for Europe with its Roma and migrants, the US with its Latinos and African-Americans and Australia with the Aboriginal and Torres-Strait Islander people

      Meanwhile and elsewhere in Links are stories about the horrors of private health care in NY state (in Russia it’s government run) and lack of public housing in Los Angeles. I recently watched HBO Cherbobyl which is clearly intended not so much as a blast aimed at nuclear power as kind of horror story starring the Soviet Union. But when you look at depictions of Chernobyl in the early scenes you have to admit that in some ways the citizens of this failed or failing state didn’t have it so bad. Certainly our increasing underclass in the US might say so.

  23. allan

    A billionaire GOP governor is now to the left
    of the TMTFRC (Targeted Means Tested and Fiscally Responsible Class):

    Domenico Montanaro @DomenicoNPR
    WV Republican Gov. Jim Justice on COVID relief on @CNN

    “If we throw away some money right now, so what!?” Says there are “people really, really hurting. We’ve got to move! …

    “There’s too much pain. There’s too much pain.” #COVID19
    10:24 AM · Feb 1, 2021

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I know Senators exist, but in general, I think Governor is the easiest job in America. If a Governor who wouldn’t normally be saying this is saying this, the budget forecasts must be much worse than is realized. As in $2000 checks aren’t going to be too helpful.

  24. Even keel

    Are we still complaining about the meta bank cards that were issued instead of checks? I went in to the bank to transfer the cash to my account (family of five). Because my wife’s name is on the card (we file jointly), I am told she has to be there in person. With ID. It’s a joint account at the bank in both of our names! Anyway, wife had a baby four weeks ago, so she’s not going in to the bank.

    The teller has a solution: points to the adjacent, indoor atm. I just need my pin to get cash out of that. I walk over, grab the cash, and walk back to deposit it.

    New catch: $800 daily limit at the atm. So, I’ve got three more atm/bank days ahead of me. And, even if my wife had been able to come in, it would have taken two visits: the daily limit on bank transfers is $2,500.

    No news on fees I will have to pay for this yet.

    Explanations? Incompetence? Gridding for fees at a favored vendor? No evidence on either point. Perhaps merely trying to get people to spend rather than save, as the card works easily as a payment tool(I expect, haven’t checked it).

    1. Lex

      Primordial inner skeptic rises to say,’ The purpose of the cards is to track your purchasessssssssss.’

    2. Louis Fyne

      Does the card offer a way to wire transfer the cash via a website? ACH/wire transfer should be free.

      1. ForeignNational(ist)

        ACH is free and can be done over the internet or via a phone call. However, you can only move at most $2,500 out of the card each day. If you wish to withdraw from an out-of-network ATM (whatever that means), they charge you $2. Balance inquiries at any ATM cost 25 cents … they really do find ways to aggravate and pickpocket you.

        Re. Lex’s point about purchase tracking – I would not be surprised if they do that and sell the transaction data, though I don’t know what the law says about these kinds of things.

  25. JCC

    The article, “The diabetic who ignores his debt” was painful to read. This is what killed my brother at 54 years of age and otherwise healthy as a horse. After the 2008 crash, self-employed in the housing business, he couldn’t pay his insurance and couldn’t afford insulin.

    When I arrived after the fact at his house there was one dose left in the refrigerator and about $30.00 in his checking account.

    1. Mikel

      Makes my blood boil.
      The MSN really tried to hide what a depression that time was for many. It has a lot to do with the current anger at the media.

  26. Wukchumni

    What sort of animal is on that handy chart?

    Looks like a bearguin, and why not use a human bean instead?

  27. Grant

    In regards to affordable housing, it seems that land rent and locational value is often left out of the equation. In the US, you are told to buy property and doing so can help you accumulate wealth. But, if so, you accumulate wealth by the value of land increasing, which is effectively a transfer of wealth from those looking to buy property to those that own it and is a big reason why housing is so expensive for so many. How can housing be made to be more affordable in California with Prop 13 and no land value tax? If I am not mistaken, most of the rise in housing costs can be attributed back to the rising cost of land. But, if so, it is a battle between those that own land versus those that don’t and need to rent access to land, or a conflict between those that own land now and those wanting to buy it. I work in planning and I do not see land rent and taxing land rent discussed. But, maybe I am missing something.

  28. Culp Creek Curmudgeon

    Any thoughts on Matt Stoller’s new piece on the Robinhood/GameStop mess? Here’s a key passage:

    “And this brings me to the Cantillon Effect, in which how money travels matters for distributional purposes. There are an endless number of corrupt bailouts and scams that all of us have seen over the past fifteen years, from the financial crisis to bondholders destroying Puerto Rico and Argentina, to the ‘flash crash’ of 2010, to the CARES Act bailout in the spring, which boosted the fortunes of billionaires once again. One of the key reasons for why these bailouts always seem to tilt to the powerful is because that’s how our financial plumbing is set up – the pipes from the Fed to big banks work quite well, those from the Fed to small businesses don’t.

    “There’s a tremendous amount of rage at this non-neutrality of money, the idea that speculators on Wall Street get access to credit before anyone else. The reason people are so excited about GameStop is because it’s perceived to be addressing this basic unfairness – the hedge funds have finally met their match in the form of the little guy banding together. The combination of Robinhood and Reddit are viewed to be fixing the institutional gap that lets speculators on Wall Street win.”

  29. Mikel

    Re: Gamestop nightmare /not contagion

    Marshall Front, chief investment officer at Front Barnett Associates. “The underlying fundamentals of the economy are strong…”

    Drum roll. Those are the famous last words heard each time….

  30. in brief

    I am struck by the simple/elegant equation and conclusion of the Air Hack/Airflow Bubble Test.

    “If the bubbles float in some direction, then the air in that spot is moving.”

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