Links 2/11/2021

Dear patient readers,

Apologies for the dearth of original posts. Three got delayed for different reasons. Hopefully this big ration of links will partially compensate.

Photos: Surfing with goats at the San Clemente Pier Los Angeles Times (David L)

In pictures: Egypt’s epic Zalaga camel race Middle East Eye (resilc)

Bird population falls 40% in Maine throughout the past 52 years News Center Maine

Fishermen rescued from ice on Lake Superior Associated Press (Chuck L)

Conch shell in French museum found to be 17,000-year-old wind instrument Guardian (Kevin W)

Machines Are Inventing New Math We’ve Never Seen Vice

A Nairobi Entrepreneur Is Recycling Plastic Waste into Bricks That Are More Durable Than Concrete This Colossal (David L)

Sea-level rise could threaten coastal nuclear waste facilities Yale Climate Connections

Audit raises concerns about wildfire risks at U.S. nuclear lab PBS (David L)



Fully vaccinated people can skip Covid quarantines, CDC says CNN (Kevin W). Kill me now. First, vaccines only 90% effective, and that assumes proper spacing of shots and handling. Already cases of people getting full blown Covid after 2 vaccines. And more important, as we have said repeatedly, we don’t know if these vaccines reduce transmission. They likely do to a degree, but the overwhelming majority of experts agree that a respiratory vaccine is exceedingly unlikely to achieve sterilizing immunity.

South Africa scraps AstraZeneca COVID vaccine Al Jazeera (Kevin W)

WHO expert group recommends use of AstraZeneca vaccine (Kevin W)

A lone infection may have changed the course of the pandemic Wired (David L)

Past coronavirus infections don’t seem to help with SARS-CoV-2 ars technica (resilc)

COVID maths: All the virus in the world would fit in a coke can Reuters

Why Swedish towns are banning masks Fast Company (resilc)

Dozens of people develop rare blood disorder after taking coronavirus vaccines – reports RT (Kevin W)

Covid vaccine: J&J CEO says people may get annual shots for the next several years CNBC

US will not accept World Health Organization findings out of Wuhan without independently verifying South China Morning Post (resilc). Help me.


Biden Administration Says Schools Have Reopened If They Are Open One Day a Week Wall Street Journal. Moving the goalposts is not going to impress parents who have to mind their children during what used to be the school week.

How This New Yorker Created a Vaccine Appointment Website for $50 New York Times


President Biden Meeting with Business Leaders on COVID-19 Relief C-SPAN. So they get relief. Ordinary people get “stimulus” as in they deserve help only as economic cannon fodder.

Salesforce Says Most Employees Will Only Be In Office 1 To 3 Days A Week After Pandemic Forbes (resilc)


Biden has first call with China’s Xi since taking office Financial Times

Tencent Executive Held by China Over Links to Corruption Case Wall Street Journal


Trailer shortage fears as EU drivers question the viability of serving the UK The Loadstar (guurst). Consistent with what we said a while back. If shipping disruption continued, rates would have to rise high enough for haulers to feel it was worth their while.

It is time to wonder: is the EU–UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), as drafted, actually going to be ratified? Euroblog (guurst_

Amsterdam ousts London as Europe’s top share trading hub Financial Times

Old Blighty

The return of Marine Le Pen Politico (UserFriendly)

India Will Drive Energy Demand For The Next 20 Years OilPrice


Myanmar coup: US announces sanctions on leaders BBC

New Cold War


Iranian nuclear scientist killed by one-ton automated gun in Israeli hit Reuters (UserFriendly)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

A Swiss Company Says It Found Weakness That Imperils Encryption Bloomberg (David L)

Border Agents Can Search Phones Freely Under New Circuit Court Ruling The Verge

A Barcode Scanner App With Millions of Downloads Goes Rogue Wired (resilc)

Breached water plant employees used the same TeamViewer password and no firewall ars technica

Imperial Collapse Watch

America’s Stockpiles Are Hardly Strategic Defense One (resilc)


Emotive video dominates day one of Trump impeachment trial The Hill

‘Made for TV,’ and where it got us Columbia Journalism Review

Trump is on trial for inciting an insurrection. What about the 12 people who spoke before him? Politico

Democrats draft Plan B expecting Trump impeachment acquittal McClatchy. Resilc: “So trump runs Sen. Ivanka (T, Fla).”

A majority of the people arrested for Capitol riot had a history of financial trouble MSN

Trump’s impeachment can answer a lot about the Capitol riot. But not who funded it. NBC (dk). Gah. Lambert made some back of envelope computation. It took very little dough to get the relatively small number (by historical DC demonstration standards) who traveled there transit costs and maybe a night or two of hotel/AirBnB.

Trump Transition

More than 120 former Republican officials hold Zoom meeting to discuss forming breakaway anti-Trump third party based on ‘principled conservatism’ – as ex-president’s spokesman brands them ‘losers’ Daily Mail


Sanders confronts Tanden over past ‘vicious attacks’ The Hill

John Kennedy Rips Neera Tanden’s Mean Bernie Sanders Tweets Mediate (resilc)

California Twentynine Palms: Explosives are missing from the nation’s largest Marine Corps base and an investigation is underway CNN

Mark Cuban Confirms Mavericks Won’t Play National Anthem Before Home Games Bleacher Report (resilc)

Our Famously Free Press

ADAM CURTIS: SOCIAL MEDIA IS A SCAM Idler (vlade). Important.

Biden Continues Trump’s War On The Press Caitlin Johnstone (Kevin W)

Twitter faces a political disaster in India, where it’s taking heat from both the government and protesters over the suspension of accounts Business Insider (Kevin W)

Uber’s food-delivery growth fails to offset rideshare decline Financial Times

Thieves Nationwide Are Slithering Under Cars, Swiping Catalytic Converters New York Times (David L). Surprised this is happening only now. They have platinum in them.

Elon Musk wants clean power. But Tesla’s carrying bitcoin’s dirty baggage Reuters

Bitcoin consumes ‘more electricity than Argentina’ BBC (resilc)

Nouriel Roubini: bitcoin is not a hedge against tail risk Financial Times (David L)

Class Warfare

What Collapsed the Middle Class? Of Two Minds (UserFriendly)

The Subway Was Their Refuge on Cold Nights. Now It’s Off-Limits. New York Times

Antidote du jour. This is David E’s handsome boy Theo:

All dressed up for Saturday Night. He was born in Asheville NC 9 years ago, and he’s got some bobcat in him. He was kind enough to pose before an Etruscan bowl reproduction. Flattering, I think.

And a bonus (guurst). Must be from NYC:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. The Rev Kev

    For those curious about SoHan Sun’ tweets, they translate as follows-

    ‘Moscow was quick to react to the US message. A few hours ago Russian Tu-160 strategic bombers flew over Arctic airspace, visiting Greenland and Norway, which have the largest number of US strategic bombers.

    The reason for the visit was to hit the largest NATO bases, and the video itself was released by the Russian military. The video footage shows the flight of Russian Tu-160 strategic bombers over the North Atlantic Ocean.

    Today, the North Atlantic Alliance is trying to intensify the confrontation with Russia, including in the northern regions, by not only making provocative statements, but also by deploying its fighters and bombers near the Russian borders.’

    Putting that through my own personal semantic analyzer, the Russians are saying ‘We see your border incursions and raise you a flight of Tu-160s!’

    1. John A

      After the second world war, during which Norway was occupied by German troops, the Norwegian parliament passed a law preventing foreign troops from ever being permanently stationed in Norway. However, in recent years, US military have pretty much become permanently stationed there, especially with the arrival of the F35 turkey which now has its own airbase there. These US nuclear bombers effectively mean the Norwegian constitution is totally shredded, but very few politicians are reacting. Not to mention that erstwhile left of centre Norwegian prime minister Stoltenberg is head of NATO and forever beating the Russian aggression drum. Crazy escalation by the US.

      1. farragut

        This is in addition to the US Navy’s questionable incursions into the Black Sea, under the guise of completely innocent ‘freedom of navigation’ exercises.

        The US Navy has three warships operating in the Black Sea, a region where NATO is looking to increase its naval presence.

        The USS Porter, a guided-missile destroyer, entered the waters on Thursday, joining two US ships that were already there. The USS Donald Cook, another guided-missile destroyer, and the oiler USNS Laramie transited into the Black Sea on Sunday.

        Russia noticed the US warships operating near its coast and deployed a mobile coastal defense anti-ship system in Crimea. The Russian military said it tracked the USS Donald Cook as it entered the Black Sea.

  2. zagonostra

    >What Collapsed the Middle Class? – Of Two Minds

    An excellent and succinct summary with useful graphs, especially as it relates to rising healthcare cost. The article made me think of a recent Michael Hudson piece where he indicated that the middle class isn’t going to be recovering under the current political regime anytime soon (bold added).

    New York City where I live used to be an industrial city and, the industrial buildings, the mercantile buildings have all been gentrified into high-priced real estate and the result is that Americans have to pay so much money on education, rent and medical care that if they got all of their physical needs, their food, their clothing, all the goods and services for nothing, they still couldn’t compete with foreign labor

    Housing in the United States now absorbs about 40% of the average worker’s paycheck. There’s a 15% taken off the top of paychecks for pensions, Social Security and for Medicare. Further medical insurance adds more to the paycheck, income taxes and sales taxes add about another 10%. Then you have student loans and bank debt…

    And yet in D.Cx our political “leaders” are staging a theatrical performance whose audience, at least speaking for myself, is completely disinterested in watching. So disconnected from the reality are these people that nothing will change their self-absorbed and inflated egos until their power is taken away from them. Yes, the middle class has collapsed and debt has, for the time being, masked that reality. But the seething anger among the populace is just below the surface, the tinder exist in abundance and they can’t stave off that anger with a phantom opera.

    1. jefemt

      11 million viewers on day one of Impeachment II .
      150 million viewers on Verdict day of the OJ Simpson murder trial.

      The Juice did not kill two, Trump did not incite a riot that resulted in 5 deaths and 150 injuries.

      And the fat lady has not yet sung it…

      1. zagonostra

        I’m not sure that 5 people actually died from direct violence. Somewhere I read it was only one, but when I google I only get MSM reports…I can’t find a clear list of who died and from what…also I can’t find much about Ashli Babbit, the lady who was shot by a police officer that was captured on video.

        Yeah, long after this act being performed in Congress there will be many more to come before she is ready to sing…

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          The only person who clearly died from violence was the woman who was shot when she tried to enter through a broken window.

          The policeman who died is now shrouded in mystery. The original claim that he was beaten to death by fire extinguisher has been walked back even by CNN, which said there was no evidence of blunt force trauma.

          The other three died of heart attacks and I think they were all protestors.

  3. PlutoniumKun

    Thieves Nationwide Are Slithering Under Cars, Swiping Catalytic Converters New York Times (David L). Surprised this is happening only now. They have platinum in them.

    So far as I’m aware, its Rhodium that is the main driver behind these thefts, in addition to Palladium (not platinum). Its a key component in cat converters and internal combustion engines, most comes from South Africa, but supply
    is very inelastic, so even small disruptions in supply can cause its price to rocket, as it has in the past year or so. It could become a major constraint on the IC car industry.

    Its a useful reminder that the rare earths problem is not one confined to EV’s and renewable energy.

    1. LaRuse

      Someone(s), and I am guessing the same someones, stole the catalytic converter out of my Mom’s church’s rarely used transport bus, twice, in the space of two months last Summer/Fall, right out in the open of the church parking lot. It’s a working class suburban neighborhood with lots of people with lots of hands on mechanical skills in the area.
      This has been happening.

      1. bob

        I worked at a supermarket years ago. I used to park close to the building, not in the area that the store told us to park. I thought it was too remote, people would get things stolen from their cars all of the time there.

        One day the store manager caught me and started to get on me about parking with the rest of the employees. Within a day or two, the store manager was a victim. He had a big new pickup truck that he parked in the employee lot. Someone had pulled in next to his truck, climbed under, and then stole his driveshaft. He couldn’t drive anywhere. I can only imagine- Why isn’t it moving? The cameras the store had were too far away to help in any way.

        I never heard from the manager again about parking too close to the store.

      2. CuriosityConcern

        After GFC, someone used a jig saw to steal my catalytic converter when the vehicle was parked in a commuter lot. Within a month, someone else drilled a hole in the gas tank to get the gas. Lesson learned, I stopped parking there. At the time, this was a 10 year old vehicle, that was under 10k new, I still am driving it.

        1. dave

          I think these things are a pretty good indicator of economic hardship out there.

          Siphoning gas, stealing cat. converters, stripping wiring from homes.

          I had a friend whose entire a/c unit was taken from outside his home shortly after the GFC.

    2. Arizona Slim

      My father was one of the developers of the catalytic converter.

      Dad saw it as a temporary solution until some better form of automotive power came along. I think he’d be shocked to learn that, after all these years, it is still in use.

        1. farragut

          Approx 24 years ago, I made the switch to a DVORAK keyboard layout. It took fully a year for me to regain my previous proficiency, then exceed it by a factor of 20% – 25%. Would do it again (should’ve done it earlier), as my career involved a great deal of typing.

          Continues to be a novelty and often elicits comments when anyone sees my laptop’s chaotic (to them) keyboard.

          1. jrkrideau

            Years ago I had my computer at work set for Dvorak but with a QUERTY keyboard. Freaked out anyone who borrowed it.

            I now have a Dvorak keyboard.

    3. petal

      Have been noticing articles about recent car thefts and catalytic converter thefts happening in areas that haven’t had this problem as long as I can remember(35+ years). It just wasn’t something that happened, and now there’s a rash of it.

      1. Milton

        Nextdoor is lousy with all the notices of theft. At least in our area, they seem to be mostly trucks that are the focus of the surge. My guess is that cars have too little clearance to allow someone to shimmy in there and cut away.

        1. petal

          I do not use Nextdoor. I follow local newspapers and tv stations, word of mouth, etc. It’s been sad but interesting.

          1. Milton

            When I said lousy, I meant “lots”, as in there are numerous posts in our area about said theft. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

    4. JohnnySacks

      Theft of catalytic converters has been happening for quite a while. Scrap yards require ID to compensate for cashing them in, but I assume that’s a hard one to trace. It’s a relatively small item and the advent of lithium ion battery reciprocating saws and angle grinders makes it a really easy steal. The battery angle grinder has rendered all standard locks irrelevant if you’ve got the time and ability to deal with the noise and sparks as bicycle owners are well aware of.

    5. lordkoos

      This has been happening for years… my wife had the CC stolen from her small Toyota pickup truck one evening while it was in a parking lot. Truck was high off the ground & so easy to get under there and quickly take it. Don’t know if there was a connection but it happened during the peak of the meth epidemic. Fast cash from any junkyard.

    6. Skip

      A couple of weeks ago, in front of my home, in the middle of DC, directly under a streetlight on a relatively dense block of attached and semi-attached houses, they turned my timid 2008 Prius into a monster truck, very exciting the next morning as I was rushing to get my wife to a vaccination appointment. The same night, they hit two other Prii within a block. Two weeks prior they’d hit another Prius in the neighborhood, and last week another just up my block. For me, they kindly left a big rock behind my car, which I took out my muffler on, indicating they’d jacked up the car and didn’t want it rolling down the slope. Have to hand it to the night riders, they’re pretty damn good and quick at it.

      The other night my daughter saw someone stop and case the Prius, then speed off when they saw her in the window. So perhaps now they contemplate a second helping with a brand new converter. When they stole mine, they also took the oxygen sensor and mid-pipe, so perhaps the intent was to sell the works to a user. If so, I hope the buyer’s engine light suddenly glows warmly during inspection.

      I now keep my camera handy by the door, on the off-chance they appear when I’m up and about, but so far the only wee-hours culprits are marauding deer from Rock Creek. God help us if they ever develop mechanical skills.

      1. Displaced Platitudes

        Given the number of thefts in my area, I purchased and installed a Catstrap, a nylon-wrapped, cable -filled, heat activated glue and muffler clamped anti-theft device. A neighbor trying to drive down my street at 7:30 AM was blocked by a pickup in the middle of the street adjacent to my vehicle. She honked to get them to let her through and a man popped up from under my Element, holding a small saw, smiled at her, popped into the passenger side of the truck, and the truck backed up down the street and left the area. When I went out to survey the damage, the thief had sawn through the pipe and the cat strap on the back of the CC, but been scared off before he could cut through the front strap. A bit of welding later, I was back in business.
        New approach involves a 130 decibel infrared alarm along with the Catstrap. I’ll let you know if a stunned saw-wielding man crawls hastily out from under my vehicle any time soon…

  4. nycTerrierist

    re: that heartbreaking, galling tweet by the young diabetic

    every so-called journalist puffing Biden’s ‘decency’ and ‘compassion’
    needs to answer for this, full stop

    everyone in Congress, and in the White House
    needs to be confronted with this tweet

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Remember this the next time you are subjected to pious pontification about “patriotic” mask-wearing or vaccination to keep the “vulnerable” among us “safe” and “healthy,” from the guy who told you flat out he would veto a national healthcare bill if it came across his desk.

      Or when your “representatives” in d.c., in their fine suits and designer dresses, tearfully recount how “harrowing” and “traumatizing” it was to face being “murdered” by “insurrectionists” shouting their names, carrying Trump banners and banging on their doors.

      I’ve an idea. We could put together a commission to discuss the possibility of starting a conversation about holding someone’s feet to the fire.

      1. ambrit

        How about a “Lady’s (and any others who might be so inclined) Knitting Circle,” to meet regularly next to the guillotine in the Town Square?
        (I am beginning to hear ‘quieter’ “liquidate them all” rhetoric “on the street.” That’s a good/bad sign.)

    2. The Historian

      That video was truly heartbreaking! And he isn’t the only one that is happening to! But we live in a world where “What I want is more important than what you need”. I am really beginning to think that we will go to our doom before we realize how wrong we are!

    3. Glen

      This is horrible, but I have also seen the exact same situation with our daughter’s friends. It is not uncommon.

      It has given me nightmares.

    4. Angry gus

      I knew a guy that started cutting his insulin in half because of cost.
      A welfare check found him in the kitchen. Dead. Sink, still on. Died doing dishes .
      god Less merica .

    5. drumlin woodchuckles

      How long before people in this position decide to wait till their anti-healthcare officeholders hold a town hall or constituent visit . . . . and decide to attend it with a suicide belt?

  5. PlutoniumKun

    Sanders confronts Tanden over past ‘vicious attacks’ The Hill

    John Kennedy Rips Neera Tanden’s Mean Bernie Sanders Tweets Mediate

    I don’t know if it will happen, but wouldn’t it be a delight to see Tandens face if it turns out Sanders has the swing vote in deciding if she gets her dream job?

    1. Pat

      My personal preference would be for a vote of 99 to 1 abstention rejecting her for being unfit with Sanders abstaining as he couldn’t fairly vote due to personal reasons.

      Won’t happen, but it would be nice for the Senate to recognize that not only is she unqualified for the office but her rabid partisanship means she is emotionally unable to give even a token fair assessment of situations.

    2. pjay

      We all have our fantasies. Here’s the reality:

      “Once Sanders dispensed with the tough talk at the hearing’s opening, he moved to show unity between progressives and the Biden administration, asking Tanden if she supporters a litany of progressive goals such as raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, lowering the Medicare eligibility age to 60, making public college tuition free for low-income earners, providing free universal pre-K and mandating 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave.

      Tanden answered each point in the affirmative.”

      It’s all good. Unity!

      1. voteforno6

        Sanders is a lot better at politics than most people. He has to be, to get to his position. I think it’s better for him to stay focused on what’s really important, which he seems to be doing.

        1. Lee

          The material pressures are at the moment so great, the circumstances of so many so dire that the logic of progressive solutions is beginning to dawn in the beady brains of liberal hacks like nasty Neera et al should they wish to have a political future. Or so I choose to believe. Ever the optimist, me.

        2. Pelham

          And if he does stay focused on the important factors — setting aside Tanden’s name calling and concentrating principally on the overwhelming evidence that Tanden is thoroughly corrupt and in every other way unqualified for the job — he will quite reasonably and dispassionately vote against her confirmation.

      2. lyman alpha blob

        To be fair to Sanders, Tanden answering all those in the affirmative (even though she’s clearly lying and I’m sure Sanders knows it) gives the republicans even more reason not to confirm her.

        Maybe a little rope a dope going on by Bernie – we’ll see soon.

    3. km

      I suspect that, if that turns out to be the case, Sanders will meekly vote to confirm.

      Lord knows, Sanders has been abused enough in the past and worse, and Sanders never raised a peep of complaint, not on his own behalf, not on behalf of his supporters whom Team D so gleefully trash and take for granted.

      1. Pat

        Oh I know there is no chance that the Senate will do the right thing and sadly that includes Sanders.

        I enjoy a fantasy that I find a genie. One of my wishes being that elected officials are required by the universe to act in the best interests of their constituents without justification from special interests, especially the FIRE sector and their pet think tanks. This would include regular phone calls to top donors telling them their wishes were accorded the appropriate consideration as they were read before being laughed at and discarded. This until real campaign and election reform was passed. (Their agenda would be quite full with corrective legislation that might take a little time.) Can you imagine the fallout, including that of our captured media?

        But barring that miracle I think we will continually find that our government not only hires corrupt hacks and psychopaths, but that even those who should know better will bend to the collusion.

    4. miningcityguy

      At least it has been established that Neera Tanden did not call Bernie Sanders ” an ignorant slut.”

      1. John Anthony La Pietra

        OTOH, the old-SNL fans among us may recall that his wife’s first name is Jane. . . .

    5. Edward

      The only thing with this is there doesn’t seem to be much resistance against Biden’s other lousy nominees. I am glad Tanden is getting some heat but what about the others?

      For that matter, the whole system is corrupt. Do we have a democracy when bribery is so rampant? The problem of bribery is a huge problem which the establishment is mostly silent about. Sanders is probably doing what he can, but he is only scratching the surface.

    6. drumlin woodchuckles

      The Democratic Senators are all Clintobidenite Draculobamazoid scum. They will all vote, without exception, to confirm Tanden.

      Except Sanders. But he is not a Democrat anyway, as Tandenite filth like Clinton will be happy to remind us.

  6. Mr. Magoo

    Re: US will not accept World Health Organization findings out of Wuhan without independently verifying South China Morning Post (resilc). Help me.

    Why the “Help me”? The fact that the existence of the initial outbreak was suppressed by the CCP, there was evidence of undue influence of the CCP on the WHO seem to be agreed upon, all giving enough credibility to other claims of the source of the virus might have had help thru other sources rather than direct transmission. Is this just a, Trump wasn’t right as much as a stopped clock” reaction? What is the evidence otherwise that this was purely a natural species jump occurring naturally?

    1. SteveD

      There is good reason to be skeptical of the WHO ’findings’ as to origin of the SARS-COV2 outbreak, without resorting to any fringe thinking. Sadly, the storylines getting oxygen are along the lines of “either you agree with all of us experts that this had to have a natural origin, or you are a kook that believes the chinese were making a bioweapon and deliberately released it”. Eric Weinstein’s Distributed Idea Suppression Complex doesn’t want to consider the idea that, maybe, just maybe, the virology researchers are engaged in a well-meaning but fabulously dangerous line of work, and that a tiny, non-malevolent slip-up may have unleashed a terrible pathogen. Maybe, maybe not, but why are we so quick to dismiss this?

    2. Synoia

      This is the wrong question:

      What is the evidence otherwise that this was purely a natural species jump occurring naturally?

      Why? Because it is not provable. One is searching for nothing. What could the proof be?

      The question is: What is the evidence that this was not purely a natural species jump ?

      We have had pandemic and epidemics throughout human history. Until there is concrete proof, this is the best explanation.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        The most important element in scientific inquiry is what your question is. You can prove a lot of bad things by asking the wrong questions.

        I agree that the burden of proof lies on those questioning its natural origin, as we know coronavirus pandemics can (and have in the past) arisen naturally. We also know that there have been close calls in the past with accidental laboratory releases of viruses. At the very beginning of this I was joking with a friend who works for Birmingham University that he should ask them to twin with Wuhan due to their shared history in causing pandemics (the last known smallpox outbreak with deaths occurred from an accidental release from a Birmingham Uni laboratory).

        But there are other obvious questions to ask, such as ‘how likely is it that the ground zero for the pandemic based on a bat virus was a food market a stones throw away from China’s main laboratory for researching these viruses and hundreds of miles away from the core natural range of those bats?’ Anyone who has travelled China will tell you that the big city markets are relatively well regulated and clean, its the rural and small town ones where the really nasty stuff takes place, which is why Wuhan is such an unlikely epicentre.

        I doubt we’ll ever get a satisfactory answer, but I think that while the current balance of evidence supports a natural virus (even if at some stage of the journey there was accidental human aid), I think there are reasonable causes for suspicion that the virus could have been a lab release. I certainly don’t think its CT to ask the question.

        1. cocomaan

          The very fact that nobody can say which bat vendor it was, who sold what to who, who patient zero is, makes me think that the animal explanation is specious.

          China is a society with massive, incredible state surveillance. But they don’t know which vendor sold the animal in question?

          1. caucus99percenter

            China is a society with massive, incredible state surveillance

            With the U.K. apparently close behind, at least when it comes to surveillance cameras and police informers.

            Britain has more surveillance cameras per person than any country except China. That’s a massive risk to our free society

            Undercover police had children with activists. Disclosure likely to intensify controversy over long-running police operation to infiltrate and sabotage protest groups

            1. cocomaan

              I’m trying to imagine a scenario where this started in the UK. Maybe a marsala food truck was said to be the source.

              Then I’m trying to imagine that nobody asked, “Which chicken marsala vendor started this pandemic? Do you have video footage of the street corner where he was parked? Is anyone researching who got it first? What was the bloke’s name serving chicken November 15-25th? How did customers pay? Cash? Credit? Venmo?”

              I’m not convinced that it came or didn’t come from a lab. I just want to know what the hell happened. How is it that there’s a giant collective shrug about this?

              1. ambrit

                We’re getting that “giant collective shrug about this” because it’s too b—– late to do anything about it.
                What’s scary is how effective this virus is. Now, if someone of a malevolent nature were to pair it with a really deadly disease.
                Shutting down the world’s biowarfare labs is going to take a world wide revolution. I’m not holding my breath about that happening any time soon.

            2. Yves Smith Post author

              Not of farms in the boonies. China has the worst food safety and animal husbandry practices in the world, bar none. Their faming is almost designed to have diseases jump species. And Hubei is the worst of all of China.

          2. ForeignNational(ist)

            Does it have to be a bat vendor that enabled the hypothesized jump? It could also be anyone who lives near or interacts with wild bats frequently. Also, China has incredible state surveillance to track people (not bats, as of yet). Tracking a virus to the true patient zero or species crossover point is an entirely different matter, especially for a disease that has a longish incubation period and a streak of asymptomatic transmission. It is very possible that the Chinese government cannot pinpoint the crossover event (“which bat vendor” or whoever caught the virus from the bats first) simply because the search space is to big and complex.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              No one has ever suggested a bat vendor. It’s bat caves near farms. There aren’t any bat caves near the famed wet market (which no longer looks like the point of origin anyhow) but there are bat caves near farms further away.

              Also pangolins are high on the list of intermediary species.

          3. Procopius

            Errr… how are they supposed to know what animal is in question? Do they even know who “patient zero” is? I doubt it very much, since so many people who are infected are asymptomatic. The idea that transmission was from an animal sold at that market is circumstantial. It’s an explanation given because it’s possible and (Occam’s Razor) a simpler story than some of the other possibilities. I don’t see any way that we will ever know, unless some lab technician comes forth and says, “Yes, I did it, I put a bit of the virus in my boss’s tea, hoping he would die.”

        2. vlade

          Well, yes.

          But that could be a wrong question too, as I could say “and how sure are you that it did originate in Wuhan in the first place, and not in some nearby rural area, and only got _detected_ in Wuhan?” We now know there are asymptomatic carriers, and in a small town a few “extra” older people seemingly dying of pneumonia in late fall/early winter may not be noticed enough to do any sort of testing.

          TBH, I don’t believe we’ll ever find out.

          1. Ignacio

            The Wet market is simply where it exploded. Reports from previous infections, and genetic clocks go back to the end of October 2019 as a possible time of origin, Patient 0. Time enough to travel from the remotest South China coves, even from the moon.

            Think of this: the CCP destroyed all wild animal farms (dozens of thousands) that months before were their pet agri-development model. That was clearly print erasing action. IMO this shows how far can Chinese leadership to save their… leadership.

            That makes the tracing nearly impossible if intermediate species were involved and we might only find the nearest relative in living bat populations.

        3. Ignacio

          Think of this, once you are talking about ‘probabilities’. Animals bought & sold in Wuhan’s market came from the remotest Southern China possibly in a daily basis (Pangolins, bats, turtles…) not by themselves logically but brought by dealers plus people involved in wild farms wherever they where who could have been infected by other people or animal reservoirs that constitute their business.. That nearby lab in the best case could do a yearly sampling trip with two or three operators, but instead of bringing wild animals alive in cages, loaded with their samples in bags tightly closed for protection and conservation and brought by people more conscious than any dealer or breeder. Yet, it ‘could be a lab’ looks as reasonable as any other route to the wet market? I totally disagree and cannot give the same likelihood to these different potential events.

        4. Yves Smith Post author

          Uh, no.

          My parents visited Wuhan. Said it was the filthiest place they’d even been, including Nairobi. They did a lot of third world travel.

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      I can believe the safety protocols at virology research centers around the world are not infallible. Bats or pangolins in town or in the country around Wuhan might be the origin. The next pandemic virus could originate in pork or poultry factories or in a crowded feedlot, or in some crowded human slum, or among the growing armies of homeless on US city streets. The World Health Organization and Chinese government have credibility not unlike the credibility of the CDC or the US government. Why does it matter where the Corona virus originated — other than as a diversion of our attention from other matters.

  7. The Rev Kev

    “Joe Biden holds first call with Xi Jinping since taking office”

    Xi may be satisfied that old Joe finally got around to giving him a call but Netanyahu is still waiting for his. Danny Danon, the head of World Likud, tweeted old Joe a message saying-

    ‘@POTUS Joe Biden, you have called world leaders from
    Might it now be time to call the leader of #Israel, the closest ally of the #US?
    The PM’s number is: 972-2-6705555’

    Maybe after the continuous gift-giving of the Trump years, old Joe is reminding Netanyahu that he is the tail and not the dog. But until Netanyahu gets his call, a musical interlude-

      1. km

        The kind of prodigal son that is constantly calling on Dad not just to “take me back” but to get him out of jail, pay off his gambling debts, get that pregnant mistress to leave the scene, etc..

  8. Chris Smith

    I see Twitter is howling about “free speech” now. Don’t they understand that India is just enforcing its own terms of service?

  9. Pat

    Theo is very handsome. In a less egalitarian location he might be called regal. Many thanks to David E for sharing him.

  10. jr

    Re: Social Media is a Scam (except for NC)

    Thanks for this article and introducing Adam Curtis, I will be sure to look into him further. A number of interesting points jump out right away.

    “What’s disappeared out of the language is power.”

    In an era of performative thought-blobs like “destroying hierarchies” and “untangling power relations” and for that matter “draining the swamp!”, the idea that power is actually not being discussed is really insightful. On the authoritarian, state-sanctioned, right-leaning Left, the language is specifically designed to deflect talk of real power relations into the miasma of IDpol and it’s infinities of moral piety and self-degradation.

    “So the tech AI people are in the midst of a massive PR drive to persuade us that really we are no more than simple machines – which means we will agree humbly to be fitted into their stupid machine decision trees.”

    Say it again, brother! There is a constant and concerted effort in the media to degrade the idea of what it means to be a human. Like that article posted here a week back or so that attempted to reduce friendships to the evolutionary penny saving computations of one of those coupon calculators they used to hand out at grocery stores. Or that (IIRC) Tech Insider article a few months back that gloated about how robots are on the cusp of making all artists into starving artists. Or the geniuses that tell us that dreams are just memories or random mental junk. Or the Daniel Dennett’s of the world who tell us that consciousness is an illusion. Or that we need all the tech that’s been foisted upon us to live a full life, as if the world didn’t spin before 5G or Alexa or what-not.

    “You cannot conceive of what lies beyond you because the world is you.”

    Probably the most succinct indictment of individualism I’ve ever read. I think Curtis is looking at this from a cultural perspective but it’s a spiritual issue as well. The real, everyday Mystery of It All is lost to the mind who is trapped in itself, who can only see the world through the lens of it’s own needs and goals, no matter how many Baba Ram Dass lectures you attend.

    1. Kouros

      Somebody should brush their knowledge about the Butlerian Jihad. I know it is three generations ago, but it is more than valid nowadays…

  11. Arizona Slim

    The MSM article about the financial troubles of the Capitol rioters included this passage:

    Nearly 60 percent of the people facing charges related to the Capitol riot showed signs of prior money troubles, including bankruptcies, notices of eviction or foreclosure, bad debts, or unpaid taxes over the past two decades, according to a Washington Post analysis of public records for 125 defendants with sufficient information to detail their financial histories.

    To which I say:

    If we were to plot those troubles on a graph, I’ll betcha money that there would be a big spike around the year 2008, when the GFC became a thing. This financial crisis, and the Bush and Obama administration’s ham-handed responses to it, led to many of our current troubles. Or, as is commonly said on the streets, rather than the suites:

    They got bailed out. We got sold out.

    1. Fox Blew

      100%. Isn’t it about time we (re)introduce Eric Hoffer’s “The True Believer” into our high school curriculum?

    2. fresno dan

      Arizona Slim
      February 11, 2021 at 9:07 am
      I’ll betcha money that there would be a big spike around the year 2008, when the GFC became a thing.
      I think your exactly correct, although I would not discount the torrent of people immiserated continually by our medical industrial complex who find out for themselves how precarious their foothold in the middle class is. And I think it perfectly explains the remarkable election of Obama (an inexperienced black man) and Trump (zero experience TV huckster). In both cases, people were willing to try something completely new and unorthodox. That somebody not part of the “system” would come in and overthrow the rentier class.
      I think the only difference with Trump is that people figured out more quickly that the new boss was same as the old boss, except the modern version of the motivational posters was tweeted instead of stuck to the walls.

      1. marym

        If the people at the Capitol had figured it out they would have realized they would have more in common with the people of Philadelphia, Detroit, Milwaukee, and Atlanta they wanted to disenfranchise than with Trump and their other elite leaders.

    3. Pelham

      Only somewhat related to this subject is a paragraph from a Michael Lind essay linked here yesterday that I’ll toss in (and he makes a point that I’ve made with liberal friends, who have reacted angrily or laughed it off):

      Following November’s election, the Brookings Institution claimed that “Biden’s winning base in 509 counties encompasses fully 71% of America’s economic activity, while Trump’s losing base of 2,547 counties represents just 29% of the economy.” By the logic of the Brookings study, if a financier in New York City makes a million times as much from stock market manipulations as a blue-collar worker who maintains wireless towers that are essential to the national and global economy in South Dakota, this means that New York City is vastly more “productive” than South Dakota—and upstate New York, as well.

    4. PS

      MAGAs with financial difficulties reminds me of one of Matt Taibbi’s best lines:
      “Ronald Reagan once took working-class voters away from Democrats by offering permission to be proud of the flag. Trump offers permission to occupy the statistical American mean: out of shape, suffering from gas, poorly read, anti-intellectual, treasuring things above meaning, and hiding an awful credit history.

    5. Glen

      I was a lifetime Democratic voter – until Obama’s second term. I was DONE with the Democratic party after watching Obama bail out the crooks. Even Bush let Enron go under, and the C suite get jail time.

      If those same rioters had showed up at Wall St, I think 90% of the country would have cheered them on.

  12. The Rev Kev

    “N.Y.’s Vaccine Websites Weren’t Working. He Built a New One for $50.”

    Just goes to show you that it is not hard. Wasn’t there a kid who put together a website to keep track of Coronavirus numbers last year which was featured in Links? Someone like the CDC should have put a standard interface for a vaccine website together and made it freely available to all of the State and Local governments but of course they never did. Maybe it is just as well. They might have given the contract to the people that put together the Obamacare website.

    But to put a cynical spin to it, ’Statistics released recently by the city showed that the vaccine is disproportionately flowing to white New Yorkers, not the Black and brown communities that suffered the most in the pandemic’s first wave’ so perhaps the system is working as planned by only being nominally inefficient. Then when it is all over, officials can then say, ‘Yeah – funny how that worked out.’

  13. John Siman

    Adam Curtis is a genius! Thanks so much for posting his Idler interview! Here’s a sample of how brilliant he is, how he lives and thinks in full sunlight, while PMC liberals rage on at the shadows in the Cave of Twitter: “Meanwhile Trump is a distraction. He has really provided us a pantomime villain. He wakes up in the morning, gets his smartphone, tweets something really outrageous. Within nanoseconds the managerial liberals are looking at their smartphones going: ‘This is outrageous, typical capitalist, how can he say this?’ At which point, they’re locked into a feedback loop of anger, fury and outrage. Meanwhile, outside the theatre, outside the pantomime, people like Mike Pence, and all the large techno financial, managerial complex are quietly getting on with what they really want to do, which is things like privatising armies. Really, they are. The managerial liberals are locked in the theatre with Trump. And that is where all our journalism has gone.”

    1. cocomaan

      Been reading/watching Adam Curtis stuff for years. He’s a really clear voice.

      Apparently the documentary he just put out starts with a Graeber quote. I really like that Curtis is trying to recapture imagination. Power hates imagination, because people can imagine themselves outside of it.

      Social media also seems to be the antithesis of imagination.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        I just gave Trillbillies podcsast a try for the first time yesterday and they mentioned a new Curtis documentary coming out. has anyone run across it yet or is it still pending?

    2. Carolinian

      I think he’s saying some obvious things but the point is he’s saying them. And he’s a wheel at the BBC where he makes influential documentaries. For example he says

      When we say: “Facebook is a dark, manipulative force”, it makes the people in charge seem extremely powerful. The truth is that people within the advertising and marketing industry are extremely suspicious about whether online advertising has any effect at all.

      Memo to Yasha Levine.

      And his point about religion needs to be emphasized–to wit the practical benefit of spiritual belief is that it allows people to function whereas our pretense to being all rational all the time has sapped our morale and produced a society demanding “safe spaces.”

      So yes he’s a great truth teller. Whether anyone is listening is another matter.

      1. Patrick

        Reminds me of Chris Hedges. Harvard Divinity degree in hand and ordained minister, this Pulitzer Prize winning journalist is a fierce critic of corporate capitalism and imho also a “truth teller” who discourses on the loss of our spiritual nature.

        1. Carolinian

          I think Curtis is talking more about religion as a coping mechanism rather than as a source of insight. Which is to say that an “opiate of the people” beats a constant state of fear and anxiety

          As for Hedges, to me his Manichean frame is his limitation–brilliant guy though he is.

  14. The Rev Kev

    “The Memo: Emotive video dominates day one of Trump impeachment trial”

    Yeah, really emotional. With high production values and footage that I suspect came from law enforcement files rather than people just trying to find this stuff on the net. So my question is this. Who is making these videos? I can see how they are put together for maximum emotional effect but who is doing them exactly? Who is doing the directing and editing?

    Even then, those films raise so many questions. Why did a call not go out to the DC Metropolitan Police saying ‘Officer down!’ A call like that would have brought every cop within the city down on top of those rioters. And why were the defensive lines so thin? Why was the main door left unguarded like you see in that film? And from the events displayed, Trump was still talking his usual bullsh*t miles away while all this was going on rather than directing it all. So many answered questions.

    1. flora

      an aside:

      “Hey @HouseDemocrats
      , we’ll be sending you a substantial bill for using @StatusCoup
      ‘s Capitol Hill attack footage shot by @JonFarinaPhoto
      without paying for it/courtesy us

      and, yeah, Yutube is still clocking the same footage on photo journalist creator Jon Farina’s StatusCoup site

      “Despite the footage being historic and newsworthy, and despite it being important enough to be included in @RepSwalwell
      ’s impeachment trial presentation, @TeamYouTube
      decided it violated their community guidelines and hasn’t responded to our appeal. ”

      Almost like the bigs are trying to crush the smaller competition (while using the smaller competitions’ work).

      1. Arizona Slim

        Years ago, one of my local acquaintances ran a Tucson bicycling blog. And, lo and behold, a local TV station used some of his video footage without permission. So, he sent them a bill. The TV station paid the bill.

    2. flora

      Here’s another vid from another person’s phone/camera. Sure looks like in at least one area there was little police presence and even some encouragement to enter. These “dueling narrative” videos are creating a sort of Rashmon-like view of the protest/riot, imo. (And just where were all the police? They’d known for days (per social media sites) a big crowd was coming, of whom several or many might be very upset with the election result. )

    3. pasha

      in the evidence presented wednesday, an officer on the barricade perimeter twice yelled “10-33, 10-33” in a panicked voice — code for “officer down.” i think police only say “officer down” on t.v. shows

  15. BAH

    The CNN headline about new CDC quarantine guidance doesn’t seem to follow the new CDC guidance. Included in the three criteria required to be met to avoid quarantine is this one: “Are within 3 months following receipt of the last dose in the series”. Meaning that there appears to be only a 3 month window where quarantine is not necessary. That of course is ridiculous, but even more ridiculous is the “new guidance “ that has now been created by this awful headline.

  16. TomDority

    Maybe I am missing something – crypto currency – seems to be available to those who can afford to use high speed computers only – an elite club – what wealth does crypto add to a country – you can purchase goods with it but, that too is based on ability to access it – seems discriminitory – what am I missing?

    1. urblintz

      Well, probably the profits are mostly available to high-speed computers but crypto is very “available” to cell phone traders…

      who may well be the mark at that poker table.

    2. Maritimer

      Maybe I am missing something too….

      Supposedly, one of the selling points of crypto is anonymity. Yet, for instance, if you buy a Tesla, is there not going to be a paper trail of the sale to you, registration of the vehicle, insurance, warranty claims, etc. You are identified. In addition, buying a high end Tesla with crypto may be a bit of a red flag to the IRS. Ditto for many other purchases with crypto.

      If I’m IRS: get Tesla crypto sales records, run purchasers against tax filings and see if any crypto profits/losses declared. For starters.

  17. urblintz

    re: Neera Tanden

    A young person can post typically stupid, un-considered things on twitter and facebook and be ruined for their life (one that has barely begun), but Neera Tanden can post her vicious, mendacious, copious and deliberately considered bile for years as “liberal” think-tanker and Hillary Clinton’s hatchet-woman… and be appointed as head of the OMB.

    What’s wrong with that picture?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Among other things, out a sexual harassment victim. The “woke” set is performative at best.

    2. km

      This applies to many things other than statute, but it simply goes to prove what every junior high schooler trying to fit in with the cool kids knows:

      There is no such thing as law. There is only context.

  18. DJG, Reality Czar

    I was skeptical of the interview of Adam Curtis because of the title, Internet = scam.

    What Curtis is saying in the interview isn’t so much that the internet or that social media are scams. Instead, Curtis seems to be saying that social media have become a distraction and are used to manipulate power arrangements.

    A characteristic quote, with much wisdom in it: “Everyone goes: “Oh that’s magical!” about the internet, but so what? That’s actually just so banal. People go: “Oh it’s terrible, they’re manipulating us!” or: “They know so much about me!” Well, what do they know about you? Your shopping? That’s it? What they don’t know, actually, are all the things that you’ve forgotten which are your real intelligence, and that world that you live in your head, day by day – which is rich and extraordinary.”

    So, in a sense the internet is a utility, and people are saying, Whoa! The electric company is manipulating me. Or more internettily, Whoa! I can’t control my pseudo-relationship with Etsy.

    As Curtis points out, in a time of endless selfies and endless self-regard, people don’t understand power arrangements. It’s like the curious and common belief among the middle class in the U S of A that unions are needed no longer because one can negotiate one’s own arrangement. Indeed, unions are just so nineteenth century-because, as they interview points out, people no longer know how to take action collectively.

    1. freebird

      Curtis says some insightful things, but to say it’s all been about shopping, and there are no darker uses being made out of personal data is quite an assumption.

  19. The Rev Kev

    “John Kennedy Rips Neera Tanden’s Mean Bernie Sanders Tweets”

    I’m gunna call it that Neera Tanden will be confirmed. Confirmed because she will bring something important to to the Biden administration and that is support for a Grand Bargain. There are numerous videos of old Joe saying that Social Security has to be cut but Neera Tanden also has a long history of calling for Social Security cuts. Of course she does not call it that but she calls it cutting “entitlements.” Below is a clip in a tweet from Briahna Joy Gray with Tanden talking about this- (2:15 mins)

    This whole thing about the ‘mean girl’ tweets is just a distraction as she has a history of a pay to play view of the government that they should really be homing in on. Of course Tanden learned this idea from Hillary so no surprises there as she is Hillary’s attack dog. But letting her off the hook by having her pinky-sear that she will not let all these donations affect her decisions? Seriously? And they believed her?

    But asking Tanden if she supporters ‘a litany of progressive goals such as raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, lowering the Medicare eligibility age to 60, making public college tuition free for low-income earners, providing free universal pre-K and mandating 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave’ and her saying of course she does was just pathetic. What else is she going to say? She is only there to have her ticket punched before taking up her job with everyone on that committee’s blessing. And it’s al going to end in tears.

  20. Pat

    Can we just call it like it is. The first day of the impeachment was “You have to convict him because his followers got close enough to scare us silly, even when we weren’t in the same building.Don’t they know when we say ‘we’ll fight’ for something we are spreading bull*? The most we are supposed to do is compete for lucrative book deals and speaking engagements by providing governmental monies for whatever top donors want. “

    Or even more accurately “ Don’t make us fear running against Donald Trump in the future, we might actually have to take the opinions and desires of people who don’t offer us future sinecures into account.”
    Yes I am that cynical about a group of people who cannot recognize the difference between a riot and a coup. One that has repeatedly dismissed the lie from an entire administration that has led to ongoing actions that have thus far costs hundreds of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars as a high crime. That have in fact embraced members of that administration ignoring the devastation left in its wake.

    1. The Historian

      Can we really be honest here? That impeachment trial is just like a rigged football game. We already know who is going to win, but people have already made up their minds for ‘their team’ and like at a real football game, most people only see what they want to see, not what really happened as in: “What, that was not a foul, the ref must be blind and is cheating my team!”

      So while it has entertainment value and it might give some of us vicarious thrills when our team performs well, this impeachment trial is not going to do a thing else for any of us. There will be no great truths exposed, no one will be held accountable, there will be no plans to deal with the anger in this country that caused the whatever you want to call it. We will continue to believe what we want and root loyally for our team. And after it is over, nothing will have changed and we will be in the same position as we were before, just like going to a real football game.

      I choose not to watch this spectacle – it is just not my form of entertainment, but for others who do enjoy this type of thing: Have a ball while it lasts! And if you watch on CSPAN you won’t have to deal with all the annoying ads!

      1. Pat

        Both Trump impeachments were for show. They had a better shot with the second but both were preaching to the choir foregone conclusions. Well unless they have irrefutable secret video of Trump telling them to storm the door with the least security presence….

        I just read the highlights.

        Sadly just as we will not confront the very real problems with our elections (that may have been buried for years by the events of 2020), we also won’t examine and address the problems that led to people being so angry or even the very real failures of the day. Facile and meaningless explanations will be accepted. The anger will be tamped down briefly. But our elected officials will feel better.

        1. flora

          but..but…Think of CNN and MSNBC’s ratings!

          CNN viewership down 44 – 45% in the first post-Trump week. See graph:

          Now this new impeachment show has brought the viewer$ back!
          CNN Tops Fox News and MSNBC in Impeachment Day Ratings

          (One cannot be to be too cynical about this made-for-tv show, imo.)

  21. allan

    Trump’s Tweet Attacking Pence Came Right After Learning His VP’s Life Was In Danger [HuffPost]

    Donald Trump posted a tweet attacking his own vice president for lacking “the courage” to overturn the election for him ― enraging his Jan. 6 mob even further ― just minutes after learning that Mike Pence had been removed from the Senate chamber for his own safety.

    Newly elected Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) told reporters Wednesday night, following the second day of the former president’s impeachment trial, that Trump had called for his help in delaying election certification the afternoon of the U.S. Capitol attack but he had told Trump that Pence had just been taken from the Senate and he couldn’t talk just then.

    “He didn’t get a chance to say a whole lot because I said, ‘Mr. President, they just took the vice president out. I’ve got to go,’” Tuberville said.

    According to video footage from that day, Pence was removed from the Senate at 2:14 p.m. after rioters had broken into the Capitol, meaning that when Trump lashed out at Pence at 2:24 p.m., he already knew Pence’s life was in danger.

    “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution,” Trump wrote in his tweet. …

    Loose lips sink ships. If only he had had someone to vette his statement.
    Poor Coach Tuberville. So close to Trump, so far from the `Bama athletic department press office.

  22. lyman alpha blob

    RE :Salesforce Says Most Employees Will Only Be In Office 1 To 3 Days A Week After Pandemic

    Judging by the way their POS crapified software works now, that will be 1 to 3 days more days per week than they were in the office before and during the pandemic, because it sure seems like they’ve been phoning it in for years.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Isn’t it supposed to be one of those all-in-one customer relationship management “solutions” that actually causes more problems than it solves?

      Speaking of which, a vendor sent me a PDF form to fill out. So I completed the half that he asked me to. Then came time to sign it. I was prompted to go through all sorts of gyrations in order to create a digital signature profile. Or something like that.

      Yeesh. Why don’t I just print the darn form and put my John Hancock on it?

      Control-P I went and out came the printed form. What a mess! What looked lovely on screen was awful on paper. But I signed it with my John Hancock and snail-mailed it to the vendor.

      1. Eclair

        We walked along the Seattle waterfront yesterday, heading out from Pike Place. North of the grain elevators, pouring wheat into the holds of the docked cargo ship, we came upon the Expedia campus, now fenced in and empty. The $900 million facility was refurbished in late 2019, after the ill-fated Amgen, whose hubristic management had constructed the glass and steel buildings with the awesome views of Elliott Bay, fled Seattle. Workers from Bellevue buildings began transferring there in late fall. We all know what happened in the late winter of 2020.

        I had never thought of Expedia as generating all that money. $900 million to make a grand attempt to dominate the Seattle waterfront. They don’t ‘produce’ anything. Their business model simply adds a layer of rent extraction between hotels and airlines and the customer. Makes it faster and easier to hop onto a carbon spewing airplane and spend a cheap weekend in Prague.

        The friends we were walking with said: “It will all come back, better than ever, once this CoVid thing is over. Just like the US roared into a period of unprecedented prosperity after the Great Depression.” I mentioned Climate Change and do we really want to go back. Then thought of what to do with the thousands of Expedia employees, many of whom have already been laid off.

        1. RMO

          “Just like the US roared into a period of unprecedented prosperity after the Great Depression”

          Uhhh…. yeah. There was a devastating global war in there somewhere too as I recall… and a government that believed in and enacted Keynesian stimulus at a huge scale, and a government that kept pursuing high employment and well paying jobs, and a financial and legal structure that meant the average worker was able to share in the success of the economy. None of which the US has now, and that’s without even getting into the no longer just approaching but now fast increasing hit of climate change on the world.

          The last recovery from a great financial crisis is a much more accurate guide to how things will go, I think. The developments 2008 and on wherein there was a rising tide to be sure, but only about 10% of the people had boats, the rest had concrete galoshes stuck in the muck at the bottom of the harbor.

          1. Massinissa

            “and a government that believed in and enacted Keynesian stimulus at a huge scale, and a government that kept pursuing high employment and well paying jobs, and a financial and legal structure that meant the average worker was able to share in the success of the economy. None of which the US has now”

            They’re so averse to keynesian stimulus they won’t even give 40 million people 1400 dollars, as if that would be something that would permanently impoverish America despite it seeming to work fine under Trump without causing the apocalypse. Both parties think government expenditure is a more dangerous disease than covid.

        2. Massinissa

          “t will all come back, better than ever, once this CoVid thing is over. Just like the US roared into a period of unprecedented prosperity after the Great Depression.”

          Clearly the answer to our problems is to have a World War against China. Also have people already forgotten 2008? It took a decade to entirely recover.

  23. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Trump’s impeachment can answer a lot about the Capitol riot. But not who funded it.

    As noted, it wasn’t that expensive unless people wanted it to be by chartering a private jet. My father mentioned a chartered bus taking people from VT to DC. I found and posted a link here a couple weeks ago about it – IIRC it was about $100 round trip, no hotel stay required.

    But leave it to the political elite class to talk their own book and assume that nothing can happen unless some wealthy donor funds it. It is how many of them make their livings after all.

      1. Massinissa

        I’ve looked into it: she had rich people financial problems. She was easily in the top 10%, and she still had enough money to visit Washington via private plane.

  24. H1C

    Re the cases of immune thrombocytopenia after the Covid vaccines.

    “Having it happen after a vaccine is well-known and has been seen with many other vaccines,” he said. “Why it happens, we don’t know.”

    I’ve pointed this out before in comments, but the spike protein has epitopes 78.4% of which are human-like:

    Given the above, then by injecting in our body an antigen that consists of the entire spike protein, as is the case with all of the Covid-19 vaccines to date, are we not running some risk of training our immune system to form antibodies and mount other defenses against epitopes that have a high degree of similarity to epitopes found in human tissue?

    This Nature article, published January 19, 2021 and presented in Links by Jerri-Lynn a couple of weeks ago, suggests such autoimmunity is the key to severe Covid-19:

    A “way pathogens might trigger autoimmunity is if a part of them coincidentally resembles human cell components”

    I really would like to know whether the vaccine designers and regulators thought of these autoimmune implications of the selection of the entire spike protein as the antigen of the vaccines. Or were the authors of the Cambridge paper the only ones who noticed the high degree of similarity to human-like epitopes in the composition of the spike protein?

    1. Lupana

      Is it the entire spike protein or just a section of the spike protein in the vaccines?
      And then wouldn’t the antibody – antigen also be an issue in the case of natural infection with the coronavirus? I’m probably misunderstanding but wouldn’t the antibodies produced against the spike protein of the virus be the same as the antibodies produced against the spike protein in the vaccines? Isn’t that the idea ..?

      1. CoryP

        I believe the suggestion is that directing a vaccine specifically against the non-human-like epitopes of the spike protein could produce a vaccine less likely to cause auto-immunity… as compared to natural infection or whole-spike vaccine (which I would assume would have the same effects)

        I’m not qualified to judge how important this is, but that’s how I’ve interpreted H1C,s argument.

        1. Lupana

          I thought they were just using a part of the spike protein which is why the variants are of concern but I could be misunderstanding what is meant by whole spike. I mostly wish we were New Zealand or Taiwan and didn’t have to think about any of this… Thank you!

          1. H1C

            The variants are of concern because they may have mutated enough, in the regions relevant to the virus’ methods of infectivity, (i.e. the receptor binding domain, the furin cleavage site, and the receptor binding sites outside of the main receptor binding domain) that even though the vaccines have used the entire spike protein as antigen, they may need to be tweaked to accommodate these mutations.

            It is only those antibodies that are formed against the spike protein regions that are responsible for the virus’ methods of infectivity that are neutralizing, or protective. The antibodies that are formed against the other regions are irrelevant, or could even be actively harmful, if the other regions happen to resemble human tissue, or result in antibodies that the live virus could exploit to increase infection (this is known as antibody-dependent enhancement).

        2. H1C

          That is how I read the Cambridge paper too: the authors state that by using as their antigen: 1) only the non-human like epitopes, which are 2) also relevant to SARS-CoV-2’s methods of infectivity, they are directing the immune system to combat the virus and its effects, without also causing an immune response that would attack our own tissues as collateral damage. And without also causing an ineffective immune response that the live virus could exploit to cause greater infection after immunization (this is known as antibody-dependent enhancement).

  25. David

    The Politico story on Le Pen is a bit disconnected and incoherent. If you’re interested in the 2022 French elections, this is what you need to know.

    Le Pen has kept a low profile recently, which is sensible and observes one of the first principles of politics: don’t interrupt an enemy who is making mistakes. And Macron is making plenty. However, Macron is his own party, and, no matter how badly he is doing in the polls, he can’t be stopped from running.

    Macron has no real achievements to point to, and his only hope in 2022 is to be, as he was before, Not Le Pen. This means he has to get into the second round with Le Pen as his opponent. Which of them scores higher in the first round is irrelevant, if both of them qualify. If that happens, Macron believes (and he’s probably right) that massive and hysterical PMC/media campaigning against Le Pen will bring him home again, albeit by less this time. But as last time, the majority of the French people may not even vote. Le Pen made a mess of the 2017 campaign, and has learnt from that and tided her act up. The problem is that the RN doesn’t have the strength in depth to form a coherent government.

    Two things could upset Macron’s plans. First, the traditional Right could get together behind a good candidate. The current smart money is on Edouard Philippe, who did a good job as PM, and has been effectively invisible since he jumped (or was pushed) last summer. He’d probably beat Macron in a straight fight. The other is a more coherent Left. There are signs recently that bits of that traditionally fragmented tendency are starting to climb out of the IdPol sewer, and get back to class-based politics. It’s hard to see one single figure of the Left really challenging Macron, but a stronger showing in 2022 could undermine Macron, by siphoning off part of his middle-class vaguely leftist constituency (that happened in the last regional elections, when some of that group defected to the Greens.)
    Keep watching.

      1. David

        It’s not a left-right thing. Traditionally, the Left was very anti-American, and the Right only marginally less so. This is the PMC in France, heavily Americanised, coming in for a good kicking. Macron knows that intersectional crap isn’t an election winner, and he’ll lose votes to the Socialists and others if he doesn’t react.

  26. NotTimothyGeithner

    Democrats promised the American people that if we won both races in Georgia and took control of the Senate, we were going to pass a very popular COVID relief bill, including its most popular provision: $2,000 checks for the working people of this country.

    Democrats won, and now it’s time to deliver.

    But, unfortunately, we have some Democrats in Congress who believe that we should first lower the annual income threshold for those eligible to receive the full benefit from $75,000 per individual and $150,000 per couple to $50,000 per individual and $100,000 per couple.

    A lot of people have said they don’t want rich people to get the full $2,000 benefit, and I agree. But to say to a worker from Vermont or California, or a single parent working 40 or 50 hours a week and making $60,000 a year in West Virginia that they are too rich to receive the full benefit during this time of economic crisis…it is absurd.

    It is not just terrible policy, it is even worse politics.

    Because if we water down this relief, we are telling working class people in this country that when Donald Trump was president they could get a full benefit if they made $75,000 per year, but now that Democrats are in power if they make $52,000 a year they are too rich for that benefit.

    If Joe Biden and a Democratic-controlled Congress do not provide the full benefits that Donald Trump and the Republicans did, it would be a political and policy disaster. We have got to do what we promised to the American people and help working families who are struggling right now.

    This is not just a question about helping the working people of this country during a time of crisis, this is a question about the future of the Democratic Party and whether we will show the middle class of this country that we are on their side.

    Republicans pit people against each other. They try to divide us up based on race, gender and ethnicity in an attempt to appeal to working class voters.

    The way Democrats become the party of the working class is by fighting for social justice, economic justice, and by bringing people together.

    But you do not bring people together when you say someone making $52,000 a year is too rich.

    A recent national poll shows that there is overwhelming support for President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan, and the vast majority of Americans are in favor of raising direct payments to $2,000. It is by far the most popular of the provisions in the plan.

    I would like to congratulate the House Leadership and the Progressive Caucus for keeping the existing income thresholds. It is absurd to create an income eligibility cap that would mean 40 million Americans who got support under Trump wouldn’t get checks under Biden.

    We must act urgently to provide relief to working people. That is why today I am counting on you to make your voice heard on this important issue:

    Sign my petition – tell Democratic leadership to stand tall for the working class of this country and have the courage to take on the powerful special interests. We must keep the income threshold for direct payments at $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for couples.

    Working people are struggling during the worst economic collapse in a century, and I intend to do everything I can to ensure they receive the $2,000 payments they were promised.

    Thank you for adding your name today to join me in that effort.

    In solidarity,

    Bernie Sanders

    My bolding. I find this interesting. Sanders had gone out to be Biden’s lap dog on 1400 in the last few days. It looks like the nihilists calling themselves centrists are throwing a fit over targeting.

  27. Andrew Watts

    RE: What Collapsed the Middle Class?

    The falling rates of return on capital in the 1970s and the subsequent capital strike that ended the New Deal consensus. We’re experiencing a normal historical cycle of boom and crisis here. It’s merely an aspect of the capitalist mode of production. The petty bourgeoisie always suffers in the crisis period and subsequently they become radicalized. The protesters on the streets in Portland, OR and the Capitol rioters have a lot in common in that regard besides their aspirational motivation and class background.

    The period of globalization (read: imperialism) was only a brief interlude in the decline. We will eventually need widespread social reforms, and a redistribution of wealth, or we will have a revolution that distributes poverty. History is pretty clear that’s what will happen when societal wealth is concentrated in the hands of the few. It never ends well for either the rich or poor.

  28. PS

    Adam Curtis’ opening paragraph about targeted ads resonated with me because I’m constantly surprised at how non-relevant the ads are that I see. I liked to think that because I use ad blockers, anonymous email addresses, etc. that maybe Big Data didn’t have me nailed down. But I guess it really is that it’s all just a scam. I see ads for Android phones all the time even though I’ve owned an iPhone for 10+ years as has everyone in my household. Statistically what are the chances that I’m going to switch to Android?

  29. none

    And more important, as we have said repeatedly, we don’t know if these vaccines reduce transmission. They likely do to a degree, but the overwhelming majority of experts agree that a respiratory vaccine is exceedingly unlikely to achieve sterilizing immunity.

    Data from the Israeli rollout shows that the Pfizer vaccine really does decrease transmission quite a lot, though maybe not to zero.

    OTOH, B117 is doubling in Florida every 9 days and in California every 12 days (the only states where there is good data). It will likely dominate infections by March.

    1. kareninca

      Could you link to the Israeli rollout data that you say shows the Pfizer vaccine decreases transmission a lot? I saw an article on the topic that said that that seems to be the case, but confounding factors were the timing of their lockdown, and the fact that vaccine-takers might be more risk averse than other people.

  30. kareninca

    What sort of people read ars technica?? This utterly evil comment got 20 up votes (and only 4 down):

    “covid-19 is a terrible disease, and while our response to it has been atrocious in many respects we are also advancing science at a breakneck speed. Those lessons learned will likely save many more people moving forward.
    Side note: Trump would more than likely still be president if it didn’t happen.”

    I guess it is okay to have tremendous numbers of Americans die, if it may advance “science” in the future (on some speculative utilitarian grounds) and if it gets rid of your political opponent.

    1. caucus99percenter

      It’s the “ethics” of the computer GLaDOS in the video game Portal: ♫ “For the good of all of us except the ones who are dead. But there’s no use crying over every mistake. You just keep on trying till you run out of cake. And the Science gets done, and [Joe Biden gets to run, while pretending he is] still alive…”

  31. R

    This makes me feel old. I remember a wave of catalytic converter thefts when I was in sixth form and then College. Early 90’s. I remember entering the Economist student writing competition with an essay about Johnson Matthey.

    Shiny metal goes up; shiny metal goes down. Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose. Apologues to any dire critics of my anadiacritics.

  32. drumlin woodchuckles

    Thieves swiping catalytic converters? If every car owner smeared poison ivy oil on the outside of the converter, would the poison ivy oil survive long enough to affect anyone who stole the converter?

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