Links 2/23/2021

Rescue Beaver Instinctively Dams Doorways With Household Objects Core77

Gray whales learn daring feeding strategy in Puget Sound: Digging for ghost shrimp at high tide PhysOrg

Antarctic Stunner: Mysterious Creatures Discovered Under a Half Mile of Ice Mother Jones (furzy)

NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover Provides Front-Row Seat to Landing, First Audio Recording of Red Planet NASA (Kevin W)

Ghost particle that crashed into Antarctica traced back to star shredded by black hole CNET (Kevin W)

The White Dots in This Image Are Not Stars or Galaxies. They’re Black Holes ScienceAlert (David L)

A first-of-its-kind geoengineering experiment is about to take its first step MIT Technology Review

People with extremist views less able to do complex mental tasks, research suggests Guardian (Dr. Kevin)

Before and after: how the 2011 earthquake changed Christchurch Guardian (Kevin W)

How Antidepressants Work, At Last? Science (UserFriendly). Um, “work” is doing a lot of work in that headline. Antidepressants either didn’t work at all or only worked for six weeks to four months on the depressive men on my father’s side of the family.

#COVID-19

Science/Medicine

‘Aggressive measures needed’: India discovers 240 new, possibly more infectious Covid-19 strains RT (Kevin W)

Why The Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Has Gotten A Bad Rap — And Why That’s Not Fair NPR (fk)

COVID/Vitamin D: Much More Than You Wanted To Know Astral Codex Ten (vlade)

Scientists say clinical trials for ‘variant-proof’ vaccines could start very soon Guardian (Dr. Kevin)

US

UK/Europe

Johnson unveils lockdown exit plan: schools and social contact first Guardian

Finance/Economy

President Biden Delivers Remarks on COVID-19 C-SPAN (Kevin C). See the bill here.

China?

Canada’s parliament declares China’s treatment of Uighurs ‘genocide’ BBC

The Population of China Compared with the Rest of the World Visual Capitailst Furzy points out: “They left out Russia, India and Africa…..”

Stamp duty holiday leading to homelessness, new figures suggest openDemocracy

Alex Salmond – After Massive Suppression Attempts, Testimony Finally Published Craig Murray (UserFriendly)

Getting some traction: Alex Salmond accuses Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP chief husband and party figures of ‘conspiracy’ to ‘ruin his life’ and have him jailed ahead of Holyrood inquiry appearance Daily Mail (Kevin W)

Syraqistan

Biden: End U.S. Hypocrisy on Israeli Nukes Foreign Policy. UserFriendly: “File under things that won’t happen.”

They Built Libraries to Honor Loved Ones, Women Felled by Bombings New York Times. From resilc, who worked for the Peace Corps and USAID:

Who writes this shit? I know who funds it. The Taliban will run the whole shithole in 6 mos. It’s China and Pakistan’s problem. not mine. What about the unheated and unwatered libraries in Texas??????????? At least they are guarded by the space force.

Pentagon Chief Pledges Continued Support to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Democracy Now!(furzy)

Imperial Collapse Watch

An engine shortage is the newest problem to hit the F-35 enterprise DefenseNews. Kevin W: “The problems with the Pratt & Whitney engines here sound like that they may be related with that airliner that had it’s engine get shredded by a broken fan blade.”

Stevie Wonder is moving to Ghana CNN (furzy)

Biden

Tanden’s path to confirmation looks increasingly untenable The Hill. Bwahhhaaa!

Garland seeks to draw sharp contrast with Trump-era DOJ The Hill

Normalizing Foreign Trade Relations Angry Bear

Capitol Seizure

Officers set for grilling over mob attack The Hill

FBI Seized Congressional Cellphone Records Related to Capitol Attack The Intercept

Supreme Court Denies Trump Bid to Block Access to Tax, Financial Records Wall Street Journal. Top tax expert contact maintains this is a nothingburger, that 1. There are very different bases for valuation for tax v. lending and the bank is supposed to do its own valuation, including verifying rent rolls; 2. The Trump income for forgiveness of debt was offset by losses. But Trump has been hiring such terrible lawyers of late that who knows how he’ll come out of this.

Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen team up for new podcast Guardian (Kevin W)

The Vote lawsuit: How GOP donor Fred Eshelman came to want his money back Washington Post (UserFriendly)

MyPillow C.E.O. Sued Over Election Fraud Claims New York Times. As we said, defamation suits are hard to win and you can also win and not get meaningful damages (Harry Shearer won a defamation suit and was awarded $1). The key hurdle is showing “actual malice” or negligence. If MyPillow dude believed the Trump cray cray and can show he did, it’s hard to see this going much of anywhere except costing MuPillow dude a lot in legal fees.

Confirming the thesis above: The MyPillow Guy Is Totally Stoked to Get Sued for $1.3 Billion Vice. MyPillow dude gets to do discover on Dominion.

Texas

Texans Will Pay for Decades as Crisis Tacks Billions Onto Bills Bloomberg

Texas Froze by Design James K. Galbraith, Project Syndicate (J-LS)

Consumers and Price Volatility: Texas Electricity Prices Adam Levitin, Credit Slip. He sees the parallel, as I did, with pre-crisis adjustable rate mortgages (which BTW Alan Greenspan himself touted). However, what I have yet to understand is why there aren’t risk sharing products. When I bought my first apartment in NYC, it was a co-op, and hence outside the Fannie/Freddie paradigm. It was also 1983, when mortgage rates were still very high. A standard product (which I took) was an adjustable rate mortgage with a ceiling and a floor. The interest rate would vary, but only in a 3% range. Caps and collars were a well-established product back then. Why aren’t they more widely used? Well, yes, I know if the rubes will happily buy a dangerous, defective product, why suffer the small reduction in profit to save them from self destruction?

It Starts: The Cascading Financial Repercussions of the Texas Electricity Crisis Wolf Richter

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Independent probe accuses police and paramedics of wrongdoing in death of Elijah McClain NBC (furzy)

The Most Ambitious Effort Yet to Reform Policing May Be Happening In Ithaca, New York GQ

Our Famously Free Press

Postcard From Peru: Why the Morality Plays Inside The Times Won’t Stop New York Times (UserFriendly)

Guardian Columnist’s Firing Over Israel Joke Highlights Paper’s Rightward Drift FAIR (furzy)

Whistleblowers: Inflexible prison software says inmates due for release should be kept locked up behind bars The Register (Dr. Kevin)

Facebook reverses Australia news ban after government makes media code amendments Guardian. Just broke at 1:00 AM EST; unlikely to get much insight by the time I turn in, so if you come across good commentary or tweets, please add them in comments.

Microsoft throws Google under the bus in European news fight arstechnica (Kevin W)

GameStop fiasco helps build momentum for a stock-trading tax — and Wall Street is furious CNN (furzy)

Andrew Yang Wants Dave Chappelle to Headline a Giant Post-COVID Party for NYC Vanity Fair

Class Warfare

New York Attorney General Backs Whistleblowers In Lawsuit Against Amazon Over Pandemic Workplace Conditions Kevin Gosztola (furzy)

FAIR Act is being revived in Washington, raising hopes for end to forced arbitration MarketWatch (UserFriendly)

Joe Manchin poses a threat to raising the minimum wage, even though 250,000 West Virginians would benefit from the increase Business Insider

America’s Future: Trillionaire Trust Fund Babies? CounterPunch (fk)

Antidote du jour. Jules:

One of my favorite places around here is the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, NY (https://nywolf.org/). In season and when there is no covid, the center gives educational programs and allows people to view their ‘ambassador wolves’ that come close to the fence and watch them feed. The wolves are treated respectfully and not as show animals; the purpose of the center is to prevent extinction by raising and then releasing endangered wolves.

Currently they have several wolves that they are breeding to eventually be released into the wild in the US. They also have wolf cams so you can click on them any time to see what the wolves are doing. I just checked and got a rare closeup of this beautiful gray wolf (I know it looks red but it was in the area for gray wolves Rosa, Alleno and family, and the families do NOT mix).

Please consider donating to the Conservation Center and maybe even ‘adopting’ a wolf

https://nywolf.org/meet-our-wolves/webcams/

And a bonus (Kevin W). When I looked, it was night and the eagle was sleeping with a wing over its head.

Another bonus (guurst) of a tiger cub, erm, vocalizing. Here he’s quite chatty, maybe because he’s bored and wants attention.

Backstory here. And another video of him with his mum and a sibling.

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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167 comments

  1. paul

    RE: Alex Salmond.

    The inquiry has been told to ignore his evidence by the crown office.

    However, everyone else can (I hope) read the full submission over at craig murray’s (collaterally damaged by this insane affair) site.

    The sign off shows why Alex is still held in high regard:

    The real cost to the Scottish people runs into many millions of pounds and yet no-one in this entire process has uttered the simple words which are necessary on occasions to renew and refresh democratic institutions – “I Resign”.

    The Committee now has the opportunity to address that position.*

    *Not for now, thanks to the crown office.

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      I’ve not been following this closely, but from what I’ve seen this story is really astonishing. From what I can see there is almost total silence from the London media. Even my fairly well tuned in English friends know nothing about what is going on around the Salmond story and vaguely think that he was probably guilty, he just got away with being a creep. Is it being covered properly in Scotland?

      Reply
      1. Terry Flynn

        I’ve attempted to follow this both from less known UK media and from Irish contacts but am as baffled as you. My Director of Studies back at uni in early 90s (old school socialist) was staunch SNP supporter but not keen to “get involved”. I thought little of it at the time but now wonder, given how easily Labour fell into factionalism.

        Now it seems like tribal wars are getting serious since the SNP effectively supplanted Labour as the “Scottish Establishment”. I’ll defer judgment but I can’t help thinking that Scotland loses no matter what – Boris and Keir are just watching from the sidelines hoping this gets epic and kills independence for a generation.

        Reply
        1. Chris

          The Reverend Stuart Campbell at wingsoverscotland.com has been reporting on all of this blow by blow as it’s played out.

          Language warning: he occasionally descends to salty language when particularly exasperated.

          Reply
      2. paul

        Not at all well.
        The anonymous complainers keep popping up on the BBC to repeat their perjuries.
        The papers are giving the FM an easy ride.
        The Police, Crown office and the SNP leadership are all in cahoots.
        The civil servants have had expensive coaching to face the toothless committee.
        The scottish government (the body the committee is investigating) has blocked evidence around 58 times.
        The FM is starting to act very strangely.

        It really is an astonishing time, and a total disgrace.

        Reply
    2. Jon Cloke

      I have to say I always thought Salmond was a creepy guy, with his friendship with Rupert Murdoch etc, but I have no real clue what’s going on…

      Reply
  2. The Rev Kev

    “A first-of-its-kind geoengineering experiment is about to take its first step”

    I’m not so sure that this is really a good idea this. Considering the fact that we can only have an idea of what the weather will be in a few days time because of chaos theory, trying to predict the results of any atmospheric engineering sounds like juggling sweaty dynamite sticks – it will all end in tears. And it has not escaped my notice that this is only a definition away from weather warfare either. You modify the weather and when it causes drought in China you say ‘My bad, China. Sorry about that.’

    Weather warfare has been tried in the past such as Operation Popeye during the Vietnam war but a few years after, such attempts were outlawed under the Convention on the Prohibition of Military or Any Other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques of 1977. That sounds good until you remember there are laws against putting weapons in outer space bu that has not stopped Washington wanting to do precisely that which is probably why they let the US Space Force be created. And as the following page points out, the US was thinking about using nanotechnology to modify the weather as well back in the 90s.

    Maybe a law should be created. And it says that if you can accurately predict the weather in a place like Europe or the US precisely for a whole month to plus or minus one degree, then you can be permitted to conduct some minor experiments. Otherwise, forget it-

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

    Reply
    1. jhallc

      Much like Coastal GeoEngineering methods to stop the erosion of shorelines, messing with natural systems often doesn’t go a planned.

      Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        Thats quite a good analogy for the problems we could face with this. There aren’t actually many unknowns with coastal geoengineering, the physics and predictive models for coastal erosion projects are advanced and mature.

        The problem is that if there is momentum behind a particular idea or project, the right questions aren’t always asked, or the data is slanted to support one idea or other, so the wrong options are frequently chosen. So even if our climate models are good enough to predict with reasonable accuracy what geoengineering might do, that is absolutely no guarantee that the right decision will be made.

        Reply
      2. Chris Smith

        Definitely. See the Aral Sea and the attempts to drain the Everglades. I worked on a project in undergrad in 1991 mapping the shrinkage of the Aral Sea due to an ill-fated irrigation project. It was bad then, but the sea is virtually gone now. The dust storms appear to remain however.

        Reply
      3. Wukchumni

        I admire Mother Nature’s water works above me here on the front porch of the back of beyond, the engineering that went into it and all of her handiwork largely untouched by the hand of human in terms of alterations. Once it slips her bounds below me and is captured @ the dam, every aspect of where it goes from there is entirely up to our engineering.

        I’ve seen Sierra creeks & rivers when tepid & a torrent, and over time immemorial the water working in concert with her terra firma, carved out a one size fits all solution pretty much ready for anything flowing their way.

        Or standing on top of a watershed such as Kaweah Gap @ nearly 11,000 feet, where everything goes to the Kern river and eventually a pipsqueak or 2 makes it into Bakersfield on one side, and before statehood would’ve gone to the Kaweah river on the other side of the gap feeding into the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi river: Tulare Lake in the Central Valley.

        Imagine how important that basin (now dry) was for fowl play flying coach, and it still can get filled up a bit in crazy winters such as 1968-69 when the usual attempts to corral the liquid bounty give way to just getting out of the way of it.

        The King of California: J.G. Boswell and the Making of A Secret American Empire by Mark Arax & Rick Wartzman, is a must if you want to get a grip on water, and how one man did just that!

        Chased out of the south by the Boll Weevil, he discovered you could grow the finest cotton in California and made bank initially when the US Army Air Corps in WW1 needed his cotton for the outsides of their biplanes, and then an empire was born. Heck of a tale…

        Reply
        1. IdahoSpud

          On the other side of the Sierra lies the dusty and dry Owens “Lake”. Destroyed (along with a budding agricultural community by Los Angeles’ greed – a precursor to the devastation of the Aral Sea.

          I’d highly recommend reading “Water and Power” by historian/sociologist William Kahrl – a history of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power vs the residents of the Owens Valley. It’s also a nuanced title, about those who have water and those who have power.

          In the end, the Owens Valley lost its water, and gained a dry lake bed that produced arsenic-laden dust storms.

          Reply
    2. PlutoniumKun

      The problem of course is that we’ve been engaging in geoengineering for millennia, and knowingly for half a century or more. Every time you clear a tree without replacing it, or burn some oil, you are contributing to a very dangerous climate experiment.

      I’m deeply sceptical that we could get the climate models accurate to the extent that we could mess around with the upper stratosphere confident that we would know what we are doing. By any standards, any messing around with the global climate is reckless and stupid. The problem is that in the absence of any global co-operation, someone is certain to do it at some stage – most likely the Chinese, as they are already busy trying to increase rainfall in the Himalayas for their own purposes, without bothering too much if this impacts on anyone else. But it could just as easily be any other major power, or even some lunatic billionaire (some have already mooted large scale iron seeding in the deep oceans without consulting any nations).

      The problem though is that nobody really seems to be doing a reasonably good risk assessment of the various options. We may end up going for a high risk option rather than a lower impact, but lower risk one (for example, mass afforestation or my personal favourite, seeding coastal areas with olivine), by default, simply because thats the one we’ve developed the technology for.

      Given that we are heading for a cliff, its probably the least worst option that we are at least gathering data to see if there are any hail mary throws we could try to stop us going off that cliff at speed.

      Reply
  3. Lorenzo

    there’s to be a panel report by the WTO IP rights body (TRIPS) coming out today on whether to back SA and India’s initiative to waive ip rights for covid vaccines. I’ve been at it for some 10 minutes but haven’t been able to find an English language article on it (!!!) that isn’t less than 2 weeks old. so certainly not driving the anglo and international news cycle!

    but here’s an oped on it that appeared yestereday on the latam edition of El País

    https://elpais.com/planeta-futuro/2021-02-22/oh-mandela-dinos-de-quien-son-estas-vacunas.html

    Reply
    1. Lorenzo

      just went on twitter and there’s certainly some discussion going on but certainly nothing on the way of mainstream media coverage. just use the search term “trips wto” on twitter’s search function if you want to check some of that out

      Reply
    2. upstater

      SA and India, supported by 100 other countries made the COVID vaccine IP waiver request back in October (only saw reference to this in a recent letter to the editor in the FT). It was opposed by the US, UK and EU. Here we are 5 months later, and a report to be issued. I suppose the report will be pondered for another 5 months…

      This in unconscionable. Variants are coming out of many poor areas and the greed of pharma and “advanced” countries is stunning. We reap what is sown.

      Reply
      1. grateful dude

        We reap? Assuming you are demographically situated as most of us here are, maybe eventually we will. I think the we you mention is a somewhere-else they.

        Reply
  4. Alex Morfesis

    Certainly not a popular position to take in many circles… however, the notion the keystone kops running “the facade” stole the technology and stole the fissionable and are relying on the same state of the art capacity of the same broken down subs the Germans pushed off on Hellas… it’s a wizard of Oz thingee…Bobo frikynyahoo rose to power from his brothers fumble which needs to be whispered…the most amusing and amazing part is how on the opposite end of the spectrum, geniuses in the region want their own boomstyx…so how will the persians prevent new clear urr fallout from landing on their fellow believers…the magic shield of Allah ?? Special spices added to the yellow cake so only isrealis would be vaporized ?? And the rain would be glorious ?? They crew from the land of David ain’t got none but it is a sweet myth…now could they have bought some from their goose stepping former interlocutors who ended up in
    Afrikaanerland ?? That would be hard for some survivers of the Germans to accept…but not impossible…but on their own and untested… except for the south African test that has morphed into an Israeli test… exceptionally hard to accept…

    Reply
    1. Amfortas the hippie

      I enjoy James Joyce on occasion.
      well done.

      and , what i was reading while waiting for Links:
      https://beyondthc.com/covid-19-and-cannabis-2/

      so shall i abstain from my (every morning) half a joint a week before, and 3 weeks after my 2 part jab?

      (and, regarding “Jab” entering USingsoc discourse: when i first got netflix, i spent a lot of my downtime watching british TV…best cop shows on earth…and the language(es) were of particular interest…not just the variety of dialects of “english” used in the UK…but certain idioms.
      one such idiom stood out to me, as i was at the time fighting with disability/medicaid/ssi for a hip:
      “looking after one another”…”look after”, as in take care of a human who needs taking care of.
      “look after”=”take care of”, but there’s something about it that struck me at the time as almost sublime.
      ////////////////

      regarding weather manipulation, see Dune…all their planets had Weather Control, and everybody was constantly b**ching about it, too.

      Reply
      1. Lee

        I got hooked on British crime shows starting with Jeremy Brett’s Sherlock Holmes and then Prime Suspect. I recall, particularly when episodes of the latter were set in the north of England, I hardly understood a word of what some characters were saying so that I had to watch it with subtitles. This is also true of more recent shows: Hinterland, Shetland, and Vera for example.

        Reply
      2. R

        Amfortas, is “to look after” really not common currency in US English? Or is it a deregulated Texas thang? :-)

        I thought I knew all the minefields to LeftPondian communication (the uncomprehended fortnight, the baffling jumper, the ill-advised smoking a fag) but I never realised such a fundamental idiom was not shared.

        In British English, to look after and to take care of have slightly different shades of meaning:
        – To take care of something is a little more immediate and direct and also ambiguous.
        – Mobsters have people taken care of but they aren’t looking after them!
        – There is a sense of open ended long term stewardship is looking after, e.g. looking after somebody’s affairs, whereas taking care of somebody’s affairs has a sense of completion, for example winding up the estate of the dead rather than runnin g it indefinitely for their heirs.
        – Also, take care! can be intransitive whereas to look after demands an object of your attention, even if it is yourself: it is fundamentally an altruistic relationship, the MMT of concern.

        Reply
  5. jr

    Re: Texas Froze by Design

    “But this was impossible: you can’t cut power to hospitals, fire stations, and other critical facilities, or to high-rise apartments reliant on elevators. So, lights stayed on in some areas, and stayed off – for days – in others.”

    This opens a new angle for me: the unequal distribution of energy when it has to be rationed. More developed areas, urban centers for example, demand more and get more not only by virtue of political power or such but simply because of their infrastructure demands. For that matter, the demands of the electrical infrastructure itself. They may only really need say a gazillion watts to survive but the way things are wired they get sent 3 gazillion. (This is not in any way an attempt to absolve the criminals behind all this catastrophe, to be clear.)

    Reply
    1. JTMcPhee

      Go watch “Soylent Green” again to get a foretaste of what is certainly a possible future… Soylent Corp strips the planet of resources, most remaining humans live in desperate squalor but under the kleptocrats’ thumb since Soylent is about the only food source left. Meanwhile, Soylent executives live high on the hog, in penthouses high above the desperation. Knowing that the species is circling the drain, reduced to eating algae produced from the rotting bodies of the dead of the unwashed.

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        or Altered Carbon, 3%(brazilian scifi) or pretty much the entire Firefly franchise…especially episodes like “Trash”, where the elite live on fancy “floaty islands”, far removed from the hoi polloi.

        Reply
  6. The Rev Kev

    “Tanden’s path to confirmation looks increasingly untenable”

    I still maintain that if Biden wants his life long dream of privatizing Social Security to Wall Street in a so-called Grand Bargain with the Republicans, that Tanden would be seen as a road block due to her history with the Republicans. That is why she felt it necessary to delete about of a 1,000 of her past tweets. Good thing that neither the internet or the Republicans have a memory then. And I think that this is the true reason that she is being opposed to having the Office of Management and Budget position.

    Reply
    1. km

      I doubt that Team R would let some nasty words in the past get in the way of looting a pot of gold the size of Social Security.

      Reply
  7. zagonostra

    >Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen team up for new podcast

    Words strain to capture my sentiments. A hero fallen, youth’s enthusiasm such a distant memory.

    But O heart! heart! heart!
    O the bleeding drops of red,
    Where on the deck my Captain lies,
    Fallen cold and dead.

    Reply
    1. pjay

      Yes. Bruce joined Team Blue sometime ago. I just hope we don’t see him arm and arm with Bono at the next Davos get together.

      “Renegades”!

      Reply
    2. lordkoos

      Ugh. Reminds me of when I tried to watch David Letterman interview Obama. After about two minutes into the show I thought, why do I need to watch a couple of multi-millionaires joke around together and turned it off.

      Reply
  8. Watt4Bob

    Maybe thirty years ago I read an article describing the expense involved in casting titanium jet engine fan blades.

    The issue is that the casting results in parts with cracks, and so each casting must be x-rayed, have the cracks routed out and then re-cast, this is done repeatedly until it results in a fan blade with no cracks.

    This painstaking process is extremely expensive, and the article went on to explain that one result was a black market in less expensive counterfeit parts manufactured in Russia, and I think China.

    These parts were described as being nearly impossible to tell from the real thing, but most likely hiding defects resulting from less stringent manufacturing processes.

    Now consider that this article was written prior to our airlines moving engine maintenance off-shore to save money.

    Reply
    1. lordkoos

      Similar to the counterfiet airplane bolts made in China I read about several years ago — they looked identical but were not a strong enough spec for the forces in play.

      Reply
    2. run75441

      Some reading for you. During my trips to China, we went to visit casting plants for our facilities. We were in one plant which had developed a machine to tool the much larger ring bearings which they would not allow us to take pictures of. Some of the tables were large enough to put a medium size car on them.

      This article may answer your question. It happened with Rolls Royce Turbine engines for planes and the same part. https://www.theengineer.co.uk/rolls-royce-problems-trent-1000/

      Mostly I found Chinese casting to be of sound quality.

      Reply
      1. Watt4Bob

        Hoisted from the comments to the article you linked;

        I would be surprised if the real cause of cracking in turbine blades was not the result of oxide bifilms. Much is now known about these defects, and Ni-base superalloys are particularly susceptible. The bifilms are double films, hence the name. The two films have minimal bonding between them, so they act as cracks. These double oxide films float about in the original metal and enter the turbine blade during the pouring into the mould. These cast-in cracks permit the ingress of corrodents into the blade, so encouraging sulphidation and other corrosion issues, but most importantly, act as stress concentrators to drive fatigue.

        I believe this comment hints at the issue I was recalling, and the decades that have passed since I read that article which was clearly intended as a warning, have clearly seen a degradation in the ethics of corporate culture, witness Boeing’s recent history.

        What we were being warned against is the inevitable temptation to cut expense, which is often achieved by cutting corners.

        I totally agree that both the Chinese and Russians are capable of manufacturing parts of “sound quality”, this however does not preclude the possibility that those whose responsibilities are maintenance of these engines will not make mistakes, or errors in judgement in the attempt to find the most economical solution.

        Reply
  9. Neither

    Since antidepressants either didn’t work at all or only worked for six weeks to four months on the depressive men on my father’s side of the family, I’m not keen about the headline. Yves

    My own experience is that ONLY the MAOI’s* worked and boy did they!

    But doctors are loath to prescribe them because they require diet restrictions (eg. no cheese) and NO decongestants lest a hypertensive crisis.

    That said, I never had a problem even ignoring the diet restrictions except that ONE time I took a decongestant and then it was the emergency room for me where I waited 45 minutes expecting to have a stroke. That cured me of decongestants for a long time even after I stopped the MAOI’s.

    So in my experience, there ARE (were?) anti-depressants that work without a doubt.

    *eg. Nardil, Parnate

    Reply
    1. Terry Flynn

      Re MAOIs: I’ve already been honest before (some time ago) that my experience matched yours. Parnate is my “one” and psychiatrists in UK, Sweden and Australia have all been of FIRM opinion (often from decades of prescribing) that MAOIs just work; SSRIs don’t (beyond a few weeks) whilst Trycyclics are hit and miss.

      I struggle because my career involved lots of evidence based medicine. Yet evidence from huge number of practitioners I know of support the MAOI hypothesis (along with my experience). All I know is I have my life back.

      Reply
    2. Yves Smith Post author

      My grandfather were uncle are both old enough that I am sure they would have been given MAOIs. They were depressed before SSRIs were approved. Both wound up SEEKING out electroshock, that’s how bad it was for them.

      Reply
      1. Terry Flynn

        I’m so sorry they felt the need to seek that out. It is one of those treatments that kind of proves what I feel about so much modern medicine – namely that risky or potentially hugely beneficial treatments inevitably come with huge nasty side effects. We as society have been misled into thinking we can have our cake and eat it.

        Electroshock and MAOIs both work….. . But the cost is potentially high in terms of “non financial stuff”.

        Reply
    3. Jeremy Grimm

      I believe — though I know, and know of no ‘science’ to support this belief, merely personal experience and the reported personal experiences of others — that some drugs work for some people but not for others. I also believe drugs many work for a while but stop working as well at the same dosages. I do not know why that should be, and have seen no scientific studies that explain the diminishing effectiveness of drugs that had been effective for treating a person’s illness previously.

      However, I do not — perhaps foolishly — let my ignorance constrain my speculations. I have read and sense within my own body that a human body establishes numerous set-points that it works to maintain — homeostasis to give it a formal word. I believe there are diseases that result when body established set-points have ill effects on the proper operation of the human body or mind. I believe the human body works against drugs used to push some parameter to a better level for the operation of the human body or mind — while deliberately ignoring the complications possible in the case of coupled parameters or coupled drug effects. This notion implicitly assumes some organ or tissue in the human body works in some ways to counteract the effects of a drug. I suspect many drugs that are effective for a while at a given dose but become ineffective or ineffective without an increase in dosage — may after some time again become effective at the original dosage — although there may be some memory-effect in a body’s response to a drug — explaining how only some drugs might regain their former potency in effect. For example consider the ability of THC to intoxicate.

      Given the depth of ‘scientific’ knowledge demonstrated in considering masks for reducing exposures to the Corona virus — I believe a great deal of research into the probably varied mechanisms for maintaining a body’s homeostasis might be of great value in better understanding how to treat many illnesses. I seriously doubt Big Pharma has interest in such learning and would work against efforts to study the varieties of organs or tissues involved, and the population varieties of mechanisms for maintaining different body-selected homeostatic set-points. I might hope it were possible to discover how the human body selects some of its set-points enabling a means for more direct control. [Unfortunately DOD might find application for such knowledge if we cannot find some way to constrain DOD in its reaches.]

      Reply
      1. Brunches with Cats

        Jeremy, see my long comment at the very bottom of this post (sorry I didn’t add it to ongoing conversations; as I mentioned, it takes me hours to write due to cognitive impairment, and none of those comments were posted when I began typing).

        Although I didn’t spell it out the way you did, I do not believe, but KNOW as certain as certain can be, that personal experience in the case of antidepressants is superior to the “science,” because the state of the science is researchers looking for this marker or that protein, as opposed to how this s–t actually works for real people; or it’s clinical trials with carefully selected participants who don’t necessarily represent the patients who eventually will take the drug. Bottom line is that no one knows how a specific patient will respond to an antidepressant unless and until they start taking it.

        And then, as you point out, it can stop working, maybe to start working again later, or not. To add to your valid points, I suspect that one (emphasis) reason antidepressants stop working is that pushing the body to keep a certain chemical at higher levels depletes the reserves of the precursor materials. I knew a guy many years ago who thought it was B-vitamins that got depleted, which makes some sense. But surely there are others. Likewise, many external factors, including weather, daylight hours, seasonal allergies, etc., can impact the efficacy of antidepressants. Stress is yet another (which science tells us depletes B-vitamins, among other things), and stress can be caused by a host of factors.

        Research on receptors, proteins, etc., are by definition looking at the physiological aspects of depression. Anyone who struggles with depression (as I have, since an early age) is aware of the physical symptoms and knows you can’t just make them go away by seeing the glass as “half full.” BUT … we also know that external factors play an important role. Many years ago, I recall reading about a study, I think in the UK, in which researchers looked at depression in the workplace and concluded that employees are more depressed in dictatorial environments. In my mind, this is not any different than a political environment in which citizens have no voice — essentially what we have now, and we’ve seen how that results in deaths of despair.

        Now, I suppose the chemical changes in the brain of the poor mouse being forced to swim in cold water MIGHT approximate the changes in the neurochemistry of humans who have no control over their lives, but I don’t know how you’d prove the correlation without killing the stressed human and immediately dissecting the brain. Nonetheless, as I wrote in my longer comment, why not just ASK people? A chiropractor I was seeing many years ago criticized allopathic medicine as like trying to determine where a car has been by lifting the hood, analyzing the gas consumption, examining the tires, etc., rather than just asking the driver.

        Lastly, in keeping with your homeostasis theory, I believe that some people have congenital issues or have been damaged to such a degree by life events that their bodies can’t reach that stability without a artificial boost of some kind. Most NC readers by now likely are familiar with the Kaiser “ACES” study, released IIRC in 1998 and revisited a few years ago by the CDC. What they found was that certain adverse experiences and events in childhood correlate to shortened lifespan and higher rates of disease in adulthood, including depression and suicide. It simply amazes me that this information never got into the general population. Until the past few years, it wasn’t even mentioned in the VA’s clinical guidelines for mental health.

        Reply
  10. jr

    Re: The Guardian explores the soft-core market

    “Renegades: Born in the USA features the politician and the rockstar musing over their backgrounds, music and their “enduring love of America”, according to Spotify, which is hosting the podcast.”

    In my personal vision of the Apocalypse, I’m sitting alone in an enormous, empty theatre. Darkness. Silence.

    Like a sudden shower of rhinestones, glittering sparkles explode all around. Music blares and the curtains jerk aside. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s Hamilton II: American Smaltz!!

    A resolutely fluid ensemble appears, representative of America’s past as seen through the eyes of a Hunter College grad! A multi-racial/gendered/abled selection of American’s coming together to weave a new narrative because the old one is a bit frayed! And now the stars of the show take the stage!

    There! The McKloskeys whirl, weave, and duck through a carefully choreographed display of 2nd Amendment theatrics. Will they play a deeper role as the show unfolds?

    Look! Kanye giggles and dances, a madcap prance about the edge of our collective sanity. What does he portend?

    Lo! Suspended from above, it’s Elon swooping down, showering the crowd with WiFi signals like an angel sheds grace. His impish grin hides as much as it reveals!

    Now, center stage, the Demiurge, Miranda himself, appears. He gently rises a few feet into the air by sheer power of the hope invested in him, resplendent in a rhinestone period coat, shedding light and a faint scent of piety.

    Then, from the Gods, a warm and rich radiance pours out, framing the figures of Obama and Springsteen, living incarnations of the American myth, the ultimate Outsiders on the Inside, reclining in comfortable jeans and the satisfaction of the propertied! A Yang-Yin symbol of edgy whiteness and straight-laced blackness, a new veneer on the failings of the past, forged in the rainbow fires and quenched with the blood of a thousand screaming MAGA’s! The stars quiver, the Archetypes move, a Cosmic high-five thunders across reality!! The Boss reaches for a guitar older than time itself and and his voice tears ragged holes in the sky!! The light, oh God the light!!!

    Reply
    1. zagonostra

      You need to write the screen play for the next Springsteen Super bowl commercial…now I have to go floss my mind of this visual grotesquery.

      Reply
    2. jr

      Thanks guys, the thought of those two chumming up together was such a horrid confluence of images and ideas, a vile illusion, I think I had to expel it both physically and semiotically.

      Reply
  11. The Rev Kev

    “It Starts: The Cascading Financial Repercussions of the Texas Electricity Crisis”

    I’m not sure how much sympathy there will be in Texas that a foreign investor/owner might lose $250 million because of the deep freeze. That amount is a tiny drop in the bucket to Texans when you add up all the damage caused such as exploding pipes, water damage, damaged property, compromised electrical system, fires and god knows what else. I would hate to think how many tens of billions of dollars that Texans are going to be on the hook for and the total disruption that they will be living through for the next several months. Especially when you consider that so many people will still have to live in homes and flats that have been partially destroyed. They have my sympathy.

    Reply
    1. Neither

      Especially when you consider that so many people will still have to live in homes and flats that have been partially destroyed.

      Mine too. Too bad they all don’t have a “Little House on the Prairie” to retreat to for a while.

      It’s interesting how events seem to be conspiring for a more just outcome than our current system.

      Reply
    2. Amfortas the hippie

      cousin is now doing demolition in north houston(pipe-finding absorbed by someone better qualified, as the construction machinery creaks into motion)>
      16 hour days…in some neighborhoods, every other house has a growing pile of wet sheetrock, etc out front.
      enough work to “keep me busy as hell for years”.
      trillions of dollars in insurance claims…nowhere near enough adjusters, so they rely on the contractors to take pics and email them to the main office, where they are generally being approved(is there a fema backstop? idk.).
      he says the 2 big ones, state farm and allstate didn’t used to cover busted pipes, but they changed their minds after this(unknown where this came from)
      next problem, as we’re heading into March(it’s gonna be 80 degrees out here, today, 350 miles NW of houston)…is Mold.
      every time i talk to cousin, he says things like “it’s like 10 hurricanes”.
      local news reports(austin, houston, san antone) that the water is mostly on….except for folks who still have busted pipes.
      and power is back on for the most part statewide….except for the rolling microblackouts(few seconds, repeated every minute…something to do with reconnection, somewhere, i assume)

      while i grieve for the stock portfolios that have been irreparably harmed by this externality, for actual humans, this is far from over.

      meanwhile, back in the hill country hermit kingdom, my part of the place is back to normal….3 breaks…only one inside, by an antique window…all fixed easily with added draining capacity for next time.
      fixed trailerhouse break this am…also with an added faucet to facilitate pre-hard freeze draining.
      far flung faucets at all the garden beds…as well as the Barnyard/Mom’s Garden Branch of the system, escaped unscathed…because i drained it all.
      Mom’s is patched, until pipe can be found.
      perhaps she’ll let me drain hers prophylactically next time.

      Reply
      1. EGrise

        I have a coworker with a leaking pipe who literally flagged down a passing plumbing truck* to essentially beg them to come have a look at her home. They did because they’re good guys, but the situation in Austin is dire – no appointments available at all, one plumbing shop says don’t even bother calling until April at the earliest.

        * = After she told us this story, several people immediately asked her for the plumbers phone number.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          The same market forces that catapulted the cost of electricity from $25 kwh to $9000 per kwh will be in effect in Texas in the aftermath, albeit with out of state plumbers charging whatever the market will bear in an Enron turnaround, turning $5k jobs into $30k jobs.

          Question: Would it be difficult to harden existing Texas oil infrastructure & windpower to developed world status in terms of withstanding cold, or would they have to re-do everything, meaning nothing would be done?

          Reply
          1. Amfortas the hippie

            as for natgas lines and dials and such, i believe it’s akin to wrapping your water pipes.
            it’s the water in the gas that freezes.
            there’s also such a thing as a ‘drying station” that removes that water vapor in long pipe runs(we have one in mason county).

            and cousin estimates that he’ll make $300 grand this year from this one storm.

            Reply
  12. MDA

    I love the idea of taxing financial transactions, but personally I’d explore replacing the current income tax with a national sales tax applied to every transaction where anything’s exchanged for money. It could be the same rate applied to goods, services, stocks, real estate, businesses and consumers. I feel like if we just applied the same tax rate to everything, we could keep the rate low enough that avoidance would not be worthwhile. I’d love it if the federal tax code could fit onto a couple pages of paper. It might not be progressive, but it would be simple and objective, giving the same treatment to everyone and everything. After all, a dollar is a dollar no matter what it’s buying. On the flip side, policies like basic income, public healthcare, housing & education could ensure everyone has enough to live in comfort.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      I don’t think that a national sales tax would change much. Here in Oz we have a Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 10% which we have been using for about 20 years and people just get used to paying it. And those living in the UK pay a similar tax called the Value Added Tax (VAT) which I believe is about 20% at the moment.

      A financial transactions tax would be a better tool as it would put a small dampener on market volatility, be a more equitable taxation system, curb speculation, etc. but of course Wall Street hates the very idea of paying taxes and especially opposes this one-

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Financial_transaction_tax#Purpose

      Reply
    2. jefemt

      It’ll be fun to see how the Texas energy debacle will dance away from deeper discussions and possibilities of regulated monopoly utilities, definitions of utility functions.

      The possibilities that present themselves in the time of precipitous permanent job loss (A I),
      covid (or the pandemic du jour), climate change waxing hard, and social justice with shocks like George Floyd, housing, education, health care…

      My bet, TPTB dance it all away from the possibility of a paradigm shift – the possible plausible soft landing- quite adroitly…

      Have you ALL seen The Social Dilemma yet? Must see tee vee, 1.5 hours, there appears to be a free bootleg on vimeo, but you didn’t hear it here. (I know I know, if it’s free, you are the product…)

      Reply
    3. flora

      Sales tax are inherently regressive. The rich need to spend only a portion of their wealth to survive; they have many investing opportunities that do not count as ‘purchases’ in the normal sense. The poor do need to spend almost all they have to survive. So, the sales tax takes a larger proportional bite out of a poor family’s income than it does out of a rich family’s income.

      Example: If a sales tax is, say, 10%, and I have only $100, must spend it all buying food and fuel, the 10% of my $100 is taken in sales tax. If I have $1000, on the other hand, spend that same $100 buying food and fuel, only 1% of my $1000 is taken in sales tax. You see how regressive a tax is the sales tax.

      So, I’m not in favor of imposing more sales taxes, even for financial stock transactions.

      Reply
      1. JTMcPhee

        I like the sneaky non-sequitur and questionable equivalence there, broadly opposing “more sales taxes, even for financial transactions.” Sales taxes in many places don’t apply to food, and to other transactions that involve political choices. A tax on financial transactions is a policy choice, to add just a little tiny bit of friction to a clearly destructive and volatile racket. Given the nature of most financial transactions, the parties are in little position to argue “equity” and “regressiveness,” given the general looting and upward passing of wealth and money.

        Taxes help circulate money, as I understand it, and clearly are used as means of promoting or restricting human activity. And the bubble machine/casino that is the FIRE congeries deserves that kind of regulation. Lots of it.

        Reply
      2. km

        You can make purchases of essentials like food and burrito coverings and books tax free.

        Of course, that means that industries like the soda makers will be lobbying hard to get their particular products exempt from sales tax.

        Reply
        1. Pat

          I believe that depends on where you live. For instance groceries are not subject to the NC state sales tax, but may be subject to a 2% local tax.

          Every state and locality is a little different.

          Reply
        2. flora

          In my state sales tax on food – unprepared food stuffs from the grocery store – is 10%. No kidding. One of the highest sales tax in the country and one of the few states that tax groceries – Groceries – not prepared food.

          Reply
  13. fresno dan

    Independent probe accuses police and paramedics of wrongdoing in death of Elijah McClain NBC (furzy)
    The initial stop of McClain was questionable, as “none of the officers articulated a crime that they thought Mr. McClain had committed, was committing or was about to commit,” the report found.

    The department’s homicide unit “failed to ask basic, critical questions about the justification for the use of force,” and the Force Review Board review was “cursory and summary at best,” the report found. The incident wasn’t even reviewed by internal affairs, the panel said.
    ==================================
    With regard to the first point, that only shows the police involved were inexperienced and perhaps just too dumb to use the bureaucratic jargon that pretty much enables the police to do anything they want.*
    With regard to the second point, standard operating procedure….
    So, the result is standard also – no prosecution, no firings, no demotions.
    * about to commit, e.g., suspect was walking in the direction of a bank, either to rob it or pass a bad check, or maybe to apply for a loan to buy a house in a white neighborhood – he must be up to something

    Reply
    1. Amfortas the hippie

      and don’t forget “furtive movements”…

      –“…However, stop-and-frisk has been validated on the basis of furtive movements; inappropriate attire; carrying suspicious objects such as a television or a pillowcase; vague, nonspecific answers to routine questions; refusal to identify oneself; and appearing to be out of place….”–
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_stop

      i was nearly arrested(at sister in law’s swearing in as an american citizen, no less) for not being able to climb stadium steps after standing in line for 2 hours(i walk with a stick), and therefore sitting on a concrete half-wall…”furtive movements” was what the first cop said into his radio…and soon there were 10 of them, hands on guns…
      they thought i was a terrist,lol.
      in the end, they escorted me out of the building…after frisking and determining that my stick was a walking stick/medical device…and i sat out in the car for 2 more hours seething….other cop, patrolling the parking lot, told me not to smoke there.
      “welcome to america, sis!”

      Reply
  14. cocomaan

    Appreciate resilic’s comment on how the gray lady writes about Afghanistan. The New York Times has been pimping the Afghani war for half my lifetime now and the verbiage looks the same as when they started.

    The fact is that when an empire take sides in a tribal dispute that has its roots in ancient land claims, everyone loses. I don’t think anyone can convince me that the war is not really about just testing new weaponry. The humanitarian considerations are a joke.

    Reply
    1. Pat

      Sadly it may also be about protecting the opium fields. It always stuck in my craw that the WarLords were essentially awarded a seat at the table when we took over, and that surprise surprise the first thing that recovered was opium production. Then I realized that we never really cleaned up after IranContra. Sorry I have nothing but a deep distrust of our intelligence and foreign service and history to back up my guess.

      Just put it in the same room with my opinion that the Kagans don’t do diplomacy and Summers shouldn’t be allowed any near the country’s economic decisions.

      Reply
      1. JacobiteInTraining

        With all the blame going around, can we just take a moment to appreciate what an Empire can do with motivated troops, the latest technology, and the kind of courage it takes to face off against the veritable hordes of tribesmen who take issue with them and thus holding back the march of progress??

        https://www.indiatimes.com/news/battle-of-saragarhi-where-21-sikh-soldiers-killed-600-afghans-in-the-greatest-last-stand-ever-259310.html

        Errm, no wait (checks notes)

        ….sorry, wrong century.

        Reply
        1. cocomaan

          Hah, excellent post.

          wrt Pat’s point, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the US opiate crisis started in the midst of the Afghan war.

          My guess is that in ten or twenty years time, we’ll hear about how one agency or another, one military branch or another, one contractor or another, was running drugs the entire time.

          Reply
          1. JTMcPhee

            In Afghanistan, the game with poppies and opium and heroin is kind of like the US gov’t support for crops like ethanol and milk production and the like — got to keep it up, so the poor farmers can have something to eat…

            Given what the US spends, overtly and covertly, doing the horrific shit we do in Afghanistan, would it be more prudent to just pay the Afghan farmers a basic income? (Of course, the CIA linked warlords would just “tax” any such influx of poor-people wealth, to fatten their treasuries, pay their militias, and provide a steady supply of nubile young men to, ah, “dance” for them — as described here: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/dancing-boys-of-afghanist_n_548428 Those warlords have no problem marking people who oppose them for the CIA to “rendition” to the Gulag, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/close-the-guantanamo-gula_b_1207796

            The vastness of the corruption and debauchery (see, e.g., Epstein and J. Edgar Hoover, etc.) extant and supported by the Empire is of course nothing new in the human experience…

            Reply
  15. Steven J Kunasek III

    I stopped reading the vitamin D article once the author said he sided with the Brazilian study over the Spanish study. Even I, a total non-expert, spotted a problem with the Brazilian study immediately. I encourage readers to check out Jonathon Cook’s recent articles about vitamin D and Covid on his blog. Pay particular attention to Dr. Alex Vasquez’s harsh critique of the Brazilian study on youtube.

    For those not inclined to view Dr. Vasquez’s video, a few salient points:

    a) The bolus (single) dose of vitamin D was proven to be ineffective back in 2017 by a solid study published in the British Medical Journal.

    b) The form of vitamin D used takes ten days to become available in a patient’s body.

    c) The vitamin D was not administered until 11 days after onset of Covid

    d) The delay in treatment and the delay in the vitamin D activation in patient’s bodies meant that it took three weeks for any meaningful mitigation of Covid to be measured. At that point the study ended and the assessment was made that vitamin D was an ineffective treatment for Covid.

    Reply
    1. flora

      I agree. Adding: herd immunity with vaccination is reached when 70% of the population is vaccinated according to this WebMD* article. It’s going to be a while before that number is reached. Time to take my vit D tab.

      *https://www.webmd.com/vaccines/covid-19-vaccine/news/20210212/at-current-vaccination-pace-when-is-herd-immunity-likely

      The BZ study used the inactive form of vit D that takes day’s for the body to process through the liver and kidneys to activate in the blood. The SP study used the activated form of vit D which is active in the blood immediately. Apples to Oranges comparison.

      Reply
        1. PlutoniumKun

          I’ve no idea about Dr. Vasquez’s background or bona fides, but I did see that via a link posted yesterday, and his arguments against the Brazil study seem very well founded.

          Its disappointing that Scott Alexander (formerly Mr. SlateStarCodex) didn’t address this, as I normally find him a very reliable and fair-minded writer on medical topics, including those outside his own particular area of expertise.

          Reply
          1. Eustachedesaintpierre

            ” Does Vitamin D significantly decrease the risk of getting COVID? ”

            The above question from the article strikes me as ludicrous, as Vitamin D is not the equivalent of a suit of armour that is worn on the outside to deflect Covid-19, but rather deals with the infection once you have actually got Covid, by triggering the immune system to attack the virus.

            Reply
    2. chris

      I recommend listening to the latest clinical update from Daniel Griffith on TWIV if you have time. They discuss vitamin D, zinc, and vitamin C use as part of COVID treatment. They found some impressive benefits from supplementing with vitamin D. They also mention the problem we have with the current system that has resulted in little to no advice for outpatient therapy of COVID. That’s important because most COVID patients aren’t admitted to a hospital for treatment.

      Reply
    3. Dee

      I posted this comment to the Vitamin D piece on Substack (I hope I have found all the typos this time):

      I am reading this blog for the first time via the Naked Capitalism blog. As a chemist, I tend to focus on perspectives that include a biochemical view. Last fall, there were reports about AI studies that examined the broad array of Covid symptoms, and pointed to a bradykinin storm instead of a cytokine storm as a potential cause of the symptoms. Here is one magazine link that describes some of the biochemical cascade in the bradykinin system:

      https://elemental.medium.com/a-supercomputer-analyzed-covid-19-and-an-interesting-new-theory-has-emerged-31cb8eba9d63

      The article includes a list of potential treatments based on the bradykinin system, including the following quote:
      “Interestingly, Jacobson’s team also suggests vitamin D as a potentially useful Covid-19 drug. The vitamin is involved in the RAS system and could prove helpful by reducing levels of another compound, known as REN. Again, this could stop potentially deadly bradykinin storms from forming. The researchers note that vitamin D has already been shown to help those with Covid-19”.

      Also, I saw that one commenter here wrote about red light treatment. While I agree that low intensity laser light can be used to treat inflammation and respiratory problems, I think it’s possible that Vitamin D may be helping through a different mechanism. I and my friends and family have had good results with red light therapy for a range of indications. If you are curious, here is Dr. Fred Kahn’s blog post on light therapy and Covid:

      https://fredkahnmd.com/2020/04/28/bioflex-laser-therapy-in-the-treatment-of-covid-19-infection/

      He can’t promote the light therapy as a treatment for covid, but offers his opinion. (Spoiler alert: Dr. Kahn is a former vascular surgeon. I have been to him myself and he has very strong opinions about the medical system.) In a nutshell, when properly done using appropriate wavelengths, the light therapy triggers an increase in ATP formation, angiogenesis, and other knock-on effects including changes in the rate of DNA transcription in some cases.

      Reply
    4. Terry Flynn

      Thank you. Vit D debate worries me so much. Here’s a possible explanation: vit D has a “tiny” main effect on average. But the 2nd and 3rd order interactions (possibly based on the Mendelian randomisation findings along with factors that “switch on” genes – epigenetics) might be huge.

      I worked at Bristol Uni (big centre of epigenetics etc at turn of the millennium). I saw the original “evangelist for vitamin D” get the most unprofessional reception to a guest lecture in my career. I was horrified! Particularly when I moved to Oz and saw them publicly abandon “slip slap slop”.

      Basically combinations of things might make vitamin D crucial. Choice modelling – at least, the way I did it, concentrating on interactions – might illustrate why. I find it profoundly odd how a discipline whose whole “way of working” involving not getting distracted by main effects, is worrying them so prominently and not adjusting for things their opponents have hypothesized. Odd. It smacks of agendas.

      Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        Another issue with Vit D is that there seems to be a ‘sweet spot’ to maximise its benefits to health, which likely means that its only long term ingestion/exposure that allows the body to regulate its levels to the optimum. So a lot of short term studies may not be of much use in assessing correctly its benefits.

        I’ve talked about this a lot with the medics in my family and there does seem to be a real blind spot when it comes to vitamins and minerals. I recently sent my neurologist niece a summary sheet I came across on the impacts of some nutrients on neurological health to ask what she thought of it. Her reply was ‘very interesting, I hadn’t heard of most of those studies, but little of the quoted research has been published in the major journals’. This is true, but the point may well be that this is not a reflection on the quality of the research, but of gatekeeping by the major journals.

        Reply
  16. Carolinian

    Re The Hill on Capitol riot

    One Capitol Police officer, Brian Sicknick, died from injuries sustained that day.

    And the beat goes on, rumor and speculation wise.

    The article doesn’t have much to say about the real question which is not when the national guard was ordered during the riot but rather why they weren’t already in place. It’s quite possible, rather than some deep dark conspiracy, that incompetence all around is the explanation. This would move the conspiracy to a cya operation to pretend it was all Trump’s fault. We are used to those sorts of conspiracies at this point but the Dems will have to find a new scapegoat for all our problems in the future. Putin?.

    Reply
    1. fresno dan

      Carolinian
      February 23, 2021 at 9:39 am
      died from injuries sustained that day
      It really is quite something to see something not exactly known absolutely, with quite a bit of information that indicates it is incorrect, massaged and word smithed into cant.
      Sicknick could have died from the results of being in the capital hill riot, or possibly not. I think those amenable to reality understand it was not from a fire extinguisher though. Could it have been from bear spray or tear gas…or even a stroke?
      As I understand it, an official autopsy has not been released? One begins to wonder if Sicknick died of a stroke IF our MSM would be capable of correcting their narrative.
      I never anticipated that the internet would make truth more elusive. I think what I find most disheartening is that this is a simple matter of fact. Sicknick is dead and what killed him could be straightforward, e.g., a blow to the head, or more complex, a intricate interplay of chemicals, or natural causes (stroke). And yet, our whole society seems primed to shove Sicknick into a round or square hole narrative to suit their ideology…

      Reply
      1. cocomaan

        It’s strange to me how many people died of tangential causes at or after the event. How many riots have so many unrelated heart attacks and suicides? Weird.

        Reply
        1. PlutoniumKun

          My first thought on looking at the filming of the event was that I’d never seen a clash before between two groups of mostly middle aged men who seem, from the cut of their jibs, to subsist largely on donuts and cheeseburgers, so perhaps its not so surprising.

          Reply
      2. Carolinian

        Apparently there is a video of someone throwing a fire extinguisher at a different Capitol Policeman and that’s how rumors as news get started.

        Reply
  17. bassmule

    Re: Neera.

    From 2013, and still quite relevant:

    “CAP has emerged as perhaps the most influential of all think tanks during the Obama era, and there’s been a rapidly revolving door between it and the administration. CAP is also among the most secretive of all think tanks concerning its donors. Most major think tanks prepare an annual report containing at least some financial and donor information and make it available on their websites. According to CAP spokeswoman Andrea Purse, the center doesn’t even publish one.”

    The Secret Donors Behind the Center For American Progress

    Reply
  18. TsWkr

    The CNN article re: financial transactions tax sets up the issue terribly, I have to believe it’s intentional. It starts out by talking about the “pot of gold” that congress sees in the eyes of the federal government being “cash strapped”. In light of the Gamestop events, one would think the focus would be on how such a tax would regulate financial markets and foster stability, but that appears to only get a passing sentence at the beginning and a little discussion later on about how a tax per order would better target HFT.

    Later on, the article even repeats the financial industry assertion that “prices would be passed on to consumers“, adopting other anti-tax language while being obtuse to the fact that mom & pop investors don’t “consume” stock.

    The arguments against are increasingly looking like weak sauce, even when covered favorably. I have to think this tax is going to get at least a little momentum.

    Reply
  19. The Rev Kev

    “Whistleblowers: Inflexible prison software says inmates due for release should be kept locked up behind bars”

    Now there is a piece of software that Kamala could have used in California when she wanted to keep all those prisoners lock up for California’s workforce, even though their sentences had finished.

    Reply
    1. fresno dan

      The Rev Kev
      February 23, 2021 at 9:48 am
      Brings to mind 2001 A Space Odyssey
      I mean HAL and JAL sound close “Jailistically algorithmic computer”
      Dave: Open the door HAL
      HAL: Sorry Dave – I can’t do that. Why don’t you take a stress pill?

      Reply
    1. Lee

      I had my first good look at a wolf there many years ago. I was with my then 7 year old and his buddy. One of the wolves took a shine to the kids and danced around inviting them to play, as would a dog . It was quite something. But given the size of the animal, I was glad there was a fence between us and the wolf. That was the year that wolves were reintroduced in Yellowstone, to which we made many wolf watching pilgrimages, making note of and reporting our observations as members of the citizen science volunteer group working with Rick McIntyre and the Wolf Education and Research Center.

      Reply
  20. .human

    “Joe Manchin poses a threat to raising the minimum wage, even though because 250,000 West Virginians would benefit from the increase.”

    Fixed it for ya.

    Reply
  21. fresno dan

    So I’m thinking its time to look into getting a covid vaccine. I’m over 65 with all sorts of medical issues. So I went to the Fresno covid site last week and it had a “registration” tab and clicked on it, and it had spaces for name, age, etcetera. I filled it all out and hit “submit.” And than nothing really happened. So according to Fresno County and the state of CA covid vaccine scheduling, I should be eligible NOW to get the vaccine.
    So I do a search this morning, and there are apparently 3 ways to register for available vaccine:
    https://abc30.com/fresno-county-covid-vaccine-madera-kings-merced/9628647/

    So it looks like Kaiser is the closest one to me. But than it turns out you have to pre-register with Kaiser as well. Arrrrgh! So I do. EXCEPT the page says pre-registration. I fill it out, hit “submit” and ….that’s it.
    I don’t know if I’m merely pre-registered, registered, or what. I did a confirmation number. I didn’t get an appointment time/date. Will I? Should I register at multiple sites?

    Reply
    1. polecat

      In the meanie time, perhaps building up your immune system .. if you haven’t already .. with Vit.s D3, C, and Zink would be to your benefit. I’ve been doing such since March of last year.

      Reply
      1. Montanamaven

        Me too and so far so good. Knock….And I spray my nose with saline mist just before venturing out. And I don’t know if the “Fresh Air” ionizer that I wear around my neck works, but my massage therapist uses it and has a big one in her therapy room.

        Reply
      1. fresno dan

        Lost in OR
        February 23, 2021 at 11:59 am

        Thanks, but your site directed me to the CA site
        https://myturn.ca.gov/
        which has led to the present (Kaiser) fiasco for me. So I used the other option at the site which is the county run vaccination program at the Fresno Fair grounds. Apparently, the first available appointment is March 20, which I took.
        HOWEVER I am having some foreboding, because in all the standard vaccine questions I answered that I do have what could be an impaired immune system (my spleen was removed during cancer therapy). I just have this feeling that I won’t find out there is a problem until I am at the fairgrounds…

        Reply
        1. fresno dan

          OK, I just got another email about my covid vaccination. Apparently the FIRST one is this Saturday at 8:15 am at the fairgrounds.
          And the SECOND is Saturday March 20 at 8:15 am. OK
          Now, how to find out which vaccine am I getting???

          Reply
          1. pasha

            the pfizer-biontec vaccine requires three weeks between shots, as opposed to fourweeks for the moderna, so it appears you are scheduled for the pfizer jan

            Reply
            1. lordkoos

              From what I understand, the timing of the second shot is a bit arbitrary. Some are advocating to give more people the first shots and then delay the second in order to more quickly cover more people. The first shot alone gives 70-80% protection, the second ups that to over 90%.

              Reply
    2. fresno dan

      So after going to the Kaiser site (remember that the Fresno Covid site says you can get vaccinated at Kaiser and not be a Kaiser member, and so does the Kaiser site) I register. This than supplies me with a Kaiser link where I can to ….register again. Than a link to get a password. Than a link to START the process….which begins by asking for my member ID and password….
      Either in point of fact you have to be a Kaiser member or like a lot of computer sites that are so poorly designed they did not contemplate how to issue user ID to non-members. Whatever – to hell with it. A big waste of time and see where else I can go.

      Reply
    3. lordkoos

      I have no idea. I’m in WA state and I similarly applied and heard nothing for two weeks, then got a call to come in and get the shot that same day as they had an opening or cancellation. I was given the Pfizer, my wife got her first one two week later at a different location and got the Moderna.

      Reply
  22. John Beech

    MyPillow dude gets to do discovery on Dominion.

    Good news. I for one, would like to nail this down once and for all. And I’ll add this, clear plastic ballot boxes, paper ballots using a pencil as the marking device, and counted in public should be the gold standard. Add dipping your finger in that very hard to remove ink as the third world does, and if it were really up to me, a pin prick with one of those things diabetics use daily to put a drop of blood with your finger print on the ballot. Then again, I’m a known nutter for wanting the franchise to really mean something, and for it to be exercised only by those eligible to vote. I hate how I have to produce a photo ID to cash a check yet any idiot can get a ballot mailed to him without request, and after return via mail without proof of who filled it out, it’s counted. The Democrats did us dirty with this tactic, us as in all Americans. Moreover, if you’re glad Mr. Biden won using this as the metric for valid voting, then shame on you.

    Reply
    1. marym

      Despite some points of potential failure – human error or malfeasance – in our current systems of mail and in-person voting, fraud has not been demonstrated despite decades of unsubstantiated claims and the escalated version of such unsubstantiated claims we saw in courts and media for the 2020 election.

      Despite what we may think of the political establishment – D or R – and their motivations, the degree of criminality that would need to exist among the citizenry for fraud to have an impact on electoral outcomes has not been shown to exist.

      Mail ballot requests (in states that require them, rather than automatic ballot mailing) and mail ballot envelopes are checked for signatures and in some cases for other tracking and validation elements. Election officials and workers perform recounts, signature audits, and other canvassing procedures.

      I agree that potential points of failure specific to machine voting and tabulating have not been as exhaustively and publicly studied. I disagree that insufficient blood has been shed to ensure the right to vote.

      Reply
      1. JTMcPhee

        Who was it who said “I don’t care who marks the ballots, I care who counts the ballots”? “Here’s the problem with mail-in ballots: They might not be counted,” https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/05/21/heres-problem-with-mail-in-ballots-they-might-not-be-counted/

        And local elections boards and Secretaries of State have NEVER been known to “mislay” ballots, or use “questionable signature dis-authentication,” or rely on hackable algotech and computer-operated scanners to tote up the votes and report the totals accurately, have they?

        Reply
        1. marym

          As I said there are multiple points of potential failure in both manual and automated components of our current systems. Some would be potential issues even in a fully manual system. Boxes of hand-marked paper ballots can also be mishandled before hand counting has been completed. Signatures can be mis-evaluated.

          The issues are (1) a realistic assessment of the potential of fraud at these points and (2) how to mitigate or eliminate these potential failures without making it more difficult or impossible for people to vote.

          I’m prejudiced in thinking it’s unlikely the US will move to a strictly hand marked, publicly hand-counted system, so I focus more on looking at issues as they relate to current procedures, some of which would still exist in a manual-only system.

          For example, ballot rejection issues such as those in Georgia referenced in your link can be addressed with improvements to signature verification and ballot “curing” procedures. Though Trump and his allies continue to deny the election results, these issues were subsequently addressed in GA in a 2020 consent decree between the Republican secretary of state and Democrats; and GA conducted a signature audit.

          https://www.11alive.com/article/news/politics/elections/georgia-consent-decree-election-official-says-trump-wrong/85-db462666-11d4-46c1-97e4-18d9bf79e365
          https://sos.ga.gov/admin/uploads/Cobb%20County%20ABM%20Audit%20Report%2020201229.pdf

          Reply
      2. lyman alpha blob

        I will just point out that there was a lot more concern about the integrity of our voting systems from certain quarters four years ago when the allegations were that the dastardly Russians interfered to elect Trump, something that had no basis in fact. A quick search on youtube finds this video of a conference sponsored by an Obama DHS official who invited hackers to break into various tyoes of election equipment, some currently in use. It did not take them long – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HA2DWMHgLnc I have seen similar videos for the better part of a generation now, and have never seen this issue resolved. Every few years a new class of computer science students shows us how easy it is the hack these machines. Articles and videos on this subject coming from mainstream sources are not difficult to find.

        I will also note that in the above video, for some reason google/youtube did not see fit to add any helpful comments about election integrity as they have with more recent claims. Could it be because this video was from a Blob-approved source and intended to cast doubt on the integrity of Trump’s election?

        I do agree with you that there has been zero evidence to back up Trump’s claims regarding the 2020 election, just like there was zero evidence to back up Democrat claims about Russian hacking in 2016, but there is plenty of evidence that these voting machines can be quite easily breached in general.

        If the pillow guy just wants to engage in nonsense with Dominion in an attempt to get more publicity and sell more pillows (I see he claims he has lost big contracts due to his views, but he neglects to say how many new ones he may have picked up), well that is detrimental to all of us who care deeply about election integrity. But if he is really serious about looking into exactly how these machines work and how vulnerable they are, then I support his efforts.

        Reply
      3. Horlicks

        How do you feel about requirements that voters show I.D.? vs. say travelers having to show a vaccination to enter public buildings or travel?

        The two party system is the most brilliant scheme the elite ever came up with.
        When capitalism fails, the people can simply blame it on the party that they don’t like instead of on the system.

        Reply
    1. Pat

      Unfortunately too many people have not caught on to Hillary or Andy (Cuomo still has a good approval rating in NY) or the Kardashians and the fact that they are marks for them with little value except as a means to money and power.

      Reply
    2. Jeremy Grimm

      If Hillary actually does the writing or contributes to the plot lines, an analysis of the thriller combined with analysis of past events where Hillary was a player, may be of value for the information Hillary might inadvertently reveal.

      Reply
    3. Massinissa

      I hope the ending is when the main characters have it revealed to them that Hillary was a terrible campaigner and is part of the reason a low tier billionaire who is mainly famous for showing up on television managed to become President in the first place.

      Reply
  23. Carolinian

    Australia blinks in Facebook standoff. Or was it Facebook?

    https://www.rt.com/news/516325-australia-facebook-ban-lift/

    The company reportedly held talks with officials from the Morrison administration last Friday, not long after the PM insisted he would not back down to “some sort of threat” from a social media platform. However, Tuesday’s announcement has stoked allegations that it did just that, with observers online arguing the government had “caved” to the tech behemoth just days after the new code came into force.

    With both Google and Facebook privately negotiating payments it sounds like the stumbling block has been the third party arbitrator proposal.

    Reply
    1. ChrisPacific

      I’m not sure we are in a position to draw any conclusions from this as yet. I saw a legal analysis of the proposed code and there were definitely some problems with it that could have spooked Facebook (no definition of key terms like ‘journalist,’ very high default penalties like 10% of annual turnover combined with considerable ambiguity about what would constitute a breach and even when the code should apply, and so on). Facebook chose to go with “news services need us more than we need them” as the central theme of its response rather than focus on the legal issues, but if you read some of the later comments in the articles you can see the concerns.

      So, did the government cave? Or did they just accept that certain aspects of it are in need of fixing (which they are) and undertake to do that? We don’t know yet.

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        Or the cynical could suggest that Facebook and Google are throwing some coin (which they have plenty of) to connected local news organizations to make the whole thing go away. Apparently Google has done the same for media companies in France where this Australian idea is also under consideration.

        Guess we’ll see how it works out in the end.

        Reply
    2. Yves Smith Post author

      I read this as as more a truce and not quite a deal. Both sides appear to have made some concessions but there looks to be a lot of stuff to still be worked out.

      Reply
  24. lobelia

    How touching, Joe’s framers™ had Joe conduct a candlelit memorial, and lower the flag to half mast for covid-19 victim. A counter measure for not calling Cuomo out ( https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9283903/Jen-Psaki-dodges-questions-Joe-Biden-thinks-Cuomo-COVID-19-response-gold-standard.html ) – only a tiny handful of elite olders get to survive in torment free dignity, Joe?

    Gee Joe, too bad Obama and you didn’t have a candlelit memorial and half mask for all of the suicides, deaths of despair, and homelessness that were exploding on your prior watches, and still are.

    It feels more like the Tender Mercies of the Wicked than heartfelt comfort. Homelessness is deadly to the spirit and the body, Joe; where are those checks Joe; where’s that affordable healthcare, Joe; why have you and your bipartisan cronies have been steadfastly allowing the US Postal Service to be destroyed, many rely on their mail, Joe? Where is that Moratorium on forever war on global little people, Joe? Thou Shalt not Kill, Joe.

    The link (but trigger alert): https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9288901/Joe-Biden-remembers-500-000-COVID-dead-White-House.html )

    gotta run

    Reply
    1. FluffytheObeseCat

      This fury so many commenters on NC display in the face of Democrats’ performative falsity is one-sided, and suspect because of it. If it were coupled with an equal rage against Republicans’ braggart hubris and overt downpunching I could respect it. However in post after post, it’s always fury at only the Democrats’ falsity, as if they were alone in dumping on the American people.

      Yes, Democrat elites are willfully ineffectual. Yes, they have colluded at immiserating the previous proud and solid American working middle class. But they are – and have been for decades – secondary to Republicans in this effort. If Republicans change dramatically in the next few years and go all in for Hawley style right wing socialism, that would be lovely. I might even support it. However, the younger, very conditionally humane Republicans are few in number. Most of them, even the new young loudmouths like Rep. Boebert, are still devoted to downpunching above all else. Downpunching and self-enrichment dressed up with obvious BS about the working man. Who to them is solely exemplified by oilfield workers, not Uber drivers or paramedics, despite the fact that the latter 2 types of working stiffs outnumber the former by an order of magnitude.

      When face with a choice between sly, self-dealing liars who pander to me on marginal matters, or smug braggarts who don’t bother with even a modest pander……… well, I tend to choose neither, just like the bulk of our eligible electorate. However, I don’t hate the former more than the latter.

      Reply
      1. Massinissa

        Ah yes, we should be angry at the party that tells everyone its terrible more than the party that tells everyone its great but is actually also terrible.

        The Republicans tell everyone they’re going to burn the house down. The Democrats speak publicly about how abhorrent that is and then grabs their torch so as to help out.

        Honestly, is this even a discussion that’s worth having? I’m getting a little tired of the comments lately that are to the effect of “But the other party is just as bad!”. If I go on a rant about one party or another, do I have to make sure to add an addendum at the end to point out that the other side of the rotten house has as many termites as the half I’m currently discussing? It’s just getting a little repetitive.

        Reply
      2. kareninca

        My understanding is that lobelia is in the SF bay area, or nearby. We are all Democratic Party all the time here. It is also my understanding that she is actually homeless. So she has plenty of personal reason to criticize the Democrats and not really care what the Republicans are doing.

        The homeless population here is astronomical, and it has been brutally cold year. I feel terrible reading her posts; things are very bad here.

        Reply
      3. Late Introvert

        Two war parties owned and operated by the uber-wealthy, but one of them tells us they’re not. So which one is worse again?

        Reply
        1. FluffytheObeseCat

          “So which one is worse again?”

          Real simple: The one that votes en masse against a $15/hour minimum wage is worse than the one which made a feeble effort for it, but failed to fight hard enough to obtain it. Actively blocking a (barely) living wage is objectively worse than simply not fighting hard enough for it.

          Again, the fury is misplaced, and out of proportion in context with the spectrum of corrupt rulers we actually labor under. It effectively gives preference to those among them who will physically beat you to the ground over those who merely insult you.

          Reply
          1. witters

            “Actively blocking a (barely) living wage is objectively worse than simply not fighting hard enough for it.”

            Is it? And is it if – as you seem to imply – just a teensie more ‘fight’ would do the trick?

            Reply
  25. Jason Boxman

    Maybe I missed it, but for all approved and to-be-approved-shortly vaccines, none are 100% effective at preventing illness, so if someone does get sick, do we know if there is any detectable physiological damage, like for those who contracted COVID-19, felt fine, but have terrible chest X-rays, cardiovascular damage and so forth?

    This seems like useful information to have.

    If you can still get hosed, even with a vaccine, it seems like the best course of action continues to be to shelter in place to the extent possible, even if vaccinated fully. But again I haven’t seen any indication on this either way yet.

    Reply
    1. chris

      I can’t assess what risks you may have to consider, and I won’t presume to tell you what you should and should not be comfortable with regarding the pandemic. What I can tell you is that these are some of the best and most efficacious vaccines mankind has ever produced. 95% is way better than most vaccines and you don’t hear of people suggesting that you stay inside because of the risk of chicken pox or polio. Also, just to set expectations, as far as I know the measles vaccine is the only vaccine which offers sterilizing immunity to a virus.

      So as part of your evaluation of risk once you have been vaccinated against Covid-19, consider your behavior with regards to other viruses you’ve been vaccinated against and act as you see fit. The evidence based on PCR studies of vaccinated people who have contracted COVID is coming in and it shows viral loads that are orders of magnitude lower than unvaccinated people. So much so that we’re starting to see data that the reason why these vaccines have the ability to prevent spread is because infected people who have been vaccinated don’t produce enough virus to shed it effectively. If you don’t believe me, listen to the experts on TWIV and see what they have to say.

      Reply
      1. kareninca

        Could you provide some links to back up your assertion concerning the relative effectiveness of the coronavirus vaccine? Links to studies or journal articles that take into account the issue of the variants. Also could you provide links to back up your assertion that the vaccines prevent spread? Mentioning a podcast is not too helpful; an actual link to a study or a journal article would be helpful.

        Reply
        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Yes, so far there is no evidence they reduce spread, although it’s treated as a given and it’s a reasonable assumption. A reader pointed out yesterday that articles claiming that the Israel vaccination program had reduced spread merely quoted data from the clinical trials on vaccine efficacy….. which did not test for the impact on contagion.

          Reply
          1. Yves Smith Post author

            That doesn’t cut it. You made an unsubstantiated assertion and then provide a VIDEO and exhibit ‘tude on top of that? As in karenica should do the work that you are refusing to do?

            A link to a paper (note that pre-prints have often been found to be dodgy) or drop it.

            We are strict on standards of information. If you don’t respect them, your comment privileges will be revoked.

            Reply
            1. chris

              Ok. The link heavy post I submitted is in moderation. If it gets out, great. If not, please understand I meant no disrespect and was sharing information I have heard from reputable sources.

              Reply
              1. chris

                Perhaps this will make it through… this recent summary paper includes this promising detail:

                “In preliminary data reported to the FDA by Moderna, 38 participants in the placebo group compared with 14 participants in the vaccine group were found to be shedding virus in the absence of symptoms before the second immunization, suggesting a degree of protection from infection and, by extension, decreased transmission.”

                The data is coming. The peer review process will catch up. I’m optimistic that we’re actually in much better situation than has been feared.

                Reply
    2. Jeremy Grimm

      The Corona pandemic is a cautionary warning for the future. Whether fully vaccinated or not I believe it wise to continue to wearing masks, avoiding crowds, avoiding spending time in public spaces — though tempered with the knowledge that Humankind needs contact and touch with other humans. I do not know the balance point and besides, I suspect everyone must find their own balance point. I doubt the Corona pandemic is the last new disease — or old disease in new places with new capabilities — that we will experience.

      Reply
  26. Terry Flynn

    FWIW re covid vaccination in UK. So about 17m of our 67m have had first dose. However the numbers who have ALSO had followup dose is still lagging. Though stories from my Irish relatives who are old, heart patients and haven’t even been approached for 1st dose suggests the Taoiseach’s policy of maximizing “complete dose regime” at expense of coverage (unlike Boris) is NOT going down well with a load of (well off but vulnerable) relatives who may finally abandon Fine Gael and Fine Fail….

    I got (Astra-Zeneca) first dose today. After slightly slow start Notts is motoring ahead. With my practised eye on trial protocols I found no fault. Having it in a major park with lots of ventilation was added bonus. My card – to show at 2nd dose – doubles as a vaccine certificate. I suspect it’ll be coming out of my wallet before long to get entrance to somewhere….

    Don’t know if my prior heart condition or carer status got me ahead of the age 40-50 cohort but I suspect they may be called in sooner than we think anyway. I just hope my “auto immune gone mad” symptoms aren’t made worse by it… Mum has had heart issues. Still worried we all had covid in Feb 2020.

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      There is a little unrest in Ireland, but its not I think building up steam yet.

      There is some befuddlement at how it seems so slow with vaccination, but I think so far people are trusting the authorities – essentially, they are building up the groundwork for comprehensive rollout. I know from medical relatives that a lot of local clinics are being essentially rebuilt to allow safe, fast vaccinations. But if this goes on for a few more weeks, it could certainly build up to a big political problem.

      The Irish governments approach seems to be to try to avoid the mistakes made earlier, i.e. in giving a firm timetable about opening up for Christmas, which then blew up in their face. I think they are gambling that a firm line on lockdown will get levels down rapidly, with the vaccine taking up the slack, allowing for victory to be declared in the summer. They are willing to take a political hit now in order to avoid yet another wave that could be disastrous for them. The bit issue seems to be that the B117 variant is proving a nasty beast, its stubbornly refusing to die down as it should according to the models. We are about a month behind schedule.

      So far, people are I think willing to give the government the benefit of the doubt, especially as there is a pretty good trust of the health establishment so far. But I sense that things might start breaking after Easter, especially if people see better news from the UK on their TV and wonder why Ireland is lagging despite having done so much better earlier in the pandemic. Boris Johnson has been a godsend for Irish politicians for a year now – he has made them all look very competent. But that effect is wearing off.

      Reply
      1. wilroncanada

        I find it interesting, perhaps disturbing to a degree, that one of the major gripes of many people, countries, towns, or any subset, is the slow process of vaccination. Compared with just about every other similar program in the past it is about 4 years ahead of schedule. Everyone seems to be comparing themselves with some “other” that is being given some advantage. Slow, slower, slowest.
        Israel is waaaayy ahead of the rest of us–about 60% with one shot–and Palestinians don’t count. Great deal, to give up your country’s medical information to Pfizer in exchange.
        On the other hand, Japan just began to vaccinate its population, and they have an Olympics to prepare for. New Zealand is just beginning vaccinations this week. Canada has been getting stalled by Pfizer and Moderna, as were many European countries.
        We’re tired, we’re impatient, we want ours now, and to hell with Earope, the USA. Especially, to hell with the whole Third World
        After ME, we all seem to be braying, you can come next.

        Reply
        1. PlutoniumKun

          I agree with you, and have had long arguments with some friends in the UK over this. Leaving to one side the arguments over the efficacy of one vaccine over another, I don’t see any justification for a crazy rush for mass vaccination. The priority should be the most vulnerable first. A few months wait to both assess the data for each vaccine and to get the infrastructure in place for comprehensive vaccination makes much more sense.

          I think its noticeable that the rush for mass vaccination has been most pronounced in the US and UK, both countries which made among the biggest mess of dealing with the initial stages. Those countries which did better seem to be much more cautious, probably sensibly though. I can’t prove this, but I suspect one reason why many EU countries have been slow is that the medical profession ‘on the ground’ has been much more cautious about rolling out the system than the politicians.

          Reply
  27. John Beech

    Guardian Columnist’s Firing Over Israel Joke Highlights Paper’s Rightward Drift FAIR
    The last straw says the author. Apparently only wants to read that, with which he agrees. His loss.

    Reply
  28. Wukchumni

    An engine shortage is the newest problem to hit the F-35 enterprise DefenseNews.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    No engine problems with the Edsel of the air from Naval Air Station Lemon, er Lemoore above me, the first F-35 sorties here since Biden became President.

    Reply
    1. a fax machine

      It’ll be interesting to see if the computer chip shortage affects Raytheon (Pratt&Whitney’s owner) and thus directly impacts US defense. Maybe Congress will start taking outsourcing seriously once their ability to wage war is directly affected by a Chinese supply shortage. Such a scandal would be amusing to watch.

      Reply
  29. a different chris

    Oh boy — I followed this link from the anti-depressants link…. does this maybe explain our entire stupid country?

    I keep calling it the Idiocracy but maybe it’s not really our fault. Or more precisely, it’s not the idiots but the unexpected people (cough, medical industrial complex, cough) who made them idiots when they weren’t actually stupid to begin with? The US is at least anecdotally the most drugged country in the world, I’ve heard. Anyway the link:

    https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200108-the-medications-that-change-who-we-are

    Reply
    1. Terry Flynn

      I, though taking pharmaceuticals, might be on same page as you in that we (no doubt due to marketing) think we can have our cake and eat it. My attitude has ALWAYS been that a big effect comes with big side effects. Let’s stop believing the adverts that we can get the benefit with no costs.

      I’ve seen enough mental health specialists to recognise that a pharmaceutical that will actually DO something also means recognizing there are implications for other aspects of life. I successfully navigated these. I know some people have lives that just doesn’t allow them to. I feel awful for them. There are probably non pharmaceutical ways to help them….. But we don’t look for them despite enough evidence from many prescription drugs to give good clues as to what plants etc might be substitutes. It’s a mess.

      Reply
  30. TomDority

    People with extremist views less able to do complex mental tasks, research suggests Guardian (Dr. Kevin)

    Well that artical does not bode well – In my view…one needs to practice complex mental tasks to be able at it.
    For instance, if your job requires you to do complex mental tasks a lot of the time … you will be good at complex mental tasks — practice makes perfect.
    So if your education system is reduced to rote memory … study to the test… no child left behind instead of teaching how to learn, explore, and use ones higher mentaly complex systems to find source materials from which to explore new possibilities – then according to the study…you will get lots of extremist views that require require less mental tasking as required in complex mental activity
    Just saying that drawing a conclusion that extremists are a result of some inherent biological or genetic deficiency in higher order mental cognition just is not the one to draw
    The only true defense for our republic is an informed citizenry – or something like that
    Just a thought

    Reply
  31. Brunches with Cats

    Re: Antidepressants, this headline, the blog post, and the article on which is was based epitomize everything that’s wrong with psychopharma. Many thanks to UserFriendly for the link and comment.

    I wholeheartedly concur with your reticence about the headline assuming that antidepressants “work.” Beyond that, it’s ludicrous to make even preliminary statements about human depression based on studies of depressed rodents. It’s galling to me that researchers and the journalists who cover their amazingly awesome discoveries get all enthralled with a binder or a protein or whatever — “OMG, we’ve cracked the code!” No one is ever going to crack the code to depression or antidepressants by this type of lab research. Identifying a marker or a receptor might or might not lead to more effective antidepressants 20 or 30 years from now.

    Imagine what we could learn if some of the time and resources devoted to dissecting mouse brains was instead spent on studies of real, live humans with real experience taking antidepressants, and I don’t mean those carefully selected for clinical trials of a few weeks or even a year. Of course, they might have to stoop to talking to someone like me who barely remembers high school chemistry. The article was way over my head, and even the blog post lost me. However, what I do have is 25 years of experience on just about every SSRI on the market, as well as lithium and stimulants (more below, as this actually speaks to what could be a glaring fault in the article).

    I also have experience trying to convince doctors that the drugs they chose for my “profile,” based on all the research, didn’t work and that after years of being a human lab rat, the one I thought might work ended up being the only one I could tolerate. Subsequent research proved that it wasn’t “all in my head” or any of the various other arguments essentially blaming the patient. I actually had a VA psychiatrist tell me that my research was all well and good, but that I didn’t know how to read those clinical studies and should leave it to the “experts” to make the best choices for me. The choice he made — over my vocal protests and pleading with other providers — nearly killed me. I’m still dealing with the fallout, including aggravated cognitive impairment (in fact, if not for this, I would comment more on NC; long comments like this take me hours to write).

    What eventually started coming out in research, vindicating my intuition and personal experience, is that SSRIs adversely affect dopamine, some more than others. Of the two “starter” antidepressants of choice, citalopram and sertraline (Celexa and Zoloft), citalopram left me a total zombie and worse. As it turns out, its affect on dopamine reuptake is more pronounced than other SSRIs. I’ve been trying to find a study I read a couple of years ago (I vaguely recall it was published around 2011), in which the authors theorized that depression worsened in a subgroup of study participants on citalopram because of the dopamine drop, that they might benefit from an amphetamine drug, and called for more research. And more research there has been, proving that he — and I — was right.

    My point (for now) being that for SOME people, the most commonly prescribed antidepressants, those deemed to have the fewest side effects, can be downright harmful, while dextroamphetamine or Adderall equivalents, frowned upon as detrimental “off-label” prescriptions, too addictive, could help many people with depression if not for the bias against it, lag in research, failure of the current (i.e., previous decade) research to filter down to the clinical level, and the belief that we just need to persevere looking for that sweet spot in the brain of the poor mouse forced to swim in cold water, then wrapped in a nice warm blankie and iced.

    Reply
  32. lobeia

    @FluffytheObeseCat February 23, 2021 at 3:34 pm Re:

    This fury so many commenters on NC display in the face of Democrats’ performative falsity is one-sided, and suspect because of it. If it were coupled with an equal rage against Republicans’ braggart hubris and overt downpunching I could respect it.

    I can’t really discern whether you were including me in your response to my comment; if you were though, you should have read closer and noted that I wrote (bolding for emphasis):

    Gee Joe, too bad Obama and you didn’t have a candlelit memorial and half mask for all of the suicides, deaths of despair, and homelessness that were exploding on your prior watches, and still are.

    Which certainly includes the Trump Administration in the unceasing explosion of unnecessary suicides, deaths of despair, and homelessness. Additionally I wrote, re Joe, et al:

    … you and your bipartisan cronies have been steadfastly allowing the US Postal Service to be destroyed

    Much of that fury is from those like myself who repeatedly voted for Democrats, never voted Republican and never will; yet live in Solid Blue, Billionaire overrun areas where their lives and those lives of their loved ones have been totally decimated by Dem failure. If I were to share with you what has happened in my own small circle of loved ones (but I am not at liberty to, nor do I have the time or internet access to give that reality justice in a coherent manner), you’d be horrified by the injustice of it. Millions of us repeatedly voted DEM, and endlessly – quite loudly – to no avail whatsoever:

    …rage against Republicans’ braggart hubris and overt downpunching

    (your words in that quote) for decades, we did not expect to be done in by Democrats. How many times does it need to be stated that the fury is because the Dems pretended to care? We’ve already known – and expressed outrage for over half a century – that Nixon, Reagan, George H. Bush, George W. Bush, and Trump, didn’t care.

    YET, the Dems stunningly carried out those same Republican whims – e.g. Obama/Bidens’ validation of: Unconscionable Student Debt, but no jobs for the non-elite; Pete Peterson’s Cat Food Commission™ (for State impoverished: younger; disabled; and older people); Real ID™ (e.g. where the citizen poors without passports who have not paid for (and gone through countless failed hoops for) a Real ID™, can no longer take a domestic flight across a US state border, and may not even be able to timely bury their unexpectedly dead loved ones in out of state, paid for, burial plots; because any impoverished citizen without a passport is automatically treated like a terrorist against the elites); Electronic Health Records™ (sadistically worthless for the actual patient and those who love them; but excellent for the predatory Insurance Companies, and Big Pharma, et al); and countless other moral transgressions.

    Sorry, but, speaking of respect, I honestly can’t have respect for people being stoic in the face of others’ total despair at the hand of Dems. At this point, of course I – and millions of others – have more umbrage against politicians who’ve betrayed millions of their loyal constituents because those politicians did not care, than they do towards those politicians who were at least honest about not caring – and, in Trump’s case (which won him an election when he had just previously been Bill Clinton’s Golf Partner; with their daughters best of all freinds), at least acknowledged that the populace had been royally screwed. Is there really something hard to understand about that? Really?

    gotta run

    Reply
  33. lobelia

    @kareninca February 23, 2021 at 7:19 pm

    Thanks so much for your kind concern above. You may have thought it because I mention the subject of homelessness frequently, but I am not (yet) homeless. I do have an extremely good likelihood of it in the very near future though (despite having been in this apartment for nearing two decades, and despite having had a licensed profession pre Recession, and then cancer) and there’s not a day that the reality doesn’t strike fear in me, particularly because I feel moral responsibility for relatives in the area that are somewhat older than myself who’ve taken an unconscionable and criminal battering.

    I hope you see this, because I really wanted to clarify that fact but am unable to allow scripting currently (in order to nest comments) as my computer has way too frequently been crashing even without allowing scripting; and I’m desperately trying to treat it with kid gloves as I can’t afford to lose access. The only computer repair person I trusted to not download shit I don’t want (I took an extraordinary amount of time with my software when I installed it, blocking off Microsoft defaults, etcetera – and now have neither the time, energy, or wallet to deal with such things), disappeared pre-coronavirus; likely the crippling unrealistic cost of commercial rent in the area, which has decimated numerous small businesses pre coronavirus. The Opaque City Council seems to have cared less about all the gutting and forced renter homelessness (unlike other Silicon Valley communities, this place has virtually no renter protections) in favor of huge Tech firms.

    gotta run

    Reply
  34. kareninca

    lobelia, I am very happy to read that you are not homeless. I fervently hope that that continues to be the case.

    I read your posts and they describe what I see here.

    Reply

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