2:00PM Water Cooler 3/17/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Four minutes of Budgies!


* * *

At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart from 91-DIVOC. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site.

I feel I’m engaging in a macabre form of tape-watching. If we are in the eye of the storm, we are still in the eye of the storm. Last week I took a loot at variants, and concluded “at least according to reported data, the variants have not made themselves known to the health care system” (caveat: Covid is a multiplicative process). I promised then I’d take a look in a week. So here are the same sources take the same approach: A CDC map on emerging variant cases, confirmed cases in the states highlighted by CDC, and a comparison between wastewater data and cases and fatalies. Last week’s map:

This week’s CDC map:

Darker is bad. That’s not good. Note also the changes in the legend. Taking again the states in the top three tiers (which, confusingly, now start at 151, not 101) we look at cases for CA, CO, FL, GA, MA, MD, MI, NJ, and TX:

And hospitalization:

Houston, TX (as of March 8; I couldn’t find anything more recent) is known to have had variants increasing in its wastewater. Nevertheless, here is case and fatality data for Harris County (Houston) last week:

And this week:

So, I’ll check back next week. The case numbers from CDC are concerning; that’s how the multiplicative train gets rolling, after all. Perhaps next week we’ll see substantive effects on cases or hospitalization (and I’ll look into Michigan wastewater, too). All that said, I am so not sanguine. Premature triumphalism in the re-opening states, re-opening schools with CDC suppressing guidance on aerosol transmission, and the past “stairstep” pattern of decrease followed by increase, are all reasons for concern. Ditto Spring Break (although not on the beaches; in the bars, restaurants, and, well, motel rooms).

* * *

Vaccination by region:

Having engorged a ginormous data artifact, vaccination is now back on trend. • Early in February, I said a simple way to compare Biden’s performance to Trump’s on vaccination would be to compare the slopes of the curves. If Biden accelerated vaccine administration, post-Inaugural slopes would get steeper. They have not. The fragmented, Federalized, and profit-driven lumbering monstrosity that we laughingly call our “health care” “system” has not responded to “energy in the executive,” but has continued on its inertial path.

Case count by United States regions:

Before we break out the champers, we would do well to remember that cases are still well above the peak New York achieved early in the crisis, then regarded, rightly, as horrific.

Big states (New York, Florida, Texas, California):

New York leads.

Test positivity:

Having declared victory, are we just not testing anymore?


Hospitalization data is the best data we have, because hospital billing is a highly functional data acquisition system (ka-ching). That said, hospitalization is discretionary; they may also be reducing their admissions rate — relative to cases we cannot see in this data! — to preserve future capacity; or because hospitals have figured out how to send people home.

Case fatality rate (plus deaths):

Good to see those deaths dropping. The fatality rate in the West is where it was last May.

* * *


“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune

“They had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.” –Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord

More to come. –lambert

Biden Administration

“Biden says Putin ‘will pay a price’ for Russian efforts to undermine the 2020 US election” [CNN]. • Please stop.

UPDATE “Washington’s Anti-Russia Fixation” [The American Conservative]. “The Cold War is back. Many analysts imagine a new twilight struggle against the People’s Republic of China. More improbably, an equally dedicated band is treating the Russian Federation as America’s eternal enemy. Indeed, members of an informal Russia as Enemy caucus at the Atlantic Council seem horrified that anyone would dissent from their preferred program of military containment and economic impoverishment.” • The brain geniuses in the national security bureaucracy seem to be stumbling into a two-front war, good job.

UPDATE “Biden Says He Supports Senate Filibuster Reform” [HuffPo]. “Under its current iteration, the procedural rule requires 60 votes for most important measures to pass in the Senate. Biden, however, said he thinks the rules should be changed to require lawmakers to talk on the Senate floor in order to delay a bill’s passage — a rule known as the “talking filibuster” — which was the policy when Biden joined the Senate in 1973. ‘It’s getting to the point where, you know, democracy is having a hard time functioning,’ he said in an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos.” • So don’t repeat Obama’s mistake; this time just ram #MedicareForAll through so people see immediate benefits before the midterms. But n-o-o-o-o-o…..

UPDATE “The rocky road to Bidencare” [Politico]. “Any effort to pass a public option would be contentious ahead of midterm elections, and neither leaders on Capitol Hill nor the White House have signaled plans to pursue it so early in this Congress.” • Alrighty then.

UPDATE “How just a few days cost some small businesses thousands on their PPP forgivable loans” [MSNBC]. • “a priority application window was announced for businesses with fewer than 20 employees from Feb. 24 through March 9, assuring money would reach those that had difficulty accessing the program, including women and minority-led businesses. However, the timing of that priority window was misaligned with the other changes, which didn’t go into effect until the first week of March, just weeks before the program’s deadline at the end of this month. Sole proprietors had to wait even longer for the new loan formula.”

Democrats en Deshabille

“Liberal Think Tanks Outline Steps to Resuming Student Loan Payments in September” [The Intercept]. • Thanks. I’ll remember that. Maybe I can put my $2,000 check toward the payments. Oh, wait….

Sellers is from South Carolina, so I wonder if this is Clyburn throwing Cuomo under the bus:

UPDATE “Get ready for California recall to break the bank in 2021” [Politico]. “An effort to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom is highly likely to qualify after supporters submit their last signatures this week. The ensuing campaign will be a melee free from the constraints that inhibit other statewide contests in California. Donation caps don’t apply. Hundreds of millions of dollars are likely to inundate the state as the full might of California’s Democratic establishment vies with a concerted Republican effort to oust a humbled blue state leader…. one 2003 theme is likely to recur: an overabundance of candidates. Unlike in typical elections, there is no primary to winnow the field. A low bar to entry all but ensures that scores of candidates will surge into the race. As in 2003, the allure of being governor is likely to draw in not just politicians but affluent business executives or celebrities — some of whom will bring their considerable resources to bear. That means a self-regarding billionaire can saturate the airwaves.” • No, Elon. No! Down, boy!

Republican Funhouse

UPDATE “Trump encourages Americans to get the Covid vaccine” [Politico]. “‘I would recommend it,’ Trump said during an interview on Fox News with Maria Bartiromo. ‘And I would recommend it to a lot of people that don’t want to get it and a lot of those people voted for me, frankly. But again, we have our freedoms and we have to live by that and I agree with that also. But it is a great vaccine. It is a safe vaccine and it is something that works.’ Trump’s direct appeal to Americans comes as some of his own supporters have exhibited skepticism about taking the coronavirus vaccine. Experts say his endorsement of vaccinations could help alleviate some of that skepticism. Since leaving office, Trump has issued a short statement taking credit for the vaccine’s fast-tracked development and, in passing, told people to take the shot during his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference last month.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

It occurred to me to use Google trends to track “essential workers.” Here we see the first increase:

That, I hypothesize, is when the work-from-home PMC types in the political class realized they were going to have to order out for the forseeable future; I seem to remember a surfeit of articles performing empathy on or about that date:

And here we have the peak:

I’m guessing this peak was driven by the HEROES Act passed by the House on May 15 and thereafter abandoned, its work of “fighting for done.” Thereafter, interest in “workers” dwindles and disappears, to be replaced over the summer by Black Lives Matter, since the goldfish brains of our political class can only hold one idea at a time.

Stats Watch

Housing: “February 2021 Residential Building Growth Mixed” [Econintersect]. “Headline residential building permits declined and construction completions improved. The rolling averages improved for permits and construction completions… We seem to be seeing and bad month, followed by a good month, and then another bad month. The backward revisions this month were small. It is always difficult to understand the trends as the backward revisions sometimes reverse trends month-to-month. The nature of this industry normally has large variations from month-to-month (mostly due to weather) so the rolling averages are the best way to view this series. The rolling averages say this sector is growing but rollercoastering.”

* * *

Shipping: “February 2021 Sea Container Imports Significantly Improved.” [Econintersect]. “The import container counts for the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach rate of growth massively jumped month-over-month all due to the fact that the import data one year ago was impacted by the pandemic shutdown. Exports, however, are having the worst year since 2007…. On top of a trade war and the world pandemic, import container counts continue to surge. There is chaos in container movements with containers in the wrong place and shortages of rail cars to move containers – however, the container situation again improved this month – but there continues a shortage of containers and unloading berths…. Import container counts give an indication of the U.S. economy’s state and the data this month is suggesting stronger economic growth.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 58 Greed (previous close: 60 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 50 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 16 at 2:08pm. One year ago: 3 (Extreme Fear).

Health Care

More bad news on B.1.1.7. mortality rates:

One despairs:

A loogie so big it could climb stairs? Surely not. And the same thing won’t happen in schools.

If you attend your school board meetings, make sure they understand this:

Just because they’re “Always Be Closing” doesn’t mean you have to “Always Be Buying.”

Our Famously Free Press

UPDATE This is an excellent follow-up thread from David Wallace Wells on his Atlantic article from yesterday. The theme is blinkered American provincialism:

Department of Feline Felicity

Slightly NSFW. Sometimes the truth hurts:

Who cares, as long as they’re happy?

Zeitgeist Watch

“In The Future Of Collecting, Is Anyone Having Fun?” [Defector]. “So, if you’re a massive corporation whose entire livelihood relies on people believing in and buying into the intrinsic value of your product, how do you counteract this version of widespread consumer nihilism? You create a new market based around what people do have. And what do people in America have? They have a bunch of shit. Piles of it. Old toys, new sneakers, video game consoles, vintage shirts in cardboard boxes in some dead relative’s attic. America is a consumer culture and after decades of consumption, all the things that didn’t end up in a landfill or choking a turtle to death in the middle of the Pacific are now for sale again. The sports memorabilia market is currently valued at over $5 billion annually. By the middle of 2020, Stockx reported more than $2.5 billion in gross merchandise volume. Funko, maker of the wildly popular Pop! line of vinyl figurines, brings in hundreds of millions in revenue every year. ‘For me, it was always about the money and the value,’ says Chris Nerat, a consignment director at Heritage Auctions, the largest collectibles auction house in the world.” • Hence, NFT?

Class Warfare

“Atlanta Shootings Put Spotlight on Anti-Asian Crimes in U.S.” [Bloomberg]. • Well, no, they don’t. Opinion makers do that (and not for Anti-Asian crimes like this one, either). I will skip the moral panic over hatred for Asians, which conveniently erases the deaths of two white women, and the injury of a Hispanic man. After a brief perusal of the latest story, where I saw the phrase “youth minister”, and remembering the moral panic about the Orlando shootings, which were instantly and universally framed as hatred for gays, and later turned out — after all the candles were lit and the fundraisers were closed — to be no such thing, I commented to Yves (verbally, sadly) that “the dude went to one too many Bible Camps.” And in fact, now we have that emerging narrative:

I’m not a fan of shootings. I’m also not a fan of monocausal explanations, especially instant ones, especially identity-based ones. It’s not surprising that a — let me seek a non-sexist synonym for “witches brew” — hell-broth of religion, religion and sex, ethnicity, a pandemic, and ready access to guns should, stochastically, yield a lethal result. (And in each of those factors, there is plenty of “hate” to be found.) I’d also comment on life’s little ironies: Watching good liberals tiptoe around what the profession of the murdered Asian women might actually have been — and also, of course, what the families and children they were likely supporting, here or back home, feel — and the anti-China war fever being worked up by many of those same good liberal goodthinkers. Chinese in China are Asian, after all. Or to put it less kindly:

And speaking of identity politics–

“The Identity Hoaxers” [The Atlantic]. • Yves ran this link this morning, and if you haven’t read it, you should. And for a chaser, read Adolph Reed’s 2015 piece — as usual, Reed was ahead of the game — From Jenner to Dolezal: One Trans Good, the Other Not So Much. And speaking of Adolph Reed, Reed and Walter Been Michaels wrote this in 2020:

In fact, if you look at how white and black wealth are distributed in the U.S., you see right away that the very idea of racial wealth is an empty one. The top 10 percent of white people have 75 percent of white wealth; the top 20 percent have virtually all of it. And the same is true for black wealth. The top 10 percent of black households hold 75 percent of black wealth.

That means, as Matt Bruenig of the People’s Policy Project recently noted, “the overall racial wealth disparity is driven almost entirely by the disparity between the wealthiest 10 percent of white people and the wealthiest 10 percent of black people.”

I have poorly translated this into a bad diagram of “Equity” as I take the writers of the “Black Lives Matter Curriculum” in Evanston to understand it:

Notice that the “class structure” (as determined by ownership of capital vs. selling your labor power to survive) on the horizontal plane is identity pre- and post-equity; 90% of all capital is held at the tippy-tippy-top. Only the proportion of colors — pink, black, and yellow — changes at each level. Is that equity? I think not, but it may take a generation or two for the experiment to fail. Which is, no doubt, why social movements like Black Lives Matter are so beloved at, for example, Davos. So it goes.

* * *

“Amazon Has Made Rich Cities Richer—and Also More Dystopian” (interview) [Alec MacGillis, Wired]. “I chose [Amazon] because it’s also a huge contributor and explanation for regional inequality, because while the internet was supposed to allow us to disperse and be anywhere, it has, in fact, done the opposite. There are well-documented agglomeration effects of the innovation economy—you want proximity to the other engineers and programmers and, not to mention, the venture capitalists—but the bigger reason for Big Tech’s role in regional inequality is more about economic policy. So much of our geographic concentration is tied to market concentration. The business, commerce, and wealth that used to be spread all across the country, in various industries, are now increasingly dominated by a few companies that reside in certain places. It happens with media ad revenue, which used to be spread everywhere among newspapers and local TV and radio but is now increasingly hoovered up in the form of digital ad revenues to the two companies [Facebook and Google] that control 60 percent of that market, that both reside in the Bay Area. And retail that used to be spread all around the country, from mom-and-pops up to regional department stores, is now increasingly dominated by a company that resides in Seattle. And so, that was how I arrived at Amazon.

“Report: So You Want to Do an Infrastructure Project” [Niskanen Center]. “Over the last few generations, American infrastructure construction costs have exploded, even as many peer countries spend a fraction of what the U.S. does on the same bridge or tunnel or high-speed rail line. The difference in costs often boils down to domestic state capacity: bureaucracies in East Asia and Continental Europe tend to be better-staffed and more empowered to make professional decisions. The details are naturally more complicated, but the pattern is nonetheless clear: the countries with the lowest infrastructure costs are also the countries where the state acts swiftly, with mechanisms that limit the lag between financing and construction. If infrastructure is truly on the agenda, we must not be afraid to draw lessons from how other countries maximize their bang for their buck, and thus to avoid repeating the mistakes made in our own recent history.” • Remember Obama’s “shovel ready” projects during his laughably inadequate recovery? “Shovel ready” is another way of saying “not requiring state capacity.”

* * *

“Parents’ emotional trauma may change their children’s biology. Studies in mice show how” [Scien ce]. “[T]oday the hypothesis that an individual’s experience might alter the cells and behavior of their children and grandchildren has become widely accepted. In animals, exposure to stress, cold, or high-fat diets has been shown to trigger metabolic changes in later generations. And small studies in humans exposed to traumatic conditions—among them the children of Holocaust survivors—suggest subtle biological and health changes in their children. The implications are profound. If our experiences can have consequences that reverberate to our children or our children’s children, that’s a powerful argument against everything from smoking to immigration policies that split families. ‘This is really scary stuff. If what your grandmother and grandfather were exposed to is going to change your disease risk, the things we’re doing today that we thought were erased are affecting our great-great-grandchildren,’ says Michael Skinner, a biologist at Washington State University in Pullman. Skinner’s own research in animals suggests changes to the epigenome, a swirl of biological factors that affect how genes are expressed, can be passed down through multiple generations. If trauma can trigger such epigenetic changes in people, the alterations could serve as biomarkers to identify individuals at greater risk for mental illness or other health problems—and as targets for interventions that might reverse that legacy.” • I ran this when it appeared in 2019, and perhaps after a pandemic my reaction would be more forceful than it was then. We know that capital can be inherited; that’s what estates are for. And we know that inherited capital confers on its owners, all other things being equal, the ability to accumulate more capital. It seems that it is also possible, through epigenetics, to confer an inability to accumulate capital, for example through health problems, mortality, etc., not for individuals, but for classes.

“Philosophical Intuitions Are Surprisingly Stable Across both Demographic Groups and Situations” (PDF) [Joshua Knobe, Filozofia Nauki]. One of the most elusive 56-page philosophical treatises I have ever skimmed. From the abstract: “The evidence now suggests that philosophical intuitions are surprisingly stable. Indeed, the available evidence suggests that philosophical intuitions are surprisingly stable across both demographic groups and situations. To begin with, we face an empirical question as to why people’s intuitions are so stable. My only answer is that I have no idea. I will be discussing a whole series of experiments in which researchers manipulate some factor and find that intuitions are remarkably unaffected. In every single one of the experiments reviewed below, I would have mistakenly predicted that the manipulation would have a large effect on intuitions, and even now that I know the actual results, I am completely confused about how to explain them.” • If I’m getting at what the author is on about, they’re treating the known fact that philosophical problems that have gone unresolved for thousands of years as in itself a philosophical problem. Which is interesting. Surely we have at least one knowledgeable philosopher in the commentariat who can take an informed view?

News of the Wired


Kill it with bananas:

Except the video is from Boston Dynamics so that’s what they want you to think..

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (Carla):

Carla writes: “Cleveland Metroparks, October 7, 2020.” Light in a clearing!

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Mikel

    Any Cuomo or Newsome Presidential aspirations are hitting barriers with this Dem administration, more so than with a Repub administration.

    1. Fern

      Here’s an interesting angle:

      “New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) angered now-President Biden’s campaign in 2020 over his speech at the Democratic National Convention, which aides considered to be self-aggrandizing.

      According to the new book “Lucky: How Joe Biden Barely Won the Presidency,” Cuomo did not deliver his recording of his speech until the day he was set to appear and used much of his remarks to tout his response to the coronavirus pandemic rather than praise Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee.

      When Biden’s aides asked him to refilm the speech, Cuomo refused, according to the book authored by The Hill’s Amie Parnes and NBC News’s Jonathan Allen.

      In his speech, Cuomo did not mention Biden until the final 10 seconds of his five-minute time slot.”


  2. NotTimothyGeithner

    Re: Sellers

    I don’t know if its Clyburn related as much as he did make a sexist insult that was totally inappropriate and random on behalf of Cuomo, an individual who has been a well known bully and right wing apparatik for decades if not publicly known.

    Stories about Albany have been around for even longer than the Cuomos. Everyone in politics knew. Its just like Weinstein.

    For those who don’t remember when Cuomo was murdering the elderly on a grand scale:

    Y’all almost had Cynthia Nixon. This is why experience matters.” -Bakari Sellers, March 17, 2020

    Its a particularly cowardly action. He’s playing to bs about forgiveness while saying further action isn’t needed. He knew what Cuomo is.

    1. Pat

      Still proud to have voted for her, and to have written in Teachout for the General.

      It isn’t just that it was an open secret, if you actually watched and paid attention to those endless press conferences and his choices, well he made calm but demeaning remarks to any question not immediately deferential to his choices, even when they were questionable. And the nursing home fiasco was not the only choice that deserved examination. My own opinion is that either Nixon and especially Teachout were as capable and would have done as well or better.

      But he contrasted so well to the bad orange man…

      1. Tom Doak

        Contrasted? They both sold themselves as “the strong leader we need”, just to different sides.

  3. Mikel

    Re: :Atlanta Shootings Put Spotlight on Anti-Asian Crimes in U.S.” [Bloomberg].

    There were also reports that he had plans on attacking some porn hub in Florida or somewhere.
    That also seems to missing from alot of the analysis.

  4. Carolinian

    Re Biden/Putin/CNN–According to Taibbi fewer viewers are watching this stuff on CNN now that the Orange One has departed. Plus there’s that whole embarrassing Cuomo crime family thing. TCM a much better cable choice.

    1. fresno dan

      March 17, 2021 at 2:20 pm
      I saw Rain with Joan Crawford last night, and I think it provides a better insight into our latest mass shooting than all the CNN pundits…

      1. Carolinian

        Pauline Kael said Joan Crawford had “a gash for a mouth” but think she was referring more to the later Crawford. Joan was considered quite the hottie circa Rain.

      2. ambrit

        From a story by W Somerset Maugham, it is indeed a lesson in Terran human nature.
        Look into Maugham’s career. Many of his books were based on his real experiences. Such as, he was in St. Petersburg, working for British Intelligence during the October Revolution. I like his “The Razor’s Edge” and even liked the Bill Murray film version of it. Oh, well.
        Maugham understood sexual repression very well, from the inside as it were.

        1. fresno dan

          March 17, 2021 at 4:20 pm
          I read two Maugham books, Of Human Bondage and another, which I do not remember. But Of Human Bondage had a profound affect on my view of human relations. As Rain shows, attraction, desire, need, and love too can destroy a person. It is amazing to me that as many people reach old age as they do…

          1. ambrit

            It’s amazing that anybody reaches “old age.”
            I can attest to the fact that it is often pure blind luck that we survive some of the imbroglios we get ourselves into.
            [The search parties have not triangulated the location of my Pink Bunny Slippers yet. Our best defense against the depredations of the Security State is basic institutional incompetence. Keep the Fred flag flying!]

      1. Pat

        I haven’t checked MSNBC’s ratings but I assume they have also dropped.

        That would just double down on that damn shame.

        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          I looked at a chart yesterday, maybe here, and what I noticed was that the most polarizing shows, those on MSNBC and Fox, were dropping off the least. Anderson Cooper was way down.

          As Matt Taibbi has been saying, people watch those channels for strokes, not for news.

  5. Jason Boxman

    So some news from MA, everyone is eligible as of 19 April (16+). Clearly Baker is angling to beat Biden’s ask on vaccine availability.

    But can we vaccinate enough people quickly enough?

    Another grand experiment!

    1. Carla

      Yesterday Gov. DeWine announced that all Ohioans 16 and over in this state will be vaccine-eligible on March 29. I don’t know what the rate of vaccine refusal is in this state, though. Most likely higher than in Massachusetts.

    2. Tom Doak

      Michigan, too. I think it’s a new form of virtue signaling – we were among the first to lower the age of eligibility! – especially in states where the governors have taken a beating over their more stringent lockdowns and rules last year. But that’s a short term fix – it will succeed or fail based on how well they execute the program.

    3. Fern

      In my experience following various local neighborhood blogs, every time they add a new category to the vaccine priority list before they have enough vaccine on hand, it’s members of the professional/managerial class who manage to snag the appointments, pushing out the elderly/most vulnerable.

      1. John Anthony La Pietra

        Maybe that’s part of why there have been so many peaks and taperings-off in vaccination counts/rates. . . .

      2. John Anthony La Pietra

        Sorry not to have expressed myself more clearly. (I’m up too late again.) I thought I was agreeing with the “house position that there hasn’t been a systemic improvement with the new administration.

        The image I was getting from Fern’s comment was one of supplies of vaccines not keeping up with — not demand, but the over-optimistic expansion of the “market” of authorized eligibles. So rates might go up as takers in the best position to take doses quickly use them up quickly; then rates would sag again as those who didn’t connect with the jab have to wait for the next batch of doses — which aren’t ramping up, whether the supply chain issues are with completed vaccines, ingredients, logistics, or what-have-you.

        I hope that came out better than the first try. (Not going to last for a third.)

  6. fresno dan

    “Atlanta Shootings Put Spotlight on Anti-Asian Crimes in U.S.” [Bloomberg]. • Well, no, they don’t. Opinion makers do that (and not for Anti-Asian crimes like this one, either). I will skip the moral panic over hatred for Asians, which conveniently erases the deaths of two white women, and the injury of a Hispanic man. After a brief perusal of the latest story, where I saw the phrase “youth minister”, and remembering the moral panic about the Orlando shootings, which were instantly and universally framed as hatred for gays, and later turned out — after all the candles were lit and the fundraisers were closed — to be no such thing, I commented to Yves (verbally, sadly) that “the dude went to one too many Bible Camps.” And in fact, now we have that emerging narrative:
    My initial (and with the caveat that it is still early) thought on the matter was that this had more to do with sex than race. When I saw a photograph of the alleged perpetrator I was almost sure of it.
    By sheer coincidence, I saw the 1932 movie RAIN with Joan Crawford last night…

    1. cocomaan

      I did a whole podcast series on the Korean American experience during the LA riots last year, right around the events of last summer.

      At the time, 1992, the media portrayed it as black on asian violence. They wrapped in the trial of Soon Ja Du, who had shot a young black girl to death in 1991, molding the narrative of that trial into the violence of the day. Easy to do.

      Except as you pick apart the narrative and talk to people who were there that day (reporters, activists, Korean Americans themselves), you find that the rioters who entered K-town were remembered by people on the street as hispanic, not black. Many whites came in from outside the city to raise a ruckus. For Korean Americans, the media treatment was unfair and only fanned the flames.

      The media is awful and commits unforgivable sins of misinformation daily. It’s not an accident. A system is what it does, not what it says it is.

      1. JBird4049

        It’s also laziness for if there is a convenient narrative that sorta, kinda fits the facts that is used instead of a different, but correct, narrative. Plus, the convenient narrative is not only easier to use, it is more likely to trigger the outrage machine and getting the station those sweet, sweet ad dollars.

        1. fresno dan

          March 17, 2021 at 6:17 pm

          I have no Netflix movie to watch tonight, so I flip through the channels, one being MSNBC, and yes, the crime is a hate crime. Well, I would say any crime of violence is hate filled, but the motivation of the perpetrator is of course racial. It is just amazing to me how the facts and common sense would at least permit the supposition of a non racial motivation – but NO. That square peg will be forced into that round hole.

  7. Alex

    When somebody points out that Covid is empirically about as lethal as the flu, fatality rate is irrelevant you psychopath.
    But when a variant is measured as slightly more lethal than the original strain, the sky is falling.
    And B.1.1.7’s increased transmissibility, as I’ve said before, has had ample opportunity to demonstrate its relevance. I remain unimpressed.

    1. josh

      Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. This is why we lose the comments section.

      1. voteforno6

        Oh, I don’t know, over 500K (and counting) people have died in the U.S. over the past year from COVID, even with the mitigation measures that have been undertaken, while the flu has practically disappeared, so obviously they’re about the same, right?

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          This is an excess deaths number over actuarial predictions. Many people would have died of the flu this past year, which didn’t hit because of masks and other precautions, who wound dying of Covid. The number of dead due to Covid could be higher.

          1. Alex

            If you have a symptomatic case of the flu, and an asymptomatic Covid infection that triggers a positive PCR test, which actuarial bucket do you go in?
            From Links this morning, CFR seems to go from 0.2% to 0.4% with that variant. OMG!!! Circle the wagons, fellow PMC’ers.
            The ONLY value provided by a case count curve is as early warning for an increase in a metric that does have some relevance to an actual human being. How’s that been working out?

            1. JBird4049

              Seems like an extra half a million dead from any cause is significant and it also overwhelmed the hospitals of several countries and states. In this cause, our good friend Covid is probably the cause. So why the intense effort to down grade it?

              1. ambrit

                Downgrading Covid as a Prime Malignancy lets the society off of the hook for the responsibility for enforcing serious public health measures to combat it. It also ‘frees up’ resources otherwise used to fight the Pandemic for rent seeking endeavours.
                Basic cause of Covid Denialism; Greed.
                Don’t forget that Big Pharma is only a sub-set of the total economy. Dog fights over resource allocation are happening now. As is canonical in the Neo-Liberal Dispensation, the Public is dead last.

            2. CuriosityConcern

              I won’t quibble with you that .2 and .4% are low(yet both higher than flu mortality), but if you survive regular COVID and then catch the next strain, is your survival rate still 99.8%? What if we combine the succesive risks together? What if we start talking about potential long term organ damage? Long term societal costs of vaccination development and drives?
              Call me Cassandra if you must, but playing fast and loose on a worldwide scale is a bet you better be damn sure about.

          2. Yves Smith

            I mentioned that in Alabama, in April-May last year, we had negative excess deaths because of the fall in car accidents due to lockdowns.

    2. John

      Yes indeed … COVID in the USA is proving to be about as lethal as the 1918-1919 flu when 600,000+ died and we are headed in that direction. I track the statistics on Worldometer which at the moment has the death toll as 549,000+.

      SARS2-COV19 is acting like (gasp) a virus and mutating. Being brand new, as far as we know, it is popping out new strains with abandon. Some of those are more lethal than the original in one way or another and some, I imagine are not.

      To me the important question is, are we going to be dealing with this virus as an endemic problem for the foreseeable future. In second place, is the long term efficacy of the vaccines and the related question of the need for periodic re-vaccination.

      Then, address the question of profiteering by the pharmaceutical companies one of which is musing about the bonanza it anticipates.

        1. Mikel

          I can only suspect that these shots that don’t prevent people from catching or spreading the disease is providing the virus bodies to learn with and adapt.
          They keep saying over and over “it just prevents people from getting so sick they need to be hospitalized.”
          THat just doesn’t sound like a “vaccine” to me. Sorry.

          And aren’t they still investigating the origin? Is that 100% for certain settled?

          Wasn’t sure if there was more about that…

        2. Fern

          Let me take a stab at this:

          There are some very interesting debates about the potential for this coronavirus to continue to mutate and whether or not we’re approaching peak fitness.  Established scientists have expressed opposing views on the matter.   While SARS-CoV-2 has a proofreading mechanism that can correct point mutations, it isn’t perfect and early assumptions were too optimistic.  The proofreading might slow down the rate of these mutations but it doesn’t stop them, and with so many people infected and with so much treatment that selects for variants, it mutates fast enough to create new variants with alarming efficiency.  Additionally, there are other types of mutations such as deletions that are not corrected by the proofreading mechanism. Recombination events also have the potential to create large changes in one swoop.    

          I wish I could find the links to some of the interesting discussions by leading research scientists about the limits or lack of limits on future significant variants. Unfortunately, searching for old Twitter threads is a fruitless task.  I found a link to one heated debate, but the initiator deleted the tweet and the whole thread was lost! I’ll update if I can find some of these discussions.  

          1. Yves Smith

            You really need to provide links.

            Plus researchers from the get go WERE tracking the level of mutations and found them to be low and largely inconsequential. The story then was “Covid unlike influenza does not mutate quickly.” I can find a raft of stories including ones in serious pubs as of early Dec saying SARS-COV-2 has a low mutation rate.

            So it looks to me as if we have new speculation being fitted to the data as opposed to possible other explanations like:

            – Long Covid providing a very favorable ground for the development of mutations (particularly unfavorable mutations) and the cumulative # of Long Covid cases rising and rising

            – More cases overall, with the big winter spike

            – Random bad luck with the emergence of unfavorable mutations (v. past benign ones)

            1. Fern

              Yes, many scientists initially thought the virus would be very stable because of its proofreading ability. But it turned out to be less stable than they thought. It’s a matter of degree. Here is a relevant quote:

              “Coronaviruses have a slightly lower mutation rate than many other RNA viruses because they can do some light genetic proofreading. “But it’s not enough that it prevents these mutations from accumulating,” says virologist Louis Mansky, the director for the Institute for Molecular Virology at the University of Minnesota. So as the novel coronavirus ran amok around the world, it was inevitable that a range of variants would arise.”


              And here is a somewhat more blunt description:
              “Initially, many assumed that coronaviruses in general and SARS-CoV-2 in particular were more stable and less prone to adaptation than other RNA viruses because of their error-proofing mechanisms. But we have since been proven wrong.”


              I wouldn’t describe scientists’ changing assumptions about the rate of SARS-CoV-2 mutation as a matter of new speculation. Scientists are learning about the rate of mutation as they study it. They are sequencing the viruses all the time, so they are seeing exactly how much mutation is going on. If it’s happening at a higher rate than they had originally assumed, they say “we were wrong”.

              If the data reveals that their original assumptions were wrong, they have to adjust their theory; that’s how science works. And if the data shows that the virus is mutating at a faster rate than they thought, then the other factors you mention are not alternative hypotheses, they are simply additional factors. Everybody agrees that the more times the virus replicates, the more it will mutate, and hence it will mutate more if the disease is widespread. If long covid is caused by residual virus, it would provide more opportunities for the virus to mutate. If it’s caused solely by an autoimmune reaction, then it wouldn’t.

              Your last point is an interesting one that scientists talk about. There’s been a lot of recent discussion about the fact that some of the same functionally significant mutations keep arising independently over and over, which makes them less likely to be the result of random bad luck.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > alarming efficiency

            I don’t think swapping in “alarming efficiency” for “with abandon” adds anything to the disussion.

            These various feeling-words are only meaningful relative to the mutation rate of other viruses. Corona viruses in general, and SARS-COV-2 in particular, mutate more slowly, for reasons stated. Your point on deletions is interesting, but the string ‘delet’ occurs only once in the Cell article that I cited, so I’m really not sure how important it is.

            1. Fern

              Okay, here’s a little discussion of an important deletion mutation:

              “The H69/V70 deletion mutation increases the infectivity by twofold”

              “In the autumn, however, new occurrences of this mutation in Covid-19 appeared – apparently independent of those seen in Scotland – elsewhere in Europe and also in the US where they continue to spread. It is also now occurring alongside another mutation – the deletion of two apparently key amino acids on the spike protein, H69 and V70″. The H69/V70 deletion mutation increases the infectivity by twofold”.


              Again, to me, the most interesting question is whether there are a limited number of ways the virus could mute before reaching peak fitness, or whether there are countless ways the virus could mute to that would improve its fitness. I’ve seen interesting debates over this among scientists.


      1. Mikel

        “To me the important question is, are we going to be dealing with this virus as an endemic problem for the foreseeable future. In second place, is the long term efficacy of the vaccines and the related question of the need for periodic re-vaccination.”

        Yes, there will be more shots. So if you can wait, and stay safe and not endanger others, see what they are going to be saying is the new miracle to solve the problem in about 6 months.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      I regard the virus as capricious. Hence, I regard studies from other countries with a hermeneutic of suspicion, unless I can translate their epidemiology, if any, into a narrative I can understand.* Hence purely statistical studies leave me cold, especially from the UK and such. I’m sure Taleb would mock me for this, and he would probably be right! But if I am stolid and consistent in my errors, readers can compensate.

      That said, (a) that numbers are small but rising (CDC map) but (b) have not yet materially affected the health care system (DIVOC-19 and Houston data) are not mutually incompatible, in a multiplicative process. I will check again next week!

      NOTE * In Finland — too lazy to find the link again — students are encouraged to leave the classroom and jump around in the outdoors in all seasons several times a day. Hence, all Finnish data on schools will reflect the resulting ventilation, but it’s a million to one odds that this local peculiarity isn’t tabulated. And so with many other features of the built environment, like windows that open or are permanently closed, and so on and so forth.

      1. Wukchumni

        In 4 days on the trail along the Sespe River, we encountered maybe 6 masks in the 45 people we came across in the backcountry. Everybody was courteous in beating a wide path when coming in opposite directions, and @ Sespe hot springs there are 6 degrees of separation of temperatures of pools for a few hundred feet along the creek and the few who walk that far get their own private hot springs.

        As I felt last summer walking about 175 miles in Mineral King, the wilderness is the least changed thing in my life as a result of Covid, seems pretty much the same as it ever was.

        We were socially distancing way before it got cool, being outsiders.

      2. JBird4049

        A CDC map on emerging variant cases, confirmed cases in the states highlighted by CDC, and a comparison between wastewater data and cases and fatalies. Last week’s map:

        Oh, goody. California is once again a special place.

      3. John

        The school in which I teach began the year with open windows and fans. The windows are still open albeit just a bit and the fans continue. Lots of sweaters.

      1. Alex

        In my experience, excess fatality measurements are most useful for grasping at straws, and not much else.
        Lot of suicide out there.

        1. Aumua

          Actually it’s quite useful for refuting your entire position here today, while attributing excess deaths to suicides really is grasping at straws, sir.

    4. R

      It is also a question of the serial interval. B.1.1.7 has a shorter serial interval. It’s not in the paper cited. Another paper (Voehringer et a.) suggests a quickening from 6.5 to 5.8 days but I have a memory of the author of the paper linked to today telling me the serial interval is quite a bit shorter, from 5-7 to 3-5 [from memory, don’t take as gospel, I will check). Let’s be cautious and call it from 7 days to 6 days. On those numbers, what would have been a 16x increase in a month will be 32x increase.

      The intrinsic lethality of the new variant is not the problem in absolute terms, it is the potential for it to overwhelm hospital capacity faster – at which point the local case fatality rate increases because patients cannot be treated.

      B.1.1.7 spread in the UK under lockdown with an R value of ~1.25. The schools were open but work from home, retail and leisure closure etc. was required. B.1.1.7 only ceased to spread and R dropped to 0.5-0.8 in the UK, depending on the region, when schools were closed as well.

      So, it’s just 50% extra flu, by the CFR, but it is a wild ride for a healthcare system to treat and a polity to control. If you don’t think the US will feel anything, just watch what is happening in Europe right now, where it is taking hold. Italy is back in lockdown and the French are tiptoeing towards tightening (a weekend curfew as well as 6pm-6am!). Only the Germans are re-opening but this is highly controversial internally….

    5. occasional anonymous

      I really wouldn’t be terribly upset if NC just starting banning the covidiot denialist swamp creatures on sight. How is stuff like this not just straight agnotology?

  8. cocomaan

    Have been reading your case reports in every water cooler, Lambert, its great info.

    One of the non profits I work with receives a lot of county money as part of covid relief, especially to do social services work. A new round of county money is incoming this summer.

    However they have been told to accelerate reopening to normal operation in order to be eligible for money. The money is critical for operation, honestly. Without the last injections the place would be closed. So it’s not really an option not to take the $$

    Lots of incentive right now to throw open the doors.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Have been reading your case reports in every water cooler, Lambert, its great info.

      I am doing my best!

      > Lots of incentive right now to throw open the doors.

      Fourth of July BBQs and/or Bust!

      1. Arizona Slim

        Here in Tucson, it looks as if the July 4th BBQ crowd is already in rehearsal mode.

        Just got back from running errands. While I was out and about, I passed through the 4th Avenue bar and restaurant corridor. One of the big bars, O’Malley’s, already had the tent up, the music thumping, and I’ll bet their St. Patty’s Day business is brisk.

        Me? I’m at home and I’m planning to stay here for the rest of the day. Methinks that the alcohol-fueled celebrating is going to kick into high gear real soon.

  9. JTMcPhee

    About that former dispersal of various engines of wealth generation, like advertising:

    My father was an Ad Man to the bone. He worked, for forty-five years, starting in the late 1930s, through his college years (via scholarships, working and parent sacrifice, at Ivy-League Brown University) and after getting back from the WW II South Pacific, in advertising and sales promotion for the now-just-a-brand William Wrigley Jr. Company. First driving a Model T around New England with cartons of Spearmint and Doublemint, in field sales to little local stores and pharmacies. Then as head of sales promotion, “selling to the salesmen.”

    Wrigley paid well to family members and those connected to them. My dad married his college sweetheart, so no luck there. So he worked 60 hours a week at the Wrigley Building in Chicago, plus commuting time from Northbrook, a bedroom suburb formerly known as Shermerville (changed name as the town had a kind of unsavory reputation), for less than half what his corporate peers got. Loved the work though, a big personal high. But he needed some more income to let him provide the kind of single-wage-earner life he was expected to do, so my mom could stay home and look after three kids.

    So he took up moonlighting, doing advertising jobs for a bunch of small businesses, high-end clothing stores and groceries. I imagine there is some of that still going on, but not in the vast desert of small towns in Flyover Country where the businesses are Walmart and Dollar Whatever and payday lenders and crap car dealerships…

    The reality of the death of a thousand cuts…

    1. ambrit

      It is counterintuitive, but I have seen a slow but steady trend of payday loan kiosks closing up. I can think of four storefront payday loan or title loan shops with “Closed. Go to our outlet at XYZ Street.” signs in the doors within two miles of where we live.
      The Pandemic has instituted a major shakeout in more than just the restaurant business sector.

      1. JBird4049

        The payday loan shops are closing? That’s terrifying because if the local financial vultures can’t hack it…

  10. km

    I note that the “Cats Overprotection Society” ad allows the respondent to fill in one of the following: Ms./Mrs./Miss/Rev.

    1. ambrit

      It also says that the advertiser can continue deducting the amount of the ‘donation’ monthly from the donor’s payment system indefinitely, with no opt out.
      What a wonderful joke.
      I also see that the twitterer has the coveted Blue Check of PMC Approval!

  11. Wukchumni

    “In The Future Of Collecting, Is Anyone Having Fun?” [Defector].
    I have a large collection of NFT (Natural Field Theater) memories and i’m always adding to it, my most recent foray afield being a 34 mile backpack with friends to Willett & Sespe hot springs near Ojai. The Sespe River is the only wild river left in SoCal.

    We were surrounded by no less than 2 dozen Bighorn Sheep who had come gamboling down impossible cliffs to be with us @ Sespe hot springs while soaking in the creek that emanates from the hottest source in Cali @ 190 degrees, the trick being to find the Goldilocks pool downstream that’s not too hot so you can stay in for a long soak, but even 5 seconds in 110 degree water has its charms. The patriarchs of the herd were a couple of rams who decided to butt heads repeatedly about 40 feet away from us, truly magical it twas.

    Our friend Wonderhussy monetizes her ‘collecting’ hobby, but i’m content to hoard memories upstairs in my nogin like an old miser, occasionally dusting them off to share with others.

    Backcountry Hot Springs Winter Backpacking Adventure Part 1 of 2: Sespe Hot Springs


    The collector mentality is an odd one, I stopped collecting coins by the time I was a teenager, as possession of aged round metal discs meant nothing to me aside from turning them over as fast as possible when buying & selling, which I did for about 30 years.

    Niggling little differences in the condition and the rarity of a given coin could mean tremendous disparities in value, and the ones that possessed the most history from being used in commerce for decades were always worth the least, although I found them the most interesting.

    Everything digital in the nouveau collecting realm seems aimed at the lure of limited editions, and who cares how limited something is if you can’t gin up interest, and with this sort of gimcrackery the only way you can do it is with a track record of impressive gains, and build off of that. Unlike all other traditional collecting, condition means nothing, as everything is exactly the same-brand new, almost like updated early 70’s Hummel figurines, except they only exist in the ether. Hummels that fetched hundreds of $’s in the 70’s go begging for $5 or 10 now.

    But you get to the point where, why does anybody care?, such as the ‘Limited Edition’ Snickers bar I had a few months ago, and it truly was one after devouring it.

    1. cocomaan

      Neat story! That was a “limited edition memory.” Also love wonderhussy, she’s great.

      I was thinking of getting into coin collecting recently, but specializing in medieval coins from a particular region of Africa where I did my graduate work. Why? Not sure. I was studying Islamic revivalism and want to get out a magnifying glass and see the names of the rulers. Weird.

      1. Wukchumni

        Wonderhussy is the real deal, and remarkable how she does it all: location shooting, editing, fill ins, drone shots, shots of something 80 proof, and so on, a new episode every Wednesday.

        I always found older Islamic coins to be daunting enough from just reading the legend on them-which sadly to state more often than not resembled a series of squiggly lines and never a portrait of a king, queen, emperor et al on em’ ever like in Europe, compounded by not really anybody caring all that much about them, thus scant markets. But I had a making money bias, as in it wasn’t worth my effort.

        I feel certain your mileage will vary…

      2. Arizona Slim

        Here’s another reason to like Wonderhussy: If you send her a gift, she will thank you via email. A lot of YouTubers don’t do that.

    2. Sutter Cane

      I see that the only “vinyl” mentioned in the article is talking about vinyl figurines, which is odd. I do collect vinyl LPs, I started in the 1990s when CDs first came out and everyone was getting rid of their record collections. At the time, being a cheap college student, they were a bargain – a new CD version of a classic rock album would cost 15 bucks, but you could pick up the same record on an LP for next to nothing. Great 70s turntables and amplifiers were practically being given away, too. And there was so much music that was never reissued on CD, so finding the LP was the only way to hear it. Now, albums that sold millions of copies that you couldn’t even give away at the time are suddenly valuable again. I was never a fan of later Fleetwood Mac so I never picked up a copy of Rumours, which was a dollar bin staple, and now you can sell copies of that LP (which was never rare) for 30 bucks to zoomers all day. I wish I had grabbed every copy I saw while I was looking for records that I actually liked!

      Sure, I could just use spotify and Marie Kondo myself into a more stripped-down lifestyle, but I never liked the idea of having my access to music mediated by some corporation. I have a lot of records that never made it onto CD and probably have a convoluted copyright history that would prevent them from being reissued. Since nobody buys CDs anymore, the number of “from the vault” releases has shrunk to nothing. Hell, Universal just let their vault burn down entirely.

      And on a purely practical level, another plus of owning physical copies is that, when I get in a bind, at least I have something to sell. You can cancel your streaming subscription if you suddenly find yourself behind on your bills, but it won’t get you very far. It would be painful to unload some of my most valuable LPs but at least I could come up with a decent chunk of change if I had to. And unlike owning stock, I actually got some enjoyment out of them…

  12. Miami Mitch

    Vaccine Anecdote: So I waited like a good boy for my turn at the vaccine; 4a, for us people with pre-existing conditions (mine is neurological and puts me at a high risk for which my daughter was yelling at me to get ahead of everyone but I figured I could hunker down better than others so let them get theirs). Now I do not smoke, but apparently this 4a group includes “Anyone who has smoked at least 100 cigarettes in a lifetime. So they pretty much are inviting the whole state to get vaccinated. Trying to sign up at Walgreens just gets me repeated “no slots available” adn if a slot opens it is gone before I can click it.

    I told my daughter and she told me that a few weeks ago some friends in her “Facebook Mom’s Group” were saying to call the Walgreens and ask them if they had shots open for the day because some of the “moms” were jumping the line and getting shots before their turn. So I called the Walgreens to see at least if I could make an appointment by phone instead of online. The pharmacists said to me, without prompting; “There are no secret appointments.” I said I would just like a regular appointment, no need for it to be secret. She assumed I could drive and told me to look at places 50 miles away.

    And also, talking to a friend the other day, she told me her husband got the shot as an “Agricultural worker”. Now this is funny because he is some high paid 48 year old middle manager that works from home for a small time fertilizer company and is as healthy as you can get. And speaking to a young local grocery clerk, she got her shot a three weeks ago, way ahead of the line, which I think is fine, but how?

    So now I am going to pass of the vaccine until they come looking for me. I did sign up with my local health department which say they will get in touch with me. The least I can do in this world is put myself last. Now I wanted to get a shot, but I cannot help to think about all those more deserving and more out of the loop than me trying to stay alive.

    I am at the point where death is OK with me because living in this world just frustrates and saddens me.

    1. ambrit

      Do not despair. I suffer from similar feelings on the odd day.
      Phyl intimated to me some time ago that, since there is always something ‘interesting’ and ‘new’ coming along that I just ‘wait it out.’ She does have a point. I really am curious to see just how low we can go as a society.
      My primary “rationalization” for not jumping at the first vaccination spot that opens up is my acknowledgement that we are only a year and a half into this novel coronavirus pandemic. There is so much that the ‘authorities’ are guessing at or assuming to be true, without solid evidence backing up their decisions, that a wait and see attitude looks down right rational.
      Besides, I have held to a generally non-conformist personal philosophy for most of my life. Why change now?
      The Seventh Seal, chess and: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1ZAMiW4yEQ

    2. anon y'mouse

      Miami Mitch-

      I am sorry to read your last sentence.

      Surely there is someone in this world who would NOT be “ok” with you ceasing to exist.

      Consider calling them right now.

      be well

      1. Miami Mitch

        Oh, there is a difference between not caring if I die and wanting to die. I am the former, but thank you.

    3. albrt

      I was totally unsuccessful in getting an appointment through corporate channels such as Walgreens for the first week after I became eligible. They would insist on harvesting a bunch of personal information and then say “Psych! We don’t actually have any vaccine!”

      The county sponsored a community vaccination event this week. I got my first shot today. Appointments were much easier to get, the process was much more transparent, and very little waiting. The funny thing (ha ha) is that the county website sends you to the corporate providers first, and you really have to hunt for the publicly sponsored events.

      Many of the public events are staffed by volunteers, and they give the extra doses to the volunteers at the end of the day.

  13. QuicksilverMessenger

    “Parents’ emotional trauma may change their children’s biology”. I had a weird experience several years ago where I was with some family members at some kind of gathering. I happen to glance at my brother then over to my uncle on my mother’s side, and noticed they had eerily similar what I can only describe as ‘facial tensions’- they way they held their brows and slightly up-turned nose and mouth. I thought ‘this is weird’. Then the kicker was, later, I noticed that I had this same ‘look’. I always knew I held these certain tensions in the face., and then thought, are sharing this as a family somehow? I was a little bit shocked, but I immediately had the thought ‘do member in families have, and pass on, these, what seem to be ‘outer manifestations’, through the generations’? That is, am I looking at a specific shared ‘generational tension’, as it were? Maybe not so outlandish after all

    1. curlydan

      I grew up needing to be very vigilant which naturally turned me into a vigilant adult. While this has helped me in some respects, I also believe I might have created an outer- and inner-vigilance. I have auto-immune issues that I think could have been triggered by this vigilance. In other words, my youthful experiences may have trained my immune system to be highly suspect of everything and get a little too active and go after some things I actually need.

  14. Gary

    That terminator is out there, it can’t be bargained with, it can’t be reasoned with, it doesn’t feel pity or remorse or fear, and it absolutely will not stop… EVER, until you are dead!
    … or it steps on a banana peel…

    1. fresno dan

      March 17, 2021 at 3:22 pm
      I always carry a big banana in my pocket…
      now, it turns out the peel could be used for self defense

  15. wsa

    At work my team has a small, informal online meet-up at noon every day, just to stay in touch and simulate those hallway chats that can be so useful. Yesterday I listened to one coworker talk another through the labyrinth of web forms and decisions necessary to get scheduled for a COVID shot to which they qualify according to the state’s current recommendations. It was as forceful an impression as any I’ve had what a familybloggy world Meritocracy has generated for us all. We’re all IT people, well trained in the ways of bureaucracy and obscurantist jargon, and even we’re having trouble navigating things. I can’t imagine how it is for everyone else.

  16. zagonostra

    > “So don’t repeat Obama’s mistake; this time just ram #MedicareForAll through so people see immediate benefits before the midterms.”

    Fatal flaw in this statement is that it assumes that the Dems are genuine in wanting affordable healthcare for all instead of donations from those who profit from this profligate system. The Dem’s would lose a key “talking point” if there actually was a sane single payer system. It’s all political posturing. Most know that the special interest/lobbyist have the final say and the general population just get hot air blown up their kazoo.

    1. lambert strether

      I think most readers know that liberal Democrat good faith is not top-of-mind for me….

      1. zagonostra

        So you would agree that the Dems are “bad faith” actors when it comes to single payer or passing major legislation that would erode the profits of the healthcare insurance/big pharma interest. You would agree that a public option or lowering the Medicare eligibility age, for instance, were a ruse to garner votes. That V.P. Kamala is an opportunist and disingenuous? I know, you probably can’t answer that given your NC duties/functions and you have to stay neutral on partisan topics.

        But I can, when it comes down to the nitty gritty, the most progressive of politicians are not willing to stick their necks out and fight. Which leaves only one option for signal payer, a viable third party.

        1. Baby Gerald

          I find myself in total agreement with you, Zaganostra. My nominee for Bad Faith Actress Academy Award for a short feature goes to AOC for the selfie video she recently posted. Our friend Jimmy Dore has a fantastic dissection of all the tells and giveaways in this command performance:

          AOC Theatrically Gaslights Working People Over Stimulus Bill

          People gave Jimmy a lot of heat with his #ForceTheVote initiative, but tell me he hasn’t been proven correct about our so-called progressive heroes in Congress over these last three months.

        2. JBird4049

          All that might be another way of saying that water is wet, but it also doesn’t change the reality that the Democratic with the assistance of the Republican Party and the security state are determined to stop an effective third party. Not only would it affect them and their masters’ hold on the rice bowl, it would likely trigger a collapse of one or both main parties.

        3. drumlin woodchuckles

          Canada did not achieve Single Payer all at once. It happened Province by Province. My sketchy memory is this . . . . that decades ago in one of the Prairie Provinces , the Social Credit Party got elected on instituting some proto-elements of province-wide tax-funded health care coverage. And it must have expanded first in depth within that Province, and then in spread to other Provinces. And then finally conquered the whole country. That’s a very hazy memory, to be sure.

          But if it is correct in its essence, if offers a historical lesson. If there is any US State where an overwhelming majority of the citizens of that State would prefer Statewide Single Payer over whatever Insurances they now have, then those citizens of that State who think it is actuallly attainable may well have to form a One Issue Party. They could call it the Single Payer Party. And work to dominate all branches of their State Government so thoroughly and totally that they can then force Single Payer into existence in that State.

          And then maybe it can be spread to other States which find their populations inspired enough to become preponderant for Single Payer. Maybe Single Payerism could conquer enough states to where those States can protect themselves and eachother from Privasurance Aggression emanating from the other States and from the Upper Class Front DC FedRegime.

          And maybe it wouldn’t have to be a Whole New Bureaucracy. Maybe it could be Universal Blue Cross Blue Shield for everyone within that State. And to avoid scaring the elders on Medicare, have it cover everyone below the age of Medicare and then let Medicare continue unmolested within that State.

          Or maybe some other approach.

          But it would have to be something simple and Rubeless Goldbergless enough that a huge majority of the citizens of that State could both understand it and decide based on their reality-based understanding, that they want it.

          1. JBird4049

            California is one of those states that is both large in population and wealthy enough as to do single payer; the feckless Democratic machine says it wants single payer, is even verbally supportive of a state level system, but somehow it never gets done.

            In order to get it done at the state level, there would have to be a successful reform effort. Perhaps a successful regional third party as happened in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

            I am increasingly thinking that it will be akin to the collapse of the American Whig Party and the fracturing and near destruction of the Democratic Party pre-Civil War; the national parties are increasingly competent only in their octopus like grip on power and in getting money.

    2. skippy

      I thought after the Bill Clinton M.O. of pay to play or user pays the term genuine is relative to your support in dollar terms …

      Always remember the Native Americans from Louisiana looking to develop some energy resources on their lands, but established industry was road blocking in state legislature. So they went through the gate keepers to see Bill in D.C. and just before they would personally see Bill the last gate keeper asked just that question … what have you done for Bill … never was allowed across that bridge python style …

  17. Dr. John Carpenter

    Re: Atlanta shooting. It is really a thing to see that good liberals can declare this the fault of Trump calling Covid the “China Flu” and be completely blind to the drums of war the Dems have been beating for China for quite some time now. (And it’s even better when, upon closer examination, the shooting seems to have not been racially motivated. I’m sure it’s still Trump’s fault somehow.)

  18. Wukchumni

    Going by what I know about crime in massage parlors in the deep south involving an NFL team owner, it seemed as if all the employees were Asian women.


    I mentioned ‘Kung Flu’ here in January 2020, and I feel horribly responsible for bringing back memories of badly dubbed martial art films from the 70’s.

  19. DJG, Reality Czar

    Biden, Putin, Russia Russia Russia panic. (QAnon, BlueAnon, who can tell the difference?)

    I ran across an article in The Guardian early in the day reporting various threats: “Joe Biden said the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, will face consequences for directing efforts to swing the 2020 US presidential election to Donald Trump, and that they would come soon.
    –‘He will pay a price,’ Biden told ABC News in an interview that aired on Wednesday morning.”

    The article by Doug Bandow at The American Conservative is a reminder that our paleoconservative friends aren’t exactly looking for war, either. Some of them understand the consequences of war, unlike, say, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Neera Tanden, Ted Cruz, or the other members of the Lite Brigade (which includes peeps like “veterans” Tom Cotton and Pete Buttigieg, who put in their time to help their presidential ambitions).

    What happens with crazy and belligerent talk like Biden’s not-so-oracular “pay a price” is that eventually one talks oneself into a war. But only the little people get hurt in wars. As the saying goes, When elephants fight, the grass gets trampled.

    This is a story to follow closely, because war talk, like torture and ignoring torture, is corrupting.

  20. deplorado

    A little ditty on Fed policy from twitter. Was there a Fed meeting today?

    Ben Casselman @bencasselman

    “Will you hike if yields rise?”
    “We will not hike if yields rise.
    We will not catch you by surprise.
    We will not hike on Phillips Curve.
    We will not hike if prices swerve.
    Not when inflation gets to 2,
    Not when U3 hits NAIRU.
    Do not ask me any more!
    Full employment, not before!”


    1. Carolinian

      My kind of stuff

      Growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, I got to see the tail end of the culture of invention that resulted from that collective choice, in the form of books from earlier decades that were still on the shelves at public libraries. If you were a child with a taste for electronics, you could lose yourself in daydreams reading The Boy’s First (through Seventh) Book of Radio and Electronics by the redoubtable Alfred Morgan, which taught how to make the most astonishing array of radio gear from spare wire, scrap metal, oatmeal containers, and the like. Quite early on in the energy crisis of the 1970s, you could buy a book of solar energy experiments, which included such things as making a parabolic disk reflector from foil and cardboard, and building a solar oven from a cardboard box with an oven bag for glazing. Care to make your own telescope? That was a known hobby, and one that I indulged in; my first sight of the rings of Saturn through my 4” homebuilt reflector remains one of the defining memories of my childhood.

      Of course the personal computers that now obsess us also started out as homebrew affairs. At any rate I strongly share his nostalgia for our onetime era of practical seat of the pants science as opposed to the current mulling about the cosmos. One could argue that the open source movement–also wheezing a bit at this point–has been that continuation. Steve Jobs and his walled gardens and tech aesthetic were the opposite.

      1. ambrit

        I remember making a crystal radio set back in the 1960’s. Get a collection of crystals and amass a trove of stations.
        My first stereo radio set was a Heath Kit DIY affair. My little sister got that radio set when I moved away to go to university.
        Remember the tube testers at the back of the 7/11 stores? I would go along with Dad and watch, and later do it myself, as he tested tubes from the black and white television set to find the faulty component.
        Rebuilding automobile carburetors was a weekend job. You had to get it done by Monday morning so as to have a way to work.
        We are capable of a lot, if allowed to learn and practice.

  21. DJG, Reality Czar

    The Identity Hoax.

    Wow. What is, errrr, intriguing is that the article is also loaded with U.S. colonialism. As the gay, Marxist, pagan philosopher (yes, such peeps exist) Rhyd Wildermuth has pointed out, Americans foist their racial categories on the rest of the world.

    Krug claimed “North African Blackness,” lying about having a Algerian mother. Here’s a problem with Algerians. They aren’t “black” in the U.S. sense. Algerians are a mix of Berbers, then Arabs, then a large Turkish immigration under the Ottomans.

    Yet Americans, who “Don’t know much about history,” couldn’t figure this out? (They were busy assuring each other that Brazilians speak Spanish, I s’pose.)

    Fascinatingly, Vitolo-Haddad, mentioned in the article failed for not stating that V-H actually identifies as Southern Italian/Sicilian (which I know full well, given my background, is the very definition of U.S. “whiteness,” although unfortunately, Sicilians are closer to Algerians than they are to Anglos, but why get in the way of imposing “whiteness”?) Vitolo-Hadded “uses they/them pronouns.”

    Satchuel Cole, “who uses they/them pronouns and legally changed their name in 2010,”… Later in the article, two informants “described Cole as a zealous gatekeeper of the Indianapolis Black and queer communities.”

    I suspect that some of the pronoun puritanism these days is also covering up a whole passel of passing.

    Dolezal: Her brother accused her of fabricating sexual-assault allegations against him.

    Yet Lewis dances around U.S. categories of race, making them seem more permanent, more worthy of trust, than they are. Meanwhile, she also takes people’s word that they are just so beyond gender.

    Maybe there are some deeper problems here, like systematic economic oppression and philosophies based on radical dualism.

  22. Mikel

    RE: “I’m losing track of the number of “baffling” transmission events in Australian quarantine hotels. When the facts don’t fit your transmission model, perhaps it’s time to update it? #COVIDisAirborne #DontShareYourAir #VentilationNotVentilators https://t.co/T5ZN6xpA0J

    Ventilation and asking where are they getting their food?
    Same will apply to schools and workplaces that open…ventilation and where are they getting their food.

    It’s not just about social distancing and masking in a dining area.
    Do the kitchen staff have sick leave?

    My days are done eating at any establishment that doesn’t offer paid sick days to staff.

  23. dk

    “The Identity Hoaxers” [The Atlantic]

    Even before the section on Wilkomirski and Grabowski, this piece reminded me of my mother, now 92.

    She was born in Berlin German in 1928 and grew up there. I was raised on the stories of her survival for the war and its aftermath, which were very formative of her character. More recently (since my father’s death in 1996), I discovered that about half of these tales had never happened. Yes, her father was Jewish and died in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, this is well documented. Yes, her mother was incarcerated twice for a total of about two years. Yes, she had been a star athlete in school, and been pictured on the cover of a national magazine (I’ve see the actual item), before her father’s status was discovered and she was expelled from school and ostracized. And yes, she and her sister made their ways through a period of when social trust was disrupted to the point of constant mortal danger, from strangers or even family and friends.

    But the story about being on a train to Auchwitz and escaping at the last station was false. So apparently were most of the details of her being hidden in the closets of sympathetic Germans en route to England, where she stayed for 9 months and learned English.

    And in general she has and still retains a fetish for gaslighting, always hiding or falsifying some details even or her recent past. As her only child, I am something of an insider, she confides in me on promise of not betraying her. But I also see how she keeps close track of who knows what, and thereby, who told what to whom (I very rarely betray her confidences, they’re mostly inconsequential).

    Her ethics and civil conduct were shaped to considerable extent by her early experience. Of course I can’t know how general this is to other Munchhausenian gaslighters. I myself have striven for almost painstaking precision (which is what honesty is), but also learned discretion. She had to teach me how to shoplift when I was still a toddler, mainly so that she could get away with it and I wouldn’t innocently betray her. My father, went through his own trials as a boy and young man during the Nazi time (no room for his story but it’s both harrowing and well evidenced). The blond of loyalty between was the most absolute and faithful I have ever seen. The war period left deep indelible wounds which they hid well, and hiding their pasts was one of the central goals of their individual and shared lives.

    I’m not defending gaslighters at all (my relationship with my family was and remains very distant), but some may have acquired reasoning that drive their compulsive acts. My mother has cleaned up her stories. As it happens, a noted German researcher has befriended her and substantiated much of her memory of her once prestigious Jewish German family for historical record (the researcher recently confided in me that she is aware that my mother isn’t completely reliable, and has had to sift through some exaggerations, but this is common in her field).

    In order to be persistent, lies must be crafted around facts to give them empirical context. A quote from a film: “Ask enough questions and a man who is lying will eventually change his story. But the man who tells the truth cannot change his, however unlikely his story sounds.” But I have also seen that in peril of death or to protect others, or even in fear of loss of social status, an honest person may come to lie. And by far the easiest way to lie convincingly and uniformly is to believe the misleading tale wholeheartedly, and drink one’s own koolaide. Belief itself is a dangerous construct, a mental abbreviation to reduce the time and energy overhead of more careful assessment and reasoning. We’re compelled to believe by social pressures so great that we believe we must believe to have humanity. My mother lost track of who she really was, and I’ll never know how much that is a curse and how much a blessing for her.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      This does seem like a case of some deeply burned-into-the-brain survival instinct having broken free from the cognitive control of its bearer’s Higher Mind, and misapplying itself by itself. Almost like a little alien brain-gremlin hiding inside her head.

      If that historico-geneological researcher said that such exaggeration by people being studied is “common in her field”, that might well indicate that that sort of extreme brain-pressure produces those kinds of brain results.

      If so, then questions of “ethics” and the “morality of gaslighting” may not be relevant at all.

      1. dk

        Yes that’s how I see her. The brain-gremlin probably saved her life a few times, and she made herself its bearer, she identifies with it, a blessing and a curse.

        I think the question of ethics and morality are irrelevant because they don’t have absolute or clean resolutions. Precision is difficult even with great effort, and language itself is also part of the problem. Take “violence,” as AOC used it when describing her experiences at (yes, not actually in) the Capitol, and of previous assaults. She knew that physical violence is real, and an intent of violence is often completely serious. LARPers play with violent postures and props, and some of them are in fantasy mode; but so are many rapists. Where is the boundary? Do the protagonists even know themselves? They see fraud around them, how much of it is self-reflection?

        There’s actual violence in intent and threat. My mom actually saw people shot and killed with her own eyes (again, substantiated by witnesses and documents). She wasn’t killed herself but her shock and distress weren’t products of fantasy, her fear was rational. But importantly, the fear was of irrational and vicious behavior of gaslit people believing that Jewishness (and other otherisms) were direct threats (to heritage, economy, etc.). The way I see it, she ended up hiding among the lies, changing her own backstory repeatedly to avoid not just overt violence, but the threat of it.

        But when was it safe to stop? She and my father met anti-German (and also anti-Semitic) bigotry in America too, where they had run to escape the inhibitive German class hierarchy (my father was lower class, the child of servants in my mother’s house).

        Before the war started my father flirted briefly with the Hitler Youth. He quit after a summer, said that they were just too stupid, terrible organizers, stubborn intimidation their only skill. The working class in Germany had no significant political voice or self-awareness. From his and his family’s perspective, the Hitler craze and eventually murderous social viciousness was a drama among the ruling and capital classes, dragging the rest of the country along. He told of sabotages by workers, exerting their small power to undermine Nazis, but they would have done so to any unfair and incompetent leadership, it wasn’t particularly ideological, just matters between classes.

        In the end he was conscripted and almost immediately captured by the American forces. He spent over a year in a US prison camp, where he came to respect the Americans for their intelligence and relative compassion; the Russians would simply have shot him. When the rations ran out, the Americans were starving too, they had shared the last of the food; my father said he’s never seen anything like that before. So he came to America, but should he tell his new friends and business associates, all veterans of that war, that he had been their prisoner, their actual enemy? Another secret to be kept.

        They were both trapped. Where could they escape to? What is honesty worth? They eventually made true friends and were true friends, given the chance they felt they needed to buy by hiding some of their past, and sometimes dissembling mightily (i.e., lying).

        At some point we either take risks of trust (carefully or desperately?) or we never escape any fictitious identities we may be born into or make for ourselves. I think a real question is, what are our choices? Is our freedom from any degree of social pantomime the ultimate virtue? Am I a Jew, or a Nazi? I’m certainly a medium for some knowledge from both heritages. But leading with that tends to confuse people and they can’t hear any insights from it afterwards. I make a joke of it if it comes up, and am consistently weird enough that it blends in with my general strangeness, and try to show my good conduct in the daily mundane, because that’s what really matters, not “who I am”. We are what we do and how we do it. And that’s something we can develop and perhaps even improve.

        Jessica Krug, why did she reveal herself? She was unavailable to the article’s author, can we let her go and trust her to find a more honest way to live a new life? Does she succeed in making her past irrelevant to her present? We don’t have to believe our hopes to have hope, we don’t have to know the good for there to be good.

        Unraveling facts from lies is a perpetual task, and an inevitable one, because language itself is an error-prone and -generating medium, and writing even more so. Science and math are beautiful, not when we read them, but when we reproduce them with reason and experiment. They’re important because they’re mediums for honesty, with error correction built in, when precision and patient effort are applied. They demonstrate the value of facts over truths.

        Can we ever stop gaslighting ourselves? Let’s settle for getting just a little more real, and not hold out for all or nothing. An absolutely just civil society is a numerical impossibility, a non-polynomial-time problem. The resolution of outstanding unresolved factors can never catch up with our brief lives. That makes our actions and even our gestures more important, not less. Fairness is only real in the moment, and the next moment and the next. When we are benevolent to each other and ourselves, forgive our ambitions, pursue them humbly and set them aside when mercy could spare us all.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      And after watching the video I hear her speaking with a Black accent. Was this a Black hate-crime against an Indian driver?

      How many of the racist hate crimes against Asian people lately are perpetrated by other-racist non-Whites? I think if the perpetrators were White, the media would eagerly tell us the race of the assailants.
      What do others think?

      1. caucus99percenter

        I find myself having to visit the “Asian Dawn” website regularly if I want to keep abreast of news re crime against Asian-Americans by non-white actors.


        While they do tend to lay the ethnic-group loyalty factor on a bit thick, it’s simply a fact that I wouldn’t have heard about many of these stories—some truly horrible—through any other channel. Perhaps someone else here can suggest an even better source.

  24. The Rev Kev

    “Four minutes of Budgies!”

    They can be great to listen to. Years ago we started off with one for the daughter for a pet. Then a second one came and before we knew it, we had an aviary in the backyard with over a dozen or more in it. Their chirping filled our backyard daily. Over time we sold some and gave the rest away until we had only a handful. Then, three, then two and finally one sole survivor. Even by itself you could hear it chirping in the morning which is a delightful sound but last week we gave it to a friend to have a better life. Now she has gotten another one and is thinking about breeding more…

  25. The Rev Kev

    “Biden says Putin ‘will pay a price’ for Russian efforts to undermine the 2020 US election”

    Not just Russia getting a hammering from the report naming them. Aaron Maté nailed it in a tweet-

    Shoutout to Lebanese Hizballah, Cuba, and Venezuela for making it into the Russiagate 2021 Edition’


    1. ambrit

      Biden had better be careful about what he wishes for. The Russians are no pushovers. Add to that, the ‘circle of friends’ that Moscow can rely on, even if sub-rosa, and America could be looking at losing big parts of the Sixth Fleet. That would be a game changer. Once the Hegemon loses once, the lustre will be off of it’s reputation, which is what matters in international relations.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I tell you, the 2020s have a distinct 1930s feel at times. Battle lines are being drawn, military alliances are being formalized, sanctions are being let loose all over the place. It’s like being trapped on a creaky bus and the driver has decided to go up a risky, twisting mountain road and you are not even sure why.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      But not China, afterall, we still have to sell movies. I can’t imagine the mind of the dolt who came up with this report.

  26. Geoffrey Dewan

    It seems like the authors’ intuition about objective reality having a large effect on the stability of intuitions seems to prove itself by their continuing search for proof that his intuition was correct in the first place rather than the damned data that they collected…talk about stability!

    Knaubi and Nauki turn out to be walking self-licking ice cream cones.

    “Philosophical Intuitions Are Surprisingly Stable Across both Demographic Groups and Situations” (PDF) [Joshua Knobe, Filozofia Nauki]. One of the most elusive 56-page philosophical treatises I have ever skimmed. From the abstract: “The evidence now suggests that philosophical intuitions are surprisingly stable. Indeed, the available evidence suggests that philosophical intuitions are surprisingly stable across both demographic groups and situations. To begin with, we face an empirical question as to why people’s intuitions are so stable. My only answer is that I have no idea. I will be discussing a whole series of experiments in which researchers manipulate some factor and find that intuitions are remarkably unaffected. In every single one of the experiments reviewed below, I would have mistakenly predicted that the manipulation would have a large effect on intuitions, and even now that I know the actual results, I am completely confused about how to explain them.” • If I’m getting at what the author is on about, they’re treating the known fact that philosophical problems that have gone unresolved for thousands of years as in itself a philosophical problem. Which is interesting. Surely we have at least one knowledgeable philosopher in the commentariat who can take an informed view?

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