2:00PM Water Cooler 3/24/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Most popular bird song audio at eBird today.

* * *


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 “in the eye of the storm” , we are still in the eye of the storm.

Vaccination by region:

Looks like yesterday’s stumble was a data artificact. • Early in February, I said a simple way to compare Biden’s performance to Trump’s on vaccination would be to compare the curves. If Biden accelerated vaccine administration, the rate of vaccination post-Inaugural would kink upward, as the policies of a more effective administration took hold. 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.

AL: “Alabama school district, once home to infamous Tuskegee study, nears full COVID vaccination level” [AL.com]. “Just as soon as the COVID-19 vaccine was offered, Jacqueline Brooks rolled up her sleeve and got her shot. The scene is now familiar across the country. But what sets Brooks apart from the more than 1 million Alabamians who also have gotten shots is her family history – two great-grandfathers were part of the Tuskegee syphilis experiment – and her position of authority in her hometown in Alabama’s Black Belt, as the superintendent of Macon County School District. … Again, she said, seeing elderly church members get vaccinated with no side effects – as well as seeing COVID-19 ravage community members who fell ill – reminded her that, as a friend told her, ” ‘I personally know a lot of people who have been extremely ill and some now buried from a COVID-19 death. But I don’t know anyone who’s has been buried from taking the vaccine.’” Wariness in Macon and Tuskegee is real, experts agree, but individual attention from local government and health officials and trusted leaders, as well as coordinated public health messaging, goes a long way.” • Another way of saying this is that a nationalized effort at the Federal level would only have taken us so far (and in the extreme case, might have been merely singing to the choir).

UPDATE CA: “Gavin Newsom feared a vaccine nightmare. So he outsourced California’s rollout.” [Politico]. “California’s vaccination rollout was sputtering this year when Gov. Gavin Newsom embraced a solution long favored by Republicans: outsourcing. Barely a month after the first doses arrived, the Democrat — who wrote a book on government innovation and has bemoaned California’s outdated technology — inked a no-bid deal with insurance giant Blue Shield of California to manage vaccine distribution throughout the state. Newsom, facing a recall threat and under immense pressure to get the doses out quickly, turned to Blue Shield soon after vaccination problems surfaced, suggesting he deemed the task of rapidly vaccinating tens of millions too complex for government to handle. But the deal has raised an array of data privacy and equity questions, and the company’s sizable contributions to Newsom’s reelection and the governor’s causes have fueled speculation about how money may have influenced the decision. The rollout continues to face challenges with getting doses into people’s arms.” • Can California readers comment?

GA: “Georgia allows all adults to receive vaccine starting Thursday” [The Hill]. “Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) said Tuesday that he will expand access to the COVID-19 vaccine to all people over the age of 16 living in the state, a policy that will go into effect Thursday and comes just a week after he eliminated special COVID-19 capacity limits for Georgia’s bars and nightclubs.”

NY: “What we learned registering thousands of our neighbors for vaccines” [Epicenter NYC]. “Every day, we hear from so many eligible people who haven’t gotten their vaccines because of concerns over access, fear, time or language issues. To be clear, many of them have been eligible for months. It is almost impossible even for those devoting their days to this effort to keep on top of all the twists and turns. Announcing changes and availability on social media (such as this tweet from an Assemblywoman saying people over the age of 85 could now just walk in; something we did not see in news stories or press releases elsewhere) means you have to be constantly plugged in to stay current. Those meant to be at the front of the proverbial line are the very populations that are not on the internet all day long, often unable to check email, let alone be on Twitter. …. The current system is about drawing different categories of people into vaccination centers; more effort needs to go into pushing vaccines out to communities. … People are looking to us for help getting a vaccine so hesitancy is not going to be well measured here. However, there is a definite chain effect based on one person in a family, on a shift, in a restaurant, in a building getting a vaccine appointment through us–and then we suddenly hear from MANY.” • This is very good, worth reading in full. (Funny how there’s a network effect for vaccination exactly as there is for transmission.)

UPDATE TX: “Texas to open COVID-19 vaccinations to all adults. Here’s what you need to know.” [Star-Telegram]. “All adults will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in Texas beginning Monday, the Texas Department of State Health Services announced Tuesday. Thus far, the vaccine has been prioritized for health care workers, nursing home residents, school workers, those 50 and older and people with medical conditions. But with an increased vaccine supply expected in the coming week, the state is expanding who is qualified for shots. ‘We are closing in on 10 million doses administered in Texas, and we want to keep up the momentum as the vaccine supply increases,’ Imelda Garcia, DSHS associate commissioner for laboratory and infectious disease services and the chairperson of the Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel, said in a statement. ‘As eligibility opens up, we are asking providers to continue to prioritize people who are the most at risk of severe disease, hospitalization and death — such as older adults.’ The department has told providers to prioritize people 80 or older and to accommodate anyone in that age group who shows up for a vaccination — even if they don’t have an appointment — by moving them to the front of the line.”

Case count by United States regions:

I helpfully added a black line to show how horrific the new normal we are all so triumphal about just now really is. The curve has definitely been flattening for the last three weeks, and in the last two days seems to have flattered entirely (remember I use one-week averages to smooth out data artifacts). That’s not good, and when we look at the Northeast, it’s flattened entirely. Since these are averaged weekly, there’s some momentum in the train, too. So there’s really no reason to break out the champers.

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

New York still leads, although with a recent drop. I’m also loathe to give Florida’s DeSantis permission for a happy dance, but there’s no question that in the enormous natural experiment that is our Federalized response to Covid, Florida didn’t do badly, and its case curve looks pretty much like that corrupt crook Cuomo’s, just with a later peak.

UPDATE NY: “COVID-19 cases have stopped declining in New York City. Experts are trying to find out why.” [ABC]. “Specifically, the New York City metropolitan area had a rate of nearly 260.6 cases per 100,000 people for the week ending March 21, the second highest case rate in the nation, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Although cases are not as high as they were during the spring and winter surges, the city has “reached a plateau, which simply means that cases are no longer declining,” said Dr. David D. Ho, director of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center at Columbia University. In New York, the percent of intensive care unit beds occupied by COVID-19 patients also remains high, at 18%. Experts say it’s still unclear what may be driving this plateau, particularly because of declining testing numbers and state delays in receiving and processing data. While some suggest that relaxed mitigation measures could be to blame, others are pointing to the emergence of more contagious variants.”

Test positivity:

Big jump in the South and the Midwest.


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

Biden Administration

“Kamala Harris, Bill Clinton to hold talk on pandemic’s impact on women” [The Hill]. • Why does the phrase “casting couch” come to mind?

But the babies! In cages!!


UPDATE “The GOP’s Political Nightmare: Running Against a Recovery” [Politico]. “It may be an overstated political cliché that if you’re explaining, you’re losing. But you’re almost certainly losing if you’re explaining, ahead of time, why the economic boom you’re expecting on your opponent’s watch shouldn’t be attributed to your opponent. One lesson of the volatility of the past dozen years is that fairly or not, the president’s party tends to get the credit or blame for the economy—or at least for the way people perceive the economy. Biden is visiting swing states this week to sell American Rescue Plan’s focus on giving Americans vaccines and money, but with economists across the ideological spectrum forecasting explosive growth, many veterans of the 2009 stimulus wars believe the economy will be all the sales pitch the bill needs. ‘We’re going to see some fairly amazing economic numbers, and I imagine for the next few years, people will look around and say: ‘This is pretty darn good!’ says American Enterprise Institute fellow James Pethokoukis, a conservative economist who believes the Biden stimulus is somewhat excessive. ‘I’m sure Republicans will try to spin this, and I have long-term concerns myself, but the reality of a crazy strong expansion will be tough to spin away.'” • Those vaccines had better work against the variants, and re-opening, especially school re-opening, had better work. I think Democrat triumphalism and Republican doominess are equally misplaced. Perhaps that’s why the Greed and Fear meter has been neutral, lately.

Democrats en Deshabille

“Illinois governor signs off on law that caps consumer loan rates at 36%” [CNBC]. • That decimal point’s not in the wrong place?

Republican Funhouse

“A ‘nuclear winter’ foretold” [Axios]. “A Senate operating in the ‘nuclear winter‘ Minority Leader Mitch McConnell promises if the filibuster is eliminated is one in which lawmakers face incessant roll calls and other inconveniences turning their comfortable lives into a living hell. Why it matters: In employing apocalyptic language to warn about a ‘scorched-earth’ response, the Kentucky Republican is trying to scare Democrats away from the tool they’re considering to break through the GOP’s own political obstinance.” • I say go for it, especially if the outcome is liberal Democrats cornering themselves into delivering concrete material benefits to the working class, in a crass attempt to win the midterms.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Luxury’s Silence Amid Anti-Asian Violence Runs Deep” [The Popular Times]. “Even in conversations surrounding fashion’s response to the current crimes, one of the sticking points is the hypocrisy of the industry’s continued silence, despite it doubling down on its dependence on mainland China. This argument simplifies the cultural complexities within the Asian diaspora, mainland China, and other Asian communities. The ‘fashion’ issue at hand runs much deeper and is rooted in the industry’s reluctance to truly build brands or marketing campaigns that honor minorities. The industry’s ‘one size fits all’ approach to understanding Asia, China, and its associated diaspora no longer works. Below, we look into the factors that continue to block the industry from progress and aim to shed light on the dynamics of the Asian diaspora.” • Could it be inventing and imposing a category and a name (Latinx, “Asian”), sorting individuals and communities into it based on crude approximations of their ascriptive identities (skin color; hair; eyes), and then bleaching it of all history, class, conflict, and nuance (except for that which can be commoditized, like food, music, fashion, and the careerist “voice” “representing” said invented category) is just about — hear me out — the “whitest” thing of all? A long rhetorical question, I know.

“My Asian American awakening echoes America’s. Now it’s time for an AAPI movement.” [NBC]. “Today, as we observe the ongoing consequences of anti-Asian hate, we are also seeing AAPI journalists conspicuously like never before. Their reporting is tinged with something specific. What you are seeing is conflict; conflict between their job and the expectations society has long held for many in the AAPI community. We are done being your “model” minority. And we want you to listen to us, about the discrimination and xenophobia and fear and pain that has colored the experiences of AAPI Americans in this country for decades. For centuries.” * But in this telling, it is the hate that creates the “us,” not the “we.” “To see ourselves as others see us” is not always a good thing.

“Duckworth Backs Off Vow To Block Biden Nominees Over Lack Of AAPI Cabinet Members” [NPR]. “Sen. Tammy Duckworth and the White House broke an impasse over the Illinois Democrat’s pledge to block President Biden’s nominees who aren’t diverse candidates as a protest over a lack of Asian American representation in the new administration. Under their deal announced late Tuesday, the White House will add a senior liaison to the community and, in exchange, Duckworth will support Biden’s nominees.” More: “‘There’s no AAPI representation in the Cabinet,’ Duckworth told Capitol Hill reporters Tuesday afternoon. ‘There’s not a single AAPI in a Cabinet position. That’s unacceptable.'” • This is certainly an odd notion of “representation.” For a democracy, I mean.

“Coverage of Bay Area Anti-Asian Violence Is Missing a Key Element” (interview) [Claire Jean Kim, Slate]. From the introduction: “Some (not all) of the video evidence of anti-Asian attacks in the Bay Area has featured Black perpetrators.” If Robert Aaron Long had been Black, would the Atlanta massage parlor shootings have been seen as an opportunity for an identity politics-driven moral panic in a Swing state? I’m guessing no. From Kim: “if you use that frame, you make it an Asian-Black thing, you’re focusing on the two groups and taking attention away from the larger structures of power in which they’re embedded—not just racial structures, but also capitalism. Think about the relationship between Korean merchants buying a liquor store in Compton, and their Black customers. This is about capitalism, the way it creates divisions between groups and deems certain people disposable. What we see in the United States are these periodic attacks on Asian Americans, always related to something else going on in the world. In this case it’s COVID. In the 1980s, it was U.S.-Japan trade relations. In the 1870s, it was a regional depression in the West and Southwest, and white workers turned against Chinese American workers. So there’s always been some kind of larger economic, political cause for these upsurges in anti-Asian violence. I think that’s different from what we see with anti-Black violence. Violence against Black people in this country is continuous, structural; violence against Asians is more periodic, contingent on events.” • So much history, much of it horrid, and nuance. Well worth a read.

“How the Atlanta spa shootings forced me to confront my biracial identity” [NBC]. “No matter how white I felt in Westchester County, this world has always seen me as an Asian American woman.”

This is why I think of conservative politics a “funhouse” mirror:

Opportunists fabricate, as it were, “emergent conspiracies.”

Stats Watch

“Headline Durable Goods New Orders Declined In February 2021” [Econintersect]. “The headlines say the durable goods new orders declined and broke a nine-month improvement streak. Our analysis shows the rolling averages declined…. In the adjusted data, the decline was widespread except for civilian aircraft which significantly improved.”

* * *

Shipping: “Container ship stranded in Suez Canal still stuck, says marine agent GAC” [Reuters]. ”

The container ship stranded in the Suez Canal is still grounded and canal authorities are working to refloat it, an official at marine agent GAC said on Wednesday. Ahmed Mekawy, an assistant manager at GAC’s Egypt office, said the Dubai-based agent had earlier received inaccurate information that the Ever Given had been partially refloated.” • Whoops.

Shipping: “Suez Canal blocked by massive container ship Ever Given: Live” [Al Jazeera]. “Evergreen Marine Corp., a major Taiwan-based shipping company that operates the ship, said in a statement that the Ever Given had been overcome by strong winds as it entered the Suez Canal. Such an incident, [Gerry Northwood, Chairman of the risk and security management company MAST] explained [is] ‘a bit of a warning .. of a reminder’ of the vulnerability of the canal and its potential for global disruption.” • Strong winds off the Sahara? Chance in a million. Good live coverage from Al Jazeera. Here’s a photo:

Look on my works, ye mighty…

Tech: “Amazon, the Crappy Monopolist” [James Kwak]. “Amazon isn’t even using its magic to improve the consumer experience. For many product categories, buying something requires scrolling through dozens of similar, poorly written listings, many offering the same product. When I worked at Ariba twenty years ago, this was known as the “content problem”: when many different sellers offer overlapping goods in the same marketplace, it’s difficult to clean up all the data so that buyers can see which products are actually the same and compare relevant information about them. Despite all its geniuses, Amazon hasn’t solved this problem.” • This is also true of Google’s News Feed, where you see the same wire service story presented over and over again from different venues (and if it didn’t, the news desert we live in might be more visible). Well worth a read.

The Bezzle: “Tesla’s Autopilot Technology Faces Fresh Scrutiny” [New York Times]. “Federal officials are looking into a series of recent accidents involving Teslas that either were using Autopilot or might have been using it. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration confirmed last week that it was investigating 23 such crashes…. Bryant Walker Smith, a professor at the University of South Carolina who has advised the federal government on automated driving, said it was important to develop advanced technologies to reduce traffic fatalities, which now number about 40,000 a year. But he said he had concerns about Autopilot, and how the name and Tesla’s marketing imply drivers can safely turn their attention away from the road. ‘There is an incredible disconnect between what the company and its founder are saying and letting people believe, and what their system is actually capable of,’ he said. Tesla, which disbanded its public relations department and generally does not respond to inquiries from reporters, did not return phone calls or emails seeking comment.”

The Bezzle: “Why it will be years before robot butlers take over your household chores” [WaPo]. “companies are having a hard time commercializing anything more complex than a Roomba — which has been vacuuming houses for 20 years…. It’s not that the safety issues at home can’t be solved. It’s that they haven’t been solved yet, robotics companies say.” •  [nods vigorously]. More: “In 2020, Walmart pulled its inventory robots from the floor after reportedly finding that humans can scan products more simply and more efficiently than bulky six-foot-tall machines.” • Sensing a pattern…

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 45 Neutral (previous close: 49 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 58 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 24 at 12:24pm. One year ago, just after the Before Times: 13 (Extreme Fear).

Health Care

It’s been on my mental list to look at Ivermectin again:

“Use of Ivermectin Is Associated With Lower Mortality in Hospitalized Patients With Coronavirus Disease 2019” [Chest Journal]. “Ivermectin treatment was associated with lower mortality during treatment of COVID-19, especially in patients with severe pulmonary involvement. Randomized controlled trials are needed to confirm these findings.”

“The broad spectrum host-directed agent ivermectin as an antiviral for SARS-CoV-2?” [Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications]. This is a very useful review of the literature, from January. “Although these early results are consistent with efficacy, it is clear that only the results from large rigorous randomized clinical trials (Table 3) will definitively establish ivermectin’s utility to treat or prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection. It is to be hoped that the results from these trials will emerge in the next few months to document ivermectin’s credentials or otherwise as a viable therapeutic for COVID-19 infection, and potentially infection by many other viruses.”

“Sharp Reductions in COVID-19 Case Fatalities and Excess Deaths in Peru in Close Time Conjunction, State-By-State, with Ivermectin Treatments” [SSRN]. “For the 24 states with early IVM treatment (and Lima), excess deaths dropped 59% (25%) at +30 days and 75% (25%) at +45 days after day of peak deaths. Case fatalities likewise dropped sharply in all states but Lima, yet six indices of Google-tracked community mobility rose over the same period. For nine states having mass distributions of IVM in a short timeframe through a national program, Mega-Operación Tayta (MOT), excess deaths at +30 days dropped by a population-weighted mean of 74%, each drop beginning within 11 day after MOT start. Extraneous causes of mortality reductions were ruled out. These sharp major reductions in COVID-19 mortality following IVM treatment thus occurred in each of Peru’s states, with such especially sharp reductions in close time conjunction with IVM treatments in each of the nine states of operation MOT. Its safety well established even at high doses, IVM is a compelling option for immediate, large scale national deployments as an interim measure and complement to pandemic control through vaccinations.”

“Ivermectin: Game changer vs Covid-19? What’s the controversy?” [Manila Times]. “Who has taken the jump to use it on mass scale? Slovakia became the first country in the European Union to officially adopt Ivermectin as a treatment for Covid-19, followed by Mexico City, which makes it standard care for the largest city in the Western hemisphere. Haiti is another. The Critical Care Alliance cites the country of Haiti having far lower, almost negligible infection rates than the US (https://bit.ly/2Qo8ViJ), possibly from mass use. In Brazil, India, Turkey, Poland and Dominican Republic, data are being studied. Peru also jumped in. The Critical Care Alliance and Chamie, Hibberd, Scheim studies show that in 24 Peruvian states, over 30 million population, case fatality and infections dropped drastically for all except Lima, despite large increase in population physical interaction shown by Google tracked mobility.

“Top Yale Doctor/Researcher: ‘Ivermectin works,’ including for long-haul COVID” [Trial Site News]. “. Alessandro Santin, a practicing oncologist and scientist who runs a large laboratory at Yale, believes firmly that ivermectin could vastly cut suffering from COVID-19. Santin joins a growing group of doctors committed to using the safe, generic drug both as an early home treatment to prevent hospitalization and alongside inpatient treatments like steroids and oxygen. ‘The bottom line is that ivermectin works. I’ve seen that in my patients as well as treating my own family in Italy,’ Santin said in an interview, referring to his father, 88, who recently suffered a serious bout of COVID. ‘We must find a way to administer it on a large scale to a lot of people.'”

“Censorship Kills: The Shunning of a COVID Therapeutic” [Pierre Kory, RealClearPolitics]. “Early in the pandemic, my research led me to testify in the Senate that corticosteroids were life-saving against COVID-19, when all national and international health care agencies recommended against them. My recommendations were criticized, ignored and resisted such that I felt forced to resign my faculty position. Only later did a large study from Oxford University find they were indeed life-saving. Overnight, they became the standard of care worldwide. More recently, we identified through dozens of trials that the drug ivermectin leads to large reductions in transmission, mortality, and time to clinical recovery. After testifying to this fact in a second Senate appearance — the video of which was removed by YouTube after garnering over 8 million views — I was forced to leave another position. I was delighted when our paper on ivermectin passed a rigorous peer review and was accepted by Frontiers in Pharmacology. The abstract was viewed over 102,000 times by people hungry for answers. Six weeks later, the journal suddenly rejected the paper, based on an unnamed ‘external expert‘ who stated that “our conclusions were unsupported,” contradicting the four senior, expert peer reviewers who had earlier accepted them. I can’t help but interpret this in context as censorship. The science shows that ivermectin works. Over 40 randomized trials and observational studies from around the world attest to its efficacy against the novel coronavirus. Meta-analyses by four separate research groups, including ours, found an average reduction in mortality of between 68%-75%. And 10 of 13 randomized controlled trials found statistically significant reductions in time to viral clearance, an effect not associated with any other COVID-19 therapeutic. Furthermore, ivermectin has an unparalleled safety record and low cost, which should negate any fears or resistance to immediate adoption. Our manuscript conclusions were further supported by the British Ivermectin Recommendation Development (BIRD) Panel.”

* * *

“SARS-CoV-2 Infection after Vaccination in Health Care Workers in California” [NEJM (IM)]. “From December 16, 2020, through February 9, 2021, a total of 36,659 health care workers received the first dose of vaccine, and 28,184 of these persons (77%) received the second dose. Among the vaccinated health care workers, 379 unique persons tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 at least 1 day after vaccination, and the majority (71%) of these persons tested positive within the first 2 weeks after the first dose. After receiving both vaccinations, 37 health care workers tested positive; of these workers, 22 had positive test results 1 to 7 days after the second dose. Only 8 health care workers tested positive 8 to 14 days after the second vaccination, and 7 tested positive 15 or more days after the second vaccination (Table 1). As of February 9, a total of 5455 health care workers at UCSD and 9535 at UCLA had received the second dose 2 or more weeks previously; these findings correspond to a positivity rate of 0.05%. In our cohort, the absolute risk of testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 after vaccination was 1.19% among health care workers at UCSD and 0.97% among those at UCLA; these rates are higher than the risks reported in the trials of mRNA-1273 vaccine1 and BNT162b2 vaccine.2 Possible explanations for this elevated risk include the availability of regular testing for asymptomatic and symptomatic persons at our institutions, a regional surge in infections in Southern California during our vaccination campaigns,5 and differences in demographic characteristics between the trial participants and the health care workers in our cohort.”

“The Hellfire Preacher Who Promoted Inoculation” [JSTOR Daily]. “[When smallpox] arrived on a ship in April 1721, it spread too quickly for the standard measures of quarantining the sick and cleaning the streets to stop it….. [The Rev. Cotton] Mather [yes, that Cotton Mather] had learned about inoculation more than a decade earlier, from an African man named Onesimus, whom he enslaved. When he asked if Onesimus had ever had smallpox, the man showed him a scar on his arm and explained that his community in Africa used infected material from one person to inoculate others against the disease. A few years later, Mather read a report from Turkey describing a similar procedure…. Mather then sent a personal letter to Zabdiel Boylston, a physician, surgeon, and apothecary known for his willingness to undertake risky surgeries. Boylston was impressed with the evidence Mather offered and tried the procedure out on three patients, including his own six-year-old son. They suffered from fever and other symptoms but recovered well… The epidemic petered out over the winter, with more than 800 people dead. Of 287 inoculation patients, only six died. Yet despite this apparent success, many people remained unconvinced that Mather and Boylston’s method worked.” • Plus ça change….

Class Warfare

“Younger Amazon Workers in Bessemer, New to Unions, Are Still Undecided” [The Intercept]. ““Everyone’s been confused,” said Jason, who like many of the 10 Bessemer warehouse workers interviewed for this story did not provide his surname for fear of repercussions. ‘In my opinion, no one around my age in the building has a clear-cut answer of how they’re going to decide.’ The 20-year-old stower — responsible for lifting boxes and scanning them for processing over a grueling 10-hour shift — is part of a sizable group of younger, noncommittal BHM1 workers. Their votes or abstentions could determine the outcome of the most closely watched American union election in decades. In a sign of the push to engage young workers in the union drive, groundwork is being laid to bring Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., to Alabama this weekend, according to two sources with knowledge of the planning. The trip, being put together by Sanders’s office and a constellation of activist groups, along with the union organizing Amazon workers, would bring one of Congress’s most ardent supporters of the labor push to the front line. More than 80 percent of the 5,805 Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer are Black. While Sanders underperformed among Black voters in Southern Democratic primaries during the 2020 presidential race, younger Black Americans were more likely to support him. Jason, who is Black, is sympathetic to the union effort but admits his unfamiliarity with unions has delayed his decision. His story resembles that of other younger workers in the warehouse — something an older generation of local workers, many of whom have led the union drive, has come to recognize. ‘Some of the young people don’t realize what the union’s all about because they haven’t been taught the history,’ said Mona Darby, a local poultry processing plant worker who has been a union member for 33 years. Darby was one of two dozen poultry and warehouse workers who showed up last October outside the Amazon warehouse to effectively launch the RWDSU’s on-the-ground organizing campaign.” • ”The death wind has etched away their past.” –Frank Herbert, Children of Dune.

News of the Wired

“Quantum Mischief Rewrites the Laws of Cause and Effect” [Quanta]. “What we normally think of as causal relationships — such as photons traveling from one region of the sky to another, correlating measurements made in the first region with measurements made later in the second region — act, in Hardy’s formalism, like data compression. There’s a reduction in the amount of information needed to describe the whole system, since one set of probabilities determines another. Hardy called his new formalism the ‘causaloid’ framework, where the causaloid is the mathematical object used to calculate the probabilities of outcomes of any measurement in any region.” • Causality as a form of data compression. I’ll have to think about that one, maybe call in my theory checker.

* * *
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 (AM):

AM writes: “The mighty oak tree in Roger Williams Park, Providence RI. 4:22 on February 21 – the days are getting longer!!!! And brighter!” I’m still running winter pictures when for many of you spring has sprung; I suppose the upside is that I run lovely fall foliage when the snow is flying.

* * *
Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the recently concluded and — thank you! — successful annual NC fundraiser. So if you see a link you especially like, or an item you wouldn’t see anywhere else, please do not hesitate to express your appreciation in tangible form. Remember, a tip jar is for tipping! Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of donations helps me with expenses, and I factor in that trickle when setting fundraising goals:

Here is the screen that will appear, which I have helpfully annotated.

If you hate PayPal, you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check. Thank you!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Water Cooler on by .

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. Samuel Conner

    I imagine that the US healthcare system will become enthusiastic about Ivermectin … if a way is found to patent its use as an antiviral therapy. Otherwise, what’s the point? Conventional treatments, or no treatment and long-term influenza-style mitigation with patented vaccines, is a much more sensible business plan.

    1. Glen

      Indeed, rather than look at America s horrible performance with CV as an opportunity to reform, we seem to see an acceleration of $hitification.

      Bravo Biden! For exceeding our expectations of “nothing will fundamentally change” to “you think American deathcare money suck is bad now, hold my beer”…

    2. ambrit

      This is not a standard ‘flu.’ It has a ‘long covid’ component that has just been seen and not analyzed yet. Why? Because we are just at the beginning of this new malignancy. If ivermectin does constrain the extent of damage the ‘long covid’ component of the disease inflicts, then it is going to be important for future complications, social cohesion, economic productivity, etc etc.
      Plain old ivermectin is now in the generic stage of life. I would not be surprised to see Big Pharma try to steal ‘rents’ from the public for a reformulated ivermectin.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I would not be surprised to see Big Pharma try to steal ‘rents’ from the public for a reformulated ivermectin.

        Good point. Patented, if possible.

        1. Baldanders

          “Merck, known as MSD outside the US and Canada, markets ivermectin as Stromectol for human use to treat onchocerciasis and intestinal strongyloidiasis. In a 4 February press statement Merck noted that its own analysis revealed “No scientific basis for a potential therapeutic effect against COVID-19 from pre-clinical studies,” as well as a lack of “meaningful evidence” for clinical activity or efficacy in patients.

          Merck also cited a “concerning lack of safety data in the majority of studies.” Both EMA and FDA noted that clinical trials are ongoing examining the use of ivermectin for prophylaxis or treatment of COVID-19.”

          Might be difficult to do after those statements..


          1. pjay

            >“No scientific basis for a potential therapeutic effect against COVID-19 from pre-clinical studies,” as well as a lack of “meaningful evidence” for clinical activity or efficacy in patients.

            So what is “meaningful evidence” here? What do we mean by a “scientific basis”? Are none of the data from the clinical observations by highly qualified medical professionals listed in Lambert’s six articles above “meaningful”? Why not? And are “large randomized clinical trials” the *only* basis for making “scientific” claims here? Or more importantly, the *only* legitimate basis for considering a potentially promising treatment that is at the very least safe (the misleading implications about dosage in this article to the contrary)?

          2. IM Doc

            I would let everyone know that Merck is also in the final stages of approval for a brand new oral anti-COVID agent – that will possibly be hitting the market soon – assuming it is approved.

            This downplaying of other drugs like this, especially in your own company’s arsenal, is standard operating procedure in the pharma industry. The difference now is it is being played out for the world and not just the medical community. I have seen this repeatedly done over the years.

            They will do everything they can not to cannibalize the market for their new, expensive upcoming agent – if that includes torpedoing their older drugs – so be it.

            They are all pretty much total slimeballs.

            As far as safety – it has literally been given over the years in multiple billions of doses – and has a vanishingly small side effect and complication profile. Much less problematic than things like remdesevir or even these vaccines. I have not a clue what they are talking about there. I have seen no studies with any kind of safety issues elucidated.

            It has worked amazingly well for my patients. I have had a marked drop off in people being admitted to the hospital. If our government agencies forbid its off-label use for COVID – they are really going to open up an entire can of worms. The common uses of dozens/hundreds of drugs in an off-label manner is staggering. The FDA simply cannot take the risk to forbid JUST ivermectin for off-label use.

            1. ilpalazzo

              Anybody can recommend a form of veterinary ivermectin that would be most suitable for human medication?

              In Poland it is only approved for human treatment as a cream for acne.

          3. Duke of Prunes

            Ivermectin has been in medical use since 1981, is FDA approved and is listed by the WHO as an “essential medicine”, but Merck doesn’t think it’s safe because of lack of studies. 40 years of use doesn’t count?

            The problem with all of these cheap drugs that look promising is that the “emergency use” authorization for the COVID vaccines is only valid if there is no other known treatment. Can’t let that happen.

            At first, I was confused what Merck’s angle is since they stopped development on their vaccine. However, low and behold, they are working on other therapeudics, MK-4482 and MK-7110. Never saw that coming…

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        The dissident health community should learn all it can about using veterinary ivermectin from Tractor Supply or wherever in order to be able to use it instead of the Martin Shkrelli ivermectin which will be prescribed and charged for at Martin Shkrelli prices when the pharmaceutical industrial complex can figure out how to patent it and shkrellify it.

      3. Harold

        1919 “Standard flu” had long term consequence of frozen Parkinson Disease sufferers and later schizophrenia in some recovered patients. Perhaps others we don’t know about.

        1. Isotope_C14

          Well said Harold.

          Remember though, capitalists love recurring payments for treatments.

          I love that meme found on twitter where the capitalist is sawing off the branch he sits on and the caption says “Perhaps I can get $20 for this branch”.

        1. chuck roast

          I have red mange!!!!! Anyway, I ain’t buyin’ in to this Ivermectin thing until I hear that Fauchi has taken an equity position.

          1. ambrit

            Hold it right there pardner. This Doc Fauchi has a reputation for changing his “position,” equitable or not, depending which way the wind blows out of the fundaments of Big Pharma, Big Med, and Big Bureaucracy.
            Oh, and, ‘chuck roast,’ I’ve got a case of this “Red Mange” too. I’ve been a bit of a ‘Red’ for most of my life. And I have been described as scrofulous and deplorable as well.

    3. Pelham

      Perhaps we should make it legal for anyone to buy off-patent pharmaceuticals for personal use. Personally, I’d like to have a stash of Ivermectin in a go-bag ready for a dash to the ER.

      1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

        The big thing with Ivermectin is that it can be used as an early treatment, rather than what has been common practice of becoming infected, told to stay at home & see how it goes until you get over it or your lips become blue, leading to a trip to the hospital once it has a large grip on you that it harder to treat.

        The FLCCC website provides a regimen including their recommended dosage of the drug, which should be taken asap once infected.

        They also include IMO 2 videos of note one of which features a doctor who treated 6 of 7 carehomes in the US successfully, with the other one under another physician who did not adopt the treatment having a much higher death rate.

        The other is from a hospital in Cushing Oklahoma, where the head doctor treated about 800 patients with much success….oh & another one I like which features Louie Gosset jnr who was in a bad way until he took it, which I suppose is only really notable because I have always liked him & I am glad that he is now well on the mend.


    4. Dwight

      Operation Slow Walk: “It is to be hoped that the results from these trials will emerge in the next few months to document ivermectin’s credentials”

  2. NotTimothyGeithner

    Re: the casting couch

    Is the Biden team deliberately sabotaging Harris? She’s the VP. She could probably swing just about anyone other than Bill Clinton for a women’s issues panel.

    1. ambrit

      Seeing as how Harris is seen as a Clintonite, and Biden is an Obamaation, such a theory has merit. Also, as a Clintonite, Hillary and Company must have called in some serious ‘markers’ to have Harris agree to take part in what has all the earmarks of a “rehabilitation” of Bill Clinton. I mean, put Bill Clinton and Young Women together in one of those word map puzzles and watch the fun.

        1. ambrit

          Stepping back one more step, I can see this also as a means of tying Harris closer to the Clinton camp. Then, when Biden has his 25th Amendment moment, the Clintonites can steal a march on their hated Obamabot rivals through their influence with a President Harris.
          Remember, rehabilitating Bill Clinton indirectly rehabilitates Hillary Clinton. It removes much of the power any attack on Bill Clinton has to harm the public image of Hillary Clinton. There is also the dreaded Clinton Foundation’s coffers to consider. The next best revenue source for the Clinton Foundation, other than a President Hillary, would be a “behind the scenes” mover and shaker Hillary at the White House.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            I would really like to see Tulsi Gabbard run through somebody’s upcoming primary season.

          2. NotTimothyGeithner

            I see the advantage from the Clinton side easily enough, though Hillary and Chelsea aren’t doing anything. Oh sure, Hillary is co-writing with Louise Penny. This is simply baffling. Was Cuomo unavailable? Its not like donations to the Clinton Foundation are coming in anymore.

            I’m astonished. Its just an error I can’t even fathom. Even Bill’s dead enders wouldn’t care, and really anyone who is still attached to Bill wouldn’t vote Harris. Lets just be honest.

            1. ambrit

              “Bill’s dead enders” sounds like a necrophilic cult.
              I really wouldn’t put even that past the old roue.

      1. Dr. John Carpenter

        This is the answer I’m going with.

        And what’s Kamala going to do, say no? It seems to me she owes the Clintons and isn’t yet in a position where she can blow them off.

        1. Geo

          Same. Out of touch is the most obvious answer. If they had any self-awareness at all they would know that Bill is the last person to host a panel for women’s issues. That they don’t realize how much this choice demerits the whole event is as clear a sign as any that they don’t know how the whole world outside their bubble sees him.

          Reminds me of my favorite Trump moment: when he invited Bill’s accusers to the debate after the “grab ‘em by the p***y” tape leaked. Top notch trolling. Takes a scoundrel to truly know a scoundrel.

          1. Dr. John Carpenter

            The only thing I like about Trump, and the real reason TPTB have issue with him, is he is a world class troll who knows where the dirty laundry is stashed and won’t let a little thing like hypocrisy get in the way. Of course, it’s a double edged sword. Because of who he is, they can push what he’s saying to the margins and tar it as conspiracy theory, even when it’s true.

    2. Martin Oline

      I can’t help but wonder if the offer to co-host the forum had gone to Hillary but she got in a snit and declined. It is HER office that Harris will be occupying in the future you know.

    3. The Rev Kev

      ‘Is the Biden team deliberately sabotaging Harris?’

      I would say yes. Kamala being with Bill Clinton is already a disaster – for her – and people on Twitter are asking ‘Was Epstein not available?’ So now old Joe has put Kamala Harris in charge of the border which is rapidly shaping up to be the biggest, contentious problem for the Democrats this year. Anything that happens like children in cages will be all on her and would destroy the support that she does have. Frankly I do not care as it could not happen to a nicer person but who is in the wings getting ready to replace her?


      1. Tom Doak

        I would say that assigning her to deal with the immigration issue today is much more dangerous to her political future. Biden still remembers the game of Hot Potato from his youth!

  3. ambrit

    Lambert; It is most definitely looking like spring here in the North American Deep South.
    The wisteria are in full bloom, as are the azaleas, snow drops, some clovers (the red variety,) dogwoods, and others. The local “wisdom” is that spring is officially here when the pecan trees put out their tassels. Not quite there yet.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Much as I enjoy images of Winter, and particularly images of the beautiful design trees manifest, I suspect it might be well to hold back a supply of Winter images to succor the heat of coming Summer, as select Summer images might occasionally warm Winter and the cold rains of Spring. Winter in Spring tends to chill my old bones.

      1. tsyganka

        Yes. That’s good advice. And also:
        “Dandelion wine will make you remember
        The first day of spring in the middle of December.”
        (wish I could find that song again)

    2. Wukchumni

      Spring is in full swing here too, the redbud trees about a week away from being violently violet-there must be thousands around these parts, and the blue dicks are in the purple. So far golden poppies haven’t really made the splash they’re capable of, but give it time.

      You kind of wish you could swap out a perfect spring day of 65 degrees and sunny, for a more loathsome August hottie when it’s 107 in the shade and sweltering.

    1. John A

      If from that photo, they are trying to push the Ever Given away from the bank with that digger truck, no wonder it is still stuck.

      1. wadge22


        I mean it’d be stupid to sit there idling and not try to push it, right? What else are these guys gonna do to help?

      2. Aumua

        I’d like to know where the oft quoted name Ever Given comes from? Pictures I’ve seen of the boat clearly say Ever Green on the side of it, which is a much more sensible name than “Ever Given”, whatever that is supposed to mean.

      3. John Zelnicker

        @John A
        March 24, 2021 at 4:33 pm

        It’s hard to tell, but that ship, like most large ships, has a big, bulbous nose under the waterline that is stuck into the bank of the canal. It extends about 10-15 feet into the bank.

        This is from Links this morning: https://twitter.com/jsrailton/status/1374483438066012165 Scroll down to the captioned pictures to see one of the nose of a similar ship. You can also see a backhoe in one of the pictures, which makes a lot more sense than the bulldozer shown in the picture above.

  4. Lee

    “Those vaccines had better work against the variants, and re-opening, especially school re-opening, had better work. I think Democrat triumphalism and Republican doominess are equally misplaced. Perhaps that’s why the Greed and Fear meter has been neutral, lately.”

    No market maven me, but aren’t the current average price to earnings ratios of the major U.S. stock market indices rather high compared to their historical averages? What, if anything, might that portend?

  5. JTMcPhee

    One of many successes in the divide-and-conquer strategies of the Overclass: “Nail Salon Brawls & Boycotts: Unpacking The Black-Asian Conflict In America,”

    So hard to keep the working stiffs from getting together and taking back from the Overclass. So much easier and so much more instantly gratifying to choose up arbitrary small-group “sides” and kick each others’ heads in… While the Rich go “tsk, tsk” and enact ever tighter clamp-downs on righteous actions, to protect their “propity rahts” and enclave existences…

    Do the right thing? What is that, again?

  6. Jeremy Grimm

    For amusement, I have been listening to an audiobook of “Hyperion”, by Dan Simmons [opinion: I enjoyed his books … but like Tolkien he would have benefited from the tender mercies of a good editor. The Consul’s tale about his grandmother Siri made me wonder about the provenance of Apple’s name for its speech avatar. I was surprised that Amazon had not used that name in place of ‘Alexa’, and I wondered how ‘Siri’ might have beaten ‘iSpeak’ or the like for naming an Apple device. After all, I am not sure how or why the name Siri should become fitting for a device like Apple’s or Amazon’s speech interface.

    1. Bazarov

      By the standards I judge short story collections (a good one has more strong stories than weak, a great one has at least two superlative stories), “Hyperion” is great. The Priest’s Tale and The Scholar’s Tale are excellent, with The Poet’s Tale and The Soldier’s Tale close on their heels.

      I thought The Detective’s Tale and The Consul’s Tale were both pretty bad, the former too much interested in cheesy action/pulp-homage and the latter too pretentious.

      The Shrike is a truly terrifying creation.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        Perhaps the pretentiousness unwittingly fits the name ‘Siri’ to the Apple device.

  7. Tom

    Bill Clinton interviewing Kamala on Covid’s impact on women. FFS. Bill Clinton. Wonder if he’ll tell any Jeffrey Epstein stories.

    1. Geo

      I’m sure he’ll have lots of great advice for young women who want to get ahead in the workplace. /s

      Years ago Chelsea and her hubby were keynote speakers at an event for young entrepreneurs from disadvantaged communities. I remember thinking then that this is the most obscene choice of speakers. I mean, when your career success is entirely nepotism what worthwhile advice can you give to poor inner city kids?

      They topped it with this one though. This is much more obscene.

      1. The Rev Kev

        There could be a great TV series about the Clinton family like is being done for the Royal Family going back to when they both met while busting a union line, their Alabama days and all the rest of it. But there is no way in hell that you would ever be allowed to film such a series. Even if they both fell off their perches, too many people are wrapped up in the Clinton brand both financially & emotionally and now you have Chelsea. I have sometimes thought that at the very least there could be a great play written about Hillary on Election Night in 2016 as it has fantastic potential for some pretty dramatic scenes. I’d pay to go see that.

      2. chuck roast

        Now, now…we need Chelsea and her hubby to team up with Ivanka and Jared. They have everything in common…is common the right word? Imagine a guest talk fest including a surprise visit from Archie and his royal mom and dad. This is the kind of wonderful advice we all need in these trying times. One can only hope….

  8. Swamp Yankee

    Re: inoculation.

    Inoculation was an extremely contentious issue in colonial New England that mapped on to larger, extant social divides. For example, Ethan Allen, future Green Mountain Boy and founder of the Vermont Republic (later State of Vermont), along with his brother, Ira, are charged with blasphemy in Connecticut, near where they were born, in the 1760s, for denouncing a local minister’s efforts to inoculate the Town, saying that he’d rather be held down “by a thousand little Beelzebubs” than to accept the minister’s inoculation; one of the issues was if the whole town didn’t consent to be inoculated, any inoculation efforts caused a real risk to the uninoculated. More significantly, inoculation was viewed by both backcountry farmers and political-social radicals — the Allens were both — as an elite project aimed at social control, and with a real risk of death.

    This larger social conflict, as well as the personal difficulty involved, are part of the reason the Allens remove to Vermont in the first place (then the New Hampshire Grants, a disputed zone between the Colonies of New Hampshire and New York that was filling up with New England settlers).

    1. chris

      That’s fascinating. Do you have any links for the bit of history with the minister trying to inoculate his flock and the crew of founding rebels resisting it on religious grounds?

      1. Swamp Yankee

        I’d have to dig the reference up from my 16 year old undergraduate thesis. I believe the details can be found in either Van de Water’s The Reluctant Republic: Vermont, 1724-1791 or in Belleisles, Revolutionary Outlaws: Ethan Allen and the Struggle for Independence on the American Frontier.

        Belleisles later became infamous for fabricating research in his later book on the origins of gun culture in America, but so far as I know his earlier book on Vermont remains solid. At any rate the original charges against the Allens can almost certainly be found in local (Town Mtgs and/or County Courts) or State of Connecticut archives.

  9. Harold

    When you consider that most medications contained poisons, you can understand the refusal of many to ingest them. For example, mercury mixed with rose petals was widely used as a laxative for soldiers during the Civil War.

  10. Dikaios Logos

    Strong winds in Egypt/Suez ship catastrophe:

    I know a storm seems unlikely, but I was in Alexandria in early 1992 when the eastern Mediterranean was getting pounded by a, I believe, winter cyclone. Lots of stuff on the shore, like street lamps, had been blown over. With climate change, I can imagine these things might be more frequent and more serious when they happen. Not sure that’s the case here, but it bears consideration.

    1. JohnnySacks

      Not sure of current flowing in Suez canal, but couple strong winds with a current running in the same direction as the ship is traveling and there’s very little rudder control to be had. But if my job was piloting a vessel that large and expensive, I’d sure as hell know that.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      I’ve been on Crete during heavy, hot, and dusty windstorms and was told by the locals the winds came from Africa – from what I could tell it was a fairly regular occurrence.

  11. kareninca

    I am still trying to figure out the significance of this article and the study that it discusses: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/12/coronavirus-may-sometimes-slip-its-genetic-material-human-chromosomes-what-does-mean.

    The coronavirus may sometimes slip its genetic material into human chromosomes—but what does that mean?
    By Jon CohenDec. 16, 2020 , 6:30 PM
    “People who recover from COVID-19 sometimes later test positive for SARS-CoV-2, suggesting their immune systems could not ward off a second attack by the coronavirus or that they have a lingering infection. A study now hints at a different explanation in which the virus hides in an unexpected place. The work, only reported in a preprint, suggests the pandemic pathogen takes a page from HIV and other retroviruses and integrates its genetic code—but, importantly, just parts of it—into people’s chromosomes. The phenomenon, if true and frequent, could have profound implications that range from false signals of active infection to misleading results from COVID-19 treatment studies.

    The current study only showed this integration in a lab dish, although it also cites published sequence data from humans infected with SARS-CoV-2 that suggest it has happened. The authors emphasize that their results don’t imply that SARS-CoV-2 establishes permanent genetic residence in human cells to keep pumping out new copies, as HIV does.”

    It is strange; some links to this article are no longer working, and it is very hard to find by regular searching. And I am not finding other discussions of the study. Has it been superseded or disproven? It is a real study done by real scientists at the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, MA; here is the preprint: https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.12.12.422516v1.full.pdf (SARS-CoV-2 RNA reverse-transcribed and integrated into the human genome).

    1. Isotope_C14

      Hello kereninca,

      Viruses are very good at surviving, Human papillomavirus HPV (Warts) sometimes write themselves into individual cells, and becoming “lysogens”. This is why sometimes a wart comes back in essentially the exact same place. This does not mean that it infects your entire body.

      It is thought that these events can actually be sources of mutation, depending on where the virus writes itself.

      Now in the pre-print that you link, they are doing this in cell lines, which have no immune system of their own. I wouldn’t worry too much about this becoming a situation where ex-infected patients are virus factories, which you point out. There’s a lot of parts of the immune system that are not represented in vitro (in pure cell lines in a petri dish) that would be in living people, in vivo.

      As far as I can tell, this preprint will likely be published in the future.

      1. kareninca

        hi IsotopeC14 – thanks so much for reading that and commenting. I wasn’t worried that the virus was going to insert itself and start reproducing itself, since it seems like it is chunks of the virus that may get inserted, not the whole thing. I was wondering, however, how having one’s genome altered could affect one’s health going forward. Also I was also wondering if this meant that the mRNA from the vaccine could be inserted into the genome by the same mechanism. Again, I’m not thinking that this would lead to the virus being produced due to that. But we have been told over and over again that the vaccine will not change our DNA. This makes it look like it could. I’m guessing not in a way that is hazardous, but still, it is not consistent with the relentless message that is being set forth: if you google “will the vaccine change my DNA” you’ll see a zillion articles that say no, of course it absolutely won’t. You won’t find a single article that says it might.

        Disclaimer: really I have trouble reading the study in question, and even the article about it in sciencemag.org is a bit tough.

  12. vw

    I am aware that the issue is not “settled” per se about ivermectin. However, I remember very clearly that Dr. Chris Martenson of Peak Prosperity – whatever else you may think of him – was doing the comparative studies on ivermectin and yelling to whoever would listen that it was promising (and getting censored by YouTube for his troubles) back in May of 2020.

    That was at least 350,000 deaths ago.

    If it does turn out that he was right, I can only hope that our public healthcare infrastructure takes some notes about how to conduct future–oh lord I can’t even type it with a straight face.

    Look, my real advice: When your life is on the line, don’t get your medical advice from just one source. Kapish? You want to make sure to look around at a few sources nowadays–preferably not all paid by the same revenue stream–and then make your best reasoned choice. Just another exciting installment in We’re All Going To Have To Be Our Own Doctors Soon And May God Help Us, amirite guys? Amirite???

  13. elissa3

    Lambert, thanks for the posts on ivermectin. Although I do not have a medical background, my 14 years working on clinical trials at least makes me familiar with the vocabulary of RCTs. Having looked at the research, very, very extensively, I find it impossible to conclude that ivermectin doesn’t work. And with an exemplary safety record for script meds, it should be at the top of the list for covid treatment. Even post-vaccine, it would be an asset in any person’s medicine cabinet. Why does the mainstream (and malicious) disinformation on ivermectin continue? I’ve come to the conclusion that it is one or several of: hyper-conservative group-think, medical establishment institutional incompetence, or sheer corruption. (See what drugs Merck has in their pipeline). For those with a little time, I recommend the go-to site covid19criticalcare.com These guys are the opposite of quacks. Check out their work and come to your own conclusions.

  14. Carolinian

    Container ship–apologies for the fake news in Links. Seems earlier reports of partial floating were premature.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Not your fault. I linked to an RT article that stated that it was partially unstuck myself, which now turns out to have been premature, in a follow up to your comment.

  15. allan

    Cuomo, Legislature clash over new taxes on wealthy [WXXI]

    Film at 11, as they say.

    With one week to go before the state budget deadline, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders are at odds over key points of the spending plan, including whether to raise taxes on the wealthy and corporations by $7 billion. …

    Cuomo proposed a temporary income tax increase on New Yorkers making $5 million or more a year, but has worried that raising taxes on the wealthy will cause them to leave the state [1]. He said that tax hike is no longer needed. …

    [1] Meaning that they would have no incentive to contribute to his reëlection campaign legal defense fund.

  16. Minnesota RN

    Influenza was credited with causing cardiomyopathy in two of my
    home care patients with sudden onset congestive heart failure.

    Strep throat can have long term consequences with development
    of rheumatic fever and damage to heart valves by body’s own im-mune system.

    I read that the immune response often damages an organism more
    than the pathogen itself.

    1. Harold

      Yes. Mono is credited with dreadful long-term consequences for some, as well. Including MS. And then there is Herpes that causes that dreadful syndrome, shingles, among the elderly.

      Strep throat, I think, is a bacterial infection. Not treated with a vaccine, as far as I know. But as far as I do know, if it attacks your heart, you have to take antibiotics forever, even in the absence of symptoms. My brother-in-law died of it at the age of 28 because he didn’t realize, nor did his parents, that he should have been taking them. By the time the symptoms show up it is usually too late. In his case he died at home just before his scheduled heart valve treatment.

  17. chris

    Reporting on the ground here as it were because I haven’t seen many posts from people who have received any of the mRNA vaccines. I received my first dose of the Moderna vaccine today. As a person who recovered from Covid-19 approximately 4 months ago, I was warned that the first dose could make me feel terrible for 12-36 hours afterward by some of my friends in the medical profession. So far, I’m feeling good. I mean, my third arm itches a little, but the tail I’ve grown makes that limb easy to scratch ;p

    Anyway, the shot was painless and the conditions I received it under were great. The local pharmacy where I received it did a good job. I’ll let the commentariat know if I get hit by the same truck that others have complained about, but so far, so good.

    1. voteforno6

      A relative of mine wasn’t feeling so great after her second dose of the Moderna vaccine, but that only lasted for a day or so. I had my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine over a week ago, and I didn’t notice any side effects, other than a sore shoulder. I’m expecting something from the second dose, and may even find that a little comforting, as that would tell me that A) it’s working, and B) they didn’t slip me a vial of saline by accident.

    2. albrt

      I had my Moderna shot a week ago today. It made me remarkably tired, gave me a slight fever that night, and made my arm hurt for two days. Other than that I seem to be OK.

      I think I had Covid back in January 2020 (mild), so that might have made me more sensitive on the first dose.

    3. miningcityguy

      i have received both the first and second doses of the Moderna vaccine. The first dose didn’t affect me at all. With regard to the second dose my arm felt gave a good shot with a baseball bat but I was able to go to the gym and do my normal workout and I had no problems the next day.

    4. Amfortas the hippie

      about 3 weeks ago, a day after i called the county judge’s office(his wife is his secretary…small towns!), i got the first shot of Moderna, at the big county barn where we got married, by the national guard.
      right arm felt like i’d been punched hard, but no other side effects(i wanted it to be my left arm, since my right is my Stick Arm i use to walk around with my broom handle, but they insisted, for some reason).
      second dose is next week(i think—timeless, here)
      several neighbors have gotten it….all over 60…same complaint(sore arm).
      I was gonna wait until the second dose to severely trim my pandemic beard, but it became even more bothersome in anticipation, so i took a hedge trimmer to it yesterday…now look 10+ years younger, with my usual/pre-pandemic door knocker goatee(it had been well down onto my chest…enough to where i could put it into a “pony tail” at night…even tied it into a fork, like the dwarves in the hobbit movies…to wife’s horror)
      in my county, they’ve done all the old folks(34% over 65, here) and teachers/school staff who would take it without meltdown…and appear to be getting more regular shipments than before.
      I’m still leery about the boys getting one of the mRNA vax, due to concerns about autoimmune disorders and potential sterilisation(i think i’d dig being a grandad)…which concerns are likely overblown and due to various prepandemic info on this drug platform/technology(researched it in light of wife’s cancer—could be revolutionary, but insufficient data/experience)
      my congenital trust issues with Big Pharma also play a large role…but so far, there’s no “ordinary”, “old timey” vax available.
      youngest is 15, so not eligible anyway.
      both boys have had covid, with no symptoms, and both wear masks, even when it’s socially unacceptable(still a political faux pas out here, and seen by many as evidence of Communism)

      in sort of related news, wife is finally getting chemo today…after being denied since december 1st, due to holidays, covid and clerical nonsense in both medicaid and school insurance…remaining tumors have grown a bit, and a potential new one has appeared on her bladder…so we’re freaking out a bit, and can’t wait to hear what the oncologist says, today.
      myself, i see no reason not to just start up the Folfury again, since it was working well, and the errant cells haven’t been exposed so as to develop resistance.
      but we’ll see what happens…ride the wave and all.
      a key question i have is whether she can get a vax while on chemo.

  18. DJG, Reality Czar

    chris: I have had both doses of Moderna, here in Chicago at a former MiniCooper car dealership. Yes, in the former showroom.

    I had almost exactly the same symptoms both times. My left shoulder hurt, and I had some residual stinging around the hole of the piqûre.

    My chiropractor coached me and other patients–and adjusted me after each dose. The main advice he gave was to keep supplementing if you are supplementing (vitamins, zinc, and so on) and to avoid alcohol for several days. My next scheduled glass of wine is on Friday.

    Meanwhile, I sent out my genome for analysis and I am now either a centaur or a large Gruyère cheese. More tests are in the offing.

  19. The Rev Kev

    “Duckworth Backs Off Vow To Block Biden Nominees Over Lack Of AAPI Cabinet Members”

    ‘There’s not a single AAPI in a Cabinet position. That’s unacceptable’

    Last I heard, there are no Progressives in Biden’s Cabinet either in spite of helping push old Joe over the line last November. Who could have ever seen this coming? It’s inconceivable, I tell you. Inconceivable-


  20. Jessica

    About Kamala hosting Bill Clinton, my first instinct was that whoever decided on that doesn’t like Kamala very much. Putting her in charge of the children not in cages at the border is not doing her any favors either.
    Even though it is a one-off, the recent covid relief package and the Dem’s willingness to play hardball with the Republicans to get it passed suggests that the Dems may have figured out that governing the way Obama did would get them thrown out of office in 2022 and 2024. If that is the case, they may be having second thoughts about engineering Kamala into office given that her wretched performance in the 2020 primaries shows that she could never get elected on her own merits.

  21. Fern

    I was floored by the posted interview with Hillary Clinton. The hypocrisy of Hillary Clinton’s attempt to normalize what’s going on at the border is the least of the problems with this interview. If you continue to listen to it, she specifically touts the past U.S. involvement in Honduras (her own disgraceful performance) and Bill Clinton’s notorious “Plan Columbia” as solutions to the immigration crisis.

    Here is the link again: https://grabien.com/story.php?id=329281

  22. Sardonia

    California reader weighing in on Newsom recall, as requested:

    Last polls I saw said 58% against recall. But this week, Gavin went on The View and played the Race Card, stating that the motive for the recall was racism – racists angry that California is “browning”.

    I don’t think he’d be that big of a twit (the “a” wouldn’t work as I typed that). But if that’s his defense, I’m guessing his internal polling is much worse. That’s desperation.

  23. allan

    The Culture of Life, Show-Me State edition:

    Abortion amendment puts bill to finance Missouri Medicaid program in limbo [Missouri Independent]

    Missouri Senate leadership pulled a bill vital for funding the state’s Medicaid program from floor debate Tuesday after adopting an amendment barring the use of public money for common contraceptive treatments.

    The amendment, sponsored by Republican Sen. Paul Wieland, could endanger the state’s entire Medicaid program by eliminating a health care service required by federal law …

    Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness … from conception to birth.

  24. Mikel

    RE: “Amazon, the Crappy Monopolist” [James Kwak]

    The site’s pages remind me of a cluttered, unorganized used book store.
    Harking back to its origins….

  25. occasional anonymous

    Regarding the supposed plague of anti-Asian racism or even violence in the US: this isn’t a thing. Sorry, but it’s just not. Here’s where someone with experience with it will probably chime in and give an account of it, and I won’t doubt them, but in terms of there being some epidemic of it, no. I don’t see any evidence of any such thing.

    In fact watching the woke turn on a dime from trending toward labeling Asians as ‘white-adjacent and privileged’ to feigning outrage on their behalf because of a supposed epidemic of anti-Asian violence is making my head spin.

    K-pop is a cultural monolith. Huge numbers of people under about thirty grew up watching Japanese cartoons in the 90s, and to this day consume so much anime on a regular basis, often in the original Japanese (subtitled, obviously), that more than a passing familiarity with both the language and the culture can legitimately be described as not uncommon at this point. Asians and Asian cultures are not some feared other in huge stretches of the US cultural landscape.

    The closest to any supposed plague of anti-Asian racism was when after the start of covid there was an increase in anti-Chinese attacks. And even there I’m pretty sure that was mostly a media frenzy and not actually particularly widespread; looking into the numbers I see reports of anywhere between a 150% and 1900% increase in attacks, which sound horrific, until you look at the actual numbers and the baseline from where the increase has happened is literally a handful of cases, like anti-Asian hate crimes in NYC going from 3 to 28 between 2019 and 2020. That’s not a plague. That’s cynically using percentages to make something seem far worse than it actually is, because you’ve decided on a particular narrative.

    On a more personal scale, I would honestly be very shocked to see compelling evidence of anyone in 2010s America being denied a position because they were Asian.

    The media is constantly contriving to manufacture narratives, but this particular one is really striking to me for some reason. Because there really is no there there. The Atlanta shooter seems to have picked his targets based on their profession, not their ethnicity, but by god the media has decided to portray this as a racial hate crime, so that’s what they’re going to do, come hell or high water.

  26. occasional anonymous

    “Those vaccines had better work against the variants, and re-opening, especially school re-opening, had better work.”

    Lambert, have you listened to the latest West Wing Thing? Dave Anthony touches on school re-opening near the beginning, and as he tells it things are going down very poorly at the PTA meeting level. Many parents are in fact not cool with being told they should knowingly send their kids into potential danger. He’s convinced the Democrats are shredding their support and reputation at this level. He also says teachers and even principles are basically giving up on continuing with their careers because of this (America already treats teachers like crap, and in fact seems to actively resent them. The degree to which they’ve been told to pound sand in the last year seems to be pushing many of them over the edge). In fact Anthony goes so far as to say he thinks there’s going to be permanent damage to the very idea of public education by the time this is all over.

    The episode is really good beyond that as well. Danny Bessner is an exceptional guest. Near the very end he also makes a really interesting point, to the effect that ‘the shittier the art, the more it probably has a historical context explaining it’. The West Wing wasn’t just a refuge for distraught Liberals during the Bush years, it was also a high water mark for a post-Cold War, ‘America is the savior of the world’ worldview that has been in decline since around the time the show ended. And that worldview wasn’t actually terribly different between Liberals and Conservatives; the foreign policy of the West Wing is basically the same as that of 24, where the narrative assures us that of course Jack Bauer has to beat people and shoot them in the kneecaps until they talk. The only difference is that the West Wing will have some scenes where the Liberals have some token struggle with the morality of their actions before they inevitably do the stupid bad thing. They’ll still kill brown foreigners, but they’ll feel some remorse about doing it.

  27. drumlin woodchuckles

    I have commented before on why I would rather have a system of fairly fast trains reaching all over America like we used to have a century ago, than to have a few prestige High Speed Bullet Trains going a few places and leaving everyone and everywhere else totally out.

    I just found a video which offers some clues as to the reasons that High Speed trains are so energy wasteful compared to fairly fast trains. The video is literally about the increasing speed-increasing air resistance problem in cars. But the same principle holds for trains, both Bullet and nonBullet. The video is titled Why Its Almost Impossible For Cars To Go 300 Miles Per Hour. Just think about trains the same way. Here is the link.

  28. drumlin woodchuckles

    Here is a video titled Working Woman Testifies About The Reality Of Poverty In America Today. I think she and some of the people she describes would have voted for Sanders for President. I think the Catfood Democrats knew that and were afraid of that. I wonder if the Catfood Democrats are already conspiring to throw the next election back to Trump. Here is the link.

  29. Alex Cox

    Has there been any reportage about veterans getting to jump the vaccine queue? My wife and I (both 65+) spent hours online and calling local pharmacies – eventually she found a shot in Florence, OR, and I found one in Waldport.

    But my buddy, who ‘served’ and is 45 years old, got a call from the VA in Newport and has already received both his shots.

    Socialized medicine works!

  30. Lil’D

    Nobody is onto the Quanta article yet…
    I’m days behind in just about everything but am a data compression guy so will have to follow up…

Comments are closed.