2:00PM Water Cooler 3/31/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, this is a bit short. More soon. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Another migratory bird from the Birds of the Atlantic Flyway. This one very chatty!

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#COVID19

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.

Vaccination by region:

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.

FL: “Data shows Florida seniors getting vaccines, avoiding hospitals” [Tampa Bay Times]. “In a striking shift that shows how much the pandemic is changing, Florida hospitals admitted more new patients last week (ending Thursday) who are in their 50s and 60s than they did those 70 or older — the first time that’s happened since federal officials began releasing the data last summer. The decline in hospitalizations among younger adults has stalled after dropping for nearly two months.”

FL: “Dozens in Central Florida contract COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated” [News 6 (kareninca)]. “Earlier this month, the Minnesota Department of Health released a health advisory stating that along with the CDC, it is investigating COVID-19 infections among people who are “appropriately vaccinated,” also called vaccine breakthrough cases, according to the advisory. News 6 checked and the Florida Department of Health in Volusia County has six documented breakthrough cases while Sumter County has six and Lake County has 26 cases, according to emails from each county’s spokesperson.” • Hmm.

Case count by United States regions:

No longer an upward blip, but a very ugly trend. Disappointing in the extreme. All I can say is that if you have a system that has worked for you, keep at it. And avoid closed, crowded, close-contact settings, evem so-called outdoor dining. Don’t share air!

“The Fourth Surge Is Upon Us. This Time, It’s Different.” [Zeynep Tufecki, The Atlantic]. “We appear to be entering our fourth surge. The good news is that this one is different. We now have an unparalleled supply of astonishingly efficacious vaccines being administered at an incredible clip. If we act quickly, this surge could be merely a blip for the United States. But if we move too slowly, more people will become infected by this terrible new variant, which is acutely dangerous to those who are not yet vaccinated.” Also a fine discussion about herd immunity (about which there was a question yesterday): “Herd immunity is sometimes treated as a binary threshold: We’re all safe once we cross it, and all unsafe before that. In reality, herd immunity isn’t a switch that provides individual protection, just a dynamic that makes it hard for epidemics to sustain themselves in a population over the long term. Even if 75 percent of the country has some level of immunity because of vaccination or past infection, the remaining 25 percent remains just as susceptible, individually, to getting infected. And while herd levels of immunity will eventually significantly drive down the number of infections, this may not happen without the epidemic greatly “overshooting”—infecting people beyond the levels required for achieving herd immunity, somewhat like a fire burning at full force even though it is just about to run out of fuel. Worse, people’s infection risks are not distributed evenly: Some people have lots of contacts, while others have a few. People are also embedded in different social networks: Some may have a lot of friends and family members who are immune, others not so much. Some work in jobs that increase their risk, others not so much. So it’s perfectly possible for a country as a whole to have herd immunity against a pathogen, but for outbreaks to happen among communities that have a lot of unvaccinated people among them.”

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

New York in the “lead,” but with a jump after 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.

Here are New York hospitalizations. Small numbers, but accelerating:

Test positivity:

Hospitalization:

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.

* * *

Politics

“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

“Biden looks for an infrastructure win where Obama and Trump failed” [Politico]. “The sprawling package is the first part of what will be a two-pronged “Build Back Better” plan, the latter of which will include Democratic priorities on caregiving and improving wages for essential workers to be rolled out in mid-April. Together, the initiatives constitute a core component of the president’s agenda, one expected to dominate the next several months as U.S. lawmakers debate its path forward. And pushing it through Congress will require Biden to pull off a second legislative victory — one that could either burnish his legacy or tarnish his record — just weeks after securing a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package without a single Republican vote. It would also finally deliver on promises made by Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump, who both tried to deliver sweeping infrastructure plans during their years in the White House and failed due to broad political opposition to either raising taxes or adding to the national deficit.” • Once again, Biden easily leaps over Obama’s low bar. As usual, however, that Biden is better doesn’t mean he’s good. We’ll have to wait for detail to know whether the line items are fit for purpose, scaled for the tasks, etc.

“Biden unveils sweeping American Jobs Plan” [Axios]. “Biden intends to raise the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28% for 15 years. President Trump convinced Congress to lower it from 35% to 21%. To encourage corporations to conduct business in the U.S., the administration is proposing a global minimum tax and providing incentives to support onshoring. Among the tax hikes expected in the second proposal being rolled out next month is an increase in the top individual rate for those making more than $400,000 annually from 37% to the pre-Trump rate of 39.6%.”

“Corporate Dems Show Progressives How To Play Hardball” [David Sirota and Andrew Perez, The Daily Poster]. Earlier this month, progressive lawmakers refused to withhold their votes on must-pass COVID-19 stimulus legislation until the bill included a $15 minimum wage. A few weeks later, conservative Democratic lawmakers are now threatening to withhold their votes on must-pass infrastructure legislation until the bill includes large tax cuts for the wealthy…. The tax issue revolves around federal write-offs for state and local taxes — colloquially called SALT deductions. Donald Trump’s 2017 tax bill limited such deductions to $10,000. The move was perceived as a mean-spirited shot at blue states, which often have higher state and local levies to fund more robust public services. But on the merits, the policy serves to limit tax deductions primarily for higher-income households…. If the SALT cap was fully repealed, nearly all — 96 percent — of the tax benefits would flow to the top quintile of earners, and more than half of the benefits would go to the top 1 percent of earners, according to data from the Brookings Institution. Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation found that the majority of the benefits of a SALT cap repeal would flow to households earning more than $1 million.”

“Here’s how Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan addresses climate change” [CNBC]. “President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan includes $174 billion in spending to boost the electric vehicle market and shift away from gas-powered cars. The plan also proposes $100 billion in funding to update the country’s electric grid and make it more resilient to climate disasters, such as the recent winter storm that disrupted Texas’s power grid… The initiatives involve funding to install half a million charging stations across the country by 2030, incentives for Americans to buy EVs and money to retool factories and boost domestic supply of materials. Electric cars only make up about 2% of new auto sales in the U.S…. The proposal also includes $100 billion in funding to update the country’s electric grid and make it more resilient to worsening climate disasters. Biden also proposes the creation of a “Energy Efficiency and Clean Electricity Standard,” a mandate that would require a portion of U.S. electricity come from zero-carbon sources like wind and solar power. The mandate would require congressional approval.”

Oops:

More from the same tour:

“‘This is not kids being kept in cages’ -Psaki” [Reuters]. From February 24: “There’s a pandemic going on,” Psaki told the reporter. “I’m sure you’re not suggesting that we have children right next to each other in ways that are not COVID-safe, are you?” • I suppose this statement is now inoperative. To be fair to the Biden administration, we’ve seen the same conditions under Trump, Obama, and IIRC Bush. I don’t think there’s any point in moral panics over a problem that’s both intractable and clearly bipartisan (except for the clicks, of course).

UPDATE Clarifying:

UPDATE “Bidens’ dog Major involved in another biting incident” [CNN]. Biden: “You turn a corner, and there’s two people you don’t know at all. And (Major) moves to protect. But he’s a sweet dog. Eighty-five percent of the people there love him. He just — all he does is lick them and wag his tail. But … I realize some people, understandably, are afraid of dogs to begin with.” • I hate dogs that try to lick me, and I dislike people who don’t stop their dogs from doing it. On the other hand, maybe a President with a vicious dog — supposing Major to be that, and not a stressed-out rescue — is something the Democrats, and the country, need.

UPDATE “Legislation Would Support Fare-Free Public Transit Systems” [WBUR]. “Legislation intended to boost support for public transportation, including state and local efforts to create fare-free transit systems, has been refiled in Congress by U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley and U.S. Sen. Edward Markey. The bill would invest ‘heavily in our public transit systems so that states and localities can offer safe, high-quality, and fare-free rides to all to ensure everyone’ can access jobs, food and essential services, Pressley said in a written statement Tuesday.” • Good for Pressley.

Democrats en Deshabille

“The Democratic Party and the political origins of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez” [World Socialist Web Site]. “The Democratic Party has a vast experience in diverting social opposition by trapping social discontent within its reach, where it is crushed. It has at its disposal billions of dollars, mass media channels and thousands of people whose singular responsibility is to stop social opposition from breaking out of its control. This has been its political role since its inception in 1828, when Andrew Jackson trapped the embryonic anti-capitalism of “workingmen” in the northern cities behind a reactionary alliance with the southern slave-owning class. The emergence of the working class in the post-Civil War period inaugurated decades of violent class struggle, which the Democratic Party attempted to control through subsuming strains of populist, agrarian politics, culminating in the elevation of the demagogue William Jennings Bryan as repeated Democratic presidential candidate at the turn of the 20th century. Despite the insurrectionary character of the class struggle, the Democratic Party fought to prevent these struggles from developing to a point of a political break and the formation of an independent political party in the European model of labor or social democratic parties. This, alongside the extraordinary wealth of American capitalism, explains why there has never been a labor party in the United States.” •

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson endorses Nina Turner for 11th District Congressional election” [Cleveland.com]. “Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson on Wednesday endorsed former State Senator Nina Turner’s bid to replace Rep. Marcia Fudge in Congress, citing her experience in office and her commitment to work to help all people. Jackson told cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer that he views Turner as best equipped of the candidates for Fudge’s open 11th Congressional District seat to fight for those who need help because of her tenacity. ‘She has a life experience of championing the cause of the people,’ Jackson said in an interview Tuesday. ‘I’ve found her to be someone who doesn’t just talk about things. She does things.'” • Good news for Turner, I assume. Cleveland readers?

“Episode 64 – Purity (Cult)ure ft. Kim Kiesewetter” (podcasts) [Sh*tty Christians]. “This week, Zac and Michael are joined by Kim Kieswetter, sociologist professor and childhood friend to talk all things purity culture: the dangers of spaghetti straps, kindergarten modesty codes, and Kim’s experience being an ostracized teen mom in the same church that taught a young Michael the dangers of Shape Magazine.”

“Liberal group pledges $10M state legislative campaign on voting rights” [Politico]. • Why is it always the alphabet groups that do this? Why isn’t this a party function?

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “March 2021 ADP Employment Grew 517,000” [Econintersect]. “ADP reported non-farm private jobs growth of 517,000 which was within expectations…. Last month’s employment loss was revised upward. It will be interesting to see what the BLS says is jobs growth.”

Manufacturing: “March 2021 Chicago Purchasing Managers Barometer Improves” [Econintersect]. “The Fed manufacturing surveys were all in expansion this month were were generally stronger than the previous month.”

Housing: “February 2021 Headline Pending Home Sales Again Significantly Declines” [Econintersect]. “The National Association of Realtors (NAR) seasonally adjusted pending home sales index declined…. So far, the recovery is well beyond my expectations of a lackluster recovery. It is almost like the pandemic never happened for home sales. However, the inventory remains too low to support much of an acceleration of growth.”

* * *

Shipping: “The Big Dumb Ship Problem Is Much Worse Than We Think” [Matt Stoller, BIG]. Quoting an email response: “The concentration of risk in these E+ Class ships is huge. Actually though, a bigger risk to global commerce is if one of these monsters falls over in the entrance channel to a regional hub, such as Rotterdam or Long Beach. Blocking Suez is one thing as there is an alternative (sail round the horn of Africa) albeit taking more time. But blocking access to Rotterdam hits traffic in an out. Diversion are possible, but this impacts road and rail links into and out of the alternatives (e.g Hamburg, Le Havre). These cannot be replicated at scale fast enough for the present velocity of global trade. Example when China shutdown due to the pandemic, the problems were caused globally when they restarted, due to boxes and ships being in the wrong place.” • Concentration of capital, too, I would think?

Shipping: “After Ever Given, what now for marine insurance and ship finance?” [Lloyd’s List]. “HE Ever Given grounding will have a big impact not just on the physical shipping and ports business, but on the whole maritime white-collar services sector as well, according to sources in marine insurance and ship finance. Like everyone else, professionals in these areas are still watching how developments roll out in real time. But the likely payout is already being assessed as likely to hit nine-figure dollars. Hull and machinery and cargo claims could be mercifully limited. The ship itself, as far as is known, is not badly damaged, and again as far as is known, the cargo is largely unscathed. The big-ticket exposure will be for liability, especially if the Suez Canal Authority decides to impose penalties on operator Evergreen, or decides to seek compensation for its loss of revenue. The canal is a major earner of hard currency for the regime, and its importance has only been bolstered by the downturn in tourism income that has inevitably come as a corollary of the pandemic. Marine liability is insured by P&I clubs, in this instance the UK Club, which is not offering media comment on the matter at this time. Any claim from the Suez Canal Authority will easily bust the $10m retention layer, and could even exceed the $100m collective retention provided by the International Group of P&I Clubs, to which the UK Club is affiliated, thus hitting the reinsurance layer.” • A “P&I club” is “a non-profit marine insurers’ association. It is a group of shipowners who mutually indulge in the coverage of their own civil liability risks.” Sounds like they might have problems with scale?

The Bezzle: “Dispute breaks out over ownership of world’s first NFT house” [Dezeen]. “The artist and the visualiser who collaborated on the first NFT house are locked in a dispute over the copyright of the virtual property, which last week sold for $500,000. Mars House is ‘the first NFT digital house in the world,’ according to online art marketplace SuperRare, which sold the digital file. But Argentine 3D-modeller Mateo Sanz Pedemonte, who created visualisations of Mars House for artist Krista Kim, claimed the project was ‘a fraud’. ‘I am afraid to say that this project is a fraud,’ Pedemonte told Dezeen. ‘Krista Kim never owned this project fully,’ he continued. ‘I have created the project with my own hands, combined with her direction. I do possess the full intellectual property.'”

The Bezzle: “William Boyd: how David Bowie and I hoaxed the art world” [Guardian]. “[Bowie] was a genial and unassuming presence at the regular Modern Painters editorial meetings and when, in one of them, I suggested the idea of creating a fictional artist it was Bowie who said that the concept would work far more efficiently if it were published as a book. And so it came to be. I invented a dead American “artist” I called Nat Tate and wrote his biography. Then the team at Modern Painters and 21 transformed the text into a small, beautifully made and copiously illustrated artist’s monograph. However, there’s absolutely no denying the fact that it was Bowie’s participation in the eventual hoax that gave it media heft. He published the book, he organised the launch party (on April Fool’s Day, 1998) in Jeff Koons’s studio in Manhattan – Koons was a friend of Bowie – and it was Bowie who read out extracts of the book, absolutely deadpan, to the assembled New York glitterati. The clincher was his statement in the blurb that he was convinced that, ‘The small oil I picked up on Prince Street, New York, must indeed be one of the lost Third Panel Triptychs. The great sadness of this quiet and moving monograph is that the artist’s most profound dread – that God will make you an artist but only a mediocre artist – did not in retrospect apply to Nat Tate.’ Who wouldn’t be swayed by that eloquent testimonial?” • ”Tate” went on, of course, to become “Satoshi Nakamoto.”

The Bezzle: “PayPal CEO Uses Bitcoin to Pay for His New Ostrich Cowboy Boots” [Bloomberg]. “The 63-year-old chief executive officer of PayPal Holdings Inc., known for being partial to boots and jeans, used the payment giant’s new ‘Checkout with Crypto’ service that allows customers to sell cryptocurrencies to pay for goods from the millions of merchants with a PayPal button on their websites. ‘That’s pretty cool, ‘Schulman said in a two-minute video the company posted of him making the purchase of Lucchese ostrich boots from Bronco Western Wear. ‘You can just use your crypto balance as a funding source like you would your PayPal balance, or your credit card or your debit card. It’s just another funding instrument.'”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 51 Neutral (previous close: 45 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 40 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 31 at 12:35pm. One year ago, just after the end of the Before Times: 25 (Extreme Fear).

Health Care

Shaming the beachgoers outdoors, where it’s safest, and not showing where the real danger is: Inside, in restaurants, bars, motels/hotels:

Will this stupid meme never die?

“In mutant variants, has the coronavirus shown its best tricks?” [Reuters]. “The appearance of similar mutations, independent of one another, springing up in different parts of the globe shows the coronavirus is undergoing “convergent evolution,” according to a dozen scientists interviewed by Reuters. Although it will continue to mutate, immunologists and virologists said they suspect this coronavirus has a fixed number of moves in its arsenal. The long-term impact for the virus’ survival, and whether a limit on the number of mutations makes it less dangerous, remains to be seen. ‘It is plausible that this virus has a relatively limited number of antibody escape mutations it can make before it has played all of its cards, so to speak,’ said Shane Crotty, a virologist at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology in San Diego…. ‘If it had an unlimited number of tricks…we would see an unlimited number of mutants, but we don’t,’ said Michel Nussenzweig, an immunologist at Rockefeller University in New York.”

“Phospholipidosis is a shared mechanism underlying the in vitro antiviral activity of many repurposed drugs against SARS-CoV-2” (preprint) [bioRxiv]. “Repurposing drugs as treatments for COVID-19 has drawn much attention. A common strategy has been to screen for established drugs, typically developed for other indications, that are antiviral in cells or organisms. Intriguingly, most of the drugs that have emerged from these campaigns, though diverse in structure, share a common physical property: cationic amphiphilicity. Provoked by the similarity of these repurposed drugs to those inducing phospholipidosis, a well-known drug side effect, we investigated phospholipidosis as a mechanism for antiviral activity. We tested 23 cationic amphiphilic drugs—including those from phenotypic screens and others that we ourselves had found—for induction of phospholipidosis in cell culture. We found that most of the repurposed drugs, which included hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin, amiodarone, and four others that have already progressed to clinical trials, induced phospholipidosis in the same concentration range as their antiviral activity; indeed, there was a strong monotonic correlation between antiviral efficacy and the magnitude of the phospholipidosis. Conversely, drugs active against the same targets that did not induce phospholipidosis were not antiviral.” • I need somebody to translate this into English, but it is an interesting thesis.

A program to manage oximetry at home. A thread:

“Contested effects and chaotic policies: the 2020 story of (hydroxy) chloroquine for treating COVID‐19” [Cochrane Library]. • Handy timeline:

Games

“Chinese Police Bust Alleged $100 Million Video Game Cheating Ring, Seize Millions in Assets” [Gizmodo (skippy)]. “Police in Kunshan, China, say that a video game cheating ring pulled in an astonishing $US76 ($100) million in subscription fees before a recent bust, the BBC reported on Tuesday…. While in the U.S., cheating is generally only something that can lead to civil liability or network bans at worst, China is cracking down on cheaters under sweeping laws that ban disruption of computer networks that can carry a five-year prison term, with cheat developers potentially facing much more prison time. Other possible charges for cheaters include copyright infringement and illegal business operation depending on the region of the arrest, Jiangsu police told the South China Morning Post in 2018. Chinese police have also targeted cheaters in game competitions that sometimes pay out huge cash prizes.”

Gunz

“Mass shootings are a product of America’s violent culture” [High Country News]. “The headlines tell us that the mass-shooting epidemic tapered off during the height of the pandemic, which is true according to the mainstream definition: four or more people shot and killed in a public setting (typically excluding shootings that result from domestic violence, drug deals, and gang activity). The Gun Violence Archive, on the other hand, considers an incident a mass shooting if a “minimum of four victims are shot, either injured or killed, not including any shooter who may also have been killed or injured in the incident.” According to the latter definition, there were 611 mass-shootings in 2020, a significant increase from prior years.”

Class Warfare

UPDATE “Amazon’s Twitter Army Was Handpicked for “Great Sense of Humor,” Leaked Document Reveals” [The Intercept]. “Anticipating criticisms of worker conditions at their fulfillment centers in particular, Amazon designed Veritas to train fulfillment center workers chosen for their ‘great sense of humor’ to confront critics — including policymakers — on Twitter in a ‘blunt’ manner. The document, produced as part of the pilot program in 2018 and marked ‘Amazon.com Confidential,’ also includes examples of how its ambassadors can snarkily respond to criticisms of the company and its CEO. Several examples involve Sen. Bernie Sanders, a longtime critic of the $1 trillion firm who has been targeted by it in recent days.” • I wonder if The Twitter is going to be able to outgun the Amazon mercenaries bluntness… I’m guessing yes, to the dismay of Jay Carney, once Obama’s flak, now Amazon’s, how very odd….

“Reimagining the Labor Movement” [Frank Interviews]. “I think the pandemic really accelerated and further demonstrated what everybody knows and feels. It showed us, right in our faces, how there is no safety net in this country for most people. And that there is definitely no safety net for poor people or for working-class people. And that there is absolutely nothing for undocumented people or Black poor folks in this country. I think that this was a big shock in the organizing space. It really pushed us to think about how we are capturing the energy that is coming out of this moment and about how we can use it as a springboard for long-term power building. At the same time, it really exposed how unprepared we were for it overall. Not just the unions. All of us, as a progressive movement, we were really unprepared for a moment like this.”

“Logistics, Counterlogistics and the Communist Prospect” [End Notes]. “it has always been unclear what the term ‘globalisation’ is supposed to mean, as marker for a new historical phase. Capitalism has been global from the very start, emerging from within the blood-soaked matrix of the mercantile expansion of the early modern period. Later on, its factories and mills were fed by planetary flows of raw material, and produce for a market which is likewise international. The real question, then, is what kind of globalisation we have today. What is the differentia specifica of today’s globalisation? What is the precise relationship between production and circulation? Today’s supply chains are distinguished not just by their planetary extension and incredible speed but by their direct integration of manufacture and retail, their harmonisation of the rhythms of production and consumption. Since the 1980s, business writers have touted the value of ‘lean’ and ‘flexible’ production models, in which suppliers maintain the capacity to expand and contract production, as well as change the types of commodities produced, by relying on a network of subcontractors, temporary workers, and mutable organisational structures, adaptations that require precise control over the flow of goods and information between units.” • Musing on the Occupy shutdown of the Port of Oakland. If you can penetrate the jargon, it’s worth a read.

News of the Wired

1964….

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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 (JBird4049):

JBird4049 writes: “Here’s some pictures of what’s left of my garden: Chinese Jade and somewhere in there is a pair of rhododendrons. Since the new new apartment owner purged of outside plants, I keep planning on an indoor one. Maybe in a few months I will have photos of that. The owner likes the outside tidy but inside I can have any plants that I want.” Bad landlord!

Readers, I’m a little short of Spring plants, having put the remainder of my winter plants into inventory.

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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.

91 comments

  1. doug

    . “I’m sure you’re not suggesting that we have children right next to each other in ways that are not COVID-safe, are you?”
    Well she did not lie there did she?
    What a weasel…

    Reply
    1. km

      Now, watch the fawning and sycophantic press corps call Psaki out on this, any day now.

      I should add that if anyone still harbors the slightest doubt that we are led by people whose behavior is indistinguishable from that of high-functioning* sociopaths, let this be Exhibit A.

      *”high functioning” in the sense that they are reasonably good at faking empathy when they need to do so.

      Reply
      1. Michaelmas

        km wrote: ‘we are led by people whose behavior is indistinguishable from that of high-functioning* sociopaths … high functioning” in the sense that they are reasonably good at faking empathy when they need to do so.

        I wish people could get the terminology — the difference between sociopaths and psychopaths — straight if they’re going to offer free-style psychiatric diagnoses of antisocial disorders

        A good way to remember the difference is this: sociopaths fill the jailhouses, psychopaths fill the c-suites. That’s because ….

        Sociopaths are the antisocial types with poor impulse control, liable to flip out, often violently, on those around them. They’re often bad at long-term strategizing.

        Psychopaths are the antisocial types with no empathy, who basically see the rest of the human race as prey, are not necessary violent, and are often quite capable of long-term strategizing.

        Again: sociopaths in the jailhouses, psychopaths in the c-suites.

        Reply
        1. Pelham

          When I was a kid many years ago, we had a genuine young psychopath in the neighborhood. One of this boy’s habits was torturing small animals to death. But his mother was a saint and prevailed on my mom on occasion to bring me — a nice, well-behaved specimen–over to their house and for play time. I guess I was supposed to set a good example.

          These visits scared the bejabbers out of me, but they were instructive. For instance, I was struck by his perfect manners, particularly in the presence of his father. Even at the age of 10 or so the kid seemed to spend most of his waking hours coolly in control. Regardless, I made a focused effort to never turn my back on him when adults weren’t present.

          Reply
          1. Old Sarum

            Nasty kid:

            I recall seeing a TV programme here in Australia about studies in New Zealand, which as I remember it, led to the ability to identify these nasty pieces of humanity at around age 4 or 5. I can’t remember whether the evilness was down to nature or nurture but my bet* is on nature.

            Pip-pip!

            *Try feeding a small flock birds. There is always one that attacks the others in the moment of largess.

            Reply
        2. km

          I always thought that it was the other way around, but whatever, you seem to get the point, regardless of what terminology I used.

          Reply
        3. Basil Pesto

          I have a short book on psychopathy. I seem to remember it makes the point that ‘sociopathy’ is more or less a clinically meaningless word (I’m travelling and don’t have it to hand or else I’d
          quote it)

          Reply
      2. Fiery Hunt

        My favorite part of the mess on the border?

        All those fake “But there are children in CAGES!!!” Resistance brunchers suddenly forgetting their outrage.

        Reason #48 to hate BlueMAGA.

        Reply
        1. Michael Fiorillo

          Yes, and there was a particular pitch they frequently said it with, edged with hysterics. That was always a tell for severe TDS, the Blue Anon, incapable-of-reason kind…

          Trump really was sui generis as a demogogue, inspiring literal derangement in supporter and opponent alike, an inflamed itch you love to scratch to bleeding…

          Reply
  2. Samuel Conner

    > Why is it always the alphabet groups that do this? Why isn’t this a party function?

    Division of labor! Comparative advantage, focusing on what one is good at. /s

    IIRC there was a recent article, linked and approvingly commented, that reckoned the “alphabet left” to be basically a part of the D party. Granting that premise, it already is a party function, but the “headline” party doesn’t worry about it.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > IIRC there was a recent article, linked and approvingly commented, that reckoned the “alphabet left” to be basically a part of the D party. Granting that premise, it already is a party function, but the “headline” party doesn’t worry about it.

      You’re quite right. My binocular view of what the Democrat Party is, and what a Democratic Party might be, got blurred for a moment. This is a party function today, because boundaries of the party extend out into the NGOs.

      Reply
  3. km

    See, when you pack children in cages, that is bad. Very Very Bad.

    But when you pack them 1700% over capacity in plexiglas boxes (and you are Team D) then that makes it OK!

    Harkens back to that Vietnam-era Pentagon flack kvetching that all the press reports is “bombing, bombing, bombing!” Instead, this is “air support“, because, you know killing civilians with Zuni rockets or white phosphorus or Agent Orange or whatever is so much more humane.

    Reply
        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > it is not moral panic,

          I think that periodic outbursts of performative empathy at a systemic problem several generations of the political class have been unable or unwilling to fix are precisely moral panics. I bet if I did an archive of the visuals going back to the Reagan era they would be identical. It is all about and only about clicks and NGO funding (at least for this round; the press, desperate for revenue after Trump, seems to have ginned this round up all on its own).

          Reply
  4. Mr. Magoo

    Re: “The Big Dumb Ship Problem Is Much Worse Than We Think”

    Ships like the Ever Given are a “cork in the canal” waiting to happen. The glory of Al-Qaeda was taking it to the west. The twin towers were a great show, but the economic impact of a couple of well placed potshots from the banks of the Suez canal taking out one of these lumbering beasts, sinking it and plugging the canal indefinitely, would seem to pale in comparison.

    Reply
      1. R

        Here is a contrarian view of the importance of the Suez blockage (and other what might, to re-coin a phrase from environmentalism, be termed charismatic mega-fuck-ups).

        https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/mar/30/the-suez-canal-blockage-captured-the-worlds-attention-but-sea-lanes-are-not-as-important-as-many-claim

        Certainly the episode has resonated with the commentariat, not just here, but is that only because it apparently offers easy confirmation of our priors about neoliberalism, globalisation and offshoring?

        If it only makes a marginal long run economic impact to lose Suez or South China sea routes, don’t we need to focus the audience’s attention more carefully, away from the $ value of trade to the strategy behind globalisation, of breaking western labour movements on the threat of the eastern masses?

        Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Since the Suez Canal is a discretely definable geographic feature, and is smaller than many, the al Sisi government should be able to put enough soldiers around it to keep any ship-shooter away. And if they fail to do so, people will wonder what the al Sisi government is good for.

      Ships will have to be able to defend themselves from cork-in-the-canal political pirates. If they can.

      Though I think the 9/11 attack was different in that it was designed to get America sending armies into the middle east ( ” wherever a couple of mujahedeen plant an al Qaeda flag” in the deathless words of Osama bin Laden) rather than to achieve economic encripplement of the West. But it did show what a high-visibility-chokepoint attack can do.

      Reply
      1. km

        IIRC, Bin Laden more or less said that 9/11 was intended to provoke an overreaction. It worked better than anyone could have imagined.

        Reply
        1. John

          Never discount the American ability to overreact, or when reaction or overreaction is called for, to under react.

          Dc needs to read the headlines in the Onion and do the opposite.

          Reply
          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            But what if secret al Qaeda agents secretly take over the Onion and write headlines which are exactly the opposite of what they want DC to do?

            Reply
        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          I think to a large extent there is a relative amount of dependence on what the heads of these groups want versus the foot soldiers. While Bin Laden and his crew were alive, they were very good at convincing would be followers to blow themselves up at a night club. We know Bin Laden and his gang loved their status as terrorist rock stars.

          Bin Laden dies and duh duh duh ISIS takes over. The people who trained the would be suicide bombers essentially tried something else. Sure they had plenty of guns and cash given to them during the Surge and the Libya to Syria rat line, but they weren’t on the cover of Time Magazine or had Barbara Walters interviewing them in the 90’s (it was Peter Arnett in ’97).

          Routine population presences and just the sheer size of the ships is going to prevent a lone wolf from replicating the Suez crisis, but the guys who were part of ISIS but weren’t eager to simply blow up a bunch teenagers might be able to do something especially if Bin Laden and his gang aren’t telling everyone to blow themselves up.

          After 9/11, we were inundated with stories about what the terrorists would strike next with stories about all of the infrastructure that could be hit. Then again, power outages aside, much of that infrastructure is hardened against major weather events. Short of nuclear bomb, a mad bomber is only going to cause so much damage.

          I’m genuinely astonished we haven’t seen these kinds of efforts. Of course, the Saudis are spending a great deal of resources in Yemen, so I imagine the Islamic terrorist slush fund is a bit light these days.

          Reply
    2. danpaco

      If I recall, the Egyptians did just that during the Suez Crisis in the 50’s. Closed the canal for almost a year.

      Reply
        1. Chris

          “And from 1967 to 1975?”

          Wasn’t the canal closed because the IDF had tanks lined up on the Eastern bank?

          Reply
    3. Jeotsu

      I don’t know if this scenario would work or not, but…
      Embark a container that is likely (based on ship route and ports visited) to be stored very low, ideally the bottom of one of the giant container stacks.
      Fill the container with explosives. ANFO would work, especially if you’ve loaded 20 tons of it.
      The GPS triggers the charges at the right spot, and suddenly you’ve got a keel-shattered 200,000 ton cork in your canal, harbour, whatever.

      Reply
            1. The Rev Kev

              A limpet mine set to go off when there is a certain depth of water beneath the ship – as in the depth of the canal.

              Reply
  5. Lee

    “Shaming the beachgoers outdoors, where it’s safest, and not showing where the real danger is: Inside, in restaurants, bars, motels/hotels…”

    The photographers are not fools. It’s not safe to go into crowded indoor spaces to take pictures.

    Reply
    1. Lee

      Speaking of which, I have to go into a semi-crowded but socially distanced small auditorium this evening to get my second shot of the Pfizer vaccine. I’m assuming Stanford knows what it’s doing and that the high-ceilinged space is well ventilated.

      Other members of the household will be getting their second dose of the Moderna vaccine in a week.

      We have decided that, in spite of getting vaccinated, that nothing will fundamentally change in term of our modus operandi for the foreseeable future. FWIW, the household’s anxiety level has moderated somewhat. We will stay frosty and carry on.

      Reply
      1. Pelham

        Doing the same here after our second shots — or jabs. I’m hopelessly confused at this point as to what activities would be safe. For instance, if the vaccines are 90% effective (against all variants?), wouldn’t one’s chances attending, say, a crowded, badly ventilated indoor gathering be only somewhat better than playing Russian roulette?

        Secondarily, perhaps a few months or even years down the road, which authority could we trust to signal the all-clear?

        Reply
      2. Louis Fyne

        unvaccinated frontline hospital workers have ~ a 1.4% chance of getting covid. or ~14 out of 1000.

        After the first shot of Pfizer or Moderna which is ~80% effective, roughly only ~3 out of 1000 got covid.

        of those who got two shots, the odds were ~1 to ~1.5 out of 1000 caught covid.

        deciding to skip a second shot is not irrational for certain people. imo.

        3 out of 1000 are pretty good odds and those were for those who interact with covid patients.

        https://nypost.com/2021/03/29/cdc-study-reveals-effectiveness-of-single-pfizer-moderna-dose/
        https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/29/world/pfizer-moderna-covid-vaccines-infection.html

        Reply
      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I’m assuming Stanford knows what it’s doing and that the high-ceilinged space is well ventilated.

        I believe that COs concentration is a good proxy for how often indoor air is cycles. The meters aren’t exactly cheap, but they could be worth it. Are any readers doing this?

        Reply
    2. Arizona Slim

      Photographer here. That’s a telephoto shot if there ever was one. Such shots have a way of compressing the subject matter. In this instance, it makes the people look closer to each other than they actually are.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Photographer here. That’s a telephoto shot if there ever was one. Such shots have a way of compressing the subject matter. In this instance, it makes the people look closer to each other than they actually are.

        I was pressed for time and didn’t add that; fifty lashes with a wet noodle for lambert. Telephoto compression is also a regular feature of this genre. Am I the only one who regards these beach photos as moderately prurient? Perhaps to reinforce the shaming?

        Reply
  6. Louis Fyne

    so i got my pfizer vaccine…

    1. done 10 min. after i walked through the door. Dunno if it was because the center was managed/staffed by the National Guard bu if every government interaction was that professional and efficient, the voters would rubber stamp every proposed government program. (getting an actual appointment, which was doles out by the county, on the other hand was needlessly convoluted). No way seniors would win the “swiping/refresh the website lottery” used by the county to distribute the appointments

    2. for all this talk about vaccine equity, it was clear that the people getting vaccinated were people who could take a morning off (ie, salaried, retired, etc.). the local centers are only open 8:30 – 5p, Mon to Sat. Why not 12:30p to 9p or other non-standard hours to accomodate people whose schedules aren’t as flexible?

    3. no side effects beyond a flush feeling and soreness at the injection site

    Reply
  7. occasional anonymous

    “The emergence of the working class in the post-Civil War period inaugurated decades of violent class struggle, which the Democratic Party attempted to control through subsuming strains of populist, agrarian politics, culminating in the elevation of the demagogue William Jennings Bryan as repeated Democratic presidential candidate at the turn of the 20th century. Despite the insurrectionary character of the class struggle, the Democratic Party fought to prevent these struggles from developing to a point of a political break and the formation of an independent political party in the European model of labor or social democratic parties. This, alongside the extraordinary wealth of American capitalism, explains why there has never been a labor party in the United States.”

    Their wording here is kind of ambiguous, but if WSWS is claiming that Bryan was a Party tool, I’m pretty sure that’s a load of crap. The ruling class of the US pulled out all the stops to stop him.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Their wording here is kind of ambiguous, but if WSWS is claiming that Bryan was a Party tool, I’m pretty sure that’s a load of crap. The ruling class of the US pulled out all the stops to stop him.

      Thank you. You put your finger on what worries me about so much of the WSWS content. While so often directionally correct, I think they often treat events as less over-determined that it actually is (no allowance for randomness or error or stupidity, etc…).

      Reply
  8. drumlin woodchuckles

    I wonder if the purple finch is heading towards silent extinction.

    Decades ago I used to see many of them in East Tennessee in the winter, more at feeders than not.
    And again in-around Cortland, New York.

    After moving to Michigan I would see a few each winter, then fewer, then none. I think I saw one 15 years ago. And another one maybe 10 years before that.

    Meanwhile, the house finches ( not house sparrows) slowly moved in and took over everywhere. Images for house finch.
    https://images.search.yahoo.com/search/images;_ylt=A2KLfR_QyGRgjWsAmkVXNyoA;_ylu=Y29sbwNiZjEEcG9zAzEEdnRpZAMEc2VjA3Nj?p=house+finch+image&fr=sfp

    And images for purple finch.
    https://images.search.yahoo.com/search/images;_ylt=A0geJaIFyWRguKoA_UpXNyoA;_ylu=Y29sbwNiZjEEcG9zAzEEdnRpZAMEc2VjA3Nj?p=purple+finch+image&fr=sfp

    I miss the purple finch.

    Reply
    1. Harold

      The purple finch used to be the default bird in NYC before the more aggressive English Sparrow was introduced. I once had a little flock of about 5 of them in my backyard, which is when I learned about them. They are quite pretty and their song is more musical than that of the English sparrow. I wish they would come back. It is very sad. But perhaps there is hope. If more greenery is planted, maybe.

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I remember about 55 years ago or so . . . visiting grandfather in NYC and hearing a mystery bird song I could not place.

        Some years after that Dad and I were birdwatching at Jamaica Bay Refuge and we saw some finches that I felt had to be purple finches even though they didn’t look quite right. I had not yet heard of the house finch as a possibility. But the ranger on duty in the visitor center told us that there were now house finches around and I rethought what I had seen.

        Many years after that, after living in Michigan for a while, I began seeing house finches showing up in Michigan. Then increasing their numbers wildly. They were more aggressive than the English sparrows and began suppressing them and displacing them. Till they got so populous that their population was knocked down to reasonable levels by some kind of house finch “pinkeye”. Their eyes got infected and welded shut by dried mucus and they couldn’t see to feed and they died.

        How did that all happen? I had read that the house finch is native to some part of the California mountains. Some were trapped and sold in Long Island as ” Hollywood Finches” in the 1940s. Some escaped and successfully bred in small numbers in southern Long Island. Till at some point their population exploded and they began marching all over eastern North America to at least the Midwest. Now they cover the country.

        Images of present day range maps for house finch.
        https://images.search.yahoo.com/search/images;_ylt=AwrJ6y2LfWVgUukADOlXNyoA;_ylu=Y29sbwNiZjEEcG9zAzEEdnRpZAMEc2VjA3Nj?p=house+finch+breeding+range+map&fr=sfp

        I have read that the house finch is one of several things making the purple finch less common in some areas.

        Reply
      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > If more greenery is planted, maybe.

        Gardeners, listen up!

        “Birds love a mess” is a motto I learned long ago. My whole garden became much more ragged in consequence, and I really liked the look.

        They like piles of twigs (for nests), lots of canopy (perching and hiding). However, if you have a water feature, given plenty of space around it so they can spot predators, i.e. cats.

        Reply
  9. Lee

    “Phospholipidosis is a shared mechanism underlying the in vitro antiviral activity of many repurposed drugs against SARS-CoV-2” (preprint) [bioRxiv]…. • I need somebody to translate this into English, but it is an interesting thesis.

    …………………………………………………………….

    Phospholipidosis is a lysosomal storage disorder characterized by the excess accumulation of phospholipids in tissues. Certain cases may be triggered by medications. The traditional method to evaluate DIPL is visual confirmation of myeloid bodies in tissues by electron microscopy.

    I got as far as the first search result for the first word and gave up. :>/

    Reply
    1. xformbykr

      phospholipids (are a family of chemical compounds that) are a major component of mammalian cell surfaces. they’re somewhat like detergents: their chemical structures include long carbon-chain fatty acids (like, 16 or 18 carbons long), with a phosphate group at the head. they provide a fluid matrix for the cell surfaces, in which various receptors (like, for drugs, spike proteins, enzymes, etc.) can often float freely.
      i can imagine that phospholipidosis could interfere with the virus infection process, which involves events on the cell surface. but this is the first i’ve heard of phospholipidosis; will stay tuned.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > i can imagine that phospholipidosis could interfere with the virus infection process, which involves events on the cell surface. but this is the first i’ve heard of phospholipidosis; will stay tuned.

        Thanks for the translation

        Reply
  10. steve

    Well if we are doing the virus-playing-cards metaphor, I hope they aren’t sandbagging.

    And, did you crop the rhododendrons from JBirds pic or is JBird confused as to what a rhododendron is?

    Reply
      1. JBird4049

        Sorry, I was too close when I took the photo as I was focused on the Jade’s flowers. So you can’t see either rhododendron because they are not in the picture. Oops. My two very scraggly ones would be beneath the grass(?) right outside of the picture closer to my other Jade.

        Reply
  11. none

    My brother got his second Pfizer shot last week. The shot itself went fine, but it involved waiting in 3 separate lines (checkin, getting the paperwork for the shot, and getting the shot itself) totalling about 1/2 hour inside a CVS (doh!!!) and then having to wait 15 minutes for post-shot “observation” inside the same CVS. Total idiocy. His first shot was the same deal though the lines weren’t quite as slow.

    Reply
  12. GF

    “Bidens’ dog Major involved in another biting incident” [CNN].

    I was wondering if he is been trained to “attack” blue dogs? Vote for my agenda or else…

    Reply
    1. Michael Ismoe

      What if Major was just taking the blame for Demented Joe biting anyone who walks down a White House corridor ?

      Reply
      1. rowlf

        I really didn’t want to do this:

        Biden Removed From White House After Biting Aide

        WASHINGTON, D.C. March 9th, 2021—Biden has been removed from the White House for evaluation by a team of physicians after biting one of the aides.

        “We are so shocked,” said Chief of Staff Ron Klain of the incident. “He has always been so docile and well behaved– always limiting his interactions to sniffing and friendly licks. He’s never bitten anyone like this.”

        Experts have suggested that the new environment and activity has been traumatizing to the President, and are suggesting adjusting his diet and perhaps a few weeks at obedience school to remedy the situation.

        “Worst case scenario, we may have to put him down,” said Dr. Kevin O’Connor, the White House physician. “Hopefully it doesn’t come to that, but sometimes these things happen.”

        Vice President Kamala Harris has assured the American people that Biden will be sent to a nice farm upstate where he can run free.

        Reply
    2. The Rev Kev

      Lucky there are Secret Service people about the White House rather than ordinary cops. Street cops would have just shot the dog dead without a blink. That dog has bitten two people in two months so at that rate, it will have bitten about fifty people in old Joe’s first term alone. Maybe they should consider a muzzle until they can send it to paw camp. What is paw camp? Why it is like boot camp for people but for dogs instead. And come to think of it, did you read the last paragraph? Biden is actually putting the blame on the people that were bitten on them. Real classy that.

      Reply
      1. skippy

        They could trial my 20kg Rue – Malinois/Oz Kelpie and the 50kg Ralphie – straight back black German Shepherd as a good will down under tour thingy …

        Best bit is they will flinch at Ralphie, once at Vets I was walking him through the back of the house hallway and another vet came around the corner and almost fell over – when she saw him. They look very wolf like, quite muscular, and move like a big cat. On the contrary he is a big softy and his breed are know as having a stable temperament and don’t knee jerk, thus making them good working dogs. On the other hand if one was to through a ball down the hall way, well its either move or get skittled. Speed, stealth, and agility. These dogs have a maximum running speed of 30 mph or 48 km/h and a jumping height of 5 feet or 1.5 meters.

        This brings a whole new meaning to the perspective of doggie play time.

        On the other hand the diminutive sexy coat/gait beseeching eyes of Rue will suck many in from afar only to find out she is kinda picky about things. Loathes uncontrolled dogs, people that exhibit any signs of agro, and can be a wee bit jealous. She would be the one to sort things out others if she thought hers was being treated poorly, but not 10/10 out of the gate. It would start with vocalization and posture and work itself up as needed before pulling the teeth trigger, then its John Wick III move time.

        Alas Biden’s GSD is the result of people and not its fault, same could be said of humans and their first 5 years of life and then somehow that get translated into personal failure[s later on as a teen or adult and the laws of free will apply. Sad thing is they did the liberal thing and tired to punch the Good Will/Samaritan ticket with a rescue dog and never followed up with the actual work/effort to give the GSD a better quality of life outside being a image buffer. On the other hand a far right republican would just shoot the dog if it bit the wrong person and reward it if it bit the right sort of person – in their view – is that a wash – ?????

        On second thought maybe its not such a good idea to subject them to the White House/DC antics, if this dog thing is so hard, or for that matter the last Guys Kids …. what loving human would expose them that kinda mental exposure.

        PS …. out of lock down.

        Reply
  13. buermann

    “there was a strong monotonic correlation between antiviral efficacy and the magnitude of the phospholipidosis. Conversely, drugs active against the same targets that did not induce phospholipidosis were not antiviral.” • I need somebody to translate this into English”

    The drugs cause an excessive buildup of cell membrane material (phospholipids) inside cells, which they’re suggesting is what gums up the works for viruses’ attempts to hijack them.

    Here’s a paper with detailed explanations of the process and slides:

    https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/tox/21/1/21_1_9/_pdf

    Reply
    1. R

      This is really intriguing. Chloroquine is concentrated in tissue cell types and in certain cell structures. It alters the electrical charge of those structures. Chronic administration can lead to retinal dysfunction, although I don’t know if that is an electrical charge issue for the retinal cells and neurons or something else.

      Anyway, nearly forty years ago a team did some complicated work using radioactive isotope-labelled water to work out just how much water is in the structures targeted by chloroquine and thus what the concentration is. It can reach 70x blood plasma concentration from a single dose! It appears to block a key enzyme in phospholipid metabolism and the accumulation of phospholipids causes the increased negative charge of the cell structure.
      http://www.jbc.org/content/260/1/215.full.pdf

      Quite how this has an anti-viral effect or mitigates some other impact of corovavirus infection remains to be seen but it is interesting and relatively old school cell biochemistry.

      Reply
      1. R

        On further inspection, CQ concentrates in the lysosome and induces phospholipidosis here. One viral route to cell entry is to latch onto the cell membrane outside and get enveloped in a sphere of membrane that is pinched off inward into the cell. The next step is for the little bubble to merge its membrane with a lysosome, an internal cell organelle. A high CQ concentration and/or negative charge of high phospholipid concentration interferes with this process.

        Perhaps the same happens for the other drugs of interest in treating coronavrus infections.

        However, it is a quite a common property of drugs to induce this so perhaps there is no useful signal here. Throw enough mud etc.

        Worth investigating.

        Reply
  14. wadge22

    I’m Cleveland area, living down here in Akron. Don’t have much useful to add about Turner, other than I wish I were in the district she is trying to win, so that I might feel some reason to get interested. Alas, I am in Tim Ryan’s district, who is a lot less motivating.
    Chances are I could throw a stone and find 11th district soil, however, as Ohio’s 9th, 11th, and 13th are a fine example of gerrymandering. Akron got sliced and diced!

    Reply
    1. Michael Mck

      Please consider joining the People’s Party and running against Ryan. If you feel you are not the one, find someone with good politics who is closer to your ideal and support them in doing so. Just getting a left populist message out is a public service and people everywhere need protest votes. Meanwhile there is a local board you could get on easily, just start going and observing as a member of the public. You can make a modest positive difference and start learning enough to be closer to your ideal yourself.

      Reply
  15. Darthbobber

    WSWS is really getting carried away with the Democratic Sheepdog metaphor as monocausal explanation for insufficient revolutionary ferment in the USA.

    If the Democratic Party “fought to contain” pressures within the party system, didn’t French and Gladstonian liberals do the same? Or Disraeli’s Tories for that matter.

    Surely any political party worthy of notice attempts to convince dissatisfied voters that it is the answer to their problems. But any DETAILED look at American politics and society in the 1820s or 1890s (or the 1930s when the ancestors of this Trotskyist splinter were beginning the 4th international’s uninterrupted record of total failure) makes it fairly obvious that conscious conspiring by a given political party’s leaders can’t account for most of what is going on.

    I’ll retrieve the old pejorative “vulgar Marxism” from the attic in order to apply it to this sort of regression to simplistic, conspiratorial, reified explanations of material history. (Reified because they treat the Democratic Party as a big person persisting over time, though the social forces forming it’s core change completely over time).

    Why have the democratic/republican parties so successfully seen off their major challenges? And ideological hand-waving is no answer. (For that matter, how is it that Trotskyist political formations never make headway in any competition for support, no matter who their opponents are?)

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      Would you consider the early Red Army to be a Trotskyite organization?
      Indeed, I foresee a resurgence of popularity for the Red Army amongst the ‘wokerati’, because it valiantly fights against White privilege.

      Reply
    1. ambrit

      If the practice of “earmarks” is restored to the process, I can see the bill having a much greater chance of passage.

      Reply
  16. Katiebird

    I am not at all an anti vaxer but this story from the NYTimes makes me nervous (I’ve been waiting for the J&J vaccine to become available to me)

    Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine doses are delayed by a U.S. factory mix-up.

    Workers at a Baltimore plant manufacturing two coronavirus vaccines accidentally conflated the vaccines’ ingredients several weeks ago, ruining about 15 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine and forcing regulators to delay authorization of the plant’s production lines.

    The plant is run by Emergent BioSolutions, a manufacturing partner to both Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca. Federal officials attributed the mistake to human error.

    The mixup has halted future shipments of Johnson & Johnson doses in the United States while the Food and Drug Administration investigates. Johnson & Johnson has moved to strengthen its control over Emergent BioSolutions’ work to avoid further quality lapses.

    It does not affect Johnson & Johnson doses that are currently being delivered and used nationwide. All those doses were produced in the Netherlands, where operations have been fully approved by federal regulators.

    But all further shipments of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine — projected to total tens of millions of doses in the next month — were supposed to come from the massive Baltimore plant.

    Those shipments are now in question while the quality control issues are sorted out, according to people familiar with the matter.

    I am starting to wonder if I’ll ever dare leave the house again except to dart out for groceries once a month.

    Reply
    1. Katiebird

      Also, my son got the J&J vaccine a couple of weeks ago. How can we be sure that he didn’t get a botched vaccine and what in the world should be done if he did.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I believe the J&J mixup was caught in QA (OK, that’s what they say. Does make you wonder, though, if the AZ clotting issues could be batch related).

        However, human error really = management f*ckup. I mean, come on, man.

        Reply
  17. The Rev Kev

    “William Boyd: how David Bowie and I hoaxed the art world”

    Gotta admit that I was never really a David Bowie fan when younger. But over the years, not only have I learned to appreciate his music, I have come to appreciate the man. And when I read this article, I like the man even more. Would you believe that he had the same birthday as Elvis Presley?

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

    Reply
  18. rowlf

    While watching local over-the-air television news broadcasts on several channels this evening, I have a stupid question: Why are there no vaccine commercials?

    No Public Service Announcements, no spiffy get-the-vaccine-and-have-this wonderful-lifestyle-experience ads like all the other drug ads for us, nothing. Why?

    Weird. Are other areas in the US like this?

    Reply
    1. Angie Neer

      Who needs advertising when every newspaper and website is daily talking about people clambering for your product? Plus, vaccines are one- or two-dose deals. A product with hundreds of millions of customers is nice, but when each is only buying once or twice, and distributing the stuff is expensive, it’s not all that great. What you see constantly advertised is generally stuff you have to take on a regular schedule for the rest of your life. The profit potential per consumer is vastly higher.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Who needs advertising when every newspaper and website is daily talking about people clambering for your product

        TV advertising can be very effective. It is pretty amazing, now that I think about it, that the Biden administration hasn’t organized PSAs.

        Reply
    2. ocop

      This ad is running in NC: https://vimeo.com/514026855. Famous football player telling us all that “this is our shot” (pun intended I’m sure).

      In line with Angie’s comment I cant quite sort out who the intended audience is or why UNC Health thinks it would be effective. Vaccination in the major metros is running more or less at capacity and opens up to gen pop next week, so its not like hesitancy is the bottleneck at this point.

      Reply
  19. clarky90

    Leaky Vaccines Enhance Spread of Deadlier Chicken Viruses

    https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/leaky-vaccines-enhance-spread-of-deadlier-chicken-viruses#:~:text=Marek's%20is%20caused%20by%20a,the%20disease%20the%20under%20control.

    “Over the past fifty years; Marek’s disease (in chickens) is caused by a highly contagious virus, related to those that cause herpes in humans. It spreads through the dust of contaminated chicken coops, and caused both paralysis and cancer. In the 1970s, new vaccines brought the disease the under control. But Marek’s didn’t go gently into that good night. Within ten years, it started evolving into more virulent strains, which now trigger more severe cancers and afflict chickens at earlier ages.

    Andrew Read from Pennsylvania State University thinks that the vaccines were responsible. The Marek’s vaccine is “imperfect” or “leaky.” That is, it protects chickens from developing disease, but doesn’t stop them from becoming infected or from spreading the virus. Inadvertently, this made it easier for the most virulent strains to survive. Such strains would normally kill their hosts so quickly that they’d die out. But…….”

    Reply
  20. drumlin woodchuckles

    Here’s an interesting news story about how the Biden Admin plans to remove 40 Trump appointees from EPA science panels, to begin the decontamination process for those panels and ‘ restore scientific integrity’.

    If so, this is some of the restoration-of-function to parts of the Administrative State which I was/am hoping for. Stripping Republican pro-pollutionists and pro-contaminationists out of the bureaus and agencies is a good thing.

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/epa-trump-experts-removed-b1825226.html

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      It could also be considered a version of “gain of function” research. If so, then it should be carried out overseas, preferably in the heart of a major Chinese city.

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Well here’s hoping the Biden replacements are less pro-pollution than the Republican intrusions onto those panels were.

        Certainly Pruitt, for example, was installed at EPA to destroy it from within and above. Is the new guy a functional Pruitt-equivalent? We shall see.

        Reply

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