Links 3/6/2021

Yves here. One of our aides’ 29 year old daughter in on a respirator for Covid. No pre-existing conditions. She’s a police officer, so she has health insurance and was getting regular medical exams. So don’t perpetuate the myth that only old people are at risk. This aide and her significant other have already had 3 people in their families under 40 die of Covid.

The man who saves forgotten cats in Fukushima’s nuclear zone Reuters

Tearing Apart the Universe American Scientist (UserFriendly)

Sand shortage: The world is running out of a crucial commodity CNBC (resilc)

The Dark Side of Bill Gates’s Climate Techno-Optimism New Republic (resilc). Of course he has to be an optimist. Computers eat a lot of power.

Scientific communication in a post-truth society PNAS (Dr. Kevin)

Why is Electroshock Therapy Still a Mainstay of Psychiatry? Aeon (Anthony L)


Reopening US Schools is Complicated MIT Technology Review

After record COVID-19 deaths, Bolsonaro tells Brazilians to stop ‘whining’ Reuters

Israel postpones roll-out of COVID vaccine to Palestinian workers AlJazeera


Speedy variants power virus surge sweeping Europe Associated Press

<Wolfgang Streeck, Vaccine Debacle New Left Review. Anthony L: “A wonderful opening sentence I’m certain is much better in the original German: ‘Whatever else you may think about Angela Merkel, one thing you must allow her: she knows a hot potato when she sees one, and she can pass it on to someone else in no time.'”


Fauci warns of COVID-19 spike in coming weeks, even though more vaccines are being administered The Hill

Reopening US schools is complicated. MIT Technology Review


Democrats break COVID impasse with deal on jobless benefits The Hill


US Pacific Commander Defends $27 Billion Plan to Confront China Antiwar (resilc)

China’s low growth target reflects tech war drag Asia Times

Exclusive: U.S. blocked Myanmar junta attempt to empty $1 billion New York Fed account – sources Reuters (resilc)


UK-EU trade falls sharply as Brexit disruption starts to bite Financial Times

Northern Irish loyalist paramilitaries withdraw support for 1998 peace deal Reuters (resilc)


Scottish government discounted legal advice to give up fight with Salmond Guardian (Kevin W)

Mediterranean pipe dream founders on global gas glut Asia Times (resilc)


Anonymous US Officials Blame ‘Iranian-Backed’ Militia For Latest Iraq Rocket Attack Antiwar (resilc)

Israel Updating Plans to Attack Iran Antiwar

The pope and the ayatollah: Francis meets Iraq’s Sistani Washington Post (furzy)

Funny how Twitter hasn’t banned the Israeli journalist advocating murder:

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

China-Linked Hack Hits Tens of Thousands of U.S. Microsoft Customers Wall Street Journal. Don’t blame me for the headline.

White House warns of ‘large number’ of victims in Microsoft hack Financial Times (David L)

Imperial Collapse Watch

US exceptionalism surges again: Will it fly? Asia Times

Capitol Seizure

Pelosi-appointed general recommends establishing permanent QUICK-REACTION TROOPS in DC to protect government from the governed RT. Kevin W:




Biden’s climate plan has a nuclear solution Asia Times (Kevin W)

Biden tells NASA engineer Indian Americans are ‘taking over the country’ New York Post

Senior diplomatic security official removed from Afghanistan role after posting racist comments about Kamala Harris Mercury News

In Republican House races, viral-ad donations offer big payoff for consultants Washington Post (UserFriendly)

Texas Deep Freeze Aftermath

Goldman Made $200 Million Off the U.S. Deep Freeze, at Least on Paper Bloomberg

Federal judge says states acted too late to ratify Equal Rights Amendment NBC (furzy)


Andrew Cuomo’s Endgame Political Currents by Ross Barkan (UserFriendly)

Socialist Legislators Want to Impeach Cuomo for Harassment Intercept (resilc)

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Talk of Reparations: Pie in the Sky Pushed by Democrat Bamboozlers Ghion Journal


Bitcoin Storm Brewing Over Trump’s Anti-Money Laundering Push Bloomberg

John McAfee, antivirus software creator, charged with cheating investors over cryptocurrency scheme ABC (Australia). Furzy: “Bitcoin = Prosecution futures…..”

Bitcoin could prevent society from functioning and is an ‘extreme form of libertarian anarchism,’ warns this fund manager MarketWatch. Curiously overwrought.

What Happens When a Publisher Becomes a Megapublisher? New York Times (Anthony L)

High-priced tech stocks sink further into bear market territory Financial Times

No, we don’t need to ‘balance the books’ Thomas Fazi

Class Warfare

Caring by the Dollar: Nursing Homes, Private Equity, and Covid-19 Dollars & Sense

The eight Democrats who voted ‘no’ on $15 minimum wage The Hill (Kevin W)

Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema compared to Marie Antoinette for voting against minimum wage hike Yahoo

How some people can end up living at airports for months – even years – at a time The Conversation (resilc)

Sidewalk robots get legal rights as “pedestrians” Axios (Chuck L)

Is evil a matter of personality or a condition of society? Times Literary Supplement (Anthony L)

Antidote du jour (furzy):

And a bonus:

Another bonus, from Chuck L:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. A.

    Risking Yves’ first-comment wrath to quote:

    “This aide and her significant other have already had 3 people in their families under 40 die of Covid.”

    In the country I live in, there are regular news headlines about how “X members of the same family died within Y weeks of each other.” My intuition is that there have been just too many anecdotes of this kind to classify as mere statistical noise, and part of me looks forward to science finally unconvering whatever transcendent nonlinear genetic mechanism that is lurking beneath the COVID-19 demon, and causing all these interrelated fatalities. Or maybe it’s just viral load. Who knows? Nature, it seems, is always one joke ahead.

    1. t

      Contrapoint. Compare families where many live in multigenerational homes and are in service jobs to my relatives and coworkers who live entirely in single-family homes and have work-from home jobs and only catch the plague when they go to some kind of party – because otherwise they don’t have to be among people. At all.

      Certainly, there are sets of people who are more less susceptible and more or less likely to fare well. But repeated exposure and high stress is higher risk.

    2. John Zelnicker

      March 6, 2021 at 7:21 am

      I read an article yesterday on research into how the COVID virus is causing extensive organ damage in some folks even after they recover. They are looking at how the virus messes with the immune system, in general.

      One effect they found that needs further research is that COVID seems to impair the ability of interferon to do its job of modulating the immune system response. One of the possible causes may be related to variations in a gene that regulates interferon activity.

      If this turns out to be true, that would be an additional way to explain family clusters, especially if the family members who get sick have a more serious illness. (They only studied folks with serious cases, n=60.)

      I want to give a huge Thank You to Yves, Lambert, et al, for continuing to feature links to COVID research in both Links and Water Cooler. My thanks also to Ignacio and other epidemiologists and scientists whose comments have added context to the studies.

      I have been able to help my family and friends understand the science and make better decisions about living with the pandemic. NC really is the best.

      1. marku52

        Yes, there is a gene that interferes with interferon production, this is very harmful to the innate immune response that is critical to getting the infection under control before the over-reaction of the cytokine storm. There is also an autoimmune disease where the immune system targets interferon. All this would be bad news for a covid infection.

      2. pasha

        naked capitalism was just about the first non-medical website to take covid-19 seriously, and for over a year has been a cogent source for investigating our changing, growing knowledge of this most-novel virus. yves and lambert and the many commenters here have undoubtedly saved lives and the health of many through their work. thank you!

      1. Jesper

        I am happy to know that it is being investigated as I believe it is too early to close off possible avenues for investigation. Until we know then it should, in my opinion, be investigated.

    3. PlutoniumKun

      If you share a house with someone with Covid, its very possible that you could be exposed to a very high viral load in comparison to someone who gets it in a restaurant or at the office – this happened to someone I know who was caring for both his parents, who got Covid at the same time. That alone could explain why there could be multiple deaths within a family (there is a known association between viral load and the intensity of your illness). Plus ill health and bad diet, etc., is often a family wide thing.

      This isn’t to say that there isn’t a genetic or other element to it, but simplest explanations are often best.

      1. Terry Flynn

        Absolutely true. I now firmly believe parents and I all got it in Feb 2020. I got it worst. Mum was moderately bad whilst dad was virtually asymptomatic.

        I’m still following up the antigen mentioned yesterday but if true it would help explain why autoimmune conditions running in mum’s side of the family primarily but not dad’s might be an issue. I refrained from commenting on vaccination responses (since I am a strong pro-vaxxer) but after gradual improvement during 2020 I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t mention how the (non human) virus used to get the vaccine into us happens to be (in its human form) one known from 2015 to activate the antigen causing huge autoimmune reactions. If mum carries on tmw in state she’s been in since vaccination I’m calling emergency services. This ain’t normal and I’ll “yellow card” it.

        Note. I’m not a medic and you should be vaccinated. I’m worried about a subset of us who may have a particular gene plus exposure to an infection that “switched it on” (epigenetics). I never shout fire in a theatre unless it’s real.

        1. Terry Flynn

          Am only saying more because moderators oked my post. The AZ vaccine uses a (chimp) adenovirus to “get into the human body and start process of multiplying antibodies without the human system killing the virus immediately”.

          Can an immunologist explain that there is NO WAY the human body might mistakenly see the adenovirus as a human one (they’re common) and therefore allow the vaccine to “reactivate”covid?

          I ask because adenovirus likely caused certain autoimmune conditions I’ve suffered. I am not looking to reduce confidence in vaccines. Despite my family experiences I’d still make same choices regarding vaccination.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            Yes, this is where it all gets complicated. I’ve been accused by some friends of being an anti-vaxxer for raising concerns about the quick roll out, when I’m the opposite. I just want to be sure that there has been a full risk assessment carried out for all the alternatives, when clearly this has not happened, and is not happening. I think we are now in the sort of ‘no reversal’ situation where even if genuine concerns are found about one or more vaccine, it will be ignored. I’ve noted with some medics in my circle that there is a ‘just stop asking questions and take the damn vaccine’ mentality, which indicates to me a form of group think which in its own way as worrying as the anti-vaxxer mentality.

            I’m not high risk, so I won’t be offered a vaccine until I think the summer at the earliest, but that doesn’t bother me – I’d rather have a good 6 months to look at the data coming through and (hopefully) be able to select the vaccine that would be most suitable for me. My doctor is very thoughtful and good on these things, so hopefully when he is less busy I’ll be able to talk this through with him.

      2. Amfortas the hippie

        i think there’s likely some genetic component to immunity, or at least resistance.
        wife and both boys got it in january…likely after a mostly outdoors xmas get together with the Familia.
        few days after that event, wife felt like crap, but thought it was usual sinus infection that we all always get that time of year.
        but her brother, who had been there, called everyone that he had tested positive…so we all got tested.
        I…somehow…tested negative twice…and had no symptoms aside from normal january in the texas hill country, cedar fever type things.
        eldest lives next door in my Library/trailerhouse, but is over here all the time…and none of us have been avoiding contact with each other since the pandemic began…I have my own room/bed…when wife got cancer, she moved into the living room, and has remained there(it’s a very, very comfortable couch…i’d happily switch with her…but whatever,lol)
        but this house was built for airflow, 1 foot gaps at the tops of each interior wall, and in winter, the ceiling fans on low to push the heat around.
        IE: i was most definitely exposed to the virus they brought home.
        aside from pure idiot luck, some genetic variation that i didn’t pass to my boys is the best culprit for this
        at the layperson’s level of understanding genetics, seems it would be “easy” to locate…what marker do i have, but wife and boys lack?
        I understand that it’s a whole lot more complicated than that.

        wife and i even had a rather vigorous Date Afternoon in the woods between that get together and her getting sick.
        I was totally shocked to test negative.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          An anecdote – I heard recently from a retired Irish couple I know slightly, both very high risk for Covid – in their 60’s, she is partially disabled following a stroke, he is obese and generally not very healthy. They were visiting family in California when Covid struck, and they decided the best thing to do was not to find a flight home but to find a cheap rental and sit it out. They are somewhere out in the boonies in Southern California, in a small house with a pool.

          To my surprise, they said they both got Covid before New Year. They described it as just a bad flu, neither needed hospitalisation, and were fully recovered within a week.

          I have been wondering whether the simple old style 19th Century recuperation and health policy for infectious diseases of simply sitting out in the fresh air and sunshine a lot has protected them, as I suspect thats all they’ve been doing all day in California (both are sun worshipers, always sporting a tan from vacations).

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            good insight.
            I’m also mostly outside, and as naked as weather allows(hence, Vit D).
            and we open the windows, too, as much as weather allows(not so much this winter, sadly)
            and now that we have the Bar, which is protected more or less from the north wind,on warmish days all this winter i’ve dragged wife out there to the ratty loveseat closest to the fire to sit in the sun…me, generally a pale version of a sadhu…her, catholic prohibitions deeply embedded, maybe shirtless….specifically to boost our D intake.
            prolly lots of contributing factors…a further reminder of just how little we know about anything.

            and speaking of Vitamin D and Covid, where’s Krystin P.?

          2. Terry Flynn

            I echo you and Amfortas. It is not a total panacea but I’m firmly convinced it is a positive factor. Whilst increased age undoubtedly complicates comparisons, I shrugged off infection, auto immune conditions etc much more easily when I used to get a summer sun and winter sun holiday from here in UK and especially during my 6 years down under.

    4. Yves Smith Post author

      Did you miss that this is an aide and her significant other, as in two different gene pools? And I mean different, they are an interracial pair.

      And per PK, no, the family members were living apart. Two were in two different cities in Ohio, one in Georgia, and the one who is now ill is in Connecticut.

      1. A.

        Sorry for the late response. I did not miss it: It’s just that, 3 people in 2 families means that one of the families must have had two deaths under 40. Assuming a CFR of 0.25% for that age group, unless I am mistaken, both of those people ending up dead is a 160000-to-1 occurrence. So when I read anecdotes such as yours, I feel it points at a somber sort of situation where the statistics don’t quite provide comfort: Clearly some families are having it much worse than others.

  2. epynonymous

    Good news.

    Two of yesterdays stories got picked up by the faceborg.

    Cuttlefish and the Ipod Apple.

    Also, the birds are back in season.

    1. tegnost

      Face book? is that like a collection of mugshots or something?
      Oh look the criminals found more free stuff to sell!

      1. shtove

        Must say, FB very seldom comes up for me in online searches, even the loosely-phrased. When it does catch my attention, that’s mostly from someone complaining about it.

  3. The Rev Kev

    “Anonymous US Officials Blame ‘Iranian-Backed’ Militia For Latest Iraq Rocket Attack”

    In other news, anonymous US officials are telling the media that an “Iranian-backed” assassin was almost certainly behind the assassination of John F. Kennedy and not Lee Harvey Oswald as was thought at the time. When concerned reporters asked about the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan, they were told that 17 intelligence agencies had concurred that John Hinckley Jr. was actually acting under the direct orders of Iran’s then leader, Ali Khamenei. Reporters present gravely took notes.

      1. JacobiteInTraining

        I cant reveal my sources, but I have it on good authority the Iranians are soon to be massing on the Hellespont. Something about a tyrannical need for ‘earth and water’ from the freedom-loving peoples.

        Luckily, and through an absolute coincidence, the freedom loving peoples freedomy governments and freedoming woke social structures just happen to have a well-oiled military machine all funded, set up, and ready to go.

        Phew, imagine my relief. I can go back to reading my latest ‘Helot Herald’ about the news. I’m set to start working over in Patrocles olive orchard soon, and I’m really interested to know if we get the bonus extra rotted grain gruel I have been hearing about, as long as we work past dusk on a regular basis.

        1. Dictynna

          Be careful of those Spartans…they may not seem to be a threat, but I’ve heard they always declare war on helots so they can kill with impunity…

          1. ambrit

            Most definitely keep a weather eye trained on the Spartan’s catamites. They are everywhere amongst the PMC nowadays.
            I’ve been warned by a “knowledgeable insider” that all those cute cat videos are a dastardly plot by the Purrsians.
            Athena uphold my reason! (I heard her owls hooting last night in a cacaphony of caution.) What is this cosmos coming to?

  4. The Rev Kev

    “US Pacific Commander Defends $27 Billion Plan to Confront China’

    I know that this Admiral was speaking at the American Enterprise Institute but this is nuts. Placing a long-range missile system throughout the First Island Chain? I think that we can assume that those missiles will be nuclear-tipped so this is all about placing nukes off China’s coastline. Think that the Chinese will let that slide? It would be like China stationing nuclear-tipped missiles all along the Caribbean through to the Gulf of Mexico. The US almost went to nuclear war just because of nuclear missiles in Cuba alone.

    Thinking to see just who this Admiral was, I found out that he was the one that ordered the aircraft-carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt to conduct a visit to Da Nang, Vietnam last year. And as a consequence, nearly 600 sailors got Coronavirus with one death and 4,000 sailors had to be evacuated from the ship. That was when the ship’s commander, Captain Brett Crozier, was relieved of command to cover for this Admiral’s idiotic order. Once an idjut, always an idjut.

    1. Carolinian

      Perhaps one way to put the stymie on our out of control US military is for countries like yours to start objecting. Clearly our domestic opposition is nonexistent at this point because Americans don’t see themselves under any real threat and there’s no draft to concentrate the mind. Obviously any confrontation with China is far more dangerous to Australia than to, say, South Carolina. I don’t think their missiles can reach this far.

      1. Procopius

        I vaguely recall many years ago a U.S. warship was denied entry to Sydney Harbor because the U.S. would not state unequivocally that it WAS NOT carrying nuclear weapons.

    2. Jason

      Once an idjut, always an idjut.

      If he has a political career in mind, he’s a genius. He just became presidential material.

    3. PlutoniumKun

      The article is confused, it seems to be mixing up the proposed long range anti-aircraft and anti-ballistic missiles with shorter range precision missiles designed for knocking out small naval targets like the numerous high speed missile boats the Chinese are likely to use. None of those are nuclear tipped. Given the US’s large number of nuclear ballistic submarines, it certainly doesn’t need any land based ones.

      So far as I’m aware, the US does not have a tactical nuclear capability in the Pacific, that side of things is confined to Europe and has been wound down significantly. I doubt if they would want one, because in a tactical nuke exchange in the region, there would be only one winner as US forces are concentrated in nice tight little airbases while the Chinese could avoid coming off worse by simply spreading their forces widely. Most of the big Mainland Chinese bases are within the major cities, so striking them would make the difference between a tactical and strategic strike moot.

      But that commander is a fool to talk about these things so openly. It used to be that senior officers never admitted in public who the enemy is that they are preparing to fight, thats the job of politicians. It is a sign of the degradation of public discourse that senior officers can go around openly advocating taking aggressive military stances against major trading partners. Even the likes of Curtis LeMay used to confine his most provocative statements to private conversations.

      1. Baldanders

        This is all part of building the narrative of an “inevitable” confrontation with China, with the US “defending ” Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam, etc. from being cut off from sea access.

        Total crap, but a necessary narrative to justify why we still need big carrier groups and the Marine’s new long-term delusional push to go back to being a force that specializes in amphibious assaults, with an eye to rapidly taking islands from China to set up “insta-bases” in a conflict in the South China Sea.

        I say “delusional” because all the counter the Chinese would need would be a few thousand cruise missiles targeted to the relevant islands….

        No way these missiles would have nukes. Our military generally does it’s best to act like they don’t exist and have no effect on strategy or tactics, as a self-protective measure. Unless we are invading/bombing/hacking a “rogue” state that might develop such weapons.

      2. Watt4Bob

        It’s interesting that you mention LeMay in this context.

        It is my understanding* that technically, even though Truman has taken the responsibility for the decision to drop ‘the’, bomb, the planning, left the military, meaning in particular, Curtis LeMay, with the last word on the dropping of the first atomic weapons.

        IIRC, there was the worry on the part of the brass that when it came time, the politicians would hesitate and they would be deprived of their opportunity to see their new toy work, and of course impress the Russians.

        *House of War, James Carroll, son of Joseph Carroll, first head of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

        Later, LeMay famously believed he could have his planes in the air within 20 minutes of a Russian attack, Joseph Carroll proved him wrong by infiltrating one of his bases and painting “Disabled” across the sides of his bombers in red paint. This led to the policy of SAC having bombers in the air at all times.

        1. Michaelmas

          This led to the policy of SAC having bombers in the air at all times.

          Also to LeMay’s push to have a nuclear-powered bomber that would stay in the air for months at a time, just like the Navy had nuclear subs and carriers tha could stay at sea for months. The molten-salt thorium reactor was developed for the nuclear bomber program.

        2. Baldanders

          My last paragraph was mostly in reference to post-Cold War views and specifically 21st century attitudes towards nukes. We certainly used to have a military that was seriously set up towards thinking of fighting a nuclear war and taking the implications of all-near peers being nuclear-armed seriously—maybe too seriously, as when it was argued that we didn’t need an assault rifle like the USSR, because troops would be fine with heavy battle rifles since they would be just defending nukes from fixed bases!

          Over and over, various parts of the US military have argued that somehow, superpowers are going to start duking it out like they did pre-1945. “Because no one’s using nukes over just one ship!” Or some similar argument. Because it’s about the only way to justify new air superiority fighters, amphibious landing capabilities, etc.

        3. rowlf

          Why would LeMay have the last word in the dropping of atomic bombs when he was Chief of Staff under Spaatz’s command? After July 1945 LeMay was no longer commander of Twentieth Air Force.

          1. pasha

            but the decision to bomb hiroshima was made in july, no? it took some time for the uss indianapolis to get the bombs to the launch site

            1. rowlf

              LeMay thought the atomic bombs at the time were not necessary and said so to higher ups. People above him planning for the invasion of Japan thought otherwise.

      3. ambrit

        When push came to shove, Truman flew out to a Pacific base to read MacArthur the “Riot Act” concerning the chain of command in the American military.
        Having serving officers try to influence public policy openly is too much like a Banana Republic scenario for me.
        I won’t suggest that we are seeing a Praetorian guard in action yet, but it is a distinct possibility the way ‘things’ are developing in Washington.
        When a government fortifies the capitol against the “people,” that government has admitted to having lost the confidence of that “people.”
        We live in interesting times.

    4. Alex Cox

      The US is placing Aegis missile systems in Poland and Romania. While nominally ABMs, they are all nuclear capable. And they are pointed at Russia. So the admiral is simply following that joined-up NATO thinking.

      1. Baldanders

        I’m not sure what you mean by “nuclear capable.” I couldn’t find any reference to Aegis being able to use any of our current warheads with some Google-fu.

        If you mean “we could develop a nuclear warhead for it” that’s true of any missile system .

        1. Paradan

          Aegis uses standard size VLS cells. These can hold Tomahawks, which were nuclear capable in the 80’s. After USSR fell, they were part of the 90’s disarmament, but it’s a fair bet they just put the warheads in storage.

  5. Robby the Robot

    Sidewalk robots get legal rights as “pedestrians” Axios

    I can picture it, a world where robots form their own labor unions.

    1. The Rev Kev

      A century ago the streets in towns and cities were part commons though you had to watch out for horses and wagons. With the introduction of the automobile, laws were enacted to push people off streets and only onto the pavements to clear the roads for these new vehicles. People that used the road out of order were now known as “jaywalkers”.

      And now robots are threatening people’s use of sidewalks so that perhaps these remaining commons will be taken over by robot delivery vehicles and the like. I wonder what the laws will say if a robot injures any people? I can’t see people willing to give up pavements in cities like new York for the convenience of robots. They are more likely to push the robot onto the roads shouting “I’m walking here!”

      1. tegnost

        I don’t want to run over a cat
        I don’t want to run over a dog….
        oops I ran over a robot o well….
        It’s the first step to making them robot persons
        so that then it’s a punishable offence.

        1. ambrit

          Being “private property,” running over a robot is already a crime.
          Talk of elevating robots to the status of “legal person” is trolling of a high order.
          Robots are machines, pure and simple.

          1. Del

            AOC has it right, destroy the police robot dogs. Robots are job destroyers and therefore any robot on a sidewalk is fair game to be robbed, vandalized, or at best, flipped over like a turtle.

            They belong in the street. I will smash and mess up any autonomous robot I come across on a public sidewalk I have to share it with, and I encourage you to as well.

            LiDAR has safety issues that manufacturers typically avoid discussing, for example:


            -multiple autonomous vehicles in proximity, in which case laser energy can sum (in no predictable manner) and nearby pedestrians may receive higher amounts than safety standards specify for the single-beam case

            -spinning/scanning mechanism stops working (mechanical malfunction, accident, etc) and laser energy remains focused on unfortunate pedestrians who happen to be staring right at it

            1550 nm Lasers will help, as will CWFM solid-state LiDARs. But that’s the future, and in the mean time I don’t see transportation authorities requiring autonomous vehicles to display a light bar or other indicator giving pedestrians and other drivers the ability to know who is shining lasers and who is not. Getting it right will take many years and I have no doubt there will be some instances of collateral eye damage.

      2. Baldanders

        And that’s why we will have robot crossing guards, to prevent humans abusing robot pedestrians. Anyone have PKD’s “Progeny” come to mind with this one? The protagonist has a robot yell at him to pay attention while he is on a crosswalk.

        I highly recommend “Progeny” for anyone who is skeptical about AI as a guiding force for society. The last lines are particularly chilling. “I know exactly what you mean….”

        1. ambrit

          PKD was definitely “Doing the Time Warp.”
          What is ‘funny’ in that ‘watching the car crash’ way is that PKD, admittedly more than a bit paranoid, looks to have been the most clear sighted prognosticator of his future world.
          Always assume the worst and then take a step further out.

    2. Lambert Strether

      > Sidewalk robots get legal rights as “pedestrians” Axios

      Next, robot car developers get immunity, maybe like implied consent (“You knew the roads were full of robot cars, so why did you drive there?”

  6. Pat

    I talked to a very Democratic pro union women’s rights person the other day. While they are not as politically active as others in their family they are not as unaware as many because of their family. Although some vaccine misinformation disturbed me, they believe if they are vaccinated it will mean they can travel more freely as they care for a disabled family member with major health issues not understanding the limitations of the current vaccines, they also are willing to give Cuomo a pass.

    That was a wake up for me, they know Cuomo is a corrupt jerk and yet they honestly believe he did a good job over the last year and we should all give him a break, all the pink hats they knitted aside. I have made jokes that no one should relax about Cuomo until he has clearly burst into flames after being beheaded with a yew stake in his heart. He has as many lives as the Clintons. And clearly even people who should know better still believe the media fostered bull shit that he was competent and comforting during a crisis.

    I wish I was wrong, but it will take more than another accusation to stake this vampire. There may even be a fourth way forward that Ross Barkan has not considered, similar to the Clintons, he will retire and become a power broker king maker in NY. Media and billionaires will still listen to him regarding political candidates and policies. He will be a spoiler. And will have even more book deals.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      This is why TV is so dangerous. Cuomo did nothing good over the past year, but he was a TV man. TV can’t be bad. It’s how Obama got away with being an awful person everyday. He seemed nice on TV.

      1. Carolinian

        Yep. And of course without TV Donald Trump would never have gotten within miles of the presidency.

        I think one reason some of us liked Tulsi is because she was that rare thing–telegenic but not a phony (IMO at least). Naturally such a candidacy couldn’t be allowed to take off and she was constantly hectored by the MSM.

    2. tegnost

      The only thing that will make people in general blame dems for lameness will be when the economy crashes and their asset values fall precipitously. Unforgivable sin that.

      1. Geo

        I’ve called that the Madoff Effect for years. Bernie Madoff would have never gotten in trouble if he’d played nice and only scammed people beneath him on the social ladder. But, he scammed people above him and that was his demise. Same for the college bribe scandal. The fact they took spots from other privileged kids is what got them in trouble.

        Just as comedy is best when it punches up, crime only works when it punches down.

  7. timbers


    One reason I became disillusioned with progressives is because the progressive infrastructure cultivated and trained Kyrsten Sinema, and candidates like her, for years. Sinema in the mid-2000s was a bisexual punk cheerleader and organizer against Bush. Lifestyle branding.


    Economic issues, economic class warfare issues, have been erased from most MSN discourse for reasons we all know.

    But the social justice issues are still shallow and framed to benefit the establishment. Try mentioning to your Dem FB friends, or pre Covid at a social gathering that Obama along with Bush ended the lives of millions of brown folk and that could plausibly make each of them squarely in the running for the mostest un-woke-ed-est of us all even maybe more than Trump.

    There’s a reason my blue friends un friended me on FB before I left it.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Here in Tucson, Sinema has never been that popular. She’s sort of like the Democratic equivalent of John McCain, who was never well liked in this part of the state.

      1. Wukchumni

        My B-I-L in Tucson swings so far right a minor breeze might knock him over, and a few years ago held a dinner for McSally in their home, and when hairy financial times met McSally a year later and she declared ‘let them not eat cake or any other food, send the money you would’ve spent it on to me for my campaign instead!’ I think Arizona righty tighty gawdalmighty politics which is 5150 (not the temperature-although it seems like that in August) terra firma already, might have reached it’s zenith in sheer nuttiness.

          1. JBird4049

            IIRC, the John Birch Society was founded in Southern California. The political crazy is s t r o n g in the Sun Belt and its adjacent; maybe that is because you can be an obstreperous and foolish in those parts of the country and get away with it. Almost never rains or has any big storms and if you have the money, it can be like paradise.

            I am guessing that the floods, hurricanes, blizzards, and tornadoes probably make it more obvious that being obstreperous fool is unwise. I wonder what will the hard right, libertarians say with the Big One finally hits California? Especially the ones in California.

      2. Dr. John Carpenter

        Hasn’t she claimed her thumbs down stunt was just aping a move McCain made? It’s all starting to make sense now. Lol

        1. GF

          Besides that stunt from McCain, his legacy vote some say, his backing of the Rio Tinto Ltd. mine land exchange east of Phoenix ( was all for naught as the Biden administration reversed Trump’s decision to proceed:

          I’m actually surprised Trump let it proceed as he was no fan of John – not at my funeral – McCain.

          After a proposed lengthy new review, the plan could still move forward.

  8. NotTimothyGeithner

    I’m really surprised by Sinema. Does she not know she will have a hard time finding people willing to go to brunch with her even after widespread vaccine adoption? Clearly she has an attitude where most of her meals include mystery ingredients, but would you really want to risk being in the Sinema party?

    1. Michael Ismoe

      She thinks she is John McCain. The difference is that McCain was popular. If the AZ GOP wasn’t batshit crazy she would be in trouble in 2024 but she’ll probably slide through re-election

      1. Arizona Slim

        Actually, there are quite a few younger Democrats who’d be more than able to take her on in a primary. I’m thinking of people like Billy Kovacs, Andres Cano, Victoria Steele, and, what the heck, how about the mayor of Phoenix, Kate Gallego.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          “Heck, I want to go to brunch again too, but I want to the workers to have a living wage”.

          I know, but the ads write themselves.

        2. neo-realist

          Will gladly send money to support anybody who primaries her.

          It might be an over generalization to say that progressive infrastructure is to blame for one faux progressive going to the blue dog side. I mean Ro Khanna, Katie Porter, Marie Newman, Ilhan Omar ; are they not successful. I tend to think the bigger problem is the DNC failing to recruit and groom a good bench except those individuals that will suck up to the big donors.

    2. The Rev Kev

      So I was reading her Wikipedia page and the overwhelming impression that I get is that she is another Meghan Markle. She uses whoever or whatever is convenient at the time and when they outlive their usefulness, she drops them and then moves on. She started in the Greens party and then moved on to become a Democrat but in views, she is moving in the direction of becoming a de-facto Republican. I suspect that when the Democrats need a few of their number to cross the aisles to vote with Republicans to defeat a bill that they are supposed to be supporting, she will be one of those nominated to do so-

      1. Kurt Sperry

        I looked up her Wiki bio too. This stood out for me-

        Early political involvement
        Sinema began her political career in the Arizona Green Party before joining the Arizona Democratic Party in 2004.[28]

        In 2000, Sinema worked on Ralph Nader’s presidential campaign.[29] In 2001 and 2002, she ran for local elected offices as an independent and lost.[24] In 2002, The Arizona Republic published a letter from Sinema criticizing capitalism. “Until the average American realizes that capitalism damages her livelihood while augmenting the livelihoods of the wealthy, the Almighty Dollar will continue to rule”, she wrote.[30]

        Sinema had organized 15 antiwar rallies by the time the Iraq War began.[24] She also opposed the war in Afghanistan.[24] During a February 15, 2003 protest in Patriot’s Square Park in Phoenix, a group led by Sinema distributed flyers portraying a U.S. servicemember as a skeleton “inflicting ‘U.S. terror’ in Iraq and the Middle East”.[24] (A representative of Sinema has said that Sinema did not “‘approve or design'” the flyers.[31]) In a 2003 opinion piece, Sinema declared that Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush were “‘the real Saddam and Osama lovers'”.]

        I knew a Swedish academic who suddenly turned into a total RWNJ after a stroke. Maybe something similar at work here?

      2. Michael Sharkey

        Glenn Greenwald calls this “Villain Rotation”.

        Democrats pretending that they’re for something when they can’t accomplish it. Then when it becomes possible, they use different party people to prevent it, so no one individual gets the reputation for being obstructionist.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “Israel Updating Plans to Attack Iran”

    These plans have already leaked out onto the internet and they are impressive in size and the boldness of the invasion expeditionary forces. While the Israeli Fifth Fleet blocks Iran’s access to the Gulf, the Israeli 10th Mountain Division will cross the country’s western borders from Iraq while the Israeli 1st Infantry Division will invade from Afghanistan in the country’s east. The Israeli 82nd Airborne Division will then parachute into the center of the country on top of Tehran to seize the government. Cover will be provided by a combination of Israeli B-52s, B-2 Spirits and B-1B Lancers. The rest of the Israeli Defence Forces, meanwhile, will stay in Israel to make sandwiches for the expeditionary forces.

    1. km

      I’d be shocked if we even get a single sandwich for our efforts, or anything other than a demand for more more more!

    2. Jason

      The American policy should be American policy, and Israeli policy should stay Israeli policy.

      This is what the vast majority of citizens in this country always wanted and what the overwhelming majority of non-political actors in the State Dept always advised. To absolutely no avail, due to “domestic political considerations” and mass media control.

      Now that they’ve hollowed out this country and fortified their own, they have the audacity to say this. What’s the word? Chutzpah?

      Keep up the good work Alison Weir. My god, If Americans only Knew.

    3. Wukchumni

      The rest of the Israeli Defence Forces, meanwhile, will stay in Israel to make sandwiches for the expeditionary forces.

      I never ate a green eggs & ham sandwich I didn’t like, Uncle Sam-I-Am.

    4. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      The Israeli 1st Armored Division in support of 3rd Infantry Division will handle the Drones!

  10. dave

    Re: the Aeon piece on ECT, electro convulsive therapy.

    I agree that ECT is very scary and seems barbaric.

    But, it did save my life.

    In 2000, I was absolutely overwhelmed by a case of major depression. Every day was painful and relentless. Gnashing, distorting sadness and anxiety. I was unable to work and spent several hours a day sobbing and thinking about death.

    My psychiatrist has told me I was the most depressed person who wasn’t also psychotic she has ever seen.

    I became more and more desperate and antidepressants weren’t working. It takes several weeks to see if an antidepressant is starting to work. This is terrible news for someone who is barely hanging on.

    Coupled with only sleeping 3-4 hours a night and my situation became dire.

    I consented to ECT. Twice a week for a couple months, once a week for another couple.

    It is a massive reboot of one’s brain and I do have some memory loss and that 18 months of depression and recovery are still a bit foggy.

    It did work. Once the fog of the ECT lifted, I was no longer depressed. It worked.

    I have no doubt that I would have killed myself if not for ECT.

    We are making slow progress with psychiatric meds, but it’s still very early in that game. ECT can help for those who can’t wait.

    1. Unfinished

      Simon Winchester recounts his experience with mental illness and credits ECT with his recovery in his book The Man With The Electrified Brain.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        That verges on condescension. Exercise is effective ONLY for mild depression. Dave had major depression. Utterly different category.

        My paternal grandfather and my only uncle both suffered from severe depression. My uncle was physically active (hauled lobsters!) yet often had periods when he spent 22 hours a day in bed and could not muster the energy to talk to people. Tried every medication and med combo for depression. They either didn’t work at all or quit working in <6 months.

        Both my granfather and my uncle sought out electroshock.

        1. Terry Flynn

          I totally get the desire to try something different like electroshock so I’d never criticize your relatives.

          It’s so awful when you’re told “we’ve run out of options”. But the awful thing is that, depending on who you see, you may not have run out of options at all. I got onto an MAOI which made all the difference. I never seek to claim this is “wonderful” since you must accept a lot of side effects and life restrictions. But MAOIs work. The data is there over 50 years. It’s just that we’ve been “trained” to believe we can have our cake and eat it.

          1. JBird4049

            Each person and their brain is different. Even if ECT is the evil, there are certainly at least few individuals for which it is the last option.

            1. Ben Joseph

              It is most analogous to rebooting your desktop, not directly correcting the erroneous pathway, but breaking the loop pattern.

              If you ever get a chance, read the foreword to Dianetics. It is clear Hubbard held a grudge against an involuntary commitment, and to this day scientology supports this sort of anti-psychiatric ‘literature.’

          2. Katiebird

            I’ve seen the wonderful effect of MAOIs for someone close to me. Nothing else could touch his depression. But the MAOIs worked pretty quickly for him.

          3. Yves Smith Post author

            Please, no sweeping generalizations.

            Both my uncle and grandfather used MAOIs, with no success. Remember they were both old enough to be pre SSRIs, so they got them as an early line of treatment.

            The research says MOAIs are effective on 50% of the cases that resist other treatments. That’s clearly good but not a cure-all.

              1. Terry Flynn

                Yves’s comment was probably to me not you so I am the one who needed to tone things down a bit. I was tired and apologize. A better statement of my view is that MAOIs display markedly higher CHANCES of success but that doesn’t guarantee success per se.

                My MAOI Has “worked a lot less” since my suspected bout of covid. I haven’t discussed this with mental health professionals because they will start messing with treatment (yet again) and that is awful and a waste of time for me. I feel for people who’ve gone all the way “along the treatment path” ending with an MAOI and still are in trouble.

    2. AndrewJ

      How did you support yourself through all this? I ask as another sufferer of severe depression.

      1. dave

        My wife got me through it. She had a job that allowed some flexibility. We are frugal and eked out my illness just barely. I had pretty good health insurance and cobra.

        Our neighbors at the time checked in on me during the days when I had to be alone.

        I had extreme diurnal variation–mornings were the worst and by nighttime occasionally I would almost feel okay. I dreaded mornings more than anything I have dreaded in my life.

        I became exhausted waiting in vain for meds to kick in. After about 8 months of that I could no longer stand the wait and see of meds and went for the ECT.

        I hope you can stay with us. It’s not describable how dreadful major depression can be. You have my thoughts. Contact me if you would like.

      2. kareninca

        I have a relative who had a combination of OCD and extremely severe depression. He was very close to getting ECT, but didn’t because his psychiatrist told him that ECT entailed a real risk of memory loss. Not such a risk that a person with regular memory needs should worry, but this relative can’t afford to forget things due to his profession.

        Fortunately his psychiatrist had run a small clinical trial using dextroamphetamine for OCD, so that was tried. It worked for his OCD, and remarkably it worked for his depression, too. There are small relapses when extra meds have to be added, but overall it is a tremendous help. I’m not saying it would work for any particular person but it is another thing to look into.

    3. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      My Aunt had electric shock therapy in her 20s. She was the most wonderful human being ive ever known. Shes currently in hospice due to 40years of Lithium use :(

  11. Michael Ismoe

    therefore Israel’s secret spy agency should spend the next 20 years assassinating the ICC prosecutor and judges – in an “elegant” manner, without leaving trace,,,

    Question: Is this the same “super secret Israeli spy agency” that visited Jeffrey Epstein in his jail cell?

    1. lordkoos

      Say, whatever happened to Epstein’s gal-pal anyway? Haven’t heard much about her recently.

  12. cnchal

    > The Dark Side of Bill Gates’s Climate Techno-Optimism New Republic (resilc). Of course he has to be an optimist. Computers eat a lot of power

    They sure do, but less than a tenth of the story. Making the chips used in the computers dwarfs the lifetime power consumption of that chip, but that is completely ignored in tech wasteland.

    A link was left on one of the posts the other day. Thank you to who that was.

    It is bit old, from 2009, but the priciples are even more relevant today, considering how much digital garbage we are drowning in.

    The power consumption of our high-tech machines and devices is hugely underestimated.

    When we talk about energy consumption, all attention goes to the electricity use of a device or a machine while in operation. A 30 watt laptop is considered more energy efficient than a 300 watt refrigerator. This may sound logical, but this kind of comparisons does not make much sense if you don’t also consider the energy that was required to manufacture the devices you compare. This is especially true for high-tech products, which are produced by means of extremely material- and energy-intensive manufacturing processes. How much energy do our high-tech gadgets really consume?
    * * *
    The 180 watt laptop

    While these reports are in themselves reason for concern, they hugely underestimate the energy use of electronic equipment. To start with, electricity consumption does not equal energy consumption. In the US, utility stations have an average efficiency of about 35 percent. If a laptop is said to consume 60 watt-hours of electricity, it consumes almost three times as much energy (around 180 watt-hour, or 648 kilojoules).

    So, let’s start by multiplying all figures by 3 and we get a more realistic image of the energy consumption of our electronic equipment. Another thing that is too easily forgotten, is the energy use of the infrastructure that supports many technologies; most notably the mobile phone network and the internet (which consists of server farms, routers, switches, optical equipment and the like).

    Is that true? Lets read what the EIA has to say.

    In 2019, U.S. utility-scale generation facilities consumed 38 quadrillion British thermal units (quads) of energy to provide 14 quads of electricity. Most of the difference between these values was lost as an inherent result of the energy conversion process. The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) U.S. electricity flow diagram visualizes U.S. electricity flow from energy sources consumed to generate electricity and electricity net imports to disposition (conversion and other losses, plant use, and end-use consumption).

    Yes, it is true. Now back to the first link.

    Embodied energy

    Most important, however, is the energy required to manufacture all this electronic equipment (both network and, especially, consumer appliances). The energy used to produce electronic gadgets is considerably higher than the energy used during their operation. For most of the 20th century, this was different; manufacturing methods were not so energy-intensive.

    An old-fashioned car uses many times more energy during its lifetime (burning gasoline) than during its manufacture. The same goes for a refrigerator or the typical incandescent light bulb: the energy required to manufacture the product pales into insignificance when compared to the energy used during its operation.

    Advanced digital technology has turned this relationship upside down. A handful of microchips can have as much embodied energy as a car. And since digital technology has brought about a plethora of new products, and has also infiltrated almost all existing products, this change has vast consequences. Present-day cars and since long existing analogue devices are now full of microprocessors. Semiconductors (which form the energy-intensive basis of microchips) have also found their applications in ecotech products like solar panels and LEDs.

    Remember, this was written in 2009. Today’s cars are loaded to the gills with electronic crapola, almost none of it useful for actually driving the car. It would not surprise me that the embodied energy in a late model car exceeds the energy used to drive around for years, and as soon as a chip or two go bad the car is scrap. A total waste of energy and resources that people are sucked into buying after drinking gallons of Bernays sauce.

    In this rigged game the only move is to go on strike. No new car in my future, (they are gabage, all of them whether a Rolls, BMW or Kia – peak car design and making happened decades ago) and as little digital crapola as possible.

    An iPhone is an energy hog before it is made. By the time it gets into your sweaty palms it has gluttonously consumed so much energy that the energy consumed during your use is a rounding error.

    1. Pookah Harvey

      Cambridge researchers recently determined that Bitcoin miners are currently using 121 terawatt-hours per year. This is larger usage than all but 30 countries. It surpasses the entire energy used by the Netherlands. All of that usage is exclusively through banks of computers. Your comment makes clear the amount of energy to produce those is astronomical. And the expenditure of all that energy produces…what?

    2. Rod

      Thanks for going back to square one truth.

      The need for continuous ‘Teach Ins’ is worldwide.

    3. Lee

      And here I’ve been thinking that my refusal to replace my 22 year old gas hog is because I’m a cheap bastard. Now I can rightly claim that it’s the greener option. Also worth mentioning : the only time my jalopy came close to getting me killed was due to a failure of one of its very few digital components that caused it to periodically stall for no mechanical reason while driving at speed.

    4. Kris

      So glad to see a link to notechmagazine. Highly recommend it and its sister site, (I have no affiliation to either). The author, Kris De Decker, not only powers his website with a solar panel he attached to the outside of his apartment building, but creted a version of the website configured to use the lowest energy possible (low refresh rate, small image size, other tweaks beyond my knowledge). Recent articles at lowtech cover the sustainability of high-tech health care and vertical farming, while topics at notech include nettles as a clothing fiber and the efficiency of a scythe.

    5. tegnost

      Hmm…is peak car going to be the late ’80’s honda, probably not, those damn timing belts, I’ll go with ’90’s toyotas but haven’t bought a car in quite a while…anyone who knows cars care to hold forth?
      Great comment thanks

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        ’04 Dodge pickup, here…i’ll drive it right into the ground.
        and then consider whether the time is right…at last…to get the buckboard and mule i’ve been threatening.
        the problem, is that all of the old, pre-chip vehicles are so high-dollar…as if they’re all collector’s items.
        and parts, of course.
        i also worry about such dependable things being one day soon outlawed altogether.
        I’d love to have an electric truck…on principal…but i could in no way afford one, even if there were one that could do what i do with my old beater.(haul manure, mostly…and trash—to and from the dump—and roam around on the “mountain”, with almost vertical rock “roads”)

        1. WobblyTelomeres

          At one time, I was intent on converting a ’63 Ford pickup to electric. Found an outfit in Oregon that made bellhousings and motor mounts that would allow one to pull the ICE (283 in my case) and bolt up an electric motor, using the existing 3 speed manual transmission, etc. I think they recommended forklift motors and batteries. Been 20 years, but they may still be plugging away. Would recommend boxing in the frame if you attempt it.

    6. Zamfir

      Be careful with this quote:

      A handful of microchips can have as much embodied energy as a car

      After some googling, it seems that the embedded energy in car is about 70 GJ, which is about 10 processed wafers of semiconductors, which is a few hundred gram. As an order of magnitude, that’s indeed a handful.

      But that handful of unpackaged ICs is not a small amount! 10 wafers is enough for something like 10,000 gigabyte of dram, or 100s of thousands of microcontrollers. A modern car may be loaded with electronics, but nowhere near 10 wafers worth of the stuff… That handful is enough die area for hundreds or even thousands of cars.

    7. LifelongLib

      Yup, remember a study from several years ago that said the best way to minimize the environmental impact of your computing is to use your current computer for as long as possible. The cost in energy and material to build a new computer (and dispose of the old one) dwarfs the savings in energy use the new one might have.

  13. LaRuse

    Fauci predicts a spike in COVID. He’s probably right.
    My Mother in Law (COVID survivor from last summer) got her first vax about 2 weeks ago. Her second is scheduled for next week. She decided that since she was partially vaxxed, it was time to go see her remaining sisters in Eastern NC. I get it – she is 81, they are only a little younger and I think most of them are FULLY vaxxed (North Carolina seems to be rolling out more smoothly than Virginia).
    Well, once the three sisters all got together, they decided it would be awesome to travel together in a single car to a senior living facility and get ALL the spread out North Carolina family together in one place in the Community Room of a nursing home.
    I am talking 20-25 people, not all of whom are vaxxed, all hugging, crying, unmasked. In a [family blog] nursing home.
    When MiL got home on Thursday, I called and asked for her grocery list (since I am still shopping for her to … haha … limit how much exposure she gets out in the world) and explained that since she had immersed herself into a superspreading event and since my household is still totally unvaxxed (though my 66 year old mom gets her first on Thursday), I would be leaving her groceries on her porch on Sunday and not coming in the house.
    She simply cannot understand the threat she poses – and when I tried explaining the limits of her vaccine and how she is only partially protected anyway, she followed up with “Well, I’ve already had it anyway so I am fine!”
    She cannot understand why we feel like the impromptu family reunion in a nursing home is at a minimum wildly selfish, and maybe even borderline criminally negligent. I cannot believe the senior facility let them all in the building together.
    It’s anecdotal, but I have to believe my in-laws are not the only insane people running around believing that COVID is a thing of the past now.

    1. Carla

      Really scary. We know someone who is a physical therapist and got both doses of the Vax. She and an older immune-compromised relative who has also been Vaxxed, got together with another relative of theirs, a nurse (also Vaxxed), who flew into town to visit for a weekend, and they all went out to a RESTAURANT. About which they are happily bragging.

      But really, when the WHO and the CDC won’t even emphasize the importance of ventilation, and act as if very low-risk outdoor socializing is just as dangerous as high-risk indoor socializing, what the (family blog) can we expect?

      It’s very difficult not to despair.

    2. Pat

      No they are ignorant, by design, and do not know that these vaccines are not the equivalent of the polio or the small pox vaccine. There has been a concerted effort to open up the world again and inconvenient details have been ignored or hand waved away in the media. People think they are protected and cannot get the disease and that means they cannot spread the disease. The vaccine makes it all okay. Just as with politics and foreign policy and so much of what goes on in this world it isn’t until you dig deeper do you get the big picture. Our press and our leaders do not do comprehensive overviews any more. It gets in their way.

      This ignorance coupled with the truly human need for contact is going to come back to bite us and the people running this.

      1. JBird4049

        Anti-vaxxers are usually just foolish people, but considering the corruption, incompetence, and lies from all parts of our society, including medical and scientific, they are not deluded in being concerned.

        The manufacturers have no liabilities, then there is the joy of our “healthcare” system (or as one customer service rep once said to me, “the healthcare denial system”) and finally joke of our unemployment system especially in Red states. The vaccines are probably safe and they are needed, but why shouldn’t some Americans be concerned?

        If there had been a media campaign to explain the benefits, risks, and possible complications from the various vaccines from the beginning, any future bad news from the vaccines would be limited by the honesty. And they have not. It is the lying that really makes people angry. Some past vaccines had real risk, but the risk from dying from the disease was much higher. People knew the situation. Today, it’s all happy, happy, joy, joy. Rainbows and unicorns all the way.

        Here take the vaccine and if you die or get ill, so sad, so sorry, goodbye. But if you do not take the vaccine, your death is more likely to happen anyway, or worse, you could kill someone else.

        Great country and civilization we have right now. Fudge.

    3. Dr. John Carpenter

      I had a related conversation with my sister last night, who is a healthcare worker and has already had her vaccine. I am the only member of the family who hasn’t been eligible yet. My sister seems to think there will be a big family get together after I get mine. I don’t bother arguing with her on stuff like this, it’s just not worth it. But I have to wonder how she could be in the medical field and still under the impression that the vaccine was a “get out of jail free” card for Covid.

      1. Wukchumni

        We had our family Zoom jam and my mom got her 2nd shot a few days ago, and she’d been largely confined to her gilded cage in the assisted living place since the pandemic started in earnest here a year ago, with all meals delivered to her by staff from the restaurant within the facility, but starting this weekend they’re opening the restaurant up (all residents have had their 2 vaccine shots) with only 2 people per table @ 6 feet apart.

        I’m glad in a way, as mealtime there has always great for the residents chewing the fat and socializing, and as far as risk goes, with her being on the cusp of 96, it certainly comes with the territory, Covid or not.

        I’m sure i’d feel different about it if she was my age, ha!

        1. Lambert Strether

          > @ 6 feet apart.

          Physical distance is irrelevant with aerosol transmission, since the aerosol fills the space, like cigarette smoke or perfume.

          How’s the ventilation?

      2. PlutoniumKun

        I’ve heard similar comments here from medics in my family. There are a lot of people I know (several of whom should know better) who are already planning their post-vaccine party and holiday.

        I find it very disturbing that in the whole rush to vaccinate, there seems little analysis of how behavioural changes could seriously undo all the good work, especially if some nastier variants get loose.

    4. lordkoos

      The CDC has now said that people who have been vaccinated can gather together in small groups, and there is plenty of room for people to misinterpret that information.

      Our county has been doing an excellent job vaccinating people, even making the national news for not wasting a single dose. They now have 100,000 people signed up for the shots — this although the population of the entire county is only 50,000. The vaccine is hard enough to get in places like Seattle that people are signing up here and willing to drive 100 miles to get it.

    5. cocomaan

      It’s simple, to me: lots of extroverts have been made uncomfortable by the pandemic. They’re insisting that life return to normal-operating as soon as possible, because they are in daily, psychic pain. Without the opportunity to run their mouth, they despair.

      The normal involves extrovert-dominated industries and offices and so on.

      I know one guy, a major extrovert, who quit his job when it went to work from home, simply because he was so miserable. He’s also a person who does little actual work, seeing the workplace as a major social hour. I wonder how he’s doing.

      1. Wukchumni

        Never been a better time to be an outdoorsy introvert though, it feels as if its the same as it ever was in a world bent on change…

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          same here.
          youngest has been back in person at high school for a week…and he just surprised me and said he didn’t press to go watch the tennis tourney today because he’s tired of people…they’re exhausting.
          after a week,lol.
          he hadn’t made the connection, but the light came on when i reminded him of all the fun that was made of me, pre-pandemic, for being a hermit who only goes to town once a week, at best.

          this last year is gonna leave a mark on everybody, in one way or another.
          expect the next several months to have stories in the Atlantic or Buzzfeed or wapo about people finally meeting with friends after a year away and learning that they really didn’t like each other after all.

          1. The Rev Kev

            You know Amf, in your last paragraph lay a great novel or film based on that happening. Being stuck at home has also led to another effect for a lot of people – time to get off the treadmill and to actually think.

            1. Amfortas the hippie

              oh, aye!
              my brother and his wife and 2 daughters live in upscale houston suburbia…and they were going nuts after a week…without school, or the Y, or the myriad “activities” they had been involved in…no one telling them what to do, and they went mad.
              on the other hand, on a given day I’d sense the vibe around here, and roust them out and put them to work…be self directed, or i will direct you! lol.
              i also encouraged wandering…just strike off and go look at things.(
              That’s pretty much how i grew up…mostly to avoid my mom…off in the woods, under a tree with a book.
              so in that sense, there are silver linings to all this…my bunch was able to just stop and breathe…and, yes, to think…really think.
              (we’ve had the best discourse ever in this last year)
              and to slow the hell down and remember/learn what it means to be a human.

              of course, there’s a lot of pent up afoot, too…eldest is off to work with cousin in Houston next week…cleanup and repair from Ice Age Event…and you can just look at him and tell he’s more than ready to run off…vibratory,lol.

          2. Wukchumni

            It has been interesting watching others who never really realized there is an outdoors component to life, and have latched onto some semblance of one.

            Before Covid hiking & backpacking was already making great strides with lots of new peeps on the trail, and i’m not one of those people who doesn’t want to share the wilderness, there’s plenty of room for everybody.

            Besides, we need regular joes & karens to know what is truly worth fighting for as far as keeping things natural as they have been for time immemorial. If you have no idea what is entailed you probably wouldn’t care all that much, but Mother Nature has a way of nurturing those into her way of thinking if only you give her the chance.

            As far as I can tell, we have really no politicians on the national level interested enough in the wilderness, as there is no money in it, and i’d like to keep it that way, albeit with a bright 30 something year old in Congress or the Senate championing the great outdoors.

            Its hard to be passionate about something if you’ve never done it, and lots of young adults are going out in the wild for the very first time in their lives, setting the hook.

          3. Lambert Strether

            > this last year is gonna leave a mark on everybody, in one way or another.

            I’ve been thinking hard about this, and I don’t have an answer. 500,000 deaths is an enormous number and we’re still not done. 620,000 Americans died in the Civil War; 886,000 British soldiers in the Civil War. That’s a lot of death to process. (Readers can, I am sure, come up with better examples, but for Agatha Christie fans, this explains the constant background noise of spiritualism in Christie’s plots; women of Christie’s age and class trying to get in touch with the dead…. Same is true with Dorothy Sayers).

            On the bright side, the 500,000 doubtless includes a lot of inheritances, which given the timing, should give the economy something of a tailwind this year (assuming the medical bills didn’t eat everything up).

            1. PlutoniumKun

              One used today by Andrew Rawnsley, political editor of the Observer, is that twice the number of British have died in Covid as died in the Blitz. And yet, astonishingly, the Tories may well get away with it.

              The vaccine bounce has two lessons for Labour and its leader. One is that Boris Johnson is a lucky chancer. They can’t do a great deal about that. The other lesson is that Labour needs to become much more compelling as storytellers. This is entirely in their own hands.

      2. Irrational

        I am an introvert, I am fed up with this pandemic and not being able to see people. Just saying… I am not doing stupid things though, but I do long to see something other than my bedroom, my living room and my home office.
        Also regarding rest of the exchange above: people have been told the vaccine is the way to fix it all and go back to normal. Can you blame them?

        1. PlutoniumKun

          I’d agree that its not a simple extrovert vs introvert question. I was talking about this to one close friend, an unambiguously introverted young woman. She is really struggling, she misses her family and close friends in her home country and is desperate to just go travel, to do something different. But her closest friend is the extrovert of the pair, but seems quite content, she has developed a routine that seems to suit her. She misses her favourite pub, but seems happy enough with her long zoom chats with friends around the world every day and long walks and enjoys not going to the office.

          1. Lambert Strether

            > seems happy enough with her long zoom chats with friends around the world every day

            It would be a fascinating discovery if the energy extracted by extroverts from human interaction can take the digital form of an image (but the energy invested by introverts requires a physical presence). That would explain why Work From Home has not been a disaster from the standpoint of office function (loss of serendipity aside).

            For myself, as an introvert, I have missed the extremely weak ties of working in a coffee shop: I have always preferred to be alone, but in the midst of people. Being alone with only the four walls is really stressful for me.

            1. PlutoniumKun

              I’m similar – what I miss the most is the ‘weak’ connection of sitting in a coffee shop or bar and reading with people around me, and maybe having a little chat with the bar and waiting staff. I was really sad last week to see that my favourite little cafe has closed – I”m feeling a little guilty about it as the lovely young Polish woman who owned it had told me how important people buying takeout coffee was to keep her business ticking over – I feel guilty as I hate takeout coffee so I don’t contribute much to her business since the shut down.

              I also miss the morning coffee break chats with my colleagues, and I wonder how much work productivity is lost from not finding things out casually in those conversations. I lost many hours of work this week from a minor IT issue which I couldn’t get sorted because… well, I’m remote.

              The latest iteration of zoom chats can be fine – I’ve a regular weekly online pub with friends in England – while I’m a strong introvert i still enjoy pub nights, and while its no replacement for a buzzing, friendly bar, they can be surprisingly good fun. Interestingly, on two occasions on zoom chats two friends opened up to everyone with some very deeply personal information about personal struggles. I strongly suspect that would not have happened in a regular pub evening.

            2. Amfortas the hippie

              i’ve been kinda surprised how i miss those weak ties…feedstore symposia, especially, even though that hasn’t really been happening even before the pandemic resurgence of hyperpartisan teams.
              i’ve had eldest’s pod of buddies and buddettes…some working for me, usually the whole lot of them randomly picking my night to drink at the bar to show up,lol…and i met and befriended the inheritors of “The Mountain” this year, and thereby gained access back there (after maybe 15 years of post=probate court nonsense after the owner died). with them, i feel more like a feature of the place…a fixture, or a zoo animal…so, almost perfect,lol…strokes me ego to be somebody’s Bombadil.

      3. Lambert Strether

        > It’s simple, to me: lots of extroverts have been made uncomfortable by the pandemic. They’re insisting that life return to normal-operating as soon as possible, because they are in daily, psychic pain. Without the opportunity to run their mouth, they despair.

        I’m sure that’s part of it.

    6. wilroncanada

      People seem to listen to just a fraction of the information that is given. Prevailing wisdom now seems to indicate that the dose is best effective after about 3 weeks. Led by British Columbia, Canada is now waiting up to 4 months between doses. That way more people can be protected as far as the effectiveness of those doses goes. Without vaccination this is what you can get:

      A pub in a Vancouver suburb decided to hold a trivia night, against health regulations. One person arrived with asymptomatic infection. Five left infected and spread the virus to families, co-workers, one daycare, one school and various other friends. Contact tracing was able to track all of it, numbering close to 200 within a couple of weeks.

  14. The Rev Kev

    “You don’t have to be a sociopath”

    ‘Łobaczewski coined another term, “pathocracy”, for a form of government in which individuals with personality disorders – particularly “Anti-Social Personality Disorder” (ASPD), or sociopathy – tend to occupy key positions.’

    He may have a point. When I was reading “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” by William L. Shirer, it was noteworthy how many of the people that achieved power in both the Party and eventually Government were basically gutter scum. People that should have lived and died in obscurity with intervals in prisons somehow managed to catapult themselves into the highest ranks of the government. And we all know the results.

  15. Carla

    Oh, boy — oh, boy! If this was linked on NC, I missed it:

    Katie Porter takes on big oil:

    There are only two Congress members that I ever donate to, and neither is my own. One is Pramila Jayapal, because she is the primary sponsor of my two favorite bills: HR-1384 (M4A), and HJR-48 (Constitutional amendment ending corporate personhood and money as speech). The other is Katie Porter, because she is Katie Porter.

  16. Wukchumni
    This winter reminds me of the least year of the 2012-16 drought when we got oh so little snow in the winter of 2014-15, that we were able to hike up to Alta Peak in late January where there would have normally been 5-10 feet of snow @ 11,204 feet, but we only encountered small patches here & there.

    In an odd weather year though for the country, don’t count out California yet as there is precedence of late powerful storms such as the one from April 19-23 1880 that dumped close to 16 feet of snow @ 7,500 feet @ Norden near Donner Pass!,April%2020%2D23%2C%201880.&text=Its%20monthly%20total%20of%2010.06,in%2024%20hours%20at%20Mt.

    1880 was a damned interesting year for extreme weather on the west coast, here’s another amazing event from that year:

    The Great Gale of 1880 was an extremely intense extratropical cyclone (possibly deeper than 955 millibars (mb) or 28.20″) that impacted the Northwest United States on January 9, 1880. Gusts of an estimated 138 mph. hit the northwest coast. Buildings, barns, and fences were destroyed. The storm blew a three-masted schooner onto the beach at Coos Bay where it broke in two.

    1. lordkoos

      We received huge amounts of snow here in the WA Cascades this winter — over 400 inches so far on Snoqualmie pass (which has the lowest elevation of all the mountain passes), most of it falling since the new year. So even though the eastern part of the the county and state are still technically in a near-drought, there will be plenty of irrigation water, thankfully.

    1. Kurt Sperry

      I knew someone, now passed on, who thought that EST had saved his life. He playfully liked to call himself “Sparky”.

    2. lordkoos

      Some friends of mine had rented a huge old house in Seattle back in the 1980s. In the basement they discovered an ancient portable electroshock machine that could be rolled around on wheels. Apparently the elderly woman who had once owned the house had used it. It looked scary as hell with giant Bakelite knobs and VU meters — I’d have to feel pretty desperate to hook myself up to that.

        1. Carolinian

          Ah the good old days.

          Today’s LAT says the mouse land likely to reopen April 1st with 15 percent capacity.

  17. semiconscious

    re: Reopening US Schools is Complicated MIT Technology Review

    well, fortunately, online school, on the other hand, is both cheap & easy:

    The teacher asks the children to identify the parts of the Earth. On the count of 5, they must type in their answers on the group chat. Simon waits until a few children have entered their answers, then he copies what they wrote. As most do.

    Despite this, several children still give the wrong answers. Comments in the group chat read ‘miss wot is this’ and ‘miss i dont now’. One child in the group writes ‘PLZ I DONT LIKE THIS’ over and over again throughout the lesson.

    The teacher asks if anyone needs things explained. She will try to do a direct call to speak to them over Microsoft Teams, she says. Simon, confused by the diagram, types: ‘Please me Miss’. More than half the class type the same request. Ten children are confused and need her help, but she has time to talk to only one of them. Simon, with the rest of the children, is put on mute, and the lesson is paused, as they wait for the unseen teacher to speak to the unseen child. He stops paying attention.

    oh, to be young again… not…

    1. lordkoos

      The pandemic has been extremely difficult for kids and parents (I’m so glad I have no children). I have a friend in NYC whose 15 yo son, a talented and intelligent kid, has threatened suicide. He is very isolated, spends all his time playing computer games and visiting dubious sites and chat rooms. I hope we don’t have some kind of lost generation as a part of this experience.

      1. cocomaan

        A lot of teachers in primary schools are telling me that the skill slippage going on isn’t to be measured in a single year (March to March), but multiple years.

        Kids have been the real losers in the pandemic. Especially poor children. We’ll be seeing the downstream effects of this for many years.

      2. Amfortas the hippie

        eldest got discouraged and disillusioned with online college real quick…finished his first semester and went to work, instead.
        youngest had great difficulty with being an online high school freshman…we had to be on top of him when he was doing the lessons…but otherwise, we’ve kept them busy around here…it’s a farm, after all,lol.
        and the first construction project begun after the pandemic started was building the bar…priority, especially for eldest, and his small pod of buddies and buddettes…all of whom have at risk folks at home like my cancer wife…and who, therefore, were ready and willing to do the Protocols.
        the bar has paid for itself over and over, just by giving them a place to be.
        not a 1:1 replacement for freshman year at college, but still.
        (it’s a shed and a porch, with a fire pit, a barbque pit, a fridge and a cowboy pool, and counts, for all intents and purposes as “outside”..4 couches and 2 hammocks for staying…so long as it wasn’t gonna be too cold, or rain…and kept them right here, on the farm, rather than hither and yon.)

        1. Lambert Strether

          > it’s a shed and a porch, with a fire pit, a barbque pit, a fridge and a cowboy pool, and counts, for all intents and purposes as “outside”..4 couches and 2 hammocks for staying


      3. Lambert Strether

        > I hope we don’t have some kind of lost generation as a part of this experience.

        I’m concerned that between teachers quitting and students left behind and idpol, we’re going to lose public education. This after losing public health.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          “losing” pub-ed is what both parties have been pursuing for some time…Blackrocks of the world have been salivating at all those piles of cash.
          My eldest, when he was still a sophomore, wanted to become a coach and history teacher…and i was regarded by all and sundry as a dour bump on a log sourpuss for discouraging this…at least without a backup, like basic electrical knowledge, or taking emt classes.
          looks perfectly obvious to me…especially under Obama…that the bipartisan trend is towards making teachers into walmart “associates” and schools into a privilege, rather than a right.
          but somehow, everyone in my circles couldn’t fathom this,lol.
          Arne Duncan is even now lauded by my mother…”he’s so handsome…”,lol

          and here’s a couple of things I’ve come across:

          (it was the weirdos and freaks who came down out of the trees onto the growing savanna to see if they could eat the marrow in that there carcass.)

          and Pete Peterson is some kind of vampire…or Force Ghost(my new fave miniker for bad ideas that refuse to die):

          we really need a Piss On Their Graves Trail.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            Joint pain and coyotes had me up at 2:30(heard their demonic aria rather close, and in the direction of where the barbadoes are, so i had to walk over there in the cold and pee on a fence and shine a light around)
            one more offering for Links:
            “These experiments should be of great interest to those of us who want to see the creation of a wage-led growth economy. The ability of central banks to jump the barrier between the financial and real economies means that their power over the creation and limitation of credit can be used to “socialize finance”—as Minsky advocated for in his recovery of Keynes from the hydraulic Keynesians. Socializing the flow of investment in order to ensure broad prosperity will require institutionalization, perhaps separating the traditional function of central banks from a new kind of national or supranational investment authority designed to rationally distribute credit in ways that would neither be inflationary nor deflationary. ”

            also mentions ” (Lisa Adkins and Martijn Konings argue that the political economy of the United States is now a machine for stealing the opportunity of the young to preserve the livelihoods of the elderly.)” ….which is something i’ve long suspected, but couldn’t articulate without angering my elders.
            a long, detailed read about the history of OMG INflation! obsessives vetoing anything that could help the lower orders…and thus, fits right in with the Peterson related links, above.
            Kill all that with fire, and then bury the ashes deep under a compost pile…just to be sure.(add dry molasses as further encouragement to decomposition of these pernicious ideas)

    2. Phillip Cross

      I would have loved 6 months out of school, at any point in my educational journey. The more the merrier! It’s not the manhattan project they are working on in there.

      Having had a good look at the online syllabus when our son was doing it in 2020, it was clear that in-person school must be 90% filler and busy work.

      He could always complete all the day’s assignments to a high standard in 30 minutes or less, and then went on to enjoy himself for the other five plus hours he would have been forced to endure on site.

      1. Kurtismayfield

        Having had a good look at the online syllabus when our son was doing it in 2020, it was clear that in-person school must be 90% filler and busy work.

        We are not covering all the standards this year. I am getting to maybe 75% of the standards. And this year the kids are missing out of any hands on learning.. which is important in the sciences.

        It’s just not the same.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          which is important in the sciences.

          This isn’t minor problem. Its the K-2nd graders who are being disadvantaged when their little minds are like sponges. Kids with long illnesses in normal years take enormous amounts of work to get the kids back on track (lets ignore our educational standards and associated problems for a moment), but this year, basically every kid had a chronic illness. At least they’ll have each other, but this is the only silver lining.

          And the 5th graders aren’t preparing to be middle schoolers. The 8th graders aren’t preparing to be in high school.

          We bemoan the learning loss from Summer vacation without providing the resources and structures to go to year round school, and everything was just burned down.

  18. Jeremy Grimm

    >”Scientific communication in a post-truth society”:
    This brief, a Publication of the National Academy of Sciences [PNAS], claims in its introduction, to explore growing public — “distrust in the scientific enterprise and misperceptions about the knowledge it produces increasingly have[ing] less to do with problems of communication and more to do with the ready availability of misleading and biased information in the media, often inserted deliberately by unscrupulous actors with ulterior motives.” But the only real Science I recall mention of in this five-page review of the influences of news media, social media and the Internet, political polarization, and partisan bias … was a brief passing mention of Climate Science. The sciences that concerned the authors of this piece were political science and social science. There were mentions of the lies used to justify the invasion of Iraq, mentions of Trump. Then it went into some detail discussing the partisan divide in assessments of the NAS published report, commissioned by its Committee on National Statistics entitled “The Economic and Fiscal Consequences of Immigration”. However, I found no mention of research grants versus research contracts, no mention of the growing place of Corporate money in university research, no mention of the impacts on Science of the rush to enclose intellectual property, and no mention of some the questionable Corona related publications in what had been respected medical and scientific journals — begin with the ‘science’ of whether to wear face masks or not.

    The series of PNAS publications bemoaning the “gathering storm” afflicting STEM, and now this brief, leave me wondering about the reliability of information available from PNAS. The two authors of the brief in this link were a Stanford University political scientist and a Princeton University social scientist. Neither of these affiliations suggests even a slight degree of remove from a prominent faction of one side of the partisan divide. I suppose it is only a matter of time before we can expect scientific publications in PNAS by economic scientists once economics wises up.

    1. Dirk77

      That article was disappointing to me too. No mention that some scientists, or academic non-scientists such as economists, themselves may be responsible for some of their less than excellent reputation. And no mention of Russiagate is a tell. Just statements designed to tell the average elitist liberal academic scientist what they want to hear in their echo chamber. I mean I do have friends in science who are fully aware that people did have good reasons for voting for Trump (not that they voted for him though) but they keep a low profile. Next time, PNAS should contact Matt Taibbi if they want something more objective.

  19. juno mas

    RE: Sand Shortage

    Well, it may not be in easily obtained supply, but it hasn’t just disappeared. A thousand cubic yards moves past my coastal town every day (on average). While most construction aggregates (sand and gravel) comes from alluvial deposits, there is plenty of ocean sand moving in the littoral drift, Unfortunately, much of it along the SoCal Bight (coast) ends up in offshore marine canyons. San Diego spent millions to dredge an offshore canyon to replace sand on a tourist beach.

    Now, ocean sand is not the same as construction sand. Sand for concrete needs sharp edges, not seen in shoreline sand. But there is still plenty of sand in the world; it’s just moving to less accessible locations.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Yup, the problem is rarely a shortage of any given material, its when the supply and demand locations don’t match – especially with such a high volume, low value substance as sand. The problem can be compounded by contractual and regulatory issues – in some uses waste materials such as pulverised fuel ash from power stations can make a very good sand replacement, but for all sorts of reasons the construction industry tends to prefer virgin materials.

    2. Josef K

      China is depleting Cambodia of its riverine sand, along with the other catastrophes it’s currently wreaking on one of the world’s “poorest” countries (deforestation in the northeast and Cardomom mountains, and Ren National Park, turning Sihanoukville into a chaotic polluted mess, ruining the relatively pristine coastline and islands with “development,” and probably worst of all, drying up the Mekong and thus the Tonle Sap).

  20. Cuibono

    “Speedy variants power virus surge sweeping Europe ”
    Well looking at ourworldindata europe plots shows that to be rubbish. yes cases stopped falling

    1. Phillip Cross

      Czech republic and some other eastern bloc places seem to be having a right old time of it. Czechs are on track for ~3500 deaths per million, or 1 in 285 of them carking it by July!

      That would be equivalent to 1.25m dead in usa.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Thats interesting – the experience in Ireland, which is basically about 2-3 weeks behind the UK curve, is that the current rate of positives (about 1 per 100,000 per day) is proving stubbornly difficult to reduce. The hospitals here are ok, and the B117 variant which provided a booster shot to the January peak seems to have hit its peak. Epidemiologists here seem very worried that the new variants are making it very hard to get rates down to what are considered long term controllable (in Ireland, this is considered to be around 100 per day, or about one fifth of current rates). There is also a lot of worry about the Brazilian variant, its been detected in the UK and could well result in another surge. There is a big Brazilian population in the UK and Ireland of young people on short term work permits, invariably living in packed houses. If it gets into this population, its big trouble. Some cases were already intercepted at Dublin airport.

        The big problem here is – well, its young people. The evidence overwhelmingly is that current spread in Ireland is happening in house parties involving teenagers and 20 somethings. Everyone else is behaving quite well. But its very obvious in the past couple of weeks that people are beginning to relax, and thats not good news, the new variant is just too transmissible.

  21. Michael McK

    Am I foilly to fear that the Capital’s proposed quick reaction troops would be moved in as soon as a future Congress proposed cutting the Pentagon’s budget? Or might it be just to remind Congress that they have backup so not to worry about how hard they screw the people?

    1. Michael Ismoe

      Or – if you really want to be protected from that mob outside, what do you say to military performance bonuses effective immediately?

      Cruella DePelosi is not the brightest bulb in the marquee.

      1. JBird4049

        You are worried about the Praetorian Guard? Why? I’m sure that they will remain loyal. /s

  22. Susan the other

    Wolfgang Streeck’s pithy dish on Angela’s vaccine debacle becoming the EU’s debacle was amusing. He is telling everyone how absurd it is to not allow national governments to procure vaccine (I think) and giving us the tabloid version of EU imperial politics. Saying Angela used von der Leyen as her own personal scapegoat so she herself didn’t look like a vaccine nationalist, giving Germany Pfizer jabs before the rest of the EU. I’m curious as to why he did not mention the willingness of Russia to provide everyone with Sputnik-5 because if Angela is ducking anything it’s appearing to look like Germany might rely on Russia for anything whatsoever. That appearance is a big no-no, even though Germany has not yet been intimidated enough yet to give up Nordstream-2. Nor does he mention Astra-Zeneca, although he referred to the UK being more commercially competent than the EU.

  23. chuck roast

    On the recalcitrant Joe Manchin (D) WV

    It really would not be difficult to bring a malleable fellow like Manchin aboard on your particular agenda. Simply inform him that there is a hold-up in getting money from DOT to the State of WV for their current transportation projects. Sorry, can’t pay off the now due Garvey Grant Anticipation Bonds. We’re working on it. WV will have to float new munis to pay off the old munis. And the new Garvey munis you were planning for this year? I guess that the interest rate will skyrocket, but we are working on it…FHWA will try to get the money out as soon as possible. Oh, and the FTA is having an issue with transferring the monies for the new transit facility in Wheeling. And the Department of Interior; the DOI is having problems transferring cash also…

    1. Darthbobber

      Curious show last night. His chat with Chuck after hours had elapsed on center stage should have already happened before anything went forward in the Senate. Either a singular whipping failure or Joey was reneging.

  24. occasional anonymous

    Why is Bill Gates suddenly everywhere in the news? He was always lurking around as a billionaire ‘philanthropist’ of course, but in the last year he keeps getting called on as if he’s some notable expert. The guy has no qualifications beyond being a slimy businessman and once having been a mediocre programmer. At least here he’s talking about something tech related; the way he has become some sort of pandemic sage is insane. And of course the right-wing has elevated him into being sort of supervillain, but for stupid reasons. Because he actually is a villain in regards to covid, with his advice in regards to the Oxford vaccine. The man almost certainly has blood on his hands.

    1. Darthbobber

      Pretty good chunks of Gates Foundation money have been routed into the journalism biz. And yes, he’s now being trotted out “public intellectual” style on a host of topics.

    2. Josef K

      “The guy has no qualifications beyond being a slimy businessman and once having been a mediocre programmer.”

      So true and all-too seldom remarked on. He’s a challenge to both GWB and DJT for failing up magnificently.

  25. The Rev Kev

    “China-Linked Hack Hits Tens of Thousands of U.S. Microsoft Customers”

    This is a very curious headline this. How could they tell the difference between Chinese hacking a Windows computer and the normal spyware operations associated with Windows-based computers anyway?

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      you mean the mandatory updates, where win10 turns one’s computer on at 3am and phones home?

      I blocked all that with the Zonealarm firewall, after the first such hijacking soon after i got this machine.
      that one update causes the sound and video to gradually, then suddenly go out of sinc, and one has to laboriously reload the driver, restart, etc.
      like those bad voiceovers in old godzilla movies, it’s annoying…and it’s all bill’s fault, frelling control freak.
      microsopft admitted this was their cockup, but apparently no fix is forthcoming…and i would never get it anyway, for fear of it being bundled with some other cockup.
      soon after i discovered this problem, i took the thing to the tech guys at the best buy where i bought it.
      “sure no problem”
      2 weeks and $200 later, and all they did was turn on everything i had turned off(can’t find the link, atm, but windows is as leaky as a rusty bucket, forever calling the various proprietary motherships and reporting on you…again, Zonealarm,lol), uninstall all the little programs i like and have been using for decades, but that are unapproved(CCleaner, Zonealarm, Spybot, etc), and fully updated windows10….luckily, with no apparent cockups that i’ve noticed(touch wood)

      I kept using windows98se for a very long time, because i understood it(more or less) and knew how to turn off most of the automata.
      one of my least favorite things about our techworld is innovation just for innovation’s sake…and then forcing everyone to go along(like Flash, recently…messed up NWS radar pages beyond recognition)

  26. none

    I saw a dig at Sinema that I liked. You can tell she’s bisexual because she fucked the whole country, men and women alike.

  27. Wukchumni

    A shout out to the chorus line of Dachshunds, and in particular the one getting 2nds & 3rds as far as treats go, who’s the good doggie!

  28. chris

    Interesting bit from the latest “Useful Idiots” podcast with Matt Taibbi and Katie Halperin. They will no longer be associated with Rollingstone. I wonder what happened?

    1. flora

      The historical and cultural amnesia of the woke inquisition is something to behold. Pepe Le Pew is, of course, a parody of the Charles Boyer character Pepe le Moko in the 1938 movie Algiers.

      It was a hugely popular movie at the time , and Looney Tunes cartoons had great fun parodying Boyer’s romantic lead character. “Come with me to the Casbah.”

      I’m laughing more and more at these pecksniffing biddies.

          1. JBird4049

            I think that the ruling class’ servants especially the Woken presume that they very educated people; really, they are misedumacated and are too shallow in knowledge to know what they don’t know.

            Why worry when you are at the height of the civilization that is modern America? Our educational system is working just fine for the elites. And Dr. Seuss and Pepe Le Pew are obviously more important than the current collapse.

        1. flora

          Yes, he is.
          I wonder if the latest woke stories are timed to distract from Biden and the Dems walking away from the $2000 check promise; is this an exercise in redirecting anger?

  29. Fern

    Back to the beginning of your post:

    My thoughts are with your aid’s daughter. Keep us posted about her progress.

    The last figures I’ve seen are that approximately 95% of people who die of covid-19 are over 50, while people over 50 comprise only about 36% of the population. With half a million dead, that still leaves over 25,000 people under 50 who have tragically died. I was wondering if the deaths of the young people in this family were recent? It’s possible that the new variants are changing the age distribution of the fatality rate. I know that epidemiologists are keeping their eye on this possibility. If that is the case, it certainly would have a bearing on how we attack the disease.

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