2:00PM Water Cooler 4/13/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Another shore-bird. Quite the wave-form.

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

I feel I’m engaging in a macabre form of tape-watching.

Vaccination by region:

South reverts to the mean.

Case count by United States regions:=

Gaaaaah! Yes, the rise is from the Midwest, but wouldn’t it be nice if the rise in the Midwest was cancelled out by decreases everywhere else.

The Midwest in detail:

Michigan dips (and since this is a one-week average, this might be meaningful). Minnesota follows Michigan’s upward trend. Illinois emerging from the pack?

MI: “Feds won’t play ‘whack-a-mole’ by sending more vaccines to Michigan” [Detroit Free Press]. “The federal government will not change its COVID-19 vaccine distribution strategy, “playing whack-a-mole,” by sending more doses to Michigan, said Andy Slavitt, White House senior adviser for COVID-19 response, during a Monday morning news briefing. Michigan is in the midst of another massive spike in coronavirus cases, with the worst-in-the-nation infection rate and a soaring hospitalizations that have forced some hospitals to postpone non-urgent surgeries and other procedures as they hit capacity. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Michigan can’t vaccinate its way out of the current surge.” • What awful messaging. One day it’s doom. The next day it’s weepiness. The next day it’s “we won’t play whackamole.” More from Walensky: “In fact, we know that the vaccine will have a delayed response. The answer to that is to really close things down, to go back to our basics, to go back to where we were last spring, last summer and to shut things down, to flatten the curve, to decrease contact with one another, to test to the extent that we have available, to contact trace.” Walensky is telling a Democrat governor to do what they cannot politically do, so she’s completely out of touch. Even worse, it’s being done in a preachy and condescending manner.

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


Florida continues its slow climb. California starting to follow?

Test positivity:

Midwest increases.


Still heading down.

Case fatality rate (plus deaths):

Good to see those deaths dropping. The fatality rate in the West is dropping now, for some reason as unknown as why it rose.

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

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

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

Biden Administration

UPDATE “Investors lament being frozen out of Biden infrastructure plan” [Financial Times]. “President Joe Biden’s ‘American jobs plan’, unveiled last month, calls for $2tn of investment in highways, electrical grids and other basic infrastructure. At the same time, the White House put forward corporate tax reforms that it said would generate enough money to pay for the investment spree within 15 years. That has disappointed some investors and asset managers who once expected public-private partnerships would be a lucrative financing opportunity.” • That’s a damn shame. Commentary:

The sucking mandibles are helpfully shaded red.

“The commission to shape Biden’s tech agenda” [Politico]. ” A group of leaders with direct lines to the Biden administration, including Common Sense Media’s Jim Steyer, former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and former Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, is launching a commission that will assemble a “blueprint” for a comprehensive tech policy agenda under Biden, with a focus on soliciting input from people inside as well as outside D.C. — Why we’re watching so closely: There’s still a ton we don’t know about where the Biden administration will come down on issues at the heart of the tech industry, like privacy and Section 230 reform. And these kinds of independent commissions have a pretty good track record when it comes to informing policy — a similar ‘blueprint’ from an Obama-era independent commission (which was also led by Spellings and Steyer) translated into policy change. That means this is one report that will actually end up in the hands of influential Bidenworld players. ‘A comprehensive tech policy agenda for the country is long overdue,’ Steyer told MT. The Future of Tech Commission is being promoted as a bipartisan endeavor (Spellings served under President George W. Bush), but it’s unclear so far if it will get widespread traction from Republicans. By the summer, the commission will compile solutions for government and industry on topics including privacy, antitrust, digital equity, and content moderation. They’ve already had conversations with the White House, FCC and lawmakers ahead of this launch. (Steyer has worked closely with White House deputy chief of staff Bruce Reed, a former adviser to Common Sense, for years. And Tim Wu, Biden’s competition adviser on the National Economic Council, was also previously an adviser for Common Sense.)” • Well, I do like Tim Wu. That’s all I can say.

UPDATE “Amtrak’s $80 billion plan to connect the US is the latest step in a rail revolution but has a glaring omission: high-speed rail” [Business Insider]. “Rather, Amtrak is using the billions to give service to rail-strapped cities like Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Nashville, Tennessee, and upgrade existing lines. Not one penny will be spent towards building a clean-slate high-speed rail line even though getting America’s high-speed rail network in line with those in Europe and Asia is a desire for many Americans.” • America not having HSR is dumb. But it’s not clear to me, given [genuflects] Blue State California’s experience with it, that we can get the job done. (Even this cheerleading article admits California’s HSR will take 14 years.) As for HSR on the Acela Corridor, a new tunnel under the Hudson would cost $11 billion and that’s assuming the rest of the kinks in the line can be straightened. So we may have to accept dumb. Given hysteresis, it’s not so clear that Amtrak’s plan is a bad one.

Democrats en Deshabille

“Sen. Mark Kelly Is Emerging As An Obstacle To The Pro Act” [The Intercept]. “SEN. MARK KELLY has resisted co-sponsoring a major piece of labor law reform legislation known as the PRO Act, citing a policy of not endorsing measures that don’t also have Republican support, according to sources familiar with the reasoning provided to advocates of the bill. Winning Kelly’s support for the legislation is crucial, as it is hoped that if he comes on board he could bring his Arizona colleague, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, with him, leaving backers just three cosponsors short of the 50 that would bring the bill to the floor. Kelly has told advocates that he doesn’t want to be the only Arizona senator to cosponsor the bill, so backers of the bill are hoping to win the two in tandem. The PRO Act, short for the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, has already passed the House of Representatives. The legislation would make it easier to form a union and win a contract, harder for companies to union-bust, and easier for the National Labor Relations Board to crack down on rule-breaking companies. It would also make more workers eligible to unionize, including independent contractors. It would arguably be the most transformative piece of legislation enacted since the 1970s.” • Kelly is, of course, a Democrat.

Republican Funhouse

“Senate Republicans Create New ‘Annual’ Award, Give It to Trump” [Jonathon Chait, The New Republic]. “This morning, by an odd coincidence, the National Republican Senatorial Committee announced it was creating a new annual prize: the Champion for Freedom Award. And the inaugural winner is … Donald J. Trump! There are several unusual things about this award. One is that there is no evidence the NRSC had any intention of giving it out before Trump attacked the party’s leader. The second is that Trump, who adores awards so much he sometimes invents them, did not even bother to put on a sport coat to receive this. The third is that the NRSC apparently plans to give it out every single year from now on.” • All good clean fun by Chait. Chait, sadly, does not deploy snark around this sentence from the Award: “As President, Donald Trump delivere for the American peope by appointing three pro-Constitution judges to the Supreme Court.” If you are a believer in that sort of judge, as I think most Republicans are, then Trump’s Award was richly deserved, tacky circumstances or no. Snark in the face of a strategic debacle: That’s our liberal Democrats.

Stats Watch

Inflatiion: “March 2021 CPI: Year-over-Year Inflation Rate Rises To 2.6%” [Econintersect]. “According to the BLS, the Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) year-over-year inflation rate was 2.6 % year-over-year (up from the reported 1.7 % last month). The year-over-year core inflation (excludes energy and food) rate grew from 1.3 % to 1.6. Energy was the major influence for the month-over-month growth for the CPI-U. Medical care services cost inflation declined from 3.0 % to 2.7 % year-over-year.”

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Shipping: “Port of Oakland Reports Record Cargo Surge” [Maritime Logistics]. “The Port of Oakland reported all-time high container volume for import and export cargo in the month of March amid an ongoing trade boom exploding through U.S. ports. And there’s no sign of the global surge in business activity abating any time soon, the port said. ‘Ships are full, ocean freight rates are sky high and the need for empty containers to ship more cargo is never-ending,’ declared Port of Oakland maritime director Bryan Brandes. ‘We just don’t see conditions easing in the next several months.’ Oakland’s cargo boom mirrors a nearly year-long volume increase at many ports worldwide,. The port said its total volume is up nearly 9% through the first three months of 2021. It attributed the gains to pandemic-weary consumers purchasing overseas goods to counter lockdown fatigue, a phenomenon known as ‘retail therapy’; retailers and manufacturers replenishing depleted inventories; and American exporters meeting unrelenting demand for high-quality U.S. products, especially farm goods.”

Manufacturing: “GM shortens downtime at Tennessee plant as chip supply improves” [CNBC]. “”Following our announcement last Thursday, April 8, GM’s supply chain organization has made strides working with our supply base to mitigate the near-term impacts of the semiconductor situation on both Spring Hill Assembly and Ramos Assembly,’ GM said in an emailed statement. Automotive executives have characterized the chip shortage as fluid. GM, Ford Motor and others have said the shortage will cut billions off their earnings in 2021.” • If we wanted to ration automobile production, there’s a single chokepoint. So what was the meeting with Biden for?

Pharma: “Here’s what major analysts said about J&J, Moderna and other related stocks following the pause news” [CNBC]. “The news that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine would be paused appeared to take the wind out of the stock market on Tuesday, but many Wall Street analysts argued that the development did not change the overall direction for U.S. vaccination trends. And individual company analysts argued it could be a buying opportunity for competitors and some other related shares.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 51 Neutral (previous close: 54 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 64 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). One year ago, just after the end of the Before Times: 42 (Fear). Last updated Apr 13 at 12:34pm.

The Biosphere

“The Deep Sea” [Neal.fun]. • This is incredibly, incredibly cool. Click through and start scrolling down (or swiping, if you are on mobile),

“The health hazards of California’s neighborhood drilling” [High Country News]. “A 2020 analysis by FracTracker Alliance, a nonprofit that collects data on the health consequences of oil and gas development, found that some 2.17 million people in California live within a half mile of an oil or gas well; another 5 million live within a mile. From 2015 through 2020, the state issued more than 25,000 permits for drilling new wells and redrilling older ones, more than 60% of them in Spanish-speaking communities.” • Biden’s American Jobs Plan (supposedly) will cap old wells, but what about these? More: “Hollin Kretzmann, senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, contends that ‘there’s a mountain of evidence saying that living close to oil and gas wells is harmful to human health.’ But it’s not always conclusive, as data on the health effects of living near oil and gas operations are notoriously scant. That’s in part because where there’s fossil-fuel production, there are plenty of other culprits for polluted air. In Kern County, pesticides and particulate matter drift from industrial-scale alfalfa fields into human lungs; cars and trucks that travel the state’s only north-south arteries choke the air with exhaust. When wildfires burn in the nearby mountains, smoke settles in the valleys and drives the air-quality index into the hazardous range for months. Nor are drillers always transparent about the contents of the slurries they use to pump out hard-to-extract oil. Volatile organic compounds, a class that includes benzene, a known carcinogen, have been detected near oil facilities.” • I will say again: I remember the few times when the boiler ran out of fuel toward the end of the month, and I would have to get a five gallon oil can, fill it up at the truck stop, and then pour it into the boiler’s fuel tank standpipe the outside the house. It was clear that oil is a substance you never want to touch, smell, or breathe, or even get near. It was the most wretched and nasty substance I’ve ever encountered. Clearly in a civilized society it would be taboo and left in the ground. And so I have no difficulty far-fetching that the correlation between higher death rates for Latinos from Covid, and their disproportionate proximity to oil drilling is not random.

Health Care

“US recommends ‘pause’ for J&J vaccine over clot reports” [Associated Press]. “The U.S. on Tuesday recommended a “pause” in using the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of rare but potentially dangerous blood clots, a development that could jeopardize the rollout of vaccines around the world. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration announced that they were investigating unusual clots that occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination. The FDA commissioner said she expected the pause to last a matter of days. The clots occurred in veins that drain blood from the brain and occurred together with low platelets, the fragments in blood that normally form clots. All six cases were in women between the ages of 18 and 48. One person died, and all of the cases remain under investigation. More than 6.8 million doses of the J&J vaccine have been given in the U.S., the vast majority with no or mild side effects. Any slowdown in the dissemination of the shots could have broad implications for the global vaccination effort. The J&J vaccine held particular promise for less affluent countries because its single-dose regimen and relatively simple storage requirements make it easier to use in the developing world.” • These seem to be two government sources collecting vaccine safety data: VSAFE (CDC) and VAERS (HHS). More on VAERS. Commentary:

Could be. But that’s a hard message to convey when the over-riding message is fear, fear, fear, and not steady resolve, combined with constant and ever-shfting demands for compliance from what Thomas Frank justly labels “the fuck-up class.”

“Why would a Covid vaccine cause rare blood clots? Researchers have found clues” [STAT]. “Most tellingly, both the paper from Norway and the second paper, which looked at patients from Austria and Germany, found that blood clots were seen in people who had high levels of antibodies to platelet factor 4, the same types of antibodies reported, infrequently, after treatment with heparin. That doesn’t explain why a vaccine is causing the immune system to produce those antibodies, or whether other vaccines might do the same. But it provides a first step toward explaining the side effect, which experts say is extremely rare, and to looking into whether the same types of rare clots could occur with other shots….Still, Paul Offit, the director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and a veteran of discussions about vaccine safety, rattled off a list of questions even before the news about the J&J vaccine broke. Why, he asked, would a vaccine lead to the production of antibodies against platelet factor 4? He emphasized that even when the FDA authorized the vaccine, the plan had been to carefully monitor for cases of thromboses. Offit sits on a key FDA committee involved in reviewing vaccine data. ‘What you really would love to know,’ Offit said, ‘is what is causing the immune response to platelet factor 4?’ Is some part of the adenovirus mimicking platelet factor 4? If so, would that same mimicry occur with other adenoviruses? There’s no clear answer. But Offit suspects it’s a class-wide problem, meaning the same phenomenon associated with AstraZeneca’s vaccine is associated with Johnson & Johnson’s.” • Much informed speculation, not a bad thing.

Decision tree for reducing airborne risk:

This is really not all that complicated, although I suspect easier for introverts to execute than extroverts. At some point, I should really indulge myself and get a CO2 meter.

“Open Letter to address the use of Electronic Air Cleaning Equipment in Buildings” [Medium]. “We appeal to school district facility managers and administration leadership, as well as the relevant national and international bodies and Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry consultants and professional organizations, to recognize the unproven nature of many electronic air cleaning devices. Such devices are typically electrically powered air-cleaners intended to remove particles from airstreams or to inactivate pathogens. As they are unproven, it is critical to avoid wasting valuable emergency COVID relief aid dollars installing them within school district facilities. Following the precautionary principle, we must advocate for schools not to use electronic air cleaning devices. The proven measures that should be taken to address airborne transmission risk include properly sized and maintained ventilation (mechanical and natural), mechanical filtration (including portable HEPA filter units), and germicidal ultraviolet light systems. Such measures are practical and often can be easily implemented; many are not costly, particularly when assessed on a per student basis. Even without the relief aid dollars many are inexpensive enough to be funded with capital outlay dollars instead of passing a bond.” • It would be a horrible outcome if school districts decided that aerosol transmission was real, and then got suckered into buying electronic air cleaning devices. The letter is signed by a number of aerosol luminaries. On another note:

I am pleased that the much-tried Redfield is doing this. Old-fashioned fans are proven technology,

Department of Feline Felicity

From 2020, still germane:


“The Company Quietly Building a Board-Game Empire With Catan, Pandemic, and Ticket to Ride” [Bloomberg]. “Dusting off old board games or buying new ones over the past year in your effort to avoid watching Bridgerton, you might have noticed something about Catan, Pandemic, Game of Thrones, Ticket to Ride, Specter Ops, Agricola, 7 Wonders, and Lord of the Rings. If you’d bought them a decade ago, they would have come from a half-dozen producers. Today, those titles are made by a single company: Asmodee Holding…. Makers of games have benefited from millennials’ pursuit of old-school authenticity, the growth of board game cafes, and—over the past year—Covid-19 lockdowns. Industry revenue climbed about 10% annually in the 2010s, then grew at twice that pace last year thanks to booming sales to people stuck at home, according to Ample Market Research. .. Many board game enthusiasts insist creativity has suffered under Asmodee. Owners of game stores in three U.S. states say prices are up and customer support has suffered…. nd instead of original titles with new characters, settings, and situations, the emphasis has shifted to licenses of Hollywood franchisel. such as Marvel superheroes and Star Wars, and spinoffs of existing fare. * Asmodee is — hold onto your hats here, folks — owned by a private equity firm, PAI Holdings. Readers?

Police State Watch

I would never advise anyone to do this. A thread:

Don’t try this at home!

Groves of Academe

“The New Politics of Higher Education” (review) [Boston Review]. “Why the left’s turn from higher education has coincided with a newfound conservative appreciation for it.”

Guillotine Watch

Such bad taste:

Class Warfare

“DoorDash Is Pushing Drivers to Deliver More With a $50K Sweepstakes” [Vice]. “For every 25 deliveries a courier made through DoorDash between April 5 and April 18, drivers will be entered once for a chance to win $50,000. The lottery prize will only be given to 10 drivers, and each will also be allowed to select a charity to donate an additional $50,000 from DoorDash.” • It’s like DoorDash read the Owner’s Manual for a plantation in the Old South,

“An Update on How Households Are Using Stimulus Checks” [Liberty Street Economics]. “We find remarkable stability in how stimulus checks are used over the three rounds, with a slight decline in the share dedicated to consumption and a proportional increase in the share saved. The average share of stimulus payments that households set aside for consumption—what economists call the marginal propensity to consume (MPC)—declined from 29 percent in the first round to 26 percent in the second and to 25 percent in the third.,,, Combining all respondents, we find that in January, households reported using or planning to use an average 16 percent of the second-round stimulus funds for essential spending, an average 6 percent for non-essential spending, and to donate 3 percent, resulting in a total MPC of 26 percent. They also reported saving or planning to save an average 37 percent of their stimulus checks and use 37 percent to pay down debt. These shares are very similar to those we found for the first round of stimulus checks.”

News of the Wired

Department of Crapification:

“The older the better.”

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

jbeech writes: “It’s a weed! Details follow.”

jbeech: “Detail of the weed. It’s pretty!”

Looks like a Scotch thistle to me. I had them, and thought they were pretty too, until I discovered they were extremely invasive, far above my standards for acceptable invasiveness (which are high). Also, pulling them up is a pain.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Grant

    The PRO Act is great, but I ask this honestly, if supply chains are internationalized, if capital is footloose, if there are massive wage differentials between countries like the US and countries like Vietnam or China, does capital still not have tons of advantages? I don’t think that alone would address the power differential. Seems like a lot of good stuff in the bill, but it also seems that for the bill to have the intended impact, other structural changes would also be needed (maybe capital controls, or something Lori Wallach has talked about which is to possibly use things like tariffs for countries that have horrible labor standards). And I don’t think the Kelley’s of the world would support those structural changes. Some businesses are entirely domestic, but it would seem that this could exacerbate the power of the large companies that can ship production to places with no unions and lower pay. So, how would that impact the companies that can ship production elsewhere versus those that cannot?

    I am someone involved in the worker-cooperative sector (policy and research). I have a particular background on what cities are doing to support worker cooperatives. Why is worker ownership not far more central to these discussions? With worker ownership, you actually can address absentee ownership, and you can necessarily say that the owners of the enterprise will live close to the enterprise. Seems that supporting worker cooperatives would do things that supporting unions could not, because you are also addressing the ownership of the means of production.

      1. Grant

        Thanks! I hope we can further the conversation more, because I think it does things unions by themselves cannot. I think, even with good legislation regarding unions, that we are still going to be in a position to beg companies to do things when we don’t have to. I remember the report that was produced at the end of the Obama administration on AI technology and automation. There was on brief mention of ownership in this economic context. It just noted that if current trends continue, that conflicts between workers and capital is going to intensify. That is clearly true. But, that obviously isn’t true if workers own the companies.

    1. Jason Boxman

      It could be that worker ownership of the means of production is even more radical and empowering than worker class consciousness and solidarity…

      1. Grant

        I think it sounds more radical than it actually is. In part because in some contexts (say Argentina in the early 2000s) there were conflicts over who would own enterprises. But, in this context, worker cooperatives could grow pretty rapidly just by retiring business owners selling the business to the workers. Cooperatives have often been associated with the left, for good reason. But, we could just analyze how different they are as enterprise forms. Here in California a large percentage of business owners are at or are approaching the retirement age, and they have no one to sell the business to. Many don’t know about or don’t think about selling the business to the workers. Doing so would allow the businesses to remain, would widen business ownership and worker cooperatives necessarily keep money flowing in the local economy. So, for anyone thinking about economic development, they could put aside the ideological components and just analyze how they are different, would respond differently to economic policies and how they would have different economic impacts than enterprises owned by absentee owners, how equitable they are internally, etc. I also think that, in the face of the environmental crisis, we need to democratize the economy as quickly as possible. They go a long way in that regard as well.

        1. Left in Wisconsin

          I was semi-active in unionized worker buyouts of (usually small) manufacturing firms in the 1980s and 90s. We pitched the same arguments – lots of retiring owners, dedicated workforce, etc. – to very little effect. It was hard to borrow money to fund a purchase, plus you had to either keep existing management in place or find new management, plus lots of owners were just flatly opposed… invariably it was just easier and cleaner to sell the business to a competitor, even if that competitor only wanted the customer book and would shut the manufacturing operation down. I don’t follow too closely these days but it doesn’t seem like too much has changed.

          1. Grant

            Things have radically changed, for the better. There are still many issues, knowledge of cooperatives and legal issues are two big ones. On the legal front though, things are getting better slowly. I am from Illinois and until recently it was actually illegal to operate a cooperative at the state level. Think about that. In regards to federal aid, until a few years ago, worker cooperatives were not eligible for things like SBA 7A loans, or other forms of federal aid. That has changed. Now, over 20 cities are actively supporting worker cooperatives, and there are real benefits from doing so. So, things are getting better, we just need to speed it up.

            I would also add that the wider societal context is radically different now in every way from Reagan’s America, and it creates a better context for the growth of cooperatives. I mean, the very policies that Reagan pushed for have been disastrous, which increases interest in alternatives.

            I won’t won’t comment more on this though, don’t want to dominate the thread.

    2. Pelham

      Depends on how worker ownership is structured. If older workers accumulate shares in their company over the years they’re on the job, they might eventually exercise their inflated control and sell the company out to some horrid capitalist, thus stripping younger workers of control. Also, this does nothing about foreign competition from slave-labor countries.

      It has been suggested for gig workers that the government be the overarching employer, acting as a sort of temp agency to allocate workers to various gig companies as needed (and perhaps pay these workers for their availability in the intervals when demand is light). Why confine this to gigs? Extend it to every non-employer. Globalized and financialized capitalism is incapable of providing a decent life for working Americans. The solution, I submit, needs to be bigger than the problem — and big enough to do an end-run around multinational capital itself.

      1. Grant

        What you are talking about is what some call “degeneration”. There were studies before on cooperatives in the NW, many of which existed for decades, that eventually were sold or converted to traditional businesses. The studies show that this isn’t a dominant trend. In fact, studies show that worker cooperatives have a higher survival rate than traditional businesses and respond to economic crises differently, in a way that can be counter-cyclical in economic downturns. With Mondragon you saw some of that, where a larger share of the workforce was non-owners. But, that isn’t surprising for a worker cooperative that employs tens of thousands of workers and operates in 35 countries. Still, the overwhelming majority of the workers own the company and the internal pay differential is much better than traditional enterprise of a similar size. Look at the ALF-CIO’s CEO to worker pay ratio. But, worker cooperatives are supposed to be one person one vote, the ICA’s cooperative principles goes into that. What you are talking about would be more of an issue in regards to ESOPs. Even in hybrid cooperatives like you find in France, where slightly less than half of the capital provided can come from outside, the worker cooperative is still democratically controlled by one person one vote. The inequality within a cooperative can exist (they always put a cap on inequality within the cooperative), but generally it is from people using the cooperative more. When a dividend payment is given it is supposed to be distributed based on how many hours a worker has worked there. So, if I have worked twice as much as you, I should get twice the amount of the surplus generated. However, one issue academic economists focus on (which generally doesn’t seem to be an actual issue) in regards to age is investments by the cooperative. If most owners of the cooperative are older and an investment wouldn’t bring much benefit to them while they are in the cooperative, will the cooperative do the investment? There are ways to deal with that too, but it can sometimes be an issue. However, if you work in a cooperative, you are likely to think differently about equity.

        As far as the competition from low labor countries, that is a problem beyond the enterprise type. It isn’t something just cooperatives have to deal with. However, cooperatives also have a long record of cooperating with one another. Mondragon has started to work with workers here (and some unions actually) to help workers buy their enterprises, and cooperation among cooperatives is also an ICA principle. So, we could and should support worker ownership here and abroad.

        There was a program in Argentina called Argentina Trabaja that the Kirchner government supported. A large share of the workers there were outside of the formal economy and they also didn’t qualify for public assistance. So, the previous government there used government procurement to support the formation of worker cooperatives to do various services. Those enterprises were dependent on the state and so when the right wing government took over that effectively stopped, and many of those cooperatives folded, but a number of them lived on. The workers also took over abandoned factories and had to fight the capitalists in court. Naomi Klein had a great documentary about that years ago called The Take.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        The problem of ” foreign competition from slave-labor countries” can be solved very simply ( though not easily) by America abrogating and leaving every Free Trade Treaty, Agreement, and Organization which it is currently trapped in by the Free Trade Conspirators who built the Iron Spiderweb of Free Trade.

        Once every Free Trade Everything has been abrogated, cancelled, withdrawn from, etc., then America will be free to institute Fair Trade Protectionism against foreign competition from slave-labor countries.

        Free Trade is the new Slavery.
        Protectionism is the new Abolition.

  2. petal

    A friend got the J&J vaccine a couple days ago and is now all worried due to the pause. She thinks if they paused, then it must be really serious.
    And yes about MI. The feds preaching to them from on high to lock down, etc etc, is just going to irritate people and have the opposite effect. It’s so stupid and out of touch. Maybe for fun tonight I’ll talk to my brother(in SE MI) about it. I’m sure a blue streak will follow.

    1. Ella

      The US doesn’t care enough about people to pause something like this unless there are some major issues going on behind the scenes. I got this vaccine 6 days ago, am 49 and am very very very concerned because I just don’t trust anything anymore.

      This has been exhausting.

      1. petal

        I don’t trust things, either, and wonder if there’s also business stuff going on behind the scenes, not necessarily just health concerns. Everything is so rotten. It seems like everyone involved is compromised in some way and not to be trusted. I don’t put anything past them.

        1. clarky90

          Common asthma treatment reduces need for hospitalisation in COVID-19 patients, study suggests


          “Findings from the phase 2 randomised study, which was supported by the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), were published on the medRxiv pre-print server.

          The findings from 146 people – of whom half took 800 micrograms of the medication twice a day and half were on usual care – suggests that inhaled budesonide reduced the relative risk of requiring urgent care or hospitalisation by 90% in the 28-day study period. Participants allocated the budesonide inhaler also had a quicker resolution of fever, symptoms and fewer persistent symptoms after 28 days……”

          The trial was inspired by the fact that, in the early days of the pandemic, patients with chronic respiratory disease, who are often prescribed inhaled steroids, were significantly under-represented among those admitted to hospital with COVID-19.

          Karl Denninger comments…

          “90% effective in preventing hospitalization. Obviously if you don’t go to the hospital you also don’t die.

          That’s as good as a vaccine yet it comes with none of the risks of a vaccine, including viral evasion, ADE and direct vaccine-related injury…..”

      2. Nce

        Yep. I got a j&j jab last Friday and I’m worried. My local clinic told me to go to the ER if I develop signs of blood clotting… I didn’t tell them that I don’t have insurance or medicaid yet. I thought the risk of clotting with j&j was equivalent to that of mRNA vaccines- stupid me.

      3. Carla

        My daughter, in the high risk age group, got the J&J jab last week. Of course I’m worried, but I do believe the risk is small. I sent her an article about the “pause” and her reply was “We don’t get out of here alive. Not sure what else to say.”

        Wisdom from the child to the parent. Ella, I do understand how you feel. At this point, I think all I can do is try to manage my own anxiety.

        The Guardian article I sent my daughter had specifics on symptoms to watch for one to two weeks out — not sure if all articles included this info, so please forgive me if this is repetitious:

      4. John

        I had the J&J shot in early March. Slightly sore arm the only side effect. The odds are not quite one in a million, which I believe is a lower incidence of a. serious side effect than some long established vaccines. No comfort if you are one of the few.

    2. Isotope_C14

      Hi Petal,

      Always nice to see your comments. I’m deeply suspicious now of all the vaccines, except Sputnik. I hear that one tastes like vodka and makes you do the fun Russian dance. Sinovac is probably reasonably harmless and tastes a little like hot and sour soup, or so I imagine.

      Taylor Hudak had a pretty interesting interview with some ex-Pfizer VP, don’t know if what he said is true, but it was pretty interesting. I know people who are totally incompetent can get pretty high up just by “being there” but her questions to him were pretty reasonable. I didn’t think his responses were terrible. I did see it on Odysee as I’m sure youtube would have banned the interview.

      The media has been anti-AstraZeneca from roughly day 1, and it looks like the J & J are about to get the same treatment. I suspect that the clotting issue is directly connected to some birth-control pill of some sort, seeing as the clots are so heavily slanted toward younger ladies. The #’s of clots are very, very low, so please let them know it’s not much to be worried about.

      The real worry is the vaccine passports…

    3. voteforno6

      Maybe people don’t want to hear about another lockdown (as if they ever really had a full lockdown), but the feds aren’t wrong here. It would take too long for an increase in vaccine supply to bring down the case count. If people in Michigan want to do something right now, they don’t have many choices. So, I’m sure it feels good for people to blame federal officials for this, but it sure seems that their primary transgression is to tell an unpleasant truth to people who don’t want to hear it.

      1. vw

        But – is this true? Of course, vaccine increases won’t show up in stats for at least two or three weeks minimum. But… do we expect Michigan’s spike to be over by then? And even if we do – wouldn’t sending the vaccine out like the cavalry, give hope to the overworked medical professionals, there’s only a few weeks to go, the government is here to help you…?

        I can see (sort of) your point from a medical perspective. But the damaged trust is so, so, so, so bad right now, that even a mostly pointless gesture of support could be healing. But – I guess that’s not what’s on this administration’s mind.

        This whole pandemic has drawn the brightest of lines for me between “science; the action of” and “science; the public communication of” there could ever possibly be. I pray failing at one does not bring about the failure of the other…

      2. Duke of Prunes

        There are studies that show a single shot of Pfizer or Moderna is 80% effective. What’s up with all this “takes too long” business? I doubt that anyone is suggesting that a 2 week lockdown is sufficient. They’ll probably just crank up the “scolds” to 11, and blame the victims for not getting vaccinated earlier (as if many will have had a choice). The only good thing about this is seeing Whitmere twist in the wind (at the hands of her dearly beloved party).

      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        It could lead to a number of Michiganders thinking about how to get revenge on the Biden Administration at or even before the next elections.

    4. vw

      The communication is just so bad. Just… so, so, so bad.

      My state right now is still on a death rate decline and a stable case rate, with no overcrowding of hospitals that I am aware of whatsoever. Why not send the vaccines to the state with spiking cases? Isn’t that sort of thing why we were longing for a federal response? Like… really? Really??

      It’s sunny outside, and I’ve taken the opportunity to garden and take long walks without a hat – and in the evening, taking a dose of Vitamin D. I hope the rest of the commentariat has been doing the equivalent.

      1. Judith

        Unfortunately, this is the kind of response I would expect from Andy Slavitt (formerly of Goldman Sachs, McKinsey, United Healthcare, and ACA development) and Walensky (completely out of her depth) as the two faces of Covid response in the US. And Bill Gates behind the scenes effectively controlling the global distribution of vaccines (see today’s Links). No one to trust, at all.

      2. petal

        Yes, it is the way the message is communicated that makes the difference. How it is being done now will likely be counterproductive. But, preaching and looking down one’s nose at people seems to be all the rage these days.

    5. Jen

      Got the J&J on Sunday and experienced a “robust” immune response about 22 hours later – chills and fatigue severe enough to send me to bed for the rest of the day. Another 24 hours and it seems to be all gone. I look at the numbers – 6 out of almost 7 million, and I’ll take those odds.

      I noted in the article about MI a doctor quoting a patient saying “I had one shot, I thought I was safe.” Talked to a neighbor this afternoon whose niece is a nurse in a high end hospital in NYC. She said close to 40% of their patients don’t return for their second shot. Neighbor also knows a doctor who works in a local community health clinic. They’re scrambling to get the J&J vaccine for the same reason.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Slim checking in from Tucson.

      During the weeks preceding last fall’s election, I noticed that our well-to-do neighborhoods were rocking the Mark Kelly yard signs like nobody’s business. Outside of those neighborhoods, I had to look very hard for any sign of his candidacy.

      So, he’s one of those Democrats. A PMC guy to the core.

      1. Michael Ismoe

        ummmmm. Mr; Gabby Giffords was a registered Republican until 2018.The only thing we can say about both our crappy senators is that they aren’t Martha McSally.

    2. neo-realist

      Considering the politics and culture of AZ, can a Bernie Sanders populist type get elected in a statewide election? Or is Kelly the best you can get?

      1. km

        I don’t know about AZ, but I know about North Dakota, a state that makes Texas look like a hippie commune by comparison. If any democrat could get elected in this state, it would be a Sanders.

        Even a lot of republicans praise him. “At least he’s honest….

  3. Darius

    Cut those thistles to the ground before they set seed. They’re biennials. They don’t have the energy to grow another stem and flower. Each plant produces hundreds of seeds. Cutting them down before they set seed ends the cycle. Same thing for teasel, also highly invasive.

    Let them grow mature stems, then cut them down. That is how to get rid of them. Don’t bother with them before that. No need to waste your own energy and skin by pulling them.

      1. CanCyn

        Darius is right, if they’ve gone to seed pulling them out is pointless. Same is true for crab grass – technically a self seeding annual. Don’t let it set seed. Unfortunately the seeds can last for a few years so if you’ve had it for while, you won’t immediately solve the problem but cutting before it seeds is the best approach.

  4. rowlf

    I’ve worked in a few aircraft hangars that had Big Ass Fans installed in them and the fans greatly improve the work environment. Besides making airflow for the peopleoids the fans scare birds from roosting and bombing from the rafters and give the mosquitos a harder time.

  5. Wukchumni

    I’ve been using the same Ace Clipper stapler (made in the USA!) for about 30 years now. It uses undulated staples and never fails, never jams and go ahead and staple that 10 page report together, no biggie.

      1. wilroncanada

        I’m still using a half-strip Apsco stapler, all metal, which I have used since I started in the office supplies business more than 55 years ago. I also still have an A9 Apsco which has a long reach, and takes staples from 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch, stapling 50-60 pages of 20 lb. bond easily, also more than 50 years old. All metal, no plastic trim to break, no pretty colours, just solid, made in Europe.

  6. Lee

    “I will say again: I remember the few times when the boiler ran out of fuel toward the end of the month, and I would have to get a five gallon oil can, fill it up at the truck stop, and then pour it into the boiler’s fuel tank standpipe the outside the house. It was clear that oil is a substance you never want to touch, smell, or breathe, or even get near. It was the most wretched and nasty substance I’ve ever encountered.”

    Having worked on clean up and repair crews in the bowels of an oil cracker, I would concur. But, damn, the pay was mighty good.


    Twenty men stand watching the muckers.
    Stabbing the sides of the ditch
    Where clay gleams yellow,
    Driving the blades of their shovels
    Deeper and deeper for the new gas mains,
    Wiping sweat off their faces
    With red bandanas.

    The muckers work on . . . pausing . . . to pull
    Their boots out of suckholes where they slosh.

    Of the twenty looking on
    Ten murmur, “O, it’s a hell of a job,”
    Ten others, “Jesus, I wish I had the job.”

    Carl Sandburg

  7. Darius

    Other countries built successful high-speed rail on existing robust infrastructures of conventional rail and interconnected transit networks. The US would be building HSR as an overlay to a transportation network designed for cars. The transit networks have to be built up before wide-spread HSR would be viable. Remote HSR stations in the exurbs surrounded by “acres of parking” would be instant white elephants.

    1. Susan

      Like this green elephant? Which overflows cars onto streets around the station, for the few that ride it, and has which has not lessened commute traffic at all, but which served as an excuse to get rid of a highly efficient bus system that far more people rode?

      “SMART is the most inefficient (from a cost perspective) transit system in the Bay Area. This is calculated as the taxpayer subsidy-per rider which is over $50.Golden Gate Transit buses, which are one of the more expensive transits, cost the taxpayer $17 per rider. This is based on published data as demonstrated in Figure 3, below.

      1. chuck roast

        In my nine years of transit planning I found one sure thing…the bourgeoisie love rail and hate buses. You know, the poors ride the buses, and it ain’t the poors doing the transit planning. They bougies don’t care if rail is inefficient. They don’t care if it’s expensive. They don’t care if it’s loud. Besides, they know it’s going through the next neighborhood over and not their neighborhood. It’s so nice, and sexy. The niceness and the sexiness will magically keep the smelly poors off. Of course the bougies will probably not ride it, but it’s nice and sexy anyway.

        Fortunately, FTA has a reasonably good formula to weed out the most egregiously stupid rail projects. Unfortunately, the bougies pushing the stupid rail projects have reasonably effective senators and reps who are happy to demonstrate to FTA staff and administrators why buses and bus rapid transit are not appropriate for their bougie riders and donors. But really…it’s not about a cheap ride…it’s all about the expensive build.

        1. deplorado

          in Silicon Valley, it takes full 2 hours with 2 buses to get from downtown Santa Clara to the Lockheed campus in Sunnyvale, about 8 mile distance. I could literally jog that distance in about the same time. Buses also look like military or prison vehicles on the inside, all metal bars and easy to wash down stamped metal surfaces. And they are so on time that even late morning after the traffic rush they continue to come in pairs behind each other, and then you have to wait double the time for the next one. And you have to call to know when the next one is coming, and the estimate is also way inaccurate. With such a system, it is almost better not to have it.

          The public ride from the same area to SFO is only marginally faster per distance traveled. Also, once there was a shooting in a mall where BART has a stop (I think Burlingame, 2 or 3 years ago in the summer), the line was stopped and closed and there was NO public pickup option to continue to the airport – people myself included had to get Uber and taxis. People were barked at to get off, no clear instructions (except “this line is closed, get off here”) or signs, and they could not issue refunds for the BART tickets (bought with a VTA card – so electronic records would have been available to easily reverse the transaction) for some reason so they gave out something like a paper ticket from a roll with a stamp or something silly like that to ask for refund online or something stupid like that. It was unbelievable. I made my flight only barely (after having traveled 35 miles in about 3 hours), and I guess some people might have missed their flights.

          No wonder nobody but the most desperate will take them.

    1. Temporarily Sane

      Yeah, no doubt. The only time the US fully withdraws from anywhere is when it’s driven out by force e.g. Vietnam.

    2. Wukchumni

      I’d prefer we stay until October 7th, so we can receive a 20 year pin for our efforts.

    3. The Rev Kev

      Pull the other one – it plays Jingle Bells. And come September Biden will say that they will have to stay longer because the Taliban have not behaved well enough and won’t some think of the women? And what about the other NATO troops that stationed themselves there? I think that the Germans recently extended their part of the occupation. Come to think of it, did thy ask the Taliban their thoughts on the subject?

      1. John

        We could stay for another twenty years and the result would be the same. One record stands: Afghanistan is THE grave of empires.

  8. deplorado

    An AI-generated “annual investment letter”, for a bit of lightness… :)


    Coronavirus is a very serious virus, and it is everywhere we look. It is especially prevalent in developing countries, particularly in developed markets.”


  9. Claire

    How to hit the Spot:

    Any spray paint on its camera lens or sensors in that dome, or is it the front panel?, will disable it. So might a laser pointer.

    If afraid to approach the Spot, a super soaker water gun with latex paint watered down to the point where it doesn’t clog the discharge nozzle could work on those as far as twenty feet away.

    Don’t forget an old fashioned Argentine bolo, three short ropes tied together at a central knot, with large steel nuts at the end of each; twirl it around like a cowboy lasso over your head, hurl it downward at robot’s legs to tangle them. Once down, apply the paint, the battery removal and or the sledgehammer.

    1. tegnost

      I was thinking bear trap and snare combo, the trap catches front legs, and the snare is spring loaded to a tree and voila’ two spots. Or just a big baseball bat. Everybody has a plan til they get smashed in the sensor dome…

      1. Duck1

        I see the thing is sort of creepy and intimidating, but what real functionality does it bring to the policing function?

          1. Wukchumni

            An assault rifle (yes, I realized i’ll bring out the hand cannon crowd who will explain in way too many words that they aren’t that) slung around the shoulder and displayed in public is way more intimidating than any old holstered pistol.

            1. The Rev Kev

              They could use that thing to transport a bomb to go after someone dug in. It has been done before when they killed that cop-killer by using a bomb-disposal robot with a bomb strapped to it.

              1. skippy

                @ Wuk …

                I mentioned years ago that whilst in the military in the late 70s I was cadre to instructing the new SWAT team members at its inception. The whole program is based on elite military SOP aggressive tactics and reconsolidation of a position taken.

                This mentality has filtered down through the ranks over the years and promoted by brass as the optimal response to just about everything. So now you have patrol cops roaming around like fighter pilots or grunts on mental Pervitin. Go figure that random civilians become casualties when such a mindset is dominate and Von Newman/Nash like numerology win – lose incentivization is the rule of the day …

                @Kev ….

                Its a new toy and a budget fluffer, side of free debugging and maybe investor PR. It makes Tesla auto pilot look good.

        1. ambrit

          I’m willing to wager that the frame of that thing was designed with bolt on spots for the attachment of “upgrades.” Upgrades such as lethal weapons.

        2. Alfred

          It has no intrinsic personal value. It is more disposable than a human. and:

          “So upfront, we’re very clear with our customers that we don’t want the robot being used in a way that can physically harm somebody.”

          I have been trying to imagine how a criminal or anyone they were sent after would relate to them in the circumstance.

    2. Bruce F

      There’s a lot of paintball guns on Craigslist. Seems like you’d want to keep your distance from that thing.

  10. zagonostra

    >Ytube – James Corbett

    For those who follow the world of alternative news/media the James Corbett Report has been a mainstay that provided a toned down, sane and rational alternative to Alex Jones and where one could find high quality documentaries. I see that his main Ytube channel was just shut down. This isn’t so much of a big deal for those who go directly to his web site, but I think this is a turning point where Ytube as a site where one stubbles on perspectives outside ones own is done and over – if it wasn’t already.

    It was a good run from 2006 till now, but I think the establishment has had enough and now unless you know where to look it is more than likely you’ll end up in an echo chamber of what you will find in the MSM. Denizens of the Web are being corralled into safe grazing pastures.

  11. Alfred

    Here and lurking–enjoying all your links as always, and special thanks for the info Tweet on Spot. Oh Boy! I feel much better now. Your name will never come up…

  12. molon labe

    Lambert, I seem to be on a politically incorrect kick lately–“Walensky is telling a Democrat governor to do what they cannot politically do, so she’s completely out of touch.” I would have no problem with a (new) gender-neutral singular for “he” or “she”. However, I cannot tolerate the plural “they” with a singular verb. Perhaps “they” refers to implied Democratic governors, but it is still awkward.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      “They” refers to “a Democrat governor” (one member of a group of unnamed individuals, gender unknown).

      “She” refers to “Walensky” (a named individual, gender known), I think it would be impossibly awkward to call Walensky “they.”

      That’s the rule I try to follow, anyhow.

  13. skippy

    I ponder the rooms opinions on Tucker Carlson’s “white replacement” bomb – “primetime host said immigration would “dilute the political power” of Americans.”

    Having been seen as a *reasonable* sort in the past.

      1. miningcityguy

        His full name is Tucker Swanson Mc Near Carlson and he is an heir to the Swanson frozen food fortune

      1. skippy

        “Since taking over Bill O’Reilly’s slot on Fox News, Tucker Carlson has had the most-watched news show on cable. His populist rhetoric and cutting interview style have earned him millions of nightly viewers, prompting Forbes to ask if Carlson is “the new king of cable news.”

        So I guess the next question is it just a profit motive or a fundie issue and more importantly regardless of the answer if a licensed business has the right to engage in such rhetoric for either reasons.

        Tucker in my view is a Flexian following the money and status that is his birth right.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Straight out of Ruy Teixeira’s coalition of the ascendant. Since liberal Democrats have been saying it for years, what’s the issue?

      (Note that “dilute the political power” isn’t the same as “replacement.”)

  14. Michael McK

    The horrid heating oil you dealt with was probably Fuel Oil #6, a grade of heavy oil that is cut with toxic waste that will burn (as a disposal method).

  15. ambrit

    Shore-bird and wave-form.
    I hope you didn’t expect us to take that littorally.

  16. Hana M

    I loved the Muslim cats joining in on the prayers–on their very own prayer mats! I’m now on my second generation of cats sharing my observant Jewish world. Like their mother cats, my brother cats join me in my daily prayers, facing East. I have to be specially careful stepping back at the end of the key prayer since the Brother Cats are often positioned just behind me. They also seem to have a sense for when the prayers are properly said (they are timed astronomically with reference to the sunrise and sunset and the length of the day and night). Somehow if I’m lapse and do internet checking instead of prayers at the right time they abandon me for the nearest sun patch or radiator. But the minute I start to pray they quietly come into the room. Honestly I’m not given to mystical flights of fancy but I do think we humans give off a very different, special and just plain good vibe when we pray in ancient ways and that animals sense this. I’m glad to see confirmation of my long-held belief that this transcends many boundaries.

  17. Jeff N

    re: Ramadan cats – @AliceAvizandum is a host on the youtube series “Well, There’s Your Problem” about engineering disasters

  18. Greg S

    From April 5th-

    “Blood Clotting Needs to Be Watched with All COVID Vaccines, States the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS)”


    It’s difficult to escape the feeling that big pharma competition isn’t behind the J & J “pause”.

    According to the above there have been 37 reports over the course of 31 million injections of the Pfizer/Moderna vaccine. Roughly one in a million- just like J & J.

  19. Verifyfirst

    Well, the problem with what Gov. Whitmer (Michigan) has done is the whole “following the science” spiel she has been proclaiming since day one. She has never been clear, or specific, on what science she is following–it has been basically her gut feeling, or “context” as she asserts. A lot of people find this frustrating.

    But now–things are such that the same (or worse) conditions exist than when she did require shutdowns in the past, but she will only issue “recommendations”. So where is the science now?

    The Republican Senate has gone so far to pass a bill with specific thresholds for testing positivity, etc., which would actually mandate shutdowns in some places today.

  20. thoughtfulperson

    “Walensky is telling a Democrat governor to do what they cannot politically do, so she’s completely out of touch. Even worse, it’s being done in a preachy and condescending manner. ”

    Biden to Democratic Governors: Retire now, we support “centrists”

  21. Gerd

    Stat has an article up about the AstraZ/J&J clotting issue with an explanation.

    Why would Covid vaccine cause rare blood clots?

    I am unclear from reading the article if all those who have developed these clots had previously received heparin. It’s similar to a heparin disorder but not exactly the same?

    It’s probably unlikely that a lot of young women would have been treated with heparin so I guess its similar to the heparin disorder but not conditional on having received heparin.

  22. KLG

    Does it make me a bad person to daydream about taking a 36-inch Louisville Slugger to one of those robot police dogs?

  23. ChrisAtRU


    I’ve always wanted to see if I could build a real hover-board of sorts using powerful, but small fans. So of course I went looking to see if smallassfans.com existed.

    Sadly, it does not.

    Available domain for some clever person out there!

  24. Procopius

    Aside from members of the Republican Wing of the Democratic Party, and Republican Party activists, who are the people demanding “bipartisanship?” My experience, going back to the1940s, is that any “bipartisan” legislature is as good for us as NAFTA or Iraq. The Taft-Hartley Act was bipartisan. So was the Vietnam War. Public-Private-Partnerships are bipartisan. The Voting Rights Act of 1964 and Medicare were decidedly not bipartisan. My reflex, if I hear a bill is bipartisan, is to reject it.

  25. Koldmilk

    For more on the monopoly Hasbro built in boardgaming, and the rise of Asmodee:


    This has been long known in the boardgaming community:


    I’ve posted on this before: if it weren’t for Kickstarter, many independent boardgame publishers would have gone out of business.

    Asmodee have been exploiting their monopoly advantage by restricting sales through exclusive distribution contracts, with often only a single distributor per country. With the exception of Amazon, online sellers no longer sell abroad because of these strict distribution contracts. The result is prices are up. Not just customers complaining, retailers say the wholesale prices are too high, and I know of one board game shop that has closed after 3 decades because the pricing forced on them squeezed their margins to nothing.

  26. JohnMinMN

    Lambert, thank you for reprising that deep sea link that you posted previously on 12/11/19. I don’t think I could have found it in a search.

  27. drumlin woodchuckles

    About that Business Insider article which laments Amtrak’s non-devotion to High Speed Rail as being a ” glaring omission” and about America’s non-building of High Speed Rail as being ” dumb” . . .
    I would suggest that it is High Speed Rail itself which is dumb. It is dumb, wasteful and desructive, especially being wastefully desructive of energy, as well as being destructively wasteful of energy.

    Here is an article which explains why that is. It is called The Age of Speed and is from Low Tech Magazine.

    Here is a copy-paste of a little part of that article describing the analysis and demonstration of how a High Speed Train took more energy to go a certain distance at High Speed than a merely fast train took to go the same distance merely fast.

    “Low speed trains

    The blindness for the importance of speed leads to doubtful conclusions, like the environmentally friendly label of high speed trains. The French TGV that set the most recent speed record at 575 km/h for wheeled trains in 2007 has an engine output of 19,600 kilowatts. A contemporary “slow” train like the Siemens ES64 with a top speed of 240 km/h has a maximum power output of 6,400 kilowatts.

    Travelling 1,000 kilometres, the “slow” train will consume 26,240 kilowatt-hours (over 4.1 hours) while the fast train will consume 33.320 kilowatt-hours (over 1.7 hours). A real slow train (like this one from 1956 with a top speed of 120 km/h) would consume only 20,000 kilowatt-hours over the same trajectory (and would do this in 8.3 hours, comparable to the travel time of a car).


    “Technology can limit the growth of energy consumption, but if we want to lower energy consumption, we have no other choice but to adapt speed”



    Picture: The Brooklands Society Photo Archives

    The French high speed train is definitely more energy efficient than the Siemens locomotive, and that one is definitely more energy efficient than the 1956 train, because in both cases power consumption did not increase exponentially (*) with speed. But that does not take away the fact that the faster trains consume more energy than the slower trains. If, on the other hand, we would equip the 1956 train with the energy-efficient technology of today’s high speed train, it would consume much less energy than it did 50 years ago.”

    Am I supposed to feel ashamed and embarrassed that France and Japan and China have High Speed Trains and we don’t? Well I don’t feel embarrassed. I feel relieved. The High Speed Trains will help France and Japan and China reach the bottom of Hubbert’s Pit faster and sooner than we will.

    Amtrak spending money bringing merely fast train service to the people in Flyover Country who don’t have any train service at all is more important than Amtrak bringing yet more High Speed Rail to the Acelacrats who already have more train service than they deserve and absolutely do NOT deserve ANY yet MORE train service WHAT so EVER.

    Help Flyover first. If there is any money left over to burn and flush its ashes down the toilet after Flyover has been helped, then go ahead and spend it on the already overprivileged Acelacrats.

    But otherwise and till then, help Flyover first.

    Flyover First.
    Flyover First.

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