2:00PM Water Cooler 4/26/2021

Readers, we are now in the midst of Water Cooler’s annual fundraiser. Our goal is 325 donors, and right now 90 of you have contributed. Thank you! Remember, this is not like the NC fundraiser, which funds a year in advance. You are donating for work I have already done, which I hope you found informative and fun and useful, and which I hope to be able to continue to do. One donor commented:

You have done well during still another year of baroque confusion, obfuscation, and panic.

If you agree, dig deep! And now to the bird songs–

* * *

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

From Ecuador, the ancient Great Tinamou. Location is “humid forest,” which certainly is noisy!

* * *


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:

Not looking good at all. The Northeast jump was, in fact, an enormous reporting error, now rectified (though I have not been able to find it mentioned anywhere. Readers?)

It was Pennsylvania:

“Vaccine Machine Slows Down” [Eschaton]. “I do think that in The Discourse there has been much more concern with the problem of vaccine hesitation rather than the easier problem of people who are Not Very Online With Flexible Schedules. Send them around in ice cream trucks. Whatever. Focus on getting them to everyone who wants them more than trying to convince MAGA chuds.” • This is what the next post is about. Proselytization, as it were.

IN: “As vaccine demand falls, some health departments face a dilemma: Too much supply” [ABC]. “For Dr. James Rudolph, a health officer in Miami County, Indiana, not wasting COVID-19 vaccine doses came down to luck last week. The state had given the county roughly 600 extra doses and Rudolph had to figure out how to get them into arms. With low demand among the general population, Rudolph turned to a local egg processing factory and was able to run a clinic for employees to get vaccinated. The factory was one of several in the area that he reached out to about the extra doses. The others had already made arrangements for vaccines. Demand for vaccines in Miami County has declined enough that makeshift vaccination sites will close. So far, roughly one in five people in the county is fully vaccinated. Local churches are advertising the vaccines and the county plans to start accepting walk-ins for vaccinations in the near future, Rudolph explained. There’s been a huge drop-off in demand over the past three weeks, Rudolph noted.” • The J&J pause was 10 days ago.

KS: “62 Kansas counties decline weekly vaccine allotment amid wane in demand” [The Hill]. “A drop in demand led more than half of the counties in Kansas to decline their weekly allotment of COVID-19 vaccine doses…. A spokesperson for Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) said many Kansas residents are delaying getting their vaccines due to the drop in new cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the Sunflower State, according to the AP.”

PA: “‘The challenge to come’: Vaccinations are open, but demand is down, turning Pa. and Philly’s focus to fighting hesitancy” [Philadelphia Inquirer]. “Doctors in Bradford County keep pleading with patients: Consider getting the coronavirus vaccine. But lately, patients keep saying they want to wait. The county, on the Pennsylvania-New York border, has seen COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations surge in recent days. While more than half of U.S. adults — and 43% of Pennsylvanians — have gotten at least one dose, barely a quarter of those in Bradford County have done so. And the state’s expansion last week of eligibility to all 16 and older didn’t bring a fresh rush to clinics…. A similar April slowdown has shown itself 200 miles away in Philadelphia. Thousands of appointments have gone unfilled at the Convention Center over the last several days, and North Philadelphia’s federally run Esperanza clinic has also operated below capacity. After months of high demand for hard-to-get vaccine appointments, the landscape has changed nearly overnight across the commonwealth.”

Case count by United States regions:

Continued good news. I’m not used to this at all.

The Midwest in detail:

Continued good news. Michigan and Minnesota heading down, along with their neighbors (Could be that people actually do listen when Governors ask them do so stuff, but enough, and enough of them?)

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

Florida, by a nose, now dropping. California also dropping.

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 increasing again, for some reason as unknown as why it dropped.


* * *


“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

Warning sign:

UPDATE “In his first 100 days, ‘Uncle Joe’ Biden combines progressive goals and a reassuring manner” [Los Angeles Times]. “Biden has governed in these opening months as a progressive — significantly to the left of his three Democratic predecessors on the issue of government’s role in society. With proposals such as expanded aid to families to cut child poverty nearly in half, a sharp cut in U.S. emissions of gases that warm the climate, and a major increase in spending on domestic programs, he’s gone well beyond what prior Democratic administrations backed… Biden’s activism amounts to a strategic bet that flips an idea that guided the last two Democratic presidents. Both Presidents Obama and Clinton were acutely aware of the risk of overreaching — alienating centrists by pushing plans seen as going too far. Biden has adopted the opposite view — that troubled times have made voters more open to activist government. So far, Biden has kept his options open, sticking to a few core topics — mainly the pandemic and economic recovery — with a discipline that contrasts with his longstanding image as garrulous and gaffe-prone.” • That’s true. He puts everything else on Harris’s desk, which might not be such a bad thing.

UPDATE “What’s the Secret of Biden’s Success?” [Paul Krugman, New York Times]. “But all indications are that we’re heading for an economic boom, with G.D.P. growing at its fastest rate since 1984. If that happens, Biden’s policies might get even more popular than they are now. How all of this will translate into votes remains to be seen. But early indications are that Biden has achieved what Obama never did: finding a way to make progressive policies truly popular.” • Like, ya know, #MedicareForAll. The liberal Democrats could prevent Medicare for All from even being put on the table in the midst of a pandemic is a stunning example of brutal political power (see Clarke and Dawe below).

UPDATE This thread is good:

Many responses asked why the Biden administration didn’t release some of our AZ hoard. If I got this morning’s Links on India right, the Indian Federal government is only doing manufacturing, so the Biden administration helped them with that. The Indian states would be buuying vaccines, including foreign vaccines. If this is correct, (a) Manning should know this and (b) if the goal is saving human lives, the Biden administration should be calling Indian governors. I would say this response then, though good, is also mimimalist.

“Nearly 200 CEOs Oppose Biden and Yellen Corporate Tax Plans” [Brick House]. “President Biden’s new infrastructure plan would raise taxes on large corporations, stepping up rates from 21% to 28%, short of the 35% rate in place before the 2017 Republican tax cuts were passed. The Business Roundtable last week issued a statement saying it opposed Biden’s corporate tax hike, calling for some other revenue source to finance the $1-$1.5 trillion in infrastructure spending the group says is needed in ‘long overdue investments.'”

UPDATE “White House’s new $1.8 trillion ‘families plan’ reflects ambitions — and limits — of Biden presidency” [WaPo]. “The “families plan” is not expected to include a push from Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Sen. Michael F. Bennet (D-Colo.) to revamp the nation’s unemployment system, two people familiar with the matter said. Wyden and Bennet have pushed the White House to overhaul unemployment systems nationwide after the pandemic showed their inability to accommodate a surge in jobless claims. The measure is also set to only propose expanding an enhanced child benefit through 2025, although many Democratic lawmakers and Biden himself have called for making the provision permanent.”

“The safety net program Congress forgot” [The Hill]. “SI’s archaic income rules — which were put in place to allow beneficiaries to supplement their modest monthly benefits with additional income if they’re able to do so — have never been updated since the

program’s establishment in 1974. These limits are stuck at $65 per month for earned income and $20 for “unearned” income. For very-low-income seniors and disabled people who receive a small amount from Social Security in addition to SSI, so-called “unearned” income includes their Social Security benefits. These paltry “income disregards” have lost virtually all of their value due to inflation over the years, shrinking already meager monthly benefits even further. Further pushing already-struggling beneficiaries even deeper into poverty is a mean-spirited rule called “in-kind support and maintenance,” which targets beneficiaries who are lucky enough to receive help from loved ones with meeting their basic needs. A bag of groceries to help ensure you’ve got food to last through the month or a place to stay to help get you off the street can trigger a one-third reduction in SSI’s already sub-poverty-level benefits. Along with economic security, marriage equality is out of reach for SSI beneficiaries too. The program’s rigid marriage penalties reduce benefits by one-quarter for SSI beneficiaries who marry another SSI beneficiary, and can lead to outright loss of benefits for those who marry someone not receiving SSI. Imagine not being able to marry the person you love for fear of losing survival income. During the campaign, President Biden pledged to right these wrongs, committing that people with disabilities and seniors should never have to live in poverty in America. His historic disability policy platform spoke to each of these shameful policy failures. Biden committed to raise SSI benefits to the federal poverty level; update outdated asset limits and income rules; eliminate the cruel in-kind support and maintenance rule; and abolish SSI’s marriage penalties. Now a coalition of House and Senate Democrats are urging Biden to make good on his promises to the 8 million disabled and elderly SSI beneficiaries. They are calling on him to include these long-overdue SSI updates in the American Family Plan, to finally bring the decades of shameful neglect of this critical program to an end.” • We’ll see. That’s a lot of lovely means-testing to get rid of, though.

“President Biden will promote unions through a White House task force” [New York Times]. “President Biden will sign an executive order on Monday creating a task force to promote labor organizing, according to a White House fact sheet. The task force, to be led by Vice President Kamala Harris and populated by cabinet officials and top White House advisers, will issue recommendations on how the federal government can use existing authority to help workers join labor unions and bargain collectively. It will also recommend new policies aimed at achieving these goals. The White House document notes that the National Labor Relations Act, the 1935 law governing federal labor rights, explicitly sought to encourage collective bargaining, but that the law has never been fully carried out in this regard. “No previous administration has taken a comprehensive approach to determining how the executive branch can advance worker organizing and collective bargaining,” the document states.” • Not confident of anything Harris heads sorry.

Democrats en Deshabille

UPDATE “Scandal-plagued Cuomo and Organized Labor’s Bizarre Silence” [Strike Wave]. “Strikewave requested clarification from more than a dozen major New York labor unions and federations, inquiring whether officials had commented on the investigations into the governor—and if they had not, why not? The New York City Central Labor Council declined to comment and the New York State AFL-CIO did not respond to our request. Nor did 1199 SEIU, the Civil Service Employees Association, the United Federation of Teachers, 32BJ SEIU, AFSCME District Council 37, the New York State Nurses Association, New York State United Teachers, the Professional Staff Congress, Communications Workers of America, Transit Workers Local 100, the Hotel Trades Council, or the Retail, Wholesale Department Store Union.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

The nice thing about Clark & Dawe is that all the routines last only two minutes or so. So there are very many:

UPDATE “Not by turnout alone: Measuring the sources of electoral change, 2012 to 2016” [Science]. “Changes in partisan outcomes between consecutive elections must come from changes in the composition of the electorate or changes in the vote choices of consistent voters. How much composition versus conversion drives electoral change has critical implications for the policy mandates of election victories and campaigning and governing strategies. Here, we analyze electoral change between the 2012 and 2016 U.S. presidential elections using administrative data. We merge precinct-level election returns, the smallest geography at which vote counts are available, with individual-level turnout records from 37 million registered voters in six key states. We find that both factors were substantively meaningful drivers of electoral change, but the balance varied by state. We estimate that pro-Republican Party (GOP) conversion among two-election voters was particularly important in states including Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania where the pro-GOP swings were largest. Our results suggest conversion remains a crucial component of electoral change.”

UPDATE “Our governance problem in a nutshell” [Interfluidity]. “The overlapping, heterogeneous political coalitions of America’s past, its two “big-tent” parties, did not survive — it seems unlikely that they ever would survive — modern telecommunications and the nationalization of just about everything. If this is right, if our political factions will necessarily be strongly sorted, our only hope to restore legitimate governance is to adopt an electoral system supportive of multiparty competition, which eliminates the 50:50 contested-legitimacy equilibrium and enables more fluid, potentially supermajority, coalitions to form. It really is kind of QED. To remain a functional state, the United States requires legitimate government. In the current sociotechnical environment, we cannot sustain the supermajority support required for legitimate government under a competitive two-party system. All it would take is an act of Congress to make the United States a multiparty democracy

“Meet the gun-toting ‘Tenacious Unicorns’ in rural Colorado” [High Country News]. From Custer County, Colorado: “[Penny Logue and Bonnie Nelson]d bought the dome, and by March, with the pandemic raging and a divisive presidential election roiling, relocated to the valley and created the Tenacious Unicorn Ranch, a community of gun-loving, transgender, anti-fascist alpaca ranchers. While they already knew the financial, physical, and emotional challenges of operating a successful ranch, they had no idea that the Wet Mountain Valley had become a cauldron of right-wing conservatism — home to militias, vigilantes, Three Percenters — anathema to the ranch’s gender-inclusive, anti-racist, ecological politics. But rather than retreat, the unique LGBTQ+ community, around a dozen strong, asserted its right to exist. They armed up and began speaking out, quickly developing a local reputation that galvanized other local rural progressives. In the process, they’ve showed how queer communities can flourish. “We belong here,” Logue told me this past November. “Queers are reclaiming country spaces.'” • Always a mistake to generalize about “rural America.”

“Actor Profile: Proud Boys” [ACLED]. “Currently, Enrique Tarrio is the national chairman for the Proud Boys, making him the de facto leader of the group. The Proud Boys have, however, experienced significant fragmentation following the storming of the US Capitol on 6 January 2021, especially in light of revelations about Tarrio’s past as a federal informant (Washington Post, 25 February 2021).” • Oops.

“Russell Moore had a crisis of faith, but it didn’t help him understand ex-evangelicals” [FLUX]. “The fact is that all-encompassing, missionizing, anti-pluralist approaches to faith like evangelical Christianity make equal dialogue between believers and those who reject their beliefs impossible.” • Ursula LeGuin’s novella, Paradises Lost, has this “fact” as a theme.

Stats Watch

Durable Goods: “Headline Durable Goods New Orders Improved In March 2021” [Econintersect]. “The headlines say the durable goods new orders improved. Our analysis shows the rolling averages improved. The data this month was below expectations – and, the previous month was little changed. In the adjusted data, the improvement was widespread.”

* * *

Apparel: “Faith-Based Fashion and Internet Retail” (PDF) [Modest Dressing]. “The last two decades has seen the development of a rapidly expanding and diversifying market for modest fashion, arising initially from and serving the needs of women from the three Abrahamic faiths, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, who are motivated to dress modestly for religious reasons. This market is also sustained by women whose ‘look’ may share many elements of modest styling but who do not regard their processes of self-fashioning in terms of religion or modesty as such. For both groups the internet has been central to the rapid growth of the modest fashion sector, fostering the development of a niche market through e-commerce, and providing virtual platforms for debates on modesty and fashion on websites, blogs, and discussion groups (fora).”

Shipping: “High freight rate, container shortage to linger for 8 more months” [Hellenic Shipping News]. “The exorbitant freight rates that were aggravated by the shortage of container supply are expected to remain in shippers’ finances for another eight months, said Malaysian National Shippers’ Council (MNSC)…. [MNSC chairman Datuk Dr Ir Andy Seo Kian Haw] added that the surging freight rates are forcing foreign buyers to delay their orders with the anticipation that the shipment costs will decre ase in the coming months to avoid losing out on export revenue.”

The Bezzle: “Facebook advertising chief worried about whether it overstated audience” [Financial Times]. “Carolyn Everson, one of Facebook’s most senior advertising executives, said the company had to “prepare for the worst” over claims that it overstated the potential reach of its advertisements, according to newly released court filings…. Two months ago, other documents in the case revealed that the Facebook product manager in charge of potential reach said in an internal email that the company had made “revenue we should have never made given the fact [the metric is] based on wrong data”…. Parts of the filings had initially been sealed largely on the grounds that they were commercially sensitive for Facebook.” • Here’s a thread that includes some of Everson’s mail:

Tech: “The Clubhouse Party Is Over” [Vanity Fair]. “[T]he darling of the pandemic was a little audio start-up called Clubhouse. When it launched in March of 2020, with just a few hundred users, it was soon all anyone in tech could talk about. Just two months after its debut, it was valued at $100 million. A few months later it was valued at $1 billion. As of this month, it’s now valued at $4 billion…. Now, it seems, the party might be over—at least for now. According to two people close to the Silicon Valley start-up, numbers are slowing across the board. Sign-ups and installs have fallen dramatically, and engagement from people who have already joined the platform is down in some areas of the app too. Business Insider reported this week that installs of the app on iOS have fallen from a high of 9.6 million in February to less than a million installs so far this month. Indeed, looking at the iOS App Store, you can see that Clubhouse has fallen from being one of the top downloaded apps in the social media section, to now being the 23rd most popular in social networking.” • “Valued,” lol.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 58 Greed (previous close: 61 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 57 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 26 at 12:39pm.

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 188 (Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing, so high is better.)


“Global groundwater wells at risk of running dry” [Science]. “Here, we analyzed construction records for ~39 million globally distributed wells. We show that 6 to 20% of wells are no more than 5 meters deeper than the water table, implying that millions of wells are at risk of running dry if groundwater levels decline by only a few meters. Further, newer wells are not being constructed deeper than older wells in some of the places experiencing significant groundwater level declines, suggesting that newer wells are at least as likely to run dry as older wells if groundwater levels continue to decline. Poor water quality in deep aquifers and the high costs of well construction limit the effectiveness of tapping deep groundwater to stave off the loss of access to water as wells run dry.”

Health Care

Paradigm shift on covid transmission, a thread:

Worth reading in full, because you see these talking points all over.

“The obscure maths theorem that governs the reliability of Covid testing” [Guardian]. “Bayes’s theorem is written, in mathematical notation, as P(A|B) = (P(B|A)P(A))/P(B). It looks complicated. But you don’t need to worry about what all those symbols mean: it’s fairly easy to understand when you think of an example…. Imagine you undergo a test for a rare disease. The test is amazingly accurate: if you have the disease, it will correctly say so 99% of the time; if you don’t have the disease, it will correctly say so 99% of the time. But the disease in question is very rare; just one person in every 10,000 has it. This is known as your “prior probability”: the background rate in the population. So now imagine you test 1 million people. There are 100 people who have the disease: your test correctly identifies 99 of them. And there are 999,900 people who don’t: your test correctly identifies 989,901 of them. But that means that your test, despite giving the right answer in 99% of cases, has told 9,999 people that they have the disease, when in fact they don’t. So if you get a positive result, in this case, your chance of actually having the disease is 99 in 10,098, or just under 1%. If you took this test entirely at face value, then you’d be scaring a lot of people, and sending them for intrusive, potentially dangerous medical procedures, on the back of a misdiagnosis.” • I must confess I don’t find that example all that easy, maybe because I dom’t want to think about the odds of having a disease.

“Why Berkshire Hathaway’s health care project Haven failed” [Yahoo Finance]. “Haven, the joint venture of three of the largest companies in America — Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A, BRK-B), Amazon (AMZN) and JPMorgan Chase (JPM) — once threatened to disrupt the health care system of the U.S. But less than three years later, it unceremoniously fizzled out in February…. So why did it fail? Largely, the venture failed to take off because the U.S. health care system is just too complex to be disrupted, experts have said. Haven also faced competition from entrenched players in the health care system, and despite their size and reach, the three companies had trouble obtaining necessary data that could help them better control costs, the Wall Street Journal reported in January, citing people familiar with the project’s budget. Moreover, the venture had unclear goals.” • That’s a damn shame.

Our Famously Free Press

“The Mass Media Will Never Regain The Public’s Trust” [Caitlin Johnstone]. “This year has marked the first time ever that trust in news media dropped below fifty percent in the United States, continuing a trend of decline that’s been ongoing for years. Mass media punditry is divided on where to assign the blame for the plummet in public opinion of their work… The one thing they all seem to agree on is that it’s definitely not because the billionaire-controlled media are propaganda outlets which manipulate us constantly in conjunction with sociopathic government agencies to protect the oligarchic, imperialist status quo upon which the members of the billionaire class have built their respective kingdoms. It cannot possibly be because people sense that they are being lied to and are fed up with it.”

The Agony Column

I like Fesshole:

But all the confessions aren’t as anodyne as this one. Human beings are very odd.

Book Nook

“Throngs of Himself” [Johns Hopkins Magazine] 2018. “Paul Linebarger, who under his own name played many roles: U.S. Army colonel, CIA operative, psychological warfare expert, scholar of Asia, teacher, adviser to an American president. He was a husband twice and a father twice. His godfather was the first president of modern China, Sun Yat-sen. He may have been the central unhinged character in a famous psychiatric case study. But it was his science fiction—published as Cordwainer Smith—that gilds his legacy today. Smith published about 30 short stories, all of which take place over a 14,000-year future history that Linebarger labored over in a lifetime of notebooks. Smith’s work is startling and violent, remembered for its originality and its weighty subject matter. In a letter to his agent, Linebarger explained that his stories “intended to lay bare the human mind, to throw torches over the underground lakes of the human soul, to show the chambers wherein the ageless dramas of self-respect, God, courage, sex, love, hope, envy, decency, and power go on forever.” Pulpy tales of little green men these were not.” • Hard to see the grey-colored Hayden, Brennan, and Clapper types we have today leading such interesting lives.

Sports Desk

“Six Questions for Gerald Horne About His New Book, The Bittersweet Science: Racism, Racketeering, and the Political Economy of Boxing” (interview) [Gerald Horne, Washington Babylon]. Horne: “Inexorably racketeering takes root in a nation based on mass enslavement of Africans–often ensnared by proto-gangsters–and mass expropriation of the indigenous (likewise). As I have written in my book on ‘Jazz’ and others on Hollywood, in the U.S. and elsewhere, organized crime is attracted to ‘business’ that throws off cash proceeds, which facilitates money laundering. It is also a kind of primitive accumulation of capital–ala the slave trade. And, yes, this generates corruption of various sorts. As I state in the book, if you compare Ali to Bob Foster, yet another talented boxer who fought for peanuts, it is evident that boxers felt they needed ‘backup’ and, yes, the presence of the Nation, especially the Fruit of Islam, served as a deterrent to traditional racketeering. Of course, my book on Watts details how the Nation filled an ideological vacuum created by the Red Scare and the persecution of figures like Robeson (see my book on him).”

Police State Watch

“The United States is at risk of an armed anti-police insurgency” [The Conversation]. “I am beginning to observe in the U.S. some of the social conditions necessary for the maturation and rise of an armed insurgency. The U.S. is at risk of armed insurgencies within the next five years if the current wave of killings of unarmed Black people continues….. Entities operating independently will spring up, but over time, a loose coalition may form to take credit for actions of organizationally disparate groups for maximum effect. There will likely be no single leader to neutralize at the onset…. There is another, related variable: The availability of people willing and able to participate in such insurgency. The U.S. has potential candidates in abundance. Criminal records — sometimes for relatively minor offences — that mar Black males for life, have taken care of this critical supply. …. Some of these men may gradually be reaching the point where they believe they have nothing to lose. …. Any anti-police insurgency in the U.S. will likely start as an urban-based guerrilla-style movement. Attacks may be carried out on sites and symbols of law enforcement. Small arms and improvised explosive devices will likely be weapons of choice, which are relatively easy to acquire and build, respectively….. The U.S. government will seem to have a handle on the insurgency at first but will gradually come to recognize that this is different…. I am often amazed that many people appear unaware that Nelson Mandela was co-founder of uMkhonto we Sizwe, the violent youth wing of the African National Congress,” • Definitely worth reading in full. On the bright side: Open carry will soon be seen as problematic.

Guillotine Watch

“Bill Gates says no to sharing vaccine formulas with global poor to end pandemic” [Slate]. “During the Sky News interview, Gates said it was “not completely surprising” that the richest nations like U.S., U.K. and others in Europe vaccinated their populations first. He said that made sense because the pandemic was worse in those countries, but said he believed that ‘within three or four months the vaccine allocation will be getting to all the countries that have the very severe epidemic.'” • Victory through colonialism!

Class Warfare

“EXCLUSIVE-Worker group alleges unsafe practices at Marathon Minnesota refinery” [Reuters]. “Inadequate safety standards at Marathon Petroleum’s St. Paul Park refinery in Minnesota have caused avoidable hydrocarbon and chemical releases that pose a threat to the community, a local worker advocacy group said in a report on Sunday, as a lockout of unionized plant workers extends into its third month. The report by Local Jobs North, a union-backed organization, said that lax safety standards at the plant led to mistakes that could have ignited volatile hydrocarbons. It also cited inadequate installation of safety controls for pipe repair operations and use of poorly constructed scaffolding.”

UPDATE “‘Major disruptions’: Churchill Downs valets demand contract as Kentucky Derby Week begins” [Courier-Journal]. “About 50 union workers and supporters stood in the rain outside Churchill Downs Saturday afternoon, demanding the racetrack agree to a fair contract with its valets as it heads into Kentucky Derby Week. Members of SEIU Local 541, the racetrack employees union, say the track’s valets have been working without a union contract since November after the previous five-year agreement expired. A statement from the group said the situation ‘could result in major disruptions during Kentucky Derby Week.’ David O’Brien Suetholz, union attorney, said Churchill Downs canceled negotiations Thursday after the valets unanimously rejected their last best offer.”

UPDATE “Activists make demands for how they want Johnson County COVID relief money spent” [KCRG]. “-$47 million. That’s how much Iowa City and Johnson County governments stand to get from the most recent federal COVID-19 relief package. A local coalition wants them to spend that on people who got virtually nothing from that relief package: undocumented immigrants and migrant workers. Here’s a breakdown of their demands: they want $20 million to go to an excluded workers fund. That could help provide payments for undocumented excluded workers. $20 million for hazard pay to go hospital workers, public employees, and school employees. $5-million for affordable housing for undocumented workers. Previously incarcerated people, and refugee settlement, and finally $2 million for transportation, including a bus service on Sundays. ‘I know people will probably see this and only think immigrant workers, think why should we spend our money on them,’ said Marlen Mendoza with LULAC. ‘Well, they pay taxes.’ ‘This money is the public’s money and it needs to be spent on public good for the community,’ said Cathy Glasson, President of SEIU Local 199. ‘And for individuals who need that aid now than ever before.'”

News of the Wired

“Has UML died without anyone noticing?” [Ernesto Garbarino]. “As my Master’s dissertation, I identified the key set of discrete mathematics that underpin most structural and behavioural UML models. I even wrote a tool, using Haskell and GraphViz, to visualise said mathematics back into pictorial UML. A few years later, maybe around 2015-ish, I realised that I had pretty much stopped using UML, and so had the rest of my peers and nearly every Fortune 500 customer I have consulted for recently. What happened? I know. It was a death by a 1000 cuts. And no, UML wasn’t killed by the business community because of its complexity or rigour. Au contraire, business folks loved the ability to communicate clearly and unambiguously by using a handful of new symbols of conventions. It was the IT folks who brought UML to the table (as I did back in the day) and took it away in a puff of smoke. But it wasn’t UML that got killed, per se. In fairness, UML was just collateral damage. The massacre was in the entire requirements engineering field encompassing business analysis and design. Agile was the assassin and user stories were her deadly, poisonous arrow heads (pun intended). In a model in which you pour user stories into a sausage machine, and you get a demo at the end of it (or a feature production release in a DevOps shop!) there is no room for purposeful, structured problem analysis anymore.” • Personally, I think we should still be teaching Cobol. Why not?

Of going meta there is no end:

* * *

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

AM writes: “This is a phalaenopsis orchid, according to a family friend who raises orchids. Apparently people in the community leave them tied to a crook in a tree when they go north for the summer, and the orchids survive from the humidity in the air.”

* * *

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

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

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

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

About Lambert Strether

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


  1. zagonostra

    >Whatever. Focus on getting them to everyone who wants them more than trying to convince MAGA chuds

    MAGNA Chuds? I didn’t know that Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was a MAGNA. Marginalize those with have criticisms of WHO, Bill Gates, vaccine immunity liability, and all those other tin-hat wearing conspiracist theory aficionados and you will never get a majority to vaccinate. Yeah, concentrate on those who you can convince to get it.

    I have friends/family on both sides of the issue of getting vaccinated. If you can’t be respectful, and all you can do is virtue signal, than good luck Mr. Eschaton. The true Eschaton will see who was right.

    1. IM Doc

      I have been saying this for weeks – and will say so again.

      All that were freely willing to be vaccinated have been. We are now left with the doubtful, the skeptical and the downright hostile.

      Some counties in America have been lucky enough to get to 50% vaccinated rates. Some are still in the 20s. All are closing their vaccine centers because that time has now passed.

      I talk to these hesitant folks all the time. I absolutely assure you the LAST thing that will change their mind is haughtiness and name-calling like these people like Eschaton and others are doing. It will do far more to cement their position in place. As far as MAGA – you would be shocked at the number of blue liberals who are refusing the vaccine as well. This is really not all about politics. There are a myriad of things rolling around people’s brains and souls.

      I had one in my office today – a former state health department leader. The comment she made that stuck with me – was “I notice that there are now vaccine ads all over the place. Have you ever wondered why there is not a rushed 30 second list of all the side effects at the end like all the other pharmaceutical ads are forced to do? It makes you wonder doesn’t it?”

      If anyone out there can help me with an answer to that question, please do so. And believe me – equally probing questions are coming right and left all day for me.

      My patients are not dumb. They are not “chuds”. They are people concerned about their own lives and the lives of their community. Many of them feel like they are being lied to. These are people who would line up at blood drives and do anything for their community. They are very likely to have taken all required vaccinations in the past. I am not sure how I will ever convince any of them. The conspiracy theories are running at a fever pitch – and the most concerning thing about that is I see no one in any position of authority doing a thing about it.

      We do indeed live in interesting times.

      1. GroundZeroAndLovinIt

        CDC has about 4 months of hard data now on efficacy and side effects and anything and everything related to how the vaccine is doing. Curiously, no one in media seems interested in assessing or reporting on that data.

        We do get articles now about Covid breakthrough. Also: I can never remember in my life a government proposal to give people sick days to recover from a vaccine.

        Why, it almost seems like they are concealing things and managing expectations downward.

        1. Geo

          “A government proposal to give people sick days to recover from a vaccine. Why, it almost seems like they are concealing things and managing expectations downward.”

          Sorta like how they don’t give us a day off for voting. You’d think something so vital to a heathy society would be encouraged. Apparently a healthy society is not as vital as the messaging makes it seem?

          1. mwbworld

            The voting day off is needed to help to recover from the negative health effects of voting. ;-)

            1. Procopius

              A day off for voting will meet a lot of resistance from the Chamber of Commerce people. Do you observe how many people work on Sundays? How many work on Thanksgiving? How many work on the 4th of July? How many work on New Years Day? When I was a kid it was firemen, policemen, and soldiers. Even postmen got those days off, and we had Sunday closing (in Ohio). People did normally work half a day on Saturday, but nobody worked on Sunday. If you want everybody to get the day off on Voting day, you’re going to have to allow for draconian punishments, maybe even 30 days in jail for the CEO of any company that makes people work.

        2. Yves Smith

          No, as IM Doc has explained, the data is at least a month behind and not verified.

          All the CDC has self or MD reported data of those who chose to report in its VARES system.

          VSAFE, which is tried steering consumers to, is a train wreck and probably led some who would otherwise go to VARES not to.

          IM Doc reported a death and other cases that he has yet to see in VARES. And he has been trying to get the CDC to pay attention with no success.

      2. Terry Flynn

        As a non-medically trained med stats/health econ PhD I get this. I lived in literally the most affluent postcode in Australia for 6 years. Saw a VERY middle class dad drag his 5ish year old son across the street, who obviously had whooping cough. I knew from my job that affluency was inversely associated with vaccination in Oz. I loathed practically all my neighbours and “alternative health” providers for being “armchair statisticians”. But I understood that I lived in the parliamentary constituency of the (for part of the time) PM known as “the mad monk”. Oz and my home country of UK are family-blogged.

        I fear people will have to learn the hard way. Our family records from the 1970s are finally all digitised and accessible. I looked up all my 1970s childhood vaccinations and boosters. Nice matrix format, I’ll give them that. My mum swears she never missed one. She missed my final measles booster but the fact she got ALL the others (and back then with individual disease shots, was no mean feat) was pretty good! My sister is couple of years younger. Mum missed numerous shots. Sister got whooping cough and measles. Has had pneumonia twice due to weakened lungs. Yet she, working in health, is now questioning her covid vaccine. WTF?! I have 4 of the top 5 auto-immune conditions noted to have big increases after covid-19 infection. I’m seeing dermatologist next month. Sister and mother have referrals to cardiologist (and if I get referral I’m potentially in doodoo, having already had heart surgery in 2005).

        I “get” the “I’m being lied to” feeling, given so much else in politics. What I object to, on a personal level, is relatives or those providing me a service, who seek to lecture me on why *I* am the idiot. My barber became an armchair statistician (promoting David Icke – Brits wil LOL, the guy does identify some issues but the rest?????!). That has had a rather unfortunate effect on his business. I’m now an armchair barber. My hair is low maintenance – even more since a suspected covid-19 infection. Clippers, numbers 4 and 1 and two mirrors and I no longer need a barber. Well done, your lizard talk just made you even more part of the precarariat. Being the “armchair expert” works both ways. I don’t say this with pride. He’s a good man. I’ve got to know his family well and helped with google maps business setup to aid in his marketing – they’re from Eastern Europe and are truly the kind of people needed to be showcased to show “integration” etc. Making ME feel uncomfortable when you’re chopping round my earlobes and getting “animated” is just as bad as my lot lecturing you about vaccination. I don’t lecture you when getting haircut. Why give me lizard-talk? Just another example of how this really isn’t working out well.

      3. Alfred

        INTJ here. I am one who does my research as thoroughly as possible, and take responsibility for my own decisions because I know no one has my back where my health is concerned. When I was growing up in the 50s-60s, I had wonderful family doctors and got good care. Into my 20s, I still had good doctors, and then something happened. In MD, where I lived for 25 years, BS-BC was upended by graft and scandal, and that was it. And I got older, and I wasn’t bringing the “average age” down on policies in the workplace any more, so I had age leprosy. I am healthier now than I have been in years through keeping to myself, adjusting my eating habits to suit my needs, and choosing my stress, and believe it or not, being on disability and not having extra money has helped too (I’m neurodivergent, so people leaving me alone is welcome).
        I am holding off for approved, preferably killed virus vaccines because I can and I don’t want to introduce any new risks because I live alone in the woods. No liability–to me that means stay away.

      4. petal

        IM Doc, my guess is they have to finish going through the whole FDA approval process, not just EUA. Reckon after they’ve been fully approved, then we will get those wonderful commercials.


        “Product claim ads are the only type of ads that name a drug and discuss its benefits and risks. However, these ads must not be false or misleading in any way. We encourage companies to use understandable language throughout product claim ads that are directed to consumers.

        All product claim ads, regardless of the media in which they appear, must include certain key components within the main part of the ad:

        -The name of the drug (brand and generic)
        -At least one FDA-approved use for the drug
        -The most significant risks of the drug”

        More at the link.
        Someone please correct me if I’m wrong. Thought I’d take a stab at it.

      5. grayslady

        IM Doc, I suspect your reasoning is correct for the area in which you live–which you have previously indicated is reasonably well-to-do. However, there are many people who can’t take off work, or don’t have transportation to a vaccination site, or don’t have someone to look after their kids while they get the shot. Others, who don’t have green cards, may still not entirely believe that someone isn’t going to find out about them and deport them. Too many people still believe it’s easy to get a vaccine now, but even here in the Chicago area we’ve seen how Walgreens has managed to discourage people by having a completely unworkable system. There has also been, imo, far too much dependence on computer-driven information. The poor and many of the elderly don’t depend on computers the way we commenting at NC do. I still believe there are many who could be vaccinated if we took a more human approach to them and understood their limitations.

        1. IM Doc

          I agree.

          These issues are not common in my area. But this is an entire bag of worms which my colleagues back in the big city have been screeching about for weeks. I think the most frustrating thing to them is no effort seems to be happening to help the situation.

          There is some movement with the locked-in elderly. But all the other issues you describe are real and ongoing.

      6. chuck roast

        Not quite Doc…there are five or six coneheads like me who have been avoiding the mouth-breathers and hoping that the J&J jab (AKA the vaccine the pols hate) would show up in the tri-state region. A few doses came and went, but the coneheads could not be sure that we would get the desired jab and instead be subjected to the mRNA dual pops. We remain lurking in the weeds, gobbling zinc and vitamin D and ready at a moments notice to leap into the breech. Inshallah…

        1. Acacia

          Personally, I’m holding out for senso-ring delivery of vaccine goodness, instead of old skool jabs. But I suspect the shipment from Remulak has been held up by dastardly Trump’s space force.

      7. cudlly

        but what could they do about it? Seems to me the opportunity for that is long gone to quote from above: “Mass media punditry is divided on where to assign the blame for the plummet in public opinion of their work… The one thing they all seem to agree on is that it’s definitely not because the billionaire-controlled media are propaganda outlets which manipulate us constantly in conjunction with sociopathic government agencies to protect the oligarchic, imperialist status quo upon which the members of the billionaire class have built their respective kingdoms. It cannot possibly be because people sense that they are being lied to and are fed up with it.”

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      I imagine Atrios (Mr. Eschaton? Really?) isn’t read by randos so he has no one to offend. He isn’t losing anyone, but he is addressing the idea vaccine reluctance for any reason can be solved by having George W. Bush sing a diddy from Hamilton.

  2. Laughingsong

    Just contributed, not as much as I would have liked but ya caught us on the mortgage paycheck with an extra serving of auto insurance, and we’re skint. I will add the rest in two weeks, I hope you don’t mind Lambert!

  3. Terry Flynn

    re Bayes Theorem. Spiegelhalter noted the ruckus over describing this as “obscure”. On the one hand people should know that he is very very much a Bayesian and IIRC has been pretty associated with the “Empirical Bayesian” methods used to underpin studies done for NICE to decide what new medical interventions the UK NHS should fund – look him up. These are controversial, if for no other reason that the number of people able to understand, let alone review, some of these studies has allegedly been less than ten. I’ve personally witnessed big stand up arguments at conferences BETWEEN Bayesians as to whether they’re losing the fight by “pulling up the drawbridge”.

    On the other hand, I’ve presented to audiences at Cambridge that contain him twice (maybe more – I think he might be one of those experts who comments if you’re really bad or really good but says nothing if you’re average). He was one of the most gracious and constructive critics I encountered. Personally, though I sometimes have issues with his methods, I NEVER ignore him nor write off what he says. If nothing else, he is excellent at putting risk into context – when my mother went ape over the supposed blod clot risk of the vaccine I quoted to her his comparison with risk of flying (which she loved to get her sunshine). He isn’t afraid to revisit data and change his mind, but he’s always honourable IMHO.

    Declaration of interest: never published or worked with the guy but have taken to heart his comments to my presentations at the Cambridge Biostatistics Unit in a former life.

      1. Foy

        Good pick up Dan, great interview most intriguing, thanks for posting.

        “In CoV-2 we have over a hundred million cases and they all trace through one patient: a patient the end of December at the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) hospital in Wuhan, about three kilometers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). That patient had what was called Lineage A. Every CoV-2 in the entire world is a descendant of that one.”

        I recall reading about stored blood samples that were taken prior to Dec 2019 that tested positive to the virus or had antibodies to the virus. These samples had been taken and stored for other medical purposes at the time. I thought there were some samples like this in Italy indicating it was believed to be present there earlier than the initial early breakout. For example the Italian woman below had a biopsy in Nov 2019.


        Wonder how that fits in with the hypothesis. Or maybe that was the start of muddying the waters if I stick my tin foil hat on. The things that make you go hmmmmm.

      2. Yves Smith

        This paper is utter garbage. On its first text page, it cites a Chinese study that was debunked by microbiologists for its put-foot-in-mouth-and-chew assertions that SARS-COV-2 could not be natural because a certain section of its DNA was just like HIV. Guess what? Just about every virus, not just HIV, contains that sequence!

        This is why I have zero tolerance of these lab theory discussion. All of them have been rubbish.

        Do not ever bring this up again. This is now looking like CT types and anti-China interests beating a dead horse.

        1. skippy

          I got as far as Bayesian before bells started going off … lmmao.

          Still wrangling the Econ Bayesian’s, ugh.

        2. jrkrideau

          Thanks Yves. I got up to Pg. 10 of that piece of garbage and was wondering if it was a legal brief or just some bizarre bit of propaganda. I skimmed through a bit more and was amazed.

          I think I will settle for propaganda. When I noticed he was using p <= 0.05 in a Bayesian analysis I went for bizarre and incompetent propaganda. I certainly have never seen a real scientific paper that that weird.

    1. Procopius

      It’s hard to understand because it’s logical (i.e., mathematical) and counter-intuitive. You don’t even have to get into Bayesian Theory. There’s a famous probability case called the Monty Hall Problem. The question raged in high school (and some college) math courses for years back in the ’90s. Maybe it still does. Students even wrote computer simulations to empirically test the un-intuitive results, which were absolutely correct.

  4. Wukchumni

    Global groundwater wells at risk of running dry Science

    When the 2012-16 drought was in full swing, East Porterville became the poster child for wells going tilt, but the press never mentioned how shallow they were, 50-100 feet, and in a very poor area where drilling a new spendy deeper well was out of the question.

    The real urgency is more @ the 1,200 foot level in some locales in the CVBB-where deep wells have been hitting brackish water, which would mean game so over for a good many orchards, in light of farmers being informed they’ll be getting 5% of their usual allocation of state water from up north, and they are almost completely dependent on well water.

    1. Carolinian

      I read that Vegas is preparing a pipe to reach down below the soon to be bare intake and get more of that Lake Mead water. Or, to quote a certain P.T.Anderson movie, they are putting their straw in our milkshake.

      And speaking of movies, good Water Cooler news on the Oscar front: Aaron Sorkin and his film were shut out totally. This may not discourage him from the upcoming Ricardos, however, with Nicole Kidman as you know who.

      1. Wukchumni

        …and just like so many cities, real estate is going gangbusters in Pavlovegas @ present, which would be my cue to get the heck out of dodge if I owned a home there, to beat the forced exodus on a failed come bet.

        Tourists staying/eating in hotels/casinos use proportionately more water than local residents, so the loosening up in casinos with Covid restrictions allowing more rooms and occupancy comes at a high cost in this, the dryest i’ve ever seen the southwest all at once. The idea that LV has been treating and recycling a good amount of water is about as far as you can go in keeping the faucets going and the toilet flowing, but we’re reaching a point of no return with the Colorado River not only going dry, but upriver users are in want of wet too, with lesser amounts of the water pie to divide & conquer thirst.

  5. math-is-the-easy-part

    The obscure maths theorem that governs the reliability of Covid testing… If you took this test entirely at face value, then you’d be scaring a lot of people, and sending them for intrusive, potentially dangerous medical procedures, on the back of a misdiagnosis.” • I must confess I don’t find that example all that easy, maybe because I dom’t want to think about the odds of having a disease.

    This is a poor example poorly explained. The Bayes framework asks, given what I already know about a statistical problem (my priors), how does this test add to my information? In this example, the assumption is that you already know that “just one person in every 10,000 has it” – so the precision of your prior information is 1 in 10,000 or 0.01%. Now you’re going to apply a test with an error rate of 1 in 100, i.e. a precision of 1%. That is not going to increase your information. So this framing doesn’t make much sense.

    In the real world, you generally don’t know how many people have a disease, that is why you’re testing…If your prior is something vague like “its probably fewer than 20%” then the test will help, because the test has more precision than your prior.

    As for testing 1,000,000 people and getting potential 10,000 false positives, there’s an easy solution. Test them again! In the second round you should get only 100 false positives. I think most people working in medical statistics already know this…

    1. Jeff W

      “This is a poor example poorly explained.”

      I agree. Like lambert, I didn’t find the example all that easy, either. I think it’s because the example does not explain where the 10,098 comes from.

      Ninety-nine people correctly get a positive result (i.e., they have the disease) and 9,999 people incorrectly get a positive result (i.e., they don’t have the disease): 99 + 9999 = 10,098 or, that is, everyone who got a positive result, rightly or wrongly. So, your chances of being one of the 99 who actually have the disease given a positive result is 99 out of 10,098 or a little under 1%.

      For those who might be interested, Grant Sanderson of the amazing 3Blue1Brown YouTube channel (which always deserves a plug) explains Bayes Theorem in his usual incomparable way—and, along the way, touches on the (in)famous “Linda problem” [PDF].

    2. Terry Flynn

      Exactly. Repeat testing is the “solution” I didn’t know when presenting my PhD work to Spiegelhalter, but which I learnt (in a quite different context and phrased differently) in my post-doctoral work, influenced by mathematical psychology and academic marketing.

      There is only ONE type of clinical trial that properly seeks to understand “how consistently something works” in medicine. The “n-of-1-trial”. A patient receives the intervention (say) 8 times and the placebo 8 times (16 periods of treatment), with usual rules on nobody knowing which, with order of intervention/placebo randomised. One problem. It’s incredibly expensive and resource intensive to run. But the ONLY design that gives you all the info you need (a VARIANCE separate from the mean). Colleagues at Bristol were looking at it in the noughties. Bayesians annoyed me with their “just use a flat prior” answer to the problem you outline. That’s not a genuinely helpful solution. Indeed it just collapses to classical stats IIRC.

  6. glaucus nais

    Re: the downward trend in covid positivity. The fact is that the US still lags behind (at a rate of 12.5 over the last month) most EU countries on testing rates per confirmed cases. Paired with this is the lack of social need to carry out tests in areas that outperform the EU in vaccine distribution. This then begs the question as to whether that (reported) decline is legitimate or merely a partial result of testing protocols/frequency…

  7. cocomaan

    As a Pennsylvanian, I can understand the bizarre reporting error. Vaccine distribution in my state has been an embarrassment. Huge surpluses of vaccines in rural mountain counties, with the collar counties of Philadelphia whining about how they couldn’t get any. Have to wonder how many went in the trash.

    Most of the people I know that have gotten one has virtually gotten it by accident (showing up and seeing if they have any extra at EOB) or lying and saying that they’re a cigarette smoker (know more than one person who did this).

    I know 90 year olds who couldn’t get it and 45 year olds who did because they were payroll desk jockeys for an ‘essential’ corp. Dumb.

    Now, all of a sudden, there’s huge amounts of vaccine all over the place and outlets like Penn Medicine are begging people to come.

    Welcome to Pennsylvania, where we’re neither #1 or #50 on any measure, but somehow manage to do things worse than everyone else.

    1. cocomaan

      Don’t want to clutter up the comments section, so I’m replying to myself, but I wondered if the reason that we’re seeing cases/deaths going down at the same time as vaccine uptake is that all the extroverts and restaurant-goers have all gotten their vaccines. So the people doing the most hobnobbing and such are set with their vaccine and thus not spreading it anymore.

      The inspiration for this idea was a meme I saw recently. It went something like this: “It took the pandemic for me to realize that many people’s entire personality was based around going to restaurants.”

      Someone should institute a quick Myers Briggs at the door to see if the I or E’s are getting vaccinated.

    2. IM Doc

      Please correct me if I am recalling this incorrectly.

      One of the most hilarious stories coming out of COVID so far I believe happened in Philadelphia. Early on in the vaccine push, the county had handed over the vaccine logistics to a company of millenials. The ensuing fiasco was just hilarious to read. The fact that it was ever allowed is staggering.

      I think that was in Philly – I may be incorrect.

      It appears things started in PA with a bomb and never turned around.

      1. cocomaan

        Yep, you got it. 22 year old (might even qualify as a Gen Z at that point).


        And here’s the article about the shortchanging of the Philadelphia counties:


        And if you’re really masochistic, here’s a great incidence of “Grifters gonna grift” when it comes to wealthy Chester County and their thousands of useless testing kits. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9312803/Pennsylvania-county-blocks-workers-sharing-job-related-info-COVID-scandal.html

        PA is the poster child for incompetence. Somehow, we have managed not to have the absolute worst numbers in the country, but it isn’t for lack of trying.

        1. Big Tap

          Yep I’m in Montgomery County which is in SE Pennsylvania next to Philadelphia. Several months back you couldn’t get a Covid-19 vaccine appointment no matter how hard or long you tried. Many frustrated people were mad at the system you had to navigate to try futilely to make an appointment. At that time they also lacked adequate supply of vaccines. I’m glad the county finally now have enough vaccines available. In the state you now can receive one from age16 up. Yeah the Phillies are bad to mediocre at best a .500 team.

      2. Shane

        Hahaha, millenials can’t do anything right, guffaw. Pretty loose words of condescension from someone upthread complaining about Lambert’s use of “chodes” — not that I necessarily disagree with you there, just pointing out a little casual hypocrisy.

        Even if that specific company did [familyblog] things up, who cares what their ages were? And for the record, millenials are between 25-40 now; it’s not like we’re all incompetent children.

        But I’m glad to see that in these trying times, you are able to find solace in the little things, like disasters in public health — as long as it’s the fault of those darn kids! I’ve read plenty of your other posts so I know you’re concerned about other aspects of the pandemic. I’m just curious where you draw the line between tragic and comic.

        1. IM Doc

          No intent to malign millenials – If it came across that way – I apologize – just trying to make it specific as possible because I could not remember the details. Because the whole thing was quite breathtaking.

          And the laughter is more directed at the absolute unbelievable grift that they pulled off – and that the elected officials allowed them to do. It would have been breathtaking no matter what age they were.

          It is just incompetence all around.

          And, again, I apologize. Health Care Workers across this country have been inundated with tragedies this whole year. I have not experienced anything like it since my time in the AIDS wards. Sometimes, we do point things out that are absolutely hilarious to us – but may come off as insensitive to others. Sorry about that.

          1. Shane

            Thank you for responding, and for this response. I believe you are sincere, and that your phrasing was just poorly construed. And you’re right: incompetence is surely a source of comedy, even if it is dark.

            I’m not usually one for “safe spaces,” but I think I reacted emotionally because I’m not used to seeing that here at NC. I don’t mind it in the dumb, “Millenials are ruining [insert industry]” because, as Caitlin Johnstone rightfully points out, why would anyone in their right mind trust the mainstream media at this point? It’s just the butt of a bad joke.

            But the sentiment it embodies is touchy for me. I’m likely not so unique among Millenials in thinking we really got a crap hand dealt to us. If it’s not climate catastrophe, it’s nuclear holocaust. Or trillionaire overlords. Or overpopulation. Or resource depletion. You get the point.

            My money’s on Gen Z being the generation that’s going to burn down the system that’s responsible for all these problems, and I’ll be right there supporting them when they do. I just hope it’s not too late.

            1. Swamp Yankee

              Shane, I wish you were right (older Millennial here): but my dealing with Gen Z students has convinced me they are even more docile and well-beaten than our own timid generation. They have never known a world without war, or really, economic dislocation. They are profoundly frightened, affected by the precarity all around them. True, they reject certain things — homophobia, say — that were regnant in my own youth. But they do not want to rock the boat, in my experience.

              Yes, yes, I know Lambert is opposed to reifying generations, but there are absolute historical differences that come from growing up in the 1930s vs. the 1950s, and etc.

  8. Lou Anton

    Last line in the Carolyn Everson email that is shared in the Kint tweet:
    “I will set my alarm for 1am and try to join the Cheryl call.”

    No way it’s worth it, Carolyn. Lean in elsewhere and elsehow.

  9. Tom

    Don’t know if this has made the rounds here, but Fareed Zakaria eviscerates the military industrial complex in this video. I haven’t had cable TV in a long time so I never see Fareed. Is he always this good? I like Kyle Kulinsky, but if he’s not your jam, at least ff to Fareed. Epic. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8ZiYtS10CM&t=2s

      1. Geo

        Agreed. Back when Zakaria was at Newsweek he was the reason I ended that subscription and never looked back. Used his “expertise” on the Middle East to push for the invasion of Iraq. Haven’t trusted him since. Doesn’t discount his good points but does make me question his motives always.

        Link: Invade Iraq, But Bring Friends
        BY FAREED ZAKARIA ON 8/04/02

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Blaming the MIC is always a bit of a red herring, not that the MIC is bad, but if he isn’t naming names or holding CNN to account, he’s just yelling at the wind. Will CNN’s Barbara Starr, the Pentagon PR flack, ever face Zakaria’s fury? The answer is a resounding no.

  10. shinola

    Re. the “Tenacious Unicorns” article:

    “… gun-loving, transgender, anti-fascist alpaca ranchers”

    I don’t recall reading, hearing or even imagining those descriptive terms strung together before. Gave me a good chuckle.

  11. Mary

    I bet no other reader can claim like me to have taken a course from Paul Linebarger at John’s Hopkins. It was a highlight of my time there! One glass eye, brilliant, a godson of Sun Yat-Sen, and science fiction writer.

    1. Procopius

      According to what I read about Cordwainer Smith years ago, he was very worried that if his superiors at the State Department found out he had written science fiction they would fire him, or at least curtail the overseas assignments he loved. I’m amazed that anyone with his knowledge of China was employed by the State Department at all, even this long after 1949.

  12. RockHard

    I’d argue that UML died because it’s just a tool with no process. It’s still useful, and like the author, I feel like Activity Diagrams are the best part, and maybe the only useful part. I’ll still draw them out for myself.

    Agile wasn’t the antidote to UML, it was supposed to be the antidote to top-down process. The whole point of Agile methodoligies was self-organizing teams that worked in tight feedback loops (XP took that to the, ahem, eXtreme). A big part of that is that the team should get the what from the business or the customer, and their job was to figure out the how.

    Then Agile became the buzzword, the executives had to get some Agile on their teams, all the consultants flooded over from whatever methodology to whatever chosen methodology, crapped in the pool, and now some of the signatories of the original Agile manifesto are saying Agile is dead, mainly because it’s a useless term.

    It’s not that I disagree with the article, I really liked this quote towards the end. I think comparisons with traditional engineering disciplines is pretty stretched, but I take the point to be that organizations don’t know how to manage anymore.

    No, it’s just that we have just given up on the engineering side of software. It is just a coding affair for now. I am not saying that those who write software aren’t engineers themselves; they largely are. The point is that, at the organisational level, software isn’t being engineered any longer, as per the equivalent processes and artifacts found in disciplines such as mechanical engineering.

    1. Glen

      Debating UML? Or Agile – that would be refreshing.

      My company’s managers have decided that they do not need people doing software to support the factory. Despite the fact that we are constantly pressed to continue automating the factory, and already have a highly automated factory.

      But engineers doing software are expensive so they just get rid of them.

    2. Skk

      I went to a seminar by Grady Booch, cocreator of UMl in 2004 in Boulder, CO on UML. I left thinking, ‘ this is the classic Last One” syndrome – meaning the desire to create a specify and automatically produce code for everything language ? Jeez hadn’t they heard of godel’s incompleteness theorem, Turing’s halting universal machine problem? and he worked for Rational Software, hmm I thought, this is IBM Bloat ?
      Re: Bayes theorem, hard it may be, but getting to grips with it is now a must. With the computations becoming increasingly tractable, the rationale for Fishers adhocery diminishes.

    1. Jen

      Lordy. My flock seems more than happy to putter around eating bugs and trimming what passes for a lawn. If it even occurred to me to try, I can’t imagine even one of them wanting to go for a stroll in a stroller.

  13. Kurtismayfield

    RE: Urban armed insurgency

    The moment there is any signs that this may happen, the states and the Federal agencies will crack down even harder than they did on the Black Panthers. Look at all of the states rigging their laws against protestors right at this very moment for the political will.

    I can see a continuous political effort by the protestors to neuter urban police forces. The trust in them by minority communities has completely deteriorated, with the whole defund the police movement showing it. I foresee the states taking control of some urban policing in the future to remove local political control. This will let the suburbanites voting blocs overwhelm the people who are fighting for accountability for the local police.

  14. marku52

    Just got back from a visit to Home Despot. Man, there are a lot of empty shelves. Last trip, they had no “old work” electrical boxes, this time it was all they had. The construction adhesive I bought last trip was empty shelf, had to try an alternate. Wander the Isles, lots of lost space.

    And the 8 foot Kiln Dried Tuba Fur that was about $2.80 2 months ago?, That sucker is now $8.50.

    And then I put $108 worth of gas in the truck, at $3.50 a gallon. That was about $2.85 a month ago.

    Mssrs Powell and Yellen assure me there is no inflation.

    Someone is whizzing on my shoes.

    1. Alfred

      Powell and Yellen live in the other dimension, where there is no Wall Street hanky panky either.

    2. Laura in So Cal

      Gasoline is over $4.00/gallon for regular here in So Cal. It held at $3.99 for a long while and last week, it finally tipped over.

      1. ambrit

        Wierd. Regionalism is a thing.
        Gasoline is $2.29 per US gallon at the “cheap” place here. It was below $2.00 per gallon for a while last year.
        The price spread between outlets has also increased. Not sure about in percentage terms, but our regional ‘spread’ is from $2.27 per at the usual cheapie outlets to $2.69 per, or .42 a gallon.

    3. petal

      This morning I decided to get some lunch meat for sammiches(I’ve only been eating dinner for a while and skipping brekkie and lunch). I thought “eh, I’ll slum it, save some $ and get a few slices of bologna for the week.” Got sticker shock. Wonderbar bologna was $6.99/lb, up from $3.50/lb that it had been at for as long as I can remember. Couldn’t believe it. One of those Bad Moon Rising signs.

      1. ambrit

        Agreed. The cheap cold cuts at the Winn Dixie deli were $6.49 per pound today. The “name brand” cold cuts were $9.99 per pound!
        Similar but less ‘sticker shock’ style price increases have crept in lately.
        We are also noticing some ’empty shelf’ situations as well. A mini-run on toilet paper and paper towels has just ended locally.
        Meanwhile, a local mini-chain bread bakery, fresh loaves daily, made in house, is looking strained, but hanging in there. They have traditionally catered to the PMC and PMC wannabe crowd. The physical location is right by the State University campus and “bedroom” community.
        People are very worried. There is a disturbance in the Force.

  15. chuck roast

    So, I’m counting two task forces, but I haven’t really been watching. There is one to study the Supreme Shysters and make recommendations, and now we have one to “promote unions.” Really…here is a geezer career politician that grew up in a blue-collar town, and he needs to “study” judges and unions? Forget the first 100 days, here is a guy who has failed 78 years.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      This is the explanation for Biden’s polling compared to Ford. He’s been in office for 100 days, and the $1400 checks are largely out and the child tax credit doesn’t start until July 1st. As long as Biden is committed to the filibuster (until he bothers to call Manchin and say please, he’s committed), his Presidency is done. Biden is throwing the power of the White House behind commission but not legislation by empowering Senators.

  16. Wukchumni

    “What’s your favorite fight of all time? Mine, I will go first, is Ali-Oscar Bonavena, which is not one of Ali’s best known fights and certainly not his greatest from a technical standpoint. But my god, what it said about him. It was his last tuneup before fighting Joe Frazier the first time at Madison Square Garden, but it was no picnic. Bonavena was not a great boxer but he was tough, he had never been knocked out and rarely knocked down. Ali got out ahead but Bonavena rallied late and it was tied going into Round 15. Ali was exhausted, totally spent, and for the first 1:30 he lumbered around the ring or laid on the ropes. The fight, it seems, is over and Bonavena wins. Then, out of nowhere, Ali floors him with a stunning right. Bonavena gets up but Ali knocks him down twice more, the fight is automatically over on three knockdowns in a round. An incredible moment. So, after all that, what’s your favorite fight, and it can be for political or artistic reasons? Or pick one of each. For me, Ali beating Foreman or taunting Floyd Patterson–“What’s my name?”–are the greatest political wins.”

    I grew up on The Sweet Science*, coming into the ring out of a neutral corner a year after Ali ‘s first pro bout, and he ruined me for other pugilists, as he was the complete package, a wiseacre heavyweight with happy feet who reigned supreme until I hit adulthood and age finally caught up to him.

    I saw him @ O’Hare in the early 80’s, and in the fleeting seconds our paths crossed, he was much larger in life than on tv.

    My interest (and a lot of other people) waned in boxing, and watching Ali box is a world away from UFC, where opponents just wail on one another with no holds barred pretty much, Queensbury Rules being so last century and dated.

    * My favorite book on sports, Liebling was one hell of a writer

  17. Wombat

    Bayes’ Theorem is foundational to what Statisticians and Public Health “Experts” should know, yet, now it is a little-known ANOMALY?

    “And that’s because of a fascinating little mathematical anomaly known as Bayes’s theorem.”

    I am definitely on the lookout for more of these snowclones in the coming months : “We are now learning [basic statistical or scientific principle]”, as the narrative walks back some kneejerk ideas of yore: “PCR Test Everybody!”

    1. chris

      Yes, that phrase caught my eye too. Someone who calls Bayesian theory “little known” is a person who should not be commenting on mathematics in general, statistics specifically, and anything to do with analytical modeling.

  18. diptherio

    “All it would take is an act of Congress to make the United States a multiparty democracy”

    All it would take…is for the most powerful people in the two party system to destroy that system. Gotcha.

  19. ChiGal in Carolina

    What a treat–some John Clarke I hadn’t seen! Didn’t discover him until he died and NC linked The Front Fell Off. I was so taken I saved a bunch of links. I guess they will always be relevant…

      1. rowlf

        The closing comments in the last ten or so seconds on each episode always kill me. They’re the cherry on top. Brilliant stuff for tone, pace and topic.

        I guess John Clarke got lucky and checked out before the politicians decided they could do the gags themselves.

  20. Skk

    Re: bayesian example. It’s criminal they is no ‘confusion matrix’ drawn there.When I did my refresher on Bayesian around 2007, I re-grokked via the example, the elisa test comes out positive for hiv, what are the chances you actually have hiv – drawing out the confusion matrix really helps.

  21. CloverBee

    Good article on UAW betraying Grad students, first at Columbia and currently at NYU: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2021/04/23/asop-a23.html

    “Since the strike authorization vote, the GSOC has stepped up its efforts to create conditions that would allow them to call off any strike action at the last minute. The GSOC has made significant concessions to the university, including further lowering wage demands from $38 per hour to $32 per hour and lowering remission on combined tuition for working Masters students from 100 percent to 40 percent.
    The lowering of these demands went against votes by the membership last week, and had not been communicated to GSOC members until after the proposals were presented to NYU.”

    “To take the control of these strikes out of the hands of the unions, we are calling for the formation of rank-and-file committees. In New York, across the US and internationally, such committees have already been formed among teachers as well as auto and Amazon workers. They are completely independent from the unions and the Democratic Party and answer to workers only. They advance demands based not on what the universities and corporations claim is “affordable” but what workers need.”

    Twitter now has an “Intelligence Workers Union” https://twitter.com/intelworkers and website https://intelligenceworkersunion.org/ … Which looks like a honeypot to help root out left-leaning spooks.

  22. enoughisenough

    “The United States is at risk of an armed anti-police insurgency”

    No. We are in MUCH bigger danger of living in a oppressive police state.

    (worse than the one we already have)

    1. Duke of Prunes

      But if TPTB gin up enough fear about this possiblity, then we will demand the oppression

    1. Michael Ismoe

      An Uber ride?

      Her BIL is responsible for turning Uber into a slave plantation by making sure there are no more “employees.” Maybe that worker reassignment was just a blueprint.

  23. none

    I may be misremembering (i.e. it may have been in Links or Water Cooler) but I think sometime in the past week, there was an NC post about the recent Covid surge in India. I can’t find it now. Am I confused? Was it deleted because of problems it might have had? I remember thinking some parts weren’t completely convincing, but other parts were interesting. I was trying to find it again to forward the link to someone.

    Edit: Aha, found it with a search engine: https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2021/04/the-covid-19-catastrophe-in-india-keeps-growing.html

    For some reason scrolling backwards didn’t find it, and using the India category link didn’t work either. Hmm.

  24. ambrit

    Zeitgeist Report
    Took Phyl to the “cheap” dentist for some filling work. (This ordeal is a story in and of itself.)
    While waiting outside, I walked over to the “cheap” Pharmacy to re-up some hypertension meds. Boy oh boy. While there I read, upside down, since the information was taped to the desk in front of the ‘assistant’ that takes and fills your prescription, the following information:
    “Prices for Cash Payment customers. Flu shots. $40 for 64 and under. $75 for 65 and above.”
    This floored me. I was seriously leery of asking there what the disparity meant. Does anyone here have relevant information? I am quite bewildered. Have I just encountered a new low in socio-cynicism?
    As a sidebar, the new Pharmacy has bullet proof glass between the ‘assistants’ station and the public space. A pass through trough beneath the glass partition for the transfer of physical items. I now recollect the same set up at the Water Department for paying the bills. The workers are physically separated from and ‘protected’ from the public. The New Normal?

      1. ambrit

        Thank you. I didn’t know that.
        Now to figure out why this state of affairs is so. Is compromised immunity considered a given for the over 65 group?
        See: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/highrisk/65over.htm#:~:text=The%20high%20dose%20vaccine%20(brand,vaccination%20(higher%20antibody%20production).
        I usually shy away from anything that leads with pictures of “Happy Smiling Perfect Living People” but there it is. All of America is now a “Free Meme Zone.”
        “Ready! Aim! Influence!”

  25. ChrisAtRU

    #TenaciousU … I want this on a t-shirt now!

    ” … a community of gun-loving, transgender, anti-fascist alpaca ranchers.”

    Gawd I love this family blog.

    And yes, good on them and rural America!

  26. allan

    Gun Owners Are Freaking Out on TikTok Over the Great Ammo Shortage of 2021 [Vice]

    … The ammunition shortage has also posed a bit of an obstacle for militia organizing. VICE News spoke with Reddit user Tactischink, 21, about his efforts to form a militia in his home state of Minnesota. He says that even if some of his friends were open to the idea of forming a militia, the cost of doing so was prohibitive. “They’re like, OK, that does sound kind of badass, but it’s a lot of money,” Tactischink said. “There’s a huge ammo shortage, so ammo is very, very expensive. I mean, we’re talking a dollar a round. If you want to buy a thousand rounds, you’re looking at a thousand dollars, which is a ton of money for people that are younger like myself.” A day at the range might end up using about 800 rounds. “It’s a very expensive sport to get into,” he added. …

    So does this add to or subtract from the Rapture Index?

  27. chris

    Sharing this because it speaks to some of the class and race juxtapositions discussed on NC in the last few months (e.g., the Smith College fiasco). This tweet from an influencer did not go off as planned I guess. He basically documents the moment where he forced a young man with mental health issues into a mental breakdown. The clerk was trying to fix a problem with a hotel reservation using what appears to be a frustrating computer system and the customer gave him no grace. It’s hard to watch.

    I had a conservative friend send me this from TAC today. I thought it would be of interest here too.

    1. Aumua

      Tariq Nasheed is not really known for being all that kind or level headed, which makes him a good foil for conservatives and actual racists to point at and say “look how awful that woke anti-racism is”. But also I really don’t agree with him on a lot of things. He is an extreme example.

      1. chris

        I agree that this is an extreme situation. That seems clear from the video and his responses to commenters. This can’t be anything close to common. It’s a better example of ableism than racism. I don’t think the backgrounds of the two people matter that much. One has issues and is overwhelmed. The other is a cruel jerk. But it’s Twitter. If you look for it you’ll find any kind of awful you want there. Like I said, sharing because the situation in general, where a more complicated situation is reduced purely to racial issues by some commenters, has been discussed on NC and this was another example.

Comments are closed.