2:00PM Water Cooler 4/7/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

At reader request, Birds of Australia. Duet with an insect.

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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:

That’s the stuff to give the troops. • Early in February, I said a simple way to compare Biden’s performance to Trump’s on vaccination would be to compare the curves. If Biden accelerated vaccine administration, the rate of vaccination post-Inaugural would kink upward, as the policies of a more effective administration took hold. They have not. The fragmented, Federalized, and profit-driven lumbering monstrosity that we laughingly call our “health care” “system” has not responded to “energy in the executive,” but has continued on its inertial path, albeit in an upward direction.

Case count by United States regions:

Long may the downward trend continue. It was caused by a drop in New York (see the chart of Big Sttates below). The Midwest is slowly rising, so see immediately below for a breakdown my state. All I can say is that if you have a system that has worked for you, keep at it. And avoid closed, crowded, close-contact settings, evem so-called outdoor dining. Don’t share air!

The Midwest in detail:

Michigan leads.

CT: “Experts: Increased restaurant capacity partly to blame for COVID surge in CT” [CTPost]. “Some health experts are concerned that loosening COVID restrictions, specifically restaurant capacity, has contributed to a new surge of cases in Connecticut. ‘Dine-in at restaurants is a risky activity because, by necessity, people can’t wear masks while eating, and most restaurants will not have the level of ventilation to make that indoors environment safe from airborne viral transmission,’ said Pedro Mendes, a researcher and professor in computational biology at UConn…. [T]he 5 percent daily COVID test positivity rate the state announced Tuesday follows a recent trend showing the continued spread of the coronavirus in the state.”

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

The big drop in New York, but flattening. Florida on the upswing.

Test positivity:


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

Capitol Seizure

“‘I Fed Him To The People’: Trump Fan Indicted For Dragging Cop Into Capitol Mob By The Neck” [HuffPo]. • Well, that’s the sort of thing that happens in a riot.

Biden Administration

“‘A moment of peril’: Biden’s coronavirus response collides with case spikes” [WaPo]. “For the first two months, all the coronavirus numbers broke in the Biden administration’s favor…, But the Biden White House is seeing new infections climb on its own watch — a potential crisis that could erase many of the hard-won gains of the president’s first 75 days, should the numbers keep rising. After railing for a year about the last administration’s response and vowing a more muscular strategy, Biden is encountering the limits of his own authority. The president can help secure and distribute supplies and medicines, issue guidance and urge caution — but like Donald Trump before him, he has few tools when governors decide to lift coronavirus protections at the wrong moment, manufacturers botch vaccine production, or Americans refuse to wear masks or get vaccinated.” • Who knew? More: “After three coronavirus surges under Trump, most experts say a “fourth wave” is unlikely given the accelerating pace of vaccinations and the number of Americans who have acquired natural immunity after being infected by the virus. But the trends have alarmed some public health experts, who are calling on Biden to adopt strategies to speed up shots or take a harder line with states relaxing restrictions. On Tuesday, the president announced he was moving up the deadline for all adults to be eligible for vaccines to April 19, although that doesn’t guarantee they will be able to be inoculated right away.”

UPDATE Infrastructure (1):

Yglesias is, in fact, right. Isn’t the Obama Alumni Association supposed to know something about message discipline?

UPDATE Infrastructure (2):

I am actually here for Americana. For example, it would be a Good Thing if Roadside America had survived with government help. Surely we fund far less worthy endeavors?

UPDATE “Jill Biden announces plans to aid military families in next phase of her agenda” [USA Today]. “‘Just 1% of our country has shouldered the burden of 20 years of war,’ [Dr. Jill] Biden said, standing before stacks of video screens of faces in an auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. ‘No one has more strength and grit and resilience than our military families but you can’t do this alone, we have to help you carry the weight.'” • No one? Really? During a pandemic? As I wrote:

I do not recall anybody in a position of authority — political class, business leaders, academia, the various churches — thanking the American people for their (touch wood) efforts in masking, social distancing, and all the other non-pharmaceutical efforts they did. We never did achieve the level of compliance that China, or Korea, or Taiwan, or New Zealand, or Australia did, but still we made enormous efforts, in the face of universal official incompetence and wretched messaging, and our collective efforts had good success, better IIRC than most of Europe, let alone Brazil.

And did anybody say thank you? I can’t recall a single one. All we get is shaming and scolding — those beach pictures — along with fear-mongering. And the elites wonder why their PR machine isn’t working as well as it once did.

Such a stupid, unimaginative project. By contrast (hat tip Steve):

Republican Funhouse

“The congressman and his wingman” [Politico]. “[Rep. Matt Gaetz, the Florida Republican], a fierce Donald Trump ally who denies having sexual relations with a 17-year-old and prostitutes….” • Unlike Cuomo (or for that matter Biden (and Trump (and Clinton))) no accusers have come forward. What we do have is FBI leaks, which if you’re a good liberal who believes whatever the FBI says means everything’s jake with the angels. (To be clear, if Gaetz did have relations with a 17-year-old, that is a bad thing, but there no evidence of that has been shown to the public.)

AOC is correct, and good for her:

Clinton Legacy

“Chelsea Clinton podcast to launch April 13” [ABC]. “Chelsea Clinton will draw upon her background in politics, international relations and public health as she interviews guests ranging from Jane Fonda to Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.” • Lol, iHeartMedia is a rebranding of the famously reactionary Clear Channel.

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE “The Great Protest Wave” [Noah Smith, Noahpinion]. “In 2019, the world exploded in protest. There were massive, prolonged demonstrations in Hong Kong, in Chile and Venezuela and Bolivia and Colombia and Ecuador, in Russia and Spain and France, in Iraq and Iran and Lebanon and Algeria, in Indonesia and Haiti…. Even the arrival of a once-in-a-century pandemic didn’t douse the flames of unrest for long. The U.S. saw the biggest eruption of protests in its history in the summer of 2020, and those demonstrations were echoed across much of the world. The people of Belarus and Myanmar have poured into the streets in existential struggles against their dictatorial governments. India has had two entirely separate massive waves of demonstrations.” • That’s the buildup. Then: “If I were forced to make a conjecture about the most important driver of unrest, my guess would be that it was the result of a general realization that bad people are running the world.” I’m with you so far. Then: “If we look at the global unrest as a general backlash against the encroachment of authoritarianism and unfreedom, we can see the protests as a sort of test of local regimes. Overall, liberal regimes are passing the test and illiberal regimes are failing it. It really does matter what kind of country you live in.” • What does “passing” mean? Xi (authoritarian) is more firmly in the saddle than ever. Ditto Modi. Isn’t that success? This piece is well worth a read as a starting point, but IMNSHO that’s all. For my money, the takeaway is that Gene Sharp’s framework has run its course, exactly because “bad people are running the world,” if the operational definition of “bad” is “lacking a conscience that can be appealed to. (This is why, dear readers, I keep focusing on Myanmar in links; it’s a natural experiment.)

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics of interest today.

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Marketing: “Digital ad spend grew 12% in 2020 despite hit from pandemic” [CNBC]. “Despite an initial falloff due to the Covid pandemic, digital advertising spending grew 12.2% year over year in 2020, according to a new report commissioned by the Interactive Advertising Bureau and conducted by PwC. But the report also showed the largest players in the ecosystem further entrenched their hold on the U.S. digital ad market in 2020, commanding more share year over year.”

Retail (1): Kill it with fire:

Retail (2): Not that:

Real Estate: “Golf Courses Reborn as Warehouse Centers in E-Commerce Rush” [Bloomberg]. “Since the mid-2000s, golf has been suffering from fewer players and more course closures. The pandemic has giving the sport a boost because it offers both outdoor entertainment and social distancing. But as other leisure activities resume, many expect the sport’s headwinds to pick up again. That’s caught the attention of investors seeking to cash in on the warehouse boom. In New York, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and other states,warehouses are rising on parcels of land formerly occupied by golf courses. And among the tenants developers have drawn to these sites are Amazon and UPS. Online shopping during the pandemic has made warehouses one of the hottest corners of commercial real estate.”

Shipping: “Winners and Losers of the Suez Blockade” [Hellenic Shipping News]. “Moiris also noted that ‘even one week of blockage has had an impact in commodities trading, adding to the ton miles through the deviation of Cape of Good Hope for those vessels that decided to do so. Supply chain disruptions via delivery delays and increased congestion at discharging ports at a 2nd stage are expected to extend well beyond the next week. Finally, it is worth noting that such incident might put back into focus the importance of economies of scale of the larger vessel classes, particularly in an increased bunkers consumption context that might be triggered and the relevant asset value differences revisited’, he concluded.”

The Bezzle: “WeWork Or, Give People Money” [Yasmin Nair]. “WeWork was a venture built on a steamy, sliding, stinking pile of bullshit, but few were willing to call it out at the time, seduced by the promise of massive profits. It glorified the worst of neoliberal work conditions, and its gorgeous interiors and communal style workspaces helped mask the fact that nearly everyone in those airy, pretty spaces was chasing dreams bound to extinction before they started. Do you need a calm, nurturing environment in which to craft a hundred pitches to people who will never respond because those jobs have already gone to their cousins and classmates? Here you go, desks and free micro-roasted coffee, tea, and fruit water! Phone booths! Wi-Fi! Did we mention fruit water? Eventually, as these things must, WeWork melted into a puddle of financial incoherence and disaster but, of course, [Founder Adam] Neumann walked off with more than enough: $1.7 billion.” • Solid invective from beginning to end, well worth a read.

Travel: “Carnival considers shifting home ports if U.S. sailing ban not lifted-CEO” [Reuters]. “Advance bookings for 2022 are stronger than they had been for 2019, the company said. ‘Carnival’s 2022 bookings are currently ahead of pre-pandemic levels — proving that demand for cruising isn’t completely dead,’ Hargreaves Lansdown equity analyst Laura Hoy wrote in a note. ‘Now the group just has to stay afloat long enough to capture it.'” • Buff those Petri dishes!

The Fed; “U.S. jobs progress still far short of Fed’s ‘substantial’ tripwire” [Reuters]. “The U.S. job market may have picked up steam in March, but the improvement was only a small step towards the Federal Reserve’s threshold for considering reining in its massive support for the economy. That’s the signal from a broad index of labor market indicators developed by Cornerstone Macro economist Roberto Perli and which includes an array of statistics U.S. central bank officials have placed at the center of their analysis of the economy. Perli’s index, using data since 1990, improved following the addition of nearly a million jobs to U.S. payrolls in March. Nevertheless, the unemployment rate at 6% is more than 1.5 times above the low levels reached early last year. Other factors policymakers consider important in their analysis of the job market are even farther from their strongest readings. The March bump in jobs was ‘nice to see,’ Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester said this week on CNBC. But ‘we need more of those kind of job reports coming out to actually make more progress than we’ve seen thus far … I think we need to be very deliberately patient in our approach to monetary policy.'”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 62 Greed (previous close: 64 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 51 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). One year ago, just after the end of the Before Times: 26 (Extreme Fear). Last updated Apr 7 at 12:23pm.

Health Care

“Outdoor transmission accounts for 0.1% of State’s Covid-19 cases” [Irish Times]. “Just one confirmed case of Covid-19 in every thousand is traced to outdoor transmission, new figures reveal. Of the 232,164 cases of Covid-19 recorded in the State up to March 24th this year, 262 were as a result of outdoor transmission, representing 0.1 per cent of the total. There were 42 outbreaks associated with outdoor gatherings, with one community outbreak accounting for seven cases. This involved an outdoor work activity which took place between two separate families, according to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) which monitors case numbers in the Republic.” • So please stop shaming people for open air activities:

I confess to the same feelings about maskless joggers earlier in the pandemic, when I didn’t understand about aerosols. The moral: Don’t shame people over “the science,” because they won’t forget it, and the science can change!

“Contextualizing the risks of indirect COVID-19 transmission in multi-unit residential buildings” [National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health]. The subheads: “Suspected causes of MURB [multi-unit residential buildings] outbreaks: Suspected causes of MURB outbreaks… Faulty ventilation systems…. Air leakage or unintentional air flows… Faulty plumbing stacks.” • Commentary:

The article and the thread are extremely important and interesting (and I’m sure that HVACers, and plumbers, and building mavens generally will really enjoy it.

“UK coronavirus variant now most common strain in US, CDC head says” [The Hill]. “‘Based on our most recent estimates from CDC surveillance, the B.1.1.7 variant is now the most common lineage circulating in the United States,’ Walensky said at a White House press briefing. ‘The virus still has hold on us, infecting people and putting them in harm’s way and we need to remain vigilant,” she added. ‘We need to continue to accelerate our vaccination efforts and to get vaccinated when we can.”” • Rachel Walensky, neo-liberal goon. I found the transcript, and of course Walensky is totally entrenched on suppressing and denying aerosol transmission, and butchering guidance generally:

[WALENSKY:] We have to recognize the high risk of infection in areas of high community transmission. I encourage communities to consider adjustments to meet their unique needs and circumstances. For example, in areas of substantial or high community transmission, CDC guidance specifically suggests refraining from youth sports that are not outside and cannot be conducted at least six feet apart. Similarly, large events should also be deferred.

Six feet or three feet, Doctor? This after her own agency published (see yesterday’s Water Cooler) a fine study showing aerosol transmission.

The images were taken via electron microscopy and combined in post:

Impressive (and impressive PR by on-the-ropes AstraZenaca?)

We’re #1! We’re #1! (at least in body count):

“Reactogenicity Following Receipt of mRNA-Based COVID-19 Vaccines” [JAMA]. Optimistic conclusion, but this is the method: “To facilitate rapid assessment of COVID-19 vaccines, in 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) established v-safe, a new active surveillance system for collecting near–real-time data from COVID-19 vaccine recipients in the US. V-safe participants voluntarily self-enroll and receive periodic smartphone text messages to initiate web-based health surveys from the day of vaccination (day 0) through 12 months after the final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.6 From day 0 through day 7 after each vaccine dose, participants are asked questions about solicited local and systemic reactions (eg, injection site pain, fatigue, headache). These solicited reactions do not include allergic reactions or anaphylaxis; however, v-safe does allow participants to enter free-text information about their postvaccination experience and asks about adverse health events (eg, received medical care). Medically attended events are followed up on through active telephone outreach; future analyses will address these adverse vaccine experiences. This report describes information on solicited local and systemic reactogenicity reported to v-safe on days 0 to 7 after each dose of vaccine from December 14, 2020, through February 28, 2021. Responses were limited to individuals who were vaccinated by February 21, 2021, to allow a 7-day reporting period after the day of vaccination.” • I see the phrasing, “Medically attended events are followed up on through active telephone outreach,” but I don’t see how that works. If a subject stops answering the phone (say, because of a blood clot), then what exactly is the protocol for “active telephone outreach”? If every such case is not run down, then isn’t that a form of adverse selection? Nevertheless, kudos to CDC for at least setting up an ambitious system.

“U.S. Bet Big on Covid Vaccine Manufacturer Even as Problems Mounted” [New York Times]. “More than eight years ago, the federal government invested in an insurance policy against vaccine shortages during a pandemic. It paid Emergent BioSolutions, a Maryland biotech firm known for producing anthrax vaccines, to have a factory in Baltimore always at the ready. When the coronavirus pandemic arrived, the factory became the main U.S. location for manufacturing Covid-19 vaccines developed by Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, churning out about 150 million doses as of last week. But so far not a single dose has been usable because regulators have not yet certified the factory to allow the vaccines to be distributed to the public. Last week, Emergent said it would destroy up to 15 million doses’ worth of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after contamination with the AstraZeneca vaccine was discovered. Emergent and government health officials have long touted their partnership as a success, but an examination by The New York Times of manufacturing practices at the Baltimore facility found serious problems, including a corporate culture that often ignored or deflected missteps and a government sponsor, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, that acted more as a partner than a policeman.” • BARDA had it’s problems when Trump arrived, but Trump certainly didn’t fix it; if anything, the reverse.

“A Cartoon Guide to Criticism: Scientist Edition” [Absolutely Maybe]. “Science is a profession where critique is integral to the work itself. So you might think we’d all have both criticizing, and handling being on the receiving end of it, down to a fine art. But you’d be wrong – as a rather spectacular recent blowout of norms by a prominent scientist [Ioannidis] reminded us. Sociologist Robert Merton pointed out in the 1960s that scientists also rely on the acceptance and recognition of their peers, so it’s no wonder things get heated…. I spent several years moderating a high-profile forum for scientific criticism, and my position about this is still broadly similar to the one I described in PLOS Medicine in 2014: I think we need a much stronger post-publication culture in science… Let’s get straight to my (rather wordy) cartoon guide to science criticism – and you can always just skip through the headings and cartoons…. Remember: just because you took it personally, it doesn’t mean it was personal. It gets harder if someone does make it personal (and that’s out of line), but try not to let their bad behavior get to you.” • With cartoons!

Under the Influence

“I Regret to Inform You I Have Once Again Written About The Baylor Influencer Twins” [Culture Study]. “Listen, there are people you encounter, however briefly, and end up living rent-free in your head for years. For me, that’s Brooklyn and Bailey, whose Instagram has become a rich text right at the intersection of Christian youth culture and influencer capitalism.” • Well worth a read.

“PIERS MORGAN: Khloé Kardashian’s horror at the public finding out how she really looks lays bare how her family have built a cynical multi-billion dollar empire from the exploitation of fake views” [Piers Morgan, Daily Mail]. “The photo of Khloé Kardashian in a leopard print bikini that’s gone viral this week is truly jaw-dropping. Because it’s real. No filters, no airbrushing, little make-up, hair scraped back in a ponytail – just a picture of how Ms Kardashian actually looks. By comparison to all her heavily enhanced, carefully-staged glamour publicity photos, her waistline is significantly less defined, her curves less dramatic and her skin not so impossibly smooth. It’s Khloé unvarnished, flaws and all….. An errant assistant – who I fear may now be resting in concrete under LA’s 405 freeway – accidentally posted the image, taken by Khloé’s grandmother during the family’s weekend Easter get-together, online.”

Our Famously Free Press

“Watch How 60 Minutes Deceptively Edited Ron DeSantis’s Full Answer on Publix Vaccinations” [National Review (Montana Maven)]. “CBS’s 60 Minutes alleged that Florida governor Ron DeSantis enlisted grocery chain Publix to help with coronavirus vaccine distribution because of a campaign contribution, but edited DeSantis’s full response to the allegation…. However, 60 Minutes omitted a key section of DeSantis’s response, in which he states that the first pharmacies to take charge of vaccine distribution were CVS and Walgreens, and were initially tasked with vaccinating residents of long-term care facilities.” • I hate this.

Class Warfare

“Wealth of world’s billionaires rose $5 trillion amid pandemic, Forbes list finds” [ABC]. • Everything’s going according to plan!

“Michael O Church’s Theory of 3 Class Ladders in America (Archive)” [Michael Church (km)]. The introduction: “Typical depictions of social class in the United States posit a linear, ordered hierarchy. I’ve actually come to the conclusion that there are 3 distinct ladders, with approximately four social classes on each. Additionally, there is an underclass of people not connected to any of the ladders, creating an unlucky 13th social class. I’ll attempt to explain how this three-ladder system works, what it means, and also why it is a source of conflict. The ladders I will assign the names Labor, Gentry, and Elite. My specific percentage estimates of each category are not derived from anything other than estimation based on what I’ve seen, and my limited understanding of the macroeconomics of income in the United States, so don’t take them for more than an approximation. I’ll assess the social role of each of these classes in order, from bottom to top. This is, one should note, an exposition of social class rather than income. Therefore, in many cases, precise income criteria cannot be defined, because there’s so much more involved. Class is more sociological in nature than wealth or income, and much harder to change. People can improve their incomes dramatically, but it’s rare for a person to move more than one or two rungs in a lifetime. Social class determines how a person is perceived, that person’s access to information, and what opportunities will be available to a person.” • I’m not sure I agree with the structure in detail. For example, I don’t think “gentry” has the right connotations for the PMC. (Gentry, for me, connotes locality, but locality is exactly what the cosmopolitan PMC have left behind; see Chris Arnade’s Dignity. As they say: “Why don’t you move?”) An update from Church here.

“Get Thee to a Phalanstery or, How Fourier Can Still Teach Us to Make Lemonade” [Public Domain Review]. “Fourier was insistent that we need not force a violent revolution in order to usher in a new age; we just need to rearrange some of our social mechanisms and better regulate our intimate relations. Everything else would follow smoothly and swiftly in its wake. Removing obstacles was paramount, and the main obstacles in Fourier’s eyes were what we today call compulsory monogamy, wage slavery, alienated labor, financial insecurity, and finance capitalism. (And also bread. Fourier was not a fan of bread.) By banishing monogamy, people would no longer be obliged to cheat, lie, and sneak. Love, whether spiritual or physical, would be allowed to flourish whenever and however it began to blossom, and bitterness and resentment would subsequently evaporate almost overnight. (Strangely, while Fourier had a great faith in the motivational spur of comradely rivalry, he had little trepidation about the dark power of jealousy as an entrenched human — perhaps even animal — trait.) Wages are, for Fourier, a scourge, and should be replaced by a dividend or share of profits, and no one should be obliged to toil for a pittance. Monotonous work is to immediately be replaced by many different tasks, all vital to the community, and all intimately connected to the sense of worth and accomplishment of the clan. (Or what he called a Series.) Fourier imagined vigorous and friendly competition between the pear-growers and the apple-growers, for instance. But even so, a pear-grower would perhaps move to the woodshop later in the afternoon, before attending a rehearsal of her new play a couple of hours after that, all in order to honor the papillonnage, or butterfly-like caprice, of human attention.” • So Fourier anticipated the attention economy? (I like the word papillonnage, an activity the platforms wish to pin in place.

News of the Wired

Trigger warning: Susan Saradon. Open for the punchline:

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AP writes: “Magnolias bursting at Cincinnati’s Theodore Berry Friendship Park.”

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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. drumlin woodchuckles

    About that big lizard in the store, I suspect this happened in Australia. Despite the poor quality of the audio, I think I heard a few words and I think the accent was Australian. So the lizard is one of the goanna monitor-lizards, but technically not a komodo dragon.

    1. petal

      When I was over there, my Aussie friend said they have poor eyesight, and so they’ll try to climb you if they get spooked and bc you kind of resemble a tree, and that their claws would shred you to bits. We had planned a camping trip to his family’s bush property so he was educating me about the wildlife to watch out for, which included goannas.

      1. Tom Stone

        I sounded like an adult on the phone while still a child and at the age of eight called the SPCA and told them that I’d be happy to take either a Gorilla or a Komodo dragon off their hands if one showed up.
        I was inspired by our neighbor Mr Rutledge who kept a baby Rhino in his back yard for a while.
        About a year later my mother answered the phone and it was the SPCA.

    2. ObjectiveFunction

      Singapore has two kinds of monitors, amphibious scavengers who have stepped neatly into the riverside niches vacated by crocodiles. It’s unusual on the many riverside trails not to see at least one. The very common water monitors (which this is not, wrong coloration) can get quite impressively big, like nearly 5 feet not including tail. Doberman size. This might be the other species, but it is far smaller and more timid.

      Also, throughout Southeast Asia, minimarts have stepped neatly into the roadside niches vacated by Chinese variety store shopkeepers.

      ….So it is entirely possible this is Thailand, or pretty much anyplace in SEA. (Except the Philippines where a lizard that big near people would long ago have been trapped and eaten)

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      >I confess to the same feelings about maskless joggers earlier in the pandemic, when I didn’t understand about aerosols.

      Haven’t you seen the videos of the plumes these unmasked trail behind them that you them are walking straight into if sharing a sidewalk or narrow enough trail?

      Confusion abounds.

      1. Kyle

        A bit of anecdotal circumstance in my neck of the woods…
        I’ve been surfing 3X a week during the pandemic and have never encountered a mask in the lineup. Some days are crowded (SoCal, you know) so I’m sure some stray spikey covid balls were hovering close by. Through all this not a single acquaintance had fallen ill. The (presumed) fact is, when people are gathering in a well-ventilated area, the chances of catching said illness is minimal. I imagine that extremely crowded outdoor events like farmers markets, rallies, sports events should be treated as if one is indoors (double-masked) but for the most part, outdoor activity is pretty much safe.

        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          If I take an hour-long walk during which I am subjected to a steady stream of other people’s exhalations, the cumulative mutual exposure warrants double masking.

          I believe one consequence of droplet hegemony is that people are sure that if you’re over 6 ft apart and outdoors there is no risk. Aerosols aren’t on a 6 ft leash.

          On the beach surfing isn’t the same as sharing a trail or path with a lot of huffers and puffers!

          1. bob

            ” the cumulative mutual exposure warrants double masking. ”

            No, not at all.

            “Of the 232,164 cases of Covid-19 recorded in the State up to March 24th this year, 262 were as a result of outdoor transmission, representing 0.1 per cent of the total.”

            1. ChiGal in Carolina

              That is not a meaningful statistic. If someone went on a hike and was exposed but didn’t realize it until a couple days later, they wouldn’t necessarily know where they were infected. But the five family members living under the same roof who got it from them would be counted as cases of indoor transmission.

              The issue is not just indoors vs outdoors, it is whose air are you sharing.

              Hence as C-man notes below, people ARE wearing masks outdoors.

              The variants are so much more contagious, it’s time to double down on your mask game, not let up.

              1. bob

                The issue is this-

                “Of the 232,164 cases of Covid-19 recorded in the State up to March 24th this year, 262 were as a result of outdoor transmission, representing 0.1 per cent of the total.”

                Do you have any evidence of outdoor transmission warranting not only masking, but double masking, other than not-even-ancectotal stories and made up statistics?

                The science says you are wrong.

    1. curlydan

      Be careful there in Uruguay! If the Divoc-91 site is correct, you’ve pretty much got it worst for infections on a per capita basis.

    1. ambrit

      Probably an “emotional support animal” for a Zeta Reticulan that slipped it’s sonic collar.

  2. grayslady

    Regarding vaccination passports: While sitting in the post-vaccine observation area at the hospital yesterday, following my first shot, I heard another patient ask whether she would receive a piece of paper showing that she had received her first vaccination. The woman monitoring the patients explained that the hospital initially produced such documents until they found out that they were being purloined and also forged. Consequently, the hospital now posts vaccine information only online to a patient’s password-secured account. Just another reason why I don’t expect to see these so-called vaccination passports come into use.

    1. Cuibono

      not so fast. that is precisely HOW they will come into being. but NOT paper: electronic

      the narrative is just this: paper is unreliable. not till it is linked to your SS# or fingerprint can we trust it and even then it needs central verification.

    2. Tom Doak

      I was issued a hand-signed card at the pharmacy here in Michigan. I think the commercial side will be quick to issue such documents; the government side, not so much.

      1. Stillfeelinthebern

        Got my vaccination at a county run clinic. Everyone was given the same card with a CDC logo in the upper right hand corner. It says Covid-19 Vaccination Record Card. They write in your name, DOB and date of vaccination and the name of the clinic site. It has a sticker with the manufacturer, lot number and expiration date of the vaccine. Code on the card is MLS-319813_r If you google, you can find a copy.

      2. kareninca

        My 96 y.o. father in law was vaccinated at a VA hospital in Northern CA He was told after the first shot that he absolutely had to keep that piece of paper in order to get his second shot; that they would have no way to confirm that he had gotten the first shot if he didn’t have the piece of paper. Even though he is in the VA’s computer system.

  3. Cuibono

    “Walensky is totally entrenched on suppressing and denying aerosol transmission”
    Almost like the most obvious and known factors for the past 12 months need to remain obscured. Why is that?

    1. marku52

      Can’t have anyone knowing about (or publishing!) about VitD and Ivermectin, either.

      No matter how cynical I get, I can’t keep up.

      1. Alfred

        Never mind the importance of a healthy gut: (Medical News Today)
        [study co-led by Yun Kit Yeoh. Yeoh works for the Department of Microbiology at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. ]”Overall, the authors conclude: “Associations between gut microbiota composition, levels of cytokines, and inflammatory markers in patients with COVID-19 suggest that the gut microbiome is involved in the magnitude of COVID-19 severity possibly via modulating host immune responses.” ”

        But then, the American processed food diet…

      2. Arizona Slim

        I’d like to thank NC for getting me up to speed on both of those things we’re not supposed to know about. My good health thanks NC as well!

      3. clarky90

        “Incredible images reveal how cells exposed to AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine produce spike proteins”…. YIKES!

        ….no thanks. leave my cells alone. I’ll “pays my money, and take my chances” with my own fitness, dietary and supplement regime. And live or die with the consequences ……

        Same as always…

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Perhaps to try and keep the pandemic going long enough that it becomes a successful endemic, with ever-fresh new variants requiring profitable new rounds of vaccine boosters?

      Perhaps to help with time-delayed population reduction as the seemingly cured and recovered hit the delayed onset damage-wall later in life?

  4. Expat2uruguay

    For those interested, a prominent South American intellectual on the lessons learned from Bolivia’s movement towards social democracy. (In English)

    “Former Bolivian vice president Álvaro García Linera is one of Latin America’s most distinguished intellectuals, and one of the region’s most experienced political actors. During his fourteen years at the helm of Bolivia’s plurinational government, he was responsible not only for designing much of Evo Morales’s political strategy but also for providing the theoretical foundations for the governing MAS (Movement Toward Socialism) party.”
    “García Linera sat down with the editors of Jacobin América Latina in Buenos Aires for a wide-ranging discussion, taking in the lessons learned from the recent coup in Bolivia, the state of the progressive governments in Latin America, and the broader political strategy of how best to pave a path toward a socialist future.”


    1. Left in Wisconsin

      Thanks for linking to that. Really interesting, lots of food for thought, especially the focus on community. So few Marxists have actual governing experience.

  5. John Beech

    What in hell is a Striated Pardalote? Why no picture Lambert? A photo of the bird of the day would represent non-static content and a plus by any measure. Just saying.

  6. Alfred

    Since you are soliciting comments. Being an Eastern European American, it took be a long time to digest that minorities see little advantage in soliciting other “minorities.” I grew up in a time when (50s, 60s) people still strongly identified with their lineage. But, as with the Danes, the path to success for Greenlanders was to become “Northern Danes.” So who is “white?” I am hopeless. Please be gentle if you respond.

    1. JBird4049

      >>>So who is “white?”

      (If anyone gets angry at you for merely being honestly questioning to Hades with them. We all learn by asking. And people can honestly disagree)

      Now, into the target range for me.

      It is both an easy and a hard question to answer. Short answer? It depends. Long answer? What year is it and where are we?

      Please realize that I am writing as an American, with American (and English ) history as my perspective. Whom one could call white changed over the past four or five centuries since the idea of there being a supposed white race was created. Today, in the United States, it is just about anyone who is of European ancestry from Scandinavia to Greece. Skin color was only part of it as a person’s culture and nationality was also important. Other countries had/have their own whacked views on race. The Germans (think Nazis) considered the Slavs, or basically the whole of Eastern Europe, as not quite White or their equal and as an inferior race to be reduce in population and into slavery. Actually, anyone east of the river Elbe who were not German seems to be considered of that same population, but then, IIRC, the most heavily re-enserfed (effectively a slave eventually) populations were east of the Elbe including Prussia. People do dehumanize those they exploit.

      The concept of “whiteness” was originally created, at least in part, to support the African Slave Trade by weakening anti-slavery beliefs, in particular the horrific Middle Passage as well as the Caribbean and Brazilian plantations where the birthrate was below the replacement rate; those plantations needed to buy enough people to replace the ones who were worked to death as the number of people being born was too low; it was also used as an excuse for European colonialism. If those civilizations and culture that were being destroyed, with the people being killed or enslaved and their possessions stolen were not as good or human as the Europeans than it wasn’t that bad; they might considered more like chimpanzees, not really as humans, and who cares about them? Again, people do dehumanize those they exploit which is an explanation as to who was white and who was not.

      Those who were considered white spread, somewhat geographically from England, over four centuries. At first it was only the English. Then French, Dutch, and Germans. Eventually, Spain followed by the Italians and the Greeks. Finally the East Europeans (the Slavs like the Poles, Czechs, and Ukranians). As late the as the early 20th century, some Americans, certainly some of the British did not considered Celts, particularly the Irish as truly white. Similarly, Italians were only welcomed into the whiteness club sometime in the 50s or 60s. Legally in the South, using the “one drop rule” anyone with any African ancestry was “black” until the Jim Crow laws were abolished in the mid 1960s regardless of how they actually looked.

      Keep in mind that “whiteness” especially as being a race, whatever that questionable concept might be, is not suppose to make sense, whatever others might say. If it had many of my ancestors would not have faced “Irish need not apply signs” or called “human chimpanzees” despite my equally pale other ancestors being original members of the club. Both sides of the family burn just as well in the Sun. Then there is denying the Greeks and the Italians, despite being two of the founding civilizations of Western Civilization, being white and therefore equal of other Europeans like the English.

      The original Europeans labeled as Whites were the English and probably the Dutch, who were both serious slave traders at the time (very roughly 1600). Maybe the main traders although the slave trade was practice by people from any nation that had an ocean going merchant marine like the Portuguese who did so for centuries (remember Brazil, a Portuguese colony, only ended slavery in the late 1800s) It is not a coincidence that people from countries where people were kidnapped to be sold, like all of Sub-Saharan Africa, or where colonization happened, as in Ireland, were labeled other or nonwhite, and the people doing the enslaving and colonizing were labeled as white especially from when what would eventually be the anti-slavery movement first appeared.

      So who is “White?”

      In 1600, in England and North America it was westernmost Europeans, particularly the English and excluding the Irish. By the 1850s, Americans considered everyone from Western Europe as white, excluding the Irish, of course as well as the Slavs, Italians and Greeks. By the mid 20th century, all of Europe including the were given membership in the white club. From what I can see, Hispanics are now being put into the club of white, despite that they were not at all considered so even if the Spanish were. Or, I think, that the finally expansion happened after the abolition of slavery and after the creation of Jim Crow.

        1. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

          You could also say both/and.
          This reminds me of the idea in the 1980s that ancient Egyptr was a ‘black’ nation. If you look at their art they were a range of tones. Most people looked like (and are related to) modern Egyptians who are what SJWs like to call ‘brown’. Lots of them were very dark. Some were ‘negroid’ because Egypt absorbed Nubia, the region to its south and there was a cultural interplay in which they each absorbed one another’s gods in a syncretic fashion. I have not in years of study found evidence anyone was singled out for skin color as a basis of oppression in any systematic way.

    2. Lee

      Speaking of Greenland: Opposition Wins Elections In Greenland, Casting Doubt On Future Of Rare-Earth Mine NPR

      “The Inuit Ataqatigiit party won 37% of the vote, compared with 29% for the ruling social-democratic Siumut party, according to official results reported by Reuters. The vote totals should allow Inuit Ataqatigiit to grab 12 seats in the 31-member unicameral legislature, known as the Inatsisartut, meaning it will likely need to form a coalition with support from one of the smaller parties.

      At the center of Tuesday’s election was the fate of a rare-earth and uranium mining project in the country’s south that has pitted those favoring more aggressive development against others who want more safeguards to protect the island’s fragile Arctic environment.”

      1. Alfred

        That is good news. I hope they can stop the mine. The ice sheet diminishment there has brought in all of the “men of opportunity” as I think Gore Vidal put it.

  7. cocomaan

    With regard to masking outdoors, I’m seeing a TON of people doing it. Hikers. Kids on playgrounds.

    Last summer, this wasn’t the case at all. Everyone went around without them as long as we were outside. I don’t know when the change happened, I think it was fall of 2020, during the election, that people began to freak out about mask wearing outdoors.

    Wasn’t able to access the article on Fourier, but he’s my favorite socialist Utopianist. When you read his exact prescriptions for phalansteries, it’s almost comical. Had some interesting observations about human nature, though, and society.

    1. Copeland

      I’ve been a very strict indoor masker but rarely when walking outdoors and so far have avoided covid. Last weekend (in the Willamette Valley) I went for a short nature hike not expecting to wear my mask (though I had it in my pocket). I wasn’t expecting anyone else on the trail to be masked either, but to my surprise almost everyone was. After several instances of donning my mask every time I saw a masked person/party approaching, I just left it on.

  8. Carolinian


    The real loss from this protective press cocoon is the opportunity to have a discussion on race and voting. Rather than repeatedly throwing around the label of Jim Crow, Biden could explain why he believes Georgia is beyond any reasonable (if different) approach in comparison to other states like Delaware, New York or Colorado. Indeed, no one appears eager to have that debate in the media. The coverage is as shallow as a soundbite. The Georgia law is now a Jim Crow law by pure repetition rather than any explanation in the coverage. Given the horrible history of Jim Crow, such a claim warrants explanation — not simply use as a handy slogan or political attack.

    Of course there are some of us who, in the last election, didn’t vote at all on the theory that the real scandal is who we get to vote for. Biden’s shoot from the lip style doesn’t seem all that different from Trump. Early days though.


    1. marym

      If by media he doesn’t include CNN, MSNBC, NYT, WaPo, Vox, GA Public Radio, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Delaware News Journal, and numerous twitter threads discussing components of the bill, historical context, comparison with CO voting laws, and initiatives in NY and DE to facilitate voting.

        1. Carolinian

          He didn’t say there was no coverage. He said it was “as shallow as a soundbite” and lacked “debate.” Turley himself is of course a law professor and is offering up said debate. Honestly your list of commentators seems to have a certain Dem skew.

          Myself, I have no real opinion on the new law other than what I said. But I used to live in Georgia and as I recall voter ID was always a thing there until recent Covid accomodations.

          1. FluffytheObeseCat

            “[Turley] didn’t say there was no coverage. He said it was “as shallow as a soundbite” and lacked “debate.”

            Based on my reading of at least two of marym’s links, I have to say that Turley’s assertion is incorrect. Both the Atlanta Journal-Constitution article and the Twitter thread from the policy director of GA Fair Fight Action contained many details of the text of the bill. Were they full of “debate”? No. They were well-documented, well-argued critiques of the bill. I’ll take well-argued criticisms any day over the sort of bogus, “both sides do it” pseudo-debate that typified our MSM for much of the past two and half decades.

            Turley should get off his duff and find some counter-arguments in the right wing press that are as well reasoned, and as reasonable. I’d like to see some review of the details of this bill from someone other than the director of a left-of-center interest group. If there is any honest rationale for the inclusion of clauses such as the one making it a misdemeanor for voting citizens to photograph their own absentee ballot, I’d like to read it.

            However, I suspect it will be hard for Turley or anyone else to find anyone who will speak reasonably in defense of this kind of garbage. It seems, given marym’s easy access to non-shallow critiques, that “shallow” may be a more accurate descriptor of Turley’s skim of the news than of the true quality of the coverage.

      1. Carolinian

        Oh I’d say some of us familiar with the real Jim Crow would agree that Biden’s remarks are mindless hyperbole–also a MSM specialty.

        But to return to my point, the motive for the real Jim Crow was to prevent voting for genuine change, not depriving the opportunity to vote for the likes of Joe Biden or Ossoff or Stacey Abrams. Perhaps if the Dems could come up with candidates capable of doing more than squeaking into office then these voting disputes wouldn’t matter. A genuinely populist party should have no trouble crushing the Republicans IMO.

        It was the same in 2000. The Repubs cheated Al Gore out of the presidency but he was Al Gore so the objections less than vehement.

        1. dcblogger

          I am old enough to remember Jim Crow, and the object of those laws was to prevent blacks from voting. That is why those laws began to be passed right after the Union Troops were withdrawn in the 1870’s. The current push for voter suppression laws are the biggest anti-black move since the 19th century. Also, Greg Palast’s reporting on this has been great.

          1. marym

            Features of the GA bill (and bills moving forward in other states) are designed to perpetuate Republican rule, by allowing Republican legislators and Republican challengers to intervene in the electoral process in ways that Trump and his followers tried in 2020.

          2. rowlf

            Compare Palast’s reporting on Democratic efforts of voting suppression prior to 2015 and general GA voting problems to current reporting by him and you will see he is selective in framing his reporting. I generally like his reporting and intent but the framing and omitting how we got here screws it up for me. Both major political parties in GA are playing games.

        2. marym

          I apologize to you and dcblogger – my response below @April 7, 2021 at 7:45 pm was supposed to be here. It’s not just a question of Democrats getting better turnout for better candidates. Provisions in the bill are designed to override the will of the voters.

  9. John Beech

    workspaces helped mask the fact that nearly everyone in those airy, pretty spaces was chasing dreams bound to extinction before they started.

    . . . possibly the biggest line of poop I’ve ever read because every business, but definition, is a dream bound for extinction.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Yours Truly was in a Tucson coworking space for four years. Believe me, such dreams were being chased all over the building.

      Perhaps the saddest example I saw was the company that was founded by a couple of University of Arizona business students. Those guys worked morning, noon, and night on that company, but it still failed.

      Then there was a friend of mine, who was taking over the real estate business that her mother started. Business was getting pretty wobbly, and that coworking office space became a real burden on the family finances. She had to leave.

      I could go on, but you get the idea.

      Yeah, the free beer was nice, but a lot of people were using it to drown their sorrows.

      1. albrt

        It’s basically a variation on the longstanding American tradition of harvesting people’s retirement accounts by persuading them to buy a franchise and go into business for themselves.

        With co-working you can drain the savings of numerous lesser marks without the risk of a franchise offering under FTC regulations.

  10. elissa3

    Jacinta Ardern thanking the CITIZENS*. What a concept. No wonder she is so popular.

    *instead of lecturing, shaming them, instilling fear>

    1. Alfred

      I watched the press conferences from New Zealand around COVID information and prevention, and they were miles away from what was happening here in the U.S. There was trust generated, I think, and people responded, and Ms. Ardern has a real connection and concern for the citizens, and they are all in it together. She is a leader for their welfare.

    2. The Rev Kev

      I’m trying to think of other leaders saying stuff this – people like Trump, Boris, Merkel, Biden, Trudeau, Macron, Scotty. Nah, I can’t imagine that ever happening either.

      1. albrt

        Mr. Putin is doing better on that score than any of the western leaders, taciturn as he may be.

  11. ambrit

    The agency, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) should more properly be known by the acronym of ‘BARADA,’ as in: “Klaatu BARADA nikto.” Then we can be sure that the World will be safe!
    Michael Rennie wouldn’t lie to us. It’s unthinkable.

  12. Mikel

    Re: “Carnival considers shifting home ports if U.S. sailing ban not lifted-CEO” [Reuters]

    It’s this kind of mess that makes it obvious that if an even more deadly pandemic comes along…we’re doomed.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Well, if that’s the way Typhoid Carnival feels about it, we are probably safer getting Typhoid Carnival to home-port themselves somewhere beyond our borders and keep their Typhoid Cruise Ships away from our shores.

        1. ambrit

          Who now wears the mantle that once graced the sterling features of Vincent Price?
          The Shadow State knows!

    2. The Rev Kev

      The US should say fine, but we’ll have all that money back that we gave you to bail you out last year. Carnival isn’t even based in the US anymore so they don’t have to pay taxes. And I am sure that there are other cruise companies that would eagerly fill the breach and if not, the US could say that they are sanctioning Carnival because they have financial links to North Korea or something or other. Give them the Nord Stream II treatment.

  13. Toshiro_Mifune

    I Regret to Inform You I Have Once Again Written About The Baylor Influencer Twins

    Man, I have no idea who these people are.

      1. albrt

        It’s all Hunter Thompson’s fault. Everything is about the so-called journalist’s lived experience.

        1. JBird4049

          I never quite got Hunter Thompson, but I would take him over most of the current bunch of stenographic propagandists.

  14. Tom Collins' Moscow Mule

    “Khloé Kardashian’s not some wondrously sculpted Venus-like goddess after all, she’s just a regular woman with regular looks and a regular body shape. No shame in that – at all – yet she’s made herself very rich by pretending to be something very different and very special.”

    An entire materialistic, conspicuous consumption society, from the top down and inside out, based on illusion, delusion, fantasy, and mirage.

    Pulling back the curtain reveals a hocus pocus flimflam scam targeting the perennial gullible. Imagine that. Who knew? What a pathetic sideshow.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Hmmmm. Now here is a question. Who is the Kardashian image more popular with – the ‘deplorables’ or the PMC. No, seriously. if you could break down which part of the population that she is most popular with and why, I bet that there is a lot that could be unraveled from that. But personally when I see any of the Kardashian women, they always look so plain or else so freaky that I am glad that I only have a Kevin Bacon connection with them-


  15. Phillip Cross


    Have you been watching “Q: Into the Storm” on HBO?

    It’s an investigative documentary series about who is behind Q. It’s a very interesting hypothesis, with some very strong evidential support.

    I remember you showed an interest in who was behind Q, and why the mainstream media doesn’t seem to share that interest. If that’s the case, you’ll really enjoy this.

    1. hamstak

      John de Lancie is the culprit. [rimshot]

      (Apologies if that joke has been made 10^n times before.)

      1. Phillip Cross

        FYI It turns out it was the people who own 8chan in connection with Roger Stone and others from Trump’s inner circle.

  16. Mikel

    Re: UK variant.

    “Importantly, officials say the current vaccines work well against the variant, meaning that the accelerating vaccination campaign will help control the virus even with the rise of this variant…”

    “Officials say…”

    I say they have to be still studying it. The varianrs are just NOW beginning to take hold.

    And when is there going to be an actual approval vs emergency aporoval? Studies are continuing, but on the public.

    1. Tom Doak

      Your last question is a good one, but I have a strong suspicion that there will be no controlled trials or full-on approval anytime soon. The “emergency” approval and the indemnification of liability are just too good a deal for the pharma companies, until we get to the point where they are able to charge a “market price” for booster shots — and even then, they will say it’s irresponsible to risk lives by making them go through formal tests.

      1. Petter

        Same here in Norway. Fully vaccinated residents and staff of a care home infected. Two hospitalized. They believe three were infected with either the Brazilian or South African variant
        Google translate from Dagbladet: https://www.dagbladet.no/nyheter/smittet-av-mutantvirus—to-pa-sykehus/73616394
        A total of seven fully vaccinated residents at Gystadmyr residential and activity center at Jessheim in Ullensaker municipality, have been diagnosed with COVID infection. Two of them are hospitalized. In addition, three employees are infected.

        This is stated by Ullensaker municipality in a press release.

        Three of the seven infected have been diagnosed with either South African or Brazilian mutant virus, confirms municipal chief physician Laurence Jary-Vattøy to Dagbladet. All the positive corona samples will now be re-sequenced to determine exactly which virus variant is in question.
        The infections occurred two months after they were fully vaccinated, i.e. got the second dose. And, I have no idea if there is any connection but Ullensaker municipality is home to Oslo International Airport.

        1. Greg

          Thanks for the links.
          It wasn’t clear from the Detroit article, but the Norwegian cases are confirmed as Pfizer or Moderna recipients.

  17. fumo

    “The Great Protest Wave”- All it’s going to take is one lone Trumper on the Chauvin jury to send the US spiraling into chaos.

  18. Greg

    Note: that is not an electron microscope view of the spike proteins. That’s a computer generated model of what it probably looks like based on the sequence of the spike protein (known, inserted), and the interpretation of the actual microscopy images.

    Original article is here – https://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/acscentsci.1c00080

    Annotated microscopy and more models are published as a high res image here -https://pubs.acs.org/na101/home/literatum/publisher/achs/journals/content/acscii/0/acscii.ahead-of-print/acscentsci.1c00080/20210402/images/large/oc1c00080_0002.jpeg

    The colour coding of the different protein groups is a strong hint that it’s not real; nature never reads textbooks, damn her eyes

  19. flora

    re: ‘I Fed Him To The People’: Trump Fan Indicted

    huh, I thought ‘feeding’ someone ‘to the people’ was the woke scam. guess I was wrong. /heh

  20. Tom Stone

    Adam Neumann is my favorite out of all the recent scam artists, getting bought out by the suckers at Sof bank and walking away clean with $1,700,000,000 was a sweet move.

  21. Carolinian

    An extensive report on the Colorado river crisis. New dust bowl ahead?


    The CAP canal–a big concrete ditch–runs practically behind a friend’s house. It was a dubious project from the get go and was pushed through by the agricultural lobby. Phoenix residents get much of their water from the Salt river and the eastern mountains.

  22. drumlin woodchuckles

    About that Amazon ” workerless store” concept, yes we should fight it and make it difficult for Amazon to roll out yet more hundreds and then thousands of these stores.

    But also, people who reject the concept might want to do all their shopping themselves at normal stores to do what they can to support the normal stores’ ongoing survival.

    And since all the big store chains will feel pressured to adopt the Amazon System and go “workerless”, thousands or maybe millions of people might want to make thousands or maybe millions of legal non-violent threats to the normal stores they shop in, that if these normal stores adopt the Amazon System, that these thousands or maybe millions of embittered shoppers will switch all their shopping to Amazon.
    Because if you are given the choice between a fake Amazon and the real Amazon, you’ll take the real Amazon every time. Make it sound like a credible threat.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      The video says you don’t get charged until you leave the store. Sounds like a free eat-in buffet (although you may have to mictorate in your empty bottle of fruit water when finished).

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Well, as long as they don’t surveill you and get your name and info when you enter the store, maybe you can try that. And also wear a very convincing disguise for all the security cameras. And convincingly lose it before leaving with something that you will be buying.

        If your suggestion really is foolproof, I imagine silent saboteurs could go into the Amazon robo-stores and open and try a hundred or so cans of sardines till they find one they like. And then buy a couple of those. And etc.

        1. ambrit

          I’ll wager that these emporia are wired and videoed to the max. Plus, I’ll imagine that these stores will require some sort of wi-fied electronic payment system to enter. Swipe your Amazon Pay Card at the entrance to get in.
          The surveillance system will track you and automatically keep track of what you “interact” with. When you leave, whatever you didn’t put back on the shelf will be automatically deducted from your card balance.
          If a formal ‘check out’ kabuki is played, then the AI will track ‘actual’ purchases against a list of items the algorithm has listed you as having ‘interacted’ with while in the store. Discrepancies will be “bought to your attention.”
          ‘Rip and runs’ will be dealt with through the use of facial recognition technology.
          I would not be surprised to see Amazon have an in house crew of “Extraneous Inventory Adjusters” to go to the miscreant’s address and “adjust” the discrepancies, assuming no electronic balance to dun. Being the essence of a “public/private” partnership, all the rules of neo-liberal business practices would apply: minimal ‘oversight,’ results oriented ‘rules of engagement,’ payment of ‘collectors’ on a percentage of recovered funds basis, limited liability for ‘damages’ incurred in the collection process, etc. etc.
          It’s a Brave New World out there!

          1. Acacia

            Yep, though is it AI or (my wager) a bunch of workers in a call center somewhere in SE Asia, staring at video streams all day (with redundancy so their “performance” can be tracked as well).

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        On closer listening, I think I heard that you log into the store on an “app” right at the start. So they know exactly who you are. If they have surveillance video-camming everyone and if you have to log into your shopping cart and your cart and whatever you touch ” inform eachother and the mothership” based on physical proximity between you, your cart and the thing you touched; then I don’t think you could get away with sampling anything inside the store.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > I think I heard that you log into the store on an “app” right at the start. So they know exactly who you are

          And everything you did in the store, down to (I would think) all the products you even looked at.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            I wonder if it would be possible to walk in with some powerful little neodymium super-magnets and demagnetize or remagnetize or otherwise magne-scramble various strips and stripes and things within the store. And not get caught, then or later.

            Also, I wonder if the digi-fintech-savvy might want to experiment with creating totally fake cut-out IDs and personnas with ill-funded credit cards and stuff. And then go in and buy and steal and damage and let Amazon try billing your untraceable cutout. Could this work?

            Look! A NOmazon source for neodymium magnets.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              Oooh! Oooh!

              Here is one of the safety precaution warnings from the safety section of that neodymium magnet website.

              “Magnets can affect magnetic media.
              The strong magnetic fields near neodymium magnets can damage magnetic media such as floppy disks, credit cards, magnetic I.D. cards, cassette tapes, video tapes or other such devices. They can also damage televisions, VCRs, computer monitors and CRT displays. Avoid placing neodymium magnets near electronic appliances.”

              Could silent saboteurs walk in each wearing a powerful neodymium magnet disguised as a wristwatch or something and just scramble everything by waving their hands at things? They would have to be careful not to get too close to eachother, though, given the power of the magnets.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      Perhaps you could look at something and put it back in the wrong bin on ‘accident’. If done carefully on a large enough scale it might be difficult to identify and exclude culprits. Or your could come masked, hose the login device and leave.

      1. tegnost

        I haven’t been in the store but it is supposed a ton of cameras. Nothing you do in the store will go unnoticed. Remember that amazon is richer than god and can pay 50 people to watch the store (right now theres not many stores) and for a metric, bezos considers wages “theft” and that greed transfers to his little store. Ain’t nobody stealing from bezos.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          I bet most of the customers for those stores will be the self-imaged-to-be groovy, cool, hip etc.
          Bitter old curmudgeons who remember better days won’t go there.

          I hope that everyone who shops in these stores gets what they deserve.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              That they become as poor as the people whose jobs they destroyed by shopping in a jobless Amazon robo-store instead of shopping in a paid-cashier checkout-line store.

              And also any other bad thing that might happen to them as they worship at the Temple of Bezos.

  23. Michael Ismoe

    RE: Gaetz – Unlike Cuomo (or for that matter Biden (and Trump (and Clinton))) no accusers have come forward.

    To be fair, Lambert, high school is back in session so some of his paramours might have algebra.

    1. Dave in Austin

      Wonderful! It isn’t only the NCAA that needs brackets that make sense. For the record, I make this mistake all the time- in writing and, worse, programming.

  24. Mikel

    I thought about the current WH administrations “purge” of weed smokers when I read this:

    The movement for marijuana legalization has long been dominated by left-leaning organizations like the Drug Policy Alliance and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. And despite a handful of congressional Republicans supporting the issue, most legalization proponents in Congress are Democrats.

    “We can’t cut with one scissor blade. We need Republicans in order to pass [a legalization bill],” said Angelos, founder of the Weldon Project. Angelos served 13 years of a 55-year sentence for marijuana trafficking charges, and got a full pardon from former President Donald Trump last December….”

    Yep, Snoop and the Kochs…strange bedfellows. But it’s the kind of thing that should remind people how out of touch Biden and his admin remain.

    1. Darthbobber

      Gag me with an entrenching tool. On a more positive note, it’s also the anniversary of the decisive Day 2 of the battle of Shiloh.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Darthbobber, if you are into Civil War history, then you may be interested in the Civil War Podcast if you have not come across it yet. Right now they are on Day 2 of the Battle of Gettysburg and the next episode should be the Battle of Little Round Top-


        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          The Civil War podcast on Shiloh is terrific. Makes it clear why Grant became the General he became. “Lick ’em tomorrow, though.”

          I just hope the strain of producing it hasn’t placed a strain on Rick and Tracy’s marriage. That’s what I think whenever there’s a dearth of episodes, as now.

          On Gettysburg, it’s quite clear that Lee was not only out-generaled, but beaten by the better army. That makes me happy.

          1. Dave in Austin

            Grant got lucky at Shiloh (Stunning, untouched battlefield by the way. Always empty). If it hadn’t been for Prentiss, the accident of a sunken road, the bluffs where the broken units and men could be protected by the guboats, the death of the Confederate leader and- of all people Lew Wallace of Ben Hur fame- whom Grant was man enough to apologize to ) Grant would have steamed up the first evening to find most of his army captured and himself out of a job. Not one cavalry unit even 100 yards in front of the Union camps. Senior leadership is truly on-the-job training.

            The second day wasn’t decisive any more than Patton’s spring 1945 march from the Rhine to Austria decided WW II.

  25. kareninca

    “The global scramble to produce enough Covid-19 vaccine for 7 billion people is about to get even tougher, as drugmakers and countries ready a second round of shots to combat the growing threat of virus variants.

    Finding vaccines that can ward off more contagious or virulent strains is only half the battle. The United States has virtually no capacity to manufacture revised vaccines or booster shots alongside the original versions, according to a half-dozen vaccine experts and Biden administration health officials. Setting up additional facilities could take months or even years.

    Vaccine makers like Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson coped with intense global demand for their original shots by manufacturing millions of doses while the vaccines were still in clinical trials. But that is not an option now, because the companies are still racing to fulfill orders for their existing Covid-19 vaccines — and some, including Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, are struggling with major production setbacks. Pumping out second-generation shots would require factories to switch over manufacturing lines now used for the first wave of vaccines, and in some cases fire up new production processes.” https://www.politico.com/news/2021/04/07/covid-variants-drug-manufacturing-479902

    So, they put all their eggs into the initial vaccine basket. They have no real plan for the variants. You could see this coming a mile away. I have been banking this as a way of avoiding being harassed into being vaccinated. I figure that pretty soon the variants will make the original vaccines close to useless, and nothing more will be in the offing soon enough to make a difference. I guess we’ll see.

  26. maxi

    anyone read the Michael O Church content? found both posts fascinating and great as a starting point for discussion. even if one doesn’t find the names/categories appropriate, the idea of a multi tiered system that isn’t quite class but effectively is, was awesome, i thought.

    i also thought he largely nailed how the tech workers in quasi PMC/gentry are so family blogging dumb when it comes to power, labor, and capital. they’ll take $250K/yr to “hack” on cool problems that will decimate industries worth billions, or build surveillance capitalism tech with reckless abandon, and have been conned into thinking unions/guilds/collectives are low status or otherwise passe. i think MOC nails it when he says that capital is close to chucking these Clueless into the non-capital class from which they came, and to which they belong.

    1. LifelongLib

      If they can be chucked into the non-capital class they never really left it. Living on paychecks, afraid of being fired. And until the day that carpenters read poems and poets admire good carpentry, divided against themselves.

      1. Alfred

        “until the day that carpenters read poems and poets admire good carpentry, ”

        I have known carpenters who like poetry, but most poets, IMO, would not recognize good carpentry if they saw it. ;-)

  27. YetAnotherChris

    Derek Chauvin is not a big dude. I was surprised to learn this:

    “Reyerson testified that Chauvin weighed 140 pounds with an additional 30-40 pounds coming from his equipment belt and vest.”


    None of which excuses Chauvin’s behavior. Rather, I worry that a juror (at least one of them being cop-adjacent) might see Chauvin as the underdog in that encounter. The defense is clinging to a narrative that emphasizes drug-fueled chaos and an angry mob of onlookers who somehow distracted the officers from their duty to not suffocate the suspect. This is weak stuff but in the end it all depends on the jury. I am not sanguine.

    1. Dave in Austin

      No matter how the jury rules, more Blacks will die.

      If Chauvin is exonerated (very unlikely) or the jury is hung (much more likely) the riots will commence, some rioters and a few bystanders will die and the Whites (and Asians) watching on TV will say “What is wrong with those people?”. More White people will leave the riot cities; the economy of the cities will decline; life for the remaining poor Blacks will…

      If Chauvin is found guilty the cops will say “So we are going to be the scapegoats; we’ll just glide toward retirement and go by the book. Welcome to the copless ghetto”. That will kill far more Blacks than any riot but since there is no individual White person to blame it on, the press will make it page three news and local TV will have the BlowDried intoning into the mikes: “A four year-old child died of gunshot wounds on the Near East Side when local local youths…”.

      Barring some stunning result- like the jury holding a press conference and telling us some truth we don’t want to hear- I see nothing but sadness ahead.

      1. Yves Smith

        You don’t appear to have been following the trial. The prosecution case has been overwhelming. Police in Chauvin’s direct line of command, including top cops have said: 1. What he did was outside his training, 2. The use of force was excessive and 3. Cops should not pay attention to bystanders unless they are trying to interfere physically.

        The odds of him not being convicted appear to be remotely low.

        And the police turning on Chauvin says that they regard his behavior as so far outside the line as to be not defensible. Which does not undermine routine or “heat of battle” calls. So I don’t see a conviction as a negative message to police generally. This is a Fox News trope you are repeating uncritically.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          If Chauvin is convicted, and then heavily sentenced; then perhaps some of the White Power cops sprinkled around the police departments may begin acting out so badly as to “volunteer” themselves for termination from employment.

          And if certain Blue Power Unions begin acting out badly enough, they may get themselves selected for de-certification and abolition from their cozy little representation rackets.

  28. Peter Dorman

    Jogging without a mask is so cool, no? It’s good for your health, and since you’re part of the public, that makes it a contribution to public health. Sad about those ignorant and probably pudgy people who complain about it.

    Except that this comment reveals incredible arrogance. Runners breathe hard! If you’ve got some virus to spread you’re going to be spreading it that much more. Yes outdoors is way less conducive to transmission than indoors, but it ain’t zero, especially when there is a herd of runners streaming by.

    I just don’t get why (a) some people are so unable to think probabilistically and recognize that exposure risk isn’t binary, and (b) some of these same people think that if something is virtuous for them it can’t be bad for anyone else. Sorry, it’s great if you’re out there running for exercise (and are able to do that), but no that doesn’t give you any privileges over anyone else.

    What makes this so crazy is that it is absolutely possible to run with a mask. I’ve had to do this at times in the winter in order to moderate the effect of cold, dry air intake. It works in the summer too. Maybe you might have to stop in the middle of your run, pull the mask down and blow your nose. It will add 20 seconds to your time. Not a big price to pay to reduce the risk you present to the folks along your path.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Yes outdoors is way less conducive to transmission than indoors, but it ain’t zero,

      Who said it was binary? Not me. But everything tells me that outdoor risk is low — did I say zero? — as opposed to 3-C conditions, where it is high. And I have not seen a single epidemiological case that applies to runners (team sports indoors don’t count).

    2. Alfred

      Viral load is a thing, more so in spaces with less air flow. I guess it might take less “load” to infect some people than others, and there is no way of knowing which people are shedding more virus at any particular time, or how much virus will make it into your mucous membranes in an effective way. Wearing a mask helps the wearer decrease the load they may take in, and goggles keep it out of your eyes. Outside I guess you could hit a pocket of concentration.

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