2:00PM Water Cooler 5/20/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, I got a late start again. I will add more shortly. –lambert UPDATE All done!

Bird Song of the Day

The Black-and-White Hawk-Eagle.

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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. All the charts are becoming dull — approaching nominal, if you accept the “new normal” of cases, for example.

Vaccination by region:

Upward movement.

Case count by United States regions:

Continued good news. Since this is a weekly average, the Biden/CDC masking kerfuffle will not show up for awhile, if indeed it does show up. (As promised, I killed the Midwest map, now that Michigan has fallen back into the pack, and replaced it with a World map, below.)

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

Continued good news. (This chart may seem redundant but I’m trying to think through where the next wave, if God forbid there is a next wave, would show up. Florida and Texas are both entrepots to Latin America, and New York and California to Europe and Asia, respectively. (Now that I think of it, a map of counties near resort towns would be helpful, too; the historical correlation between skiing and superspreading is pretty clear, in Europe and the US. Maybe I can dig one up.)

Test positivity:

The West is flat. The South is rising.

DIVOC-91 no longer updates hospitalization and death so I went and found some substitutes; neither provide regional data.

Hospitalization (CDC):

More good news.

Deaths (Our World in Data):

More good news.

NEW Covid cases worldwide:

I think it makes more sense to look at all regions rather than individual countries (even if we know, for example, that WHO’s Southeast Asia is mostly India by sheer weight of numbers, even though many individual countries are having issues). And why is Africa such an enormous outlier? Readers?

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

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

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

Biden Administration

“Fauci: Americans ‘misinterpreting’ mask rules” [The Hill] • Deploy the blame cannons!

UPDATE “Joe Biden’s Drilling Moratorium Is Not a Moratorium” [Jacobin]. “During the 2020 campaign, President Joe Biden promised to combat climate change by ‘banning new oil and gas permitting on public lands and waters’ — and the week he took office in January, Biden issued an executive order pausing oil and gas leases on federal land as part of the administration’s effort to ‘combat the climate crisis by example.’ But experts and environmental advocates say that the moratorium is likely to have little effect. Moreover, even as a new International Energy Agency (IEA) report said governments must immediately end fossil fuel development, Biden has yet to use his executive authority to take steps that could more quickly do that.” • A by-now familiar pattern. More: “The ramifications of Biden’s initial moves will likely be limited because fossil fuel companies, fearing such a ban under a potential Democratic administration, sought and received approval for thousands of drilling permits on millions of acres of federal land during the Trump years, which they can develop at any time.”

UPDATE “Biden proposes doubling IRS workforce as part of plan to snag tax cheats” [Politico]. “President Joe Biden is proposing to double the size of the IRS, by hiring nearly 87,000 new workers over the next decade, as part of a sweeping plan to chase down tax cheats. The hiring spree, part of a bid to increase IRS funding by $80 billion, would be phased in to give the department time to absorb the additional resources, the Treasury Department said in a report Thursday. The agency’s workforce would never grow by more than a “manageable” 15 percent each year. And its total budget would increase by about 10 percent annually. xAt the same time, the administration wants to require financial institutions and other businesses to report a lot more information about the money coursing through their customers’ accounts — a proposal designed to put the fear of the IRS in the hearts of tax scofflaws. It’s part of a concerted effort by the administration to go after uncollected taxes owed by large corporations, partnerships and wealthy individuals — money Democrats want to use to finance their big-ticket spending plans.” • I doubt very much that wealth individuals will be the ultimate taxes. And Federal taxes, as readers know, do not fund Federal spending.

Democrats en Deshabille

“Criminal Probe of Cuomo Admin’s COVID Handling Expands to Include VIP Testing Scheme” [New York Magazine]. “The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York’s criminal inquiry into the Cuomo administration’s coronavirus handling has expanded to the governor’s unequal distribution of COVID-19 tests in the early days of the pandemic, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. Federal investigators will now examine reports from March detailing how Cuomo’s office gave VIPs, including the governor’s brother, access to tests and state-lab resources in March of 2020, when New York City was inundated with cases and tests were all but impossible to come by…. The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York’s criminal inquiry into the Cuomo administration’s coronavirus handling has expanded to the governor’s unequal distribution of COVID-19 tests in the early days of the pandemic, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. Federal investigators will now examine reports from March detailing how Cuomo’s office gave VIPs, including the governor’s brother, access to tests and state-lab resources in March of 2020, when New York City was inundated with cases and tests were all but impossible to come by.” • Nice peopl, the Cuomo’s..

Republican Funhouse

“Top Southern Baptist official who criticized Trump resigns” [The Hill]. “Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) for the [Southern Baptist Convention (SBC)], announced his resignation on his website and said he would be joining Christianity Today magazine to be the director of its Public Theology Project…. Many Southern Baptist pastors withdrew their funding from the SBC in protest of Moore’s criticisms, leading to Moore apologizing ‘for failing to distinguish’ between those who voted for Trump and ‘those who put politics’ over the Gospel, the [WSJ] reports. The outlet notes that in February of this year some churches were found to still be withholding donations.” • This seems to me to be the most consequential of the “It’s Trump’s Party now” stories. Whether it means Trump will run again is a separate question.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“More Oregon counties vote to consider joining Idaho, part of rural effort to ‘gain political refuge from blue states’” [The Oregonian]. “Five eastern Oregon counties voted Tuesday in favor of considering becoming part of Idaho. Baker, Grant, Lake, Malheur and Sherman counties join Union and Jefferson, which voted last year to require county officials to study or promote joining Idaho… The grassroots group Move Oregon’s Border for a Greater Idaho wants to flip Oregon’s mostly rural eastern and southern counties — plus a few northern counties in California — into Idaho, believing they’d be better off in Idaho’s more conservative political environment. It’s hoping that political pressure from county initiative votes will lead to negotiations between Oregon and Idaho to move the border between the two states, putting up to 22 of Oregon’s 36 counties in Idaho.” • Handy map:

“Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner Trounces Police-Backed Primary Challenger” [The Intercept]. “Four years into his experiment with reforming Philadelphia’s criminal justice system, Larry Krasner overwhelmingly won his primary race for reelection to the office of district attorney on Tuesday. With 74 percent of votes counted, Krasner led his Democratic primary challenger Carlos Vega 65 percent to 35 percent, according to the Associated Press. Vega conceded the race shortly before midnight on Tuesday, and Krasner is all but assured victory in the November general election. ‘We in this movement for criminal justice reform just won a big one,’ Krasner said in a victory speech. ‘Four years ago, we promised reform, and a focus on serious crime. People believed what were, at that point, ideas. Promises. And they voted us into office with a mandate. We kept those promises. They saw what we did. And they put us back in office because of what we’ve done.’ Vega, a former homicide prosecutor who was one of 31 staffers Krasner fired during his first week as district attorney, had run a campaign attacking Krasner’s policies as soft on crime and was boosted by one of the largest expenditures from the city’s police union in more than a decade.”

“Chicago mayor sparks backlash after limiting media interviews to people of color” [The Hill]. “Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) is drawing scrutiny and pushback from local journalists after deciding to grant one-on-one media interviews only to people of color to cover her two-year anniversary in office. The restrictions on who could interview the mayor garnered national attention after Mary Ann Ahern, a political reporter for NBC 5 Chicago, tweeted about the move on Tuesday. ‘Absolutely, they told me only Black and brown journalists are getting one-on-one interviews,’ Ahern, who is white and has served as a political reporter at the NBC station since 2006, told The Hill. In a public statement on Wednesday, Lightfoot confirmed she was ‘exclusively providing one-on-one interviews with journalists of color.’ ‘I have been struck since my first day on the campaign trail in 2018 by the overwhelming whiteness and maleness of Chicago media outlets, editorial boards, the political press corps, and yes, the City Hall press corps specifically,’ Lightfoot wrote. The mayor defended her move earlier Wednesday on Twitter, saying she was ‘being intentional about prioritizing media requests from POC reporters on the occasion of the two-year anniversary.'”

Stats Watch

Manufacturing: “May 2021 Philly Fed Manufacturing Survey Index Declined” [Econintersect]. “Overall, this report was worse than last month and key elements improvements were mixed. This is a very noisy index which readers should be reminded is sentiment-based…..”

Employment Situation: “15 May 2021 Initial Unemployment Claims Rolling Average Improvement Continues” [Econintersect]. “Market expectations for weekly initial unemployment claims (from Econoday) were 450 K to 493 K (consensus 460 K), and the Department of Labor reported 444,000 new claims. The more important (because of the volatility in the weekly reported claims and seasonality errors in adjusting the data) 4 week moving average moved from 535,250 (reported last week as 534,000) to 504,750.”

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Commodities: “Colonial Pipeline’s Computer Network Temporarily Goes Dark” [Bloomberg]. “‘The latest server disruptions stemmed from efforts to harden its systems and “were not related to the ransomware or any type of reinfection,’ Colonial said. The communications outage meant fuel distributors found it more difficult to funnel shipments to supply-choked locations, said Andy Milton, senior vice president of supply at Mansfield Energy Corp., a closely held firm that handles more than 3 billion gallons of fuel a year.'” • Awesome! The consultants took down the system!

Commodities: “The Colonial Pipeline Ransomware Attack and the Perils of Privately Owned Infrastructure” [The New Yorker]. “[W]e are a country that has seen nearly a thousand reported ransomware attacks on our critical infrastructure since 2013. This includes transportation services, wastewater facilities, communications systems, and hospitals. The average recovery cost of a ransomware attack for businesses is around two million dollars. And the damage is not just financial. A case in point was last fall’s cyberattack on the University of Vermont Medical Center. Not only was it estimated to have cost a million and a half dollars a day in lost revenues and remediation expenses but it also caused the hospital to temporarily furlough or reassign three hundred employees, halt most surgeries, and cancel or postpone some treatments, including those for cancer. The hospital’s vice-president of network I.T., Doug Gentile, said that his team didn’t open a link that presumably contained a ransom note because they had no intention of giving in to the hackers. (Instead, they contacted the F.B.I.) This was not unusual. Last year, about three-quarters of ransomware victims did not pay their attackers. Those that did found that the hackers restored, on average, only sixty-five per cent of the data that they’d hijacked.”

Retail: “Consumer Spending ‘On Fast Forward’ as Covid Hibernation Ends” [Bloomberg]. “Americans are leaving the house, ditching the masks and spending again. At Walmart Inc., sales of teeth whitening kits doubled last month while luggage soared 400% and gum and mints flew off the shelves. Sales in Target Corp. stores jumped as shoppers grabbed dresses, cosmetics, sunscreen and sporting goods. Macy’s Inc. saw increased demand for prom dresses, stylish sandals and even tailored clothing for men as offices reopen. Add it up, and you’ve got a consumer that’s quickly emerging from last year’s pandemic hibernation, a time when spending focused mainly on critical everyday items: toilet paper, canned veggies and flour. Now, flush with government stimulus checks, higher wages and record savings, they’re shopping for things that make them look and feel good. They’re also preparing to take vacations and reengage with a world outside their home.”

Retail: “COVID-19 pandemic: Apparel sales are surging post-lockdown” [Yahoo Finance]. “It’s becoming quite clear that U.S. consumers want a new outfit — or five — for their first dinner at a restaurant or now that they have been vaccinated for COVID-19…. Apparel sales have come on quick since the winter month as confidence in the vaccine rollout has increased. Sales at clothing and accessories stores rose 16.4% in April from February, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Sales at department stores have risen 10% over that same stretch.”

Shipping: “Port in a storm: No end in sight to global shipping chaos” [Nikkei Asian Review]. “Seafarers, the floating workforce of 1.6 million women and men that operate the world’s fleet of 50,000 commercial cargo vessels, have been thrown into turmoil by the pandemic. Theirs is a crisis that has played out almost invisibly, far out to sea or onboard ship. Their numbers are large enough to populate a city — albeit one where social distancing is impossible and there is no way out. There is a reason for the paranoia. The number of COVID-19 infections and deaths on ships over the past year is a closely guarded secret which shipping companies are not required to disclose. But early outbreaks on cruise ships like the Diamond Princess, where 700 people were rapidly infected by the virus, graphically demonstrated the danger. For ships’ crews, as for millions of others, the price of safety is monotony and isolation. But instead of being marooned at home, they are stuck permanently at work. They spend their days pacing their ships, surrounded by nothing but metal and the vast ocean.” • Excellent article, worth reading in full.

The Bezzle: “Self-Driving Cars Pose Crucial Question: Who to Blame in a Crash” [Bloomberg]. “he issues have held up legislation that would allow carmakers to test and sell tens of thousands of autonomous vehicles, something the industry says it needs to fully develop and eventually market the technology to consumers. A bill to do that sailed through the House several years ago but has been bogged down in the Senate over the liability question. A move to merge the bill with must-pass legislation earlier this month faltered over an initiative by some manufacturers to include language that would prevent consumers from suing or forming class-action cases. Instead, the consumers would have to submit disputes to binding arbitration, something that is common with technology products but not automobiles.” And: “Many automakers have quietly backed off pronouncements made in the middle of the last decade that would have resulted in many more self-driving cars being on the road, [Missy Cummings, director of Duke University’s Humans and Autonomy Lab], said. ‘Without explicitly saying it, a lot of companies are realizing that self-driving cars are much further off than we initially realized,’ she said.”

M & A: “Capital Calls: A tale of two break fees” [Reuters]. “When mergers get going, those merging look for certainty. One form of insurance is a break fee payable if one partner jumps, say, for a better deal…. In Canadian National Railway’s bid for U.S. railroad Kansas City Southern, there might be two fees. Canadian National looks to have wooed Kansas City away from an agreed merger with Canadian Pacific Railway. If it stays that way, the Montreal-based operator will have to pay the $700 million penalty built into Kansas City’s original deal. But if regulators won’t bless the revised union in the promised form, Canadian National might end up paying another $1 billion break fee…. Two break fees are definitely not better than one.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 36 Fear (previous close: 35 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 40 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 20 at 12:31pm.

Health Care

UPDATE “Dogs Sniffing Covid From Sweat Fare Almost as Well as PCR Tests” [Bloomberg]. “The trial, which was conducted at France’s National Veterinary School in Maisons Alfort near Paris, collected sweat samples from the armpits of the participants with cotton pads that were locked into jars and gave them to at least two different dogs for sniffing. None of the dogs had prior contact with the volunteers. There were 335 people tested, of which 109 were positive in a PCR test that served as a control. Nine dogs participated, and the researchers didn’t know which samples were positive…. The dogs’ detection reached 97% sensitivity in the French study, meaning that’s how well the canines could identify positive samples. The sniffing was also 91% specific, which rates the dogs’ ability to identify negatives. The sensitivity rating beats that of many 15-minute antigen tests, which tend to be better at ruling out infection than at finding it.”

UPDATE “The “noble lie” on masks probably wasn’t a lie” [Lessons from the Crisis]. “We can’t see what the US experts were saying to each other at the time, but the UK government has published the internal minutes of deliberations by expert science teams who would have had very similar information to their American counterparts. Those documents don’t reveal a coherent plot to pretend they thought masks wouldn’t work, unless months of fraudulent minutes and other kayfabe were also part of the conspiracy- it just seems more likely that most of them just really believed masks were ineffective, or at least weren’t confident enough about what they thought to fight about it…. Based on the expert view that regular people just wouldn’t make good use of them, the UK standing stockpile was reduced to keeping masks for healthcare workers only. The CDC had similar longstanding guidelines in place prior to the pandemic, so it’s not plausible to believe that the anti-mask stance came about because of shortages- rather the shortages were (in part) caused by the belief.” • Hmm.

UPDATE “What Really Happened With that Weird Yankees COVID Outbreak” [David Wallace-Wells, The Atlantic]. “One of my core philosophies in public health is we absolutely need to bring the public along. You need to keep them up to speed. You need to keep them informed. If you don’t have the public buy-in for everything you’re doing, you will never defeat a pandemic. Throughout this pandemic, we’ve generally considered the public to be the problem. But this is public health. The public isn’t the problem – that’s on the virus – instead, the public is the solution. As we are seeing with vaccines, the public is the solution and unless we want to vaccinate people based on some forceful military state requirements (which we do not and I hope never would) then we must see the public as the solution, always.” • (The snippet is not representative of a very good article mainly on testing, well worth a read.) This is Michael Mina. Now read the next—

“A key to the next pandemic: An early-warning system” [Michael Mina, The Harvard Gazette]. “One lesson that we should learn from this pandemic and from the Trump presidency is that though we assume that scientists with the best interests of humanity would be leading efforts, that did not happen in this presidency. We should have an independent crisis group that doesn’t include political appointees.” • Philosopher Kings, the goto PMC solution.

“Deadly Fungi Are the Newest Emerging Microbe Threat All Over the World” [Scientific American]. “from the start of the pandemic, [Tom Chiller, and epidemiologist and CDC branch chief] had felt uneasy about its possible intersection with fungal infections. The first COVID case reports, published by Chinese scientists in international journals, described patients as catastrophically ill and consigned to intensive care: pharmaceutically paralyzed, plugged into ventilators, threaded with I.V. lines, loaded with drugs to suppress infection and inflammation. Those frantic interventions might save them from the virus—but immune-damping drugs would disable their innate defenses, and broad-spectrum antibiotics would kill off beneficial bacteria that keep invading microbes in check. Patients would be left extraordinarily vulnerable to any other pathogen that might be lurking nearby. Chiller and his colleagues began quietly reaching out to colleagues in the U.S. and Europe, asking for any warning signs that COVID was allowing deadly fungi a foothold. Accounts of infections trickled back from India, Italy, Colombia, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Ireland, the Netherlands and France. Now the same deadly fungi were surfacing in American patients as well: the first signs of a second epidemic, layered on top of the viral pandemic. And it wasn’t just C. auris. Another deadly fungus called Aspergillus was starting to take a toll as well. ‘This is going to be widespread everywhere,’ Chiller says. ‘We don’t think we’re going to be able to contain this.'” • More trouble.

The Biosphere

“Want More Birds in Your Yard? Try Adding a Birdhouse Or Two” [The Buzz]. “Spring is a good time to add a nesting box or birdhouse because birds are scouting nest sites at this time of year, the National Wildlife Federation reports. However, not all birds will move in and take up residence in your provided shelter. Typically only cavity nesting birds use birdhouses and nesting boxes, and not all cavity nesters will. In all, between two dozen and three dozen bird species will take up residence in provided shelter. Some of the most common birds to use provided nesting boxes and birdhouses are bluebirds, chickadees, titmice and wrens, according to the wildlife federation. However, even among easy-to-attract birds, their preferences vary.” • The best advice I ever got on birds was “birds love a mess.” And sure enough, when I left plenty of piled up twigs and leaves around, and added some bushes and nut trees, I got more birds. (Of course, I have a taste for returning vegetation to the ground it came from.)

“It’s California wildfire season. But firefighters say federal hotshot crews are understaffed” [Los Angeles Times]. “As another wildfire season looms over California, the U.S. Forest Service is running short of the most experienced and elite firefighters in the country — the forestry crews known as hotshots, who travel the nation putting out wildfires, according to interviews with union officials and agency employees. A combination of low pay, competition from state and local fire departments and exhaustion from fire seasons that are longer and more devastating than in the past has eroded the federal government’s ability to hire new firefighters and retain the most skilled. Nowhere is this more true than in California, where entry-level Forest Service firefighters in certain parts of the state earn less than the minimum wage of $14 an hour, and staffing levels have plummeted ahead of a fire season that scientists say could be especially active. Roughly 30% of the federal hotshot crews that work on the front lines of wildfires in California are understaffed, according to the union that represents most Forest Service employees. Some of these typically 20-person crews have lost so many veteran firefighters that the remaining workers have been assigned to lower-ranking Type 2 crews, which don’t require as much experience, union officials said.” • If only there were some market mechanism to address this issue.


“Idaho teacher disarmed school shooter and hugged her until help arrived” [Guardian]. “[teacher Krista Gneiting], meanwhile, said she hopes people can forgive the girl and help her get the support she needs. ‘She is just barely starting in life and she just needs some help. Everybody makes mistakes,’ she told ABC News. ‘I think we need to make sure we get her help and get her back into where she loves herself so that she can function in society.'”

Groves of Academe

“1619 Project founder Nikole Hannah-Jones loses UNC tenure offer amid backlash over her ‘un-factual and biased’ work” [Daily Mail]. • This is ridiculous. Since when does a journalist, no matter how brilliant, get a tenure offer as her very first academic job? Quite a slap in the face for those climbing the (increasingly shaky) academic ladder with theses, dissertations, etc. What next? UNC ended up offering Hannah-Jones a contract in the journalism school, which would be legitimate, were Hannah-Jones not the Judy Miller of race science (and no scholar. The Daily Mail naturally doesn’t mention WSWS, but their demolition of the 1619 Project is quite thorough. See here, here, and especially here).

Class Warfare

UPDATE “The PRO Act: What’s in It and Why Is It a Labor Movement Priority?” [Kim Kelly, Teen Vogue]. “Enter the Protecting the Right to Organize Act of 2021. Better known as the PRO Act, this bill would be the first major worker-friendly labor law reform since the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) of 1935, would significantly expand workers’ ability to join and organize unions, and level heavy penalties on employers who stand in their way. There are a number of exciting reforms in the bill, including a federal override of so-called right-to-work laws that weaken unions by allowing members to opt out of paying dues; an end to the hated 1947 Taft-Hartley Act’s ban on secondary strikes (also known as solidarity strikes, these are collective actions that employees in different workplaces can undertake to support another group of workers on strike); an update to the union election process to allow workers to vote online or by phone; enhanced protections for whistleblowers; and a response to the issue of worker misclassification that would give independent contractors — a group left out of the original NLRA that is still denied basic labor rights (especially those who are part of the so-called gig economy) — the right to organize collectively. (As an independent contractor myself, I am especially thrilled about that one.) The PRO Act would also outlaw captive-audience meetings, a particularly egregious but currently legal union-busting tactic favored by anti-union companies.” • More good work from Kim Kelly.

UPDATE “UI Generosity and Job Acceptance: Effects of the 2020 CARES Act” (PDF) [Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco]. “Direct empirical analysis of labor force transitions using matched Current Population Survey (CPS) data, linked to annual earning records from the CPS income supplement to form UI replacement rates, shows moderate disincentive effects of the $600 supplemental payments on job finding rates; this empirical framework also suggests small effects of the $300 weekly UI supplement available during 2021.” • Then we need to make the benefits larger….

UPDATE “Why This McDonald’s Worker Is Going Out on Strike Today” (interview) [Precious Cole, Discourse Blog]. Precious Cole is one of those striking workers. Cole has been working in fast-food joints since she was 15 years old; she’s now 34. During the pandemic, she has worked at three different restaurants in Durham, North Carolina: Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers, Wendy’s, and since last month, a McDonald’s franchise, after she got recruited out of the Wendy’s drive-thru window. Cole: “So in my experience, it has been a lot harder. Like I said, I’ve been in fast food half my life, so I’ve seen and dealt with everything imaginable. But now, you know, they just seem so angry. You get one or two that say, ‘Thank you for being here, for helping us out, for working during COVID.’ But then you have the other customers where—it’s store policy that you have to wear a mask. ‘Well, it’s my right not to wear a mask.’ And I’m like, ‘I can’t serve you.’ They get ignorant and rude and throw stuff on us. It’s a whole lot worse now, because I believe people are angered. Half of these people don’t have jobs, or they do have jobs that are paying them little to nothing. People try to feed their families and have gas in their cars, they’re trying to make it to work.” • ”I can’t serve you” summarizes the class angle with exactitude. And I do think there’s something to the idea that anti-masking anger is displaced anger.

UPDATE “New automated dumpling shop in NYC reimagines restaurant experience” [ABC]. “Upon entering the space, guests get a full look behing the glass enclosed Dumpling Lab — a savory spin on Willy Wonka’s confectionery — where two chefs assess each batch of perfectly plump and pinched dumplings as they roll off a conveyor belt and place them into a steamer or griddle cooked to order. Customers can choose to scan a QR code to order directly from their phone for completely touchless ordering or tap through the touchscreen menu on the kiosk and receive a printed ticket with a special barcode. When it’s ready they get a text notification to pick it up from one of the temperature controlled ONDO food lockers — lit blue for chilled drink orders and red for hot dumpling dishes — along the the wall and scan their barcode to activate the locker door to automatically lift open. As if each of those features are not futuristic enough, the Brooklyn Dumpling Shop will also feature a Bitcoin Trading Machine so customers can pay via cryptocurrency rather than cash or credit. The innovative 24-hour quick service and Zero Human Interaction restaurant is the latest development from New York hospitality veteran Stratis Morfogen….” • This dude innovated the Automat.

News of the Wired

“Why the Apple Store Will Fail…” [Barry Ritholtz, The Big Picture]. “A big part of finance seems to involve making forecasts about what will happen in the future. Most people are really bad at this, for a variety of reasons: We have little awareness of our expertise or lack thereof; we do not truly understand the present, let alone the future; we often predict what we want to be true, rather than what is. And of course, the Dunning Kruger effect explains why we over-estimate our own skillsets about all of the above. The sooner we learn what we know and work within our capabilities, the better off we will all be.”

“Indo-Europeans and the Yamnaya Culture” [Patrick Wyman, Perspectives]. “The Yamnaya migration is one of the most straightforward examples we find in the distant human past. Artifacts, genes, and even a reconstructed language – Proto-Indo-European – all seem to match up. … the language ancestral to the entire Proto-Indo-European family. That family includes English, Latin and its descendants, Russian, Sanskrit, Hindi, Persian, and dozens of others, spoken by billions of people around the world today. This was a world of mobile herders who took their cattle and sheep from place to place, using horses to do so. They were hierarchical and extremely patriarchal, organized around bonds of male kinship, and far from averse to a bit of raiding and fighting. All of that seems to match the Yamnaya both on the steppe and in their new home in the Hungarian Plain.” • And today!

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

MP writes: “In the neighboring meadow, a tree is already in full bloom. The bees love it.”

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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. antidlc


    Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds on Thursday signed legislation prohibiting school districts, cities and counties from implementing mask mandates.

    The law, which goes into effect immediately, was passed by the Iowa House and Senate in the last hours of the 2021 legislative session and signed by the Republican governor shortly before 2 a.m. on Thursday, local time

    “The state of Iowa is putting parents back in control of their child’s education and taking greater steps to protect the rights of all Iowans to make their own health care decisions,” Reynolds said.

    The law, part of a larger education bill that expands open enrollment in Iowa, prevents mask mandates in kindergarten through 12th grade schools and stops cities and counties from mandating masks in businesses.

    First Texas, now Iowa.

    1. Synoia

      Thursday signed legislation prohibiting school districts, cities and counties from implementing mask mandates.

      The state of Iowa is putting parents back in control of their child’s education and taking greater steps to protect the rights of all Iowans to make their own health care decisions

      How is prohibiting local Government to take actions protecting the rights of all Iowans to make their own health care decisions

      Reads like central (Communist) state level planning to me. /s

    2. Wukchumni

      What’s funny in regards to masks, is the red states all wanting to get rid of them are prime viewers for the Fox tv show: The Masked Singer which has been on for 5 years.

      Masks are ok if it’s faux role playing, I guess.

    3. curlydan

      “taking greater steps to protect the rights of all Iowans to make their own health care decisions”… uh, except for abortion that is. The cognitive dissonance… it burns!!!

  2. fresno dan

    “Idaho teacher disarmed school shooter and hugged her until help arrived” [Guardian]. “[teacher Krista Gneiting], meanwhile, said she hopes people can forgive the girl and help her get the support she needs. ‘She is just barely starting in life and she just needs some help. Everybody makes mistakes,’ she told ABC News. ‘I think we need to make sure we get her help and get her back into where she loves herself so that she can function in society.’”
    So I read the article, and not one word about how a sixth grade girl came into possession of a firearm. What the consequences for lack of due precautions for storing handguns are or should be. Curious that such obvious questions aren’t even breached…

      1. Dirk77

        Given how blue Idaho is going, those rogue Oregon counties may join it just in time to be part of New California. Kind of like Texas joining the Union just in time to be on the losing side of the Civil War.

      1. Wukchumni

        Women are drastically out of the loop when it comes to being the perp in mass murders via hand cannon, I think this is a good start towards equality in this matter.

      1. tegnost

        seems like something like this should disturb and discourage the malheur crowd….maybe idaho isn’t so great after all…Hugs? What?

  3. IM Doc

    With regard to the fungal infection link above. This is really starting to remind me of my years on the AIDS wards all those decades ago.

    Candida and Aspergillus are becoming increasingly common in the hospitals. They are also becoming more and more resistant to anti fungal therapy. And quite often they are very nasty and can overwhelm patients who are already ill in the ICU in a heartbeat. We do not have nearly as many anti-fungals as we do anti-bacterials and many of them are quite toxic in and of themselves – especially those for hospitalized patients.

    Candida and Aspergillus are one thing. I never saw what is going on in India now coming from a mile away. They are having a mini-outbreak of another type of fungal infection called Mucormycosis. That too was not all that unusual in AIDS patients.

    Here is the problem with “mucor” as it is often referred to in medicine. It is uniquely unresponsive to almost all anti-fungal therapy. It has a real predilection for the sinuses. And the only hope is usually surgical extirpation – as in cut your face off. It is an absolutely dreaded disease and in America is confined to mainly AIDS patients (which we do not see much anymore) out of control diabetics and the severely immunocompromised.

    Another fun fact – at least here in the USA – mucor usually takes weeks to fully develop. This is not usually an acute 3 or 4 day process. That rapidity of development seems to be happening routinely in the cases in India – and that is giving physicians a real pause for concern. I have not a clue why COVID would be doing this in India nor have I heard any salient explanations – it is all still so new.

    But that is definitely a curveball no one saw coming. Mucor is almost always associated with a completely overwhelmed immune system – and not an acute SARS-like syndrome like COVID.

    We live in fascinating times.

    1. JBird4049

      >>>We live in fascinating times.

      The Bronze Age Collapse was probably interesting to the participants as well.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      Your comment reminded me of a paper I ran across earlier this year. It is a short opinion/hypothesis sketch.
      Cobbling together pieces of the abstract:
      Fungi are major pathogens, affecting a broad range of creatures, but causing relatively little disease in mammals. It has been suggested mammals are protected by a combination of a complex immune system and a thermal barrier due to relatively high body temperatures compared with the environment. The increasing global temperatures due to Global Warming are already selecting for fungi that adapt to the higher temperature ranges, so that one effect of global warming could be a diminishing thermal barrier protecting mammals [like us] from fungal incursions, at the same time that old and perhaps some new fungal pathogens adapt to the higher temperatures.
      “Global Warming Will Bring New Fungal Diseases for Mammals”

    3. Ping

      This coverage is important. Just yesterday a good friend discussed his recent dermatologist visit for a large torso rash that he’s had for several months developed soon after his Pfizer jab. The dermatologist said they are seeing alot of it and took a biopsy mentioning fungus as possibility.

  4. Wukchumni

    (Now that I think of it, a map of counties near resort towns would be helpful, too; the historical correlation between skiing and superspreading is pretty clear, in Europe and the US. Maybe I can dig one up.)

    13 out of 14 people in LA who all went skiing in Italy in February 2020 and contracted the virus there was my Covid wake-up call, and I was pretty convinced that walking the planks wasn’t good for your health, but as far as I can tell it wasn’t the vector that i’d thought it was, probably Covid spread in the restaurants (@ Mammoth the chow hall holds around a thousand people all sitting real close to one another) or in congested après-ski locales.

    This was the first year of skiing I missed since 1979, and watching the news, I never saw anything much mentioned in regards to ski resorts & Covid this winter.

    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      I’m glad to see this idea is getting traction. I’ve been telling people for a while now US politics make a lot more sense if you approach it like professional wrestling. Trump understood this well. It’s not a coincidence that he is in the WWE Hall Of Fame.

  5. Hepativore

    I am not sure if this has been highlighted yet on Naked Capitalism, but Kyle Kulinski released this bombshell yesterday.

    In the waning days of the Trump administration, Trump wanted to have a massive withdrawal of forces in the Middle East as some sort of political stunt. This part is common knowledge. However, the military brass themselves basically overruled Trump on this, even though they do not have the legal authority to do so. Regardless of how people might feel about the Trump presidency, this has unfortunate implications.


    Frequent readers of Naked Capitalism already know that we live under a defacto military junta with the Pentagon calling the shots, but this just makes it even more obvious. This is also why Biden’s plan to fully withdraw from Afghanistan in the fall is probably going to fizzle out in the same way.

    1. Mark Gisleson

      If you go to Axios, there is an article from Jonathan Swan and Zachary Basu about this. (I’m guessing I got that link from here, but maybe not.)

    2. Nikkikat

      Agreed, the US a has no intention of “leaving Afghanistan”. Between the Military and the CIA, we aren’t going any where.
      Of course, there are always new countries we could invade and take over…..

      1. ambrit

        “Of course, there are always new countries we could invade and take over…” Like Greater Idaho.

          1. ambrit

            We’re sending our divisions down to Tampa / St. Pete and no “General Winter” is going to stop us this time. The “Loyal Sothrons” are no longer a ‘force’ to reckon with at Tampa. The town is now inhabited by retired Union officers and their flunkeys.
            Pocatello? Isn’t that where entertainers are “born in a trunk?” That would be considered ‘invasive’ by any right thinking citizen.
            Considering that, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HmHYiDkBNvM
            (The entertainer seen singing and dancing in this clip does do a wonderful impersonation of Ross Martin at the end.)

            1. Wukchumni

              …any plans to lay siege to the Hermitage in St. Pete?

              Pocatello’s main claim to fame is that you can almost spell potato using a mash up of the letters comprising the name, so it’s got that going for it, which is nice.

          2. Ed Miller

            Moscow is the place to invade. With the U of Idaho located there, there must be Russians there! LOLOL

  6. polar donkey

    I used to work with many hot shots in Antarctica. During the summer in the US, they would work as hot shots, then spend winter at South Pole or McMurdo. Most of them did this for multiple years. They were good people.

    1. Carolinian

      Yet another plug for Only the Brave, a true story about Arizona hotshots. It’s a great movie and gives a lot of insight about what hotshots do.

  7. Wukchumni

    “It’s California wildfire season. But firefighters say federal hotshot crews are understaffed” [Los Angeles Times]. “As another wildfire season looms over California, the U.S. Forest Service is running short of the most experienced and elite firefighters in the country — the forestry crews known as hotshots, who travel the nation putting out wildfires, according to interviews with union officials and agency employees.

    Nowhere is this more true than in California, where entry-level Forest Service firefighters in certain parts of the state earn less than the minimum wage of $14 an hour, and staffing levels have plummeted ahead of a fire season that scientists say could be especially active.
    We had a team of 6 ex-Hotshots in their 30’s cut down around 1,000 trees that had all died about 5-7 years ago around the perimeter of our cabin community in Mineral King last summer, and i’ve never seen such talent, they were all Class C fallers (the highest rating) and i’d listen & watch them take down 5 foot wide-200 foot tall trees in about 10-15 minutes while pirouetting around, and then cut off the branches in 5 more minutes, it was quite impressive.

    As far as pay goes, I don’t know how much they got for the effort, but it was a $200k grant from the state that got the ball rolling, which is a long way from $14 an hour.

    California needs fellows like this back on the fire line, but seems to only be able to pay them a fair rate, if they’re private contractors.

    1. Mantid

      Hi Wukchumni, Here’s a great article from late last year regarding Cali state fire fighters, AKA prisoners. They make about 35 cents an hour. I can’t imagine why Cali would work hard at retaining Hot Shots when they have a near unlimited prison pool to choose from. “That’s the sound of the men working on the chain, gang” https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/sep/01/california-incarcerated-firefighters-prison

      If they put in a few years as fire fighters, they could be released and perhaps find work as experienced “hot shots”. But, au contraire, they can be released to ICE and spend a few more months in prison as their deportation is organized. But that’s another story.

      Funny how prescient musicians can be. Listen to this love song from “the day”. Also, observe the album cover art. Wow, history is the future. Enjoy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jrWflCJPM4w

      1. Wukchumni

        Hotshots are the elite of all firefighters, I kinda doubt convicts would be hired for the position, and yes it’s highway robbery paying prisoners peanuts, but it beats being around walls all the time, i’d guess.

  8. flora

    Commodities: “Colonial Pipeline’s Computer Network Temporarily Goes Dark” [Bloomberg]. ….• Awesome! The consultants took down the system!

    Gotta wipe those system logs. … / heh

    1. flora

      adding: from the article:

      The hospital’s vice-president of network I.T., Doug Gentile, said that his team didn’t open a link that presumably contained a ransom note because they had no intention of giving in to the hackers. (Instead, they contacted the F.B.I.)

      That’s the correct response. FBI has first class digital forensic tools. Keeping a threatening email intact without response or alteration is important. There’s a lot info in an email’s entire packet and full route trace which is not displayed on screen by most email client programs, for example. my 2 cents.

    2. The Rev Kev

      So the hackers only took offline the ability of Colonial to charge their customers which led Colonial to shut down the line themselves. But it took professional consultants to shut down the original system itself. Sweet.

  9. tommystrange

    just disgusting that Lightfoot is playing people….most people just read headlines…and will repost on FB, etc (already seen it) like it’s some gain, without even reading what her background is…while thinking that non white reporters are somehow ‘progressive’…my god………she diverted virus funds to the police and supported increasing funding to them…..not to social workers, harm reduction, or mental health professionals….she is actively increasing the risk of more blacks getting shot for no real reason , while playing people. This is peak identity politics. As if our SF black mayors weren’t enough…ugh…

    1. Keith

      Enlightened bigotry in these times.

      After all, the new leftist mantra is the best way to fight racism is with more racism!!

    2. Michael Ismoe

      Even worse, it was politically stupid. Does anyone know how to play this game anymore?

      1. Keith

        Not sure if it was. It plays to her base which likes sticking it to the straight white male. It also provides a nice distraction from the crime and other problems in Chicago while playing up her POC bona fides. Politically, it is useful, perhaps not beneficial to society, but since when do politicians care about that.

        1. Michael Ismoe

          She already had those votes. Is this a new thing where [politicians don’t even try to appeal to certain segments of the population? 50% plus 1 should be the MINIMAL goal, not the only one.

          1. hunkerdown

            Ruling classes exist to impose their hierarchies and values, not to ask their inferiors for approval. Beneath the gratuitous complexity of markets, networks, cultures and other mystifications, patriarchal command has dominated humanity for thousands of years and has no intention of stopping now. In that light, Lightfoot is running for reelection support from the Party and the Black bourgeoisie. Which is an election, just not the one they want you to think of.

    3. The Rev Kev

      Would have been smarter for her to announce that she would only give one-on-one interviews with independent media or podcasters and if a lot of them were black or Hispanic, so much the better. But there is no way that she will put the big media companies offside by doing so which led her to go with this self-destructive stunt.

  10. Carolinian

    Here’s an alternative take on Krasner from a Greenwald guest reporter. Very unflattering. Some of those he has shown leniency toward have then killed people and crime in general in Philadelphia is way up.


    Given what must at least be characterized as a somewhat controversial record, the PBS decision to do an 8 part documentary about him just before the vote raises questions whatever side one takes.

    1. FluffytheObeseCat

      And here is a link to the rebuttal piece Greenwald published after he published Cipriano’s deceptive piece:


      Please note the case details in Spielberg’s article about the young man who defended himself and another Uber Eats driver against a violent, aggressive, coked up drunk who was portrayed by Cipriano as, a “….37-year-old real estate developer [] stabbed to death near Rittenhouse Square, one of Philadelphia’s wealthiest neighborhoods”.

      Cipriano pretty well screamed “white man with money” with this description. Everyone still residing in the U.S. today, and certainly everyone who knows jack about the dysfunctional city of Philadelphia, knows he was implying a worthy, white member of society had been evilly murdered by a young N!clang.

      In light of the yawning gap between how Cipriano presented this case and the details actually cited by Spielberg….. consider whether you can believe Cipriano’s descriptions of the other half dozen or so cases he cited as illustrative of Krasner’s unworthiness.

      IMNSHO, Cipriano wrote a dogwhistle laden hit piece. One characterized by downpunching misrepresentation, and quite possibly, libel.

      1. Carolinian

        Following your link I see that Cipirano offers a reply to your Spielberg reply and therefore those interested should see what he has to say. I do find Spielberg’s assertion that crime is up considerably in Philadelphia (and other cities apparently) due to “systemic racism” to be facile at best. On that part of it–the causes of increasing crime–if Cipriano is not making his case then neither is Spielberg. Perhaps a lot more needs to be said.

        This dispute is very far away from where I live and I’m not claiming a position on Krasner who I know nothing about–just offering up a different perspective.

    2. Big River Bandido

      PBS was captured decades ago by the neoliberal establishment, and have every reason to run hit jobs on anyone to the left of the Democrat establishment.

      Fortunately, that “alternative view” (i.e., the same ideology and actors who brought us the carcereal state) got soundly rejected by the voters of Philadelphia.

      1. Carolinian

        Didn’t watch the PBS show so I don’t know what they had to say. However I doubt they were spending 8 hrs over as many weeks on a hatchet job. Since PBS is about of the only TV I watch these days I’d describe them as more “woke” than neoliberal. They don’t talk much about economics. That said, some would hold that “woke” is neoliberal’s smokescreen. When Jamie Dimon and the Coca Cola corporation are on your side you begin to wonder.

  11. IM Doc

    With regard to the David Wallace-Wells Atlantic article –

    All I can say about his commentary about the very definition of public health is YES YES YES.
    Maybe, just maybe, we can start to reform our completely broken system when our citizens start to read and understand these issues.

    Furthermore, this is one of the first times I have read in a national journal an issue that has concerned me from the beginning. That the cT – is really not a binary test – and many many of the COVID cases that were deemed positive may not have actually been acutely positive or acutely infectious. The discussion he does on the PCR testing is beautiful in its simplicity. We all really must understand this in the event something like this happens in the future.

    I am not blaming the average guy. I have seen large numbers in the past few weeks of fully vaccinated, asymptomatic but positive patients. To this day, the cT are not reported to the clinician so we can ourselves easily determine if this is an acute large viral load or if this cT is 40 and likely represents lots of dead virus laying around. It is truly astounding that our federal agencies have not stepped in and made sure this was reported correctly. THESE PCR TESTS ARE NOT POSITIVE/NEGATIVE they are not a binary. How I would treat and react to these vaccinated PCR “positive” people would be totally different if I had the full numbers. But I do not. And after almost 18 months STILL do not.

    Furthermore, it is completely unclear and what the motivation would be why they would not insist this is provided. This has been the grist for wild conspiracy theories all year. IF THEY WOULD JUST DO THEIR JOB AND GET THESE ISSUES WORKED OUT WE WOULD ALL BE IN A MUCH BETTER PLACE.

    1. Isotope_C14

      As a regular operator of a real-time machine, actually quite a nice one – Quantstudio 6 – there is absolutely no reason the clinician shouldn’t get the sample CT and the housekeeping genes (and the no-template control wells).

      For those interested, normally when you run a plate of RT-PCR’s it is in 96 or 384 well format. You typically run 3 replicates of your sample, and of course a no-template control, and some housekeeping genes.

      All of this data is generated. It comes out in an easy to export *.xls file, and there is absolutely no reason whatsoever not to give a clinician both the housekeeping genes that are usually around a 25 or 30 CT, and the patient’s sample CT.

      While I have a reasonably fancy machine, even very cheap RT-PCR machines have easy to export data, right into an *.xls – all of them do it.

      My only guess to why they don’t disclose this would only be that they are too cheap to have some one type it into the report.

      1. Isotope_C14

        Actually – and I don’t know this for sure – and I was thinking about it when going to bed, but almost 20 years ago I was working for a diagnostic laboratory, for less than a year.

        A large amount of the materials, the plastics, the TaqMan kits, all say in tiny print “For Research Use Only not for diagnostic use”. I bet that this is all legal mumbo jumbo. If any of the legalese on all the plastic equipment says this, that they *can’t* tell you the CT, and that someone in the chain is allowed to decide a CT below 35 is a “positive” and everything else is “negative”.

        This was exactly how it was done when we reported our positives to our clients. For whatever reason you are allowed to use RT-PCR as a positive/negative assay, but beyond that, they aren’t legally allowed to tell you anything.

        The old Chicago joke goes, What’s 100 lawyers at the bottom of lake Michigan? – A good start.

        I did see a twitter thread with someone on the diagnostic side seeing CT’s of 25 often with previously vaccinated people, so perhaps that is some help.

        1. Isotope_C14

          I hope you get a chance to read this IM Doc, once a day or two goes by, I forget to look at older posts/replies.

          Also – RT-PCR technically is never considered to ever be more than +/-, and I know why, it’s because the test is showing the number of detected nucleotide copies.

          I haven’t dug through the literature, but the gold standard would be plaque forming units, as that would tell you how much viable virus existed per volume of patient sample. All kinds of interference from the swab tests, mucous, and other parameters are not well documented.

          Unfortunately the mass testing with our current situation would have been a fantastic use of all those piles of money stashed amongst the multi-billionaires to exactly answer that question – get CFU samples compared to CT.

          Now, yes, that would have required far more science technicians, and of course we can’t have a highly-educated population, there’s burgers to flip!

    2. Mikel

      Not surprising.

      Authorities still won’t come out and admit there is no certainty about how long the temporary protection from shots will last. People pulled “one year” out of a bottle of wishful thinking.

    3. Cuibono

      I am now seeing patients who died ‘with covid” after full vaccination as opposed to dying ‘from covid.”
      Never saw that before. You?
      We should have seen it before.

      1. albrt

        I for one am 100% OK with the entire rural population of the mountain west joining one state and electing only 2 senators, leaving the urban centers in the remaining rump states to elect the other 20 or so. They can definitely have Coshise, La Paz and Mohave Counties in Arizona.

        That would also be a good scheme for reorganizing the 9th Circuit – assign the two dumbest judges to Greater Idaho and then whatever you do with the rest of the 9th Circuit will probably work out OK.

  12. marym

    The decision of UNC Board of Trustees wasn’t because “In short, there is no class struggle and, therefore, there is no real history of the African-American population and the events which shaped a population of freed slaves into a critical section of the working class.(WSWS)”

    “Last summer, Hannah-Jones went through the rigorous tenure process at UNC, King said. Hannah-Jones submitted a package [dean of UNC Hussman Susan] King said was as well reviewed as any King had ever seen. Hannah-Jones had enthusiastic support from faculty and the tenure committee, with the process going smoothly every step of the way — until it reached the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees..”

    UNC hire of acclaimed journalist sparks conservative ire

    1. Carolinian

      Regardless of whether she is “acclaimed” (and by who), are you saying that the criticism of 1619 by noted historians of no particular political orientation is wrong or irrelevant? It’s not just the WSWS. One can see bias in the rejection and also bias in the acceptance. There seems to be an atmosphere now where tenure is increasingly used to punish those the donor class doesn’t like and reward those it does.

      1. marym

        No, I’m saying objections to a race-oriented view of US history from the conservative right are different from objections from those on the left supporting a class-oriented view.

        In the bit from the WSWS that I quoted for example, conservative critics like the Heritage Foundation quoted in the Daily Mail who consider the 1619 project “radical and anti-American” would not necessarily subscribe to the WSWS view of US history as a class struggle and freed slaves or their descendants “as a critical section of the working class.”

        1. Carolinian

          You are trying to make this into a political dispute and I’m trying to make it into a factual one. IMO if Hannah-Jones distorted the facts of US history in order to further her thesis then she really doesn’t deserve to be anywhere near a university.

          I often find the WSWS take on things to be a bit flaky and am not here to vouch for their agenda any more than hers. However I have read some of their articles on this and they seemed to have debunked her article on the facts.

          1. marym

            The 1619 Project is a collection of essays on historical and cultural topics, personal reflections, poetry, and photography by a number of historians, journalists, and artists, presented in a magazine format accessible to a popular audience. Whether or not the errors in NH-J’s introductory article are sufficient to justify denial of tenure, or trustees should overrule faculty on the question, in general I don’t think those errors are the sole reason for the storm of conservative objections.

            I agree that facts should not be distorted, and it’s proper that they be disputed and corrected.

    2. hunkerdown

      What kind of aristocratic class entitlement is this? Nobody is entitled to lie to the public and school children for profit and get a job afterward. It’s disgusting that people would give her any support, even rhetorically, for being a predator.

  13. allan

    Millions of electric cars are coming. What happens to all the dead batteries? [Science]

    … Governments are inching toward requiring some level of recycling. In 2018, China imposed new rules aimed at promoting the reuse of EV battery components. The European Union is expected to finalize its first requirements this year. In the United States, the federal government has yet to advance recycling mandates, but several states, including California—the nation’s largest car market—are exploring setting their own rules.

    Complying won’t be easy. Batteries differ widely in chemistry and construction, which makes it difficult to create efficient recycling systems. And the cells are often held together with tough glues that make them difficult to take apart. That has contributed to an economic obstacle: It’s often cheaper for batterymakers to buy freshly mined metals than to use recycled materials. …

    Surely this minor drawback can be disrupted by a public-private partnership,
    leveraged with a a targeted refundable tax credit.

    1. rowlf

      A friend works at a lead acid battery recycling plant of recent vintage. He states that the only part of a lead acid battery that doesn’t get recycled at the plant is the labels. I’m not sure if the other battery types can be treated the same.

      1. hunkerdown

        Sulfuric acid is serious, but lithium is capricious. Instead of plastic boxes encasing the strong chemicals, there are lots of 65mm long metal cylinders (usually) or Mylar envelopes. The fire risk of lead-acid disassembly is a bit lower.

        It may be the case that recovery of damaged lithium batteries is most economically done by scaling pyrolysis from a safe distance.

  14. Wukchumni

    A massive slab of ice, nearly six times the size of New York City, has broken off of an ice shelf in Antarctica, creating what is now the largest iceberg in the world, scientists recently announced.


    Yo A-76 let’s kick it
    Ice, ice baby
    Ice, ice baby

    Alright stop, collaborate and listen
    Ice is back with a brand new intention
    Something grabs a hold of ocean tightly
    Flows like a frozen margarita daily and nightly
    Will it ever stop? Yo, I don’t know
    Turn off the harbor lights, and go!

    To the extreme, it takes over like a vandal
    Light up a stage and wax a shoreline like a candle
    Dense, go rush to the land that looms
    I’m killing your coast like a harbinger of doom

    Deadly, when I play a splish splash melody
    Anything less than an island floater is a felony
    Love it or leave it, you better gangway
    You better head inland, the hunk of ice don’t play
    If there was a problem, yo, how do you solve it
    Check out the look while nobody resolves it

    Ice, ice baby


  15. tegnost

    “Biden proposes doubling IRS workforce as part of plan to snag tax cheats”

    This is the real biden. He’s here to punish non compliant serfs. Get in line.
    You really think your uber drivers and door dashers are filing?

  16. FreeMarketApologist

    Better link for the shameless plug for the automat version of a dumpling shop:

    “reimagines restaurant experince” indeed. It’s a [family blog] automat. With machines and underpaid staff cranking out fast food. It’s telling that this is on St. Marks Place, a major nexus for the college crowd, and their plan is to expand to campuses elsewhere.

    It’s generally not my nature to wish entrepreneurs ill, but I’ll make an exception here: This is a c*** idea and I hope they get shut down by the Board of Health, and the place burns to the ground, with all their equipment and recipes.

    1. Michael Ismoe

      These are the same people who are convinced that Obama brought Hope and Change to America. You can’t fight them just laugh at them.

      1. Luke

        Read. They explicitly came from the sanders campaign.

        “Cynicism is a sorry sort of wisdom”.

        Ok, sorry, that’s an Obama quite. Divorced from context it’s really a money quote.


  17. TroyIA

    Novelty Means Severity

    SARS-CoV-2 is new to our immune systems. That makes it very dangerous. Viruses that are new to us spread faster and are more lethal than old familiar ones.

    Some scientists are tempted to chalk this up to evolution. The argument is that a virus that leaves its host alive will outcompete one that kills its host. Viruses do sometimes become less deadly as they adapt to a new host species (like us), but they also sometimes become more deadly. But whether wrong or right for a given virus, this tempting just-so story can be a distraction.

    Novelty is bad regardless of virus evolution.

    When a virus is new, nobody possesses acquired immune protection against it. Acquired immune protection is a different kind of adaptation: not virus evolution, but our own learned—adaptive—immunity. We build over our lifetimes as we encounter new pathogens and learn how to fend them off.

    If nobody has adaptive immune protection, a virus spreads faster. Even a few immune individuals in a population can meaningfully slow the rate of virus spread, since they are less likely to become infectious and infect others. If there are enough immune individuals, the virus may not be able to spread at all. This is the logic of population immunity and herd immunity. It is important. We talk about it a lot.

    If nobody has adaptive immune protection, a virus causes severe disease in more of the people it infects. This is also important. We don’t talk about it enough.

    Unless we eradicate SARS-CoV-2—possible but not likely, especially in the short term—just about everyone is going to encounter the virus sooner or later. But those who have adaptive immunity from infection or vaccination may not get sick at all. Even if they do, they will be less likely to get very sick or die.

    Now that we have safe, effective vaccines, we can give people immunity without causing dangerous disease. That puts us into a global race against the virus. The more people who see the vaccine before they see SARS-CoV-2, the fewer severe cases, long-term health problems, and deaths. Faster worldwide rollout will save lives. It really is that simple.

  18. Arizona Slim

    About that bird-attracting article: I’m going to say something that will probably make a few people mad, but I’m going to say it.

    In my neighborhood, the Arizona Slim Ranch is known as Bird Central. They love to hang out in my trees, call in their various bird languages, and build nests.

    Right now, there are two white-winged dove’s nests in my front yard trees. Can’t really see what’s going on, but that’s the point. Those birds aren’t stupid.

    Out back, there’s a mourning dove nest on the solar electric equipment box. The kids just hatched! Woo-hoo! The kids just hatched!

    What’s the secret to my success? Uh-oh. Here comes the controversial part.

    I don’t have pets.

    This is a personal choice, and it’s working well for me. It also seems to please the birds.

    1. ambrit

      I’m still trying to figure out how to design an effective “Scarecat.” Romney Marsh, here we come!

    2. Wukchumni

      The problem of cat versus bird is as old as time. If we attempt to resolve it by legislation who knows but what we may be called upon to take sides as well in the age old problems of dog versus cat, bird versus bird, or even bird versus worm. In my opinion, the State of Illinois and its local governing bodies already have enough to do without trying to control feline delinquency.

      For these reasons, and not because I love birds the less or cats the more, I veto and withhold my approval from Senate Bill No. 93.

      Adlai Stevenson

      {Vetoing a Bill that would have imposed fines on owners who allowed cats to run at large.} (23 April 1949)

  19. allan

    Businesses should continue indoor masking policies in King County, health officials say [Seattle Times]

    Vaccinated or not, everyone should wear a mask when indoors and in a public space.

    -That’s the message from Public Health — Seattle & King County, which issued a new directive Thursday from health officer Dr. Jeff Duchin.

    The directive applies to public indoor spaces unless they have implemented a state-approved means of checking everyone’s vaccination status upon entry, the directive says.

    It will apply until at least 70% of the county’s population 16 years and older are fully vaccinated. …

    Good luck with that, Dr. Duchin. You’ll need to talk to the (invisible) hand.
    Thanks to the CDC, it’s a race to the bottom of Galt’s Gulch.

  20. The Rev Kev

    “Dogs Sniffing Covid From Sweat Fare Almost as Well as PCR Tests’

    Came across a story a few hours ago how they are considering using bees to detect this virus. Hey man, whatever works as far as I am concerned-


    I’m just waiting for the studies from Stanford and the articles in The Lancet saying that this will never work and is irresponsible but that we should continue to trust big Pharma to save us.

  21. Wukchumni

    I was at my mom’s assisted living place a few weeks ago, and Whittier like a number of cities in Southern California has ‘hometown hero’ banners with a name and sometimes a photo up on lightposts, and what did you need to do to be a hero?

    …why enlist in the armed forces, see how easy that was?

    I noticed the ones on Whittier blvd are all beat up from the Sun and some of them torn from being up there for close to 15 years, a fade accompli not dissimilar to our military.

  22. Wukchumni

    “With the opening of Museum of Selfies, The Linq Promenade continues to be the premier location for world-class attractions on the Las Vegas Strip,” said Linq Promenade General Manager Tonia Chafetz. “We look forward to welcoming this top-rated museum to our impressive collection of attractions, such as the High Roller Observation Wheel, Fly Linq Zipline, VR Adventures, and I Love Sugar — one of the world’s largest candy stores.”

    The Museum of Selfies will be open 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 10 a.m.- midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. Ticket prices start at $29 for adults and $22 for children ages 3-12 (children under 3 are free).


    $29 to get into a selfie museum, ha ha!

    1. ObjectiveFunction

      This fad started in Korea, where talented detail artists are cheap (that’s where animation went in the pre-CGI era), and these galleries are now all through Asia.

      The walls contain trompe l’oeil or famous paintings with a central figure missing, or optical illusions (giant chairs, etc.) with suitable lighting. Guests stroll around, mugging for selfies. Good family fun for 45 minutes or so, which is probably as much physical activity as the global bourgeoisie can comfortably manage. Operating costs are low, mainly aircon.

      It’s really just a variation on the whimsical figures with the face cut out that you stand behind.

  23. flora

    an aside:
    Fukuyama’s 1992 conceit the West had reached the “end of history” in creating a perfect eternal economic balance was a premature celebration, imo. See for example:


    The opportunistic pols of 40 years ago and on through the 90s and 20s, grabbing onto the neoliberal “there is no alternative”, have run out of the “future” and “inevitability” argument, imo. / ;)

    1. The Rev Kev

      Hmphh! Sounds like we haven’t run so much out of “future” and “inevitability” as actual runway. :(

  24. Cuibono

    it just seems more likely that most of them just really believed masks were ineffective, or at least weren’t confident enough about what they thought to fight about it…. Based on the expert view that regular people just wouldn’t make good use of them, the UK standing stockpile was reduced to keeping masks for healthcare workers only. The CDC had similar longstanding guidelines in place prior to the pandemic, so it’s not plausible to believe that the anti-mask stance came about because of shortages- rather the shortages were (in part) caused by the belief.”

    This is almost surely true. As is the strong belief, still present, the closing borders cant work

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