Links 5/11/2021

Neanderthals carb loaded, helping grow their big brains Science

In the emptiness of space, Voyager 1 detects plasma ‘hum’ (dk).

Brood X Cicadas Are Emerging at Last Scientific American

Yves supplies this “Note on Mayberry v. KKR” (see NC most recently here for background):

A sad day Monday in Frankfort, KY. The lawyers representing the so-called Tier 3 Plaintiffs had found a lot of troubling information about the supposedly independent investigator hired to examine the Kentucky Retirement System claims….who’d never managed an independent investigation and only experience with public pension funds was having been a protege of Alan Hevesi during the time when he was looting them. Judge Philip Shepherd didn’t take kindly to the motion they’d filed presenting this information. He effectively said he didn’t regard the press (even a three month investigation by the New York Times back in the day when it could afford to have actual reporters) as a valid source of information, that anyone who had ever tried to do anything important had gotten negative press, and chided them for making ad hominem attacks.

Inside Pictet, the Secretive Swiss Bank for the World’s Richest People Bloomberg

Nix Facebook’s plan to create Instagram for kids, state attorneys general urge CEO Mark Zuckerberg USA Today

Don’t Trust the Antitrust Narrative on Farms LPE Project

The Chip Shortage Keeps Getting Worse. Why Can’t We Just Make More? Bloomberg. Wait. You’re telling me the world doesn’t change just because we plug new values into our spreadsheets?


COVID-19 is airborne, acknowledges US CDC Business Today. From India.

How Did We Get Here: What Are Droplets and Aerosols and How Far Do They Go? A Historical Perspective on the Transmission of Respiratory Infectious Diseases SSRN

* * *
The COVID-19 puzzle: deciphering pathophysiology and phenotypes of a new disease entity The Lancet. From the Abstract: “Some similarities exist between COVID-19 and respiratory failure of other origins, but evidence for many distinctive mechanistic features indicates that COVID-19 constitutes a new disease entity, with emerging data suggesting involvement of an endotheliopathy-centred pathophysiology.” From Stanford’s Kevin Kuo, Endotheliopathy: “The endothelium, the cell layer lining blood vessels is not a passive conduit, but can rather be thought of as an organ that interacts with both blood components as well as vascular smooth muscle. In this role, the endothelium is crucial for regulation and modulation of immune responses, coagulation, and vascular smooth muscle tone.” Zeroing in, if this layperson understands correctly, on all the weird blood stuff that happens with Covid: The clotting, the strokes, etc.

* * *
FDA authorizes Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for younger teens, moving US ‘closer to returning to a sense of normalcy’ USA Today. This “normalcy” frame is making my back teeth itch, starting with the fact that our past normal wasn’t all that great.

Vaccine Production and Open Source Technology CEPR

SARS-CoV-2 B.1.617 emergence and sensitivity to vaccine-elicited antibodies (preprint) medRviv. From the Abstract: “The B.1.617 variant emerged in the Indian state of Maharashtra in late 2020 and has spread throughout India and to at least 40 countries…. We report that B.1.617.1 spike bearing L452R, E484Q and P681R mediates entry into cells with slightly reduced efficiency compared to Wuhan-1…. Furthermore we show that the P681R mutation significantly augments syncytium formation upon the B.1.617.1 spike protein, potentially contributing to increased pathogenesis observed in hamsters and infection growth rates observed in humans.”

* * *
The US has got first-world Covid problems CNN. For the parts of the US that are First World, yes.

We reviewed three at-home covid tests. The results were mixed. MIT Technology Review (nvl).


Man hangs on for dear life as high winds shatter glass bridge 300 feet in the air The Hill. I’ve always hated these things, because to me they symbolize and normalize precarity as thrilling yet safe (so it’s no coincidence they’ve emerged now in “moderately prosperous” China as a domestic tourist thrill).

There it is, your “safety net.”

The EU Suspends Ratification of CAI Investment Agreement with China: Business and Trade Implications China Briefing

China’s Deep-Sea Motivation for Claiming Sovereignty Over the South China Sea The Diplomat

Carrie Lam orders another round of coronavirus testing for Hong Kong’s domestic helpers, pulls plug on mandatory vaccination plan South China Morning Post

China demographic crisis looms as population growth slips to slowest ever Reuters

Worried by rise in COVID-19 cases, Taiwan bans large scale gatherings Focus Taiwan

Philippines Plans Military Hub, Sea Cameras Amid China Row Bloomberg

Agent Orange: French court rejects claim against Bayer Deutsche Welle


Interview with Myanmar war lord potential statesman. Thread of videos:


I can’t vouch for the provenance. This caught my eye: “We believe armed resistance is the only answer. However, these efforts mustn’t be short-lived, and they need to be determined and stoic for a long time.” (I’d speculate that “stoic” is the best translation of a Buddhist concept, given that the Arakan National Council is Rakhine, and I wonder what that concept is. Asia hands please comment!)

Thousands suspended at Myanmar universities as junta targets education Straits Times

National Unity Government fights junta’s ‘slave education’ with plan to build parallel system Myanmar Now

‘North Korea-Style Blackout’: Myanmar Journalist Asks World To Keep Watching Vice


Indian COVID-19 strain of global concern, WHO warns, as bodies wash up on banks of Ganges ABC Australia

A potentially fatal fungal infection is cropping up among India’s Covid patients. NYT

Indian doctors warn against cow dung as COVID cure Reuters

Covid batters India’s aspiring middle classes FT

State governments can purchase only 25% of vaccines – belying Centre’s claim of equitable policy

Covid Crisis Isn’t Fault of ‘System’ but of Modi’s Systematic Perversion of the System: Arun Shourie The Wire

Exclusive: Foxconn’s iPhone output in India down amid COVID surge – sources Channel News Asia


Tree catches fire outside Jerusalem’s al Aqsa mosque, no damage to mosque Reuters. Nevertheless, very poor optics:


Jerusalem: Israel delays Palestinian eviction hearing after clashes Deutsche Welle. The first draft of history. And the second:


Iraqi Kurdistan’s authoritarian turn: western ally ‘discards idea of democracy’ FT


Zero Covid deaths for England, Scotland and NI BBC

A slap in the face’: Hundreds of frontline Covid doctors told they won’t have jobs from August Independent

French soldiers warn of civil war in new letter BBC

Biden Administration

Biden explains that workers must sell their labor power to survive:


After walking back the minimum wage, too! Pasek amplifies:


Biden Administration Restores Rights for Transgender Patients NYT

U.S. Offers States $350 Billion in Aid, With Conditions Bloomberg

Op-ed: Republican and Democratic leaders are far apart on infrastructure. Here’s a common-sense compromise Larry Hogan, CNBC. “A smart and targeted federal package.”

Sanders pushes Medicare expansion in Dems’ next big bill Politics. How civilized countries do it:


Since our Medicare has a bad neoliberal infestation, starting with co-pays and deductibles, it doesn’t meet the baseline for being civilized. Still, better than nothing.

Rahm Emanuel to be appointed US ambassador to Japan FT. Well, so much for the Biden administration (see e.g.).

Pentagon considers ending massive computing contract: report The Hill. Cloud computing. If the Pentagon (!) doesn’t want to go ahead with it, it must be a boondoggle of ginormous scale.

Biden leading ‘whole of government’ response to Colonial Pipeline attack The Hill. The nature of the attack is not clear; could it really be that Colonial shut down the pipeline because its billing system was crippled?!

Pipeline Hackers Say They’re ‘Apolitical,’ Will Choose Targets More Carefully Next Time Vice (Re Silc).

Health Care

Scripps Health CEO Confirms to Staff That Information Systems Damaged By Malware NBC San Diego. Epic fail?

Our Famously Free Press

We can defeat the corporate media’s war to snuff out independent journalism Jonathan Cook

If You Believed Something Else, You Wouldn’t Be Sitting Here: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix Caitlin Johnstone

Guillotine Watch

Jeff Bezos’s New Yacht Comes With Its Own Yacht? New York Magazine. The Man needs an escape pod. Sensible.

Survivors Stuck in Limbo as PG&E Fire Victim Trust Pays Out $50 Million in Fees KQED

Class Warfare

GOP Governors End COVID Unemployment Benefits to Make People Go Back to Work New York Magazine

Service Workers Aren’t Lazy — They Just Don’t Want to Risk Dying for Minimum Wage Jacobin

Doomsday for bad bosses Jon Walker, The Week

The PRO Act: What’s in It and Why Is It a Labor Movement Priority? Teen Vogue

The Psychedelic Revolution Is Coming. Psychiatry May Never Be the Same. NYT (Furzy Mouse).

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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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. fresno dan
    The man was later sent to a hospital for a check-up and to receive psychological counseling after the incident. (not to mention cleaning his pants)
    I think I will need psychological counseling too – and I’m just reading about it….I’m pretty sure I would have just died right there from fear. Of course, NO WAY would I have gone out there. Yup, I’d take a bullet before I would walk out on that thing. So much for engineering – at least Chinese engineering.
    I can’t watch this documentary of the guy who tightrope walked between the twin towers – just seeing it on a TV screen is beyond my capability. And I don’t understand why the guy would go out there in high winds – did a storm come up after he was out there? And it doesn’t sound like the Chinese police and fire departments are all that useful as he apparently crawled off the bridge himself.

    1. The Rev Kev

      With good engineering, constructing glass bridges should not be that hard and I believe that there are about 60 of them in China right now. That glass is tough enough that they show how tough it is with by hitting it with sledge hammers and have driven a car across one. But I have seen videos of some pretty dodgy Chinese construction jobs and I would guess the same to have happened here.

      Something else though. Have you ever been on a boat and some people are OK with it while others get themselves terribly seasick and hang themselves over the sides. And how the former group have zero sympathy with those in the later group The same seems to be true of people going over those glass bridges from what I see here- (8:05 mins)

      And people can be cruel to their dogs on these things too- (1:34 mins)

      1. curlydan

        Glass bridges are often built over relatively inaccessible places (i.e. no car traffic or in a national-type park). I can see some engineers thinking they know the tolerances needed and then learning that, oops, nature can throw up some instances that exceed the engineered tolerances.

        Most of these glass bridges are “toll” bridges, too, so you’ve got to pay to go on them. The engineers may be under pressure to get them built to start collecting those tolls, leading to quick and possibly shoddy construction.

      2. heresy101

        It was probably designed like Galloping Gertie, which most engineering students have seen. The Tacoma Narrows bridge did not fully account for the dynamic forces and movements that occur in from the wind.
        The bridge’s downfall was her own peculiar response to the wind, in a phenomenon known as self-excitation, aeroelastic instability, or flutter. In other words, while Gertie was affected by vibrations caused by the wind, those vibrations didn’t reach a resonant frequency. Rather, as the wind vibrated her deck both vertically and in a twisting motion, her own response to that movement brought herself down.”

        1. LifelongLib

          I’m not an engineer, but I’ve read that “Galloping Gertie” was the culmination of a trend towards longer and thinner suspension bridge decks. From the air the deck looked like a ribbon. After it collapsed several other suspension bridges were hastily retrofitted with deeper, stronger deck trusses.

      3. Copeland

        Yes glass is super-strong when you try to smash the surface of it, but what happens when [powerful winds] push on two opposing corners of a square piece of it, forcing it into a parallelogram shape?

        1. Yves Smith

          Right, what I believe they call in buildings “rotation load” which is seldom measured.

          True story taught in MIT architecture school in 1980s by guilty architect (personal friend saw lecture and reported shortly thereafter). Said architect had been using the unusual Citicorp Center as a case example of how to calculate building loads, like compression load (will the building collapse under its own weight and that of stuff in it when fully occupied) and the wind load on the sides of the building. IIRC NYC building codes are for the building to hold up even in a 1 in every 1000 year storm.

          Citicorp Center didn’t come down on four corners like a normal building. A holdout tenant, a small church on one corner of the plot, led to a design where you had normal very tall rectangular building supported only by two stilts, one each in the middle of the widest side of the rectangle

          The first time the architect taught using that building, about seven years after its completion, a student put up his hand: “OK, you calculated the load from wind hitting each side. But what about the rotation load?”

          The architect said they hadn’t looked that that.

          He spend all night making computations. He concuded the building would fall down in the one in every 25 year storm, on Bloomingdales.

          They also determined if they welded all the pin connections, it would provide enough additional structural strength to solve the problem.

          This was April. Storm season in NYC is August.

          They hired virtually every welder east of the Mississippi to get it done on time.

  2. IM Doc

    With regard to the Scripps Clinic EMR ransomware disaster.

    It is Epic. It is clearly involving patient care issues such as scheduling and portal messaging and medical records. So, this is not just “internal servers”.

    I cannot tell you how many times I have set through Epic meetings with their employees bragging that their systems and software are impervious to hacks.

    Smaller non-epic hospitals have been hit before. This is the first Epic whale.

    I have known this day was coming for a long time. These systems are a disaster.

    Americans, when your Doc is putting your private medical info into a computer, as of today, he may as well be putting it online for the world to see. You have been warned.

    And I am certain the CEO’s hesitation to talk is because of his EPIC contract. It is boilerplate in all of them. No matter what happens, even if Epic’s fault, you can say or do nothing.

    1. Milton

      I’m with Scripps Health and have received no direct notification of any of this, though it may be because the entire system is crippled. My portal entry is down as are the billing sites. Those large rooms with volumes of patient records in color-coded file tabs are looking better and better.

    2. CNu

      IM Doc,

      No dog in this hunt, but in the interest of clarity, the article and embedded t.v. news stories don’t give any indication that Epic platforms/applications were attacked. Rather, it is stated that the email system and portal integrations were hit by malware. This would be consistent with every other ransomware attack with which I’m familiar.

      Further, most cyber-insurers implement a complete information clampdown in the event of such incidents. My guess is that industry-standard low per capita spend on IT at Scripps left Windows based systems – with which Epic is integrated – vulnerable to attack. Further, no telling how long or how extensively that email system (Exchange?) was compromised and Scripps systems surveilled – prior to the actual ransomware attack.

      Going after Linux backend systems would be highly atypical, inclusive of Epic’s database and application servers.

      1. Yves Smith

        All of IM Doc’s patients with appointments through June have had them cancelled. That is not the behavior you would see with the level of attack you describe. Scrips is not being truthful.

        Via e-mail:

        All of my patient’s appointments there have been cancelled until June – they are admitting no one – and no one seems to know if it will be back or not anytime soon. It has already been going on for a week.

    3. crittermom

      > ” You have been warned.”

      But what can we do about it? The doctors, hospitals, pharmacies all use computers now for records.
      We patients aren’t allowed to throw a wrench in the system by requesting it all be on hard copy. THAT would bring things to a halt in this ‘new age’.

      I received notice last year from an imaging company through the hospital here that all of my info and medical records had been hacked. That must have included the previous 3 years of my cancer and treatment, as well, that I had sent from my previous state.
      Completely out of my (our) control, as I see it.

      As a photographer I’ve never wanted my photos in ‘the cloud’. Never trusted it, but had my son install Windows 10 last year & some of my photos have ended up there.

      I’ve so hated the photo program in 10 that after searching, yesterday I was able to once again install the photo viewer used in windows 7, so hopefully solved that problem.

      Medical records, however, seem beyond our control regarding access.

    4. Arizona Slim

      Doc, one of my friends would so strongly agree with you, you would be able to hear her all the way across the country.

      A few years ago, she was telling me about a local hospital that was bought out by a hospital chain. That chain forced the conversion of the hospital software to Epic, and it was a disaster.

      My friend said that all sorts of people left that hospital because of Epic. It was that bad.

    5. chuck roast

      There have been any number of ransomeware attacks in the past few years. I say ‘any’, because really, who knows how many attacks have occurred that were quietly settled “out of court.” I’m struck by the fact that none of these hackers has ever been caught. All the authorities and cyber-security companies can do is “expose” the supposed wrong-doers and imply that they are beyond the law, but they are really bad, bad guys. Cyber-fraud…right up there with fraudulent conveyance as a sure-fire scam with zero possibility of jail-time. It’s actually superior to standard financial crime since financial crime gone bad usually involves paying the vig in-lieu-of-jail.

    6. JCC

      Sometimes I almost wish it would be put online. I recently got my annual physical, male, mid-60’s.

      I read the report last week and one of the items stated that I had problems with my “upper cervix”.

      Does anyone know of any physicians that can repair this issue?

  3. John A

    Craig Murray has been sentenced to 8 months for contempt of [kangaroo/star chamber] court. He has been permitted leave to appeal subject to surrendering his passport. He was due to travel to Madrid to give evidence about CIA spying on Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy. Double win/win for the UK/US Stasi state apparatus.
    Pour encourager les autres, springs to mind.

    1. Robert Gray

      > He has been permitted leave to appeal subject to surrendering his passport.

      Sorry if your info is more recent but Murray says today (11 May) on his blog that the very court which sentenced him is considering whether to grant him leave to appeal. He writes

      > Should this court refuse permission to appeal, which seems not unlikely, I will in all probability
      > be jailed while we apply direct to the Supreme Court for permission, which will take some months. [emphasis added]

    2. Tom Stone

      Craig Murray is also appealing for $ to fund his appeal to the UK Supreme Court, a worthy cause indeed.
      The stupidity of the authorities pissing away any legitimacy the courts and Government might have had is stunning.
      All it leaves them is force and intimidation as ways to deal with dissent and the consequences will be grim.
      I’m still waiting to hear from the CA EDD about the application I filed 1/11/21 or I’d send a few $.

      1. Nikkikat

        In regards to Ca EDD, we have had to call and call. We never get more that one week check at a time. It just sits in pending. Have to call every darn two weeks.
        Most pathetic stressful existence I have ever lived.

    3. ambrit

      Well, now we have another real “Prisoner of Conscience” to put on our tee shirts. Would putting Murray and Assange together on a tee shirt raise “copyright infringement” issues? I’m feeling soooooo cynical today that I’m wondering if some malign actors haven’t already “copyrighted” the image of Murray, so as to ‘sit on it’ and keep the meme out of “official” circulation.
      If Murray goes “straight to jail,” will he be allowed to testify to the Spanish court via Zoom?
      The close proximity of the two occurrences looks dodgy at best.
      Our [Insert favourite Conspiracy Theory Villain here] Overlords are no longer worrying about the optics of their actions. Now, Power is All.

    4. Astrid

      Let this be a lesson for us all. This is the sort of monster we’re all up against. Those who would bomb children and destroy countries abroad for their career have no compunction for lawfaring and innuendoing their opponents at home.

      Donation made and a solemn curse uttered that the likes of Starmer and the Murrells and Dorrian suffer the fate of Usmanov’s victims. Just deserts.

  4. Terry Flynn

    NB re Australia Healthcare. Many providers engage in “bulk billing” whereby the “patient pays and gets automatic Medicare rebate” model is avoided (and in many cases even that is a painless experience). Bulk billing means the provider charges just the Medicare rate; the charge automatically comes from Medicare to the provider with no fuss to the patient.

    1. crittermom

      >”the charge automatically comes from Medicare to the provider with no fuss to the patient.”

      I doubt that would fly here in the USA, USA!
      It’s too sensible and doesn’t seem to allow room for the grifters. /s

  5. John Siman

    I hope as many readers as possible will take the time to read Jonathan Cook’s brilliant presentation on “The Corporate Media’s War to Snuff Out Independent Journalism.”

    “This new model of journalism is revolutionary,” Cook writes. “It is genuinely pluralistic media. It allows a much wider spectrum of thought to reach the mainstream than ever before. And perhaps even more importantly, it allows independent journalists to examine, critique and expose the corporate media in real time, showing how little pluralism they allow and how often they resort to blatant falsehood and propaganda techniques.”

    Yes, there is a war now, just as Cook says, a real war, of not so many dozens of Davids against the biggest Goliaths ever. And we are on the side of truth!

    1. freebird

      But what happens as the web’s gatekeepers redo algorithms and otherwise hard or soft-censor everything to suit the global corporocrats? Because we’re on to that stage in the war.

      1. Pelham

        This is why we need actual printing presses in addition to online platforms governed by goons.

  6. timbers

    Biden explains that workers must sell their labor power to survive:

    Biden needs to do a tour of South America. There are plenty of nations there, where we have toppled elected governments and replaced them with pro corporate crazy dictators allowing multi nationals to rape their natural resources and suppress local wages, fostering poverty everywhere.

    On his tour, he must invite the children from everywhere to come to America. They will work probably for about $2/hour here in the states. That way we can have our fast food, and eat it, too. This wil end scattered reports of staff at Chipolte or McDonald’s quitting in mass to protest low pay. If he runs into political problems with children flooding our boarders, he can blame it on his predecessor and issue Executive Orders to pretend he’s doing something about it.

    The sooner we do this the better. If we don’t how will these companies afford their next round of stock buy backs?

  7. zagonostra

    >Service Workers Aren’t Lazy — They Just Don’t Want to Risk Dying for Minimum Wage – Jacobin

    Concluding sentence:

    Service Workers Aren’t Lazy — They Just Don’t Want to Risk Dying for Minimum Wage.

    The logic is that if the wages were higher then they would be willing to “risk dying.” I don’t like how Jacobin tries to leverages CV19 even though the ends are laudable.

    When the article claims “the coronavirus pandemic wiped out an enormous swath of the restaurant workforce” they link to a study that concludes that “manufacturing sectors – face increased risks for pandemic-related mortality.” This is a far cry from “enormous swath” having died due to CV19.

    I’m all in for higher wages, healthcare, and the right of individuals to receive a livable wage. This does not need the justification of a pandemic. It could however benefit from a structural class analysis, something Jacobin should be good at.

    1. Alfred

      I spent some time this morning on Reddit’s “I quit my job on the first day” page. This is more informative and relatable than anything Jacobin or other thoughtful publications could come up with.

      1. The Rev Kev

        You think that in a few short years time, that prospective employers will be asking the question; ‘Ah, I see that you have an employment gap in your work record from mid-2020 to mid-2021, Care to explain this gap? Were you taking time off?’

          1. Jason Boxman

            And that’s the power the capitalist class will do anything to ensure you can’t exercise. Everyone has a powerful need to eat.

            1. Alfred

              Only if we hand that power over to them. Unfortunately there is always someone who has been conditioned that abuse is a normal part of life who thinks there is no alternative.

        1. Geo

          In my early 20’s I was living in NYC working restaurant jobs. I was working at a place downtown when 9/11 happened and was laid off. After taking whatever random gigs I could to get by I ended up landing a graphic design job that November. A few days in a coworker told me the guy who has the job before me got fired because he refused to come in to work on 9/11 and apparently our boss yelled at him over the phone that morning, “it’s not the end of the world!” The office was in Union Square literally just two blocks north of 14th Street which was the dividing line between where NYC was evacuated for a few days after the attack.

          I’d already sensed this employer was going to be a rough one but that still lingers with me as just how callous an employer can be. But, I kept the job because it was my first steady paycheck in my life at that point and it was doing something moderately creative which was more enjoyable than waitering, bussing tables, and housekeeping which I’d been doing before that.

          About a year in to the job I was getting my freelance filmmaking work off the ground on evenings and weekends thinking about whether I should quit the stability of a full time job when one day we got a call that a coworker had died in a car wreck. The boss’s first words were, “That guy was an *family blog* anyway.”

          Another coworker confronted him about this and his treatment of people and his response was “you don’t have to work here.” I quit later that week. I’d rather gone back to being a housekeeper for an escort agency where the bosses treated me and their escorts with more respect than this guy treated his office staff.

          1. lyman alpha blob

            I worked for Washington Mutual in 2001 in their corporate tower in downtown Seattle. I had 9/11 off and woke up to the NYC towers collapsing and news of potential threats to other buildings across the US. In the late afternoon I ran into a co-worker who told me the bank did not send people home that day, which seemed very callous considering the risk at the time.

            I did not shed any tears when the company went spectacularly bankrupt a few years later. [family bog] ’em.

            1. newcatty

              “[Family bog ]’em”.

              9/11 stories. Reminds me of where were you when ( for those of us oldsters old enough to remember) JFK was assassinated? I was walking home for lunch from school…lived in a very small town. I was alone at home, but something nudged me to turn on TV. Which was strange, since I usually never watched the tube at lunchtime. I made a sandwich and spent time reading. It was shocking and, as a child it was confusing and frightening, while also intuitively heartbreakingly sad.

              On 9/11 I was working at a [ Family bog] position in a public “institution”. I was ready to resign and it was at the early beginning of the work day. I walked into the office of the boss, handed over a resignation letter and waited for a response. He growled something under his breath. Told me that I would never get another job again in that profession. Not one word about what was happening in the country. I walked out with my plants, case, etc. To my car. As I was ready to open the driver’s side door, there was the kindest and supportive co-worker shaking her head . You’re leaving. Knew this would happen here. Told her of the threat from our boss. She said nothing, but told me she would give me an excellent recommendation. She was a major program director, so was in position to be an influential reference.

              I went home and walked into our house. My spouse was home and it wasn’t unusual. He had taken day off to care for our toddler granddaughter. He looked shaken and said, “We have been attacked”. Pointed at tee vee and I learned about 9/11 that moment. The irony…I quit that awful job that very morning. Our granddaughter’s parents were out of country. She ended staying two more weeks with us. Her parents finally were able to fly home, weeks after their scheduled flight back.

  8. JohnMc

    The covid-19 puzzle: good to see this issue finally getting the attention it deserves. Medcram was pounding the table over a year ago that covid was not a respiratory disease but a disease of the endothelium. see here for a pretty detailed explanation of the biological mechanism:

    and to the extent that this hypothesis is correct, it is those with damaged endotheliums (the diabetic and pre-diabetics) who are at risk and put other at risk as they tend to be the super-spreaders.

    1. Carla

      Speaking of MedCram, Dr. Seheult hasn’t posted for 3 weeks now. I’m starting to worry. Hope he hasn’t gotten sick, or been silenced. Maybe he’s just taking a much-needed vacation.

    2. urblintz

      Early in the pandemic (3/20?) I posted (here) a link to an Italian doctor who claimed Covid was vascular, not respiratory. The article was in Italian so I don’t think anyone read it (I replied to a post by Ignacio with the same link, assuming he’d be able to manage but saw no response) and a few weeks after, the link showed as “page not found.” The doctor was adamant that steroids were a critical part of successful treatment, this at the same time the “authorities” had declared steroids verboten, in equally adamant terms. The authorities were wrong then.

      They’ve been wrong about so much… too much.

      (I found this link but don’t think it’s the one I posted. Note the date, 4/12/20.)

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      a would be Yeoman Farmer, i find that i am totally unrepresented in both this article, and the thing it (rightly) critiques.
      it presents a de facto either-or…either rich farmers(sic) or farm workers.
      i like a both-and approach much better.
      the biggest problem for me, as far as making any money in agriculture, is simple access to a market…due to both government policy that effectively excludes any operation that cn be seen in its entirety from the top of a tree…as well as “industry standards”, cartels and numerous other non-obvious tactics meant to protect the big boys from competition from below.
      i’m by now too old and broken to maintain dreams of being a successful farmer, and have settled on subsistence farming as practically the only option for me, going forward.
      that a handful of “farmers’ made bank on the “get big or get out” system shouldn’t undo efforts to reform that system…if not wholly upend it.
      (a good place to start would be to stop welfare payments to the ag giants for growing even more corn…we don’t need more corn, dammit…we need fruits and vegetables grown by folks down the road.)

      (and…it sure doesn’t feel like the middle of May where i’m at)

      1. Alfred

        I really wonder how “subsistence farming” came to be somewhat dishonorable. Growing up, when we could, my Mother always had a garden to supplement us. People around here have chickens, etc. for their own use and sell extra eggs to finance the feed. If “successful farming” means making people totally helplessly dependent on big ag, I’m not happy. I applaud your operation, ATH.

        1. Mao "No Landlords Now" Zedong

          Subsistence farming became dishonorable when the aristocracy had to justify kicking peasants off the commons.

      2. Mark Gisleson

        A confusing article. Grain farmers employ very few farmworkers. They’re also very susceptible to catastrophe: drought, flooding, high winds, COVID, etc. can all wipe out a year’s crop which isn’t just a loss of income, it’s a massive loss of capital. (I include COVID because modern farming is so skilled only a handful of people know how to plant or harvest crops.)

        “[F]armer returns for corn averaged $8 per acre in 2018, with an average yield of 237 bushels per acre, and an average price of $3.60 per bushel. Total non-land costs of $574 per acre include all financial costs of producing corn.” [some farm publication I grabbed from search results but these are the kinds of numbers involved]

        Corn prices are currently an all but unheard of $7 a bushel. This is the kind of year that makes a farmer “rich.” Which helps average out the disaster years.

        And it’s all different for produce farming. Agriculture is far too complicated for this kind of analysis; like comparing mom’n’pop corner stores to big box retail and then calling it all “business.”

        1. CloverBee

          I found the article somewhat disingenuous, especially when it comes to assets and “additional income”. First, farm land is more valuable as a suburb than as a farm, so the farmer has valuable assets. Then it reads like the fact that most family farms have outside income (one spouse works the farm and one spouse works a job outside the home) as meaning farmers are doing well. If a farmer needs extra income to survive, they aren’t really profitable are they?

          I feel for farm workers, and don’t believe most family farmers want to exploit people. I also have plenty of family who work in the dairy industry, and farmer suicides are not uncommon, due to the economic pressures.

      3. Blake A Kelly

        I’m not saying farming is an easy buck, but there are perhaps a few ways to get some help. My neighbors get very nice helpers from Woof I think, they have to feed and house them and they are generally early 20s so not experienced and such, but I don’t think that they get paid at all.

        1. BlakeFelix

          On an unrelated note, I’m not sure if I hit my head or something but I keep kind of agreeing with Joe Biden… Rahm is a troublemaking family blog, but he is loyal or well liked or clever or something I guess. Blowing him off entirely might offend some Dems, and putting him in the administration would offend me, so sending him on a mission to the other side of the world seems like not a bad call. I don’t know what trouble he can cause over there, and it’s a cool gig that should keep him happy and entertained. As far as I know US ambassadors mostly schmooze and help solve random problems for US citizens, and he might be the guy for schmoozing and bullying to get traffic tickets dismissed or w/e…

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > Blowing him off entirely might offend some Dems

            Like Obama, whose Chief of Staff he was. That Rahm would be able to use his clout to weasel his way into an important ambassadorship, i.e. not the payoff kind, after running a black site for Black people as Mayor of Chicago speaks volumes about the state of the Democrat Party. Biden could have said, “Sorry, Barry. I just can’t do it.” He didn’t. So that’s where we are.

  9. Basil Pesto

    Thanks for the psychedelics article, which I’ll properly read later. It’s something that’s been bubbling away for years, and I do recall mentioning promising psilocybin trials to my neuropsych a few years ago. It sounds like it’s on the cusp of a breakthrough, though I’m sure it will be vulgarised by market forces in the US somehow (like weed stores). I’ve avoided psychedelics recreationally because they don’t really interest me qua psychedelics and I like to be in control of my faculties, but as a treatment for refractory or persistent depression it might reach the point where I can’t ignore them (please nobody suggest walks outdoors and fermented food).

    1. Wukchumni

      (please nobody suggest walks outdoors and fermented food)

      The root word of funghi is fun, and i’d suggest outdoors* in the wild as your best locale to partake, but please not in a city setting-as you’ll only want to be around people you know for a three hour cruise, a three hour cruise.

      Its probably best to have a minder along for your first foray, but don’t worry about your faculties though, you’ll be gently returned to your regularly scheduled life as the ride comes to a conclusion, there’s an exit sign ahead.

      And most important of all, do not eat anything for many hours before-and during your experience, an empty stomach leads to an expanded mind.

      The properties Rx is now seeing in psychedelics were always on the cusp of a breakthrough for those who indulged, and the effect is different for everybody, sometimes I see the hidden world around me in the wilderness that was always there, but I just never noticed.

      * Walking while tripping isn’t probably your best bet, you want to be ideally in a beautiful location, i’m always on the lookout for something that has the feel of a Maxfield Parrish painting such as this dreamy one…

      1. ambrit

        Addendum: Also do not indulge in psychedelics with the television on, especially late night television. An older sitcom or police procedural program can wreak havoc with a psychedelicized Terran human brain. (Bouts of precognition involving plot twists and specific snippets of dialog have been reliably reported.)

    2. Nce

      There’s something to be said of “letting go” or maybe more accurately, loosening one’s perceived “faculties.” No psychedelic has provided the deep sense of peace that my own neurology has kicked into on very rare occasions (in response to extreme stress, like a relief valve) but psychedellics can be great fun… or maybe that was my mispent youth. Mushrooms have made me nauseated, so l second not eating before you dose, doing them outdoors, and to have someone you trust nearby. It’s no crime to have fun. Mmmm, maybe listen to some old Alan Watts talks first, just to be able to make some sense of your experience, if you like.

      1. Jason

        No psychedelic has provided the deep sense of peace that my own neurology has kicked into on very rare occasions


    3. ChiGal in Carolina

      Saw a poster on the local biscuit shop yesterday for a new shroom extravaganza promising a percentage of sales to support psychedelic research. Can’t paste the image here so will send to Lambert should he care to.

    4. Craig H.

      Thou shalt not alter the consciousness of thy fellow man
      Thou shalt not prevent thy fellow man from altering his own consciousness

      Timothy Leary, Politics of Ecstasy

      1. Maritimer

        “Thou shalt not alter the consciousness of thy fellow man….”
        That should have been in the US Constitution. All those Spin Docs, Advertising and Marketing hustlers and Behavioural Scientists are waging war on human consciousness and winning. Astounding that our Civilization allows the constant, unending assault on human consciousness, even lauding it as a virtue and teaching its techniques at undeservedly esteemed Universities.

    5. lordkoos

      Micro-dosing with something like psilocybin is pretty safe and will not threaten your sense of control (although sometimes that can be a good thing). The setting and environment are important.

  10. TomDority

    “Workers are not permitted to refuse suitable work and continue to receive [unemployment] benefits.”

    maybe it should be

    Employers are not permitted to offer unsuitable work and continue to leverage employee wages down to that of indentured servant

    1. Brindle

      As good a moment as any as to when the Dems lost the 2022 mid-terms…

      “Biden explains that workers must sell their labor power to survive”.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        It was when Manchin was boning up on the constitution during Biden’s speech. The “obstacle” to Biden’s brand building thinks so little of Biden he would perform a stunt. The GOP path is fairly open, so there are no potential votes, and Biden is incapable of simply buying a vote. He has to make life miserable for his fellow centrists, and since centrists are nihilists, they aren’t going to help Biden without being forced into it.

        The DCCC is openly advising to members to oppose the President’s agenda. Helping Biden does nothing for them. Every other dumb thing Biden does pales in comparison to the failure to control his allies. Harris is going to run on 2024 on being part of the administration that signed the legislation McConnell kept Trump from signing.

        1. Darthbobber

          Judging by the appointment of Manchin’s wife as federal co-chair to the Appalachian Regional Commission, Biden is perfectly capable of buying a vote if the price can be haggled.

          Link on DCCC guidance would be helpful.

    2. Dr. John Carpenter

      This whole thing of UI and an alleged worker shortage is bringing out the real Joe Biden. It will be interesting to see how so called progressives try to sell “Hey Fat! Get back to work!” They might even have to lower his report card from an A to an A-.

      1. tegnost

        It could be that he’s doing the standard dem thing of giving up negotiating ground in advance, or stragegic retreat to ensure right of center policy. One might tink an infra package might include some sops to labor more enticing than those currently on offer

        1. lyman alpha blob

          I really hate the entire notion of a “worker shortage”. Even if there were one, who says every wannabe entrepreneur has some natural right to as many other people to help them get rich as they desire?

          How about instead of calling it a “worker shortage”, we start calling it an excess of businesses.

          1. Dr. John Carpenter

            Maybe I’m showing my age, but our current “worker shortage” is an example of stuff I learned about in HS economics. Supply, demand, free market and all that. (Of course, I know that’s just not how it actually works.)

    3. Pelham

      One key vulnerability of the new GOP “workers party” is its extremely dark and stinky view of human nature revealed in the currently repeated insistence on unemployment benefits being a deterrent to work. The underlying and unavoidable assumption is that American workers are a bunch of lazy bums.

      If only there were some voice on the other side to defend their honor and seize this political gift. But no. Scranton Joe now implicitly buys into the layabout worker paradigm with his insistence on denying benefits to workers who — in reality — refuse to take any crummy job no matter how undercompensated, degrading and life-threatening.

    4. Geof

      From W. E. B. Du Bois, Black Reconstruction in America, about the Black Codes enacted after the Civil War in an attempt to recreate slavery in all but name. This example is from the Virginia Vagrant Act:

      any justice of the peace, upon the complaint of any one of certain officers therein named, may issue his warrant for the apprehension of any person alleged to be a vagrant and cause such person to be apprehended and brought before him; and that if upon due examination said justice of the peace shall find that such person is a vagrant within the definition of vagrancy contained in said statute, he shall issue his warrant, directing such person to be employed for a term not exceeding three months, and by any constable of the county wherein the proceedings are had, be hired out for the best wages which can be procured, his wages to be applied to the support of himself and his family.

  11. The Rev Kev

    Re today’s Antidote du jour – would an appropriate saying be –

    “The oxen are slow, but the earth is patient.”

      1. ambrit

        That’s not a red heifer, is it?
        “Eyeless, in Gaza, at the mill, with slaves.” Pair that with;
        “There is a burning bush up on the Temple Mount.” and we end up with;
        Apocalypse 14:8. “And another angel followed, saying; That great Babylon is fallen, is fallen;”

  12. cocomaan

    Between the chaos of the ransomware attack on the pipeline and the worldwide chip shortage, I wonder when people will start to demand less, rather than more, internet.

    1. Maritimer

      And our Leading Lights: Bring on Digital Currency! Great idea there.

      Lately at a big chain coffee shop on different days: OUR ELECTRONIC PAYMENT SYSTEM IS DOWN, CASH ONLY. This from a chain that discouraged cash a while back as disease ridden and a risk to Humanity. Saw another electronic payments system down also a a FF place today.

  13. farmboy

    Ag today is capital intensive, big or small. If you don’t have at least a 2-1 assets to liabilities financial statement and enough working capital to make 70% of a years expenses, you not only can’t get financing, you will get liquidated by forcing your creditors to self-finance you. Mechanic liens and collection efforts will halt any operation and force bankruptcy. Ag as a business is tough, stressful, and precarious. Get bigger to spread out the fixed costs is the tried and true path to staying in business.
    The LPE project article really is irrelevant, antitrust, antimonopoly needs to happen to get any semblance of a legit future for ag. It could go a long way to upending the dealer, supplier financed supply chain which is the end of the end. Packer concentration in the livestock industry is bad for labor and producer. See Matt Stoler’s interview of Bill Nelson, head of R-Calf, cattle producers only org. Antitrust action may be the only path acceptable to ag to reduce AFO/CAFO operations, reduce time on feed to 30days, and get some action on reducing GHG in ag. Biden admin needs to jump on this now.

  14. The Rev Kev

    “Iraqi Kurdistan’s authoritarian turn: western ally ‘discards idea of democracy’”

    Not surprising this development as this has been going on for years. During the chaos of ISIS’s expansion, Iraqi Kurdistan seized parts of Iraq for itself in a fit of territorial expansion. Of course once ISIS had been put down, the Iraqis put Iraqi Kurdistan back in its box but that initial idea of expansion was a terrible idea for them. Until Iraqi Kurdistan gets rid of those two mafia families, they will never be able to make the best of their place in the world but you wonder if there are other mafia families in the background waiting for their chance to seize power if this happened.

  15. KLG

    “He effectively said he didn’t regard the press (even a three month investigation by the New York Times back in the day when it could afford to have actual reporters) as a valid source of information…”

    Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind. What is Bill Keller up to these days?

  16. Robert Hahl

    From the review of at home covid-19 tests:

    Lucira Check-It

    Time required: about 40 minutes
    Price: $55
    Availability: Can be purchased online at
    Accuracy: 94% for positives, 98% for negatives

    “Of all the kits I used, Lucira was far and away my favorite.”

  17. John Beech

    I’ve always been uncommonly attracted to redheads and blonds so that cow (or bull) is a nice change of pace, Lambert.

  18. Mikerw0

    The Colonial ransomeware attack again illustrates the fragility in our systems (broad sense of the word) as managements do everything on the cheap knowing they will not be held accountable if things go wrong.

    I was discussing this with a friend who sits on the Board of a medium sized airline. They brought in outside technology consultants to assess their cybersecurity risk. On a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is best, they were just above a 2. The cost for the first series of improvements is $1million. They don’t want to spend the money as “it is expensive.”

    Meanwhile, a la what United is doing they are looking to form an internal VC fund for aviation technology investments. So glad the Feds gave them a small boatload of money.

    Need we say more.

    1. cocomaan

      I was talking with a small business owner who was the victim of a ransomware attack. While insurance coverage paid for some file recovery, it did not pay for investigation, and tracking down perpetrators would apparently cost the business several tens of thousands of dollars they just didn’t have. The cops were not going to do it.

      Was the oil pipeline the first time a cyber attack has been a real national emergency? I expect to see much more of this.

    2. John

      You can make so much more money with a VC fund in the casino rather than grinding away at an actual business that does or makes something.

    3. Glen

      That is the root of the problem right there. It costs money and cuts into CEO compensation:

      PG&E quit maintaining their electrical lines, and pipelines and now we have whole towns wiped out of existence by fires caused by down power lines.
      Texas power companies never wanted to spend the money to allow for freezing weather, and the power grid fails.
      Companies are routinely hacked and millions of peoples information is stolen.

      I cannot speak directly to the Colonial ransomware attack, but I would be shocked if there had not been engineers and IT people trying to get the necessary work done to better secure their systems but it costs money and the company will not spend the money or more likely, those people were let go or out sourced.

      This trend will continue until CEOs are held personally liable and a couple of them get sent to jail. Right now, these disasters may result in fines which are just “the cost of doing business”.

  19. Darthbobber

    On not refusing “suitable” work, Biden is following the time-honored path of seeming to say something while saying considerably less, and conveying the impression of doing something while doing nothing.

    In this case, “suitable” is doing a lot of work. It has always been the case in most states that if you receive a firm offer of a “suitable” job, you need to accept it, but:
    Most states have criteria on what counts as suitable, and it doesn’t mean any job at all. Jersey or Pennsylvanians, for example, if you were a daysider you don’t have to take backshift work. You don’t need to take jobs with long commutes. You don’t need to seek jobs utterly unrelated to your experience or skills. And many other things.

    The criteria are a state matter, not a federal one.

    Documenting job searches (or requiring them at all) is also a state matter. And even in the rare state which has its ui depts up and running to the extent it can monitor work searches at all, one only needs to show x (usually 3 to 5) contacts per week. And the selection of what to apply for is up to the claimant. (who knows that the best way to avoid an unsuitable offer is to be careful about what to apply for.)

    Murphy in NJ has already mentioned that an insufficient level of pay can make a job unsuitable. Also that the state has no plans as of now to reinstate it’s prepandemic work search requirements.

    In many states, the various programs to help the unemployed find jobs are also in abeyance.

    Was out in Shippensburg, PA this past weekend. The McDonald’s had signage offering 16.25 per hour. Sister in law says there or thereabouts is now the going rate for fast food waitstaff in the area.

    1. Mme Generalist

      Exactly what I thought when I read that post. It’s just head-fake after head-fake. But also the nasty language really put my hackles up: “game the system”. Ugh.

      Interestingly, here in Texas you can refuse work and maintain benefits if that work “is vacant directly because of a strike, lockout, or other labor dispute” despite the state’s rabid “right-to-work” ethos.

  20. Lee

    “SARS-CoV-2 B.1.617 emergence and sensitivity to vaccine-elicited antibodies (preprint) medRviv.”

    This article contains terms such as “syncytium formation”, which I cannot even pronounce let alone understand. And then when I search for said term I find that it means this:

    Syncytia is formed by fusion of an infected cells with neighboring cells leading to the formation of multi-nucleate enlarged cells. This event is induced by surface expression of viral fusion protein that are fusogenic directly at the host cell membrane.
    Syncytia can only happen with viruses able to directly fuse at the cellular surface without the need of endocytosis.

    Whatever that means.

    Here’s hoping a member of the NC commentariat will kindly provide a translation of the linked article.

    1. Alfred

      In endocytosis, there is a vesicle surrounding what is entering the cell, keeping it discreet from the rest of the cell’s contents. In fusion, the infected cells fuse with and burst through neighboring cell membranes into the cytoplasm and become part of that cell. The study says it links this to increased infection growth rates in humans. That’s what I get.

  21. Ghost in the Machine

    Regarding the pipeline hacker statement, I am imagining an ‘office space’ type environment with hackers sighing as they trod to their new mandatory training video on the proper selection of hacking targets.
    Does this type of statement from a ransomware group seem farcical to anyone else? Are they going to reassure us that they have the fiduciary duty to their backers foremost in their minds? The stereotype in my mind of a group called ‘dark side’ is one of pretty hardened and worldly experience. Did they really thing shutting down a major fuel pipeline wouldn’t be political?

    1. Darthbobber

      It seems no more farcical than endless such reassurances from ostensibly legitimate firms. Indeed, these guys seem like an overtly criminal version of Google or Amazon. The difference is increasingly one of degree.

      They also seem to be running a franchise operation of sorts, and were unpleasantly surprised when this franchisee’s choice of target landed them the level of attention it did. I suspect the people doing the actual attack expected Colonial to just pay, with no publicity, since that’s what usually happens.

    2. Procopius

      I think they may have gotten unintended consequences. They didn’t encrypt (“shut down”) the pipeline software. They encrypted the accounting software. Colonial Pipeline then shut down the pipeline. They said it was for “safety” reasons, but it seems more likely it was because they couldn’t bill their customers. Presumably Dark Side hadn’t anticipated that, which brought a lot more unwanted attention to their operation.

  22. kramshaw

    From the Vice article about the colonial pipeline, I had to laugh at this quote from the (likely/alleged) hackers:

    “Our goal is to make money, and not creating problems for society,” the [Darkside] statement continues.

    My first thought was, I wonder if that is how all the health insurance execs feel about themselves, too!

  23. tegnost

    Biden vows to enforce the UI law so no one can “game the system” to get paid not to work.
    I think we’ve seen the dogs not eat the dog food before…
    there is zero chance of further economic support, it’s just “get back to work you f^@&er$”
    What about the eviction moratorium?
    We’re approaching the summer of our discontent
    The republican joe biden now has to push whatever well orchestrated circus act the scoundrels have been crafting for the last 100 days.

    1. Geo

      It’s been fun to watch Biden be celebrated for all his “accomplishments” so far. When the moratorium is lifted and no further support is offered to those struggling I wonder how long this charade will last? I mean, he passed the stimulus bill – something Trump had even supported. Other than that, what has his administration and Dem legislative majority actually accomplished beyond pronouncements of supposed intent?

      As always, Dem timing is near perfect. The stimulus has already run out for those that needed it. The other perks are set to expire next year. I’m predicting a slow but and total meltdown (for the poor and lower-middle classes, the others will be fine of course) culminating just in time for the 2022 elections. It will be at least as brutal as 2010 was for Dems electorally. Too bad their only punishment will be having to go cash out in the private sector and pocket some of the trillions they’ve helped prop up the markets with.

    2. km

      Hey, but the stock market has been doing well, so you proles can go eat some cake and shut up!“- J. Biden, president

      1. Geo

        Yeah, plugging $12.3T into the markets seems to have helped keep them afloat. Cute that they pretend it has anything to do with the brilliance of American businesses that the workers just don’t appreciate.

        Also, did a rough calculation. $12.3T divided as direct payments to every person in America is $37,109. Between Trump and Biden we got $3,200. Sure, another chunk went to help with child care, UI, safety measures, etc. But, from what I’ve been able to find on it it seems the majority went to propping up the markets from the top because apparently “Trickle Down” is a myth, crazier than belief in Santa and the Tooth Fairy, that just won’t die.

        The poor need to be made sacrificial offerings upon the alter of the free market so the job creators don’t become angered and withhold their bountiful political donations.

        1. km

          Pretty much this. This is also the genesis of the Supa Awsum Obama/Trump Economy(tm).

          ZIRP and lots of free money for cronies to goose risk assets, along with a few crumbs tossed to the Little People.

      2. JBird4049

        Actually, it might be “the beatings will continue until morale improves.”

        Truly, after just paying for transportation, a phone, work clothing, grooming, there might not be enough for shelter or food at today’s wages, and if the upper classes really think that merely being “lazy,” “moochers,” or “grifters” they are ***** in the head.

        It is just simple mathematics. Employers are trying to pay so little that it costs more to go to work, never mind paying for what’s needed for living, than it pays for working.

    3. Phil in KC

      Wasn’t it about this time last year that we were celebrating the low-income workers who fry the burgers and stock the shelves as “heroes,” and giving them bonus pay?

      So I guess the deal is “Thanks, but what have you done for me today?”

      For some reason I’m reminded of McArthur clearing out the Bonus Army camps in 1932, but this is much cleaner. Being a hero in America sometimes means having a target painted on your back.

  24. Geo

    “This “normalcy” frame is making my back teeth itch, starting with the fact that our past normal wasn’t all that great.”

    Was just having a discussion about this recently and included it in a new story I’ve written. The way we use “return to normal” as an excuse to not face our past. From idealist notions of past eras seen through rose tinted lenses that ignore systemic oppression and brutal acts of violence, to generational cycles of abuse in our communities and families. “Return to normal” really means not learning from the past (or even the “now”).

    Reminds me of a great quote I’m going to butcher here that went like, “We build walls thinking they will protect us from being hurt, keep out troubles. But they don’t protect us from the outside, they keep us from looking within and addressing the reasons why we keep getting hurt. They protect us from having to change.” -thelastpsychiatrist

    1. Jason

      A good example of psychology and psychiatry being used in the interest of power. Remove individuals and families from the larger environmental/societal context entirely, or give credence to the insanity of the larger frameworks but then shame people for not being able to rise above.

    2. Mikel

      Can only imagine what the history books will say about this pandemic…considering the 1918 pandemic was whitewashed to hell. Like if nobody talked much about it, then it didn’t happen.
      I remember back in March 2020 telling a 30 year-old co-worker about it. Not too shocked since I didn’t hear about it much from school history books.

  25. Kris

    “We reviewed three at-home covid tests. The results were mixed”

    Another example of playing loose with Bayes theorem. The author states: “What I didn’t realize—and what your everyday CVS shopper won’t either—is that there are two ways that less-than-perfect specificity can get amplified into a bigger problem. The first way is through repeat testing, the kind I did. By the time my review of the home tests was complete, I’d tested five times in two days, accumulating 1 in 10 odds of being told I had covid when I didn’t (a 2% chance of a false positive each time, multiplied by five tests). The second source of trouble I didn’t anticipate is what is known as “pretest probability.” As I said, I don’t socialize, so my probability of actually having covid in first place was very low, maybe even zero. What this meant is that my chance of a correct positive when I took the test was also essentially zero, while my false positive chance remained 2% like everyone else’s. The way I was using the test, any positive result was nearly certain to be wrong.”

    On the first way: No – the tests are independent, so you wouldn’t simply sum the probabilities, any more than you would with coin tosses. Furthermore, his actual chance of not having covid given a positive test result is not equal to the test’s specifity in the first place.

    On the second way: Here again he is confounding the specificity and sensitivity of the test with the actual chance of having/not having covid given a + or – test result.

    The actual chance of having covid given a positive test result (a correct positive) is the proportion of subjects testing positive who have covid out of all the subjects testing positive (i.e., including the subjects who received a positive result but do not have covid). If we take the background population level of infection among people who do not socialize (his “population”) as low, say, 1%, and use the Abbott test parameters (84.6% sensitivity, 98.4% specificity), his chance of not having covid given a positive test result (a false positive) is 64% – meaning there’s still a 36% chance he actually is positive. Reducing “his” population infection level to 1 in 1,000 reduces this chance to 5%, but it is still not zero.

    On the other hand, if he receives a negative test result, there’s a 99.8% chance he does not, in fact, have covid (using these numbers).

    Note that even with this poor sensitivity figure relative to the other tests, at the height of the surge (when population infection levels were presumaly somewhat represented by the 30% positive PCR tests), the Abbott at-home test would provide test-takers with good information, with a positive test meaning you had a 96% chance of having the virus.

    Since covid is spread through aerosols and superspreaders/events, it is hard to predict what one’s actual “population” infection level is (i.e., how it might differ from the general population) if one has any level of contact with social spaces (grocery stores, for example) even if one does not “socialize”. Thus these tests may have a legitimate role to play in monitoring for outbreaks in assumed low-infection populations.

  26. Mme Generalist

    Looking through today’s links and other news (such as The Guardian’s repoting of “Tens of thousands of migrant children held in opaque network of US facilities”) and thinking it may be time for the “Biden Administration” section to be be re-titled, “Plus ça change…”

  27. rowlf

    While listening to the NPR radio program On Point today, which was discussing whether kids should be vaccinated for Covid-19, I nearly put my car in a ditch when the host called out the New York Times for making stuff up about Covid-19. Wow. Just wow.

    It seemed like a fair program and the doctors being interviewed were skeptical that vaccinating children for Covid-19 was of any benefit.

    Report back to me when…I don’t know, when it makes sense.

      1. rowlf

        Thanks for your comment. Before I had to run my errand I was trying to puzzle out the friction between Believers and Skeptics, and how recent social, political and medical issues brought the distinction between the two groups into high contrast. One group would shout and the other group would say “wait a minute, let’s look into this”. After listening to the program I felt a lot better that there was a lot of nuance being considered by some people.

  28. Geo

    “The US has got first-world Covid problems CNN. For the parts of the US that are First World, yes.”

    CNN isn’t aware of an America that extends beyond a five mile radius of a Whole Foods. The only journalists they have willing to venture beyond those green zones refuse to engage with any citizens not safely inside a diner.

    Seriously though, This type of story is where the death of local news media is so tragic. They really don’t seem to know anything about this country beyond the perspectives of their bubbles. It’s like they consider chatting with their front desk staff an investigatory analysis of the working class in America.

    1. Darthbobber

      And they bill the piece as Analysis. It’s the kind of article that probably makes sense to those occupying relatively favored positions in our grand casino of an economy. Which are the only people that anybody at CNN knows. Also the bulk of their viewership I imagine.

      This fits an ancient, tried-and-true template for articles which demonstrate that, whatever the issue, somebody somewhere has it worse. (though why they seem to think one needs to go to-say-India to find such people is not intuitively obvious.) So one should only be upset if one is literally the last dog kicked. The back to brunch crowd at its finest.

      1. Pelham

        Give me the resources of the NY Times or WaPo and I will put together a newspaper staff made up largely of flyover high-school grads and non-Ivy League college grads who will rise to the very highest pinnacle of journalistic integrity and present a daily regional, national and global report that is supremely more enlightening than anything those East Coast institutions spool out.

        And it won’t be difficult.

  29. Carolinian

    Re Bezos and his yacht(s)–so will he take up smoking cigars in order to light them with hundred dollar bills? If first as tragedy, next as farce goes for Gilded Ages then Jeff seems to fit the bill. Morgan and the Vanderbilts aspired to be English aristocrats while Bezos is a Trekkie who wants to live in space and woos with dick pics. However for those toiling in his mines, er warehouses, much is the same.

  30. allan

    Halt to 737 MAX deliveries stymies Boeing’s recovery effort [Seattle Times]

    Boeing delivered just four 737 MAXs in April before an electrical problem grounded the jet again, halting further deliveries until a fix is approved. The setback frustrated Boeing’s effort to begin to climb out of the pandemic downturn as air travel slowly recovers.

    The company’s monthly update to its jet orders and deliveries figures, posted online Tuesday, otherwise showed marginal progress.

    Deliveries of the 787 Dreamliner, which resumed in March after a more than four-month halt due to a separate production quality issue, picked up in April. And while last year was dominated by order cancellations, Boeing for the third straight month showed a small positive net order total.

    However, as U.S. airlines look to a recovery in domestic travel, the 737 MAX is the Boeing jet in most demand, so the stoppage in deliveries is a major blow that drastically cuts much-needed cash flow. …

    Time to reset the thresholds for those incentive packages.

    The C-suite can not fail, it can only be failed.

  31. lordkoos

    China’s “demographic crisis” — really?

    Don’t they still encourage people to have fewer children? If there’s one thing that China has plenty of, it’s people.

    1. Massinissa

      THe problem is insufficient young people for reproduction and, more importantly, work. If they have too many over 60 and insufficient 18-60 things are going to look a little weird there.

      IMO, easy fix: Teach third world workers Mandarin and have them immigrate. They’ve got enough unused housing units to rent out for cheap. I too think their somewhat strange population problem is more manageable than India’s rapidly growing population. China can barely feed itself sufficiently as it is, they don’t need a baby boom. China’s farmland is in bad shape and looks to get worse as their water supply dries up due to AGW

      1. lordkoos

        Even with a demographic imbalance it seems to me there sould still be plenty of younger workers in China..?

  32. Arizona Slim

    Has anyone else gotten this message from YouTube?

    Hi [my real name here],

    The YouTube Community Outreach Team regularly reaches out to users who may not otherwise get an opportunity to share their thoughts with us.

    We’re reaching out to you because members of the community were concerned about some of the comments you’ve posted on YouTube. We’d like to hear about your experience – please take a moment to complete our survey and share your thoughts. We’re here to listen.

    After you take the survey, someone from our team may follow up to better understand your feedback.

    My comments:

    I have no idea which comments they’re referring to, so I’m not about to take their survey. However, I am concerned about their verbiage. What are these concerning comments? When were they made? Why am I getting this cryptic request for feedback via a survey?

    1. ambrit

      Whenever a bureaucracy mentions a “team,” we can be certain that a pre-chosen outcome to the process has been determined from on high.
      Secondly, where does all this ‘information’ you supply, should you actually do the “survey,” end up? YouTube is a subsidiary of Google. Google has been ‘connected’ to the Security State from the beginning. Follow the money that initially funded the development of Google. We can assume that YouTube’s “information trove’ goes directly to the Security State.

      1. Arizona Slim


        And, speaking of Google, a couple of people who I’ve never heard of or have ever done business with left one-star ratings on my Google business listing. I tried to get Google to remove those one-stars, but do you think they did?


        So, Google, you owe me a big, solid favor. And your current request for a survey response isn’t what I’m looking for.

        1. fresno dan

          Arizona Slim
          May 11, 2021 at 2:14 pm
          a couple of people who I’ve never heard of or have ever done business with
          Undoubtedly, the “couple of people” are:
          A. A fat 36 year old guy in his mother’s basement whose alter identity is hot 16 year old cheerleader
          B. A dog

        2. hunkerdown

          The verbage of the message strikes me as a very soft-touch play at an intervention. reddit has a “Get this user help and support” button, intended for reporting emergent mental health issues. I don’t see the same sort of thing on YouTube but it could exist. I don’t suppose the #KHive or sympathizer got the scent of you?

  33. tegnost

    Montana claims to have a dire need for workers
    “The bake shop is offering $10.50 an hour to start for some of the positions, with an extra dollar for overnight shifts, but employees also all share tips from the front of the house so the pay is quite a bit more than that.”
    “To offer higher pay, the couple would have to raise the prices on their products, but customers aren’t willing to pay an extra $1 for a pastry that they’ve always had for $3.75. The profit margins in their business are razor-thin.

    “We can’t pay what contractors pay, like $30 an hour,” Jack said. “We’re never gonna be able to pay that. We make cookies and muffins. So it takes a lot of $1.50 cookies to make up the wages. So we kinda have that ceiling where people don’t wanna pay, you know, $5 for a cinnamon roll. They’ll pay $2.50, but not $5. So we have that downward pressure all the time.””

    Hmmm. So I guess there’s a problem with letting the top of the income scale blow up. At some point it’s a castle in the sky
    wow, 10.50/hr…11.50 if you work all night
    Montana labor shortage….
    average rent up across the board…

    10.50/hr is $1,348 take home in montana.
    it doesn’t add up.
    Apparently maff is hard…

    1. Mme Generalist

      That sort of argument about wages drives me crazy. Making cookies and muffins is not an appropriate profit-making enterprise unless it’s fully mechanized and at a huge scale. Otherwise it could only ever be a subsistence-level enterprise for a family to engage in, say. Why do people think they have a “right” to open whatever kind of business they like, whether or not there is any probability of paying all involved a living wage and then whine about it?

      Not my favorite pundit, but when Robert Reich is right, he’s right. If you can’t afford to pay your employees a living wage, you don’t have a viable business.

      1. Phil in KC

        Very much agree with your reference to Reich, he usually has the right instincts when it comes to these kind of things, which makes him quite the anomaly among Clinton alumni.

      2. FluffytheObeseCat

        What’s worse is evident in the details of the article. This bakery had 3-4 people apply for this barista position, but no applicants for the kitchen jobs. That’s why they are whining about extra UI, because “only” 4 people express interest in one of 3 jobs. They noted that in the past they would see ~20 applications when they had a barista job opening. Which is impressive, but…… Missoula is a college town.

        The key reason why they could operate an independent, ‘artisanal’ bakery in Missoula is because they’ve been relying on subsidized labor for years. Their employees likely were able to manage on barista work because they could combine it with loans, university work-study, or TA jobs in order to “live like grad students”. Simply put, their business has been on the federal dole since its inception. They didn’t need to pay living wages because they benefitted from a high quality, youthful work force that was naive about money, eager to be adulting, and partially supported by federal loans, grants, and student health coverage (which is often included in grad student stipends).

        1. Darthbobber

          Bingo. No way you can get even a flophouse room with a Murphy bed, eat 3 meals and get yourself to and from work on what you clear net of tax from that princely 10.50/11.50 per hour without government subsidies. But it’s the bosses we should feel sorry for.

          And for what it’s worth, there aren’t so many on unemployment in Montana that that could account for the whole problem.

          And what of the two years worth of new kids, with no prior work record and hence no unemployment benefits, who might in the past have been expected to apply for such jobs? Are the bottom-feeding food businesses facing being outbid for labor by other industries?

  34. Temporarily Sane

    While I absolutely agree that social media use can be detrimental to the health of children (and even adults) trying to get Facebook to nix its Instagram for kids project is a closing the barn door after the horse has escaped scenario. Do these “regulators” know how many kids are already on Instagram, YouTube, TikTok etc.?

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for thwarting Faceborg’s nefarious activities but the “save the children” angle on this tells me that these state attorneys are hopelessly out of touch with the reality of actually existing social media.

    If they are serious about reducing social media’s negative impact on society they would look into breaking up the SV behemoths and limiting their ability to data mine, censor and psychologically manipulate their users.

  35. lobelia

    Re: Survivors Stuck in Limbo as PG&E Fire Victim Trust Pays Out $50 Million in Fees KQED

    Retired U.S. Foreign Service Officer Bill Cook lost his home in Paradise during the Camp Fire, the 2018 blaze sparked by Pacific Gas & Electric Co. equipment that ranks as the deadliest and most destructive fire in California history.

    More than two years later, Cook, 70, and his family are barely scraping by. Like Cook, the vast majority of the 67,000 PG&E fire victims included in a December 2019 settlement with the company have yet to see a dime. That’s as lawyers and administrators have been paid millions, with the money coming directly from funds set aside to help survivors like Cook.


    Today, Cook lives 100 miles away from Paradise in Davis, where he shares a three-bedroom rental with his 68-year-old wife, Leslie, their four adult children and three grandchildren. He’s eaten into his savings to pay rent, which costs triple what he paid for his mortgage in Paradise.

    “You’re stuck,” Cook said. “You can’t go anywhere. You can’t get anything. You can’t move forward.”

    “They’re paying themselves very well. They have these enormous legal costs and there’s not much to show for it,” Cook said. “It’s like everything is a black hole and nothing moves, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

    The piece starts off promising, but I can’t help but ‘wonder’ why California Governor Gavin Newsom, nor then Attorney General, Xavier Becerra (two of PG&E’s favorite donees), were not mentioned – not even once – in that piece. Wouldn’t, not only KQED, but many of the surviving victims waiting for relief, have contacted the Governor and/or Attorney General’s office – for both comment; and complaints – as to why Paradise Fire victims, those who managed to survive, were outrageously further brutalized, now made penniless (and how many have been left roofless, many were disabled and therefore near poor to begin with), well after this fund was set up?

    07/11/19 Judge orders PG&E to explain political spending following ABC10 documentary series – A federal judge is demanding answers as to why PG&E decided to give millions to help influence politics instead of fix faulty equipment.

    Excerpt emphasis, mine:

    In the POWER episode of the ABC10 series, Gov. Newsom refused to answer whether it was right to take the money from a federal offender on probation. State records show that Newsom’s campaign and his PAC accepted $208,400 in donations from PG&E while the company was a convicted felon on probation.

    As governor, Newsom appoints PG&E’s state regulators and will sign any new laws to address the financial crisis facing utility companies like PG&E.

    “I wish you luck with whatever you’re working on, but that’s a strange question,” the governor replied when confronted by ABC10 at a press conference. “I don’t know what more I can say.”

    The company also gave money indirectly to state Attorney General Xavier Becerra, through a political spending group called “Building and Protecting a Strong California,” which paid $197,264 of television ads for Becerra’s re-election campaign. Becerra’s office did not respond to our questions about how he intends to remain impartial while assisting Ramsey’s office in pursuing possible criminal charges against PG&E after taking that donation.

    And, speaking of Xavier Becerra, it should horrify everyone that the huge PG&E donee, and corrupt cop protector, was appointed head of US Health and Human Services by Biden; made even worse by the fact that Becerra has no Health or Social Services associated background whatsoever. He certainly didn’t do a damn thing about California’s historic and notorious, for profit nursing facilities; ditto: DC striver, Kamala Harris before him; and sleazebag Newsom.

    gotta run

  36. Mikel

    Re: “Pentagon considers ending massive computing contract: report” The Hill. Cloud computing. If the Pentagon (!) doesn’t want to go ahead with it, it must be a boondoggle of ginormous scale.

    “But some critics argue the Defense Department should instead switch to an approach that uses multiple companies….”
    So there is some consideration about how much power and control to give to one corporation. I guess it’s a step that it’s crossing people’s minds…finally…

    But then there could be some development or situation developing we don’t know about that has nothing to do with the lawsuit..

  37. ambrit

    More importantly, is that dog, “B”, pretending to be a cat? (Hah! B-ing Cat!)
    That would be fiendish in the extreme.
    [This in re-response to a comment by Fresno Dan 3:25 above. A self generated comment in between is in moderation. So, I tried to append this to the moderated comment. I should be so lucky. The re-comment gets booted to the end of the comment main thread.
    The Ways of Skynet are mysterious.]

    1. fresno dan

      May 11, 2021 at 3:54 pm
      The ways of skynet are mysterious indeed. I remember all the double and triple entendres about a certain CNN commentator and a certain exposure of a certain appendage at a certain zoom meeting I made. Sailed right through. While a comment about a particular real estate developer was forever banished to the ether ….

        1. ambrit

          Alas for the reputation of prurient PMCs everywhere, I am reliably informed that the vast (right wing) [left wing] majority of dik pixers are not in anywise ‘hung’ at all.
          It gives new meaning to the apocryphal maxim “…we shall all hang together or we shall all be hung individually.”
          Thank Saint Lenin that our Pink Bunny Slippers are child friendly and porn proof!
          (Also thank the Com Saints, one and all, that the Orthodox Unorthodox Church defeated the Aryan heresy!)

  38. lordkoos

    I love to see these workers deciding not to return to horrible/poorly paid jobs. It’s almost like a general strike…

  39. Olivier

    That eagle in the background of the Arakan video looks awfully familiar. Does anyone know how it became part of the imagery of a burmese ethnic group?

      1. Olivier

        Of course it is the nazi eagle; I was being sarcastic when calling it “awfully familiar”..

        There must be quite a story behind this.

        1. ambrit

          That’s all right. Even the USPS got into the act when they “developed” the “sonic” eagle symbol, deployed in 1993. It looks suspiciously like a unit insignia for a Luftwaffe West Front unit. I have seen an article on this many years ago, when America could still laugh at itself. The article looks to have been consigned to the “Memory Hole” (TM).
          There were three “NAZI” expeditions to the far east in the 1930s that I have heard of. One was to Xinjiang, one to China, and one to Tibet. Our history is far more “complicated” than we suspect.

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