2:00PM Water Cooler 6/4/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Our final honey-eater. Robert J. Lurtsema would have liked this one.

(In case readers don’t know, if you click on the link that’s the name of the bird, in this case “Yellow Wattlebird,” you get a lot of additional information, including photos and a range map from eBird. The Macauley Library really is a treasure trove.)

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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:

Well, scraping the bottom of those diminishing returns. Nevertheless…

Case count by United States regions:

Continued good news. As the black line shows, we are now well below the first peak.

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

Continued good news.

Test positivity:

Continued good news.

Hospitalization (CDC):

Continued good news.

Deaths (Our World in Data):

Continued good news.

Covid cases worldwide:

India, assuming one trusts the numbers, falls well below Latin America. Given that Miami is the capital of Latin America, that’s a region worth watching.

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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

“Parliamentarian changes Senate calculus for Biden agenda” [The Hill]. “The Senate parliamentarian’s ruling allowing Democrats to sidestep a GOP filibuster only one more time in 2021 is forcing Democratic lawmakers to rethink how they can advance President Biden’s agenda. Democratic aides now say the $2.3 trillion infrastructure package will have to be even bigger since they have just one more opportunity before the 2022 election year to go it alone on major legislation. ‘The bottom line is the next one is going to be bigger because you can’t divide it up,’ said a Senate Democratic aide, referring to the remaining reconciliation package. Democrats aren’t counting on passing another reconciliation package after April 1, 2022 — which they are entitled to do under the Senate rules — because it will be just months away from the crucial midterm elections and the political dynamic could be much different by then. ‘Everybody’s a different person in an election year,’ the aide said. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) thought as recently as April that he might be able to pass two more reconciliation bills this year — after the Senate used its first reconciliation vehicle to pass the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan in March. Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough indicated to Schumer’s staff in April that they would be able to create multiple reconciliation vehicles this year. But in a more extensive ruling circulated in recent days, MacDonough clarified [lol] that reconciliation vehicles beyond the remaining one for 2021 would first require majority approval on the Senate Budget Committee, which is evenly split at 11 votes a piece for Democrats and Republicans.” • More auto-kinbaku-bi. Who would have known that the deepest desire of liberal Democrats would be to tie themselves up and render themselves helpless? Come on. You know you want to…..

“Pay-fors” another example of auto-kinbaku-bi:

We can’t! We’re helpless!

“Biden Narrows Infrastructure Request, but Hurdles Remain for Bipartisan Deal” [New York Times]. “The president has now cut more than $1 trillion from his initial $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal, while Republicans have added less than $100 billion in new spending to their first offer, which contained about $200 billion in new spending by many estimates. Mr. Biden said this week that for now he would exclude several of his proposed tax increases, including raising the corporate income tax rate to 28 percent.” • Winning strategy for the mid-terms, totally.

UPDATE “Climate progressives launch first action against Biden amid growing frustration” [The Hill]. “The Sunrise Movement’s relationship with the Biden administration may soon be on ice. The progressive climate coalition is gearing up to stage a protest outside the White House on Friday in an attempt to persuade President Biden to rethink his bipartisan negotiation strategy with Republicans over their infrastructure plans…. ‘I was invited to the Biden-Sanders Unity Taskforce to help Biden craft policy that was in line with what is necessary to meet the crises facing our nation,’ [Varshini Prakash, the Sunrise Movement’s executive director] said in a statement. ‘Biden moved towards us, promising us a future, and in exchange, we worked tirelessly to get him elected. We held up our side of the deal, but now that Biden is in power, that promise of co-governance with progressives and young people has disappeared.’ ‘He’s spent more of his time meeting with a Republican Party who to this day contests he is the democratically elected president,’ Prakash added.” • I don’t think “co-governance with progressives and young people” — a pretty incoherent formulation, if you think about it — was ever going to happen. Surely Prakash didn’t believe this?

Republican Funhouse

“What Rebekah Jones saw behind the scenes at the Florida Department of Health” [Miami Herald]. “While maintaining that Jones was fired for ‘insubordination’ and not out of retaliation for what the complaint describes as Jones’ refusal to be part of a ‘misleading and politically driven narrative that ignored the data and science,’ documents filed by the health department confirm two of the core aspects laid out in Jones’ complaint. Sworn affidavits from DOH leaders acknowledge Jones’ often-denied claim that she was told to remove data from public access after questions from the Miami Herald. And a position statement filed by DOH challenges the centerpiece of DeSantis’ pandemic victory narrative: that his strategy to reopen the state was created in a ‘very measured, thoughtful and data-driven way.’ In other words, it would be safe. The governor’s step-by-step reopening plan was published with a cover letter claiming the plan put ‘public health-driven data at the forefront’ and boasting ‘benchmarks’ the document claimed were identified by the Florida Department of Health based on criteria from the White House. But those claims were contradicted in a DOH position statement filed Aug. 17, stating that while Jones and a team of DOH epidemiologists had been tapped ‘to develop new data for a reopening plan’ employing key metrics from the White House, their findings were never incorporated into the recommendations to DeSantis. Deputy Secretary of Health Shamarial Roberson denied the department made any recommendations on the reopening plan at all. ‘An external task force was created by the Executive Office of the Governor to make recommendations to the Governor on reopening, as that was not a function of FDOH,’ wrote Roberson. The subsequent reopening was followed by a five-fold surge in COVID-19 cases in Florida last July and some of the single-highest daily case totals across the nation.”

Trump Legacy

“Facebook says Donald Trump to remain banned for two years, effective from Jan. 7” [CNBC]. “Facebook on Friday announced that it may allow former President Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts to be reinstated in January 2023. At that time, the social media company will reevaluate whether the risk to public safety of allowing Trump back onto its services has receded. This two-year suspension will prevent Trump from using Facebook or Instagram to broadcast to his followers until after the 2022 U.S. mid-term elections.” • Hmm. I wonder how much we’ll hear about breaking up Facebook from here on in.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“COVID-19 Has Forever Destroyed Americans’ Trust in Ruling Class ‘Experts'” [Newsweek]. “The trials and tribulations of COVID-19 in America have dealt an irreparable blow to the credibility of America’s ruling class and the ruling class’s implicit appeal to its authority as a coterie of highly trained and capable experts. No single person exemplifies this more than Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has attained celebrity status during the pandemic as the nation’s leading immunologist and forward-facing spokesman for our public policy response…. There was never any compelling reason to dismiss the lab leak theory out of hand, and in retrospect, it seems that those who did so were likely motivated more by ‘orange man bad!’-style anti-Trump personal animus than anything else. The Biden administration has recently called for a 90-day intelligence community review into the origins of the pandemic, which is welcome news for those of us who have called COVID-19 a “Chinese Chernobyl” demanding serious geopolitical accountability since day one—but sad news for those who may have presumed a modicum of intellectual honesty from our political elites.” • The writer is from something called the Edmund Burke Institute. The difficulty here is that liberal Democrats are notoriously unable to engage in self-reflection, and so their base, the PMC, has no political mechanism to collectively rectify error. (For example, where are the Congressional hearings on how the CDC butchered the test kits?) Worse, tribalism — I’m still not sure that’s the right word, because tribes have social structures; perhaps cultism? — infects everything. For example, suppose Trump, after the conversation with Xi reported by Woodward, had said: “My good friend President Xi has said that Covid is airborne, and I agree. Everybody mask up!” Liberal Democrats would have gone nuts, the aerosol thought collective never would have gotten traction, and we’d be doing hygiene theatre still. Nevertheless, we do have trustworthy experts; it’s important that we do. Unfortunately, separating the trustworthy expert from the untrustworthy expert does not seem to be a function of government, or indeed of politics. I don’t know what to do about this. Musical interlude

UPDATE “Down With Institutionalists” [The Atlantic]. “When Democrats tout bipartisanship as a kind of moral duty, they’re setting an impossible standard for themselves and giving cover to Republicans’ bad-faith refusal to cooperate and govern.” • More auto-kinbaku-bi

UPDATE “Congress Takes Field Trip To Goldman Sachs To Learn How Laws Get Made” [The Onion]. • Pitch perfect, as usual.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “May 2021 BLS Jobs Situation – Job Gains Good But On The Low Side Of Expectations” [Econintersect]. “The headline seasonally adjusted BLS job growth was on the low side of expectations, with the unemployment rate worsening from 6.1 % to 5.8 %. Although this is a good report, analysts expected better.”

Manufacturing: “United States Factory Orders” [Trading Economics]. “Factory orders in the US shrank 0.6 percent month-over-month in April of 2021, the first decline in 12 months and more than market forecasts of a 0.2 percent fall. transportation equipment recorded the biggest decrease (-6.6 percent), namely ships and boats (-62.8 percent), defense aircraft and parts (-8.5 percent) and motor vehicles (-1.8 percent). Orders for electrical equipment, appliances and components were also down (-0.7 percent). Excluding transportation, factory orders increased 0.5 percent.”

Rail: “Rail Week Ending 29 May 2021 – May Rail Movements Up 28% Year-over-Year” [Econintersect]. “We are now seeing great rail growth as the data is being compared to the coronavirus lockdown period last year.”

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Shipping: “Congestion Grows in China’s Yantian Port due to COVID-19 Outbreak” [Maritime Executive]. “The container shipping industry and global supply chain from China are facing a fresh challenge due to a disruption at Yantian and the neighboring Shekou ports in southern China near Hong Kong. The province is facing increased restrictions, which are impacting port operations at one of China’s busiest export terminals, due to newly reported cases on COVID-19. The increased measures began in late May after cases of the COVID-19 virus were diagnosed among workers within the port. Chinese and port officials implemented stringent restrictions and disinfection routines and this week it appeared that the situation might be improving. Port officials said export would resume from the terminals, although with continuing restrictions. All the major container shipping companies in recent days have warned customers of disruptions to the flow of containers through the port. Estimates are that there are more than 20,000 TEU now backlogged in the port, with some sources saying as many as 50 or 60 ships are now anchored out. It is sparking scenes of the congestion that built up in southern California in January and February and which the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are just now catching up.” • Handy map:

The Bezzle: “Ex-SEC internet enforcement chief says crypto investors are ‘enabling’ ransomware attacks” [CNBC]. “Investors in bitcoin and other digital currencies are empowering online hackers, the founder of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s internet enforcement office warned Thursday. ‘Ransomware is hitting everywhere and they’re all collecting it in bitcoin because there’s no way they’re going to get caught. So you’re also enabling it,’ John Reed Stark, now head of an eponymous cybersecurity consultancy, told CNBC’s ‘Squawk on the Street.’ Stark said cryptocurrencies have almost no practical use, likening trading in them to the speculation that recently carried AMC Entertainment and other meme stocks to incredible heights. Cryptocurrencies also lack registration and other requirements that bring more transparency to U.S. capital markets, he added.”

Tech: “Twitter begins rolling out subscription product to undo tweets, customize app” [Reuters]. “Twitter Inc. on Thursday said it will roll out a new subscription product initially in Australia and Canada called Twitter Blue, which will let paying users edit their tweets before posting and change the color theme of their app.” • At last, the Edit button! But you have to pay… Although, to be fair, anything that moves away from “You are the product” is good. More: “The service will cost $2.99 per month in the United States according to app details in Apple’s App Store.”

Manufacturing: “United Airlines’ Supersonic Jet Is a Bad Idea” [The New Republic]. “United Airlines announced this week that it will purchase at least 15 supersonic Overture jets, at $200 million a pop, from a startup called Boom, which—having yet to put a single one of its fast new planes in the sky—aims to start ferrying loads of up to 88 business-class passengers between major cities by the end of the decade.” And why? “Essentially, because some very rich people (read: Boom’s investors) think it would be cool. And they have more cash than ever to throw at shiny new toys. Who, after all, urgently needs to get from Newark to London in three and a half hours, if not a fabulously wealthy investment banker or pharmaceutical executive? Who can pay the roughly $6,000 per ticket needed to do so?” • On the bright side, supersonic air travel will mean we can spread pandemics faster than ever!

Manufacturing: “Nissan Delays Release of Flagship Electric Car Amid Chip Crunch” [Bloomberg]. “Nissan Motor Co. is pushing back the release of its flagship Ariya electric vehicle, highlighting the struggle automakers everywhere are facing in trying to launch new cars amid a persisting shortage of semiconductors…. The struggle to roll out new models amid a global shortage of automotive chips is one that automakers worldwide are facing. But the need for a smooth roll-out of the Ariya is particularly acute for Nissan. Analysts have highlighted the model as key to the Japanese car company’s performance going forward, and Nissan itself touts the model as its flagship vehicle, embodying its decades-long reputation for churning out high-tech autos. Nissan is counting on the 12 new models it plans to release in the 18 months through November to boost sales.”

Manufacturing: “Why Intel and TSMC are building water-dependent chip factories in one of the driest U.S. states” [CNBC]. “TSMC and Intel, two of the biggest heavyweights in the chip industry, have chosen to expand in Arizona for several other reasons, according to the analysts. sIntel has had a presence in Arizona for over 40 years and the state is home to a well-established semiconductor ecosystem. Other major chip companies with a presence in Arizona include On Semiconductor, NXP and Microchip. As Intel has increased its presence in Arizona, the local universities have ‘established a strong reputation for semiconductor design courses and research providing a highly-skilled work force for the local semi industry,’ [Alan Priestley, vice president analyst at tech research firm Gartner] said. This has helped create an ecosystem of companies to supply the products and services necessary to manufacture chips.”” • Apparently, fabs recycle a lot of their water, and Arizona made deals for the rest.

The Labor Market: Interesting chart:

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 48 Neutral (previous close: 46 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 38 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jun 4 at 1:13pm.

The Biosphere

“Is 1.5 Degrees Still Possible?” [David Wallace-Wells, New York Magazine]. “Last week, the first 17-year cicadas began to emerge from a band of earth draped like a sash across the middle of the country, including D.C., Tennessee, and Ohio. Since the last time we saw these bugs, in 2004, about a third of all of the carbon emissions ever produced in the history of humanity have been pumped into the atmosphere — which means the climate crisis is about one third bigger, and one third more urgent, than it was the last time we were reflecting on the surreality of glimpsing planetary history in 17-year intervals, separated by 16 years of darkness. The next time we see cicadas, in 2038, the next act of the climate crisis will have been largely written — sealing not just the fate of the Paris agreement’s optimistic 1.5-degree goal but possibly its 2-degree target as well. Whether we avoid those levels of warming — the two-degree threshold has been called ‘catastrophic’ by scientists, ‘genocide’ by island nations, and ‘death to our continent’ by African climate diplomats — will be determined by the pace of global decarbonization undertaken during the life cycle of a single generation of insects.”

Our Famously Free Press

“Introducing “Activism, Uncensored”: A Collaboration With News2Share” [Matt Taibbi, TK News]. “TK has decided to team up with News2Share for a new regular feature called ‘Activism Uncensored,’ which will attempt to give context to mainstream coverage of public protests and demonstrations big and small. Oftentimes shooters like [Ford]. Fischer know activist groups better than most, because they’ve had to follow them over periods of time, and learn to distinguish between monolithic national organizations and more idiosyncratic groups that may all march under one name, but vary wildly from chapter to chapter, region to region. In this first installment, about a joint action of armed “BLM 757” and Boogaloo activists in Virginia Beach, we see an example of groups depicted as adversaries who in fact were acting in cooperation. Typically Ford lets his footage speak for itself, but in this series (he plans to be in the Midwest next), we’re asking him to add whatever history he knows about the scenes in question, including how they might have been covered, mis-covered, under-covered, and so on. In an effort to avoid simple storylines, the people interviewed will get to speak a little longer, the scenes will roll a little longer, and we’ll try to give you a broader picture, rather than just a piece.” • This is really good, and I like that Taibbi (like Sirota) is moving closer to starting a news-gathering organization, instead of being a single reporter/pundit (however fine). It will be good to hear more about what’s happening, out there in the biomass of this vast country.

The Agony Column

Life among the PMC:

“Psychologists, sociologists and evolutionary anthropologists say it behooves us to take a more curatorial approach when it comes to our friends because who you hang out with determines who you are.” • In essence, your friends need to show ROI. The difficulty with the PMC’s position, existentially, is that they want to be capitalists, but they have no capital. And so we have social forms of servants that ape the calculations of the masters, but are empty of content.

“Why Is It So Hard to Return to Normal?” [Molly Jong-Fast, Vogue]. “And then there’s the question of people still being cautious—especially those who worked on the front lines, and not just in medical fields. A study from the University of California found the highest mortality among ‘cooks, line workers in warehouses, agricultural workers, bakers and construction laborers.’ The Brookings foundation points out that, ‘low-income and minority populations face a higher risk of dying from COVID-19 due to structural conditions, health inequities, and a higher prevalence of preexisting health conditions such as heart disease, asthma, and diabetes.’ Now we’re wondering why these people aren’t more enthusiastic about going back to the same jobs that nearly killed them?” • “We.” “These people.”

Guillotine Watch

“Opioid Billionaires Demand Sweeping Immunity” [Walker Bragman, Andrew Perez, and David Sirota, Daily Poster]. “The billionaires that made their fortune off opioids are asking a federal court to grant sweeping legal immunity to their family and to more than 1,000 parties linked to the family and the scandal, including one of their companies peddling opioids across the globe, according to new court records reviewed by The Daily Poster. If the court blesses the requested releases — and if Congress does not quickly pass pending legislation to halt such immunity — government officials would be prevented from bringing opioid-related lawsuits against not only Sackler family members and their businesses, but also against the Sacklers’ army of lawyers, family trusts, foundations, investors, film companies, and even other pharmaceutical companies that manufacture and sell opioids. The immunity request was filed by lawyers for Purdue Pharma on Wednesday as part of a larger disclosure in the opioid giant’s ongoing bankruptcy proceedings. Members of the Sackler family are seeking the liability shields in exchange for contributing more than $4 billion to a bankruptcy settlement.” • Well, the Sacklers seem to have reached the Bargaining stage. Perhaps we can help them move toward Acceptance?

Class Warfare

“On Police Reform, the AFL-CIO Has a Lot of Catching Up to Do” [Alex Press, Jacobin]. “The cornerstone proposal is the Union Law Enforcement Accountability and Duty Standards (U-LEADS) program. This is a program ‘developed, owned and instituted by the union’ — the police union — to ’empower local union members to speak up and take action if fellow members are violating their professional oath or abusing their power,’ with the aim of helping the union ‘weed out wrong-doers from union membership.’ In short, ‘codes of excellence,’ as the AFL-CIO’s Shuler suggested last year. How U-LEADS will overcome the infamous and well-established ‘blue wall of silence’ inside police departments is not clear; the report offers few details. There is little basis to presume that police departments would stick to such codes, or even do the minimum of merely saying they agree with them. Cops routinely get infuriated when anyone in organized labor — or outside of it for that matter — raises even the gentlest criticism of policing.” • Those dang bad apples!

“Biden Says He Backs a Just Transition for the Climate Crisis. Advocates Say, ‘Prove It.'” [In These Times]. “On January 27, one week after taking office, Biden signed an executive order establishing an interagency working group focused on addressing the economic needs of ​’coal, oil, gas, and power plant communities.’ The group, co-chaired by National Economic Council director Brian Deese and National Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy, is a collaboration between 12 federal agencies including the labor, interior, treasury and energy departments. In late April the working group published an initial report identifying 25 of the most impacted regions for coal-related declines, and highlighted existing federal programs that could provide nearly $38 billion in funding for relief. The report noted that ​“creating good-paying union jobs in Energy Communities is necessary but not sufficient” and stressed that ​“foundational infrastructure investments” including broadband, water systems, roads, hospitals and other institutions would be necessary to economically revitalize these areas. The group also noted that a just transition would require prioritizing pollution mitigation and environmental remediation, like plugging leaking oil and gas wells and reclaiming abandoned mine land. These objectives hold the potential not only for job creation but also achieving environmental justice priorities. Next steps from the working group include organizing town halls with senior Biden administration officials in affected communities like those in Appalachia, the Northern Rocky Mountain region, the Illinois Basin, and the Mid-Continental Gulf Coast, and establishing a centralized mechanism for distributing federal resources.” • I’d like to know what jaded observers like the Trillbillies (coal) think of this. My guess: Not much.

News of the Wired

“AI still sucks at moderating hate speech” [MIT Technology Review]. “The study authors, led by scientists from the University of Oxford and the Alan Turing Institute, interviewed employees across 16 nonprofits who work on online hate. The team used these interviews to create a taxonomy of 18 different types of hate speech, focusing on English and text-based hate speech only, including derogatory speech, slurs, and threatening language. They also identified 11 non-hateful scenarios that commonly trip up AI moderators, including the use of profanity in innocuous statements, slurs that have been reclaimed by the targeted community, and denouncements of hate that quote or reference the original hate speech (known as counter speech). For each of the 29 different categories, they hand-crafted dozens of examples and used ‘template’ sentences like ‘I hate [IDENTITY]’ or ‘You are just a [SLUR] to me’ to generate the same sets of examples for seven protected groups—identities that are legally protected from discrimination under US law. They open-sourced the final data set called HateCheck, which contains nearly 4,000 total examples.” • So far as I can tell — expert readers will correct me — there is nothing new about this technology at all. We’ve tried conceptualizing language as template-driven, and it just isn’t, because — get this — language permits an infinite number of sentences to be formed. Hey, I’m just asking questions….

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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 (WS):

WS writes: “I am not sure what these are, but I think they are funny!” I’ve had them, I don’t know what they are either. They are a benevolent invasive…

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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. Watt4Bob

    Enabling the 1% to move about faster than the speed of sound isn’t such a good idea.

    Considering the evil they get up to, IMHO, they should be restricted to walking anywhere they want to go.

    Can’t get there on foot, what a shame.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Next thing you know, they’ll be rearranging their “friendscapes” in order to find suitable walking partners.

    2. synoia

      The plane was touted as being “carbon neutral.” I want to see those assumptions, scenarios, and calculations.

  2. ambrit

    I don’t know what those Plantidotes are either, but those flower tops make me think of mutant, alien broccoli.

    1. QuicksilverMessenger

      Euphorbia (spelling?) I think. Every yard I have ever had in Seattle has had these. I love them

  3. steve

    Today’s Plant: its one of the Euphorbias. Their sap is toxic, some people are extremely sensitive. Nice plant.

    1. Arizona Slim

      That press release isn’t messing around. Coming up next: The end of the news blackout against the treatment that dare not speak its name.

      1. Basil Pesto

        it really is. What relevant legislation are they bringing their suit under that encompasses “spreading disinformation and misguiding the people of India”? The press release says nothing on this. Let’s be serious.

        fwiw, the Indian Bar Association is not the Bar Council of India.

        Until they can provide evidence of their own seriousness rather than a mildly splashy press release, this is a big nothing.

  4. doug

    ‘The president has now cut more than $1 trillion from his initial $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal’
    What a joke , but not funny…

    1. ambrit

      Add that to dropping the tax increase on the wealthy and we end up with…”nothing [will] fundamentally change.”
      2022 is going to be a bloodbath for the Democrat Party.

    2. John

      This in pursuit of a bi-partisan bill? Doesn’t it take at least two willing participants for something to be called bi-partisan? Can no one understand that Senator McConnell permits his faction to vote only for that which suits his political and power interests?

      Obama pursued this chimera for years. didn’t happen then; won’t happen now.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Obama didn’t view bipartisany-ship as a chimera to be pursued. He used it as a cloak to cover up his Wall Street agenda. Bipartisany-ship was the hat out of which The Great Obama pulled many upper class rabbits.

  5. curlydan

    I suspect that vaccine count by day chart would be near 0 if not for the 12-16 year olds that only recently got permission to get the vaccines. It’s going to be SLOW going very soon on vaccines.

    1. Keith

      States just need to pony up with incentives. People have seem lotteries and gun give aways, so more states will need to jump on that bandwagon, especially as summer approaches and people think they can put it off until the fall.

  6. ChrisFromGeorgia

    It is clear the trend is down on vaccinations here in the US, yesterday’s numbers (not the 7 day average) were well below the 1M mark. And the blip on Tuesday was just making up for the Memorial day weekend.

    So what now, it’s your move gubmint, time to up the ante? Free shares of AMC? More donuts and gift cards? Extrapolating those charts out we intercept the abscissa before Biden’s trumpeted July 4th date, when we supposedly all take our masks off, triumphantly shouting “America {Family blog} yeah!!”


    1. voteforno6

      I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a spike in vaccinations if/when one or more of them gets final FDA approval.

      1. hunkerdown

        This is my plan. The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

      2. ambrit

        I’m not holding my breath on this. To the best of my knowledge, none of the EUA vaccines have gone through a proper Third Stage Trial; that would be a roughly one to two year wait for approval.
        [Boffins feel free to hold my feet to the fire.]

        1. rowlf

          With enough lobbyists could the big players get expedited Third Stage Trials? My fear is quick FDA approval so employers can require vaccination with what is available now for continued employment with no liability.

          I can’t shake the image of the herd being stampeded off a cliff, and “shut up and pick up your Dixie cup”.

          1. Henry

            I’m not saying it isn’t possible, but it would be purely political as EUA’s are based on just a few dozen people out of the large number of trial participants that actually got sick and at that point they were able to throw out the first month of the Vaccinated group, because they weren’t fully vaccinated so their sickness didn’t count. If you use absolute risk reduction rather than widely advertised relative risk reduction the vaccines already only provide a fraction of a percent improvement in avoiding hospitalization for the general population. Now that they have unmasked the controls and given many vaccinations where does the data come from as you need large numbers to show such small improvements? Its hard to imagine using VAERS data for a scientific result and unless they recruit more people with the infection numbers dropping I suspect just about everyone that was not vaccinated in their study has already got the virus and been hospitalized if they were going to and if they continue to use people from third world counties they run the risk of be compared with Ivermectin, which could lead to a relative no or negative benefit for the vaccines.

            1. Ping

              I have tried to report a significant vax adverse reaction with VAERS but it keeps asking for information initially provided and re-submitted so there is no permanent report number. The phone number either doesn’t answer or instructs to leave message for a call back that never happens. Many on a FB group comment the same experience so it’s a feature and not a bug.

              All to say the VAERS numbers of adverse events are wildly under-reported.

        2. grateful dude

          I heard that Cuba has 5 with one in trials in Venezuela. I might trust their medicine more than big phartma here.

      3. Shonde

        How about removal of the liability shield for pharma? Then, and only then, will I be vaccinated. That removal will finally show pharma has faith in their own product.

  7. NotThePilot

    Re: AI still sucks

    So far as I can tell — expert readers will correct me — there is nothing new about this technology at all. We’ve tried conceptualizing language as template-driven, and it just isn’t, because — get this — language permits an infinite number of sentences to be formed. Hey, I’m just asking questions….

    I’ve dabbled in AI / machine-learning some, definitely not an expert, but I’ve studied bits of the theory & helped with some (small) projects. And I’m definitely pretty far on the skeptic side of the hype-spectrum when it comes to AI (for example, I obviously don’t know, but if you made me bet on it, I’d say general, “hard” AI is probably impossible).

    If I understand the article correctly though, that HateCheck dataset is kind of cool from a scientific standpoint. It really isn’t a technology so much as a corpus to test the various technologies against, and the way they built it up was an old-fashioned case-study, followed by analysis and categorization.

    The fact that they used simple grammar templates to defeat the AI also sort of drives home the criticism that (most) AI approaches don’t actually understand anything, even in a limited sense of the word. I think you’re right though that the grammar approach was sort of the main approach to “first-wave” AI back in the 60s & 70s.

    Nowadays, I think most of the popular machine-learning techniques are essentially just self-adjusting statistical models, but even those have been around for decades. What changed is just that the processing power and datasets have reached a point where you can actually show practical results with them.

  8. Toshiro_Mifune

    COVID-19 Has Forever Destroyed Americans’ Trust in Ruling Class ‘Experts’
    There really wasn’t much trust in those experts prior to COVID.

    1. Glen

      Agree, and COVID-19 was not an active agent, this has been an act of self immolation for all to witness.

      1. Lee

        It’s amazing what an organism without agency or even its own organ system can accomplish while intensively social, complex organisms that putatively possess higher order decision making capabilities can’t seem to get out of their own way.

  9. dcblogger

    none of the local DC BLM activists trust Ford Fischer or News2Share, as he records their faces at demonstrations and the police use it to identify them and harass them personally. Chuck Modi always films people from their backs and is trusted by local activists.

    1. Randy

      Pretty amazing chutzpah to go out in public to protest and then demand your face isn’t recorded.

      1. ambrit

        The fact that there is good reason to want your identity shielded from the ‘Organs of State Security’ is pretty much a prima facie case in favour of public secrecy. The demonstrations are partly the result of maleficence on the part of “Officialdom.” True “Martyrs” are few and far between.

      2. The Rev Kev

        Yeah, it’s almost like protestors think that police are recording their faces and adding it to a database in a fusion center somewhere so that they can be targeted later at police convenience. It’s not like stuff like this happens in real life. Say, whatever happened to Occupy Wall Street by the way?

    2. Randy

      Pretty amazing chutzpah to go out in public to protest and then demand your face isn’t recorded.

      1. JBird4049

        Is this sarcasm? Or is this from a life sheltered? 1984 should not be a howto guide for our government.

        The police everywhere in the United States, and just about all our government, demand that their privacy be protected even when violating the law themselves. If the powerful, unlawful, and protected from justice can demand privacy, why shouldn’t the weak, lawful, and unprotected demand likewise?

    3. Chris Smith

      I see no problem with a journalist filming people in public places engaging in newsworthy events. That is their job. The problem it seems to me is the police targeting people for protesting.

      1. dcblogger

        which can be easily avoided by filming people from their backs, you can tell the story without showing people’s faces. When police know who you are they look for outstanding warrants or other ways to harass you. They can just station police cars by your house and watch it 24/7 as has happened to April Goggins.

        1. Gareth

          Your journalists aren’t neutral observers if they show favor like that. They are propagandists. Too many people get to be anonymous these days, from protestors to national security sources to White House aides who swear the President is insane but refuse to stand by the accusation in a Congressional hearing. If something matters that much, you need to put your name on it.

  10. fresno dan

    The problem with pointing out that death threats were made, is that now a days, death threats occur about as frequently in online communication as “the” or “and” or “or”

    Enter the age of the online death threat. It’s scary, yeah, because it’s a death threat. Humans rarely like being threatened with an end to their basic essence, no matter the delivery method for that announcement. And yet, on Twitter, this becomes such a weird, surreal concept: It’s deeply impersonal (these people don’t even know each other and probably never will; NONE of them know each other, likely), fueled by a false kind of rage spawned by the way the Internet works (one side gets self-righteously mad, another side self-righteously madder, and repeat). Fortunately, in most cases, the threat is also incredibly unlikely to be fulfilled. That doesn’t make it pleasant.

    How many political or high ranking bureaucrats that have reported death threats have…become dead due to the person who issued the threat, in say the last 20 years? I’m afraid that society has degenerated to the point that getting a death threat is akin to getting junk emails…
    If news is suppose to be out of the ordinary, I think we have to switch to who didn’t get a death threat for it to warrant a spot on the news….

    1. Randy

      I got a death threat at my old job that rattled me pretty bad. Went crying to my boss about it. She basically laughed it off, having gotten inured to receiving them herself. I ended up developing a thicker skin for such things.

      I don’t think this this is really a new thing though. Harlan Ellison wrote about getting spammed with death threats, and he just wrote science fiction novels. He was quite a personality though.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        How would the death-threateners respond if one said : ” come on over and visit some time. I’ll keep a round in the chamber for you.”

  11. fresno dan

    “I got used to the commute, but it was like Stockholm Syndrome,” he said. “I just talked myself into thinking it wasn’t so bad. But it was. It was. Not doing that commute gave me 15 hours per week of my life back.”
    Being single, I alone could choose how close to work I lived. For a good portion of my life I lived close enough to work to walk to work. When I finally bought a house in the suburbs, it was only about half an hour, save for the auto accidents that would jam up the road for a couple of hours.
    I have always been amazed at the time and effort people put into commuting so that they could sleep in the hinterlands….

    1. Laura in So Cal

      Agreed. The last time my husband was looking for a new job, we put a 45 minute commute time circle on a map. That was his limit. After many interviews, he got 2 offers. One was for a business that is 6 miles from our house and at the same pay he was currently making (8 miles from our home). The other was for 20% more money and more prestigious, but at the edge of our “commute circle”. He took the lower paying job that was closer to home. We decided that the chronic stress of the longer commute (my husband might have a little road rage problem) wasn’t worth it.

      1. ambrit

        Ah, but that assumes that you can live off of the wages on offer. I have turned down ‘local’ construction jobs in favour of out of town work, as in out of town for the week and home for the weekends, strictly for financial reasons. We once lived in a tent in a State Park in Lafayette, Louisiana, back in the early 1980s, because my full time job in plumbing didn’t cover the high rents there. The high rents were driven by offshore workers and other oil field workers being paid more than ‘normal’ workers and thus being able to facilitate a severe inflation in housing values. We lasted about six months before I threw in the towel and we moved back to the New Orleans area.
        For my last full time plumbing job, I did a full hour commute, each way, for five years. That job paid well and had, *gasp*, benefits. Even with the “good recompense” that job offered, we would not have been able to live in the area the job was located in on just my salary. Since Phyl was a “stay at home” mother, and we still had the kids at home then, we agreed that she did not need to go out to work. As many will attest, being a “stay at home Mom” is a full time job itself.

        1. JBird4049

          In the Bay Area, many people have had to live way out in the boonies just to find a place especially if they had a family. During the Dot.com Boom, people were living in the state capital of Sacramento and working in San Francisco or Silicon Valley, which is quite a commute.

          It has often been a choice in living in a car, a truly decrepit hell-pit, or long distance commuting for decades. Perhaps since the late 1990s.

    2. Lemmy Caution

      Got married, moved to the country and my wife and I endured a 1 1/2 hour commute each way for 7 years to our jobs in the city. One day, after a minor traffic accident snarled the freeway and turned our drive home into a 3 hour, white knuckle cluster****, we both said, There’s got to be a better way. Quit our jobs, went freelance and immediately gained 3 hours a day back. That was 25 years ago and we’ve never looked back.

    3. R

      I’ve been working from home since February 2020 and loving it. I can see myself going back in for a day trip now and then but not for whole weeks away from the family like before. I enjoyed the time to myself but I would prefer to have the time at home, reading a book, than surrounded by coughing strangers, and certainly not driving!

      For a halcyon five years in the 2000’s, I lived five minutes walk from my office. Unfortunately I was never in it when I wasn’t a road warrior, it was a great commute. Since then, I have been a super-commuter, living 2-3 hours from the office. Weirdly, after a certain point, the further away you live, the better it gets in the UK, but only if you have good public transport. In every case, it was theoretically possible to do the whole journey by public transport from outside our door but for some of them only a masochist would do it regularly. As you get further away, you switch to long-distance services rather than commuter services and these are much less crowded and better appointed.

      The worst period was Sussex to Wales, when the tiny cross-country train required driving to the station in the first place (to avoid a really unreliable and badly timetabled connection) and took twice as long as the car and was crowded, less comfortable and less reliable. I preferred to white-knuckle the 130 mile drive along the horror of the M27, A34 and M4.

      There was a period of Devon to Wales, where the train service was, if anything worse: a forty-five minute drive from the middle of nowhere to the station and then huge gaps in the mainline timetable from Devon (meaning either a very late or very early arrival in the office), with a mad dash to change in Bristol for the unreliable cross-country train I already knew and loved. The drive was a lot better (rural roads and a motorway only busy in tourist season) so I mainly drove.

      Next came a period of Sussex to London, where I became a Reggie Perrin commuter of routine (“Sorry I’m late, CJ, badger ate the signal box at Clapham Junction”).

      Twenty minutes in the car to the station and then 1h45 on the train and walk straight across the road from the terminus into the office. This was as good as the public transport got because I lived at the end of the line so the train was empty, I always got a seat (and always the same seat!) and I could use the protected time (no mobile signal!) to work in the morning and read / do the crossword with a can of cider in the evening. The train service was frequent so if I missed a train, there would be another in thirty minutes.

      It was actually practical to do the whole journey by public transport in the morning; the bus stopped running by the evening but I would pay for a taxi from the parking and fuel I saved. Having got it down to a fine art, the train service fell apart because the company fired all the guards and the drivers struck and then they botched the new timetable….

      For the last few years, I have been a weekly commuter, Devon to London, stopping at a friend’s place during the week. This has been the best train – it’s a prestige service with a dining car (breakfast service sorely missed but dinner service still going strong) and fast enough that, despite being twice as far as Sussex, the journey takes no longer. It is exorbitantly priced (£120 in the morning if you cannot get an advance cheap ticket; £80 back in the evening) but only once a week it is no worse than the daily trip from Sussex. The only downside is the terminus is in the wrong part of London for the office and the tube takes three sides of a square to get there so I used to get a cab to arrive in time and go back on foot / by bus.

      I suppose becoming a completely remote worker is the final stage of this metamorphosis.

      1. fresno dan

        June 4, 2021 at 6:40 pm
        I could not have endured what you did – it seems like getting to your job was more of a job than your job was. And it has always been my experience that an office job is more grinding, exhausting, and debilitating than physical work…

  12. John

    Seems to me that in order to have any effect on the inexorable increase in CO2 in the atmosphere, radical action is needed; action which will break many rice bowls. Since that is unthinkable, nothing even close to what is required will be done and the long predicted will happen.

    Neo-liberal economics and a consumer society are incompatible with ameliorating climate change. Yet the consumption goes on because markets.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I have come to the same conclusion. I would add concern that often climate change is characterized as a relatively well-behaved linear change with bad things happening several decades from the present. I don’t think the paleoclimate data supports that.

  13. Aumua

    RE: COVID-19 Has Forever Destroyed Americans’ Trust in Ruling Class ‘Experts’
    A little digging reveals that the Edmund Burke Institute is definitely a libertarian/conservative outfit, in spite of what might look like reasonable ideas espoused on its front page. It’s not long before terms like ‘cultural marxism’ start popping up if you get into their info pages. So it’s safe to say that when this author says ‘ruling class’ they mean Democrats and/or liberals, which is a typical hard right distortion of the truth and dog whistle. Just a heads up for anyone who might be a little confused by their slippery presentation of who they are.

    1. JBird4049

      I have never understood just what the term “cultural Marxism” is supposed to mean.

      1. Aumua

        It’s not that easy to define, as the rather sprawling Wikipedia article on the matter attests to. It’s worth a read through however, for a sense of how persistent and pervasive in our society some of the ideas behind the term have become. You’ll often see them reflected here as well, under the banners of pushing back against IdPol, Wokeism and Political Correctness in general.

  14. Pelham

    Re the Sacklers contributing $4 billion to a bankruptcy fund to avoid prosecution over the opioid epidemic: What percentage of the family’s wealth is that $4 billion and how much did they make off their deadly drugs? Without that proportion, we can’t tell whether there might be some degree of justice here or merely a wrist slap.

    1. JustAnotherVolunteer

      English Ivy, blackberry, spurge, and stinky bob (Geranium robertianum) all make my “kill it with fire list”.
      Once any of these get a toehold you will never again be truly free.

  15. Marduk

    Re: “Opioid Billionaires Demand Sweeping Immunity”

    As someone who has lost a family member to Oxycontin-induced opioid addiction, I will never accept any amount of money as sufficient recompense to individuals and society for the destruction they knowingly wrought. They should feel fortunate it’s only their money we take from them. Prison, or worse, is the appropriate prescription for at least some of these people.

    1. hunkerdown

      Yes, we should give the Sacklers immunity, in the form of a writ of outlawry. Let their victims decide.

    2. LawnDart

      It costs them nothing but some paper gains. Deterrence? Yeah, right. If they get the opportunity, they’d do it all over again, because, after all, what do they have to lose?

      American “justice” is what you can afford: Justice, as an ideal, is something that you have to create on your own, at least around these parts. Beware, as this may be frowned upon by the servants of authority who claim exclusive rights to any dispension of this.

    1. steve

      Sweet, sweet surrender…

      Take a ride on a daydream
      Taking you nowhere
      It’s all such a bad scheme
      I know ’cause I’ve been there

      Beck, Bogert, and Appice

    2. tegnost

      geez, by the time the dealings done the only program left will be the guaranteed loan program to get uber drivers into electric cars…if you make the payments for 7 years the car will be yours!

  16. Carolinian

    Arizona chip factory–this is interesting.

    The case for Arizona doesn’t stop there. Its seismic stability and relatively low risk of other natural interference are appealing to chipmakers, O’Donnell said.

    “A chip factory cannot shake, not even a microscopic amount,” he said, adding that they set such factories into the bedrock to keep them still. “Even a 0.5 Richter shake can ruin an entire crop of chips.”

    That said, Intel does have some chip plants on the West Coast of the U.S., where the ground is more susceptible to earthquakes. The company has a huge presence in Hillsboro, Oregon, for example.

    “The West Coast does have fabs but they need to take great measures to isolate the shaking,” said O’Donnell. “They don’t need such drastic measures in Arizona because it shakes a lot less.”

    The state is full of expired volcanoes but I think only the one near Flagstaff has any life left in it.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Seismic stability? I can look out my living room window and see the Tucson Mountains. They were created by volcanic activity.

      As for earthquakes, the last Big One was in the late 1800s. It’s still remembered around here. Citation:


  17. Carolinian

    Re that Taibbi piece mentioned in Links–now that Taibbi has made it fully available it is so very much worth a read.


    Taibbi talks about the intellectual snobbery of our elites–which may be fostered by the branding supplied by elite education. Give the Scarecrow a diploma and suddenly he’s a genius. And it does almost seem as though they are defending their brand rather than anything you might call “ideas.” The critic John Simon once said that an intellectual is someone for whom ideas are more important than people (perhaps defending his oft acerbic writing). While he wasn’t that great a critic I’d say this is spot on. Our current smart set are just the opposite. The “social” is more important than the true. It could be that they simply aren’t that bright.

    1. ObjectiveFunction

      And it does almost seem as though they are defending their brand rather than anything you might call “ideas.”

      Nailed it.

  18. The Rev Kev

    “How to Rearrange Your Post-Pandemic ‘Friendscape’’

    Rather than leave a comment, I will just quote someone from that twitter link who said it far better than I ever could-

    ‘Dude Posting His P’s
    Replying to
    i love when the new york times publishes Tips and Tricks for Sociopaths’

    1. LawnDart

      i love when the new york times publishes Tips and Tricks for Sociopaths

      Oops! Did the mask drop?

  19. chris wardell

    “COVID-19 Has Forever Destroyed Americans’ Trust in Ruling Class ‘Experts’” Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath sealed my agreement with the above statement

  20. Jason Boxman

    So I had to look, because I didn’t believe it; And I’m sure someone must have mentioned this.

    In 2001, the Republicans had control of the Senate until 24 May of 2001. (Jeffords switched parties to independent after that.)

    In any case, the Senate majority leader Trent Lott fired the Senate Parliamentarian. He gave Republicans a sad. Done.

    Liberal Democrats are kind of a pathetic joke.

    1. Phillip Cross

      You’re right. That’s why I didn’t care who won the election. When you realize it’s a lose-lose and move on, you don’t waste so much emotional energy on it all. It’s never going to get better, no matter what you do, so get a different hobby and ignore it.

    1. synoia

      Whoever that dart thrower is, they have a very repeatable aim.

      Or is the dart board gamed with 61 in every segment?

  21. flora

    Mon cher ami, Lambert, ne vous laissez pas berner par de simples statistiques.

    Shorter: lies, damned lied, and statisitics. / heh
    (a general observation)

    Off now for a week’s vacation.
    I will see you again soon. Je te reverrai bientôt.

  22. flora

    re: UPDATE “Congress Takes Field Trip To Goldman Sachs To Learn How Laws Get Made” [The Onion]. • Pitch perfect, as usual.

    It only hurts when I laugh. ha! (ouch!) / ;)

  23. VietnamVet

    Medscape’s headline of a Reuter’s article reads “India Variant Shows Resistance to Vaccines, Antibody Drugs”

    The glaring incompetence of for-profit healthcare is shown by its sole reliance on mRNA “vaccines”. The ignoring of unpatentable treatments. The disdain of proven public health measures.

    Closing borders, quarantines, and contact tracing to control coronavirus work but need a functional government and taxes. The Biden Administration decision to end masking and social distancing may well prove to be even more disastrous than Donald Trump’s decision to ban flights only from China which directly allowed the entry of the Italian variant into New York State in the spring of 2020.

    Fifteen months later, “the B.1.617 variant has become the dominant strain across India and has spread to about 40 nations, including the United Kingdom, Fiji and Singapore.” Although the USA has banned flights from India, private jets and flights from Europe will carry infected passengers to the Americas. Border control at US and UK airports is reportedly poor.

    If a fourth wave and a new lockdown strikes this winter plus the current spot shortage of video cards, new cars, meat and gasoline become universal (Donald Trump stands on top of a tank in front of the Capitol), the collapse could be sudden.

    1. curlydan

      Interesting that a clinical trial is called “large” with about 600 patients when it’s for a new pharma drug.

      “In a large randomized trial, patient risk of progression to more severe illness was reduced by 85% with the drug, sotrovimab, compared to a placebo…. Three of 291 patients (1%) in the sotrovimab group became sick enough to be hospitalized, versus 21 of 292 (7%) in the placebo group, researchers said.”


      I don’t think they say that about the ivermectin clinical trials.

      And I’m not sure we’ll need to wait for the winter for the fourth wave when I see signs like this from Kansas City last weekend. Yeah, it’s outdoors, but it’s kind of freaking me out once the Indian variant starts moving around.

  24. flora

    “Why Is It So Hard to Return to Normal?” [Molly Jong-Fast

    Dare-est one suggest the children of and assumed intellectual ‘heirs’ of the 60’s generations’ cultural avatars (not that there’s anything wrong with that) feel a sense of entitlement? oh, the irony. /heh

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