2:00PM Water Cooler 7/20/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

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#COVID19

At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart from 91-DIVOC. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. I feel I’m engaging in a macabre form of tape-watching….

Vaccination by region:

Flattened, interestingly. This after only 48.6% of the US population is fully vaccinated. And our public health establishment has discredited non-pharmaceutical interventions like masking, and has been fighting treatment tooth and nail, as hard as they fought aerosols, good job.

Case count by United States regions:

Today, non-triumphalist black line of today’s new normal is a little above the peak of the first wave, back in early 2020. We should know the impact of travel and all the family gatherings by July 4 + 14 call it July 21 or so. And of course summer camp, Bible School, etc. (Note that these numbers are if anything understated, since the CDC does not collect breakthrough infections unless they involve hospitalization, and encourages states and localities not to collect the data either.)

Covid cases top ten states: for the last four weeks (hat tip, alert reader Lou Anton):

Florida, holy moley!

NEW From CDC: “Community Profile Report July 20 2021” (PDF), “Rapid Riser” counties, this release:

More red. Last release:

(Red means getting worse, green means bad but getting better. This chart updates Tuesdays and Fridays, presumbly by end-of-day.)

Test positivity:

South running away with the field.

Hospitalization (CDC):

Hospitaliztion flattens, no longer in decline.

Deaths (Our World in Data):

Deaths flatten after increasing.

Covid cases worldwide:

Every region is trending up.

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Politics

“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

“Biden’s Strategy: Treat Trump Like a ‘Crazy Person’” [Edward-Isaac Dovere, The Atlantic]. “[Biden] believes voters are going to care much more about the money in their pockets than the less tangible issues of government reform. I’ve been hearing Biden say this since January 2017: Democrats inadvertently enabled Trump’s victory because they’d stopped improving people’s lives. ‘What I’ve learned in my entire career in politics, you can do anything with somebody and get them to move as long as you don’t change their standard of living downward,’ he told me.” • Anything?

UPDATE “Voters Don’t Credit Biden for Their $1400 Stimulus Checks—and That’s Okay” [Politico]. Maybe they’re waiting for the $600 Biden owes them. “[A] series of focus groups conducted by the pro-Biden Super PAC Unite the Country found “the [American Rescue Plan] and these other [infrastructure] proposals remain worryingly undefined in the public consciousness,” according to a report by Politico’s Natasha Korecki…. The public’s failure to absorb sufficiently what Biden has delivered probably has less to do with Biden’s use of the bully pulpit than with simple timing. The relief checks of up to $1400, sent courtesy of Biden’s American Rescue plan in mid-March, followed earlier relief checks sent courtesy of President Donald Trump. The last of these, for $600, went out in early January. Since most voters don’t pay close attention to the news, they didn’t likely pay close attention to which president wrote which checks (especially since Trump was on record saying his $600 wasn’t enough). That made any communications strategy formulated by the Biden White House an uphill battle.” • Nice try.

2020

“Behind Biden’s 2020 Victory” [Pew Research]. From June, still germane. “In 2020, Biden improved upon Clinton’s vote share with suburban voters: 45% supported Clinton in 2016 vs. 54% for Biden in 2020. This shift was also seen among White voters: Trump narrowly won White suburban voters by 4 points in 2020 (51%-47%); he carried this group by 16 points in 2016 (54%-38%). At the same time, Trump grew his vote share among rural voters. In 2016, Trump won 59% of rural voters, a number that rose to 65% in 2020…. Even as Biden held on to a majority of Hispanic voters in 2020, Trump made gains among this group overall. There was a wide educational divide among Hispanic voters: Trump did substantially better with those without a college degree than college-educated Hispanic voters (41% vs. 30%)… Black voters remained overwhelmingly loyal to the Democratic Party, voting 92%-8% for Biden.”

UPDATE “U.S. Pollsters Mark Worst Performance in 40 Years in 2020 Campaign” [Bloomberg]. “Donald Trump supporters who didn’t respond to pollsters were a likely cause of wildly wrong pre-election surveys in 2020 as political surveys suffered their worst performance in 40 years, a new industry report finds. If that trend continues, those non-responses could pose an even greater crisis for political polling than the advent of mobile phones a generation ago. A new report from a task force of the American Association for Public Opinion Research found that national polls overstated President Joe Biden’s lead over Trump by 3.9 percentage points. In state-level polls, it was 4.3 points. In 2016, pollsters heavily favored Hillary Clinton to defeat Trump. But even though they correctly predicted Biden’s win in 2020, the error margin was much larger. Biden’s predicted victory margin was the biggest miss by survey-takers since 1980. And while polling errors have favored Republicans as recently as 2012, two presidential elections with an increasing Democratic bias have pollsters concerned.” • I said at the time that Republican voters were gaming the polls by giving false answers. Not picking up the phone is simpler, I suppose. Note that “public opinion” presupposes a public, a problematic notion, as we see in “public health.”

UPDATE “In-person voting really did accelerate covid-19’s spread in America” [Economist]. • Nostalgia for that time Joe Biden called for eliminating in-person voting only after he had the election in the bag:

Democrats en Deshabille

“A House Race in Cleveland Captures the Democrats’ Generational Divide” [New York Times]. “Yet in the final weeks of the campaign, the party establishment is throwing copious amounts of time and money into an effort to stop Ms. Turner, a fiery former Cleveland councilwoman and Ohio state senator known beyond this district as the face and spirit of Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaigns, a co-chairwoman in 2020 and a ubiquitous surrogate for the socialist senator. That suggests leaders understand that the outcome of the race will be read as a signal about the party’s future. It has already rekindled old rivalries. The Congressional Black Caucus’s political action committee has endorsed Ms. Turner’s main rival, Shontel Brown, the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party chairwoman. So have Hillary Clinton and the highest-ranking Black member of the House, James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, who will be campaigning here this weekend for Ms. Brown. They argue that Ms. Brown is the better candidate, with a unifying message after four divisive years of Donald J. Trump.” • Anybody who frames a conflict between Turner and Clyburn (or Sanders and Clinton) is generational… Isn’t showing evidence of clear thinking, let us say.

“Pharma CEOs, lobbyists showered Democrat with cash after his attempt to torpedo Pelosi’s drug pricing bill” [STAT]. ” The very next day after Rep. Scott Peters attempted to torpedo House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s signature drug pricing bill by gathering a cadre of moderates to challenge the measure, pharmaceutical industry executives and lobbyists flooded his campaign with cash, according to campaign finance disclosures.” • Pelosi had her eyes on that cash!

UPDATE I am not at all expert in the history of the Democrat Party in the Progressive Era. But this from Stoller rings true:

More:

With antenna this keen, you’d think Stoller would stop confusing liberals (“progressives”) with the left.

UPDATE “Sen. Joe Manchin, key Democratic holdout on federal voting protections, coming to Texas for fundraiser hosted by several GOP donors” [Politico]. “West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin — a key Democratic holdout over efforts to pass federal voting rights legislation — is expected to head to Texas on Friday for a fundraiser with a host committee that includes several wealthy Republican donors.” • Boy, I bet the Democrat leadership is really regretting not supporting Paula Jean Swearingen now. Not.

UPDATE “Texas Should Be a Warning to Democrats Everywhere” [New York Times]. “Unconstrained Republican politicians plunge further to the right in large part because there is no institutional Democratic Party to snap them back toward the middle. Republicans have better organization, volunteers and, most important, fund-raising. That’s the true tragedy here. The entire American political system runs on money, and the real reason Democrats in Texas are so broken down is that donors won’t give them money because money is for winners. Money is not for losers. Democrats got some money in 2018 and 2020. They still lost. ‘Look, Democratic donors have concluded that they’re just throwing money down a rat hole,’ Mr. Jilson added. ‘I had one Houston donor tell me, ‘It’s crazy, I’m not going to do this anymore.’’… If Democrats have any hope of avoiding this [dark and undemocratic] future, their donors will have to take big risks — in long-shot races in states like Texas — and be ready to lose money. Democratic politicians will have to buck up. In Washington, that means running roughshod over the filibuster and smashing the power of the minority leader, Mitch McConnell, in the Senate.” • Let me know how that works out.

2022

“The battle for the 50-50 Senate takes shape” [Politico]. “The four most vulnerable Democratic incumbents — Sens. Mark Kelly in Arizona, Raphael Warnock in Georgia, Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada and Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire — all increased their fundraising pace in the second quarter of this year. The incumbent senators stretched their early cash advantages while the Republican primaries to face them are still forming. Republicans need to win just one of those seats back to recapture the majority. But they also have to hang on to their own seats. Republicans are defending five states where GOP incumbents retired — Alabama, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania. And two other potential swing-state senators — Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Chuck Grassley of Iowa — haven’t yet said if they’re running again, but started to ramp up their fundraising over the past three months.”

UPDATE “A midterm report on the 2022 midterms” [Politico]. “On the House side, the big takeaway is that Republicans are seeing a fundraising revival. For much of the Trump era, Democrats have enjoyed an army of small-dollar donors who funneled millions into their campaigns and Republicans were stuck figuring out how to match it. But in this quarter GOP incumbents have been getting the hang of digital fundraising, are seeing more energized donors and are reaping the benefits of their new WinRed fundraising platform. They are able to keep pace. That doesn’t bode well for Democrats who are trying to protect their narrowest House majority in 20 years.”

UPDATE “Swing Country: Rural Dems run from party” [Axios]. “Democratic strategists are advising candidates in states like these to refrain from ‘fancy’ language, and focus on populist economic policies…. Several consultants insisted that Democratic policies — on labor rights, broadband, climate and infrastructure — are popular in rural areas. It’s the messaging that’s causing heartburn.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

I find Cohn’s threads almost impossible to follow; she really needs a blog. That said, this looks worrisome:

UPDATE “‘Buying Votes’ Is Good, Actually” [Eric Levitz, New York Magazine]. “To be fair, [Fox Business host Stuart] Varney does seem to recognize that voters like social democratic policies. That is, more or less, his secondary objection to the CTC; that the Democrats’ embrace of the policy represents a craven act of pandering to the popular will. Varney’s argument seems to be that elected officials have a responsibility to avoid competing on the basis of how much aid they can deliver to the public, lest they end up in a race to the bottom. To violate this tacit gentleman’s agreement is to corrupt the political system through mass bribery. Democrats are, in his words, ‘buying votes.’ This sentiment has a long pedigree on the right. It is essentially an updated version of 19th-century conservatives’ arguments against mass democracy: That granting all men political equality would render government hostage to the imprudent, extortionate appetites of popular majorities. As the chancellor of New York, James Kent, argued at the Empire State’s Constitutional Convention in 1820, “the tendency of universal suffrage is to jeopardize the rights of property and the principles of liberty.”

UPDATE “What is the ‘Successor Ideology’?” (podcast) [Yascha Mounck, The Good Fight].

Stats Watch

Housing: “May 2021 CoreLogic Single-Family Rents: Rent Prices Increased Four-Fold, Intensifying Affordability Challenges” [Econintersect]. “The Single-Family Rent Index (SFRI) shows a national rent increase of 6.6% year over year, up from a 1.7% year-over-year increase in May 2020. The shift in consumer preferences toward lower-density communities and single-family shelter continues to cause a ripple effect in the rental market, with single-family rent growth reaching the highest level since at least January 2005 in May. Due to high purchase prices and ongoing limited availability of for-sale homes, would-be first-time buyers are opting to remain renters instead of entering the housing market. However, similar inventory and affordability challenges are also emerging in the rental space.”

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Real Estate: “Manhattan Retail Vacancies Hit Fresh Record, Weighing Down Rent” [Bloomberg]. “The amount of available retail space in Manhattan jumped to another record, even as pandemic restrictions ease across New York. The availability rate rose to 28% in the second quarter, the highest in at least 10 years…. Manhattan’s retail districts are struggling to bounce back after a pandemic that emptied office buildings and kept tourists home. Even as foot traffic picks up across the city, retail landlords are still struggling to fill the glut of space. New leasing in the second quarter was down 60% from the same period in 2019… Asking rents, meanwhile, fell by an average of 9% from a year earlier across Manhattan’s major shopping corridors. And landlords are using concessions to fill space, offering as many as 10 months free on newly signed deals.” • This has been going on for a long time. Yves will confirm of disconfirm, but IMNSHO what really sterilized Manhattan at street level was bent squillionaires laundering their money into condos and condo towers. Only chains backed by capital could survive.

Commodities: “Assmang Calls Force Majeure on Manganese Alloys in South Africa” [Bloomberg]. “The mining company declared force majeure to customers last week due to civil unrest in South Africa and the closure of the Durban and Richards Bay ports, said [Rorie Wilson, an alternate director at the company]. The force majeure was still in place as of Sunday, he said…. While the state-owned ports, freight rail and pipelines operator Transnet SOC Ltd. said Friday its port and terminal operations at Durban are slowly starting to normalize, it may take two weeks for port disruptions to ease, affecting the export of manganese to China, according to analysts.”

Shipping: “Chinese ports play key role in global recovery” [Hellenic Shipping News]. “The container shipping industry is projected to see recovery this year, mainly due to East Asian economies, especially China’s effective measures to control the COVID-19 pandemic and rapidly resume work and production, said a report released by the Center for Forecasting Science of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The Outlook of Container Throughput at Global Top 20 Ports in 2021 report estimated seven out of the top 10 ports will be in China, and the growth rate of the country’s container throughput is seen increasing considerably. On the whole, the demand for container shipping services of most ports in China will increase in 2021, especially in the ports of Ningbo-Zhoushan in Zhejiang province, Shenzhen in Guangdong province and Tianjin.”

The Bezzle: “Inside the Weird, Thriving World of Fake Vaccine Cards” [Slate]. “However, there is at least one place where scammers are still selling illegal certificates: Telegram… Messages on the app are securely encrypted, and Telegram’s lack of willingness to cooperate with law enforcement or shut down channels has made it attractive to criminals, including scammers. Telegram recently added a feature that made it possible to buy and sell items through the app directly, allowing users to send cryptocurrency or direct transfers to bank accounts in direct messages. I did a dive into what is advertised for sale on Telegram, and it turned out that it is possible to buy almost anything—from pizza to travel packages, to vaccine cards as well. It only took me several seconds to discover three channels—essentially, streams of information and updates that anyone can search for, and subscribe to—advertising fake vaccine records in English. One of them, ‘Covid19 vaccine cards certificate’ has more than 400,000 followers. I reached out to the channel owner pretending to be a buyer and figured out that the CDC vaccine card, filled in with my information, would cost $200. (That’s nearly 200 times more expensive than cards were going for on Amazon in June, as NPR found; those cards have since been removed.) The Telegram channel owner told me that the cards are authentic, writing: ‘We have professional and licensed doctors working with us who are deep in the game and have access to all the medical databases.’ The author of another channel, ‘COVID19 Vaccine cards’ (with 80,000 followers), indicated the same price: $100 per blank card, and $200 per registered one. ‘I get a doctor register whatever info on the card into the CDC system so it will be as [if] you are vaccinated,’ says the vendor.”

Shipping: “Ocado warehouse fire caused by robot collision delays online food orders” [EuroNews]. Again. “A fire at an online supermarket’s warehouse in the United Kingdom started when three robots crashed into each other, the company involved has said…. London Fire Brigade sent 15 fire engines and around 100 firefighters to contain the fire, which it called a ‘deep seated and challenging operation.'” • PFAS in the runoff, no doubt.

Tech: “Apple AirPod batteries are almost impossible to replace, showing the need for right-to-repair reform” [CNBC]. “Some owners have noticed that, after a few years, used AirPods eventually will last only an hour or so before needing to be recharged — a big decay from the four-to-five-hour battery life they have when new. Because each AirPod is so small and so tightly packed into its housing, it’s almost impossible to swap out the old battery for a new one. Most people give up and just buy a new pair.” • Planned obsolescence.

Tech: “Google Maps Could Be Offering “Potentially Fatal” Hiking Routes for Ben Nevis” [Interesting Engineering]. “Heather Morning, Mountaineering Scotland’s Mountain Safety Adviser, said in a statement: ‘For those new to hill walking, it would seem perfectly logical to check out Google Maps for information on how to get to your chosen mountain. But when you input Ben Nevis and click on the ‘car’ icon, up pops a map of your route, taking you to the car park at the head of Glen Nevis, followed by a dotted line appearing to show a route to the summit.’ Morning added: ‘Even the most experienced mountaineer would have difficulty following this route. The line goes through very steep, rocky, and pathless terrain where even in good visibility it would be challenging to find a safe line. Add in low cloud and rain and the suggested Google line is potentially fatal.’ Morning went on to say that people can easily be fooled into thinking that all information online is correct, safe, and up to date but this is not always so.”

Tech: “For years, a backdoor in popular KiwiSDR product gave root to project developer” [Ars Technica]. It’s not just bent Israeli intelligence: “KiwiSDR is hardware that uses a software-defined radio to monitor transmissions in a local area and stream them over the Internet. A largely hobbyist base of users does all kinds of cool things with the playing-card-sized devices. For instance, a user in Manhattan could connect one to the Internet so that people in Madrid, Spain, or Sydney, Australia, could listen to AM radio broadcasts, CB radio conversations, or even watch lightning storms in Manhattan. On Wednesday, users learned that for years, their devices had been equipped with a backdoor that allowed the KiwiSDR creator—and possibly others—to log in to the devices with administrative system rights.” • It looks like the developer, a coder of the old-school, installed the backdoor for debuggging/support. Cf. Reflections on Trusting Trust.

Pharma: “U.S. states to unveil $26 billion opioid settlement with drug distributors, J&J – sources:” [Reuters]. “U.S. state attorneys general are expected this week to unveil a $26 billion settlement resolving claims that three major drug distributors and drugmaker Johnson & Johnson helped fuel a nationwide opioid epidemic, people familiar with the matter said on Monday…. More than 40 states are expected to support the nationwide settlement, two sources said. States will have 30 days to decide whether to join the global accord then more time to try to convince their cities and counties to participate in the deal, the sources said. McKesson has previously said that of the $21 billion the three distributors would pay over 18 years, more than 90% would be used to remediate the opioid crisis while the rest, about $2 billion, would be used to pay plaintiffs’ attorney fees and costs.” • Why doesn’t Johnson & Johnson have ti disgorge all its profits immediately?

Mr. Market: “Dow jumps more than 600 points as stocks reclaim much of Monday’s lost ground” [MarketWatch]. “The bounce reflected ideas that Monday selloff had been overdone, analysts said. ‘Markets have a way, particularly in the middle of the summer, to price in the worst-case scenario pretty quickly,’ said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B. Riley National, in a phone interview. Stocks sank Monday in a move largely attributed to fears the spread of the delta variant in Asia in particular would slow down the global economic recovery and possibly lead to renewed restrictions on travel and activity as inflation continues to rise.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 20 Fear (previous close: 17 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 35 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 20 at 12:24pm. Mr. Market has a sad.

Rapture Index: Closes up one on floods. “Massive floods have hit areas all over the world” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 186 (Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing, so high is better.)

The Biosphere

“Astronomers push for global debate on giant satellite swarms” [Nature]. “Aerospace companies have launched about 2,000 Internet satellites into orbit around Earth over the past 2 years, nearly doubling the number of active satellites. This has sparked concerns among astronomers and other skygazers, who worry about interference with observations of the night sky. Now, in what would be the biggest international step yet towards addressing these concerns, diplomats at a United Nations forum next month might discuss whether humanity has a right to ‘dark and quiet skies’. The debate could initiate a framework for how scientists and the public would deal with the flood of new satellites — with many more expected. Tens of thousands of satellites could be added to Earth orbit in the next few years to provide broadband Internet, if companies and governments build and launch all the networks, or ‘megaconstellations’, they have publicly announced. The sheer number of these could mean that hundreds are visible all night long, affecting the sky like never before in human history.”

Health Care

UPDATE On breakthrough cases (GM):

Read the whole thread for the arithmetic. Here is the conclusion:

Eesh. That’s not good news.

“Self-infection with speech aerosol may contribute to COVID-19 severity” (accepted research letter) [Journal of Internal Medicine]. “SARS-CoV-2 infections commonly start in the upper respiratory tract, often with mild symptoms. When the infection migrates to the lower airways, disease severity increases considerably, particularly if this occurs before the adaptive immune system has been activated. Microaspiration of nasal or oral fluid represents a well-documented mechanism for this migration. Here we propose the presence of a parallel pathway: self-infection of a carrier by inhalation of their own speech-generated aerosols. We put forward two arguments that support the relevance of this alternate path: the documented effect of cloth facemasks on reducing coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) severity. and a correlation between COVID-19 severity among Deaf language signers and the quantity of their vocalized speech.” • Wild stuff; so very meta and quite plausible. I looked at the PDF, and I can’t understand the argument on Deaf language signers. Perhaps a reader can help. (I guess the solution is to walk and talk at the same time? So you don’t stay in a bubble of your own aerosols? One more problem for restaurants and bars….)

Ayn Rand’s children:

Our Famously Free Press

“NPR’s Brilliant Self-Own” [Matt Taibbi, TK News]. • Good clean fun:

Yesterday’s NPR article, “Outrage As A Business Model: How Ben Shapiro Is Using Facebook To Build An Empire,” is among the more unintentionally funny efforts at media criticism in recent times.

Is the complaint that Shapiro peddles misinformation? No: “The articles The Daily Wire publishes don’t normally include falsehoods.” Are they worried about the stoking of Trumpism, or belief that the 2020 election was stolen? No, because Shapiro “publicly denounced the alt-right and other people in Trump’s orbit,” as well as “the conspiracy theory that Trump is the rightful winner of the 2020 election.” Are they mad that the site is opinion disguised as news? No, because, “publicly the site does not purport to be a traditional news source.”

The main complaint, instead, is that:

By only covering specific stories that bolster the conservative agenda (such as… polarizing ones about race and sexuality issues)… readers still come away from The Daily Wire’s content with the impression that Republican politicians can do little wrong and cancel culture is among the nation’s greatest threats.

NPR has not run a piece critical of Democrats since Christ was a boy. Moreover, much like the New York Times editorial page (but somehow worse), the public news leader’s monomaniacal focus on “race and sexuality issues” has become an industry in-joke. For at least a year especially, listening to NPR has been like being pinned in wrestling beyond the three-count. Everything is about race or gender, and you can’t make it stop.

I gave up listening to NPR a long, long time ago. I don’t like treacle.

“The Problem With Prosecutor Punditry” [New York Magazine]. Deck: “Experts keep promising the walls are closing in on Trump. Haven’t we learned anything?” lol no. More: “This dissonance between the confidence in Trump’s criminal exposure expressed by commentators and its reality was conspicuous throughout the Mueller investigation, which proved to be ratings gold for cable news and an incomparable star-making vehicle for lawyers.” • But the right people made a lot of money. So what’s the issue?

“Majority of Covid misinformation came from 12 people, report finds” [Guardian]. • The origin of this factoid is The Center for Countering Digital Hate — hate being a key funding signifier in the NGO world — a London-based cut-out outfit whose origins look a little sketchy to me. Their main claim to fame seems to be deplatforming Zero Hedge, which I don’t think is a good thing, regardless of my opinion of ZH.

Games

“Why Are Gamers So Much Better Than Scientists at Catching Fraud?” [The Atlantic]. “If unpaid Minecraft mods can produce a 29-page mathematical analysis of Dream’s contested run, then scientists and editors can find the time to treat plausible fraud allegations with the seriousness they deserve. If the maintenance of integrity can become such a crucial interest for a community of gaming hobbyists, then it can be the same for a community of professional researchers. And if the speedrunning world can learn lessons from so many cases of cheating, there’s no excuse for scientists who fail to do the same.” • The two examples of major scientific fraud given are both from Japanese anesthesiologists (“Ueshima had turned out to be one of the most prolific scientific frauds in history, having partly or entirely fabricated records and data in at least 84 scientific papers, and altered data and misrepresented authorship on dozens more”). That doesn’t give me a lot of confidence about going under the knife, should I ever have to do so. Worse, those who keep up with the literature are most likely to have read, and possibly believed, the fraudulent papers.

Groves of Academe

“Modern Porn Education Is Totally Unprepared for Modern Porn” [The Atlantic]. ““It’s not a Playboy magazine anymore,” [Justine Ang Fonte, the Dalton School’s then-director of health and wellness] said, citing familiar but no less crucial facts about the kind of explicit material available to kids today. ‘It’s bodies in motion—amplifying certain beauty standards that are harmful; amplifying lack of protection in certain cases, void of emotional intimacy; and, because race is a genre, amplifying racist sexual violence.’ Her goal, she said, is always to give teenagers the tools to ‘navigate their personal and social spaces through these three adjectives: Their world should be safe, should be fulfilling, should be pleasurable.” Mainstream porn can work against that tripartite goal, Fonte said; other forms, such as feminist-inflected porn sold at prices intended to supply decent wages, may support it. What seemed lost on the outraged parents of Columbia Prep was that their kids weren’t so much titillated by Fonte’s presentation as annoyed and bored: ‘Everyone was texting each other, ‘What the hell is this? It’s so stupid.’ Everyone knows about porn,’ one student told the Post.” • I note without comment that Jeffrey Epstein taught at the Dalton School…. That said, I’m not sure I think much of the tripartite goal, which is really an aesthetic. I hate to use to word “adult” here, because porn co-opted it, but does the tripartite goal prepare children for adulthood, in all the ways that are not Epstein, but not “boring” either?

Book Nook

“The CIA Helped Build the Content Farm That Churns Out American Literature” [Vice]. From 2014, still germane. “According to Wikipedia, a content farm is an organization that employs large numbers of “writers to generate large amounts of textual content which is specifically designed to satisfy algorithms for maximal retrieval by automated search engines.” So, in a way, the American MFA system, spearheaded by the infamous Iowa Writer’s Workshop, is a content farm, too. It was initially designed to satisfy a much less complicated algorithm: one that was sculpted by the CIA to maximize the spread of anti-Communist propaganda through highbrow literature. In a lengthy piece for the Chronicle of Higher Education, writing professor Eric Bennett makes a case that the Iowa program, arguably the most influential force in modern American literature, was profoundly shaped by a CIA-backed effort to promote a brand of literature that trumpeted American individualism and materialism over airy socialistic ideals. Read: More Hemingway, less Dos Passos.” • Discouraging.

Under the Influence

“Kylie Jenner Says Stormi Webster Is Launching Her Own Brand in New “Inside Kylie Cosmetics” Mini-Doc” [Teen Vogue]. “Especially considering that Stormi already has a Kylie Cosmetics collab under her name, nothing is truly off the table and even lighthearted jokes can turn into business realities in the Kardashian-Jenner clan. In fact, in part three of her docuseries, Kylie dropped a pretty big hint that the brand could be the mysterious Kylie Baby company she’s been working on. Back in May 2019, Kylie trademarked Kylie Baby for items like beauty products, clothing, and strollers. She also tagged @kyliebaby in an adorable bath time Instagram pic of Stormi back in June.” • Docuseries? We’re dignifying that?

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Jamaica’s 1831 Revolt Dealt a Hammer Blow to Colonial Slavery” [Jacobin]. “Nine out of ten Jamaicans were enslaved. The island’s system of rule rested on coercion without even a semblance of consent. It was therefore inherently unstable. The resident white plantocracy ruled colonial Jamaica as a small minority living in constant fear of the slave population upon whom their wealth and privilege depended. Zoellner compares these structural features of Jamaica in the early 1800s to conditions in the US South, with a slave population accounting for 33 percent of the total — a region where, in contrast, ‘freehold farms and small artisanal businesses coexisted with large plantations.’ The Jamaican colonial ruling class displayed a ‘know-nothingness,’ relying purely on coercion through ‘the hands of plantation bosses and their muskets and whips,’ in a way that was comparable to frontier settlements. British colonialism chiefly meted out its violence and pernicious greed against the kidnapped and enslaved bodies of black Africans, but it was also not uncommon for guns to be drawn when disputes broke out between local white political figures. Jamaica’s original name in the language of the Taino people, Xaymaca, means ‘land of wood and water.’ As a British colony, it possessed extensive, fertile land and masses of capital, but lacked sufficient labor after the destruction of the indigenous population through disease and enslavement. The Atlantic slave trade thus became the pivotal element in an international accumulation process.”

Guillotine Watch

Son of the Mercury Mission:

News of the Wired

“BMA Security Officers Take Center Stage as Guest Curators of a New Exhibition Opening in March 2022” [Baltimore Museum of Art]. “In March 2022, the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) will present Guarding the Art, an exhibition curated entirely by 17 members of the museum’s security team. The exhibition will draw from works of art in the BMA’s collection, with each work selected by one of the participating officers. As guest curators, the officers will be collaborating with leadership and staff across the museum to select and reinterpret works from a variety of eras, genres, cultures, and mediums—offering a particularly human-centered lens through which to consider the objects” • They look at the objects more than anybody else!

“‘I shoot for the common man’: Danish Siddiqui’s finest work” (photo gallery) [Reuters]. • Specacular.

Sid! Sid! Sid!

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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 (GS):

GS writes: “Here are some spring 2021 photos from a canoe trip in the Adirondacks I made with my son last week. Nice sunshine, plenty of blackflies, too.”

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If you hate PayPal, you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check. Thank you!2:00PM Water Cooler 6/8/2021

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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.

126 comments

    1. Arakawa

      Some of the most frustrating C-SPAN viewing I’ve experienced. (Though I don’t watch a lot of C-SPAN.) The problem is that ‘interrogating’ a public official in this manner who you don’t have the power to do anything to is just grandstanding. (Sen. Paul emphasizing “lying to Congress is a crime” is an insinuation “keep in mind that if you say the wrong thing right now we are going to throw you in jail”, which doesn’t seem to be in the cards for Fauci.) Well, if the threat is not realistic Fauci just grandstands back.

      Reply
      1. Nikkikat

        Lol!! Battle of the grandstanding Titans! Both have zero credibility and that exchange changed nothing.

        Reply
  1. Hepativore

    Is it true that Nina Turner and Shontel Brown are near-tied at the moment? I have not heard that much in-depth reporting from the independent media sources I usually listen to since everybody is too busy going on about CRT and Biden administration attempts at internet censorship.

    I heard that the smear campaign against Turner has been highly effective among the “normie” Democratic voters. If this is true, Turner had better buckle up and be prepared to make heads roll. The only thing that turning the other cheek will do is allow the DNC establishment to slit your throat as Sanders proved with the 2020 campaign with his “my friend Joe” rhetoric. Also, the closer the race is, the higher the likelihood that St. Barack will publicly cast out heretic Turner and encourage people to stay on the holy path of Shontel Brown.

    Also, voting shenanigans are probably a given at this point and considering how vehemently against Turner the DNC is, I am sure they are going to be extensive enough to make Buttigieg blush.

    Reply
    1. PHLDenizen

      That’s what the headlines are screaming, but given the story about polling impotence above, who knows. The Black Misleadership class seems to be in full swing, however. I keep running across reports that the black churches are fast becoming much less relevant than in years prior, but enough of them seem to vote as a block that it makes a difference. Clyburn, for some unfathomable reason, has credibility with them.

      It’s also telling that “The Squad” has refused to show up en force to counter the heavy artillery from outside. This isn’t a direct primary challenge, rather a special election, so the “we don’t support primary opponents” rule shouldn’t apply here. AOC is both gutless and ineffectual. Tweeting not legislating and I hope she gets booted. She did brag that if she failed in her fight to get leftist polices in place, she’d be fine with only surviving one term…

      I sent Nina’s campaign a few bucks hoping it’ll make a difference.

      The Fetterman race is much more relevant to me since I a) live in PA and b) am volunteering as part of his ground crew in the Philly area. He’s doing remarkably well thus far and my anecdotal encounters bear that out on a local level. Unlike AOC, his moral compass is sturdy and he’s more interested in making lives better than performing on Twitter.

      With a 50/50 senate, having a dude like Fetterman will be fascinating. Especially if he takes an obstructionist route. May prove a major problem for Kamala and Obama. Manchin and Sinema vs. Fetterman stands a chance of making politics a little more hopeful and much more fun to watch.

      Reply
      1. Arizona Slim

        As a born and raised Pennsylvanian who now lives in Arizona, I relish the possibility of Fetterman vs. Sinema.

        Reply
          1. PHLDenizen

            Just to be clear — you are making a claim that I slandered and insulted AOC? Excuse me?

            1) “The Squad” is plural, not singular. That means greater than 1. It is not a synonym for AOC. AOC is but one member of that affiliation. My claim that the squad has refused to show as a whole in solidarity with Turner is still true. Ilhan, Ayanna, Rashida, Cori, and Jamaal are MIA. None of them, to my knowledge, are making campaign ads with Turner, showing up to campaign for her in person, phone banking for her, or doing anything of substance to help win Nina’s campaign.

            2) AOC’s brave campaign rhetoric has collapsed entirely. She has done absolutely none of the hard work required to push her agenda. Instead, she appears on Twitter blathering about “organizing” and “pushing Biden left” and “bringing the ruckus”. It’s a denial of her agency to do exactly that, exercise her powers as an elected rep. It’s what she was elected to do. She refuses. Deliberately. She voted for Pelosi as speaker. She hasn’t used her leverage to force votes on leftist policy. She has brought zero “ruckus”. And now her failings are supposedly the voters’ fault because, letting her escape culpability. This is gutlessness. It’s also proof that she’s completely ineffective at enacting leftist priorities.

            3) The Center for Effective Lawmaking ranked AOC 230 out of 240 by the measure of bills introduced that were picked up by committees. This includes comparisons with other freshmen lawmakers. She had ample opportunities to use her leverage with a slim majority to force floor votes. She did absolutely none of that. Tlaib, for instance, managed to get one of hers passed into law. That makes AOC ineffective.

            When you look at her embarrassing performances like her word salad reply to questions about the Palestinians’ conflict with Israel, it’s clear she suffers from a lack of self-awareness. Instead of admitting she didn’t know enough about it to answer and pass, she was baited into rambling and looking like a fool. As I said, ineffective and gutless. No courage to admit a deficit in her understanding of history and made herself look even more foolish.

            Those are the facts as I see them. They aren’t baseless. And they aren’t “insults”.

            You also can’t accuse me of slander without being specific about what you think is slanderous. So evidence, please, “friend of ours”.

            Reply
            1. Aumua

              Alright I retract slanderous then. But insults you’ve now doubled down on, even though you were wrong about AOC not showing up for Turner. This story is not even about AOC but you dragged her name into it just to pile on some sh!t. The squad is not a bloc, it’s a name that was given to them by others, not something they call themselves, and you singled out AOC. I don’t think she’s beyond criticism or anything, but you’re just basically calling her a bunch of names.

              The reason you called her gutless and ineffectual was because you assumed she wasn’t showing up for Turner. That turned out to be wrong but don’t worry, you’ve got a whole list of other “leverages” she hasn’t used to live up to your expectations, and reasons to call her gutless, ineffectual, rambling, a fool, unaware, embarrassing and unlearned.

              Reply
              1. PHLDenizen

                Per Pressley’s own words via a Justice Dems tweet:

                “We are more than four people. We ran on a mandate to advocate for and to represent those ignored, left out, and left behind. Our squad is big. Our squad includes any person committed to creating a more equitable and just world.”

                We have Pressley embracing what you called a media creation, expanding it to include the likes of Turner and all other allies. She specifically calls it “our squad”, including herself, AOC, and everyone else. That is, a bloc of ideologically unified persons elected with a mandate to be the anti-establishment. You’ll argue it’s lawyerly enough to prove your point, but on its face, she describes herself as part of unit whose sole purpose is to accomplish leftist policies by leveraging what AOC would call “organizing”.

                Part of a competent organizing (again, an AOC favorite) strategy is tapping into your social networks to leverage (there’s that word again) their strength in numbers. Pressley has made it clear she welcomes “squad” as a name for the network of people interested in social change, including herself and, tacitly, everyone else in “The Squad”.

                We have AOC on the record ad nauseam about the need to organize and “bring the ruckus”. She’s not exempt simply because she’s in office. She’s better positioned to “organize” (recruit her network of other squad members) and “bring the ruckus” (a small delegation of squad members to Ohio to campaign relentlessly) to elect someone who, by Pressley’s own admission, is a member of her “squad”.

                So I stand with AOC being ineffective. She can’t even make the strategies she implores others to follow work herself. Her dismal record of getting her bills into committee just underscores that.

                Reply
    2. dcblogger

      the most surprising thing about this race is that Nina Turner keeps getting endorsed by Cleveland politicians and her opponent keeps getting endorsed by Akron politicians. Last I heard Turner’s lead was 7 points, down from what it was before. Anybody here from Cleveland?

      Reply
  2. Mikel

    RE: “Manhattan Retail Vacancies Hit Fresh Record, Weighing Down Rent”
    “This has been going on for a long time. Yves will confirm of disconfirm, but IMNSHO what really sterilized Manhattan at street level was bent squillionaires laundering their money into condos and condo towers.”

    Manhattan is starting to remind me a bit of walking into a living room where the homeowners have left the plastic on the furniture and so it doesn’t get ruined. Some don’t even want anyone really to sit in the living room, it’s just a show piece and not “lived in” at all.

    Reply
    1. begob

      I wonder what China Town looks like now – the first time I saw it, looking down Bowery (I think) from across Grand Street summer of 1988, it was like a white-water river of humans.

      Reply
      1. Michael Fiorillo

        Chinatown, the last working class neighborhood in lower Manhattan, is not doing well at all. Of course, that would be Manhattan’s Chinatown – NYC has three, including Flushing, Queens and Sunset Park, Brooklyn, which are doing much better) – which has been suffering since 9/11.

        Even before the pandemic, the core streets had a lot of empty storefronts, with fewer of them offering services to local residents. During the pandemic, restaurants were unable to expand on to the street (which conversely has now become a blight in the East and West Village), further squeezing them. And while this is just anecdotal/observational, the neighborhood feels as if a lot of real estate is being held off the market, awaiting more hyper-lucrative uses…

        Reply
    2. PHLDenizen

      Louis Rossmann, of right to repair fame, lives and owns a small business in NYC. He’s hilarious, unpolished, and his videos are fun to watch. He has a whole series on the bullish!t that’s commercial real estate in NYC, filmed while he searched for a larger space for his shop. Worth watching. Listening to the leasing agents turn themselves into knots is interesting and unintentionally funny.

      To your point, one of the things he’s discussed is what he called “imposter syndrome” — that anyone who isn’t a multi-millionaire feels like an imposter, that not being part of the squillionaire club means trying to live in a city that clearly does not want you. As a native, his take is illuminating: https://youtu.be/Ch8vws8tjVI

      Longish video, but worth the watch.

      Reply
      1. Mikel

        Understand his point, but he should also realize that people that can’t do the “little money” jobs well aren’t going to suddenly perform much better when they get a “big money job”. Most like that would probably use the extra money to sub-contract someone willing to do the real, hard work.

        Reply
  3. fresno dan

    “The Problem With Prosecutor Punditry” [New York Magazine]. Deck: “Experts keep promising the walls are closing in on Trump. Haven’t we learned anything?” lol no. More: “This dissonance between the confidence in Trump’s criminal exposure expressed by commentators and its reality was conspicuous throughout the Mueller investigation, which proved to be ratings gold for cable news and an incomparable star-making vehicle for lawyers.” • But the right people made a lot of money. So what’s the issue?
    =========================================
    One has to accept that most of the “news” is just entertainment. You watch what you like.
    I don’t know how many times I have said I despise Trump, but I will not give up reality for ideological reasons and believe something like the Steele dossier.
    Short review:
    After 8 years of democratic control and Obama as president, somehow the Russians were completely able to “fix” the election for Trump…uh, the dems didn’t know? dems didn’t care?
    After 4 years of republicans and Trump as president, the 2020 election was the most secure election in history, according to the department of homeland security…
    Is it me, but wouldn’t a nonbiased observed conclude that if you want secure elections, you want a republican in office? NOW, I certainly don’t want more repubs in office (to be truthful, I don’t want dems either, but until we can legally import our politicians, whatcha gonna do?)

    Reply
    1. Oh

      After 8 years of democratic control and Obama as president, somehow the Russians were completely able to “fix” the election for Trump…uh, the dems didn’t know? dems didn’t care?

      Obamba and the Dims were too busy spying on us citizens to worry about the Russians fixing the elections.

      Reply
  4. FluffytheObeseCat

    NPR is obnoxious at best. Smug, supercilious and…. intensely boring might be better descriptors. However, re Shapiro, this:

    “By only covering specific stories that bolster the conservative agenda (such as… polarizing ones about race and sexuality issues)… readers still come away from The Daily Wire’s content with the impression that Republican politicians can do little wrong and cancel culture is among the nation’s greatest threats.”

    Is just the truth. Shapiro is a venomous, haughty propagandist. The fact that he calls out smooth, sneering twerps like the haute doyens of NPR is…. nice. But it doesn’t somehow make a hero out of a power-grubbing, down punching attention hog like Shapiro.

    The (very) limited value of hyper partisan propagandists of either mainstream persuasion is that they occasionally report on the other’s BS, highlighting the fecal character of the BS and giving most of us a good chuckle when they do so.

    Reply
  5. allan

    Viral Load of SARS-CoV-2 in Respiratory Aerosols Emitted by COVID-19 Patients
    while Breathing, Talking, and Singing
    [medRxiv, not yet peer reviewed]

    Background: Multiple SARS-CoV-2 superspreading events suggest that aerosols play an important role in driving the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the detailed roles of coarse (>5μm) and fine (≤5μm) respiratory aerosols produced when breathing, talking, and singing are not well-understood. Methods: Using a G-II exhaled breath collector, we measured viral RNA in coarse and fine respiratory aerosols emitted by COVID-19 patients during 30 minutes of breathing, 15 minutes of talking, and 15 minutes of singing.

    Results: Among the 22 study participants, 13 (59%) emitted detectable levels of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in respiratory aerosols, including 3 asymptomatic patients and 1 presymptomatic patient. Viral loads ranged from 63 – 5,821 N gene copies per expiratory activity. Patients earlier in illness were more likely to emit detectable RNA, and loads differed significantly between breathing, talking, and singing. The largest proportion of SARS-CoV-2 RNA copies was emitted by singing (53%), followed by talking (41%) and breathing (6%). Overall, fine aerosols constituted 85% of the viral load detected in our study. Virus cultures were negative.

    Conclusions: Fine aerosols produced by talking and singing contain more SARS-CoV-2 copies than coarse aerosols and may play a significant role in the transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Exposure to fine aerosols should be mitigated, especially in indoor environments where airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is likely to occur. Isolating viable SARS-CoV-2 from respiratory aerosol samples remains challenging, and whether this can be more easily accomplished for emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants is an important enquiry for future studies.

    Talking and singing … you mean like in churches and schools? If only there were a national level public health agency that would combine science and the precautionary principle into recommended practices.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > If only there were a national level public health agency that would combine science and the precautionary principle into recommended practices.

      While the political class shouts and sings in chorus, the quiet introverts go their own way in safety….

      Reply
  6. IM Doc

    To Lambert and Yves and all commenters here –

    Sorry to have another update in just one day – but I think this is so illustrative of what is going on right now that I feel compelled to share.

    I did not feel well when I got home from work last night. As the night wore on, I began to have a very severe cough, very loud wheezing (I do not wheeze), a mild headache, and a fever of 101. I knew exactly what was going on. As soon as I could, I called work to tell them I was not going in and headed right to medical care to be checked – and indeed I am now positive for COVID. I was fully vaccinated in mid April.

    To me, this day was not and if but when. From the very first day in my internship in the big city in the middle of the AIDS pandemic – one of the leading internists in the country told my class – “We do not run from pandemics, we run into them.” My office of fully vaccinated staff has already had one wave of COVID go through about a month ago that somehow I missed – my time was up last night.

    I am in great physical shape for my age – very healthy – and am already feeling much better today – I am going to be fine. But what has happened in the interim since this AM – has been eye-opening.

    I was actually called by a health department phone operator within an hour or two of my diagnosis. They then put another administrative person on the line who informed me that I was vaccinated – and therefore no quarantine was necessary. I told them right away that was ridiculous – and I would be staying at home for now. Within 30 minutes, someone from the state health department contacted me – and I will be brief – informed me that it was very reckless for me as a physician to be talking about quarantine of myself a vaccinated person – the CDC has told us this is not necessary – you cannot spread the virus – doing this would potentially discourage others from vaccination – It may cost lives – My response – “so having me, a positive COVID patient, hang out in exam rooms or the grocery store with obese diabetic cancer patients is not going to cost lives? Please if you think I am being reckless – report me to the Medical Board – I will happily discuss this with my peers.”

    These are the kinds of things that occur with pathologic lying. People actually begin to believe the accumulated lies are truth. All rational thought is completely clouded. I will state for the record – that neither person who spoke to me today was an MD DO RN or MPH. All administrative. I truly believe that most health care workers are beginning to wake up. I think a real genuine health worker would have rotted in hell before making such statements.

    I called one of my old students/residents right after this call. He is currently the head of the Internal Medicine Dept at one of our big universities in Blue America. I was informed that out of the 20 or so faculty members in his division – all 100% vaccinated – 7 of them had become ill with COVID in the past few weeks. We kind of laughed nervously about the 95% number for relative risk reduction – and how we as a profession were about to learn that misrepresenting numbers like this to the public was a very bad idea. Then some profound statements from him ——

    “I have been dealing with this nightmare called evidence-based medicine for years. Students and residents both now tell me that only peer-reviewed RCT are what they should be looking at – nothing else matters. They would not know the difference between a relative risk reduction and an incidence if they had to – they do not even bother to look at anything but an RCT – therefore they know nothing of medical statistics. This has been on full display for the world to see the past 18 months. Just look at any Twitter feed. We have a lot of work to do.”

    And I, IM Doc, have several times discussed the human theater, the “stupid human tricks” of putting your vaccination photos on Facebook or TV as a motivator. And then spend days talking about the bad reaction you had to your vaccine – “I got really sick – Hallelujah – I know it has activated my immune system”. I got so so tired of that chestnut – but it was all over the Internet for months. Any vaccinologist, immunologist – etc – would tell you that was just horse shit. And now you know why that was a very very bad unprofessional thing to be doing. It literally motivates no one, and now there is going to be lots of explaining going on.

    My old student today – “Actually the Facebook vaccination meme was the second worst thing. The absolute worst was the whole health care TikTok Video dancing – often done in ERs where there were lines of sick people waiting. It made me want to punch the wall. But now all these kids that put their Facebook vaccination photos online and bragged about it – are going to get to explain to all their patients and friends how they still got COVID after the vaccines – we have quite a few housestaff and students fully vaccinated becoming positive – not just the faculty.”

    “Young Grasshopper – pride goeth before a fall”. There are those of us who have been warning that all was not well with our entire approach for months – and were laughed and scoffed out of the room. We as a profession are going to have a lot to answer for.”

    All that is from my old student – now a leader in academic medicine – I am so so relieved – people are starting to wake up.

    The take home message from where we are today –
    These vaccines are non-sterilizing. That means they may limit or eliminate symptoms – but they do nothing for the spread. There are probably all kinds of vaccinated patients harboring active infections at this very minute and they have no clue – the vaccine is making them not sick. But they are sharing it with all around them. Many if not most of them taking no measures because the CDC told them they did not have to – YOU ARE VACCINATED. The good news for today is that the symptoms, hospital, and death all seem to be low. The bad news is all of these harboring the virus are further playgrounds for the virus to mutate. And when you allow it to become more and more widespread – the more likely a really bad mutant will come to the fore. That is THE danger of non-sterilizing vaccines being used for a virus that is profoundly capable of mutating.

    My advice today – DO NOT PLAY INTO THE DIVISIVE UNVACCINATED/VACCINATED GAME – at this point and in the near future – it is going to become increasingly obvious this is just not a hill to die on. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF and YOUR FAMILY. Find and identify any elders in your community that may need help. Plenty of sleep – plenty of sunshine – lose weight, exercise, eat well – vitamin D 2000 daily. AND SMILE. It does wonders.

    God bless us all.

    Reply
    1. flora

      Very best wishes for your speedy recovery.

      What you were told in the phone calls from your local health department leaves me at a loss for words. It doesn’t make any kind of sense.

      Reply
      1. Isotope_C14

        Well said flora, and agree wholeheartedly.

        I wish this was all 2019 but I suspect we all do.

        IM Doc, I have 3 weeks to quit my job with no penalty, and can afford a tiny house or a van to live in. I have a mess of PCR equipment near Chicago.

        Send me the word should you want an NC commune to show up on your front door, although I think I want to be closer to Amfortas :)

        Reply
      2. ChiGal in Carolina

        And I couldn’t believe my eyes when today I checked the CDC covid data tracker for US counties and discovered that they have reformatted it to ELIMINATE the stats on how many people in each age group have been FULLY vaccinated within the county. All that is listed now is how many have had at least one vaccination. I cannot come up with any reason for this change* other than to camouflage the reality of how few are vaccinated as we are told that vaccination is the holy grail and no other measures (masks, quarantining) are necessary. Johns Hopkins cites the FULLY vaccinated in its daily update.

        IM Doc, glad you are already feeling better and thanks for shedding light on the extent of the obfuscation and misdirection from public health USA USA.

        *If anyone can correct me I would be glad to be wrong, but I have this page bookmarked and have been checking it several times a week–it looks quite different now.

        Reply
        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > And I couldn’t believe my eyes when today I checked the CDC covid data tracker for US counties and discovered that they have reformatted it to ELIMINATE the stats on how many people in each age group have been FULLY vaccinated within the county. All that is listed now is how many have had at least one vaccination. I cannot come up with any reason for this change* other than to camouflage the reality of how few are vaccinated as we are told that vaccination is the holy grail and no other measures (masks, quarantining) are necessary. Johns Hopkins cites the FULLY vaccinated in its daily update.

          Yikes. Can you give the link for this?

          Reply
      3. Tom Stone

        The position of the Health Department administrators that the Vaccinated do not need to quarantine if they test positive is entirely consistent with the personality of bureaucratic authoritarians.
        Anything that threatens or questions established authority is seen as being wrong, even evil.
        Truth and falsity do not matter, conforming does..

        Reply
        1. enoughisenough

          Do we know if there is a reliable sterilizing vaccine, or one being developed that we can use at some point?

          Reply
          1. johnnyme

            The best hopes for sterilizing vaccines appear to be the intranasal ones currently in development. In addition to the one being developed at the University of Iowa reported by Anonymous yesterday, there’s another potential vaccine being developed in Finland which is sadly having trouble securing funding:

            A COVID-19 nasal spray vaccine developed by Rokote Laboratories Finland Ltd., is preparing for Phase I trials in Finland…if it can win funding. The vaccine has the potential to help ensure vaccine self-sufficiency for Finland and Europe, as well as an alternative to jabs.

            Dubbed “the Linux vaccine” by company co-founder Kalle Saksela, professor of virology at the University of Helsinki, its greatest hurdle is its open-sourced, unpatented origins. Like the Linux computer operating system that also was developed at the University of Helsinki (by Linus Torvalds), this vaccine technology is freely available to all. Pharmaceutical companies, so far, see little incentive to invest or partner.

            Rokote’s management team is looking to other sources. Currently, Rokote is negotiating with the Academy of Finland for additional funding to begin Phase I trials. At least €8 million is needed to prepare applications for regulators and conduct clinical trials. Then, another €50 to €60 million will be needed for a final, large-scale clinical trial involving tens of thousands of people. As yet, the company has raised only a few million euros in private funding.

            Reply
            1. Polar Socialist

              Rokote Laboratories finally got €9 million two weeks ago. Government wanted to fund them right away, but Finland being in EU there are regulations regarding that – can’t intervene on the markets.

              What was needed was for a couple of research and culture funds to step up and cover the private sector part of funding so government finally could step in.

              They can now proceed with phase I and II, hopefully within this year. They also need permission from EMA, which really has been dragging it’s collective feet lately.

              Reply
      4. Lambert Strether Post author

        > It doesn’t make any kind of sense.

        It does if you believe that the public health establishment and the Administration are trying to maximize vaccination at all costs (or, as they would say in the Civil War (“at all hazards”), one of the costs being truth about the capabilities of the vaccines.

        I am sure the elite decision-makers are telling themselves this was a “hard choice” born of necessity, and justified (or will be justified) by outcomes, but (a) the Noble Lies began at the very beginning, and (b) the outcomes (48.6% of the US population fully vaccinated) are not that great. Both the failure of truth-telling and the poor outcomes are the result of treating vaccination as a matter of “medical freedom” (only you matter), as opposed to “public health” (personal risks for collective safety, even if the collective extends only as far as your family). Both parties do this — that’s why the Biden administration discarded masking as a non-pharmaceutical intervention as quickly as they could. The PMC needs a house-cleaning, but I’m damned if I know how it’s going to happen.

        Reply
        1. PlutoniumKun

          A few months ago, following an excellent recommendation from another NCer, I listed to the Hard Core History podcast on the Pacific War. One of the fascinating aspects of Japans 1930’s imperial policy was that they kept seeking expansion, even when it must have been horribly obvious to them that they’d bitten off more than they could chew. The policy of picking a war with almost everyone could only ever had one outcome, but for several years they seem to have become addicted to the notion that ‘one more advance’ and they could solve their problems, when really they needed to tactically retreat and rethink everything. This isn’t just hindsight, it was apparent to many people at the time.

          Lots of people attribute this to something unique about Japan (in particular, its hive mind culture at the highest level) – but there are no shortage of similar examples in other countries. But the thing about Japan is that, as someone once observed – the Japanese are like everyone else, just more so.

          This is a long winded way of saying that the entire western public health and political establishment seems to me to be behaving like the hive mind of the Japanese Imperial Government. At some deep level, they know they are wrong and that they are on the wrong course. But for anyone, at high or low level, to admit this, would be personally catastrophic. So instead of backtracking, or even taking some sideways steps, they keep doubling down on the failed strategy, ignoring the sunk cost fallacy (not to mention scientific evidence) in the hope that something will turn up. You can see this all the time on Twitter where those few scientists (such as Trish Greenhalgh) who have been consistently proven right are belittled or ignored, even when they have a far better track record in their predictions that those who have the ear of the establishement. For that matter, its very rare to see anyone of prominence say ‘The Chinese got things right, we got it wrong’, even when its blatently true that this is the case.

          I don’t doubt that at some level there is an active policy of maintaining course and casting blame on someone else if and when it blows up in everyones faces. Nobody will ever admit that a vaccine only policy was wrong, what we’ll see are various iterations of the policy (i.e. more of it), until either the virus naturally runs out of steam (we hope), or we reach our nuclear bomb motion, and someone is going to have to do an Emperor Hirohito speech ‘things haven’t gone quite to our advantage….’.

          Reply
          1. vlade

            ‘one thing that you might think would count, but which in fact is given no attention whatever, (in securing promotion to positions of influence) is whether your advice has been any good’.

            David Hendersen cca 1970 in a series of lectures to BBC

            Reply
    2. albrt

      Thanks Doc, I hope you feel better.

      I have started wearing my N-95 masks in public again. When people ask me if I’m really that afraid of getting the virus, I usually say no, it’s more of a protest at how badly the ongoing pandemic is being mismanaged. I really can’t see any difference between Trump’s approach and Biden’s.

      Two weeks ago I was just about the only person wearing a mask most places, but I’m seeing more and more.

      Reply
    3. Pelham

      Glad to hear you’re feeling better! In addition to your work, obviously, your postings here are essential, indispensable. Please continue to keep us up to date.

      Reply
    4. DJG, Reality Czar

      All the best to you. Keep all of us posted as you maintain your quarantine.

      I also take a low dose of zinc each day in the form of an elderberry gummy. Yes, it is silly, an adult gummy, but my doc has recommended vitamin D and zinc.

      Reply
    5. antidlc

      ” There are probably all kinds of vaccinated patients harboring active infections at this very minute and they have no clue – the vaccine is making them not sick. But they are sharing it with all around them. Many if not most of them taking no measures because the CDC told them they did not have to – YOU ARE VACCINATED.”

      Six of the Texas Democrats have now tested positive.

      I cringed every time I saw photos like this:
      https://nypost.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2021/07/harris-texas-dems.jpg?quality=90&strip=all&w=1280

      Caption: Vice President Kamala Harris meets with Democratic members of the Texas state legislature

      Wishing and your family all the best, IM Doc.

      Reply
    6. drumlin woodchuckles

      I think I remember reading sometime in the past here that what it is that you got was the set-of-two Moderna mRNA neo-vaccinoid injections. And that’s what I got.

      I am hoping and expecting that the Moderna shots will have established a floor of physical sickness below which you cannot fall lower than, and above which you eventually climb back up from.

      Reply
    7. petal

      IM Doc, I hope you feel better soon! Because of you I bought a bottle of vit d (2000) yesterday and started taking it, and started wearing my N95 again. The other week when the mask requirement was dropped at work(this was asked for by our dept chair, a virologist no less who was very rah rah vaccines will solve everything), I warned my lab members that even though they’re vaccinated they can still get and spread the disease, and they have now all gone back to wearing masks-it was gradual but mission accomplished. They all did it again today so it’s not some kind of fluke. Very grateful for all of your posts! You make a positive difference.

      Reply
      1. Lou Anton

        Good work petal! Have a team outing of my own next week where I plan to carefully broach the idea of re-masking.

        Reply
        1. petal

          Good luck, Lou! Between explaining that they can still get it and transmit it, I also like the idea of leading by example. Sometimes it works, and maybe people won’t feel as intimidated about going against the grain if someone else is doing it, too.

          Reply
    8. Katiebird

      I am so sorry, IM Doc!! And the nerve of administrative clerks lecturing you about your responsibility as a COVID patient to go out and spread the joy — that’s amazingly stupid.

      Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and knowledge during this COVID experience.

      My husband and I recently had our semi-annual meeting with our doc (to get refills of prescriptions) and both nurse and doctor expected that since we were all vaxxed we would remove our masks. We declined and explained that we wear our masks when indoors and not at home. They kept theirs on too with us.

      But I guess doctors all over must be conducting exams maskless.

      Reply
    9. Dr. John Carpenter

      Wishing you all the best. I’ve stayed out of the COVID discussion here but I always read your posts and learn from them. Your views are appreciated.

      Ps IM not ADOC. ;)

      Reply
    10. Jason Boxman

      I wish you a speedy recovery! Thanks for all you do!

      This whole debacle is so other-worldly, it’s difficult to even imagine. But then this is the political Establishment that brought up WMD, “foam the runway”, Russiagate, and Stop the Steal, so what did I expect?

      That we’re squandering vaccines as a useful tool as part of a possible and necessary national elimination strategy that we aren’t and will never pursue is astoundingly sad. And as the virus mutates, and mutates it has and will, we’re losing a valuable tool. But as a society, maybe we were never up for the necessary defense in depth strategy required here: Travel limitations and quarantines, universal masking, retrofitting ventilation systems, production and free distribution of PPE, particularly to at-risk workers everywhere, funding for those quarantining and that are recovering from vaccination, robust exploration of treatment options, and whatever other social support might be necessary for containment and elimination.

      But no dice.

      So as you say, do what you can to keep yourself and those around you safe. Not sure what else there is at this point. N95s seem to be readily available, and I bought some yesterday and will probably wear everywhere in-doors when I rarely go out for groceries, at this late a date.

      And to think, having failed at containment and elimination, this is truly only the *first* wave in the US, by my reckoning.

      Reply
      1. VietnamVet

        This pandemic is an overwhelming tragedy. With astonishing hubris and lack of concern for others, the ruling class purposefully gambled to make billions of dollars on new untested gene therapies that had never been successful and jabbed half of all Americans with mRNA. But had no plan B. The vaccines are failing to control the coronavirus pandemic. The number of cases due to the Delta Variant is rising in highly vaccinated nations.

        This is where we are today, staring down the abyss. The only hope is that front line healthcare workers will find treatments that work, the virus adapts to humans, the number of deaths does not spike significantly, and that long-COVID is not debilitating. The alternative, a working national public health system, is impossible in the current western corporate state. The responses to the pandemic from both Republican and Democrat Administrations are identical.

        Reply
      2. Brian Beijer

        But as a society, maybe we were never up for the necessary defense in depth strategy required here: Travel limitations and quarantines, universal masking, retrofitting ventilation systems, production and free distribution of PPE, particularly to at-risk workers everywhere, funding for those quarantining and that are recovering from vaccination, robust exploration of treatment options, and whatever other social support might be necessary for containment and elimination.

        Yes, this is exactly what was needed and never even put on the table. During the past 1 1/2 years, I’ve often thought that this pandemic is a comparatively “easy” test to see how modern society will cope with the even greater challenges from climate catastrophy coming in the near future (as in maybe tomorrow).
        It is obvious to me now that we will totally and utterly fail.

        Reply
    11. Jeremy Grimm

      Thank you for your update. I will forward a copy of your comment to my daughter in Brooklyn. She has had her two vacs and they started dropping masks at the shop where she works, a few weeks ago. I wish you a quick recovery. I trust you are in very good hands.

      Reply
    12. Andrew Watts

      Good luck on your recovery. Hopefully your state’s health department backs off after their attempted scolding failed and won’t escalate further.

      Why do we let people with no clinical experience run these parts of government?

      Reply
      1. Elizabeth

        IM Doc – please take care of yourself and get well soon. Your posts are invaluable and I and others have learned so much from you. It’s amazing that our screwed up “public health” people are still saying – this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. Thank you for reporting from the trenches.

        Reply
    13. crittermom

      IM Doc, please don’t ever apologize for posting!
      As should be evident, your input is always welcome, and very much appreciated.

      I doubt I’m alone in feeling this, but I may be the first to say it: I wish you were my Doc.
      I think your patients are very, very fortunate to have you as theirs.

      THANK YOU for sharing your knowledge, as well as common sense (so rare these days), with those of us who are not your patients.

      I continue to mask and social distance, and plan to for however long it takes before I feel it’s no longer necessary. No matter what the CDC says. I trust my gut feelings over government guidance, whose main objective I now see as fueling the money machine in accordance with the TPTB.

      I was horrified as mask mandates were lifted. Especially as I continue to see tourists flood into this popular state (Colorado, or as another commenter so aptly renamed it, Crowdorado), from so many others, in addition to large gatherings for concerts, rodeos, etc.

      I’m glad you’re already feeling better, and hope each coming day brings improvement.

      I remain very grateful you choose to be among the NC community.

      Reply
      1. Utah

        Here here in wishing IM Doc was my doc. Or could just come retrain my doc, lol.

        Feel better Doc! Happy to hear you’re not feeling too ill, and still have the strength to argue with the system about quarantining! You’re doing God’s work.

        Reply
    14. ChrisPacific

      Sorry to hear that. All the best for your recovery. One of my online friends is a doctor in the health system in Indonesia, and knows a thing or two about running into pandemics. They are losing several doctors a day there despite very high vaccination rates among healthcare workers (Sinovac, but my friend is not optimistic that the other vaccines would be any better).

      The stories about people getting Covid despite being fully and recently vaccinated are making it into the media now and becoming more and more frequent as they happen to high profile people. I’m willing to bet nearly every case at the Olympics will be a breakthrough case. As you say, the fiction is going to collapse at some point and CDC credibility will have taken a further hit.

      I am worried that if countries like the US and UK give up on control and just accept the idea of the virus being ubiquitous in the community, relying on the vaccines to reduce casualties to a level that can be treated as a new normal part of life (something the US especially is quite capable of doing, even for conditions with very high death rates) then elimination countries like New Zealand will need to either adopt the same strategy or face making the current border and travel restrictions essentially permanent. I am already seeing discussions of a bifurcated future world, with elimination countries linked by ‘green corridors’ and the rest of the world a collective hot zone. With so much economic and military power concentrated in the ‘hot’ countries, I don’t see this being particularly tenable in the long term. (For a start, it would throw us in with China and separate us from the US, UK and Europe, which is culturally and geopolitically problematic). Bluntly, if the US insists that other countries join its Covid death cult as a condition of economic and political relations, the rest of the world may eventually have no choice but to accept.

      Reply
    15. grayslady

      IM Doc, please stay well and stay isolated. I was fully vaccinated with Pfizer in late April and I’ve never stopped wearing my mask when inside. Yesterday I had to go into the hospital for an unexpected procedure and I was required to have a clean covid test 48-72 hours in advance. I had to wear a mask at all times within the hospital. My pulmonologist, who has been on the front lines during the pandemic, just recently scoffed at the idea that we are anywhere close to being through with covid. The medical people, and many of the rest of us are fully aware of the dangers just now from false vaccine euphoria, so your thinking is widely shared, if not always vocalized, by others.

      Reply
    16. The Rev Kev

      Get well soon, doc. People like you are desperately needed to pick up the pieces afterwards from your descriptions of the present system. People of character are always needed.

      Reply
    17. Pat

      Thank you not just for your commentary, but for the honesty and integrity you let us see in that commentary. It resonates so deeply in many of us because it is so rare.
      Please take care of yourself even as by quarantining you continue to care for others.

      Thank you and God Bless.

      Reply
    18. Lambert Strether Post author

      > All administrative

      Exactly the layer that should be gutted in universities as well. Both in health care and in the universities, the administrators are in charge of managing complex eligibility requirements that should not exist.

      Reply
    19. Lambert Strether Post author

      > These vaccines are non-sterilizing. That means they may limit or eliminate symptoms – but they do nothing for the spread. There are probably all kinds of vaccinated patients harboring active infections at this very minute and they have no clue – the vaccine is making them not sick. But they are sharing it with all around them. Many if not most of them taking no measures because the CDC told them they did not have to – YOU ARE VACCINATED. The good news for today is that the symptoms, hospital, and death all seem to be low. The bad news is all of these harboring the virus are further playgrounds for the virus to mutate. And when you allow it to become more and more widespread – the more likely a really bad mutant will come to the fore. That is THE danger of non-sterilizing vaccines being used for a virus that is profoundly capable of mutating.

      Walensky should print this out and stick it up on her refrigerator. I hope your recovery is swift and complete.

      Reply
      1. Verifyfirst

        Walensky should be prosecuted for murder.

        P.S.–I heard a brief blip of Fauci at his hearing yesterday–brief as in how long it took me to reach the car radio to turn it off–he was talking about the “hither to unheard of transmissibility of the Delta variant” (paraphrase). So there is your answer as to the next stage of PMC explanations–“who could a knowed”. Same as every time in recent memory.

        The best advice on Covid came from Lambert–“if you have a system (that has kept you safe), stick to it” (paraphrase)

        Reply
    20. Ahimsa

      Get well soon, Doc!

      ======

      Israel has reported Vax Efficacy 64% against infection/symptomatic disease
      (~x3 less likely)

      93% effective against hospitalisation/serious illness
      (~x7 less likely)

      Perhaps the biggest question remaining: What is Vax Efficacy against Long-Covid ???

      Reply
  7. Cuibono

    “Google Maps Could Be Offering “Potentially Fatal” Hiking Routes for Ben Nevis”
    My wife can attest to my own foolish mistake of taking Google Maps route on a hike in Japan that could have gotten us killed. It was not even close the actual trail and involved some sheers cliffs instead of a leisurely stroll up. I am glad to be alive to never hear the end of that one.

    Reply
  8. Carolinian

    Re NPR–I haven’t listened in years and I even have a newer car with great radio, er, “head unit” reception.

    However I do regularly follow PBS and it’s much the same for all its public affairs shows. There was a time when public broadcasting really was public but since Reagan their singular focus seems to be pleasing the corporate and individual pledge funders. And they clearly believe this is what those funders want. The funders are the target audience just as the advertisers are in newspapers.

    Final observation: getting rid of Bob Edwards was a big mistake. You can’t forgive some things.

    Reply
      1. JBird4049

        It is hard to find new equivalents when they aren’t even allowed to find the door in. Just look at Bill Moyers. Decades ago he was respected and sought after. Today, he is toxic news.

        People like Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, and even the still alive Dan Rather would be person non grata, if they were trying to start a career today.

        Reply
    1. Judith

      Scott Simon, who at one time said he was a Quaker, vehemently supporting the Iraq War. And I assumed Liane Hansen was CIA.

      Reply
    2. Oh

      If I wanted to listen to propaganda, I would watch Fox News or MSNBC. Why watch PBS that supplies the same biased BS?

      Reply
  9. fresno dan

    “Modern Porn Education Is Totally Unprepared for Modern Porn” [The Atlantic]. “It’s not a Playboy magazine anymore,” [Justine Ang Fonte, the Dalton School’s then-director of health and wellness] said, citing familiar but no less crucial facts about the kind of explicit material available to kids today. ‘It’s bodies in motion—amplifying certain beauty standards that are harmful; amplifying lack of protection in certain cases, void of emotional intimacy; and, because race is a genre, amplifying racist sexual violence.’ Her goal, she said, is always to give teenagers the tools to ‘navigate their personal and social spaces through these three adjectives: Their world should be safe, should be fulfilling, should be pleasurable.”
    ==============================
    Also, I think an important and insightful adjunct to the above article comes from Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Porn
    But deep conceptual shifts within twentieth-century science have undermined this Cartesian-Newtonian metaphysics of pornography; revisionist studies in the history and philosophy of science have cast further doubt on its credibility; and, most recently, feminist and poststructuralist critiques have demystified the substantive content of mainstream Western scientific pornagraphy practice, revealing the ideology of domination concealed behind the façade of “objectivity”. It has thus become increasingly apparent that physical “pornographic reality”, no less than social “reality”, is at bottom a social and linguistic construct; that scientific “porno knowledge”, far from being objective, reflects and encodes the dominant ideologies and power relations of the culture that produced it; that the truth claims of pornography science are inherently theory-laden and self-referential; and consequently, that the discourse of the scientific porno community, for all its undeniable value, cannot assert a privileged epistemological status with respect to counter-hegemonic narratives emanating from dissident or marginalized pornographic communities. These themes can be traced, despite some differences of emphasis, in Aronowitz’s analysis of the cultural fabric that produced quantum porno mechanics; in Ross’ discussion of oppositional discourses in post-quantum porno science; in Irigaray’s and Hayles’ exegeses of gender encoding in fluid pornography mechanics; and in Harding’s comprehensive critique of the gender ideology underlying the natural porno sciences in general and porno physics in particular.

    Reply
    1. PHLDenizen

      Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Porn

      Sounds like a machine learning model wrote it as some kind of thesis project in collaboration with the Department of Intersectionality.

      Aren’t kids today having less sex with other people and more sex with themselves?

      My girlfriend’s young adult daughters have informed me that their particular cohort is much more cavalier about birth control due to things like HIV not being a death sentence anymore. Unless, of course, you have zero health insurance to cover things like PReP.

      There’s also a fatalism that comes with knowing you’re standing on the precipice of oblivion, which likely feeds into that. “We know the future is a place we have no place in, so who cares?”

      Reply
  10. Cuibono

    Breakthrough cases numbers ignores some major qualifications. I.e if the vaccine makes you less symptomatic, you are less likely to get tested. How much less likely? no one seems to know.

    Reply
    1. Keith

      Other factor is what is the incentive to get tested- taking a two week vacation from work without pay? That’s just ignoring the logistics of quarantining.

      Reply
    2. Skip Intro

      The CDC is officially recommending AGAINST testing the vaccinated. As I mentioned, they have learned one thing from gun violence, and that is how not to collect data you don’t want to know about.

      Reply
  11. begob

    From the Jacobin article on Jamaica: “Even liberal icons such as John Locke were defenders of the trade.”

    Locke didn’t just defend the slave trade; he promoted slavery itself by sliding from the proposition that the labourer’s produce is the property of his landlord or employer, to the proposition that the labourer is the property. There is no other way round it, and people who abide by universal rights have to stop labelling themselves as liberal.

    Reply
    1. JBird4049

      It is a conundrum, but writers like Thomas Paine are also a part of liberalism. Just as how the United States, with its Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights, was birthed as a slave nation, it still contained within the antithesis to slavery; this is what makes the white supremacists, if they are patriotic, or believe at all in the foundational documents, difficult. The Founders themselves were in a struggle, even conflict, over slavery, but only by allowing it were the disunited colonies able to become the United States.

      When the very sentence —“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” —-it becomes harder to justify slavery or other forms of oppression. Not impossible of course as greed of any kind gives strong incentives to create philosophical legerdemain (more often and honestly, bull manure and lies) justifying it.

      Classical liberalism gave us the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights with their implicit, if not outright explicit, support of universal rights. To renounce liberalism completely would be renouncing those documents as well as the concept of universal rights.

      Reply
  12. Durans

    Google Maps is so trash for everything. Three times in the past year I’ve had to go to a new doctor so I used google maps for directions. Every time google maps has been poor to just plain wrong. On one occasion it just took me to the front door of building 1 in a multi-building complex, it was up to me to figure out from there. Two times it was just plain wrong. In one case just a few weeks ago it took me two buildings over from the correct location. The other time it wasn’t even close, just so the devs a google know if they are reading this, 1100 does not sit between 100 and 130.

    Reply
    1. Oh

      They don’t care if it has errors. The main objective is to track your travelsand gather data. They use this along with the myriad (mis)applications they use on the internet and your phone to know who you are.
      F&%k Google.

      Reply
  13. Pat

    I can only talk peripherally about NYC’s commercial real estate state. I have some interest in the subject because of a part time job. I also ride/rode the bus through multiple neighborhoods of Manhattan. This is about street level commercial spaces, office space I have no clue about.

    The boom started disappearing before Covid lockdowns, the lockdowns have only made it worse. At one point I counted 10 empty retail spaces in the one block radius of 57th Street and Lexington Avenue at the end of 2019. Even so-called safe tenants were walking away, for instance I know of multiple bank and Starbucks closing locations at least that early. I also know of a few Duane Reade closures that started around then.

    In the neighborhoods I travel in Manhattan there appears to be some play in the mid-size spaces. The 20-30,000 square foot stores, with few exceptions appear to be remaining empty, same with the small spaces of 500 to 1000 square feet. Medium size spaces are the ones I see rented. People do appear to be opening restaurants and delis, so if you have the right size space for those you may be doing okay. Otherwise it appears that those wishing space are playing hardball with the landlords. Looking at the listings and remembering a year and a half to two years ago, it isn’t just a cut of 9% from 2019 that may be the average. Depending on size and location think up to 50% rent cuts. Some of this might be that hot neighborhoods aren’t as hot anymore, as the newer upscale tenants have moved out.

    Reply
  14. DJG, Reality Czar

    Peeps: I’m going out on a limb here, having seen this info above:

    “West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin — a key Democratic holdout over efforts to pass federal voting rights legislation — is expected to head to Texas on Friday for a fundraiser with a host committee that includes several wealthy Republican donors.” [Politico]

    Plus

    Meanwhile, in the Hillary Manchin wing of the party:

    Plus

    NYTimes:
    “The Congressional Black Caucus’s political action committee has endorsed Ms. Turner’s main rival, Shontel Brown, the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party chairwoman. So have Hillary Clinton and the highest-ranking Black member of the House, James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, who will be campaigning here this weekend for Ms. Brown. They argue that Ms. Brown is the better candidate, with a unifying message after four divisive years of Donald J. Trump.”

    Equals:

    And the unifying message is? What? Clap louder for Manchin?

    Quod Erat Demonstrandum
    I’m sure many correct-thinking people are already preparing their thumb-sucker essays, “Why the Democrats Lost the Midterms in 2022 + What Flavor of Gelato Is Nancy Pelosi Eating to Console Herself?”

    The Pizza Standard
    All in all, this is as obvious to me as the old DJG, Reality Czar, axiom: No, you can’t eat pizza with pineapple on it.

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      The Turner v. Brown contest would be a fine opportunity for the scattered remnants of the Sanderista community to rejoin eachother and put all their resources into supporting Turner and tearing Brown down. All the way down. And linking her to Clyburn, Clinton, and the rest. And covering them with the Burning Napalm of Truth so that we can begin the work of destroying their public reputation and presence in politics.

      If Brown can be destroyed and Turner made victorious, that winning group can then go to West Virginia and perhaps destroy Manchin’s further career in politics. Get Manchin deleted and replaced with a Republican Senator. Truth in Labelling in Politics.

      Also, what pharma company does Manchin’s daughter work for? A nationwide hate-based boycott should be organized against that company until Manchin’s daughter is removed from it or until it is exterminated from business existence. And if that works, it could become a “travelling boycott”, following Manchin’s daughter from company to company to company until her public life is destroyed and she is rendered unemployable for any mid-or-high-level post.

      That is the attitude which brings either victories or at least proud defeats, rather than disgusting collaboration with the Mainstream DemParty Enemy. As long as the Sanderistas fail to cultivate that hate-based fighting-to-win-and-destroy attitude, they will be despised as ” just another bunch of weepy liberals”.

      Reply
      1. dcblogger

        Bernie has been sending out fundraising emails for Turner. Bernie Twitterverse is mobilized for her. DSA has mobilized phone banking operations for her. I hope she wins.

        Reply
      2. Anonymous

        That is the attitude which brings either victories or at least proud defeats, rather than disgusting collaboration with the Mainstream DemParty Enemy. As long as the Sanderistas fail to cultivate that hate-based fighting-to-win-and-destroy attitude, they will be despised as ” just another bunch of weepy liberals”.

        I think Sanderistas are well pleased with latest shift in mainstream liberal discourse to “hate-based” fighting against republicans. At least for me Biden types are scoring points everytime they return fire across the aisle. After twice cheated primary nice to see them pointing guns in the right direction, and I have no bleeding heart to spare after four years of Cheeto Burito.

        Reply
  15. Left in Wisconsin

    The Stoller twitter thread on early 20th-century Progressivism is broadly consistent with what I know of the Wisconsin/LaFollette Progressives. It was primarily a movement against (corrupt) party politics and in favor of “good government,” especially by “scientific” experts. It was heavily religious, many were pro-prohibition, more than a few were supporters of race science. Very much a mixed bag though on balance, IMO, more good than bad (by the standards of the day). Their biggest push was for civil service to replace patronage in government and for government fact-finding as a basis for decision-making – one study commission after another. I’ve looked through a bunch of the material collected by the Wisconsin Industrial Commission that ran from 1911-14 mostly under the auspices of JR Commons and the amount of data is mindboggling – investigators went into a huge number of factories and got data on employment, wages, job descriptions, industrial process changes, layoffs and unemployment… much of which was the basis for Wisconsin’s early programs on unemployment and social security which ultimately served as national models.

    So Stoller is spot on – the Progressives of a century ago are very closely aligned with the (non-left) “progressives” of today: elitist, big believers in “social science,” not overly concerned with what the working/popular classes think, very much reformist, more than happy to tell other people how to live their lives, strong in the belief that they form the only reasonable alternative to big business domination, believers in the power of big data, etc.

    Two reasons I cut them a lot of slack: a) there is no point to socialist government is its not good government (competent, anti-corrupt), so I applaud efforts to improve government competence; b) they were big believers that the data would show that big business was the biggest problem in American society, that the data would show how f-o-s the laissez-faire, bootstraps, etc. stories were. You can see some differences between then and now: they would have been horrified by the agnatology/narrative control that so many progressives buy into today and the cooptation by (certain fractions of) big business.

    Reply
    1. Soredemos

      Stoller is an odd one. I think on some level he does firmly understand that there is a difference between liberal and left, because he absolutely refuses to have any truck with the Marxist/socialist left. I once saw him ranting on Twitter to the effect that ‘this destructive ideology has killed 100 million people’. It was straight Black Book of Communism type stuff. Stoller seems to want to be the heir to (what he imagines to be) an entirely homegrown American tradition with zero input from a vast body of political and economic thought that he has presupposed to be literally evil. He’s a very stark case of someone who has self-imposed his own Overton window, intellectual boundaries he refuses to go beyond. His ideal vision doesn’t seem to go beyond a ‘good’ version of capitalism, with meaningful social programs and government regulation (especially trust busting).

      And never get him talking about China, where he just sounds like any random neocon.

      Reply
        1. hunkerdown

          As someone who does not subscribe to Whig history, I nonetheless credit Marx for coughing up a huge and fairly well-argued intellectual challenge to bourgeois power, in the form of a new anthropology that dispenses with elite idealistic bullshit and concentrates on material things, which are important. Debs’ places and times would have gone differently without that intellectual support.

          The problem is mostly with Marxists, among which Marx famously demurred to count himself, having split into a millenarian religious movement and a PMC vanguard after Marx went to the ghosts, both groups of zealots with which Americans have had ample historical and current experience and would much rather not. IMO, the mutual ruin of the classes would be better than allowing the PMC to prevail.

          Reply
        2. Soredemos

          Without Marx Debs never becomes more than a minor trade unionist, because he never reads Capital while in jail. He was also a supporter of the Bolshevik revolution.

          Marxism is not the same thing as Marxism-Leninism. As for Goldman, her criticism was largely with the elitism and antidemocrat bent of the Bolsheviks, and how things degenerated into bureaucracy. She agreed with much of Marx’s critique of capitalism.

          I’ll also add (and I say this while quite liking Goldman) that I’d be more inclined to listen to anarchists if they could demonstrate, anywhere, ever, that their ideas don’t immediately collapse. I can sort of see the logic behind a lot of political philosophies, even when I disagree with them, but when I read an anarchist tome like The Conquest of Bread my only response is “okay, but dude, how is any of this supposed to work in practice?”.

          Reply
  16. Pat

    Just an anecdote item regarding Covid. As most know London has a problem. Now what worries me is that the US problem is growing and with our laissez faire attitude towards travel I fully expect NYC to be on the ropes soon.

    One of the things that stood out to me is that several West End shows have had to shut down while cast/crew quarantine because of breakthrough infections. It was announced today/yesterday that Kenneth Branagh’s show was going to close entirely. After over a year of being shut down Broadway is just beginning to reopen. Shows are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to get everything back to where it was. Depending on the testing protocols, is this their future? Considering that as far as our American public health structure vaccination means ‘freedom’ will there even be testing protocols? And will we even require quarantining after exposure? Instead of shows where there is a breakout of Covid closing will it even be acknowledged? (And after so-called public unions went along with forcing their retirees into medicare advantage programs, where will the entertainment unions go? The League has lost billions, and there probably won’t be insurance, will they balk?)
    I recognize that this is all first world problems in this, but I also think this is indicative of other opening issues, try any venue that caters to large public gatherings. Where will public health concerns fall in the need to avoid bankruptcy?

    Reply
    1. DJG, Reality Czar

      Pat: Ironic that you should mention this. I follow some playwrights and performers on FBk, and I’m part of some playwrights’ lists (and a major organization) and a big playwrights’ e-blast about where to submit plays.

      A playwright who I have some respect for went into complete irrationality a couple of days ago. He’s going on about how it’s all the fault of the unvaccinated, that people should be forced to get vaccinated, that the theaters can require proof of vaccination…

      A few other over-eager playwrights (the loud playwright recently opened and had a run of a one-person show off-Broadway) seem to follow the same ideas. So we’re seeing economics and ambitions at play. All couched in “But the CDC Sez.”

      The fact is, for the last eighteen months, the theaters have had to be closed. Playwrights and actors could have been leaders in telling people the many wonderful reasons for wearing a mask. (I like the disguise. I like Arlecchino. I like scaring people.)

      They didn’t. Too many sat at home in a stew. Some have started drafting the inevitable Covid Play. Eeek. Who the hell is going to go see a Covid Play? (It took years for Tony Kushner to get the great AIDS play to emerge–Angels in America.)

      So we’re all supposed to go to the theater for a revival of the King and I? Come on.

      [Meanwhile, calls for work by “BIPOC” playwrights serve as the flavor of the month, till, oh, “BIPOC” playwrights no longer are flavor of the month.]

      This isn’t a “first-world” concern. Theater is a remarkably effective, profoundly moving, artform. Surely, our colleagues in Bali who dance in public, put on shadow-puppet shows, or play the gamelan are wondering, too, how to proceed.

      Reply
      1. SES

        Well, those Balinese – and Javanese – dancers, puppeteers, and gamelan players will be ahead of their western counterparts in at least one way: they nearly always perform outdoors.

        Reply
  17. Mantid

    Regarding Covid. I’m so overwhelmed at the control that big: pharma; tech; science; media (etc.) has over the west (Europe and N. America) that I can’t respond or comment on IM Doc’s update and other NC reader’s comments. Their control and influence is so widespread it’s nearly incomprehensible. So many people have bought into the vaccinated/non vaccinated separation game. Such an obvious divide/conquer technique.
    I can’t say much besides Get Well Soon IM Doc.

    A family of mom and three high schoolers that I deal with got the Delta variant last week. They took Ivermectin 3 straight days and are well this week. Only an anecdote, but a truth. They are too low income to go to a doctor, so had to settle for horsey paste. What is this world coming to????

    Reply
  18. Wukchumni

    Hey, uh-huh-huh
    Hey, uh-huh-huh

    I’m vaccinated like you, thought i’d be alright
    Tell me I’m the only one
    Who will test positive tonight, yea

    Fauci whispering in my ear
    Tell me all the things that I wanna hear
    But it’s untrue (that’s what I dislike)
    That’s why i’m vaccinated like you (in theory whats not to like)

    Stick a needle in my arm, pour on the faux charm
    When you go on the telly & sprout aloud, make arguments not so sound
    Talk about things not so true, yea

    Keep on whispering in my ear
    Tell me all the things that I wanna hear
    But it’s untrue (that’s what I dislike about you)
    That’s what I dislike about you (that’s what I dislike about you)
    That’s what I dislike about you (that’s what I dislike about you)
    That’s what I dislike about you (that’s what I dislike)
    Woo hoo

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAsmbwI8XTI

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Hannah-Jones:

      I don’t know how you can be fair and accurate if you pretend publicly that you have no feelings about something that you clearly do.

      I didn’t know Howard had an open position in the Department of Feels, but that’s where we are.

      Reply
  19. tegnost

    Black voters remained overwhelmingly loyal to the Democratic Party, voting 92%-8% for Biden.”

    I’d like to point out that the “Black voter” demographic is the lowest on vaccine uptake……..kind of throws a monkey wrench in the “ani vaxxers are trumpsters” argument.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I’d like to point out that the “Black voter” demographic is the lowest on vaccine uptake……..kind of throws a monkey wrench in the “ani vaxxers are trumpsters” argument.

      I can’t even work up a “No True Scotsman” argument on that one. It does show the extremely high level of propaganda and the credulity of the liberal Democrat base.

      “Listen to Black women!” — except on the greatest public health issue, and perhaps the greatest public issue, of our lifetimes.

      Reply
    2. tennesseewaltzer

      Recently I was talking with several friends about the world in which we live nowadays, how divorced from what was considered robust public debate and respect for differing opinions. The conversation came around to this vaccination coercion campaign. In discussing why we were not taking any of the shots, one of the women, who is black, said that blacks are not lining up for the shots. When asked why, she responded with one word: Tuskegee.

      Reply
  20. a fax machine

    Thought of the day: America is unprepared for another lockdown and attempting a new one is probably for the worst. Some of this is the government’s fault, other large companies (ie employers, retailers) and some on people themselves but regardless society has proven incapable of dealing with such a serious, demanding task. Trying it again will result in total failure: companies will not comply en masse, or will divest & divert work to “free” locals especially if remote working remains. The economic and cultural damage wrought by most restaurants dying will cause massive fast food consolidation, and destroy many local communities’ tax bases leading to a death spiral as residents move to the “free” work areas. The end of the Eviction Moratorium would expedite this, but even if it was extended it would just ruin landlords’ profits and tip over the larger financial superstructure they own. There’s no winning on this without massive government intervention, to a social democratic level.

    This is not to say reasonable measures can’t happen, such as shutting down only air travel, bars and strip clubs. But it is my belief that most of society won’t tolerate this much longer unless another airline bailout and UBI occur. Even then people will just create new ad hoc bars in spite of the rules, knowing police won’t jail them as judges won’t order more people into prisons aka covid hotzones. Most Americans are Walmart (or lower) shoppers, not Target shoppers. The lower part of society that cannot afford Covid compliance will either die and disappear or not comply and become fully reactionary. Just in time for the ’22 midterms, and for shysters in ’24.

    Same for the rest of the world. In China prolonged factory shutdowns destroys their economic contract with US oligarchs, in the EU it destroys the indebted members. This creates the conditions for fascism. What’s missing is someone capable of holding it. That person was not Trump.

    One hopes that Biden has a plan to deal with this besides vaccines. If Covid’s destruction of the social contract is inevitable, Biden must expand that social contract or be crushed by those that do (note that even Hitler wanted to expand the Weimar social contract, although in a heinous way).

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Jeff Bezos’s flight into space

      I don’t think the effing thing even had a heat shield, so put beside NASA’s ’60s “Spam in a can” Mercury mission we’ve regressed. Except from the standard of propaganda, of course; that’s world class.

      Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        The definition of ‘sub-orbital’ is entirely arbitrary. It really just means ‘outside the lower atmosphere, but not high enough to be much use‘. Back in the 1990’s the Russians were marketing trips up to near space in Mig25’s and Mig 31’s. They get to about 25,000 metres up – about twice the service ceiling of a commercial jet, about the same as the SR-71. Concorde had a service ceiling of around 18,000 metres. The X-15 got to around 100,000 metres 60 years ago, pretty much the same as the New Shepard (and much more efficiently).

        Bezos flight reminds me a little of Howard Hughes and his little hop on the Spruce Goose. It was all for show. I’ll be impressed when he sends tourists into genuine orbit.

        The big question for me is what he is really up to with the New Shepard. Its not much use to anyone as it is, but clearly he has ambitions for the technology (which is pretty impressive).

        Reply

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