2:00PM Water Cooler 7/22/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Sounds like the person making the audio was walking on crunchy gravel!

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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:

Rising in the South, interestingly. Delta?* This after only 48.8% of the US population is fully vaccinated. (For those following at along at home, that’s not even a majority). 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.

* “After waiting, Steve Scalise gets COVID vaccine, calls it ‘safe and effective'” [Times-Picayune]. “Why did the No. 2 Republican in the House wait until now? ‘Especially with the delta variant becoming a lot more aggressive and seeing another spike, it was a good time to do it,” he said in an interview. ‘When you talk to people who run hospitals, in New Orleans or other states, 90% of people in hospital with delta variant have not been vaccinated. That’s another signal the vaccine works.'”

“Public health officials have tools to beat back Covid again. Does anyone want to use them?” [STAT]. “Before Covid-19 vaccines, public health officials fought off the pandemic with the only tools they had: mask-wearing, social distancing, school closures, and limits on the size of gatherings. Now, with cases surging again in much of the United States due to the highly transmissible Delta variant, those tools could still make a measurable difference at a critical moment — but not if the public is unwilling to use them. A year and a half after Covid restrictions were first implemented, people have had it with the pandemic. Other than highly effective vaccines, which haven’t been accepted by enough people to quash spread of the new SARS-CoV-2 variant, there are no new tools in the public health toolbox, and people have absolutely no interest in reusing the ones that it does contain. Those sentiments are, in effect, tying the hands of exhausted health officials.” • All the way back to the lousy messaging from public health officials, so-called. Meanwhile, Biden, like Fauci before him, tells Noble Lies about breakthrough.

Case count by United States regions:

The non-triumphalist black line of today’s new normal is a moves farther above the peak of the first wave, back in early 2020. (Note that these numbers are if anything understated, since the CDC does not collect breakthrough infections unless they involve hospitalization, and encourages health administrators in the states and localities not to collect the data either.) 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 was yesterday. I’m perfectly happy to call the beginning of a new wave (the fifth?), even if we don’t know how high it will go. So far, the country is dodging a bullet in terms of hospitalization and death ((no longer going down, but not spiking either). I don’t know why that is. (Long Covid is another matter.)

Gamma Variant Accounts For 4 Times More Illinois COVID-19 Cases Than Better Known Delta Variant CBS Chicago. Gamma = P.1.

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

California and Texas on the rise again.

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. But other regions now playing catch-up.

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

Capitol Seizure

“Pelosi vetoes Banks, Jordan for Jan. 6 select committee” [Politico] and “McCarthy yanks all GOP picks from Jan. 6 committee” [The Hill]. • Wheeeee!

“FBI agent at center of Whitmer kidnap probe assaulted wife after swingers’ party, authorities say” [The Detroit News]. • The FBI has form…

Biden Administration

“Biden says COVID-19 vaccines’ full FDA approval will likely come in fall” [Becker’s Hospital Review]. “COVID-19 vaccines will probably earn full FDA approval in the fall, President Joe Biden said during a July 22 CNN town hall in Cincinnati. ‘My expectation talking to the group of scientists we put together, over 20 of them plus others in the field, is that sometime maybe in the beginning of the school year, at the end of August, beginning of September, October, they’ll get a final approval,’ President Biden said. The COVID-19 vaccines currently being administered under FDA-granted emergency use authorizations are produced by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. In May, Pfizer applied for its vaccine’s full approval. Moderna did the same in June. During the town hall, President Biden also said he expected emergency use authorization for COVID-19 vaccines to be used in children under age 12 ‘soon, I believe.'”

“Essential Politics: Kamala Harris’ past comes back with a Supreme Court ruling” [Los Angeles Times]. The headline is deceptive; it’s an important case, but if the reporter is correct, Harris took little interest in it: “Several people familiar with the case said Harris did not have much of a direct role…. Harris’ name does not come up often in court documents. Nor did she issue news releases during the litigation…”

“Biden to Tap Former Hill Aide for Top Treasury Post Overseeing Financial Rules” [Wall Street Journal]. “President Biden plans to nominate Graham Steele as assistant Treasury secretary for financial institutions, a move that would put a long-time congressional staffer with ties to progressives at the center of efforts to refocus financial rules on issues such as climate change and racial equity. Mr. Steele, a former Democratic chief counsel on the Senate Banking Committee and aide to Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio), would oversee the Biden administration’s plans to tighten regulations on Wall Street firms. That could include heightened scrutiny of cryptocurrencies; open-end mutual funds and hedge funds and their roles in market turbulence last year; and the financial sector’s exposure to climate-change risks. Mr. Steele is the director of the Corporations and Society Initiative at Stanford Graduate School of Business, which seeks to “promote more accountable capitalism and governance,” according to its website. He previously served as a staffer at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, and also worked at Public Citizen, a progressive watchdog group, before joining Mr. Brown’s staff in 2010.”

“Jen Psaki to throw out first pitch at Nationals game” [The Hill]. “White House press secretary Jen Psaki will throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Washington Nationals’ game Sunday, the team announced.” • That we’re idolizing a press secretary…. West Wing brain.

Obama Legacy

“Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen Announce Co-Authored Book ‘Renegades: Born in the U.S.A.’” [Rolling Stone (jr)]. ” President Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen will release a joint book, Renegades: Born in the U.S.A., on October 26th globally via Higher Ground/Penguin Random House. The tome is described as “a collection of candid, intimate, and entertaining conversations,” which began in Spotify’s co-produced podcast of the same name. Published in an oversized, fully illustrated format, the book will also feature rare and exclusive photographs from the authors’ personal collections and never-before-seen archival material, including Springsteen’s handwritten lyrics and Obama’s annotated speeches.” • ”Suckers, liars get me a shovel.” –Public Enemy

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Sanders to campaign for Turner in Ohio” [The Hill]. “Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will campaign for Nina Turner in the final leg of Ohio’s special election in the 11th Congressional District. The Vermont senator will be in the Buckeye State on July 31, just days before the Aug. 3 Democratic primary. Turner’s campaign announced the news on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon. According to a Turner aide, Sanders will deliver a hybrid keynote address at a mobilization rally on behalf of the progressive House candidate and will finish off the day with a ‘march to the polls.'” • Obama, shark-like, circles below the surface….

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “17 July 2021 Initial Unemployment Claims Rolling Average Modestly Worsened” [Econintersect]. “Market expectations for weekly initial unemployment claims (from Econoday) were 320 K to 364 K (consensus 350 K), and the Department of Labor reported 419,000 new claims. The more important (because of the volatility in the weekly reported claims and seasonality errors in adjusting the data) 4 week moving average moved from 384,500 (reported last week as 382,500) to 385,250.”

Manufacturing: “United States Kansas Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Kansas City Fed’s Manufacturing Production Index jumped to a record high of 41 in July of 2021 from 30 in the previous month. The growth in manufacturing activity continued to be driven by increased activity at durable goods plants, especially primary and fabricated metals, computer and electronic products, transportation equipment, and furniture manufacturing.”

Coincident Indicators: “United States Chicago Fed National Activity Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Chicago Fed National Activity Index went down to 0.09 in June of 2021 from a downwardly revised 0.26 in May. Production-related indicators contributed +0.01, down from +0.26 in May.”

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Commodities: “Western Wildfires Are Hitting Lumber Prices:” [Wall Street Journal]. “Lumber prices finally cooled off. Now come the fires. Forest fires raging in the West are threatening an important swath of the U.S.’s wood supply, pinching output that has been under pressure since the Covid-19 pandemic touched off homebuying and remodeling booms and sent lumber prices soaring. Canfor Corp., one of North America’s largest lumber producers, said that starting Monday it would cut back output at its mills in British Columbia because of hundreds of blazes that have broken out in the Canadian province and challenged its ability to shuttle wood to and from its facilities. The company expects to reduce output at its 10 operating mills there by a total of about 115 million board feet during the quarter. That is only a sliver of North America’s overall supply. Yet analysts said they expected further curtailments because of fires that are scorching logging forests on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border.”

Shipping: “Containers continue to triumph” [Hellenic Shipping News]. “The ordering market for Containers is at historic highs. A total of 286 Containers were ordered in the first half of 2021. This is up an incredible 790% from H1 2020…. With the ever-firming rates across the Container sector, we have seen a surge in values. Increased US imports, port congestions and a shortage of capacity is pushing freight rates to record levels on key routes from China to the US and Europe. A secondary outbreak of Covid-19 in Southern China has prompted even more delays and congestion across ports which has tightened supply.”

Tech: “Investigation: How TikTok’s Algorithm Figures Out Your Deepest Desires” (video) [Wall Street Journal]. “A Wall Street Journal investigation found that TikTok only needs one important piece of information to figure out what you want: the amount of time you linger over a piece of content. Every second you hesitate or rewatch, the app is tracking you.”

Tech: “Bringing The Metaverse & NFTs Back To Earth” [The Integrating Investor]. “There are other Metaverses in development that utilize blockchain technology such as Decentraland (note that Fortnite does not). Decentraland is a virtual environment that runs on Ethereum. Unlike Fortnite, it has no game objective. Its purpose is purely economic. Users log on to “create, explore, and trade” in its self-contained, online space. A central characteristic is that parcels of virtual land can be owned and developed. Users have built galleries to sell digital art, casinos, games, and all kinds of structures for display. Decentraland uses NFTs to define and record land ownership rights (via its LAND token) and a native cryptocurrency (MANA) for commerce.” • Hmm.

Manufacturing: “ASML’s chip money machines” [Financial Times]. “The Dutch company ASML, which is the leading supplier of semi equipment, reported bumper second-quarter results on Wednesday and raised its guidance for revenue growth in 2021 to around 30 per cent, from ‘double digits.’ ‘You just read the papers, chip shortages everywhere,’ explained CEO Peter Wennink. Lex says profits have doubled in the past two years while total share returns trebled. The shortages won’t last for ever, but ASML expects to profit long-term from geopolitics, as the European Union and US seek to reduce their dependence on Asia by boosting their own chipmaking capabilities.”

Manufacturing: “California’s electric car revolution, designed to save the planet, also unleashes a toll on it” [Los Angeles Times]. “The sprint to supply automakers with heavy duty lithium batteries is propelled by climate-conscious countries like the United States that aspire to abandon gas-powered cars and SUVs. They are racing to secure the materials needed to go electric, and the Biden administration is under pressure to fast-track mammoth extraction projects that threaten to unleash their own environmental fallout. In far-flung patches of the ocean floor, at Native American ancestral sites, and on some of the most pristine federal lands, extraction and mining companies are branding themselves stewards of sustainability, warning the planet will suffer if digging and scraping are delayed. All the prospecting is giving pause to some of the environmental groups championing climate action, as they assess whether the sacrifice needed to curb warming is being shared fairly…. The debate over how much damage should be inflicted on the planet to save it may be most intense far out to sea. The Metals Company and others plan within three years to start vacuuming patches of the deep ocean floor for nodules that contain many of the metals that go into electric car batteries along with lithium. Many scientists say the timeline is dangerously irresponsible.”

The Economy: “Is the U.S. Economy Too Hot or Too Cold? Yes.” [New York Times]. “The Biden administration and the Federal Reserve are betting that they can achieve a smooth transition to an economy that enjoys prosperity without frustratingly high inflation. But for that to happen, a huge mismatch — between economywide demand for goods and services, and the supply of them — will need to be resolved. It’s not clear how long that will take. ‘I think we should have expected there to be frictions in getting the economy reopened after this unprecedented shock,’ said Karen Dynan, a Harvard economist and a former official at the Federal Reserve and Treasury. ‘We’ve seen serious frictions, and it’s totally reasonable to expect those frictions to continue.’ Consumer demand for goods, and increasingly services, is exceptionally high, as Americans spend their pent-up savings, government stimulus payments and higher wages. Retail sales were 20 percent higher last month than in June 2019. But businesses have had a harder time increasing production to fulfill that demand than forecasters were expecting in the spring. This has been particularly glaring in the case of cars, where a shortage of microchips has constrained production. But supply shortages are evident across all sorts of industries. The latest survey of manufacturers from the Institute for Supply Management cites complaints from makers of furniture, chemical products, machinery and electrical products about the difficulties of fulfilling demand.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 24 Extreme Fear (previous close: 25 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 29 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 22 at 12:30pm. Mr. Market still chewing his hands.

Rapture Ready

The Biosphere

“Ingenuity helicopter spies intriguing features on Mars during record-breaking flight” [CNN]. “During a recent daring Martian flight by the Ingenuity helicopter July 5, the chopper acted like an aerial scout for the Perseverance rover as it sailed over rough but intriguing terrain. Now, photos taken during the 2,051-foot-long flight are helping the Perseverance science team develop the rover’s exploration plan. This ninth flight by Ingenuity broke the helicopter’s records for flight duration, distance and cruising speed. Unlike any of the previous flights, Ingenuity dipped down into a crater, descended over undulating terrain and ascended before landing on a flat plain…. This capability is unprecedented. Previously, rover teams have had to rely on images taken by the rover’s cameras or photos from orbiters that are miles above the planet. Ingenuity is much closer, flying about 33 feet above the ground, and its cameras can capture much more detailed images.”

“Officials confirm Bootleg Fire caused by lightning” [KOBI]. “Fire officials confirmed today that the Bootleg Fire was caused by lightning…. It’s all evidence based – and with lightning, firefighters say that evidence is easy to find. ‘Lightning has a signature when it hits trees and stumps. Lightning often strike in one spot. We often get lightning storms so we can track those, correlate that with the weather data. Correlate that with other strikes in the area,’ explained Marcus Kauffman with ODF’s Incident Management Team at the Bootleg base camp.”

Health Care

“Why did we fail at COVID quarantines? Ask the L.A. writers who predicted it” [Los Angeles Times]. “[Nicola Twilley[: Things would have been better, but the simulations flagged those issues. There isn’t a strong civic culture anymore, and you can’t have public health without a public. People conflated liberty with the freedom to move around as they wished. We need to have a more sensible conversation about what we mean by freedom, but that’s a huge topic. And quarantine is very difficult to implement fairly in societies that are wildly unequal. So there are a lot of obstacles. [Geoff Manaugh]: So many Americans give their genetic information to 23andMe but would never do that with the government. Right now, with the political culture in the United States, if a corporation stepped in with its own private quarantine plans, a large portion of the population would trust that before they trust the state.”

“Why should vaccinated people wear masks? UCSF expert gives his take.” [SFGATE]. Dr. Bob Wachter. Seven reasons. This is a good summary. #6: “I see going maskless indoors as not only potentially putting myself at risk but also others – particularly immunosuppressed people, children, and those who have chosen no\t to be vaccinated.”

“Two Ways to Think About the New Mask Debate” [The Atlantic]. “So if you don’t live in L.A., should you keep donning a mask in Trader Joe’s? Or taking sips of a cocktail between mask-yanks at a house party? I asked four experts, and received … four different answers that depend on your personal risk tolerance, living situation, and geographic location. If you’re vaccinated, you’re justified in either masking or not masking indoors. Here’s how to decide.” • Ugh.

“The CDC Must Rethink Its Mask Guidance, Says Former U.S. Surgeon General” [NPR]. “With the highly contagious delta variant fueling a rise in COVID-19 cases, Dr. Jerome Adams — the surgeon general under former President Donald Trump who once advised against mask-wearing — now says even the vaccinated may need to mask up. Adams is part of a growing chorus of criticism of the CDC guidance, issued in May, that people who are fully vaccinated can resume activities indoors and outdoors without masks. The messaging, Adams told NPR’s Morning Edition, ‘has just absolutely, unequivocally failed.’ ‘More people than ever — vaccinated and unvaccinated — are going maskless,” he said. ‘It doesn’t seem to have convinced anyone to get vaccinated.’ Adams said the CDC needs to change guidance on masking requirements again in light of new virus outbreaks and the more contagious delta variant.” • Adams tweeted:

Hmm.

“Vegas workers will put masks back on, but tourists won’t have to under new rules” [NBC News]. “The Clark County Commission voted Tuesday in an emergency meeting to require face coverings for all employees working indoors and around co-workers or members of the public in an increase in Covid cases driven by a more transmissible variant and a slowing vaccination rate. The new rules do not apply to customers, and it is not a blanket return to masking, like the one recently imposed in the Los Angeles area. ‘We have already been through a shutdown and a start-up, and we cannot afford to have major conventions decide to go elsewhere,’ Commissioner Jim Gibson said.”

“Happify to release prescription app to treat depression under loosened FDA rules” [STAT]. “Leveraging Food and Drug Administration regulations loosened during the pandemic, Happify Health, which is best known for its consumer wellness app, will launch new prescription-only software to treat depression.” •

Games

“Netflix will face its biggest test yet when it breaks into gaming” [Yahoo News]. “But the $300 billion gaming industry poses huge challenges, even for well-funded tech giants. Amazon’s initiative suffered a massive setback when its title ‘Crucible’ was released in 2020 and then pulled back before being axed completely. Google, meanwhile, spun its own wheels with its game studio Stadia Games and Entertainment, before shuttering it less than two years after launching the venture. Even Apple (AAPL) has struggled to make its Apple Arcade service a certified hit out of the gate, with the company cancelling games, and changing directions to include classics like ‘Monument Valley’ to entice fans. ‘The concept, or the tagline ‘Netflix of games’ is infinitely simple, infinitely understandable and is a great concept,’ IDC research director Lewis Ward told Yahoo Finance. ‘The execution of that concept is much harder than it sounds because games are not .'”

“The Messy, Stalled Reckoning At An Assassin’s Creed Co-Developer” [Kotaku]. “While problems at Ubisoft Montreal, Toronto, Quebec, Montpelier, and the head Paris office have been widely documented, Ubisoft Singapore has gotten less attention. But based on interviews with over 20 current and former employees there, there was no shortage of issues, ranging from sexual harassment and racial pay disparities to bullying by managers. Most of the middle-management and staff are “absolutely lovely, talented people with the potential to make amazing games,” said one former developer. But bad projects, toxic leaders, and the feeling that developers weren’t empowered in the face of office politics could often sabotage that potential.”

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Former Tuskegee mayor nearly topples Confederate monument” [Alabama Political Reporter]. “The Confederacy lost another one. Wednesday afternoon, saying he simply couldn’t wait any longer on the city or county to act, former Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford, carrying a concrete saw, climbed in a bucket lift in the city’s town square and attempted to bring down a Confederate monument. He was successful in hacking through one ankle — leaving the statue on its last leg and potentially unsafe, possibly forcing its ultimate removal — before he was stopped by Macon County Sheriff Andre Brunson.” • Direct action brings satisfaction…

Groves of Academe

“The Master’s Trap” [Culture Study]. “A host of graduate programs implicitly or explicitly exploit student naïveté about what a graduate degree can or will provide. Their prospective students are diverse: a mix of first generation college students without mentors to guide them, high achievers enthralled by their perception of the academic lifestyle, international students desperate for a Green Card, students lacking the prestigious undergraduate degree or network needed to gain entry into exclusive creative industries, and students who believe that the degree they earn will be the career collateral they need to be successful. As cash flow centers for the institution and, on a smaller scale, for the department, these programs accept far more students than can be accommodated by PhD programs (in the humanities) or find gainful, long-term employment in their field of choice. There is often little meaningful or readily accessible data on the trajectories or salary levels or recent graduates; try Googling most grad programs and “average debt load” or ‘average salary’ and you’ll scroll for pages without an answer… Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal published a piece detailing the staggering amounts of loans undertaken by Master’s students at Columbia. The stats from the piece are stunning: at least 43% of those with student loans for elite master’s degrees hadn’t paid down their original debt or were behind on payments; Columbia MFA graduates borrowed a median $135,000 a year; the School of Social Work trumpeted an increase in their number of full-tuition awards from 2 to 12…..out of 560 students. But the quote that stuck with me was from Julie Kornfeld, Columbia’s vice provost for academic programs. In her words: master’s degrees ‘can and should be a revenue source.'” • Euthanize the administrators.

The Agony Column

“My completely uncontroversial take on what to call your professor” [WaPo]. “Pretending hierarchy does not exist does not erase it; it merely obscures it for the uninitiated. One advantage of formality is that it makes the rules of the game more explicit for those who might otherwise have difficulty parsing everything out — and, it should be noted, that confused category includes professors as well as students.”

“On Being Difficult” [In The Moment]. “Lauren Berlant was luminous, intimidating, uncannily perceptive, generous, incisive, devastating. Their years long investigations of everyday affect, their extensive collaborations, their fierce and capacious pedagogy, their creative vocabulary, had a decisive impact on overlapping worlds of scholarships, politics, and friendship.” • ”They” doesn’t work so well as a personal pronoun when you’ve got a name that sounds like a law firm.

Zeitgeist Watch

“Guest Post: What I’ve Learned the Past Decade (@pdxsag)” [Credit Bubble Stocks]. GenX midlife post. The whole thing is interesting, this especially: “The big demarcations in my life are college, birth of our first child, and the GFC. … Where I grew up in the rust belt no one cared about civic engagement. The social buzz was do as much as you can to build liquid wealth in the short-term so that you could retire and leave. ‘Winning’ was defined by how soon you could hit your number and leave. Growing up with that mindset, I didn’t know any better and took it as a completely normal way to view life. Winning was leaving. The sooner you leave, the bigger a winner you were. It wasn’t until I went away for college and moreso later moved to Portland that I realized there were places where people liked where they were living and wanted to build it and make it better, and even stay there into old age. It was remarkable. Sadly, I have seen that attitude of not caring at all about the civic future, and instead trying to make as much money now so that you can leave, the earlier the better, take over the entire country. I don’t know anyone or anywhere that is happy with where they are and want to plan for a future remaining there. It seems no matter where you are the one thing every place in the country has in common is your kids can’t afford to buy a house there after they move out, and you can’t afford to continue to live there after you retire.” • Leaving out the Boomer-blaming, which I guess is inevitable if you identify as not-Boomer.

Class Warfare

“Uber, Lyft Drivers Nationwide Stage Strike for Right to Unionize” [Bloomberg]. “Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. drivers in major U.S. cities staged a strike on Wednesday demanding better pay and the right to unionize, a sign of the intensifying fight by gig workers for more labor protections. The demonstrations, organized by Rideshare Drivers United, call for drivers and passengers to turn off Uber and Lyft apps on Wednesday and boycott services to advocate for better pay, working conditions and the ability organize and collectively bargain. Rallies were scheduled in cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Cleveland, Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, Denver and Baltimore and Austin, Texas. The group didn’t immediately offer an estimate for how many drivers participated. Rideshare Drivers United, which has 30,000 members nationally, is also urging lawmakers to pass the PRO Act, which would overhaul labor laws by strengthening workers’ ability to unionize, establish protections from retribution or firing, forbid employer interference and influence in union elections and substantially increase the penalties companies face for violating worker rights. The legislation has been approved by the U.S. House of Representatives and faces a vote in the Senate.”

“The Not-So-Private Space Race” [Boondoggle]. ” According to the Wall Street Journal, SpaceX has received $2.8 billion in contracts from NASA and the Pentagon, while Blue Origin has received $496.5 million. Recently, the Senate approved a bill that included $10 billion for Blue Origin after Bezos threw a fit that SpaceX was chosen for a contract for a moon landing.”

“‘They Need Someone To Work’: Notorious Topeka Frito-Lay Plant Now Has Covid Outbreak” [Flashpoint]. “According to Senior Site Director Sam Rice and HR Manager Michael Jacobs, at least 10 people of the remaining non-union and temp staffers working in the plant have already tested positive.” • As I commented on yesterday’s Frito-Lay link: “Oh, great. Poor ventilation.” And here we are!

News of the Wired

“Writer on the Storm” [The Baffler]. “In 1941, George R. Stewart—Professor of English at University of California, Berkeley, then best known for his arresting, human-scale history of the Donner Party, Ordeal by Hunger—brought out a new novel called Storm. Organized around the lifespan of a storm that develops off the coast of Japan, eventually inundating California with both heavy rains and snow before moving eastward and gradually dying out, the book’s very structure is anti-anthropocentric. Unfolding over twelve chapters, each corresponding to a different day, the novel proceeds mosaic-like, providing glimpses of the characters charged with managing the storm while keeping the tempest itself very much in the foreground…. .In its portrayal of the interrelatedness of weather systems across the world, it brought a fresh ecocentric orientation to the novel. It also proved instantly popular, particularly with newly enlisting American military personnel. Appearing in both a Book-of-the-Month Club and an abridged Boy Scouts edition, the novel would go on to sell over a million copies, according to Stewart. It came as well to exert a decisive influence on U.S. military meteorologists, who took the J.M.’s “sentimental vagary” as a workable model for designating storms. Today, it is widely credited with influencing the naming system developed by the National Hurricane Center, which is now maintained by the World Meteorological Organization, an agency of the United Nations.”

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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 (TH):

TH writes: “Nothing says “Southern California” like roses, sunshine, and palm trees!”

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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.

158 comments

  1. ajc

    Part of the rise in the south, at least in Mississippi and Missouri, is being driven by the AY.3 (60% of cases in Miss, 40% in the Show-Me state) variant which seems to be a sub-clade of the Delta variant which, of course, evolved from the Alpha variant. I’m sure it’s all over the south.

    https://twitter.com/justthefacts85/status/1417249838966611970

    The CDC, in its infinite wisdom, has yet to establish a national sequencing/genomic surveillance plan. And even if they had one, it would be undermined by their insistence in considering asymptomatic infections among the vaccinated as not actual infections.

    Reply
      1. Arizona Slim

        Agreed. I hope that he’s crushing COVID like it has never been crushed.

        Get well at record speed, IM Doc!

        Reply
    1. chris

      I’m interested to see where the stats for my county in Maryland go from here. According to the information we have, roughly 85% of residents 12 years and older have received at least one dose of vaccine and about 80% are fully vaccinated. Those are numbers that are hard to beat when you factor in the sick, children younger than 12, and any immunocompromised citizens. Current data suggests we’re back to the kind of confirmed cases that we had in May (about 250 confirmed cases each day). If we get a high spike in numbers and hospitalization then I have to ask why people ever though the vaccines would do well as the sole source of prevention and protection? If we can’t beat this, what hope do other counties have with a smaller population of vaccinated people?

      Reply
  2. Robert Hahl

    I can understand the plural they, but the sexless singular? What’s wrong with saying “e” instead of he or she, and “”er” instead of his or hers.?

    Reply
    1. Massinissa

      Hahl is correct. ‘They’ is used when there is no discernible gender. That its also used as a plural usually is not overly awkward.

      Reply
    2. DJG, Reality Czar

      Robert Hahl: Yep, the problem in English isn’t so much that the language doesn’t have a genderless singular pronoun (well, I suppose “it” does work). The problem in English is the sheer lack of pronouns.

      Heck, French has two versions of they (ils, elles) although neither is neuter. One can always use “on,” though. Likewise, Italian, which has even more pronouns and many reflexive constructions that are neuter.

      English also no longer observes the T-V distinction of an informal (singular) you and a formal (usually plural) you. Thou is long gone, except on, ohhhh, Quaker Oats cartons. At least, in Chicago we use “youse,” at times, to address a group.

      The same people who are tripping over their nongendered wee-wees to use “they,” though, also are making way too much effort to import U.K. horrors like “bespoke.”

      Reply
      1. wuzzy

        IIRC Quaker Oats is not owned by Friends. They is owned by Pepsi. The original founder was impressed by Quaker ethics…

        Generally Friends incorrectly use thee instead of thou.

        For example grandma used to say: “When thee gets home I hope thy mother comes out of her kennel and bites thee.”

        Reply
      2. Soredemos

        The lack of uselessly elaborate linguistic structures is a plus of English, not a negative. The real problem is that we’ve made word games that shouldn’t matter an absurd focus of our politics.

        Reply
      3. Josef K

        I didn’t know “youse” was, well, yoused in Chicago, I’ve always associated it with NYC esp. Brooklyn. Chicago is interesting, linguistically.

        In Chinese, there are two separate character for he vs. she, but the pronunciation is the same. So Chinese English learners confuse “he” and “she” and mix them up even within the same sentence with the same referent, up to a very high level of fluency. They’ll correct themselves some times, but it’s interesting how hard it is to create a category that doesn’t exist in one’s native tongue, even though it’s merely regarding pronunciation and not conceptual.

        Reply
        1. Basil Pesto

          I was under the impression that in the US, youse developed from Irish emigrants

          youse has also developed in Australia, where it’s considered ethnic and déclassé. My immediate family had a Flaubertian petty bourge conniption earlier this year when the headmaster of the school they send one of their offspring to said it when addressing the students. They’re still pretty distraught about it.

          Reply
      4. hunkerdown

        Sadly, modern English also lost the is-be distinction (like ser-estar) over the past hundred years or so. It makes idpol too easy.

        Reply
      5. Jeff W

        “The problem in English is the sheer lack of pronouns.”

        Gee, I dunno. Cantonese has just the third person singular pronoun 佢 keoi⁵ which manages to work for “he,” “him,” “she,” “her,” and “it” (and 佢哋 keoi⁵ dei⁶ for “they” and “them”) and I haven’t heard any Cantonese speakers being all that worked up about it.

        Reply
  3. bob

    Is there any problem with the southern border being open and not testing people or having 30 % of them refuse vaccinations? 100,000 people a month come across and end up in different parts of the country. Worried about the spread of Covid, probably not. Which is more important health or politics and optics?

    Reply
    1. marym

      The southern border isn’t open.
      https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/stats/cbp-enforcement-statistics/title-8-and-title-42-statistics

      Apparently Biden is reconsidering his plan to lift title 42 restictions, so we’ll see what happens.
      https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/immigration/biden-admin-rethinking-plan-lift-covid-restrictions-blocked-thousands-crossing-n1274506

      This is a report from one migrant center. The article says the migrants are tested and people with positive results are quarantined. However the City of Laredo’s complaint identifies problems with this (It’s a lengthy document and ianal). The twitter thread (by the author of the report) says most who are offered the vaccine accept it.
      https://myrgv.com/featured/2021/07/18/laredo-sues-dhs-to-stop-migrant-transfers-from-rgv/
      https://twitter.com/ValOnTheBorder/status/1416955725021130752

      The only 30% vaccine refusal reference I found was at ICE detention centers.
      https://www.axios.com/ice-immigrants-covid-vaccine-ee9406fe-7d83-4dce-b5be-c158e0d39f81.html

      Reply
      1. Gregorio

        The southern border isn’t closed to US citizens. I go back and forth all the time with zero problems or questions.

        Reply
      2. Arakawa

        I’m sure the ICE prison ambiance helps convince migrants that the authorities offering the jab have their best interests at heart.

        Reply
  4. Carolinian

    ‘It doesn’t seem to have convinced anyone to get vaccinated.’

    It’s possible that some have informed reasons for not getting vaccinated and are not merely lazy or deplorable. So yes, bad strategy by CDC.

    As for masks and whether they help, we had this debate months ago but even if they only block some of the “aerosols” it’s not a great burden for people to still wear them in stores. Schools and work may be a different debate with other options. But just about everyone has to shop unless they have someone to do it for them.

    And that’s a good story about CA and the electric car mining problem. A couple of years ago I drove through the location of the proposed Nevada/Oregon lithium mine and it’s hard to imagine a more remote location–hardly saw a car or a house. NIMBY even here?

    Other interesting stories in the LAT lately (they are on a roll)

    Congestion pricing for Los Angeles freeways?

    https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2021-07-22/los-angeles-traffic-congestion-commute-pandemic

    And Northern California water war–tiny fish and Bundys involved.

    https://www.latimes.com/environment/story/2021-07-22/klamath-farmers-bank-on-fish-california-drought-conflict

    Reply
    1. Mike Allen

      The remote site in Oregon/Nevada might be the Owyhee Wilderness area. Would be sad to lose that to lithium mining.

      Reply
        1. Mike Allen

          But is rather close to the Steens Wilderness area as it turns out. Thank you for the clarification.

          Reply
        2. Josef K

          Areas designated as “wilderness” in the USA usually represent the core of an important wilderness area, aka an area that has not been depredated by human. In mountainous areas, the designated wilderness is often the most aesthetically-pleasing to the average person, IOW the rocks and ice. The more ecologically important areas around it are rarely protected (completely), and thus are at the whims of the extraction-oriented NFS and BLM.
          In Washington State for example old growth forest is down to some 30,000 acres out of approx. 2 million. That’s habitat for billions of animals.

          Reply
          1. Wellstone's Ghost

            Does that 30,000 include the forests located within the Olympic, North Cascade and Mount Rainier national parks, or just the National Forest, Designated Wilderness and BLM areas?

            Reply
  5. enoughisenough

    Re: mining destroying the planet for electric cars:

    WHY?? Can’t we make electric cars without computers in them?

    I don’t WANT my car to have a computer in it. It’s not necessary. Why are we doing this.

    Reply
    1. Glen

      The typical car now has over twenty computers in it so its hard to avoid them. But try to avoid vehicles with embedded SIM cards which essentially embed a smart phone in your car. Also avoid keyless entry, these are pretty easy to steal

      The concerns about mining are for the lithium required for rhe batteries for EVs

      There are some real simple inexpensive EVs coming out of China, but these may not meet import requirements to be street legal.

      Reply
    2. Carolinian

      Actually it is necessary–electric or gasoline. Your ’57 chevy couldn’t be sold now because of emissions, mileage laws.

      However today’s linked story is about the minerals needed for lithium batteries.

      Reply
    3. Larry Y

      You need computers to at least manage the batteries and the safety systems (anti-lock breaks, forward collision system, etc.). The computers managing the banks of batteries greatly enhance their longevity, performance, and safety.

      Granted, it can be smaller embedded systems, but they are needed.

      Reply
    4. Amfortas the hippie

      amen, to that.
      biggest problem with my ranch golf cart(an electric tool truck that i use to get around the place) is finding people to work on it(60 and 130 miles away), and the limitations the high tech imposes on my would-be shade -tree-ism….namely, the Black Box “controller”(which is “high tech” enough to me to justify the label).
      but 30 years ago, when i was briefly an EZGO mechanic, the function of that black box was fulfilled by a frelling big metal coil.
      the coil worked well…was entirely recyclable…was easy to diagnose…and simple to replace.
      it could also handle vibrations, like one gets from rough ground(unlike golf course, i suppose)…which the controller/black box is definitely averse to.
      i’ve actually seen, up close, only a handful of electric cars…one of our local Demwits has had a tiny, boxy, bubble-like contraption that he drives smugly around town, for years…it would be unlikely to survive my dirt road…let alone travel successfully to the far side of the pasture….but it’s wi-fi enabled, speaks and sings to him, and has an app(?!) that tells him how many gallons of gas, tons of carbon,etc he is saving.
      (he pointed to this last feature with visible pride and self-satisfaction…and was obviously made uncomfortable when i countered that my cracker-rigged composting toilet not only wastes not one drop of water, but contributes to pasture health, and carbon sequestration likely greater than his high tech bubbletoy.)
      they make an affordable and useful truck-like electric vehicle that i can fix without a cleanroom, and i’m there with bells on…but i have no need of a virtue signalling go cart that 1. won’t do what i need a vehicle to do(haul manure/liberate materials from landfill) and 2. is thereby rather inappropriate for this setting(he’s limited to about half of town and the highways leading out of it, due to low clearance and the overall seemingly fragile nature of the thing. half of town’s roads wouldn’t stick out in Acuna, Mexico) and 3. that must be taken at least 100 miles away for any repairs that are needed.
      …and 4: costs more than 5 times what i spent building this house.

      Reply
      1. JTMcPhee

        I wonder how long my 2002 Ford Ranger is going to last… it does have a few bits of silicon managing various parts of the combustion and for cripes’ sake, shifting the transmission. And I found out when the trannie needed repair that a prior repair resulted in installation of a 4-speed shifter controller on my 5-speed transmission. Best vehicle I ever owned was a 1980 rusty, monkey-vomit-yellow Toyota pickup, cost me $500 which the guy who bought it from me paid me the same amount. Up mountain trails, nothing I could not fix myself, a carburetor, not fuel injection. AM-FM radio with tape player. Over 280,000 miles when I sold it. Didn’t even burn oil. But of course it did burn gasoline, 25 miles to the gallon, so it was just another sin wagon…

        Love our PMC notions of how cars are necessary accouterments of life now, and must be fitted out like a boudoir. And padded all around like a nanny’s prom. To (wait for it) make up for the personal irresponsibility of the driver. And yes, there are accidents due to other irresponsible drivers and mechanical failures and as with the self-driving cars, electronic failures…

        Reply
    5. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

      enough IS enough. I’m there too.

      I am dealing with a Mercedes SUV I got on a salvage title and the manufacturer’s effort to create multiple, inescapable revenue streams out of all this computerized junk is really impressive. For some reason, even tho they have the know-how and equipment, none of the mom-n-pop wrennching shops will even touch it. Or discuss it. You get caught in dealer and dealer=affiliated shops that milk you for every dime.
      Look up “Rear SAM Mercedes Benz problems” or some such and enjoy the show.

      Reply
      1. Darius

        Cars are a racket, and getting worse. Yet, in the US, most people treat cars like a vital organ. If you mention it to people, they think you’re crazy.

        Reply
        1. JBird4049

          Cars are a racket, but in most parts of the States, cars are absolutely needed unless you are talking about cities with functional and useful mass transit like San Francisco and New York. Add the continuing disaster that are the airlines and the continued multi decade screwing of Amtrak as well as the bus operators, doing even long distance travel is starting to need a car.

          Reply
          1. Darius

            Car ownership is a tax that Americans must pay to function. The cost of buying, owning, and operating a car are the cost of entry in American society.

            Reply
    6. Darius

      Those cars are junk in less than 10 years and it all goes to the landfill. It’s too expensive to disassemble and recycle them, and there’s too much hazardous waste.

      Reply
    7. hunkerdown

      As a proud owner of an early-2000s GM-made sedan, I would sooner give up driving than buy a cell phone on wheels.

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        aye. my truck, a 2004 dodge, is the only one in our farm fleet that i can actually work on any more(the 2001 ford f-250 requires all manner of special tools, etc, the other 3, mom’s spaceship, wife’s suv, and eldest’s 2012 gmc pickup, are all highly computerised and complex…mom’s especially…all the bells and whistles)
        mine has a computer of sorts, to run the fuel injectors, but is otherwise analog…manual windows, etc.
        i do the oil, brakes, and can replace the alternators, starter, etc.
        a/c has never worked, and the dash board is caved in, and there’s currently corn and millet growing in the bed(torn sack of chicken scratch a few years ago), but it’s still the most reliable around here.
        and, to boot, my truck cost me all of $4500 in ’09.
        if i didn’t have to venture out of my county so often, i’d be looking for a mule and a buckboard.

        Reply
    8. Mikel

      Because now even if you want to pay for your car or not trade it in they are going to subscriptions to software in the car and updates that eat away like parasites.
      Rentiers and parasites…on top of inevitable crapification that they’ll BS you is “progress”.

      Reply
    9. Pelham

      Ideally, there would be a wide choice of computerization. The fact that there’s so little choice is a bit baffling, though I’m sure there are reasons. Probably distasteful reasons.

      BTW I’ll take this opportunity to heartily recommend the latest book by Matthew B. Crawford, “Why We Drive.” Someone who doesn’t want a computer in his car might find it a compelling read.

      Reply
    1. Krystyn Podgajski

      Which frustrates me about all this is that they’re punishing people who got vaccinated instead of punishing the people who didn’t. It’s backwards.

      They should not allow people who weren’t Vaccinated inside shared indoor public spaces. Because if they enforce the mask mandate but still let people hang out in restaurants and bars it’s useless.

      Reply
      1. Lou Anton

        Might be a tacit acknowledgement that we’re in unknown territory w/r/t Delta’s effect on the vaccinated. UK hospitalizations are on the rise (after lagging infections by a longer timeframe than pre-vaccine), and with their population so heavily vaccinated, there’s a non-trivial number of vaccinated people going to the hospital.

        Reply
        1. Krystyn Podgajski

          There’s no evidence that the rapid rise in cases is caused by vaccinated people being infected with Delta. It’s more likely that, and has been shown, then the Delta variant is much more infectious causing the unvaccinated to get sicker and spread it much faster.

          I feel they want masking because people won’t get vaccinated and they feel they can enforce mask wearing more than they want to try passing a law that says people have to get vaccinated.

          Reply
          1. Yves Smith

            Sorry, there is evidence from Israel. Covid infections are proportional to the vaccination levels in the population. That implies the vaccines provide no/little protection against getting infected but do blunt severity:

            https://twitter.com/itosettiMD_MBA/status/1413922415550291968

            The US has no info because the CDC, as we have repeatedly said, is not recording cases among the vaccinated unless they wind up being hospitalized.

            IM Doc says that via his regular Zoom meeting with colleagues who are affiliated with a major teaching hospital, that there are many infections among the vaccinated. They are seeing symptomatic cases and in this sample, the vaccinated are on average MORE sick. This may be sample bias, in that the elderly and those with co-morbidities would presumably have higher vaccination rates than the population overall. Recall that the elderly also have weaker immune responses. That’s why the winter flu vaccine has a separate, stronger over 65 version. And the vaccines had thin participation of older patients in the clinical trials.

            This MD network is also seeing clusters of cases among the vaccinated (as in pretty much everyone in family groups) while the cases among the unvaccinated tend to be more isolated. That is a soft indicator that the vaccinated are propagating the disease (as in it is more likely that one member brought Covid into a household and it spread there than all members in parallel got it outside).

            Now the vaccinated are presumed to be less infectious but there is no data either way due to the US refusal to gather any data. It is looking like they are contagion vectors, so even if less so, it doesn’t appear to be much less so.

            Reply
            1. Krystyn Podgajski

              Man, what a mess this all is. Horrible recordkeeping and data all around. But that’s healthcare in the United States. IMDoc might be a bad data set because he only sees sick people. I know vaccinated people are getting Delta but I wanna know what percent that is of the total population. I think that’s a problem with the Israeli data. They’re only looking at people who are vaccinated and got Covid. So it makes sense it should match people getting Covid in general. Does that make sense?

              I just still don’t know whether to wear a mask or not because I’m getting Delta while I still have some immunity might protect me from further infections.

              The person who posted the Israel data also said :

              https://twitter.com/itosettimd_mba/status/1414194549770096645?s=21

              I don’t have them yet. Also, this is a small sample prone to error. A hypothesis of Israeli experts is also that there might be waning immunity after six months – don’t forget israel started mass vaccination more than six months ago

              Reply
              1. Yves Smith

                STOP MAKING STUFF UP! This is the second time on this thread! I told you that you are at risk of blacklisting. I also told you to quit opining on medical matters because you are regularly off base. I am not tolerating you misinforming readers.

                Israel is testing the entire population, both vaccinated and unvaccinated. That’s what the tweet shows.

                https://twitter.com/itosettiMD_MBA/status/1413922415550291968

                And it was already reported on this site, bases on MSM news, that Pfizer said its vaccine efficacy was “up to” six months. They haven’t promised anything beyond that.

                Israel did its big vaccinations in Jan and Feb, so this is still on the early side to see this much fall off.

                Reply
                1. Krystyn Podgajski

                  I’m sorry, I think you’re mistaking what the person on Twitter who posted that initial screenshot posted as being something that I said.

                  I did not say this, Irene Tisetti did

                  I don’t have them yet. Also, this is a small sample prone to error. A hypothesis of Israeli experts is also that there might be waning immunity after six months – don’t forget israel started mass vaccination more than six months ago

                  Here is the link to her comment which I posted above

                  https://twitter.com/itosettimd_mba/status/1414194549770096645?s=21

                  Reply
                  1. Yves Smith

                    The small sample still shows testing of vaccinated and unvaccinated Israelis. You tried claiming the vaccinated were not being tested. Your Tweet quote was not on point with the issue I raised.

                    This is a “small sample” because only one week.

                    Reply
          2. antidlc

            https://www.businessinsider.com/covid-expert-vaccinated-people-can-spread-the-delta-variant-2021-7?op=1

            A leading US disease expert says there’s ‘no doubt in my mind’ that vaccinated people are helping spread Delta

            As the CDC’s guidance is not to test vaccinated people unless they’re symptomatic, “we’re probably missing a bunch of transmission in vaccinated individuals,” Murray said.

            Murray says COVID-19 outbreaks are being investigated in US groups “that are 90%-plus vaccinated.”
            “That could only be occurring if they’re transmitting amongst each other,” he said. “There’s no doubt in my mind.”

            That’s one reason many infectious-disease experts still wear face masks indoors.

            Reply
      2. Objective Ace

        >They should not allow people who weren’t Vaccinated inside shared indoor public spaces.

        So your proposing not allowing storeowners into their own stores? Convicts into prison? The dying into hospitals?

        You should also consider if the economy can even function if you do this. With 50 percent vaccination rates will there be enough workers at the restaurant/movie theater/mall/doctors office/etc for them to even open?

        Reply
      3. juliania

        My unvaccinated son, Krystyn, visited my vacationing vaccinated son and his family at their hotel. The unvaccinated one wore a mask, practically the only person visibly doing so on the premises. Now tell me, who in that situation is at risk? I am worried not about the unvaccinated one, but about the vaccinated one and his family. I’m worried about everyone who isn’t wearing a mask in this situation! As IM Doc says, there should be no distinction between vaccinated and un. We are all in this huge experiment; everyone is right now, whatever choice they have made. And those who know this among responsible caregivers are the culpable ones. There’s no distinction to be made, vaccinated or not – everyone chose in order to protect themselves, everyone. And everyone should still be taking precautions!

        To IM Doc, my prayers are with you, and thank you so much for your service here and in your community.

        Reply
        1. Krystyn Podgajski

          Why is your unvaccinated son visiting people? Isn’t he putting himself at more at risk than the vaccinated people?

          All the studies I read are saying that the Pfizer vaccine protects just as well against Delta.

          https://www.eurosurveillance.org/content/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2021.26.26.2100557?crawler=true

          Overall our results suggest that despite somewhat reduced neutralisation capacity, Comirnaty vaccination induces a substantial antibody response also for the Delta VOC. Further studies are necessary to confirm the vaccine effectiveness in broader population groups.

          Reply
          1. Yves Smith

            I warned you against medical comments and getting out over your skis. You were banned for that before. You are asking for it again. That is in vitro not in vivo, for starters. And not a representative population either.

            That is not what is coming out of Israel. They are reporting only 64% efficacy now and they used Pfizer:

            The vaccine protected 64% of people against the illness between June 6 and early July, down from a previous 94%. The drop was observed as the delta variant was spreading in Israel, the Health Ministry said

            https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-07-05/israel-sees-decline-in-pfizer-vaccine-efficacy-rate-ynet-says

            If one assumed continued efficacy of 94.3% against “wild type” Covid, and that some of these more recent infections were probably still wild type, that implies even lower efficacy versus Delta.

            Reply
      4. 1UnknownSubject

        Sorry to inconvenience you – “punish”? So unvaxxed people should not be allowed in shared indoor spaces – like a grocery store for example or at a workplace?

        Maybe next you’ll say unvaxxed need to be segregated and disallowed to participate in society.

        Reply
        1. PHLDenizen

          The pandemic is ugly enough. The PMC/Neoliberal/“we believe in science”/fsck-those-deplorables-let-them-die-crowd is even uglier. It’s gotten worse in my social circle. The sentiment is revolting. No one should be wishing anyone death or misery. This vaccinated/non-vaccinated moral dichotomy isn’t helpful or humane.

          I saw it during the HIV epidemic. Those “fscking fags” were happily dismissed as disposable, depraved perversions worthy of zero consideration. IIRC, it took a rich white lady getting HIV from a transfusion to make anyone pay attention. I don’t remember Fauci being particularly useful then, either.

          And for the crowd that’s into BLM, it’s hypocritical to adopt the same attitude of cops who think “Fsck these *****s. They live like animals. Let them kill each other.” Zero self-awareness and incapable of seeing the parallels.

          Disgusting. All of them.

          Reply
  6. zagonostra

    >Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen Announce Co-Authored Book ‘Renegades: Born in the U.S.A.’” [Rolling Stone (jr)

    Thanks Bruce for making me re-write my youthful memories of going to your concerts and the thrill of listening to your albums. Can someone with so much money and means not see what Obama did and did not do for the “working man?” I’m tempted to pull out some albums and quote some of Springsteen’s lyrics, but it’s not worth the effort, both are dead me, at least in their current living manifestations.

    There are few remaining iconic musicians from the past that have retained the “outsider” ethos. I think Roger Waters is one. Eric Clapton refusing to play at venues where they require vaccination proof is another that comes to mind. A recent live stream that cost ~40$ of Bob Dylan’s 80th birthday that a friend invited me to watch was another disappointment. It was touted as a live stream but it was pre-recorded, and, contrived, in my opinion.

    Reply
    1. dcblogger

      it could be worse. My teenage idol was Mick Jagger. amongst other things, one of Jeffrey Epstein’s cronies.

      Reply
        1. Mikel

          The Rolling Stones did all kinds of things to avoid taxes.
          Aren’t Tories all about tax cuts? Have to have those friends too.

          Reply
      1. Michael Fiorillo

        Jagger went to the London School of Economics before joining the band; ’nuff said. To his credit, if you want to see it that way, he always owned his champagne and models lifestyle.

        Bruce’s deterioration seems to have had a somewhat more recent onset. I always liked and respected him more than I enjoyed his music, but this really puts a strain on the relationship…

        Reply
    2. Darius

      The Boss is part of the super-wealthy elite now and has a class interest in being a smug bourgeois liberal.

      Reply
      1. Soredemos

        Springsteen was always a fraud, in the sense that he was never actually part of the working class he always sings about. He’s openly admitted as much. But I think he was genuine in his advocacy for them and outrage on their part.

        But then he became an extremely successful musician, and was sucked into all the practices that just naturally come with the millions it brought him. My perception is that there’s an inexorable pull towards grift and shallow endeavors that comes with great wealth. Once you’re that rich you basically can’t help but hang out with all the other rich scumbags.

        Reply
        1. QuicksilverMessenger

          Thank you for this. It may have been different in other areas, but when I was coming up (I’m in my early 50s now, grew up on the West Coast), the only people I knew who liked Springsteen were up and coming front row kids, future and now PMC’ers. The ‘working class’ people I knew- actually had muscle cars (Barracudas, Chargers, Novas) had exactly zero interest in Bruce. For them it was Zeppelin, Judas Priest and AC/DC- the kind of kids who were memorably filmed in ‘Heavy Metal Parking Lot’
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QBryTebK2Og
          I do see what you are saying in his early advocacy but in my neck of the woods he had as much working class cred as ABBA.
          But of course, your milage may very

          Reply
          1. FluffytheObeseCat

            I’m in my late 50s, from the Tri-State area of New York, and he was idolized by real working class guys in that region in the late 70s and early 80s. He’s an international figure now, but, back when he actually did creative work he was the working class hero of the MidAtlantic and eastern Rust Belt.

            I didn’t love the guy or his shtick back in the day, but he was – 35 years ago – exactly what they claim he was. And his immediate family were factory worker types. He escaped to be a self-indulgent musician. By the time anyone in California noticed him….. well yeah. Might as well be the lead of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

            Reply
          2. Soredemos

            I think he’s become like Les Miserables, which was in large part about a failed workers revolution, yet has been a massive Broadway success with audiences made up of people that those same revolutionaries would probably have happily gutted.

            I will say though that fraudulent or not, Springsteen does write songs that are actually about things that matter. Which is saying something when most of the music landscape is made up of songs about love, songs about sex, songs about partying, nigh-meaningless gibberish songs, and songs about silly things like getting your style from a thrift store.

            Also shout out to Eminem making a song that was an extended double entendre that was both about the Vegas shooter and about an alcoholic singer being nervous about going on stage. Nice change from all his tracks about beefing with mumble rappers.

            Reply
    3. Arizona Slim

      I never cared for Springsteen’s singing voice. In my not-so-humble opinion, it’s right down there with Dylan’s.

      Reply
    4. Nikkikat

      Bruce is dead to me too. Obama was dead to me within weeks of his election. My family are blue collar, they worked in factories, built cars and appliances they belonged to Unions. Bruce really spoke to us and our life experience. My brother, myself and friends went to see Bruce every night he was in town. Standing all night when we had to buy separate seats just to get in the building. We saw him 4 or 5 nights in a row, then drove to another city to see him there. I had known for a long time that he was a sellout but this is sickening. Like you, I think Roger Waters is one of the few that are real, his radio KAOS tour was awesome.
      Neil Young has also done a pretty good job at keeping the real.

      Reply
  7. Dr. John Carpenter

    I was thinking of that Frito-Lay plant this morning with the conversation about people getting the shorts vs. not. With the mandatory overtime resulting in 12 hour days, 7 days a week, how many of those folks had “access” to a shot even if they wanted one?

    Reply
  8. Jason Boxman

    Out here in western NC, about 45 minutes from Asheville, plenty of houses are 300k to 500k. And there’s a Walmart, lots of fast food, three Dollar Generals (Where there’s despair, Dollar General is there!), Ingles, and finally a Publix. Housing on the outskirts of Raleigh was similarly priced. I guess I’m not sure where housing is affordable anymore?

    When I was briefly going out again, I met a working class person at a bar, and that person installs elevators in the homes of the wealthy out here. We have quite a few retirees from Florida, perhaps that’s where the wealth hails from?

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      Those houses are probably considered bargains compared to California or Connecticut. Where I live down I-26 there are tons of rental properties going up so these must be for the plebes who can’t afford the 500k. Clearly my town is expecting a huge influx from somewhere.

      It’s all rather astonishing for someone who grew up here (but then lived lots of other places). For decades the population of my town and county barely seemed to change at all.

      Reply
  9. drumlin woodchuckles

    I don’t think we are idolizing Psaki by having her throw out the First Pitch. Biden is in no physical shape to do it. So by having Psaki do it, he is showing he knows how to delegate. He would be showing the same thing by having Draculamala Harris do it.

    Now if he had really been thinking, he would have found a contemporary Hero of Baseball upon whom to bestow the delegated honor of throwing the First Pitch of the season.

    Reply
    1. PHLDenizen

      According to the calculus of Liberal Wokeness(TM), aren’t we guilty of erasing the historical importance and lived experience of the nation’s first black woman VP? Psaki is aggressively Caucasian and a lowly press secretary at that. And baseball already carries the stigma of being a white sport…

      Unless this is some signal that the establishment acknowledges they’ve given up on Kamala as a viable candidate and are, in fact, actively seeking to erase her from the collective conscious to avoid losing mid-terms and 2024. Her brand does seem poisonous.

      Reply
      1. Brunches with Cats

        Maybe they just had a sense of humor to pick someone who makes a living pitching BS instead of baseballs?

        Reply
      2. Pelham

        The Harris choice occurred to me, too, which means its glaringly obvious. Yet it’s Psaki. I would’ve tuned in to see Harris. Maybe in a few days she’ll have a televised interview in which she insists, “I’ve thrown out the first pitch,” but when caught out then pleads she hasn’t been to Europe, either.

        Reply
    2. curlydan

      I also think the WH Press Secretary unfortunately has been a semi-celebrity for a long time. Even W’s loathsome Ari Fleischer seemed like a small time celeb.

      Reply
      1. voteforno6

        I wouldn’t read too much into it. All sorts of people throw out the first pitch at those games.

        Reply
    3. Geo

      Speaking of Psaki – from her press conference today:

      “No, I don’t think you can expect that we’re going to be providing numbers of breakthrough cases now.”

      The question she was answering: “Can you give us now the number of breakthrough cases that have occurred during the Biden presidency?”

      https://www.rev.com/blog/transcripts/press-secretary-jen-psaki-white-house-press-conference-transcript-july-22

      I wonder if Biden will follow Cuomo’s example and write a book about his leadership through the crisis while covering up numbers?

      Reply
    4. Acacia

      I read it as feel good PR. Deflection from Psaki being a lying sack of sh*t, water carrier, smile face sticker on a rotten Empire, etc.

      Reply
    5. HotFlash

      I thought the US was a meritocracy. It could simply be that Jen can throw a baseball better than Kamala can. There were probably try-outs. Hope someone kept video.

      Reply
  10. allan

    DeSantis aims to quell COVID-19 concerns, pointing to lack of hospitalizations [News 4 Jax]

    It’s not just Walensky and Biden:

    Aiming to dispel concerns about surging COVID-19 infections, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday defended the state’s efforts to combat the spread of the deadly disease. …

    “If you are vaccinated, though, the number of people that end up hospitalized after is almost zero. It’s incredibly, incredibly low,” the governor told reporters at a bill signing Monday in central Florida.

    DeSantis’ remarks come as Florida grapples with a spike in new cases. In its weekly update Friday,
    the Department of Health reported 45,000 new cases last week, 59 deaths and
    a positivity rate of 11.5 percent, up from 7.8 percent. …

    Now, if he had repeated `incredibly’ three times, I’d start getting suspicious.

    Meanwhile, even though children under 12 are not vaccinated,

    Gov. DeSantis vows to fight school mask mandates

    Gov. Ron DeSantis doubled down Thursday on his opposition to mask mandates for public-school students during the COVID-19 pandemic, saying he would call for a special legislative session if the federal government moves toward requiring masks in schools.

    “There’s been talk about potentially people advocating at the federal level, imposing compulsory masks on kids,” DeSantis said. “We’re not doing that in Florida, OK? We need our kids to breathe.” …

    Let a million ground glass opacity chest X-rays bloom.

    Reply
    1. Jason Boxman

      Oh, and in all of this, what of breakthrough infections that cause loss of work income? I haven’t seen that come up yet, but it sounds like some breakthrough cases are enough to take one out of work for a bit.

      Reply
  11. Otis B Driftwood

    “Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen Announce Co-Authored Book ‘Renegades: Born in the U.S.A.”

    I used to listen to Springsteen all the time. Can’t listen to any of it anymore as it feels completely inauthentic.

    Reply
    1. PHLDenizen

      None of it was ever authentic. An masochistic acquaintance of mine went to one of his Broadway performances and within the first few minutes, Springsteen admitted he’d never held a 9-5, never done hard labor, never had a blue collar gig. And he admitted he and his friends went out of their way to dodge the draft. So much for “Born in the USA”. And he grew up around Freehold, which is maybe 40 or 50 miles outside of Manhattan. The Rust Belt it ain’t.

      Those Hamilton-level ticket prices were for a master class on how PMCs can further weaponize cultural hegemony against the working class?

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        in the same way that i really dig Miles Davis, even though i know he was a womanizing wife beater, and still admire Gandhi, even tho he slept naked with young girls to test his resolve, and still like Jefferson above all the other Founding Fathers, even though he owned humans(protowoke people on FB railed against me, some years ago, for not publicly burning those albums and books, insisting that my stubborn refusal meant that i was therefore a womanhater, an apologist for pedophilia and a supporter of human bondage.)…i like a lot of the Boss’ music because it speaks to me…his intentions and stances when writing the songs don’t really matter, to me.
        last year, my mom suddenly about faced on her opinion of Van Morrison, when she learned that “he’s a trumper”, but i still regard Moondance as one of those Perfect Albums that comes along once in a while.

        hell, i still listen to blues music every sunday, even though i’m not black.

        Reply
        1. JBird4049

          With the slightly possible exceptions of Frederick Douglass and John Brown, I can’t think of any famous person who I admire or respect who does not have some problematic qualities. Really, what most people are complaining is that we aren’t all worshiping saints or perfect people made of marble or plaster; people, like life, is really messy and even the saints, before they became saints often had, uhm, very messy, interesting lives.

          Really, demanding that we all be perfect while only following, listening, reading, or hearing (worshiping really) the unblemished sounds like they’re all looking not for that hope for shining city on the hill, that living, breathing, messy aspirational dream, but an embalmed Necropolis on the Hill.

          Reply
        2. PHLDenizen

          My gripe with Bruce isn’t that he failed to “live an authentic life” (whatever the hell that means). It’s his embrace of an establishment that seeks to destroy the very people he gives voice to.

          He has a platform, he has money. And instead of standing with Amazon union drives or campaigning for Nina Turner or writing tunes about ex-president con artists who wrecked people’s lives, he cozies up to Obama and prostitutes himself with a Broadway confessional that only the wealthy can afford.

          The Ten Commandments failed to include the worst sins: gossip and hypocrisy.

          My friend and I — both white kids from comfortable suburban childhoods — play blues all the time with all sorts of people. Have yet to encounter any black artist we’ve backed who claimed we were appropriating or failed to do their music justice. Then again, we don’t pretend to be something we’re not and we don’t claim to speak for anyone else. We just play our asses off.

          Reply
          1. tsyganka

            Hope I’m not too late to comment. Springsteen’s early voice was pleasing; but it’s deteriorated since then, and I no longer like it. I do, however, like his songs, regardless of his personal life and politics. And there have been beautiful moments from him – such as when he signed lyrics (a little) with Edie Jackson and another lady, and ‘danced’ with them a little bit – and even more so when he and Pete Seeger sang “This Land Is Your Land” at Obama’s inauguration. I just now watched that again and cried, it was so beautiful – Pete elderly and happy, and still strong in rousing a crowd. (I miss him and The Weavers.) Here are two links – one to Pete and Bruce singing “This Land is Your Land”, and the crowd being so happy and enthusiastic – and one to Edie Jackson signing Widespread Panic’s superb cover of Tom Wait’s “Going’ out West.”

            This Land is Your Land – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnvCPQqQWds
            Goin’ Out West – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9QaXafJO3M

            Reply
      2. Michael Ismoe

        These are the same people who think the other party is a cult of personality. Physician, heal thyself.

        Reply
  12. dcblogger

    from National Nurses United:

    Commit to taking action on Medicare for All during the August recess
    The August recess is a month-long break when Congress is out of session and members are back home in their districts. As members of Congress often host town halls during this time, the August recess has traditionally been a strategic moment for the movement to demand that they support Medicare for All.

    In light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, we will be focusing on virtual town halls. Now it’s easier than ever to join a town hall held by your member of Congress, and we need you to sign up to be ready to join if we find a town hall in your area. Fill out this form to let us know you’re ready to take action!

    https://act.medicare4all.org/signup/mfa-aug-recess/?source=em20210720-111227&t=5&akid=111227%2E246856%2ETvVKpi

    Reply
  13. Carla

    “Sanders to campaign for Turner in Ohio” [The Hill].

    I’m very sorry to say, I don’t think this will help Nina Turner at all.

    What might have helped her was the Plain Dealer endorsement of her, in which the editorial board stated they were supporting her because they are confident she will turn to the center once she’s in Congress.

    I think so, too. In my case, that’s a big strike against her, but for most NE Ohioans, it would be reassuring.

    Nevertheless, I’m supporting Nina in this race because Shontel Brown is the biggest zero ever, and totally controlled by the most corrupt players in the Democrat party to boot. At least Nina has guts and a brain, even though I expect she, too, will play the beltway game. But if she CAN do anything for the people, she just might. Shontel never would.

    Reply
    1. Geo

      Exactly. All the people who are actively trying to keep her from winning are why I support her. She’s one lone person who will be joining a few other decent humans in an overwhelmingly corrupt congress with hundreds of crooks, and under the banner of a party that hates them, so I have low expectations of her chance of accomplishing much. But, she’s 1000% better than the alternative.

      Reply
    2. Brunches with Cats

      Thanks for that on-the-ground report, Carla. I suspected as much.

      I’ve been getting her emails from the git-gog (likely because I gave to Bernie several times) and was tempted to donate, even though I don’t live in her district. Then something started to sound familiar about needing more and more money. I was just waiting for the appeal to beat an FDIC deadline to “show we’re leading in donations,” progressing to, “We’re being attacked by Big Money and have to match their spending!” WHY? How is feeding the insatiable maw of the campaign consulting industry going to change anything? It’s the same messaging that turned me off in Bernie’s 2020 campaign — so much the same, actually, that I wondered whether her campaign was cribbing his fundraising playbook.

      At one point, an email was signed by Turner’s campaign manager. I looked her up, and it appears she’s an Ohio Dems hack. I have a good friend in Akron who disparages Ohio Democrats as experts in seizing defeat from the jaws of victory. Would love to read your thoughts on that.

      In any case, I heartily agree with your last paragraph — well, I don’t know Shontel Brown, but given who those outside supporters are, I have no reason to doubt your assessment. And I truly do hope Turner wins, despite the above carping. She had the spine to spurn Hillary for Bernie, so maybe she’ll have the nerve to defy Pelosi.

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Perhaps calling Bernie’s office would reveal whether anyone in Bernie’s office knows of a parallel fund-raising effort which bypasses the DemParty hacks and gets the money exactly to people that Turner herself would want to be getting the money.

        Worth finding out in the few days remaining?

        Reply
      2. Hepativore

        Sadly, I do not think that Turner would be able to survive being shanked by Obama which is becoming increasingly likely. Despite Obama’s actual performance as president, he is still lionized by conventional media and the normie Democratic voters, the latter of which are precisely the demographic that sunk Sanders in 2016 and 2020 as these are the people that get most of their news from conventional media sources.

        I am not sure how Turner would be able to overcome the potential onslaught of all of the Obots coming out of the woodwork to vote for Shontel Brown.

        Reply
        1. Michael Ismoe

          We can only hope. When are progressives going to admit that the Dem Party is an impediment, not an ally?

          Reply
      3. Carla

        @Brunches with Cats — You said, “I have a good friend in Akron who disparages Ohio Democrats as experts in seizing defeat from the jaws of victory. Would love to read your thoughts on that.”

        I would not say Ohio Democrats stand ALONE in that category, but I agree with your Akron friend that they are EXPERTS.

        It really is difficult to overstate how horrible Democrats can be. They keep burbling with joy at the long-awaited prospect of the Republican party self-destructing, but the Democrats aren’t even a party at all. I mean, who thought they were voting for President Manchin and Vice President Sinema last November? (Not me, I chose Howie Hawkins. Of course, the Greens aren’t a party either, but that’s another story.)

        Reply
    3. christofay

      Why do we say “return to the center” when we mean turn to conventional beltway posturing? The center is 70 – 80 % of democratic-leaning people and more than half of republican-leaners support a robust health system. Let’s give it the right term which can include intonations of cowardice.

      Reply
  14. RockHard

    If you want a story about games, how about Activision / Blizzard

    The suit also points to a female Activision employee who took her own life while on a company trip with her male supervisor. The employee had been subjected to intense sexual harassment prior to her death, including having nude photos passed around at a company holiday party, the complaint says.

    Doesn’t get much worse than that when it comes to bro culture.

    Reply
    1. ObjectiveFunction

      To quote Churchill, around the time of the ‘we will fight them on the beaches’

      You can always take one with you….

      Reply
  15. CloverBee

    The vaccination debate is nasty (blaming the unvaccinated for poor public health policy), but as a parent, I am extremely concerned with the push to vaccinate children. The severe side effects of the vaccines in kids are not being covered in the press, and many people seem to not know about them at all. Biden’s comments about being able to vaccinate under age 12 soon, plus comments about unvaccinated kids being required to wear masks in schools will make a terrible combination. Kids and teachers enforce social norms rather brutally.

    Why can we not just wait for better vaccines, keep masking, and use the current symptom-reducing injections for the over 25 group to reduce hospitalization and death rates? Why are we pushing to inject kids with something that has already killed people with side effects? (unwilling to provide a legitimate source for the number killed since US media don’t cover it, so I will leave that out) Do we think this will somehow improve public trust in public health officials?

    Reply
    1. Angie Neer

      (unwilling to provide a legitimate source for the number killed since US media don’t cover it, so I will leave that out)
      Sorry, I don’t quite follow your aside there…refusing to reveal a source for your assertion does not make it more credible.

      Reply
      1. CloverBee

        I was avoiding making an assertion about a specific number of people, because I can find no credible coverage with an accurate number of occurrences.

        If you are saying that I shouldn’t make an assertion that death as a result of vaccination does occur, here is one horrifying example: https://www.newsweek.com/13-year-old-dies-sleep-after-receiving-pfizer-covid-vaccine-cdc-investigating-1606529
        here is another: https://www.ocregister.com/2021/01/26/health-care-worker-dies-after-second-dose-of-covid-vaccine-investigations-underway/

        Additionally, there is scant coverage of severe reactions and how widespread they are.

        Reply
        1. phoenix

          One thing I’ve learned from this pandemic is that people are awful at risk assessment/management. I’ve had obese people tell me they won’t take the vaccine due to the risk. I’m too kind to tell them that they have a far greater chance of dying from being a fat slob than an adverse reaction to a vaccine. Many such cases

          Reply
          1. CuriosityConcern

            I personally haven’t seen general public oriented materials that are regularly updated and clearly define known risks(I know my ignorance doesn’t preclude their existence).
            What is the risk of going to the avg supermarket if my county pos rate is x?
            How many people would I spread virus to if I was vaccinated vs unvaccinated?
            Truthful materials that address real world situations would be helpful in my opinion, sometimes I don’t have the time to search out all the relevant information I need to make an informed decision(this goes beyond COVID, and I only have one job thank the lord).

            Reply
  16. Mikel

    Manufacturing: “California’s electric car revolution, designed to save the planet, also unleashes a toll on it” [Los Angeles Times].

    And there will still be drilling because of all of the things that use refined oil.
    And EVs apecifically, allare going to have tires and plastic….and need oil.

    Short-term thinking on steroids….

    Reply
  17. JTMcPhee

    Test positivity rate in the South: any sources for how many tests are actually being done, what populations are getting tested, what tests are used?

    I doubt other states than FL are doing any more than DeSanitation’s Florida in actually testing a significant part of the population, and of course there is zero tracing and quarantining down here. And the rush is on to start cramming pasty Northerners onto cruise ship Petri dishes and into those grotesquely expensive and noisome “theme parks” once again, because MONEY… https://www.forbes.com/sites/victoriaforster/2021/06/10/cruises-just-restarted-and-passengers-are-already-testing-positive-for-covid-19-again/

    Reply
    1. Samuel Conner

      > any sources for how many tests are actually being done

      I’ve noticed that the Johns Hopkins CSSE pandemic dashboard has in recent months reduced the amount of information presented, after (for a while in 2020) increasing it. They used to present “recovered”, which would allow one to estimate “current known active infections” and the time evolution of the case fatality rate (admittedly modulo large concerns about incomplete detection of low symptom cases). I recall that smaller population countries such as Canada and Singapore (which has an astonishingly low CFR based on the reported statistics) had “recovered” statistics; US did not. IIRC, for a while they presented “hospitalizations”, and “number tested” (or maybe it was “number of tests”).

      Now, it’s just “cases, deaths and # vaccine doses”. Which kind of rhymes with what is coming out of the CDC.

      Reply
  18. Soredemos

    >The Messy, Stalled Reckoning At An Assassin’s Creed Co-Developer

    Somehow I’m not surprised to see that a series that always opens with a disclaimer about how it was made by a diverse set of developers of varied faiths and identities is actually produced by places with horrible working environments.

    Also AssCreed as a franchise has totally lost its way. It’s just knockoff Witcher 3 now. Origins and Odyssey were at least buoyed by their settings and are quite good as virtual historical tourism simulators, but Valhalla is downright miserable.

    Reply
  19. drumlin woodchuckles

    So, Mr. Adams, the messaging failed, eh?

    Well, messaging fails when failures message.

    Just as messaging lies when liars message.

    Reply
  20. drumlin woodchuckles

    About Frito-Lay . . . . . there are lots of little artisandustrial-scale chip makers . . . corn/potato/etc. What are workplace conditions and pay like in those places? Has anyone done a study?

    Reply
  21. ChrisPacific

    ‘The concept, or the tagline ‘Netflix of games’ is infinitely simple, infinitely understandable and is a great concept,’ IDC research director Lewis Ward told Yahoo Finance.

    That’s 0 for 3 out of the gate for IDC research director Lewis Ward. Perhaps they should have spoken to somebody who knows about games.

    My initial questions are: does Netflix intend to run cloud games in a sandbox environment, like Stadia tried to, or is it a delivery platform for games that will install on a device? From the article it sounds like it’s the latter, and that they will focus on mobile games. That puts them in competition with some pretty entrenched players (Steam and the Google and Apple app stores) so the next question is what will their unique value proposition be? It sounds like they intend to use their content licenses to develop exclusive games based on Netflix titles. As a gamer first and Netflix viewer second, I can’t say that I find that idea particularly appealing. There have been good games based on movies or TV series, but they tend to be the exception rather than the rule. Tempting non-gamer customers into gaming can work for a while but it’s hard to get it to stick (see e.g. Farmville). And with such a long list of high quality games even in the free to play space, getting people to part with cash for mobile gaming is a high bar – and some of the proven techniques for it, like loot boxes and gacha gambling, have negative or exploitative connotations and could harm the brand if poorly executed.

    The other suggestion in the article (interactive TV series) is not gaming, and Netflix does it already. That would not even qualify as an expansion into gaming in my book. I don’t know why the author even mentions it (except that we already know they don’t know much about gaming).

    Overall this looks like a turkey to me, and could be an Uber style extend and pretend scam. If enough investors out there are as credulous as the author of this article, then it could very well work for a while, but it’s hard to see anyone in the gaming community being particularly impressed.

    Reply
    1. Soredemos

      Gaming is already far too oversaturated anyway. There are only so many hours in the day. Even if you just look at the well rated games on Steam there’s more than anyone could reasonably experience in a lifetime.

      Reply
      1. Dr. John Carpenter

        Add to that Sony, Microsoft, Apple and probably others I am forgetting already have their own “Netflix of games” type services. I’m out sure with Netflix brings to this market.

        Reply
        1. ChrisPacific

          I hunted down some other articles and I am left with no more confidence that Netflix knows what it’s doing.

          “Maybe someday we’ll see a game that spawns a film or a series,” Peters said. “That would be an amazing place to get to, to really see the rich interplay between these different forms of entertainment.”

          This is is not nearly as new or original an idea as Peters seems to think. In fact, these have existed for decades. There have even been games that spawned movies that then spawned the game of the movie of the game (‘Street Fighter: The Movie’). Netflix made some of them itself (‘The Witcher,’ anyone?) A few were good but most were terrible.

          By the way, the Peters in the quote is not some wet-behind-the-ears reporter or opinion columnist – he is Greg Peters, the COO and Chief Product Officer of Netflix.

          Reply
          1. Grebo

            I am reliably informed that The Witcher game was based on a book. The Netflix series certainly seemed to have more plot than it could cram in.

            Reply
            1. ChrisPacific

              I believe you are correct – there was a game as well, but it looks like the book came before both. That makes it even less suitable as a counterexample.

              Reply
          2. Basil Pesto

            it’s weird because Netflix has a frankly stupidly large slate of game adaptations in the pipeline. Their Castlevania anime adaptation was the canary in that particular coalmine.

            Reply
    2. Basil Pesto

      There have been good games based on movies or TV series, but they tend to be the exception rather than the rule.

      I’m not sure that holds true anymore. We’re long past the days of Superman 64. The tenets of compelling game design at this stage of the medium’s life are so simple, repeatable and psychologically powerful that you’d have to be a pretty shambolic studio to release an outright stinker. To that end, there are waaay more well received licensed games now than there were in the 90s and 00s, to the point where no one really approaches them with trepidation anymore.

      Reply
  22. Wukchumni

    My buddy runs sightseeing trips in Sequoia NP and he relates that the number of American visitors is noticeably down in the last month since Cali opened up on June 15th, who had done so admirably in filling in for the usual 40% of visitation from overseas travelers who got raptured vis a vis Covid. I get it though, they can go to the Dodger game, water park or do anything they’d like now.

    He also mentioned that Clover Creek is on the verge of going dry, which has never happened before, indicating that springs which feed it are played out.

    Our situation is the yin to the yang happening in Germany & China with their colossal flooding. Water, where art thou?

    Reply
  23. Wukchumni

    “Writer on the Storm” [The Baffler]. “In 1941, George R. Stewart—Professor of English at University of California, Berkeley, then best known for his arresting, human-scale history of the Donner Party, Ordeal by Hunger—brought out a new novel called Storm. Organized around the lifespan of a storm that develops off the coast of Japan, eventually inundating California with both heavy rains and snow before moving eastward and gradually dying out, the book’s very structure is anti-anthropocentric. Unfolding over twelve chapters, each corresponding to a different day, the novel proceeds mosaic-like, providing glimpses of the characters charged with managing the storm while keeping the tempest itself very much in the foreground…. .In its portrayal of the interrelatedness of weather systems across the world, it brought a fresh ecocentric orientation to the novel.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Stewart’s opus was Earth Abides from 1949, really the granddad of the modern post apocalyptic novel, a well thought out romp into a future with only a few of us left…

    “Some zoologists have even suggested a biological law: that the number of individuals in a species never remains constant, but always rises and falls—the higher the animal and the slower its breeding-rate, the longer its period of fluctuation […] As for man, there is little reason to think that he can in the long run escape the fate of other creatures, and if there is a biological law of flux and reflux, his situation is now a highly perilous one….Biologically, man has for too long a time been rolling an uninterrupted run of sevens.”

    Reply
    1. JBird4049

      I wouldn’t say an uninterrupted run of sevens. Most of humanity’s existence, the world wide population was less than a million and did almost become extinct twice according to DNA analysis, hammered down to ten thousand or possibly even to two thousand. Even chimpanzees have a much greater genetic variability than we humans.

      Let’s say instead is that humans are really adaptable and persistent, but that that mega scale organizations like civilizations are not; this is why I am sanguine about our immediate survival, but not so much on western civilization.

      Reply
  24. Wukchumni

    Interest in the Tokyo Olympics has been buoyed by the late addition of the Pandemicathon where every athlete gets a chance to medal.

    Covid, Altius, Fortius

    Reply
  25. The Rev Kev

    “Vegas workers will put masks back on, but tourists won’t have to under new rules ”

    A cynic would suggest that if the workers got sick, it would be all sorts of hassle to have them off work or even replace them for those hotels and venues. But tourist don’t matter as by the time they get sick, they would have already spent their money in Vegas and had gone home so are somebody else’s problem.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      Pavlovegas is front & center smack dab in the middle of the Big Dry stuck in a monetary vice drip, and its ok if the frat house* punters spread it exclusively among themselves, because markers.

      *Delta, Lambda, Omega et al.

      Reply
  26. The Rev Kev

    “McCarthy yanks all GOP picks from Jan. 6 committee”

    ‘The panel’s first hearing, scheduled for July 27, will feature testimony from four police officers who were injured during the Capitol attack.’

    And so is the tone set for those hearings. You think that they will call on Ashli Babbitt’s husband to testify? Now that the Republicans have pulled out, they can now label those hearings as the “Democrat Jan. 6 Committee”. They would have been better to pull names out of a hat for those Committee positions.

    Reply
  27. chris

    The recent slate of articles about MS degrees in various outlets are bizarre. Why would anyone think you need an MFA ever? Why would people evaluate those programs as a basis to discuss master’s programs in general? In hard sciences and engineering MS programs are very useful and reasonably priced with a variety of options. Perhaps this is all a kind of “Me too” sentiment (not #metoo) where people in liberal arts who have some academic ambition but aren’t cut ouf for a PhD program feel like they should have options as well? The market for these degrees wouldn’t exist if people didn’t want it.

    Reply
    1. wol

      The MFA shingle reassures the PMCs who curate and critique your work unless you’re a folk artist (Bill Traylor is a personal favorite) or effectively playing one. Teaching gigs are very competitive and you’d best have backing because if you’re hired it’s most likely as an adjunct.

      Reply
  28. chris

    Interesting update for COVID recovery for me. Roughly two months after my positive test result, I started running again and discovered I had zero endurance and my lungs felt like they would burst after a mile. I ordered a digital calibrated breath trainer to help me get back some of my breath capacity. I followed the advice of my cycling friends on the one I ordered. I’m not here to schill for any product but I’ll happily share brand if people ask. Anyway, I had my lung capacity test results from the last time I was fit test for a respirator in June 2020. It measured pressure and total volume exhaled. I repeated a similar test tonight with my new toy. Due to whatever COVID did and probably my sedentary lifestyle because of the lockdowns, I am roughly 30% below where I was last year (pre-COVID). Wow. I’ll post back after I’ve spent some time training. Hopefully this will help get my lungs back up to running!

    Reply
    1. HotFlash

      Thanks and best. I have been taking Ox readings, still in 99/98 range, but endurance just coming back, s-l-o-o-o-o-o-w-l-y. Maybe. This whole Covid thing is just not well understood, it is a family-blogging chameleon, and basically I don’t believe much, if any ‘science’ (by which I mean ‘settled science’), is yet possible. I only wish They were keeping better records so we could figure this thing out faster.

      Reply
      1. chris

        Good luck! I’m 7 months past my isolation period. I had very mild COVID. And yet… the tool my friends recommended was an Airofit. Check it out and see if it’s interesting or not.

        Reply
  29. ObjectiveFunction

    Levine’s highly readable piece on NFT/crypto is one of those pieces that makes me regret that NC doesn’t have an ongoing discussion subsection ‘catalogued’ by metatopic.

    (….and yes, I understand the practical reasons for leaving comments as an ongoing, swirling ‘bait ball’ of nutrient rich brain food)

    [reedited for brevity] Currently, there is no true Metaverse. But Fortnite, with 350 million registered accounts, has evolved into a social activity unto itself. Many people sign on simply to meet with friends and hang out virtually. It now hosts live concerts, movies, and more.

    Decentraland uses NFTs to define and record digital ‘land’ ownership rights (via its LAND token) and a native cryptocurrency (MANA) for commerce.

    Metaverse and NFTs are merely commerce facilitators, providing tools and fora for people and products to find each other or merely to socialize, for brands to advertise, for artists to perform, for collectors to trade, etc. After all, enlarging network effects is essentially the internet’s greatest contribution.

    Conventional investment rules apply: purely speculative NFTs with low utility values will likely have volatile prices and poor prospects (like collectibles); while those with greater cash flow potential will be of higher quality.

    Metaverses too will have their nuanced assessments, like real-world marketplaces.

    Interesting stuff, if still (like most crypto talk) rather abstruse. Also of course readily subject to abuse, particularly by Bezohemoths trying to corral these ‘metaverses’ into yet more nonstop spamcasting channels.

    ….Also, keeping in mind the past cautions of Yves, Roubini and others that ‘authentication’ and ‘validation’ are two entirely separate issues, and that caveat emptor still very much applies in a ‘trustless, permissionless’ environment.

    Reply

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