2:00PM Water Cooler 7/27/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

“New Study Finds That Crows Are So Intelligent They Understand the Concept of Zero” [My Modern Met]. “To test whether crows could comprehend zero as a numerical value, the researchers showed crows two displays of dots, each display containing between zero and four. The crows were trained to indicate if the two displays showed the same value. While they did this, researchers monitored their brain activity. When the crows saw “zero” dots, their brains fired a new neuron recognizing this new ‘quantity.’ Sometimes the birds made mistakes, identifying two displays as portraying the same quantity. Where zero was concerned, the birds more often confused it for displays with one dot than those with two or more. Co-author Andreas Nieder told IFL Science, ‘This effect [would only be] expected if … crows can understand the empty set as the smallest numerical value on the number line.’ As the birds lack a neocortex like those that humans and apes have, these ‘Counting Crows’ inspire new questions for researchers pursuing answers on the evolution of avian intelligence.” • Now do negative numbers.

* * *


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:

South rising.

Case count by United States regions:

And so we barrel toward parity with the second peak, back in July 2020…. Projecting linearly, I’d guess we’d reach the new peak by early next week. (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.)

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

So long, President DeSantis.

From CDC: “Community Profile Report July 26 2021” (PDF), “Rapid Riser” counties, this release:

More red, though some relief in Nevada. Oh, and I’m seeing plenty of red in California and the Acela corridor, which certainly doesn’t fit the narrative. 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):

I do not like the increase in 65+ hospitalization.

Deaths (Our World in Data):

I do not like the rise in deaths, slight though it may be.

Covid cases worldwide:

Every region is trending up.

* * *


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

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

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

Biden Administration

“Brother of top Biden advisor lobbied Executive Office of the President on behalf of GM” [CNBC]. “The brother of one of President Joe Biden’s closest advisors lobbied members of the National Security Council for General Motors in the second quarter, according to a new disclosure report reviewed by CNBC. The report shows that Jeff Ricchetti, brother of White House counselor Steve Ricchetti, engaged with the NSC for the car-making giant on ‘issues related to China.’ The company paid Ricchetti $60,000 last quarter for his lobbying services. Jeff Ricchetti’s work to lobby the NSC, which is part of the Executive Office of the President, comes as he tries to publicly distance his work from his brother, who, among other items, helped secure an infrastructure deal between the White House and senior lawmakers.” • One big happy! The Biden Administration is just full of lovable scamps!

Democrats en Deshabille

“Spare Us Your Covid Hypocrisy, Republicans” [Joan Walsh, The Nation]. “Republican Alabama Governor Kay Ivey got a lot of attention last week when she urged her constituents to get vaccinated as a new wave of Covid cases crowded hospitals and ICUs…. Ivey herself is partly to blame, for waiting so long to make a vaccine pitch…” • Well, it’s Joan Walsh, so we expect this:

Note the date. But they’ve got their story and they’re sticking to it! Note also that the word “Black” does not appear in the article at all, even though of all the major identity verticals, Blacks have the lowest vaccination rate. Of course, Blacks are an important Democrat constituency, so it is natural that a shameless hack like Walsh would erase this.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Commissioners reject ballot marking devices in voting machine contract for Shelby County” [Commercial Appeal]. “The Shelby County Commission rejected a resolution to purchase voting machines for a second time, sending a resounding message to the Election Commission that they still favor hand-marked paper ballots, not ballot marking devices. ‘I can understand their position tonight,’ Election Commission Chairman Brent Taylor said. ‘Unfortunately, (the County Commission) is not charged with the responsibility of conducting elections. The Shelby County Election Commission is by statute charged with conducting elections by statute and we have said in order to conduct the elections in a free, fair, honest, open way we need these machines and it is the County Commission’s responsibility to fund them.'” • Steak dinner, here we come! “Commissioners later approved a resolution requesting that the county’s purchasing department assist with the procurement process for the purchase of voting machines and related software that support hand-marked paper ballots. The machines in the contract voted down Monday would have been for ballot marking devices, which permit voters to cast their ballots using a screen and producing a printout with a bar code. The county’s current machines don’t produce a paper trail to allow voters to review their decisions.” • There is no software that supports hand-marked paper ballots. Digital = hackable, Get the software out of the equation entirely.

“Lightfoot doubles down on decision to exclusively take interviews from people of color” [The Hill]. “‘I am a Latino reporter @chicagotribune whose interview request was granted for today,’ reporter Gregory Pratt tweeted in May. ‘However, I asked the mayor’s office to lift its condition on others and when they said no, we respectfully canceled. Politicians don’t get to choose who covers them.'”

On the left, liberal Democrats. On the right, the left:

Stats Watch

Durable Goods: “Headline Durable Goods New Orders Improved Again In June 2021” [Econintersect]. “The headlines say the durable goods new orders improved. Our analysis shows the rolling averages declined. The data this month was well below expectations. In the adjusted data, the improvement was due to civilian and defence aircraft.:” • Eesh. Boeing? That’s a pretty slim reed….

Manufacturing: “United States Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Manufacturing Activity Index in the US fifth district including the District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and most of West Virginia went up to 27 in July of 2021 from an upwardly revised 26 in June. It was the highest reading since March 2004, buoyed by increases in the shipments and employment indexes. On the other hand, new orders declined but remained in expansionary territory.”

* * *

Shipping: “UPS shares hit three-month low on worries e-commerce is cooling” [Reuters]. “United Parcel Service Inc (UPS.N) shares fell to a three-month low on Tuesday on worries that growth from the pandemic-fueled e-commerce boom may be fading. The company said second-quarter domestic volume fell 2.9%, with ground – composed largely of e-commerce deliveries – dropping 4% versus the year earlier. ‘Investors are likely reading this as an indication the pandemic-driven demand trend is slowing,’ Cowen Research analyst Helane Becker said in a client note.”

Shipping: “Argentina declares state of emergency as Parana River water falls to lowest level in 77 years” [Splash 24/7]. “Argentine president Alberto Fernández on Monday declared a six-month state of emergency for the Parana River, which has dropped to its lowest level in 77 years. Water flow in the river in June was recorded at 6,190 cu m per second, just over half of the 11,823 cu m second recorded in June 2019, according to state-owned electricity wholesaler Cammesa…. The Parana River transports about 80% of Argentina’s agricultural exports. The water emergency is expected to continue delaying shipments of soy, corn, wheat and other grains, as ships are required to carry less cargo to avoid grounding. The low water level is also affecting hydroelectric power generation.”


Correct. As with vaccines, we seem to be putting all our chips on one technology.

Manufacturing: “America’s Tastemakers” [New York Magazine]. “There are, by most estimates, only about 500 flavorists in the U.S., and if you have eaten food from a box in America, you have certainly tasted their work. Flavorists are responsible for the end of the ingredients list, the mysterious “natural and artificial flavors” that make ketchup taste ketchup-y and imitation meats meaty. And many of them happen to work in New Jersey, which has become a hub of American flavor. The Swiss giant Firmenich, for example, has its U.S. headquarters in Plainsboro, and Symrise is in Teterboro, as is Takasago, and a Givaudan outpost is in East Hanover. There is Robertet in Piscataway, International Flavors & Fragrances in South Brunswick, Brookside in Branchburg, Flavor Dynamics in South Plainfield, and Signature Flavors in Freehold. This partly has to do with location and price: New Jersey is close to the area’s ports but with cheaper land than New York. At play, too, is the Silicon Valley principle: It’s good to be near competitors because that means you’re near clients (and future hires)…. Flavorists cannot tell you which food brands they’ve worked with or what flavors they’ve made. … At the same time, there is deep camaraderie, because flavorists share a very particular approach to experiencing the world: nose-first. Smell, more than taste, determines flavor, and they spend their careers learning to smell. ‘When you have a meal with other flavorists, you dissect the food and drinks just like at work,’ says Freedman. ‘We talk about flavor, the way things taste, the way things make us feel, all the sensations. That’s the common language.'”

Manufacturing: “Moderna Says Foreign Manufacturing Partners Facing Delays” [Bloomberg]. “Moderna Inc. said its Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing partners outside the U.S. are ‘facing delays’ due to laboratory testing issues that occurred in recent days. While the problem has been resolved, it has slowed release of Moderna’s vaccine to markets outside the U.S., a company spokeswoman said in an email. The problem will cause short-term adjustments to vaccine delivery outside the U.S., she said in the email. Moderna is currently shipping vaccine as it makes it, which means it has no extra stock in storage to smooth over these types of temporary supply interruptions, spokeswoman Colleen Hussey said in an email.”

Mr. Market: “China Stock Rout Spreads Amid Fears of Foreign Investor Exodus” [Bloomberg]. “A deepening selloff in Chinese stocks spread to the bond and currency markets on Tuesday as unverified rumors swirled that U.S. funds are offloading China and Hong Kong assets…. The dramatic moves underscored how fragile investor confidence has become after a months-long regulatory onslaught by Beijing that only seems to be getting worse. Traders fear the latest crackdown on the nation’s education, food delivery and property sectors could expand to other industries such as health care, as China looks to tighten its grip on Big Tech and reduce the wealth gap.” • Oh.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 24 Extreme Fear (previous close: 32 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 20 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 27 at 12:19pm

The Biosphere

“Oregon’s carbon offsets go up in smoke” [Cory Doctorow, Pluralistic]. “Oregon’s 400,000-acre (and counting) Bootleg Fire is consuming vast of carbon offset forests, releasing the carbon the public paid logging companies not to release…. Once that public money was in private hands, it returned to public officials – regulators who oversee Oregon’s forests, who ‘sought to discredit climate scientists and operated as a de facto lobbying and public relations arm for the timber industry.’ Offsets don’t just fail to mitigate the climate emergency – they have a business model: funneling lots of public money to rich people, like the millionaire residents of a gated Pennsylvania estate who got huge tax breaks for their private park.”

“‘What’s Covid?’ Why People at America’s Hardest-Partying Lake Are Not About to Get Vaccinated” [Politico]. “A year ago, Backwater Jack’s made national news after photos went viral of partiers packed inside the pool area, ignoring guidelines to avoid crowds and keep a distance from others. Today, as revelers laugh and toss back drinks in shallow pool water, some 600,000 deaths later, they aren’t just forgoing masks, they are forgoing the vaccine. Talk of the vaccine draws scoffs, laughs and even cussing among the clientele. Mask-wearing, which is recommended for those not vaccinated, was virtually non-existent—and, in conversations with a flow of customers over two days, it’s clear that many are not vaccinated. Depending on your politics, the scene at Backwater Jack’s is either a symbol of reckless abandon or unapologetic living in the face of a pandemic. It is one pole of the divide that has erupted across the country, which increasingly seems cloven into two Americas: vaxxed and unvaxxed.” • Shooting yahoos in a pool is easy and fun. It would be just as easy — and fun for me, though perhaps not everyone — to point out that SARS-CoV-2 hops jurisdictions and oceans through air travel, and air travel correlates positively with income (and for private jets, with wealth). To be fair, I didn’t hear banjo music autoplay when I opened the article. That said, however painful for the region, Backwater Jack’s is, well, a backwater. None of its patrons brought Delta to this country, for example. That was done by air travel — just as in the first peak, where the virus entered through JFK and spread from there — given that SARS-CoV-2 variants aren’t sprinkled over the continent like pixie dust from the hand of God.

Health Care

“CDC to recommend vaccinated Americans wear masks indoors in some cases” [Reuters]. “The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is set on Tuesday to recommend fully vaccinated Americans wear masks indoors in at least some instances, as the more highly transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus has led to a surge in infections, sources said…. That would mark a reversal of the CDC’s announcement in May that prompted millions of vaccinated Americans to shed their face coverings.” • Yes, it would. More: “The recommendations to wear masks in some indoor settings will apply in areas with surging COVID-19 cases, they said.” • Awesome. Let’s mask up only after it’s too late. As I keep asking: What business is the CDC in, anyhow?

Sports Desk

“Simone Biles says ‘I have to focus on my mental health’ after pulling out of team final” [BBC]. “Four-time Olympic gold medallist Simone Biles said ‘I have to focus on my mental health’ after pulling out of the women’s gymnastics team final. The American left the arena after the vault, but later returned to support her team-mates as they claimed silver behind the Russian Olympic Committee. Biles, 24, scored 13.766 – her lowest Olympic vault score – before withdrawing from the event. ‘After the performance I did, I just didn’t want to go on,’ she said. ‘I have to focus on my mental health. I just think mental health is more prevalent in sports right now. We have to protect our minds and our bodies and not just go out and do what the world wants us to do. I don’t trust myself as much anymore. Maybe it’s getting older. There were a couple of days when everybody tweets you and you feel the weight of the world. We’re not just athletes. We’re people at the end of the day and sometimes you just have to step back. I didn’t want to go out and do something stupid and get hurt. ​I feel like a lot of athletes speaking up has really helped. It’s so big, it’s the Olympic Games. At the end of the day we don’t want to be carried out of there on a stretcher.‘” • I remember remarking to Yves the other day that I was worried the media build-up on Billes was setting her up for a fall.

“Anna Kiesenhofer: Mathematician, amateur cyclist, Olympic champion” [Cycling News]. “In an extraordinary comeback story, the winner of the road race at the Tokyo Olympics left the sport at the end of 2017 when she found herself out of contract. She came into Tokyo without a pro team and left as Olympic Champion. … Off the bike, the new Olympic Champion has a PhD in mathematics after studying at the Technical University of Vienna as well as at Cambridge University before completing her doctorate in Catalonia in 2016 alongside her racing career. She currently works at the University of Lausanne, combining research with teaching. Kiesenhofer’s specialism in time trialling coupled with her mathematics expertise make it all the more fitting that the Austrian won by solo breakaway and after a calculation error from the rest of the peloton…. Kiesenhofer was the very first rider to attack in the Olympic road race, eventually forming a breakaway alongsize Carl Oberholzer (South Africa), Omer Shapira (Israel), Vera Looser (Namibia), and Anna Plichta (Poland) which went on to reach a gap of 11 minutes. After Looser and Oberholzer were dropped, Kiesenhofer attacked her two remaining breakaway companions and time-trialled her way to the finish for over 40km. After Shapira and Plichta were caught by the remainder of the peloton the rest of the riders seemed to believe that they were racing amongst themselves for Gold, unaware that Kiesenhofer was still in front. However, while it might have been a miscalculation from the rest of the peloton that allowed Kiesenhofer to maintain her lead of more than two minutes, her rivals’ mistakes should not detract from the Austrian’s efforts and eventual win.” • Presumably a cycling fan among the readership can explain this,

Zeitgeist Watch

“Want to be better at small talk? An ex-FBI agent reveals the method he uses to get people to open up” [CNBC]. • The media’s servicing of today’s Ohkrana is getting over the top. And I can’t imagine a society I’d rather live in less than a society where everyday interaction is modeled after an FBI agent’s entrapment techniques (because yes, that’s what they live to do).

“To Slightly Reduce How Much the Internet Sucks, Use Positive Reinforcement” [Freddie DeBoer]. “So here’s my proposal: instead of constantly giving negative attention to those you don’t like, which helps their careers and thus incentivizes them to do more of what you dislike, why don’t you use positive reinforcement to get more of what you do like, or at least hate less? I’m 100% serious here.” • DeBoer sounds like Joe Biden: “I’m not joking!” And I don’t think that’s such a bad thing. More: “Let’s start from the assumption that most of the people that media liberals hate are not just going to go away. I think browsing the most popular creators at crowdfunded platforms like Patreon and Substack will reveal that, whether you like it or not, a lot of people who establishment media folks view as problematic have durable audiences. As much as you might want them to, Chapo Trap House and Matt Taibbi and Red Scare and Jesse Singal (to pick just a few obvious examples/targets) have large and dedicated groups of supporters who will fund their work. While genuinely dissenting voices are being systematically pushed out of traditional media, a lot of people the liberal media intelligentsia doesn’t like have audiences that will support their projects financially, sometimes lavishly so. And the number of platforms out there has multiplied, meaning that even if any individual writer gets run off of one, they will likely catch on somewhere else, especially given that Ghost exists to make centralized content moderation impossible3. Despite the endless canceling discourse it’s almost impossible for someone to get canceled to the point of being legitimately silenced, provided they have a loyal audience. (Look at… me.) Canceling is powerless. Traditional media types care enough about these people to bother getting mad precisely because they are successful. So let’s just accept that people you don’t like will continue to say things you don’t like. The question is, can you perhaps influence them to do more of what you like and less of what you don’t? I think maybe you can, if you bear in mind what I said at the top: that none of us are independent, that you’ve gotta serve somebody.” • Interesting as usual.

Guillotine Watch

“Fact check: False claims that Jeff Bezos is an alien, reptile draw on conspiracy theories” [USA Today]. “‘That’s an alien in his neck,’ [YouTube user Gina Maria Colvin Hill] says in the video. ‘Look at that two eyes in his neck. This Jeff Bezos has got an alien in his neck.’ She claims Bezos is wearing ‘a rubber mask on his head’ and argues ‘his hands even look fake, too.’ ‘He’s a reptilian!” she says. ‘I don’t think he’s a human.’ But there is no evidence an alien is living in Bezos’ neck – or that the billionaire is a reptile.” • But surely Colvin Hill is directionally correct? In any case, I’d short Tyrell Corporation; The Bezos™, surprisingly, is becoming as credible as The Zuckerberg™ which is pretty amazing; have you ever looked carefully at The Zuckerberg™’s hairline? But that cowboy hat: Could it be hiding some tissue artifacts from a botched vat decanting?

Class Warfare

“The Time Tax” [Amnie Lowrey, The Atlantic]. “The United States government—whether controlled by Democrats, with their love of too-complicated-by-half, means-tested policy solutions; or Republicans, with their love of paperwork-as-punishment; or both, with their collective neglect of the implementation and maintenance of government programs—has not just given up on making benefits easy to understand and easy to receive. It has in many cases purposefully made the system difficult, shifting the burden of public administration onto individuals and discouraging millions of Americans from seeking aid. The government rations public services through perplexing, unfair bureaucratic friction. And when people do not get help designed for them, well, that is their own fault. The time tax is worse for individuals who are struggling than for the rich; larger for Black families than for white families; harder on the sick than on the healthy. It is a regressive filter undercutting every progressive policy we have. In America, losing a job means making a hundred phone calls to a state unemployment-insurance system. Getting hit by a car means becoming your own hospital-billing expert. Having a disability means launching into a Jarndyce v. Jarndyce–type legal battle. Needing help to feed a toddler means filling out a novel-length application for aid. The Biden administration is expanding the welfare state, through the new child tax credit and other initiatives. Congressional Democrats are crafting a new New Deal. But little attention is being paid to making things work, rather than making them exist. And very little attention is being paid to making things work for the neediest—people short on time, money, and mental bandwidth. The time tax needs to be measured. It needs to be managed. And it needs to end.” • This is well worth reading in full. However, the notion of a “tax on time” for exactly the processes Lowrie is talking about was originated by none other than Naked Capitalism’s Yves Smith (though since every search tool available to me is completely crapified, I can’t find the original usage). Oh, and the “new child tax credit” is temporary, which I certainly hope isn’t the liberal Democrat version of a “new New Deal.”

News of the Wired

“The Regular Expression Edition” [Why Is This Interesting?] “In a 1951 paper for the RAND Corporation, Kleene reasoned about the types of patterns neural networks were able to detect by applying them to very simple toy languages—so-called ‘regular languages.’ For example: given a language whose ‘grammar’ allows only the letters ‘A’ and ‘B’, is there a neural network that can detect whether an arbitrary string of letters is valid within the ‘A/B’ grammar or not? Kleene developed an algebraic notation for encapsulating these ‘regular grammars’ (for example, a*b* in the case of our ‘A/B’ language), and the regular expression was born. Kleene’s work was later expanded upon by such luminaries as linguist Noam Chomsky and AI researcher Marvin Minsky, who formally established the relationship between regular expressions, neural networks, and a class of theoretical computing abstraction called ‘finite state machines.'” • Hubris, not unknown in the field. But a fascinating article for the technically minded!

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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 (SC):

SC writes:

The Milkweed that I so enthusiastically wrote about a few years ago, thinking it was Purple, is actually Common and invasive. I found a more reliable seed source for Purple and the — now large — Common MW infestation is hopefully providing a measure of unintended “cover” for the small Purple MW seedlings, attracting the Monarchs away from the precious Purple seedlings to lay eggs on the large and abundant leaves of the numerous Common MW stalks. And, indeed, on inspection I do find eggs on the undersides of some of the big Common MW leaves.

MW attracts aphids, and aphids attract Ladybird Beetles. I rescued one out of a watering pot yesterday (almost killed it, thinking it might be a Japanese beetle — I have a lot of Virginia Creeper that needs rooting out — before noticing the spots), and today I am finding them staking out the Common Milkweed, evidently awaiting the aphids. Ladybugs are prized for natural pest control; I didn’t expect this benefit when I started trying to grow Purple Milkweed several years ago. Perhaps I am by accident stumbling in the direction of a sustainable permaculture.

The attached photo shows the bug, some leaves and the beginnings of a milkweed blossom cluster.

And since my household affairs distracted me yesterday, here is yesterday’s plant (TH):

TH writes: Don, my husband, and I occasionally stop at yard/garage/estate sales. We stopped at one in Orange and this lovely Christplant in their front yard is all I remember of it.” Fortunately red goes nicely with green. So Christmas comes early!

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

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Anon

    Good afternoon Lambert!

    Looks like it’s a tilted kind of day today, huh? [In short, everything past the first half is italics.]

    Edit: Nevermind, you caught it!

    1. dcblogger

      I just do not get all these attacks on AOC. I don’t see how this advances the cause of Medicare for All.

    1. dcblogger

      what this shows is that there is zero downside to opposing Medicare for All. You can oppose it, take all the PhRMA, and AHIP $ and no one will give you a hard time; but if you support Medicare for All you will get protesters at your office. It is a spectacularly bad strategy for getting Medicare for All to pass.

      1. Dr. John Carpenter

        Pressuring the people who were elected to pass M4A to do more than occasionally tweet about it is a bad strategy to getting it passed?

        1. The Rev Kev

          Last November there was people talking about pushing Joe Biden left after he became President as an actual working plan. What was not mentioned was the fact that it would be also necessary to push “Progressives” left as well. It seems to be easier to push old Joe left as it turns out.

        2. Geo

          When a reps options are to sell out and get wine & dined by Pharma lobbyists while activists leave you alone, or push for M4A and get smeared by the media, denounced as a radical by fellow colleagues, and get scolded by M4A activists because you haven’t accomplished the goal yet, it seems like selling out would be the most appealing route.

          Who do elected M4A advocates have on their side in this fight? Right now it seems like no one. They have the establishment trying to ruin them, the media smearing them, and their base calling them frauds. All while their corrupt colleagues get none of this heat. Seems pretty shortsighted to further alienate the few good ones than focus the anger on the ones actively against M4A. Maybe trying to push more elected reps into supporting M4A would be wiser than scolding the few who do for not “forcing” it to a vote?

          1. Dr. John Carpenter

            The elected M4A advocates knew the job was dangerous when they took it. Pressure from the media and establishment was a given and frankly they weren’t sent there to make friends. Wasn’t going to happen anyway.
            But really, these are the people who should be leading the charge against their corrupt colleagues. When have the Squad called out Democrats on this? What pressure are they putting on them? That they haven’t is part of the problem, not that they haven’t passed M4A by now (which no one expected and is kind of a straw man argument.)

    2. Jack Parsons

      The last I heard, Susan Sarandon does not live in Queens.

      More seriously- AO-C had to decide whether she wanted to be on the inside, or on the outside. She chose to be on the inside, and is in danger of becoming Jane Fonda. I hope she can withstand the pressure.

      1. The Rev Kev

        If she eventually comes out with a series of workout videos, that would be a good indicator where she is.

  2. zagonostra

    >De Blasio proclaims ‘voluntary phase is over’ on COVID-19 vaccines- New York Post

    On Tuesday, de Blasio said enticing New Yorkers with goodies isn’t sufficient to meet the city’s goal of getting more workers inoculated against COVID-19.

    As mandates get tighter and tighter and the “goodies” are no longer having the desired effects. the hammer will be brought down. The recoil from is going to be nasty, there is just too much information from legitimate sources that contradict the official narrative. We are entering into a very precarious space where safety/security is creating a critical unbalance with personal freedoms.

    It’s going to make the TSA inconveniences at airports after 911 seem like just that, inconveniences .Now some people will be “forced” to take a vaccine that they believe (correctly or falsely, that’s not the point) will do them irretrievable damage – forced that is if they want to earn a pay check.


    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      We can’t even do a mask mandate, and we’re going to do a vaccine mandate? “Jabs in arms”? For a drug that’s not approved by the FDA? These people have lost their minds.

      1. marcyincny

        …for a drug that will need a “booster” that can cause a reaction far worse that the second dose of the first round?

      2. Tom Stone

        Lambert take a deep breath and exhale.
        Yes, they are out of their minds.
        Our system selects for that in our leaders,we get the Sociopaths, the Narcissists and the delusional.
        It is one heck of a show

      3. Darthbobber

        But away we go. Looks like a mandate for federal workers and contractors will be officially announced tomorrow. Hi ho.

        1. cocomaan

          I am skeptical that they’ll be able to enforce this.

          As I reported on this blog before, other organizations are using large religious and health exemptions in order to shuffle people quietly into the compliant camp.

          The fact that the new mask mandate is showing that the vaccine doesn’t work as well as advertised is just going to weaken their case.

      4. HotFlash

        For drugs for which all mfr liability has been waived? “Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said the company’s data ‘confirm the favourable efficacy and safety profile of our vaccine and position us to submit a BiolF ogics License Application to the US FDA.’ FDA approval usu takes 3 YEARS. LT side effects (Phase IV testing) don’t usu show up until after 1 yr. Albert, STFU.

        P S, I wanna see Dr Fauci’s stock portfolio going back min 10 yrs

  3. Randy

    “So long, President DeSantis.”

    I like your optimism. Floridians sent Scott to the US Senate after he was a terrible governor. More generally, I’ve yet to see anyone suffer any repercussions for our terrible covid response that has killed countless Americans. No accountability for our elites as they endless fail upwards.

    1. zagonostra

      His anti BDS stance with respect to Ben & Jerrys Ice Cream also alienated him from a large swath of admirers.

    2. neo-realist

      Just because a corn pone governor and a ghoul senator sells locally doesn’t mean they can sell their brand nationally. They could sell to democrat hating cubans and central and north FL rednecks and much of the rest of the south in a national campaign, but what about the rest of the country? Illinois, Minnesota? Massachusetts? Pennsylvania?

  4. TBellT

    A friend is feeling a little distraught by the CDC masks announcement. I felt like I should have told them they wouldn’t have been surprised if they read NC but I didn’t want to rub salt in the wound.

    Lambert’s talked about Trump election as trauma for the PMC, and maybe the Biden admin took the idea and ran with it. They tried to salve their most loyal partisans hurt psyche with an appealing 1-2 narrative of “Trump is gone , the virus is gone”. Unfortunately now that psychological response is gonna reemerge as narrative has to face reality. In effect they’ve only made the trauma worst. After all if the virus can come back so can Trump.

    Anyway continue to read NC for clear sighted rational analysis.

    1. Carolinian

      so can Trump

      Isn’t that what they really want? Things were so much easier then, CNN, MSNBC ratings on the upswing.

      Biden has announced he will withdraw from Iraq at the end of the year and I believe Lambert is right that he is doing some encouraging things. He, and the Dems, need to get over TDS. Somebody will have to tell Pelosi.

        1. Carolinian

          Well there’s also the antitrust feelers. But perhaps those are fake as well.

          On the plus side, at least we got rid of Pompeo. There’s some speculation by FP wonks that easing up in the Middle East and perhaps against the Russians all part of “pivot to Asia’ and new cold war against China, whatever that is about. Maybe they got bored with Russia, needed a new enemy.

          1. The Rev Kev

            ‘On the plus side, at least we got rid of Pompeo.’

            Blinken is no improvement. He has been described as Pompeo – but with a lower BMI.

    2. dcblogger

      Trump election was trauma for America. Here in the 7th and 8th Wards of DC there was a lot of heartbreak that such a gangster could have been elected, even if only by the electoral college. Whatever else it might be, the 7th and 8th wards are NOT PMC. Mostly essential workers.

      1. PHLDenizen

        “Gangster” is a bit strong, innit? Gangsters do things like:

        Kill a bunch of nursing home residents during a pandemic, while also using state resources to ensure your friends and family get first dibs on vaccines and testing — while everyone else gets to hope they don’t croak. Bonus multiplier for Biden’s DOJ dropping any and all investigations into those deaths, underscoring how disposable all those seniors and the “essential workers” you sympathize with are. C-U-O-M-O does not spell Trump.

        Use insider information gleaned from your position as House Speaker to make millions on stock trades. P-E-L-O-S-I does not spell Trump.

        Lie about the efficacy of masking at the front-end of the pandemic, forestalling the prevention of mass death and illness. And succeeding at this while you are the most highly paid public official in the US, as well as the dude whose sole purpose in life is the health of the public. F-A-U-C-I does not spell Trump.

        And all three of the examples of thug life up there still have bright, shiny halos they wear to every single brunch.

        If you think Trump is a gangster, you’re not looking hard enough.

        1. Ed Miller

          “If you think Trump is a gangster… ”

          The point you are making, possibly inadvertently, is Trump isn’t the ONLY gangster, not that he is not a gangster. Isn’t it difficult to find a “leader” in a power position who isn’t these days?

          1. K.k

            Yep, two sides of the same gangster coin. America love its gangsters, as long as they are successful.

      2. lyman alpha blob

        And meanwhile the Democrat party sidles up to Republican war criminals. Must have been the trauma. Maybe Biden will develop a pill for TDS once he cures everyone from the rona.

      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        Trump’s election was a gift from the anti-Sanders Clintocrats. They tilted the mediafield in Trump’s favor in pursuit of their “pied piper strategy”. They conspired to drive Sanders out of the primaries and give us Hillarrhoid instead.

  5. Michael

    Anyone else get an offer from LYFT for cheap and fast oil changes?

    Trying to unsubscribe had a problem, but showed further services offered including batteries, brakes and more!

    By trusted partners too!

    Pretty competitive businesses these, so more VC$$ down the rat hole.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Quite often, I get phone calls and direct mailings about my car warranty. Because, oh my goodness, that warranty is on the verge of expiration!

      Just a couple of minor details: I don’t own a car and I don’t drive.

      1. harrybothered

        Me and my aunt in NY too. Constant spam phone calls about our non-existent car warranties. I bought a used car, and her warranty expired a decade ago. So, AZ, NY, CA – it’s probably a universal scam.

        1. petal

          My laboratory phone would get those all the time, plus the ones for cruises. The phone number was changed recently, so we’ll see how long the peace lasts.

          1. jr

            I once received a robo-call that there is a warrant from “federal agency”, no “a” in front let alone a name, out for me. I ran that by a law enforcement guy I know and he said it’s everywhere.

          2. HotFlash

            Not long, I suspect. The auto-dialers just run through every number — easy if you are an algo. If any response other than “that # is not in service”, that # goes on “call again soon” list. If not, goes on “call again later”

      2. Dr. John Carpenter

        I used to get calls from “Microsoft” telling me of all the viruses my computer had that they would remove, for a fee…except I don’t have a Windows PC. I haven’t gotten a call from Rachel (it was always a name like that) in warranty services about my car in a while. Lots of calls to buy property I don’t own though.

      3. ObjectiveFunction

        In spite of being an expat for nearly 2 decades now, with no immediate plans to return, I have kept my old US cell number alive, mostly on GooglePhone.

        But since mid 2020 I have received an email pretty much every day notifying me of an incoming call. Almost never a VM, but the most recent one was:

        “I’m calling on behalf of [US state] Department of Health to conduct an important study on the health of US Presidents. We will call again in the next few days to conduct the interview….”

        ‘Operators’ are standing by…..

        P.S. that tweet about ‘humanity’ not being able to recreate 16th century civilization is pure PMC fragility. At least 2 billion people live today at a level not too far off that.

  6. Henry Moon Pie

    “Could it be hiding some tissue artifacts from a botched vat decanting?”

    So Zuck’s an Alpha Plus?

    1. Jeromy Grimm

      Zuck was in tissue artifacts, not botched, and not and ‘Alpha Plus’ but strongly indicating a need for immediate ‘removal’ from the Human Genome.

  7. Fiery Hunt

    I believe the Christmas plant is Crown of Thorns….exactly what the carpenter was forced to wear.

    1. juliania

      Yes, it’s an euphorbia. I have several, including a gigantic flowering one. This is so unusual because of the variegation in the flower – beautiful! I have a teeny version – they bloom nonstop if they’re happy.

  8. dcblogger

    What’s Covid?’ Why People at America’s Hardest-Partying Lake Are Not About to Get Vaccinated

    I would prefer stories about cruel employers, like Amazon and meat packing houses, who create conditions for the spread of covid, but yeah, no respect for these parties. 600,000+ people have died of this and most of us have figured out that staying inside, getting vaccinated, and wearing a mask is just common sense.

  9. IM Doc

    About the Joan Walsh/Salon sequence above in the links – about Kay Ivey not being gung-ho about the vaccine.

    As usual, these media types never surprise me any more – what a liar!

    I am getting very tired of the whole blame the unvaccinated trope. Maybe it is me being a physician for 30 years – having been part of numerous epidemics of the flu which were pretty bad in their own right – and having absolutely no one say a word about anyone’s vaccine status. My job is to take care of people where they are – it is not to judge them when they are ill. The media is doing the devil’s work for sure. Psst – guys – it is not working. I am on the front lines – believe me – you are making things much much worse. It is almost like you want a civil war.

    An update for today – I have had a new superspreader event that I am dealing with all morning. So far no one in the hospital – but we are getting close on two different patients. This particular time was a planned event. There were 20 invitees – and part of the condition of coming to the event was all had to be vaccinated. So far we have 12 positives for sure – and 3 more who are sick and likely positive. All fully vaccinated. Again – no one in the hospital. The sick include many 20somethings breakthroughs. Interestingly, many of these people were just vaccinated in the past month in response to being invited to this event. So at least in their bodies, the vaccine has not “had time to wear off” – but positive they are. We even have managed to infect two of the hired staff – both vaccinated. And that was it. There were no others involved. No unvaccinated deplorable to blame. Gee whiz – this virus just does not take the time to read the Salon.com narratives. Multiple others in contact with them are now being tested. I have not had time to deal with the health department yet, but almost assuredly, none of these people will be counted – they are not hospitalized nor are they health care workers.

    We still have just the 1 patient in the hospital who is doing better – and there are no new ones in the ER right now. Still pretty quiet.

    In my old urban core hospital before I moved to this area, the unvaccinated are about 75% of the admissions. The other vaccinated 25% are mostly diabetic, obese or immunocompromised – mostly elderly. Basically, the same crowd that fell victim last year.
    This is the same city whose reddit and twitter feeds are playing one video after another for the past month of multiple gigantic night clubs of all ethnic backgrounds with thousands of people bumping and grinding with no mask in sight. And yet Joan Walsh has the gall to just blame “the unvaccinated” for this situation. There really is no shame – nor is there any medical truths in these proclamations. There are consequences when you put all your eggs in just one basket when dealing with any epidemic. We have NEVER – NOT ONE TIME – deployed this public health strategy in my lifetime.

    I am pretty much telling all my patients right now on every visit – It is clear that these vaccines offer you no immunity from getting COVID. It is literally a flip of the coin. They do seem to at this point make the symptoms less. That is all I am willing to tell them – because I am now reporting truths that I am seeing with my own eyes. Long ago I realized that telling even white lies to patients is never a good strategy. So I do not.

    For those who are at special risk – the elderly, the obese, diabetics, or immunocompromised – all visits are on tele – and I am encouraging them strongly not to leave the house.

    I still strongly feel that high risk patients should be vaccinated – and I go through this multiple times daily.

    For everyone else – out in the sun as much as possible, exercise, lose weight, vitamin D, decrease stress, sleep well, and hug your kids and your spouse as much as you can. Do not , like Joan Walsh and many others like her, be the source of contention and strife.

    Sorry about the rant – it gets harder and harder to stomach the lies.

    Take care and God Bless.

    1. IM Doc

      In my last paragraph – Should have added – For everyone else – vaccination is certainly OK – I am never going to discourage it. But if you do not – get out in the sun, exercise, etc etc.

      This is a decision we are all going to have to make. And I am afraid for all the Joan Walsh types out there that celebrating deaths of unvaccinated patients like I have see in the media repeatedly this past few weeks is unbecoming of a moral person. It is literally ghoulish. And is making things much much worse for those of us trying to do the right things on the front line.

      1. zagonostra

        “This is a decision we are all going to have to make”

        I wish this were the case, but De Blasio and others in a positions of authority are subverting that right, or at least making the decision a choice between feeding our families or not.

        “This work was strictly voluntary, but any animal that absented himself from it would have his rations reduced by half.”

        George Orwell, Animal Farm

        (Thanks for your frontline reporting)

      2. skippy

        @IM Doc …

        As someone that has experienced way too much in one life …. I recommend you breathe …. Sir …. others are counting on it[.]

    2. farragut

      Sorry about the rant – it gets harder and harder to stomach the lies.”

      Sadly, this applies to much of our daily lives today: finance, economics, politics, education, etc.

      Thx for your ‘in-the-field’ updates & insight, Doc; the NC community is fortunate to have your commentary.

    3. John

      I had the one shot J&J vaccine because that is what was on offer when I got an appointment in early March when appointments were hard to come by. The J&J vaccine is not mRNA, but the older vaccine making method. All the commentary I see and read refers to the mRNA vaccines. Are there breakthroughs with J&J? Shall I need a booster shot? I am way over 65 and in generally good health. I walk, garden, take vitamin D, hug the kids and grand kids, and am a fan of IM Doc’s commentary. I would really like to hear from the knowledgeable about the prospects for those of us vaccinated with the J&J jab.

      1. IM Doc

        There are far far fewer people vaccinated with J&J, so with most of the people we are dealing with the other two. But yes indeed, breakthroughs have occurred with J&J that I know of. I just could not even begin to comment on the numbers.

        At this point, I just view people as vaccinated fully, vaccinated partially, or unvaccinated.

    4. ChrisPacific

      My doctor friend shares your reservations. Recently she made the observation that we don’t really have any vaccines for Delta – we have vaccines that were developed and tested for the Wuhan virus, which (she asserts) is now an insignificant component of Covid infections in the wild. What evidence do we have that the vaccines will work against Delta, a strain for which they were not developed and for which no trial data exists? (Let alone any future variants?) Hope, and a bunch of empirical and often contradictory observational data. There is a possibility that the vaccines may still have some effect on variants because of the similarity of the viruses, but it’s not a claim that we ever see about flu vaccines, to give just one example.

      1. cocomaan

        The CDC is recommending that fully vaccinated people wear masks to protect against Delta variant.

        The vaccine just isn’t as effective anymore. It’s got holes in it. 40% effective according to Israel.

        This means that in a year, we’re going to have variants that likely break through the vaccine without an issue, since the virus is not going anywhere.

        It is continuing to mutate. It will always continue to mutate.

      2. rabbitPA

        Actually, I think we do receive such statements regarding the influenza vaccine. Most years the formula is not an exact match to the circulating strain and we are advised of that and encouraged to get the vaccine anyway, as it offers some degree of protection.

    5. Cuibono

      “Do not , like Joan Walsh and many others like her, be the source of contention and strife. ”
      Amen to that !
      Sadly that is what most of this has become about

      1. Dr. John Carpenter

        I was just jumping in here to agree. The celebration of the misfortunes of the unvaccinated is really sickening. The virus and the circus surrounding it has really brought out the worst in a lot of people.

        1. Tom Stone

          People are scared and angry, the unvaccinated deplorables are easy to blame…
          they are the “other”
          This includes my Sister who is both a retired nurse and teacher of nursing, she’s enraged and deeply frightened.
          Frightened for others more than herself.
          Having someone to punish is quite attractive when you are in such an emotional state.

          If only people weren’t so damn human…

          1. IM Doc

            Dr. Walensky’s assertion today was that the virus now has the capability of having as much viral load in the vaccinated as the unvaccinated. She used the word “rare” – but they have used that word in other things this past 18 months that did not end up to be so “rare”. Furthermore, I have heard from other trusted colleagues that this issue is indeed a problem – and the word “rare” never came up in their discussions.

            As I have reported earlier, there has been signal in a few case studies released over the past week that this may be the case – and that indeed the viral load may actually be WORSE in the vaccinated. I am talking about SIGNAL in studies, and not statistical significance because the case numbers in these series is so low. But the patterns are defintely there. And I have seen this same pattern in my very own patients when I have their cT numbers before my eyes in the past few weeks. My own vaccinated self had a cT of 18 when I was COVID positive last week. That is a fairly low cT indicating a fairly large viral load.

            If this is indeed the case, and when that realization really hits the American public, my prediction is there will be hell to pay. We do not know what “scared and angry” has the potential to be.

            Just think about it – the science is giving us at least some signal that the unvaccinated have just as much to fear from the vaccinated as what the media is trumpeting right now about the unvaccinated. Trust me, there is a reason this mask mandate issue is at the forefront again, and it is not just the case numbers.

            This is why I have been urging people to knock it off with all the unvaccinated hatred. That ire may end up being misplaced. We are all in this together. This is completely unbecoming of our country.

            Think even a bit further down the road. We have now vaccinated most of our entire health care system. These workers are in very very close contact with all kinds of patients daily. Masks are better, but certainly not perfect with aerosolized viruses. If this all holds up to be true, these health care workers may be spewing forth all kinds of virus loads in the hospital.

            I do not know about you, but this sounds like a rather potentially explosive situation. I certainly hope this is not the case – but facts must be faced head-on. The hateful rhetoric coming from our media, our politicians, and many of our medical people needs to stop right now. They are just fueling the fire. I truly feel that some of them are doing all they can to start a civil war. I just can no longer fathom what is happening in this country.

            1. Yves Smith

              To be clear, another reader interpreted the same study differently. I am a little nervous about reaching conclusions based on one paper with a very small sample that didn’t point strongly either way. As reader Dean noted:

              The article discusses cT values;

              “CT values were not different according to the immune status: median (interquartile range [IQR] of Ct (RdRp1) = 29 (25-35) for non-immune (n = 3),
              21.5 (18-25) for vaccinated 1 dose (n=6) and 23 [21-27] for vaccinated 2 doses (n = 13), p = 0.15 with median test. For RdRp1: median [IQR] = 28 [25-33] for non-immune (n = 3), 20 [20-23] for vaccinated 1 dose (n = 5) and 23 (21-26) for vaccinated 2 doses (n = 13), p = 0.09 with median test. For N gene: median (IQR) = 32 (30-34) for non-immune (n = 2), 26 (25-28) for vaccinated 1 dose (n = 5), and 27 (26-31) for vaccinated 2 doses (n = 14), p = 0.30 with median test”

              The P values do not show a significant difference. One problem is n is so small it is hard to detect a difference if it exists.

              What I do get is you’ve seen enough cases of high viral loads in the vaccinated in your own hospital to question the party line.

              GM also wondered via e-mail if the causality went the other way:

              Regarding the C_t values — this might be a case of a an inverse causal relationship combined with selection bias.

              For those vaccinated people to end up in the hospital, the infection has to have overwhelmed the antibodies that they have.

              So it might be that it is not the case that vaccinated people have higher viral loads, but that it takes a higher viral load to land a vaccinated person in the hospital than an unvaccinated.

              Obviously, that’s a speculation, but it’s the only way I can see to make sense of that observation (which others have made too). Because prior the vaccinated starting to fill in the hospitals, they had higher C_t values

              … in effect, some vaccinated were getting themselves in high-contagion settings. You as an MD treating sick patients would be exposed to more virus than the average person. Vaccinated people going to crowded bars (where people speak loudly to be heard) could get themselves in a similar position. The CDC basically told vaccinated people to go do stupid stuff en masse.

              1. IM Doc

                Yes – I agree with all you said. The one thing I would point out about the above observation as related to the case study in French Guiana miners – is none of those patients were sick enough to be in the hospital and the pattern still held.

                I will repeat what I have said before. This situation is getting serious. We may not have the luxury for perfect studies. We certainly did not in the AIDS crisis. I know for sure that well-qualified people are looking into this very situation.

                Whatever happens, we must somehow find it in ourselves to stop the blame cannons and start working together as one. Or this is going to get really ugly really quickly.

          2. Dr. John Carpenter

            Tom, sadly, you described what I’ve come to see as “the American Way” for at least as long as I’ve been aware of politics. Keep people scared and angry and ignorant and give them an “other” to blame. More than the virus, this is what I worry about. IM Doc’s comment I think is really on the mark. We have to come together on this, at least as citizens because our government seems content to let us fight amongst ourselves while the world burns.

    6. Jason Boxman

      In this country we’ve lost the capacity to act at a fundamental level. When Medicare was enacted, everyone eligible was enrolled with note cards in a single year. Just one year. With paper! What astounding decay in our technocratic and (mis)leadership class.

  10. marcyincny

    women’s road race: “…a calculation error…” The Dutch riders couldn’t count to five? I have no idea why they were at the back of the peloton when the the breakaway took off but it seems they were hugely over confident.

    1. Glen

      I’m not sure what happens at the Olympics, but the norm in pro cycling is that every rider has a radio, and is constantly in touch with the team coach who can provide the complete race status.

      Believe me (from my amateur racing days), it can be very hard to maintain proper situational awareness if one is going full tilt, and does not have a coach on a radio. I’ve lost track of which lap I was on, and it was only a three lap road race (each lap was 22 miles long.) And the other saying that was somewhat true was “out of sight, out of mind” i.e. get far enough ahead that they cannot see you, and people will forget you are ahead of them.

      1. Chris

        Radios aren’t allowed in the Olympic road race but you’d think they could have asked at the team car when getting bottles.

        1. tegnost

          It’s a dynamic situation, I can easily see it happening. Kudos to Anna Kiesenhofer: Mathematician, amateur cyclist, and Olympic champion. Alexei Grewal anyone?
          I rode up to the peak to peak highway to watch LeMond, Hinault et al flash past only to wind up in two separate groups (at least) trying to find the finish line.
          Breathe with your eyes.

  11. XXYY

    “‘What’s Covid?’ Why People at America’s Hardest-Partying Lake Are Not About to Get Vaccinated”

    Very different from the tone in the major media when, e. g., New York City was a huge “COVID hotspot”, even though that city was similarly filled with partiers, religious fundamentalists assuming God would protect them, and covid deniers at the time. Certainly the coverage then had no levity, eye rolling, or “they brought it on themselves” vibe.

    I don’t get it. We’re witnessing a series of major tragedies here. If people (including reporters) can’t find a way to be compassionate at least STFU.

    1. lakecabs

      I live right by Backwater Jack’s. We love these articles about the lake.

      If you want to have fun where you going to go?

      It’s a shame nobody trust the media anymore.

      If they trusted the media they would vaccinate.

  12. LaRuse

    From AP re the CDC reversing course:

    But with the delta variant, the level of virus in infected vaccinated people is “indistinguishable” from the level of virus in the noses and throats of unvaccinated people, Walensky said.

    In other words, as anyone at NC has known all along, symptomatic or not, the vaccinated are spreading Delta just as much as the unvaxxed.

    I have never stopped masking but nearly everyone around me has. Saturday, I sat in an indoor roller skating rink for 3 hours so my daughter could get some exercise (outdoors in Central VA is not really great for exercise right now). I was one of maybe 10 people masked among 150+ people. I was deeply uncomfortable especially since I am in the one of the bright red “Rapid Riser” counties on that map above.
    So last night, when I popped a low grade fever of 100.1 and developed serious body aches, I was not surprised. I let it run for a couple of hours, then took two advil and slept it off. Today I feel better. If I picked up Delta, I assume my Pfizer vax helped me shrug it off with minimal concerns. It’s probably just as likely I got some other minor bug flying around now. But if I did pick up D, I have two immuno-comped family members (both had Moderna). So now I am watching and waiting to see what comes next.

    1. CloverBee

      Did you get tested? Why or why not?

      We had a similar situation in our house, and opted not to get anyone tested (fairly mild symptoms), because of the associated hassle and because it would highlight the unvaccinated status of an affected family member. We later found out that a family member with whom we had a short outdoor visit came down with it the day after our interaction, and didn’t to tell anyone, because of the associated stigma. Did we have it? I wish I knew, but the social risk was greater than the reward would be.

      Thanks for the great messaging, people are behaving with less caution and sharing less information. The misleadership class is actively making the entire response worse, and will have zero remorse and zero consequences.

      1. LaRuse

        I opted not to get tested because I woke up feeling okay this AM. Still a pretty potent headache, but a single advil knocked that one back. If I had felt bad on waking, I would have tried to get a test but these days, I am not sure who does tests anymore. Maybe my CVS is still doing them? I felt too terrible last night to start at my phone to find a testing source, and hurt too much to sit in my chair long enough to search with the computer. Being vaxxed, I wasn’t sure that CVS would even agree to test me given that overall my symptoms were so mild.
        I am still worried about my family though. Husband is obese, diabetic, and gets a biweekly injection that lowers his immune system. My mom is 66, obese, and on Rheumatoid medications that even more strongly kill her immune system. But I went out of my way NOT to tell my mom about my short lived fever and illness last night because she would instantly fret her way into an illness. So yeah, keeping it quiet and not sharing info played into part of why I didn’t get tested. Hassle and trying to download an app and figure out locations while I was feeling wretched was the other part. I hope I don’t regret skipping the test down the road.

      2. Keith

        Similar here- for me, migraines, shortness of breath, cough, sore throat, etc- similar with household sans the shortness of breath. My girlfriend and I got sick from our daughter who goes to daycare (g/f also had a co-worker diagnosed with COVID, but she said the timing was off). Question was, do we go for the test? Answer was no. If it got bad enough to go to ER, they would administer the test. Short of that, while I still WFH, my girlfriend needs to be able to go to the office or she faces no pay dues due to a lack of sick leave after child birth.

        In the end, what is the incentive to get COVID tested for the individual? Talking about the collective, community, solidarity or whatever trope is out there is all well and good, but in the end, it is my family I need to take care of.

        1. Duke of Prunes

          I heard somewhere that I think was reputable (maybe even here, but no time to find the source) that the CDC is only tracking hospitalizations for the vaccinated, not all cases as with the unvaccinated. Therefore, there seems to be very little reason to get tested if you are vaccinated. Maybe this is by design? Especially since there are no treatment options (except for the one whose name cannot be said) .

      3. Brian Beijer

        and opted not to get anyone tested (fairly mild symptoms), because of the associated hassle

        I believe what you just stated are two of the major underlying factors as to why the number of Covid cases seem to be dropping in the UK. Mild symptoms and the hassle of getting tested.

        Talking about the collective, community, solidarity or whatever trope is out there is all well and good, but in the end, it is my family I need to take care of.

        And this is the third major underlying factor. If Covid has taught us anything, it is that the social contract is dead and it’s every person for themselves.

  13. Keith

    Team Biden now weighing all feds being required to be vaxd. Wonder what penalty will be is refused, termination? Lost retirement benefits? I am vaxd but not happy about having forced medical procedures being a condition of employment, especially rushed and experimental.


    Only fightback to this is to make anyone enforcing these mandates miserable. After all, shouldn’t we have control over our own bodies? Our body our choice?

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      That’s whacking my brain. Could be an inadvertent test of neoliberal nudging, because they would actually have to proactively fire people for refusing. *It’s not like there are hypocritical libertarians in all levels of government employment.* This is like walking into a new PATCO strike.

      When enforcement doesn’t show the ability to enforce, things go all floppy.

      1. Jason Boxman

        Wow, I misread that as “neoliberal mugging” and it still made sense. Long day.

      2. Keith

        I read via a drudge link that people that refuse will require weekly testing and the other covid protocols, which I assume is masking, which means what does this actually mean in substance? Article also cited DOJ is also feldi g questions from employers about forced jobs. Wonder if this more about trial balloons for passports or other segretary type measures being g floated around.

    2. Carolinian

      Alex Berenson is pushing the idea that the vaccines are not really vaccines but therapeutics because they are not sterilizing like other vaccines and are only claimed to reduce symptoms if you do get covid. And legally you can only be forced to get a therapeutic if declared incompetent….a different standard than for vaccines.

      According to him (think this is the thread)


      The danger for Biden is if he makes such an order and it doesn’t change the disease situation one whit. In other words ultimately there is going to be an accounting for bad decisions, particularly if they make the situation worse.

      Biden should stop talking about this. His message discipline is erratic to say the least.

      1. Phillip Cross

        Is there no penalty for him being totally wrong over and over again these last 18 months?

        Why is he still getting brought up, like he is anything but an attention seeking troll?

        1. Carolinian

          Perhaps you are referring to this which does indeed deliver the party line, describing the vaccines as “marvels”


          Of course it’s not just Berenson who is doubting such an ironclad statement. And there’s evidence he may be on to something starting with the fact that Pfizer is already talking about booster shots as Israel now claiming only 39 percent effectiveness.

          As for the Fox connection, I never watch it and know nothing about that.

          What I do know is that we are early into this. The vaccines have only be administered for six months so there’s no possible way we can know for sure what will be true six months from now or whether there will be additional complications. And that is ironclad.

      2. Yves Smith

        Berenson is out over his skis.

        The flu vaccine isn’t sterilizing either.

        The Covid vaccines were never expected to be sterilizing because Covid is a respiratory virus. We wrote about that when the vaccines were under development.

      3. Procopius


        … ultimately there is going to be an accounting for bad decisions, …

        Hahahahaha, you make the comedy.

    3. VietnamVet

      This is getting weird. My old Office was so trumped down that if and when they get back into the cubicles, the leftovers will be all together in the DC headquarters. The Delta variant is reportedly postponing the reopening. So, Joe Biden is telling Feds to get vaccinated while working at home. That won’t go over well with those who have not been jabbed by now. Zooming with vaccine side effects.

      I have this feeling that the working staff still in contact with the real world is so hunkered down that the truth no longer makes it up the chain of command.

  14. Jeff W

    “…I can’t find the original usage” [re “tax on time”]

    I believe it’s here.

    (I do recall Corey Robin making the point that “In the neoliberal utopia, all of us are forced to spend an inordinate amount of time keeping track of each and every facet of our economic lives.”)

    1. shtove

      Hito Steyerl on the Terror of Total Dasein in 2015 – it’s not Heidegger’s concept of “being there”, but the deliberate jumbling and clashing of timetables for the artist’s unrewarded on-call presence, demanded for the purpose of fake authenticity:

  15. Sub-Boreal

    The “time tax” isn’t just levied by governments. As I was recently reminded in dealing with a phone billing problem, the corporate sector is no slouch either!

    The phone co. in my province has its customer support cunningly designed to ensure that you will never come in contact with a living human. Instead, you get fobbed off on chatbots, web pages (which gave me 2 different versions of my account number differing by 1 digit), and phone menus which make it almost impossible to deal with a non-standard problem. All of which eats up minutes and hours.

    And there’s yet another layer of evil in corporate time taxes. If you’re stuck on hold, they won’t just shut up or play Muzak in the background, but instead they interrupt you every 30 seconds with an advertisement, or a reassurance that our call is important to them – which means that you can’t manage to focus on another task while you’re waiting.

    And why did I have to deal with the phone co.?

    Well, the particular type of credit card that I held from the largest credit union in British Columbia was being discontinued at the end of May, and I had to rearrange all of the automatic billings that had been linked to it. Curiously, while trying to get a replacement credit card, I accidentally discovered a web page which reassured corporate cardholders that THEIR cards weren’t being discontinued. Thanks, Vancity Credit Union for sticking up for the little guy!

    Altogether, this busywork ate up about a day of my time in late May / early June. Thanks to the pandemic, I was working at home, and had the flexibility to deal with this crap during regular business hours. Anyone with different work arrangements would be hooped.

    1. Keith

      I like to think I can collect my own time tax, like say, when I am reading and commenting on NK while on the employer’s dime :)

    2. Jen

      Had to rent a car about a month ago when I went to DC for my uncle’s memorial service. Picking up/dropping off at Union Station. Neither Hertz, nor Avis, nor Budget had any information about after hours drop off on their websites, but lo-and-behold, they each listed a “local number” on their websites.
      So I called. First I get the obligatory “all of our agents are busy helping other customers” spiel. They the automated message asks me a bunch of questions, to which I dutifully reply. Finally, I get to “thank you, we will transfer you to the next available operator.” And then I get disconnected.

      All three companies, exact same message, process and result. For information that should be on their flipping website. Because if you really don’t want to engage with your customers, the way to do it is to make sure they have no need to engage with you.

    3. jr

      Spent 10 minutes on the phone today with unemployment, trying to find a human, had to follow the same torturously designed menu three times only to be told none were available and hung up on. No callback available. The intentionality is crystal clear.

    4. Mildred Montana


      Well, since you brought up the subject of Vancity Credit Union, I thought I’d pile on.

      A year-and-a-half ago I opened up a new savings account with them at an interest rate of 1.8%. When I opened the account I was given no pamphlet listing fees nor did the credit union employee advise me of any. As a 20-year customer with all no-fee accounts I automatically assumed this one was too.

      Foolish me. After a year of using the account I discovered serendipitously that they were dinging me $5(!) for every ATM transaction or cash withdrawal. (I confess to not paying a lot of attention to my bank accounts.)

      So I paid a visit to my local branch. More bad news. Not only was the fee correct but they had reduced the interest rate on my “savings” account to 0.05%. From 1.8% to nothing in a year.

      I figure my trust–that the account was no fee, that the interest rate was a reasonable approximation of what it would be in the future–cost me somewhere between $500 and $1000.

      Banking is a racket. Even mobsters would be ashamed.

      1. Sub-Boreal

        I haven’t lived anywhere near Vancouver for 30 years, but kept my credit card with Vancity more out of sentimentality than anything else; they’d given me my first mortgage, and somehow my memories of a good decade in that city softened my head.

        The pattern set by Mtn Equipment Co-op’s transition — from member-controlled to owned by a hedge fund — seems to have become the model for the rot and crapification of initially promising alternatives to mainstream corporate structures.

        And then there’s end of Sask Wheat Pool, and the disgusting spectacle of Federated Co-op bringing in scabs to run their oil refinery in Regina.

        All rather sad. What would the old CCFers think … ?

      2. Carla

        @Mildred Montana — That’s why Bill Black wrote a book called “The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One.”

        And yes, sadly, credit unions are now just as bad as all the other banks. Damn it.

  16. Darthbobber

    Question that occurred to me reading water cooler last night, but I didn’t post it until later than most people reply on WC.

    The chart on vaccine administration by region would appear to indicate that for almost as long as we’ve had the vaccines, the number of vaccines administered in the south has been higher than in other regions pretty consistently. Yet when we see cumulative results (percentage of population fully vaccinated), the status of the southern states seems not to reflect this.

    What am I missing or misinterpreting?

    The rapid rise map reflects what I’d expect. Population concentrations with wealthy mobile populations and also crowded poor populations seem to almost uniformly have gone red.

    1. Larry y

      91-DIVOC vaccination by region graph isn’t normalized by population. % of population fully vaccinated is normalized by population.

      I can’t verify it, but I’m pretty sure US-South has a larger population.

  17. Lee

    Consistent with rising case rates elsewhere, Alameda county (Pop. 1.7 million), with 52% fully and 64% partially vaccinated, had just 455 new cases over the two weeks ending 6/19. Our current cumulative two week new case total is up to 3037. It’s beginning to look like deja vu all over again, hopefully with lower death and post-viral morbidity rates this time around. Always the optimist, me.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I cannot respond to your comment without upsetting too many assumptions of rationality in the US response to the Corona plague.

      Always remember — “everything is for the best in the best of all possible worlds” … like our world.

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      It’s the Groundhog Day thing that is grinding my gears. Last year I was figuring on five years of leaders telling me that the end is next month and saying ‘It’s all over, go shopping and commute up some gas taxes’. Now I’m chiding myself for not picking a decade.

      Sure hope nothing like a new cholera or smallpox shows up while we are failing at this.

  18. PlutoniumKun

    Re: Anna Keisenhoffer.

    It was an amazing victory, but not unprecedented – there have been plenty of occasions in the past in cycling events when relative nobodies scored victories because the stronger riders/teams just miscalculated. Most rouleurs (the term used for riders who can ride hard for long periods) will at some time gamble on a breakaway every now and again, and sometimes it succeeds. Keisenhoffer is a specialist time trialist without a team, so it made sense for her to go hard and strong and try to get lucky.

    I used to follow cycling avidly – less so these days so I’m not sure what the mavens are saying. But to summarise what seems to have happened:

    First off, to understand what makes cycling different from running – basic aerodynamics. Riding behind another rider or in a group gives a major aerodynamic advantage to any rider. There is also a small aerodynamic loss if someone is tailing you (‘sucking wind’). So of course there is no motivation to be at the front of a bunch. This is where teams come in. The strongest teams will attempt to set a pace that suits their main rider. If their main rider is a specialist sprinter, then they keep it as slow as possible. If their main rider is a strong steady pace rider, then they try to push the pace to burn off everyone elses sprinters. If you are don’t have a strong contender, then you either work with other teams to see if you can at least get a place, or you try to break things up to see if by spoiling things for the strong teams, you can sneak a win.

    The Olympics is unusual in that team radios are not allowed. The Dutch team was by far the strongest – their four riders are arguably among the 10 best, so you would expect them to have full control of the race to favour their best rider (probably by pushing a fairly hard pace). They should have picked a rider among them to go for gold and ride exclusively for her, but if rumours are right, they couldn’t agree, so they decided to ride for each other and see how the race panned out (this isn’t all that unusual, sometimes a team will change leader mid-ride according to how the race is going). But it could be an indication of why they managed the race so badly.

    The race seems to have gone a bit chaotic, and the Dutch women simply lost count of how many riders were ahead of them and when they pulled them in, they thought they’d pulled them all in, not realising Anna was ahead of them. In a European race, they’d have had the crowd screaming at them how far ahead she was. But I guess nobody in Japan thought to do that. The fact that none of the other riders pointed it out to them may be significant. In the London Olympics the arrogant behaviour of the British team so p**ssed off so many other teams that they deliberately stymied them, leading to another shock result (a Kazakh rider beat the combined British team of two Tour de France winners and the best sprinter in the world, Mark Cavendish). I wonder if the Dutch similarly found themselves isolated.

    Whichever way you look at it, the Dutch really screwed up, but in the chaos of a ride when nobody (crowd or fellow riders) are giving any verbal help, then maybe its understandable.

    One thing I haven’t seen is any analysis of the speed and wattage outputs. These would tell whether the Dutch were riding a little ‘within’ themselves as they focused on tactics rather than speed.

    If it turns out that the Dutch riders did actually ride to their maximum potential, then this does raise other questions. It was reported after the event that Keisenhoffer used her mathematical skills to calculate her performance better than anyone else. If this is the claim, its BS of the highest order. You can get any number of training software aids that can do that for even an amateur on a low budget, the science behind it is very well established. I’m hoping that she didn’t claim that, because if she did, and it turns out she genuinely rode faster than the Dutch women were capable of, then it raises certain suspicions. Plenty of people have been wondering if Covid gave perfect cover to athletes to ‘prepare’ better without WADA knocking on their doors unexpectedly. I really hope this isn’t the case here, only an analysis of her wattage outputs will show one way or another.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        After posting the above, my own curiosity was piqued so I went to look at some forums where there are some pretty knowledgable posters. I read one ‘live’ blog where everyone was discussing the race as it happens (its always useful to see what people say without the benefit of hindsight). At the beginning, the only discussion was which Dutchie would get the gold and whether anyone else had even a chance of bronze.

        I can’t find if anyone has access to, or has number crunched the data, but the overall consensus does seem to be that the peloton was just too slow because nobody was willing to consistently force the pace. Kiesenhoffer did what any TT specialist with no team and little experience of group riding would do – try to get ahead early, put your head down, and hope for the best. 99 out of a 100 times it won’t work, but thats still a better chance than just hanging in the peloton hoping the top 10 riders all have a bad day. She wasn’t alone in trying it, but she was the only one who paced it correctly.

        I think a confounding factor that the Dutch didn’t take account of was Japanese inexperience of hosting a race like this. In a European race there would be split times available for the riders, and if not, supporters in the crowd would be shouting numbers to riders as they pass.

        But the overall consensus is that the Dutch blew it big time, and it was probably due to egos. None of the four seemed willing to sacrifice for the others and without radios there was no way for a coach to lay down the law mid-race. I suspect the other teams were happy to add to their confusion as it was to their advantage.

        I’ve not seen any indications that Keisenhoffers performance was suspicious in terms of power output. She rode bravely and wisely and got lucky, so she more than deserves the gold.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Got curious myself after reading your comment and came across one interesting page discussing what happened. Not sure if I like the idea of members in a crowd acting as unofficial support staff. That would open up the way for favouritism or maybe misleading numbers shouted to other riders. Anyway, here is that page-


          Meanwhile Anna Kissenhofer is already back home in Austria and looking forward to catching up on some rest.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            Yes, I think that article sums it up. Given that so many of the riders have given contradictory accounts we’ll never know for sure, the only thing thats clear is that nobody was talking to the Dutch and the Dutch don’t seem to have been communicating well with each other either.

            In the old days, before race radios and other electronic gizmos, it was normal for the crowds to shout information to riders they supported. Knowing the time you are behind a break out is vital information to any rider. A lot of people wish they’d ban a lot of the new technology, it would make this sort of race more common.

            One thing they have banned recently is live blood sugar monitors (yes, this is now a thing). Its argued that managing your food intake is a ‘skill’ that riders should have, they don’t want the bike computer telling the riders when they should take the next gel. Riders already know exactly how many watts they are generating at any one time.

  19. FluffytheObeseCat

    “….Backwater Jack’s is, well, a backwater. None of its patrons brought Delta to this country, for example. That was done by air travel — just as in the first peak, where the virus entered through JFK and spread”

    You actually think weekend vacationers in Arkansas have never gotten on an international flight? Never come back from a tour of duty abroad? Never returned from a few weeks or months of missionary work in Taiwan, or somewhere far more remote?

    Come on. They aren’t that disconnected from the rest of America. They aren’t chewing on hay and driving mule drawn wagons there anymore. Except at theme parks. The most likely reason the long time main locus of the delta variant in the US was a ring of counties around Branson, MO was because heartland sentimentalists travel nearly as much as coastal PMCs. They just do so for different reasons.

    1. super extra


      I have family in this area and it is a major regional tourist area for the local gentry. Also Bentonville (Walmart’s company town and wealthiest zip in Arkansas) is an hour from the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. Quite a few private airstrips in the area make up for the fact that Bentonville municipal only flies domestic.

  20. PlutoniumKun

    Mr. Market: “China Stock Rout Spreads Amid Fears of Foreign Investor Exodus” [Bloomberg]. “

    This exodus of investors may well be part of a deliberate policy for China. They’ve been struggling to hold the RNB down due to massive capital inflows during Covid, they’ve been trying to find some way to reverse this without damaging the economy. Whether deliberate or not, having investors leave may burn some domestic investors, but in macro terms its good for China. it doesn’t need that foreign currency and better to have foreign cash leaving than domestic cash leaving (i.e. domestic investors sneaking money out for safe havens). China doesn’t actually need foreign investors, if anything it has too much speculative cash in its system.

    The big loser in this could be the US. Far too much cash is flowing into Wall Street as a safe haven. As investment is very low, this can only do one thing – boost the profits of rentiers by pushing up property and stock values even higher.

  21. Robert Hahl

    “Kleene’s work was later expanded upon by such luminaries as linguist Noam Chomsky.”

    Can somebody explain with an example what Noam Chomsky actually taught us about language?

      1. Robert Hahl

        Ok if that is best one can do. What I really want though, is a lesson about language, let’s say the English language, just to pick a case.

        1. Robert Hahl

          What I’m getting at is, hearing people talk about Chomsky’s work reminds me of String Theory; all theory, no strings. Give.me a practical piece of advice about language that you learned from Chomsky.

          1. R

            See below for a digression into computer science. Chomsky influenced several key founders of the field.

            From wikipedia on Chomsky:
            ACM Turing Award winner Donald Knuth credited Chomsky’s work with helping him combine his interests in mathematics, linguistics, and computer science.[271] IBM computer scientist John Backus, another Turing Award winner, used some of Chomsky’s concepts to help him develop FORTRAN, the first widely used high-level computer programming language.[272] Immunologist Niels Kaj Jerne’s 1984 Nobel lecture applied Chomsky’s generative grammar theory to the immune response process.[273]

            Also, not forgetting the best joke in linguistics:

            Nim Chimpsky, a chimpanzee who was the subject of a study in animal language acquisition at Columbia University, was named after Chomsky in reference to his view of language acquisition as a uniquely human ability.[270]

          2. PHLDenizen

            How to build programming language compilers. His hierarchy of formal language grammars is incredibly useful for understanding how they work.

          3. Lee

            Language is an innate, universally shared human capability is all I know of his theory of language. I’m more familiar with his writings on U.S. support of third world fascism and the like. This is in spite of living in a political collective with his daughter back in the day and him coming over for dinner and conversation from time to time. I have a vague recollection of the evenings of group discussion as being brilliant but as to just what was said and by whom I cannot recall.

    1. R

      The regular expressions article was bizarre. Regular expressions are intimately connected with finite state machines, which were not discussed, and through them to the whole idea of computation using serial instructions and a register to hold state, I.e. all modern digital CPUs. Computer science did not forget about regular expressions in some mythical dark age. Indeed, compiler theory (the branch of CS that deals with translating higher level programming languages into, ultimately, binary instructions for the CPU) has never been about much else.

      A finite state machine is an imaginary box which can exist in one or more states and can move between them depending on one or more inputs. Optionally, it could have outputs. The regular expression is the program or rather the shorthand for some/all possible well-formed ones. If a language is specified in terms of rules (a computer language – real languages gave too many rules) you can imagine the finite state machine as being able to accept a regular expression character by character and, after each character, it moves to a different state which corresponds to it expecting a new character according the rules of the regular expression. If it receives the wrong character, it moves to a failure state.

      This FSM / regex idea is behind all the work on symbolic representations of language just as much as it was behind the neural network ideas. The neural network people just thought that pattern matching on a large dataset would specify a FSM that could parse language better than laboriously declaring all the rules to it. And they were right, just too early given the computing power available.

      Indeed, regex/FSM underlies computation: the famous Turing machine thought-experiment of a computer moves backwards and forwards over an infinite tape of symbols one at a time and, despite having a very limited range if states it can adopt in series based on the inputs, is capable of general purpose computation. Whether for certain problems a Turing machine will halt in finite time is a fundamental question, with ramifications for mathematical logic / positivism (Gödel’s undecideability theorem) and cryptography (searching for large prime numbers etc.).

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      An excellent question. Chomsky for me … made me question the special qualities of being human. The patterns of Chomsky grammars reliaby described the world I encountered and raised questions I had not previously considered — how do humans differ from other creatures?

      For me the unprovability theorems about context-free grammars were seminal. It took years for me to grasp … and feel — that is most important to me, … the full weirdness of the grammar strings that came with the Post Correspondence proof for deciding the intersection of context-free grammars.

      That weirdness of those Post correspondence strings remains a craw in my throat. I am certain the proof is correct, but something has bothered from before the time I understood that proof. I feel there is something more, something lost, though I can neither give it scope nor substance.

      1. Robert Hahl

        Well I must say that you lost me shortly after “An excellent question,” but never mind, because this reminds me of a story. Around 1977, two mathematicians published a paper claiming they had proved the four color map theorem using computer methods involving examination of about 1,100 cases of something or other, and Scientific American wrote it up.

        One of the authors was speaking in Manhattan, so I and two friends from college took the PATH train from Hoboken to hear him talk. The mid-size lecture hall was packed with at least 200 people. There were several polite questions at the end. Then a wiry old man stood up in the back row and said, “I read your paper and listened to your talk now, and I heard your coauthor speak in Buffalo last month, and I STILL don’t know what you are talking about.”

        And everyone in the room made a sound – a relived sigh – the same sound. Maybe that was universal grammar.

    3. witters

      Well, weirdly enough, I was taught Transformational Grammar (which, unlike, “traditional” grammar, I could actually get my head around) at a Tasmanian Catholic High School in the mid 1970s. It was nice, finally, to get good marks.

  22. Jeremy Grimm

    >“New Study Finds That Crows Are So Intelligent…”
    Zero … what about negative numbers? WAIT! What about imaginary numbers? If crows get past those, I will have to stop thinking or start asking crows for better explanations of imaginary numbers and their place in simulations.

  23. Skip Intro

    The ‘Tax on Time’ concept echoes Ivan Illich’s Shadow Work, unpaid labor that is part of an industrial economy.

  24. kareninca

    “CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said that when earlier strains of the virus were dominant, infected vaccinated people were found to have low levels of virus in their nose and throats and were deemed unlikely to spread the virus. That has changed with the delta variant, where Walensky said the level of virus in infected vaccinated people is “indistinguishable” from the level of virus in infected unvaccinated people.”

    I figured this would be the case after some time for mutation. Maybe there will be less moralizing about vaccination, and more mask wearing, as people come to understand that vaccination is not now cutting transmission, at least per the CDC. Of course Welensky has been wrong in the past; the article does not provide a link to a study, so maybe it is not true.

  25. The Rev Kev

    “Commissioners reject ballot marking devices in voting machine contract for Shelby County”

    If I read this right, it is about the money. The Election Commission is demanding that Shelby County buy computerized voting equipment – but wants Shelby County to actually pay for it. Come to think of it, I have never seen a study mentioning the full end-to-end costs of using these machines. Buying them would just be the start. You would need contracts to train staff how to deploy and use those machines, servicing contracts, repair contracts, replacement contracts, you would need to deploy them to voting stations in sufficient numbers for voters but then you would have to put them in safe storage when they are not being used. Then there are updates, IT security for those machines, teaching actual voters how to use them. And I have bet that there are all sorts of costs that I have not even mentioned such as the electricity just to run them. Hmmm. Maybe there is a reason that a cost analysis has no been done on these machines. Certainly Election Systems & Software won’t ever publish one.

    1. Carla

      And just think, hand-marked paper ballots tallied in public is all we really need. Amazing, isn’t it?

  26. Amfortas the hippie

    “Now do negative numbers.”
    cool enough already/
    i have 2, a male and a female Narragansetts, turkeys that think that i’m their momma.
    associative behavior
    me=grasshopper breakfast
    i know from long experience that “wild” turkeys are smart…smart as a whip, in fact…and that the more domesticated breeds, with more meat, are dumb as rocks(“look at the rain and drown” is a real phenomenon…i’ve seen it!)
    these two will grow up, and attract actually wild turkeys into my flock…hence the still-under-constructin Turkey House with teh 12′ tall Run/Aviary.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      and: observation while out in the world.
      folks in San Antonio…at least the Medical Center area i’m already fluent with, are wearing masks, again…prolly 70%.(definitely more often than not)
      this is up… a lot.
      from a week ago

    2. johnnyme

      I can attest to the smarts of wild turkeys. I once experienced a wild turkey shakedown on the mean streets of Minneapolis.

      Near where I work in the heart of the city, there are some green spaces that wild turkeys have started frequenting in the past few years.

      One day, as I was walking back from the nearby Chipotle and eating my burrito, I see a wild turkey on the sidewalk about 50 feet ahead. Not wanting to disturb it, I decide to cross the street and use the other sidewalk. The turkey also decides to cross the street, intercepts me and stops me in my tracks. Well, since it’s not every day I get to stand a few feet away from a beautiful wild animal in the middle of the city, I take a few moments to admire it and talk to it while continuing to eat my burrito. At one point, some of the contents of my burrito spill out and land at my feet and the turkey proceeds to chow down and I am now finally allowed to pass.

      This critter saw me, pegged me as an easy target and was determined to get a cut of my burrito.

      About a month ago, on my way to do some early morning plantidoting for Lambert in a different part of town, I was followed by another turkey for more than a city block. Probably smelled the clif bar in my pocket.


  27. Colin

    “Lightfoot doubles down on decision to exclusively take interviews from people of color”

    We taxpayers are doubling down on our decision to not get permits from the racist Chicago Building Department and to exclusively pay contractors in cash. In addition, we will jam every Goldman Sachs owned parking meter we park at with a tab top, or some other manner of junk that does the job.

    Chicago, the City of Big Shudders

    1. Verifyfirst

      Parking meter in Chicago…..they don’t use the old meters you can jam up anymore.

      Lightfoot also said recently that 99% of the criticism of her was due to her race and/or gender.

      The point of posting a photo of her and her wife is…..what exactly?

  28. Amfortas the hippie

    and regarding this:
    (sorry for my luddite link)
    “I’m serious. Who even has the knowledge of how to melt iron ore to make the first spinning Jenny’s?”

    well, I do…for one.
    I know how to do that.
    “mine” it from the dump, let us render some crap wood and woody weeds into charcoal, and we’ll have a go….
    got all the shit to do that in my shop/on-site.

    “all i want for christmas is the means of production.”=west wall of that shop.

    1. The Rev Kev

      (For what its worth, in a link like that just chop everything off at and after the first question mark.) But we wouldn’t need aliens to do this to us. One good Carrington Event would do a number on us. Then we would discover that we do not have the tools to make the tools to make the tools to make what we need. At least we have repositories of knowledge in libraries to fall back on. Unless it is one of those libraries that have gotten rid of books on manual arts to make more space for a second copy of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ that is.

    2. a fax machine

      Most of society is not smart enough to realize that libraries keep existing after they graduate, and that libraries preform functions other than summer reading and book reports. Some of this is the fault of librarians, who are often reluctant to argue for a strong, in-depth and technical textbook department as such books are both expensive and seldom used. Likewise, many modern textbooks are designed for professional academic exams and not practical use; this is especially notable with Electronics and non-programming computer IT books I’ve encountered. Same for the entire idea of buying a book, let alone a textbook, as such things are not sold at most retail stores. Even Barnes & Noble’s in-store textbook selection is extremely lacking… their engineering shelf is maybe ~80 books, most of which are For Dummies (respectable in it’s own right, but not much diversity going on). A classic example: go try and find a book IRL on car/truck repair that includes an explanation of gear ratio calculations, or an electronics book that explains what a mil-foot is. Both of these are relegated to Goodwill, Home Depot (ironically, their electrical guide is the only non-Home Depot published book for sale in the entire store), used book stores and the Internet.

      Back on topic: these are the sort of people that can’t change their own tires or jump a car. Or alternatively, they can’t figure out how to make a transfer from a train to a bus that is not pre-booked. End result is Uber, where they just press a button and the world adapts to them. If Twitter were to go down they’d have no friends, and if the Internet goes out they would legitimately be lost as they lack paper maps or physical address books. Probably no money either, given how phones can be used as credit cards now.

      1. Eustachedesaintpierre

        The fellas at the Bronze foundry I use in Dublin would know how to deal with any metal, as would many others like them in small independent set-ups using very minimal tech. Myself & a friend had plans to open our own using d-i-y methods developed for Africa, but Lehman, AIG etc ruined that dream.

        I love the smell of foundry wax in the morning.

        1. a fax machine

          Most jewellers, welders and machinists must know their metallurgy and casting inside and out in order to be successful. Same for most electronics repair, especially complicated things involving electroplating. Most people will see a jeweller once in their life and never ever have to hire a welder or machinist – any job that requires such work (often cars) is better taken as scrap and replaced with a new product. This is a result of mass production and the deluge of cheap disposable crap that makes repair work less commonplace. Suppose we get to fully modular cars and buildings by the end of the century; if your house sustains damage in a fire you’d just throw out the modular units affected and replace them with newer ones. Or not, if you’re poor.

  29. Amfortas the hippie

    “Moderna is currently shipping vaccine as it makes it, which means it has no extra stock in storage to smooth over these types of temporary supply interruptions,”

    the eggs you get in the store came out of a chickens ass(“vent”) as long as a year ago.
    eggs keep really well.
    if stored/handled properly.
    chickens go through a couple of Molt periods, where they stop laying, each year…generally winter and the hottest part of summer.
    historically, egg ranchers would save up eggs so as to have a stockpile to get them through these periods….ie: have a more or less constant supply.
    there’s abundant science behind this practice…so don’t freak out about yer omelette.
    most important step in the whole process is getting the eggs and washing them quickly, and sticking them in a fridge.

    1. Eggs Ackley

      Of course in Europe it’s done quite differently and the membrane that is scrubbed off the shell here is left intact allowing the eggs to be stored unrefrigerated for considerable time. The stores don’t keep them refrigerated. You might think, “eeww membrane” but the eggs look just the same to me.

  30. Jason Boxman

    Liberal Democrat “vaccine shaming” continues apace. And not one mention of blacks in the entire article: “As Virus Cases Rise, Another Contagion Spreads Among the Vaccinated: Anger“. And no mention of why someone might legitimately decline vaccination at this time. None.

    It’s odd there’s no such righteous indignation over universal healthcare, the lack of which surely kills thousands annually and bankrupts many more.

    I wonder if there will ever come a point when blacks tell Democrat politicians to pound sand?

    1. a fax machine

      We know exactly that point. It’s when Democrats tell them to get vaccinated. Many will not for the same reasons many white people won’t. Note the picture Gov. Ivy created for her vaccine PR picture, and how she is sitting in front of a very large sign displaying the hospital’s name as a Baptist hospital. That’s the wavelength we are working with here – many will refuse the shot on strictly religious grounds or refuse it unless it’s provided by a non-secular healthcare provider as Gentrified Healthcare (for the lack of a more proper, suitable term) is associated with drug tests, ID carding, debt and potential police involvement. Churches still hold peoples’ trust, and this is the only place many would consider getting a vaccine. Which is precisely why vaccine shaming doesn’t work for the same reasons religious people cannot sell god to an atheist. Democrats will learn this lesson the hard way as problems mount rolling into the midterms and ’24.

      I’d further argue that such a point is reached whenever Democrats try to ban Menthol cigarettes by framing it as a black people problem, which merely encourages black people to smoke it for the same reasons Democrats trying to ban guns by framing it as a white people problem encourages whites to buy guns.

    2. Jason Boxman

      And from Biden today:

      Asked by a reporter on Tuesday whether he would require vaccinations for the nation’s nearly two million federal workers, Mr. Biden was blunt.

      “That’s under consideration right now,” he said, adding, “But if you’re not vaccinated, you’re not nearly as smart as I thought you were.”

      Excellent messaging!

      Biden Weighs Vaccine Mandate for Federal Workers

    3. kareninca

      And no comment section for the article, naturally. So none of your points can be made in the public eye.

      They really want to stoke hatred; that is their goal.

  31. Brunches with Cats

    Beautiful milkweed photo with the “red spot.”

    The reason SC and others may be having difficulty finding purple milkweed seeds is that it’s categorized as extirpated, threatened, or a species of concern in 11 Eastern states where its range overlaps with common milkweed. A 2019 study published by a SUNY Cortland researcher described purple milkweed as a species in decline and cited hybridization with common milkweed as the main suspect. He concluded that for purple milkweed to be restored, it needs to be kept far away from common milkweed.

    That said, there’s a purpose to common milkweed’s “weedy” and “invasive” habits — descriptions that unfortunately are repeated so often that they’re taken as a given without any thought as to how this might serve the Monarch population or whether it’s even true. There are many wildflowers that, when allowed to naturalize, take over entire fields. However, they’re rarely called “weedy,” but described in terms such as “prolific self-seeder” or “easy to grow.” In fact, common milkweed is not all that easy to grow until it has a year or two to establish the robust underground root system that so terrifies uninformed home gardeners. Until recently, I bought into that myth, too, but now that my own milkweed patch is in its third year, I’ve seen how easy it is to keep them in check.

    As for the “weedy” purpose, consider that Monarchs prefer to lay one egg per plant — that’s one egg per plant, not per leaf. Only a fraction of those eggs survive. Of those that do, a significant percentage of caterpillars die within the first few days. Some die upon their first bite of a milkweed leaf, drowned by the gush of latex that spurts from the cut.

    There’s no question at this point that Monarchs prefer common milkweed, although the reason is an ongoing research topic, likely to do with varying levels of toxins in the different species of milkweed. The complex relationship between Monarchs and milkweeds has been evolving for hundreds of millions of years, and it seems to me that humans ought not to try to outwit nature.

    For more on the topic, I highly recommend “Monarchs and Milkweed,” by Cornell professor Anurag Agrawal, one of the world’s leading Monarch researchers. Even if milkweeds aren’t your thing, it’s a fascinating introduction to the relatively new field of chemical ecology (the first course ever offered was at Cornell in 1968).

    1. Brunches with Cats

      Forgot to link to the book:

      And, by the way, Agrawal doesn’t think planting milkweed in backyard gardens is helping the Monarch population. He encourages people to do it anyway, as a way to get more in touch with nature, but sees the notion that it’s “for the Monarchs” as just feel-good fantasy. I recently read a WSJ article about a trend in home gardening toward incorporating patches of flowering weeds into the design to attract more pollinators. Surprisingly, they singled out common milkweed as a top contender rather than any of the new “prettier” and “less weedy” hybrids being developed by commercial nurseries to capitalize on a growing market.

    2. Samuel Conner

      I was wondering whether Common and Purple can hybridize — I’m doing exactly the wrong thing in having both in my garden :( . That might help to explain the pale color of the blossoms on the Purple plants grown from a trustworthy seed source this year. The small seed pods that are starting to form appear to be smooth rather than prickly, suggesting that these are indeed Purple. That they grew vigorously and blossomed within months of the beginning of cold treatment might be another tell; my Common did not bloom until the 2nd year.

      My original Common patch is spreading underground in all directions and I’m starting to dig up the distal rhizomes for distribution to contacts who want this plant.

      1. Brunches with Cats

        The SUNY Cortland study might help you with your project, Mr. Conner. Here’s the link:

        Among other things, the study determined that the leaves of hybrids more resemble those of common milkweed, while the flowers more resemble those of purple milkweed. They also tried to determine whether the hybrid populations in the wild are themselves a threat to purple milkweed. The study goes into excruciating detail that’s way over the heads of most lay readers, myself included. However, since you’ve been making observations in your own milkweed lab, I reckon you’ll not only know what it’s talking about, but that it might fill in some knowledge gaps for you. Heck, you might even want to email the lead researcher, Steven Broyles. These guys tend not to get much publicity and are elated when someone has actually read their study. Maybe you’ll even have something to contribute to the ongoing research.

        I’ve had several requests for milkweeds for home gardens in and around my village. People are shy about wandering into some farmer’s field to dig them up. Not that that’s even the best way to do it, as one of milkweed’s impressive survival mechanisms is a brittle stalk base that breaks right off if you try to pull one up or even dig a little for it. And in fact, that’s one of the two ways I’ve managed to keep my small patch in check. Even six-footers can be yanked out of the ground with little effort.

        The second method also appears to be a survival mechanism, but it’s just my theory, based on observation. As you mention, common milkweed comes up later in the spring. By that time, other perennials in my garden are maturing, including a thick border of lemon thyme and Creeping Jenny, both of which could be described as aggressive spreaders. I know that the milkweed root system is underneath them, and yet not a single shoot has poked through. Also, I once commented that I wouldn’t plant them near a foundation, but I’ve seen them up against several houses here, and they aren’t coming up between foundation stones or splitting the siding. My working theory is that common milkweed needs sunlight, above all, and it either can’t or won’t break through soil where other plants are blocking the sun. Now, I concede that might be a peculiarity of my garden, which doesn’t get much sun at all until late spring, and even then, only a fraction of it gets more than three hours a day. The sunniest spot is reserved for milkweeds.

        I thoroughly enjoy your “purple prose” and look forward to your next update!

        1. Samuel Conner

          Thank you! I’m starting into it now. As many others have said, NC commenters are the best!

          1. Brunches with Cats

            You’re welcome! My only beef with Broyles is that he perpetuates the “weedy and invasive” view of common milkweed. IMNSHO, common milkweed suffers from a PR problem, starting with the dual negatives of “common” and “weed” in its name. Imagine if it was called “Monarch plant” or “Milky Globe Flower” or something like. Continual reinforcement of its less desirable traits, especially by an authority such as Broyles, makes it sound like kudzu on steroids. The more home gardeners who are willing to try it, the better it will be for pollinators — and it attracts many besides Monarchs (which actually are lousy milkweed pollinators).

            One last point, and I don’t recall whether you’ve mentioned this is past updates: There appears to be a consensus among Monarch specialists that it’s best to plant at least two species of milkweed together, typically common milkweed plus either butterfly weed (A. tuberosa) or swamp milkweed (A. incarnata), depending on the amount of moisture in your soil. The “weedy and invasive” argument against common milkweed eliminates a strong native candidate, and my concern is that home gardeners will replace it with a hybridized commercial nursery variety targeted specifically at home gardeners afraid of “weedy and invasive” common milkweed. I’ve already seen one “peer-reviewed” study insisting that Monarchs like these commercial hybrids every bit as much as native plants (they conveniently excluded common milkweed from the control group). One of the many wonderful things about Prof. Agrawal’s book is that he clearly explains the differences in chemical composition among the various species and how this affects Monarch egg-laying and caterpillar feeding behavior.

            OK, I’ve got to get out of this [family blogging] chair and into the garden!

            1. Samuel Conner

              > There appears to be a consensus among Monarch specialists that it’s best to plant at least two species of milkweed together

              Again thank you! No, I was completely unaware of that consideration. And this is welcome news, as I started growing Swamp Milkweed from seed a couple of years ago and have gotten pretty good at it (by my standards; I’m sure I’d starve if this was how I had to earn my keep). I’ll start distributing species pairs instead of monocultures.

              Perhaps I had better dig into the possibility that A. incarnata can hybridize with A. purpurascens .

              Amusingly, the blossom color of A. incarnata is quite close to that of my now blooming Purple MW.

              1. Brunches with Cats

                Perhaps I had better dig into the possibility that A. incarnata can hybridize with A. purpurascens .

                That would be a terrific question for Steven Broyles! You might be able to find his contact info on the webpage for SUNY Cortland’s entomology department.

                The reason for planting different varieties of milkweed is that, as you noted earlier, they bloom at different times — which is yet another reason Monarchs prefer common milkweed: its blooming period typically coincides with their migration patterns. However, if these crazy weather extremes continue — and climatologists predict they will — there’s no telling how that will impact the cycles of both plant and butterfly. Planting more than one species in a garden extends the availability of milkweeds for Monarchs in particular and for pollinators in general.

                1. Samuel Conner

                  Again, thank you! I was thinking about providing images of my notionally “Purple” plants for his assessment, but after reflection, I think my plant properties are probably strongly in the Purple category, both the vegetation and the blossoms. But before calming down, I got spooked by the possibility that my seed vendor might have genetically “contaminated” seed sources and placed a panic order for some plants from a conservationist run native plants nursery. I’ll establish these as a cluster distant from the current cluster.

                  I will contact Prof Broyles about the question of other hybridization risks.

                  NC commenters are the best. Thank you for your patient guidance!

  32. Pat

    Just a back of the envelope calculation but I am going to bet that 75 to 80% of the voters who put Eric Adams anywhere on their ranked choice ballot are going to be screwed by Adams if he gets into office. Many will still vote for him in the general. Even though he isn’t waiting for the general to go “SUCKERS!”

    The Rich and Powerful are My People!

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