2:00PM Water Cooler 7/29/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

A duet (with the other bird far away).

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

Vaccination by region:

South rising.

“In Alabama and Louisiana, partisan opposition to vaccine surges alongside Delta variant” [Politico]. “Local public health officials and physicians in this part of the country are convinced that they are doing everything they can to save lives — pulling 15-hour days to set up pop-up mobile vaccine units, monitor patients on respirators, and administer rounds of therapeutics. But they can only do so much. They will not go to people’s homes to try and twist their arms, they say, and they do not want federal officials to do so either. ‘I don’t know going door to door would help us,” said Karen Landers, an Alabama state health officer based in Sheffield. “People in more rural areas … you’re going on to their property. It might

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: Looks like I was too conservative! (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 28 2021” (PDF), “Rapid Riser” counties, this release:

More red: Florida, California, Acela Corridor. The last two certainly doesn’t fit the “Blame Bubba” narrative. Not a banjo to be heard. 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. But–

“NYC Delta COVID Wave Sends Relatively Few to Hospitals So Far” [The City]. “A surge in positive tests for COVID-19 in New York has spurred dread of another wave of potentially deadly infections — even calls to again require masks indoors. Yet while the number of cases is rising quickly, fueled by the highly contagious Delta virus variant, the number of people ill enough to require hospitalization is increasing modestly compared to the previous coronavirus wave last fall. Those local numbers echo national trends, with a majority of the city’s population now protected by vaccination.” • True, I don’t have to draw an anti-triumphalist black line on the hospitalization chart (nor on deaths). And there are hot spots where hospitals have become overloaded. This is interesting: “Still, city employees, including police officers and firefighters, are heavily represented among those who’ve yet to get vaccinated against COVID-19, which has already killed more than 33,500 New Yorkers. Some of the city’s largest agencies have lower vaccination rates than the general public. Of NYPD’s 54,000 uniformed and civilian workforce, only 43% are vaccinated, the New York Post reported last week, also finding that the FDNY has a 55% vaccination rate. Roughly 42% of city Department of Correction workers are vaccinated, the agency told THE CITY, based on information it has about those who were vaccinated in the five boroughs.” • Maybe liberal Democrats should start scolding and shaming cops in their own cities, instead of Bubba?

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. US sphere of influence under the Monroe Doctrine not doing so well.

* * *


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

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

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

Biden Administration

“Biden’s Invisible Ideology” [Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker]. “The Brooklyn-reared boxing trainer Charley Goldman, who crafted Rocky Marciano, the undefeated heavyweight champ of the nineteen-fifties, once made a wise statement: ‘Never play a guy at his own game; nobody makes up a game in order to get beat at it.‘ An instinctive understanding of this principle was part of the brilliance of Joe Biden’s Presidential campaign—and that we do not think of it as brilliant, despite his decisive victory against an incumbent, is part of its brilliance. Donald Trump invented a game: of bullying, lying, sociopathic selfishness, treachery, and outright gangsterism, doing and saying things that no democratic politician had ever done or even thought of doing, and he did it all in broad daylight….Biden, by contrast, insisted that the way to win was not to play. In the face of the new politics of spectacle, he kept true to old-school coalition politics… It looked at the time dangerously passive; it turned out to be patiently wise, for Biden and his team, widely attacked as pusillanimous centrists with no particular convictions, are in fact ideologues. Their ideology is largely invisible but no less ideological for refusing to present itself out in the open. It is the belief, animating Biden’s whole career, that there is a surprisingly large area of agreement in American life and that, by appealing to that area of agreement, electoral victory and progress can be found.” • Interesting, but Gopnik seems to think that Nixon’s “We can do that, but it would be wrong” was spoken in good faith, when it was clearly spoken so as to get recorded by the White House taping system. Doesn’t the New Yorker do fact-checking any more? (Biden’s “ideology” sounds a lot like West Wing Brain to me….)

An example of Gopnik’s “surprisingly large area of agreement in American life”:

Makes ya think…

UPDATE “Analysis: Biden’s COVID-19 strategy thwarted by anti-vaxxers, Delta variant” [Reuters]. “‘To protect the country from COVID, you need to have multiple strategies,’ said Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease specialist and professor at the University of California, San Francisco. ‘We jumped on the vaccine bandwagon and excitement at the expense of other core strategies in the pandemic.'” • Lots of premature triumphalism among the PMC. “COVID-19 cases are rising in nearly 90 percent of jurisdictions in the United States, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with outbreaks in areas with low vaccination rates. The new spike in cases has clouded what had been a full-steam ahead economic recovery, and could be especially risky if consumers become more cautious and spending slows as pandemic-era unemployment benefits, rent moratoria and other supports begin to expire.” • Variants and anti-vax sentiment; who could have known?

“Biden mocked for claiming he ‘used to drive’ an 18-wheeler truck” [New York Post]. “‘I used to drive an 18-wheeler, man,’ the 78-year-old commander-in-chief told staff, video of the exchange shows — with him clarifying that he ‘got to’ drive one. But challenged by Fox News to produce evidence, a White House spokesperson could only point to a December 1973 article from the Wilmington Evening Journal that showed Biden rode in an 18-wheeler, not that he drove one.” • Looks like liberal Democrats finally have their Reagan. Remember when Reagan confused a movie about World War II with the actual war? (This Op-Ed from Richard Cohen in October 2020 describes the incident, but is also an excellent example of how the Washington press corps stuck the shiv in Al Gore, helping to give us Bush. It’s really vicious.)

Democrats en Deshabille

“Fetterman slams Sinema over infrastructure: ‘Democrats need to vote like Democrats'” [The Hill]. “‘In unprecedented times like these, Democrats need to vote like Democrats,’ Fetterman, a U.S. Senate candidate, said in a statement. ‘We have the majority, we have the presidency, we have the House, we have the Senate – so let’s act like it and finally deliver Biden’s agenda to the American people.'” • Pretty weak tea. If the revolving villain weren’t Sinema (or Manchin (or Lieberman)) it would be somebody else. The Democrat Party was carefully crafted by its leadership to do exactly what it is doing.

UPDATE “Eric Adams embraces New York bigwigs — and breaks from de Blasio” [Politico]. “‘I don’t join in the chorus that tells high-income earners, so what if you leave or not?’ Adams said, when asked by WABC’s Bill Ritter Sunday how he would re-attract wealthy New Yorkers who decamped to Florida during the pandemic. ‘Sixty-five-thousand New Yorkers pay 51 percent of our income taxes and those income taxes go to the police, the firefighters, the teachers, [to] clean our streets.’ ‘And I am saying to them, we need you here,’ he added.” • Adams is Black. A Black cop. How soon until the Presidential trial balloon? I give it a year.

UPDATE “Joe Manchin Makes $500K a Year From One of the Dirtiest Coal Plants in West Virginia” [Vice (Darthbobber)]. “Joe Manchin, the conservative Democrat from West Virginia who is the lynchpin of his party’s climate agenda, made nearly $500,000 from one of the most polluting coal power plants in West Virginia last year alone. According to his most recent financial disclosure, Manchin gained $492,000 last year due to his non-public shares in a coal company called Enersystems, which records show is a contractor for a power plant in the state’s north that burns waste coal. Meanwhile, Manchin’s 2020 income for being a senator was $174,000. ‘He’s making more than twice as much selling coal as he is serving as a representative,’ said Jim Kotcon, the conservation chair of the West Virginia chapter of the Sierra Club. Due to impurities in the waste coal Grant Town Power Plant burns to generate electricity, it releases more sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide per unit of energy than any other of the state’s coal plants, according to 2018 calculations from Kotcon.”

Republican Funhouse

“How a Rising Trump Critic Lost Her Nerve” [The Atlantic]. “[S]ometime between January and my visit in March, Mace appeared to have lost her nerve; she’d stopped criticizing her party and was again sounding all the notes required by a Trump-dominated GOP. Her evolution on the issue has mirrored that of other Republicans, including Trump allies such as Kevin McCarthy and Lindsey Graham, who were sharply critical of the president after the insurrection, only to later back down. To observe Mace these past several months has been to watch in real time as a freshman Republican absorbs a few fundamental truths: Despite what Mace seems to have believed, most Republicans appear to have little appetite for nuance at the moment, let alone dissent. The base loves Trump as much as ever, and his allies are working to unseat anyone who fails to show fealty. There is no post-Trump GOP, not yet…. Despite her district’s sometimes moderate inclinations, winning reelection will require first winning the Republican primary—and in South Carolina, that’ll be hard to do without embracing Trump. Mace appears to have realized this.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Biden’s Big Infrastructure Bill” [Unusual Whales]. A timeline of the Infrastructure Bill from an interesting site. Here are the House trades:

(I don’t see Pelosi there, but IIRC, she works through a straw.) And the Senate:

Why is this even legal? Oh, I forgot. The House and Senate write the laws.

Stats Watch

GDP: “Advance Estimate 2Q2021 GDP Is 6.5%” [Econintersect]. “The advance estimate for the second-quarter 2020 Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is a positive 6.5 %. This growth is an improvement from the previous quarter’s growth of 6.3 % (downwardly revised) if one looks at quarter-over-quarter headline growth. The year-over-year rate of growth significantly improved….. The coronavirus recovery is the reason for the improvement.”

Employment Situation: “24 July 2021 Initial Unemployment Claims Rolling Average Again Worsened” [Econintersect]. “Market expectations for weekly initial unemployment claims (from Econoday) were 366 K to 400 K (consensus 390 K), and the Department of Labor reported 400,000 new claims. The more important (because of the volatility in the weekly reported claims and seasonality errors in adjusting the data) 4 week moving average moved from 386,500 (reported last week as 385,250) to 394,500.”

* * *

The Bezzle: “The owner of this tiny $875 rig mines bitcoin using free electricity at Starbucks” [CNBC]. • Come on, man.

The Bezzle: “Robinhood IPO is ‘effectively selling investors on exploiting other investors,’ New Constructs CEO argues” [Yahoo Finance]. “Founded in 2013, Robinhood democratized investing for retail traders by offering zero-commission trading, a practice that was subsequently adopted by other brokerages. (There are roughly 18 million accounts on the platform, with a majority of those users being first-time investors.) And instead of relying on commissions, Robinhood primarily generates revenue through [payment for order flow (PFOF)] — that is, by routing trades through third-party trading firms instead of stock exchanges…. In addition to Robinhood, some major brokerages use the practice: TD Ameritrade, E-Trade, and Charles Schwab saw revenues from PFOF triple in 2020. That said, Robinhood is singularly dependent on the practice: In 2020, according to the company’s S-1 filing, Robinhood derived 75% of its $959 million revenue in 2020 from PFOF.”

Tech: “1 big thing: Giants leap” [Felix Salmon, Axios]. “Never in the history of capitalism have the world’s biggest companies grown as fast as the tech giants in recent years…. A series of stunning earnings reports this week — with another one likely to arrive this afternoon, from Amazon — has underscored the astonishing growth among a group of companies that were already some of the most profitable of all time…. The outsized profits at the tech companies look suspiciously like monopoly rents, with no end in sight in terms of how much and how fast they can grow. That’s one reason the companies are facing so much scrutiny in Washington. Not that it seems to be having any real effect.”

Manufacturing: “The Smartest EV Batteries May Not Be the Best Ones” [Bloomberg]. “The hype around electric vehicles has raised expectations for the next generation of long-lasting batteries that take cars farther — all at the right price. But new advances and big breakthroughs may not be the way forward. The success of one of the world’s largest EV battery companies, China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd., or CATL, is a case in point. CATL has managed to bring down battery prices by using older technology, and has convinced automakers that the end product is a worthwhile investment — no easy task. But in so doing, CATL has maintained gross profit margins at more than 25% each quarter for the past few years. The China-listed company’s share price has risen almost 60% so far this year. … Billions of dollars are being thrown at new plants and developing the next generation of powertrains that can keep cars driving farther and longer. The result: Automakers are issuing recalls, faulty batteries are catching on fire, and the price of an electric car, around half of which is the cost of the battery, remains prohibitively high. CATL has been realistic. The company has taken a technology viewed as relatively low-end — lithium-iron-phosphate, or LFP, batteries — and made it widely accepted for passenger vehicles.”

Manufacturing: “This Man Does Not Make Poppers” [Buzzfeed]. “As far as I’m concerned, I sell nail polish remover.” • A fine portrait of a member of the American Gentry.

Supply Chain: “Rising raw materials prices and other higher costs are prompting sharper discussions between suppliers and buyers. Elevator maker Otis Worldwide is the latest to report tough talks with suppliers as the increased spending on business inputs, from commodities to transportation, dominates the season’s earnings reports” [Wall Street Journal]. “Otis Worldwide finance chief Rahul Ghai tells the WSJ’s Nina Trentmann that the company has doubled its forecast for expected growth in the annual cost of raw materials, to $70 million to $80 million after spending $300 million on commodities last year. He says suppliers who last year agreed to set prices in advance now are “very unwilling to lock in prices.”

Supply Chain: “There’s almost no place in the business world to hide from the global chip shortage. Electronics heavyweight Apple and electric-car maker Tesla both are bracing for the impact of the disruption to the global supply of microprocessors… in a sign that even some of the largest, best-supplied companies can no longer sidestep the semiconductor crisis” [Wall Street Journal]. “Apple largely withstood the impact of the chip shortage last quarter because of the company’s scale and its strong supply-chain planning. But it expects supply constraints will soon take a bigger toll on revenue and will hit both iPhones and iPads.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 31 Fear (previous close: 25 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 25 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 29 at 12:25pm.

Health Care

UPDATE “How the coronavirus infects cells — and why Delta is so dangerous” [Nature]. This is really interesting (with graphics and animations, but not too many :-)). One detail: “The virus that causes SARS, SARS-CoV, uses either of two host protease enzymes to break in: TMPRSS2 (pronounced ‘tempress two’) or cathepsin L. TMPRSS2 is the faster route in, but SARS-CoV [NOT SARS-CoV-2] often enters instead through an endosome — a lipid-surrounded bubble — which relies on cathepsin L. When virions enter cells by this route, however, antiviral proteins can trap them… The virus’s speedy entry using TMPRSS2 explains why the malaria drug chloroquine didn’t work in clinical trials as a COVID-19 treatment, despite early promising studies in the lab10. Those turned out to have used cells that rely exclusively on cathepsins for endosomal entry. ‘When the virus transmits and replicates in the human airway, it doesn’t use endosomes, so chloroquine, which is an endosomal disrupting drug, is not effective in real life,’ says Barclay.” • Interesting.

The Biosphere

“The Grayness of the Origin of Life” [Life]. Not Life Magazine, but a scholarly journal. From the Introduction: “In Earth’s history, the specifics of the progressive transition from a non-living world to a living world are unknown, and the distinction between abiotic and biotic systems is often unclear. The origins of life and astrobiology communities have traditionally looked for a metric that clearly distinguishes between non-life and life; however, a single unambiguous signal of life has proven elusive. Even if found, such a signal would likely exclude life early in its evolution. A more inclusive representation is to recognize a spectrum between the non-living and the living—a “grayness” resulting from the protracted evolutionary process that gave rise to life [3]. This stepwise progression from abiotic to biotic factors has been problematic in the past because it renders any specific definition of life incapable of specifying a precise threshold for the transition from abiotic to biotic systems. As a result, we have been left with broad conceptions of life or a list of observed traits. It should be no surprise that this grayness exists given that the laws governing physics apply equally to geology, chemistry, and biology. Whether inside or outside of a living system, individual chemical reactions progress based on universal, causal rules, and within a huge and rich combinatorial space. Furthermore, life evolves within a planetary context, albeit at a molecular scale, and its biochemistry is dependent on what is permitted by the geochemical environment. The grayness inherent in the stepwise transition from geochemistry to biochemistry presents a major obstacle for accurately identifying life in its earliest forms. Interestingly, recent phylogenetic reconstructions of the physiological capabilities of the Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA) portray it as only “half alive,” lacking key steps involved in modern biochemical pathways and heavily reliant on geochemical reactions in its environment to provide substrates.” • Fascinating stuff, though I could do with a last dispiriting word than “grayness.”

“Scientists Discover Mollusks Are Next Evolutionary Stage For Humans” [The Onion]. “Over the next 1,000 years, we’re going to see people developing gills, a hard protective shell around their torsos, and a large, muscular foot in their dorsal region that will help with locomotion and mucus secretion. The world is changing rapidly, and those who can’t filter seawater aren’t going to be able to survive.”

“The Seed Collector Who Roams the City’s Marshes” (interview) [New York Magazine]. “When the New York City Parks Department plants bright-orange butterfly milkweed, soft-purple mountain phlox, or lush royal ferns, there’s a good chance that these and other native plants were started from wild seeds gathered by Patrick Over, one of the city’s two official seed collectors. The 35-year-old’s days are spent trudging through marshland, hiking into forests, and paddling by canoe to remote (and sometimes not so remote) spots across the city to gather seeds for the Greenbelt Native Plant Center. At the 13-acre grow space on Staten Island, 650 species of native plants are conserved in a seed bank, and staff members work on propagating the ones needed for the city’s flower beds and restoration projects, like replenishing wetlands damaged by the construction of the Goethals Bridge.” • I’m surprised there are only two. And 650 species; is that a lot for a city? From the interview: “I’ve only been doing this for five or six years, and already I get heartbroken because I’ve seen parks deteriorate in just that much time. Places that were healthy and full of native-plant populations are now full of invasive species. Seeing things get destroyed in such a short time makes me think it’s crucial that we store and grow these seeds because once they’re gone, they’re gone. It takes a lot of time to rebuild habitats. It doesn’t happen in a decade; it can take 50 to 100 years before you start seeing some of the rare plants come back.”

“Forgotten oil and gas wells linger, leaking toxic chemicals” [Associated Press]. ” Rusted pipes litter the sandy fields of Ashley Williams Watt’s cattle ranch in windswept West Texas. The corroded skeletons are all that remain of hundreds of abandoned oil wells that were drilled long before her family owned the land. The wells, unable to produce any useful amounts of oil or gas, were plugged with cement decades ago and forgotten. But something eerie is going on beneath the land, where Watt once played among the mesquite trees, jackrabbits and javelina and first drove the dirt roads at 10 years old. One by one, the wells seem to be unplugging themselves. They’re leaking dangerous chemicals that are seeping into groundwater beneath her ranch….. Many of the wells are releasing methane, a greenhouse gas containing about 86 times the climate-warming power of carbon dioxide over two decades. Some are leaking chemicals such as benzene, a known carcinogen, into fields and groundwater. Regulators don’t know where hundreds of thousands of abandoned wells are because many of them were drilled before modern record-keeping and plugging rules were established. They are a silent menace, threatening to explode or contaminate drinking water and leaking atmosphere-warming fumes each day that they’re unplugged. Without records of their whereabouts, it’s impossible to grasp the magnitude of the pollution or health problems they may be causing.” • Handy map; not all in Texas, obviously. And some in downstate New York”

It’s almost as if capitalism and, well, life are in contradiction.

“The Amazon Is Fast Approaching a Point of No Return” [Bloomberg]. “[The legislators] needed to pass a bill that would slash the size of a state [Amazon] rainforest reserve known as Jaci-Paraná and another park farther south. Once a vast expanse of sinuous streams and soaring stands of mahogany and castanha trees, Jaci-Paraná Extractive Reserve has been largely transformed into pasture for cattle. Roads cut into the bright red mud crisscross the reserve, connecting hundreds of ranches where 120,000 cattle graze. The ranches are illegal. The new law would change that. The owners would no longer have to hide the origin of their livestock to sell to big beef producers. More important, the land grabbers would have a path to legal title. Almost half the state legislators are ranchers or got elected with agribusiness money. They’d long wanted to wipe the slate clean for their rural base, and now they had support all the way up to the presidential palace in Brasilia.” •  It’s almost as if capitalism and, well, life are in contradiction. Not to mention life and the Treaty of Westphalia.

“Do Bug Zappers Work? Yeah—About As Well As Any Other Indiscriminate Wildlife Slaughter” [New York Times]. From 2019, still germane: “Bug zappers kill bugs by the thousands. But there’s a problem: They kill the wrong bugs. They are ineffective against mosquitoes and other biting flies, and their otherwise indiscriminate killing can reduce songbird populations, disrupt pollination, and generally throw the environment out of balance….. . According to the Delaware study, the zapped bugs include ‘many thousands of nontarget insects representing a rich taxonomic diversity.’ This unfocused insect elimination is so extreme that, according to the authors of the University of Delaware study, ‘Even if targeted biting flies were effectively controlled by electric zappers, the resulting destruction of thousands of parasitoids, predators, aquatic insects, and other members of the nocturnally active fauna would be difficult to justify.’ University of Florida professor Jonathan Day told us, ‘We’re in a big enough crisis with colony collapse with honey bees that I think anything that impacts a beneficial insect population is problematic.'”

Crapification Watch

“The Future of Entertainment Is Just More and More and More of This” [New York Magazine]. “he strangest thing about Space Jam: A New Legacy, the “standalone sequel” to the 1996 hit, is that an algorithm played by Don Cheadle is the villain of the story but also dead-on when it comes to the goals of the movie itself: What is it if not an attempt to suck viewers into the WB Serververse? Take the moment LeBron James, playing himself, starts drafting his fantasy team for a basketball game that will determine the fate of the world (or at least the chunk of it following him on Twitter). He announces, with an Oscar-worthy show of enthusiasm, that “we’re going to need the most powerful Warner Bros. characters for this team” and then immediately begins listing his picks — Superman, King Kong, the Iron Giant — as though it’s only natural for someone to have an encyclopedic knowledge of which beloved pop-culture properties fall under which particular corporate umbrella. A New Legacy’s biggest flight of fancy is not that famous athletes could team up with cartoon characters but that members of the public naturally feel intense loyalty to faceless media conglomerates.” • A culture that can’t invent new narratives and new characters is decadent.

Bible Corner

The only Inuit account I know of on the Twitter:

Might do some good, you never know….

Sports Desk

On Simone Biles:

“Heart rate of archers monitored during day of shocks in competition” [CNN]. “World Archery incorporated biometric data into the television broadcast with cameras picking up the competitors’ heart rates (BPM), despite inclement weather causing technical problems on site early on.” • I think that’s too much information. What next? Brain waves?

Zeitgeist Watch

“FBI Agent Turned CNN Analyst Asha Rangappa Wants To Restore Your Faith In America” [Elle]. “n a quiet Tuesday evening in the suburbs of New Haven, Asha Rangappa [a former FBI counterintelligence agent and a lecturer at Yale’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs] is discussing propaganda with her children. “Have you ever come across white nationalists on YouTube?” she asks her adolescent son. He pauses, prodding at his pasta and twisting his mouth. “You took too long to answer,” she says, ‘so you have!’ This, it seems, is typical; when your mom was once an FBI agent, you expect some dinnertime behavioral analysis. As the meal winds down, her son tells me that polygraphs are largely inaccurate and therefore inadmissible in court, and that ‘butt clenching’ is a sign of lying. Expressionless, his little sister lies: ‘My name is Laura.’ ‘Yeah, but did your butt clench?’ She tells him, firmly, no. I’m at Asha Rangappa’s dinner table because, for the past few years, her commentary on CNN and Twitter has helped hundreds of thousands of people understand the news.” • From 2019, still germane. Pretty soon the entire country — or at least the PMC — is going to have the mentality of James Jesus Angleton….

Phillip Allen

Class Warfare

UPDATE “The New Moral Code of America’s Elite” [Elizabeth Bruenig, The Atlantic]. • Bruenig’s take on the Amy Chua saga. and the snake pit that is Yale Law School (“(which, like so much that happens on campus, was surreptitiously recorded”). If you want to know how being “a nation of snitches” is being normalized, this is a good place to start.

News of the Wired

I wonder if this is true:

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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 (SS):

SS writes: “Pleasant place to hang out on a warm afternoon….”

* * *

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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. Carolinian

    Re Space Jam–moving over to Disney it’s quite common for Marvel sequels to assume you remember the last stupid Marvel movie so you can follow the current stupid Marvel movie. The obvious conclusion is that the plots don’t matter other than to the hard core fans. Since there are a lot of those they don’t need, oh say, me.

    It’s not just a comic book disease though. Hollywood Golden Age thought story was everything. These days eye candy is everything–no obviously fake airplane at the end of Casablanca for us. Back then Ingrid Bergman’s face was their CGI.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      it’s quite common for Marvel sequels to assume you remember the last stupid Marvel movie so you can follow the current stupid Marvel movie

      The original Marvel comics were the same and that’s why I ended up a DC reader. The chances of ever catching two connected issues on the one spinner in town were impossible. DC gave you a complete story each time, with maybe a little ‘next issue’ foreshadowing.

      1. Carolinian

        I preferred DC but preferred Tarzan books even more (me and Gore Vidal). May still have some of those Bantam paperbacks in the attic.

  2. Darthbobber

    I gave up on Gopnik years ago. Almost everything he writes on, from Rabelais to Attica, invariably turns into a paean to the Whig Theory of History, in which moderates of temperate nature walk us gradually up the Spiral Staircase of Progress, hampered by their twin enemies, the Diehard Reactionaries and the Wild-eyed Radicals.

    1. Acacia

      Maybe I’m foolish for trying to read him, but help me with Gopnik. He seems to be arguing that Biden and his team “are in fact ideologues” but their “invisible ideology” is good, because it’s “the old ideology of pragmatic progressive pluralism” (but is it, really?), and that “there is often a remarkably resilient consensus in the country.” Is there? Biden and his team are said to be in stride with “a robust consensus” for public healthcare, though clearly M4A is not in the cards or anything that would displease the insurance lobby. Biden is said to have won by stealing Trump voters, but did that really happen?

      Gopnik notes the 2020 election was “as free and fair as any in our history,” while giving a nod to “a Russian model of disinformation” that swung the 2016 election. Now, for Gopnik, Trumpism is also an ideology, the difference being that it is “totalized”. Trump supporters are, by analogy, members of a cult, and you don’t get them out of a cult by offering them a better cult. Here, Buttigieg is quoted approvingly on cartoons. So, the solution, per Gopnik, is to trade the ideology of Trumpism for the ideology of “Biden and his team”, as apparently we can’t call it “Bidenism” for it’s so invisible, so stealthy, grey, spectral, rather like Joe himself. It seems that Biden and his team “are in fact ideologues” but not at all cult members.

      And although Buttigieg’s sage wisdom about cartoons is tempting, on Gopnik’s account, it is equally urgent that we confront “Trump’s sins”, for apparently everything was o-kay in the pre-Trump era, only going pear shaped after 2016, as Trump “politicized the Justice Department”. I guess James Comey wasn’t “politicized” at all, then. Trump is so malignant, in Gopnik’s view, that he might even be considered a virus invading the body politic, “an ailment that won’t go away”, and once again, everything was fine before, as the wars, the torture, the millions who had their mortgages foreclosed, the homeless, the new gilded age of the American oligarch billionaire class, the centralization and weaponization of media — none of that was a problem before the viral epidemic of Trump-16.

      I believe it’s fair to say that one of the reasons we continue to talk about ideology is the widely influential work of Louis Althusser. One his account, “ideology represents the imaginary relationship of individuals to their real conditions of existence.” That is, in place of understanding the real conditions of our existence, ideology gives us an imaginary relationship to those conditions. (In current parlance, “the narrative” is ideological.) Moreover, “ideology has a material existence.” This, in the sense that we’re not just talking about ideas in somebody’s head. We’re talking about something that has a material existence in the world. ideology is something we see through institutions, their rules, their policies, and the practices of the people inside those institutions. On Althusser’s account, ideology always exists as a set of practices, and their existence is material.

      After reading Gopnik’s article, though, I’m not sure what he thinks ideology is, or if the term is even necessary for what he’s trying to say. It does seem to be weaponized, though, and he identifies himself amongst a group of “loudly articulate ideologues”.

      1. David in Santa Cruz

        Thank you for this lovely comment. It was nice to read after slogging through Elizabeth Bruenig’s horrifying tale of the oppressive tattle-tale culture of Yale Law. Like Professor Amy Chua, I’ve repeatedly been subject to persecution for having good intentions on the wrong side of someone else’s perception of power relations and preferences.

        Ideology stands in opposition to material reality.

      2. Darthbobber

        Thanks. Your summation confirms that it was indeed yet another in his series of articles invariably pushing this spin.

        Gopnik is pretty erudite and has a style whose elegant flourishes and curlicues serves to mask the intellectual incoherence buried in all the Rococo.

    1. jo6pac

      I’ll take nap first. I was wondering if you have time dig comment out of jail.


    2. Katiebird

      Yikes!! We were supposed to pick up our daughter at the airport on Thurs. afternoon!!!

      I hope she’s still there!!!

  3. Darthbobber

    Politico on door to door hypothetical vaccine effort.
    NOW someone finally suggests this? And then we talk only of southern responses?

    Saw no door to door in Philly, ever. Nor even info taking the form of paper mailed or delivered to homes. Mass media, websites and city text messages only form of communication.

    I personally know 2 of the formerly “vaccine hesitant”
    who were hesitant because they expected it to cost them what any other normal medical thing would. The publicity about being free utterly failed to reach them.

    There’s no region of the country, btw, where overall vaccination levels are anything to boast about, other than patting oneself on the back because others are doing even worse.

    That our patchwork public health system apparently can’t be temporarily transformed on a one-off Covid-only basis is probably the main lesson

    And insisting on forcing all analysis through this lunatic partisan prism just guarantees the missing of any actual points.

    1. Objective Ace

      I get people showing up at my door claiming they arent selling anything and/or its free all the time. Its never the case. If I didnt already think the vaccines were free, a “door to door salesman” showing up at my door would hardly dissuade me. I imagine it would actually make me more confident they were not free.

      1. Darthbobber

        Hmm…both my wife and I did survey work for the Census Bureau (various surveys they’re constantly doing, not the decennial census), and people were actually remarkably cooperative. Nor do the water dept or the gas works seem to encounter that much difficulty.

        It’s obviously possible to roll such things out in a way that gets considerable cooperation. It’s done all the time.

        Nor does the percentage of success need to be overwhelmingly high to have an impact.

      2. Objective Ace

        Census might be a little different, but I’ve had multiple private companies now try to sell me stuff by invoking public utilities authority that they are not actually involved with. One “scam” involves asking for a sample of water to test and then they report the results a couple weeks later (never good) along with a pitch for an in-home water filter. Another I still dont completely understand, but supposedly the public gas company was overbilling everyone and somehow this company was going to help me out by signing up for an “add-on”. Both of these pitches were started with “I’m not trying to sell anything’

        1. Michael Ismoe

          So —- someone you never met before knocks on your door and offers to inject a “magic potion” into your forearm. What could go wrong?

          1. Screwball

            I mean really!!!!!!

            I laughed, not in a mocking way. Maybe I’m too old, but WTF is wrong with this picture?

            Thank you!

    2. freebird

      It’s still not “free” if you have to spend most of a day navigating how to sign up for a shot, travel wherever you have to go to get an appointment, wait in lines or rooms filling out endless forms. But yes, the point is, there were so many hoops with just the Covid tests, and we’ve been crushed by nutsy charges and deductibles and copays for so long…what do they expect busy/reluctant people to do, take one day off work to set something up and another to actually get jabbed? When it doesn’t even work that well?

      I remember when the polio vaccines became available. There were efficient protocols to get one into every kid in the US, no drama, no red tape, here ya go. Back when the country wasn’t run by greedy monsters.

  4. Lee

    Pfizer CEO says third Covid vaccine dose likely needed within 12 months CNBC

    But just a month ago there was this from the New York Times:

    Pfizer and Moderna Vaccines Likely to Produce Lasting Immunity, Study Finds

    “The vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna set off a persistent immune reaction in the body that may protect against the coronavirus for years, scientists reported on Monday.”

    I try to follow the science but it keeps changing direction and giving me whiplash.

    1. antidlc

      And then yesterday, we had:

      Citing New Data, Pfizer Outlines Case for Booster Shots

      Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine may become slightly weaker over time, the company reported. But experts said that most people won’t need boosters anytime soon.

      And today we have:

      First in world, Israel agrees to give seniors 60+ third COVID jab

      The country’s four major health funds said they are preparing to welcome individuals over the age of 60 for a coronavirus booster shot, as Israelis were banned from traveling to four more countries and the Green Pass went back into effect.
      The Health Ministry’s coronavirus vaccination committee voted by an almost unanimous majority of 56-1 to administer the third shot of the Pfizer vaccine to elderly people who were jabbed more than five months ago at a meeting that ran from 9 p.m. to midnight on Wednesday, despite a third shot still not being approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

  5. Sawdust

    Years ago, I visited a farm in PA with a century-ish old oil well slowly dripping crude into what looked like an above-ground pool. I could have gone for a swim. No idea what they did when it got near the top.

  6. Glen

    An FBI agent/CNN analyst going to restore my faith in America?

    I am so glad I just stopped watching TV over ten years ago. I would recommend it for everyone.

    I have faith in the American people, its our leaders and MSM that have failed. Its pretty well understood by everyone that our elected leaders do what Wall St, the mega corporations, and the billionares want, and that the MSM is there to convince you that as long as we keep doing that everthing will be great.

    Our elites and MSM no longer even seem to live in the same America as the rest of us, and the harder they try to convince us otherwise, the more obvious it becomes.

  7. chris

    Sharing this news from the EPA that came across my desk. I’ve read it 3x and I’m not sure I understand it. It seems like this is a case where rescinding guidance makes matters worse and that the Biden administration is improving regulations in such a way to prevent us actually making things safer. Anyone else have an opinion about this?

    1. hunkerdown

      “EPA determined that the guide inappropriately narrowed the scope and weakened the prohibitions included in the SNUR.” By my reading, the last-minute Trump Administration guidance limited the application of the PFAS surface coating ban. Rescission therefore restores the ban. The other two administrative actions were directed by Congress and seek to add certain toxic substances to regulatory indices.

  8. IM Doc

    My world today –

    I discharged the last two COVID patients from the hospital this AM. There are no more in the ER, nor do I know of anyone out there who is really ill. Again, this virus does not behave like a normal epidemic contagion. We will see how long this lasts. Patients are still coming in as outpatients – both vaccinated and unvaccinated – but not to the numbers of last week.

    I talk to my old friends in the big city daily. They work in big huge hospitals in the urban core where I worked and taught students for 30 years. I no longer even attempt to look at the media for any kind of accurate take on what is going on there. Both the local media there and the national media have time and time again proven to be willful liars. I now rely totally on my friends. The media has turned into full panic porn mode – especially in that city. Last night and into today, my friends did let me know that there has been a large uptake of admissions and hospitalizations. The rate at this point they would guess is about 85 unvaccinated and 15 vaccinated. Patterns are beginning to emerge – the vaccinated are mainly older and baseline ill, the unvaccinated are 40s-60s and are often obese as well. Large numbers of Blacks and Latinos. These 2 groups make up the vast majority of unvaccinated admissions in the whole city – not just in the inner city hospitals. The African American community has been profoundly vaccine hesitant, I believe for mainly historical reasons of medical experimentation. I have seen not a thing being done by federal officials to address this problem other than a few lame YouTube videos. The Latinos, by my friends’ account, are vaccine naive because many are afraid to be deported on one hand and on the other will get fired from work for being off a day or two if they got sick after the vaccine. Again , not an effort has been made to help these situations either. But the media and our politicos are really good at Bubba bashing as Lambert calls it. Anytime you hear any inkling from the media about vaccine hesitancy issues, it is always about Bubba. I would ask you to talk to any physician in a big city hospital, and you will get a more nuanced answer. But PROGRESS! We do not lift a finger to assist these groups in their vaccine hesitancy issues, but we also say nothing about it when they are also suffering in the hospitals. I guess that is what we now call equity.

    I do have good news to report from my friend physicians there. There are lots of admissions. But unlike last year, the patients are not staying in the hospital nearly as long. Some are very ill, but for a large section of patients they are just not in the hospital long. Thus, decreasing the chance of crashing the hospital. This is happening to both the vaccinated and unvaccinated. As you can tell, I am seeing largely the same phenomenon here. I take this as very good news. I have no explanation – but I will take anything right now. It cannot simply be a matter of the vaccines – because this quick turnaround is also happening among the unvaccinated. Good news! And we are all hoping and praying that it stays that way.

    What I am seeing in my outpatients right now, especially the vaccinated, is a seething rage. Not at the Bubbas of the world as the media would have us believe. No, they are fuming that the vaccine is having any problems at all. That is NOT what they were promised. They are fuming that they have to wear masks again. I am seeing from both Red and Blue patients – an absolute and total loss of trust in our federal health officials. I believe at this point I can make it official – WHATEVER CREDIBILITY THE CDC and DR FAUCI HAD HAS NOW BEEN TORCHED TO THE GROUND. I think the big holdouts of remaining true believers is the medical community and other members of the PMC. Based on comments I am hearing from my colleagues, I am not sure how long the center will hold even there.

    At this point, the only path back to credibility is going to require a few terminations. If the Dems and Biden have any chance of not owning this whole debacle, Fauci and Walensky need to both be gone now. The anger among my patients is that intense. I think that would go along way into rebooting the whole situation – which we so desperately need right now. Of course they are not going to do that, so Biden/Harris et al will simply be circling the drain with them as each new lie has to come out to counteract the other lies they have told.

    A patient showed me this tweet this AM – https://twitter.com/pfizer/status/1420474141686255624 – commenting, “I guess that is they way they are going to tell us their vaccines are not working. And I am certain when they find this drug it will be at least 5000 dollars. What a bunch of f#$%ing losers” And he is a huge Dem donor in this whole state. Again – this is not a Red/Blue issue. Everyone is getting angry.

    Everyone – stay safe and be careful.

    1. antidlc

      “Everyone is getting angry.”


      St. Louis County health chief says he faced racial slurs after presenting on mask mandate

      St. Louis County’s acting health director says the rumor is true: He gave someone the middle finger on his way out of the council meeting on the mask mandate Tuesday night.

      But in a letter to County Councilwoman Rita Heard Days sent Wednesday, Dr. Faisal Khan said he did it after a string of racist provocations from Republican politicians like Councilman Tim Fitch and a boisterously anti-mask audience pushed him past his limit.

      “I have never been subjected to the racist, xenophobic and threatening behavior that greeted me in the County Council meeting last night,” he wrote, after noting he’s been in public health for 25 years.

      About that civil war…?

    2. ChristopherJ

      Thank you, IM Doc. I am in Queensland, which has been very successful in containing outbreaks of the virus. Yet we remain very vulnerable due to the outbreak in New South Wales, South Sydney mostly, where there were 270 new cases yesterday.

      Message from our authorities is to get the jab, it is the only solution out of lock downs. Yet, I see comments here regularly that vaccinated people can become infected and pass that infection to others before they realize they are covid positive. Thus, the vaccines, which don’t convey sterilizing immunity, could be giving people a false sense of protection, meaning they are less likely to take precautions?

      Thanks again, who knows how long we can successfully pursue a policy of being on a covid free island

      1. Phillip Cross

        “giving people a false sense of protection”

        There’s nothing false about it. Wherever you look, in the overwhelming majority of cases, the vaccine has protected the recipient from severe outcomes.

        If you are at risk from a Covid infection, get the vaccine. It really is a no brainer.

        1. Samuel Conner

          I know people who think that the vaccine both protects them from a severe outcome and also means that they don’t need to wear a mask to protect others in case they become asymptomatic spreaders.

          That sounds like a false sense of protection to me.

          Get the vaccine, yes. But don’t stop masking.

        2. IM Doc

          It really is a no brainer.

          I think we should do a little Public Health 101.

          In vaccine epidemiology, there are 2 big concepts of great import –
          1) Individual protection
          2) Herd protection

          With regard to individual protection in the case of these vaccines, I believe there is no doubt that outcomes are a bit better. It does seem to help with hospitalization and with death. Ergo, I am trying my best to get every high risk person vaccinated.

          But we also as medical professionals have to take “herd protection” into consideration when we are discussing this with each individual. These vaccines are clearly non-sterilizing. As of this week both Dr. Walensky and Dr Fauci have admitted that publicly. Dr. Walensky described the ability to transmit in vaccinated individuals as “rare”. Dr Fauci, to my knowledge, made no such caveat. I will also remind you that Walensky just a few weeks ago was describing “breakthrough” cases as “rare”. More concerning to me is the CDC seems to be completely happy withholding any information on how they reached these conclusions. But the point of the matter is, the vaccines do not protect the vaccinated from spreading – to what degree we do not yet know.

          So, they provide some individual protection for getting very ill, but the herd protection is clearly compromised – so masks and/or other mitigation measures will now have to be employed.

          These are the consequences when you go with a non-sterilizing vaccine. Some of the other consequences are much more dire and we may be facing them in the intermediate to long term.

          The part of this that really angers me is that it was the CDC itself that turned off the data collection back in May. I cannot tell you how many times in May and June I was literally begging the local and state Health Dept to evaluate all the vaccinated positives I was seeing. That is the red alert signal that there is non-sterilizing activity in the vaccine. No one would even talk to me much less investigate because “the CDC said so.”: I have colleagues all over this country who found themselves in the same boat. All the while that Walensky and others were on the TV stating that vaccinated could not spread, were not going to get sick, could rip their masks off. All the while – docs on the ground were noticing the problems and were being ignored.

          So, the consequences now for the herd are the return of mitigation measures. The protection for the herd is not total and is non-sterilizing – we just do not know exactly how bad it is. This is total incompetence. And the people have every right to be angry. They have been lied to repeatedly. You cannot tell me that scientists at the CDC were not seeing exactly what I was seeing earlier this year.

            1. Michael Ismoe

              Walensky is trying to prove that a transgender woman can still be as inept and wrong as any man. Equality!

              1. Yves Smith

                Don’t spread misinformation. Rachelle Levine, assistant secretary of health, is transgender. Walensky is a perfectly ordinary woman except for her incompetence.

                1. Michael Ismoe

                  I apologize. Walensky is usually my “Free Space” on my IDPol bingo card so I never pay much attention to her or the CDC.

            2. jo6pac

              Because of $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

              Why does the post office have same people in charge, $$$$$$$$$$$$$

              demodogs and repugs have the same pay masters;-)

          1. IM Doc

            Just FYI –
            This story is just breaking – and appears to have been a leading concern for the CDC in the return of the mask mandate.


            Again, this is the same kind of issue that I was seeing in May and June – although certainly NOTHING this gargantuan happened where I live. We are talking about patient numbers in the dozens/hundreds there in Cape Cod. It will be very interesting to see the raw data when it is presented.

            1. johnnyme

              The Provincetown website has been publishing stats.

              As of Friday, July 23rd, 430 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 had been officially reported to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health associated with the Provincetown cluster. Of these cases, 342 are Massachusetts residents, 153 of which reside in Provincetown. The remainder of individuals who tested positive reside in other states.

              Cases among Massachusetts residents are found to be predominantly symptomatic (71%), with 69% of affected individuals reported to be fully vaccinated. Apart from 3 hospitalizations (2 in state and one out of state) associated with this cluster, symptoms are known to be mild and without complication.

              Compared to the previous data drop:

              As of Tuesday, July 20 at the end of the day, 256 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 had been officially reported to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health associated with the Provincetown cases. Of these cases, 190 are Massachusetts residents, 109 of which reside in Barnstable County. The remainder of individuals who tested positive reside in other states or jurisdictions outside of Massachusetts.

              Thank you very much for your on-the-ground updates and I’m glad you’re on the mend!

            2. Mantid

              This, from the article caught my attention. “Before Provincetown, health officials had been operating under the assumption that it was extraordinarily rare for a vaccinated person to become infected with the virus”. There’s an old (crass) joke about ass u me-tions.

              So the CDC is guessing how many vaccinated people are becoming either infected or spreaders of Covid.

              If the CDC did some documentation on cases, essentially counting them, they wouldn’t have to assume. What incompetence!

            3. lyman alpha blob

              Interesting. I wonder how long before the powers that be forget the deplorables and start blaming it on the bears – https://ptowntourism.com/events/bear-week/ Can’t let this stand without blaming somebody!

              Was just in P-Town myself during early July and I know, it’s just anecdotal evidence, but as of yet I haven’t keeled over.

              Side note – whether or not you are one, Bear Week in Provincetown is a real hoot.

          2. antidlc

            ‘They have been lied to repeatedly. You cannot tell me that scientists at the CDC were not seeing exactly what I was seeing earlier this year.”

            What did the CDC think would happen if the lies continued and the truth finally came out? Did they not know trust would be eroded? Did they even care? I really don’t get what was going on here.

            Was it incompetence, or something else?

            1. Tvc15

              Rhetorical question, but I’ll say it, nefarious greed not incompetence. Same as the entire red team blue team charade.

            2. Cuibono

              seems to me erosion of trust in govt institutions serves many purposes and is hardly new.
              never thought they would figure out how to get the institutions to do the heavy lifting themselves

            3. Procopius

              I don’t think they gave any consideration to trust being eroded. The possibility that they might lose the trust of “the unwashed masses” simply never occurred to them because those are the deplorables, trailer trash and rednecks. Besides, in their experience people only fail up. I dunno, I can’t read minds, but as the saying has it, “It would be irresponsible not to speculate.”

          3. Shonde

            I just finished listening to Michael Osterholm’s weekly podcast. There were some good things said especially telling everyone to start wearing N95 or KN95 masks since they are now plentiful and provide excellent protection for long periods of time.


            However, he repeated what we are being told that vaccinated break through covid tests show virus loads at the same level as non-vaccinated covid infected tests.

            If I am remembering correctly, your report on your hospitalized patients tests (admittedly a small number) showed higher viral loads in the vaccinated tests than the unvaccinated tests. If my memory is correct, what are you hearing from other doctors regarding this?

            Interesting that Osterholm reported that YouTube removed one of their podcasts too. The University of Minnesota lawyers are fighting this.

          4. Jason Boxman

            As bad, we don’t know whether long-COVID is a possible outcome, but the early news out of Israel suggests that is isn’t impossible that vaccinated individuals that contract COVID can develop ongoing symptoms, but this is all preliminary data and I’m sure we’ll have much more in the coming months.

            In the meantime, I’ve stopped going anywhere. I don’t think it’s worth the as yet unquantifiable risk of long term disability.

            I sincerely hope we aren’t creating an entire general of mostly younger people that suffer from moderate to severe disability, and have done mostly nothing to militate against that possible outcome.

            This vaccine debacle is shaping up to be quite a betrayal: Told one truth, but reality is different entirely.

        3. ChristopherJ

          ‘the vaccine has protected the recipient from severe outcomes’

          Read the comments from the other day, every single week for that matter lately, the vaccinated are getting sick, often after circulating the virus in their community, thinking they were immune from infection and being infectious. I would classify that as a severe outcome.

          Thanks, Phillip. Currently, the risk of me contacting covid in Cairns is very small. How long that lasts is anyone’s guess.

        4. campbeln


          Scottish data is showing 74% of the deaths between July 8 and 15 were fully vaccinated, 13% more were partially vaccinated.

          Only 5 unvaccinated people died (13%) despite accounting for 77% of cases in the previous 4 weeks.

          Do the math yourself between the 2 tables of official Scottish data:

          See Page 41:

          See Page 35:

          As these are week-over-week numbers, subtract the July 8 numbers from the July 15 numbers to get the numbers for the week of July 9-15.

          My math:

          92-64=28 new fully vaccinated deaths over the week.
          262-257=5 new partially vaccinated deaths over the week.
          2967-2962=5 new unvaccinated deaths over the week.


          28/38=73% of new deaths fully vaccinated.
          5/38=13% of new deaths partially vaccinated.
          5/38=13% of new deaths unvaccinated.

          Full credit to http://DailyExpose.co.uk for making the connection:

          1. Brian Beijer

            Reading IM Doc’s comments as well as these statistics, it makes me think about the vaccine pass news stories that we have seen this past week. Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t Scotland just enact a two tiered entry into the country? Based on these recent accounts, both groups should be treated with equal suspicion. Those with the pass do not have to quarantine while those without the pass must quarantine? Then, there’s Cuomo’s demand that businesses only allow those with the pass onto their premises. Not to mention France and most other countries trying to enact similar laws.

            I wonder if these recent turn of events will have any impact on the political desire to turn the entire world into a two caste system? After all, if the vaccine has little impact on the spread of the virus, what else could be the point for having such a pass? Anyone have thoughts about this?

    3. Carolinian

      I live in Bubba territory and nobody is against vaccines that I know about. At the beginning it was hard merely to make an appointment to get vaccinated.

      Masks would be a different issue, but mostly cooperation there too. I have read that many people claim they only got the vaccine so they wouldn’t have to wear masks.

    4. allan

      Thank you for the update.

      Is it possible that the population your small community is somehow atypical?

      Because there are some fairly specific numbers out there, based on larger sample sizes, indicating that
      unvaccinated and young people are being hospitalized in larger numbers
      and they are sicker than with earlier variants. For example,

      ‘We can’t keep these levels up’: Oklahoma health leaders warn of grim COVID trajectory [Oklahoman]

      … Almost 800 ICU beds were in use in Oklahoma on Tuesday — about 86% of the total number of staffed ICU beds in the state, per HHS data — and 209 of them were filled by COVID-19 patients. …

      As of Monday night, two-thirds of the patients at the hospital where Ratermann works had COVID-19, he said. Patients are younger than in previous waves, he said — some in their 20s and 30s. Most have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus. …

      or see the charts in

      Gov. Hutchinson reinstates public health emergency in Arkansas, calls special session
      to address mask mandate ban for schools

      1. IM Doc

        A few days ago, I made comments on why I think my population here in my small community is seeming faring a bit better. Although we did have deaths last week – and that was very troublesome. Since then – things have really improved. But all kinds of mitigation measures are going on.

        I have no doubt that big city hospitals are seeing large numbers of patients. That much is absolutely confirmed today by my friends discussion with me. And they are telling me much the same – that large numbers of them are unvaccinated. I think that pattern is holding up over all kinds of locations. In the Oklahoma situation above, though, 209 of the 800 ICU beds is not nearly the rate we were seeing before in previous surges. This is early – and things may absolutely change. But, according to my friends, there is way more discharging quickly going on. And as I said above, I am looking for any scrap of good news. This is a very fluid situation obviously – and will need to be monitored.

        And please do not take my comments above in the wrong way. I grew up in a Southern very GOP area. I am getting daily calls from my family and friends still there wondering what I think of vaccines etc. The vaccine hesitancy among this group is profoundly strong. Mainly, it seems to me is a function of the complete mistrust of our health officials engendered by their dissembling behavior this past year. I get why regular people are frustrated. But this is not just a Southern GOP problem – otherwise LA would not be such a mess right now – my friends are reporting the hospitals in their cities being flooded by African Americans and Latinos. I am trying to say that sowing division right now is not the answer – this is a national clusterfuck. We are going to have to do this together or not at all.

    5. Yves Smith

      This outcome may also be due to Delta being less lethal. That’s been a hypothesis but not possible to reach conclusions since the best data was from the UK, which very heavily vaccinated their elderly, also the most vulnerable group, and less so as you got into younger age groups.

  9. Robert Hahl

    “Robinhood IPO is ‘effectively selling investors on exploiting other investors,’ reminds me of the old adage: Capitalism is man exploiting man, while socialism is just the reverse.

  10. XXYY

    The infrastructure bill that started moving again on Wednesday is big, with about $550 billion in new federal spending. But it’s less than a quarter the size of the $2.6 trillion plan President Biden proposed in March, which had $2.2 trillion in spending.

    If Biden had just stayed with it and negotiated a little harder, he. could have gotten his initial proposal all the way down to zero instead of only reducing it 75%. Probably could have picked up a few more GOP votes that way.

    I’m sure his supporters would have applauded it; it’s the effort that counts, right? “We’re fighting for you” and all that?

    1. Oh

      Biden better go and talk to his mentor, Obama so he can get the right results upon negotiating.

  11. jsn

    “The Grayness of the Origin of Life”

    As a cat person, I find “fuzzy” works everywhere greyness is used in this article.

    And it’s cuddly, not the least bit dispiriting! But it wouldn’t have made a good headline, everyone knows the origins of life are fuzzy.

  12. Hepativore

    So, on the Syraqistan front, Biden announces the end of combat operations in Afghanistan…


    Then we are going right back to bombing the region…


    This is basically like W’s declaration of “Mission Accomplished!” in Iraq as the country spiraled into civil unrest. I suppose it makes sense as we have been operating under the same neocon foreign policy for the past three presidential administrations, so why stop now?

    This is the one area where Biden was still polling strongly. I guess the Democrats really do want to lose in the midterms and the 2024 presidential race. Being in charge like they currently are makes it more difficult to pretend that they are unable to give us nice things when the spotlight is shining on them constantly.

  13. GroundZeroAndLovinIt

    It’s obvious the vaccines should not be the U.S.’s only Covid “success” strategy. If efficacy decays around the 6-month mark, but it takes 2 or 3 months to vaccinate metro areas, you have a problem. If, despite 24/7 proselytizing, hectoring, cajoling, bribes, demonization of the unvaccinated, and ruthless online purges of “vaccine suppressive persons,” you still only manage to get 56% of Americans fully vaccinated in the 7 months since the miracles arrived even though they are “free” — you have a problem. If “Vaccines Round One” was not a success because of logistical and social barriers and low uptake, I can’t see any reason to think these rather large problems will magically improve when “Boosters Round Two” supposedly starts up this fall. (It’s almost August and boosters are still just at the PowerPoint stage.)

    How can anyone possibly think Covid passports and vaccine workplace mandates will make it safer in public under these kind of variable conditions in the middle of a pandemic? How is this possibly fair to workers? What if I’m fully vaccinated but not boosted? Do I get to keep my passport? Whether I’m safe to others or not? How do you possibly properly manage something like this? Especially when we don’t know how many doses can can be tolerated, or how many variants will emerge in the coming months. You can’t fix Covid with more bureaucracy. It’s crazy.

    I never would have thought we’d see CDC managing a public health disaster by soft peddling the bad news for Big Pharma in press releases dumped late on Friday afternoons. But here we are. So I guess mandating vaccines that time decay to “end Covid” when you know that won’t work, and making workplaces suck more, makes as much sense. Strange days.

    1. Sawdust

      I’m beginning to suspect that in five years the net result will be about the same as if we’d done nothing at all. Look at Vietnam. They did everything right, but all it really did was delay the inevitable. The vaccines may turn out to be the same. Maybe it was hubris to think that this was ever something that could be controlled.

    2. Phillip Cross

      I think a good incentive to get the shot would be a large heath insurance discount for everyone that gets it, or a risk adjusted surcharge for those that do not.

      At risk and hesitant? You pay more in order to cover all the severe ICU expenses that your cohort will cause.

      1. jsn

        Free medical care if you get the vaccine.

        That would be change the worst maskhole Bubba could believe in.

        And it would directly benefit everyone who needs it most. That’s what a sane civilization would do if it actually wanted to end the pandemic rather than profit from it (for those who get the profits at the cost of others lives).

        1. Screwball

          What a logical solution.

          I wonder what the conversation sounded like when the deep sized that one.

          Spot on. Thank you!

        2. Carolinian

          And if your “maskhole Bubbas” turn out to be African American or Latinix as suggested by IM Doc above? Will your “solution” turn out to be yet another example of white supremacy?

          I think we need to all stop pretending this is a political problem and accept the reality that it is a medical problem. Political pundits using the crisis as a club or a cloak of virtue need to be challenged to put their facts on the table or accept being quite rightly ignored,

          Indeed one big reason many are not being vaxxed is that they are already being ignored. Personally I’d say that distrust is completely justified.

            1. Carolinian

              From above

              The African American community has been profoundly vaccine hesitant, I believe for mainly historical reasons of medical experimentation. I have seen not a thing being done by federal officials to address this problem other than a few lame YouTube videos. The Latinos, by my friends’ account, are vaccine naive because many are afraid to be deported on one hand and on the other will get fired from work for being off a day or two if they got sick after the vaccine.

              So he was talking more about vaccine reluctance. I could contribute anecdotally that last year’s toll in my state hit our large (30 percent) AA population more heavily. And very anecdotally during that same period–when masks in stores were universally required by an unenforced law–those going maskless often seemed to be the Latino customers (once again, very anecdotally).

              All of which is merely to say that stereotypes in this area are useless but that won’t stop many from employing them as detailed in today’s Michael Tracey column in Links.

          1. jsn

            Those African Americans and Latinix would be amongst the ones I meant by “everyone who needs it most”.

            There have been a series of postings and links about the impact in these communities who would be the greatest immediate beneficiaries of universal benefits.

      2. lyman alpha blob

        What if you don’t get vaccinated and drink a Super Big Gulp? Maybe a return to indentured servitude?

        Sarcasm aside, I can see the discount idea, but how do you penalize someone for not taking an experimental emergency treatment?

    3. Cuibono

      How do you possibly properly manage something like this?”

      Digitally. the only way forward. With biometric confirmation

  14. Carolinian

    Re bug zappers–interesting, but I suspect most people who buy them quickly realize they don’t work against mosquitoes and perhaps stop using them. I don’t see many these days and gosh knows we have mosquitoes. What my neighbors do use are companies that spray their yards–perhaps with the stuff the city used to fog from their tanker trucks (malathion?).

    1. ian

      There are traps for mosquitos that work. The mosquitos are attracted to heat and carbon dioxide so the traps burn propane to lure them. Some bug zappers use octonol as an attractant – it works for a while, but needs to be replenished.

  15. hunkerdown

    Zeitgeist watch: yesterday, along a heavily trafficked surface street during rush hour, some typical middle-class youths were festooning their front porch with a 3’x5′ black flag with what appeared to be blood-red vinyl type. It read, “Familyblog Biden and familyblog you for voting for him”. They got the right answer for the wrong reasons.

    And, all the F150 and other truck inventory in Ford’s employee parking lot has finally been removed. I guess Ford will be going Back to the Office soon, too.

  16. Michael Ismoe

    So long, President DeSantis.

    Since when has the body politic punished politicians for ineptitude? Greg Abbott killed a few thousand Texans during the Big Freeze and the only thing standing in the way of his re-election is a stoner actor turned car salesman.

    W destroyed about half the freaking world and was re-elected.

    The King of All Ineptitude spent four years proving that an empty chair is better than Donald Trump came within 60,000 votes of being re-elected.

    Killing your citizens is not an impediment anymore.

    1. Screwball

      It has become the business model.

      Look at all the ways they found to make money off killing people.

  17. dcrane

    “The Grayness of the Origin of Life”

    Haven’t read the article yet, but the essence of life is self-replication with inherited error, for this is what allows natural selection, the basis of adaptative evolution.

  18. LifelongLib

    “Anything that can be acted on by natural selection.”

    Don’t recall where I saw that…

  19. a fax machine

    re: Giants Leap

    This has actually happened before in 1925, 1926, 1927 and 1928. Then, catastrophe struck.

  20. Grebo

    CATL has been realistic. The company has taken a technology viewed as relatively low-end — lithium-iron-phosphate, or LFP, batteries — and made it widely accepted for passenger vehicles.”

    LFP or LiFePO4 batteries are not low end, I think they cost a bit more than regular lithium ions, though they do have slightly lower energy density. The reason they are a good choice for vehicles is they last for many more cycles and they don’t catch fire.

    1. RMO

      Really? I and a few others I know have been using LiFePO4 batteries in gliders for several years now – standard sizes in this application are usually the PS-1270 and PS-1212 format – and while they are about three times the price of a good sealed lead acid AGM they are far less expensive than any of the Lithium Ion batteries of those sizes.

      1. Grebo

        I paid a premium for a LiFePO4 battery for my ebike. I would have thought if they were cheaper vehicle makers would need no persuading to use them. Maybe that’s CATL’s approach.

  21. VietnamVet

    Arrogance and utter incompetence defines both the CDC and NIH. The current system in the West from the top on down the line is solely devoted to extraction of resources and the exploitation of humans to increase the wealth of the rich. Public Health, on the other hand, requires spending money to save lives in times of plague by cutting virus/bacteria/fungi transmission with contact tracing and isolating the infected. But the only money that can be made in a pandemic is patentable treatments and snake oil potions.

    Therefore, the public/corporate managers placed all their eggs in one basket; mRNA gene treatments. They called them vaccines and said that they are safe and effective with only partial short term data. PowerPoint presentations, delusions, and political desire return to normal resulted in the USA reopened without masks and social distancing in the midst of a surge of the much more contagious Delta variant. This is an utter failure of leadership but not unexpected considering the last twenty years of neoliberalism; the invasion of Iraq, the Great Recession, and the collapse of just-in-time logistics.

  22. Jason Boxman

    So the CDC is three months behind NC: C.D.C. Internal Report Calls Delta Variant as Contagious as Chickenpox

    I’m glad someone at CDC finally noticed. The lack of stats collection by the CDC on this is the own goal of the century. The article credits citizen science in the MA outbreak as invaluable in tracking infections among the vaccinated.

    Of course the article ends with a familiar quote, that severe disease is still mostly prevented by vaccination. But what of long COVID. We’ll see.

    Be safe!

  23. The Rev Kev

    ‘Dominique Moceanu
    I was 14 y/o w/ a tibial stress fracture, left alone w/ no cervical spine exam after this fall. I competed in the Olympic floor final minutes later.’

    Some of these athletes are going to the extreme. One Russian fencer injured her ankle but stayed in for her team and had to be carted off in a wheel-chair afterwards. And her sport was one where you stayed standing and not like Simone Biles who did a sport where you could do serious & major damage if you lose situational awareness in the middle of a routine in the air-


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