2:00PM Water Cooler 7/30/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I don’t so much have a calendar as a mental ratchet with five teeth. Occasionally, the ratchet slips, and so I thought yesterday was Friday! Fortunately, you straightened me out. Have a good weekend. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

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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.

Case count by United States regions:

And so we barrel toward achieve 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! I was too conservative. Now, as far as reaching the peak of January 8, 2020, 295,257… I’m not that pessimistic (modulo a new variant brought into the country by our ridiculously lax policies on international quarantines). Still, when you look at those rising counties, you’ve got to think this rise has a way to run. (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.)

UPDATE I meant to add this chart:

To be fair, it looks like the train started rolling a bit before the Fourth, but people travel, shop, and generally prepare before the holiday.

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

Good news from California.

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.) More on county data:

Test positivity:

South running away with the field. But other regions now playing catch-up.

Hospitalization (CDC):

A little dip in 65+. But–

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

“Democrats warn shrinking Biden’s spending plan could backfire” [The Hill]. “Progressive Democrats are sounding the alarm after Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s (D-Ariz.) warned Wednesday that she doesn’t support a $3.5 trillion price tag for an expansive package Democrats hope to muscle through Congress that includes top party priorities like like immigration reform, combating climate change and expanding Medicare. Democrats hope to move the legislation on party lines in the Senate with special budgetary rules, preventing Republicans from filibustering the measure. But that effectively gives each Democratic senator, including Sinema, veto power on the bill. Progressives are warning that a $1.2 trillion bipartisan bill backed by Sinema that is largely focused on ‘traditional’ infrastructure like roads, bridges and broadband will not get to the White House without the larger bill. ‘It is my absolute conviction that you’re not going to have a bipartisan bill unless you have a reconciliation bill of $3.5 trillion,’ Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) told reporters. Sanders added that he expected the spending plan would be $3.5 trillion in the Senate and ‘maybe even more in the House,’ suggesting his counterparts across the Capitol could try to expand the eventual bill even more.” • And speaking of Sinema:

“What’s in it for McConnell? Why the ‘grim reaper’ is backing a Biden priority” [NBC]. “McConnell’s incentives are more complicated than the “Dr. No” image he has cultivated over a decade and a half as the Senate Republican leader, according to senators and aides familiar with his thinking, as well as Democratic antagonists. By acquiescing to a deal, he can reward Republican allies, head off Democratic efforts to end the filibuster and even score some popular goodies for his state.” • I would also bet McConnnell thinks the bill, which is teeny by the side of the original ask, will not be enough to help Biden in 2022 or 2024. So why not cash in? And speaking of cashing in:

I don’t know how serious the booing was, though.

“Trump blows fuse over GOP moving forward on infrastructure deal” [The Hill]. “‘Under the weak leadership of Mitch McConnell, Senate Republicans continue to lose,’ Trump said in a statement. ‘He lost Arizona, he lost Georgia, he ignored Election Fraud and he doesn’t fight.’ ‘Now he’s giving Democrats everything they want and getting nothing in return,’ he continued. ‘No deal is better than a bad deal. Fight for America, not for special interests and Radical Democrats. RINOs are ruining America, right alongside Communist Democrats.'” • Communist Democrats? I wish!

“Harris’s bad polls trigger Democratic worries” [The Hill]. “‘As of right now, I think she has the potential of doing more harm than good for some of these candidates,’ said one Democratic strategist. ‘My sense is she’ll probably raise a lot of money and maybe she’ll go to some specific districts, but they’ll have to be really strategic with her.’ ‘She doesn’t have the standing at this moment to go to a lot of these tighter districts,’ the strategist added. Even some Harris allies are skeptical that she will have a seamless go as a surrogate leading up to next year’s midterm elections. ‘No one is coming out and saying she’s doing an amazing job, because the first question would be ‘On what?’’ acknowledged one Harris ally. ‘She’s made a bunch of mistakes and she’s made herself a story for good and bad.’ A spokesperson for Harris declined to comment.” • With “allies” like these…

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Two Kinds of Pride in American Politics” [Benjamin Studebaker]. “I’ve been thinking about pride’s role in politics. When I say pride, I am not talking about mere self-respect. I am thinking about vanity, about the insidious mistake of thinking we are superior to others when in fact we are their equals. This is pride in the grim, nasty, old-fashioned sense. I think there are two kinds of pride running amok today. One is associated with entrepreneurs, with those who consider themselves ‘self-made.’ The other is associated with professionals, with those who consider themselves ‘educated.” • Neither is correct, surely. More: “Both of these forms of pride have the same function–they enable rich and powerful people to justify contempt for the American worker. The entrepreneur scorns the worker for failing to figure out how to hustle, while the professional scorns the worker for failing to accept “knowledge” from the experts who possess it. On these two grounds, the worker is told that they are unworthy of the social goods which are necessary for any person to reach their potential. They are told that they cannot enjoy access to quality healthcare, affordable housing, true education, affordable energy, and even sustenance. They are blamed for the situations they are in, and no effort is made on their behalf. The Republican Party is dominated by entrepreneurs, and the Democratic Party is dominated by professionals. Neither party thinks the workers morally deserve access to a set of basic, fundamental economic rights. Both are deeply prideful and deeply wicked, in different ways. The proud Republican tells the worker to figure it all out on their own, while the proud Democrat tells the worker that their interests and needs cannot be a priority until they accept the “knowledge”. Caught between a rock and the hard place, the worker is condemned to endless toil, with no time and no energy left for escape. All the worker can do is persevere and hope for a brighter future, in this life or the next.” • Interesting. Pride goeth before a fall….

“The Rapture (Summer Repeat)” (podcast) [In Our Time]. “Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the ideas developed by the Anglican priest John Nelson Darby (1800-1882), drawn from his reading of scripture, in which Jesus would suddenly take His believers up into the air, and those left behind would suffer on Earth until He returned with His church to rule for a thousand years before Final Judgement. Some believers would look for signs that civilization was declining, such as wars and natural disasters, or for new Roman Empires that would harbour the Antichrist, and from these predict the time of the Rapture. Darby helped establish the Plymouth Brethren, and later his ideas were picked up in the Scofield Reference Bible (1909) and soon became influential, particularly in the USA.” • Still influential today; see the Left Behind series of novels.

Stats Watch

Manufacturing: “United States Chicago PMI” [Trading Economics]. “The Chicago Business Barometer jumped to 73.4 in July of 2021 from 66.1 in June, the second-highest pandemic-era reading. Demand is strong but firms remain concerned about supply chain disruptions and rising prices. Among the main five indicators, production saw the largest increase, followed by New Orders, while Supplier Deliveries remained unchanged.”

Income: “June 2021 Real Income And Expenditures – Inflation Continues To Impact” [Econintersect]. “The data continues to be affected by the pandemic as comparisons are to the recession one year ago, and now inflation. Inflation is now significantly impacting growth as it is now 4.0 %…. The real issue with personal income and expenditures is that it jumps around because of backward revisions – and one cannot take any single month as fixed or gospel.”

* * *

Finance: “How Credit Suisse failed at basic risk management” [Felix Salmon, Axios]. “When Tidjane Thiam was fired as CEO of Credit Suisse in early 2020, the stated reason was his involvement in a spying scandal. Now that an incendiary report has been released by Credit Suisse about the bank’s internal risk controls under Thiam’s leadership, it looks like he was fired for the wrong reason. The 165-year-old Credit Suisse, with its trillion-dollar balance sheet and 50,000 employees, is one of the most systemically important financial institutions in the world. The weakness of its internal controls, exposed by the collapse of the Archegos hedge fund, amounts to a major international scandal. Credit Suisse lost $5.5 billion as a result of effectively lending Archegos money that the fund couldn’t repay. Credit Suisse had multiple layers of risk management designed to avert exactly the kind of catastrophe that ultimately ensued.” • Hmm.

Commodities: “It’s going to get more expensive to drown your sorrows over rising commodity costs. The makers of some of the world’s bestselling food and drink brands say they will keep raising prices… as they cope with rising raw materials and transportation expenses. Companies across many sectors are contending with rising costs from coffee to aluminum and shipping as the recovery from Covid-19 gains steam” [Wall Street Journal]. “That is leading to higher prices for many goods. Some are adjusting supply-chain strategies, but for drinks makers like Diageo and Anheuser-Busch InBev there’s little room to save on shipping costs for their dense, heavy liquid products. AB InBev’s second-quarter sales rose 28%, but the brewer is paying more for barley and freight, and says surging demand for cans in the U.S. has forced the company to import them from elsewhere, raising costs still more.” • I’ve never heard of Beer Riots, but there’s a first time for everything….

Real Estate: “The bottlenecks at big U.S. seaports are reaching into the warehousing market. Space at storage centers near maritime gateways is drying up… as the flood of container imports makes warehousing harder to find and more expensive. The logistics-center logjam is hitting an industrial property sector that has long been a seller’s market as growing e-commerce demand has put a premium on distribution centers, particularly those closer to population centers” [Wall Street Journal]. “The retailer effort to restock depleted inventories this year has exacerbated the warehouse capacity constraints as shippers and logistics providers look to pull goods away from bogged-down transportation networks. Vacancy rates in Southern California’s warehouse-heavy Inland Empire region are down below 2%.”

Shipping: “American port congestion worsens” [Splash 24/7]. “Summer is proving to be fearsomely hot for dockworkers on every coast of America, working record volumes of boxes with ships forming long queues at many gateways as peak season arrives on what has already been a peak year. The grave situation has been made worse by strained rail connections inland and rollover effects from earlier disruptions such as the Covid outbreak at key Chinese export hub Yantian, which saw the port work at just 30% of capacity for most of June. The number of ships backing up outside San Pedro Bay, home to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, America’s two main gateways, is increasing towards record levels experienced earlier in the pandemic. Current anchorage times have also broached the five-day mark, hitting already dire carrier schedule reliability figures.”

Shipping: “The holiday shopping season isn’t turning into fun and games for toy makers. Big manufacturers Mattel and Hasbro are navigating around supply-chain disruptions to get their goods in stores this year… while suppliers and smaller toy companies are scrambling to renegotiate prices with retailers amid rising materials and shipping costs” [Wall Street Journal]. “Toy industry veterans say this year’s disruption is worse than last year when the Covid-19 outbreak temporarily shut many ports, factories and stores. Mattel, which owns several factories in Asia, said it was leveraging its geographically diverse manufacturing footprint to minimize the effect of freight bottlenecks. Smaller companies have fewer options, and some say they are losing out in bidding wars for tight space in container shipping networks.”

The Bezzle: “Nikola Founder Pleads Not Guilty, Freed on $100 Million Bail” [Bloomberg]. “Nikola Corp. founder and former chairman Trevor Milton was freed by a judge on $100 million bond, after pleading not guilty to charges that he misled investors about the status of the electric-vehicle maker. The bail was secured by two properties that Milton owns in Utah, one of which is worth $36 million and the other $4 million, lawyers said at the hearing Thursday in Manhattan federal court.” • $100 million? That’s nice.

The Bezzle: “Here are all the wildest allegations from the former Nikola chairman indictment” [CNN]. “A truck with the doors duct-taped on. Ford pickups masquerading as something else. The head of a company running to google whether or not the thing he had just promised inventors was even physically possible. These are some of the wildest allegations from charging documents filed this morning against Trevor Milton, the founder and former chairman of electric-and-hydrogen vehicle company Nikola.” • Who does he think he is? Elon Musk?

The Bezzle: Whoopsie:

Those battery banks look awfully close together….

The Bezzle: “FTC’s Lina Khan blames digital platforms for surge in consumer fraud” [MarketWatch]. “‘Fraud has continued to surge,’ Ms. Khan said Wednesday before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. ‘One reason is that fraud today is supercharged by digital platforms where this conduct is tolerated and even promoted.’… ‘Ms. Khan has shaken up the FTC by holding two public meetings — the agency’s first in decades — and overseeing a series of policy changes after being sworn in June 15.'” • Public meetings! Two of them!

Tech: “Privacy Implications of Accelerometer Data: A Review of Possible Inferences” [Association for Computer Machinery]. “It has been shown in experiments, however, that seemingly innocuous sensors can be used as a side channel to infer highly sensitive information about people in their vicinity. Drawing from existing literature, we found that accelerometer data alone may be sufficient to obtain information about a device holder’s location, activities, health condition, body features, gender, age, personality traits, and emotional state. Acceleration signals can even be used to uniquely identify a person based on biometric movement patterns and to reconstruct sequences of text entered into a device, including passwords. In the light of these possible inferences, we suggest that accelerometers should urgently be re-evaluated in terms of their privacy implications, along with corresponding adjustments to sensor protection mechanisms.”

Manufacturing: “Bjorn’s Corner: The challenges of airliner development. Part 14. The ATO.” [Leeham News and Analysis]. A long (obviously) series on the project milestones in aircraft development. A sample of the flavor: “For established OEMs, Authorization to Offer (ATO), is an important milestone in the pre-launch phase. At this point, technical teams have enough confidence in the configuration that the product will achieve its key objectives, such as performance, maintenance cost, passenger experience, etc. The preparation work with suppliers also helps create a schedule that is agreeable to suppliers.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 26 Fear (previous close: 30 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 32 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 30 at 12:42pm.

Health Care

“CDC mask decision followed stunning findings from Cape Cod beach outbreak” [ABC]. A week after the crowds descended upon Provincetown, Massachusetts, to celebrate the Fourth of July — the holiday President Joe Biden hoped would mark the nation’s liberation from COVID-19 — the manager of the Cape Cod beach town said he was aware of ‘a handful of positive COVID cases among folks’ who spent time there. But within weeks, health officials seemed to be on to something much bigger. The outbreak quickly grew to the hundreds and most of them appeared to be vaccinated. As of Thursday, 882 people were tied to the Provincetown outbreak. Among those living in Massachusetts, 74% of them were fully immunized, yet officials said the vast majority were also reporting symptoms. Seven people were reported hospitalized…. All indications now are that the Provincetown outbreak investigation is among the pieces of new evidence behind the CDC’s decision to ask Americans to once again put on their masks indoors, even if they are vaccinated.” • Hmm.

“Lung Virus Fills U.S. Children’s Hospitals as Isolation Ends” [Bloomberg]. “Oklahoma and Louisiana health officials said that a surge in cases of a virus more frequently seen in winter is filling hospital pediatric wards as children emerge from Covid isolation. Respiratory syncytial virus usually causes mild coldlike symptoms and most people recover in weeks, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms include runny nose, loss of appetite, fever and wheezing. Infants and older adults are at heightened risk of severe disease from the pathogen. RSV has been climbing nationally since April, as children who endured extended isolation during the early months of the pandemic emerged to interact more with peers at school, camps and playgrounds. The virus is generally seen in colder months when kids are packed together indoors in classrooms or at daycare centers. The big out-of-season jump means hospitals are crowded with young patients at a time when they are also confronting a rise in coronavirus infections due to the delta variant. ”

The Biosphere

“Carbon capture’s next act” [Financial Times]. “After a slow start, spending on carbon capture and storage — seen by many analysts as essential in the fight against climate change — is ratcheting up in the US. Government incentives are coaxing investors toward the technology, which traps emissions before they can be released into the atmosphere so that they can be reused or stored.  There were ten US carbon capture projects announced in the first half of this year, according to a new analysis by the Clean Air Task Force, an environmental group. That was more than the total number of projects announced in 2020. ‘We’re just really excited about this flourishing pipeline of projects in development,’ Lee Beck, international director for carbon capture at the CATF, told ES. ‘Since mid-2020, projects are really taking off.’ The projects are mainly split between capturing the emissions from power plants, like gas and coal, and those from industry, such as cement and ethanol production. One, backed by Occidental Petroleum, aims to deploy direct air capture technology, stripping carbon directly from the atmosphere. The growing number of project announcements has been fuelled by a 2018 overhaul of the 45Q tax credit, which offers developers up to $50 per tonne of carbon captured and permanently stored. The pandemic, coupled with a lack of clarity over how to claim the credit, led to a slowdown in 2020 — but momentum has now returned.”

“Truth or Consequences” [Chris Jones, IIHR Research Engineer]. “We developed a single-value metric of water quality for Iowa streams based on a formula developed by the province of Alberta and Iowa water quality measurements for dissolved oxygen (DO), E. coli bacteria (EC), total nitrogen (N; nitrate + nitrate + ammonia + organic nitrogen), total phosphorus (P) and turbidity (TURB; clarity)…. I’ve aggregated water quality data for 44 Iowa stream sites from DNR’s website…. Only 3 out of the 44 stream sites are noticeably better over the past five years, when compared to the 2000-2016 period. 27 sites are noticeably worse.”

Department of Feline Felicity

Nature abhors a vaccuum:

Feral Hog Watch

Just because a hog starts out feral doesn’t mean they have to stay feral:

Zeitgeist Watch

“The Internet’s Favorite Prank Just Reached An Epic Milestone” [HuffPost]. “Rickrolling is the not-so-subtle art of tricking someone into watching Rick Astley’s ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ video, which just topped 1 billion views on YouTube. ‘That is mind-blowing,’ Astley said on Twitter. ‘The world is a wonderful and beautiful place, and I am very lucky.'” • Resisting temptation, here…

“Ita O’Brien: in-demand on-screen intimacy coordinator” [Courier-Mail]. “Britain’s Ita O’Brien is one of cinema’s unsung stars, ensuring actors are comfortable filming their most sensitive scenes in a job she has made her own. Preserving the intimacy of an artist filming a rape depiction, setting up a sex scene with a virgin actor and identifying the limits each actor is comfortable with are all issues that O’Brien is regularly confronted with.” • She could be making a lot more money consulting to college administrators on Title IX issues…

“Dallas Steakhouses Were Always Going to End Up Serving $1,000 Gold-Wrapped Slabs of Meat” [Texas Monthly]. “It’s dining as a sport, and the recently opened Nusr-Et, with its $1,100 gold foil–wrapped tomahawk steak, is the new medal of honor. To be fair, the steak isn’t always quite that expensive. Without the edible (and flavorless) gold, it’s a relative bargain at $275. If you’re lucky, chef Nusret Gökçe, better known as Salt Bae, will be in town to slice the steak with his scimitar blade and season it from a proffered bowl of salt, which he sprinkles down his shiny, oft-memed forearm. After expanding from the Middle East to Miami and Las Vegas, the bawdy butcher’s Dallas outpost opened in March. The gold-wrapped steak isn’t about the flavor, however; it’s about the ’gram. (A company spokesperson, who declined to comment on the chain’s high prices, refers to Nurs-Et’s dishes as art pieces.) Instagram and Twitter made Salt Bae famous, and diners purchasing his stunt are undoubtedly posting for their own share of the likes.”

Class Warfare

Filing this here, especially for the last sentence:

Something to be said for this:

“Age of Invention: An Absent Atlantic” [Anton Howes, Age of Invention]. “I’ve become engrossed this week by a book written in 1638 by the merchant Lewes Roberts — The Marchant’s Mappe of Commerce. It is, in effect, a guide to how to be a merchant, and an extremely comprehensive one too. For every trading centre he could gather information about, Roberts noted the coins that were current, their exchange rates, and the precise weights and measures in use. He set down the various customs duties, down even to the precise bribes you’d be expected to pay to various officials… But as for the recently-established English colonies on the mainland, which Roberts refers to collectively as Virginia, he writes barely a few sentences. Although he reproduces some of the propaganda about what is to be found there — no mention yet of tobacco by the way, with the list consisting largely of foodstuffs, forest products, tar, pitch, and a few ores — the entirety of New England is summarised only as a place “said to be” resorted to by religious dissenters. The island colonies on Barbados and Bermuda were also either too small or too recently established to merit much attention. To the worldly London merchant then, the New World was still peripheral — barely an afterthought, with the two continents meriting a mere 11 pages, versus Africa’s 45, Asia’s 108, and Europe’s 262.” • 1638 isn’t 1776, of course.

News of the Wired

I am not feeling particulary wired today. It’s… It’s Friday, who could be wired?

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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 (Carla):

Carla writes: “From The Blue Ridge Parkway, near Boone, NC.”

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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. Louis Fyne

    at my local mega-lo mart, name-brand N95 respirators were 20 for $17.99.

    Media instead of being hysterical should educate re. the different masks.

    in the early days, 1-ply fabric was “something better than nothing” given the scarcity of N95 and KF94 (Korean standard) and KN95 (Chinese standard).

    now with ample supply,if one is really concernedabout Delta (and/or immuno-compromised_high-risk), you should get a N95/KF94 (reportedly there is a big variqnce of quality in KN95 masks)

    1. antidlc

      I had purchased some N95’s from United States Mask and went back to purchase some more and found this notice on their website:

      A little while ago, we suspended production of our Model 1836. Our 1836 N95 is certified by NIOSH under the public health emergency, which means the 1836’s approval is only effective while the emergency use of personal respiratory protective devices is in effect. United States Mask was one of a select few who were approved to manufacture N95’s under this emergency use authorization and we’re proud of that. The 1836 N95 represents what we’re capable of when Americans set their mind to something.

      Is there something about the NIOSH certification under the “public health emergency” that differs from the normal NIOSH certification?

      1. Jason Boxman

        Wow, looks like they still have some in stock of the public health emergency N95s. I think given the current environment I might buy some. The cheap N95s I bought locally don’t fit tightly over the nose, so the level of protection is questionable.


    2. Lee

      We’re using the P-100 Elipse. Also comes in handy when wildfire smoke comes pouring into and settling in the SF bay area.

      1. Louis Fyne

        from what little of the games I’ve seen, Americans are wearing modified KN95 or N95 masks? (the masks with the red USA lettering embroidered on the sides)


  2. IM Doc

    Update from today –

    Again – no one in the hospital, no one in the ER, but a few people on the horizon that may need to be hospitalized. There are still outpatients coming in sick with COVID both vaccinated and unvaccinated.

    This past weekend, there was a cultural event sponsored in our town by some of the very well-to-do PMC. About 150 or so in attendance. Part of the price of admission was to show your vaccine cards at the entrance to prove you were fully vaccinated. Of course, there was no masking, social distancing, or really any restrictions once you were in the event. I am told the attendees were told that the hired help were also all vaccinated.

    That was 6 days ago – a fully vaccinated event. I now have over the past 2 days had 5 positive vaccinated “breakthrough patients” just in my practice alone. There are others in other doctor’s practices in town. The total is likely to be less than 10 – unlike the 800 or so breakthroughs in the oh so vaccinated oh so PMC – oh so holy enclave of Provincetown that hit the news yesterday. There were apparently a “couple of young guys” coughing a lot during the event here. Ahhh, but those were still in the heady days when Dr. Walensky had assured all that everything was safe – no masking needed – especially if the deplorable unvaccinated were kept away.

    The truth fairies and their pixie dust have arrived in America. I did not even have to call the health department this time – they are already all over it. Amazing what happens when we follow the science and not politics.

    Folks, basically this was an event with full usage of a vaccine passport analog. Knowing what we know now about these vaccines, anyone in the media or medicine or politics demanding their usage at this time is obviously using them as a cudgel for division and shaming. As you can see at this point, a passport would be completely worthless medically. I remember not too long ago, when the NYT and the New York Magazine were filled with people bragging about Pfizer vaccines and how much more stylish they were. So much more hip than Moderna, you know. I knew in my heart at the time that was not going to age well. What a disaster this is all becoming.

    About the passports – tell me I am wrong – I am all ears.

    1. chris

      Thanks as always for the updates. Curious about whether there is any real difference between Pfizer and Moderna on the ground. Have you noticed anything anecdotal in your experience? Do you see more people who were vaccinated with one versus the other becoming ill with an infection?

      1. IM Doc

        If there is any difference, I sure have not noticed it. They seem to be about equal in every aspect.

        1. chris

          That makes me feel good on two different levels! One, my understanding of the molecules involved is that they’re very similar. The Moderna version was engineered to be slightly better for stability and durability prior to use. And two, all those jerks who thought getting Pfizer made them elite or something stupid like that are wrong. Perhaps someone can update Seuss’s Sneetches for a pandemic to drive the point home…

        2. polar donkey

          IM Doc, Thank you for the updates. I manage a restaurant. My boss is totally blue Anon, PMC’er. True believer in the vaccines. I try to explain to him the things you have been saying for weeks, but if not in the NYTs, it isn’t true. I have been able give warning to most of the staff. Thanks again

          1. Jason

            Even the old grey lady prints some truths sometimes, albeit in their own manner. This is from their headline article right now:

            Even the vaccinated carry high virus levels if they become infected, the agency concluded, making it likely they can transmit the virus as often as the unvaccinated. If so, they may be contributing to increases in new infections…

            Of course, it’s followed by this entirely unsupported contention:

            … — although probably to a far lesser degree than the unvaccinated.


    2. Arizona Slim

      IM Doc, there are days when I feel like I just can’t look at another round of Naked Capitalism. It’s just too depressing.

      And then I look at one of your comments. You sure aren’t talking about happy stuff, but I do appreciate the level of detail and your honesty. Especially your honesty.

      If we ever meet in person, I’m buying. Doesn’t matter if it’s beer, wine, scotch, or good ole grape juice. I am BUYING!

      1. chris

        Yeah, Naked Capitalism is a post grad seminar on “Ignorance is Bliss.” Dangerous! But blissful :/

      2. IM Doc

        I will tell you – there are days I get really discouraged. And then I read things like this – and realize that this community is one of the most awesome sounding boards I have ever had.

            1. Arizona Slim

              The one I just finished drinking? Meh. Not an effort I’d care to repeat.

              However, I just started another one. This time, I promise to do things right.

    3. Carolinian

      Anyone [cough] Joe Biden. But he means well [???]

      Apparently yesterday’s announcement on Federal workers says they may stay unvaxxed but undergo frequent testing, wear a mask, stay 6 ft distant. Walensky said she wasn’t sure vax requirement on experimental drug was legal so this is the out.

      1. Louis

        The word in some circles is that if the penalty for not being vaccinated is telework, a lot of federal workers will “lose” their vaccine cards.

    4. EMHO80

      I posted the following comment in Links as well. However, this may be better place since IM DOC is commenting here as well!

      Covid Update for Rockwall, TX:
      I had to take my neighbor to the hospital ER early this morning, due to recurring non-Covid health issues.
      When we arrived around 5 a.m. the ER was full and the staff had problems finding a berth for my friend to be examined at.
      The nurses seemed flustered and overwhelmed at the influx of patients. I asked a non-nurse staff member what the ailments for all these patients were, and was told most were believed to be Covid. And that the influx had started a day before. I was unable to find out about vaccination status of patients.
      After making sure my friend was taking care off, I left and decided to go into quarantine and am scheduling a PCR test. I’m glad I was wearing an N95 mask and that I’m fully vaccinated.
      The situation at the ER is very different from what it was 3 weeks ago when I took my friend there before. There had been no long wait times and staff seemed comfortable and not stressed!
      It should also be noted that Rockwall is a rich white collar/PMC town were vaccination uptake was high and so was mask compliance until late May/early June.
      Now you see very few people masked at Walmart or elsewhere!
      Please be careful outthere, and start restocking supplies. My feeling is that we will return to conditions of April 2020 very soon.

      1. curlydan

        Thanks for the updates. Just went to my rural Walmart supercenter. Walmart apparently is now requiring all employees to wear a mask since every employee was masked. And they have “free” masks up front for the customers. So I’d say about 10% of the customers were wearing masks as well which is up from about 1% a week ago.

      2. IM Doc

        I do not know about Rockwall – but My God – you should look at Houston (Harris County) – they are having a parabolic spike in cases in just the past 3 days.

    5. zagonostra

      Knowing what we know now about these vaccines, anyone in the media or medicine or politics demanding their usage at this time is obviously using them as a cudgel for division and shaming

      No, you’re not wrong. Although I’m viewing this from a civil liberties’ standpoint and not from as a healthcare professional, when I weigh competing principles (security/liberty) I have to agree with you. I appreciate you sharing your sentiments/judgement. It provides a certain “gravitas” that would otherwise be missing if you weren’t expressing yourself freely.

    6. Shonde

      Were the viral loads higher in the vaccinated vs the un-vaccinated for this round of patients as they appeared to be in one of your previous reports?

      As others have said, thank you for your reports. You are not only caring for your patient community but also with the information in your reports, you are caring for the community of NC.

      1. Arizona Slim

        Agreed. It’s why I think that IM Doc is a doctor in the finest sense of the word.

      2. IM Doc

        The only time I have the cycle threshold information is when the patients are admitted to the hospital. In any other case – I have no idea what the cycle thresholds are on any of my other patients. Just positive or negative.

        When the book is written about this whole affair, this one issue will be one of the scandals. We in medicine have access to every other single test on earth that we order. But somehow, the clinicians are not allowed to see the cycle thresholds for COVID. It has only been very recently that the hospital has been providing this and I understand today that this may not be continued.

        Cycle thresholds are not a YES/NO kind of test – it is a spectrum. Spectrum tests are not unusual in medicine – take the ANA or any number of other infectious disease titers. We are trained to understand all of these tests and interpret their positivity in our own patients based on their symptoms.

        In COVID, the interpretation on these has all been done by some nameless lab drone somewhere far away. Time and time again the past 18 months, I have had patients that have POSITIVE tests – but I am not really sure they actually have COVID. Having the information that the threshold was 16 (likely very positive) or 40 (likely a nothingburger) would have been invaluable and saved so much stress on the system. But alas, they did not want us to have these numbers for whatever reason. I guess you can use your own imagination. The whole thing has been one scandal after another.

        1. Acacia

          Incredible. Do we know anything about who decided this policy on not sharing cT with clinicians? Vaccine makers?

          BTW, I deeply appreciate everything you are sharing with us here, IM Doc, and happy to hear you’re recovered. We’re in a very scary situation, but reading your reports and the following discussions really goes a long way to keeping informed, minimizing risk, and feeling safer.

          1. Isotope_C14

            I’ll chime in here, as I used to do mosquito West Nile Virus (WNV) diagnostics in a laboratory.

            Technically, it’s not legal. I forgot a ton about this part until I responded to IM Doc on a much earlier thread. The fact he’s getting cT’s now is pretty cool.

            Most of the kits and reagents say directly on the packaging, “for research use only, not diagnostic”. The diagnostic kits have to be more expensive, and are probably exactly the same as the science ones. Someone’s gotta grift.

            Now – on the science side, you would always do three replicates for a patient sample of the desired virus DNA. You would also do *at least* 1 housekeeping gene to show that your sample had the correct amount of initial sample, whether that is a particular gene like 45S or some other housekeeping gene is irrelevant, you would do 3 of those too.

            I have not done any kind of diagnostics outside of many years ago with the WNV and St. Louis encephalitis, but the mosquito abatement districts were given +/- as the assay described. We did *not* do 45S, or any other housekeeping gene for the mosquito RNA. We *did* know how many mosquitoes were in the pool though.

            If one is to truly believe the PCR values, you absolutely must have a housekeeping gene, and I doubt those are done. If you were to do that, a 384 well plate could only test 64 samples at a time. I doubt anyone is taking this that seriously.

            1. IM Doc

              I appreciate the info. I did not know about the housekeeping gene issue. As I stated, I am being told today that the cT will be pulled from the charts.

              It is important to realize that PCR testing was never meant to be used in the way it is being used now in COVID. That too has been a whole other scandal. And then on top of that, the “changing the goalposts” on the cT has been dubious at best – especially the timing – literally the day that Biden won the election. I will let people use their imagination on that too. I am not now nor will I ever be a Trump supporter – but I also do not believe in coincidence. The fact that happened on that day or very shortly thereafter made me realize instantly that games were being played.

              1. Isotope_C14

                In 100% agreement on the PCR testing, don’t know if you read Kary Mulllis’ book, but it’s an *interesting* read.

                I think I mentioned on another thread, that figuring out colony forming units (CFU) [The gold standard for diagnostics of live virus quantification – for those of you without IM Doc’s background] and comparing them to cT would have been a perfect use of manpower in this type of pandemic, to essentially establish the range of error in the RT-PCR method in human samples collected in a real-world setting.

                I’m guessing this wasn’t done because prior attempts generated unpublishable data with bad p values. (Further rendering the PCR test as essentially a +/- assay.)

                So they aren’t giving cT’s as of tomorrow? That’s disappointing – I like every bit of data since I’m on the lookout for ADE.

                @RWMalone on twitter has gained approximately 20k followers in the last 2 days. He’s quite concerned that we are seeing ADE.

                Pfizer’s twitter is pretty funny today too. They informed us that they are developing “treatments” for when the vaccine doesn’t work quite right, and the entire comment thread is “Iv*rm#ctin” and other angry posts.

                We live in interesting times.

                1. petal

                  Hi Isotope! Just a correction, his twitter handle is @RWMaloneMD. In case anyone else is interested in visiting it. I hope you are doing well!

        2. Arizona Slim

          When the book is written about this whole affair? IM Doc, I hope you are saving your comments so that you can be the one who writes that book. I would gladly buy an autographed copy.

          1. The Rev Kev

            I would literally buy a copy of such a book from here in Oz. But I think that he may find it hard to find a US-based publisher for such a book due to its explosive revelations.

            1. Arizona Slim

              One word: Crowdfunding. And I would be more than happy to chip in for the IM Doc book.

      3. Kurtismayfield

        This is the CDC data from the Town outbreak:


        I’ll quote the money shot:

        In July 2021, following multiple large public events in a Barnstable County, Massachusetts, town, 469 COVID-19 cases were identified among Massachusetts residents who had traveled to the town during July 3–17; 346 (74%) occurred in fully vaccinated persons. Testing identified the Delta variant in 90% of specimens from 133 patients. Cycle threshold values were similar among specimens from patients who were fully vaccinated and those who were not.

        So, 74% of the positive patients were vaccinated. And viral loads were similar in vaccinated and unvaccinated.

        This is why the CDC is freaked out.

        1. ChrisPacific

          Yes, I think that’s the real bombshell. No difference in viral load between vaccinated and unvaccinated, which means vaccines are of minimal or no value in preventing spread, although there’s still evidence they reduce the severity if you catch it. So it appears the real threat to public health is all those abandoning masking, distancing etc. because they’re vaccinated and think there is no danger, along with the government officials enabling them.

          1. Cocomaan

            So we went from asymptomatic carriers are not common to them being everywhere. Good job folks.

          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            I always remember having heard right from the start that all the mRNA neo-vaccinoids were ever intended to do was limit the severity of a coronavid infection if you got one. The way I always heard it right from the start was that the mRNA neo-vaccinoids were never intended to prevent actual viral infection, which they would never lift a finger to do.
            So I never expected any different.

            So where were people hearing that the mRNA neo-vaccinoids would “prevent infection”?

            The whole reason I got Moderna shots 1 and 2 was so that if I got infected, the severity of the disease would be limited. Given my age, weight and co-morbities, that seemed survival-critical to me.

        2. Jen

          One of the reasons I love IM Doc’s on the ground reporting is that it refines my BS detector. IM Doc was reporting a 70/30 vaccinated/unvaccinated ratio in the cases they were seeing. The MA data is similar.

          IM Doc also reported that the vaccinated had a higher viral load than the unvaccinated among their patients.

          IMO “similar” might be doing a lot of work here. Show us the data or go home.

          1. Kurtismayfield

            The real time PCR Ct values are in the CDC publication. I just quoted the summary

            Real-time RT-PCR Ct values in specimens from 127 fully vaccinated patients (median = 22.77) were similar to those among 84 patients who were unvaccinated, not fully vaccinated, or whose vaccination status was unknown (median = 21.54) (Figure 2

            So the vaccinated took slightly longer to pass the background threshold of fluorescence than the unvaccinated. I have never done thiis test, so I cannot attest to this being normal or not.

      4. IM Doc

        I want to make sure we all understand one big caveat.

        The PCR cT do indicate the likely viral load in a specimen. It is a strong suggestion of how much viral load is there. However, the gold standard to confirm this requires vigorous microbiological/virological testing.

        I am sure we will be hearing about these results in the coming days.

    7. Pelham

      Isn’t it possible — as your example suggests — that people who are vaccinated are routinely more careless than those who aren’t, accounting in part for the high number of breakthrough cases?

      For instance, if 100 vaccinated people get together indoors without masks and one has the Delta variant and spreads it thoroughly through the crowd, maybe 40 get Covid and have symptoms instead of, say, 80.

      But if 100 unvaccinated and non-immune people avoid getting together in the first place and take some precautions with masks, none of them get Covid.

      Out of the 40 vaccinated people with breakthrough cases, maybe 4 show up at the hospital while, again, none of the unvaccinated people do. So from the hospital perspective it appears the vaccines are worthless when they actually do a fair bit of good — although they don’t seem to be anywhere near good enough to prevent the spread of Delta without additional measures.

      So, in sum, when it comes to the question of a vaccine passport, yeah, I see your point.

      1. IM Doc

        Your points are very good ones – and yes we get a very skewed look at things when just looking at the hospital numbers.

        You are making EXACTLY the point why it was almost criminally negligent for the CDC to just focus their datasets on the HOSPITALIZED breakthroughs. It is one of the most bone-headed things I have ever seen done in medicine – and I have seen a lot. Once you do that, all the while encouraging people to rip the masks off, you have not a clue what is going on in your community.

        I am not a data base expert or a data retrieval expert. But I am fairly confident that the negligence has been so complete here that these datasets could never be reconstructed even if you tried. Nor can I fathom a way to finesse what we do have to make any sense at all.

        It is absolutely absurd that this was allowed to happen at this juncture in the pandemic.

        1. Mikel

          “It is absolutely absurd that this was allowed to happen at this juncture in the pandemic.”

          That’s being generous. This was done to SPREAD the virus. You’ve got alot of social darwinist clowns out there.

          1. Yves Smith

            Nope. Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by stupidity.

            This site since its inception has effectively been about the moronic, or at best extremely short-sighted actions of our supposed betters. The conduct become more obvious with an actual collective crisis, where lives really are at stake.

            1. Cuibono

              But odd isnt it that stupidity always seems to profit a small group of people and not the rest of us

              1. Yves Smith

                It depends how you define profit. Highly unequal societies are unhealthy. The inequality reduces lifespans even of the wealthiest. Having to think about panic rooms, bodyguards, rapid escapes to your bolthole (and worrying how to assure the loyalty of your private jet pilot) isn’t the way I’d like to live. In Latin America, snipers on the roofs in wealthy ‘hoods has long been a normal sight.

                1. Cuibono

                  Thank you Yves for making clear the big picture of wealth is not all about $
                  For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, but lose his soul?

      2. Cuibono

        it could be as you say. but we really don’t know. One might as easily say that the unvaccinated are the rebels: no mask, no rules, no govt. Seems pretty high risk to me.

      1. Arizona Slim

        Earlier this week, I was invited to participate in a mid-September trade show in Phoenix. Ummmm, no. My feet are staying firmly planted here in Tucson.

    8. IM Doc


      Just got off a Zoom conference with a bunch of ID and Epidemiology Docs at my old academic center.

      Wow – talk about faces sucking down dill pickles. There are some very sullen folks in academic circles tonight.

      It was more of a question and answer and general discussion session than a presentation. Those are often the best.

      Lots and lots of discussion about boosters. And the wisdom of doing such a thing in the setting of the rapidly evolving genomic changes in the virus. Very very technical. I will not go into this now. I am certain we are going to be hearing all kinds of stuff about this issue in the next few weeks.

      The same question I brought up about the vaccine passports was brought up. Literally no one in the room could come up with a reason anymore. No one.

      But the most interesting and thought provoking question came up at the very end –

      Given what we now know, how can we even begin to justify the forced vaccination of college students with these vaccines – and how can we justify the forced vaccination of young health care workers with these vaccines. In both cases, the presumed reason to do so is to stop spread. Since we know that is not happening how can we possibly justify this coercion?

      Lots of discussion, consternation, back and forth and up and down. No real answers – and lots of anger.

      The college students I have no good answer, nor did they. The health care workers I can somewhat see because of their risk profile – but certainly not spreading the virus anymore.

      I really have to ponder this question for a while – I am posing this here to the NC commenters – some of the brightest people I know.

      1. juliania

        Thank you for this update, IM Doc. I would class your informative posts with those of Michael Hudson in the field of the economy. There is an honest and honorable depth to them that restores my faith in human nature. And I am reminded of the post here by Jeotsu: “…The worst thing we can do with this virus is allow it to keep circulating in the population…”

        Always it is worthwhile to circle back on NC’s commentary after a first read through.

      2. Cuibono

        the argument that I hear in my circles is that the vaccine must decrease the transmission even if it doesn’t block it and therefore we must in good conscience mandate it to gain this albeit much smaller benefit.

        I ask: so how much decrease would be enough to abrogate the ethical principle of autonomy ?

        1. Yves Smith

          The data we’ve kept flagging out of Israel doesn’t confirm that. Case levels among vaccinated and unvaccinated were absolutely proportional.

          The vaccines do appear to reduce the level of bad outcomes.

    9. MLK

      From: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2021/07/cdc-coronavirus-masks-vaccines-indoors/619592/

      “Our vaccines are very powerful, but their performance was first measured in clinical trials while masking was widespread. Study volunteers were “asked to act as if they were unvaccinated, and keep all other protections in place,” Michal Tal, an immunologist at Stanford, told me.”

      Can anyone in the know unpack this statement for me in a quantitative way? Without masking what is the efficacy of vaccines?


      1. IM Doc

        I have heard lots of reasoning for these vaccine issues we are seeing the past few weeks – but that one is new. I really need to read the entire article – but it seems to suggest that they would work differently in a masking environment or a non-masking environment. That is someone pulling at straws.

        When these issues first became observable a few weeks ago – colleagues were stating – “These vaccines are very complicated to deliver and give. It is obvious that a lot of these vaccines were not delivered or given in a way they could survive – that is why this failure is occurring.”

        Then as the numbers became worse – there was a shift – but the excuse always start with the same general clause – “The vaccines are clearly the best vaccines medicine has ever produced. I just simply do not believe these people. They say they were vaccinated – but they really were not – they are just making that all up so they do not look bad.”

        I only wish I was kidding.

      2. Cuibono

        the trails were clearly carried out in very low risk population based on the total number of infections in both arms of the trial. And that is not out of the ordinary. Perhaps efficacy is harder not just in an environment with new strains like Delta but more real world conditions.

    10. blowncue

      Hey I might have been flat broke and busted 30 years ago but I still knew how to scrape up enough money to have a weekend in Provincetown, or not and just trade off my good looks. Seriously I started hearing about adult cases of breakthroughs from friends of mine out in Los Angeles and what is Provincetown it’s just a party town in the summertime just like Vegas or Miami except you’ve got this very narrow street Commercial Street that’s packed with people you’ve got restaurants and you’ve got clubs and you get people who pack together in tight spaces. I remember watching family and friends get sick, the nucleoside analogues would stop working. I never believed anybody’s vaccine would be a permanent universal shield.

      Passports are useless if you have variants that will evade vaccines. Masks and ventilation and air recycling and it’s time to spread out.

  3. Mikel

    “CDC mask decision followed stunning findings from Cape Cod beach outbreak”

    Because the warnings (about vaccinated getting sick) a few months ago from doctors in India and Israel meant zero like the Asian countries that masked up at the beginning of 2020.

    I guess experts only matter if they come from certain countries.

  4. fresno dan

    The terrain is mixed hardwood and pine forest and farmland with the forlorn ruins of bygone industry decrepitating here and there. The biking surface is about 40 percent crushed stone, 40 percent asphalt paving, and the rest stretches of regular country road where a car or two might pass by you. It’s a rare blessing these days to move through a landscape with no engines ringing in your ears, but it’s also a highly exceptional feature within the ubiquitous demolition derby of our national life, mainly a recreational thing.

    After a couple of hours toodling north in tranquility, we reentered the real world at Fort Ann, biking another quarter-mile to a convenience store on the main intersection of State Routes 4 and 149, busy two-laners. We sat outside on a concrete knee-wall there chomping ice-cream bars for a while. The violence of the scene was impressive: the giant pickups coming in to gas up, the hordes of motorcyclists with RevZilla exhaust systems, the tractor-trailer trucks with their screaming air-brakes. It’s easy to understand how total immersion in that milieu of remorseless internal combustion uproar has turned us into a nation of quasi-psychotics.

    1. zagonostra

      I ride a “rails to trail” a couple of miles from my house just about every weekend. Pennsylvania is blessed with many bike trails similar to the one Kunstler describes in upstate NY. Beside the trail referred to below, PA has many other great bike rides. It’s where I can go to un-plug from my work station and reconnect to nature.


      1. HotFlash

        I love the bike paths on rail rights-of-way — what’s not to love about a 2% ruling grade? But I wish the tracks were still there and he trains were still rollin’. We might need them someday.

    2. jr

      “The violence of the scene was impressive: the giant pickups coming in to gas up, the hordes of motorcyclists with RevZilla exhaust systems, the tractor-trailer trucks with their screaming air-brakes. It’s easy to understand how total immersion in that milieu of remorseless internal combustion uproar has turned us into a nation of quasi-psychotics.”

      You’ve captured it perfectly, in a related vein I once spent four days on a moving trip from DC to Houston. The open road is a hellscape and the constant rush and stop/go and jostling grinds down the soul.

    3. Acacia

      Your description of the road stop evokes the vision in George Miller’s films, i.e., the Australian director of the Mad Max series. By the way, Miller originally studied medicine at UNSW and planned to be a physician. Speaking in 1985 about the first Mad Max, he said:

      I guess I got the idea for the film from observing the road toll. In those days, in the early seventies, the road toll was a socially acceptable form of death, particularly in Australia, because we don’t have a gun culture. An enormous number of violent deaths occurred on our roads. I suppose the first film was generated by those two things: the car culture in Australia and the experience of working in the emergency room. I really never imagined that the film would be seen in other countries or succeed in other countries. (Heavy Metal, 07/1985, 7).

      I’ll stick with my bicycle, on paths or away from the big roads, if possible :)

  5. Carolinian

    Re Blue Ridge Parkway–Practically my back yard.

    Actually it’s about 80 miles but close enough for sail planes from our downtown airport to catch a thermal and fly there.

    1. The Rev Kev

      That’s some good looking countryside that. I have read years ago that it is a great place to visit,

      1. Carolinian

        North Carolina is waaay more scenic than South Carolina although I live in the foothills of those mountains so we have our moments.

        Eastern NC is flat coastal plain.

      2. Walt

        “Good looking countryside” . . . if only one could really see it.
        The visual range in that image is far worse than in the distant past. The restriction to vision isn’t terpenes from vegetation–the “blue” of the Blue Ridge, the “smoky” of the Great Smokies. Nor is it primarily moisture or humidity. .
        On average, it’s acid sulfate from the SO2 of powerplant emissions, which–since the 1950s–has reduced eastern summertime visual range to a small fraction of the natural value. At the moment, maybe there’s some western wildfire smoke in the mix, as well.

      3. griffen

        In some future non-apocalypse scenario, I’d like to be in position to purchase land or a ready cabin not far from there.

        Asheville, Brevard, Hendersonville – I enjoy that area. And a little more west you find Nantahala and the NOC for outdoor adventure. Banjo not required.

  6. Frankie

    About Kamala Harris’ chances.

    Informal poll conducted at an uber PMC independent bookstore cafe in a Democratic Bay Area blue zone.

    Ten people questioned about what they thought of Kamala’s job so far.
    1, “What is Kamala?”
    1, “I don’t know”
    4, “She’d doing a good job”
    4, “She’s an ass****!” (paraphrasing their various indignant replies)

    She’s a female version of George Bush Jr. as far as vehemence against her.

    Republican supporters pray that she is on the ballot in 2024, to ensure their landslide, sweep the ballot win.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      If that is true, and broadly true, and known to the Inner Dem PartyLords to be true; then why would they be keeping her on as VP? Could they want her gone? Is that the reason for beginning a drip drip drip of revelations of disgruntlement from within her staff?

      Or could it be that they plan to throw Election 2024 to the Republicans? And PresNom Draculamala Harris is the one to ” git ‘er thrown”? Could certain factions within the Inner Party want to put a stop for now to the concept of ” ethno-racial Identy Diversity” on the Tickets going forward?

      It is unfortunate that we have to contort our minds into such kremlinological excercises to figure out what a major political party leadership-rulership is thinking and doing.

    1. 1UnknownSubject

      If the average sickness onset is 5 days from infection (but up to 14 days), then subtracting from July 30, that puts us well beyond the spike coming from July 4th gatherings. Something else seems to be going on here.

      1. FluffytheObeseCat

        I don’t know that it does. Covid spreads in a classic, nonlinear way. A modest spike in transmission on 07/04/21 won’t show up as significant for far longer than we tend to expect, because our minds expect linear or close to linear increases in most phenomena. Again and again over the past year and a half people have gotten all shocked when covid “explodes” across a population that “managed” with near linear increases on the order of a few tens of known cases for a week or two. And then had a few hundred for two days, and then…… tens of thousands. But, that is how it spreads.

        This quasi random surging of illness has been noted in the past, particularly in the early 20th century when infectious disease pandemics were still still an integral part of life in the industrial West. Then the fight against them was intense, and central in the minds of societal opinion-makers. I think that now, even people who see themselves as astute about numbers just aren’t as savvy.

  7. Rattib

    I keep reading this:
    “(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.)”

    and thinking: the CDC does not collect breakthrough infections as such, but surely they are including those infections in the overall case count. In which case the overall case count wouldn’t be overstated, at least in this particular way. Or is there something I’m missing?

    1. IM Doc

      In my area of the country, these cases were not being counted at all. At least in the official numbers which were being released to the press. So the numbers are indeed likely being way undercounted.

      This all kind of came to a head about 2 weeks ago here – when people started having all kinds of vaccinated positive friends and the numbers were not bumping up in the paper. I was literally called out on this fact by my minister – in a Sunday School Class.

      Sometime in the middle of May, the edict went forth from the CDC that the vaccines were obviously working so well, and the breakthroughs were so minimal that they would only be collecting those numbers if the cases were in the hospital, dead, or health care workers.

      So our entire dataset for the past 3 months or so is basically worthless and is very very skewed inappropriately toward unvaccinated cases.

      I can assure everyone today – the worm has turned. The lies and misrepresentations were becoming so obvious to all that they were no longer sustainable.

      1. Three skies

        A friend isn’t himself: runny nose, aches, headache. A flu he says. I thought he should get tested. You’d think test sites—for Covid—wouldn’t put up obstacles but he’d need a doc’s order! He’d have to work with a free clinic as he doesn’t have a doc. This in VT. Checking at the health dept. site I see that throughout the state the Covid test sites don’t open for long hours, and not even every day. I wonder if I could get an order out of my PCP to have on hand “just in case”. Cases are rising here. And I’m amazed to find that not either of the two sick friends understands that it takes a day or two for their “sleeping” conditioned (antibody capable) immune cells to awaken, proliferate and get to work—that’s if they have ‘em at all, or enough to arrest, burn and clear the virus. Correct me if I’ve misunderstood drbeen, my source on the why (in part) of “breakthrough” cases.

    2. skippy

      Are you starting to get the idea that – ***some people*** – have “some agenda” which proceeds Science, short and long term health outcomes, in an almost Von Newman/Nash/McNamara like perspective which discounts your life long liberties and freedoms aka rights as a human being so the Market [TINA] does not lose its grip on social administration – ?????

      I mean NC ran this a long time ago ….

      Nobel laureate Kenneth Arrow passed away on February 21, 2017. In a classic, fifty-year-old paper entitled Uncertainty and the Welfare Economics of Medical Care, Arrow discussed how:

      “the operation of the medical-care industry and the efficacy with which it satisfies the needs of society differs from… a competitive model… If a competitive equilibrium exists at all, and if all commodities relevant to costs or utilities are in fact priced in the market, then the equilibrium is necessarily [Pareto] optimal” (emphasis added)

      Note the implicit assumption that price reflects value, to which I’ll return. As Arrow elegantly explained, there are vast differences between the actual healthcare market and the competitive model, and, moreover, these differences arise from important features of the actual healthcare market.

      Identifying the lack of realism of the competitive model in health care may lead to deeper understanding of the actual system. In essence this is what Arrow does. Although both medical care and our expectations have changed greatly, Arrow ’63 is still valid and worth reading today.

      Here is Arrow’s summary of the differences between the healthcare market and typical competitive markets. – snip


      Basically I mean this is all baked in because the symbology in numbers or in syntax is driven by an ideological goal which proceeds physical reality, sorta like Tesla autonomous driving, some will be lost or maimed so others can drive hands free[tm] in the future = high water mark in human endeavor obviously.

  8. LaRuse

    Need to take a moment to vent since right now, my spouse (whom I love dearly but am frustrated with right now) is off getting COVID tested (turns out our local CVS is still offering testing in case you remember my post from the other day when I was unsure).
    He is immuno-compromised – and in fact, today is the day I am scheduled to give him his biweekly immune suppressing medication via injection. He’s diabetic. Obese. And his medical history is long enough that it would require multiple volumes if it were a published book. My point is he is the kind of person, even vaxxed, that needs to take particular precautions – and for the past year, we absolutely have. Or did until the CDC’s May announcement.
    I am frustrated that since May, he stopped masking in any situation it was not required. He started inviting friends back into the house. He persistently gives me a mild hard time about my refusal to take off my masks indoors in public – described my actions as political statements and fueled by “that site your read too much” (by which he means NC).
    He’s been attending in person gatherings with 20-50 people in a room for an hour to talk – NO MASKS – since the first week of July. Thankfully, the public space that holds these meetings required a contact tracing sheet and every person that attended the meetings had to sign in with their contact info.
    And today, thanks to those contact tracing sheets, he got news that he had a prolonged direct contact with a COVID positive person on Monday night. So he instantly logged into the app he has and scheduled a test.
    BUT he is only getting tested because “it’s easier than having to put the mask back on for the next two weeks.” He absolutely blames the recent surge on the “Bubbas” of central Virginia and I am just shaking my head. It’s not like we don’t know what this virus can do and it is not like I haven’t been sharing what I learn from NC (which he just blows off as “misinformation”). The BubbaBashing narrative has worked – he and nearly ALL of our GenX/Late Millennial friends that believe that Biden and the vaccines have beaten the virus and people like me are just misinformation-saturated doomsayers or introverts that don’t want to go back to the way things were.

    1. Utah

      Oh no, I’m so sorry about your husband. I feel like I’m the only millennial I know that’s still paying attention, too. I’ve heard people asking if covid is still going on. My sister has a cruise booked for September that I hoped gets cancelled. I wear a mask everywhere still and don’t really do much that involves indoors. It’s thanks to NC that I know to do that, of course, because MSM just seems to get it wrong, either maliciously or ignorantly, I can’t say. So all that and I’m only half vaxxed. The vaccine triggered migraines and I’m not ready for them to become more frequent than they already are. Went from 2x month at two days each attack to 4x a month at 3 days each attack. So I’m basically well half a week and then sick again. Trying new meds to prevent. It’s so frustrating. Luckily I’m an introvert, I guess.

    2. GramSci

      My sympathies, LaRuse. It’s so hard dealing with people who refuse to open their eyes and minds.

    3. anon y'mouse

      i’m going to be presumptuous because i can’t be anything else—

      i am extremely sorry to hear that your husband does not respect your opinions, abilities, nor intellect and behaves so dismissively towards your concerns.

      that’s about as diplomatic as i can be. lived that experience for many a year, and can recognize it when i see/hear it.

      best of luck to you. hope nothing bad happens, regardless if someone “brought it on themselves” through ignoring all caution (detest that blame game crap anyway).

    4. The Rev Kev

      Sympathies here too, LaRuse. Better keep taking your own personal precautions, even if you are being given a hard time about it. Somebody is going to have to stay strong in your household if your spouse falls sick later on.

    5. Cuibono

      One thing we cant let this pandemic do more of : make us increasingly more angry at each other. i know divorces happening over the issues you mention.i know family that have come to blows at gatherings.
      My sincere wishes for speedy recovery if he is sick!

  9. Samuel Conner

    The porcine painted toenails remind me of the Calculated Risk “Mortgage Pig’s” lipstick. I will always be grateful to Bill McBride and his CR — it was in his ‘blogroll that I first encountered NC, back in the oughts’ run-up to the sub-prime crisis.

  10. drumlin woodchuckles

    Are there any atmospheric chemists or similar people here in the readership? If there are, I have a real question.

    I know that carbon dioxide can be forced to dissolve in water. Maybe not even needing force. The ocean has carbon dioxide dissolved in it, for example.

    When water vapor condenses into droplets up in the atmosphere, does carbon dioxide from the atmosphere around each droplet diffuse through the surface of each droplet into the water within the droplet?

    If it does, does that carbon dioxide which is dissolved in the droplets remain dissolved in the droplet-water after a bunch of droplets merge together to form a drop? If a drop of water becomes big and heavy enough to fall down out of the cloud, does the carbon dioxide dissolved in the water inside that drop fall down with the falling drop of water as it falls?

    Does anyone actually know the answer to any of those questions?

    1. BillS

      Yes, CO2 will dissolve in rainwater droplets. How much depends on the time the raindrop is exposed to the air, the temperature and the concentration of CO2 in the air and the solubility of CO2 in water (see https://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/gases-solubility-water-d_1148.html for g/kg solubility vs. temperature). This also happens with other gases as well, such as NO2 and SO2 – two compounds noted for their contribution to the “acid rain” phenomenon.

    2. hermeneut

      Rainwater usually has a pH of 5.6, with the slight acidity mostly due to dissolved CO2: water and carbon dioxide react to form carbonic acid. “Acid rain” has an even lower pH (meaning greater acidity) due to pollutants like nitric oxide and sulfur dioxide reacting with water to form their own acids. There’s a lot more to the chemistry, including partial pressures of CO2 and the atmosphere increasing as the drop falls, while temperature simultaneously increases the lower the altitude, all of which tends to decrease how easily the CO2 will dissolve in that raindrop the closer it gets to the surface. Also, if a raindrop evaporates while falling toward the ground, the CO2 will return to the atmosphere. But, yes, the dissolved carbon dioxide will generally remain in the raindrop as it falls to the surface, where it will likely react with whatever it encounters there.

      This page might be helpful for further detail:

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        farmers and ranchers love snow around here(central texas) because of the belief that it’s nitrogen rich(which, as you two indicate, it sometimes is)

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      Thank you all for these answers. They lead me to the following potentially happy possibility . . . . that plants don’t have to “suck down” carbon dioxide on their own ( which they can’t anyway) nor only wait and hope that aerial turbulence will keep mixing down CO2-rich air from “nearby” to restore the CO2 depleted by plant uptake from just right around the plants themselves.

      If CO2 is coming down with every rain or fog or snow event, then perhaps some or much of that down-with-the-precipitation CO2 can come back out of solution right at the surface and enter air-volume where there are plants right around to grab it.

      And the steady downfall of precip will also steadily scrub some water soluble CO2 down out of the atmosphere with every precip downfall event. So if organized mankind could get to emitting less CO2 into the air than what falling precip dissolves and carries out of the air, then falling precip will help lower the skycarbon load-levels.

      If that is so, then CO2 emissions reduction becomes even more important and even more useful than otherwise, in the presence of a natural atmospheric carbon downscrubbing mechanism which would achieve skycarbon reduction results if not swamped by more skycarbon flooding inputs than the precip downwash process can keep up with.

      Its just a hopeful thought.

      1. aumua

        Could be a negative feedback there, as rainfall increases in a warmer atmosphere, so then CO2 sequestered into the Earth through precipitation processes also increases. I suspect thought that any additional amount of CO2 that might be sequestered that way is fairly insignificant, although I don’t know.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          If indeed it works that way, and the answers I got to my question indicate that it does, then the process of skycarbon aqua-precipitation washout will be slow but steady. To me that means that if all the skycarbon being wash-outed back down to the surface either gets geo-physichemically sequestered by real-time geologic process or phyto-biosequestered by plants and their downstream results, that the skycarbon washed back down to the surface will stay at the surface if we handle ourselves and our activities right. And then all we have to do is reduce actual further fossil carbon skyflooding to the point where it becomes equal to or less than the rate of aqua-precipitation skycarbon washout.

          If we merely reduce the level of fossil carbon skyflooding to exactly the rate of aqua-precipitation skycarbon washout, then the skycarbon-load will become stable at its current near-deadly excessive level. If we reduce the level of fossil carbon skyflooding to below the rate of aqua-precipitation skycarbon washout, then the amount of skycarbon will decline by just exactly the different between ” flood-up” and “washout”.

          So it gives us a very real and easily understood reason to lower the actual amount of fossil carbon skyflooding.

          And we can work on reducing the amount of NOx skydumping and methane skydumping as well, to reduce those gas’s separate contributions to surfacespere heat trapping.

  11. dcblogger

    the Acela corridor is red hot, dunno why. In the case of DC the worst hit areas are also the least vaccinated, the poorest and blackest. I have no explanation.

  12. upstater

    The Emerald Ash Borer, a gift of free trade with China… came here on shipping pallets. The economic losses are calculated at $282 billion. 8% of trees in New York State are ash and they are all goners. Biological controls with wasps are promising, but the horse left the barn and is on another continent.


    Unfortunately the biological controls are too late in Central New York. We have acres of dead ash on our 23 acre property. It is costing us over $10,000 to have a land clearing outfit take down hundreds ash trees. The large diameter trees are cut with a chainsaw and they use a forestry mulcher on a skidsteer to grind the tops and small diameter trees. Trunks are stacked and will rot. Without the clearing, we’d lose access to most of our property on our trails. Not the kind of economic stimulus we need! The county has cleared tens of thousands of ash from roadsides, utilities must cut heavily, etc, etc.

    Cheap autoparts from China… Privatized profits and socialized losses.

    1. Carolinian

      Sympathies. Here in the Southeast we are overrun with invasives from Asia like Kudzu, many of them deliberately introduced. Then there’s the Chestnut blight of the last century–from Europe I believe– and the Hemlocks are gradually dying in my area from the “woolly adelgid.” Don’t know if you can pile it all on China.

      Globalization without a doubt.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        The chestnut blight came in on Chinese chestnuts. But it was not China who sent them here. It was nurserymen who brought them here. Chestnut blight was not well understood then, I don’t think.

  13. Onward to Dystopia

    Ok, so vaccines reduce severity of illness, but if vaccinated people are still getting infected and carrying plenty of virus in the process — won’t more variants also come out of vaccinated people? We could vaccinate everyone on earth and still have variants. Variants that eventually escape vaccination effectiveness altogether. Oh, and only 10% of the world population is vaccinated, so there’s probably another variant circulating right now — I’m sure we don’t know about these things until long after they’ve been around.

  14. Copeland

    Regarding “premium masks” from Links, I would really like to buy some. Can someone suggest a brand, a model, where to buy them, and about how much they should cost in USD?

    Thanks for any guidance!

    1. rowlf

      There is a performance difference between military INS and commercial, designed in so off-the-shelf commercial INS systems would be less accurate and less useful for dual use applications. The commercial aircraft manufacturers then used navigation computers that added in VOR and GPS information to remove the inaccuracy. There are suppliers of world locations where GPS jamming is occurring that airlines use to avoid wasting time trying to troubleshoot aircraft systems.

      GPS guidance is convenient but when it absolutely, positively has to be there internal guidance is best and is hard to spoof. Second to that is astronavigation and radar navigation computer systems, as it’s kinda hard to move the stars and waterways, compared to the Germans who developed cloud cover to foil the Norden bombsight system.

      Finally, I think the Wiki is missing many details on development, older platforms and applications.

  15. chris

    Re: Tesla megapack fire…

    That’s odd placement. I’d have sworn that the Aussie version of the NEC and NFPA requires some spacing for certain applications like that. My only thought is that the definition of the components seen as blazing in the photos are that each pack is both sides and that spacing requirements only apply to separate units. But if there’s a chance of venting out gas and energy from the central connection that would normally require a different arrangement in the US. Energy release, safety, construction allowances, and safe movement around the equipment are all included in our NEC and OSHA regs. They have to be included in Aussie rules too.

    Any electrical engineers from Australia in commentariat who can speak to why the batteries are arranged that way?

    1. The Rev Kev

      If it can take twenty tons of water to put out a car battery fire versus the three tons needed for an internal combustion engine fire, then how many tons of water will be needed for a single 13-ton Tesla battery fire? Maybe each of those batteries should be built over a pit. If they catch fire, then they can be lowered into that pit and then flood it with an inert gas to help put it out.

      1. chris

        I don’t know if we’ve settled on a recommendation for suppressing electric battery fires of that magnitude other than put them in a place where the heat and flames won’t hurt anything or anyone and wait until all the stored energy has been expended. I’ll have to ask my fire protection engineer friends about it. I forget the exact wording Tesla uses for it’s safety manuals but they pretty much say the same thing as I recall. Put the vehicle in the middle of a skid pad with 50 ft of clearance all around. There’s no good way to release the energy from an electric battery like that. So it will keep re-igniting until it’s done. Not worth wasting the water really :/

    2. HotFlash

      I have no clue about the battery placement, but if I laugh at the Tesla hubris, am I a bad person?

    3. hunkerdown

      Not in the commentariat, but EEVblog’s David Jones reports pre-recorded from his studio on the fire and provides technical details. He just barely touches on insurance and doesn’t speak to code compliance, but shares those concerns about the site layout.

  16. dcblogger

    Seriously, if you must order in tomorrow DO NOT USE DOORDASH use a different app or plan ahead for no ordering tomorrow, and don’t cross the picket line!! The strike will be more successful if we all show them support and DO NOT CROSS THE PICKET LINEhttps://twitter.com/KivanBay/status/1421204215381204998

    1. chris

      Sounds like a good plan. I’m still not sure when going to the place to pick up your food became too much of a hassle for people.

      On a related note, anyone else sick of that Uber Eats add they’re showing during the Olympics where the happless delivery driver has to wander all over the entire swimming venue before finding Janice? The only people that commercial could appeal too are those who never think about the people they hire to do things for them or those who don’t know anyone who’s been tossed into gig work like that. It’s awful. They keep repeating that commercial too :/

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        ” I’m still not sure when going to the place to pick up your food became too much of a hassle for people”

        i’ve heard about that sort of thing for a long while , now, and still have zero experience with it…we ain’t got Uber or Doordash, or anything of the kind out here.
        we drive 11 miles to pick up diner if we order out, and 11 miles back to eat it.
        I’ll support their strike, though, hands down.
        add to the list of reasons for the naked jointwalk at 4am down the county road.

    2. Glen

      I’m in, no Doordash.

      But it is easy for me, no Amazon, Walmart, Facebook, Twitter, Uber, Lyft, whatever. Not now, not ever.

      I’m going to have to figure how to dump Google and smartphones too.

      1. Yves Smith

        I’m getting the rotary 4G phone! Designed to be faster for pretty much any normal use despite appearances. Better signal, because antenna, and because 4G, should be good for 10 years.


        Plus it probably sends a vibe to keep DHS/police away. Can you imagine their faces when they ask you to pull out your phone, thinking that forcing you to give them your password is the next step?

        1. The Rev Kev

          Should be fun and games the first time that you go across an international border. I can see it now-

          ‘Ma’am. We are going to have to ask you to turn over your mobile to one of our security officers so that we can take it away to have it ‘examined’ for any security threats. Hey – what the f*** is that?’

        2. Glen

          LoL! Now that is funky! But I seem to remember that you have a very good memory for contacts and phone numbers so that phone should work great for you!

          I just hacked my last smart phone and installed LineageOS, but then the phone died. I will probably hack this one too.

  17. Icecube12

    I wrote a bit on here or in Links a couple days ago about Iceland’s current covid wave, which is the biggest and fastest so far (with the 14 day incidence rate rising from 8 to 280/100,000 in the last two weeks). This is in spite of 70% of the population being fully vaccinated, including 85% of those over 15. About 30% of cases are in the unvaccinated, the rest in the fully and partially vaccinated. I was hoping for some more data on which vaccines those infected had received, and we finally got some from tonight’s news report. I haven’t found an article yet, but I am reproducing here a chart from the nightly news report of the national broadcaster RÚV.

    Out of 254,500 fully vaccinated, 640 have been diagnosed with covid, or 0.25%. The breakdown is as follows:
    Out of 126,250 vaxxed with Pfizer: 168 infections in July, or 0.13%
    20,000 Moderna: 25 infections in July, or 0.13%
    55,050 Astra Zeneca: 102 infections in July, or 0.19%
    53,200 Janssen/J&J: 345 infections in July, or 0.65%

    So from this there doesn’t seem to be much difference between Moderna and Pfizer, and they were given to the same age groups. J&J obviously seems to work less, but this could also be because this one was mostly given to young people (70% of 16-39 year olds got it), and that age cohort seems to be congregating in bigger groups. Though it’s been a crazy busy summer for older age groups too, as everyone was under the impression that covid was over in Iceland (we had extremely few cases for most of the year, up until July). Everyone has been traveling all over, domestic and international tourists alike, and there have been lots of big parties (often family parties and reunions, and families are very very large here), and cruise ships going around the country, and no one masking until a week ago…so I am not totally convinced that age is the only factor with J&J.

    *This was taken from the news report here: https://www.ruv.is/sjonvarp/spila/frettir-kl-19-00/27717/95bqbj
    It’s in Icelandic, but the chart I got the data from can be seen at the 4:50 mark. 

    1. Basil Pesto

      Thanks for this report. Hope you continue to post more of them as and when you see fit.

    2. sd

      My sister in law is Icelandic and vaccinated. She just tested positive. Vaccine was Pfizer. She’s 50, fit, healthy. The Icelanders are unhappy. Rumor is some tightening is coming again – worries about returning quarantines – which will put a crimp on tourism.

  18. Michael Ismoe

    Doesn’t the fact that you can afford to post a $100 million bail just about prove that you are guilty?

  19. Chauncey Gardiner

    Appreciated the extract from and link to Felix Salmon’s brief Axios article on Credit Suisse’s internal controls and risk management failures that lead to a loss of $5.5 billion following the collapse of Archegos. Previously read that other mega banks also lost billions in Archegos.

    Think Salmon’s two concluding paragraphs are spot on and apply to other banks besides Credit Suisse:

    “The problem did not just lie with individuals. It was systemic and cultural, and it’s not at all clear that the lumbering beast that is Credit Suisse is even capable of changing its ways to ensure that this cannot happen again.

    The bottom line: The fear of all macroprudential regulators is that the world’s largest banks are all too big to manage. This report will only reinforce their worst fears.”

    When Archegos failed there were articles about the hidden risks of losses in equity derivatives swaps contracts, SEC failure to implement Dodd-Frank regulations for the last 12 years, systemic risks to the global financial system, tax avoidance structures and other issues. Hard not to agree with those calling for the end of the Fed’s QE-ZIRP subsidies of these entities and reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      A New Deal Revival Party could run on that, among other things. The degree of its sincerity would be judged by the level of Brand Name Party hatred it attracted.

  20. Sy Krass

    I know I will never get credit for not being an alarmist, especially here on this blog where it has become fashionable to vomit up snark and proclaim yourself enlightened, but the Iceland data from above would suggest that if you’re vaccinated you have less than one percent chance of getting COVID. Even if it is true roughly 30% of people showing up in hospitals (anecdotally seems way too high, but whatever), even then you’re only seeing the sickest of the sick. You would still have to dig deeper to see the outcome of those coming in. Even if those were the same, the general rule you cannot deny is IF you are vaccinated, you are LESS likely to become sick, symptomatic, hospitalized, or die. I had COVID in January, “mild” case, vaccinated twice, and I still wear a mask when in a crowd, I don’t know how many of the “enlightened” I may be sharing oxygen with. The government MIGHT be lying about COVID, yeah, tell us all something we don’t know. Whether the government lies or tells the truth, you still have to get up tomorrow morning and function in society and deal with whatever comes your way. To make things easier I suggest using just a small part of your brain, just a SMALL part of your brain and dedicate it to the logic and intuition necessary to function on a daily basis.

    1. Yves Smith

      First, as we have stressed, anyone who talks about mortality only is disingenuous and arguably dishonest.

      Long Covid afflicts 15-20% of asymptomatic cases. Most with long Covid find it difficult if not impossible to continue working.

      4 studies found that 50% of the asymptomatic cases showed 50% or more with serious lung damage.

      I’m not wasting my time on digging up additional studies on serious morbidity, including brain and heart damage.

      Second, Iceland does not regard its results as acceptable: Iceland 90% vaxxed could lockdown for as long as 15 years

      From GM’s various e-mails:

      So basically protection against those two variants is gone after 6-8 months if you have been vaccinated against the original strain.

      Also, if you look at their actual data, the booster only upped the neutralization activity against the variant to half of what the levels were against the original strain.

      What that means in practice remains to be seen.

      But it does look like the path forward will be annual or semi-annual vaccinations for those who can access them/want them. And wearing masks for the rest of our lives…

      Another disturbing development, although anecdotal at the moment, is young people in their 30s and 40s, who caught it last Spring and have been down with LongCOVID ever since, now dying. One sees quite a few such stories in the LongCOVID support networks. That was not unexpected, but it would be really great if someone was doing a systematic study of the phenomenon. But there is not much interest in that subject, unless something does come out one day from the UK or Denmark…

      How much the vaccine protects can only be measured if you know how many people were exposed, or if you have a matched control group. Right now there are all sorts of (at least previously) highly respected people loudly touting how in the UK or in the US a very small number of vaccinated people caught the virus, so the efficiency of the vaccine is measured as that small number divided by the very large number of vaccinated people. But this is a schoolboy statistical error that those people know very well not to commit, and the fact that they are so blatantly breaking the rules of proper reasoning is a clear indication that their cheerleading is driven by non-scientific considerations.

      You need to know how many people were exposed, which, however, is usually impossible. This is why you have a control group during trials and vaccine efficiency is measured during trials….

      But what the hell does “fully vaccinated” mean with 60% efficiency that is gone in less than a year? That house of cards is going to collapse too.

      And I can’t find his mathematical workup, but GM has also pointed out that even with supposedly 90%ish effective vaccines, someone 30 years old who is vaccinated on schedule can expect to get Covid multiple times before he turns 60.

      1. Icecube12

        The above reddit link is interesting. Our epidemiologist did say we could be dealing with restrictions for the next 15 or more years, though the strictest measures we have experienced so far have been gathering bans (which went as low as max 10 people last winter), masking indoors, limitations on visits to vulnerable populations, and testing/quarantining at the border. It’s never really been a lockdown though. Life has been normal a lot of the time, with plenty of socializing, visiting family and elderly relatives, kids under 16 going to school in person, etc., but the flipside of that normal was that the tourism industry was dead. Now tourism–both international and domestic–has been booming, and things are less and less normal domestically.

        I feel like people are getting pissed and frustrated because the authorities really did push the line that vaccination was the key to returning to the past. There was almost no talk about e.g. Israel’s experiences with vaccination and delta until last week, when the epidemiologist said that recent developments were not unexpected given the data coming out of Israel. Would have been nice to have said that more publicly a month ago when they decided to stop testing vaccinated people flying into the country. But many (is it all?) countries seem to have to experience everything themselves before they can believe it.

        1. Basil Pesto

          I feel like people are getting pissed and frustrated because the authorities really did push the line that vaccination was the key to returning to the past. There was almost no talk about e.g. Israel’s experiences with vaccination and delta until last week, when the epidemiologist said that recent developments were not unexpected given the data coming out of Israel. Would have been nice to have said that more publicly a month ago when they decided to stop testing vaccinated people flying into the country. But many (is it all?) countries seem to have to experience everything themselves before they can believe it.

          this reflects exactly my fears and hopes for the near future for Australia; fear that we’ll make the same re-opening mistakes based on over-reliance on the vaccines (which is what the federal gov’t is aiming for as policy); hope that we’ll learn from the example of other countries before we get the chance to, and that our actually apparently quite competent public servants will impress this upon the government.

          The other problem is, there have been delays in vaccine supply. But as more and more stories of the case studies in Seychelles (a months old story by now, let’s not forget), Israel, Iceland etc. emerge, more Australians are going to wonder what the point of the vaccine is, when the virus isn’t already endemic here (touch wood). What’s the point of protection against something that isn’t yet a threat and doesn’t have to be a theeat, especially when the protection is far from comprehensive in the first place? So the gov’t’s stated aim of 80% adult population vaccinated is going to he extremely hard to reach as a practical matter. But they’ve already begun to entrench the pitching of the vaccinated against the unvaccinated, by saying that once these thresholds are reached, we can open up and go to London and Bali for piss-ups again. If we don’t, we can’t. It mirrors the schoolhouse discipline of punishing all students for the behaviour of one or a minority.

          1. Icecube12

            If it weren’t for the fact that new and perhaps worse variants seem likely to crop up and the vaccines’ effectiveness seems to be waning, I would probably argue that getting the vaccine would be worth it for Australians because it could offer some protection despite whatever hair-brained opening scheme the authorities decide to try out. Given the present circumstances, though, I don’t know.

            I think what we are all hungering for is some certainty, some plan that is going to end up working and where we will know that after X amount of time, we are guaranteed not to have to think about this anymore. What the health and safety authorities have begun to say here in the last week is that expecting certainty in an ongoing and evolving crisis is expecting too much. To give them credit, they have emphasized throughout that they didn’t have all the answers (or sometimes didn’t have many answers at all) and were just reacting to developments. I think this attitude has helped them maintain credible and open dialogue with the public in spite of mistakes and missteps, which has helped with overall solidarity and goodwill in society. The majority of people have trusted their approach a lot and seemed to accept vaccination without much reflection, and there hasn’t been any vaccinated-unvaccinated division that I can discern (though I am not a native Icelandic speaker and so am not as tuned into online discussions as many others). I have seen some anger toward the unvaccinated online in recent days but now I understand it the least, given the current situation with so many vaccinated people obviously getting infected and transmitting the virus anyway.

            However, there is a tendency to throw caution to the wind here when summer comes and the lure of tourism money and Icelanders’ own desire to travel become too strong. This happened last year and is happening now. It leads the politicians to make moves to open everything very quickly, and the health authorities generally move to support these decisions, even if they sometimes express hesitation (they basically say, well it’s worth a try to open things and we have to try sometime so why not now). There is still solidarity, but I think considerably less than before. What is really frustrating people here now (and keep in mind we haven’t yet seen any really bad cases and deaths this round) is that even vaccinated people are having to quarantine after being identified by contact tracing. This was a big part of Iceland’s success in past waves, but now the vast vast majority of people testing positive have been diagnosed outside of quarantine. The feeling is that we actually had really normal life going on here for a long time and then had almost all border controls released with the promise that we were safe from vaccinated people entering the country and that we ourselves would be safe if vaccinated (and that mostly unvaxxed groups like children and pregnant women would be safe too). Now the virus is transmitting in all parts of the country, the authorities are only now recommending that pregnant women be vaccinated, and kids are about to go back to school.

            I am actually 8 months pregnant and am grateful I didn’t listen to the health authorities when they said pregnant women were probably better off waiting to be vaxxed because the situation in Iceland was so good, or to the youtubers talking about the cytotoxicity of the spike protein (figured I was going to soon encounter said spike protein one way or another). Maybe I now have some protection against the worst outcomes, hopefully. If I have to give birth while infected or while my husband is quarantined or something….that will suck.

            A possible upside, I guess, is that elections are in September, and the current bizarre coalition between the Left-Green Party and two fiscally conservative, business-oriented parties could take a little bit of a hit. So there’s that, I guess.

      2. Telee

        In an op-ed published yesterday in the NYT, the question of vaccine efficacy was discussed. Although the Provincetown result were published, the article put more weight on a Kaiser Foundation finding that covid breakthrough was a rare event, less than 1%. I posted a comment pointing out the inconsistencies but the comment was rejected. Today, NYT posted a headline article at the top of page 1 that breakthrough was a rare occurrence for the fully vaccinated. Doing a search I found that all major news sources are saying the same thing. Not surprisingly, the op-ed I read the day before was no longer available.
        I am relieved to see that IM Doc and others on your site are as concerned with these inconsistences coming from our “most trusted” agencies and officials. I thought I was the only one!

      3. Acacia

        Yves, taking these data points together, doesn’t this imply that even for the 30-something cohort, vaccinated on schedule, rather significant numbers — i.e., millions of people — could end up out of the labor force and/or with serious lung damage by the time they are 60? Can we speak to any difference in outcomes between symptomatic and asymptomatic cases? I would assume symptomatic worse, but I’m no expert on this. (For reference, I think there are around 42 million people in the US, ages 30~39.)

        Please correct me if and wherever I’m wrong here, but this sounds like an unprecedented global public health disaster affecting hundreds of millions of people, that is absolutely not going away. We know from IM Doc that the current vaccines are non-sterilizing. Are there any emerging vaccines which are sterilizing? Maybe it’s too soon to suggest this, but I would be interested in seeing this kind of future projection in article form, so that the NC commentariat could discuss/debate it.

    2. tegnost

      Sy Krass…
      “I suggest using just a small part of your brain, just a SMALL part of your brain and dedicate it to the logic and intuition necessary to function on a daily basis.”
      That is non scientific. You should trust science more than that.
      ” statistical error that those people know very well not to commit, and the fact that they are so blatantly breaking the rules of proper reasoning is a clear indication that their cheerleading is driven by non-scientific considerations.”

      Considering that what recently passes as “logical” really just means “read between the lines” I’ll take “proper reasoning” any day.

  21. Icecube12

    Yeah, I don’t know if the Iceland data is saying those of us vaxxed have a less than one percent chance of getting covid. This current wave only started a few weeks ago and really only exploded this past week. It shows no signs of stopping yet, so the exact percentage is yet to be estimated. The number of infected per day seems to have leveled off at around 100-120 people (keep in mind our population is ~365,000 so that number doesn’t seem so small here). This is perhaps because we’re now required to mask indoors again, and people have been suddenly made aware that we are not exempt from covid. But this is a holiday weekend with lots of concerts and parties so the next couple weeks could get worse (we’re still allowed to gather in groups of 200 and no one has ever seemed to mask here in private settings). Information is just now coming in about the situation we’re really in, and I report it here because we are a small, manageable, fairly easily measurable population and the authorities do seem to try to get accurate numbers that they eventually convey to the public. But we still do not know how it will turn out. Out of the 1072 currently with covid, only 10 are in hospital (8 vaxxed and in the regular hospital ward and 2 unvaxxed but in the ICU). However, 817 people tested positive in just the last week, so the jury is still out. The testing capacity and hospital staff have also been stretched to the limits, both given the small population and the fact that it is August and the country is on vacation (even the vaccinations are on vacation, though staff did come back this week to give vaccines to pregnant women, who had not been recommended to get it before).

    1. Brian Beijer

      Thank you Icecube 12 for taking the time to give such detailed information about the current situation in Iceland. I totally agree with your perspective that Iceland provides a clear(er) window into the efficacy of the vaccines considering the small population and the high % of vaccinated. It is a very valuable contrast to the chaotic picture in the US with variable population sizes and widely differing rates of vaccintation. Your posts are much appreciated!

  22. djrichard

    Democratic Senators booed Sen. JOE MANCHIN for mentioning the deficit during a closed-door caucus luncheon on Tuesday

    In my mind, that’s a huge milestone for the dems.

  23. David B.Harrison

    Mr.Studebaker did a fine job with his description but he missed on two things. The entrepreneur and professional share one belief: that success is all that matters as expressed by Hitler in Mein Kampf. And the professional loves the wealthy as long as they share their worldview.

  24. Telee

    In an op-ed published yesterday in the NYT, the question of vaccine efficacy was discussed. Although the Provincetown result were published, the article put more weight on a Kaiser Foundation finding that covid breakthrough was a rare event, less than 1%. I posted a comment pointing out the inconsistencies but the comment was rejected. Today, NYT posted a headline article at the top of page 1 that breakthrough was a rare occurrence for the fully vaccinated. Doing a search I found that all major news sources are saying the same thing. Not surprisingly, the op-ed I read the day before was no longer available.
    I am relieved to see that IM Doc and others on your site are as concerned with these inconsistences coming from our “most trusted” agencies and officials. I thought I was the only one!

  25. Irrational

    I’ll throw in the data from Luxembourg, population ca. 630,000, where 54% (342,000) of the entire population is vaccinated.
    Like in Iceland, 100 cases a day is already a scary number and we regularly blew through that in winter/spring before entering slightly scary territory.
    We had a bit of a surge of the Gamma variant after people went out and partied on the national day. Now Delta is just about dominant again according to the latest numbers on LNS.lu, but numbers are going down again (but then school is out and the country is empty!).
    The last report I could find on vaccinated versus unvaccinated testing positive refers to the week starting 19 July and said that 81.4% of those testing positive were unvaccinated, meaning 18.6% (105 people) were vaccinated.
    The government is still doing large-scale testing of about 7-10% of the population per week and so I’d say the number of unidentified cases should tend to be smaller than in other countries.

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