Links 7/17/2021

This Math Explains Why Cauliflowers Look Too Oddly Perfect Science Alert

Attention Investors: The President’s Council on Competition Barry Ritholtz, The Big Picture. Important.

The lurking threat to solar power’s growth MIT Technology Review

Greenland to halt all oil exploration as it ‘takes climate change seriously’ Euronews

Ford made a premium gas fragrance for EV owners who miss the smell of fossil fuels The Verge (Re Silc).


The first two posts are the basis of the Guardian Ivermectin story in Links yesterday. The third is the FLCCC’s response:

Why Was a Major Study on Ivermectin for COVID-19 Just Retracted? Jack Lawrence, GRFTR

Some problems in the dataset of a large study of Ivermectin for the treatment of Covid-19 Nick Brown’s Blog

Joint Statement of the FLCCC Alliance and British Ivermectin Recommendation Development Group on Retraction of Early Research on Ivermectin FLCCC Alliance. I don’t think it’s an answer to say that the results of a meta-study still hold if one of the papers is retracted. I would want to know how the retracted paper came to be included in the first place. Did nobody read the original studies? (This is not to put RCTs on a pedestal; far from it.)

* * *

Povidone iodine (Betadine) allergy and radiocontrast hypersensitivity (letter) American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. “Povidone iodine allergy is very rare but has been reported.”

‘Pandemic Is Not Over’: Florida Republican Describes Harrowing COVID-19 Ordeal HuffPo. Report from the trenches:

Note the last line: “The vaccine, while 95% effective, is not 100% effective.” Why the public health establishment cannot convey this simple, comprehensible, realistic message is beyond me. When Walensky burbles: “[T]he science demonstrates that if you are fully vaccinated, you are protected,” people can see with their own eyes that what Walensky says is not true, because even if you assume that breakthrough cases are insignificant in percentage terms, this is an enormous country, and the absolute numbers can be quite large.


Opinion: China’s Worrying Economic Signs That Only the Government Has Noticed Caixin Global

Chinese regulators swoop on Didi offices to conduct security probe FT

The top general of the US military: the coup will not succeed after Trump loses the election, we are the ones holding the gun What China Reads. Nice headline.


As Covid-19 rages in Myanmar, army hoarding oxygen, doctors say Straits Times. Long lines:

Junta wants US to extradite UN rep for prosecution on treason Coconuts Yangon

Apparel-producing areas in Asia will be underwater by 2030 unless they relocate to higher ground, study warns South China Morning Post

Malaysia to stop using Sinovac vaccine after supply ends: minister Reuters


Struggle, Conflict and Small Joys: A Selection of Danish Siddiqui’s Photographs The Wire


Bennett: ‘Vaccines on their own won’t solve the problem’ Times of Israel

Forensic Architecture’s “Digital Violence: How NSO Group Enables State Terror” Tikun Olam

South Africa

Free Zuma campaign gives Ramaphosa 14 days to respond to demands IOL News

Fighting to stay alive in a broken country: No jobs, no food breed contempt for the law Daily Maverick

The Caribbean

How Venezuela’s Oil Crisis Triggered Mass Protests In Cuba

The Bay of Tweets: Documents Point to US Hand in Cuba Protests Mint Press. About those protesters:

(Source for image in tweet.)

Cuba Today: Homeland, People and Sovereignty NACLA

Hundreds greet Aristide on return to troubled Haiti Stars and Stripes

Prelude to an assassination: Betrayal by guards and frantic call from Haiti to Florida Miami Herald


The Crumbling Foundations of the Conservative Party Tribune. Big if true.

I will sweat blood to win voters’ respect, says Sir Keir Starmer BBC

Biden Administration

Column: Biden takes aim at the multitude of ways that businesses can make your life miserable Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times. From last week, still germane.

Biden’s Spaghetti-at-the-Wall Vaccine Campaign The Atlantic

Federal judge finds DACA unlawful, blocks new applicants Politico. “‘Given the nine-year history of failed legislation in Congress, it is an inescapable conclusion that DACA is not interstitial to any congressional action,’ [U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hane] wrote. ‘Although Congress may someday enact such a DREAM Act, until it does, its continued failure to pass bills coextensive with the DACA population evinces a rejection of this policy.'”

2020 Post Mortem

AP: Few AZ voter fraud cases, discrediting Trump’s claims AP

Hunter Biden’s prosecutor rejected moves that would have revealed probe earlier Politico


A blockbuster document purportedly from the Kremlin raises lots of questions — about itself Philip Bump, WaPo. “Purportedly” is a word that could have been used a lot more than it was. Mark Ames remarks:

Autre temps, autre grifts.

‘The Steele Dossier Was a Case Study in How Reporters Get Manipulated’ New York Magazine. From LeCarré, we do know that intelligence assets are in fact “manipulated” by their handlers. Nevertheless.


Julian Assange’s Brother: #FreeAssange, Plus Airstrikes on Cuba and An Art Critic on Hunter Biden (podcast) Useful Idiots

Health Care

Criminalized Borders and US Health-Care Profits Public Books

The Biggest Differences Between Now & The Housing Bubble A Wealth of Common Sense

Going for brokers: Justice Department takes on one of the country’s worst cartels Washington Examiner

Guillotine Watch

The rich and their real estate:

Open Space, Closed Gates Inquirer. The reporter summarizes:

Palm Beach is running out of mansions for sale CNBC

Class Warfare

At a Convention Like No Other, Teamster Challengers Turn a Corner Labor Notes

Listen to MSNBC Bosses Smoothly Trying to Bust Their Staffers’ Union Discourse Blog. Wow, Rachel should do a show on this.

Deductivism — the original sin in mainstream economics Lars P. Syll

Historian Heather Cox Richardson: ‘Now people see what’s happening. Thank God!’ FT

Antidote du jour (Bob):

Bob writes: “My wife, Janet, pointed out this to Norbert [who took the picture]. One advantage being married to a hunter-gatherer is that if anything is happening on land, sea, or air, she sees it.”

Bonus Antidote:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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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. PlutoniumKun

      Thats really interesting. I didn’t know what to think when I first read that Guardian article (the ‘right wing drug’ thing made me suspicious). For a start, focusing on the ‘plagiarism’ seemed weird – its very common for people who don’t speak English as a first language to find similar articles as a sort of template to help them writing, so it really doesn’t mean very much if you find similar sentences popping up.

      Trish Greenhalgh, who I consider one of the best sources of independent information on all things Covid was tweeting a study that indicated that this does collapse the meta studies that seem to favour Ivermectin. But the original authors seem to disagree.

      Time will tell. Its just a tragedy that the science around a drug can become so politicised that its become incredibly difficult to tell fact from propaganda.

      1. Eustachedesaintpierre

        TSN does I think do a good job of achieving balance between the two polarised positions, as to the meta analysis I do not have the foggiest idea how that works, but hopefully Tess Lawrie might explain it in defending her work, so it hopefully becomes understandable for chumps like me.

        In any case the effort to legitmise it’s use for Covid might fail anyhow as it appears that the WHO are seeking to control it’s supply only to be used for neglected tropical diseases, which as the drug is cheap & easy to manufacture by the ton, makes me a tad suspicious – from TSN.

        ” Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) conducted its 14th meeting of the Strategic and Technical Advisory Group for Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD), held virtually from June 22 to June 24, 2021. Known as STAG (Strategic and Technical Advisory Group), the group published a number of recommendations, including the potential implications of COVID-19 on Neglected Tropical Diseases. With so much health authority attention on COVID-19, the hundreds of millions of people at risk for NTD face greater risks as programs languished in the pandemic. That is, WHO’s STAG shared that the predicted and emerging empirical evidence suggests possibly profound impacts of the pandemic on the organization’s various programs dealing with NTD. Consequently, the STAG group suggested that first and foremost health systems in the various countries should prepare for not only greater numbers of NTDs, but also “more intense transmission of infection” followed by “accumulating disability” as a consequence of the pandemic and the associated intense focus on fighting COVID-19, to the detriment of other programs, such as leprosy and cutaneous leishmaniasis. WHO’s STAG positions that medicines such as ivermectin that are not proven must be “protected” from diversion, meaning used by health authorities, such as in Indonesia where the national drug regulator has authorized use of ivermectin to combat COVID-19 during this latest intense spike of the pandemic there. Interestingly, WHO anticipates the possibility that ivermectin will be deemed effective, declaring “and that even in the event of efficacy of such drugs against COVID-19 being established, the agreement of medicine donors for repurposing be obtained before the donations are used for that purpose.” Is the WHO preparing to control the distribution of the drug for targeted use against SARS-CoV-2? “.

        1. Phillip Cross

          “the drug is cheap & easy to manufacture by the ton”

          I was wondering about that. Do we have the capacity to safely mass produce enough ivermectin for everyone in the world to have access to it as an ongoing preventative medicine?

          What are the raw materials used to make it, and what kind of factory equipment is needed. Surely the existing plants could not meet the demand of billions of prescriptions?

          What makes you think it would be so easy?

          1. Grebo

            A data point: My local third-world farm shop, which I visited last week, had (I estimate) 7000 doses worth of ivermectin on the shelf. All produced in neighbouring third-world countries. About 30 cents per dose.

            1. Phillip Cross

              So, assuming you could get everybody to agree to take animal grade medicines, we would need a million times that amount, every day, for 7 billion people to use it prophylactically.

              1. ambrit

                I believe that prophalactically, once a week is the general consensus. I have read of once a month being efficacious.
                Plus, curmudgeonly geezer that I am, I would like to point out that Terran humans are but a medium sized animal.
                Googling around for information concerning my assertion about the timing of use of the drug, I, not surprisingly, found a full court press on in the ‘suggested’ links against the drug that shall not be named. When so many “official” sources come out, in tandem, against something so obviously not dangerous to use, (like how many billions of doses have been used by Terran humans so far,) makes me do more than ‘cock an eyebrow.’

              2. Grebo

                15mg per person per week adds up to 15 tonnes per day. It doesn’t sound impossible to me, given enough factories.

                I figured if it’s safe to inject into animals it’s probably going to be safe for humans to swallow. I’d be surprised if there are separate animal and human production lines.

      2. Richard Needleman

        Go through the tweets. A lot of personal opinion along the lines of “I don’t think that it works”. For example one person claims that they didn’t use accepted Cochrane standards. Telling, except for the fact that Tess Laurie, an author of Bryant et al. consults for Cochrane and has written many reviews. The thread simply replicates all the negative notions they people on it had about IVM in a gleeful way. I don’t understand Twitter, where a mob repeating the same prejudices is even looked at as a source of information.

        Does the exclusion of this study change the results of Bryant et al.? I will wait until I see the reworked data from Bryant et al. that I am sure will come soon. I’m reminded of what Einstein said, when more than 100 German scientists denounced Relativity (I don’t remember if it was Special or General Relativity) as Jewish science. He said, “If I’m wrong, one scientist would be enough”.

        PS I’ve plagiarized myself many, many times in my paper Introductions. There are only a few ways one can say the same thing, like “Z is a protein found in the membrane of X.Y.” Boilerplate serves quite well for standard facts necessary to orient the reader.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > TrialSiteNews weighs

      I’m not happy with Malone being on “Advisory Committee” and still passing himself off as the inventor of mRNA vaccines. And the lead sentence:

      Whether this group that uncovered glaring issues in the Egyptian-based study (NCT04668469) was part of a campaign to dig up problems with ivermectin studies, doesn’t really matter to us at TrialSite

      I mean, come on. I can do saying-without-saying too, but I try to do it a little more subtly than that.

      Still, I think this is a good bottom line:

      TrialSite is still bullish about the prospects of this drug—the media platform’s team has chronicled clinical trials, observational studies, and case series around the globe. We have also interviewed many dozens of doctors and researchers in nearly two dozen countries. The confidence level is considerable in that there is some efficacy—how much, in exactly what dose and duration still is open for interpretation and debate. But clearly, clinical trials continue, and you don’t cast aside a sizable body of research and real-world data because of one funky study.

  1. Dagnarus

    On the Ivermectin study. The fact that the Elgazzar study was included in the meta analysis (especially with a low chance of bias rating) does not speak well of the meta analysis’s quality. Their stock has definitely gone down in my opinion.

    I will state this in their defense however, (assuming they all aren’t grifters) they have come across a treatment method, which on, alot of the data, suggests it can safe lifes. The response from authority hasn’t been to quickly ramp up large RCT trials to quickly either confirm or deny, it hasn’t even been quiet indifference. It has been to attempt to stamp out this particular treatment. I personally think that people would be able to think a lot more clearly if needless pressure were not being applied.

    On a related note Nobody is talking about removing the EUA on remdesivir. Nobody is talking about making it illegal for a doctor to prescribe it to their patient out the cost of $3000 for a cause.

    1. IM Doc

      I agree with every point you make.

      I do not believe any of these people are grifters. There really is not an ounce of grift in ivermectin to be had.

      And you are correct in your suspicion of remdesevir. I have not seen personally in any patient any benefit at all. I have maybe used it 40 times. The same can not be said for ivermectin where I have seen people improve dramatically.

      Unfortunately, we have had to start using it again the past two weeks. I had a husband and wife on Tuesday. Both vaccinated both positive and both having coughing SOB and fever. Husband took ivermectin and improved in one day. Wife did not and is still sick as of last night.

      I have too many stories like this for this to be just random chance.

      I have a moral and sworn obligation to my patients health. Not Fauci. Not Pfizer. I will continue right on using this until there is clear data not to. The safety profile is just too good and the risk benefit ratio is overwhelming.

      That is called the art of medicine.

      I know these fits and starts are frustrating. I take it in stride because I have seen this all before several times.

      Bactrim is now standard of care for PCP in AIDS. When I was a young Doc that was not the case. The evidence for its use came bubbling up from below and took years of bad trials and good trials and tons of obsstruction from Fauci et al before the proof was finally there.

      Ivermectin is almost the same story. Both drugs were considered “out there” at first. But Ivermectin has actually a much better safety profile. Medicine was not enthralled to the “RCT only” fetish back then so the thinking by medical practitioners on the ground was much more clear and ethical than it is now. That to me is the big problem we are facing other than the obvious stonewalling by our agencies.

      This remains a clear no brainer until there is real evidence either way.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Bactrim is now standard of care for PCP in AIDS. When I was a young Doc that was not the case. The evidence for its use came bubbling up from below and took years of bad trials and good trials and tons of obsstruction from Fauci et al before the proof was finally there.

        Excellent analogy, and it’s not like there’s no history here.

        > This remains a clear no brainer until there is real evidence either way.

        Greenhalgh makes the same point; it’s a pandemic ffs, so we can’t be waiting around for RCTs (and RCTs don’t work for complex systems anyhow, like masking).

        1. Fern

          I’d be interested in a link to the discussion where Greenlalgh makes “the same point”. The only thing I could find with a quick keyword search was Greenlalgh saying the following:

          “*IMPORTANT* ??
          I’ve just done a webinar to India. The first audience question was “should we carry on giving Ivermectin for prophylaxis and treatment?”.
          The answer is NO!

        2. chad

          Why have an RCT for vaccines then? Your point makes absolutely zero sense. This does not apply to masks since we have a good phyical explanation for them, but there is no such basis for a drug.

      2. Cuibono

        What is absolutely stunning to me is that i have seen doctors cheering the news that the Egypt study was fatally flawed and ivermectin was “useless”!
        What could possibly get us to a place where doctors could cheer a drugs failure?
        What is going on here?

        On a more hopeful note, the participants of this site are not of this mind largely. And that to me is significant

      3. Richard Needleman

        Evaluating bias is the most difficult task in a meta-analysis ( . Indeed it is the essential task since anyone can run a software analysis in a few minutes and come to a conclusion. The notion that concealed or miscalculated data should be apparent to Bryant et al. in the case of mistakes in the data set or in its analysis by the paper’s authors assumes that data from every paper is freely available. It also assumes that Bryant et al. should be put in the position of conducting a second review on all peer reviewed papers they use. An impossible task even if primary data is available.

        Lambert thinks that the problems with the study should have been discovered by Bryant et al. This would require requesting original data from say 25 studies and redoing all their analyses, an impossible task. One way that Bryant et al. looked at the robustness of their analysis was to omit studies from the results and see if the conclusion was changed. This is the standard procedure. What better way can one see if the results of a particular study have an undue and therefore problematical effect on the conclusions?

        I work in basic science and not medicine, so my experience is limited. But as a reviewer I have never seen original data, never requested original data, and never had the original data requested from me. This is definitely an abnormal procedure and is especially strange since the paper was still in manuscript, pre-print form. What obligation does one have to send data to a party not involved in the manuscript review? None. To a colleague? Perhaps, but such a request would be strange.

        I wonder if anyone—especially not a reviewer—has requested data from Gilead say on remdesivir. If they had I am absolutely certain they would not have received it, and if they requested it from the FDA filing they would be told that it contained trade secrets.

        If the authors wanted to deceive, they have certainly shown a lack of competence.

        1. flora

          I wonder if anyone—especially not a reviewer—has requested data from Gilead say on remdesivir. If they had I am absolutely certain they would not have received it, and if they requested it from the FDA filing they would be told that it contained trade secrets.

          Indeed. Yet, real science (not “The Science” ™) rests on transparency and reproducible testing and verification of results.

        2. Dagnarus

          There were several problems with the study which were apparent just from reading it. One example from memory. The study allowed both PCR positive and PCR negative patients (but with symptoms). For some reason 80% of the PCR negative patients ended up in the control. If the randomization process was done properly you would expect such patients to be assigned equally through the different trial arms. This blog goes through some of the problems Suffice to say, if those doing the review were on the ball, they could have identified that things looked suspicious, even without analyzing the raw data. It probably should not have been identified as low risk of bias.

      4. Pedro

        Anecdotes are not data.
        First do no harm.
        The ‘I will use until I have evidence it is bad’ makes me think of lobotomies.

        1. ambrit

          That’s a false equivalence.
          The cases of Ivermectin versus lobotomies are vastly different. The Ivermectin use actually saves lives. The other side of the equation does not “lose lives.” Lobotomies are medical intrusions aimed at changing personality permanently. For that purpose, it works. That it does so with significant side effects is another issue, separate from the original design. Either way, lobotomies or their non-use do not lose lives. To turn your argument ‘on it’s head,’ we can compare the use of lobotomies with the non-use of Ivermectin. Lobotomies have gained their negative reputation because they often destroy psychic lives. The non-use of Ivermectin also destroys physical lives. People die due to the blocked use of the drug. Do no harm indeed.
          Stay safe.

        2. IM Doc

          The problem with your reasoning is this drug has harmed less than a few dozen out of the billions that have taken it. The same could never have been said about lobotomies.

          And since there is virtually no harm issues and multiple very strong signals that it is at least helpful somewhat by medical ethical standards it must be given.

          I learned this lesson well in the AIDS pandemic with drugs of unknown efficacy then that are the standards of care now.

          This line of reasoning is especiallly germane during a worldwide pandemic.

          1. Phillip Cross

            Mentos mints are very safe to ingest, but no statistically significant evidence exists that they help cure or prevent Covid.

            Wouldnt it be a serious ethical issue if you tell people they work, and prescribe them anyway?

            What of the high risk people who hear you and then go to Safeways and buy Mentos, thinking it will protect them. They feel safe and then put themselves in harm’s way, and end up dead after getting Covid19?

            1. IM Doc

              The problem with this reasoning is that Mentos mints do not have dozens of studies out there already showing some efficacy.

              This is both in clinical medicine as well as bench research showing in vitro effectiveness that ivermectin has against SARS COV2.

              In other words, there are multiple studies that seem to suggest it does work.

              I guess I would remind you that the standard of care right now for people that real doctors are telling people to do all over this country is to go home and come back if you turn blue.

              In that kind of environment with no good options – I am willing to give my patients a safe compound that does seem to have some effect. As I have stated above – what I have seen with my own eyes seems to be more than random chance.

            2. ambrit

              Come on now Phillip. You’re just trolling IMDoc at this point. We expect better from you.

          2. Basil Pesto

            Thanks. The point you make about AIDS treatments back in the day is important I think, and I’ll be sure to try and read up on the history of Bactrim.

            The conspicuous lack of a wall of scepticism directed against Remdesivir is also suspect.

        3. Yves Smith

          This is ridiculous. Ivermectin is safer than many OTC meds like aspirin (which does cause stomach bleeding in ~1%) and Tylenol. It is literally has one of the best, if not the best, safety profile of prescribed medication.

      5. Ping

        “Fauci and NIAID changed the pivotal clinical trial endpoint to ensure remdesivir acceptance by regulators” Trial Site News.

      6. John Beech

        Thank you for enlightening this discussion. To recap, if I come down with COVID19, better cry loud for Ivermectin because it may save my life and isn’t likely to kill me. That, and big pharma can’t sell it for $10,000 is ‘the’ major flaw, right?

    2. Brian (another one they call)

      When the Guardian speaks, we are accustomed to hyperbole and fiction first, reporting comes much later if at all. They have run dozens (hundreds?) of stories that have been proven to be adversarial fiction for the last 10 years? Mr. Harding seems unable to grasp the meaning of truth, fair, competent, etc. But he is only one example.
      When do we stop caring about fabricated political speech in lieu of the underlying reality? How can we learn anything if we continue to allow, nay, support, their yellow journalism? Why would a corporation want to cause so many unnecessary deaths, and defeat a medication that has proven its worth in vastly reduced death counts everywhere it has been deployed? There is only an A or B choice. Are they peddling fiction or are they not?

      1. Old man Grumpy

        > When the Guardian speaks, we are accustomed to hyperbole and fiction first,
        > reporting comes much later if at all.

        I’m going to indulge in a little old-fogeyism here and recollect how, when I went to live in London in 1979, the high-point of almost every day was waking up, going round the corner to the news-agent and buying the Grauniad, then taking it home and spending the rest of the morning drinking several many cups of tea and reading it through. Growing up with The Milwaukee Journal — and having only a passing acquaintance with the NYT and WaPo — I was flabbergasted that a newspaper could be so interesting.

        Alas; crapification happens.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Crapification happens when crapifiers make it happen. Now that it has happened, it would be difficult to revive zones of non-crapification.

          Non-crapification will have to be paid for. People will have to pay a good-salary-price to non-crap journalists to write for a non-crap newspaper, for example.

    3. Carolinian

      Yesterday I linked an article saying only 21 percent in new Gallup poll said they trusted newspapers. I wonder if the ever shifting medical news has had a lot to do with this. IMDoc has said that playing politics with medicine is the worst thing you can do because lives are at stake. Many blame this on Trump for injecting himself personally into last year’s Covid response–and that was indeed wrong. But now Biden appears to be doing the same thing under the well established “it’s ok when we do it” principle.

      Ultimately, though, the news media have to take the blame. They are obsessed with petty partisan squabbles and can’t even get serious when we have an epidemic. They are also deeply compromised by their advertising relationship with Pharma and for profit medicine. To top it off the fake “fake news” censorship drive merely makes the public wonder about what they are so desperate to hide.

      Some of us have begun to tune it out, wear masks in stores (not a big ask), avoid the vaccines, wait for this to end. Of course that assumes you have a lifestyle that makes this possible.

      Might not hurt though to lay in a personal supply of Ivermectin.

      1. FluffytheObeseCat

        “ They are obsessed with petty partisan squabbles and can’t even get serious when we have an epidemic”

        Yes. Some of the compromise is obscured by the size, and interlocking monopolistic breadth of the media organizations that own nearly all of our news outlets. I.e. it’s not that any single newspaper is strongly dependent on pharma advertising….. but the “Inspiration-like” cable TV channel that’s also owned by the same media conglomerate, that targets an elderly demographic…… yeah.

      2. Louis Fyne

        politicizing medicine happened long before Trump. The FDA has been regulatory captured for a least 1.5 generations.

        If I was president, I’d disband the FDA, fire senior management after a transition period, and start from scratch. And put its HQ far way from the Beltway, like in Kansas City.

    4. Jeremy Grimm

      There is no question whether Ivermectin is safe, which is more than can be said for the existing vaccines. It is inexpensive. If it had no more effectiveness than a placebo effect, that should be sufficient reason to make it available for those who believe it works.

      It is remarkable how so much interest has been raised around Ivermectin by what to me appear to be highly credible sources, like IM Doc and the clinicians at FLCCC, and yet official channels will not come up with a grant to execute trials of the kinds they have demanded for Ivermectin. I would also like to see them require similar trials for some of the other medicines they have granted Emergency Use Authorization [EUA]. It would also be nice it the official channels bothered to collect and analyze the data from the grand mRNA vaccine experiments some of their EUAs sponsored.

      1. HotFlash

        Considering its safety record, I would treat it like masking — can’t hurt, might help, so why not? Odd, you know, that the precautionary principle is being stringently applied to a well-known, quite safe, and dirt cheap (as low as 11 cents per dose when purchased in bulk, as by governments) treatment. That’s cheaper than a cheap mask. Is it effective? I’d sure like to try it, but physicians in Canada are afraid to prescribe it and apparently it’s on a 4-month backorder anyway.

        Meanwhile we are all supposed to take this vaccine that is not only a new product but a new technology, has not been tested over any long term, and doesn’t seem to be working all that well. I do ‘trust the science’, but I am seeing precious little of it from our so-called authorities.

        1. jo6pac

          It’s safe I’ve used it. My Dr. Calif refused to write up perscrition for me so I bought on line.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            Readers, please let’s avoid testimonials, or anything that suggests this site, or anyone on it, is in the business of offering diagnoses.

            Let us also avoid advocating the use of veterinary versions of any drug.

            Thank you!

            1. ambrit

              Yes, let us not do that. Instead, let us who cannot get the human purposed version of the drug, for whatever reason, just crawl off somewhere and joyfully invoke Neo-liberal rule #2.
              Now, if you had admonished us to protect the site from ‘official’ obloquy by not engaging in “armchair” analysis, fair enough. We do get that this subject has been weaponized and is now not safe for full frontal exposure.
              We have “skin in this game.”

              1. lambert strether

                NC is not the only site in the world, champ. Do consider other sites where testimonials are central to mission.

                1. ambrit

                  So, it’s “bugger off” then.
                  I know when I am in an untenable position. I am, after all a guest here.
                  Stay safe.

                  1. drumlin woodchuckles

                    A possible reason for the “no testimonials please” position could be that the Censorship-Industrial Complex is watching watching watching and looking for any excuse to censor or close every “dissident blog” and “dissident website”.

                    If “running medical testimonials” could be exploited as such an excuse, why give the Watchers that excuse? The walls have teeth.

        2. Maritimer

          “…physicians in Canada are afraid to prescribe it and apparently it’s on a 4-month backorder anyway. ”
          There are 91000 Docs in Canada. Add in the Nurses, other health professionals and you have a large pool of folks in the know. Say, only 10% of these believe in alternative prophylactics/treatments like Ivermectin. That’s pretty big demand. Then add in family members, those with influence, etc. and I will guesstimate that you have pentup non-vaccine demand of a million or so.

          On the same subject, when are Canadian health authorities going to publish the vaccine rates for all health professionals? If the expert evidence, blah-blah is so convincing for the Covid Vaccine case, let’s see the health professional data.

  2. Tom Stone

    An interesting take on the NAR but it fails to mention who owns the big brokerages ( They are essentially franchise operations).
    No mention of who owns Coldwell Banker, Artisan Sotheby’s and so on…
    It’s not quite a monopoly but it may as well be considering its influence.
    As a former member of the NAR ( No choice, try getting E and O insurance without being a member)
    I appreciated the educational opportunities the NAR and CAR provide and before Obama the health Insurance available to members.

  3. Dftbs

    That’s a lot of nice data, but the biggest difference between now and the housing bubble is that the Fed is all in on this one.

    1. Kurtismayfield

      Yeah.. cheap credit and low inventory is the issue. If mortgages go back up to 4-5% the buyers won’t be able to afford the monthly nut.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I assume your comment refers to the link “Biggest Differences Between Now & The Housing Bubble” — I

      The Housing Bubble was much more than just a Housing Bubble. It was a large scale fraud scheme bound to collapse. But we can have a Housing Bubble without the fraud. Without the fraud more time passes before the collapse. The Fed may be all in as you suggest, for now. The minute mortgage rates start going up many of the proud owners of their pricey homes may have trouble selling them at a price near the price they paid.

      A couple of statements in the link gave me pause:
      “Back then people with low credit scores were buying houses to flip. Now people with high credit scores are buying houses to live in for the long-term.”
      How many of these people with high credit scores are coming out of the big cities hoping to continue remote work while enjoying the same high pay they received in the city? What happens if either hope is dashed? How many of these home buyers are buying houses to live in for the long-term and how many are really from among the relatively wealthy who are buying second homes, or living in an apartment in the city and buying a first home as a getaway for weekends and vacations?

      This second statement seemed even more fraught:
      “For once, Americans are richer coming out of a recession than they were going into it.”
      “Americans” are richer? What “Americans” are richer? I do not feel any richer do you?

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          I believe the Fed’s complicity in stoking the Housing Markets through low mortgage interest rates for those purchasing a home to live in — is as Mercurial as other Fed moves have proven. Wait til the Fed next worries about ‘inflation’. The link focused all its attention on people buying homes to live in. I am much more concerned about the Fed’s complicity in making funds available for investment companies buying up housing as a source of income they can monetize. I believe the investment companies are buying for the long term. The cashflows from rents are what they are buying. I also suspect some intention of creating localized rental monopolies, not unlike the monopolies some supermarket chains have created in some locales. I believe they are insulated from the drop in house prices that would occur when mortgage interest rates go up, by their interest in rental cash flows. I think rental cash flows track the out-of-pocket monthly cost for housing more than the price for houses — although higher house prices in a market with ‘responsible’ lenders will tend to push the required size of down payments up, much as higher monthly PITI payments push up the buyer’s income required.

          I suspect the Fed bolstering of the Stock Markets and buying bonds from Looted Corporate shells is the bigger fraud. I believe the Infrastructure Bill and whatever ‘Green’ bills Biden can pass will source new, possibly interesting frauds.

        2. MB dork

          Indeed. I’ve unfortunately been involved in the mortgage banking world for the past 30+ years. These are the biggest takeaways that I’ve seen:

          1. Pre-subprime mbs of the early to mid 90’s, subprime loans were still originated…just at a max of 80% ltv but 70ish% ltv was more typical. Default rates were very similar to present A paper default rates. There are significant differences between the rates for the types of loan though at each time – 14% vs 3.5%. After originating/servicing (or witnessing) tens of thousands of loans through the years the “skin in the game” factor seems to be the most significant issue with default rates.

          Subprime loosening of ltv’s when the mbs reps came a calling is what I feel created the 2008 crisis – not loose income underwriting standards. Around 2006 Greenpoint Financial (known for stated and no doc loans) temporarily cut back their ltv’s being offered. I felt that was smart since they were at 80 then and temporarily cut them back to 70. Six months later or so they bumped them to 90 and they eventually went higher than that. The mbs frenzy created that mess.

          2. Loans have features just like cars have features: ltv, tight/loose underwriting standards, term, rate, type of loan, etc.

          The type of loan and underwriting standards were blamed for the collapse last time. Few discussed the 115% and 125% ltv loans that several companies offered pre-collapse. Of course those were only given to people with 720+ score and stable employment. So it didn’t fit the narrative that subprime loans created the crisis and it wasn’t really discussed. Dirty borrowers with poor credit were to blame. These types of loans performed horribly post 2008.

          Today we have 100% ltv USDA loans in qualifying areas, 96.5% FHA loans, 95/97% ltv FNMA/FHLMC loans, and a host of community aid grants for deemed worthy participants to overlay existing programs which can take the ltv to 100%.

          Underwriting on FHA loans is currently as loose on credit score as subprime ever was…580 mid score can get you a 96.5% ltv loan.

          Check out the USDA site for loan availability. In some areas USDA loans are available but across the street a model match house isn’t eligible due to geography. That same identical house in USDA territory might be worth $75k more (no down payment needed) than the non-quallifying house where the borrower is required to bring in a down payment (fha, fnma, etc). Down payment requirements, or the lack thereof, dramatically inflate sales prices of homes.

          People incorrectly think that a borrower is the buyer of the home. While that’s the case of legal title, the borrower’s mindset is much different at varying levels of ltv. I feel that’s why (combined with servicers being incentivized to service delinquent loans and not acting as a true loan owner would act…as in using shrinkage worksheets prior to initiating a f/c action) there is a secondary negative feedback loop when unemployment increases, rates increase, etc. Some event happens to create a default event with X% of the population. In turn, the lack of skin in the game gets the housing market in a negative feedback loop. Instead of a correction of say 10%, we instead get a secondary event taking the market down say 50%.

          The first domino may look different this time, but the end result will be the same as last time. I have no idea what will be the factor that tips that first domino over though.

          Just my $.02, but these speculative real estate fluctuations, homelessness, mental health issues, gentrification, etc would be immensely helped, if not nearly eliminated, if a 20% down payment were required on every loan. I know people will argue that would create a wealth gap of have/have-nots. However, that’s exactly what we see post collapse anyway.

      1. Still Above Water

        “Now people with high credit scores are buying houses to live in for the long-term.”

        A bit of anecdata: 5 years ago a house behind mine sold for $425K. The buyer tore it down and built a monstrosity that blocked my view of Mt. Hood. It sold for $1.2M. Based on web searches, I believe it’s owned by a local oncologist. But I’ve never seen her. The house seems to be unoccupied. Every night, the same light turns on. It’s the only light in the house I’ve ever seen on. It makes me wonder – how many other houses like this are out there?

        1. The Rev Kev

          If it is the same light turning on every night, it could be just a timer being used. I take it that someone comes in periodically to mow the lawn or clear the mailbox of junk mail. Those people might have a clue what is the go there.

        2. SteveB

          I’m seeing similar things in FL. Two houses that I bid on and lost have closed at way above listing price. No auction, no highest and best just someone throwing lots of money away..

          So I ride by every so often and from what I can see no one is living in them, lawns are mowed
          but no evidence of life. Perhaps it’s snowbirds but these are 3000 sq ft newer family type homes.
          Snowbirds are usually condo types…

          I’m wondering if it’s MONEY PARKING….. REAL ASSETS…. gotta put it somewhere..

  4. CoryP

    Regarding the ivermectin paper, I can’t imagine how you can flub a data set that badly if you’re actually trying to deceive people. Nor what the motive would be. Though I think there is some european company that has acquired a patent on a new formulation of the drug…

    This gets weirder and weirder.

    1. jrkrideau

      I can’t imagine how you can flub a data set that badly if you’re actually trying to deceive people.

      Unless there is something in the results that looks very implausible or cannot be even roughly duplicated, no one is likely to reanalyze the study. The general assumption is that scientists do not fake their data. The fact that the data set was publicly available would likely to be reassuring. In fact, this data set seems to have been marginally available. It was behind a paywall and password protected, albeit with the famous “1234” password.

      It is surprisingly difficult to convincingly fake data once someone gets suspicious and most scientists do not have any training in it. This one, though, was spectacularly bad.

      The authors’ bad luck was that the med student was asked to analyze it as a class exercise and once he started to really look at it, it started to look suspicious.

      Nor what the motive would be.
      Well, for an academic, publications are money, so to speak. Or some fanatic belief that Ivermectin works or we may have some fanatic antivaxers at work. Your idea about a new patent also makes a lot of sense.

      1. Pedro

        I agree. If you honestly believe you are right it becomes almost an obligation to fake data to prove it. That is why double-blind randomised trials have more weight than doctors personal certitudes.
        It is also a shame that so many try to descredit The Guardian for reporting on events it was not involved with as a way to ignore the withdrawal of the paper.

        1. Grebo

          The Guardian discredited itself, not for the first time. If it had just reported the facts no one would be ragging on them.

        2. jrkrideau

          Ah, Sir Cyril Burt and the famous twin studies! He even invented research assistants.

          Daryl Bem, and Brian Wansink, OTOH, seems to believe it torturing the actual data until you find a p < 0.05.

          BTW, the spreadsheet is hilariously bad.

  5. GramSci

    re: Solar devaluation.

    That’s what happens when capitalists try to privatize the sun.

    1. JCC

      I read the article and was a little surprised at the statement that investments in CA have remained flat since 2018.

      You could have fooled me.

      There is a large solar field (10’s? 100’s? of acres?) near me on the eastern slope of the Sierras in the Mojave Desert that has grown by leaps and bounds over the last 3 years. Every single time I drive by it (about once a month an average) it is bigger that the last time I drove by it.

  6. ajc

    In light of the Israeli government admitting the vaccines don’t work as advertised, maybe we can ask why our regulators and public health authorities ignored the substantial evidence that the mRNA vaccines are nowhere near as effective as has been repeatedly parroted for the last 6 months.

    Furthermore, it appears that spike protein specific immunity induced by the ‘vaccines’ might be creating the next covid wave

    1. IM Doc

      I would like to give credit where credit is due.

      There is an obvious statistical manipulation among the treatment arms that is evident in the original Pfizer trial. It greatly puts into question the results of the study. It would tend to make the touted relative risk reduction of 95% much lower – but it is impossible to know how much lower unless one has access to the primary data.

      I will repeat once more – I do not recall a single time in my life that the relative risk reduction has been used a a primary statistical endpoint for vaccine efficacy. My experience with that statistical contrivance is that is mainly used by Pharma for their glossies to bamboozle people. The RRR rarely comes up in journal clubs. It has very limited utility. But it sure looks good – even when the reality-based results are not so good.

      I have watched in horror as this RRR number has been touted to the American people for the past 6 months – giving them a completely false feeling that they are “95% protected”. That is just not what that number means. The fact that our public health authorities were not out in front of this misrepresentation and explaining this to the people will be an indelible mark.

      But who was it in my world who first noticed the problem with the management of the trial participants that could really goose the efficacy numbers?

      Why – that would be Yves. And she put these concerns in comments and maybe even a post. I just cannot find it now. Yves is one very intelligent person – but forgive me – if Yves can see it – why can not medical statisticians? Well – Dr. Doshi – whose blog you highlighted in your comment came out with a blog post discussing this issue in the BMJ a few weeks after it was noted here – and was laughed and censored out of the room by “experts”.

      I think we can look right now at the vaccine efficacy issues – and ask ourselves who was right?

      Citizens of the world, do you want your medical experts and medical debated muzzled by Big Tech under the direction of Big Pharma and governments? Is it becoming clear why this is a very bad idea?

      I sure hope so.

      1. Shonde

        I’ve seen lots of press and comments about the Oxford study but little to nothing about an ongoing study at the University of Minnesota Medical School looking at outpatient treatments for the virus including Ivermectin.

        As stated on the U of M’s study webpage, ““Some new strains of the virus may evade immunity from some of the vaccines. Additionally, worldwide vaccine availability will take time, and not all individuals may get the vaccine. Thus, we feel we should study safe, available, inexpensive outpatient treatment options as soon as possible,” said Bramante, who is also an internist and pediatrician with M Health Fairview. “Having an outpatient treatment option could ensure more people survive the illness if they contract it and have fewer long-term symptoms.”

        Hopefully this study is not being gamed to produce negative results.

      2. Angie Neer

        IM Doc, your comments have been a quite an education for me, and I’m sure for this whole community. Thank you! But I am still confused about what is wrong with RRR as a measure of effectiveness, and what is the better alternative? I’m not a dummy about statistics, but I’m missing something here.

        1. IM Doc

          I have been teaching medical statistics for 30 years – so I will be happy to do my best here for the commenters.

          This is usually done with graphical tables and white boards – trying to do this in text will be interesting but I think it can be done.

          This is probably going to be a bit long – so grab some coffee.

          I start off every group of students I have ever taught with a simple statement – “Statistics are very simple if you do not turn off your common sense.” If one is trying to be dishonest or to make his claim look better that it actually is – it is often very easy to find all kinds of statistical contrivances to do that for you. My job for decades has been to show students every dirty trick in the book. The relative risk reduction trick is one such thing that Pharma uses constantly to overstate their results. In and of itself it is not a problem, as long as you know exactly what it means and what you are looking at.

          In the original mRNA vaccine trials, the endpoint in the analysis was the relative risk reduction of about 95%. That does mean something. But it is not what is being presented to the American people. How do I know? I talk to them multiple times daily. They clearly have not a clue what this means. They are being told the vaccines are “95% effective” which is interpreted as you take the vaccine and you have a 95% chance of not getting COVID. THIS IS ABSOLUTELY NOT TRUE. That is a blanket efficacy statement and has nothing to do with the relative risk. This has never that I can tell been explained – and I can see easily how uninformed laymen can make this assumption.

          The original Pfizer trial had more than 40000 participants. For simplicity sake for your understanding, I am going to make the denominators a round number and make sure the numerators are ratioed exactly the same as the Pfizer endpoints. That way you can understand better and wrap your mind around the numbers easily.

          Let us say that the vaccine arm had 1000 participants and 1 got COVID.
          The placebo arm had 1000 participants and 20 got COVID.

          So actually in the vaccine arm 999 people did not get COVID – so the efficacy number if we were doing this by the blanket approach that the vast majority of Americans would understand is that vaccine actually has a 99.9% effectiveness. That is correct. But wait a minute – that is not 95%.

          BUT THIS IS THE CATCH and this is the IMPORTANT part. When you make this blanket kind of comparison – you then have to have a second sentence. That would be the following – However, THE PLACEBO in the other arm prevented 980 people from getting COVID. That is right – a saline injection prevented 980 out of 1000 or 98% from getting COVID.

          IN OTHER WORDS, using a SALINE INJECTION has a 98% effectiveness for preventing COVID – if you use the numbers the way this is being presented to the American people.

          But the difference between the two arms is really quite minimal when you put them side by side:

          99.9% in the vaccine arm ———- 98.0% in the placebo arm –
          An actual reduction in risk (known as the absolute risk reduction) of 1.9% The actual number is 0.019.

          The relative risk reduction is a statistical contrivance – generated by taking the number of events in the placebo group (20) and subtracting from that the number of events in the vaccine group (1) – and placing that number (19) – over the placebo number ( 20)

          20-1/20 19/20 0.95 95%

          That is where the 95% comes from.

          The way most normal people think, again because I talk to them daily, they would understand the absolute risk ratio – the vaccine prevented 1.9% more COVID than the placebo. That is right 1.9%. The relative risk though is 95% – and that is what Pharma uses all the time in its glossies and ads. Please note (think about this the way the American people are being led to believe) the placebo success is 98% – which is even higher than 95%.

          Because of this discrepancy – another way to look at the data has been derived from statistics – and it is called the Number Needed to Treat – in other words in this case – how many people need to be vaccinated to prevent one person from getting COVID. This is very easily calculated by this equation 1/absolute risk reduction — in this case it would be 1/0.019 which works out to 52.63. 52 people are being vaccinated with no benefit for every 1 person that gets benefit..

          The big problem here is that relative risk reduction becomes more worthless the higher the number of subjects are compared to the actual signal. Having a placebo group of 20/1000 and a vaccine group of 1/1000 really skews the value of the relative risk reduction because they are so close together in a sea of people who were never affected. Accordingly, it is a very very poor way to describe efficacy in any vaccine trial – not just COVID. But they used it because it sounds so good. 95% sounds so much better than 1.9% ( They have been doing this for years – trust me).

          Let me give you two simple examples from history about drug efficacy and these numbers.

          In the early 1950’s a drug called isoniazid – or INH for short was introduced into the market for TB. In one of the very earliest studies done by researchers to Tulane in a Louisiana TB asylum, there were 70 patients (not 40000 as in the COVID trials). They were split into two blinded groups – 35 given INH for 6 months – 35 given a placebo for 6 months.

          The end goal was eradication of TB from the sputum..

          In the INH group – 33 out of 35 had eradication. 94% or 0.94
          In the placebo group 1 out of 35 had eradication. 3% or 0.03

          The absolute risk reduction is 91% or 0.91

          The relative risk reduction is 33-1/33 32/33 97%.

          The number needed to treat is 1/0.91 0r 1.1

          So in other words 1.1 patients needed to be treated for every 1 with benefit. The drug is a magic bullet – almost everyone benefited.

          And the absolute risk reduction (which most people would understand) and the Relative risk reduction were both above 90. An absolute stellar performance – and the drug was indeed foundational for TB therapy.

          Now – let’s do another drug that is not so successful – but was profoundly marketed by pharma using the relative reduction.
          That would be FOSAMAX for osteoporosis.

          The original study came out in the 1990s. There were 560 women on the drug – and 542 women on the placebo. The endpoint of the drug was prevention of hip fractures or vertebral compression fractures.

          In the FOSAMAX arm – 22 fractures out of 560 patients – 22/560 4% 0.04
          In the placebo arm – 36 fractures out of 542 patients – 36/542 7% 0.07

          We have an absolute risk reduction of 0.03 or 3%

          We have a relative risk reduction of 36-22/36 or 0.39 – 39%

          There is a number needed to treat with this drug of 1/absolute risk reduction – 1/0.03 of 33. What does this mean? 33 women had to take the drug – pay the 900 dollars a year, endure the side effects of GI issues, and brittle bones, and jaw necrosis, teeth falling out – for 1 women to avoid a fracture. Not too impressive.

          But all the while – Pharma glossies – and the TV were screaming at women – there is a 40% improvement in your bones. Oh yes, oh yes they did. If you look at ads from the era the 40% is big and bright and there is a little footnote – with microscopic type telling you this was a relative risk reduction as if your average American had a clue what that meant. It really is a scam. And the same thing has been done with statins, with psych meds, with diabetes meds, you name it. I can pick up any pharma ad right now – and this tactic will be there.

          I am very sorry that is so long – I know no other way of doing this. I have gotten to the point that I have written out a handout for my patients. I feel it is imperative that each and every one understands exactly what these numbers they are being shouted down with daily mean.

          Vaccines are usually measured on how they affect the immune response and how they affect morbidity and mortality. The only other one I can think of that ever used Relative risk reduction of case numbers is the shingles vaccine – and for obvious reasons – that disease process really is a case number kind of thing.

          The relative risk reduction of case numbers is a very very poor measurement of any other type of vaccine because we are usually dealing with tens or hundreds of thousands of subjects and cases that may number in the dozens. The more stark this contrast is the more useless is that relative risk number.

          The other important thing to realize is that because the way the relative risk is calculated, small differences in the numbers are actually quite large on a population basis. So when Israel came out this week and announced that the Pfizer vaccine is only 64% effective against Delta – I want everyone to understand – that is a HUUGGE discrepancy – far more than the “31%” implied. (I am assuming that the 64% is actually the relative risk reduction they are seeing in their current numbers – they never actually said – which is another entire issue that I am getting really tired of).

          I am mortified that our agencies are playing this Pharma game of using these statistics to goose their vaccine’s efficacy in the public mind. I really should not be though – this has been standard operating procedure for as long as I have been a physician.

          1. ambrit

            Thank you for the lesson. I’m printing this out to keep handy for when I see similar tactics tried.

          2. Carolinian

            I follow what you are saying but leaving aside the vaccines and their marketing it all circles back to the original debate about whether the danger posed by this disease is at all proportionate to the overwhelming response that has resulted. If society is going to heroically intervene to make sure covid is reduced to zero then even that 1.9 percent is significant. Perhaps it’s the goal itself that should be debated but this of course will get you kicked off Youtube.

            Myself, I’ve given up on arguing about this but just want to make that point.

          3. Ahimsa

            @IM Doc

            Thank you so much for this!

            I have been pulling my hair out trying to explain this to friends and family about the Vaccine Efficacy numbers that are repeatedly touted and how BOTH the Absolute Risk Reduction AND the Relative Risk Reduction are critical to understanding.

            If you will allow me a short trivial example I use to when speaking to friends:

            Imagine an unvaccinated control group of 1 million where 10 people get a fatal disease infection.
            Now imagine a vaccine test group of 1 million where 1 person gets the fatal disease.

            Relative Risk Reduction 9/10 = 90 % (looks great, right!?)
            Absolute Risk Reduction 9/1,000,000 = 0.0009% (absolute effect is much less impressive)

            Therefore, it is critical to know the Abolute Risks involved before you can make an informed choice around a vaccine touting Relative Risk Reduction.

            (Note: Obviously, the numbers used above in my trivial example do not relate to Pfizer’s actual numbers but are designed to highlight the potentially misleading nature of RRR values.)
            And as you alluded, the metric of Number Needed to Treat has been completely underreported.
            I really recommend an article currently in WIRED magazine which is highly critical of the CDC and its director Rochelle Walensky. It goes into some detail on the nuances when considering the individual risk-benefit analyses for healthy teenagers. IM Doc will appreciate that the article also challenges the very idea of “mild” myocardiatis cases in teenagers.

            The CDC Owes Parents Better Messaging on the Vaccine for Kids
            The agency’s strange math and blunt statements are missing key nuances—and may be underplaying myocarditis cases in teenage boys in particular.

            …Walensky cited a string of statistics that showed “the benefits of vaccination far outweigh any harm.” But some epidemiologists, public health experts, pediatricians, cardiologists, and other scientists dispute the CDC’s numbers, characterizations, and conclusion. The agency, they variously contend, is both exaggerating the risks of Covid-19 to young people and underplaying the potential risks of the vaccine to them.

            …The absolute risk of the vaccine still appears to be extremely small for young people but, on balance, when the data are seen through a different frame, the relative individual risk from vaccination, particularly for healthy young males, may be higher than it is to not be vaccinated at this time.

            …frankly, being in the hospital at all, is not a condition most people would associate with the word “mild,” even if some clinicians may describe it this way. Even on that point there is some dispute. Anish Koka, a cardiologist in Philadelphia, put it plainly: “There is no such thing as mild symptomatic myocarditis that puts a young person in the hospital.” He continued, “If you want to redefine ‘mild’ in the context of the pandemic, fine, then say you are doing that. I’m not against vaccines. But we need to be nuanced about how we talk about this.”

          4. Ahimsa

            To follow up on something IM Doc alludes to – there is a perhaps non-intuitive progression of Vaccine Efficacy.

            99% Vax Efficacy means 1/100 risk ratio (between unvaxxed and vaxxed
            95% Vax Efficacy means 1/20 risk ratio (tho’ only a drop of 4% in VE)
            90% Vax Efficacy means 1/10 risk ratio
            50% Vax Efficacy means 1/2 risk ratio

            64% Vax Efficacy (as reported in Israel this week) means ~1/3 risk ratio.

            And another bug bear of mine is that Vax Efficacy numbers are differentiated against a specific outcome. That is to say, the Efficacy varies depending on whether we are talking about efficacy against infection/symptoms/hospitalisation/death!

          5. Brian Beijer

            Thank you for this! I am also going to save this for the future. The only thing I didn’t quite understand is:

            the Pfizer vaccine is only 64% effective against Delta – I want everyone to understand – that is a HUUGGE discrepancy – far more than the “31%” implied.

            So, are you sayiing that Pfizer had implied that their vaccine was only 31% effective against Delta and that Isreal was disappointed it was only 64% effective? Where does the 31% come from? Sorry if this is a stupid question. I just can’t get my brain to understand that sentence.

            1. IM Doc

              The 31 is the difference between the initial 95 in the original study and the 64 the Israelis reported last week.

              Assuming that 64 was also a relative risk reduction.

              1. Brian Beijer

                Thanks! I had actually just figured out what you meant while I was in the shower. Sometimes my brain works best when it’s turned off. Lol.

          6. Stephen the tech critic

            Thank for your this detailed explanation of your reasoning about relative vs. absolute risk reduction and how Pharma uses the former to promote drugs which are not necessarily in the best interest of patients.

            The two examples you gave make clear that relative risk reduction (RRR) is not the “end of the road” for deciding whether a particular treatment is medically indicated. Now please correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that the Number Needed to Treat (NNT) isn’t really the end of the road either. The real goal is to balance the potential treatment benefits with the potential treatment risks (from side effects, among other things). NNT directly indicates the proportion of patients who benefit from the treatment *over the trial period*, but careful consideration of those words I just wrote points to some crucial caveats, a couple of which I will highlight here as both are relevant to the vaccines.

            First, with regard to the FOSAMAX trial, while I’m inclined to be highly skeptical of the drug’s utility, given the data you provided, I’d want to know other things before reaching a firm conclusion. (I’m speaking rhetorically here. I’m not requesting anything more from you.) I’m not just talking about rates of side-effects but also, the *duration of the trial*. Why? Because the longer the trial, the more likely patients will fracture their hips or vertebrae during that period. So if the trial period was only 1 year long, the benefit (if any has to be had) may not be nearly as apparent as it might be after 10 years when a lot more hips will (hypothetically) have been saved from fracture. The absolute risk reduction (ARR) often increases with duration in this way unless it’s normalized with respect to time somehow, for example in the way economic stats, collected at different intervals, are often “annualized” to make them easier to compare.

            Recall a few months ago all those extremely rosy “breakthrough ratio” figures like 0.04% that the CDC and others were hyping through the media to show “how well” the vaccines were doing. The problem? The trial period, between when each subject became “fully vaccinated” (plus two weeks) and the end of the sampling period was extremely short for most subjects. Most fully vaccinated people had just gotten their shots, which was clearly evident by looking at the daily vaccine trends. Furthermore, by the time most people had become “fully vaccinated”, the daily case rate had already plummeted from its wintertime high, meaning people were encountering the virus in the environment much less as well. Both the duration of the data collection period and the daily case rate (effectively, the *baseline risk* of catching COVID) impact those percentages substantially. The hyping of these figures was extremely misleading to the public. In fact, I attempted to estimate the *real* breakthrough ratio (which is just 100% minus the RRR, I think) using a crude model, and time series data of daily cases and vaccinations. I came up with around 75-80% RRR, but then I noticed that the two datasets I was using had major consistency problems that I could not reconcile. Hence, I did not bother to publish my work here.

            So not just the trial period but also the background risk of catching COVID affect the absolute risks and the ARRs where the vaccines are concerned. The latter is very much in contrast to the two examples you gave. In the TB trial, everyone was already sick and not likely to recover without intervention. Their “baseline risk” was almost 100%, so any relative reduction translated readily to absolute reduction as well. In the FOSAMAX trial, the baseline risk of fractures (normalized for time) likely remained fairly consistent between the trial and “real life”. Unless older women collectively engage in an extreme sports fad or go through other major nutritional or behavioral shifts, the baseline risk of fractures likely remains about the same between the trial and the “real world” at times in the near future.

            Contrast this with the pandemic and the vaccines. In the pandemic, the baseline risk is extremely variable depending on the prevalence of COVID (modified by some NPIs like masks/ventilation) wherever you are at any given time. Not only were the vaccine trials short in duration but they occurred during a time in which baseline COVID risk was actually quite low compared to where things went in the winter. Suppose we kept in place all the NPIs like distancing, contact tracing, restricted travel, masks, etc. which were widespread then and we managed to keep variants from evolving too much. This would keep the baseline risk low enough as to make the net benefits of the vaccines questionable. Until recently, places like Australia continued to follow stringent elimination policies, and for them, the vaccines made essentially no sense—that is until their recent public policy changes that is!

            Now, with the public policy shift toward ending all NPIs, and given that the vaccines don’t stop transmission, we are basically being subject to or about to be subject to a very high baseline COVID risk. If the virus is allowed to spread everywhere, which is where policy in the US and other places seems to be taking us to, then we’ll be more like the TB patients, and even “65%” effectiveness will mean a lot if it means staying out of the hospital. Let me emphasize that this “benefit” from the vaccines is entirely contingent upon the highly dangerous and irresponsible public policy that we have!

            Think about that for a moment. The assault on our health by TPTB through our corrupt and negligent government is what is enabling Pharma to “save us” with their “technology miracle” vaccines (or so we hope). When the vaccines were first being hyped, I speculatively compared them to the Boeing 737 MAX debacle and suggested there was a high likelihood of a catastrophic outcome. I am still in wait-and-see mode in that regard, but I nevertheless “boarded the MAX” myself (via Moderna) as I could see where the public policy was going. I saw the metaphorical gun barrel being turned on me.

            I likely caught COVID back in March ’20, and the “95% efficacy” reported by Pfizer was based on a very narrow definition of “symptomatic” disease which did not include *any of my symptoms*. (I couldn’t get tested then because I didn’t have the “right” symptoms and it was early. More recently, I spoke with the people I think I caught it from and they too suspect they had COVID but couldn’t get tested to confirm.) Furthermore, the “not symptomatic” case I suffered was followed by waves of additional symptoms over the year. Both the acute and extended phase of symptoms were mild relative to what a lot of people suffer, but they were still substantial. Some were quite concerning, such as numb toes (which I eventually traced to muscle and/or joint inflammation in the leg and ankle), brain fog, multiple episodes of conjunctival bleeding (“Pence eye”), and fits of dizziness after eating (which in hindsight may have been indicative of hyperglycemia). By the time I got vaccinated in May, I had been feeling almost back to normal for a few months, but unfortunately the vaccine triggered both a strong acute reaction (~75% of the original symptoms plus a new fever delirium) and more long-haul symptoms (mostly the muscle / joint inflammation, fatigue, brain fog, and disturbed sleep patterns). These persist to today.

            So on a very personal level, that 95% figure is pretty much rubbish because it says nothing about protection from what I experienced, which has definitely degraded the quality of my life more than a cold or flu would have. I presume that, in general, reducing the severity of illness also reduces the severity of after-effects, but I think we’re all in the dark as to how well the vaccines really work in this regard as well as with regard to how long these symptoms will typically last in people and how they will affect morbidity in the long-run. The recent numbers I saw suggesting (IIRC) ~0.6% morbidity after 6 months in *all* COVID recovered patients were not encouraging. Many of those who made it to 6 months may still end up prematurely dying given more time, and it wouldn’t surprise me if ultimately “long COVID” ends up being the more deadly form of the disease.

            1. IM Doc

              All of your comments are very important.

              I hope you can understand how complicated medical statistics are and the care which must be taken when interpreting and sharing them with patients.

              Hence my extreme disappointment with the way we have just been throwing numbers around.

              What I did above is just the basics. Going into the woods is not appropriate for this kind of forum.

              With regard to your last paragraph. My biggest fear after months of taking care of covid is actually long covid. Unfortunately, I am now beginning to see many patients with similar symptoms after the vaccines. We have a lot to learn about covid and we have a lot to learn about this first if its kind in world history vaccination program.

          7. CoryP

            I feel like a moron because I’m supposed to understand this for my job.

            Isn’t the argument that we should focus on absolute instead of relative risk, hinging on the fact that absolute risk is low with OR without the vaccine?

            This of course leads one to question whether the problem is not the overhyping of one’s risk in general (though need to account for individual risk stratification).

            I CAN see the low absolute risk reduction being an argument when balanced against the unknown effects of an emergency vaccine, however.

            But if we imagine that the vaccine is 100% safe… then I feel like RRR is what I want to know.

            To me I feel the issue is that the # of symptomatic cases in both arms might be too small in absolute terms to tell us that much, compounded by the fact that if they weren’t PCR testing everyone, then we don’t even really know how much exposure there was.

            But I continue to feel like I’m missing something. Sorry if I’m being obtuse.

      3. Raymond Sim

        I haven’t checked this guy’s arithmetic:

        but LA County is about 50% fully vaccinated overall, so if the positive tests are primarily of symptomatic people, which seems a fairly safe assumption, especially since vaccinated people are being told there’s no need to test unless symptomatic, then 19% of positives being in the fully vaccinated would be consistent with about 80% protection against symptomatic disease.

        Unfortunately, unless the ratio of symptomatic to asymptomatic cases (perhaps I should call them ‘effectively asymtomatic cases’, i.e. those who aren’t sick enough to shrug it off) is very different among the vaccinated, that leaves us forced to anticipate absolutely abysmal protection against transmission.

        Anybody know any evidence for a difference?

        I know what the plural of ‘anecdote’ isn’t. But anecdotes have been pluralizing, well, exponentially.

        It’s plausible that the vaccinated are currently a main driver of the epidemic. In highly vaccinated areas like San Francisco it’s even probable.

        1. Aumua

          That may be true, but what ajc meant above is probably something more along the lines of “the spike protein is the delta variant!!1!”. This dubious and other similar ideas have been making the rounds lately in certain wildly speculative (and increasingly mainstream) circles. I’d be curious to know what ajc’s source is for that assertion.

          1. saywhat?

            I interpreted the article as meaning the current leaky vaccines are putting evolutionary pressure on the virus to evolve to escape them.

            A likely cause is that targeting ONLY the spike makes it easier for the virus to evolve an escape; i.e. a single mutation in the spike is far more likely than the multiple, simultaneous mutations in the whole virus that would be required to defeat a vaccine that targeted the whole virus (i.e. a killed or attenuated whole virus vaccine).

            1. Aumua

              That’s a somewhat less crazy interpretation, but it’s still saying the same basic thing: that the vaccines are actually making the pandemic worse in some way. And I’m still curious to know what your source is for your particular claim or theory?

              1. saywhat?

                It’s not my theory that leaky vaccines are problematic; Google Marek’s Disease in chickens.

                1. Aumua

                  Ok. There is definitely something to that idea, and it may be a significant factor in the current coronavirus evolution. Or it may not. I’d say it’s not an easily answered question.

                2. kareninca

                  But don’t use Google. Google is making it extremely hard or impossible to find anything but the approved narrative on the pandemic. Use Bing or duckduckgo.

                  1. ambrit

                    I found exactly this when I tried to find out about the dosage of human approved (the drug that shall not be named.) Every single link on the first Google page turned up “official” pages specifically saying that the use of the veterinary form of (the drug that shall not be named) was verboten, dangerous, and or unpatriotic. I did not use any reference to the veterinary form in my search question.
                    YouTube is similar.
                    The Fix is in.
                    What this screams out to us is that someone is trying to hide something.
                    Stay safe out there in Silicon Valley!

                  2. saywhat?

                    Sorry, I was using “Google” in the generic sense to simply mean “Use a search engine”; I used duckduckgo myself.

            2. Raymond Sim

              Iran has had five waves. I think the first two at least came before the time when we could plausibly blame vaccines.

              Similarly P.1 and B.1.351 appeared in populations with extremely high previous incidence, but not much vaccination.

              I think the greatest damage done by over-focus on the spike protein has been in giving cover to the idea of herd immunity as a plausible goal, whether by vaccination, neglect, or active encouragement of transmission.

          2. Raymond Sim

            I’m literally not clear on in what way any one factor could be said to create a wave of the ongoing pandemic. I don’t want to make a stink over what might merely be an awkward use of words.

            That said, there seems to be a widespread failure to grasp that the primary driver of the current crisis is ongoing high rates of transmission.

    2. FluffytheObeseCat

      As a common member of the public my deep concerns about COVID are 1) that neither I nor my family die of it and 2) that neither I nor my family become profoundly, long term disabled by it. So in light of that, what does the following mean for me?

      “…if confirmed covid-19 is on average more severe than suspected covid-19, we must still keep in mind that at the end of the day, it is not average clinical severity that matters, it’s the incidence of severe disease that affects hospital admissions. With 20 times more suspected covid-19 than confirmed covid-19, and trials not designed to assess whether the vaccines can interrupt viral transmission, an analysis of severe disease irrespective of etiologic agent—namely, rates of hospitalizations, ICU cases, and deaths amongst trial participants—seems warranted, and is the only way to assess the vaccines’ real ability to take the edge off the pandemic.”

      I’d submit it means that I and others around me should still be wearing masks in indoor gatherings, still avoid joining large indoor crowds, and limit air travel. Yet, this suite of preventatives is exactly what the best known critics of our mainstream, conventional public health establishment sneer at. Usually by “questioning” (incessantly) the mainstream narrative in ways that lead most viewers to throw up their hands and stop trying to take any protective actions at all.

      Unfortunately we are going to see, in a matter of weeks, exactly how the current modest distribution of vaccines “take the edge off the pandemic”. We are participating in a massive real world experiment, and we may be able to quantify impact if the incidence data is collected and binned accurately. It might not be here in the U.S., but we aren’t the only nation in the world that records disease data. Whether the majority of Americans ever hears about international results is of course….. unlikely based on precedents.

      But right now, what I see is a whole bunch of preventable deaths and disabilities coming our way, due to the malice and stupidity of both sides of our sociopolitical “spectrum”. Why only the coastal, centrist, careerist Democrat types ever gets blamed for this here in comments is really unclear to me. Big right wing hitters like Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham have agency. They have power, and therefore a great duty to avoid screwing with the lives of their fan bases. Yet they do so every time they speak. Sure, they have no impact on vegan bun-head neo-hippies in Eugene. But nationwide, that demographic is minuscule. Most of the people getting screwed by the right half of our media are the kind who vacation in Branson, MO, not the kind who attend Burning Man.

      Why do most comments herein focus on the wrongs of only one of our 2 major power factions?

      1. JCC

        Why do most comments herein focus on the wrongs of only one of our 2 major power factions?

        I have thought about this often as I also have had a tendency to do the same in private emails to friends. My conclusion is, at least regarding myself, that having grown up through a time when the Dems were relatively better than Repubs when it came to the economic support of the working classes, they now have consistently been shown to no longer care.

        Although they may take a different stance on some social issues, for all practical purposes their economics policies have been nearly 100% aligned with the Republican Party. That has been the case since the Clinton Administration as many realize. And for those that didn’t realize it, it was proven by the Obama Administration… very disappointing. And when you consider the rhetoric of the Dem Party, I think that is one of the driving forces of why more anger appears to be directed at that Party.

      2. Aumua

        For myself I think I’m a little bit of a poser. I like to take a stance that is opposite of the prevailing opinions. You’ll see me doing that around here sometimes, but also I think many of us have a similar contrarian streak. And let’s face it: Trump and/ or Republicans are a very easy target. We like a bit of a challenge.

        But if we temporarily seem to side with them, let us not forget what the right’s true colors are, because we’ll see them again soon enough.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Red or blue, the color of the policies and secret and in your face agendas seems to be exactly the same.

          1. Aumua

            Well that’s because they’re all right wingers at heart, isn’t it. There is no leftist wing of power in the U.S., red or blue.

          2. ambrit

            Concerning colours as socio-political signifires; a neighbor across the street is an older single woman of evidently PMC background. She has a political sign on her lawn, (the sort of lawn that receives the care that a disabled family member usually gets,) that says “Back the Blue.”
            I, for one, cannot figure out whether she means the Republican Party, the Uniformed Police forces, or a chariot team in the Hippodrome.
            I dare not ask her since, the last time I waved to her when driving down the street, she looked at me and turned her back. (Maybe I should mow the lawn more and wash the car more often.)

      3. JL

        I have to say that I tend to agree with you on this. The legitimate principle of criticize those closest, or at least closer, to you the most harshly, or at least those who could and should know better and have been getting a pass, is seemingly at play here in this PMC piling on (and I’m not sure as an aside if that is the best sociologcal term, but for simplicity and convention so be it for here and now) without succumbing to the tyranny of ‘even handedness …”. I suspect, most of the collective denuciators have very little truck with the manipulators of conscientiousness coming from the reactionary (not conservative) manufacturies of delusion which have been operating at full volume for decades now. Certainly since the Reganist counter revolution. Rush and shock jockery in addition to evangelical huckstristic mythomaniacs have been a pervasive staple of AM radio for example since radio station consolidation in l981/2. The evangelicals well before.

        Also and more critically, I think is the ethic oft expressed here of taking one’s opponents seriously. Of including them within our polity and talking to them, bringing them around rather then deplorably disseminating. Amfortasth, of course, has been the most eloquent and existentially admirable in acting and elucidating this ethic. The problem yet within this very correct orientation is that ,if we like IMDoc for example insists, don’t dismiss ‘them’ as being stupid (though in his example many of ‘them’ are blue and PMC, e.g. more of us) but thinking reasoning people reaching reasonable enough conclusions and making decisions in face of the awful and hyper craven acts and representations of our ruling class and their systems of confusion and publicity you also have to allow them fuller agency for their affiliations, representations and acts; their beliefs. And if you do indeed grant them equal agency, then I have to say, anyone who admires Donald Trump, who see their ‘freedom’ incarnated in the Leader etc (fill in all and any of the delusional sputterings from the fasciosphere as you will)….. is well, darnit, stupid and, pernicious and demanding of constant denunciation.

        At the same time too, these are people many of whom can, or at least could (and this is the ultimate fright) per AtH’s observations, be reached and talked to. Who in their own flawed and contradictory inner inclinations are also longing for solidarity and wish to have an opportunity to act in a world in a manner that is kind, helpful and worthy, that is all that is precluded by the cash nexus, libertarian instrumentalization and the grip of the commodity and that Frankenstein like monster called the economy.

        Frankly, a large part of the problem is that our democratic party establishment (which for the record I personally have never over the six decades of my life ever given any credence to as a vehicle of anything other then being the constant and ever worsening lesser of evils) has constantly, even happily ceded the initiative to political representation to the Republican affiliated manufactures of ideas, always trailed behind them, always tried to position themselves as close to their left shoulder as possible. no matter how far right that drifts. In fact they do so because that is exactly what they are. Those of us on the left are constantly faced with the dilemma of being inflicted with the choices between our as someone observed about the Macron/Le Pen presidential runoff in France existential enemy versus our implacable foe. That John Birch Society ravings are the default presumptions of at least half and I suspect more of the population is a horror we need to I think as you say, remind ourselves of. Yet how can we not hate the mealiness of our existential foe and all of the horrors that they inflict.

        The dialectic is interminable, alas. But such is reality, alas again.

        In addition I kinda note a bit of conformist echo chamber group think/talk developing around these issues in these comment streams. I think we all have susceptibilities that way.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          take this:

          like trump with better grammar and bigger words.
          i used to like street…even when i didn’t agree with him….but it’s like he’s never been out of his neighborhood, and mistake it for the world.
          (i attempt to guard against this, but best i can do is try to mitigate it, and offer caveats,lol)
          the only people i know who sincerely love trump, are what we used to call upper middle class and above…with a handful of formerly-on-the-way to upper middle class tossed in.
          they are also pretty much to a person likely to be seen at local gop events, and to travel to austin or wherever to partake in gop/righty things.

          the rest of the right/small-c crowd is entirely reachable….but if you go tossing words like socialism…..or even “collective”, “social-“, and the like…they’ll get their back up and be suddenly switched into crazy right winger mode. This is the purpose of 50 years of pavlovian operant conditioning…in church, and in the buildout of the righty mediasphere.
          again, “forgive them, for they know not what they do”…they’ve been trained to be this way.
          but they’ve also developed major trust issues with the machinery of power, and feel betrayed and left behind.
          there is opportunity, here.
          street dismisses t. frank and bernie and others who see the necessity of at least engaging with these folks…because “they’re all bad”
          for all his dislike of the demparty, street sounds just like them.
          flinging shit at one’s mistaken neighbors just makes them double down…and proves the righty narrative about evil hateful socialists who want to eat your kids more or less correct in their eyes.

      4. IM Doc

        I have been a Dem my entire life.

        I have seen the major transformation of my profession into a wealth extraction unit.

        In almost every case, it was my Dem party that initiated these changes and could not wait to make it worse.

        Probably the worst that occurred was the dismantling and centralization of our public health system that the Obama administration was largely in charge of.

        We are now paying for this dearly.

        In the early stages of this pandemic In feb and March of 2020 when things that would have helped to cause the virus to go to extinction, Trump was stymied at every turn.

        Close international travel to China.

        You’re racist screamed Biden.

        Go eat in Chinatown said Pelosi.

        That is when it really mattered.

        Now we are just figuring out the best path to endemic status.

        Yes I cannot stand Trump. With regard to Carlson – he has had on guests that at least make you think.

        I quit listening to Rachel Maddow last year. The constant “all truth only flows from the government sctick” got really old and Chairman Mao and the Red Guard were so much better at that.

        What I am saying – there is no debate on the left – seemingly only suppression and towing the line.

        That is so not what I wanted in a liberal progressive party.

        I do despair sometimes. It seems every part of our polity is headed for disaster.

        I guess my rage is so much more focused on dems because I expected so much more.

        1. Aumua

          What I am saying – there is no debate on the left – seemingly only suppression and towing the line.

          That is so not what I wanted in a liberal progressive party.

          What I’m saying is that there is no left wing in power in the U.S. and there hasn’t been since… I don’t know how long. There is no i.e. actual Socialist party with any power at all, that would have as one of it’s main goals the facilitation, encouragement and development of a cooperative economic sector for instance, wherein workers would own and/or manage their workplaces and the means of production in a democratic and decentralized way. We’re about as far away from anything like that as we ever were.

          So instead what we have is the right, and the more right, in spite of some ‘leftish’ noises coming from Democrats at times.

      5. Raymond Sim

        I don’t think there are two power factions. The factions constitute the cast of a performance which, which while it likely has many, many purposes, serves first and foremost to obscure the actual exercise of power.

        The American Right has become impressively loathsome. Growing up where I did (Pennsylvania-Delaware border region) fifty years ago, I feel like I have a pretty high tolerance for racist bullshit, but I simply can’t stomach the cable news anymore, and I really do wonder if the people who go in for that stuff are actually reachable. I hear they’re mostly really old. I hope so.

        Then again growing up where and when I did, I also feel I know exactly who Joe Biden is. And while Tucker Carlson has agency and influence Joe has … actually I’m not sure who’s running things, but it might be Biden, and anyways we can’t possibly throw more turds at Joe than he’s already earned.

        And whoever’s in charge, whoever chose that exemplar of just about everything wrong in US politics as their figurehead, the ones writing the script for Walensky et al, they’re not visible, at least not to me. The visible prime movers for, and enablers of the suffering and death we’ve seen, and that’s yet to come though, those people do appear to me to have in fact been primarily careerist, centrist coastal Democrat types.

        As in so many things, Trump was spectacular in his awfulness, but the mishandling of the pandemic began with technocratic incompetence and ass-covering, Trump gave them a chance to prove they were also craven and mendacious, and they took it. Now Biden’s policy, about as professional and managerial as it could be, is functionally indistinguishable from Trumps.

        My biggest criticism of the likes of Tucker Carlson is that they are Biden’s most valuable allies. Without them he might have to explain what the hell he’s playing at instead of huffing about misinformation.

      6. ambrit

        I’ll pile on here.
        I have a distinct sense of having been betrayed by the Establishment Democrat Party. Ever since the advent of the Democratic Leadership Council back in 1985, and the subsequent working out of it’s agenda by Bill “Touchy Feely” Clinton and his followers, the Democrat Party essentially spat in the faces of old line New Deal Democrats like myself. In this regard, the animus against the Democrat Party seen here can be likened to a family brawl.
        As my Missouri policeman brother-in-law says; “There’s nothing worse than a family squabble. Those are the most dangerous situations to get stuck in the middle of.”
        As for why right wing “personalities” like Carlson and Ingraham are ‘given a pass,’ well, we know tham for who and what they are. We hold our Democrat Party representatives to far higher standards; which they are constantly falling far short of.
        In short, the Republican operatives are well known and predictable opponents. The New Improved Democrat Party is one staffed and run by Betrayers.

        1. JL

          Agreed and acknowledged. Have at them. I suppose it is idiosyncratic to a degree, but they never spat in my face because I considered them to be the other party of the ruling class even in the legacy dressage (in so much as it were) of their New Deal clothing back then.

  7. Watt4Bob

    There is a relatively recent scheme related to the Art ‘Market‘ that could be interesting as it applies to Hunter Biden’s output.

    It has been observed, investors taking advantage of the economic environment we find ourselves in, approach up and coming artists, ones they suspect have the potential to become “the next big thing”, and purchase all their work.

    They then hype that artist in an effort to drive the price of their work into the upper levels of what the currently inflated market supports, and when they believe that they have achieved the maximum ROI they can expect, they sell all the work they own, making a big profit on their monopoly.

    This pump-and-dump scheme that has been reported on in the WSJ, sadly amounts to compressing the artist’s career into a few months after which they most likely fade into oblivion.

    It’s not hard to see that this technique is perfect for allowing a set of ‘investors’ to corner the ‘market’ for Hunter Biden’s art, and thus become power broker/money launderers for those seeking to influence the Biden administration through the “perfectly legal” but totally opaque operation of the Art ‘Market‘?

  8. The Rev Kev

    ‘Mark Ames
    Luke Harding & the Guardian quickly learning that the paranoid, low-quality Russiagate ecosystem that they thrived in during the Trump Era has served its purpose & is no longer needed. Now, the political-media complex that Biden leads has different needs, tonally & otherwise.’

    Just throwing this idea out here. This whole thing reads like some sort of Russiagate fever dream from an earlier time. Perhaps then this document was something that was left over from the Russiagate saga and as never used. Maybe they could not use it at the time because the Robert Meuller report blew up so badly in their faces and so we were spared this Rachel Maddow fueled “bombshell” report. So Trump is starting to now go the warpath again, this was still sitting in a drawer somewhere with a seriously deleted half-life, and so it was decided to use it before it simply became the material for Saturday Night comedians. Of course no US source wanted to go anywhere near this rubbish so – enter Luke Harding and the Guardian.

    1. Questa Nota

      Visualize Harding and his cohorts in their value chain habitat, the last reaches of the digestive system. They extract what few nutrients newtrients might remain before, er, publication. That is one of the underappreciated features of the Neoliberal Because Markets rule.

      1. Vladimir "Shooting Tsars" Lenin

        Oh god, I hope so. The only thing better than seeing her lose to Trump once would be to see her lose twice. I heard she had a fit after losing the first election, crying and screaming at her staff. Maybe if she loses again the experience would actually kill her. Man, that would be so sweet.

        1. Jen

          Just when I thought nothing could suck more than the 2020 election (after thinking nothing could suck more than the 2016 election).

        2. Dr. John Carpenter

          I am not so sure TPTB would let it happen a second time. Not that Trump was bad for them, he wasn’t. But the Jan 6th kerfuffle was a little too close to direct action for them to risk the possibility that next time wouldn’t be a total clown show.

          1. ambrit

            The real lesson of Trump 2016 was that the TPTB did not want him, and he managed to pull it of against all odds.
            The election of Trump was a major wake up call to the American elites. The Deplorable Dogs aren’t eating the dog food any more. Prepare for the End Times.

    2. fresno dan

      ‘The Steele Dossier Was a Case Study in How Reporters Get Manipulated’ New York Magazine. From LeCarré, we do know that intelligence assets are in fact “manipulated” by their handlers. Nevertheless.

      With apologies to Upton Sinclair: It is difficult to manipulate someone into believing something when their salaries, stock options, and book advances depend on believing something to begin with.

      Clearly, reporters believe something and then find evidence, and/or fairy tales, but mostly fairy tales, to support their beliefs…and salaries, stock options, and book advances

  9. PlutoniumKun

    The Crumbling Foundations of the Conservative Party Tribune. Big if true.

    The problem is that the Conservative Party is very good at reinventing itself. When the aristocrats who dominated it weakened and lost control, it became the party of big business. When that group weakened it became the party of used car dealers.

    The current strategy seems to be a ‘war on woke’, i.e. become the party that represents the people who feel marginalised by the dominance of cosmopolitans in culture and society. It is, of course, a weird irony that the biggest party in power can do so by pretending to be marginalised, but we are where we are.

    If you think a policy like this won’t work, look to South Korea for one. For decades, there has been a generational shift whereby the conservative religious elements got older and older and young people favoured democracy and liberalism, up until everyone under the age of 50 was voting for change and the conservatives looked like a gathering at a nursing home. But now the right is revived, and to the surprise of nearly everyone is hugely popular among young men in their 20’s and early 30’s. The reasons for this may be specific to Korea, but political identities are highly fluid (to use a term beloved of Millenials and Gen Zers). Don’t be surprised if the Conservatives manage to engineer a similar turn around.

    1. Terry Flynn

      Yep. I love sci-fi and although I will never ever “subscribe” to a bunch of YouTube channels who describe themselves collectively as the “Fandom Menace” (partly because although they typically display a kernel of insight concerning the promotion of woke values at the expense of “good story, characterisation etc”, they sound like a broken record and are rapidly degenerating into the type of people they claim to despise – the “SJW mob” – via their infighting, ludicrous use of reductio ad absurdum etc etc), I see how a segment of the population might be attracted to the Conservatives, if they present a type of populism and “anti-wokeness” that Boris seems quite adept at exploiting.

      It is correct that whilst a populist agenda “against wokeness” might hurt Labour, it isn’t a viable foundation for the long term. As usual South Park has things right. In a recent season, when wokeness etc is being speared, it shows a local TV interview with the two local farmers who have been used as the “outside narrator on things” for nigh on 23 seasons. They’re asked how long they think this’ll go on. One astutely replies “well last time it [political correctness] went on a few years, then went away again”. So the Conservatives might be building a fortress for the next election, but as you warn, we should beware of counting them out since they can pivot pretty quickly when societal priorities change quickly. NEVER under-estimate the Tories.

      1. Watt4Bob

        The way I see it at the moment is that the country is divided roughly, into 4 parts;

        1. The openly authoritarian/corporatist right comprised of Republican party.

        2. The secret authoritarian/corporatist right comprised of the Democratic party and allied members of the PMC.

        3. Right wing populists comprised of roughly of Trump supporters.

        4. Left wing populists roughly comprised of Bernie Sanders supporters, and left leaning voters who are not “secret authoritarian/corporatists” (members of the PMC)

        Numbers 1, 2 and 3 are actively engaged in thwarting the ambitions of #4.

        Number 1openly and vociferously, #2 hypocritically, and in ‘secret’ and #3 by mindlessly following #1, and of course Trump.

        Numbers 3 and 4 would be natural allies if not for the very effective tactics employed by numbers 1 & 2.

        The long standing and effective tactic by which 1 & 2 have inculcated hatred between 3 & 4 is the primary reason there is so little hope of stopping the damage being done by 1 & 2.

        The biggest story here is the one that is becoming more clear everyday, and that is that numbers 1 & 2 are embroiled in a death-match power struggle in which numbers 2 & 4 are doomed to be collateral damage if they don’t wise up and realize that they’re only hope of survival lies in joining in solidarity to oppose Numbers 1 & 2.

        1 & 2 will, IMO lead us into economic collapse, and civil war by continuing on their current course.

        It is not clear to me whether we can avoid that war because no one other than Bernie Sanders seems to be calling for solidarity between 3 & 4…

        …and hardly anyone understands the necessity of totally defeating #3.

        1. CanCyn

          I think there is 5th group. Working class and the unemployed, most of whom have stopped trusting or paying attention to politics of any stripe. Many of these people are struggling to survive and have absolutely no interest in TPTB and their machinations.

          1. Watt4Bob

            Many of these people are struggling to survive and have absolutely no interest in TPTB and their machinations.

            I think you’re wrong there.

            I would have described many people as “struggling to survive” over all of the last 40 years.

            At this point a very large part of that group is in dire straights, the sort of pain that forces their attention towards those who are obviously ‘ruling‘ as opposed to leading.

            Yes, they long ago stopped trusting, but they are more and more paying attention, it is what they are paying attention to that is important.

            They are mostly, and sadly IMO, paying attention to the lies of the R & D crowd, who have not much more than lies to offer.

            Having “absolutely no interest in TPTB and their machinations” is an attitude that only the well off can afford.

            1. CanCyn

              The well off pay, and I mean that in the financial sense, all kinds of attention to the politicos, they are paying to ensure that they keep their money and their power. In some sense I think you’re right but about the PMC, not the super wealthy. The PMC have come to believe that they deserve their status and that, with more work, anyone can achieve what they have. They don’t think they need the political protections they have e.g. tax breaks. They earned it and don’t have to pay much attention. Vote for the Dems Ndola all is well /s. You know, the American pipe dream. But the truly poor? Paying attention and rising up? I wish with all my heart that you are right and that these people are paying attention and willing to fight the scams that have been perpetrated on them. I see no evidence of this, can you provide some examples?

              1. Watt4Bob

                The gist of it as I see is the poor starting to pay attention, the proliferation of videos capturing police brutality for instance.

                The phenomenon of minimum wage workers refusing to go back to work for their previous wages is another.

                We all quit

                Call it an awakening

                Rising up, not so much, especially if you expect it to be effective.

                On the other hand, I have to admit that we in the blogosphere have been stumbling over the same question since before the crash of 2008, and for some since the 1960s and the Viet Nam war;

                “What must be done?”


                “If not me, then who, if not now, then when?”

                1. CanCyn

                  I’m not sure about the filming of police brutality being done by the poor, but I’ll give you ‘we all quit’ – that did give me hope. The rest of us need to start boycotting these businesses if we don’t already.
                  One of the reasons that I retired early is that I could no longer see the point of my work. My community college was taken over by MBAs and bean counters and idpol idiots and lost all sense that education is between teachers and students quite some time ago. I have many friends still working for whom COVID has awakened them to the drudgery and pointlessness of their jobs. But as of yet, I have no sense that any of them are going to make changes. We shall see. I try to hope and am ready to act if the opportunity comes along but can’t quite imagine what it will be. And am cynical enough to assume it’ll be business as usual at some point in the future. Presumably, TPTB won’t have it any other way.

        2. Aumua

          Wait a sec. Bernie is calling for solidarity between left and right wing populists? And “hardly anyone understand the necessity of defeating” right wing populists? I’m a little dubious of those statements, but otherwise it’s an alright hypothetical framework I guess.

          1. Watt4Bob

            Yes, Bernie has openly stated that he hears and understands the pain of the white working class;

            From Vanity Fair 7/12/21;

            But Sanders told Dowd that a two-to-three trillion bill would be “much too low” for him to support, saying that lawmakers have an opportunity now to “address concerns progressives have had for decades.” Sanders has made clear he doesn’t want to squander that opportunity. But he has also sought to build bridges between the progressive movement and the White House—and even between his coalition and the white working class, whom he suggested to Dowd could be pulled away from Trumpism if the Democratic party better met their needs. “We’ve got to take it to them,” he said. “I intend…to start going into Trumpworld and start talking to people.”

            And very big sorry, my bad. I meant to say very few understand the necessity of defeating #2

            Everyone is focused on defeating Trumpism, they are sadly ignoring the fact that the slow-walking democratic leadership is a very large part of the problem and must be held accountable or defeated.

            1. Aumua

              On your second point about the Dems, fair enough. I’m still not convinced that Sanders wanting to pilfer white working class people away from Trumpism is quite the same thing as solidarity with right wing populists.

              1. Watt4Bob

                Describing Sanders intent as “pilfering” from Trump is a mis-characterization bordering on slander.

                The quotation I supplied made clear his actual intent is to “build bridges” and to convince the democratic party to address the needs of the white working class.

                Building bridges is not pilfering, and meeting the needs of the white working class ie providing tangible, material benefits is not the same thing as declaring solidarity with right-wing populists.

                1. Aumua

                  Sway then. Whatever, it doesn’t change my point. I guess we have to stop here and discuss the meaning of “solidarity” since it seems to hold different shades of meaning for each of us.

                  Wikipedia defines solidarity as a unity of purpose, “an awareness of shared interests, objectives, standards, and sympathies creating a psychological sense of unity of groups or classes.” Shared interests I could see between the ostensible lefty socialist leaning working class and Trumper style right wingers. But objectives? Not so much and standards even less so.

                  Sympathy? Well Bernie might have some but I doubt it is returned by the right. As far as I understand it the populist right is a fairly hard right, and they hold some pretty strong anti-communist and anti-socialist sentiments to the point of wanting to seriously hurt or kill people who hold those views.

                  So that’s how I see the word solidarity and why I think that true solidarity is not possible here. Maybe Bernie feels differently, I don’t know. My way of defining words is not the only way.

                  1. Watt4Bob

                    I understand your point of view.

                    Maybe what we’re experiencing here is a difference in our levels of optimism?

                    I also find it difficult find the light in our current situation.

                    Thanks for the exchange.

            2. Darthbobber

              This reads to me like Sanders attempting to pull parts of #3s base into #4. Which is not precisely the same thing as pushing an alliance or united front between the two conceptualized blocs.

              1. Watt4Bob

                I think his stated intent to “build bridges” is a necessary, but insufficient step in the process.

                I would point out that just prior to his murder, Fred Hampton was having some success in building bridges between the Black Panthers and the Puerto Rican Young Lords, and the Young Patriots, a white-led group comprised mostly of poor southerners in Chicago.

                Journal of African American Studies, Jeb Abram Middlebrook

                We got to face some facts. That the masses are poor, that the masses belong to what you call the lower class, and when I talk about the masses, I’m talking about the white masses, I’m talking about the black masses, and the brown masses, and the yellow masses, too….We’re gonna fight racism with solidarity…capitalism with socialism.

                —Fred Hampton, Deputy Chairman, Chicago chapter of the Black Panther Party, 1969

                This is the story of the origin of the Rainbow Coalition, fear of which on the part of the MOTU in my estimation led to the assassination of Fred Hampton.

                J. Edgar Hoover was particularly obsessed with the necessity of preventing the rise of what he described as a “Black Messiah“.

                Fred Hampton would have certainly fit the bill.

        3. LifelongLib

          Most of the so-called PMC live off paychecks and can be fired. That makes them “workers”. Yes, there are social/cultural barriers between (say) “physical” and “mental” workers, people who went to college as opposed to trade school, and managers vs the managed. But all are very much in the same economic boat, and float or sink together. Separating out the “PMC” as a separate group with unique economic interests obscures more than it reveals.

          1. Watt4Bob

            I disagree.

            The working class experience is much more precarious than that of the PMC, and the working class has legitimate grievances that the PMC not only do not have, or understand, but which they actively ignore, or believe are self-imposed.

            The working class is considered expendable by their employers and are constantly reminded of that fact.

            The PMC on the other hand is encouraged by their employers to feel important, their pay reinforces this self image and they feel entitled to to their economic position because of their hard work, academic credentials, and superior characters.

            IMO, the term PMC as understood in the context of the NC commentariat is correct, and quite useful in understanding the negative impact of what might also be described as the mis-leadership class.

            It clarifies the issues that the mis-leadership class would rather remain obscure, the most important being the fact that regardless of what they may say, the PMC is demonstrably not politically aligned with the interests of the working class.

            1. ambrit

              Sorry. I didn’t read your comment before I posted my take on this issue below.
              Full agreement with you on this issue. I speak from personal experience. We have PMC and PMC adjacent households in our immediate family social circle.
              Stay safe.

              1. Watt4Bob

                No apology necessary, I think we’re all used to the pace of exchange here at NC, and how the conversation can get temporarily scrambled.

                Thanks for your comment.

          2. ambrit

            The trouble with your point is that there is now a very visible separation in not only status, but also actual, physical living standards between the PMC and PMC adjacent and the original ‘working class.’
            Economically, the PMC cadres are light years ahead of their ‘working class’ brothers and sisters and will do “what it takes” to maintain that economic status.
            For your point to become operationally valid, America needs to enter into another Great Depression, one that punishes saints and sinners alike.

          3. IM Doc

            I am a member of the PMC – but I came from a working class (nursery and orchards) family. I absolutely could not disagree with your statement more.

            At least in my world.

            It takes an act of Congress to get a doctor fired.

            The lowly phlebotomists and CNAs can be fired at the drop of a hat. I used to have a partner who sat around and laughed at how hard she made people cry when she was firing them.

            And most if not all of the working class in medicine is struggling daily to make ends meet.

            I do not know about any other fields but in medicine you are oh so wrong.

            1. Watt4Bob

              Thank you for sharing your observations.

              Once, during the early days of introducing PCs to our company, I made the mistake of commenting to one of our parent organization’s big-wigs that the computers were increasing ‘productivity’.

              He fired back;

              “Productivity is just who you can fire.”

              It was then that I started to understand the managements consensus that we’re all expendable, just pieces of lego.

              I later learned we had a hard and fast rule concerning personnel expenses. They absolutely could not exceed a set percentage.

              I was told our parent organization sent the following message;

              “If you don’t know who to fire, we’ll send someone down who does.”

            2. Watt4Bob

              Thank you.

              I see the prominence of nurses unions on the forefront of the class war as grounds for optimism.

              I don’t know if you’re aware of the fight that occurred when California’s delegates to the 2016 democratic convention included a very large contingent of union nurses who backed Bernie Sanders.

              The DNC gang sent a bunch of ‘security‘ goons to try and evict the nurses whip from the convention floor, the guys in suits were man-handling her awqay from the floor when all the nurses in matching red tee shirts produced their phones and started recording the confrontation.

              The suits immediately let her go, and fled the scene.

              An all too rare, but powerful moment that highlighted the power of solidarity.

              1. LifelongLib

                But per e.g. Wikipedia and some commenters here on NC, nurses are PMC, as are school teachers, scientists, and a slew of other occupations. Basically anyone with a 4 or more year college degree and a salary (rather than an hourly wage) gets lumped into that category. That was the basis of my objection to it. Most of those people are really workers, albeit somewhat privileged.

                1. Watt4Bob

                  The ‘M’ in PMC stands for managerial, none of the ‘jobs‘ you list are managerial.

                  People with ‘jobs‘, as opposed to managerial ‘careers‘ are clearly not considered members of the PMC around these parts.

                  1. LifelongLib

                    The way I’ve seen PMC used, it’s professional/managerial, and I have seen it used that way “around these parts”. Obviously it’s a term that needs some clarification before we can even discuss it…

                  2. allan

                    SCOTUS disagrees. Welcome to NLRB v. Yeshiva University (1980):


                    The Yeshiva University Faculty Association (a labor union) asked the National Labor Relations Board to be certified as the official bargaining agent for teaching and professorial staff at Yeshiva University. University management argued that the staff should not qualify as “employees” under the National Labor Relations Act 1935 §2(11) as they had sufficient supervisory authority. The staff contended that, while they managed their teaching and curriculum, they did not have effective authority over managerial power.


                    A majority of the Supreme Court, 5 to 4, held that full-time professors in a university were excluded from collective bargaining rights, on the theory that they exercised “managerial” discretion in academic matters. Justice Powell delivered the majority opinion, which Chief Justice Burger, Justice Stewart, Justice Rehnquist and Justice Stevens joined. …

        4. Acacia

          The way I see it at the moment is that the country is divided roughly, into 4 parts

          Watt4Bob, have you seen George Packer’s “The Four Americas“?

          Worth a read. H/t to NC for bringing Packer’s article to my attention.

          1. ambrit

            Wow! That is very like Ceaser’s opening to “The Gallic Wars.”
            “Veni, vidi, virused.” anyone?
            “Veni, vidi, et infectam virus.” just doesn’t have the same cachet.

    2. David

      Agreed. The author is a doctoral student at Oxford University, so this is positioned a little bit above a good undergraduate essay. For such a person, a crusade against “wokeness” must seem a bad idea (“all my friends are woke”) and BLM must have seemed an event of epoch-making proportions (“all my friends went on BLM marches”). But for the vast majority of the population who are not doctoral students at Oxford, things look a little different, I suspect.

      It’s true that Thatcher’s victory in 1979 was not the beginning of some seismic shift in politics. Public opinion moved steadily to the Left on most issues during the 80s, and the Tories would have been out as early as 1983 if the party had not split a couple of years earlier. It’s also true that membership of the Tory party has fallen dramatically since its heyday, before the author was born. But the traditional party was never an organisation of political militants, it was more like a social club, and the decline doesn’t mean that much. Both these things are well known.

      The Tories, as everyone knows, are interested in power, not ideological purity. They have changed, and will do so again. It’s clear that they’ve written off the cosmopolitan middle-class big-city woke intelligenttsia, but that’s not much of a loss. Nor is it necessarily a vote-loser. Remember, since the 1960s, children from ordinary families have been allowed increasingly to go to University. If you’re a lower middle-class couple making sacrifices to send you child to university and such child is sent home in disgrace for being reluctant to attend compulsory transsexual awareness training, you’re going to be pretty pissed.

      There’s no reason why the Tories can’t fashion a policy, and an electorate, out of sovereignism, increased public spending and a bluff no-nonsense attitude towards current intellectual fads. I’m not sure that’s a bad idea, either, and I say that as a lifelong Socialist. In any case, they don’t have to do brilliantly, they just have to do better than Labour, and I think at the moment almost anyone could do better than Labour.

      1. ambrit

        From “across the pond” what we fear most is a resurgence of Mosley style nativism and authoritarianism.

    3. ObjectiveFunction

      >> the party that represents the people who feel marginalised by the dominance of cosmopolitans in culture and society.

      Hmm, if that is ‘homeless’ Cosmopolitans in the Stalin sense, then perhaps Mr. Hilter will be standing in the next Minehead by-election.

  10. Henry Moon Pie

    Genes, culture and change–

    Interesting article summarizing the findings of two U Maine scientists re: the relative influence of genes and culture on our behavior:

    In a new study, University of Maine researchers found that culture helps humans adapt to their environment and overcome challenges better and faster than genetics.

    After conducting an extensive review of the literature and evidence of long-term human evolution, scientists Tim Waring and Zach Wood concluded that humans are experiencing a “special evolutionary transition” in which the importance of culture, such as learned knowledge, practices and skills, is surpassing the value of genes as the primary driver of human evolution.

    Culture is an under-appreciated factor in human evolution, Waring says. Like genes, culture helps people adjust to their environment and meet the challenges of survival and reproduction. Culture, however, does so more effectively than genes because the transfer of knowledge is faster and more flexible than the inheritance of genes, according to Waring and Wood.

    I’m not sure it’s a good idea to subsume genetic evolution and cultural change under “evolution.” Maybe it’s better to just say that human behavior is under the influence of both culture and genes, but that cultural change is the faster and less invasive way of changing our behavior than fiddling with our genetics.

  11. PlutoniumKun

    The lurking threat to solar power’s growth MIT Technology Review

    What a terrible problem to have – super cheap energy during sunny days. Solar has major problems in some grids, but in others it is the saviour. In windy northern latitudes, solar produces power during the long dry summer days when wind and hydro power is low. In other words, it works well as part of an overall grid balance.

    It also overlooks that while very low energy costs are a big problem to the owners of the solar panels, they are a boon to other businesses – i.e. those that can use this cheap energy for other purposes. A key one is making hydrogen or other liquid fuels for mixing in with existing fuel sources (hydrogen can be added to existing gas networks at low levels as an example). More simply, you can just use differential pricing to encourage people to do things like their laundry during the sunniest part of the day.

    As always, you can never look at any one electricity source in isolation. Generating steady electrical power is a matter of juggling power generation, demand, and network capacity issues. You don’t cook a meal by only looking at one ingredient at a time, its the mix that matters.

    1. Brian (another one they call)

      Spot on PK: One thing the sunnier climes require is air conditioning. Solar can erase the demand for electricity when it is needed most, on hot days when the sun is shining hard. A more universal application might just erase those electrifying profits the energy companies make when the government in their jurisdiction allows them to penalize their customers. This is a huge win for the consumer. I have been waiting for “less expensive” regarding a solar installation for some time. Time to get off the fence.

      1. Mantid

        Another One, Exactly! I don’t need a new career, but I think a “fix it” person could make a great living with solar air con kits. Offer to sequester and install an air con system for (even just a portion of) a house with an appropriately sized solar display. When it gets above 30, you hit the switch and the air con takes over running exclusively on the solar array – even when the mains are out.

        Of course the solar can feed the house anytime, but a small and effective system like this would make an installer a good living and be a net “negative” regarding CO2 and it’s evil twin, global warming.

        1. ObjectiveFunction

          Jeff Gibbs. Moore was just kind enough to put his branding on it. That film got a lot of bad flak but its core message is on point: today’s generation of renewables is simply not delivering the benefits to warrant all the huge subsidies, obscene PE profiteering and smug self regard.

          As most know here, fighting climate change must be mainly on the demand side. But good luck shaming the global middle classes into going back to sweltering in huts. Aye, there’s the rub.

          Geometry bites: solar simply doesn’t produce enough juice per square meter to power a ‘modern lifestyle’ (i.e. HVAC as well as light and appliances) in the volumetric space beneath it. That’s even with a purpose-built, highly energy efficient single story structure; they’ve been trying for decades and truly net zero spaces are hard, and bloody expensive. Or else demand a far more austere lifestyle than most of our species will tolerate.

          So since nobody has yet figured out how to stack solar vertically, you must either empanel a large additional surface, or else use grid power. Finding a lot of surplus space is not straightforward in most places where people live and work. Parking lots are one, but those arrays still provide only a miniscule fraction of adjacent building loads.

          So, solar needs land, land and more land. And if you want storage too, for when the sun isn’t shining, you need 2-3x more land than that.

          I’m not saying solar has no place, it does. But we can’t delude ourselves on what kind of consumption, lifestyles and economic activity it can support.

          For example, I read Nordic country studies advising emerging countries on how to industrialize green. They end up talking about needing 5-8% of total national land mass for solar and wind. Just insane. Brezhnev reverse-the-Arctic-rivers / Army Corps straighten the Everglades insane.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I believe there may be a subtle difference in the economics of solar power in Europe and solar power in the US — a difference arising from issues of who pays to maintain the power balance in the Grid as demand and supplies like solar and wind vary and who pays to maintain the Grid. In the US the Utility Companies are on the hook to balance power in the Grid and they are obligated to let Solar and Wind power tie into the Grid. I believe they are also obligated to purchase Solar or Wind power when it is available. I cry no tears for the Utility Companies, but they are in a financial squeeze aggravating their already abysmal maintenance of the Grid and their management’s existing predilections toward looting the company they ‘manage’. I fear the long term effects of this state of affairs does not bode well for the users of electric power.

      1. chris

        There are also less subtle differences between the EU and the US with respect to solar. The best places in a lot of Europe for solar aren’t as highly rated as the worst places in the US. Take Germany for instance. Maine beats it hands down.

        The other aspect of solar that is crucial in the US with our grid are the distances involved between generation and use. With solar you have the opportunity to generate the power you use at the same place you’re using it. There are complications with that approach. I’m also nervous about the idea of distributed generation being a new way to screw poor people in the US. But it’s an idea whose time has come and solar is the obvious way to implement it in the US. It would mean the places where you need AC the most would be cooled using power from non-fossil sources. That’s really what we need to be moving towards IMO.

    3. Trogg

      It would be nice if peak energy usage—when people get home from work, cook, do chores—lined up with some sunshine, but that would involve shortening the work day (the horror!)!

      1. juno mas

        …or instituting a mid-day “siesta” to do some laundry, sip a cool drink, and maybe watch the clothes dry on the line. Then get back to producing for the boss?

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > What a terrible problem to have – super cheap energy during sunny days.

      It’s almost as if the forces of production and the relations of production are in contradiction.

    5. Skip Intro

      CA has apparently topped 1 gigawatt of storage, and the peak time has shifted from day time to 4-9pm, due to growing numbers of residential solar installations with batteries included! The article was a typically myopic economic analysis, and probably not a good faith one at that. It is as if all these little modeled rational actors have other values than just profit, like resilience in the face of blackouts and wildfires, or reducing their CO2 footprints, or keeping up with the Joneses. They also ignore the possibility that other legislation might change the relative costs of, say, gas or coal generation. And I guess they assume hydroelectric power will be remain viable even without rain. I smell F.U.D. deployment.

      This bizarre conflation was like an eyeball fishhook:

      The state’s SB 100 law, passed in 2018, requires all of California’s electricity to come from “renewable and zero-carbon resources” by 2045. By that point, some 60% of the state’s electricity could come from solar, based on a California Energy Commission model.

      The Breakthrough study estimates that the value of solar–or the wholesale average price relative to other sources–will fall by 85% at that point, decimating the economics of solar farms, at least as California’s grid exists today.

      So today’s solar farm economics will be decimated by changes over the next 25 years, and this is a big problem today? They are sure making a lot of assumptions about 2045 to come up with a glib assertion like that, and it, IMHO, casts doubt on their motivations, integrity, and competence.

    6. ex-PFC Chuck

      The industry should double down on energy storage R&D, especially flow batteries. From what I’m hearing the main obstacles in terms of KWH of electrolyte storage/volume and cycle efficiency percentage are environmental risk. The best substances identified so far are quite nasty substances.

      1. HotFlash

        Do we really need to store so much power? A 7/24/365 power grid is maybe not the way to go, or at least not totally. Our grandparents or great-grandparents managed just fine, thank you, working from sun to sun, we could/should learn from them. As for grids and Big Transmission, they are AC b/c DC does not travel well — too much line drop over distance. But if we build local (ie, household, neighbourhood) low-voltage DC for as much use as possible line drop is not a problem. If we rejig our lives to accord better with the sun we would not need All Those Watts at 2:00am — bed time, already!* I would think that grid AC could serve as a useful back-up (if required). 12volt DC is quite sufficient for lighting, water pumping, refrigeration, much cooking, and other household uses. With a bit of jiggering, it will even work shop tools.

        My mom remembered when electricity first came to the farm — the wellhouse pump, to draw water to cool the milk and for household use, a few lights, incl one in the barn. Nothing for the outhouse, the kids still had to carry a kerosene lantern out there at night. Mum said that her older brother would always ask her to accompany him there in the dark, but then he would take the lantern inside. Because she was braver, he told her.

        *Note to Lambert, Yves, and other night-owls: lighting, computer, and phone do not use that much juice and if you can charge up their batteries when the sun shines, all should be fine.

    1. DJG, Reality Czar

      diptherio: Do you have any maremma sheepdog puppies this year? Inquiring minds want to know…

  12. Terry Flynn

    Supply chain disruption (whether COVID or BREXIT related) has come up on NC in the last week or two. Here in literal middle of England it has finally reared its ugly head in a big way across all supermarkets round here. And surprise surprise, the supermarkets are lying about the reason. Saturday is the main day I do my “shopping carer duties” to help mum. Thankfully, and for the first time (ever?) I persuaded her to do it before mid-day. Yet widespread empty shelves in both Sainsburys (top end-ish) and Aldi (lower end-ish) were finally apparent.

    Just one example – We needed cat-litter (amongst other things to start rebuilding frozen and other meals). Our cat uses it only in emergencies and thankfully does most of her stuff outside and in our garden. But we needed new litter as with the large number of new residents in the area (with new cats staking out their territory), our female long-haired moggy who is affectionate but quite timid, has had a bit of trouble standing her ground and clearly used the litter more. According to Sainsburys there is a huge increase in demand (signs on empty shelves saying this – WTF?), hence most types sold out. Likewise various human foodstuffs. Hmmm. I know the origins of these products. My dad’s company buys from Germany and Spain and the Romanian courier who finally got a large delivery through told him “sorry for delays – one country gave me lots of problems but all other cross-border crossings went like clockwork.” Dad asked who gave problems. The guy named France. Just anecdotal but Dad’s German and Spanish suppplier companies have both offered themselves for sale to him on extremely beneficial terms, else their loss of UK business could make them non-viable.

    Anyway I’ve warned mum that it’s time to rebuild our stocks as the toilet-roll fiasco could look like a picnic compared to what might happen soon when others start noticing that certain foodstuffs are simply not being replenished.

    1. TroyIA

      Report from the U. S. about supply chain issues that will create even more backlogs.

      Swamped Union Pacific halts all rail shipments from US west coast for a week

      Shippers in America, slammed by record rates and delays, have been hit with another mini black swan event.
      Railroad operator Union Pacific informed customers on Wednesday it will temporarily halt shipments of international containers from all west coast ports to its Global IV terminal in Chicago for up to a week, beginning on Sunday night.

      The suspension includes containers from the California ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, and Tacoma, Washington.

      . . .

      Chicago remains the biggest onward destination for cargo arriving at America’s top two ports, Los Angeles and Long Beach, ports that are having to contend with an early peak season and the impact of extra thousands of containers arriving late from key Chinese export hub, Yantian, where operations were hampered last month thanks to an outbreak of Covid-19.

      Shippers looking north of the border for solutions face other problems. Wildfires in Canada have seriously impacted rail services to and from the west coast port of Vancouver this month.

      1. ambrit

        Thanks for the ‘heads up.’
        This is going to get big, quick. Panic buying will compound the problems.
        We’re in Da Deep Sout and I see this as a “stock up and stock deep” signal.
        Stay safe!

    2. Keith

      On this end of the pond I am noticing similar issues. Two factors that have stood out for me are:

      1. Store brand, the likes of Walmart and Target appear to be unable to maintain stocks while Kroger brands does a better job (they are also quicker to ration),

      2. Other issue is size of metro. I do stock up using Costco (big US warehouse club)- and they are not supplying stores in smaller locales. I find myself makes the 2 1/2 trip- each way- to pick up items unavailable locally from the same chain.

      I am in stock up mode, but now I have a spreadsheet listing products on hand to better organize and rotate stocks. I also hope to can a little from the farmers markets, but they too seem to be embracing the rise of inflation.

      Home centers are stocked by me and wood is coming down in price, so I may also start grabbing building supplies, as well. It could be a long covid winter.

      Fyi, Christmas may be difficult, too. So if you have little ones, think toy shopping now.

      1. Terry Flynn

        Thanks. I couldn’t remember offhand how much of the UK disruption was COVID-related and how much was BREXIT-related. Whilst I think BREXIT hasn’t helped, a reply like yours illustrates that there’s a fair proportion of “COVID-related” disruption here.

        I’m already thinking ahead as to which supermarkets to hit and when so as to minimise my risk of infection. I’m vaccinated fully and always masked when out but I heard a distressing number of weird “beeps” in Aldi which were NOT text messages and which I strongly suspect were the COVID-19 App on smartphones warning that “you have spent 10+ minutes close to someone diagnosed with COVID”.

        1. Skip Intro

          I like to shop as soon as the store opens, on the assumption that fewer virions are suspended in the air then.

    3. PlutoniumKun

      I suspect that Brexit is a bigger contributor than Covid because I haven’t seen many of those issues this side of the Irish Sea. There are significant bottlenecks in things like consumer electronics and construction materials, but I can’t say I’ve seen any big shortages in the supermarkets beyond the normal seasonal ebb and flow.

      1. Basil Pesto

        I actually wanted to ask about this – to what extent might shortages be related to Brexit rather than Covid? Brexit fallout reporting has fallen by the wayside a bit for obvious reasons. Both are probably a factor but if it is Brexit to any extent, gov’t can shrug their shoulders and say “that’s Covid for ya”.

      2. David

        Well, we do have many of the same issues in France. The building trade is hurting badly, and if you want your roof replaced or a new bathroom installed, you’ll be lucky if there’s any movement before the end of the year. Our local IKEA is out of many of its product lines (I just bought a piece of kitchen furniture made in Vietnam, I think it was the last one.) But talking to people involved, the biggest problem is actually raw materials, which, even for goods made in Europe, have to come from all over the world. And they’re not.

        1. Basil Pesto

          The same issues are in play in Australia from what I gather, a shortage of building materials and labour. User ‘skippy’ may have more insight.

          1. skippy

            Yes as consolidation of suppliers occurred over the years meets forward balance sheet expectations and now redeployment of capital for remodels/referbs/new housing due to covid. So all the money that would have been spent on travel/discretionary items is now being spent on the abode people are living in.

            I’m aware of some orders for 40 houses worth of lumber being made so they can nest the timber, not only that but it seems many are seeking wide and far to alternative suppliers, normally businesses stick with well worn partners IMO.

            There are also regional effects like here in Queensland where NSW and Vic refugees from covid are flooding the state, saturating the RE and rental markets ie. not unusual to have 25+ people rock up to a new rental listing.

            From my side of the industry in protective/aesthetic coatings we are booked solid 4 months out from a referral only clientele, no marketing or public advertising, yet still doing quotes further out. Currently finishing a 140 year old Queenslander inside and out in Red Hill which has had about 6 referbs done to it over its life and the last being a modern extension off the back 10ish years ago.

  13. Tom Stone

    Diptherio, they may be young, but they are also wild animals.
    Do not get between that Doe and her fawns, their hooves are razor sharp and they use them as weapons quite effectively.

    1. diptherio

      Thanks Tom. I’ve lived in Montana my whole life and am well acquainted with wild critters and things you best not do around them. You must be mistaking me for a city person.

      1. diptherio

        Adding…I’m much more concerned about being attacked by the black bear sow or the mountian lion that’s been hanging around the place lately.

          1. diptherio

            The lion, yes. Wouldn’t be the first time they made off with one…it’s the circle of life.

            1. Wukchumni

              About a decade ago my buddy and his family were up in Sequoia NP @ Wuksachi Lodge in the parking lot with their golden retriever Bailey, when 4 deer about 100 feet away formed a skirmish line and they were mystified as to why the defense posture until it dawned on them that the deer had figured Bailey for a mountain lion.

                1. heresy101

                  Don’t know about stupid. The deer (female) have figured about every way to get into my yard to have a picnic on my 15 new fruit trees even though wire has been put up to block areas where the fence isn’t high. Some trees will have to be replaced and I am arranging to put up an 8′ fence around the garden area. We don’t live in the boondocks but in the Bay Area looking over at the Golden Gate Bridge.

                  Speaking of sharp hooves, the same deer got into the neighbors yards and cut up their older dog. Thank goodness he is doing ok even with the deep cuts.

                  1. newcatty

                    When we made our first trip to Estes Park, CO we were on our way to the Park. Excited and enjoying the beauty of experiencing RNP for the first time. Stopped for a pint at a local brewery. Chatting with our bartender about how amazing it was to see elk grazing in lawns, parks, almost anyway there was grass , which is just about everywhere. Our new aquaintance lol, and said elk are pests! They make it impossible to have any fruit trees or gardens. It was startling. Later, thought about how ironic when viewing elk is a main draw for RNP. Now, if those pesky elk would just stay in their protected space…

                  2. ambrit

                    Try this method friends of ours from the long ago who were “gentleman farmers” of a certain ‘cash crop’ used.
                    Go to your local zoo and ask for some five gallon buckets of lion or tiger scat. Spread a little of the said very smelly substance around the crops needing protection. A little goes a long way. No “prey animal” will go near that smell.

      2. CuriosityConcern

        I was just thinking it behooved him to mention it. It didn’t seem like he was trying to fawn all over you to make a point, merely to buck the trend and alert you to the safety aspects.

  14. LawnDart

    “Houston, we have a problem…”

    Above article would be another indication that Delta Plus has a foothold in travel-friendly USA. And effectiveness of vaccines against this particular varient seems largely unknown as of yet. Despite the happy-talk and bulls#!t of drugmakers and pols.

    What I appreciate about Mr. Drake’s article in Forbes is that he makes no pretensions of any certainties when it comes to the Delta
    Plus or Gamma varients, except that we certainly better watch these.

    1. allan

      Yet another reason not to go out much and not to travel, but to continue to mask if you have to do either.
      Of course many essential workers don’t have an option about the first two.
      Will employers pressure workers not to mask so as to pretend that things are back to normal?

      But regardless of the variant, it’s better for communities to be heavily vaccinated than not:

      … A new ABC analysis has found that over the past week, states that have fully vaccinated less than 50% of their total population have reported a weekly average coronavirus case rate that is three times higher than in states that have fully vaccinated more than half of their residents.

      States that have fully vaccinated more than half of their residents reported an average of 15.1 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people over the last week, compared to an average of 45.1 cases per 100,000 people in states that have vaccinated less than half of their residents.

      The 14 states with the highest case rates all have fully vaccinated less than half their total population, and 10 out of the 11 states with the lowest case rates have fully vaccinated more than half of their total population, with the exception being South Dakota. …

      1. Skip Intro

        OTOH, if positive cases among the vaccinated are only counted when they are hospitalized, then there would seem to be a systematic reduction in case counts in highly-vaccinated populations due just to cooking the books, rather than a real decrease in transmission/infection.

        1. ambrit

          That seems to be the strategy. another reason to not trust anything coming from the “official” sources of medical “information” now.
          The “official” medical establishment is poisoning the well. Literally.

    2. petal

      I just got back from Walmart and Price Chopper(grocery store) in our area’s commercial district-had to get supplies for moving house this coming week. I’m in northern NH on the VT border. 99% of people in the stores, including staff, were not wearing a mask. It was as if nothing had ever happened. The stores were packed and busy. I fear what it’s going to look like around here in 2-3 weeks, let alone the rest of the country. It’s like watching a slow motion train wreck. I hope I’m wrong. On the way out there, CBS News came on the radio bashing people who aren’t vaccinated, laying all blame of increases on them, and strongly intimating vaccinated people are completely protected and can do no wrong-spoken by some young-sounding MD at Stanford I’ve never heard of. The MD was all “The CDC says…”.

      IM Doc, I want to thank you again for all of your input here. Seriously. Bless you. You’re a voice of reason and reality in all of this Twilight Zone insanity.

      1. rowlf

        Seeing as I can’t make sense of any of the conflicting reporting on the pandemic versus what I observe around me, I really appreciate IM Doc’s (and others) stepping outside to report what is actually happening instead of repeating the weather forecasts, so to speak. Hearing about past goat rodeos is a big deal too.

        I wonder what the vaccination rate of the CDC staff is?

      2. phoenix

        The messaging around the vaccine has been massively bungled like most of the Covid response (this is both administrations). It’s still better to be vaccinated than not. Too many people are interpreting any missteps in messaging as a reason to not get vaccinated or as a rationalization for an anti-vax viewpoint

    3. Daryl

      I just cancelled some travel because of this. Because Biden, Fauci & friends need vaccines to work, there is a dearth of information on what the consequences of covid are for a vaccinated individual. Every article I can find seems to tilt towards “no need to worry if you have a vaccine,” and mainly focuses on shaming people who have not gotten vaccinated. I care little about the immediate effects and am more concerned with the long term vascular and neurological consequences of getting infected.

      We’re a year and a half into this thing and we still understand so little about how it spreads and what it does in the human body.

  15. The Rev Kev

    Hilarious about that tweet of a woman protestor complaining how her grandfather was publicly executed live on TV back in 1959 when Castro took over – and it turned out that her grandfather had such a despicable history. As one person stated-

    Not something I’d brag about, having a grandfather who was executed for being a torturer and murderer.’

  16. Tom

    Solid reporting from the AZ Republic. Didn’t know this was a thing or that it could be so successful. Through lawsuits and political pressure this company (Ryan, LLC) tries to get states to refund taxes for their clients. The company is run by a GOP megadonor so politicians jump at he chance to help. They just make s#@t up and pressure people to give them refunds. Gov. Ducey was happy to facilitate to keep his POTUS dreams alive.

    From the article: that fuel should now be considered “equipment” — and therefore suddenly tax-free — might have seemed a stretch. But making unprecedented and creative demands is how Ryan LLC and its founder, G. Brint Ryan, make their money.

    Ryan, LLC operates in every state and all over the world and has a reported revenue of $500 million per year.

  17. Krystyn Podgajski

    RE: The Biggest Differences Between Now & The Housing Bubble

    The reason a bubble will pop is when the film that holds it together gets too thin. I think the author misses this point, that the thinness in the first bubble was lending to people who could not pay back. The thinness in this bubble is not enough housing, specifically affordable housing, and moderate (up till now) inflation and interest rates.

    How much more can they hold back the effect of inflation on mortgage rates? Am I right that rates usually rise during inflationary episodes? And shouldn’t the greater demand for housing raise interest rates?

    The 30 year fixed mortgage has done nothing but go down since 1981. When does it end? And if you have an interest rate at 2.8%, isnt that just signaling that you do not have enough people who can afford to buy a house? Isn’t that alone signalling something is wrong with the economy?

    When interest rates rise, does anyone think that a decline in housing permits will look good to an AI controlled stock market?

    Someone help me with this. I only managed to make it to my last semester as an economics major before I had to drop out of college after having a psychotic break, but something still seems wrong to me and I think the author is reasoning that since this bubble is not like the last there is no reason it will pop. But the very definition of a bubble indicates fragility.

    1. djrichard

      Don’t think of the mortgage rate as signaling anything about the housing market. The mortgage rate is pegged to the 10Y yield which as you’ve pointed out has dropped since 1981. It so happens that the 10Y yield correlates with the velocity of the MZM money supply. See I’m still not sure why that is, but I think that’s the key to understanding why the 10Y yield has done what it’s done. Of course, 1981 is when Volcker pulled out the rug from underneath labor by skyrocking the short term rates. And labor of course has been doing a dead cat bounce ever since. Now why that would drive the 10Y yield to correlate to the velocity of the MZM is still something I’m trying to figure out.

      Regarding pschotic break, that’s normal when the world (and our reality) is driven by psychopaths. See Best Regards.

    2. Taurus

      Krystyn –

      You are correct that ordinarily inflation would lead to higher interest rates – this happens if the markets are left to function as price discovery mechanisms.

      The central banks have acted forcefully to artificially suppress interest rates and this has become the norm now.

      The way it works in practice in the US, the Treasury issues bonds and the Federal Reserve buys them. The Fed can pay whatever price they want for it, thereby setting the yield at the desired level.

      This has been going on since Bernanke – so 14 years. I would not worry about a dramatic rise in interest rates.

      1. eg

        The central banks don’t “artificially suppress interest rates.” They set interest rates as a policy lever.

        In fact, the natural rate of interest for a fiat currency is zero, so far from suppressing rates, central banks have to defend any rate higher than zero.

        But I concur, Taurus, that a dramatic rise in interest rates is unlikely.

  18. Terry Flynn

    So Health Editor Sarah Boseley at the Guardian is retiring from the position. At least one commenter points out that despite the good reporting she did, her little mea culpa over MMR does not excuse the frankly execrable standards of science reporting at the time, which seemed to think that “boith sides deserve equal footage”. That is NOT how science works.

    Thanks to search engines, one can easily find examples like this, which Sarah can’t sweep under the carpet. I remember at the time how horrific the coverage was by all media, and especially the Guardian. Some commenters try to defend her by saying that if even the Lancet got taken in, then employing someone with an appropriate scientific qualification rather than humanities would not solve the problem. Errrrr, debunking such nonsense was being done routinely on the web back then by independent sites and scientists who don’t, unfortunately, have the Islington links, and I remember the fury I felt. Ben Goldacre, although not yet syndicated to the Guardian with his Bad Science column, had been running it for 2+ years before Sarah’s frankly dreadful comment piece. I still wonder why the column ended in 2011.

    I lived in Sydney 2009-2015 and remember seeing vaccination rates by postcode. I happened to live in the poshest postcode in Australia (renting!) and it, along with adjoining areas of “Guardian-types” had the lowest rates of MMR vaccination. I was horrified. I’m sorry Guardian, yes you did draw attention to some horrific global health issues but until you also take ownership for the standards of publication in medicine that has promoted and excerbated a sense of “we know better” among New Labour/Third Way types who consistently undervalue STEM education and buy your trashy publication that is no better than the Daily Mail when it comes to health, then I will never ever give you credit for such self-serving nonsense that promoted a worldwide rejection of science that future historians may judge rather harshly in terms of lives lost from COVID and vaccine-rejection compared to whatever good you did with AIDS etc.

  19. The Rev Kev

    “The top general of the US military: the coup will not succeed after Trump loses the election, we are the ones holding the gun”

    General Miley is a real American hero. No, seriously. Not only did he stop Trump overthrowing the US government in the Great Beer-Belly Putsch of ’21, but he also stopped Trump launching a war on Iran in spite of Netanyahu’s demands-

    And I am not sure but I think that he was also the one that took down the alien spaceship in “ID4”.

    1. Verifyfirst

      Was Miley the one who also said–“I have read Marx and Lenin, that does not make me a Communist” We are obliged to keep our minds open to all things, (paraphrase) he then went on to say.

      It was refreshing to hear someone high up say that. I cannot imagine a US politician who A) would admit to reading those authors, or B) would actually read those authors.

      And there is your problem…Chairman of the Joint Chiefs is most open-minded person in power??!! (I know, I know, it’s part of the West Point curriculum, but still…..

      1. Keith

        He was flashing his woke credentials. Despite shiny trinkets on their collars, generals and admirals are nothing more than glorified politicians.

        The left is more and more open to Marx and the socialist label, so not too surprising. It’s just not mainstream yet.

      2. Gareth

        It is important to put Milley’s quote in context with his other comments during the hearing.


        “I do think it’s important, actually, for those of us in uniform to be open-minded and be widely read, and the United States Military Academy is a university. And it is important that we train and we understand – and I want to understand White rage. And I’m White… So, what is it that caused thousands of people to assault this building and try to overturn the Constitution of the United States of America? What caused that? I want to find that out.”

        Followed by:

        “I’ve read Mao Zedong, I’ve read Karl Marx, I’ve read Lenin. That doesn’t make me a communist. So what is wrong with understanding? Having some situational understanding about the country for which we are here to defend? And I personally find it offensive that we are accusing the United States military – our general officers, our commissioned and noncommissioned officers – of being ‘woke’ because we’re studying some theories that are out there.”

        Additionally, the reporting about the interview in the book raises a question regarding the timeline. Why is Milley lobbying his fellow officers with Reichstag fire comparisons several days before the riot on 1/6? Wasn’t the official excuse for the lack of preparation that no one knew or ever believed that the planned protest would be violent? Did Milley have preliminary intelligence that he chose not to share? Or did he just have a “gut feeling” that required him to approach the Joint Chiefs to tell them that the US was about to experience a Reichstag-like event that would require them to be ready to disregard orders? What did he hear, and when did he hear it? Lastly, if he heard something that caused him to have misgivings, why didn’t he go immediately to Congress and the press? He certainly would have been received with open arms. Or is he making up a story to ingratiate himself with those currently in power?

        I cannot tell if he is “woke” or if he simply doesn’t let inconsistencies get in his way when sucking up to people. This is the same man who marched out into Lafayette Square in fatigues with Trump without a second thought about how that might look, if you can believe his apology afterwards.

        1. Skip Intro

          He might have got a tip about Trump staging a coup from NYT, WaPo, MSNBC, or many of the other TDS serial fantasist outlets that were hoping for some way to maintain readership and click levels, when they no longer had the Trump outrage du jour to flog.

        2. Darthbobber

          I have a copy of Mao’s “On Guerrilla War” translated by Sam Griffith of WWII Raiders fame. It’s a USMC Field Manual.

          1. Gareth

            I’m not sure if you sharing an interesting aside or if you think I take issue with cadets leaning about Mao. To be clear, I am fine with them learning what Mao had to say. My concerns relate to Milley’s character.

    2. Andrew Watts

      He was also reportedly in favor of assassinating Soleimani according to the book so let’s not idolize him.

    3. JTMcPhee

      Rev, was your post irony? It is so hard to tell these days.

      Maybe I missed the factual reporting establishing that Trump was plotting a coup. This ain’t it: And there’s quite a number of sarcastic articles over at Duffel Blog focusing on General Milley’s cluelessness. Milley and his fellow senior officers undermine democracy and facilitate coups all over the planet, and their role in the MIC is manifestly “undemocratic.”

      1. The Rev Kev

        I should make more use of the / sarc tag. General Patton said that you had two sorts of generals. The fighting generals and the “dancers and the prancers”. The way that Miley can turn his opinions on a dime makes me suspect that he must have taken ballet lessons when younger.

    4. Procopius

      I think this is being overhyped. Remember that Milley and the chiefs of staff do not command any troops, and they are not in the chain of command, so they cannot order the generals commanding the operational commands, who receive their orders directly from the Secretary of Defense and the President. Milley may have persuaded other officers to help him out — e.g. commander of the Military District of Washington, which commands the 3rd Infantry Regiment at Fort Meyer (Arlington Cemetery) and the Marines at Henderson Hall. I do not believe him when he says they would have resigned. Generals never resign, they retire, although they may present it as resigning. They aren’t about to give up a quarter of a million bucks a year over principle. When he says he was concerned that Trump would attempt a coup, I think he’s saying he didn’t trust some of the generals who have operational commands to refuse illegal orders. I also wonder if he knows about some contingency plans in the Pentagon for a coup, because the structure of the U.S. government makes it very difficult to conduct a successful coup, probably impossible. It is not going to be carried out by a half dozen generals and a dozen colonels.

      1. allan

        There is a qualitative difference between Joe Lieberman and Joe Manchin.
        During the 111th Congress, the Dems had a majority in the Senate that fluctuated between 56 and 58.
        So, Obama (and Reid) could have brought Joe L. in for a chat to explain the facts of life to him.
        Obama didn’t, which will forever be part of Obama’s legacy.

        During the current Congress, with the 50-50 split in the Senate,
        Biden (and Schumer) need Manchin more than he needs them.
        There’s really nothing (legal) they can do to him.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          This only applies if you think the average Trump voter will take Manchin. Its so far fetched that we don’t even get warnings about Manchin caucusing with the other party because everyone knows the GOP sees 2022 as a chance to do it without Manchin.

          As far as Lieberman, Reid was set to throw him out of the caucus and strip him of his committees. Obama explained the facts of life to Reid. The President wields power.

      2. The Rev Kev

        ‘How could a Democrat be raising money with fascists?

        How about how can you have a major Democrat campaign for a Republican against a Democrat. Because that was what Joe Biden did once which gave him a $200,00 payday. They should have kicked him out of the party then but never did and so we now have President Biden.

  20. The Rev Kev

    I will have people here know that Australia has a severe quarantine regime which is so harsh, that tens of thousands of Australians are stuck overseas and are unable to return. Nobody can just come into the country except for a very important reason. Well, except for people like Caitlyn Jenner-

    And of course Katie Hopkins-

    Excuse me while I go bang my head on my keyboard.

    1. Tom Stone

      Rev, some pigs are more equal than others.
      Nothing new except the size of the sounder.

    2. Maritimer

      In my jurisdiction, still under Emergency, the Dear Medical Leader recently admitted during a Covid Dogn’Pony Show that he has a Committee of Covid Mandate Exceptions/Exemptions. Of course, no questions about this from the horse’sass media chomping the PR hay.

      Also, DML revealed that a local Dentist had traveled to Mt. Everest in Nepal and climbed it during the worst of the pandemic here. This trip had been deemed “essential”.

    3. Robert

      Having just returned from a visit to Australia, I was puzzled by all the reporting of people unable to return. All I had to do is book a flight and then pay $3,000 for quarantine. The flight I took was selling seats right up to an hour before boarding.

      The Australian Government is putting on occasional flights that they email you about if your register with them, and I suspect people are thinking that this is the only way in. I returned the day before they halved the number of people being allowed in, so the availability situation might have changed.

      I flew with Etihad who will only sell directly to ensure they have a quota spot for every ticket (I initially brought it through last, only to find out on arrival in Milan that the flights to Abu Dhabi and Melbourne had not been bought! Hence I know they’re were selling seats right up to the last minute, as I bought one of them and their website indicated there were three).

  21. Paradan


    So while pacing around and talking to myself I came up with this:

    Science is the art of using mathematics to describe reality.
    Economics is the art of using mathematics to shape reality.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Better I think to add one small word to you last formula:
      Economics is the art of using mathematics to shape [a] reality.

      That was it is clear that economics does not shape an actual reality like the reality Science uses mathematics to describe.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > using mathematics

      I would make a friendly amendment: “using notations that appear mathematical.” From iNet:

      “Economics pretends to be mathematics, but it is not mathematics,” he says. “There is a major difference. No mathematician uses a term in a formula, or a statement of a theorem, unless that term has first been defined with excruciating precision.”

      And while economists may think they’ve defined terms like “aggregate demand” or “economic growth,” Edesess suggests they talk to a mathematician. “Economists may think they’ve defined them, but they should try reading some real mathematics to see what a precise definition truly is,” he says. “The economists, I think, leave the work of definition to be inferred from the way the terms are used in the formulas. This, to me, is weird.”

      1. Terry Flynn

        Indeed. A crucial concept that I think would help the MMT people is getting people to understand the difference between “equal to” and “identically equal to”. The latter is the “three bar” sign and signifiies something is in some sense “always true” or “true by definition”. Thus a balance sheet has debits identically equal to credits because it must! A balance sheet must balance else it is not a balance sheet! Similarly when you scale up to national income accounting and the national debt.

        The national debt must equal the national credit. MMT experts correct me if I’m wrong. Basic “equals to” might be disproved depending on the theory. “Identically equals to” cannot since it is true by definition. If you “disprove it” you’ve by definition changed definitions and must acknowledge this.

        1. Anonymous 2

          Not sure what you mean by national credit. The national debt is usually considered to be the debt of the central government of a country. This can be held by creditors who are foreign as well as domestic investors, so in that sense there is no need for a ‘national credit’ to equal the national debt if the term means ‘credit extended to the central government of a country by its domestic investors’.

          One can of course spend many happy hours scrutinising all sorts of related measurements – e.g. public sector debt owed by entities outwith the central government (e.g. provincial governments?).

          Not that I am one much exercised by the size of national debts in general. Too much mischief has been done by those arguing that government debt is like household debt and therefore one needs to plan for its repayment.

          1. Procopius

            Too much mischief has been done by those arguing that government debt is like household debt and therefore one needs to plan for its repayment.

            Yes. The National Debt of Great Britain has not been paid off since the time of William of Orange. I can’t remember where I read it, but there have been five times when the National Debt of the United States was seriously paid down, and all except the last (Clinton) were followed by very severe depressions. The Clinton Recession (took place under Bush) was not that severe, for some reason. It’s important to remember that the “national debt” is a very large component of the nation’s money supply.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              The influx of defense spending that followed 9/11 was enormous. We certainly lost Keynesian multipliers, but it saved the Virginia budget. Mark Warner would simply be a failed governor who shut down a bunch of state offices and raised taxes and fees after supporting a budget cooked up by two republicans and a Democrat the caucus played weekend at Bernies with. The housing market goosing kept it from exploding until a few years later.

      2. Mikel

        “. ..unless that term has first been defined with excruciating precision.”

        A term like “inflation” comes to mind.

    3. Susan the other

      Lars Syll’s view of deductivism fits in nicely with Ritholz and Hiltzig today. The president’s council on competition would agree – because monopolistic practices use their best deductive analysis of their advantage and then proceed to kill the competition. Creating a miserable society at best. I was surprised to read (Ritholz) that one Brian Deese was into sustainable investment practices when he worked for Blackrock. Now there’s one to parse: “sustainable investment” – it’s more iffy than it sounds according to Syll. The whole effort to end monopolistic practices is an excellent idea because it takes an otherwise intractable problem of power creating power and breaks it down – ha! But it looks like it will work. Fighting fire with fire. I’m glad this ‘competition council’ is focused on the medical industrial complex (finally) as well as the platform industrial complex.

    4. skippy

      Couple of things here – the maths is just symbology wrt whatever axioms [synthetic a priori] the orthodox economist is trying to model, furthermore in doing so they transfer metaphors from maths and physics to the subject matter aka humans …

      1. eg

        And all the normative judgements are carefully hidden in their unexamined assumptions in order to better swindle the marks.

    5. Glen

      I view “political economics” as a more accurate term for economics:

      Political economy

      The “science” of economics is almost always used to push a political agenda wrapped in the BS of TINA.

      We are lucky here to have found a place with people who provide a more thorough, thoughtful, and truthful analysis.

      Quite frankly, if engineering was like the “science” of economics, airplanes would fall out of the sky every day, houses would collapse on a regular basis, and the power grid would normally be broken rather than lighting your house.

      But we have let these clowns rather literally design our world’s economy for the last forty or more years. Is it any wonder that our economy seems to be failing us?

      1. eg

        Precisely. The original term, political economy, is the correct one. The neoclassicals renamed their project to absolve themselves of any connection to the social sciences from which political economy springs.

        Orthodox economics is a “science” in the same way the Laputans in “Gulliver’s Travels” is a science — building houses from the roof down and attempting to reconstitute sunlight from cucumbers.

  22. Brian Beijer

    When Walensky burbles: “[T]he science demonstrates that if you are fully vaccinated, you are protected,” people can see with their own eyes that what Walensky says is not true, because even if you assume that breakthrough cases are insignificant in percentage terms, this is an enormous country, and the absolute numbers can be quite large.

    Because the absolute highest priority is that the social and economic system goes back to BAU immediately. Regardless of which Western neo-liberal country you find yourself in. It does not matter how many of serfs’ lives are lost nor the long-term consequences such as lost of trust in authority. Considering the relatively consistent approach that has been taken by most Western governments (US, England, France, Ireland, Sweden, etc.), I wouldn’t be surprised to find that this was a policy set at some G7 or Davos meeting in the spring.

      1. Brian Beijer

        Behavoiral Analysts Unit?

        Lol. No, Building the Aristocracy Unicorns. I thought everyone knew that abbreviation! ;)

  23. The Rev Kev

    “Ford made a premium gas fragrance for EV owners who miss the smell of fossil fuels”

    I have to admit that this article made me slightly uncomfortable. I should say first that what Americans call ‘gas’, we call ‘petrol’ in Oz. So this whole idea of being able to keep smelling gas fumes even if you drive an EV does not seem that great an idea. For a long time, petrol sniffing was a major problem in Aboriginal communities here in Oz until they brought out “non-sniffable” petrol. I wonder if the same could happen with these gas fragrances-

    1. Basil Pesto

      For a long time I’ve been accustomed to the idea that if you can smell petrol in the car, you have a potentially serious problem. I guess there’s nothing to be actually concerned about, but who’s nostalgic for an odour they shouldn’t be smelling in the first place? You’d think they’d miss the sounds more.

      1. RMO

        I like the aroma of 100LL Avgas but the idea of paying to have a simulation of it wafting around inside a car I’m driving strikes me as idiotic.

        (Of course despite kind of liking the Avgas smell I don’t go around snorting the fumes deliberately and do whatever is practical to avoid them)

        Basil Pesto: Don’t worry about the sounds, they’re working on them. Nowadays quite a few internal combustion engine cars have synthetic engine sound of some sort piped in to the interior too.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Gotta admit that I was partial to the smell of avgas at airports for some reason but no, I wouldn’t pay for it either.

        2. Basil Pesto

          yes I’m aware, especially in hot hatches which I’m partial to. I mean, it’s contrived enough on those, but in an EV it would just be silly. Like driving a golf cart with F1 sounds pumped out of a bluetooth speaker.

  24. Andrew Watts

    RE: ‘The Steele Dossier Was a Case Study in How Reporters Get Manipulated’

    The media were willing handmaidens that took the Steele Dossier at face value because they wanted it to be true. Furthermore, it demonstrated how out of touch journalists are with the lives of ordinary Americans with their constant obsession with Russiagate. Their primary audience caters to a ever shrinking class of older and affluent Americans at any rate.

    Anybody who read the dossier and has a basic understanding of intelligence and propaganda didn’t buy it. It might sound weird to say, but we should all be disappointed in the FBI. Steele might’ve assisted the FBI with their investigation into the FIFA scandal, but they’re the last people who should be trusting of a friendly intelligence agency or a former intelligence officer. Hoover distrusted the CIA so much back in the day he infiltrated former FBI agents into it and cultivated assets among it’s ranks.

    Then again, American counter-intelligence might’ve always been a joke.

  25. Count Zero


    This looks like good news initially. But maybe it’s not. Instead of being accountable to at least some kind of local representative organisation, however reactionary on some issues, the Conservative party floats free of any local roots. Now it’s supporters — and it’s lord and masters — are global corporations.

    Increasingly the British state is not some kind of representation, however partial, of British society — a protective shield for its population. Now it is the opposite — a foreign body managing the population in the interests of global capital. Britain like everywhere else is becoming a new kind of colony. Brexit was a vain and misguided attempt to restore power to the nation state.

    1. Phillip Cross

      The problem with England is not that the Conservatives are unrepresentative of the electorate, it is that they are.

      At least 1 in 3 are simply more interested in personal enrichment than any other issue. I don’t know if its racism, as much as it is greed. Government spending on policies that benefit someone else means less money for them, and so must be cut…

  26. Andrew Watts

    RE: Historian Heather Cox Richardson: ‘Now people see what’s happening. Thank God!’

    Using American history alone to understand contemporary affairs seems to have as much depth as a puddle. It’d be the equivalent of studying military history and only reading about World War II battles. But I haven’t read anything by the author so I’m withholding judgment.

    The overriding reason why I’m incapable of being optimistic about the future is the lack of affinity Americans have with history and to prior generations. The ongoing membership in pseudo-aristocratic organizations seems more like vanity-by-proxy rather than any mimetic process. The breakdown in mimesis guarantees that nothing will be learned from the past. Furthermore, any misfortune, defeat, or disgrace suffered will be stricken with a finality that is beyond redemption. We’re already seeing this with younger generations proving incapable of reconciling the less then respectable parts of America’s past history because they’re haunted by it in the present. This is just as much a failure of the intelligentsia as anybody else.

    Most contemporary historians are relegated to the role of idolizing the past or condemning it outright. These factors ensures that present generations are capable of allowing America to fall into complete ruin.

    1. Jason

      Thank you for this. I agree with you.

      From the article:

      …Some, however, pay $5 a month for the privilege of commenting beneath her posts, which has made Richardson into one of the most successful writers on the newsletter platform Substack. The New York Times estimates that she earns more than $1m a year from it, which is not bad for a New England history professor.


      “I feel very much indebted, not for the money, although that’s lovely, but for the appreciation.”

      I suggest tentatively that monthly cheques of this magnitude would make it a difficult habit to drop.

      “What do I need money for where I live?” Richardson says. “Do you know how much work a 40ft yacht is? I have a 14ft kayak. If something happens to it, I use duct tape. My letters began organically and they will die organically.

      Hmmm. I suggest that the FT writer’s suggestion wasn’t ever seriously considered by her. She’s confused but doesn’t even know she is.

      Good luck America.

        1. Andrew Watts

          I suppose money is it’s own form of validation. The bigger the amount the more valid you are.

    2. DJG, Reality Czar

      Andrew Watts and Jason: Thanks for reading the article by Heather Cox Richardson so that I don’t have to. (Also, FT locked me out.) I find that HCR is a regime historian, and she seems to be a particular favorite of upper-middle-class women, who pass her weekly e-blasts around with great reverence. Her Trump derangement syndrome carried her along, and the patriotic gore that she spewed about Vindman and the first impeachment wasn’t pretty. (No matter what one thinks of Trump.)

      Yet I also recall one of HCR’s e-blasts from last fall, when it was more than obvious that she was fronting for the CIA and FBI. She even had a rather servile comment about how Gina Haspel is a serious person.

      This is typical of her tone last fall:

      So: I’m not sure what HCR’s game is, yet I know that she is not objective.

      1. enoughisenough

        My friends love her, but I find her pointless. Maybe her actual books are good, but her substack commentary on current events is worthless. And tedious.

        She’s just regurgitating PMC Dem party line, but somehow performing it like it’s analysis.

        I find it ludicrous, and don’t know what people see in her “work”. Basically summaries of summaries, book-report style, never questioning anything. Stenography. Her being a historian is almost irrelevant to any of her current events posts.

        It’s for Sorkin fans with West Wing Brain.

        1. enoughisenough

          oh shoot, the editing function didn’t pick up my edits.

          I meant to also say that her being a historian doesn’t add much to anything she ever says, it’s just a litany of additional factoids, a la Aaron Sorkin writing.

          Her appeal is a mystery to me, because I don’t feel it, but analytically I can see it flatters the vanity of PMC types with West Wing Brain. Doesn’t challenge anything, has a veneer of being “smart” without actually being intellectually engaging.

          1. enoughisenough

            sorry, everyone, am laughing at myself for being so bad at this website. Apparently the edits *had* appeared after all.

            Apologies for the repetition.

            backing away now…

      2. Andrew Watts

        You’re probably right about her status as a court historian. I don’t see how she’s using her knowledge of American history to provide any insight from what little I gleamed from her substack. There isn’t a lack of material for contemporary topics either. The connection between Qanon and anti-Catholic / Masonic sentiment in the domestic forces that made up the Know-Nothing party for instance.

    3. Carolinian

      Some blame can go to the way history is taught which is very boring because so much of it is dog bites man. King X made war against King Y, rinse and repeat. A big picture approach to history would be a lot more interesting but also more controversial as ideology would become a subject. Obviously you can’t learn from history if you are going to avoid judging past mistakes that are so similar to our own.

      But then the question becomes what is a mistake and what isn’t. And so public school systems opt to simply present the facts and letting students sort out the conclusions on their own. And perhaps this is best, if boring.

      There’s a conceit in some quarters that everything people know must be taught in school. Given the existence of the internet this was never less true.

      1. Andrew Watts

        History is merely the stories, and ideally the lessons, we pass on. It doesn’t even have to be true much less a matter of ideology. That said, it’s approached in American history as a civic religion or morality tale where ideology is a factor in deciding all that is good and just. As if being worked to death for 12-18 hours a day in a northern factory was any better than being a slave on a southern plantation.

        I view the controversy around what is taught in schools as a proxy struggle under a political system where all the major questions of political economy are settled and not open to debate. Which admittedly sounds better then calling it the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.

        “There’s a conceit in some quarters that everything people know must be taught in school.”

        By intellectuals and people whose profession depends on it no doubt. I’m skeptical that most Americans would be open to my interpretation and re-telling of the exploits of George Washington. Washington, the founder of our country, was an admitted war criminal who helped kickstart the Seven Years War. In spite of his denials later on in his life, Washington admitted to being a war criminal in a signed confession that used the word ‘massacre’ which means the exact same thing in English that it does in French. The War itself was a struggle between France and Britain that decided the control of the world at the time, but specifically the territory of Ohio.

        1. Carolinian

          Just to be clear I love history and it’s practically the only thing I read. Fiction, a long ago passion, no longer holds much interest.

          And of course schools are all about indoctrination. One article said the whole idea was to teach kids to show up on time at their future factory jobs (back when we had factories). But surely the old rah rah patriotic indoctrination was at least more true than 1619. Parents have a right to object.

        2. eg

          I’m reminded of the waggish yet painfully true observation about the Seven Years War: “Who lost the Seven Years War between the French and the British? The Indigenous …”

    4. Jeremy Grimm

      I cannot read the article without more gymnastics around the paywall than I care to attempt. I would like to disagree with your comment … somewhat. I was very fortunate to spend many weekends with my grandparents. After dinner I helped my Grandma by drying as she washed dishes. She told me stories as she washed. My Grandpa sat at the dining table with his coffee and waited for dessert until we were done. While Grandma finished washing and stacking dessert plates to dry — for me to put away later — I sat and listened to my Grandpa tell stories about his youth and the times he lived. I know why my Grandma eats so many ‘tastes’ of whatever she is cooking. I know why I stack cups, and glasses face down in the cupboards. I know why my Grandma saved jars, newspapers, and magazines, and why she made her own lye soap from the bacon grease she carefully saved. I know why my Grandma on the other side of my family had nothing good to say about Orientals — they were all Japanese to her. My Grandfather had survived the sinking of two destroyers he served on in the Second World War. In one sinking he had been one of only two survivors. I can only imagine how worried she was.

      I remember watching war footage on television from the Vietnam War, and the very different footage we were allowed to see from our endless wars in the Middle East. I remember my Mother’s strange idea that being drafted and sent to Vietnam would have helped fashion me into a ‘real’ man. I only avoided helping rice grow tall in a rice paddy somewhere in Vietnam, Cambodia, or Laos, thanks to drawing a high draft number in the first draft lottery — but only barely high enough. I remember Watergate, and Irangate. I remember all the promises made with NAFTA, and how they turned out.

      I remember a history that does not show up in history studies, and I have done everything I can to pass on my memory of history to my children. As you suggest in your comment, there is a certain “lack of affinity Americans have with history and to prior generations ….” But as my children have experienced life as adults living in this country, their experiences lead them to echo more and more of the flavor and content of my memories, and sometimes they even ask me questions.

      1. Andrew Watts

        Personal ancedotes pale in comparison to the collective experience of generations. That’s coming from a person who thinks of his generation (millennial) as a lost generation in every sense of the word.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          We live in an age of lost generations. The anecdotes I told were stories of small survival skills that might help get through hard times, or stories of some of the impacts of events and conditions that are lost in an abstraction like history. We can and do learn small things from the small histories of our shared lives.

  27. Wukchumni

    Just a few days before opening ceremonies in Tokyo and all the buzz is about a new current event, the competitive minting of Bitcoins.

    The Chinese team used to dominate, but look out for plucky Mongolia as a dark horse, and never count out energy rich Iceland, they’ll eventually tire of making aluminum with all that geothermal goodness going on, and do the right thing.

  28. antidlc

    Re: Biden takes aim at the multitude of ways that businesses can make your life miserable

    Biden’s crackdown on monopolies gave a pass to health insurers when they should have been the focus.

    There were no health insurers on the Fortune Top 10 list in 2008. In 2021, there are 2.

    President Biden has gotten a lot of mostly good press for his latest executive order, which, among other things, calls for more scrutiny of hospital mergers and acquisitions and efforts to lower the cost of prescription drugs and hearing aids. That’s worthy, but notably missing from the news coverage was whether health insurers, which have consolidated at a rapid pace since the Affordable Care Act was passed, will be subject to the same level of scrutiny.
    My former colleagues in the insurance business undoubtedly breathed a sigh of relief after seeing the brief mention of health insurance in the July 9 White House fact sheet about Biden’s executive order. While it noted that “consolidation in the health insurance industry has meant that many consumers have little choice when it comes to selecting insurers,” the only remedy Biden apparently is considering is having the Department of Health and Human Services “standardize plan options in the National Health Insurance (Obamacare) Marketplace so people can comparison shop more easily.”

    That’s not even in the category of a slap on the wrist when you consider that it would benefit only the small sliver of the American population that buys coverage through the Obamacare “marketplace.” And most of the big insurance companies don’t even sell policies in that marketplace.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Thanks for the link. I added it to my Bookmarks. I am skeptical that Biden’s Council on Competition will do much to slow or control the consolidation of US Business. I doubt Biden’s intent, and question the ability of his administration to execute a “crackdown on monopolies”. Hasn’t the Fed done its part recently, to fill Corporate war-chests?

    1. Phillip Cross

      Would it surprise anyone?

      From the start I have said ‘maybe it works, but the massive online astrotuft campaign, amplified by so many shady characters gives me doubts as to whether “public health” is the real agenda’.

      1. Basil Pesto

        I too find those of the loud like-and-subscribe righteous self-appointed truthteller archetype to be inherently suspect. This is why I like John Campbell; he just gets on with it, with appropriate circumspection when it comes to what he does and doesn’t know.

        1. Phillip Cross

          Dear old Doctor John. He really jumped the shark! I stopped watching after he had Tess Lawrie on. He seemed so credulous, I expected a more reserved response, and some educated pushback, from a scientist.

          Has he had “Doctor” Been on yet?

          What about that Canadian Dr Jack Hoffe that’s been doing the rounds saying mRNA is going to kill everyone with micro clots.

          1. Basil Pesto

            I didn’t check in when he had the IVM guests like Tess Lawrie and Kory on, so I can’t speak to that. I still check his yt channel every now and then for updates and round-ups, esp since delta, and it seems fine. He’s not kneejerk anti-vax and does seem to support a multi-modal response to the virus.

            1. Anonymous 2

              Latest with Dr John Campbell and Ivermectin is that he has been calling on the UK Government to express a view, which they have not done. Does not seem a very extreme position to me.

              There does seem to be widespread agreement that it is very unsatisfactory that over eighteen months into the pandemic no major players have carried out large scale tests of existing medications to see if any may benefit patients.

              1. Acacia

                Agreed. Very unsatisfactory.

                It looks like it’s just going to take longer to get the research done. Looking ahead, Kowa pharmaceutical in Japan is going to conduct a trial (press release, in Japanese), under the supervision of the biochemist Ōmura Satoshi, co-inventor of Ivermectin.

                Whether the Japanese government will take a stance on this is unknown, but given the incompetence of the ruling party and their client-state relationship with the US (and by extension Big Pharma, presumably), it’s difficult to feel very hopeful about that.

            2. Kevin Carhart

              It isn’t fine. Too bad, because I first read about him here in comments. He’s appalling since Javid. He no longer cares about case prevalence in spite of the relationship to variants. In the lead-up to July 19th he hasn’t mentioned new variants at all, while Dr. Gurdasani, Pagel and others have it as one of their top concerns about prevalence. Independent SAGE, the 1200 Lancet signatories and Richard Murphy are calling out Monday as insane and criminal, yet Campbell is credulous, as Phillip said, about the thought-terminating cliches and formulations from the government. He’s credulous about results posted to preprints. He seems to have a thing about a WW2 conception of the UK during the blitz or whatnot, and that kind of historically-frozen “national greatness” conservatism.

              He talks about Vitamin D in a way that is painfully obvious as one component of a public-private seesaw between his channel and a little monetization sideline or startup. He makes Vitamin D part of his branding. He’s a creature of the youtube imperatives like Pewdiepie or Peterson, just with older, sober-minded demographics, and the corrosion works on him as it does on them. He can be turned into a dancing bear by the algorithms just like in all youtuber stories.

              1. Basil Pesto

                Thanks for your input.

                I’m not sure about credulous, I skimmed his video on the policy “the UK experiment” and he’s almost comically equivocal. He also hosts a video on the debate, and concludes “well, I think I’m convinced, I think this excessive opening up is probably not the best thing to do and I think the arguments put forward by this paper (in the Lancet against the UK Gov’t’s plan) are pretty convincing”. Are you perhaps thinking of a different John Campbell?

                Your last paragraph is interesting and sadly plausible, but on the other hand, Vitamin D is actually helpful and in his latest video, he talks about getting his Vitamin D in the garden so if he’s a stealth shill, he’s not a very good one. (and yes, his toy dog is called Winston, but what do you expect from an Englishment of his age living through nationally testing times)

                Like, I hope it doesn’t seem like I’m a fanboi because I’m just not, but I’ll need to see something more convincing than you or Mr Cross have yet provided for me to take the baby+bathwater approach that you seem to have taken with him in terms of discounting him as a source (singular) of Covid information.

                1. Kevin Carhart

                  He said he was convinced and then a few days later said perhaps “the government is right and the Lancet group is overcautious.” Not all forms of dispassionately weighing multiple possibilities are morally coherent.

                  Variants and long covid are two alarming outcomes from high prevalence even if it’s true that the cases themselves tend to be less bad for vaccinated people. Yes, he ran The Citizens but just for one day, followed by another 7-8 days where he hasn’t. If he ‘s convinced, why has he wasted the subsequent time? The doctors and PhDs from the independent sage/Citizens orbit like Gurdasani, Yates, Pagel, Haque, Michie, Scally, Roberts are pouring their lives into hammering for sanity on a daily basis, passionately, and Campbell ran them once as part of even-handedness?

                  There was another massive meeting on Friday with the international outcry – New Zealand, Israel, Italy, alarmed. So run that too if you have a megaphone!

                  The Italian government adviser called the Javid plans for the 19th “diabolical”. It isn’t just one point of view among several, Johnson/Javid are engaging in callous indifference. I’m American but if they trip a new variant then it’s a global issue and a lot of people are saying this. Diabolical, murderous. Murphy described Whitty failing to say anything about “murderous policies.” Dr. Gurdasani just said “Hundreds of thousands will end up with chronic illness, and thousands with long-term disability.”

                  If you’d like to know what else, a couple of times in recent days, Campbell has done the series of gestures, pointing at his head, nose, referring to what he calls the new symptoms. He said words to the effect of “it’s more like a cold, right?” First of all, it’s my understanding that the range of symptoms is broader and he is just highlighting the ones that allow him to tee up the idea that getting covid or not getting covid has become less important which as I said, means you’re taking the government’s formulations, downplaying Long Covid and variants.

                  Vitamin D: He could get it from his garden. He could still be identifying his viewers to the Youtube advertising apparatus as a group of people who are amenable to health-products advertisements, and benefitting because of it. The phenomenon of people acting as the “entrepreneurial self”, commercialized to the gills yet perceived as a source of information that is equally valid to someone who quaintly, nobly eschews the commercialization, is a societal problem even when the substance of what they shill for may be useful in its own right.
                  Glenn Beck and gold. Steve Bannon and some sort of prepper who knows what. Alex Jones and bug out bags, MTE, geiger counters. Ray Kurzweil and Ray’n’Terry’s supplements store. Weinstein and Ivermectin. There was a strange journalist named Fintan Dunne who went on about Neem. It happens so many times. Why? Campbell didn’t create the system but he just happens to have a piece of new-age or alternative health ready to go.
                  The nationalist thing: Yes, but it seeps in to his attitudes. The substance and the form are not separated by a wall.

                  1. Basil Pesto

                    Vitamin D is new-age and alternative?

                    The problem you describe is a real one, but I just don’t buy it in this case, anymore than I would if someone suggested he was in cahoots with Big Mask, which, like Vitamin D, does work and people should (and have) been made aware that it does work. He possibly sees his advocacy, as a former NHS man, as an act of public health? My remark about the toy dog was flippant; I don’t presume to know his politics and I don’t really care, because there’s little to no suggestion to me that he is politically motivated or tendentious in his analysis.

                    I only check in maybe once a week at the moment (I didn’t for many months late 2020/early 2021), but I do not agree with your conclusion that his reporting of how delta infected present with symptoms supports the notion that he no longer thinks covid is important.

                    I don’t have the energy at the moment to go through your other points – maybe you’re right on some of them, I just don’t care enough to try and rebut them – so I’ll just say that I remain unconvinced and will continue to use him as a source, and will continue to think of him as One Of The Good Guys until he’s egregiously and stubbornly wrong about something or there’s evidence that he operates in bad faith.

                    1. Kevin Carhart

                      He’s egregiously wrong in shrugging politely towards policies Independent Sage/Lancet group/The Citizens thinks are a recipe for variants and long covid. How many signatories would be dispositive just like that? 12,000?

                      I didn’t say he no longer thinks covid is important. He is willing to entertain the Tories’ dangerous theory that tearing through high case prevalence is acceptable once each case is less dangerous. Independent Sage has been saying this is wrong over and over and over.
                      Campbell knows this is what the government is doing and was anxious on the first couple of days of Javid when he said “it appears they are using a herd immunity strategy.” But he doesn’t then come out against it forcefully? Is he just “providing a forum” like Jerry Springer or UK or AUS equivalent?

                      You quoted the word “convinced.” He’s convinced by Alice, Trish and the others on the The Citizens/Lancet video. Shouldn’t being convinced mean a cessation of something else? If not, where is the credibility? If you say you’re convinced and then follow it with several days not taking a position on herd immunity by infection, you are just a traffic machine looking “politically” and cynically at maintenance of subscriber base. And it isn’t peripheral, it feeds back on the quality of the work itself. It’s irresponsible to be even-handed towards Johnson/Javid. The politics is relevant because part of the union-jack/empire fixation is loyalty.
                      He could easily have a golden handcuff off-camera because of the newfound popularity. He “stages” things in his own house, in the youtuber style, so that they will be picked up in the camera frame.
                      Beware things that stay the same on the outside with a common marquee, dumb down or violate their own former redlines on the inside, and aren’t candid about the progression. Like a business under new management. This is relevant to the quality of the work! It’s quicksand. I think this YT volatility is showing up in his inability to deplore what the 1200 signatories are deploring.

                      Of course supplements are alternative health. Go to a GNC-like supplements store. You’ll see Vitamin D, homeopathic tablets, St. John’s Wort. A lot of it trades on unfalsifiability and placebo effects. It “does work” and also happens to be uncheckable when his 1M people report “I had a headache, took some _____ and felt much better.” A lot of it takes advantage of the tryptophan principle, where something you can get from a natural source cannot be regulated.

                    2. Kevin Carhart

                      A Javid variant + air travel hurts everyone. The blithe are endangering lives. That’s why I am breaking etiquette as well as “having the energy” to insist. A Javid variant could kill like ebola. We don’t know.

                    3. Basil Pesto

                      you’re right, sorry, I was careless. I meant to write:

                      but I do not agree with your conclusion that his reporting of how delta infected present with symptoms supports the notion that he thinks covid is less important.

                      Watching a recent clip, he’s positive about cases going down atm but wouldn’t be surprised if they start to increase back up to 50-60,000. He doesn’t know if they’ll go up to 100,000, but entertains the possibility that they might. This does not fall under my personal definition of being stubbornly and egregiously wrong about something.

                      Again, not a super regular viewer, but I haven’t seen much evidence of him holding the government in high regard in the past 18 months. Maybe you’re not used to British understatement?

                      I think your argument about him being a cynical algo monster is somewhat undermined by your distaste for him not hammering the tories, because then his videos would become “Watch Dr John Campbell DESTROY Boris Johnson” etc and so on. Quite amusingly, this is perhaps the first ever instance I’ve seen of the suggestion that someone not taking a sufficiently strident position on something makes them a cynical internet traffic machine. As it stands, I don’t really need an OAP with an allotment to get forcefully and repetitiously angry in order to understand that 1. getting rid of restrictions on July 19 in one fell swoop is extremely reckless and risky, and 2. that the tories are shit. So I’ll continue to watch now and then, and remain unpersuaded by your arguments, which I increasingly find a bit silly.

                      (Vitamin D occurs naturally in the human body through a chemical reaction catalysed by sunlight, and in some foods that we eat. Hence, the garden recommendation. You must know this. There has been abundant clinical evidence of its benefits with regards to Covid-19).

      2. Cuibono

        Shady characters? Like Peter McCullough? Paul Marik? Some of the most published doctors in their respective fields?
        Or here, IM Doc?

        1. Phillip Cross

          Appeal to authority?

          For a long time on Twitter, if a post has any mention of Ivermectin, then an absolute swarm of bots would start replying about how great it was. it did not seem in the least bit organic.

          If you clicked through to see their profile and other posts, they all seemed very interested in exclusively following and retweeting the usual rogues gallery of covid denialists usually rejecting masks and other public health measures. Sikora, Berenson, ethical skeptic, Ivor Cummings, natural news, RFK Jr, smiley face avatars etc etc

    2. TalkingCargo

      Is Ivermectin for Covid-19 Based on Fraudulent Research?
      A tale of what could be, if true, the most consequential medical fraud ever committed

      For someone who claims to be a dispassionate, disinterested observer this sure reads like a hit piece. The drug she describes as “pretty safe” has also been described as safer than Tylenol so I don’t see how “consequential” it is if doctors give it to patients. If it doesn’t work, no harm done. Personally, I’m content to wait for more data.

      In any case, when this is all over I think there might be some strong competitors for “most consequential medical fraud ever committed.”

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        Safer than Tylenol? Tylenol is not especially safe. In large doses — easier to get than you might think since it is included in so many over-the-counter cold remedies, Tylenol can cause serious liver damage. It is not at all safe to have around children.

        1. urblintz

          …and apparently ivermectin is safer than that. Is there a problem with saying so? In large doses, water can kill you.

        2. Pat

          Wouldn’t that right there indicate that there are “medical frauds” which are significantly More consequential than ivermectin. Tylenol, remdesivir, OxyContin all will have greater damage and much larger costs to the health and pocketbooks of Americans.

        3. TalkingCargo

          My apologies, I stand corrected. Still, from what I’ve read the drug mentioned in the article is one of the safest out there. But do I have that wrong too?

          1. Jeremy Grimm

            Not from what I have seen.

            I only questioned whether Tylenol was all that safe. Ivermectin seems far safer from what I have read, and certainly no more dangerous.

  29. DJG, Reality Czar

    Why Italian green cauliflower is a treat for the eye and an insight into nature.

    The article is interesting and has some great photos. If you would like more information, there is a jauntily written book, The Golden Ratio, by Marco Livio. It was published about twenty years ago, but you can find it in used-book shops. I found mine in one of the Little Libraries in my neighborhood and rescued it from the elements.

    Livio stresses the Golden Ratio because it has been discussed for so long as a way of explaining artistic composition. The Golden Ratio doesn’t quite do so, but the history is interesting. Natch, Livio brings in the Fibonacci Sequence, which is everywhere and also is intuitively obvious.

    And Fibonacci also popularized the use of Hindu-Arabic numerals in Italy (which was the leading trading nation at the time, especially in the northern Mediterranean). It’s hard to multiply with Roman numerals: IV times XXV equals what?

  30. David

    In case you hadn’t realised what the violence in South Africa is all about, the IOL story will enlighten you. It’s an attempt at a near coup d’état. Not only is Zuma’s release demanded, after he was finally convicted on corruption charges, but in addition the government is required to do things like nationalising the mines and the SA Reserve Bank, setting up black-owned banks, confiscating white-owned land and lifting the current Covid lockdown. Until then, the violence will continue. And these demands are not coming from just anyone, they are coming from within the ruling ANC itself.

    This may be the moment when the ANC finally breaks up. It’s the moment of truth in a conflict that’s been going on for nearly twenty years now, pitting the ANC establishment against radical groups who take their inspiration from Robert Mugabe, but have never been able to drive ANC policy. Whatever you think of the individual demands, burning the country down is not the way to pursue them. I just hope Ramaphosa doesn’t try to negotiate.

  31. Mildred Montana

    Open Space, Closed Gates Inquirer.

    Distance, n. The one thing the rich allow the poor to keep. (slight paraphrase)

    Thank you, Ambrose Bierce, for once again telling it like it is.

    1. Tom Stone

      Bierce was a combat veteran of the Civil War, it influenced his writing profoundly.
      And I have been fond of him since I first encountered “The Devil’s Dictionary” at age 13.

      1. rowlf

        The library at the university I attended had a book of Bierce’s columns in The San Francisco Examiner that I enjoyed reading. Bierce wrote many times about Chinese immigrants being treated poorly (and killed) and justice not being equal for everyone. A real giant.

        1. Mildred Montana

          He also has a definition in “The Devil’s Dictionary” that addresses the genocide of the Indians (if that’s the correct term). He uses the word “aborigines”:

          ABORIGINES: n. Persons of little worth found cumbering the soil of a newly discovered country. They soon cease to cumber; they fertilize.

          A real giant is right. Where are the giants of today?

          1. rowlf

            ABORIGINES: n. Persons of little worth found cumbering the soil of a newly discovered country. They soon cease to cumber; they fertilize.

            (This might be the new definition of rednecks as viewpoints slide and The Others that can’t get with the new program.)

            If I ever get good at remote viewing Bierce is someone I will look for first. Practice practice practice.

      2. Mildred Montana

        @Tom Stone

        I first encountered “The Devil’s Dictionary” at the not-so-tender age of 45. I was immediately taken by its delightful combination of cynicism and wit.

        About ten years ago I ordered a copy at my local bookstore. When I went in to pick it up both the owner and her employee remarked on what a humorous book it was (they had obviously been reading *my* book).

    2. newcatty

      Distance: think this could be a subject for category of ” “Class Warfare”, too. Heh, the wealthy estate owners grift their “open space” hypocritical ploy to be called conservation. Closed gates provide them their private views of lovely trees. So, distance for them is safe and assured in their world’s. But, for how long? More and more stories are coming about the poor , homeless living on streets, beaches, parks, besides only in underpasses or in camps in the forests. San Francisco, among the first cities to sound “an alarm” had upset people in businesses and residences decrying the ” homeless” sleeping in doorways, defecating not far away on streets and walkways. LA clearing out a camp from a huge city park. Venice “relocating” homeless to motels. San Diego chasing people in vehicles out of public beach parking, after dark. That “distance” is not going to be easy to keep, as more people , for various reasons, join the ranks of homelessness ( pc: unhoused).

    1. Verifyfirst

      I was just wondering the same thing. I hope the crew had the good sense to wear masks!

    2. Krystyn Podgajski

      I want to see evidence of two things. The rate of contagion FROM vaccinated people and the out come of infection in people with no comorbidities.

      I don’t have the bandwidth for more fear in my life so if someone could point this out to be it would be appreciated.

      1. fresno dan

        Krystyn Podgajski
        July 17, 2021 at 5:22 pm
        I would like to know EXACTLY the same thing.. why is it that I get the impression that our leaders, oligarchs, etc., do not what me to know that???
        I can understand that some of those at the top believe that if people believe vaccines are not 100% effective, that maybe there will be less vacination. But really, how many people can’t figure out that if seatbelts aren’t 100% effective, that is no good reason not to wear them at all.

      2. Raymond Sim

        I’m afraid the folks with the data won’t be able to provide us any answers till they’ve finished obfuscating it. I wish I were kidding.

        But, and sorry to bring the fear, if vaccinated people are not transmitting at high rates, as in comprable to unvaccinated people in past waves, then the pattern of increase in cases of Delta becomes mysterious, and probably grounds for fear in and of itself.

        As for outcomes and bandwidth, people don’t like to hear it, but there’s no such thing as a mild case of Covid-19, and an apparently mild case is no guarantee you’re not knackered in even the relatively short run. So bandwidth expended trying understand risk is probably wasted.

  32. Tom Stone

    Dang, I was really hoping that Caitlyn Jenner would rev up her campaign.
    Bring in the Kardashian’s and generate some DRAMA!!!
    Newsome VS Jenner is the choice Californians have been given…
    If Ms Jenner puts her mind to it this could be a hugely entertaining race.
    Pull out ALL of the stops, use everything you’ve got, and the ratings will be through the roof!

    1. The Rev Kev

      You’ll have to wait until she gets back from Australia first where she is taking part in a Celebrity Big Brother which I am sure will agree is more important than Californian politics.

      1. ambrit

        “..where she is taking part in a Celebrity Big Brother…”
        I never imagined that I would read about something that cheapened the “brand” of an infotainment non-event program. And I thought that “pairing” Tammy Faye Bakker and Ron Jeremy was the lowest one could go.
        Live and learn.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Here is a thought for you ambrit. We are being told worldwide by politicians and some doctors that we have to learn to “live with the virus” right? And this virus is also world wide problem being a pandemic, right?

          So climate change is also a world wide problem. So why is it that when temperatures were hitting the triple digits in North America recently, that these same politicians and doctors were not telling us that we just have to “learn to live” with these heat waves too?

          1. ambrit

            Hmmm… My thought on this is that “living with the virus” includes all sorts of profitable medical interventions: vaccines, booster vaccines, hospitalizations for serious symptoms, funeral parlour profit rises, etc. etc. So, from an institutional perspective, it’s a win-win-win situation. Only the poor old ‘patients’ are sacrificed on the Altar of Mammon.
            “…living with the heat..” is already socialized as a profit centre in our post-industrial society. People already are hooked up to and hooked on the electric system; to run the air conditioning systems that counter the heat waves. Again, it is the ‘poor’ customers who are yet again sacrificed on the Altar of Mammon. If you can’t afford the electricity to run the air conditioning, etc., you get to suffer and die as a result of being lulled into a false sense of security. Alternative methods of living so as to “beat the heat” are not pushed, because the profit margins aren’t as high as the “official” methodologies”? I am cynical enough in my old age to think so.
            You try very hard to stay safe and rememeber that there used to be a Western Civilization in the Northern Hemisphere.

    2. HotFlash

      Newsome vs Jenner, will there be a swimsuit competition? An actual race? Or will there be policy?

      1. ambrit

        I can imagine a very “dirty” sub-rosa campaign against Jenner by the Newsome clique. Have it done by compliant right wing organizations “at arms length.” If Trump showed us anything, it is the eternal truth of the power of hate to motivate political movements.

  33. VietnamVet

    With the politicization and censorship of the coronavirus plague, and with the military withdrawals; the fate of the Biden/Harris Administration is spinning in the wind. There was a conscious decision to reopen the USA, end masking and social distancing. The corporate Democrats must feel the Hegemon shaking and rattling. Broken parts are being thrown overboard.

    The CDC models predicted the virus would be gone by November with vaccine herd immunity. Clearly wrong. In highly vaccinated Israel, Malta, UK, and Netherlands, new cases are skyrocketing. These must be breakthrough infections and the unvaccinated who were played for suckers. Told that the pandemic was over. The question becomes how many of the fully vaccinated will need hospitalization and die. It is too soon to tell through the censorship. So far, Israel has reported that mRNA vaccines’ prevention of the transmission of the virus has dropped to 64% with reopening and perhaps even lower now. The spikes in highly vaccinated nations could indicate that the vaccinated virus shedders are “Typhoid Marys” to the scattered, no longer isolated, remaining unvaccinated.

    One can’t help but get the gut feeling that ruling class has written off those who don’t do what they tell them to do. This portends disaster in the long term.

    1. a fax machine

      It leads to a few predictable things:

      1. Another toilet paper shortage when everyone panics again. Now’s the time to stock up.

      2. A bigger chip shortage, which will have increasingly profound effects on the economy. The inability to obtain new products prevents the planned EV/solar transition from occurring outright. What happens if Apple or Facebook can’t launch a new app because current gen iphones capable of supporting it aren’t being made in enough quantities? This problem is already affecting Playstation 5 game sales. Same for banks in regards to their own internal computing requirements, relevant considering high-frequency trading’s demands.

      3. A nurses’s strike, as they are ultimately the first front line workers harmed by all this. Perhaps a teacher’s strike too depending on the circumstances. This completes the assault on public health & education as the crisis is used as an excuse to finally dismantle it.

      4. Commercial industry taking matters into their own hands – no vaccine proof no entry and so forth. Clubs and bars close which massively changes our economy for the worse. Mainstream commercial entertainment shuts down or (d)evolves into Trumpalike organizations like the WWE with no rules. Major League teams eject from lockdown cities to “free” cities, and the media empires built on this content collapse or reform around something lockdown-friendly like videogames. Nascar’s use of videogames comes to mind.

  34. The Rev Kev

    “Palm Beach is running out of mansions for sale”

    Houseboats. How about they just build mansion houseboats. They can be made these days to stand a Category 4 storm and if they sink, well, that is why the rich have their insurance company on speed dial.

  35. ambrit

    The sight of several gambling casino barges parked on dry land after Hurricane Katrina cured me of my lust for waterborne living. I saw several of the big barges while still intact on dry land after the hurricane. Nothing looks so big as a beached casino barge close up.
    However, as far as Palm Beach goes, building on bages is forward looking in the best way. As the sea levels rise, the homesteaded barges will float up with it. Something much like the local Gulf Coast tradition of fishing camps nestled among the swamps and bayous of the coast will arise. Imagine. All those flooded high rise buildings will become perfect fish breeding structures!

  36. The Rev Kev

    “Greenland to halt all oil exploration as it ‘takes climate change seriously’ ”

    ‘The U.S. Geological Survey estimates there is around 17.5 billion undiscovered barrels of freedom and 148 trillion cubic feet of natural liberty off Greenland.’

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