Links 7/19/2021

These Plants Act Like Bees in a Hive NYT. Plant eusociality.

Global reflation? (PDF) Bank of International Settlements. “A closer look at the data reveals that the pickup in inflation can be ascribed largely to base effects, increases in the prices of a small number of pandemic-affected items and higher energy prices. A common thread through these causes is that their effect on inflation is likely to be temporary. ”

The two big reasons to doubt the global boom FT

Robotaxis: have Google and Amazon backed the wrong technology? FT. Showing a yellow card on the Betteridge’s Law violation.

Why you can swap Bitcoin for many things, but not buy anything with it Altered States of Monetary Consciousness. I alluded to this in my post on Salmon; I thought I had posted it, but I left it on the cutting room floor.

Police Destroy 1,069 Bitcoin Miners With Big Ass Steamroller In Malaysia Vice. Simple and direct.

#COVID19

Necessity of COVID-19 vaccination in previously infected individuals (preprint) medRxiv. Employees of the Cleveland Clinic. “Cumulative incidence of COVID-19 was examined among 52238 employees in an American healthcare system. COVID-19 did not occur in anyone over the five months of the study among 2579 individuals previously infected with COVID-19, including 1359 who did not take the vaccine.”

Characterizing long COVID in an international cohort: 7 months of symptoms and their impact EClinicalMedicine (press release). From the Results: “For the majority of respondents (>91%), the time to recovery exceeded 35 weeks. During their illness, participants experienced an average of 55.9+/- 25.5 (mean+/-STD) symptoms, across an average of 9.1 organ systems. The most frequent symptoms after month 6 were fatigue, post-exertional malaise, and cognitive dysfunction. Symptoms varied in their prevalence over time, and we identified three symptom clusters, each with a characteristic temporal profile. 85.9% of participants (95% CI, 84.8% to 87.0%) experienced relapses, primarily triggered by exercise, physical or mental activity, and stress. 86.7% (85.6% to 92.5%) of unrecovered respondents were experiencing fatigue at the time of survey, compared to 44.7% (38.5% to 50.5%) of recovered respondents. 1700 respondents (45.2%) required a reduced work schedule compared to pre-illness, and an additional 839 (22.3%) were not working at the time of survey due to illness. Cognitive dysfunction or memory issues were common across all age groups (~88%).”

* * *
The inside story of a Covid cluster in an Irish restaurant Irish Times. Lots of hygiene theatre, no coverage of ventilation, miserable absentee management, workers and public kept in the dark. Makes me wonder how Bourdain would have reacted.

Fishmongers from all markets to be tested for Covid-19 after new cluster found at Jurong Fishery Port Straits Times. No mention of migrant workers on the boats, hygiene theatre with “deep cleaning.”

China?

China trade deal didn’t address ‘fundamental problems’, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says South China Morning Post

Foreign passport rules for the election committee again expose the hypocrisy of Hong Kong’s top officials Hong Kong Free Press

Tokyo Olympics: Athlete debunks rumours of ‘anti-sex’ cardboard beds in Olympic Village by carrying out bounce test Sky News

Myanmar

Doctors accuse Myanmar’s military junta of hoarding oxygen as COVID-19 crisis deepens ABC Australia. “I can’t breathe.”

Vaccine inequity: Inside the cutthroat race to secure doses AP

Southern Vietnam Locked Down Vietnam Weekly

South Africa

Gross inequality stoked the violence in South Africa. It’s a warning to us all Guardian

The vulnerable points in South Africa’s fuel supply chain The Conversation

Syraqistan

Iraq to Discuss Withdrawal of American Troops With U.S. Bloomberg. Thanks, Obama! Oh, wait… That was 2021 – 2009 = 12 years ago. My bad.

Lula keeps policies a mystery on Brazil comeback trail FT

The Caribbean

Cuba and Haiti must find their own way forward FT

Cuba: US embargo blocks coronavirus aid shipment from Asia AP. From April, still germane.

‘My life is in danger. Come save my life.’ Haitian president’s desperate final pleas Miami Herald

US stood by Haitian leader as democracy unraveled, unrest grew NYT

Haitian president’s assassination exposes shady world of Colombian mercenaries Los Angeles Times

UK reaffirms backing for Guaido as Venezuela president ahead of $1 bln gold case Reuters

UK/EU

Party like it’s 2019! Lockdown-weary revellers cram into nightclubs at midnight as they finally throw open their doors after 16 months Daily Mail

Scripture, reason, and tradition:

 

‘Wembley variant’: England fans report soaring Covid cases after gathering for Euro 2020 final iNews. Anecdotal, but rather a lot of anecdotes.

One rule for us, another for them Yorkshire Bylines

Covid vaccination centres vandalised in France BBC

Protesters attack Cyprus TV over Covid measures, vaccines France24

New Cold War

I Kid You Not. Reminiscence of the Future (CL). Holy moley. And see here.

Biden Administration

The Big Law Cartel: How Antitrust Lawyers Help Their Clients Break the Law Matt Stoller, BIG. Well worth a read. On “document hygeine”:

 

In other words, corporate records are full of the lies employees tell each other, spurred on by lawyers, and the bigger the corporation, the deeper the layers of impacted bullsh*t; merger after merger, forming geological or rather coprolithic strata. I wonder what, if anything, future historians will make of this.

Senator: Bipartisan infrastructure bill loses IRS provision AP

Passport backlog threatens to upend travel plans for millions of Americans The Hill. Hotel America.

Almost nobody is repaying their student loans Yahoo News

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Revealed: leak uncovers global abuse of cyber-surveillance weapon Guardian (Richard Smith), Smith comments: “Next: organised crime breaks smartphone banking and skims 5% of *everything*.” Other commentary:

 

A new ‘digital violence’ platform maps dozens of victims of NSO Group’s spyware TechCrunch

Feral Hog Watch

Wild Pigs Could Trigger Decimation of US Pork Industry AgWeb (guurst).

Black Injustice Tipping Point

A People’s History of Black Twitter, Part I Wired

Class Warfare

Building Solar Farms May Not Build the Middle Class NYT (Re Silc). Re Silc: “W\e are a planter society to the core.”

Production didn’t stop when line worker died and more. Frito-Lay employee gives glimpse behind the scenes. Topeka Capitol-Journal

How Is Covid Changing the Geography of Entrepreneurship? Evidence from the Startup Cartography Project NBER. “Even though legislation such as the CARES Act did not directly support new business formation, the passage and implementation of relief packages was followed by a relative increase in start-up formation rates, particularly in neighborhoods with higher median incomes and a higher proportion of Black residents.”

Word gap: When money’s tight, parents talk less to kids (press release) Berkeley News

It Seems Odd That We Would Just Let the World Burn Ezra Klein, NYT

How Many Numbers Exist? Infinity Proof Moves Math Closer to an Answer. Quanta

Antidote du jour (via):

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.

146 comments

  1. Richard H Caldwell

    “ When history looks back on the current bubble, amid the ruins of every previous bubble in history, it will find the ineffective, misguided, and dogmatic activism of the Federal Reserve at the very center of it all.” – John Hussman

    Reply
    1. jsn

      This is a tautology. The Fed is the instititution charged with managing the nations money.

      Markets don’t work on barter except in very rare cases so anything having to do with markets will end up having the Fed in the middle of it.

      Markets also involve interested people, fixed capital, other assets and political oversight. Useful future histories will look to these participants to understand the multiparty abuses of the monetary system and who gains from them.

      Reply
      1. dftbs

        I think you’re making the assumption that there are such things as “markets”. Whereas it can be argued that since 2009; and most certainly since the repo crisis in fall of 2019, through the response to covid, there is only the Fed.

        It is the market, at least within the confines of American hegemony, the dollar system and its tributaries (yen, cad, aussie, euro, sterling, not to mention the currencies of our latin satraps).

        Future historians, if there is a future, may use our current moment as an example of stupidity in much the same way some refer to tulips. But I hope that this period is largely glossed over. Not because there aren’t lessons to learn; but because those lessons are being learned by other systems which we are now in “competition” against. So it won’t be history but practice. This period of western collapse will likely be celebrated by future historians, after all: 历史是由胜利者书写的

        Reply
        1. None from Nowheresville

          I’d say history is written by power as opposed to victors.

          The US South didn’t officially “win” the war of the slavers revolt but their descendants and others in or wanting power who could benefit certainly wrote a lot of what is consumed as cultural messaging, lawfare, flat out mythology and the historical biases, especially in grade and high school history books.

          On a certain level perhaps they are / were victors because they overcame all obstacles thrown at them or even subverting them.

          So yeah, victors it is. But a hundred years from now the victors’ and how we/they view their history may be different.

          Reply
        2. jsn

          I agree with everything you write, my point was that “blame the Fed” doesn’t capture what’s happening: our entire political structure has abdicated responsibility for almost everything leaving the monetary system as a heart and lung machine for the economic cadaver we inhabit.

          If the thing is to be reanimated, if we are to have markets again, it won’t be the Fed’s doing, it will be external forces be they political, environmental, or viral affecting the change.

          Capture of the monetary system by those benefiting from it won’t be fixed by on purpose by those in control. The “activism” of the Fed is the result of the abdication of government from governing.

          Reply
          1. Socal Rhino

            And the Fed has only the authority Congress gives to it, so blame is more correctly (IMO) and effectively directed to the elected officials.

            Reply
            1. JTMcPhee

              Since when are “markets” a GOOD thing to be resurrected? All such thinking has done is provide smoke and mirrors for the personalities and incentives that activate them and then are embroidered and worsened. Including the inevitable (it seems to me) suborning of the mechanisms of governance and the creation of the legal fictions by wholly owned legislatures and executives and courts and supranational things like the WTO and “international corporate agreements” like NAFTA and PPP. Seems to me that until such structures are broken down and binned, all the vectors of consumption and behaviors will continue to point toward the wasting of the biosphere. Looking, in the end, like a cross between “Soylent Green” and “WALL-E” without the happy and hopeful denouement…

              Reply
              1. Oh

                Agre with you completely. The term “free market” is used to fool the hoi polloi. What they mean in that it’s free for these crooked businesses. The Fed is an institution that looks out only for big businesses, especially FIRE. Unless we have a wholesale housecleaning in the three branches of government and dismantle the Fed and FIRE we will continue to get screwed. Bribes lobbying have to be outlawed at every level too.

                Reply
          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > Somehow I don’t think the Chinese are going to win against climate change

            Perhaps the Nine Dash Line is really a jumping off point for future real estate development to the less polluted and populated South and West. Look out, Philipines! Kidding, but only partly.

            Reply
      1. Mildred Montana

        I second that. Take a look at this chart:

        https://www.federalreserve.gov/monetarypolicy/bst_recenttrends.htm

        The Fed’s balance sheet has gone from $1.5 trillion in 2008 to $8 trillion in 2021. A 500% increase in a mere thirteen years! It calls what it has on its books “assets”, when in reality it is debt the Fed has purchased with…well, nothing. So much of this debt is of such dubious quality that the television show “Hoarders” should air a special episode: “Jerome Powell and the Junk He Has Stored in the Eccles Building”.

        This is why the Fed will not and cannot raise interest rates. Such a move would immediately blow up all that bad debt. So today its pronouncements are reduced to idle threats of interest-rate increases and “moral suasion”:

        “In economics, central bankers use moral suasion to influence market and public sentiment into believing that they are in control of the economy and ready to act if needed.” (from Investopedia)

        In short, they dupe us into believing “they are in control of the economy”. The Fed doesn’t control the economy, it distorts it. It has been responsible in recent years for the largest transfer of wealth in history, from savers to borrowers and asset-holders (wonder why housing prices have soared in the past ten years?). I remember well the Greenspan years (1987 -2006) when the Fed would “surprise” the markets with a large interest-rate cut. They rose deliriously. If Greenspan had the audacity to raise the rate, they had a hissy fit. Greenspan learned his lesson and the 2007 housing bubble be damned.

        Today? I can only be grateful that the Fed, with all its quantitative easing, has finally painted itself into a corner of irrelevance. Who pays any attention to its latest assessments of the economy?

        Reply
        1. JTMcPhee

          Maybe the Jubilee will come like a thief in the night, despite all the best efforts to pepper over every entry point into the house of cards…

          Reply
          1. Mildred Montana

            The two ways to wash excessive debt out of an economy:

            1. Inflation
            2. Debt repudiation (or Jubilee as you say)

            My money’s on debt repudiation. If only for the reason that generals have an unfortunate tendency to fight the last war, and our estimable generals at the Fed will well remember the last economic war, the inflation of the ’70s (at least, I assume they remember it).

            So while the Fed’s eyes are focused on inflation, debt repudiation will hit it right between them.

            Reply
      2. Objective Ace

        I’m still not so quick to call it a bubble this time. Unlike 2000 and 2007, Its not just cheap easy loans increaising the M1 monetary base. Tthe fed has actually increased the monetery reserves/base over 100 fold since 2008

        More likely to be Germany post ww1 then the danish tulip bubble

        Reply
  2. Questa Nota

    Big Law shows the devolution path used by those former tobacco lawyers and so many others. They have help with Big PR and others with aids and abets.

    Each generation learns anew that old question: How can you tell when your lawyer is lying to you?.

    Reply
  3. Toshiro_Mifune

    Police Destroy 1,069 Bitcoin Miners With Big Ass Steamroller In Malaysia

    Please don’t be Nvidia 30 series cards….. *watches video*… ok, those looked like ASICs.

    Reply
  4. PlutoniumKun

    The inside story of a Covid cluster in an Irish restaurant Irish Times.

    Just a few points on this article – I don’t know what type of air conditioning the building has, but I know someone who worked on its construction as an engineer and said he was amazed at the money spent – everything was top spec. The developer had a point of pride that he would charge the highest rents in the city and was determined that nobody could top it in quality for fittings. It is, it should be said, very beautiful in contrast to most modern buildings in the area.

    I haven’t been in the restaurant, but from what I’ve seen, it has quite high ceilings, unlike a lot of modern ground floor restaurants.

    The UK company that runs the restaurant is notorious. A friend of mine, a junior chef – applied for a job there when it was opening and said she was relieved after not to get it when she heard a few stories from friends who did work there. Initially staff were treated very badly and they discovered that all tips on credit cards were being held by the company (common practice in the UK, but not in Ireland). After a series of walk outs and semi-official industrial actions they had to change some of their ways just to hold on to staff.

    Reply
    1. Terry Flynn

      Thanks. I can’t comment on the employee issues but the “get the airflow right” issue is one I have observed here in Nottingham. During 2nd lockdown the local Nottingham Building Society plus estate agent did a major internal overhaul (visible through big windows).

      The old “cram in salespersons” approach was ditched. Non-original walls? All torn down. The office reverted to its original design – the only walls were the load-bearing ones. Aircon was revamped. I looked up the new external outlets – yep, high grade filtration systems of the sort people on here recommended.

      Nottm Building society, whether it followed the trend for privatisation in 1990s or not, clearly has an ethos of “best to keep our customers alive”.

      Reply
    2. Ahimsa

      Just as Ireland and UK are opening up, this from Israel:

      >80% Israel >60 yrs old vaccinated (min 1 dose)

      >60% Israel total pop. vaccinated (min 1 dose)

      https://www.jpost.com/breaking-news/coronavirus-in-israel-430-new-cases-147-percent-of-tests-positive-674215

      COVID: Entrance of vaccinated to Israel postponed again amid outbreak
      Amid concerns over the rising number of coronavirus cases, police to employ an SMS-based system to verify location of those quarantining.

      Vaccinated tourists will not be allowed to enter Israel on August 1, as had been previously planned, Health Ministry Director-General Prof. Nachman Ash said Sunday, also announcing that the authorities will discuss measures to restrict all travel.

      “We are postponing the date for the entry of tourists; it is not going to happen on August 1,” he said, adding that a new date has not been set. “Unfortunately, the current situation does not permit us to allow tourists to enter.”

      Reply
    3. Nellie

      This is why all tips should be handed directly to your waiter in CASH.

      To avoid all kinds of fraud, like the tip hoarding above, walk the bill, cash to pay for the meal, plus tip, or your credit card plus cash tip, up the waiter, and don’t let your card out of your sight.

      Reply
    4. steve

      In my experience a focus on “top quality fittings” reliably indicates a skimping on the HVAC, gold plated faucets and leaky pipes. Of course my experience is limited to the US but I suspect in this regard holds true everywhere.

      It is quite common that after a few months and the requisite power bills owners are asking how they can save, of course without expense or compromise of comfort, and eager to please techs will often offer up for sacrifice the most impactful, Outside Air.

      Reply
      1. bob

        “In my experience a focus on “top quality fittings” reliably indicates a skimping on the HVAC, gold plated faucets and leaky pipes.”

        x1000. The brats building this stuff want all of the money going to the fixture, not the person installing it. “this is a very high quality finish, it shouldn’t be that much to install. I paid a lot for it!”

        Similar to how a Viking range that gets used 2 times a year breaks.

        Reply
        1. KLG

          “Similar to how a Viking range that gets used 2 times a year breaks.”

          Our house had a Viking range/oven when we bought it in 2009. A “selling point” that was a total POS. Replaced it with a KitchenAid dual fuel range/oven. Works perfectly. So far.

          Reply
    5. Robert Hahl

      “Makes me wonder how Bourdain would have reacted,”

      Reminds me of how he reacted when Leno asked him, after traveling the world eating strange food, what sas the strangest most disgusting thing you ate? And with an apologetic laugh he said “Cinnebun.l

      Reply
    6. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I don’t know what type of air conditioning the building has

      Good news, and good news on the high ceilings, too. But ventilation should be part of the coverage!

      Reply
  5. timbers

    “China trade deal didn’t address ‘fundamental problems’, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says”

    It might be helpful if Yellen or the article were to say very clearly what she/they see as “fundamental problems” in their view. Closest I can speculate is some mention near the end of “purchasing targets” that China to buy US goods, and trade deficits. Are those cosmetic, fundamental, or what?

    Is it not possible to say in the corporate conglomerate media we have a policy of exporting US jobs and manufacturing to China and other low labor nations, that we have a tax policy and tax credit subsidy to export US jobs to low labor nations, that benefit rich gigantic corporations that pay well below their fair share of taxes, that this the root cause amongst other similar that is part of a fundamental problem that needs fixing?

    Reply
  6. The Rev Kev

    “Tokyo Olympics: Athlete debunks rumours of ‘anti-sex’ cardboard beds in Olympic Village by carrying out bounce test”

    ‘Condoms have been given to Olympic Games participants since the 1988 Seoul Olympics – a move designed to raise awareness of AIDS while also encouraging safer sex. However, Tokyo 2020 organisers have not followed suit due to the pandemic.’

    I understand in Rio that athletes were issued 42 condoms (that is why they are called Olympias and not just athletes) and now none? In fact, some athletes were told that if they were given condoms, to bring them home unused as souvenirs. Of course there will be no sex in that fortnight. I mean thousands of young, healthy men & women in the best years of their lives and in prime condition. I am sure that nothing will happen. They could sit on their cardboard boxes and watch the telly, play cards or even go to bed early. Think of the stories that they could tell their grandchildren about those heady times. What else would they be doing? As an experiment, I put in the search term ‘sexy athletes’ into Google Images followed by the search term ‘sexy male athletes’ to see what those athletes would expect to see in Tokyo. Uhuh. I think that those athletes will be packing their own condoms.

    Reply
    1. Terry Flynn

      My BFF lives in Tokyo, is fully integrated and gives me the lowdown when the west doesn’t report things properly. There is simultaneously a huge desire to host it (after previous fiascos of timing like 1940) but an increasing feeling that “it really isn’t worth this amount of hassle”. Most Japanese would like the whole issue to go away and the Olympics itself with it.

      More infections in the olympic village will solidify objection. Japan (thanks to MMT) doesnt NEED the Olympics. Most people instinctively know this. I predict that the Japanese public will end up angry, expressing bitter regret at hosting and being a lab rat in the process. The LDP will suffer.

      Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        My understanding of whats going on is only second hand two – mostly via Japanese friends I know here and scanning the news. Its always very hard to know with the Japanese as they so often say what they think the listener wants to hear whenever you raise anything vaguely political.

        My sense is that while there is pride in it, it curdled somewhat even before Covid. There is a lot of resentment over Tokyo getting all the goodies as usual and a feeling that it wasn’t been handled particularly well – the organisation has been very functional but lacks the pizzaz of other countries, or even the ’64 Olympics and even back 3 or 4 years ago the rising cost was considered a bit of a scandal. The public mood seems to have ebbed and flowed with Covid – a few months ago I think enthusiasm was rising as it was felt things were under control, but now the timing is terrible with the current wave. And it doesn’t help that the Japanese tend to see foreigners as potentially suspect and disease carriers at the best of times.

        The big problem is that from what I understand of the reasoning behind hosting it in the first place (as you say, they don’t need it), was to ramp up the slowly growing tourism industry, especially from China and South Korea. Lots and lots of hotels have been built, and it looks like they will never be filled, this will lead to a lot of pain, mostly among government supporters. Just as the country is littered with over ambitious tourist/leisure projects from the 1980s (still visible everywhere), they may be leaving yet another layer, this time hotels around the fringes of Greater Tokyo.

        Reply
      2. Carla

        “Japan (thanks to MMT) doesnt NEED the Olympics. Most people instinctively know this.”

        When, oh, when will Americans be permitted to learn this? It’s hard not to live in a permanent state of rage when I read and hear about the critical need for “pay-fors” every damned day. Just gotta pull my head up from the gutter of Amurican life and focus on the better things in life: bees dive-bombing my pollinators, plants and trees freely sharing their beauty and wisdom if we have the sense to look, people still trying to do good work in this capitalist cesspool…

        Reply
    2. JohnA

      I worked at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Norway. Condoms were freely issued in a handy pouch with a string to wear round your neck. They were rumoured to be ribbed with the 5 Olympic rings, but that proved to be an urban myth.

      Reply
        1. JohnA

          They were part of the welcome pack for all athletes, media people etc. Am sure more would have been available. Scandinavians have no hang-ups about sex, it’s alcohol consumption that attracts puritanical outrage, not nudity. When the TV series Dallas was shown for example, nobody cared about JR screwing around, but drinking whisky after sex would jam the complaints switchboards.

          Reply
    3. fresno dan

      I understand in Rio that athletes were issued 42 condoms (that is why they are called Olympians and not just athletes) and now none?
      Google tells me the Olmpics last 16 days. Uh, that is just 2.6 condoms per day. I’m sorry, but that is not Olympian. I mean, I would be in need of 10 such devices when I was in such games and this was when I was being treated for cancer. AND probably could have done more, but my partner in …Olympic events….put a stop to it.

      Reply
    4. Procopius

      I remember, as a kid, being surprised to read that professional boxers, especially at the championship level, regard having sex as something to avoid. The most successful trainers at the time said unequivocally that having sex weakened a man. I recently have read that the Japanese samurai believed the same. I don’t know about how women athletes view the subject. So they might screw like bunnies after they’ve competed but stay celibate before. Wonder how we could find out.

      Reply
  7. PlutoniumKun

    Wild Pigs Could Trigger Decimation of US Pork Industry AgWeb

    Since I heard of the wild pig problem in the US I was wondering why they expanded so fast – usually this doesn’t happen unless there is a vacated ecological niche to fill. It hadn’t occured to me that the simple answer was ‘landfill’.

    As for ASF, this is a devastating disease. When it broke out in China there were many stories of rivers choked with dead pigs, dumped by factory farmers not willing to pay for proper disposal. One can only wonder what will happen in the US if and when it arrives. Sent perhaps to the same landfills that are responsible for the problem? Getting rid of a few million pig corpses is not an easy thing.

    The other issue of course would be inflation. The loss of pork (very highly prized by the Chinese led to a significant rise in food inflation. It remains to be seen if it has led to a permanent change in eating habits. It may well be the best thing for everything if it does wean the world off pork products, few meats are so destructive of the environment.

    Reply
  8. timbers

    Covid

    In the broad sweep of things looking back at the past year or so, it’s striking and IMO upside down and backwards, we’ve have policy implemented in a split second of requiring landlords provide free rent because “public health” that has even been litigated to the point of being touched by the Supreme Court…but we still have no Federal mandate that everyone must be vaccinated.

    When I was a child in grade school, we have several vaccines that I believe were mandatory for all/most folks. Isn’t that the point of vaccines – that everyone or most all get them?

    Reply
    1. Isotope_C14

      “Isn’t that the point of vaccines – that everyone or most all get them?”

      The old vaccines were not entirely without problems, but the new mRNA ones are completely brand-new technology in comparison to the old “whole-cell killed” or attenuated strain vaccines. People with psoriasis for example were not supposed to get the Smallpox vaccine, and I’m sure other vaccines are contraindicated with other pre-existing health conditions. With the mRNA ones, we don’t yet know if there is a group that will react badly to them.

      I’ve had all the vaccines that I was supposed to get through my life, but until these mRNA ones are better tested and the numbers of adverse events are properly documented, I don’t think it would be in my health-category best interest to get these. There’s no argument for “Herd immunity” with this non-sterilizing vaccine. I’ve already had that horrible spike protein in my body before, and I’ll do my best to prevent that from happening again.

      Reply
      1. J.

        Since you seem scientifically inclined, judging by your handle, why do you think the mRNA vaccines in particular are so suspicious? I am asking not to start arguments but because I don’t understand why a scientifically inclined person is reluctant. I decided to get vaccinated, and my reasoning follows.

        To me, inoculation with an mRNA vaccine seems like a subset of what happens when you are infected with the actual virus, with the principal differences being 1. fewer different viral proteins are manufactured (spike only) and 2. it doesn’t replicate, so the dose you get is all you get. I am aware there are some unusual bases used to improve stability of the vaccine but the amount is small and I would not expect to see any effects from that.

        Even though the covid vaccine is not sterilizing, it still gives you a chance to prepare an immune response against the virus, so you will be ahead of the game when you do get challenged by the actual virus. It is clear to me that our leaders in the US have given up on controlling covid so we will all get it eventually. The best we can do is get vaccinated so the virus doesn’t get the drop on us.

        So why are you hesitant? Because you had it already, and you have some naturally acquired immunity?

        Reply
        1. Isotope_C14

          “Because you had it already, and you have some naturally acquired immunity?”

          This is primarily it, however after reading so many reports of people who had bad reactions to the vax, many who had COVID prior, isn’t a great selling point on it.

          I can only imagine that when I get Delta, it will probably be pretty bad.

          I’m worried about a Marek’s disease like situation with this vaccine rushed into use, and seeing it non-sterilizing.

          “1. fewer different viral proteins are manufactured (spike only)”

          This I suspect might be the reason the virus is non-sterilizing. Though the Sinovac as far as I know is non-sterilizing?

          This might just be something we have to learn to live with.

          Reply
          1. saywhat?

            I can only imagine that when I get Delta, it will probably be pretty bad. Isotope_C14

            Maybe not. I think I’ve already had Covid and a re-infection or two. The first time (before vaccines were available) was pretty bad and I thought my heart was permanently damaged but I lost a little weight and the symptoms (little walking endurance) went away. I also have a normal EKG again or at least according to that DIY gizmo IM Doc recently recommended.

            The second time was less painful and again losing weight worked wonders.

            I’ve not been vaccinated against Covid nor do I plan to with the current leaky vaccines since I have no intention of becoming vaccine dependent nor being a possible breeding vessel for super-Covid.

            Reply
            1. Isotope_C14

              Thanks for this, I really should try and drop a few more pounds again.

              It’s been hard since it’s been hot here, and my friend always wants to sit at the bar (outdoors) while the apartments cool down. Beer isn’t exactly a weight-loss beverage. :)

              Our case rate is going up here, and I’m looking at a chance at a different job in a different city, so perhaps I’ll have less temptation to slurm down the cold frosties.

              Reply
          2. FluffytheObeseCat

            “ I’m worried about a Marek’s disease like situation with this vaccine rushed into use, and seeing it non-sterilizing

            I’ve been disquieted for awhile now about how the decade-scale trajectory of COVID has been discussed in the popular press. Every nonscientific article I’ve read implies it will fade into a severe head cold over about that length of time, like the “Russian flu” of the 1890s. Except the global response to the Russian flu did not involve much mitigation. No vaccines at all, at least none widely use or effective. It was allowed to evolve within a passive population that accepted waves of infectious disease as a part of life. I.e. many European adults in that time period were old enough to remember the sweeping cholera epidemics 40 years earlier. The delta variants appeared in a population (India) that had only limited vaccinations at the time it evolved. I think they were at around 10% fully vaccinated. But it’s distinctly more virulent and outpacing other, less deadly variants.

            Having said that, we still have plenty of chickens in the world. And we’ve begun with other, less than complete vaccines in the past. I’m pretty sure the first mid-60s measles vaccine provided incomplete protection. And there is no guarantee a wholly naive population couldn’t breed a disease of extreme virulence, even absent modern manipulations.

            There is no guarantee we’ll ever produce a sterilizing vaccine for COVID however, even if we could deliver it to every newborn on the planet forevermore.

            Reply
            1. Isotope_C14

              Check the links in-page by Anonymous, the Iowa vaccine looks quite promising. Sterilizing in Ferrets. I reply to it below as well.

              Reply
          3. J.

            Makes sense. Thanks for the considered response.

            I hope we don’t get a Marek’s-type situation. Unfortunately it seems like everything is in place for it.

            The injected vaccines are non-sterilizing because they produce humoral immunity rather than mucosal immunity, and the virus initially invades via mucous membranes. Novavax is working on a protein vaccine, and if it can be made into a nasal formulation, that has the potential to produce sterilizing immunity. Fingers crossed…

            Reply
          4. Lambert Strether Post author

            > Sinovac as far as I know is non-sterilizing?

            I believe that Sinovac is non-sterilizing, yes. That’s why Malaysia isn’t buying more of it, and Thailand is giving people their second jab with AZ, if the first was Sinovac.

            Discouraging. I would really have liked the killed virus to work, because the technology is more conservative.

            Reply
        2. hunkerdown

          Because business overrules science, and business is an inherently and irremediably corrupt interest. Early classical economists offered mitigations but most of those have been exhausted.

          Nationalize big pharma, and then we’ll talk.

          Reply
          1. Maritimer

            “Because business overrules science, and business is an inherently and irremediably corrupt interest.”
            **********
            That should be obvious to anyone familiar with the financial/economic issues discussed here at NC. The legal records of AZ, JJ and Pfizer are readily available online to anyone doing critical thinking about vaccines.

            So, the Vaccine pushers never address these legal records. Never. Suggesting that a citizen should ignore such legal records and just take their experimental, specious products, to me, is beyond the ethical pale.

            Reply
        3. Katniss Everdeen

          This drug is being called a “vaccine” precisely to provoke the reaction that both you and timbers are having–thinking it is the same as the more familiar “vaccines.” Such comparisons are not accurate.

          Years ago fauci tried to patent a similar anti-AIDS mRNA “vaccine.” His patent was denied for the same reason that this covid drug is not a “vaccine”:

          Application/Control Number: 09/869,003 Page 5
          Art Unit 1648

          These arguments are persuasive to the extent that an antigenic peptide stimulates an immune response that may produce antibodies that bind to a specific peptide or protein but is not persuasive in regards to a vaccine. The immune response produced by a vaccine must be more than merely some immune response but must be protective. As noted in the previous Office Action, the art recognizes the term “vaccine” to be a compound which prevents infection. Applicant has not demonstrated that the instantly claimed vaccine meets even the lower standard set forth in the specification, let alone the standard art definition, for being operative in this regards….

          The covid drug purports to reduce symptoms in some people. It does not prevent infection, transmission, hospitalization or death, as IM Doc has repeatedly documented. It’s not a “vaccine.”

          Reply
          1. Oh

            There are other reasons too:

            Pharma and the FDA are in cahoots and vaccine makers do not have the people’s interest in mind, only $$$$
            The vaccine was tested on an accelarated schedule. The EUA was based on political reasons.

            Reply
          2. Aumua

            As far as my limited sourcing of the above quote goes, it seems to be from a Dr. David Martin who figures prominently in the second “Plandemic” video (what is it with bowties and these pseudo-“experts” anyway?) Just a little context for anyone following along. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

            Also I’m sure that IM Doc would probably disagree that he is documenting that the COVID vaccines “do not prevent infection, transmission, hospitalization or death.”

            Reply
            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              > As far as my limited sourcing of the above quote goes, it seems to be from a Dr. David Martin who figures prominently in the second “Plandemic” video

              Oh, sheesh. Another video ffs.

              The Fauci patent stuff looks like a mess. Since I don’t have time to go down the rathole, I will simply say that patents are searchable on the USPTO site. If anybody putatively quoting from the patent doesn’t include such a link, I would ignore what they say. When people don’t do something that’s easy and helps their argument, that something is probably not a thing.

              Reply
              1. Basil Pesto

                it’s the same dude/video that someone link-dropped last week. I’d recognise that bow tie anywhere.

                Reply
        4. Raymond Sim

          I personally would very much have preferred not to receive the vaccine, because in my opinion the trials were shoddy, and the rollout had a nasty odor of cluster about it.

          For instance, it was known from the get-go that the formulation would likely produce some amount of anaphylaxis, but there appears to have been jack-all done in anticipation of it.

          I got Pfizered because our Covid response has been such a debacle that it makes the vaccine very unlikely to be a greater threat than the disease, and because I understand that my probable natural infection from January 2020 is vanishingly unlikely to provide any protection worth a shit.

          So for me, being science-minded, and therefore choosing the vaccine has as much, in fact I would say more, to do with everything else that’s wrong as it does the merits of the vaccine.

          Reply
          1. J.

            our Covid response has been such a debacle that it makes the vaccine very unlikely to be a greater threat than the disease

            My sentiments EXACTLY.

            Reply
        5. Still Above Water

          Since tracking began in 1968, the tetanus vaccine has 36 deaths attributed to it in the World Health Organisation (WHO) database. I would not be surprised if there are more than 36 deaths per day from mRNA vaccines. Yet my friends want me to believe they’re equally safe.

          I’ve been reading about failed attempts to develop mRNA therapy for 30 years. Here’s a quote from 4 years ago:

          But mRNA is a tricky technology. Several major pharmaceutical companies have tried and abandoned the idea, struggling to get mRNA into cells without triggering nasty side effects.

          Hopefully they’ve finally gotten it right. But only time will tell. Hence my hesitancy. I’d rather wait for an inactivated SARS-CoV2 vaccine and take IVM until one’s available.

          I believe everyone should make their own risk assessment. I don’t tell anyone what they should do, because I resent people telling me what to do. And boy, do I have a lot of resentment right now.

          Reply
      2. timbers

        You still get the benefit of the vaccine for the entire population. We already know some issues. It should be possible to extrapolate the known problems vs the known benefits. My guess is known benefits – like with the older vaccines – hugely out weigh the drawbacks.

        As a grade schooler, we were all given parental permission/notification slips to take home to our parents. We were then all heard downstairs into the cafeteria and stood in line to take the vaccines. I believe a few children were exempt for various reasons.

        It was an assembly line. I guess oh I don’t know say 97% of got vaccinated on the same day.

        Reply
        1. Raymond Sim

          But were any of those vaccines for diseases that were capable of reinfecting their victims within months?

          SARS-CoV-2 has that capacity, and can evolve rapidly. These are dangerous complicating factors.

          With something like measles, it’s possible that a bad vaccine might cause collective harm, but a good vaccine badly handled should at worst fail to provide collective benefit.

          But with Covid-19 a good vaccine badly handled could actually make things worse for everybody.

          Reply
            1. saywhat?

              An analogy is to the misuse/overuse of antibiotics and how that has bred super-bacteria that are almost untreatable. But possibly worse since viruses are so difficult to treat in the first place.

              Reply
            2. Raymond Sim

              If you don’t understand the mechanisms by which it could be making things worse then you have no basis for such flippancy.

              Reply
              1. kareninca

                I wonder why people make bare assertions like the claim that “the vaccine works, let it work.” How does that help? It certainly doesn’t convince anyone who is worried about side effects and long term dangers; it just annoys them. It’s like the person who is making the claim is trying to hypnotize himself into a state of conviction.

                Reply
                1. timbers

                  “I wonder why people make bare assertions like the claim that “the vaccine works, let it work.” Umm… Because it does work. How are helping but suggesting – wrongly – that it doesn’t?

                  Reply
            3. kareninca

              “Honestly I don’t get your point, or meaning. The vaccine works. Let it work.”

              That’s called begging the question. I certainly hope it will work out, but if you look at what’s happening in Israel it doesn’t look promising at all. Really it may end up making things worse in the end. Wishing won’t change things; only time will tell.

              Reply
              1. timbers

                No, it’s not called begging. It called exactly what I wrote. If you seriously don’t see the vaccine works, you’re not reality based.

                Reply
                1. Pat

                  If by work you mean making it very likely that for six to eight months you won’t need to be hospitalized if you get infected with little concern for either the long term effects of mild Covid infection or possible short or long term effects of the experimental delivery system that has only managed to exist this time because the problems were ignored and the pharmaceutical companies given immunity for future problems then yes they “work”.

                  I wonder what the vaccination rate would be if that more accurate description of the situation were being used rather than “you can go maskless”, “open for business” and only the anti-vaxxers can mess this up we hear now. I am really looking forward to the hoops our leadership class are going to go through as schools and long closed businesses reopen just in time for those first vaccinated to start losing their limited immunity and the breakthrough cases become so overwhelming they can not be hidden any longer.

                  Reply
  9. PlutoniumKun

    It Seems Odd That We Would Just Let the World Burn Ezra Klein, NYT

    I can’t access the article (and as a general point I would not waste time on anything Klein writes), but on the assumption that this is about how the worlds media is ignoring the collapse of the worlds climate, well… yes it is odd, but unsurprising.

    From droughts in the US to unprecedented summer floods in Europe and Japan there is clear and unamiguous evidence that we are facing what was just a few years ago considered the worst case scenario for climate breakdown. And yet, what is the worlds media saying? The usual noise and misdirection.

    Reply
    1. Carla

      Yes, PK. Among many other nonsensical things, the media keep claiming we have to find a way to “pay for” fighting climate change.

      Reply
      1. hunkerdown

        What they’re saying is that property is more important than life, which has been a core Western value since the decline of Rome if not before.

        Reply
        1. Procopius

          It doesn’t matter. Nobody has any idea what to do, anyway. Reducing CO2 emissions is far too little far too late. If we reduced CO2 emissions to only what is coming from volcanoes and the thawing permafrost the carbon sink (ocean, trees, exposed rock, etc.) is now so saturated it will take hundreds of years for atmospheric CO2 levels to return to under 350 ppm. Well, more than 100 years, certainly. Unless we find a way to quickly scrub CO2 and methane quite a bit faster than we’re producing it we’re toast (pun intended). In the end, we will have to fulfill Isaac Asimov’s vision in Caves of Steel and somehow develop an underground habitat. I don’t think we can do that without developing cheap (really cheap) hydrogen fusion power, and that’s at least thirty years away. Always has been, always will be.

          Reply
  10. PlutoniumKun

    I Kid You Not. Reminiscence of the Future (CL). Holy moley. And see here.

    Holy Moley indeed. Its one thing to be ruled by sociopaths. Its another when they are sociopaths who are both ignorant of basic facts and stupid.

    For those following various shenanigans involving the highest levels of the Anglosphere, aka the ‘free world’ its increasingly obvious that there has been a systematic lobotonisation of people at the highest levels. Its pretty clear that being stupid and inept is no longer a disqualification for running a major organisation or country – just look at the UK.

    In many respects, this is far scarier than knowing that our leaders are malign.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      I will say that one of the Ukrainian campaigns in the early days bore the hallmarks of an American designed plan. The Ukrainians sent a column racing along the southern border with the intent of sealing off the Donbass-Russian border and then mopping up the rest of the two Republics. An American army would have been able to pull that off with full aerial support but no way was the Ukrainian army in any condition to pull it off. But I still suspect that US Pentagon advisors gave this plan to the Ukrainians to execute. As it was, the Novorussians led that column into a fire-sac and slammed the door behind them before demolishing the Ukrainian forces.

      Reply
    2. Chris Smith

      Or Petraeus and his paymasters wanted a bloodbath. I’m going with evil in this case as opposed to stupid.

      Reply
    3. jsn

      Selected for sociopathic characteristics since the 70s, our now mostly sociopathic leaders are insulated in an information bubble as managed and removed from reality as Pravda and Izvestia before Gorbachev.

      While Soviet communism had only political structures and solidarity, horribly eroded by the late 80s, to fall back on, American communism for the Rich has the Fed and the twin MICs (med and mil) to fall back on which has sustained it for 20 years now past it’s sell by date.

      Accelerating mortality/shorter lives, bigger fires, bigger droughts, obvious political intervention in mediated information, universal surveillance and the complete breakdown of law and order for the Oligarchic class have as yet to do anything but increase the power of Anglosphere incumbents. Amongst our nominal “leaders”, I wonder how many actually understand this.

      Reply
      1. Maritimer

        “Selected for sociopathic characteristics since the 70s, our now mostly sociopathic leaders are insulated in an information bubble as managed and removed from reality as Pravda and Izvestia before Gorbachev.”
        ******
        There are about 3000 Billionaires. Rate of sociopathy is about 5% of general population, psychopathy about 1%. (Rates may be higher among Bills.) So that gives us, 150 sociopathic Bills and 30 Psychopathic Bills. And the power of Science and Technology available to these Bills increases each and every day.
        I would not go long on the prospects for Humanity.

        Reply
        1. jsn

          I don’t think you can apply those distributions to that catagory.

          Power and money are strong selectors FOR sociopathic and psychopathic individuals so the rates within the billionaire and political classes is going to be substantially higher.

          To the extent the rest of us can come to terms with this and insist on constraints on power and money, numbers are on our side. To your last point, however, I’m increasingly glad I failed to have children.

          Reply
    4. Procopius

      On the one hand, I want to believe the story. On the other hand, while Petraeus showed that he does pretty dumb things, I can’t believe he’s stupid enough to sent stuff like that by text message when he has really secure means at his disposal, including messengers. Remember that for years Al Qaeda’s money managers (Saudi Arabians) fooled our intelligence agencies by simply using people carrying checks and cash and using hand-written deposit and withdrawal slips instead of wire transfers.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I can’t believe he’s stupid enough to sent stuff like that by text message when he has really secure means at his disposal

        “Really secure” is doing a lot of work there.

        Reply
  11. PlutoniumKun

    The two big reasons to doubt the global boom FT

    The essence of this article seems to be that the widespread assumption that there would be a post Covid economic bump may well be wishful thinking.

    Its hard not to think that the primary motivation for Biden to give the all clear for ‘normal’ life and for the UK to declare ‘Freedom Day’ today is the desire to wind down government supports for workers as soon as possible. This may well be a classic case of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory – in both cases there is little doubt but that without the unrecedented support of incomes the Covid economic hit would have been much worse.

    But the evidence from China, which is ahead of the curve on this, is that the rise in consumer spending may be shorter and lower than expected, as people are still sitting on any savings. If, as seems almost certain now – we are hit with repeated waves of Delta between now and the New Year, we could be entering the worst of all worlds – strained hospitals, businesses wracked by absenteeism and customers staying at home, but with no government support to underwrite the economy.

    Reply
    1. Isotope_C14

      “desire to wind down government supports for workers as soon as possible. ”

      Bingo.

      President Biden: “It turns out capitalism is alive and very well. We’re making serious progress to ensure that it works the way it’s supposed to work for the good of the American people.”

      https://twitter.com/SarcasmStardust/status/1417165250143690753

      Oh. Silly me.

      The country that pays the BSL-3 technicians 36k is supposed to work this way, for the good of the American people.

      Oh.

      Reply
    2. Utah

      And student loan deferment ends Oct 1. Only 1% of people are paying now, so we’ll see what happens when we all have to go back to paying student loans. I don’t think the economy is prepared for that. I decided to go back for my masters, so I have another year and a half before I have to start paying again. Hopefully I’ll have a bump in pay and I can afford doubling my debt.

      Reply
  12. The Rev Kev

    Working link for “Cuba and Haiti must find their own way forward” article at-

    https://www.ft.com/content/ecd11c0d-4853-44e5-a017-d276b1ac8e75

    It’s not going to happen. Too many agencies want those countries for their own. But the latest bogus campaign against Cuba is especially noteworthy in that we could see who stood where. So Alan Macleod from Mint Press News sent out a tweet showing how Fox News blanked out the signs of pro-government supporters in video clips. Did they think people would be so stupid so as not to notice those blank signs?

    https://twitter.com/AlanRMacLeod/status/1416713677378629636

    In a further tweet he noted how the New York Times had edited their past story to read thousands in one place alone instead of just hundreds. Another guy said that an image of a woman protesting for the government had her image used by the UN to say that she was protesting against the government, not for. When this Cuban woman called them out on Twitter, her account was suspended-

    https://twitter.com/OVargas52/status/1416356826145243137

    Seems that a lot of the tweets in support of the protests actually originated in Spain and were suspiciously similar in wording. AOC sent out a tweet in Spanish supporting the protestors but when she got hammered for this, deleted the tweet and put something up more anodyne. A rapper/singer called Pitbull called on Jeff Bezos to go into Cuba to help and apparently Ilhan Omar liked this video on Twitter. I thought that AOC & Omar are supposed to be socialists or something.

    Reply
    1. Bemildred

      The thing is that blurring out the signs is a tell, it indicates that they know they are lying, that they intend to decieve.

      Reply
  13. jsn

    timbers
    July 19, 2021 at 8:14 am
    Covid

    This is a rare instance in which a broad-based state capability has been conserved in the US: the ability of the state to evict ordinary people from their homes.

    Because so many people are being so systematically screwed in the pandemic, the state, or some small parts of it have chosen to forego screwing people for some period.

    The vaccines don’t have the formal approvals required to make them mandatory: they’ve been approved on an emergency basis. We’re apparently living through (those of us who make it) the final stage of the clinical trials. But with the irregular roll out, it’s not clear to me how one now normalizes the approvals so that vaccination could, as with all the ones I took as a child 50 odd years ago, be made mandatory.

    Reply
  14. The Rev Kev

    “UK reaffirms backing for Guaido as Venezuela president ahead of $1 bln gold case”

    Brought to you by the same government that has Julian Assange imprisoned and sailed a British warship into Russian waters. I can just see a government representative on the stand in a court of law giving their testimony now. So the solicitor would be asking him

    ‘Who controls the Venezuelan military?

    ‘The Maduro government.’

    ‘And the Police and the Courts, meaning the Judiciary?

    ‘The Maduro government.’

    ‘The Executive along with the Diplomatic Services?’

    ‘The Maduro government.’

    The Legislature?

    ‘The Maduro government.’

    ‘Who does the European Union recognize as the Government of Venezuela?’

    ‘The Maduro government.’

    ‘So who does the gold belong to?’

    ‘Why, President Greedo of course.’

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      Given that USians learned our imperialistic ways at Her Majesty’s knee seems only appropriate that mother England back us up when spanking Venezuela. We are “cousins” after all.

      Reply
    2. John

      Guaido is propped up by the US and UK whenever he is needed. How does anyone with self-respect sit still for this kind of treatment? Oh, this answer is obvious isn’t it.

      Reply
  15. Carolinian

    Re FT on robocars–the article seems to keep saying the same thing over and over, perhaps because its content boils down to a couple of paragraphs.

    TomTom’s Strijbosch argues that the Level 4 cars are “overfitted” with technology because they let costs run amok and need to make up for their small sample sizes. But even if ADAS data is less robust, it can be multiplied by a far greater number of real-world hours and eventually close the gap with Level 4 tech. “By the time we’ve driven so many billions of kilometres, in millions of vehicles that have this whole sensor set-up, all corner cases will have been captured,” he says.[..]

    Tech isn’t really the problem; societal acceptance is. Amnon Shashua, chief executive of Intel-owned Mobileye, points out that if a Level 4 system can get to a point of crashing only once every 1m miles — two times better than a human driver — that would risk massive reputational blowback.

    Or, to sum up, Waymo et al are chasing the wrong problem because even if their urban driving cars reduce accidents far below human driven frequency even one accident will destroy public trust (as was seen with the Phoenix Uber incident).

    And advanced freeway assist is the right problem and will soon be implemented by every car maker, bypassing Waymo.

    Of course from a car safety standpoint Waymo still may have been chasing the right problem because the vast majority of accidents likely happen during city driving, not on the freeway. Maybe those Waymo cars will even avoid running through stop signs the way everybody does around here. But FT only seems interested in the money angle and sounds like ADAS will indeed have that covered.

    Reply
  16. Sawdust

    Anyone else vaguely disappointed if the cardinality of the continuum is “only” Aleph-one? Perhaps someone who actually understands the relevant concepts can disabuse me.

    Reply
    1. Raymond Sim

      Is the Continuum Hypothesis in the news? Strange days.

      Personally, that our intuition of ‘many’ derived from counting might be rococo in a way that our similar intuition derived from measuring is not, is something I would describe as ‘cool’.

      Reply
    2. Mel

      :) What do you want it to be? Aleph.45,007? When you’re doing infinite math the difference between 1, well, 2 anyway and 45,007 is not worth thinking about.
      Me, I’m bothered by the forcing proof. It seems clear that if you do ℵ0 cuts, then you’ll leave out some of the continuum.
      But it’s not clear that if you do ℵ1 cuts you won’t get them all. ℵ1 would just be that big a number.
      But neither is it clear that ℵ1 is the kind of number you can use when you’re counting cuts.
      Mind, I don’t understand the issues, I only read David Foster Wallace’s book Everything and More.

      Reply
  17. Lee

    ‘Wembley variant’: England fans report soaring Covid cases after gathering for Euro 2020 final iNews. Anecdotal, but rather a lot of anecdotes.

    I watched that match and was so horrified by the closely packed, unmasked spectators in the stadium that even though I’m on the other side of the planet I put on a mask, fired up the home air filter and kept dousing my hands with rubbing alcohol. I exaggerate slightly.

    Reply
    1. curlydan

      I thought the same thing watching that match. Then I saw the Daily Mail’s photos of the lines headed into England’s/UK’s clubs this weekend. Is it any wonder that the UK is now leading the planet in COVID cases per capita?

      Reply
    2. Lou Anton

      We should just call the social experiment about to commence in England right now “The Wembley Variant.” Or “English Roulette.”

      Reply
  18. The Rev Kev

    Chester Cathedral
    @ChesterCath
    We thank you all for your feedback regarding an intention to ring the Cathedral bells tomorrow marking “Freedom Day”. We apologise sincerely for the insensitivity of this plan and for any upset cause. The bells will not ring tomorrow.

    Maybe Chester Cathedral rethought the idea of about sounding the bells in the middle of a pandemic rather than at the end. And as John Donne said in a sermon once-

    “And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

    Reply
  19. bob

    “By contrast, about two-thirds of the roughly 250 workers employed on a typical utility-scale solar project are lower-skilled, according to Anthony Prisco, the head of the renewable energy practice for the staffing firm Aerotek.”

    They are ikea Furniture assemblers. “put tab A in slot B” x 10,000

    Reply
  20. bob

    “But when a solar farm is built and owned by another company — typically a green energy upstart, a traditional energy giant or an investment firm like D.E. Shaw, the owner of Assembly Solar in Michigan — that company has every incentive to hold down costs.”

    They have every incentive to hold down costs, but no incentive to get more revenue. The snow in upstate NY this winter was thick and icy. It clung to the solar farm panels all winter long. They couldn’t, or didn’t need to, brush off the panels so that the sun could get to the panels. This went on for a few months, over a least 8 solar farms that I drove by often.

    Somehow they are still able to make money…

    Reply
    1. upstater

      Yes, huge utility scale PV lots covered with ice and snow for weeks here. Can’t imagine how you’d clean snow from 100 acres of panels. Snow easily begins to melt and disappears if only a few square centimeters on a panel are bare.

      I brush my panels in winter. My highest production is in March on cold, clear sunny days when snow is on the ground. 20% higher than this time of year. We seasonally adjust the pitch of the panels at the equinox.

      Reply
    2. Swamp Yankee

      One huge problem in my neck of the woods — no pun intended — is that perverse incentives plus greenwashing mean that globally rare forests (Atlantic coastal pine barrens) are being clear-cut, and then strip-mined of valuable sand and gravel, to build solar ‘farms’. A.D. Makepeace, local cranberry barons, largest private landowners in eastern Massachusetts, and all around enclosing aristocrats and bad actors (still a family owned, though not run, company — the Makepeaces famously shot striking Cape Verdean cranberry pickers during the great failed Cranberry Bog Strikes in the 1930s) are particularly bad with this, but it’s a problem all over this region and the country.

      Reply
  21. anonymous

    Human clinical trial on single-dose intranasal vaccine for COVID-19 begins July 26, according to local IA news channel KCRG. The vaccine, developed by the University of Iowa and the University of Georgia, uses parainfluenza virus 5 as the vector to encode the spike protein.
    Research article: https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/7/27/eabi5246
    U of I press release: https://medicine.uiowa.edu/content/inhaled-covid-19-vaccine-prevents-disease-and-transmission-animals
    CyanVac is the vaccine company in Georgia with the proprietary PIV5 vector; Exothera is the chosen manufacturer in Belgium; CVXGA1 is the name of the vaccine.
    https://www.contractpharma.com/content-microsite/covid-19/2021-03-25/cyanvac-and-exothera-enter-covid-19-vaccine-partnership
    Trial: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04954287 – will be tested in Kentucky; Rochester, NY; and Cincinnati, OH. Age cohorts will be 18-55 and 56-75 with low and high doses for each age group.
    Looks promising for both protection and for reduction in transmission.

    Reply
  22. fresno dan

    https://www.huffpost.com/entry/abdul-latif-nasser-transfer-guantanamo_n_60ef02eee4b0a771e7fff216
    Abdul Latif Nasser ― who was imprisoned without charge at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for 19 years ― was transferred to his home country of Morocco on Monday, making him the first detainee to be released from the infamous detention facility under President Joe Biden.

    Nasser, 56, was cleared for release by an interagency government review board back in 2016 and was expected to be sent home shortly after. But due to a series of bureaucratic delays, Nasser was not released from Guantanamo ahead of the inauguration of President Donald Trump, who reversed his predecessor’s efforts to depopulate the prison.
    ….
    The military’s assessments of Guantanamo detainees are notoriously unreliable. A Radiolab investigation found that much of the government’s claims about Nasser’s ties to terrorism lack convincing evidence. After years of reporting on Nasser’s case, Radiolab concluded that Nasser was likely a low-level or mid-level fighter who did not target civilians or kill Americans.
    ….
    Nasser, who has never been charged with a crime, has spent nearly two decades fighting for his freedom. He tried challenging the legality of his imprisonment in federal court, only to find that the courts were generally unwilling to provide basic due process rights to those detained at Guantanamo. *
    ==================================
    Poor guy – he (OK, his lawyers) actually believed this is a nation of laws, and that the courts are independent. OK, probably nobody really believes that BS, but I just get tried of it still being the US’s slogan…
    Of course, this all begins with believeing that you can have a war on drugs terrorism, and what follows from that. Funny how there hasn’t been victory in that war on cancer either. I am beginning to believe that when America declares war on something, you can bet we will lose…AMERICA! don’t declare war on ANYTHING!!!

    Reply
  23. Raymond Sim

    Hey guys, any of you ever been accused of inappropriate behavior, only to discover it would actually have been the right thing to do, but you didn’t, so you’re basically a dumbass who looked like he was doing the right thing, but really you would have been wrong to do it, because you didn’t know enough?

    I was recently accused of inappropriately singling out Alex Berenson for criticism, which led me to check out his twitter today. I don’t watch any of the news channels, so I can’t claim to be any sort of cognoscento of journalist-ish execrescence, but to me this guy actually seems special:

    https://twitter.com/AlexBerenson/status/1417111077184327682

    In just three sentences he packs in:

    a Racist Dogwhistle,

    Credentialism (!) and Hippie Punching (‘nutritionist’ doing double duty),

    an Irrelevant ad-hominem (ufo’s – isn’t Tucker into those too?),

    and combines them into a fact-free pseudo-debunking of outdoor transmission.

    Reply
    1. JBird4049

      Hey, we all make mistakes especially in this fact free sea of bull manure that we are trying not to drown in; my, Mr. Berenson is a master at drive by sliming.

      Reply
  24. enoughisenough

    lol “it seems odd” by Ezra Klein.

    It’s called “capitalism”, Ezra.

    It turns people into genocidal monsters for cash.

    It’s not that mysterious.

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Ezra like Tom Friedman only has 4 column types. This is his “if only the czar knew” column he spits out when people start to notice his water carrying. It lets the ignoramuses who read his tripe feel good about themselves.

      Reply
      1. Raymond Sim

        “If only the czar knew.”

        Oh dear me. Oh my goodness. So apt that I am burning with vicarious shame.

        Reply
  25. Tom Collins' Moscow Mule

    “It Seems Odd That We Would Just Let the World Burn”—-NYT—-Ezra Klein

    “Humanity has spent thousands of years building the social organizations and technological mastery to insulate itself from the whims of nature.”

    Or, the paean for the Anthropocene and the triumph of the rogue primate will to power, control, and dominance.

    At what cost? No cost if no value is attached to biodiversity and all value remains centered on the dominant rogue species and its “technological mastery”. Where, “Such rapid extinction timescales don’t occur at any other point in the last several million years (not since the non-avian dinosaurs were wiped out by an asteroid about 65 million years ago.) “The only time you see it is when humans are involved, which is really striking,” Smith said.”

    https://www.livescience.com/first-human-caused-animal-extinction.html

    “Technological mastery” in the age of the Anthropocene lacks both wisdom and moral imperative. Perhaps that is the defining feature of the primate that would be “God”, as the past perseverative behavioral patterns remain intact, unchanged, and unchanging.

    “In most major land habitats, from the savannas of Africa to the rain forests of South America, the average abundance of native plant and animal life has fallen by 20 percent or more, mainly over the past century. With the human population passing 7 billion, activities like farming, logging, poaching, fishing and mining are altering the natural world at a rate “unprecedented in human history.”

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/06/climate/biodiversity-extinction-united-nations.html

    The historical past suggests that it would seem odd that the collective “we” would not just let the world burn.

    Reply
  26. Susan the other

    Why you can use Bitcoin to swap for something, but not to “buy” it. This all sounds like it was written by Larry Summers – a lot of blablablah about a distinction without a difference. Money itself is a “token”. It is readily fungible. Can be used as a Unit of Account all by itself because it is widely accepted. Money can be exchanged for – as in an accountable exchange – for anything. And, like Bitcoin, the value of money fluctuates but unlike Bitcoin the margin for fluctuation is narrow. Bitcoin could be anywhere from here to the moon because it is not widely accepted. Nor is a box full of counterfeit bills. But if Bitcoin gradually becomes accepted it will eventually become fully fungible in some ratio to the dollar. The two could, for all practical purposes, be considered to be the same thing. Therein lies the danger to sovereign money. It doesn’t really matter that Bitcoin is a “token”. Everything is a token. Bitcoin is simply counterfeit money. By design, it is a private form of money usurping public money. But hey, people are just having fun with it so who cares? In fact, the MIC might think it is the best thing since sliced bread. Big party with fireworks.

    Reply
    1. Aumua

      Yeah he’s kind of saying because BTC isn’t widely accepted as a currency, that we don’t widely accept it as a currency.

      Reply
  27. flora

    Interesting conversation between Prof. Bhattacharya and Lord Sumption, retired UK Supreme Court Justice. ~ 1hr. Agree or disagree, it’s a well reasoned conversation, imo, unlike so much of the partisan political shouting I hear.

    A Conversation with Lord Sumption

    Editor-in-Chief, Jay Bhattacharya and Lord Sumption discuss the legal, ethical, and political implications of COVID-19 policy response.

    https://collateralglobal.org/article/a-conversation-with-lord-sumption/

    Reply
      1. Phillip Cross

        Jay Bhattacharya, The Hoover Institute’s professional wrongster.

        How many lives could have been saved if he just kept his mouth shut?

        Reply
      2. Count Zero

        I see Lord Sumption claims to be a historian and yet tells us that democracy is slightly more than 200 years old. In Britain at the beginning of the nineteenth-century the electorate was no more than 15% of men and, of course, included no women. The British electorate expanded slowly over the next hundred years but there were still men excluded as well as all women. Universal suffrage only happens in the 1920s. Other European nations had different timelines but I am not sure there were any that had universal suffrage before the end of the C19th. Maybe Scandinavian states were approaching universal suffrage by then? I don’t think France gave women the vote until 1945.

        Of course the franchise is just one index of democracy but it would seem pretty crucial. Note that C19th industrial capitalism was governed by undemocratic oligarchies. Victorian liberals in Britain, for instance, were not democrats. Democracy arose out of popular struggle, revolution and counter-revolution.

        Reply
        1. flora

          The same can be said for universal suffrage in the US. In ancient Greece, of course, most people could not vote – women, slaves, poors, the young, etc. I think universal suffrage wasn’t reached until the 1970’s (?) in Switzerland; that does not mean it wasn’t a democracy before the 1970s. Expanding the franchise has been the forward looking goal.

          Somewhere in the 1980’s democracy seems to go off track with the idea that markets are more important than voters, markets are “smarter” than voters, and it’s “market” interests that need representation and not voters interests.

          Reply
          1. flora

            adding: Time to recognized the failure of the neoliberal experiment to continue expanding the franchise and democratic representation of voters; it has only instead prioritized “the market” and great wealth. Neoliberalism is going backwards on democracy. my 2 cents.

            Reply
  28. Pelham

    Re antitrust lawyers counseling clients to avoid legal liability by hiding bad intentions: Aren’t lawyers officers of the court, obligating them to uphold the law? If so, shouldn’t these lawyers be defrocked, or whatever it is they do to lawyers to boot them out of the profession?

    Reply
  29. Carolinian

    That’s an important Stoller today about how anti-trust lawyers are trying to game the system and how the FTC may push back with a rule requiring prior approval of merger attempts. The article says such a rule existed for years but was deep sixed by–who else?–the Clinton administration. He felt their legal pain.

    Of course the real question is whether the Bidenistas are serious about anti-trust or just using it as a sword over the head of big tech and others they want to control. A recent Caitlin Johnstone talks about Biden’s demand that Facebook do a lot more censorship if they want to stay on his good side.

    Biden cynics breathlessly await the real world actions that will provide the answer to this question.

    Reply
      1. Carolinian

        From the article

        Next week, the FTC is going to vote on what looks like a bureaucratic and anodyne policy statement, to rescind the 1995 “Policy Statement on Prior Approval and Prior Notice Provisions in Merger Cases.” This item sounds super boring, but as the Capitol Forum wrote last week, antitrust defense lawyers are freaking out, with one saying it would represent an “incredible deterrent” to mergers.

        Here’s what this boring statement means. Today, if you try to violate merger law, the worst that happens is the merger doesn’t get through. And you can try again, as many firms do. Before 1995, however, corporations had to think twice before bringing a ridiculous merger attempt. If they did, the FTC could try and block them not just from the merger under dispute but from future mergers, saying that firms could no longer even try to engage in mergers without prior approval from the commission. Essentially, the FTC could tell a corporation, “You have gone too far, no more more mergers for you.” This dynamic created a disincentive to attempting obviously illegal mergers, because it meant trying to break the law actually brought a cost.

        Big business groups obviously hated the prior approval tool. So in 1995, Clinton FTC Chair Robert Pitofsky, under pressure from the new big business-friendly Republican majority Congress, decided to end the use of prior approval in merger cases. Soon, aggressive hospital chains, pharma giants, and industrial firms got out from under what had been restrictions on their ability to buy rivals and suppliers.

        The gist of the article is that frivolous merger attempts will no longer be allowed to be filed by lawyers on the theory that they might slip through and might as well give it a shot. Stoller says that Office Depot and Staples have tried to merge several times and it’s always summarily rejected.

        At least that’s what I got out of it.

        Reply
  30. trogg

    Just read an interesting article from Doug Henwood in Jacobin taking a critical view of liberal antitrust theory. “Behind antitrust is a faith in competition as a positive good,” he writes. It makes me recall what Michael Perelman pointed out in Railroading Economics, that competition is wasteful and destructive–a point worth considering. That said, Henwood’s closing paragraph just sounds naive to me since I don’t think the revolution is around the corner:

    Vincent Carosso ends his huge book on the Morgan banking family by quoting an unnamed socialist refusing to curse the peak Morgan, J. P., on his death: “We grieve that he could not live longer, to further organize the productive forces of the world, because he proved in practice what we hold in theory, that competition is not essential to trade and development.” It’s a sentiment worth recovering.

    Reply
  31. dk

    How Many Numbers Exist? Infinity Proof Moves Math Closer to an Answer. Quanta

    Some of these mathematicians sort of understand that they are asking questions about the actual nature of the universe within which their conjectures exist. But a quest for definitive answer (to infinity’s nature no less) is up against the nature of this universe, which is itself incomplete as long as time keeps passing.

    Hilbert wanted a yes-or-no conclusion, maybe that’s the wrong form to seek. Indefinition may be more valuable than an avaricious culture cares to admit to itself.

    Reply

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