2:00PM Water Cooler 8/12/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Quite the chorus!

* * *


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

Vaccination by region:

50.3% of the US is fully vaccinated, a big moment, breaking the psychological 50% barrier. Every day, a tenth of a percentage point upward. NOTE Except today!

Case count by United States regions:

As far as reaching the peak of January 8, 2021, with 295,257 cases per day … I’m not that pessimistic (modulo a new variant brought into the country by our ridiculously lax policies on international quarantines). What we might call, after Everest, the “First Step” (November 25, 2019) with 178,466 looks in striking distance, especially if the case count purple line continues go near vertical. When you look at those “rapid riser” counties on the CDC map, you’ve got to think this rise has a way to run. If things go on as they are, we should hit the first step just in time for Labor Day. But what do I know, I’m just a tape-watcher.

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

California and Texas speed up again.

NEW From CDC: “Community Profile Report August 11, 2021” (PDF), “Rapid Riser” counties, this release:

Some red to pink and pink to yellow out west. The rest of the county looks just as red to me. This map blows the “Blame Bubba” narrative out of the water. Not a banjo to be heard. Previous release:

(Red means getting worse, green means bad but getting better. This chart updates Tuesdays and Fridays, presumbly by end-of-day.)

Test positivity:

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

Hospitalization (CDC):

Here the CDC’s hospitalization visualization, from the source above:

More red now, still in the South.

Deaths (Our World in Data):

Deaths definitively rising, although nowhere near meriting an anti-triumphalist black line, being an order of magnitude less than there were at peak. (Adding: I know the data is bad. This is the United States. But according to The Narrative, deaths shouldn’t have been going up at all. Directionally, this is quite concerning.)

Covid cases worldwide:

Every region is trending up. US sphere of influence under the Monroe Doctrine not doing so well.

* * *


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

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

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

Biden Administration

So this is the outcome of last summer’s uprising, good job:

A-a-a-a-n-d so much for Cory Booker:

“EXCLUSIVE: ‘The Russians have videos of me doing crazy f***ing sex!’ Hunter Biden is seen in unearthed footage telling prostitute that Russian drug dealers stole ANOTHER of his laptops” [Daily Mail]. • That Hunter. What a loveable scamp!


“Road Map to Redistricting 2021-2022” [Cook Political Report].

Thanks for 2010, Obama, good job. Lordie, has it really been eleven years….

“DNC members grow frustrated over increasing White House influence” [The Hill]. ““People are super frustrated in the trenches around what’s happening with the DNC and the White House’s control of it,” said a DNC member, who asked to speak on the condition of anonymity to candidly discuss the internal dynamics at play. ‘The White House is not thinking about how to build the electorate writ large, but they’re concentrating on [a] few states,’ the source said. ‘It’s all about [the] presidential reelect.’ The strong footprint from Biden’s inner circle is becoming an annoyance for some within the DNC structure who argue the White House is attempting to mount a reelection effort at a time when state members are trying to build an infrastructure to last well beyond the next presidential cycle.” • Lol, what a hoot. The DNC has never tried to do that. I would bet this is DNC consultants ticked off because they can’t bill the White House.

Realignment and Legitimacy

Business as usual:

UPDATE “Blue Dogs Seek to Delay Democratic Budget Plan After Their PAC Takes Millions From Corporate America” [Brick House]. “Both the Blue Dogs and New Dems have PACs that raise millions of dollars every cycle from hundreds of corporate PACs, then send maximum donations of $10,000 back out to their members and more business-friendly Democratic House candidates, sometimes helping Democrats like Golden dodge a pledge not to accept corporate PAC contributions. Members of the Blue Dogs and Problem Solvers are also bolstered in their careers by outside spending in their races by caucus groups that raise large donations from business interests. The Blue Dogs have been affiliated with a nonprofit, Center Forward, that has a super PAC that takes in millions in large donations from pharmaceutical companies and spends millions on ads to help re-elect the coalition’s members. The Problem Solvers Caucus was founded by the organization No Labels, which according to records reviewed by The Daily Beast has been funded by Republican megadonors like David Koch and Home Depot founder Ken Langone, as well as by hedge fund and private equity moguls. No Labels’ super PAC spent over $3.7 million in the 2018 election cycle supporting Democratic candidates, according to OpenSecrets.”

“Rand Paul discloses 16 months late that his wife bought stock in company behind covid treatment” [WaPo]. “Sen. Rand Paul revealed Wednesday that his wife bought stock in Gilead Sciences — which makes an antiviral drug used to treat covid-19 — on Feb. 26, 2020, before the threat from the coronavirus was fully understood by the public and before it was classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organization.” • No wonder Paul hates Fauci. Fauci ramped Gilead’s stock over remdesivir, and his wife lost money on the deal.

“‘Who Are They Paying Secretly Now?’: Signs Of UAE Meddling In U.S. Politics Go Ignored” [HuffPost]. “On July 20, federal prosecutors accused the United Arab Emirates of infiltrating Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign by using his adviser Tom Barrack as an agent. The new charges suggested that the wealthy Persian Gulf monarchy interfered in the 2016 election to a stunning degree: The Justice Department was already prosecuting a group of men for allegedly funneling over $3.5 million from UAE royal adviser George Nader to Trump’s rival, Hillary Clinton. According to law enforcement, one of America’s closest Middle East partners played both sides in one of the most consequential contests in U.S. history ― breaking the law and undermining democracy…. But despite growing suggestions of UAE election interference and cases targeting American citizens like Barrack and Nader, the Emiratis appear to have avoided any consequences or any pressure that would deter similar schemes in the future.” • Ka-Ching.

* * *

“Whither the Cuomosexual?” [New York Magazine]. “[R]ecall the stan culture that once enfolded Cuomo. As the pandemic crested in New York, his regular press briefings attracted a national audience, and the governor built an unexpectedly enthusiastic, sometimes worshipful fan base. Comedian Randy Rainbow dubbed himself a ‘Cuomosexual’ in a Youtube video that has been viewed over 2 million frightening times. Like the namesake, the Cuomosexual now faces a reckoning. On Instagram, the fashion brand Lingua Franca announced that it would update its ‘Cuomosexual’ and ‘Cuomo for President’ sweaters for anyone who asks. The former sold for $400: an expensive embarrassment.” Update to what? Mueller? Fauci? Walensky? Biden? Harris?

“What is ranked choice voting? A political scientist explains” [The Conversation]. “Although it was new for New Yorkers this summer, Australians have been using ranked choice voting, which they call “preferential voting,” for more than 100 years to elect members to their House of Representatives.” • After listening to enough Clarke and Dawe, I think RCV may be a good thing, but I wouldn’t expect too much:

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “07 August 2021 Initial Unemployment Claims Rolling Average Marginally Worsens” [Econintersect]. “Market expectations for weekly initial unemployment claims (from Econoday) were 365 K to 393 K (consensus 378 K), and the Department of Labor reported 375,000 new claims. The more important (because of the volatility in the weekly reported claims and seasonality errors in adjusting the data) 4 week moving average moved from 394,500 (reported last week as 394,000) to 396,250.”

Inflation: “July 2021 Producer Price Final Demand Inflation Continues To Heat Up” [Econintersect]. “The Producer Price Index (PPI) year-over-year inflation increased from +7.3 % to +7.8 %…. The PPI represents inflation pressure (or lack thereof) that migrates into consumer price.”

Coincident Indicators: “07 August 2021 New York Fed Weekly Economic Index (WEI): Index Declines” [Econintersect]. “The New York Fed’s Weekly Leading Index (WLI) declined this past week. This index’s trend is worsening based on the 13-week rolling average…. This data set should be considered a high-frequency coincident indicator…. The WEI is an index of ten daily and weekly indicators of real economic activity scaled to align with the four-quarter GDP growth rate.”

* * *

Commodities: “EXCLUSIVE Exxon, Chevron look to make renewable fuels without costly refinery upgrades -sources” [Reuters]. “The companies are looking into how to process bio-based feedstocks like vegetable oils and partially-processed biofuels with petroleum distillates to make renewable diesel, sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and renewable gasoline, without meaningfully increasing capital spending.”

The Bezzle:

As I wrote yesterday: “Unprofitable as a firm, Uber could — I don’t know how to do the math on this — be profitable for the capitalist class taken as a whole; destroying public transportation but more importantly legalizing new forms of exploitation by creating the new class of gig workers (which we should all be, right?).” So a real economist just said the same thing in politer language. Interesting!

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 42 Fear (previous close: 39 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 34 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 12 at 1:00pm.

The Biosphere

“Scientists are sending a 500-million-year-old brainless ‘Blob’ that can think into space” [EuroNews]. “Meet ‘Blob,’ an unclassifiable organism that will fly into orbit on Tuesday to be the subject of an educational experience organised by French astronaut Thomas Pesquet…. Better known as “slime mould,” Blob appeared on Earth over 500 million years ago, way before animals began colonising the land…. Blob, or Physarum polycephalum as it is known, is made up of only one cell and several nuclei. A spongy yellow mass in appearance, it is devoid of a mouth, brain and legs. And yet it eats, grows, moves (albeit very slowly), and has amazing learning abilities…. ‘When most organisms use two sexual types, the blob has more than 720! It is an organism which tells us that life is made of a multitude of original features,’ the professor added.” • Who can forget Lord Running Clam, the slime-mold character in Philip K. Dick’s Clans of the Alphane Moon?

Health Care

“Don’t Panic, But Breakthrough Cases May Be a Bigger Problem Than You’ve Been Told” [Benjamin Wallace-Wells, New York Magazine]. The desk: “Current public-health messaging may understate the scale and risk.” Hard to believe the Administration would screw up Covid messaging, but here we are. Fire up the espresso machine for this one, it’s worth it. Picking out some important numbers:

Unfortunately, more accurate month-to-month data is hard to assemble — because the CDC stopped tracking most breakthrough cases in early May, before the Delta wave had begun, and the states maintaining their own databases often update them irregularly and, in some cases, according to idiosyncratic logic — but over the last week, I’ve tried. And while several states show prevalence rates roughly in line with Kaiser’s ballpark one percent estimate (in Virginia, for instance, breakthroughs represent 2.3 percent of new cases and 5.2 percent of deaths), in others the patterns were divergent. In Delaware, between July 1 and July 22, “breakthrough” cases were 13.8 percent of the total. In Michigan, between June 15 and July 30, the figure was 19.1 percent. In Utah, 8 percent of new cases were breakthroughs in early June, but by late July, as Delta grew, the share grew, too, to 20 percent (even while the total number of cases almost doubled). According to those leaked CDC documents, there were, as of late last month, 35,000 symptomatic breakthrough cases being recorded each week — about 10 percent of the country’s total. Presumably many more breakthrough cases were asymptomatic, which would drive the share up further.

…But the piecemeal data does begin to tell you something, suggesting that breakthrough cases represent a bigger share of disease spread, particularly in the ongoing Delta wave, than has been widely acknowledged — perhaps, overall, somewhere in the range of 5 to 20 percent of current cases, rather than the 0 to 5 percent range. When I ran these figures by Topol, he said, “I think the numbers are right on, and I think they’ve clearly been getting worse as Delta became fully dominant, now approaching 100 percent of all U.S. infections.”

And that’s before we get to the long interview with Harvard’s Michael Mina:

[MINA:] Many people have tried to stay in line with the official public-health message — whether that’s because they don’t have enough confidence in their own understanding of how the virus works or if it’s because they want to stay consistent with the public-health message of the country, I don’t know. It’s never been clear to me why. I think everyone has their own reasons for not being willing to be a little bit more outspoken during this, particularly given that the official message has often been weeks or months behind the virus. But I think the message that breakthrough cases are exceedingly rare and that you don’t have to worry about them if you’re vaccinated — that this is only an epidemic of the unvaccinated — that message is falling flat. If this was still Alpha, sure. But with Delta, plenty of people are getting sick. Plenty of transmission is going on. And my personal opinion is that the whole notion of herd immunity from two vaccine doses is flying out the window very quickly with this new variant. And it’s probably going to fly out the window even more quickly with the variants to come.

“Plenty of people are getting sick.” As I thought Yves remarked, but cannot find, word of mouth counts. I hope readers will take time over this one and give responses. NC may well return to it.

“You may need a better mask for Covid-19 variants and Wildfires” [Patient Knowhow (Verifyfirst)]. ” Below are a short list of off-the-shelf options you can purchase online as well as a number of new mask designs that push the envelope in these dimensions. Please also see notes on testing and valves below.” • Very interesting! The page on how to do research is also interesting.

“A Tiny Hospital in Texas Might Help Solve the Mask Shortage” [Elemental (Verifyfirst)]. “[A]t the Texas Center for Infectious Disease (TCID), staff receive a special mask on the first day of their orientation — it’s theirs to keep and maintain throughout the year. The mask, known as an elastomeric respirator, is made of durable plastic and has a facepiece that goes over the mouth and nose attached to two cartridge filters that attach on the left and right sides…. The durable masks given to hospital workers at TCID are called North 7700 respirators and they’re much more effective than N95 masks. Unlike N95 masks, which filter 95% of particles larger than 0.3 microns in diameter, the P100 cartridges used in the North 7700 masks at the Texas hospitals filter out 99.97% of particles. In fact, there is a strict policy against wearing N95s at the hospital unless you are a visitor.” • Kinda like Darth Vader; there should be a fashion forward version. This is from 2020, so I’d be interested in hearing what readers have to say. One of the frustrating things for me about Delta is that there seems to be little I can do to up my game (I’m already pretty socially isolated, being an introvert). However, a greatly improved mask might be one such thing.

Our Famously Free Press

“New York Times Puts Newsletters Behind Paywall to Boost Subscribers” [Bloomberg]. “New York Times Co. is putting 18 newsletters behind a paywall, going toe to toe with rival offerings from Twitter, Facebook and Substack Inc. in an effort to boost subscribers. The subscriber-only emails will be a mix of new and existing newsletters written by Times journalists and contributors in its news and opinion sections. They’ll focus on a range of topics, including politics, technology, religion, economics, health and lifestyle… The company leads the newspaper industry, with more than 8 million total subscriptions. But growth has begun to slow after a record 2020 driven by a chaotic news cycle.” • They need Trump back so bad. And then of course:


Journals like NEJM. JAMA, The Lancet, Nature, and Science — to name a few — have moved their Covid content outside the paywall. Not so the more prestigious Times!

The 420

“An inconvenient truth (about weed)” [Politico]. “America’s patchwork approach to legalizing weed has helped make cannabis cultivation one of the most energy-intensive crops in the nation. And as states increasingly embrace marijuana, a growing source of greenhouse gases is going essentially unnoticed by climate hawks on Capitol Hill. Nationally, 80 percent of cannabis is cultivated indoors with sophisticated lighting and environmental controls designed to maximize the plant’s yield. It’s a setup that can consume up to 2,000 watts of electricity per square meter, 40 times what it takes for leafy greens like lettuce, when grown indoors. ‘For being such a ‘green’ industry, there’s some skeletons in the closet,” said Kaitlin Urso, an environmental consultant with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Despite piecemeal attempts by states and some growers to reduce their power consumption, at least one expert estimates the industry’s footprint already accounts for more than 1 percent of U.S. electricity consumption and continues to rise. Complicating matters further, federal laws also bar the flow of weed over state lines. That requires companies to grow cannabis in each state where they want to do business and deprives them of the scale that makes other industries more efficient.” • Being a petty bourgeois utopian, I always figured people could just grow it themselves. Oh well.

Zeitgeist Watch

UPDATE “The case against crisis-mongering” [Matt Yglesias, Slow Boring]. “What would be interesting and useful is reporting and analysis on how to solve significant practical problems in the policy domain. But to get there, everyone needs to chill out a bit.” • Well… Yglesias is getting dogpiled for this. There’s not a whole lot for me to agree with here, but I do agree that “mongering” is not helpful.

Class Warfare

“Elite Feminists Ran Cover for Andrew Cuomo” [Jacobin]. “The New York Times reported that Tina Tchen, the chief executive of Time’s Up, was also among those who reviewed the anti-[accuser Lindsey] Boylan letter for Cuomo. Tchen, former chief of staff to Michelle Obama, has since clarified on Twitter that Kaplan did consult with her about the letter by phone and that her advice was, ‘No survivor should be attacked and the truth should be told.’ She has in some statements claimed not to remember much about these conversations, almost certainly a lie. She also tweeted that she’s ‘furious that the Governor used me and Time’s Up as a justification for their defense.’ However, a statement by Time’s Up seemed to acknowledge that an organization in which any of this would happen has a giant problem: ‘We are looking within,’ it read. That moment of introspection comes not a moment too soon. Hilary Rosen, a board member of Time’s Up — and a music industry lawyer who made her career on finding ways to use the carceral state against ordinary music listeners back in the file-sharing days — described the outrage against Time’s Up as an example of the principle that ‘no good deed goes unpunished,’ claiming that [Roberta Kaplan, chair of Time’s Up] and Tchen had simply advised Cuomo’s office to tell the truth and not to attack the accuser. Even if that were true, giving Cuomo that advice would still amount to helping the abusive boss, since it would not have been in the governor’s best interest to publish an angry letter defaming Lindsey Boylan. However, Tish James’s report casts doubt on Tchen’s account: that the two had suggested removing a reference to Boylan’s interactions with male staffers but had said that otherwise the letter ‘was fine.'” • They ran interference for The Big Dog, so why wouldn’t they run interference for Ratface Andy?

News of the Wired

“The importance of Taleb’s system” [Branko Milanovic, Global Inequality and More]. I don’t know if Taleb has blessed this, but in the absence of any thunderbolts from the mountainstop, this layperson finds it a useful translation. “Like Moliere’s Mr. Jourdain we have become Gaussian without thinking or knowing that we are. This can have nefarious consequences. Take an example that Taleb mentions. The distribution of personal weight is Gaussian; thus when we build elevators that carry people we can at most assume that there may be, at any given time, (say) eight persons weighting 250 pounds each in the elevator. Let us add another 1000 pounds for safety and we can be pretty confident that an elevator that can handle 3000 pounds will be safe. But then suppose we are constructing a flood dyke. Flood levels are not normally distributed. Moreover even the last highest flood value does not guarantee that the following flood cannot be worse…. These are the phenomena where the averages carry very little informational content.” • Phenomena like pandemics. Or climate change.


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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (diptherio):

diptherio writes: “Here’s some lovely grass from my soaking spot on the Flathead, making a go of things despite being inundated by the rising river for a couple of weeks now. May we all show such resolve!”

Also, alert reader Larry Y brings INaturalist to our attention: “iNaturalist helps you identify the plants and animals around you. Get connected with a community of over a million scientists and naturalists who can help you learn more about nature! What’s more, by recording and sharing your observations, you’ll create research quality data for scientists working to better understand and protect nature.” I note the presence of National Geographic and a “Stakeholder Engagement Strategist,” so I wish it were wholly academic, but maybe it’s OK.

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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. antidlc

    EU looking into new possible side-effects of mRNA COVID-19 shots

    Three new conditions reported by a small number of people after vaccination with COVID-19 shots from Pfizer (PFE.N) and Moderna (MRNA.O) are being studied to assess if they may be possible side-effects, Europe’s drugs regulator said on Wednesday.

    Erythema multiforme, a form of allergic skin reaction; glomerulonephritis or kidney inflammation; and nephrotic syndrome, a renal disorder characterised by heavy urinary protein losses, are being studied by the safety committee of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), according to the regulator.

    It disclosed the new assessments as part of routine updates to the safety section of all authorised vaccines’ database and added menstrual disorders as a condition it was studying for vaccines, including those from AstraZeneca (AZN.L) and J&J (JNJ.N), after the EMA’s update last week.

  2. AE90

    Just posting here to relate a masking tidbit–I was at Walgreens this afternoon and everyone was masked up, including staff. This was not true a couple of days ago, and I don’t see any reinstated mask mandate from the State of VT. I can’t wait to see what the people in the Shaw’s are doing now. They are the most bare-faced in town normally. Cases in 22-29 age group have exploded here in the past two weeks.

    type set on Italic?

    1. Jen

      Interesting. I’m the NH side of the NH/VT border. So far still seeing way more masks in NH than VT.

  3. fresno dan

    So I got out of the hospital yesterday. But it occurs to me that my problems and observations are not really related to NC posts, and that I have no right to impose my observations on people. So I leave it to the moderators and Lambert to tell me if my posts on medicine are relevant and welcome at this site.
    see July 13, 2021 8:34 am

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Have at it! Other people have certainly discussed their hospital stays; I for one would like to hear. (Presumably you won’t be practicing medicine, but I’ve certainly discussed dental work without practicing dentistry!)

      1. Carla

        Chiming in — the patient’s perspective and experience are certainly relevant to many of us!

    2. fresno dan

      Fresno Dan’s hospital adventure
      see July 13, 2021 at 8:34 for background
      So I have been having some atrial “flutter” problems (apparently, atrial fibrilation and atrial flutter are irregular heart beats of the atrium, but different). I had gotten myself a cardiologist, had more cardiac tests, and was scheduled for a consultation on August 18, 2021. My condition had been declining for a while, and it declined preciptiously. Finally, on Saturday, August 7 I was gasping for air just sitting in my chair. I decided that discretion was the better part of valor and I drove to the emergency room of Saint Agnes hospital in Fresno. (I was afraid I would not be able to speak if I called an ambulance).

      I arrived at the hospital at 10:30 pm, which is a very bad time for admittance to a hospital, but a great time for observing a hospital emergency room. The hospital doesn’t pay too much attention to HIPAA (patient privacy law). The triage “room” was three sided, and so stuffed with …stuff that the patients were essentially sitting out the open end. I could hear what they had to say to the triage – well, I know he wasn’t a physician or registered nurse. Maybe physician’s assitant? So there was this 13,14,15 year old girl who had been in a serious car accident 9 years ealier, suffered traumatic brain injury (they were sitting next to me with an empty chair between us, and the girl seemed able to hold a normal conversation). She had also lost her colon, 2 feet of ilium and a host of other injuries. No matter how bad you think you got it, there are others far, far, FAR worse off.
      So after a mere 4 hours, my turn to see the triage guy. The female RN asked a few questions, and the triage guy listened to my heart and admitted* me forthwith.
      You may think being in a hospital bed in a hospital emergency room means you have been admitted to a hospital – and you would be wrong. Other than letting medicare and insurance companies weasel out of paying for you hospital stay, what could possibly be the distinction for this arbitrary and capricious payment rule? Absurd, ridiculous, and despicable.
      So I got to sit in the emergency examination room for about 12 hours. I got treated with IV cardizem – and it was like a miracle. I could at least breath normally. Hooked up to a heart montior, I amused myself by trying to control my pulse rate. It had intially been 140, but after the IV I was able to think it down to 70. It had tendency to want to be at 90. And I could observe the emergency room nurses in action – whatever they pay them, IT AIN’T ENOUGH. There was an 83 old woman with dementia next to me, and the male nurse had the patience of a saint. He handled his duties with compassion, expertise, total aplomb, and humor. Not to mention all the other minor and major emergencies.
      So seeing that the IV cardizem worked so well, they decided to take me off that to torture me. Or maybe to see how I would do on pill form of the drug. Not nearly as well, but I could still breath. Finally, around 4 pm Sunday I was transferred to a semi private room. My roomate was a young black man who had been shot 6 months prior in the hip, leg, and foot, in for some follow up. He said he had been the victim of mistaken identiy (I overheard him talking to someone else – a housekeeping woman I believe). I introduced myself when I had to get up to go the bathroom and his bed was next to the bathroom. He was very courteous and respectful – and I don’t think it was an act.

      So after about 3 hours in this room, I was transferred to the ?cardiac intevention ward? to a single person room. I got an IV of some different drugs and a portable heart monitor was attached. A hospitalist had seen me in the emergency room, as well as a cardiologist. Now, this cardiologist in the emergency room seemed to think the most important thing was to stick with one cardiologist – no mid stream switching of cardiologists, or too many cariologists spoil the patient (I should stick with the cardiologist I was being assigned to in the hospital – ABC – always be closing ) Now another cardiologist saw me in this ward, and he seemed most concerned about taking away business from my present cardiologist. He was to be the guy to do the ablation should I decide on that. I decided to go with ablation – I had a friend who had had it done and he was a pretty smart guy. I did not want to leave the hospital dependent on the pill form of cardizem. Maybe if I had started earlier in getting a cardologist I would have more time to ponder my options, but I just wanted to breathe. They gave me a shot of heparin, so I would have nice contrasting purple sploches for all the places they poked me…
      They also did a covid test on me where the stick the swab up your nose into your brain (I am kidding about sticking it into your brain). They found no covid, and I am pretty sure they would have found no brain if they had stuck the swab up further.
      So I was scheduled for the ablation procedure on Monday at 4 pm. Which came and went. So I was scheduled for Tuesday at 11:30. Some physical therapists took me for a walk, where they discovered that any exertion what so ever raised my heart rate. I was put back on cardizem IV.
      I was put under for the procedure, and had some of the most realistic and coherent hallucinations I have every had. The worst part was the four hours after the procedure that one has to lay flat without moving so your groin incison can clot.
      So Wednesday arrived, and around 4 pm they figured out I was beginning to stink and I should leave. The nurses no longer give sponge bathes – you have to do it your self. As I had IV’s in both arms, and my chest was plastered with cardiac monitor patches, I did an abysmal job of self cleaning.
      Soooo…two days since procedure. When sitting I can breathe, but still the most mild exertion leaves me winded. I see the cardiologist who apparently did the procedure tomorrow.
      This is also my first hospitalization under Medicare Part A (I don’t have Part B, I kept my Federal retiree health insurance) so I will be very interested in the costs and reimbursements. As I was in longer than the 2 midnight rule, medicare should pay 80% – but we shall see….

      1. Carla

        Fresno Dan — thank you so much for sharing your experience… I am always grateful when you do! Keep sitting and breathing until you see the cardiologist, is my unsolicited advice.

        And do keep us posted!

        1. fresno dan

          August 12, 2021 at 8:31 pm
          thank you for the kind words. I think people may be interested in what the cost is, how much medicare part A paid, and what amount Blue Cross Blue shield covered.

          1. The Rev Kev

            You forgot the part about the sign above the hospital doors saying ‘Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here.’

            Must have been very frightening not being able to breath. Would have been a bit like those Coronavirus patients and what they have to deal with. I would have panicked. Keep us posted on how things go. And good luck with you meeting your cardiologist tomorrow.

            And if nurses no longer have time to do sponge baths, next time you should suggest to them that they load up a bunch of you on a flat-bed truck and take you through a car wash instead.

      2. Twylah

        Thank you for taking the time to share your story FD! my mom (a young 80) had an ablation for afib in October and is doing great, she’s on sotelol (sp?) now and has had to slow down a bit. Best wishes from both of us for a quick recovery!

        1. Elizabeth

          Thank you FD for sharing your experience in the hosp. About 4 years I had a bout of pneumonia which triggered an A-fib. Other than a racing heart, I was walking around, (but short of breath due to pneumonia). I didn’t feel dizzy, faint or anything – docs brought ti down with an IV of something (same thing you had). I was put on some medication for a couple of months, but never had any other problems after the pneumonia cleared up. I have a couple of friends who had ablation and they’re doing fine. Best wishes to you and good health.

      3. Terry Flynn

        Sounding promising for recovery so fingers crossed! It’s interesting how ablation varies by country (as I mentioned last time regarding UK vs Australia). Of course your problem (atrium) not identical to what mine was (top of ventricle) so the ablation procedure is no doubt different.

        I couldn’t be under for mine since they had to induce “the problem” to map it.That necessitated just a bit of local anaesthetic in the groin. Then I had to stay still during mapping and zapping. As I’m sure you found, staying still is surprisingly difficult for hours. Keep us posted.

      4. farmboy

        I feel you Dan, I had open heart surgery for aortic valve replacement in 2013. Cardiologist said I would feel so much better, but wait a minute I didn’t I felt too bad to start with. They gave me Amiodarone that requires special, separate training to prescribe and metropolol. After discharge and 2 weeks at my brothers in town, I drove myself home and told the doc i wouldn’t take metropolol, made me listless. Get occasional afib, but breathing exercises always handle it for me, kinda like training unconscious, muscle actions. Will get a drop in valve when necessary, but otherwise staying as far away from hospitals as possible, naturopath and energy medicine for follow up. keep breathing man!

  4. Raymond Sim

    Re: Plenty of (vaccinated) people are gettting sick.

    This was to be expected. The known characteristics of the virus made this by far the most probable outcome of carrying out the vaccination campaign while allowing ongoing high rates of transmission. Even without all the other bad policy this is where we were headed.

    I am not a genius or clairvoyant, but I knew this months ago, because the information is there to be had via Google and Twitter (for God’s sake.)

    I do have a background in math, and that does give me some degree of insight into the methodology of predicting the evolution of the pandemic. In my opinion anyone with data from a proper Covid survellance program, and the resources of a state governer (i.e. the ability to get people at your state university to return your calls) is in a position to know very consistently where we will be three weeks in advance. A one-week prediction that failed outside the anticipated margin of error would warrant immediate action, notification of the public at the very least.

    1. John k

      Really hard to tell how much the surge is on account delta more contagious, and how much bc vaccine fading effectiveness. Imo both, in which case might get pretty big wave. If hospitals had been proactive they woulda staffed up, damn the cost…

      1. Raymond Sim

        If the variants currently circulating weren’t evading the vaccines the current wave would almost certainly have a noticeably different character – at least until vaccine-evading variants emerged.

        If vaccine-evasion had failed to emerge under the conditions prevailing in the US I would regard it as probable divine providence.

    2. Mikel

      Actually, we need to know the stock trades of Congress and the Senate and their spouses for our pandemic predictions.

    3. Amfortas the hippie

      aye. I’m very disappointed in the current state of chaos and contradiction in covid reporting.
      not surprised, mind you, but disappointed.
      probably easier to just act like it’s never going away, and that the vaccines i lobbied my bunch so hard for are not nearly as awesome as advertised.
      i’ll likely be wearing a mask from here on out when i go among the herd.

      a question, though: are there more, potentially more effective(and non-gee-whiz experimental) ,vaccines in the pipeline for the us…or are we gonna stick with the newfangled ones were doing now?
      I’d run off to cuba for a jab tomorrow if i had the wherewithal…i trust them much more than i trust pfizer, et alia.
      a giant legitimacy crisis is a bad comorbidity for a pandemic.

      1. Raymond Sim

        This guy: https://twitter.com/fitterhappierAJ who is very much not to everybody’s taste, but has relevant expertise, and whose prognostications are typically decried as overly pessimistic, seems to think the long-term prospects for a means of genuine immunisation are good.

  5. ChrisFromGeorgia

    looks like a bug or malformed html in the website – left an unclosed italics tag.


  6. voislav

    On breakthrough cases, I’d be interested to see how do they breakdown by vaccine administered. We know that J&J, for example, is only borderline effective (~50%), so it would result in higher number of breakthrough cases than mRNA vaccines, which are 90% effective.

    1. Shane

      Uhh, do you have evidence to back up that claim?? Because the most recent thing I saw was that the J&J one was better at protecting against the Delta variant.

      1. voislav

        Well, official CDC trial effectiveness was 66% against infection and no hospitalizations (implying 95%+ effectiveness against hospitalizations). Both WSJ and NYT article (see comment below) states that it’s 71% effective against hospitalization from delta variant, implying a much larger drop in effectiveness against infection.

        By comparison, Moderna effectiveness against infection for the delta variant is estimated at 75%, although the Phizer one is down to 40% (https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/moderna-may-be-superior-pfizer-against-delta-breakthrough-odds-rise-with-time-2021-08-09/).

        The confusion is probably due to use of different measures of effectiveness, infection vs. hospitalization.

        1. chris

          There are many others on here can speak to this. The data you’re referring to does not say what you think it does in this context.

          With respect to the efficacy data for the vaccines, ignoring all differences in the studies supporting the EUAs for each vaccine, the populations that were exposed to COVID at the time Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J were different. So you really cut compare the results of one to another easily. But now that we’re outside of the studies, we’re dealing with effectiveness in the real world, and not efficacy during the study. And that data shows J&J is doing great.

          With respect to your question about breaking out which vaccine is involved with which case of post-vaccinated infection, I don’t think we have that data. The CDC isn’t really collecting enough data on infections to begin with. Who knows if they’ve gone one step further with any assessment of each case and can share that information too?

    2. Duke of Prunes

      If you are vaccinated, the CDC doesn’t care about your infection until you’re hospitalized… and you’re asking for cases broken down by vaccine… if only!

    3. Mikel

      Alpha, Beta, & Delta….

      The figures in one of the reports for J&J was better for Delta than one of the other two.
      8 months potency time for their vax according to their head of research. They don’t have to figure it out. But different still for different people.

      And there needs to be more information about WHEN the breakthroughs were vaccinated.

      The elderly and immune compromised were vaccinated first and that could be a good reason why they can keep saying it’s only them that need boosters. They aren’t giving people the information they need to plan. They expect everybody to jump and jack themselves up with experimental drugs at the snap of a finger. If something goes wrong: you’re just an outlier statistic as far as they are concerned for as long as they can say that.

      They haven’t tested long term effects of multiple mRNA (Moderna & Pfizer) shots year after year. THis is an experiment being done on the public.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        The elderly and immune compromised were vaccinated first…

        As were “healthcare” providers. You have to wonder if breakthrough infections in that group has anything to do with the constant laments of short-staffing / overwork.

  7. Shane

    Not well known, but this isn’t NYC’s first use of ranked choice voting. The Ranked Choice Voting Resource Center provides a good history of its implementation worldwide. NYC used it for its schoolboard and city council elections in 1936, and a number of other cities in America adopted it around this time.

    However, it was ultimately repealed at most for various reasons, but mostly it boils down to: it was a threat to the establishment. Specifically, in NYC, a communist was elected to the city council, which, despite it being a democratic choice, was “obviously unacceptable*. And in Cleveland, the first Black person elected to the city council, who would eventually become their first Black mayor, threatened the white power structure in the city. So in its two highest profile cases in the early adoption phase, it was a fear of the Left and equality for people of color which tanked this idea.

    I’m glad that it has picked up more recently.

    1. Terry Flynn

      Whilst I haven’t had time to check those refs I can believe this happened. Certain “challengers to the establishment” can get elected much more easily. However see my comment below regarding how RCV can be necessary but not sufficient……elimination of gerrymandering etc can be at least as important.

      Plus, in line with my comment below, RCV can raise up the “challenger” who many hate (Trump).

    2. Carla

      Shane, I’m afraid some of your information about Cleveland is incorrect. Carl B. Stokes was the first African American mayor not just of Cleveland, but of any American city, and I remember his election well. He did not serve on City Council prior to being elected mayor, but rather in the Ohio House of Representatives for 3 terms:

      I don’t know whether Cleveland ever dabbled in ranked choice voting, but a quick search of the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History, the gold standard source, doesn’t yield anything, so I doubt it.

  8. Danny

    What is rank choice voting?
    A disaster that allows dangerous political mediocrities to be elected. Witness this:

    “In 2020, the San Francisco Police Department presented 6,333 felonies to newly elected district attorney Chesa Boudin’s office for prosecution. Since taking office Jan. 1, 2020 through March 1, 2021, Boudin has tried just 23 cases resulting in 16 convictions, including four assaults (three convictions); one auto burglary, one residential burglary, one gun felony (no conviction); three sexual assaults (two convictions); two robberies; seven mis- demeanor DUIs (four convictions); and one misdemeanor vehicular homicide, which he lost.”
    In 2019 during the same timeframe, Boudin’s predecessor, George Gascon, tried 294 cases and got 203 convictions.”


    1. Raymond Sim

      Clearly most cases are not resolved by trial. How do those stats compare for the two DA’s?

    2. Pat

      I don’t have an opinion either way since I have no familiarity with the current or former DA, but do feel the need to note there was a little event which did slow down and sometimes even stop a whole lot of things that needed a court.
      Rather than just compare her record with her predecessor, it might be better to also check how Covid lockdown affected prosecutions in say LA and NYC to make sure she is not being condemned when events were nowhere near normal.

    3. Vladimir "No Boojs Here" Lenin

      >What is rank choice voting? A disaster that allows dangerous political mediocrities to be elected.

      Unlike our current system, which ensures that dangerous political mediocrities are elected.

      1. Starry Gordon

        In New York City’s recent Democratic primary, RCV did not threaten the careers of the organization men (and women), the conservative, or the mediocre. Danny need not be anxious. ”Nothing fundamental will change.”

    4. Terry Flynn

      Anecdote with no reference to the math of the Likelihood function or detailed voting breakdown. Must be true then /s

      Please give wider set of examples, preferably backed up with either a voting analysis or mathematical insight using Likelihood function as to why rank ordered logit function will inevitably cause this.

    5. G in SF

      Comparing 2019 to 2020+ numbers is silly given covid. The anti Chesa trolling on any SF website is out of hand, not happy to see that it’s started to leak onto NC

    6. John Zelnicker

      August 12, 2021 at 3:00 pm

      As others have mentioned COVID shut down a lot of judicial activity last year.

      Considering that there would be fewer opportunities to go before a judge, the two DA’s have the same conviction rate of ~69%.

  9. john sweeney

    On 420: LED lights consume significantly less electricity and generate significantly less heat. Indoors. Of course, nothing beats sun, good soil and the right temperature/humidity conditions. Tragically, the US political elites’ endless war on drugs has devastated lives and accomplished exactly nothing for society besides jailing countless thousands of mainly ethnic minorities on weed charges, although it has seeded global drug cartels like Sinaloa and Cosa Nostra for decades and created excuses to justify the institutional permanence of abuses like the corrupt DEA and law enforcement warrantless seizures of cash (i.e. grand larceny) on the mere suspicion that anyone with a bundle of cash is a drug dealer. The endless war on drugs was launched in 1914 when Congress passed the Harrison Act because 1. Washington hoped to curry favor with China’s emperor and gain access to Chinese markets, and 2. it ‘fit’ the racist narrative of those times that drugs were imported/sold/used by Asians, Mexicans and Blacks – a narrative embraced later by Nixon/Agnew, Nancy Reagan and the Clinton era’s ‘three strikes you’re out’ laws. Today China practically owns the US and American pot farmers export weed to Mexico (American weed being of better quality). All drugs should be decriminalized at both the state and federal level and treated like we treat alcohol. I know, this is an OLD plea, but if drugs weren’t illegal would the Mexican and Colombian cartels exist? Would groups like FARC/ELN make bank with cocaine and heroin? Would Taliban be farming opium poppy? Yet, given the history of white collar drug dealers such as the Sackler opiate dynasty perhaps this is just me ranting wishfully.

    1. anon y'mouse

      your rant to Dog’s ears.

      but we’re still in the “damn all sinners” mode in this country, so whatcha gone do?

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        The expression “rant to Dog’s ears” is new to me.

        The designer pot grown under grow lamps is much too strong for my needs. It would be enough if we were allowed to grow a few plants outside. Besides, the plants are very pretty and grow exuberantly in the sun.

        1. John Beech

          Rant to dog’s ears referring to ‘dog whistle’, perhaps?

          Weed’s too strong? Smoke less of it? One-hitters were popular in my youth amongst those smoking hash, so I suspect there are technological choices out there.

          Medical or recreational? None of my business, just curious.

    1. Watt4Bob

      IIRC, there was a science fiction movie back in the 50s about a space ship that came back o earth and the crew was infected with some sort of space slime, or fungus.

      When they opened the hatch, the ship was filled with fuzzy stuff and the crew was covered in it.

      It was a pretty scary movie.

      I’ve also heard that scientists are concerned that long lasting space exploration is bound to entail the problem of molds taking over the ships.

        1. Pelham

          No, The Blob was just one big ball of red space slime that grew and grew from a meteorite, I think. The fungus stuff covering the space crew is different and, fan as I am of ’50s sci-fi movies, I can’t place it.

          1. Starry Gordon

            There was a book called The Blob which began with some stuff mixing in a kitchen drain; it converted anything organic it touched into itself within a minute or two. It could also reach and move, and it caught everyone and everything it got near. People finally figured out that lye, or salt, or something like that, would stop it but only after it had destroyed a big city and its population. Later, I saw a movie called by the same name, but now the Blob was sort of oozy liquid and captured a screaming girl in a phone booth, which the previous Blob would not have bothered with — it would have quietly eaten her before she knew it. The book was truly disturbing (to me) but it didn’t achieve any fame (to my knowledge). The movie may have had little or nothing to do with the book besides the name.

          1. JeffC

            The Green Slime has for nearly 50 years been my go-to example of a movie so awful – writing, acting, directing, special effects… everything – that it’s completely engaging. It’s just SO hard to believe anyone made a movie so awful. And the “adult” form of the sticky bits from the asteroid are hysterical to watch and listen to!

          2. lance ringquist

            its a masterpiece. saw it at the drive in when it came out. had a copy on vhs, my kids watched it with me, they were slack jawed through the whole movie and could not believe it.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        “The Expanse” tv series takes that Sci Fi idea to new levels.

        The increased threat from fungal infections could be one of the little bonuses from our climate’s increasing temperatures.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          aye. that’s a hell of a show, right there.
          get’s a lot more of the science right than usual…(no inertial dampeners, for instance…they flip and burn and experience high G’s)

          we’ve had a really wet year, out here….and this after a string of unusually wet, for us, years.
          so i’ve noticed lots more fungi than usual, as well as various molds that grow in a manner that’s uncomfortably similar to the protomolecule,lol.
          all the conventionally grown curcurbits(squash, melons, cukes and zukes)…as in on little hills and sprawling on the ground…are rife with fungi. The ones i grow up in the trees and on pergolas aren’t having those problems(more airflow, far less soil contact)….but it would be difficult to do this with the larger melons or pumpkins.

          and this year and last featured the worst allergies we’ve ever had…likely due to mold spores.
          I suspect that the haze one sees when overtopping some of our bigger hills is related, as well.
          didn’t used to have that…unless it was smoke from mexico.

          reminds me of a post-nuclear war book i read as a kid…can’t remember the name, but it was about a guy named Hiero, riding a moose, through forests of giant fungi.

        2. Skunk

          Great program

          And back on mundane planet Earth, the fungal infection candida auris is scary. It mainly infects patients in hospital settings, but is extremely difficult to eradicate.

  10. Cocomaan

    The Cory Booker clip looks like the ranting of a madman. He’s so overly enthusiastic that you almost think he’s doing a parody. This is the third time in a few days I’ve thought things were comedy theater, now I’m wondering if everything has become a comedy.

    Then again, Booker has always been bizarre. I’ll never forget when he and Beto got into a Spanish language dick waving contest during the debates

    1. Jeff W

      Plus, Sen. Booker urges the other
      senators “not to walk but sashay down there.” He really wants people to stroll down there (wherever “down there” is) in “an ostentatious yet casual manner”? That strikes me as a bit bizarre, too.

      1. cocomaan

        Ah, maybe he meant to “sachet” down there.

        Meaning to use the tiny bag that comes with the ramen noodles to season your ballot before you eat it in protest.

    2. cocomaan

      I guess the background is that the amendment specifies that funding won’t be given to localities that have defunded police departments. Booker seems to think that by voting FOR it, that he has gotten the Republicans into a trap of defunding police.

      Except the federal govt doesn’t fund police? So both Booker and the Republican look dumb.

      Is this as stupid as I think it is?

      1. John

        Has any police department actually been defunded? That would mean disbanding the department. Has it happened? If so, it has been well concealed. If you want to de-militarize police departments, I’m willing to look at what you propose. If you have ideas about police training, especially the use of deadly force, let’s discuss them. Defunding has become a political scare word and an incitement to bloviation.

        1. Bill Smith

          It usually means a cut in the budget. It does not have to mean zeroing it out. And yes, there have been reductions.

      2. Grant

        So, if you work in municipal government and are a planner, work in engineering, a building department, a housing department (there are still tens of thousands less people working in the public sector than the crash in 2007/2008), that municipal government will be penalized if it decides to divert money from the police and to hire more workers in other divisions? If true, this government is downright shameful. And they can stop pretending to be all about local government and against an intrusive federal government. I think the thing that frustrates me about the dominant media is pretending that these rotten politicians believe in anything, care about anything or make any arguments in good faith. We all have to pretend these people are serious when they make arguments for particular policies, instead of just being rich, sociopathic and corrupt, and acting accordingly.

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      Cory Booker is one of my Senators. The other is Robert Menendez. Please take a moment of silence to mourn for my State.

      Not the worst by far — but by far, far less than a citizen could hope for.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Is a leg located in the center of mass of the human torso? If so, I think the answer is yes.

      1. Tom Stone

        The NYPD keeps records of how many shots are fired and how many hits are made for every incident where a firearm is discharged.
        Those records go back several decades and the results have been consistent.
        One out of five shots fired hits the intended target, the others wander around until they find a home.

  11. john sweeney

    On Covid vaccination. Everyone in our very conservative family is vaccinated. That was our choice. We wear masks in settings where we think it would help protect us. For us it’s not a question of our freedoms being restricted nor is it about cheering federally imposed mandates. We have a healthy distrust of government regardless of whether the government’s party theme is an elephant, a jackass or whatever. In our family we have a teen aged Type 1 diabetic and a senior long term pancreatic cancer survivor, hence compromised immune systems. We wear masks when we feel it’s the smart thing to do because we care about our lives and health, first and foremost. We don’t harass or criticize people who choose not to mask up, and we don’t get into empty arguments when individual store owners or services like air transportation require masks. We try to respect the legitimate feelings and concerns of others, especially when we are in their spaces. It’s about civility and civic responsibility – two important aspects of human society that too many people on both sides of our widening social/political divide appear to have forgotten.

    1. JustAnotherVolunteer

      Thank you for this. Civility is seriously under rated and much missed in the current climate.

      “ Two households, both alike in dignity,
      In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
      From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
      Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
      From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
      A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life;
      Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
      Do with their death bury their parents’ strife.
      The fearful passage of their death-mark’d love,
      And the continuance of their parents’ rage,
      Which, but their children’s end, nought could remove,
      Is now the two hours’ traffic of our stage;
      The which if you with patient ears attend,
      What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.”

    2. zagonostra

      “We don’t harass or criticize people who choose not to mask up”

      I think I’m not overstating the case when I say that the danger of creating a dystopian society where the majority can dictate whether those who don’t want an injection will be forced to get one depends on those enlightened vaccinated people who share your perspective.

      It’s not those protesting, always a minority, that will stop the slide into totalitarianism, but those who have weighed the issue from multiple perspectives (safety/freedom) and are not willing to go along with draconian measures like we are seeing in France and Italy. Below is a clip from Bergamo, a lovely city that I’m not sure I’ll be able to visit again, that is restricting people from congregating in protest against mandatory vaccination i.e, “green pass” if they number over 10 (it’s in Italian, but should be able to translate based on hand gestures).


      1. john sweeney

        I suspect draconian authoritarian statism more easily takes control of societies where common sense, reason, civility and civic responsibility are forgotten or consciously ignored, just sayin’… Policies (Oregon, for example) that deliberately discard the 3 r’s – reading, writing and arithmetic don’t help either.

  12. marku52

    Anyone have a non-walled link to the Mina interview or the breakthrough infection one? The “Search on title ” Thing doesn’t seem to work for me.

  13. Terry Flynn

    Ranked choice voting *sigh*. Don’t get me wrong: in choice between RCV vs FPTP (the status quo in most of USA and UK) and I go for RCV in a heartbeat, particularly since I have dual UK-Australian citizenship. However, there are people playing with fire here using arguments they don’t understand and if you’re interested in anecdotal evidence, those of us who spent decades eliciting public preferences in Australia came to despise the Conversation for its terrible editing etc which allows statements like, in the current article:

    “Some critics incorrectly claim that ranked choice voting lets voters cast more than one ballot per person, when in fact each voter gets just one vote.”

    True but highly misleading and proponents will be in REAL trouble when the FPTP PMC class find the right “sound-bite” to counter this. Here’s one possibility: “RCV lets voters cast one vote but some votes are worth are a lot more than others”. My colleague Tony Marley couldn’t prove this was wrong in his PhD back in the 1960s and freaked. He ended up making a much milder statement. RCV (based on the rank ordered logit model) does NOT give everyone equal weight in the (log)likelihood function and this can matter hugely.

    South-West Norfolk is a UK Westminster Parliamentary constituency in which RCV would make ABSOLUTELY NO DIFFERENCE because the Conservatives practically always win it with way more than 50% of the primary vote – there would BE NO “second round” etc. The fact that at the last election a candidate for the Monster Raving Looney Party stood – something that only ever used to happen in the constituency of the sitting Prime Minister as a publicity stunt – shows that anger in the general population is spreading.

    Statements above in this thread have been that RCV can lead to “communism” or “mediocrities”. True but not the experience in Australia. In fact it simply allowed “non-mainstream” people on both sides to gain a few seats but the broad split in terms of “left and right” was replicated in Parliament. Sounds good? Hmm. Statement of (non) conflict of interest. I am one of 3 world experts in a way of eliciting public preferences called Best-Worst Scaling. Dutch/Belgian groups applied it (with NO input/knowledge from me) to voting to give “Most-Least Voting”. A “scaled back” version of RCV in which you ONLY indicate “top” and “bottom” candidate/party. This is because people are lousy at “middle rankings”. I once hypothesised a scenario as to where RCV could give a seriously problematic result which MLV might avoid. To be honest I considered it a theoretical curiosity. Until it happened in the Iowa 2016 Democrat Primary. Essentially there was a dead heat (approx 49.75% each) for Sanders and Hillary. O’Malley came a distant third with 0.5%.

    RCV would have essentially given 0.5% of voters in a single state the decision as to who won and got the crucial “momentum” that might have made them unstoppable. MLV would probably have gone as follows: Sanders supporters put him as most desired and Hillary as least (49.75-49.75=0% net score). Vice versa for Hillary. O’Malley gets 0.5%; which of Sanders/Hillary is “last” depends on whatever O’Malley’s supporters think is the “worst evil”. I don’t know who they’d have chosen. But it doesn’t matter. He’d have won.

    Many will say “for the last placed first-voted individual to win is a travesty”. I’d reply “why is this any less of a travesty than 0.5% of Iowa Democrats potentially deciding who faces Trump?” Depends how you phrase it. Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem all over again. Effectively Iowa was a tie in which neither Sanders nor Hillary “deserved” a win. It should have caused the “race” to move on. Instead O’Malley dropped out. You see how the SAME votes can lead to VERY different results depending on the system (likelihood function)? After all, MLV with 3 candidates *IS* RCV! At least in the “ranking” you give. But the AGGREGATION and WEIGHTING is different.

    Final note – for those who think I’m plugging something “I devised” – you haven’t read the post. I WISH I’d been involved with voting theory. But it’s one area I had NOTHING to do with using BWS. I admire the Dutch and Belgians for applying it this way and it has, in fact, been used in Baltic States. So it ain’t some weird theoretical curiosity. Ironically it MIGHT lead to some centrist “mediocrities”. But given Hillary and Trump, maybe that might not have been so bad?

    RCV is a step forward. But be careful what you wish for. Personally I think that redistricting to eliminate uncompetitive seats (gerrymandering) and other aspects of electoral reform are at least as important as changing the voting system. I’ve given the references before on here and elsewhere. Happy to engage in constructive discussion since NO voting system is fair.

      1. wilroncanada

        When I was a teen, my brother quit school and joined the air force. When he came home after basic training, a friend asked him, “What’s your rating?” My brother, “you mean what’s my rank?” The friend, “I know you’re rank, but what’s your rating?”

    1. Bazarov

      Voting is for oligarchies. It ensures that the rich–who can afford sophists to train them to be charismatic and who have the resources to campaign–are chiefly elected. The few poors that slip through the cracks are swiftly seduced (usually by being themselves enriched).

      The legislature should be unicameral, peopled by sortition, repopulated completely every 2-years, and granted supreme authority.

      1. Starry Gordon

        Sortition makes it more difficult to bribe the legislature. Therefore it cannot be considered.

    1. Wukchumni

      “Look, we spent over a trillion dollars over 20 years, we trained and equipped with modern equipment over 300,000 Afghan forces,” Biden said.

      “Afghan leaders have to come together,” the president added. “They’ve got to fight for themselves, fight for their nation.”

      What a sad joke, as the Vietnam War that nobody cared all that much about, comes to a quicker conclusion than we’d hoped.

      1. Huey

        The war, like all the others that congressman Coma Joe voted for, starting in 1972. Remember, Kamala Harris voted for Trump’s defense budget as well.

      1. John

        3,000 marines to evacuate the embassy. Okay … I guess everyone else is on their own. I have read that bombing continues What is that supposed to accomplish? The Taliban like the Vietnamese, the Iraqis et al figured out at the get go what DC has never figured out; eventually the Americans leave.
        Maybe its time to stop this foolishness.

      2. jo6pac

        Yes after they remove all the listening devices from them and they wouldn’t need any time soon;-) Please get all Amerikan military out and citizens I don’t care about the Merchants of death contractors.

      3. a fax machine

        In total seriousness, one hopes that the military learned something from the Fall of Saigon. One of those is to vigorously defend the airfield so an organized, orderly evacuation can occur without panicking the local population. The absolute worst case scenario for the Fall of Kabul is that civilians, knowing the Taliban is at the gates and prepared to murder them, rush the Embassy and occupy it while the Taliban besiege it. If they can take our Ambassador hostage they can negotiate anything with either side; the US would have to evacuate everyone else to avoid a diplomatic disaster and the Taliban would have to grant Amnesty in exchange for the most important person in Afghanistan. Doing this on the 20th anniversary of 9/11 would send a unique and unmissable message.

        Regardless, what follows next will be a hard fascist government supported by oil money (re: gasoline we purchase) that murders people indiscriminately and puts all of Afghanistan’s women back into the kitchen. This is detestable in it’s own right, but one wonders what greater terrorist attack on America is being planned by our own “allies” in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. It will readily expand into post-America Iraq. Ultimately, this is the true price of failure: the world will become a more dangerous place.

        This does not in any way justify America’s original intervention – in fact, it’s why we shouldn’t have toppled the Soviet government in the first place. So much has been lost and will be lost over the next decade over this.

    2. wilroncanada

      Britain and Canada also sending troops, apparently, as good colonies should. Britain apparently sending 600, Canada has not announced numbers. The gov. is too busy calling a Covid general election. Besides, they have gone through so many chiefs of staff as a result of odd bits of sexual exploitation, they have to consult their rolodexes to determine who is next in line to make the announcement

  14. antidlc

    Launderette, Fresa’s no longer requiring proof of COVID vaccination after TABC threatens permit removal

    Two days after announcing a new policy that required indoor diners to provide proof of at least one round of COVID-19 vaccination, sister restaurants Launderette and Fresa’s changed their policy after receiving a phone call and letter from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission alerting them that they were in violation of Section 14 of Senate Bill 968.

    “Yesterday we received a courtesy call from the TABC saying that we must immediately act in compliance with the law and that if we did not, a case would be opened and we would be at threat of losing our state licenses,” Launderette owners told the Statesman on Thursday.

  15. chuck roast

    Road Map to Redistricting…

    I think what the guy really means is: Slave States Still Running the Show.

    1. Terry Flynn

      As a Brit I am less strident about the exact math and mechanics of redistricting in the USA compared to the subject of (say) voting systems. However, there are some pretty odd Westminster Parliamentary constituencies here in UK – or perhaps it’s that HOW people have been segmented (rural/urban etc to match counties) that is the problem.

      However, no matter how ridiculous some of ours work out as, I am still frequently gobsmacked by the geography of seats in the USA House of Representatives. I know that there is no “universally accepted mathematical formula” to define how a country should segment its population into constituencies. However, I also know that there are various ones that achieve *better* outcomes than both us in the UK and you in the USA achieve. In that, the general election % is much closer to the % seats in the relevant House.

      I keep coming back to the conclusion that a fundamental reform (via a constitutional amendment in the USA for instance) is required to solve this……yet with the current set of seats you’ll never GET the requisite majority to enact this. Chicken and egg – it links back to a point that Yves and Lambert have repeatedly made concerning the Democrats and their seeming lack of interest in State politics. Meanwhile Repubs keep tipping the playing field further and further in their favour. The Tories are doing the same here in UK.

      1. John Beech

        I fail to see the problem with using existing political boundaries. E.g. counties and cities.

  16. CoryP

    Extremely random WC question for Lambert. I can’t seem to fire Corrente/correntewire. You still bill yourself this way, so how do the relative newbies catch up? Is there an archive somewhere? I might have just not searched thoroughly enough. If not, what IS it?

  17. Jason Boxman

    Given the way things are heading, at some point isn’t the number of vaccinations time bounded, and the total since the beginning of the vaccination campaign isn’t useful information? Like shouldn’t we start banding this by days since last vaccination or something?

    Total case counts is similar in that, due to reinfections, the number in aggregate is likely to be increasingly uninteresting by itself.

  18. John

    There are straightforward solutions to all the conundrums about voting and redistricting, but none of them insure the dominance of US and the minority status of THEM. In the not too long run it is not going to matter. Wind, fire, heat, rising sea levels, even hailstones and halibut bones will put paid to the pitiful pretensions of out political class. All their hard work to ingratiate themselves with their donors, or is it owners gone in a flash.

    I have lived for 85 years. The first 40 were pretty good. After that, not so much. We have marvelous gadgets now that hold our attention so we do not see that we have lost our way. Homework: Read Jack London’s The Iron Heel and follow it with Kennedy’s Rise and Fall of the Great Powers. Together they sum up the present moment.

  19. Wukchumni

    The city of Yazd in the desert of central Iran has long been a focal point for creative ingenuity. Yazd is home to a system of ancient engineering marvels that include an underground refrigeration structure called yakhchāl, an underground irrigation system called qanats, and even a network of couriers called pirradaziš that predate postal services in the US by more than 2,000 years.

    Among Yazd’s ancient technologies is the wind catcher, or bâdgir in Persian. These remarkable structures are a common sight soaring above the rooftops of Yazd. They are often rectangular towers, but they also appear in circular, square, octagonal and other ornate shapes.

    Yazd is said to have the most wind catchers in the world, though they may have originated in ancient Egypt. In Yazd, the wind catcher soon proved indispensable, making this part of the hot and arid Iranian Plateau livable.


    I’ve seen well over 100 of these wind catcher towers in the Central Valley next to older homes circa 1900-the design no doubt borrowed from the Persians, but no new ones.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I was immediately struck by the beauty of the architecture in the photos in this report from the BBC. I suspect there are many old methods for cooling that deserve revival. A ship captain’s home I saw in San Diego also makes that case.

      In the US NorthEast, I think humidity as much as temperatures presents a problem. I find it hard to believe our existing technologies are worthy of continuation into the future. At times we may need some of the water in the air and as long as the humidity is kept low, the heat in the NorthEast is tolerable, even comfortable for old bones.

  20. ChrisPacific

    Hunter Biden seems to have been awfully careless with his laptops.

    My bet is it’s a cover story, and he auditioned for a job with a Russian porn site but was turned down.

    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      You’d think the guy would maybe use a password on his tech.

      Also, I’m sure this will get at least as much press as a certain Russian pee tape that proved to be vaporware.

    2. The Rev Kev

      The truth of the matter is that Hunter is p***** that that video is out there and somebody else will be making money off it instead of him. No exclusive, no commission, no distribution rights, nothing.

  21. Wukchumni

    My rarest animal sighting in the back of beyond was a Sierra Nevada Red Fox that 3 of us saw about 20 years ago way off trail below the backside of Pants Pass in Sequoia NP. About 3 or 4 days after the encounter we ran into our friend who was the wildlife biologist in the NP, and she was incredulous until one of my friends showed her a digital photo of it sporting a white tipped tail. At the time it was the southernmost sighting, and contrary to it’s human namesake with a similar name, profanity free.

    The slender, bushy-tailed Sierra Nevada red fox will be listed as an endangered species, federal wildlife officials announced Monday, saying its population has dipped to just 40 animals in area of California stretching from Lake Tahoe to south of Yosemite National Park.

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided against listing a distinct population of the foxes in the southern Cascade Range of Oregon and near Lassen Peak in Northern California.

    But it said in a listing rule to be published in the Federal Register on Tuesday that the Sierra Nevada segment south of Tahoe “is in danger of extinction throughout all of its range.”


  22. Amfortas the hippie

    on the weed grown using hot lights.
    this is habit, that was formed directly as a result of prohibition.
    even as late as rick perry as goobernor, texas was spending something like 80 million a year on overflights to look for pot(infrared signatures)…and most of what they were finding was “ditch weed”, with almost zero THC, that was essentially feral hemp that was left over from when that same government PAID farmers to grow it for the war effort.
    but all those eyes in the sky drove black market weed indoors…and here we are today.
    it’s almost traditional to do it that way, now.
    same with the concurrent control freak attitude…where one tweaks the nutrient flow or light timer to make the plants do stuff.

    one of these days, when the drug war is over at last, I’ll be attempting to grow heirloom pot, in the frelling garden, under the sun and rain.
    ….sadly, i’ll likely hafta wait even longer than mere legalisation…because i’ll hafta obtain said heirloom seeds from abroad…as in a valley in Afghanistan(taliban should prolly look into cornering the heirloom pot seed market, now)…from what i can tell…seeds are not even a thing anymore in potworld…it’s all clones. obtaining such seeds is likely to be arduous and heavily regulated, if not impossible…if past experience with other things is any indication.

    1. Mikel

      A couple of months ago I ordered from a dispensary and lo and behold…I found seeds.
      I have about nine or ten in a jar. A rare find.

    2. Raymond Sim

      Don’t ask me why I think I know, but I’m pretty sure there’s good old fashioned open-pollinated seed of defined varieties still to be had here in Northern California. Though now that I think about it, I wonder how many varieties have been lost to fire in the past couple years?

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        it’s something no one i know in weedworld has ever even thought about.
        i guess i should have saved all those seeds i had from when all we could get out here was Mexican Brick.
        i think it will eventually be a largeish niche market…if homegrown is allowed to flourish, like tomatoes and peppers.
        organic heirloom kindu-kush.
        there’s the usual concerns about genetic diversity and robustness, too…when dealing with any high end sciency method of propagation…like cassette tapes/vhs, there’s loss the more copies you make with cloning.
        consider the problem with homogenaeity in the global chicken flock…which is why there’s a push to get folks to keep all these weird breeds…lest we end up with all white chickens with lupus or something.
        (this was the main consideration in my chick choices this year-half were the original domestic chicken(“red jungle fowl”))
        or bananas.

        1. John

          Someday, when COVID19 is in the rear view, I bet a NC get-together would be a hoot if it included you. I suspect you must have stories out the wazoo. Other than youthful experimenting with weed, I’ve been an observer rather than a participant as I progressed through life. No strong feelings one way or the other because it falls under what I think of as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness clause. These days? Nope, but mostly because the FAA will yank my license if I apply for a medical card to buy it and I am loathe to give up this remaining freedom (although nowadays, what with ADS-B and the ability to track my flights, even this becomes less attractive – just because).

        2. Raymond Sim

          As with most crops, characteristics like disease resistance and harvest timing are big concerns for even small-scale growers. Pot that will fetch a price that makes it worth growing any way other than guerilla-style is pretty unnatural stuff, and being able to consistently bring a crop to market is a nontrivial skill. I’ve heard it said that wine grapes are a lot easier.

          My impression is that the amount of work that goes into just keeping their damned plants alive is a pretty strong motive for crop improvement and, of course, clones rarely improve themselves.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        I’m glad there’s someone doing it.

        and, for the above referenced saved seeds(Mikel):
        they are unlikely to grow “True”…just like if you save seeds from a gala apple, or a ordinary roma tomato, you won’t end up with either.
        my limited potgrowing experience is from saved…and none of it, save from mexican brick, runs “True”…you get weird little plants that go to bud too early, etc.
        the big boys likely do like i do with peppers and toms…grow a whole bunch of stuff, from a variety of sources, mix and match, and see what happens, and then save the seed from my faves(or, in their case, use that fave as a Mother, and start cloning).
        of course, my “system” for this is hardly a system at all, and relies more on intuition and observation and a really good memory.
        i’ve got a nice cherry costoluto that i’m pretty partial to….derived, years ago, from seed from supermarket cherry toms and a big hunky costoluto that i picked up somewhere.
        i hope i didn’t lose that with the herbicidal manure disaster this year.

        1. Greg

          Both the still-common illegal grows in the bush, and the startup legal medical growing up in Gisborne, is all outdoors in NZ.
          Indoor growth is only common in illegal city based gang stuff.
          Suspect we’ll (eventually) happily start a new seed export niche if asked, as that’s a fairly good business for other crops here. After we finally legalise it no doubt.

  23. Big River Bandido

    The item on ruffled feathers at the DNC is the typical shallow filler I’ve come to expect from The Hill. All about process and turf wars, absolutely nothing on the actual substance of disagreement.

    And how is it that a political reporter for The Hill doesn’t even know the differences between and the basic functions of the party committees? The DNC is not the party and I laugh when I hear people conflate these two things. The DNC is the committee focused on winning the White House. The DSCC and DCCC are the counterpoints for the legislative branch. Even if the Democrats were a real party and had a real purpose, its impetus would not come from these committees.

    Simpler version of this story: a bunch of worthless, overpaid people with too much time on their hands are pissing and moaning about other people stealing their 15 minutes.

  24. Glen

    I feel so lucky to discover that forest fire smoke and extreme heat make a lovely combination! /snark

  25. The Rev Kev

    “Elite Feminists Ran Cover for Andrew Cuomo”

    Well of course they did. Most third wave feminists are not really feminists so much as career climbers. They say ‘believe women’ but if it is somebody that is part of the establishment being accused such as Joe Biden, Ratface Andy or Bill Clinton, then they will tell those women to take one for the team and to shut up which by coincidence furthers those feminist’s career. Strange that. It’s a class thing and if these women ever achieved full parity as part of the ruling class, then I would expect them to be the most ruthless putting down the rights of women and sidelining women’s voices – if they are poorer. They would be like the pigs at the very end of “Animal farm.” I would go so far as to say that they would be the first to sell out Roe vs. Wade if it furthered their careers tactically at all.

  26. DuncanW

    The E.U. regulators are looking into side effects of vaccines, including glomerulonephritis. It is not noted that this is often, or even generally an auto-immune disease. I developed this after strep throat infection when I was 15 years old.

  27. Wukchumni

    Almost every civilization has had some form of currency, but coins first proliferated nearly three thousand years ago among the Lydians, in what is today modern Turkey. Called croesids, in honor of the Lydian king Croesus, these early coins were quickly copied by the Greeks, who found them easier to exchange than land, cattle, or any of the other commodities of the ancient world. Everyday objects had long served the same purpose, but coins were more durable than the cowrie shells of Africa and more portable than the fei stones of Micronesia, although less delicious than the cocoa seeds of Central America. Parallel money systems took shape in Asia around the same time as in Lydia, with decorative karshapana circulating in stamped and unstamped forms in ancient India and coins that were not round but ornately shaped to resemble knives and farming implements changing hands in China. The earliest incarnations did not display the year or the denomination; instead, their value was understood through material or convention—nomos—and their study, first described by Herodotus, became known as nomismata.

    Archaeologists in China have found what they say is the world’s oldest known coin manufacturing site. Used to make metal money around 2,600 years ago, the bronze casting workshop was located in the ancient city of Guanzhuang, in what’s now central China’s Henan Province, reports state-run news agency Xinhua.

    During the dig, the researchers discovered finished coins, coin molds and pits dug for the disposal of casting waste. Using radiocarbon dating, they found that the workshop began minting operations between 640 and 550 B.C.E. The team published its findings in the journal Antiquity last week.

    “The discovery of the coins is not surprising, but the discovery of a coin mint is truly exciting as it shows the existence of a very old coin workshop,” lead author Hao Zhao, an archaeologist at Zhengzhou University, tells China’s Red Star News, as reported by the Global Times.


  28. roxan

    I’ve used a moldex n95 respirator for years. They seem to do the job and aren’t bulky. I see they have them on Amazon, again. Price is more than it was, but not ridiculous. Wonder how many more variants will turn up?

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