2:00PM Water Cooler 8/18/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Whoops, yesterday I grabbed a goose from the goose tab, not a stork from the stork tab. My bad! So today we are totally back to bill-clapping, apparently with a very admiring audience! Here is a make-good for my error:

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

Vaccination by region:

Back up in the South.

50.9% of the US is fully vaccinated, a big moment, breaking the psychological 50% barrier. Every day, a tenth of a percentage point upward.

DC They build dashboards:

Now do breakthrough infections. NOTE Hat tip to alert reader Bradford: They did!

Case count by United States regions:

Still near vertical. 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. 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 is Texas’s wingman. Meanwhile, Florida staggered ahead.

NEW From CDC: “Community Profile Report August 17, 2021” (PDF), “Rapid Riser” counties, this release:

I’m seeing a lot more pink in the South: Louisiana, Georgia, North Carolina, even Florida, and some pink in the Acela Corridor as well. Remember, however, that this chart is about acceleration, not absolute numbers. For our case count to come off the vertical, we need to see a lot more green. This map blows the “Blame Bubba” narrative out of the water. Not a (Deliverance-style) 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):

A little dip across all age groups, oddly.

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

Yet more red states now, still in the South. Not good.

Deaths (Our World in Data):

Deaths on trend rising; 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:

Southeast Asia doing better, I presume because little-covered Indonesia is past a peak. US sphere of influence under the Monroe Doctrine not doing so well.

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“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

“In Praise of Joe Biden” [Counterpunch]. “I don’t like Joe Biden. I think his working class shtick is as phony as a street corner Rolex. He’s a liar. He’s a corporate sycophant. He’s a masher creep around women and girls. And he’s kind of an asshole in general (I know, takes one to know one). His political record is one long disaster. But…. Joe Biden did not fuck up with Afghanistan. He made the cleanest getaway possible, and this was altogether the right thing to do, no matter the fallout. There was no other way…. The fallout — those dramatic images we are seeing of the Taliban re-establishing its authority — was built into the whole enterprise…. I’m praising Joe Biden. This departure took guts. It takes guts in a culture so steeped in simulacra, manufactured myth, and incessant political maneuvering to do a thing that’s simultaneously necessary and sure to produce unsavory results. Whatever else Biden does that pisses me off in the future — and that’s a sure thing — he deserves credit, not all this hand-wringing and blame…. God bless Joe Biden for ending this obscenity.” • This is where I am. I can only hope that this is another example of Biden being a better politician than the yammering backstabbers who dominate the Democrat Party. What Greenwald said:

UPDATE PowerPoint corrupts absolutely:

UPDATE “Child Tax Credit: Democrats look to extend ‘transformational’ expansion” [Yahoo Money]. “The Biden administration is trying to extend the expanded Child Tax Credit through 2025 and permanently keep in place a key provision that helps low-income families. The moves could prove popular. Under President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion, 10-year spending plan, the increased tax credit and the advance monthly payments would continue through 2025, while the credit would be made fully refundable permanently. ‘Biden proposed to make the most critical part for child poverty permanent,’ Robert Greenstein, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, told Yahoo Money. ‘There is a real distinct possibility that that is indeed what Congress could do and that would be transformational.’ The one-year expansion of the credit has the potential to cut child poverty by more than 40%, according to the Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University. Additionally, society is estimated to reap $794 billion in benefits from the one-year expansion, or nearly eight times the $100 billion price to implement it.”

UPDATE “CNN gets an inside look at Space Force” [CNN]. • They’re called “Guardians.” “Space Delta 8 Commander” is a thing. Hilarity ensues.

Democrats en Deshabille

UPDATE “It’s time to start taking the California recall seriously” [Chris Cilizza, CNN]. “In 28 days, California voters will decide whether to recall Gavin Newsom. And the governor is getting nervous…. An initial glance at new CBS polling numbers seems to suggest decent news for Newsom, with majority of registered voters (54%) saying they don’t think he should be recalled and 46% saying he should.

But dig a little deeper and the problem for Newsom becomes much more apparent. Among likely voters, just 52% oppose the Newsom recall while 48% support it…. What makes Democrats’ position even more tenuous is that they purposely did not offer up any other prominent candidate for voters to choose if Newsom is recalled. (The ballot will have two parts. The first is whether Newsom should be recalled; the second is a a very long list of candidates who are running to replace him. That decision was made in hopes of keeping Democrats entirely unified behind Newsom — and in opposition to the recall. And there’s no question it raises the stakes of the first vote on September 14. But it also means that if Newsom is recalled, a Republican is going to be elected governor of the nation’s biggest state…. A low-turnout election quite clearly puts [Newsom] in danger. And at the moment, that is a real possibility.”

Republican Funhouse

“DeSantis donor got $50 million in emergency pandemic work” [Politico]. ” Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration awarded nearly $50 million in no-bid Covid-related work to a controversial Utah company that lobbied his administration for the contracts, then gave the Republican governor a $100,000 political contribution. The company, Nomi Health, Inc. has received $46 million under two separate contracts it signed with the state for Covid-19 testing and vaccine work throughout Florida between February and June, state records show. The spending was approved under a DeSantis-signed pandemic executive order, which gave the administration broad legal authority to spend state funds without legislative approval or going through a normal procurement process. After getting lucrative work from the administration for the first time, on July 23, Nomi Health gave a $100,000 political contribution to a committee controlled by DeSantis, who is raising huge sums of campaign cash ahead of 2022 re-election bid. The company previously had never had a political presence in the state.” • All things work together for good!

UPDATE “DeSantis’ top donor invests in COVID drug governor promotes” [FOX]. “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — who has been criticized for opposing mask mandates and vaccine passports — is now touting a COVID-19 antibody treatment in which a top donor’s company has invested millions of dollars. DeSantis has been flying around the state promoting Regeneron, a monoclonal antibody treatment that was used on then-President Donald Trump after he tested positive for COVID-19. The governor first began talking about it as a treatment last year. Citadel, a Chicago-based hedge fund, has $15.9 million in shares of Regeneron Pharmaceutical, according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Citadel CEO Ken Griffin has donated $10.75 million to a political committee that supports DeSantis — $5.75 million in 2018 and $5 million last April.” • All things work together for good again!

“Texas Governor Greg Abbott Tests Positive For COVID-19 Despite Receiving Vaccination” [CBS DFW (Re Silc)]. “Back in 2020, Gov. Abbott on Tuesday, Dec. 22, joined the ranks of governors receiving the COVID-19 vaccine on live television in hopes of assuring the public that the inoculations are safe. Back in April, he issued an executive order stopping government agencies and state-funded organizations from requiring proof of vaccination. Then, on Thursday, July 29, he issued a new executive order to bring “clarity and uniformity” to the state’s COVID-19 response. The new order bans any local government in the state from requiring residents to get vaccinated. It also allows any business to continue operating at full capacity, no matter the virus’ rate of spread or how many people are hospitalized with COVID-19. Abbott also appealed for out-of-state help Monday, August 9 to fight the third wave of COVID-19 fueled by the highly contagious delta variant in Texas.” • So a breakthrough infection. Masks would have helped with that, but here we are:

“Now Would Be A Great Time For George W Bush To Shut The Fuck Up” [Caitlin’s Newsletter]. • Too late. Bush gave Michelle candy, so he’s one of the good guys now. Untouchable,

Obama Legacy

Hope and change:

Clinton Legacy

UPDATE “Chelsea Clinton’s Oxford Whirl” [Vanity Fair]. From 2002, still germane. “Still, Chelsea found her way to an anti-war demonstration that took place in November at the [Oxford’s] town hall. As a Labour M.P., Jeremy Corbyn, spoke, a group of American boys unfurled a large American flag. Chelsea was with them. ‘Remember the September dead!’ one of them screamed. They were asked to leave.” • I know who came out of that demo looking good, and who didn’t.

Realignment and Legitimacy

Certainly is odd how identity politics dovetails so neatly with CIA recruiting requirements:

A play in two acts:

I understand the concept of “appropriation,” but… Intersectionality is all very well, except when it comes time to protect one’s vertical.

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Sanity in New York:

UPDATE “Perkins Loses Harlem Council Primary Recount by 114 Votes to Democratic Socialist” [The City]. “The New York City 2021 primary is finally officially over and Harlem has a new Democratic nominee for its City Council seat. In a major leadership shakeup for the area, Democratic Socialist and first-time political candidate Kristin Richardson Jordan has clinched her win over incumbent Bill Perkins, a New York politics veteran. Jordan, who was endorsed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s political action committee, secured 9,034 votes — just 114 votes over Perkins, who was vying for another term while suffering from apparent memory loss.”

UPDATE “Nassau County Executive Vetoes Bill That Would Punish People For Making Cops Feel Bad” [TechDirt]. “Good news in Nassau County, New York. The stupid law that turned not being sufficiently deferential to cops (or other first responders) into a quasi-hate crime has been rejected by the head of Nassau County’s government, accompanied by a message to the stupid legislators who passed it…. [T]he bill was passed by a margin of 12-6. That the consensus is wrong about the bill’s necessity and the quality of the craftsmanship is the larger problem and it indicates there will be similar proposals in the future, especially since local law enforcement can’t seem to be disabused of the notion that a career choice isn’t an immutable characteristic worthy of protection from discrimination.”

UPDATE “City Disapproves Botanic Garden-Adjacent Mega Development” [Brooklyn Paper]

Stats Watch

Construction: “July 2021 Residential Building Growth Rate Continues To Slow” [Econintersect]. “Headline residential building permits and construction completions rate of growth slowed. The rolling averages also slowed for both permits and construction completions…. We seem to be seeing and bad month, followed by a good month, and then another bad month. The softening year-over-year growth rates are caused by comparisons to the improving economic conditions of the post-recession period one year ago. The backward revisions this month were small.”

Trade: “July 2021 Import Sea Container Growth Continues At A Record Pace” [Econintersect]. “The import container counts for the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach rate of growth continues in record territory. Exports are still having the worst year since 2006…. Import container counts continue to surge. In the last six months, import container counts have been at all-time highs. There is chaos in container movements with containers in the wrong place, continuing COVID port shutdowns in China, and shortages of rail cars to move containers, containers stacking up in the midwest, and not being able to get back to Asia – there continues a shortage of containers and unloading berths. Imports are having their best year ever and exports the worst year since 2009. The slowing of year-over-year growth is caused by comparisons to the improving economy one year ago… Import container counts give an indication of the U.S. economy’s state and the data this month is suggesting strong economic growth.”

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Finance: “Rich Investors Are Buying Risky Credit That Banks Won’t Touch” [Bloomberg]. “Blackstone Group Inc., Carlyle Group Inc., Apollo Global Management Inc. and other large firms have started offering products for individuals to invest in loans to midsized companies that banks won’t touch. The lure is a potential annual return at times surpassing 8%, when corporate bond return indexes are negative, plus a relatively low initial investment. Their push coincides with a broader democratization in financial markets, with apps such as Robinhood Markets Inc. helping people find their way into everything from SPACs to Dogecoin. The meme-stock phenomenon in the U.S. this year showed the potential return for retail investors in distressed companies such as AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc., up more than 1,500%.” • ”Democratization of finance.” Who invented that one?

Finance: “Kids Jump on the Retail Investing Bandwagon, $5 at a Time” [Bloomberg]. Picture caption: “Financial planner Mac Gardner reads his book, The Four Money Bears, to children at an elementary school in Tampa, Florida, in November 2018.” I was going to propose The Little Bezzler, but of course bears are far more cute.

Retail: “Americans are spending $765 more a month than they did in 2020, survey finds” [CNBC]. “Between dining out and taking trips, Americans are now spending an average of $765 more a month compared with last year when much of the country was shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the MassMutual Consumer Spending & Saving Index. Young adults, in particular, are determined to make up for lost time. Millennials and Gen Z, who reported feeling the financial impact from the rise in reopenings and social gatherings, said they are shelling out $1,016 more a month, on average, than they did during summer of 2020. MassMutual polled 1,000 U.S. adults from July 21 to 28.” • Averages conceal. $765 is a lot of money. There’s no way essential workers are spending the rent money on brunch and trips.

Commodities: “Despite dire warning about climate change and fossil fuels, energy investors aren’t swayed” [Los Angeles Times]. “The sobering United Nations-backed report on global warming last week prompted a lot of hand-wringing from governments and the general public about fossil fuels. The response from investors in the oil and gas industry? A big shrug. Shares of energy companies, which led the Standard & Poor’s 500 index higher for much of the year, ended the week little changed. Oil prices rebounded from a sell-off earlier in the month, despite the warnings that the world must wean itself off fossil fuels, and fast. Investors must now weigh the industry’s soaring revenue and improving profitability against the long-term prospect of a carbon-light world. The key is how long it will take for countries to phase out internal combustion engines in the coming decades and what kind of supply and demand imbalances occur along the way. ‘Investors for the most part are not buying into the sky-is-falling climate change narrative,’ said Martin Pelletier, portfolio manager at Wellington-Altus Private Counsel. ‘There is no doubt a transition towards renewables, but the pace of that transition is what is under question.'” • On this one, I’m long stupid.

Shipping: “Mounting backups at Southern California ports are adding to the pain for U.S. importers already grappling with delays ahead of the holiday season. More than three dozen container ships are anchored off the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach as surging volumes of consumer and industrial goods clog the main gateway for U.S seaborne trade and strain domestic logistics networks that are already thin on labor and equipment” [Wall Street Journall]. “[T]he congestion marks a return to the worst logjams seen earlier this year, when up to 40 ships waited for berths. Some businesses such as Adidas are switching to more costly airfreight when possible, and port officials say worried shippers are pulling imports forward, adding to the crush of containers. Most must simply wait it out as a cost of accessing the best-equipped terminals to move tens of thousands of containers inland quickly.” • Funny how “three dozen” is such a small number in absolute terms.

The Bezzle, via dk:

Did the guy throw the scooter up in the tree? And from the same thread:

On the bright side, I didn’t think Google even had customer support.

The Bezzle: The middleman’s end-game:

The Populist farmers would have understood immediately.

The Bezzle: “Autonomous trucking companies are rushing to tap public markets, but their road to commercial success remains anything but clear. Navigating highways without a driver in the cab is just one of the hurdles that TuSimple, Plus and other self-driving trucking startups face… as the companies race to launch systems that backers say will cut labor costs and transit times while making roads safer” [Wall Street Journal]. “Investors have ploughed billions into autonomous ventures whose success also depends on factors outside their control, including crafting highway regulations and insurance policies for robot trucks hauling heavy loads down public roads. Recent test drives show the technology’s potential but also how far it has to go before it can operate safely without a human at the wheel. Freight-industry skepticism hasn’t stopped logistics providers from taking equity stakes in startups whose success could shave significant costs from their businesses.”

The Bezzle: “What I learned visiting two cutting-edge Amazon grocery stores” [Full Stack Economics]. On the “Just Walk Out” technology: “But we shouldn’t count grocery incumbents out yet. For one thing, we don’t know how well Just Walk Out technology is really working. A couple of things give me pause. I visited the DC Amazon Fresh location twice the week of August 2. Both times, it took Amazon about three hours to send me my receipt. I don’t know why it took Amazon so long to generate my receipt (the company didn’t answer an email seeking comment about this) but one possibility is that Amazon has human workers reviewing footage to make sure the software classified items correctly. • Yes, of course they would. “Depending on how often this happens, it could negate a lot of the technology’s cost savings. Another curious fact: Amazon seems to be scaling back its footprint for Amazon Go, the original chain of convenience stores based on Just Walk Out technology. Back in December 2019, Amazon had 25 Amazon Go locations. Today, that number has declined to 22 locations, with six of those listed as “temporarily closed.” This is particularly interesting because Bloomberg reported in 2018 that Amazon was planning to open up to 3,000 Amazon Go stores by 2021. Maybe the Bloomberg report was mistaken, or maybe the pandemic forced Amazon to shutter stores for reasons unrelated to the Just Walk Out system. But Amazon isn’t acting like it has a game-changing retail technology that it’s eager to scale up. More broadly, Amazon’s foray into the grocery business seems somewhat half-hearted.” • Amazon is throwing off so much cash they can simulate whatever they want……

Tech: “Why CAPTCHA Pictures Are So Unbearably Depressing” [OneZero]. “CAPTCHA images are never joyful vistas of human activity, full of Whitmanesque vigor. No, they’re blurry, anonymous landscapes that possess a positively Soviet anomie…. Looking at these leaden vistas of America makes you, slightly but noticeably, feel worse than you did before…. CAPTCHA photos are a nonstop brutalist slideshow of metal and concrete. It is as if someone took you on a tour of a lovely scenic town, but strapped you into horse blinders and forced you to stare only at fire hydrants…. Here’s the thing, ultimately, about Google’s CAPTCHA images: They weren’t taken by humans, and they weren’t taken for humans. They are by AI, for AI. They thus lack any sense of human composition or human audience. They are creations of utterly bloodless industrial logic. Google’s CAPTCHA images demand you to look at the world the way an AI does. It’s no wonder we wind up feeling so numbed and depressed as we click through them, day in and day out.” • This is absolutely great. And the “depressing” comment makes me wonder if the little hell-mouth Google makes you step through before you get to what you want actually does inflict measurable psychic damage.

Tech: “Autocorrect errors in Excel still creating genomics headache” [Nature]. “Five years after a study showed that autocorrect problems were widespread, the academic literature is still littered with error-riddled spreadsheets, according to an analysis of published gene lists. And the problem may be even worse than previously realized. The long-standing issue often occurs when the abbreviated form of a gene’s name — known as a gene symbol — is incorrectly recognized as a date and autocorrected as such by Excel or Google Sheets. For example, SEPT4 (septin 4) and MARCH1 (membrane associated ring-CH-type finger 1) will be automatically changed to 4-Sep and 1-Mar…. In 2016, Mark Ziemann and his colleagues at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia, quantified the problem. They found that one-fifth of papers in top genomics journals contained gene-name conversion errors in Excel spreadsheets published as supplementary data. These data sets are frequently accessed and used by other geneticists, so errors can perpetuate and distort further analyses. However, despite the issue being brought to the attention of researchers — and steps being taken to fix it — the problem is still rife, according to an updated and larger analysis led by Ziemann, now at Deakin University in Geelong, Australia3. His team found that almost one-third of more than 11,000 articles with supplementary Excel gene lists published between 2014 and 2020 contained gene-name errors (see ‘A growing problem’).” And: “Microsoft has never indicated that it will alter its software to accommodate the genetics community.” • No, of course not.

Supply Chain: “Higher transport costs and other supply-chain disruptions are weighing on retailers as the Delta variant casts a shadow over U.S. consumer demand. Retail giant Walmart is adding extra lead time to orders and chartering vessels specifically for the company’s goods… as increased supply chain costs and wage hikes muted quarterly gains in U.S. profits” [Wall Street Journal]. “The merchant said it is working with suppliers to keep prices low and that some items continue to be hard to find on store shelves. Growth at Home Depot also slowed as supply-chain snags and rising prices for materials such as lumber cut into the company’s gross margin.”

Mr. Market: “Covid Fear Is Back in Markets, and It’s Global” [Bloomberg].”Viewed positively, this could create a nice buying opportunity. It still isn’t clear that the delta variant, for all its infectiousness, can do anything like the damage that the first waves wrought on the global economy, before there were vaccines and when the medical profession hadn’t yet developed techniques to keep patients alive. The American record is worse than that of the U.K. (the benchmark for developed economies these days as it led in both the alpha and delta variants, and in implementing its vaccination program). But, as demonstrated by this chart from Deutsche Bank AG, the U.S.’s problem is keeping people out of hospital, not keeping them alive.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 31 Fear (previous close: 37 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 39 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 18 at 2:33pm. Big swing back to Fear!

Health Care

“Biden admin to offer Covid-19 booster shots starting Sept. 20” [Politico]. “The Biden administration plans to begin offering Covid-19 booster shots to all American adults starting Sept. 20, amid growing evidence that a third dose of the vaccine will be needed to maintain immunity against the virus…. The policy will apply to people over 18 who have received the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, and is contingent on authorization from the FDA and a review by CDC’s vaccine advisory committee…. The booster decision came after weeks of intense debate inside the top echelons of the administration’s Covid-19 task force about whether new data on vaccine effectiveness over time suggested Americans needed a second round of shots…. In a meeting Sunday, Biden administration officials reviewed vaccine data collected by the CDC that showed protection from vaccines declined in recent months as the Delta variant took hold and infections began to rise across the country. A study tracking adults in New York found that vaccine effectiveness against infection declined from 91.7 percent in early May to 79.8 percent by late July, according to a private administration briefing held for public health experts on Wednesday morning. The agency released the analysis, which included information on vaccinated and unvaccinated people gathered by city and state reporting systems, on Wednesday.” • Well, with the P-Town study, the data was released after the policy change, which wasn’t a good look. Now, we’re making the data public at the same time as the policy change, which I suppose is an improvement. Idea: Since this is a democracy, not a utopia run by PMC philosopher kings, how about having the public briefing at the same time as the private briefing? (In this case, last Sunday.) Would that be so very hard?

“COVID-19 booster shot for Pfizer, Moderna vaccines will be available Sept. 20” [USA Today]. “Americans who are eligible can receive a third shot beginning Sept. 20, pending authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which is expected in the coming weeks, according to a statement from the Department of Health and Human Services and other administration medical experts. The initial doses will go to those who were fully vaccinated earliest in the vaccine rollout, including health care providers, nursing home residents and other seniors. The administration plans to also begin delivering booster shots directly to residents of long-term facilities, according to the statement. The announcement comes as the highly contagious delta variant now accounts for more than 98.8% of U.S. cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Officials emphasized that mRNA vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna continue to be effective in reducing risk of hospitalization and death, but conceded that recent data made clear that protections begin to wane after the initial doses and amid the dominant delta variant.”

“No need for COVID-19 booster jabs for now, vaccine supplies short: WHO” [Channel News Asia]. “Current data does not indicate that COVID-19 booster shots are needed, World Health Organisation (WHO) chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said on Wednesday (Aug 18). WHO adviser Bruce Aylward, referring to booster shots being administered in high-income countries, told the same Geneva press conference: ‘There is enough vaccine around the world, but it is not going to the right places in the right order.’ Two doses should be given to the most vulnerable worldwide before boosters are administered to those fully-vaccinated, he said, adding: ‘We are a long, long way from that.'”

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“Israeli data: How can efficacy vs. severe disease be strong when 60% of hospitalized are vaccinated?” [Covid 19 Data Science]. Cutting to the chase: “How can there be such a discrepancy between the age-stratified and overall efficacy numbers? This is an example of Simpson’s Paradox, a well-known phenomenon in which misleading results can sometimes be obtained from observational data in the presence of confounding factors.” • This article seems to be well-received on the Twitter (for example), and not just by journalists, but the statistics are way above my paygrade. Perhaps some knowledgeable readers can work through it and comment.

“Use of portable air cleaners to reduce aerosol transmission on a hospital coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) ward” [Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology]. “Aerosols rapidly travelled from the patient room into other parts of the ward. Air cleaners were effective in increasing the clearance of aerosols from the air in clinical spaces and reducing their spread to other areas. With 2 small domestic air cleaners in a single patient room of a hospital ward, 99% of aerosols could be cleared within 5.5 minutes…. Air cleaners may be useful in clinical spaces to help reduce the risk of acquisition of respiratory viruses that are transmitted via aerosols. They are easy to deploy and are likely to be cost-effective in a variety of healthcare settings.” • Belatedly, even hospitals get into the act!

“The Best Covid-19 Testing Method for International Travel? There Are Problems” [Frommers]. Travel to the United States. “In January 2021, the CDC began requiring everyone flying into the United States to show a negative Covid-19 test result. The results must be provided by anyone over the age of 2 within 3 days of departure and must be either from an antigen test or a nucleic acid amplification (NAAT) test. The airlines are responsible for inspecting those results. In May, the CDC started allowing so-called “take-at-home” tests as well as ones administered in local clinics. Bringing your own test should be the easiest method, but some serious wrinkles have arisen in recent months.” • Reviews of the pros and cons of the various tests.

The Biosphere

UPDATE “This town is the first in America to ban new gas stations – is the tide turning?” [Guardian]. “In March, Petaluma in Sonoma county became the first city in the US to ban future gas station construction or any new pumps on existing sites. In July Sonoma county’s Regional Climate Protection Authority voted to explore ways to support the nine cities in the county considering bans of their own. A final vote on the resolution is scheduled for September. It’s the beginning of what could be a seismic shift. California now has the highest sales of electric vehicles (EVs) in the country…. But it’s not all good news. The long-term shift to electric and a mass closures of gas stations will create toxic “brown sites” across the country. A typical gas station can spill up to 100 gallons of gasoline annually, according to Coltura, an environmental activism group, poisoning groundwater and making repurposing the sites expensive and difficult. As gas stations disappear these poisoned plots will present an environmental problem of monumental proportions. That will be another problem to deal with but for now, at least in Petaluma, the end of the gas station is getting off to a surprisingly uncontentious start.”

UPDATE “U.S. Gulf of Mexico oil producers consolidation accelerates” [Reuters]. “Oil and gas producers in U.S. Gulf of Mexico have consolidated at a faster rate during the pandemic, new government data shows, as crashing prices squeezed out smaller drillers who had been seen as the industry’s future…. Smaller, private-equity backed firms that pushed into offshore fields last decade have struggled, leading several to exit while others slipped into bankruptcy… The top 10 producers — led by Royal Dutch Shell, BP, and Chevron — this year pumped 86% of the region’s 1.6 million barrels per day (bpd), up about 11 percentage points since 2017.”

UPDATE “PG&E cuts power to Bay Area customers across parts of 5 counties” [SFGATE]. “The lights went off in more than 10,000 households across five San Francisco Bay Area counties Tuesday night as PG&E preemptively cut power across Northern California to reduce the risk of wildfires caused by energized power lines…. The shutoff was implemented as dry offshore winds picked up, increasing the risk of fallen and damaged power lines sparking wildfires… The fire risk in California is high this year after back-to-back dry winters that have left vegetation parched and flammable.” • No, the fire risk is high because real estate interests built a lot of houses in the woods (and building codes didn’t do enough to protect them from forest fires, or mitigate their effects).

UPDATE “There is a fungus among us! Soils Matter” [Soils Matter, Get the Scoop!]. “For over four hundred million years, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi have been forming symbiotic relationships with plants around the globe. Found on almost every continent and in approximately 80% of vascular plants, these important fungi play a pivotal role in plant nutrient uptake in diverse ecosystems…. Plants seek to interact with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi to create a mutually beneficial relationship. Once the fungi and plant roots meet, the fungi penetrate the root cells. From there, the fungi create and establish incredible structures called arbuscules, which were named for their tree-like structure…. Sometimes referred to as “living fertilizers,” arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi have the potential to maintain yield while reducing some need for fertilizer. These fungi boost nutrient and water uptake. They can enhance soil structure. They even have been shown to improve plant responses stresses, such as soil salinization, heavy metal contamination, and extreme temperatures.”?


“Starving cows. Fallow farms. The Arizona drought is among the worst in the country” [Los Angeles Times]. “In Arizona, 99% of the land is undergoing years-long drought that has accelerated. Large swaths of the region are now in extreme distress and the picture may well get worse, with less reliable mountain snowfall to feed streams and a morphing monsoon season that has only proved a temporary reprieve and even led to flooding. The state, where more than a third of all water can trace itself up the Colorado River to Lake Mead, will also be forced to make do with less beginning next year because of the lake’s dwindling supply. ‘Arizona is pretty much an irrigated state and we’ve managed our water resources generally well,” said Stephanie Smallhouse, a fifth-generation cattle rancher on the far outskirts of Tucson who is the president of the Arizona Farm Bureau. “But it’s near impossible to manage yourself out of a drought.” • I dunno. Fly over the Southwest and you can see the land wasn’t meant for farming. That’s the other way of saying “an irrigated state.”

“Bolivia’s lake Poopo dries up and scientists fear refill unlikely” [Reuters]. “Bolivia’s Lake Poopo was once a fountain of life for local inhabitants, who fished from its teeming waters and farmed along its banks. Now it is a desert. Scientists say the one-time lake, which sprawls across Bolivia’s sun-drenched, high-altitude altiplano, has fallen victim to decades of water diversion for regional irrigation needs. And a warmer, drier climate has made its recovery increasingly unlikely. ‘It’s like a perfect storm,” says Jorge Molina, a researcher with the Universidad Mayor de San Andres. ‘Every year that passes the situation gets worse.’ The lake, Bolivia’s second largest, is very shallow, and has traditionally ebbed and flowed, according to both scientists and the lake’s long-time Aymara inhabitants. Valerio Rojas, who once made a living from fishing the lake, says village elders tell of the lake recharging every 50 years. But looking out across the parched, white-rimmed salt flat that remains, he has his doubts.” • “Needs”?

Zeitgeist Watch

Kill it with fire:

“With unruly passenger incidents on the rise, flight attendants turn to self-defense training” [ABC]. “The ‘friendly skies’ are becoming almost unrecognizable, with record numbers of flight attendants being verbally and physically attacked on flights. The Federal Aviation Administration received 3,810 reports of unruly passengers this year alone – 2,786 of those involving travelers who refused to wear a mask. As a result, flight attendants are increasingly turning to self-defense training to learn how to defuse situations as well as protect themselves and their passengers…. While this type of training is free, flight attendants must come on their own time and pay for their travel and lodging. The head of the country’s largest flight attendant union is pushing for the government to make the course a federal mandate. ‘This is the biggest direct threat to flight attendants that we have ever faced,’ Sara Nelson, flight attendant and president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, told ABC News. ‘It really is something that should be a part of our regular training with repeated muscle memory actions so that you can respond so that you’re not in shock and you can respond to those immediate actions.'”

Class Warfare


So Russia was a dry run for deaths of despair?

“The Leisure Class Always Wins” [The Atlantic]. “This is decor that, much like the wealthy guests it is meant to delight, does not know when to stop. It is decor that suggests the voracious appetites of people who will keep consuming not because they want to, but simply because they can. The guests of the White Lotus assume that the world revolves around them. The resort’s decor, gaudy and grim, proves them right.” • Rather like that Afghan warlord’s decor, though that may have been classier….

News of the Wired

“Over 100 Unpublished Hokusai Drawings Resurface in New Exhibition” [HyperAllergic]. “[S]ome of the most intriguing works Hokusai created over the course of his seven-decade career have remained comparatively secretive. Among them is a group of 103 small drawings the artist produced for an unpublished encyclopedia titled Banmotsu ehon daizen zu (The Great Picture Book of Everything), to be shown at the British Museum in an eponymous exhibition opening this September.” • Yay!

(“Daoist master Zhou Sheng ascends a cloud-ladder to the moon”)

Like the Catbus, except a house:

* * *

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: (TH):

TH writes: “I love flowers like this Milfoil that are a little bouquet all by themselves.”

* * *

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If you hate PayPal, you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check. Thank you!2:00PM Water Cooler 6/8/2021

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Samuel Conner

    > So all things work together for good!

    you left out the last part of that allusion (here suitably adapted to context):

    ‘to them that love Mammon and are called according to its purposes.’

    1. Michael Ismoe

      If the Haitians were smart, they’d start dressing like Arabs and building mosques. Two trillion dollars would be a godsend to that country.

      (Oh yeah – the Clintons are banned as infidels.)

  2. zagonostra


    I’m praising Joe Biden. This departure took guts. It takes guts in a culture so steeped in simulacra, manufactured myth, and incessant political maneuvering to do a thing that’s simultaneously necessary and sure to produce unsavory results.

    Not sure how much of this was Biden’s doing. You would of thought that withdrawal could have been better arranged. I think more accurate portrayal than counterpunch’s perspective is to be found in the quote from this morning’s link below.

    Though relieved we are leaving Afghan, I feel no obligation to praise Biden. He, or who ever is behind the curtain, will just Pivot MIC to different area of the world.

    How Much is Experience Worth? Twenty Years of US Experiments in the Middle East Valdai Discussion Club

    [T]he global wealth and influence of the United States was so great that it could simply afford a 20-year campaign with no practical value. With the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, the American government has reached the conclusion that this state of affairs has come to an end. The painful experience gained in the Middle East is gradually being absorbed by the American elites, who have proved to be much more careful in the crisis in Syria than before in Libya. And in Libya they are now much more cautious than before in Iraq.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      I’m seeing attempts to give Biden all the credit for the withdrawal and others trying to demonize him for it, but I think it’s more nuanced than that.

      It was Trump who set a withdrawal date of May 1. General public opinion is against continuing this war and leaving after 20 years was not at all unpopular, so this wasn’t really a big political risk for Trump. Biden took office and extended the deadline to September. My theory is that Biden and the Democrat party didn’t want Trump to get the credit for ending the conflict which likely would have happened had it ended on Trump’s terms. Biden’s people wanted an orderly withdrawal that he could take credit for. The Afghanis and the Taliban likely weren’t thrilled at one more extended deadline and called the the Democrat party’s bluff, forcing the US out in complete disgrace.

      Now Biden owns this tail between the legs debacle and deservedly so – that what you get for playing politics with people’s lives.

      1. Aumua

        You say ‘forcing the US out in complete disgrace’ and ‘tail between the legs debacle’ like they’re bad things. I for one hope the U.S. empire continues to get checked hard on the world stage. Maybe after enough humiliation, we’ll find a little humility. Probably not, but one can dream.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > My theory is that Biden and the Democrat party didn’t want Trump to get the credit for ending the conflict which likely would have happened had it ended on Trump’s terms. Biden’s people wanted an orderly withdrawal that he could take credit for.

        That’s where I am.

        And I’m sure there were plenty of briefing books and national security goons* that told Biden the withdrawal would give him a decent interval (say, until after the reconciliation bill is passed).

        So, whether the briefers were lying to Biden or sabotaging him is the question, and it could be both. I mean, children of six knew the whole enterprise would collapse when we left; the only issue was the speed.

        NOTE * These are the guys Biden should be hanging out to dry right now, as Hudson points out. But Biden isn’t. Could be that (a) the West Wing is molasses-brained, which we know. They simply don’t react quickly to anything. Or (b) the West Wing lacks a killer instinct. Where’s Rahm when we need him? Or (c) a subset of (a): The West Wing is rocked by the scale of the backstabbing and needs time to process it, and muster supportive factions in the party. Or (d) The Blob has Biden by the short and curlies in some unspecified way (Hunter?) Or (e) Biden truly believes that the military industrial complex represents all that is best in America — especially if campaign contributions are involved — and doesn’t believe it should be held to account.

        I do think Biden needs a nice little winning military operation. The usual suspects couldn’t deliver Venezuela for Trump; I don’t see why Biden would do better. Cuba went pffft!, unsurprisingly. Haiti is a quagmire.

        I’d say some place in Africa. If only we could save some kidnapped, hopefully Christian, children with an airborne operation, or something clean and simple like that.

        1. Hazel Down

          Isn’t it just more Kabuki theater? It will become another client state. Pipelines will be looked after and the alternative to MMT (fiat poppies?) will still be managed by the heaviest hand in the world.

      3. Procopius

        @Lyman Alpha Blob – I think your analysis is wrong. Obama, after all, withdrew from Iraq on Bush’s timetable, and I remember many statements in the press during 2010 saying he was struggling hard to get the Iraqis to agree to a Status of Forces Agreement that would exempt American troops from Iraqi law so we could stay. He still got all the blame for the problems that arose later, although I did see the occasional attempt to remind people that Bush made the agreement. I don’t suppose I’ll live long enough to find out what actually happened, but I’ll bet Blinken and Nuland fought hard to keep it from happening.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      I don’t want to credit Biden, but it’s important to recognize a Bob Menendez Investigation is about pretending the war was good until Biden or Trump.

      1. Darthbobber

        Bob Menendez has spent years watching the baking of this cake (with another scathing IG report arriving in his office every year, presumably round-filed instantly judging by the lack of attention from him or any of the overseers.)

        If he had any interest in this cake, it was confined to how much batter he could have to lick. And now, eons too late to make any practical difference, he and his fellow abrogators of responsibility want to run for the microphones to scream “how could this happen?”

    3. Dr. John Carpenter

      I’ve learned every time I praise one of these ghouls for finally doing the right thing, it’s only a matter of time until they reveal the reason for the action and we’re back where we were, if not worse. So I’ll just leave it at: I’m glad we’re leaving finally. (I also agree with lyman alpha blob’s take on this above mine.)

      1. Aumua

        We’re all always waiting for the other shoe to drop, of course. But… for 20 years my position has been that we shouldn’t be over there and that we should leave ASAP, by whatever means necessary. So here we are and I have to mark this up in the ‘pros’ column for Biden (or his administration at any rate). Hell I’m even considering voting for the guy next time if he runs again.

        Now if he does something about the college debt and the medical care then I’ll definitely vote for him. Keep going Joe! You’re not there yet.

    4. The Rev Kev

      For the past twenty-four hours I have been reading or listening to all these security people tearing strips of old Joe and saying that a few thousand soldiers should have been left behind with their drones, air power, etc. to continue operations. Have they been watching the news? The country fell, even the capital. Game over Red Rover. To keep on operating, they would have needed the permission of the Taliban to leave them there – to keep on bombing the Taliban. Yeah, not going to happen. Just how many rice bowls got broken anyhow? Are all these criticism just hissy fits?

      1. JTMcPhee

        Hey, the “Coalition” and the Taliban and warlords had in many cases a nice working relationship. The Taliban/warlords got to finger other Afghans who they did not like to get Hellfired or laser-guided-bombed. And the “Coalition” paid the insurgents to drive the trucks in the convoys that delivered petroleum (at $400 a GALLON) and munitions to the currently hot “area of operation,” and paid the insurgents not to attack the convoys as they made their way from Pakistan down the Kohler Pass or from Bagram to the hot zone of the week. https://thenewamerican.com/is-us-funding-both-sides-in-afghan-war/ Where the Brass A$$es told the Troops that “Operation Bogus Idiocy” or whatever was going to be th eTurning Point in the War and they could go home and tell their grandchildren that “they were there, and won the war.”

        So there was plenty of precedent for that kind of accommodation, but the mostly Pashtun Taliban, as they and their predecessors have made abundantly clear for hundreds of years, finally just wanted the invaders to get the hell out of their Afghan Homeland. Having fleeced the US idiots for quite a few billion bucks as part of the vast money laundering scam that was this whole freaking “war.”

  3. Sawdust

    I could use a laugh. Someone please explain to me how Spätzl and pierógi were appropriated by white people.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      After that, we’ll do banh mi sandwiches (English) with baguettes (French) and then pho (or, as the French say, pot-au-feu[1]).

      NOTE * I’m only talking about the word pho; Southeast Asian cusine is so insanely various it’s foolish for a non-local to say that anybody invented any dish, although villages and regions do have their specialties).

      1. lance ringquist

        ”Democratization of finance.” Who invented that one? i used to hear bill clinton and joe leiberman bark and bray this when they were deregulating the hedge funds.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cabbage_roll

        Cabbage rolls:

        It is common to the cuisines of Central, Northern, Eastern and Southeastern Europe and much of Western Asia, Northern China, as well as parts of North Africa.

        I think back to Michael Pollan’s concept, in Botany of Desire, that plants cultivate us. All the plants care about is reproducing and spreading by adapting ways to appeal to our senses. They don’t care about our identities in the slightest.

    2. Lee

      Being of Anglo-Celtic extraction, if I couldn’t engage in culinary cultural appropriation, I’d sooner starve. Apologies to the ancestors. You did the best you could.

        1. Geo

          I love pasties. Haggis, not so much.

          Grew up in a home where pepper was the only spice and anything not meat or potato came from a can.

          Agree with Lee above. If I cannot enjoy Thai, Indian, and the cuisine of other cultures I’d probably decide to give it all up as well.

  4. bradford

    They did do breakthrough cases separately. The tweet points to the DC and Utah statistics sites; Utah even has vaxxed/unvaxxed comparisons for just the last 28 days, which is a good way to do it. Comparing totals for the whole epidemic is misleading because nobody was vaccinated for a large part of it; I think that’s where the numbers like 99% that are sometimes trumpeted come from.

      1. Ripple

        Question about rapid rise counties graphic:
        Being a New Mexican, I am curious about the sharply delineated difference between the counties in southeastern NM and those counties across the border in Texas . . . Seems the power of a line on the map is impressive. Any explanations for that?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I don’t know the area. Sometimes in fact lines on the map are that powerful on the ground; see Brad DeLong in this morning’s links. There could also be issues with reporting, or with different immigration zeitgeist in each area. Over to you, since you are local!

          1. Michael Ismoe

            Having just travelled through New Mexico, I can assure you that most New Mexicans were masked indoors, restaurants were restricted (only half occupancy and mostly al fresco). Don’t believe the Texans were as observant.

      2. Objective Ace

        I know the CDC has officially changed its policy: if your vaccinated and exposed to someone–go get tested. But I assume the implementation of this change is still lax relative to an unvaccinated person who his exposed

        Are other people believing these are the true break through percentages?

  5. Sawdust

    War Nerd’s comment on Obama summarizes why PMC liberals love him so much. Their idea of democracy is keeping the rabble pacified and disempowered.

  6. zagonostra

    I’m watching Anti-mandatory vaccine and green passports protest take place in Riga, Latvia on Ruptly TV (RT). I go to google news to see if there is an mention, nada. Google News is becoming a worthless resource for breaking news.

    The protest is peaceful and large, no one is wearing a mask, a lot of singing, age group from very young to old. I sincerely hope we some protest in the U.S. with vaccinated and unvaccinated standing shoulder to shoulder.

    1. Pamina

      I am totally opposed to vaccine mandates but I will not stand shoulder to shoulder with the unmasked.

    2. Objective Ace

      Its not just google news. Its all of google and it has nothing to do with the breaking news. Its controversial news that is the issue. Specifically, news Google has not decided theyre okay with. If there was a rally for vaccinations you’d see it in a heart beat

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Google News is becoming a worthless resource for breaking news.

      This is been true for some years. The links skew global and natural. Local venues are linked to if they run a wire service story, and the same story appears over and over again in search. For awhile, the entire feed was gamed by no-name SEO operators running sites you never heard of.

      I never use Google News for anything ever.

  7. chrimbus

    this article was making the rounds on twitter yesterday, pointing at very questionable (i.e. fabricated) data having been used in a PNAS paper from 2012 about whether or not agreeing to provide truthful information at the beginning (instead of the end) of a contract/form/whatever causes one to provide more truthful information. Coauthor of this paper Dan Ariely has gone on to work for dubious softbank funded AI based insurance company Lemonade as its “chief behavioral officer”.

    1. Duke of Prunes

      Fraud in a research paper about dishonesty. Hard to believe (not) given the “repeatability crisis” across all research (especially in the “soft sciences”)

  8. HotFlash

    “Rich Investors Are Buying Risky Credit That Banks Won’t Touch”

    The big boys are wading into the payday loan biz.

    1. Mildred Montana


      “Blackstone Group Inc., Carlyle Group Inc., Apollo Global Management Inc. and other large firms have started offering products for individuals to invest in loans to midsized companies that banks won’t touch. The lure is a potential annual return at times surpassing 8%…”

      1. The big boys aren’t interested in small-potatoes payday loans.

      2. In this case, what they are doing is trying to fob off billion-dollar “products” (notice the clever use of that word), not the plain old vanilla bonds or debt of these companies. The abbreviations CDO’s, MBS’s, etc. from 2008 should come to mind. Not debt but “products”.

      3.. Whatever’s left over of these “products” after the suckers, er, investors have been fleeced, the big boys just unload to the Fed. The Fed has an insatiable appetite for junk food.

      4. Why are the big boys selling these “products”? If they’re such a good deal, why don’t they keep it for themselves, like they do with hot IPO’s?

      5.. 8% annual return? Hmm…If it’s too good to be true…

  9. Mark

    “Why CAPTCHA Pictures Are So Unbearably Depressing”

    Why do I need to do up to 8 CAPTCHAS via Cloudfare to get access to this site using a VPN?

  10. curlydan

    A lot of families may be spending more than in 2020 until the end of the year:
    “This second batch of advance [Child Tax Credit] monthly payments, worth about $15 billion, are reaching about 36 million families today across the country.”

    These are to be made in 6 equal and monthly payments from July through December. The average is $416 per family per month.


    1. Michael Ismoe

      Between this and Afghanistan, I am ALMOST sorry I didn’t vote for Biden. “We’re better off with the senile guy” – does that fit on a bumper sticker?

    1. The Rev Kev

      Maybe somebody went around their cabin all those centuries ago – and planted an acorn at each corner. Going up!

  11. Kelly

    A different
    Glenn Greenwald
    “In case you’re still confused about why the US security state and political class loathes Julian Assange so much and wants him imprisoned forever, watch this video of him in 2011 talking about the purpose of the war in Afghanistan. He’s imprisoned because he’s a real journalist:
    Quote Tweet
    · 9h
    Julian Assange speaking in 2011: “The goal is to use Afghanistan to wash money out of the tax bases of the US and Europe through Afghanistan and back into the hands of a transnational security elite. The goal is an endless war, not a successful war” #Afghanistan”

    Don’t know how to link Tweets. It’s further down from the
    “You racialize a stranger” Tweet which has a link near top of this page.

    1. AE90

      he told me in particular that he wanted a managing editor who did what he said rather than pushing back. …turns out he thought I should be his servant

      This may have been “wanting to discuss and broaden understanding” but…Nathan sounds no-win to me. Why these kinds of people are not just left to “do it yourself, then!” I will never know. We all need a GBI just to let this guy cut his own lawn and do his own dishes, on top of doing what he tells himself to do.

      1. KLG

        Ha! Nathan J. Robinson and Current Affairs. Yes, sounds about right. NJR was always too cute for words, of which he had millions. Turns out he couldn’t manage his self image, either. At least I’ll save money on that subscription, now, which will not be renewed. Not that it will still exist to get renewed when the time comes.

        1. Basil Pesto

          what I was getting at was a bit more basic/fundamental, though I was being obtuse: people like to be in control of things they’ve created

          1. Jeff W

            The organization has been heading slowly for some sort of reckoning where it was going to have to be made clear once and for all what kind of authority I wanted to have over it. And I was in denial about the fact that the answer is I think I should be on top of the org chart, with everyone else selected by me and reporting to me. I let Current Affairs build up into a sort of egalitarian community of friends while knowing in my heart that I still thought of it as my project over which I should have control.
            —email message from Nathan J Robinson, 8 August 2021

    2. Sawdust

      What a shame. I like Robinson’s writing, and he’s more thorough and balanced than most people these days. I guess this is why the Bearded One had no time for bourgeois socialists.

    3. Paradan

      so, a little nazi flew in through the window and said this whole thing is actually about Robinson criticizing Israel a few months back. Some people get really upset when you do that, especially if you have a platform to do it from.

      1. CoryP

        I think that’s why he no longer writes for the Guardian but I have trouble seeing how these staffers would be so motivated. I have read a lot of stuff by Lyta and Aisling and I don’t see it.

        And this situation is congruent with my impression of NJR. But then, there are some writers I love that are egotistical control freaks so… just confirming my biases I guess.

  12. FreeMarketApologist

    “how about having the public briefing at the same time as the private briefing?”

    So then everybody, rather than just those in the briefing, could have a chance to call their brokers with buy/sell orders. (which pretty much explains why they didn’t)

  13. petal

    Did Abbott’s breakthrough case get counted somewhere even though he’s not hospitalised?
    On the local front, the anti-vaccine mandate/passport protesters are still at it, and now pro-vaccine mandate/passport protesters have set up shop across the road from them. This according to my morning bus driver. He was sort of joking they’d probably be having a knockdown-drag out fight by this afternoon. On campus, it’s still mostly students infected(12). The positive staff numbers have dropped back down(3). 11 total positive test results this week so far-another spike. The educational institution is still testing unvaccinated 2x a week and vaccinated 1x a month.

  14. Harpo

    ”PG&E cuts power to Bay Area customers across parts of 5 counties” [SFGATE]. “The lights went off in more than 10,000 households across five San Francisco Bay Area counties Tuesday night as PG&E preemptively cut power across Northern California to reduce the risk of wildfires caused by energized power lines….”

    Welcome to your new, all electric home!

    Meanwhile, your “polluting” neighbors in homes with natural gas can cook, enjoy hot water and use gas fireplaces for heat and light.

    This is from the Sierra Club, which incidentally refuses to even acknowledge immigration driven population growth and resource use as an issue.


    1. barefoot charley

      The Sierra Club had a very divisive conflict over immigration years ago which culminated in a sweep of Board seats by the immigrationistas. No one better mention it since.

      1. Wukchumni

        I know a lot of backcountry rangers here, and they dread running into a troop of Boy Scouts almost as much as a Sierra Club group.

      2. Veronica

        An excellent October 2009 Jerry Kammer article, “Strategic Negligence: How the Sierra Club’s Distortions on Border and Immigration Policy Are Undermining Its Environmental Legacy,” with 35 references, summarizes how the Sierra Club has been subsequently used as a tool for open borders advocacy.

        As a former Sierra Club member, I found this sellout to be repugnant. I hope that the connection between overpopulation and environmental destruction will be restored by the Sierra Club and that they will repudiate the policies procured from 2004 to present by multimillionaire David Gelbaum and his allies.


        1. Aumua

          Well moving people from here to there doesn’t really change the overall population, does it? So it’s not really about overpopulation, but more about reducing the undesirable population in your area.

          From : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Center_for_Immigration_Studies

          The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) is an anti-immigration think tank. It favors far lower immigration numbers, and produces analyses to further those views. The CIS was founded by historian Otis L. Graham and eugenicist and white nationalist John Tanton.

          I know I know… Wikipedia and all that, but still…

    2. Anthony Stegman

      The Sierra Club is also silent regarding the transformation of American car culture from medium and large sedans to enormous pickups and SUVs. It turns out that lots of Sierra Club members drive the later type vehicles.

  15. Lee

    The Bezzle: “Autonomous trucking companies are rushing to tap public markets, but their road to commercial success remains anything but clear.

    “Investors have ploughed billions into autonomous ventures whose success also depends on factors outside their control, including crafting highway regulations and insurance policies for robot trucks hauling heavy loads down public roads.

    Oddly, saboteurs didn’t make the list of “factors outside their control.”

  16. Wukchumni

    I say we invade Laughganistan next, and yes i’m talking about the Gulag Hockeypelago, where an inordinate amount of talent has already fled south of border in attempts to enrich their lives entertaining us with comedy & music.

    It won’t be easy to get $400 a gallon delivered F.O.B. Kabul for go juice like in the old days earlier this week, but we’ll figure out a way to do a proper gouge on hopefully another long stint in dubious battle.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > My first thought is that if this is true, the Taliban has learned a lot more in twenty years

      When I did links yesterday morning, my takeaway was that at least the Taliban had gotten themselves a good PR person, in their twenty years out of power.

  17. Brunches with Cats

    Re: Atlas Parkour

    How would you use the pitchfork for the equivalent of a sharp kick in the nuts?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > “Study finds that people will even refuse to turn a robot off — if it begs for its life.”

        So you get the damned thing get up off the ground… And then it kills you. So long, sucker…

    1. SD

      Did anyone else get the feeling that that Boston Dynamics video was off somehow? The lighting didn’t always appear consistent to my eye and it looks like it was very cleverly edited, i.e., not a single take. I watched it on my 2013 Macbook which has an irredeemably smudged screen, so I could easily be wrong about this.

  18. drumlin woodchuckles

    Governors like Abbott and DeSandis and Ducey and other public health opponents deserve to live to age 120 years with life-long-tail covid. One hopes they get what they deserve.

    1. Wukchumni

      Costello: Hey Abbott, who gets it first?

      Abbott: Yes.

      Costello: I mean the fellow’s name

      Abbott: Who?

      Costello: The Governor that tests positive in the first place.

  19. zagonostra

    >Obama’s Afghan Legacy?

    There was none. He just continued the Bush Legacy just like he did with meaningful economic reform. Where is he now? Probably recovering from his 60th bash (funny thing is I turned 60 in June and also celebrated with family at Martha’s Vineyard, at a campground on the Island, it was a little less extravagant).

  20. PHLDenizen

    RE: Boosters

    IIRC, IM Doc and maybe GM(?) disclosed the presence of some trials examining the effect of 3rd and 4th boosters. There was evidence of each subsequent jab provoking increasingly violent immunoreactivity, to the degree that some participants bailed after the 3rd. Haven’t seen any updates here or elsewhere. Anyone know anything? I’m not keen on getting knocked down by a wicked cytokine storm.

    I’m still pissed that the Faucis of the world have deemed the interaction between female reproductive anatomy and the mRNA vaccine to be unworthy of study. I’ve heard and read lots of anecdotes, particularly from younger women whose menstrual cycles function like clockwork, only to discover weird things post-vaccine.

    They’re worried (rightfully so) that Pfizer or Moderna may end up making it difficult or impossible to have kids. And, of course, they’re waved off with “well, it’s been a stressful year and OF COURSE your cycle is going to be off! It’s absolutely safe! No proof of anything! That’s just misinformation and irrational fear!” If dudes started having issues with their dicks, there would be mass rioting.

    My perimenopausal SO had some heavy bleeding subsequent to the shot. A couple months later, they did a transvaginal ultrasound and discovered her endometrial thickness was 11mm. Her doctor was a little freaked out, since at her age and rapidly approaching menopause, 5 is WNL. Anything over that and the likelihood of cancer goes up orders of magnitude. I think 5mm is the threshold between 0.07% and 7%. The accompanying bleeding doesn’t help.

    Could be coincidental to the vaccine, but since the uterus is a highly immunoreactive organ, maybe the vaccine had something to do with it. Ideally, they’d be doing transvaginal ultrasounds across a large cohort to gauge this (or maybe there’s a better clinical indicator — I am not a physician), but that isn’t going to happen.

    For a country that celebrates feminism and diversity, the medical establishment sure seems to hate women.

      1. Basil Pesto


        let me guess, your moral authority for sexual responsibility comes (no pun intended) from… the old testament?

    1. Acacia

      > There was evidence of each subsequent jab provoking increasingly violent immunoreactivity

      I am also curious to learn more about this.

      Further, the comments from GM in the recent post on Andy Slavitt struck me as worthy of further discussion. He (i.e., GM) cited a study published in BioRxiv that addressed outcomes with additional boost vaccinations, though a proper reading of the research is likely above my pay grade.

      Some other observations by GM were also worthy of amplification, I felt, e.g.: (1) “testing is useless without supported isolation”; (2) “investment in new testing technologies ended in the middle of last year”; (3) “there is no middle ground” between the goal of eliminating the virus versus ‘let ‘er rip’, and most public health authorities have been implicitly backing the latter since the beginning; (4) “rich countries will have to help poor countries”; and (5) “there is literally a public health algorithm for stopping epidemics like the current ones, saving the maximum number of lives, and restoring ‘normality’. The Chinese, NZ and Australia (minus NSW) run it very successfully every time. The US, UK, etc. governments blatantly refuse to follow it.”

      Again, I lack the expertise to draw out all the implications of what GM is arguing, and to formulate a clearer outline of the “public health algorithm” that could bring this epidemic under better control, but it strikes me as rather important to do so. My hunch is that ‘let ‘er rip’ is happening because it serves rather narrow business interests of large corporations and the politicians they own (i.e., could be subsumed under the rules of neoliberalism), but I am more interested in the specifics of what a truly effective public health policy for managing this epidemic would look like.

  21. ChiGal in Carolina

    Despite the Science article’s “grim warning” headline, the text includes the below:

    The sheer number of vaccinated Israelis means some breakthrough infections were inevitable, and the unvaccinated are still far more likely to end up in the hospital or die.

    People vaccinated in January had a 2.26 times greater risk for a breakthrough infection than those vaccinated in April. (Potential confounders include the fact that the very oldest Israelis, with the weakest immune systems, were vaccinated first.)

    As of 15 August, 514 Israelis were hospitalized with severe or critical COVID-19, a 31% increase from just 4 days earlier. Of the 514, 59% were fully vaccinated. Of the vaccinated, 87% were 60 or older.

    It’s not just vaccination status, it’s also age and comorbidities.

      1. Skunk

        “In all, 223 Illinois residents considered to be fully vaccinated have died from COVID-19, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health website. That’s 3.1% of all COVID-19 deaths recorded in the state since Jan. 1.”

        The last 7 days may not be representative.

        1. Duke of Prunes

          Agree. One week of data does not create a trend. On the other hand, there’s been anecdotal information that the vaccines are wearing off so there may be a meaningful difference between trends in August vs. looking at all the data since January. It could also be the Simpson paradox. I haven’t seen any age breakouts for this data.

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      Sorry, didn’t clarify, the article was about the Israeli data, to Lambert’s question up top: when is 60% not an alarming number?

      When they’re all old and sick.

      Heading back to the Chi next week, Duke—let’s hope masking and FLCCC and staying away from sharing indoor air helps!

  22. Pelham

    Re “Despite dire warning about climate change and fossil fuels, energy investors aren’t swayed”:

    Early in my career I did some reporting on futures markets, which then were principally all about crops and precious metals. It struck me early on that this world was somehow detached from everything else. Major events reported in mainstream media that one might assume would shake these markets often didn’t, though there were exceptions. On the other end of the news spectrum, closely held information of potentially great consequence usually turned out to be nothingburgers as well.

    And in the long run, commodity investors and their beloved markets usually proved to be right. So when I see reporting like this from the LA Times, I’m heartened. Climate change? The fossil insiders know with quiet certainty that no more than minor disruptions to their markets are even possible. China continues to build great bunches of coal-fired power plants, and climbing CO2 levels in the atmosphere suggest rock-steady demand for fossil products.

    Broadly speaking, we need more reporting that examines world events paired with the reaction of big money concentrations ostensibly affected by said events. Take the pullout from Afghanistan. Does this mean the forever wars are behind us? Perhaps. But how are defense contractors reacting and what’s happening to their share prices? That could tell us a lot. We might also keep an eye on the career paths of leading military brass and intel officials.

      1. Pelham

        In the sense that someone is reporting on this stuff in this way, pairing the event (the emergency report on climate change) with what we might call the real world of markets (where participants know nothing much will be done).

    1. Wukchumni

      The biggest oscillation I can remember with element #79 was the period between when Reagan got shot and when it was learned he was going to be ok, I think there was a $140 worth of swing up & down per ounce that day, trading near what it was the day before @ the close.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > we need more reporting that examines world events paired with the reaction of big money concentrations ostensibly affected by said events

      Good point. The people who own that money concentrations are likely to be right. Until they aren’t.

  23. Greg

    Re: Israeli data

    The “Simpson’s paradox” story is actually pretty straightforward, and very reassuring regarding vaccine effectiveness against delta.

    The short version is – if you unstack the vax vs unvax Israeli data by age, you see that the proportion vaxxed in hospital is in fact in line with >90% effectiveness against severe infection.
    This happens because there are a chunk of young israeli’s who are infected with delta, and the proportion vaxxed in israel declines as the cohorts get younger.

    Simpson’s paradox is that grouped data can have a different trend when examined as one mass than it does when examined in the groups that make it up. This is the case in israel, where hospitalisation for covid by age bracket and vax status is a different story to hospitalisation across the whole population just by vax status.

    The table at the very bottom with the full dataset in ten-year age brackets is most informative and worth showing in the next WC.

    1. Icecube12

      I also really appreciated this link. I have spent the last couple weeks trying to figure out the raw numbers from Iceland’s current covid wave and have posted about them here. I have been trying to square those raw numbers with what the Icelandic chief epidemiologist and other experts here have been saying regarding high efficiency against severe disease and hospitalization. I knew there must be some statistical explanation for the apparent disconnect, and I can sort of follow this one, so yeah, I also find this fairly reassuring.

      1. RMO

        The data here in BC suggest that the vaccines are still quite effective in reducing infection and greatly reducing the chance that infection will require hospitalization. We got a late start on vaccination compared to the US and we’ve reached over 70% of the entire population being fully vaccinated (over 80% of the population over 12 that can be vaccinated) though which is a combination of relatively recent vaccinations and a high vaccination level. I still think it was colossally boneheaded to drop most of the precautions we had in place a short time ago – group sizes, indoor dining, mask mandates etc. We got as low as 20 new cases in a 24 hour period in a population of over five million but once the masks came off the case shot up again to the hundreds. At least the death rate seems much lower than earlier waves though.

  24. Wukchumni

    The final score for the Marmot Cong in Mineral King this summer appears to be 3 disabled cars, each in need of a tow out down to the Central Valley

    They really are only a threat to the well being of radiator hoses & the anti-freeze (ingesting it would kill a cat or dog, but it gets the marms a little drunk apparently) they cherish through about the middle of July typically, and then they go on the wagon, and talking about wagons, Mineral King road is my 25 mile long driveway with 698 significant curves, and was originally built as a wagon road in 1879 and improved somewhat along the way a number of times since, is going to be renovated in a big way, starting in a couple years. It’s a $50 million project that could take as long as 5 years to complete.

    The Eagle-Mosquito Lakes trailhead is actually owned by the Disney Corporation and is a nasty mixture of broken asphalt, protruding rocks, a mish-mash of gravel, and the rest dirt. Locals know it as ‘The Disney Parking Lot’.

    Federal department of transportation pledges funding to Mineral King Road renovations

    SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK – The twisty-turning 1870’s wagon trail, now known as Mineral King Road that leads to the high Sierra’s Mineral King Valley is set to get a major upgrade. The federal government has agreed to fund the road almost five decades after the popular hiking destination became part of Sequoia National Park.

    Work on 15.3 miles of the 25-mile partially paved road could start in 2023 and take up to five years to complete. The steep and narrow road has nearly 400 curves and climbs 6,500 feet from Three Rivers to the Switzerland-like valley once coveted by Walt Disney for a ski resort. Amazingly, Disney still owns five acres in the valley at the end of the road with no hope of ever building that ski village. The National Park Service (NPS) has been negotiating for years to acquire it.


    My driveway, on speed:


  25. IM

    Re: Israeli data: How can efficacy vs. severe disease be strong when 60% of hospitalized are vaccinated?” [Covid 19 Data Science]. I teach EBM. This is an excellent walk through of the data and also a great natural example of Simpson’s paradox, which I honestly couldn’t explain better than the author does. Overall, very reassuring about the efficacy of the vaccine against severe disease in the context of delta, in a pragmatic and large real world sample.

  26. William Hunter Duncan

    “A play in two acts:”

    I’m trying to imagine being that woman’s psychiatrist, trying to get her to take responsibility for her life and focus.

    Now I am trying to imagine defending myself against charges of malpractice…

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Isn’t this exactly typical and archetypal among the Social Justice Warrior Left of Color? Isn’t pretending to be offended in order to extract psychic humiliation and obedience and subservience from the racially selected and targeted European American victims of their Racist of Color extortionism what they live to do?
      Isn’t this the very essence of Social Justice Warriorrness?

      Well, yes. In fact it is.

      1. William Hunter Duncan

        Yes, both hypersensitive about “oppression” etc grievance, while at the same time authoritarian absolutist in condemnation.

  27. allan

    University of Alabama at Huntsville professor leaves his tenured job over the university’s pandemic planning,
    saying he can’t be part of the disaster he fears will unfold this fall
    [Inside Higher Ed]

    A tenured professor at the University of Alabama at Huntsville resigned this week over the institution’s COVID-19 mitigation policies — or, in his view, the lack thereof.

    “Some faculty, staff and administrators are looking the other way, holding their tongues, holding their noses, or holding their breath in fear as they prepare to convene or attend in-person gatherings on campus,” Jeremy Fischer, the professor, wrote in his resignation letter. “It seems that only when we reach a political as well as a public health crisis will our university move most or all classes safely online. But this is a moral emergency, not a time for craven and timorous or self-serving responses.” …

    Huntsville recently adopted an indoor mask mandate, but it has no mandatory social distancing, no comprehensive testing regimen and, according to state law, no vaccine mandate. All classes will be in person. …

    The Alabama Hospital Association says there are currently only two ICU beds left in the state, of 1,562 total. …

    File under The Groves Great Reset of Academe.

  28. The Rev Kev

    ‘Dwayne David Paul
    They killed local competition through lobbying and artificially low rates. Now that they’re the biggest game in a lot of places, they can do all sorts of unethical stuff.’

    The comparison between an UberX and a Comfort is interesting but he should have included what the price would have been if it was an actual taxi-cab.

    Working link for “With unruly passenger incidents on the rise, flight attendants turn to self-defense training” article is at https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/unruly-passenger-incidents-rise-flight-attendants-turn-defense/story?id=79426562

    What? No more Air Marshals?

    1. RMO

      The reasoning I’ve heard is that Air Marshalls are supposed to stay under cover except in the case of an incident involving firearms or explosives – true or not I can’t say.

      Part of me thinks the best option would be to bring back the 727, remove the “D.B. Cooper Vanne” that prevents the airstair door from being opened in flight and mandate it, or new aircraft with similar airstair doors under the tail be used on all domestic flights. Then the violently disruptive passengers can be taken off the flight with little disruption to the flight plan. Heck, I’ll even be nice and say they should be given a National 490 chute and be shown where the D-ring is before they are disembarked.

  29. urblintz


    How CDC data problems put the U.S. behind on the delta variant
    Critics say the CDC’s failure to share real-time data led to overly rosy assessments of vaccine effectiveness — and complacency on the part of many Americans

    CDC officials declined to identify what data they had cited at that meeting with Pfizer officials. But on Wednesday, more than a month later, the agency published a trio of reports showing similar trendlines as the earlier Israeli studies — declining protection against the delta variant as it became dominant in the United States.

    “The moment there’s something really problematic, it should be shared,” said Eric Topol, professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research. “In the time it takes to get out an MMWR report [a weekly scientific digest], too many people have gotten infected, too many people have gotten long covid, too many people among them have gotten very sick, some even getting hospitalized.”

  30. The Rev Kev

    Lambert was saying ‘50.9% of the US is fully vaccinated, a big moment, breaking the psychological 50% barrier. Every day, a tenth of a percentage point upward.’ but I think that there is more to it than that. By the time that you reach most of the population vaccinated, surely the vaccine would have worn off for that first generation of volunteer double-vaxers. And that means that they would have to go for booster shots. So instead of thinking of those progression as like a straight line chart, perhaps it should be thought more off as a circular chart instead. Only thing is, I do not think that you can keep on getting an mRNA vaccine every several months as IM Doc reported more severe reactions with each booster shots for lots of people. More study is required of course.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > So instead of thinking of those progression as like a straight line chart, perhaps it should be thought more off as a circular chart instead.

      Good point. The issue is whether we are outrunning the virus. (“And so castles made of sand / Fall in the sea / Eventually” –Jimi Hendrix)

      I can’t do a chart like this; does anyone have a source?

      1. The Rev Kev

        I was actually thinking more of a 3D spiral chart with an indeterminate end rather than a circle. As all bets are on the present generation of vaccines, a new chart may become moot if these vaccines prove to be a dead end if they cannot be done like an ordinary flu vaccine. Which I don’t think that they can be.

  31. CoryP

    Ugh I see that Twitter has just made it even more annoying to not have an account. My little pop up Firefox mobile previews are obscured by a log in prompt, and I seemingly can’t view threads anymore! At least on this mobile browser.

    I didn’t hate having a silent anonymous profile, but inevitably I found myself interacting against my best intentions. I wonder if there’s a read-only client.

    1. Sub-Boreal

      I encountered the same annoying change, and eventually found that the log in prompt wouldn’t occur if I was using a private window in Firefox.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Ugh I see that Twitter has just made it even more annoying to not have an account. My little pop up Firefox mobile previews are obscured by a log in prompt,

      This went away for me when I cleared out the Twitter cookies

  32. Mikel

    Filling out my Cali recall ballot.
    At the end of the long list of ?????, I’m writing in my own name.

  33. Darthbobber

    Taliban better watch out. President of the American Bar Association doesn’t like them


    I’m sure this concerns them deeply. Interestingly, he seems to think that Afghanistan was being run in accordance with something called “the rule of law” until the events of the past couple of weeks. As my late mother used to say: “You’d sure have to know it to know it ”

    Actually, I’m pretty sure the Taliban will be imposing “the rule of law” in Spades. Not the law that the ABA might prefer, but no less “the law” for all that.

    1. Aumua

      I’m still skeptical of all of that footage and whether it really shows what is being claimed by various sources.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I’ve looked but cannot see any hint of a green screen. And that footage of one of their dead bodies flopping about in the high winds as his foot was caught in a landing gear door while in mid-flight was pretty damn convincing. When that C-17 reached Qatar, human remains were found in the wheel-well and the aircraft impounded for investigations. It was real OK-


        1. Aumua

          Yeah, I’m not saying the videos aren’t real or that people didn’t die. I more question the given motives of why they were on the plane to begin with. The ground footage does not seem to show people so desperate to escape that they would try to fly on the outside of a jet. Also some news stories are saying the plane was not leaving but had just landed, to deliver supplies. And then the crew panicked and decided to take off again after the plane was mobbed.

    2. Basil Pesto

      never thought I’d see FAIRING capitalised in a headline. Another coup de journal for the anti-western Daily Mail.

      1. Basil Pesto

        ‘fairing’, incidentally, the cause of a bitter scrabble-rift between my father and sister 20 years ago (almost to the month! September 2001 was ever so memorable). I don’t believe they’ve played each other since.

  34. VietnamVet

    Hubris and incompetence have left behind around 11,000 Americans who have to pass through Taliban checkpoints to get a jet flight home, workers gone missing, and a collapsing global just-in-time supply system. The grifting, no such thing as society, and money as the sole measure of merit have led to an acute failure of future planning in the West. Greed (quarterly profits) is the end all.

    If what is best for Americans and civilized society were the goals of good government and business, the fall of the Western Empire would not be happening.

  35. JTMcPhee

    I get my shots through the VA.

    Here is what the VA management have concluded about the nature of the plague that’s upon us:

    Department medical staff have been working alongside officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in recent months on coronavirus antibody research.

    Based on those findings so far, Stone said, VA officials have begun taking steps to treat the current pandemic as an annual problem, similar to influenza, with “recurrent immunizations” for veterans and their families. https://www.militarytimes.com/veterans/2021/03/26/veterans-families-may-need-to-get-covid-vaccine-boosters-later-this-year/

    So I look forward to the same easy, expedited access to this first and all subsequent boosters from the VA establishment that I had with the first two (Moderna) shots, and i am not being ironic, it was a veritable breeze compared to the rest of Florida. On the other hand, the VA is sadly being privatized and crapified in most other areas…

    I guess I should be pleased that someone in power is paying attention and being honest about the nature of this disease and how it will likely manifest in the future. “Let her rip!”

  36. allan

    Bill Clinton, 1998: “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”
    Richard Sackler, 2021: “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘sales manager’ is.”

    Ex-chair of Purdue denies responsibility for opioid crisis [AP]

    The former president and board chair of the company that makes OxyContin told a court Wednesday that he, his family and the company did not cause the opioid crisis in the United States.

    Richard Sackler, a member of the family that owns Purdue Pharma, was asked under oath during a federal bankruptcy hearing whether he, his kin or the company bear responsibility. For each, Sackler answered simply: “No.” …

    In response to more than three hours of questions, mostly from Maryland Assistant Attorney General Brian Edmunds, his most common answer was, “I don’t recall.” …

    At another point, Edmunds asked whether he ever had conversations with sales managers.

    “Can you define what you mean by sales managers?” Sackler asked.

    Edmunds did. Then Sackler said he didn’t recall any such conversations.

    Edmunds asked about a disagreement over company sales targets at one point. Sackler corrected him.

    “You used the word ‘dispute,’” he said. “It wasn’t a dispute. It was a difference of opinion.” …

    Sadly, there is no known pharmaceutical treatment for sociopathy.

    1. Paradan

      JDAM’s are 100% effective when used to treat sociopathy.*

      *May cause ringing in ears and destruction of property. Use only as intended.

  37. Ralph Reed

    I’m sorry not to have read the report on the Space Force yet but wanted to add that in the 1980s USAF Space Command’s letterhead read “Guardian of the High Frontier,” which was an object of mirth despite the draconian anti-cannabis praxis.

  38. The Rev Kev

    Pete Buttigieg must be having a sad about losing Afghanistan right now-

    ‘Pete Buttigieg has a “a huge resource-and-mineral map of Afghanistan” on the wall of his living room— anyways I’m sure his work on “economic stabilization in war zones” while at McKinsey and (and in naval intelligence before that) was all totally above board and 100% ethical’


  39. urblintz

    I’ll try again, apologies if it double posts

    Early COVID-19 therapy with azithromycin plus nitazoxanide, ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine in outpatient settings significantly improved COVID-19 outcomes compared to known outcomes in untreated patients

    ” Reduction of deaths and long-term consequences were meaningful when analyzed through a public health perspective. The numbers estimated from the present findings, with at least a moderate level of certainty, that from every 1,000,000 new COVID-19 cases, at least 70,000 hospitalizations, 5000 deaths and 250,000 long-term persistence of symptoms could be prevented with the use of any of the drug combinations presented in this analysis in the seven first days of COVID-19 symptoms.

    Patients treated with azithromycin combined with nitazoxanide, hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin had significant reductions in virologic and clinical duration, hospitalization, mechanical ventilation, death and post-COVID symptoms, when compared to sex-, age- and comorbidity-matched untreated patients. The well-established safety profile of the drugs used in the present study, the likely benefits presented and the current absence of proven therapies for early COVID-19 bring ethical questions regarding the employment of placebo-control randomized clinical trials in early COVID-19. The medical decision-making on pharmacological interventions is particularly important for patients at high risk of developing severe COVID-19 and in regions where variants, mainly the P.1 variant, is highly prevalent when the natural disease course tends to be worse without pharmacological interventions.”


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