2:00PM Water Cooler 8/24/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

A Veery.

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

Vaccination by region:

South still fiddling and diddling.

51.5% of the US is fully vaccinated, a big moment, breaking the psychological 51% barrier. Every day, a tenth of a percentage point upward. However, as readers point out, every day those vaccinated become less protected, especially the earliest. So we are trying to outrun the virus… (I have also not said, because it’s too obvious, that if by Bubba we mean The South, then Bubba has done pretty well.)

Case count by United States regions:

I would say we’ve moved off the vertical a bit, conforming to the drop in “Rapid Risers” and the drop in positivity. The South begins to slow, but other regions still rise. Still lots of momentum. 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. Cooking time for Florida’s data seems to have increased. Meanwhile, Georgia and Lousiana have diverged.

From CDC: “Community Profile Report August 19, 2021” (PDF), “Rapid Riser” counties, this release:

Looks like everywhere but Wyoming and Utah is slowing down a bit, especially the Mississippi river basin. Remember, however, that this chart is about acceleration, not absolute numbers. This map, too, 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:

The South is now fiddling and diddling at more or less the same level, and the enormous drop in the West persists. Could be reporting problems.

NEW Hospitalization (CDC): Dammit, this one’s gone dark. I wish CDC wouldn’t do this. 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. At reader request, I have added an antitriumphalist black line; we are where we were at the peak a year ago. (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. Needless to see, this is a public health debacle. It’s the public health establishment to take care of public health, not the health of certain favored political factions.)

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

Capitol Seizure

UPDATE “Bad Information” [Boston Review]. The lead: “Like picture day at school, the January 6 march on the Capitol was about wearing your best outfit. For the rank-and-file, the uniform would do—heavy-duty workwear and a MAGA cap—but the more exuberant went for superhero costumes, Roman togas, animal pelts, or ghillie suits. The optics were all the more important because not much else was at stake. In the absence of any clear agenda and organizational capacity, posing inevitably took the place of politics: it was all about showing up and showing off. Only violence saved the bravado from complete ridicule. When the clueless mob moved in to take the country back by force, all it was able to get its hands on were a stolen pulpit and other memorabilia of parliamentary procedure. The real trophies of the day were the selfies.” But it gets more interesting: “If one had to designate a culprit for the tendency to turn conspiracy theories into a problem of individual psychology and rationality, it would be Hofstadter. According to the glowing editorial blurbs that ushered the recent reedition of ‘The Paranoid Style in American Politics’ in the prestigious Library of America collection, Hofstadter’s work on ‘irrationalism, demagoguery and conspiratorial thinking’ was a ‘touchstone for making sense of events in 2020.’ Such endorsements not only reflect Hofstadter’s relevance to American political culture. They also pay tribute to a historian who saw in conspiracy theories an atavistic mindset, a sort of lacustrine monster that occasionally surfaced in American history but was better understood in terms of ‘depth psychology.’ Paradoxically, Hofstadter brought the cachet that comes with a Pulitzer Prize to the notion that history had relatively little to teach us about what was really an archaic mentality, sometimes woken up by the disruptions of modernity but ultimately impervious to it. It should come as no surprise that his revival takes place in the day and age of the cognitive sciences and paternalistic policies of ‘nudging.'” And: “The proliferation of conspiracy theories reflects the dismal poverty of a political culture that fails millions of individuals confronted with the loss of their world. Because they are a desperate and impoverished attempt at making sense of the catastrophic dimensions of the present when the available cultural resources fail to do so, conspiracy theories are a direct outgrowth of this political vacuum. A fine observer, [sociologist Edgar Morin] also impugned ‘the incapacity of the intelligentsia to address these problems.'” • No “impugning” about it!

Biden Administration

UPDATE “Biden calls on companies to mandate vaccines following FDA full approval” [The Hill]. Biden: “Today I’m calling on more companies in the private sector to step up the vaccine requirements that’ll reach millions more people,’ Biden said during an address. ‘If you’re a business leader, a nonprofit leader, a state or local leader, who has been waiting for full FDA approval to require vaccinations, I call on you now to do that.” • Business, non-profits, government. Our three estates?

“Bernie Sanders’s Third Campaign” [The Nation]. “‘What we are trying to do is bring forth transformative legislation to deal with the structural crises that have impacted the lives of working people for a long, long time,’ Sanders says. ‘Whether it is child care, whether it’s paid family and medical leave, whether it’s higher education, whether it is housing, whether it’s home health care—we’re an aging population; people would prefer to get their care at home—whether it is expanding Medicare to take care of dental and eyeglasses and hearing aids, what we are trying to do is show people that government is prepared to respond to their needs.’ That’s an echo of the big-government-can-do-big-good message that Sanders has carried for the past five decades through all of his campaigns. Yet now, for the outsider who has become a somewhat uncomfortable insider, the message has found its moment. He is heading to the White House to consult with President Joe Biden about strategy. He is taking on what Politico describes as ‘a central role in the Democratic caucus’ of a chamber where critics once dismissed him as a left-wing scold. He is appearing with Schumer to declare, not from the sidelines anymore but from the eye of the media maelstrom, that “the wealthy and large corporations are going to start paying their fair share of taxes, so that we can protect the working families of this country.'” • I’ll take the money or the services. I don’t think it will be enough though, and I trust our system to deliver them about as much as I trust our aging pipes to deliver water.

UPDATE “Dem Obstructionists Are Bankrolled By Pharma And Oil” [Daily Poster]. “The small group of conservative Democratic lawmakers that has been threatening to help Republicans halt Democrats’ budget package have raked in more than $3 million from donors in the pharmaceutical and fossil fuel industries that could see reduced profits if the plan passes. As the House reconvenes today to tackle the budget reconciliation process, nine Democrats legislators have been promising to kill their party’s $3.5 trillion budget bill until Congress first passes a separate, smaller infrastructure spending measure, which has garnered some Republican support… In the narrowly divided House, obstructionism from these conservative Democrats could decouple the infrastructure and budget measures from one another. Many believe that would kill the latter by letting conservative Democrats in the Senate such as Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) get the infrastructure bill they want without having to provide the votes necessary to enact the much larger and more progressive budget measure.” • This is the House Pelosi built….

UPDATE “Where the centrist rebellion goes from here” [Politico]. “Yet any moderate Democrat who casts a deciding vote to quash the social spending plan promoted by President Joe Biden would be yanking away benefits — or at least halting the establishment of new ones — from the public, donning a black hat by stopping legislation that’s poised to expand paid leave, universal pre-K, free community college and Medicare coverage… But their ultimate goal is to gain influence inside their party, particularly as the 100-plus members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus start making demands for the forthcoming social spending bill. The best way to get that influence isn’t by tanking the speaker’s priorities, McCain-style — especially when Gottheimer is trying to repeal the cap on state and local tax deductions in the same bill he’s holding up.”

UPDATE “Senior DOJ antitrust lawyer heads to Paul Hastings” [Reuters]. “Michael Murray, a senior U.S. Department of Justice antitrust lawyer has joined Paul Hastings as a partner, the firm announced Monday, adding another lawyer to its growing antitrust practice…. Murray cited the ‘new’ and ‘exciting’ antitrust environment in the U.S when discussing his reason for moving to private practice. He said Paul Hastings’ antitrust practice is ‘humming’ and ‘still growing,’ and he trusts the vision of the firm.” • I’ll bet. Lina Kahn seems to be cleaning house. Though in general I deprecate depicting one’s political opponents as vermin, rats leaving the sinking ship isn’t the right metaphor. Perhaps cockroaches scuttling toward the darkness?

UPDATE “Amtrak’s plans for a cash infusion aren’t good enough” [Matthew Yglesias, Slow Boring]. “Amtrak should not double down on pointless money-losing routes, but it also shouldn’t spend $0 on new infrastructure. What it ought to do is spend money on good routes!… The NEC has great geography for passenger rail, better than anything in Europe and comparable to Asia, but the passenger train service on the NEC is obsolete by European or Asian standards. The fact that Amtrak has a successful business running trains at Acela speeds just goes to show that demand for trains on this corridor is really high. If you upgraded the quality of the service to something that would be considered good in Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Korea, Japan, or Taiwan, you’d get many more riders. Right now, for example, the NEC runs from D.C. to Boston, but actually riding from D.C. to Boston is pretty unattractive compared to a plane. If you can make that a three-hour train trip (versus an hour flying) then that’s a very competitive offering. What’s more, the train can service markets like D.C./Providence or Wilmington/Boston (or even Providence/Wilmington) that don’t have convenient plane alternatives. So while Ratner is right to be down on Amtrak’s actual ‘vision’ for adding more low-performing routes, he’s wrong to argue for the approach of just sticking with the NEC. Amtrak ought to increase its investment in its most promising area and then use that as a cornerstone for future expansions.” • I don’t know what’s wrong with me, Yglesias actually sounds sensible.

Democrats en Deshabille

UPDATE “Cuomo’s dog Captain left at mansion after governor departed” [Times-Union]. “Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who has been staying with one of his sisters in Westchester County in the final days of his third term, recently has asked staff members at the Executive Mansion if anyone would like to keep his dog, Captain, who has remained at the state-owned residence after the governor moved out last week…. [A] State Police source said they were told “he tried giving the dog to the (a mansion employee). … Apparently (the employee) took the dog home and it didn’t work — the dog walks him, he don’t walk the dog.’… In a tweet late Monday night, Cuomo posted a photo of himself on Twitter holding Captain’s face, and saying they were reunited, as members of his family looked on…. One of the State Police sources who provided the information to the Times Union stood by the account Tuesday, saying: “He planned on keeping that dog as much as he planned on living over his big sister’s garage at (age) 63.'” • The State that produced the Super Stewards program (see Biosphere) also produced this unseemly wrangle. I’m with the cops on this one.

Stats Watch

Manufacturing: “United States Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Manufacturing Activity Index in the US fifth district including the District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and most of West Virginia slipped to 9 in Aug

ust of 2021 from 27 in July and defying market expectations of 25. It was the lowest reading since July of 2020. Shipments, new orders, and employment decreased but remained positive. Survey contacts also noted that lead times continued to increase and inventories remained low. Survey results suggested that many firms increased employment and wages in August, as the wage index hit a record high, but they struggled to find workers with the necessary skills, a difficulty that manufacturers expected to continue in the coming months. Overall, respondents were optimistic that conditions would improve in the next six months.”

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Commodities: “The price of iron ore is flaming out even as the cost to ship the commodity remains red-hot. Prices for the foundation of industrial production have fallen roughly 40% since mid-July… on concerns over demand from China and the potential that rising Covid-19 cases could hobble the global recovery” [Wall Street Journal]. “The pullback marks the fastest rate that iron ore has fallen since spot prices were established some 12 years ago, says Morgan Stanley, casting a cloud over producing countries including Australia and Brazil. The price plunge risks undercutting earnings at miners including BHP Group and Rio Tinto, along with new entrants that entered the market when prices were high. Rising commodity prices have helped push up dry-bulk shipping rates, with Baltic Exchange measures pushing past decade highs.”

Tech: “OnlyFans has tons of users, but can’t find investors” [Axios]. “Sex sells, based on company financials leaked to Axios, but it also scares off venture capitalists… Any other company with growth like OnlyFans would be able to raise big money in a matter of minutes.” • The culture that invented the “cuddle puddle” suddenly goes soft when confronted with commercial success?

Tech: “The Great OnlyFans Exodus” [Protocol]. “When OnlyFans announced it would be banning porn this fall, server traffic at porn-only competitor JustFor.fans jumped to three times its average — and stayed there. In the last five days, thousands of former OnlyFans sex workers have created new accounts at JustFor.fans. Even if OnlyFans doesn’t want to sell sex, sex definitely still sells… Even if JustFor.fans attracts most of OnlyFans’ current sex work business, [Dominic Ford, the founder of JustFor.fans] has no plans to ever expand beyond pornography. ‘I don’t know what [OnlyFans’] play was, but our play is to make money in the adult entertainment space, period,’ Ford said. ‘Those eyes are wide enough, I don’t need wider eyes. If we can replace OnlyFans, who evidently were pulling in something like $150 million a month, trust me, I’ll be fine.'”

Tech: “S.Korea set to curb Google, Apple commission dominance” [Reuters]. “South Korea is likely to bar Google and Apple from requiring software developers to use their payment systems, effectively stopping them from charging commissions on in-app purchases, the first such curbs on the tech giants by a major economy. The parliament’s legislation and judiciary committee is expected on Tuesday to approve the amendment of the Telecommunications Business Act, dubbed the “Anti-Google law,” that takes aim at app store operators with dominant market positions.” • Why can’t we do this? Apple is whinging about fraud, but the decimal point in its 30% “Because We Can” commission is in the wrong place. 3% would be more like it. Or 0.3%. Come on, man.

Tech: “A new NSO zero-click attack evades Apple’s iPhone security protections, says Citizen Lab” [TechCrunch]. “ABahraini human rights activist’s iPhone was silently hacked earlier this year by a powerful spyware sold to nation-states, defeating new security protections that Apple designed to withstand covert compromises, say researchers at Citizen Lab…. Citizen Lab, the internet watchdog based at the University of Toronto, analyzed the activist’s iPhone 12 Pro and found evidence that it was hacked starting in February using a so-called ‘zero-click’ attack, since it does not require any user interaction to infect a victim’s device. The zero-click attack took advantage of a previously unknown security vulnerability in Apple’s iMessage, which was exploited to push the Pegasus spyware, developed by Israeli firm NSO Group, to the activist’s phone. The hack is significant, not least because Citizen Lab researchers said it found evidence that the zero-click attack successfully exploited the latest iPhone software at the time, both iOS 14.4 and later iOS 14.6, which Apple released in May. But the hacks also circumvent a new software security feature built into all versions of iOS 14, dubbed BlastDoor, which is supposed to prevent these kinds of device hacks by filtering malicious data sent over iMessage.”

Marketing: “‘I haven’t even told my wife’: Inside the frantic and secretive sprint to name the Covid-19 vaccines” [STAT]. “The process of christening a new medicine typically involves about two years of semiotic labor. But in 2020, just as drug companies collapsed their standard development timelines to fight a global pandemic, the naming process has been condensed into a six-month sprint, said Scott Piergrossi​, president of operations and communications at the Miami-based Brand Institute, which has worked on Covid-19 vaccine naming projects…. “How are you going to find a name that tells you what it’s for, is easy to pronounce, simple when you read it, and helps people who are maybe vaccine hesitant as well?” Tworek said. The drug industry’s tendency toward nominative futurism, with its X’s, Y’s, and Z’s, could be problematic at a time of rampant medical distrust. “You want to try and forestall the Bill Gates microchip conspiracy theory, and if you choose a name that sounds more banal and quotidian, you might avoid that,” she said. • “Nominative futurism”!!! More: “Pfizer and BioNTech seem to be split between sonorous abstractions and names that get at the underlying technology of their vaccine, which uses messenger RNA to spur immunity to Covid-19. That helps explain “RnaxCovi” and “KoviMerna,” two trademarks that attempt to fuse the technology behind the vaccines and the indication into a branded portmanteau. Then there’s “Comirnaty” and “Covuity,” which fall more on the conceptual end of the naming spectrum.” • I still think “Comirnaty” is a horrid name that sounds vaguely Russian, of all things.

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 35 Fear (previous close: 29 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 37 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 24 at 12:16pm.

Health Care

“Pfizer Full FDA Approval and What It Means for Covid Vaccine Mandates” [Rolling Stone]. “Though the review process ahead of granting EUA to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine — which will now be marketed as Comirnaty (pronounced ko-meer-nah-tee) — was extremely thorough, the one for full FDA approval was even more exhaustive. “We evaluated scientific data and information included in hundreds of thousands of pages, conducted our own analyses of Comirnaty’s safety and effectiveness, and performed a detailed assessment of the manufacturing processes, including inspections of the manufacturing facilities,” Dr. Peter Marks, director of FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said in a statement.” • Dammit, if they want me to pronounce “naty” “nah-tee” then they need to spell it with two t’s: “natty.” Of course, then there’s the whole “natty dread” problem. What is wrong with these people? More: [pause]. No, not more. This article is all “what it means” with nothing about the approval process whatever. For example, how do we assess Mark’s claim that “the one for full FDA approval was even more exhaustive” when the data isn’t public, and there was no public meeting?

CDC up to its old tricks on data (GM):

At this point, and after CDC’s refusal to collect data on breakthrough infection (not only hospitalization and death), it looks more and more like the public health establishment has decided to fly blind. That’s not reassuring. Another example–

“Millions of Rapid Covid-19 Test Results Risk Going Uncounted” [Bloomberg]. “Popular at-home Covid-19 tests from Abbott Laboratories and Quidel Corp., available without a prescription, were launched without a mechanism for reporting results to health officials, potentially leaving many cases uncounted by authorities as the delta variant spreads around the U.S… ‘We should be doing a better job of keeping track,’ [Michael Mina, an epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health] said in an interview. ‘We should be planning and creating ways that really allow us to capture that information, for no other reason than for monitoring and planning at the public health level.’ • Assuming that’s important at this point, yes. More: “Instead, once a person finds out they’re positive, ‘then their families are going out and buying the same kind of test. And nobody knows that there’s a little cluster of people that are infected right here,’ he said. ‘The public health authorities don’t have any view into that.'”

“‘Stop it’: FDA warns people not to take veterinary drugs to treat Covid-19” [NBC]. More on the FDA tweet we posted yesterday. “Ivermectin, which is not an anti-viral drug, is generally used to treat or prevent parasites in animals.” • “Generally” is doing so much work there. Ivermectin is FDA-approved for use in humans. Therefore, if your doctor wishes, they can write a scrip for off-label use. NBC does not say this, which is why this story falls into the category of propaganda — however well-meant — as opposed to news.

Let’s keep calling them animals, except more, that will surely do it:

Assuming that herd immunity for respiratory viruses is a thing. Anyhow, I’m surprised Fauci was able to even find the herd immunity goalposts and drag them back onto the field. Speaks well of him, I suppose.

“Thailand to explore injecting coronavirus vaccines under skin” [Reuters]. “Thailand is studying the possibility of injecting coronavirus vaccines under the skin to try to stretch its limited supply, a health official said on Thursday, as the country races to inoculate the public faster amid a worsening epidemic. ‘Our previous experience shows that intradermal injections uses 25% of a muscular injection, but triggers the same level of immunity,’ head of the medical science department, Supakit Sirilak told reporters…. If its research confirms intradermal injections are effective, regardless of brand, Thailand could vaccinate four to five times the number of people with the same amount of vaccine, Supakit said.” • Something to watch for. (Sirilak is from the Ministry of Public Health, not a university, as “department” would suggest.)

The Biosphere

“Sweden’s SSAB last week shipped what it says was the world’s first commercial shipment of steel made without fossil fuels to truck maker Volvo…. [T]he 24-ton shipment made with hydrogen rather than coal could mark the beginning of what the steel industry hopes is a new era of cleaner production” [Wall Street Journal]. “Steelmakers like ArcelorMittal and Cleveland-Cliffs have stepped up their efforts to curb carbon emissions, but analysts say progress is slow and unlikely to yield benefits soon. Steel generates 7% of global carbon-dioxide emissions related to energy consumption, more than any other industrial sector, and demand for the metal is only growing. Several initiatives are underway, but experts say they are costly and likely to raise prices for the final product.”

“Embrace kelp forests in the coming decade” [Science]. “Kelp forests hold unprecedented potential for restoration success.” • On kelp, see NC here.

“California faces new dangers amid heat, dryness and winds” [Los Angeles Times]. “With more than a million acres burned fairly early in the fire season, California is entering uncharted territory as the record dry conditions that have fueled so much destruction will soon combine with seasonal winds that fire officials fear will bring unprecedented dangers…. [M]any experts fear that the impending arrival of strong Santa Anas and Diablos — which typically move in around mid-September — could mark even more misery for weary residents and beleaguered fire crews…. Like monsoons and other weather patterns, Santa Anas and Diablos are hard to predict more than a few days out, Williams said, so climate experts can’t say for sure whether or when they will happen in a given year. If they don’t arrive, there is a chance that California could see some reprieve from fire. But there is a strong probability that they will show up.”

“The Latest: Greenwood Fire more than doubles in 24 hours” [WDIO]. Minnesota, near Superior National Forest. “The Greenwood Fire more than doubled in size in 24 hours, reaching an estimated 19,493 acres as of Tuesday morning after a day of “extreme” fire behavior caused more than 150 additional dwellings to be evacuated. The fire had been at 8,862 acres on Monday morning. It grew quickly Monday with ‘torching, wind-driven runs and long-range spotting,’ according to Tuesday’s update from fire officials coordinating the response. Officials said Monday’s conditions forced them to pull air resources, heavy equipment, and ground crews for their safety. ‘We are expecting more favorable weather and less active fire conditions for the next few days,’ the Tuesday update said.”

“I Tackled My Climate Anxiety by Becoming a Parks Department Super Steward” [New York Magazine]. “[I]n the past couple of years, one very important new relationship has acted as an invaluable balm on my climate anxiety — my relationship with the Earth itself…. I wanted a reciprocal relationship with the trees and bushes I’d harvested from. I started learning about New York City’s worst invasives…. I reached out to the Forest Park Trust and asked if I could volunteer with an expert. The woman who took my call sounded surprised that I was asking to pull weeds, but she connected me with the Super Stewards… which trains and organizes a volunteer army to protect the city’s youngest, most vulnerable trees… Thanks to training by Stein and two veteran Parks gardeners, Irena and Mike, I know how to identify and remove several aggressive invasives, including porcelain berry and bittersweet vines. The gardeners also taught me how to identify edible cruciferous mustards; how to find plants that smell like pepper and spice and burnt rubber; how to find jewelweed to rub on poison-ivy rashes —I’m getting a comprehensive horticultural education.” • This sounds like a great, great program that every city could (and should) emulate.

Our Famously Free Press

“Quality gap”:

For example.

Class Warfare

“Turn on the blood spigot baby!” [Welcome to Hell World]. “‘…when my uncle died, and I had to serve as his pallbearer, then skip the actual burial, and rush back to work, because, and I quote ‘your dad died last year, you can’t keep doing this.” You can’t keep suffering losses in your family it’s bad for the CVS bottom line. It sounds almost absurdly ghoulish and almost unbelievable that a manager would say that right? But if you know you know. If you’re a lower wage worker especially in the service industry your poor health and your family’s poor health and/or death are almost always viewed as a scam you’re trying to get over on your boss and evidence of your laziness and poor work ethic. A reliable worker simply does not have deaths in the family too regularly. Weird how being lower income is also a determinant for worse health! So it works like this: You have a shitty job and you can’t take care of your health because you have to work so much then you get sicker then you get fired for finally calling out then you have to start the process all over again at the bottom at the next place if any of them are still willing to hire you. After all you’re probably not getting a good recommendation from your last job because you got sick that one time. All the while you’re putting more miles on your body and letting problems go unaddressed with a doctor like how letting a minor problem with your car go unfixed turns it to junk sooner. We’re all broken down 2006 Toyota Corollas with 150,000 miles a permanent check engine light on and a backseat full of Gatorade bottles. It is much easier to take time off when you have a fancy white collar job of course.” • Well worth reading in full.

“The Problems Solved by Debutantes” [Culture Study]. “When Americans became super-(nouveau) riche during the Gilded Age, status-seeking fathers arranged symbiotic (but often miserable) marriages between their heiress daughters and cash-poor European aristocrats. These marriages created a new international and interconnected upper class that resembles the one we still have today. There were tons of these marriages—they continued until World War I, at which point the debut stopped solving the original problem of getting daughters married. The war fractured society so completely that the debut quickly lost that utility. Only the social performance remains, and it has been an effective way to maintain class connections and to vet rich newcomers since then. Photos of debutantes and balls still sell newspapers and magazines.” • This is worth reading in full also.

News of the Wired

Tiffany blue?

Not Tiffany blue:

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

SC writes: “Happy news on the “Prp MW project. A second, smaller plant (the first photo) opened a blossom cluster this AM and the purple hue is somewhat more vivid than in the first plant. I think that these really are Purple Milkweed. I don’t understand the source of the hue variations, but it has been suggested to me that soil and other growing conditions might be responsible. I also wonder if the speed at which these plants developed could be a factor. It is less than 7 months from the beginning of the outdoor cold treatment of the seeds, and they germinated only in April, were potted up in May and set in soil in June. And here they are in bloom in July. I provided a generous supply of slow-release fertilizer in the pots; perhaps that has something to do with the haste with which these have bloomed,, and maybe that influenced the color of the blossoms.

While I was rejoicing over the hue of the 2nd plant to bloom, a Variegated Fritillary alighted on the first plant and spent enough time nectaring there for a few photos.”

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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. bradford

    Cooking time for Florida’s data seems to have increased.

    I think that rather the last three data points are part of the next week, and there was a slight decrease from the previous week. Which, considering the situation, seems pretty fishy.

    1. Lou Anton

      Inclined to think their most recent data release was done in a way that’s consistent with prior periods (i.e., the data could be borked, but it’s no more borked than prior periods!).

      Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama have all plateaued in the ~7 days, so Florida also showing that pattern doesn’t surprise me.

      As to what happens once we get a few weeks of back-to-school…all bets are off.

  2. Mikel

    Re: CDC and breakthrough cases

    People in mass should take the attitude, that if they don’t have to provide data, I don’t have to go anywhere or buy alot of crap.
    Let’s see how long data blackouts last…
    I’m already limiting where I go and what I spend because of this widespread denial.

    1. Arizona Slim

      With you on that one, Mikel. Was hoping to resume my going out to bars, restaurants, and other places to socialize, but then came that darned Delta variant.

      Slim continues to stay home.

      1. cocomaan

        Crying shame, that. I freaking love being at home. Plus the drinks are free if I do my accounting like the Fed does.

        I’m going to invent a drinking game called Reverse Repo.

    2. urblintz


      “Here’s how they crushed Mayor Sobyanin’s vaccine passport – and it was pretty simple. Moscow residents simply stopped frequenting any business that required a vaccine passport.

      The really beautiful thing about this was that the vaccinated people stood in solidarity with the unvaccinated. Business trickled to near zero at all establishments where the vaccine passport was required.

      Moscow residents let their hair grow out, skipped going to bars and restaurants, didn’t go to the movies, didn’t stay in hotels or do anything else that required a vaccine passport.

      Business owners from all over the city were suddenly calling Mayor Sobyanin’s office to chew his ear off about the vaccine passports. They were going broke, and they were mad as hell about it.”

      offered without values attached

      1. Duke of Prunes

        Strange when Russians are better at resisting propaganda than us wise westerners. This goes against everything I learned during the cold war! How can they not follow the script that requires the vaccinated to embrace and demand the passport and shame and belittle the unvaccinated. Not just shame, but live in fear of them. Not just live in fear, but wish them to die (see the hospital that was going to prioritize treatment based on status). Solidarity between those with and without? Our conditioning has been too good to allow that.

        Maybe enough breakthrough infections will break the hysteria, but I doubt it because, I’m sure, they’re blaming every breakthrough on those dirty filthy unvaccinated.

      2. Mikel

        Agree that this turning people against one another over vaccination status is no good.

        It has a nefarious purpose that doesn’t have much to do with public health.

  3. urblintz


    “”We decided today that we no longer need comprehensive protective measures when the number of cases or incidence is 50, because a large proportion of the people are vaccinated,” Merkel said.

    The government and federal states will instead monitor hospitalisations as a key indicator for whether the health system is becoming overburdened, Merkel said.”

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      Makes perfect sense to me. As we’ve learned over and over again through four waves in this country, rises in cases and infection rates presage a rise in hospitalizations by 2 weeks or so. Who would want a little advance warning that a load of new hospital patients was coming? That would take all the fun out of it.

      And of course, who cares what the infection rate is anyway? We have an economy to save!

      If I go back 15 years or so, I thought Europe was a more enlightened place than the USA, but it’s obvious they have about as bad a case of neoliberalism as we do.

      1. Mikel

        “Who would want a little advance warning that a load of new hospital patients was coming?”

        Like that would make a difference. It’s going on 2 years and the hospitals are still facing the same issues. They’ve had 2 years warning and still can’t think of anything to do but take the “care” out of healthcare.

  4. Wukchumni

    “The Great OnlyFans Exodus” [Protocol]. “When OnlyFans announced it would be banning porn this fall, server traffic at porn-only competitor JustFor.fans jumped to three times its average — and stayed there. In the last five days, thousands of former OnlyFans sex workers have created new accounts at JustFor.fans. Even if OnlyFans doesn’t want to sell sex, sex definitely still sells… Even if JustFor.fans attracts most of OnlyFans’ current sex work business, [Dominic Ford, the founder of JustFor.fans] has no plans to ever expand beyond pornography.

    I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced online… but I know it when I see it. (…with apologies to Potter Stewart)

      1. Wukchumni

        We are Mujahideen
        I got all my brothers with me
        We are Mujahideen
        Get up everybody and sing

        We are Mujahideen
        I got all my brothers with me
        We are Mujahideen
        Get up everybody and sing

        Everyone can see we’re together
        As we walk on by
        (And) and we fly just like birds of a feather

        We are Mujahideen
        I got all my brothers with me
        We are Mujahideen
        Get up everybody and sing

        Living life is fun and we’ve just begun
        To get our share of left over military delights
        (High) high hopes we have for the future
        And our goal’s in sight

        No, we don’t get depressed
        Here’s what we call our golden rule
        Have faith in you and the things you do
        You won’t go wrong, oh no
        Kabul is our family jewel


  5. Mikel


    TORRANCE, Calif. (KABC) — Authorities are investigating why 300 unopened vote-by-mail ballots for the upcoming recall election were found – along with a gun, drugs and stolen mail – in a car parked at a Torrance convenience store….”

    “…If a voter in the Lawndale or Compton area hasn’t received their ballot, they’re asked to contact the registrar’s office and request another ballot….”

  6. TBellT

    In terms of the anti-triumphalist black line, there is one spec of optimism is the ratio of deaths to cases. Certainly the deaths are getting to the Aug 2020 peak but the cases are more than double the Aug 2020 peak. And I would expect case counts today to more underestimated than 2020 given the deemphasis on testing.

    1. fjallstrom

      But deaths lag cases, so once peak case is reached, deaths usually continue up for a week or so.

      Looking at the death and spread development in the US, the curves are strikingly similar as in October-November, but now starting from a lower base now.

      So starting from where the case curve starts increasing from the base:
      In the period 7th July – 23th August 2021 cases in the US increased by 135k
      In the period 4th October – 20th November 2020 cases in the US increased by 127k

      The death curve starts increasing from the base about two weeks later:
      In the period 23th July – 23th August 2021 deaths/100k in the US increased by 2.3
      In the period 20th October – 20th November 2020 deaths/100k in the US increased by 2.2

      So not only is cases increasing at about the same rate as last fall, so is deaths. This is bad. Unless there is a lot more untested now, what wea re seeing are the vaccines barely keeping up with the virus evolving.

    2. Duke of Prunes

      For an optimistic perspective, a Morgan Stanley analyst, Marko Kolanovic, thinks we’re now past the peak with Delta. I can only find this on disreputable sites so I will not link, but you can run your own search.

          1. Tvc15

            Noooo, but you knew it had to end at some point. Excellent drummer, under appreciated member of the band and seemed like a genuine good person. I was fortunate to see them a few times. Sympathy for the Devil and Gimme Shelter are probably good songs to start with as tributes and yes, Doug definitely turned up to 11.

            1. Wukchumni

              Only saw the Stones live once, but luckily had a connection and we nailed some Uecker seats in the bleachers @ PetCo Park in Tijuana-adjacent.

              Fortunately I smuggled in a telescope to watch the sexagenarian act.


            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              I always liked the sound of the music of that one, but I thought the lyrics were a nasty specimen of anti-womanitic machistico dominationism.

              Just like whenever I hear that Police song ” I’ll be watching you”, I automatically think . . . ” its the creepy stalker song”. Though I have to admit that the Police’s creepy stalker song ( “I’ll be watching you”) creeps me out in a way that “Under my Thumb” never quite did.

              1. Cocomaan

                Not going to lie, that’s kind of why I like it. It’s hitting a chord with what many, if not all men, think at one time or another.

  7. zagonostra

    “Business, non-profits, government. Our three estates? ” You forgot the MSM, oh never mind you got it covered under “business,” my bad.

    1. Mildred Montana


      The media used to be known as the Fourth Estate. After forty years of of sleeping around with titans of business and minions of government, they have definitely moved up in the rankings. But like all hard-working whores they’re beginning to lose their looks.

      1. Eclair

        Manual labor, from ditch digging to road building to oil rigging to whoring …. all are hard on the body. Maybe retirement age for these professions should be 45?

  8. antidlc

    ” For example, how do we assess Mark’s claim that “the one for full FDA approval was even more exhaustive” when the data isn’t public, and there was no public meeting? ”

    If the FDA wanted to convince the “vaccine hesitants” by giving full approval, what kind of message does it send that there was NO PUBLIC MEETING? It begs the question, “What are they hiding?”

    Sit down. Shut up. Don’t ask questions.

    Yeah, that will instill confidence.

    1. antidlc

      Contains good comments as to why public meetings are needed:

      Covid-19: FDA set to grant full approval to Pfizer vaccine without public discussion of data

      im Witczak, a drug safety advocate who serves as a consumer representative on the FDA’s Psychopharmacologic Drugs Advisory Committee,4 said the decision removed an important mechanism for scrutinising the data.

      “These public meetings are imperative in building trust and confidence especially when the vaccines came to market at lightning speed under emergency use authorisation,” she said. “The public deserves a transparent process, especially as the call for boosters and mandates are rapidly increasing. These meetings offer a platform where questions can be raised, problems tackled, and data scrutinised in advance of an approval.”

      Looks to me that the FDA doesn’t want questions raised, problems tackled, or data scrutinized.

      Sit down. Shut up. Don’t ask questions.

      1. Drake

        No public meetings?, then no responsibility for the public to accept the consequences of, nor pay for the decisions reached at those telemeetings.

      2. Societal Illusions

        and nowhere is there any mention or recap of any summary analysis of VAERS data which is required to be collected as part of the 1986 act to shield immunity:

        “It is mandatory for Pfizer Inc. and vaccination providers to report the following to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) for Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine: all vaccine administration errors, serious adverse events, cases of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS), and cases of COVID-19 that result in hospitalization or death.”

        VAERS data appears to show issues which are not insignificant especially vs approvals that have been rescinded in the past. But perhaps not…

  9. Soredemos

    > “Bad Information” [Boston Review]

    Hofstadter was essentially an intellectual fraud selling a self-serving narrative to his fellow class elitists.

      1. lance ringquist

        how americans became so radicalized: rahm emanual: The outgoing mayor’s legacy will be defined by austerity, privatization, displacement, gun violence, and police brutality. sounds just like nafta billy clinton

        Emanuel’s dreadful record as mayor of Chicago was in keeping with his entire career, spanning several Machiavellian decades that included stints as a member of Congress, a high-level aide for Presidents Clinton and Obama, and an investment bank director using his connections to make $18 million in two and a half years. Emanuel cemented his reputation as a combative and powerful player in the Clinton White House, pushing through policies that harmed the working class and people of color, including the NAFTA trade deal, the infamous 1994 crime bill and punitive “welfare reform.”

        Pelosi: In the House and, indeed, across the nation, Rahm Emanuel is known and respected by all for his relentlessness and track record of success.


        August 24, 2021
        Will Senate Democrats Stoop to Confirming Rahm Emanuel as Ambassador?
        by Norman Solomon

        When President Biden announced late Friday afternoon that he will nominate Rahm Emanuel to be the U.S. ambassador to Japan, the timing just before the weekend was clearly intended to minimize attention to the swift rebukes that were sure to come.

        The White House described Emanuel as having “a distinguished career in public service,” but several progressive Democrats in Congress quickly went on the attack. “This is a travesty,” Rep. Mondaire Jones tweeted. “Senators of good conscience must not vote to confirm him.” Another African-American representative, Cori Bush, said that Emanuel “must be disqualified from ever holding an appointed position in any administration. Call your Senator and urge them to vote NO.”

        The response from Rep. Rashida Tlaib was pointed: “If you believe Black lives indeed matter, then the Senate must reject his appointment immediately.” Tlaib accompanied her tweet with a link to an article that The Nation magazine published in the fall of 2018, when Emanuel was nearing the end of his eight years as Chicago’s mayor, with this sum-up: “The outgoing mayor’s legacy will be defined by austerity, privatization, displacement, gun violence, and police brutality.”

        All three congressmembers mentioned Emanuel’s responsibility for the notorious cover-up of the Chicago police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. For 13 months, during his campaign for re-election in 2015, Mayor Emanuel’s administration suppressed a ghastly dashboard-camera video showing the death of McDonald, an African American who was shot 16 times by a police officer as he walked away.

        After Emanuel emerged as Biden’s likely choice for the ambassador job a few months ago, longtime Chicago journalist and activist Delmarie Cobb wrote a scathing assessment of his mayoral record. While mentioning that Emanuel “closed 50 public schools in predominantly Black and brown neighborhoods,” Cobb also pointed out that “he closed six of 12 mental health clinics in these communities.” She added: “Now, who needs access to mental health care more than Chicago’s Black and brown residents who are underserved, underemployed and under constant threat of violence?”

        Emanuel’s dreadful record as mayor of Chicago was in keeping with his entire career, spanning several Machiavellian decades that included stints as a member of Congress, a high-level aide for Presidents Clinton and Obama, and an investment bank director using his connections to make $18 million in two and a half years. Emanuel cemented his reputation as a combative and powerful player in the Clinton White House, pushing through policies that harmed the working class and people of color, including the NAFTA trade deal, the infamous 1994 crime bill and punitive “welfare reform.”

        That Biden has now chosen Rahm Emanuel to be the U.S. envoy to Japan — the world’s third-largest economy — is, among other things, a distinct presidential middle finger to the constituency that gave him the highest proportion of support among all demographic groups in last year’s general election: Black voters.

        High-profile corporate Democrats were quick to lavish praise on the Emanuel nomination. Both of the Democratic senators from Illinois helped lead the testimonials. Dick Durbin said in a statement that Emanuel “has a lifetime of public service preparing him to speak for America.” Tammy Duckworth chimed in, saying that his “years of experience make him well suited to represent the United States of America in this important role.”

        Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blew hazy blue smoke to an absurd degree, declaring: “In the House and, indeed, across the nation, Rahm Emanuel is known and respected by all for his relentlessness and track record of success. His great experience, from the U.S. House to the White House, will serve our nation well, as he works to deepen one of our nation’s most important alliances, champion American interests abroad and advance regional security and prosperity.”

        After the nomination announcement, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that “the Biden administration is apparently willing to spend some domestic political capital with an Emanuel nomination,” and the newspaper noted that “progressives mounted a drive to block the nomination of Emanuel.” That drive, being coordinated by my colleagues at RootsAction.org, has already generated several thousand individual constituent emails to senators urging them to oppose the nomination. As RootsAction co-founder Jeff Cohen told the Sun-Times, “the #RejectRahm/‘NoToRahm’ campaign has virtually organized itself.”

        A coalition of 20 organizations, mostly national while including several Chicago-based groups, has launched a grassroots campaign so that every senator will hear from constituents urging a “no” vote on Emanuel. In June, 28 victims and relatives of victims of police violence in Chicago released a joint statement, along with a poignant video, denouncing Emanuel and decrying the prospect that he’ll be rewarded with an ambassador post.

        Despite the pressure for party-line conformity, Democratic support for the nomination could fracture in the Senate. Replying to letters from constituents urging him to oppose Emanuel for ambassador, Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley — who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — seemed responsive.

        “I have heard from Oregonians who are concerned about certain aspects of Mr. Emanuel’s record during his tenure as Chicago’s mayor, in particular his administration’s response to the tragic shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, a Black teenager who was killed by Chicago police in 2014,” Sen. Merkley wrote. He added that “at a time of a national conversation about police accountability and combatting systemic racism, there is so much more that we can and must do to address racism and discrimination in our law enforcement practices. … Please be assured that I will keep your views in mind should Mr. Emanuel’s nomination come before the Senate for consideration.”

        Merkley is one of 11 Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which will convene a public hearing with Rahm Emanuel before voting on his nomination. Whether Merkley and other senators will be open to preventing an Ambassador Emanuel from going to Tokyo is unclear at best. But it’s possible.

        Norman Solomon is executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, where he coordinates ExposeFacts. Solomon is a co-founder of RootsAction.org.

      2. lance ringquist


        It Pays to Be Rahm Emanuel

        David Sirota
        Walker Bragman

        Rahm Emanuel has been at the center of nearly every act of Democratic evildoing of the past few decades. He’s being rewarded for that behavior with an ambassadorship to Japan.

        “On the question of what Emanuel has been doing since leaving office in disgrace, the answer is just as notable: He helped Biden defang the Medicare for All movement, while profiting off the private health insurance system.”…

      3. lance ringquist

        one of the reasons why latino americans saw trumps policies better than the nafta democrats.


        Become a member
        The new US-Mexico-Canada trade deal is fighting corrupt unions
        Workers wait outside the General Motors plant in Silao, Mexico.
        Reuters/Sergio Maldonado
        Workers wait outside the General Motors plant in Silao, Mexico.

        Tim Fernholz

        By Tim Fernholz

        Senior reporter
        Published August 24, 2021

        Factory workers in Mexico are seeing early returns from the new international agreement that governs trade between the US, Mexico, and Canada.

        Enacted in 2020 by president Donald Trump as part of his broad push against free trade, the deal included new tools for speedily enforcing labor rights laws, at the behest of Democrats and US labor unions. Now, under president Joe Biden, American trade negotiators have twice deployed the “rapid response mechanism” (RRM) in the US, Mexico, and Canada Agreement (USMCA) to force better treatment of workers in Mexican factories that export goods to the US.

        Last week, a General Motors factory in Silao, Mexico, was forced to hold a do-over union election after the protection union was caught stuffing ballot boxes earlier this year. Workers rejected the old union contract, a first step towards obtaining real representation.

        And on Aug. 10, the US Trade Representative struck a deal with a Mexican company called Tridonex, the subsidiary of US car parts producer Cardone, to hold new elections, and pay severance and backpay to at least 154 employees who were fired for their roles in labor organizing. It will also force the company to improve how it prevents Covid-19 and treats workers who suffer from coronavirus infections.
        The USCMA is forcing employers to improve labor standards

        Many labor unions in Mexico are seen as being in cahoots with employers, not representing workers. These “protection unions” fail to advocate for better wages or working conditions. As well as leaving Mexican workers worse off, they also exacerbate the movement of low-skill jobs out of the US.

        Past trade deals have included requirements for member countries to improve labor laws, but their enforcement mechanisms typically resulted in multi-year slogs through intra-governmental negotiations with little actual change on the ground. In contrast, RRM allows the US government to target companies directly, even blocking the goods from specific facilities from coming over the border. That creates leverage for negotiators to win concessions on a speedier timeline.

        “[Congress] wanted this to be much quicker, much more targeted [and] focused on individual facilities,” Josh Kagan, the acting US trade representative for labor issues, told Quartz. “We are two for two on that. The time frames here are quite different than we have elsewhere. We stuck to them. We’ve engaged with Mexico, with private companies, in both cases [with] meaningful results for workers.”

        Kagan also said that neither case is finished; his office will be monitoring compliance with both settlements going forward.
        Labor rights activists say democratic unions are needed

        Still, the full potential of these agreements has yet to be seen. Mexican attorney Susana Prieto Terrazas has been working with an independent union to organize the Tridonex factory for several years. She welcomed the settlement, but said she was disappointed that workers representatives were not consulted when the US finalized its deal with Tridonex.

        Under Cardone CEO Mike Carr, the factory refused match increases in the minimum wage until Prieto publicized old contracts, hidden from workers, that mandated such raises. The new settlement mandates that every worker receive a copy of their contract. Before the agreement, union organizers said that Tridonex fired hundreds of workers for labor activism; these are the workers who will receive new payments.

        Despite this history, Cardone said in a statement that “it does not believe that a denial of workers’ rights has occurred at the facility.” Cardone is owned by Brookfield, a Canadian private equity firm that trumpets its adherence to labor standards on its website. Brookfield, which participated in negotiations with the US Trade Representative, did not respond to multiple requests for comment about the treatment of workers at Tridonex.

        For Prieto, the most important concern is to see a representative union elected for the workers at the facility. It’s not yet clear when Mexican authorities will approve a new election, and US labor advocates have raised concerns that the Mexican government is slow-walking the implementation of the labor laws (pdf) it enacted in 2019 to meet the USMCA’s standards.

        “This is where the RRM becomes very important…[by] sending a signal to organizations and groups in Mexico that these commitments are meaningful and not just because the ministry of labor is watching, also because we are watching,” Kagan said.

  10. Michael

    “Quality gap”

    Was it not the Chinese who 1) first admitted (or recognized) their vaccines weren’t as effective – before not so deftly scrubbing the story?

    Was it not China who 2) decided to use mRNA vaccines as boosters because (see 1 above)?

    Perhaps “Quality gap” isn’t the right term. Might not “Self-inflicted wound” be more appropriate, given an almost certain global applicability to multiple pandemic-related situations?

    1. Greg

      I seem to recall that the chinese vaccines were being measured based on preventing infection, while the pfizer and moderna were being measured on preventing severe consequences. We now know that pfizer and moderna don’t seem to prevent infection very well either, so *shrug*.

      1. John

        I do not really care who made the vaccine as long as it prevents severe consequences. Prevention would be ideal, but not dying is a good way station.

  11. zagonostra

    >Bernie Sanders’s Third Campaign – [The Nation].

    The most difficult thing in politics and governing is to be pushing ideas that most people in power aren’t ready to accept. But when people in power recognize that those ideas are popular, and that they’re necessary, everything changes,” says Ben Jealous.

    Bullships. Ben Jealous damn well knows that the “people in power”, i.e., ruling elites damn well know M4A, and a litany of other progressive ideas are “popular.” They aren’t accountable to the “people” but their donors, how many times are they going to keep peddling this trip. Do you have to keep pointing out the Princeton study be Professor Gilen and colleagues?

    And as for Bernie, he is dead to me, I gave my financial support and feel betrayed, a feeling that lingers and festers for a while. A good palliative was to hear Jimmy Dore excoriate Bernie on the conditions that Bernie’s handlers set in order to do an interview with Krystal Ball recently.

    1. TBellT

      The people can be easily manipulated though, M4A might be a popular idea, but so was Afghanistan withdrawal. Now the media has successfully downed Biden’s poll numbers by making up the myth of a “nonchaotic withdrawal”. For all their distrust of the media the American people seem easily manipulated by it.

      1. Societal Illusions

        am i mistaken or if Biden had clearly said in a prime time announcement that the “ withdrawal would be messy but it was the right thing to do” with some forewarning of the messiness, he may have helped himself immeasurably? One wonders if he had been given the facts or assessment of what would transpire. Are the options only that he didn’t listen, wasn’t told, or was told what was believed which is much different than what happened? None of these options are encouraging nor comforting. But that’s perhaps a high bar today.

    2. Lou Anton

      Bernie’s trying to get the change where he can. Getting Medicare down to age 55 and adding dental and vision isn’t transformative, but it isn’t small potatoes either. That would make 40 million new people eligible for Medicare with Teeth (TM to Lambert I think).

      If we can get it to 55 this year via reconciliation, why not 50 the next year? Yeah, I know, big if, and I know having this depend on Manchin and Sinema means the odds aren’t great. But, it’s at least in play for the moment.

      1. zagonostra

        If, and it’s a doozy of an if, they even lowered the age to 60, it would be an emetic for the nasty bile that has been accumulating since Bernie went over to the dark side.

        I’m not sure how much credit to give Biden for withdrawing from Afghanistan. I think “Biden” as a referent is more a “corporate entity” than an actual individual human being. Anyway you are right, it would be, if not transformative, a signal that the erosion of decline in the standard of living of U.S. citizens has been somewhat shored up, if Bernie/Biden succeed in lowering age eligibility and adding dental/vision.

      2. ambrit

        I’ll believe it when I see it on my monthly Social Security cheque.
        I don’t care about what any politician says anymore. I watch what he or she does and accomplishes.
        One “good” thing Obama did was to wreck the “trust us” meme for a generation in America. He ostentatiously promised all sorts of people friendly programs and policies. He then publically reneged on almost all of his promises, doing so well before the GOP came within spitting distance of being effectively obstructionist.

        1. John

          Medicare to 55 with teeth: I love it. Medicare for all is akin to a home run with the bases loaded. Lower the eligibility age and add teeth is like a single, a walk, and a double. Adds up.

    3. Nikkikat

      Zagonostra, I watched the Dore show that you mention above. I agree with jimmy and you.
      Bernie is a sellout. Just like Ben Jealous has sold out. One way or another the elites in Washington will wear you down and make you one of them. Every environmental group,
      Animal rights group and so called progressive group is a sell out. It just doesn’t take much to bribe or impress or otherwise manipulate people that are in it for the attention, power, money. No one seems to have any honor or ethics and I wonder if it isn’t because the type of people foolish enough to think they can change the unchangable or convince a Pelosi or Shumer that they should do the right thing. Nothing will change without a massive movement and I think we are already past that happening.

    4. Dr. John Carpenter

      I’ll bet the $600 Joe Biden still owes me that they’re still not exactly too concerned about what Bernie Sanders thinks about things.

      1. Drake

        Just subtract that $600 from any income taxes you owe. Sign over any future rights to the money in leu of tax payments.

  12. Wukchumni

    Looked at recent news articles on burgeoning Bitcoin (almost $50k again) and most of them have a photo of a traditional metallic coin as proxy, because otherwise it would be Seinfeldian, a show about nothing.

    1. urblintz

      with all the institutions jumping in I don’t think btc will die, it’ll just be another something to leverage, trade, manipulate and cash out of while crushing any little guy foolish enough to have believed otherwise.

      1. Wukchumni

        I think Bitcoin et al crypto will be what is remembered in say 2387 the same way that the Dutch tiptoed through the martingale limited edition tulips in the 1630’s was a bubble about nothing really, I can buy 50 bulbs for around $10 now, talk about deflation.



        In the tulips defense though, they are sure pretty.

        1. urblintz

          citigroup just signed onto bitcoin futures trading, joining other institutional investors gearing up for the same…
          and michael saylor just bought 177 million worth of btc.
          let’s hope he bought the top.

  13. Jason Boxman

    I’ve done Boston to DC, and even on the faster train it’s definitely a slog. Approaching NYC through Queens and Brooklyn is definitely a sight to behold, before disappearing under Manhattan, stopping, and popping out in New Jersey for the balance of the trip. Traveling through Baltimore absolutely looks like a war zone, quite sad to see the decay. My favorite station is actually in Philly though. The seats definitely loose any comfort they might have had by the time I hit Philly, to be sure. Now, taking the North Eastern all the way to DC is definitely a full day affair, and one I would not attempt ever again. You. Hit. Every. Stop. Getting off in the capitol, is there certainly a sense of awe with all the monuments, irrespective of how poor our actual governance might be.

    1. Darius

      When the tunnel under the Hudson fails, Amtrak and all the Acela riders are screwed. USA! USA!

      1. John

        They sure are. Perhaps high speed ferries across the Hudson will bridge the gap. Instead of bullet trains, bullet boats.

    2. upstater

      These pundits don’t get it… the reason Amtrak has survived, but not thrived, is because it has a national system. The funding has to run the gauntlet in Congress. If tens of billions, if not more realistically hundreds of billions, were proposed to be spent on true HSR between DC and Boston, it would NEVER receive federal funding. Why would representatives or senators from flyover states ever vote for such funding? Yglesias and Ratner are Acela corridor or beltway types, how could they possibly “get it”?

      And an interstate compact would never fund a multi decade project. Chris Christy vetoed a pair of NJ to Penn Station tunnels included in Obama’s stimulus. Heck, the feds can’t even replace the Hurricane Sandy damaged tunnels under the Hudson for anything less that $20B. And they may fail before they are ever replaced.

      Further, while HSR has been built in densely populated areas in Europe and Asia, I have a very hard time seeing how the required straight-line real estate could be acquired in places like NJ and CT, given the greed of rent seeking parasites.

      Lastly, I do not believe the US has anywhere near enough qualified engineers or construction managers to build HSR or even “higher speed” conventional passenger rail. Witness the debacle of California’s HSR, which will go from nowhere to nowhere and costs tens of billions. Grifters gotta grift.

      1. Acacia

        > I have a very hard time seeing how the required straight-line real estate could be acquired

        And we can add parts of the S.F. Bay Area to this list. To get HSR from San Jose to San Francisco, it would be necessary to battle with most every town along the way, each one repeating the manta of “property values”.

        > I do not believe the US has anywhere near enough qualified engineers or construction managers to build HSR

        Indeed. Last I checked, CA planned to buy all the rolling stock from Japan, China, or France. China’s off the list now, prolly.

        1. Jason Boxman

          I always thought the solution to this is to try to use existing highways for this; At least in Florida, they’re long and straight with big medians, so it’s somewhat credible to attempt this. I can’t imagine this working in New England though near large cities.

          They certainly found a way to bulldoze half of downtown Orlando for the expansion of I-4 to include pay-per-use toll lanes for the wealthy. Why not rail?

          1. John

            Might work especially if you select eminently bulldoze-able neighborhoods near the cities.
            OR … the ruthless application of eminent domain.

          2. Acacia

            > try to use existing highways for this

            Yes, I’ve seen this in Los Angeles. I’m vague on the details, since I don’t live there. Presumably, the main issue is what to do about overpasses and flyovers.

            In the case of the S.F. Bay Area, there is also an existing rail corridor for Caltrain, and in principle it could be upgraded for HSR. Again, a level of planning and engineering prowess would be required that doesn’t seem to be available, and even such an upgrade would still get mired in an uphill battle against local NIMBYs.

            Agree with your point about how bulldozing homes for freeways is somehow acceptable while doing the same for rail isn’t, to which I’d add that I feel this gets to something deeper.

            Speaking as a former inhabitant, my sense is that California will never arrive at public consensus on high-speed mass transit, and thus it’s unlikely we’ll see the sort of transit systems that have been available for decades now in Europe and Asia. It’s curious how often coastal liberals mock the non-coastal USians for things like gun ownership, when their own position is roughly “I’ll give you my car when you pry the steering wheel from my cold, dead hands”.

  14. Lee

    As the virus mutates and we play whac-a-mole with vaccines and treatments, herd resistance to life threatening illness from Covid infection may be the best we can hope for. At least this is the conclusion I’ve drawn at the moment based on what I glean from various sources.

    Our 34 year old Moderna vaccinated neighbor and family friend is in his 8th day of being ill with Covid. His symptoms, that never involved respiratory distress, are abating. He had a positive home test on his first sick day but today he had a negative result from a PCR test. Am I mistaken in finding this odd? He said they didn’t stick the swab far enough up his nose to get the full brain stab effect, and so speculates that they may have botched taking the sample. Troubling if this is the case. This is no time for timid nostril swabbers.

    And for your further edification, a song:

    Scientists for Better PCR

  15. TimH

    I bet that zero-click attack on phones doesn’t work if javascript is disabled for the browser…

    1. Acacia

      Apparently, the attack is via iMessage, not the web browser, and AFAIK, iMessage doesn’t run JavaScript, so disabling it won’t protect you from this exploit. The problem is some known crap code in the OS itself.

  16. Keith

    I think the Covid tests that aren’t reported to health officials is a good thing. Not all people want to share their health info with government bureaucrats, so this is a nice way to get tested while remaining private. further, it allows the user to take any reasonable precautions deemed necessary. The other option, incentivise people to not get tested because they do not want to end up on some petty bureaucrats list.

    1. Arizona Slim

      So, in other words, the COVID test should be something like the pregnancy test. You visit the smallest room in the house, take care of business, and then you find out whether you’re in a family way or not.

      Am I understanding correctly?

      1. Keith

        Pretty much. People have a right to privacy, which includes their health privacy. This can be a great way for those people to get tested, especially if they are in the situation where they cannot take off of work for illness or live alone where they need to go out for their needs.

      2. Henry Moon Pie

        “something like the pregnancy test”

        Don’t tell me that pregnancy is aerosolized too! I’m double-masking for sure now.

        What is it about contagious diseases that some people (and understand I’m just technically replying to you ;) ) don’t seem to get? Or is it that some crazed Survival of the Fittest fetish has gripped a large part of the West, from LA to Berlin to Rio, and their seeming obliviousness is cover for a forbidden desire to let loose the Angel of Death and see if they survive? Or is this the Techno World version of the march up the steps to meet the priest with the long knife, this time to please the Almighty Invisible Hand?

        There is a positively religious fervor to it.

  17. Keith

    Not sure if this is a welcomed distraction, but via ZH, the troops are starting to withdraw from Kabul airport:


    It seems the State Department had their own snafu, texting people to leave now or they are on their own, only to recall the message 30 minutes later:


    If the Twitter is accurate, it could provide for some interesting news cycles coming up.

  18. Stephanie

    The ‘Turn on the blood spigot’ quote reminded me of this classic Ask A Manager letter: my best employee quit on the spot because I wouldn’t let her go to her college graduation

    After detailing the circumstances under which the best employee quit, the letter writer then asks “How do I continue to demean my former employee after our professional relationship has ended?”:

    Even though she doesn’t work here any longer, I want to reach out and tell her that quitting without notice because she didn’t get her way isn’t exactly professional. I only want to do this because she was an otherwise great employee, and I don’t want her to derail her career by doing this again and thinking it is okay. She was raised in a few dozen different foster homes and has no living family. She was homeless for a bit after she turned 18 and besides us she doesn’t have anyone in her life that has ever had professional employment. This is the only job she has had. Since she’s never had anyone to teach her professional norms, I want to help her so she doesn’t make the same mistake again. What do you think is the best way for me to do this?

    1. Daryl

      I had a hearty chuckle at reading that. The former manager has a funny idea of how business works, if they think the next mercenary employer cares that they got rightfully burned.

  19. Soredemos

    I was wondering if I could get Lambert’s thoughts on Dave Anthony’s opinions on the latest West Wing Thing about how the withdrawal from Afghanistan is going to be a key component in the imminent rise of American fascism.

    I like Anthony a lot, but he has a very bad tendency to not actually know what he’s talking about (especially frustrating because he runs a history podcast), and then to rant passionately about that thing. And then he seldom gets any pushback because his friends all defer to him as ‘the guy who knows stuff’. For once Olson did push back on him a bit this time at least.

    Essentially Anthony claims that a military humiliation is a key component in the rise of fascism, and our humiliation in Afghanistan is going to supercharge the right.

    This strikes me as a gross misreading of history. Weimar Germany, and perhaps Austria, are basically the only examples where fascism rose partly in response to a military defeat. WW1 had an affect on all of Europe, but of the future fascist states only Germany and Austria were nationally humiliated by the defeat. Italy was part of the Allied side that won, yet within five years Mussolini had taken over. Croatia and Hungary were liberated by the collapse of Austro-Hungary; their ultra-nationalists existed in stark contrast to the House of Habsburg. That their former rulers lost a war didn’t bother them. Romania had a chaotic WW1, to say the least, but the ideology of the Iron Guard fascists seems to have had nothing much to say about the war and was instead focused around rejecting a ‘too French’ modernity. Spain never entered the war. Nor did the Netherlands. Scandinavia stayed neutral, except Finland, which was part of the Russian Empire, before splitting off and having a civil war. Though the reds lost that civil war, Finland never really went fascist. France, Belgium, and the UK all had fascist movements, as did the US, and they obviously weren’t on the losing side (though France and Belgium especially were mauled by the war).

    It seems ‘a humiliating military defeat is a key ingredient for fascism’ is a completely unjustified thesis. Fascism in Europe was chiefly concerned with ethnic nationalism and ‘purity’, and a rejection of ‘degeneration’ (moral, cultural, and political). It also parasitically depended on the threat of communism to contrast itself against (“only we can protect our sacred traditional values from the Bolshevik menace!”). All the lesser movements also depended heavily on the perceived achievements of the German and Italian fascist movements to raise their own stature.

    Anthony is also grossly misreading modern America. No one in the general public cared about Afghanistan. Many people were only dimly aware it was even still going on. It’d been going on for almost a generation and had long ago faded into the background. The media and security state care (or pretend they care), but the average person doesn’t. Anthony is confusing the media and Twitter blue checks with the populace as a whole. Most likely the ‘elite’ will scream about it for a couple months, then move on to the next thing. It’ll show up again in 2022 and 2024 as one of many things the GOP will run attack ads on (but maybe not even that if Biden manages to get us to invade some other place), but then be forgotten when election season is over.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Essentially Anthony claims that a military humiliation is a key component in the rise of fascism, and our humiliation in Afghanistan is going to supercharge the right.

      I do listen to the West Wing, but sometimes the ranting is something I just want to get through.

      I disagree on “military humiliation,” which IMNSHO psychologizes. I think “organic damage,” actual harm to the human body at scale is the issue, and you will note that trench warfare (both in our Civil War and when later perfected with machine guns in World War I) produced organic damage in abundance. Granted, fascism seems to have sprung up in the losers (the Confederacy, Italy, Austria) but losing in and of itself is not enough (Russia).

      Since we have a small volunteer army, I don’t think organic damage in Afghanistan is significant enough. Now, apparently, was organic damage from the opioid epidemic. The pandemic, however… Especially if people’s children are harmed…

      1. Soredemos

        Was that a typo on your part? Did you mean Germany? I’ll point out again that Italy wasn’t on the losing side in WW1.

        The organic damage hypothesis is interesting, but doesn’t seem to line up well with the facts. France was absolutely mauled by the war, which was mostly fought on its territory, suffering more relative to the size of its population than Germany did. Yet it didn’t go fascist (lots of activity in the interwar period, but it doesn’t seem to have ever gotten seriously close to a fascist takeover). Of course, France didn’t live under the humiliation of the Armistice, but, again, neither did Italy, and it went fascist basically immediately in comparison to the others. Spain wasn’t a combatant at all, yet had enough fascists that the right could wage a civil war and win (it’s debatable if Franco was a fascist, but he was at least fascist-adjacent and sympathetic to them).

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Was that a typo on your part?

          I meant Germany but typed Italy (though the Italian front seems to be pretty brutal as well).

          The difficulty with fascism is its snake-like slitheriness which resists formula. I would still urge that organic damage at scale is a necessary even if not sufficient cause. I think that “humiliation” is a psychologizing trope that masks the nature of political conflict within a nation-state after loss in war.* (Interestingly, both Italy and Germany had only recently become nation-states; the Confederacy had to surrender the idea.) Within winning states, the conflict doesn’t arise, though in France, surely a form of fascism emerged with Petain, when the balance of forces shifted after their loss to Germany. Spain seems to be the counter-example here; I do think Franco was a fascist. Skimming Wikipedia’s background info on the Spanish Civil War, though, it looks like there was plenty of organic damage in ordinary, daily lives of peasants and workers, surely far more so than in “advanced” economies (though I’ve never seen any comparisons on this).

          * Again, I don’t think Afghanistan rises to this level at all.

          UPDATE If with Paxton one regards “a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants” as a key component of Fascism, it would seem that Europe’s conscript armies also played a role. Even though plenty of people have passed through our volunteer force, I think we have a lot more cos-players than we do actual militants with combat experience. Certainly nothing like Germany in the 20s and 30s.

          UPDATE An interesting counterfactual to consider: If the Confederacy had won the Civil War, would the North have turned Fascist? I don’t think so….

          1. Soredemos

            I don’t think Vichy France should really enter into any discussion of the rise of fascism because it was fundamentally a Nazi puppet regime. It didn’t emerge organically from a defeated nation; it was put in place with the consent of the Nazis and ultimately backed by the German military. Of course they elevated people that were politically close to themselves. Had there been a grand total of ten fascists in all of France the Nazis would still have found them and put them in charge.

            Also, aren’t you basically substituting widespread personalized psychologizing for a national level one? You reject the idea of national humiliation, but want to focus on widespread organic damage. What is ‘organic damage’ other than lots of people missing limbs and suffering from severe PTSD?

            I think focusing so much on war and its effects is barking up the wrong tree with fascism. To quote Roger Griffin, who I like more than Paxton because I think Paxton tends towards basically assembling a check list of things fascism does but isn’t as good at getting at the heart of what fascism IS:

            Fascism is a revolutionary species of political modernism originating in the early twentieth century whose mission is to combat the allegedly degenerative forces of contemporary history (decadence) by bringing about an alternative modernity and temporality (a “new order” and a “new era”) based on the rebirth, or palingenesis, of the nation. Fascists conceive the nation as an organization shaped by historic, cultural, and in some cases, ethnic and hereditary factors, a mythic construct incompatible with liberal, conservative, and communist theories of society. The health of this organism they see undermined as much by the principles of institutional and cultural pluralism, individualism, and globalized consumerism promoted by liberalism as by the global regime of social justice and human equality identified by socialism in theory as the ultimate goal of history, or by the conservative defence of “tradition.”


            [Concretely], fascism is a form of programmatic modernism that seeks to conquer political power in order to realize a totalizing vision of national or ethnic rebirth. Its ultimate end is to overcome the decadence that has destroyed a sense of communal belonging and drained modernity of meaning and transcendence and usher in a new era of cultural homogeneity and health. – Modernism and Fascism: The Sense of a Beginning under Mussolini and Hitler

            It seems more like fascism is something that emerged gradually on a longer timeline; its necessary antecedents go back more than a century before anyone actually started calling themselves fascists. You can’t have ultra-nationalists without nationalism, and that requires you to go back to the French Revolutionary period, and you can’t have the claim that The Nation is synonymous with A People without the essentializing manufacturing of group identities of Romanticism (especially the manufacturing of ancient lineage, eg, Italians are Romans, and ‘we’ need Mussolini to return ‘us’ to ‘our’ former glory).

            The catalyzing factor after WW1 might simply have been the old order being shattered and the full unleashing of nationalist sentiment even among states that were already independent nations rather than defeat or widespread human damage. Your note about how Germany and Italy were both recent unified nations is interesting. Ultra-nationalism still makes sense in that context, where lots of regional identity probably still lingered. The ultra-nationalists were manufacturing a stronger group identity, which they would rhetorically claim was actually a return to some ancient identity.

            Fascism as extreme reaction to a ‘degenerate modernity’ that threatens ‘The People’. The aftermath of the war gives fascism the political opportunity (you need there to be a modernity to rebel against, and you couldn’t fully have that while Europe was still run by literal kings) but it mostly isn’t particularly dependent on the damage done by the war, other than in the case of Germany where it was obviously crucial.

            You also really need the threat of ‘degenerate Bolshevism’ for fascism to rally against.

            The Romanian fascists especially intrigue me, because they seem to have been completely unconcerned with the effects of the war other than that it left France the preeminent continental power and they really, really didn’t like Francophilia.

            It is interesting that America’s forever wars never seem to have produced anything politically among the veterans. Twenty years of occupations have produced a lot of human wreckage, but this never amounted to anything in terms of effective political mobilization like Vietnam did. A lot of the veterans ended up killing themselves, a lot ended up homeless, and a lot just managed to muddle through life with severe problems (I knew one guy who seemed normal at first and was able to hold down a job, but the longer you spent time with him the more it became apparent there were problems under the surface. I kind of just assumed he was able to suppress this while at work and fake being well adjusted, but it slipped when he was off the job). But politically, nothing. You get anti-war veterans who produce articles and go on independent shows like Democracy Now, but these are politically on the fringe and have zero impact on policy.

            An argument could be made that indirectly the wreckage has had impact and the Pentagon is reticent to engage in ground wars because it doesn’t think the military can endure it, but it also sure seems like most of our ‘national security’ elite are upset about leaving Afghanistan and didn’t expect it to really happen (that no one thought Biden was serious up until about five minutes before the evacuation started would explain a lot about how much of a mess it’s been).

  20. Wukchumni

    This time-lapse photo documentary demonstrates the explosive build up, release, and collapse of a pyrocumulus cloud/column over the Tule River Canyon, east of Springville, CA on August 29, 2017. The 36k Pier Fire.

    A year after it was put out, I got up early one morning as is my custom and made my way to the Wizard Pool @ Saline Valley hot springs for a soak in the dark, and had a conversation until dawn with the incident commander for the Pier Fire. The one thing he emphasized to me the most, was this fire was like no other one he’d been privy to, in that the conflagration refused to go to bed at night, and kept active at all hours.

    Pier Fire (Sequoia NF)


  21. jr

    Unemployment Blues: Adventures in the Puzzle Palace

    I’m not sure what my status is, I managed to get paid once in the last few weeks. I keep getting told via robo-messaging I haven’t made a weekly claim even though I have the screen shot of the “claim completed” page. I don’t know why the one payment came through, it was after other claims vanished. I still have a “ghost identity” in the system. Dozens of phone calls and emails go unanswered.

    Unless you are calling the tax hotline, which I occasionally do by accident. Always a friendly voice that begins it’s spiel by telling you they can only help with taxes. Nothing else, call the other people. They definitely want their money, that’s for sure.

    They owe me thousands of bucks. I went online today and found a legal discussion in which a lawyer said he expects a flurry of class action lawsuits against state employment agencies in the near future. I’m on board. I’ll make a hobby of it.

    1. Drake

      California issued IOUs instead of paychecks a few years back.

      Why not send an IOU instead of state income tax payments, with an agreement that the money they owe you can be kept in lieu of taxes you owe?

  22. herman_sampson

    Re: Hell World
    Another entry in the list of examples of the PMC assuming the 90% have the same low level of morality they do, always ready to steal from their employer. I was in the PMC for 25 years, and I still don`t see why everyone can’t have the same benefits.
    “Polyworking”? Thank Athena I retired this year.

    1. LifelongLib

      Besides my continuing skepticism that the “PMC” are a coherent group that we can generalize about, just getting (sometimes) big paychecks doesn’t make them powerful. The people with real power are the ones writing the checks. Yet in so many discussions the “PMC” have become the goto villains, while their truly wealthy paymasters have vanished from sight.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        I can’t argue about those importance and relative power of those paymasters. It seems to me that our entire social, economic and political systems are continually being restructured to keep the highest possible returns going to the .01%.

        But it’s the PMCs who have assumed the role of standing between the torches and those paymasters.

  23. Samuel Conner

    > Therefore, if your doctor wishes, they can write a scrip for off-label use. NBC does not say this, which is why this story falls into the category of propaganda — however well-meant — as opposed to news.

    The thought has occurred that a good way to motivate desperate people to resort to veterinary Ivermectin is to conceal the fact that they can get a prescription for the drug in human formulation from a physician willing to prescribe off-label.

    One might attribute official hostility to cheap therapies to some form of de facto corruption or capture, but I would think that hopeful research would be newsworthy. I’m a bit mystified by the MSM indifference toward the possibility of low-cost therapy using known safe drugs. When a researcher finds that an “old” drug has potential for anti-cancer therapy, MSM tends to take a sympathetic posture, I think (the combination Metformin and Syrosingopine was sympathetically treated in the few forums I noticed that reported on it back in pre-pandemic days, for example).

    I don’t get it.

      1. Societal Illusions

        not sure if this was shared in jest or seriously. while there were certainly factual elements to what was said, there were others which aren’t.

        IVM is being used to effectively treat symptoms and reduce hospitalizations. most all drugs are poisonous at improper or incorrect dosages.

        from physicians actually successfully treating

        and a succinct explanation of efficacy for multi-pronged treatments. Australian oriented but US doctor (both participants ridiculed by some but make your own determination):

  24. Wukchumni

    Hey Joe, where you goin’ with that August 31st demand?
    Hey Joe, I said, where you goin’ with that request of the Taliban? Oh

    I’m goin’ off to Camp David said the goliath
    You know I told em’ don’t call me i’ll call you, yeah
    I’m goin’ down to Camp David for a deny-athon

    You know how we thought the Taliban didn’t walk the walk
    Huh, and that ain’t too cool that talk

    Hey Joe, I heard you’ll bring all the Americans out
    But what if the Taliban shoots that idea down?
    Hey Joe, I heard you shot your cred, clown
    Shot it down in the ground, yeah

    Hey, Joe
    Are you gonna run in 2024 now? Will Kamala be bumped off the ticket?
    Hey Joe, I said
    Are you gonna run in 2024 now? Does Kamala gotta go?


  25. Telee

    The NYT had an op-ed talking about the 9 democratic congress people who won’t support the 3.6 trillion dollar ” infrastructure bill. I submitted a comment stating that these congress people had received 3 million dollars from the pharmaceutical company. I said they were working for the donors’ interest and not for the people. Comments received were interesting. One theme was that corporations are ARE people. Another asked what is wrong with donors supporting politicians that support their interests, just like your pals, the unions. So what I see as corrupt these people see as legitimate.
    Does it not occur to these people that issues like global warming, although an existential threat the mankind, hasn’t elicited that necessary policies because of politicians servitude to corporate donors? Another example is the ACA which was written by Liz Fowler who came from the health insurers and was formulated so there was nothing that had negative impact on the “healthcare industry.” In fact is seems we’ve reached a point where no reforms are possible if they have a negative impact on the corporate donors. The have largely taken over the government. Yet this system is accepted by many without regard to the outcome.

  26. Jason Boxman

    Called my physician’s office out in western NC about Ivermectin; They apparently hadn’t heard of it, but would let me know if a prescription for it was possible. Haven’t heard back yet. I hadn’t realized I’d need to provide a brief, so I wasn’t prepared and stumbled through an explanation of it.

    1. Yves Smith

      The big issue is it is super safe and at “normal” doses won’t hurt you. And you don’t intend to use this not to do stuff like get boosters, this is an extra protection, not a substitute. That is the real PMC issues, that those Bubbas are using horse paste to not take their sacred vaccines.

      1. rowlf

        that those Bubbas are using horse paste to not take their sacred vaccines.

        Amen! Huzzah!.

        Some of us are skeptical of fast tracked FDA approvals. Should the fast tracking method be used for nuclear power plant certification too? It could save a lot of money.

  27. Culp Creek Curmudgeon

    The Incoherence of American History from The New Republic

    A very good review of American Colonies: The Settling of North America, American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750–1804 and American Republics: A Continental History of the United States, 1783–1850 all by Alan Taylor. This paragraph gives a good sense of what it’s about:

    “The angst over statuary, school curricula, and all the rest in recent years has been underpinned by the conviction that asking what we’re to do with American history amounts to asking what we’re to do with America—once we’ve settled whether the American conscience is defined by original sin or high ideals, we seem to believe, we’ll understand our destiny. But America has no destiny. It has no conscience. There is no American DNA, no American soul. America will not be carried off into hell for its crimes; it is not fated to repeat them. But no moral engine will pull this country and the world inexorably forward either. In the last century, the world has seen both extraordinary expansions of social and political freedom and bloodshed on an extraordinary, technologically facilitated scale. We live longer and we live better thanks to an economic system that has nevertheless produced previously unfathomable levels of inequality and that, for the short-term profit and convenience of a relative few, is gradually undoing the basic systems that have sustained stable human life on this planet.”

  28. Hiroyuki

    “The public health authorities don’t have any view into that.’”

    Poor Mina. Academics really need to get out more. Does he really think PH agencies have the wherewithal to track this sort of thing effectively right now? is he living in Singapore or Iceland?
    Most departments re telling infected patients to ” do you own contact tracing”

  29. Wukchumni

    When it comes to war medals awarded to the soldiery, hard to beat the United Kingdom. From around the Napoleonic era onward there have been a flurry of different ones for here, there and somewhere else Britannia fought over or kept the peace.

    From a design standpoint, I always rather liked the 1878-1880 Afghanistan medal, with elephant on it.

    An away win for the Pommies, and they covered the spread.



  30. allan

    The University of Texas – where aerosol science goes to die:

    Q: Are faculty able to ask students to leave the classroom if they have noticeable COVID symptoms
    such as coughing?

    A: No. Faculty may not ask students to leave a class if they are coughing/sneezing/because of any perception of something related to an illness/disability as this would be a violation of the ADA to treat someone differently because of a perceived disability (under the ADA, even a temporary condition like an illness could be a disability). Instead, faculty may note in their syllabus that “COVID-19 spreads primarily from person to person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person sneezes or coughs. The droplets can infect people who are closer than about six feet to the infected person if the droplets land in their mouths or noses or are inhaled into their lungs. It may also be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. If you are experiencing symptoms, please stay home and email me that you’ll miss class. I will happily provide you the materials so you can make up any notes/work.”

    Actually, UT law professor Steve Vladeck says that they got the law wrong, too.

    1. Acacia

      Speaking from personal experience with college admins, lawyers, and an ADA dispute that almost escalated into a lawsuit, I would say that it’s important to bear in mind that colleges can be very skittish about this (so it was explained to me) because if they are found to be in violation of the ADA there can be problems with getting student loans. The students take out the loans of course, but the money ultimately goes to the colleges, and the colleges feel they can’t afford to jeopardize this revenue stream by falling afoul of the ADA. To receive federal loan money, a college or university must comply with the ADA. An ADA violation is basically considered a form of discrimination, and the definition of “disability” ergo discrimination is very flexible.

      So, when students appear with papers from a doctor saying they have special needs, nobody asks any questions. In fact, the ADA rules are set up in such a way that even the college admins in charge of the special needs students have no access to their medical files. Do the students really have special needs, or are they and their parents gaming the system to get more time for exams and deadlines, more flexibility all around, ergo better grades? Nobody can tell. There’s no way to audit it. Teachers are asked to sign off and “agree” but really they have no choice. To refuse would be to admit a discriminatory practice, to invite a lawsuit, and to face possible termination.

      Based upon a few scrapes with ADA disputes, my feeling now is that when I hear about colleges pushing for things like trigger warnings on all syllabi or unusual tolerance for special snowflakes or other woke practices that cause people outside of academia to scratch their heads, it’s worth considering whether fear of an ADA dispute is lurking. My guess is that if the ADA really gets extended into covering Covid symptoms, things are going to go off the rails pretty quickly.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The University of Texas – where aerosol science goes to die

      Thank you, that’s a terrific link.

      I have mentioned that “genocidal elites”* is a parsimonious explanation for a lot of what passes for public policy these days. How strange, except not, to see this play out among college administrators!

      If any other readers have seen similar policies from universities, could they post links? This shocking ignorance, if ignorance it be, among our most highly educated classes is surely postworthy.

      NOTE * Due to the operation of elites taken as a class. “Banal” inattention and denial surely play their parts at the individual level.

  31. VietnamVet

    Amtrak is an example just like the Fall of Kabul or the Delta Variant exponential climbing death toll above. The USA has lost the ability to see reality, do long-term planning or build functional public structures and institutions. Through sleight of hand, Amtrak tickets pay the operating costs of the Northeast Corridor but not the capital costs. That’s the cause of the construction delays. Amtrak can’t fund new Hudson River and Baltimore tunnels by itself. Federal, State and local tax money is required.

    Even direr, are the climate change enhanced wildfires and flooding disasters occurring right now. Release of CO2 and methane gases need to be curbed. Renewable energy electrified rail transportation of goods and people are a great way to achieve this goal but railroads cannot afford to do this. Instead, corporate managers today exploit their businesses to increase their bonuses by running longer trains, closing yards, and hiring fewer workers.

    It is clear today in 2021 that a system change is required to build and maintain a sustainable human civilization on a finite earth powered by solar, geothermal and nuclear energy. Predatory Capitalism and its Global Empire failed.

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