2:00PM Water Cooler 8/9/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, as always on Monday I have a plethora of items gathered over the weekend, mostly in politics. Please check back. –lambert UPDATE All done!

Bird Song of the Day

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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:

50.1% of the US is fully vaccinated, a big moment, breaking the psychological 50% barrier.

Case count by United States regions:

As far as reaching the peak of January 8, 2021, with 295,257 cases per day … I’m not that pessimistic (modulo a new variant brought into the country by our ridiculously lax policies on international quarantines). What we might call, after Everest, the “First Step” (November 25, 2019) with 178,466 looks in striking distance, especially if the case count purple line continues go near vertical. When you look at those “rapid riser” counties on the CDC map, you’ve got to think this rise has a way to run. 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 slows again. Texas slows now too.

NEW From CDC: “Community Profile Report August 4, 2021” (PDF), “Rapid Riser” counties, this release:

This looks at least not worse, and in Missouri and (kinda) in Texas and California, perhaps a bit better. This map blows the “Blame Bubba” narrative out of the water. Not a banjo to be heard. Previous release:

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

Test positivity:

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

Hospitalization (CDC):

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

The, er, red states (Florida, Louisiana) are as yet still buried in the aggregated national data.

Deaths (Our World in Data):

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

Covid cases worldwide:

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

* * *


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

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

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

Biden Administration

Lambert here: Biden has been a better President than Obama, so far. But they share one feature: Obama pulled away from McCain in 2008 when the Crash was clear to all; voters gave him a mandate to solve the problem, because Democrats had some good will on the balance sheet for “the economy.” Voters gave Biden a mandate to solve the Covid pandemic, because Democrats had some good will on the balance sheet for effective governance (not Trump’s strength). Obama did not deliver. Biden is not delivering on his crisis either, as Yves’ post this morning shows. Happy 2022!

* * *

“Biden yet to nominate new FDA chief even as delta surges” [The FDA]. “Biden selected Woodcock, a longtime FDA regulator, to serve as the acting commissioner in January but has since received pushback, including from senators and anti-opioid advocates on that move. Several Democratic senators have voiced opposition to Woodcock, citing her time at the FDA when opioid painkillers were approved, later contributing to an epidemic that has left many Americans dead.” That was a bug? Oh. More: “Other names floated for commissioner include Zeke Emanuel, former health policy adviser in the Obama administration and an architect of the 2010 Affordable Care Act [yikes]; Michelle McMurry-Heath, CEO of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization; Katherine Luzuriaga, director of the University of Massachusetts Center for Clinical and Translational Science; and Florence Houn, who worked at the FDA during multiple administrations. Experts said they are puzzled by the delay in nominating a commissioner amid a pandemic. Scott Becker, CEO of the Association of Public Health Laboratories, called it ‘very odd’ that there’s no permanent head or even a nomination in the pipeline, saying he would have expected ‘this would have been one of the first agencies’ to get its confirmed leader. ‘Now’s the time to nominate someone. … Three months ago I would have said the same thing,’ he said.” • Perhaps the sausage on the Pfizer approval is much more difficult to make than any of the insider are letting on? So nobody wants the job?

“Fauci hopeful COVID vaccines get full OK by FDA within weeks” [Associated Press]. “The U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said Sunday that he was hopeful the Food and Drug Administration will give full approval to the coronavirus vaccine by month’s end and predicted the potential move will spur a wave of vaccine mandates in the private sector as well as schools and universities.” • “Hopeful”? Or “directs that”? We’re gonna approve the Pfizer vaccine with either an Acting Commissioner (after eight months) or a Commissioner who’s been on the job for a few days and knows enough about issues in the approval to wield a rubberstamp and that’s about it? How does this make sense?

UPDATE When you’ve lost Jeff Stein:

How about on the First of Never? Throwing the working class under the bus on the $15/hour minimum wage is pretty egregious, but there’s more:

UPDATE “Biden Is Ignoring An Easy Climate Victory” [David Sirota, The Daily Poster]. “The Biden administration has signaled its commitment to tackling the financial risks posed by climate change through executive orders and key appointments. But advocates say the president is missing an easy opportunity for big climate progress: divesting the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), the federal employee pension fund. The TSP is the largest defined contribution plan in the world, with assets worth nearly $700 billion. It has also steadfastly refused to embrace the growing trend of pensions divesting from fossil fuels, since its governing body, the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board (FRTIB) says it does not have the authority to divest from fossil fuel assets. But other public pension funds have done exactly that. In June, Maine became the first state to order its public pension funds, worth about $17 billion, to divest from fossil fuels through legislation. Earlier this year, three New York City pension funds announced that they would be divesting about $4 billion worth of assets following years of activist pressure. Federal employees and lawmakers are now escalating a campaign to pressure the FRTIB to divest from fossil fuels, arguing that it is the board’s fiduciary duty to do so. Their demands were aided in recent weeks by a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which concluded the board was exposing the fund to financial risks by not assessing the impact of climate change.”

“The Kamala Files: One” [Alice from Queen, Her Own Devices]. “But let’s not be morbid. Say that forty months from now, Biden and Harris win a second term, and Biden survives it in fair health. Survival beyond one’s mid-eighties is indeed the likeliest fate for any nonsmoking, non-obese American his age who lives and travels with an emergency room. In that case, Harris becomes ‘merely’ the 2028 Democratic front-runner. This is not to mention Harris’s chances in 2024, should Biden retire after one term.1 As a big-time DC-based political reporter told me when I asked about Harris’s future, “How to put this nicely and neutrally? There is more precedent for a VP running to succeed a president than there is for a president to run for re-election at age 81.” On [knee-jerk reaction here] Willie Brown: “[A] deeper dive into Brown’s role will have to wait for a future File. The point here is peripheral to Brown, and concerns the young, relatable Kamala’s special aptitude for friendship and its close cousin, networking. The personality you see on stage annoying you with her laugh now wasn’t invented for cameras. It came from a private talent for ingratiation that served her marvelously as she gathered the proverbial Rolodex of high-level donors and sherpas needed to run for San Francisco DA. Her bench only deepened when tech wealth took over the city and the generation of donors and politicians beholden to Brown began to fade… we may not admire the results of Kamala’s rise. But if you’re going to bother with this level of social climbing, for God’s sake, it shouldn’t be an end in itself. And however unpleasant it is to watch the political sausage getting made, an early triumph like Harris’s is exceedingly rare. It’s not something that can be credited entirely to Willie Brown. Many young pretty things are called to the periphery of a charity circuit; few are chosen to sit on a museum board.” • Well worth a read.

Democrats en Deshabille

Missed this at the time:

UPDATE “Shock poll shows Gavin Newsom losing recall vote by double digits” [San Francisco Chronicle]. “The poll came from Survey USA and the San Diego Union Tribune, and was conducted among 1,100 Californians from Aug. 2 to Aug. 4. It found that 51% of respondents were in favor of recalling Newsom, while only 40% wanted to keep him in power. The previous Survey USA/San Diego Union Tribune poll from May found 36% in favor of the recall with 47% opposed. Unlike a recent UC Berkeley/Los Angeles Time poll that was weighted by whether the respondent was likely to vote in the Sept. 14 recall election, the Survey USA carried no such weight, which is even more alarming for the governor. The Berkeley/Los Angeles Time poll found double-digit opposition to the recall, but a dead heat when weighted by likelihood to vote. Polls have consistently shown a large enthusiasm gap, strongly suggesting Republicans are more likely to turn out…. The new poll’s other shocking finding is a new leader on question two (‘Which candidate should replace Newsom if he loses question one’): YouTuber Kevin Paffrath, the most high-profile Democrat on the bottom of the ballot.” • I dunno…. You can’t beat something with nothing, even if Newsome is very close to nothing…..

UPDATE “Who the heck is Kevin Paffrath? Recall could make him California governor” [East Bay Times]. “Now Paffrath, a real estate investor from Ventura who has built a large following on YouTube with videos that teach people how to build wealth, said he’s ready to extend an offer to Newsom. If the governor agrees to a live, two-hour debate, Paffrath will donate $1 million of his own money to a charity of Newsom’s choice…. On the right, there are his proposals to make all coronavirus safety measures optional, to ditch income tax for anyone making less than $250,000, to use the National Guard to get all unhoused Californians off the streets and to give trained gun owners more rights. His introduction video also features clips from Fox News and from conservative media host Ben Shapiro. On the left, Paffrath calls for a version of universal basic income, more solar and wind farms, support for marriage equality and higher pay for teachers. ‘I’ve always been looking for somebody with centrist solutions who can bridge that gap between Democrats and Republicans to just solve problems,’ Paffrath said. In today’s hyper-partisan political era, a lot of voters might find that appealing. But some people who work in the areas Paffrath wants to tackle say his platform illustrates the downside of people with zero political experience running for office. They say some of his ideas have already proven ineffective and others simply aren’t legal.” • Hmm. I could be playing with fire here, but I wonder what Paffrath thinks of CalPERS?

Obama Legacy

“Branding,” eh?

Unfortunate, to say the least (and I can’t say I think much of the “44×60” logo design either; it’s not legible. Of course, that’s Obama, so….).

Realignment and Legitimacy

A big “if”:

But agreed.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Job Openings” [Trading Economics]. “The number of job openings in the US rose by 590,000 from a month earlier to a series high of 10.073 million in June 2021, and well above market expectations of 9.281 million, adding to signs of labor supply constraints as the world’s largest economy consolidates its recovery.”

Inflation: “United States Consumer Inflation Expectations” [Trading Economics]. “Median year-ahead inflation expectations in the US stayed at a series high of 4.8 percent in July, following a substantial jump in June. Meantime, expectations for inflation over the next three years rose to 3.7 percent from 3.6 percent in the prior month, reaching the highest level since August 2013.”

* * *

Retail: We’re flipping cars now?

Shipping: “A.P. Moller-Maersk is signaling more and bigger acquisitions may be on the way. The parent of container shipping giant Maersk Line just spent nearly $1 billion to add two logistics companies that will bring the ocean carrier parcel-delivery capabilities” [Wall Street Journal]. “Maersk CEO Soren Skou [says] that with $11.5 billion in free cash flow in a surging shipping market, the operator has ‘quite a substantial war chest’ and may even complete more acquisitions this year…. Maersk’s capacity strategy right now is focused on land, as it looks to build up more stable business with big enterprise customers under long-term contracts.”

Shipping: “Container equipment prices double in the space of 12 months” [Splash 247] “‘Pricing has been driven by soaring demand for newbuild containers as shipping lines and lessors have been seeking to rebuild fleets in the face of chronic equipment availability due to widening disruption across the container supply chain,’ said John Fossey, head of container equipment and leasing research at Drewry. ‘But also increased input costs, particularly for corten steel and flooring materials have also played a part. We expect dry box prices to peak in the third quarter and to soften thereafter, easing further over subsequent years as trade normalises.'”

The Bezzle: DoorDash is a thoroughly nasty company, like all the “sharing economy” companies:

Good thread.

The Bezzle: “Self-driving cars would be nowhere without HD maps” [Axios]. “Self-driving vehicles may be loaded with sensors and artificial intelligence, but they’re limited without a really good map…. High-definition maps are critical to the safe, wide-scale deployment of autonomous vehicles. More accurate than satellite-based GPS, they provide richly detailed models of the operating environment and important context to help AVs avoid mistakes…. Most AV developers get to know a test city the same way any new resident does: by driving around…. They spend a few weeks manually driving their test cars in complex urban environments, collecting sensor data and annotating everything about the streetscape, from signs and lane markings to crosswalks and speed limits. Developers can repeat that map-making process city by city.” • This is insane. Such a map would need to be refreshed daily, and by a human. Robot car maps would need to be at least an order of magnitude better than Google maps, where I never assume a landmark is pinpointed within less than a hundred yards. Of course, there could other reasons, and perhaps other funders, for extremely detailed maps of the urban environment. But the maintenance requirement does not go away.

Manufacturing: “Pontifications: A deeper hole for the Boeing 737 MAX market share” [Leeham News and Analysis]. “Boeing’s 737 MAX market share vs Airbus is in a deeper hole than may be generally realized. Aviation Week last week complied a list of the top seven low-cost carrier [LCC] airlines in Asia with orders for 90 or more A320s or 737 family members.” Handy chart:

More: “A moon shot is needed for Boeing to return to its glory days as the world’s leading airplane provider.” • As the MBAs retract their sucking mandibles from Boeing’s dried out husk and scurry off elsewhere…..

Supply Chain: “The scramble for warehouse workers is getting more intense, and more expensive. Walmart is offering special bonuses to many of its warehouse employees to work every hour they are scheduled and giving temporary pay raises to some employees… as the retail giant ramps up for the holiday shopping season amid a tight labor market and stretched supply chains” [Wall Street Journal]. “Some workers have been offered $1,000 over four weeks for not skipping any scheduled shifts during the second half of the summer.” • In other words, their real wage should be whatever they’re getting, plus a thousand dollars.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 36 Fear (previous close: 36 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 24 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 9 at 12:06pm.

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 187 (Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing, so higher is better.)

Health Care

“Prophylactic Role of Ivermectin in Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 Infection Among Healthcare Workers” [Cureus]. I’ve said that I’ve been waiting for an Indian Ivermectin study, because they used it at scale. Here is one such study. Peer-reviewed, journal looks legit. n = 3532. Methods: “A prospective cohort study was conducted at AIIMS Bhubaneswar, which has been providing both COVID and non-COVID care since March 2020. All employees and students of the institute who provided written informed consent participated in the study. The uptake of two doses of oral ivermectin (300 μg/kg/dose at a gap of 72 hours) was considered as exposure. The primary outcome of the study was COVID-19 infection in the following month of ivermectin consumption, diagnosed as per Government of India testing criteria (real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction [RT-PCR]) guidelines. The log-binomial model was used to estimate adjusted relative risk (ARR), and the Kaplan-Meier failure plot was used to estimate the probability of COVID-19 infection with follow-up time.” Conclusion: “Two doses of oral ivermectin (300 μg/kg/dose given 72 hours apart) as chemoprophylaxis among HCWs reduced the risk of COVID-19 infection by 83% in the following month. Safe, effective, and low-cost chemoprophylaxis has relevance in the containment of pandemic alongside vaccine.” • Not an RCT, but supports the conclusions of many clinicians. So I would say this is a very big deal.

“Medical-equipment suppliers have gone from shortages to brimming stockpiles during the coronavirus pandemic. A $197 million inventory reserve was the main driver of a 40% drop in supplier Cardinal Health’s operating earnings in the most recent quarter…. in a sign that supply and demand remain off balance in the sector providing masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment” [Wall Street Journal]. “Cardinal Health has added warehouse space and taken other steps as it rebuilds inventories amid swings in demand. The inventory isn’t going to waste. Cardinal Health and its customers remain concerned about the shortfalls in vital equipment last year, and hospitals also are stocking up on PPE and in some cases looking for Cardinal Health to help manage the supplies. The ‘just-in-case’ buffer inventory may prove more useful as the Delta variant triggers rising Covid-19 case numbers and hospitalizations in parts of the U.S..” • Democrats nudging people with the tax code so much, you’d think there’s be a tax incentive for “just-in-case” pandemic supplies (if such must remain privatized, as apparently they must).

* * *

“A Walk Between Two Poutines with Scaachi Koul” [Walk It Off]. “[(Scaachi Koul) SK]: Anger is such a wonderful tool. It’s protected me my entire life. Which means it’s very hard to let go of, because it’s taken care of me. But I’m at an age where it’s starting to turn on me. It’s not making me feel very good. I have to get to a point where I’m not engaging with every single thing—either online or in the real world—that makes me angry. Because it’s poison. The only good advice I ever got about the internet was, ‘You don’t have to do it if it’s not fun.’ Another one is, ‘There’s no shame in taking yourself out of an un-winnable position.’ And that’s a hard lesson for me. Because I grew up on the internet. That’s where my rage lives. But I understand that anger maybe isn’t serving me in the ways that it once was. So I’m trying to find a balance. More equilibrium. [(Isaac Fitzgerald) I: Ok, So that’s anger. Let’s talk about sadness. This has been a very sad year. SK: This has been a very sad year. I: How are you managing to not avoid sadness? To not treat it like battery acid? SK: I don’t have a choice. I don’t have an option. My sadness is in my neck. It is right here. I’m full. So I’m trying to learn how to deal with it.” • There seems to be an emerging genre of New Yorkers discussing their pandemic emotions. I’m not sure how interesting, as a genre, it is. Although it’s worth noting that society-wide organic damage can have profound effects. Though looking at the statistics, the emotions that should be centered are those of the near-and-dear of restaurant workers, especially cooks. But it looks like the PMC will be centering theirs, at least in the first drafts of history. Plus ça change….

UPDATE “Delta variant is sucking the joy out of back-to-school 2021” [Los Angeles Times]. “Back-to-school 2021, with California campuses fully open for 6 million children, was supposed to herald relief — even celebration — for a mostly normal school year ahead. But a surge in the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus has reignited parents’ anxiety — and, for many, the safety and quality of schooling once again feel uncertain and tenuous.” • Same story, different venue.

UPDATE “What to Do With Our Covid Rage” [New York Times]. Despite the headline, better than the previous two. “Our national conversation has reached the point where many Americans are done with any and all excuses offered by the unvaccinated. Some of the inoculated are not just self-righteous but downright venomous, arguing on social media that hospitals should refuse to admit unvaccinated Covid-19 patients, calling them trash and wishing them a painful death. Residents of blue America have pronounced this a red-America problem. “Our state did a great job fighting the pandemic,” one person tweeted. “Our reward? The mouth-breathing knuckle-draggers in adjacent red states flooded their hospitals and spilled over into ours.”… This archetypal bumpkin villain of post-Trump America has long received too much credit in a country where Trumpism thrives in affluent, white urban communities bursting with college degrees. In handling the pandemic, such misdirection of attention keeps us from what we should be doing: trying to reach the vast group of people who might choose vaccination if barriers to access and knowledge were removed. One overlooked barrier, as ever in this country, is socioeconomic class. Polls conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation earlier this year found that working-class people — white, Black, Hispanic, Democrat, Republican — were less likely to be vaccinated. ” • And by “overlooked,” we mean “erased”:

Our Famously Free Press

“Angels, demons, and videotape” [Ian Leslie, The Ruffian]. On the Central Park birdwatching incident, Amy Cooper v. Christian Cooper. “Amy had accidentally walked into the middle of a polarised battle between dog walkers and birdwatchers that has been rumbling on for years in Central Park, and indeed other city parks across the country. In New York, Christian [Cooper] was known by locals as one of its most energetic combatants. Foster tracks down other dogwalkers, including a black man, who got almost exactly the same treatment from Christian, right down to the gripping of the bike helmet, and who found it intimidating for the same reasons. Of course, for a woman alone there is an extra dimension of peril. Amy, who was a victim of a sexual assault while at college, was not ‘performing’ distress. She was absolutely terrified. She was by herself in a secluded place with a hostile man who was acting erratically and threatening her. Put yourself in her position – how would you feel? From this angle, the moral polarity of the story seems somewhat different. It starts to sound almost like a ‘Me Too’ incident: a man using his superior physical power to dominate an isolated woman. If you’re going to do what you want to do, then I’m going to do what I’m going to do. But you’re not going to like it. The news media did not even try and see it differently, however. Journalists accepted Christian’s account of the incident uncritically, and were uninterested in Amy’s version.” • Ugh. The dogpiling. What a sorry mess.

The Conservatory

More from Rail Yard Ghosts (hat tip, alert reader amfortas):

Black Injustice Tipping Point

You knew it was coming:

(Lindsay is one of the “grievance study” provocateurs.)

Guillotine Watch

So damn “sophisticated” they think the vaccines are sterilizing:

Class Warfare

“The antidote is always turning deeper towards each other” (interview) [Garrett Bucks, Culture Study]. “The reason why I will never love any place like I love Missoula, Montana isn’t actually because of Rattlesnake Creek sparkling at twilight or Pattee Canyon under a perfect blanket of snow. It’s because it used to be the kind of town where the folks I washed dishes with at Finnegans (RIP) could afford to live here on a dishpit salary, which meant in turn that they could spend the rest of their time playing in punk bands at Jay’s (RIP) and writing mind-blowing stuff in the Indy (RIP) and, in doing so, change the lives of teenagers like me. It’s because it used to be the kind of the town that, when I was spending a summer doing anti-WTO organizing (wow that’s the most turn of the millenia phrase possible), I discovered that some of the most consistent, committed, community-minded activists in town made their income selling incense on the street in front of the Wilma. And the moment that this town has a dollar-sign gate on it, where the barrier to living in this valley is a six or seven figure income, it’s not just that you hurt people… you also make this town into a shell of itself. ” • Poetic, but a dissonant note.

News of the Wired

“‘Tortured phrases’ give away fabricated research papers” [Nature]. “In April 2021, a series of strange phrases in journal articles piqued the interest of a group of computer scientists. The group, led by Guillaume Cabanac at the University of Toulouse in France, could not understand why researchers would use the terms ‘counterfeit consciousness’, ‘profound neural organization’ and ‘colossal information’ in place of the more widely recognized terms ‘artificial intelligence’, ‘deep neural network’ and ‘big data’. Further investigation revealed that these strange terms — which they dub ‘tortured phrases’ — are probably the result of automated translation or software that attempts to disguise plagiarism. And they seem to be rife in computer-science papers. Research-integrity sleuths say that Cabanac and his colleagues have uncovered a new type of fabricated research paper, and that their work, posted in a preprint on arXiv on 12 July1, might expose only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the literature affected. To get a sense of how many papers are affected, the researchers ran a search for 30 tortured phrases in journal articles indexed in the citation database Dimensions. They found more than 860 publications that included at least one of the phrases, 500 of which were published in a single journal: Microprocessors and Microsystems. ‘It harms science. You cannot trust these papers, so we need to find them and retract them,’ says Cabanac.” • I wonder if there are “tortured phrases” in medicine?

News you can use:

“Do not ascend to heaven!” (photo essay) [I, Bodger]. “I sometimes wonder whether reusing old materials isn’t a false economy. On the one hand, the materials are free, but on the other, they usually require a fair amount of labor, scraping, cleaning, repainting and refinishing, adjusting constantly for variations, fixing, replacing worn or missing parts, and worrying over. The trouble with poverty is that it takes time. And I suppose time gets more costly as we go along.” • This looks like a lovely house, to me. I think Christopher Alexander would approve. I bet there is a “sunny nook.”

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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 (Carla):

Carla writes: “Plant life along a section of the Cascades waterfall in the EB Jeffries Park of the Blue Ridge Parkway.”

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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. hunkerdown

      You’re creating property without a license. Bad stoner! Get into the freedom cage!

      Much hinges on whether we can tank this stupid taboo against the unvaccinated.

  1. Meriam

    “The Kamala Files: One”

    The background:

    “It is no secret but public knowledge that Kamala Harris slept her way up into California political life by being a very public escort and mattress for California Democrat Kingmaker Willie Brown. Willie Brown is 30 years older than Harris and was very married at the time. It was public. It was an embarrassment for women…”


        1. jsn

          Sadly, this is how my Republican friends have been raising their daughters for the last 20 years, encouraing them to do exactly this kind of thing: one is “teaching tennis” to Richard Branson right now on Neckar Island ffs.

          So I guess this is the natural evolution of the duopoly in the same way as Michelle hugging W.

          So, yes, a role model! This is what Neoliberalism does to people.

      1. DJG, Reality Czar

        Thanks, Lambert Strether. The Kamala Files article by Alice from Queens is insightful about human relations, uses of power, rising in U.S. society, and how ambition deforms personality. (Now that we are in the wake of the faux Spam musubi served at the deformed-by-ambition ex-president’s feast…)

        This set of sentences is remarkable for figure and ground, surface and substance, media overdosing, prejudices, public versus private, and the way that some relatable women yearn to show themselves to the world:

        In an Opinion piece titled “Vogue got too familiar, too fast,” Givhan blamed Vogue for making Harris look relatable: “The cover did not give Kamala D. Harris due respect. It was overly familiar. It was a cover image that, in effect, called Harris by her first name without invitation.”

        Givhan goes on to suggest that the cover reflected the preferences of Vogue’s editor and Hollywood-villain Anna Wintour, a sign of Wintour’s incorrigible cluelessness about Vogue’s problematic past.

        Elegance is refusal, said another person highly influential and informed about fashion, Diana Vreeland. I keep that quote around. It may be that I can because refusal is easier for a man.

        Yet Kamala Harris most likely cannot take Vreeland’s advice.

        1. Socal Rhino

          I’ve been following Alice from Queens on twitter, she’s interesting. She recently started on Substack and is offering most content for free on a slight delay. I think she’s worth a look.

    1. John Beech

      I’m not fond of the Vice President but whether she slept her way to the top, or not, isn’t of my concern because I believe you use the tools at hand.

      Look, it’s all well and good to trash her for this (if it’s true, I wasn’t there), but in a world where the good ol’ boy network is real, then using someone sex is just as valid a tactic for moving on up the ladder as a pal putting in a good word for you. The glass ceiling is real. Simply put, I refuse to condemn anybody for putting lipstick on their pig to present it in the best light. Thus, making their best case – whether it’s through working harder at the desk, or beneath it – is fair because you gotta do what you gotta do.

      Do I like it? Hell no! But needs must. That, and I don’t disrespect sex work, either. Work is work.

      1. Soredemos

        The problem isn’t the sex (it’s 2021, it’s time to grow up and stop ‘slut-shaming’), the problem is the corruption. I don’t care who women screw, but I do care about unqualified people bribing and ‘networking’ their way into positions they have no business being in.

        Harris isn’t competent enough to run a lemonade stand. Her entire career has been about ‘moving up the ladder’ through every means but actually being good at the job.

  2. Dr. John Carpenter

    I’ve seen death metal band logos easier to decipher than Obama’s vanity birthday logo up there. I’m sure he had access to the biggest and best talent and that’s what the came up with? Trump’s personal branding may be tacky, but at least you can read it.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      It has a real TB12 vibe to it. TB12 is Tom Brady’s “health supplement” company.

      1. Milton

        TB12. Nothing to see here. Because it’s perfectly normal to have a mid-40s person in the best professional shape of their lives…

        Signed, Bitter Niner Fan

    2. Mel

      Since I’d taught myself to read Cyrillic, it wasn’t illegible at all.



      I have no idea what it means.

    3. ObjectiveFunction

      > and I can’t say I think much of the “44×60” logo design either; it’s not legible. Of course, that’s Obama, so…

      You win my internet today.

      The President Formerly Known As Barack is just following the lead of Prince, Diddy and other AA playaz, rebranding Himself.

      Perhaps, like Kanye (“Ye”), his Twitter handle will then shorten to something gangsta like “Fo Te”.

      Keepin it real yo

    1. zagonostra

      Whatever happened in Sweden? They went a different route with lockdowns and pushing for total vaccination and I think they are comparable or better than countries like Australia. I would google, but I don’t trust results anymore. More and more I am going to Bitchute, Odyses, and Rumble and other platforms. Along with TDS, CV19 is going to redefine how Ytube is used/relied on. Still like the music videos and academic lectures, but for the “truth” on sensitive issues, I’m done with it.

      1. Jonhoops

        Australia has had 940 deaths compared to Sweden’s 15000.

        So no Sweden isn’t doing anywhere near as well as Australia.

        1. The Rev Kev

          And the bulk majority of those 940 deaths were in major outbreak last year in the State of Victoria and only over a time span of a only a few months.

          1. BlakeFelix

            And Australia has a much bigger population than Sweden, so the disparity is worse than it appears for Sweden.

    2. Mikel

      Because, globally, the underlying problem for why this pandemic is not manageable has not been fixed.
      All the cost cutting (staff, lack of equipment, and more) and/or profit seeking in the health care industry has not been addressed.
      They just have the “magic shots”….

    3. voislav

      From the article: 69% vaccination rate for the full population, 1400 active cases, 18 hospitalizations. 2:1 ratio between vaccinated and unvaccinated infections, so roughly corresponding to the vaccination percentage.

      We are talking less than 2% of infections resulting in hospitalization, so being overwhelmed is more a function of low number of beds rather than high number of hospitalized.

      1. genezip

        18 hospitalizations is overwhelming their infrastructure??? I know Iceland is small, but geez… Also, I feel like this article is leaving out – or is unclear on – the most important piece of info: out of the 18 hospitalized, how many were vaccinated?

        1. psv

          A spokesperson for the Icelandic directorate of health said in an interview on July 30th that for the time being that information is being withheld for privacy reasons, to reduce the possibility of patients being identified. That decision is subject to review, there may be weekly summaries released later on.

  3. Keith

    Regarding messing with the TSP for Biden to score some cheap political points would face blow back from federal employees, who do not want any federal tinkering with their money. Rubio learned that lesson when he tried to get the TSP to divest from Chinese stocks on supposed national security grounds. Biden will learn the safe thing if he touches upon the thrid rail for federal employees. While feds may not agree on much, there is universal support for keeping politics out of these retirement funds.

    1. TBellT

      The problem is the TSP doesn’t even allow employees to choose funds that divest from fossil fuels. It has limited offerings of where to invest. Some of the TSP’s low fee structure is probably due to these limited offerings but there should be some opening up for those who care about the environment.

      For someone who cares about China you could at least remove yourself from the I Fund. There’s no similar option for federal employees who care about environment.

      1. Keith

        It is a slippery slope, as it only starts with one, then you have a bunch of funds that need to start increasing the cost of maintenance, which is what going the ESG route would entail.

        Further, I fund is heavily invested in Europe. You get China exposure from the C fund, as well. That was part of the push back, trying to exclude China, a major trading partner, would adversely affect investments and once again increase the cost structure of the TSP.

        You cannot please everyone, and the majority is on board with this. If you do feel strongly about an ESG play, you can always roll your TSP into roth and then into an account you personally control. If you prefer to stay with Blackrock at the helm, there are tradeoffs. Such is life.

        1. Objective Ace

          Replacing the US index with US index sans oil/environmentally bad companies does not face this slippery slope problem. Your not adding other options, Your replacing an option as other pension funds have already done. If Biden was savvy he could even frame this as beneficial move: “Not only is this a good move for the environment, by moving before other large institutional investors can sell we are benefiting your accounts. These companies have no future and it’s only a matter of time until their stock prices indicate that”

          Of course biden policy isnt necessarily consistently with that message.. so maybe it wouldnt work.. I think that’s the bigger issue. He’s not worried about Fed employees. He’s worries about his private sector CEO buddies. Doesnt want to send the wrong message

          1. TBellT

            Right, climate change puts a weight on all the stocks in the index as it brings new crises. Maybe it won’t matter for those cashing out in next 10 years but anyone holding longer has to seriously question why the fund isn’t. Then again the federal workforce does tend to be older than average.

          2. Keith

            Dont count oil out yet. The produce much, from plastics to fertilyzer that allows for us and tge world to produce much. Further, Bidens own people are still invested in tgese comoanies. They are well run and produce great dividends. Lastly, fossil fuels are not going away anytime soon, despite all the green dream rheteric. Heck, electric vehicles will likely increase demand for gas and coal throughout the globe. This is more about appealing to lefties who may or may not even have funds invested in the TS P. If those people want to be ESG investors, tgey can do it with thier money, not other peoples money, especially their retirement accounts.

      2. John Beech

        There is a mechanism. It’s called move your fund out of the TSP. I’m tired of woke politics.

        1. TBellT

          Wanting to make a small move to avoid climate disaster = woke politics?

          Let me guess, your life expectancy is short enough this isn’t a concern for you?

          1. Keith

            Considering it is the children of the Sunrise Movement throwing tantrums while the Climate Czar is flying private planes to birthday parties and the enlightened EU is doubling down on natural gas- not to mention Asia’s apperite for fossil fuels, it may be a false cannard.

            To think of it, are tge Sunrise kids clamoring for jobs programs?

        2. The Historian

          For most retired gov employees, that would be a really stupid move because whatever we move out of Thrift Savings will get taxed and moving all of the funds out of TSP will most likely put us into a much higher tax bracket for the year we move the funds since it is treated as income. Fed employees over 70.5 yrs do have to take out at least the required minimum each year but that doesn’t affect our taxes nearly as much.

  4. Hepativore

    So, in 2024, the Democrats might decide to try and drag Biden across the presidential finish line for 2024. Then, if by some miracle we do not get Tom Cotton or Ron DeSantis winning on the Republican side, they could then have Biden resign after the 2026 mid-term elections. Kamala Harris could then be installed as president, and then the Democrats might be able to give Harris a slight bit of incumbency for 2026 and use that to swat down any primary challengers and try and coast on it to the presidency. Plus, this way Harris could hypothetically serve two and a half terms if she takes over during the second half of Biden’s second term. This way, the DNC could keep the progressives muzzled and away from the presidency until 2034.

    Now, this is assuming that the Democrats will not get steamrolled by the Republicans in the up and coming presidential races, as it looks like will happen in the 2022 midterms. Still, I am just trying to think of what the actual strategy is for the Democrats in the coming years. Their main goal is to stop the left, as losing to the Republicans is merely the cost of doing business in maintaining the DNC political institution.

  5. zagonostra

    >Supply Chains

    I still can’t get over that after visiting 5 bike shops over the summer they were all waiting for shipment of bicycles. From integrated chips to something as basic as a bike, this country is dependent on other countries for supplies.

    I don’t think the American psyche has internalized this, the mythos of what this country is or hoped to be is going to come to a reckoning soon and I don’t think it’s prepared; on the other hand I may be completely wrong. I remember seeing that 90% of medicines are produced in China, IIRC (I need a modern day Maimonides Guide for the Perplexed).

    1. Glen

      Seeing the same here with other items. We were trying to track down concrete cap blocks (which must be Made in the USA, I cannot see that we would haul a $1 block of concrete from another country) only to see that all of the local hardware, building supplies, and home/garden big box stores are out.

      And some confirmation on flipping vehicles, heard the exact same story as was mentioned above about selling a three year old SUV for more than new at a neighborhood outdoor gathering, and can relate that our local Ford dealer had two F series trucks for sale on the lot (when it normally has about 100) when I was there for servicing about a month ago.

      We have all been warned that “things would change” if we are no longer the world’s number one economy, and I think that day is here. China now makes the vast majority of low/middle tech items required for “advanced civilization”, and they will increasingly decide that those items will be used for China’s economy rather than shipping to America no matter how much the idiotic Americans spend. I think these shortages are here to stay especially since the typical mega corporation PMC is still working hard to send more American technology (i.e. developed by tax payer funded research and given to a corporation to exploit), factories, and jobs to China and other countries.

      So far I suspect that any Biden “Made in America” initiative has no real teeth to it other than giving hundreds of billions to the same mega corporations that created the out sourcing problem and expecting a different result.

  6. kareninca

    There is something I don’t understand about the “new confirmed covid19 cases per day” graph. Back during the Jan. 8th surge, there was loads of testing, and anyone who had any symptoms at all was tested (at least where I am), and every positive was counted. Now there is far, far less testing; many testing sites have shut down; they are often not looking to test vaccinated people even if they have symptoms. And the CDC is not tracking vaccinated breakthrough cases – do they even make it onto this graph?

    So the the two slopes are not comparable, right? If they were counting now the way they were counting then, with loads of testing, the present slope would likely be a lot steeper. Maybe we are even at the Jan. 8th peak already. Am I missing something?

    1. Jeotsu

      The soaring positivity rate in the South certainly indicates an increasing large fraction of cases are not being tested/counted. And considering the South is the largest case load, adding a healthy % to the already steep slope would probably more reflect the reality of it.

    2. Yves Smith

      Down here in Alabama, testing is not free. All sorts of places like CVS say free testing if your insurance pays for it. But even with my insurance being a NY policy and NY having an absolute mandate re free Covid tests, every time I got billed for the damned test. Talking to Cigna didn’t get it fixed. Customer service reps would sweet talk that the charge was wrong but they could not get it reversed. I had to get NY State to come down on them, every time. Cigna knows what it is doing is just grifting but they know most customers will give up and pay the damned test cost.

      And I still had to pay an “office visit” type charge.

      I am more functional than 99% of the population. How many people do you think got letters demanding payment and told their friends Covid tests were not free?

      1. kareninca

        Testing is mostly not free where I am in Silicon Valley. I am finding this out because starting tomorrow (they’ve just moved up the date) I will have to be tested (within the past 72 hours) in order to accompany my 96 y.o. father in law into the hospital for each of his numerous appointments, and show proof of negative results. Or get vaccinated, but I don’t plan to do that.

        I can get a free test through my HMO nearby, but in order to do that I have to claim that I have a symptom. I can get a free test without a symptom through my HMO in a town that is a 40 minute drive away (due to traffic), but that is not exactly appealing since I’d have to rent a car. I can get a free test at some place for poor people nearby (no proof of income required) – but the place is only open for a few hours one day a week, and also has the downside that you have to be inside with a bunch of people – and that seems to defeat the purpose, doesn’t it? I can pay $175 for the test at some chain. And on and on; I just started looking this evening since I got the “new requirement tomorrow” email this evening.

        What I may instead do is bring my father in law to the hospital and wait outside and demand that they fulfill their absolute legal duty of providing him with assistance for his disabilities. He has the right to insist on someone to help with his hearing problems and his mobility problems. Of course, they don’t actually have the staff for this. They’ve gotten a lot of free work out of relatives up til now; that may be about to end.

        This is going to be a big, big mess, all over the state.

  7. XXYY

    “Self-driving cars would be nowhere without HD maps”

    Of course, maps only document the static features of the environment, not pedestrians, other cars, construction, double-parked trucks, accidents, detours, potholes, fallen trees and power lines, washouts, snowbanks, and all the other fun features of the real world that make driving so fun.

    1. Old Sarum


      Back in the UK where I used to live, it was not very unusual to be driving when a police officer would stride into the path of oncoming traffic with the appropriate hand gesture and everything would grind to a halt.

      It seems to me that the directors of the makers of self driving cars should be required do some systems testing dressed in policing gear, and randomly stride out into a flow of random self-driving vehicles.

      That is a reality show I’d be prepared to watch on live (pay) TV.

      Pip pip!

  8. RockHard

    > Texas Latinos are basically staging an intervention to keep the state red.

    Looking at that list of counties where Trump gained ground, almost all are on the border with Mexico or adjacent to a border county. The others are all south of San Antonio.

    GWB wasn’t a moron when it came to politics.

      1. Arizona Slim

        Here in Tucson, I have met more than a few Latino people who get spittin’ mad when the topic of illegal immigration comes up. Many have the same visceral reaction to crime and lawlessness in this country.

        I’d really be cruisin’ for a bruisin’ if I said something like “Defund the police!”

      2. Sawdust

        Why do people assume that immigrants or Hispanic Americans in general must be in favor of more immigration? If I chose to leave a place, I might not want the people I left behind to follow me. And even if I were just here to make money, why would I want more competition?

      3. Amfortas the hippie

        as an honorary mexican-american, i’ll say that it’s primarily abortion…as well as a certain striving for bougie-ism, at least among the would-be small bidness people*…and a sort of innate hostility to homosexuality(derived, as near as i can tell, from the curious phenomenon of Machismo)…
        They were always gonna be there for the GOP, whenever the latter could figure out how to stop calling them diseased rapist invaders or whatever.
        wife’s familia is prolly half gop(-leaning)…another 10% vote dem…the rest don’t even know when there’s an election happening.
        i wouldn’t be at all surprised if that breakdown scales upwards.
        usual caveat about small sample size, isolated town, etc….and wife says that Cholos in South Central LA are a world away from the Texmex folks I know and love.
        as are venezuelans, or Colombians, etc etc.
        one big mistake the Dems made in relation to “Latinx”…aside from just expecting them to be on their side, due solely to pigmentation…was lumping them into one big all encompassing category. There’s a lot of diversity, it turns out.
        out here, there’s even some animus between 3rd and 4th generation mexican americans(most of our locals are descended from the region around Guanajuatos(sp-2) and san louis obispo)…and more recent arrivals(also from those areas, mostly, it turns out)….I was surprised to learn this.

        (* from the fella working his way up the city ladder, to the woman who worked her way up the local bank hierarchy, to the former drug courier starting a lawn service…all lean decidedly small r right)

    1. Daryl

      These have, in the past, been the most reliably Democratic parts of Texas, even moreso than the cities in the triangle. I did not see very much introspection post Biden’s victory about this fact, as the fact that Biden largely won because more white men voted for him while Dems lost ground with other groups didn’t really fit the narrative.

  9. Mikel

    “The TSP is the largest defined contribution plan in the world, with assets worth nearly $700 billion. It has also steadfastly refused to embrace the growing trend of pensions divesting from fossil fuels, since its governing body, the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board (FRTIB) says it does not have the authority to divest from fossil fuel assets…”

    It might take a while to replace those dividends.

  10. Grant

    The quote on the right securing a right wing majority if it was to move away from white nationalism. First off, this is really more likely because of how utterly horrible Democrats are. They do to every candidate on the left what they just did to Nina Turner. And who they favor are (to a person) corrupt, empty grifters, and they don’t support policies that address any societal issue. They are actively making things worse. The left’s policy positions are popular but the Republicans rarely have to face those policies in the general election because of what the Democrats do to candidates on the left in their primaries. Secondly, explain how the right’s policies do anything other than speed up societal collapse given decades long economic and social trends and given the environmental crisis. This country is in deep, deep trouble

  11. dcblogger

    says budget includes:

    — Child tax benefit
    — Universal pre-K
    — Paid family & medical leave
    — Tuition-free community college
    — Lower prescription drug costs
    — Dental/hearing/vision Medicare expansion
    — Housing
    — Homecare
    — Major climate $
    — Immigration

    many concrete material benefits there, but I don’t know if it will be enough to reelect Biden.

    1. Katiebird

      This is that Reconciliation bill, I think? There is actually stuff that would help me, so I wonder if it will actually pass, even if it does only need 51 votes.

        1. Michael

          Which means it won’t pass because Manchin would have to vote against his own interests, Sinema would have to quit doing whatever it is she is doing, Pelosi would have to ignore the inevitable memo expressing the will of her donors that $1.5 trillion* is more than enough, and The Squad would have to not fold like origami.

          Too many moving parts that have to align just right for success.

          * More like >$600 billion in new spending, but who’s counting?

    2. Fiery Hunt

      Nothing for GenX white working class with no children.

      F*3k him…
      And the Dems.

      New Republican voter after a lifetime of getting screwed by Clinton, Obama, Pelosi, Newsom, et al.

      PS Cuomo is toast…so is Newsom.
      Prepare for a 12 year reign of Republican presidents. And the sh*tstorm climate results that means…

    3. neo-realist

      If the GOP continues to shoot themselves in the foot with bigotry, intolerance, mythology, and, anti-science attitudes, it keeps Biden competitive.

  12. Tom Stone

    I dropped by hardcore coffee in Sebastopol this morning and they had a sign mentioning that masks are once again required indoors, and another sign saying “Order Indoors”.I looked through the glass door and 4 of 5 customers were unmasked and standing no more than 2′ apart.
    So I went to the drive up window and ordered my usual Mate’.
    With my mask on,
    Two of those customers came outside, they looked like father and son, early 20’s and early 40’s and the anger boiling off of them when they walked past me looked like heat mirage on a 100 degree day.
    I also ran into the night manager for a local supermarket while there and he told me that since the mask mandate was reinstituted a lot of their customers refuse to wear them and employee’s are reluctant to confront them because they are so obviously looking for a fight.
    The result is that a lot of their clerks are quitting and he is considering doing so as well.
    Just observing from my vehicle I am seeing less mask wearing than I have at any point during this pandemic.
    In Sonoma County where Delta is making lots of new acquaintances daily.

    1. Arizona Slim

      I’m getting the impression that a lot of people aren’t happy about being advised/asked/told to mask up again.

      1. JBird4049

        I’ve said it before, but I just Do Not Understand why anyone, whatever their ideology, insist on making an infectious, often lethal or debilitating, disease into some tribal marker, game one-upmanship, or rage maker; does anyone do so with rattlesnakes, mountain lions, grizzlies, or in the South, with wild boar? Or does anyone think it is okay to just waltz around without a care in the wild areas where they exist?

        I never have, and I’m pretty relaxed around animals, probably too much so. Eyes and ears open, watching one’s feet (and hands for the snakes), and and maybe make noise if you think Mama Bear is around. Just like masking, social distancing, and perhaps vaccination for COVID.

        It ain’t hard, if the goal is to survive, to understand why of it.

        1. Fiery Hunt

          Some people consider principles like the freedom to walk about without a mask to be more important than living a long life under the edicts of a nefarious elite.

          Call us crazy but freedom to be and to live how we want is GUARANTEED by the Constitution we agreed to.

          Survival for most of us means nothing but more days under the damn thumb of those who are doing just fine.
          Fear of death by our countrymen is not taken lightly.
          But damn, Is a miserable life worth giving up your principles?

          What way and how are you supposed to live?
          However and whatever “they” tell you to do?

          Survival ain’t the point.
          Living well is.

          BTW…I’m vaccinated.

          1. cnchal

            > Some people consider principles like the freedom to walk about without a mask . . .

            The way I look at it, they want the freedom of blowing their shitty exhales into my face. Mask on for me with an ugly looking but supposedly effective KN95 not just so they have a hard time infecting me, but I don’t want my shitty exhale in their face either.

            Masks are a tool. Who would be stupid enough to hammer a nail with the palm of their hand. The right tool is a hammer. For a virus that is transmitted through aerosols, masks are a minimum requirement.

          2. Yves Smith

            Oh right. Do you not bathe and walk around stinking to high heaven as a demonstration of your freedom? Keep your hair dirty and uncombed as a further statement of “Not gonna tell ME what to do”? Not wash your clothes because that’s bourgeois conformism? Not care if you rip out the bottom of you pants and your bum shows, because freedom?

            This is childish. Too bad you can’t see it.

            1. Fiery Hunt

              So, just to be clear, I wear a mask in all public indoor spaces and I certainly avoid people who aren’t wearing a mask. Hell, I deal with people (clients) everyday who quip, “It’s ok, I’m vaccinated!” when I ask them to wear a mask.

              My unclear, I guess, point was that for some people being “unafraid” of a virus is better than being forced to take a “vaccine”. Or even to be forced to wear a mask.
              And I understand that point of view. I do. It’s not mine, but I get it.

              PS And yes, Yves…I don’t bathe or comb my hair most days. Nor are most of my clothes clean…But that’s the working life of of a 60 hour a week, almost middle class, living in an apartment with no laundry, can’t afford lots of decent clothes kinda guy. :) It’s not such a sin to not be rich. And it’s not because I’m telling off the man, but because I just don’t care…

    2. Objective Ace

      I have some family who feel like this. I find the most effective way to get them to mask up (at least when I’m around) is to sympathize with them. “I agree with your frustration and I’m not asking you to mask up because the CDC says to. Its become abundantly clear the CDC doesnt know what they’re talking about. I’m asking you to mask up because covid numbers are increasing again and vaccines dont work like the CDC promised.”

      I wonder how effective signage/messaging like that would be in public spaces?

    3. Mikel

      It’s the 8 month mark now for Jan recipients. Each month is a countdown of waning protection from the shots and the boosters appear generate diminishing returns (fewer antibodies generated).

      So now is definately the time to wear a mask again and stay away from crowds.

  13. Pat

    I find the illegible logo to be perfect for the Obama Tribute, where all the sophisticates left their common sense on their planes in order to announce their allegiance and approval of one of the worst presidents of the last twenty years.

    It was tasteless, tacky and a backhanded “we can label everything and do it in gold better and more subtly than you can Orange Interloper!”

    Think of it as Barack and Michelle “rise above” any Mar-a-lago Celebration.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Can you imagine the reaction if Trump had done something similar for his birthday in June with people jetting in from all over the country to Florida and huge tents for some 500 people? It would have been hilarious. But at least a Trump logo would be legible as he always wants people to see his name through vanity.

  14. Eustachedesaintpierre

    This from the Federation of State medical Boards would I believe be of interest to IMdoc & any other doctors in the house.

    “Physicians who generate and spread COVID-19 vaccine misinformation or disinformation are risking disciplinary action by state medical boards, including the suspension or revocation of their medical license. Due to their specialized knowledge and training, licensed physicians possess a high degree of public trust and therefore have a powerful platform in society, whether they recognize it or not. They also have an ethical and professional responsibility to practice medicine in the best interests of their patients and must share information that is factual, scientifically grounded and consensus-driven for the betterment of public health. Spreading inaccurate COVID-19 vaccine information contradicts that responsibility, threatens to further erode public trust in the medical profession and puts all patients at risk.”


  15. petal

    Was driving along a local highway(NH rt 120) in Lebanon heading towards Hanover late this afternoon and near a main stop light was a group of 2 vehicles pulled off the shoulder onto the grass(safely out of the way). They were acrossed from hospital property. 5 people were standing there and 1 was holding an American flag. Another one was holding a placard with pictures of faces on it that said “Lives ruined” and another placard said they were protesting against vaccine passports. I heard someone in the opposite lane slow down and scream at them “You people are f-cking a$$holes!”

    1. petal

      And a pickup truck had passed me before that. Its license plate said “IVRMCTN”. Couldn’t believe it. One of those days, I guess.

  16. Ranger Rick

    I read that poutine interview and I was struck by how many people it reminded me of. There’s a very insightful question in there: when he asks her if she can distinguish between her Internet and real-world persona, and she replies that there is no difference, and that being able to separate the two is an act of performance art and not psychology. “Because I grew up on the Internet. That’s where my rage lives.”

    The Internet is a nigh-infinite source of rage-inducing stimuli. To expose yourself to it in the way that she has is profoundly unhealthy, and I see this replicated all over the place. One man I know is so addicted to it he cannot control himself and actively seeks out things to get angry over, to the point where everyone he knows is exhausted by his rants. It’s completely unnecessary stress.

    1. HotFlash

      Adrenaline, the ‘fight or flight’ hormone, is addictive. One can easily be addicted to one’s own adrenaline (it’s other name = speed). The internet only makes it easier.

  17. Bobby Gladd

    As far as I know, it’s a coronavirus similar in symptoms to the flu. Highly contagious, easily spread by young kids, no vaccine for it. We think our grandson picked it up at daycare. We keep him three days a week. They can test for it, but have not been. Seems to afflict very young children and the “elderly” (like me, at 75). I also have Parkinson’s; the past two weeks have really been a drag.

  18. Mikel

    Where are the figures about how many of the people getting Covid now (vaccinated and unvaccinated) are on their 2nd, 3rd, 4th time with it?
    And what can be extrapolated from that information regarding the spread?

    1. curlydan

      Anec-data: One of the NFL’s best quarterbacks, Lamar Jackson, just got back from his 2nd trip to COVID city. The headlines were the most amusing thing, though… “Even after 2nd infection, Jackson still unsure on vaccination”. I mean, hell, he’s got to have some good immunity now.

  19. jr

    How is your day? Me? I spent +>fivetwo<+ days calling claims on and off before talking to a human who promised to fix the then immediate problem but failed to mention my account was frozen.

    This country is going to simultaneously implode and explode.

    1. jr

      Sorry I mangled that first posting, it’s much, much worse:

      How is your day? Me? I spent ~=5=~ hours on the phone handling an unemployment problem which became a state ID account problem which became a DMV problem. None of which was my fault but forgetting to update my license address, all system and operator errors on their part. Tomorrow I will resume this process. I may not have access to my money for a month plus. ~=0=~ notifications about any of this, they just froze my money.

      Each department seems to have a different system. No one can access the other systems. The claims line has no call back or wait, they tell you to try later. The ny.gov will let you wait on the line for a human, where I spent the bulk of the day. The DMV calls you back.

      One department allowed me to use my Protonmail account. The other two refused, saying it’s a “temporary” address and suggesting a Gmail account. I had to submit to a biometric scan on the ny.gov site for no apparent purpose and I have to Zoom with a DMV person at some point. The .gov guy told me the turnover in claims is crazy and no one knows what they are doing there, by the by.

      I was told my .gov problem will be “very hard to fix”. I was told it may take up to a month for my new license. And I am owed $$ back pay because the system has a glitch and lost some of my claims. This will take up to two weeks to review, I was told.

      All of this after last week where I spent ~=2=~ days calling claims on and off before talking to a human who promised to fix the then immediate problem but failed to mention my account was frozen.

      This country is going to simultaneously implode and explode.

  20. Mildred Montana

    Re: Kevin Paffrath

    ‘I’ve always been looking for somebody with centrist solutions who can bridge that gap between Democrats and Republicans to just solve problems,’ Paffrath said.

    And right there Paffrath blows himself out of the water. He is so stupid or obtuse that he fails to realize there is no meaningful gap between Democrats and Republicans–anywhere. Or is he just being deceitful? Promises, promises, California’s version of Obama?

  21. K.k

    In case you need a laugh…


    Yep, the the same good doctor who recently headed the fda for a couple years and now sits on the board of pfizer as mentioned in the article.
    He is arguing in the absence of new variants , the vaccines combined with immunity from natural infections will provide enough protection that this will be the last wave!

    From the article, “Gottlieb said wearing a higher-quality mask, like the KN95 mask, is more important now as the virus is known to spread through aerosols and not droplets.” This seems to imply that the previous variants were not primarily
    transmitted by aerosols. I wonder what was his exact quote.


    This was him a month ago when there were roughly 12,000 new cases a day and he was recommending to rely singularly on the vaccine and discouraging non pharma interventions. Again a month ago….
    ““I think the right response, first and foremost, is to get more people vaccinated,” Gottlieb said. “We’re at a point right now where our mitigation really should be reactive, not proactive,” he added. “We shouldn’t be shutting things down or putting in mask mandates in anticipation of spread. I think we should do it when we see signs of spread, signs of outbreaks.” Is 150,000 new cases a day raging enough?

  22. Amfortas the hippie

    on the Garrett Bucks thing:
    “The antidote is always turning deeper towards each other. It’s in moving away from being consumers-next-door to actually being neighbors.”—way down in the last paragraph:

    i live in such a place, as y’all prolly know by now.
    in my recent near-crusading with the City on behalf of my MIL, due to the city provided shitfountain in her house, twice…i’ve talked with lots of people.
    the HR lady called to give me an update, and…as it was after hours for her, and i was already enough into the beer to be loquacious, we talked for more than an hour on the fone. she kept calling the people of the town “customers”, and I kept immediately correcting her, “Citizens”.
    she finally got it, and changed her words…with only a few slip-ups thereafter.
    when i held forth about how i, a guy out in the county, feel no distinction between city and county…because it’s the only actual city in the county…you could hear the wheels spin and click…
    and when i then went on about civic duty and me wanting nothing but success for this place…that i am as invested in that as anyone…she almost wept on the phone.
    she’s been a constant city employee forever…can’t find a dog catcher? she suits up and crawls under houses, chasing skunks.
    i told the mayor later that she’s a keeper…a quintessential public servant….and all too rare, for that.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Thanks! I needed to hear a story like that. I like to believe there are many people like your constant city employee forever, but meet them too rarely. I also suspect it is becoming more and more difficult for people like her to just do their jobs, and accomplish their ‘mission’.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        amen, to that.
        she lamented the rise of Faceborg…where stupid people with petty grievances get a megaphone and stir up other stupid people(she used nicer language)…said it takes up far too much of her time…enough so real things get missed, like the hothead city sewer guy who came close to attacking our contractor.(dealt with that,lol)
        our last mayor was sincere like that, too…for like 3 terms.
        put up with the whole teabilly mayhem, and still made major infrastructure upgrades.
        too soon to tell the mettle of the new mayor.

        as i’ve said a million times, i’m fortunate that i landed in such a place…and i know it more and more every day.
        i worry about all the richy riches moving in from the big city…a few of them have tried to enter local politics…a couple even made it into office, and promptly launched into their Orange County, Ca agendas…and lost the next election,lol.
        but their more dangerous influence is informal…at the wine bar, the feedstore, the Chamber “gala”, or in the letters to the editor.
        they have money and the patina of “success”…and all i got is erudition and eloquence and a very hard head.

  23. MIkel

    Probably not just Vegas. You’re on your own if you live with the clubbing type. God speed…

    “..Generally, my vaccinated friends and I followed the rules: When we stepped indoors, we masked up. So did the casino dealers, restaurateurs, hotel employees, and about half of the tourists. That is, until we went into the MGM Grand’s Hakkasan nightclub.

    We wore masks while we waited in line outside the club for about 45 minutes. But the moment we entered, we watched everyone take their masks off. No hesitation, no ambiguity. After a year and a half of pandemic living, the scene was both alien and unexpected: Hundreds of people indoors at a Vegas nightclub, singing and dancing and having a ball without masks in the most active COVID-19 hotspot in the state.

    “…On Saturday night, my friends and I went to another club – the Marquee Nightclub inside the Cosmopolitan – and it was more of the same. Employees and bouncers enforced masks outside the club for those waiting in line, then everyone unmasked the moment they stepped inside.

    Don’t get me wrong, I had a blast at the clubs in Vegas. I felt ambivalent about the mask rules – part of me wished everyone could better adhere to the safety protocols, but part of me did enjoy the mirage of normalcy.

    The two clubs I went to – Hakkasan and Marquee – were not unique in their lack of mask enforcement. Others I spoke to in Las Vegas echoed the same stories from different clubs: hundreds of people in enclosed, indoor clubs partying like there’s no pandemic….”

    “…I did test negative for COVID-19 after Vegas, but the performative masking left me feeling anything but ready for a return to Sin City. “

  24. Jeremy Grimm

    With all the references of late to herd immunity I thought it might be interesting to refer to an old article I found on hoof and mouth disease:
    Dr. Richard Wallace,”Hoof and Mouth Disease”, http://livestocktrail.illinois.edu/dairynet/paperDisplay.cfm?ContentID=603
    2001 archive material

    Here are a few teaser quotes yanked from their contexts:
    “The most common means of infection is by the inhalation of virus-containing aerosols. …
    The virus can also cause degeneration of heart muscle, which may result in sudden death of the host. The virus can be found in all parts of the body during the viremic stage of the infection. …
    Vaccines to control HMD are used in many parts of the world. Because vaccinated cattle can be infected even when exposed to homologous virus strains, HMD is seldom, if ever, eradicated by vaccination alone. …
    Hoof and Mouth disease is widespread throughout the world, and modern rapid transportation of people and animals poses a real threat for its introduction into the United States.”

    Any of that sound familiar? I doubt the Hoof and Mouth virus is a relative of the Corona virus, but sounds like they both use similar tricks to infect their hosts.

  25. Mikel

    “Delta variant is sucking the joy out of back-to-school 2021” [Los Angeles Times]

    One of my co-workers here in LA said his one of his kids’ schools will be doing weekly testing.

    If the USA got used to active shooter drills in schools as an accepted part of “normal”, I guess they can get used to the Covid drama.

  26. The Rev Kev

    ‘Robbie Jaeger
    NEW: Shontel Brown’s campaign paid secretive Biden-linked* consulting firm SKDKnickerbocker $1M+ in Q2 for media production and related consulting.’

    Sounds like the DNC had their fat thumbs firmly on the scales in that election. And where did the money come from to pay that million dollar fee?

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      If the Obamas caused it, with their little party, will the long-term residents begin giving the cold shoulders and unwelcome wagons?

  27. cnchal

    > Supply Chain: “The scramble for warehouse workers is getting more intense, and more expensive. Walmart is offering special bonuses to many of its warehouse employees to work every hour they are scheduled and giving temporary pay raises to some employees… as the retail giant ramps up for the holiday shopping season amid a tight labor market and stretched supply chains”

    There is the catch. No Walmart employee will get a penny moar because that will be an impossible condition to meet, their scheduling software guarantees it.

    1. Tom Stone

      The local Safeway Store has a huge banner on its front “Now Hiring”, since yesterday.
      They are offering $15 per hour and are getting few takers and losing quite a few long time employees who are not willing to risk their lives for a paycheck.
      And it has become riskier here in Sonoma County because fewer people are masking up inside despite the new mandate to do so.
      During the past masking mandate period it was very rare to see someone in a store without a mask, now it is common and the maskless ones are very belligerent.
      So working at a grocery store now means risking having some asshole beat the shit out of you as well as the risk of contracting Covid.
      For $15 an Hour, part time.

  28. Wukchumni

    Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Perseids!

    It boils down to whether the comet will commit in coming through with the goods, and the Perseids are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’ll get.

    My favorite are the ‘tracer’ ones we nickname ‘Buck Rogers’ sometimes with a sparkly tail that expand across the horizon and linger a second before disappearing into the ether

    Some years they are stingy or the atmosphere is well lit-drunk on moonshine, but not this year. The expectation is 100 per hour perhaps.

    The meteor shower of my life happened when I was a tyke in 1966.

    At the peak, 144,000 shooting stars per hour!

    Have a read of eyewitness accounts, amazing~


  29. drumlin woodchuckles

    Here’s an interesting little story.

    I wonder if this offers NOmazon warriors a way to degrade and attrit sellers off of Amazon. If enough people leave negative reviews for certain targeted Amazon sellers that these sellers can’t keep up with it all and with the money-bleed, will they leave Amazon?

    If enough sellers could be “bled-to-near-death” in that manner to get mass numbers of them off Amazon, would that begin to cripple Amazon’s bigness-of-footprint?

    What if that were combined with fake good reviews for obvious crap, luring innocent people in to buy the obvious crap and turning those people into unhappy campers?

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      ( Though reading the article itself makes it look as if bad reviews themselves hurt bad companies so much more than paying out big refunds to silence the bad reviews, I wonder which approach would degrade and attrit these companies off of Amazon faster? Or surer?)

  30. Lobsterman

    I think it’s funny that the GOP is losing its shot at the most misogynistic demo because it’s too white supremacist.

  31. Soredemos

    “There seems to be an emerging genre of New Yorkers discussing their pandemic emotions. I’m not sure how interesting, as a genre, it is.”

    It’s not interesting at all. But it’s just an extension of a very widespread human narcissistic failing. I’ll be blunt: 90% of the time I don’t care about your emotional turmoil. Personal often isn’t the same as important. How much drama fiction boils down to ‘someone was angry and sad’? How many damn songs have been written about love? There are plenty of other, more important things in life, if we’d just stop navel-gazing.

    All these self-absorbed memoir pieces are simply an even more irritating version because they’re often about insufferable PMC ‘professionals’. That they’re whiny New Yorkers is merely the even-more-irritating cherry on top (your self-obsessed city is another thing I don’t particularly care about. The mouth of the Hudson river is in fact not the center of the universe).

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