2:00PM Water Cooler 9/9/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

A bit more in politics shortly. –lambert UPDATE All done!

Bird Song of the Day

Talkative and various.

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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….

We already start to an instant rebound from Labor Day, I assume because reporting is returning to normal. Nevertheless, Labor Day, as the end of summer, also signals life changes for Americans, so those changes will affect the numbers too. We shall see!

Vaccination by region:

53.3% of the US is fully vaccinated, a big moment, bursting through the psychological 53% barrier (mediocre by world standards, being just below Ecuador, and just above Switzerland and Malaysia). Every day, a tenth of a percentage point upward; this stately progress seems to continuue no matter what is in the news. 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:

Covid cases top ten states for the last four weeks:

Fresh-squeezed numbers from Florida.

From CDC: “Community Profile Report September 7, 2021” (PDF), “Rapid Riser” counties, this release:

It would be nice if all that lovely green were not a reporting artifact, but…. 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:

Hospitalization (CDC):

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

Deaths (Our World in Data):

We are now well past the peak of last year at this time. Which I am finding more than a little disturbing. (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:

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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

“Trumper Who Chartered Buses To Jan. 6 Rally Pleads Guilty In Capitol Breach Case” [HuffPo]. “Frank Scavo, a Donald Trump supporter from Pennsylvania who chartered four buses to D.C. on the day that the U.S. Capitol was attacked, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge on Wednesday. As part of a plea agreement, Scavo pleaded guilty to one of the four counts in his criminal information during a virtual hearing before Judge Royce C. Lamberth. Scavo admitted that he ‘willfully and knowingly paraded, demonstrated, and picketed in a Capitol Building.’ Scavo, an Old Forge resident who said that about 200 Pennsylvania residents traveled on the trip he organized, initially lied to the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, saying that he and his group ‘didn’t see what was going on inside the Capitol.’ But the news outlet spotted Scavo in news photographs inside the Capitol building. Scavo’s plea deal requires him to cooperate with federal authorities. He could potentially provide useful information about other Pennsylvania residents who traveled on his buses and unlawfully entered the Capitol building.” • Potentially. The walls are closing in!

Biden Administration

“Biden to require all federal workers to be vaccinated -source” [Reuters]. “U.S. President Joe Biden plans to require all federal employees and government contractors to get vaccinated against COVID-19, a source briefed on the matter told Reuters. In July, Biden said federal workers had to get vaccinated or face regular COVID-19 testing and such other safety rules as mandatory face masks at workplaces and restrictions on official travel.”

Now I have to put this material under Politics instead of Health Care–

“Women said the covid vaccine affected their periods. Now more than $1.6 million will go into researching it.” [WaPo]. “Menstrual changes after coronavirus vaccinations could be attributed to immune responses to the vaccines and their impacts on the uterus, as well as to pandemic-related stress, lifestyle changes and contracting the virus itself, according to the National Institutes of Health. But so far, no published studies have examined – or offered conclusive evidence – of possible linkages between the vaccines and menstruation. The coronavirus vaccine trials did not specifically ask participants whether they saw adverse side effects in their menstrual cycles or volumes – an omission that Bianchi attributes to the fact that ‘the (FDA) emergency use authorization was really focused on critical safety issues” and “changes to your menstrual cycle is really not a life and death issue,’ she said.” • And so–

“Item of Interest: NIH funds studies to assess potential effects of COVID-19 vaccination on menstruation” [National Institutes of Health]. “The National Institutes of Health has awarded one-year supplemental grants totaling $1.67 million to five institutions to explore potential links between COVID-19 vaccination and menstrual changes. Some women have reported experiencing irregular or missing menstrual periods, bleeding that is heavier than usual, and other menstrual changes after receiving COVID-19 vaccines. The new awards support research to determine whether such changes may be linked to COVID-19 vaccination itself and how long the changes last. Researchers also will seek to clarify the mechanisms underlying potential vaccine-related menstrual changes.”

“Gov’t to review cases of menstrual problems after COVID vaccine shots” [Korea Times]. “A growing number of women in Korea are complaining about menstrual problems as well as metrorrhagia, or intermenstrual uterine bleeding, after receiving COVID-19 vaccines. Health authorities pledged to step up monitoring to determine if there is a causal relationship between the health problems and the vaccines. A woman posted a petition on the Cheong Wa Dae website, Tuesday, calling on authorities to include menstruation-related problems as possible side effects of coronavirus vaccines so they can be eligible for government support.”

“Study of 200,000 people shows Covid-19 vaccine ‘zero threat’ to fertility” [National News]. UAE. “Prof Lucy Chappell, an obstetrician at King’s College London, said there was ‘no plausible biological mechanism’ by which the vaccine could affect fertility. ‘When you get the vaccine you develop an antibody to the spike protein, similar to if you had a Covid-19 infection,’ Prof Chappell said. ‘Those antibodies don’t affect your fertility. There have been myths that the proteins are similar, but lots of proteins are similar. It doesn’t mean that the vaccine can impact your fertility.”

“Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection in Pregnancy” (PDF) [The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists]. “Vaccination against COVID-19 is strongly recommended. It should be offered to pregnant women at the same time as the rest of the population, based on age and clinical risk.”

UPDATE “COVID-19: More than 13,000 women report changes to periods after having vaccine but experts say fertility not affected” [Sky News]. [Dr Viki Male, a reproductive immunologist at Imperial College London] said there is no scientific link between the vaccination and fertility issues and warned that women can be more susceptible to problems during pregnancy if they contract COVID-19. She said: ‘We have quite a lot of evidence that these vaccines don’t reduce your chances of getting pregnant. In the clinical trials, people were asked not to become pregnant but nonetheless accidents happen. Across the four vaccines that were approved in the UK, 65 people became pregnant by accident and they became pregnant equally in the vaccinated and the unvaccinated group, which tells us that the vaccine isn’t reducing people’s chances of getting pregnant.’ ‘Now that the vaccines have been more widely rolled out, we also have studies in IVF clinics where they keep a track of how likely you are to become pregnant if you’re vaccinated, compared to if you’re not vaccinated.’ Again, being vaccinated does not reduce your chances of getting pregnant in an IVF setting.’ She added: ‘COVID itself is not without harm, even if you are a young and healthy woman.” • Not sure that n=65 and In Vitro Fertilization studies are all that strong a peg to hang the conclusion on.

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UPDATE “The Wealth Lobby Is Buying Up Democrats to Defeat Biden’s Tax Reform” [Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine]. “But sometimes, naked pecuniary self-interest does come into play. This appears to be one of those times. The Democrats hold a slender majority in Congress and hope to enact an ambitious domestic reform program financed by taxing corporations and the very rich. The latter have unleashed a massive lobbying operation, the target of which is a small band of moderate Democrats in Congress who hold the balance of power. The circumstance has created a massive market demand for lobbyists who can speak to the anxieties of moderate Democrats.” • So vile even Chait can’t stomach it (but isn’t it time to give up that word “moderate”? Wouldn’t, oh, reactionary be better? (Sadly, in the last paragraph Chait shows that he believes Federal taxes fund Federal spending. Baby steps!)

UPDATE “Biden the Realist” [Foreign Affairs]. “Although his predecessor, Donald Trump, gave voice to similar impulses, it is Biden who offers a more coherent version of pragmatic realism—a mode of thought that prizes the advancement of tangible U.S. interests, expects other states to follow their own interests, and changes course to get what the United States needs in a competitive world. If Biden continues to apply this vision, he will deliver a welcome change from decades of overassertive U.S. foreign policy that has squandered lives and resources in pursuit of unachievable goals.” • I dunno. The Blob thirsts for war. And so human sacrifices will be made….

Democrats en Deshabille

Sounds like Buffalo. Or campaign 2020:

UPDATE But everybody loves Joe Manchin:

UPDATE “The ACLU, Prior to COVID, Denounced Mandates and Coercive Measures to Fight Pandemics” [Glenn Greenwald]. “The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) surprised even many of its harshest critics this week when it strongly defended coercive programs and other mandates from the state in the name of fighting COVID. ‘Far from compromising them, vaccine mandates actually further civil liberties,’ its Twitter account announced, adding that ‘vaccine requirements also safeguard those whose work involves regular exposure to the public.’ If you were surprised to see the ACLU heralding the civil liberties imperatives of ‘vaccine mandates’ and ‘vaccine requirements’ — whereby the government coerces adults to inject medicine into their own bodies that they do not want — the New York Times op-ed which the group promoted, written by two of its senior lawyers, was even more extreme. The article begins with this rhetorical question: ‘Do vaccine mandates violate civil liberties?’ Noting that ‘some who have refused vaccination claim as much,’ the ACLU lawyers say: ‘we disagree.’ The op-ed then examines various civil liberties objections to mandates and state coercion — little things like, you know, bodily autonomy and freedom to choose — and the ACLU officials then invoke one authoritarian cliche after the next (‘these rights are not absolute’) to sweep aside such civil liberties concerns….”


UPDATE “Christie steps out of Trump’s shadow — and stokes 2024 buzz” [Politico]. “The former governor is set to deliver a Thursday evening speech at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif. — a traditional waystation for GOP presidential aspirants — as part of a speaker series the organization is hosting that focuses on the future of the Republican Party. The high-profile appearance comes as Christie intensifies his political activities ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, with a book on the way, a new perch helping the GOP raise money, and plans to help the party flip control of the House next year.” • Christie v. Harr– Oh gawd! [covers mouth, runs from room].

UPDATE Clinton-level, and I don’t mean that in a good way:

“Fiery”? Really?

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE Speaking of the collapse of the Soviet Union (1):

Several similar stories in the responses, and I’ve seen the same story elsewhere. And collapse of the Soviet Union (2):

UPDATE “The House Paid Leave Proposal Is Awful” [Matt Bruenig, People’s Policy Project]. The Deck: “If you like the US healthcare system, you’ll love Richard Neal’s new paid leave plan.” Good thing the Mass Dems smeared Morse to keep Neal in office! “For years, Democrats have pitched paid leave as a very simple Social Security program. But in the last few months, Richard Neal has steered the policy in a much different direction. Instead of a unified federal program, the House is now proposing to create a complex hybrid paid leave program that includes employer-provided private paid leave insurance, state paid leave programs, and then a residual federal benefit that is only available to people not covered by an employer or state plan. Under the new proposal, employers are invited to set up their own paid leave programs, which they can either self-fund or contract with a private insurer to run. In order to administer this, every single employer with a paid leave plan will have to register their plan with the Treasury every single year. As part of this registration, they will send a list of every employee that they expect to be covered by the plan each year to the Treasury. In the case of an employer with a third-party insurance plan, the Treasury will pay the employer a cash amount equal to 90 percent of the national average cost of paid leave per employee multiplied by their number of employees, which the employer will then fork over as a premium to a private insurance company. (Bizarrely, Richard Neal has highlighted on his website that one of the private insurance companies that will benefit from this has endorsed his bill.) By including private insurance in this way, the bill ensures that we will waste some of our paid leave money on private insurer overhead and profits. It also invites employers and insurers to profit off of benefit denials and cream-skimming of various sorts. An employer who has a workforce that takes a below-average amount of paid leave could conceivably get an insurance contract that charges less than the grant the Treasury pays them and then pocket the difference. The employer and state plans will also massively complicate the system for individuals trying to take paid leave.” • Absolutely brutal. Remember also, that paid leave is key to getting some of the unvaccinated their jabs — which apparently they will have to keep doing for quite some time.

UPDATE The Venn diagram of people who named their dogs after Robert Mueller and people who bought this religious amulet is a circle:

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits declined to a new pandemic low of 310 thousand in the week ending September 4th and less than market forecasts of 335 thousand. The reading continues to point to a continued recovery in the world’s largest economy, helped by business reopenings and the start of the school year and in spite of risks posed by the ongoing COVID-19 resurgence and labor supply shortages. Also, it is the last reading before the September 6th expiration of enhanced unemployment benefits including a $300 weekly supplement to regular state benefits from government pandemic aid. ”

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Commodities: “U.S. oil and gas production is still staggering nearly 10 days after Hurricane Ida tore through Louisiana. Nearly 80% of U.S. production in the Gulf of Mexico remains offline…while oil and gas processing plants and other key onshore facilities try to recover from damage and the loss of power that has limited output” [Wall Street Journal]. “Operators have restored about 300,000 barrels of daily oil production, but most remains shut off. The impact on broader energy markets has been muted so far, but some of the country’s largest refineries remain offline and extended delivery delays could eat into inventories. The Port of New Orleans resumed full operations that include container and bulk handling only this week even as energy facilities were still struggling to recover. In total, Ida has kept about 20 million barrels of oil off the market, according to S&P Global Platts Analytics.”

Shipping: “Trucking companies may find out soon if they can recruit more long-haul drivers by getting them behind the wheel younger. Proposed legislation in Congress would test letting people as young as 18 years old drive big rigs across state lines, but…the plan is drawing fierce criticism and exposing a divide in the trucking sector” [Wall Street Journal]. “Opponents and researchers say the provision in the infrastructure bill awaiting action in the U.S. House misses the point of hiring problems facing the big fleets. They say there is no shortage of recruits to the business, but that many drivers quit because of the grueling work and extended time away from home. The difficulty in hiring and keeping drivers has only gotten worse during the pandemic, effectively putting a ceiling on capacity growth and leaving truckers and shippers looking for solutions.” • Come on, man. The infrastructure bill? Really?

Shipping: “Deja vu as container ship runs aground in Suez Canal but is quickly refloated” [Metro UK]. • Third time is the charm!

The Bezzle: “U.S. markets regulator takes aim at Coinbase lending product” [Reuters]. “The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has told Coinbase Global Inc (COIN.O) that it plans to sue the cryptocurrency exchange if it goes ahead with plans to launch a programme allowing users to earn interest by lending digital assets, Coinbase said. The top U.S. markets regulator last week told Coinbase it intends to legally charge the company, Coinbase’s chief legal officer, Paul Grewal, said a statement on Tuesday, noting that the firm now plans to delay the launch of its ‘Lend’ product until at least October. An SEC spokesperson declined to comment. In a lengthy Twitter thread, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong criticized the agency’s handling of the firm’s plans to roll out a lending product the SEC has determined to be a security and said the agency had denied him a meeting. Both the CEO and chief legal officer said Coinbase disputes the SEC’s determination, saying ‘Lend’ is not an investment contract or note. The executive’s remarks provide a glimpse into the rising tension between the crypto industry and regulators, which have been ratcheting up scrutiny of a world that has so far existed in a regulatory gray area.”

Tech: “Apple’s Child Sex-Abuse Tool Is Too Clever for Its Own Good” [Bloomberg]. “Apple should probably recognize that anything designed to examine the personal contents of people’s phones is a lost cause… [T]he company should instead just copy the practices of its main technology rivals. Facebook Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Microsoft Corp. scan for CSAM photos after they’re uploaded. It’s not a perfect solution. Apple would need to look through more photos instead of a small subset. But it is easier for users to accept the idea that images sent for storage on the internet may get examined for illegal content. Sometimes companies can be too clever for their own good. The sooner Apple realizes this public relations battle is unwinnable, the better. Otherwise, fear of corporate surveillance may dominate the conversation surrounding iPhones for a long time.” • Maybe Apple could just eliminate local storage altogether and store everything in the cloud. I bet they’d love that, not least because they could charge the same for devices while leaving out parts.



Supply Chain: “Shipping disruptions are triggering greater stresses at the source of many supply chains. Some Chinese exporters say they are rejecting orders and limiting production as delays at ports stretch out payment terms and create cash-flow problems” [Wall Street Journal]. “The South China Morning Post reports that the manufacturers are seeing inventories stack up because of coronavirus-related lockdowns that have slowed handling at China’s big ports. That is fracturing long-established structures of orders and payments, adding to financial woes at small and medium-size manufacturers as they cope with higher raw materials costs. China’s exports have remained robust even during the recent shipping slowdowns, including a 25.6% surge in outbound shipments in August. But measures of factory activity are slipping, which could mean fewer goods heading into global supply chains in coming months.:”

The Economy: “How I reluctantly became an inflation crank” [Full Stack Economics]. “This summer I stayed at a hotel from a well-known brand in an upscale suburb. The breakfast was comically unimpressive: little more than some individual cereal boxes, a limited assortment of poorly-cooled beverages, and paper dishware. And I could tell that it hadn’t always been that way: the room was large and had obviously been designed to host a more impressive spread in the days before COVID-19. This put me into thought. Not self-pity—the Raisin Bran was fine, and I was happy to cut the hotel some slack. No, I was thinking about how economists measure production, and how these pandemic-induced degradations in quality are likely not fully reflected in our economic statistics.” Economists are missing crapification! More: “When a new product replaces an old one, changes in price might reflect quality differences rather than customers getting more or less for their money. Therefore, agencies like the BLS need quality adjustments to calculate the true rate of inflation. This is trickier than it sounds….. For example, a BLS primer on a method for computing auto price inflation includes a stylized example comparing 2013 and 2014 versions of the same car model…. Cars are, however, the easy example. There aren’t very many car models, and their features are clearly defined and well-documented…. Now consider the market for hair care services. There are thousands of places to get a haircut. Some places have nicer furnishings than others, some workers are more talented than others, and a variety of extras might be included for free⁠—or not. To systematically adjust for haircut quality, BLS might have to send out thousands of employees to salons around the country—a preposterously expensive project. Even if it did that, it’s not obvious how to objectively measure whether one establishment delivered a more enjoyable experience or a more stylish result than another.” So hedonic adjustment doesn’t adjust very well? More: “Now we’re likely facing the same problem, but in the opposite direction: many products are getting worse as a result of the pandemic. But the BLS doesn’t have the manpower—or in some cases even the conceptual framework—to fully capture all of these changes in its inflation measurements.” • Very interesting and readable piece.

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 47 Neutral (previous close: 49 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 56 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 9 at 12:38pm.

The Biosphere

“Success! Mars rover finally collects its first rock core” [Nature]. “When the rover first attempted the manoeuvre, on 6 August, the rock it was trying to sample crumbled into powder before making it into a sample tube. The second attempt, on 1 September at a different location several hundred metres away, went smoothly: the drill bit pulled a slim cylinder out of a 70-centimetre-long rock named Rochette. Engineers then paused the process so that they could photograph the core in its sample tube, to ensure it was intact, before sealing the specimen inside days later, on 6 September…. .The core from Rochette now rests in Perseverance’s belly, hermetically sealed and ready to wait many years until future spacecraft can retrieve it and any other cores the rover manages to collect. The goal is to gather about 35 cores representing the geological history of Jezero Crater, Perseverance’s landing site — which was home to a river delta billions of years ago and might contain evidence of ancient Martian life.”

Health Care

Testing in schools sounds like a good idea:

To its credit, CDC mentions testing multiple times in the “Key Takeaways” section of “Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools.” So where was the messaging to prepare schools for this? Perhaps because August 5 is a little late to organize the school year, the message didn’t penetrate.

“School Districts Flout CDC Safety Reopening Guidelines” [US News and World Report]. “For all the criticism heaped upon the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the government’s top public health officials have been clear about how school leaders can return students to classrooms safely – by deploying a series of risk-mitigation strategies, one layered upon the other.” • That is certainly not the messaging deployed to the mainstream. But: “Among 100 large and urban school systems, including the 30 largest in the country, 66% required masks for at least some and 68% had policies on contact tracing, according to the Center for Reinventing Public Education, an education organization that’s been tracking how school districts are operating since the onset of the pandemic. But only 10% required vaccinations for school staff and just 18% required testing.” And to be fair to the Administration: “[Education Secretary Miguel Cardona] for his part, has been criss-crossing the country, attending vaccine drives for students and their families, joining students for their first day of school and taking to the airwaves to sell the CDC’s safety recommendations.” Enter coercion: “Now, Cardona says he’ll use the department’s Office for Civil Rights to investigate states that “infringe on the rights of every student to access public education equally” – a new use of the civil rights office that some say should extend to school districts that aren’t providing safe environments for children in line with CDC guidance.” • But “the 30 largest in the country” would certainly include some Blue cities (so perhaps we should be denying those school boards and adminstrators hospital beds). So what’s up with that? The first relevant hit from “Miguel Cardona” “vaccine drives” in Google links to an event on May 17, the second to August 20, and the third from August 25. If indeed Cardona is criss-crossing the country, he’s not making the news. Here are Cardona’s tweets on testing. It looks to me like the push for testing started in late August, because that’s the first tweet on marketing collateral). Perhaps I should look into all this. Readers, any reports from the field?

“COVID-19 Testing to Sustain In-Person Instruction and Extracurricular Activities in High Schools — Utah, November 2020–March 2021” [Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, CDC]. From the Abstract: “Utah implemented two high school COVID-19 testing programs to sustain in-person instruction and extracurricular activities. During November 30, 2020–March 20, 2021, among 59,552 students who received testing, 1,886 (3.2%) had a positive result. These programs facilitated the completion of approximately 95% of high school extracurricular competition events and saved an estimated 109,752 in-person instruction student-days. School-based COVID-19 testing should be considered part of a comprehensive prevention strategy to identify SARS-CoV-2 infections in schools and sustain in-person instruction and extracurricular activities.”

“COVID Complicates Back-to-School Lunch Plans for NYC Students” [The City]. “Experts warn that lunchtime could be the riskiest part of the school day — when masks come off, guards are let down, and students are chatting away, letting forth aerosols inside rooms that might not have space for physical distancing. Though New York City has said students should be kept three feet apart, the guidance gives schools leeway, stating that should be done ‘where possible.’ That leaves the door open for school-by-school approaches. With the first day of class rapidly approaching, many parents and school staff are nervous about keeping students safe while eating together.”

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“Lessons From the Ivermectin Debacle” [RealClearScience (Sardonia)]. “Yet again, this pandemic has reminded us that science’s attempts to describe reality are fraught with uncertainty. Our greatest gift, when confronted with uncertainty, is to recall that none of us really know the truth. Real intellectual humility in science – not the ‘I’m humbled to be named coach of this great football program’ variety of humility, but truly questioning whether we know what we think we know, and choosing to update our pre-conceived notions regularly — is the smoothest path to advancing medical science. It’s dearly needed now.” • This is an excellent, balanced, lucid review of the bidding. Well worth a read.

Propagation begins:

Then again, perhaps liberals have learned something from the Dr. Jason McElyea debacle:

But it’s not bait. The study was originally propagated by Trisha Greenhalgh who, shockingly, bought into the horse paste lie, and is apparently now looking for a new horse to back.

“Stop Death Shaming” [The Atlantic]. “So what would persuade the unvaccinated? A recent iteration of the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey asked unvaccinated Americans about their reasons for putting off or refusing vaccination against COVID-19, and allowed them to select more than one option, resulting in a set of ranked concerns for COVID-vaccine skeptics. Just more than half of the respondents listed the potential side effects of the vaccines as a major concern. Perhaps they’ve been paying attention to the news. The New York Times recently reported that myocarditis, inflammation of the heart muscle, is more common after COVID-19 vaccination; likewise, NPR featured a story earlier this month on university researchers looking into thousands of claims of menstrual changes following vaccination, and two days later Reuters ran a news article noting that European regulators were probing a skin rash and a pair of kidney disorders as possible side effects of the vaccines. None of these potential side effects has yet been verified by rigorous research. I think the vaccines are worth the slate of (what appear to me to be) relatively minor known risks (particularly when weighed against the risks of severe complications from getting COVID-19), and I haven’t had any sort of trouble since my Pfizer shots, which I got back in April—but that set of concerns is at least distinct from the total recalcitrance sometimes imputed to the unvaccinated. Down the list we go: Nearly four in 10 unvaccinated Americans don’t trust the vaccines, which might be an expression of concern about either efficacy or side effects; a similar proportion want to wait and see whether they’re safe, which, again, is a deflatingly concrete concern, if not the decision I would (and did) make in the same situation. A third don’t trust the government (brothers and sisters: same here), and only then do we arrive at the just less than a quarter who don’t believe they personally need a vaccine. A rung down, after the 22 percent who aren’t sure that the vaccines are actually protective, are another 17 percent who don’t see COVID-19 as a major threat—a fairly small minority, all things considered. What strikes me about the responses of the unvaccinated—as opposed to the tempting caricature presented by their worst representatives in pulpits and politics—is that there does seem to be significant willingness to consider vaccination, though I doubt that persuasion lies in lurid accounts of death or allegations that that the unvaccinated themselves are guilty of killing those who end up infected.” • Perhaps persuasion is not really the goal?

Our Famously Free Press


Screening Room

Since the Dune hype has begun we might as well inoculate ourselves:

“Denis Villeneuve has produced the first great ‘Dune” adaptation’ [The Economist]. “It is also refreshing to see a serious piece of science fiction on screen. Without being humourless, “Dune” is a sincere work which doesn’t undercut itself with irony, as is fashionable in many genre films today. The ecological and political themes of Mr Herbert’s book are retained: it is revealed that the planet is kept in a ruinous state so that the natural resources can more easily be exploited. The powerful families come and go from Dune while the indigenous peoples—the Fremen—have been oppressed by all, and are in danger of extermination.” • Villeneuve also directed Blade Runner 2049, which I preferred to the original, because I thought that world was more like Philip K. Dick’s original. Also, the first scene is chilling.

“Denis Villeneuve’s ‘Dune’ is a transporting vision, but it could use a touch more madness” [Los Angeles Times]. “To call this “Dune” a remarkably lucid work is to praise it with very faint damnation.”

“Denis Villeneuve’s Take on Dune Is an Admirably Understated Sci-Fi Spectacle” [Time]. “To call Denis Villeneuve’s science-fiction extravaganza Dune a good example of its type of thing is probably damning it with fainter praise than it deserves.”

“Venice Film Festival: ‘Dune’ Leaves Us With 3 Big Questions” [New York Times]. “It’s something dreamier and weirder, a movie that straddles the line between auteurist art-film and studio blockbuster so provocatively that even after watching it, I can’t quite predict how “Dune” will fare when it comes out in theaters (and on HBO Max) on Oct. 22. When I left my screening, the first critic I spoke to was totally besotted. The second fled the theater as if Villeneuve had planted a bomb there. Still, after a decade of Marvel movies made with high-level craftsmanship but few formal risks, it’s bracing to get a movie of this scale that takes such big artistic swings.”

“‘Dune’ Review: Denis Villeneuve’s Epic Spice Opera Is a Massive Disappointment” [IndieWire]. “Fear not: The sandworms do come. They are big and bristly and they’re responsible for the only scene in which the film’s biblical drone is enlivened by even the tiniest dollop of dramatic tension. Villeneuve is in love with the scale of these subterranean beasties, each of which is half as long as the R.M.S. Titanic, and he frames them with such palpable awe that you almost expect the ‘Jurassic Park’ theme to play every time they rear their butthole heads. But one look at the sandworms is enough to rob them of their mystery. They’re soon reduced to sound and earthquakes, signifying nothing but your growing desire to be watching “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind” instead. And that literalness, or at least that abject lack of associative thought, is what damns this “Dune” beyond salvation. Here is a film consumed by dreams from even before the moment it starts (you’ll see what I mean), but also one so arch and full of empty spectacle that it keeps your imagination on a tight leash, which grows all the more enervating as Paul and his mother find themselves being chased through the desert by sandworms in the final act.” • What I noticed in the trailer was not a scrap of Herbert’s original dialog. And Herbert’s dialog is very good.

“Dune” [Rotten Tomatoes]. 88%. Critics consensus: “Dune occasionally struggles with its unwieldy source material, but those issues are largely overshadowed by the scope and ambition of this visually thrilling adaptation.” • I’m wondering if “visually thrilling” translates to “weak characters.” Hard to imagine that, since Herbert gave Villeneuve such strong material, but stranger things have happened.

Household Tips

Good advice for Louisiana:

A generator doesn’t move you that far off the grid, does it?

Book Nook

I had no idea Thomas Pynchon was a “high WASP” (double entrendre intended?). Makes me identify with him more:

(Bachrach is another old-school blogger, so he should know.) Here’s a link to the Trillbillie’s podcast. And I suppose I have to pick up a copy of Pynchon’s 2013 Bleeding Edge… Another book to read, dammit. Any reviews from readers? (I feel, as did Twain with Wagner, that Pynchon’s writing is better than it reads.)

Groves of Academe

I missed the “May” part at first reading. But yes:

I wonder how many professors are “visiting” from their RVs, campsites, or Walmart parking lots.

Imperial Collapse Watch

And so it begins:

“Come on. We need the water. Do you want us to just take it?”

Class Warfare

UPDATE “The economic gains from equity” [Brookings Institution]. “Then, in The economic gains from equity, they conducted a thought experiment, asking: “How much larger would the U.S. economic pie be if opportunities and outcomes were more equally distributed by race and ethnicity?” Their answer is $22.9 trillion over the 30-year period. ‘The persistence of systemic disparities is costly, and eliminating them has the potential to produce large economic gains,’ the authors write. Standard economic models often assume markets work efficiently and thus suggest explanations—such as unmeasured differences in productivity or cultural differences—that would support the existence and persistence of racial and ethnic gaps. The authors instead assume talent and job and educational preferences are distributed evenly across race and ethnicity. They then show the economic effects of disparities that hold people back from fully realizing their potential.” • How odd that, for liberals, “equity” never, ever includes class.

News of the Wired

And yet, for millenia….

Without satellites, we’d have to revert to paper maps. Reason enough to surround the Earth with space junk and ruin the night sky. Tang wasn’t worth it, either.

We do volume with the knobs set to eleven:

* * *

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 (johnnyme):

johnnyme writes: “Would this be counted as a breakthrough case?”

* * *

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Samuel Conner

    A year ago a neighbor, chatting with me from a relatively (for the time) safe physical distance, mentioned that it felt like we were living inside a science fiction movie.

    I wonder when the film adaptations of the US public health calamity 2020-2? will begin appearing.

    Me thinks that there is a lot of material here. It could be fictionalized — a “based on historical events” sci-fi spectacle.

    There’s plenty of science fiction being promoted in media already; one could pick and choose and monetize it.

    1. MonkeyBusiness

      It’s been a year, and it’s still hard for me to tell if a movie was made before the pandemic or after. Tom Cruise is currently filming Mission Impossible 7, and I have a feeling not a single mask will be seen in the movie.

      1. John Beech

        Seeing a mask in a movie will age as well as showing off an iPhone 3GS with it’s black knock out surrounding the camera and home buttons. Not only is it a dead giveaway dating the production, but a source of mirth regarding the thrall producers were in back in 2009. E.g. to fall over themselves to do Apple’s bidding in exchange for a bauble. One, with which to exclude the unwashed whilst making them feel superior to the have-nots. Not just a joke, but a sad one.

      1. The Rev Kev

        If it was a doco, you could have a counter at the bottom corner of the screen showing the number of people who died while going through the history of this pandemic. I remember when it was a big thing when the number of people died was the same as the number of soldiers who died in Vietnam. Hell, I remember when only about 1,000 Americans had died.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > No one could write the comedy which includes the tragedy of the Covid deaths.

        It would need to be a black comedy, like Rhinoceros or Sweeney Todd. Or perhaps zombie movies.

      3. Steve H.

        The “All’s Well That Ends Well” we performed (outdoors) last night has a heroine who tricks a Count into making a baby, and his mother the Countess and the King and Everybody laud her as he crumples to the ground crying over his forced marriage.

        “All’s Well That Ends Well” is based on a story-in-a-story from Boccachio’s Decameron, where the storytellers were amusing themselves in the country after fleeing the Plague in the city. There are more dead people in the play than live.

        As President Roslin said, “we need to start having babies.”

        There’s a marriage & no murders, thus a comedy.

        (Our theme line for the play came from Eva Kor, responding to her leading a dance on the sorting stage at Auschwitz, where she last saw her parents as a child: “This is where we take our joy back.”)

        1. eg

          In Grad school eons ago I’m pretty sure this text was on the syllabus of a course called “Shakespeare’s Problem Plays” because it doesn’t fit either the comedy nor tragedy categories very comfortably.


          1. Steve H.

            First English use of ‘pedant’ root:

            Taffeta phrases, silken terms precise,
            Three-pil’d hyperboles, spruce affection,
            Figures pedantical—

            Love’s Labors Lost, Act 5 Sc 2

    2. clarky90

      Re “Study of 200,000 people shows Covid-19 vaccine ‘zero threat’ to fertility” ….

      “………Finally, Eichmann would appear before a gathering of the entire ghetto. Accompanied by an entourage of no more than thirty local men and officers of his own—many unarmed—he addressed the crowd in a strong, clear voice. According to sworn statements, these were very likely his exact words:

      “Juden: At last, it can be reported to you that the Russians are advancing on our eastern front. I apologize for the hasty way we brought you into our protection. Unfortunately, there was little time to explain. You have nothing to worry about. We want only the best for you. You will leave here shortly and be sent to very fine places indeed……….”


      The answer…… lie to them….

  2. Laughingsong

    “ “‘Dune’ Review: Denis Villeneuve’s Epic Spice Opera Is a Massive Disappointment” [IndieWire]. • What I noticed in the trailer was not a scrap of Herbert’s original dialog. And Herbert’s dialog is very good”

    One of the things I liked best about Jackson’s LOTR adaptation was how the writers lifted whole passages of prose from Tolkien for dialogue, which is also very good (I do realize that these passages were not necessarily spoken-or sung-in the same places or by the same characters). So agreed, would be really good to hear original dialogue.

    To your point about weak characters: I can’t imagine Villeneuve doing any worse than the 80s debacle of “The Flying Fat Man” and Sting as Feyd-Rautha ffs.

    Great plantidote!

    1. scarnoc

      Getting high and watching Lynch’s Dune was one of the highlights of my teen years. Bad movie in the best way.

      1. Laughingsong

        No way man, I still can’t unsee that gold baroque speedo-thing that Sting was wearing coming out of the sauna. And the heart plugs? Come on, man!

    2. hamstak

      I, for one, appreciated Lynch’s Dune — but I also appreciate lo-budget 60s Italian sci-fi, so perhaps I am not the best judge.

      Still, it should have been Jodorowsky!

      1. Soredemos

        Jodorowsky’s version of Dune was almost certainly a classic case of a director making outlandish promises he could never fulfill. It’s easy to get a bunch of people together to draw cool concept art and to make all these epic plans in your mind, but eventually it has to actually be turned into something real. That’s what producers are for, and as hated as they often are, part of their job is to translate a director’s ambition into something actually practical.

        Aside from budget concerns, his ambitions would have far outstripped the capabilities of the special effects technology of the era. Jackson’s Lord of the Rings essentially heralded the start of truly good film CGI, and twenty years on from that we’re finally at a place where something like Dune can be done true justice.

        That’s on top of the fact that whatever Jodorowsky was making, it wasn’t Dune. It was something that started as Frank Herbert’s work, but then Jodorowsky went to town on it, mutating it into something that serviced his ego and interests. He wanted stuff like ‘spice pirates’ and Paul to be immaculately conceived. Do these things work, or even make sense, in Herbert’s Dune? No, but Jodorowsky wasn’t actually interested in a true adaptation. Dune was something for him to ‘rape with love’ (his words, not mine).

        I think the world is better off for Jodorowsky’s Dune never having been made, because the pre-production created professional connections that most notably led to the original Alien. Some of Jodorowky’s ideas would later be recycled into his Incal comic, where they worked much better in an original story.

        1. ilpalazzo

          I think it is really important to stress the role Jean Giraud aka Moebius played in the whole endeavor. I’m a big fan of his work, own most of his books including artbooks and came to the conclusion that his drawing and design are key influences on the way we imagine how futuristic landscapes look. The importance of design work done for Jodorovsky’s Dune cannot be overstated.

    3. Pat

      My first instinct is that I would believe a nation of deadly experienced fighters following Kyle McLachlan a lot more than Timothee Chalamet.

      I realize it is spiritual as well as strategic leadership but Chalamet looks like a good breeze would topple him

    4. neo-realist

      I thought the flying fat man-Baron Harkonnen-was one of the few amusing characters and bright spots from the Lynch film–and a possible AIDS allegory (not saying that AIDS is a good thing). However, Sting’s wooden performance was painful to watch.

  3. QuicksilverMessenger

    I think we don’t even need to see Dune to know that it will be full of over-powering bombastic sonic assault, populated by characters dressed in very armored and menacing Game of Thrones-in-space costumes (so dark!), super Xtreme! “action” sequences, giant CGI set pieces, etc. in other words, another modern ‘movie’, or as the reviewer from the IndieWire piece writes, empty spectacle signifying nothing.
    I will of course watch it :)

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > over-powering bombastic sonic assault etc.

      Villeneuve’s Bladerunner 2049 was not like that at all; much more quiet than the original, set in a bleak, wintry world. One wonders what he will do with sand rather than snow.

      1. QuicksilverMessenger

        I watched the trailer a couple of times (the three minute one) and within the first 4o seconds lots of very loud exploding fire balls with crescendoing symphonic score. But what really caught me from the IndieWire report was this line:

        “That “Star Wars” and its blockbuster ilk have burned Herbert’s sci-fi tropes into the collective unconscious should be an opportunity for a 21st century film like this, not an excuse. And yet Villeneuve’s only move is to crank up the volume until the distortion makes it sound like you’re experiencing something new, a tactic that has its upsides (e.g. the Bene Gesserit’s voice seems like it’s coming from inside your soul), but also leads Hans Zimmer to fall back on the ethnographic wailing of his “Gladiator”-era scores”.

        I would love to see a movie with much more silence, much more space, but it seems the tendency is to fill everything up, attack us, to give us no time to digest any impressions. Is this saying something about the zeitgeist?

        1. ambrit

          There is a fight scene in a bar in an, I believe, French film where there are no sound effects. A silent fight scares the H— out of you. Your mind fills in the blanks, as it were.
          I echo your wish.

        2. Soredemos

          Yes, that’s how modern trailers are. But we have no ability to know how the final film sounds until we actually see it. Villeneuve has a long record of making movies that very much are not loud action spectacle, so I’m having a hard time accepting IndieWire’s verdict.

          From the sound of it though, I think you’d really appreciate Mamoru Oshii’s movies:




      2. jr

        “ One wonders what he will do with sand rather than snow.”

        I’m sure the film’s atmosphere is pretty gritty.

        I’ll leave now.

    2. Kurtismayfield

      Watch “The Arrival”

      Yes there is a lot of audio ups and downs.. mostly because the communication is non verbal. However it was very well done, no action sequences at all.. and Villeneuve directed it.

  4. lyman alpha blob

    I was poking around in a dusty old used bookstore recently and found an essay from Voltaire on smallpox inoculation. After today’s earlier discussion of the rona vaccine mandates and early 20th century smallpox vaccination mandates in links, I thought this might be of historical interest – Letter on Inoculation with Smallpox.

    Not a medical historian so maybe IM Doc can correct me if this is mistaken, but based on Voltaire’s take, the practice didn’t develop in the West by scientists, but as a form of folk medicine through empirical trials. Lots of snobbery about it at the time – evidently for some Europeans, inoculation was the “horse paste” of the 18th century. I’m sure Dr. “The Science” Fauci would have disapproved had he been alive.

    Also interesting is the supposed rationale – without inoculation smallpox could kill or disfigure young women whose parents were planning on selling them into harems. I wonder if some of the women would have rather had smallpox…

    1. jr

      Years ago in school I learned that it was slaves who introduced the practice to the West but this article indicates it was in use in the Near East as well. According to Wiki, the Chinese were doing it a long time too:


      “ I had from a servant of my own an account of its being practised in Africa. Enquiring of my Negro man, Onesimus, who is a pretty intelligent fellow” -Cotton Mather

    2. Gareth

      Several years ago, I was browsing a digital archive of newspapers from the 1770s to the 1790s and came across a few classified ads related to smallpox inoculation. One was for a doctor who was setting up shop after receiving training for it in Europe. The other two were for the same doctor. In the first, he was notifying residents that he was moving to another town, but that he would stop by periodically to offer inoculation. In the second, he apologized for considering leaving and stated that the residents had convinced him to stay. America had at least 125 years of experience with smallpox inoculation and vaccination before the court’s decision in 1905.

      1. Gareth

        I checked to see if I could link to those, but it is subscription only. Thankfully, LOC has a page from the Gazette of the United States in New York from 1789. In the middle column, there is a brief mention of a British doctor successfully applying the same techniques used to inoculate against smallpox to horses for one of their illnesses.

      2. begob

        Good review of the anti-vaccination case around 1800 – “The Creator stamped on man the divine image, but Jenner placed on him the mark of the beast”: https://publicdomainreview.org/essay/the-mark-of-the-beast-georgian-britains-anti-vaxxer-movement

        The same debate applied to the earlier practice of variolation, which is what Voltaire discusses – infection with a mild form of actual smallpox, rather than cowpox. Cotton Mather and the Puritans were in favour, relying on an unusually enlightened take on providence.

        Vaccination with cowpox was actually first practised by Benjamin Jesty, a farmer and citizen scientist, whose observations seemed to confirm folk wisdom about the immunity of milk maids:

        Some years before this [1805-7] he had lived at a farm in the neighbourhood of Cerne, in this County, (Dorset), and there he first practised vaccination on his own children. Fever ran high with his patients, and he called in Mr. Trowbridge the medical man at Cerne, (whom I full well remember in later years when he lived near that place,) and told him what he had done. Trowbridge said, “you have done a bold thing, but I will get you through it if I can” — treated it as fever and was successful. I should have said that old Jesty not being equipped with a lancet, performed the operation with a stocking needle!!

    3. IM Doc

      I would really need to dig deep into this article but the smallpox immunization has been around for centuries. Jenner was the first to do it with vaccination. The process before this was called variolation and my guess is that what is being referred to here.

      I will just say it took practice and apprenticeship to do the procedure correctly. One false move and well you could actually start an outbreak.

      They had gotten pretty good at it by the mid to late 1700s and this was ordered to be done on the troops by Washington in some battles.

  5. jr

    Re: Dune

    “ I’m wondering if “visually thrilling” translates to “weak characters.”

    Nailed it. I would add weak writing. Anytime I hear “visually thrilling” in regards to a movie my hackles go up. There seems to be an inverse relationship between the quality of the CG and the writing in a lot of films.

    I would prefer books like Dune and the Hobbit/LoTR to be animated. Animation, for me, makes it easier to suspend disbelief. I’ll take the animated “The Hobbit” over the live version, which is obviously designed to promote video games, any day of the week. Whenever (almost) you see an action/sci fi/fantasy movie with lots of jumping, like the stupid golden forge chase scene in the latest Hobbit, that’s setting the viewer up to do it themselves in the game. Story be d@mn€d.

      1. jr

        I stand corrected. I have seen that “setup” in the Star Wars movies, the middle ones, and I assumed that there was a video game version of the Hobbit drawing from the movies. But in a way it’s worse: they had no reason at all to include that dumb chase scene. Smaug the Golden didn’t get that name from taking a dip in molten gold. If you need to fluff the encounter between Smaug and Bilbo you should take another creative writing class. (Not you of course.)

        1. Basil Pesto

          Yeah, I think the scene you’re referring to is in Attack of the Clones. There are heaps of Star Wars games of course, but only one explicit tie in with AotC which wasn’t on any of the major home consoles of the time – it wasn’t a big game (literally – Game Boy Advance was a tiny handheld) – though it does include a level of the scene I think we’re talking about. But I really don’t think that scene was included to drive the game. It was just a silly action sequence. Game designers can be pretty creative people and don’t really need to lift wholesale from movies like that (they are far happier to take from franchise ‘canon’, broadly speaking. for example, while there was no Hobbit game, there have recently been some ‘Middle Earth’ games which dip into the wider Tolkien lore without the crutch of being shackled to any one particular existing story) and we’re long past the days of rushed, hacky licensed “game of the movie” tie-ins.

          I don’t think there’s a Dune game in the works right now. There have been a few in the past. The most notable as a game was Westwood’s Dune II from 1992, which is a strategy game.

      2. Greg

        Pretty sure causation runs the other way with most games still – they get made based on movies that look fun to act out. The built-from-start marketing vehicle tie-in games are almost all complete flops.

        Personally my hackles get raised by the stupid rollercoaster-designed elements in action movies, where characters get rushed through on rails (whether literal or otherwise) past a lot of explodey whatever, and it adds nothing to the movie. But I’m sure the themeparks make bank.

      3. jr

        My original response got Sky-nuked:

        I stand corrected, I assumed there was a game being made. However, in a way it’s worse that they included that dumb chase scene with Smaug and the dwarves…they had no real reason at all apparently.

      4. Dan

        There’s a pretty great Hobbit pinball game tie-in though. I played it recently at the Pacific Pinball Museum in Alameda, CA!

  6. TBellT

    If Liz had some magic argument that persuaded people she would be writing that article, but she’s not because there is none.

    Literally the article ends with her uncle not actually getting the vaccine, just saying he is considering it, maybe to just get her to stop pestering him. Call me when you find an argument that actually works for people.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > If Liz had some magic argument that persuaded people she would be writing that article, but she’s not because there is none.

      There are no magic arguments to be had in any context. That’s not how argument works (except perhaps in tribalism and religion, where it is sufficient to appeal to shibboleths; but there the emphasis is on “magic” not “argument”).

      > Literally the article ends with her uncle not actually getting the vaccine, just saying he is considering it, maybe to just get her to stop pestering him. Call me when you find an argument that actually works for people.

      Her problem statement:

      Still, it’s worth considering what an honest persuasion effort aimed at the unvaccinated or vaccine-hesitant would look like, even if we may never see the population-level vaccine uptake that we’d like to. Good-faith persuasion is a matter of discipline and habit; it’s not something that comes naturally.

      She modeled respectful argument, which is her problem statement. It may be that for her Uncle, the message needs to come from a pastor or a doctor, say.

      In any case, you can wake up now: “Dorothy Oliver succeeds in getting 94% of Alabama town vaccinated“:
      Oliver says that when she does her in-person visits to residents of the community that she simply just asks nicely for the residents to sign up for the vaccine.

      “I just be nice to them,” she said. “I don’t go at them saying, ‘You gotta do that.’”

      In the documentary, Oliver, who owns a general store in town, drives to the residence of a young man named LaDenzel Colvin in an effort to persuade him to get vaccinated. Colvin is asked if he has gotten his shot.

      “I just really haven’t made my mind up to take it for real,” Colvin said.

      Colvin, who says that he had COVID-19 at one point, has concerns due to stories of people having adverse reactions and side effects.

      “I have heard of people saying that they get sick,” Colvin told Oliver.

      By the end of the conversation, Oliver had effectively managed to convince Colvin to sign up for his vaccine. Once at the pop-up site, Colvin was allowed to remain in his car, roll his window down and roll up his sleeve. The shot administrator administered his vaccine in a matter of seconds. He was told to take Tylenol if there was any pain or discomfort afterward.

      “I’m not afraid of a shot,” Colvin told Oliver with a smile.

      Just by having one-on-one informative dialogue with the residents in the community and by using her charm, Oliver has managed to get almost everyone in her town vaccinated.

      “Listen to Black women” does not, apparently, apply in this case. I’m shocked.

      1. TBellT

        Her article was clearly aimed at the media figures though. Building a months long trusted personal relationship with a town is not something the media, mainstream social or otherwise, can/will do.

  7. Robert Hahl

    “People were really calling up a pizzeria like ‘I want a large pizza delivered in 30 minutes. I’m going to give you a house number, and a random street name. Good fucking luck.'”

    No it didn’t work like that since 99% of the calls were real, but if an address was fake, I could usually sell the pie to kids playing in the streets, or just take it back to the shop to be reheated for the next customer.

    Except that one time when the hot box slid forward off the back seat due to a hard stop, tipped 90 degrees, and hit the floor. I quickly reached back and righted the box; and didn’t stop to think what that would do (five second rule), and just put the unopened pizza box on the oven to await reheating. About 10 minutes later I heard a lot of cursing in Italian that I had never heard before.

  8. madarka

    Re: vaccines and menstruation.

    Two shots of the sinovac vaccine retarded my period for about 8-10 days (I’m pretty regular, so it was surprising), no further effects. I took a shot of pfizer as a booster and had no side effects. So it seems to be the covid vaccines in general, not just mRNA ones.

  9. Dr. John Carpenter

    Perhaps someone should remind the Twit up there that “firey” VP Harris flamed out on campaign 2020 before one vote was cast, despite a lot of help from her friends. Yes, the KHive exists, but she has zero appeal outside and they’re always going to be a loud minority at best.

    And Christie v Harris…urp! You owe me a new facemask.

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        A little doxycycline will clear that right up. And you can get it at petco (hint: look by the fish).

      2. Dr. John Carpenter

        Now that you mention it, I do seem to recall her having a moment during the 2020 primary where she got a little spicy towards another candidate. Something about bussing and “I was that girl.” I wonder whatever happened to the poor schmuck on the receiving end of that?

  10. Eloined

    Is it fair to assume ramped-up school testing is an idea that Scott Gottlieb, new (2/6/20) director of multi-headed testing giant Illumina, would be championing regardless of its worth?

  11. David

    Question for our Covid brains trust.
    I’ve been following as best I can the discussions about the progress of the disease in the US, but of course there’s the rest of the world as well. In many European countries, the number of cases is flat or falling. I have the French figures here, and they say that just under 11,000 cases were reported yesterday, which is at the low end of the bracket for the last month or so: that in a country of sole 65 million people. The vast majority were of the Delta variant. The R0 indicator nationally is at 0,79. This is in spite of the holiday season just concluded, the return to school and the re-opening of universities. There is a sense that the worst may be over.
    So we seem to be surviving, if not necessarily prospering. The wearing of masks indoors, in train stations, in shops and on buses is generally respected and enforced, and the Health Pass seems to be working OK, even if it’s not requested everywhere. The percentage of over-12s double-vaccinated in the population is now 80%, and would be higher if you exclude the overseas territories.
    Are we doing something right? To the non-expert, it looks as if the huge push on vaccination this year, together with mask-wearing and distancing is working. (The figures in France are pretty reliable by the way). Is this a good augury for the future? Is there a crisis waiting to erupt? Are we doing something right, whatever that is? Is the US doing something wrong?

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Perhaps subsections can still act subcollectively. If they can, they should before their ability to do so is also destroyed.

    1. Lou Anton

      Hi David – France is looking like it’s heading in the right direction for now, and while it might be fair to say on the whole [in Lambert’s phrasing] that “this fever has broken,” it’s certainly uneven. I’ll pulled out a few large countries that show just how differently it’s going across European (+ Israel) countries.

      -Trending up: UK, Israel
      -Treading water: Germany, US
      -Trending down: France

      I suppose the optimistic view would be that Delta could be running out of steam and hope for the best as school gets back into session. The pessimistic (or maybe realistic) view would be something like what IM Doc has said: if you compare where we are now versus this time a year ago, we’re way worse off. And if we trend up in fall and winter like we did in 2020, we’ll be in really rough shape.

      Going back to your last paragraph and questions…maybe best to prepare for the crisis and hope to be pleasantly surprised.

    2. Lee

      Current thinking is that the Delta variant is so contagious that everyone will sooner or later become infected. As the number of those who become disease resistant through vaccination and/or natural infection increases, the number of those who become susceptible to illness will decrease, at least for awhile. The duration and quality of resistance conferred by vaccines or previous infection is yet to be determined.

      The current TWIV episode discusses this with an eminent immunologist. It’s often technical and difficult for a humble layperson such as myself to follow but the gist is that current indications for long term resistance to serious disease for the vaccinated is promising. However, as of now, there still remain many known unknowns.

      Another source for information, more epidemiological than TWIV, and which I find much more accessible is provided on YouTube by Dr. John Campbell.

    3. Ahimsa

      Fascinating detail in Public Health England data released yesterday: COVID-19 vaccine surveillance report – week 36

      The rate of infection is HIGHER in vaccinated >40’s than in unvaccinated
      Whereas the infection rate is MUCH LOWER in vaccinated <40's
      However the over 40's are heavily vaxxed and the <40's mostly not, so what exaclty does this indicate?

      Figure 2. Rates (per 100,000) by vaccination status from week 32 to week 35 2021, (a) COVID-19 cases

      Good news is that data also clearly indicates vaccinated breakthrough cases are MUCH LESS LIKELY to present to emergency care than unvaccinated.

      (d) COVID-19 cases whom presented to emergency care (within 28 days of a positive specimen) resulting in an overnight inpatient admission

  12. jr

    “ Concerns over the scientific research methods, the veracity of the original, peer-reviewed report and public statements by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) saying that infertility is not a known side effect of Ivermectin all led to our editorial decision to remove the story.”

    Now, I’m not a medical researcher but I think I could have figured that one out with a half an hour of internet research. Did they really think that a drug that sterilizes 85% of men who take it wouldn’t have raised a few more flags over the -decades- it’s been in use? I could see 8% or something slipping by but 85%?!?. I guess when your loading one’s corporate propaganda catapult, any ammo will do. And they probably don’t know a thing about it’s history. Why bother when all you’re doing is regurgitating what others have shoved down your throat…

  13. pjay

    Re: “Lessons From the Ivermectin Debacle” [RealClearScience (Sardonia)] and

    “Stop Death Shaming” [The Atlantic]

    Finally, some examples of rational and constructive discussion of (1) ivermectin, and (2) vaccine hesitancy (the latter in the Atlantic, yet!). As important as the “science” is on these issues, both authors also model what is needed as much as anything: open *communication* and mutually respectful *dialogue*.

    I personally have more questions about the efficacy and possible side effects of the vaccines than the authors seem to have (yes, I’m fully vaccinated). But compared to what has passed as “debate” in the media, I welcome more articles like this.

    1. poopinator

      It really brings home how formulaic modern pop music has become. Great watch (well, i’m only half way through)

          1. LilD

            He did his work without a click track or quantization or Melodyne…
            And without limiting the melody to “hammer the supersonic for seven bars then resolve”
            I love it all

  14. Carolinian

    Re Dune–Variety gave it a so so the other day but IMO Villeneuve is a visual genius and on that he should be judged.

    And even more IMO–Bladerunner 2049 much more interesting that the original and I like Ridley.

  15. jr

    Unemployment Blues: Adventures in the Puzzle Palace

    So it has been over a month since I have been paid. They owe me thousands of dollars. I haven’t been able to get a human on the phone in all that time.

    So I reached out to these folks:


    and sent them an email detailing my problems. They do class-action lawsuits. Let’s see where it goes.

    1. Still Above Water

      Not sure if this will work in New York, but in Oregon the only way to reach the unemployment department is via fax machine. It usually takes a few days for them to respond, but they do respond, unlike the phone line which is (seemingly) never answered. Maybe it’s because you’re creating a paper record, in that your fax machine can verify that they received your fax?

      And is there any better example of inept government by design than the unemployment department not having a modern phone system? Every other department has one with a menu, voicemail, and/or wait queue. It’s almost as if they don’t want people to receive UI…

  16. drumlin woodchuckles

    A good reply to ” it can’t be racist because the decisions are made by algorithms” might be . . .
    ” The algorithms are all written by racists.”

    Algorithms lie when liars algorithm.

  17. lyman alpha blob

    RE: pizza delivery

    I delivered pizzas for a short time as a 2nd job. Not only did I deliver them without GPS, I often got them there after having an ‘attitude adjustment’. And some people would invite me in to play a hand or two of poker and have a beer between deliveries if they had an extra chair.

    But not in 30 minutes or less – that was always for chumps at the corporate places making pies that taste like cardboard.

    While I’m glad not to have to do that anymore, looking back it was probably the most fun job I ever had.

    1. JBird4049

      Well, I might have been a chump myself, however, I did have the streets, the apartments, hotels, motels, and all their numbers plus the best routes depending on the day time as well as the weather conditions for IIRC six small towns. I was good, even if I do say so myself. ;-)

      Nothing as good those taxi drivers who have memorize London, mind you, and I am decrepit now, but really too many people have handed their brains over to computers, apps, and algos. I rather liked having a mental map of the streets where something like a hundred thousand people lived. It was fun. Too many people discount their inherent capabilities and think their judgement lacking.

  18. petal

    Biden will ORDER private companies with over 100 employees to mandate shots or testing and fine firms $14,000 for violations
    “President Joe Biden on Thursday will announce an aggressive new plan to get 100 million employees across the federal government and private sector vaccinated against COVID as the case rate continues to rise due to the Delta variant.

    To reach his goal, Biden will use the sweeping power of the federal government, ordering companies to vaccinate workers or face fines of up to thousands of dollars. If the administration hits its 100 million mark that means two-thirds of the country’s workforce would be vaccinated.

    He’ll have the Labor Department issue an emergency, temporary order to require all businesses with 100 or more employees to ensure every worker is either fully vaccinated or gets tested at least once a week. The order covers over 80 million employees and it will require employers with 100 or more employees to give employees paid time off to get vaccinated.
    Any business that violates the new rule will face substantial fines, up to $14,000.

    He will also require all workers in healthcare settings that receive Medicaid or Medicare reimbursement to get vaccinated, which will apply to 17 million healthcare workers.

    That is in addition to his executive order requiring all federal workers and contractors to get vaccinated.

    A senior administration official described it as an ‘aggressive, comprehensive’ plan to fight COVID as part of their mission to ‘vaccinate the unvaccinated.’ The official estimated nearly 80 million Americans are eligible to receive a shot but have not.

    Additionally, the roughly 300,000 educators in headstart programs will be required to be vaccinated.”
    More at the link.

    1. jimmy cc

      another Divide and Rule strategy.

      man i am glad america isn’t already full of people seething with rage.

    2. Pat

      I think we may find out very quickly how well the Democrats did letting all of Trump’s judicial nominees through.

      Personally I expect a stay on both orders in 5…4…3

    3. Mo's Bike Shop

      Painful to skim, but I see nothing about how they’ll measure or enforce compliance.

      Perhaps a hotline?

      If Joe lets his authoritarian streak show, will he start peeling off some conservative voters?

      1. petal

        Yep. Stay tuned.
        ‘Your refusal has cost us all’: Biden declares war on the 80M unvaccinated Americans in speech ordering mandates on two-thirds of ALL workers and insists: ‘This is not about freedom’
        “President Joe Biden on Thursday declared war on the 80 million Americans who have yet to get a COVD vaccine and asked them ‘what more is there to wait for’ as he announced mandates covering two thirds of all workers.

        ‘This is not about freedom or personal choice. It’s about protecting yourself and those around you, the people you work with, the people you care about, the people you love. My job as president is to protect all Americans,’ he said in remarks in the State Dining Room at the White House.

        ‘We’ve been patient but our patience is wearing thin. And your refusal has cost all of us. So please do the right thing,’ he said.

        Biden’s speech was a marked change from previous remarks on the pandemic. He took a harsh tone with those who have not gotten vaccinated and expressed impatience with their decision not to get a shot in the arm.

        And he addressed that crowd directly, in stark language, where he called out those who cast doubt about the safety and efficiency of vaccines.

        He also outlined a series of new government mandates that will require shots in the arms for two-thirds of employed Americans. Federal employees who refuse can be fired and companies that don’t comply will face thousands of dollars in fines.

        Republicans, including governors, called the orders ‘coercive’ and ‘unconstitutional’ and have vowed to fight back in the courts and with legislation.

        Both his tone and his action were some of the strictest measures he’s taken since he became president – a move that comes as hospitalizations are up across the United States as the Delta variant continues to plague the nation.

        Biden charged the unvaccinated with ‘overcrowding our hospitals and overrunning emergency rooms intensive care units, leaving no room for someone with a heart attack or pancreatic cancer.’

        The president decried the ‘pandemic politics’ that he said was behind those who had not yet gotten a shot in the arm, calling out public officials who were ‘actively working to undermine the fight against COVID-19.'”
        More at the link. If you can stand it.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Biden’s stock portfolio of Pfizer shares needs a boost making grandpa cranky. Of course somebody could say that as these mRNA drugs have been given to hundreds of millions of people by now, that people would be more convinced if those companies had their blank check for legal liability for the effects of these vaccines rescinded. That would be a confidence builder. But we all know that that will never happen.

        2. Jason Boxman

          That explains the rushed Pfizer vaccine approval without new data or public scrutiny. Fun times. I guess Biden and liberal Democrats think this is going to save them in 2022? We’ll see.

          1. Michael Ismoe

            A forced mandate for a non-sterilizing vaccine? Why?

            At this rate, I see the Dems losing 60 House seats and at least 5 in the Senate. You can double that if the VP campaigns for them. Harris really is Hillary. Every time she shows up, people realize why they hate her.

        3. Jason Boxman

          These people are nuts.

          Mr. Biden is acting through a combination of executive orders and new federal rules. Under his plan, private sector businesses that have 100 or more employees will have to require vaccination, or mandatory weekly testing, for their workers after Mr. Biden instructs the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to draft a rule.

          But a few months ago declined to allow OSHA to promulgate rules regarding worker safety. How about that, eh?


        4. Carolinian

          And to think some said making a demented guy president was a bad idea. Pat Lang is always going on about how Biden should be kept far far away from the nuclear button.

          The sad part is that most of the media will back him to the hilt.

        5. notabanker

          The President of the United States declared war on 80 million American citizens. Is this not the definition of a Civil War?

          1. marym

            I don’t think this vaccine should be mandated, because there are known and potentially still-unknown serious side effects. However, if we’re talking about a war, it was started by the portion of people unwilling to get vaccinated who have also opposed every single non-medical precaution for themselves and tried to impose that opposition on others (whether by public temper tantrums and harassment or passing laws forbidding school districts, businesses, or other entities from requiring precautions).

            1. Objective Ace

              > it was started by the portion of people unwilling to get vaccinated who have also opposed every single non-medical precaution for themselves and tried to impose that opposition on others

              Thats funny, I see more of this from my vaccinated friends. Why are you so worried about going to a bar? Why do we need a mask? So what if theres an outbreak at school? My kids are vaccinated

              1. Jason Boxman

                Well, they’re getting this perhaps from the NY Times, which I linked to above, where the concept of heard immunity is trotted out at this late a date when it is really beyond debate that such an outcome is impossible.

                I seriously wonder how many more pandemic years we’ll have where so many people are convinced that, if we can only reach mythical herd immunity, everything is gonna be alright.

                Maybe if we can get past the realization that there is no such outcome, we can finally begin to make sensible public health policy, including a serious look at ventilation, providing PPE for every citizen, and robust testing, tracing, and data collection.

                One can dream, right?

              2. marym

                Biden and his administration claiming vaccinated people didn’t need to wear masks was irresponsible. People who haven’t yet acknowledged that vaccinated people still need masks and other precautions are wrong too. However, the war against all forms of mitigation has been going on for a year and a half. It didn’t start this afternoon.

                1. Carolinian

                  have also opposed every single non-medical precaution for themselves and tried to impose that opposition on others

                  How many people are they? As I’ve said over the last couple of days I live in a very Republican state and yet I get no sense that they are “at war” or any less concerned about their health or that of their children. They wear masks and the supposedly trog Trump ally governor even mandated masks in restaurants last year and was sued for it. The notion that all the country’s problems are the result of The Proud Boys or even Joe Manchin is a big fantasy. We are in a class war and both parties are on the same side on that one.

                2. drumlin woodchuckles

                  And it was very carefully engineered on purpose with malice aforethought by the MAGAnons and the Foxanons and the Republican Party which validates their feelings and actions for its own power-building longer-range agenda.

                  And so now we have libanons mistakenly or maliciously confusing the un-vaccinated with coughing spitting no-mask-rebel Typhoid MAGAs. ( And some of these vaxxed-up liberals are themselves now becoming Typhoid Libbies).
                  Here is a little article about one such, and its getting the firing from its job which it so richly deserved.


                  1. drumlin woodchuckles

                    Having just myself now watched the relevant video, I sincerely hope this piece of Typhoid MAGA filth gets long tail covid for the rest of its life.

                3. drumlin woodchuckles

                  People are confusing ” not getting vaccinated” with mask-freedom-rebel Typhoid MAGA prevention and sabotage of public health efforts like masking.

                  Here is a news story about one such Karen who was videoed harrassing and coughing on people for fun. Thankfully, her identity made its way back to the state she lived in and she was rightfully fired from her job.

                  Here is the link.

      2. Daryl

        Pretty classic Democrats. Full of fire and venom now that there’s no possibility of actually accomplishing such a thing.

        “Hold me back, bro!”

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Now that I think about it, mandating a non-sterilizing vaccine seems pretty sketchy to me. Since transmission in the population is not ended, where’s the line between that requiring medications generally?

          1. eg

            It doesn’t make a ton of sense in America with its healthcare profits industrial complex, does it?

            In places with socialized medicine, however, it does make some sense if you think a high vaccination rate will lower demand on the system as a whole.

    4. Gareth

      How will OSHA claim unvaccinated retail employees are safety hazards in the workplace while claiming unvaccinated shoppers are not? I don’t see how it could be done, so the secondary effect of this approach will be health passports regulating retail access. “Show your card or flash that app if you want to eat.” Democrats seem determined to lose the midterms.

  19. petal

    @Jen, been meaning to ask you about this-have you heard anything about the surveillance testing that is being rolled out? I’ve seen almost no details about it, just a mention here and there that it’s happening. Curious about it.

  20. Nikkikat

    Well, I hope the Biden admin along with Fauci, Pelosi and a good half of congress enjoy the extra money they garner in their stock portfolios. On all that Pfizer stock they bought back at the beginning of the pandemic.

  21. Left in Wisconsin

    The Economy: “How I reluctantly became an inflation crank” [Full Stack Economics].
    … Even if it did that, it’s not obvious how to objectively measure whether one establishment delivered a more enjoyable experience or a more stylish result than another.” So hedonic adjustment doesn’t adjust very well? More: “Now we’re likely facing the same problem, but in the opposite direction: many products are getting worse as a result of the pandemic. But the BLS doesn’t have the manpower—or in some cases even the conceptual framework—to fully capture all of these changes in its inflation measurements.”

    There is a fundamental misconception here, which the BLS has unfortunately helped propagate, that there is an definable, measurable characteristic called “quality improvement” that BLS economists can draw on in order to improve the accuracy of our gov’t statistics. As the author points out, quality for many goods and services is virtually impossible to measure quantitatively, even if unlimited person-power were available. But the bigger problem is that there is a fundamental inconsistency with trying to measure quality change in aggregate economic data.

    The primary idea behind our aggregate economic output data (which the BEA, not the BLS, collects and which the BLS uses for calculating inflation as well as productivity change) is that we can compare/aggregate the value of different goods using relative prices. In general, changes in the price of a good above or below average (producer price) inflation in that industry/sector are taken to reflect changes in quality – so if the price of a car model or haircut goes up more than average inflation in the relevant sector, the presumption is that the product is of higher quality than the previous iteration.

    If one is aggregating economic output across different products and sectors, the obvious (i.e. only convenient) way to compare/aggregate different goods is by economic (monetary) value. But there are clearly situations where this is not the case – personal computers being the most obvious – and this presents a big problem for aggregate economic data. If you are comparing computers to cars or haircuts, the relative (monetary) value of a personal computer today to a car today is less than it was 10 years ago even though the computer today is obviously a better computer vs the car (i.e. it provides more value relative to the car today than the one from 10 years ago did to a new car 10 years ago) than it was. So if you are aggregating cars and computers and haircuts, you have to decide if you are going to aggregate them based on today’s relative values or 10 years ago’s – the data look completely different depending on your “base year”. The whole idea behind “chained indexes” is that you smooth these changes over time, so that you don’t get big swings in the data depending on the base year, but that technique is just as arbitrary as any other. Fundamentally, as every economist 100 years ago knew, there is no right way to aggregate apples and oranges, just a bunch of different techniques that work better or worse depending on your objective.

    Anyway, to get back to quality, using monetary values to aggregate different goods and services already assumes a basic view on quality (which is that it is accurately measured by price), and the BLS doesn’t get into actual quality comparisons between actual goods unless the screaming of economists forces them too. And there are two reasons why economists scream about poorly measured quality changes:
    1. To argue that economic growth (and, relatedly, productivity growth) is actually higher than the statistics say
    2. To argue that inflation is actually lower than the statistics say.

    Hence, the BLS does not do any quality measuring of goods and services where quality may actually be declining. (That doctor visit that used to be 20 minutes but is now 10? That’s productivity growth, not quality decline – and we know this because the price didn’t decline!) And it only tries to measure quality change in cases that are too obvious to be ignored… or are the subject of too much screaming by economists and so must be addressed. This is where hedonic measurement comes from. If we can’t use the price of a computer this year vs last year as an indicator of relative quality/value, then we need to collect data on speed, storage, and other specs to make such a comparison. This is ALWAYS a judgment call – does twice the speed mean the computer is twice as valuable? But more importantly, it works directly against the core assumption necessary to aggregate all economic output, that value can be measured by price. It’s all still apples plus oranges (plus elephants).

    To me, the clearest indication of the political bias of mainstream economic data is the effort currently being made to try to calculate the economic value of “free” services like Facebook and Google. There was never any effort made back in the day to try to calculate the value of watching TV – but there was also less angst among economists about slow growth and the ineffectiveness of standard “economic policies” to raise it. Nor has there ever been a serious effort (among mainstream, non-feminist economists) to measure the economic value of “free” or “unpaid” household goods like childcare and household management or services provided by government, allegedly because of insurmountable measurement difficulties. Some feminists economists have estimated that unpaid economic activity may be as much as 40-50% of all economic activity.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Ding ding ding ding!

        Although obviously we need to turn the natural world into a market in order to arrest climate change by conceptualizing natural phenomena as “ecosystem services” [bangs head on desk].

        As you point out, if we can’t even price housework (and, institutionally, we can’t) what happens when we try to price something really complicated?

    1. anEnt

      Stale Raisin Bran is apparently Pareto equal to a hot American breakfast. And yet the economist complains when forced to bear the Pareto rather than remark on others having to trade down to get by…

  22. Henry Moon Pie

    Equity and GDP–

    “How much larger would the U.S. economic pie be if opportunities and outcomes were more equally distributed by race and ethnicity?” Their answer is $22.9 trillion over the 30-year period.”

    I’m all for racial and ethnic equality and let’s throw in class while we’re at it, but the last damn thing we need is an extra $22.9 GDP in growth over the next 30 years. Equity needs to be achieved while reducing AT LEAST the rate of growth in GDP if not reducing GDP in absolute terms. What a bunch of maroons they are at Brookings.

  23. Expat2uruguay

    the fear-mongering is palpable at NBC and the Southern Command regarding Chinese investment in Latin America and the Caribbean:
    “”Chinese influence is global, and it is everywhere in this hemisphere, and moving forward in alarming ways,” said Adm. Craig Faller, the head of U.S. Southern Command, in an exclusive interview with NBC News.

    “China is pursuing multiple portals in this hemisphere,” he continued, referring to seaports, airports and other transit hubs. “Depending on the day, count them as 40 or so. And as I look at where they’re focused strategically — West Coast, East Coast, South Panama, Caribbean — I absolutely can see a future where these ports will become a hub for their growing blue water Navy that far exceeds their…need for homeland defense.”

      1. The Rev Kev

        I read it and translated it for everybody. It says ‘Moar money please.’ Same with the Navy piece.

    1. JBird4049

      If this is not some kind of meta-prank, I would say that they have jumped the shark; but hey, it might an advertisement for the game Earth: Civilization, the End Times, the Joke’s on You! edition

      More honestly, it seems that the culture that modern Neo-liberalism has created has crappified, gamified, and commidified everything. All emotions, thoughts, beliefs, ideologies, metaphysics, religion, suffering, food, art, music, clothes, business, the ecosystem, everything. It is all faked and has been turned into a grift.

    2. Anthony Noel

      I like how the results are not based getting, you know, results related to your “activism” but rather getting the most social media engagement and tweets.

  24. jr

    Still in NJ, stopped in a market for dinner (double masked and gargled). Of the eight or so staff, literally no one was wearing their mask properly, no one. Exposed “passive-aggressive” noses all around and barely covered mouths.

  25. The Rev Kev

    ‘David Frum
    Canada has never generated enough domestic investment to develop the opportunities abundant in Canada. To achieve its potential, Canada needs global investment.’

    Trying to think of an issue that David Frum has been right about (stares into the air). Nope, nothing comes to mind. So how about Canada, using the principles of MMT, tries the following. The Canadian government issues bonds to finance development. Then the Canadian Central Bank borrows the money into existence to purchase those bonds. As revenue is generated by that investment, the debt is liquidated by it in paying it back. Of course this cuts Wall Street & international finance out of the picture so it would never be allowed but one can dream.

    1. eg

      I prefer it when Frum aims his dumb at America. He is one of Canada’s most pernicious exports.

      And hell yes to your response to his ridiculous FDI premise.

  26. Chauncey Gardiner

    Contrasting analysis to that of the Fed writers of the linked Brookings article by economist Trinh Nguyen about the causes of economic disparity in the U.S. She opined today in a related thread on Twitter that the nearly $23 trillion in lost U.S. economic growth is due in large part to the adverse effects of the Federal Reserve’s Quantitative Easing and Zero Interest Rate Policy on economic equality:


    Her view is also consistent with that of the Rand Corp study a year ago about the redistribution of $50 trillion in wealth over time to the wealthiest One Percent of Americans.


    Perhaps this will cause some reconsideration of a deplorable policy and who is appointed to senior policy-making roles at the nation’s central bank.

  27. jimmy cc

    whatever the outcome of the mandates in a court of law, it will give everyone another issue to fundraise on, so there is that.

  28. Captain Obious

    I think Bleeding Edge has more funny parts (as in V.) than some of the Pynchon heavies. It is a light read compared to Gravity’s Rainbow or Against the Day but I thought it was interesting to see where he is (or was in 2013) these days. Even a few years ago, some things in the book were a bit “anachronistic.” He still can be very funny, and he’s pretty old.

    Sorry to learn about this today:
    Sad Last Days: Jack Nicholson ‘Forced Into Retirement’ From Hollywood, Friends Fear ‘He Has Dementia’

    1. neo-realist

      When you’ve made a great deal of fine art and have lived 80 plus years while living rather hard, that’s a pretty mean feat. While he has to step out of the limelight in his advanced years and may not be all that there, at least he’s financially comfortable and has a support system for the end, which is much better than a lot of people have.

    2. Martin Oline

      Glad to see someone responded to the link. I read the book about a year ago and wasn’t too impressed, but didn’t want to comment. You know, “if you can’t say anything nice . . .” Compared to his earlier work such as V and Gravity’s Rainbow, it seems to be more of a soap opera. It does have some humor, perhaps similar to The Crying of Lot 49, but not as interesting to me. Perhaps it is more a reflection of Pynchon’s age and current interests than his talent. He spends more time having his charactors gossiping, eating, and shopping than nearly anything else. His portrayal of the Dark Web was interesting but I lack the knowledge to comment on the accuracy. He may have deliberatly set the timeline of the story over a decade before the published date so he wouldn’t be taken to task for any technical errors.

  29. jimmy cc

    government policy should be everyone who gets a vaccine gets a free rifle.

    everyone wins. kumbaya, hugs all around

    1. The Rev Kev

      How about free healthcare – for life. That way if there are any long term problems with those vaccines, they will be taken care of instead of being thrown on the scrapheap.

      1. jimmy cc

        its guns or a tax credit.

        i mean, we’re not charging you for your shot, so you’ve already received free Healthcare. /s

  30. Matthew G. Saroff

    I delivered pizzas in a college town in the 1980s.

    Eventually, I went with something safer, working at a radioactive asbestos plant.

  31. Tom Stone

    The Ivermectin story could get a lot more amusing now that Japan and India have approved its use to treat Covid.
    Especially if it proves an efficacious treatment.
    How can you spin that without being explicitly racist? “Sure it works for nips and wogs, but not for, you know, more advanced groups”
    And the vaccine mandates being introduced just as new variants are learning to escape is icing on the cake.
    If you’d put a group of epidemiologists and Virologists together at the beginning and said “We want to know every possible way to screw up dealing with this pandemic” I doubt they’d have come up with anything as bad as what we have now.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The Ivermectin story could get a lot more amusing now that Japan and India have approved its use to treat Covid. Especially if it proves an efficacious treatment.

      Yes, on both counts.

  32. Dan

    Re: Albion college job ad

    I often joke that Starbucks pays better and has better benefits than adjunct positions like this, but it’s not really a joke because it’s 100% true. Teaching courses in 3 quite different subfields while being expected to enthuse about diversity word salad, mentor students, and publish reams of papers no one will read is an exhausting 80-hour a week job and I doubt there benefits of any kind are offered. If you want a job in academia, department secretary is a much better bet.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I often joke that Starbucks pays better and has better benefits than adjunct positions like this, but it’s not really a joke because it’s 100% true

      I was an adjunct about a decade ago, and did the exact same calculation. Also, at Starbucks you got insurance, but not as an adjunct. So, I’m not an adjunct any more (lucky me).

  33. Expat2uruguay

    I was out drinking with a group of friends tonight, so forgive me for getting Fuzzy.
    I just want to say, not only is Uruguay great at soccer, but it may be the most stable country in South America. Also, it’s one of the most highly vaccinated. (The government is currently doing a third dose of Pfizer for the population over 12.)

    Stable. Highly vaccinated. And totally laid-back. It is really a great place for stressed-out westerners to take a couple of weeks off during your winter, our summer. I’m already here, but if I weren’t, this is exactly where I would want to go!!

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > It is really a great place for stressed-out westerners to take a couple of weeks off during your winter, our summer.

      How’s the food? And doesn’t it require heat in your winter?

      1. Expat2uruguay

        Lambert, The local restaurant food is terribly boring, except for the parilla, or barbecue. Fortunately, the trend is toward more flavorful offerings. I’m told it used to be worse. The cheeses are especially boring!

        As for the winter, homes can be quite cold because they’re usually uninsulated concrete construction with drafty windows. Also, it gets quite damp in the winter. Often there is a very cold wind coming up from Antarctica. So even though it almost never gets into the 30s, yes you’re going to want heat in your home. I was recently in San Francisco in July, and that was quite comparable to our winter, but people there seem to tolerate it quite well, perhaps because it’s the same temperature year-round? Most people here use small portable heaters that have a tank of propane for fuel, as electricity is rather expensive. In my house I had a couple of split air conditioner / heaters installed that are quite energy efficient. People also wear a lot of layers here to cut down on their heating cost. Also, the exchange rate has improved since I last discussed Uruguay with you, so it’s not quite as expensive.

        I was suggesting a visit during the upcoming winter in the northern hemisphere, which of course is summer here. And there’s not a great need for air conditioning in the summer, a fan is usually sufficient.

  34. urblintz

    I don’t know who Buzz Hollander MD is or what credibility he might have but since you linked to him I’ll assume he met your standards. He begins by striking all the right notes of why a doctor “could” interpret the data on ivm positively before the assault begins.

    ” I cannot grasp how someone with a background in science like Bret Weinstein could be so convinced by a single incredibly positive study from Argentina that they would take the message to millions via Joe Rogan’s podcast that ivermectin is more effective than vaccination to prevent Covid-19, without critically examining the study first. I do not understand how intelligent and experienced physicians like Paul Marik and Pierre Kory could issue a 30+ page position paper describing the dozens of studies on ivermectin for Covid-19 without a single mention that most of the studies had obvious flaws. It baffles me that respected researchers like Andrew Hall and Tess Lawrie would stake their professional reputations on the quality of trials that had red flags popping up all over them. All I can imagine is that they only engaged with each other, and not those who disagreed with their conclusions. There is no safe place for hubris in science.”

    Hubris, Buzz?

    I know who those doctors are. Buzz Hollander? Not so much, and I see no links to demonstrate that “most” of the studies had “obvious flaws” with “red flags popping up all over.” That’s just shoddy rhetoric

    He tries to take some of his vitriol back (a vitriol he shares with no other of the favored professionals discussed, like Fauci, who are guilty of advice resulting in actual harm and who receive the mildest of criticism) by linking to two “defenses” from Tess Lawrie but fails to mention they address the very issues which “baffle him.

    here’s the Bayesian analysis Lawrie mentions in in her rebuttal (which I posted before) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8415515/ – the results of the analysis were not changed with the removal of the two studies Buzz so breathtakingly describes.

    and I’ll remind that Lawrie, in her rebuttal to the crapified dismissal of her good work, makes reference to studies which show ivm safe up to 10 times the anti-parasitic dosage for humans… but Buzz goes off on how unprofessional it is for FLCCC to have up the dose… x 2)

    Buzz trots out the now familiar “NIH did not recommend it” BS without mentioning the NIH’s exact same evaluation for remdesivir, touted by Fauci, still regularly administered at $3000-$5000 a treatment, showing not only poor results but severe and yes, sometimes fatal, reactions. Why didn’t he call for an immediate halt to its use? He has no problem impugning the decisions of practicing front-line doctors to treat their patients as they see fit (FLCCC protocol) with legal and approved drugs which have proved beneficial. Period. Hubris, Buzz?

    And to top it all off he evokes humility: “questioning whether we know what we think we know, and choosing to update our pre-conceived notions regularly — is the smoothest path to advancing medical science. It’s dearly needed now.” He should take his own advice.

    The close is a clumsy home-spun chuckle about Joe Rogan and a final sign off with the pitiful, and revealing:

    “Buzz Hollander MD is a family physician on the Big Island of Hawaii with no ideological axes to grind.

    now that made me laugh…

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > It baffles me that respected researchers like Andrew Hall and Tess Lawrie would stake their professional reputations on the quality of trials that had red flags popping up all over them.

      > Hubris, Buzz?

      Well, er:

      One of the first papers claiming a mortality benefit for ivermectin in hospitalized patients was taken from the tainted (or quite possibly imaginary) Surgisphere database, and was quickly retracted (but not before influencing policy in South America). So, too, was the hugely influential Elgazzar et. al. study from Egypt, which claimed a 90% reduction in mortality, but was rather convincingly exposed to be fraudulent this past July. Finally, the remarkable study from Argentina’s Dr Hector Carvallo, finding a head-scratching 100% effectiveness at preventing Covid-19 infection among health care workers (none of the 788 workers taking ivermectin and carageenan* contracted the disease, while 57% of those using standard PPE did), fell at the end of August, with compelling arguments that it is nearly inconceivable that it even happened as advertised.

      Now for me, issues with those three studies aren’t dispositive, because I give a lot of weight to clinicians — both personally and in clinician-driven studies — and despite the obvious issues with confounding, national and regional studies. (This is leaving aside the issues of fraud and manipulation in “normal science” generally, and RCTs in particular.) And of course off-label use of a prescribed, cheap, safe drug for prophylaxis or treatment during a pandemic is an obvious no-brainer in terms of risk.

      Nevertheless, having major studies shot down or even shot at is just not a good look, to say the least. So I don’t think “Buzz” is hubristic in the slightest. But I’m glad you laughed. We can all use a laugh.

      NOTE * carageenan is a confounder….

    2. Basil Pesto

      Talk about shoddy rhetoric:

      (a vitriol he shares with no other of the favored professionals discussed, like Fauci, who are guilty of advice resulting in actual harm and who receive the mildest of criticism)

      all of which is true, and all of which is perfectly irrelevant to the fundamental, strictly apolitical, question of whether ivermectin is effective or not, and to what extent.His article is not about Fauci, or any other topics: it is an analysis of Ivermectin and what an insane issue it’s become. You might disagree with his opinion, but to make childish insinuations about his character or intellect because of it? Well, I don’t want to concern troll or tone police, so I’ll just say that it’s deeply disappointing and hope you’ll think I’m being honest.

      There are many political/sociological/etc questions regarding the discourse surrounding ivermectin, which is what makes the whole thing so fascinating, in a car-crash sort of way. Some of these questions might speak to biases that will reveal themselves at some point that have all had some effect on trying to find the answer to the original question, but they cannot answer that question themselves, which, again, is: is ivermectin is effective or not, and to what extent?

      the results of the analysis were not changed with the removal of the two studies Buzz so breathtakingly describes.

      That’s irrelevant – the point is, it speaks extremely poorly of the FLCCC’s undertaking that they would include such an analysis without doing due diligence. Mistakes happen, especially in an urgent situation like this, and it’s not dispositive either way, as Lambert explains. As he also explains, and I’ve said before, and Hollander points out, it is very ‘uhhh’ inducing. A penalty kick test applies: if such a mistake were present in the analysis of a treatment you [i]didn’t[/i] like or trust, say Remdesivir, would you be so indifferent? It’s also absolutely worth stopping and asking: “why was this fraud committed in the first place?” (and the answer to that question [i]still[/i] would not get us any closer to answering: is ivermectin effective or not, and to what extent?)

      I take his point about dosage safety in good faith. I have no reason not to think that that’s anything other than an honest opinion, one which you might disagree with. A ‘safety profile’ is not a static thing, and dosages are important. I think advising caution when considering deviating from standard treatment protocols is [i]in principle[/i] a good thing, for this or any other drug. Whether he has the most up to date information on the subject of ivermectin dosing, and how strong that information is, I don’t know, and presumably he didn’t either, because there’s a limit to how much all of us can read and follow topics like this. Maybe he would appreciate it if you politely shared such information with him, and maybe asked what he makes of it? The game of study vs counter-study, ad infinitum, is tedious and ultimately, for a layman like myself, unhelpful; synthesis has to inform analysis to some extent in these matters, surely – especially when the comments are beyond my technical capability to fully understand.

      He points out the strictly truthful observation that NIH have neither recommended for or against it. I do not understand your characterisation of his relating this as BS. Maybe you think it’s BS because they offer the same advice for Remdesivir, and there’s no Remdesivir moral panic: again, an interesting story in itself, but it doesn’t prove anything about Ivermectin, which is what he is discussing. We don’t know what he thinks about Remdesivir! Maybe ask him, and see what he thinks, if you really want to know? Maybe he wrote a paragraph about it and the editors took it out for reasons of length? It hardly matters. In fact, his whole argument is essentially “guys maybe let’s not be hysterical and just treat it accordingly with that NIH recommendation”, which in practice might be, as he puts it, ‘cautious, but curious’.

      Do you not think it possible that the fact that three commenters here that have been following Ivermectin rather closely (Lambert, pjay, myself) and who, I believe, remain uncertain but hopeful that it will prove to be a useful treatment – have all commented rather approvingly of the, as you call it, ‘vitriolic’ article, might suggest that it’s your own biases that are on display? What exactly is it that you [i]wanted[/i] this doctor to say, or that would have sufficed to protect him from the wrath of your gratuitous insults and unpleasant insinuations about his character?

      Sorry if this comes across as mean. I am tired of all the sniping and unwarranted unpleasantness, and if I believe argumentation is shoddy and unfair, and I care enough, then I will criticise it. Absent extremely strong evidence for reasons not to, I will continue to find pieces like Mr Hollander’s vastly more helpful than comments like yours.

  35. VietnamVet

    The Biden Administration is even more incompetent than the Trump Administration. Catching a Derangement Syndrome is a natural outcome of a government that is incapable of protecting its people. Tonight’s nightly news did it to me.

    Anti-Vaxxers are starting to point out that it appears that the number of deaths from COVID are less than those from the vaccine campaigns in Australia and New Zealand. Could be true. Of course, I take the opposite position from libertarians. I think that this indicates that a working national public health system is better than the vaccines in protecting citizens from coronavirus. China and Taiwan show how this done and raise the possibility that the Chinese civilization will be the only one to survive the 21st century.

    The USA is #1 in total COVID deaths for a very specific reason, its public health system has collapsed. Mandates, shaming the unvaccinated, and vaccine passports to force the injection a non-sterilizing for-profit mRNA vaccine is the corporate/state going full fascist. I not sure if there will a 3rd American revolt with the lockdowns and surveillance. More likely, things will just stop working. The stressed-out will run amok.

    1. Kevin Carhart

      NSFW – Possibly I should have warned you that a NSFW headline is prominent, in case this matters or you have kids around or something.
      My comment was a reply to Rev Kev – thanks Rev!

  36. Geoffrey Dewan

    “The authors instead assume talent and job and educational preferences are distributed evenly across race and ethnicity. They then show the economic effects of disparities that hold people back from fully realizing their potential.”

    Wait. Over there, on the right. I see a Bell Curve coming in….

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