2:00PM Water Cooler 11/16/2021

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By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

A duet, though one of the voices is very faint.

* * *


Readers, I have returned this section to its usual format (with some boilerplate revision). –lambert

Vaccination by region:

The numbers bounce back. (I have also not said, because it’s too obvious, that if by Bubba we mean The South, then Bubba has done pretty well on vax.)

58.8% of the US is fully (doubly) vaccinated (CDC data, as of November 15. Mediocre by world standards, being just below Estonia, and just above the Czech Republic in the Financial Times league tables as of this Monday). We are back to the stately 0.1% rise per day. I would bet that the stately rise = word of mouth from actual cases. However, as readers point out, every day those vaccinated become less protected, especially the earliest. So we are trying to outrun the virus…

Case count by United States regions:

Now we have an actual jump (and I have drawn an anti-triumphalist black line). The cases are broadly distributed in the Midwest, and concentrated in New York and especially Pennsylvania in the Northeast (see yesterday’s Water Cooler for state data). Alert reader Cocoaman discovered that Pennsylvania was now counting reinfections as cases instead of ignoring them (which makes sense if you want to, oh, allocate health care resources). But even if you backed out those cases, which would bring Pennsylvania back into line with New York, the jump is still extremely concerning. And right before Thanksgiving, too.

At a minimum, the official narrative that “Covid is behind us,” or that the pandemic will be “over by January” (Gottlieb), or “I know some people seem to not want to give up on the wonderful pandemic, but you know what? It’s over” (Bill Maher) is clearly problematic. (This chart is a seven-day average, so changes in direction only show up when a train is really rolling.)

One of the sources of the idea that Covid is on the way out, I would speculate, is the CDC’s modeling hub (whose projections also seem to have been used to justify school re-opening). “Here is today’s version of the chart from the CDC modeling hub, which aggregates the results of eight models in four scenarios, with the last run (“Round 9”) having taken place on 2021-08-30, and plots current case data (black dotted line) against the aggregated model predictions (grey area), including the average of the aggregated model predictions (black line). I have helpfully highlighted the case data discussed above. The last time CDC updated the data is 11/6, i.e. before the jump in cases:

(Note that the highlighted case data is running behind the Johns Hopkins data presented first.) Now, it’s fair to say that the upward trend in case data (black dotted line) is still within the tolerance of the models; it does not conform to the models’ average (black line), but it stays within the grey area (aggregated predictions) It’s also true that where we see an upward trend in the predicted case data (lower right quadrant) it’s much later than where we are now. It’s too early to say “Dammit, CDC, your models were broken”; but it’s not too soon to consider the possibility that they might be. But maybe we’ll get lucky, and the problem, if indeed it is a problem, will go away before Thanksgiving travel begins.

MWRA (Boston-area) wastewater detection:

Massachusetts is still exhibiting its oddball sine wave behavior, but to my eye the trend is up (as is the case data). It would be really bad if the case count jumped just as the students headed home for Thanksgiving.

The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) service area includes 43 municipalities in and around Boston, including not only multiple school systems but several large universities. Since Boston is so very education-heavy, then, I think it could be a good leading indicator for Covid spread in schools generally.

From CDC: “Community Profile Report November 12, 2021” (PDF), “Rapid Riser” counties:

Yikes, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin are all redder. Pennsylvania is solid red (because of its data change, but the cases are still real). New Mexico is much worse. Arizona is worse. Inland California is clear, but now there’s pink along the coast. Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont are better. And there are lots of little red specks, Weird flare-ups, like flying coals in a forest fire. They land, catch, but — one hopes — sputter out.

The previous release:

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

Note the rise/red coloring in Wisconsin and Michigan, and the rise in Indiana. No change in Pennsylvania, yet.

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 784,779 780,803. Fiddling and diddling. But at this rate, I don’t think we’ll hit the million mark by New Year’s.

Excess deaths (total, not only from Covid):

Hard to believe we have no excess deaths now, but very fortunate if so. (CDC explains there are data lags).

(Adding: I know the data is bad. This is the United States. Needless to see, this is a public health debacle. It’s the public health establishment’s duty to take care of public health, not the health of certain favored political factions. Also adding: I like a death rate because it gives me a rough indication of my risk should I, heaven forfend, end up in a hospital.)

Covid cases in historic variant sources, with additions from the Brain Trust:

Chile, Portugal, Peru, with Brazil slowing. Remember this is a log scale. Sorry for the kerfuffle at the left. No matter how I tinker, it doesn’t go away.

* * *


“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 Mice de Talleyrand-Périgord

Biden Administration

Trick handcuffs (1):

Trick handcuffs (2):

Stupid it is:

Ever since Biden ended a war, he can’t buy good press. Sure is odd:

The windup, the pitch:

Democrats en Deshabille

Lambert here: Obviously, the Democrat Party is a rotting corpse that can’t bury itself. Why is that? First, the Democrat Party is the political expression of the class power of PMC, their base (lucidly explained by Thomas Frank in Listen, Liberal!). It follows that the Democrat Party is as “unreformable” as the PMC is unreformable; if the Democrat Party did not exist, the PMC would have to invent it. (“PMC” modulo “class expatriates,” of course.) Second, all the working parts of the Party reinforce each other. Leave aside characterizing the relationships between elements of the Party (ka-ching, but not entirely) those elements comprise a network — a Flex Net? An iron octagon? — of funders, vendors, apparatchiks, electeds, NGOs, and miscellaneous mercenaries, with assets in the press and the intelligence community. (Note that voters do not appear within this structure. That’s because, unlike say UK Labour or DSA, the Democrat Party is not a membership organization. Dull normals may “identify” with the Democrat Party, but they cannot join it, except as apparatchiks at whatever level.) Whatever, if anything, that is to replace the Democrat Party needs to demonstrate the operational capability to contend with all this. Sadly, I see nothing of the requisite scale and scope on the horizon, though I would love to be wrong. (If Sanders had leaped nimbly from the electoral train to the strike wave train after losing in 2020, instead of that weak charity sh*t he went with, things might be different today. I am not sure that was in him to do, and I’m not sure he had the staff to do it, although I believe such a pivot to a “war of movement” would have been very popular with his small donors. What a shame the app wasn’t two-way.) Ah well, nevertheless.

And while we’re at it: Think of the left’s programs, and lay them against the PMC’s interests. (1) Free College, even community college. Could devalue PMC credentials. Na ga happen. (2) MedicareForAll. Ends jobs guarantee for means-testing gatekeepers in government, profit-through-denial-of-care gatekeepers in the health insurance business, not to mention opposition from some medical guilds. Na ga happen. (3) Ending the empire (and reining in the national security state). The lights would go out all over Fairfax and Loudon counties. Na ga happen. These are all excellent policy goals. But let’s be clear that it’s not only billionaires who oppose them.

* * *

“Fight for”:

I don’t think that’s the killer argument the poster thinks it is….

Republican Funhouse

“Energized Chris Christie Ready For Next Chapter Of Humiliation” [The Onion]. • Chris Christie? Surely not.

“U.S. Republicans move to decriminalize marijuana at federal level” [Reuters]. “Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced legislation on Monday that would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level and eliminate legal hazards facing many cannabis-related businesses while regulating its use like alcohol… The bill diverges in several important ways from draft legislation proposed in July by Senate Democrats including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. [Representative Nancy Mace of South Carolina’s] bill would impose a 3% excise tax on cannabis, compared to an increasing Senate tax proposal that would top out at around 25%. Where the Senate proposal would give the Food and Drug Administration a primary oversight role, the Republican legislation limits FDA involvement to medical marijuana and makes the Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau the primary regulator for interstate commerce.”


“Indictment of Steele dossier source humiliates its media, intel cheerleaders” (podcast) [Aaron Maté, Pushback]. • I disagree. To be humiliated, you have to have a sense of shame. That said, only the most churlish would deny Maté his well-deserved happy dance on the imagined graves of his enemies.

Realignment and Legitimacy

Class traders:

“Among the Unvaccinated” [Chris Arnade, Among the Unvaccinated]. “Everyone mentioned above… has had a rather rough life. As measured by someone like me, or by most readers of this. Not as measured by any of them. They are just getting by doing the best they can and that means some bumps in the road here and there. Sometimes that includes accidents, overdoses, firings, bankruptcies, felony gun charges, addictions, etc. But that is just life. Everyone was without a college degree. Or in my lingo, in the Back Row. Everyone was proud of being unvaccinated, and almost everyone told me without me asking. They wanted me to know, much as someone wants you to know they are a Packers fan, or an Ohio State fan. The demographics of the unvaccinated I have met is very similar to the demographics of the rest of the Back Row. It is mostly white, but minorities are over-represented, relative to the general population of the US. To the degree they are political, it is mostly non-voters, and like non-voters, while they may have a strong allegiance to a ‘side,’ they don’t think much of the process. ‘Everyone is equally corrupt, but at least Trump is honest about it.’ The whites in the group mostly support Trump, but that isn’t really surprising. Some like Old Man Bernie. Some think he is a commie. Some even voted for Biden, ‘But I got a lot of shit for that.’ Some are, by income alone, upper middle class. They might own a small chain of local tire stores. Or they might have a lawncare biz that has done well. Most aren’t though. Most are lower middle class to poor. But that is the Back Row. What they all have in common is a distrust of certain authority. Mostly that means academics and bureaucrats who do things they can’t fully understand, see the value in, or ever aspire to. Like what do you actually do? Like what do you build? People pay you for that? Or to frame it as they would, if they knew the language, ‘A justified cynicism of an out of touch bureaucratic elite.’ Vaccines are being touted by those types of elites. So they must be questioned. Must be pushed back against…. There is about 15% – 30% of the population who won’t get vaccinated, almost no matter how hard you try. It has become core to who they are. The only way to possible reach them is by people like them. You can’t put an outsider on the TV to preach to them. Certainly not one with lots of credentials. It has to come from within their community. But not the mayor, or the local this or that. It has to be a normie like them.” • And as Arnade says, it doesn’t help that the public health establishment has butchered every aspect of pandemic management, including vaccination.

* * *

“Kyle Rittenhouse Jury Begins Deliberations Over Wisconsin Shootings” [Bloomberg]. “Rittenhouse, 18, is charged with counts ranging from reckless endangerment to intentional homicide and could face life in prison without parole if convicted. The August 2020 shootings in Kenosha, Wisconsin, came amid the nationwide social upheaval after the murder of George Floyd and have become a talking point for some conservatives, who claim Rittenhouse as a hero, and some liberals, who hold him up as a reckless vigilante.”

Stats Watch

Industrial Activity: “United States Industrial Production” [Trading Economics]. “Industrial production in the United States rose 1.6 percent from a month earlier in October 2021, rebounding from a 1.3 percent drop in September and beating market expectations of a 0.7 percent increase. It was the biggest monthly gain in industrial activity since March with half of the gain reflecting a recovery from the effects of Hurricane Ida.” • Bad for Biden, obviously.

Manufacturing: “United States Manufacturing Production” [Trading Economics]. “Manufacturing production in the United States increased 4.50 percent year-on-year in October of 2021, following a downwardly revised 4.7 percent increase in September. On a monthly basis, factory activity increased 1.2 percent; excluding a large gain in the production of motor vehicles and parts, factory output moved up 0.6 percent.” • Bad for Biden, obviously.

Capacity: “United States Capacity Utilization” [Trading Economics]. “Capacity Utilization in the United States increased to 76.40 percent in October from 75.20 percent in September of 2021, above forecasts of 75.8 percent.”

Retail: “U.S. Retail Sales” [Trading Economics]. “US retail sales surged 1.7% mom in October of 2021, above an upwardly revised 0.8% rise in the previous month and beating market forecasts of 1.4%. It is the strongest gain since March, as consumers spend more on early holiday shopping and gasoline.” • Bad for Biden, obviously.

Inventories: “United States Business Inventories” [Trading Economics]. “Manufacturers’ and trade inventories in the US rose 0.7 percent from a month earlier in September of 2021, following an upwardly revised 0.8 percent gain in August and in line with market expectations.”

Capital Flows: “United States Net Treasury International Capital Flows” [Trading Economics]. “The United States recorded a capital and financial account surplus of USD 91 billion in August of 2021, the 10th straight month of increases, following an upwardly revised USD 164.1 billion in the previous month. Foreign investors bought USD 30.7 billion in Treasuries in August, compared with an inflow of USD 10.2 billion in July. Meanwhile, foreigners bought USD 79.3 billion of long-term US securities, after purchasing USD 2 billion in the previous month.”

* * *


The thread is above my paygrade, but Waldman is always worth reading.

Retail: “The end of “click to subscribe, call to cancel”? One of the news industry’s favorite retention tactics is illegal, FTC says” [Nieman Labs]. “Discovering they had to get on the phone to cancel a subscription they signed up for online rankled several respondents in our survey looking at why people canceled their news subscriptions. The reaction to the call-to-cancel policy ranged from ‘an annoyance’ and ‘ridiculous’ to ‘shady’ and ‘oppressive.’… The Federal Trade Commission, meanwhile, recently made it clear that it sees the practice as 1) one of several ‘dark patterns that trick or trap consumers into subscriptions’ and 2) straight-up illegal. The FTC vowed to ramp up enforcement on companies that fail to provide an ‘easy and simple’ cancellation process, including an option that’s ‘at least as easy’ as the one to subscribe.” • More generally, since a dark pattern can be recognized — and how not, it was engineered — it can be regulated. More like this, please. Now do Facebook. See NC here in 2019 on dark patterns.

Rail: “World’s first all-electric freight locomotive to be used in western PA” [GoErie]. “Roy Hill, an iron ore mining, rail and port operation in western Australia, was the first announced buyer of Wabtec’s new FLXdrive, a battery-electric locomotive built in Erie. The company’s second order, however, promises to put the innovative new locomotive — which creates a hybrid train when paired with one or more diesel locomotives — on a stage closer to home. Canadian National has announced plans to purchase Wabtec’s 100% battery-electric locomotive to operate on its Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad, which runs from the PIttsburgh suburb of Penn Hills to Conneaut, Ohio. No sale price was announced for the purchase, which was supported in part by a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.” • The locomotive is pictured; it lacks the enormous radiators that today’s EMD and GE diesels use to throw off their excess heat.

Concentration: “Amazon Sued Over Crashes by Drivers Rushing to Make Deliveries” [Bloomberg]. “[Ans] Rana filed a lawsuit in Georgia state court, alleging that Amazon is liable for [his] accident, [after which he will never walk again]. Central to the complaint: the algorithms, apps and devices the company uses to manage its sprawling logistics operation. Amazon says it isn’t legally culpable because the driver worked for Harper Logistics LLC, one of thousands of small businesses launched in recent years specifically to deliver Amazon packages. By focusing on the key role played by the algorithms, Rana’s attorney, Scott Harrison, is looking to prove that the company controls the operation, managing everything from how many packages drivers must deliver to whether they should be kept on or fired. Demonstrating Amazon isn’t just a customer of Harper Logistics, but actually manages it from afar, is critical to any attempt to put the e-commerce giant on the hook for Rana’s medical bills and a lifetime of diminished earnings. Amazon closely tracks delivery drivers’ every move, the lawsuit states, including “backup monitoring, speed, braking, acceleration, cornering, seatbelt usage, phone calls, texting, in-van cameras that use artificial intelligence to detect for yawning, and more.” If drivers fall behind schedule, Amazon employees send text messages “complaining that a certain driver is ‘behind the rabbit’ and needs to be ‘rescued’ to ensure that all the packages on Amazon’s route are delivered in compliance with Amazon’s unrealistic and dangerous speed expectations.”Most commercial vehicle injury lawsuits are settled quietly between attorneys and insurance carriers. Rana’s case stands out for the severity of his injuries and his legal team’s argument that Amazon’s technological hold over its delivery partners makes it culpable in the crash.” • Sounds like a new legal theory of monopoly to me.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 81 Extreme Greed (previous close: 82 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 86 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 16 at 12:07pm.

The Biosphere

“Breakdown: COP’s bare minimum is still a ratchet” [Reuters]. “[T]he real question was not whether China and India would set clearer net zero targets, but whether any sort of agreement was possible at all. The worst-case scenario of no accord was, at least, avoided. Yet financiers at COP26 were antsy about a second Donald Trump presidency in 2024 read more . A U.S. National Intelligence Council note published before the conference foretold a dark future where climate change becomes increasingly destabilising, countries retreat into themselves to help their own populations, and tensions over resources and migration escalate. Efforts by the UK government hosts to keep 1.5 degrees Celsius alive therefore hinged on being able to lay down placeholders that imply future action on the part of big emitters like China and India, rather than explicitly stating what they would be. So instead of a firm pledge by Beijing to move forward a national peak of emissions to 2025 instead of 2030, Beijing and Washington agreed in a Wednesday pact that Beijing would “phase down” coal in the second half of the decade.”

“Ice on the edge of survival: Warming is changing the Arctic” [Associated Press]. “The fate of the Arctic looms large during the climate talks in Glasgow — the farthest north the negotiations have taken place — because what happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic. Scientists believe the warming there is already contributing to weather calamities elsewhere around the world. ‘If we end up in a seasonally sea ice-free Arctic in the summertime, that’s something human civilization has never known,’ said former NASA chief scientist Waleed Abdalati, a University of Colorado environmental researcher. ‘That’s like taking a sledgehammer to the climate system.’ What’s happening in the Arctic is a runaway effect. ‘Once you start melting, that kind of enhances more melt,’ said University of Manitoba ice scientist Julienne Stroeve. When covered with snow and ice, the Arctic reflects sunlight and heat. But that blanket is dwindling. And as more sea ice melts in the summer, ‘you’re revealing really dark ocean surfaces, just like a black T-shirt,’ Moon said. Like dark clothing, the open patches of sea soak up heat from the sun more readily. Between 1971 and 2019, the surface of the Arctic warmed three times faster than the rest of the world, according to the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program.”

“Enormous cost of relocating US climate refugees from coastal town a stark example for the whole world, researchers warn” [Frontiers Science News]. “The town of Tangier on Tangier Island, Chesapeake Bay, has lost 62% of its original habitable upland area since 1967, a new study has found. It will see further decline within the next 15-30 years, leaving hundreds of people without homes and income. The researchers estimate that fully protecting and restoring the town would cost roughly between $250m and $350m. The case of Tangier is a prime example of the consequences of continued sea level rise and human displacement due to the climate crisis…. A prominent example of the consequences of human driven sea level rise is the case of the Tangier in Tangier Island, Chesapeake Bay, US. Tangier Island is one of the last remaining inhabited islands in Chesapeake Bay and is primarily a fishing community. The town’s population has shrunk from more than 1,100 inhabitants in the early 1900s, to 436 in 2020 and consists of three upland ridges: Canton, Main, and West.”

Health Care

Lambert here: If you celebrate Thanksgiving, it’s not too soon to plan. Leaving aside vaccination, masking, and social distancing, let’s talk about another layer of defense: Ventilation. It has struck me powerfully that all the thinking we put into insulating houses can also be applied in ventilating them. (“A banker? Me?” “Yes, Mr. Lipwig.” “But I don’t know anything about running a bank!” “Good. No preconceived ideas.” “I’ve robbed banks!” “Capital! Just reverse your thinking,” said Lord Vetinari, beaming. “The money should be on the inside.” One metaphor I learned is that This Old House is like a chimney: It sucks in air at the bottom, and expels it at the top. Of course, insulation solved; previously, the house had pinned the blower door. But now, reverse your thinking. Don’t simply ventilate the spaces where are guests are gathering; open a window upstairs or in the attic. Create a draft. Just reverse your thinking.

“Displacement ventilation: a viable ventilation strategy for makeshift hospitals and public buildings to contain COVID-19 and other airborne diseases” [The Royal Society]. From the Abtract: ‘Adequate building ventilation in hospitals and public spaces is a crucial factor to contain [Covid]. We argue that displacement ventilation (either mechanical or natural ventilation), where air intakes are at low level and extracts are at high level, is a viable alternative to negative pressure isolation rooms, which are often not available on site in hospital wards and makeshift hospitals. Displacement ventilation produces negative pressure at the occupant level, which draws fresh air from outdoors, and positive pressure near the ceiling, which expels the hot and contaminated air out. We acknowledge that, in both developed and developing countries, many modern large structures lack the openings required for natural ventilation. This lack of openings can be supplemented by installing extract fans.”

“Fauci: Vaccinated families can ‘feel good’ about Thanksgiving gatherings” [The Hill]. “Anthony Fauci said on Monday that families who are vaccinated against COVID-19 can ‘feel good about enjoying a typical’ Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. President Biden’s chief medical adviser warned that the U.S. is still counting tens of thousands of new cases per day and recommended masks in indoor congregate settings. But he said the fully vaccinated should feel comfortable gathering with other vaccinated family and friends in private settings this holiday season. “[I]f you get vaccinated and your family’s vaccinated, you can feel good about enjoying a typical Thanksgiving, Christmas with your family and close friends,’ he said at a Bipartisan Policy Center event. ‘When you go to indoor congregate settings, go the extra mile, be safe, wear a mask,’ he added. ‘But when you are with your family at home, goodness, enjoy it with your parents, your children, your grandparents. There’s no reason not to do that.'” • No mention of ventilation. Of course. What a psycho. And a smarmy one at that. Can’t somebody in the West Wing get him to spend more time with his family?

* * *

“A live attenuated influenza virus-vectored intranasal COVID-19 vaccine provides rapid, prolonged, and broad protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection” [bioRxiv]. It’s a hamster study, so don’t get too excited. From the Abstract: “To overcome the limitations of intramuscular vaccines, we constructed a nasal vaccine candidate based on an influenza vector by inserting a gene encoding the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, named CA4-dNS1-nCoV-RBD (dNS1-RBD). A preclinical study showed that in hamsters challenged 1 day and 7 days after single-dose vaccination or 6 months after booster vaccination, dNS1-RBD largely mitigated lung pathology, with no loss of body weight, caused by either the prototype-like strain or beta variant of SARS-CoV-2. Lasted data showed that the animals could be well protected against beta variant challenge 9 months after vaccination. Notably, the weight loss and lung pathological changes of hamsters could still be significantly reduced when the hamster was vaccinated 24 h after challenge. Moreover, such cellular immunity is relatively unimpaired for the most concerning SARS-CoV-2 variants. The protective immune mechanism of dNS1-RBD could be attributed to the innate immune response in the nasal epithelium, local RBD-specific T cell response in the lung, and RBD-specific IgA and IgG response. Thus, this study demonstrates that the intranasally delivered dNS1-RBD vaccine candidate may offer an important addition to fight against the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, compensating limitations of current intramuscular vaccines, particularly at the start of an outbreak.”

“How Long Will Boosters Last?” [Bloomberg]. “Now on to the question of how long boosters will last. That’s a tough one.” • Oh.

“Why Health-Care Workers Are Quitting In Droves” [The Atlantic]. “She felt like a stranger to herself, a commodity to her hospital.” She felt that way because she is. That’s what selling your labor power for a wage is all about. It’s not a metaphor. More: “[Morning Consult] found that 31 percent of the remaining health-care workers have considered leaving their employer, while the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses found that 66 percent of acute and critical-care nurses have thought about quitting nursing entirely. ‘We’ve never seen numbers like that before,’ Bettencourt told me. Normally, she said, only 20 percent would even consider leaving their institution, let alone the entire profession. Esther Choo, an emergency physician at Oregon Health and Science University, told me that she now cringes when a colleague approaches her at the end of a shift, because she fears that they’ll quietly announce their resignation too. Vineet Arora, who is dean for medical education at University of Chicago Medicine, says that ‘in meetings with other health-care leaders, when we go around the room, everyone says, ‘We’re struggling to retain our workforce.'” • Thinking of the CDC, I wouldn’t say that the “P” segment of the PMC has exactly covered themselves with glory in the pandemic (except for those on the frontlines of patient care). Nor., thinking of hospitals, universities, industry generally, has the “M” segment. If you can’t keep your labor force, shouldn’t you be asking yourself how you run your business?

“Underlying health conditions? That’s almost all of us” [The Sydney Morning Herald]. “In a way, ‘the economy” is really code for movement, the continual displacement of people and things for the purposes of creating profit. Restricting movement – the most powerful weapon against any novel pathogen – impedes the efficient creation of profit. By convincing the bulk of the herd that it is only the weaker animals at the edge that will be picked off by predators, the bulk continues on. No matter that this is not true and that it is a swathe of the bulk itself that is eliminated: population growth will soon fix that in a few years. The essential thing is to keep the herd moving. Several decades of libertarian political philosophy have resulted in the partial destruction of the idea of collective fates and collective action. All that matters is the individual, who is mendaciously instructed they must keep moving and abandon the weak for the sake of ‘the economy’, a construct whose purpose increasingly appears to be to deliver excessive profit to fewer and fewer oligarchs.”

They don’t call airlines common carriers for nothing:

The 420

Screening Room

Our link to a Rembrandt self-portrait educed discussion on his “The Night Watch“:

Chiaroscuro city! Alert reader Eustachedesaintpierre pointed out that there is a movie on this topic, directed by Peter Greenaway: J’Accuse:

J’Accuse is an essayistic film in which Greenaway’s fierce criticism of today’s visual illiteracy is argued by means of a forensic search of Rembrandt’s Nightwatch. Greenaway explains the background, the context, the conspiracy, the murder and the motives of all its 34 painted characters who have conspired to kill for their combined self-advantage. Greenaway leads us through Rembrandt’s paintings into 17th century Amsterdam. He paints a world that is democratic in principle, but is almost entirely ruled by twelve families. The notion exists of these regents as charitable and compassionate beings. But reality was different. Greenaway points out to the viewer all sorts of ‘evidence’ that can be found in the Nightwatch, but which no one ever noticed before. Just as in the acclaimed American show CSI, Greenaway knows how to make the evidence for the murder credible by basing his line of questioning on the facts: historical sources, comparisons with other works of art that contain a secret message and mainly by highlighting numerous details in the painting that were never noticed before or that were simply not correctly interpreted.

The film explains how and why The Nightwatch, Rembrandt’s J’Accuse, is a criticism of Amsterdam’s oligarchy and plutocracy of the Golden Age, a demonstration of the manipulative power of the visual image, and an indictment, which puts all the characters involved in a complex and devious conspiracy to murder. Greenaway himself plays the part of the public prosecutor, but is at the same time himself. In his 21st Century clothes he will interrogate characters from the movie Nightwatching, dressed in historical costumes on their part in the murder conspiracy.

Nothing fundamental will change. (I don’t want to trigger any of YouTube’s tripwires by linking to a full version of the movie, should there be one, and don’t you either.)

Our Famously Free Press

“Why grifting is now in fashion” [Molly Roberts, WaPo]. “Everyone is living their truth, not the truth. Reality is kaput, shared neither in theory nor in practice. So, many have discarded what faith they had in institutions, and they’ve also discarded the idea that institutions can be improved at all. Small victories don’t exist. Only total victory exists, zero-sum. Where this thinking leads is obvious. No point in trying to reform politics — better to rebel for your own regime. No point in trying to root the ugly out of Wall Street — better to invent your own kind of money. No point in trying to improve higher education — better to design your own insular network of alt-academia. But the legitimacy of a home-brewed belief system depends exclusively on the continued belief of those within that system. While to the rest of society, it might as well all be an illusion: non-degree degrees, non-money money, nonwinning winners. The believers might wonder who’s really getting scammed.” • From the people who brought you RussiaGate. Not an ounce of self-awareness; self-criticism isn’t even an option.

Class Warfare

“Acting as if one is Already Free: David Graeber’s Political Economy and the Strategic Impasse of the Left” [Salvage Zone]. “The fundamental unity between Graeber’s politics and his academic research was obvious. He was an anarchist, opposed to the ‘reigning institutions like capital and state’, as he explained in New Left Review in 2002, and he rejected liberalism on that basis. This guided his method as an anthropologist: he approached human societies with what could be called a deep universalism. All humans, in all societies, had the capacity to understand what a good society might be. The societies they built could organise and reorganise themselves in radically different ways, as the evidence of history shows. This was both a moral and a methodological claim, and this belief in the fundamental plasticity of human organisation, around a moral core of human desire for collectivity, runs through all his work. Most of his political commitments clearly ran in the same direction – as in Rojava, where Graeber saw an on-the-ground attempt to found a new kind of egalitarian society, or with Occupy. But Graeber also threw himself wholeheartedly into supporting Jeremy Corbyn and the movement around him – which prioritised occupying state power through elections, while operating in the British Labour Party, a party with, to put it mildly, limited traditions of freewheeling anarchist spontaneity. Graeber came out to bat for Jeremy when he and the movement were at its lowest ebb. Here was an anarchist intellectual urging full-throated support for a social-democratic, electoral party, while taking some of the hardest positions available, directly addressing (for example) the antisemitism crisis in Labour, in a crucial article for Open Democracy. To chart a route between the twin dangers of exaggerating the novelty of the moment on one hand, and its continuity with some implied and implicitly understood ‘business as usual’, means to invite deep reflection about a very real global crisis, and a crisis on and of the Left, without reassuring ourselves of our rectitude, that without betrayals and sell-outs things would certainly have turned out exactly as we planned. If we are to honour Marx’s call for the ‘ruthless criticism of all that is’, which includes our own long-held shibboleths, who better to guide us – in examining treasured fetish-objects – than a radical anthropologist?” • Dense, but very interesting.

“Whistleblower featured in USA TODAY ‘Behind the Blue Wall’ series ousted from police union” [USA Today]. “An Illinois police union on Wednesday ousted from its membership an officer facing criminal charges for exposing a squad car video that showed his fellow officers slapping and cursing a man dying of a drug overdose. The case of Sgt. Javier Esqueda, a 27-year veteran of the Joliet Police Department, was featured in September as the first installment of the USA TODAY series “Behind the Blue Wall,” an investigation involving more than 300 cases of police officers over the past decade who have spoken out against alleged misconduct in their departments. A subsequent story published this week outlined patterns of retaliation against such officers in departments large and small across the country, highlighting how some within law enforcement use internal affairs investigations and other forms of retaliation and intimidation to punish those who break the code of silence.”

If only they could imagine life on Earth!

News of the Wired

I am not feeling wired today. Perhaps tomorrow!

* * *

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 (ChiGal):

ChiGal writes: “Evening sky in Nichols Park. Also noted were a half dozen (“white”) men, mostly older but at least one looked to be in his twenties, drinking or sleeping on benches or the ground and a couple of tents. Sign of the times, they weren’t there 5 years ago.” A lovely sky, beneath which all of us sleep. But I’m surprised Chicago hasn’t made it impossible to lie down on the benches.

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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. Louis Fyne

    Nice gaslighting by Bloomberg re. that Rittenhouse…trial by Twitter had every liberal making him to be a vigilante….when there was literal objective video evidence in the days post-shooting that the prosecution’s case was not a slam dunk for 1st degree murder.

    go check the NC commentariat for the record in the 3 days post Kenosha

    1. lambert strether

      Dude, “go check the NC commentariat” isn’t an actionable work assignment.

      I’m sorry you were triggered by Bloomberg; if you were more familiar with the sute, you’d realize I’ve published a range of opinion on this topic, including links to the evidence at which you vaguely gesture.

      1. Louis Fyne

        1. nothing directed at anyone personally just a rhetorical statement that NC commentariat was in the right direction. And i have no dog in this fight other than everyone is innocent until provem guilty, etc

        2. as my point didn’t come across due to that curtness of the comment….my point is that the Rittenhouse media coverage reflects (again) the worst of contemporary journalism and punditry–reporting selective facts that benefit certain narratives, ascribing motive before the crime scene tape is even removed, stumbling all over each other to publish stories leading people to conclusions that have yet to be determined.

        and now Bloomberg is gaslighting and saying in effect “nope, we didn’t create a tinderbox of readers wanting blood”

        if Rittenhouse get completely acquitted and some stripe mall or innocent person in St Paul or Portland dies in post-verdict violence, the media is just as guilty as the actual perp.

        imo, ymmv, nothing personal against anyone

        1. Kevin

          I agree, any post-Rittenhouse violence will now have the added ingredient of any underage kid thinking that grabbing your gun and heading to Wisconsin must be OK – a lot of adults out there calling this kid a hero – a lot of kids out there would love to be a hero..

          I live in northern Illinois and I love Wisconsin for its skiing/hiking/x-country skiing, but am also aware of the racial issues there. Had lunch once in Mercer Wi. Was told afterwards it’s a hub of white supremicist activity. I did notice a swastika in the bar we peaked in. It was pretty dead when we were there. A great state for Rittenhouse to be tried in (for him).

    2. Wukchumni

      It wasn’t so much a about an under aged baby-faced killer with potential for Nielsen Ratings, but the potential to push the narrative that guns have more rights than humans in our country seemingly only united in the idea that you ought to have a gat or two against an unquenchable foe, us.

    3. Sailor Bud

      Not my fight, but I just assume the kid’s gonna get off scot-free, knowing the United States. I’m surprised anyone gets so heated over it, as if the whole thing is anything but more theater.

      Feel free to rub it in my face if I’m wrong, but here, stated prediction: the kid will be fine. Community service, tops. All the infighting between anyone here or anywhere else is just water.

  2. Another Scott

    RE: electric locomotives

    Wabtec acquired GE Transportation in 2019, so all of those GE locomotives are made by Wabtec now.

  3. Jason Boxman

    So looking at the case count graph, country wide, it appears, at least to me, that we did better with NPIs than we’re doing with vaccination and most NPIs delegitimized by the health establishment as a punishment. On the other hand, Delta only came about later, seeded here by international travel, so these periods in the pandemic aren’t directly comparable. Nonetheless, NPIs seem to have had a beneficial effect… if only we hadn’t discredited them!

    An up-tick into the holiday travel season probably won’t end well this go-around either, sigh.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Me? I’m still wearing those [family blogging] masks when I’m in an enclosed space or outdoors but in close proximity to others.

      As for holiday travel, I’m not planning to leave Tucson. So, if you want to get together for a holiday season, socially distanced meetup, let’s do it right here in the Old Pueblo.

  4. diptherio

    File Under Class Warfare:

    The year in staff resignations: Food industry workers recount what drove them to quit en masse

    “This is not the first time I’ve walked out of a job because somebody did some racist, homophobic, transphobic, misogynistic sh*t. This is just the first time that, one, it wasn’t my idea, and, two, everybody else walked out with me. It’s [familyblogged] up what the CEO and the billionaire investor did, but that I expect. Everybody else’s behavior is just completely baffling to me in the best way possible. It really has made me have a little bit of faith in humanity, honestly. Every butcher shop in New York City reached out to me within like 48 hours and extended discounts, groceries, jobs to me and everybody in the company.

    “Everybody from the Upper East Side has found new employment as far as I know. While we were sitting there [on Friday], I started posting on Instagram what was happening, like, ‘Oh, I may need a new job, if anybody’s looking for a new butcher, holler.’ The production manager from the Meat Hook follows me and she was like, email these two people. I went on Resume.com, and made a, like, 15-minute resume. By Friday afternoon, I had an interview for Tuesday. Me and the head butcher vibed, I killed my cut test, and I have been employed there full-time ever since.”


    1. Kevin

      The benefits of living in a society – where we socialize (old skool style) and know our neighbors.
      Nice to see people doing good.

  5. zagonostra

    “Indictment of Steele dossier source humiliates its media, intel cheerleaders” (podcast) [Aaron Maté, Pushback].

    No the MSM has not been humiliated. A sizable portion of the U.S. public still believes the proven false accusations based on the Steele dossier.

    If you suffer from TDS you need a much stronger intervention to cure you, indeed the condition may be terminal. The MSM did the job that they were hired to do and they will be rewarded. Failing upwards is the new mode of getting ahead.

    How many people have been held to account for the debacle in Afghanistan? The profiteers profited, the dead are dead and the maimed will strive to cope, and the country moves on to the next crisis/circus act. Dis and Mis information was promulgated, job accomplished, MSM moves on to the next urgent mission to “educate” the public.

    I like Aaron Mate, but the problems with the News Media runs so deep no amount of good reporting will change their trajectory.

      1. Sawdust

        The Iraqi WMD hoax just goes to show how effective the “deny, deny, deny, it’s old news.” strategy really is.

  6. Samuel Conner

    re: the capacity utilization statistic,

    clicking through to the item, I can’t tell whether the numerator increased, the denominator decreased, or both, or num increased more than denom did, or decreased less than denom did.

    It would seem to matter which of these alternatives underlies the change in the ‘single-number’ metric.

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          OMG. Poor Paul Street. I had no idea he was so ill. “Fascism” Tourette’s is heartbreaking.

              1. drumlin woodchuckles

                A breakup or a breakup-prevention here would not be so peaceful. Yugoslavia or Myanmar or Ethiopia probably offer a better scenario of a possible future which is desired by at least a few million Americans who think they can achieve total power through the process and from the outcome.

  7. anon y'mouses

    Chris Arnade,
    never lose that patronizing touch, my man.
    it’s a cornerstone of your social class to never consider the rationale, and rationality, that these “others” labor under.
    not wanting to take those shots can be a wise move, regarding risk analysis.
    we’ll find out soon enough. but since the shots don’t prevent transmission, why do you need “normie” advocates for them at all?
    how about this: leave others to work out what is best for their own bodies, and then trust them on that issue.
    to do else is to do what the PMC always do—assume you know better about what others need to do to keep themselves safe in various ways, and how they need to carry on or arrange their lives. and then find ways to hector them into YOUR chosen behavior modifications.
    pointing out that you no longer call them “back row kids” by emphasizing that you still class them as that shows what you actually think just as much as needing to find class-similar actors to convince them to do what they may have already decided is not in their own interests to do. it shows a continuing disrespect for their intellectual capabilities, and an understanding that those like yourself somehow “know better”.
    way to build that camradery!
    a lumpenprole observer

        1. rsm

          Was I back row, right, when they called my name at graduation to give me an award for being so smart, and I made everybody wait while walking the long way from the back row up to the front stage to accept the “smart guy” award?

    1. Noone from Nowheresville

      I’m torn about his post. His audience is, and always has been, a certain segment of the front-row-kids. In general, he tries to make spreadsheet numbers into real humans for his audience. That’s important.

      His post’s observations from a general public health perspective are also important. IM Doc has talked about engaging where people actually are, not talking down to them. This is post’s premise. But I suspect that this observation won’t move many of his audience from their previous held opinions about the jab-in-the-arms drugs and the back-row-kids refusal to take their medicines.

      The post never challenges his audience’s (perhaps his own) underlying assumption that the US is engaging in public health. The data I see after 18 months tells me that whatever overall policy the US is engaged in, it’s not public health.

      The tone of the post makes me believe that Arnade looked at the data from his trusted sources (front-row-kids) and made a determination of what was the right thing to do. Just like his audience did. Did he consider that his trusted source data was corrupted, incomplete or simply hadn’t caught up with the reality on the ground that the back-row-kids seemingly ad hoc information was trying to convey? Did anything the back-row-kids tell him warrant further investigation? The post doesn’t tell us directly but my assumption was no based on the tone.

      So my takeaway was that Arnade was trying to understand how the back-row-kids might be convinced to take their medicine. Talking to people where they are is a good thing. Current US health policy is NOT doing that right now. He gets that right.

      As far as Covid jab-in-the-arms drugs, we are engaged in a global experiment, eventually more cohesive data will become available and I guess we’ll see about a whole lotta’ things beyond just public health.

  8. Michael Hudson

    Re the article about David Graeber and the Labour Party, the explanation is simply that David was a pragmatist. When I was in London to meet with some Labour ministers, David arranged a dinner and introduced me to advisors who were trying to move Labour from the left.
    There was no theory of grand system in this. Just pragmatism. And that’s what OWS was too.
    By “anarchism” in this case, David simply meant working without a formal institutional framework. That’s precisely what made him so popular over so broad a part of the bell shaped curve.

    1. witters

      Thank you for this. I think David was an anthropologist (of the best kind) and then “political.” (After all, politics is a relatively recent arrival in the human zoo, and the reasons it arrives are not the deliverances of implacable “progress” to say the least.)

  9. Jason Boxman

    Expertise is also hemorrhaging. Many older nurses and doctors have retired early—people who “know that one thing that happened 10 years ago that saved someone’s life in a clutch situation,” Cassie Alexander said. And because of their missing experience, “things are being missed,” Artec Durham added. “The care feels frantic and sloppy even though we’re not overrun with COVID right now.” Future patients may also suffer because the next generation of health-care workers won’t inherit the knowledge and wisdom of their predecessors. “I foresee at least three or four years post-COVID where health-care outcomes are dismal,” Cassandra Werry told me. That problem might be especially stark for rural hospitals, which are struggling more with staff shortages and unvaccinated populations.

    About a year ago, an article in the NY Times or where ever discussed this at some length, and I’d been thinking about it for months before; The Establishment is destroying an entire generation of doctors, nurses, CRNAs, techs, and support staff. And that’s not going to end well, and it’s going to particularly hollow out care facilities in parts of the country that liberal Democrats loathe, but also everywhere else.

    Definitely stay healthy for out there for as long as you can!


    1. jsn

      In the same way Boeing monetized the engineering culture that made Boeing great (and safe), the Medical Industrial Complex is monetizing the cultural reproduction that underlies it’s viability.

      Patients are now profit opportunities and illness is the primary product of the Med I C.

      Stay healthy, it is going to be a long and deadly ride down.

    2. IM Doc

      I would like to make sure everyone understands the magnitude of this problem.

      In July or August – do not remember for sure – my local hospital had a media release that only 8% of their staff was unvaccinated.

      Since that time, I have had a literal flood of nurses, RTs, CNAs, and front office staff in my office as patients. Crying, upset, despondent, depressed and suicidal. The problem here has nothing to do with the mandates. This is a moral and spiritual crisis in medicine. It is no longer doable for many people. These people are giving up their careers – they just do not see a viable way forward for themselves and their mental health.

      If you recall, Biden announced the mandates in early September. And this was right around the time that so many of these people started resigning en masse. The hospital could not hire enough replacements with a vaccine mandate so in order to save the hospital, did not require that. A recent article to the public last week announced that currently there are 21% of our employees unvaccinated. So we have gone from 8% about 3 months ago during a mass exodus to 21% now.

      If the hospital even begins to think about enforcing the vaccine mandate, the doors will have to be closed. There just simply are not enough staff. The nursing home is already having to discharge patients because they have no staff.

      Things are very dire indeed. The remaining staff are overwhelmed and becoming very emotional. I have never seen anything like this.

      This is going on all over the fruited plain. All over rural America – and indeed in many large hospitals in the big cities.

      Americans simply do not realize how dire this all is. I fear for the entire system if we have another big wave. And if Biden really clamps down, the rural hospitals for sure are going to be toast.

      I simply cannot understand the whole plan. There is something else going on. It just has to be.

      1. Jen

        I don’t think there is a plan. I don’t think these people (Biden Administration/DC establishment in general) are capable of planning anything, and they are so far removed from the concerns of regular people, they don’t know or care about the fallout as long as it doesn’t impact them.

        My “small liberal arts college” is experiencing a shortage of health care workers, resulting in long waits for appointments at the college health service, or, heaven for-fend, turfing of cases to the local urgent care clinic where some of our undergrads might encounter the unwashed masses. Some have also experienced the potentially serious consequences of not having, forgive me, access to care when they need it, have been deeply unsettled by the experience and are demanding the college “do something” about it.

        My neighbor, a critical care nurse, retired from the local academic health center in the spring. She’d been planning to at some point, but COVID accelerated the process. She told me she still wanted to work, but she’d rather bag groceries. The venom with which this woman, whom I have never known to be anything other than caring and gracious, uttered those words was quite something.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          There may not be a specific plan, but there may be a general goal. That general goal would be to accelerate the mass-dieoff process and make it look like an accident.

          ” It is those treacherous doctors and nurses who disloyally abandoned their posts. That is why there is no hospital system any more and why several million of you will die over the next few years”.

          Jackpot isn’t just a river in Egypt.

      2. Arizona Slim

        IM Doc, I know I’ve said this before, but I will say it again:

        Write a book!

        And here’s something else: Did you know that I have a collection of IM Doc comments in my browser bookmarks? I’m tempted to post my collection — with headlines courtesy of Yours Truly — here on NC.

        1. Mantid

          Slim, like you, I have been saving many comment by our illustrious IM Doc. Check with him and see, but I like your idea. I use his comments and insight to help me clarify and condense arguments about our current (failed) state of Covid response and health care in general.

          Also, in my neck of the woods, education, I am seeing a similar rapid decline via retirement in musical directors (Orchestra, Band, Choir, Stage) in the public schools – as well as the sometimes mentioned burnout among educators in general. I am speaking directly about very experienced educators with 20+ years in education, primary grades through high school. I recently retired and hadn’t really understand how valuable experience is. I mentor younger educators and see first hand their weaknesses primarily in class room management. They “know” their subject but don’t have the experience needed to run a classroom. A sad state of affairs indeed.
          People’s heath and student learning. Of course lots of money to be made with an ill population (big pharma is drooling at the bit) and youngsters growing up with sub par mental skills – they’ll make perfectly fine compliant voters and sheeple.

          1. ProudWappie

            The same thing seems to occur in The Netherlands. Instead of investing in the healthcare system, the capacity has decreased (in the name of efficiency), and now the combination of looming vaccine mandates, poor management, and working conditions, has caused further erosion of numbers.

            And this has been known for years. And now we come close to a stand still, when it comes to health care.

            In education we see some comparable scenarios, lots of people retiring, no influx of people, and poor management driving people away. The PMC should just be removed; let people do their jobs. Unfortunately, the PMC related parties have too much political power.

      3. jo6pac

        It’s all about the Benjamin’s. I read were their making $1 million an hour. Not bad money for the 1% and senior employees. People doing the work just shut up keep doing it. The new Amerika

        Thanks IM Dr..

        1. polar donkey

          Vaccine mandates. Currently, the University of Memphis basketball team requires proof of vaccination or negative covid test to attend game at the arena. They’ve had 4 home games. Attendance down at least 50%. They only did mandate because share arena with an NBA team. Well, after the mandate has hit the university in the wallet, mandate is ending next week for college games. Of course, covid cases are up 50% since last week in our county and average age of a tiger fan who attends the games is about 70 years old. These fans probably need that mandate.

      4. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I simply cannot understand the whole plan. There is something else going on. It just has to be.

        “The Plan” could be emergent, based on the class positions (incentives) of the various actors. “And the war came,” as Lincoln said.

        1. flora

          “War game” did you say? See the JHU 2017 hosted “SPARS pandemtic 2025 -2028” war game. Might explain the international lockstep nature of the response.
          / ;)

          From Johns Hopkins University:


          This site has a SCRIBD copy of the full JHU SPARS paper.


        2. flora

          There is a “plan” that was developed in 2017 under the aegis of Johns Hopkins University. Everyone in charge internationally seems to be sticking to that plan. But, as you quote Lincoln, “And then the war came.”

          I think the problem is that no plans have been adjusted for the on-the-ground real event situations that run counter to the “plan”. NC has some sport with CEOs who know spreadsheets but not how the actual product their company makes is made, don’t know what’s important in the making if it can’t be quantified on a spreadsheet. Blinded by spreadsheet thinking. I think we see something similar here. My 2 cents.

          1. ambrit

            I keep learning anew every ‘news cycle’ that what I once laughingly promoted as “conspiracy theories” turn out to be, if not “conspiracies,” then, at the least, coalescing class warfare “culture objects.”
            If I believed in a Supreme Diety, I would have some serious reservations about his/her/it’s goals and aims.
            I’m leaning towards reappraising Mr. Gibson’s formulation of “The Jackpot” as not so much speculative prediction, as a ‘gamed out’ history, gleaned from observations in the past of ongoing processes.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      Medical care community attrition and deletion is one more tool in the Jackpot toolbox. Or one could say . . one more carefully engineered Jackpot filter to be forced through.

    1. lambert strether

      If I don’t get some basic respect for the rule that you can’t just dump a YouTube link in comments without giving people a reason to watch it, and in some detail too, I’m going to start deleting all YouTube links, including thread responses. I didn’t think much of Watt4Bob’s comment either.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Impossible to know in advance, obviously, and the residue of garbage isn’t worth the occasional gem. Further, “Just leave the site and watch this video!” is a classic and oft-repeated move for CT, and there’s no reason at all to open the door to that. Finally, it’s a basic courtesy to readers. If you want a link dump, there are plenty of them: Reddit, Facebook, Twitter. This isn’t a board. It’s a blog, and moderated.

            1. Yves Smith

              Yes, you asked for it. Challenging the moderators when they have had to repeat basic site rules (when readers are also exhorted to read our policies) is a reader assisted suicide note. We are only too happy to oblige. You’ve separately demonstrated you lack the acumen to contribute much/anything of value.

    2. Andy

      It’s not a bad take but I took a look at his other videos and I’m disappointed that, like so many commentators who have sensible things to say about many issues, he turns out to be ‘blue no matter who’ guy who seems to think the D party is a workers party and that it genuinely represents a robust alternative to the absolutely appalling Republicans.

      I am reminded of Julius Nyerere’s response to the accusation that Tanzania is a one-party state:
      The United States is also a one-party state but, with typical American extravagence, they have two of them.

  10. Lee

    I need to vent about ventilation.

    I have just spent much of the last 5 hours, most of it on hold listening to godawful soundtracks, in my attempt to get answers regarding ventilation and other safety measures at facilities where I am to have some up close and personal diagnostic tests.

    “Almost everyone here is vaccinated,” was among the first things a nurse said in attempting to allay my concerns. The limited protective effects of the vaccine, particularly as regards older patients such as myself, were discussed. We shared our mutual disappointment about their not performing as well as originally advertised.
    As for ventilation, she didn’t know much. Why should she if it isn’t much discussed? She was pretty sure that because it was a well equipped hospital, albeit an old one, that airborne transmission of disease was being appropriately addressed. Okay, I guess I’ll just have to go with that. Wish me luck.

    One facility down, one more to go. I’ll take that task on tomorrow.

    I don’t know if it has already been posted here but I did manage to find that the CDC has what seem in my inexpert opinion to be comprehensive guidelines on ventilation.

    Infection Control Appendix B. Air

    1. shinola

      My ex father-in-law worked in the HVAC biz (spec’d out cooling towers – those big AC units usually mounted on the roof of a multi-story office buildings) retiring in 1982. He claimed that modern HVAC design was mostly about the H&AC (heating & air conditioning) in the most cost-of-energy efficient way; very little consideration was given to the V(entilation) part. In his not-so-humble opinion, this practice led to what became known as “sick building syndrome”.

  11. Ranger Rick

    “Technological prison” puts me in a philosophical mood. What would define the bars of your cell? I suppose that if one made the cage large enough, you’d never notice you were inside it.

  12. Carolinian

    There’s another movie named J’Accuse (French title) but called An Officer and a Spy for English distribution. Hardly anyone here has likely heard of it since no American distributor would pick up this recent Roman Polanski film, even for streaming. It can be seen but by means I won’t go into.

    Polanski’s film is actually about the Dreyfus affair.

    1. David

      It’s a really excellent film, and I would encourage everyone to go and see it. It’s very faithful to actual events, and is, in effect, a kind of detective story. Lt-Col Picquart, the head of Military Intelligence, splendidly played by Jean Dujardin, follows a trail of clues to unmask the real spy, as actually happened. The title, incidentally, comes from a newspaper article by the great French novelist Émile Zola, in the form of an open letter to the President, “accusing” the Army of a miscarriage of justice and a cover-up of the real criminal. Zola was put on trial and convicted for the article, though he fled to England to escape prison.The trial is shown in the film. In the end, of course, he (and Dreyfus himself) were vindicated. It’s also interesting that, whilst the film makes it clear that Dreyfus had justice on his side, it does’t paint him as a hero: in real life he was apparently a rather unsympathetic individual.

      1. Basil Pesto

        when I first heard “Polanski Dreyfus film” was in the works I was very keen indeed to see it but yes, his second belated cancellation means I haven’t had the chance yet. Must track it down.

  13. Skip Intro

    We can see that the CDC model predictions are diverging from reality, but with counts staying within the wide error bars, we can’t say the models aren’t working. I think taking the rate of change of cases in model and reporting would reveal problems with the model (or reality) a lot sooner.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > we can’t say the models aren’t working.

      But we can say that reality is diverging from the model average (as I thought my careful qualifications had communicated).

      1. PlutoniumKun

        This week, the Irish science advisory body (NPHET) more or less admitted that its models were wrong – they grossly underestimated the rates currently surging through the country. They are saying that they overestimated the impact of voluntary behavioural changes (it seems they’ve never gone to an Irish pub with people who’ve been denied pints for months), but I think its as much to do with a failure to account for seasonal factors. The surge in Europe to me seems to be following the advance of colder weather.

      2. Skip Intro

        Indeed, your qualifications were appropriate and communicated your rational caution in not yet calling the model broken, since the data coming in remain within the model error bars. I was suggesting an alternate way to plot the model results and data, using the rate of change in cases from both. This would, I suggest, reveal a divergence, since the trends are in different directions, and the error range might not be able to cover that.

  14. Andy

    “World’s first all-electric freight locomotive”

    How does this locomotive compare to electric-powered freight locos that get their juice from an overhead catenary?

    “The company’s second order, however, promises to put the innovative new locomotive — which creates a hybrid train when paired with one or more diesel locomotives — on a stage closer to home.”

    Oh, I see. It sounds like a niche product for railways that rely primarily on diesel-electric locomotives to move their trains. Can’t really see battery powered locos alone hauling heavy freight trains over long distances.

    1. upstater

      Note that the large “radiators” or bulges on the top of the carbody of a locomotive are sometimes dynamic braking cooling grids. On downward grades, for instance, polarity is reversed on the traction motors and the regenerated electricity goes into the cooling grids (much like resistance heating on a space heater).

      On electric locomotives with overhead catenary this regenerative braking is fed back into the supply in the overhead wires. IIRC, the Swiss Federal Railway (SBB) supplies something like 15% of its total electricity with regenerative braking. 95% of Switzerland’s railways are electrified. Note that in the US the only significant railroad electrification is Amtrak’s Acela corridor (500 of 140,000 route miles of railroads). There are a very few other tiny examples.

      These hybrid or battery locomotives are using the dynamic braking energy to recharge batteries. I wouldn’t call these the same thing as an “electric locomotive”. There were versions of these things built 15 years ago. They flopped.

      This project is some sort of greenwashing by the railroad industry. “LOOK AT HOW MUCH WE CARE!”. Production of EPA Tier 4 diesel electric locomotives is virtually nothing. Class 1 railroads in the US are having older 1990s era locomotives, not subject to the same Tier 4 EPA emission rules, rebuilt at greater cost than a brand new Tier 4 locomotive to avoid stricter emission standards. Plus, because of precision scheduled railroading, the class 1s have a third of their locomotive fleets in storage instead of moving freight. They drove away huge volumes if business to trucking companies, which now have no drivers.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        A hybrid dieselectric locomotive pair? A bi-locomotive? It seems more energy saving than just blowing off the energy of motion through a reverse polarity heat-blaster.

  15. Carla

    Re: Retail surge mom in Oct. Lambert comments: “Bad for Biden, obviously.” Oh. That must be why the White House is bragging about it, then…

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I’m pretty sure its snark and a riff on Atrios’ “good news for the McCain campaign”.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > snark and a riff on Atrios’ “good news for the McCain campaign”.

        Yep. Repeated for good measure. There’s also “good news for the Republicans” (like, everything, though not so much now).

  16. Wukchumni

    After a Covid respite of 3 years, we are headed to our first sizable event with around 175-200 peeps in Saline Valley hot springs in Death Valley NP for the Thanksgiving pot luck held there. Last time we went we were coming off a kayak trip on the Colorado River and bought a cake and pie in Boulder City, and when we got to where the grub was dropped off, there were 3x 10 foot long tables laboring under the weight of just deserts, to give you an idea.

    The main event is soaking in the hot springs, and you’ll find us in the Wizard or Volcano pools, which hold around 10 people each. The conversation is amazing with no distractions aside from maybe an F-18 screaming by a few hundred feet overhead on occasion to get a better glimpse of those people attired in birthday suits in what might be misconstrued as a group baptism.

    It feels weird being naked in a National Park, they’d arrest me toot suite if I strolled to the Sherman tree in Sequoia NP without a stitch on surrounded by paparazzi documenting me emulating Lady Godiva sans horse.


    Ventilation is no biggie as there aren’t any buildings there aside from the bathrooms…

    Among the few hundred so gathered, not one penny will pass hands, money having no value there.

    The road to nirvana requires driving 52 miles on a crushed lava and dirt road with rocks of various sizes scattered akimbo, staying especially alert for pointy ones that can be tire killers-as well as not going too fast which is also hell on rubber. (we carry the usual spare and 2x used tires on rims as a precaution)

    Its also pretty washboardy for long sections as an added bonus.

    The other way to get there is via plane (‘Chicken Strip’ is the funny named airstrip) or helicopter, and of course Wonderhussy has pulled the latter off in her quest to get into hot water…

    Secret Hot Springs Emergency Chopper Mission

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Re2zVndoW9Y (14:05)

    1. ambrit

      Sorry Wuk, but scuttlebut has it that your “better half” would be Lady Godiva, and you would be the horse. Hmmm…
      Some “candid shots” of a big wet group of naked bathers all wearing N95 masks would be quite the ’cause celebre.’

      1. Wukchumni

        The Wizard pool holds roughly 5 people on each side and after dark bats will make touch and go landings on the hot water in between us in search of flies or other food.

        The feel is that of being on an aircraft carrier…

    2. Carolinian

      I hate washboardy. Try driving around Monument Valley if you hate your car’s suspension and seek revenge.

      A Forest Service worker I know said the trick is to drive as fast as safely possible to smooth out the corduroy texture. But she would pursue this method in government owned trucks.

      1. Synoia

        Aha! Here I an some expertise, as I have dived thousands of miles on washboard (Corrugated) roads in Africa.

        Speed. It works. Oncoming traffic is the biggest risk.

        Or as my Irish friend said “D, do you know you are doing 65 MPH on a dirt road?” I must admit I was much younger then.

        However there was no traffic south of Lake Kariba at that time.

  17. David

    I was struck by a couple of sentences from the Arnade extract you quoted:

    “What they all have in common is a distrust of certain authority. Mostly that means academics and bureaucrats who do things they can’t fully understand, see the value in, or ever aspire to. Like what do you actually do? Like what do you build? People pay you for that?”

    I think this gets to the heart of a much more general problem in the western world as a whole. In the past, there was an assumption that senior and distinguished people knew things about stuff. Engineering companies, hospitals, universities, research laboratories, even banks, were run mostly by people who had come up through the ranks and knew what they were talking about. Now they are run by “managers”, who, in a fine piece of irony, often have extensive paper qualifications in “management”, as a result of being taught by other “managers”, but can’t actually change a light-bulb without hiring a consultant to do it. By contrast, the same “managers” are usually busy getting rid of people who actually know stuff.

    In recent years, this has started to become obvious in the level of competence on public display, and the performance of the organisations themselves, whether public or private. And this in turn means that people who do consider that they know stuff are among the fiercest critics of government (as here) and the strongest opponents of what government wants them to do.If you’re a farmer, a small businessman, a nurse, plumber or a decorator, (like many of the protesters in the Gilets jaunes episode, incidentally) you actually have to know your stuff, or you will go bankrupt, or people will suffer. The paramedic has knowledge that the hospital manager doesn’t and cannot have. (It’s always worth asking big and self-important people in “management” whether they could do your job, because you could almost certainly do theirs). In the end, it’s about real knowledge and capability as opposed to credentials. A trained and experienced plumber, for example, is actually better qualified than someone with an MBA. A car mechanic has a better claim to being genuinely qualified than someone with a Master’s degree in Cultural Studies (they exist, I’ve met them) who’s paid a fortune as the Senior Deputy Assistant Vice-Dean of Student Problems at a University.

    It’s interesting that the makers of the French Revolution in 1789 were not the intellectuals or the lawyers, but shopkeepers and tradesmen, exasperated beyond measure by the corruption and mismanagement of the country by the aristocracy – the credentialed class of the day. I wonder if the impetus for political change in the next few years isn’t going to come from such people once again.

    1. Skip Intro

      The Peter Principle (surprisingly not named for Buttigieg) has always been an individual-based phenomenon. But replicated systemically, as it has been, by a general buoyancy for glib failures and phonies, it becomes a systemic failure. I wonder if we can blame it on lead in the drinking water, like Rome. Pass the brioche!

      1. Duke of Prunes

        I don’t think it’s just the Peter Principle. I’ve also observed a dynamic where MBAs hire MBAs because only another MBA is qualified. How would I know? Well, I’m an MBA after all. My suspicion is that MBAs prefer hiring other MBAs because, unlike someone with actual skills (ok, I have met a handful of MBAs who know what they are doing, but they typically worked for a while in the industry before getting the degree), a newly hired MBA fully buys into the “baffle them with BS” brilliance of all.

      2. expr

        The Peter Principle was (IIRC) that people are promoted to their level of incompetence at which point they stay. Now it seems that they keep getting promoted.

    2. steve

      My house painter had a PhD in Horticulture and was formerly a Department Head at the local University. The rot has been eating or driving away the talented ones, in all fields, professional and blue collar, for awhile now.

      1. Joe Renter

        I am a painter and I have a masters in Navel-Gazing and a PHD in Hard knocks. Those only cost me to not have a retirement income other than a small SS income. I think I might have to learn the Thai language for an exit strategy.
        Kids, save your money or invest in your consciousness.

    3. chuck roast

      Any of the fellow travelers with a strong connection to New England should scroll down and click on Walking America: Springfield, Chicopee and Holyoke. Todays must read.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Like what do you actually do? Like what do you build? People pay you for that?”

      I believe that phrase for that sort of work is “email job.”

      > the makers of the French Revolution in 1789 were not the intellectuals or the lawyers

      I don’t think that’s entirely true. Robespierre was a provincial lawyer, as I believe were many of his comrades. I do agree the intellectuals didn’t make the revolution, not in the slightest.

      1. Skip Intro

        That’s an interesting historical observation. I wonder if Robespierre made the revolution, or got in front of the mob and organized them into a legalistic reign of terror. It would be a cautionary tale if the revolution was captured and corrupted by their PMC.

      2. David

        I’m talking about 1789. Robespierre and others came later, and, in some interpretations, hijacked the Revolution.

  18. newcatty

    The cage was built a while ago. Tech communications and global dependent supply chains enabled by tech improved ships and logistics are results of it. The addiction to using social media to have connection to others. Texting instead of phone calls. Texting instead of even emails among friends and family. Uh, reading blogs for news and reflection.

    Our modern cages are ubiquitous. Tech prisons are exemplified by the tolerance of slave conditions in the, now, well known warehouses of a giant corporation. Agricultural workers living in slum like housing with their families or working in processing plants or in huge “farms”. The remaining miners working in coal and other mines. Kids are in cages in schools that literary look like and act like prisons. Mostly found in lower economic class ones. Office lower management and office workers working in cubicles. Countless low wage employees working in retail, food production, grocery stores, custodian night time jobs, etc.

    Now, the workers that were once upon a time seen as among the most caring and compassionate people ( most were and are) nurses, aides and docs are being squeezed by the hospital, clinical and other providers of “health care”. The hospitals, especially, are now cages. Elderly, especially those not affluent, are warehoused in nursing home prisons. The caregivers, of course, are too. A huge “employer ” of people in this country volunteer to work in military cages. Last, but not least, are the millions of incarcerated people, and their “guards” who live in actual prisons and jails. The individual as supreme, is propagandized in this society. As has been noted by many, the common good and the commons themselves, hardly exist. Our tolerance of hungry, homeless people . Reports of college kids in CA sleeping in vans or cars. I will stop now. Enough of a rant. I am going to go sit on our deck and be grateful for the trees, wildflowers and sky.

    1. Petter

      Reading your post brought to mind Michel Foucault and his book Discipline and Punish. He noted the architectural similarities of schools, prisons and hospitals in the nineteenth century and their function as agents of disciplinary power. The goal of disciplinary power is obedient subjects using discipline technologies and surveillance technologies (Bentham’s Pantopticon a model for the latter.)
      I think it was in his first volume of The History of Sexuality that he wrote, in regards to Power, that Power tries to hide itself, but in the end it comes down to bodies acting on bodies – “they’re coming to take you away, a ha.”
      From Key Concepts|Foucault News:

      Discipline is a mechanism of power which regulates the behaviour of individuals in the social body. This is done by regulating the organisation of space (architecture etc.), of time (timetables) and people’s activity and behaviour (drills, posture, movement). It is enforced with the aid of complex systems of surveillance. Foucault emphasizes that power is not discipline, rather discipline is simply one way in which power can be exercised. He also uses the term ‘disciplinary society’, discussing its history and the origins and disciplinary institutions such as prisons, hospitals, asylums, schools and army barracks. Foucault also specifies that when he speaks of a ‘disciplinary society’ he does not mean a ‘disciplined society’.

  19. anonymous

    That article by Chris Arnade, talking about how he’s doing his best to push vaccination to the people he comes across in his treks across the part of America that hasn’t done well over the past 20 years, despite already knowing it’s useless, and while visibly and clearly suffering from Bell’s Palsy, which he already knows he got from the vaccine has got to be the mood of the moment. Hands down.

    I like Chris Arnade and his work and I wish there was a way to sit with him and hold his hand, or give him a hug, and let him quietly work through how thoroughly he was screwed over by the group of “front row kids” he thought he was a member of. I hope one of the people he interviews pushes through and does it for me. Because they all know exactly what happened, exactly, even if they don’t have the proper fancy book-words for it – and he’s the one who is still working through this. He probably will be for a long, long time.

    May Chris Arnade and all the people he interviewed be well, and stay well.

  20. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Senior administration officials are urging lawmakers to disregard the budget office assessment saying it is being overly conservative in its calculations…

    When the most expensive line item in your “build back better plan,” by a lot, is a tax CUT for wealthy coastal property owners, big spenders and donors–more expensive than any of your supposedly family-life-transforming social spending–you really don’t want to have to ‘splain the largesse.

    And you really don’t want someone spilling the beans about how much it’s gonna cost, if you’re always pleading poverty when something that everybody would benefit from like national “healthcare” comes up.

    1. John Steinbach

      Washington Post has story today about tax cut. Comment after comment supports it. Massacre in 2022 & 24

  21. Soredemos

    “Greenaway’s fierce criticism of today’s visual illiteracy”

    When I see pretentiousness like this, I start to understand the impulse to defund liberal arts departments.

      1. witters

        Perhaps (hopefully) the reference is to the author of the sentence, not Greenaway (and what a lovely name is ‘Greenaway’!).

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Do you feel that visual illiteracy is a good thing? If so, why? Personally, I feel that the ability to decode visuals should be spread as widely as possible, in order to empower the populace….

      1. Eustachedesaintpierre

        The Arts Council in the UK basically supports a huge PMC of administrators which is something I discovered on a website that lists hundreds of Art related jobs of which hardly any involve actually doing it & those that do feature are mainly poorly paid. These are the people who decide who gets the grants which produces most of the double post modernist stuff that gets dumped in areas where they are generally not appreciated – they know what’s best for us.

        A few years ago the residents of a large concrete jungle in London had the effrontery to want to sell a Henry Moore in order to provide the estate with a children’s playground of which there was none, which resulted in much hysteria within the society dedicated to worship of the artist – I never did find out the result of this affair.

        Personally I don’t care about what turns someone on visually, as I believe it’s up to the individuals particular taste, but I don’t like the imposition from above. My little old Gran had a repro painting hanging over her fireplace which she loved that was once covered in a documentary which basically relegated it to the chocolate box cover dustbin. I asked why she liked it to which she replied that the people featured were having fun on their day off. Then I remarked that it was much more beautiful than the reality would have been, but she countered me by saying that the painter was representing how they felt at that moment in time.

        I decided to research the work & discovered that she had a big point as most of those pretty girls were Parissiene laundresses who only got Sunday afternoons off when they headed off to the Moulin Gallette as did Renoir who painted them. I found a few photos of the reality that lacked any feeling whatsoever & stories of some of those present as in one young girl who died of smallpox whose medical care the artist paid for, The clincher for me was the discovery that my Gran who knew nothing of these details had as young girl been in service with likewise only Sunday afternoons off, but working not as a laundress but as seamstress which might explain her intuition & Renoir like twisted arthritic fingers. She changed my view of a painting & artistic things in general far more than any Art critic ever has.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Is that painting the Dance de le Moulin de la Galette, by any chance? If so, your grandmother had excellent taste.

          It goes back to 1975, but Tom Wolfe was prescient in his book From Bauhaus to Our House about the manner in which both modernists and post modernists deliberately tried to enhance their own prestige by decrying ‘popular’ art and design and persuading educated folks that if something is pleasing to the eye or ear, then it is almost by definition, somewhat naff. Its another con by the upper middle classes to create artificial gatekeeper roles that only they understand.

          1. Eustachedesaintpierre

            Yes PK – in some ways the only thing now that isn’t classed as Art, is what was always considered as being such.

            I once applied for an Arts grant but couldn’t come up with an artists statement & didn’t want to use the ones that are provided on the web to copy for that purpose. I then remembered Dega’s reply to being pestered for a statement which was ” I paint “, so I answered with ” I sculpt ” which was the reason I was unsuccessful, as those 2 words were described as inadequate in the letter they sent back – lots of Loyalist pipe bands got theirs though as you can check – goodness knows what they came up with :)

      2. Basil Pesto

        the problem with this line of thinking, in my opinion, is that it casts, or runs the risk of casting, visual art predominantly as something to be decoded, something that can be understood via semiotics (which I would agree can be a useful and empowering skill) rather than something to be enchanted by. Joyless goons have already tried to undermine literature in this way (“what is the author really trying to say?”, “have you noticed the preponderance of phallic motifs in [name literally any author]”). That way leads to Freudianisms and other such nonsense (like, that stuff would be funny, if people didn’t take it so utterly seriously)

        1. Acacia

          If you have some data to support this position, please share, because much of the current research on visual literacy seems to conclude the opposite. E.g.:

          Science, engineering, technology and mathematics (STEM) courses rely extensively on visuals in lectures, readings and homework to improve knowledge. However, undergraduate students do not automatically acquire visual literacy and a lack of intervention from instructors could be limiting academic success.

          Krejci, Sarah E., et al. “Visual literacy intervention for improving undergraduate student critical thinking of global sustainability issues.” Sustainability 12.23 (2020): 10209.

          1. Yves Smith

            I’m not sure key aspects of the sort of visual literacy that the the STEM disciplines like can be taught, or alternatively, if there is prejudice that inhibits it from being taught.

            One critical element in many disciplines is 3D visualization. Women typically score badly on that (yours truly does not, perhaps due to having engineers on both sides of my family). The fact that women are stereotyped at being horrible at it (mean aptitude is something like 25th percentile v 75th percentile for men) could seriously inhibit women being treated as trainable.

            1. Acacia

              While these stereotypes exist, in practice the pedagogical setting is going to be coed, even in small discussion sections with TAs. The “intervention” required will thus be for both women and men. The take away for me here is that instructors should not take it for granted that students — regardless of gender — have high visual literacy, and that some time in a course needs to be allocated for explaining how to parse visual data or “read” images.

              On the basis of years spent teaching in a university, I submit that some of these skills can indeed be taught. It would be a pity to assume they cannot, falling back on the stereotype.

              In any case, returning to the original point of dispute, I would be interested to hear if research has been done to demonstrate that the 18-24 demographic in particular has high visual literacy, because that has not been my experience.

              1. Yves Smith

                Sorry, that is not what I hear from grad students in the field.

                Math particularly pure math, is still very male dominated. Our Andrew Dittmer redesigned the freshman calculus course at Harvard and taught math in Cambridge public schools as a sideline. In high school, girls were very much discouraged as far as being good at math was concerned. At best, it was OK if it was just “Oh, I’m AP material and so clearly generally smart”. But it was uncool to be studious about math. Cathy O’Neil, aka mathbabe, author of Weapons of Math Destruction, has gone on about the hostile treatment she got as a math PhD at Princeton. She was basically told she should be making babies instead. She switched to Harvard.

                Oh, and she found Larry Summers to be far more willing to treat her as an equal than most of her profs (who did treat a lot of male PhD candidates better than women). ‘Nuff said.

                  1. Yves Smith

                    Did you miss that three D visualization is a big deal in most STEM disciplines, and we’re getting hand waves that it must be taught? Seriously?

                    I have no idea how “visual literacy” is supposed to be taught or learned, but you are well into the terrain of Making Shit Up with your assertions. All you have is a paper saying it ISN”T taught. Did you expert have anything positive to contribute?

                    In the pre-computer days, I had to do geometry proofs by hand, draw graphs for some math and science classes, and even at McKinsey, draw charts for the VA department to turn into visuals. I suspect that gave kids in my age group a grounding most kids now don’t have.

  22. The Rev Kev

    “Underlying health conditions? That’s almost all of us”

    A few months ago when they were still reporting deaths and the like with vaccinated people, they would almost always end with the phrase they they had ‘underlying health conditions’. It became a standing joke with my wife and I when hearing these reports. But we don’t hear about it these days as they are just not reporting much about these events anymore. And of course if a double-vaccinated person falls down dead of Coronavirus in the middle of a forest, do they make a sound? But a message that became plain to understand was that governments – Federal & State – along with high members of the medical establishment decided that people will have to accept a high annual death toll for the good of the economy – the new patriotism.

  23. Sailor Bud

    Sailor Bud’s Simplified Political Policy Chart

    Policy: What do we do about problem X?

    -1 Make the problem worse. Burn, baby, burn!
    0 Problem? What?
    0.5 Half-ass solution.
    1 We do something.
    2 We do some things.

  24. Wukchumni

    I wasted good time that can never be reclaimed in aspirations that Alex Jones would spontaneously combust into flames on tv one fine day, until I realized he was ire-proof and nothing could faze him, but that was then and this is now and to be bankrupted over claiming the mass murder of mostly six year olds was false and didn’t happen, is a fitting ending for a conspiracy theororist who might just blow up real good!

    Farm Film Report2

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHkvD7-u7y8 (1:27)

  25. LawnDart

    …”highlighting how some within law enforcement use internal affairs investigations and other forms of retaliation and intimidation to punish those who break the code of silence.”


    IA is kinda like Human Resources: they are looking out for the company (they are the political police, if you will).

    Before I entered LE, “Charlie Brown” (aka “Peanuts”) said to me: “So, XX, I hear you’re thinking of becoming a cop. Are you sure about that? Don’t get me wrong, you’re a good guy, and I think you’d be a damn good cop, but if you become a cop, remember that all good cops have a kilo of coke stashed in the wheel-well of their car. Remember that.”

    Funny, especially how I hadn’t mentioned to anyone that I had submitted an application to take the entry test. But it was real good advice.

    For all of NCs coverage of CALPERS, Covid, political intrigues and such, now you touch upon something that I am intimately familiar with… …the best commentariat, huh?

    1. ambrit

      My Dad told the story of when he was a tiddler in London and found some money on the street. He went up to the local Bobby and turned it in. The copper told Dad the Rules of Posession. First, never keep anything that can be identified, such as watches, rings, etc. Second, always keep money. It generally cannot be identified. The nice coppers you turn it in to will keep it themselves, so… Dad came from a rough part of London back around the War time.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > especially how I hadn’t mentioned to anyone that I had submitted an application

      The reminds me of the story of a guy who was thinking of running for state office as a Democrat, and one evening got a friendly call from a totally unknown person explaining how much money he would have to raise, and how….

  26. allan

    Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen On Inflation, Congress, And The Debt Limit [The 1A]

    12 minute audio of an interview with Janet Yellen.
    Completely terrifying. Deer in the headlights would be charitable.

    And she keeps on referring to the supply side meltdown as matters of the private sector,
    as if the monetary and regulatory (sic) policies she implemented for 7 years at the Fed
    had no role in the financialization and concentration of what is left of the US economy.

  27. The Rev Kev

    “The Nightwatch” is a magnificent painting which I was lucky enough to have seen once in Amsterdam. I know that that painting had the leading citizens of the day painted in showing their readiness but to tell you the truth, all I really see is what was once known as a Mexican Fire Brigade.

    And may I say that ChiGal’s “Evening sky in Nichols Park” is a really great shot.

    1. John Zelnicker

      Rev – I too, saw Night Watch in Amsterdam in the summer of 1971 when I backpacked across Europe. I still have my photo of it somewhere.

      It is a truly magnificent painting. The photo above is good but just can’t quite do it justice.

    2. Tom Collins' Moscow Mule

      Just because . . . . one thought begets another in a flowing stream of consciousness . . . . where laughter and amusement are directed at the endless, fluid synchronicities that appear unhindered and uninterrupted in this short dance that is life . . . . King Crimson, “The Nightwatch” . . . .

      “Shine, shine, the light of good works shine
      The watch before the city gates depicted in their prime
      That golden light all grimy now
      Three hundred years have passed
      The worthy Captain and his squad of troopers standing fast

      The artist knew their faces well
      The husbands of his lady friends
      His creditors and councilors
      In armor bright, the merchant men . . . .”

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > ChiGal’s “Evening sky in Nichols Park” is a really great shot.

      Every time I have seen a sky like that I haven’t had a camera. Which tells you I am not the photographer I should be!

  28. drumlin woodchuckles

    Here is something from the “world news subreddit” . . .

    ” Satellites discover huge amounts of undeclared methane emissions. “The greenhouse gas, which is 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide, is leaking from gas pipelines, oil wells, fossil fuel processing plants and landfills all over the world.”

    Here is the link to the article.

    I wonder how all the methane from these sources compares to all the methane from CAFO livestock?
    If the CAFO livestock methane is a significant percent of all the methane emitting, then it too needs addressed. If it is derisory in comparison to methane from gas pipelines, oil wells, fossil fuel processing plants, landfilss, and also billions of microleaks and nanoleaks from several billion gas appliances, then the focus on livestock is some kind of cynical hidden-agenda diversion.

    So it would be nice to know what the comparative numbers are.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > oil wells and landfills

      The landfill equivalent for “leave it in the ground” is recycle it at the source (i.e., don’t send it out of your state to be buried elsewhere).

      On oil wells, we ran a story I’m too lazy to find, IIRC about how some local gentryperson in, IRRC, was buying up clapped out fracking sites for whatever trickle of oil he could get out of them, and all of them were leaking methane like crazy. Totally under the radar, as far as the business world goes. We could buy him out and plug the wells, but n-o-o-o-o-o….

      The kicker is, the stock for his company was worth, like, $30 million. So, for what by oligarch standards is chump change, this guy is creating enormous damage.

  29. Tom Stone

    As to Fauci being a Psycho….
    Nothing new about that,it became clear during the AIDS epidemic that he was always ready to take the responsibility but never the blame.
    He’s lasted a long time because he is totally amoral,ruthless and clever with an unerring sense of which ass to fasten his lips to and who to knife in the back.
    The stench of his moral corruption,the foul depravity of his actions and his pious hypocrisy have seldom been surpassed.
    May he spend eternity listening to “Achey Breakey Heart ” while being gang raped by diseased banana slugs.

    1. LawnDart

      Gang raped by diseased banana slugs? Aren’t slugs kinda limp and have tiny… parts..?

      …what inspired you? His slimy trail?

  30. cm

    I’m shocked that I didn’t know this quote from Karl Marx:

    “Under no pretext should arms and ammunition be surrendered; any attempt to disarm the workers must be frustrated, by force if necessary”

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      Stalin sure didn’t follow this when the Soviet-aided (and, to some extent, controlled) Republican government disarmed anarchists in the Spanish Civil War.

  31. Tom Stone

    Lambert,you may not be aware that Vermont was the first “Constitutional carry” State.
    If you can legally possess a firearm you can carry it concealed, no license or training required.
    IIRC there are now 31 such States.
    Hoplophopes should keep that in mind.

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