2:00PM Water Cooler 11/18/2021

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By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

* * *

#COVID19

Vaccination by region:

Still chugging along. (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.)

58.9% of the US is fully (doubly) vaccinated (CDC data, as of November 17. 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…

“Fauci says 3-shot vaccine should be ‘standard,’ warns of winter ‘double whammy'” [ABC]. • It’s not winter. It’s people in close quarters indoors in poorly ventilated spaces, you democidal psycho. Honestly, on aerosol transmission, I’m starting to feel like Belushi here (at left):

Case count by United States regions:

The jump continues. I have drawn a black “Fauci Line” to avoid triumphalism. 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, oddly enough, 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:

Yikes. As I wrote: “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:

Minnesota worse again. Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana really not. Pennsylvania is now normal (since the rise was a data artifact, and there was no further rise). California coast worse, Arizona improved. More red specks in Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. 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):

I have helpfully highlighted the states where the “trend” arrow points up in yellow, and where it is vertical, in orange.

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 788,012 786,268. 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). CDC updated the chart:

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 and Portugal, with Peru and 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.

* * *

Politics

“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

Capitol Seizure

“‘QAnon Shaman’ Jacob Chansley sentenced to 41 months in prison for role in January 6 attack” [CBS]. “[F]ederal prosecutors sought a sentence of 51 months, the longest requested sentence in a January 6 investigation to date… Multiple videos and pictures showed the defendant inside and outside the Capitol building, yelling at officers and leading a mob down the halls of the Capitol. He made his way into the Senate chamber, where he scrawled, ‘It’s Only A Matter of Time. Justice Is Coming,’ on paper covering the desk where Vice President Mike Pence had been presiding over the Senate just minutes before, investigators said…. The day after the riot, on January 7, Chansley voluntarily called the FBI and admitted to his role in the attack, surrendering two days later. He was originally charged in a six-count indictment that included civil disorder, violent entry, and disorderly conduct before agreeing to plead guilty to the single charge of obstruction in September. Chansley has been jailed in Washington, D.C., and Virginia since his arrest.” • As opposed to reading the proclamation of a provisional government over the airwaves, having seized a radio station. Symbol manipulators gotta symbol manipulate. Commentary:

On point.

Biden Administration

“Harris says 2024 is ‘absolutely not’ being discussed yet with Biden” [The Hill]. • So it’s being discussed. Good to know.

Where’s Pete?

“Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg joins Port of LA chief to applaud cargo progress” [Whittier Daily News]. • I assume the cameras were rolling?

“The U.S. aims to lift Covid vaccine manufacturing to create a billion doses a year” [New York Times]. “The White House, under pressure to increase the supply of coronavirus vaccines to poor nations, plans to invest billions of dollars to expand U.S. manufacturing capacity, with the goal of producing at least one billion doses a year beginning in the second half of 2022, two top advisers to President Biden said in an interview on Tuesday. The investment is the first step in a new plan, announced on Wednesday, for the government to partner with industry to address immediate vaccine needs overseas and domestically and to prepare for future pandemics, said Dr. David Kessler, who oversees vaccine distribution for the administration, and Jeff Zients, Mr. Biden’s coronavirus response coordinator. ‘This is about assuring expanded capacity against Covid variants and also preparing for the next pandemic,’ Dr. Kessler said. ‘The goal, in the case of a future pandemic, a future virus, is to have vaccine capability within six to nine months of identification of that pandemic pathogen, and to have enough vaccines for all Americans.'”

“The Westiest programs in Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act” [High Country News]. “We combed through the act and pulled out the Westiest programs and measures…. Ever since the extraction industries started to decline decades ago, folks have been talking about replacing them with a “restoration economy” that would put people to work cleaning up old mines, reclaiming oil and gas sites, and so forth. It’s never really taken off on a large scale. But the new bill might be the financial spark it needs…. The new law funds megadrought mitigation efforts, such as renting farmers’ water to bolster in-stream flows and restoring aquatic ecosystems, and repairing — perhaps even removing —dams…. The act not only throws resources at fire prevention, it also represents a shift in the way the government approaches wildfires and the people who fight them…. There’s also money for wildlife crossings, energy efficiency in buildings, railroads, for making the power grid more resilient and facilitating the construction of high voltage transmission lines to move renewable energy over long distances, for airports, public transit and for clean school buses. Even so, the bill remains incomplete without its other half: The Build Back Better Act, which has increased funding for social programs and climate resilience as well as potential oil and gas leasing and mining reforms. ”

Priorities:

“House Democrats planning 1,000 events to tout accomplishments” [The Hill]. “House Democrats are planning to hold 1,000 events throughout the country between now and the end of the year to tout their latest legislative accomplishments, including the bipartisan infrastructure bill, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) Chairman Sean Patrick Maloney (N.Y.) announced on Tuesday. Maloney, during a press conference from the Capitol, said he and his colleagues have discussed a new effort in which each member of the Democratic caucus will hold five events to explain what is in the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package signed into law on Monday and how it will help the American people.” • Something Obama failed to do for his miserably inadequate stimulus package (hat tip, Larry Summers), though why the horrid DCCC is in charge of this I can’t fathom.

Democrats en Deshabille

Doctorow: “The latest Build Back Better pharma proposal is basically a nothingburger in a my-eyes-glaze-over bun of bureaucratic nonsense.” But why?

Blast from the past:

I periodically quote this parable from Ian Welsh, who asks: “Why are politicians bought so cheaply?” and answers: “Because it’s not their money. It’s like selling your neighbor’s car for twenty bucks.”

“The drip, drip, drip of Democratic retirements” [CNN]. “On Monday, Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy announced that he would leave Congress when his eighth term expires at the end of 2022. On Tuesday, California Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier said she would retire next year after almost 15 years in Congress. Neither seat should be a problem for Democrats to hold. Vermont went for President Joe Biden by 35 points in 2020 — his largest margin anywhere in the country. And Speier’s Bay Area 14th District gave Biden a whopping 89% of the vote last November. The bigger issue for Democrats then is not keeping those seats on their side. It’s that a steady drumbeat of retirements from within their ranks — especially in the holiday period leading up to Thanksgiving and then Christmas — is not at all what they want as they try to hold onto their slim majorities in the House and Senate. Congress is like high school. Everyone is looking around to see what everyone else is doing — and then adjusting their behavior accordingly.”

“Beto O’Rourke enters 2022 a weaker candidate with a harder race” [Texas Tribune]. “This time, O’Rourke’s statewide campaign is starting in a completely different place [than when he challenged Ted Cruz]. His run against Gov. Greg Abbott, which he announced Monday, is starting 229 days later than his U.S. Senate campaign did in 2017. O’Rourke is now well known statewide — and polls show more Texas voters have a negative view of him than a positive one. And Abbott’s not giving him a pass, regularly rallying Republicans against him on the campaign trail and releasing videos attacking him. This time, national politics will not play in his favor. Trump is out of office, President Joe Biden is deeply unpopular in Texas and Democrats are expecting to take a beating in the midterm elections nationwide…. One of O’Rourke’s top goals, Democrats agree, should be to ensure the race is a referendum on Abbott, who this year ushered through some of the most conservative laws — on abortion, guns and voting — in recent Texas memory. Abbott’s campaign is already trying to make the contest about O’Rourke, branding him ‘Wrong Way O’Rourke’ and spotlighting comments in which he has tacked to the left since the 2018 race.”

“Liberal ‘dark-money’ behemoth funneled more than $400M in 2020” [Politico]. “The Sixteen Thirty Fund’s multi-million dollar grants singlehandedly powered some other organizations on the left, and it also incubated other groups, as a ‘fiscal sponsor,’ that fought against Trump’s Supreme Court nominees, backed liberal ballot measures and policy proposals in different states and organized opposition to Republican tax and health care policies. Its massive 2020 fundraising and spending illustrates the extent to which the left embraced the use of ‘dark money’ to fight for its causes in recent years. After decrying big-money Republican donors over the last decade, as well as the Supreme Court rulings that flooded politics with more cash, Democrats now benefit from hundreds of millions of dollars of undisclosed donations as well. ‘Altogether this is absolutely one of the largest fundraising machines I have ever come across,’ said Robert Maguire, the research director for the open-government group CREW and an expert in political nonprofits.”

Republican Funhouse

“Matt Gaetz said his office is open to hiring Kyle Rittenhouse as a congressional intern if he’s ‘interested in helping the country in additional ways'” [Business Insider]. “‘He deserves a ‘not guilty’ verdict, and I sure hope he gets it, because you know what, Kyle Rittenhouse would probably make a pretty good congressional intern,’ Gaetz said. ‘We may reach out to him and see if he’d be interested in helping the country in additional ways.'” • Damn. What’s that high-pitched warbling sound?

RussiaGate

“Episode 195: The Russia House” (podcast) [TrueAnon]. “We’re joined by the frequently frustrated Aaron Maté….to talk about the arrest of Igor Danchenko and the long, absolutely insane saga of the Steele Dossier.” • This podcast does not cover all the twists and turns. But it’s very funny, and does underline how liberal Democrats absolutely lost their minds over RussiaGate. For years. Remember when liberal Democrats were naming their dogs after Mueller? That, and much more. So much more.

“The Russiagate Whitewash Era Begins” (excerpt only) [Matt Taibbi, TK News]. “After America invaded Iraq and failed to turn up weapons of mass destruction, the press went into CYA mode. Pundits who’d panted for war now cooked up a new narrative, that the WMD “mistake” had been caused by a combination of faulty intelligence, over-confident officials in the George W. Bush White House, and one New York Times writer named Judith Miller. Everyone else who so forcefully screwed the pooch on that story, from New Yorker editor David Remnick to New York columnist Jonathan Chait to current Atlantic editor Jeffrey Goldberg, emerged either unscathed, or draped in awards and promoted. Now, the Russiagate tale many of those same people hyped is falling apart, and the industry is again building battlements to protect careers from a cascade of humiliating revelations. This time, a combination of Danchenko, Buzzfeed editor Ben Smith, and perhaps a few organizations like McClatchy will be tossed out of the lifeboat.” • I’m relieved to find that Taibbi didn’t stroke out over The Jeff Bezos Daily Shopper™’s Glenn Kessler fact-checking RussiaGate.

Trump Legacy

“The Drama-Lover’s Guide to the New Trump Books” [New York Magazine]. “This year, there’s been a deluge of books about the inner workings of the previous administrations from journalists on the Trump beat and former White House insiders with scores to settle and reputations they’d like to rehabilitate; Axios reports that Trump himself has given “at least 22 interviews for 17 different books since leaving office.” While these tomes continue to sell well, I am now too cynical to devote even eight hours to “ear reading” a book whose basic take away is “Trump: not a great guy.” Therefore, please join me on this tour of the juiciest tidbits from the latest batch of Trump books. I do not know if they are true, but I do know they are darkly amusing and might even be shocking if we weren’t all numb.” • Any time Melania wants out, all she has to do is sign a book deal….

Realignment and Legitimacy

“White People’s Business”: On The Kyle Rittenhouse Trial & The Left Divide” (podcast) [Briahana Joy Gray, Bad Faith]. “This week, public defender & commentator for the Law Crime Network Olayemi Olurin returns to Bad Faith to discuss the Kyle Rittenhouse trial and how the media’s selective marshaling of facts has led to a divide not just between the political right and the left, but among left commentators.” • This is worth a listen, despite the running time (1 hr 28 min). Two sharp lawyers go over the evidence and competing theories of the case. Oh, and the prosecutor are doing a terrible job (apparently because they’re idiots, not because they’re trying to throw the case).

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell by 1K to 268K in the week ended November 13th, a new pandemic low, but less than market expectations of 260K as employers avoid layoffs and many workers quit. Claims are now approaching the 200K-250K range viewed as consistent with healthy labour market conditions but still, they remain above their 2019 weekly average of 218K.” • This can only be bad for Joe Biden.

Employment Situation: “United States Continuing Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “Continuing jobless claims in the United States decreased to 2080 thousand in the week ending November 6th of 2021 from 2209 thousand in the previous week. It is a new pandemic low and well below market forecasts of 2120 thousand.” • This can only be bad for Joe Biden.

Manufacturing: “United States Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index in the US rose to 39 in November of 2021 from 23.8 in October and beating market forecasts of 24. The reading pointed to the strongest growth in factory activity in Philadelphia since April.” • This can only be bad for Joe Biden.

Manufacturing: “United States Kansas Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Kansas City Fed’s Manufacturing Production Index fell to 17 in November of 2021 from 25 in the previous month. Factory growth was driven by increased activity at durable goods plants, particularly machinery manufacturing, electrical equipment, transportation equipment, and furniture production. “Regional factory activity continued to grow but at a slower pace than in recent months”, said Chad Wilkerson, vice president and economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. “Many firms reported additional materials cost increases, and more contacts reported delivery time delays compared to a month ago and a year ago. Labor shortages remain a key inhibitor in meeting higher demand for goods.'” • So pay the workers more money and make sure the jobs don’t suck. This really is not hard.

* * *

Inflation: “Here’s Why All The Inflation Fearmongering Over The Reconciliation Bill Is Nonsense” [Talking Points Memo]. “A new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showing that prices rose in October and are hovering at a notably high point has triggered a full-on Democratic panic attack over the fate of the reconciliation bill. While those two things may seem unrelated — spoiler alert: they are — one man binds them together: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). He tweeted Wednesday that the inflation spike is not temporary and is, instead, ‘getting worse,’ prompting a bout of furious tea leaf reading. Democrats speculated in public and in private that the West Virginia senator will use the inflation levels as an excuse to slow down or kill the reconciliation package (also known as Build Back Better, or BBB). He has cited inflation fears before, when enumerating his objections to a bigger reconciliation package. Republicans are glomming on to the talking point, which they see as handy to both imperil the bill and boost their midterm chances. While there are multiple valid theories about why this current inflation spike is surprisingly high and when it will subside, economists told TPM that there is overwhelming consensus that the reconciliation package will not cause inflation. ‘That claim has zero merit,’ Josh Bivens, research director at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, told TPM. “Whether or not BBB passes will not move the inflation rate up or down over the next year.’ … Bivens pointed to the fact that the package is not deficit spending, but entirely or almost entirely financed by taxes. It’s also, simply, not a stimulus package meant to inject a ton of money into the economy all at once.” • I’m quoting TPM. I don’t know what’s come over me.

Inflation: “EXCLUSIVE Rating agencies say Biden’s spending plans will not add to inflationary pressure” [Reuters]. “U.S. President Joe Biden’s infrastructure and social spending legislation will not add to inflationary pressures in the U.S. economy, economists and analysts in leading rating agencies told Reuters on Tuesday…. The two pieces of legislation “should not have any real material impact on inflation”, Will\iam Foster, vice president and senior credit officer (Sovereign Risk) at Moody’s Investors Service, told Reuters. The impact of the spending packages on the fiscal deficit will be rather small because they will be spread over a relatively long time horizon, Foster added.”

Inflation: Another perspective:

Shipping: “How to make a billion when your ships are stuck at anchor” [Freight Waves]. “Ocean carrier Zim, by far the largest U.S.-listed shipping company by market cap, just blew away the profit forecasts. Again. But it’s not all smooth sailing. The Israel-based shipping line (NYSE: ZIM) is particularly exposed to the trans-Pacific trade lane, where port congestion is now having an extremely negative effect on volumes. Ship scheduling data confirms significant and growing fallout to Zim’s trans-Pacific services in the fourth quarter…. Soaring freight rates have been the overwhelming driver of Zim’s returns. Its average rate per forty-foot equivalent unit was $6,452 in the third quarter, 2.7 times rates the year before and up 38% from rates in the second quarter of this year. Zim does not expect average rates to fall in Q4 versus Q3, despite indexes’ recent dip. Zim’s rates are higher than most other carriers’. It specifically concentrates on markets with the highest returns, as opposed to larger players with more global footprints like Denmark-listed Maersk. Zim also keeps a high emphasis on spot cargoes, which make up 50% of its trans-Pacific volume, as opposed to seeking more contract coverage for more sustainable returns, the strategy pursued by Maersk. The result: Zim’s average rates were 81% higher than Maersk’s in the third quarter.” • Nice!

The Bezzle: “Is Decentralized Finance really all that decentralized?” [Francine McKenna, The Dig]. Sadly, paywalled. But here is the deck: “A limited number of investors and users are reaping all the rewards. Makes you wonder if this latest spin on “financial innovation” introduces more risk without changing much.” And:

I don’t want to be overly cynical, but couldn’t the fact that crypto enables fraud…. be the whole point?

Supply Chain: “Plan to Run LA Port 24/7 to Break Backlog Falls Short” [Manufacturing.net]. “Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka said in an online briefing Tuesday that the sprawling complex has “24/7 capability,” but a shortage of truck drivers and nighttime warehouse workers pose problems in establishing a nonstop schedule, along with getting importers to embrace expanded hours. ‘It’s an effort to try to get this entire orchestra of supply chain players to get on the same calendar,’ he said. Among thousands of importers, ‘we’ve had very few takers to date.’ U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said that going to a 24 hour-a-day schedule at the busiest port in the Western Hemisphere ‘is, of course, not flipping the switch. There are so many players, even just on the grounds of port.’ As for moving cargo, Seroka said there was encouraging news: Since Oct. 24, the port witnessed a 25% drop in the number of import containers on the docks — from 95,000 to to 71,000. During the same time, cargo sitting nine days or longer dropped by 29%, he said.” • Good to see Buttigieg kicking ass and taking names here. He’s clearly prepared for a leadership role.

Supply Chain: “A record number of ships are stuck at LA ports, even as port chiefs say the backlog is easing up” [Business Insider]. “A record number of ships were reported in and around LA ports on Tuesday afternoon, even as port chiefs said backlogs are clearing. According to the Marine Exchange, a total of 179 ships were recorded at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach on Tuesday, the majority of which were anchored at sea waiting for the chance to dock and unload. These new records come one day after LA port chiefs said that the backlog at the two ports was easing, highlighting a 26% decline in the amount of cargo that had been left on docks for over nine days. The two ports said in October that, starting November 15, they would begin fining shipping companies $100 a day for every container left on the docks for more than six days, if they were being moved onwards by rail, or nine days if being moved by truck. The ports announced Monday they have pushed back the start date for new fines coming into force until November 22.” On the fines: “Those fines will ‘simply get passed onto beneficial cargo owners who will begrudgingly accept that their rates have gone up,’ [Corey Bertsch, VP Solutions Consulting at Slync.io, a global logistics company] added. ‘These containers would move if they could, but it’s a combination of warehouses, truck, and labor issues.'”

The Fed: “Tweedledum and Tweedledee at the Fed” [The Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal]. “We never thought we’d say this, but economist Larry Summers would be a logical Democratic choice given his prescience about inflation.” • Now they’re just trolling us.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 76 Extreme Greed (previous close: 78 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 81 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 18 at 12:34pm.

Health Care

“Echoes Through Time: The Historical Origins of the Droplet Dogma and its Role in the Misidentification of Airborne Respiratory Infection Transmission” [SSRN]. Authored by a galaxy of aerosol stars, including Jimenez and Prather (and also Tufecki). “The critical point in this history of the understanding of airborne disease transmission is the work of prominent American epidemiologist, Charles V. Chapin…. Chapin stated that ‘[t]here is no evidence that [airborne transmission] is an appreciable factor in the maintenance of most of our common contagious diseases.’ And critically, he turned absence of evidence into evidence of absence. ‘We are warranted then, in discarding [airborne transmission] as a working hypothesis, and devoting our chief attention to the prevention of contact infection,’ he concluded. ‘It will be a great relief to most persons to be freed from the specter of infected air, a specter which has pursued the race from the time of Hippocrates.’…. Chapin was much better positioned to change the paradigm of transmission, as the long-serving Health Officer of Providence and also thanks to the success of his emphasis non contact transmission in reducing infections in a new hospital. In 1927 he became the President of the American Public Health Association. His ideas about the dominance of contact infection and the implausibility of airborne infection were widely adopted in the fields of public health and infectious diseases. Chapin was described in 1967 as ‘the greatest American epidemiologist’ by Alexander Langmuir, the first and long-time director (1949-1969) of the epidemiology branch of the CDC, and as late as the 1980s Chapin’s views were dominant there (60). Critically, Chapin’s unproven hypothesis was accepted as true: ease of infection in close proximity is accepted proof of transmission from spray droplets. This key error conditioned the evolution of this field over the next century. Chapin’s ideas were still dominant at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.” • That is, CDC’s refusal to accept aerosol transmission dates from its founding. I’m re-upping this from Links in September, because it jibes so well this article I ran yesterday, “The Ebola Gamble,” which shows that “CDC has been broken with respect to aerosol transmission not only since the Ebola crisis (c. 2014) but since SARS (2002).” The CDC should be burned to the ground, the rubble plowed under, and the earth scattered with salt.

A useful thread on airborne tranmission. Plain language and links:

“Effectiveness of public health measures in reducing the incidence of covid-19, SARS-CoV-2 transmission, and covid-19 mortality: systematic review and meta-analysis” [British Medical Journal]. An enormous meta-analysis. The Conclusions: “This systematic review and meta-analysis suggests that several personal protective and social measures, including handwashing, mask wearing, and physical distancing are associated with reductions in the incidence covid-19. Public health efforts to implement public health measures should consider community health and sociocultural needs, and future research is needed to better understand the effectiveness of public health measures in the context of covid-19 vaccination.”

“A COVID strategy backfires at schools” [Axios (Kevin DeNardo)]. “Hundreds of school districts and universities around the country rushed to invest in new electronic air cleaning systems in the last two years to help alleviate COVID concerns. But in many cases, those investments turned out to be doing more harm than good… 40% of school districts of more than 1,000 districts in the U.S. have used federal money to update their HVAC system and air filtration systems…. School districts and universities have spent as much as $100 million on this technology — often for electronic air cleaning systems that have misleading, company-funded studies that boast 99.99% efficacy, said Marwa Zaatari, mechanical engineer and a board member of the U.S. Green Building Council.” • Every aerosol scientist I follow, and I follow a lot, recommended open windows and doors, HEPA filters, or Corsi boxes. None of them recommended this garbage, and some (too lazy to find the links) recommended against it. Modulo steak dinners from the manufacturers to the administrators and school boards, it’s hard to see this as anything other than an enormous — and lethal — dereliction of duty by CDC, the Biden Administration, and probably OSHA, who (a) refuse to allow aerosol transmission to affect policy, (b) refuse even to publicize it (or a layered strategy of defense), and hence (c) fail to create a regulatory environment that protects schools and universities against fraud. Worse, the entire debacle may be used to discredit ventilation efforts entirely.

Nothing fundamental will change:

I see that it’s not quite correct to say that we won’t spend money on ventilation because that’s capital investment. We will spend money — on technology that’s fraudulent and ineffective. What does that tell you?

Zeitgeist Watch

I don’t want to whinge, but where’s the quilt? And the wall-to-wall coverage for it? (I don’t think the flags on the National Mall qualify.)

Is the sense of collectivity that weak?

“Hochul says additional investigation into Cuomo pandemic response is not necessary” [WRGB Albany]. • Obviously, “we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards.” And that’s the charitable interpretation.

Class Warfare

“Why Capitalism Loves Corruption” [Tribune]. “The [U.K.] is one of the epicentres of political corruption historically, and a key node in global corruption today. As Mafia expert Roberto Saviano remarked in 2016, there is good reason to think that the UK is ‘the most corrupt country in the world.’… Britain is in fact the grandfather of corruption. As George Robb argues in his history of white-collar crime, the industrial revolution in Britain brought forth a new network of finance, insurance, and legal professions with which came corrupt practices like bank fraud, credit fraud, and stock fraud…. Britain successfully exported its culture of corruption into colonial governance, exhibiting itself in the endemic corruption at which the British colonialists were masters. Mulinge and Lestedi have shown how taxes introduced in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and Bechuanaland (Botswana) to create revenues for British colonial rule were sometimes collected through financial kickbacks for local leaders, which corrupted existing public roles and caused warped relationships that in some cases persist to this day. The East India Company provided a template for the corrupt activities of multinationals today as they invaded more and more of modern-day India and Pakistan, widely utilising corrupt practices forgery and bribes alongside the violence of its private security force. Many of its employees, including its leader, Robert Clive, were actively embezzling funds from both the company and tax collection into their own private fortunes. At one point nearly a quarter of MPs were shareholders in the East India Company, and they dutifully voted in its interests, even if they conflicted with those of the Crown. Eventually the East India Company would be taken over by the state, but writers have shown that the corrupt practices it instituted in part shaped the bureaucracy of modern-day nations—including constructing the idea that corruption is a problem inherent to the peoples of former colonised nations. Far from being a bastion of liberal probity, British history is dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with the blood and dirt of political corruption. This history is foundational to contemporary corruption in former colonised nations, but the legacy has also continued domestically. The City of London and its imperial network of ‘offshore’ tax havens is the heart of global corruption.” • Bracing stuff!

News of the Wired

I remain unwired today!

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

RH writes: “Rain coming.” Gorgeous!

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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.

103 comments

  1. ChrisFromGeorgia

    Hello Water Coolerians!

    Can we “tawk” about the big liftoff in US daily case counts, once again proving the conventional wisdom wrong? Isn’t this a wee bit problematic for the narrative that it’s time to go back to maskless life?

    Or maybe we are just at the “risk acceptance” stage, kind of like that picture of a family wading into the tar-ball filled Gulf beach after the BP oil disaster. Gotta keep those planes full of rage-filled travelers going!

    Reply
    1. Chromex

      All one had to do was watch tv say 3 to 8 weeks ago to see this coming. While talking about how effective the vaccines were, morning “news’ orgs and sports broadcasters were trumpeting the return of mass events and the openings of schools. All one also had to do was tune into said mass events- college football say- and count the masks and other precautions being taken. usually a horrifyingly easy task. Other examples abound. So long as the 1% want business and we believe they will not act against our own interests, this trend will continue. But its foolish to think that the pandemic is over.

      Reply
      1. curlydan

        I wish we could blame college football. But that’s largely outdoors, and I haven’t heard of outbreaks traced to games. I’m not saying it’s impossible. I went to a pro football game with my son a couple weeks ago, but you can bet I was double masked and more than a bit nervous. Still, I haven’t seen a a contact tracing due to football.

        But I believe yesterday’s Water Cooler featured an indoor Phish concert in Las Vegas that triggered a bunch of Covid.

        I suspect it’s mainly back to the bars, restaurants, and indoor parties being the culprits. The Covid pattern is a dark ring starting in Maine and curving West and Southward toward New Mexico and Arizona. All cold and/or dry this time of year.

        Today at a work group Zoom meeting, two group members were out due to Covid. My Thanksgiving fears are growing daily.

        Reply
        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I hesitate to say “never outdoors,” but the risk is orders of magnitude less than indoors.

          Superspreaders in closed spaces is where it’s at:

          Reply
  2. Watt4Bob

    The last Russia-gate link I clicked on, stated that the Steele dossier was a side show, considering the FBI ‘proved‘ the Russians hacked the DNC’s computers with the intent to help Trump beat Hillary.

    So, the big lie is unimportant because the even BIGGER LIE hasn’t been put to rest yet.

    Disproving the Russian hack is so easy to do, that most tech-savy teens could do so in about a New York second.

    I don’t remember putting your fingers in your ears and chanting nya, nya, nya, as being so effective?

    Reply
    1. Geo

      After all the Iraq War lies were exposed the rationale just became “Saddam was a bad guy” and anyone who was against the invasion supported bad guys.

      Putting fingers in ears is how America has almost always dealt with its atrocities and failures from slavery and indigenous genocide through to today. Erich Fromm was spot on decades ago when he stated that nationalism is a form of social narcissism. It’s why Trump is hated so much by the power brokers: He makes their arrogant unwillingness to admit lies and failure look ugly and crass instead of sophisticated and authoritative like past presidents did. Trump is the mirror reflection of America’s elite and they hate seeing who they all really are.

      Reply
      1. Noone from Nowheresville.

        Geo: I was thinking something similar just yesterday. Regardless of one’s position on Trump, we must admit he is a wonderful scapegoat if for no other reason than he relishes his Let’s Go Brandon narcissistic role. Where I would differ is in wondering if they actually believe they are lying or suffering failure or if they believe that they are simply creating something by breaking it. Doing so in order to remake it into something “better.”

        In a sense, Babylon 5’s Vorlon v. Shadow argument.

        Reply
    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Doesn’t the forefinger in the ear chant go la la la I can’t hear you . . ?

      Doesn’t the nya nya nya chant go with thumbs in the ear all fingers spread out and waving at the target?

      Reply
    3. albrt

      “putting your fingers in your ears and chanting nya, nya, nya” is effective for getting people to avoid you so you don’t have to change.

      Since the Democrat leadership does not wish to win the next election cycle or two, there is no downside.

      Reply
    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > considering the FBI ‘proved‘ the Russians hacked the DNC’s computers with the intent to help Trump beat Hillary.

      Just in case somebody missed this detail, the DNC servers were never examined by the FBI. A DNC vendor, CrowdStrike, examined them, and the FBI simply took their word.

      Move along, people, move along. There’s no story here.

      Reply
  3. PKMKII

    More dispatches from the ventilation wars: NYC Schools Bought Weaker Air Purifiers. Now Underventilated Campuses Are More Prone To COVID Cases

    The New York City public schools that rely solely on open windows and portable air purifiers have seen 23% more COVID-19 cases per students and a 29% increase in staff case rates when compared to buildings with stronger ventilation, such as HVAC systems, according to a new WNYC/Gothamist investigation… Starting in summer 2020, the city purchased two air purifiers for every classroom from a Manhattan-based startup named Delos Living and its upstate partner Intellipure — a choice officials strongly backed ahead of the school year, even though the devices lack HEPA filters, the industry benchmark for air cleaning.

    I’ve submitted a question for the PTA meeting tonight (my kid is in one of the schools with the big red triangle mark on “NYC Schools Without Working HVAC Systems” map in the article) as to what in the [FAMILY BLOG] is going on with the complete lack of progress on getting the ventilation systems working. Will report if anything interesting comes of it.

    Reply
    1. allan

      Thank you. From the article:

      … WNYC/Gothamist asked the mayor’s office, the Department of Education, Delos Living and city councilmembers to explain why Intellipure air purifiers were chosen for schools given these performance issues.

      Delos Living calls itself a leader in building healthier offices and living spaces, stating that it aims “to bridge the gap between evidence-based science and everyday awareness to elevate physical, mental and social health as central values in the built world.”

      Launched in 2009, the company is well connected. Its advisory board includes former U.S. Congress members, the former heads of federal agencies, representatives from major health care systems such as the Cleveland Clinic and a former CEO of the Bronx’s Montefiore Health System and actor Leonardo DiCaprio. …

      Sounds legit.

      Reply
    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Starting in summer 2020, the city purchased two air purifiers for every classroom from a Manhattan-based startup named Delos Living and its upstate partner Intellipure

      A Manhattan-based start-up. Of course. More from the Gotham Gazette:

      In its new health and safety protocols, the DOE claims, “every classroom across New York City has been provided with two HEPA purifiers,” though many dispute this statement’s accuracy. While the CDC and most independent experts recommend air cleaners that use HEPA filters, the Intellipure model that DOE purchased for $43 million lacks these filters. Indeed, independent experts rank the model among the most expensive and least efficient on the market.

      Steak dinners? Powerful friends?

      Reply
  4. Carolinian

    So it’s being discussed. Good to know.

    “Believe nothing until it has been officially denied.”

    Cockburn said his dad thought that one up and as an Irishman had a properly jaded appreciation of British bureacracy as depicted in many comic novels. On the light side perhaps the Biden administration does have a certain Bertie Wooster side to it.

    And re air cleaners any reader of Consumer Reports knows that fancy electronic air cleaners are mostly a scam. Clearly school superintendents are too busy superintending to read it.

    Reply
  5. Grumpy Engineer

    Gah. Those CDC models of expected COVID infection rates suck.

    In particular, they appear to be oblivious to the effects of the weather. COVID transmission is minimized when the weather is pleasant and people spent more time outdoors (or indoors with the windows open). If it’s really hot outside, everybody moves indoors to hide from the heat in the air-conditioning . If it’s really chilly outside, everybody moves indoors to hide from the cold in the furnace-heated air. More people indoors means more people shedding virus into a finite volume of recirculating air. Badness ensues.

    This explains why infection rates in the deep South crested in August:
    https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/usa/mississippi/
    https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/usa/alabama/

    And why infection rates are ramping up in New England:
    https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/usa/new-york/
    https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/usa/massachusetts/

    This pattern has been evident for quite some time now. And yet the CDC models show none of it.

    Reply
    1. Lou Anton

      If they ever update the models, maybe average degrees Fahrenheit becomes an input*. That’s available at the county level, so they should be able to do something useful with it for ground-up modeling.

      *Fully acknowledging the head Cooligan’s point that it’s not the weather, it’s how you react to it.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > maybe average degrees Fahrenheit becomes an input

        But that’s only a proxy* for breathing other people’s air indoors. There are probably others. For example, heating oil consumption in the Northeast.

        NOTE * Modulo humidity. Dryer is more dangerous; two links from 2002 here. If you have radiators, put a pan of water on top of them.

        Reply
  6. IM Doc

    One week from today is Thanksgiving Day.

    I would like to share with everyone something that has been happening with increasing regularity in my office this past few weeks.

    People are making active plans to exclude any and all unvaccinated from their family celebrations. Do not get me wrong – I believe any rational human being – given what we know – should seriously consider not having holidays this year. Especially if elderly or sick are involved. I think every family should be having this discussion. It is perfectly rational at this point.

    However, that is not what I am seeing most of the time. What I am seeing is a very very malignant process. I am seeing many people announce to me with glee that so and so unvaccinated will not be invited. Often secretly telling me how they have known that so and so and their family were always obviously rubes ( or insert expletive of choice). “I am looking forward to a holiday without them there” “They do not deserve to be there.”

    I have become literally heart-sick in the past few weeks listening to this. To the point I had to seek counsel from my clergy last night. I am slowly beginning to become very unmoored by all that is thrown at me every day. Sometimes, I just need to visit my higher power.

    First of all – there are so many family members in my own life that have gone on – that I would pay any price for just an hour or two with them.

    I have this constant feeling – WHAT HAS MY PROFESSION DONE TO THE AMERICAN PSYCHE THAT PEOPLE ARE BEHAVING TOWARD THEIR OWN FAMILY THIS WAY? What more evidence do we need that massive mistakes have been made?

    But just as concerning to me is where these vaccinated people are getting the idea that their celebrations are safe. They are openly planning to have grandma there and openly discussing with me they do not want the unvaxxed unclean there so grandma can have a good time – MASKLESS – with all the vaccinated kids all around. I hear this repeatedly. I fear for the hospital census in December.

    Rachel Maddow and Rachelle Walensky as far as I know quit talking about how there is zero spread with the vaccines months ago. Where is this misinformation coming from?

    And then one of my patients showed me this clip this AM.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQTmdJYfO4M

    Just from this week. Watched by millions of grandmas and housewives.

    Right away – there is the framing issue. The evildoer unvaccinated lady is not allowed to be on the set because “our producers take health very seriously.” Laughably, this from the show who famously had to have 2 vaccinated hosts rushed off the stage after being found to be positive during the show. From looking at their YouTube feed, they apparently talk to Jen Psaki all the time. Whoopi – have you checked with Jen how the COVID infection that has taken her out of work for 3 weeks is going? One she obtained fully vaccinated? Ms. Psaki looks like a healthy woman – how is that going to work for diabetic grandmas all over the land that you are misinforming?

    But it is the discussion by Ms. Bila – about the actual facts that the vaccinated can spread this just as easily as the unvaccinated that got me. She was ridiculed and shot down by Joy Behar relentlessly. They truly believe that people are completely protected from spread and contagion by these vaccines. Amazing. So many of these elite and media types are profoundly misinformed. And yet they are allowed with abandon to spew misinformation that literally may kill people. And millions are watching her – and BATHING IN THE MISINFORMATION.

    Where are the fact checkers and twitter censoring for Ms Behar? In my humble opinion, allowing this kind of thought being spread to millions of grandmas that the vaccines have made them perfectly safe is profoundly dangerous.

    I have multiple vaccinated little old ladies very very ill in the hospital right now. Maybe I should see how they think the vaccine protected them. Some of them would likely cuss me out. Profound disappointment is not adequate to describe how some of them feel.

    If you are high risk – GET VACCINATED. But never assume that is a silver bullet. It is not. Please spread this far and wide to all you know.

    Again, I am heartsick. I simply cannot believe what I am seeing.

    Reply
    1. Arizona Slim

      IM Doc, if you’re ever down Tucson way, I would love to buy you a beer.

      And I don’t give a flying feather whether you’re vaccinated or not. You’re one of the good guys. That’s what is most important to me.

      Reply
    2. Watt4Bob

      Thanks for this comment.

      For most of our lives ‘vaccines’ have been understood as sterilizing.

      People are not grasping the reality that these new vaccines are not, and do not prevent spreading the contagion.

      The people spreading this disinformation truly believe they know what they are talking about.

      There should be explicit public service announcements on television and all social media sites to combat this dangerous lack of understanding.

      Joy Behar should be made to star in one of these PSA spots to apologize and set the record straight.

      Reply
      1. mistah charley, ph.d.

        For most of our lives ‘vaccines’ have been understood as sterilizing.

        Yes, I often see this asserted. And it seems a lot of people have gotten the impression that they could expect this of the covid vaccine. An important part of this failure to communicate is the idea that, once a person is vaccinated, all other NPI can be ignored.

        On the other hand, there are plenty of counterexamples in ordinary life of ‘non-sterilizing’ vaccines. People who get flu shots know they still might get the flu, and that they will be asked to get another flu shot next year. Anyone who has received medical care for a puncture wound is asked “How long since your last tetanus shot?”

        As the line from Cool Hand Luke goes, “What we got heah is a faylyah t’ commun’cate.”

        Reply
        1. Big River Bandido

          You almost instinctively used the phrase “flu shot”, which is in fact the common usage. I have never heard people refer to getting a “flu vaccine”. I am quite sure this point of terminology was settled in years ago to underscore and clearly stipulate that it was not, in fact, a flu “vaccine” (non-sterilizing).

          I have reached the opinion that the health establishment deliberately used the word “vaccine” to mislead the public on the CV-19 shots.

          Reply
      2. petal

        Wow, that clip and Joy Behar and whoever “Sunny” is, they are so abhorrent. And wrong. My jaw was on the floor and I had to stop it after a while.

        Reply
    3. Duke of Prunes

      IM Doc, please don’t be too hard on yourself… although it never hurts to spend some time with a higher power (if you’re into that sort of thing). While the medical establishment hasn’t exactly shown well, I think the media is mostly to blame for the patient behavior that you’re describing. In fact, your linked video clip provides a perfect example of why I say that.

      Reply
    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      Was it really your profession that did this?

      Or is it centrally-located government-based psycho-bureaucrats in medical and health officer disguise?

      Reply
      1. Glen

        That’s a very good point. I seem too remember that doctors speaking out about lack of PPE, and other issues were fired early last year as we locked down.

        Reply
    5. outside observer

      No one is accountable this way. People who lack expertise spread misinformation. Companies who lack expertise carry out the coercion without a legal directive to do so. Meanwhile the only people who have any way of knowing the truth are shielded from liability.

      Reply
    6. Pat

      IM Doc, thank you for noting the insanity around us. If you feel unmoored, it could be that you must confront the reality of this daily, hour after hour. The continued media and “official” misinformation campaign, largely driven by a small segment of the population needing a return to “normal” for their own selfish reasons, has done so much damage to this world. And you, dear sir, are one of those who bear the brunt of it.

      It took awhile for a friend to understand that my reaction to the vaccines was actually well modulated. We disagreed about some of it, but as more became known he joined me in my misapprehension regarding how the vaccines were being propagandized. We were mostly worried about mistrust it would inevitably create. We missed the hatred and divisiveness it would create between people even families. It has been magnitudes of evil greater than we realized.

      I am so very sorry that this has increased your burdens at a time when simply caring for your patients is already a huge endeavor.

      Thank you so much for continuing all you do. We are so very blessed to have you.

      Reply
    7. truly

      IM, I am a hair dresser and am having dread about the stories I am hearing about the upcoming holidays. Obviously I am concerned about poorly informed people needlessly and riskily spreading Covid, but my focus will be on all of the stories of friendships ended around holiday plans. Every year about this time I start hearing the stories of bad family dynamics impacting the holidays. But this year it is going to be especially bad.
      Already hearing about host and hostesses excluding the non VAX crowd. If they trust the VAX to protect them from a virus why wont they trust it to protect them from their nephew? Their in-laws?
      A friend of mine recently lost a parent to Covid. 79 year old with co morbitiies but they expected another 10 years of life. The sad part of the story to me is that the recently deceased ended a 60+ year friendship over vaccination. And then died despite being vaccinated.
      Stay strong. Do what you can when you can.

      Reply
    8. Sea Sched

      So amazing to read what you posted when this morning an unvaccinated patient of mine told me that her family is punishing her and not allowing her to join in for Thanksgiving celebrations. Many of my colleagues also keep asking about the legality of banning unvaccinated patients from their practice. This issue has turned into tribalism where people would rather shun the unvaccinated than bother with improving ventilation, masking, rapid tests, etc…I have repeatedly told people I would rather see an unvaccinated pt who has been carefully masking and staying at home vs a vaccinated one who just flew to Europe/attended a wedding. Exposure risk is what matters more than vaccination status but many colleagues seem to be under the delusion that banning the unvaccinated is what will keep them and their other patients safer when really if they are that worried they could just request patients use higher grade masks/improve ventilation.

      Reply
    9. flora

      wow. thank you. People reaching for a political and moralistic group approval over a basic human decency…. I wonder if they would have turned in Anne Franks’ family, too. / meh

      Reply
    10. skippy

      @IM Doc …

      A long time ago on NC I recommended people take off the rose coloured glasses for a good bloodly reason. Having grown up at the dinner table, attending social functions/gatherings of the upper crust and their offspring with national networks in NYC, Chicago, L.A. and some more provincial locations. With the flip side of spending many a summer in blink and miss it sticks farming locations in Iowa and Missouri of another side of my family. I saw stuff, heard stuff, experienced stuff, and there has been ample time to reconcile my youth with my 60 years of doing it day in and day out.

      I would also reference some old NC posts on social psychology in how functional groups can torn and splintered in a blink of an eye, historically its based on broad economic prosperity/up lift to one of narrow economic prosperity at the expense of everyone else. Having brought up the psychology aspect I would further note old NC conversations about how the currant American DSM V. was arrived at and how many older experienced professionals took exception at some very dubious conclusions based on ideological or other non scientific based methodology. All these people were rubbed out, be it funding, social exclusion, or basically just turfed out. Per se in my ex wife’s psychological treatment it was the first thing to pop out of my mouth e.g. which book are you using. In this perspective I agree with the book ‘Science-Mart’ Privatizing American Science – by Philip Mirowski. Everything you are experiencing is the result of these machinations and those that supported that agenda as a social construct.

      Furthermore I would offer that your previous affiliations in establishing your perspective, at an early age, was a bit of a bubble which might have blinkered or blinded you a bit to the bigger picture which was flowing through many other industries[tm] including academia. Had you not made the cut to be where you were at that specific time, to be instructed by the sort of people that were present then, due to their past experiences and how that shaped them, you might have seen a completely different perspective of those that were on the leading edge of what neoliberalism portends e.g. its hit your level and because of your long term altruistic perspective vs a short term investor driven balance sheet one your finding it difficult to reconcile.

      I hate to say it IM Doc because it pains me, personally, but like Hayek said back in the day – all altruism in humanity must be purged so the market can price correctly, which is just an extenuation of Calvin saying kids should be beaten to get the good[tm] in them – only pain leads to virtue. I would only add one thing … Bernays unleashed a mythology [narrative] that would harness the primitive mind of fear so others could both control and profit from it and then use the results as proof they were the best administers of society- self fulfilling prophecy. Guess what happens when you have a society built on extenuating its failures off on the rest of the world and one day that’s not on offer, because bargaining power is reduced and the only alternative is to internalize it so the mopes don’t start thinking for themselves, and the consequences to power – some use the term inverted totalitarianism – your mileage may vary.

      I went through this long ago and it pains me to see you go through it, I can only offer you my personal acknowledgement in taking the time and effort to inform others of your observations and mental distress at watching your profession burn down like a house and the long term consequences of that. Then again you did not go on the lark I did in the military and have to ware that reconciliation down the road.

      PS. As I have noted my grandfather was a surgeon with a MD practice, with my grandmother, still remember my youth were people asked my last name thingy and how that rolled, and I place you in their company of highest regards … you are what should have been …

      Reply
    11. Noone from Nowheresville.

      Rachel Maddow and Rachelle Walensky as far as I know quit talking about how there is zero spread with the vaccines months ago. Where is this misinformation coming from?

      Cognitive Dissonance. People received information from pundits they already trusted via the Trump era (both sides of the front-row-kids. one side went for masks and the other Covid drugs.) It has been reinforced by news media for the most part and filtered down into the ol’ Rush Limbaugh intimacy level. And I suspect that some of the people who say some of these things long enough have also come to believe it’s the “truth.” Such is the nature of saying something again and again and again. You become your own believer. Doesn’t matter that it’s now public health. Or maybe it’s the ultimate high.

      It’s not new, just filtered out into areas we used to believe would be safe. Where does it go from here? Thought experiment question to myself and others: What happens if there are major side effects down the road from the drug treatments, will we hold the drug manufacturers and the governments accountable or will we be thanking them because it was so totally totally worth it? It’s an important question to me because then it becomes anything is possible and there will be no accountability. The ultimate “mistakes have been made, who could’ve known” messaging campaign.

      Remember also we’re not even 2 years into the pandemic. The recommended Covid drugs for the masses aren’t even a year old.

      We should all be scared of how quickly the lines have been publicly drawn and the delight that is being taken. The scene in the Dark Tower series where the town burns Susan alive is what flashes in my mind. It’s not the fire itself but the crowd.

      Reply
    12. Noone from Nowheresville.

      IM Doc: What I find most interesting about the clip was Bila laying out her bona fides on why she wasn’t vaccinated. I think there was a soft scoff in the background while she was doing it. So I think no matter what Bila had to say they were prepared to go where they went.

      As far as the cognitive dissonance is concerned, I’ve found that once someone looks at the data (whatever that means to them) and makes up their mind, they tend to stay in that place, ignoring any new caveats or addendums to the original data they looked at. In fact, they tend to hold tighter to their original position regardless of what you can give them to disprove it. Unless and until, a life-changing “train” broadsides them. I personally found front-row-kids more stubborn in holding their original positions.

      So the question is are Joy and Sunny actual believers or just purposefully spreading “misinformation*?” Then the question becomes does knowing the answer really change anything because it’s not going to stop.

      The better question, perhaps, is what can and should be done in this environment? What will it cost the individuals who choose to ATTEMPT to challenge it directly?

      *I think the term Misinformation has become useless in our current environment.

      Reply
      1. Noone from Nowheresville.

        I’ve spent the morning wondering why this clip bothers me so much. It’s because it’s beautiful, beautiful storycrafting by the front-row-kids. Very solid foundational work, quick middle and ban-bang ending which satisfies the creators.

        If you can, take Covid out of the mix and look at how they purposefully laid the groundwork, introduced the characters, etc. The language they used and how they asserted their bona fides to speak as authorities.

        There are very different direct and subliminal takeaways here for every level of class and every side of the issue. Brilliant use of cultural whispers and the hero v. villain narrative.

        ETA: I know Bila and her position are clearly part “in” on the show.

        Reply
  7. Sardonia

    I’m begging, BEGGING for a “Dukakis Moment” – in which Mayo Pete, on camera, rolls up his sleeves to personally drive off with a loaded 18-wheeler, to show that “He’s on it!” – and immediately starts grinding gears, lurching forward and backward, cursing in 7 different languages.

    Reply
    1. Michael Ismoe

      Pete’s a show horse, not a work horse. Pete could appeal to both the Green Democrats and the Shopping Democrats by pulling two 20 teu containers with his bicycle from Long Beach back to Washington, DC = or die trying.

      Good Lord, when your entire Christmas Season depends on an Obama impersonator you begin to think it’s time to start learning Mandarin. This country is doomed.

      https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&ccid=NcN%2fz%2bTg&id=530F11C7F6E93DDBCB42159322D38B5CF32CA1A5&thid=OIP.NcN_z-TgyLSkJTEbmMKLVgHaFe&mediaurl=https%3a%2f%2fwww.usmessageboard.com%2fattachments%2fpetes-bike-1-jpg.427054%2f&cdnurl=https%3a%2f%2fth.bing.com%2fth%2fid%2fR.35c37fcfe4e0c8b4a425311b98c28b56%3frik%3dpaEs81yL0yKTFQ%26pid%3dImgRaw%26r%3d0&exph=532&expw=720&q=pete+buttigieg+bicycle&simid=607993573435471113&FORM=IRPRST&ck=F76EE8DF46B6E8C260C74CDF2DA3F1FC&selectedIndex=0&idpp=overlayview&ajaxhist=0&ajaxserp=0

      Reply
  8. Pat

    I wish I didn’t believe that Hochul’s position on the malfeasance of the Cuomo administration’s handling of Covid 19 is for the exact same reason that Obama “looked forward not back” regarding torture. It was not about protection of past crimes, but about future ones.

    NY state and city policies regarding Covid are possibly worse than the federal government’s choices. It is so close it is hard to call. And much of that is like our climate policy, we say one thing but reality bares little resemblance to that. Facts are ignored because they are inconvenient.

    If possibly contributing to the deaths of citizens were to become important…

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I wish I didn’t believe that Hochul’s position on the malfeasance of the Cuomo administration’s handling of Covid 19 is for the exact same reason that Obama “looked forward not back” regarding torture. It was not about protection of past crimes, but about future ones.

      It was, I would speculate, also about allying the (dominant factions of the*) intelligence community with the Democrat Party. Obama’s foresight paid off big-time with RussiaGate. “Bloody Gina” clambering to the top of the greasy pole** under Trump only happened because Obama boosted her. Thanks, Obama!

      NOTE * That is, “the worst of the worst.” Torturers, domestic operatives, assets in the press etc.

      ** It’s important for young women and girls to know that they can one day grow up to be torturers. “She looks like me!”

      Reply
      1. Pat

        True, although Democrats having spent years enabling and funding their darkest actions since at least Iran Contra hadn’t hurt in developing those ties. It might have been one of the best and smoothest “we all know better than these rubes, let me rid you of the pests” moves by a Democratic President in my lifetime.

        Reply
  9. Wukchumni

    We have a much beloved sandwich and salad restaurant here in town that has made it onto the top 100 of all restaurants in the country on Yelp for a few years running…

    About 10 years ago a Subway opens up and is our only corporate food presence in town which goes against the grain of not much in the way of corporate anything here aside from a motel and gas stations.

    Fast forward a few years ago and Sierra Subs & Salads is closed for the day and i’m famished so I make my one and only appearance @ Subway and i’m 6th in line with just one employee working and 20 minutes later I finally get to place my order with the earl of sandwich who looked beaten down from being the ‘guy’ who does everything.

    The next week I pop into Sierra Subs and explain to the owner that I have sinned, and she says ‘oh, you went to Subway, how was it?’

    I tell her of the lone employee and long wait, not to mention how crappy the sandwich was compared to her handiwork, and she tells me said Subway has changed hands once already and the only way the new owner can make money is to lessen employees, so that’s what he did.

    Somehow it managed to stay in business until a few months ago, and is no longer.

    In place of rotten corporate food we have a new eatery opening soon serving Greek food, this despite all of the false rumors i’ve been spreading about the imminent opening of a Thai restaurant, I guess something was lost in translation.

    Reply
  10. clarky90

    “The search term “died suddenly” has spiked to an all-time high in the last two months, with data going back to 2004.”

    People are doing their own research.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I ran down the source for this. Here it is:

      Note that the y axis is this:

      Numbers represent search interest relative to the highest point on the chart for the given region and time. A value of 100 is the peak popularity for the term. A value of 50 means that the term is half as popular. A score of 0 means there was not enough data for this term.

      The numbers are not absolute, so we really do not know how many people performed this search.

      Here’s the geographic distribution:

      Reply
  11. Matthew G. Saroff

    I just want to note that the Black Panther’s entering the capitol armed to lobby lawmakers was legal at the time, though shortly afterward Governor Ronald Reagan signed into one of the strictest gun control measures in the country.

    Reply
  12. skippy

    “you democidal psycho” are you suggesting a Christian Bale/Patrick Bateman type of persona old mate, you know the type that put personal agendas above all else regardless of the collateral damage to everyone.

    BTW I think the old SNL Belushi St Patrick Day ‘Luck of the Irish’ skit is more befitting due to the conflict between romantic notion and the historical realities …

    Reply
  13. Another Scott

    I read a different article about the impact of the infrastructure bill in New Hampshire. This one about extending the commuter rail to New Hampshire.

    https://www.wmur.com/article/commuter-rail-new-hampshire-debate-returns-after-infrastructure-bill-signing/38285373

    These extensions have been very popular as constructing new projects to serve wealthier areas while public transportation in poorer areas suffers from a lack of maintenance, including major renewals.

    Of course this mentions upgrading the railroad which CSX of precision railroading fame is trying to buy. And the two people quoted work for Jacobs and AECOM, two of the largest engineering firms. Looks like they’ll get paid regardless of whether the project will get built. The PMC has got to earn its share of the Biden infrastructure bill.

    Reply
  14. Rick

    On the covid being “all over” front, it’s convenient that in the US about 1200 people (official numbers) die of it every day. That’s one per minute, so in a ten minute conversation with someone who wants to “put it all behind us” one can point out that ten people died of covid during the conversation.

    It’s not all behind us.

    Reply
    1. Mikel

      That’s more short-term thinking in action. They also don’t want wake up to the reality that once they accept this, that baseline for blind acceptance goes up with every crisis from here on out. If they can justify 750,000, then they WILL be tried for acceptance of more deaths from this death cult economy.

      Reply
    2. Soredemos

      A 9/11 every two days, roughly.

      I’d thought for years that if the US ever faced something like the 2011 Japanese tsunami (20,000 dead), it would likely simply break, because it wouldn’t have the social cohesion to absorb the impact.

      Now we’re having that every few weeks. Either this country is simply so psychotic that it in fact can absorb this and move on, or the damage and scarring is piling up under the surface, and will manifest in weird and probably horrible ways as the years go on.

      Reply
  15. Wukchumni

    Why is Kyle being turned into a hero by the right when a perfectly good martyr from January 6th debacle was available?

    Ashli Babbitt was a veteran and unarmed when a law enforcement officer shot her dead, it would seem as if she was more of what you’d want in a right to bear arms gig, not some baby-faced kid murderer.

    p.s.

    41 months in the slammer for being part of Tragic-Comedy-Con?, Shaman him.

    Reply
    1. PKMKII

      Well, they tried, but it had no sticking power.

      I think the answer is that, despite the rhetoric, the right doesn’t really want a revolution 2.0. What they want is, to be able to complain to the manager of democracy that they didn’t get want they want and that they need to fix it all to make them, the most important demo in America in their minds, happy. That’s why the 1/6 temper-tantrum turned into such a farce, they got the thing they claimed to want but found they couldn’t do anything with it because deep down, they like the status quo.

      Now, Kyle, vigilante justice, wave my self-deputized gun around as to get the “lessers” in line in the name of protecting private property, oh that is the core nugget of American conservativism.

      Reply
    2. Pelham

      Agree about Babbitt. Disagree about Rittenhouse, foolish though he was. The facts of his case strongly suggest he was defending himself in all three shootings, though we’ll have to see what the jury concludes.

      Reply
    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      Well, because Rittenhouse is closer to the model of Intrumpahamwe Militia Member they want to build with and build on for the future they hope for.

      Reply
  16. SteveD

    It’s not winter. It’s people in close quarters indoors in poorly ventilated spaces, you democidal psycho.

    Made my day, Lambert. Thank you.

    Reply
  17. antidlc

    Personal story re: worker shortage.

    Family member needed to visit a specialist. Called the office to make an appointment. Left a message. Had to call several times before the office called back to make an appointment.

    Had to make a follow up appointment. Again took several calls.

    Went to the appointment. Doctor looked worn out. Said he was moving — closing his location, moving down the road to join a practice where he was offered a partnership. Said he was moving because he would have a support staff at the new location.

    Reply
  18. Wukchumni

    I’m this close to throwing in the towel and turning my $4.01k into Bitcoin next time i’m @ the supermarket and Coinstar beckons me to the promised land of virtual milk & honey.

    $4 ain’t much, and it’s more about beating the 12% vig were I to take cash instead. See, i’m up 4 bits already!

    Maybe i’ll change my handle to Wukcrypto…

    Reply
    1. petal

      Wuk, if you change your name to Wukcrypto or whatever, what you should do is get a crypto company to sponsor it, like that arena/stadium deal the other day. Then you can totally cash in.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        I’d be willing to do an endorsement for Yapesecoin, which doesn’t exist yet.

        A rai stone (Yapese: raay), or fei stone is one of many large artifacts that were manufactured and treasured by the native inhabitants of the Yap islands in Micronesia. They are also known as Yapese stone money or similar names.

        The typical rai stone is carved out of crystalline limestone and is shaped as a disk with a hole in the center. The smallest may be 3.5 centimetres (1.4 in) in diameter. The largest extant stone is located on Rumung island, near the Riy village; it is 3.6 metres (12 ft) in diameter and 50 centimetres (20 in) thick, and weighs 4,000 kilograms (8,800 lb)

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rai_stones

        Reply
      2. Skip Intro

        I’m making an NFT of the stadium with its old name, those crypto.com suckers are sure gonna freak when they realize they can’t change it! All your stadia are belong to me!

        Reply
  19. Screwball

    RE: The Woodstock bridge

    Could they not have come up with a better photo-op than this? Aren’t we tired of the stupid stunts like this? Like these people are actually out inspecting a bridge like they know WTF they are looking at? It’s just cringe worthy, lazy, and stupid. Just as empty as the entire political apparatus.

    Let’s go Brandon (not the town where DeSantis had a presser – at least that was clever).

    Reply
      1. marym

        Possibly too polite a term for a culture of pursuing a political and social agenda by threatening to cancel people’s lives, not just their popularity on social media.

        Reply
  20. lyman alpha blob

    RE: It’s not winter. It’s people in close quarters indoors in poorly ventilated spaces, you democidal psycho.

    Anybody else noticed the many recent dire warnings that we can expect another big outbreak soon because by now everybody knows the rona is seasonal and gets worse in the winter, seemingly forgetting there were large outbreaks in other seasons, including just 2 or 3 months ago?

    Really pretty tired of being treated like a moron with no memory of anything that happened more than five minutes ago. Let’s go Brandon.

    Reply
    1. Arizona Slim

      I’m currently working with a local print shop on order. One of the guys who works there is named Brandon.

      Sorely tempted to say “Let’s go!” to him.

      Reply
      1. WobblyTelomeres

        Please don’t. I’m sure he’s heard enough of it already. Speaking as one with a name associated with infamy.

        Reply
    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Perhaps we should speak of the “indoor season”. The “indoor season” happens at different times in different places.

      If every area’s own “indoor season” is also every area’s own “covid surge season”, then making that obvious and apparent could heighten and broaden the acceptance of “indoor season” as a time-period thing.
      And that acceptance could heighten and broaden the public understanding and public support and demand for actual ventilation that actually ventilates, coupled with effective viral particle screening/filtering which actually screens and filters viral particles.

      Reply
  21. zagonostra

    >alex halpern

    750,000 people have died of covid in the last 20 months but we have all kind of collectively shrugged and decided to pretend that these are 750,000 private traumas and not a giant collective trauma and it really weirds me out.

    I don’t want to minimize the deaths, and I’m not disputing the 750K deaths as attributed to CV19. I do want to point out that according to the CDC 95% of those who died had co-morbidities. In addition we “shrugged off” the fact that 200K of those 750K could have been prevented if they had health insurance.

    Table 3 shows the types of health conditions and contributing causes mentioned in conjunction with deaths involving coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The number of deaths that mention one or more of the conditions indicated is shown for all deaths involving COVID-19 and by age groups. For over 5% of these deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned on the death certificate. For deaths with conditions or causes in addition to COVID-19, on average, there were 4.0 additional conditions or causes per death. For data on deaths involving COVID-19 by time-period, jurisdiction, and other health conditions, Socrata icon Click here to download.

    https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/covid_weekly/index.htm#Comorbidities

    https://familiesusa.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/COV-2021-64_Loss-of-Lives-Report.pdf

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      In this modern disease-o-genic civilization, more people have co-morbidities than think they have. On top of the ones who know they have comorbidities.

      Reply
    2. Soredemos

      Comordibities doesn’t mean anything. Just because covid ‘merely’ pushed someone over the edge doesn’t magically mean covid isn’t really what killed them.

      Reply
    3. Yves Smith

      Stop this co-morbidities business.

      My mother’s life expectancy even at gonna be 94 is nearly 4 years per the SSA tables. She has COPD too but takes only one prescription, an inhaler she uses only 1X a day. No emergency inhaler, no oxygen, etc.

      If she gets Covid and dies, it’s the Covid that killed, not her COPD.

      Reply
  22. Jason Boxman

    It’s interesting, what is suitable for national mourning, and what is not. Silence for the victims of September 11th, or the names of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan scrolling by at the end of PBS News Hour, but not much for the scores of Americans killed by COVID. So many of these deaths are preventable.

    Moreover, it seems western governments are hardly ready for the effects of climate change. Increasing weather disasters concomitant with a pandemic. This is going to go well, I’m certain of it. Particularly with our infallible ruling class!

    Reply
  23. Wukchumni

    A Utah man created a fictitious story of climbers battling a medical emergency and needing a helicopter rescue from high atop Denali so he could get airlifted off North America’s tallest mountain, according to federal charges.

    The circumstances around the charges against Dr. Jason Lance, of Mountain View, were referred to obliquely in early June by Denali National Park mountaineering rangers, who wrote in their blog that “not all the climbers who hope to spend time in the Alaska Range this year are fully prepared for the challenges they’ll encounter.”

    In the blog, they added that the desire to summit the 20,310-foot massif during this year’s climbing season at times led to “the dissolution of climbing teams at 14,000 feet, where one or more members of an expedition decide that they are not going any higher, but the remaining member (s) are undeterred. In many cases these determined climbers end up forming loose coalitions with other individuals who they have just met for the first time and who are equally summit-driven. Collectively, this is a recipe for disaster.”

    In the charges against Lance (attached below), the acting U.S. Attorney for Alaska said the doctor interfered with a Denali National Park climbing ranger who also was a law enforcement officer, failed to follow the ranger’s lawful order, and filed a false report in a bid to get rescued by helicopter.

    https://www.nationalparkstraveler.org/2021/11/utah-man-charged-creating-fictitious-emergency-be-rescued-denali

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      Think the park service calls them “drag outs”–big thing at the Grand Canyon.

      But those are just innocent tourists. This guy sounds like bad news.

      Reply
  24. Mo.B

    >Bivens pointed to the fact that the package is not deficit spending, but entirely or almost entirely financed by taxes.

    As Stephanie Kelton teaches in her book, the fact that spending is “paid for” by taxes is not relevant when deciding whether it will cause inflation. I don’t think that is obscure or hard to understand. People on the left should stop repeating false arguments just because they think it helps our side, because of course it really does not.

    Reply
  25. Kevin Carhart

    idea for sources to curate or check in on, if you don’t already: libcom.org

    It’s a major gathering point for the “other” left, besides a DSA approach and besides the WSWS and people who condone vanguards.

    There’s a lot of reporting on strikes, IWW, direct action getting the goods, wildcatting, co-ops. This strand has got its problems, but that is also true of the tiny parties and the electoral progressives…

    The quality of the writing is often excellent.

    Reply
  26. Daryl

    > Harris says 2024 is ‘absolutely not’ being discussed yet with Biden

    Alternatively, it’s being discussed. Just not with Kamala.

    Reply
  27. dogwood

    Terrific interview with Chris Arnade. “Krystal and Saagar are joined by author and writer Chris Arnade to talk about his experiences with the unvaccinated working class underbelly of America who go almost entirely unheard by elites.”
    

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikB0qVf4tSQ


    Reply
  28. Jason Boxman

    What Happens After the Worst of the Pandemic Is Behind Us?

    The fact that the United States fared so poorly, despite all the seeming advantages that dazzled those experts, is a profound sign of how decayed our institutions and capacity have become. To understand how we fell so far short and to navigate a second full Covid winter and future pandemics and challenges requiring collective action, it’s important to review the outbreak’s early days to see why the United States — once considered the global leader in public health — is floundering in mistrust, paranoia and exhaustion.

    Sober look at the future and how we got here.

    Also:

    I’ve made peace with the idea of getting an eventual breakthrough infection myself — my risk for severe outcomes seems low and similar to other things I do in life — but I would hate to pass Covid-19 to someone else.

    My person reaction to having that happen is no thanks, but more vulgar. With long-COVID in the mix, I’d rather not take my chances. But to each his own.

    Reply

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