2:00PM Water Cooler 11/29/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Darwin*’s finches, “foraging or eating.” Plus plenty of background chatter. Five minutes, so you can prepare coffee if I am late. NOTE * Yay.

The sound of crinkling foil:

I think it’s PhotoShopped (the “WAKE UP” at left doesn’t blend with the front fender’s surface). Then again, this is America, so maybe not.

“Wildlife artist paints a book of love letters to Malaysia’s birds” [Globe_]. • Indeed, lovely paintings.

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Because what we laughingly call our government does not deem a pandemic sufficient cause to collect or process data over a long holiday weekend, all these charts are really screwed up, and some haven’t been updated at all. It will take a few days to return to form, such as it is. –lambert

Vaccination by region:

59% of the US is fully (doubly) vaccinated (CDC data, as of November 23. Mediocre by world standards, being just below Estonia, and just above Thailand in the Financial Times league tables as of this Monday). No change from last week, but I assume that’s a holiday data issue.

Case count by United States regions:

An enormous drop, just like the enormous drop 368 days ago on 26 November 2020, a Thursday.

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.)

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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 the current 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:

(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. The case data still looks like it’s trying to break out of the grey area. We shall see.

MWRA (Boston-area) wastewater detection:

Looks like all the students left for Thanksgiving. Bringing their viral load with them?

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” (PDF), “Rapid Riser” counties. This, at least, was updated November 24:

Status quo, pretty much, except for Maine. Maine worries me because I worry about something coming across the border from Quebec, having originated in the Francophonie; note the County got red first. The counter-argument here would be that Upstate New York, subject the same cross-border traffic, got less red, not more. So, fingers crossed. Maybe it’s all the out-of-states from New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

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. Note that Massachusetts is vertical. We detected a rise first in wastewater data, then in case data, now in hospitalizations. So there are times when the data is good. Just not all the time!

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 799,414 796,420. 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:

Adding South Africa. Remember this is a log scale. Sorry for the kerfuffle at the left. No matter how I tinker, it doesn’t go away.

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

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

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

Biden Administration

“Friends, I have wasted a day.” –The Emperor Titus

“Citizens, I have squandered a year.” –President Biden

“Blame Fauci for the delay in halting Omicron’s spread in America” [New York Post]. “US regulations require all airline travelers to present proof of vaccination — but read the fine print. The regulations exempt travelers from countries where vaccination rates are very low. That’s crazy. Just 6 percent of Africa’s population is vaccinated. To quantify the danger Fauci created by delaying the travel ban, consider two flights that landed Friday in Amsterdam from Johannesburg and Cape Town, with 600 passengers in all. On arrival, 10 percent of those passengers tested positive for COVID-19 and were subjected to tests for Omicron. Thirteen, it turns out, carried the variant. It’s plausible that 10 percent of passengers arriving in the United States from South Africa over the weekend carried the virus as well, including some with Omicron. Thank you, Dr. Fauci.” • Fauci — hence Biden — does not seem to understand the precautionary principle, though to be fair, I don’t think the Post’s attack dog writer does either. The writer also doesn’t mention Biden’s so-called travel banwhich doesn’t apply to US citizens, presumably because the new variant is smart enough to check passports.

“FDA nomination slips after Biden admin fails to send papers to Congress” [Politico]. “A plan to speed Robert Califf’s nomination for FDA commissioner through the Senate next month is on hold after the Biden administration failed to submit the necessary paperwork to Congress in time, three people with knowledge of the matter told POLITICO…. The document submission is a formality in the confirmation process, but must be completed to ensure senators have all the materials they need to fully consider a nominee…. Three Democratic senators have already expressed deep reservations about Califf’s candidacy over his connection to the FDA’s decision-making on opioids, as well as his work for a variety of pharmaceutical companies. Still, the White House is counting on Califf winning some Republican support in the evenly divided Senate, as well as the vast majority of Democrats.” • The adults in the room were supposed to handle this stuff. What’s going on?

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A non-gotcha, how refreshing:

The whole thread is worth a read.

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. If the Democrat Party fails to govern, that’s because the PMC lacks the capability to govern. (“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.

For an example of the class power that the PMC can wield, look no further than RussiaGate. All the working parts of the Democrat Party fired on all cylinders to cripple an elected President; it was very effective, and went on for years. Now imagine that the same Party had worked, during Covid, to create an alternative narrative — see Ferguson et al., supra, to see what such a narrative might have looked like, and with the unions (especially teachers) involved. At the very least, the Biden Administration would have had a plan, and the ground prepared for it. At the best, a “parallel government” (Gene Sharp #198) would have emerged, ready to take power in 2020. Instead, all we got was [genuflects] Tony Fauci. And Cuomo and Newsom butchering their respective Blue States, of course. The difference? With RussiaGate, Democrats were preventing governance. In my alternative scenario, they would have been preparing for it.

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.

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“Democrats can’t win elections and can’t govern, so stop supporting them and send your money somewhere that will actually help” [Business Insider]. “In local elections, progressives and socialists won important seats at the table, like the election of Michelle Wu as mayor of Boston. Candidates backed by the Democratic Socialists of America won elections in Massachusetts, Minnesota, and elsewhere. And more critically, a wave of non-electoral radicalism is sweeping the country: Tens of thousands of workers, from machinists at John Deere to film production workers in Hollywood, have gone on strike and demanded higher wages and better benefits. Even the much-maligned nationwide labor shortage can be viewed as a progressive win: It’s an unofficial general strike. Americans have decided they would rather not work than give in to appalling working conditions and low pay. Polls show Americans support progressive policies and support for unions is higher than it’s been in 50 years. These are all signs of a swelling progressive movement in this country. But for this movement to continue, the average Democrat has to completely reconfigure their own priorities: How much bigger could each strike be if the billions of dollars committed to failing electoral campaigns were instead committed to strike funds and local labor organizations? How many more local candidates who really have a chance of enacting significant change could win elections were Democrats’ attention spans not filled up with ineffective national politics? Democrats are currently operating according to the sunk cost fallacy — like a gambler who thinks just one more hand will get him out of debt. The only option now is to simply walk out of the casino.” • Good point on the strike funds.

“Chicago area Democrat staffer forced to resign after linking Rittenhouse verdict to Waukesha killings, saying it was ‘karma'” [Journal-Sentinel]. “A Chicago area Democratic operative was ousted Monday after posting a series of tweets linking the Kyle Rittenhouse acquittal to the Waukesha parade killings. ‘You reap what you sow, Wisconsin,’ wrote Mary Lemanski, who had been the social media manager for the the Democratic Party of DuPage County until the party said it ‘severed ties’ with her after her tweets. ‘It was probably just self-defense #Wisconsin #KyleRittenhouse,’ she tweeted Sunday night after five people were killed and more than 40 injured when an SUV rammed into the annual Waukesha Christmas Parade. She added: ‘I’m sad. I’m sad anytime anyone dies. I just believe in Karma and this came around quick on the citizens of Wisconsin.’ In an early Monday morning reply to Twitter comments, Lemanski wrote that ‘the blood of Kyle Rittenhouse’s victims is on the hands of Wisconsin citizens, even the children,’ according to the Daily Herald, a suburban Chicago newspaper.” • Cf. Matt 18:21-22.


“The Buttigieg presidential buzz has hit the White House” [Politico]. “Sinema, who has occasionally given the White House and progressives fits, seemed delighted to appear with Buttigieg at a round table at Mesa Community College where he sat between the two senators. ‘Thanks for your leadership,’ in getting the infrastructure bill signed, Buttigieg said.” • A quick study.

Obama Legacy

Wait for it….

Stats Watch

Manufacturing: “United States Dallas Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas’ general business activity index for manufacturing in Texas fell slightly to 11.8 in November of 2021, from a three-month high of 14.6 in October. The production index, a key measure of state manufacturing conditions, rose 9 points to 27.4, a reading well above average and indicative of robust output growth. Other measures of manufacturing activity also indicated a further pickup in growth.”

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Commodities: “Copper firms as low inventories outweigh Omicron fears” [Reuters]. “Copper prices climbed on Monday as fears about further damage to growth and demand from the Omicron coronavirus variant were outweighed by low inventories of the industrial metal.”

Commodities: “Iron Ore Surges as China’s Steel Mills Prepare to Restock” [Bloomberg]. “Iron ore futures in Singapore jumped nearly 10% as optimism over a bout of restocking by China’s steel mills added to tailwinds from the risk-on mood in global markets. Prices rebounded from Friday’s pandemic-driven losses alongside a rally across commodities from nickel to crude oil on bets the impact of a new coronavirus variant may not be as severe as initially feared.” • I certainly hope whoever spread the “mild” rumor traded on it!

Commodities: “Helium removed from US critical minerals list” [Gas World]. “Helium has not been included in the US Geological Survey’s (USGS) 2021 Draft List of Critical Minerals, published in the Federal Register on 9th November. The USGS, an agency under the Department of the Interior (DOI), is required by the Energy Act of 2020 to refresh the List of Critical Minerals at least every three years and the previous list of 35 critical minerals was published in May of 2018. Helium, which is critical for applications such as semiconductor chip manufacturing, aerospace, MRI scanning, optical fibre manufacturing and nuclear power generation, and which has been prone to recurring shortages, was included on the 2018 list so it is a surprise to see helium not included on the draft 2021 list…. While the US is not yet dependent on foreign supply, it seems very shortsighted on the part of the USGS to remove helium from the List of Critical Minerals, when the ongoing decline of domestic production puts us on a path toward reliance on foreign sources, and the primary alternatives to US production will be located in countries that are all subject to either geopolitical risk or supply chain disruption.” • OK, the USGS minerals list is a draft, and the writer is ticked and wants the draft changed. Are they wrong?

Retail: “Best Buy robbed by large group in Minnesota on Black Friday” [The Hill]. • Who says we’re an atomized society?

Shipping: “Toy makers are working around the clock to overcome supply chain snags” [Los Angeles Times]. Here is the lead, eight paragraphs in: “Control of about 80% of the global shipping market and 95% of the transpacific routes is concentrated in the hands of nine companies based mainly in Asia and Europe, according to S&P Global Platts, and they exert near-total control over the prices. It currently costs $10,000 to $15,000 in the spot market to ship a 40-foot container from China to the West Coast, more than five times the pre-pandemic rate.” • So, exactly like the pandemic itself, what’s not to like?


My impression is that Mainers universally believe that heating oil prices are manipulated, and that one way oil companies manipulate supply is by managing the speed of tankers. So I wonder if something similar is going on here. Not that I’m foily.

Shipping: “Hundreds of FedEx packages are found in Alabama woods” [ABC]. “An Alabama sheriff is trying to figure out how hundreds of FedEx packages ended up dumped in the woods. An estimated 300 to 400 packages of various sizes were found in a ravine near the small town of Hayden on Wednesday, the Blount County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. Deputies were sent to guard the scene until FedEx workers could arrive to pick up the packages, Sheriff Mark Moon said. FedEx sent multiple trucks and drivers from across the South to load up the packages, Moon said.” • FedEx is non-union. Just saying.

Shipping: “Reluctant Merchants Are Embracing Amazon’s Chartered Ships This Holiday Season” [gGaptain]. “[Amazon’s] logistical prowess hasn’t been lost on the merchants who sell products on Amazon’s sprawling marketplace. For years, they resisted using the company’s global shipping service because doing so means sharing information about pricing and suppliers, data they fear the company could use to compete with them. But container shortages in the leadup to the holiday season persuaded many of them to overcome their qualms and entrust their cargos to the world’s largest online retailer. ‘Amazon had space on ships and I couldn’t say no to anyone,’ says David Knopfler, whose Brooklyn-based Lights.com sells home décor and lighting fixtures. ‘If Kim Jong Un had a container, I might take it, too. I can’t be idealistic.’ Knopfler says Amazon’s prices were ‘phenomenal,’ $4,000 to ship a container from China compared with the $12,000 demanded by other freight forwarders. Amazon also simplifies the process since it oversees the shipment from China to its U.S. warehouses. Other services have lots of intermediaries where cargo swaps hands, presenting opportunities for miscommunication and delays.” • Goodness, I wonder why Amazon’s prices were so good. I realize Knopfler had no choice, but that’s rather the point, isn’t it?

The Bezzle: “The Token Disconnect” [Stephen Deihl]. Important! “To the overwhelming majority of us in the software engineering profession who live closest to the metal, we see blockchain as a technology that barely works and whose use cases (if any) are vanishingly small and niche. Blockchains are a solution in search of a problem, but in the meantime we’re expected to pre-invest in ‘tokens’ while the decades roll by with seemingly no progress on the fundamental question of ‘For what?’. It all looks like a form of reverse-innovation where discovery precedes purpose. Perhaps it is our field’s version of string theory, theoretically-plausible castles in the sky which are built on unfalsifiable claims and are only loosely tethered to reality. But what really triggers our engineer ‘baloney detection’ alarm, is that it’s a set of incoherent ideas attached to so many get rich quick schemes. The venture capitalist class sees crypto in a vastly different and largely incommensurate way. At its core their profession is simply about one thing: returning money to their LPs. Crypto offers an genuinely exciting new financial tool for that purpose, arbitraging securities regulation.” • Commentary:

I hadn’t thought of “founder” and “fraudster” as synonyms, but I suppose it was only a matter of time…

The Bezzle: “The ‘Buy’ Button in The iTunes Store” [Truth in Advertising]. “A new class-action lawsuit alleges Apple misleads consumers by advertising that they can “buy” digital content when Apple does not own all of the movies, shows and music it sells in its iTunes store and must revoke access to content if its license to the content is terminated…. A similar class-action complaint was filed against Amazon regarding its Prime Video streaming service in April 2020. Last month that lawsuit was dismissed without prejudice, meaning an amended version of the complaint can be filed.”

The Bezzle: “StubHub refund ruling highlights Calif. precedent companies despise” [Reuters]. “U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam of Oakland on Monday refused to compel arbitration of California state-law claims by a class of consumers who allege that StubHub Inc wrongfully changed its cash refund policies when COVID-19 forced widespread event cancellations. StubHub’s terms of service include a provision requiring individual arbitration of consumer claims, but Gilliam ruled that the company cannot enforce the provision for claims under California law because of state supreme court precedent from 2017’s McGill v. Citibank NA…. The StubHub case is a good example of how McGill has empowered plaintiffs to push for class litigation. It also shows why the California precedent is so bitterly despised by corporate defendants that are now hoping for help from the U.S. Supreme Court.”

The Bezzle: Oopsie:

The Bezzle: “Uber Survived the Spying Scandal. Their Careers Didn’t.” [New York Times]. • I dunno. After RussiaGate, I wouldn’t trust a story the Times wrote on supposedly former intelligence operatives as far as I could throw the Taj Mahal, whether they left for the private sector or not.

Tech: “Jack Dorsey Steps Down as Twitter CEO, Replaced by CTO Parag Agrawal” [Bloomberg]. “Jack Dorsey, the co-founder and chief executive officer of Twitter Inc., is stepping down, ceding the position to the company’s Chief Technology Officer Parag Agrawal… ‘I’ve decided to leave Twitter because I believe the company is ready to move on from its founders,’ Dorsey said in the statement. ‘My trust in Parag as Twitter’s CEO is deep. His work over the past 10 years has been transformational. I’m deeply grateful for his skill, heart, and soul. It’s his time to lead.’ And more: “‘The headline takeaway here is Twitter’s execution,’ said Mandeep Singh, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence. ‘When you compare Twitter to all the other social media platforms, the level of engagement they had, they never were able to monetize it as well as some’ other rivals.” • “Other rivals” = Facebook, meaning Wall Street also wants Twitter to become a cesspit of algorithmic manipulation. Lambert here: People love to whinge about Twitter, but I think you get from it what you bring to it (which Facebook’s newsfeed makes impossible). I belong to several nice little neighborhoods in Twitter that are very important to me. Further, Twitter, as a meeting ground for the great unwashed, the press, and policy makers and academics of a certain level, performs an important social function much like the blogosphere once did. It’s impossible for me to imagine, for example, that the aerosol science thought collective would gotten the traction it did without Twitter. That translates directly into lives saved. I take some hope from the fact that the CTO is Dorsey’s successor, not the CFO, heaven forfend, or some lawyer or private equity weasel. Note to Agrawal: I would pay a reasonable monthly fee for Twitter that didn’t perform any algorithmic manipulation on my feed whatever, including censorship. Let me do that. Also, give me simple HTML, including links, in the Tweet body. C’mon, dude, it’s the Internet! I would bet there are others who feel the same. (Maybe the $3.00/month version does, but frankly, $3.00 feels so cheap there can’t be value. Irrational reaction to pricing, I know, but there we are!)

Supply Chain: “Holiday shopping ‘hell’: workers brace for unruly customers and labor strikes” [Guardian]. Why on earth would workers have to “brace” for a strike? More: “Isabella Burrows, 19, started working at PetSmart in Michigan just ahead of the holiday shopping season in 2020. ‘It was one of the worst things I’ve had to work through. We didn’t have enough people to deal with those crowds. We had three registers and there were lines around and out the doors for how much traffic we had,’ said Burrows. This year, Burrows is scheduled to work from 3 to 11.30pm on Black Friday at a store one hour away from where she lives. She was transferred from a closer store in May after complaining to human resources that her manager downplayed and dismissed the tragic death of her 12-year-old brother two days after it happened. Though she has different managers at her new store, she still fears asking anything from management, while still grappling with the trauma from the incident at her previous store, ongoing worries about Covid-19, and bracing for the influx of store traffic and aggressive customers during the holiday shopping season.” • So, that Petsmart manager really fulfilled their social function big-time, didn’t they?

Mr. Market: “Top Glove Jumps 21% as Omicron Variant Concerns Boost Outlook” [Bloomberg]. “The two-day gains in glove makers are reminiscent of the eye-popping rallies seen by medical wear companies last year before vaccine rollouts, the economic reopening and forced labor allegations weighed on their outlook. The sector was one of the hottest pandemic trades in 2020 but many of the glove producers more than halved in their market value this year.” • If I played the ponies, I would have been long stupid. Maybe hedging with a little flutter on alternative delivery technologies to syringes.

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 37 Greed (previous close: 33 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 64 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 29 at 11:36am. Omicron.

Rapture Index: Closes down one on Oil Supply/Price. “Oil prices have declined in the past few weeks” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 183. (Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing, so higher is better.)

The Biosphere

“The Arctic Ocean began warming decades earlier than previously thought, new research shows” [CNN]. “The Arctic Ocean has been warming since the onset of the 20th century, decades earlier than instrument observations would suggest, according to new research. The study, published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, found that the expansion of warm Atlantic Ocean water flowing into the Arctic, a phenomenon known as ‘Atlantification,’ has caused Arctic water temperature in the region studied to increase by around 2 degrees Celsius since 1900. Francesco Muschitiello, an author on the study and assistant professor of geography at the University of Cambridge, said the findings were worrisome because the early warming suggests there might be a flaw in the models scientists use to predict how the climate will change.”

Health Care

“Shining a light on more efficient nasal vaccines” [Advanced Science News] Wiley. From Korea. “The same mechanisms that protect us from inhaled particles and pathogens create a barrier to vaccine antigens. Lining the respiratory tract is a layer of mucus that immobilizes foreign material and fine hairs — or cilia — that sweep them back out. In the case of vaccine development, antigens are usually cleaned out of the nasal passage before a robust immune response can be generated. The research team, led by Professor Kun Na of The Catholic University of Korea, improved the retention of their vaccine in the nasal cavity, and super-charged the ensuing immune response with light. They combined the properties that would make a more effective intranasal vaccine into a nanoparticle held together by electrostatic interactions. Their nanoparticle complex consists of a harmless viral protein — influenza hemagglutinin — and a light sensitive polymer. Particulate antigens resist clearance from the nasal passage better than smaller proteins. And the positively charged polymer attaches more avidly to the negatively charged surface of epithelial cells that line the mucosa. Once administered into the nasal cavity, a laser is used to activate the polymer to generate reactive oxygen species. This in turn stimulates the maturation and activation of immune cells and augments the specific immune response against the virus. ‘Light activation of nanoparticulate vaccine can act as an adjuvant that allows nanoparticles to better penetrate the intranasal mucosal layer and increase the immune response,’ said lead author and graduate student, Hayoon Jeong.” • Light as an adjuvant… Certainly lateral thinking!

“Clinical study shows therapeutic sleep training for older adults can prevent depression” [USA Today]. “A new clinical study revealed that therapeutic sleep training can ease symptoms of depression in older adults. The form of cognitive behavioral sleep training, tabbed CBT-I, helps teach adults how to break bad habits to prep their mind and body for a good night’s sleep. The peer-reviewed study, published last week in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, showed that adults who have insomnia can are less likely to develop depression. The study’s findings are among the first to show evidence of treating insomnia through a behavior strategy and not medication. According to research outlined in the study, 30% to 50% of older adults experience insomnia, which has become a major risk factor for depression and, in turn, suicide rates.”

Taleb is correct about printed books, which are more pleasurable to read and easier on the eyes than eBooks*:

But why is Taleb reading medical textbooks?

NOTE When writing my post on O’Brian’s Far Side of the World, I needed a quote (“The horizon all round was a blackish purple….”) As so often, I opened the book directly to the passage I wanted. Not sure what capability my brain was calling on, here, but I do know this has never happened to me with any electronic document, I assume because the lack of tactility means a lack of spatiality, and hence no ability to navigate (unconsciously). Not a miracle of navigation like those performed by salmon or pigeons but not [lambert preens] entirely unimpressive.

Best call ever?

Or this?

Thanksgiving Post Mortem

Somehow I missed this:

Just a half a mile from the railroad track:

Well — flapping my newspaper, Colonel Blimp style — I was very young at 19, and very stupid, too.

Zeitgeist Watch

“The metaverse is just the latest incarnation of Las Vegas” [Izabella Kaminska, Financial Times]. “BBC documentary maker Adam Curtis’ once opined that ‘all of us in the west — not just the politicians and the journalists and the experts, but we ourselves — have retreated into a simplified, and often completely fake version of the world.’ The forward march to the metaverse pushes this trend to the extreme. It sends the message that perhaps our true world is so corrupted, so divided and so unfair, that it isn’t worth saving after all. Alternatively, we can photoshop reality to the point we can all pretend everything is as pretty as we experience it in our own heads. Also known as cultivating delusions: don’t worry about your lousy life, come join us in your own dreamworld. Not only is this a damning verdict on digital technology’s capacity to generate growth on the ground, it’s a recognition that future growth is now, more than ever, dependent on initiating a brain drain away from attempts to improve things in base reality.There is no better metaphor for what’s going on than the story of how Las Vegas was turned from a barren Nevada wasteland into a hedonistic escape from the harsh realities of The Great Depression in the 1930s.” • Sadly, Kaminska is leaving the FT. I wish her well!

Class Warfare

“COVID Parenting Is Reaching a Breaking Point” [The Atlantic]. “How can it be that even after two years, I won’t be able to meet my friends and their kids at the aquarium, or a museum, or a pizza place without dedicating brain space to what we’re all risking?” I knew this would be awful, and it was awful. The author interviews “a small group of my Atlantic colleagues” with children: All senior editors living in New York City or Washington, D.C. All working from home. Also from the Atlantic: “In reality, only 13.4 percent worked from home” [in August]. • Look, I have an “email job” too, very luckily for me. But I don’t whinge about my First World problems in the pages of the Atlantic, either. And I also don’t erase people with kids and a 60-hour-a-week job in an Amazon warehouse either — talk about a “breaking point’! — as all these nice NPR totebaggers did in their interview. I think the 100 – 13.4 = 86.6% are a lot more important on every level: Materially, politically. Morally. The tagline at the bottom says it all: “The Atlantic’s COVID-19 coverage is supported by grants from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.” Facebook money paid for the Atlantic to interview its own employees ffs.

News of the Wired

“Why a toaster from 1949 is still smarter than any sold today” [The Verge]. “When you stick a piece of bread into [ the Sunbeam Radiant Control Toaster, sold from 1949 all the way through the late ‘80s], it pushes down a series of cleverly designed levers that have just enough tension to lower and raise two slices all by themselves — and it’s got a mechanical thermostat inside that stops your bread toasting when it’s toasted and ready, NOT after some arbitrary amount of time.” • Wait. There’s no app?

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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 (Re Silc):

Re Silc writes: “Wonderful old trees in Rock Creek Park, Maryland.” Hoom hoom!

* * *

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If you hate PayPal, you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check. Thank you!2:00PM Water Cooler 6/8/2021

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Zephyrum

    Joseph Allen tweets in part:

    Everyone is fully vaxxed and boosted, so masks provide limited benefit

    And yet I keep reading that vaccinated people can still transmit Covid. In NC’s Campaign to Protect Christmas article GM comments that we need mucosal immunity, which is not provided by RNA vaccines. (Bill Gates made the same point in an interview linked from NC a couple weeks ago.) My studies of the links where indicate that transmission of the original “wild” Covid was reduced by vaccination, but that the Delta variant transmission is not substantially reduced by vaccination.

    So why the continuous messaging that if you’re vaccinated you’re not harming anyone? I’ve had an infection followed by thee shots now, but I still wear a mask around others. It seems to be the least one can do.

    1. Yves Smith

      I want to tear my hair out. This is utterly false. We know that the vaccines do close to nothing and potentially nothing to prevent transmission of Delta. And this study was publicized in the mainstream media last week. For instance:

      Mask-wearing is the single most effective public health measure at tackling Covid, according to the first global study of its kind, which found that the measure was linked to a 53% fall in the incidence of the disease….

      Now a systematic review and meta analysis of non-pharmaceutical interventions has found for the first time that mask wearing, social distancing and handwashing are all effective measures at curbing cases – with mask wearing the most effective.


      Rochelle Walensky has even made a similar statement recently:


      Now a systematic review and meta analysis of non-pharmaceutical interventions has found for the first time that mask wearing, social distancing and handwashing are all effective measures at curbing cases – with mask wearing the most effective.

      1. Carla

        “Now a systematic review and meta analysis of non-pharmaceutical interventions has found for the first time that mask wearing, social distancing and handwashing are all effective measures at curbing cases – with mask wearing the most effective.”

        But not ventilation?

      2. chris

        Listening to all the talking heads spout off about Omicron makes me so depressed. It seems like the only thing we’ve learned over the last 2 years is how to efficiently deploy bad talking points that give the PMC a false sense of security.

    2. Duke of Prunes

      I have another, perhaps similar question, that comes from Stoller’s tweet. Do “we” (the NC brain trust) really believe that the virus mutations are more likely to come from the unvaccinated? It seems like the unvaccinated are getting blamed, but doesn’t the virus mutate regardless of vax status (as the vax is non-sterilizing)? And wouldn’t a virus that survived by mutating within a vaccinated person be more likely to resist the vaccine… similar to the way that widespread use of antibiotics lead to antibiotic resistant pathogens?

      Standard disclaimer: Sorry if this has been already asked and answered, but, as much as I try, I can’t read everything everyday. I hope this doesn’t come across as antivax. I’m not antivax, just trying to understand. And I’m incredibly grateful to all the contributors to this site.

      1. Yves Smith

        No, this is correct. There is no evidence that the unvaccinated produce more mutations. In fact there’s an argument that the vaccines since they don’t eliminate transmission pressure the virus to mutate to evade the vaccines.

        1. Zhivago, MD

          Coronavirus replicates at a higher rate in the unvaccinated compared to the vaccinated. The virus does not evade; it has no agency. A single virus replicating in vivo will produce three transcript-able base-pair mutations out of 30,000 base-pairs every thirty days. It will take up to five years for the virus to genetically drift out of its current configuration, mean expectancy 2.5 years with fuzzy math.

          In the unvaccinated, novel mutations have a greater comparative advantage because the virus can complete more replication cycles with unimpeded spike proteins re: delayed immunosuppression. It takes longer for the vaccinated individual to reach a given viral load threshold: less mutations per hour per person.

          Bacterial resistance to antibiotics is largely a function of a particular subset of patients sequestered in the hospital and exposed to medical devices. Bacterial cell membranes become robust enough to survive disinfectants without losing function because of the incidence of immunocompromised.

          1. Yves Smith

            There aren plenty of differences between theory and practice. The vaccines were not designed for Delta but for wild type, so a somewhat different spike protein. And Delta has vastly more brute replication force than CDC confirmed that the nasal viral load for the vaccinated and unvaccinated are the same, contradicting your theory.

            Moreover the way the vaccines prevent hospitalization is they help in clearing the virus. That process largely takes place after symptom onset, which is when viral shedding, ie contagion, occurs.

            The lack of success of the current vaccines in preventing/reducing contagion is confirmed by:

            Repeated examples of outbreaks in countries with vax rates over 90%, such as Ireland, Iceland, Israel, and Gibraltar

            A very large scale study finding zero correlation between vaccination levels and Covid cases: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8481107/

            And the vaccines are giving the virus more opportunity to reproduce. It is not sterilizing and as we showed is not stopping or even dampening transmission in the real world. By contrast, if we did not have vaccines, we would be pursuing eradication. So the vaccines in the end will produce more deaths, as we can see from authorities arguing we have to learn to live with it.

            You need to provide data, not assertions.

            1. BlakeFelix

              Also to my understanding unvaccinated people would develop more broad spectrum anticovid antibodies, while the vaccines focus on the spike. So spike antibody evading virons would be at a greater advantage against vaccinated people than people with previous COVID exposure, even if the previous exposure was during the mutation event. Not that vaccines are a bad idea, but I would expect them to favor vaccine evading strains.

    3. chris

      GM is correct. It is an assumption that the antibodies and immune benefit get from the blood into the nasal mucous. They’ve discussed that a few times on TWIV. That’s one of the reasons why people are pursuing a nasal vaccine now.

      It’s also a great reason to make sure you have an indoor relative humidity level of 40%. Keeping your mucous membranes in good shape is an important feature of a healthy immune system.

    4. Objective Ace

      Even ignoring the negative externalities to everyone else, these are a bunch of 80 year olds here–since vaccines only lower your absolute risk to that of someone approximately 20 years younger–their risk level is on par with an unvaccinated 60 year old. Going by what the media is telling us–these people are still very much in danger (though I imagine they will have much more medical options available then us normies if they need it)

  2. Angie Neer

    Tangentially related to the Tesla hitting the camel (ugh), does anybody know whether a Tesla on auto-pilot can be pulled over by a cop? It seems to me that should be a basic requirement of a robot car, if in fact any government agency is attempting to impose requirements on them at all.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      I bet Musk never thought of that. And since police will not be instructed about that fact, they will interpret a robo-failure to stop as a suspect refusal to stop. And will then shoot-to-kill the prisoner-of-Musk inside the car.

      After enough such police-killings of Musk hostages due to ” refusal to stop”, perhaps some of the survivors will think to sue Musk himself about it.

      1. jr

        Didn’t someone post something about Tesla’s not seeing first responder’s cars and trucks? How long before a first responder gets sideswiped walking along a highway or getting out of a vehicle? This probably isn’t news but it just hit me.

        1. Basil Pesto

          Didn’t someone post something about Tesla’s not seeing first responder’s cars and trucks?

          You mean all those captcha’s I’ve done over the years have been for nothing?!

      2. Gc54

        No, Tesla will just roll out an over-the-air update so that the surviving kin can find another Beta-failure. Hint: don’t buy the white interior, it will show the blood.

    2. Anthony Stegman

      What about auto-piloted police cars? Or autonomous police cars? Will robot police be pulling over robot vehicles and ticketing them? Can the robot vehicle challenge the ticket in court?

      1. Wukchumni

        We start our kayak trip on the Colorado River from the parking lot of the Hoover Dam Lodge which is near it’s namesake, and there are no humans in it’s casino dealing blackjack, craps, roulette, or anything, for if you wish to gamble it’ll be against a machine (I spent a good couple minutes leering at the computer video image of the girl next door dealing blackjack with a beaming smile if you won-and a demure ah shucks when you lost), which got me thinking-hey what if you sent your machine in to gamble against their machines?

    3. expr

      If you hit a moose, the moose goes thru the windshield with bad results for the driver
      I wonder if a camel is tall enough to go over the roof
      I wonder if the body of the camel is tall enough that the various detection devices only see the legs

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          high school buddy had a van…mobile pot smoking place.
          had a spiderweb crack in the windshield that he never got around to/couldn’t afford to fix.
          one day, he’s cruising down the highway and a buzzard swoops in front of him, and crashes right through the windshield…hopped around puking* on the passenger seat until he could finally pull over.
          the smell was the worst…and unremovable. he had to junk the van.

          (* puking is the buzzard’s defense mechanism)

  3. anon y'mouse

    i would pay a hundred smackers for a toaster made exactly like that, especially if it meant i never had to buy another toaster. every modern toaster i’ve had has been an item that requires babysitting, tender treatment and then breaks anyway.

    but therein lies the problem with that plan, because corporations don’t survive the decades when their products can.

    would never think to purchase one that needs me to communicate with the internet via my phone to choose doneness. it’s none of the hacker’s business what my toast preference is.

    this has been your neighborhood curmudgeon, telling you yet again that everything (mechanical) was better in the olde days.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      when my grandmother died a few years ago, and we wre tasked with packing up all the odds and ends, that’s the kind of thing i ran off with(everybody else would have just tossed that stuff).
      so we use a mid 50’s-mid 60-s(?-definitely older than i am(52)) blender…splendidly art-deco with a cool but rugged heavy glass jar and what appears to be a bakelite lid.
      weighs almost 8 pounds.
      and, to my great surprise, there’s apparently a warehouse somewhere full of Waring parts…b/c i wanted to change the cord…it being the only part that looked a little worse for wear…and rooted around on the internet and found everything needed to rebuild that exact model for dirt cheap.(not that i need to, is the point, here)
      the toaster…of similar vintage and style and robustity…is an objet d’art at mom’s, sadly.
      similarly with the tools…as i’ve rambled bout before: i have great-grandad’s brace and bits…from maybe the 20’s…for holes in telephone poles for gate hinges way out in pastures…no battry to charge….and even things like bench grinders: my best one is from the 50’s.

      no curmudgeonness required…such things really were better made in the old days.

      1. Pat

        My grandparents had a two slice Sunbeam toaster. It has been my standard for decades. Not having one, I go through occasional bouts of buying a toaster, the last one over ten years ago. I inevitably go back to skillet toasting because despite its obvious defects it is still better than any toaster I have gotten. My mother swore by the Dualit that was delivered to her mistakenly, but I hesitate to spend over two hundred dollars on a toaster to possibly hate it, even if I am impressed by its production process.

        1. CanCyn

          We love our Dualit toaster -purchased last year after being fed up with crappy toaster after crappy toaster. It is not as magical as the Sunbeam model being discussed here but it works well and is repairable. Not smart, no computer chips.

          1. Basil Pesto

            yeah it’s the superior way to toast. Broiler/oven grill also likely to give better results. Both more involved and leave more dishes to be done, though (assuming you use a baking tray for broiler method)

      2. Martin Oline

        Did ya get the washer, dryer, or refridgerator? When I lived out in Inverness in the ’80’s we had a GE refridgerator from the 1930’s that worked. It did ice up a bit and was probably not too efficient. It was the type with a motor with evaporator coils wrapped around it on top of the box. Imagine my surprise on seeing one on exhibit in 1991 at the Iowa Historical museum. I thought that’s a workable machine. Why is it here?

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          ya…i’ve had her “Coolerator” for some years… it worked when i unilaterally retired it due to cloth on aluminum wires rotting away, about 10 years ago.
          that was the Beer Fridge in the barn at mom’s…and was ice cold.
          5′ high and rounded, with the heavy latch that you pull to open…little “freezer box” in the top of the compartment that always had that weird rime ice on it.
          unknown what vintage…had to be from at least the 40’s.
          …so, almost continuous operation for …70 or so years?
          it’s the coon-proof dry goods storage at the Wilderness Bar, now…for like silverware* and lard and olive oil and “freedom seeds”(bullets)..as well as a sometimes liquor hideyhole.

          (* raccoons will run off with yer silverware if you’re not careful)

    2. Eric The Fruit Bat

      We had that very same model of toaster, and it was impossible to kill. Sadly, it disappeared and I do not know what happened to it.

      1. Nikkikat

        We had the same type of toaster lasted 28 years. Finally bit the dust bought a new toaster. Just a simple model with 2 slots. Lasted less than a year. Nothing is made to last now. It’s all junk.

        1. Screwball

          As a retired design engineer, this is a feature, not a bug. They call it “product life cycle” and the manufacturer decides how long they want the product to last, and it is designed accordingly. Then you can go buy another one.

          I sold a 30+ year old fridge to a guy I worked with who had just bought a brand new fridge (from our company) because his new one kept breaking.

          I think here they like to call it “crapification.” Call it what you want, but it’s all about the bottom line and the next quarterly earnings report. Nothing else matters.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            ” This appliance, should you decide to accept it, will self-destruct in 30 seconds.”

        2. petal

          Yeah mine broke before a year was up. Krups, I think it was. Only one side would pop up. You’d have to dig out the other one. When I moved I tossed it, now I toast bread in the oven. Probably not very energy efficient, but tired of wasting my money and buying toasters that break after a few months.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            i prefer bread grilled on a skillet(dedicated) anyway.
            we do have a toaster…now some 26 years old that was a wedding gift for my first marriage.
            still works…but isn’t used all that much….pretentious uncle’s wife bought it at some boutique place in the Galleria in Houston.

            rule of thumb: any appliance available at wallywhirled is almost certainly crap…and they pretty much invented the concepts of crapification and offshoring and just in time/warehouse on wheels….as well as various product desertification(where they end up being the only place to get things)

            1. ambrit

              I remember toasting bread over an open fire in the evening cooking stint, after Katrina. A decent bar-b-que grill washed up and was put to work. I found an old camping toast cage, with a loooooong handle, somewhere or other before the hurricane and bought it for, I think it was a dollar. That gadget paid for itself many times over. Best results were after the fire fuel had been reduced to embers. A slow, constant heat. Also great for putting potatoes and onions wrapped in foil into for a half of an hour. During our travels in the Airstream about the South, Phyl perfected a shiskebab style of foil wrapped, ember cooked veggie and hamburger surprise. Whatever we could afford that day became dinner. Then there was the time I spent picking oranges at a grove near Lakeland, Florida. I came home with two shopping bags full of ripe pink grapefruit. The gang boss didn’t want pink grapefruit, so I was told to “make them disappear.” Funny thing that. A single pink grapefruit tree, full of fruit, in the middle of an orange grove.
              Stay safe all!

    3. Huey Long

      I ditched my toaster and switched to the broiler. Toasts the bread just as good and the landlord pays my gas bill.

    4. Martin Oline

      My son had a toaster that wasn’t working right (at all) so I sat out on the deck and took it apart. The bread tray is held down for a time period by an electro-magnet. When the power to the magnet was stopped the cage would pop up. One side or the other had gotten out of alignment and it no longer would stay down. I wonder what else has broken since I’ve been gone? I have thought of scrounging old refridgerators, washers, and dryers because they are more reliable but most of them probably went to the dump long ago.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        as recently as 10 years ago, there were scattered junkyards full of restaurant equipment…i always went to one in south austin that is in my old neighborhood(used to cut through there to get to beer store…never would have known about it otherwise)
        always had a bunch of refurbished stuff for much cheaper than new…squirrelly owner and his squirrelly employees would drink beer, smoke dope and repair kitchen equipment all day, in a rambling large mazelike lot full of junk.
        professional cooking equipment is much more robust and well made(and repairable).
        all my cafe stuff is in use, today…either here, or at mom’s next door.
        from stainless steel work tables($150-had a scratch, that i buffed out) to a gas flat top grill($200, used, 20 years ago)at the Wilderness Bar, but not yet integrated(i like real fire)), to all manner of big spoons and spatulas and ramekins, etc)

        if such places no longer exist, they will in short order…because that’s the kind of place we’re headed to, writ large.

    5. Mo's Bike Shop

      A utube channel I enjoy, Technology Connections, did an episode on this very toaster. If you search for his other support channel, Technology Connextras, he takes one apart and repairs it. Both fixing wiring and tuning the mechanical sensor.

      We grew up with an open burning dump, and always had a line of repaired small appliances my father had collected in our utility room. And seconding Amfortas, Waring parts are still out there for so much stuff.

      I have a set of mid-century electric fans that are designed to be oiled regularly and they just go on. But be careful you don’t get your elbow caught in the blades.


    6. artemis

      I have a classic Sunbeam found at a thrift store, and I love it. Beautiful, simple, sturdy. But it doesn’t have “bagel” mode where you can toast one side only, so my housemates have banished it to the cupboard and replaced it with an el cheapo from Target. Sigh.

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        You could buy a SPST (single pole single throw) switch, aka a toggle switch, at a hardware or autoparts store near you, and wire it inline on one of the resistive coils in the Sunbeam. Use it to turn off one side. For bagels.

    7. The Rev Kev

      I hope that they saved the blueprints of that toaster somewhere as going forward, this is the sort of gear that we will have to start building again. As another example, as a kid we had simple jugs to boil water with which was just an element with a porcelain body. If the element went, anybody could replace it and it didn’t even have an internet connection nor could you control it with an app. It looked sorta like this-


    8. Gareth

      If you open up a classic Sunbeam or any other old toaster, be aware that the white paper between the heating elements and the walls is asbestos. I dearly wanted a T-9 or a W-20, but I decided against it after learning that fact while reviewing a T-9 repair manual.

    9. eg

      Abandoned the toaster, aka “only toasts bread slices,” for a toaster oven years ago. You will pry the Breville from my cold, dead hands …

  4. drumlin woodchuckles

    ” In an early Monday morning reply to Twitter comments, Lemanski wrote that ‘the blood of Kyle Rittenhouse’s victims is on the hands of Wisconsin citizens, even the children,’ according to the Daily Herald, a suburban Chicago newspaper.” • Cf. Matt 18:21-22. ” . . . . eh?

    Well, there’s Wokeness for you.

      1. Michael Ismoe

        I used to laugh when the Democrats used to say “All we need is better messaging!”

        Maybe they were right.

    1. NotThePilot

      I was just going to say that no matter how one feels about the Rittenhouse trial or things in general, that staffer has a really wackadoodle concept of karma. And not point-and-laugh wackadoodle, but more like the sort of thing a traditional society would denounce as heresy.

      Apparently his karma applies not to individuals, kin, tribe, or any active political grouping, but metropolitan statistical area? In a way, it’s an amazing self-caricature of what you’d get if the Democratic Party could construct their own morality.

    1. Martin Oline

      Spooky. She’s starting to resemble Joe Lieberman, Al Gore’s wingman. I guess I just can’t appreciate it.

    2. Glen

      For some reason this explanation never seems to get old with the neoliberal elites.

      As an excuse, it was already old and out dated in 2010 when the Democrats got shellacked in the midterm elections, but I think the 2022 midterm elections are going to make new records.

    3. marym

      She’s probably right. Most of us probably have very little idea of the complex process by which staffers, lobbyists, lawyers, donors, and consultants take a simple idea like “everyone should have healthcare” or “we should repair and improve public transportation systems” and translate it into detailed legislation that maximizes the upward transfer of wealth, empowerment of corporations, disempowerment of patients and consumers, privatization of public functions, and filled rice bowls of the PMC; while containing sufficient means testing, bureaucracy, implementation delays, and legal loopholes as to provide virtually nothing in the way of healthcare or transportation. It takes a village.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        which is why Douthat is my favorite “conservative”, at the moment.
        when Billary came on the scene, i saw…immediately…Toynbee’s Decadent Elite—his “Dominant Minority”, devolved from the former “Creative Minority”, but exhausted and satisfied with their lot….resting on burning laurels and feasting on the blood of the People.

        Saddest part is that prolly 90% of the humans within 30 miles of me agree with that assessment, but also believe that Billary, et alia, are Communists.

        1. Roland

          Alas for us “internal proletarians.” According to Toynbee, all we get to do is found a new universal religion while waiting for some “external proletarians” to show up and do their thing.

      2. rowlf

        I think you nailed how any value to common people is removed. (Note to self: Stay on marym’s good side, debate with facts. That was a heart-punch.)

      3. Yves Smith

        Actually with Hillary, no.

        A McKinsey health care expert was ballistic about Hillary’s health care reform program. Remember that one? A monstrosity of complexity?

        Hillary, Ira Magaziner, and Bob Reich designed it in a room all by themselves. They got ZERO input from anyone in industry (required to know how things work as well as say with a straight face that you consulted them) or any public health or medical industry experts.

        1. marym

          I didn’t remember (or ever really follow) much detail about that project, but it doesn’t say much for her ability to “understand the intricacies of policy making.” Thanks for the reminder.

  5. Jen

    Re Fedex – a couple of weeks ago I ordered something with Fedex delivery. Checked the package tracker one day and it said it had been delivered. I check the deck. I check the garage. Check with my neighbor as we have a shared driveway and sometimes end up with each-other’s stuff. Nada.

    So I email the company I ordered from. They advise me to look where I’ve already looked, but also casually mention that even though the fedex tracker says the package has been delivered, it often shows up the next day…let us know if it doesn’t and we’ll file a claim.

    Sure enough, the package shows up on my deck the next day. I guess that’s one way of beating the metrics. Another is to take all that crap and dump it in a ravine.

    1. Chris Smith

      I had a similar experience a few months ago. I ordered a desk for my office and waited for the delivery to show up on the scheduled day. Imagine my surprise when there was not a sight of a FedEx truck all day but their website said that the desk had been delivered at 2:46 pm. When I called Fed Ex to inquire why my package was marked as delivered but no truck ever came down my street that day, the rep said that my desk had never even been loaded onto a local delivery truck. So I asked how it could be marked as delivered if it had never even been loaded on a delivery truck? No answer.

    2. petal

      That has happened to me-Fedex tracking says it’s been delivered, with the loading dock guy’s name listed as having signed for it, but he has no log of it having arrived that day. Then it arrives the next day. It makes me crazy. It’s happened a few times but not a lot. FedEx has weird stuff like that or things get hung up for days on end in Memphis; stuff that comes UPS always looks like a gorilla’s beaten the stuffing out of it and then sat on it for good measure. Can’t win.

    3. Dan S

      Don’t trust those FedEx deliveries – I’ll go with USPS or UPS if there’s a choice. Once had a FedEx delivery driver FAKE MY SIGNATURE on a delivery and dropped my new laptop computer box right against my door in the open hallway of my large apartment building. Luckily, I had honest neighbors. Sucker didn’t want to have to leave a note on the door for a re-delivery. I almost never complain, but I took special care to get that complaint filed with FedEx. Thinking it probably didn’t do any good anyway, despite the delivery person committing an apparent crime.

    4. NotThePilot

      When I first heard about the mystery ravine full of FedEx packages, I was surprised nobody else came to my simple, elegant hypothesis:

      Bigfoot caved & got a Prime subscription

      More seriously though, as huge a problem as our privatized, narrowly optimized, & crapified supply-chains are in their own right, I wonder if they go beyond in even other ways. I wouldn’t underestimate the symbolic impact of the USPS finally kicking the bucket. I also had the impression that, until recently, logistics was one of the few things even the most skeptical people would admit the US was still genuinely good at (whatever else it was, you could probably say the Kabul evacuation was proof of that).

      It may sound over-dramatic, but if America can’t turn this around tout suite and show we can still move doodads from A to B as well as anyone, you wonder if the republic is officially screwed. All I know is that I’m going to feel really silly if I have to explain to my kids someday that, of all the post-apocalyptic stories about America collapsing, it was that Kevin Costner movie without the jet-skis that got it right.

    5. CanCyn

      Always, always blame the employer not the employee. For the most part, a person who is treated well by their employer will or act like these delivery guys do. We’re getting our stuff delivered right to our doors, often without a delivery fee. It saves us time and effort and allows us to minimize our exposure to the virus. A little inconvenience or delay is not a big deal. Cut the front line folks as much slack as you can these days and tip them if you can.

      1. Robert Gray

        > Always, always blame the employer not the employee.


        This is another chance to recommend Ken Loach’s Sorry We Missed You (2019). It may not be one of his very best but it is timely and makes its point.

    6. Shtucb

      Yeah, I’ve had the same experience. Package marked as being on my front porch, but actually delivered hours later.

      I assume the delivery guys are just being run into the ground, and feel like they just need to flat-out lie to make their route metrics work without being penalized by The Algorithm(s).

    7. Robert Hahl

      The package might have been delivered to the wrong address, but nearby, and the recipient brought it to the right address the next day. I have performed this service many times for all the major carriers. I once asked mailman how many houses he had to cover in one shift. It was more than 600. Brutal.

    8. Yves Smith

      I ordered a hat. It arrived 14 days after Fedex said it had and after I had returned from the vacation for which I had ordered it. They also dumped it on the street, which is half a block walk from the front porch (the house sits at the back of a 0.9 acre lot and Fedex is also supposed to deliver to the back door). The only reason it wasn’t stolen was that the street is pretty busy (locals use it as a shortcut between two major avenues).

      Our aide was so mad she got the Fedex driver fired (she gets pleasure from getting slough-offs fired, this was not her first intervention). She could never have gotten away with anything like that in her taxi driver incarnation or at her past jobs. He had it on his truck for at least 13 days and couldn’t be bothered once he’d faked the delivery record.

  6. Donney

    Blame Fauci for the delay in halting Omicron’s spread in America

    Ergo, he wants it to spread in America to further enrich his pharmagheddon owners and an excuse for more power grabbing lockdowns.

    The man who called bullshit on this profit taking circus also invented the mRNA technology that led to the vaccines:


    Qualifications? Dr. Malone discovered important findings about in-vivo and in-vitro RNA transfection. He continued his work on the technology a year later at the biopharma start-up Vical where he conducted additional experiments. According to his bio, “The mRNA, constructs, reagents were developed at the Salk institute and Vical by Dr. Malone.” His research has also included important work on DNA vaccines.

    1. SomeGuyinAZ

      Sadly, the cynic in me thinks he’ll just come out with another “noble lie” moment when confronted with this down the road. His own omg-icron moment.

    2. Yves Smith

      Malone did NOT invent mRNA technology. The fact that he continues to lie about that discredits him. Many many scientists contributed to that. He was the lead author on an important early paper.

  7. Eloined

    Re: discarded FedEx packages

    In support of the non-union connection, a mail carrier in my hometown was found to have discarded mail over several months into an uninhabited house — thousands of mailpieces. The carrier was a non-union temp (“casual carrier” in clear-eyed USPS terms) of whom there were typically one or two among the 40 or so otherwise unionized carriers.

    1. Duke of Prunes

      This relates to two stories today. Back in grade school, my friend had a job delivering the free “advertising weekly”. After a week or two, instead of walking door to door and placing them on the porch, he decided (just like Arlo and, perhaps, the FedEX driver) to dump them down a wooded hillside. After all, it’s a free paper so who should care whether it showed up or not, and he got paid regardless. Well, it turned out that someone did care, and after repeated complaints, the matter was investigated and his dumping ground was found – I guess the mind of a 4th grader wasn’t sophisticated enough to dump very far off the delivery route. Anyway, he lost his job and got in trouble from his parents.

      Post script: He’s now the weathiest “self made” person I know. I wonder if there is a connection.

    2. Utah

      The difference is that disposing of mail is a federal crime and the letter carrier could go to jail. They most likely won’t, but they could. With FedEx, there isn’t that same high level of crime. It isn’t mail fraud to dispose of FedEx packages the way it is with USPS.

      That said, the two tier union contract that USPS has is so bad for those newbies, and they are expected to do more than anyone else because they don’t have the same hours rules. I.e. they can work over 60 hours a week unlike regular employees.

      1. Eloined

        Three tiers if you want count the casuals with the two career tiers.

        As for the difference in hours: bad for temps except those who aim to work as many reliably-paid overtime hours as possible over 180 days before moving on / rotating into unemployment (see also: National Park Service seasonal hiring). This arrangement may be less desired now than in more bountiful times — and in any case probably reduces opportunity for those seeking career status — but it meets the needs of some.

        1. ambrit

          Back in the day, 1980s, the lowest rung USPS “employees” were called “T” Class. A limited run time allowed, per Union agreement. I was one, to begin. We used to have much fun coming up with variations on what the “T” stood for.
          Many USPS old guard employees believed that the Union caved to Management in accepting the split workforce concept for the shop floor. Remember that this was forty years ago. It was a sign of the times.
          Now look at it. A Democrat Party hack in the White House doesn’t do anything about a prior Republican Party Administration’s “wrecking strategy” for the USPS. Can we say “regulatory capture” boys and girls?

  8. Samuel Conner

    In an earlier phase of my life, in what these days feels like ‘in a galaxy far far away,’ an orthodontist related to me that in the late decades of the last century, there was an epidemic of legal actions against orthodontists seeking damages for ‘temporal-mandibular joint syndrome’, which it was claimed was caused or exacerbated by orthodontristy. It was a crisis for the profession.

    After some years, there was a presentation at a professional conference entitled, IIRC, “The TMJ lawsuit crisis is over.”

    The crisis was ‘over’ because ‘orthodontists had become used to being sued.’

    In that sense, I guess one could say that “the pandemic is over”

    1. ambrit

      Ah, but did the orthodontists of that day suffer from burn out and mass resignation from their profession over this? Today’s medicos seem to be so suffering right now.

  9. zagonostra

    >Shining a light on more efficient nasal vaccines- [Advanced Science News] Wiley.

    A needle-free vaccine that generates specific and robust immunity to respiratory viruses could improve uptake of vaccines, especially among people with needle anxiety. Vaccine administration that does not require highly trained staff would also help speed up the roll out of vaccines during pandemics and outbreaks.

    I don’t like the sound of this. Anytime I read about “nanoparticles” being designed for either electronic chips or bioengineered products I get worried. I’ve even read where scientist are using technology that allows not only vaccines to enter body through nasal passages, but the skin as well. Once this has been perfected, there will be no bodily autonomy (I know, I’m leaving out all the pollutants already in our air, water, and food).

    1. Yves Smith

      Nanoparticles are widely used in cosmetics and skin treatments.

      You want a nasal Covid vaccine. That is our one hope for a sterilizing or near sterilizing vaccine.

      They are already used for nasal to brain delivery of medications, which sounds way more edgy than what is contemplated here.

      Oh, and BTW GM has pointed out that we don’t know yet how Covid gets to the brain, it may be directly from the nose……

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        we’re fully vaxxed(save for my eldest(sigh)), but i had expected some non-mrna vax to be available in the us by now.
        i’ve seen news items about J&J being approved, but for whatever reason, that’s not available anywhere around here…all Pfizer or Moderna. better grift models, i guess.
        I think i’d rather have the Cuban vax for a “booster”..and i don;t give a damn about the idiotic rules about doing business with them>i simply cain’t afford the trip
        but it looks like i’ll hafta actually go to Cuba to get their vax, lol…so not likely.
        unless it gets taken up in mexico…that’s close enough.

        seems pretty obvious, by now, that even a pandemic can be fit into the bidness model…a profit center much like heroin/fentanyl or things that go boom.
        anything goes when money is the sole determinant of value…and by the same people that so regularly mouth platitudes about family and community….and even Morality.
        this disgust i feel when thinking about all this is why i avoid the news.

      2. Greg

        We have a fairly good case history for nasal delivery of narc… err medicines as well; it’s not as untested a method as some others being proposed.

      3. Screwball

        I’ve been a fan of the (excuse my spelling here) Nettie Pot since forever. I’ve always fought sinus infections, so I did the little pot thing. It helped me many times. I use half portions of salt/baking soda with warm water instead of buying the boxes of little packets.

        Since I’m an old hippy type I call it a nose bong.

        I wonder if that would help with the virus? Simple and cheap.

  10. WobblyTelomeres

    “How many more local candidates who really have a chance of enacting significant change could win elections were Democrats’ attention spans not filled up with ineffective national politics?”

    Wha? Chelsea is running for mayor of South Bend?

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      but, but but…https://thehill.com/dem-lawmakers/583325-buttigieg-electric-vehicle-owners-never-have-to-worry-about-gas-prices-again
      i thought it was his turn.

      of course, there’s an odor of rancid brioche around this interview…
      2 of the 5 vehicles on our place(there’s 5 of us, way outside of town) are 20+ years old.
      the eldest of those…a 2000 ford f250…is a gas hog(was my stepdads, then my eldests and will be my youngests next…gashog is a limiting factor on his wild behaviour)
      if i could replace my 2004 dodge pickup with an electric that would do what i need to do without selling my soul and mortgaging the farm…i would.
      there’s a couple of hybrids out this way(unsure what that means, exactly, save that they don’t appear to idle)…and one tiny little electric bubble car that one of the local dem bigwigs drives around pretentiously in…all of them driven by rich folks…but there’s really nothing i’ve seen to replace the truck.
      and that’s not even considering hauling cattle or manure or hay.

  11. Louis Fyne

    A 19-y.o. saying dumb things on Twitter, they are 19.

    A middle-aged adult? The social media-induced dopamine hit must be one heck of a drug.

    1. Wukchumni

      I’m thankful all the dumb things I said when I was 19 are now skeletons in the deep recesses of my mind as opposed to being preserved for all eternity online…

      Imagine a 39 year old politician presently, everything he’s ever done in his adult life on a computer is waiting to come back and haunt him hopefully.

      1. Joe Well

        For better or worse, it seems like the password-protected web forums of the late 90s-2000s have not been put on the Internet Archive or saved anywhere–and that’s where most of the really edgy stuff happened.

        And to top it off, we mostly used pseudonyms back then, just like we are doing now commenting on this born-in-the-2000s site.

        So those of us in that generation are relatively safe. I hope.

  12. jr

    Dr. Kathleen Stock talks about trans-ideologues and their depravations. Lots of choice bits. She notes that while younger trans activists actually believe this gibberish, older academics and activists seem to be more inclined to promote it for their perception of the good of others. Basically PMC moralizing. I would add for political/career reasons and as a cudgel.

    “Nothing in nature changes when a man puts on a dress.” Men are invading women’s prisons in the US now, rapists and violent offenders. No one seems to care, one ACLU member called those concerns “manufactured”.

    She clarifies that she does support those who identify as trans but not those who ignore reality. She also points out that if a group of activists are going to change the meaning of a millennia old word like “woman” on it’s head, they had better start with a public campaign instead of shouting and shaming. Words, apparently, have power. She does support the notion of giving certain voices emphasis, recognizing that people of color and trans-individual’s voices have been suppressed.

    Also, there are plenty of trans people who don’t buy into the borderline delusional fictive world proposed by these hustlers and their zealots. They are ignored or marginalized by the “movement” for the more useful, polarizing voices. She also digs deeper into the ontological and epistemic lunacy at the heart of the trans ideology-cult. It’s a bit surreal to hear her arguing for the need to recognize there is a world outside of social constructs. It’s also interesting how often complicated issues devolve into rather straightforward philosophical blunders. She accurately uses words like “idiotic”. She describes Butler’s writing as “whacked”:


    A world of fictions, like in so many other areas of life. Like COVID coverage. I say this as one who intentionally creates fictions and lives them.

    1. lets go mets love da mets

      >Men are invading women’s prisons in the US now
      No they’re not.
      >one ACLU member called those concerns “manufactured”
      Because they are.

      1. Yves Smith

        You need to provide evidence. You haven’t.

        By contrast, in the less PC UK, here’s a report:

        Transgender prisoners are five times more likely to carry out sex attacks on inmates at women’s jails than other prisoners are, official figures show.


        A US account, including the prison’s efforts to suppress it:


        However, in the US, trans women are nearly alway incarcerated with men:


        So the issue is not that trans women convicted criminals are disproportionately likely to sexually abuse women. It’s that they seldom have the opportunity.

    1. fresno dan

      November 29, 2021 at 3:34 pm

      Makes complete sense to me. All the DDT, real birds flying into skyscrapers, Fluttering around and singing songs – Who could REALLY be that happy in modern America????

  13. johnherbiehancock

    re: the Sunbeam Radiant Control Toaster, sold from 1949

    I’ve gone through two mechanical toasters in the past 3 years that seem to toast things randomly, i.e. I put the dial at medium, and sometimes I get burned toast, and other times I get barely-toasted toast.

    And when it comes out barely-toasted, I push the lever down again, and THEN it burns it.

    I’d be better served simply holding bread over an open flame with tongs until it’s toasted.

    one of these was a Black and Decker model, presumably made somewhere in the Far East. Do the ones they sell in China also work this poorly?

    (maybe I should write an article on my problems and sell it to the Atlantic?)

  14. FreeMarketApologist

    Biden’s so-called travel ban — which doesn’t apply to US citizens,...”

    I thought I had read somewhere (an article linked from NC?) that US citizens cannot be denied entry into their own country. (modulo some version of quarrantine once on their own ground)

  15. FreeMarketApologist

    Re the Atlantic COVID parenting article: “…How can it be that even after two years, I won’t be able to… … without dedicating brain space to what we’re all risking?

    There is much in how COVID has played out so far that reminds me of the progression of the AIDS crisis, and the failures of leadership and personal responsibility — in the government’s reactions, in big pharma’s reactions, in the various social attitudes, and in the practical realities of engaging with people. Not one of the privileged parents in the article seems to know that this country has seen a version of this show before, but now it’s other people’s turn in the spotlight.

    We’re in the second major global health crisis of my lifetime (AIDS still unsolved, but somewhat controlled), and the whining in the Atlantic article shows that we have learned nothing.

  16. Librarian Guy

    So not too much off topic, after all the posts NC, Lambert et al have done on CALPERS sleaze over the years. . . I retired as a teacher after 3 decades in the California public school system, got a decent pension, plus my own 403b and also savings, moved to Northern Minnesota where things are cheaper. Anyway, as a California Teacher, my pension comes from the CALSTRS system “State Teachers Retirement System”, not PERS for Public Employees generally. BUT, my health care came from PERS, and what I realized in dealing with them recently is that they are not just sleazy, they have pretty much crossed the line into open criminality and elder abuse . . . Again, I’m not criticizing STRS here, they represented my retirement accounts accurately, and when I had problems with the system, online access, etc. I was always able to get help in a fairly timely and consistent way. But my interaction with PERS was totally contrary to largely positive interactions with STRS. So, this is a longish story, and because of how posts disappear here, I will share a bit at a time . . . So anyway, 5 months into my retirement, I’m informed that PERS is raising health care costs thru Blue Cross by a hefty 15% or $111.+ per month next year. This is not really tenable, even with my district covering 60% of that cost currently (due to a Union Collective Bargaining Agreement), which will drop to 50% with the 15% spike. So I decided to try to opt out and called Blue Cross. They blamed the boost totally on PERS (truthfully, I now know) . . . I tried to call PERS, and it was literally impossible to get an agent there, after 5 phone calls and several efforts, until I called a STRS rep and got the “executive agent” # . . . (916 prefix, not 800). But even that person refused to get me to an agent or employee directory, she gave me some advice on keypad options to get thru, but they did not work . . . And before that I had to be Telemarketed to in the most obnoxious and dishonest way– (See next post)

  17. Librarian Guy

    CalPERS Scamming Post, part 2– So on my very first attempt to call PERS, I used the single phone # they offer for agents. Before any directory, a breathless commercial voice announced a “special offer” for folks like me and asked me to hit a button to reflect if I, or “a member of your household” is over 60 or not. I was already suspicious but (dumb, compliant American sometimes) I hit the truthful answer, yes, recently turned 62. So a loud telemarketer lady comes on the line, literally screaming that the “special offer” for me is a “safety button” (one of those I’ve fallen and can’t get up things) “FREE”, they just want my personal info to prove my eligibility. I try to stop her, say Excuse me, I’m not interested at all, she just ignores me and continues to yell the sales pitch over my objections. goes on for 90 seconds more over 2 more objections on my part, perhaps she’s yelling as she’s deaf (?– no, clearly not, sales pressure) . . . Anyway, she then demands info starting with my name, & I say excuse me, I told you I wasn’t interested, I don’t want to give you my info, this seems a lot like a data phishing scam exploiting the elderly. She immediately hangs up on me.

  18. Carolinian

    Sunbeam Radiant Control Toaster

    Welcome to my childhood. Ignore the breakfast grits as I did (My Cousin Vinny–“What’s a grit?”). My dad had to take the toaster apart and fiddle with it from time to time which he enjoyed. He loved that toaster. I still have it but don’t use it.

    Sadly I believe Sunbeam was bought by a Chinese company and the more recent toaster version a knockoff.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      the secret to grits is you boil them twice…once in water, then again in milk(or cream if you’re a gourmet)…and real slow…real butter helps…kosher salt…cracked black….and i like to put a couple of slices of thick rather rare bacon and a fried egg on top.

      hangover food.
      digestible fats and lots of niacin and other things that you lose by imbibing overmuch.
      slightly burnt grilled toast on the side and yer golden.
      boys and their cohort love it, mornin after.

      (the health authorities are aghast, of course,lol…tell me to use canola and whatnot.but my triglycerides are good, and ldl and all that…i chalk that up to this being brainfood, as well)

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        Had to pick up some executives down from Schaumburg at the airport. Cotton was in full bloom, ready for picking on either side of the road. They asked, “What is that?” Straight faced, “Grits.”

      2. Carolinian

        My mom was more into instant grits. You could retread a tire with those things. She made up for it with her great biscuits so one tended to fill up on those.

  19. Librarian Guy

    CalPERS Scam Post #3, & final (for now anyway). So after the telemarketer disconnected my first call, the other 4 attempts to call and navigate the menu yielded nothing. Even the “Executive” help lady at the 916 prefix would not help, even when I hit a # for “Agent” it went into a recursive phone loop NOT taking me to an Agent or call waiting . . . so finally I gave up to call and cancel with Anthem Blue Cross directly, for Jan. 1 2022. I waited ten minutes for their agent to respond. He was polite and professional. I explained that I tried to contact PERS multiple times and it seemed literally impossible. (If it’s not clear by now, I am stubborn when I know I’m in the right, and pretty persistent compared to most people.) So he says, well, he can call and connect to them. Great!! I agree! He calls a # which actually is Call Waiting, with obnoxious music, and both of us wait 30+ more minutes. I check in with him every 10 to 12 minutes while we wait to make sure he’s there, & he’s as patient as I am. (Maybe he is relieved from other customer service and gets a break?) . . . finally about 45 minutes into the call a woman at PERS picks up. She is reasonably polite and professional, but explains I cannot cancel for Jan 1 in late November of 2021, I will need to call back in December. OR I can cancel NOW for November, get my health “care” yanked in 2 days. Well, I’m in no mood to spend another series of hours on the phone Wednesday or after, plus don’t want them to have more of my $$, so let’s cancel it now . . . a few final insults to injury. PERS will inform me with a letter which I’ll receive sometime in the next month . . . While the Blue Cross guy was on the line I asked the right question though, is the process the same for them? Well, no, they get electronic notification on 12/1 when it’s cancelled. So I asked if I could contact them and get a copy of that to share with my district (which pays into Dec. Blue Cross which is now cancelled on 12/1) in hopes they don’t have to pay and get it back? It seems I can . . . Anyway, I’ll have to look into the ACA or some other options. But thank the Deity (if it exists) I will soon be free of PERS– just incredibly sleazy and contemptuous of their members and funders, another utterly sociopathic and destructive institution which is running this failing country into the ground while paying its top Execs seven figure salaries!!!

  20. antidlc

    We don’t need universal booster shots. We need to reach the unvaccinated.
    The case for booster shots for healthy younger adults is not strong — and those shots would do more good elsewhere

    By Philip R. Krause
    , Marion F. Gruber
    Paul A. Offit

    Many people are cheering the decision by the Food and Drug Administration, on Nov. 19, to authorize the use of coronavirus vaccine boosters for all adults 18 and over — a move that built on the earlier authorization of them for people over 65, those with underlying health issues and front-line workers. Commentators are hailing boosters as a key tool for getting the pandemic under control, and many public health experts are urging all American adults to get them.

    Two of us — Krause and Gruber — were co-authors of a recent article in the Lancet, a medical journal, that summarized all of the available data on boosting and concluded that the data did not support widespread boosting; the other — Offit — is a member of the FDA vaccine advisory committee that voted against boosting for all adults last month. We continue to think that while boosting can improve immune responses and can even further increase already very high levels of protection in some people, the need for a boost remains restricted to people who are at high risk of serious disease (including the elderly) or those at risk of exposing vulnerable household or workplace contacts if they get infected.

    The data does not show that every healthy adult should get a booster. Indeed, the push for boosters for all could actually prolong the pandemic. First, such a campaign diverts focus away from the goal of persuading the unvaccinated to get their shots (and persuading parents to get their eligible children shots). Second, and relatedly, exaggerated descriptions of the waning efficacy of the vaccines undermine public confidence in them, and some people may be less likely to accept vaccines that they regard as less effective than originally advertised.

  21. Zagonostra

    I thought nano was cutting edge new technology with potential for world-wide cataclysmic repercussions and it turns out it’s used for cosmetics, how deflating.

  22. WobblyTelomeres

    College football. Since nobody mentioned it. I think Lincoln Riley’s move from Oklahoma to USC is really telling. Specifically, in regards to the recent ruling on NIL (name, image, likeness) money.

    I think we are at the beginning of a new age of “amateur” sports. That is, if boosters can pay millions in NIL deals with recruits, the teams with the most money can openly buy the best team. Bryce Young, Alabama’s Heisman candidate quarterback, got a $1 million NIL deal before he started a single game. Needless to say, there is more money in Los Angeles than Alabama.

    Suspect college football is about to reflect Major League Baseball, where the Yankees and the Dodgers field All-Stars and everyone else gets an appearance fee. Sorta like Iike the Washington Generals (to change sports).

    So, good on Riley, even if it means the Crimson Tide’s days are numbered.

    1. polar donkey

      University of Memphis basketball team got 2 five-star recruits this season. How? Each is getting paid $1 million in NIL money by FedEx. Needless to say, I have not seen an ad with the name, image, or likeness of either of these players. College sports want to be as openly corrupt as American politicians.

      1. John Anthony La Pietra

        I wonder if this could be usefully slowed by a revenue-sharing agreement giving small shares to the rest of the team? (In something like the same way.bowlbound teams share some of their revenues with the other teams in their conferences. But maybe without the specific tying of conferences to bowls….)

  23. marym

    A former NRA spokesperson has written a “fun yet compelling children’s book about the right to keep and bear arms…”

    It’s part of a series that includes books about the sanctity of life, the dangers of communism, cancel culture, and “inoculating kids against critical race theory.”

  24. ChrisRUEcon


    His parting salvo is #onTarget …

    “With crypto we’ve decided to do the most American thing ever, to commoditize our rage at the financial system into a financial product. Because after all, we’re just temporarily embarrassed millionaires and the only problem with CDOs wasn’t the moral hazard, but that you didn’t have a piece of the action. This time you have a choice, but I suspect history is going to have the same lesson to teach us about the perils of greed untempered by reason.”

    1. ChrisRUEcon


      Well, well, well …

      #ButtItItchSEnema2024 has some kind of ring to it, just not the fragrant variety.

      1. ChrisRUEcon

        #NateSilverOmicron … LMAO

        “There’s no such thing as a Gruffal … OH!”

        The #worstNate get his manifestation on … joy.

        1. ChrisRUEcon


          The fact that crypto enthusiasts decry the USD as “useless fiat”, but annoyingly continue to quote their wealth/assets/purchases in dollars.

          Look! Bored Ape NFT sold for X million dollars!

          Look! Metaverse Yacht sold for XXX thousand dollars!

          Idiots! No doubt, the panache is all lost if the cry attention goes like this:

          “Plot of land that only exists on some virtual machine in a public cloud sold for 500 ETH!”


  25. niels vaar

    Note to Agrawal: I would pay a reasonable monthly fee for Twitter that didn’t perform any algorithmic manipulation on my feed whatever, including censorship. Let me do that. Also, give me simple HTML, including links, in the Tweet body. C’mon, dude, it’s the Internet! I would bet there are others who feel the same.

    i’ve been using https://nitter.net/ lately which sort of emulates your request…

  26. Vander Resende

    NOVEMBER 30, 2021
    Twitter is the social network most resistant to conspiracy theory beliefs
    by Universitat Oberta de Catalunya

    “The particular operating features and characteristics of Twitter, a social network that is more focused on news consumption, increase the social pressure on what is published on it, which could in turn perhaps reduce the circulation of unverified or alternative information compared to other social media, such as Facebook and YouTube, which have characteristics that favor the dissemination of those theories,” explained Ana Sofía Cardenal, a member of the Faculty of Law and Political Science and a researcher in the research groupGADE (eGovernance: electronic administration and democracy), one of the lead authors of the study, which analyzed data obtained from surveys in 17 European countries before and after the onset of the pandemic in relation to various social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, and several messaging applications such as WhatsApp.

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