2:00PM Water Cooler 11/5/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, there will be no UPDATEs today. It is what it is. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

“[N]atural vocalization; songs from the male of a pair of birds in cholla and yucca covered grassland surrounded by canyon and rimrock country. While singing the male bird would bow its head down and raise its tail while puffing its neck. Both of the birds were on the ground during the whole event, and immediately after this cut the male picked up insects twice and fed them to the female bird. Distance to the bird was approximately 12-15 meters.”

Not all that different from the real Roadrunner!

* * *


Patient readers, I have started to revise this section, partly to reduce my workload, but partly to focus more as an early warning, if that is possible. Hopefully I will have a variant tracker map soon. In the meantime, I added excess deaths.

Vaccination by region:

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

58.2% of the US is fully vaccinated (CDC data. Mediocre by world standards, being just below Turkey, and just above Argentina in the Financial Times league tables as of this Monday). We are back to the stately 0.1% rise per day. I would bet that the stately rise = word of mouth from actual cases. However, as readers point out, every day those vaccinated become less protected, especially the earliest. So we are trying to outrun the virus…

Case count by United States regions:

A blip downward, This chart is a seven-day average, so changes in direction only show up when a train is really rolling. That said, I don’t think the past rise is the surge some of us Bears have been waiting for (see the “tape watching” remarks below). It’s driven by cases widely distributed through inland California (see last Friday for maps). The local economy is heavily driven by outdoors-y tourism, but there are no major airports, so possibly cases are being spread by drivers. Beyond these speculations I cannot go.

Simply tape-watching, this descent is as steep as any of the three peaks in November–January. It’s also longer than the descent from any previous peak. We could get lucky, as we did with the steep drop after the second week in January, which nobody knows the reasons for, then or now. Today’s populations are different, though. This population is more vaccinated, and I would bet — I’ve never seen a study — that many small habits developed over the last year (not just masking). Also, if the dosage from aerosols drops off by something like the inverse square law, not linearly, even an extra foot of social distance could be significant if adopted habitually by a large number of people. And if you believe in fomites, there’s a lot more hand-washing being done. Speculating freely: There is the possibility that acquired immunity is much, much greater than we have thought, although because this is America, our data is so bad we don’t know. On the other hand, Delta is much more transmissible. And although readers will recall that I have cautioned against cross-country comparisons, I’m still not understanding why we’re not seeing the same aggregates in schools that we’ve see in Canada and especially the UK, although we have plenty of anecdotes. Nothing I’ve read suggests that the schools, nation-wide, have handled Covid restrictions with any consistency at all. So what’s up with that?

Even if hospitalizations and the death rate are going down, that says nothing about Long Covid, the effect on children, etc. So the numbers, in my mind, are still “terrifying”, even if that most-favored word is not in the headlines any more, and one may be, at this point, inured.

MWRA (Boston-area) wastewater detection:

Seems like a sine-wave pattern on the right. Why? And nothing like California yet.

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 October 25, 2021” (PDF), “Rapid Riser” counties:

Here we see Covid spreading in California (newly yellow), which I flagged last Friday [lambert blushes modestly] as the cause of the rise in the national case count. This week, however, we have not only inland, but coastal spread (orange). Today, San Bernardino County turns from yellow to orange. Causes suggested by readers range from tourist to the harvest season. New Hampshire and Maine in trouble again. Arizona improving. Alabama seems finally to be cooling off. Weird flare-ups, like flying coals in a forest fire. They land, catch, but — one hopes — sputter out.

Speculating freely: One thing to consider is where the red is. If air travel hubs like New York City or Los Angeles (or Houston or Miami) go red that could mean (a) international travel and (b) the rest of the country goes red, as in April 2020 and following. But — for example — Minnesota is not an international hub. If Minnesota goes red, who else does? Well, Wisconsin. As we see. Remember, however, that this chart is about acceleration, not absolute numbers. This map, too, blows the “Blame Bubba” narrative out of the water. Not a (Deliverance-style) banjo to be heard. (Red means getting worse, green means bad but getting better.)

The previous release:

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

Finally some relief for the states of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, although I don’t understand why they they have the bad luck to be so stubbornly still red.

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 772,421 770,868. Going down again, mercifully. We had approached the same death rate as our first peak last year. Which I found more than a little disturbing.

Excess deaths (total, not only from Covid):

My (incorrect) interpretation of a 0.0 – 0.0 excess death rate meant that the real numbers had not actually been calculated (CDC explains there are data lags). Hard to believe we have no excess deaths now, but very fortunate if so.

(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 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. I should dig out the absolute numbers, too, now roughly 660,000, which is rather a lot.)

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

Chile slows down a bit. Also Portugal, which lifted restrictions about a month ago. Remember this is a log scale. Sorry for the kerfuffle at the left. No matter how I tinker, it doesn’t go away.

* * *


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

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

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

Capitol Seizure

“2 federal judges are poised to quietly begin unlocking reams of Jan. 6 secrets for Congress” [Politico]. “In recent days, [Beryl] Howell, the chief of U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., and a 2010 Obama appointee, has implicitly encouraged Jan. 6 defendants to cooperate with congressional investigators. Last week, she praised a convicted rioter, Leonard Gruppo, for his decision to be interviewed by the select committee last month. Howell sentenced the military veteran to home confinement and probation, saying he demonstrated genuine remorse, ‘particularly by talking to members of Congress on the select committee to help deter other people with the specialized training you [received] in the military, not to turn it against fellow Americans.’ Several other rioters who have pleaded guilty are preparing to testify, and more may take cues from Howell’s decision.” • Well, so much for judicial independence. And so much for the separation of powers, too, unless you think enforcing the law is a matter for the legislative branch. I’ve heard it said that after 2016, liberal Democrats declared “a state of exception.” I don’t think that’s a metaphor.

“Ten Months Later” [American Greatness]. I have to put on my rubber gloves here, exactly as with the Daily Wire, but assuming they’re quoting WaPo accurately: “On the eve of January 6, a shadowy figure caught on video allegedly planted two pipe bombs outside the headquarters of the Republican National Committee and Democratic National Committee, both located close to the U.S. Capitol building…. Karlin Younger, an emergency management specialist at the Department of Commerce working remotely that day, said she had noticed the device, wedged between a garbage can and a fence, on her way to do laundry that afternoon. ‘It’s just by chance I did laundry when I did. I don’t think anyone else would have walked by unless they were taking out the garbage.’ Younger, a Wisconsin native, told a Madison magazine a few days later…. Younger also has a background in counterterrorism and worked for a ‘political risk consulting firm’ in London a few years ago.” • Oh. Call me foily, but remember when “It emerged this week that the first person to give first aid to the Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia—poisoned in still unexplained events in Salisbury last March—was the most senior nurse in the British Army, Alison McCourt”? Same deal. “Just by chance.” I love amazing coincidences in George Smiley novels. Not perhaps, in real life. Or in Washington DC, where I’m sure everything is wired to the gills.

Biden Administration

“Democrats plead with Biden to get more assertive” [Politico]. “That Biden needed to take a more aggressive role in pushing through his economic agenda was a sentiment reiterated again and again in interviews with nearly two dozen Democratic lawmakers, operatives and pollsters — the majority of whom declined to go on record for fear of further complicating Democrats’ legislative efforts. Some said they wanted Biden to execute easy policy victories that would quickly alleviate voter struggles, such as forgiving student loan debt, a move the president has pushed off since taking office to the chagrin of party members. ‘I’m a loyal Democrat, but if I have to start paying my student loans again come January I’ll be ready to throw up my hands and chant ‘Let’s go, Brandon,’’ said a Democratic campaign aide, using the now popular euphemism on the right for ‘f— Joe Biden.’ Other Democrats second-guessed Biden’s decision to spend months entertaining the whims of different members of Congress over how to sequence and organize his two main bills. But others were more sympathetic, arguing that Biden was correct to be patient and deferential to the Hill on his social spending plan, which would boost aid to families and make historic investments in combating climate change. The president, they say, can’t fully sell his proposals until Democrats in both chambers actually agree on the legislative language around them. Biden himself has acknowledged the unease around his performance. In the wake of Tuesday’s elections, he argued that Democrats must move swiftly with his legislation. But asked whether swifter passage would have improved national conditions for Democrats, he said he was unsure. Some party veterans said more contrition would have been helpful.” • Oh, man. “Contrition.” Can you imagine?

As of this morning:

Also as of this morning:

As of this afternoon:

The BBB is still a fifteen-foot ladder when we’re in a thirty-foot hole. But looking purely at the party politics, the “progressives,” with a strategy of embracing Biden, have emerged in better shape than ever. The moderates look like the corrupt shills they are. (Huddling over CBO scoring? Really?) And the horrid gerontocratic leadership is weaker. (Notice that the leadership responded to Tuesday’s debacle with family leave, not with “pay for” foo-frah.) And Biden, though not stronger in the party, seems to me no weaker. Who, exactly, would take him down? (Again, I think Biden always wanted Manchin’s $1.75 figure, give or take. It’s a neat trick to give Manchin what his donors want while also weakening him, and his allies, as national figures. If I could follow Biden’s slowly firing synapses as he gamed this all out, he thinks — as a Party man — the future of the Party is with the “progressives.” That’s why Jayapal has a strong back channel to Klain, for example. Call me a foolish optimist! (I have to confess that I don’t hate Biden, because a father with a lovable scamp like Hunter for a son must have some p*ss and vinegar in him, unlike so many of our bloodless technocrats ***cough*** Obama ***cough***)).

“Backdoor, mega-Roth provisions added back to Democrats’ Build Back Better Act” [Pensions & Investments]. “The bill under consideration in the House would close so-called backdoor Roth IRA strategies by prohibiting all employee after-tax contributions in qualified plans and after-tax individual retirement account contributions from being converted to Roth regardless of income level. It would also eliminate Roth conversions for both IRAs and employer-sponsored plans for single taxpayers (or taxpayers married but filing separately) with taxable income over $400,000, married taxpayers filing jointly with taxable income over $450,000 and heads of households with taxable income over $425,000. Moreover…. ” • There’s more detail after “Moreover.”

Democrats en Deshabille

“Truck Driver Edward Durr Unseats New Jersey State Senate President Steve Sweeney” [CBS New York]. “‘I want this job. I don’t want all the fame, but I want this job,’ Durr said. ‘I want to be the voice. I want to be somebody who can speak for the people. Because, one, I got a big mouth, so I like to make myself heard.’ Durr describes himself as Christian and blue collar with strong conservative beliefs. He’s a member of the National Rifle Association and a truck driver for Raymour & Flanigan. He barely campaigned, and his campaign video was shot from a smartphone. He defeated Sweeney by a little more than 2,200 votes. ‘It didn’t happen because of me. I’m nobody. I’m just a simple guy,’ Durr said. ‘It was a repudiation of the policies that have been forced down our throat, people told they can’t go to school, can’t go shopping. You cannot continue to tell people they can’t do things when we live in the freest country in the world.’ As CBS2’s Dick Brennan reports, Durr channeled voter outrage over government dysfunction, taxes and coronavirus shutdowns.” • The PMC’s public health debacle continues to play out.

“Phil Rocco on the Democrats’ trick handcuffs” [Sick Note]. “Members of Congress aren’t handcuffed to the current [CBO] scorekeeping regime, or even to the results of a single commissioned study. These institutions are, at best, trick handcuffs: congressional coalitions create them and can alter them when they want to. Or, more appropriately, when they receive intense, cross-cutting pressure to do so. And when these institutions hobble the thriving of large majorities of Americans, we have a responsibility to scrutinize how they work, to question their assumptions, and demand change.” • My metaphor has been “auto-kinbaku-bi” (self-administered Japanese rope bondage), but perhaps “trick handcuffs” is simpler and better.

I said Eric Adams would go far, but I wasn’t sure in which direction:


“A Year Ahead of the Midterms, Suburban Erosion Has Driven Biden’s State-by-State Decline” [Morning Consult]. “When it comes to The Cook Political Report’s nine most competitive Senate battlegrounds, Biden’s net approval rating has fallen underwater in the suburbs of all states except New Hampshire since the first quarter of the year, tugging on his popularity in states that feature open-seat contests such as North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Biden’s suburban stumbles haven’t weighed down the most vulnerable Democratic senators to the same extent — apart from Mark Kelly of Arizona.” • Possibly. I’m not sure I accept “the suburbs” as a category; it seems a bit of a catchall. As with Covid, I want whatever the political equivalent of epidemiology is, plus mechanisms. Of course, with our press in rubble outside the Beltway, that can can be hard to come by.

Realignment and Legitimacy

He’s got a point:

On the question of whether “Critical Race Theory” (CRT) so-called, is being taught in the Virginia Schools, I went to the Virginia Department of Education site and searched on “critical”. From Superintendent’s Memo #050-19, under “Dr. Lane’s February Reading List,” we find:

As far as the State goes, that’s basically it. However, the public school teachers I have known are extremely time-conscious. Don’t put a book in front of them if you don’t expect them to read it, which they will certainly do if they feel it will help them in the classroom. So, I would speculate CRT propagated at the School Board level via consultants and curricula, and at the teacher level via lesson planning, rather in the manner of the educational equivalent of The Blob, as opposed to the Bolshevik Party (I wish!), which seems to be the sort of agent that conservatives have in mind.

“There Are No Refs” [Freddie DeBoer]. “This is something liberals do relentlessly, appealing to some shadowy and vague arbiter of what’s fair. Hey, Republicans are pulling dirty tricks!, they complain again and again. But who is listening? What tribunal of wise judges does Scocca think is reading his tweets? What arbiter is ready to dispense justice? Too many in the left-of-center intelligentsia in this country grew up in contexts where fairness matters, where you could always count on mom or the teacher or the HR department to mete out justice. But life doesn’t work that way. There are no refs. “Republicans only won because of racism.” Yes, it’s impossible to imagine voters rejecting the party of Andrew Cuomo and Kyrsten Sinema and Gavin Newsome for any reason other than racism, agreed. So what? Who do you think is going to come and correct that injustice for you? The only opinion that matters is that of the voters, and they think your whining about unfairness makes you look weak…. They get more out of being a sighing chorus of other liberals than they do from winning, so winning doesn’t concern them much…. [They] don’t do introspection, they don’t do self-criticism, they never look within. They appeal to nonexistent refs and ask the universe, ‘why?'” • Unpacking Thomas Frank’s “aghastitude” very neatly.

“Progressives bare teeth after election debacle” [Politico]. “Progressive candidates also looked to quickly shape the narrative in the wake of the election. In a memo to his surrogates and allies, which was obtained by POLITICO, Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman’s campaign for Senate wrote that ‘if we learned anything last night, it’s that Democrats can’t continue to completely cede rural counties to Republicans” and made the case that he is the candidate who can cut into Republicans’ margins of victory in those areas. Democrats cannot afford to run the same old playbook or the same old Washington candidate’ in the Pennsylvania Senate race, it read. Some progressive leaders, meanwhile, sought to lower the temperature among Democrats. ‘I am not in the blame game here. I’m about trying to get things done, and we’re going to pass both these bills through the House,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told POLITICO. ‘That’s what I took from last night’s election, is that families across the country are hurting and they want us to help them, and that’s what we’re going to do with the Build Back Better agenda.'” In other words, Jayapal took the high road. And Ilhan Omar took the low road: “Rep. Ilhan Omar retweeted a progressive commentator who chirped, ‘Can’t wait for the left to be blamed for a not at all left democrat losing a D+10 state.'” • Ouch! Nice to see “progressives” managing to dodge the blame cannons and control the narrative, if only for one night.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Unemployment Rate” [Trading Economics]. “The US unemployment rate fell to 4.6 percent in October 2021, the lowest since March 2020 and slightly below market expectations of 4.7 percent. The labor market continued to gradually recover from the pandemic hit, helped by a surge in demand for labor, record levels of job openings, the expiration of enhanced jobless benefits and the subsiding summer wave of COVID-19 infections. The number of unemployed people declined by 255 thousand to 7.4 million in October, while employment levels rose by 359 thousand to 154.0 million. Still, the unemployment rate remained well above the pre-crisis level of about 3.5 percent, amid reports of persistent worker shortages.” Comment:

As usual.

Employment Situation: “United States Non Farm Payrolls” [Trading Economics]. “The US economy added 531K jobs in October of 2021, the most in 3 months and above market forecasts of 450K as Covid-19 cases dropped and employers offered higher wages and more flexible hours. The biggest job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality (164K), in professional and business services (100K), in manufacturing (60K), and in transportation and warehousing (54K) while employment in public education declined (-65K).”

Employment Situation: “United States Average Hourly Earnings YoY” [Trading Economics]. “Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 4.9 year-on-year in October of 2021, in line with market expectations, following a 4.6 percent gain in the previous month.”

Employment Situation: “United States Labor Force Participation Rate” [Trading Economics]. “The labor force participation rate was unchanged at 61.6 percent in October 2021 and has remained within a narrow range of 61.4 percent to 61.7 percent since June 2020. The participation rate is 1.7 percentage points lower than in February 2020.”

Logistics: “United States LMI Logistics Managers Index Current” [Trading Economics]. “The Logistics Manager’s Index edged up to 72.6 in October of 2021 from 72.2 in September, pointing to a continuing expansion in the logistics sector, fueled primarily by involving capacity, cost and upstream inventories. The transportation crunch remains particularly pronounced, with the Transportation Prices subindex above 90 for the 7th time in the last 8 months while the Warehousing Prices gauge reached a record high of 89.3, a 4th consecutive record. Also, the Warehousing Space was down slightly to 47.6, marking the 13th consecutive month of contraction, and leading to a continue increase in Warehousing Utilization (up to 71.4), mainly because there is nowhere else for inventory to go.”

* * *

The Bezzle: “Nike applies for trademarks to make and sell VIRTUAL shoes and clothes in the metaverse: Apparel maker is also looking to hire someone to ‘usher us into the virtual world” [Daily Mail]. • What metaverse?

Tech: “35 Internal Code Words Facebook Uses to Talk About Its Users and Tools” [Gizomodo]. It’s a glossary. “[FUSS] for “Facebook Unified Signal Sharing/Feed Unified Scoring System. Internally, the Integrity team would classify posts on people’s newsfeeds under different FUSS categories depending on the ‘quality’ of that given entity. Low-quality posts were labeled ‘FUSS Red,’ “borderline” content was labeled ‘FUSS Yellow,’ and regular, high-quality posts were ‘FUSS Green.’ The research team also ran an experiment known as ‘FUSS Black,’ which was their attempt to filter out as much Red and Yellow content from a given feed as possible.”• Come on. There are no “regular, high-quality” Facebook posts. (The moral I drew from this article is that moderation at scale is not possible, no matter how many algos are involved.)

Tech: “Waterfox: A Firefox fork that could teach Mozilla a lesson” [The Register]. “The problem with Firefox Quantum is that it also dropped a very significant feature: Netscape’s XUL-based extension engine, added way back in 1997. To quote the Classic Addons Archive, dropping XUL meant losing “19,450 Firefox add-ons created by 14,274 developers over the past 15 years.” At a stroke this crippled one of Firefox’s killer features: how users could extensively customise it – unlike, say, Google Chrome…. Mozilla was the power users’ browser, even in the early days of Mozilla 0.6 and 0.7, when it became the default browser for almost all Linux distributions. Products based on Mozilla’s technologies, including Rust and KaiOS, are used by hundreds of millions of people, even if they have no idea of it. Firefox doesn’t need to be No. 1, but the Mozilla Foundation should stop trying to copy Chrome and try learning from its many forks and spinoffs.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 82 Extreme Greed (previous close: 82 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 72 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 4 at 12:31pm.

Health Care

“Single-dose intranasal vaccination elicits systemic and mucosal immunity against SARS-CoV-2” [Cell]. “The current intramuscular vaccines are designed to elicit systemic immunity without conferring mucosal immunity in the nasal compartment, which is the first barrier that SARS-CoV-2 virus breaches before dissemination to the lung. We report the development of an intranasal subunit vaccine that uses lyophilized spike protein and liposomal STING agonist as an adjuvant. This vaccine induces systemic neutralizing antibodies, IgA in the lung and nasal compartments, and T-cell responses in the lung of mice. Single-cell RNA sequencing confirmed the coordinated activation of T/B-cell responses in a germinal center-like manner within the nasal-associated lymphoid tissues, confirming its role as an inductive site to enable durable immunity. The ability to elicit immunity in the respiratory tract can prevent the establishment of infection in individuals and prevent disease transmission.” • Woot!

“COVID-19 Vaccines May Not Prevent Nasal SARS-CoV-2 Infection and Asymptomatic Transmission” [Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery]. From the Abtract: “Current COVID-19 vaccine candidates are administered by injection and designed to produce an IgG response, preventing viremia and the COVID-19 syndrome. However, systemic respiratory vaccines generally provide limited protection against viral replication and shedding within the airway, as this requires a local mucosal secretory IgA response. Indeed, preclinical studies of adenovirus and mRNA candidate vaccines demonstrated persistent virus in nasal swabs despite preventing COVID-19. This suggests that systemically vaccinated patients, while asymptomatic, may still be become infected and transmit live virus from the upper airway. COVID-19 is known to spread through respiratory droplets and aerosols.” From February 2021, still germane.

“Diet-related diseases pose a major risk for Covid-19. But the U.S. overlooks them.” [Politico]. Of all places. “Other countries, too, have ramped up action as officials begin to recognize diet-related diseases such as obesity, hypertension and diabetes have made their citizens much more vulnerable during the pandemic. Some states in Mexico recently went as far as banning junk food sales to children — on top of the country’s existing taxes on sugary drinks and fast food. Chile was already deep in its own crackdown on unhealthy products, having imposed the first mandatory, national warning labels for foods with high levels of salt, sugar and fat along with a ban on marketing such foods to kids. In Washington, there has been no such wake-up call about the link between diet-related diseases and the pandemic. There is no national strategy. There is no systemswide approach, even as researchers increasingly recognize that obesity is a disease that is driven not by lack of willpower, but a modern society and food system that’s almost perfectly designed to encourage the overeating of empty calories, along with more stress, less sleep and less daily exercise, setting millions on a path to poor health outcomes that is extremely difficult to break from. ‘Nobody is doing anything about this. Nobody is saying this has to stop,’ said Marion Nestle, a longtime New York University professor and author of numerous books about food policy. ‘And how do we stop it? With great difficulty and political will.’ ‘If you’re going to do anything about it, you have to take on the food industry, which no one wants to do,’ she added.”

“Summary of CO2 Limits Worldwide” (Google Doc). Aireamos-International. Draft. A listing.


“Study Suggests Coronavirus Infections Rampant in Iowa Deer” [MedScape]. “A study of coronavirus infections among white-tailed deer in Iowa found that about 80% of deer sampled across the state between April 2020 and January 2021 were infected with the virus. Between November and January, the prevalence of infection in the deer was about 50 times greater than that among Iowa’s human residents, according to Suresh Kuchipudi, PhD, a veterinary microbiologist and one of the lead researchers on the study. Genomic sequencing found that the virus lineages circulating among deer at different times correlated with those circulating among humans, suggesting that the virus is spreading to the deer from humans. There is currently no evidence of the deer transmitting the virus back to people, but scientists are concerned that, if this does happen, the deer could spread mutated versions that are potentially more virulent and resistant to the current COVID vaccines. While the study results have not yet been published, deer hunters in several states have been warned to take precautions, such as by wearing rubber gloves and a mask when handling white-tailed deer.”


“Want To Know What’s In Your Water?” [The Brockovich Report]. Yes, that Brockovich. “We can’t solve all these issues overnight, but we can help spread awareness and give more people tools and information to fight back. The first step is knowing what chemicals have been detected in your tap water. That’s why I’m so excited for Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) newly released update to the Tap Water Database, adding two more years of test results from nearly 50,000 water utilities across all 50 states and cataloging more than 320 contaminants.”

Sports Desk

“Dues Paid in Full, the Braves Are World Champions” [Sports Illustrated]. “And then there is Brian Snitker, the Atlanta manager who doubles as the patron saint of dues paying. Snitker has devoted 45 years of his life to the Braves, most of it ingloriously, such as thrice getting demoted from a big league coaching job—once so shockingly undeserved that he nearly quit the game he loves—before finally reaching the World Series this year. When you ride buses as much as Snitker did, you learn important lessons, such as not to drink the beer on those buses. ‘I learned, because then you have to go to the bathroom,’ he says. ‘And on minor league bus rides guys are sleeping everywhere. They are sprawled across seats. They’re sleeping in the aisle. They’re sleeping in the luggage racks. My goodness, you are stepping on people in the dark to get to the bathroom in the back. So I stopped drinking on the bus.’ Such are the lessons of an earthy, humbled soul. Forty-five years sometimes seemed like a longer version of the 10-hour bus ride from Savannah to Memphis when Snitker was playing in the Southern League in the 1970s. Snitker and the Savannah Braves traveled on a yellow school bus with no air conditioning. There was no professional driver. The team trainer drove the bus, though sometimes a roving instructor such as Cito Gaston would get behind the big wheel to give the poor trainer a break. Snitker can still feel the rivets in the metal, unpadded armrests pushing mockingly into his skin, as beads of sweat gathered and dripped in ceaseless protest to the hot, thick Southern evening air found intolerable by all life forms but gnats and mosquitoes. ‘Oh, no, there’s nothing fair about it,’ says Ronnie Snitker, Brian’s wife, about this great game of baseball. ‘But you just have to keep taking your lumps and go through it. And look what we did.'” • I checked The New Yorker, but the last article from Roger Angell is from 2020…

Groves of Academe

I assume “Diversity, Equity, Inclusion”:

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“‘Complicated jury selection’ ends with ‘intentional discrimination’ at Ahmaud Arbery death trial: Only 1 Black person to hear case” [USA Today]. “Prosecutors had asked Walmsley to reinstate eight Black potential jurors, arguing that defense lawyers struck them from the final jury because of their race. The U.S. Supreme Court has held it’s unconstitutional for attorneys during jury selection to strike potential jurors solely based on race or ethnicity…. While Walmsley agreed that there “appears to be intentional discrimination,” the judge declined to change the racial makeup, saying he was limited in his ability to take action because defense attorneys were able to give nonracial reasons for their decisions to strike the potential Black jurors from the panel.”

“Nikole Hannah-Jones Keeps Her Eyes on the Prize” [Vanity Fair]. “As the creator and public face of the project, which includes contributions from acclaimed reporters and essayists, Hannah-Jones has received—along with the praise—the brunt of the hate. Her name has become a cultural signifier of the power of investigative journalism, or a dog whistle to the politicians and commentators who use her life’s work as evidence of a conspiracy to take the country away from white people.” • No. Her “life’s work” is bad scholarship that she used to move to the front row in the chorus of professional “voices.”

Guillotine Watch


When archeologists dig this up, they’re going to think it’s the ugliest, crassest object they’ve ever seen. Why do today’s squillionaires have such wretched taster?

Class Warfare

“#PizzaIsNotWorking: Inside the Pharmacist Rebellion at CVS and Walgreens” [Matt Stoller, BIG]. “many pharmacists are now employees of big chains. And yet working as a pharmacist for a giant chain has also become increasingly difficult. Work loads have doubled over the last ten years, pay is down, and student debt loads are up (to nearly $200,000 for a recent graduate), even as the profits of Walgreens, CVS, and Walmart skyrocket. And that was before Covid, which put extra strain on pharmacists and technicians. The worker stories coming out of the chain pharmacy world are awful. No bathroom breaks. No time for meals. Unforgiving corporate metrics like demerits for taking too long to answer the phone or fill prescriptions, requirements to ask a certain number of people per week to get a flu shot, and always a relentless push for more items to do than time to do them. And these sweatshop conditions for medical professionals don’t just mean an unpleasant day for a pharmacist or technician, it means more mistakes, and accidental deaths. In fact, before the pandemic, the third leading cause of death in America was medical errors, at between 250,000 and 440,000 people a year, roughly the the size of Reno, Nevada dying annually. And of course, when there are safety issues caused by understaffing, the chains don’t stand by their pharmacists in front of state boards of pharmacy. If a pharmacist loses his or her license, they can’t practice. All of this has caused deep concern within the profession. ‘I am a danger to the public working for CVS,’ one pharmacist wrote in an anonymous letter to the Texas State Board of Pharmacy in April. Public officials and corporate executives have been hearing the complaints for years. But when things get really bad, the typical response from higher-ups for flagging morale is to… buy their pharmacists pizza. And that condescension from corporate executives and human resources officials is what finally lit the spark.” • And, as is becoming more usual, the workers have leverage. (Just wait ’til the pharmacies start developing supply chain issues.)

News of the Wired

“The deconstructed Standard Model equation” [symmetry]. “The Standard Model of particle physics is often visualized as a table, similar to the periodic table of elements, and used to describe particle properties, such as mass, charge and spin. The table is also organized to represent how these teeny, tiny bits of matter interact with the fundamental forces of nature.But it didn’t begin as a table. The grand theory of almost everything actually represents a collection of several mathematical models that proved to be timeless interpretations of the laws of physics. … This version of the Standard Model is written in the Lagrangian form. The Lagrangian is a fancy way of writing an equation to determine the state of a changing system and explain the maximum possible energy the system can maintain. Technically, the Standard Model can be written in several different formulations, but, despite appearances, the Lagrangian is one of the easiest and most compact ways of presenting the theory.”

“Easy,” they said. “Compact,” they said.

* * *

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 (KH):

KH writes: “Sword Fern invading.”

* * *

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Samuel Conner

    > “Easy,” they said. “Compact,” they said.

    This is a bit unfair; ‘easiest’ and ‘most compact’ need not be ‘easy’ or ‘compact’.

    1. TroyIA

      The standard model equation is actually quite easy to understand. The equation that is displayed above is helpfully broken down by sections so for section one imagine a flat plate. Then for section two imagine a turtle supporting that plate. As for section three imagine yet another turtle. Just keep imagining turtles all the way down through the sections and you should get the picture.

      1. John

        I get it the standard model is Yertle the Turtle with plates between each turtle. Why not just say that?

    2. albrt

      Looks like epicycles to me. Just keep adding particles every time an experiment doesn’t work out.

  2. Splashoil

    Is Vaccine Tracker “fully vaccinated” using only 1-2 shots or are they counting the booster shot in that definition?

  3. antidlc

    RE: shortages

    I visit the drive thru of a local bagel shop at least once a week. (I refuse to go in.)

    Sign at the drive thru says due to shortage, the store is out of flavored cream cheese. You can only get plain.

    Also, no chocolate chip bagels.

    1. Eudora Welty

      Huh, I was looking for flavored cream cheese in several Seattle area grocery stores earlier this week, and the shelves were empty of the flavored type, but had lots of the plain type. I figured it was an anomaly specific to the stores, but apparently maybe not.

  4. Louis Fyne

    Re. Firefox

    Isn’t fhe problem listed above a feature, not a bug as, if I recall correctly, Mozilla Foundation relies disproportionately on revenue from making Google the default Firefox search engine

  5. hemeantwell

    RE Democrats plead with Biden to be more assertive.

    Nope. Biden needs to get a sense of humor. I’ve seen clips of JFK showing some real wit, very disarming and humanizing, and it’s very much what Biden should be doing, especially against stuff on the order of the Brandon gibe. By portraying himself as taking it less seriously than some of his deadly serious supporters, he could distance himself from their annoying piety and inclination to censorship.. Off the top I can’t think of other examples, although I’m sure after I post this I’ll be thinking of Dubya.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      That requires having a brain that is quick on its feet. Do you think Biden has that? If you think he does not, then do you think he should risk slipping on banana peels of his own making just to pretend that he has a brain that is quick on its feet?

    2. XXYY

      This would also have been a weakness of Sanders as president. I love the guy, but he’s very serious.

  6. Jason Boxman

    So this was probably mentioned at some point, but lately I’ve been wondering with so many vaccinated in the west, how can late entrants find vaccine and control groups to pursue eventual regulatory approval for new vaccines for SARS-COV-2? Will the first mover advantage of the early vaccines eliminate any further advancements in this area?

  7. saywhat?

    that says nothing about Long Covid, the effect on children, etc. lambert

    Except for children with co-morbidities, I understood they were generally at more risk from the vaccines themselves.

  8. Carolinian

    Braves–they are having their victory parade today.

    And Hannah Jones–I’ve been reading books about the 1770s and contra her thesis there were some who wanted England to ban the slave trade and England refused (it was very profitable for Scottish slave traders). Seems that even then there was great fear of a slave revolt by the Virginia aristocracy who had made their fortunes and decided slavery should be phased out. They didn’t want even more slaves to come in.

    Sadly my fellow Carolinians felt the opposite and had the only state with more slaves than non slaves. In the end the creators of the Consitution let commerce override principle but it’s foolish to say the country itself or the Revolution were all about slavery. One can say it was much about grabbing land from the Indiginous as England tried to stymie westward expansion.

    1. griffen

      I enjoyed reading the article from SI on the Braves. I read one yesterday from ESPN, detailing the trade activity by the Braves GM; it went against the grain, being that far behind at end of July (even if that was in this season’s lousy East division). Really happy for a true lifer, the manager for the Braves. I’m sure after going to that many smaller towns / cities, there are possibly a few variations to a Bull Durham he could talk about. Ron Washington is a lifer too; he was so-close in 2011 with the Texas Rangers.

      1. foghorn longhorn

        Aw grif, you shivved me. j/k
        So happy for Ron “that’s the way baseball go” Washington.
        Took our sadsack franchise to the Series, not once, but twice.
        He’ll always be a hero in my eyes.

        1. griffen

          Those Rangers teams were the last time I was excited to see a world series. I lived in north Texas, Plano actually, up through middle 2015. Watching them reach that level in 2010, and then repeat the trip in 2011 to get so very close was fun.

          Never heard much out of Josh again. But they left for a bigger contract afterwards.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Never thought about it before but with Hannah Jones and her ilk saying that the origins of the United States was really about slaves and the rest of all that rubbish, a secondary effect is that it pushes the story of the original native Americans out of this narrative but who would have had a more profound effect on the origins and lives of the first Colonies. I wonder how they feature in her work.

      1. John

        IIRC, they do not. As a rule, attributing anything with more than the most elementary degree of complexity to a single cause is an error.

    3. R

      Scotland was (and is) not an element of the set England. Scotland and England were elements of the set Great Britain at the time. I appreciate the US history lesson but it is ironic that students of the prodigal federal nation cannot distinguish between the political entities of their former colonist!

  9. IM Doc

    The last three days here in my office after the election have been quite revealing. The intensity just keeps increasing.

    My most important job as a physician is to be an advocate for my patients. I still have a love/hate relationship with the modern Dem party – of which I have been an active part for the past several decades – I guess I would add that what I am about to say is an attempt to advocate for what is left of them too. Hopefully, some elected Dem officials read this blog and comments – maybe it will help them get a clue.

    Since WED AM, I have had in my office 3 different patients, all blue collar working young men, all 3 from 3 different ethnic groups – all in occupations that we now consider front line and vital – and all are critical to the current supply issues in this country. All 3 work for national corporations who have now been mandating the vaccine – and their time is up. All 3 have resigned – plunging their 3 separate companies into even further chaos ( 2 of them are quite critical) at least locally.

    They will not be taking the vaccine. There is no convincing them otherwise. ALL THREE have IgG titers to COVID that are over 50. They have all had COVID in the past year. I have written exemptions on this basis for all 3 – and they have been summarily dismissed. I as their physician am not even allowed to speak with anyone in HR. That is simply out of the question.

    The companies are going to take a revolver to the head to kill a fly – and blow their own heads off. There is no scientific or medical explanation for this behavior – none at all.

    The young men have all resigned. They however are all going to be OK – although there are tears of anger and frustration this week. One has lined up a journeyman electrician position, one will be starting at plumbing school/apprenticeship and the other will be starting to work at his own uncle’s welding business as an apprentice. All have told the trucking and rail industries that they worked for that they can rot. I know all of these kids’ families – and their parents and grandparents are all FDR type blue collar Dems. They have all known this day was coming – and all of these family members have been in and out of my office the past few weeks – with all kinds of variations on FJB. EVERY SINGLE ONE. They have been life – long Dems. That is now over. A realignment is happening on a grand scale in this country. If the Dems are not careful – they are going to find themselves all alone with the PMC – while all their other constituencies melt away. It is happening here slowly and surely in my blue area right before my very eyes.


    I am not sure I have ever seen such a self-own politically in my life. DEMS – If you are reading this – you need to wake up – this is going to be a disaster for you.

    But let me tell you what is going to be worse.

    I have had dozens of young parents in my office the past few months who as a part of their visit ask me if my kids are going to be vaccinated. My response is NO – the math just does not work out for healthy kids to accept that risk. I just cannot see doing this until much more is known. The calculus is completely different for those who have cancer, cystic fibrosis etc. Many European countries whose health officials have not proven to be liars or gasbags have come to the same conclusion.

    I have now had 3 families in the past 2 months as new patients that have moved from their deep blue coastal area to get away from the forced kid mandates and the craziness in the schools. Dems all. But no more. The political talk in my office has been unprecedented. I do not engage in it or participate. I do listen. It is all FJB – or insert governor of choice – looking right at you New Jersey. That was not an accident on Tuesday.

    The absolute rage that is building for any attempt to force a mandate on kids is something I have never seen before. I think this will be an absolute red line for many parents – red or blue.

    The current statistics tell us that between 1 and 3000 and 1 in 6000 of these kids are going to have heart problems. They may be over or underestimating – that is the best guess right now. Other countries have paid attention. These Dem leaders have not – THEY WILL NOW OWN EVERY SINGLE PROBLEM WITH THESE KIDS – and the above stats are just the heart problems – I am hearing things from friends that chill me about other issues.

    When I was young, it was not unheard of for politicians of both parties to bring up Biblical concepts to make points. The Dems were very good at bringing up moral issues right out of the Sermon on the Mount. That was long ago – before it was considered shameful to discuss morality and Scriptures in our new Science-Techno world.

    It was therefore very discordant to hear the Dem NY Gov Hochul start talking about Jesus the other day – and “acts of love”. It is very clear modern politicians should not be doing that – they have lost the ability to do it with meaning and impact. They appear condescending instead.

    As a veteran of years of Sunday School – I can quote Jesus right back at people. And the quote that has been running through my head the past few weeks about mandating vaccines for kids is right out of the Book of Mark – 9:42 – “And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.”

    Dems, I am doing what I can to warn you. YOU ARE GOING TO OWN EVERY BIT OF THIS. I have been doing this for 30 years – have never had people openly discussing their disdain for a current situation like this – NEVER. I fear this is not going to go well for you at all if you keep this up. I hope someone is paying attention.

    I was young during the AIDS crisis. I saw what the HIV anti-virals did for AIDS in this country virtually overnight. Would it not be wise, Dems, to put this non-sterilizing vaccine stuff on the sidelines – and let’s wait and see what happens with the new drugs? It has all the potential to be a game-changer – just like with HIV.

    Sorry all, this has been a crazy week. Very very busy – but not with COVID.

    Thank you for allowing me to rant.

    1. jo6pac

      Your Rant is most welcome and sadly corp. demodogs won’t be listening. They love to lose that way that helps fund raising and they have no accountability.

      Thanks IM Doc

    2. Carolinian

      No, thank you. Some of us spend a lot of time on the internet and not so much with real life such as you describe (or RL to us webheads). But it’s easy to imagine the anger one would feel should the country’s president threaten to take one’s job away for a less than compelling reason. And the internet is there to explain to the public why it is less than compelling. Perhaps our elites don’t spend nearly enough time on the internet. You learn things.

    3. Pat

      As always, it is good to hear what you see and know.

      I listen on public transportation. Yes I eavesdrop. Much of the discussion has gone quiet in the last week or two, but up to then, in one of the bluest cities in the US the predominant mood was closer to FJB then yeah everyone is going to get vaccinated. I don’t think it has changed, I think people are either adjusting their lives to go underground until the insanity breaks.

      One other change in the last couple of weeks is I have witnessed several incidents where the driver refused to move the bus until someone was masked or got off. Not sure about it but that is a big change.

      1. petal

        Our dept chair is again pushing hard to have the indoor mask mandate removed. He’s so proud of his efforts and sent out an email about it this afternoon. I was/am livid. We’re heading into winter and people are spending a lot more time indoors, I figure the vaccine effectiveness is also wearing off for most people, and there’s a jump in cases on campus these last 2 weeks. Back to maskless normal because everyone got the vaccines, the chair said. Some people(the PMC?) are holding on so hard to this and just do not want to admit it.
        Mind is boggled.

        1. Jen

          Was on a weekly check-in call with the senior leadership on monday when one harrumphed that the college was not likely to loosen restrictions anytime soon. A recent recruit, who is an MD, said she agreed. Why, this person, who I will say is someone who is genuinely interested in others opinions, asked. She noted that cases were resign and that even vaccinated people are presenting sicker. And, she added, we’ve been doing this for 18 months. It’s no hardship to keep going until things calm down. I piped up that northern states were seeing upticks…or leveling off after decreases, to which she nodded.

          Local note – 2 weeks ago the college had positive tests in the single digits…then 18…then 25. Colder weather, people moving indoors… predictable as night follows day.

          Said chair likes to advertise himself as the only virologist in the institution, whereupon I feel compelled to note that he studies herpes.

          1. petal

            LOL yes! Thank you!
            It’s like being trapped in a car with an arrogant drunk driver. I hope this person is being rebuffed by the admin-it’s such a terrible idea. The little people can’t speak up and say “maybe this isn’t such a good idea”, out of fear of being reprimanded or sacked.

    4. ambrit

      Your rants have great merit. Many of us read them all the way through. I find the information very useful, not only as a report from “in the weeds,” but as corroboration of what we are seeing and hearing ourselves in our half-horse town. Your town is not too far off the mean as far as American towns go. One thing I have noticed is that I have not been hearing Republicans crow or exult in the travails of the Democrat Party Denizens. Most seem to be waiting for the dysfunctions and damages to come to their neighborhoods. There is a palpable sense of impending Doom. I checked for this possibly being an artifact of personal bias on my part by bringing up the subject with Phyl and some of the neighbors. All echoed my disquiet. (It could be the return of Fall. I don’t really know yet.)
      Try to stay balanced Doc!
      Be safe!

    5. cocomaan

      NPR is pushing articles today about how Covid vaccinating children for public school is inevitable.

      I always use NPR as a litmus for what the PMC is thinking. Won’t be surprised to see this coming.

      Thank goodness for Texas and Florida in fighting this. It’s one thing to mandate for adults. I can see the point. But to mandate for kids is utter insanity.

      1. Charger01

        I always use NPR as a litmus for what the PMC is thinking. Won’t be surprised to see this coming.

        This. I have not listened to NPR for well over two years, but today in a rental car, I listened.

        They were slobbering about getting kids vaccinations and a fawning 20 minute interview with “white board single mom” senator katie porter was beyond cringe.

        To dovetail off IM Doc’s comments, what happens when Team Blue isn’t relevant to 70+% of the voting population? They have a duolopy lock on our electionsand are ideologically committed to suppressing the left. I’m genuinely curious what comes next. History has not been kind to the Whigs, Boll Weevils and (yes) Bull Moose Progressives. I’m curious if the Dems fold into the Republicans and the reactionary instincts foster that transition.

    6. Arizona Slim

      IM Doc, I’m going to make like I’m one of your patients and present with this complaint:

      Lately, I’ve been experiencing insomnia. Part of it is due to an emotional wrestling match over a decision I’ve been in the process of making. Another part stems from grasping for words to describe what has gone so wrong in our country.

      I’m a word person at heart, and when I can’t find the words, I get upset. And I can’t sleep.

      Well, along comes this comment. IM Doc has found the words for what I’ve been trying to express.

      Thank you from all the way down in Tucson!

    7. Sardonia

      I posted this below, but maybe it belongs in this sub-thread, as it’s right on point of “let’s wait and see what happens with the new drugs?”:

      Not that I trust Pfizer farther than I can throw Westminster Abbey, but a trial that shows their new COVID pill to be 90% effective and preventing unvaccinated infected people from being hospitalized, and 100% effective at preventing them from dying?

      A 5-day treatment course, upon testing positive. Sure sounds better than endless booster shots of a waning, non-sterilizing vaccine….


      1. Yves Smith

        Yes, Pfizer lies.

        The course includes an unnamed antiviral. Guaranteed to be a super expensive. Has to be administered in a hospital if monoclonal antibody, which is what the brain trust thinks it is. Also has to be administered very early in Covid. Think your insurer will approve it fast enough?

        Oh, and the trial was a joke. 775 people. This isn’t remotely the scale needed.

    8. outside observer

      I have written exemptions on this basis for all 3 – and they have been summarily dismissed. I as their physician am not even allowed to speak with anyone in HR. That is simply out of the question.

      I’ve got some idea as to why, based on my n=1. Person doing the denying has all the medical credentials of… a dietician.

    9. IM Doc

      I should add – all of my kids have been vaccinated with all other childhood vaccines.

      Without one second of hesitation on my part. The math of risk/benefit makes absolute sense in every case.

      The vast majority of these concerned parents are the same way – and I would say most of them like myself have been fully vaccinated for COVID as adults. Many of them, like myself, became an unfortunate statistic of a breakthrough COVID infection. Many of them have shared breakthrough stories of family or friends. Some media types are STILL to this day peddling the lie that breakthroughs are rare, further eroding any credibility they may have had. It is so common as to be a constant discussion for me all day in these situations and most notably about boosters. In my part of the world, the older high risk people seem to be happily lining up for boosters – which is good. The younger people are not so pliant. I am not at all sure how this is going to turn out either.

      It is the spectre of the COVID vaccines which have not been fully tested that are of concern to everyone with regard to the kids.

    10. The Rev Kev

      Last night on the news in Oz, I saw a story about this guy running a business in America in this huge building and he has about 500 people with only half of them vaccinated. He says that if he has to fire that half, then his business is gone as that half includes a lot of the people with technical knowledge and experience. I’m pretty sure that all five hundred of them can vote as well. I wonder how true this is of the tens of thousands of businesses effected.

      But mandating kids down to 5 years old get it? Hell hath no fury as a parent when they see their children in unnecessary danger. And that runs true across every country and culture in the world. I hate to say it but I believe that all those tens of millions of children will be put in harm’s way, simply so that a bunch of pharma corporations can make even more bank. Those totally risk-free billions have not been enough apparently. There will be a reckoning and I do believe that those politicians will be more shocked than when you had those rioters intrude into their ‘sacred’ space back in January. Keep up the good work Doc and don’t forget to stay frosty.

      1. antidlc

        ” hate to say it but I believe that all those tens of millions of children will be put in harm’s way, simply so that a bunch of pharma corporations can make even more bank.”

        So depressing. I think we all knew this country was eff’d up but the last 18 months has shown how messed up it really is. Profits before people.

        It’s getting hard to have any hope for this country.

    11. Tom Stone

      I do not have a young child, however the idea of forcing children to take these vaccines is abhorrent to me.
      It is evil and I do not use that word lightly.
      And it is profoundly stupid, deliberately enraging a significant portion of the populace when they have been under enormous stress for nearly two years…
      will have consequences and they will NOT be minor consequences.

    12. zagonostra

      Your quote from Mark 9:42 stings and cuts to the bone of the matter. As I’ve commented before, this will be the end of the Democratic Party.

  10. Mo.B

    Lambert you’re a foolish optimist because the Senate will take out whatever nice things the progs put in the BBB. I don’t know why the house moderates don’t take a “leap of faith” and leave it to Manchin/Sinema to kill the BBB.

    Oddly I also don’t hate Biden as much after reading Schreckinger’s book. It is very very damning as far as total corruption goes, but it depicts a tight knit [crime] family with genuine feelings for one another.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Too bad that tight-knit crime family is A-OK with damning the rest of us to the kind of destruction that their shenanigans and “policies” are queueing up. FJB and his family and the horses they rode in on.

  11. outside observer

    Recent small rally at DC regarding vaccine adverse effects in case anyone is interested. Heartbreaking stories, so maybe not a great pick me up for a Friday, though in keeping with the plethora of dismal posts at NC. Lots of speakers. I was particularly interested in the accounts from doctors and their experience with concerns being dismissed. Peter Doshi also a speaker.

      1. Milton

        Yes, and in a fair and well-run world, Jayapal would be considered a slightly right of center congressperson.

  12. Carla

    Lambert, I hope you’d don’t consider that deconstructed Standard Model equation to be a substitute for a plantidote… because it’s not!

    We love you, but we still need our plantidotes to get through these grim days!

      1. Michael Ismoe

        Ohhhhh, that’s what that is. I thought that those were Joe Manchin’s demands that had to be met before he’d vote for BBB.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Not even close to the first time that has happened. Even old Joe was once paid $200,000 to make a speech and back a Republican candidate against a Democrat candidate in an election.

  13. Lee

    Every now and then for my own bemusement I take look at my Medicare bill.

    Specialist office visits

    Amount charged $712.00
    Medicare approved 153.22
    Medicare paid 122.58

    Amount charged $417.00
    Medicare approved 153.22
    Medicare paid 122.58


    Amount charged $12,045
    Medicare approved 703.75
    Medicare paid 563.00

    A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.

    1. Pat

      If we got MFA, with requirements to take it, I would bet that reimbursement would go up, but probably not as much as might be expected. Not only would bills get paid and in a reasonable time there would be much less needed administrative time and employment. Unfortunately there would also be more demand.

      One of the reasons I believe we need to require at minimum a third of your patients use MFA is to really put a dent in the investment opportunities our sadistic overlords see in healthcare. And yes I think the need to pay a lot of people who are no where near healthcare is a big reason our costs are so high.

  14. Darthbobber

    Well, Hannah-Jones does indeed have her “eyes on the prize”. Its just a different prize from the one in the civil rights hymn.

  15. Princess Cutekitten

    All we have in our town are chain pharmacies, so we use CVS as it’s the one right around the corner. We were friendly with the former pharmacist, who told me flat out, “One of these days CVS is going to kill somebody.” I asked if we should switch to another pharmacy, and she said all the chains were about as bad. She escaped to a hospital.

    The Walgreen’s is no better. I used them once, as everyone else was out of whatever I needed. When I got home, I found that they had given me someone else’s heart medication! I was there at 0900 sharp the next morning, and what scared me was no one seemed very surprised about the mistake.

    1. Nordberg

      I feel lucky we have two independent pharmacies in my town. One even has a soda counter. The other is a new one. However I guess with 200k in student dept it would be hard to get a business loan.

  16. marym

    A look at history textbooks used in VA until “ ‘withdrawn’ by the State Board of Education in 1972; even after that…some school systems defiantly continued their use.”

    Article also links to an excerpt from “Virginia’s Embattled Textbooks: Lessons (Learned and Not) from the Centennial Era” 2012

  17. griffen

    Non farm payrolls and job market stats. On the outside it looks like a pretty stable, but unremarkable month for job creation. Year / year annual increase in pay appears pretty solid more or less. What will be interesting in the months to come, rolling towards 2022 – what further changes will the supply chain situation have in store? Based on a comment left above (h/t for IM Doc), it may not look particular good for trucking / logistics.

    Well, no need to worry. Stock markets ended the week pretty well. In what is arguably a perturbing indication, UST yields were lower.

  18. Grant

    For “progressives” to get any blame is logically confusing, as they still have very little power in their own party, were outliers going back decades, which has only recently been slowly changing, the candidates are largely not on the left, are wealthy and often corrupt, and their policies have been gutted. So, it makes zero logical sense, until you think about the fact that they have done a horrible job of differentiating themselves from the Biden, Pelosi, Schumer, Clyburn types in their own party, have often been vocal supporters of Biden and have been timid at best in calling out open corruption and profiteering among those in their party. So, they have had no power, their policies are still not being implemented, but because of this, the failures of the neoliberals that have had actual power have now become theirs as well.

    But, when you look at long term trends, the scale of the crises we face, this whole things is pretty disastrous. The “moderates” and the right have no solutions at all to much of anything, are actively making things worse and are almost all corrupt. I see no real policy analysis among the media owned by corporations, with all of the on air talent being incredibly wealthy.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      I guess the DemProgs wanted to show that they are big kids, and should be allowed to sit at the big kids table.

      If it works out well for the people who support them, they will remain in political existence. If it works out badly for the people who support them, they will fade from political existence. Fade down to a stub of non-removable race-based tribally-supported future old-timers.

      1. albrt

        I’m from the future. It works out badly for anybody who thinks working people should have a life expectancy greater than 45.

  19. Pat

    Knowing how Manchin has played this, with this latest moderate salvo, I would demand that not only must Manchin agree to vote for BBB, but that the Senate vote on it must take place at the same time as the House vote on the infrastructure bill. After starting at the same time and the progressives would waive voting until after it got 51 votes.

    And come flat out and state it is since so many Senators are not agreement capable.

    But making sure Manchin doesn’t get his infrastructure goodies would be important to me.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      I suspect the House DemProgs are still too nice and polite to do that. It is probably due to the moral rot of pacifitis which infected parts of the left. Pacifitis leaves its surviving victims too nice to get mean.

      If the House DemProgs are fully human, they will follow the advice in this little movie clip, even if they haven’t actually ever seen it. If they are less than fully human, they won’t follow it even if they have seen this clip.


    2. Milton

      The only time moderate and Manchin belong in the same sentence is when it is referencing his alcohol intake before 10AM.

  20. drumlin woodchuckles

    Bitcoin, Eric Adams?

    I suppose he is validating his belief in himself as young, groovy, hip and digital-kewl. Why else would one brag about doing anything with bitcoin?

    More coal-powered bitcoin mines. More carbon skyflooding. Youth, groovitude, hipness and digi-kewlness are not substitutes to clear reality-based thinking. In this case, they seem to be obstacles.

    Those New Yorkers who entertain a reality-based view of the reality of man made global warming should all quietly flee the city to higher ground, if they can afford to do so.

    1. Buckeye

      This is hilarious! A cop who is too dumb to recognize a con job in Bitcoin! Or maybe he was always a corrupt cop and he’s shilling for the elitist Bitcoin counterfeiters. Either way, it explains why New York police can’t stop crime.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        A lot of otherwise smart people fall for the Bitcon. A co-worker who is smart enough to know better is heavily ( for his modest income) invested in Bitcon.

        Maybe he is very wowed by the digital glamor of it all.

  21. drumlin woodchuckles

    About Marion Nestle’s statement that “somebody has to take on Big Food”, I think she knows that nobody in politics or regulatics is going to do that.

    So it becomes up to individuals and groups of people to run away from the Big Food Plantation. That means individual and group decisions to grow their own food, do their own reading in the parallel dissident food information books and media, buy certified organic and once they have learned enough about food quality by growing their own food for several years, spot and buy quality even if it isn’t certified organic.

    Because some quality is indeed not certified organic.

    And let the food non-rebel Majority stick with their Big Food supplied “fake fuud produkt”.

    1. ArtDog_CT

      Over the past decade or so I’ve seen plant-derived products being described as certified organic, and organically grown but not certified. In the US gaining organic certification requires 3 years documentation that the farm in question has been chemical-free, along with a good many other expensive and time-eating requirements. You can farm conventionally and be required no more than to have one person on staff licensed to apply horticultural chemicals – a matter of a few hours lecture time and a relatively modest fee. Enforcement is a joke.

      Sadly, the USDA ‘certified organic’ standard has been gamed extensively by food manufacturers and industrial growers, so it comes back to a core truth: Know your Farmer, Know your Food. For local products that’s not too hard for non-city dwellers, but for products sourced far afield or world-wide, for example essential oils, you have to trust your vendor, importer, manufacturer. The further outside a web of community these interactions and transactions take place, the greater the strain on trust. I think this extends to other things in addition to the food system, like corporate health care. To the detriment of (almost) everyone.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Well . . . . that is somewhat true. Someone should do a study, if possible, to see just how “organic” the “certified organic” is or isn’t.

        These problems are what lead some organic farmers to condemn the thought of Federal Organic Certification to begin with.

        People in small population centers with farmed countryside nearby will be in a position to be able to know their farm and their farmer. People in million-person-or-more population centers are not in a position to be able to know any of that. The trustworthiness . . . or not . . . . of Certified Organic to really be organic is all they have. How, then, can Certified Organic be forced to be Organic to benefit people living in the great low-density labor camps known as “cities” who have no possible way to know their farmer? And no possible way to grow any of their own food?

        I have heard of another suggested approach . . . Certified Full Disclosure. The seeker of Certified Full Disclosure would fully disclose, in agonizing and excruciating detail, every last jot and tittle of what he/she did and/or used throughout every aspect of his/her farming operation. If the disclosure was utterly full and totally total and the Cerfification Inspector could be satisfied of that, then the Inspector would award the Certified Full Disclosure status to the grower in question.

        People who wanted their food marinated 24/7 in Roundup would know that if a Certified Full Disclosure farmer claimed he/she marinated their fields in Roundup 24/7 for the entire growing season, that the Inspector determined that they really did do just exactly that. And the seekers of Roundup food could be satisfied.

        Likewise, people who wanted what used to be called “organic” could find something as close to that as feasible, according to the Disclosure Documents, and buy it knowing exactly what was used and done.

        Cerfified Full Disclosure. ” We disclose, you decide”.

  22. Sardonia

    Not that I trust Pfizer farther than I can throw Westminster Abbey, but a trial that shows their new COVID pill to be 90% effective at preventing unvaccinated infected people from being hospitalized, and 100% effective at preventing them from dying?

    A 5-day treatment course, upon testing positive. Sure sounds better than endless booster shots of a waning, non-sterilizing vaccine….


  23. XXYY

    My metaphor has been “auto-kinbaku-bi” (self-administered Japanese rope bondage), but perhaps “trick handcuffs” is simpler and better.

    Another is Cleavon Little taking himself hostage, by holding his own gun to his own head, as he backs away from a crowd of hostile cowboy Bubbas in Blazing Saddles.

    “Keep back, or I’ll kill the n****!”, he yells, before making his escape.

  24. Henry Moon Pie

    “The last time labor force participation was this low, Jimmy Carter was President.”

    I have nothing against Lee Carter or the DSA, but his perspective on labor force participation is wrongheaded on two counts. First, back when Jimmy Carter was President and 40 hours a week of wage slavery was adequate to support a middle class family, those weren’t the Dark Ages. Them was the good ol’ days, and I don’t think there be tons of unhappiness if we went back to that with the work for pay and work in household not divided according to gender. That’s the politics of it as I see it.

    Second, every job has a carbon footprint, and we should be doing nothing that is not essential if it has a carbon footprint. Trying to return the maximum number of people to jobs that are bullshit or just downright destructive is insane with the double penalty of bringing us toward an ever worsening ecological catastrophe. Just because that’s an unimaginable reality politically in a land where dental for us poor old folks is just too much, arranging our affairs to avoid a complete crash landing is the only sensible thing to do, and maybe we just have to keep realizing that one person at a time.

    I hope Lee Carter gets it before too long because he might be a guy who could help lead us out of this.

  25. Jason Boxman

    Looks like we’re going to ditch the ‘social spending bill’ after all.

    Facing pushback by conservative-leaning members in their ranks, Democratic leaders put their $1.85 trillion social policy, climate and tax package on hold on Friday, instead moving toward a vote on a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package.

    The retreat came after centrist Democrats balked at supporting the social policy plan without a formal estimate of its cost and economic impact. Hoping to convey movement toward approving it, House leaders said they would hold a procedural vote that would allow consideration of the measure sometime in the future, with hopes of passing it by Thanksgiving.

    Live Updates: House Democrats Push Forward on Infrastructure but Delay Social Spending Plan

      1. Jason Boxman

        Looks like they did fall for it. They’ve “extracted a promise” that the football won’t be yanked away again. Because that’s never happened before.

        Yep. Confirmed. They folded.

        In a late-night vote that followed a day of near-death experiences for Mr. Biden’s agenda, the House passed the infrastructure measure on a 228-to-206 vote, with 13 Republicans bucking their party leadership and joining all but six Democrats in support. Its triumph was something of a vindication of Mr. Biden’s efforts to seek bipartisanship on a key issue that both parties have long viewed as a priority.

        But ultimately, passage came not because of Republican backing but because liberal Democrats decided to trust balking centrists to eventually come to their side. Passage had been stalled for months, while liberals withheld their support to force an agreement on the social policy bill. Progressive Democrats had revolted anew on Friday, with many insisting that they could not back the measure without a vote on the social welfare bill.

        So that’s it for the “Biden agenda”, such as it was, and any possibility of liberal Democrats surviving 2022 elections.

        Can’t say I’m surprised. When what passes for “the left” conceded on the top line number, it was always only a matter of time.

        In the end, enough progressives accepted a written commitment, released after 10 p.m., from five centrist colleagues that they would back the social safety net and climate package in mid-November, as long as the numbers add up.

        LOL. Seriously. LOL. Pwn’d again.

        1. jimmy cc

          well they probably have a series of killer tweets lined up if thier bill doesn’t pass.

          it will be a bloodbath next election.

          Republicans can beat dems running a truck driver or an investment banker now.

      2. jrs

        the actual progressives DID NOT fall for it. I mean it depends on how you define progressives, but AOC, Bowman, Tlaib, Omar did not vote for it. Maybe there aren’t any more actual progressives.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          It does not matter that a few “designated heroes” voted against it. What matters is that it passed. What that means is that the “designated heroes” destroy truth-value by lending their names to the Party which conspired to get the Bipartybill passed now, so that the other bill can be not-passed later.

          If this really ends up being what really ends up happening in the end, then bearing the label “Democrat” should disqualify anyone from being elected no matter how pwogwessive they may be. And if this is really the scenario which really plays out and becomes real, a number of DemPwog officeholders will find themselves ignored and abandoned by just enough sadder-but-wiser constituents so as to fail to win their next elections. If the sadder-but-wiser effect even takes down some “designated hero” DemPwogs, that would reveal that much of the electorate considers it all an act, and all of the DemParty officeholders to be actors.

  26. Soredemos

    >Why do today’s squillionaires have such wretched taste

    I’ve occasionally thought what I would do if I were billionaire. Weird personal projects, Howard Hughes style, was my conclusion. That guy self-funded airplane projects and movies that often only really mattered to him and didn’t always turn a profit. That is at least less harmful than what the modern rich get up to.

  27. Michael Ismoe

    Last week, she praised a convicted rioter, Leonard Gruppo, for his decision to be interviewed by the select committee last month. Howell sentenced the military veteran to home confinement and probation, saying he demonstrated genuine remorse,

    Did he also have to pinky swear that he wouldn’t vote for Trump in 2024?

  28. Stephanie

    I can’t decide if that deconstructed Standard Model equation graphic lends itself better to a “Do your own research” joke or a “Trust the science” joke.

  29. Michael Fiorillo

    Re Sweeney’s loss in New Jersey: an old-school Party machine kingpin in South New Jersey, Sweeney worked intimately with Chris Christie to charterize the Camden school system, which predictably resulted in public school closings, loss of services for high-need students and increased privatization. He deserves a lot worse than a surprising election loss; whether the residents of the area deserve his replacement is another question.

  30. VietnamVet

    David Halberstam wrote; “the truth of the war never entered the upper-level American calculations; that this was a revolutionary war, and that the other side held title to the revolution because of the colonial war which had just ended. This most simple fact … entered into the estimates of the American intelligence community and made them quite accurate. But it never entered into the calculations of the principals, for a variety of reasons; among other things to see the other side in terms of nationalism or as revolutionaries might mean a re-evaluation of whether the United States was even fighting on the right side”.

    This has gotten much worse in the past half of a century. The Western Empire became a hegemon. The principals became Imperialists blindly exploiting North America and its inhabitants along with the rest of the world in the pursuit of immediate profits for global corporations and the oligarchy. Except the Empire is collapsing and this is now a multi-polar world. They do not serve or protect the American people but themselves. The Republic is gone. To do see all of this clearly, the Best and Brightest would have to acknowledge they are on the wrong side of history and are instigating an inevitable revolutionary war/climate collapse that will end with the secession of the Union and even extinction. They can’t. Instead, they blame others, the unvaccinated.

    1. albrt

      I don’t know what the so-called progressives are being told, but there will be no “other bill” unless it is a dollar for dollar transfer to President Manchin’s coal companies.

  31. ambrit

    Mini-Zeitgeist report.
    In my spam e-mail files this morning was a blast from a right wing gun nuts group.
    Starts with a quite blistering savaging of Biden; “…this moron has been ignoring our voices for long enough.”
    Has links to several right wing protest organizing sites.
    Ends with: “Stay strong America. And remember – change starts with you!”
    I just have to sit back and marvel. Why doesn’t the “Left” organize in this way? Where is the similar level of engagement on the Left?
    This is a thinly veiled call for “mass action.” Then I read about the “Progressives” caving in to the Corporate Democrat Party Aparatchiks on the Infrastructure and Social Spending bills’ delinking.
    The American “Left” needs a Trotsky or a Lenin right now. Anything else is kabuki.

      1. ambrit

        Even better than a Gingwretch would be a Grover Norquist.
        I’ll even sink so low as to admit that I’d be satisfied with a Leftist Ollie North and Fawn Hall.

      1. ambrit

        You got me there. I do occasionally wonder why I put Left in scare quotes, as if it’s some imaginary mental confabulation.

        Imagine a circle of impressionable young consumers sitting around a campfire at night.
        Off to one side is the Sales Manager, holding a Torch of Truth under his chin, shining the Light of TINA up from below. His face is ghostly and spectral. He speaks.
        “And then, the door creaked slowly open. Around the edge of the door peered the gnarled, ugly face of a “Lefty!””
        Shrieks and gasps from the assembled Young Consumers.
        “No! Go away!”
        “I don’t want to hear anymore!”
        “Didn’t Goldbondlocks have a baseball bat? Where’s the bat!?”
        “You’re just trying to scare us!”
        Etc. etc.
        And thus are Young Consumers prepared for making the right choices when they reach political age.
        Stay safe.
        And; “Who’s that behind the door!!??” [And no, it is not a pantomime horse.]

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