Links 11/27/27

Oregon-born gray wolf makes it almost to LA before death strikes Oregonlive (resilc) :-(

Stephen Sondheim, Titan of the American Musical, Is Dead at 91 New York Times

Maj. Ian Fishback, Who Exposed Abuse of Detainees, Dies at 42 New York Times (resilc)

How animal uses of fire help to illuminate human pyrocognition Aeon (Anthony L)

Canada issues weather ‘red alert’ for British Columbia CNN

What I learned eating at 8,000 Chinese restaurants BBC (David L)

J.R.R. Tolkien Denied the Beatles Making a ‘Lord of the Rings’ Movie Insider (furzy)

#COVID-19

Time for a round of applause for GM. Lambert found this tidbit:

Video interview: Eric Topol on the Omicron variant Noahpinion

Specifically, at 3:48, Topol having just depicted Delta as unanticpated, says of Omicron that it was even more unanticipated because it is chock full of mutations.

Having heard years of “Whocoulddanode?” after the global financial crisis, it’s galling to hear that excuse for elite failure trotted out again.

As we quoted GM on November 19, based on an e-mail of November 13 that codified some things he’d been saying in bits and pieces over the preceding weeks:

The most likely future major developments of the pandemic fall into one of these three scenarios:

1. We get a second-generation Delta variant that has a major advantage over all other Delta lineages. This is the most likely one simply because right now 98% of the virus circulating around the world is Delta and Delta was the most fit variant to begin with.

2. We get a second-generation variant from one of the lineages that have still survived the Delta sweep that is capable of competing against Delta. Eyes are on Lambda/C.37 and Mu/B.1.621 and possibly P.1, because those are the only first-generation variants that still circulate in significant numbers in South America

3. Something new appears out of nowhere that is fitter than the rest. This will most likely come from Africa– there is no surveillance in the depths of the continent and there is no knowing what is brewing there.

Science/Medicine

New ‘Omicron’ Variant Stokes Concern but Vaccines May Still Work New York Times (Kevin W). The future’s so bright I’m gonna have to wear shades….

Versus:

What the COVID Omicron Variant Really Means, and What Experts Are Worried About Haaretz (David L)

Classification of Omicron (B.1.1.529): SARS-CoV-2 Variant of Concern WHO (Kevin C)

FDA: Merck COVID pill effective, experts will review safety Associated Press (fk). By some definition of effective, see below. And:

Additionally, the FDA flagged a concern that Merck’s drug led to small changes in the coronavirus’ signature spike protein, which it uses to penetrate human cells. Theoretically, FDA cautioned, those changes could lead to dangerous new variants.

Merck’s Covid pill shows lower efficacy in updated data CNBC. GM: “Now we wait for the Pfizermectin data to be updated…”. Moi: 50% x 70% is 35% correct? And you see that level of placebo response for some SSRIs. From the story:

Merck said on Friday updated data from the study of its experimental COVID-19 pill showed lower efficacy in reducing the risk of hospitalization and deaths than an earlier interim analysis, cutting them by 30% in the study.

The drugmaker released interim data in October showing a roughly 50% reduction in hospitalizations and deaths in 775 patients. The updated rate on Friday is based on data from over 1,400 patients.

Failure to share Covid vaccines ‘coming back to haunt us’, says Gordon Brown Guardian (resilc). Since we are determined to learn nothing, don’t expect any behavior change.

Cuba’s bet on home-grown COVID vaccines is paying off Nature

Not keen about headlines with “frightening” in them. Nevertheless:
A frightening new potential explanation for vaccine-driven myocarditis and other problems Alex Berenson

Asia

Coronavirus: India to resume international flights from December 15, curbs for ‘at risk’ countries Scroll (J-LS). Want to place bets on how long this lasts?

UK/Europe

61 travellers from South Africa in Netherlands positive for COVID-19 -authorities Reuters. Lambert: “61 of around 600, two flights. Story doesn’t say Omicron but one assumes.”

NYT reporter on one of the flights. Note she say 85 positive Covid tests across the two flights:

Genomic surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 in Belgium Report of the National Reference Laboratory. The Belgian case is on page 8. Interesting technical discussion and some charts before that.

Pandemic skyrockets in Europe; COVID is the No. 1 cause of death ars technica (resilc)

US

Alex M runs a testing lab:

CDC Statement on B.1.1.529 (Omicron variant) CDC. Lambert: “‘No cases of this variant have been identified in the U.S. to date.’So I guess that means it’s here…”

Biden says he delayed Africa travel ban over Omicron variant on advice of advisers led by Fauci New York Post (Kevin W). Earlier reports suggests Biden wanted to think about it more, as in not decide till Monday, and then gave in to Fauci’s Monday recommendation.

US to restrict travel from eight African nations over new COVID-19 concerns The Hill

Fauci as Darth Vader of the Covid wars Asia Times (resilc)

‘It’s Coming’: NY Declares State of Emergency Ahead of Potential Omicron Spike NBC New York. No indication of any concrete action.

America’s Pandemic Star Loses Some Luster Atlantic

American manufacturers race to relieve a pandemic-triggered ammo shortage Economist (resilc)

Finance/Economy

The Week That Covid Sucker Punched the World Bloomberg

Stocks slide most in a year on concern over new virus variant Financial Times

Oil Prices Crash As Covid Does What Biden Couldn’t OilPrice

COP26/Climate Change

David Wallace-Wells · Ten Million a Year: Dying to Breathe London Review of Books (Anthony L)

The ‘Torture Orchard’ Is a Testing Ground for the Coming Climate Crisis Gastro Obscura (Chuck L)

Black Friday protests: Jeff Bezos caricature rides rocket as Extinction Rebellion block 15 Amazon depots indy100 (resilc)

Studying New Life in the Shadow of Venezuela’s Last Glacier Atlas Obscura (Chuck L)

China?

‘Data tax’ could be next blow to Chinese tech giants Asia Times (Kevin W)

Solomon Islands incident sends out a salient message South China Morning Post (furzy)

To protect one retired leader, China’s bungling censors turned the Peng Shuai mess into a major incident South China Morning Post (furzy)

Brexit

WATCH French Fishing Boats Attempting to Block Eurotunnel, Calais Port Amid Row With UK Sputnik (Kevin W)

New Cold War

Ukraine PM calls for NATO’s help against Russia Politico

Syraqistan

Jordanians protest against water-for-energy deal with Israel Reuters (resilc)

Imperial Collapse Watch

US Refuses to Engage With Marshall Islands on Damage Caused by Nuclear Weapons Tests Antiwar.com. Kevin W: “The interesting bit is the expiry of the Compact of Free Association in 2023: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compact_of_Free_Association

Biden

Manchin calls on Biden to restore Keystone XL pipeline The Hill (resilc). Not shy about pressing his advantage.

Biden: Fact-checking claims about US economic progress BBC

GOP holds on Biden nominees set back gains for women in top positions The Hill

Antitrust Tech Bills Gain Bipartisan Momentum in Senate Wall Street Journal

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Did Armed Black Radicals Fail? Plough (Dori M)

Supply Chain

Supply-Chain Snarls Leave Southern California Swamped in Empty Shipping Containers Wall Street Journal

Canada releases 50 million pounds from maple syrup stockpile New York Post (J-LS)

CalPERS

Borenstein: CalPERS gambles with taxpayers’ money once again Mercury News (Kevin W)

The Bezzle

A plot of digital land was just sold in the metaverse for $2.43 million — more than most homes in NYC and San Francisco cost Business Insider (Kevin W)

Mr Goxx, the cryptocurrency-trading hamster, dies BBC (resilc)

Zip’s announcement of $653m loss in August ‘shocked many’, as sector lost $1bn overall in 2021 Guardian (Basil Pesto)

2021 Tesla Model Y review: Nearly great, critically flawed CNET (dk). Subhead:
“The Tesla Model Y seems like the complete package, but its active safety suite is so fundamentally flawed that the whole dish is completely ruined.” We’ve said more than once that Tesla is running on quality brand fumes.

Holiday shopping 2021: More Americans won’t be buying holiday gifts this year CNBC (J-LS)

Class Warfare

Robots Won’t Close the Warehouse Worker Gap Anytime Soon Wired (resilc)

The Causal Effect of Heat on Violence: Social Implications of Unmitigated Heat Among the Incarcerated NBER (resilc)

Antidote du jour. Rupert A: “Cat owns public footpath, spotted in Wellington, Aotearoa.”

And a bonus (guurst):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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211 comments

    1. eg

      He (I think it’s a he) is a longtime contributor with a science background who has collected an immense amount of information about Covid.

        1. ex-PFC Chuck

          GM and IM Doc, an internal medicine specialist with several decades of experience, are both serious scientists deeply informed regarding the COVID pandemic. I search for their comments in every Links and Water Cooler post and also in posts specific to the pandemic.

          1. Winston S

            I search for their comments in every Links and Water Cooler post and also in posts specific to the pandemic.

            I second that. Voices of reason, with reason. My friends call me whenever they want advice on where the pandemic is headed and for comment on the latest developments, because they know I read NC and these guys. One drawback (or is it actually a positive) is that it has made me somewhat disillusioned even about my own country’s (Norway, which by most metrics have been doing alright) health authorities.. I’ve lost count of all the Noble Lies, it’s sickening. What is it about these people, that makes them think we are all children? I’d like to use a Norwegian idiom to describe this behavior: It is like peeing in your pants to keep warm.

          2. Rory

            How does one conduct a search for comments by a specific commenter? I would be grateful to know.

            Thanks.

            1. Brooklin Bridge

              On my browser, Mozilla, I can simply press the control key (ctrl) and the “f” key at the same time and a search box appears in the lower left hand corner of the page. Type in the moniker (handle) of the comment author you wish to search for in the box and hit return or left click (tap, whatever) with your pointer over the up or down arrows on the right hand side of the search box to browse all comments by that author or until you find the specific comment you want. On my browser the search is case insensitive. Of course you can also use any text in your search, not just the author’s handle.

              To get the search box if the (ctrl) (f) combination doesn’t work, try the (Edit) menu at the top level of your browser. It may have a “Find…” menu item that will produce the same result described above.

            2. Lambert Strether

              The WordPress front-end does not have the technical ability to search its database and return comments with a specific handle, if that is your question. Otherwise, as above.

            3. Joe Well

              The whole site is indexed in the search engines, so just go to one and type in:

              site:nakedcapitalism.com “name of commenter” (with quotes).

              They also allow you to filter by date.

              Of course, if the commenter has a common name like “Michael” or something, you’re kind of out of luck.

        1. CP

          A few points re the comment: “This will most likely come from Africa– there is no surveillance in the depths of the continent and there is no knowing what is brewing there”

          1. This is totally incorrect. Most African countries – most especially South Africa – have extremely advanced disease surveillance capabilities, and large and very capable professional public health communities. Differently structured, but certainly on par with what is in Europe and Canada/Australia in terms of being able to identify, understand, and respond to emerging epidemiological threats.

          2. On substance, I challenge that it would most likely come from Africa. On COVID, African countries have been consistently ahead of the game compared to Western countries in their response to the pandemic. I have been in Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Uganda during this pandemic, and they all are far more diligent and advanced in terms of masking, social restrictions, and other pandemic prevention measures than the US or Europe, and also at the same time far more sophisticated and consistent in how they balance public health/pandemic prevention with the social/economic costs of lockdowns. On a scientific level, AFRICAN scientists now are even identifying on a regular basis new variants of concern not because they are more prevalent in Africa but because AFRICAN scientists as a matter of course both conduct genomic sequencing on positive COVID cases and do their public health duty and transparently share the results with the world – even though they, as now, get collectively punished for doing so while other countries with the variant don’t.

          3. Still not sure where exactly “The Depths” of Africa is. Why is it only Africa that has “depths?” Is the “depths” of America Ohio? Mississippi? Lower Manhattan? Kalorama? Hollywood? Wherever GM’s “big name institution” is? What an incredibly ignorant and IMO probably racist way to describe the continent.

          For context, I am an American who has lived and worked in several countries in Africa (yes, there are multiple countries in Africa – over 50 totally different ones in fact!) for 20 years. It always astounds me how otherwise educated, well-meaning Americans readily reach for idiotic, prejudicial, and completely factually inaccurate tropes about Africa.

          @Yves: I love Naked Capitalism, but you have a real blindspot when it comes to Africa.You wouldn’t tolerate such demonstrable ignorance about any other topic any other region of the world, but I’ve noticed when it comes to Africa NC is either unable or unwilling to edit out such garbage as that from GM here. This really detracts from this otherwise excellent site.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            I don’t like sounding harsh, but you offer no substantiation for your assertions. Making Shit Up is a violation of our written site Policies. GM has the goods and you have romanticism/partisanship. From GM via e-mail:

            B.S.

            South Africa has detected one infection out of 15-20, for others it is a lot less than that.

            And has sequenced the most on the continent, but that is a total of 23,705 genomes. Out of some 50M infections. So one in 2000. A lot can be missed, and has been — in June B.1.638 came out in Port Elizabeth with two very different versions and a lot of sequence diversity.

            Africa as a whole? 58,522.

            A 60M country such as Tanzania officially has no COVID at all and has submitted zero.

            We found out about A.30 in South Africa.

            Nigeria with 200M population has sequenced 3,267 genomes.

            Etc.

            Having said that, South African scientists, normalized by how much resources they have at their disposal, have actually contributed orders of magnitude more to the understanding of the virus than those working in the US.

            1. CP

              What exactly did I make up? What is BS?Public health and microbiology are different disciplines. I expect that you’ll next post one of those articles that wonders “Why aren’t more people dying in Africa?” It couldn’t be because Africans are actually competent at public health, in absolute terms, and kicking the West’s butt in resource-relative terms, could it? Nice how you/he ignored all my points and just threw some stats about genomic sequences, none of which contradict anything I said. Thank you for proving my point. It’s a shame as Africa has so much to teach the world about so many things but the rest of the world is just incapable of treating it seriously or with agency. Like I said, huge blindspot for this blog. Willful ignorance should also be against your terms of service.

              1. Yves Smith Post author

                “Africa” does not have good results, save West Africa, a distinction you did not make. And you tried an ad hominem on GM, by insinuating he didn’t know what he was talking about.

                And you CONTINUE to make totally unsubstantiated assertions. Some more data, something to which you appear to be allergic, from GM:

                Africa has not escaped COVID disaster.

                West Africa has — going west of Cameroon and north to the Sahara is where we have low mortality and apparently low infections too in some areas (I mentioned the bafflingly low seropositivity in Sierra Leone in a previous message).

                But south of the Equator it is a total disaster.

                The reason it is not visible in the official stats is that nobody is counting and reporting. And we don’t even have excess mortality estimates because those are places where people are born, live and die without any recording that.

                But where we do have data, it is indeed a disaster.

                Keep in mind that these are all countries with media ages below 30, for many it is below 20, and also with very low life expectancy, so you barely have people in their 70s and 80s where most of the deaths are concentrated.

                Still, South Africa has lost 270,000 people, or 0.45% of its population. Not the 89,000 in the official stats. These are the real numbers:

                https://twitter.com/tomtom_m/status/1461038904476327943

                Again, you have to look at excess mortality.

                And it’s even worse regionally — Eastern Cape has lost 0.67% of its population. There are only ~100 US counties that have reached that milestone.

                And they will have another wave.

                That is the only country for which we have records.

                We also have random pieces of data such that in the main hospital in Lusaka in June this year 90% of the dead bodies were testing positive (this is the only estimate they could obtain), which would imply an increase in overall mortality of up to 900%, comparable to the worst waves in Europe and the US:

                https://twitter.com/cockneylaurie/status/1429362387426189316

                Another curious such cases was in the DRC (Congo-Kinshasa) where a few months ago all of a sudden 32 members of their parliament died of COVID, i.e. 5% of the whole.

                https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/01/world/africa/covid-congo-parliament.html

                We knew that because those were politicians, but meanwhile the whole country has, still to this day, recorded a total of 331 deaths. What are the chances that number is accurate if 10% of those happened in the parliament? What kind of undercount factor are we talking about?

                Again, they were not spared at all. With such young populations you do not expect to see a lot of deaths. In fact, in South Africa they have exceeded the numbers expected based on their demographic structure.

                West Africa does persist as mystery though. One can try to advance handwavy hypotheses such as “genetic factors”, but most African-Americans in the US are of West African origin, and they were the hardest hit demographic group there, so that is highly dubious as an explanation.

                1. CP

                  Yves here. I do not normally handle comments this way, but CP left a very long reply and GM’s comments were interspersed. It would be incomprehensible to do this at the end as is routine for shorter comments. So GM’s remarks will be interjected in italics after the relevant bit from CP.

                  I respect your insistence on substantiation. Here you go:

                  1. As to GM’s incorrect and quasi-racist assertion that “there is no surveillance in the depths of the continent and there is no knowing what is brewing there”
                  – In this paper, the authors cite “Effective Government Public Health Response to COVID-19 Threat,” referencing in particular for example the “highly functional national public health institutions with experience in battling infectious disease” in Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Uganda, and Zambia, especially. “Uganda is a leading example of curbing the impact of COVID-19 in the African context. Rapid response and implementation of risk communication, testing, social and physical distancing measures, and contract tracing were critical for the success seen in Uganda.”
                  – Would point out that Sierra Leone is explicitly mentioned – guess maybe their low stats maybe aren’t so “baffling” (GM’s word) after all. https://www.ghspjournal.org/content/9/3/433
                  https://theconversation.com/the-impact-of-covid-19-has-been-lower-in-africa-we-explore-the-reasons-164955

                  GM: Uganda tried, that is correct. Others did too, Senegal did more than most countries in Europe, Rwanda too.

                  What does that have to do with the situation in Africa as a whole? 70%+ seropositivity means everyone got infected. Is that a “success”?

                  2. As to whether African countries *in general* have done a good or bad job, agreed that the virus has killed many more people than the official statistics (exactly how much different is this than in Western countries?).

                  GM: Very different — the undercount factor in Europe is 1-1.2x in the West and 2-4x in Eastern Europe, and 5-10x in former Soviet countries.

                  In Africa in many countries it is 100x. That is a significant difference.

                  The DRC had has reported 1,104 deaths and back in May it was at 600-something. At that time the news came out that 32 members of their parliament had died of COVID. Out of 640 total. So 5%.

                  What is the real number of deaths in the whole 93M population given that fact?

                  I think the evidence presented by GM on excess deaths however is actually evidence that African countries are dealing with the pandemic well in a public health sense (vs a strictly epidemiological sense),

                  GM: That is absurd.

                  There is an expected PFR for each country at full infection of everyone. In South Africa the EMR (excess deaths) is higher than the expected PFR based on their demographic structure.

                  So more people died than expected if everyone got infected. This is because a lot of people caught it twice and because most people died without ever getting to a hospital and the IFR estimates assume some treatment, without which mortality goes up sharply.

                  How is that a success?

                  Meanwhile there is Tanzania, where officially there was no COVID until the president died and was replaced by someone else. That change meant that some cases started being reported once a month…

                  But at least it is acknowledge, under the previous regime doctors in hospitals weren’t even allowed to work under proper safety conditions because that would have meant acknowledging there is COVID there.

                  In Madagascar the president was promoting some hearbal potion he has concocted as a cure:

                  https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-53756752

                  Etc.

                  IF you treat African countries with agency AND broaden the scope of evidence to include all relevant data, namely the health impacts of the pandemic responses as well. Pandemic associated lockdowns / other responses have caused major problems in terms of economic welfare, food security, domestic violence, child health, anti-HIV, anti-TB, anti-malaria, and other disease programs, among other problems. Some sources below to illustrate (lots more out there).
                  https://blogs.worldbank.org/opendata/tracking-socioeconomic-impacts-pandemic-nigeria-results-first-three-rounds-nigeria-covid
                  https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.09.09.20191247v1
                  https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-020-1025-y
                  https://stoptb.org/assets/documents/resources/publications/acsm/Civil%20Society%20Report%20on%20TB%20and%20COVID.pdf
                  https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanhiv/article/PIIS2352-3018(20)30211-3/fulltext
                  https://www.brookings.edu/blog/africa-in-focus/2021/10/12/covid-19s-impact-on-overall-health-care-services-in-africa/

                  These are all acute issues in Africa and in simple terms, you can’t separate out deaths caused by the virus from deaths caused by the responses. Both are deadly, but GM / you are only accounting for the former. (In fact, did you ever consider that the excess deaths might be because of the social impacts of the lockdowns? Is that possibility controlled for in any way?). In that sense, as a knowledgable (and empathetic if not sympathetic observer) most African countries have done a decent to very good job of balancing those two competing priorities – and have done so with a tiny fraction of the resources available to Western countries.

                  3. As for politicians dying, you forgot to mention the two Presidents who died likely of COVID, of Tanzania and Burundi.

                  4. I am sure GM knows what he’s talking about, in his narrow field of study. I am also sure that use of colonial era tropes like “the depths of Africa” indicates both a lack of understanding of what actually goes on in Africa and indifference beyond the deficient PIE (pity-idealize-extract) construct that 99% of Americans use when it comes to the continent.

                  GM: Yes, again, the “depth of Africa”. In a very literal sense. Southwest Cameroon is where the likely origin of B.1.620 lies. B.1.640 came from Congo-Brazzavile, but who knows where exactly.

                  I gave you the numbers of sequences submitted from CAR, DRC, etc. Right in the middle of the continent.

                  Identity politics is a disease of the mind.

  1. eg

    Toronto talk radio was on fire yesterday about the South African variant of concern (according to a breaking news report one of those testing positive in Hong Kong arrived from Canada).

    Thanks to NC I already knew it was out there …

    1. CanCyn

      : “A traveller from South Africa was found to have the variant — B.1.1.529, dubbed Omicron — while the other case was identified in a person who had travelled from Canada and was quarantined in the hotel room opposite his, the Hong Kong government said late Thursday. The traveller from South Africa used a mask with a valve that doesn’t filter exhaled air and may have transmitted the virus to his neighbour when the hotel room door was open, a health department spokesperson said Friday.”
      https://nationalpost.com/news/world/hong-kong-confirms-two-cases-of-new-covid-19-variant-one-travelled-from-canada

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        An effing chin diaper…

        The math on masked people was pretty good, and shockingly, the spread was when people stopped or weren’t masking, restaurants, churches, and I feel like there was a third problem, probably schools but they were closed.

        Then we had outbreaks with family gatherings where the air doesn’t have time to clear out, and people tend to shout even if taking other precautions.

      2. The Rev Kev

        ‘transmitted the virus to his neighbour when the hotel room door was open’

        Really? Yeah, about that. They had the same happen with hotel quarantine here in Oz where they had both doors opposite one another in a hotel hallway open at the same time. And then a few weeks later it happened again. And a few months later it happened yet once again. Seriously, it was like watching Sideshow Bob and the rakes-

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WZLJpMOxS4 (35 secs)

        1. CanCyn

          Sideshow Bob indeed! All I could think was, that surely, after all this time, in Hong Kong of all places, people in quarantine would be given N95 masks. If it weren’t so scary it would be hilarious.

  2. Sailor Bud

    Tolkien and the Beatles: Too bad he couldn’t stop Peter Jackson from making his awful, over-scored*, miscast, tone-broken action films as well.

    *seriously, go through lotr with a dvd controller or put it on a comp and notice that there is music in every single moment of every single scene, even simple dialog. Unbelievable lack of taste, showing the hand of the hack, not the master.

    1. QuicksilverMessenger

      Yes I agree completely. It seems like a movie these days can’t be made without omnipresent semi-assaultive soundtrack, oppressive visuals (xtreme armies fighting!) and general mindlessness (looking at you Dune 2021).
      On the other hand, I am nominating Mr Jackson for sainthood, having just watched part one and two of Beatles ‘Get Back’. Whatever his team did in restoring the film and the sound from Lindsay-Hogg’s original footage is amazing. Should get an Academy Award for that alone. A real contribution to the history of popular music and culture. Well done. I seriously could watch all 50 hours!

      1. Sailor Bud

        Jackson also made some of the greatest model kits in all history, his 1/32 scale Wingnut Wings WWI aircraft. He pulled the plug last year, but the engineering on those kits is absurd. Everything fits like a glove, and it is all high detail. Those kits now already go for a killing on eBay.

        And ya, hyper-assaultive indeed. The actual books are surprisingly free from action, so when it comes, it comes fast and hard and stands in relief. Those stories are as much about characters, culture, lore, and beauty as they are about war or anything else.

        Robert Englis has an audiobook reading of the unabridged LotR that is beautiful, lovely, wonderful, etc. Wonderful English accent, plus all sorts of UK accents for the characters. If anyone is going to do them justice in the future, they deserve a full miniseries, with total devotion to every detail and getting the characters to feel right.

        1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          YUUUUUP.

          Went to go see Ghostbusters: Afterlife and it was wayyyy quiet.

          I’ve never had a problem with too much music. Too little, however….

      1. Sailor Bud

        He’s awful, but you didn’t understand my comment. The hackery in question was the director’s, like so many things he botched in those movies.

        Even if the music were as uniformly high quality as Chopin, or even a competent film composer like John Williams, you don’t load music into every moment of a movie. Even George Lucas knows that. Dialog especially needs breathing room.

        Hilariously, there’s one moment in FotR where there is something like 10 seconds of no music. They’re all standing on a mountain and Boromir is practicing swordplay with Pippin or Merry. It’s so arbitrary. Like, why here? What’s so special that they had to stop it here? It’s everywhere else. Did they just forget to put the musical contact in? Then they go straight to the swordplay and the jaunty, goofy little cheese music comes in, to tell us all to be delighted. Incompetent. Hackery.

        1. Soredemos

          I’ll reiterate, and expand. Neither Shore nor Jackson are hacks (Jackson however does need to be restrained. The Hobbit movies are what happens when no one reels him in. Though even there, there’s a good movie buried in there somewhere, it just took fan editors to let it out).

          1. Sailor Bud

            I was calling him a hack on that issue (and if you really wanted to endure the misery, I could spell it all out). I don’t think Jackson is some complete hack. I don’t even hate everything about those movies. Some of the visualizations are just what Tolkien put in my mind, which is almost more a compliment to Tolkien, but Jackson did it. Can’t argue with my own mental image from 1986 or whenever I first read it.

            As for Shore, I’d have to have a conversation with him to really know. Ask him even simple trick questions about the music system that anyone educated should know (spell Ab locrian, D#7 chord, etc – lots of stuff with double sharps and flats). At the bottom end of it, I only liked his little string reverie from LotR that they use over and over, and over, again, and again, and again… But I won’t call him a hack either, so we’re good. It’s a sinuous thing in music anyway. Lots of great players don’t know what they know.

  3. The Rev Kev

    “Supply-Chain Snarls Leave Southern California Swamped in Empty Shipping Containers”

    How things change. It was only a few months ago that we were reading about a severe shortage of shipping containers. So I guess that all those supply people who were desperate for more of them finally got their wish. Just goes to show you that you should be careful about what you wish for.

    1. lance ringquist

      why not give the poor who were made poor and homeless by nafta billy clintons free trade, a empty shipping container to live in:) its the least the nafta democrats can do.

    2. John Zelnicker

      @The Rev Kev
      November 27, 2021 at 7:51 am
      ——-

      I think the cause of the “shortage” is/was related to the build-up of empty containers.

      They are simply in the wrong places and aren’t available to the shippers in China and other countries, so they just sit there.

      I read an interesting tidbit somewhere that shippers are finding it more profitable to send back empty containers rather than filling them with our (mostly) farm exports. If this is true, it doesn’t seem to be helping get the empties back to where they can be used.

      As others have detailed extensively, the incentives among the various components of the supply chain are all wrong.

  4. jr

    Worried about the future? Fear not, NEOM is here:

    https://neom.com/en-us

    “FUTURE-PROOF URBANIZATION”

    “WELCOME TO OUR LIVING LABORATORY — A PLACE WHERE ENTREPRENEURSHIP WILL CHART THE COURSE FOR THE NEW FUTURE”

    1. ChiGal

      Right out of Boots Riley’s Sorry to Bother You: Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman presents WorryFree.

      In this case you won’t be turned into a horse, but the transportation is cutting edge.

  5. Bricky

    Thank you for the Twitter links! There was a scientist with the handle of “Theodora” who said her lab ran tests on evolving a covid spike protein, and came up with mutations quite similar to Omicron, that resulted in almost complete lack of vaccine protection on the blood serum they were using. With in her words Omicron being even worse than the spike protein they created. She did mention that the only significant antibody protection found was in blood serum that was previously covid infected and then also vaccinated.

    This led so someone else making an interesting retweet, that he expected a third booster shot to be functionally equivalent to infected and then vaccinated, and would thus provide protection. As you said, doubling down on vaccination being the only way forward.

    But isn’t the whole point of boosters that original vaccination protection substantially wears away over a year or less? So to me this suggests that boosters won’t magically solve this problem?

    It’s interesting to speculate which direction the msm and political class take this if Omicron does in fact spread and outcompete delta. My guess is they will double down on vaccination, or if that is not at all feasible in the face of future evidence, maybe they will instead change tack and minimize? “See not many people are dying, it’s nothing like March 2020”?

  6. Dftbs

    I found Dax-Devlon Ross’ thesis in “Did Armed Black Radicals Fail?” interesting but not comprehensive enough. He considers that the

    revolutionary worldview and radical actions [of black radicals] made space for more moderate views and appeals?

    I think he’s certainly barking up the right tree, but his supporting historical examples indicate something missing, as he focuses solely on symbolism and not strategic, political and material change.

    Turner and Veseys slave rebellions didn’t succeed and they brought about more repression. It wasn’t their “example that empowered future generations to resist injustice” Ultimately it was overwhelming violent force of the Union that achieved what Turner and Vesey died for.

    Similarly, Americans did “pay attention” to BLM; but did they do anything about it. Did BLM achieve anything more permanent than painting murals on walls? In the immediate analysis I’m more inclined to interpret the beginning and end of that “movement” as some domestic color revolution. It seemed controlled, and it certainly did not appear as an effective display of spontaneous revolutionary fervor.

    I think armed black radicals did affect American society into granting concessions: civil rights legislation and eventually through co-option and elevation of individuals. But not because white America was afraid of the militants themselves, but rather viewed them as a weapon wielded by a more capable and frightening systematic opponent – one that sat in Moscow.

    Ross is attempting to formulate a narrative of empowerment, and while I think it’s noble for people to have such narratives to draw strength upon. If these narratives are formulated upon false notions they’ll lead to greater defeats. That (em)power(ment) arose from something material not alchemical. This misunderstanding is why radical liberals march millions of people to stop wars for oil, but those wars go on anyway. They think it was the marches that stopped the Vietnam war, not the NVA and VC.

    1. juno mas

      Actually, it was Walter Cronkite who turned the tide. His visible exasperation with the Generals buoyant pronouncements about winning in Vietnam while showing video carnage of the war helped stimulate growing opposition to the US war effort. Those same generals appear to have been in leadership of the Afghanistan effort.

      As for the Black Panthers, they were initially formed to protect local Black communities, not overthrow the government.

      1. Dftbs

        No. Walter Cronkite didn’t end the war in Vietnam. It is liberal mythology and American pathology that takes away the agency of the Vietnamese who fought, killed and died; and places that agency in something as vapid and useless as American public opinion. The Vietnamese won, expelled the imperialists, and unified their nation.

        As to the BPP and other liberation movements. The thesis of the article was that they created the space for racial progress by showing white America the extremes they would face if they didn’t concede some progress. My point is that for better or worse, white America didn’t fear black liberation, they had centuries of experience handling that bogey man. But they did fear that it was a domestic vanguard of international communism. It was this fear of a peer power that forced concessions.

        1. Taurus

          One can also argue that the Chinese won. This view does not invalidate the suffering and the effort of the Vietnamese, btw.

        2. JohnnyGL

          ‘places that agency in something as vapid and useless as American public opinion’

          — i think there’s a certain senator from VT that bet the ranch on that, too. He and his movement convinced Americans that Medicare for All is a great idea. It seems to have had little effect on the actual political situation.

          On the other hand, has a foundation been laid for someone in the future who is serious about contesting power? I do hope so.

          1. Dftbs

            I’d love to be hopeful. But my characterization is one based on its record. The moment at which American public opinion sways (not the debate) the actions of the nation in a way contrary to the interests of the elites and towards the interest of the commonwealth. At that moment I’ll be hopeful.

    2. Lambert Strether

      > rather viewed them as a weapon wielded by a more capable and frightening systematic opponent – one that sat in Moscow.

      Not entirely irrational, given the strong role the CP played in the 30s.

      1. JohnnyGL

        One of the big examples the original scholars of CRT pointed towards in the ‘brown v board’ decision was the use of propaganda by the Soviets. Every time the US tried to claim ‘we’re better on human rights’, the Soviets would swiftly respond, ‘but you still lynch black people’.

        The supreme court decision should be seen in the context.

        Credit to the funky academic for pointing this out.

        1. Dftbs

          I think this is spot on. And that was my contention to the analysis in the article. That it elevates the strategic role of black radicals and wholly neglects what the actual pressures and fears of white American society were.

          This is not to say black radicals, and Latino and Native American contemporaries, weren’t principled, courageous, intelligent and formidable. But ignoring the larger historical and political trends of the time in order to construct a romantic narrative may be detrimental in the long run. That is to say that struggle isn’t over, and to continue fighting it you should have honesty and clarity over the effectiveness and failures of previous tactics.

    3. Lambert Strether

      > I’m more inclined to interpret the beginning and end of that “movement” as some domestic color revolution. It seemed controlled,

      I think the movement became controlled as selected “voices” self-promoted themselves and acquired social capital as “representatives” (people like Deray are the paradigmatic example). The front page of the World Economic Forum was full of “movement” material for awhile. Now they’ve moved on to COP26.

      But Deray wasn’t one of the original marchers in Ferguson. They had been marching for a long, long time before the verdict and subsequent explosion. They didn’t become “voices (unlike Deray, Cullors, Hannah-Jones, etc.).

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        It was a self-organizing and loosely coordinated in the early stages. It was coopted not long after the die-ins, which were getting substantial white participation and press attention.

        1. JohnnyGL

          One underrated factor since the 1960s is how good the US state, and its appendages like the Democratic Party and the NGO world, has gotten at redirecting, distracting, co-opting, corrupting, and monetizing social movements.

          Also related, the highway blockages seemed very effective and got a swift and decisive response at the state level. A lot of state legislatures passed bizarre laws exempting any legal penalties for drivers who hit demonstrators blocking traffic.

          1. dftbs

            Characterizing them as controlled “color revolutions” was the tongue-in-cheek expression of my personal opinion. But it was a criticism of the original piece which characterized these protests as successful. I’ve yet to see any success from them, unless you consider the Biden victory a putative goal of these protests. And if so, then the question of control or spontaneity becomes more clear.

  7. The Rev Kev

    ‘Science/Medicine’

    Been hearing lots of whistling past the graveyard stories like that New York Times story saying that the vaccines may still work. In fact, the narrative with Omicron is that it is still all about vaccinations though the initial reports might indicate that this may not be necessarily so. I really think that the authorities are actually balking about the implications of what is coming. Shutting down flights from the southern half of Africa is a reflex action and makes it look like governments are doing something though I suspect that Omicron has already been spread both far and wide. Maybe they did not want to repeat the mistake of allowing flights from India as Delta spread. In any case, I too add my applause to GM’s hard work.

    Fortunately countries like the US learned their lesson during the first waves. So they ramped up things like mask production, the manufacturing of ventilation devices, learned how to do contact tracing properly, set up fast and accurate reporting mechanism so that doctors could constantly update the CDC with the latest figures so that the government could make timely, accurate decisions, investigated off the shelf medications to test their worth and finally they set up rapid testing facilities throughout the country so that virus samples can be genetically sequenced. Also, Santa Clause is real and he comes in 27 more sleeps.

    1. tegnost

      The faucian bargain (h/t drsteveo I think) of holding back on flight bans til monday is a rinse/repeat of the first wave when insiders like himself knew of a programmable vax that would save the world…oops I mean make egregiously large sums of money, I will speculate that pelosi and her rampaging tribe of insider traders were also champing at the bit for a chance for easy money plus whatever sociopathic side games they’ve been playing…let er rip and claim to have the magic bullet…I’m sure his and hers genius buddies are all in on a new vax to save those who deserve to be saved, themselves first and foremost, as always.

    2. WIHAWN

      Two cases of Omicron confirmed in the UK, both with recent travel links to SA.

      There was a major international rugby game featuring England vs. South Africa here last weekend.

      And the case in Belgium doesn’t stack up as having been acquired via travel given a supposed 11 day lag between travel and symptoms.

      Most likely it is already everywhere and we’re just now seeing it because we’ve started to look.

      1. Expat2uruguay

        Here in Montevideo, there’s a huge soccer game between the top two teams in Brazil. It starts in 1 hour, and over 100,000 Brazilian soccer hooligans are currently in the city to see this game. All day I’ve been listening with great apprehension to planes flying into our Airport, one after another.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Back in March 2020 the Liverpool vs Atletico Madrid game has been linked to 41 Covid deaths.

          Among many things these days, it makes me really angry that so many away fans are permitted to sporting events. I’ve no problem with continuing sport – professional teams can afford strict protocols and bubbles. When infection rates are low, I’ve no particular problem either with lots of local fans attending outdoor sports events. But allowing mass movements of fans from different countries and regions seems to me to be absolute madness.

    3. Lee

      Speaking of Santa Claus coming: we have no data yet that I’m aware of on Omicron’s pathogenicity. What if it doesn’t make people particularly ill and at the same time inoculates us against all more pathogenic forms of Coronavirus. And it’s free! I’m not holding my breath waiting for this to happen and, no, you may not have any of what I’m smoking as I just finished the last of it.

    4. Anthony Stegman

      In the SF Bay Area Dr. Monica Gandhi, a prominent epidemiologist at UCSF was quoted as saying that existing vaccines are highly effective against Omicron and any other variants. How does she know this? Dr. Gandhi says that we really should not be too concerned about the Omicron variant. Time will tell.

      1. Lee

        The covid endgame: Is the pandemic over already? Or are there years to go?
        Washington Post 9/4/21

        ‘“I truly, truly think we are in the endgame,’ said Monica Gandhi, an infectious-disease specialist and professor of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco. ‘The cases will start plummeting in mid- to late September and by mid-October, we will be in a manageable place, where the virus is a concern for health professionals, but not really for the general public’….But Gandhi warns she has been wrong before: In February 2020, she said the United States would not tolerate a disease that killed 100 Americans a day; people would come together to do whatever it took to stop that. That didn’t happen.”

      2. Verifyfirst

        You might want to take a peek at her Twitter feed. She took her young kids (unvaccinated due to age? exposed in school?) to Thanksgiving at her 87 year old dad’s, despite his health conditions, and defiantly proclaimed–“no masks”. There is also that video from last April where she and others are gleefully cutting up masks.

        Her expertise is in HIV, where the mode of transmission is much different. I don’t imagine she would run around cutting up condoms.

    5. Lambert Strether

      > Fortunately countries like the US learned their lesson during the first waves.

      Universal 14-day quarantine for international arrivals by air also helped a lot [hollow laughter].

  8. Samuel Conner

    This year, give gifts that show that you like the recipients enough to want to preserve your option to dine with them (or, perhaps better, their option to dine with you) next Thanksgiving.

    Give N95 respirators.

      1. Mantid

        Gave one to my wife in her Xmas stocking a couple years ago, primarily for smoke from fires. Hers is pink, mine blue (sorry, my colors are old school). Very handy in the modern times.

  9. diptherio

    Can someone explain why they gave two names to this B.1.1.529 variants two names? Omicron and Nu. I’d been thinking for the last couple days that they were different strains.

    1. Louis Fyne

      Nu, prnounced non-Greek phonetically (noo), means something in many languages.

      so presuming that the naming committee skipped nu for the more generic omicron. and of course there was the letter “xi”.

      Why the WHO can’t name variants by English letters, go figure. and of course, naming by location first discovered is verboten now.

      1. Mildred Montana

        As we work our way through the Greek alphabet, I am just thankful we no longer have to worry about epsilon, zeta, eta, theta, iota, and kappa (we hardly knew them, if at all). Whew. Getting closer and closer to omega and then Covid will be done with.

        As to why WHO doesn’t use English letters, that’s easy. Foreign languages, dead languages, arcane and exclusionary language are part of the hierarchy, the priesthood of medicine. Same reason doctors still write their prescriptions in Latin and why you are 𝘔𝘳. Louis Fyne while an ordinary doctor is 𝘋𝘳. Sam Smith.

        1. Greg

          Wait where do doctors write scrips in latin? That’s bonkers

          Also, surgeons are Mr. and very uptight about it.

          1. Mildred Montana

            Ya know, now that I think about it, prescriptions might not be in Latin anymore (last time I got one was eight months ago and I gotta confess I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to it). It’s entirely possible computer printouts have eliminated the old Latinate scrip pad. Apologies for any misinformation.

            However, here in Canada, 𝘢𝘭𝘭 doctors, regardless of specialty, seem to prefer to be addressed as “doctor”. I admit conditions may vary according to locale.

            1. Robert Gray

              > However, here in Canada, 𝘢𝘭𝘭 doctors, regardless of specialty, seem to prefer to be
              > addressed as “doctor”. I admit conditions may vary according to locale.

              The terminology can be confusing. In the US (and maybe Canada, I don’t know) medicine is a graduate program. You need a four-year BS to be accepted and then after four years of med school you are graduated as a doctor of medicine. In the UK (and most of Europe?), medicine is a five-year undergraduate program. Selected 19-year-olds begin the training and at 24 they graduate with the degree of Bachelor of Medicine. Yet, by custom and tradition, they are called ‘doctor’. They then work through the various levels of post- med school experience and the cream of the crop become consultants, who abjure ‘Doctor’ and revert to being called ‘Mister’. Not sure about women consultants nowadays; is it Ms or Mrs or what?

              Most ‘doctors’ in Europe are thus not MD academic doctors in the sense that Americans expect, although they still seem to perform dedicated and admirable service to society.

              1. svay

                I thought it was surgeons in the UK who are usually called Mr.

                “The use of the title dates back to the Middle Ages when surgeons served an apprenticeship, like other tradesmen, while physicians required a university degree in medicine before they could enter practice. On account of their university training physicians were entitled to call themselves “doctor of medicine”.

                Since the mid-19th century, surgeons have also had to obtain a university degree in medicine. As a result, today’s surgeons start out as “Mr” or “Miss” in medical school, become “Dr” on qualifying and revert to “Mr” or “Miss” when they pass surgical exams for the Royal College.”

                And it appears they might swap Mr for Dr as patients often think a Mister isn’t properly trained.

                https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/don-t-call-us-mister-say-surgeons-after-150-years-491504.html

            2. drsteve0

              Well, even if not written in Latin, many hand written scripts might have looked like Latin due to horrible penmanship that any second grade teacher would flunk. At least in the olden days, indecipherable writing was seen as a mark of sophistication and intelligence (to some) rather than what it was, inconsiderate sloppiness. Glad I wasn’t a pharmacist.

              1. wilroncanada

                But I’m sophisticated and intelligent, with an extremely shaky hand. Everything I write, I don’t I print in all upper case. Besides, I’m Canadian, which makes my hand even more shaky. I am proud, however to use the appellate Doctor when addressing my oldest daughter, who has a PhD in psychology. All of those in her group practice are called “Doctor.”

          2. vao

            Everywhere around the world, prescriptions are commonly written in the vernacular language.

            However…

            I have a relative who is a pharmacist. During the Yugoslav civil war, he started seeing members of the local Yugoslav community bringing in prescriptions on forms with letterheads, official stamps, and other information in strange foreign languages, often written in cyrillic.

            He had no difficulty handling them: the prescriptions themselves were written in Latin. The yugoslav physicians knew that the medications, unavailable in their war-torn country, would be purchased by their patients’ relatives emigrated throughout Europe. By writing their prescriptions in Latin, they were ensuring that:
            a) prescriptions could be filled anywhere;
            b) they would make no mistakes when drafting what amounts to precise technical directives, because they had been specifically trained to do it in that language.

            Pharmacists were of course also taught in the specialized, very limited subset of Latin used for prescriptions.

            This was 25-30 years ago. I do not know whether medical curricula still include Latin for prescriptions nowadays.

          3. Janie

            Po (by mouth), prn (as needed), bid (twice a day), tid, qid were still used on a written scrip a few years ago but were translated into English on the label.

    2. Chas

      I prefer Nu because it’s easier to pronounce and remember. And weren’t these variants supposed to be named after Greek letters?

    3. Samuel Conner

      Perhaps “Nu” sounds too much like “Mu”.

      I suppose that “Xi” is spelled, in certain alphabets, too much like “Xi”.

    4. LawnDart

      But the United Nations public health agency avoided Nu and Xi for two reasons, a spokeswoman told The Post.

      “[For] Nu the reasoning was people would get confused thinking it was the new variant, rather than a name,” Dr. Margaret Harris said. “And XI because it’s a common surname and we have agreed [to] naming rules that avoid using place names, people’s names, animal, etc. to avoid stigma.”

      https://nypost.com/2021/11/26/who-skips-two-letters-in-alphabet-in-naming-omicron-variant/

    5. Anonymous 2

      Supposedly they decided people could be confused between the Nu variant and the new variant. So I suppose you could say somebody was thinking ahead for once?

    6. Craig Fisher

      I think English-speakers will get stuck in endless “Who’s on first?” routines if the new variant is called Nu, since it sounds like “new.”

    7. Lambert Strether

      > they gave two names to this B.1.1.529

      The international standard naming convention for variants is Greek letters in sequence. When B.1.1.529 became a story, the press jumped the gun and dubbed it “nu,” because that was the next available letter. When it came time for WHO to pick the official name, they skipped nu and xi, nu because it sounded too much like “new,” xi because it’s a common Chinese family name (not to mention President Xi’s family name, which nobody official seems to mention*).

      NOTE Some dunking on this on the twitter, but come on. Imagine if the naming convention were US Presidents in alpha order. And this one were “the Biden variant.”

  10. Mildred Montana

    >American manufacturers race to relieve a pandemic-triggered ammo shortage Economist

    From the article: “Just two companies, Vista Outdoor and Olin Corp, meet the bulk of America’s demand for ammunition…”

    Vista Outdoor stock up 112% the past year, Olin Corp. 158%. Troubling. Seems like a lot of people are adopting the “lead standard”.

    1. Linda amick

      Well you can look at it like this…perhaps the only reason the US is not doing what Austria, Australia (Northern Territory and more), Netherlands and Germany are doing to citizens is…….guns

    2. lordkoos

      Not sure where those two companies mfg their ammo but I have read that most of the bullets used by American police are made in China.

  11. bob

    ““The Tesla Model Y seems like the complete package, but its active safety suite is so fundamentally flawed that the whole dish is completely ruined.”

    They are still over selling this turd with that headline. Beyond the accceleration, there isn’t much poisitve at all they say about it.

    “The Tesla Model Y seems like the complete package, but its active safety suite is so fundamentally flawed that the whole dish is completely ruined.

    After three months, the driver’s seat is already picking up a distinct blue hue from denim, while the rear seat is absorbing black dye from the seat cover I was using to protect the upholstery from my dog. Even without those issues, the fabric feels rubbery at best, and while all five seats are heated, not a one of them is ventilated.

    This isn’t a performance car, after all. It’s definitely fun to drive, but that comes mostly from the acceleration. The car is reasonably nimble but wallows when pushed in corners and even with the smaller, 19-inch wheels the ride quality isn’t stellar.

    Phantom braking is the most egregious issue I’ve had with our Model Y, but it isn’t the only one. After running the thing through the car wash ahead of filming the review video, I popped the frunk to find a good amount of water had gathered within. Definitely don’t store anything you need to keep dry. Additionally, the recessed design of the tow hitch means the lower diffuser on the rear bumper will get scratched by your safety chains when towing, and the taillights show plenty of fogging, as well. None of these are significant issues, but again, for a $70,000 car…

    Are they soft selling the badness to placate the Tesla Cult? At what point do they admit that their customers are a huge problem? The interior sucks, the exterior can’t keep the exterior on the exterior, the handling is bad and it might kill you when it just slams on the brakes. Does that equal “Nearly great” to anyone else?

    1. The Rev Kev

      Watched the full 8-minute video and can only reflect that all those who really want a Tesla fully deserve one then.

    2. cnchal

      When it slams on the brakes for no reason, it might even kill whoever is behind it. Move fast and things break.

      A new wrinkle when driving is anticipating which car around you has adaptive cruise control, due to the surprise speed changes, and because each brand has different parameters in their algorithm, there is extra nuance. A digital clusterfuck in the guise of technology.

      Beware, when a late model road hawg cuts in front of you, it might just slam the brakes on or coast down rapidly for no reason apparent to you.

      As for damning with faint praise, here is a primer.

      https://off-guardian.org/2019/10/06/watch-udo-ulfkotte-bought-journalists/

      Of course we were bought. We were bought in several ways. In your situation: when you buy a car or something else, you trust consumer tests. Look closer. How well is the car tested? I know of no colleagues, no journalists, who do testing of cars, that aren’t bribed – maybe they do exist.

      They get unlimited access to a car from the big car manufacturers, with free petrol and everything else. I had a work car in my newspaper, if not, I might have exploited this. I had a BMW or Mercedes in the newspaper. But there are, outside the paper, many colleagues who only have this kind of vehicle all year round. They are invited to South Africa, Malaysia, USA, to the grandest travels, when a new car is presented.

      Why? So that they will write positively about the car. But it doesn’t say in these reports «Advertisement from bought journalists».

      But that is the reality. You should also know – since we are on the subjects of tests – who owns which test magazines? Who owns the magazine Eco-test? It is owned by the Social Democrats. More than a hundred magazines belong to the Social Democrats. It isn’t about only one party, but many editorial rooms have political allegiance. Behind them are party political interests.

      1. Lambert Strether

        > A new wrinkle when driving is anticipating which car around you has adaptive cruise control, due to the surprise speed changes, and because each brand has different parameters in their algorithm, there is extra nuance. A digital clusterfuck in the guise of technology.

        I’m sure when the studies on robot car safety were done — they were done, right? — this factor was taken into account.

        Assuming that there is ever a transition to robot cars, the transition period could be more dangerous, not less, due to this factor. (In railroads, imagine how the steam-to-diesel transition would have gone if diesels randomly sped up, randomly braked, randomly ran signals, etc.).

    3. Basil Pesto

      I burst out laughing at the pros and cons column, where first up in the cons column is “phantom braking” as though this were a normal car review con like a tendency to oversteer or a loose gear action. It is plainly obscene that an automobile with ‘phantom braking’ is allowed to go to market.

    4. RickV

      For the record:

      1. From Barron’s 11/30/2021:

      “The strides its Chinese competitors have made could mean Tesla will have to console itself with the Model 3 becoming the bestselling vehicle in Europe. The Model 3 took the top spot for any vehicle, traditional or electric, offered in Europe in September, selling more than 24,000 units. The Renault Clio was No. 2.

      The Tesla Model 3 and Model Y—the second-most popular EV in Europe during September—outsold the next four EVs combined. The other four included models from Volkswagen, Renault, Skoda, and Kia.”

      2. I have a Model 3 without full Autopilot. Initially, we did have some problem with phantom braking when entering our garage, which has windows and sharp shadows in the evening. When I turned off all the auto safety features and chose not to receive early updates of auto pilot software the phantom braking stopped. So yes there is a problem, but it is with the Autopilot feature, not the car itself. Save yourself $10,000 and skip the feature unless you want to be involved in early testing.

  12. saywhat?

    re A frightening new potential explanation for vaccine-driven myocarditis and other problems :

    I’ve been speculating for a while that declining antibody titers were a feature, not a bug, of the immune system and thus that attempts to keep them boosted might have serious negative consequences. And lo and behold this article presents a plausible mechanism wrt vaccines against the “spike.”

    This was also interesting:

    A large Israeli study found spike protein antibody levels about four times as high in vaccinated as infected people. At the same time, vaccine-generated antibodies wane far more quickly, dropping up to 40 percent a month compared to 5 percent a month for naturally generated antibodies. [bold added]

  13. Carolinian

    Haaretz

    In contrast, Cohen explains, “in an immunocompromised person, the vaccination process is slower and can stretch over a month or a month and a half.” He said, “The long period of time that the virus has to act in an immunocompromised person enables it to ‘find solutions’ to the immune system’s activity. It gives it time for a longer evolutionary process to occur, in which it develops mutations in critical areas,” Cohen explains.

    So wasn’t this one of the original cautions about the vaccine–that it would allow the normally short lived virus to linger and mutate? Whereas the the unvaxxed immunocompromised person would presumably expire if unhealthy enough.

    Just asking….

    1. Fiery Hunt

      Definitely had the same thought…Been expecting a vaccine evading mutation every since mask mandates were loosened..

  14. Lee

    Regarding issue of the pan-Coronavirus vaccine raised in the Noah Smith interview with Eric Topol:

    It would great to hear from those here with knowledge of such things as to the possibility of developing such a vaccine. I’m assuming it presents more complex challenges than were addressed by the current vaccines in terms of having to identify considerably more viral structures and functions to target and because such efforts are addressing an emerging phenomenon about which there is much yet to learn.

    1. Greg

      They’re talking about a sterilising vaccine for a coronavirus, which has never been done before and I don’t think we even have the basis of starting on.
      The existing vaccines are all extensions of existing tech, that would be an entirely new discovery.

      1. Lambert Strether

        > The existing vaccines are all extensions of existing tech, that would be an entirely new discovery.

        Topol complains the universal vaccines didn’t get funding. I don’t know whether that shows the idea is bad or not — probably the reverse, since the public health establishment has form. In any case, it seems like a good risk to take. Why not throw some money at it?

  15. Ghost in the Machine

    A frightening new potential explanation for vaccine-driven myocarditis and other problems Alex Berenson

    “But with non-Covid all-cause mortality rising in many countries where the mRNA vaccines were used heavily, it might be time to find out.”

    Is this true? We have this data? It seems hard to separate collateral effects of the pandemic on society from the effect of mRNA vaccines. Many but not all of the countries with heavy use of mRNA vaccines. It would be very bad if the theory is true. In any case, the vaccine manufacturers should switch to another surface protein.

    1. saywhat?

      In any case, the vaccine manufacturers should switch to another surface protein. Ghost in the Machine

      I agree. Choosing the “spike” as an antigen appears to be brilliantly wrong.

    2. Underwater Ray Ramano

      >In any case, the vaccine manufacturers should switch to another surface protein.
      “No,” say vaccine manufacturers.

      Mods pruning my comments can eat my whole ass.

      1. tegnost

        apparently you did not see the notification of a comment holiday from a couple of days ago
        As always with the mod queue, patience is required.

      2. Steve H.

        I’d say r/eatmywholeass is That way, but I’m not sure you could hear it through the encephalatory Klein bottle you dwell in.

      3. Yves Smith Post author

        We did not “prune” your comment. We don’t do that. We either approve or not.

        But you won’t need to worry about moderation. You’ve been banned. If you somehow manage to jailbreak, we will rip the comment out. That’s part of our Policies which you clearly did not bother to read.

      4. Lambert Strether

        > can eat my whole a*s

        Thank you for your kind offer, but the NC comments section is not the place to act out your personal fetishes. I hope you find the happiness you seek. Elsewhere.

    3. ProudWappie

      In The Netherlands there has been an unexplained increase in all-cause mortality for at least a number of months. I find it very telling that the MSM doesn’t give that any attention, just like anything which has to do with side effects/adverse reactions to the vaccine. That for me, is the primary reason to stay clear of the current vaccines, if we cannot have an honest and open discussion about adverse effects, then I’m not going to take a chance. I would be less hesitant if there were classic vaccines available, but they’re hardly available; it’s all about Pfizer and Moderna.

      1. Basil Pesto

        In The Netherlands there has been an unexplained increase in all-cause mortality for at least a number of months. I find it very telling that the MSM doesn’t give that any attention, just like anything which has to do with side effects/adverse reactions to the vaccine.

        Um, have you considered the possibility that the cause might be the quite dangerous novel pathogen sweeping the globe at the moment?

        Media would of course want to keep that silent too, because it would mean said vaccines aren’t working as advertised.

  16. Tom Stone

    Millions of new gun owners, all buying 100 rounds or so adds up.
    Happily, a lot more women and minorities are buying guns.

    1. Lee

      Given where and among whom we live, Annie Oakley and Killer Mike have indeed made valid points on this issue.

    1. Basil Pesto

      The notion that Robert Malone is the “inventor” of mRNA vaccination (which are not the only vaccine technology, it must be added) has been discussed in comments occasionally this year and can be said to be, at best, an oversimplification. lector emptor I guess.

  17. Lee

    “A plot of digital land was just sold in the metaverse for $2.43 million — more than most homes in NYC and San Francisco cost Business Insider (Kevin W)”

    Back here in the material world, I recently found that the modest 4 bedroom ranch style house I lived in as a kid in the less affluent part of Saratoga, CA. is currently valued at $2.5 million. My homeowning parents were at that time working as a waitress and a cook.

  18. rivegauche

    Compelling post yesterday by Yves re the Omicron variant (parts of it were way over my head, I admit).

    I just checked pronunciation for Nu.and Omicron. Both Merriam-Webster and the Cambridge dictionary have Nu pronounced as “new” and “nyoo”. Omicron is “oh my crahn” for the UK and “ahm a crahn” for the US. I had no clue and was only looking for confirmation of the other pronunciation of Nu that was in yesterday’s Comments.

    1. IM Doc

      I think that the pronunciation of nu has been coopted by frats and other scientists as “new”.

      In real koine Greek it most definitely not.

      And honestly, modern Greek may be completely different.

      Many other examples in Ancient Greek words that have made their way to modern English.

      For example our word hubris. In today’s English it is pronounced Hugh-bris.

      In Greek it is pronounced High-bris.

      It is no big deal except for those of us who have spent real time doing Koine Greek under the ministrations of a Jesuit with an attitude.

      1. saywhat?

        under the ministrations of a Jesuit with an attitude. IM Doc

        No wonder that since the RCC still hasn’t groked that the 1st putative Pope, Peter, was married.

      2. rivegauche

        Thanks, IM Doc. Interesting details. (And I had Jesuit priests in high school for some classes. They get the credit for sparking a life-long curiosity to dig deeper.)

      3. Clark

        FWIW, the Cambridge Dictionary has the pronunciation (audio) in both the UK and US as close to “nyoo.”

        [Apologies — I don’t post much and couldn’t figure out how to add a link that wasn’t embedded in the comment.]

      4. ddt

        Hi Doc,

        In modern Greek (bilingual grk/american over here) Nu is pronounced Ni. Just like the Monty Python knights of Ni. The word hubris is pronounced Eevris like the two e’s in the word “keep.” Ypsilon, the letter u in grk is another e sounding letter.

        1. IM Doc

          I am certain that the Greek I know – classical koine Greek – the Greek of the Bible and all the ancient texts would probably sound even more dissonant to modern Greek ears as Beowulf would sound to English speakers today. Probably even more so – that is another several centuries back.

    2. NotThePilot

      I wouldn’t worry too much about it if you don’t want to be pedantic, but the difference comes from whether you’re speaking Modern Greek or Classical Greek, which modern scientists base their Greek-ish terms on.

      The ‘u’ in nu is actually an upsilon, which just became another ‘ee’ sound sometime in the Middle Ages. In Classical Greek, it’s actually like a German umlaut ‘u’.

      Like one comment mentioned yesterday, a lot of the Greek alphabet is that way, but it’s actually even weirder because not all the ancient pronunciations are what you expect either (e.g. phi is just an ‘f’ sound nowadays, but it was probably an aspirated ‘p’ in Classical dialects)

      1. ddt

        Responded to Doc not having seen yours but your response much more eloquent and methinks you should be the pilot. ;)

  19. Susan the other

    The link to the Aeon essay on Pyrocognition was really good. Interesting to learn that some raptors pick up burning sticks and spread them in what looks to be an attempt to help wildfire spread. And other stuff. Thanks.

      1. farragut

        Son of a Army Colonel here, so I’m all-too-familiar with the base lifestyle (ie, Quarry Heights in Panama, Yongsan in Korea, Ft Bragg, Ft Sill, Ft Campbell, Ft Monroe, etc.).

        I guess my, uh, ‘aghastitude’ ? was the “Come for the torture & human debasement, stay for the home-town feel!” of the tweet.

    1. petal

      Friend’s husband was stationed there for a while. They moved their belongings and 3 little school-aged kids there, just like moving house to and living in any town in the US. Just that it was Guantanamo Bay, in Cuba…

    2. Huey Long

      Did many a port call there during my USCG days and yes it really is just like a small town in America which is why I hated it as a port call.

      No exotic women, no exotic booze, just Budweiser and maybe A (as in one) navy chick at the bar.

      1. Anthony Stegman

        I recall my navy days visiting Yokosuka in Japan. The sailors there were so desperate for female companionship (the local Japanese women largely ignored American sailors) that caucasian women at the base could earn a tidy extra bonus selling their female charms.

  20. Rod

    More collateral damage:
    https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/23/us/ian-fishback-dead.html

    One day in 2005, Marc Garlasco, a former Pentagon analyst and then a senior military adviser for Human Rights Watch, was clearing off his desk when his phone rang. The person on the other end said, “Hello sir, I am a U.S. Army officer, and I am concerned there has been torture of detainees in my unit,” Mr. Garlasco recalled. He added, “Needless to say, that piqued the interest.”

    Ian Fishback revealed abuse of detainees during the Iraq war, but struggled after leaving the service. He died awaiting a bed at the V.A.

    when the Army failed its own credo during the war in Iraq, he persisted in making the truth known.

    During a panel discussion in 2015, Major Fishback spoke about the notion of moral injury in war and the toll “that comes when you’re in a situation where you have to watch your back, so to speak, with the people you’re supposed to be able to trust and try to navigate that over time”

    “Trying to maintain your own virtue, if you will, in the face of a really bad situation is very challenging,” he said

    In July 2019, Major Fishback informed Mr. Garlasco in an email that the C.I.A. was after him, he recalled.

    Joseph Heller — ‘Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.’

  21. curlydan

    I did a little shopping yesterday running errands. Dick’s Sporting Goods was very un-crowded. Bored sales people manning funny, empty-snaking lines. I was asking how much 25 lb Olympic weights were for one of my kids. $65 apiece. No can do at that price. I left empty handed. Later went to Costco–same story, small crowds and no different than a normal day. Either people are shopping less, or as I think, shopping more online.

    All one kid wants for Christmas is an X-Box Series X–but they’re incredibly hard to find due to chip shortages or maybe stuck on a ship off Long Beach.

    1. Late Introvert

      Same experience here but at a 2nd hand shop. Even the cheapest 5 and 10 lb. weights were $35. I also left empty handed. Since then I’ve been looking at isometrics (blast from the past) and setting up a floor mat in the basement. Gonna be a long winter.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Weights are shockingly expensive. I bought some for my JCC (the intermediate sizes, like 17.5 lbs and 22.5 lbs). This was pre-Covid. They said prices of all exercise equipment had gone through the roof….due to PE consolidation.

    1. jim truti

      Actually that is a very interesting article but the author failed to connect what Putin said and his favorite author Ivan Ilyn.
      From the article:
      “…But when asked in Valdai what his main intellectual influences were, the first name Putin mentioned was the 20th-century Russian philosopher Ivan Ilyin. “I have his book lying on my shelf, and I pick it up and read it from time to time,” he said…”
      From wikipedia:
      “…For Ilyin any talk about a Ukraine separate from Russia made one a mortal enemy of Russia. He disputed that an individual could choose their nationality any more than cells can decide whether they are part of a body…”

      I fully expect Putin to take over Ukraine some time in the near future.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Why would he? The place has been turned into a basket case by their billionaires, errr, oligarchs and the place has been de-industrialized since the 2014 take over. The west helped break it so it is Pottery Barn rules at play here.

  22. Jen

    Choice nugget from the Ars Technica piece on skyrocketing cases in Europe:

    In a press briefing Wednesday, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus echoed the point [of needing a vaccine + approach], arguing that the entire world needs to remain vigilant.

    “In many countries and communities, we’re concerned about the false sense of security that vaccines have ended the pandemic and that people who are vaccinated do not need to take any other precautions,” Dr. Tedros said. “Vaccines save lives, but they do not fully prevent transmission.” Fully vaccinated people can still get breakthrough infections and spread the virus onward. And with continued transmission comes the continued risk that new variants will emerge.

    So we’re permitted to say that bit out loud now? One wonders where “people” would have gotten the idea that vaccines fully prevent transmission.

    1. ProudWappie

      That’s a correct observation. In The Netherlands, we have a QR code (“vaccine passport”), which means the following:
      – Unvaccinated people should get themselves tested, before going to a restaurant, museum of theater.
      – Vaccinated people get a green check mark by default. Even if they happen to have a positive test result.

      You can guess what you end up with, vaccinated people can go anywhere, and think themselves invincible, however they have been causing most of the recent spread of C-19. On top of that, adolescents (the QR code is from age 13 and up) and young adults have been busy with Covid parties. They don’t want the jab, and if you’ve had C-19, and have fought it successfully, you get a green checkmark as well.

    2. Basil Pesto

      good of him to articulate that for us, 11 months after this was apparent from the initial vaccine data. That’s the kind of alacrity you like to see from *checks notes* *mutters “oh ffs” sotto voce” The World Health Organisation.

  23. Wukchumni

    A quinquagenarian’s last week…

    Turning 60 isn’t for pussies, but it has its moments.

    One thing is if you pass away a sexagenarian, nobody really says “oh, so young” as they would about somebody that dies in their late 50’s-like say David Graeber. So I got that going for me, which is nice.

    A spectacular final foray in my fifties garnered me less than filthy as we hit 7 hot springs in what i’d call the Jackpot, but I understand that nomenclature is already taken so i’ll settle for a mere bonanza of bathing in a warm embrace.

    In order, we went to Gold Strike hot springs, Boy Scout hot springs, Arizona hot springs, Tecopa hot springs, Saline hot springs, Miracle hot springs & last but not least Remington hot springs.

    The Thanksgiving potluck @ Saline hot springs was divine and not a penny was exchanged among pilgrims for there was no cashier among the few hundred so assembled for the feast, money having no sway.

    For me the highlight was the day of the 3 Condors among the many petroglyphs on a panel near Steele Pass we walked an hour to see that had been commissioned perhaps a few thousand years ago…

    What are we going to leave behind that somebody will ogle after in 4021?

    https://parkerlab.bio.uci.edu/pictures/photography%20pictures/2018_02_24_Saline_Eureka_SELECT/BIG/tn_5D4_4490_tweak2.jpg

    1. ambrit

      In 2000 years any survivors of the Terran human species will probably be mining our landfills for the metals and “raw” earths.

    2. The Rev Kev

      By that time our civilization will be readily identified by future archaeologist – by a layer of plastic microfragments. It will be like our own personal K-T boundary layer.

  24. Terry Flynn

    One omicron patient is here in Nottingham.
    I work in oncology in one of the hospitals here.
    The south park joke of “chin diapers” is distressingly relevant.

    It’s unfortunate I’ve always used my real name here so I can’t just change username and doing so now would be a red flag to certain people anyway.

    1. ambrit

      Perhaps the site admins would let you get away with running a ‘sock puppet’ for security reasons. Keep the old ‘handle’ going, just to confuse the watchers.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Yes, it seems reasonable under the circumstances. Its at admin’s discretion of course but it would be a great shame to lose valued members of the community here because of the danger of being identified.

        1. Terry Flynn

          Thanks. I got a constructive email from a certain site member. So as to be sure it wasn’t some email spoofing I sent reply direct using contact details on NC website.

          I do understand that “skynet” can cause issues beyond the control of NC. Hopefully my reply will go through.

            1. Terry Flynn

              Thx PK. Me too. The annoyance is that all of the problems have little or nothing to do with me or NC. When I moved back to UK and set up my company I spent hours “cleaning” our IP from “bad lists” due to family members not previously being security conscious….. And even then it is possible we remain “at risk” due to being part of a block of IP addresses owned by our ISP containing “troublemakers”.

              These are issues beyond my control and beyond the control of NC. “skynet” just implements automated rules. I’d like to continue contributing…. I have an email address NC can find to “verify me” which is set up to defy bots and humans who have simple ways to reconstruct email addresses but I can’t demand special treatment.

  25. Wukchumni

    What I learned eating at 8,000 Chinese restaurants BBC
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    I’ve eaten @ Chinese restaurants in perhaps 35 countries and it varies a great deal, often reflecting the local food possibilities.

    My favorite was one in Vienna with the most amazing artwork on the walls and had been there a century it seemed. The food was among the best ever to pass my lips and watching Chinese waiters scurrying about barking out orders to the kitchen in German only added to the appeal.

    The nearer to Asia you ate, the more possibilities of the exotic appeared-not that I was all that daring of a diner.

    1. Jen

      One of the better Chinese restaurants in my area is situated in a gas station convenience store. Definitely some adventurous choices on the menu.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Maybe what this story is proof of is that after having a feed of Chinese food, that after an hour you want one more.

    3. PlutoniumKun

      The good thing about Chinese food is that its often best outside China – for decades the best chefs had to move out of the country, and frequently there was fruitful mixing with other cultures. The Chinese food in Flushing, NY is amazing – mostly I think because you have so much local competition from other related cuisines. On my travels in China I was often quite disappointed with local food, although that could be as much due to me not choosing good places, or local chefs deciding that a foreigner couldn’t handle the real stuff (this is also an issue in my local restaurants, In the past I’ve had to have Chinese friends on the phone order for me to make sure they don’t give me the ‘Irish’ version of Chinese dishes).

      I have to say though that I think Vietnamese and Thai ‘everyday’ food beats Chinese food hands down. Most probably because in the former country at least, serving up poor food can get the chef stabbed. Its a great way to enforce high standards.

    1. Raymond Sim

      Looking at it again this morning, to my eye it appears that compared with other cities it’s our S levels that have diverged (downward, while N levels continue an upward trend). Interestingly it appears our levels of the marker they use for Delta are tracking with our S levels.

      UC Davis have their own wastewater system. They’re looking a bit more like us than any other place, but we’re the obvious outlier.

      I should point out that I don’t know enough about the details of either the wastewater testing or the particulars of Omicron’s S-gene dropout to say whether this apparent phenomenon in Davis wastewater is something that would happen were Omicron present. And our wastewater levels bounce around a lot, so short-term trends have to be regarded as very emphatically short-term.

      That the Delta marker levels are also diverging downward, tracking pretty neatly with the S levels is definitely intriguing.

  26. Hepativore

    This is to Yves and Lambert and whomever else might be reading this post…

    One thing that I am surprised that we do not have considering the relatively close atmosphere of our commentariat and readers is a topic tag for cooking and recipes shared by us here to the rest of the Naked Capitalism community. That is one thing that I miss in my exodus from Balloon Juice in 2015. They have a blog writer there called TaMara who shares recipe posts weekly and many of them are quite good.

    TaMara is probably one of the few reasonable bloggers left there as she herself is rather apolitical and only talks about cooking and food.

    Is that something that you guys have ever considered putting on Naked Capitalism?

    1. Martin Oline

      Considering we may be in for another round of quarantine/isolation that may be a good idea, even if most computer literate people can only use a microwave. Cooking is a good hobby. I tell people I don’t like to cook so much, I like to eat.

    2. Steve H.

      > called TaMara

      Tamarind paste! Thanks for ringing that bell, I was trying to remember the name recently. Makes tofu savory.

    3. jr

      Here’s a recipe: Thanksgiving Soup

      Strip the bird, or ham, and clean off the bones as best you can. With the bird bones, you can take an old knife and puncture the ends of the bones with the knife’s tip so the water can get inside. Then fill a medium soup pot with water and gently steep the bones for a few hours, like 3 quarts of water per carcass. Add a bay leaf. Don’t boil it or the fat will atomize.

      Let the stock cool then in the fridge until it gels. Scrape off the grease on top and back into the pot. Add the meat you’e chopped against the grain, mash potatoes, gravy, some green veges or corn and simmer for about an hour and a half. It’s best to let it cool then fridge overnight.

      Next day, take the remaining stuffing, gently form it into little cakes, butter them and toast in the oven until crisp. Then add one to each bowl of the soup. Enjoy!

    4. Lambert Strether

      > They have a blog writer there called TaMara who shares recipe posts weekly and many of them are quite good.

      We would need to connect this to the theme of the blog (“Fearless commentary on finance, economics, politics and power”) although others surely have done this.

      I think one barrier is that how much mental bandwidth we all give to cooking. I hardly cook at all, though I enjoy food (and have strong views on it… naturally). Such a topic area would be hard to boot up.

      1. Hepativore

        You could have it in a sub-section like you do with the daily antidotes…daily comfort food, perhaps?

      2. Raymond Sim

        Such a topic area would be hard to boot up.

        Could you start with “Stupid S+++ NYT Says About
        Food”? You might be able to run it forever after just using hoists from comments.

  27. Young

    I am hoping that Dr. Fauci goes on “Meet The Press” to explain the “science” behind the decision to delay the travel ban for three days to protect us from Omicron.

    1. Samuel Conner

      Perhaps they want to be able to study the new variant from samples found in US, rather than relying on the skills of scientists in other countries. Sort of like with the test kits in early 2020.

    2. The Rev Kev

      It could be that he needed time to wind up his positions with airline and hotel shares before people got word of what was happening.

    3. Maria

      He wants it here so they can do another lockdown, impose internal passport, and sell more drugs to the taxpayers.

  28. Michael Ismoe

    Can someone tell me how the “Next Generation” of the Democratic Party has somehow turned into an internecine battle between Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg? That’s like offering us a choice between Vanilla and Vanilla Bean.

    If those two are the future you might want to start learning Mandarin.

    1. Hepativore

      Or just start preparing for a ruling Republican permanent uniparty as the Democratic party self-destructs to the point of being little more than a glorified private lodge club for wealthy coastal bluebloods with a shrinking membership.

      1. ivoteno

        the people already considered divided and conquered have started to break ranks.

        they are coming to the realization that what they have been doing over and over has not worked out,
        for them or their peers. supporters of both parties. the time has never been more ripe for a viable third party (at least in my lifetime).

        sadly, we will probably end up with a tyrant operating under the auspices of one of the two “acceptable” parties.

  29. rowlf

    What does one have to do to falsely test positive on a proctored antigen covid test? I am asking for a friend who doesn’t want to have to fly soon to the Netherlands. Thanks.

  30. Lee

    University of Minnesota is seeking participants for a clinical trial.

    COVID-OUT: Outpatient Treatment for SARS-CoV-2 Infection, a Factorial Randomized Trial

    “Why is this study being done?

    To understand if these medications prevent severe Covid and long-Covid symptoms.

    COVID-19 increases inflammation in the body, which causes harm.

    The medications Metformin, Ivermectin, and Fluvoxamine are known to decrease inflammatory proteins (cytokines) in the body. They also appear to possibly stop the proteins inside cells that help viruses reproduce and spread.

    Reviews of persons who developed COVID-19 while taking metformin suggest they were less likely to be hospitalized or die from the infection. Smaller, prospective studies showed patients given fluvoxamine or ivermectin were similarly less likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19.

    If we give metformin, ivermectin, fluvoxamine, or a combination of these medications to individuals soon after they develop COVID-19, will it decrease the severity of their symptoms? Will it prevent them from needing hospitalization? This study hopes to answer these questions.”

    1. rowlf

      Pretty sure that was the story I saw on over-the-air TV from Atlanta Channel 46 the other day. Still blows me away to see the story on TV in these news muffled times.

    2. ambrit

      Yay! Now we have to keep an eye on how this trial is actually run.
      Follow the Science. As the judge admonished the barister, “Don’t lead the witness!”

      1. Basil Pesto

        Now we have to keep an eye on how this trial is actually run.

        I think this is a reasonable prima facie point but I also think it’s important, for those of us who think Ivermectin could have some possible benefit, to articulate these concerns before the trial results are released so as to avoid accusations of shifting the goal posts/No True Scotsman.

        As I understand it, the concerns centre around appropriate dosage, and also at what point, during infection, the patient is given the drug (and, separately, a trial is needed to address the prophylaxis question)

        It’s worth noting this isn’t a new development, I’ve been aware of COVID OUT for months now (first heard about it here, I’m sure). I wonder when we can hope to see some results.

      1. Raymond Sim

        Has the CVS takeover of Long’s ever been on your radar? I think of it as our local exemplar of the sort of extreme crapification you’ve so often documented.

    1. Raymond Sim

      I wouldn’t be suprised to see this at Rite Aid stores too. Our local pharmacy department appears to be on the brink of collapse.

      CVS though has much the worse reputation of the two.

  31. LawnDart

    Usual suspects are already pooh-poohing Omicron as no big deal, that it is actually more mild than other variants [I won’t cite and draw more attention to the denialists].

    Link that follows this comment IS NOT the denialist article(s) I referrence above. And while I feel that it does offer some valuable insight to the Omicron situation on the ground as of today in South Africa, I also believe that this article I link to is unjustifiably slanted to support a belief that vaccines provide some protection against Omicron (the numbers they provide in the article don’t seem to add up to support their case).

    Some quotes (not original context):

    In the space of two weeks, the omicron variant has sent South Africa from a period of low transmission to rapid growth of new confirmed cases.

    What looked like a cluster infection among some university students in Pretoria ballooned into hundreds of new cases and then thousands…

    We’re seeing a marked change in the demographic profile of patients with COVID-19… …Young people, in their 20s to just over their late 30s, are coming in with moderate to severe disease, some needing intensive care.

    Stats given:

    About 65% [of cases] are not vaccinated and most of the rest are only half-vaccinated…

    Currently, only about 40% of adult South Africans are vaccinated, and the number is much lower among those in the 20 to 40-year-old age group.

    Now WTF?

    A key factor is vaccination. The new variant appears to be spreading most quickly among those who are unvaccinated. 

    65% + >40% = ?

    And the article ends with a recommendation to get vaccinated….

    I was once taught that the most effective propaganda is mostly truthful, and I believe that this article fits that bill:

    https://www.sfgate.com/news/article/New-COVID-variant-threat-causes-worldwide-scramble-16654812.php

      1. LawnDart

        The sfgate article.

        What I see:

        “Much” less/lower than 40% of ages 20-40 is vaccinated (so say 30%? We don’t know– no number provided). And just who’s presenting at the ER? No numbers.

        65% of cases are not the vaccinated, leaving 35% cases at least partially vaccinated. But with only 40% of the population vaccinated (fully?), what or where is evidence that the vaccines/shots/jabs have any effect? (And what margins of error in these numbers?) It seems to me that the article does not provide enough data or evidence to support its conclusion that vaccinations (with today’s vaccines) provide benefit or protection against the SA/Omicron surge.

        Having read the article, do you see otherwise?

        1. svay

          No, and it looks like a pretty unconvincing argument for vaccination – the opposite if anything (65% of young adult cases unvaccinated, much more than 60% of young adults unvaccinated).
          I still don’t see why you want to add 65% and (>) 40%, or where the > comes from.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      This is fake news. From GM:

      Hospitalizations in Gauteng Province are up, and they are up by a proportion of the cases from last week (accounting for the week-long delay between cases and hospitalizations) that might even be larger than the hospitalization ratio seen previously.

      And most of the current cases are young people, so it would get a lot worse once it has spread to the older cohorts too.

      ctual data:

      https://pbs.twimg.com/media/FFOEWyJWYAowtoV?format=jpg&name=large

      Last week is missing — currently they are slightly below 800, but they will pass that tomorrow. So we have a 5-6 times increase in hospitalizations in 3 weeks.

      More importantly, nothing in the sequences suggests it is milder, exactly the opposite.

      This is just the usual tactic of getting ahead of the situation and making sure that the first thing that people hear is what you want them to hear, because they don’t pay attention after that and are stuck with that impression. It was masterfully done early on with “it is just like flu”, “only old people die”, “you will be immune for life”, etc. lies, and has been applied again and again later on.

  32. The Rev Kev

    ‘Israel introduces world’s strictest bans to contain Omicron strain’

    ‘Israel has banned all foreigners from entering the country and tasked intelligence services with locating and tracking all recent arrivals from the hotspots of the newly emerged Omicron coronavirus variant.’

    Hmmm. Now what do they know that we don’t?

    https://www.rt.com/news/541533-israel-omicron-ban-tracing/

    1. svay

      ‘“We feared a mutation in the amino acid in location 498 in combination with the known 501 mutation from the British variant. We saw how this combination was problematic and binds the virus to the receptor site much more strongly. When you add the mutations at locations 477 and 484 to this, too – it is even worse.”

      The scientists identified the changes at these locations as critical, and a rapid spread of the new variant supports this. “After this research, we continued to track [variants] to see if such a combination appeared – and it did appear in variant B.1.1.529 [omicron],” [Prof. Gideon Schreiber of the department of biomolecular sciences at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot] added.’

      https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/what-the-new-covid-variant-means-and-what-experts-are-worried-about-1.10418794

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