2:00PM Water Cooler 12/14/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I am finishing up an assault on Amazon, over their deathtrap of a warehouse in Edwardsville, IL. So embarrassingly this is an open thread. Talk amongst yourselves! –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Another migratory bird (with accompaniment).

* * *


On the word “mild.” To me, “mild” means “status quo,” i.e. “We’re enduring the present situation, and what is to come will be no worse.” Well, the present situation, whether you look at cases, deaths, or hospitalizations — isn’t mild at all. In a civilized country, 812,205 deaths — we lost 750,000, a similarly large number, in the Civil War — would be regarded as a catastrophe. Yet we soldier on. It’s weird. I don’t understand the mass psychology at all.

Lambert here: From Yves’ cross-post Friday, it looks like CDC’s vaccination numbers are off, whether accidentally or on purpose we do not yet know. However, given that “Everything is like CalPERS,” one would certainly give consideration to the latter thesis. The question is how far the rot goes. It would be remarkable if CDC, so bungling in other respects, were able to game all all of its data (particularly since data collection and processing are so fragmented, and also because Johns Hopkins ought to be serving as a check). It also occurs to me that “Vax vax vax” gives CDC a strong incentive to massage that particular dataset, and the rationalization to do so; the public health establishment lies all the time, as we know. In any case, all the data is already known to be bad, because this is America. It’s useful to cross-check the official narrative, however, since nobody can look at cases, hospitalization, and deaths, even as they are, and assume that the pandemic is anything like over. The same was true for “Hot Vax Summer.” So, for now, I will carry on, but do add a truckload of salts to the Vaccination data. Of course, I could always curate a wastewater collection instead; there’s a reasonable number of them now.

Vaccination by region:

A roller coaster. More data problems? (I have also not said, because it’s too obvious, that if by Bubba we mean The South, then Bubba has done pretty well on vax, despite all the sturm und drang in the press.

60.9% of the US is fully (doubly) vaccinated (CDC data, such as it is, as of December 13. Becker’s is pretty good for a trade journal. So we’ll watch to see what they say on CDC’s potentially massaged vax data.) The stately 0.1% rise per day returns. We have broken the important 60% psychological barrier! Mediocre by world standards, being just below Estonia, and just above Peru in the Financial Times league tables as of this Monday). I would bet that the stately rise = word of mouth from actual cases. Or perhaps the numbers are being managed, like earnings. However, as readers point out, every day those vaccinated become less protected from severe illness and hospitalization, especially the earliest. So we are trying to outrun the Delta… With Omicron coming up fast on the outside!

Case count by United States regions:

I whinged about the period of fiddling and diddling that appeared before the previous peak (and hadn’t appeared hitherto). Things went up, peaked, or went down. Now we are fiddling and diddling again. I have helpfully highlighted both periods. Also, as happened in 2020, I would expect a second, higher peak, from Omicron if for no other reason. The Midwest’s numbers are down, so here is that chart:

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

One of the sources of the idea that Covid is on the way out, I would speculate, is the CDC’s modeling hub (whose projections also seem to have been used to justify school re-opening). Here is the current version of the chart from the CDC modeling hub, which aggregates the results of eight models in four scenarios, with the last run (“Round 9”) having taken place on 2021-08-30, and plots current case data (black dotted line) against the aggregated model predictions (grey area), including the average of the aggregated model predictions (black line). I have helpfully highlighted the case data discussed above. Not updated:

Case data (black dotted line) has been within the tolerance of the models; it does not conform to the models’ average (black line), but it stays within aggregated predictions (the grey area).

I wrote: “It’s too early to say ‘Dammit, CDC, your models were broken’; but it’s not too soon to consider the possibility that they might be. The case data still looks like it’s trying to break out of the grey area. We shall see.” The case data has now broken out of the grey area (see at “Oopsie!”). Since the models are aggregated conventional wisdom, it’s not fair to call them propaganda, exactly. Nevertheless. conventional wisdom is looking a little shaky, and anybody who relied on them to predict that we would be “back to normal” by early next year should be taking another look at their assumptions. And this is — I assume — before Omicron!

MWRA (Boston-area) wastewater detection, not updated:

A steep drop in the average, like the last peak. We’ll see if gets choppy again, or not.

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

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

West Coast much better, Maine much worse. More flecks of red, especially in Texas. Weird flare-ups, like flying coals in a forest fire. They land, catch, but — one hopes — sputter out.

The previous release:

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

I have helpfully highlighted the states where the “trend” arrow points up in yellow, and where it is vertical, in orange. (Note trend, whether up or down, is marked by the arrow, at top. Admissions are presented in the graph, at the bottom. So it’s possible to have an upward trend, but from a very low baseline.)

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 819,315 817,956. Modest rise. At this rate, I don’t think we’ll hit the million mark by New Year’s.

Excess deaths (total, not only from Covid), not updated:

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

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

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

South Africa’s rise looks linear, even though this is a log scale. Let’s hope Chile’s sudden jump just a data issue. Sorry for the kerfuffle at the left. No matter how I tinker, it doesn’t go away.

* * *

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

AA writes: “Our daughter Kay gathers seedlings at the local arboretum every spring. Never know how the Japanese Maples will turn out. This one is a beauty! We planted it next to one of our bee hives – a Top Bar style – for summer shade… Has been amazing in early December.” Gorgeous maple, lovely sky… But what an interesting beehive! I’ve never seen one like it.

* * *

Readers, thank you for all the plant pictures!

* * *

Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the recently concluded and — thank you! — successful annual NC fundraiser. So if you see a link you especially like, or an item you wouldn’t see anywhere else, please do not hesitate to express your appreciation in tangible form. Remember, a tip jar is for tipping! Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of donations helps me with expenses, and I factor in that trickle when setting fundraising goals:

Here is the screen that will appear, which I have helpfully annotated.

If you hate PayPal, you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check. Thank you!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Guest Post, Water Cooler on by .

About Lambert Strether

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


  1. antidlc

    Ethics board: Cuomo must give back money from $5.1M book deal


    Cuomo has 30 days to surrender “an amount equal to the compensation paid to him” for the book to the office of state Attorney General Tish James. Her office will decide whether the money will go to the state or back to the publisher.

    The former governor will not cooperate.

      1. Farandula

        When does vice president Harris give back ex banker, ex Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin’s political donation to her senate campaign following her refusal to prosecute him for the One West mortgage scandal when she was California Attorney General? It really looks like a quid pro quo.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > When does vice president Harris give back ex banker, ex Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin’s political donation to her senate campaign

          On the First of Never?

      2. bob

        5 million isn’t that much really. /s

        “The former governor does not have access to the entire $5.1 million sum. Cuomo received an initial payment of $3.12 million from Penguin Random House in 2020, according to taxes released earlier this year, and was due to eventually receive another $2 million. After taxes and expenses, he made $1.54 million. A third of that was donated to the United Way of New York State. The remainder was placed in a trust for his three daughters. “

        WTF are his “expenses”?

        1. Synoia

          She cannot.
          1 It is the wrong season for peaches.
          2 Her supply of Ims will not be delivered until hell freezes over.

  2. doug

    I am seeing commands like this, rather than the picture in some cases:

    ‘img src=”https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/covid-excess-deaths-natl-1.png” alt=”” width=”600″ height=”304″ class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-219069″ />’
    Although I had to remove < at the beginning so the string would show.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        No, no, let’s not go overboard. A workflow error by me. In any case, HTML code is declarative; it doesn’t do anything. Software engineers don’t like to dirty their hands with it.

        1. Eduardo

          HTML code is declarative; it doesn’t do anything. Software engineers don’t like to dirty their hands with it.

          Au contraire. Software engineers love to generate HTML dynamically.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Listening to sports radio yesterday, it sounds like the NFL may be using an abundance of caution, or perhaps just being stubborn. One of the Rams players tested positive once for the rona, then tested negative twice afterwards but he was still held out of the game last night. No idea of the time frame between tests, but the sports guy on the radio suggested he was being held out for a false positive test. No idea how well informed the radio guy was about the whole situation.

      1. North Star

        The NHL is also experiencing an increase in COVID cases of players as well. Cancellation of the next three games for the Calgary Flames and this morning’s Vancouver Canucks practice are just two examples of an expanding league-wide issue.

  3. lyman alpha blob

    Here’s one for the scifi fans and the feral hog watch, and apologies if this was already mentioned. Looks like Neal Stephenson has a new book out dealing with climate catastrophe and one of the plot points is Texas being overrun by a porcine peril – https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/16/books/review/neal-stephenson-termination-shock.html

    Let’s hope this one is better than his last effort Fall, or Dodge in Hell which was an abomination. With feral hogs though, how could it not be?

    1. John

      Termination Shock: It’s not bad at all, but it is no Cryptonomicon or Baroque Cycle … or even Snow Crash from whence came “metaverse.”

      1. lyman alpha blob

        The new one is just a breezy afternoon read of 700 pages from what I hear. Against the Day will have to remain on the shelf until I finish this one.

      2. Watt4Bob


        Attempted Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow multiple times starting in the 70s, finally succeeded in finishing in the last year. (Benefit of Covid?)

        Anyway, I seemed to gain a kind of momentum this time, I was amazed.

        I was blown away by paragraph that speculated about instantaneous, world-wide communications being possible in the future, and IIRC, what sort of shenanigans were we going to get about when that came to pass.

        I have to re-read it now, not only because I know I’ll really get it this time, but because try as I might, I can’t find that paragraph describing the future internet.

        1. cocomaan

          I also read GR last year. I really liked it. A lot over my head but man, what a ride.

          Pig Bodine remains one of my favorite characters.

          1. rowlf

            One of my university teachers at Rutgers in the early 1980s and his friend were working on singing and recording all of the songs in Gravity’s Rainbow. Good times.

            The Rutger’s main campus library in New Brunswick had a thesis paper (bound book) on GR explaining all the themes. I think I had to pay $20 for having it checked out for too long.

    2. griffen

      I just completed the Peripheral by Gibson. Should I abandon a plan to read Agency next, and opt for an older novel from either Gibson or Stephenson?

      1. GroundZeroAndLovinIt

        Yes. Abandon ship. Move on to something older.

        I highly recommend Anathem by Stephenson.

      2. lyman alpha blob

        I’ll second the above. Anathem is my favorite by Stephenson.

        If you need more Gibson, try Pattern Recognition. Good read, and it got me to removing the labels from all my clothing. Contrary to popular opinion (or at least my mother’s), your clothes will not fall apart by removing sewn-on logos. I used to just avoid clothing with logos altogether, but now I can tailor them to my liking. No free advertising from me!

        1. Mildred Montana

          Congratulations! I’ve been a dedicated label-snipper for thirty years now. And yet, if I should happen to mention it, I still get strange looks from most people. ??? ??????’? ??? ???? ?? ???? ? ??? ???-?????? Like I’m crazy or something.

          I’ll sport a GAP or Nike or any other obvious logo only when the company pays me. Price and hours of exposure required negotiable.

        2. Joe Well

          The audiobook of Pattern Recognition is one of my favorite ever. And even more so now that it is a Web 1.0 period piece.

        3. ChrisPacific

          Third recommendation for Anathem. It’s a polarizing book – people tend to either love it or hate it – but I was definitely in the former category.

          I recall not being overly impressed with Cryptonomicon when I first read it, but I’ve reread it probably more times than any other Stephenson book, so there must have been something that appealed to me.

          (That’s assuming you’ve read ‘Snow Crash,’ which would be first pick if you haven’t).

      3. Martin Oline

        Cryptonomicon and Baroque Cycle, both by Neal Stephenson, are very much worth your time if you haven’t read them. Historical fiction more than science fiction, similar to the Flashman novels. I recently found an older copy of Pynchon’s Against The Day (1,050 pages) in the garage and started reading it. After reading 450 pages I wonder if I should finish it. He seems to be amusing himself more than anything else. Joe R. Lansdale has written some great books but they are in the minority. Most are in a Hap & Leonard (to each his own) or ‘illustrated novel’ category, i.e. comic books. The reading public should get a court order to have a breath-a-lizer installed on his keyboard. . .
        I recently found original and reprints of Maledicta, a quarterly(?) journal that dealt with cursing, etc., in the western world and are available at ABEbooks.

    3. CanCyn

      Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake dystopian trilogy features smart, dangerous feral porcine creatures. Highly recommend.
      Haven’t tried Stephenson or Pynchon, will give them a go.

    4. Mike Mc

      Big Neal Stephenson fan – Reamde and Seveneves both outstanding – so of course I bought Fall/Dodge… meh.

      Recently retired after 30 years in IT (largely Mac certified repairs so more of a mechanic as opposed to coding etc.) and married to a pastor so I had high hopes for Fall. It had its moments but should have been two or three books.

      Kim Stanley Robinson keeping my sci fi habit under control for now but thanks for the review link. Feral hogs FTW? Who knew?

  4. chris

    COVID test related anecdote…our local provider that can accommodate 24 hour or less turn around for a PCR test has finally settled on a payment regime for testing. The tests are free! The appointment for testing is not.

    So, depending on what your insurance has negotiated, you will pay a fee each time you get tested. Which is a lot because of all the close contacts we’re getting from my kids schools, work, family, etc. In our case, the appointment fee is 120$/per person/per test. If my whole family gets a close contact or needs to verify we’re not infected with SARS2, the appointment to get the free test costs us $600. If our experience is similar to others, I have to imagine that we are vastly undercounting our regional and national numbers. How many families have that kind of cash lying around to pay for mass testing on a random basis?

    1. gnatt

      i wonder where you live. in nyc vans come around. they bring out a small table some chairs and a canopy over it all, and they’re ready to test you. there’s one near a church in my neighborhood (washington heights) that seems to be there every other day. it’s a church that serves the poor. they would never pay to get tested. and the city would have even less information on the spread than they already do. so there’s no public testing in your world. really scuzzy.

      1. chris

        I live in Central Maryland. They mainly send us to urgent care clinics to get tested. Most around where I live have health insurance and would probably be considered wealthy in a lot of the country. Still, 120$ per person per appointment sucks…

        The line for testing yesterday and today was wrapped around the building. Moving briskly! But really long. Figure at least 150 people waiting in line around 8 AM.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Pretty soon that will be a good way to catch Omicron having so many people all head off to one building.

          1. chris

            Right now all the testing and the waiting for the testing are done outside. I’m not sure how long that will last. It gets plenty cold here.

          2. drsteve0

            No shite Rev, the last place I’d wanna be if I suspected moi had the Rona would be bunched up in a line of other schmucks who thought they might have the Rona, some of whom almost certainly would.

      2. chris

        Not sure about public testing options where I live. Like I said, if you want your kids to go to school, if you want to go to work, or if you receive a close contact notice and need to verify your status as COVID negative, you go to these places and pay the man.

  5. Mark Gisleson

    Miss my Water Cooler but that is an excellent and desperately needed take on Amazon’s crimes in Edwardsville. Thank you.

    I’ve heard Pritzker is running for President. Seems like he should have to loudly take a stand.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Thanks. I suppose Bezos and Musk are secretly hoping to be able to start a 4-comma club.

  6. Mildred Montana

    Here’s an ongoing murder mystery (doesn’t get much coverage because it’s in Canada):

    Four years ago, billionaire Barry Sherman (founder of generic drug-maker Apotex) and his wife Honey were murdered in their Toronto home. No arrests, no suspects, no nothing to date, although police say they have a “theory”. That’s all so far. A real who-dun-it.

    Sherman, a controversial and litigious businessman, had lots of enemies, which presumably is making the investigation all the more difficult.


    1. Lee

      As a detective fiction fan, I have an irresistible urge to speculate wildly.

      The mode of dispatch raises the question, was it symbolic or simply practical? Simultaneity seems unlikely assuming the victims were fit enough to put up resistance, which would point to the two being killed separately and then symbolically displayed as if executed, possibly for a perceived wrongdoing that produced a fatal result.

      As for the distinctive walk shown in the video of the person of interest: Actor John Thaw, who played Inspector Morse among many other roles, had the same walk. In his case he could not rotate his foot upward without a little kick due to an injury to nerves controlling muscles in his lower leg as the result of a car accident.

      1. Mildred Montana

        “Simultaneity seems unlikely assuming the victims were fit enough to put up resistance, which would point to the two being killed separately and then symbolically displayed as if executed…”

        Excellent deduction, Sherlock! ;) In the book I read about the murders, the speculation was that Honey arrived home first and was incapacitated by a blow. When Barry arrived shortly thereafter, they were both bound at the wrists and then strangled. Their “hanging” by belts from the pool guardrail was, as you say, a symbolic display.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      I perused the wiki. The kids seem like obvious suspects, but this guy has so many odd dealings and associates. It could be anyone.

  7. amphictyonic

    Finished reading the new Graeber and Wengrow book, The Dawn of Everything, yesterday evening. My anthropological study is limited to some Weber, The Gift, and Tristes Tropiques in undergrad. In archaeology, I know only what I learned taking a degree in Classics and surfing Wikipedia. Nevertheless, I found the examples fascinating and the general argument incredibly compelling. I know the book has been mentioned on NC— do any readers have thoughts on it?

    One idea that has been floating around for me is the possibility of formulating a concrete agenda, or maybe really more of an ethos, for political and social movements centered around the basic principles of freedom and domination the book attempts to define.

    For reference, the three “basic forms of social liberty” they outline as:
    “1) the freedom to move away or relocate from one’s surroundings; 2) the freedom to ignore or disobey commands issued by others; and 3) the freedom to shape entirely new social realities, or shift back and forth between different ones” (this is from the Conclusion— earlier in the book this is stated more simply as, paraphrasing, even just the liberty to create any new social relations).

    In turn, the three forms of domination are essentially (in my paraphrase): 1) an exclusive right to arbitrary violence, or sovereignty; 2) a control of knowledge or information, or bureaucracy; and 3) charismatic political competition, manifesting in anything from “heroic politics” to electoral systems. These can come together in various contexts and combinations in first, second, and third order structures of power. Graeber and Wengrow describe how the suspension of these social liberties is intertwined with the presence of dominating forces throughout human history. Societies which maintain the basic social liberties often operate according to certain mechanisms which frustrate the development of such forms of domination.

    I obviously cannot do the whole argument and wealth of evidence justice here, but I wonder— if we take this set of liberties as basic principles and learn from the panoply of examples of social organization in human history that managed to respect them, could communities that enable these social liberties to be practiced and respected be conceived and created? What would they look like? Further, perhaps, could they be used as a basis for a political/social program that breaks through the political duopoly without having to convince everyone in America that Lenin was really a good guy? Americans do love that big Freedom word…

    Apologies for rambling a bit, but I am interested generally in perspectives on the book from commenters here.

    Thanks always for this site.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Greetings from a fellow classics major. There can’t be many of us, but I’ve noticed we are well represented at NC.

      I can’t comment on the new Graeber book until the new year – haven’t read it yet but it’s on my Festivus list so hopefully some elf will deposit a copy under the tree. From the way you describe it though, it brings to mind the Fall Revolution series by Scottish scifi writer Ken Macleod. The series isn’t really scifi as you might think of it though, more like a fictional discussion of anarchist/socialist political theory set in the future. Found this which gives a decent overview – http://finneganbloom.blogspot.com/2007/06/fall-revolution-series-by-ken-macleod.html

      1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        Classics Major here as well!

        We are LEGION at least on NC!

        Asked for Dawn of Everything and Ai Weiwei’s new book for Xmas!


    2. R

      i’m about a third of the way through the book and enjoying it immensely. also just read ‘bullshit jobs’.

      in many ways, i feel like graeber is going to reformulate my sense of politics.

    3. Lost in OR

      I’m hoping for that book in ten days or so. Just finished Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson. One of the books’ conclusions was that we need a new religion. Sounds like a similar train of thought.

    4. Xquacy

      As a counterpoint to the book The Dawn of Everything, I highly recommend this breakdown.

      You might follow the links and check out the series on the book as well; very thorough and well done. The breakdown offers a criticism of Graeber’s notion of ‘inequality,’ and at the same time despairs about the fact that Graeber ignores very relevant anthropological evidence fitting to his case while basing his arguments on evidence which in many cases undermines what he says. In sum, he charges Graeber and Wengrow of sloppy scholarship.

      On a different tangent, I enjoy reading Graeber for repeated social insight value, but I have always felt him to be underwhelming in political acumen.

    5. farmboy

      good review here “What I am going to do is pick out a few themes that chime with my own interests, which, broadly speaking, are how to rethink almost the entirety of the present world political and economic system in the face of profound ecological and social crisis. As is often the way of such things, I’m going to focus a bit more on where I disagree or am uncertain about GW’s analysis than on points of agreement, so I just want to say upfront that their book is a magnificent achievement and a crowning glory for the extraordinary David Graeber before, alas too soon, he left us to join the ancestors.

      Although GW’s book defies summary, I’ll offer a quick thumbnail anyway. Standard modern global histories tell us that our genus Homo emerged about 2 million years ago. These hominins of our genus, so the story goes, lived for most of that time in small, egalitarian foraging bands where nothing very interesting happened for multiple tens of thousands of years until men invented agriculture roughly 10,000 years ago. This enabled the accumulation of surplus, the division of labour, social stratification and the emergence of centralized states, culminating in the incredible technological mastery of the last couple of centuries centred around Europe and its offshoots.”

  8. Lee

    Re Covid data:

    I’ve been looking for information on Covid transmissions associated with certain medical facilities. I’ve found papers on the subject but I can’t seem to find any current data at all on nosocomial transmission.

    Maybe it’s one of those “You can’t handle the truth” sort of situations.

    1. CuriosityConcern

      Hospital based nosocomial infections, of certain diseases, are reported to regulatory authorities both governmental and non. The criteria of definition are used to identify those individuals. The data are sometimes called HAC(hospital acquired condition) or HAI(hospital acquired infection).
      I don’t know if there are compulsory obligations for COVID.

      1. Lee

        Thanks. Haven’t found anything useful so far. A lot of highly generalized blah, blah, blah, some papers on the topic and exhortations to get vaccinated on the public health sites. Even if the information is being reported, I really doubt that they’re publishing the type of information I seek.

        1. CuriosityConcern

          I’m trying to think up criteria that could be applied to determine that, but coming up with nothing off the top of my head. I think the community spread is the major source of covid infection, whereas for the observed HAI, I believe a significant percent of all infections are from hospitals. So no one(other than you!) is on that page(yet?).

  9. Hepativore

    So there has been a whole plethora of news stories regarding Democratic Party incompetence or malfeaseance on Breaking Points this morning, including Biden’s latest broken promise on student loan debt relief.

    I honestly think that the Democrats are fully aware of what their electoral chances are in 2022 and 2024 and do not care as they have probably written these elections off, anyhow. Now the strategy might be to shove as many unpopular things through or stall on things that would anger their donors just long enough before the Republicans take office.

    As the Democrats do not need to care anymore about what voters want in the face of their inevitable upcoming losses, all of the pleas for things like justice for Dozinger and Assange, student debt relief, healthcare, financial assistance for inflation, etc. will fall on deaf ears because of this. We might as well be shouting into the void.

    1. Lost in OR

      I saved this article from links about 7 years ago. It explains that while we are increasingly estranged from the political party we are most aligned with we at the simultaneously have increasing animosity toward the party we are least aligned with. Instead of providing any solutions each party has only to make us more fearful of the other. We have been trained to self-identify by what we are against rather than what we are for.

      2 political scientists have found the secret to partisanship, and it’s deeply depressing

    2. Greg

      On a completely different topic, thankyou Hepativore for the recipe for your grandparents Serbian roast chicken on a bed of rice. I made it a couple of days back and it was really good, much enjoyed by everyone.

  10. Robert Hahl

    How to pick Irish guitar chords for folk tunes – Part 2 – Minor keys (Dorian mode)

    This was very helpful to me on chord substitutions and seems useful for other forms of folk music beside Irish. For instance, thinking about a relative minor chord (or “related” minor) need not be limited to the one chord. Who knew???

    More videos covering each of the four popular modes. See “Ear Training” in the list.

    But if you just want to listen:

    Old Grimes – Julian Lage, Chris Eldridge

    Cellar Sessions: Lunasa

    De Danann – Monaghan Jig/Drowsy Maggie/Maid Behind the Bar

    1. Sailor Bud

      Modes are easiest learned by comparing to major and natural minor, for four of the five, since only a single note is altered in each.

      Ionian is major
      Aeolian is natural minor

      Lydian is just major, but with a sharped 4
      Myxo is major with a minor 7th
      Dorian is natural minor with a major 6th
      Phrygian is natural minor with a minor 2nd

      The odd mode out is locrian, where the simple rule is like the books say. It’s the major scale a half step up from the named note, but played from the named note.

      The implication, though, is that the scale a half step up has to take the next letter name, no matter what, so it leads to tricky things, like for example, Db locrian is actually Ebb major (E-double flat major), but played from Db to Db, so: Db-Ebb-Fb-Gb-Abb-Bbb-Cb-Db.

      Locrian B mode (aka sublocrian) simply has a raised second degree from regular locrian, so a major 2nd, which ends up just being a mode of minor melodic (6th mode, specifically).

  11. ambrit

    Strange but true Mini-zeitgeist report.
    Tried to pay our property taxes on what’s left of the place down on the Coast. The Hancock County, MS tax division will no longer accept cheques after June of this year. So, I tried online, for the convenience. All online payments to that County must be routed through an Internet bank, First National Bank of Omaha. There is a $15.85 USD “Convenience charge.” No other forms of online payment are accepted.
    I’m sending my personal cheque registered mail for the last time. Next year?
    Who says all the crooks are in jail?

    1. fresno dan

      December 14, 2021 at 5:48 pm
      all the crooks are in politics?
      I’ve run across the same thing with paying local governmental bills. I don’t know if the local officials are too stupid to know how to cash checks, or they can’t negotiate well with credit card companies, or they are just taking a vig…

      1. ambrit

        I, being a devoted cynic will inscribe my ostrakon for the latter theory.
        I have noticed a steady shrinking of the number of “useful” civil servants; the ones who face the public and actually deal with problems large and small. The functionary who sorts and cashes the cheques might be one such endangered species.
        You are correct about a large segment of the class of malefactor known as “crooks” being also part of the class of politicians. (That cross breed, hybrid individual, is generally known by a common curse word used in the Spanish speaking countries: ‘Politico.’)
        Stay safe.

    2. TMoney

      Time to take cash to the office.
      Good for all debts public and private.

      You owe a debt. – unlike a shop that can refuse to accept cash for goods.

      Be sure to video any refusal to accept it. It will be your receipt when the court case comes around…

      Legal Tender was offered but refused – I considered the debt settled with the refusal to accept Legal Tender.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        You might want to have some people with you all video-phone equipped to possibly deter them from trying to beat you down and seize your video-phone. If a group of people with videophones won’t deter them from beat-downing you for trying to video-phone yourself offering legal tender, they might be able to record the beatdown in progress long enough to get it onto the cloud or whatever and also onto all the social media, before their phones are forcibly seized and erased.

        1. ambrit

          Thanks to both.
          It is a d— shame when even the self-admittedly cynical cohorts take seriously the probability that the Agents of State Security will use force to hide their misdeeds.
          Where do people think we live nowadays, Scotland?

  12. fresno dan

    Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has decided that no US military personnel will be punished over the August drone strike in Kabul that killed 10 civilians, including seven children.

    Following a review of the strike, Austin instructed the heads of Central Command and Special Operations Command to make recommendations to improve Defense Department policies and procedures. But their recommendations did not include holding anyone accountable or punishing anyone involved in the strike, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Monday.
    Last week, the Pentagon admitted an airstrike said to be targeting a would-be car bomber in Afghanistan actually killed only civilians – 10 people from the same extended family, including seven children. This isn’t the first time civilians have been killed in drone strikes under the broad banner of the war on terror. Studies say as many as tens of thousands of innocent people may have been killed in strikes like these in the last 20 years.
    Was I just not paying attention, or did the US MSM not report that drone strikes often kill the innocent???
    Makes me wonder why this one was worthy of reporting…

  13. drumlin woodchuckles

    The beehive in the antidote photo may be a variation on the theme of “top bar beehive”. Here are some images of “top bar beehives”.


    1. The Rev Kev

      Does anybody know if Japanese Maples come out in flower that those bees could use out of curiosity? It certainly is a great picture.

      1. Maggie

        I haven’t seen our bees on any of our Japanese maples. (Do wish they would!!) For us and our yard, the bees are all over the blooming American Holly and Basswood during that part of the season. Guess I should add Loquats to the list. At the moment the draw is Fatsia with the camellias just starting to bloom. What we love about our gals —> their help keeping our garden plentiful and our citrus trees in fruit.. Yes the top bar is “our version”… successful since 2011!

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        For those interested, here is a book about top bar beekeeping.

        About Japanese maple attractiveness to bees . . . . I have found no direct statement on line that Japanese maple is wind pollinated, but I have found an entry which indirectly hints at Japanese maple being wind pollinated. It is considered to be “moderately allergenic” and it pollenates in ” the spring”.
        Its pollen would have to be in the air in order to reach you, and if its pollen could reach you in the air, it could also reach other Japanese maples in the air if wind carried it there. And I don’t remember ever seeing bees on Japanese maple. So I will risk guessing that it is wind pollinated and therefor of no interest to bees.

        Here are some images of Norway maple flowers. They look like bee-targeted flowers to me and I think I remember having seen bees at Norway maple flowers.

        Same for red maple flowers and bees. Here are some red maple flower images.

    1. The Rev Kev

      That’s terrific news that. I hope that he has a good Christmas being free. And I hope too that next year comes his revenge.

  14. The Rev Kev

    Small update to the pandemic situation in Oz. Both States that decided to let ‘er rip are now experiencing huge spikes in numbers. Imagine my surprise. Numbers were gradually going down in New South Wales but now they have doubled in the past few days. Of course we have Omicron here now which has just started to spread and there is no getting that genie back in the bottle. We’re doomed, I tell ya, doomed!

    1. Greg

      NZ is pushing ahead with reopening everything and removing all borders to the disease, despite the rise of omicron and the state of our near neighbour. In expecting Christmas to go ahead with travel everywhere, followed by a new year’s spike in cases.

        1. skippy

          Wellie a choice between let it rip and a covid induced debt jubilee the narrative wins every time ….

    2. Foy

      Gets even better, not only are they relaxing restrictions and opening up, I see the NSW health minister Brad Hazzard (the perfect name as it turns out) in the same press conference said that their health authorities were anticipating the state could see 25000 cases a day by end of Jan. My head is hurting from the cognitive dissonance…

      1. Foy

        Hazzard the health minister also said in the presser “If you don’t need to … be in a jam-packed environment with no windows … maybe it’s not a good time.” . My head hurts even more…

        1. The Rev Kev

          But wait – there’s more. Someone that was infected took two separate flight and Queensland told the all passengers on both flights to isolate for a fortnight. After a lot of protests they did a back flip and said only those that were in seats surrounding that passenger had to isolate while the rest could take a test-


          Everywhere you look they are easing restrictions, mask mandates, quarantine periods – everything. By the time Scotty from Marketing goes to the elections polls in May, Australia is going to be fully infected with Omicron from one end to the other in an absolute clusterf***. And our political leaders & health authorities will say then that it was not their fault.

      2. Basil Pesto

        Day before NSW gov’t gets rid of mask mandate, NSW chief health officer now imploring all NSWers to wear a mask indoors regardless (and of course she doesn’t explain what kind of mask, how to wear it, and why it’s important, which to be fair might be a bit hard to get across all at once in a press conference). ScoMo doubling down hard on what is soon to be his failed “we have to live with the virus” Let ‘Er Rip strategy. I can actually see the funny side of how badly this is going, Clarke and Dawe are missed.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Perhaps a pair of Clarke and Dawe impersonators or impressionists could try channeling Clarke and Dawe, if they are good enough at it. They could call themselves Darke and Clawe.

  15. allan

    Cornell: COVID-19 Update: Moving to alert level red, changes to exams

    Dear Ithaca campus community,

    Since our Saturday message, our surveillance testing has continued to identify the rapid spread of COVID-19 among our student population. While faculty and staff case numbers currently remain low, just last evening our COVID-19 testing lab team identified evidence of the highly contagious Omicron variant in a significant number of Monday’s positive student samples. As a result, and out of an abundance of caution, the university is moving to Alert Level Red and announcing a number of immediate measures, outlined below. …

    Thus, we need to do what we can to limit further spread, even though we are just a few days away from the end of the semester. That is why we are moving to Alert Level Red, and with that move:

    Academic guidance:

    All final exams will move to an online format as of noon, Tuesday, December 14. Exams that have already been moved to an online format will proceed as scheduled, including today’s exams. Some exams still scheduled to be in person may be able to switch immediately to an online modality; others may need to be rescheduled to give faculty time to pivot. Please be vigilant about looking for email updates from your faculty. More details about exams will be posted to the academic policies section on the COVID-19 website as soon as available. …

    A mild change of plans. And of course many of the students are heading home after exams. Or were planning to.

  16. upstater

    Frat boys gotta be frat boys… Omicron is coming home just in time for Santa!

    Cornell cancels activities, moves final exams online as Covid spreads rapidly on campus

    Cornell said its lab identified evidence Monday night of the highly contagious Omicron variant in a significant number of student cases.

    Cornell said the vast majority of cases are linked to off-campus student social gatherings where masking and other public health measures were not followed.

    Whowoulddathunk that frats wouldn’t follow public health measures?

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Well, the students trusted and believed America’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Fauci. If Fauci allowed his audience to think the vaccinated are safe with his ever shape-shifting Greenspanian statements, why would frats believe local-not-national lesser health authorities to the contrary?

Comments are closed.