2:00PM Water Cooler 12/16/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

“MEDIA NOTES: Mâle et femele BEHAVIORS: Song.”

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Vaccination by region:

A roller coaster. (If by Bubba we mean The South, then Bubba has done pretty well on vax, despite all the sturm und drang in the press.

61.1% of the US is fully (doubly) vaccinated (CDC data, such as it is, as of December 16. The stately 0.1% rise per day returns. We have broken the important 61% psychological barrier! Mediocre by world standards, being just below Estonia, and just above Peru in the Financial Times league tables as of this Monday).

Case count by United States regions:

Still fiddling and diddling. Also, as happened in 2020, I would expect a second, higher peak, from Omicron if for no other reason.

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:

New England improved (but not Maine). Wisconsin bad. 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 fleck of red in the middle of New York near the Pennsylvania border is, I think, Ithaca (i.e., Cornell).

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: 823,390 821,335. At this rate, I don’t think we’ll hit the million mark by New Year’s.

Excess deaths (total, not only from Covid):

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

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. Sorry for the kerfuffle at the left. No matter how I tinker, it doesn’t go away.


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

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

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

Biden Administration

“White House unveils plan to replace every lead pipe in the U.S.” [NBC]. • Including the one he should have used on Manchin?

“Blame the Democratic Leadership for Biden’s Stalled Agenda” [Eric Levitz, New York Magazine]. “Democrats have been sending hundreds of dollars every month to each of the roughly 40 percent of U.S. households that have kids under 18, yet in an NPR/Marist poll released last week, only 17 percent of voters said their family had ever received a monthly payment. Roughly half of the enhanced CTC’s beneficiaries don’t even know they have been benefiting from the program. But Democrats are counting on this constituency to be so politically powerful and mobilized that a future Republican Congress would have no choice but to extend the enhanced CTC. If direct monthly payments have failed to create a self-sustaining constituency, there is little basis for believing that less universal (and/or more dysfunctional) programs like the Democrats’ current child-care and paid-leave plans will do so. If the Democratic leadership fails to persuade Manchin to cave by Christmas, the political theory behind the current version of Build Back Better will be falsified by New Year’s — and working-class families will pay the price.

“Dems fume as agenda hits brick wall in Senate that ‘sucks'” [Politico]. “Most Senate Democrats woke up Thursday in the dark about where their agenda stands, particularly after a Wednesday chairmen’s lunch was canceled. They are urgently seeking clarity on whether they will go home empty-handed on major party priorities.” • They slept late?

“‘This is b******t’: Manchin snaps after Dems blame him for killing Biden’s hopes of passing Build Back Better this year: Rebel Dem says he is victim of ‘bad rumor’ as Schumer punts president’s flagship $1.75T to next year” [Daily Mail]. “The West Virginia senator was objecting to reports he wants to defund or limit the expanded Child Tax Credit, which most Democrats want to keep in Biden’s signature legislation. Compounding matters, the state of West Virginia is one of the biggest benefitters of the Child Tax Credit, which was expanded earlier this year in a COVID relief package. An estimated 346,000 West Virginia children – 93 percent of all kids in the state – live in households that qualify for the tax credit, according to the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy.” • Manchin opposes dental, too. And West Virginia has the worst teeth in the nation, good job Joe, that’ll keep ’em in their place.

Democrats en Deshabille

Lambert here: Obviously, the Democrat Party is a rotting corpse that can’t bury itself. Why is that? First, the Democrat Party is the political expression of the class power of PMC, their base (lucidly explained by Thomas Frank in Listen, Liberal!). It follows that the Democrat Party is as “unreformable” as the PMC is unreformable; if the Democrat Party did not exist, the PMC would have to invent it. If the Democrat Party fails to govern, that’s because the PMC lacks the capability to govern. (“PMC” modulo “class expatriates,” of course.) Second, all the working parts of the Party reinforce each other. Leave aside characterizing the relationships between elements of the Party (ka-ching, but not entirely) those elements comprise a network — a Flex Net? An iron octagon? — of funders, vendors, apparatchiks, electeds, NGOs, and miscellaneous mercenaries, with assets in the press and the intelligence community. (Note that voters do not appear within this structure. That’s because, unlike say UK Labour or DSA, the Democrat Party is not a membership organization. Dull normals may “identify” with the Democrat Party, but they cannot join it, except as apparatchiks at whatever level.) Whatever, if anything, that is to replace the Democrat Party needs to demonstrate the operational capability to contend with all this. Sadly, I see nothing of the requisite scale and scope on the horizon, though I would love to be wrong. (If Sanders had leaped nimbly from the electoral train to the strike wave train after losing in 2020, instead of that weak charity sh*t he went with, things might be different today. I am not sure that was in him to do, and I’m not sure he had the staff to do it, although I believe such a pivot to a “war of movement” would have been very popular with his small donors. What a shame the app wasn’t two-way.) Ah well, nevertheless.

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

And while we’re at it: Think of the left’s programs, and lay them against the PMC’s interests. (1) Free College, even community college. Could devalue PMC credentials. Na ga happen. (2) MedicareForAll. Ends jobs guarantee for means-testing gatekeepers in government, profit-through-denial-of-care gatekeepers in the health insurance business, not to mention opposition from some medical guilds. Na ga happen. (3) Ending the empire (and reining in the national security state). The lights would go out all over Fairfax and Loudon counties. Na ga happen. These are all excellent policy goals. But let’s be clear that it’s not only billionaires who oppose them.

Showing the PMC’s inability to govern, as a class they seem unable to expand their scope of operations into new fields. Consider the possibilities of the “Swiss Cheese Model.” Layered defenses include extensive testing, contact tracing, ventilation systems (not merely blue collar HVAC work, but design and evaluation), and quarantines. If we look at each layer as a jobs guarantee for credentialed professionals and managers, like ObamaCare, the opportunities are tremendous (and that’s before we get to all the training and consulting). And yet the PMC hasn’t advocated for this model at all. Instead, we get authoritarian followership (Fauci) and a totalizing and tribalizing faith in an extremely risky vax-only solution. Why? It’s almost as if they’re “acting against their own self-interest,” and I don’t pretend to understand it.

And I’m not the only one who’s puzzled. “Even if you…

A second example of the PMC’s inability to govern comes under the rubric of “our democracy.” Of the various components of the Democrat party, NGOs, miscellaneous mercenaries, assets in the press, and the intelligence community all believe — or at least repeat vociferously — that “our democracy” is under threat, whether from election integrity issues, or from fascism. But other components — funders, vendors, apparatchiks, and electeds — don’t believe this at all. On election integrity, HR 1 has not passed. Gerrymandering continues apace (also a sign that Republicans take their politics much more seriously than Democrats do). On fascism, I suppose we have Pelosi’s January 6 Commission. But nothing unlawful took place, or we would have Merrick Garland’s January Investigation. The combination of hysterical yammering from some Democrats and blithe indifference from others is extremely unsettling. (This leaves aside the question of whether Democrats, as a party, have the standing to whinge about either the erosion of democracy or the imminence of fascism. I say no.) Of course, there is a solution to the problems with “our democracy”:

* * *

“House Speaker Nancy Pelosi opposes banning Congress members from owning individual stocks: ‘We’re a free market economy’” [CNBC]. • You bet. The House wins.

“So we’ve been set up.”

This thread is about the UK, but a similar dynamic applies here.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Jimmy Carter’s exposure to nuclear danger” [CNN]. • Jimmy Carter, bad-ass.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits increased by 18 thousand to 206 thousand in the week ended December 11th from an over five-decade low of 188 thousand in the previous period and compared to market expectations of 200 thousand. The 4-week moving average of claims, which removes week-to-week volatility, dropped to 203.75 thousand, the lowest level since November 15, 1969.”

Employment Situation: “United States Continuing Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “Continuing jobless claims in the US, which measure unemployed people who have been receiving unemployment benefits for a while, decreased to 1.845 million in the week ending December 4th, from a revised 1.999 million a week before and below market expectations of 1.936 million.”

Manufacturing: “United States Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index in the US fell to 15.4 in December of 2021 from a seven-month high of 39 in November and well below market forecasts of 30. The reading pointed to the weakest growth in factory activity in Philadelphia since December last year. The survey’s indicators for general activity, shipments, and new orders all declined to their lowest readings in 2021 but remained positive this month. However, the employment index improved somewhat.”

Manufacturing: “United States Kansas Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “Kansas Fed Manufacturing Index in the United States decreased to 10 points in December from 17 points in November of 2021. ”

Manufacturing: “United States Industrial Production” [Trading Economics]. “ndustrial Production in the United States increased 5.30 percent year-on-year in November of 2021, the same as in the previous month. Manufacturing increased 4.6 percent, mining jumped 9.2 percent and utilities 5.1 percent”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: The Fear and Greed screen is blank again! [CNN]. Last updated Dec 16 at 12:05pm. Couldn’t hurt to tell CNN to fix it.

The Biosphere

“Otter Tail County eyed for leg of massive carbon pipeline” [Perham Focus]. “A carbon pipeline that developers say would be “the largest carbon capture and storage project in the world” is being proposed for ethanol plants in five states, including Minnesota, and a leg of it would run through part of Otter Tail County. A company called Summit Carbon Solutions says it has long-term contracts with 31 ethanol plants, including Green Plains Partnership in Fergus Falls, to build a pipeline to send captured carbon emissions from these plants for burial deep underground near Bismarck, North Dakota. Otter Tail County commissioners first learned project details in August, and received an update in late November. ‘We would capture it, we would compress it, we would place it into a pipeline and it would be transferred through the pipeline to North Dakota, where it would be stored permanently and, we believe, safely in their deep underground geologic storage locations,” Jesse Harris told commissioners during a committee meeting Aug. 10.” • Holy Toledo. Carbon capture pipelines are a thing. This sounds like an extravagantly bad idea. I wonder if either the BIF or the BBB supports them.

“Giant pipeline in U.S. Midwest tests future of carbon capture” [Reuters]. “Dan Tronchetti received a letter in August that alarmed him: Summit Carbon Solutions, a company he’d never heard of, wanted his permission to conduct survey work for a 2,000-mile pipeline it planned to route through his Iowa corn and soybean fields. The project, dubbed the Midwest Carbon Express, had ambitions to become the world’s largest carbon dioxide pipeline, moving climate-warming greenhouse gases from Midwest biofuels plants to North Dakota for permanent storage underground. But Tronchetti’s first concern was for his livelihood. ‘It would go more than half a mile through prime farmland,’ he said. The 65-year-old is among dozens of landowners along the route who are refusing to cede their property to the project, according to Reuters interviews with five landowners, four community groups organizing opposition, several academics and industry sources plus a review of filings with state regulators. The impasse could escalate into potential court battles if Summit tries to seize the land by claiming eminent domain. Such legal fights contributed to the cancellation of the Keystone XL oil pipeline this year.” • I love it that we’re building carbon capture pipelines to support an industry, biofuels, that is a scam anyhow.

“Enterprise Products could repurpose pipelines for carbon projects -executive” [Reuters]. “Pipeline operator Enterprise Products Partners could repurpose some of its vast U.S. network of energy pipelines for carbon capture and sequestration projects, co-Chief Executive Jim Teague said. ‘We’re not going to do it for the hell of it. There has to be a business there,’ Teague said during remarks at the World Petroleum Congress on Wednesday. The conference brings together energy officials and policy makers to discuss the future of the oil and gas industry. Major oil companies including Exxon Mobil and Occidental Petroleum view carbon capture and sequestration as an emerging market opportunity and that could lower their carbon emissions.” • “Put it back in the ground” as opposed to “leave it in the ground”….

* * *

“A frenzy of well drilling by California farmers leaves taps running dry” [Los Angeles Times]. “In the verdant San Joaquin Valley, one of the nation’s most productive farming regions, domestic wells … are drying up at an alarming pace as a frenzy of new well construction and heavy agricultural pumping sends the underground water supply to new lows during one of the most severe droughts on record…. The Los Angeles Times analyzed state groundwater data from the hard-hit San Joaquin Valley and found that 2021 is on track to see the most agricultural wells drilled since the last drought ended. The Times analysis found that more than 6,200 agriculture wells have been drilled in the valley since the flawed Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, known as SGMA, was passed in 2014.” • “Flawed”? Or broken by design?

“70 million years on earth, 40 years of decline: the endangered eel” [Agence France Presse]. “What threatens eel populations? The eel’s complex life cycle makes it vulnerable to a wide range of human activity, including overfishing of a species that is a much-loved delicacy in Asia. But that pressure is far from the only thing driving eel decline. ‘We’ve known since the 1980s that there are multiple reasons and that fishing probably isn’t the main factor,’ said [French researcher Eric Feunteun]. He points out that polluting waterways with contaminants like pesticides, medicines and plasticisers has a much greater effect, including on eels’ reproductive capacity. Habitat destruction also plays a significant role, according to Andrew Kerr, president of the Sustainable Eel Group. He points to the ‘draining of three quarters of the wetlands of Europe. And then the one million plus barriers to fish migration in the rivers, like dams.’ ‘So we basically destroyed the eel’s habitat. And that’s what’s really killed it off,’ he told AFP. Climate change is also a factor, shifting marine currents that carry eels from their spawning grounds in tropical waters to the rivers and estuaries where they will spend most of their lives. Longer and slower routes mean higher mortality rates for young eels as they drift towards coastlines.”

“He spent almost 50 years alone at 10,000 feet. His hobby helped shape climate research in the Rockies” [WaPo]. ““It turns out that what really sets the clock for all the phenology out there, in terms of flowering and animal activity, is when the snow melts. And Billy had this wonderful data set on not only when does it melt, but when does it start and how does it change from day to day,” [David Inouye, a University of Maryland biologist,] said. In 2000, Inouye listed Barr as a co-author on a paper about birds and marmots in the Colorado Rockies, which showed, Inouye said, ‘first, that the climate is changing, and second, that it’s having an effect on the plants and animals out there.’ In 2012, Barr was a co-author on a paper by Inouye and others that predicted broad-tailed hummingbirds could by 2033 arrive after the flowering of a key nectar source, the glacier lily, which has bloomed earlier over time because of climate change. After filling 10 notebooks with his records, Barr now organizes them in Excel and publishes them on his website. Researchers regularly ask him for data, he said, and he always obliges. I would say it’s because I care about others and want to help them,” Barr said. “But it’s mostly because I’ve never had a social life, so what else do I have to do?'” • Wonderful photographs, too.

“A giant ‘black box’ will gather all climate data for future civilizations to learn from” [CNN]. “Every time new climate research is published, news headlines are posted or tweets are shared, a giant steel box perched on a granite plain in the Australian state of Tasmania will be recording it all. With its thick steel walls, battery storage and solar panels, the developers of ‘Earth’s Black Box’ say the city bus-sized structure will be indestructible to the climate crisis itself and is meant to outlive humans. Eventually, its creators hope, the black box will tell future civilizations how humankind created the climate crisis, and how we failed or succeeded to address it…. Much like the Rosetta Stone, [Jonathan Kneebone, artist and director of the artistic collective Glue Society] said, they plan to use multiple formats of encoding including mathematical symbolism for their longer-term analogue steel plate inscriptions, which would include instructions necessary to decode the box by whoever uncovers it.” • If there’s any indication of who’s funding the project on their site, I can’t find it.

“Soil formation of the Galápagos Islands” [Soils Matter, Get the Scoop!] “Like Hawaii, the Galápagos Islands were formed from a volcanic hotspot. However, the Galápagos have an overall drier climate than Hawaii, which influences soil formation. They also have a lower amount of dust settling from Asia. These influences result in different soil types and mineral composition on the Galápagos…. According to the paper’s authors ‘The Galápagos Islands are an ideal outdoor laboratory for studying weathering and soil formation under relatively pristine conditions. The observed soil changes in response to climate and duration of weathering have important bearings on the soils’ functioning.’ This includes factors for how the soils retain and release nutrients to plant life. This could affect the evolution of plant and animal species on this unique archipelago.” • If Darwin had been a soil scientist…

Health Care

Modified rapture from South Africa:

A few cautionary remarks: First, I’m dubious about direct country comparisons. In South Africa, it’s the summer season, their population is different from our own (alike in wretched Gini co-efficient; different in, say, obesity), and of course their reporting is different, too. Second, while deaths is an easy and obvious metric, it cannot take into account Long Covid, by definition. Finally, and related to the first point, we would have to understand the near-vertical rise and sudden leveling off of cases. I don’t recall a pattern like that before. Epidemiology? Political economy? Data issues? Finally, for cases and positivity, the Omicron curves are outside the norms of previous waves. For hospitalization and death, they are not. Why? (And is this the operational definition of “mild”? Fewer hospitalizations per case?) Nevertheless, it’s always nice to read news where “it could have been worse.”

Another brutal thread from Jimenez on WHO’s dereliction of duty on airborne transmission. He lists country after country relying on handwashing, plexiglass barriers, not mentioning masks, etc., etc.:

The WHO leadership ought to be in The Hague. Along with our own.

“Airline executive says masks ‘don’t add much’ on flights” [The Hill]. “Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly told a Senate panel on Wednesday that the air in passenger jets’ cabins is so clean that face masks ‘don’t add much’ additional protection against the spread of COVID-19 on planes. ‘The statistics, I recall, is that 99.97 percent of airborne pathogens are captured by the HEPA [high-efficiency particulate air] filtering system, and it’s turned over every two or three minutes,’ Kelly told the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee during a hearing on airline oversight. ‘I think the case is very strong that masks don’t add much, if anything, in the air cabin,’ he said. ‘The environment is very safe, very high quality compared to any other indoor setting…. Southwest Airlines later said in a statement to The Hill that the ‘sophisticated air distribution system introduces fresh, outdoor air and HEPA-filtered air into the cabin, creating a protective environment prior to the added layer of wearing a mask.'” • So, layered defense, right? And that’s somehow bad? Also, “59 Covid-19 Cases Linked To One 7-Hour Flight To Ireland, Per Study.” The issue is not whether masks “add much.” The issue is whether they protect against the asymptomatic, highly infections superspreading individuals who are the cause of 80% of the cases. Kelly is thinking of averages when he needs to be thinking of overdispersion.

“Infectious Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in Exhaled Aerosols and Efficacy of Masks During Early Mild Infection” [Clinical Infectious Diseases]. From September, still germane. From Conclusions: “SARS-CoV-2 is evolving toward more efficient aerosol generation…” • There is, naturally, no evidence whatever for that conclusion in the paper, nor could there be, from the methods. I’m quoting this because I encountered a Canadian droplet goon who claimed — IIRC, and I’m too lazy to find the link — that Covid evolved to be airborne, instead of being airborne from the start. This is the only place I’ve seen that claim proposed in a paper.

Our Famously Free Press

Incident report:

Well, public accessibility is a cost center, after all.

Groves of Academe

“That Job at Harvard? It’s Not Real.” [New York Times]. The deck: “For over a year, prominent women in India, including journalists, were reeled into a labyrinthine online scam, offering work with Harvard University. Who targeted them, and why, is a mystery.” More: “The people — or person — behind the hoax were relentless. They created a constellation of interlocking personas across Twitter, Facebook, Gmail and WhatsApp to pursue the women for months at a time. Unlike typical online fraudsters, they did not appear to use the personal information they extracted to steal money or to extort the women, leaving their ultimate goal a mystery.” • Hmm.

Guillotine Watch

“Bottle service and a Bitcoin ATM: This new Miami Beach club promises a VIP experience” [Miami Herald]. “You’re at a club in South Beach. You settle into a plush banquette while your friends take Instagram photos in front of a neon “Bitch, don’t kill my vibe” sign. Bottle service arrives! Everyone raises a toast as cryogenic effects waft across the stage and theatrical aerial artists strike a pose. Meanwhile, a famous DJ spins on a state-of-the-art sound system while LED lights flash around the room and projectors do their thing. A stock market ticker runs around the perimeter, reminding you of your pressing cryptocurrency needs, so you excuse yourself to head to the Bitcoin ATM.”

American gentry:

News of the Wired

I seem not to be wired today. Again. Oh well!

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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 (AM):

AM writer: “High bush blueberry bush in Roger Williams Park, Providence, RI. A splash of red.”

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Readers, thank you for all the plant pictures!

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Wukchumni

    “A frenzy of well drilling by California farmers leaves taps running dry” [Los Angeles Times].
    The LA Times in general is garbage compared to the fishwrap of my youth, but they really hit it out of the park on this for some reason, non-paywalled story.

    When groundwater legislation was put into law in 2014, a curious thing happened in that damn near every bit of sizable vacant land in the CVBB was suddenly full of new fruit & nut trees as Ag wasn’t gonna miss out on their share of water, and as luck would have it, most of the new hires were almond trees-that have a 25 year lifespan, which corresponded perfectly with the legislation set to really take effect in 2040.

    1. Bart Hansen

      From whose aquifers comes the water that filters through our 700 odd bases throughout the world? We steal from our farms, towns and lakes only to be flushed into to some thankless foreign aquifers. Sad.

      1. Procopius

        It comes from their local aquifers. You don’t think they load up KC-135s with water from California or Wisconson and fly it to Bahrain, do you? However, we might be depriving some Bedouin families of the former oasis they used to rely on while moving their herd of goats to a different grassy area.

  2. Jason Boxman

    On radioactivity, says Carter:

    “And finally when we went down into the reactor itself, which was extremely radioactive, then we would dash in there as quickly as we could and take off as many bolts as we could, the same bolts we had just been practicing on. Each time our men managed to remove a bolt or fitting from the core, the equivalent piece was removed on the mock-up.”

    Seems like the prequel to Chernobyl, where as reenacted in the HBO miniseries, Russian soldiers rush onto the roof of the damaged reactor to push hunks of graphite from the core itself over the side of the building, and essential element of containing the tragedy. Each group of men were allocated like 30 seconds to get out and back to minimize exposure. The radiation is so intense, it destroys the German robot the Russians ordered to complete the task to avoid human casualties as soon as it is activated. It’s worth watching, I think.

  3. Jabberwocky

    New rule of thumb for media:
    If a Covid death(s) is(are) announced, assume they are vaccinated,
    because if they are not vaccinated, it will be announced loudly, probably within the first two lines.

    1. The Rev Kev

      They don’t even seem to be using that hoary old excuse about them having pre-existing medical conditions.

  4. Andrew

    This article published today explains a lot of the omicron weirdness I have started to see online in the last day or two: https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/12/the-media-variant-hits-new-york-city.html

    Yesterday, I jumped in line at my local City MD, at Lexington and 79th. By the time I got swabbed two hours later, the blue check mafia had worked itself into a full-on Omicron meltdown. What remained of the media-holiday-party industrial complex collapsed in a single afternoon.

    It began, as these things often do, in the group chats. Everyone seemed to know someone who’d tested positive that very morning. Suddenly, it all spilled on to Twitter. “we’re calling the wave of COVID currently ravaging Brooklyn ‘The Media Variant,’” tweeted BuzzFeed’s Julia Reinstein. Business Insider’s Jake Swearingen wrote: “you have about 12 hours left to get covid if you want to stay on trend.” The writer Jamie Lauren Keiles: “everyone who is anyone has covid right now.”

    Podcast czar Lydia Polgreen tried to de-escalate, tweeting, “I don’t think this means shutting back down. I think it has to mean accepting that getting COVID is just a thing that’s going to happen to all of us, so behave accordingly (and get vaccinated).” But it was too late. In true media fashion, the finger pointing soon began. One person tweeted that he must’ve caught the variant at an LCD Soundsystem show on Thursday and that he was “choosing to blame the awful, coked-out group behind me.” Surely the most inane attempt at an Omicron-shaming came from Bryan Goldberg’s resurrected Gawker, which posted a so-called “blind item” that asked simply: “Which media company’s very large holiday party resulted in a rash of COVID diagnoses?”

    Hmmm, maybe all of them? BuzzFeed had a big one on West 26th Street. As Nate Freeman reported in his Vanity Fair column, the Architectural Digest folks partied at Dr. Clark and Larry Gagosian threw a shindig at his mansion on the Upper East Side. This magazine had its holiday party last week, too, just off Union Square.

    Media scolds, perhaps buzzing off an afternoon hit of Blue Bottle, were starting to freak everyone out. Jake Tapper tweeted a picture of CNN’s Christmas sweater contest, affixed with this nervous parenthetical: “Everyone is vaccinated and we took masks off for the photos.” An editor hosting a holiday dinner on Saturday messaged me to say “we will probably cancel/reschedule the party once omicron has culled the weak and only the strong remain.” Pete Wells wrote that one of his top ten restaurants of 2021, Contento, in East Harlem, was closing “for a couple of days in an abundance of caution.” Marea closed its doors, too. By the next morning, the New Yorker’s Charles Duhigg would send around an email with this subject line: “CANCELLED: Drinks with Journalists: December 16, Brooklyn.” (Even though it was always meant to take place outdoors.) An afternoon report from the Daily News detailed how a whole bureau of the Manhattan District Attorney’s office was in quarantine after a holiday party.

    “Don’t Be Surprised When You Get Omicron,” admonished a new headline in the Atlantic. Ok, I thought, I won’t. Shuffling forward a few places in line, I began to tick off the last few days of media partying in my head and wondered if my migraine was more than the usual mid-week hangover. Monday was a movie premiere at MoMA with an after-party at the Polo Bar. Tuesday, the Irish Consulate on Park Avenue. And still to come: Midtown Christmas lunches and magazine parties and whatever else I’d blindly RSVP’d to.

    But of course I’ve had to cancel all that. I had COVID, too.

    The media class has been embarrassed by their own lack of precautions, so suddenly we are seeing, “Don’t Be Surprised When You Get Omicron.” “Well, Guess It’s About Time to Get COVID.” Surely these people must see how dangerous this sort of flippant fatalism is, especially just ahead of the holidays?

    1. TBellT

      Does it really matter? Most non-media people gave into this flippant fatalism months ago from what I’ve seen. No one’s taking their cues from the media on this.

      1. Robert Hahl

        Everyone I know takes their cues from the media, even the smart ones, e.g., “They say omicron is mild. Of course it’s too early to tell, but it’s probably mild.”

        1. smashsc

          Just one person’s datapoint:
          Alpha > Delta > Beta > Omicron
          (I hope this is the last one, getting tired of this!)

        2. TBellT

          People in my sphere were saying everyone was going to get it months and life needs to go on before omicron even appeared on the scene. If you’re in an incredibly cautious plugged in liberal enclave maybe it took a while for that thinking to set in. But the broader public trust of the media is at an all time low, I don’t think most are paying attention.

          1. ScoFri

            We should not trust the media regarding COVID. Case in point:

            Victorian child becomes youngest Australian to die with Covid as NT cases rise

            Sounds like COVID killed the child, yes?

            When you read the article however:

            A Victorian child under 10 has become Australia’s youngest person to die with Covid-19.

            Victoria reported 1,166 new coronavirus infections on Saturday and five new deaths, including the child. Victoria’s health department said the child had “other serious comorbidities”.

            Previously, 15-year-old Osama Suduh from south-west Sydney was the youngest known person in Australia to die with the virus.

            The teenager from south-west Sydney died in August after contracting pneumococcal meningitis, and while he was also Covid-positive it was not the reason for his hospitalisation or death.

            Clear as mud. But the 15 year old previously did not die from COVID, they only died with COVID. The new child, they never really make it clear. Yet the average reader will assume they both died of COVID.

            1. Basil Pesto

              The question with the under 10 year old, then, is whether he would have died if Covid wasn’t circulating freely in Victoria. DHHS in Vic clearly have an interest in obfuscating on that front. Because they are partly responsible for that, and if Covid can be medically tied to cause of death, then what you have is 1/5 an avoidable bouncy castle tragedy, though it will never be put in those terms.

    2. Mikel

      Large numbers of people constantly catching and spreading a virus that is deadly to others can’t be spun into “new normal.”

      They sound desperate.

  5. Wukchumni

    “Bottle service and a Bitcoin ATM: This new Miami Beach club promises a VIP experience” [Miami Herald]. “You’re at a club in South Beach. You settle into a plush banquette while your friends take Instagram photos in front of a neon “Bitch, don’t kill my vibe” sign. Bottle service arrives! Everyone raises a toast as cryogenic effects waft across the stage and theatrical aerial artists strike a pose.

    I’m just guessing, but i’d imagine the Bitcoin punters on the whole never had much more than a few Nickels to rub together, and all of the sudden they’re rich, although i’d think many are HODL*’ing and haven’t taken profits off the table, and when the hammer comes down on crypto they’ll be extremely upset cry(pto)ing over spilled online milk, ought to be interesting to watch them go apeshit.

    * Hold On (for) Dear Life

  6. Louis Fyne

    —“Democrats have been sending hundreds of dollars every month to each of the roughly 40 percent of U.S. households that have kids under 18, yet in an NPR/Marist poll released last week, only 17 percent of voters said their family had ever received a monthly payment—

    Only ~25% of US households have <18 kids (by the way, literally an all-time low since records were kept). 17% of voters saying that their family received a payment isn't unreasonable.

    Just saying.

    1. cocomaan

      It’s complicated by the fact that… it’s complicated.

      For instance, if you had a child this year, you don’t get any payments after their birth, SSN issuance, etc. You have to wait until your tax return is filed to claim it. I’m sure there’s more fine print to it, too.

      1. Even keel

        A couple of things about these payments.

        1- they make them by direct deposit in large part. A couple hundred bucks might be missed by many who do not closely balance every month.

        2- not sure what “voters” refers to. If it refers to “people who actually vote” remember that number is ~1/2 the total pop, and skews old.

        3- the “payments” part of it is ridiculous marketing. They could just reduce the amount withheld from paychecks. Ie, enhance the value of claimed exemptions. Would take less paperwork and bureaucrats. And maybe people would actually notice when their “big” payment is a few hundred light.

        Anyway, my view based on my circumstances. Ymmv

    2. Procopius

      Something doesn’t add up. If they’re sending monthly checks to 40% of households, and only 25% of US households have kids under 18, somebody’s getting free money. Why can’t Biden send me the other $600 he promised? If only 17% of voters got checks, it sounds like a case for law enforcement. It also sounds like voters are not going to be sold on the story of how much the Democrats have done for them.

  7. Michael Fiorillo

    How could carbon capture pipelines possibly be an “extravagantly bad idea?”

    What, with capturing, compressing, transporting and storing the carbon from ethanol plants that are net energy losers (and a moral shandah, for growing food for use as fuel) it sounds like perpetual motion machine… Jackpot, baby!

    1. Duke of Prunes

      Who best to jump on the scam of carbon pipelines than those scam pros already in the ethanol business? Just when I thought the old ethanol scam was running out of steam, they’ve put another layer on top. Is this the “layered approach” people keep talking about on this site?

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Well, given that the corn grown for taxpayer-subsidized alchohol is petrochemical GMO sh*tcorn, maybe even full of Roundup residue, it isn’t really food in any event. Maybe it is just barely ” phuud”.

    3. Henry Moon Pie

      These juxtaposed articles from today’s WC illustrate the problem nicely:

      co-Chief Executive Jim Teague said. ‘We’re not going to do it for the hell of it. There has to be a business there

      Researchers regularly ask him for data, he said, and he always obliges. I would say it’s because I care about others and want to help them,” Barr said. “But it’s mostly because I’ve never had a social life, so what else do I have to do?”

      Mr. CEO oilman has no interest in keeping the planet habitable for billions of humans. It’s all about the Benjamins for him. Meanwhile, a hermit living high in the mountains cares about his fellow humans–though he sees them rarely–and spends most of his time doing something socially useful. And he’s humble and self-effacing about it to boot.

      The people with no power will have to lead us out of this because the people with power are too twisted to meet their responsibilities.

  8. Objective Ace

    Finally, and related to the first point, we would have to understand the near-vertical rise and sudden leveling off of cases. I don’t recall a pattern like that before.

    Perhaps, prior patterns have been akin to a “frog boiling in the water”. The increase was slow enough people could ignore it. Its pretty tough not to notice being thrown into a fire–see Cornell example–so people change their behavior. To stick with the Cornell example: students are taking multiple tests daily before deciding if its safe to travel back home and the faculty cancelling graduation and in person tests.

  9. PHLDenizen

    Before delving into the current political dynamics in the Senate, it’s worth reviewing the downsides of the Democrats’ defiance of Manchin purely on the merits.

    Right now, Democrats have a rare opportunity to permanently expand the American welfare state. Merely supplying permanent funding for the enhanced CTC would lift millions of U.S. children out of poverty a year, in perpetuity. Establishing universal prekindergarten or closing the Medicaid gap would be a similarly laudable achievement.

    I loathe this framing because a) the noun “welfare” has been mutilated into a nuclear weapon against social safety nets and their beneficiaries; b) I disagree that there is any downside to bludgeoning Manchin to pass a social safety net that isn’t made of razor wire.

    These “journalists”. Dumb geboren, nichts dazugelernt. Culpable for their own political malpractice and credentialed to the point of willful blindness.

    1. Objective Ace

      “Target cannot stock parkas, mittens and snow boots all through June, July and August, because they need the shelf space for sunscreen and swimsuits,” Saphire said.

      They are getting dangerously close to saying that boosters maybe arent such a good idea. Just like Target gets rid of things it needs the extra room for.. maybe your body is trying to do the same thing (and millions of years of evolution have selected for). Also, a lot of talk about T-cells and how antibodies dont really matter anyway. FB or twitter should probably slap an anti-vax tag on them

  10. drumlin woodchuckles

    About WHO and its ongoing deliberate malicious suppression of airborne covid transmission knowledge, I once again suggest that WHO has a secret agenda of deliberately causing covid to spread to every single person on earth, and I respectfully suggest that this hypothesis be taken seriously as a way to understand WHO’s deliberate knowledge-suppression actions in this regard.

  11. clarky90

    Re; “Fewer hospitalizations……..”

    Why would patients voluntarily go to hospitals, knowing that they were overcrowded, poorly ventilated, full of various viri/bacteria/fungi, staffed by the overworked/underpaid? Also, knowing that they, likely, would be denied access to many of the effective therapies?…..

    Speaking as a septuagenarian, with many older friends, imo, it is toileting when sick that is an important determinate in the decisions made by the sick, and/or by their family/caregivers, re “hospilization”.

    If when sick, you decide to shelter at home, how will you get to the toilet? How do you deal with vomiting? with defacation? with urination? How about night time when your carers are away or asleep? What if you are on your own????

    If you are sick, but mobile (easily and quickly, get up from bed and to a toilet), it is not such a problem.

    But, if you are very ill, less conscious and getting sicker? Can you ask friends and family to clean you up after accidents? How long will you have to wait to be cleaned up? It is often a dignity problem.

    Always, during my life, when I get sick, I stop eating (fasting) . It is easy, because I lose my appetite. There are many health benefits to fasting, but I will not touch on them now.

    However, if you stop eating, you stop pooping. If you vomit, there is much less stomach content to come up. Urination becomes the problem; but it is much easier to deal with ….

    I have never seen this topic addressed before? My guess is that many many people would choose to stay out of hospital, nursing homes, even hospices, if they had more controle over their bodily functions?

    How many people have chosen voluntary (?) euthanasia, merely because of unmitigated humiliation?

    I have gone as long as 6 or 7 weeks without eating, and every week was easier than the last. Your body burns about 300 grams of stored body fat per day. So, if you are carrying, say, 10 kgs of extra body fat, you are good to go for a month of fasting.

    Angus Barbieri’s fast

    1. clarky90

      Please, consider learning to skip eating for a day, or two or three? You won’t “starve to death”, irrespective of the helpful dietary advice from “The Big Junk Food”. (A wholly controlled subsidiary of The Vanguard Group)

      In most cases, a day or two of fasting will see you through the hard times. Your body can exclusively focus on getting well.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      How do you avoid consuming body protein ( muscle tissue, internal organ tissue, etc.) at the same time as you are consuming fat?

      1. clarky90

        The 2016 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

        Yoshinori Ohsumi

        for his discoveries of mechanisms for autophagy


        Benefits of Autophagy, Plus How to Induce It

        “Even in a healthy human body, cells are constantly becoming damaged as a normal part of metabolic processes. However, as we age, experience stress, and deal with more and more free radical damage, our cells become damaged at an increased rate.

        This is where autophagy comes in: It helps to clear damaged cells from the body, including senescent cells that serve no functional purpose but still linger inside tissues and organs. The reason it’s so important to remove senescent and damaged cells is because they can trigger inflammatory pathways and contribute to various diseases.

        The word ‘autophagy’ was coined more than four decades ago and is derived from the Greek words “auto” (meaning self) and “phagy” (meaning eating)…..”


        Eventually we run out of junk protein to recycle, and start metabolizing our muscle mass (starvation) (bad!). You need to start eating at this point. It is surprising how long it can be until you reach that point!

      2. PlutoniumKun

        Its a complex area, but there is quite a lot of research on this. Peter Attia writes a lot on the topic. For non-athletes, I believe the evidence is that while you do lose muscle mass during fasting, it recovers very fast so long as you eat and exercise correctly after the fast. It may be different though for older people, I think there isn’t a lot of research on this. Dr. Valter Longo is also a good source on this.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          One wonders if there is just enough of the right kind of excercise one could do during the fast to encourage the body to bias its calorie burning to even more preferentially fat calories.

          1. Late Introvert

            I would suggest this might be done simply by responding to appetite urges. For people who already know that you don’t need to eat on a regular schedule at all, and have tuned their brains to their stomach.

            I don’t want to eat eggs often but boy when I do, my body tells me. On the other hand it says it likes cheese most every day. I might be fooling myself, but approaching 60 and on no pharma and very fit. Exercise is a must too, but I can’t imagine how it would effect calorie choice in the body.

            Just agreeing that a regular fasting approach is good. Will try @clarky90’s 3 day thing next time I’m sick. But that hasn’t occurred since March of 2020 when I started staying home and masking in public. The same is true for my teenager, who got colds 3-5x/year before that.

      3. Procopius

        Drumlin Woodchuckles
        Years ago, when I used to follow the Usenet News group alt.fitness, the answer from the body builders was, “You don’t.” When you’re eating you add both fat and protein; when you fast you lose both, and just hope you lose more of the fat than the muscle. Also, it’s genetic.

    1. Arizona Slim

      The final graf hits the proverbial nail on the head. Quoting from the Harlots:

      “I can’t predict the future. I don’t know who the Republicans are going to nominate, or what he or she is going to run on. I can guarantee you, however, that any gestures they make toward economic populism or civi libertarianism will be fully and completely empty. But I’ll be very surprised if they don’t make these gestures. If the Democrats attempt to counter with nothing but white guilt, pronoun bullshit, and the intraversability of identity differences they will lose by historic margins. And, shit, I’m pretty sure that’s what’s going to happen.”

    2. Soredemos

      “Nor are we going to get racially means tested UBI”

      Why would this be desirable? And how would you go about determining who gets what?

      The Spanish colonial La Casta system of gauging mullatos, but woke!

      1. enoughisenough

        I think the author of the article is for universal programs, not means testing. Some people are arguing for targeted programs, though, and no, it’s NOT desirable.

        I think the point is, it would not be good, but we’re not getting that either. It would still be a gesture of governmental help, and Dems are peddling furiously to avoid any appearance of such.

  12. fresno dan

    The name “millipede” translates to a thousand feet (from mille “thousand” and pes “foot”). However, no millipede has ever been described with more than 750 legs. We discovered a new record-setting species of millipede with 1,306 legs, Eumillipes persephone, from Western Australia. This diminutive animal (0.95 mm wide, 95.7 mm long) has 330 segments, a cone-shaped head with enormous antennae, and a beak for feeding. A distant relative of the previous record holder, Illacme plenipes from California, it belongs to a different order, the Polyzoniida. Discovered 60 m below ground in a drill hole created for mineral exploration, E. persephone possesses troglomorphic features; it lacks eyes and pigmentation, and it has a greatly elongated body—features that stand in stark contrast to its closest surface-dwelling relatives in Australia and all other members of its order.

        1. Procopius

          If I understand Richard Dawkins correctly, color and eyes aren’t impediments but they’re uesless, and the segment(s) of DNA that provide the blueprint for them can be used for other things that might be useful.

  13. fresno dan

    The inspection report painted a bleak picture of life inside Northpointe Healthcare Centre in Fresno: Residents grimaced in pain from bedsores. Staff told inspectors they were stretched so thin they sometimes skipped treatments and failed to distribute medications. One resident was hospitalized with sepsis after missing four doses of an antibiotic, the report stated.

    After multiple visits in early 2018, state inspectors slapped the 99-bed facility with an “immediate jeopardy” deficiency, the type reserved for the most egregious incidents in nursing homes. Then the federal government levied a massive fine: $912,404, the largest penalty given to any California nursing home in at least a decade, according to a CalMatters analysis of federal data.
    Information about nursing home quality has become so opaque at the federal level that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services offered four alternate explanations to CalMatters for its processes — then suddenly reversed itself last week and started posting previously missing fines.
    In theory, plenty of safeguards exist.

  14. Screwball

    “White House unveils plan to replace every lead pipe in the U.S.”

    Really? These people are long on BS and short on math. But it’s all they have.

    1. curlydan

      C’mon man, it’s a plan (haha). That doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. We’ve just got a plan for it.

      Kind of like “fighting for” something. It doesn’t mean we’re going to win or try to win, we just have to show a smidgen of fight.

    2. Nikkikat

      Lol, Screwball, I had a good laugh over that too. Really Joe? Do you think Manchin and the parliamentarian will allow that? Fixing lead pipes would cost too much and West Virginians really love their lead in the drinking water. Not to mention starting those tweets from Elon Musk again about his taxes. Maybe Neera Tanden can come up with new headline for you.

      1. Screwball

        I’m in Ohio, but I used to go to Michigan dozens of times a year. St. Joe/Benton Harbor area. I read the other day they have a water pipe problem. Sounds similar to Flint, and countless cities across the country IMO.

        The area is on the lake, neat tourist areas, Mothership home known by the ticker WHR, and a championship rated golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus not too many years ago.

        You get off the neat parts and it isn’t pretty.

        Screw your water.

      1. Late Introvert

        Be convinced by the fact it stretches from the farms of Amnerika through Mexico and on into SE Asia. Also all the factories shipped to China. Forced? Depends on your definition.

    1. The Rev Kev

      In other unrelated news, Californian almond growers book cargo space aboard the first ship there.

  15. Reader_In_Cali

    A friend of mine who recently relocated to NYC was freaking out yesterday because he says he is feeling “March 2020” vibes, as COVID is going nuts right now, especially among young people. His office is going back to 50% capacity and mandatory masking.

    This is not scientific, but I wonder if TikTok is a leading indicator of infection. If so, expect NYC’s numbers to go vertical, as it seems the Santacon bar crawl was a gigantic superspreading event over the weekend. *face palm*

    Here are links to the tiktoks he sent me and was freaking out about (apparently his entire fyp was filled with vids about covid) Click on the comments and read. Hoo boy, as Lambert would say. Please stay safe everyone!


  16. Wukchumni

    Springsteen sold the rights to his body of music for $500 million, and could somebody explain to me where the value is, in that recorded music is worth approx nothing as far as I can tell.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Take this for what it is worth-

      ‘Don’t vote for Democrats or Republicans
      Bruce Springsteen’s daughter has a $30 million horse ranch in New Jersey and pays $0 in property tax. True story’



      Replying to
      Tom Cruse had a $40 million dollar home in Colorado, paid little to nothing in property taxes’


      This while Colorado was slashing funds for education.

      1. SteveB

        The property tax rules for AG properties has been in effect for as long as I can remember in my home State of NJ. Not carved out for the Springsteen’s.. But is used by a lot of wealthy to lower tax liability. In some cases growing Xmas trees and selling as little as $500/ years qualifies..
        Whether one agrees with the policy or not, it is not a Springsteen carve out………..

        Springsteen also owns a horse farm in Fl. As his daughters passion has been horses since she was a child. And she made the US Olympic team… Ergo she must have talent and determination in addition to a wealthy, loving Father.

        Springsteen put Asbury Park NJ back on the map after the early 70’s riots. His continuing support
        lead to it’s rebirth, He has actively supported local charities with both financial and personal backing.He regularly shows up in local bars and plays with local bands which gives a boost to both the bar and the band… His also employs locals on both his farm and musical endeavors. IMO his contribution to Monmouth County NJ far outweighs any property tax break the farm got from existing NJ law.

        And I remember when he was playing for the door at local bars. Admission was $1

        1. Yves Smith

          Horses are one of the favorite tax shelters of the top wealthy. Supporting that is akin to supporting Elon Musk paying no Federal income taxes. They are different aspects of the same picture.

          1. orlbucfan

            Absolutely correct. They don’t call horse racing “The Sport of Kings” cos it’s a joke. Horses are very expensive pets. I’m a horse fan, and I know middle class folks who owned and cared for them.

  17. fresno dan

    ‘But U.S. multinationals and their lobbyists 20 years ago knew that was not true. Their goal from the beginning was to transfer the production of many products from American soil to Mexican soil or Chinese soil, to take advantage of foreign low-wage, nonunion labor, and in some cases foreign government subsidies and other favors.’

    America’s rulers intended that its companies engage in China; the upside was a huge reduction in global poverty, but it didn’t hurt that it would also enrich many, already-wealthy and well-connected Americans. They also knew it would immiserate many of their countrymen by offshoring America’s manufacturing base, leaving huge numbers unemployed and left in despair. Globalisation’s atomised, lonely winners turned to politics as their opiate; globalisation’s losers turned to actual opiates.
    Lind is part of the conservative Left, those who believe that ‘progressivism’ is now overtly the creed of a ruling class; that it has almost nothing to offer American workers, and its supporters are too distracted by their iPhones to care about boring subjects like poverty and wages rather than attention-grabbing identity issues. They tend to agree with Marx’s famous dictum that ‘the ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas’, and that today’s progressivism is a form of class war.

    You might think it unfortunate that this great economic shock occurred at a point when the people most hammered by globalisation were also becoming the least socially prestigious, but then perhaps the two trends are linked. The contempt for the rural poor, for ‘white men’ and small-c conservatives rubes isn’t exactly new, but it has accelerated in the Chimerican age. Perhaps it’s in some ways a defence mechanism, because it’s easier to push away moral qualms about impoverishing your countrymen if you can condemn them as racists, bigots and losers, and convince yourself that you have no more obligation to them than to anyone else on earth.

  18. Etrigan

    had a weird thought. If hospitals across the board and institutions and transit are not implementing airborne precautions on their own even to this day, and with infections becoming runaway quickly from super spreader events, could some of the spark flare ups that happen in very particular regions derive from when -particular- conscientious employees or supervisors quit or are out of commission? That seems like an outlandish exponent but I keep thinking about it.

    1. rowlf

      Safe And Effective, until it isn’t.

      Some of us have seen this movie before. Go ahead and ask me if I am enjoying my mandatory vaccine side effects.

  19. DGL

    ‘This is b******t’: Manchin snaps after Dems blame him for killing Biden’s hopes of passing Build Back Better this year

    Watching the Democratic Party in action this year Building Back Better, my mind substitutes Cher’s voice belting out “If I could Turn Back Time”. It works no matter what the particular events of the day may be.

    If I could turn back time
    If I could find a way
    I’d take back those words that hurt you
    If I could reach the stars
    I’d give ’em all to you
    Then you’d love me, love me, like you used to do

    …….please love me Joe (Manchen)

  20. wendigo

    The crown corporation running Chalk River is now overseeing a primarily American company that actually runs the operation now.

    Brought in to introduce ” private sector efficiencies ” to the management of Canada’s nuclear liabilities and environmental cleanup.

    1st action. Elimination of coffee breaks.

    Our American boss told me as I was quiting that they never realized how the Canadian health care system allowed people to retire before 65 or quit without the fear of losing company subsidized health insurance.

  21. Wukchumni

    O Money Tree! O Money Tree!
    Much pleasure thou can’st give me;
    O Money Tree! O Money Tree!
    Much pleasure thou can’st give me;
    How often has the Money tree
    Afforded me the greatest glee!
    O Money Tree! O Money Tree!
    Not gonna happen without BBB

    O Money Tree! O Money Tree!
    Thy Manchin said no delightedly
    O Money Tree! O Money Tree!
    Thy Sinema said no way Jose
    From base to top, no trillions tonight
    There’s splendor for the right.
    O Money Tree! O Money Tree!
    Our hopes once shined so brightly!

    O Money Tree! O Money Tree!
    How richly it was supposed to be
    O Money Tree! O Money Tree!
    How richly BBB was meant to be
    Thou bidst us true and faithful be,
    And trust in politicians unchangingly.
    O Money Tree! O Money Tree!
    How come somebody cut down thee!

  22. The Rev Kev

    “A giant ‘black box’ will gather all climate data for future civilizations to learn from”

    Yeah, about that. All those hard drives that they are recording al this wonderful data on? I think that they will find that after a century those hard drives will degrade to the point where they are totally and irretrievably unreadable and can’t even be spun up. In fact, after 5 years in storage they are already going to start to degrade. Here is a page describing the problems with long term storage-


  23. LawnDart

    [See Photo!!!]

    US President Joe Biden meets with members of the White House Covid-19 Response Team in Washington, December 16, 2021.


    I am linking not for the article, but for the picture: isn’t he fully vaccinated? Even boosted?

    Didn’t he say, on 5/13/21: “Just a few hours ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — the CDC — announced that they are no longer recommending that fully vaccinated people need wear masks.  This recommendation holds true whether you are inside or outside.”

    Has he lost confidence in the vaccine or just in the CDC?

  24. MichaelC

    Anecdata from front line Emergency Nurse at Queens NYC Elmhurst Hospital :
    (Caveat to skeptics, this is hearsay, but from one source we locally trust for veracity as the commentariat here trust IM Doc and GM as they’ve been proven right, as has my friend.)

    Emergency room is full(er) than it has been since wave 1.
    Positive testing spike in Queens mirrors Cornell spike.
    Few showing up at the hospital so far, are ending up in critical care.
    The entire nursing staff assume they’ve been exposed. And are surviving.

    The consensus nursing view, per him and his peers, is that this is already widespread.

    So if infection spikes don’t lead to death spikes then perhaps we can rethink our health strategy policy

    1. Mikel

      Scientists are still studying the disturbing number of mutations with omicron and what the means for the evolution of the virus and other variants.
      It’s not “symptoms” that have them worried.

      1. Yves Smith

        Huh? As this transmission rate, even a less severe Omicron, which is still not proven, will crush hospitals all over the world ex China. The modeling from Denmark (which unlike the US does a good job with data) say if you look as infections v. hospitalization for Omicron, the BEST scenario (which in the model is fast time to wind up in the hospital if you are gonna wind up there) put the case to hospitalization ratio on par with Delta, not better.

  25. VietnamVet

    The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the utter incompetence and corruption of the western corporate state. The failed response to the fourth delta wave plummeted Joe Biden’s ratings although the pundits express bewilderment at the fall. They never point out that Boris Johnson and Joe Biden are corporate poodles. The looming fifth Omicron wave is impossible to ignore.

    The rot has completely engulfed the western system. I had to freeze my credit ratings after TD Bank mailed to me, unsolicited, a visa debit card and checks with my Maryland home address and a Paducah KT telephone number. Wells Fargo lives on, copied, just as Enron’s legacy froze Texas last winter and skyrocketed EU’s natural gas prices this fall.

    Brian Williams signed off MSNBC’s “The 11th Hour” for the final time, warning ‘They’ve Decided to Burn It All Down – With Us Inside’. Only restoration of democracy and the rule of law (CEOs serving jail time for manslaughter) will save western civilization.

    1. Tom Bradford

      You’ll obviously be surprised to hear that the USA and ‘western civilisation’ are not different ways of saying the same thing. There are still plenty of nation-states that are not the USA which if not perfect are still pretty safe, cultured, believe in society and see ‘western civilisation’ as the best of the alternatives on offer and work towards it.

      1. Brian Beijer

        There are still plenty of nation-states that are not the USA which if not perfect are still pretty safe, cultured, believe in society and see ‘western civilisation’ as the best of the alternatives on offer and work towards it.

        Please cite a source for this. I live in Sweden, one of those not-USA, “western civilisation” countries. Sweden was regarded as the socialist model for Western civilisation 50 years ago. Nowadays, we are far ahead of even the US in the elites’ quest for neo-liberal market “solutions” to all of society’s problems. We have a welfare state in name only whose primary goal seems to be to create new rules and regulations to deny care to it’s citizens. Meanwhile our parliment is busy trying to privatize everything, or better yet creating “public-private partnerships” to funnel tax dollars to their friends and former collegues. I can’t imagine that less left-leaning countries have fared better than Sweden.

        1. Tom Bradford

          “Source” implies an objective statement which, of course, doesn’t exist. My suggestion is that, compared to the US (which I would underline if I could), and it seems Sweden, there are many countries in which ‘western civilisation’ is not on the verge of collapsing.

          Of course it all depends on what one means by ‘western civilisation’. It seems to me that to you it equates with a socialist utopia. Yet I would suggest that ‘western civilisation’ is the result of Ancient Greek ideas as incorporated (badly) into the Roman Empire, redefined over a thousand years by the Roman Church during the Dark Ages, reborn in somewhat idealised form in the English and French Revolutions into a dream the US has picked up and run with according to its own lights. In practically all that time what you are now calling ‘neo-liberalism’ was the order of the day, ie what you call ‘the welfare state’ didn’t exist. It was every man for himself and charity was the best there was if you couldn’t provide for yourself.

          I don’t know much about Sweden, and what you say does surprise me tho’ I believe it has always been the furthest to the right of the Scandinavian countries. In its response to Covid it certainly went its own way with a ‘you’re on your own’ approach. I do know something about Denmark as my wife is a Dane, and a little about Norway and as far as I am aware while the seeds exist there is nothing like the rot there that you describe. Whether that rot can take hold and spread depends on the people and from what I know of the Danes it will be resisted.

          But in more general terms I take the defining values of ‘western civilisation’ to be pretty much as set out in the US Bill of Rights and would agree with anyone maintaining that in the US and the UK under the Tories they are becoming just pretty words to go over the gate, but there are still plenty of places where they are genuinely believed in and taken as a basis for government.

  26. The Rev Kev

    I hope that Europe does not have a severe winter and are hanging out for the gas from Nord Stream 2 to bring down prices because that is not going to happen anytime soon. So, maybe the second half of next year? Maybe. Germany’s new foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, has said that it was built into the coalition agreement that as things stand with that pipeline, it cannot be approved. I get the sense that she wants the whole project abandoned which would leave Germany on the hook for paying back the costs of that project for failing to fulfill their end of the deal-


  27. drumlin woodchuckles

    I know there are bigger things to think about than ” the eeeemaillllzzz of January 6th” but perhaps they are worth just a thought or two.

    In case anyone wants to spare a thought or two to . . . “the emails” . . . . here are two Beau of the Fifth Column 4-5 minutes video-talks, for which no transcripts exist, which address . . . ” the emails” . . .
    just in case anyone wants to listen.


    and . . .


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