2:00PM Water Cooler 12/2/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Another one of Darwin’s finches.

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

Vaccination by region:

Rebounding from Thanksgiving data problems.

59.4% of the US is fully (doubly) vaccinated (CDC data, as of December 1. Mediocre by world standards, being just below Estonia, and just above Thailand in the Financial Times league tables as of this Monday). Big jump as we catch up with the long weekend data. No change from last week, but I assume that’s a holiday data issue.

Case count by United States regions:

Rebounding after the Thanksgiving drop.

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

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One of the sources of the idea that Covid is on the way out, I would speculate, is the CDC’s modeling hub (whose projections also seem to have been used to justify school re-opening). Here is the current version of the chart from the CDC modeling hub, which aggregates the results of eight models in four scenarios, with the last run (“Round 9”) having taken place on 2021-08-30, and plots current case data (black dotted line) against the aggregated model predictions (grey area), including the average of the aggregated model predictions (black line). I have helpfully highlighted the case data discussed above:

(Note that the highlighted case data is running behind the Johns Hopkins data presented first.) Now, it’s fair to say that the upward trend in case data (black dotted line) is still within the tolerance of the models; it does not conform to the models’ average (black line), but it stays within the grey area (aggregated predictions) It’s also true that where we see an upward trend in the predicted case data (lower right quadrant) it’s much later than where we are now. It’s too early to say “Dammit, CDC, your models were broken”; but it’s not too soon to consider the possibility that they might be. The case data still looks like it’s trying to break out of the grey area. We shall see.

MWRA (Boston-area) wastewater detection, now updated after Thanksgiving:

Yikes. The students left for vacation, and brought their viral loads back?

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. Updated December 2:

This would be remarkably good news, if true. I think it’s a reporting artifact.

The previous release:

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile), also December 2:

I have helpfully highlighted the states where the “trend” arrow points up in yellow, and where it is vertical, in orange. Note that Massachusetts is vertical. We detected a rise first in wastewater data, then in case data, now in hospitalizations. So there are times when the data is good. Just not all the time!

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 805,013 803,186. At this rate, I don’t think we’ll hit the million mark by New Year’s.

Excess deaths (total, not only from Covid), now 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 the United States. Needless to see, this is a public health debacle. It’s the public health establishment’s duty to take care of public health, not the health of certain favored political factions. Also adding: I like a death rate because it gives me a rough indication of my risk should I, heaven forfend, end up in a hospital.)

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

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

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

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

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

Biden Administration

“‘We are pulling out all the stops’: White House details strategies to combat delta, omicron variants” [WaPo]. “Biden is set to formally unveil the plan at the National Institutes of Health Thursday afternoon [that’s today!] in a speech that is part of a broader effort to reassure Americans that the nation is equipped to handle the new variant…. Another major plank of Biden’s plan is enabling Americans covered by private health insurance to be reimbursed for purchasing rapid, at-home coronavirus test kits. Officials said the plan, which calls for the departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and Treasury to issue federal guidance by Jan. 15, would not apply retroactively to already purchased tests.” • Nothing — hold onto your hats here, folks — on ventilation or aerosol transmission, so the headline is false. As for the complicated and incomplete test kit plan:

“Biden nearly ended the drone war, and nobody noticed” [The Week]. “Our infamous drone war has largely faded from the headlines. Aside from one strike that went horribly wrong during the U.S. evacuation from Afghanistan, there has been vanishingly little coverage of what’s going on with the signature American tactic of the war on terror: remote-controlled death robots. So I was rather taken aback to discover President Biden has almost totally halted drone strikes, and airstrikes in general, around the world. It’s a remarkable foreign policy reform, but also a remarkable failure of both government communication and media coverage. A hugely significant change in foreign policy has happened — and almost nobody is paying attention.” • One more reason Biden is better than Obama was.

“Symone Sanders, Top Aide to Harris, Will Soon Leave White House” [Bloomberg]. “Symone Sanders, a top aide to Vice President Kamala Harris will depart the White House by the end of the year, according to people familiar with the matter. She has served as Harris’s spokeswoman since the beginning of the Biden administration, and has spent considerable effort in recent months beating back reports of dysfunction and disarray in the vice president’s office.” • Without success, it would seem. I wonder why?

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.

* * *

“Democrat Stacey Abrams announces 2022 bid for Georgia governor” [NBC]. “Abrams, a former Democratic leader of the General Assembly, has worked on issues related to voting rights for a decade. She became a household name in 2018, when she lost her bid for governor, accusing Republicans of engaging in voter suppression mostly affecting Black voters.” • 2018 is a long time ago. I wish I liked Abrams better, but anybody who rushes off to Washington to get on Neera Tanden’s payrolll…. Anyhow, more news from Georgia:

She might have a shot.

If anybody asks you why Democrats never embodied Roe v. Wade as legislation:

Somebody else who needs the Pro Plus package:

Obama Legacy

More Obama jokes:

Realignment and Legitimacy

I dunno….

Or not…

Yin and Yang:

Both can be true.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose to 222 thousand in the week ending November 27th, from a five-decade low of 194 thousand in the previous period and below market expectations of 240 thousand. Still, the number of new claims came in near their pre-pandemic 2019 weekly average of about 220 thousand, reflecting the continued recovery in the US labor market.”

Employment Situation: “United States Challenger Job Cuts” [Trading Economics]. “Job cuts announced by US-based companies fell 34.8 percent from a month earlier and 77 percent from a year earlier to 14,875 in November 2021, the lowest monthly total since May 1993, as companies try to keep workers amid tight labor market.”

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Shipping: “Ships in California logjam now stuck off Mexico, Taiwan and Japan” [American Shipper]. “The decline in ships waiting just offshore of Los Angeles/Long Beach continues to be touted as a sign that port congestion is easing — despite the fact that the true number of waiting ships has not actually declined…. The number of container ships at anchor or loitering within 40 miles of the ports has indeed diminished. The reason: Since mid-November, a new queuing system has encouraged ships to wait outside of a specially designated Safety and Air Quality Area (SAQA) that extends 150 miles to the west of the ports and 50 miles to the north and south. The overall queue, including container ships both inside and outside the SAQA, has not diminished. It reached a new milestone on Tuesday. For the first time, there were more container ships waiting outside the SAQA than inside the ports’ 40-mile zone. According to the Marine Exchange of Southern California, there were 44 container ships waiting within the 40-mile zone as of midday Tuesday. Based on Marine Exchange data, American Shipper estimates that there were 50 container ships waiting outside the SAQA. The total — 94 — was just shy of Monday’s all-time record of 96 (including ships outside the SAQA), and up 27% from the count on Oct. 25, the day the excess-dwell penalty plan was announced by Seroka and Cordero.”

Shipping: “Ocean Timeliness Indicator”:

The Bezzle: “Apple loses key autos engineer to electric aviation startup Archer” [CNBC]. “Michael Schwekutsch, a director of engineering in the Apple Special Projects Group that’s reportedly working on self-driving cars, has left to join electric air taxi start-up Archer as its senior VP of engineering. Schwekutsch noted the change on his LinkedIn page on Wednesday. The move is the latest example of staff turnover in Apple’s secretive car project. Former VP of special projects Doug Field left in September to lead Ford’s emerging technology efforts, a priority for the legacy automaker under its new Ford+ turnaround plan. The move also indicates that tech start-ups attacking climate issues can attract the most qualified engineers. ” • Or it indicates grifters moving on to fresh fields and pastures new.

Concentration: “Amazon’s strategy to squeeze marketplace sellers and maximize its own profits is evolving” [Recode]. “The new [Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR)] report [in yesterday’s Water Cooler]. found that Amazon’s seller fees accounted for an average of 19 percent of sellers’ earnings in 2014. That’s almost doubled to 34 percent in 2021. And while seller fees accounted for 14 percent of Amazon’s entire revenue in 2014, that figure is up to 25 percent in 2021. Amazon will pull in $121 billion from seller fees alone, ILSR estimates…. That revenue translates to a lot of profit — more than even Amazon Web Services (AWS), Amazon’s cloud computing platform typically believed to be the company’s most profitable arm. AWS netted $13.5 billion in 2020, according to Amazon’s financial data. ILSR estimates seller fees netted $24 billion. (Amazon says these figures are inaccurate but did not provide its own; the company’s public earnings statements also don’t combine seller fees in this way.) ‘Everyone thinks AWS generates all of Amazon’s profits,’ [ILSR’s Stacey] Mitchell said. ‘But in fact, Marketplace is this massive tollbooth that gushes profits.’ Seller fees primarily come from three things: sales, fulfillment, and ads. Every item sold is subject to a referral fee, which is Amazon’s commission. Over the years, that’s stayed pretty consistent at 15 percent (it may be lower or higher, depending on the product category). According to ILSR, those referral fees made up the majority of seller fees as recently as 2017. Since then, however, the majority of fees come from Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), Amazon’s service that stores, packs, and ships sellers’ items to customers. Ad revenue is steadily gaining ground as more sellers pay for more ads to get prominent placement on Amazon’s site, including on product pages and search results.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 25 Extreme Fear (previous close: 22 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 64 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Dec 2 at 12:34pm.

Health Care

“A Breath of Virus-Free Air” [MedPage Today]. “In a hospital setting, however, most infection control protocols focus on contact transmission. As its name implies, contact transmission refers to the spread of diseases through contact with infected surfaces. To mitigate this type of transmission, we wash our hands, aggressively clean surfaces, isolate sick patients, and wear personal protective equipment (PPE).” This is where Walensky comes from, and this is what she believes. More: “But the problem with these measures is they have limited ability to combat airborne pathogens, especially those that are the smallest and deadliest. In March 2018, we embarked on a 3-year journey to test a theory: that mitigating the airborne transmission of viruses and bacteria is just as important as, or more important than, measures to reduce contact transmission. St. Mary’s Hospital for Children was the laboratory for this experiment. We had no idea at the time that we would soon find ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic. Three years later, the results are in: the deployment of advanced air purification measures significantly contributed to a 45% reduction in healthcare-associated infections, according to the study recently published in the Journal of Hospital Infection. If we extrapolate those results nationally, it could mean 765,000 fewer hospital infections each year.” • Original study linked on 7/28, but worth repeating.

“KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor: September 2021” [KFF]. ” Non-elderly adults without health insurance also continue to report one of the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates of any group (54%).” • Often lost in the noise, oddly enough. Commentary:

“Omicron’s Message” [Nonzero]. “[T]he acceleration of global vaccination… is something the world’s most powerful leaders aren’t focused on. If they were focused on it, we’d be seeing the unfolding of a project that looked something like this: (1) loosening the intellectual property rights enjoyed by vaccine makers; (2) compelling them to share the know-how that would allow factories around the world to take advantage of this loosening and ramp up vaccine production; and (3) making sure, with subsidies if necessary, that (a) the vaccine makers who thus sacrifice profits are rewarded amply enough to preserve their incentive to innovate; and (b) the newly abundant vaccines are inexpensive, especially in low-income countries. So incompetent are the world’s leaders that they can’t even get to step 1 of this project.” • Incompetence is the charitable explanation.

“Why don’t we just open the windows?” [British Medical Journal]. “The world is finally coming to terms with the realisation that transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is airborne. First came the modelling studies, sizing up airborne particles, their trajectories, and viral load; and then came examples from the real world, completing the gaps in the models and confirming that the pandemic virus is chiefly spread through tiny aerosolised respiratory particles. Trying to validate this by detecting live virus, however, is fraught with technical difficulties.6 Hence, the frenetic attempts at measuring the quantity of infectious virus in breath as well as revisiting knowledge on ventilation sciences.78 While keeping your distance, wearing a mask, and getting vaccinated have provided much protection, one intervention that would have a significant impact is adequate indoor ventilation. Healthcare, homes, schools, and workplaces should have been encouraged to improve ventilation at the very beginning of the pandemic, but tardy recognition of the airborne route by leading authorities in 2020 stalled any progress that could have been made at that stage. This was compounded by controversies over the terms “droplet” and “aerosol,” as the definition of these dictates different infection prevention strategies, including type of mask. Inserting the term “ventilation” into a covid-19 policy document might appease readers, but ensuring people get enough fresh air in indoor environments seems to have fallen by the wayside.12 Why is this? Can we establish the reasons for this seemingly lethargic response to improving indoor air quality?” • Summarizing: Entrenched gatekeepers and cost. Just spitballing here, but perhaps what we need to do is establish a market in air.

“This Company Has Applied For Authorization In India For Its Nasal Spray That Prevents Covid” [Forbes]. “A team of researchers from Brazil, London and Australia collaborated with the one-year old biotech to develop the nasal spray, which is named pHOXWELL. It’s a fluid mixture that mimics the natural environment of the cells combined with a proprietary herb derivative which has natural virucidal properties, says Angela Russell, professor of medicinal chemistry from Oxford university, one of the project’s consultants. ‘You have got this dual protection action. Viruciadals that kill the virus but also it acts as a layer of protection which stops viruses from adhering and entering the cells,’ she adds. The first human trials, which were double-blind placebo studies, were conducted in India among health care workers between April and July 2021, just when the country experience a deadly second wave caused by the delta variant. The participants, none of whom were vaccinated, used the spray three times every day for 45 days. In a press release, pHOXBIO claimed the clinical trials found that among the participants who used the spray, about 18% got a symptomatic Covid infection compared to around 35% in the placebo arm. At the end of the study, 13% of participants who received the spray had antibodies for Covid, indicating they’d been infected during the trial, compared to 35% in the placebo arm. ” • Here is the press release. If the study exists, I can’t find it.


“Up all night with a Twitch millionaire: The loneliness and rage of the Internet’s new rock stars” [WaPo]. “At 26, Tyler is a millionaire and one of the Internet’s most popular streamers. For 50 hours a week, he broadcasts himself playing video games from his cramped living room in his 900-person Missouri hometown to 4.6 million followers, watching from around the world. He earns more than $200,000 a month in Twitch ads and viewer subscriptions. Sponsorships with Nike and Doritos, contracts with giant esports teams, fan donations and merchandise sales have earned him millions more. When he dropped out of college to stream, Tyler cast himself as an alpha among dweebs, known for crude banter and wild gameplay. To a generation raised by the Internet, he became bigger than a rock star: Fans pay him every month for access and intimacy, which he provides in great amounts, allowing nearly every day of his life — from his virtual battles to his most personal real-world moments — to be dissected and criticized. Streamers like Tyler form the backbone of tech giants’ ‘creator economy,’ and with their lives on permanent display, they’ve pioneered a raw form of entertainment. While Instagram and TikTok value viral perfection, Twitch fans flock to more unpolished streamers; no one can stay perfect on a 10-hour marathon. (Twitch was bought in 2014 for nearly $1 billion by Amazon, whose founder, Jeff Bezos, owns The Post.) But the punishing need to stay relevant in a supersaturated market is also fueling severe burnout. After five years of building an unapologetically aggressive persona for an audience of mostly young men, Tyler is exhausted by the expectations of an unforgiving crowd.”

“Gardening and games converge in Genius Loci, a new book about digital landscapes” [Eurogamer]. “Nobody else is doing quite what Rob Dwiar is doing. Dwiar, who works at GamesRadar as a commissioning editor, has spent much of his life as a games writer thinking about gardens. Or maybe he’s spent much of his life as a gardening writer thinking about games…. Now, Dwiar has written a book about the intersection of games and landscape. It’s called Genius Loci, and it’s currently running a campaign on Unbound. Genius Loci promises ‘a grand tour of video game landscapes and gardens.’ It’s a richly illustrated thing, a lovely chunky hardback, by the looks of it, covering everything from Assassin’s Creed to Dragon Age as it takes in the best of video game landscapes, making sense of the design choices, picking through the flora and fauna, and providing a wonderful sense of context….”

Zeitgeist Watch

“Everywhere, America” [Men Yell at Me]. “I go home that night and dress in a skeleton costume and drink with a friend in a bar that looks like another bar I was just in in Charlottesville. People aren’t dressed up for Halloween anymore, instead, I’ll think how all the white men, also kind of look like Nazis.”

Groves of Academe

A new element (DJG):

Conceptually, seems close to quantum bogodynamics.

Class Warfare

Buzzfeed walkout:

“Longer-Run Economic Consequences of Pandemics” (PDF) [Working Paper 26934, NBER]. The Abstract: “What are the medium- to long-term effects of pandemics? How do they differ from other economic disasters? We study major pandemics using the rates of return on assets stretching back to the 14th century. Significant macroeconomic after-effects of pandemics persist for about decades, with real rates of return substantially depressed, in stark contrast to what happens after wars. Our findings are consistent with the neoclassical growth model: capital is destroyed in wars, but not in pandemics; pandemics instead may induce relative labor scarcity and/or a shift to greater precautionary savings.”

What’s wrong with this picture:

News of the Wired

“A big fuss over a little word? New French pronoun ‘iel’ sparks debate” (video) [France24]. “France’s prominent Le Petit Robert dictionary, considered a linguistic authority in the country, recently added a new pronoun to its online edition. The word is ‘iel’, a gender-neutral merging of the masculine ‘il’ (he) and the feminine ‘elle’ (she). This new pronoun, intended for those who identify as neither male nor female, is already used online and by younger generations.” • I do think this is better than repurposing “they.” (“They left their skis.” How many skis? Yes, I can write around it.) To be fair, “iel” is combines euphony and meaningfulness in a way no combiation of “he” and “she” seems able to do.

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

The following may be of interest to readers who are dealing with Autumn leaves and yard cleanup. Here are two aerobic/”hot” compost piles set up from new grass/weeds and old (2020) chopped leaves. The foreground bin is a hoop of 3′ wide hardware cloth (chicken wire can also do, though it is flimsier and less good at retaining small particles) pinned at the “seam” with twigs. The background bin, a 1 yard cube, is hand-made from cedar balusters, hardware cloth, and sundry fasteners, following the “Classic Compost Bin” instructions in the Storey Publishing book, “Vegetable Gardener’s Book of Building Projects”. The four sides of the “classic” bin clip together with hook/eye latches. Both bins easily come apart and can be set up next to the pile to turn it by forking it back into the bin. There are piles of sticks and twigs at bottom, between the blocks, to provide some air intrusion into the bottom of the piles.

These were recently filled following (crudely) the “3-successive-layers-pile” recipe of a layer of carbon-rich material (“browns”), a layer of nitrogen-rich material (“greens”) and a layer of soil or mature compost; rinse and repeat. My “soil” layer is soil-like compost from cold piles that probably have weed seeds in them; hopefully these hot piles will kill the seeds.

The piles are getting hot, in spite of the cold weather. The smaller hardware cloth bin at this writing is at 135F and the bigger “classic” bin a shade below 140F. The air temperature is 50F (mid 30s the night before), so these are closing in on 100F above ambient. In Summer I imagine they would “cook” rapidly. The thermometer (2nd photo) is the low-cost backyard model from ReoTemp, a very handy tool.

Out of laziness, I have in past relied on slow/cold moldering piles — even though I made the effort to assemble the “classic bin”, I didn’t use it for years — but this experience of piles heating up and cooking down (the piles visibly shrink from day to day, I’m sure that’s mostly just settling, but I suspect it’s also partly breakdown of the materials) is very satisfying and is much quicker. My first experience, more than 20 years ago, of using badly composted material as top dressing was a disaster — it just spread weeds massively — and I have not done much with compost since then (other than to let the cold weedy piles molder). I’m looking forward to a happier outcome in Spring 2022. This year’s leaves will be ground up and stored for use as “browns” with next year’s lawn clippings as “greens” and I may be able to generate fresh compost throughout the Spring and early Summer for veggie plantings. I also expect to have masses of bamboo and Bermuda grass stolons to destroy, and hot piles may help with that. My veggies have not done well in recent years and it may be due to soil depletion. We’ll see if infusions of organic matter helps.

* * *

Readers, I could still use more plants, so if you could send some photos to the address below, that would be great! I’d really like to see photos of harvests or completed projects, to inspire people to plan for spring over the winter. Also fall foliage? Thank you!

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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. Arizona Slim

    There’s something about the Democrats and abortion rights that has been bothering me. From where I stand, it seems as if they’re all in on abortion rights for Ashley and Amber, who live in the well-off suburbs and, shall we say, are of the fair-skinned complexion.

    But when it comes to Lakeesha, who lives in what has long referred to as the inner city, or Yolanda, who travels around the rural USA with her migrant farmworker parents, there is a strange silence.

    1. Pat

      A lot of things about abortion rights confused me, like when supposedly pro-choice Presidents nominated judges with reservations or a record of backing restrictions. Not to mention not addressing issues legislatively. But then I also wondered about support groups who also never made the logical choice to attack the laws on the basis of their being a religious infringement on the freedom of religion of the woman and the doctors who perform abortions who do not according to the Constitution have to give a damn about what the sky gods human mouthpieces say about abortion. Then I realized that the threat of losing various rights was a huge money raiser for charities, political action groups and candidates. Settling the issue would upset that revenue stream.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Money for both sides. The legal battle over Roe v Wade has been a great money maker for Emily’s List type outfits and Mega churches. When you pull back, they don’t do much else besides make a lot of money for the people at the top.

        Anecdotal alert, but I was covering a polling place once for a shift and the local GOP archon (he’s a state legislator these days…) was dropping by and glad handing his henchmen at the various polling places. A woman came by and asked to make sure the GOP candidate was okay with exemptions. The GOP archon simply said they would always have exemptions. One of the GOP state senators in that part of the world works for a healthcare company and simply recuses himself for any issue involving abortion.

        I’ve had other similar encounters. They really don’t care except they know it keeps people giving and skeptical of Team Blue types. Without it, all bets are off.

      2. Nikkikat

        Great reply Pat, the Dems and the “groups” that support them by fund raising do not give two flicks about the issue being resolved. This is simply to raise money for politicians. The Dems could have done something about it years ago. They do not.
        It’s is all for show. Just pick any issue, like social security or Medicare. I get mailers about Republicans attacking Social Security and if I will just give them money, they will fight them. Yeah right….

    2. Huey Long


      The local GOP cretins in NJ I know have candidly told me that they’re abortion supporters because they want Yolanda and Lakeesha to procreate as little as possible to, A keep them from outbreeding the whites, which would B keep the ghetto disfunction found in places like Paterson/Trenton/Newark/Camden confined to those cities, and also C reduce the numbers of people on the welfare rolls. There’s nothing GOPers hate more than brown faces getting government checks.

      The anti-abortion movement in my little corner of the acela bubble is confined to a few holy rollers, especially Catholics that still take the church seriously (yes such people exist believe it or not).

    3. Sawdust

      Around here, the Dems love concern trolling about Lakeesha and Yolanda’s abortion rights; the deafening silence is about their working/living conditions. After all, pregnancy really cuts into one’s productivity.

    4. Utah

      You’re not wrong there. Also, they don’t care about the red state women, rich or poor. Nobody is coming to Utah talking about protecting women and holding rallies at the Capitol. It’s easy to do, too. They have the majority in both houses and the presidency. They could have fixed this years ago, they could fix this now. But president Manchin says no. And now they’re blaming Bernie bros again.

    5. Joe Well

      As long as those nice young women vote in the generals but not in the primaries, all is right in the Dem world.

    6. skippy

      Administrative [law] breeding selection based not on improved selection but of **opportunity** denied for select individuals based on Class – um a sorta meritocratic doom loop? I mean what are the **opportunities** for the latter and why would the meritocratic class care about its population as long as it did not threaten its rights/opportunities in perpetuity.

      Ashley and Amber have a good chance at the good[tm] life and as such are exemplars of the meritocratic social narrative, played out in court rooms on a daily basis – see discussion in today’s links.

      Furthermore why would the meritocratic class care about increased population ratios of a cheap labour pool, out of sight and mind in the fields and factories or slums, not to mention domestic services. Best bit is they don’t have to tend them in close proximity and can be hired or fired arbitrarily[will to work] without any fear[tm] of revolt whilst still making packet from their demise through absentee investments.

      Now why did Jefferson’s name just pop into my head …

    7. polar donkey

      “Well (Amber or Ashley) is such a nice girl with a bright future ahead of her. She is in her first year of school at (insert SEC university here). She is going to rush in January and pledge Tri Delt. It would be terrible to punish her for a mistake. We drove her to (state capitol or another state) to have the procedure done over Christmas break.” -Said to no one out loud by many suburban, evangelical, republican parents across the South.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Maybe what few Southern Democrats there are should work a Reverse Psychology switch on the rich Evangelicals who are ” Evangelical for thee but not for me.” Assuming the 6 Conservative Justices are Movement Conservatives and not just Conservative Racketeers, they will vote to reverse Roe v. Wade as much as they possibly can, ideally by finding the Mississippi law totally legal and constitutional.

        If/when that happens, and the Rightwing states vote to outlaw abortion in their states, any Democratic officeholders and movement makers should do whatever they have to to make sure the law rigidly covers the rich suburban evangelical parents are also criminalized for getting abortions for their ” made a mistake” daughters. And punish the daughters too. No exceptions.

        Then the Legal Abortion states should pass laws forbidding any provider in their states from performing even so much as one abortion on so much as one person from an Abortion Forbidden state. Make the citizens of the Abortion Forbidden states live out the true meaning of their so called belief in anti-abortion.

        And in parallel, the Legal Abortion states people and economic design engineers should try to divide up all the jobs in those states into as many still-earn-a-living pieces as possible, to be filled with Abortion Refugees moving from the Abortion Forbidden states to the Legal Abortion states to live. That would attrit and degrade the population and political power of the Abortion Forbidden states while raising the population and political power of the Legal Abortion states. The purpose of that would be to weaken and then destroy the influence of the Abortion Forbidden states on the FedGov ability to forbid abortion in all Fifty States at once.

        Eventually, the Legal Abortion states would be in a position to tell the Abortion Forbidden states that if they don’t like it, they can seccede. And then create a legal pathway to secession, and encourage them to take it.

        And then keep letting political and cultural refugees from the Abortion Forbidden states move into the Legal Abortion states. Keep letting in refugees from the Anti-Abortion States of America while forbidding anyone from the Anti-Abortion States of America from getting an abortion in the Legal Abortion States of America.

        Does that sound mean and heartless? Well . . . . sometimes you have to burn down a few chicken coops to make an omelette.

        1. WobblyTelomeres

          “Then the Legal Abortion states should pass laws forbidding any provider in their states from performing even so much as one abortion on so much as one person from an Abortion Forbidden state.”


          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Oh but , yes. Only when the upper and uppest classes within the Anti-Abortion states are made to feel the very same pain they gleefully impose upon the Middles and the Poors . . . will they begin planning to reverse their States’s Anti-Abortion laws.

            And the only way to create that pain is to weld a steel door shut over every single loophole and means of escape which the Richie Riches in the Anti-Abortion states use exclusively for their rich exclusive selves.

            This is about pre-violent war to the political death of one side or the other. In war there will be unfortunate collateral damage. If the Anti-Abortion side’s Rich People can be tortured and terrorised into forcing their States to stand down on Anti-Abortion, then the Abortion rights which have been cancelled for Poor people be restored unto Poor people.

            In the meantime, if Poor people have no de jure right to Abortion choice, then the Rich People in those same states must not be allowed the slightest little bit of de facto access to abortion either.

            Equal rights for everybody or equal rightlessness for everybody.

            1. WobblyTelomeres

              Same very flawed logic as financial sanctions. Punish the rich by punishing the poor and desperate. Yeah, sure, that’s the ticket.

              No. No. No.

              1. drumlin woodchuckles

                Where abortion is outlawed, the poor are already punished. You don’t think in the Abortion Forbidden states that getting an abortion won’t be punished if poor people do it? You don’t think that the poor people denied access by closing all the publicly acknowledged abortion providers to close down are already being punished? Can you explain why you don’t think so?

                I am suggesting that where the anti-abortion crowd already successfully votes to punish and deprive poor people who would like or need an abortion, that the rich people of those states be forced to share in the punishment by being just as deprived of abortion access as they have made sure the poor people in those states already are deprived of abortion access. Make the rich people feel the same punishment they inflict on everyone else till they decide to life the punishment on everyone else to get it lifted on themselves.. Where exactly is the illogic? How exactly is it like “sanctions”? Can you explain?

            2. lance ringquist

              when you cross a state line for the abortion, and are denied, it opens the door to interstate commerce. i can see the nafta democrats now going for the jugular of any blue state that implements a law like that.

              you want action out of a nafta democrat, in this case you will get immediate, swift bold action, with a free trading nafta democrat, waving the constitution, bravely fighting the good fight, completely ignoring article one, section eight of the constitution.

        2. Janie

          Reminds me of prohibition in Oklahoma in the late 60s (?) Repeal was on the ballot and was defeated. Winning gubernatorial candidate campaigned fir repeal but said he would enforce prohibition if it remained the law. It did, and he did. He raided country club liquor lockers; the highway patrol stopped expensive cars with expensive liquor returning to Oklahoma and smashed the bottles on the spot. The next election repeal won.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            He made the rich feel the same pain as everybody else, and they decided to stand down prohibition in Oklahoma.

            I remember a humorous apocryphal story from decades ago in East Tennessee. Many counties there were dry, and whenever the issue came up one way or another for a vote, all the preachers and all the bootleggers put bumper stickers on their cars saying: ” Vote dry for the sake of my children.”

      2. The Rev Kev

        And here is what new Supreme Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett had to say about abortions-

        ‘Mitch Wells
        Amy Coney Barrett today suggested that a woman giving birth would not impact her career because she could just give the child up for adoption and get back to school / work as if it never happened.

        I’m still aghast at that argument.’


    8. Dr. John Carpenter

      Gotta keep providing fodder for the military industrial complex and prison industrial complex!

    9. Lee

      Am I wrong to assume that since the initial ruling in Roe v. Wade that the Democrats had at various points in time the requisite votes in Congress and the Presidential support to embody the ruling in federal law? If so, why was it never done?

      I posted this question over at Daily Kos on one of the articles whinging about the Supreme Court, the current makeup of which they seem to accept as an unavoidable inevitability, and I got these answers so far:

      “Because they never had 60 votes for it, and likely not even 50. And even if they did, you can virtually guarantee that the GOP would have reversed that when they had majorities.”


      “Maybe in the 70s / early 80s something could have been passed but even if it was passed, this SCOTUS would just declare it unconstitutional and throw it in the trash. It would take a Constitutional Amendment to get it SCOTUS proof. Not saying they shouldn’t have attempted to embody it, just saying it probably wouldn’t have survived this SCOTUS.”

      I am woefully ignorant on this point. Would anyone else care to chime in?

      1. Yves Smith

        That claim is nonsense. The judiciary does not legislate. Feminists could easily have gotten Federal legislations passed. Even Nixon would have supported it. His cynical view was that it was fine to make abortion legal, just don’t have government fund it as a way to vitiate the “right”.

        But during Peak Feminism, they spent all their legislative effort on getting an Equal Rights Amendment passed and ignored all other issues, when they could have gotten 98% of they was there much more easily by going piecemeal, such as equal pay legislation.

    10. PHLDenizen

      I ran across this Time piece a while ago: https://time.com/5789438/feminism-poverty-gun-violence/ :

      I am talking about feminist issues, though you may not recognize them as such. We hear about career advancement and dating while feminist and body hair and last names, but rarely does mainstream feminism center the conversation on issues that concern most women in this country. Can they afford food? Do they have access to health care? Are they safe in their homes? Do they have homes at all? Can they meet all of their basic needs?

      It’s not that power isn’t important. Someone with power can change the lives of millions with the stroke of a pen. But it doesn’t make a difference if the person at the helm of this experiment we call America—or in any influential leadership role–is a woman, if that woman replicates the same oppressive structures that disenfranchise most women. A feminist perspective that exists without reckoning with the impact of race, class, gender, sexuality or ability is one that will spout all the right words but do nothing for the conditions facing women without the power to write policy or effect broad change. Replacing narratives about bootstraps and rugged individualism with ostensibly feminist ideology only works if feminism doesn’t rely on accumulating power and privilege for the chosen few while continuing to lean on the idea that some women can afford to wait indefinitely for safety and support.

      Feminists who divorce their path to a seat at the table from class issues are enablers and collaborators. Steinem’s brand is bourgeois feminism and Camille Paglia has her number: “Steinem was caught in blatant hypocrisy when she gave Bill Clinton a free pass for his gross violation of fundamental sexual harassment principles in inducing a young intern, Monica Lewinsky …”

      Clinton assaulted and harassed women for decades. Steinem’s sycophancy for Hillary Clinton is grotesque, particularly since she privileges symbolism of First Woman President over the damage he inflicted on his victims. Hillary’s only claim to fame is bootstrapping her political career via the hard dog to keep on a porch.

      A warmonger is a warmonger. And blowing kids and women and weddings and funerals up with drones isn’t excusable simply because a woman hasn’t had a chance to run Terror Tuesday.

      One could argue Steinem’s support of Clinton is support for mandatory abortions via genocide.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        It could be said that there are two different feminisms: cabbage and potatoes feminism, and Goldman-Sachs feminism. I remember once where a cabbage and potatoes feminist satirized Goldman-Sachs feminism this way . . . that it is unfair and anti-feminist that all the Drug Lords are male. There should be Drug Queenpins just as much as Drug Kingpins. Every little girl should grow up knowing that she has an equal chance of growing up to become La Chapa Guzman.

      2. lance ringquist

        what a great post. i argued that just because they are women, or minorities, does not mean policy change, i argued that when jean kirpatrick, thatcher and albight had the stage.

        today we know that a minority president will not change things, just ask susan rice and samantha powers.

    11. Librarian Guy

      A great bunch of responses to this post, which certainly makes a germane point about the PMC and its disinterest in anyone not in that group. . . Let’s not forget that alongside paeans to the wonderful Ronald Reagan, another great talking point for Barfsack OCrumbo (Obama) was supporting “faith based” solutions!! You can have your wonderful white Protestant god’s approval, and if the modern belief is that Jeebus was against abortion or women’s sexuality (or queers), you can have that too!! (Obviously no gospel stories feature a word from Jesus regarding abortion, but that doesn’t matter.) It’s another move toward “bipartisan” Americanism!! Bush started faith-based “solutions”, Obama picks ’em up to support Neoliberalism. If a bunch of Yolandas and Lakeeshas are impoverished or die as a result, well, no biggie, perhaps the Dems will get more suburban votes by pandering to God-botherers. Supporting a Sky “God” is as important and valued as supporting the troops and violent local police. The “better” class of people aren’t harmed, as you point out, so why worry about it?

      1. lance ringquist

        don’t forget, nafta billy clinton poured bucket loads of our money into for profit privatized charter schools, many with a religious zealotry bent.

        why are the democrats so upset about betsy Devos, bill clinton helped to create her: he signed charter schools into law, then President Bill Clinton provided nearly $100 million to the states for charter schools throughout his presidency.


        it was Bill Clinton who created the federal grant initiative, Charter Schools Program (CSP), which was expanded by the Obama administration. The CSP has handed out $3 billion in federal funds to charter school chains.


    12. Jason Boxman

      This has been a 30 year thing. Since the Casey decision in ’92, states have had a much freer hand about what kinds of restrictions to legislate, and liberal Democrats have enjoyed fundraising off this since forever. It seems the conservatives might be the ones to kill the golden goose here as they generally seem more interested in exercising political power. Either way, it isn’t going well for regular Americans.

  2. Carolinian

    Re Biden and drones–so drones are out but war with Russia and/or China is in? IMO if he’s really a peace president then he’s going to have to do a lot more convincing. And if there is a new policy re drones then indeed why be so hush hush about it? He may simply be holding fire until he finds a suitable target.

    But yes at least he’s not boasting about his drone prowess and those weekly Obama targeting sessions.

    On the good news front the Honduran coup government backed by Hillary and source of many southern border refugees has just gone down in their election.

  3. Huey Long

    RE: Scissor Lift on Raft in Pool

    What’s wrong? The workers aren’t wearing their PFDs!

    On a serious note, what boss came up with/signed off on this abortion of an idea? I’m in the building maintenance business and this is the kinda stuff that gets you fired.

    What was so important to check/work on that they threw caution to the wind and went with this harebrained scheme? They could have just rented a different lift and done everything from the safety of the pool’s edge: https://www.grainger.com/product/48WH90

    Or drained the pool and built a pipe scaffold. Anything but floating a $20k+ 2-ton scissor lift on a raft in the middle of a pool!

    1. Sawdust

      Are we sure the pics are legit? If so, what gets me is the amount of trouble it must have taken. Why not hire a technical climber to go along the roof trusses or something?

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I am no expert, but the scissor lift on a raft picture looks real to me and not photoshopped. I don’t see any of the internal inconsistencies from part to part of a photograph which screams photoshop to me.

    2. Rod

      Great Picture.
      Great documentry evidence.
      The mockery of Safety Standards meant to protect workers from their own, and their Employers stupidity really tells in the comments.
      I am Certified to Instruct OSHA 10/30 hr Courses for the Construction Industry.

      I have Certified Hundreds in Safe Working Practices for the Construction Industry.

      So today I did what, apparently, nobody responding to that thread thought to do or did–called to file a complaint with SC DoL OSHA.
      Cayce is a stones throw from SC OSHA in Columbia, SC.

      I could do this–being just a Public and not directly Employed there or otherwise involved (as anyone who observes these distinct Violations of Labor Law can) because the images illustrate 3 Violations distinct to OSHA’s 4 Ephasis Areas that claim more lives in construction than all others:
      1) Falls from Heights
      2) Electrocution Hazard
      3) Struck By Hazard
      4) Caught Betweens

  4. Laughingsong

    “After five years of building an unapologetically aggressive persona for an audience of mostly young men, Tyler is exhausted by the expectations of an unforgiving crowd.”

    You knew the job was dangerous when you took it, Fred.

    1. Kurtismayfield

      I don’t understand this phenomenon at all.

      You follow a guy who acts like an (family blog) in a videogame.

      You want to get closer to this guy, so you give him money????

      Isn’t this .. like an online escort? But the escort is a guy acting like a hypertestosteroned teenager.

      Please someone explain this to me.

      1. anon y'mouse

        people don’t have friends they invite to their houses anymore. everyone is too busy working weird shifts and commuting, or pulling their 3rd and 4th shift taking care of kids, spouse & family members. too many discussion topics have become argument generators. people walk on eggshells at the group barbeques and catch up on developments, like one used to do on 4th of july with one’s family.

        virtual intimacy has been selling online for a while. it’s what basically Facebook and all that jazz is about. it’s what many find in MMOrpgs.
        plus, we love images and screens and people on screens have begun to look more real to us than real people in front of us, with all of their quite noticeable flaws. the screen relationships have all of the bang and none of the buck a real life human relationship might bring.
        and when you’re bored, you can just turn them off.

      2. Sailor Bud

        I can’t explain empirically, but here’s what I’ve seen. Twitch has a lot of different videos, some even instructional, like YT. Several channels are just good-looking girls playing games or talking or exercising or whatever, usually wearing busty clothes if they’ve got a bust, etc, where the appeal is for lonely young guys who want a sexy girl to talk to them as if they’re humans.

        Some of the gamer channels are useful for gamers who want to see the latest release before buying, where a live stream will cover it before anybody else. Some are useful in the sense that gamers do learn about each others’ moves, tricks, favorite weapons, and even computer gear, etc, and so the ideal there is to watch a streamer who plays well. Many are just gimmick channels, like DrDisrespect, who wears a funny wig, has all sorts of graphic green screen goofiness, etc.

        A lot of them have “tiers” for people who are subscribers, so those who give more get a special little symbol next to their names, or get added to a special virtual “club” with – I think – virtual membership perks. There are also randomized giveaways. I suppose the draw is that it makes the viewer feel like an elite of some sort, compared to the channel’s lower-tier schmucks…or maybe a member of anything at all, in the wake of the loss of local community groups, as described in ‘Bowling Alone.’

        Finally, donations allow viewers to have their custom one-liner messages read out loud by the streamer, so it’s 5 seconds or so of virtual fame. Likewise, most streamers thank all donating peeps, so again, public acknowledgement.

        All the lonely people. Where do they all belong?

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Perhaps he didn’t know it was that dangerous. If he has saved a bunch of money from it, perhaps he may want to retire from it and the pressure.

      Or if he wants to do something really dangerous to his online presence, he might take up gardening and totally transform his site into a site about gardening. He could call it “In the Garden with Tyler”.

  5. Bazarov

    On the James Oh Brian tweet: “…the real world stuff is constantly evolving and so hard to understand.”

    There seems to be a consensus out there in the intelligentsia that the modern world is characterized by information overload so intense that the everyday person, unable to make sense of it, seeks out an irrational refuge.

    I find it hard to believe that modern times are distinct in this way–that this, that we suffer uniquely from information overload. Imagine, for example, the world of the peasant. It was by all accounts a richly complex interplay of vegetable, animal, social, and spiritual forces. When I go out into the wilderness or even into an impressive garden, I’m struck by the “sensory overload,” one far more daunting than any social media or news feed.

    The peasant navigated such a world every day, having to adapt to rapid changes as they came. Those changes included unpredictable shifts in weather, the management of the different personalities of animal companions and livestock, the stewardship of crops requiring distinct methods of cultivation, containment and development of individual and communal religious impulses, conflict arbitration in the village, and fluctuating political relations with one’s lord or manorial authority.

    When I contemplate such a universe, I marvel at its stability, testified to by the fact that it lasted as long as it did. It no doubt persisted by the peasant’s ability to navigate an ever-changing information stream, encountered in reality’s meatspace.

    Our virtual world, by comparison, seems trivially easy to penetrate (“frictionless,” as the techies say). Perhaps it’s not information overload that saps us but rather a reality underload.

    1. cocomaan

      This is a great post, 100% agreed.

      The contention that people have information overload is usually an excuse for censorship or some other ignorance.

  6. Joe Well

    Regarding “they”

    In Spanish, there is a single 3rd person possessive pronoun, “su,” that can mean:

    and, wait for it…

    And yet, somehow, everyone communicates without any issues and there are no debates about it.

    Admittedly, “they left their skis” would be clarified by singular verb conjugation, but there are plenty of instances where that isn’t the case.

    In fact, as I have suddenly aged during the pandemic, I’ve been confused sometimes by being addressed with the polite third-person you, like:

    Young person: “Third-person left their skis.” Dejó sus esquis.

    Me: “who left their skis?’ ¿Quién dejó sus esquis?

    Young person: “You did.” Usted.

    Me: “Ah, yes, sorry I keep forgetting I’m old now.”

    1. Samuel Conner

      I seem to recall, from decades ago HS language instruction, that they had embraced “shampooing”, pronounced IIRC roughly “shampwa” (the ‘a’s are short). It’s my favorite French word.

    2. Basil Pesto

      Interesting to see dictionaries attempting to force linguistic change

      nonsense; dictionaries have a descriptivist function. If the word is being used – and the article explains that it is – then it has to be defined, so that people can look it up and find out what it means.

      Down with reactionary prescriptivist thugs and dullards, and that includes the AF.

    3. Robert Hahl

      “To be fair, “iel” is combines euphony and meaningfulness in a way no combination of “he” and “she” seems able to do.”

      How about these personal pronouns. I use them occasionally.

      he or she = e
      him or her = er
      his or hers = ers

      E has a camera. The camera belongs to er. It is ers camera. The camera is ers.
      E has a diamond ring. The diamond ring belongs to er. It is er diamond ring. The diamond ring is ers.
      They have a tea garden. The tea garden belongs to them. It is their tea garden. The tea garden is theirs.

      This is er football. This football is ers.
      This is er pearl necklace. This pearl necklace is ers.
      This is their car. This car is theirs.

      1. Geoff S

        Marvellous. I’m from the East End of London, and it seems we Cockneys are gender recognition trail blazers because we’ve been using these dropped H terms for centuries.
        “‘Er ‘Onda Civic ain’ got no ‘andbrake”
        “‘E’s ‘aving a larf”
        ” ‘E ‘appily ‘elped the ‘omeless”

        1. Robert Hahl

          Well there you go Lambert, another problem solved. Just get Yves to add this to the style book. However I don’t think changing the name to CockneyCapitalism would be a good idea.

        2. wilroncanada

          My father, a Francophone from Quebec Eastern Townships used to take the “H”off “orse” and put it on the “Humberella.” Mind you, he worked in a steel mill with a bunch of guys from the East End of London

    1. John Anthony La Pietra

      Look at it this way: it could be an additional excuse for administratively defenestrating DeJoy from his lofty post….

  7. jr

    Re: The Khaki and Button-Up Nazis

    Wow, this writer is off the rails. I bet a lot of men yell at her, a lot of women too. Did it ever occur to this so very insightful individual that Nazi’s dress like the average Joe because they want to blend in? Because they are trying to shake the skinhead and combat boot image, trying to normalize themselves? Of course not, that wouldn’t jive with her pre-digested narrative that all men are Nazis. No comments about how the broader culture inculcates homogeneity of dress and manner, a bigger picture is the identitarian’s worst nightmare. Childish reasoning here.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Did the article writer mean to tell me that all men have moved on from being pigs and now they are Nazis?

  8. Samuel Conner

    Decades ago, my all-time favorite physics lecturer proposed a hypothetical particle, the “boreon”*, that was emitted by certain kinds of lecturers and that interacted with matter by inducing drowsiness in organisms equipped with central nervous systems.

    That was worth a chuckle, but the ‘new element Administratium’ is ‘deep ventilation belly laugh’ material. DVBL is reputed to be really good for one’s well-being, so I encourage everyone to read that item.


    * pronounced (but not to be confused with) ‘boor-on’

    1. The Rev Kev

      I’ll have you know that the BOFH has also opined about physical effects in everyday life, thus-

      ‘You know how light bends around strong gravitational forces? Well idiocy — also called denseness — has a gravitational pull that disturbs the very fabric of reality and which can actually render a person’s stupidity invisible — which accounts for a number of political successes over the past five to ten years.’

      1. R

        Don’t forget Terry Pratchett’s kingons and queeons, the particles by which royal succession is instantly transmitted unless they annihilate in a collision with a Republicon….

  9. marku52

    I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the headline about giving citizens test kits. Great idea! Should have been done day one.
    Then the fine print came. Yeah, you can appeal to your InsCo to reimburse you.
    You’ve gotta be kidding me. And if you aren’t insured, you can’t get tested?
    Classic Dems. Make some appropriate noises about a problem, and then completely fail to do anything effective about it.

    They must take advanced classes to ignore the obvious and simple solution, time after time.

    1. Nikkikat

      You are correct the Dems are just now getting around to what should have been done months ago. We also knew it had to be means tested some how. This will be an over complicated mess. But first you will need to educate people about the home test and how to utilize them. I have several boxes at home. A neighbor told me they never heard of them.
      But her aunt probably would have not contracted covid if the one person that came to Thanksgiving dinner that had covid had been able to test themselves. Her Aunt died, several others were very ill. They were all vaccinated and apparently believed it was safe. It would appear that people are all under the impression that vaccinated people are safe. They know nothing about at home testing and we still do not have decent masks. As to having us reimbursed by our insurance companies. Lol ha ha! That’s so cute. Since I still believe most of us have no insurance. Thanks Joe!

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Elaborate Means Test plans with Baroque Rococo Fillegree sets of hoops and fences are how the Ira Magaziner-type propellor-beanie head Mensa members show the rest of us how very smart they are.

        Does anyone remember the early Clinton Administration’s elaborately complexificationized multiple-rates for multiple-reasons BTU tax plan offered to encourage energy conservation? Those people were just strutting their Brilliant Intellectual Superiority stuff for all to see.

    2. Jen

      NH announced free testing kits earlier this week, funded by the feds. Just enter your address and they’ll be shipped to you. Only two problems – the supply was cleaned out in a few hours, and will be distributed by amazon prime.

    3. The Rev Kev

      Forget test kits. Some States in India were issuing their citizens entire packs of gear to help them cope with the pandemic. Besides ivermectin and other medication, the kits contained a pulse oximeter, vitamin C and vitamin D tablets, paracetamol tablets, masks, and a bottle of clinic spirit.

      But then the Indian government, probably at the insistence of certain corporations, removed ivermectin, zinc and doxycycline tablets from those kits.


      After all the spices, err profits, must flow.

    4. Carla

      In Ohio, Republican governor Mike DeWine’s health department made home rapid tests available free to all at public libraries throughout the state in late August before the schools opened. The ONLY question asked was “How many would you like?”

      They had very few takers at first, but supplies have since run out. No word if the libraries will be re-supplied. Right now NE Ohio is red-hot with Covid cases and hospitalizations.

  10. Tom Stone

    I saw my primary care physician today,who is actually an FNP with two decades experience in dealing with the elderly.
    She replaced my primary care physician in May, when the old one retired.
    It did not go well.
    First off,she had not recieved the results of the cardiac scan done almost a Month ago.
    Secondly she kept urging me to get a booster shot even though I am still experiencing an inflammatory response from the second jab after nearly 8 months.
    I asked her why I should get another dose of a vaccine that no longer works against the new variant and to which I have had an adverse reaction?
    Her answer ?
    “Because it will protect you”
    So I brought up Dr Paul Marik’s name and the MATH+ protocol’s success, since she was visibly tuning me out I mentioned the “Drug that shall not be named”.
    Her response was instant and angry,”That’s a dangerous drug that humans should not take”
    When I mentioned that the FDA had approved it for human use a decade and a half ago and that it has been used to treat both African River Blindness and Elephantiasis ( Both viral diseases) she got angrier and told me that the “Drug which can not be named” has no antiviral properties.
    Very much like my sister who is a retired nurse and teacher of nursing who told me that she wouldn’t believe that’ “Iv…” had any efficacy until she had seen the results of several RCT’s and when I offered to send her to a link where she could review 30 plus RCT’s told me I did not know what I was talking about and hung up on me.
    Both have essentially authoritarian personalities and both are very social beings,nothing is more frightening than the thought of being shunned by their peers, of not being part of the herd.
    This is Scientism rather than Science ( The scientific METHOD) and it is going to kill a shitload more people in not much more time.

    1. Sardonia

      This doctor has the mindset of many doctors – “Treat patients like they are 10-year-olds.”

      She’s now made a note in your chart – “Treat HIM like a 6-year-old.”

      Yes, her standing among her peers is far more important to her than the health of her patients. You’ll never win an argument with her.

      1. Duke of Prunes

        I just hope this doesn’t turn out like the Seinfeld episode where Elaine was marked as a “problem patient”, and couldn’t get a doctor’s appointment anywhere. Of course, back in the good old days of Seinfeld, the doctors had to call each other to convey the status, now I’m sure it just gets electronically zapped around.

        1. anon y'mouse

          certain diagnoses are coded messages to other doctors to not bother, especially psych ones.
          i have heard other psychologists say “those doctors are merely admitting that the patient is beyond their own meager skills, but other doctors will avoid the problem patient as a time and energy sink due to the diagnosis”. some of these more intelligent doctors tend to avoid those diagnoses altogether and go with broader one to avoid attaching stigma to the patient and preventing them getting future needed treatment.

    2. ataboy

      Sorry to hear this. Makes me ashamed of my profession. The number of docs i feel comfortable referring friends and family to seems to shrink by the day.

    3. Carolinian

      This is a funny thread. If only medicine really was like a business–rather than pretending to be a business –you could look in the Yellow Pages or maybe Yelp and find somebody who knows what they are doing.

  11. Shane

    I may have missed mention if it here (apologies if so!), but if not, this may be worth looking into: A human monoclonal antibody potently pan-neutralizes SARS-CoV-2 VOCs by targeting RBD invariant sites

    The abstract:

    The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has caused a global pandemic of novel corona virus disease (COVID-19). The neutralizing monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) targeting the receptor binding domain (RBD) of SARS-CoV-2 are among the most promising strategies to prevent and treat COVID-19. However, SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOCs) profoundly reduced the efficacies of most of mAbs and vaccines approved for clinical use. Herein, we demonstrated mAb 35B5 efficiently neutralizes both wild-type (WT) SARS-CoV-2 and VOCs, including B.1.617.2 (delta) variant, in vitro and in vivo. Cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) revealed that 35B5 neutralizes SARS-CoV-2 by targeting a unique epitope that avoids the prevailing mutation sites on RBD identified in circulating VOCs, providing the molecular basis for its pan-neutralizing efficacy. The 35B5-binding epitope could also be exploited for the rational design of a universal SARS-CoV-2 vaccine.

    I’m no scientist, but if the claims made about using this as the basis for a universal vaccine check out, seems to me like the potential for a game changer, if governments will do what’s necessary to produce and distribute it. (A dim hope, perhaps, but at least it’s Chinese scientists who have made this discovery. They seem more likely to do what’s necessary to eradicate Covid than the West at this point.)

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Orla Hegarty is doing very good work from the architecture side of things. So many of the necessary responses to Covid were well known by public health practitioners a century ago. Somehow, they’ve been forgotten.

        1. Samuel Conner

          Perhaps they’re all high on Spice. And what they’re vocalizing is basically “pre-science”

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Probably part of the forgetting was driven among the building design profession by the quest for energy efficiency. No-one outside of Scandinavia and Hokkaido cared the least bit about mantaining ventilation while achieving energy conservation in desired indoor-air-temperature maintainance.

      1. Noone from Nowheresville

        From one of the photocopied excepts:

        It is evident, therefore, that the most important factor in prevention of tuberculosis is the air that we breathe. As the greatest number of cases occur in early youth and adult life it is important that the best possible air conditions be maintained during this period of existence. A little thought convinces one that the vast majority of cases are to be found during the years preceding and following adolescence and up to the age of twenty-five or thirty in the factories and workshops or in the schools. These buildings, therefore, merit earnest study and attention in a program of real and effective work in preventing the spread of this disease.

        So if we consider “olden” people and those people considered at risk as canaries in the coal mine and that we’ve been given almost 2 years of advanced warning to get it right, what should we conclude? Perhaps one might rightly conclude that we as a species, or at least our leaders with their bureaucratic policies, are a bunch of idiots. Which can’t be true because that requires mistakes were made or never apply to malice when incompetence will do as its foundation.

        Basically it appears to me that the powers that be or the people who benefited the most, are unwilling to “undo” what they replaced the old public good / social contract bits with. Perhaps because they believe they aren’t subject to the law of life anymore. Or think that they are clever enough to out-deal or out-run death. Or…

        All of those obscene profits made dismantling things the New Dealers and their forebearers put into place. The continuing extractive profits being made now which still doesn’t seem to be enough. What the public seems to be getting now is theater with lots of scapegoat messaging. Must admit there’s lots of endorphin and adrenaline rushes to be had.

        Thing is theater and messaging are continuing dividers. It’s like RussiaGate and the double-impeachment shows never died. They just immediately morphed into multiple Covid shows. But never fear, that ol’ trusty zombie standby RussiaGate is still touring and performing off-Broadway; ready to re-take its place as the headliner if needed.

        How does one begin to unravel and reverse such things and deprogram the people whose personal identities and personal masks are so wrapped up in these narratives?

        What happens if this virus evolves and thrives for the entire decade? starts going after high schoolers and young adults like tuberculosis did? Will the sacrifices our canary populations were forced to make be worth it?

        I’m already hearing the scapegoating of unvaccinated teachers causing little Joey and his family to miss out on Thanksgiving. No thoughts whatsoever that perhaps little Joey and the teacher were infected by other little darlings combined with sucky ventilation within the school buildings. All I kept thinking while the story was being conveyed was perhaps little Joey and his vaccinated family were lucky they couldn’t go to Thanksgiving. Maybe the excluded unvaccinated should be thanking their lucky stars because clearly we in the US don’t believe or we’ve forgotten we’re in the initial stages of a global pandemic.

        Or perhaps we believe that we aren’t really subject to it. That our technology and our scapegoat (sacrificial virgin death) will ultimately save us just like in the movies

    2. Samuel Conner

      Perhaps the difference in 2020-21 is that heating oil is dear and people’s lives are cheap.

  12. allan

    Starbucks Workers United says almost a third of Buffalo workers participating in union vote are ineligible [WBFO]

    Starbucks Worked United, the group of baristas trying to make Buffalo-area locations the coffee giant’s first unionized stores in the U.S., say almost a third of workers participating in the union vote are ineligible.

    Organizing workers, speaking Wednesday at the Workers United office in Buffalo, said about 100 workers across three locations received mail-in ballots, which are set to be counted next week, but that only about 70 are actually eligible.

    They claim Starbucks added about 30 workers, both new hires and transfers from other locations, to the three voting stores in just the last month, in order to dilute the number of pro-union workers. …

    Not quite as innovative as handing out free self-inking Byron Brown write-in stamps, but not bad.

  13. Randy

    That Administratium joke is so old it is almost prehistoric. I have a “Jokes” folder and that joke is there with a “date created” of 2001. I will have to weed through those jokes as some I thought were hilarious in 2003 can’t even make me smile today, “Administratium” included.

  14. Mikel

    Re: “We’re pulling out all the stops…”
    “Nothing — hold onto your hats here, folks — on ventilation or aerosol transmission, so the headline is false.”

    Yeah, too many people really don’t know how to “innovate” and think of ways to make money that don’t require jamming people elbow to elbow in spaces.
    Also, it would require paying attention to and paying for ventilation and air filters by businesses. It would require people thinking about how they are living …too crowded?

    They don’t want to hear about a life saving “disruption” – if it costs THEM.

    I don’t have time for the “return to normal” BS. You know why? Because the establishment and the majority of people don’t have a “normal” to return to. You know why? Because they always accept, like sheep, all the disruption in our lives to make the rich richer.
    Example, anytime a SillyCon Valley zillionaire thinks of an idea to make themselves some money, everybody resigns themselves to the disruption and you don’t hear jack about “returning to normal.”

  15. Alan Kirk

    Add some air channels to your pile (of mostly browns), toss in some compost worms and give it light, frequent waterings and you have created a bioreactor. Air and water are what is needed to grow fungi which are the workhorses of good soil. Research Johnson-Su bioreactors to get all the nerdy details. I make a 2,500 gallon bioreactor every fall with leaves.

    1. tegnost

      As I’ve been weeding pretty much non stop for weeks I wonder if you knew a good link for a recipe for making soil? I have the raw materials.

      1. Janie

        We have space, so we just put weeds, leaves, kitchen scraps, excess dirt and anything else into a series of piles and leave it. Eventually we get cold composted soil with very little work. Now if it would just spread itself…

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        I don’t know any recipes for making good soil, but I wonder whether the non-stop weed yields can be used in a micro-scale type of Gabe Brown process of “growing soil in place” in the garden itself.

      3. Samuel Conner

        You can get a good result pretty quickly with ‘hot composting’. Today’s plantidote mentions a ‘3 layer’ recipe.

        Here’s an example that seems to not mention the 3rd layer (the soil or mature compost that provides soil microbes)


        There’s an older book, can’t recall the title, that was about “biointensive gardening’ and that was really big on ‘double digging’, that IIRC recommended that the layer volume of the soil component be comparable to the layer volume of the brown and green layers.

        I suspect that the more soil you incorporate into your mix, the more soil-like the output will be. My cold moldering piles get very soil-like at the bottom of the pile, but the time frame is months or longer. I think you can make hot compost in a matter of weeks. The piles in the plantidote quickly zoomed to ‘hot’ over a couple of days and then faded to ‘steady’ over a week — time to turn them. Do that a few times and the pile should be thoroughly composted and ready for use. If you want to try that, get a ReoTemp backyard compost thermometer to tell you when to turn the pile. Doing this in an open pile or in a ‘contained by wire mesh’ pile may work better than in a gas-impermeable bin; the beneficial microbes require oxygen.

        I also have the impression that the ‘microbiome’ of a cold pile is a good bit different from a hot pile, and that the hot pile microbiome may be more useful for ‘anti-plant-pathogen’ applications, such as making compost tea, which I have read is a useful foliar spray for suppressing plant diseases.

    2. Samuel Conner

      Thanks! I’ll look in to this. I expect to have loads of leaves from a large Oak on a neighbor’s property, and I have loads of compost worms — too many, really, and the bins are overflowing with worm turds.

  16. The Rev Kev

    ‘Pete Buttigieg
    If you want an AR because you picture yourself using it against the “government” some day… please pause and reflect that this fantasy entails shooting American soldiers and police officers.’

    No, Pete. Just people like you.

    1. tegnost

      He’s just trying to get a list of people who will foolishly write in or tweet or meta that no, they won’t shoot the police, they’ll shoot him…and now we’re both on the list but I’m not going to shoot anybody, and you’re rev so you’re not going to either, I’m just getting out of the way and letting them shoot themselves!
      Biden 2020, he’ll crash it faster!
      Let’s get on with it!

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      But if the police officers and American soldiers exist to protect people like Buttigieg if a violent insurrection starts from the “left”, then it would indeed involve shooting, or at least shooting “at”, police officers and American soldiers. Who will shoot back fast enough and long enough to suppress your fire.

      So in that sense, Buttigieg is correct.

      1. Samuel Conner

        I may be mistaken (or badly misled by the little of the MSM that I allow through my filters), but me thinks that Jan 6 suggests that not all of the ‘guards’ (to borrow a term from Howard Zinn) are on the side of people like PB.

  17. Wukchumni

    In what pundits are saying could solidify Buttigieg’s chances for the oval office in 2024, many thousands of cardboard full size reasonable facsimilies of the transportation secretary have been put in place all along the SoCal coast in an attempt to lure the wily cargo ships in to disgorge their inventory and thus, save Christmas.

    The idea is that all those Potemkin Pete’s will be as effective as a silent dog whistle and/or Pelosi.

    1. Carolinian

      Speaking of Nan, I know somebody in Orlando who says she has bought a big mansion there–clearly getting ready for next year’s election. No word on whether it includes a wine cave.

    1. The Rev Kev

      It would be a very convenient theory this as then we could ignore the fact that entire regions of the planet have been denied vaccines for commercial reasons which then gave the virus the opportunity of incubating in immuno-compromised individuals for example. And that if we had lifted the patents on these wonky vaccines, that we could have flooded the planet with them which would have served to narrow down the opportunities of this virus evolving to something more serious.

      1. GM

        This is with very high probability either having nothing to do with vaccine inequity or the vaccine actually made it worse.

        First, vaccines are not doing much to stop transmission anyway, see what’s happening in Europe, and they also don’t work all that well in the immunocompromised, so how would they help with the generation of variants? You move an HIV+ person with weak response against the virus to a state of a little bit stronger but still insufficient to clear the virus immune response.

        Second, the branch on the tree goes back to mid-2020.

        Likely the person was infected then and carried the infection through all the way to September 2021, accumulating mutations, and then it finally hit the mutational jackpot with a couple additional ones.

        That makes sense from the sheer number of mutations — we have observed people for 6 months or so, they accumulate 4-6 RBD mutations, here we have 15.

        So the person got infected BEFORE there were vaccines.

        The only possibilities of vaccines and treatments playing a role in this only make it worse:

        1. The person was somehow involved in one of the many vaccine trials that were running in SA and got the vaccine earlier than others. And it exerted additional selective pressure on viral evolution

        2. Same thing but with a regular vaccination in 2021.

        3. Even worse — the person was involved in the Molnupiravir trial that ran in Gauteng, or was given the drug for some other reason, and that accelerated viral evolution.

        In all three cases vaccines and treatment only made the problem worse, not better.

        Inequality is a real problem, but in this case it is not so much COVID vaccines that are the issue. The real blame lies with the fact that the West never really bothered to help Africa with its HIV epidemic. Which now intersects in a very horrible way with COVID, and the same will likely happen with future pathogens.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Thanks for that correction, GM. Certainly your comment had some unwelcome news. I figured a coupla months ago the possibility of the virus mutating in the body of a vaccinated person but multiple, accumulated mutations? That is something that was never on my radar. And if the initial patient was infected way back in mid-2020, I wonder for how long they were actually infectious. But the idea that this could have been an unintended result of a vaccine experiment is not good news at all. Maybe they should check the other countries where these vaccine trials were held.

  18. Jason Boxman

    If Tyler is prudent with his earnings, he’s done with wage labor for the rest of his days should he so choose. So it’s hard to really be moved by any discontent here.

  19. The Rev Kev

    “Fresh fields and pastures new” First time that phrase was imprinted on me was from the book “Day of the Triffids’-

    ‘I did not dispute it. We finished our meal. He slid himself off the counter.

    ‘Come on. We’d better be shifting. “Tomorrow to fresh fields and pastures new” – if you’d care for a really hackneyed quotation this time.’

    ‘It’s more than that, it’s inaccurate,’ I said. ‘It’s “woods”, not “fields”.’

    He frowned, and thought.

    ‘Well, – me, mate, so it is,’ he admitted.’


  20. VietnamVet

    The ragged decline in the number of coronavirus deaths is about to come to an end if Omicron supplants Delta and this variant is not innocuous.

    South Africa’s current exponential growth in new coronavirus cases is likely coming to the rest of the world. mRNA treatments have not suppressed Delta’s transmission and most likely will have no effect on Omicron’s infectiousness. The “vaccines” solely suppress severe cases for a few months per injection.

    The Biden White House is about to face a nightmare. Their response is totally ineffective. Jabs do not prevent transmission and the antigen home tests without work/school bubbles are pointless. Non-sterilizing mRNA mandates have no impact on spread of the pandemic. Those who can stay home, will continue to stay put; quick antigen tests or not. Those who must work will. But, after almost two years, those who purposefully avoided jabs and going out in public are being forced into unavoidable bouts of Russian Roulette. My eye doctor won’t extend my drug prescriptions without an office visit.

    It is worldwide; profits are more important than lives. But if China falls to Omicron like Australia did to Delta; the sick global economy dies.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      The ChinaGov will take very seriously its effort to contain and suppress Omicron along with all the rest of the Covids. They may fail, but they will very sincerely try their hardest.

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