2:00PM Water Cooler 12/3/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

I thought from the sonogram we’d be hearing one of Darwin’s finches pecking wood, but no, it’s a continuous high-pitched cheeping (and shows up in other recordings, too). Surely not the finch, but what?

A very happy capybara:

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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 looks like we are back to, er, normal for most sources today, at the end of a working week. –lambert

Vaccination by region:

Rebounding from Thanksgiving data problems.

59.6% of the US is fully (doubly) vaccinated (CDC data, as of December 2. Mediocre by world standards, being just below Estonia, and just above Thailand in the Financial Times league tables as of this Monday). I assume we will have caught up with the long weekend data by today. 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. I have added an anti-trumphalist “Fauci Line.”

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

* * *

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

(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:

Both 2020 and 2021 saw big jumps when the students returned after Thanksgiving vacation. 2021’s jump begins from a higher baseline. Now we’ll see how much higher it goes. It’s hard to know how pessimistic to be, but this tapewatcher’s guess is that this years peak will surpass 2020’s.

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.

“Mass. Schools Report Almost 10,000 COVID Cases in Last 2 Weeks” [NECN]. “The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released the numbers Thursday in its weekly COVID-19 report, which encompassed two weeks worth of data due to the Thanksgiving holiday. A total of 8,513 students and 1,396 employees tested positive between Nov. 18 and Dec. 1. In the last report, 3,257 students and 558 employees tested positive for a total of 3,815. That report was also a dramatic increase from the prior week, when 2,640 students and 381 staff members tested positive, totaling 3,021. The student cases represent 0.93% of the estimated 920,000 students enrolled in K-12 schools. DESE said 1.0% of the roughly 140,000 staff members tested positive in the last two weeks.”

“Detection of SARS-CoV-2 in Wastewater at Residential College, Maine, USA, August–November 2020” [Emerging Infectious Diseases, CDC]. “We demonstrate that wastewater surveillance using grab samples collected from residential halls and 24-hour composite samples from lift stations can detect COVID-19 outbreaks at a small residential college….. For 76% of cases, RNA was identified in grab samples from residence halls <7 days before case discovery." 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. My guess is that an algorithm of “rapid rises in cases in the last 14 days” doesn’t work well when there are several days of reporting left out. Plus, of all the institutions (save the CDC itself) slowest to get back up to speed, I’d say it was counties.

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!

“Wisconsin Hospitals Are in ‘Emergency Situation’ as Unvaccinated COVID Patients Fill Up ICU Beds” [Up North News]. “A continued surge of COVID-19 cases, combined with existing health issues requiring hospitalization, has left hospitals in St. Croix County and many others across the state with few or no open beds. That means transfers of patients seriously sick with the coronavirus and other maladies to hospitals that can provide higher-level care often aren’t happening, placing those patients’ health—and, in some cases, their lives—at risk, officials at Wisconsin hospitals and other health officials told UpNorthNews. ‘High-level intensive care units are currently overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients,’ Western Wisconsin Health (WWH) CEO Alison Page said. ‘The inability to get really sick people to the level of care they need is causing bad things to happen and people to die.’ Early this year as it seemed the pandemic was receding, Wisconsin’s average number of daily COVID-19 deaths hit zero. With the current surge, the average daily death toll has jumped to 18—and it will likely get higher as hospitals continue to fill up, as deaths surge after hospitalizations.”

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 806,409 805,013. Back to normal. 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

“The Betrayal of Roe” [The Betrayal of Roe]. “Democrats have permitted an inaccurate, dishonest right-wing framework — the notion that abortion is some hot-button issue on which the country is sharply divided, when in fact the protection of the right to legal abortion is one of the most popular planks in a Democratic platform even in red states — to keep them from making political fights about abortion.” • Well, the Democrats are the party of betrayal, as Thomas Frank said. So what did anyone expect?

“Exclusive: Sinema won’t commit to voting for Biden’s sweeping social safety net expansion” [CNN]. “Kyrsten Sinema, the influential moderate Democratic senator from Arizona, did not commit to voting for President Joe Biden’s sweeping social safety net legislation in a sit-down interview with CNN on Thursday, the latest sign that Senate Democrats do not yet have the votes to pass one of the party’s top legislative priorities even as leadership hopes to approve the measure before Christmas…. Before the start of the interview on Thursday, Sinema’s cellphone rang. Her ringtone is the refrain from a song in the musical ‘Hamilton’ that includes the lyrics ‘you don’t have the votes.’ It’s been her ringtone since 2015, the year the musical was originally released, her spokesman told CNN.” • Nice. Because I really, really hate song snippet ringtones. They’re noisy, obnoxious, and scream “Me! Me! Me!”

“Sportsman’s Warehouse ends merger with Great Outdoors over FTC clearance concerns” [Reuters]. “Outdoor sporting goods retailer Sportsman’s Warehouse Holdings Inc and Great Outdoors Group, owner of the Bass Pro Shops chain, have called off their merger deal, according to a regulatory filing on Thursday. The decision follows feedback from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that led the companies to believe they would not receive clearance to close the deal, according to the filing. Under Chair Lina Khan, the FTC has taken an aggressive stance on mergers.” • Again, we see that Biden is a better President than Obama, even though Obama set an extremely low bar, and “better” is not the same as “good enough.”

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.

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


“Georgia becomes ground zero for 2022 elections” [The Hill]. “Democrats are defending razor-thin majorities in both the House and Senate, and Georgia will likely play a key role in their efforts. Warnock is facing a challenge from former football star Herschel Walker, who has the backing of former President Trump, while redistricting in the state appears likely to hand the GOP an extra seat in the House. Abrams’s emergence in the governor’s race virtually guarantees that Georgia will once again be a crucial political battleground with broad national implications. Biden carried the state last year, becoming the first Democrat since 1992 to win the state’s electoral votes, while Warnock and Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) triumphed in a pair of runoff elections in January that handed control of the Senate to Democrats.” • Yeah, wasn’t that something? Biden, Ossoff, and Warnock all owe me six hundred bucks. And speaking of Herschel Walker:

Our Famously Free Press

“Steve Bannon and the “Opposition” Media Form a Brief, Bizarre Alliance” [Vanity Fair]. “Since his indictment last month for contempt of Congress, Bannon has been fighting to make public documents related to his charges, which stemmed from the House investigation into the January 6 insurrection on Capitol Hill. Prosecutors want a ‘protective order’ over the materials, arguing in a court filing Sunday that Bannon would use the evidence from the discovery process to try the case in the media—an understandable concern, given the defendant’s own public remarks about going on ‘offense’ against the Justice Department and his political foes. But the Washington Post on Wednesday reported that it had joined with other outlets—including the New York Times and CNN, villains to the MAGA right—in filing a motion siding with Bannon. The order that prosecutors are seeking, argued the coalition of news organizations, would render journalists ‘unable’ to see the documents themselves to report on them, a potential violation of the First Amendment.” • “use the evidence from the discovery process to try the case in the media.” So what? If it’s Bannon’s right to see the documents being used against him, why does it matter what use he makes of them?

Realignment and Legitimacy

The death bucket once more:

Check the answers….

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Unemployment Rate” [Trading Economics]. “The US unemployment rate fell by 0.4 percentage points to 4.2 percent in November of 2021 from 4.6 percent in October and well below market expectations of 4.5 percent. It was the lowest jobless rate since February 2020, as the number of unemployed persons fell by 542,000 to 6.9 million. Meanwhile, the labor force participation rate edged up to 61.8 percent in November, the highest level since March 2020, and is 1.5 percentage points lower than in February 2020.”

Employment Situation: “United States Non Farm Payrolls” [Trading Economics]. “The US economy added just 210 thousand jobs in November, the least since a 306 thousand decline in December 2020 and well below market expectations of 550 thousand, as employers continue to report difficulties in hiring and retaining workers amid a strong economic recovery. Notable job gains occurred in professional and business services (90K), transportation and warehousing (50k), construction (31K), and manufacturing (31K while employment in retail trade declined by 20K. Nonfarm employment has increased by 18.5 million since April 2020 but is down by 3.9 million, or 2.6 percent, from its pre-pandemic level in February 2020.” • Seems like rather a lot.

Manufacturing: “United States Factory Orders” [Trading Economics]. “New orders for US manufactured goods rose 1% month-over-month in October of 2021, following an upwardly revised 0.5% gain in September and beating market expectation of a 0.5% increase. The strongest contribution came from non-durable goods industries (2.4% vs 1.3% in September); primary metals (1.7% vs 1.0%), primarily iron and steel mills (2.3% vs 1.3%) and aluminum and non ferrous metals (2.8% vs -0.4%); fabricated metal products (0.3% vs 0.4%); and computers and electronic products (0.8% vs -0.2%). Still, gains were partly offset by falling orders in machinery (-0.7% vs 1.5%), weighed down by construction machinery; and a steep drop in orders of transport equipment (-2.6% vs -2.8%), reflecting mostly the impact of lower order volumes for aircraft and parts.”

Services: “United States Services PMI” [Trading Economics]. “The IHS Markit US Services PMI was revised higher to 58.0 in November 2021 from a preliminary of 57.0. Business activity and new orders continued to rise at strong paces. Although output continued to rise at a pace well above the survey’s long-run average, supply and labor issues hampered activity to result in a modest easing in the rate of expansion. Despite employment rising at the fastest pace since June, firms continued to struggle to work through backlogs of work, which rose at the second-fastest pace on record.”

Services: “United States ISM Non Manufacturing PMI” [Trading Economics]. “The ISM Non-Manufacturing PMI for the US jumped to 69.1 in November 2021 from 66.7 in the previous month, easily beating market expectations of 65 and indicating the fastest pace of expansion in the services sector since the series began in 1997. Both business activity and new orders rose at record rates, while the pace of job creation quickened sharply. Meanwhile, supply chain issues continued to challenge output growth and prices paid by services industries remained high.”

* * *

Banking: “Capital One says it is ditching all consumer overdraft fees, giving up $150 million in annual revenue” [CNBC]. “It’s the largest U.S. bank yet to end the industry practice of charging customers a hefty fee, typically $25 to $35 each instance, for allowing transactions that exceed a customer’s balance, according to the McLean, Virginia-based lender. The move will cost the bank an estimated $150 million in lost revenue per year, according to a company spokesperson. Customers who paid the fees will be automatically rolled over into a free overdraft protection service early next year, the bank said. Those who opt out of the service will simply have overdrawn transactions declined at no fee.”

Tech: “Dorsey’s Twitter Departure Hints at Tech Moguls’ Restlessness” [New York Times]. “The founders of today’s biggest tech giants are growing tired of managing their empires, which are increasingly burdened by political controversy and hard-to-fix problems like misinformation and hate speech. They don’t see an easy way out, and they’re more excited by building new things than fixing old ones. So they are turning those empires over to others and heading off in search of new frontiers…. Today, running a giant social media company is — by the looks of it — pretty miserable. Sure, you’re rich and famous, but you spend your days managing a bloated bureaucracy and getting blamed for the downfall of society. Instead of disrupting and innovating, you sit in boring meetings and fly to Washington so politicians can yell at you. The cool kids no longer want to work for you — they’re busy flipping NFTs and building DeFi apps in web3 — and regulators are breathing down your neck.” • Commentary:

Tech: “Google, Other Tech Giants Enlist Mom-and-Pop Shops in Antitrust Campaign” [Bloomberg]. “[There is] an accelerating campaign by giant technology platforms to use small business owners to lobby against a series of antitrust bills aimed at Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Amazon.com Inc., Facebook and Apple Inc. To build a chorus of popular opposition to this legislation, Google posted alarming alerts to the millions of marketers and business owners who use the company’s tool for buying ads and promoting themselves in search. A message at the top of Google’s online dashboards now warns these customers that ‘proposed legislation could make it harder to find your business online.’ But big tech companies aren’t the only ones tugging on congressional heartstrings with stories from Main Street. A network of anti-monopoly and civil society groups are also using small businesses to make the exact opposite claim — that Big Tech preys on the little guys and makes it impossible for them to operate without relying on internet monopolies.”

Tech : “Inside Intel’s Secret Warehouse in Costa Rica” [Wall Street Journal]. “A few years ago, executives at Intel Corp. began to realize they had a problem. The company was making dozens of new products each year, from chips to software platforms, but it didn’t have a formal method for cataloging and storing older technology so engineers could test it for security flaws. Some devices, such as Sandy Bridge microprocessors—launched in 2011 and discontinued in 2013—were so scarce that Intel’s security researchers resorted to combing the internet for them…. Intel’s answer to this conundrum was to create a warehouse and laboratory in Costa Rica, where the company already had a research-and-development lab, to store the breadth of its technology and make the devices available for remote testing. After planning began in mid-2018, the Long-Term Retention Lab was up and running in the second half of 2019. The warehouse stores around 3,000 pieces of hardware and software, going back about a decade. Intel plans to expand next year, nearly doubling the space to 27,000 square feet from 14,000, allowing the facility to house 6,000 pieces of computer equipment.”

Manufacturing: “The Chip Shortage Keeps Getting Worse. Why Can’t We Just Make More?” [Bloomberg]. “Why can’t we just make more chips? There is both a simple answer and a complicated one. The simple version is that making chips is incredibly difficult—and getting tougher. ‘It’s not rocket science—it’s much more difficult,’ goes one of the industry’s inside jokes. The more complicated answer is that it takes years to build semiconductor fabrication facilities and billions of dollars—and even then the economics are so brutal that you can lose out if your manufacturing expertise is a fraction behind the competition. Former Intel Corp. boss Craig Barrett called his company’s microprocessors the most complicated devices ever made by man. This is why countries face such difficulty in achieving semiconductor self sufficiency. China has called chip independence a top national priority in its latest five-year plan, while U.S. President Joe Biden has vowed to build a secure American supply chain by reviving domestic manufacturing. Even the European Union is mulling measures to make its own chips. But success is anything but assured.”

Supply Chain: “Manufacturing signals supply chain breather” [Axios]. “Manufacturing activity continued to tick up last month as pockets of the supply chain showed signs of relief, according to a new survey from the Institute for Supply Management. Despite facing nearly two years of supply chain and consumer demand anomalies, manufacturers continued to increase their output for the 18th month in a row.”

Supply Chain: “Supply chain crisis now threatening chicken tenders” [Today]. “Chicken tenders are the latest item affected by supply chain issues during the pandemic, which experts say may mean higher prices for them at the grocery store and restaurants. The tasty kids’ staple joins items like maple syrup, wine and spirits, takeout containers and coffee cups among the many products that have been made more scarce or more expensive by pandemic-related supply chain issues. For parents like Molly Edmunds of Scottsdale, Arizona, removing chicken tenders from the family menu could mean a lot of frowning faces at the dinner (or breakfast or lunch) table.” • Hot dog, groat cakes again! Heavy on the 30 weight, Mom!

Mr. Market: “Didi starts to delist from New York and aims for Hong Kong amid Beijing scrutiny” [South China Morning Post]. “Didi Global said it would commence the process of removing its stock from the New York Stock Exchange for a listing in Hong Kong, as China’s dominant ride-hailing service operator makes an unprecedented exit from the world’s largest capital market five months after Chinese regulators opened a probe into the company. ‘After careful study, the company will start the work of delisting from NYSE and initiate preparation for listing in Hong Kong with immediate effect,’ Didi Chuxing said in a one-line Chinese statement on its official Weibo account on Friday. In a separate corporate statement in English, Didi said the plan includes converting the American depositary shares (ADSs) from the NYSE ‘into freely tradeable shares” on another exchange.'”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 19 Extreme Fear (previous close: 25 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 33 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Dec 3 at 12:20pm.

Health Care

Lambert here: On fear vs. panic. Scientists, it seems, do not have an answer for what fear is (let alone panic). See “The Biology of Fear” in Current Biology (2014) and the interviews in “On the Nature of Fear“, Scientific American (2019). That science cannot agree on a theory of the emotions is probably a good thing, since an answer from science is also an answer from engineering, and in our society, the questions get asked, oh, by MBAs in marketing departments. So with science out of the way, I’ll fall back on the dictionary. From my OED app:

fear [noun(1)] /fɪə/

noun1. oe. [ORIGIN: Old English fær corresp. to Old Saxon vār ambush, Middle Dutch vare fear (Dutch gevaar danger), Old High German fāra ambush, stratagem, danger, deceit (German Gefahr danger), from Germanic.]…

2. The painful emotion caused by the sense of impending danger or evil; an instance of this. me.

And panic:

panic [adjective & noun(2)] /ˈpanɪk/

adjective & noun2. l16.

[ORIGIN: French panique from mod. Latin panicus (in panicus terror) from Greek panikos (also neut. panikon used as noun), from Pan, Greek god of nature to whom woodland noises were attributed and whose appearance or unseen presence was held to induce terror.]…

1. An excessive or unreasoning feeling of alarm or fear leading to extravagant or foolish behaviour, such as that which may suddenly spread through a crowd of people; emotion of this kind. m17.

One obvious difference between the panic and fear is that fear can be altruistic; one can fear for others. Further, panic is unreasoning, but fear is caused by sense of danger. Finally, panic may be adaptive — a panic-stricken rush out of dark woods has probably saved some people — but fear, it seems to me, is more adaptive; unlike panic, it is possible to master fear, to make the sense of impending danger serve us.

It seems to me, then, that panic in the face of Omicron is unlikely to be useful (except possibly to financial speculators) and should not be induced. Fear, however, is useful. Fear leads us to mask up, make sure we only enter confined spaces that are ventilated, to break out our CO2 meters, to take our medicines or get our jabs. From conservatives, one often hears “I don’t want to live in fear.” Well, display adaptability by taking the measures I have listed, and you won’t have to. You will have done your best for yourself and those you are responsible for.

* * *

“WHO’s top scientist says Omicron could displace Delta” [Reuters]. “Soumya Swaminathan also said it was too early to say whether Omicron is milder than other variants of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 and cast doubt over its origin, saying it was far from certain it emerged in southern Africa.” • When I hear Omnicron described as “mild,” this is what I think of:

“Scientific tests prove….”

A slide from South Africa:

“Coronavirus: gut bacteria can help boost antibody response to Covid-19 vaccines, Hong Kong study shows” [South China Morning Post]. “The joint study by Chinese University (CUHK) and the University of Hong Kong (HKU) discovered that the efficacy of the Sinovac and BioNTech Covid-19 vaccines correlated with the amount of Bifidobacterium adolescentis people had in their gut, meaning that low antibody response corresponded to inadequate levels of that bacteria. Based on the findings released on Thursday, the researchers said that specific bacteria could serve as a potential therapeutic option to enhance the protection offered by both vaccines.” • More on Bifidobacterium adolescentis here and here.

Love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal:

The responses are scathing.

* * *

“What humanity should eat to stay healthy and save the planet” [Nature]. In 2014, David Tilman, an ecologist at the University of Minnesota in Saint Paul, and Michael Clark, a food-systems scientist at the University of Oxford, UK, estimated that changes in urbanization and population growth globally between 2010 and 2050 would cause an 80% increase in food-related emissions… But if everyone, on average, ate a more plant-based diet, and emissions from all other sectors were halted, the world would have a 50% chance of meeting the 1.5 °C climate-change target5. And if diets improved alongside broader changes in the food system, such as cutting down waste, the chance of hitting the target would rise to 67%. Such findings are not popular with the meat industry.” • Mean should be thought of as a condiment. And I would far rather eat plants than that WEF favorite, insects. And speaking of feeding the multitude (Matt 14:15-21), I seem to recall that the miracle had to do not with fish — how were they cooked? — but with fish sauce (Roman nước mắm), for which Galilee was famous. A condiment, like I said.

“Scientists say they might have discovered the cause of Alzheimer’s” [The Hill]. “Researchers at the University of California- Riverside (UCR) recently published results from a study that looked at a protein called tau. By studying the different forms tau proteins take, researchers discovered the difference between people who developed dementia and those who didn’t…. By analyzing donated brain samples, researchers found that those with brain buildup, like plaques and tangles, but had no dementia had a normal form of tau. However, those who had a ‘different-handed’ form of tau and developed plaques or tangles did have dementia…. ‘If you try to put a right-handed glove on your left hand, it doesn’t work too well. It’s a similar problem in biology; molecules don’t work the way they’re supposed to after a while because a left-handed glove can actually convert into a right-handed glove that doesn’t fit,’ said [Ryan Julian, a chemistry professor at UCR]…. However, the human body has a solution through a process called autophagy, which clears spent or defective proteins from cells…. According to UCR, autophagy can be induced by fasting because when cells run short on proteins from a person’s diet, they fill the void by recycling proteins already present in cells. Exercise is also another way researchers say can increase autophagy.”

The 420

“Marijuana Had ‘Unprecedented’ Success In State Legislatures In 2021, NORML Report Shows” [Marijuana Moment]. “Lawmakers across the U.S. proved again in 2021 that marijuana reform will continue to advance on the state level despite the recalcitrance of Congress to end federal prohibition…. Most notably, legislatures and governors in five states enacted recreational legalization—a notable trend given that the reform has historically been decided by voters as ballot initiatives. But 2021 has also seen more modest policy changes related to medical cannabis, decriminalization and social equity…. [T]he legislatures of Connecticut, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Virginia each legalized marijuana for adult use this year. (New Jersey’s action came months after voters approved a referendum on the issue during last November’s election.)”

“Cannabis Legalization in State Legislatures: Public Health Opportunity and Risk” [Marquette Law Review]. “Public health best practice frameworks provide critical guidance on how to regulate cannabis effectively and minimize negative health impacts. A public health approach to legalization prioritizes public health over other goals, including industry profits, state tax revenues, and business development, that, while valid bases for government action generally, may lead to detrimental outcomes in regulating potentially harmful substances. A public health approach draws on the successes and failures of domestic and international regulatory frameworks for other substances, most notably tobacco and alcohol. However, these substantive concerns do not exist within a vacuum, but rather intersect with the procedural question of how a state legalizes adult use cannabis – i.e., ballot initiative or legislation. To further understand this intersection, this article assesses the adoption or absence of public health best practices in proposed legislative adult use cannabis laws.”

Class Warfare

“Hackers Are Spamming Businesses’ Receipt Printers With ‘Antiwork’ Manifestos” [Vice]. “Someone or multiple people are blasting ‘antiwork’ manifestos to receipt printers at businesses around the world, according to people who claim to have seen the printed manifesto, dozens of posts on Reddit, and a cybersecurity company that is analyzing network traffic to insecure printers. ‘ARE YOU BEING UNDERPAID?’ one of the manifestos read, according to several screenshots posted on Reddit and Twitter. ‘You have a protected LEGAL RIGHT to discuss your pay with your coworkers. […] POVERTY WAGES only exist because people are ‘willing’ to work for them.’… Andrew Morris, the founder of GreyNoise, a cybersecurity firm that monitors the internet, told Motherboard that his firm has seen actual network traffic going to insecure receipt printers, and that it seems someone or multiple people are sending these printing jobs all over the internet indiscriminately, as if spraying or blasting them all over. Morris has a history of catching hackers exploiting insecure printers.” • Creative!

News of the Wired

“500,000 or 20,000? How to estimate the size of a political rally properly” [The Conversation]. “Aerial photography is perhaps the best way to estimate crowd density and size. While ground-based images provide limited views, aerial images offer a literal overview. Images can be collected via satellites, helicopters, balloons or drones (although drones can only be operated by authorised entities in such public spaces). A military satellite image was used to estimate that 800,000 people were present at Barack Obama’s presidential inauguration in 2009. Having collected aerial images or video stills, there are various ways to estimate how many people are within the frame, depending on the image quality and resolution. AI algorithms can count people by recognising and counting the distinctive shape of humans, or even just their heads in denser crowds. Statistical methods can also be used to detect the independent motion of the people in the crowd. Or, if the crowd is too packed to count individuals, groups of people can be tracked.” • News you can use….

* * *

Contact information: 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 (Watt4Bob):

Watt4Bob writes: “These flowers are from South America where my son tells me they were originally pollinated by giant ground sloths. He further tells me that since indigenous people ate all the ground sloths 13 thousand years ago they have had to pollinate them by hand since then, because the plant is sacred and must be preserved. These particular flowers were growing on the grounds of the capital building in Edmonton, Alberta when I took the picture. They had several, all being like small trees.” Lovely soft tones on this photo.

* * *

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!

* * *

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

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

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

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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. DJG, Reality Czar


    Those look like datura or jimsonweed to me. I recall a shrubby set of jimsonweed that grew on Ravenswood Avenue near my place in Chicago. In late summer, the white flowers, facing down, were still open at night. The fragrance was lovely, even if the plants themselves are notoriously poisonous.


    The origin seems to be South America, although I’m leery of the legendary sloth.

    Stealing from the same Wiki entry: “Datura species are native to dry, temperate, and subtropical regions of the Americas, and are distributed mostly in Mexico, which is considered the center of origin of the genus. D. ferox was long thought native to China, D. metel to India and Southeast Asia, and D. leichardthii to Australia; however, recent research has shown these species to be early introductions from Central America.[15]”

    1. Watt4Bob

      Brugmansia actually, and yes very much like a small tree, they were about 5 feet tall and woody, you can see the branches behind the flowers.

      Wiki says all parts of the plants are psycho-active, but further descriptions of their effects don’t invite experimentation.

      Had a friend back in the day who drank datura tea. He had repeated ‘flash-backs’ seperated by ‘normal’ days. I was present for one of them that came out of nowhere, the guy was just suddenly ‘transported’. Powerful, and unpredictable, put an end to any curiosity on my part.

      When I was young, our landlord, in Chicago, grew datura in the garden, he called them ‘Moon Flowers’, and like you said, their large white flowers opened in the evening.

      1. Milton

        Brugmansia (Angel’s Trumpet) are trees. I have one in my backyard–over 15ft. Unfortunately, I also have the same colored flowers (salmon). These are nowhere near as aromatic as the yellow ones.

        1. Milton

          I take that back. B.Versicolor is the most “treelike” species of this shrub, according to my Western Gardening book.

        1. John

          Easy to grow too. My 5′ potted one is spending the winter at a south facing window. The fragrance is great.
          A vast and illustrious family although the short weedy ones in my garden have vicious thorns. And being from Virginia I’ve always like the story about ‘Jamestown’ weed.

    2. BMW DOG

      “The teachings of Don Juan a Yaqui way of knowledge”
      by Carlos Castaneda
      The devils deadly nightshade

      Ah, goes way back to my days at Height Ashbury

    3. Greg

      IIRC the megasloth is also hypothesised as the missing dispersal agent for avocado fruit – too big for birds and choke every other likely agent.

      1. Watt4Bob


        Yes, isn’t the world an interesting place.

        Didn’t read your comment about the avocado until I posted mine below.

    4. Watt4Bob

      From the Guardian;

      For those with a sunny conservatory, angel’s trumpet, or brugmansia, is a dramatic shrub from the high Andes, sending out dozens of sweetly scented hanging trumpets in a range of pastels. All seven species in this genus are thought to be functionally extinct in the wild, as although they are capable of setting viable fruit, the seeds within remain trapped inside a tough husk and undispersed. It is thought this vital ecological service was once carried out by giant sloths, hunted to extinction millennia ago. Fortunately, indigenous people prize these species for religious and ritual use, which has helped keep them going.

      Also check out this publication by Alexander Hertz, “The Latest Explosion in Orchid Evolution.” on JSTOR, you can sign up for free.

      He mentions Brugmansia in particular as being effectively extinct in the wild, and propagated by humans because of its psychotropic properties.

      BTW, it’s thought those giant sloths also dispersed avocados, being the pits are too big for birds.

  2. MP

    SA hitting 16K+ plus cases today, so it’s looking like it’ll blow away their previous wave in a matter of a week. And our leaders are offering… insurance-refunded rapid tests that aren’t retroactive.

    1. Halbert

      “Cases” are these all identified as Omicron? What are the effects so far?
      Also, isn’t S.A. the most heavily vaccinated country in Africa?

    2. Lee

      In my lighter moods I think of the virus as gradually driving a stake through the heart of the status quo. Too bad about all the avoidable casualties.

      1. MP

        I was tempted to think that, for a time, but I don’t see how it could be anything other than an acceleration of the status quo a la 2008. The rich have gained more power over this last year than even through post-08 bailouts and austerity, and no one in ‘20 even blinked at PPP! People have talked about worker leverage, but it still only encompasses the ~5% of private sector workers who actually are unionized, and it’s been accompanied by unprecedented death and suffering. Sure, it could lead to the Left movements like in the teens, but those failed spectacularly! It’ll be years before we get this crisis’ Occupy, and who knows what form that will take.

        1. Lee

          Also a feature of my lighter moods is the thought that the worse things get, the better. Not true in all cases but certainly so in some.

          I think there is a potentially powerful consensus developing between elements on the left and right on the issue of economic nationalism that would favor more autarky that empower workers, limits the outflow of capital, and best of all, is corrosive to the current corporatist free market consensus. Ever the giddy optimist, me.

  3. lyman alpha blob

    Apologies if this was posted already, but I thought people might like this uplifting story. Kind of reminds me of Vonnegut’s Bluebeard, where the protagonist spends years creating a masterpiece, although this one wasn’t hidden from everyone else. A couple links with great pictures of this man’s project –



  4. lyman alpha blob

    Lambert, your Lucky Strike ad is kinda making me want to catch the rona. Or chainsmoke a pack of Lucky’s. I did love those back in the salad days…

      1. lyman alpha blob

        I do! I’m not sure how fine the tobacco really was, but the acronym makes you feel like you’re “in the know”.

        Used to smoke the filters when I could find them, but I did enjoy the originals from time to time too. They were kind of hard to find 25-30 years ago and I haven’t seen them on any convenience store shelves in a while. Wonder if they are still around? Quit several years ago, but that digitally reproduced billboard has brought on a craving.

        1. John Zelnicker

          I smoked Camel straights for a few years until my throat just couldn’t take it anymore, so I switched to Camel filters and have been smoking them for the past 45 years.

          Congratulations on quitting. I’ve never been able to.

          1. DJG, Reality Czar

            J.Z: I smoked mainly Camels from my college days to my mid-thirties, when it was time to admit that quitting was due. Also, when I started, cigarettes were something like 60 cents a pack–and started to turn into a habit that cost too much.

            Unfiltered Camels are the cigarettes of the gods. (Pace, lyman alpha blob.) What I found, though, is that when I finally was in a serious round of quitting, I reverted from filtered Camels to unfiltered Camels. They tasted better. The smoke was more, errrrrr, direct. And that allowed me to quit. (What is it now? 34 years ago?)

              1. DJG, Reality Czar

                Camels, the gateway drug. Let’s admit it. [Also, it made life at my near-ivy-uni all that much more intense, even though I didn’t have access to Gauloises, the existentialist cigarette.]

                But it was fun while it lasted.

                1. John Zelnicker

                  Ugh, Gauloises. Smell like burning cabbage, bit they’re a great cover for pot smoke in the dorm room.

  5. Lee

    “Ralph Nader Reflects On His Auto Safety Campaign, 55 Years Later” (Science Friday)

    According to Nader, in case you had any doubt, self-driving cars are years more likely decades away. The best self-driving vehicles already exist in the form of public transit and the autonomous vehicle hype is a distraction from improving those systems. Nader for president!

    1. Carolinian

      Ralph’s lost a few steps but what you can’t fault him for is his integrity–something that seems practically invisible in our political life

      1. Robert Hahl

        He one of the few people I have met around DC who is always doing exactly what he says he is doing. Bill Black being another. Reminds of when Hillary Clinton first became Secretary of State and the speakers at two different events made a point of saying how smart she is. I knew then that she must be a dull normal.

      1. Lee

        Long, long ago in a land about 50 miles from here I had a major high school crush on a girl who drove a Corvair. I’m not sure I found one or the other more alluring. The combination was irresistible.

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      The best self-driving vehicles already exist in the form of public transit and the autonomous vehicle hype is a distraction from improving those systems.

      We have two autonomous buses running a circuit at 8 mph. The only people on them are the conductors, bored out of their brains. It is just so dumb, even if the self driving worked, no one would get on a bus without a conductor. Just buy a trolley and have the conductor drive it. Even at union wages it would cost less than these sleds.

    3. Koldmilk

      Self driving cars are another manifestation of the desire for robots. And robots are servants you own, i.e., slaves.

  6. Peerke

    Regarding the MWRA wastewater monitoring- I feel there is a possible explanation for the roughly fortnightly periodic oscillation prior to December 1st in 2021, namely NFL games in Foxboro, mass. The peak could be due to influx/mixing/out flux of fans from Boston area and out of state. Notice that the signal is not seen in 2020 prior to December 1st. In 2020 NFL games were in empty stadia if I remember correctly.

      1. Peerke

        I should have been more specific sorry. I mean people travelling to/ Boston, staying in Hotels, congregating in bars before and after and also in large numbers at the game in a large overdispersion event. Then returning to hotels, bars etc in Boston and finally travelling back whence they came. I visualised a lot of covid spreading at the game but also viral particles being brought to Boston area by the travellers and then added to the water waste across the MWRA. So the peak might coincide with the game or the peak of post initial infection incubation if that is the correct terminology. I think there must be an explanation for the periodic signal there.

  7. Harold

    Brugmansia versicolor (sometimes called ‘Angels’ Trumpets’), formerly classed in same family as Datura (the Jimson Weed). Brugmansia is more tree like. Datura is a herbaceous annual. Both are members of the nightshade family.

    1. Watt4Bob

      Yup, little trees, about 5 feet tall.

      I found it strange that they found their way to Edmonton Alberta, long way from south America.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I assume Brugmansia is too tropically frost-tender to survive on its own in the wild around Alberta.
        So I am guessing it was brought there by the horticultural plantscape and garden trade and is taken indoors for the winter.

        If so, then is it really strange?

        1. Harold

          I gave one to my friends decades ago to grow as a container plant (in a very large container) outdoors in their country house on the Eastern Shore in Maryland. They bring it indoors every winter. Since they are not there too much during the week the house stays pretty cool and the plant remains in a dormant state, though last year it produced a few flowers indoors. They love that plant!! And so do all the neighbors. My friends are alwways sending me pictures. The huge flowers are fragrant at night.

  8. NotThePilot

    Stats Watch – Employment

    Similar to Yves’ post about Black Friday figures, the amount of psychological repression I’ve seen in the articles about this latest payroll report is truly something to behold. The tagline to one Marketwatch article is

    Hiring may be stronger than the government’s headline numbers are letting on

    Only towards the very bottom of the article does it hit on what I would think is the simplest explanation though: gig workers. And even then, it blithely sees that as just a reason for why the household survey is now “more accurate”.

    I’d consider an almost 1-million person discrepancy, going into the holidays, between low business hiring & a high household survey a blaring siren though. Seems to me like a lot of otherwise unemployed people may be grabbing whatever random odd-jobs they can just to afford something a little less depressing than a welfare Christmas.

    1. Robert Hahl

      The unemployment rate dropped, which probably means that people are leaving the workforce. I think there may be a simple reason for that. They can’t get past the algorithmic rejections. A friend of mine has stopped looking for work because it seems futile. She doesn’t have the right key words to get any interviews.

      1. John Zelnicker

        @Robert Hahl
        December 3, 2021 at 4:31 pm

        I would agree about people leaving the workforce, but the same item said the participation rate had inched up. That would mean more people in the workforce, if I understand it correctly. (I’m not a stats guy.)

      2. NotThePilot

        The unemployment rate dropped, which probably means that people are leaving the workforce.

        That’s definitely been the case for years, and another fact that the financial media tends to downplay. But in this latest report, they actually measured the labor force jumping by ~500k people, which is the other thing that makes this report so weird.

        There were suddenly way more people working or looking for it, a higher percentage of them were finding at least a few hours of work each week, but only a small minority of them were actually hired by somebody else.

        The glass-half-full interpretation is most of these people could now be happily self-employed, but at least to me, November seems like a really weird time for that.

        They can’t get past the algorithmic rejections. A friend of mine has stopped looking for work because it seems futile.

        I’m with you 100% there. I almost never actively apply for jobs anymore either, only when I get really bored and angry about something at work.

        Actually, in my entire life, I’ve only once found work by coming in cold & applying on my own initiative, and that was a min-wage fast-food gig in college. Every other time I was hired, including the min-wage ones, someone reached out to me or passed my name on to a manager first.

  9. Louis Fyne

    —- “Capital One says it is ditching all consumer overdraft fees, giving up $150 million in annual revenue”—

    to put on the cynical hat, Capital One realized that a good parasite doesn’t kill its host.

    Presumably, nuking paycheck-to-paycheck accounts only to reap 1 to 5 overdraft fees and lose a customer for life was a net loss for the bottom line

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      almost 30 years ago, when i moved to austin, my last paycheck from before the move bounced…and sent my first and only checking account into chaos…rent check bounced first , and (illegally) we found ourselves moving into the car, leaving all the crappy furniture…so i had no address for to receive all the rest of the bounced check notices and fees and on and on.
      not counting the fees, from the bank and the stores, the total amounted to under $500.
      but with the fees from everybody, it was 4 times that.
      so while working and living in the car in a strange city…in winter, no less…i ran around in circles trying to pay it all off.
      and i missed one $19 bounced check….just slipped through the cracks of not having a mailbox or address.
      that sent me to jail for “Theft” a year and a half later……and cost me about $6000 total.
      still says “Theft” on my record…without explanation(ie: not “theft by check”, just “Theft”)…so i am forbidden by Texas law to serve on a jury….and whatever cops run my plates automatically assume the worst.
      now i learn that this was a choice,lol?
      not really necessary for the disciplining of the citizenry, or the maintenance of civilisation itself?

      i burned my checkbook with great ceremony, and have only had a savings account since then.
      (current balance: $2.00)

    2. FreeMarketApologist

      A quick search says that their annual revenue was USD 28.5 billion in 2020. So 150m is a bit over 1/2 of 1% of revenue. Practically a rounding error, but a change that presumably helps them retain customers. (And what service fees will be jacked up elsewhere to compensate?)

    3. John Zelnicker

      By switching people to an overdraft protection plan, the bank can charge interest on the amount moved from the overdraft account to cover the check, as it’s a loan. They can’t charge interest on the bounce fees. Cap One probably figures that will come out to more revenue in the end.

  10. drumlin woodchuckles

    One way to push people towards a more plant based diet is to ban CAFO shitmeat. Make it illegal.

    For cattle in particular, set up the laws so that if it is not grassfed, it is a serious crime with serious punishment to sell it. Watch the price rise to shinola levels for shinola quality beef. That would strangle back the demand for beef right there. And guarantee that the shinola pasture-and-range beef still legal for sale would be carbon-capture beef, not like the petrochemical CAFO shitbeef of today.

      1. Charger01

        Please buy a local farm raised chicken, hog or steer….and perhaps budget your meat purchases for the year with a freezer in mind. I’m raising two 4-H’ers with the goal of raising their own “projects”, ethically for consumption for another family.

    1. jsn

      Personally, I’ve always thought of mean as a condiment, sprinkled lightly on an ice cold slab of revenge with a delicate schadenfreude garnish.

      fortuitous typo in Lambert’s comment…

  11. SD

    I had to lol at “puzzled,” above, where you link to Corey Robin.

    The Democratic Party is a fundraising operation and patronage machine.

    There’s no upside for the Dems if they codified Roe in federal law. They would have to give up their last-resort presidential election fallback argument and also one of the most powerful fear levers they pull on to terrify their base into giving them money.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      If this is correct for the Fed-level Dems, it may also be true for the State-level Dems. If so, the various State-level Dems will be hesitant to legalize abortion in blue states, or keep it legal in blue states where it is already legal. Because then they would lose their fear-based extortion machine for fearstorting money from their voter base.

      That means that the pro-legal-abortion voterbase in blue states where it is still legal will either have to torture and terrorise their State-level Dems into fortifying its legal status, or else form new State-level New-Deal-Revival/ Keep Abortion Legal parties to elect overwheiming majorities to their state legislatures to Keep Abortion Legal and hopefully maybe restore some New Dealery within those states.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          If Illinois can defend that law against RTL militant efforts to repeal it and then outlaw abortion in Illinois, and if Illinois can somehow get its tax and budget and etc. house in order, and if Illinois can create the sort of state-scale economy which generates a lot of little jobs for people; then perhaps Illinois can play its part in encouraging abortion-rights refugee women to move to Illinois to escape RTL militant rule in the RTL states.

          It could be a step towards creating a Few Blue States zone of separate survival.

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      I’ve always been puzzled that Biden broke the ‘Fighting for Gay Rights’ ATM.

      I’m currently feeling a mild schadenfreude that conservatives have suddenly discovered that it’s a bad idea to let the government interfere with personal medical decisions.

  12. NotThePilot

    Our Famously Free Press – Steve Bannon…

    Of everything that happened under Trump, I think the way the media reported on Bannon may be as big of a miss as Russiagate. And while the basic facts here seem straight-forward, Vanity Fair seems to have fallen in it again with this article.

    The thing with Steve Bannon is that he’s clever, he clearly has a chip of some kind on his shoulder, and I don’t think anyone has ever presented a clear argument for what his real motives are.

    He openly speaks to and pals around with oligarchs & the most shameless parts of the Right. And yet in the end, everything he does seems to ultimately benefit the Left & leave institutions on the Right in smoldering ruins, full of lunatics gnawing on each other. He also seems to drop hints now and then (e.g. that “I am a Leninist” remark) that he sees himself almost like a Nechayev, which would definitely match his behavior.

    There’s a very good chance that he mostly means what he says, but he’s just a character so he expresses it in weird ways. There’s also a chance that he is entirely a grifter. But I think there’s also a non-zero probability he’s actually one of the most amorally effective entryists the American Left has ever seen.

    Since Trump brought him into the public eye, I’ve honestly never been able to get a read on the guy. And in all that time, I’ve only seen a couple people in random parts of the internet considering that he might not be what he seems. I once saw a Reddit comment where someone compared him to Severus Snape, but I just call him “Bannondorf” (watch out, Bannondorf wields the Triforce of Power!)

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Well, he has said several times that he wants to achieve the “deconstruction of the Administrative State”. So I think we can believe him on that.

      As to calling himself ” sort of a Lenin, sort of ” , that should not encourage anyone to see possible left-wing tendencies. After all, Grover Norquist called himself Leninist in his pursuit of “defund government till it is small enough for us to drag into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.” Nothing left-wing there. In his case, “Leninesqueness” was referring strictly to his methods and his drive towards the goal.

      1. NotThePilot

        Absolutely, that one comment by itself doesn’t necessarily convey more than an attitude.

        But when you also look at the ultimate results of his actions, there is that fundamental question. Does he actually mean what he says, is he just in it for the money & attention (also a very real possibility), or is he after something else?

        Because if he does mean what he says, he’s a walking disaster and everything he touches dies miserably (I mean, he probably did more than anybody to get a Democrat elected to the senate in Alabama). What if the results are closer to his real intent, not the words? I’ve just never seen anyone get to the bottom of that, and in the meantime, most of the media just assumes the public persona is the reality.

  13. farragut

    I hope I don’t sound callous when I say it wouldn’t bother me in the least were Ms. Sinema to accidentally go under a city bus. A full city bus. With snow chains.

    On a more positive note, I’ve set song snippet ringtones on my phone for my wife & two sons. It helps me ignore the chaff. In my wife’s case, for example, her ringtone is the magical opening riff of “Stay with Me” by The Faces. I guess in that case, it screams less, ‘me.me.me’ and more ‘her.her.her!’


  14. voislav

    Counting crowds is easier than it seems. We use the same methodology for cell counting in biology.

    Step 1: take area photo
    Step 2: divide area into equal subsections, usually squares
    Step 3: take 3-5 representative squares and count the number of people in each
    Step 4: multiply average count per square with a number of squares

    Surprisingly simple, fast and accurate :)

  15. LawnDart

    BREAKING: A Republican election official who REFUSED to certify President Biden’s victory in Michigan has died of COVID.

    How do you feel?

    WTF does certification of a vote have to do with dying of CV? Is this like cult-speak or something? Some sort of secret signal?

      1. amechania

        Re: fear – from Watership Down

        Tharn: Stupefied, distraught, hypnotized with fear. Depending on context, it can also mean ‘looking foolish’ or ‘heartbroken’ or ‘forlorn’.

      2. Charger01

        How about nothing? I’m not trying to be crass, but statistically its going to happen to a politco, it just happened to be that one.

    1. Duke of Prunes

      Don’t you get it? He deserved it because he’s not one of us… also, it serves him right for siding with Orange Man Bad to help destroy “our democracy” /s

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I live in Michigan. I don’t know if he specifically was one of the Republican state reps or state senators here in Michigan who conspired every way they could to prevent our governor from trying to control and slow the spread of the virus. But I suspect he was totally in step with them at the applied-beliefs level. So it is entirely just and fair that he died of the covid which his kind of people did their best to speed up and propel the spread of right here in Michigan. And I feel good about his death, the same way as I would feel good about David Duke’s death.

        Those who make themselves hateful will get themselves hated. Those who make themselves a genuine threat and a menace to the survival of those around them will make themselves feared and loathed and hated all at once.

        If that perfectly proper sentiment on my part gets me banned here, then so be it.

        1. caucus99percenter

          I for one don’t find the NC comment sections as healthy as they used to be since it became common to wish death and suffering on people in ways that skirt the rules.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            They actively tried to physically create death and suffering for us, not just wish for it, by obstructing the Governor’s every attempt at slowing the spread of the virus.

              1. The Rev Kev

                Hmm. There was this Japanese guy once who collected butterflies and who would pin them down on boards for display on his walls. Somebody once asked him how he could do that to such pretty creatures. The Japanese guy stopped for a minute while looking as his display of butterflies and then answered. ‘Because it satisfies the maniac in me.’ True story that.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              Thank y’all f’both y’all’s interest in my comment. I am always happy to hear from both y’all. Y’all please let me know if y’all have any other concerns, y’hear?

              1. caucus99percenter

                It does seem that by being prolific at making constructive comments, one can earn a degree of exemption from our hosts’ usually strict insistence that discourse here meet certain standards, if one is astute in keeping a sufficiently high ratio of plus to minus points.

        2. Gareth

          Hartmann was a less-than-minor elected official in Wayne County. As part of a group of four, he caused a tie when he voted with one other against certifying the election at the beginning of the Board of Canvassers’ meeting. Both changed their mind and voted for certification by the end of the meeting after listening to public comment and getting assurances that there would be an audit of issues that concerned them. Then Trump personally called him, and he asked to change his vote again. The rules didn’t allow for do-overs, so the certification went forward and Hartmann’s fifteen minutes of fame was finished.

          He never made laws or spoke at a school board meeting from what I can tell. The scolding article on him from the MetroTimes indicates that his great sin was expressing doubt that COVID-19 was a big deal on his Facebook page in February 2020. I can think of many people who would fall into that category at the time, several Democrats of note included. You might also recall that Fauci and associates were intentionally downplaying it at that time to secure supplies for the medical community. He listened to his national leaders, and he believed them.

          Apparently, he later made two unforgivable Facebook posts. In the first, he questioned why the governor had to bribe people to take vaccines, and in the second he opposed forcing people to get vaccinated. The only other cataloged sin they could find was that he felt people should not be forced to reveal their vaccination status and attempted to frame his argument in terms of constitutional rights. One should note that he was not in any position to affect COVID policy. These were his personal opinions shared on his Facebook page with his friends.

          The author appears to have been very thorough; he or she claims to have read every comment on Hartmann’s sister’s post telling their friends that he was on a ventilator. Aforesaid writer disapprovingly notes that 115 people offered prayers and not one of them made a comment about the importance of vaccination. That the writer is puzzled by people offering emotional support and condolences while avoiding antisocial behaviors that get you excluded from polite company says more about him or her than it does about Hartmann’s circle of friends.

          This man was everyone’s uncle over 70. He was a blowhard, not a supervillain. Regardless of your feelings relating to his behavior in the election, can you at least agree that it is improper to take what should be a private moment for his family and use it for Democrats’ Two Minutes Hate?

          1. Eric L Anderson

            Thanks for sharing Gareth. We seem to have some readers not strong enough to make room for opposing thought.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Well it is only Estonia. Who could have ever predicted that it would ever snow there in the winter time.

  16. Questa Nota

    Link to a California Real Estate article from Forbes. Some clever muni bond financing, is there any other kind, because it is available.

  17. Amfortas the hippie

    came across this in the margin of the recpt printer manifesto story:

    escalating performative bullshit…or some threshold that’s been crossed?
    mix with desantis figuring he needs a shock force under his sole command, and just the general trendlines, and i feel an even further sense of urgency to “get my preps” in,lol.

    also ran across this in the margins of a story from links this am:

    weird times… i remember when things like Temporary Autonomous Zones(Hakim Bey) were considered fringe, if not criminal.

  18. Carolinian

    re The Betrayal of Roe–well if abortion is so popular why don’t the Dems just pass a law legalizing it? Even RBG thought the Supreme Court ruling was poorly reasoned. St Clair this morning talks about all the Dems who have been confused about said popularity and tried to limit abortion. Examples: Al Gore and one Joe Biden, both of whom voted for the Hyde Amendment.

    A cynic might even suspect the Dems want to keep the controversy bubbling for fear that abortion is the only reason anybody ever votes for them. Repubs may have the same motive.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Perhaps those Democrats are afraid of being assassinated or car-bombed by RTL ( Right To Life) terrorists.

  19. Robert Hahl

    Re: “Scientists say they might have discovered the cause of Alzheimer’s” [The Hill].

    “However, those who had a ‘different-handed’ form of tau and developed plaques or tangles did have dementia…”

    This just means that they might have discovered the cause of the symptoms (like usual), but what caused the mutant form of tau? Perhaps they think it’s ‘different-handed’ tau proteins all the way down.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      I have read that sleep is the time when the glial cells between the neurons in the brain physically shrink. The opened swiss-cheese honeycomb of empty spaces thereby opened up is filled with cerebro-spinal fluid.
      The cerebro-spinal fluid inside all the little interneuronal spaces absorbs some of the biochemical filth byproducts of neuronal metabolism. Then the glial cells swell back up and force the cerebro-sewage-filled fluid back out of the brain for sending to the rest of the body for cleaning and disposal. And this happens again and again through the sleep cycles.

      If one is sleep deprived, might the brain have not enough sleeptime to clean out its neuronal metabolism sewage? Might that cerebro-sewage buildup begin degrading the brain? Setting off the buildup of bad little proteins?

      Might the epidemic of Alzheimers be a symptom of our epidemic of sleep deprivation?

      1. Robert Hahl

        Most people I have known who have (or had) dementia got plenty of sleep in their old age, and probably before that too so I am dubious. My own SWAG is that dementia is the residue of some sexually transmitted disease. At least forty years ago I read an article saying that Catholic nuns have a low rate of dementia. The entertaining history book, The Sun King, about Louis XIV and the building of Versailles mentions that there are lots of diaries and accounts of Court intrigue from that period and none of them mentions dementia. And my own observation of friends who I know had a love affair years ago, and who both got dementia and behaved the same way at onset, makes me think that clean livin’ is a good idea.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Oh. Well . . . it was just a thought.

          There might be a way to test it in mouse-model experimental animals. It was in mice that this sleepy-time brain-cleaning was first observed.

          Take enough mice to be statistically significant and divide them into two groups. Group one gets to sleep all they want. Group two is systematically sleep semi-deprived so that the get a little sleep but not all their sleep. See if any alzheimers type disease sets in for either group and if so, by how much.

          1. drsteve0

            Per Robert above be sure to control for the fact that mice are notoriously and scandalously promiscuous.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              There will have to be 2 big all-sex colonies of mice then, separated from eachother but free to intermingle amongst themselves. Given that, I hope the experiment I describe can actually be constructed, if anyone wants to.

        2. Yves Smith

          The French aristocracy right before the Revolution was a hotbed of promiscuity. Talleyrand had tons of lovers and was sharp as a tack up through his death at 87.

          As a student of history and literature, I cannot find a single mention in any fictional or historical account I read (my major was the Industrial Revolution to end of WWII in England and France) of anything dimly like dementia, which has particular features (the loss of personality as well as extreme cognitive decline). The most you see is some good old fashioned old person forgetfulness. Admittedly. tertiary syphilis does have a lot of overlap. And it isn’t as if some people didn’t live to be very old. If you survived childhood infectious diseases and young adult accidents, living beyond 70 was not uncommon. My father’s genealogy, supported by gravestones and church records, show that all of his ancestors in the 1700s lived to be over 80 and some over 90.

          The notion that promiscuity is some sort of modern invention is pretty quaint. Look at Churchill’s parents, for starters. The difference between then and now is the nobility could get away with shagging (and they likely had some form of birth control technology, maybe lye?).

          I believe the rise in dementia has to be environmental in origin, but it likely has multiple triggers.

  20. Vander Resende

    What big data reveals about online extremism (PHYS.org) “The platforms are reflections of big problems in society that we need to care about more, compared to just pointing fingers at the platforms. They should do their part, but we should do our part as well.” … the conventional wisdom isn’t always right. … The researchers observed no evidence that far-right and “anti-woke” content engagement is systemically caused by YouTube recommendations. Rather, it largely reflects user preferences and the broader online content ecosystem. Far-right content consumers arrive via various pathways such as search engines, other sites, and previously watched videos.”

  21. Vander Resende

    Kiwi kids who read for pleasure will do well in other ways, and it’s everyone’s responsibility to encourage them (phys.org) ” … it will pay dividends in improved school performance, thinking ability, well-being and sense of belonging—all especially important during these uncertain and disrupted times. …. The review’s main conclusion is that reading for pleasure is a beneficial social activity where everyone has a role to play in distributing those benefits. … Parents should feel reassured, however, that this doesn’t mean they need to be “teachers”. Simply supporting their children’s enjoyment of reading is relatively easy to do and has been shown to be very good for children’s overall development and health…. Various studies have shown children’s enjoyment of reading is related to a longer life, better mental well-being and healthier eating. Fiction reading is related to better performance at school…. But reading for pleasure is also good for communities because readers tend to be good at making decisions, have more empathy and are likely to value other people and the environment more”.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      It sounds like a desparation-opportunity for a bunch of people to try speed-organizing a Revive New Deal Wipe Out Covid movement. And a party to go with it. And explain exactly how and why. If such a movement-party could take and keep power before society collapses, perhaps that whole movement-party-voter load of people could force actual counter-covid measures upon the other people who would prefer that society collapse.

      Worth a shot? Or even a thought? in the small time remaining?

      1. Joe Well

        That would require an independent media that takes Covid and the science around it seriously.

        That leaves NC and…what else?

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        “It is only for those without hope that hope is given.”
        ― Walter Benjamin

        i’ve had near zero hope for a long while that reason or compassion or anything other than naked power will prevail…the ur-psychopaths have sewn it all up into their rotting corpse…scorched earth.
        the thin raft of hope i still maintain is that things fall apart fast enough at some critical juncture, such that the nukes aren’t launched.

      2. drsteve0

        Even should society collapse, unfortunately plenty of Homo sapiens will arbitrarily blunder their way through to start the whole ugly cycle over again.

    2. a fax machine

      Let it die. A few more covid variants will kill free trade, most colleges, pretty much everything that isn’t an “essential” job and force the revolution society needs. If the world is going to hell, we might as well ride the tiger. Biden himself can certainly exploit an economic collapse by finishing FDR’s work, and if he fails it won’t matter because America will become a national-socialist state instead and the second civil war can begin. We need a new economic plan, if it takes a pandemic to force necessary change than that’s what it takes. Already the K12 system and colleges are on the brink, 2 more years of Covid will destroy most of them and create a permanent change in the system as a whole.

  22. Jason Boxman

    Good for Capital One; PNC Bank goes in the opposite direction, and after I withdrew all my money and was charged an account fee that left my balance negative, I got daily emails threatening that my grace period was almost over and my negative balance would incur an overdraft fee (of $35 I believe).

    Needless to say, I closed my account immediately and the were willing to reverse the negative balance. Probably my worst recent experience with a bank. It felt like an extortion racket.

    They’ve been on an acquisition spree lately, and I had an account at a bank that PNC purchased, accounts at the purchased bank, and an account at PNC itself. Very confusing. It’s a shame the FTC didn’t unroll this set of mergers.

  23. Pat

    Well NY has confirmed Omicron cases and has hit last January’s level of Covid cases…The pandemic is over!

    I am still gobsmacked at the level of duplicity, arrogance and idiocy in the response. Oh I know it has always reeked of magical thinking including quite a bit of certainty that none of the bad parts will hit anyone important so profits could trump people. But every time I don’t think they can get more venal they prove me wrong. I am almost more disappointed that the majority of healthcare professionals have not actually looked at the data and called an audible on the propaganda. Thankful as I am for him, IM Doc should not be in the minority.

    Right now the only schadenfreud I want to see is Fauci treated as the greedy psychopath he is. And a whole lot of Democrats making the case that the Trump administration was more financially supportive of the public than the Biden administration and both were hideously bad about the health issues. The difference between me and the White House and CDC is I fully admit I am hoping for a magic intervention.

    1. Jason Boxman

      It seems like the hospital systems in northern NY are simply on the verge of complete collapse. After all the happy talk about staff getting vaccinated, we learn that as IM Doc said months ago, it just ain’t so. The staffing shortages in NY are intense.

      The state estimates that 33,000 health care workers, or just 3 percent of New York’s overall health care work force, left their jobs because of the vaccine mandate, which does not allow for testing in lieu of vaccination or religious exemptions. But because the sector as a whole was already short staffed, the additional job losses have hit hard. Ms. Hochul is being cautious about imposing additional mandates in other areas in light of the experience, she said Thursday at a news conference.

      About 150 staff members left rather than comply with the state’s vaccine mandate, including people with decades of institutional knowledge, Mr. Stapleton said. Things got so bad that the week before Thanksgiving, the hospital diverted ambulances for two days to other hospitals just to relieve some of the pressure.

      So that can’t be good.

      Ms. Hochul has so far resisted any new statewide restrictions, saying it is up to local officials to set them.

      The contrast between the brewing crisis inside hospitals and the relatively regular pace of life outside them can be stark. In Buffalo, the resurgence of cases didn’t appear to slow down post-Black Friday shopping at busy malls, though most shoppers did appear to be complying with the new mask mandate.

      Well, surely, we can’t do anything that might interfere with the let-it-ride strategy. And this is before widespread penetration by Omicron. Looks like it’s Biden’s “dark winter” yet again, this time under the incompetent leadership of the Biden administration and state governments.

      Upstate New York Hospitals Are Overwhelmed as Covid Cases Surge

      And also:

      Underscoring increasing concerns about Omicron, scientists in South Africa said on Friday that the newest coronavirus variant appeared to spread more than twice as quickly as Delta, which had been considered the most contagious version of the virus.

      Omicron’s rapid spread results from a combination of contagiousness and an ability to dodge the body’s immune defenses, the researchers said. But the contribution of each factor is not yet certain.

      Omicron Variant Spreading Twice as Quickly as Delta in South Africa

      Stay safe out there; Death is on the menu for this holiday season.

  24. a fax machine

    Web 3.0 won’t be televised or found on Google, so to speak. It will be the destruction of the web as we know it as individual governments wall themselves off as political factions create their own ‘nets to talk within. The echo chamber grows louder until people find themselves unable to talk to each other. Big services like Google will have to move into retail or some other line of work to sustain itself, or simply screw everyone over on the way down as AOL has with their users. At some point ISPs walk in, pick up the pieces, and become America’s Internet(tm).

    More optimistically, if mesh networking/satellite internet becomes better then we could also have an ever-evolving tor type network that is constantly in flux and dominated by non-national server farms hosted in international waters or space. But this assumes (1) individual countries like the US or China tolerate the former and (2) Kessler Syndrome is not triggered and wipes out most spaceborne communications (though the increased metal shrapnel in the stratosphere would make an interesting situation for ham radio). Even then, America’s ISPs will still be in the driver’s seat regardless of who they actually are (AT&T, Comcast, Starlink, Hughes, etc).

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      And then someone can charge a lot of money for permission to reach “someone else’s” internet from within “one’s own” internet.

      People who find that offensive and restrictive will have to go back to owning their own PCs and hard mega-memory storage devices. And people who want to communicate from computer to computer will have to devise ways to get what they want to communicate put onto super-portable tiny little hard memory devices like hard or floppy disks or memory sticks or so forth. And move them around by human courier, tied to the legs of carrier pigeons, etc.

      Catapulting the samizdata, indeed.

      it might also lead to a new revival of home microfiche and home microfilm, both unit-dose packaged into containers small enough that carrier pigeons can transport them.

      If the autorities train falcons to kill all the carrier pigeons in mid flight, cautious sympathizers can develop an innocent interest in the hobby of homing pigeons and carrier pigeons, and fly so many millions around that either the authorities give up for not knowing which pigeons to have their falcons kill, or raising the hundreds of thousands of falcons needed to kill all the pigeons
      ” Kill them all. Big Bird will know his own.” But this will bring the animal lovers and animal rights communities out in angry force.

      And those over-zealous members of the Anti-Pigeon Patrol who sic their falcons on band tailed pigeons, red billed pigeons and white crowned pigeons because they don’t know the difference, will create a whole new level of scandal.

  25. The Rev Kev

    ‘Chris Hayes
    Look, we have neither the tools nor, frankly, the collective societal/governmental will at this point to trace and contain Omicron. It’s gonna go everywhere and we just gotta hope the vaccines hold up.’

    I predict that Chris Hayes is going to be one very disappointed man in the next few months. It’s been nearly two years and we have still do deal with this virus in a rational, comprehensive way but either go with Fauci-approved wonky vaccines or just refuse to do any precautions and pretend that it is nothing. Neoliberalism has so infested our societies that we can only conceive of a mixture of market-based solutions or everybody being on their own dealing with it.

    1. John

      Well now, I am quite certain that Omicrom is mild or lethal and I am certain that the Covid will suddenly disappear, unless it does not. And, I am equally convinced that requiring vaccinations is not such a good idea unless it is.

      I am certain of one thing; amid the noise there is a signal, but no one has found it yet.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Well, market-based solutions will put at risk everyone who accepts them solely, alone and only.. ” Yoyo” solutions may favor those few people who hit upon the best mix of immune enhancement measures and covid countermeasures.
      And those few people may well try to inform all the other “yoyos” about their own understanding of best Yoyo practices. And in a sense, those “best practice” yoyos won’t be entirely on their own. They will be assisting eachother and every other yoyo who has given up on neo-liberal market-based government solutions.

      The offering and sharing here of povidone gargles, home-made air filtration devices, etc. could be an example of that.

  26. allan

    NSO Group spyware used to hack State employees [AP]

    The phones of 11 U.S. State Department employees were hacked with spyware from Israel’s NSO Group, the world’s most infamous hacker-for-hire company, a person familiar with the matter said Friday.

    The employees were all located in Uganda and included some foreign service officers, said the person, who was not authorized to speak publicly about an ongoing investigation. Some local Ugandan employees of the department appear to have been among the 11 hacked, the person said.

    The hacking is the first known instance of NSO Group’s trademark Pegasus spyware being used against U.S. government personnel …

    Spoiler alert: … but won’t be the last.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      When Omicron hits Germany, and all the fully vaxxed Germans are getting it and spreading it at the same rate at the unvaxxed Germans, how will the Germans explain this to themselves and eachother?

    2. Jason Boxman

      Well, I’d say the unvaccinated are probably going to be much safer overall than the vaccinated, quite possibly, in the coming months, with such a lockdown. Although that certainly is not the intent of the order.

    3. Pat

      Oh Germany may actually enact reasonable controls outside of vaccination that might protect the population better than the US will, but they also seem infected by neoliberal incompetence so no guarantees. If they don’t won’t they all be surprised when that doesn’t contain the disease, when the vaccinated get ill. When boosters do not make the difference how will they blame the unclean unvaccinated…

  27. Mikel

    “Soumya Swaminathan also said it was too early to say whether Omicron is milder than other variants of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 and cast doubt over its origin, saying it was far from certain it emerged in southern Africa.”

    South Africa could be like Spain during 1918. In 1918 is was fears about a pandemic affecting ralling around a war. Now it’s about fears about a variant affecting rallying around shopping. They were just the first country willing to report it during the holiday season. Could be….

  28. Basil Pesto

    From conservatives, one often hears “I don’t want to live in fear.” Well, display adaptability by taking the measures I have listed, and you won’t have to. You will have done your best for yourself and those you are responsible for.

    Indeed, taking the simplest covid prevention/protection measures is no more “living in fear” than wearing a condom when you have sex with a stranger for the first time. It is, in fact, the least one can do.

    Discussion of the language of the pandemic is always welcome, I reckon.

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