Links 12/21/2021

Little Penguins in Santa Suits With Bells Adorably Waddle Around the Matsue Vogel Zoo in Japan Laughing Squid (David L)

Missing 3-Year-Old Boy Says a Bear Kept Him Safe While He Was Lost in the Woods MyModernMet (David L)

Horse Sits On Beanbag And Plays Cards With Owner Animal Rescue (David L)

Images of dead giraffes highlight Kenya climate crisis NWorld. :-(

Behind the outrageous viral obituary that people are calling ‘a masterpiece’ Guardian (Chuck L)

Alligator-Sized Millipede Fossil Found on English Beach Gizmodo (Kevin W)

Five ice-age mammoths unearthed in Cotswolds after 220,000 years Guardian (Kevin W)

How Kodak detected the first nuclear bomb, but kept it secret Little Green Footballs (Randy H)

Inside the Campaign to Save an Imperiled Cambodian Rainforest New York Times (David L)

Motorist drives out from tunnel filling with snow ABC (furzy)

AI debates its own ethics at Oxford University, concludes the only way to be safe is “no AI at all” ZMEScience (Dr. Kevin)

DIY At-Home Test Flags Dementia 6 Months Earlier Than Gold Standard Medscape

We are ingesting microplastics at levels that may be harmful MedicalNewsToday (David L)



Data Debunks ‘Milder’ Omicron; Toddler Vax Disappoints; NFL Punts COVID Testing MedPage (resilc)

WHO urges cancelling some holiday events over Omicron fears BBC

Sports Leagues Are Showing Us Just How Bad Omicron Could Get Atlantic (David L)

Moderna Covid booster produces strong antibody response against Omicron Financial Times. GM comments:

A fine example of science by commercial press release…

What does “pre-boost levels” in “can boost neutralising antibody levels 37-fold higher than pre-boost levels” mean?

Peak titers or titers at 6 months post-second dose?

That’s a rather important difference.

But academic labs put out many preprints, and those show that the booster gets you back to something approaching WT peak titers. Which compensates for the 30-40x neutralization reduction with Omicron. But that is peak post-booster levels. Within 3 months those have waned to the point you have problems.

That’s why the Imperial College assessment of VE for severe disease was at 73% at 3 months post-booster.

And 73% VE for severe disease is completely incompatible with any return to “normal life”…

As GM has maintained:


An example of health system damage (guurst):

From Politico’s AM European newsletter:

GERMANY DECISION LOOMS: The German government will meet with the country’s 16 regional leaders today to consider new COVID curbs in the face of the rapidly spreading Omicron variant of the coronavirus. The proposed restrictions may limit private gatherings to a maximum of 10 people who have been fully vaccinated or have recovered from COVID. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Monday warned that Omicron is highly infectious and the country has to “prepare accordingly,” our colleague Hans von der Burchard writes in to report.


CDC: Omicron now a majority of US COVID-19 cases — 73 percent The Hill

Biden Administration to Distribute 500 Million At-Home Covid-19 Test Kits Wall Street Journal. Distribution to start in January…

Omicron Surge Is Just Starting and America’s Pharmacists Are Already Burned Out Wall Street Journal (Kevin W)

The Left would sacrifice the unvaccinated UnHerd (John Siman). Liberals, not the left. Look at Corbyn attacking vax mandates.

Social Security offices have been closed for most of the pandemic. That effort to protect public health has wounded some of the neediest Americans. Washington Post (Kevin W)

Trump reveals he got COVID-19 booster shot to a booing crowd PBS (David L)

A patient at a care facility was in cardiac arrest. Paramedics refused to enter, citing covid restrictions. Washington Post (resilc)

Journalist Alex Berenson SUES Twitter for ‘violation of the First Amendment’ over his permanent ban for questioning COVID vaccines Daily Mail (JS). Oddly or not, no mention in the US press so far…The common carrier argument is deadly and might fly in CA, where Twitter has its HQ.

‘We Need a New Model’: Chile’s President-Elect in His Own Words Bloomberg (resilc)


G7 condemns ‘erosion’ of democracy in Hong Kong polls IBTimes (furzy)

Human cost of China’s green energy rush ahead of Winter Olympics Bangkok Post (furzy)


Report highlights sharp decline in British-Irish trade RTE (PlutoniumKun)

Due to being preoccupied with Omicron and having only so much bandwidth, we have neglected the blockbuster resignation of Lord Frost. Some catchup:

Do read the entire Tweetstorm (guurst):

New Cold War

Breaking News: Putin Is Finished, Russia Is Drafting The Articles of Surrender To Germany. Andrei Martyanov (guurst)

A Surprise Russian Ultimatum: New Draft Treaties To Roll Back NATO Anti-War (guurst)

Russia feels threatened by NATO. There’s history behind that Los Angeles Times


Giant rave in Saudi desert pushes kingdom’s changing boundaries Straits Times (resilc)

Imperial Collapse Watch

DEATH DRIVE NATION Brooklyn Institute for Social Research (Tom H). Important.

Harassment Of Navy Destroyers By Mysterious Drone Swarms Off California Went On For Weeks The Drive (Kevin W)

The American Drone War Is My Lai on Repeat Charles Pierce, Esquire (resilc)


Manchin might have killed Biden’s agenda — or opened the way to Build Back Better Washington Post. Kevin W: “WaPo giving cover for Manchin.”

Did Joe Manchin Kill Joe Biden’s Domestic Agenda? New York Magazine (resilc)

Joe Biden Has Failed to Level with His Party Politico

Coal Miners Urge Manchin to Rethink Opposition to Spending Bill Bloomberg

Bidens add to their family with new first puppy CNN

Why are US rightwingers so angry? Because they know social change is coming Guardian. Resilc: “Who isnt angry in usa usa? left, right, center, delusional, drug addicted…..”

Our Famously Free Press

Robert Lemke Sentenced to Prison for Journalist Threats Law and Crime (furzy)

Walmart illegally dumps 1m toxic items in landfills yearly, lawsuit claims Guardian (Kevin W)

Revealed: the Florida power company pushing legislation to slow rooftop solar Guardian (resilc)

Cyber Pirates Could Hold The Renewable Revolution For Ransom OilPrice

The Bezzle

Alzheimer’s experts call Aduhelm approval “indefensible in both scientific and clinical terms” New York Times (Adam T)

Guillotine Watch

Davos is dead Politico (Kevin W)

Class Warfare

‘No One’s Life Is Worth a Package’: Amazon Workers Are Organizing for Cellphone Access Vice (resilc)

Two U.S. senators seek probe into labor practices Reuters

After 75 Day Strike, Erie Ironworkers Win Big Changes Mike Elk. Lotta stamina!

U.S. Customs bans fifth Malaysian glove maker over alleged forced labour Reuters (resilc)

Antidote du jour. Wayne W: “Midge sends holiday kitten joy to everyone!”

And a bonus (guurst):

A second bonus (Tom H):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Gumnut

    Danmark sitrep 20th:

    – on Dec 15th Omikron was 44%, assuming well beyond 50% by now.

    – since Nov 22nd 76%/91% of delta/omikron-infections were vaccinated. For Omikron that means the vaccinated are overrepresented vs. the population vax rate.

    – hospitalised right now because of omikron 35
    – hospitalised right now bcause of omikron on ICU less than 5

    Stay safe

    1. GramSci

      I find Table 4 more concerning. Not only does it confirm that VE wanes, it suggests a rebound effect whereby the (doubly) vaccinated become *more* susceptible.

      Were the animal models for these vaccines ever tested for susceptibility to reinfection?

        1. upstater

          That’s why the data used for the EUA won’t be released until 2076. There’s a reason for everything.

    2. Wukchumni

      For what it’s worth dept:

      My buddy is the lead ICU RN @ a hospital in the oft Covid stricken Central Valley, and currently only about half of the ICU beds are full now, perhaps the lull before the Omicron storm, or what?

  2. Basil Pesto

    I think Western Australia’s run is about to come to an end. Political pressure from the rest of the country is too much to bear, and I’m not sure there’s a real desire to not ultimately Let Er Rip. A couple of cases detected this afternoon, so we’ll see what happens.The likes of Dr Hyde vilified relentlessly on Twitter by those that aren’t in the eliminationist echo-chamber (I say this as someone inside the echo-chamber). It’s getting pretty hard not to despair. It really is looking like “every man for himself” territory. Very hard to make sense of what the fuck it is we’re doing. Hopefully some of those states will experience a rough first quarter and then ask themselves “wait, why exactly are we doing this to ourselves?” but there’s so much spin, so much unwillingness to meaningfully grapple with reality and refuse to accept that we’re not in control. The only hope is that my exposure to that aforementioned echo-chamber is making me unduly fail to give sufficient weight to the ‘optimists’ but, well. Even if Omicron does turn out to be just fine, I don’t see how this isn’t going to happen over and over again.

    1. Vandemonian

      You’re wise to avoid optimism, Basil. Tassie is the same situation, maybe a few days ahead. Case numbers small, but climbing steadily. A repeating pattern is emerging:
      1. Inbound visitor gets a positive result after arriving
      2. High risk contact event declared for all the places they’ve visited (and the five row block where they sat on the plane)
      3. All contacts asked to isolate for 14 days
      4. Local businesses severely impacted or closed

      Our local hospital now has no Neurology department (like London Ambulance writ small). Their Christmas dinner coincided with an infected incomer eating out to celebrate their freedom. And a local cafe/bakery which did well with local support during the restrictions has half its staff in quarantine, and no customers.

      And testing is a joke: cars queued out the wazoo waiting for a tesr…

      1. pjay

        Thank you for this.

        There are a lot of contradictory stories on Omicron circulating. The frustrating thing is, they are almost *all* based on official data. I knew this could not be possible, yet there it was, reported as fact. There was a time when this might have surprised me, at least a little bit. That time is long gone.

  3. The Rev Kev

    ‘I recently went to two Christmas parties. Not a single person was wearing a mask.

    And it was okay, because there’s no epidemic where I live. Western Australia has managed to sustain zero COVID for nearly 2 years.

    Eliminating COVID-19 was always possible. The world chose not to.’

    She’s right. But Scotty from Marketing disagrees. I heard him on the TV today and he went full neoliberal. Said that there was going to be no more lockdowns, no more border enclosures and even masks was going to be a personal choice, But meanwhile, go get yourself boosted to protect yourself from Omicron. His stance was that the government was providing the vaccines but everything else was going to be a matter of ‘ personal choice’ and he wanted governments to get out of people lives (State governments that is, not Federal). So, forget about pubic health then and just go with personal choices as in you-are-on-your-own. So his views align exactly with all those ratbag protestors that you see marching in the streets and if people still get sick and die, well, that was the results of their choices so is all on them and not the government. We’ ll see how that flies in the federal elections in only a few months time.

    1. chris

      Apparently the kids in America agree with Scotty in marketing.

      My oldest daughter told me that 20 kids who attend her HS and we at a super spreader event party the week prior and who had tested PCR positive for COVID all showed up to class yesterday after maybe 3 days at home. None were wearing masks. These kids all have cars and drove themselves to school. The parents were at work and it’s not clear to me they would have cared if they were home. The teachers were not informed of their required quarantine and there’s no way to physically remove them from school for this kind of infraction… so 20 knowingly PCR positive teenagers just re-entered the general high school population where I live. Not surpringly we were also told yesterday that there was an emerging outbreak at the school because 5% or more of the population had tested positive.

      I guess we’re going to see exactly how bad Omicron is soon!

    2. mike

      Oh , Please. That tweet and the zero covid approach is just Hubris at its most extreme. It is just a matter of time before the highly contagious endemic virus makes its way to every corner of the world. But hey keep pretending that more crushing lockdowns will stop it. And makes sure when you do, that you don’t take into account any of the unintended consequences like mental health.

      1. cnchal

        >. . . It is just a matter of time before the highly contagious endemic virus makes its way to every corner of the world. . .

        . . . or it just a matter of time before the highly contagious endemic virus mutates into something that kills a quarter of the people it infects and leaves the rest gasping for air. Would that qualify as unintended consequences?

        Still Flying = Total Fail

      2. Sailor Bud

        Crushing lockdowns? More like crushing half measures.

        Has there been a single day during all of Covid that you didn’t see bananas in stores all across the nation, thousands of miles from where they are grown?

        I love the word “lockdown.” Implies quarantine while totally disappearing the word and not being even remotely synonymous with it.

      3. Objective Ace

        Even if you’re correct that it is “unavoidable”–what’s your point? The velocity of the endemic matters. Even if its inevitable that I get Covid–I’d much rather get it once rather then 5, 10, or 20+ times. Your creating a strawman arguement that the only thing that matters is stopping it absolutely.

        You’re also adding moddifiers like “crushing” that dont apply to all, or at least need not apply to all. Yes–it will be crushing for the rich one percent to have to quarantine for a week or two each time they step off their private jet, they’ll probably make less money as their stocks dont perform, they’ll be taxed higher so that the masses can stay at home–but the masses are being “crushed” by the American style response right now rather than the western Australia respone (or plenty of other places like Utter Pradesh with functioning public health)

        1. mike

          my point was to say I thought the fight was futile. This will burn through there just like everywhere else. Yes I used qualifiers like “crushing” to describe the lockdowns we are seeing around the world. In the sentence prior to accusing me of using a strawman argument, you say you “would rather get it once than 5,10 or 20+times.” The Irony of that series of sentences made my day.
          stay safe

          1. skippy

            That fails to reconcile the ideological approach to a scientific problem creates its own goals of which some can turn around an say surrender is the only pathway out, not that it was baked in from onset.

            Can you not see the similarities with Brexit and how uncertainty and risk play out in the long run vs all the emotive charged dialectal used to arrive at it.

            You may be assisted by Kenneh Arrow – In a classic, fifty-year-old paper entitled Uncertainty and the Welfare Economics of Medical Care, Arrow discussed how:


            Too further that thought you might consider the decades of using utility-maximization as the cornerstone to the nations health policies and why it cannot deliver on it now in a crisis.

          2. Medbh

            ” In the sentence prior to accusing me of using a strawman argument, you say you “would rather get it once than 5,10 or 20+times.” The Irony of that series of sentences made my day.”

            Why do you consider that ironic? My best friend is an emergency department nurse and has gotten covid 3 times already. Granted, she has much higher exposure than the general population, but documented reinfections are widespread and we’re only 2 years into this. Getting covid every third year would easily result in 20+ exposures over a lifetime.

      4. Partyless Poster

        Just goes to prove the old saying “It’s easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism”
        If money could be made off zero covid we would probably have it already.
        Your comment is a pretty sad reflection of humanity.

    3. skippy

      ‘But as a country, we’ve got to get past the heavy hand of government and we’ve got to treat Australians like adults, and we all have our own responsibility in our communities and for our own health.’

      ‘But as a country, we’ve got to get past the heavy hand of government and we’ve got to treat Australians like adults, and we all have our own responsibility in our communities and for our own health.’

      Exchange “get past heavy hand of government” for “embrace invisible hand of the free markets” and it all starts to make more sense … not that he read or understood what Adam Smith said never the less in its borrowing it means benefactor/beneficial …

      You know its almost like Hill Song and its ilk are just the religious wing of the IPA et al … you know if you can’t get them with so called logic/reason you can suck them in with faith and the big guy handing out gold[tm] stars for a job well done … rodents and cheese come to mind …

      PS. remember if you see some bloke walking a big long hair black German Shepherd and a half size Belgian Malinois with lots of frills around Brisbane tis me …

  4. griffen

    Oh noes, what will Davos man do with all that available time back? Fret not, fellow pedestrian plebes and proles. Davos will keep on keeping on, per below comment by event founder and WEF chair Klaus Schwab.

    “The deferral of the annual meeting will not prevent progress through continued digital convening of leaders…Schwab said.”

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      Among the many benefits of no Davos is the reduction in carbon emissions because all those private jets can stay grounded. (I wish.)

      1. The Rev Kev

        Not only that. If they had gone, Davos would certainly have been a super spreader event with private jets taking infected people back to the biggest governments and corporations in the world to spread the joy.

        1. ambrit

          Hmmm… Something suspicious here.
          The Government doesn’t “believe” in an air delivered Pandemic, yet the ‘Davos In-Group’ does.
          This is fodder for much CT Thinking.

          1. YankeeFrank

            Fits with the rest of the playbook: vaccine-only for plebs, monoclonals and other early treatments for the rich.

        2. Petter

          I wonder if the TB sanatoriums are still there, repurposed (could check but don’t have the energy).
          Reread Thomas Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain at the beginning of the Pandemic. Outstanding chef at that sanatorium.

    2. steve

      It is regrettable. It was convenient, though never taken advantage of, to have all your targets gather in one place on schedule.

  5. Janie

    Re: card-playing horse. Anybody else here recall the kids’ camp song “boom boom ain’t it great to be crazy”? It has the line, “A horse, a flea, a-three blind mice – a-sittin’ on a tombstone shootin’ dice.”

  6. Steve H.

    (I posted this, then deleted it when I scared myself. But it needs consideration. Oh Lord, Sir!)

    > We shouldn’t base judgment of Omicron’s pathogenic potential only on S Africa. Their patients are really young and few bear the dangerous Neanderthal gene cluster (which evolved & stayed in Eurasia and Eurasian descendants). Wait for UK, Denmark, Israel.

    The most dangerous word is “they”. See Howard S. Becker, “Outsiders.” It’s the perjorative suffixes that’ll get you.
    mongrel (n.)
    mid-15c., “individual or breed of dog resulting from repeated crossings or mixture of several different varieties,” from obsolete mong “mixture,” from Old English gemong “mingling” (base of among), from Proto-Germanic *mangjan “to knead together” (source of mingle), from a nasalized form of PIE root *mag- “to knead, fashion, fit.” With pejorative suffix -rel.

    The distinction between a mongrel and a hybrid (a cross between two different breeds) is not always observed. Meaning “person not of pure race” is attested from 1540s. As an adjective, “of a mixed or impure breed,” from 1570s.

        1. anonymous

          There is another Neanderthal genomic region on a different chromosome with a protective effect.

          protective genomic region inherited from Neanderthals:

          quick summary:
          Hasseltine explains:

    1. none

      Lastthing I want to hear about is purity, now that unvaccinated people have taken to calling themselves “purebloods”.

    2. David

      Well, about 20% of the South African population is white, coloured or Indian, and that population is more urbanised, and also more likely to be in higher education. Since the original outbreak seems to have been among students in Gauteng, there’s a chance the original cohort was un-typically, um, un-black.

    3. skippy

      Don’t feel bad Steve, noticed it too and yes its very real, but not confined to this specific case. The rub is this scientific information is begin until certain ideological minded soothsayers use it post hoc ergo propter hoc and the next thing you know all the elites are nodding heads like Victorians …

  7. Kevin Smith

    Why your rapid test negative doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe to go to that holiday dinner

    Toronto Star [paywalled] Mon Dec 20 17:53:00 EST 2021

    If you plan on taking a rapid COVID test for peace of mind before heading to a holiday party or family dinner this week, experts urge you not to drop your guard if you see a negative result.

    Rapid tests are reliable when they come back positive, experts say. A negative result, on the other hand, could mean several things — none of which guarantee you don’t have COVID, or won’t spread it.

    “With a rapid test, a positive is a positive,” said Dr. Eric Arts, a virologist and immunology professor at Western University. “A negative is not a definitive negative. You may still be infected, regardless of what the rapid test shows you.”

    He added: “A sense of security doesn’t exist,”

    For one, a negative rapid test result could be a false negative. That happens more often with rapid tests than the PCR tests done at assessment centres, which are more accurate but still not infallible.

    It could also be the result of improper sample collection — it’s common for people to miss the part of their nose or upper respiratory tract the virus is replicating while taking a swab, Arts said.

    It’s also not uncommon for people infected with COVID-19 — even displaying symptoms such as fever, cough, tiredness and loss of taste or smell — to test negative for days before later testing positive.

    All this applies to double or even triple-vaccinated people, too. Vaccines no longer offer the same protection against being infected by the Omicron variant as with previous variants.

    Whereas fully vaccinated people had about 95 per cent protection against infection with Delta and previous virus strains, triple-vaccinated people today only have about 70 per cent protection against Omicron. That same share is much less for people with two doses, although two doses still offer significant protection against serious illness.

    “The Omicron variant has evolved to escape our immune system, and to some extent escape the vaccine,” Arts said. “You have to be cautious. The exposure risk is very high right now. When we hear about there being more than 3,000 (COVID-19) cases in Ontario right now, it’s probably triple that, if not more.”

    Arts said those with access to rapid tests shouldn’t stop taking after a negative result if they are still going out around other people and particularly if they are feeling ill — in which case they should stay home regardless.

    “You need to continue to take rapid tests if you’re going into crowded places and high-risk situations like shopping malls,” said Arts. “You should repeat that rapid test the next day and the next day, especially if you have symptoms.”

    The chance that an infected person may test negative for days before later testing positive is why Dr. Irfan Dhalla, co-chair of a federal advisory panel on COVID-19 testing and screening, told the Star Friday that anyone experiencing COVID-like symptoms should self-isolate, regardless of rapid test results.

    “A negative result with a rapid antigen test is not a green light,” he said. “There are considerable numbers of false negatives.”

    It took Guillaume Blais five rapid and one PCR test before he finally got a positive result after he developed COVID symptoms following a Friday-night party earlier this month.

    “I tested myself on Saturday and the test came back negative, tested again on Sunday, negative,” he said.

    “On Monday, I started to get light cold symptoms, essentially a sore throat and a little bit of a headache. Had another rapid test — negative. By Tuesday, I was sure I was sick, but I tested negative again. That same day, I found out someone at the party was COVID positive.”

    Blais booked a PCR test Wednesday, which returned yet another negative result. By that point, Blais assumed he was in the clear. His symptoms were even getting better. Friday night, he took a final rapid test before a board game night with friends.

    “Lo and behold, it came back positive, and so did the next test I took,” he said. “I’ve been isolating and testing positive every day since.”

    As epidemiologist Dr. Michael Mina explained on Twitter last week, vaccinated individuals like Blais, might initially test negative despite having COVID because, with Omicron, symptoms may be presenting earlier, before the individual becomes contagious and the virus becomes more easily detected.

    Previously, COVID was observed to be transmissible before symptoms emerged. Now, COVID may be starting to behave like other respiratory viruses — in people whose immunity has been strengthened by vaccines — and make them sick before they can spread it.

    Still, people need to be careful, Mina wrote.

    “If you are symptomatic and negative — although it means you’re probably not contagious at that moment, be very, very cautious,” he said. “Quarantine even if possible and test the next morning or that night. (Sometimes even longer.)

    “With Omicron, the virus is growing even faster than before so please do take precautions if you have symptoms. Listen to your symptoms for a reasonable amount of time and retest even daily if possible.”

    Dr. David Fisman, physician and professor of epidemiology at the University of Toronto, explained that rapid tests are more likely to return false-negative results in people with low viral loads — in other words, people are less likely to spread the virus at the same time that they’re likely to test negative.

    Unvaccinated and vaccinated people with COVID can be equally contagious to those around them, but vaccinated people become non-infectious quicker, he added.

    That’s “great news,” he said, because the risk an infected person poses to those around them is dependent on both how contagious they are and how long they stay contagious.

    Ben Cohen is a Toronto-based staff reporter for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @bcohenn

    1. Lee

      I don’t know if anybody anywhere would be eligible but Stanford is recruiting volunteers for new testing, tracking, and disease effects trials. Some are for Covid negative, others for Covid positive.

      I watched the video for the home saliva test kit. I think they need to make it simpler.

      Also, our local PBS radio station is starting to talk up ventilation, long Covid in the asymptomatically infected, the need for universally available, inexpensive testing and related things we’ve been regularly discussing here lo these many months. Better two years late than never, I suppose.

    2. Peerke

      Related – apparently according to this study from KU Leuven and IMEC in Belgium “ exhaled viral load (the purported measurement of contagiousness) peaks before rapid antigen tests are reliably positive”. See:

  8. griffen

    Training a horse to play cards is kinda meh. But sitting on a bean bag! That would seem to take some doing. In a separate article at the above site, animal rescue, they detail how dogs love Christmas music. Unofficially one supposes, given the overall and supposed winner is by Wham!

    Last Christmas. Maybe it’s the higher pitch in the singer’s voice.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “CDC: Omicron now a majority of US COVID-19 cases — 73 percent”

    I have to admit that I am seriously impressed with Omicron’s ability to spread itself. In about three weeks it has managed to become the dominant strain of this Coronavirus in the United States and pushed Delta to the bush leagues whereas it took Delta several months to do the same to the original Wuhan strain. It’s almost as if this Coronavirus is spread by aerosols or something.

  10. Geo

    AI debate:

    “We are not smart enough to make AI ethical. We are not smart enough to make AI moral. In the end, I believe that the only way to avoid an AI arms race is to have no AI at all,” Megatron debated.

    The AI counter argument was good too: “I see a clear path to a future where AI is used to create something that is better than the best human beings. It’s not hard to see why.”

    I’m becoming more anti-tech as time rolls by but it’s hard to see a way our mortal primate brains will evolve to address the issues we face as a society in the small amount of time we have. Too much of our society is still governed by the most base and primitive ideas in a modern society where those needs have been mostly eradicated (why we still turn to “strong men” authoritarians for leadership and idol worship celebrity and TV pastors, or hoard resources instead of share communally). We don’t need “strong men” to protect us from lions & tigers & bears but our fears of “others” makes us turn to them and create wars and fear. We don’t need idols to give us meaning when we have so much more enlightened ways to do it now. And, our unevolved brains are keeping us from becoming an equitable society that might survive and flourish.

    So, all that is to say, I disagree with the AI’s decision and do agree with its counter argument. It’s hard not to see why an AI might be our only hope of a better mind to unleash us from the slow natural evolution of our biological minds.

    That said, my hope for that outcome is minimal since the tech will be shaped and used by humans which, like the apes at the beginning of the movie 2001, will just use it to clobber their enemies over the head and take their stuff and the rest of the herd will idolize them for it.

    1. Mike

      Great point. There was an article a few weeks back on this links post talking about AI leading to the downfall of humanity. Instead of it being via a skynet like take over of the machines, or some super cool human/robot race its just the AI algo’s at twitter and google turning everyone against each other, haha how depressing.

      1. Geo

        Was reading yesterday about an group that started a female lead cooperative “eco-urban” community of equitable living that intended to build sustainable model for a better future. It has turned into a squabble of greed, egos, abuse and cult-like leadership (and worship) with former members talking about not being paid fairly and being mentally abused and exploited.

        It’s an interesting read in general but highlights how even the best of intentions quickly become corrupted and petty due to our fragile human egos and primitive social psychology. I’ve seen this happen in so many groups that start off trying to live in equitable communities.

        Seems we need a “higher power” to guide us because we’re too selfish and small minded to do it ourselves. Maybe an AI will be that guide but, as our gods were created by us and have failed to be those guides, I’m doubtful an AI created by tech bros will fare any better. We’ll probably just end up with some new tech religion selling us Salvation by turning our souls into NFTs that will live eternally in the blockchain.

      2. megrim

        The “Culture” series by Iain M. Banks is all about a pan-galactic, utopian society run by sentient AI who have full personhood rights. It’s worth checking out. Most of the books take place at the edges of this society, and some of the protagonists are not fans of this society (although I myself am).

      3. Maritimer

        It may take only a little bit of AI to cause a lot of trouble. And beyond that, there is GI and SI. Some experts believe GI will have severe consequences before SI even comes into play.

        It would be very interesting to see an unbiased article on what role AI has played in the development/management of the Covid Injections. Certainly, Fauci, Collins, Walensky et al are clueless let alone competent to understand AI.

    2. Andy

      I’m becoming more anti-tech as time rolls by but it’s hard to see a way our mortal primate brains will evolve to address the issues we face as a society in the small amount of time we have.

      A human lifespan is less than 100 years. Expecting the world and human nature to radically change within that time frame is unrealistic. But for an individual human being reared in a highly individualistic culture, their brief time on this earth encompasses the entire history of the world and the universe. When they die, the world dies with them.

      If you’re serious about “changing the world” you have to resign yourself to the fact that the change you want to see will likely not be realized in your lifetime. For atheistic westerners in an individualistic society that wants results NOW this can be difficult to accept.

      People with religious and spiritual convictions and those fighting to free themselves from the yoke of an oppressive regime or occupation force have an easier time coming to terms with this. For a religious or spiritual person, their own death isn’t the end of the world and a resistance fighter knows that if their cause is to prevail, personal sacrifice is necessary.

      Human’s sacrificing their lives for a cause or a “greater good” is as old as human history. How else could militaries get young soldiers to willingly die for abstract ideas and notions?

      Secular westerners who easily get disillusioned and depressed when contemplating the slow pace of change and the apparent futility of political wrangling might want to take a step back and think bigger.

      Even an atheistic secular materialist understands that evolution proceeds at a glacial, non-linear pace. From this perspective it makes sense that change happens very slowly, and expecting human behavior to radically change within one lifetime is probably unrealistic.

      1. Joe Renter

        Nice observation. I started believing in reincarnation when in my teens. That can give the long view of time, which a relative thing. It does seem that our world is changing fast and paradigm shifts are fighting the old status quo. Much is in stake for the future of the planet and the billions of souls, if there is not radical change. So, we live in interesting times.
        My advice for sanity is to meditate. Many different approaches to this, and internet search will give you a start.
        We are all one humanity. Make your brothers need a measure of your own.

  11. Geo

    All month the Biden team has been having meetings and trying to fix all the negative press coverage and their falling poll numbers.

    Yesterday they launched their solution:

    Biden got a puppy! Everyone look at the cute puppy!!! Isn’t he adorable? Trump didn’t like puppies but Biden loves puppies. We all love puppies. Puppies are America! If you don’t like Biden you don’t like puppies. You don’t hate puppies, do you?

    1. mistah charley, ph.d.

      There’s a saying: “you have to be an above-average human to be a better friend than a regular dog.”

    2. fresno dan

      December 21, 2021 at 8:37 am
      Can puppies for everyone be far behind?
      (I want a Yorkshire terrier. As the Bidens also got a cat, I want a kitten too)
      Of course, the animal identitarian movement labelled the new policy animalist, non diverse, and non inclusive for not including birds, reptiles, fish, insects, giraffes, rhinos, ootopuses, and hippopatumuses.

          1. Lee

            I’m just so glad I haven’t gotten a tooth ache in the last two years. But alas, I have developed a belly ache and have to go in tomorrow for an up close and personal probe into the matter. (: >/

            1. juno mas

              You’re lucky there is a doctor available to care for you!

              Scheduled an appointment with mine and the earliest available is April (2022). This is why Urgent Care is exploding. (It must be more profitable.)

            2. Petter

              I wanted to change the world
              But I couldn’t even change my underwear.
              – John Grant – Queen of Denmark (great song)

            3. griffen

              I had a belly ache (not a belly laugh) a few months back. Doc prodded (no probes yet) a little and asked questions. His suggestion was the gall bladder may be the culprit, and oh a bad diet was likely causing the GI pain and discomfort. Best of luck!

              I’ve cut back on coffee and beer, and especially fast food options.

      1. Geo

        Nancy Pelosi: “America is a capitalist country and anyone who wants a dog, cat, goldfish, ice cream, or stocks has access to them under a Biden Administration.”

        Joe Manchin: “The people of WV can’t have dogs because they live on a house boat and don’t have yards. Plus, our Maseratis are too small for a dog and the leather interior might scratch.”

        The Squad: “I have allergies and this is violence against us by an ableist elite.”

        The GOP: “Biden’s dog is a communist god-hating tax & spend welfare queen moocher!”

        Joe Biden: “Listen Jack, um… the thing is… Americans are… here’s the deal… Corn Pop was a bad dude.”

        Kamala Harris: “I’m Kamala Harris!”

          1. Geo


            Is Tim Kaine still around? Was he ever actually real? My recollection of him is a faint haze in a sea of nothingness.

            Leave it to HillDog to pick a VP candidate who was somehow even more of a forgettable non-entity than Mike Pence.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              In his first week as governor, the GOP offered to fund a huge transit deal if he would agree to cut the estate tax. The estate tax was eliminated. Kaine whined, and the GOP laughed.

              Even when he later had momentum for a transit deal, he turned it into an audition for VP and bungled the whole thing.

    3. Questa Nota

      Now double the clean-ups in the Oval Office?
      Which one begs for treats?
      What will Manchin bring for next visit?

    4. EricT

      Wasn’t it LBJ that said, if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog? Guess, Biden is more upset about what Manchin did, than we thought…

    5. Wukchumni

      Major and Commander

      A period piece set during the battle of denial on the sloop Joe B.

      It is hard to fathom what was going through the President’s thought processes when Major repeatedly bit off more than he could chew, but for the good of the crew was keel hauled off to the pound.

      Who’s the good doggie now?

  12. PlutoniumKun


    Re: Brexit

    Brexit, far from being over, is all set to be the main political and business issue in the UK for years, maybe decades to come. Most of the key changes to trade are not active yet, but there is a steady bleed of business away from the UK. This months EY report notes the steady move away of financial services (relatively small in number, but note that the EU is slowly turning the screw, insisting on staff movements if operation licenses are to be granted). The food and drink sector is getting hit hardest right now, I suspect construction products will be next. Agriculture will get its biggest hit in a few years time when the implications of the UK’s deals with Australia and others set in (there is no way British farmers can compete with, for example, Australian beef and lamb prices). The only part of the UK that is thriving is Northern Ireland, as trade increases with the Republic, especially in dairy products.

    Politically, the ultra’s just aren’t letting go. They seem convinced that it was Brexit, not Johnson or anything else that won them the last election, and all they need to do is keep the heat up and somehow things will turn out right for them.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I wondered about that trade deal between the UK and Australia. As you say, British farmers will be unable to compete in pricing so what benefit does Boris get from selling out British farmers? Is it just the desperation to get any sort of trade deal down on paper to show that the UK can get by without the EU? Has he got mates waiting in the wings to swoop down and buy up bankrupt British farms for knockdown prices? Something does not add up.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I haven’t followed the details, but its not been a secret that the Tory government has been absolutely desperate to have trade deals they can show off to the media to show that Brexit is working.

        Needless to say, any half competent trade negotiator can smell desperation for a deal a mile off, so I’m sure the Australian government (plus the Japanese) were more than happy to oblige, knowing that nobody in the British media read past the press release. I’d be astonished if the small print details that will emerge over time won’t turn out to heavy favour the Australians. The key one for UK farmers is that after 10 years all tariffs and quotas on Australian agriculture will be lifted. Australian beef producers can’t believe their luck.

        1. tiebie66

          I don’t expect that to happen – haven’t the Brexit negotiations shown that the UK can’t be trusted? Sign now, negate later? But perhaps you have reason to believe that the UK will follow a different playbook with Australia?

  13. Tom Stone

    I’m really looking forward to Joe Biden’s speech tonight.
    Perhaps we’ll get on update on the efforts to restore America’s soul?
    Or since it’s close to Christmas perhaps a short sermon on loving your neighbor…

    1. griffen

      I have a standing appointment, some fellow named Brandon. I’ll have to get the speech recap on this afternoon’s WC!

      We are not red states or blue states. We are United States, including you deplorable bunghole types who refuse to mask or take the 3-pronged vaccine dosage. \sarc

  14. Jason Boxman

    So remember COVID-parties in the beginning, when some thought just getting infected and moving on would be the way forward. Omicron certainly demonstrates what a terrible idea that was, even though it was clearly a bad idea at the time. There’s no durable immunity from corona viruses, however one happens upon an immune response.

    Elimination continues to be the only way forward; else we’re going to dance with viral evolution for quite a while. I don’t want to play the odds that this someday becomes less dangerous, rather than more. As long as it can spread successfully, whatever happens to the host thereafter isn’t relevant… that’s a lot of potential carnage.

      1. chris

        With government support in a civilized society. If the hosts stop moving and spreading, the virus dies. It is completely possible. It’s possible even though we’ve made decisions contrary to it all along.

        Sarcasm isn’t a valid response in this context. Especially when the reason the virus is endemic is because we failed to do what we should have done.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          i started yelling about that around here in february 2020(thanks to NC, of course)
          knew it wouldn’t happen.

          but i think about walmart and micky d’s spending all that bribe money over all those years fighting against a $15 minwage…and then, suddenly, offering $20/hour starting wage, with a sign on bonus, to boot!

          it’s the same with the “response” to pandemic.
          blew a bunch of jack doing nothing of consequence, and then whine about how we cain’t afford a 2 week fully funded lockdown….that could actually end this mess, once and for all.

          sure…a lot harder now than at any point since the virus’ emergence(still not apparently allowed to know fer sure about that, either)…but still.

          another thing that’s been in my head since 2-2020: this is a fubar attempt to LIHOP some herd management by the davos set.
          too many “useless eaters”, as it were.
          so let her rip, and cull the bewildered herd.
          Foily? why yes…yes it is.
          but, aside from the continuing problems with reading actual , physical books, what the pandemic has done for me is make me even more curmudgeonly and ever more keen on withdrawal and personal secession.
          my congenital preference for Humanism is at an all time low, and I stave off misanthropy daily.
          80 years to go with Nietzsche’s predicted 200 years of Nihilism.

          1. Stillfeelinthebern

            Thank you Amfortas for saying so well how I feel as well.

            The aged “useless eaters” will cost a lot less SS and Medicare.

        2. mike

          the reason the virus is endemic is because it was too contagious to keep in its place of origin. once it spread beyond the local region the cat was out of the bag. there is no amount of government support that can stop it. I am not being sarcastic at all. I think the request for zero covid is beyond absurd even though we would all like it to be a possibility

          1. TBellT

            China , Japan , Australia and New Zealand, all have 10-100 deaths per 1 million, proving it’s doable. Rest of us are getting to above 2k.

            Typical “American Exceptionalism”, ignore models working in other countries and call them unrealistic, just like with single payer.

            1. Amfortas the hippie

              i hear tell there’s affordable and professional dentistry in the Third World country a few hours to my south.
              in fact, from what i hear from my extended adopted familia, a whole lot of pretty good* healthcare is available affordably in Mexico.
              haven’t checked for myself(as i have no money anyway)

              i hear even better things about the other Third World Country,just a lil bit farther away(Cuba).

              I had stitches removed in an ER in Montreal, 35+ years ago…and it made an impression on me, how they refused grandad’s open wallet.

              The way “we” do healthcare is a frelling Choice, not an act of god.
              but the people who we hire, as it were, to make such choices, firmly believe it’s an act of god, and therefore cannot be questioned.
              Moloch must have his sacrifices, after all.

              (* usually said in a way that strongly implies, “surely better than no healthcare, no?”…since neither they, nor i, can afford it, here)

            2. Medbh

              Yes, claim it can’t be done even as it’s already being done elsewhere.

              And which countries have more “freedom?” The ones that comes down like a hammer when the problem is small and manageable, and spend most of the year living normal life; or the ones where they let it rip, overrun the hospitals, continuously need more invasive interventions like lockdowns, and encourage the evolution of more transmissible and dangerous variants.

              We’ve already run a 2 year experiment and the zero covid strategy has done better on all measures.

          2. chris

            Strongly disagree. At a minimum, we should have the same quarantine and isolation procedures for all international travel as they do in other countries. That along would have helped.

            But we never wanted to treat this seriously. We did the minimum to help people through this. It didn’t have to spread like this. And future variants of concern don’t have to spread like this latest has either.

          3. Basil Pesto

            Wrong. No airborne virus can survive population-wide masking. See here for example.

            Melbourne in 2020 used a mask mandate (combined with lockdown, but lockdown alone was insufficient) to reduce daily cases from ~900 to zero (0). It is plainly possible.

            Melbourne’s 2021 lockdown was to buy time for a vaccination campaign. There was a mask mandate but delta was more transmissible than the variant that was threatening to surge out of control in 2020. Airborne transmission has never been adequately explained to the public. Vax vax vax was contemporaneously and incorrectly being sold as “the road out of the pandemic”, leading to lax mask-wearing practice. An explanation of proper masking, why it’s important, and what it can achieve has not been forthcoming to this day, and mask standards in public vary from non-existent to terrible.

            Watch what happens when a government supplies – just as they have been with masks – N95 or equivalent masks to a population for as long as needed – the virus will disappear, at least to levels low enough that competent contact tracing can manage it while life carries on as normal for the rest of the population. If access to the mucosa is efficiently blocked across a whole population, the virus cannot continue to propagate, and will die out. That’s the hypothesis, let’s test it (even though it already has been on first principles, let’s keep testing it), and see what happens. Delaying is a bad idea. It will only get harder to control as the virus becomes more transmissible. But not impossible.

            Received wisdom of the “zero covid is impossible” sort does not come to us out of the clear blue sky, and has in fact been carefully cultivated as a bit of pernicious received wisdom over the past two years in the face of persuasive evidence to the contrary. This virus is not indomitable. We know how it spreads, and that means we know how to stop it. Let’s get on with it, let’s at least try these plausibly successful strategies, instead of thoughtlessly regurgitating unscientific pablum of the “it can’t be stopped it’s too contagious the cat’s out of the bag” variety. If they don’t work, you can say “I told you so”, if they do, we’ll all be better off.

        3. Zamfir

          @chris, what would be the plan, honestly asking without sarcasm? I have some sympathy for zero-covid as a goal, but the challenges to get there seems rather large.

          If I look at the downward slope of COVID waves, they don’t seem to get much steeper than a 3 or 4 fold reduction in 1 month, for many different places and times.

          Here in Europe, the summer bottom of waves is still far above “zero” levels. Something like 10, more likely 100 times higher compared to “zero” places that can spend massive resources on every individual outbreak.

          To get to such low numbers, we would have to go to the bottom of a wave, and then somehow continue the downward trend for another 3 to 4 months. At that point, we’re losing advantages, that’s why the trend reversed at the bottom of previous waves. Seasonal effects start to go in the other direction. Antibody levels from the previous peak are dwindling. Support among the population dwindles, as the absolute level of COVID is now low.

          Something has to compensate when those advantages are gone with still several months to go. Lockdown measures at low circulation levels, possibly without democratic support? Booster vaccine shots, mandated or not? Something lighter? But if something lighter works, we don’t need zero anymore.

          And there’s the geographic challenge. At lower levels in one region, imported cases become more sensitive, borders have to be guarded harder, with quarantines and all. I don’t see obvious lines in my neighbourhood where such a border could be drawn. The national borders would be an option, but it would be extremely disruptive. So many people whose daily life crosses those borders, so many activities that rely on cross border traffic. A quarantine border around the EU might be another option, but then all countries within would have to follow the zero-covid plan. What authority would organize that? What if 1 country fails to follow the downward path, by choice or by accident? At the EU level, there is neither the mandate not the capability to correct such a country – and creating such authority would be the largest political event in generations.

          Perhaps there is some plan that tackles these challenges (and more that I am not foreseeing now). I would be interested in such a plan! But it’s not obvious, at least to me.

          1. chris

            I can’t speak to the challenges in Europe. But in the US, what it requires is shutting down interstate and intrastate travel. We all stay home for at least 3 weeks. That will require a lot of government support. It will require a lot of federal and state and local government coordination. It will require preparation. But it can be done. It will be expensive. But so is limping along with the status quo of randomly shutting down business sectors and frightening losses in productivity.

            I have no confidence it will be done. Here or elsewhere.

            1. Jason Boxman

              True enough. Imagine the level of coordination and resolve to defeat the Axis in WW2. It’s not like we haven’t done this before as a society.

            2. Zamfir

              Why would 3 weeks be enough? Some countries in Europe came pretty close to what describe early in 2020, Italy, Spain, France, these countries had enforced lockdowns where police patrolled the streets on anyone leaving their house without approved reason. This did not reduce the virus anywhere near zero. In fact, it not go down much faster than in other countries, or in other waves. At the observed rate, they would have required many months more, not weeks.

              Clearly, the systems had leaks. A plan to go to zero in a few weeks needs a comprehensive view what those leaks were, and how they will be plugged in the better plan.

              Perhaps that’s possible! Just don’t handwave the challenges away.

              1. Yves Smith Post author

                The EU has freedom of movement in the Schengren area. Italy or France locking down has limited impact unless all the EU locks down together. But public health decisions are reserved to individual states so that never happened.

                1. Zamfir

                  I know, I live here ;-) I am trying to get a grip on the time it would take to get to “zero” (something resembling western Australia), and what it would take to achieve such a time.

                  Some European countries had several months of fairly strong measures in 2020, and they were still quite far from zero at the bottom of the wave – at the bottom, there was still large-scale community spread. By extrapolation, some extra months at the same rate of decline would have gotten to zero.

                  If I am not mistaken, Melbourne later that year implemented a similar set of measures and did get to zero. Requiring something like 3 months, though from a lower starting point.

                  Chris proposes 3 weeks, which seems very optimistic given those examples.

                  This is important, I think. Even if we assume an optimistic case, a strong, Europe-wide ( or US-wide) campaign to get to zero, would it take 3 weeks, 3 months, or yet more?

                  1. Basil Pesto

                    Thanks for the posts, the challenges are real and do need to be reckoned with.

                    from what I understand from some of GM’s posts, the mass testing regime as used in China negates the need for a ‘to-zero’ lockdown of more than 6 weeks. iirc I don’t think China has had a lockdown longer than 1 month anywhere since the Wuhan outbreak. This regime wasn’t used in Aus/NZ at any point. But I can’t explain this testing technique as well as GM might. I’d just add that the 2020 Melbourne lockdown ended slowly out of an abundance of caution, I think. It probably didn’t need to be as long as it was.

                    Another vital difference is that there is a better collective understanding of how the virus spreads now, but still this is poorly understood publicly. By acknowledging and understanding how it spreads, we can collectively take better measures to stop it from spreading than were taken in the 2020 Euro lockdowns, and this could in turn partially obviate the need for long and arduous lockdowns:
                    – state supply of KN95/P2 masks to all residents is a bare minimum
                    – explain the importance of ventilation (France is doing this quite well atm, it seems)
                    – as ventilation alone is not enough for reducing risk to acceptable levels, air cleaning is important. For example, HEPA filter air purifiers could at least be supplied in institutional settings (including for example apartment buildings with common areas). Possible rebates on offer for home air-purifiers if the state’s unwilling to pay for them outright. Encouragement of Corsi-Rosenthal box manufacture and distribution in communities.

                    You’re right, it’s important to address the challenges and how they might be resolved rather than hand-waving them away. Heavy-handed emergency powers could well be required; but then, this is an emergency and that is why these powers are provided for in many states’ constitutions. The possible upside, per China, is that the problem will then effectively disappear (and the more countries in the world that do this, the easier it will be), or at least become a lot more manageable. It’s hard to conceive of how at least trying this strategy, instead of searching for rationalisations not to (and I’m not saying that’s what you’re doing!) could be any worse than what we’re doing now.

                    1. Zamfir

                      Yeah, though that suggests a two-step approach – first, see how far you get through “easy” measures that can be sustained indefinitely, evaluate how effective they are, then organize a final push to zero.

                      Possibly, there is not much appetite left at that point. That seems to be the case in Japan – they have had fairly good control of circulation from the start, and don’t feel much need to go further to full elimination

                      On a completely different note, I am unhappy how HEPA became the standard for stand alone air purifiers.

                      HEPA comes with real downsides – high flow resistance leading to more expensive systems and noise, more expensive replacement filters.

                      In return, it gives a high filtration effiency that is pointless in a stand alone system – the cleaned air is immediately mixed with the dirty room air.

                      In such a system, you have to optimize flow rate multiplied by efficiency. That product tells you how much particles are removed. A little more flow rate compensates for lower efficiency.

                      The Corsi box system is excellent on that. It does not come anywhere close to HEPA levels of filtration efficiency, but creates high flow rate. That’s a strength, not weakness compared to HEPA systems.

            3. drumlin woodchuckles

              It would then require sealing the border with airtight rigor, and having the quarantine quarters for anyone from overseas,and also any American coming back from overseas, to spend 2 weeks in quarantine before being released into society, if an end-of-quarantine test determines no covid.

      2. Roland

        If the whole world had done as the PRC, this pandemic would have been over more than a year ago.

        Covid is a contagious illness. No contact, no contagion. Therefore, minimize contact! Q.E.D.

        The costs of a strict general quarantine would have been more manageable than those of the confused and ineffective policies that have overseen by most of the world’s public authorities.

        This is not a partisan matter. Almost everybody screwed up: USA, EU, UK, Russia, India, Brazil, Canada, etc.

        What we all need to do is to admit we screwed up–and then stop screwing around.

    1. TBellT

      don’t want to play the odds that this someday becomes less dangerous, rather than more.

      Unfortunately we don’t get to make that decision. Unless you can completely hermitify yourself , you’re playing this game with everyone else. It’s coop not versus, and our team sucks.

  15. TheMog

    Might be feeling like I need an extra layer of foil today. A few thoughts on the BBB fiasco, sorry, expected outcome so far.

    – Predictably, one of the responses I saw to @RealTimBlack’s tweet was of course “but that’s why we need to vote for the Dems in 2022 so they can pass this legislation”. It’s almost like there are people out there that couldn’t be bothered to notice all the games being played and the “good pol, bad pol” routines that seem to be obvious to me.
    – Joe Manchin makes a convenient scapegoat, obviously. That said, from what little I understand of WV politics (have only lived there for a few years), it seems like the Manchin family is/was pretty entrenched in the state’s Democratic party machine. Some sort of rogue politician he clearly ain’t, although he seems to be a little less agreement capable that some of his brethren.
    – The parts of the BBB most publicised and objected to seem to fall right into the categories that the PMC tends to object to, namely giving the undeserving and unwashed money that might help them cope a little better. Can’t remember if they’re currently in or our, but there was pretty obvious silence on benefits like SALT deductions.
    – In the daily propaganda broadcasts (at least out here, where we get the DC local news in addition to the nationwide stuff), everybody talks about “President Biden’s agenda”, which seems to serve them well to remove the party from the picture. I don’t think that’s unintentional and may even serve to further entrench the Dim’s hippy punching tendencies because “look, we tried and your representatives and thus you, the deplorables, don’t want this socialist agenda that will turn us into 1970s Albania”.

    Am I just channeling both Statler and Waldorf, or has anybody else noticed the above?

    1. Screwball

      I just read a bunch of people talking about the need for electing more dems to neutralize Manchin and help save the country from fascism while calling for forced vaccinations.

    2. Phil in KC

      Is it me or is anyone else tired of trying to figure out Manchin? What does he want? What doesn’t he want? Who does he really represent and work for? All these imponderables would be irrelevant if just a couple of R’s could be brought on board to do smaller bills on the child tax credit, family leave, pre-K, etc. Romney, Collins, Murkowski, Toomey, not a single one interested in reducing child poverty?

      1. Pelham

        I was in the same boat on the Manchin question until I finally heard that the BBB bill is opposed by about 70% of his constituents. So no matter how snakelike Manchin is, he does have one outstanding and valid reason for opposing the bill: He’s representing the people of West Virginia.

        A better question, then, would be what’s up with West Virginians? They broadly approve of most of the provisions in BBB but still reject it in the aggregate. Why? Maybe because the media and the Democrats themselves have kept hammering away on the, frankly, startling cost — although it’s really grossly inadequate spread out over years and stripped down due to program-itis — while failing to sell its individual parts. If Biden had really wanted BBB he would have A) put the executive branch thumbscrews to Manchin and B) toured W.Va. to make a more informed case.

    3. Michael

      I think the SALT deduction zombie will be with us for a while.

      Perhaps in the private discussions this was the point he wouldn’t agree to.

    4. Noone from Nowheresville

      Why is it that we say we are losing a class war and yet analyze the politicians and the political teams as if we are Monday morning quarterbacking?

  16. cocomaan

    I’m looking forward to people using the free federal government tests to swab their iguana’s/cat’s/dog’s mouth (or rear end) and the many pictures of positive tests coming back from such escapades.

    I think there’s a reason the feds didn’t take this step before, which is that it could be a PR nightmare.

    The Biden Administration is almost certain to send out shitty tests: expired lots, damaged tests, inaccurate tests, cheapskate vendors, etc. They haven’t done much right to date, why would they start now?

    1. Screwball

      I think I read somewhere you have to order them. How do you do that? What if you do not have a phone, or internet service?

        1. Boomheist

          The way I understand it, Biden’s people will be “standing up a new web pager” for people to order tests. This is a fine solution for the web page-savvy, ie internet and computer-savvy, and matches what every government has been doing for years – driving everything to the web and then becoming pissed off when people don’t use the system. The truth is, while anyone can call up a web page, like NC, and read it, even make a comment as I am, using a web page to register and order a test requires finding the place to start, then starting, then entering all this personal information, all needing ability to shift pages and views and scroll etc etc. I don’t know about you, but usually these days when I call up a web page the only damn thing I am looking for is the f**king phone number to talk to a PERSON and these days those are damned hard to find. So, among other things mentioned above, any system based on just a web page will not succeed because millions and millions of people are not savvy around the web and webpages. It used to be 40 years ago that instructions about using computers, the old pre-Windows kind, were famously impossible to read. These days just try to sift through the web page instructions. Try it.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            “… these days when I call up a web page the only damn thing I am looking for is the f**king phone number to talk to a PERSON and these days those are damned hard to find. …”

            amen to that!

            i can deal with northern tool or drtrimmer’s web ordering apparatus…but they let me do it without an account.
            a gubermint web interface?
            no…weird password i’ll never remember(or remember where i put the dern bit of paper its written on) is required…and 3rd party validation or the like.
            i understand, of course…”security”.
            but the human i get on the fone merely asks questions to try to catch me out.
            i can deal with that.
            and regarding the fone based gubmit interface…it’s terrible!
            like only one cashier on duty…designed to drive you to the robot lane.
            i get wallywhirled desiring fewer humans working for them if robots can do the work…but the fedgov?
            sounds like a potential (bad version of) WPA, to me….maybe even set a wage floor, etc while we’re at it.
            never happen with the current Dominant Minority running things.
            they must be displaced.

          2. NotThePilot

            I don’t know about you, but usually these days when I call up a web page the only damn thing I am looking for is the f**king phone number to talk to a PERSON and these days those are damned hard to find. So, among other things mentioned above, any system based on just a web page will not succeed because millions and millions of people are not savvy around the web and webpages.

            The funny thing is that I’m relatively young, work as a software developer, and have done little web projects… and I’m becoming more and more like this. It’s possible I’m just getting less patient as I get older, but a lot of it may have nothing to do with your computer-savvy as a user.

            The technical aspects (graphic design, security, reliability, etc.) of your average webpage are probably much better nowadays, mainly thanks to communal knowledge & infrastructure. But I think there’s been a monopolistic logic at play too, especially for large companies.

            Especially with newer companies, or if you’re entering a new space (this was sort of true for everyone while the internet itself was still novel), your website is primarily about marketing and customer service. I think over time, many companies start changing their websites for cost-saving and gate-keeping. I’ve never done front-end work for a company or heard it directly. It’s just my weird pet-theory, but you occasionally come across things that only seem to make sense as a way of telling the average customer “thanks for your money, now buzz off” without actually saying it.

            That said, I’ve actually had decent experience with the real-time chat support for multiple companies. It’s still hit-or-miss but I’ve slowly become more comfortable trying it.

  17. The Rev Kev

    ‘Thoughts with everyone in the London Ambulance Service, who tonight are down by almost 100 ambulances because nearly 400 staff are off sick with Covid.’

    Hey, wait a minute. If that is just the ambo drivers, then what about the actual doctors and nurses along with the support staff inside the hospitals? Is there no talk about bringing back those Nightingale hospitals again? Cause I think that they are going to need them.

    1. Michael Ismoe

      Calling Elon Musk.

      Self-driving ambulances!

      If you add a 50 dollar tip, we’ll make sure we’ll get to you in the first hour or so.

  18. Ghost in the Machine

    Otters seem like fun loving animals. Viewing the antidotes over the years it is impossible to hold Descartes’ view that all non human animals are just automatons. Or believe in homo economicus for that matter. It makes me smile.

  19. The Rev Kev

    “The Left would sacrifice the unvaccinated”

    It has been said that the best trick that the devil has used is to convince the world that he does not exist. Well I am here to say that I am seeing an equally successful trick and that is to convince people that the Left and Liberals are one and the same. You see it in the very title of this article. I do not think it is too far from the truth to say that a Liberal can be both a neoliberal and a neocon and will never question either set of beliefs as part of their Liberal identity.

    We saw that with how many Liberals signed up for Russiagate and will refuse to let it go that Hillary lost all by herself. And they have no problem with billionaires getting direct transfers of Federal cash while poor people have to be means tested because, well, because they are poor. And the cute thing about this trick is that when things go disastrously wrong, the people with power will turn around and say ‘ Well, this is what happens when you put the Left in charge of things’

    1. MP

      It’s not even hard; left=anti-capitalist, liberal/right-wing=capitalist. I saw a publication use the same conflation for Boric of Chile, which just shows the level of international illiteracy (or intentional misleading) of the US press.

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      out of pain meds due to…what? are they stuck on a boat somewheres?….so up at 2am tossing and writhing about…so i did a webwander…happened to find ross douthat first in my bookmarks, so i started there…and wandered all through the gestational confusion now upsetting the would-be New New Right.

      i like Ross…and i would likely tolerate Dreher and even Mary Harrington around my fire at the Wilderness Bar…but dern if they ain’t just as obtuse as the PMC Libs about what “Left” means.
      there are random trumpers in town who i am friendly with…especially at the feedstore, and the old lady at the counter where my beer comes from….they talk to me about this stuff…ask me what i think, etc.
      and when i insist that biden, hillary, pelosi, et alia ARE NOT OF THE LEFT…ain’t anything even close to Socialist…let alone Pinko Commies…they glaze over.
      does not compute.
      these kind folks…thinkers, all…after their fashion…admit to me that they really don’t know what any of those words mean.
      and that, my friends, is called “an Opening”…

      I’ve drilled into my boys since they could talk:”what’s the first step on the path to wisdom?”
      them:” I don’t know”
      me: “exactly!”.

      but then these same folks watch me exit the building…turn on the radio and get Adjusted all over again.
      i used to think that mass communication, including the intertubes, were a great thing, that could expand the realms of thought and enlightenment…but not any more.
      turn all that off, and go talk to people, and we might get somewhere.

    3. Soredemos

      They’re completely different intellectual traditions. The only reason they’re used as synonymous in the US is a legacy of FDR and his liberals bending to agitation from the left. Then the progressive-ish liberals were all that remained after the real left was effectively purged from the public sphere during the Cold War, so they were able to adopt the label of being the left-most part of acceptable politics.

      At this point liberals are running entirely on brand fumes from an era that most liberals actively despise and reject (Thomas Frank pointed out at some point that the Clinton’s of the world seem partially driven by a deep desire to repudiate the politics of their parents).

  20. TroyIA

    It seems like everyday the energy situation in Europe is even worse than before. The energy provider here in Iowa told its customers to expect an increase of 46%-96% in their heating bill this winter due to the increase in natural gas. Yet in Europe the cost of natural gas is 11x the cost of U.S. gas. I can’t understand how Europe can continue to pay such high rates for energy without sliding into a recession.

    Nuclear power plant strike, reduced wind, record German power price – Euro energy update

    German electricity prices soared ~13% Monday, as a high-pressure weather system across Europe is expected to reduce wind generation.

    The French Government has requested Electricite de France (OTCPK:ECIFF) restart offline nuclear capacity early, following news last week that two reactors would be offline for repairs through mid-January.

    Separate from the reactors in maintenance, EDF has taken the Bugey-4 reactor offline on account of a labor strike today.

    Nearly all of Western Europe now paying upwards of 300 Euros / mwh, relative to 25-50 Euros / mwh at this time last year.

    Meanwhile, natural gas prices at the Netherlands trading hub hit a new record this morning, up ~5% despite news of a looser LNG market in Asia sending supplies to Europe (now trading ~$46/mmbtu, versus US gas prices of ~$4/mmbtu).

    France has confirmed that Companies will cut power use in exchange for payments from the Government, in order to avoid blackouts this winter; meanwhile, analysts speculate that German industrial producers will cut production to re-sell power onto the grid at current spot prices.

    Compounding challenges for Europe, Gazprom (OTCPK:OGZPY) has told customers the Company will not offer spot gas sales this week.

    With few domestic options, Europe likely to look abroad for sources of energy, including major producers Equinor (NYSE:EQNR), Shell (NYSE:RDS.A) and Cheniere (NYSE:LNG)

    On the back of prices shattering records, it will be interesting to see if pressure develops to restart mothballed coal capacity in Europe this winter.

    1. Petter

      Yup. Here in Norway, which is 100% hydro, new record prices almost every week. The new government has legislated a support package for businesses and households to blunt the increases but it’s still a shitstorm – greenhouses shutting down etc. Example, the spot price of electricity was forecast to hit 8,22 kroner a kilowatt hour between 18-19 this evening. The price a couple of years ago, around 40 øre – think dollars and cents.
      Norway exports electricity to the Continent and now Great Britain – clean energy – and imports back fossil fuel generated electricity, all subject to a carbon tax, because they can’t differentiate clean from foul.
      I could and should go on but I can’t. Another wave of post-Covid has hit me.
      It has occurred to me that I’m an unreliable narrator – but not willingly.

      1. upstater

        You don’t get it… there are electricity markets. The invisible had of the markets is directing prices. Consumers will respond in kind, by reducing use and freezing in the dark. Then prices will drop. JPM is a huge energy trader and this has helped markets become efficient.

        Rinse, repeat.

    2. Skip Intro

      What a convenient time to take the plants offline for ‘repairs’, which can apparently be forgone or accelerated. Looks like someone has been studying US utilities’ skill in scarcity creation..

    3. fajensen

      Easy enough: We have high energy prices because infinite money, fuelled by negative interest rates, are powering into commodify markets, now that stocks and property markets are fully saturated. We just pay whatever with some more of the infinite money, won’t even make a dent in it, hence no recession!!

  21. LawnDart

    Although addressing a frequent topic of conversation on this site, I don’t recall seeing this having been posted or linked to, a newish Pew Research Center study attempts to identify predominant sub-groups within the two wings of the USA duopoly, with exception to what is referred to as a “stressed-sideliner” group, politically agnostic non-partisans that constitutes approximately 10% of adults.

    I see no reference to those of us who feverishly wish to see the two-party system spectacularly implode and who would then happily dance on the burning remains. And, likewise, I see no mention of minor outsider parties that are structurally excluded, such as libertarians and greens, from any significant participation in the electoral system: the “stressed-sideliner” as defined by the study doesn’t seem to fit.

    Nonetheless, this study could be of use to help us to identify potential areas of common ground, or divisions to exploit, amongst the self-identified members of the duopoly.

    Beyond Red vs. Blue: The Political Typology

    Even in a polarized era, deep divisions in both partisan coalitions

    1. Mildred Montana

      In order to destroy the current two-party-one-party system one must destroy the party system altogether. That means “packing” the Senate and the House, that is, doubling or tripling the number of senators and representatives. If the people are divided, then so too should be their rulers.

      The leaders of the French Revolution in 1789 were well aware of the dangers of factions leaguing into parties and thus made provisions for about 1100 representatives in the first Constituent Assembly. This was a huge number for a nation of only 25 million.

      In the US today, any “adjustment” to the number of representatives can only be accomplished by a constitutional convention and that, unfortunately, ain’t gonna happen. As Gore Vidal famously said, “No ruling class has ever abolished or even reformed itself.”

        1. Mildred Montana

          According to your link:

          “On this date [June 11, 1929], the House passed the Permanent Apportionment Act of 1929, fixing the number of Representatives at 435.” So the number of representatives has been fixed at 435 for almost a hundred years as US population has nearly tripled from 122 million to 334 million today. Why? So that the two-party-one-party system can maintain its stranglehold on American democracy (sic)?

          Your link doesn’t mention the Senate. I hold that if the number of senators were increased to two or three hundred, Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) would be what he is, just another senator from another state, instead of someone currently holding a position of inordinate and undeserved power.

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      i read through that with great interest when it came out…and couldn’t find me in it anywhere,lol.
      but i’ve come to expect being an anomalous isolate in this sort of thing.
      however…and this may be a feature of place, and the isolated nature of this place…i don’t really recognise my beloved local yokels in many of these categories, either.
      some, fer sure…especially the hard core partisan true believers…but the wishywashy around here are different than pew’s methodology implies…in motivation, in worldview, and so on.
      i like Pew, a lot…but i think they’re just scratching the surface, here.
      we need more safaris…better safaris…
      and many more lay anthropology field workers, scattered among the hoi polloi.

      1. LawnDart

        What doesn’t work for me is Pew’s 10% “stressed-sideliners” category, especially against Gallup’s results that indicate that a strong majority of Americans identify as independents, and not demorat/republicant. Perhaps USAins are becoming too embarassed to associate themselves with those money-grubbing, power-hungry, lying scumbags that have throughly corrupted our system of representation, now so rotten as to make a maggot barf?

        I digress…

        No matter the numbers, Mildred has it right– no ruling class ever abolished itself. So Karma’s going to need a little bit of a push from us to help her get started. Or, at least for now, for us to be the salt in the concrete.

  22. jr

    “The Hill” examines the connections between the Scientology-ish cult of Ricki Marcuse and the use of the “Privilege Walk” public humiliation ritual found in corporate diversity trainings:

    and John McWhorter examines Critical Race theory through the lens of religious belief:

    I’ve been saying it for a long time now: Identity politics is an umbrella term for the canon of a cult, or perhaps a cluster of related cults. It’s not a political ideology, it’s a kind of secular mysticism. Which is why it finds such fertile ground in the superstitious mind of the ruling corporate consumer-bots, it’s about control ultimately.

    Truly an age of chimeras and dragons.
    Speaking of which, here’s one for the D&D crowd:

    It’s a video by A.J. Pickett, D&D loremaster, featuring some of the lessor known dragons.

    Cobra-dragons! I’d love to see one of those cut loose on the Senate floor.

  23. antidlc

    Biden to announce plan for free at-home tests as he assures vaccinated Americans they don’t need to cancel holiday plans

    Biden hopes to reassure Americans that if they are vaccinated, they can still proceed with their holiday plans without fear of becoming seriously ill. Conversely, he wants to tell those who have not yet received shots of the potential for severe illness or death in the coming months.

    “The President will tell the American people if they’re vaccinated and follow the precautions we all know well, especially masking while traveling, they should feel comfortable celebrating Christmas and the holidays as they planned,” a senior administration official said ahead of time, previewing a speech that Biden hopes will reassure anxious Americans ahead of the festive season.

    By contrast, Biden will warn the tens of millions of Americans who have so far declined to get shots that they run a high risk of becoming ill or hospitalized as the highly transmissible Omicron variant spreads rapidly across the country.

  24. Rod

    might be?

    PRI’s Livng on Earth,
    has been running interviews on this issue all this year. Each one more sobering than the last–imo.
    and not just the “Oh, yea, I remember hearing about that” genre.

    Several shows ago was a jaw dropper about Women and Cancer and Medical Plastic.
    Medical Plastic Linked to Breast Cancer Relapse

    both audio and transcript

    1. allan

      Thank you for that link. A key part of the Living on Earth transcript:

      CURWOOD: Now, one does not want to needlessly extrapolate. But how relevant do you think this research is to the whole business of cancer in humans?

      MYERS: Well, there are so many, so many variables in that question, Steve, I don’t really have the complete answer to that. I can tell you this: that most of the professional organizations like the American Cancer Society have completely ignored the potential contribution of chemicals to causing cancer. They’ve got to start focusing on that because it’s very clear that chemicals do contribute both to the causation and the promotion of cancer. And now we’re learning that they also contribute to undermining the treatment programs that they themselves have been responsible for developing. So, they can’t continue to ignore this.

      `got to’ and `can’t continue to ignore’ are doing a lot of work there.
      It’s difficult to get a man NGO to understand …

    2. jax

      The “may be” of the micro-plastics debate sounds a lot like the past 20 years on climate change. It was 20 years of “may” or “perhaps.” Then 1.5 years ago the IPCC issued it’s “We’ve got 12 years to avoid catastrophe.” Nothing changed. Now we’ve got 10.

      1. Henry Moon Pie


        We needed to cut carbon emission by 7.5% per year beginning in 2020 in order to have a 50% chance of remaining below 1.5 degrees C.

        We’re at 1.2-1.3 degrees now, and we’re getting no ice at the North Pole in the summer (loss of albedo effect); not only is some permafrost melting but we have methane fires in the boreal, the Amazon has turned from a net carbon sequesterer into an emitter. We’re hitting tipping points one after another. And that’s before we even get to 1.5. Check out the EN-ROADS simulator. It has us headed for 3.6 degrees C of warming by 2100. That should be loads of fun. Think they’ll be worried about insurance rates or the price of gas then?

        So how are our wise and merciful leaders meeting the challenge? Thanks to Covid, we hit the mark in 2020. Too bad it’s all “back to normal” now because it’s back to “carbon emissions to the moon!” Biden and his buds aren’t worried. They’re relying on some Hail Mary technology, as yet undeveloped, that may well turn out to be our coup de grace.

  25. Carolinian


    Granted, we still have a way to go before our real-life Covid response resembles a sci-fi dystopia; nobody, at least not yet, has advanced a bill to propose turning the unvaxxed into human Clif bars. But we’ve certainly come a long way from the rhetoric of the 2010s, and from a progressive Left that once defined itself by its willingness to care for other people without caveats. What used to be a narrative of universal compassion has been replaced by a tribal snarl, one to which we feel entitled in our eternally self-conscious selflessness. My mask protects you, but your unvaccinated status is an attack on me — and so anything I do to you in retaliation is an act of self-defence.

    Or, shorter, our 21st century that started out with Lord of the Rings is fast turning into Lord of the Flies if ID Pol has its way. Covid is useful for the establishment since it turns threat level up to 10 and tribalism along with it. And it didn’t even take Covid because before that we had four years of exterminationist rhetoric against “deporables” and Trump supporters from some corners of the self-decribed but anything but left. The inconvenient fact that both the previously condemned and the current unvaxxed include Blacks and Hispanics that the PMC’s rhetorically support is not a problem when facts have given way to narrative. Orwell made a big thing out of narrative. Some of us used to think he was was exaggerating. Maybe not.

    With the season of love and peace at hand time to turn down the hate on all sides?

  26. DJG, Reality Czar

    Death Drive Nation

    It isn’t an easy read for being so on the mark. Yet I recommend that you take a look.


    “If the primary outputs of the sexual drive were, for Freud, the fostering of bonds between people, sublimation into creativity and the arts, and, in the mode of sexual reproduction, the production of new life, the terrain of the death drive is about severing ties, breaking things to pieces, and even suicide. And rather than being oriented towards change, or situated towards the present or the future, the death drive is oriented, viciously, towards stasis and the restoration of a kind of deadened past.


    “As Freud saw, the real opposite of both love and hate is in fact something else altogether: indifference. And here lies the true horror of the death drive: it is an indifferent principle of destruction. Insensate and unsatisfiable, it may well pulse within you, and undo you, but It Does Not Care About You.”

    Well, those are certainly hard splashes of cold water on the face—but we all know that Sigmund Freud is just some patriarchal crab, or we are all supposed to know that, being woke (which is a religion).

    Today is the Solstice, and winter begins. In the un-reformed calendar, the solstice coincided with Saint Lucy’s Day, 13 December.

    Here is something from one of the great religious poets. Here is something on death. Here is how art destroys the death drive:

    A Nocturnal upon St. Lucy’s Day

    ‘Tis the year’s midnight, and it is the day’s,
    Lucy’s, who scarce seven hours herself unmasks;
    The sun is spent, and now his flasks
    Send forth light squibs, no constant rays;
    The world’s whole sap is sunk;
    The general balm th’ hydroptic earth hath drunk,
    Whither, as to the bed’s feet, life is shrunk,
    Dead and interr’d; yet all these seem to laugh,
    Compar’d with me, who am their epitaph.

    Study me then, you who shall lovers be …

    [There’s more. The English language at its height. A love poem that talks on its own terms about love…]

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      I’ve always intuitively(!) preferred Jung to Freud…but yes, that was a slap in the face of an article, although once the slap happened, you realise that you knew all along.
      Wulf Zendik called our culture the “Death Kulture”, and said much of the same things 30 and 40 years ago(i met him when he was ancient and crazy(er), in circa 90).
      and people like Roszak and an hundred others going back to Blake have been shooting their flaming arrows in that general direction for a long while now.
      this guy:
      one of the first bloggers i discovered when i got online, has been all over this for 20 years. he’s somewhat repetitive, but i glean that he just really loves his subject matter.
      introduced me to David Bohm, McGilchrest, Jean Gebser…and my favorite philosopher that nobody’s ever heard of, Eugen Rosenstock-Huessey.
      (all spellin -3)

      as for the Solstice…as a pseudo Druid pagan guy, i regard today as the Beginning of the End of Winter…the sun will get further up in the sky every day from now until the Summer Solstice.
      so it’s a hopeful day…and my New Year’s Day, so i’ll have a fire and burn 2021 in effigy, and listen to a variety of weird music and think about what’s in my seed vault and where all that will end up on this place in a couple of months.
      so happy winter solstice/new year….and may we do better.

      1. DJG, Reality Czar

        Amfortas: “yes, that was a slap in the face of an article, although once the slap happened, you realise that you knew all along.”


        As to being more intuitively led to Jung, I agree. Freud tended to place his observations into Big Ideas. What’s bigger than the Death Drive? Jung is more about experience–and expanding the sense of experience so that each of us encounters the unconscious that we have individually and collectively.

        It’s also hard to beat the hypothesis of synchronicity.

        I have come to think of the time between Saint Lucy’s Day and Twelfth Night as the Two Yules, the hinge being Christmas (in a Saturnalian way, though, access to the great old god). Now is the time of the year when the veil between the two worlds is especially thin. And then, on Twelfth Night, the Epiphany, the divinity may make itself known. (Or not.)

        Who knows what can happen? With some compassion, with Buddhist metta, we can do better.

        1. Joe Renter

          Jung. Dreams, Memories and Reflections is a great read. His archetypes theory is, IMO a great step for psychology. His big emphasis on dreams is not to my liking though. I read through about half of Deirdre Bair’s biography of Jung. A worthwhile read too. Jung’s marrying money helped his ideas get out into the world.

      2. skippy

        @Amfortas … Freud basically came out in a late book and admitted he was a mythologist, my take on it was a huge finger waved around to be smug about it, such was his persona in many ways and lived for it.

        Jung on the other hand was the sort to strike out and look at was occurring around him and experience it for himself, before opining, yet like all things none should be put on pedestals and worshiped.

        Other than that the machinations present during the DSV-M revision was unpacked back in the early NC days, neoliberal ideology being inserted, especial the debt aspect, like Born all over again and no facts could change the course the agency demanded of it. So much so that my ex-wifes psychologists eyes would flicker when I inquired if they used it or the European text – who’s this guy …

        PS … If I don’t talk to you before the Chevy Chase holiday have fun cooking and drinking … shared with others … not to close please …

    2. GramSci

      I read this link at first with enthusiasm, and then with diminishing interest until I reached the gratuitous slap at Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Deserved though a slap may be on other counts, it is unremarkable that the third-most-populous state should have the third-most Covid deaths.

      In the end, to my mind Dr. Freud’s “Death Drive” is nothing but memory itself, dressed up in a post-Wagnerian Gesamtangstwerk.

    3. Anonymous 2

      ‘the terrain of the death drive is about severing ties, breaking things to pieces, and even suicide. And rather than being oriented towards change, or situated towards the present or the future, the death drive is oriented, viciously, towards stasis and the restoration of a kind of deadened past.’


  27. Carolinian

    re Berenson–this could get interesting

    Berenson’s attorneys also argue that he has ‘a uniquely viable claim that Twitter acted on behalf of the federal government in censoring and barring him from to its platform.’
    The complaint argues that his Twitter ban came just days after high officials including President Joe Biden called for a crackdown on pandemic misinformation on social media, and that the company was responding to government pressure in banning him.

    Berenson was banned for stating the fact that the vaccines do not prevent infection or transmission.

    1. Juanholio

      He has been at the spearhead of covid denialism on there since the start. Quite ironic he got the boot for saying something accurate! It’s a shame they didn’t boot him sooner, before he gained such a following with “smiley” types. It always makes me cringe when his posts gets bought up on here.

      1. Carolinian

        What do you mean by denialism? Think he agrees that Covid exists. But I admit to knowing little about Berenson since I don’t follow twitter and only recently have been reading his substack.

        But wrong or right censorship of anyone is wrong. Possible exception: Fauci. Him we should censor!

      2. Jim

        I’ll admit to feeling whiplash, as I go through my daily reads, which for years has included Naked Capitalism, but more recently also includes Alex Berenson’s substack; another called “Unmasked” by someone who regularly produces very revealing charts on his twitter page; and a sharp but snarky “Bad Cattitude.,” and many more. All challenge the current “vax, vax, vax, blame the unvaxxed” mantra that we clearly see has NOT stopped the spread of Covid-19 in any of its mutations. They do so with data retrieved from official government sources in the US and worldwide. Here at NC, swipes get taken at Berenson, the Great Barrington Declaration people, and others with medical and scientific backgrounds who challenge the orthodoxy. But there’s not the NC norm of serious debate in these cases – even though, more and more, commenters will point to treatment options being suppressed; vaccine inefficacy and actual harms; etc.
        Berenson’s lawsuit against Twitter challenges them banning him for saying something that was true then, and is true now. Only now we have “official” spokespeople admitting what he said then (and now) is true: that the vaccines do not prevent infection or transmission of Covid-19. The entire policy edifice of the past two years has been based on vax, vax, vax. As IM Doc explained so well just a few days ago, real medical practice (doctors seeking to use available resources, drugs, etc to combat something new) has been crushed. We need to be able to discuss this openly.

        I’m curious: why is Alex Berenson considered some doubleplus ungood persona? He was a NY times reporter for more than a decade, covered the Vioxx disaster, if memory serves. Not some random dude spouting off. His just published book “Pandemia” is on the best-seller list. Counting the Kindle edition, it may well be the top-selling book in the US right now. I’m a hardcore leftist. I don’t find his reportage of Covid policy deranged, not at all. Can’t say the same about the people who comment on his Substack – or on some of the other pages, however…

        Yeah, my antennae twitch when I see Hoover Institute people coming to the fore, making more sense than most of the NYT/WaPo/NPR/CNN/MSDNC crowd. But this is, above all, a complete failure on the part of the Left (an actual Left, not liberals) to provide any pushback. Jeremy Corbyn, to his credit, took a principled stand against mandates in the UK. Has any prominent political figure not associated with “the Right” done so here? This will redound to a massive wipeout of the Dems in the next elections. I see it as yet another sad consequence of Trump Derangement Syndrome on the part of liberals and “progressives.”
        When the “bad guys” tell you water is wet, while the “good guys” piss on your leg and tell you it’s rain, who are “normies” going to believe? There will be political consequences resulting from Covid policy, and most of us here won’t like what they are, if “the Right” makes more sense on this than do liberals. Dismissing serious criticism, and reportage, is a foolish approach.

        For an example of a real left-wing take on Covid policy, check out Jim Kavanagh, writing at his The Polemicist site:

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Some sources are so regularly wrong (and worse, utterly unconcerned about that) that I am not keen about allowing commentors to mislead readers by touting them as worthwhile and reliable.

          Among other glaring problems with Berenson is that he’s close to a Covid denialist. He’s run the “Covid is no more serious than the flu” and “Masks don’t work” tropes, both of which are false. The fact that he is correct on some matters does not even remotely make him careful or accurate.

          He wrote a flagrantly inaccurate book on marijuana:

          See on his bad Covid calls consistent with his Covid denialism, like we’d never get to 500,000 deaths:

          Note this article was written before Delta became dominant in the US. The vaccines were developed on wild type and not only reduced serious cases back then but even reduced contagion. That changed with Delta, which has far more brute replication force.

        2. Basil Pesto

          a real left-wing take

          jesus, who cares? tortuously trying to shape your response to and analysis of a once-in-a-century pandemic around your pre-existing belief system is only going to lead to bias and error, whether it’s from the left or the right. It benefits no one, and besides that is staggeringly inane. If we’re more interested in good left/right praxis than actually solving the problem in the most rational and humane way possible, as appears to be the case, then we’re in deep, deep shit.

  28. Wukchumni

    Sports Leagues Are Showing Us Just How Bad Omicron Could Get Atlantic (David L)
    Just prior to lockdown numero uno, pro sports was the first to lock ‘r down, and the NHL has paused their season with others to follow surely.

    I suspect ski resorts in Cali will be soon next, but not until the lucrative xmas holidays period is said and done-their busiest time of the year and ought to be most excellent as there will be oodles of snow as opposed to the last couple of niggardly winters. The idea that skiing is the one sporting activity that tends to bring in those walking the planks by air, only adds to the risk of infection in jets flittering to and fro.

    1. foghorn longhorn

      The NHL and NBA can shut down, nobody cares.
      But there is NO WAY the NFL is going to shut down.
      This is where corona meets big money, care to venture a guess on the victor.
      Look what they did to Cleveland last night, basically ended their playoff aspirations.

      1. Wukchumni

        But think of all the college football players who will get their ‘cup of coffee’ filling in for the fallen.

        Poor Cleveland, they couldn’t even spell the city correctly (the founder was named Moses Cleaveland) and watching all those players in their first NFL start in a game with major playoff* implications was a bit startling yesterday.

        *They were either going to be first in their division or last in their division depending on the result, but nailed the latter.

    2. Maritimer

      The Oligarchs must be getting antsy about both their investments in monopolistic franchises and those in highly skilled athletes. Pretty risky having your stars injected with possibly career ending experiments.

      As for the players like Irving and Rodgers, they seem to think that their businesses, i.e. their bodies, should be carefully looked after and not injected with the first unproven injection that shows up. I would also think that by now the Agents too are concerned about the health and welfare of their athlete clients since they get a piece of the action. Some may even be recommending prophylaxis and treatment a la FLCCC. Only their open minded Doctor knows for sure.

      1. Jim

        It’s rather remarkable, how after all the condemnation Rodgers received (all the ESPN talking heads scoffed at him; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar essentially denounced him), his case has vanished down the memory hole. Hundreds of pro athletes are “in the protocol,” prevented from practicing or playing because they tested positive, even though they are double and triple vaxxed. The non-vaccinated Aaron Rodgers, meanwhile, quickly recovered from his bout with Covid – does anyone recall, did we ever get word that he was particularly ill? – using some of those not-to-be-mentioned-treatments, and is back playing at MVP level. I’ve watched a couple of Packers games since his return. Studious avoidance of the subject by the announcers, any TV pundits or sportswriters. Consent manufacturing is a booming industry.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Getting Covid increases your odds of getting cancer due to T-cell exhaustion and derangement. IM Doc can name 8 people who in the last year have gotten a theoretically rare cancer…confirmed by hearing of only 2 cases in the 30 years before that. Treating getting Covid as no big deal because you appear to have gotten over it misses immediately not-obvious health costs.

          And pro athletes as representative? Are you serious?

          1. Jim

            I don’t mean to imply that it’s no big deal, for elite athletes, or anyone else. It’s the “vax, vax, vax” push that is troublesome, with no word of treatments for those who contract Covid anyway, vaxxed or not. Nor do we know the long-term impact on T cells, or much else, from the mRNA shots. Especially for kids! I’ve not seen Aaron Rodgers make out like Covid was no big deal. It’s the absolute silence on the part of the chattering class, after he recovered quickly, that is of interest. We all know what the media coverage would be like in the case of a negative outcome.

            Fully aware that coincidence is not causation: less than two months after my second Pfizer shot, I started having, for the first time in my life, unremitting heart palpitations that went on for 10 weeks, which stopped only after a heart attack and a couple of stents. There are enough reports of people with arrhythmia and other cardiac issues after these shots, that I’m not keen on being forced into injection number three, four, etc. just to be allowed to function in society. Especially not with “leaky” shots whose efficacy is short, at best.

            I mentioned Aaron Rodgers, because he became a target of scorn for opting not to take the shots. He seems to be have been well served by a course of treatment which included the drug-that-must-not-be-named, also the object of derision. Other elite athletes, Joel Embid, of the Philadelphia 76’ers, for one, had a very rough time after contracting Covid. Presumably he’d had his shots. He was very sick, and for much longer than was Aaron Rodgers. It would be informative to know how each were treated, and to see how they do over the coming years and decades.

            We’re two years into this now, with a fast spreading mutation that evades the booster shots we’re told we must take, again and again, with no studies regarding efficacy or risks. We need a different approach.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              OK, I now appreciate where you are coming from. I am offended by so many people who ought to know better making over-confident declarations about the vaccines…and doubling down even as some negative evidence comes in.

              As for T-cells, there is a clear mechanism by which Covid can cause T-cell exhaustion. There isn’t one for the vaccines. However, I know of at least one person who got what amounted to a full blown Covid case after his first Moderna jab. Nearly had to be hospitalized. My guess is that he’d had an asymptomatic case he didn’t know he had and got his shot close to that. Based on admittedly one guesstimated case, it’s not hard to imagine that getting a Covid shot after a case….yet before your antigen levels have fallen back could have not happy effects of all sorts.

    3. Ed S.

      A very late reply, but the irony is that ski areas might be the epicenter of the acceleration of Omicron in 2022 just as they were in the initial waves out of Italy in 2020. My local NorCal ski area is ready to party like is 2019: Face coverings will not be required outdoors, in lift lines, or on chairlifts or gondolas. And back to full loading of chairs, gondolas (6 in an enclosed box or 50 packed like a rush-hour subway).

      1. Basil Pesto

        As far as I know, there has yet to be a Covid superspreader event outdoors. It’s all the après-ski stuff that would appear to be the risk in that situation.

        Although a fully enclosed gondola-style chairlift would be a bit of a worry.

  29. grayslady

    RE WaPo article on Social Security: The author never acknowledges that these offices are dangerous for patrons as well as staff. My local SS office is shared by SNAP, although buildings are separated by a driveway. The buildings are old, poorly maintained and a fire trap. Clients are shoved into one room with an inadequate number of chairs and one, 30-inch wide exit door. Even with an appointment, clients are waiting at least a half hour or more. I feel fortunate to live in a county that has somehow managed to hire caring public servants, but both the public and the public servants deserve accommodations that provide dignity and safety. Current facilities are inadequate to people’s needs even without a pandemic.

  30. marym

    Kellogg strike ends.

    In commenting on the ratification, BCTGM International President Anthony Shelton stated, “Our striking members at Kellogg’s ready-to-eat cereal production facilities courageously stood their ground and sacrificed so much in order to achieve a fair contract. This agreement makes gains and does not include any concessions,” Shelton notes.

    Highlights of the new five-year collective bargaining agreement:
    • No take aways; No concessions
    • No permanent two-tier system
    • A clear path to regular full-time employment
    • Plant closing moratorium: No plant shut downs through October 2026
    • A significant increase in the pension multiplier
    • Maintenance of cost of living raises

    1. Objective Ace

      Be careful with those pension multipliers. More important that they actually get funded. That’s a main reason GM retirees got screwed

  31. MonkeyBusiness

    Breaking News: Putin Is Finshed, Russia Is Drafting The Articles of Surrender To Germany.

    Ahead of her trip to Lithuania, where she visited German soldiers stationed in the country as part of NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup, Lambrecht called on Western nations to “put Putin and his inner circle in the crosshairs.” She proposed personal sanctions against Russia’s leadership if Moscow invades Ukraine, “for example, that they can no longer travel to the Champs Élysées in Paris to shop.

    It’s clear the German Foreign Minister should work for The Onion. Or the crazies are running the asylum.

  32. Wukchumni

    The flood of record around these parts happened about this time in 1955, and tantamount to tumblers on a safe, you need a perfect combination of events to get there.

    We will soon have 10 feet of snow on the ground here in the higher climes before the new year along with quite a bit down to say 3,000 feet, so the first part of the equation will soon be in place, only in need of a pineapple express to melt it out and bring on a whopper of a flood, and it wouldn’t be confined to just here, the entire Sierra Nevada is going to be pummeled in such a fashion.

    Snow is good in that it doesn’t really affect the burn areas like rain would, but were a warm storm to appear on the horizon with newly minted snow that hasn’t really solidified into an icy mass underfoot, the combination of debris flows and high water could be an awful daily double of sorts.

  33. Soredemos

    >Why are US rightwingers so angry? Because they know social change is coming Guardian

    “The American right might win the occasional battle – but they will never win the war against progress.”

    Aside from the fact that in what world is the American right anything but on the ascendant (the only thing holding it back now are its own internal disputes. The Democrats certainly are no obstacle), this blind belief in ‘progress’ is profoundly misguided, not to mention arrogant. There is no reason to think history is some inevitable march towards a better world. On top of that, not everything new that comes along is an improvement. “Progressives’ have a bad tendency to get roped into fads that are sold as ‘progress’.

  34. Bricky

    There was an interesting new post at Patrick Armstrong’s site about Russian “or else” options, if America doesn’t de-escalate. Patrick comes across as a lot more calm, sober, than the people at the Saker, although he has a lot of the same priors about Russian military superiority over NATO.

    Reading him, my personal opinion is that Putin will once again muddle through, and buy time. Russian officials have specifically said they will reposition forces if the west continues on course in Ukraine. To me, that sounds like moving missiles around in Belarus, Kaliningrad, Russian territory in the Arctic circle. Maybe some more bomber flights. I doubt Russia would station a hypersonic platform ship out in the mid-Atlantic because it would just be constantly surrounded by a bunch of top-of-the-line US navy ships making for “rusted Russian navy” articles in the western press and no real deterrent impact. More adventurous choices that would actually have propaganda value would be joint Russian Chinese freedom of navigation tours off the Gulf of Mexico or California/Pacific Coast. But that would depend on China joining and if they want to get that provocative. I also see informal pressure on European gas supplies to try to drive up prices as high as possible while still fulfilling long term contracts, which reminds the Germans what is at stake and also functions as simple monopolist profit maximization to make Gasprom more money.

    Coincidentally I do not think Western Europe has the infrastructure to switch to LNG if Russia were to actually cut off gas for real. They obviously could build it out but it would make for a really tough transition period (6 months or year?)

    It seems America and Germany have already told Ukraine to cool it, I don’t think they actually want a war now.

    So I suspect the most likely path forward is more or less status quo, with some Russian missile placements that the Saker will say pwn America, but that no one in the West will much notice.

    Russia seems on course to wait America out, with an assumption that the USA is set for a collapse within 5-10 years. I live in America and absolutely feel a deep sense of malaise but I can’t put my finger on the reason.

    1. Roland

      It all depends if the BMD is any good. If so, I see no type of conflict, or level of escalation, in which RF doesn’t get by far the worst of it.

      If the BMD is no good, then there are scenarios in which RF could score an upset win against an enemy alliance which, badly led as it is, nevertheless enjoys huge aggregate advantages in all military and economic categories.

      As a layman, the BMD question I can’t answer. Any public report is likely to be deliberate misinformation, so until the stuff gets used for real, God forbid, there’s just no way to know. In any case BMD can only be effective in conjunction with a counterforce first strike.

      Perhaps the aggressiveness of NATO in Ukraine indicates a high level of confidence among their leaders in their escalation dominance. But then again, we’re talking about a ruling class mostly composed of bourgeois financiers, none of whom have experienced a truly dangerous war. Bourgeois tend to overextend in good times, then panic in bad times. Ukraine could be just one more rotten tranche.

      As for RF, I feel for those poor b_stards. I mean, their credibility should be rock solid. I don’t see how any government could spell things out more clearly. Georgia 2008, Crimea 2014, Syria 2015: all of them mean that RF can, and will, go to war to counter any further encroachment upon allies or former SSR’s–each time with ample diplomatic warning.

      Since RF behaviour has been firm and predictable, NATO’s disregard is due, as I said, either to confidence in their escalation dominance, or to the folly of financiers trying to play at war.

      Put it this way: I’m glad I’m not on the RF’s general staff, because you’d have to consider the distinct possibility that NATO’s trying to maneuver you into a situation where they could justify a first strike. On the other hand, you could just be dealing with some of the biggest bloody fools ever to hold so much power. Either way, your warnings are disregarded, so you might have to go to war against an enemy which, on paper, has every advantage.

      Everyone else should be glad I’m not on that general staff, too, because I’d probably be a hawk. “Let’s go punch them right in the mouth! No fussing at the periphery! Take the fight straight to the enemy’s core. Offensive a l’outrance! Let’s slay seven or eight digits on the very first day, and see what they got.
      Even if we lose, our sacrifice might save the rest of the world from their rancid empire.”

  35. Pat

    I’m late to the party but thank Midge for me.

    That is one cute kitten with an irresistible belly.

    Many Scritches to her please.

  36. drumlin woodchuckles

    About the article . . . ”” . . .

    Nothing in this law stops Florida roof-owners from putting up solar panels to charge up their own batteries to run their own DC appliances on their own separate parallel wiring network inside their houses. Maybe that’s the path that Florida’s roof-owning solar wannabes should take instead of worrying about selling power back to the utility. People doing that could live almost their whole lives-at-home on their own rooftop DC power and DC appliances, and just use the grid as a backup batter to run what AC appliances they still feel they must still keep.

    Here is a company which sells stand-alone DC and battery solar power systems. There may be other such companies nearer to Florida.

  37. C.O.

    The WHO is recommending cancelling holiday gatherings…. hmm, well about that:

    BC, Canada provincial update:
    – omicron is replacing delta
    – incubation period is shorter
    – explosive outbreaks are happening
    – immune escape common
    – vaccine escape now grudgingly acknowledged
    – rapid take off in cases in formerly low case number regions
    – illness severity still not clear
    – high transmission among young people
    – now referring outright to a new wave
    – health system is in bad shape, scheduled surgeries are being postponed
    – health care staff shortages and exhaustion are already severe
    – R is just above one in most regions, but in Vancouver Coastal it is already 2
    – expected that everyone will be exposed

    New restrictions to be imposed until mid January starting December 22:
    – reduction of most social gatherings still further
    – gatherings only with the same small group of people
    – attendance at any bigger gatherings, stick to your sub-group (these should not be happening)
    – ban on indoor organized gatherings, whether in public or private settings*
    – bars and nightclubs to be closed again (not pubs, coffeeshops and restaurants)
    – gyms, fitness clubs, yoga studios, dance studios closed again
    – seated dine in service allowed in groups maximum of 6, stick to your group
    – capacity limits for seated events reduced to 50% regardless of event size
    – masks mandatory
    – vaccine passports required to dine out or attend any of the remaining seated events
    – vaccine passport enforcement to be increased
    – testing does not exempt anyone from restrictions
    – testing to expand, repeated emphasis that this should be rapid testing of people with symptoms

    *Outdoor alternatives to indoor gatherings are truncated due to new storms coming in for the next couple of weeks in much of the province, however.

    The province is buying lots of expensive new antivirals and monoclonals. No reference to any other antivirals or prophylactic measures besides the expanded use of testing, distancing, masking, and of course vax, vax, vax, boost, boost, boost. The focus they have is keeping children in school and re-opening campuses to in person learning. The minister of health couldn’t resist saying that these new campaigns would “pay dividends” to everyone.

    The original source for the notes here is this afternoon press conference:

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