Links 12/23/2021

Thousands of dead fish found floating in Mexican reservoir after tequila byproduct spill contaminates water MarketWatch (resilc)

A Dog’s Nose Might Be the Most Advanced Oil-Spill Detecting Tech Available Popular Mechanics (resilc)

Procter and Gamble Voluntarily Recalls 32 Aerosol Hair Products Due to Cancer-Causing Chemical Epoch Times (furzy)

Medical marijuana and autism: ‘I’m getting my boy back,’ mom says CNN (furzy)

When and why did human brains decrease in size 3,000 years ago? New study may have found clues within ants PsyPost (Chuck L)

Stoics as activists aeon. Go Stoics!

Alan Bennett · Diary: Selling my hair on eBay London Review of Books. Anthony L: “Some of us old farts await with bated breath for each annual Alan Bennett diary.”


News you can use:

The cost of being a US military protectorate. GM notes: “This is why Japan and South Korea never went for elimination even though they can do it at any time if they decided to…+

Quebec considers asking hospital workers with COVID-19 to stay on the job Globe and Mail (Dr. Kevin)


Wowsers (hat tip Basil Pesto):

Biomedical prof KLG reacts:

Well, about what could be expected! No?

There is no way a vote of 13-10 should be sufficient to approve any drug. This is not a goddamn election!

Reading through the thread and some of the replies…Haseltine is right, but he has been shunted aside by all those years of being something of a pill. So is James Hildreth. Not that it matters, but I knew him slightly when I was at Johns Hopkins in the late 1990s. Dr. Hildreth is now President of Meharry Medical College in Nashville. He knows what he is talking about, too.

The statistics in several of the figures are lousy, too. I am old fashioned. I want to see a dose-response curve or equivalent that does not need an attached statistical apparatus. I don’t care what the p-values are. But p-values are the thing, and the hide as much as they reveal, usually. Alas.

Finally, 30% effective at what cost? I remember reading $700 per course? Not even a solution in the so-called First World. Go Merck, go!

Cumulative Analysis of Post-Authorization Adverse Event Reports of PF-07302048 (BNT162B2) Received Through 28-Feb-2021 Scribd. IM Doc’s hot take:

I really need to look this over.

This is very early in the vaccine drive ending on 2-28.

Just at a glance there were over 1200 deaths and over 2000 anaphylactic reactions…..

Amazing just how bad they have been lying.

This is devastating and is an indication of how low this could possibly go.

More than 11000 not recovered as of the date 2-28 from whatever se [side effects] they had.

I assure you no IRB [Institutional Review Board] on earth would let this see the light of day with these numbers.

I would need to get the dates, but March 1 was I am certain still in the time frame when minimal vaccines were available and were being rationed by age, etc. This makes that all the more concerning.

Omicron Brings New Risks to Unvaccinated Pregnant Women Bloomberg

Israel to Administer 4th Round of Covid Vaccines New York Times (Dr. Kevin)

Novavax Says Early Data Shows Covid-19 Vaccine Protects Against Omicron Wall Street Journal

How did we get here: what are droplets and aerosols and how far do they go? A historical perspective on the transmission of respiratory infectious diseases Royal Society (Paul R)


China locks down 13m to contain Covid outbreak ahead of Olympics Financial Times


Spain to require masks outdoors amid Covid surge BBC (resilc)

From earlier this week, still germane (guurst):

Covid self-isolation cut to seven days with negative test in England Guardian (resilc). Would not be crazy (Omicron time to symptom onset faster than Delta) except the at-home tests have a bias towards false negatives, not false positives.


Life expectancy fell almost 2 years in 2020: CDC The Hill

Nurses in the United States Were Burnt Out Before Omicron. What’s Next? Vice (resilc)

Um, not just burnout. U.S. Hospitals Pushed to Financial Ruin as Nurses Quit During Pandemic Bloomberg. Private equity strikes again:

“This is like survival stakes,” said Steven Shill, head of the health-care practice at advisory firm BDO USA. Winners are “whoever’s highest on the food chain and who has the biggest checkbook.” The staffing companies — agencies that provide nurses and other staff on a temporary basis — are “really, really, really gouging hospitals.”

Saint John’s Episcopal Hospital Chief Executive Officer Jerry Walsh has been on the losing side of those battles, beat out by larger, wealthier systems while laying out thousands of dollars a week more to pay what he calls “exorbitant” rates to outside agencies to keep his hospital properly staffed. St. John’s, in a remote corner of Queens, treats some of the city’s poorest and sickest patients and relies mainly on less-lucrative government-insured patients.

Biden says he’s making 500 million COVID test kits available for free but hasn’t even signed contract to buy them and they may take a YEAR to arrive: Johns Hopkins expert says ‘that’s not a plan – it’s a hope’ Daily Mail. No, it’s called vaporware.

Supreme Court will hear challenge to Biden Covid vaccine mandates CNBC

The Slow Rollout of Rapid Tests Marginal Revolution. Read to the end, about Ontario distribution.

Hundreds of Inmates Set Fire to Prison to Protest COVID Cluster Vice

Airplane Passengers At Least Twice As Likely To Catch Covid-19 Because Of Omicron, Airline Trade Body Says Forbes (resilc)

How The Koch Network Hijacked The War On COVID Daily Poster. While narrowly accurate, it is not as if there are really two teams on Covid. Covid denialists and other cranks oppose masks and ventilation (and yes, above all vaccines) and depict getting Covid as no biggie unless you are old and or diabetic, and then you should already be dead anyhow to reduce the excess population…while Team Professional Managerial Class is all in for vaccines and mildly to seriously opposed to much of anything else save handwashing and keeping surfaces super clean.

What Would It Cost to End the Pandemic? New York Times (Robert M)

Weekly Schedule of Current Broadway Shows Playbill. Resilc: “Going dark”


2021’s climate disasters revealed an east-west weather divide, with one side of the country too wet, the other dangerously dry The Conversation. Reported earlier but important not to miss.


Brexit Impact Tracker – The End of the (Tory) Party? Gerhard Schnyder (guurst)

Brussels starts legal action against Poland over ruling questioning primacy of EU law Politico

New Cold War

WE’VE SEEN THE ULTIMATUM, WHAT IS THE “OR ELSE”? Russia Observer (Chuck L, guurst)

Washington Prepares To Fail In Ukraine American Conservative (YT)

Expanded Meeting of the Defence Ministry Board President of Russia. Guurst highlights:

I have already said this in public and will remind you of this again: American specialists were permanently present at the nuclear arms facilities of the Russian Federation. They went to their office there every day, had desks and an American flag. Wasn’t this enough? What else is required? US advisors worked in the Russian Government, career CIA officers gave their advice. What else did they want? What was the point of supporting separatism in the North Caucasus, with the help of even ISIS – well, if not ISIS, there were other terrorist groups. They obviously supported terrorists. What for? What was the point of expanding NATO and withdrawing from the ABM Treaty?


Will the Islamic world save Afghanistan? Pepe Escobar, The Cradle (Chuck L)

Israeli army rule allowing shooting of stone-throwers will be applied to Palestinians, not Jews Mondoweiss

Imperial Collapse Watch

Why the US is paying more for the military after the Afghanistan war is over Vox (resilc)


Joe Manchin for President Ryan Grim, Intercept

A noted historian did not like my last posting on Joe Biden’s inability to cope with Joe Manchin… GracchiBros

West Virginians Ask Joe Manchin: Which Side Are You On? New Yorker (furzy)

Merrick Garland Needs to Speak Up Lawfare

Christmas supply-chain crisis has been averted, Biden and FedEx CEO declare Reuters. Mayo Pete nowhere to be found…

Mass representative democracy Steve Waldman

Georgia’s Original Sin and the 2022 Secret Vote-Crushing Scheme Greg Palast

Woke Watch

Loudoun County Epilogue: A Worsening Culture War, and the False Hope of “Decorum” Matt Taibbi

Academic Ideologues Are Corrupting STEM. The Silent Liberal Majority Must Fight Back Quilette (Chuck L)

Our Famously Free Press

JOHN STOSSEL,v. FACEBOOK, INC. (BC). Defamation cases in the US are very hard to win and even harder to win damages….but this one might meet the high bar.

Supply Chain

Boomers, Mexicans, and Trucking Zeihan (resilc)

Warren Calls Out Big Grocery Chains for Putting Company Profits Over Customers Elizabeth Warren. Help me. Warren should stick to financial service regulations. The reason food prices are going up is: some poor harvests, high gas prices, food industry middlemen squeezing farmers and grocers, and Covid-related supply chain issues. Pointing fingers first and only at grocers is a major put-foot-in-mouth-and-chew exercise. That is not to say that grocers are not doing well, but they are far from the biggest contributor to food inflation and therefore can’t do much to fix it even if they were to go full altruism.

Hospital Prices Are Unpredictable. One Type of Health Coverage Often Gets the Worst Rates. Wall Street Journal. Important. Google the headline. Seems to work in getting past the paywall at least for this piece.

The Bezzle

The New Get-Rich-Faster Job in Silicon Valley: Crypto Start-Ups New York Times (resilc)

Guillotine Watch

Mark Zuckerberg Is TNR’s 2021 Scoundrel of the Year New Republic (resilc)

Class Warfare

“They’re literally making us sick”: Pharmacy workers describe conditions that sparked US walkouts WSWS

Antidote du jour (Bob H):

And a bonus:

And a second bonus (guurst):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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      1. Basil Pesto

        heh, when I re-read my post it actually reminded me of a mediocre Australian panel show that had that as its theme song.

        1. petal

          I loved watching Good News Week when I was there in ’99. Sure missed it after getting back home. Had a bit of a crush on McDermott. Great video, David, thanks.

  1. Steve H.

    > WE’VE SEEN THE ULTIMATUM, WHAT IS THE “OR ELSE”? Russia Observer (Chuck L, guurst)

    Boys with toys in the backyard still come inside to eat:

    Russia is the main EU supplier of crude oil, natural gas and solid fossil fuels

    The stability of the EU’s energy supply may be threatened if a high proportion of imports are concentrated among relatively few external partners. In 2019, almost two thirds of the extra-EU’s crude oil imports came from Russia (27 %), Iraq (9 %), Nigeria and Saudi Arabia (both 8 %) and Kazakhstan and Norway (both 7 %). A similar analysis shows that almost three quarters of the EU’s imports of natural gas came from Russia (41 %), Norway (16 %), Algeria (8 %) and Qatar (5 %), while over three quarters of solid fuel (mostly coal) imports originated from Russia (47 %), the United States (18 %) and Australia (14 %).

    1. David

      Oh dear. An ultimatum is literally a “final warning.” It says “do this, or we will do that.” In this case, the Russians have tabled a couple of draft treaties and indicated that they’d be a bit miffed if the West rejects them (which the US, at least, hasn’t so far). This is not an ultimatum, and the author spends the rest of his article speculating what might be necessary to turn it into one. I can think of better ways of using up pixels. The sooner people stop talking about an “ultimatum” the better.

      1. Steve H.

        David, if I recall, you’re closer to the front than I am. Is there really a chance at all that European nations will chose active shooting over energy supply?

        1. David

          They have nothing to shoot with. Other than the French and British, who have retained some capability but whose forces are massively overstretched and underfunded, the armed forces of other European nations have shrunk radically in size with professionalisation. The German Army, for example, is around 65,000 personnel, with two operational divisions, and that’s larger than most European nations. In any case, you can’t simply drive towards the Ukraine. There are no plans and no capability for European forces to deploy forward in numbers, and certainly not into Ukraine. It’s not even clear that most of the nations could. The most they could manage, I suspect, would be some forward basing of aircraft, helicopters and special forces, but that wouldn’t do much. Western elites in general are having a match-throwing party in a firework factory, unaware that fireworks can explode and there are no extinguishers around.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Not sure how the British Army would go as they have been so severely cannibalized for such projects as the horrible Ajax vehicle, the F-35, Elizabeth-class carriers, etc. – but with the smallest size army in generations. A long time ago I knew a guy that was part of the formidable British Army on the Rhine and I asked him what the most important part of his equipment was if the balloon went up with the Russians. Without blinking an eye, he said a return boat ticket to Dover.

          2. The Kurgan

            REFORGER. Return of forces: Germany. The cold war plan for US forces to flood Germany at a moment’s notice while the token force is steamrolled in the Fulda gap.

            The 2021 version is a strategic dispersal forces from the Arctic Circle in Norway to Romania on the Black Sea. Three sea changes since REFORGER in the use of conventional combined arms: Tank concentrations are impossible to mass without being destroyed, urban warfare resulting in held territory is impossible, and amphibious landing craft will never reach the beaches before being sunk. I am not aware of any realistic orders of battle for offensive operations floated in the public sphere. The unconventional / irregular force in civilian vehicles pulling into to the base parking lot gambit won’t work twice. The last time Russian motorized airborne infantry landed in Ukraine they got lost and captured. (Although I believe it was part of plausible deniability having not been needed.)

            If EURCOM was taking the threat at face value, you would see rail cars of full of vehicles being pulled out of storage in the US like the day Iran attacked Saudi infrastructure. Putin’s intentions are probably unclear even to his own high command.

            1. coboarts

              I was stationed in Germany for a couple REFORGERs, in an Improved Hawk unit. Three out of one hundred of us tripwires were expected to survive the first three days of the Warsaw Pact assault. Upon hearing that, the first thing I did was to look up and down the line to try to figure out who the other two guys would be.

          3. coboarts

            I advocate what I would call, “Aztlan Brigades.” Take all those who want a home in North America’s El Norte and give it to them following 20 years of service to construction, environmental management – and here’s the kicker.. military service. Let’s let Huitzilopochtli’s fighters run across the planet – yeah baby – let’s war!

      2. Carolinian

        The Russia experts I read don’t seem to agree with you.and say this really is an ultimatum and there are many ways they can mess with us.

        Which is to say if Blinken and company really want Cuba Missile Crisis two then the Russians with their hypersonic missiles and electronic warfare advances are ready to oblige. For one thing they could station nuclear carrying ships just off the 200 mile limit near DC and NYC. Europe may do what we say but the think tank Chickenhawks trash talk because they think oceans make them invulnerable.

        And BTW a recent poll says that the American public at large are not at all interested in having a war over Ukraine or putting their own lives at risk for the power fantasies of the elite.

        1. Tom Stone

          The Russians don’t need Nukes or hypersonic weapons to take down the USA, our power grid could be taken down in a matter of minutes and kept down for months by any number of Nation States and quite a few private actors.

          1. Carolinian

            The problem with that plan is that it is like The Day the Earth Stood Still. Nobody will believe you can do it until you’ve done it.

            Whereas evoking the Cuban Missile Crisis will definitely not be ignored. The article where I saw this idea was not suggesting that the Russians will do this.

          2. ex-PFC Chuck

            The whole grid “deregulation” thing was driven by – you guessed it – Wall Street. The legacy utility companies had been decommissioning small hydro stations for cost reasons and selling off the sites for whatever little they could get. In the wake of the 2nd Oil crunch that started in the wake of the 1979 Iran revolution engineers and entrepreneurs started buying them up, restoring/replacing equipment as needed, and approached the franchised utilities in the area to sell them power. Initially most of these sites were small, with peak outputs only in the 10-20 MW range. Furthermore many of them were no longer near high voltage transmission lines (typically 50KV & up), if they ever were. The utilities, however, were equipped to buy power only from their peer companies at the transmission level and were not interested in dealing with what at the time were mostly small business and mom/pop operations.
            That’s when Wall Street firms started setting up power marketing companies to buy from the small independent producers and sell to utilities. Several times around this time I recall control center managers complaining about the new marketing companies hiring away experienced union power dispatchers (the folks who man the 24/7/365 control centers the local TV reporters used to show up at during and after major blackouts) for double their previous compensation.

            It wasn’t long before they began funding the startups of much larger independent generation companies, mostly fueled by natural gas, and then they began pushing for break up of the vertically integrated legacy utility companies. When the “deregulation” train was well out of the station and at speed circa 1990, the internet was pitched by the marketeers as a major enabling factor. Some of us who’d been in the business awhile advocated air-gapping anything having to do with real time control but got nowhere.

            1. Lee

              “Some of us who’d been in the business awhile advocated air-gapping anything having to do with real time control but got nowhere.’

              Did they learn nothing from Battlestar Gallactica?

              Lessons from ‘Battlestar Galactica’ The Well, Campus News

              1. lance ringquist

                yep, it was nafta billy! always give credit where credit is due.

                remember his silence as the corporations raped california? of course he knew what he was doing from day one would destroy the worlds premier economy, and largest middle class the world has ever known, for the short term gain for a few.

        2. Maxwell Johnston

          One should maintain a sense of humor during this era of tension (which is likely just getting started). Fortunately, the good folks in DC are always ready to oblige (albeit with a sense of F.Kafka meets M.Python). On the one hand, all sorts of new sanctions are being threatened against Russia, including bans on imports of smartphones, cars, and aviation components. On the other hand, the US trade representative warns that Russia’s policy of import substitution is violating WTO rules. Them uppity Rooskies just don’t know their place:

          1. Eclair

            Am confused. The WTO/US will impose bans of imports if Russia does not buy US imports? And, ‘forced localization?!’ WTF!

            Oh for the good old days, when a US tourist could finance their trip to the USSR by smuggling in a suitcase of Genuine Levi’s jeans and selling them in Leningrad alleys.

        3. Michael Fiorillo

          The general public may have no interest in a shooting war over Banderastan, but other parties might have an unhealthy interest in one, and who really cares what the general public thinks, anyway? If it has inconveniently non-bellicose sentiments, it can be made to change them…

          While I’d still be surprised if we go to war over a failed (with much help from us) state like Ukraine, let’s not forget that #McResistance hero Adam Schiff and numerous others said we had to “fight them (Russia) over there, so that we don’t have to fight them over here” during Impeachment 1.0, and there’s no arguing with the fact that some of there people are getting really high on their own supply

          1. Jonathan King

            I’m happy to see that someone besides me noted Schiff”s restatement of the Domino Theory during the impeachment hearings. It doesn’t comport with the standard liberal view of him as a Trump-beating master legal strategist … even though the sentiment is as typically “liberal” as you could want.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              Facilitated by Governor Clinton letting them run their CIA cocaine through the airport at Mena, Arkansas.

    2. VietnamVet

      With Victoria Nuland back handling Russian Affairs at State; a new Maidan Coup is possible but the world has turned upside down since 2014 when Russia successful defended its protectorate in Syria. She is like the rest of the Obama crew — a corrupt and incompetent professional manager (e.g. their current non-handling of the coronavirus pandemic). They simply do not see reality. This time Russia has the initiative. The West is collapsing. Europe needs their natural gas to stay warm. Russia’s trouble is the festering trench war on their borders. Russia is exasperated. But, the basic problem is that the West is in end-stage Capitalism. Global oligarchs still want to extract Russian resources, once again, for their benefit; like they are doing to the Americas, Africa and Europe right now.

      The Kremlin to finally end the intentional chaos suddenly takes over ethnic Russian eastern Ukraine — dashing to the east bank of Dnieper River. NATO naturally overreacts thinking the next week it’s the Rhine River, and fires tactical nuclear weapons. The war ends with the Northern Hemisphere depopulated.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Why would the Kremlin suddenly do that after being strategically patient and careful for so long?

  2. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Yves.

    Further to the link about Brexit and the Tory Party, one has to wonder what took the MSM and Remainer PMC so long to understand the role of, not just the Mercers, but the Kochs, too. The likes of Catherine Belton and Carole Cadwallader have been flogging the RUSSIA horse for years. One wonders why. Are they also in the pay of Libertarian International?

    Readers will be delighted to hear that Libertarian International is backing Rishi Sunak for Johnson succession. They met at Sunak’s Malibu home last week, something noted by Sunak’s Tory rivals, but missed by the useless Labour Party.

    1. Redlife2017

      Thank you, Colonel. I too noticed this weird Russia obsession in the Remainer part of twitter. Like one of the big things they say is: “Oohhh, Putin SMILED when the UK voted for leave.” I mean the guy is a good strategist so he probably saw the vote and thought, OK, well, that’s one country I don’t have to worry about. They refuse to think that some of our “betters” are quite happy to sell us out not to the Russians, but to the US. Which links to the Sunak bit you noted above. I’ll also note that he was meeting with the Silicon Valley overlords on the same trip.

      People are very purposely looking in the wrong place. But this is par for the course with Labour over the past 80 years. As Dr Hudson sagely notes in his book “Super Imperialism”, it was Labour that sold out the UK after WWII with the war loan. To quote from his amazing book:

      “Having used free trade policies for two centuries to break down foreign tariff barriers to its own manufactures, Britain permitted this same rhetoric and strategy to be exercised on itself by US diplomats. Run largely by academics, the British Labour Party ended up believing the free trade doctrines that the nation’s economists had used to convince less industrialized economies not to go to the expense of protecting the economic potential of their own populations. Believing this mythology, British negotiators acted almost as if America’s gain was a gain for their own economy.” [it was NOT a gain, FYI – it’s very directly why the UK was still having rationing until the early 1950s.]

      I’ll note that the Tory Party is also luxuriating in an almost “death drive” driven economic policy in 2021. Some things never change (or as the bearded one most sagely said: “The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living.”)

      1. lance ringquist

        free trade requires war and austerity. its why it always defeats itself after much carnage, death and destruction.

        “bill clinton did this,
        NATO bombed Yugoslavia for 78 days following accusations that Milošević was ethnically cleansing Albanians in Kosovo.
        The late Milošević was quietly and de facto cleared of all charges by the Hague Tribunal in 2016, but by the time the truth came out, Yugoslavia was long gone, broken into 7, more manageable and exploitable, countries. One of those profiteers, Albright’s financial management company, was involved in the privatization of Kosovo’s telecommunications company. From Wikipedia, one can learn that she too likely profits well from her war mongering, along with other untouchables”

        bill clinton did this to the mexicans,
        “There’s no other option for us. It’s either certain death in our villages where we can’t survive, largely due to NAFTA, or maybe dying on the road.”

        “a bill clinton mouth piece,
        In a March 28 New York Times article, Thomas Friedman wrote:
        “For globalization to work, America can’t be afraid to act like the almighty superpower that it is… The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist. McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of the F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies is called the United States Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.”
        As NATO troops entered Kosovo, the same newspaper announced Kosovo’s new currency will be the U.S. dollar or German mark, currencies of the two countries most responsible for Yugoslavia’s break-up. And after months of being told that Slobodan Milosevic was the problem, we heard Washington Balkans expert, Daniel Serwer, explain:
        “It’s not a single person that’s at issue, there’s a regime in place in Belgrade that is incompatible with the kind of economy that the World Bank… has to insist on…”

        ” Bill Clinton elaborated:
        “If we’re going to have a strong economic relationship that includes our ability to sell around the world Europe has got to be the key; that’s what this Kosovo thing is all about… It’s globalism versus tribalism.”
        “Tribalism” was the word used by 19th century free trade liberals to describe nationalism. And this war was all about threatening any nation which might have ideas of independence.”

  3. pebird

    “You’re looking here at a baby dinosaur, not too long before it would have hatched.”

    Yes, if 200 million years isn’t too long.

  4. The Rev Kev

    “Brussels starts legal action against Poland over ruling questioning primacy of EU law”

    Poland may have made themselves easy targets here with their laws to do with abortion. The ruling elite have been making anti-abortion laws that would put a hard-right Texan Republican to shame. In fact, it is getting so extreme that they are talking about digitally registering every pregnant woman and miscarriage in Poland to keep a watch on them. With stances like that, Brussels probably decided that they would make a good target as the ruling elite would not get much sympathy in the rest of the EU in their quest to establish that EU law has primacy over any nation member law-

  5. WobblyTelomeres

    Re: When and why did human brains decrease in size 3,000 years ago?

    “We propose that this decrease was due to increased reliance on collective intelligence, the idea that a group of people is smarter than the smartest person in the group, often called the ‘wisdom of the crowds’”, added Traniello.

    Might it be something far simpler, like beer?

    1. Milton

      Isn’t that when proto-capitalism started in earnest? It is obvious that a mutant genetic sociopathic gene took hold, thus reducing the size of available gray matter used for basic cognitive understanding of the world around us.
      I jest, but only slightly.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      That’s a more succinct theory than mine. I was going to go with the Sea Peoples, who scholars have speculated about for decades, actually being brain sucking zombies

    3. GramSci

      Googling around I came upon this gem:

      Disconcertingly, Stibel points out that a “significant decrease in IQ has been noted over the past 30 years in many parts of the globe, with the largest declines occurring across industrialized nations.”

      There’s not much else in the link except the observation that IQ is a problematic measure of “intelligence ”.

          1. Molon labe

            2nd TV appearance of Ashley Judd. Her first was as the same character in an earlier episode—Darmok. It involved two cultures unable to communicate due to no common linguistic references.

        1. GramSci

          I was thinking television, which came later outside the US, or more widespread IQ testing, but a lackadaisical search hasn’t turned up any primary sources for the putative decline.

      1. lordkoos

        There has been shown to be a link between pollution and intelligence.

        From 2018 — “Air pollution can have a “huge” negative effect on cognitive intelligence – especially amongst older men – according to a study released this past August.”

        Interestingly enough, it is mostly older men who are running the show…

  6. griffen

    The article on hospital pricing is dare I suggest it a shock. Per some in the commentary who’ve frequently posted, from direct experience, welcome to the hell of hospital billing (which may likely be different than physician billing or specialist billing for anesthesiology). Read the fine print very, very slowly and with great care. Don’t have a stroke, or even an irregular heartbeat / mild palpitation.

    Not shocking. United Health gets a mention. And some parent company I never knew existed.

    1. Questa Nota

      Years ago I thought that health care companies were malign influencers because they absorbed leftover tobacco company attorneys and staff.

      Those were the good old days, before the healthcare singularity and self-directed behaviors. /s, only slightly

  7. Jason Boxman

    From Mass representative democracy

    Legislation is, in computer lingo, a very stateful application. Online deliberative assemblies will need to keep precise track of large numbers of lengthy documents and particular revisions thereof, which cannot be done on contemporary blockchains at a reasonable cost and speed.

    Computer source control systems, such as git, are good at this kind of version control. And git supports a massively distributed model. You’d need to weave in identity management, perhaps with GPG/PGP. But that just gets you robust document management.

  8. Jen

    On Merck’s molnupiravir. Probably linked previously. US gov’t to buy 3 million doses of Merck vs 250K of Pfizer. Am I being overly foily for thinking those 250K doses are reserved for a very specific population?

    Here’s hoping my electrician can wire the transfer switch for the generator by next week – then I’ll be set to hunker down for a while.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Apparently the fda was unpersuaded by Michael Lin PhD-MD’s arguments against molnupiravir. According to cnbc, the drug has been “approved” for certain “at risk” groups. No mention of whether it is an “EUA” or not.

      As if some sort of “approval” was ever in doubt.

      The talking heads on cnbc are suggesting that both molnup… and the pfizer drug could be taken together.

      “While 30 percent is definitely less than 88 percent [for Pfizer], this is still better than 0 percent,” said David Boulware, an infectious-diseases physician at the University of Minnesota Medical School. “Due to safety concerns, pregnant women as well as men or women who are trying to conceive should not receive molnupiravir.”

  9. John Siman

    Yves writes: “… while Team Professional Managerial Class is all in for vaccines and mildly to seriously opposed to much of anything else save handwashing and keeping surfaces super clean.”

    This is all true, and alarmingly so. But I would like to think that there is a third team — a sensible, non-hysterical, non-political team — that demands a swift and clear protocol for treating cases. In other words, a team that wants regular doctors to practice regular medicine.

    1. ambrit

      The Third Team might be lurking somewhere or other, but medicine in America has become fully politicized, and thus, immune to logic and reason.

    2. Tom

      In this analogy those people are the fans watching from the stands sadly. They have almost no say in the game – minor influence from shouting as loudly as they collectively can at best.

  10. Dean

    re: Cumulative Analysis of Post-Authorization Adverse Event Reports of PF-07302048 (BNT162B2) Received Through 28-Feb-2021

    I can only access the first 4 pages so can’t see the data.

    Do you need to subscribe to gain access? Is there another site with the information?

    The clinical trial results data submitted by Pfizer to the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee ( in December 2020 do not show 1200 deaths or over 2000 anaphylactic reactions. Data in Table 6 show 18 life-threatening events in 18,801 vaccinated an 20 in 18,875 placebo and 1 and 2 deaths respectively.

    Why is this data so different from that in the SCRIBD?
    Could Pfizer really not reported real data to FDA?
    Is it possible that 1200 deaths in participants would not have leaked out? Especially from family members?

    So many questions!

    1. Cocomaan

      Can you imagine if it was reported by an honest and curious media outlet that 1000 people were dead from vaccine complications as of 3/1/21?

      1. Dean

        If the 1200 did indeed die from the Pfizer vaccine that percent would translate into over 6.3 million of the 100 million Americans given the Pfizer vaccine would now be dead and over 11 million would have had anaphylactic reactions.

        Can you imagine those numbers not being reported?

        1. Objective Ace

          Where are you getting your numbers? It looks like ~ 80 million partial vaccinations in mid March and 240 partial million now. 2nd shots and boosters obviously changes the calculation, but simply multiplying 1000 by 3x (because 240 is 3x 80) is only a couple thousand which I believe is significantly under what VAERS counts

          1. Dean

            The numbers come from the original clinical trial where 18,801 participants received Pfizer vaccination. If the Pfizer vaccine caused 1200 deaths (Which IM doc stated the data in the article shows) out of the 18,801 that is a rate of over 6% deaths in the vaccinated. As of December 2021 over 100 million Americans have been given 2 doses of Pfizer vaccine. If it killed over 6% that gives over 6 million.

            1. IM Doc

              These numbers have nothing to do with the tens of thousands from the original trial cohort – That has nothing to do with this analysis.

              This is a cumulative analysis. These are done all the time in research or experimental drugs. I can assume we now do them on EUAs done on a mass scale as well. As I have stated many times, this is the largest PHASE III Trial ever conducted in human history. And it has been under no supervision of an IRB in any way shape or form as has been done for decades.

              The denominator in this situation would be how many subjects had been vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine up until FEB 28th of this year. It would be in the millions – but NOTE it would not be every vaccinated subject because Moderna and J&J were also being given at the same time. I just do not know the exact number. I have to admit I have not gotten the magnifying glass out on the fine details on this paper – have not had time. Usually this total denominator number is very visible – it may be – I have just not yet found it.

              If I had to guess I would say 10-20 million. And yes, that may seem like a low level of mortality – 1000 out of ten million. It is not. That is actually very high. This level of morbidity and mortality in any other protocol in a drug trial would have caused instant cessation in times past. Had this data been shown to my IRB, I can guarantee you the non-medical individuals on the committee would have settled for nothing less than complete suspension of the trial – only to be resumed once much much more was known.

              We are told in medicine that this has type of oversight has been suspended because of the dire status of the pandemic. I am OK with that as long as everyone has been as transparent as possible just as it was promised. It is crystal clear from this data presentation that transparency has been nowhere on their radar all year long. Those who have pointed out the extreme red flag signals in VAERS for example have been censored and heckled without mercy. But here we are.

              When thinking about transparency, I would also point you to the statement of Dr. Rubin, the editor in chief of the NEJM and one of the vaccine committee members. When asked about side effects of the vaccines in kids his statement was something to the effect that we are just going to have to get it out there and see what happens. He made that statement knowing full well this data in this document. Please do not tell me this data was not fully known by everyone on that committee. It makes one wonder what other data they know about – but has not been revealed. I always will come back to the promises made upon the rollout. Yes – we are doing this in this extraordinary time without all the usual testing – BUT in return we will be completely transparent with what happens and what comes out.

              They think we are all chumps.

              1. marku52

                The myocarditis numbers for young men are horrible. There is no value in giving these vaccines to young men (vs their very low risk of serious covid).

              2. Dagnarus

                They knew about the myocarditis risk in 12-17 while doing the 5-12 trial. They could have made the trial large enough to get an idea of whether little things like, does the vaccine actually keep kids out of the hospital with covid, and does the vaccine cause heart problems. Instead they did a trial with about 2000 participants, and proceeded to do mandates.

              3. John Grant

                In the environmental field,.the rule of thumb almost universally applied is one in a million. If a project will result in release of contamination and based on exposure modeling, would result in over one in a million cancer risk, mitigations must be performed to get the risk under one in a million. When I hear the risk probabilities associated with both covid vaccines and the virus itself, my eyes just about pop out of my head. It boggles my mind.

    2. Nikkikat

      Yes, it is very possible that data provided is incorrect or doesn’t add up. The FDA relies on magical numbers in approving drugs and vaccines all the time.

    3. BillC

      Re. Scribd access, “Do you need to subscribe …?”

      You do need to sign up (i.e. furnish a userID and operational email address), at which time you must provide a billable account (credit card or PayPal) and are immediately granted a 30-day free trial. If you cancel within the 30-day trial, you are not billed.

      I successfully used this a couple years ago to download the maintenance document for an FSA tandem bicycle crankset and shortly thereafter cancelled without problems. I logged on again today and was surprised to see (1) my original userID and password still worked, (2) I was again offered the 30-day trial, (3) the download proceeded as desired, and (4) both the old crankset maintenance document and the post-authorization adverse event report were available in my account for consultation and/or further download.

      Seems to work as claimed and the subscription brings with it access to everything else they offer, including some mass market books. The Handmaid’s Tale, inter alia, was promoted as I signed up.

    4. Objective Ace

      Pfizer data reported to FDA was based on cinical trials, 20-40k. The Scribd data is behind paywall so I cant say for sure, but there would have been many millions (or even tens of millions) of vaccinations around that time to base further data on

    5. Kris Alman

      None of the 75 cases could be definitively considered as VAED/VAERD?

      Surely we can trust that Pfizer/BioNTech has accurately made conclusions regarding early data of “severe or atypical Covid-19” and the CDC will be monitoring VAERS to keep the public apprised after mass inoculations.

      p. 11 Vaccine-AssociatedEnhancedDisease(VAED),includingVaccine-AssociatedEnhancedRespiratoryDisease(VAERD)

      No post-authorized AE reports have been identified as cases of VAED/VAERD, therefore, there is no observed data at this time. An expected rate of VAED is difficult to establish so a meaningful observed/expected analysis cannot be conducted at this point based on available data. The feasibility of conducting such an analysis will be re-evaluated on an ongoing basis as data on the virus grows and the vaccine safety data continues to accrue.

      The search criteria utilised to identify potential cases of VAED for this report includes PTs indicating alack of effect of the vaccine and PTs potentially indicative of severe or atypical COVID-19 (a*). Since the first temporary authorization for emergency supply under Regulation 174 in the UK (01December 2020) and through 28 February 2021, 138 cases [0.33% of the total PM dataset], reporting 317 potentially relevant events were retrieved: Country of incidence: UK (71), US (25), Germany (14), France, Italy, Mexico, Spain, (4 each), Denmark(3); the remaining 9 cases originated from 9 different countries;Cases Seriousness: 138;Seriousness criteria for the total 138 cases: Medically significant (71, of which 8 also serious for disability), Hospitalization required (non-fatal/non-life threatening) (16, of which 1 also serious for disability), Life threatening (13, of which 7 were also serious for hospitalization), Death (38).Gender: Females (73), Males (57), Unknown (8);Age (n=132) ranged from 21 to 100 years (mean = 57.2 years, median = 59.5); Case outcome: fatal (38), resolved/resolving (26), not resolved (65), resolved with sequelae (1), unknown(8);Of the 317 relevant events, the most frequently reported PTs (≥2%) were: Drug ineffective (135),Dyspnoea (53), Diarrhoea (30), COVID-19 pneumonia (23), Vomiting (20), Respiratory failure (8), andSeizure (7).Conclusion:VAED may present as severe or unusual clinical manifestations of COVID-19. Overall, there were 37 subjects with suspected COVID-19 and 101subjects with confirmed COVID-19 following one or both doses of the vaccine; 75 of the 101 cases were severe, resulting in hospitalisation, disability, life-threatening consequence or death. None of the 75 cases could be definitively considered as VAED/VAERD.In this review of subjects with COVID-19 following vaccination, based on the current evidence,VAED/VAERD remains a theoretical risk for the vaccine. Surveillance will continue.

      a* Search criteria: Standard Decreased Therapeutic Response Search AND PTs Dyspnoea; Tachypnoea; Hypoxia; COVID19 pneumonia; RespiratoryFailure; AcuteRespiratory DistressSyndrome; CardiacFailure; Cardiogenic shock;Acute myocardial infarction; Arrhythmia; Myocarditis; Vomiting; Diarrhoea; Abdominal pain; Jaundice;Acute hepatic failure; Deep vein thrombosis; Pulmonary embolism; Peripheral Ischaemia; Vasculitis; Shock;Acute kidney injury; Renal failure; Altered state of consciousness; Seizure; Encephalopathy; Meningitis;Cerebrovascular accident; Thrombocytopenia; Disseminated intravascular coagulation; Chillblains; Erythema multiforme; Multiple organ dysfunction syndrome; Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children

    6. Kris Alman

      There is a black-out of data regarding the number of doses of BNT162b2 were shipped worldwide (let alone the far more important number of 1st and 2nd doses administered) from the receipt of the first temporary authorisation for emergency supply on 01 December 2020 through 28 February 2021.

      So no denominator to get an incidence of relevant cases. Curiously, nearly 7000 of the cases the age is unknown. And 80 total cases were reported on children who should not have received any doses because they were under 16.

      Have they done an analysis of the 1223 deaths to ascertain if these are excess deaths? Another reason why we should be reluctant to accept their conclusion (p. 11) that “VAED/VAERD remains a theoretical risk for the vaccine.”

      Relevant cases (N=42086)
      Female: 29914
      Male: 9182
      No Data: 2990

      Age Range
      ≤17: 175 a.
      18-30: 4953
      31-50: 13886
      51-64: 7884
      65-74: 3098
      ≥75: 5214
      Unknown: 6876 46 cases reported age was <16-year-old and in 34 cases <12-year-old

      Recovered/Recovering: 19582
      Recovered with sequelae: 520
      Not recovered at the time of report:11361
      Fatal: 1223
      Unknown: 9

  11. QuarterBack

    Re Pfizer adverse events report, notice how the number of doses is omitted from the report? (paragraph 3.1.1)

  12. The Rev Kev

    “When and why did human brains decrease in size 3,000 years ago? New study may have found clues within ants”

    Brains, as they stand, take an enormous amount of the energy budget of the human body. So I note that about 3,000 years ago was when humans were fully investing themselves into a farming type of society. Could it be that hunters needed a larger brain to process all the information that they were receiving from their different, highly-attuned senses to maintain situational awareness when hunting? But that the much, much slower tempo of agriculture meant that brains shrunk in size to accommodate the new reality?

    1. AndrewJ

      One of my long-standing Big Questions is, what did ancient humans *do*, in all those tens of thousands of years (120,000 to 80,000 years, depending on who you ask, of anatomically modern human fossils in the ground) before our few thousand years of known history?
      I hadn’t heard before that our brains shrunk around 1000 BC, right around the time we settled in large civilizations, allowed ourselves to be governed by an elite, and participated in large-scale warfare. Maybe our ancestors were smarter than we are.
      Plays nicely in to my hypothesis that just like humans domesticated dogs, cats, cattle, pigs, chickens, and all the rest, we domesticated ourselves – stupider, more docile, does what they’re told and won’t fight back.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I don’t know about 120.000-80,000 years ago. But there is so much evidence of civilization before 3,000 years ago that the official archeologists don’t even try to debunk it. They just drop a cone of silence over it and hope that as long as it is only mentioned in fringe literature and fringe videos on you tube and wherever, they won’t have to even think about it.

        There are “megalithic” sites scattered around the world featuring very big and sometimes very well worked bunches of blocks and pieces of stone, from clearly much longer ago than 3,000 years. Some of these stone works are so huge they might as well be called ‘ginormalithic” or “humongolithic” or something equally evocative. Who were these Megalithians? How did they do it? And then, what happened to them and where did they go?

        Here is a video composed of still shots and pleasant music of a megalithian site in the Ural Mountains of Russia. I am no expert in videology, but it looks real and not photoshop or videoshop to me. No one has been able to debunk its existence, so far as I know. The mainstreamers all just studiously ignore it and hope that no one will ask them about it. Here is the link.

  13. Mikel

    “Procter and Gamble Voluntarily Recalls 32 Aerosol Hair Products Due to Cancer-Causing Chemical” Epoch Times

    I once had a conversation with a hair dresser on a plane. She was a black woman who only did “natural hair” and no longer allowed chemicals in her shop. She said she had been really sick often until she made the change.

    Just think of the varities of illness-inducing chemicals in everything in our daily lives. Much of it is approved based on some “one size fits all” metric for how much exposure is okay to get away with.

    These are the kind of outside the lab, real world variables affecting all these ever changing percentages about the effectiveness of all these shots.

    1. c_heale

      She did allow chemicals in her shop. She may have avoided synthetic chemicals in her shop, but she would have had naturally derived chemicals in there. Everything we interact with on a daily basis apart from energy is a chemical. Our bodies are made chemicals.

      Read only the part of the article above the paywall. Benzene is not just linked to cancer, it is carcinogenic. This was one of the first things I was told as an undergraduate chemist when starting lab work. Tbh I’m a bit tired of journalists taking press releases and not doing any background work.

  14. Lee

    Medical marijuana and autism: ‘I’m getting my boy back,’ mom says CNN (furzy)

    I’ll pass this on to my son’s S.O. who has been working up close and personal with autistic kids for some years.. Lately after a prolonged Covid hiatus she’s getting some great offers to return to work and plans on doing so when my son gets done duplexing our now shared domicile, so as to protect the old man from risks of interfamilial transmission from exposures they are willing to chance.

    Scares the crap out of me but not being squllionaires, WTF else are we going to do? And it’s not just the money. They want to be once again out there in the world. As much as I share those feelings, they are less intense. I’ve had my fair few innings out there, and being alone in a room is a less austere proposition than in Pascal’s day. In fact quite the opposite seems to be true in that many of the world’s problems, and solutions too perhaps, appear to be caused by people alone in rooms.

    1. Lee

      Speaking of spending time alone in empty rooms, and on Christmas at that—I’m a bit of a pagan and definitely a bah humbug kind of guy so far as the dominant Christmas narrative and practices are concerned, so it’s not so bad. And besides I have y’all to whinge at.

      I had what I deem to have been a airborne viral possible exposure during a medical procedure yesterday, and I’m isolating from family members at home until I get the results from a PCR test scheduled for the day after Christmas with results to follow probably the next day. I was in a room with at least a dozen other people, half of whom were unmasked patients like myself separated only by privacy curtains. It was actually the my most intense, lively social experience with non-household members in lo these many months—I don’t get out much these days. The medical staff were a cheerfully busy bunch, constantly wisecracking as they worked and having a fine old time. I could not help but join in and was much pleased at their finding my jokes funny. And then I was pleasantly rendered unconscious, I lost some time, and later came to realize I’d been in an enclosed, crowded space for the better part of two hours. But hey, everybody was vaccinated and tested Covid negative two days prior, I was on various occasions assured. What, me worry? :>/

      1. Roger Blakely

        I would be interested in hearing how it goes. The sooner you start feeling the fatigue and body aches, the better. The presence of the fatigue and body aches indicates that your immune system has identified the virus, presumably Omicron, and has started mounting an immune response. If you start feeling the fatigue and body aches by Friday, that is a good sign. If you don’t start feeling symptoms until Saturday or Sunday, then you are headed for a week in the hurt locker.

        1. Lee

          Thanks for the tips. I’ll definitely be updating, assuming I’m able. If not, my absence will speak for me.

  15. CuriosityConcern

    Re: Medical Cannabinoids and autism

    Endocannabinoid System(, a blog post by Dr Peter Grinspoon from 8/11/202, has this to say:

    Fewer have heard of the more recently discovered endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is amazing when you consider that the ECS is critical for almost every aspect of our moment-to-moment functioning. The ECS regulates and controls many of our most critical bodily functions such as learning and memory, emotional processing, sleep, temperature control, pain control, inflammatory and immune responses, and eating.

    I personally, in my layman’s perspective, would like to see the results of the trial the CNN article discusses combined with testing of the subject’s Endocannabinoid System. If those researchers aren’t already doing it, that kind of testing could maybe yield additional understanding of what’s going on(I would speculate).
    I’m also quite certain that there are many cannabis breeders who would help these patients by trying to breed for the most beneficial plant characteristics. From the breeders I’ve seen on Future Cannabis Project, I imagine they’d participate with little to no recompense, I just would hope that those that do help don’t get screwed and in turn don’t screw others. A breeder named Doc Ray has been defensively patenting his breeds, that seems like a good way, in our current environment, to protect yourself.
    Anyway, there are labs that purport to map your personal ECS, ( DNA.

  16. Daryl

    > Joe Manchin for President Ryan Grim, Intercept

    This article is interesting, insofar as it appears to be targeted directly at Joe Manchin. Or people who want to think that Joe Manchin is not working in his own best interest. But while the conclusions about his political career may be true — it’s unlikely that actual people are going to be showing up to Manchin for President rallies — it’s sort of irrelevant when he can step out of it and into a cushy lobbying/consulting gig. Which is the crux of the problem — there are no real consequences, any consequences for any of these people.

    I did enjoy reading this paragraph though:

    > Democratic primary voters and the media organs through which their news is filtered have become increasingly pragmatic in their thinking when it comes to the nomination process. While Republican voters are willing to take a flyer on a wild card like Barry Goldwater or Donald Trump, Democratic voters try to pick a winner.


    Have a great day everyone.

    1. Lee

      “Democrats: always trying never winning”, to paraphrase an oft used phrase by some guy on this site.. ; )

    1. Wukchumni

      “Israeli army rule allowing shooting of stone-throwers will be applied to Palestinians, not Jews”

      I guess David is shit out of luck, but Goliath should be ok.

  17. Carolinian

    From where I live Taibbi is making an important point with the Loudoun piece

    Anyone who thinks the conflict in Loudoun was exaggerated in the press never visited. If anything, the level of vitriol was undersold. There is real fury here, on a level normally reserved for places like picket lines. Moreover, the situation is deteriorating.

    I believe this is why Manchin isn’t too worried about attacks from his own party. Because the truth is that out in the heartland voters who lack pundit hopium are not really expecting social improvement from a Dem party that has let them down time after time. What they are really mad about is not what the Dems don’t do but what they do. A neighborhood like mine is totally about kids and a big reason why people move to places like this. When politicians assert that they know what’s best and parents–who spend their lives sacrificing for those kids–don’t matter then they are going to be out the door so fast you’ll only feel the passing breeze. This is going on in Dem CA as well and one can’t overstate the inanity of bringing “gender studies” to K-12. Lots of public school teachers in my long ago experience seem to barely master their own subjects much less the critical matter of kids’ sexuality.

    In short hubris does precede nemesis. Next November?

    1. shoeless

      The Democrats used to be the party of union workers. Now they are deemed deplorables and racists. I remember when Bruce used to sing of their plights, now he sells his catalogue for $500 mil and hates their guts.

      1. lance ringquist

        those are the musicians i and many like me grew up with. they are stinking rich unless they partied it all way.

        roger daltry remembers his mates from his childhood, and thanks us for making him what he is today, if it was not for us he says, he would never have made it.

        dylan, springsteen just to name a few, lust after wealth.

        they have so much already, the least they could do is to declare their libraries “PUBLIC DOMAIN” upon their deaths.

        1. lordkoos

          Dylan, unlike Springsteen, rarely sold a lot of records. Bruce has had numerous hits and I’m sure is much wealthier, Bob had a couple of records that charted but those were way back in the 60s and 70s. Dylan has plenty of money I’m sure but depended on royalties and touring. The former is practically non-existent nowadays thanks to digital downloads. Unlike Bruce, Bob has always maintained that he is merely a song-and-dance man — an entertainer. Springsteen seems a bit self-important.

          I lost a lot of respect for Springsteen after he did that project with Obama, which was called “Renegades”… (rolls eyes).

              1. drumlin woodchuckles

                On reading those excerpts, I wonder . . . ” or what was he allowing others to market him as which he knew he wasn’t, if anything?”

    2. tegnost

      What they are really mad about is not what the Dems don’t do but what they do

      This, a thousand times. The corporate bailouts happen between the time wall st closes and when it opens again the next day. They’ve persistently saved the worst people.

      1. juanholio

        They got us. Catch 22.

        The corporatist Dems are horrible, so Galaxy Brained Americans suggest we ought to vote for the even more horrible corporatist Republicans instead?

        I would never, ever cast a ballot for either. It’s a sham democracy, and you’d be better off using your braincells for something more interesting than following the fake drama.

  18. Mikel

    Re:Brexit Impact Tracker – The End of the (Tory) Party? Gerhard Schnyder (guurst)

    Globally, there seems to be many similarities among the “PMC”.
    Then considering the duopolistic electoral scene Britian….I’m going wild guess it’s nowhere near the end.

    1. Tom Bradford

      Considering the duopolistic electoral scene in Britain, I don’t think it is. As North Shropshire shows the Lib/Dems offer an alternative vote for dissatisfied Tory voters as nothing does in the US while the switch from red to blue in the northern electorates in 2019 indicates a considerable weakening in the ‘my-party-right-or-wrong’ mindset of earlier generations, with voters being offered consequential choices. The Greens, too, are building considerable momentum. It would be far easier for a major schism to split the Tories into two or more viable parties each with a core constituency than the US system allows for.

      It’s even now conceivable that two or three minor parties, massively disadvantaged by the ‘first past the post’ electoral system and an electorate increasingly affected by and aware of it, could combine to effect a change to PR in some form.

      I certainly have a sense that the old ‘duopoly’ of red and blue in England has been severely damaged over the course of the last two decades, first by Labour’s betrayal of its heartland by Blair and now by the Tories throwing its heartland to the wolves, and far more voters than ever before are stepping back from the inherited political clanship of their fathers and taking a serious look at what are genuine alternatives on the voting paper.

  19. John Beech

    Is anyone surprised Democrats rolled out mail-in ballots sparking cries of foul, and in response, Republicans go nuclear? What’s the trite saying? Fool me once . . . ?

    Me? I’m thinking you reap what you sow is more apropos. Thinking it was dirty to send ballots to those who hadn’t requested them midway through the 2020 election. Fair enough, love and war, I get it but while Democrats were smugly grinning like a Cheshire cat (no, not saying the votes were corrupt, we don’t really know the answer to that), seems the payback is going to be . . . you know. Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch.

    1. marym

      Making unsubstantiated claims of fraud and using them as an excuse to make voting more difficult are nothing new for the Republicans.

      8 states and DC automatically send ballots.

      How states verify mail-in/absentee ballots

      How states verify voted mail-in/absentee ballots

  20. Zim

    RE: Cumulative Analysis of Post-Authorization Adverse Event Reports of PF-07302048 (BNT162B2) Received Through 28-Feb-2021

    Like I tried to post on another thread but was denied, there’s a reason the FDA is trying to block access to Pfizer vax data until 2096.

    VAERS data currently shows more than 18000 deaths from vax. These mRNA vaxes should have been pulled from the market long ago. Keyword as to why they haven’t: MARKET.

    1. Paleobotanist

      Ivan sure can bellow. That video is dangerous. It might give my cats more ideas. Trying to sleep in is hard enough as it is.

      I hope Ilya healed enough to walk better.

  21. Mark K

    In the article about nurse staffing:

    The staffing companies — agencies that provide nurses and other staff on a temporary basis — are “really, really, really gouging hospitals.”

    We used to be the sort of country that took steps to prevent this sort of opportunism in times of emergency, the prime example being the Office of Price Administration in World War II.

    As an aside, John Kenneth Galbraith was one of the leaders of the OPA. He later wrote a quite interesting short book, A Theory of Price Control, based in large part on that experience.

    1. Late Introvert

      I have noticed the same thing. Remember “windfall profits tax”? Now we’re the sort of country that shames anyone who talks like that, and gets them fired, or put in jail.

  22. Eloined

    Re: get-rich-faster jobs

    This month, Brian Roberts, the chief financial officer of Lyft, left the ride-hailing company to join OpenSea, a popular crypto start-up. “I’ve seen enough cycles and paradigm shifts to be cognizant when something this big is just emerging,” he said in an email. “We are Day 1 in terms of NFTs and their impact.”

    But paychecks being equal, who would want to manage the finances of Lyft?

  23. Bob

    How refreshing –

    “How did we get here: what are droplets and aerosols and how far do they go? A historical perspective on the transmission of respiratory infectious diseases Royal Society (Paul R)”

    An actual factual, historical discussion about the probable path of transmission for COVID. !!!

  24. Tom Stone

    Anyone upset that Biden hasn’t signed that (Totally inadequate) contract for 500MM Covid tests doesn’t understand Joe’s priorities.
    It’s the Christmas Season!
    There’s a new puppy to play with,Girl Scout Troops that will never forget being given a personal WH Tour by the President, making sure that Hunter is forwarding the full 10% of each deal to the right accounts…He’s a busy man and he needs his nap time too.

  25. Expat2Uruguay

    Editorial note, link goes to Matt Taibbi article instead:

    Georgia’s Original Sin and the 2022 Secret Vote-Crushing Scheme Greg Palast

  26. TimH

    I hope that the SC gets to see that Pfizer “Cumulative Analysis of Post-authorization Adverse Event Reports” when considering mandates.

    Pfizer still has a get out jail free card, right?

  27. Gumnut

    Denmark sitrep:

    Table 4: 91.5% of okirkon cases are in vaccinated individuals. n=18k. Vaccination rate is 80% for reference.

    In hospital because of omikron: 47
    In hospital because of omikron on ICU: less than 5.

    Regarding 1200 deaths in Pfizer trial:
    40 min video, long pdf
    – main thing I can’t understand is how the treatment was worse (claim of mortality and severe disease at 6months I beleive) than placebo if placebo got cancelled/moved to treatment arm early on.

    1. GramSci

      I think I misread and over-reacted to yesterday’s Table 4. It’s hardly a full epidemiological picture. Nevertheless, it’s better data than we’re likely to get out of the US, and hardly reassuring.

  28. meadows

    Oh, the weather outside is frightful,
    But the fire is so delightful,
    And since Omicron is nigh,
    Let’s go online and buy, buy, buy…
    We enjoy excessive shopping,
    As our bank accounts are dropping.
    The lights are turned way down low,
    Let our debts just grow grow grow…
    When we finally say good bye,
    And our bankruptcy is nigh,
    Eviction shouldn’t be a fright,
    All the way home I’ll be tight.
    The fire is slowly dying,
    And, my dear, we’re still good-bye-ing,
    But as long as you loan me some dough.
    Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

  29. lyman alpha blob

    RE: the Stoics

    One minor quibble with this –

    “…the famous Cynic Diogenes of Sinope (the guy who told Alexander the Great to please move away from his field of view because he was blocking the sun)…”

    Haven’t looked up the story in the original Greek to check, but Diogenes was much more likely to have flipped Alex the bird than to have said “please”.

    Also in philosopher John Gray’s recent book Feline Philosophy: Cats and the Meaning of Life, he has a section where he dismisses the tenets of every major philosophical school with a sentence or two as not being equal to what can be learned from your cat. Don’t have it in front of me so I may be mixing up the Epicureans and Stoics, but he points out that the “grin and bear it” attitude might be fine for the Senecas and Marcus Aureliusesses of the world who didn’t have to worry about where their next meal was coming from, but it left a little to be desired (literally) for those of lesser means.

    1. NotThePilot

      It’s definitely a strong article and I learned a lot of interesting things from it, but there were a couple points I felt were probably misses too. I can’t believe I’m going to be that guy, and maybe an actual Classicist could add more detail, but my understanding is that this…

      Of course, this is to be understood within the constraints of the culture of the time. When Cato opposed Caesar, he was thinking of liberty for non-enslaved white males.

      … is just wrong on multiple levels. And ironically so because it projects Modern culture onto the Ancient Mediterraneans. It’s also sort of relevant to the thesis because a lot of Stoicism is arguably just generalizing a clear-eyed view of the master-slave relation to life, nature, and your own psychology.

  30. Chas

    The article about why the military budget increased after the war against Afghanistan ended showed how popular military spending is with both parties in Congress. It got me thinking that since both the Ds and Rs love the military budget, a good way to proceed with the Build Back Better bill would be for Schumer and Pelosi to attach it to the next military spending bill. How could they vote against supporting the troops?

    1. Lee

      The crows moved into our neighborhood about a decade ago, reducing the number of other species including Cooper’s Hawks. Some feisty Blue Jays have managed to maintain their intergenerational nest sites in our backyard. I resented the crows for awhile but they are so charming and personable, I’ve taken to tossing them an occasional treat and chatting with them.

      Their social solidarity is amazing. My son found a dead crow in the street near our house and tossed it into the back of his pickup to bring it to our home for burial. His drive home was attended by a flight of dozens of crows for several blocks who gathered in trees and on power lines to observe the interelement then lingered calling out to their fallen comrade for the better part of an hour.

  31. Matthew G. Saroff

    The article in Quilette about the cancel culture in STEM is awfully thin gruel.

    The implication from the hed is that political considerations are effecting the science, and the authors use the cases of Soviet suppression of resonance theory in chemistry and Mendelian genetics to show the potential danger, but in terms or real “Cancel Culture”, they don’t have much.

    Basically, it comes down to an (admittedly stupid at first glance) astronomy course for non-majors which appears to be a survey of fiction and essays related to race, and criticisms of members of STEM academe when they write about race and class and cancel culture, something for which they have no more specific training or expertise. (I am an engineer)

    Not surprising to find this in Quilette, which bills itself as a journal of the “Intellectual Dark Web”, whose mode is to equate criticism with Kristallnacht.

    It’s a Bari Weiss style whine fest.

    1. Geo

      Haven’t been to Quilette in a long time but was initially quite interested in it’s worrying and read it regularly for a while. But, it got annoying fast. Seemed it’s main mission was to be an outlet for people to whine about how other people disagree with them. Of course, that’s 99% of the political discourse now days so not unique, just very annoying.

    2. sfp

      Agreed… The author brings up some interesting and noteworthy historical examples, of which there are many more, but these examples are a far cry from anything currently taking place. His tone is hysterical.

      Most likely, the course mentioned was done with the best of intentions. I know another example of a planetary scientist who taught a cross-disciplinary class focusing on science fiction. Since students in the humanities nowadays are interested in critical theory, he worked that into the course by way of an olive branch. These courses can be a good way to get people from STEM and non-STEM backgrounds alike to learn about other fields. It isn’t a bad thing.

  32. Bazarov

    “Mass representative democracy” by Steve Waldman

    Waldman proposes a solution to the problem that eventually consumes “successful” Republics–corruption of the institutions, and specifically in this case corruption of the representatives, which Waldman styles as a matter of representatives being out of touch with constituent interests but very sensitive to the interests of the ruling class.

    He contrasts this problem with the problems of “direct democracy,” namely that the people are too dumb to make good decisions and that it’s too much a demand on the people’s time to expect them to govern well.

    In light of these problems, he proposes a synthesis: a mass representative democracy mediated by the internet. This solution calls for radical expansion of the legislature to roughly 250,000 representatives, with a small portion periodically chosen at random to form committees to debate and compile legislation. There’s some nonsense in there about blockchain, as well.

    I find all this rather bizarre. It’s hard to believe that a bloated, faceless online legislature empowering even more faceless random committees will make the people feel more “represented,” especially considering the “black box” and easily corruptible nature of internet communications (which he tries to hand wave away with tech and blockchain babble).

    He’s also intent on avoiding the obvious solution to all this: get rid of elections and select representatives by sortition every 2 to 4 years–you could even stagger sortition to promote stability (so every 2 years 1/3 of legislators get sorted out). The ancients theorized democracy not as the government of elections (oligarchic by nature, as only the rich could afford to run/learn how to speak charismatically) but as government by the people, sorted into positions of power by lot.

    It’s also harder for a legislature peopled by sortition to be corrupted because there’s no elections wherein the ruling class gets to seduce the candidate via campaign contributions and bribes. Corruption can be further militated against with a regime of strict ethical controls that prevent legislators from, say, taking a jobs in industries that their legislation materially impacted.

    A legislative body peopled by sortition also has the benefit of legitimacy–it would appear very representative, as everyone has an equal chance of being a legislator. Of all of our institutions, the one with robust legitimacy is the jury, and this system would in effect be run by a National Jury.

    I also think Waldman leans too much on “expertise,” as in representative democracy is great because we get to elect real “experts” to Congress! Most people in Congress, as far as I can tell, are totally incompetent (see the management of everything–covid, economy, education, military). It’s so bad that I’m convinced John and Jane Q. Public could do a much better job of protecting the general interest and regenerating the common good.

    1. Matthew G. Saroff

      Walsman’s solution would be far more credible if he were to remove all references to blockchain/crypto.

      You don’t need to propose the technology for this, and if you do, don’t use a technology that offers no benefits to and costs much more than the alternatives.

  33. Geo

    Forbes article on airline transmission of COVID:

    “The greatest protection you can give yourself is to be vaccinated and boosted. The protection that you give yourself from an extra mask or a different type of mask, or not flying at all, frankly, is probably less than the benefit you would get from just being fully boosted,” Powell told Bloomberg.

    They labeled this a “Crucial Quote” (in all caps). Gotta love the “all-vax all the time” messaging and discouraging of all other forms of protection.

  34. Mantid

    Oh, my golly gosh. We are in a world of hurt, a world of trouble, a world of (nare I say) stupidity.
    Skimming down one of the tweetness threads form the links I read one from a Doc Robinson. He says his daughter came home with Covid. He basically says “we are not in quarantine …. we are monitoring for symptoms …. we are staying home except for essentials …. we are following the guidance from the CDC”. This guy thinks he’s got no problems and is not going to spread Covid if he goes out “for essentials”. If one has Covid, especially Omicron, going out is going to spread it.
    I can not for the life of me understand a medical doctor (his wife is a doc too) with such a horrifically wrong approach to this disease. Please friends, if someone in your household is breathing and has Covid, stay home. If you don’t want to treat it with anything more than hope, keep reading your updates from the CDC but stay the freak home! The worst part was that of the many replies, only one (I read at least 20) mentions that you carry the virus – even without symptoms. Every other comment was “hope your daughter gets well”. Understandable and nice, but “hope” without quarantine is dangerous to others. Argh, what is a praying mantis to do?

  35. MarkT

    Merry Christmas! I wish you all the best of social justice (Christ) without all the material & cynical ideology-fantasy stuff that has been added on over the centuries. Never forget that crucifixion was the way the empire killed its opponents. Christ was a radical.

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