Links 12/25/2021

My mother went to the ER yesterday and has been admitted for one night, more likely two. Her blood ox crashed but she had no other Covid symptoms. I had thought she might have pneumonia (she’s bedridden, bedridden people are really prone it, as are those who had a previous case, as she also had last summer). No signs on an Xray and her lungs sounded good. And a negative on a fast Covid test. They put her on oxygen, IV fluids, and are giving her antibiotics as a precaution. They will Xray her again since sometimes pneumonia won’t show on an Xray if the patient is dehydrated. They think if she has pneumonia it’s early and so should be treatable.

If she does not have pneumonia, the hospital does not seem to have a second thesis. “Oh it’s her COPD” doesn’t wash since she’s had a not too bad case for >20 years (just uses an Rx inhaler 1x a day, does not have an emergency inhaler) and never had an incident like this.

Mask discipline in the hospital is terrible. While the EMTs for the ambulance to a man all had N95s on, in the hospital two people at the nurses’ station, one an MD doing dictation, had their masks totally off. The doctor seeing my mother pulled his procedure mask down to talk to her. Plenty of crappy cloth masks and masks not covering noses. I was the only one wearing an N95.

IM Doc confirmed that this attitude is not uncommon:

I was taken aside a few weeks ago and told that my PPE was over the top and scaring patients.

I was told I was vaccinated and could not spread the virus and was protected. Just two weeks ago. I told them to go fuck themselves and the side eye continues to this day.

Why snow leopards bite their tails, and other facts about this gorgeous high-altitude cat Russia Beyond (Alex C)

What is a Wilderness Without Its Wolves? CounterPunch

What do giant veg growers eat on Christmas Day? BBC (resilc)

New System Would Let Us Know If Aliens Are Using Lasers to Communicate Gizmodo

Art: ‘People amazed I fold paper for a living, then they see it’ BBC. dk: “Blah video but amazing pieces.”

The Universe is Expanding Faster Than it Should Be National Geographic

Scientists Identify a Previously Unknown Type of Storm, Called an ‘Atmospheric Lake’ Science Alert (David L)

The Topography of Wellness: How to Design Healthy Cities Curbed

The terrifying future space weapons – ‘rods from God’ meteorites, molten metal cannons and weaponised asteroids The Sun (resilc)

Philosophers and Other Conjurers Raven Magazine (Anthony L)


Queensland’s chief medical officer warns the spread of COVID-19 is ‘essential’ and ‘necessary’ as the caseload climbs across Australia 7News. Kevin W:

WTF? What happened to the Hippocratic Oath with it’s “first, do no harm?” What sort of “immunity” is it that we wants when it only last several months? Excuse the language but these people are seriously fucked in the head.

‘Design and Healing’ Shows How Epidemics Lead to Innovation New York Times (resilc). Oh great, now cheerleading. Soon we’ll be told cancer is a good thing too.


Important. This is a much crisper statement of my concern early on about the “mild” cases among the young in South Africa: these were populations in past waves that would get asymptomatic cases or not get sick at all, and therefore that was no proof that Omicron was milder, if anything the reverse:

Hunt is on for more accurate in-home antigen testing Washington Post (resilc)

Counting the neurological cost of COVID-19 Nature (dk). One of scientist GM’s big worries.

Researchers report loss of antibody potency against SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant (Kevin W)

The plural of anecdote is not data, but:


Covid: Record 1.7 million people in UK infected last week Independent (resilc)

Omicron: Rising numbers of NHS staff off work because of Covid BBC (Kevin W)


Why does Rochelle Walensky still have a job?

Beneath a Covid Vaccine Debacle, 30 Years of Government Culpability New York Times (Robert M)

Two More Broadway Shows Close as Omicron Takes a Toll on Theater New York Times

CDC shortens isolation time for health care workers with Covid-19 CNN (Kevin W)


Islands Block Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship After 55 Aboard Test Positive For COVID HuffPost. I happened to see CNBC when the Royal Caribbean CEO was all bullish on 2022.


In an East Coast first, New Jersey will phase out diesel trucks Grist

Climate change, the food problem, and the future of global agricultural specialisation: How barriers to trade can be barriers to climate change adaptation VoxEU. So moar globlization is the answer…when shipping is really dirty.


China hoarding over half of the world’s grain, pushing up prices Nikkei (Paul R). Not crazy as a thesis, since hoarding of diesel in 2008 before the Olympics played a big part in driving oil to $147 a barrel.

Apache Log4j bug: China’s industry ministry pulls support from Alibaba Cloud for not reporting flaw to government first South China Morning Post

Intel Apologizes In China Over Xinjiang Statement CNN


Brexit: One year on, the economic impact is starting to show BBC (Kevin W)

UK allows overseas workers to fill staff gaps in agriculture and care Financial Times

Polish deputy PM says Germany wants to turn EU into ‘fourth reich’ Guardian (resilc)

New Cold War

What happens when US rejects Putin’s ultimatum? Asia Times (Kevin W)


Russia Steps Up Pressure on Google, Meta With Record Fines Bloomberg


125 countries back opened-ended UNHRC war crimes probe against Israel Jerusalem Post. Resilc: “A bigger deal than fighting Ben & Jerry’s.”

The Case for Reparations for Afghanistan New Republic. Resilc: “Right after for slaves in the US.”

Imperial Collapse Watch

US Became ‘Arrogant’ After Fall Of Soviet Union: Gorbachev Barron’s


Biden: ‘Let’s go Brandon, I agree’ RT (Kevin W)

Schizmogenesis: Spies, voting machine companies and Big Pharma are still your natural enemies. Cory Doctorow (dk)

Wave of suicides hits Texas National Guard’s border mission Military Times (resilc)

US lobby group to close as Silicon Valley groups start to distance themselves from each other Financial Times (dk)

Our Famously Free Press

Judge rules The New York Times must destroy documents and not publish reporting on conservative group Business Insider. Have not looked into this at all. Generally, judges are really really really not keen about violations of attorney-client privilege. But even granting that conclusion was correct, any order should have been very narrowly constructed around any bona fide attorney-client privileged material (and that also means actual legal advice; an attorney advising on business matters is not privileged).

Amazon Cloud Unit Draws Antitrust Scrutiny From Khan’s FTC Bloomberg

Asset bubbles? Champagne outfizzes Big Tech and bitcoin in 2021 Reuters

Woman armed with a PICKAXE seen casually shoplifting at a Rite Aid in crime-ridden Los Angeles Daily Mail (resilc)

Who Are the New Candidates for CalPERS’ Spring 2022 Special Board Election? Chief Investment Officer (Kevin W)

Credit Suisse launches legal action against SoftBank Financial Times

The 10 Worst Americans of 2021 Intercept

Class Warfare

DoorDash Will Require All Employees To Deliver Goods or Perform Other Gigs Marketwatch

Amazon builds warehouses in opportunity zones, amid pandemic fueled expansion Washington Post (resilc)

Pope calls on followers to support those in poverty on Christmas Eve DW

Antidote du jour. From upstater:

My son Matt and I were in Bonaire recently for 10 days of snorkeling and sun. Matt has an underwater camera and snapped this coral with 2 sea urchins and a pair of eyes peering out at him from the center of the coral! We think its a baby puffer fish, but maybe a reef expert can comment?

And a bonus (John Siman):

A second bonus (Steve D):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. The Rev Kev

    So, so sorry to hear about the turn that your mother had. Hopefully she will be on the way home very shortly and she will bounce back again. Not good though that she is far safer at home than she is in a hospital setting with all their expertise and equipment. I hope that they allow her to wear a good mask when she can until she gets back home. Unbelievable that even now, people like IM Doc are actually being told that vaccinated people cannot spread the virus. Will people be still saying this in 2022?

    1. Roger Blakely

      I’m not convinced that it’s not COVID. I’ve gone through nine 10-14-day cycles of COVID-19, and I have never pulled a positive PCR nasal swab. It think that we have fetishized the nasal swab in a way that is stupid. I have SARS-CoV-2 in every organ of my body. But it isn’t in my nose.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        We’ve been extremely careful and she had no symptoms except some coughing and the low blood ox, which is the same as when she got pneumonia last summer. She has COPD so it takes way less than for normal people to trigger coughing.

        1. Patrick Donnelly

          Consider that, as we age, our suply of body-made enzymes declines. They remove internal scarring and blood clots, with the debris being cleaned up by white blood cells, ie a cough and congested lungs.
          Consider Serrapeptase or Natto

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            I already take a ton of dietary supplements that are blood-thinning (for instance, most anti inflammatories are), to the degree that when I have a minor incision, my MD has to stitch it when normally a band aid would do. So I can’t take yet another blood thinner.

    2. HotFlash

      My dear Yves, so sad this happened on Xmas Eve. Very, very best wishes to you, you mother, and the indispensable Betty Jo for this holiday season. (Disclosure: I got no clout.) Of course, very, very best also to Lambert, Jerri-Lynn, Julesa and the excellent NC commentariat.

      For youse-all ha’ bin nice: Namaste, and some excellent non-Christmas music, Dan Taylor singing Purcell’s “Music for a While“. Take its pace, relax, and let the music all your cares beguile.

      For youse-all ha’ bin naughty: Here’s Santa Conquers the Martians. Not on my worst enemy, on my worst day! Well, maybe…

    3. LawnDart

      What Doc didn’t mention was that he was wearing a medeval plague mask over his N95, a hooded monastic robe, and was carrying a wooden staff topped by an animal skull…
      …context is important.

      1. Anders K

        Hey, the deal was, he stopped ringing the bell, yelling and pushing that cart around and in return he could keep the beak mask!

        So sorry to heat about your mother, Yves. Take care and I hope for her (and you, and I guess all of us) to get a much better 2022.

    4. JTMcPhee

      Prayers and good wishes to you and your mother. Hope she gets accurately diagnosed and competently treated.

    5. Jeff N

      My 82 year old (then 81) dad came down with pneumonia last year, we were all scared it was COVID even though the symptoms didn’t match. The hospital took care of him, but he wasn’t really himself for a few weeks afterwards, unusually not really wanting any human contact. Scary. Thankfully he made a full recovery and became his old self again.

  2. jackiebass63

    I totally understand your frustration with the emergency room and your mothers health care. I had a very bad experience with my wife going to the emergency room. She is prone to getting wounds that get infected. I took her to the emergency room because a wound she had looked to be infected. After being there a doctor told me she was going to be sent home with a script for an antibiotic. I was shocked because I believed her infection was very serious and she should probably be admitted to the hospital for treatment. I told the doctor I wanted another opinion from a different doctor. A different doctor looked at her wound and quickly decided to admit her to the hospital. After a week in the hospital she was transferred to a skilled nursing facility for more treatment. She ended up staying for 6 months before being discharges to go home.I shudder to think what would have happened if I believed the first doctor. A couple things I believe influence a doctors decision. The first is them having to deal with the insurance company. Some doctors just don’t want to spend time fighting with the insurance company. The second is paper work. To send her home would involve less paper work.I have probably been to the emergency room wit my wife a half dozen times over the years Never has it taken less than 8 hours to have something happen. Most of the time longer.

    1. Eric The Fruit Bat

      The trick up my way is that if you need ER services, have yourself delivered via an ambulance. If you walk up to an ER, you’re going to wait hours before you are seen

      1. jackiebass63

        That doesn’t work where I live. My wife went by ambulance every time. She ended up being admitted every time. The shortest wait to be admitted was 8 hours and the longest was 14 hours.

  3. David May

    > Woman armed with a PICKAXE seen casually shoplifting at a Rite Aid in crime-ridden Los Angeles

    ‘I’m not f*****g around,’ she says as an employee tries to ask her to stop as she makes a grab for beauty products.

    ‘I don’t want to smell like sh** when I’m knocking these b****** out,’ she adds as she drops a spray into the basket.

    Before leaving, she tells everyone at the store, ‘Don’t say sh**. Shut the f*** up. Be quiet and follow suit.’

    Anybody who still thinks the US can somehow be magically turned around needs their head examined. Get out while you still can folks.

    Oh, happy holidays.

    1. Samuel Conner

      I imagine well-paid security guards in armor and equipped with tasers can manage this problem. /s

      Seriously, there are a lot of less-attached workers who might re-enter the workforce. Protecting private property is a core function of the State (at least in much present-day thinking) but as State functions are outsourced to private enterprises, perhaps we’ll become a “private security state”. Perhaps a step on the road to the libertarian dream of Government-like organizations (recall the Andrew Dittmer series) replacing all State functions.

      1. floyd

        >Perhaps a step on the road to the libertarian dream of Government-like organizations (recall the Andrew Dittmer series) replacing all State functions.

        And yet it was liberals and progressives that brought us Obamacare. Arguably they are the ones who have accelerated the outsourcing of healthcare to private equity and massive private companies such as United Health. But sure blame the hordes of “libertarians” in Congress /s.

        1. jonboinAR

          I guess it could be argued that, by the standards of their supposed political ancestors, the “liberal” or “progressive” Democrate who passed Obamacare WERE libertarians, that a good deal of libertarian philosophy had become mainstream political philosophy by, what was it, 2009?

        2. JP

          No, That’s not the way congress works. Legislation with a narrow majority is shaped as much by opposition as by the party not really in power. How liberal do you think build back better will be after the negotiations are finished. Not saying it isn’t an abomination already but the sausage is spoiled with sawdust from both sides of the floor.

          1. JP

            We have a gov’t beholden to special interest. Thus the libertarians hate gov’t but would impose the most extreme form of special interest: every man for himself.

            1. JTMcPhee

              Except that libertarians just love them some government-like organizations, which will carve up and pick the carcass of the body politic completely clean. To the benefit of the winning libertarian individual — ‘cause remember, in the end, there can be only one.

      2. Nick

        I’d rather the state provide free soap, shampoo, pads etc. than protect the property of Walgreens or whatever. Let them hire their own goons if they want to.

      3. chris

        Speaking as someone who has worked security in various venues, had training in the martial arts for 30 years, and taken specific training on close combat and protection against armed combatants…

        For a tool like that used as a weapon, you don’t really need any special equipment to engage or disarm an opponent of that size. What you need is training, motivation, as well as the rules of engagement to allow you to do what needs to be done. What is interesting in this case is that no one seems to have any of that.

        What is the end game here? What happens when there are no Walgreens or CVS or quick marts in huge stretches of the city because those stores have abandoned these customers? Will the state step in to set up stores to sell essential goods and services? I doubt that. Will we see an expansion of the quasi private outdoor mall concept where undesirables are screened before they’re allowed around the stores?

        Or are we going to see drug stores replaced with the Doc Wagon concept from Shadowing? The poor underclass can’t afford meds or healthcare, so there’s a rapid delivery point of service medical professional in an armored vehicle that comes to their location after an emergency? I kind of think that could happen in my lifetime. “Access” to health care will mean we can all pay exorbitant rates for the DoorDash equivalent of an ambulance to find us based on a cell signal and patch us up.

        1. Patrick Donnelly

          Thinking is rare, so take a bow.

          The play is to alter perceptions for a reset. Action, reaction, solution.

          USA will survive, albeit with many unnecessarily dead by then

    2. Michaelmas

      Anybody who still thinks the US can somehow be magically turned around needs their head examined.

      As above, so below.

    3. John Beech

      No offense David, but I disagree, and say that now is the time to double down on making this place better. Running away is NOT the solution for Americans. Never has been, isn’t the right thing to do now.

      Look, voting has consequences. Want the cops defunded? Fine, then step up to defend you and yours. We have a 2nd amendment for a reason!

      Otherwise, quit your bellyaching about abandoning ship, and remember, it’s the rats that leave. You’re not a rat else you wouldn’t be here on NC, so buckle down and let’s do what needs doing.

    4. Wukchumni

      My brother in laws swing right politically and both never owned guns until about a decade ago, one of them now owns a dozen and when I mentioned getting surgery in India to better resemble Ganesha so as to give him more firepower, he genuinely seemed interested. Sadly I had to inform him it was a joke and as far as I knew, no doctors were adding upper body appendages as of yet.

      I asked them under what circumstances they would shoot somebody and both more or less said the same thing, ‘if they are trying to get my stuff, bang bang shoot shoot’.

      Not all that different from the nutter woman with pickax in LA, she’s merely on the other side of the equation.

    5. Mikel

      I’m more than baffled at how these new laws regarding bail apply to armed robbery. That’s not even considering the laws violated by the threats made by the woman.
      The article is not describing “shoplifting” so why is it being conflated with laws regarding “shoplifting” by the press?

    6. Lambert Strether

      ZOMG teh crime, along with porch thieves (i.e., Amazon Ring marketing), and ZOMG teh inflation (usual suspects) all seem like moral panics, to me. A deflecting response to real problems (see Matt Taibbi’s series on Loudoun County for a fine example of this problem, or tactic). I’d like to see some thoughtful analysis of these phenomenon, with some numbers.

      I do believe that there’s a general increase in Assh*lery, as described by people who are “meeting the public.” Servers, flight attendants, probably medical personnel encountering yellers and screamers (who are, if unmasked and at the peak of infectiousness, could be superspreaders as well, bad luck to the essential workers). Probably the point where Assh*listan emerged in the Zeitgeist would be the appearance of “Karen” as an ideal type (originated by servers, IIRC). But I’d like some detail on who these people are. Should be as easy to do a breakdown on the incidents, if the perps are named, as it was to break down the class composition of the Capitol Hill rioters. Managing to get your name in the papers might be an extreme form of self-selection, though….

    7. Karen

      Why not let her have what she needs? We talk about social justice in these pages. So give her some soap and shampoo.

  4. Juneau

    I hope your mother stabilizes and is home soon. They owe you a diagnosis to be sure. The message from authorities is to let it run (Omicron) and HCW getting lax is very concerning. Daniel Griffin MD (on TWIV) reports that one healthcare system is at 50 percent staffing due to isolation after positive Covid 19 tests and many are “feeling fine”. Lots of potential for asymptomatic spread and staffing shortages to boot.

    Regarding neuro-Covid, I think this is a delicate discussion. People with certain neurodegenerative disorders are at a higher risk of suicide compared to the general population. If this thing can be progressive in long Covid that will be very bad news for a large number of people who may need reassurance, instillation of hope, and treatment, not the gaslighting that is still sadly prevalent.

  5. CoryP

    Best wishes to your mother!

    I’m a little skeptical of the blind taste test. I don’t think the heat of capsaicin or the sting of alcohol are “tastes” in the traditional sense, and you would think that hot sauce would have a different mouthfeel than the beverages….. but I could be wrong and I don’t want to find out from experience!

  6. The Rev Kev

    “Two More Broadway Shows Close as Omicron Takes a Toll on Theater”

    Maybe it is time to rethink what Broadway actually is all about while they are closed. Just a short while ago I was watching a doco about Broadway history and they were taking about how decades ago, they were fading in relevancy with the values of younger people in the 60s. Sure it has made a comeback since then but there was one thing that was mentioned in that doco that made me wonder. This old producer was saying back then, you could literally get the best seat on Broadway and it would cost you a grand total of $9.90 but nowadays a ticket like that would cost you over $800 or even over a grand. Even adjusting for a few decades of inflation, this is quite a price rise so I am beginning to wonder who it is exactly that Broadway cater for for its audience. (2:01 mins)

    1. Carolinian

      I lived for a couple of years in NYC and then went to Europe and was amazed at how much easier and less expensive theater tickets were to buy in London. Perhaps that’s no longer true but one did get the impression that live theater is much closer to England’s heart and classical music much closer to Europe’s heart than here in the land of mammon. I was never very impressed with Broadway.

    2. smashsc

      During the 25 years we lived outside of DC and Philadelphia, we’d make a point to get to NYC once a year to see a Broadway show. During that time (thru early 2010s), prices were in the $50 to $100 range, making it fairly reasonable for a family to see and enjoy around a nice dinner.

      I think it was the Book of Mormon that introduced the idea of “variable pricing” that jacked up prices due to demand. That, and the introduction of “investment funds” where people with extra cash would lock up tickets as soon as they became available (up to 1 year in advance) and immediately relist them on reseller sites for hefty premiums just drove ticket prices to insane values.

      That soured our appetite for shows on Broadway. We’ll still occasionally look for traveling shows to enjoy, but have no plans to go to NYC anymore

    3. Valerie

      My ,working class Irish aunts in New York could afford to take their nieces to a tea matinee of a Broadway show and lunch out at the Woolworths counter as a treat now and again. As a result, I grew up to work in the commercial theater for many years and my younger sister rarely misses a touring production. Like so many things ordinary people used to be able to afford ( newspaper subscriptions, university tuition, used cars…) Broadway theater tickets are now just another class signifier and luxury good for the elite.

      1. CitizenSissy

        Thank you for the memory of the late lamented Woolworth’s counter; that WAS a treat, indeed! The tuna melts and mac & cheese were divine.

    4. Big River Bandido

      Maybe it is time to rethink what Broadway actually is all about while they are closed. Just a short while ago I was watching a doco about Broadway history and they were taking about how decades ago, they were fading in relevancy with the values of younger people in the 60s. Sure it has made a comeback since then…

      Not really, actually. Broadway’s cash register had a decent revival, but it was purely a reflection of marketing, and having a concentrated base of wealthy patrons in close proximity willing to support it. In the big picture, Broadway is a puny shell of what it was a century ago. If you look at the “Great American Songbook” (a/k/a/ the “standards”), it’s all Broadway shows — before 1960. In the period 1920-50, the system that created “hit” songs depended most of all on the Broadway show for the promotion of said songs. The shows were plentiful and with lower production values than people tend to think, until the later part of this period. They were also cheaper, although not as much as you might think. In 1960, $9.90 had the purchasing power of around $93 today. The big hope for the Broadway songwriters in this period was sales from sheet music, and increasingly after 1930, from record royalties by popular “stars” from record labels. The importance of sheet music sales is indicative of the deep roots of self-made music within the real culture (and the lack thereof today).

      With the rise of rock n’ roll in the mid-50s and the true “record culture” in the 1960s, Broadway truly *had* become irrelevant to youth culture. Nearly every leading light of 1960s popular music bypassed Broadway completely —  Streisand excepted, hardly any of them came from there. Streisand herself became bigger than Broadway, and then left — by the mid-1970s, she was a film actor and recording artist. Post-Beatles, it was the record industry that created music stars, not Broadway — so all the best writing talent also left Broadway for greener pastures in the studios, and only the mediocre ones remained. Broadway really struggled — the 1970s and 80s would have been the period that seat prices rose most dramatically; some of this reflected the inflationary economy of the time and the mounting expenses of production, but that was a convenient fig leaf argument for the Broadway producers to cover up their real problem: they had lost the larger public’s creative attention. They were never going to be able to get that back, so all they could do was re-focus on the upscale market, which really sealed the commodification of Broadway. (This same damaging trend is now happening in classical music as well.) All the shallow gimmicks of modern Broadway — the fake history dramas; the poaching of (mostly bad) television and record industry concepts; the unending rehashes of the same tired formulas; the regurgitation of sequels/prequels/requels; and especially the informatively defensive marketing ploy that screams “this is not Broadway-style singing, this is *real* (pop/rock/hip-hop) music” — all these phony contrivances originated in the 1970s and 80s when Broadway was hemorrhaging cultural clout and market share. (See, progressively, “Jesus Christ Superstar”, “A Chorus Line”, “Rent”, and “Hamilton” — all of which were marketed as if they were real pop singers rather than vocal clones of Ethel Merman or Julie Andrews.) These “shows” also have one other important trait in common: there’s not a single memorable tune in them, and they inspire precious few “cover” recordings that become hits (admittedly, part of that problem is that the record industry, too, is going on 3 decades of decline). If you asked 1,000 young people to sing 4 bars of *any* Broadway show from the last 50 years, you might find a dozen — and all of them would be theater majors.

      1. Anonymous in Michigan

        All of the great Broadway musicals were written before 1970: The Music Man, The King and I, West Side Story, My Fair Lady, Oklahoma!, Camelot, Man of La Mancha, South Pacific, Hello Dolly, to name just a few of the more noteworthy. They all had one thing in common-melodic songs that were tuneful. Meaning, melodic lines were carefully composed by composers who knew a great deal about music theory and harmony.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          False. Evita. Les Miserables, one of the biggest warhorses of all time. A Little Night Music. Sweeny Todd. I’m personally fond of The Wiz but it may not rise to being great. Hadestown is a very fine musical but has not yet withstood the test of time. Etc.

  7. Pat

    Yves, good thoughts to you and your mother, but sending grinchy evil thoughts to the people who should know better both in your hospital and IM Doc’s. Fingers crossed that your mom is home and safer soon

    1. CitizenSissy

      100%, Yves. Thinking of you and your Mom; COPD is stressful enough, let along dealing with the staff nonsense.

  8. none

    Congrats to everyone involved for the very clean launch of the James Webb Space Telescope aboard an Ariane 5 about an hour or so ago! The telescope is now on its way to its orbit location at the Earth-Sun L2 point, i.e. the telescope will be orbiting the Sun in tango with the Earth, with the L2 point about 1 million miles from Earth. That should get it a better view of distant galaxies than putting it in Earth orbit would. OTOH there is no way to repair it like the Hubble was repaired, if something goes wrong…

    Meanwhile back on Earth, there is a good article in The Atlantic about how Omicron has us repeating the same mistakes that we made earlier in the pandemic:

    1. Mildred Montana

      Thank you so much for mentioning the JWST. It is scheduled to become operational in six months. I can hardly wait for its first photographs and what they reveal about the outer edges of the universe.

      I read my first book on cosmology about twenty years ago, inspired by a Martin Amis novel which made a passing reference to the “galactic year”. I didn’t have a clue what that was so I looked it up (it’s the time it takes for our solar system to orbit the Milky Way—230 million years). Thus began my fascination with the subject.

      “Cosmology will tell you that the universe is far more bizarre, prodigious, and chillingly grand than any doctrine, and that spiritual needs can be met by its contemplation.”—-Martin Amis

      As a puny human being living on a tiny rock in an insignificant galaxy, yet surrounded by a “bizarre, prodigious, and grand” universe, I now, because of my interest in it, ask myself: ???? And that, I suppose, is the germ of spirituality.


      Merry Christmas to everyone and a Happy 3Covid!

      1. Pate

        “I read my first book on cosmology about twenty years ago”.

        Might you suggest a title or two?
        Thanks and Merry Christmas!

        1. Robert Hahl

          The Astronomical Companion by Guy Ottewell (2nd Ed), and the related Astronomical Calendars are excellent.

        2. Mildred Montana

          Yes, Pate. Start with Carl Sagan’s classic “Cosmos”. An excellent primer on the subject. If that piques your interest then Brian Greene, Lisa Randall, and Neil deGrasse Tyson are all good. I would recommend reading their books in chronological order as cosmology is constantly evolving and has lately blended into the difficult areas of quantum physics, string theory, dark energy, dark matter, etc.

          Check out the 520’s in your local library for others. Good reading and a Merry Christmas to you too!

          1. Pate

            Thank you! Robert Hahl as well. Last year I read Alan Lightman’s Searching for Stars on an Island In Maine and very much enjoyed.

      2. Samuel Conner

        > a Happy 3Covid!

        I’ve been thinking about changed perceptions of time passage since the beginning of the major US reactions (starting in late Feb/early March ’20). It feels — to me — like a lot more “life” has transpired since the pandemic began than before. Maybe that’s a mercy, sort of a subjective reaction to the prospect that one’s remaining time could be cut short with little or no warning.

        Or maybe it’s just that I had more time to spend in the garden.

      3. Joe Renter

        If you really want to blow your mind on the Universe, then I suggest reading A Treatise on Cosmic Fire by Alice Bailey.
        You may, if you are old enough, remember that Todd Rundgren produced an album with the same title (Did he read the book?).

    2. Wukchumni

      About 100 pages into The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler written in 1993, and set in the early 2020’s in LA-adjacent.

      Collapse is in full swing on much of Earth and one of 4 American astronauts on Mars dies and the decision is made to bring back her body…

      Kind of has the same feel now, bigger fish to fry on this good orb. Perhaps a telescope in space aimed back at us would be more appropriate.

    3. Lambert Strether

      > Congrats to everyone involved for the very clean launch of the James Webb Space Telescope

      Yes, that was a very splendid and heartening event. Seeing the silvery, glittering telescope module slowly moving away from the booster, with the blue earth in the background was very beautiful.

  9. Noone from Nowheresville

    Most people can’t remain in a state of emergency forever. They breakdown physically and mentally. For some their risk taking becomes extreme, especially as parts of the society around them does the same.

    We fight about masks and vaccines – individual choices that are more than they appear on the surface – but we don’t fight about forcing leadership to do Public Health. If the PMC are in the top 9% and have power leverage over the DNC social club, then why aren’t they using their leverage to get us out of this Disaster Capitalism / Shock Doctrine wet dream?

    They have to know that once the Shock Doctrine does its work, their roles and societal “value” will be diminished. Their ranks will shrink. Remote workers, even from Western society’s PMC ranks, can be replaced with global workers from anywhere. The IT industry has already proven that.

    Swallowing the blue pill so we can go back to the way things were ignores all the sacrifice zones already in the US. It ignores all the lessons we should’ve learned with Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.

    God and the hurricane did what the power brokers of New Orleans had been unable to do for decades. Supposed incompetence (mistakes were made / if only the Tzar knew) can be purposeful and malicious at the same time.

    1. Lambert Strether

      > They have to know that once the Shock Doctrine does its work, their roles and societal “value” will be diminished. Their ranks will shrink. Remote workers, even from Western society’s PMC ranks, can be replaced with global workers from anywhere. The IT industry has already proven that.

      “I don’t have to outrun the Bear. I just have to outrun you.” (The Democrats as the party of betrayal are the PMC as the class of betrayal writ small. (See Interfluidity’s “Predatory Precarity” to understand the incentives.)

      NOTE * I know I need better language and clearer thinking on this, since classes, like everything else, are dynamic and have internal contradictions. I am attempting to study my Bourdieu.

  10. Pat

    Meant as a response for Rev Kev above but it moved.
    One ticket? Broadway costs are more than five times what I used to spend when I first got here, but they aren’t that bad. Well except for special events, those might run that much. If you aren’t buying on the secondary market, tickets run up to around $300. For instance a Friday night front orchestra or cancan table seat for Moulin Rouge will run you $269. Still unreasonable but it is not a grand.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Given the population and the length of wait times, it is what it is. What I’ve seen, it’s just kind of dumb with a pseudo intellectual cover to make PMCs feel good about themselves without trying.

        The other problem is the shows that aren’t runaway hits that would be healthy otherwise.

        1. ambrit

          I’ll echo Scrooge here and ask: “Are there not anti-scalping laws yet?”
          That “secondary market” is literally a legal way to scalp the tickets.
          I’m beginning to work out in my head the present day “New Cultural World Order.” It is all based on financial capability. “Real” art I will still refer to as ‘Culture.’ Neo-Art I will refer to as ‘Kultur.’ Telling the two apart will be a new, exciting, parlour game for the ‘hip’ and ‘self-aware’ crowd.
          This is nothing new. Tom Wolfe wrote about it back in the 1970s.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            There is also “the just in time market”. I may be using the wrong term, but it’s a good deal easier to see if seats are for sale. It’s not like calling and trying to get through. The potential customer base for spare or extra tickets effectively exploded.

            And Broadway plays were always “kultur”. Let’s be honest.

            1. Robert Hahl

              As a teenager in NYC I used to wait until intermission and then go in to see the second half. There were always empty seats. I stopped because the shows were not very good. I had another “theater moment” 40 years later, and went to a lot of pre-opening dress rehearsals in the DC area, but I had to stop; because my wife couldn’t stand it – they were uniformly terrible.

              When cheap video cameras came out I asked a retired Broadway producer why nobody was recording plays yet. He said that union rules give everybody in cast a veto power over that, and most plays are not good enough to stand the scrutiny. But somehow they all look good on a resume.

      2. fresno dan

        The Rev Kev
        December 25, 2021 at 8:49 am
        according to my handy dandy Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator, it takes about 95$ now to buy what 10$ bought in 1960.
        It seems to me that entertainment costs far outpace inflation. Sports, which I view as entertainment, provides a good example:
        Consider: Babe Ruth made headlines in 1930 for earning $80,000, more than President Hoover (Ruth: “I had a better year”). After accounting for inflation, that sum today would be $1.1 million, but that’s only one-third of the $3.2-million average player salary in Major League Baseball.
        I find it amazing how much I am willing to spend for cable TV (no HBO or ANY extras). And are smartphones able to charge outrageous amounts because they really are entertainment?

        1. polar donkey

          Think of how much more “entertainment” people see now. If something doesn’t have big production value people comment it is cheesy. Consider an NBA game. You have to have pyrotechnics, video productions, music through out the game, a platoon of shake dancers, a mascot and give away crew. It’s nuts. If you don’t put on a three ring circus, people would just watch on tv from home. Have you been to a wrestling show. There are basically two levels, old school ring in a high gym or WWE Monday night raw. That’s got all side gimmicks of an NBA game too. I go to some high basketball games and division two college games. It’s just the game, some cheerleaders, and socializing with various people in the crowd. I’ve been to over 300 NBA and division one college games. I’d rather just go to a high school game. Who needs all the other stuff.

      3. Pat

        I am glad I missed that. Still haven’t seen Hamilton. I did pick MR because it was the latest must see, but it wasn’t Hamilton which except for the rush seats* where it was sold out before opening. The actual show charging that except for say New Years Eve just didn’t happen, even when they doubled the pricing for house seats. The scalpers and secondary markets were getting outrageous prices like that even thirty years ago. I knew people who spent $500/ticket for Rent and that was 25 years ago. It was known as gouging, and quite honestly it applies whether it is a shady guy on the corner or the Schuberts, the Public, and Lin Manuel Miranda. And yes I know that Hamilton is probably supporting the Public Theater just like Chorus Line did during its run, still doesn’t make it right.

        *I admit to enough nostalgia to think of rush and lottery tickets as today’s version of standing room. I even stood through the two shows of Nicholas Nickleby because I so wanted to see again and couldn’t possibly afford it without forgoing eating for a month or two. They were more expensive than the usual ten dollar bargain, but not by much.

  11. Carolinian

    Very sorry about your news. From my morning paper

    DHEC recommends people continue to wear masks when indoors in public places, and to practice social distancing when possible.

    Somebody tell your hospital? But also this morning it’s reported only 3 Omicron cases officially known so far in SC and perhaps Alabama also not yet invaded by the new variant.

  12. Tom Stone

    I am very sorry to hear about your Mother’s condition and worry that both of you have been endangered by Mask theater performed by health care “professionals”.
    Hospitals are dangerous places at the best of times these days,hoo boy…

    It’s bad now and going to get a lot worse, the messaging is still “The Vaccines will protect you” .
    KGO radio is a 50,000 watt station,the most powerful in N California and two days ago an MD and “Medical Expert” interviewed there said exactly that with no qualifications “The vaccines will protect you”.
    It’s what people want to hear, they know no help will come from the Government,they know they are being fed horse shit and they choose to believe the happy horseshit.

    1. Samuel Conner

      Give N95s for epiphany.

      A friend made up little Christmas gift bags of chocolates and N95s for her neighbors (in a Univ. town in a red state). They were gladly received.

      Perhaps personal protective habits will change before everyone has become long-term impaired with long Covid.

    2. albrt

      I spent much of today in a hospital, and experienced a different theatrical performance. My dad (84) was admitted to a “non-covid” ward for a head injury after a fall. The staff, from doctors to janitors, mostly had n-95 or better masks. The masks were all different, so probably not provided by the employer.

      The patients had 5-cent paper masks or nothing.

      My dad was in a room with a guy who was coughing his head off. The roommate was a long time smoker with COPD and many other problems, so he probably didn’t have covid because he would have already been dead. Nevertheless, I asked a doctor and three different nurses if they were certain the roommate didn’t have covid. The last two I specifically asked if patients were rapid tested before being brought into the “non-covid” ward.

      The answer I gathered from the furtive and evasive remarks of the employees was that the roommate had “probably” been tested if he was symptomatic at admission, but there was no way to know whether he had actually been tested. That makes no sense whatsoever, so it is probably a true statement about an actual health care policy in a hospital in these United States. I guess that explains why the staff are bringing in the best masks they can get their hands on.

      Unfortunately my dad really does need to be in the hospital, and the place is so crowded and short-staffed there was no realistic way of getting my dad moved, either within the hospital or to another hospital. And even if my dad did get moved, the new roommate would probably be a greater a risk than the COPD guy since apparently nobody is tested. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

  13. PlutoniumKun

    Yves, best wishes to your mother. I hope you get some time to enjoy Christmas.

    As for hospital protection, I just got a photo from my doctor niece who is on duty today – entirely clad in full biohazard. That seems normal in most parts of the hospital so far as I’m aware.

    Another anecdote – I talked online to some friends in the UK, half of whom are in quarantine with Covid (many after catching it at the same wedding). The consensus is that its mild, more like a cold than typical covid symptoms, and much less severe than people were reporting over the last few months with Delta. One even repainted his bedroom while quarantined there. Curiously, two have partners who despite sharing a bed at an early stage have tested negative and are not showing symptoms.

    Its running wild here in Ireland – entire families are down with it over Christmas. Its doubled, then doubled again over the past 4-5 days. The hospitals are still ok, but its anticipated the rush will occur in the first week or two of the new year.

  14. anon y'mouse

    China hoarding grain—

    i could have sworn i read a foreign policy document recently somewhere (sorry, i read a lot and don’t keep track often, or source is hidden in my 5k links somewhere) that said that the U.S. was or would be trying to deliberately destabilize China with regard to food pressure, to cause them domestic unrest and political instability.

    don’t ask me how this document got leaked, whether it was genuine, or anything else, since i now can’t find the source and so of course this is hearsay, but it was clearly spelled out on the page and not a product of my embellishing.

    considering how unstable we are (we had flour and other shortages here last year, correct?), they might be doing it as a pure defense against that and knock-on price increases.

    it’s not unwise in a pandemic, at any rate.

    hope everything improves on your domestic front, and Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it.

  15. PlutoniumKun

    Islands Block Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship After 55 Aboard Test Positive For COVID HuffPost. I happened to see CNBC when the Royal Caribbean CEO was all bullish on 2022.

    Unless Omicron burns itself out very rapidly, I think it will have a huge economic impact in 2022. It seems to me that from the very beginning of Covid a vast range of investors and businesses, large and small, have been betting on ‘normality by 2022’. A raft of new hotels has opened in my neighbourhood apparently on that basis, and the airline industry was likewise hoping for it.

    As for cruise ships, I can’t read anything about covid and cruise ships without thinking of Bill Burrs genius proposal for population control. Not very Christmassy, but always good for a laugh….

  16. IM

    Yves, for your mom, with abrupt onset hypoxemia and a clear chest x-ray, pulmonary embolism should be considered if it hasn’t already been. Wish you well this Xmas.

  17. Kevin Smith

    Prayer for your mom.
    These days, if you don’t go into hospital with something, you’ll come out of hospital with something …
    Your mom is blessed to have a kid like you, I’ll bet you top her tree in every way!

  18. Kevin Smith

    One reason Marian and I wear N95’s now is to reduce the viral dose if we are exposed: if we get a smaller dose of virus, our hope and expectation is that the infection will take longer to manifest itself, and during that time our bodies will have a longer time to mount a useful immune response.

    [We’re both 70, I’ve had 2 Pfizer, 2 Moderna + 1 JnJ; she’s had the same, but only 1 Moderna].

    1. chris

      5 shots???

      Did they ask you any questions about that? Or were some of them from an early study for your demographic? Interested to hear how that happened and what the effects have been if you would like to share. For example, any side effects of note? Any results saying your immune system eats COVID for breakfast?

    2. Michael King

      If I understand you correctly, you’ve had five (!) vaccine injections and your partner has had four (!)? How is that possible? Where do you live? I’m 68, live in Vancouver, Canada and won’t receive my third shot booster until Jan. 11th.

      Best wishes to Yves’ mother.

  19. steve

    “WTF? What happened to the Hippocratic Oath with it’s “first, do no harm?”

    Certainly not my lane but my understanding is most medical schools do not require the Hippocratic Oath, some that do use a modified version and none contain “first..”.

    Peace and Good Health to All.

  20. Wukchumni

    Even though there is no conceivable way Santa could’ve gotten the Schwinn Sting-Ray down the chimney, there it is in all it’s glory-a thing of beauty with slick back tire-knobby front tire, ape hanger handlebars with a longish banana seat complimented by a sissy bar on the rear echelon, and sky blue in color. Rosebud…

    {flashback from 1971}

    1. Robert Hahl

      Yes but there is a history to consider. In a famous 1917 incident, “a contingent of French infantrymen marched through the streets of a town . As they marched in proper order, they baa-ed like sheep to indicate that they were lambs being absurdly led to the slaughter.” (Landscapes, John Berger on Art.) The problem is, how can can we recognize honest incompetence?

  21. Lee

    IM Doc:

    “I was taken aside a few weeks ago and told that my PPE was over the top and scaring patients.

    I was told I was vaccinated and could not spread the virus and was protected. Just two weeks ago. I told them to go fuck themselves and the side eye continues to this day.”

    Hah! My own PPE, a P100 respirator with a surgical mask worn over it to block the exhalation port and tight fitting safety glasses, my gear outdid that worn by the doctors and nurses when I went into a surgery center for a medical procedure. Alas, I had to remove these things for the procedure. “We’re all vaccinated” was an oft uttered phrase meant to reassure. “The vaccines are not sterilizing”, I would respond. A silent exchange of looks. Everybody knows the truth. We’ve all done the risk/benefit calculations, and here we all are resigned to doing what we can with what we’ve got.

    It’s been three days without symptoms and I get a PCR test tomorrow. In the meantime, I’m spending X-mas in splendid isolation in a corner of the house well away from the rest of the family, with a couple of HEPA filters whooshing away in what we call the neutral zone between our respective spaces, with meals being brought to me by masked loved ones. I feel like I’m in a Twilight Zone episode.

  22. Petter

    Wishing your mother the best Yves. I assumed that masking in hospitals was much more rigorous in the USA than what I experienced when I was hospitalized here in Norway last month. The only N95 mask I saw was the one the doctor in full hazmat suit wore when she went room to room informing us that a nurse had tested positive. My bed was by the nursing station and I was shocked that the nurses took off their masks when hanging out there. I thought “this is going to be a catastrophe” and sure enough.
    I’ve gotten through Covid, as has my wife, but was told by a member of the home visit COPD team that I should have been in the hospital. No thank you. My GP has been outstanding, calling, home visit, consulting with pulmonary specialists etc. I did not want to go back there.
    Again, wishing your mother a speedy recovery.

  23. The Rev Kev

    “Why snow leopards bite their tails, and other facts about this gorgeous high-altitude cat ”

    They are certainly magnificent animals and I can see that they are pretty widespread-

    But after reading the “What is a Wilderness Without Its Wolves?” article, I reflected that it was just as well that Snow Leopards are not native to North America. Otherwise by now, you would have some western rancher claiming the right to shoot the last breeding pair in the wild because one of his sheep went missing a coupla weeks ago.

  24. John Beech

    i hope the stress of caring for your mother spares you.

    And may 2022 be the one where we finally put SARS-Covid-2 in the rear view mirror.

  25. curlydan

    Wishing your mom a good recovery and hopefully a short hospital stay. Stay safe and thank goodness for your supply of N95s!

  26. Lee

    “What is a Wilderness Without Its Wolves? CounterPunch”

    My own fascination with wolves began as a nipper over sixty years ago when reading works by London, Seton et al. Such tales set in wild landscapes spoke to my longing for a life more vivid and elemental, beyond the sterile humdrum of suburbia.

    But one must put one’s shoulder to the rocks set by life in one’s path and get down to the business of pushing them up the hills at hand, and so it would be many decades before I would set eyes upon an actual living wolf.

    Indeed, I’d pretty much forgotten about wolves over the years until about the time my son turned seven and I started reading to him those books I’d loved so much as a kid, and it dawned upon me with deep regret that I was attempting to awaken in my son something akin to an aspect of myself that I’d long ago abandoned. To make a long story short: we took as many trips as we could to see wolves and did so, working with wildlife conservation groups, making friends, and learning much along the way.

  27. Daryl

    > DoorDash Will Require All Employees To Deliver Goods or Perform Other Gigs Marketwatch

    This has been making the rounds in the ether for two weeks or so; I honestly thought it was a funny satire at first.

    IMO, that’s a sign of massive desperation that is going to cause a huge employee exodus. Sort of wonder if these “gig economy” companies are reaching the end of the VC-foamed runway.

    1. Valerie

      Amazon already does a version of this in its fulfillment centers. Non-production employees (HR, staff trainers etc.) especially at Peak (Nov-Feb) anytime they are not actively engaged in their primary tasks must got to the line and work in production. (order-picking, packing, stocking, taking inventory or gift-wrapping) AT RATE. (This means that it is entirely possible to be terminated as a trainer or on-board specialist because you failed to pack orders at a fast enough pace. Not only does this practice cut down on the number of employees one has to hire, it ensures that very few people survive long enough at Amazon to accrue or use their benefits.

  28. urblintz

    Sonnets are full of love, and this my tome
    Has many sonnets: so here now shall be
    One sonnet more, a love sonnet, from me
    To her whose heart is my heart’s quiet home,
    To my first Love, my Mother, on whose knee
    I learnt love-lore that is not troublesome;
    Whose service is my special dignity,
    And she my loadstar while I go and come.
    And so because you love me, and because
    I love you, Mother, I have woven a wreath
    Of rhymes wherewith to crown your honoured name:
    In you not fourscore years can dim the flame
    Of love, whose blessed glow transcends the laws
    Of time and change and mortal life and death.

    – Christina Rossetti

  29. Verifyfirst

    The notion that the vaccine is sterilizing and completely protective has caused vast damage. But the thing that baffles me the most is medical personnel not even trying to understand ventilation and masking.

    You would think they would be more interested in their own and their patients’ wellbeing, especially with so much documented hospital/medical setting transmission.

    Fetishizing surgical masks cuz “that’s what surgeons wear” might have been excusable in the first two weeks of the pandemic… doctor, who I always thought was pretty smart, told me I was neurotic for wearing an elastomeric mask (the Narwall, full face. It does look dorky, but I don’t care!)

  30. Pat K California

    Thanks for keeping us up-to-speed on your Mom, Yves. Reading about her brought up fond memories of my own Dad on this rainy Christmas morn. COPD was his thing, too. But he was so determined to LIVE that he actually made it to 92 years of age. This will be our first Christmas without him.

    As for masking, uh boy … I’m seeing the same things the other commenters are seeing. “It won’t happen to me” syndrome. One of my neighbors had a small holiday gathering … just 7 of us close neighbors … this past week. All of us vaxed and boosted. But to be on the safe side, I asked about the ventilation at the hostess’s house. If I hadn’t, I don’t think there would have been any. Fortunately the hostess obligingly cracked all her windows and turned on all of her ceiling fans.

    But I was the only masked person there (KN-95). One neighbor actually looked at me, made a brushing off movement with her hand, and said, “Oh, Pat … you don’t have to wear a mask here. We’re all vaccinated. You won’t get COVID from us.” Needless to say, I quietly left it on … then proceeded to enjoy myself immensely … good company and good cheer with an almost reasonable dash of social distancing!

    All the drug stores in town are sold out of self-test kits …

  31. Mikel

    Yves, hope your mother improves. The mask discipline issue in hospitals is global.
    I ran across this article today. Check out the picture:

    The caption to the pic for those that don’t click on links:

    “Doctors and nurses share a Christmas Eve meal together in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at la Timone hospital in Marseille, southern France, Friday, Dec. 24, 2021. Marseille’s La Timone Hospital, one of France’s biggest hospitals, has weathered wave after wave of COVID-19. On Christmas Eve, medical personnel decorated a fir tree in the corridor and seized a moment for a communal meal in their scrubs, trying to maintain a semblance of holiday spirit in between rounds.”

    Over a dozen medical personal around a table in a small room – unmasked.

    The article has no comment or mention about lack of masks.

  32. Mikel

    “The Universe is Expanding Faster Than it Should Be” National Geographic

    “Should be”…
    I have to chuckle that they thought they knew what the entire universe “should be” doing.

  33. dcblogger

    are there any memoirs of failed states written by someone who was from one of those countries? I am particularly interested in El Salvador in the 1980’s, Lebanon in the 1980’s, or Afghanistan anytime since the Soviet invasion? I am reading some good ones written by American reporters who went to those countries to report, but I am interested in the point of view of someone who lived in one of those countries, who watched their world collapse around them and somehow lived thru it.

    1. David

      For Lebanon, I’d actually recommend a series of novels by the Lebanese/Canadian author Rawi Hage about that period. It’s arguable that only something like his brand of surrealistic tragic farce is capable of really reflecting the realities of the civil war.

      1. dcblogger

        thanks. I am also interested in anything about Somalia during the 1990’s if there is anything in English.

  34. Huey Long

    RE: Gorbachev and American Arrogance

    America’s always been arrogant. The only difference is after the collapse of the USSR there no longer was anybody to keep it in check.

    1. Mantid

      True that. And, by extension, America has kept it’s population in check via the “war on terror” and it’s new iteration, the war on the unvaxed (non compliant). Everyone stay well and Yves, best of luck for your mom. We have to do the best we can taking care of ourselves as there’s not a lot of institutional help out there.

  35. IM Doc

    First of all – to everyone here at NC – a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!

    An anecdotal update from my area.

    All physicians here have been vaccinated. Many boostered. As of last night, myself and 2 others are the only ones able to physically show up – everyone else is positive, sick and/or in quarantine. The already diminished nursing staff is much the same.

    At our facility this AM were 103 names on a list of patients who had become positive over the preceding 24 hours needing an appointment. I have seen many of these patients this AM on the computer. There has not been a single unvaccinated one in the group. At the very least, the vaccinated patients represent the exact percentage of the vaccinated in the population – and even that seems to no longer be the case. Lots of “vaccine required” family gatherings being disrupted and some members placed in quarantine. Legions of very pissed off people.

    It is absolutely the case that the symptoms are clearly milder. Thus far, I have had no new admissions in the past few days. However, there are quite a few of these people who although not hospital level are indeed very very ill. And I want to remind everyone, even though this seems not to affect the lungs as drastically, thereby minimizing admissions, we have zero clue if any of the other issues with COVID are diminished as well. WE ALL MUST BE CAREFUL.

    This is the new and alarmingly different part:

    Unfortunately, there is a growing angst and even anger and at times outright hostility. People who were promised they would not get sick, who were promised they would not have disruptions like this are getting increasingly peaved.

    This thing is spreading like wild fire. And very thankfully, we so far seem to be maintaining manageable hospital admissions. You have no idea how thankful I am of that. However, the ER and urgent locations are just overwhelmed – and largely with patients who are not really that sick and yet demanding PCR tests and other things. The tempers are running hot. The waiting rooms are crammed full and just imagine the “fights on the airplanes” videos – and that is what health care has become lately.

    I am exhausted, you are exhausted, and God knows the nurses and staff are exhausted. PLEASE DO NOT TAKE THIS OUT ON THE HEALTH CARE STAFF. I am urging angry patients to take a walk outside and return only when they have cooled down. And to place their anger at appropriate channels by calling their congresspeople and insisting on an investigation of our federal agencies.

    Take home points – if you are vaccinated or boostered – PLEASE do not assume you are bullet-proof. YOU ARE NOT. Please do not think you are not going to share the wealth with elderly infirm Grandma – you very likely will.

    If you have even a hint of a symptom – please stay home. Testing ability is in profoundly short supply. Indeed, in my area – we are running very low and will not make it through the weekend. HAVING NO TESTS DOES NOT MEAN YOU ARE NEGATIVE. If you are ill, STAY HOME.

    And for God’s sake – show some respect for yourself and your neighbors and your community. Do not cuss out nurses in front of 5 year old kids. The “b” “c” and “f” words have no place in a hospital. I have had to already do my best to console a 30 year old single mom nurse last night after a tongue lashing – the likes of which I have never seen before. “Ma’am I am so sorry you did not plan better – but we have no tests to accomodate your demand for pre-flight testing. I am sorry that is the way it is.” The resulting torrent of 4 letter words would have made George Carlin blush. Do not act like a fool for all to see. Many of us seem to be losing it – becoming unhinged. We are better than this.

    I want everyone to remember the Blessed Meaning of this Day.

    May God Bless Us – Every One.

    1. Screwball

      Wow! Some excellent information and advise. We mortals can’t imagine what you are going through IM Doc – and please believe me when I say – thank you, good luck, and stay strong in these so trying times.

      And thanks to all the workers who put up with this every single day. You are truly exceptional and we do appreciate it.

      And to the people who want to be dicks – get a ****ing grip. Your neighbor, your nurse, your doctor, and whoever is sitting beside you IS NOT your enemy. You want to blame someone, I get that, so try blaming the people who are responsible for this – and it’s NOT the people I just mentioned.

      Merry Christmas to all here, and get well soon to Yves mom. And thanks again IM Doc for what you do and for keeping us here a NC enlightened.

    2. Arizona Slim

      IM Doc, I would like to publicly thank you for a recent bit of advice that you offered. Y’know, about the povidone iodine nasal spray?

      Well, I cracked my wallet and bought this stuff:

      First time I tried it, OMG! My sinuses are on fire! Help! Help!

      Same thing happened the next morning when I tried again. Poor sinuses.

      I thought that it might be best to give those poor old nasal passages a rest for a couple of days. No nose hosing, no siree!

      After the break, I tried again. Instead of feeling like they were on fire, my sinuses felt, well, excited! They felt like they were standing at attention!

      I started noticing that, yes, I had to blow my nose about umpteen plus nine times, and then the magic happened. I felt like I’d really, really, REALLY flushed out the pipes!

      I’m up to four squirts per nostril per day — the instructions advise keeping the squirt count to eight or less.

      Thank you, IM Doc, for enabling me to do my Christmas bicycle ride with a HUGE smile on my face and a nose that did NOT feel like a faucet.

      1. WaygoneWilco

        Does anyone know whether a povidone iodine solution would be effectively administered through a humidifier, say running it for an hour each evening? Or does this need a much stronger concentration?

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I can’t imagine it would work at that concentration. And iodine stains, so you could wind up staining anything light colored. It stains my teeth, but not so badly that can’t be removed at regular dentist visits.

    3. skippy

      Spoke to my youngest daughter the other day which works front desk in ED at a major hospital who has been flat out for months. So it seems contract tracing and the like has gone out the window because of staff shortages and burnout e.g. roster staff and their bosses have just said fait accompli and their PPE makes them more “safer” that everyone else, oh yeah, everybody has been vaccinated so your protected thingy …

      Now what would be the odds of new variants, even multiple, due to the necessity – of some – too keep the highlight of the neoliberal consumerist narrative dream alive …. all whilst the non PMC cant hide at home and are either dropping like flies or just walking away. Albeit both are getting edgy over all the misinformation and how its impacted their lives and plans based on it …

      Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experiences, best gift of the season.

    4. Reader_In_Cali

      As always, thank you for the update, Doc. And thank you for your calming presence which sounds like it is sorely needed among your colleagues. Let us all remember to act like we have some sense when we speak to HCW, and everybody else for that matter!

      Best wishes to you and your mother, Yves. I hope she recovers safely and in good health. And I hope you are able to find some time to decompress this holiday season.

      Please be safe, everyone!

    5. Pat

      God grant me IM Doc’s wisdom and patience. Serenity is beyond anyone sane at this moment.

      Many thank yous and good thoughts to everyone on the front lines of this firestorm. They are real heroes just for doing all this under such adverse circumstances, at hospitals, at supermarkets and everywhere necessary to keep things functioning at all.

      I wish I thought that the idiots who have flamed the fires of this anger and rage would face real consequences for their greed, stupidity and outright lack of concern, but unfortunately things just don’t work that way these days. Hang in there, in time the people who are now disillusioned and lost may understand that those bureaucrats , and a disease, are the problem.

    6. Icecube12

      I haven’t posted stats on Iceland for some months but I saw something interesting a couple days ago that seemed to bear out things you’ve been describing. For months the site has been showing the 14-day incidence rate for infections and hospitalization based on vaccination status (unvaxxed, fully vaxxed and boosted) for both adults and kids. Most people here have been vaxxed with either Pfizer, AZ+Pfizer, or J&J+Pfizer. The data has seemed to bear out what was said about the unvaxxed being more likely to contract covid, with the 14-day incidence rate for infection hovering at pretty close to twice as high for the unvaxxed. Then in the last few days, we have jumped from a few omicron cases to the vast majority being omicron (70% as of a few days ago, and all infections are sequenced), and the incidence rate for the vaxxed (not boosted) has jumped up to almost meet that of the unvaxxed. You can check the graph out here,, “14-day incidence per 100.000 by age and vaccination status”. The rate for the vaxxed was 585 on 12/18 and then 982 on 12/22. The rate for the unvaxxed was The graph won’t be updated again until Monday. The rate for the boosted is still a lot lower but how long till it jumps up too?

    7. JTMcPhee

      “We are better than this”?

      Aspirationally maybe, operationally, clearly not. Maybe “We all ought to be better than this…”

      SOME of us might be better than this, but then those folks are the ones already living in comity. The rest? Pah.

  36. Outside observer

    Best wishes to your mother for a speedy recovery and may the gods give you both strength and health. I am so grateful to you, lambert, im doc, gm and crew for everything you do and all I have learned here over the years, but especially in the last two years, as so much of it has been news you can really use. We need you to stay safe and healthy! Merry Xmas despite the circumstances!

  37. Tom Stone

    “The Vaccines will protect you” is still the party line, I heard it again today while tuning into KGO radio while driving to meet my Daughter for coffee (Out doors.).

    The rage IM Doc is witnessing is just the beginning, someone is at fault, someone will be blamed.
    Political vacuums are filled,when they are filled by people who are channeling rage the outcomes are seldom pleasant.
    I plan to hole up in my room the rest of the day with my air purifier and watch the superspreader events being put on by the NFL
    The way Omicron is spreading I don’t think it will take before the boiling point is reached,and I don’t believe that “The buck stops over there” will be a successful strategy for the Biden Administration.

    1. Lambert Strether

      > I don’t believe that “The buck stops over there” will be a successful strategy for the Biden Administration.


      “I will end this.” –Joe Biden

      Americans may be “done with” Covid, but Covid is not done with them….

  38. Eustache de Saint Pierre

    Wishing you Yves the most favourable outcome possible in regard to your Mum – not long back from visiting mine which was a tough slog but well worth it, as she recognised me.

    A crazy week so a tad late – Enjoy !!!

  39. Jason Boxman

    Beginning the week of Dec. 5 through the current week, there has been a fourfold increase in Covid hospital admissions among children in New York City, where the Omicron variant is spreading rapidly, the department said in an advisory on Friday. About half were under the age of 5, and not eligible for vaccination.

    NC like getting news a month early. This was foreseen and children are being sent to the woodshed in America for capitalism, too.

  40. Lunker Walleye

    Thanks for everything, Yves. It’s hard to imagine what your schedule is like. Very sorry to hear about your Mother. Take care.

  41. newcatty

    Thanks IM doc. Thanks to you and all of the other true healthcare providers who are among us. Merry Christmas to you and your your kin.

    Comforting thoughts to Yves and mother. We had Jacque Frost on our roof tops this morning. Season’s greetings to all.

  42. psyquark

    I hope your mother pulls through.

    The reef picture is of a blenny (fish) in a brain coral next to a Christmas tree worm. Both of those are very skittish so a close up picture is, especially snorkeling, is impressive!

  43. jr

    I heard a radio announcer declare today that he was shocked that so many of his friends had Omicron but we were not to worry, all are fully vaxxed. I’m in NJ and masking is pretty light.

  44. The Scourge of Denver

    Cory Doctorow’s article was quite interesting and it piqued my interest in voting machines. I do remember quite a lot of talk herein about the only secure voting was “paper ballots, hand counted, in public.”

    I haven’t seen anything about that subject for a while in these pages and I am wondering, as if by magic, this is no longer a concern with the commentariat.

    I would like to review that subject as posed by NC but haven’t found an easy way to bring it up the history.

    Comments/suggestions (or am I just showing my old fogy status?)

    1. marym

      I’ll post a comment and some links. Due to the holiday schedule it may go into moderation for a while, if you care to check back later.

    2. marym

      The first 2 links in the Doctorow post are from 2003 and 2006. I’m not knowledgeable about issues from that era, but voting equipment has changed since then. This comment is a current perspective.

      The first link below has links to the audit of Maricopa County voting machines for the 2020 election for an idea of how it’s done. I’m not qualified to evaluate issues of hardware or software hackability or what an audit would or wouldn’t show about a possible hack.

      Most states have hand-marked paper ballots for in-person or mail in voting. Some have touchscreen ballot marking, but instead of the ballot passing in view of the voter and then directly to the tabulation process (as described in the third link in the Doctorow post), the printed ballot (a list of selections and a code for scanning) is printed for the voter to review and then take to the scanner. Machine fraud/error for the former would be in the tabulation; and for the latter also in the scan code not matching the selection list. The second link below shows types of voting machines in each state.

      States have post-election audit procedures to hand-recount selected ballots (like x races on y ballots from z precincts – second link), even if a close election doesn’t require a full recount. I’m not qualified to evaluate the statistical methodology.

      1. Lambert Strether

        Here is a detailed look at LA’s VSAP voting system, which is touch-screen.

        The important point: The ballot is that which is tabulated. Here is a diagram from that post:

        We have here the usual problem of a digital intermediary getting in between a human and the expression of their intent. The ballot appears to be the printout given to the voter, but the ballot in reality is a non-readable QR code, because that is what is tabulated. The opportunity for fraud is obvious, once you see the sleight of hand. (Yes, there are possible mitigations, but they are all kludges on top of a system that enables fraud, structurally. The problem is compounded by the fact that the software voting machine companies use is proprietary.)

        One of the worst things Trump did was to absolutely pollute the discourse on election fraud. If his lawyers had not been bombastic fools, more interested in getting on TV than winning cases, they would have sued to have the proprietary voting machine software made public, since that’s the most likely place for fraud to take place (as we saw with the Democrat primary in Iowa 2020).

  45. thoughtfulperson

    Was recently with a relative in a major university hospital in North Carolina. About 10 days ago. It was impressive that while they had many signs, and staff at doors, to insure masking compliance, all the staff had the simple paper surgical masks, nothin better. Given that in the world around the hospital masks were pretty rare, why they don’t have good solid masks??

  46. Jonathan Holland Becnel

    Merry Xmas, NC!!! And so sorry ? to hear about ur Mom, Yves. I second all the best of the best wishes here expressed earlier by the commentariat.

    Omikron is kicking new Orleans/Metairies ass rn.

    Be safe, yall!

  47. Ellery O'Farrell

    I hope your mother pulls through, Yves. My own mother died five years and two days ago, of aspiration pneumonia, but she wanted to go.
    Two things that may be of interest: first, her death certificate only said heart failure, with no mention of contributory causes (which should have been included). The same for my brother’s death certificate a year and a half later. If causes of death aren’t properly stated on a death certificate–probably because no medical examiner is involved and the primary physician is overworked and overtired–what does that mean for Covid statistics?
    Second, they called me to make the final decision about treatment, only because I was her daughter. She’d given her health care proxy to my brother (who unfortunately had been legally determined to be incompetent) and had stated her own wishes not to be given drugs or further treatment, which were disregarded because she’d been diagnosed with dementia. Instead, they called me, though I’d no legal authority at all. This was good in her case, because I knew what she wanted and honored her wishes. But it wasn’t right: she didn’t have dementia; it was just a convenient diagnosis for her memory issues. Her judgment was quite clear and the same as it had always been. I really shouldn’t have been able to dispute, even less override, it, much less be the sole determiner of whether she lived or died. This decision was hard to make, even though she’d already made it.
    She’d wanted to die for several years. The problem is how the system handled it.
    I hope that your mother recovers and lives an even longer and fulfilling life.
    Merry Christmas, if possible, to you, her, your family, and her helpers.

  48. Jwillie

    Tested positive for Covid Thursday, two days after my daughter tested positive and I stopped by her apartment (wearing n95 mask) to pick up her dog (since she was quarantined). 30 second visit max, but it appears to have been enough. She’s already over it. I’m on day 3 of what I would describe as a very mild hangover or very mild flu. Feel absolutely normal/energetic half the day and have to resist the urge to go work out. Other half the day I feel fatigued, achy, and spacey. Absolutely ZERO respiratory/throat /nasal/sinus symptoms thus far.

    Will talk to my doc abt monoclonal antibodies tomorrow since there’s a finite window for it, but seems like it would be overkill.

    Wife is a day behind me with same symptom set. I’m 66, she’s 55. No vaccines. We’ve been on IMASK prevention protocol for months, minus ivm. Asked for that on Friday and doc covering for my out of town doc said absolutely not. Will see what my doc says tomorrow.

    Our Healthcare system is utterly broken. Ivm should be dispensed automatically.

    1. LilD

      We are going for tests in the morning…
      Flu like symptoms
      Been isolating for two weeks but wife went out to lunch with a friend Tuesday, outdoors, and I went to Trader Joe’s Thursday…
      I’m a day behind on symptoms so I bet it was the lunch.

      Masks are worn pretty consistently here though I’m usually the only one with N95.

      Best of luck and health to you all.

      2021 didn’t work. Not optimistic about 2022

    2. Lambert Strether

      > absolutely not

      Cheap, harmless, possible placebo effect. So the reasons for not dispensing IVM are not medical, but ideological* (or possibly socio-psychological: amour propre).

      NOTE * At the very best, medical authorities believe that reinforcing their authority is a social good. There’s something to be said for that, if our health system weren’t a [Charlie Foxtrot] of enormous proportions.

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