Links 12/29/2021

Ecstatic Arkansas donkey is over the moon with his new ‘jolly ball’ Christmas toy Daily Mail

You Have No Idea How Hard It Is to Get a Hamster Drunk The Atlantic

Inside the cult of crypto FT

The $900 Billion Cash Pile Inflating Startup Valuations WSJ


A shellfish company gets into the weeds High Country News

The Penobscot River and claims against military subcontractors SCOTUSblog

Wakashio Captain, Chief Mate Sentenced Over Mauritius Shipwreck gCaptain

CN Rail wins right to privately prosecute northern B.C. rail blockade participants Times-Colonist


The very bad day at the CDC Etric Topol. Brutal. A must-read. Topol comments:

US officials recommend shorter COVID isolation, quarantine AP. Now five days, no test requirement to leave quarantine. Walensky, Monday: “Not all of those cases are going to be severe. In fact many are going to be asymptomatic. We want to make sure there is a mechanism by which we can safely continue to keep society functioning while following the science.” Editorializing just a bit:

Then on Tuesday–

CDC sharply drops estimate of Omicron prevalence in U.S. Politico (Re Silc). “The public health agency’s previous estimate that the rapidly spreading variant accounted for 73.2 percent of cases nationwide on Dec. 18 is now revised down to 22.5 percent — a significant drop that falls outside the agency’s earlier 95 percent prediction interval, or likely range where future analysis will fall, of 34 to 94.9 percent of all cases.” Leaving aside the question of whether the CDC (or whoever “we” is) should be in the business of “[making] sure there is a mechanism by which we can safely continue to keep society functioning” — I would have thought that was an issue for an elected official; say, the President — it’s curious that Tuesday’s Omicron prevalence drop from 73.2% to 22.5% didn’t seem to affect policy or messaging. Surely if Omicron is far less prevalent than first thought, there’s not so much reason to shove people back into their infectious workplaces? Allow me to characterize this decision-making process visually:

Big if true:

I repeat my hope that some CDC whistleblower will through some documents over the NC transom….

Flight attendants fume as CDC gives airlines what they want on quarantine change Politico

Nudge theory exemplified:

* * *

Uncounted: Inaccurate death certificates across the country hide the true toll of COVID-19 Missouri Independent

Experts say COVID-19 cases don’t tell whole story The Hill (AM). “[P]ublic health officials are debating whether the nation needs to shift its thinking. Many people are going to get omicron — but those that are vaccinated and boosted are unlikely to suffer dire symptoms. As a result, hospitalizations and deaths are the markers that government officials need to monitor carefully to ensure the safety of communities as the nation learns to live with COVID-19.” That “learn to live with” Covid talking point is especially rich coming from a public health establishment that has systematically monkey-wrenched all the non-pharmaceutical interventions that would have helped “the nation” do exactly that.

If only there were some society-wide institution where these testing kits could have been dropped off! An “office” of some kind.

* * *

Omicron and Holiday Travel: How to Strategize NYT

Delta says flight to Shanghai turned back because of new Covid rules NBC

* * *

Ferret Study Reinforces Role of Aerosols in SARS-CoV-2 Spread The Scientist. From 2020, still germane. “To study virus transmission, Herfst and his colleagues stacked two ferret containers on top of one another, connected only by a 15 cm–wide duct made of PVC pipe with four 90-degree turns.” Droplet goons need to explain how droplets spread infection around corners.

CDC Data Shows Two-Thirds of Cruise Ships Are Reporting COVID Cases Maritime Executive

* * *

10 lessons I’ve learned from the Covid–19 pandemic STAT News

Omicron Is Our Past Pandemic Mistakes on Fast-Forward The Atlantic. The deck: “We’ve been making the same errors for nearly two years now.” If errors they are.

The head of the Council on Foreign Relations believes the vaccines provide sterilizing immunity:

Since both the vaccinated and the unvaccinated transmit, banning the unvaccinated does not achieve “the right to be safe,” by definition. Of course, such a ban does achieve the right to be safe from social inferiors. Perhaps that is what Haas wants.


China Reckons With Omicron’s Specter Foreign Policy

US shows China its hand on strategic value of ‘unsinkable’ Taiwan FT

How to keep US-China rivalry from starting a nuclear arms race South China Morning Post


Ethnic Armies Condemn Myanmar Junta’s Kayah Massacre The Irrawaddy. Meanwhile, Meta carries on the Facebook legacy:


Bennett: Israel Faces Unprecedented Omicron COVID Wave, ‘We Can’t Prevent It’ Haaretz

The African nation aiming to be a hydrogen superpower BBC

Claims of vaccine hesitancy in African countries are at odds with the reality on the ground STAT News

Without Tutu and Mandela, Is South African Moral Exceptionalism Dead? Foreign Policy


Walking the World: Bucharest Chris Arnade, Intellectual Int-ing

New Cold War

Foreign Fighters Vow to Support Ukraine Against Russian Invasion Coffee or Die

Reports of Russia’s decline are greatly exaggerated The Hill. “[A]s an honest appraisal of Russian power clearly indicates, this is neither a bipolar nor a unipolar moment. It is an era of multipolar great power competition.”

The FINAL day of the USSR in people’s diaries Russia Beyond

Biden Administration

After OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard for Healthcare Employers Expired … National Law Review

Kamala Harris says she’s looking for ways to ‘creatively’ solve the $1.7 trillion student debt crisis, reminding many of her plan that was criticized as overly-complicated when she ran for president Business Insider (Rev Kev). How about just… writing it off? Not “creative” enough?

Democrats en Deshabille

King of the Ghouls Eschaton. Larry Summers.


The Democrats’ Education Lunacies Will Bring Back Trump Matt Taibbi, TK News. Nationalizing education as an issue.

Conservative Man Tearfully Informs Family Critical Race Theory Has Spread To His Liver The Onion

L’Affaire Joffrey Epstein

The challenge presented to Ghislaine Maxwell jury: 4 accusers and a wide array of charges Miami Herald. The Miami Herald reporter, Julie K. Brown, has been great on the Epstein story throughout. Worth a clickthrough.

Judge in Ghislaine Maxwell case extends jury deliberations due to omicron concerns ABC

Zeitgeist Watch

Los Angeles woman faces federal charge after allegedly punching another passenger on Delta flight CNN. Corey Robin comments:

Class Warfare

The latest worker shortage may affect your health: Pharmacies don’t have enough staff to keep up with prescriptions NBC. $15.08 an hour….

Covid Panic is a Site of Inter-Elite Competition Freddie DeBoer. “Dealing with Covid is just acting as your own private actuary. That’s it. Your relationship towards Covid and the steps you take to mitigate its risks are fundamentally self-interested decisions that you should try to make as unemotionally as possible.” So, “there’s no such thing as society”?

First: Against Meritocracy Brad DeLong, Grasping Reality. And speaking of meritocracy:

On Giving Up London Review of Books

Amazon Alexa Told a 10-Year-Old Girl to Play With a Live Wall Outlet Gizmodo

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


    1. BeliTsari

      What We’ve Learned from COVID: A ginormous percentage of our neighbors can’t handle the truth. We’re all ridiculously stereotypical disaster movie extras, who pull our useless designer masks off, to spew vituperation directly into each-other’s pimply faces. Projection is 9/10th of duopoly agitprop? The veracity of any BS K Street trope is inversely proportional to display size. If more than 2 young white “reporters” are sneering happy news at you, while your phone, tablet & laptop’s Amber Alert piezoelectric siren’s blaring for certified medical hands report to the nearest ER, ICU or triage tent; chances are, your elected officials LIED to you?

      1. John

        Save for passing glances, I am ignoring the cascade, the blizzard of conflicting information, disinformation, outright falsehoods, deliberate and malicious pronouncements that arrive daily from sources known , unknown, reliable, unreliable.

        What have I done and what do? I had my jab and the booster? I am to old to be concerned about the “sterilizing effect.” I eschew the company of large numbers of people. I wear a mask when inside with unknown others. I have not been on an airplane since March 2018, not because I am averse to air travel when there is no ground or water alternative, but no I have had no need to put up with the hassle. The whole pandemic thing has been and is a colossal pain in the ass. I wish it would just go away as was posited by Mr. Trump nearly two years ago. It has not neither do I foresee it doing so any time soon.

        The governments have not covered themselves with glory in their efforts to mitigate and combat the effects of the virus. An exacerbating factor has been the tantrum whipped up by extremes of individualism. A virus is indifferent to your needs, to your rights, to your desires. A virus is not moved by political bloviation. A virus is deaf to political wrangling and ideological mud wrestling. It does not notice posturing in the service of individual political aspirations. A virus will happily feed on the profit driven actions which allow it to do what viruses do: spread and mutate. Given the opportunity the virus will strike the homeless person with a dime or the billionaire whose net worth has doubled. It will be mild or serious or fatal as the interaction of it and your body allow. It does not care.

        So, could we please put the hysterics aside and make the collective effort, nationally and internationally, to damp down, stamping out is long past possible, the virus. The virus will not mind. It will bide its time mutating. No telling what form it may ultimately take.

        And, as is de rigeur in this year of grace, have a nice day.

        1. Pate

          “The governments have not covered themselves with glory in their efforts to mitigate and combat the effects of the virus.”

          The virus response is a litmus test for free-rein (and free-reign) capitalism …

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          Non-leadership citizens and subjects of the various countries can certainly try to do the things which would additively amount to having a damping-down effect. We will have to do this in opposition to our collective governments and ruling elites which very clearly want to have a deliberately and maliciously ramping up effect.

          And perhaps general mass-public efforts to damp the virus down will lead to the “parallel sovereignty” which Lambert Strether has spoken of in the past, at least at the social-cultural level.

          (Certain governments like China and a few others excepted, of course. They share their subjects’s desire to damp it down.)

  1. Mikel

    I’m not listening to much the CDC has to say.
    I’m sick of the CDC’s and the FDA’s bought and paid for policy.

    Israel is on shot 4 already. Rollout this month.
    So in about two months we’ll have data that will be examined by researchers globally to look at. And then that will only be the initial data still.

    That will help in making decisions about how to proceed with non-sterilizing shots.

    All this rush like a booster is doing anything for any significant period of time is non-verified speculation.

    1. KiranR

      Meanwhile, the mostly bewildered and data shorn herd on Nextdoor Neighbor gets an opportunity to click on this link above any post discussing human, or animal, health, or vaccines, school closings, masks or business shutdowns.

      “Visit for more vaccine info”

      1. ambrit

        YouTube is also doing the “Visit the CDC videos for more information” propaganda campaign.
        It reminds me of the ‘Public Service Announcements’ in the film “Starship Troopers.”
        “Want to know more?”

      2. norm de plume

        ‘shorn herd’ put me in mind of a Talleyrand bon mot:

        ‘Society is divided into two classes: the shearers and the shorn’

        Unfortunately, he had a coda:

        ‘We should always be with the former against the latter’

  2. MikeSans

    Great content as always here at NC…but even here, like all things media did anyone “highlight” the key group within this mandate…”Asymptomatic” only…Not most covid peeps who present w/symptoms. Thanks

    1. Nikkikat

      Yes, the asymptomatic only will have a license to roam by the CDC. It’s much easier to be Typhoid Mary when your victim doesn’t see you coming.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Its all part of the CDC’s deliberate and maliciously democidal “spread covid” agenda. In my purely amateur layman’s opinion.

    2. Icecube12

      Eh, it reminds me when they told the vaccinated they don’t need to wear masks. Everyone knew that, practically speaking, that advice meant, “masks optional.” I am pretty sure that a lot of employers–and employees afraid of losing their jobs–are going to read this as “definitely not contagious after 5 days, does he really have symptoms anyway? don’t be a lazy wimp and get back to work.” It adds even more uncertainty into what happens when a person tests positive, and that is not a good thing from a public health standpoint.

      1. fajensen

        I will be happy to come in and cough all over my management.

        Decision makers suddenly going to a “just let it rip”-policy does make me think that there must now be some kind of effective treatment, one that “They” have immediate access to, the rest of us maybe not!

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > ”Asymptomatic” only

      Consider reading the post; I cited Walensky to that effect. In any case, as most people who pay attention know, Covid spreads asymptomatically, but there’s no test requirement. (Now, one could say that’s because the Biden administration butchered mass testing, but… No, one couldn’t say that.)

  3. The Rev Kev

    I don’t know what Amazon is trying to achieve here. Generally speaking, the Darwin Awards are for full-age adults who are capable of having kids and are old enough to make their own – poor – decisions so neither qualification applies to a 10 year-old girl. Maybe they had better get actual humans to check what other challenges are on file for Alexa to dispense.

    1. icancho

      Amazon / Alexa are indeed puzzling here. But adverse selection comes about through any reduction of an individual’s reproductive output, for whatever reason, relative to others. Reducing it to zero represents particularly severe selection, and this would happen if the individual dies before having offspring, regardless of whether they are of reproductive age.

    2. JCC

      I saw this article yesterday and noted that the alexa servers scan the internet to incorporate “challanges”. Apparently this includes Darwin Award Winners.

  4. The Rev Kev

    “Uncounted: Inaccurate death certificates across the country hide the true toll of COVID-19”

    Coroners get elected in the US? Is that wise? Going by that Cape Girardeau County coroner, I would say no. Lambert says that data collection in the US is problematical and if this is typical, I can see why. And taking the word of the family what killed their relative is really bad practice, especially when families will refuse to admit that it was Coronavirus and who will only reverse course when they find out that if it was Coronavirus, that the Government will pick up the tab. Fortunately I have an idea.

    Back in the 19th century it was not uncommon to see as a cause of death on a death certificate the term ‘Visitation of God’ and I first saw this with an ancestress of mine from 1850s UK. Had to do a bit of digging what it meant and it was basically if you just dropped down dead with no obvious cause, then a local doctor could declare the death being caused by a ‘Visitation of God.’ So for Coronavirus deaths, how about resurrecting that term? Religious families would love it and down the track, such a death certificate cause would be a signal what the true cause was. So win-win?

    1. Bob


      China is locking down cities because of a surge in coronavirus.

      We are getting ready to send athletes from all over the world to China.

      Even if they are vaccinated they can still catch the virus and transmitted to the others. What we expect to happen when these people return back to the country of origin. Does not sound like we are taking this anywhere near seriously or is it all a game.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        It would be interesting to see whether the ChinaGov tries to put the whole Olympics Venue and all the athletes and posses and hangers-on under a kind of Level Four BioContainment.

        If the ChinaGov does that, it goes to show that the ChinaGov does not trust non-China covid containment and control efforts and does not want China to be exposed to them. Which would call into question in my mind the prestige of having the olympics in China or indeed in any country at all whatsoever at this time.

        But I am not the ChinaGov deciders on this issue.

      2. BlakeFelix

        We aren’t serious, but to my understanding they are way less likely to catch COVID in China than pretty much anywhere else.

    2. IMOR

      I rush to reassure you, Rev, that in many if not most instances, we’re electing SHERIFF-Coroners, so Back the Blue and all will be well!

      Bullet points from a slideshow on Georgia’s system remind us that they are usually not physicians and that the U.S. has 2,342 different death investigation systems among its 3000+ counties, surprising exactly zero NC readers.

  5. Questa Nota

    May Corey Robin and others invite more replies and address more thoroughly the observations and history of American social disorganization.

    Where to start?

    That list could have a few graphics showing the divergence starting about 50 years ago. Here are a few more.

    1. SufferinSuccotash

      Thomas Mann described this sort of situation very nicely in The Magic Mountain.

      What was this, then, that was in the air? A rising temper. Acute
      irritability. A nameless rancour. A universal tendency to en-
      venomed exchange of words, to outbursts of rage — yes, even
      to fisticuffs. Embittered disputes, bouts of uncontrolled shriek-
      ing, by pairs and by groups, were of daily occurrence; and the
      significant thing was that the bystanders, instead of being dis-
      gusted with the participants, or seeking to come between them,
      actually sympathized with one side or the other to the extent of
      being themselves involved in the quarrel.

      For those of you who just came in, the scene is a TB sanitorium in Switzerland just before the outbreak of WW1.

  6. Mikel

    “but those that are vaccinated and boosted are unlikely to suffer dire symptoms…”

    Just about one year into the non-sterilizing shots.
    Long-term, this is all still speculation.

    Also not being taken into account is when another health care crisis strikes on top of Covid and others currently happening.

    1. Carla

      “not being taken into account is when another health care crisis strikes on top of Covid and others currently happening.”

      Huh. How will we even know?

      1. Mikel

        True. If anything was learned from the 1918 Flu – deny and deflect.
        They called it the Spanish Flu because Spain didn’t have war censorship so they pointed out the bodies in the damn street.
        That period had to be a “Don’t Look Up” dry run…except it was “Don’t Look Down”…

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          ” Don’t look up, don’t look down, don’t lyou dare look all around”.

          See nothing, say nothing.

      1. Yves Smith

        Malone did not invent mRNA. Stop propagating that falsehood. It discredits you.

        Malone wrote an important early paper. The development of mRNA technology came out of the work of many many people.

  7. Tom Stone

    I read the article on Kamala’s”Creative” plan and it’s what I have come to expect from her over the decades, not much,maybe in seven syllables.

    What does surprise me is that the National Association of Realtors hasn’t been all over this issue, one of the biggest bars to household formation and home ownership is excessive student loan debt.

  8. Wukchumni

    Although, (here’s the funny part!) my current salary (270 rubles plus 60) is less than the unemployment benefits (342 rubles). A bottle of champagne at a kiosk costs 150 rubles, a down jacket – 6,500-7,000 rubles, a shirt – 300-400 rubles.

    In theory a Soviet Ruble was worth a buck fifty during the Cold War and had the buying power of it certainly in the USSR, where there were no rent or mortgage payments to deal with, public transport was good and cheap, and here on the day the USSR dissolved, his monthly salary was equivalent to a shirt.

    Much worse was to come when you could add a zero to all of those prices in 1992.

    It was the mind boggling billions of Marks needed to equal a $ in 1923 that made Weimar synonymous with hyperinflation, but 1,000 Rubles equaling an almighty buck does the same trick.

    I read about the demise of the $ pizza slice in NYC, now raised to $1.50.

    Imagine that very pizza slice having a price of $1,000 in the not too distant future, were we to go through a similar financial collapse?

    Here’s the weird part though, you think our housing bubble is a bit crazy now, imagine a standard issue 3/2 SFH built in 1967 in an ok neighborhood in LA fetching $1.7 billion, as the proles push prices to the moon trying to get rid of cash that isn’t worth anything, and don’t get me started on Bitcoin (it peaks @ $14 million a share and plateaus there, before a steady rise to $100 million)

      1. ArtDog_CT

        I stayed in the GDR twice in the 1980s. The one pfennig coin was made of aluminum, but all other coins were made of other metal alloys.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Pretty sure that the 1DM coin was aluminium too because I gave mine to the guy who gave me a lift out of Berlin and who was an avid coin collector. Too late to check here but will have to check those coins I got tomorrow

          1. IMOR

            Hardly the only nation with some or all of their coinage composed mostly of aluminium in that era, Rev, albeit mostly lower denominations issued by isolated or weaker powers. (Though Austria comes to mind.)
            I’ve wished we too called it aluminium since seeing ‘Day of the Jackal’ nearly fifty years ago.

      2. Jeremy Grimm

        As a young man doing making a Eurorail-Pass, backpack trip through Europe, I found a 10 groschen aluminum coin on a street in Austria. The coin was slightly smaller than a dime. I lost it in the years since. I have always wondered since that time whether aluminum one-groschen or better yet three-groschen coins had ever been minted.

        1. Wukchumni

          It wasn’t uncommon for there to be reverse seigniorage in post WW2 European coins.

          The smallest Austrian coin was an aluminum 2 Groschen, also slightly smaller than a Dime.

          A Schilling was worth about 30 Cents, so a 2 Groschen had a face value of 6/10’s of a Cent.

          I was in Yugoslavia in the early 1980’s, and you could get about 500 Cent sized coins for a $, and there was no way they could have been minted @ a profit.

          But if we were to pull off the Trillion Dollar Coin using a standard 1 troy ounce weight and composition as other platinum bullion coins the US Mint has struck, there’s about $999,999,999,031.00 worth of seigniorage to claim as profit along with the trillion on the front end, in essence a couple of trillion bucks without having to mess with WV Joe or Sinema not so vérité.

          1. Jeremy Grimm

            Thanks for the information. As I indicated I always wondered whether there were coins of smaller value than the 10 groschen coin. I suppose instead of a Drei Groschen Oper we could have a Zwei Groschen Oper reflecting the overall declines in the values of our present age.

      3. Wukchumni

        It was a total gift from West Germany allowing East German Marks to be exchanged 1-1, creating consumers who were tantamount to kids in a candy store with gobs of money in their hands.

        And then a funny bubble came out of it…

        East Germany silver commemorative coins were minted from the 1960’s to 1980’s primarily for export, and then German coin collectors in the west all of the sudden had to have them (although they pretty much had studiously avoided them when the DDR existed) and prices on many were 5x-10x what they were worth just a year before.

        There is a lot less interest in them now, and prices have fallen quite a bit since the bubble.

        Here’s one with Rosa Luxemburg on it from 1971

  9. The Rev Kev

    ‘These are two FedEx Drop Boxes on the Southwest Side, sites where CPS families are expected to leave completed COVID testing kits. Because boxes are overflowing, families are scrambling to find safe and secure places to leave their kits. The deadline for return is today.’

    I’m going to guess that in earlier times, those testing kits would have come with their own pre-paid envelopes which one could drop into any Post Office in any suburb or town across the country. Yeah, I realize that this cuts out a private corporation from the process but we all have to make sacrifices.

    1. ChiGal

      And note that tests taken 6 days before school starts back provide no assurance whatever that kids are not infected when they show up.

      Test theater.

    2. fajensen

      I recently moved back to Denmark. Days within the registration of residency someone sent the medical card and the colonic cancer test kit, by mail. There’s a pre-paid padded envelope with the colonic cancer test kit.

  10. Mikerw0

    Chance of Nimibia H2 project happening not statistically different than zero. The economics of green hydrogen using wind/solar remote from the actually end-use market don’t work, particularly once you factor in compression to liquid and transport.

    1. Star116

      Spot on comment. Biggest limitation would be water availability, but industrial end users typically already have access to water.

      Those electrolysis units are pretty modular too (just lookup Siemens Silyzer 300). To scale up the production amount, just use more modules. And, those electrolysis units require minimal onsite personnel for operation and maintenance. So there’s really no reason to create such a large facility to ship to multiple end users.

  11. Randy

    “Covid Panic is a Site of Inter-Elite Competition Freddie DeBoer.”

    How does this dude still have a platform after admitting he fabricated accusations against someone after getting a bout of the crazies? I’m all for forgiving someone who acknowledges screwing up and moving on, but that doesn’t mean I have to care about what they think about pretty much anything.

    1. Basil Pesto

      I’m all for forgiving someone who acknowledges screwing up and moving on, but that doesn’t mean I have to care about what they think about pretty much anything.

      Why bring it up then?

      I hope his take ages well but yeah, I’m not convinced it’s not silly. I notice a similar take has calcified among Stoller and Arnade too. He (they) thinks he’s oh-so-smart and fully understands the nature of the problem, such as it is, but he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. The only way to defy the virus is to stop it, not to acquiesce to it in a way that is unprecedented in modern history for a pathogen of this nature (which isn’t to say that some of the clickbait he criticises, which I guess is the “panic porn” I’ve heard a lot about, isn’t worthy of criticism either. That said, I would be hard pressed to call Haseltine’s recent work in Forbes – Forbes! – say, as “panic porn”) and fatalistically treating it as invulnerable or casually as no longer a problem worthy of our attention. As it is, the genuine concern I’ve noticed seems to be coming from scientists and healthcare workers, and not those of a blue check variety if that is a marker of elitism. It’s also a bit rich to be crying elitism when actual healthcare workers are seriously under the cosh all over the world, including places where that can’t really be blamed on low vaccine uptake. Interesting too that he tries to slander those concerned by lumping them in with BLM virtue signalling. My impression of the sanssouci ‘vaccines won’ type minimisers is the opposite: Black Lives Matter woo; Immunocompromised lives, eh, not so much. What, you expect us to take care of the weak? What are we, civilised?

      But a man with a Substack’s gotta have a take. Just hard to be surprised when a political blogger’s* take turns out to be crazily blithe and informed by his worldview rather than any bona fide (indeed, scientific!) curiosity. The subtextual selfishness was also perhaps revealing, in a fairly unflattering way. And his conclusion of ongoing Covid concern being some kind of function of meaning-imbuing inter-elite competition: meh. I have no skin in that odious game. It’s a poorly formed and tenuous argument that could only be reached with an incomplete grasp of the facts, so not terribly surprising. And this is before you get to all the sociopolitical consequences of how this is being cocked up. He doesn’t seem to be able to see beyond his set of weights.

      Again, I hope he’s right and we’ll all be fine from now on, maybe with the occasional wave of mild deaths, but the final paragraph does sort of have a whiff of desperation about it.

      *with apologies to our hosts, whose posts are clearly more assiduous and careful than deBoer’s

      1. Ouroboros

        There is something to this from the piece-

        I read something like this bonkers Ian Bogost essay in The Atlantic – read it, please, before you assume I’m being uncharitable – and I wonder, who is this for? And when he says “you,” who is you?

        Bogost’s piece is an absolute classic, maybe the classic, in a particularly strange form of worry porn that progressives have become addicted to in the past half-decade. It’s this thing where they insist that they don’t want something to happen, but they describe it so lustily, imagine it so vividly, fixate on it so relentlessly, that it’s abundantly clear that a deep part of them wants it to happen. This was a constant experience in the Trump era – liberals would imagine that Trump was about to dissolve Congress and declare himself emperor, they’d ostensibly be opposed to such a thing, but they were so immensely invested in the seriousness and accuracy of such predictions that they’d clearly prefer for it to happen. I wrote about Chris Hayes and his bitter yearning for Trump last week, and he’s a good example, someone who ruminates on Trump and the dystopian future he might bring about with such palpable emotional pathology that it’s clear that, on some level, he needs it to happen, so that he can say “I was right.” And so with Bogost here; that level of anxious catastrophizing always carries with it the quiet, throbbing need for the bad dream to come true. Covid is already bad, very bad. I am always so confused that so many people seem desperately to want it to be worse.

        The comparison of Russiagate and Covid doomerism obviously won’t sit well with many, but I don’t think it’s entirely off-base either.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          The difficulty here is that you can’t reverse engineer the truth out of bullshit. I think there’s a lot to be said for the idea that RussiaGate and Covid hysteria have similar socio-psychological mechanisms (and of course reinforce the class power of the PMC, so all things work together for good). One cannot elevate owning the libs to an epistemological princople. Just because the PMC lost their minds over RussiaGate, and there was nothing there, doesn’t mean that if they’re losing their minds over Covid, there’s nothing there also. (Indeed, 800,000+ deaths would argue that there is, and that “Doomerism” is simply question-begging.)

          I learned this lesson back during Fukushima. Because the press coverage was so over the top, I thought I had to lean against the wind, and take the position that the reporting was exaggerated. Well, the reporting was awful, and the hysteria was too, but out there in reality, there were actually three meltdowns. So, again, you can’t reverse engineer the truth out of bullshit.

          1. Street Worm

            The Omicron surge is one of those perversely fortuitous—and rare—occasions where we will pretty definitively know within weeks who has a better grasp of the situation. If the ICU hospitalizations and deaths spike proportionally to the seemingly inevitable continuing exponential rise in case numbers (which would probably make the Delta surge look like a picnic) in the coming weeks, the doomers will be well vindicated, whereas if the rates diverge as the optimists hope, they will be equal vindication for the non-doomers. Although it must be said the next couple of months will still look pretty awful, even in the sunnier scenarios, based simply on the vertical slope of rising cases. My gut prediction is continuing steep rise in cases until late January/mid-February, and an awful, but not proportionate, rise in hospitalizations and deaths followed by a steep decline afterward and by a period of relative calm and low ICU numbers. Beyond that, I can’t even hazard a guess.

            As for Fukushima, remember that the doomers who weren’t predicting apocalyptic worldwide radiation poisoning were confidently predicting (still are?) dangerous levels of radioactive isotopes contaminating all Pacific seafoods for decades/centuries and admonishing people not to consume them on that basis, and unless I’ve missed something, that never came to pass. At all. And given the relatively low barrier to independently verifying the radioactive contamination of Pacific life, it’s unlikely evidence of any such massive contamination could be suppressed.

            And then there were the widely published reports seriously predicting human extinction by 2050 due to climate change. Crazy, crazy doomer stuff. Not to minimize or deny any of these real and calamitous ongoing catastrophes, but it’s always still possible to go way off the deep end. And there will always be a booming click market in doomer porn, just as there will be for Pollyannish denialist nonsense on all of these. How do you market and sell, “We just don’t know yet” stories, and who’s the target market for them?

            1. Yves Smith

              Straw manning is a violation of our written site Policies.

              You are completely misrepresenting the position of those worried about Omicron.

              The real damage of Covid is not the death rate but the morbidity. For instance, there has been a spike in cancers, including formerly rare ones. That is almost certainly due to T-cell derangement and exhaustion, which experts predicted early on given how Covid progresses. People normally grown cancers all the time but T-cells go after them. Lower T-cells = greater cancer risk.

              Another morbidity risk is long Covid, which 20% of those with asymptomatic cases and a recent study found 63% of symptomatic cases. Overlapping with that is brain inflammation, heart, and kidney damage.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        I generally really like deBoer, but he is way off base with this article. He never once mentioned Long Covid, which is the reasonable fear even the healthiest should have (its certainly why I am doing my best to avoid an infection, despite being generally in a low risk category). It is only possible to maintain a ‘no fear’ approach to covid if you pretend long covid (and associated neurological risks) does not exist or is very rare. Very clearly, it almost certainly does exist and is shockingly common.

        As you say, there are quite a few usually very good writers who have dug themselves into a hole over their generally libertarian approach to covid. Greenwald is another example. I think there is a problem with people who are very smart and see themselves as incisive original thinkers (and in many cases they are) feel the need to take a contrarian stand on something like Covid. Someone should tell them that the virus doesn’t give a damn what they think, and is not impressed by their personal confidence.

  12. Solarjay

    On the student debt issue. Because the Dems like to make things complicated:
    1. Apply all interest that has been paid to principal
    2. Lower the interest rate to prime
    3. Then give some amount say 10-50k in loan reductions.
    Or you know, just cancel it. But the new loans should be at prime.

    As to Biden’s Covid statements, I really don’t see how he recovers from that.
    And trust in the CDC and NIH etc is all but gone. It was obvious about a year ago that a lot of people were not taking the vaccine. And the key regardless was fast, inexpensive/free, easily available tests.

    I was having a small dinner party (4) with our German neighbors. They tell me that in Germany at home tests do cost, but there are in person tests all over, and free. No lines, no scheduling, and results in 20 minutes.

    I didn’t expect much from Biden harris, but wow have they lifted the bar low.

    1. Glen

      We’re already experiencing people deciding to leave healthcare, education as a result of COVID. It would seem more than logical that student debt forgiveness and free college are going to be required to avoid having problems in healthcare and education. But really that’s the most obvious example, there are many others where forgiving student debt and enhancing pay must be done, but will not.

      Instead we’re going to keep giving the DoD trillions, and Wall St trillions.

    2. Milton

      Again, that’s adding confusion. Just make student loan debt, and all private debt, dischargeable via bankruptcy. Discharging student loans at the federal level rewards the jackals that are holding the notes.

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      I think Biden Harris have bumped the bar onto the ground, and not just in how they have handled the Corona Plague.

    4. John Beech


      I say worst case, loans at 0% but best case, we we write them off altogether.

      If the Donald can write off a casino, our kids can write off debt for school. And for God’s sake, stop underwriting new ones. Free college, not free of course but our property taxes pay for high schools and elementary they can pay for day care and college as well. Shift this burden from kids to property owners.

      Look, universities in 1969 didn’t cost more than someone working at a summer job at McDonald’s could hope to pay for. Or close. Close enough for a scholarship to make all the difference. Applied rewards for the studious.

    5. Robin Kash

      There should be no loans at all. The student loan “program” is a way of privatizing higher education and indenturing borrowers. States and Feds have failed to fund higher (or any) education adequately, but instead have defended it in concert with lending to students.
      True, not everyone wants or needs a college education but making it free would be a step toward fostering and encouraging rigor in the teaching learning exchange, and not a matter of buying certification, nor of making the right connections, nor of perfecting the secret handshake.
      Existing student loans should be cancelled. Those borrowers who have repaid their loans whether fully or partially should be reimbursed for principal and interest.
      The interest rates on student loans is criminally userous. The governments that committed the crimes should be made to pay.
      And, yes, I know such cancellation and repayment will fall to us taxpayers, just as adequately funding education will. The taxpayers who have benefitted most from gobbling up interest payments from studen loans should lead the way in assuring that we do not live in a land of indebted, indentured, certified ignorance and compromised competence.

  13. jefemt

    CN rail and private litigation. Becoming The Donald: Litigate!!

    Bill Gates owns a $3.2-billion train set, making him the largest shareholder in Canadian National Railway Co. The Microsoft Corp. founder now controls more than 46 million CN shares, or 10.04 per cent of the Montreal-based railway.
    Bill Gates largest shareholder in Canadian National – The ……

    I recall getting stuck in far NW North Dakota in a teeny-town County seat (Bowbells) between two trains… one was a BN, the other was a CN, and all I could think was Buffett and Gates were somewhere playing bridge together, cackling.

    I was only stuck for 12 minutes, could see the courthouse 1.5 blocks and a million miles away while I sat and spun…

    Ah, fun times and hijinx in the oil patch

  14. Mikel

    “Covid Panic is a Site of Inter-Elite Competition”

    He throws in how the 1918 Flu pandemic was handled like that’s something to emulate.

    I don’t look at 1918 Flu pandemic and see strength in the face of adversity. I see a world traumatized by global war on a scale that was never seen before that had also met mass propaganda in a way never seen before.

    Too many “pulled up their bootstraps” and died needlessly. FOR NOTHING. Too many died over some BS that could have waited.
    Thet were young mostly – the 1918 Flu victims – and died FOR NOTHING and PROVED NOTHING.

  15. The Rev Kev

    “Foreign Fighters Vow to Support Ukraine Against Russian Invasion”

    Yeah I know that the writer here is ex-US special forces and he lives now in the Ukraine with his wife but I think that he may be polishing the turd here a bit. Let’s just say that a lot of the volunteers that end up going to the Ukraine from the west are of a, uhhh, right wing persuasion. And a lot of them appear to not mind a guy named Adolf. In fact, a lot of these volunteers are using the Ukraine as a sort of advanced course in military training that they can take back home with them. And I am willing to bet that as time goes on, we will hear more from the guys that went there and used their military experience in their home countries-

    And we have seen this movie before. The British thought it a great idea to recruit religious extremists in the UK – even those under security close watch – and send them into battle in Libya. So one of them returned home and proceeded to blow himself up along with 22 others at an Ariana Grande Concert at the Manchester Arena back in 2017. Classic case of blow-back.

    1. notbored

      And a lot of them appear to not mind a guy named Adolf.

      You should watch the Estonian WWII movie “1944.” The protagonists, volunteers in the Waffen SS, to a man despised Hitler and joked about using his photo (given to them for bravery) for toilet paper.

      The thing is that the Soviets, under Stalin, were for good reasons* HATED by eastern Europeans.

      I watch Russian WWII movies too and even in them the Soviet Communist Party are depicted as loathsome characters.

      *such as deporting one guy’s family to Siberia.

      1. John

        Some of the many Irish in Union Forces during the Civil War (1861-1865) were using it as a training ground for the struggle against England.

        1. notbored

          Not for the SS, per se, but for the Estonians who fought on BOTH sides in WWII, often as conscripts.

          But shame on the Soviets that they’d make the Waffen SS seem preferable. Demented much?

            1. Synoia

              The National Socialist movement (Nazi) was popular among the elites in Europe and the US in the 1930s.

              One of the most famous of these was Oswald Mosley..

      2. upstater

        The collaboration with Nazism in the Baltics began well before the Soviet takeover. In Lithuania* it was so enthusiastic that thousands of Jews were rounded up and murdered by Lithuanians before the SS even came to town. Army Group north blew right through headed for Leningrad and left virtually no occupation troops behind (except for Einsatzgruppen). In 6 months 250K were exterminated.

        I am thankful as a human being that the Red Army crushed Nazism.

        Yes, the Soviet reoccupation was brutal. Innocents surely suffered. But unlike the west, virtually all collaborators were punished instead of imported to the US or South America. Or placed in high positions in the occupied Western Germany and the federal republic after.

        * speaking as a son of a Lithuanian refugee.

        1. Wukchumni

          Bloodlands by Timothy Snyder is a harrowing read of among other areas hard hit by both warring factions, the Baltic countries.

  16. The Rev Kev

    ‘Ryan Ken (they/them)
    A more accurate portrayal of the CDC in zombie movies’

    This guy is a genius comedian and that is exactly how the CDC playbook would run. ‘Bite to Work’- luvit.

  17. Tom Stone

    Having the putative “Leader” of the USA and his “Medical Experts” Fauci and Wolensky explicitly tell the 99% “Because Markets,Go Die” is extraordinary.
    Are the “Adults in the Room” all wearing “Depends” on their heads?

    1. TimH

      It’s more “Because we actually don’t care, Go Die”. Most leaders (country, state, medical authority like CDC) care about keeping their jobs (or being re-elected) first, then pleasing their financial backers second. The attitude is not much different to those happily sending their populace’s young out to be killed in an avoidable war.

      1. MonkeyBusiness

        Well, it’s almost impossible now. But if you are open to teaching English, then perhaps Taiwan? According to this forum I follow, Taiwan is constantly looking for English teachers.

        Anyway, the point of my post is that the US pretty much bullied its allies to boycotting the Winter Olympics diplomatically and now that it’s done a 360 degree turnaround, I bet you there are a lot of pissed people in Japan, Australia, etc.

      2. Jeremy Grimm

        If I had a choice I would try teaching English to Koreans. Seoul is a beautiful city and Koreans are among the most friendly to Westerners … although that friendliness is greatest among those old enough to remember the Korean War and its aftermath.

        I confess I have not seen Taiwan outside the airport, but my ex-wife was from Taiwan which colors my impressions. Nevertheless, I intuit you might find a peculiar familiarity with and fit with Korea and its people, and besides Taiwan may have a much less pleasant future. Korean women really are among the most beautiful in the world.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          My sister loves the movie! You reminded me to see if I can order a copy of the DVD for her. Thanks.

  18. Michael

    San Diego can’t stop hating on football.

    Holiday Bowl game cancelled due to Covid spike in UCLA players.

    $2.2M spent to convert Petco Park field from baseball to football.

    Now what?

    1. Wukchumni

      San Diego can’t stop hating on football.

      Holiday Bowl game cancelled due to Covid spike in UCLA players.

      $2.2M spent to convert Petco Park field from baseball to football.

      Now what?

      Entice the Chargers back by ‘giving’ them the stadium* they’d pined for, and left SD over in a messy divorce where LA got to keep the kids.

      * Call it ‘Petemkin Park’

    2. 430MLK

      Quit wasting money on kids games and decide to use it instead for real projects with real material benefits for real residents of the city?

      1. Michael

        They tried that too.
        Lease / purchase tall building for employee consol: move in, start remodeling, find asbestos, evacuate building, stop paying rent, get sued, return the favor, depose former mayor, point fingers due to no due diligence on purchase…OR

        Ballot measure to do away with 30ft coastal height limit to spur redevlopment of blighted area. Barely passes, get sued, go to court, lose due to insufficient photos and study of what new “residential towers” would look like and their impacts in EIR. Now do another EIR and possibly another ballot measure.

        Kid’s games!?!?!?

        1. Wukchumni

          It’s always seemed to me that Tijuana-adjacent has a government that is second to none, literally.

        2. 430MLK

          This deal?

          I wouldn’t define that as exemplary of real material benefits for city residents.

          And yes, kids games. I played them (basketball, baseball—proud member of the Alabama highschool 2A state champs in 1991!–and football). They are great and I love watching my daughter get into her own athletic games (swimming), but vastly overvalued at the adult professional level, which has trickled down to the kids level. I should also state that I live in SEC country–Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Louisiana, Kentucky–which undoubtedly colors my views.

          A friend of mine is a native San Diegan. He claims the city doesn’t pony up for much professional sports because there are just too many other things outside to do in what is one of the most beautiful areas of the country. From the pictures of his that I’ve seen, I believe him.

          1. Jeremy Grimm

            I was born there, in San Diego. After enjoying the beaches and beach cities there I can take little pleasure from the beaches and beach cities I have seen on the East Coast. San Diego Harbor is among the most beautiful harbors I have seen anywhere in the wide world I have traveled. Balboa park in downtown San Diego is beyond compare. The Beach Cities of Point Loma, the aptly named La Jolla, Del Mar, Leucadia, Cardiff by the Sea, Encinitas … are beautiful and beautiful places to live … if you can. But the rents were, and I assume are, a ‘little high’. Jobs are difficult to find and keep — and although the remuneration in ‘Sunshine’ is excellent — the pay that pays rent and buys groceries was and I believe still is meager. The California State public school system … under Governor Brown [Brown Senior] was first rate — first in the nation at that time, as I recall. Besides all this, imagine if the weather report for every day projected for weather always either “Sunny and Bright” or brown and scorched with Santa Ana winds to thaw a morning freeze. My family lived in an “Inland Empire” area, as most people in San Diego do. The nice weather in San Diego is reserved for those who can afford it.

            Sports teams? After the Chargers and the Padres I would be surprised if any interest in professional sports remained in San Diego. The Padres are not the Cubs and they do not have the fans of the old Mets.

  19. JohnMc

    notwithstanding my belief that this site has sadly devolved into an echo chamber of covid hysteria, i’ll give you credit for linking to the freddie deboer article. i hope his ideas give some here a bit of pause for thought.

    1. Jason Boxman

      And yet the breakdowns in public health institutions in the US, such as at the CDC, are very real and worthy of discussion, regardless of whether you think COVID is “just a cold” or whatever you mean by “hysteria”.

      This gets at foundational questions about public institutions and who leadership at these institutions serve: the public as a whole or other interests. And for that matter, whether leaders of these institutions, and advisors, can or should set public policy rather than our elected officials.

    2. John Steinbach

      NC is the least COVID hysterical site I’m aware of. Most others fall in to two hysterias: 1. COVID is a hoax or a nothing burger (Suspect JMc may be in this group) or 2. The vax, vax, vax / let the deplorables die set (Just spent Xmas with the latter set). To the contrary, NC is focused on the science and the inept governmental response.

      1. Mantid

        And, Jerri-Lynn, Lamber, Yves et al do a good job of keeping terms like “libtards” “Fox hounds” “towel heads” “Jew this or that” out of the comments thread. Try reading the comments of NYT, Breitbart, Common Dreams …… now that’s where the “full of it is”. A decent discussion is worth a thousand comments, regardless of the subject.

    3. cnchal

      . . . For you normal people out there? Get vaccinated. Get boosted. Be smart. Then live your life. Defy the virus. Defy it.

      Be smart, eh? Defy the virus, eh? What do you get when smart people defy the virus?

      Paramedics in Ottawa Ontario held a party at a restaurant with 130 smart asses present and now 53 have covid and dozens moar are impacted due to those infected paramedics handling patients.

      Another thing Freddie gets wrong. Respecting the virus does not mean fear the virus.

  20. haywood

    “Claims of vaccine hesitancy in African countries are at odds with the reality on the ground”

    How many people with BLM yard signs are spouting off warmed-over colonialist rhetoric about Africans being too superstitious to take lifesaving medicine as a rationale for hoarding boosters that America will never use when polls show Africans, who are begging for their FIRST life saving shot, actually support vaccination at a higher rate than Americans.

    I know this is an elite media-driven issue position but it’s crazy how many decent liberals I know are totally oblivious to how racist this stuff sounds, to say nothing about how incorrect it is.

  21. 430MLK

    “Everyone who works at a public university in the U.S. knows that the struggle is real. #DontLookUp” — David Ho (@_david_ho_) December 27, 2021

    I laughed at this part of the movie _Don’t Look Up_, and it’s right on, but try being a community college teacher or adjunct at any level (save Ivey)…or hey, just uncredentialled. In my experience w/ State U profs, most are hired from far-way Iveys or state-Iveys, and a sizeable majority are always looking to trade up and out. It’s the same system, just played out on a smaller scale. One notes this lower-level elitism at state U’s when looking at local politics and projects, as opposed to the national discourse in which Iveys dominate. Most of my city’s massive giveaway projects to legacy industries and people–or the adjudication of current issues like the fallout to BLM protests–are certified by state U profs, who are locally and regionally bonified…but who are also mostly clueless about where they live.

    Here, I should stipulate that not _all_ State U profs are like this, mainly just the ones who lower their standards enough (or find their ‘niche’) to engage local and regional politics/projects. Most could care less about the state of their local environs, as they can afford to jet out for conferences and other travel when they like.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Back in the day, I worked on the University of Arizona campus. Many of my coworkers had to answer to a vice president for, oh, I think they now call it institutional advancement. In other words, the fundraising operation.

      Any-hoo, this guy was fond of telling people that he went to HARVARD.

      And we peons were supposed to be impressed.

      Well, more than a few peons were good at imitating this guy. Especially the “I went to HARVARD!” part.

  22. AdamK

    Delta flight. We have reached an era that customer satisfaction is no longer even a pretense, the only thing that matters is profitability. Delta didn’t even consider to bring the passengers to Shanghai and stay and clean the plane which would solve their uncertain status, cause it would lose money. We came back from Israel few days ago. We bought our seats month in advance and payed with money for premier seats. On our way there we had our seats, two days before our departure back to the States we saw a different layout of the plane on the website and we were moved to economy. When we called United they claimed that it is a different plane and there nothing they can do but refund the difference. A day before our flight the layout has changed to the original but we were still in economy, we were offered to be on waiting list for an upgrade. So… the trick was that the Israeli government was to declare the US a red state and not allow Israeli citizens to fly to the US which increased the demand to board the flight, meaning seats could be sold for much more, so they did by bumping passengers who payed for seats in full. Can they do this? Apparently yes.

    1. TimH

      I’m curious what would have happened if you hadn’t have called UA the first time, in terms of legal rights, because in the first call you accepted the downgrade. I know, the other choice at the time was not to fly, but if you hadn’t noticed the plane flip (and flip back), when you went to check in what would you have seen…

  23. flora

    our famously free press

    How a Company Called BlackRock Shapes Your News, Your Life, Our Future

    “Who controls the corporations who control our news? A helpful index was just compiled—not by mainstream media, but by Harvard researchers exploring media’s future. Skimming the list, I see two names again and again: BlackRock Fund Advisors and Vanguard Group.”

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      That does indeed look like a wonderful link to follow! Thanks.

      My daughter called today and one of the things we discussed were her feelings that her relationship with her present boyfriend of six-months was growing “boring”. I will be picking through the essays on this site discussing aspects of Love, Marriage and Divorce. I had a less than happy marriage, followed by divorce. I want more for my daughter and sometimes fear my failures and hardships in relationships will poison my daughter’s chances for a long and happy marriage. After a quick scan of this website I added the movie “Late Marriage” to my queue and copied the essay that discussed it. Thanks again!

  24. Amfortas the hippie

    1. i watched Dont Look up yesterday, and…as a lifelong Cassandra…found it sort of cathartic.

    2. basketball schedule and coachtime: my youngest(soph on varsity) told me all last week that this week, he had monday and tuesday tounament, then was free to help me with a small list of tasks that i can’t do on my own.
    then, gets home from tourney late last night, and the coach has arbitrarily decreed that he’ll have practice all week, effectively ruining the pre-noon worktime.
    then, at 7:15 this morning, coach again arbitrarily decrees no practice today, after all.(i suspect the flags will be at half-staff, today, and that this last reversal has to do with the passing of St Madden)
    i threw a fit last night, and again this morning…because this sort of randomness is quite common…but its the guilt and religiosity of it all is what really gets my knickers in a bunch: i have no standing, as it were, to criticise the coach class for not being able to keep to a plan…because they would guilt my son, who would then guilt me…because it is as holy writ that sports comes before everything.
    since i am not a catechist of the ballchasing faith, i find that i am anathema,lol…and my criticism of even such minor failings are decidedly unwelcome….if they can be understood, at all.(BIL gave me a Houston Texans’ shirt for xmas…because i gre wup there)
    it doesn’t help that these sorts of things serve to remind me that my almost lifelong pariahhood and outsider status effectively began in junior high PE, due to my ignorance and lack of a care at all regarding all this chasing of balls(or lozenges, as it were), and shock and loathing of the hypermasculine assholery promoted in those spaces, and…being the guy with the book under a tree…the bullying that ensued.
    i really hate this time of year,lol.

    1. Mantid

      Here in the Pac NW, we’re having a decent Christmas vacation. Lots of snow which has forced a slow down in life. Luckily, I don’t have to work in it and am not sleeping under a bridge – many people are.

  25. Daryl

    Checking in from TX, where I’ve noticed that businesses and events are closing down. For reference, we only had one real lockdown here at all. I take this as a sign that things are getting pretty dire and staffing shortages are making it intractable to stay open.

      1. Wukchumni

        I first went to Tucson in the later 70’s for a coin show that had a large square dance get together in another part of the convention center or wherever it was.

        Numismatists & Square Dancers, now that was an odd pairing!

        It was so different then, Phoenix had hardly been cemented over…

      2. 430MLK

        I think I might follow your lead: ring in the new year’s with homemade margherita pizzas for the whole fam!

    1. flora

      The opening two paras of the above article:

      Most Western people had previously considered the WHO to be a benign, do-good group of people in Geneva dealing with the problems of ‘others’, somewhere where they are presumably needed. We had democracies that looked after ‘us’, governments chosen and held accountable by us, and we never needed the WHO. But it was comforting to know the WHO was there, for others.

      The past two years should have changed that perception. The WHO is a primary architect of the unprecedented abrogation of basic societal rights and freedoms that we assumed were inviolable: to meet, greet, learn, work, and travel. It has also cheer-led an unprecedented redistribution of wealth from all of us, including the poorest that we had assumed the WHO was protecting, to the most wealthy, including its major private sponsors.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      The pandata website is very slick. I did not spot any mention of how they are funded. They did have a donations button … but something about the website tickles my suspicions about its origins and its true core motivations. I smell a darker agenda than that reflected off the surface. [Sorry if I seem paranoid … I am.]

      1. Kevin Carhart

        The “tell” you thought you were picking up on was correct. Heavy ties to the Great Barrington Declaration.

        “About page”, “… PANDA’s Protocol for Reopening Society builds upon the widely supported Great Barrington Declaration …”

        “PANDA members”… none of the names leap out but for one Marta Gameiro, “Marta also translated “The Great Barrington Declaration” into Portugese …”

        “What We Read/Watch”: … WSJ op-ed by Jeremy Devine titled “Long Covid is largely an invention of vocal patient activist groups. Legitimizing it with generous funding risks worsening the symptoms the NIH is hoping to treat.”… multiple pieces by AEIR (the GBD think tank) … Martin Kulldorf writes in the Hill …. etc.


        1. Basil Pesto

          WSJ op-ed by Jeremy Devine titled “Long Covid is largely an invention of vocal patient activist groups. Legitimizing it with generous funding risks worsening the symptoms the NIH is hoping to treat.”


          Hard to believe some people fell for it when these same people cried ‘mental health!!’, as if they ever gave a damn.

            1. Basil Pesto

              was obvious from the minute that ‘long covid’ became apparent in the literature that certain unprincipled charlatans would cry “malingerer”

              But that they’re trying it with something that’s so obviously observable and thoroughly documented (yet still not wholly understood!) takes a special kind of audacity

      2. SES

        From the PANDA “About” page:

        “PANDA’s Protocol for Reopening Society builds upon the widely supported Great Barrington Declaration and pre-Covid pandemic guidelines to provide a roadmap out of the damaging cycle of lockdowns and other coercive policies.”

        Great Barrington Declaration, eh?

  26. Soredemos

    >Bennett: Israel Faces Unprecedented Omicron COVID Wave, ‘We Can’t Prevent It’

    “Israel’s prime minister also decides that vaccinated people who are exposed to COVID carriers must isolate until they obtain a negative test, and will be forbidden from meeting vulnerable people for 10 days.”

    Even Israel won’t admit the vaccinated can be carriers?

    The Haass tweet and its responses are also atrocious. The Liberal ‘intelligentsia’ are now in the process of moving the goal posts: “okay, yeah, breakthrough cases keep happening, but vaccines mostly prevent severe illness, so the unvaxxed are still subhuman scum”. And as ever, long-covid goes unmentioned.

  27. Wukchumni

    ‘Days Of Our Lies’ (a soap opera)

    It is one of the longest-running scripted programs, set in a fictional capacity named deceit, er the CDC.

    Gussied up to look like one of them there tv cop dramas where they have a rather unlimited budget to get the bad guise in 47 minutes flat, Anthony will whiz around wearing a lab coat that looks an awful lot like the scoring official @ an Aussie rules football game would have on, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    Birx shows up as a guest star in one episode to reassure the public to remain calm, all is well.

    1. ambrit

      I read on a ‘fan site’ that Harvey Keitel will be a recurring villain named ‘Don T,’ the head of a business mafia ‘consultancy.’ He will be surrounded by a rotating stable of Bad Lieutenants.

      1. Wukchumni

        As long as we can get Keitel & Katie Couric in their recurring cameo, I see Katie in a breakaway performance from merely being a newsreader with a pretty face that the proles believe largely out of familiarity, to portraying a villianess against the virus, with a perky smile.

  28. Glen

    A very slight acknowledgement of the positive contributions to society by the DoD –

    So I do harsh on the DoD because they receive trillions of dollars, but I have to acknowledge that in the past, they did fund some good stuff:

    Capitalism Didn’t Make the iPhone, You iMbecile
    (This video is NSFW due to a tiny bit of swearing at the end.)

    This video is a good short synopsis of how DARPA and Federal funding was behind much of the technology we now take for granted, but it also touches on how the whole creation of Silicon Valley was due to Federal and government research, DoD development of silicon technology required for rockets (ICBMs, spy satellites), and free or very, very inexpensive and excellent colleges and universities.

    1. ChrisRUEcon

      One of my faves! Great for those family gatherings when your “capitalism is great!” relative starts screeching about “socialists with iPhones”!

  29. Alex

    Thanks for the meritocracy article. If this is not one-off result and we see it replicated it raises all kind of questions on which mechanisms can replace or complement the meritocratic ones.

  30. Steven A

    Re: Walking the World: Bucharest.

    Thanks for this essay. As an employee Department of the Air Force i visited Romania in 1996 as part of a team to evaluate the Romanian Air Force’s for its suitability to be integrated into NATO. Upon arrival two young air force officers were assigned as our guides, though they may have also been directed to be handlers. But we developed a very cordial relationship and they took us to places outside of our official itinerary.

    One of those places was the Palace of the Parliament, which Chris Arnade features in his essay. Take my word, it is even more hideous seen up close than it is in pictures. At that time it was called the Palace of the Republic, before that the Palace of the People. Upon completion it was the largest building in Europe. Our guides, who by no means missed Ceausescu and his regime, explained that about 10,000 residents were displaced to make room for the edifice and its construction took up an entire year’s crystal production.

    The façade faces east, toward a boulevard with apartment buildings that were originally meant to house apparatchiks and others who would be employed in the Palace. The two officer guides told us that Ceausescu intended to have his office on the top floor looking over that boulevard so he could watch the workers coming to work each morning.

    The contrast Arnade makes between the Palace and the neighborhoods of Bucharest are spot on. One of our guides took us to his home, which was in a building that could have been one of the shabby concrete blocks shown in the photos. He live in a cramped space with his wife, a concert pianist, and small daughter. We had to take the elevator in shifts, it was only big enough for two passengers at a time. Our host mentioned we were lucky it was working that day.

    The photos capture beautifully the contrast of the megalomania and gigantomania of the Palace with the substandard Stalinist projects that passed for housing. Nonetheless, Bucharest did have a certain charm. It seemed to me to be more Mediterranean than East European. The parks, though somewhat neglected, were attractive and safe meeting places. We did not see much opulence but our guides did take us to some very good restaurants and took us out for some upscale shopping. And traffic was dense and as lawless as Arnade mentions.

  31. chuck roast

    “Without Tutu and Mandela, Is South African Moral Exceptionalism Dead?”

    Much ado about Tutu’s consistent stand against Botha apartheid and ANC racialist corruption. Similarly, today’s pink paper had a nice obit for Tutu. A towering figure indeed. Both FP and FT suffered extreme brain cramps when it came to discussing Tutu’s long standing condemnation of Zionist apartheid. Peeps.
    Zionism…right up there with the parasite killer that must not be named.

  32. chuck roast

    “CDC Data Shows Two-Thirds of Cruise Ships Are Reporting COVID Cases”

    Anyone in a port community not associated with the sale of t-shirts, cones of ice cream and useless tchotchkes will happily tell you that cruise ship passengers are the scum of the earth. This proposition is clearly demonstrated when tens of thousands of these morons are prepared to voluntarily, voluntarily I say, board the Diamond Princess and its ilk. The CDC can be forgiven entirely, entirely I say, if it statutorily requires that any US based cruise ship with so much as one passenger or crew contacting Covid must drop anchor in the nearest port and wait until Covid burns itself out aboard the vessel before docking in the US. There is a clear Darwinian advantage to the non-moronic population. The chances of striking up a conversation with an idiot is diminished substantially not to mention chances of catching the cooties. This could be a real win-win for shoreside communities all over the US of A.

  33. malchats

    Regarding pharmacies not having enough staff to fill prescriptions:

    One cause of that may be due to problems getting insurance companies to OK refills for a three-month period instead of a one-month script. That’s been happening to me ever since I moved here to Oregon and wound up with Moda for my policy. I used to always get a 90-day supply on my meds from Kaiser in CA, but now I have to keep going back to the pharmacy every month to get my refills. If everyone else around here is in the same boat, that means a lot more people walking into the pharmacy looking to get scripts filled. It’s a lot less efficient for the pharmacy staff to be always filling 30-day supplies. No wonder it’s taking so long to get refills.

    And why can’t I get a 90-day supply instead of just a month? Dunno. It’s never been explained to me in any meaningful way, other than my (cheap marketplace) plan just wants it that way. Grrrrrr.

    1. LilD

      3 times the number of copays

      Brother in law is a pharmacist in Florida
      Just got COVID, not a mild case.
      At his location, all of the pharmacists are out. All.

      Not sure what they are doing except send everyone to Tampa…

    1. ChrisRUEcon


      “How about just… writing it off? Not “creative” enough?”

      LOL … must. not. provide. tangible. material. benefits. to. those. in. need.

      Just gonna tell ’em to “vote” again next year …


  34. Robin Kash

    “Since both the vaccinated and the unvaccinated transmit, banning the unvaccinated does not achieve “the right to be safe,” by definition. Of course, such a ban does achieve the right to be safe from social inferiors. Perhaps that is what Haas wants.”
    Mr. Strether, I wonder if this is an altogether too harsh and exaggerated hot take. While it is true that vaccinated or not, anyone–no matter their social/economic status–may contract COVID. Still, aren’t those who are vaccinated and take other recommended precautions less likely to catch and communicate the virus? What am I missing?
    I hope you or some other sage will offer a solution to how best to bring the pandemic to a manageable state, if not an end, when those who are filling our hospitals are mainly those who steadfastly refuse vaccination, refuse to embrace other recommended precautions, and may be repository of continuing mutations.
    Those who refuse vaccination are certainly to be distinguished from those who cannot be vaccinated, a circumstance owing primarily to the behavior of wealthy nations infectedcas they are by the present variant of cannibalistic capitalism.
    I hope you will rethink your comment regarding Mr. Haas.

    1. Yves Smith

      You seem to be taking somer things as fact that are not and therefore reasoning from false premises.

      First, the vaccines do little to nothing to reduce transmission of recent Covid variants. They were designed for the wild type virus and did blunt its spread to a decent degree. But Delta has vastly more brute replication force and Omicron significantly evades the vaccines and antibodies from prior infections.

      Second, you assume that the vaccinated are also observing other Covid precautions. That is demonstrably false. Just look at Democratic party and Hollywood social events. The guests are unmasked. The servers are masked, as if they have cooties.

      Under Delta, there was zero correlation between vaccination levels and Covid case levels.

      Third, you assume a force of nature can be managed. The virus is in charge. The only way out is elimination, which China is pursuing, or PERHAPS a nasal vaccine, which would be way way closer to sterilizing than what we have now and could reduce spread. Coronaviruses confer such short lived immunity that you can’t vaccinate your way out of them.

      For past pervasive diseases, like smallpox, humans had to accommodate themselves to the disease. Before a vaccine was developed, smallpox had become less deadly over time, not due to the virus getting weaker but to humans less susceptible to it surviving and breeding.

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