Links 1/18/2022

He spends his days counting monarch butterflies in L.A. He could use your help Los Angeles Times

A Couple Dressed as Bees Use Spice Shakers to Spread Native Wildflower Seeds Across San Francisco Laughing Squid

John C Williams: Reading the recovery Bank of International Settlements


How to Prepare for Climate Change’s Most Immediate Impacts Wired

What if Democracy and Climate Mitigation Are Incompatible? Foreign Policy


Walensky faces CDC burnout as pandemic enters third year Politico

Parachute use to prevent death and major trauma related to gravitational challenge: systematic review of randomised controlled trial British Medical Journal. From 2016, still germane. Commentary:

Honesty and humility will help combat COVID pseudo-science EuroNews

* * *

Coronavirus digest: Fourth booster ‘not enough’ to fight omicron, study shows Deutsche Welle. Israel (hence Pfizer).

What Will it Take to Vaccinate the World? Bloomberg

* * *

Time to upgrade from cloth and surgical masks to respirators? Your questions answered The Conversation

Past local government health spending was not correlated with COVID-19 control in US counties SSM Population Health. “County level non-hospital health spending before pandemic not associated with early control over COVID-19. State level public health spending on hazard preparation and response is associated with early control over COVID-19 in some model specifications. Results offer no support for pouring funds into public health system to prepare for future outbreaks.” “Pouring money.” Rarely does one spot an agenda-driven straw man right in the Abstract. Perhaps — hear me out — what they spent the money on affected outcomes? To take a contrived example, a county that spent a fortune on Plexiglass shields would do far worse than a county that spent a little on Corsi boxes and opened its windows for free.

Screening for SARS-CoV-2 persistence in Long COVID patients using sniffer dogs and scents from axillary sweats samples (preprint) medRxiv. From the Results: “Forty-five Long COVID patients, mean age 45 (6-71), 73.3% female, with prolonged symptoms evolving for a mean of 15.2 months (5-22) were tested. Dogs discriminated in a positive way 23/45 (51.1%). Long COVID patients versus 0/188 (0%) control individuals (p<.0001)." So, no false positives, not all negatives. Yet another testing avenue we are not exploring, because the United States is not a serious country.

Poorest countries face $11bn surge in debt repayments FT


China to Curb Purchases of U.S. Farm Goods, Fitch Solutions Says Bloomberg

Inside story of Hu Huaibang’s sack: Wang Sanyun acted as a broker and illegally gave US$4.8 billion in loans to the ‘Huaxin Department’ What China Reads. US$4.8 billion. That’s real money.

Indonesia releases 48 coal vessels for exports -trade ministry official Channel News Asia


Pay Your Power Bill, Myanmar Soldiers Say, or Pay With Your Life NYT. But you can’t force people to shop:

How rebel fighters are using 3D-printed arms to fight the Myanmar junta France24. Hard to believe the thermoplastic or powdered metal needed is readily available in Myanmar, so I think this is for Western consumption. Interesting detail, though.

Is Myanmar’s Min Aung Hlaing losing his grip? Asia Times. Facts on the ground will tell. Meanwhile, that Min Aung Hlaing is heavily into fortune tellers and astrology proves nothing either way; so were his predecessors (and our own leaders believe in, oh, the loanable funds theory, just as cray cray).

Tarnished Gold: Illegal mining stokes Indigenous divisions AP

Canada ends contract with Malaysia’s Supermax over labour allegations Channel News Asia. Supermax manufactures gloves.


India mourns loss of ‘Supermom’ tigress, bids emotional farewell Al Jazeera

BJP furious over kids satire show that ‘mocked PM’, demands Zee Tamil remove it The News Minute. My sense is that the BJP often gets furious.

Financial Markets under capitalism MR Online. “State ownership of banks is conducive not just for a wider reach of institutional credit, but for the stability of the financial system of capitalism itself.” Hmm.

Employers may find it hard to look after well-being, safety of maids if they live out: MOM Straits Times. MOM = Ministry of Manpower.

Pacific Neighbors Rally Around Tonga After Volcanic Eruption Bloomberg

The Koreas

American elites like to think they are cosmopolitan. They are not:

We don’t have shamans here; Nancy Reagan’s astrologer was just a blip. We do, however, have Larry Summers. So there’s that.


As Boris Johnson launches Operation Red Meat in a desperate attempt to turn the tide of war… RICHARD LITTLEJOHN takes peek inside in the Prime Minister’s Whitehall bunker Daily Mail

French parliament approves law that will exclude unvaccinated people from all restaurants, sports areas, tourist sites and even trains: Macron faces criticism rule is overkill with 91 per cent of the population already jabbed against Covid Daily Mail

New Cold War

Bipartisan group of senators meet with Ukraine President Zelenskyy as Russian troops amass on border ABC

A boy from Belarus Yasha Levine. Such a massive excerpt it might as well be a post!

Biden Administration

How’s he doing? Americans weigh in on Biden’s performance AP

Why Has Biden’s Approval Rating Crashed? Peter Daou, Direct Left

Supply Chain

3D printing and ‘reshoring’ offer limited protection to supply chains FT

Shipping efficiency targets could prompt slower speeds and reduced capacity: market sources Hellenic Shipping News

America’s Most Automated Port Had Its ‘Most Productive Year’ in 2021 National Review

Our Famously Free Press

Chevron Is Hiring Journalists for Its ‘Newsroom’ Gizmodo


Punishment by Process: The torture of Julian Assange (PDF) SOAS ICOP Policy Briefings

Big Brother Is Watching You

What a Radicalized Chiropractor Got Away With on Facebook Slate. Interesting, but not for the ostensible topic. Check out the “user journey maps.” They look remarkably like the intelligence dossiers compiled by, say, the Stasi.

Health Care

Ginnie Graham: Medical debt nonprofit ends campaign after inability to access more overdue bills Tulsa World. Hospitals would rather lay off the debts to legbreakers collection agencies.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Why is it even like this?” The Reformed Broker

Imperial Collapse Watch

Knowing When To Stop The American Conservative

Class Warfare

Costs of Masks, Tests Deepen Pandemic Wedge Between Haves and Have-Nots NECN. I can’t imagine why both aren’t free.

The Whole Ruling Class Has to Go Tribune

Private equity’s strange effect on workplace inequality FT. For some definition of “inequality.”

Even NASA Seems Surprised by Its New Space Telescope The Atlantic

Born in Light London Review of Books. The James Webb Telescope.

Antidote du jour (via):

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. Samuel Conner

    > We don’t have shamans here; Nancy Reagan’s astrologer was just a blip. We do, however, have Larry Summers. So there’s that.

    Thank you, Lambert. NC links commentary is always stimulating; even more so than the obligatory ‘wakeup’ coffee. An essential part of the ‘wake up out of the bad dreams into the bad reality’ daily routine.

    1. Stillfeelinthebern

      We love the comments/summaries to the links. This one kept us laughing all day.

      Why cat-like creatures vanished from North America for 6 million years New Scientist (PD). They heard a can-opener from some other continent

      Thank you!

    2. Michael Ismoe

      I’m not so sure that’s accurate. I remember a shaman who came into the Democratic nomination process in 2020 and made 4 presidential candidates disappear overnight.

      1. Samuel Conner

        Ah yes, the one who also had said, some time previously, “Joe, you don’t have to do this.”

        After watching the (momentarily) pitiable creature put his head down under the weight of press curiosity (the 13 Jan speech), one might be justified in speculating that he’s wondering why he didn’t take the advice.

    3. JacobiteInTraining

      I have an ex-GF who is Korean, well…became US Citizen a few years ago, and have talked to her and 4 or 5 of her friends (mid-late-40’s, if its somewhat a generational thing) about shamans before.

      While I watched various Korean shows and movies I would notice the appearance and use of shamans as characters and plot devices frequently, and at some points have had big soju-fueled convos about ’em: do they believe?, had they visited one? etc.

      All of them had good things to say about them, my ex-GF included. One was neutral, probably not wanting to offend her friends. The positivity vibes I got were sort of like the feeling of USians talking about repair people or house remodeling contractors — “…Oh yeah, the electricians there do good work, my Mom used them, thumbs up…” although the most specific ‘item’ i got from personal use (that i recall, anyway, lots of soju) was a charm/talisman thingy my GF got for marriage.

      I think they were mostly Christians, Catholic in this case, which didn’t seem to color their reactions to shamanism AT ALL — one was nominally a Buddhist, one was….atheist maybe? But she was the one who had the most colorful stories of shamans, though her attitude was basically shamanism as a cultural thing she liked and supported for the same reasons one might support traditional architecture, clothing, etc.

      So anyway, my anecdotal evidence and research (heehee) has showed shamanism to be quite popular in the ‘expat San Francisco Korean females, 40-49’ demographic. I didn’t hear any good ‘shamanism working for real!’ stories, for example – my ex-GF got the talisman for marriage and me and her are most definitely NOT married so, clearly it doesn’t work too well.

      hey….wait a sec…..

      1. amechania

        “The 2016 South Korean political scandal involves the influence of Choi Soon-sil, the daughter of shaman-esque cult leader Choi Tae-min, over President Park Geun-hye of South Korea.”

        “Noting the popularity of soothsayers among the general populace and an absence of any publication that carried their predictions, he struck on the idea of printing an almanac of predictions for 1955 from well-known astrologers and noted fortunetellers. His team sought out and paid leading Vietnamese astrologers to make predictions about coming disasters that would transpire coincident with the Viet Minh takeover of northern Vietnam.”

      2. Wukchumni

        One thing about Koreans is they were hunter gatherers not all that long ago in the scheme of things, so you could see how shamans are still a thing, despite SK being one of the most modern of technological countries in the world now.

    4. Craig H.

      You left out the Satanic death cult ritual cannibalism and child sacrifice. They cut most of it out of Eyes Wide Shut too so your reticence is smart.

      millionaires don’t need astrologer but billionaires do

      purportedly J. P. Morgan

      How many billionaires were documented to exist on J. P. Morgan’s last day? I am thinking J. P. Morgan never said that and some astrology sales person made that up.

      Forbes from February 2010:

      Can the planets affect your portfolio?

    5. MonkeyBusiness

      Shamans? Probably not, for everything else there’s I have a friend working there and I’ve been told that revenue and profit growth have been gangbuster.

      Also speaking about Western people and “shamanism” in Asia, I’ve been told by Hong Kong friends that long time Westerners (especially rich ones) in Hong Kong are totally into feng shui.

  2. The Rev Kev

    “Even NASA Seems Surprised by Its New Space Telescope”

    Looking at the page for the progress of the Webb telescope, I see that it is only five days away from insertion into L2. Brilliant, precision engineering being pushed to the max and science being bold. You won’t see a Musk or a Bezos even touching anything like this. For all the credit that they are receiving, they are mostly redoing feats from decades ago, giving carnival rides to rich people or doing their part to bring on a Kessler syndrome. NASA here showing that they can still have the right stuff-

    1. Zamfir

      Perhaps overly cynical, but should we really celebrate NASA’s very slick PR effort? I might be in the target audience, but I am amazed how much coordinated Webb news I got over the last months. Countdowns to launch, scientists baking cute Webb cakes, tense stories how it all could go wrong (keep watching this space!), animations with all the technical accomplishments.

      The Webb is a textbook example of project mismanagement. People had no idea what they were starting, and every time they should have re-evaluated, they had already spent too much money to stop. They basically fixed this by turning on the cost-plus money spigot to Northrop Grumman, JSF-style. It’s now so eye-watering expensive, they have to sell it as the greatest thing since sliced bread.

      Astronomers put on the happy face now – they’ll never get another space telescope if they can’t sell this one. But for the last 20 years, the Webb was the “telescope that ate astronomy” – every other ambitious project got sacrificed to feed the beast.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        To be fair, it is pretty hard to get everything right the first time and this type of engineering is expensive – they weren’t going to construct a space telescope out of tinkertoys and some old napkins.

        For $10 billion we get a space telescope that will presumably work. How many years and billions overbudget is the F-35 right now?

        It’s not the NASA engineers fault that Congress is a bunch of idiots who will rubberstamp trillions to blow up brown people rather than funding science.

        Unless of course it’s funding research for the likes of Pfizer so they can make billions later off those who ostensibly funded the research (yes, I realize that taxes don’t fund govt. expenditures, but I’m trying to make a point!).

      2. Soredemos

        At $10 billion, the telescope is absolute chump change compared to what the Pentagon burns annually. I can totally live with this level of cost overrun

    2. Mikel

      “You won’t see a Musk or a Bezos even touching anything like this. For all the credit that they are receiving, they are mostly redoing feats from decades ago, giving carnival rides to rich people or doing their part to bring on a Kessler syndrome…”

      You mean they are not taking them to look at the “brontarocs” on a distant planet?
      Darn it….

  3. Nikkicat

    Really nice antidote today. Photo reminded me of last year when I sold my house. The buyers had an eight year old boy. When they did their final walk through, the little boy was quite taken with my extremely friendly Maine coon cat. I asked him when he came back from his tour if he was excited about having his own swimming pool. His reply “ I really only want a cat”. Great kid.

    1. Mildred Montana

      I second that. It reminded me of all the cats and kids in my past life. I got a strong sense of nostalgia, heightened by the black-and-white which has a moodiness that color couldn’t have matched

      The off-kilter framing making the cat appear lower and the little kid higher is a nice touch too. A beautiful, beautiful photo.

      1. Samuel Conner

        Agreed that this is a wonderful photo.

        I wonder if there is some image manipulation for effect, too. It looks to me like both cat and child are ‘leaning’ to the right (their left; comparing the angle of the lower limbs with the apparent plane on which the feet are set; the slant looks to my eye between 5 and 10 degrees). It’s as if each image line was, before the framing rotation, shifted slightly to the right with respect to the line below it. That might combine with the rotated framing to make the presentation appear more upright than it otherwise would.

        1. Carla

          On my screen at least, NC antidotes and plantidotes are often (not always) strangely elongated. Today’s antidote is an example of that — great photo even so!

          1. Samuel Conner

            Good point! I downloaded the photo and the effect is much smaller, perhaps an actual physical lean rather than image manipulation. Definitely the strong effect I see on the ‘as displayed in browser’ image is mostly (perhaps entirely) due to aspect ratio change.

        2. ChiGal

          Putting a spring in their steps that reinforces the intense connection in the eye contact. Lovely, so full of energy!

          1. jonboinAR

            It’s the way people (and cats) used to be! Note: I think it’s mostly the black and white that gives me that good nostalgic feeling, but it’s also the unadulterated sweetness of the photo, none of the underlying or implied strife we tend to find in so much nowadays.

    2. Lee

      I am reminded by that photo of the bond between my son when he was about that age and his first cat. Their mutual affection and trust was such that the cat was happy to be draped like a jet black stole around my boy’s neck for extended periods of time as he walked about.

  4. griffen

    Article discussing Facebook and tracking. Wowsers. Granted, one would need an entire team of cubicle farm analysts poring over the far-flung and nonsensical posts made available on the platform.

    I don’t know what’s worse. Maybe, that it is not too shocking after all ? I am Jack’s complete lack of surprise, quoting Fight Club.

  5. ArkansasAngie

    A sentence from the article What if Democracy … above

    ” … new ways of closing the gap between politics and science, by any means necessary.”

    This scares the crap out of me. When your ends are used to justify your means, Nothing good happens.

    1. Hickory

      Usually when people say that ends shouldn’t justify the means, it’s because they ignore a lot of the ends. If all the ends / consequences were taken into account, then the ends could justify the means just fine.

        1. John Zelnicker

          ambrit – You win the internet joke of the day!

          Hope you and Phyl are staying safe and healthy. Best wishes for a healthy and prosperous year.

          1. ambrit

            Hanging in here, bundled up against the snowless blizzard.
            Happy tax business. Will the PPP loan fairy bring you lots of work this spring?
            Stay safe!

            1. Bart Hansen

              The Treasury should handle taxes for those loans and checks. Michael Hudson was saying that since they all go to pay off credit card and mortgage debt the money is going by design to the banks anyway.

              Let the Treasury work with the banks.

              1. John Zelnicker

                The PPP loans were intended for payroll to keep on employees who otherwise might not be affordable with reduced revenue.

                If the recipient can adequately document that that’s what it paid for, the loan is forgiven and there are no tax consequences. Otherwise, it becomes a loan of, IIRC, a five year term.

                Treasury pays the banks for the forgiven loans.

                I’d love to see Michael Hudson’s evidence. While money is fungible and funds used to pay workers releases funds to pay debt, to that extent he may be right. But, all of it?

    2. Grumpy Engineer

      Agreed. I really tire of these articles based on the theme that “democracy is failing us”. If not democracy, then what alternative? Authoritarianism? That only works if the authoritarians in charge are both benevolent and competent. Take away either characteristic, and the human suffering can be immense. Malevolent and/or incompetent leaders can still arise in democracies, but the ability to boot them from office limits the damage.

      I suppose another alternative to democracy might be anarchy, but I really can’t envision how that would be an improvement.

      1. John

        What democracy is failing us? What democracy is incompatible with climate mitigation? I tire of the use of the word democracy to describe plutocracy or corporate oligarchy.

      2. Mildred Montana

        “…if the authoritarians in charge are both benevolent and competent.”

        In a large, modern society who is to enforce the authoritarian’s “benevolence”? He clearly can’t micromanage a population of hundreds of thousands or millions and therefore must hire enforcers. And right there the ideal of the benevolent dictator falls apart. With the necessary enforcers come incompetence, abuses of power, preferential treatment of citizens, etc. Resentment of them grows in the populace and, in the end, the dictator himself is resented if not hated.

        Jacques Barzun once wrote that, paradoxically, a eutopia (his word) required more enforcement than a free society and was doomed to failure.

        So much for the eutopian benevolent dictatorship. For better or worse, I think we’re stuck with democracy. Just ask Churchill.

        1. KD

          You have decent autocrats: Friedrich the Great, Lee Kuan Yew. You have crap democracies and crappy leaders (the last four American Presidents for example). So-called “democracies” or Republics often decay into oligarchies, which I think the U.S. has done. I’m not sure that malevolent oligarchies hiding in democratic clothing are any less subject to incompetence, abuse of power, or preferential treatment of citizens.

          Further, I think most “explicit” theories of power are designed to mask who really wields power. As Michael Hudson states, the U.S. has its Central Planning Committee in Wall Street, but the role and action of the Central Planning Committee is unofficial, and they are not subject to FOIA or anything else, which is how they like it. The nominal power structure (and the name that gets applied) is less important than the actual power structure, which is usually hidden. Most systems are more or less authoritarian because someone or a small group of someones need to make the decision, and the rest is a decorative facade to hide this fact.

          1. KD

            Its hard to imagine the function of an institution like Davos except to for all the Titans to meet and decide and get on the same page, and make sure their minions make it so through various international channels of influence. I cannot imagine anything less democratic than that, but that influence is felt all over the “free world”.

            You can look at a figure like Cecil Rhodes in the historical record and the relationship between “democracy” and the manner in which he wielded power.

      3. lyman alpha blob

        You might try reading Graeber and Wengrow’s new book The Dawn Of Everything. I don’t think they specifically mention anarchy per se, but it is what they are describing among some ancient societies and also some relatively new ones. They make a fairly good case that when Europeans came across native societies in the Americas, they were seeing people who had deliberately organized themselves into leaderless societies in response to an earlier totalitarian regime that had left a bad taste in peoples’ mouths for centuries.

          1. lyman alpha blob

            Just finished it yesterday and it stays pretty ‘easy’ if I’m understanding you correctly. There were a lot of times I would have liked them to flesh out their arguments in more detail. In some parts they hand-waved ideas into existence, and then others where they assumed you were knowledgeable about the background info needed to really understand the point. They missed the sweet spot style-wise for me.

            Best parts were the beginning an the end when discussing native North American peoples. More evidence and less speculation there, plus accounts from living people with cultural memory. They also have a wry sense of humor, offhandedly throwing shade on some old shibboleths.

            If the point of the book was to show that another world is possible, they did a very good job of that.

      4. JBird4049

        It does not matter what kind of government or economy we have once it is as corrupt as the one we have now.

        IIRC, Plato supported aristocracies as the best kind of government; a real world combination that got the best of democracy and of single person rule or kingship. This what I think the American Founders were trying to create.

        Although Plato and the Founders were not strong supporters of democracy as such (I know, a surprise!), neither were they supporters of single ruler. They would have agreed with Lord Acton’s axiom: power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Also, I think, having the both abilities and balance of power a group is better than that of one person was important.

        However, they would probably have said of our current mess is that the system has devolved into corrupt version of an aristocracy or a democracy. Kings become dictators. Aristocracies become oligarchies. Democracies become mob rule. Our democracy, really our Republic, was supposed to have a very, very large aristocracy, albeit without the label of one. None of them would have been surprised at the shrinking of this aristocracy into a much smaller and very corrupt oligarchy.

        The massive police state’s effects on our country would also be completely unsurprising them as well; it was the policy of the United States to not have a permanently large military until after the Second World War. About a hundred and sixty years. The current policy of a permanently large army (and later heavily militarized police) started in 1947 or seventy-five years ago.

        1. witters

          If you look at The Laws – Plato’s account of the best polity possible (not the unrealizable Form of The Republic) so “second best” – you find that he thinks democracy (of a kind which internalises wealth distinctions) is it.

      5. skippy

        Cough … so 2009 …

        Maybe I’m the last person who’s hearing about the Citigroup “plutonomy memos”, but they’re blowning me away.

        Wait, now that I look around, I see that Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism posted about this on October 15, 2009, almost three years ago, and called for people to protest the annual meetings of the American Bankers Association. Man, that’s awesome.

        So yeah, I’m a bit late.

        But just in case you didn’t hear about the plutonomy memos (h/t Nicholas Levis), which were featured on Michael Moore’s “Capitalism: a Love Story” as well, then you’ll have to read this post immediately and watch Bill Moyer’s clip at the end as well.

        The basic story, if you’re still here, is that certain “global strategists” inside Citigroup drafted some advice about investing based on their observation that rich people have all the money and power. They even invented a new word for this, namely “plutonomy.” This excerpt from one of the three memos kind of sums it up:

        We project that the plutonomies (the U.S., UK, and Canada) will likely see even more income inequality, disproportionately feeding off a further rise in the profit share in their economies, capitalist-friendly governments, more technology-driven productivity, and globalization… Since we think the plutonomy is here, is going to get stronger… It is a good time to switch out of stocks that sell to the masses and back to the plutonomy basket.

        The lawyers for Citigroup keep trying to make people take down the memos, but they’re easy to find once you know to look for them. Just google it.

    3. John Anthony La Pietra

      Well, some ends can justify some means — but few (if any) ends can truly justify a literal “ANY means”….

  6. Wukchumni

    Started my own isolationist movement yesterday and am attempting to keep positive about things. I got a good deal on what the seller purported to be the Apollo 11 quarantine trailer on eBay, and hope it arrives before my 10 day sojourn lapses and i’m able to complete the re-entry process into polite society, or whatever passes for it these days.

    Question time:

    Will the cast of feline accoutrements here contract Covid from yours truly?

    1. ambrit

      Feline accoutrements? Aren’t you supposed to have a Bear on your flag? (Which is suspiciously like the coat of arms of the City of Bern, Helvetica. Long lost cousins?) Helvetica, also an easily defensible position.

      1. Wukchumni

        Swiss citizen John Sutter bought Fort Ross from the Russkies and title was a little cloudy, and yes the proto-Commies could have selected a better location on the coast, say Malibu instead-but no. you go with the Mendocino you have-not the SoCal coast you want.

        My longest black bear encounter ever was about an hour not too far from Tokopah Falls in Sequoia NP. The bruin was systematically stripping bitter cherries from a hillside full of bitter cherry trees and I watched only 25 feet away, and at one point a gaggle of young Swiss adult tourists came by and asked if it was safe to be that close and I replied in the affirmative and we got talking and I mentioned that most every Canton crest had bears on it, and a Schweizer told me that they didn’t have bears in the wild in Switzerland for over a century, and I asked why they didn’t change the crests, but he was a sharpie and asked why we didn’t ixnay the Grizzly on California’s flag, eh?

        Call it a draw~

        If you’re ever in Three Rivers, under glass in our museum is the model 1892 rifle that killed the last Grizzly in California here in 1926. I actually held it once, kinda sad knowing it was the agent of apocalypse for the breed in Cali.

        1. coboarts

          My last black bear encounter ever was in Sequoia NP. I shined a light on him, but unlike the Yosemite bears, he just got pissed. Fortunately, like an encounter that I had with a large skunk in a wild canyon east of Alpine in SD County, the animal and I backed our footsteps back and disconnected – no need to empty the handgun already drawn. Nature is lovely, and never not red in tooth and claw, no remorse.

        1. ambrit

          This being an economics blog, I’ll stick to Bank Gothic.
          Of course, Shakespeare beat us all to it in his famous lines from the play “As You Like It,” generally known as the “All the World’s a blog” speech;
          “Last scene of all,”
          “That ends this strange eventful history,”
          “Is second childishness and mere oblivion,”
          “Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans serif.”

          The latter is perhaps a sly dig by Shakespeare at the printer of his play scripts. As is usual with everything related to The Bard of Avon, opinions differ, often rancourously.
          Be ye of good cheer and remaineth thou safe!

          1. Wukchumni

            Bank woes have been few and far between since Barings lost a couple billion.

            That’d never happen today, they’d request that a BOE sofa be shaken down and the loose change therein make them whole.

            1. flora

              Nick Leeson, Barings Bank: would the outcome have been different depending on the script style used in printing the word “Nick” ? / ;)

              1. ambrit

                Well, he did do time in “the nick,” and he was ‘nicked’ by the Fraud Squad. (Said subdivision of the Organs of State Security is not, contrary to polular belief, involved in perpetrating such anti-social actions. Some coppers do indeed fight against crime.)

  7. Mr. Magoo

    Re: “America’s Most Automated Port Had Its ‘Most Productive Year’ in 2021”

    The title is misleading as it infers all the productivity (25% YOY increase) is due to automation. However, the article also mentions that every aspect of the port, including trucking resources, and is in fact ‘two ports’ allowing load balancing between the two ports.

    Even for the same port, we are given no idea of relative productivity. Was the prior year a down year? What is the designed capacity.

    Me smells an agenda….

    1. Michael Ismoe

      How about “That Pete Buttigieg sure can work wonders. He fixed the ports. Did Kamala fix the border?”

      Assume everyone is jockeying for 2024. Losing to Trump isn’t just for Hillary anymore.

      1. Wukchumni

        What if Mayo Pete responds to questions by cackling when he doesn’t know the answer, would that make him as qualified as Kamala to be a replacement veep?

      2. LawnDart

        Losing to Trump isn’t just for Hillary anymore.

        Neither Pete or Kamala should find that hard to swallow either, as they’ve both had plenty of practice.

    1. CoryP

      Many years ago this might have bothered me but I have no love for Activision Blizzard’s current incarnation… I wonder if anything will change in a noticeable way.

      1. Charger01

        Short MSFT. Just kidding.
        James Stephanie Sterling has loads of videos on the toxic workplace that Activision Blizzards has become, with rampant scandals that have been unaddressed within the so-called “triple a” industry. Hopefully, MSFT gets smart and trashes the entire leadership of that sinking ship ASAP.

        1. Basil Pesto

          MS saying that the org structure of AB will stay the same until 2023 when the deal is finalised. Open qn as to what happens then.

          While AB is surely a trash pile, this and the Bethesda deal are worrying monopoly plays on MS’ part. Wishful thinking I’m sure but if would be funny if Lina Khan’s FTC put the kibosh on this deal.

          1. Randy

            There’s no way Microsoft can monopolize the video game industry despite their attempts to do so for the past 20+ years. They can keep buying these zombie devs that have illustrious histories covering up checkered recent performance and all it means is people leave those studios to make indie games or form their own companies. Seriously, they’ve been doing this for decades now and it never pays off for them. I remember people crying foul at them buying Rare almost 20 years ago.

            1. Basil Pesto

              that was mostly Nintendo fanboys shook because Rare was essentially a second-party Nintendo studio, and the two companies had more or less defined each other up to that point. It was hardly an antitrust play in the way the Bethesda and Activision (who themselves acquired many smaller studios) acquisitions are, though, or at least on nowhere near the same scale.

              And, well, gamers grizzling loudly about developers being has-beens is hardly uncharted territory but even if you agree with that premise (which I probably do?) the franchises under their control are enormous market powerhouses and 1) even if some devs leave to go indie, the combined employment of all those studios is still massive 2) it’s the IP that has the most value and is what is driving the high cost of the acquisition anyway.

              the aim, as Stoller is imo correctly pointing out on Twitter today, is to imitate a Netflix model with Gamepass. Gamepass is hugely successful and is now a, if not the key focus of their gaming business. No, they won’t literally have a monopoly as long as Sony and Nintendo are around and making hardware, but it’s still worryingly anti-competitive behaviour.

            2. griffen

              I had no real angle about this story, but I knew that gamers have occasional discussion here about gaming and platforms. And, some times I just get lucky if I hear what the morning coverage is from CNBC.

    2. Randy

      I see Microsoft is continuing its spree of buying up has been videogame developers in its endless pursuit of somehow cornering… some market, I don’t even know what anymore. Except unlike recent purchases Obsidian and inXile, this particular has been dev is also bringing a bunch of legal problems. It has to be an inside joke in the industry at this point that all you have to do to get bought by Microsoft and shuffled into their collection of zombie devs is make one or two games people loved 20 years ago and then churn out nothing but trash until some coked out Microsoft exec decides to buy out your company for some reason.

    3. MonkeyBusiness

      I used to be a pretty serious gamer until a couple of years ago, but nowadays gaming is pretty much last when it comes to my choice of entertainment. I do own a Switch and a couple of games, but I have not finished even a single one.

      Granted I am no longer one of the target audience, but even back then, it was hard to find a must have game from Activision Blizzard. And speaking of Microsoft, even till now I am still not sure why the Halo franchise remains so popular. The games were mediocre and yes I played all the ones in the original XBox console from beginning to end.

  8. Wukchumni

    I remember reading that the Runit Dome on Enewetak Atoll was leaking a few years ago and that seemed not so bueno to me, as I prefer radioactive waste to be sequestered securely, but that was then and last week was a Tongan-adjacent volcano blowing up real good, and i’m wondering if Runit got run down by a rogue wave?

  9. Tom Stone

    The 3D printed gun pictured in the article is the FGC9-Mk2.
    Sintered metal is not needed for this model, just standard plastics a grade above ABS.
    High pressure steel tubing and springs are the most difficult parts to acquire, rifling is done by electrochemical machining.
    The improvguns site tries to track the proliferation of craft made small arms across the World and these 3d printed subguns are showing up pretty much everywhere.

    1. bob

      ” The total cost of production, assuming the user already owns a 3D printer, is less than USD$400. ”

      That’s a 9mm pistol with very little history.

      That’s an AK 47. Well known, well proven military weapon.

      It’s no comparison. The ‘cheap’ 3D printed one isn’t even cost effective. All of these stories are sales pitches for 3D printers.

      That’s before trying to source 9mm ammo in a war zone with plenty of AK

      1. The Rev Kev

        I’d go for an AK-47 too as those things are built for combat. But the guy that wrote that article really did not like them and tried to make out that it was a criminals or terrorists rifle. Thing is, the AK-47 is also seen in the third world as a freedom symbol and there are several countries that feature it on their flags. But for some reason, you don’t see countries with an M-16 on it-

        1. bob

          I can’t find anything to verify it, but that whole french site, in english, about a conflict in Myanmar is suspicious.

          To begin with-

          “The France 24 Observers, as a department of France 24, is part of the France Medias Monde group, which is funded by the French state but editorially independent.”

          “The International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) is a unit of the US-based Poynter Institute. The IFCN promotes best practices in the fact-checking field and organizes exchanges among fact-checking organizations around the world via grants and other programs. In 2017, the IFCN financed an exchange between the Observers and in Ankara, Turkey. If any individual or organization believes the France 24 Observers are failing to observe the IFCN’s standards they should notify the IFCN.”

          Smells very NATO from here

          1. David

            France24 is a well-known and pretty reputable site: the equivalent of BBC World, NHK World etc. It’s their entry in the worldwide-service-in English stakes. (In any case, why on earth would NATO be interested?)
            The problem with AK47s is getting hold of them. In Africa, this isn’t a problem because the Russians and Chinese flooded the continent with millions of them, and billions of rounds of ammunition, in the 70s and 80s, to support political movements they favoured. The same is true in the Middle East, where Russian equipment predominated. But it’s not true of Myanmar. If you consider the equipment of the Army, most of the personal weapons are clones of western equipment, and, importantly, generally of 5.56mm calibre. This is the normal source of arms in any civil war, from deserters, theft, equipment collected after battles etc. You can’t just order AK-47s on Amazon, and the only logical supplier in the region (since Thailand also uses western equipment) would be China. But it’s not obvious, given their attitude in the past, why they would support a violent revolution now. And in any event, since you can’t assume any domestic expertise in handling and maintaining AK-47s, you’d need teams of trainers as well.

            1. bob

              Or, in the age old book of how to run an insurgency, you use what you take from the occupiers. Which would probably be?

              Setting up a 3d printing shop to ‘print’ bad guns isn’t a good idea.

              Why would NATO be interested? I agree, but they seem to be everywhere. Probably trying to keep NATO in the budgets. Poynter institute, the ‘fact checking’ partner of france24, receives money from VOA-


              “The Poynter Institute received $737,400 in federal loans from the Paycheck Protection Program during the COVID-19 pandemic. President Neil Brown noted that this was not the first time the institute received government funding, noting past training contracts with Voice of America.[19]”

              “In 2015, the institute launched the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), which sets a code of ethics for fact-checking organizations. The IFCN reviews fact-checkers for compliance with its code, and issues a certification to publishers who pass the audit. The certification lasts for one year, and fact-checkers must be re-examined annually to retain their certifications.[21] Google, Facebook, and other technology companies use the IFCN’s certification to vet publishers for fact-checking contracts.[22][23][24]”

              These are the people who partnered with france24 and Turkey to ‘fact check’.

              And speaking of ‘fact checking’ by a “a well-known and pretty reputable site”, from the link above, “who we are”-

              “To fact-check information from our Observers – especially the first time they contribute – we use traditional journalistic methods.

              The first time we come into contact with a potential Observer (either they approach us or we approach them), we treat them like any other news source. We ask for photo or video documentation; we question them closely about their access to the event and motivations for talking to us. We err on the side of caution.

              We crosscheck the information they give us against other sources, including published reports, local journalists, experts, and pertinent governmental or nongovernmental agencies or other concerned parties.

              Once an Observer has contributed, they become a trusted source we can turn to for future reports”

              1. coboarts

                I’ve always thought that if you really want to run a revolt, you should capture your first weapons. And then capture more and more of what you need. In the meantime, you’re building a government, not approved of.

              2. Lambert Strether Post author

                > Or, in the age old book of how to run an insurgency, you use what you take from the occupiers. Which would probably be?

                That is exactly what one of the PDFers said: Use the printed guns to hold up a police station or army base, and capture some real guns.

                Nuggets like that are why I found the article useful, even if, as other readers point out, the provenance seems a little sketchy (not France24 which is a known quantity, but this article).

                1. PlutoniumKun

                  In most insurgencies, the problem is not getting guns, but getting ammo. One reason the Russians shifted from the AK47 to the AK74 is that the latter used much lighter rounds, so that soldiers could carry more. The weight of each cartridge is one of the few disadvantages of the AK47 as an insurgent weapon.

                  In 1918 the old IRA got consignments of guns from Germany (such as old Mausers) which proved pretty useless in combat. They mostly used the guns they got for propaganda photos. The main focus, as above, was on using the guns to hold up remote police stations so they could steal something more useable, plus of course the precious ammunition. One history I’ve read stated that at one time each IRA operative had a gun and two rounds – yes, two rounds. This is why Michael Collins focused on selective assassinations and told his rural fighters to keep moving.

                  I would guess (I don’t really know the facts on the ground), that Myanmar is not like parts of Africa or Afghanistan where you can buy all the guns and ammo you want for the price of a goat (this is possible in parts of Cambodia, but not elsewhere). So you need to match your weapons with what’s available. The rebels seem to be sensible in realising that you have to be pragmatic. Use what you have sensibly, and steal as much high grade material as you can. And they will also know the propaganda value of youtube clips of hooded men and women firing modern weaponry. This may or may not reflect the reality on the ground.

                  Incidentally, one lesson the IRA learned in Northern Ireland in the 1970’s and 1980’s is that a very small number of high quality sniper rifles or.50 cal weaponry was vastly more useful than any number of AK-47’s. A tiny handful of the latter weapons were much more effective at keeping army patrols at an arms length. They used these to keep so called ‘Bandit country’ (some border areas), no-go areas to one degree or another up to the 1990’s. The threat of a sniper with kevlar piercing round or a burst from a .50cal aimed a a helicopter was something British soldiers feared far more than any number of country boys with AK-47’s or armalites. Tech-wise, I’d guess the Myanmar army is more British Army of the 1980’s than US or Russians today (i.e. fewer fancy electronics to help them out).

                  Another point to bear in mind is that during the Vietnam War, for all the high profile given to Soviet SAMS and tanks given to the north Vietnamese, the regular Vietnamese soldier was very dependent on Chinese made weapons and ammo (my Chinese friends insist that the Vietnam War was won by China, not Vietnam or the Soviets). Supply chains matter in insurgencies, and the Myanmar rebels may find that they don’t have any supply chains if the Chinese and Thai decide they shouldn’t have them.

                  1. Lambert Strether Post author

                    > Supply chains matter in insurgencies, and the Myanmar rebels may find that they don’t have any supply chains if the Chinese and Thai decide they shouldn’t have them.

                    And the Laotions, Bangladeshis, and Indians. Myanmar’s borders are absurdly porous. I think the issue is money. The NUG tried to float those weird bonds, and now they’re trying Bitcoin. They probably don’t have the power to tax in the areas they control, if only because there’s nothing to tax. The NUG might also be squeamish about selling drugs, and/or the ethnic armies have those markets sewed up, and the NUG can’t muscle in.

                    Excellent point on the sniper rifles. It wouldn’t take money to make Yangon hot for the Tatmawdaw leadership. I don’t know if a “sniping’ capability exists, though. Certainly not in the PDFs, and I don’t know if this is the sort of war the ethnic armies fight. The IRA has a long time to figure out what worked for them.

                    Would be excellent if the West, very much including Japan and Australia, stopped wittering about humanitarian assistance and pulled out of all commercial relations with the Tatmadaw. (One could argue that this would push Myanmar into the arms of China, but I regard China is extremely reluctant suitors who have enough troubles of their own and don’t want to have to digest the mess.) Wouldn’t hurt to launder some pallets of weaponry in, of course, as long as they aren’t stupid about what the NUG and the ethnic armies can actually use.

                  2. David

                    The point about the IRA is a fair one but the strategic context is different. The IRA were trying to drive the British out of Ireland . By contrast, the Myanmar regime has nowhere to go: they will have to be defeated and overthrown by force, and I suspect this means large-scale conventional operations. The closest example I can think of, apart from Yemen, would be the overthrow of the Dergue by the EPRDF in 1991, which finished up with a major conventional battle to take Addis Ababa. There were of course lots of guns and uncountable rounds of ammunition waiting to be picked up.

        2. polar donkey

          Ak-47’s and Chinese knock offs are very popular in Memphis still today. We specialize in killing people here so AK’s must continue to be cheap and reliable. Local Facebook live streams have shown kids with Ak’s at the mall food court, parks, schools, parking lots, skating rinks, street races. The market has spoken. Memphis still gives AK’s 2 big thumbs up. A huge shout out of thanks to the NRA for making this all possible.

          1. Wukchumni

            Here we’ve had a marked increase in 3D printed atlatls and more recently bows & arrows, including ‘Saturday Night Special’ versions of the former. Luckily 3D printed obsidian has proven to be a harder nut to crack using modern methodology, so locals have been using 3D printed chert, which is a crummy substitute for obsidian.

          2. coboarts

            I remember my students in the juvenile court schools of Alameda County telling me about glocks, no serial numbers, for the taking. And I had spent hard earned teacher pay for my sh*t. dang

      2. Tom Stone

        The FGC9Mk2 is not a pistol,it is a submachine gun that is well enough built to last for thousands of rounds.
        And I question the unit cost.
        Exclusive of the printer ( About $2K for one that will churn out 2-4 a day) you need about 12″ of high pressure steel tubing, a saw to cut it, printer cartridges, springs, 3″ or so of round 3/4″ steel stock for the bolt, a threaded bolt for the bolt handle, a plastic bucket,salt,copper wire, a 9 volt battery,a drill press and a tap and die for the bolt handle.
        I priced the materials here in Sonoma County including the printer cartridge and came up with a figure of a little less than $100 per unit.
        Final costs depend on how quickly you amortize the printer, saw and drill press.
        Keep in mind that you do need electricity, but these puppies can be built in a spare bedroom without bothering the neighbors.
        It doesn’t require a skilled machinist, 3 phase power or noisy,smelly processes.
        The magazines are also 3D printed copies of Glock 30 rounders and they cost less than $5 a piece to build.
        Think about who you would have to deal with to buy a dozen AK’s ( Your friendly local ATF informant is always ready to help! ) and what you would have to do to transport them to where they would be issued.
        These are not junk,they are a good deal better made than the WW2 Sten gun.

        1. bob

          The 9mm is a pistol load. It was developed for a pistol, and used most of the time by pistols. It is not a necked round, which is usually the measure of a rifle round.

          “Since the cartridge was designed for the Luger semi-automatic pistol,”

          Why do you guys keep trying to sell 3D printing?

          And even the origial story-

          “For the time being, our team hasn’t seen any photos posted online showing Myanmar rebels using the FGC-9 in combat. ”

          Thousands of rounds? They can’t even find one.

          This is all marketing.

    2. bob

      One more bit-

      “Independent journalist Jake Hanrahan made a 2020 documentary about the person who invented the FGC-9, a libertarian known by the pseudonym JStark, who he interviews in the film.”

      Did he really interview him?

  10. The Rev Kev

    “Walensky faces CDC burnout as pandemic enters third year”

    I would suggest that there might be two types of burnout. There is the sort where you work for an organization that is fighting the good fight and getting things done. You are exhausted, but the troops can reflect that they are getting stuff done that is of importance. Like those that worked for Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps back in the 30s. Then there is the other sort of burnout. The one where you wok for an organization that has lost its way. That no longer listens to professional advice but listens to what the politicians want to hear. The type where you know that not only does your work not matter, but that it might actively be hurting people. Working for the later sort of organization would be very demoralizing as you heart would never be in it.

    1. Lee

      I’m getting burned out from going to the CDC website looking for particularly important up to date information only to find that they haven’t posted data on “Rates of Covid-19 Cases and Deaths by Vaccination Status” since December 17, 2021 covering a period ending November 20.

      When I visited the site yesterday they said an update was going to be posted today. Maybe I’m missing something but that statement appears to have since been removed. I’d really like to get an idea of what my odds are of going into a medical facility, which I must do in mid Feb., and coming out worse off than when I went in. Particularly since medical staff here in CA who test positive for Covid will be, under current state guidelines, allowed or even required to return to treating patients after five days off just so long as they are asymptomatic.

    2. Maritimer

      The gormless CDC idiots apparently did not read the job description: work at a Center which is charged with Controlling Disease! They probably thought it was a TV show or movie starring Them! Hey, where’s my Emmy?

      “…the pandemic response team, which has more than 1,500 staffers….”
      I wonder how many staffers Dr. Peter McCullough has working for him over at FLCCC.

  11. LawnDart

    Wow– that Laura Smith article, The Whole Ruling Class has to Go, could easily be rewritten to say the same about the USA.

    Great article, and I wish I could offer more in the way of commentary but I’m a bit pressed today. I am looking forward to reading other reader’s comments tonight if I make it home.

    1. Pookah Harvey

      From Laura Smith article:

      ‘After about a week, I realised the place is full to the brim of entitled idiots with little-to-no concept of the real world that they are supposed to represent.’

      I am starting to understand Aristotle when he explained that sortition (selection by lottery) is the best method of choosing office holders in a democracy, while election is best for sustaining an oligarchy, in which wealthy and powerful individuals can readily manipulate the election process. With sortition, statistical probability guarantees the random selection of office holders who truly represent the citizenry.
      This historical journal article is a good discussion on the history and possible modern application of sortition

      1. chuck roast

        These kinds of discussions always remind me of Gene McCarthy. When he took up his quixotic quest he projected a clear diffidence to all. Kind of like…is this guy for real? The more he talked the more is seemed his aim was a little off. He wasn’t some kind of killer pol or a sausage making functionary. What was he? I settled on the notion that he would be a Philosopher King, and growing up in a melieu of oily ward-healers this worked just fine for me. My introduction to always hanging around the margins.

    2. Eclair

      ” …… could easily be rewritten to say the same about the USA.”

      The UK has had so many more centuries to perfect the arrogance, cluelessness, and inbreeding of their upper class. We in the US are kindergartners in comparison. But, fast learners!

      As daily antidote to seasonal and existential gloom, I have been taking an episode or two of “The Windsors.” It’s a delicious satire, featuring Camilla and Pippa as evil witches, Harry as good-time-boy with IQ in low double digits, Eugenie and Beatrice (we’re 6th and 7th in line for the Throne, donchaknow), and many many others in the Windsor clan. The Queen is noticeably absent; satire must not touch her apparently.

  12. Michael Fiorillo

    Regarding the Slate article about Facebook’s profile of an HCT (Harmful Conspiracy Theory) producer, I couldn’t get Rachel Maddow’s image out of my head. After all, she and her cohort spent years touting a preposterous conspiracy theory – Trump as Russian asset since the 1980’s – riddled with internal contradictions, which Blue Anon followers still believe, and which, but for Trump’s mishandling of Covid, would have gone a long way towards re-electing him.

    1. Mantid

      In fact Brits are seeing vax efficacy dropping like a rock in a pond. This article explains that by extrapolating the trend of the virus’ vax escape at the current rate (Pfizer is about 30% effective after 10 weeks) the effectiveness will go below zero by about March and continue declining. The AX vaccine is below zero after 10 weeks. When a vax effectiveness goes below 0, your immune system begins to collapse. Interesting and scary …. article: Official UK Government data suggests Fully Vaccinated Brits will develop Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome by the end of February 2022. Link:
      An excerpt from the source document: “It is important to realise that this is NOT vaccines failing to work or waning in efficiency. That would just lead to a 0% vaccine efficacy. If the vaccines were merely failing to work, their efficacy would be approaching from above the efficacy of unvaxxed immune systems. But it is not doing that. Vaxxed cases are many times worse than the unvaxxed case numbers. Vaxxed efficacy is diving miles below unvaxxed efficacy. These figures are a catastrophe for the vaccinated. “

      1. CoryP

        The chart in that article suggests it’s from the linked government PDF but it is not. The word “degradation” is the author’s interpretation of (i think) greater CASES numbers occurring in vaccinated people compared to unvaccinated.

        This is completely dishonest “reporting”. It does not suggest immune degradation, whatever that is.

        Protection gets worse over time but I’m not seeing anything that could be considered ADE.

        That site doesn’t seem credible to me.

        (Others correct me if I’m wrong. I’m at work and I was skimming.)

  13. polar donkey

    Why do I have a feeling these Senators have their hands in conflict zone/corrupt state cookie jar. Keating 5 John McCain and Hillary Clinton cranked up a lot of Ukrainian hysteria with people like Victoria Nuland. None of these previously listed people are decent human beings. There is a sizable amount of money sloshing around one of the most corrupt states in the world. Then you saw characters like Hunter Biden, Paul Pelosi, and John Kerry’s son running around, doing shady things. None of this passes even a rudimentary smell test. These a*****e Senators care more about Ukraine and massive weapons/aid flow than dealing with covid. How do I look at these Senators and not think their hands are in the cookie jar. You couldn’t possibly care this much about Ukraine unless you were paid too.

    1. Tom Stone

      Don’t forget R Hunter’s good buddy Devon Archer who happens to be Whitey Bulger’s nephew.
      It was a Dem backed coup so Dem ghouls get the first bites of the corpse.

      1. Questa Nota

        Spheres of influence to the DC gang are opportunities to loot. Get the media surrogates cranked up about some jingoistic human rights manufactured issue, gin up legislation, keep your 10% and something for the weekend.

        The new DC Monopoly game is rigged. Shocking, I’m sure. When you own Go, you don’t need to pass to collect.

        1. Wukchumni

          I played DC Monopoly one time, and only learned after the game was started that Senators and Congresspeople had bought up all the real estate with the exception of the railroads, which frankly nobody wanted and I can’t blame them. The highlight of playing was landing on Chance or Community Chest, or hopefully a jail stint, as you had no opportunity @ landing on a politician’s haunt full of hotels while in the pokey.

          1. skippy

            I played that game in the Cove at Malibu … twas the real deal … did not know it snowed that much at the latitude … needed rock skis …

      2. Kilgore Trout

        We mustn’t overlook Cofer Black’s retirement gig on the board of Burisma. Grifters gotta grift, whether thru family ties or “family” ties.

      3. the last D

        But you would have the ghouls eating themselves, and helping us all by taking big, big bites out of crime. A one-corpse meal, by the way.

    2. IMOR

      I disagree with little you wrote, and because committee positions are so often sinecures/window dressing as the electeds take more and more direct orders fr offstage, write almost none of the legislation, and hold fewer hearings on same, it matters little- but Sens. Portman, Shaheen and Murphy have the figleaf/justification/cover story of membership on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee.
      Also, this link worked for me when the listed wouldn’t:

  14. BrianH

    I missed this detail until now. It’s NOT a plan to send free tests to everyone. There is a 4 test limit for each home. Not even enough for a family of four to do a follow up test.
    Every home in the U.S. can soon order 4 free at-⁠home COVID-⁠19 tests. The tests will be completely free—there are no shipping costs and you don’t need to enter a credit card number.

    1. ChiGal

      Yeah, the 8 per person in each household per month ones are for those with health insurance who are willing to wrangle over reimbursement.

      The states that didn’t expand Medicaid particularly are gonna have a lot of people left out and my guess is those same states have the lowest vaccination rates.

      Members of the elect reap greater rewards.

    2. Lemmy Caution

      I just ordered my 4 free tests. When you go to and click the “Order free at-home tests” button, it takes you directly to the United States Postal Service site. Fill out your name and address, hit the “Check out now” button and that’s it. Worked like a charm. Took about 1 minute.

      Now, they do say the tests will supposedly ship in 7-12 days. And you can probably add in another 3 days or so before they reach your address. But hey, so far so good.

    3. Eclair

      “There is a 4 test limit for each home.”

      It’s a ‘cap and trade’ arrangement. We don’t want to flood the market with so many test kits that there will be surplus ones going to the landfill; so, we cap the number of test kits mailed.

      The free market system will then maximize efficient distribution; homes not needing four kits, can list their surplus kits on the official Government COTCAT (COvid Testkit Cap And Trade) website (currently under development.)

      Those families requiring additional kits, because they have too many children or allow their aged parents or gormless brother-in-law, to share their space, or have multiple bouts of CoVid, can then go onto COTCAP (coming soon) and browse through the individual test kits offered, listing the dollar amount they are offering. After a reasonable amount of time, determined individually, bidding will be closed and the test kit will be mailed (postage required) to the successful bidder. Everybody wins!

        1. Wukchumni

          A friend had a Covid test for me, and his wife is an RN, so all I did was swirl a longish q-tip around my nostrils and gave it back to her and 10 minutes later she broke the news to me (as she was backing up-for I had taken on all the aspects of a do-it-yourself leper colony) and asked if I wanted the test kit back, and I demurred, realizing only now the demand for NFT’s, because markets.

        2. Eclair

          OMG, yeeees! But first, you must apply for an official NFT Operator’s License at the, still under development, BOMFET (Bureau Of Monetizing Friggin EveryThing) Website.

  15. Ghost in the Machine

    Since the authorization of booster shots for the over 12 year old range, I have had the parents of two 12-13 year old boys tell me that their boys had chest pain within 2 days of the shot. One boy woke up in the middle of the night complaining so loudly they took him to the ER. They knew about potential myocarditis and the inflammatory problems and they took an x-ray and did an EKG. The ER docs said no myocarditis and thought it was just some other bug. The other boy, I am not sure how they determined it, but the physician also considered myocarditis, but determined it wasn’t.

    That is two kids just in our circle of friends. My son is scheduled for a booster but I am having second thoughts.
    Any of the physicians or COVID mavens here heard of similar complaints?

    1. Mike

      I’m 27 and I thought the booster was going to kill me. Sever aches and fever that lead into severe chest pain. Surprisingly though the chest pain subsided over a week. I still had this lingering feeling that working out too hard was going to send me over the edge but now a month later I seem completely fine. Omicron was very easy going for me, which might be a testament to the vaccine but it sure certainly seems like the cure was worse than the disease. I won’t take another booster at this point unless the next strain is some monster offing 10% of the population. To me it seems like taking a 2nd booster will be a major role of the dice for me.

  16. Larry Carlson

    Although the somewhat snarky links about testing parachutes through randomized control trials (RCTs) do make the valid point that observational evidence can have value, I’d argue that RCTs are particularly important in medicine for the following reasons:
    1) There’s no placebo effect elsewhere: people don’t survive plane crashes if you only tell them they’ve been given a parachute.
    2) Often, the exact mechanism by which a pharmaceutical works in the human body is not completely understood, in contrast to the physics of air resistance that governs parachutes.
    3) Pharmaceutical companies have a strong financial incentive to offer new treatments as older drugs go off patent, even if the new drugs they offer have minimal value. Rigorous RCTs can help quantify the benefit of these new treatments. Parachute manufacturers don’t have to make improvements to their product to stave off competition from generics.
    4) Patients with life-threatening medical conditions often die, even if they’re provided with an incrementally better treatment. Medical data tends to be complicated and have a poor signal-to-noise ratio, and observational data is plagued by self-selection issues. Parachute effectiveness isn’t dramatically altered by the user’s diet, wealth, and beliefs.

    1. Greg Taylor

      On the commentary – North Carolina is in the control group for an ongoing RCT of salting snow-covered roads.

    2. Bruno

      “placebo effect”=activation of human body healing effects independant of mechanical chemical manipulation.

    3. ArvidMartensen

      RCTs have a major benefit over observational trials, since they can only be done by large organisations with deep pockets and government grants. If you wanted a chokehold on medical treatments, then you would turn RCTs into a religion. As has been done.
      Not so long ago priests appointed themselves to be the monopoly gatekeepers between the ordinary person and salvation. Today, drug companies stand aggressively between ordinary doctors and patients as the monopoly gatekeepers to life or death.
      And journalists, who wouldn’t know a bedpan from a stethoscope, have religiously demonised anything not wanted by big Pharma, as derisory and dangerous. But then most of the news these days is sourced from press releases of those with an axe to grind. And most “pundits” today are industry shills.
      It’s a pretty dubious ethical proposition to withhold a possibly effective treatment in a case of life or death, for scientific or commercial purposes.
      Old school medical researchers rushed penicillin out as fast as they could. The first patient trials of penicillin did not have a “control group” of people who the researchers were willing to let die. They might have found this unthinkable, under the idea that they first should do no harm.

      1. Larry Carlson

        Interesting that we’re both concerned by big pharma pushing expensive treatments of dubious value, but I see RCTs as a solution (by making it harder for big pharma to use poorly designed studies to find benefits where none exist) and you see them as part of the problem (their size and cost favors big pharma). Perhaps RCTs also require a high quality regulatory regime to show their full value?

        1. ArvidMartensen

          Seems my reply got lost in moderation. Three points.
          1. There is misuse of data in RCTs “whatever the true incidence of data fraud in clinical trials, high-profile cases provide sobering evidence that it does occur regularly”

          2. There is probability of bias in RCTs

          3. Effective regulatory regimes are eventually taken over by the industries they regulate, due to money and staff interchange. Look at the US, nuff said.

    4. Mike

      Maybe I read your comment wrong but reason #1 about the placebo effect is exactly why you don’t need RCTs when you are dealing with something like death. They either died or they didn’t. If you give ward #1 a drug and ward #2 no drug and ward #1 has half the amount of deaths, you don’t need an impartial observer to see a correlation. This was the exact arguments with ivermectin in the initial studies being done real time in the field. Instead big pharma said that’s not legitimate when it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to deduce a signal in the noise when dealing with something as binary as death. This is exactly how ICUs administer care, a doctors experience will drive their decision to do a “little bit of this and a little bit of that” not some article on pubmed. The idea that everything has to be run through RCTs hamstrung doctors in the pandemic because you have to be able to experiment in the field when there is no time to wait years for a big study.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > The idea that everything has to be run through RCTs hamstrung doctors in the pandemic because you have to be able to experiment in the field when there is no time to wait years for a big study.

        An idea that Trisha Greenhalgh among others pushed hard, but it doesn’t seem to have made a dent with the “evidence-based medicine” crowd. (I cannot remember where I picked up this nugget, and I paraphrase, but EBM was devised before personal computing devices were invented, and one of the inventors envisioned the ideal outcome as doctors having a cart with all the relevant literature on it, which the would wheel from patient to patient on their rounds. Which sounds ridiculous, and is equally ridiculous when you replace the cart with a cellphone, if you think about it.)

      2. CoryP

        I think the placebo effect is expansive enough to include the outcome Death.

        After all we’re talking about people getting better, not just believing theyre getting better.

        (The article was funny and appropriate tho)

  17. Lemmy Caution

    RE: Coronavirus digest: Fourth booster ‘not enough’ to fight omicron, study shows

    Just as the Omicron variant now comprises 96% of all new infections in the U.S., Israeli researchers found that “a fourth jab of current Covid vaccines ‘not enough’ to fight Omicron.”

    Data on an Omicron-specific shot is likely to be available in March, according to the Moderna CEO.

    But judging by recent reporting, by Spring the Omicron wave may have receded to a point where an Omicron-specific booster will be obsolete.

    That’s because there are growing signs that Omicron may have already peaked in the U.S.

    For example, in the last few days (Jan. 15-17) (percentages reflect relative changes):

    New cases are down 15%

    The case fatality rate has fallen by 17%

    The daily death rate has decreased by 5%

    The number of ICU patients has leveled off (January 12-15 data)

    Time will tell if the these trends continue through the remainder of January and into February. By March, the pending availability of a new Omicron-specific booster may not matter.

      1. Lemmy Caution


        So not only do the current vaccines target older variants, the current testing protocols are also one step behind Omicron.

  18. Carolinian

    Re Knowing When to Stop–good Bacevich on why the US blows at empire.

    Yet the brush with Armageddon that was the Cuban Missile Crisis does not lessen the fact that respecting Cold War spheres of influence played a large role in averting World War III. Demanding the liberation of Eastern European “captive nations” formed a staple of U.S. Cold War propaganda. The Hungarian Revolution in 1956 and the “Prague Spring” of 1968 offered U.S. presidents an opportunity to translate rhetoric into action. Yet Dwight D. Eisenhower and Lyndon Baines Johnson each in turn passed on the opportunity, tacitly acknowledging that the far side of the East-West divide fell within the Kremlin’s sphere of influence. This was bad news for Hungarians and Czechoslovaks, of course. But arguably it was good news for the survival of humankind.

    Building spheres of influence is an exercise in de facto imperialism. A perpetual challenge in empire-building is knowing when to stop, allowing further expansion to take a back seat to consolidation. The United States in our own time offers a master class on how not to do it. Until the last decades of the 20th century, the Middle East occupied the periphery of the American Empire. After 9/11, fully incorporating the region into Washington’s globe-spanning sphere of influence became a priority and the rationale for multiple wars of choice intended to establish American regional primacy. The result was a debacle.

    Of course part of the problem is that our presidents have limited control over domestic affairs but can really let their egos soar when it comes to foreign policy. It’s remarkable how much mahem has been justified in the name of “credibility”–as though we were 19th century duelists defending our honor. Meanwhile Senators want to get in on the glory by, oh say, jetting to Ukraine to try to stir up a war. Nobody indeed seems to have a plan or know when to stop.

    1. Wukchumni

      Growing up a Bohemian’s Bohemian in the USA, there were 2 types of Czech emigres, the 48′ version who vamoosed when Communism came calling and the 68′ version who got out of dodge before the Commies came calling once again to put an end to the liberalization that allowed 68’ers to leave during the Prague Spring.

      We had friends who were of both stripes and the 68′ models seemed to have the worst time of it, as their english was halty and you could just tell they were hungry for accent marks, not to mention the feminine and male parts of the language that largely didn’t exist here.


      Should you make it as a contestant on Czech Wheel of Fortune, do NOT buy a vowel!

      1. Carolinian

        There’s a movie: The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Re-watched it recently. That’s the extent of my Carolinian knowledge.

        Also Prague looks pretty cool in pictures.

      1. Wukchumni

        Joe will have had a year of perfecting his technique of skating on thin ice by the time the winter olympics start, and if he can pull off the quadruple blow loop without falling along with milking the salchow, he’s a shoe in for a medal, combined with his vast experience in death spirals by voting us into unnecessary wars, but it is unclear at this time whether he’ll skate by himself or with a partner.

        His main rival in figure skating will be Jay Powell, who never saw numbers he felt he couldn’t manipulate.

      2. Michael Ismoe

        Isn’t Chinese New Year right around the corner too? That’s a two-week closure of everything. We might be in for some shortages in the near future.

    1. griffen

      Quite the interesting list of signers on that document. When one talks about greatness at the college level Jerry West as a player in the 60s should be on the list.

      Luck had a pretty famous son playing QB for the Colts.

  19. mistah charley, ph.d.

    The paper on dogs identifying Long COVID by scent actually has the dogs reporting no false positives, but about half false negatives – your description has the results reversed.

  20. fresno dan
    Late last week, Drs. Gary G. Ghahremani and Katherine M. Richman, both radiologists at the University of California-San Diego Medical Center, published a paper in the journal Emergency Radiology detailing eight different accounts of adults ingesting toothbrushes. These cases join about fifty others previously reported in the medical literature.
    “The majority of ingested foreign bodies that are smaller than 5 cm and have smooth configuration will usually pass through the gastrointestinal tract. However, there is no reported case of spontaneous passage of a toothbrush or its broken head part through the rectum,* the authors write.
    One more thing to worry about…
    *I guess that is a good thing

    1. griffen

      Where is our chewable toothbrushes? Engineers within the oral hygiene division should snap to it already, think of the market for an Oral-B that comes in different flavors!

      We just can’t have nice things.

      1. ambrit

        Hah! My Mom’s besty back in the day was the Head Nurse for the night shift at a major hospital in the Miami Dade megalopolis. Some of her stories were laugh out loud funny and cringe worthy at the same time. The story about the fellow, the hat rack, and the station wagon still resonates. Then there was the “Living Hood Ornament.” Who could have guessed that some surgeons bacame proficient in using Dremel tools from necessity?

        1. lordkoos

          That is hilarious. I first heard about this kind of thing from a guy who was an ER staffer at a Seattle hospital.

    2. B24S

      Both our boys work in ERs. I hear stories you don’t want to, including X-rays of toothbrushes. One has earned the nickname “Frodo, the Ring Bearer”. As my friend the forensic pathologist says, “You don’t want to know…”

  21. Carla

    Re: What if Democracy and Climate Mitigation Are Incompatible?

    Wrong question, Foreign Policy. The question is “What if Climate Mitigation Is Possible Only When We Have Actual Democracy?”

    Man, are we ever late to THAT party.

    1. Noone from Nowheresville

      What if climate mitigation is possible only when we don’t have trillionaires, billionaires and millionaires and/or their power equivalents?

      1. greenfire

        What if climate mitigation is possible only when we don’t have Capitalism? It’s a death cult clearly that attempts to monetize everything, including the lives of sentient beings. Sadly, the last things to be quantified have been things like intact ecosystems that provide drinking water and breathable air. What is the value of the one habitable planet that we know of?

  22. Gumnut

    Denmark sitrep:

    – the joys of being covid infected: just received email from Danish health authorities that if I were to be in a risk group (old, unvaxxed, diseased) I would be eligible for what is cryptically called ‘tablet treatment’. After clicking through several links, I finally found what this ‘tablet’ is:

    Molnupiravir (the Merck future revenues/VOC creater drug)


    Denmark today sporting record 34k cases (5.8k/1M for local comparison). And going for 4th shot for vulnerable people.

    1. ocop

      Oh lovely. Glad to see we are increasing mutation rate in a group more likely to be immunocomprised. That’s going to turn out well.

  23. Boris

    The Antidote: Strangely, it is often the interaction of humans and animals that make me think that everything does not really have to be as terrible as it is. Something good does exist, and we could let more of it into our lives. Today’s antidote is perfect in this regard because it does not only show a kind of surprising friendship, but also a bit of humor in it.

  24. chuck roast

    “Poorest countries face $11bn surge in debt repayments” FT

    I have read minor variations of this article 8,721 times in my life. I’m gonna’ change the title of the article so you can know what’s going on immediately without having to waste the precious time required to clean-out your belly-button lint:

    “Neocolonial countries face $11bn surge in debt repayments” FT

  25. skippy

    Still un-vaccinated but have modified behavior over the duration of covid and grabbed a new bit of kit – Sundstrom Pro Kit SR100/Sundstrom Filters – Gas Filter ABE1 315/x2 – 0,1 percent by volume = 1000 ppm coupled with a SR 510 P3 R particle filter that separates 99,997% of the particulate in the air.

    Replacing my old SR100 for a couple of 100 bucks, great fit, very comfy, you sound like Darth Vader talking, you can tell gawkers to stop looking at your ass [quick eye reflex look up thingy], and most important of all … wait for it … be a ***fashion leader*** … for the future[tm] …

    Imagine YS sporting one out and about … conniptions in the local would be epic …

  26. drumlin woodchuckles

    What a silly sub-headline that article about CDC burnout had.

    ” Inside the agency, a race is taking place. Can it stop the spread of Covid-19 before its staff wears out from exhaustion? ”

    The CDC is trying to spread Covid-19 on purpose. Maybe they will burn out from pretending otherwise.
    Maybe they will flee their posts if an aroused public catches on to the CDC’s real mission and makes its collective hatred known.

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