Links 1/4/2022

Whales Once Walked Along the Coasts of North America Smithsonian

Fossils Suggest an Aquatic Plant That Bloomed Underwater Was Among First Flowering Plants Plantings

Seattle amateur scientist helping to unlock the secrets of slime molds Oregon Public Broadcasting

How NFTs became a $40bn market in 2021 FT

On the Intraday Behavior of Bitcoin (PDF). The Ledger. From the first peer-reviewed journal on Bitcoin. Possible subject matter:

Repealing Section 230: Giving Mark Zuckerberg What He Wants? Dean Baker, Counterpunch (Re Silc).

The Creepy TikTok Algorithm Doesn’t Know You Wire

Climate

California’s Forever Fire ProPublica

#COVID19

When Three Shots Are Not Enough NYT

A third dose too much for seniors who have had COVID-19 (translation) Le Devoir (original). Moderna.

FDA authorizes Pfizer booster dose for 12 to 17 year-olds Center for Indectious Disease Research and Policy

A WHO official weighs in on Covid, vaccines, and mistakes that were made Helen Branswell, STAT. “Mistakes were made.” Really?

Covid-19: An urgent call for global “vaccines-plus” action British Medical Journal

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Leading Causes of Death Among Adults Aged 25 to 44 Years by Race and Ethnicity in Texas During the COVID-19 Pandemic, March to December 2020 JAMA. Commentary: “It’s an important piece of work because it counters a still pervasive narrative that COVID-19 is a disease of the elderly — that young people can shrug it off. True, fewer young people have died from COVID-19 than older people, but more young people have died from COVID-19 during the pandemic than from nearly any other cause.”

Decreased severity of disease during the first global omicron variant covid-19 outbreak in a large hospital in Tshwane, South Africa International Journal of Infectious Diseases. Conclusion: “There was decreased severity of disease in the Omicron driven fourth wave in the City of Tshwane, its first global epicentre.” Beware! South Africa’s population is very different from our own, both demographically and (at this point) immunologically.

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Explainer. Long Covid: why do some people have symptoms months after infection? FT

NY COVID Hospitalizations Top 2021 Surge Levels; Omicron Quintuples Risk of Breakthrough Cases NBC

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COVID-19: Workers Need Respirators American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (upstater). Handy guide. Meanwhile, CDC and the Administration continue shambolic:

Encouraging practice like this:

Because freedom!

Speaking of shambolic, read the sign:

Doublethink, or?

Newsom promised 6 million COVID tests for students. Only half have arrived LA Times

China?

Tesla Opens Showroom in China’s Xinjiang, Region at Center of U.S. Genocide Allegations WSJ

World’s largest trade deal is in force, but there’s still ‘work to be done,’ says Singapore minister CNBC. Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. China in, US out.

Myanmar

Myanmar confirms 1st 4 cases of Omicron variant of COVID-19 Xinhua. Porous borders with China, India, Bangladesh, Thailand, and Laos; Myanmarese migrant workers everywhere…

Pro-Military at Heart, Myanmar Ex-Minister Once Dubbed a ‘Reformer’ Reveals True Colors The Irrawaddy

Cambodia workers face court action over NagaWorld casino strike Nikkei Asia

The Koreas

First “I’ve never seen anything like this” of 2022:

How South Korean TV took over the world The Face

Syraqistan

How 19th Century Western Archaeologists Made Jerusalem a Zionist Dream Haaretz

South Africa: Parliament fire flares up again Maravi Post

UK/EU

Why Portugal Is So Compliant With Covid-19 Restrictions Forbes (Re Silc).

New Cold War

Ukrainian neutrality: a ‘golden bridge’ out of the current geopolitical trap Responsible Statecraft

Strategic Ambiguity and the Risk of War with Russia over Ukraine War on the Rocks

Asia and Eurasia in a Multipolar World Valdai Discussion Club

Prognosis For 2022: Cautiously Pessimistic – Part I Awful Avalanche. Part II.

The Caribbean

One shot dead in Haiti’s City of Independence during attack on Henry The Haitian Times

Biden Administration

Verizon, AT&T reverse course and will delay 5G expansions for two weeks as the FAA requested The Verge

Scoop: Biden plans to give Warren a win with Fed vice chair pick Axios

Democrats en Déshabillé

Omicron surge poses political peril for Democrats The Hill

Supply Chain

LA port pressures ocean carriers to remove empty containers faster Hellenic Shipping News

Global chip shortage: Engineer shortfall is the next big problem 9to5Mac (Re Silc).

New Year’s Post-Game Analysis

Happy New Year! Celebrate With Our 2022 Global Internet Map Telegeography

Pulp non-fiction: the worst business books of 2022 FT

The Groves of Academe

On Corsi boxes:

Administrators!

L’Affaire Jeffrey Epstein

Prince Andrew faces crunch week in United States sexual assault lawsuit Agence France Presse

Realignment and Legitimacy

The American polity is cracked, and might collapse. Canada must prepare Globe and Mail

The risk of a coup in the next US election is greater now than it ever was under Trump Lawrence Tribe, Guardian

Disney’s Hall Of Presidents Opens Exhibit Of Historic Shadow Leaders Who Really Ran Country The Onion

Class Warfare

Nurses ratify new contract, end nearly 10-month strike AP

Mathematicians Outwit Hidden Number Conspiracy Quanta

NASA’s Retiring Top Scientist Says We Can Terraform Mars and Maybe Venus, Too NYT. Oh?

Things are getting tense for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, literally Space.com. See NASA’s Where is Webb? for updates.

Antidote du jour (via AA):

AA writes:

In January 16, 2009 we had an unreal cold snap here on the SE coast of North Carolina. Living right at the ocean adjacent to a large tidal creek (Futch Creek) a group of 4 trumpeter swans briefly visited….. trumpeting their arrival in single digit temps. Had never heard such a call – before or since… I grabbed the Nikon and gloves and heaviest winter coat … heading out to the end of our dock to see what it was all about… You have the arrival … the visit… I thought it worthy to send along my wonderful encounter… In 2009 not sure “Polar Vortex” was a termed used in the mainstream media… have to believe it was a PV …

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.

113 comments

  1. Gumnut

    Denmark Omikron sitrep:
    https://files.ssi.dk/covid19/omikron/statusrapport/rapport-omikronvarianten-03012022-9gj3

    – Table 4: 91% of omikron cases are vaccinated. At an 81% population vaccination rate. Vaccinated risk-takers of negative efficacy?

    – Table 5: Omikron hospitalisaitons still rising, but still less than 5 in ICU (stable since the start of omikron 6-7 weeks ago).

    – Table 6: Risk of hospitalisations for omikron 0.9% (vs. 1.2 for other = delta)

    – NEW table 7: cases vs. vaccination status
    This one is a bit baffling. Very similar to table 4 (PCR, S-dropout determined I presume, n=48,000), but now cases based on ‘known’ variant (fully sequenced?, n =450). Here omikron is only 76% in vaccinated & 24% in unvaxxed. If table 4 disappears in future reports I call bs.

    – NEW table 8: age distribution: fairly even in entire working age, nothing sticks out as far as I can see

    – NEW table 9: mortality risk within 30days post test:
    Delta 100 deaths in 127k cases, Omikron 18 deaths in 56k cases (= ca. 1/3 vs. delta)

    – NEW table 10: baffles me what that does vs. table 9.

    Looks like Denmark is prepping the ‘it’s fine’ messaging.

    Reply
    1. Lou Anton

      Thanks as always for this, Gumnut! Looks like 9 is meant to compare the likelihood of death from other variants pre-omicron to the omicron phase, but you’re right, not much new info to glean from there.

      Glad you’re keeping an eye on the data from Table 5. Would be nice if they showed the trend there instead of point in time.

      Reply
    2. Nameful

      Table 4: 91% of omikron cases are vaccinated. At an 81% population vaccination rate. Vaccinated risk-takers of negative efficacy?

      It’s also possible that vaccination rate is non-uniform across the country (likely lower in rural and/or more isolated areas) and omicron is currently spreading in higher-vaccinated (urban) areas, where the rate is closer to 90%. Of course, the vaccinated risk-takers are quite likely if the official message was along the lines of “vaccinated == safe” …

      Reply
    3. JerryDenim

      “91% of omikron cases are vaccinated. At an 81% population vaccination rate. Vaccinated risk-takers of negative efficacy?”

      Definitely a fair question, but doubtful. I would lean towards believing vaccine uptake has been much higher among those who correctly estimate their own risk of contracting and experiencing severe illness from COVID, in other words the elderly, immunocompromised, front-line/public-facing workers, etc. hence the slightly higher infection statistics among the vaccinated. Those who are young, healthy and able to work from home are most likely over-represented among the 19% in Denmark choosing not to vaccinate, holding down the infection numbers among the unvaccinated cohort. Are ineligible children counted in that 81/19 general population figure? If so, that alone might explain the discrepancy- even with the Omicron variant kids are much less likely to be affected/symptomatic than adults. It certainly looks like vaccines offer zero to negligible protection from contracting Omicron, how much they mitigate the severity of the infection is the relevant question for those on the fence questioning whether or not to rush out and get a booster dose or even a first dose. My double-dosed and freshly boosted, cautious (relatively speaking), young, thin and healthy wife who has been working from home developed symptoms matching the Omicron MO and tested PCR positive on New Year’s Eve. Too bad she doesn’t have a unvaxxed twin or clone who could volunteer for a Omicron infection, perhaps we could get some answers.

      Reply
        1. JerryDenim

          Thanks Lambert! The “mostly mild for the boosted” narrative has been holding true for her. Today is day seven since her symptoms first appeared, so hopefully she will manage to test clear today.

          Reply
  2. Roger Blakely

    In Los Angeles County at the height of the wild type variant surge of January 2021 we had 20,000 positive tests per day. Over the weekend we had 45,000 positive tests. Currently we have indoor dining. Within the borders of the City of Los Angeles restaurants are required to check the vaccination status of customers. How could anyone realistically conclude that public health authorities are trying to stop the spread of the virus? You gonna get it.

    Reply
      1. John Beech

        We haven’t been to a restaurant in going on two years. May never again. Fortunately, I like to cook as do wife and daughter. And we all will occasionally take on the task so it doesn’t fall on any one of us disproportionately, plus we also don’t mind playing to role of sous-chef in the lead up. however, cooking is a family affair as when I designed our home’s layout, the kitchen plays a central role in the living space, which today is called open plan. So I am with Mikel in saying, we won’t get it because we were unwilling to cook for ourselves! Regardless, the information SARS-CoV-2 is airborne is not hidden and anyone with two spare gray cells can figure this out. As for the rest, there are both Darwin and Herman Cain Awards for good reason. In short, ‘people’ are stupid.

        Reply
        1. Arizona Slim

          Sotto voce: I’ve used the past two years as a golden opportunity to improve my health and fitness. This includes upping my cooking and gardening games.

          Oh, did I mention that I harvested a pomegranate the other day? It was cracked and I brought it inside, just to be merciful.

          Well, then came this morning. Off to the compost bin you go, pomegranate.

          Before I did that, I sliced it in half, and oh, my goodness. The inside was perfectly good — and delicious! I could only eat half because I just had to save some for later.

          Reply
      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I’ll be damned if I get it because I didn’t want to cook.

        Hmm. Go long cooking gear (U.S. made to avoid supply chain issues). Must be some manufacturer out there making first class metal pots in this country? And knives?

        Reply
    1. griffen

      In playing the video clip above, from the Florida surgeon general, it seems clear that he took a page from the NFL and testing professional athletes. Let’s just presume you got it, and test a little less. And if you should be unvaxxed or the one prominent instance of a QB that was “immunized”, we will merit a response depending on really, who you are.

      Florida is a fine state, for visiting. Really unsure I would choose to live there. But they are now competing with Texas in the race for number one libertarian utopia (no state income tax, et. al.). It’s as though we are headed to a hellish outcome, so buckle up and enjoy!

      Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      That is a good article that. Just the other day, some reader (whom I hope will speak up and take credit for it) linked to a video called ‘EP6 – Feeding the Colony on Mars’ which used simple maths to debunk Elon Musk’s idea of dumping a million people on Mars. For other videos by ‘Common Sense Skeptic’ about what would be actual required to colonize a place like Mars, here is a link to their videos. Spoiler alert – it ain’t easy-

      https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgKWj1pn3_7hRSFIypunYog/videos

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        The main impediment to “terraforming” Mars and/or Venus is the lack of long term thinking.
        Mars will take centuries to ‘adjust’ it’s ecology. Venus might well take a millennium. Both are technically demi-feasible.
        Realistically, what are the consensus prognostications for the climate here on Terra?
        Time to get cracking.

        Reply
      1. lyman alpha blob

        Based on some of the large scale geoengineering ideas you see floated to fix climate change, it’s clear some would like to use this planet as the guinea pig first.

        Reply
    2. Stephen V.

      What a relief! I knew we could figure this out. If only those who want to go could go without a taxpayer subsidy. But that’s not the world we live in…

      Reply
    3. Michael McK

      I have always felt it was silly, and dangerous, to talk of creating an ecosystem to live in elsewhere when we are well along in destroying the functioning one we were born in.
      Of course those pushing the concept are usually from the tiny minority most responsible for the mess we have made here.

      Reply
    4. lordkoos

      It boggles the mind that people still discuss this pipe dream, there are so many things that are not considered. The fact that humans evolved on earth doesn’t seem to penetrate. Just one example would be that since mars has only 1/3 the gravity of earth, anyone growing up there would have osteoporosis due to the lack of enough gravity to create strong bones. In fact it’s questionable that human children could develop at all under such conditions. I also wonder what influence the lack of earth’s lunar cycle would have…

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Plus, the Galactic Guardians who are already running the quarantine on the solar system would probably step in and prevent us from getting off planet, so we don’t terraform Mars and Venus the way we already terraformed Earth.

        Reply
        1. Scylla

          Mars has an extremely weak magnetic field as well, so people would be getting cancer out the wazoo. Earth’s magnetic field protects us from solar and cosmic radiation.

          Reply
  3. Lee

    “Omicron surge poses political peril for Democrats The Hill”

    While Biden is polling poorly on his handling of the pandemic, 48% approve vs. 45.4% disapprove, he’s doing considerably better than Trump: 38.9% approve while 57.1% disapprove. Trump not being on the ballot, and with effect of Republican electoral machinations in various states in the mix, I’m not sure what this portends for the midterms. Not that it will matter that much in terms of effective and benign policy or lack thereof. In tangentially related news:

    Poll Shows Americans Don’t Believe in “American Democracy” The German Marshall Fund of the U.S.

    They seem to think this is a bad thing while I take it as a great leap forward in consciousness raising. From the article:

    “Two decades ago, in a survey of seven advanced economies, the Pew Research Center found that a median of 47% liked US-style democracy and 40% disliked it. But the Trump presidency undermined that image. A recent Pew survey of the same nations found a median of 56%, including two-thirds of Japanese survey respondents, believe that while US democracy used to be a good example, it has not been so in recent years.”

    IIRC, ’twas Lambert who characterized the Trump presidency as ” clarifying”.

    The article goes on:

    “The challenge facing the United States is how to restore its international image and, more importantly, its own public’s faith in the functioning of American democracy—and, by extension, people’s trust in the government’s ability to solve their problems.”

    The challenge is one of “image” and “faith”. Really? Well, these folks have their heads firmly planted up where it doesn’t belong.

    But they got this one right: “The current struggle to reform American democracy is a partisan struggle masked by philosophical rationalizations. “

    Reply
    1. Katniss Everdeen

      What possible point could there be to comparing opinion “polls” on the “handling of the pandemic” between biden and Trump, given the tremendously different circumstances under which each man confronted the situation, except as an attempt to keep TDS alive? Trump. Is. No. Longer. President., and the landscape has changed considerably since he was.

      As to the Japanese views on american “democracy” (do they still have an emperor???) I would have to agree, although not for the reasons you seem to imply.

      While Trump was by no means perfect, his election over an entitled, insidious, neoliberal political machine willing and enabled to cross any line, tell any lie and break any law in its efforts to keep power, should have been celebrated as a triumph of american “democracy.” Instead, his presidency, such as it was, was sabotaged and nullified in blatant contravention to the constitutionally exercised will of the people by unelected bureaucratic zealots and payrolled pundits whose influence continues unchecked to this day.

      Yup. At this point american “democracy” doesn’t deserve to be “believed in.”

      Reply
    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > “The challenge facing the United States is how to restore its international image and, more importantly, its own public’s faith in the functioning of American democracy

      Cf. James 2:17, or, in the vulgate, “put up or shut up.”

      Reply
  4. Hacker

    3rd dose after Covid-19 anecdote.

    My 20 year old son got a Moderna borcester(1) yesterday. He has a fever of 101.5 and has been vomiting this morning. Prior infection from when he had to quarantine in a residence with others who had tested positive after what was surely a false positive test. His symptoms didn’t start until day 10. Two Pfizer shots prior. The borcester was required to return to school after the break.

    I don’t fault the school’s protocols. They’re doing the best they can with the limited information and resources at hand. I do fault the US medical system and government when, in this age of companies gathering tons on data on which things to show you in the click-feed to keep you clicking, there hasn’t been any attempt to broadly collect useful medical data for science. Our entire medical information system is around billing, not patient care. Might the 3rd dose be a problem for those in similar circumstances? It will take many many anecdotes and probably a few tragedies to get the system to see it.

    (1) He goes to Worcester Polytech Institute, that’s how we spell it in MA. :)

    Reply
    1. Otis B Driftwood

      I got the Pfizer double and then the Moderna booster. I had a reaction to both the second Pfizer (fatigue) and a worse reaction to booster (nausea, night sweats and chills) that lasted two days. You are right that there is no easy way to give this feedback, unless you have received this from your regular doctor. I didn’t and I expect the vast majority of people got theirs, like me, from a CVS or other pharmacy.

      However, you could let your son’s PC doc know. The states are tracking vaccine numbers already, and should be set up to receive reports of adverse reactions.

      I currently don’t have a PC or insurance, so my reaction doesn’t count.

      Reply
      1. lordkoos

        I had the same exact shots, with a bad delayed reaction to the second Pfizer, so I elected to take the Moderna booster a little over two weeks ago. Felt some discomfort the first 24 hours, then a couple of days after got sick with either a cold or a possible reaction to the shot, and have felt a little “off” on some days since although it seems to be improving. The booster also seemed to aggravate inflammation as I’m experiencing a lot of arthritic-type pain compared to last winter. Since the shots in Feb or 2020 I have definitely experienced some symptoms that are outside of my normal health concerns. Was tested three times this fall and winter, all negative.

        Reply
        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Maybe. This is the second authoritative-looking, ostensibly data-driven Covid website with extremely poor provenance that I’ve seen today. That is making my Spidey sense twitch.

          The data is from VAERS, which is not vetted or cleaned (“The reports are not verified.”*) Not to be foily, but if I were a very wealthy anti-vaxxer, I would prep VAERS by inducing bad reports on particular lot numbers. Then I would induce the creation of this site.

          Here is the VAERS checklist (PDF). Note that “VAERS will still accept a report even if you cannot provide all this information.”

          NOTE * Also, CDC is involved in running it. Multiple red flags, right there.

          Reply
    2. John Beech

      Very sorry for your son’s experience. hope all turns out well. Adding more anecdotal data, me (Moderna x3), my wife (Pfizer x3), and our adult daughter living with us (Moderna x3) have had zero ill effects beyond the sore arm at the injection site. Father (early 90s) and mother (late 80s), both Moderna x3 with no ill effects beyond sore arm. None suspected of having been infected at any time.

      Reply
    3. Andrew

      I do fault the US medical system and government when, in this age of companies gathering tons on data on which things to show you in the click-feed to keep you clicking, there hasn’t been any attempt to broadly collect useful medical data for science.

      Is this a joke? At my first vaccination back in April I was directed to sign up for v-safe, and I have received literally dozens of daily / weekly check-in reminder text messages where I go to their site and tap a link to say I feel fine.

      Reply
      1. Rod

        Me too. And I did.
        Daily inquiries for two weeks then gradually tapering to once a month.
        I thought everyone was directed (or automatically registered) to this until I began asking around(curiosity).
        Only one other of a dozen others knew the V-Safe site. And/or participated.
        But slackers liter my social circles more and more so I blew it off as this.
        Then my wife got boosted and started whining about after effects—and I (sympathetically) told her to report on her V-Safe link because info collection is critical.
        Hoo-boy.
        Let’s just say I had to pull up my V-Safe Account to prove it true and it was a thing.
        She googled it (because, well, um, ah,—I agreed—everyone should have a trusted source)
        Same with my chap.
        Over the Holiday visit, both agreed and expressed I was leaning into NC a little too much.

        Reply
      2. Greg Taylor

        Only a very small number of mild short-term reactions could be reported through v-safe. Options were presented as a checklist with no “other” open-response permitted. As an example, longer-term neurological issues, commonly reported through VAERS, aren’t possible to report with this tool.

        Reports through VAERS require a cell-phone number.

        Reply
      3. Yves Smith

        This verges on disinformation. From NBC last May:

        Covid vaccine safety system has gaps that may miss unexpected side effects, experts say

        Before the pandemic began, the Food and Drug Administration had scaled back a program it used successfully to track adverse events during and after the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, and the agency is still ramping up its replacement, said Dr. Robert Chen, scientific director of the Brighton Collaboration, a nonprofit global vaccine safety network.

        “It’s purely bad luck they were in between systems when Covid hit,” said Chen, who helped create the existing U.S. vaccine safety systems during nearly 30 years at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention….

        But other potentially dangerous, unanticipated reactions to vaccines may not be so obvious in VAERS, a system that is believed to miss many potential side effects — or in the nation’s additional monitoring systems, including the Vaccine Safety Datalink and the CDC’s new phone-based tracking program, v-safe.

        “It’s quite a hodgepodge of different systems of collecting data,” said Dr. Katherine Yih, a biologist and epidemiologist who specializes in vaccine surveillance at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. “It’s worth stating that it’s not as good as it could be.”

        https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/covid-vaccine-safety-system-has-gaps-may-miss-unexpected-side-n1265986

        In other words. VAERS is the primary system. Vsafe is tertiary. And they are poorly integrated.

        Moreover:

        The CDC’s v-safe vaccine program leaves out 60 million people

        Note the story above originally ran at Fast Company, and several sites violated copyright by reproducing it….which is fortunate since Fast Company pulled down the piece. I can’t see anything factually wrong (and our experience with the Washington Post shows that “factually wrong” is no obstacle to stories staying up and going uncorrected).

        There were also many reports early on about Vsafe crashing and not being able to provide data to the CDC. Oddly those don’t appear in search results. The scrubbing of the history is pretty striking. Oddly we can find evidence in our own backstage. From an April post, quoting IM Doc, who recall is in a very blue county that is now 80% vaxxed:

        Because of the novel nature of these vaccines, an app based system, VSAFE, was developed and widely implemented to report safety and side effect issues.  Unfortunately, I cannot even express the number of times patients in my office demonstrated that the app does not work – all that happened was the spinning blue ball.  In fact, when my own wife tried to report her side effects through the app, she gave up after 4-5 attempts. Never able to connect.  The whole experience reminds one of the last time the Feds tried computer apps – the disastrous Obamacare sign up.

        https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2021/04/the-cdcs-vaers-and-vaccine-complications-the-system-is-broken.html

        And I would never never never use a smartphone based system.

        Reply
      1. SKM

        thanks very much for that link – we kept NAC in our medicine chest throughout the pandemic (amongst other things!!)

        Reply
    4. ArcadiaMommy

      I am so sorry. I am pretty sure I had covid in March last year. I was too sick to contemplate the car ride for a test but had all the symptoms. Both of the shots made me very sick with all the symptoms except the cough for a couple of days. Fever, horrible nausea (morning sickness x 10), sore throat, aches and pains, exhaustion, and covid feet.

      Give it a day or two. Hope things will be better soon.

      Reply
    5. Bazarov

      I got the J&J booster after having two Pfizer doses as my “main” vaccination regimen. My theory went that J&J, being a different kind of vaccine than the mRNA type, might stimulate my immune system in a different way, leading to more robust protection.

      I have not had covid, as far as I know.

      The J&J booster caused the worst vaccine reaction I’ve had in my life. It fomented a fever of 102.8 with attendant body aches and chills. Waves of nausea overcame me, though by being very still I was able to avoid vomiting. I developed hives that came and went for a couple days after the other symptoms had ended. The rashes only went away after I decided to try to “nuke” them with Zyrtec, which seem to solve the problem entirely (perhaps by resetting my immune system to baseline?).

      Also, the J&J shot was much more painful going in than other vaccinations I’ve received.

      Reply
    6. JTMcPhee

      Moderna x 3, fever 100.5 with chills, body aches, for a week, fatigue still an issue, mental fog. Injection done by a pharm tech at Walgreens, I am a retired nurse but was not paying attention the moment she jabbed. She needled me way below the deltoid muscle, into the tendon that connects it to the humerus, leading to swelling almost double the regular size and pain level 4-5, plus extensive reddening of upper arm and hives.

      Called the pharmacy after I got home and told the pharmacist about apparently poorly trained tech doing the inoculations. Not much concern expressed. I wonder how many others?

      So many ways to screw things up, so many screw-ups to accomplish them…

      Reply
      1. Michaelmas

        On my third Moderna injection (Bay Area), I asked the nurse if she was going to aspirate the needle and then–when she looked at me–if she knew what aspiration was.

        She said as a trained nurse, she indeed knew what aspiration was. But CDC’s instructions were not to aspirate.

        Interesting. Like John Beech, I had perceptible no bad effects from any of my three injections. My arm wasn’t even noticably sore, really. This has been true for all my family, except one niece.

        Reply
        1. JTMcPhee

          I asked the pharm tech if she was going to aspirate (pull back on the plunger to be sure she was not in a vein or artery) and she gave the rote answer that you got — CDC says don’t aspirate. Would love to know what justification that broke-D3ck “agency” has for this — I was trained as a nurse to always aspirate except for shallow subcutaneous injections, to keep from injecting what are supposed to be “intramuscular” medications directly into the circulatory system, rather than having them slowly disperse through the muscle tissue and micro circulatory structures to the rest of the body. I recall a note here that such direct injection, which sends a big burst of the mRNA stuff directly to the organs, might be one reason a lot of people are having bad reactions and bad systemic sequelae.

          Reply
        2. lordkoos

          I got my Moderna booster three weeks ago in a supermarket pharmacy. There were two women giving injections so I asked the person who was to give me the shot if she would aspirate the injection. Neither woman even knew what I was talking about or had heard the term. She did as I asked without argument or comment, but I cannot believe the CDC is telling people not to aspirate — WTF is that about???

          Reply
  5. The Rev Kev

    “The American polity is cracked, and might collapse. Canada must prepare”

    If this happened and the Canadian Armed forces invaded America to burn Washington DC down like they did back in 1814, would the rest of America even try to stop them? But according to Democrats, it still not be as bad as what happened on January 6th.

    Reply
    1. mistah charley, ph.d.

      The burning of Washington was in retaliation to the burning of York — now Toronto. In Canada the War of 1812 is seen as the decisive defeat of the U.S.’s ambition to drive Britain from North America.

      Reply
    2. Michael Ismoe

      If our Canadian friends want to “greeted like liberators” then they best bring some nationalized health care with them when the cross the border.

      OTOH Justin Trudeau so totally reminds me of Mayo Pete that we best not put them in the same room at the same time.

      Reply
    3. flora

      But according to Democrats, it still not be as bad as what happened on January 6th.

      Just ask Adam Schiff. /heh (the poster child proving dimwits can do well as politicians. / heh )

      Reply
      1. Mildred Montana

        “Dimwit” is not in the IQ ranking system, but in politics, it’s OK to be a moron* (IQ 51-70) if everybody else is an imbecile* (26-50) or an idiot* (0-25).*

        *Much to the relief of Schiff et al, these classifications are now obsolete.

        Reply
  6. Jason Boxman

    More cluelessness from the NY Times.

    Ms. Ricks is one of many people with compromised immune systems in the United States who have sidestepped government guidelines and received unauthorized fourth or fifth shots.

    The C.D.C. estimates there are about seven million immunocompromised individuals in the country, but it is difficult to know who will benefit from additional doses, according to Dr. Robert Wachter, chair of the department of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

    He [Dr. Dorry Segev] said hundreds of patients in his study got unauthorized shots. “They’re acting out of desperation,” he said, adding, “Rather than say, ‘Shame on them,’ I would say, ‘Shame on the system we’ve created.’”

    Not surprising, as liberal Democrats have literally left those with compromised immune systems to die.

    Typically, doctors have discretion to use approved medications outside of their recommended uses — so a fully approved vaccine like Pfizer’s could normally be prescribed as doctors see fit.

    Except, apparently, IVM.

    Getting extra shots seems to have worked for some — to a degree. After Ms. Ricks’s fifth shot, her doctor sent her a note stating that she had developed a “moderate” antibody response but “still not a typical response.” She has continued taking extra precautions as if she is unvaccinated.

    Written by someone that’s been asleep for the past month, apparently. What part of “breakthrough infection” was lost on reporter Amanda Morris?

    I think in November the ‘Republican wave’ is going to rival the latest COVID wave.

    Reply
      1. Mikel

        And “immunocompromised” doesn’t have to be a permanent condition. You can expose yourself to things in the environment that can compromise an immune system from one day to the next.

        Another thing, have there been any recommendations about checking blood sugar levels before taking shots?

        Reply
    1. JBird4049

      >>>I think in November the ‘Republican wave’ is going to rival the latest COVID wave.

      A few years back I heard the writer Chris Hedges say something like the Democratic Party has gone conservative and the Republican Party insane. With the continuing crazification of the country, I think the Democratic Party has gone crazy, albeit like a deluded fox, but I’m not sure how to describe the Republicans except they are cunning enough to win elections.

      Reply
    1. fool's idol

      I don’t think that’s a reasonable characterization of that NYT article.

      To be sure, it points out several problems with noninvasive prenatal genetic testing as currently practiced, including:

      * many (but not all) companies that make the tests fail to provide adequate informational material on how the tests work and how their results should be interpreted
      * the bizarre fact that these noninvasive prenatal tests are apparently not subject to FDA regulation, which might at least provide more oversight over their documentation
      * many patients are not getting appropriate guidance from the MDs who suggest the tests, seemingly because the MDs themselves do not understand how to properly interpret the results

      But the underlying problem is that interpreting screening tests requires a modicum of statistical education that most people have never received.

      Patients generally seem to believe that a positive result on a test means that their baby will definitely have a major health problem. But this is absolutely not the case for a disorder with a low base rate in the population, as the NYT article explains, and which is a well-understood consequence of Bayes’s rule. Generally speaking, the only meaning to ascribe to a positive result on an initial test for a rare disorder is that additional testing is warranted.

      The 80-90% false discovery rate (proportion of total positive results which are false positives) discussed in the article is one measure of test performance, but it isn’t the only measure worth reporting for a test, and it isn’t the obviously “best” or “correct” measure, either.

      Any test will be calibrated (both in methodology and in the decision threshold) to produce a certain sensitivity (proportion of total positive cases in the population which the test identifies as positive) and specificity (proportion of total negative cases in the population which the test identifies as negative). These two quantities will interact with the base rate in the population to produce the positive predictive value (proportion of total positive results which are true positives) and negative predictive value (proportion of total negative results which are true negatives).

      Screening tests for catastrophic problems, like these prenatal tests, are usually designed so that they are exceedingly unlikely to produce false negatives – i.e., to miss the disorder if it is present. But because sensitivity and specificity are usually inversely correlated, this means that these tests produce more false positives than they would if they relaxed the requirement on the false negative rate.

      This effect is then magnified by a low base rate (even a 1% rate of false positives, for a disorder whose base rate is 1 in a thousand, yields about 10 false positives for every true positive found, assuming no false negatives), producing a low PPV (the 80-90% FDR quoted in the article) but a high NPV. (This high NPV is, presumably, the “sense of security” some of the companies rather irresponsibly promise in their promotional material. If the test comes back negative, you can in fact have high confidence that the baby doesn’t have the genetic disorder in question.)

      My point here is that the problem is not primarily one of fraud – the likelihood is that the tests themselves work as designed. The problem is that the advertising is incomplete and the documentation poor, and this interacts with the average patient’s (and MD’s) lack of statistical education to produce conclusions that are not sound, like “if this test is positive I should consider terminating the pregnancy.”

      As I said, there’s absolutely room here to blame the companies (though, as the article points out, not all are cavalier with their documentation), but even with perfect informational material, there’s still a dire need to (1) educate the public, because something heard twice is more likely to sink in than something heard once, and (2) to make sure that people who get these tests seek out advice from someone qualified to give it, which in most cases won’t be their GP or ob-gyn.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I’m not sure that releasing a test into a population that is utterly unequipped to interpret a false positive, and also full of fear for their children, is the most humane course of action*. (The goal could have been profit maximization, of course).

        All of the things you say ought to have been done were not done, obviously so. Either the Silicon Valley types were utterly ignorant of material realities for the population they were selling into, or they were psychos. Which do you think they were?

        NOTE * “Handing a baby a loaded gun.”

        Reply
        1. fool's idol

          That a profit motive exists isn’t really in question. That profit-seeking can drive unethical behavior among medical diagnostic providers seems equally unassailable. To say “this bad behavior exists, and the bad actors have a profit motive” doesn’t actually say much of anything.

          Your “which do you think” question is, presumably, rhetorical – you seem to suggest they’re “psychos.” I don’t work in biotech, but I’ve met a good number of people who do (and in Silicon Valley, to boot), and as far as I’ve seen, they’re more or less like everyone else. Some PhDs who just want to work on interesting problems. Some more PhDs who genuinely want to help people. A few idiot MBAs who think profit is everything. I’ll even admit to having met one or two MBAs who aren’t bloodthirsty idiots. And then lots of other folks who run the usual gamut of just bringing home a paycheck, or obsessing over personal sales goals, or wanting to help people. I wouldn’t call any (well, most) of them psychos. (I actually think you’re far closer to the mark than you realize – “utterly ignorant of the material realities for the population they were selling into” is absolutely a bad thing, don’t mistake me, but it describes a whole lot of biotech and tech pretty well. “Well, they should be better!” Agreed, now who’s going to tell them that? Maybe the FDA?)

          On a different point, even the NYT article itself suggests that it isn’t the case that “all of the things [that] ought to have been done were not done.” It points to one example company that does better than most in terms of patient education, saying that the company offers genetic counseling to patients with positive results, and includes data on its false discovery rate on patient results sheets.

          More could and should be done, but how much, and by whom? There are probably some of these tests which shouldn’t be performed as often as they are. But how much responsibility lies with the doctor who orders a test? They are, presumably, in the best position to know whether a test is indicated for their patient. They are, presumably, willing and able to read the available information on a test’s purpose, risks, and interpretation. They are, presumably, capable of noticing when there isn’t enough information available on a test to responsibly order it.

          I’m not trying to minimize blame cast on testing companies. They deserve to be blamed for their shoddy patient education efforts and misleading marketing materials. But “company bad” isn’t the beginning and end of the problem – “no regulatory oversight” and “doctors unqualified to handle this” are also important parts of the problem.

          Reply
      2. YankeeFrank

        Agree w/ Lambert’s point, and will add to my larger point above that what we’re seeing is this particularly Silicon Valley (SV) form of garbage “engineering” bleeding into much of our capitalist production. I have worked in software engineering at startups and the financial sector for decades and its getting worse all the time. Hype and over-promising on technology is a major problem. There are limits to the capabilities of science and engineering and the techno-utopian fantasies people indulge in (mass formation psychosis?), combined with the “move fast and break things” SV mentality have delivered us into the hands of hucksters like Theranos, genetic testing failures, Tesla’s garbage cars and now these mrna vaccines that not only don’t work very well but also cause great harm and death, are extremely dangerous.

        Reply
  7. John Beech

    Regarding Beenie babies, NFTs and bubbles, surely instead of laughing at NFTs you’ve pondered what laws regarding money laundering lead to, right? Need I explain the IRS and keeping records? For example, for your car, which you use for work, you may feel a pressing need to record every mile driven and justify it’s purpose, but if you are audited, a record may consist of a sheet of paper that says, January 600 miles for business, 35 miles for please, February, 485 business, 55 pleasure, etc. when presented will satisfy. Similarly, if you transfer $10,000 to Jimmy, they want to know and may ask questions – but – if Jimmy offers a pressed flower for $1,000,000 and said purchase is documented with a bill of sale, then they have nothing to say because they are not arbiters of good business. Before laughing, or shaking your head at ‘stupid’ people, maybe wonder instead at why things some come into existence, and how they may have a perfect use-case for other than the ridicule and wonderment of others, instead.

    Reply
    1. Return of the Bride of Joe Biden

      Beenie Babies were usefully cute and cuddly for children over 2?

      How’d I do?

      I still think Beenie Babies were stupid.

      Reply
    2. lyman alpha blob

      I think most NC readers have pondered those things, which is why for years anything blockchain/crypto-related has been called “prosecution futures” around here.

      Reply
  8. The Rev Kev

    “Prince Andrew faces crunch week in United States sexual assault lawsuit”

    This article is a bit dated now as the 2009 settlement between Giuffre and Epstein have been released. As it turns out, Prince Andrew is not even named in that document. There is a clause though tacked on to protect “Other Potential Defendants” from Epstein-related liability which includes royalty (indirectly), politicians, academicians, businessmen, and others allegedly associated with Epstein. Also, the clause takes effect ‘from the beginning of the world to the day of this release’ which sounds like legit legal language to me. It looks like Randy Andy is now between wind and water. On one hand, he is saying that he never met her in spite of that infamous photograph of Giuffre, Andrew and Maxwell together. Then on the other hand, he is saying even if he did get his leg over her, she signed a release to protect him from criminal charges. But Giuffre’s team argues that this was done for Florida, not for London where he did the deed. In all this, I wonder if the Mann Act ever came into all this. Of course if they went there, that might bring in Hillary’s husband into this-

    https://lawandcrime.com/high-profile/long-secret-jeffrey-epstein-settlement-at-issue-in-lawsuit-against-prince-andrew-made-public-for-first-time/

    Reply
  9. Elijah SR

    St. Vincent Hospital’s (read global giant Tenet Healthcare Corporation) capitulation to the nurses in Worcester, MA is a phenomenal win for labor. They spent an insane amount of money trying to union bust, hiring traveling nurses as scabs, but not enough to keep the lights on or the wards open. I’ve seen strikes crop up throughout the year (most recently in December) at other Tenet Healthcare hospitals. The leviathan can be beat!

    Reply
        1. Larry

          My pleasure. Google is absolutely worthless for finding stories like this. I don’t know if it’s because they compete with Substack or because their algos prefer to provide links from legacy media sources. Shaner used to write for the Worcester Telegram and Worcester Magazine and finally had enough with how his content was skewed to up and quit and write his own Substack.

          Twitter has it’s problems, but to me it’s the only good place to potentially discover individuals covering local problems in a serious way. That’s how I found and subscribed to Shaner originally.

          Reply
    1. John

      The mere idea of a “global giant” healthcare corporation strikes me as a perversion of the term healthcare. Corporation denotes, in thus benighted age, profit first before all other considerations. So where do caring. for health come into the equation?

      Reply
  10. The Rev Kev

    “A WHO official weighs in on Covid, vaccines, and mistakes that were made”

    I recognize this guy but whenever I see him giving some sort of press conference, his cheeks always appear to be a deep red. But this article here. Mistakes were made? Seriously? They want to go there? Like when the virus was exploding across the world and people were calling for the WHO to announce that it was an official pandemic. So the WHO actually removed the word ‘pandemic’ from their lexicon for several vital weeks. And they ran down masks. And until not that long ago they refused to consider that it was spread by aerosols and not by surface contact. Well, you get the idea and I am sure that other people could think of other examples. The leadership of the WHO has proven themselves not fit for purpose.

    Reply
        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > the chain of command

          I do not think that rule by the 1% (as distinguished from governance by the PMC) can be characterized institutionally or structurally as a “chain of command.” Matters are much more dynamic and indirect than that. (Society is not organized as a fractal system of hierarchies. When The Bearded One wrote in 1848 that “the executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie” he was at best tendentious*.) Of course, in a crisis, things correlate, including elites managing their various portfolios, but I think for the 1%, things are nowhere near that point. They are doing very well for themselves, thank you.

          NOTE Or, using the metaphor I have been using, the yarn in his diagram is too tight.

          Reply
  11. BrianH

    From Baltimore, the school administrators, state (not city) politicians and Hopkins’ experts gathered to tell the parents and students of the city that the only safe place for them is in city schools.

    https://baltimorebrew.com/2022/01/03/state-lawmakers-enlisted-to-defend-baltimore-city-school-re-opening-plan/

    When the parents and teachers spoke up in response through social media they were attacked by these experts, “experts” who of course know better than the real people on the ground.

    “ Many commenters had the same advice @crownejoules offered to Gronvall and Nuzzo [two Hopkins experts advising city administrators].
    “Shadow an elementary school student at a different BCPSS school each day for five days. Not any of the fancy~ schools, one of the older ones. See how kids wear and don’t wear their masks, how adults take them off to yell louder, how windows stay closed. Learn.””

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > “Shadow an elementary school student at a different BCPSS school each day for five days. Not any of the fancy~ schools, one of the older ones. See how kids wear and don’t wear their masks, how adults take them off to yell louder, how windows stay closed. Learn.””

      Was this done, do you know?

      Reply
  12. Gumnut

    I replied to another article regarding the 40% Indiana excess mortality looking at the excess mortality on https://ourworldindata.org/excess-mortality-covid

    Spent more time comparing to cases on https://www.endcoronavirus.org/countries

    A) For some countries the spikes relate clearly to spikes in covid cases: e.g. Slovakia, Romania, Poland, Slovenia, the US, Italy, Spain, Israel, Canada

    B) Then there are the ones with some bumps coinciding with case spikes (mainly 2020), but with a steady rise starting in Jan 2021 continuing to now: e.g. Austria, Thailand, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Greece, UK, Portugal, Sweden, Netherlands, (France, Taiwan)

    C) And then there are the ones with no/barely any bumps, just the rise since Jan 2021: e.g. Singapore, Denmark, Norway, South Korea, Finland, Japan

    D) Odd ones out:
    – New Zealand & Australia: 2020 lockdowns seems to have done wonders for not dying

    Group B suggests covid treatment got a lot better 2020 to 21 (case rise not translating to mortality rise), but both B&C have that trend going up in a gentle but steady line since Jan 2021. Either post-wildtype strains have worse delayed death properties or something else started in Jan 2021 around the world (year of the ox?).

    Alternative perspectives?

    Reply
  13. Pat

    So NYC’s new mayor has determined that we can defeat Covid 19 with swagger!

    Okay that is some slight hyperbole, but with his statements and with the “we don’t need no stinking quarantines” standards on exposure he and the new chancellor have instituted that is pretty much the situation. Sure when we reach some X percentage of positivity they will go with the science and mandate boosters for 5 year olds. Between this, the unbelievable 911 report on his first day and the Bitcoin nonsense, I may even grow to miss Bloomberg not jus DeBlasio before the month is out.

    All our elected officials got swagger!

    Reply
  14. upstater

    Covid Science: Virus leaves antibodies that may attack healthy tissues (Reuters)

    Coronavirus leaves survivors with self-attacking antibodies

    Months after recovering from SARS-CoV-2 infection, survivors have elevated levels of antibodies that can mistakenly attack their own organs and tissues, even if they had not been severely ill, according to new findings.

    Among 177 healthcare workers who had recovered from confirmed coronavirus infections contracted before the availability of vaccines, all had persistent autoantibodies, including ones that can cause chronic inflammation and injury of the joints, skin and nervous system. “We would not normally expect to see such a diverse array of autoantibodies elevated in these individuals or stay elevated for as long six months after full clinical recovery,” said Susan Cheng of the Cedars-Sinai Smidt Heart Institute in Los Angeles. Patterns of elevated autoantibodies varied between men and women, the researchers reported on Thursday in the Journal of Translational Medicine.

    Reply
    1. notbored

      I’ve been speculating for a while that declining antibody levels might be, in the case of Covid, a feature, not a bug, of the immune system. In that case, might continual attempts to keep them boosted be harmful?

      This was also interesting to me:

      Memory B cells’ robust ability to proliferate and produce antibodies might compensate “in less than two days” for those antibodies’ reduced effectiveness, they speculate. from Covid Science: Virus leaves antibodies that may attack healthy tissues (Reuters).

      Reply
  15. Dr. John Carpenter

    The Great Beanie Baby Bubble is a great book. When I read it, it still seemed like a fairly isolated thing, an example of an early Internet driven bubble. I had no idea it was really going to be a blueprint for going forward. I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who mentally swaps things like bitcoin, NFTs, etc. into the story and if the narrative still makes sense, then I know what I’m looking at is a bad thing.

    Reply
  16. Jeanine

    “The risk of a coup in the next US election is greater now than it ever was under Trump”

    The Democrats are the MIC’s best friend.

    These constant coup possible stories are being planted to soften up the people to accept a military coup against the Republicans after they sweep everything.

    Reply
    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Agreed.

      A year has passed since Donald Trump’s attempted coup and his supporters’ violent storming of the United States Capitol on 6 January 2021, in a nearly successful effort to prevent Congress from certifying Trump’s decisive loss of the election to Biden.

      “…nearly successful effort…”

      Have you ever heard such hysterical garbage in your life?

      And this fool is still allowed on twitter to cheer the permanent cancellation of Marjorie Taylor Greene for “disinformation.” jeezus h. christ

      Laurence H Tribe is the Carl M Loeb University professor emeritus and professor of constitutional law emeritus at Harvard University and an accomplished supreme court advocate

      If the military coup against republicans materializes, this delusional creep is going to be preaching the gospel of american democracy from his “emeritus” perch at harvard, and channeling the “framers’ ” intentions that only democrats shall ever be elected. Because Trump.

      Reply
    2. Pelham

      I suppose anything really is possible.

      I noted, however, the author’s tendency to directly ascribe certain anti-democratic developments to the far right (fair enough) but then describe other anti-democratic elements as if they were unavoidable acts of nature rather than traceable to deliberate actions by Democratic presidents (NAFTA, PNTR for China, financial deregulation under Clinton, continued and extended under Obama).

      That said, it was a thought-stimulating piece with which I would nonetheless differ on a number of points. For one, if Trump were to win decisively in 2024, I think there’s a chance things overall would calm down. The Dems at that point might simply be disheartened, while Trumpists would be satisfied. And Trump himself would probably be content to just ride out the four years since he has no demonstrated commitment to any political agenda other than his own glorification.

      Reply
      1. lance ringquist

        who is more dangerous, the GOP which knows everything they spew on economics is complete nonsense and they know it.

        or nafta billy clinton democrats who actually believe all of the economic nonsense of the GOP?

        Reply
    3. John

      In their bumbling way the Democrats challenged Trump’s victory in 2016. It did not rise to the level of 2020, but successive close elections have been declared fraudulent by the losers. 2024 may also be close. Now that the precedent that if-I lose-it-must- be-fraud has been set of course there will be speculation and scare stories. One question? Which part of the military forces is going to carry out the coup? Are you sure you can assemble a force sufficiently dedicated to one side or the other with leadership willing to literally stake its neck on the outcome? Using force to reverse the outcome of an election qualifies as treason. Of course:

      “Treason doth never prosper. What’s the reason?
      Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason.”

      This from the inventor of the first water closet. The origin kind of sets the tone for the entire exercise.

      Reply
    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > These constant coup possible stories are being planted to soften up the people to accept a military coup against the Republicans after they sweep everything.

      Not if RussiaGate is any guide. Intelligence community + the press made the running there, not the military. I don’t see a strong military component in the Democrat Party.

      Reply
  17. Jessica

    Responding to Darthbobber in yesterday’s Water Cooler
    1) The real problem with the left and the “middle class” (or more accurately the professional managerial class, its aspirants, and those struggling against their proletarianization from that class by clinging to its cultural norms) is the lack of an analysis of what the actual function of the PMC is nowadays.
    The main job of the PMC is to obscure the class realities of current society. In order to do that job, members of the PMC must obscure to themselves what their real function is. Thus, the absence of an analysis of how the PMC currently functions is not an accident. It is a product of the very nature of the contemporary PMC.
    This occlumency function (in Hogwarts terms) is somewhat new and is increasing in intensity. Workers in major propaganda institutions (NY Times, ad agencies, university administration) have long served this obscuring function. However, increasing the PMC serves not to present the current system in a positive light so much as to simply obscure things altogether. There has been a proliferation of NGOs and the like into a complex web of PMC occlusion and this web has been professionalized to ensure ideological conformity (i.e. not-seeing). Even professionals who formerly provided useful technical functions are increasingly forced into the world of not-seeing. An example would be the shift of MDs from independent professionals to employees of private equity firms whose decisions are much determined by insurance companies.
    PMC and PMC-adjacent folks, however well meaning, who do not understand exactly what they have been trained for will strongly tend to replicate what they have been trained for, even if sometimes in novel ways. And remember that the whole point of those long years of PMC education is precisely that they not understand what they really are.
    Woke culture is a linchpin of this process in which PMC and adjacents sincerely believe that they are working for change but actually do exactly what they were trained for: obscure reality on behalf of the really powerful and to the detriment of those they claim to be working for.
    This is one of the main reasons why there is no actual left in the US at the moment.

    2) Karl Marx’s father was in the top 10% of income in his home town. He went to university at a time when a vanishingly small percentage of men did. (No women then). He married a bourgeois woman and they lived a bourgeois life style his whole life (with servants), though much of the time in genteel poverty. Engels’ father owned a factory and he ran that factory for years. Can’t get much more bourgeois than that. Engels’ factory managing is what paid for much of Marx’s writing.
    Marx did not start from the misery of the working class, then look for how to free it. He started from the liberatory ideas and looked around for an agent to carry them out. He had one agent in mind – the German intellectual elite if I remember correctly – and after he gave up on them (by his mid-20s or so), he then looked to the working class.
    Not sure about Lenin, but I do believe that his older brother being executed for trying to assassinate the tsar lowered his family’s social status considerably.
    Mao was at least an upper-middle peasant. Zhou En-Lai studied in Paris. Ho Chi Minh was a scion of the traditional Vietnamese mandarinate which only been displaced a generation or so when he was born. He also studied in Paris.

    Reply
    1. Alphonse

      I’m currently reading Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue. It starts as an argument about the philosophy of ethics, but turns into a critique of technocracy.

      MacIntyre argues that the Enlightenment produced incoherent morality. Before then, morality had three foundations:

      1. A concept of human nature.
      2. A concept of what an ideal (good) human being should be, defined by religion.
      3. Ethical actions that move a person from the first to the second.

      Thinkers of the Enlightenment, MacIntyre says, discarded the second of these as superstition. The reason for ethics, the third point, is thus lost – but they wanted to retain most existing ethical principles. They needed a new justification. Attempts were made to justify ethical actions rationally, but these failed. They then retreated into a conception of ethics as individual preferences.

      The result is a society that severs means from ends. Ends are the concern of ethics, but they cannot be rationally determined. Ends can therefore no longer justify means, which in turn become (supposedly) neutral with respect to ends. They require as different justification: efficiency. But management doesn’t really do what it claims. Its powers of prediction and planning are weak (“no-one could have predicted the financial crisis!”) So maybe it’s just a con, a mask to obscure the real function of management in a technocratic society:

      the belief that managerial authority and power are justified because managers possess an ability to put skills and knowledge to work in the service of achieving certain ends. But what if effectiveness is part of a masquerade of social control rather than a reality? What if effectiveness were a quality widely imputed to managers and bureaucrats both by themselves and others, but in fact a quality which rarely exists apart from this imputation?

      . . . what would it be like if social control were indeed a masquerade? Consider the following possibility: that what we are oppressed by is not power, but impotence; that one key reason why the presidents of large corporations do not, as some radical critics believe, control the United States is that they do not even succeed in controlling their own corporations; that all too often, when imputed organizational skill and power are deployed and the desired effect follows, all that we have witnessed is the same kind of sequence as that to be observed when a clergyman is fortunate enough to pray for rain just before the un-predicted end of a drought; that the levers of power—one of managerial experitse’s own key metaphors—produce effects unsystematically and too often only coincidentally related to the effects of which their users boast.

      Were all this to be the case, it would of course be socially and politically important to disguise the fact, and deploying the concept of managerial effectiveness as both managers and writers about management do deploy it would be an essential part of any such disguise.

      MacIntyre wrote in 1984. With the financial crisis, the efficiency of management has demonstrably failed. With it, the existing justification for technocracy evaporated. Wokeness takes is the next logical step. It supplies a moral justification for management. Maybe management isn’t efficient: but it is ethically necessary.

      The Covid response is the extreme example of management means run amok.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > After Virtue

        I read After Virtue years and years ago. That’s a very interesting snippet to hoist. Although as some sort of combination animist/atheist, I don’t have a lot of sympathy for advocating immaterial being(s) in #2 (though possibly cray cray, I do believe that good and evil are material; if they were not, it would not be adaptive to sense and act upon them (either way, sadly)).

        Reply
  18. Mantid

    Regarding “An urgent call for global “vaccines-plus” action”. Milquetoast. They suggest a few obvious, and effective deterrents – but nothing about cheap, simple aids to health: No Vit D, C, Zink, Ivm, Quercitin, simple mouth wash/nasal cleansing….. Perhaps, they don’t really want to rock the boat and upset their funders – or lose their jobs. Dr.s Korey and Merik (of FLCCC fame) are both without jobs because of their stance on early treatments that are and were effective. The authors want to walk on eggshells while seeming to care, but are reluctant to come out and say anything shattering to the powers that be. I laughed when reading that the first author, Trisha Greenhalgh is at Oxford. Now of course some of my best friends are from Oxford – but isn’t it Oxford the institution that couldn’t secure enough Ivermectin to continue their study on it’s effectiveness?

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    1. Grebo

      Yes, it’s fine as far as it goes, which isn’t very far. No mention of self-testing + self-isolation + compensation either.

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  19. TBellT

    Re : And Encouraging Practices Like This

    Babies being handled by a symptomatic covid positive nurse, what was even the point of 2020….

    I’m also reminded of the late-2000’s pop culture moment of 300 and right wing adoption of “Molon Labe”. Is the apocryphal story about throwing babies off the cliff also in the works?

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  20. Expat2uruguay

    You could look at the numbers for the small country of Uruguay, which closed its borders within days of the pandemic arriving here in March 2020. We had one big wave of cases, and it coincided coincidentally with the period of vaccinations. Cases have been low here for several months and are finally now Rising with a doubling time of 6 days. Most of our population received the Chinese vaccine, sinovac for the first doses, however about 30% received Pfizer for the first two doses. We currently have over 75% double dosed and 43% Pfizer-boosted, based on the population over 12 Our secret seems to have been the closing of the borders, done very quickly, combined with an aggressive tracing program and free testing of new cases. We were not very successful with any kind of treatment program, basically just following the US model of doing nothing much. So we have a pretty high death rate relative to the number of cases. 6000/4170000 in a population of 3.5 million. We never had a lockdown, and workers we’re compensated marginally until they could go back to work, and schools reopened rather quickly. The government here has enabled a model of responsibility and responsiveness in the populace.

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  21. Wild Bill

    On booster reactions – I got 2 pfizer shots in February, a full moderna in August and a 50% moderna booster in late December. Experienced minor reactions to #’s 2 and 3 and a strong reaction to #4. The reaction to # 4 lasted 4 or 5 days and included nausea, loose bowels and fatigue. It was much worse than #’s 2 and 3 although I had fever with 2 and 3 but not 4. (I’m 82 and do not want to get covid.)

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