2:00PM Water Cooler 4/11/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Patient readers, I must finish up a post on the Gridiron debacle, and so this is an open thread. Sorry! –lambert

Back to comedy for a moment; I thought this was hilarious before I had ever been to an Episcopalian service:

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Contact information for plants: Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, to (a) find out how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal and (b) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Via TH:

TH writes: “Pretty little yellow . . . marigolds?” I think they’re pretty too, but I don’t think they’re marigolds. However, this gives me the chance to remind readers that when you are planning your garden, marigolds are good companion plants for tomatoes.

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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. DJG, Reality Czar

    Interesting column by Domenico Quirico in today’s LaStampa: He reminds us that before this war Ukraine was a poor, wildly corrupt country with a B-list oligarchy. Quirico points out that Putin’s gift to Ukraine is a foundation myth. In a sense, the war has turned into a war of independence, all very romantic.

    So Zelensky may be a moderately talented actor–but great at Zoom speeches to large groups (although I wouldn’t mention it to the Greek Parliament)–yet he’s using social media in just such a way. And I recall that some countries became nations by losing war after war–Catalunya comes to mind.

    Also, after the induced breakup of Yugoslavia, I recall reading an essay about how the Slavic world is still involving into distinct nations. Think of the more pacific breakup of Czechoslovakia. In Yugoslavia, what went on is the further division of Serbian, Croatian, and Bosnian, once more or less the same language, into three separate languages. The language politics of Ukraine–banning of Russian–is part of it.

    1. Louis Fyne

      if you look at the videos from Ukrainian and Russian sides of the Ukrainian army, what is striking is that the vast majority of UA front-line combat soldiers are middle-aged, over 35+!

      Seemingly much of Ukraine’s young men left to work in the EU or Russia long before the war. The NYT ran a story about the young evading conscription.

      I don’t blame them…the conscripts and UA contract soldiers merely wanting a job are fighting for their oligarchs and DC policy aims.


        1. jsn

          Always the story.

          Wars are for psychotic elites and against humanity.

          Göring: “Why, of course, the people don’t want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.”

          Gilbert: “There is one difference. In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.”

          Göring: “Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.​”

          1. The Rev Kev

            ‘In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.’

            It was a simpler time…

            1. jonboinAR

              Yes. People trusted what the mouthpiece of the government, I mean, the press, told them.

            2. JBird4049

              Yes, we never have war anymore. The last declaration of war was eighty years ago. We just have a police action or an authorization of force. Strangely, the dying is about the same.

              1. jonboinAR

                It hasn’t been so bad. We’ve been able to make sure that 95% of the dying is done by the other side. And with a volunteer-only army, the bad stuff that is brought home we’re able to nicely abstract. Getting the whole thing to end, once started, has been a little problematic.

                1. Josh E.

                  I’m looking at homeless stats because there is a potential project near my house and I want to make sure they build the right thing.

                  58% of the homeless are vets. Most of them have physical and mental disabilities. Austin has about 1M people and maybe 5K homeless or near homeless people so ~ 0.3% are homeless vets.

                  US has 400M people and 1.3M active military. About the same.

                  The housing problem in Austin looks largely to be a byproduct of the endless wars of the Empire.

                  1. JBird4049

                    >>>The housing problem in Austin looks largely to be a byproduct of the endless wars of the Empire.

                    The entire homeless crisis is, I think, is a result of the Empire’s focus on Profit! above all else. The wars are profitable for the Empire’s Elites, even though the citizens are suffering. But we don’t count to them. Most of the country has a problem. Coastal Blue and inland Red both have the problem.

                    San Francisco has an official population of 873,965 with a probable homeless population of around 15,000 or 1.7% California has 39 million people and over 150 thousand homeless or 0.39% Then there is Los Angeles’ skid row. Fifty blocks with five thousand people. A lovely place to visit. Trust me.

                    In the entire country, there is roughly a million homeless at any one time. Many Americans cycle through homelessness and homed over and over. For my entire adult life homelessness has been growing and growing. It is insane.

                    However, the politicians, the developers, and now the investors buying all the housing stock, it is very profitable. Money is our country’s god apparently with its citizens only worth is being rendered into profit. As much as our American nation might, no, will suffer, I am almost eager to see what Nemesis has ready for our hubristic elites. This is sad and pathetic, but it is also true.

          2. Glen

            Today while listening to The Duran’s analysis of the French elections, one of them stated something I had not considered that basically neoliberalism and facism are if not the same, then very similar.

            1. liam

              From: https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/the-supermanagerial-reich/#!

              Yet, for all this talk of fascism in the air, it’s remarkable how much we have come to accept predominantly ideological and psychological — as opposed to formally political and economic — frames for our arguments. Few people want to talk about how fascist societies like Nazi Germany actually functioned, how they were built, who made them work, and why. But when we do, a much sharper image emerges, in which an idiosyncratic economic and political structure is more clearly visible.

              In Nazi Germany, economic history shows us a rapid change in the distribution of income and the emergence of a managerial elite who obtained an outsized share of national income, not just the now-proverbial one percent, but the top 0.1 percent. These were Nazi Germany’s equivalent to today’s so-called “supermanagers” (to use Thomas Piketty’s now-famous term). This parallel with today’s neoliberal society calls for a closer examination of the place of supermanagers in both regimes, with illuminating and unsettling implications.

              I obtained this from a Water Cooler a few(?) years back. I’ve linked to this before, and will in most likelihood link do so again. It is an excellent exposition of where we are vis-a-vis where we were. And I think it really should be read by everyone.

        2. jo6pac

          No their not.

          Aren’t the Russian counterparts also just fighting for their oligarchs and Kremlin policy aims?

          Russian conscripts are never on the front line. They only help in the back ground in Russia.

          Russian people have a not so nice relationship with ukraine and German Nazis. The Russia soldiers are protecting the Mother Land from them and Amerikas neo-conn. You might be surprised by Russian citizens that know the battle is for their country. The Amerikan govt. and friends in neo-conns think tanks are of the mind we need to run the world.

          I would rather spend half of Pentagons war money on us on Main Street

            1. Skippy

              How many billionaires [cough oligarchs] does the U.S.A. have again – ????? – and remind me … what SCOTUS Citizens United = $$$$$ = VOTE denotes. Ummmm the Financial Elites have more say in all aspects of Governance than the meat popsicle some call voters ….

              And yet some, apparently, have to look half way across the globe to wobble on about extremely wealthy people telling a government how to set policies.

              As YS notes Putin was ready to go to war with the Russian BSD appointed by the Harvard Boys, before his day, heck it was pretty frisky there for a bit. Yet at the end of the day an understanding was had, your mother is Russia don’t screw with it for personal gain, and have fun with your international dealings.

              Here is the cog/dis part of it all … Putin basically did an FDR move yet some in the West never ever want to see that occur again because it threatens the neoliberal narrative and the control it affords them for personal gain.

        3. christofay

          And American soldiers well into their middle ages engaged in the Groundhog Day wars too are just fighting for our oligarchs.

          1. The Rev Kev

            As has been said a long time ago, American soldiers are supposed to be fighting for justice and liberty but are really fighting for Dow and Jones. Smedley Butler wrote about this too some eighty-five years ago.

        4. Yves Smith

          Wowsers, you really know nothing.

          1. Putin pushed the oligarchs out of having political influence. That was the deal. They keep their businesses but don’t meddle.

          2. The Western sanctions v. the oligarchs was one of the best things the West could have done for Putin. Further reduced their remaining influence.

      1. LawnDart

        “If it isn’t a famine, political repression, natural disasters or genocide, then it’s a bloody war,” declares right-wing anti-immigration campaigner and Tory back bencher Howard Rowley-Trussock, responding to calls for the government to make it easier for refugees from the current conflict in Ukraine to come to the UK.

        “I mean, the Russians have only invaded a small part of Ukraine – they’ve still got the rest to live in where there are no tanks or bombs being dropped,” he argued. “Besides, can they honestly say that life under the Russians will be any shittier than it is anyway – we’re talking about bloody Ukraine, after all!”


  2. Mildred Montana

    Since it’s an open thread, I will take the opportunity to flog my favorite ???? ?????.

    How’s that Trump investigation going, Merrick Garland? It’s now fifteen months since Jan. 6/21. Is inciting a riot not a crime? Is an attack on the Capitol at the behest of the former President, with the intent of overturning election results, not treasonous?

    I get the feeling, Merrick, that you are trying to run out the clock. When the upcoming and expected mid-term debacle for the Dems arrives, you can credibly and probably will say that I—we—no longer have the support of the people. ?????’? ??????? ?? ??? ??.

    Is that what you’re waiting for, Merrrick?

    1. Michael Ismoe

      You can bring all the charges you want. How are you going to convict him? Half the country thinks he’s Benedict Arnold and the other half think he’s Arnold Schwarzenegger.

      “Juror Number One, please tell us for whom you voted in 2020.”.

      Some countries aren’t “lucky enough” to be able to call martial law because there’s a traffic jam on a bridge.

      1. Fuzz

        Trump is looking pretty good about now.

        He never started even one war,
        Covid was handled better by him than with Biden, unless you can point to the Biden equivalent of Operation Warp Speed?

        1. jonboinAR

          I give Biden a million bucket-loads of credit for this: he ended the Afghan War, something that the last 60 (or something like that) presidents couldn’t seem to do. And I could give a hoot less about how gracefully or ungracefully he brought it about. But he’s seriously burning up all of that good will with his belligerent talk about Russia and Putin. And if the US never “sanctions” another soverign state again, it will be too soon for me.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            If these sanctions are pushed hard enough long enough, they may finally become self-canceling and may break all the sanctions-tools in America’s sanctions’tools toolbox. If that happens then America will never sanction anyone/anything again for a long time, or maybe ever.

            1. WobblyTelomeres

              That will happen the exact same day that the US dollar ceases being the world’s reserve currency, no?

    2. Glossolalia

      I still maintain that there’s a gentleman’s agreement in DC to not prosecute the previous administration in return for the next one not prosecuting yours.

  3. marym

    SBWorkersUnited @SBWorkersUnited
    Commonwealth Ave WINS their union election UNANIMOUSLY, becoming the FIRST Starbucks store in MA to unionize!

    The Coolidge Corner Starbucks store also WINS their union vote UNANIMOUSLY, becoming the second unionized Starbucks store in Massachusetts and the 18th unionized Starbucks store nationwide! That makes 18/19 wins :)


  4. Anand Shah

    In many ways, this war seems to be a projection of the PMC on one side, and the organizational cogs of the wheel on the other…

    1. jonboinAR

      Speaking of X-Files, remember the deliciously satirical episode about the gated community that hires a demon to enforce the neighborhood covenants?

  5. LaRuse

    Open thread? Anyone interested in hearing what it is like to buy a new car these days?
    I was in a really awful car accident on March 23 – a red light runner crossed right in front of me in a major intersection. I t-boned her car and completely destroyed our 2018 Hyundai Elantra. I loved that little car and I believe it saved mine and my daughter’s lives because a 40 MPH collision is not a joke. We walked away with minor injuries and a whole lot of generalized pain for a week and a half or so.
    Other driver’s insurance took full liability for my totaled car. So it took 5 days for a rental car to even be available; there are just no rentals available aside from at airports these days apparently. Okay, fine enough. I was not up to driving anywhere for a few days post-wreck anyway.
    I was committed to getting another Elantra because of how impressed I was with the way it held up in the wreck and I wanted to keep car shopping simple. So I started looking at pre-owned inventories…except there weren’t many options. Nothing local. I just wanted a late-model (2019 or newer) Elantra with less than 30K miles so I could come close to what I had lost. I could find some further afield and have them shipped to me, but I am not yet prepared to buy a used car sight unseen. And besides, those cars were running about $22-$25K and we are talking 2019-2020 models. I was seeing 2022 Elantras selling for $24K. There were cheaper ones, closer to $20K, but most of them had 60-80K miles on them.
    So we shifted our mindset. Yesterday we went to the dealership we bought the 2018 car from. The didn’t have a single model, new or preowned, on the lot. The dealer said he was getting in 6 Elantras on the 28th, but of the 6, 4 were already reserved leaving an SEL model (basically the exact same as what we lost) and a Limited model (leather seats, sun roof, and other fancy features) available. The difference in price between the top of the line and the middle of the road models was like $3K.
    We noodled on it overnight. Since eventually we will get a check that will cover the substantial portion of the lost Elantra, we have money in savings, and I am getting a few thousand in for the bodily injury claim, we decided to say what the heck and go with the Limited. If the 2018 was my husband’s midlife crisis car (it was a huge deal to him to buy his first brand new car back then), then this being the 40th year of my existence and since I dang near died destroying the old car, I am calling this one my midlife crisis car.
    To put our name on it, we signed the quote (which after factoring in title, taxes, and tags, among other fees, put the cost over $30K!) and sent the dealer a $500 deposit.
    As long as no other ships sink, my Elantra should be here by the end of the month. I am lucky to only have a three week wait for my replacement car. I know one couple that decided to get a new Santa Fe late last year and their wait was like 3 months.
    I cannot express how stressed out I am to spend that kind of money on a car. I can appreciate that we will pay it almost entirely off within the next month once we get that insurance check, but…seriously, if my own little car had not radically appreciated in value from the $16,500 we paid for it in 2019 and an insurance company wasn’t stroking me a check for over $20K, I have no idea on earth how we would get a car if we were in dire need today.
    Things are really not okay out there.

    1. Louis Fyne

      for anyone else in a similar situation, if it possible in any way, get a new car as used car prices are insane when compared to the mechanical fair value of a used car.

      Obviously this means that one will likely have to wait for a new car.

      but if there is any way you can work out the finances and having no car for weeks/months, go new…

      paying only $4k more for a new car versus one with 60,000 miles is a no brainer

      and in normal times, i am very leery of 6, 7 year car loans, but given inflation, future rising rates and current relatively low rates, getting a 6 year car loan is much more reasonable than it used to be.

      1. Lar

        Exactly. Buying used at the prices we were looking at was just dumb. And that dealership we use doubles Hyundai’s 100K/10 year powertrain warranty to make it 200/20 year. So since we normally keep cars between 15-20 years (I have a 2002 Ford F-150 in the driveway right now, and my last minivan lasted from 2004 to 2019), it makes it worth it to buy new right now. But the wait is legit.

        Gak – that was LaRuse – original poster – autofill got the best of me. Mods, you can delete if you want. I can repost later.

        1. WobblyTelomeres

          > Exactly. Buying used at the prices we > were looking at was just dumb.

          Or desperate.

        2. polar donkey

          If buying a Hyundai,get it new if prices are similar to a used one. Note, Hyundais are fine till about 100,000 miles. Around 100,000, many Hyundais get an engine fault code and that code is either a simple fix or an engine replacement. Unfortunately, a high percentage is engine replacement. My brother-in-law works at a used car lot and has replaced many Hyundai engines. My nephew is a mechanic as well in and said the exact same thing unprompted.

      2. Mikel

        Trust. Alot of the newer cars with good mileage will soon be available as used.
        Sub-prime lending is still big in the car market – no matter the handful of good deals from a few banks.
        And even if that may not be the case, austerity is coming.

    2. RockHard

      Wolf Richter has covered the mess in cars extensively over at WofStreet. This aligns with what he’s saying – basically the new car market is warped due to shortages and the used car market has gone completely haywire, with used models often getting higher prices than new. He had an article to that effect just last week

    3. Mikel

      “I have no idea on earth how we would get a car if we were in dire need today.
      Things are really not okay out there.”

      A bunch of people didn’t suddenly become millionaires from $1200 stimulus checks.
      So it’s obvious some loose lending is going on.

    4. griffen

      It’s a remarkable compliment to the car maker, that injuries were not worse than what you reported. So, upfront kudos to you both for ably walking away from what appears like a serious collision.

      I like those models, an older sibling drives a 2016 Sonata. I’d probably shop for a new car if I had to but don’t want to. The 2008 Accord I drive has a basically rebuilt engine plus a complete replacement of the rack system, all during the last 3 years. I plan to keep this car for as long as possible.

      1. howseth

        I bought a Honda Accord new in January 2001, in Levittown, NY. Later that year after 9/11 and the ‘anthrax-in mail’ scare – one or two of my payments to Honda – were held up at the post office somewhere – Honda did not waste any time threatening me, “Pay up pal – or else” sort of thing.

        I still have that car. It’s paid up. Insurance here in California is low – because I don’t drive much anymore (the car has only 76,000 miles on it. For real.) and the car is not worth much book value. I have been hit twice in parking lots in the last few years – once by a runaway recycling bin. My insurance covered the body work to the tune of 2500+ checks – and I did the touch up myself.

        I’m hoping to keep the car for another 20 years – if I live that long… I do notice electric recharging stations are being put up downtown here in Santa Cruz. Interesting.

    5. DonCoyote

      Since it’s an open thread…for a long period, my wife and I tried buying used cars remotely from dealerships (i.e. find our price/mileage point on autotrader for the car we wanted, then fly out, buy it, and drive the car back). In all cases but one (certified pre-owned), we paid for an independent inspection before we bought. Short version, it worked out OK, not perfectly.

      Anyway, for a car we had inspected, the inspector sent us pictures of the repairs done to the car and wrote “whoever fixed this car, I wouldn’t let ’em fix my lawn mower”. Needless to say, we passed on that one.

      A very different market now.

    6. Glen

      I just feel lucky. I needed to replace my 30 year old truck and was able to get a new F-150 about when prices bottomed out in late 2020. We need a truck – we live on a very small farm, and trucks just come in handy. I was able to give the Toyota Yaris I had been using to commute to my daughter who badly needed a car.

      I would like to switch and go EV, but the costs are too high. Whichever car maker comes out with a good inexpensive EV is going to make a killing. I suspect it will have to be a far East manufacturer since American manufacturers seem to have gone all in on giant Mad Max vehicles. It’s funny, the new F-150 seems to be at least one foot larger in every dimension compared to my old one, except inside where it’s smaller. It does get better MPG than the old truck, but it still costs huge to fill up compared to the Toyota.

      1. griffen

        My knowledge of EV vehicle offerings is pretty limited, but the Nissan Leaf is a fairly bare bones EV and last I knew it was perhaps the low cost option.

        That is a no-frills transportation choice. I did recently see a Rivian EV truck plugged into a charging station. If the owner had been about I would have chatted him up.

    7. Basil Pesto

      I’m actually test driving an Elantra N tomorrow, kinda out of curiosity because it seems like a very formidable car. If I wanted to buy it though, as it and the i30N models are very popular in Australia, I suspect the lead time would be approaching 6 months.

      I drive a 2002 Holden (RIP) station wagon, which is long enough that I can sleep in the boot (I’m 6’3”), which I’ll be doing at a music festival this weekend (which is small, and dusty so people tend to wear masks anyway, so I should be able to keep Covid safe inshallah). I had been planning on scrapping it to be honest, as in 2019 I’d’ve thought that by now the upgraded head unit would be worth more than the car itself. Having looked at some 2nd hand retailers here, they now look to be going for up to $5k AUD which, if accurate, is pretty amazing for a large 20 year old shitbox (albeit a pretty useful one).

  6. Pat

    Really. People are this stupid that they believe this? Soldiers on deployment in a foreign country with no standing base are looting people’s homes!?! What are they going to do with it? Sell it on the street? Ship it home? Video support, huh? Who knew ring was so widespread. Not.

    From the Guardian: Russians stole everything! They took all the clothes!

    Look I have no doubt that if Ukraine is the cesspool we are discovering it may be, that people will come home to find it looted. Certainly food and necessities would be gone and upscale homes would likely loose items that would fetch a return on the black market. But pretty sure it will be less Russian perps and more Ukrainian.

    1. Greg

      When the russians first invaded there were several security cam videos of opportunists indulging in a little night time shopping at fancy stores. Not near the russian soldiers at the time. Wouldn’t surprise me if that has continued and worsened as supply lines for domestic goods have been severely disrupted.

    2. JohnA

      That article was co-authored by Shaune Walker, he is a notorious mini-me Luke Harding of countless lurid how evil are the Russians fame. Harding’s vanity was well and truly skewered by Aaron Mate, who finally got Harding to admit, ‘I am a storyteller not a journalist’ and then hung up the call.

      1. Teejay

        JohnA do you have any source info on the Matte/Harding exchange? I’d like to follow up on that.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > looting people’s homes

      Yes, the United States got the war it schemed for, and such things happen in war. The stupid! It b-u-u-r-r-r-r-r-n-n-n-n-n-s-s-s-s-s-s-s!!!!!!!!!

    1. scarygales

      I believe there was a NC post in February regarding a US study of Ivermectin at either a Minnesota or Wisconsin (at least a midwest school) university that was due for completion in March. I’ve looked for it but without success. Does anyone know of it and if results have been released?

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      If the Russian forces find the notorious free-lancer Erik Prince inside there, they will probably offer him to merge his organization into the Wagner Group. He will be treated much nicer than any NATO advisers who might also be found in there.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Before the war, US and NATO aircraft would habitually fly at the Russian border to get them to send up planes to intercept them, especially in the Black Sea. Haven’t heard of this happening lately. Maybe because this time the Russian plane might fly behind them and light them up with their radar in a blatant message.

  7. Raymond Sim

    The SCAN Bay Area wastewater data had been updated for most cities to Fri or Sat when I checked just now. They don’t seem to have taken steps to deal with all the maxed-out readings yet.

    But if I take the low-end datapoints as representing a better-than-nothing proxy for the 24 hr average level, then I don’t see how we’re not in rapid exponential growth. Checking the data on variants it’s BA.2 in the driver’s seat. We saw quite a pop in test positivity here in Davis on Saturday as well (edit: That’s at the Healthy Davis Together website).

    Looking back at the data, we’re in just about exactly the same position we were just before Christmas. Ditto for the situation in the rest of the nation, assuming the SCAN data’s not literally watered down.

    The SCAN data page: https://soe-wbe-pilot.wl.r.appspot.com/charts#page=locationloggeddrilldown

    Click away the trimmed average line and San Jose’s graph is especially picturesque.

    1. Paleobotanist

      A good film. I watched it when it came out and I watched it last year or so dubbed into French. It’s held up. Highly recommended.

  8. CoryP

    Looks like we have entered the Chemical Weapons! phase of the (info)war.

    I have to admit it seems at least semi plausible in the sense that there are a bunch of guys hiding out in an enclosed complex (if I understand correctly). But I’m skeptical.

    I often hope that I live long enough to figure out what was true and what was false re: wars, covid and whatever else.

    I doubt it though. Confirmation bias is really strong–at least mine is. And I feel like many sources I follow are altogether too confident, regardless of what position they’re arguing. They may have specialized knowledge and sources, but often these aren’t explained in a convincing way, at least for layperson-me.

    Anyway just a rant. What a fascinating and frustrating time to be alive.

    1. CoryP

      I’m also kind of disgusted with myself that I’m rooting for any side in a war, and following telegram feeds that glorify militarism.. It’s shameful how easy it is to get hooked by the drama but it’s not a sport or a game. I don’t think I’ve ever found myself cheering for bloodshed before. What a gross aspect of human nature.

      1. judy2shoes

        I feel the same way, but I can’t help cheering the Russians on. The U.S. has been so incredibly arrogant and bullying, that it makes me sick. I know I’m shooting myself in the foot, but I want to see U.S. hegemony broken and a multipolar world to arise. I took it to heart when Vladimir Putin said that he couldn’t imagine a world without Russia. I can easily imagine a world without the U.S. (It would be nice if I could get my emotions out of this.)

        1. CoryP

          Glad I’m not the only one. It’s especially tough since I think the patriotic non-Nazi Ukrainians are doing the only reasonable thing under the circumstances. Not wanting to be invaded and not wanting to surrender seems honourable tk me (though so is surrender). They don’t deserve to die and I can’t blame them for fighting back. Let alone the civilians.

          I guess the ultimate test of my resolve will be if I’m able to say “Oh well, we deserved it” with a mushroom cloud on the horizon lol.

          1. caucus99percenter

            > “Oh well, we deserved it”

            As absurd as that may sound, that’s exactly the response the German political establishment demands of people in Saxony when they ruminate on the death or rape of their relatives and the destruction of Dresden by the Allies at the end of WW2.

            So the AfD can draw votes just by saying it’s O.K. to feel sad about your own family’s suffering, that doesn’t make you a Nazi. It’s as simple as validating people’s natural feelings.

            1. Skippy

              Problem is some people use the same methodology say as Austrian economists and extenuate everything off some deductive rationalization about T/F of the proverbial individual without ever having the multifaceted experience of the breath of humanity.

              Lmmao at most people in the developed world, but, most of all Americans having to experience/deal with a situation like this after generations of monkey goo being inserted into their cortex – ooh the umbrage of the armchair thunkit proselytizer over the sights behold on TV or other needle.

              Personally for the sake of humanity and the orb its imperative to see anyone push back against neoliberalism aka financial colonialism. Best bit is China and Russia have been anything but militant for decades, and take it on the cheek more than not in the great game of propaganda. Russia’s military operation has more validity from a sovereign stand point than any of the Wests adventurism dating back to Contra.

              So whats the rub … I mean like the GFC and the crackdown on anyone that made a stink about the the largest transfer of national wealth and potential to the top income brackets is now gone poof because Russia is on the opposite side of the Cuban experience.

              Give me a break …

  9. Pat

    The Rev Kev’s Twitter link above led to this:

    Heart issue and Bells Palsy rise with Covid and Vaccines discussed during mainstream Australian soccer/football match coverage

    While I cannot imagine the serious nature of the discussion in American sports commentary, this is probably the way that long Covid breaks through to our public. Athletes pulling out of the game or match or being sidelined because they have ongoing heart or respiratory problems is going to start making an impression.

    1. Basil Pesto

      Not soccer!!

      I was actually watching the game as he plays for my team (he won the Brownlow medal last year, which is the award for the Best & Fairest player across the whole Australian Football Competition.) I heard he went off for nausea and thought “hmm”, but it was confirmed after the game there was a heart issue which had me thinking “yep, sounds about right”. I hadn’t seen that clip before but I’m impressed by their frankness. I have to say, Long Covid does seem to be getting more mainstream traction now.

      I don’t know if the player’s been infected – I did look for info to that effect. If he got boosted I suspect it would have been quite a while ago (I only got boosted 2.5 weeks ago and I was quite late in the rollout – the AFL players for the most part would have completed their first course of vaccines well before I did, so would have been eligible for the booster sooner). But who knows, really, what his individual situation is.

      Still, I have a bias here, as I’ve been saying this for months on these pages: Covid’s probably going to be quite a problem for pro athletes. My working hypothesis is that Sergio Aguero’s early retirement was forced by Covid. But there’s no proof. And proof one way or the other won’t be forthcoming because we don’t want to earnestly reckon with such possibilities because we live in the best of all possible worlds, natch. And young champion US golfer Nelly Korda was hospitalised with blood clots a few weeks ago, coming weeks after her Covid infection. She had to have surgery and drop out of competition as a result, but it looks like she should recover thankfully.

  10. griffen

    Interest rates rising, mortgage rate edition. Per CNBC this morning, the 30 year mortgage rate has hit 5.25%. Opinions may vary but that is still a reasonably good rate to borrow on a 30 year plan, unless the mortgage is super sized for a McMansion.

    Don’t know if this continues to take the boom out of housing, but surely it will not help. Cue the minds blown when at last, prices matter if the interest expense is dramatically higher.

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