2:00PM Water Cooler 6/2/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

House Sparrow, Texas, United States. “Early morning flock chorus,” plus barking dog. This is Sparrow week at Naked Capitalism.

“Sparrow ID Guides from Macaulay Library and Bird Academy” [The Cornell Lab of Ornithology]. Free downloads. “Sparrows are a challenge to birders of all skill levels because they’re often skulky and hard to see. At first they seem like dull brown birds, but when you get a good look, they show beautiful and intricate patterns on their feathers. Because many species are hard to see, they are sought after by avid listers and those who appreciate the beauty of birds. Whether you’re at home or out in the field, these helpful four-sheet sparrow reference guides have full-color photos of eastern, central, western and widespread sparrows.”

* * *


“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

“They had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.” –Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord

“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” –Hunter Thompson

Biden Adminstration

“Largest-ever Medicare premium hikes: Biden just handed a huge “gift to McConnell” ahead of midterms’ [Salon]. “The Biden administration quietly announced last week that it will leave in place one of the largest-ever Medicare premium hikes for the remainder of 2022, despite federal health officials’ decision to restrict coverage of the expensive and potentially ineffective Alzheimer’s drug that drove the increase…. In a five-page analysis released Friday, CMS insisted that carrying out a mid-year change to Medicare’s 2022 premiums would be “prohibitively complex and highly risky, requiring significant resources and unproven technical solutions from the varied entities which manage premium collection and payment…. Lamenting the “legal and operational hurdles” flagged by CMS, Becerra promised the administration will work to ensure that seniors see premium relief next year—cold comfort to those hurt by higher costs in 2022.” • First we’ve heard from Becerra in some time. Refreshing!

“Biden not aware of infant formula crisis until April” [The Hill]. “President Biden on Wednesday said he was not personally aware of the severity of the infant formula shortage until early April, months into the shutdown of a manufacturing plant operated by Abbott Nutrition and subsequent recall of its products. ‘I became aware of this problem sometime in early April, about how intense it was. We did everything in our power from that point on,’ Biden said during a White House roundtable with formula manufacturers. ‘I don’t think anyone anticipated the impact of the shutdown of one facility,’ Biden added. Biden’s comments stand in contrast to administration officials, who have said repeatedly that the White House has been working around the clock since February to address the issue.” • Didn’t anybody brief Biden? Or is Biden not briefable? Or both?

“Clarence Thomas calls out John Roberts as Supreme Court edges closer to overturning Roe v. Wade” [CNN]. “Last week at a Dallas conference, Thomas took a surprising, public jab at Roberts. Thomas has long touted the good relations inside the court and avoided public criticism of colleagues. He might not always have embraced his colleagues, but he avoided letting any enmity slip. Thomas last week recalled the court atmosphere before 2005, when Roberts joined, and said, ‘We actually trusted each other. We may have been a dysfunctional family, but we were a family, and we loved it.’ Thomas’ blunt remarks suggest new antagonism toward Roberts and added to the uncertainty regarding the ultimate ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, expected by the end of June. Roberts, with his institutionalist approach, is positioned as the one justice who might generate a compromise opinion that stops short of completely overturning Roe v. Wade, at least this year. That would thwart an outcome that Thomas has worked toward for decades.”

During Pride Month, good job:

Democrats en Déshabillé

I have moved my standing remarks on the Democrat Party (“the Democrat Party is a rotting corpse that can’t bury itself”) to a separate, back-dated post, to which I will periodically add material, summarizing the addition here in a “live” Water Cooler. (Hopefully, some Bourdieu.) It turns out that defining the Democrat Party is, in fact, a hard problem. I do think the paragraph that follows is on point all the way back to 2016, if not before:

The Democrat Party is the political expression of the class power of PMC, their base (lucidly explained by Thomas Frank in Listen, Liberal!). It follows that the Democrat Party is as “unreformable” as the PMC is unreformable; if the Democrat Party did not exist, the PMC would have to invent it. If the Democrat Party fails to govern, that’s because the PMC lacks the capability to govern. (“PMC” modulo “class expatriates,” of course.) Second, all the working parts of the Party reinforce each other. Leave aside characterizing the relationships between elements of the Party (ka-ching, but not entirely) those elements comprise a network — a Flex Net? An iron octagon? — of funders, vendors, apparatchiks, electeds, NGOs, and miscellaneous mercenaries, with assets in the press and the intelligence community.

Note, of course, that the class power of the PMC both expresses and is limited by other classes; oligarchs and American gentry (see ‘industrial model’ of Ferguson, Jorgensen, and Jie) and the working class spring to mind. Suck up, kick down.

* * *

“Democrats Should ‘Do Something’ the Way the GOP Does Things” [Molly Jong-Fast, The Atlantic]. “Let’s see how they like it when blue states decide to fight back. Democrats might feel powerless, but it’s because they’re relying on an outdated playbook. It’s time to be brave, think big, and deliver for the American people.” • Dear Lord. This is 2022.

“Progressives Call for Greater Outreach by DNC as GOP Invests in Community Centers” [Common Dreams]. “The Republican National Committee is investing considerable money and energy in expanding its voter base by building up its presence in largely Black, Latino, and Native American communities, according to new reporting by The American Prospect which led progressives on Wednesday to warn that Democrats have largely abandoned such boots-on-the-ground efforts. As Alexander Sammon wrote at the outlet, the Republican Party has opened at least 21 community centers in places including Robeson County, North Carolina—a former Democratic stronghold which former Republican President Donald Trump won in 2016—and the College Park section of Atlanta…. [T]he Republican Party appears to be modeling its approach on “the sustained organizing model of the Bernie Sanders campaign,” which spent months organizing in predominantly immigrant, working-class communities in Nevada before shocking the Democratic establishment by winning the state’s primary in February 2020.” • The Democrats have forgotten nothing, and learned nothing.


* * *

“Democratic Senate hopefuls take cautious tack on assault weapons ban” [The Hill]. Because of course. “Democratic Senate candidates in the year’s most competitive races are treading lightly on an issue that has the backing of the party’s top officials: an assault weapons ban. From Pennsylvania to Arizona, only a handful of Democratic Senate candidates have homed in on calls for reinstating the long-expired federal ban on so-called assault weapons in the wake of the mass shooting at an Uvalde, Texas, elementary school that left 21 people — including 19 children — dead. Most candidates have walked a finer line, urging the Senate to take up other measures, like expanded background checks for gun purchases and red flag laws, which in most cases would allow law enforcement officials to temporarily seize firearms from individuals who are seen as a threat to themselves or others. The reluctance to openly advocate for a new ban on assault-style weapons illustrates how the issue has become a political third rail for battleground-state Democrats in an already difficult election year for the party.” • The suburban voters liberal Democrats want like their guns?

MI: “Mallory McMorrow, rising Democratic star, says it’s time to answer conservative culture war attacks” [Yahoo News]. “Describing herself as ‘a straight, white, Christian, married, suburban mom,’ the 35-year-old New Jersey native and Notre Dame graduate positioned herself as precisely the kind of suburban voter whom the GOP “grooming” attacks were trying to court…. In Virginia, suburban frustrations helped power the Republican business executive Glenn Youngkin to an upset victory over Democratic candidate and former governor Terry McAuliffe in that state’s gubernatorial race last fall. The suburbs hugging the Potomac — the same ones that had voted for Biden only months before — provided the crucial difference. ‘Suburban moms who have left the Republican Party in big numbers came back,’ a jubilant Bob McDonnell — Virginia’s last Republican governor before Youngkin — told the Washington Post after the latter’s unlikely win over McAuliffe.” • Again, I wonder what “suburban moms” think about guns…..

OR: “Biden-backed Democrat defeated by progressive in Oregon primary” [CNN]. “Jamie McLeod-Skinner will win the Democratic nomination in Oregon’s 5th Congressional District, CNN projects, ousting seven-term Rep. Kurt Schrader in a rebuke to national Democrats, including President Joe Biden. Schrader, a moderate who has crossed Democratic leadership repeatedly — but nonetheless still won Biden’s first endorsement of the cycle, had been bolstered in the final weeks of the race by a pair of outside groups that ended up spending nearly $2 million on the race. But it was not enough to blunt fierce backlash from local party leaders and grassroots groups who endorsed McLeod-Skinner. … Schrader’s voting record and efforts with a small group of House moderates to complicate the passage of Biden’s Build Back Better package last year, which ultimately died in the Senate, caused an uproar among local groups.” • Blue Dogs or whatever their current name are eminently beatable. And then Schumer or Pelosi bring in a new crop. We’ve seen this repeatedly since the days of Rahm Emanuel.


“Scoop: Blockbuster witness for Jan. 6 hearings” [Axios]. “J. Michael Luttig, a former federal judge and lawyer who advised former Vice President Mike Pence, is expected to testify in the Jan. 6 select committee’s public hearings this month, Axios has learned…. Luttig, who served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, was a key behind-the-scenes figure in the lead up to Jan. 6. He furnished Pence with the legal argument the vice president used to publicly reject Trump’s unconstitutional order to overturn President Biden’s victory. The upcoming public hearings, spread across two weeks, will mark the first time the committee has had an opportunity to reveal the complete findings of its months-long investigation into the breach of the Capitol. Committee sources told Axios they want to tell a story of Jan. 6 in such a way that the American people understand the gravity of what happened — and the role former President Trump and his associates played in ginning up the mob that tried to interrupt the peaceful transfer of power.” • Interesting….

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Justices allow depositions of Texas lawmakers in Voting Rights Act lawsuit” [SCOTUSBlog]. “The Supreme Court on Tuesday morning rejected a request from three Texas lawmakers to put off their depositions in lawsuits seeking to block redistricting legislation in that state. There were no dissents noted from the brief order, which clears the way for the depositions to go forward next month…. The order came in a dispute that arose after the Texas legislature’s October 2021 adoption of new maps for congressional and state elections. Ten different lawsuits followed, filed by individual voters, civil rights groups, and the U.S. Department of Justice, alleging that the maps violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which bars racial discrimination in election policies. As part of their case before a three-judge district court, the challengers want to depose Texas legislators about the process that led to the new maps and the legislators’ motives in adopting them…. Three Republican members of the Texas House of Representatives came to the Supreme Court on May 21, asking the justices to step in. They contended that allowing the depositions to go forward would violate legal doctrines that generally shield legislators from having to answer questions from other branches of government about their actions. If the lawmakers are deposed, they argued, the challengers will be allowed to probe “the very innerworkings of the legislative process, examining the legislators’ thoughts, impressions, and motivations for their legal acts.” They told the justices that there are other ways to examine the legislature’s reasons for enacting the redistricting maps – for example, by looking at the history leading up to the decision and the events surrounding it. And there is “no way to un-ring the bell once they testify,” the lawmakers stressed.


• No such thing as “common decency” under neoliberalism:


“If a child, an untrained person, an ignorant person, or an insane person incites trouble, it is the fault of authority for not predicting and preventing that trouble.” –Frank Herbert, Dune. Not exactly a democratic perspective, though.

• Takedown of sociopathic Covid minimizer David Leonhardt on masks. Thread:

* * *

If you missed it, here’s a post on my queasiness with CDC numbers, especially case count, which I (still) consider most important, despite what Walensky’s psychos at CDC who invented “community levels” think. But these are the numbers we have.

* * *

Case count by United States regions:

This looks like we’re catching up on the record keeping, to me. (I’m not drawing any lines on the chart because it would be pointless.) Note, however, that similar “fiddling and diddling” behavior is seen at previous peaks. So maybe there’s a signal here, and maybe there isn’t.

Here are cases for the last four weeks:

As above.

• “‘We’re playing with fire’: US Covid cases may be 30 times higher than reported” [Guardian]. Interpretation of the preprint we published yestereday. “But Covid cases could be undercounted by a factor of 30, an early survey of the surge in New York City indicates. ‘It would appear official case counts are under-estimating the true burden of infection by about 30-fold, which is a huge surprise,’ said Denis Nash, an author of the study and a distinguished professor of epidemiology at the City University of New York School of Public Health. About one in five – 22% – of adult New Yorkers likely had Covid between 23 April and 8 May, according to the preprint study, which has not been peer-reviewed or published. That would mean 1.5 million adults in the city had Covid in a single two-week period – far higher than official counts during that time. While the study focused on New York, these findings may be true throughout the rest of the country, Nash said. In fact, New Yorkers likely have better access to testing than most of the country, which means undercounting could be even worse elsewhere.’ And: “There is also a ‘huge disincentive’ for many people to get tested for Covid, said Lara Jirmanus, a family physician and clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School. Americans have been told the virus is mild and won’t affect their lives, she said, but if they test positive, they need to stay home from work and school. ‘It’s almost as though we’ve created a national ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ Covid policy – and that is a perfect way to promise that Covid will spread rapidly,’ she said – especially concerning given as much as 60% of Covid transmission happens from people who never have any symptoms.” • Everything’s going according to plan.

• Yep:

• Gaming the case data:

Go, Federalism!

NOTE I shall most certainly not be using the CDC’s new “Community Level” metric. Because CDC has combined a leading indicator (cases) with a lagging one (hospitalization) their new metric is a poor warning sign of a surge, and a poor way to assess personal risk. In addition, Covid is a disease you don’t want to get. Even if you are not hospitalized, you can suffer from Long Covid, vascular issues, and neurological issues. For these reasons, case counts — known to be underestimated, due to home test kits — deserve to stand alone as a number to be tracked, no matter how much the political operatives in CDC leadership would like to obfuscate it. That the “green map” (which Topol calls a “capitulation” and a “deception”) is still up and being taken seriously verges on the criminal.

From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker:

I imagine that little notch is Memorial Day reporting; the 2021 data seems to begin after that year’s holiday. I’m leaving the corporate logo on as a slap to the goons at CDC.

MWRA wastewater data:

Still fiddling and diddling, with South a little up, and North a little down. We’ll see where the trend line ends up after summer school begins.

The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) service area includes 43 municipalities in and around Boston, including not only multiple school systems but several large universities. Since Boston is so very education-heavy, then, I think it could be a good leading indicator for Covid spread in schools generally.

Cases lag wastewater data.

From Biobot Analytics:

Still May 11 for the variants? Really? I want to know about BA.4 and BA.5 (dubbed “variants of concern” by The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)).

From CDC Community Profile Reports (PDFs), “Rapid Riser” counties:

California better, Southwest worse, Midwest, New York, New England, and Gulf Coast improving, Pennsylvania better (why).

The previous release:

Here is CDC’s interactive map by county set to community transmission. This is the map CDC wants only hospitals to look at, not you:

East coast, West Coast, and Midwest are all red. That bit of Upstate New York is still yellow.

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

Still very dynamic.

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,032,410 1,031,613. I have added an anti-triumphalist Fauci Line.

• “COVID death tolls: scientists acknowledge errors in WHO estimates” [Nature]. • I can’t really excerpt this; the issue seems to be bad data, bad extratrapolations, and a hard problem.

Covid cases in top us travel destinations (Statista):

More weird fluctuations. (Note the quality of these numbers varies wildly. For example, the UK is cutting back on testing data.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States ADP Employment Change” [Trading Economics]. “Private businesses in the United States hired 128K workers in May of 2022, the least since the job losses in 2020, and well below forecasts of 300K. The services sector added 104K jobs, led by education and health (46K), and professional and business (23K) while the information sector shed 2K jobs.”

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell by 11 thousand to 200 thousand in the week ended May 28th, from the previous week’s revised level of 211 thousand and below market expectations of 210 thousand, signaling a tight labour market.”

Employment Situation: “United States Challenger Job Cuts” [Trading Economics]. “US-based companies announced plans to cut 20,712 jobs from their payrolls in May of 2022, the lowest reading in three months. It is 15.8% lower than the 24,586 cuts announced in May of 2021. So far this year, employers announced plans to cut 100,694 job cuts, the lowest on record for the first five months of the year. Still, four industries saw more job cuts announced in May than in the previous four months of the year combined: technology (4,044, the highest since December of 2020); fintech (2,059); construction (817); and automotive (2,918).”

Manufacturing: “United States Factory Orders” [Trading Economics]. “Factory orders in the US went up 0.2% from a month earlier to $533.2 billion in April of 2022, after a downwardly revised 1.8% gain in March and missing market forecast of a 0.7% rise. Orders slowed in industries producing both durables (0.5% vs 0.7% in March) and nondurable goods (0.2% vs 2.9%).”

* * *

Retail: “Why Nordstrom Steamed Ahead as Old Navy Sank” [Wall Street Journal]. “A clear signal from apparel retailers reporting results lately is that customers are finally starting to dress like adults again. But, just as with the customers they attract, there are haves and have-nots: Brands with higher price tags are feeling much less of a pinch from inflation than affordable ones. Among Gap’s portfolio of brands, Banana Republic, which sells dressier, work-relevant clothes, saw sales in the quarter ended April 30 grow 24% compared with a year earlier while sales for more value-, comfort-focused Old Navy declined 19%, compounded by self-inflicted inventory woes. Sales of women’s suiting, dresses and skirts at Banana Republic grew 62%, while men’s suit sales nearly doubled. Urban Outfitters URBN -0.68% saw its pricier brands, Anthropologie and Free People, fare far better last quarter than its namesake brand, which caters to younger buyers. A similar dynamic played out among department stores.”

The Bezzle: ML = Machine Learning (a more honest name for AI). A thread:

I hope somebody passes this on to Stoller. (I file ML under “The Bezzle’ because nobody knows how ML systems work, they’re wildly dependent on training sets, which if not outright bad, are biased by definition, and when they crash, which they do, the only solution is to reboot them (“Have you tried turning your ML off and on?”)


The Bezzle: “Sheryl Sandberg, long Facebook’s No. 2 exec, steps down” [Associated Press]. “Sheryl Sandberg, the No. 2 executive at Facebook owner Meta, who helped turn its business from startup to digital advertising empire while also taking blame for some of its biggest missteps, is stepping down…. The author of “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism,” Shoshana Zuboff, said Sandberg is as responsible as anyone for what Zuboff considers one of Big Tech’s most insidious invention: the collection and organization of data on social media users’ behavior and preferences. For years Facebook shared user data not just with advertisers but also with business partners. Sandberg did this, wrote Zuboff, ‘through the artful manipulation of Facebook’s culture of intimacy and sharing.'” • Commentary:

The Bezzle: “Quantum computing startup probed in report, securities suit” [The Register]. “Quantum computing startup IonQ is facing a securities fraud lawsuit after a barrage of accusations came to light in a blistering report from Scorpion Capital, which claims the company lied about the maturity (and even existence of) its quantum device in addition to a smattering of claimed financial fictions.” • So, Schrödinger’s device? Surprised this hasn’t happened already.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 27 Extreme Fear (previous close: 26 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 13 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jun 2 at 1:32 PM EDT.

The 420

“How this 154-year-old company became one of the biggest players in cannabis” [CNN]. “Over the past decade, [Scotts Miracle-Gro] has quietly entrenched itself in the young and fast-growing industry. Its Hawthorne Gardening Company subsidiary has scooped up the biggest players in hydroponics, lighting and other supplies used for growing. Now, Scotts is ramping up its involvement by throwing its lobbying weight behind legalization efforts, and funneling money into investments that eventually could enable the company to sell cannabis directly to consumers. ‘It’s our belief, and this is not a grand revelation by any stretch: Federal legalization is obviously going to happen; the question is when and how,’ said Chris Hagedorn, executive vice president of Scotts and division president of Hawthorne. ‘When it does, what are the most valuable assets going to be in a post-legalization world? I think anybody who thinks about it for a while says consumer-facing brands [that make and sell cannabis products] will be the most valuable.'” • Since “consumer-facing” implies that Joe and Jane spliff can be growing weed in their own soil for their own use — as opposed to ginormous corporations selling through what might as well be package stores — I support Scott’s entry.

The Gallery

Circles (1):

Circles (2):

Zeitgeist Watch

A lot going on here:

Of course, it’s always OK to trash white trash. Nevertheless, Opioid Epidemic Re-enactment wasn’t on my Bingo Card for soft power propagation.

“Why Were Asylums and State Hospitals Built?: Abandoned Asylums Part 1” (podcast) [Abandoned America]. “Of all the American ruins, asylums are perhaps the most iconic – but how did so many come to be left to rot across the country?” • I like Abandoned America’s photography project a lot:

Class Warfare

“One-Third of Americans Making $250,000 Live Paycheck-to-Paycheck, Survey Finds” [Bloomberg]. “More than a third of Americans earning at least $250,000 annually say they are living paycheck to paycheck, underscoring how inflation is taking a bigger bite out of Americans’ budgets at all ends of the pay spectrum…. Some 36% of households taking in nearly four times the median US salary devote nearly all of their income to household expenses, according to a survey by industry publication Pymnts.com and LendingClub Corp. It’s particularly true among millennials, who are now in their mid-20s to early 40s: More than half of top earners in that generation report having little left at the end of the month.” • Carpe diem?

News of the Wired

“Guardians of the brain: how a special immune system protects our grey matter” [Nature]. “A large body of evidence now shows that the brain and the immune system are tightly intertwined. Scientists already knew that the brain had its own resident immune cells, called microglia; recent discoveries are painting more-detailed pictures of their functions and revealing the characteristics of the other immune warriors housed in the regions around the brain. Some of these cells come from elsewhere in the body; others are produced locally, in the bone marrow of the skull. By studying these immune cells and mapping out how they interact with the brain, researchers are discovering that they play an important part in both healthy and diseased or damaged brains…. No longer do scientists consider the brain to be a special, sealed-off zone.” Here however is the first sentence: “The brain is the body’s sovereign, and receives protection in keeping with its high status.” Hmm. Block that metaphor?

* * *

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. From SC:

SC writes:

It’s late Spring and evidently Ladybird beetle mating season has arrived. These are on Common Milkweed, which I am using as a sacrifice plant to feed the Monarchs and the Ladybug-attracting aphids. The Purple MW colony is smaller and more valuable and I’m destroying aphids I find on them, and moving Monarch larvae to the Common patch. At some point in future, when I have multiple strong Purple MW patches, I’ll remove the Common patch (or at least try to suppress it; perhaps removal is not a realistic short-term goal) and let the plant/aphid/ladybird dynamic run unmolested on the Purple MW.

There are more Ladybugs this year than last, and while there are aphids here and there on the Common MW, they seem to be under control and the plants do not seem to be visibly suffering from their presence. One small part of a permaculture is in place, and getting stronger. It’s not much in the grand scheme of things, but I derive a bit of comfort from it.

A great project!

* * *

Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the recently concluded and — thank you! — successful annual NC fundraiser. So if you see a link you especially like, or an item you wouldn’t see anywhere else, please do not hesitate to express your appreciation in tangible form. Remember, a tip jar is for tipping! Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of donations helps me with expenses, and I factor in that trickle when setting fundraising goals:

Here is the screen that will appear, which I have helpfully annotated:

If you hate PayPal, you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check. Thank you!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Guest Post, Water Cooler on by .

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. Henry Moon Pie

      Thanks for that link, jo6. It was quite a contrast to an Iraq War documentary I saw back around ’07 that covered the number of Iraqi pedestrians who were killed by the never-ending stream of trucks delivering Quarter Pounders to the troops. We Americans are quite spoiled.

      And the snipers using their grandfathers’ bolt-action WW II rifles. War on the cheap. Not the American way.

      No wonder Americans making a quarter mil a year are living paycheck to paycheck. Those getaway weekends ain’t cheap. It’s a good example of feature, not a bug. Gotta keep those hamsters churning.

    2. Skip Intro

      PL: What’s next ?
      Soldier: We go Nikolaev, Odessa
      PL: Odessa too?
      Soldier: Of Course!

      As if we really had any doubt.

  1. flora

    re: “One-Third of Americans Making $250,000 Live Paycheck-to-Paycheck, Survey Finds” [Bloomberg].

    I’d like to see this stratified by city/location. $250k would be living on Easy Street in my area, even with student loans; in SF or NYC that same income probably barely buys a 1960’s middle class life style. my 2 cents.

    1. red plaid

      I completely agree. The article is lacking lots of detail, and the argument that a mortgage of a top-tier home in Orange County would be $100,000 a year is not compelling.

      I feel like every time I have seen an article about how even high-earners are living paycheck-by-paycheck, contributions to retirement accounts are not considered as savings. I don’t think you can claim you are living “paycheck-to-paycheck” if you are maxing out your retirement account contributions.

    2. Questa Nota

      Between the Class Warfare and the Fear/Greed Index, I guess I picked the wrong day to stop, say, drinking.
      Now I feel closer to the Jackpot than ever.

    3. Amfortas the hippie

      beat me to it.
      $250k is a lot of money for where i live.
      and other variables must be considered, as well….i live very differently from almost everyone i know…even way out here.
      $250k…that would last me for the rest of my days, with insane infrastructure spending, to boot.
      of course, i’m reminded of my just hatched(after 2 decades of incubation) PMC brother…$150k+ per annum, and he’s always on about making ends meet….when he’s not fantasising about a boat, that is.
      of course, me and my bunch are the only po folks he knows…so he has no sense of the irony and hilarity his whinging affords me.

      1. jr

        If someone gave me 250G$ once in my life I’d live like a king. These people are pathetic. I’m sure some of it is for health “care” and other necessities but we all know much of it is to buy the latest 1G$ iPhone, McMansions big enough for the Brady Bunch plus, and the latest iteration of BMW’s ego wagon. No pity here, when they are starving they can eat their Cancun vacays….

        1. Nikkikat

          Lol! Thanks Jr. I agree, can’t imagine what all I could do with that kind of dough!
          I could not imagine even wanting these fancy cars etc. my brother is one of these people. $1000.00 dollar iPhone, huge phone bills as all 4 of them have this stuff. My nephew drives an infinity sports car. They have all kinds of entertainment, Hulu, Apple TV net flicks, fire stick. Cruises. They eat every meal out. Play golf. You name it and he constantly complains about the cost of everything. I drive a 5 year old ford. Have a flip phone that I pay 19.99 per month and use an antenna for free tv. I find plenty to read at the local library.

        2. Bakes

          Well said JR. I have a good friend. Had good jobs with significant income and benefits. Fell off the rat race in his 70’s.

          Has sold off all his possessions, and they are many. Sold his humble condo. Has purchased a RV trailer and a tow vehicle. He is now freer than he has ever been in his life. He can finally take a breath and sit back, retire in his mid 70’s. And enjoy his remaining years.

          $250K would finance his likely remaining years.

    4. Pelham

      But most people with income like that probably live in expensive zip codes, I’m thinking.

      That said, my wife and I fall into the $250,000 bracket and we live in a decidedly undesirable location (major high-security prison up the street) in a small, crumbling 3-BR house next door to a guy with several rusty, weed-entangled cars in his yard (nice guy, though). And we spend at least as much as we take in, even though we’ve haven’t indulged in a vacation in 15 years and (used to) eat out only 4 or 5 times a year. One astonishing expense, however, is our cable and internet connections through the kindly services of a national mega-provider as we need broadband due to the fact we both work from home.

      At long last, we’re about to sit down and work out a budget. I’m no fan of math but it will be fascinating to see exactly how our money bleeds out.

      1. John Zelnicker

        An interesting exercise is to track every single penny you spend for 2-4 weeks. Including cash, credit, pre-authorized debits, everything. Keep receipts, then categorize at the end.

        I’ve had clients who were amazed at how much money just sort of slipped out without them being entirely aware of it.

    5. Jen

      Not paycheck to paycheck but my boss, who makes 4x as much as me had less ability to come up with an unexpected 10K expense than me. Reasons:

      1) Alimony and child support + 2 kids in college
      2) Living large – he loves to spend money
      3) Assumes there will always be more where that came from

      He’s been grimacing a lot about inflation lately.

      I am doing well by any standard in this economy, and I live far below my means. Paid off my mortgage last year. I think there are a lot of high earners out there whose assumptions about what is affordable are based on rules that no longer apply.

    6. Mikel

      Paycheck to paycheck (net). They discussed housing prices, but they didn’t discuss how much of that paycheck was going to retirement contributions.

    7. JohnnySacks

      Well, for just a start at peeking under the covers of why that is, my admittedly anecdotal observation: Take a look at what’s parked in the driveways. $250k is not particularly outrageous for husband and wife professional W2 wage slaves. The volume of Audis, Mercedes, BMW, Volvo, Lexus, etc. upscaled vehicles, typically more than one per family in wage slave bedroom communities defies logic. Unfortunately, the car manufacturers are only too willing to ramp up the bling leaving very few options for affordable basic family transportation appliances.

      Then extrapolate that completely unnecessary indulgence out to any other discretionary purchase.

    1. Acacia

      OpenAI CEO Sam Altman said in a statement. “This is not the future for AI that any of us want.”

      Heh, but the AI “learned” from some users that it WAS very much the future they wanted, and given how the idea is to bring big data and ML together, I’ll bet the number of users who “taught” (should we say “groomed”?) the so-called AI was not small.

  2. Adam

    Machine Learning is already a pretty dishonest name a lot of the time! The implication is that the real action is on behalf the machine, not on the person creating the algorithm. For supervised Machine Learning, I much prefer to call it “Machine Teaching” as you are working on making sure the data is good (or not!) and choosing the algorithm and features and what the machine “learns” is somewhat downstream of whatever decisions you make.

    1. jr

      Interesting, thanks. I was watching a video recently of MI “art”, which of course it is not as there is no inspiration, no creativity, on the part of on/off gates. I believe it is important to resist all attempts to attribute consciousness to these contraptions. But the programmers of the algorithms, it occurred to me, can qualify as artists as it is their imaginations and intuitions that allow the MI’s to generate their images.

    2. Mikel

      It’s what we’ve always done. We do all the adapting and changes to our lives for the technology and they tell us how “smart” it is.
      You’ll see it this dynamic in spades with the “self-driving” cars.

  3. Watt4Bob

    More than a third of Americans earning at least $250,000 annually say they are living paycheck to paycheck, underscoring how inflation is taking a bigger bite out of Americans’ budgets at all ends of the pay spectrum…

    I think what it really ‘underscores‘ is the fact that;

    1. the PMC thinks the grift is going to go on forever, and

    2. A lot of people have more cash-flow than common sense.

  4. Hepativore

    I heard about the big meltdown yesterday Biden had where he was demanding that his fellow Democrats be more supportive of his presidency and how he cannot understand why his polling numbers are so low and dropping. To top it all off he apparently started blaming his staffers for everything and throwing a fit.

    This basically sounds like a classic case of somebody with dementia getting flustered at their inability to comprehend their situation and other people. At this rate of mental decline on Biden’s part, I wonder if he will even be able to run for president in 2024.

    1. nippersdad

      “To top it all off he apparently started blaming his staffers for everything and throwing a fit.”

      This has been seen with Hillary Clinton*, Amy Klobuchar and Kamala Harris, amongst others, for years now. While I have no doubt that Biden is intellectually compromised, the baseline appears to be high enough for such behavior that one has trouble distinguishing between those who have dementia and those who are just spoiled rotten brats living in a bubble of their own creation.

      * Ms. TPP talking about collective bargaining and why she isn’t getting credit for the public positions made necessary by her private ones:


      1. Pelham

        Biden may have lost a few steps mentally, but there’s reason to doubt that in terms of policy and substance he differs today from the kind of pol he has always been. He’s an unimaginative hack who was an only tolerable minor presence in Congress with near-zero leadership capacity that leaves him incapable of measuring up to the exceptional tasks at hand today in the White House.

        Plus, he and his family are fabulously corrupt, thought that’s a fact that on the scale of crises developing today barely merits mention.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      I don’t know. This is possible, but Biden really is just a small, classic bully who largely did one thing in the Senate and as VP which was threaten bleeding hearts with no funding if they didn’t accept terrible legislation. He never demonstrated other abilities on the legerdemain side.

      Biden has run for President 3 times. He’s a dolt, and there he is running for President with no vision for the country. When you can peel away, I think he sees the Presidency as a constitutional monarchy with the ability to order bombings. The actual job isn’t something he comprehends. He is blaming Congress. This is a running theme. He thinks its Congress’ job which is technically true, but as President, he wields considerable real power if its not official. He doesn’t want that part of the job, and so as a narcissist, he shouldn’t be held accountable on that side.

      His press office would make a big stink about little events like planting flags as if these were major changes from Trump. These stories reflected how the role of President is seen. His job isn’t to replace DeJoy but to make everyone feel better despite the postal service going to hell.

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      I have a comment in limbo, but i think Biden can’t and won’t acknowledge how Obama cynically played race to avoid lefty criticism and keep people in line. The Team Blue types are playing the best of Obama excuses. I imagine the WH believes this should work for them too.

    4. Questa Nota

      Can he dress himself? Feed himself?
      Some days that seems in question.
      Life inside the innermost DC bubble includes handlers of all sorts, not just scripters and stenographers. Can one say Bodymanperson these days?

  5. Mo.B

    I’ve been telling my son to under no circumstances take a COVID test. He absolutely must graduate college this semester and is struggling to get it done. Sorry not sorry, b/c testing positive would be devastating for whole family.

    1. Raymond Sim

      You already have at least one documented positive test for him?

      Otherwise you’re liable to be shooting yourselves in the foot there Parent of the Year.

      1. Thistlebreath

        I’m reminded of the opening passages of “The Stand” by Stephen King, when someone makes it out ahead of a self sealing door at a facility where “Captain Trips” was being developed.

        King’s description of how a virus spreads is as close to poetry as he gets, which is pretty close.

    2. Arizona Slim

      This isn’t a new thing. During the fall of 2020, one of my friends noted that she had all the symptoms of COVID toes.

      Did she get tested? Nope. Reason: She didn’t see any point to it.

  6. Val

    “the COVID-19 pandemic is best understood as an ethical failure, not a scientific or technical one.”

    And the kakistocracy is always holding auditions, as the scrivener is certainly aware.

    1. Tom Stone

      The Covid Pandemic is both an Ethical and Spiritual failure and the consequences of this betrayal of trust will long lasting and profound.
      My Sister was a Nurse for many years and then taught nursing for another half decade.
      Like Ignacio and IM Doc being a healer is part of her nature she was and is very aware of the responsibilities and duties that come with that role.
      What has been done to the health system and the US and particularly the public health system is a violation of an ethos which has been thousands of years in the making.
      I doubt very much that my sister is the only current or former health care professional who is taking this betrayal very personally indeed.

    1. ambrit

      Thanks for this.
      The detail about the ‘critics’ of Bonnard is, if anything, amusing.
      Stay safe!

  7. griffen

    Quantum computing article is worth a read, in particular if neither side of the story sways your opinion. Short sellers are often known to call complete bs once they see it, the problem often may lie in having someone substantive to take your report of the sham seriously. And that was before the whole reddit subthread short selling meme stocks of recent time / last year.

    Maybe it’s a device of some computational ability…or maybe not. It is a funny read.

    1. LifelongLib

      Is quantum computing even a thing that just needs some money to get going? Or is it a bright idea that might be important if it works but hasn’t panned out yet in any practical way? Sounds like something that needs a lot more time in a research lab…

      1. Thistlebreath

        I grew up across the river from Windsor, Ont. It was a lot more low rent than Detroit, back then.

        Apparently there was a Turkish immigrant kid named Mike, in Windsor, who got an award for reading every book in his local library.

        Then he got busy, got rich and went heavily into quantum computers in ’13, when it was still getting a lot of side eye.

        This outfit’s worth a read.
        U of Waterloo is an underappreciated Uni.

        PS some of you may have used one of his earlier developments, Blackberry. It was built on an underused RF spectrum band that truckers had used for dispatch.

        1. Pat

          I appreciate his work. I miss my blackberry. I sometimes wonder if my antipathy for smartphone texting can be attributed to how natural and efficient I considered my blackberry. And it was far less intrusive.

        2. eg

          I was a dedicated Blackberry user from ‘03 until a couple of years ago when my Motion ceased getting security patches. I keep it around as a sort of keepsake of the end of an era.

      2. Rodeo Clownfish

        I’ve been hearing about quantum computing since grad school, 20 years ago. It’s always a technology of tomorrow. Never a technology of today. It’s at the development point equivalent to the successful operation of a vacuum tube transistor. Think how far that point was from the integrated circuits of today.

        Could it ever work, as in compete with existing technology for utility in computing? Maybe. We’ll know in a few more decades…

  8. Dr. John Carpenter

    RE: Covid numbers: I personally know more people who have tested positive for Covid in the past two weeks than I did in the previous two years. I find it hard to believe I’m the only one or, at the very least, others are also noticing an uptick in people they know getting it. It’s really hard not to believe what Jerome Adams MD is tweeting is true. It’s also hard not to feel as someone who still hasn’t had it that my day is coming. Despite the precautions I am taking, I’m forced to be out and about with others who are clearly post-pandemic. I really see the effects of the “it’s over and if you do get it, it’s just a mild cold” propaganda, even though that is not what’s happening to people in my circle.

    1. TBellT

      It’s a wave, but claiming it’s as bad as dec/jan omicron doesn’t seem to be borne out by the wastewater data?

      1. Raymond Sim

        Multiple Bay Area wastewater plants have posted record or near record levels recently.

        But BA.1 was mild! Who cares about BA.1 levels?

        1. TBellT

          I’m not sure what numbers you’re looking at? I went to the Covid – WEB website for the bay area and it’s not really well designed but any of the consistently reporting plants, I’m not really seeing it.

          I was going off Biobot and MRWA and a few other websites. Maybe if you squint and zoom on certain locales you can see it.

          Idk, I’m not for continued spread. I’m just saying these anecdotes are not reflective of the aggregate data, so there must be a disconnect there.

          1. Raymond Sim

            This is the data from the SCAN project:


            The graphical presentation is deceptive. To compare highest levels from now vs the previous wave pick “last 26 weeks” and hover the cursor over data points that fall on the horizontal dotted line.

            If these were graphed in the way one would intuitively expect it would be visually obvious that frequent episodes of extremely high levels are occuring. So one obvious disconnect is between citizen expectations of what the graphs mean, and the information they supposedly convey.

          2. BlakeFelix

            I have no idea what I’m talking about, but it might be theoretically possible for different variants to contribute different amounts per case to the sewage. Or perhaps more vaccination and resistance lowers the viral load per case some? Which would hopefully be a good sign if it was lower, I guess? Not that I have any evidence, but it might enable a disconnect.

    2. Angie Neer

      Same here. I knew essentially nobody with it (symptomatic, anyway) until about a month ago. Now it’s widespread in my social and work circles. It’s definitely correlated with having school-aged children, but that’s not the only propagation path. Fortunately I’m introverted by nature, and the people I do associate with are not reckless. But there are no guarantees! Went on a little road trip over the weekend, venturing out of the urban blue bubble, and the only people masked were me, wife, and about 1/3 of the retail workers I saw.

    3. Buzz Meeks

      Just tested positive after two and a half years healthy. Started a new “retirement “ job in a small office two weeks ago after 3.5 years at big box DIY store where profit chasing and price gouging took priority during pandemic. Always masked except part of my first day at new job, manager went out Covid positive the next day (child brought it home from school) and here I am. Should never taken mask down that first day.

      1. Tom Stone

        Almost everyone is maskless in Sonoma County, Tourism is a significant part of the local economy so talking about icky subjects like long covid is impolite.
        This approach is going to get real expensive in a lot of ways, PDQ.

    4. ChiGal

      same, multiple people I know who made it through the past two years now testing positive, but so far knock on wood not me. still playing it very safe…never in indoor shared spaces without an N95.

      yesterday I finally got my fourth booster (for whatever good it will do) and the shots were being administered in a small interior room on the third floor of a medical building. there were three nurses set up to give them out. My own MD is in the same building so I mentioned that after the jab I needed to drop something off at the lab downstairs. OH NO! they told me, I needed to stay and be observed for 15 minutes.

      Okay, I said, so are there any windows or a door I could open on the third floor to get some fresh air while waiting? OH NO! they told me, I needed to stay right there in that room with them so they could see that nothing happened to me.

      When I objected that since there wasn’t even a portable HEPA filter running in the room, given that Covid is airborne the set-up seemed like a recipe for disaster (I made it clear I wasn’t criticizing those present but rather whoever had set it up like this). Then one of the nurses actually said something about DROPLETS! and commented that if Covid was airborne we would all be–(I actually didn’t hear her exact words but I’m sorry, what, in a world of hurt??)

      After two more people entered the room for their shots making a total of 6 of us in the small space, I realized they had no way to force me to stay so I just got up and said, “I’ve given you half the time, I’m going to sit outside now,” and left. As I did I heard a conversation start up about documenting that I had left (I suppose for liability purposes).

      I came back after sitting outside for 10 minutes and waved at the door to them to let them know I was fine and they were perfectly civil. Problem solved, and what a horror it must be for them to be stuck in that room all day long knowing what they surely do.

    5. LilD

      Here in Monterey county a large fraction of my acquaintances have tested positive recently, including some who are vaxxed, boosted, mask wearing and generally careful.

      My wife has not tested positive but has been sick for a month. I suspect long COVID as she had “original flavor” strain in March 2020 and has never fully recovered.

      I went to my first superspreader event ( my PhD advisor’s retirement party; I was his first PhD to finish…) last week. 1 hour flight, N95 on the entire flight, and through the (outdoor!) event, including my speech, and home…. Quarantined a week but all negative tests…
      [side note on Machine Learning, our 1992 deep learning paper is still widely cited :-)]

      Skipped Boz Scaggs concert last night as the venue no longer has a mask requirement and while acoustically great, ventilation not so much.

      Am filling in Tennis tomorrow for a friend who is positive…

      Have a jam session Saturday outside but might pass. I like the guys and we play well together so will be hard to pass up. I dont sing (well, I do, but people ask me to stop…) so could mask up for two hours…

      I use the microcovid.org calculator for assessment

      This is not the world I want to have, but it’s the only one we do have.

    6. Joe Renter

      I second that. Roommate has it. I just got back from doing a PCR test after 3 rapid tests were negative, even though I have all the symptoms. I also know several others in my circle that have it. Central/northern CA.

    7. Laura in So Cal

      I totally think this depends on where you live. I live in Los Angeles county and we’ve had at least 4 different waves. Almost everyone I know has had covid, vaccinated or not. This is with lockdowns for over a year and mandatory indoor masking for 18 months+.
      Wave #1-December 2019 thru February 2020
      Wave #2- December 2020 thru February 2021-This was the worst one.
      Wave#3-Delta…maybe July 2021-October 2021
      Wave #4-Omicron-December 2021-February 2022.

      Currently, we do have covid going around although there seems to be significant flu and colds as well.

  9. Raymond Sim

    Undercount by a factor of 30 was my prediction. My wife can verify.

    Given the quality of available data it was a w.a.g. – but an educated w.a.g.!

    It’s probably worth bearing in mind that undercount by a factor of 20 was where Indiana was back in 2020 when some academics took it upon themselves to do a proper survey, The actual rate among Indiana Hispanics at that time was 30 times the official overall rate for the state.

    1. John

      Woodrow Wilson’s press suppression efforts during World War I were at least out in the open and conducted by the government with propagandist cheering them on. Question: Why would anyone pay $4.95 a month to be led by the nose to only those news outlets that were preferred by these government supported “private censors?”

      It seems to me that if your policy cannot stand on its own, it deserves its fate and the policies that have led the combined west into this quagmire cannot stand the light of truth. Mistaking your wishes for reality and basing policy on them is beyond stupid.

      1. LifelongLib

        I still haven’t seen a definition of “fake news” or “false content” that I can distinguish from “point of view I don’t agree with”.

  10. Space Station 11

    My .02 regarding the current Covid wave…I too have heard of many in my circles testing positive, but almost exclusively with minor symptoms (including my elderly mother who was laid up for about 36 hours, but did take paxlovid). As for a community perspective, well, I am a mid-career emergency medicine physician at a larger inner city academic institution- level 1 trauma/burns, regional referral for ECMO- and I have not seen a ‘sick’ case of Covid in months. Probably not since 2021. By sick I mean- needing to be admitted on oxygen, needing to be intubated, considered for ECMO, etc. I’ve canvassed a lot of my faculty about this and everyone has the same experience- lots of positive tests, but usually with minor symptoms or completely unexpected (e.g. in trauma transfer patients).

    I’m not sure what to make of this. I guess I have a middle-of-the-road attitude w/r/t the pandemic: I was very worried initially, treated a lot of very sick patients in the initial and Delta waves, I’m vaccinated and boosted (required for employment, although we had almost nobody in our staff quit d/t the vaccine mandate), follow masking guidelines when required but I will admit that I don’t often wear them in public now. Covid has become, basically, a nuisance to me- a reason for my kid’s daycare to shut down, as has happened multiple times requiring a very difficult scramble for my wife and I (she’s also an EM doc with irregular hours). Our entire family got Covid in January after my 1 year old brought it home from daycare, and there’s really no protection against that, which probably contributes to my current attitude. As for my patients, the opioid/meth crisis and a very obvious rise in violence (GSW/stabbings) over the past 1-2 years is a much bigger public health concern right now.

    Just thought I’d give my thoughts as a long-time reader.

    1. Fiery Hunt

      Thanks Doc…appreciate the perspective.

      Been very much preoccupied by the conflicting thoughts of “This is an ongoing PANDEMIC!” and “It really doesn’t seem to be that big a deal…”

      Nice to hear an informed voice that’s not screaming “We’re DOOMED!”

    2. IM Doc

      I am not sure what to make of this whole situation either.

      And it is always good to have other physicians with whom to compare notes.

      The COVID pattern in the past 2 months has taken a completely different direction than I would have expected. I live/work in a very vaccinated area that is surrounded by very unvaccinated areas.

      We are no longer doing any kind of official counts through the health department for outpatient care – so I have no official numbers. What I am seeing and it has now been a fairly consistent pattern for weeks is absolutely huge numbers of cases in my own practice – as in 7-8 times the numbers seen in the exact weeks from 2021. In a population that is now almost completely vaccinated. I find that very concerning. The same cannot be said of the unvaccinated areas which I really am not hearing from at all. So that right up front is a problem. We are having many times more the cases in a year that has vaccinated patients – compared to a year that did not – 2021. And almost entirely, the cases being called into me ( assume that would be the sicker patients) are from the highly vaccinated areas and almost always vaccinated/boosted patients.

      Furthermore, seeing a routine around 5% of patients being routinely screened in the hospital prior to surgery, tests, etc being positive and having no symptoms at all. Just found on routine screening. This is a rather large number. Multiple issues as outpatients living in the same house where I have all the vaccinated/boosted patients ill, while the unvaxxed are positive but with just minimal symptoms or not sick at all. Very strange.

      Seeing the exact same thing here as you are as far as admissions – almost zero. And the ones that are being admitted are often for social reasons – and would never have been dreamed to be admitted when the hospital was stressed. And certainly no ICU, vents, or ECMO.

      But many of these patients as outpatients are indeed fairly ill – but not hospital level. Again, the concerning thing is the overwhelming preponderance of these ill patients being vaccinated/boosted – and the fact that they are in such much higher numbers than what was seen in early June 2021.

      Since no formal numbers are being counted, it is very hard to make any judgements. But with talk in the doctors’ lounge it is clear my colleagues are seeing mostly the same thing. I am hearing similar stories from my colleagues across the country.

      So we have a vaccine that seems to definitely be preventing death/bad illness, at least from acute respiratory issues. But at the same time, as outpatients, the vaccinated seem to be much more affected with case numbers and outpatient illness. Almost invariably, the sicker the patients are as outpatients, the more likely they are to have been vaccinated/boosted. Really vastly so. I do have concerns with this pattern going forward and what this may portend if more noxious variants are conceived.

      I have never felt so strange as a physician. I have been trained and practiced for decades to take in what I am seeing around me and listen to my colleagues and mold what I do based on what I am seeing. But, those in charge of our public health apparatus seem intent on continuing on the same course and not really being too transparent with how they are arriving at their recommendations. It is very disquieting. Because a lot of what is being recommended does not seem to be appropriate with what is going on in my world or many of my colleagues.

      I am not sure what to think. One thing I know for sure. This is not over.

      1. Raymond Sim

        “I am not sure what to think.”

        Forgive me if I’m cavalier, but thank goodness! Anyone who’s sure what to think about the current state of the pandemic probably isn’t thinking at all.

      2. Carolinian

        So those of us who declined to take the experimental vax but who follow fairly elaborate precautions made the right decision?

        I will pass this along to my brother, who did get the two shots. But good news at least that it’s no longer so serious as to lead to icu etc.

        1. BlakeFelix

          I think that you will have to be extremely careful or extremely lucky to dodge this one, it seems to be perhaps the most contagious disease ever as far as I can tell, and most of the mildness might be from people being previously vaccinated/exposed. I think all data except IMs anecdotes points to vaccinated and boosted people being much safer against severe outcomes, but his anecdotes are troubling, I’m not one who discounts anecdotal evidence unless it’s outweighed by information I trust more, and I trust IM as more than most.

      3. Fiery Hunt

        One possible thought as to why the vaxxed are “sicker” than the unvaxxed:


        Vaccination rates here in the Bay Area are pretty damn high and Alameda County just announced there’s more hospitalization now than last summer during Delta.
        So many people here in the Bay Area act as if getting “boosted” is some sort of magic spell that wards off Covid. Travel, gatherings, hell, just going out to restaurants, bars, music venues..
        Can’t help but wonder is there isn’t a correlation between wealth, lifestyle and being an extrovert…(high vaccination rates) vs working class (“essential workers”!) introverts…(non-vaxxed).

        Spending hours in gatherings, traveling, attending events versus just wanting to go home.

        The alternative seems to point toward a vaccine= worse response to infection and that’s a whole nasty can of worms.

        1. flora

          Forgive me pointing out the original and boosters were sold on exactly the promise they would ‘prevent infection and transmission.’ People believed what they were told, imo.

      4. IM Doc


        This is a classic example of what I am talking about. The article seems to be pointing out the same thing I and my colleagues are noticing as I describe above.

        What is concerning to me is the response. My response would be “what is going on medically to produce such an outcome?… what if anything does this mean for the future?…..how should this help us with our advice for the legion of increasingly skeptical patients who are asking every day about getting a 4th shot?” The response described in the article is paraphrased as such – “recording case calculations is the problem, therefore, we should stop doing it.” No curiosity about why this is happening.

        Understanding WHY things are happening is often a fundamental part of understanding biomedical issues. This is the beating heart of being a diagnostician. And so many times we seem to be ignoring the WHY because the numbers are inconvenient or not fitting the current narrative.

        I can point to many many such articles where the discussed response does not seem to make much sense. This is what is being pushed out to our populace. They are not stupid. They see the same things I do and are bringing them to me daily unsolicited. It is very frustrating for everyone.

        1. Skip Intro

          It may be wishful thinking, but in my experience many people who are vaxxed and boosted believe they are completely safe, and take virtually no precautions. They are suffering from vaccine-propaganda-induced risk blindness.

        2. Verifyfirst

          Here an article from Michigan, about a week old–confirmed cases then still over 3,000/day (seems like a lot, given under counting).


          However: “As of Wednesday, May 25, Michigan hospitals were treating 1,072 patients with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19. Among them, 112 were in the ICU and 39 were on ventilators.

          For context, on Jan. 10 the state had about 5,000 COVID patients hospitalized, with about 860 in the ICU and 540 on ventilators.”

          No info about who these hospital patients were–age, health status, vac status, etc.

          I am also very puzzled about the article Lambert put up on Links this morning: “Association between Self-reported Masking Behavior and SARS-CoV-2 Infection Wanes from Pre-Delta to Omicron-Predominant Periods — North Carolina COVID-19 Community Research Partners” which found:

          “We assessed the association between self-reported mask use during non-household interactions and COVID-19 infection during three pandemic periods. Odds of infection for those who did not always compared to those who always wore a mask was 66% higher during pre-Delta, 53% higher during Delta, declining to 16% higher during Omicron.”

          If Omicron is MORE infectious, then huh?

          1. Objective Ace

            Odds of infection for those who did not always compared to those who always wore a mask was 66% higher during pre-Delta, 53% higher during Delta, declining to 16% higher during Omicron

            If omicron is more infectious it means masks* are less effective and this is what we’d expect to see

            I hate the generic term mask though. Are we talking pieces of fabric or n95s? Hopefully n95s are holding up pretty well still

        3. Lex

          Understanding why things are happening is often a fundamental part of understanding. If you can only ask one question, make it, “why?” Why is where all the clues are. BTW, I find the observations fascinating and appreciate you sharing them.

        4. Whobedatguy

          “Understanding WHY things are happening is often a fundamental part of understanding biomedical issues. This is the beating heart of being a diagnostician. And so many times we seem to be ignoring the WHY because the numbers are inconvenient or not fitting the current narrative.”

          Indeed. And I think this is a general truism, not limited to the medical field. We don’t have to understand WHY if traditional solutions are working and status quo is maintained. In a dynamic situation where status quo is not maintained, rote decision-making will fail to produce intended results because cause-effect patterns are changing. It is the creative process of developing understanding and making sense of the world that allows us to navigate changing waters.

      5. flora

        Thanks. Is there any hesitancy among your colleagues in discussing hypotheses?

        Oh! I see now you were typing the answer to my question as I was asking it. Thanks.

      6. rowlf

        I was requested to attend an international trade show in April and support a program I am involved in that will make air travel safer and more reliable. In the group I was with, all of us vaccinated to EU travel requirements, 42% had symptoms after returning home and tested positive a few days after the trade show.

        Not feeling bad when I returned home, I (J&J, one shot with long side effects) managed to infect my wife (Moderna, boosted) and my son (Pfizer). We went through a stack of antigen tests with positive results. Our symptoms were one bad fever day then quick recovery. Lots of lingering coughing.

        The teenage son who is not vaccinated never had symptoms or tested positive.

      7. Space Station 11

        Thanks IM Doc, I agree with everything you’ve said. I’ll echo that the vast majority of the positives I know are vaccinated, but that could be because my family/colleagues are mostly among a highly vaccinated population. It might stand to reason that those who are vaccinated are also more likely to seek testing, but that is just a conjecture. Like most everything else.

        You are absolutely right that despite the changing and mysterious nature of this disease, the ‘official’ recommendations continue to be the same, at least in my shop. Pushing vaccines and testing. We have an ongoing research study in our department to approach the unvaccinated about their ‘vaccine hesitancy’. Fortunately the physicians are not required to enroll patients. The vaccine puzzles me more than anything; as you said, it appears to prevent death and perhaps hospitalization, but if/when the vaccine is recommended for my daughter (1 year old), I do not plan on having her receive it (pending marital discussion…). Ditto for another booster on my end, unless it’s required for my continued employment. It is an incredibly strange way to feel.

        We receive weekly emails about the Covid status at our institution. Numbers of positive cases, hospitalizations, etc. But what good is this data when we aren’t testing nearly as many people as we were even 6 months ago? When it doesn’t capture home tests? We don’t even routinely screen for hospitalized patients anymore, other than to ask “do you have any Covid symptoms?”, meaning fever, cough, etc. Even when we know that these screening questions are meaningless! I honestly believe we are continuing this charade because we haven’t seen the sick cases in some time and, to be fair, performing major resuscitations under ‘Covid precautions’ is a PITA. So we ask trauma patients on backboards, who may be intoxicated or distraught, whether they’ve had a fever or cough. And move on when they say no.

        I don’t say any of this to dismiss the pandemic; as much as I’d like it to be ‘just the flu’ and move on, well, it’s clearly not. My feeling is that we are inexorably moving in a “let’s just live with it” direction- many people already are and institutions seem to be slowly following- despite still knowing so little. Whistling past the graveyard, indeed.

        1. .human

          Of course you are seeing majority vaccinated/boosted with multiple re-infections. They have continually been told that they are “protected”, therefore, engage in riskier behavior than the unvaccinated who, necessarily, act more cautiously.

          This does not take into account the efficacy of the “vaccines.”

          Luck (unconcious action?) also appears to be playing a role.

        2. Pat

          My Covid experience was deep fatigue and sore throat followed by an interesting respiratory reaction (odd post nasal drip and some coughing). I had one J&J shot. Stopped testing negative sixth day after the positive test.
          My compatriots were vaxxed, boosted and boosted. Tested positive longer, and were sicker longer.

          What we do all seem to have in common is that none of us feel 100%. All of us, even my friend who is going on two months out, battle reduced energy and have occasional days with deep fatigue. There is also some intermittent brain fog.
          Just a thought that it not just be long Covid as we have seen early on, but a sort of intermediate recovery period that lasts weeks or months as the immune system battles dregs and struggles to bounce back from the onslaught despite successfully avoiding the worst of the disease (hospitalization and death).

        3. kareninca

          “We have an ongoing research study in our department to approach the unvaccinated about their ‘vaccine hesitancy’. ”

          I wonder if that is leading to any “visit the doctor’s office” hesitancy.

          I’m not vaccinated, and it would surely discourage me from a return visit.

          1. Arizona Slim

            Go ahead and approach me, researchers. I will give you a dose of my very colorful vocabulary, and I also offer free boosters.

  11. Swamp Yankee

    Taunton State Hospital I am not far away from. It is popular among explorers of such places, is my understanding.

  12. AnnieB

    Re: covid test numbers. Quite a few people sick with covid are not getting positive results on their at home tests. I had a mild case, relatively, for two weeks and never tested positive. I gave up testing after three negatives. My daughter has a more serious case and has tested negative every day for four days now. If you read the posts at reddit/covid19positive you will learn that testing negative while very sick is quite common. Some report that they didn’t get a positive result until 10 or more days. So,my guess is that if people are sick with covid symptoms, they will just give up on testing after several days of negative results. The tests are expensive and being sick is exhausting and demoralizing, especially if you have been super careful for 2.5 years.

    1. Harold

      I tested negative two days in.row. (I am quadruple vaxxed) Had terrible sore throat and inside of mouth, fever for three days and then deep cough and lost sense of smell. I am sure it was Covfd. My partner had it too but not so bad. That was 3 weeks ago but still coughing and sneezing. I did read somewhere that this variant sometimes shows up better on rapid tests from throat swabs than nasal ones. Who knew? Anyway I’m glad to be alive especially after undergoing radiation therapy six months ago, probably made me more susceptible.

  13. jr

    Molly Jong-Fast hits the hopium bong hard.

    Ahh, Molly, one of my favorite liberal elite PMC “writers”. Like a dog to it’s own vomit, she returns time and again to rally behind the Democratic hustlers and crooks that have failed to accomplish what she perceives as their mission. Alas, they are all too successful at what they actually do: failing on purpose. Then, it’s time to rally the consultants and the hand-wringers and the usual pantheon of degenerates to “resist” and “fight” and “hold the line”. Never, ever winning, just riding one face of the lunatic lemniscate of American politics while the Republicans ride the other, all headed to oblivion.

  14. John Zelnicker

    Lambert – SC beat me to it. I have a picture of mating ladybugs I’ve been meaning to send you since last spring.

    Oh well, my middle name seems to be Procrastinator.

      1. ambrit

        Please, let it be an “Alzheimer’s Awareness” stamp.
        Next up, a First Ladies who Ruled stamp series, with Jill Biden, Nancy Reagan, Edith Wilson, and Elanor Roosevelt.

    1. Samuel Conner

      It was a threesome a few hours earlier than the time of the published plantidote photo and if it hadn’t turned into a clustersomething, that earlier photo would have been the plantidote. Assuming that the ‘ladies’ are the spotted ones, it was two females, perhaps taking turns, and one male. The 4th bug, which I think was the other male, was on another leaf of the same plant, perhaps sulking.

      A few hours later, the lonely bug had joined the party. I wonder if they are happier about this than I am.

      Both adults and larvae eat aphids, so they’re nice to have around. I see significant aphid infestations only on the milkweed plants, but I’ve been seeing the beetles here and there on other plants; perhaps they’re enjoying the herb aromas, or searching more widely for aphids. It’s nice to have nature working for you.

    2. Sardonia

      Those ladies are celebrating Pride Month. I do wonder where they buy their little strap-ons….

    3. HotFlash

      I will hazard a guess that some of them are gentleman bugs. And, no, that’s not hopscotch.

  15. WhoaMolly

    Re: Zeitgeist Watch, Larpers do “Ohio”

    I grew up in Ohio, and I don’t recognize any of these scenes. They look–instead–like scenes from bad movies.

    The people who live in Harlan County Kentucky probably say the same thing about a series like “Justified”. (Loved the show, btw)

    1. griffen

      I miss that series…Boyd Crowder was an incredibly entertaining antagonist. Been meaning to restart on season 1 and watch it through.

  16. dk

    “If a child, an untrained person, an ignorant person, or an insane person incites trouble, it is the fault of authority for not predicting and preventing that trouble.” –Frank Herbert, Dune. Not exactly a democratic perspective, though.

    What is the disconnect from democracy, a mechanism for selecting authorities, and the exercise of that authority? Neither democracy nor held authority, nor for that matter fascism or even simple autocratic monarchy *just work* by their nominal form. Democracy is not a complete story of government, it’s only a mechanism of appointment to authority by popular selection. It’s one step in a journey, and an early one at that.

    Failure to exercise elected authority undermines the elections and the authority as well. For all of their faults, fascists recognize that action works. If a democratically elected officer won’t take actions that a fascist might take as well, simply because a fascist might do it, then only fascists can take action. So if democrats won’t do anything, it just shows how wonderfully not-fascist they are, and this wholly vindicates their existence. Intellectual purity gelds reason.

  17. Mikel

    “Largest-ever Medicare premium hikes: Biden just handed a huge “gift to McConnell” ahead of midterms’ [Salon]. “The Biden administration quietly announced last week that it will leave in place one of the largest-ever Medicare premium hikes for the remainder of 2022…”

    Just part one of the trade off? And you can guess what for…

  18. Mikel

    “Biden not aware of infant formula crisis until April” [The Hill].

    They didn’t have time to worry about babies with weapons and energy contracts to secure for good ole boy friends.

  19. Noone from Nowheresville

    I re-read ChapterHouse Dune. Based on that book, Herbert doesn’t seem to be a fan of democracy. The Bene Gesserit characters really shred it IMO.

  20. Mikel

    In Poland, there is a LARP group that roleplays as contemporary Americans. Here they are doing “Ohio.” pic.twitter.com/ckZRIYZHzV

    Replying to
    i was too fascinated by this concept not to do some digging and ended up finding their design doc and reading through it via google translate– seems like a very cool larp that tries to tell human stories under the mythos of a broken american dream.

  21. AlexC

    The City University of New York did an interesting study, and I’m inclined to believe it. But there are many questions about the COVID epidemic, I studied a lot of information on this topic, various essays, scientific articles more information , I even tried to vaccinate myself and still got sick. I don’t know how relevant this is now, it seems to me that the pandemic has subsided, students have returned to campuses, lectures are being held at universities, a full life is being restored.

Comments are closed.