2:00PM Water Cooler 7/11/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Patient readers, ProtonMail broke down at a critical point in my process. More soon! –lambert UPDATE All done!

Bird Song of the Day

Rock Wren (Northern), Oaxaca, Mexico. Last week I got sidetracked into the Wren-Babblers. Here is a Wren proper.

* * *


Lambert here: One reader suggested changing these quotes; I don’t think it’s a bad idea, but I need to think about it. I don’t want to be too doomy — we are not short of inventory in that department — but I don’t want to go all chipped and Pollyanna-esque, either.

“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

Capitol Seizure

“Understanding How The January 6 Riot Unfolded” [The Onion]. • Handy map.


“POLITICO Playbook: White House slams ‘out of step’ liberal activists” [Politico]. “Kate Bedingfield, the outgoing comms director, with a statement making waves online: ‘Joe Biden’s goal in responding to Dobbs is not to satisfy some activists who have been consistently out of step with the mainstream of the Democratic Party. It’s to deliver help to women who are in danger and assemble a broad-based coalition to defend a woman’s right to choose now, just as he assembled such a coalition to win during the 2020 campaign.'” • Activists like who? Planned Parenthood? Bedingfield must be big mad, to hurl a grenade like that.

Biden Administration

“Biden’s pitch for Eric Schmidt-funded fellowship raised red flags” [Politico]. “This past spring, Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, received the ultimate gift: a straight-to-camera endorsement from the president of the United States. In the video, the most powerful man in the world touted Schmidt’s “Quad Fellowship”— a new scholarship for American, Indian, Japanese and Australian graduate school students that is operated and administered by Schmidt Futures, the charity arm that Schmidt uses for a variety of initiatives in science and technology… Behind the scenes, however, there were concerns within Biden’s administration about the president endorsing an initiative of an outside entity founded by Schmidt, one of the richest men in the world, according to two people familiar with the matter who were granted anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak about the internal dynamics.” • That not “authorized to speak about the internal dynamics” is one of the best rationalizations for anonymity I’ve seen. I think it’s new!


* * *

UPDATE OH “Democrat Tim Ryan chases after Fox News viewers in Ohio Senate race” [NBC]. “Titled ‘Fox News Friends,’ the 30-second spot is stuffed with clips of Fox personalities heralding Ryan’s ‘moderate ideas,’ including during his brief run for president in 2020. Even Tucker Carlson — a commentator reviled on the left who has frequently hosted Ryan’s Republican general election rival, J.D. Vance — makes an appearance via a 2019 segment in which he encouraged his viewers to take note of how Ryan positioned himself to the right of other Democrats on border security. Carlson’s on-screen headline: ‘Not Everyone in the Dem 2020 Field Is a Lunatic.’… ‘Even the most conservative voices on TV agree: Tim Ryan is a voice for commonsense policies who stays focused on the issues that matter most to Ohioans,’ Ryan spokesperson Izzi Levy said in a statement announcing the commercial, which is part of the campaign’s ongoing, eight-figure advertising blitz.” • Maybe President Manchin is all used up, and we need President Ryan to replace him as the revolving villain.


UPDATE “If you’re not a socialist before you’re twenty-five, you have no head; if you aren’t a socialist after twenty-five, you have no heart”:

Read left to right along the generations. Amazing.

“64 percent of Democrats want someone other than Biden to be 2024 nominee: poll” [The Hill]. Same poll. “The New York Times/Siena College poll found that 64 percent of Democrats questioned said they would prefer a different candidate. Twenty-six percent of Democrats said they would still support Biden in the next presidential election. When asked why they would support a new candidate, 33 percent of Democrats cited age as their main reason, 32 percent said job performance, 12 percent said they will prefer someone new and 10 percent said Biden is not progressive enough. Forty-four percent of all respondents said they would cast their vote for Biden if the 2024 presidential election were held today, while 41 percent of respondents said they would vote for former President Trump if he is a 2024 presidential candidate.” • But on age vs. job performance, see the breakdown above. (And a three-percent difference between Biden and Trump? Trump, as we all know, has overcome such obstacles before.)

UPDATE “Eric Adams, the Mayor Who Never Sleeps” [MoDo, New York Times]. Actually a supportive piece, amazingly enough. Worth a read if you can fight through the paywall. “He continued that when he’s in a room with billionaires and celebrities, he can see the ‘scared children’ in them. ‘I look across the table from you, I see exactly who you are. You have your own insecurities, you have your own concerns. ‘Does my wife still love me?’ ‘Am I still appealing?’ I may be mayor but I’m still this child that just wants to do right.’ So which animal in the jungle are you? He laughed. ‘Clearly, I am a lion. I am meant to rule the jungle.’ Underneath the swagger, beyond the swank parties, the serious parts of the job are never far from his mind. ‘Listen, I got to live up to the job,’ he said. ‘I got to turn around the economy. I have to make the city safe. I have to educate children and there’s no excuses. It shouldn’t be, ‘Oh, you are a Black man. We’re going to give you a pass.’ No, I don’t want a pass. I’m responsible for that woman being shot today. My job is to make sure she could walk down a block pushing a carriage without being assassinated. I’m going to live up to my responsibility, but don’t stack the deck. Highlight where we are successful. We got some real W’s.’ The press and critics, he complained, laughing, ‘only talk about, ‘Hey, did you eat a piece of fish?’ ‘Did you?’ ‘Yes.'” • Honestly. I missed the moral panic about the fish. My bad.

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.

* * *

UPDATE “Sen. Joe Manchin May Not Be Kingmaker In West Virginia For Long” [The Intercept]. “[E]arlier this month, a grassroots slate of over 50 Democrats took control of the West Virginia Democratic Party after winning a majority of seats on the executive committee and ousting party leadership, thus ending Manchin’s de facto control of the state party apparatus. Now, after a six-year organizing push, every old guard party apparatchik — save for the treasurer — is out of office, replaced with activists from across the Democratic spectrum set on revitalizing the state and forcing renewed support from the national party. The June 18 victories mark the beginning of the end for an era defined by atrophy, nose-diving voter rolls, and just a single Democratic statewide representative: Manchin.” • Maybe. Did the Old Guard steal the money and give it to the DNC, like Reid’s operatives did in Nevada?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Neoliberal Order Breakdown Syndrome”:

NOBS up to 11?

UPDATE Wait. Class isn’t a subjective feeling? You can’t think and grow rich?

Adolph Reed said the same thing using bigger words, long ago.


“Whose breath are you breathing?” [RNZ]. A must-read. Testing the CO2 on a bus ride: “Although high levels of carbon dioxide can be dangerous, there was something I was more worried about. CO2 levels can be used as an indicator of the risk of catching Covid-19; we breathe in air and release CO2 when we exhale. Covid-19 is spread via aerosol particles breathed, coughed or sneezed out by infected people. These can drift several metres and linger in the air for hours. The higher the CO2 readings, the more virus particles are potentially in the air…. At 5737ppm, the equivalent of one in every seven breaths I took on the bus was air other people had breathed out. I texted a friend: ‘OMG, the readings are so high I may as well let the other passengers lick my face!’… ‘You can think of it as spit particles, tiny spit particles are what you are breathing in,’ says University of Auckland aerosol chemist Dr Joel Rindelaub. ‘It’s breath backwash that gets people infected.’ He doesn’t endorse passenger face-licking, but when CO2 inside the bus is 5737ppm he jokes, ‘it probably wouldn’t even hurt, right?’ The level of CO2 outdoors is about 420ppm. Rindelaub says a good indoor reading would be anything below 800ppm. This is also the level suggested by the United States Centers for Disease Control for indoor spaces as a benchmark for good ventilation. When readings get above 1000ppm there could be a high risk of Covid-19 transmission if someone in the space is infected. ‘If you’re above 2000, then that’s a huge red flag.'” • Now that’s a personal risk assessment. I really think that if CO2 measurement were taking place on a mass basis, we could get some leverage over airborne diseases like Covid. Perhaps we could form a political party: The Air Breathers’ Party. Because as this article makes vividly clear, breathing is a social relation.

• A review of the Aranet4:

Containing this brilliant suggestion:

OTOH, since China has not already done this, perhaps it is not so easy.

* * *

“BA.5, Chapter 2” [Eric Topol, Ground Truth]. A must read: “That gets me to the lede in the Washington Post’s BA.5 report today: “‘America has decided the pandemic is over. The coronavirus has other ideas.’ … There’s clearly more room for the virus to evolve, get more fit, gain advantages as an immune escape artist and more efficiently infect cells. Yet we are watching its accelerated evolution akin to the behavior of a Formula One race car lapping around the track with humans in the stands. At best, there will not be a BA-5 specific booster until November or December and that represents a failed strategy of variant-chasing, knowing full well that BA.5 will not be the dominant circulating virus in 5 to 6 months. We need to get ahead of the virus, stop acting as bystanders with ‘hope and prayers’ that it will not get worse than what we are dealing with now. No, BA.5 has taught us once again, the virus doesn’t just get milder and fade away. While the virus revs up its mutations under selection pressure, we’ve ironically become immutable, more resistant to taking an aggressive stance with second-generation and nasal vaccines that are clearly in our reach.” • “America” might well have “decided” differently if elites hadn’t decided on a Vax-only stance (plus treatment) and then run a massive propadanda campaign in favor of culling the herd, and denigrating non-pharmaceutical interventions at every turn. Perhaps when the elites discovered they were all infecting each other at their superspreading events they decided to change course. A little late. Ah well, nevertheless.

• It’s simple math:

Meanwhile, if they can manage to resist our thirst to infect them, China will have a labor force — indeed, an entire population — healthier, and more mentally agile, than our own. Something to ponder, natsec goons.

• But not simple enough:

• Ah, memories:

This is the South China Morning Post story that tipped me off to aerosol transmissionl, but was subsequently disappeared.

* * *

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.

• ”COVID Data Tracker” [CDC]. “Beginning July 4, 2022, COVID Data Tracker will discontinue daily data refreshes 7 days per week, and will instead refresh data Monday through Friday.” • Psychos. Yes, I only work Monday through Friday, but I’m not the world’s premier public health agency, either. To be fair, why on earth would anybody want current data when planning their weekend travel?

* * *

Case Count

Case count for the United States:

Slight rise. There was a weird, plateau-like “fiddling and diddling” stage before the Omicron explosion, too. This conjuncture feels the same. Under the hood the BA.4/BA.5 are making up a greater and greater proportion of cases. Remember that cases are undercounted, one source saying by a factor of six, Gottlieb thinking we only pick up one in seven or eight.) Hence, I take the case count and multiply it by six to approximate the real level of cases, and draw the DNC-blue “Biden Line” at that point. The previous count was ~102,300. Today, it’s ~107,200, and 107,200 * 6 = a Biden line at 643,200 per day. That’s rather a lot of cases per day, when you think about it. At least we have confirmation that the extraordinary mass of case anecdotes had a basis in reality. (Remember these data points are weekly averages, so daily fluctuations are smoothed out.) The black “Fauci Line” is a counter to triumphalism, since it compares current levels to past crises.

Regional case count for four weeks:

The South:

Florida and Texas are just trolling us. What’s with this trading leads, thing?


From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker:

7.1%. Hoo boy. Looks like a lot of people came back from the Fourth of July barbecue hacking and wheezing. The Covid train always leaves on time! (I also wonder if there’s a Keynesian Beauty Contest effect, here; that is, if people encounter a sympotomatic person, whether in their social circle or in normal activity, they are more likely to get a test, because they believe (correctly) that it’s more likely they will be infected. What we are seeing here is the steepest and largest acceleration of positivity on Walgreen’s chart.


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. Use the community transmission immediately below.

• For grins, here is “Community Levels,” the CDC map I only track after I’m put on my rubber gloves:

Even CDC’s obfuscatory map shows we’re in trouble. Hold onto your hats.

• And also for grins, the CDC is tinkering with its community level verbiage, without making it any less deceptive and dangerous:

So, hospital infection control — a department often infected by droplet goons — should make use of community transmission (see below), and not you, when making your personal risk assessment? Really?

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. For June 30 – July 6:

Status quo, i.e. it’s a not-over pandemic.

Lambert here: Thanks to alert reader CR, who found where CDC had interred the “Community Profile Report.” NOTE: The file name is “Community Profile Report 20220707 (1).pdf.” That’s how a filename looks when it’s uploaded twice, the second time generally by accident, so it does indeed look like there was a kerfuffle of some kind yesterday when I went to my usual CDC link and discovered an abomination. (I’m not taking back “sociopathic, democidal shitheads,” though. Too much else speaks in its favor.)

NOT UPDATED Rapid Riser data, by county (CDC), July 7:

Good job. Since the report moved over to healthdata.gov, everything has gone swimmingly. Just get the effing reports out on time. How hard is this?

NOT UPDATED Hospitalization data, by state (CDC), July 7:

Very volatile.


Lambert here: It’s beyond frustrating how slow the variant data is. I looked for more charts: California doesn’t to a BA.4/BA.5 breakdown. New York does but it, too, is on a molasses-like two-week cycle. Does nobody in the public health establishment get a promotion for tracking variants? Are there no grants? Is there a single lab that does this work, and everybody gets the results from them? Additional sources from readers welcome [grinds teeth, bangs head on desk].

NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (Walgreens), June 18:

NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (CDC), June 18:

CDC has restored the button that lets me turn their NowCast button off. Doubling behavior moving along quite briskly, but I would rather calculate slash intuit the rise myself, and compare that to Walgreens, than use CDC’s model, which is probably broken anyhow.

• ”New coronavirus mutant raises concerns in India and beyond” [Associated Press]. “Scientists say the variant – called BA.2.75 – may be able to spread rapidly and get around immunity from vaccines and previous infection. It’s unclear whether it could cause more serious disease than other omicron variants, including the globally prominent BA.5. ‘It’s still really early on for us to draw too many conclusions,’ said Matthew Binnicker, director of clinical virology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. ‘But it does look like, especially in India, the rates of transmission are showing kind of that exponential increase.’ Whether it will outcompete BA.5, he said, is yet to be determined. Still, the fact that it has already been detected in many parts of the world even with lower levels of viral surveillance ‘is an early indication it is spreading,” said Shishi Luo, head of infectious diseases for Helix, a company that supplies viral sequencing information to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The latest mutant has been spotted in several distant states in India, and appears to be spreading faster than other variants there, said Lipi Thukral, a scientist at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology in New Delhi. It’s also been detected in about 10 other countries, including Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom and Canada. Two cases were recently identified on the West Coast of the U.S., and Helix identified a third U.S. case last week.” • Good info. So do I have Helix to blame for the miserably slow variant reporting? Or CDC? Or both?


Wastewater data (CDC), Jun 19, 2022 – Jul 03, 2022:

Lots of orange, some red. Not good. This chart works a bit like rapid riser counties: “This metric shows whether SARS-CoV-2 levels at a site are currently higher or lower than past historical levels at the same site. 0% means levels are the lowest they have been at the site; 100% means levels are the highest they have been at the site.” So, there’s a bunch of red dots on the West Coast. That’s 100%, so that means “levels are the highest they’ve ever been.” Not broken down by variant, CDC, good job.


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,045,792 1,044,557. I have added an anti-triumphalist Fauci Line. It’s nice that for deaths I have a nice, simple, daily chart that just keeps chugging along, unlike everything else CDC and the White House are screwing up or letting go dark, good job.

Stats Watch

There are no stats of interest today.

* * *

The Bezzle: “‘Uber Files’: Huge leak of confidential documents blows open murky background of ride-hailing app” [Sky News]. “The report reveals the extraordinary lengths that the company undertook to establish itself in nearly 30 countries, becoming one of Silicon Valley’s most familiar exports. The company’s lobbyists – including former aides to President Barack Obama – sought to persuade government officials to drop their investigations into the company, rewrite labour and taxi laws and relax background checks on drivers, the papers show. The investigation found that Uber used ‘stealth technology’ to fend off government investigations. The company, for example, used a “kill switch” that cut access to Uber servers and blocked authorities from grabbing evidence during raids in at least six countries. The Uber Files team reported that during a police raid in Amsterdam former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick personally issued an order: ‘Please hit the kill switch ASAP … Access must be shut down in AMS (Amsterdam).'” • Well, it’s not like the executives weren’t prosecuted. Oh, wait….

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 28 Fear (previous close: 29 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 24 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 11 at 1:32 PM EDT.

Rapture Index: Closes down one on Wild Weather. “The lack of activity has downgraded this category” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 188. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.) I’ve been waiting for the Rapture Index to hit the all time high again. Now it has. UPDATE And now it retreats. Really?!

Police State Watch

Obviously, we should give cops more money:

Read up on “the March on Rome,” per John Ganz:

Poetry Nook

Ezra Pound seems to have gotten one of the insights of MMT right:

He was still a fascist, though, despite his wonderful ear and editing skills.

Zeitgeist Watch

“The Suburban Lawn Will Never Be the Same” [Bloomberg]. “Homeowners from Las Vegas to Sydney are swapping real grass for artificial turf as climate change forever alters what a normal yard looks and smells like…. [Judy] Dunn opted to install an artificial lawn, a choice being made by more and more residents of Southern Nevada—one of the many places that’s getting drier as the planet warms. For some, it’s the cash-for-grass rebates being offered by local water agencies. For others, it’s the realization that the classic lawn is increasingly unsustainable in a time of megadrought. And then there are the residents coaxed into the shift by the water notices or fines…. The most obvious environmental problem with artificial grass is it’s rooted in the biggest climate nemesis of all: fossil fuel. Synthetic turf is made from a stew of petroleum-based components, making it nearly impossible to recycle. At the end of an artificial lawn’s useful life, which is about 15 years, it will likely go to a landfill or be incinerated.” • Heaven forfend there should be rebates for xeriscaping! Anyhow, since I’m long stupid, and artificial turf is the stupidest possible solution for the suburban lawns, I’d go long there, too. No doubt Homeowners Associations are already thinking about which shades of green are acceptable and which are not. More commentary:

Guillotine Watch

“First time on a yacht? Avoid these 7 amateur mistakes” [CNBC]. “While most of the travel industry struggled to get back on its feet, the yachting industry had a different problem during the pandemic: serving everyone wanting to charter a boat…. ‘A big percentage of our business is first-time charters,” said [Crom Littlejohn, chief commercial officer of the yacht brokerage company Northrop & Johnson]. ‘They’ve had the ski vacations … they want to try something different.'” That’s nice; nouveaux riche from the pandemic. More: ‘Onboard Monaco’s de Kern advised travelers to greet the crew at the beginning of the trip. ‘Ask for their names, shake their hands and show some respect for the captain on board,’ she said.” • I agree. Treating the servants well pays for itself.

Class Warfare

“Even at $25 an Hour, Key Tampon Factory Can’t Keep Enough Workers” [Bloomberg]. That’s a damn shame. But if they can’t fill slots at $25 an hour in Maine, yikes. “What’s happening at P&G’s tampon plant is emblematic of the wider squeeze felt by employers across the country, from restaurants to oil drillers. With nearly two open jobs per every unemployed worker, the increased competition has driven up wages and added to inflation pressures, prompting Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell to recently dub the labor market ‘unsustainably hot.’ Labor force participation may never fully bounce back to its pre-pandemic strength, something that could make filling positions an ongoing challenge in the years ahead.” • I’m not sure we have a theory of labor force participation rate (which was slow to recover during Obama’s years-long “recovery” too). Opiods (a problem Maine has?) Long Covid? Working conditions in the plant (closed, crowded, close contact)? Everybody learned to code? Everybody’s gone on OnlyFans? Everybody left the state for the bright lights of Beantown? I don’t have an awful lot of sympathy for the Fed’s open lust to beat down worker bargaining power, but I would also like to know what’s happening.

It could be worse:

Hmm. A proxy for stupid money?

News of the Wired

“The Preposterous Logistics of the Loot Train Battle (Game of Thrones, S7E4)” [A Collection of Unmitigated Pedantry]. From 2019, still germane: “Jaime is moving this food in wagons, which is absolutely the most efficient ground transportation option he has. Let’s assume each wagon holds around 1,400lbs of food, pulled by two horses. We could make this more efficient with different draft animals and bigger wagons, but I’m trying to keep these figures fairly simple; moreover if we were doing that, we shouldn’t be assuming (as we are) that the food is all nice, neat portable and high-density grain, and we’d have to talk about loss and spoilage – let’s just say that our fairly simple set of assumptions here favors Jaime (because they do). So Jaime needs to move 9,400 tons of food in two-horse, 1,400lbs wagons. Let’s start doing some math. Assuming 1,400lbs per wagon, that means we need 13,500 wagons, with 13,500 wagon drivers and 27,000 horses. That’s…a lot of wagons. Now the roads we see Jaime moving down are limiting him to a single-file line of march with his wagons. How much space does that take up? Well, a wagon of this size is usually around 10 feet long, plus maybe another 8 feet for the horse, and we should assume while moving a few feet of clearance before the next wagon, so let’s say 25ft of road-space per wagon – note that we have not yet added the army to the road. This is just the wagons full of just one month’s food for King’s Landing. Now, Jaime’s wagons move single-file (in part because of the bad roads), but let’s make things even easier on him, and double them up, so we fit two wagons in each 25ft space, meaning the wagon train – again, no army yet – covers 168,750ft or 31 miles.” • I like this very much because it’s similar to the sort of analysis that Andrei Martyanov does; he reminds us that there is a scientific, or at least an engineering, aspect to warfare. We are dealing with materiality, with things that can be counted, measured, timed.

Many, many questions, with answers:

Generational analysis among the dinosaurs:

As reader know, I strongly deprecate treating (fuzzy-bounded, marketing driven) generations as entities with political agency. (Where is the Boomer lobby on K Street? Does it really make sense to throw a stooped-over, white-haired Walmart greeter into the same bucket as Warren Buffet? And so forth.) That said, there are experiences that people of one age cohort (we’ll call it) have, that others do not. For example, an old-codger like me cannot imagine going to a school with metal detectors at the door, or active shooter drills. (No doubt, if I went to Phillips-Exeter, I still would not.) Similarly, I can’t imagine my (male) gradeschool classmates being drugged for hyperactivity. And on and on and. Similarly, I was able to enter and then exit the world of factory work; I don’t think things are so flexible today. I was also able to enter a complex technical field simply by learning it. Readers?

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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. From RH:

RH writes: “Skunk cabbages.” Green!

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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. Carl

    At least he told the truth:

    “As I said last week, defending freedom will have costs for us as well, here at home. We need to be honest about that.”

    Biden did not say what “robust action” he will take to protect Americans who are already hurting from skyrocketing inflation that is far outpacing any meager increases they’ve seen in wages.


  2. Louis Fyne

    To paraphrase George C Scott/Patton, no one won a war by bankrupting their own country (yes, MMTers technically the US can’t go bankrupt….just have a worth-less currency that has difficulty affording imported essentials)….

    US spending to counter Russian war effort exceeds first 5 years of war costs in Afghanistan


    saw a lady in front of me have a breakdown in the checkout line as her debit card was declined because she forgot her dental debt installment payment withdrawal was that day.

    spotted her the swipe and told her to pass it on.

    1. Thompson

      Seeing the Greatest Generation having been shunted to for profit nursing homes, their children often stripped of their patrimony and their grandchildren homeless, another direct quote of Patton is in order:

      “We backed the wrong side.”

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I assume this means that Patton felt the Nazi Germany side was the right side.

        Now . . . if Patton had been referring to World War ONE . . . . he would have been correct.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > spotted her the swipe and told her to pass it on.

      That’s something that happens at the University of Maine cafeteria every so often, for no reason other than random acts of kindness. I have have done it occasionally. Good!

      I think “technically” is doing more work in your comment than it should be asked to do. We sent our manufacturing base to China. The economy is optimized for the FIRE sector. Silicon Valley writes software for rentiers and con artists. We manufacture expensive bespoke weaponry in small lots, and it catches on fire.

      The issue is the real economy, not “printing money” or anything like that.

      1. Robert Hahl

        I don’t see how we could have de-industrialized so smoothly without just printing the money to buy imports.

        1. Samuel Conner

          If by “printing money”, you mean “issued Treasury term debt certificates”, we did just that.

          Back in the late ’80s/early ’90s, I had a conversation with a B-school student that would have made sense to me if I had then been familiar with what became MMT, and specifically with the ‘sectoral balances identity’. In a discussion about US debt dynamics, my interlocutor noted that the US federal deficit was very close to the same as the trade deficit. “That’s just how it works out”; by which I (in retrospect, many years later) think he meant, ‘that’s a consequence of the sectoral balances identity when the domestic non-government sector is neither net saving nor net dis-saving.’

          We paid for the imports by issuing Treasuries (to our trade partners).

          1. hk

            But they have to keep selling us stuff, b/c, if they don’t, all the treasuries they are holding will become worthless, right? /s (but maybe not really all that sarchasmy).

            1. Greg

              The write-down would suck, but if the US isn’t making anything worth buying, aren’t they already worthless?

  3. ambrit

    A general observation I have read states that when a technical field enters the stage of requiring credentials for entry, that field has ceased to advance and will vegetate until a subsequent offshoot of the field supplants it.
    I close with the observation that, in general, the requirement for credentials in any technical field serves two purposes. First, said credentials are a measure of one’s proficiency with the “official” functions of the field. Second, said credentials serve as a gatekeeping mechanism and also function as limiting functions for the population of technicians allowed to hold gainful employment in said field.
    I learned the above from my experiences with late stage unionism and associated credentiallism. To the union issue, notice that the main ‘advances’ in unionism in America are carried out by “rogue” unions.
    That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

    1. Stephen V.

      Whoa Ambrit. Have not seen anything about this “vegetative” concept but is def true in my experience as well.
      Don’t suppose you have a link?

      1. Halday

        The Communist Party invented the so called civil rights movement.

        I will never forget trying to get ahead in a trade and seeing the
        “Promote women and minorities to management” flyers posted by in the break room by the SEIU. The beginning of my conservatism as a teenager.

        1. ambrit

          I think that Lambert is referring to the 1930s Communist party, when Civil rights meant not being randomly lynched.
          The other side of that coin was the Reich’s sent specialists over to america to study American eugenics programs and the Jim Crow laws with the goal of implementing similar methods in Germany.
          History is much more complex than anybody wants to admit.

          1. Will

            Yes. And for those interested. Prof. Whitman’s book on this is very readable.

            Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law


            And still very topical today is towards the end of the book when he discusses how the Nazi’s were in some ways less interested in actual American laws (some of which they thought were too extreme) and more interested in America’s legal system itself. Giving judges the flexibility to interpret laws as necessary in order to achieve desired results was seen as highly desirably when trying to draft laws about vague subjects like ethnicity.

            For example, how many generations removed from a black or Jewish ancestor do you need to be in order to stop being black or Jewish? Much easier if the judge can know it when they see it. Umm…I meant know their history of revolutionary America and the intent of the founders.

        2. ashley

          ah, classic white male resentment of having to be more than mediocre and connected in the old boys club to compete.

          as a gay woman in the trades it is not easy. ive often felt like im a diversity hire and not actually invested in to grow my skills but rather to maintain a quota for tax purposes. other tradesmen behave that way with me as well, one going as far as asking me if i knew how to use a tape measure (mind you at the time i had 3 years construction experience…) and what my husband thought of my work (my ex gf thought it was hot af).

          also, i came of age right before women were encouraged to go into the trades (graduated HS in 2007). i was ACTIVELY discouraged from joining the trade school alternative to high school, where i would of been happier. that place was for the stupid hyperactive boys who couldnt handle academic work, and the pregnant teenagers going to school to be low level nurses and beauticians. girls were expected to go to college and work pink collar jobs. it was also a wealthier area, where ivy league was expected, SUNY was acceptable, CUNY unheard of, and community college actively discouraged and treated like 13th grade. i got pushed into going to college despite not wanting to, and ive barely ever used my degree. for what its worth, i make the same in the trades as i did in my degree related job but i am happier with physical labor.

          before moving out of NY (2015) i tried to find a job in the trades and was completely closed off. i would of had to go back to school, gotten certified and licensed, the unions werent interested in gaining new members, and no employer was hiring somebody inexperienced but smart and willing to work. especially a female. i moved to VT and ended up in the trades because its the best paying work in the area and the jobs are so abundant that theyll take any warm body that shows up on time and isnt lazy. VT has way less regulations so becoming a carpenter is far more attainable – i got hired to my first trade job with no experience or trade education and worked my way up. unfortunately there are no trade unions around here that i am aware of… because if there were id be joining in a heartbeat as my low wage (all over VT, everybody is underpaid) would likely double.

          FYI this was in liberal NYC metro area, in a county that went twice to obama and then twice to trump…

          i just love how your white male resentment leads you to embrace a political theory of fuck you and yours, i got mine. we need universal healthcare and education but its more fun to play white identity politics and have somebody give you a pacifier to soothe your resentment.

          1. Dermotmoconnor

            Ashley 100%. Some people would chug a bucket of dog vomit sooner than question the entity that’s really hurting them. Capitalism.
            Our chum here will keep selling his labour to billionaires, like an obedient dullard.

            No man is more hopelessly enslaved than he who falsely believes himself free, etc.

    2. Watt4Bob

      I’ve been a one-man IT department for 30 years.

      I learned about computers via rock & roll, and associated audio/video production starting in the early 1980s.

      I’ve never had any ‘credentials’ and have never been asked.

      I started before credentials were a thing, and guess I lucked out.

      I’d never get hired in today’s environment, ageism and the credential thing being what they are.

      I do get a lot of email from recruiters lately, hoping I might want the single worst tech job in the world, supporting call centers.

      I’d gladly teach someone, but in thirty years and probably 3000 employees to choose from, I’ve never found anyone that looks to be a good candidate. I had a helper for a couple of years, he was smart but if he couldn’t fix something within 20 minutes, he’d give up. (Hacking’s primary skill is patience and stuborn stick-to-it-tiveness)

      When 2008 hit, my boss let him go, and he landed a great job making lots of money working exclusively for C-Suite types and their minions who screw up their laptops by clicking on anything that pops up.

      Now days nobody has in-house IT, they are unwilling to pay the cost, so they have strings of specialized vendors who take care of little bits of things so when something goes wrong it often takes 4 or 5 phone calls to find out what is wrong and who can help.

      It’s those 4 or 5 guys who have the credentials.

      1. JBird4049

        Now days nobody has in-house IT, they are unwilling to pay the cost, so they have strings of specialized vendors who take care of little bits of things so when something goes wrong it often takes 4 or 5 phone calls to find out what is wrong and who can help.

        It’s those 4 or 5 guys who have the credentials.

        They are paying the costs by having to make those four or five calls and pay those four or five guys, but they fool themselves by paying in installments for poorer service.

        1. bassmule

          The wine business has become rife with credentialism. Certified Wine Educator. Master Sommelier. Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) Levels 1 through 3, then Diploma, then Master of Wine. After I got fired from my first job in the biz as a stockboy at a well-regarded shop that was run by the owner’s slimy brother-in-law, the day before I became eligible for health care coverage (what a coincidence!) I took a WSET course just to pass the time. In the meanwhile, I went to work for an even more respectable shop. When I got my new diploma, I showed it to my boss. Maybe I’d get a raise? He said “That’s nice.” That was 2002. Today, you’re expected to present a credential even for an entry-level job.

          1. The Rev Kev

            John Michael Greer makes the point how universities insert themselves into all sorts of jobs so that they have to be credentialed – for their own profit of course. How jobs in the 19th century used to be done as apprenticeships which were then qualified by State Board exams. But now long, expensive courses have to be undertaken through a university which are very expensive and maybe not even relevant.

            1. John

              Credentialism is the Medieval Guild in modern clothing. Not necessarily bad to have “qualified” people doing things, but it quickly becomes a means of exclusion. The old AFL craft unions had that flavor as did the construction unions in which membership seemed to pass down generation by generation, IIRC.

              1. Dermotmoconnor

                Diff being a medieval journeyman learned on the job, and didn’t get creds at the cost of massive student debt. Also got a trade at the end.

    3. vao

      when a technical field enters the stage of requiring credentials for entry

      Blessed are those whose profession only requires credentials on entry.

      In an increasing number of fields, credentials are required to remain in the profession — as in gathering “credits” or “points” every year or couple of years from a variety of activities, many of them consisting in paying for “continuing education” and courses determined and provided by one or at most very few “professional organizations”. 25 years experience? That’s not enough — how many training modules to update your skills did you take in the last couple of years? Taken the periodic multi-choice test? Presented any paper at an accredited conference recently? No? You lose the right to exercise your profession.

      By the way, there is a third reason for those credentials: serving as items to tick off when HR selects applicants to invite for a job interview.

      1. Janie

        Back in the day (don’t know about now), continuing education seminars were offered in Hawaii, San Diego, San Francisco, New Orleans. Take your spouse, nice perk.

    4. Jeremy Grimm

      You forgot to mention the profit stream accruing to the providers of training and credentials. And do not forget the constant influx of new application programs and ‘new and improved’ operating systems best characterized as the same-old-same-old with new definitions for old concepts coupled with confusing shufflings of menu screens — devoid of information about their performance costs and machine computation and memory loading. Today’s certification is only a ticket to tomorrow’s certification.

      I too entered technical fields at a time when doing what needed to be done trumped a certificate. I well remember the advice of my Father Shopper: Put down on your resume some experience in whatever you want to work. If you land a slot, work your tail off — night and day — to come up to speed at a run. Hire someone to help bring you up to speed, if putting your nose to it is insufficient. Be honest with yourself … and if you cannot cut it at the end of two weeks, it is time to fall on your sword and put your resume out again for another try at something somewhere else. By the time I was shown the back door at the firm where I had settled, none of this worked any longer. Demand for certificates and ever greater extremely specific specifications and requisite job experience assured my slinking exit. Perhaps I was not as sharp as I was when I started … but being honest with myself … I believe I was as sharp, as motivated, and better able to identify what I needed to know to accomplish a given task, than I had been as a green youth. Unfortunately, age and experience at getting up-to-speed, and a long track record of past successes are no longer assets in the search for a technical job.

      I can never forget My Father Shopper, John, the best programmer I have ever worked with in a long career of working in software. In two weeks, while under heavy pressures from many directions — including ever pressing and outrageous child support payments to two ex-wives — he wrote a Fortran IV program to compute the Kalman smoothing of target dynamics data using an algorithm he was given by a young, whipsmart systems analyst recently hired into our group. All this work was done in the age shortly after the near ubiquity of IBM card programs. I was tasked to work with John and get his program running on the Baby-Blue PDP system I had terminal access to — access thanks to the pull of my manager, and I believe, also thanks to care I took in showing regard and respect for the group that held primiary control over that PDP system.

      John did all his programming work, while sitting at a desk in a hot California Summertime and writing his program with pencil and eraser on a short stack of quadrille paper. The final program John handed me was a little less than two hundred lines of Fortran IV code. I was very worried the code would be difficult to compile and get running and I felt even more insecure about the results it might compute. Other than ‘corrections’ I made, which I had to undo as I tried to compile and build the code — John’s program compiled and ran — FIRST TIME — exactly as he had written it. Even better, the output from the program was exactly what the systems analyst wanted and expected. After a total of four weeks, my Father Shopper left for another assignment and further ability to pay his endless child support. He tutored me in the ways of Job Shopping — late 1970s — and strongly advised me to put my resume out into the Shopping Waters after observing some of the conflicts I had had with my supervisor.

      I should note that my Father Shopper John did NOT have a college degree. He was entirely self-taught — although I suspect, initially, he received help from other shoppers. He was hands-down the best programmer I ever met or worked with or for. In the later days of programming, I doubt he would even receive a phone interview.

      1. ambrit

        Ah, the old Job Shopper days when my Dad would bounce around different engineering projects. He and Uncle Gerry pooled their resources and subscribed to a monthly rag called the “Job Shopper’s Digest” or something like that. Both were Daily Racing Form aficionados and watching them go through the Job Shoppers magazine was exactly like seeing them handicap the horses. Similar strategies in the analysis concerning jobs on offer were used. All this years before the Internet.
        Dad too didn’t have a college degree. He had apprentice papers from a large Dutch engineering firm. Back then, AID accepted his apprentice papers in lieu of a degree. Try that today.
        The sad truth to all this credentialization of the technical fields is that Gresham’s Law most definitely applies. People who are good at taking tests are not exhibiting the same levels of skill in the field as someone who has worked themselves up from out the ranks. What credentialism ignores is that any task has a delay period when the person actually trying to do the task needs to get “up to speed” in that task. There is no substitute for “hands on” experience, no matter what the academics say.
        Stay safe and keep your head down. It’s beginning to get dangerous out there.

        1. Janie

          Remember the 80s, when you just needed management skills, no knowledge of the industry needed? Total joke where I worked. Easy to snow the higher-ups.

          1. ambrit

            Indeed I do remember that, from second hand, as the recipient of the “pearls of wisdom” emanating from such “highly credentialled” Solons.
            “Appearance is reality” was a popular catch phrase back then. Then, it was meant as sarcasm. Today it has become a seriously promoted world view.

  4. antidlc


    How Pfizer Won the Pandemic, Reaping Outsize Profit and Influence

    The grinding two-plus years of the pandemic have yielded outsize benefits for one company — Pfizer — making it both highly influential and hugely profitable as covid-19 continues to infect tens of thousands of people and kill hundreds each day.

    This story also ran on The Daily Beast. It can be republished for free.

    Its success in developing covid medicines has given the drugmaker unusual weight in determining U.S. health policy. Based on internal research, the company’s executives have frequently announced the next stage in the fight against the pandemic before government officials have had time to study the issue, annoying many experts in the medical field and leaving some patients unsure whom to trust.

    An addition to the Pfizer Q1 2022 Earnings Call I posted in comments for today’s LINKS:

  5. Samuel Conner

    Re: the Long COVID cumulative risk tweet,

    A number of older friends, none of them stupid people, have asserted that they refuse to spend the rest of their lives hiding behind a mask. This attitude is generally accompanied by the remark that they are vaxxed and boosted and so unafraid of the CV.

    In snarkier moments, I reflect that either way, it may not be a very long time for them.

    More seriously, I think this attitude reflects an unwillingness to experience inconvenience for the sake of the welfare of un-named (and most of them unknown — public health is about the great anonymous masses) others.

    And we think we can beat the Russians in a great geostrategic game? We’re intoxicated by the smell of our own farts (hat tip to Russell Brand for that one).

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > A number of older friends, none of them stupid people, have asserted that they refuse to spend the rest of their lives hiding behind a mask. This attitude is generally accompanied by the remark that they are vaxxed and boosted and so unafraid of the CV.

      Darwin Awards for the anti-mask death cult!

      Do they actually use the phrase “hiding behind a mask”? We, at least in the United States, have the extremely bizarre idea that masks cover the face. This implies that the eyes are not part of the face. If this is in fact the line of thought, it’s deeply troubled.

      1. Samuel Conner

        IIRC, one has referred to it as “hiding”; another as “living”. A third refuses to wear N95s because the tight straps interfere with her hair. (Yes, this tempts one to tear one’s own hair out).

        In all cases, though, the central concern is clear — this is an inconvenience that they have tired of. I have taken to avoiding these people, as I don’t want to endanger them (if I have a low-symptom infection and my own N95-ing is leaky) or be endangered by them.

        I think that we are no longer able to undertake great things as a nation — we can’t even protect one-another’s lives. Our convenience and comfort is more important than health, or even than life, it seems.

        1. megrim

          I personally find bad health to be both inconvenient and uncomfortable! This is definitely the stupidest timeline.

        2. Mikel

          The healthcare system is barely prepared to treat Covid.
          As long as I keep seeing the words “covid vaccine” and “immunity” in the same sentence together, I know this is still a dangerous time.

        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          > one has referred to it as “hiding”

          Nobody’s hiding a thing. The mouth is far easier to lie with than the eyes. I suspect that is the point.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      Masking protects BOTH the wearer and others, including the great anonymous masses. I wear a P-100 Silicone half face-mask. However, I am guilty of NOT wearing a supplementary mask over the exhalation valve in locales where I see few or none of my fellow indoor shoppers wearing masks. I do admit to and feel guilt that that isn’t very kind or responsible of me.

      1. RA

        I have a 3M half face mask with two circular P100 filters. I modified mine.

        Inside there are two circular discs of thin “rubber” that form the one-way valves for each of the filters. I removed them. It’s easy they are replaceable parts.

        Then I cut a small piece of packing foam to fit in the exit port at the bottom-front of the mask that I pushed in to block it off.

        Now the the air flows through the p100 filters both ways, inhale and exhale.

        I assume other brands or designs could be modified similarly. I would guess they all have some kind of one-way valve for the filters that could be removed or blocked open. Then find some way to block the exit port, if not a plug like mine maybe some tape closing it.

        I have saved the two valves so at some point I could replace them and remove the plug if I want to go back to original. But for now I have a comfortable mask that works for both me and those around me.

    3. bob

      Darwinian selection. Survival of the fittest. I don’t believe you can avoid a virus forever. We leave “our planet” to whichever species is arrogant enough to think it can be in charge.

      1. ambrit

        What we don’t quite grasp is that in pure Darwinian Selection, the virus might be the ‘fitter’ organism and the Terran humans go extinct.

    1. hunkerdown

      I believe that’s of a piece with the current war drums. There’s one WEF flexian, Jim Smith, on the board of Pfizer, the Thomson Reuters Foundation, and the Atlantic Council (now our unelected social media managers), all of which sounds like one-stop shopping for the promotion of elite imperatives through social media.

      Also, those pics are parodies. “L*gma” and “S*gma” variants? Um.

  6. ewmayer

    Was late to NC yesterday, wanted to make a brief post re. Monkeypox, so decided to hold off until today – please excuse the off-topicicicity, or something, :)

    Re. Monkeypox, per Wikipedia:

    There is no known cure. A study in 1988 found that the smallpox vaccine was around 85% protective in preventing infection in close contacts and in lessening the severity of the disease. A newer smallpox and monkeypox vaccine based on modified vaccinia Ankara has been approved, but with limited availability. Other measures include regular hand washing and avoiding sick people and other animals. Antiviral drugs, cidofovir and tecovirimat, vaccinia immune globulin and the smallpox vaccine may be used during outbreaks. The illness is usually mild and most of those infected will recover within a few weeks without treatment. Estimates of the risk of death vary from 1% to 10%, although very few deaths as a consequence of monkeypox have been recorded since 2017.

    Monkeypox was first identified as a distinct illness in 1958 among laboratory monkeys in Copenhagen, Denmark. Several species of animal are suspected to act as a natural reservoir of the virus. Although it was once thought to be uncommon in humans, cases have significantly increased since the 1980s, possibly as a result of waning immunity since the stopping of routine smallpox vaccination.

    So why not just restart production of and mass inoculation with the existing Smallpox vaccine? Ah, yes, that would require some semblance of that decidedly-nondisryuptive-innovative concept known as “functioning public health infrastructure”. And no lucrative patents attached to the old-line Smallpox vaccine. Ergo, clearly a nonstarter in our neoliberalized HellWorld.

    1. Mikel

      “So why not just restart production of and mass inoculation with the existing Smallpox vaccine?”
      Makes me also wonder what is going with the patents. Hmmm…

        1. Mikel

          I just know that Fausti has something to do with the monkeypox vaccine research…so more than hope may be needed.
          thanks for the links.

    2. J.

      I think it’s a risk issue not a patent issue.

      The old smallpox vaccine is a mild strain of poxvirus (vaccinia virus). It’s a live virus and therefore somewhat dangerous; some people can catch a fairly bad case of it from the vaccine (for example the immune compromised) and it can also sometimes be transmitted within a household.


      Attenuated/weakened viruses tend to make great vaccines as far as immune response, but they are more risky for a population than recombinant vaccines.

  7. John

    When moving to Nevada, Las Vegas in particular, became popular 30+ years ago, I asked where is the water going to come from. The answer was to ignore the question. Now we know where the water comes from only to discover that the supply is declining. Lawns are preposterous in a desert. Raked sand, cacti, dry land decorative plants if there are such … I confess ignorance… or move to where there is water. But, of course, most folks there have no options. Can the state or county or city outlaw lawns and other such non-essentials.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Canada better start beefing up its military. Ha ha only serious.

      “To be an enemy of America can be dangerous, but to be a friend is fatal.” –Henry Kissinger, who should know.

      1. Roland

        What? For Canadians, patriotism and prostitution are of a piece. As long as our leaders get their percentage, they’re the world’s happiest pimps.

        Besides, those myriad freshwater lakes in the Northlands are wasting assets under the regime of global warming. The region is naturally semi-arid. It’s only the low rate of evaporation that stops our boreal regions from becoming an extension of the Great American Desert.

        So then, my southern friends, go water your lawns, and give us some money! It’s all about the trickle downs.

    2. johnherbiehancock

      here in the Houston burbs, we’ve been in drought AND heat wave conditions for over a month. Sunday was the hottest July day in recorded Houston weather history, and for nearby parts of the area, the hottest day in history, period.

      I’ve slowly been losing shrubs in the front to the heat & lack of water.

      had to take a trip past the exurbs into farmland yesterday, and didn’t see a single corn field still live… ALL in the county I saw were brown & dead, and either cut down or soon to be cut. And the cotton plants were just starting to turn brown.

      these are huge fields too, hundreds or thousands of acres each. Last year was hot, but I don’t remember seeing anything like that.

      gonna get ugly here too; when youre hoping to get hit by a tropical storm or hurricane, time to rethink your land use…

      1. Samuel Conner

        Just wondering out loud in the context of your experience of drought (and it’s relevant to my vegetable) —

        Would a thick layer of mulch make a meaningful difference to plant survival in drought conditions? Would it allow one to save plants by “metering” small rations of water (perhaps reused greywater) that did not violate use restrictions?

        Just wondering what is possible for gardeners to do when water restrictions bite.

        Purslane is drought-tolerant; I’m leaving it in place when weeding the veggie patch and perhaps should learn to appreciate its taste.

        1. ambrit

          Mulching does make a difference, plus it eventually “softens up” your soil as it decays into the soil. I have also read about putting mesh shadow screens above the growing areas to reduce thermal inputs to the ground. Creating a wetter micro-climate is the idea.
          In most areas of America, grey water is classed with ‘black’ water as far as usage is concerned. I have split out grey water sources for people on septic tanks before, but always on the sly. It’s worth your professional license to get caught doing so. I have also set out the parts for doing so and shown the home owner how to do it and then told them to wait until I’m out of sight before starting work. I usually ran the grey water to a simple steel drum settling tank first and the overflow goes to the field. The settling tank, to do it right, should have a baffle in it so as to force the liquid to travrl down and then back up before exiting the contraption. This “encourages” the settling out of sediment. Always put in an air vent after the house and before the tank to facilitate venting of malodourous odours, plus a few explosive miasmas.
          Do be careful about grey water sources that contain chemical based washing concoctions. Some will do unpleasant things to plants, like trigger huge growth spurts followed by the dreaded “brown out.” If grey water becomes part of your gardening strategy, do some study on types of detergants and “choose wisely.”
          Where we are, the heat is generally joined by high humidity, so dry gulch conditions are not usually seen here.
          What is surprising and worrying is that Houston is close to the Gulf of Mexico. For them to be having true drought conditions is ‘of concern,’ to say the least.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            secondedn on the detergents.
            hard to find, out here, but i try to use laundry soap with potassium hydroxide instead of sodium hydroxide.wood lye, iow.
            other than that, i run all of the graywater out of the house where it is(so shower goes out thataway, clawfoot, another, etc)
            laundry is all in a washhouse…glorified porch outside, built from liberated materials, cost my labor to build in an afternoon…and i switch the washer drain hose between 3 different lines(pipe also liberated) that run down 3 fenclines and water 3 rows of fruit trees.
            i sited the washhouse to maximise the coverage.
            clawfoot(in the greenhouse) waters the fruit trees in the south yard/Panyard(Pan statue)/ pocket garden…kitchen sink waters the beds and such off the front porch…and shower goes into the built wetland where the pee gets diverted, for to dilute it and make it more palatable to the cattails and frogs and such.

            i also do not live in town…so no inspectors or codes..in Texas, to boot, with our libertarian property rights regime.
            when we did live in town, i experimented with all this sort of thing…ancient plumbing and city’s ancient sewers would clog…and i’d drill a hole in the wall and run a drain out to the fruit trees.
            at night, pipes spraypainted in camouflage and soon covered with grass and trees.
            i knew that house would be torn down when we were done with it.
            had i been caught experimenting with graywater, it would likely have been a substantial fine…and big bucks for a real plumber

            but, whatever.
            my methods speak for themselves, and can likely be seen from orbit…one patch of green in a world of brown.

            1. Jeremy Grimm

              Are you writing a compendium of the Wisdom and Knowledge gleaned from your experience, study, and insight? If not, I sincerely hope you might start gathering and documenting the wide-ranging and learned practical Wisdom you so obviously possess — no compliments intended — merely my observations of plainly apparent fact. Future times of Humankind could be dark times indeed, without sources of collected and preserved … IMPORTANTLY … preserved … Wisdom and Knowledge. Do it! even if, for no one others than your kin.

              Too much Wisdom and Knowledge could/will be lost in the coming Collapse. What Humankind can retain and promulgate is all that stands between the future times of Humankind and a Dark Age.

              1. ambrit

                Get and protect a paper copy, or two, of “How Things Work.” An invaluable compendium of technical knowledge concerning the “nuts and bolts” of our technical civilization.
                We can probably ‘settle for’ a nineteenth century level of technology in most things with high points where possible. (Imagine desktop computers run by solar powered inverters for a few hours a day.) Much of the basic technology upon which our urban civilization runs is over a hundred years old now.

              2. caucus99percenter

                For one brief era in time, pre Internet, there were enough of us do-it-yourselfer hippies to sustain a whole information-spreading and -preserving ecosystem, with the Whole Earth Catalog and spinoffs as the paper, hold-it-in-your-hands flagship.

              3. Amfortas the hippie

                its on my to-do list.
                if i could ensure my anonymity, somehow, might be a source of modest income, even.
                but i’m 4 years behind on my doins…plus the effects of my necessary neglect during that time(sheep chickens and geese got into the shop repeatedly, for instance…rearranging it to their liking)

                and right now, i’m distracted…body and soul…by the financial fallout of Tam’s death: TRS is stingier than i was led to believe, and i have hard choices in front of me..plus waiting around to see what insurance does, and what probate is like, even though she had no real assets.
                i’m off to talk with my bank president friend(the apocryphal one i talk about who runs the place with an eye to his house burning if he gets too weird) about what some of this strange dialect means, today…even though i expect thoroughly conventional answers, based on numerous unexamined assumptions regarding how i live, and what my wants and needs are.
                (for instance, it’s incomprehensible to such people that i avoid debt and have never had a credit card)

        2. Carla

          If you like Indian lentil dals, purslane makes a great addition. Just search on “purslane dal recipe.” I like to add it — generously — to a good red lentil dal. With some raita and a nice flatbread, this makes a very satisfying meal.

          Since I don’t like the consistency of raw purslane, I don’t care for it in salads, but many people like it that way. It’s very nutritious!

    3. vegasmike

      The Southern Nevada Water Authority does pay $3/sq. ft. to xeriscape your lawn. The program is pretty successful. Unlike many things in Nevada, the Water Authority is a well run public utility. Lawns are not allowed on new construction. And gradually grass on public spaces is being eliminated.

    4. Arizona Slim

      Here in Tucson, my xeriscape is doing just fine. And no, it’s not a collection of cactus and crushed rock. There are trees growing out there!

    5. Wukchumni

      I believe Pavlovegas will be the first big American city to go under, and Nevada has a history of ghost towns so it’ll be a good fit.

  8. drumlin woodchuckles

    The Air Breathers Party is a reasonably short name. A longer clunkier name to make the problem even clearer could be The Other Peoples Air Breather Party. The name makes it clear we all breathe other peoples’ air. But the name is longer and clunkier which is a disadvantage.

    We could have a thousand different parties to split the vote ( or the non-vote) a thousand different ways.
    Perhaps it is a necessary Neo-Cambrian Explosion in politics where forms emerge and get Darwinianly selected for or against. The tragedy is the shortness of time remaining to rescue any vestiges of coherent society and civilization in any recognizable form.

    I would still like a LAND Party ( Legal Abortion New Deal). This LAND is OUR LAND.

      1. ambrit

        I dunno about that.
        The political oppo writes itself on that one. “Hi, I’m a SAP. Are you?”

  9. Lambert Strether Post author

    Finished the UPDATEs. I really wish ProtonMail would choose a better time to fail. They did a big software upgrade recently that included things like adding a Dropbox competitor, but if the basic tool doesn’t work….

  10. drumlin woodchuckles

    About those New Democrats in West Virginia . . . . . maybe they could consider changing the name of the Party to the West Virginia State Democrat Party. They could purge and burn every Manchinite out of the Party and they could find, purge and burn every Clintonite out of the Party, and create the kind of Intelligence/ Counter-Intelligence bureau needed to find and destroy every Manchinite and Clintonite infiltrator sent to infest and destroy their State Democrat Party from within.

    If they could do it, they could help other Takeover Movements to take over Democratic Parties in other States. Which could then rename themselves (Insert State-Name Here) State Democrat Party. And they could pursue the same counter Clintonite, counter Obamazoid disinfection purges in their State Democrat Parties.

    Eventually they could start a Union of State Democrat Parties which could step by step irrelevantise and displace the Democratic Party. Such a Union of State Democrat Parties would have to have a very powerful Bureau of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence to keep every Clintonoma cancer cell and every Yersiniobama pestis plague germ out of their Union of State Democrat Parties. They would have to institute a hard ban on working with any company or consultant that ever worked with the Democratic Party dating from the Coelho corruption era going forward.

    Let the Pink Pussy Hat Obamazoid filth join the Republican Party.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Another possible name-change occurred to me. What if they didn’t call their Democratic Party post-takeover the “West Virginia State Democrat Party” ? What if they called it the Real Democrat Party? Thereby implying that the Democratic Party is not Real Democrats. They could say ” We are the Real Democrats.” And let the Democratic Party deal with its loss of brain-share.

      Every time a distasteful Democrat is running for something, the Real Democrat Party could run someone against that distasteful Democrat and peel the Real Democrat vote away from the Democratic vote.
      ” Vote for the Real Democrat”.

      1. Michael Ismoe

        I am still going with my prediction from 2021. Joe Manchin becomes officially a Republican and Kirsten Sinema becomes an Independent by January 2023. It’s the only way they can win re-election.

  11. Mikel

    “Renters aren’t the only ones frantically searching for homes in New York City — pets are falling victim to the city’s housing wars, too.

    Animal Care Centers of NYC’s three shelters are seeing an increase in people surrendering their pets, largely due to housing costs, Katy Hansen, the director of marketing and communications, told MarketWatch….

    “It’s a problem that appears to be burdening scores of pet owners and lovers nationwide ….”

    Stories from other parts of the country follow,
    An overlooked economic indicator.

  12. Mikel

    “Even at $25 an Hour, Key Tampon Factory Can’t Keep Enough Workers” [Bloomberg]. That’s a damn shame. But if they can’t fill slots at $25 an hour in Maine, yikes. “What’s happening at P&G’s tampon plant is emblematic of the wider squeeze felt by employers across the country, from restaurants to oil drillers. With nearly two open jobs per every unemployed worker, the increased competition has driven up wages and added to inflation pressures, prompting Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell to recently dub the labor market ‘unsustainably hot.’ Labor force participation may never fully bounce back to its pre-pandemic strength, something that could make filling positions an ongoing challenge in the years ahead.” • I’m not sure we have a theory of labor force participation rate….

    I don’t remember the exact post, but not too long ago Yves posted the BLS Labor Participation Chart going back to 1950.
    The labor participation rate has been on an accelerating downward tragectory since 2000! Accelerating…
    And continues even after recessions in post-200 era.
    Covid just made it harder to hide.

    Post 2000. Think about it: Not only declining birth rates, but opiod crisis and mass shootings (not just the dead, but the injured and the traumatized). Then the host of other issues with keeping a workforce healthy with a profit over people healthcare industry.
    Then throw in some increasing automation.

    1. Mikel

      And to add:
      This downward trend in the worker participation rate continued in a low interest rate environment with tax cuts.

    2. johnherbiehancock

      I’ve seen some note (or consider) on twitter that – aside from the elderly – most of those killed or hit hard by COVID were restaurant or wage labor workers (“essential” at one point).

      So maybe this labor shortages has a more ghastly cause than just “people are lazy and don’t want to work?”

      I remember reading about European labor enjoying higher wages in the wake of the Black Death. of course, Medieval Europe didn’t have a federal reserve to raise interest/borrowing costs and crush workers like that

      1. JBird4049

        >>>I remember reading about European labor enjoying higher wages in the wake of the Black Death. of course, Medieval Europe didn’t have a federal reserve to raise interest/borrowing costs and crush workers like that

        Europe did have the death penalty and other harsh punishments essentially including enslavement to deal with recalcitrant workers enforced by angry politicians who passed the laws freezing wages and by landlords and knights willing to use violence. It failed, but some people were harshly punished beforehand. Those who benefit from the system will use what tools are available to them to maintain it.

      2. Mikel

        I’m looking at the BLS chart as showing the trend was downward and accelerating long before Covid.
        Covid just made it harder to hide and called attention to it.

        There are a host of issues affecting the labor participation rate.

        “Not only declining birth rates, but opiod crisis and mass shootings (not just the dead, but the injured and the traumatized). Then the host of other issues with keeping a workforce healthy with a profit over people healthcare industry.
        Then throw in some increasing automation.”

        Covid could end tomorrow and the trend would continue. That’s what I’m saying.

      3. ChrisRUEcon

        > maybe this labor shortages has a more ghastly cause than just “people are lazy and don’t want to work”?

        … scratch the “maybe”.

        It’s already confirmed in the UK (via Reuters), and as I’ve said before: where the UK has trodden (vis-a-vis COVID), so will the US follow. Bullets from the article:

        • UK workforce around 400,000 smaller than before COVID
        • Long-term sickness accounts for two thirds of fall
        • UK’s workforce has shrunk by second-largest percentage in G7
        • BoE fears tight job market may sustain inflation pressure

          1. ChrisRUEcon

            Well, if you mean, there’s jobs open at 7-11 and people are refusing them, I guess this sort of thing is as good a reason as any other. Funny, a few weeks ago, I mentioned to my wife that several 7-11’s in our neck of the woods (just outside Chicago city limits to the west) flat out closed – like disappeared. I found that odd.

            Looks like robbers/killers decided to hit them up along the route of CA-57 (via Google Maps) moving south-to-north from Santa Ana based on the earliest reported crime.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > linked attacks?

            “All of the shootings occurred during armed robberies in the early hours of Monday morning.” But what’s the point of doing the attacks simultaneously?

            I thought the first comment on the Yahoo story was interesting:

            Most 7/11 I go to now a days has one employee, before used to be more than one…putting your self at risk specially late hour or non consumer traffic…get distracted even more when they deal with DoorDash etc now…..

            One employee? Yikes. And of course, yes, distracted by the plague of delivery services.

        1. anon y'mouse

          The other third is probably caretaking some of these long haulers. Or juggling childcare.

      4. hk

        The other response to the Black Death in Europe (in the East) was the intensification of the serfdom (and the practice of slavery in medieval West Africa is linked to labor shortage.)

        1. Dermotmoconnor

          Anyone expecting an automatic pay rise needs to read “a distant mirror” by Barbara tuchman. Any improvement in conditions came after tremendous struggle and in the teeth of hard pushback from the powers that be.
          I get the impression that a lot of people imagine a linear progression to better wages. Ain’t gonna happen absent a huge battle.

    3. JBird4049

      Using the cost of a cheap apartment in the Bay Area, that of two thousand a month, I used $60,000 gross for a single individual with no unusually expenses like a typical California commute.

      $25x40x52=$52,000 (wage per hour times hours per week for the yearly total), but… $28.85x40x52=$60,000

      Without knowing Maine’s cost of living, maybe they need to pay more? The ownership class has been getting an easy ride for far too long.

      1. anon y'mouse

        Where is this plant?

        Lots of Nowhereville plants are not surrounded by available housing and amenities, requiring long commutes at very least.

        Housing and services not built can’t be had at any price, even an inflated one.

        1. Kurtismayfield

          Anywhere in Maine/NH/VT the homes are being snatched up by vacationers and Airbnb. That is causing a huge problem in finding labor in the north country.

      2. notabanker

        I can’t speak for Maine, but in the midwest / ohio valley you cannot use the Bay Area as a barometer. $2K a month is not a cheap apartment here. My kid rented a one bedroom 2 floors down from the penthouse in a primo building downtown for $1200 a month. And then moved out after a year because it was too expensive.

        A $2K a month mortgage buys you a pretty nice house anywhere in the suburbs for around $300K. That same house in the Bay is probably $3 million.

    4. Eureka Springs

      25 should be the national minimum wage. If I were 12 years old this Summer and mowing a neighborhood lawn with my parents free gas and mower I wouldn’t do it for less than 25 an hour.

      1. witters

        If I were 12 years old this Summer and mowing a neighborhood lawn with my parents free gas and mower I wouldn’t do it for less than 25 an hour.

        Let’s compromise. We’ll make it $20 this time. See if you know what you’re doing.

  13. Mildred Montana

    Re: The New Yorker magazine

    Stopped reading it ten years ago. Don’t even check it out anymore. The reply to the tweet says, “They can’t explain anything since Obama was president.”

    They can’t even explain anything when Obama 𝘸𝘢𝘴 President, namely why he was so useless, because they choose not to. They would rather excuse it. You know, Republican obstructionism, etc. etc. etc.

    And the New Yorker’s snobbishness, making out that New York restaurants and culture are on a par with those of Paris, it all just got to be too much. I happen to like french fries, New Yorker food writers, and hold your damned 𝘱𝘰𝘮𝘮𝘦𝘴 𝘧𝘳𝘪𝘵𝘦𝘴.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      They also affect, or might I say . . . ” affectationise ” . . . the usage of Englandish spelling for certain words,
      spelling focused as ” focussed”, for example. So veddy teddibly teddibly Bditish, don’t you know . . .

    2. curlydan

      My mom still gifts me a subscription to The New Yorker. I couldn’t agree more with that tweet. Coverage starting in the Obama years was awful. Running off Sy Hersch was a tell that the editors “couldn’t handle the truth”.

      I still read the magazine occasionally (e.g. I was reading an article on wetlands last night), but I’ve learned to steer clear of any articles on politics, Democrats, and the whole up front section. It’s all just lazy Democratic Party talking points.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        When working on a campaign once, a New Yorker writer was a volunteer late in the game. We looked them up. Vapid is the best description. I complain about people, but this person holds a special place.

    3. Robert Hahl

      The cartoons are not like they used to be either. The last time I checked (about one year ago), there were just two good ones in the whole issue, both by old-timers. The rest were unfunny and borderline stupid.

      1. John

        A friend gives me the New Yorker cartoons calendar each year. I agree that the number of good ones has declined drastically. Unfunny yes. Many are plain stupid, no borderline about it.

  14. flora

    Something’s happening here.

    China crushes mass protest by bank depositors demanding their life savings back


    about same event:

    Citizens storm the Bank of China in Zhengzhou over bank account freezes. Banks froze millions of dollars in deposits last April, simply explaining to savers that they need to upgrade their internal systems. Since then, customers have not received any kind of communication. – RadioGenova


    1. Mikel

      Members of a “criminal gang” accused of taking control of local banks have been arrested in central China after rare protests over alleged financial corruption sparked violent clashes between customers and authorities…
      Local authorities did not immediately comment on the unrest, but police in neighbouring Xuchang city said they had arrested members of an alleged “criminal gang” for their suspected involvement in a scheme to gain control of local banks.

      The gang made illegal transfers through fictitious loans and used their shareholdings — as well as “manipulation of executives” — to effectively take over several local banks starting in 2011, police said late Sunday.

      Henan province’s banking and insurance regulator also said it was “accelerating” plans to tackle the local financial crisis and “protect the legal rights and interests of the broader public”.

      But analysts expect the economic crisis to deepen and the fallout from last year’s collapse of property giant Evergrande to continue…”

    2. PlutoniumKun

      This is the weakness of the Chinese system of having highly interconnected banks, local governments and local investors – when one part of the link fails (in this case, insolvent banks), its not clear who has to pay up – the banks, the local government, or the national government through various depositor guarantees. Inevitably, it all ends up in a big political fight, and usually central government wins.

      Most injections of cash into the economic system to keep the country growing through downturns comes via local governments, not the central bank or Beijing. So there is increasing pressure on local government finances, which are often highly dependent on property values. This is leading to pressure for more, shall we say ‘imaginative’ fund raising and investment decisions made behind closed doors, often by private investors with the active connivance of government officials. Eventually, something has to give – in this case, a series of local banks.

      This particular bank problem not in itself all that serious at a national level, but it is an indicator of the extreme strains going on behind the scenes in the Chinese system. They need a huge overhaul of how government funds itself (maybe someone should tell them about how MMT works), and in particular far more transparency is needed in the local investment/financial system. As the Japanese will tell them, everything can appear manageable until… suddenly its not.

  15. Laughingsong

    “Neoliberal Order Breakdown Syndrome”

    I’m glad that someone found a syndrome name that abbreviates to “NOBS”….. because they just are.

    1. Questa Nota

      His Nobs, His Nibs, from a bygone era.
      Terminology, especially comedic, no longer allowable without update ;p

  16. SD

    Re: Workforce participation: At least around here (northwestern MA, southwestern VT) family businesses seem to be doing okay, although front-line, low-level positions are definitely going unfilled. For instance: Business has never been better at my local trusted car mechanic (people really want to hold onto their cars right now), but the skilled mechanics have been doubling as checkout clerks and receptionists and even gas-pumpers (it’s one of the last full-service gas stations in the area). Similarly, the neighborhood pub/pizza joint is only open 5 days a week right now. It’s a family-owned place but relies on line cooks, waitresses, bartenders, etc., to make things run 7 days a week. My sense is that there’s a circling of the wagons that’s been going on for a while, with people relying on extended family for support in all kinds of ways and basically withdrawing from the big-data-cognizable workforce.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Up to the present, now that my daughter may have found a reliable and profitable way to supplement her income working as a Barista, and recently Manager/Barista, I have been doing what I could to help support her and keep her in her small but very beautiful — as she has decorated it — Brooklyn apartment. She has suffered one brief bout of the Corona flu and remains oblivious to all the concerns I express about the spread of this current and future plague. I have no idea how other young people might fare in the ongoing squeeze between costs and wages, without considerable help from their relatives. I believe many who cannot depend on such outside support, are either homeless and on the streets of the City, or wait for sentences to Rikers. These other ‘workers’ simply cannot afford to work in the City.

  17. Val

    while contemplating the intimate interaction of credentialism and incompetence, this oft-tweeting ‘pert:

    “virus revs up its mutations under selection pressure”

    wow. no. nope. never.

    horse. cart. tempo. mode.

    omg pls just stfu ffs

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Your comment is difficult for old minds like mine to parse. Might you have a more explicit translation?

      1. ambrit

        A bit arcane, but I suspect that Val is questioning the attribution of agency to a virus.

  18. Bill Carson

    Sri Lanka, y’all. This is what the coming collapse looks like.

    “Grocery shelves are barren, and what food is left is increasingly unaffordable. Fuel supplies are so low that people wait in line for days for a few gallons. Some people are marooned at home, while others travel long distances on foot, the main traffic on streets that months ago were busy with cars and auto rickshaws.”

    “Whoever ends up running Sri Lanka will inherit a crisis without an easy resolution. The country is essentially bankrupt, financial straits made worse by rising inflation worldwide. And vital creditors, like India, have indicated that their largess is not unlimited, leaving the country without much ability to import much-needed fuel, food and medicine.”

  19. kareninca

    This is horrifying:

    “Toronto woman facing financial loss of long COVID begins process for medically assisted death”

    Contracting COVID-19 radically changed Tracey Thompson’s life. It’s been more than two years since the initial infection, but her symptoms still dictate her days, leaving her with heavy-weighted fatigue, robbing her of energy and her ability to work.
    Thompson, a Toronto resident in her 50s, says the enduring illness and lack of substantive financial support has led her to begin the process of applying for Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD), a procedure that first became legal in Canada in 2016.

    “[MAiD] is exclusively a financial consideration,” she told CTV News Toronto.

    Tracey Thompson, a Toronto resident in her 50s, contracted COVID-19 more than two years ago. Now, she’s applying for a medically assisted death. (Supplied).
    After 26 months of lost income since the onset of symptoms, no foreseeable ability to work and an absence of support, Thompson said she expects to run out of money in about five months.
    “My choices are basically to die slowly and painfully, or quickly. Those are the options that are left,” she said.
    . . .
    “Since Thompson’s illness is not clearly outlined in the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) eligibility, which currently grants a single applicant a maximum amount of $1,169 a month, she believes it could take years to qualify – something that many Ontarians who’ve applied to the program say is not uncommon. Even if Thompson did qualify, she says the whole sum of the monthly support would, at best, cover her rent.”


    It is not clear that this lady will be granted the right to have herself killed due to facing poverty, but the fact that she is looking at it and it is a real prospect is beyond terrible.

    1. ambrit

      Neoliberal Rule #2 in action.
      Past time to return the favour to our “Masters of the Universe Overlords.” It is quite possible that Skeletor is the real “Hero” of that tale.

  20. GF

    George R. R. Martin will be on PBS “Finding Your Roots” Tuesday July 11 in most USA markets.

    1. Kurtismayfield

      Maybe he can find the time to complete his work in between his daily swims through his gold vauld Scrooge McDuck style.

  21. jr

    I despise The New Yorker for a couple of reasons but the one that really revolts me is how their generally terrible writers love to play the sycophant to many of the personalities they write about. About a year ago there was an article linked here describing some philosophy professor who enjoyed laughing at her students when they asked questions she deemed unworthy. The writer obviously relished her haughtiness and cruelty towards her students, no doubt because he enjoys doing the same thing in his own limited way. If it’s one thing I’ve learned about power, subordinates and mediocrities often love it even if it negatively impacts them personally because they crave it above all else. The New Yorker oozes kiss up, kick down.

    1. Wukchumni

      I grew up on Mad magazine and the New Yorker, and odd combo to be sure…

      I seldom ever read a whole issue of the New Yorker, although it always seemed to have a few gem stories in every issue, but I noticed the writing had largely gone to hell in a handbasket and after 35 years of reading it, let my subscription lapse 5 years ago.

      Their loss-not mine.

      1. Sardonia

        “I grew up on Mad magazine and the New Yorker, and odd combo to be sure…”

        Oh, my. This explains so much! It’s like finding the Master Key to your writing.

        And now I can’t stop wondering why the New Yorker never had a fold-in cartoon on their inside back cover wherein a depiction of Trump! would magnificently transform into one of St. Barack.

      2. britzklieg

        The Mad song parodies were often Lehrer-level genius wordsmithing, and they always scanned! You’ll remember this, sung to the tune of “Downtown” (I’m not sure I remember the last lines correctly but the rest is right).

        Ground Round

        When you eat meat but hate the meat you are eating
        then you’ve surely got
        Ground Round

        It’s so unnerving when they’re constantly serving
        in an eating spot
        Ground Round

        It might be called a chopped steak, salisbury or beef patty
        whatever it is called it’s always overcooked and fatty

        What can you do?

        Speak up to your waiter there
        and loudly pound on the table
        stand up on your chair and shout

        Ground Round
        Why must it always be
        Ground Round
        You’re always feeding me?
        Ground Round
        Will be the end of me…
        Ground Round
        Ground Round
        Ground Round…

      3. Petter

        Just checked or tried to check, hard to get a hard number but it appears that their subscription numbers are up. Googling New Yorker subscription number.
        So, from a business point of view, everything is copacetic. So see you later alligator.
        I was a Mad Magazine fanatic from about the age of ten. Still remember a line which comes to mind when Musk and Mars are mentioned.
        Is there life on Mars?
        Well Saturday nights aren’t too bad. The rest of the week is kind of slow.
        In the Sixties, Esquire was my must have subscription.

        1. Wukchumni

          Esquire was my must have subscription.

          My dad started subscribing to Esquire in the mid 70’s and I couldn’t wait for the Dubious Achievement Awards, which had rather serious wordplay & Tricky Dick, not necessarily in that order.

        2. Sardonia

          Yes, age 10 is just about right for discovery of Mad Magazine. Enough brain development that one can start to see the BS in all Authority, and learn the joys of ridiculing it.

          In the hands of our nation’s Youth, it truly is a Weapon of Mass Instruction.

        3. curlydan

          And the “newsstand” price of the mag is an eye-popping $8.99 (I guess if you’re buying it at the airport?), so if subscriptions are anywhere near flat to up then their retirements are assured, and college tuitions are paid.

        4. ambrit

          Mad was great, but I came in a tad later and gravitated to “National Lampoon Magazine.”
          Mrs. Agnew’s Diary. When satire had fangs.

          1. Wukchumni

            I too ventured toward the National Lampoon, maybe a little Cracked and then years of Private Eye, which was printed on cheap pulp and cheek.

              1. Wukchumni

                One year for xmas I sent about half a dozen friends 6 month subscriptions to Weekly World News, with made up names and their real addresses, such as Doctor Fang, or Inmate #2578, or Roger O. Thornhill or John Jacob Fingleheimerschmidt.

                Photoshop was the death of WWN though, anybody could superimpose a B-24 on a Moon crater now.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              > National Lampoon, Cracked, Private Eye

              I’m surprised to hear nobody mention New York Spy, which combined brilliant, knife’s edge satire with amazing typography and design.

              Spy tagged Trump with “short-fingered vulgarian, so their work lives on.

              1. Wukchumni

                Spy was pretty good, I subscribed to it for a few years, but written humor had been supplanted by word of mouth by that time in the guise of stand up, which included body language.

        5. Lunker Walleye

          Mort Drucker was the perfect character cartoonist for Mad. The whole magazine was topical and they even did a bit on “Shrinkflation” with excellent illustrations showing the waning size of a candy bar with whatever the going rate was in around 1961. Spy v. Spy really struck my 10 year old sense of humor.

      4. jr

        The AI art tweet reminded me of something from my gaming days: fighting bots sucks. No matter how cleverly they are programmed, it’s all just blasting pixels. You need a human behind the target to make the game satisfying. You need to know that someone has lost.

        1. Greg

          Sometimes. Different gamers have different drivers, I’m a builder/explorer so pvp is just annying trolls gone wild to me.

          Meanwhile, the modern co-op market surge is almost entirely about working together to blow bots to pixels – the human interaction that makes it fun doesn’t have to be competitive.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I despise The New Yorker for a couple of reasons

      I’m so old I remember when the New Yorker was good. The time when they had no illustrations, no table of contents, and pages of one-paragraph movie reviews in the front, from which I learned a lot. My mother would put New Yorker covers in frames and hang them on the wall as art.

      I grant that the five-part series on Cargill was a bit much, but for the first two or three decades of my earthly existence, The New Yorker was a consistent and excellent presence in my reading life. What a glorious editorial tradition!

      Then Tina Brown came in and degraded everything. And then, in 2008, Hendryk Herzberg gave The New Yorker its death blow with his Obama coverage. I’m angry and sad about it all to this very day. The problem with the (hegemonic) PMC is the PMC itself….

  22. TimH

    The most obvious environmental problem with artificial grass….

    …is actually that the land under it is essentially dead to all life. Want a graveyard that looks like grass?

    Plenty of low water options.

    The other stupidity of ‘front lawns’ is that they slope towards the road and so sprinkler water simply runs off.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > sprinkler water simply runs off

      And from thence to the street, into a gutter, and then to the sewage system. Instead of soaking into the soil.

      Hard surfaces are bad, bad, bad.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Porous paviors work quite well for hard surfacing. The Dutch as you’d expect are very very good at designing urban areas that absorb, rather than drain off, rainwater. They use very clever mixes of porous surfacing and landscaping. They also put lawns in the one place they belong – on roofs. I’ve even seen rabbits used on roofs too keep the grass down. Apparently one Dutch factory used sheep for this purpose, but were stopped by their insurance company after one fell off and landed on a visitor.

  23. Wukchumni

    It is worth noting that the red blotch in Cali on the CDC map is almost entirely in Godzone (an area from Bakersfield to roughly Elk Grove) where the evangs by and large don’t believe in Covid, as they put more faith in a book written long after events supposedly took place.

    Tulare County-the epicenter of evangs, barely got to 50% vaccination rate late last year.

    One of the cabin owners here-a fervent evang, told me ‘you know, more people have died from the vaccination, than Covid’.

    That’s their mentality…

      1. LifelongLib

        I’m double-vaxed and double-boosted because I think that for me a full-blown case of covid is probably more dangerous than the vaccine (age 66, no vaccine side effects to speak of).

        There apparently is some number of people for whom the vaccine is more dangerous than covid. Since the vaccine does not stop transmission it seems to me that people in that situation should be able to opt out of getting it, without penalty.

        Unfortunately what ought to be an informed medical decision has become one of ideology and politics.

      2. TBellT

        If they don’t believe in Covid in general, Im guessing theyre not utilizing NPIs either.

    1. kareninca

      I live in Silicon valley and nearly everyone I know is an atheist and they’re all vaccinated and boosted. And they all seem to have covid. And they all travel for pleasure now, and eat out constantly. The wastewater numbers here last week were as high as at the peak of omicron. I’m not sure that the people here are any more rational than the ones in Tulare.

      Both sets of people do the same thing – eagerly expose themselves to covid – but they talk about it differently. Their beliefs and their yakking about their beliefs are epiphenomena.

      1. Dermotmoconnor

        The sil valley types are also religious… just that their religion is “science” … Or a bastard tech version of.

  24. ChrisRUEcon


    The Walgreens Tracker validates the case number suppression at a factor of ~ 5:1.

    From end-of-January peak:
    Positivity Rate: 41.8%
    Total Tests: 200,116

    From July 10th peak
    Positivity Rate: 41.2%
    Total Tests: 39,951


    Anyone suggesting that you can see that level of positivity with the low-level diddling and fiddling of the case numbers is nuts. #IceCreamManBad pulled an #OrangeManBad:

    “If we stop [free] testing right now, we’d have very few cases, if any,”

    Just like the waste-water, the test-positivity doesn’t lie.

    1. ChrisRUEcon

      #TheBezzle #Cricket #India

      Oh man, this one’s for you, Jerri-Lynn … LOL

      “Police have shut down a fake Indian Premier League built to fool Russian gamblers. Labourers paid to pretend to be pro cricketers, games streamed online, crowd noises downloaded and played over the top. Got to the quarter finals before they were caught.”

      (via Twitter/BBC)

      1. Jen

        I think the idea is that if the positivity rate is the same as it is in January and there were 200K tests in January vs 39K in July, 200K/39K = 5 times the # of cases.

        1. ChrisRUEcon

          A poor choice of words – “supports” would be better. At the end of the day, how can you predicate policy (partially) on “# of cases” when you’re he’ll bent on “not knowing” how many cases there really are? They’re collecting 80% less data. It would not matter if policy was based on “positivity”.

  25. Pat

    I may put my waders on and read The NY Times Adams article.

    In the day late, dollar short category Adams shut down the city’s free testing sites but has now set up mobile test to treat vans. This report seems more even handed, but the one I first encountered focused on paxlovid, and indicated that the prescription could be filled by the patient’s pharmacy, no mention of free delivery. It all sounds good, but I have questions, and am just cynical enough to wonder how much of this is just to boost Pfizer’s profits.

    Adams test and treat vans

    1. ChrisRUEcon

      > In the day late, dollar short category

      … well, hold on. Per the case number suppression Lambert points out, I wonder if we’ll see a spike in reported cases and subsequently, non-vax/drug remediation measures (masking for example) reinstated.


      1. Pat

        Masking is a useful preventative. Not requiring it or better ventilation or any other non pharmaceutical preventative measures is SOP here. Providing antivirals and monoclonal antibodies after infection, treatments which may not provide any lasting therapeutic benefit and particularly in the case of Paxlovid lead to difficult rebound cases is most definitely a day late.

        One might think the consideration is not the health of NYers, but only getting them back to work faster.

        1. ChrisRUEcon

          > the consideration is not the health of NYers, but only getting them back to work faster


          It was always the plan …

  26. Wukchumni

    I never understood the mentality for paying oh so much for a Rolex that for whatever reason, tells the exact same time as a $25 Timex, but luxury watches are one of the few outward identifiers for a man that he has wealth, so there’s that.

    Another funny one is often the spokespersons for Rolex are pro golf & tennis stars, sports in which nobody keeps time, aside from newly instituted bathroom breaks in tennis which are limited to 3 minutes.

    My longtime backpacking partner claims there is only 2 times of day in the wilderness, daytime & nighttime, and you can easily figure out within half an hour what time it is anyway by just seeing where the Sun is in the sky.

    1. Soredemos

      I’m sorry, but aren’t you some sort of goldbug that is always scoffing at fiat money as having no real worth? I just find it strange to see someone like you perplexed at people putting undue value in what is basically a type of fetish object.

    1. QR

      A fascinating book indeed! I’d had no idea that erasable tables were made in that way. Thanks for sharing!

  27. Pat

    So let me get this straight, a whole 191 people couldn’t or wouldn’t pick anything from the list of reasons they didn’t want Biden as President (the numbers didn’t make a whole) and the “winning” reason was age. And that driven by the age range most likely to recognize deteriorating conditions. Gosh, I know what I think of that Sienna Poll.

  28. Wukchumni

    Mission Statement Impossible:

    …this message will self destruct in 5 seconds

    The company, for example, used a “kill switch” that cut access to Uber servers and blocked authorities from grabbing evidence during raids in at least six countries.

    1. Mikel

      Reminds me of how the Tesla’s being driven on automation revert control back to the driver barely seconds before impact so that it won’t look like the over-hyped cruise control is responsible.

  29. Jason Boxman

    Because Markets, go Die has a predictable affect upon the population: The Age of Distracti-pression

    The block quotes won’t post, for whatever reason, so I leave this as it is for reflection.

    First, the broad strokes: In 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 15.8 percent of American adults took prescription pills for mental health. During the pandemic, the National Center for Health Statistics teamed up with the Census Bureau to carry out quick online “pulse” surveys and tracked mental health prescription pill use.

    The numbers they turned up echo what we already sense: We are depressed, anxious, tired and distracted. What’s new is this: Almost a quarter of Americans over the age of 18 are now medicated for one or more of these conditions.

    But for some age groups, that change has been more pronounced. Since 2017, there has been a 41 percent increase in antidepressant use for the teenagers included in the Express Scripts data (which consists of roughly 19 million people.) For this same 13- to 19-year-old bracket, in the first two years of the pandemic, there was a 17.3 percent change in anxiety medications. It had been a 9.3 percent rate of change between 2017 and 2019.

    Whoa, this is messed up.

    1. Jason Boxman

      From the comments there, by Pat from Philly:

      @KT, I agree that the article doesn’t seem to promote stigma. However, as a psychotherapist in private practice for 20 years, I can definitely say that the political and cultural climate since Trump was elected has contributed to the anxiety and depression of many. Trump’s election was a shock to many, upending a sense of stability and safety, of faith in our democracy. Suddenly it seemed like old norms of decency no longer applied, and people were – and are – scared for their safety, especially women and minorities. People with PTSD were getting triggered left and right because Trump reminded them of their abuser. Interestingly, Trump supporters were also more anxious because Trump painted a portrait of all non-Trumpers as evil and threatening. Never before in my practice have I seen large numbers of my clients talk about being adversely impacted by social and political events.

      Ouch, not the first commenter there to mention Trump as the proximate cause of mental health decline. Sounds like the Brunch crowd had it the worst.

      Or maybe it was the media, going all in on evil Trump all day, all night.

      Perhaps the real purveyor of mental health damage is the Establishment Media?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Never before in my practice have I seen large numbers of my clients talk about being adversely impacted by social and political events.

        If you can afford a shrink who does the talking cure….

  30. Wukchumni

    Rapture Index: Closes down one on Wild Weather. “The lack of activity has downgraded this category” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 188. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.) I’ve been waiting for the Rapture Index to hit the all time high again. Now it has. UPDATE And now it retreats. Really?!
    I’m as rapture ready as the next pantheist and think of the good news in that if the true believers get whisked away, all of their stuff will immediately come on the marketplace, greatly alleviating the supply shortage, a silver lining of sorts.

  31. The Rev Kev

    ‘Otherwise we’d very likely have heard it was fomite.’

    Had a thought the other day about Coronavirus and how it spreads. In the first few months of the Pandemic, the big fear was in fomite spread. At the time I was even experimenting with using an ATM with a disposable toothpick. It took way, way too long for authorities to say that yeah, it was spread by aerosol transmission all along in defiance of all the evidence. So right now the strategy is herd-immunity and pretending that vaccines will protect us. And of course this means that this virus gets to evolve into all sorts of variants that spreads like you wouldn’t believe. So my question is this. What if one day soon that another variant arises. One that not only spreads by aerosols but also by rapid fomite transmission as well?

  32. Mikel

    “Even at $25 an Hour, Key Tampon Factory Can’t Keep Enough Workers” [Bloomberg].

    And one more question that I would have about this: How are they trying to recruit workers? Online only? Are all applications and resumes going through algorithms first? Because that would also say volumes.

    And I’m getting at the features that throw out applications of people that have been unemployed for a few months. Nobody asks why. Nobody lets the applicant give a reason.

    Then there’s a host of other discriminatory features (that have nothing to do with ability and skills) built into the algorithms.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > algorithms

      I’m sure that plays a part. Also online job application sites that are impossible to use, no doubt by design as a sorting device (“We want them to be really dedicated”).

  33. NotTimothyGeithner

    Bedingfield must be big mad, to hurl a grenade like that.

    Given Biden’s public approval, I think this is the operative phrase:

    “Kate Bedingfield, the outgoing comms director,

    Psaki scored a show, and perhaps, I’m being optimistic, but this has strong “shown the door” energy.

  34. Mikel

    “Whose breath are you breathing?” [RNZ]
    “Perhaps we could form a political party: The Air Breathers’ Party. Because as this article makes vividly clear, breathing is a social relation.”

    A theme song for the new party:

    This Air I Breathe – The O’Jays

    “This air I breathe
    It don’t belong to me
    I suck it in
    I blow it out
    It just won’t stay in my mouth….”

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Tomorrow I will be expected to Testify


      Also, I’m sure if there were some NCers on the Zoom call you could at least boost the numbers, and might even be able to ask a pointed question or two.

  35. ChrisPacific

    Wow, that yacht charter article… We used to do this when I was young, but it was typically a coastal bareboat charter of a smaller vessel (say 30 feet) that could be easily crewed by a family if they all knew what they were doing. And it had, you know, a sail. Because it’s a yacht.

    It’s clear from this article that they are talking about something altogether different. They sound like small, private, high end cruise liners. Nobody is going to be putting a reef in a mainsail, or even doing any actual sailing. They’re just there to sip cocktails while the crew do the work, and be reminded not to wear high heels on the deck.

  36. square coats

    Lambert- sharing your caveats, and perhaps lending support to your theory indirectly, my parents had me quite later in their lives than is/was typical and I’ve often found that there are certain difficult to exactly pin down things I have more in common with people 15-20 years older than me than with those in my more immediate age cohort. So my own theory is that possibly one’s parents’ age cohort(s) have some real albeit nondescript influence on socially shareable aspects of experience. Or something like that anyway.

    1. hunkerdown

      Very similar here. Theoretically, the older one’s “parents” are, the more experienced and developed their perspectives should be, the more contradictions will already be pre-integrated in the perspective one absorbs, and the less interesting will seem the standard dilemmas and conundrums the rest of one’s age cohort is working through. It’s a bit like skipping a grade in elementary school.

  37. thoughtfulperson

    At this point the only US covid numbers I think have much connection with reality are wastewater, and the very slow to determine, excess deaths.

    I guess I should add variant proportions, frustratingly slow though it is to see actual data.

    Anecdotally here in central Virginia many now have covid, probably a BA5 wave coming through. In my personal network I’ve not heard of long covid cases at a rate of 1 in 5. So far (since start in 2020) I think just 1 case.

  38. thoughtfulperson

    Something is going on with currency exchange rates.

    Many are at lows for the year vs the USDollar. Euro at 20 year low.

    However China CNY, India INR and the Ruble are not. These are mostly middle range for year or stronger for Ruble.

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