2:00PM Water Cooler 9/22/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Italian Sparrow, Castello di Riomaggiore, Liguria, Italy. “Gathering in large tree to roost.” My favorite sparrow sound, indeed one of my favorite sounds.

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Politics

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

“Here’s food for thought, had Ahab time to think; but Ahab never thinks; he only feels, feels, feels” –Herman Melville, Moby Dick

“You can’t really dust for vomit.” Nigel Tufnel, This is Spinal Tap

Capitol Seizure

“Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court justice, to answer Jan. 6 committee questions – lawyer” [Reuters]. “‘I can confirm that Ginni Thomas has agreed to participate in a voluntary interview with the Committee,’ Mark Paoletta, an attorney for Thomas, said in an email, confirming an earlier CNN report. ‘As she has said from the outset, Mrs. Thomas is eager to answer the Committee’s questions to clear up any misconceptions about her work relating to the 2020 election,’ he wrote. A lawyer for Thomas has said previously Thomas had no role in the Jan. 6 attack and never discussed election litigation strategy with [Pence advisor John] Eastman.”

Biden Administration

“Biden approves disaster declaration for hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico” [NBC]. “About 41% of all water service customers, or over 520,000, still did not have water access as of Wednesday morning, according to Puerto Rico’s Water and Sewage Authority. A larger number of Puerto Ricans also remain without electricity.”

2022

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“Notes on the State of the Primaries: Sept. 21, 2022” [Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball]. “2022 was the first election cycle since 1998 where no incumbent Senators or governors who ran for reelection were denied renomination. Though there was considerably more turnover at the House level, over 96% of members who are seeking another term made it through the primary phase (we are assuming that all 6 members of Louisiana’s delegation, who all have safe seats, will ultimately prevail).”

AZ: “Kelly leading Masters by 12 points in Arizona Senate race: poll” [The Hill]. “Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) is leading his Republican challenger Blake Masters by a 12-point margin in the race to hold his seat in November, according to a new poll. An Ohio Predictive Insights (OHPI) poll released Wednesday found that Kelly is backed by 47 percent of likely voters, while Masters has support from 35 percent. Libertarian Marc Victor received support from 6 percent of those surveyed, while 12 percent said they were undecided.” • I wonder if the DNC is funding the libertarian….

GA: “Opinion | Is Stacey Abrams Really a Political Star?” [Politico]. “The narrative about her has been that, unbowed and undefeated, she’s fighting a righteous battle against the voter suppression that denied her her rightful victory the first time around, and — as a charismatic figure of unbounded talent — she’s heading for bigger and better things than narrow defeats in state-wide elections. As it happens, she may be headed for an even less narrow defeat in exactly the same state-wide election. Come November, she may look more like Beto O’Rourke than Barack Obama. There’s no doubt that Abrams is a talented organizer whose voter registration and turn-out efforts helped move the needle in Georgia. She also has performative ability, and the enthusiastic support of a cadre of loyalists — a category of people that seemingly includes everyone who does a profile of her. New York Magazine wondered in the headline of its 2019 profile if she’d run for governor, senator, vice president or president — the world was her oyster. Vogue asked, “Can Stacey Abrams save American democracy?” A Washington Post Magazine piece about her famously included an arty, moody picture of her staring off into the distance wearing what looked like the cape of a superhero.” • Gad. I assume Neera Tanden set up those stories….

2024

“Five scenarios that could help Joe Biden” [The Hill]. “‘Look, my intention as I said to begin with is that I would run again,’ Biden said in an interview with ’60 Minutes’ that aired Sunday. ‘But it’s just an intention. But is it a firm decision that I run again? That remains to be seen.'” • The scenarios depend on various levels of performance by Democrats in the midterms.

“Trump vs. DeSantis in 2024? USA TODAY/Suffolk poll shows Florida Republicans prefer their governor” [USA Today]. “In a hypothetical 2024 presidential primary in the Sunshine State, DeSantis leads Trump 48%-40%. That’s a reversal from a poll of Florida in January, when Trump led DeSantis 47%-40%.”

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.

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Republican Funhouse

“The Power Latent in a Countercultural Right” [The Upheaval]. “[T]he youth of today, bombarded 24/7 as they are with an official ideological Message that is suffocatingly all-pervasive and repeated with a rhythm as subtle as a jack-hammer, and finding themselves lost with an unfulfilled human yearning for normality and truth in a society saturated with thermobaric levels of gaslighting, just might do the natural thing and rebel. And if they do, they’re likely to rebel in the only direction they now can: by becoming more traditionalist and conservative. Far out, I know!” • This argument periodically pops up. Hasn’t happened yet. Maybe if the Republicans could broaden their idea of what is traditional to include unions? They seem quite popular among young folks these days.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Wounded City” [Philadelphia Inquirer]. “To capture just a glimpse of the summer’s epidemic and document its unrelenting toll, Inquirer journalists in early August visited the scene of every shooting during a single weekend in nearly real-time. In the weeks that followed, they attended funerals, spoke with survivors as they sought to heal, visited with neighbors afraid to leave their homes, and tried to understand why the shootings occurred. Their reporting presents a microcosm of the violence many Philadelphians endure every single day, and what’s driving it: people using guns to resolve trivial disagreements; only one in four shootings resulting in charges; unsolved shootings festering and leading to threats of retaliation; neighborhood groups beefing over social media; and untold grieving families and shooting survivors facing searing trauma in the aftermath. And yet that weekend’s gun violence was cruelly average.” And: “‘In a majority of shootings, people know who did it,’ Capt. John Walker, head of the Police Department’s nonfatal shooting unit, would later explain. ‘They are going to allow themselves to digest it a bit first, and then decide what way they’re going to go: are they going to let law enforcement handle it, the streets handle it, or handle it themselves?’ Increasingly, people opt for the latter two. While the Police Department does not compile data on the motives behind nonfatal shootings, nearly 20% of homicides last year were retaliatory, determined to be motivated by revenge against someone for a past assault or insult, or an attack against a rival group over a perceived beef. This motive saw a 145% jump over the year before, according to police statistics.” • Heading toward Cormac McCarthy territory. Very sad, because Philly is a wonderful city.

“Suspect free after admitting he mowed down ‘Republican’ teen over politics” [New York Post]. “‘Brandt admitted to striking the pedestrian with his car because he had a political argument with the pedestrian and believed the pedestrian was calling people to come get him,’ the court document continues. “Brandt admitted to leaving the scene of the incident and returning shortly after where he called 911.'” • North Dakota.

#COVID19

• “‘Can’t work at a desk’: What it’s like to be out of work with Long COVID” [Yahoo News]. • Handy map:

Yikes.

• ”Pulmonary Dysfunction after Pediatric COVID-19″ [Radiology]. n=54. “Between August and December 2021, a cross-sectional, prospective clinical trial using low-field MRI was performed in children and adolescents from a single academic medical center. The primary outcome was the frequency of morphologic changes on MRI. Secondary outcomes included MRI-derived functional proton ventilation and perfusion parameters…. Low-field MRI showed persistent pulmonary dysfunction in both children and adolescents recovered from COVID-19 and with long COVID.”

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• Maskstravganza: Special hat tip to Joe Biden for destroying the domestic mask industry:

• Maskstravaganza: Teaching opportunity:

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• Another teaching opportunity:

• “Effectiveness of HEPA Filters at Removing Infectious SARS-CoV-2 from the Air” [American Society for Epidemiology]. “Air filtration simulation experiments quantitatively showed that an air cleaner equipped with a HEPA filter can continuously remove SARS-CoV-2 from the air. The capture ratios for SARS-CoV-2 in the air when the air cleaner was equipped with an antiviral-agent-coated HEPA filter were comparable to those with the conventional HEPA filter, and there was little effect on SARS-CoV-2 in the air that passed through the antiviral-reagent-coated HEPA filter.” • A lot of pushback on the thread for this study from Hospital Infection Control community, who are insisting on an RCT, the counter-argument being that this is engineering, the laws of physics, hence no RCTs are required. We don’t test parachutes where half the subjects get placebos, do we?

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Case Count

Case count for the United States:

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 nominal 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 ~60,500. Today, it’s ~59,200 and 59,200 * 6 = a Biden line at 355,200. (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. If you look at the Fauci line, you will see that despite the bleating and yammering about Covid being “over,” we have only just recently reached the (nominal) case level of November 1, 2021, and we are very far from that of July 1, 2021. And the real level is much worse.

Lambert here: The fall in case count looks impressive enough. What the Fauci Line shows, however, is that we have at last achieved the level of the initial peak, when New York was storing the bodies in refrigerator trucks. So the endzone celebrations are, to my mind, premature. Not that anyone will throw a flag. Of course, the real story is in the charts for California and the South. See below.

Regional case count for four weeks:

The South:

The South (minus Texas and Florida):

I should probably give the South (minus Texas and Florida) a shoutout for the steady decrease. Encouraging!

The West:

California on a high plateau all of its own. A sudden jump, and then no doubling behavior? What’s up with that?

Wastewater

Wastewater data (CDC), September 18:

Lambert here: I added all the dots back in. The number of grey dots really concerns me. How can all the sites for international air travel center New York be grey (“no recent data”). And California’s pretty gappy, too.

For grins, September 13:

NOTE Finally got the page to load. I had to turn off my VPN. Thanks for the security breach, CDC.

Positivity

From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, September 22:

-2.2%. Good news!

Transmission

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.

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.)

NOT UPDATED Rapid Riser data, by county (CDC), September 20:

I suppose that if case counts are indeed level, it’s likely there would be few rapid risers.

Previous Rapid Riser data:

NOT UPDATED Hospitalization data, by state (CDC), September 20:

If I had been fooled by CDC’s “Community Levels” okey-dokey, I’d be pretty happy right now.

NOTE: Rapid Riser and Hospitalization data are updated Wednesdays and Fridays.

Variants

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), September 10:

Still no sign of BA.2.75 at Walgreens, despite its appearance in CDC data below.

NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (CDC), August 27 (Nowcast off):

Two highlights: BA.4.6 has assumed a slightly greater proportion (more in the NowCast model, which I refuse to use). Also, first appearance of BA.2.75. So where is it, you ask?

The above chart shows variants nationally. I have gone through the CDC regions and made a table. As you can see, BA.2.75 is prominent in Region 2 (New York and New Jersey), followed by Region 5 (Midwest), and Region 1 (Northeast). Hmm.

Table 1: CDC Regional BA.2.75 Data, Sorted by % Total

CDC Region % Total States in Region
Region 2: 0.8% New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands
Region 5: 0.7% Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin
Region 1: 0.7% Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont
Region 3: 0.4% Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia
Region 4: 0.4% Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee
Region 7: 0.3% lowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska
Region 6: 0.0% Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas
Region 8: 0.0% Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming
Region 9: 0.0% Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands….
Region 10: 0.0% Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington

Let’s see if BA.2.75 starts doubling.

Deaths

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Lambert here: Not sure why World in Data changed the color to red.

Total: 1,080,356 – 1,079,206 = 1150 (1150 * 365 = 419,750, which is today’s LivingWith™* number (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, though they can talk themselves into anything. Fluctuates quite a bit, but even the low numbers are bad). I have added an anti-triumphalist black Fauci Line.

It’s nice that for deaths I have a 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

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose by 5 thousand to 213,000 in the week that ended September 17th, below market expectations of 218,000. It marked a slight increase from the previous week’s downwardly revised value, which was the lowest since May, still pointing to a tight labor market.”

Manufacturing: “United States Kansas Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Kansas City Fed’s Manufacturing Production Index recovered to 2 in September 2022 from -9 in the prior month. Still, factory growth remained downbeat, led by decreased activity at durable goods plants, primarily electrical, furniture, nonmetallic mineral, primary metal, fabricated metal, and transportation equipment manufacturing.”

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Commodities: “A Great Copper Squeeze Is Coming for the Global Economy” [Bloomberg]. “The price of copper — used in everything from computer chips and toasters to power systems and air conditioners — has fallen by nearly a third since March. Investors are selling on fears that a global recession will stunt demand for a metal that’s synonymous with growth and expansion. You wouldn’t know it from looking at the market today, but some of the largest miners and metals traders are warning that in just a couple of years’ time, a massive shortfall will emerge for the world’s most critical metal — one that could itself hold back global growth, stoke inflation by raising manufacturing costs and throw global climate goals off course. The recent downturn and the under-investment that ensues only threatens to make it worse…. Inventories tracked by trading exchanges are near historical lows. And the latest price volatility means that new mine output — already projected to start petering out in 2024 — could become even tighter in the near future.”

The Bezzle: “Google co-founder’s flying car startup is winding down” [CNBC]. • We were supposed to have flying cars by now. What’s up with that?

The Bezzle: “Meta Sued for Skirting Apple Privacy Rules to Snoop on Users” [Bloomberg]. “Meta Platforms Inc. was sued for allegedly building a secret work-around to safeguards that Apple Inc. launched last year to protect iPhone users from having their internet activity tracked. In a proposed class-action complaint filed Wednesday in San Francisco federal court, two Facebook users accused the company of skirting Apple’s 2021 privacy rules and violating state and federal laws limiting the unauthorized collection of personal data. A similar complaint was filed in the same court last week. The suits are based on a report by data privacy researcher Felix Krause, who said that Meta’s Facebook and Instagram apps for Apple’s iOS inject JavaScript code onto websites visited by users. Krause said the code allowed the apps to track ‘anything you do on any website,’ including typing passwords.” • Those crooks just can’t help themselves, can they?

Tech: “iPhone 14 iFixit teardown shows Apple’s learning on repairs” [The Register]. The deck: “Or was forced into a rethink by legislation.”The iPhone 14 harbors a secret that’s a pretty big deal: The internals have been redesigned to make it more repairable, says iFixit. Gone is an excessive use of glue and solder, iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens said in his iPhone 14 teardown report. Instead, Wiens said, the iPhone 14 features a butterfly-style design with a pop-off screen and back plate that can be removed with nothing but a single pair of screws, as you can see below. Wiens said the iPhone 14’s design is a ‘dramatic rethinking’ of Apple’s flagship device that signals right-to-repair advocates have won yet another victory against Apple, a long-standing opponent of the self-repair movement. But the legislative tide is turning and Apple sees which way the wind is blowing.” • See NC on right to repair here.

Tech: “Google loses EU appeal and is fined a record $4 billion” [Axios]. “Google suffered a significant loss Wednesday when a European court denied its appeal of an antitrust decision and issued a fine of 4.1 billion euro ($4.13 billion), a record penalty. Google had challenged an earlier EU ruling that said it used its Android mobile operating system to stymie rivals, but Europe’s second-highest court upheld it. The hefty fine and ruling is a win for top EU antitrust official Margrethe Vestager, who has aggressively prosecuted Big Tech companies, and could set a precedent for future European antitrust rulings covering tech giants.” • Why the small fine?

The Economy: “Christian Sewing’s keynote at the Handelsblatt Banken Summit 2022” [Deutsche Bank]. Sewing is CEO of Deutsche.

I am delighted to be with you today at a time that is more challenging than anything I have experienced in more than 30 years of banking. While the Covid pandemic proved to be a temporary shock to the world economy, Russia’s war against Ukraine has destroyed a number of certainties on which we built our economic system over the past decades.

– The brakes have been applied to globalisation and, in the face of major geopolitical tensions, it is unlikely to pick up its old momentum any time soon.

– As a result, many seemingly perfect global value and supply chains have been disrupted.

– The workforce, which for a long time was thought to be available without limit, has become a bottleneck factor worldwide.

– At the same time, electricity and gas have become scarce and extremely expensive. Energy is set to stay an expensive commodity in Europe for some time. This represents a structural competitive drawback and it is a threat to our economy. In the long term, we will need to respond with structural solutions.

– These points are the most important reasons for soaring inflation. As a result, we will no longer be able to avert a recession in Germany.

And:

[W]e have been under the illusion for the past 30 years that we could live forever in an ever more globalised world with no major conflicts and with steady growth. Francis Fukuyama has often been criticised for equating the end of the Cold War with the “end of history”. But de facto we acted as if this thesis was correct; we have been acting as if the world was on its way to becoming one big village where everyone is interested in economic cooperation because, after all, everyone benefits from it. That has stopped being the case for some time now, though.

Of course, this is Deutsche. Nevertheless, interesting reading.

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 29 Fear (previous close: 30 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 40 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 22 at 1:11 PM EDT.

The Gallery

Summer fun:

Beach fun:

Yes, the title says nothing about the beach, but everybody’s a comedian, so….

Zeitgeist Watch

“Facebook Proven to Negatively Impact Mental Health” (press release) [Tel Aviv University]. “The study was based on data that dates back to the 2004 advent of Facebook at Harvard University, before it took the internet by storm. Facebook was initially accessible only to Harvard students who had a Harvard email address. Quickly spreading to other colleges in and outside the US, the network was made available to the general public in the US and beyond in September 2006. The researchers were able to analyze the impact of social media use by comparing colleges that had access to the platform to colleges that did not. The findings show a rise in the number of students reporting severe depression and anxiety (7% and 20% respectively). …. The study combined information from two different datasets: the specific dates on which Facebook was introduced at 775 American colleges, and the National College Health Assessment (NCHA), a survey conducted periodically at American colleges…. the methodology also considered any differences in mental health over time or across colleges that were not related to Facebook. This approach enabled conditions similar to those of a ‘natural experiment,’ which would be impossible today now that billions of people around the world use many different social networks.”

“How Gaslighting Manipulates Reality” [Scientfic American]. “Our task as sociologists is to follow the elusive, topsy-turvy ways in which social domination operates. We must follow what sociologist Avery Gordon calls the “spells of power” and the way patterns of noncredibility are established. By taking gaslighting seriously, we can learn about the relation between macro-level inequalities and the “micro” forms of silencing and disempowerment that people experience in their everyday lives.” And: “After conducting 122 interviews over six months and analyzing the patterns that make up this form of abuse, I became most intrigued by the social contexts where we find gaslighting, and its relation to inequalities around gender, sexuality, class, ability and race. Unsurprisingly, gaslighting does not involve just one of these axes of identity—rather people experience gaslighting intersectionally [of course!], meaning that factors such as age, race, gender and sexuality all matter for the way people’s realities are distorted, questioned or denied. Based on my sample, there appear to be four central relationships or contexts in which gaslighting typically occurs: domestic violence; intimate partners who are not otherwise abusive; parents and other family members; and institutional gaslighting, primarily in the workplace.” • In my view, the term “gaslighting” was invented in the blogosphere in 2003 – 2006, and applied to Iraq WMDs and Bush Administration propaganda generally*; I remember finding the movie poster for the 1944 film and putting it in my blog. Nothing to do with “intersectionality” at all; straightforward indictment of an increasingly sick political situation. But grifters gotta grift. NOTE * Possibly to DHS Secretary Tom Ridge’s ludicrous color-coded system of terror alerts; it’s been a long time, and there’s been a lot of link rot.

Groves of Academe

“Quantifying hierarchy and dynamics in US faculty hiring and retention” [Nature]. “Prestige plays a central role in structuring the US professoriate. Analyses of faculty hiring networks, which map who hires whose graduates as faculty, show unambiguously in multiple fields that prestigious departments supply an outsized proportion of faculty, regardless of whether prestige is measured by an extrinsic ranking or reputation scheme or derived from the structure of the faculty hiring network itself. Prestigious departments also exhibit ‘social closure’ by excluding those who lack prestige, facilitated by relatively stable hierarchies over time, both empirically and in mathematical models of self-reinforcing network dynamics.”

Class Warfare

“Home Depot workers petition to form 1st store-wide union” [ABC]. “Home Depot workers in Philadelphia have filed a petition with the federal labor board to form what could be the first store-wide union at the world’s largest home improvement retailer. The petition, filed with the National Labor Relations Board this week, seeks to form a collective bargaining unit for 274 employees who work in merchandising, specialty and operations. The federal agency’s database shows no other attempts to form a store-wide union at the company, though a group of Home Depot drivers successfully unionized with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in 2019.” • Not all the news from Philly is bad.

“Airline’s Pitch to Aspiring Pilots: Fly Our Planes Now, Work for Us Later” [Wall Street Journal]. “Regional airline company Mesa Air Group Inc. MESA -0.78%▼ is offering a new way for pilots who have gone through initial training to build up the hundreds of additional flying hours they need to qualify for airline jobs. The airline, which flies for United Airlines Holdings Inc., American Airlines Group Inc. and cargo carrier DHL Express, said Thursday that it acquired 29 small two-seat planes with options to buy as many as 75 more over the next year. It plans to extend pilots interest-free loans to fly those planes around until they have accumulated the hours they need to work at Mesa. ‘I really believe this will crack open the nut in terms of all these pilots out there trying to build time,’ Jonathan Ornstein, Mesa’s chief executive, said in an interview.” • More debt? Really? Why not just give the hours away?

News of the Wired

Haiti, ahead of the curve, as usual (guurst):

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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 PH:

PH writers: “To continue with the sunflower theme, this is a pic I took a few years ago in my garden on the crest of the Cascade Range in South Central Washington. There is one of my honeybees and a couple of native bees. A nice Fibonacci lure to draw them in.”

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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.

104 comments

  1. playon

    Lambert, just wanted to thank you for your ongoing COVID coverage.

    I’m now on my second round with the plague, having somehow caught it again last month, which is very depressing as I have been careful. Once again it is lingering for weeks. This variant “feels” different – I am not as ill, no fever, not out of breath like before, but it is a serious energy drain along with joint pains and indegestion.

    I was angered to see Joe Biden say “the pandemic is over” on national television – the USA and Britain seem to have the most murderous public health policies (or lack of policy).

    Anecdotally, I’ve heard several local COVID stories. My neighbor, a retired professor, told me about attending a wedding in Oregon earlier this summer with his wife, two kids and a granddaughter. The wedding was indoors and no one was masked, the whole family became sick and they had to take the two year old to the emergency room. Another friend had it back in December and is still out of breath. A singer I work with had it back in 2021 and said he hasn’t felt the same since. These are all people in their 60s or early 70s.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Lambert, just wanted to thank you for your ongoing COVID coverage.

      You’re welcome. It’s a bit of a slog now, because we’re not seeing any doubling behavior from a new variant; which is not to say there’s aren’t plenty of stories in the long-term effects, like those you describe (which of course aren’t being tracked anywhere, although there are studies). But the pandemic is definitely not over, though I’m sure Biden feels he has caught the temper of his voters when saying it is.

      The political class’s handling of the Covid pandemic is obviously the worst public policy debacle in the history of the United States, including the Great Financial Crash (and aftermath), the Great Depression, even the Civil War, if you want to throw that into this bucket. A million deaths (and counting) tell the tale. That’s why I find it very hard to give up the coverage, wonderful though it would be if I could. It would be wonderful to shift focus from tracking the numbers to punishing the guilty (even if it’s not even a political issue, thanks AOC, thanks Bernie, thanks to the left, thank you, thank you, thank you).

      Incidentally, besides masking and ventilation, I really believe in prophylaxis after sharing air with people, for example, at a wedding. So after going out I use both Betadine (povidone iodine) throat spray (Yves makes her own and uses it as a nasal spray) and SaNotize (VirX) nasal spray, a nitric oxide-based prophylaxis. I would also like to try VIRALEZE™, a protective spray, before going out, as soon as I can find some.

      More layers for your strategy!

      Reply
      1. tegnost

        It’s a bit of a slog now, because we’re not seeing any doubling behavior from a new variant;

        I appreciate the coverage as well. Many thanks for your efforts, When the next variant shows up we’ll be the first to know. Masking hereabouts had sunk to an extreme low, but I’m seeing more lately. Still a minority.

        Reply
        1. Laughingsong

          The comment about testing with placebo parachutes did cause me to snort my coffee, but it was just too precious a quote! Thank you for keeping on! Although your forehead must now be patterned just like the wood grain on your desk, and somewhat flattened as well.

          Reply
      2. Vanessa

        I also have been making my own providine iodine nasal spray. About the SaNotize (VirX) nasal spray, the nitric oxide-based prophylaxis, I notice a bewildering range of prices on Ebay. At least it is available! Thanks.

        Reply
      3. ChiGal

        directions for Enovid are to spritz twice in each nostril before exposure and again after. IsraelPharmacy sells it for less than the manufacturer ($45 vs $60) and it ships much faster.

        I swear by it, along with masking, ventilation, and HEPA filters.

        Reply
        1. Lee

          Unfortunately the site got a whole lot of information from me and then the page froze as I at long last got to the payments and entered CC numbers. I better keep a close eye on the particular account involved.

          Reply
        1. Arizona Slim

          Me? I’ve previously posed about povidone iodine nasal spray from ImmuneMist.

          Word of warning: Don’t get this stuff, use some, then leave it on the shelf for a few months. I did that.

          A few weeks ago, I used it again, and it felt like a flamethrower up the snoot! Ouch! Toss that stuff in the trashcan!

          I just bought some Xlear Xylitol and Saline Nasal Spray, and I’ll let y’all know how it works out.

          Reply
          1. playon

            I have been mixing some iodine into the Zylitol spray, it seems to work and I haven’t noticed it becoming more uncomfortable in the nose as it aged in the container. I bought some Enovid as well but it took forever to get it as they were back ordered at the time. I had not heard of VIRALEZE before, so thanks for the tip Lambert.

            We purchased HEPA air filters for the house a few years ago, originally because of the summer wildfire smoke in this area but now they have a second benefit. It is absolutely criminal that air filtration is not emphasized. If the USA gave AF about its citizens, the production of antiviral sprays would be ramped up and given away free (especially to workers who must deal with the public everyday) and air filtration would be in every school.

            Reply
            1. Joe Well

              You can get it cheaper from India under the brand name Fabispray. The Indiapharm website has suppliers but you have to pay with a bank transfer, no credit cards.

              Reply
      4. Pelham

        I’ll add my thanks as well. My wife, daughter and I have managed to avoid it, but we all work at home. However, quite a number of my wife’s colleagues have caught it, and most of the people I work with remotely — one apparently while filling her tank at a gas station.

        We take all the precautions and have Corsi-Rosenthal boxes and N95s at the ready should anyone drop in. My daughter has had to make two airline trips in the pandemic, but she wore an N95 for the first trip and an N100 for the last one. And we use nasal sprays and throat gargles as recommended.

        Virtually none of this, however, would we have known to do without Lambert’s efforts here. I might have stumbled across recommendations for N95s elsewhere, but that’s it. I genuinely — and I do mean genuinely — mourn for the people I see locally who appear to have no clue. Most of them, I believe, are blameless and many will suffer. I fervently hope there is some kind of accountability for the scoundrels who allowed 900,000 or so deaths so far that might well have been avoided and heaven knows how many millions who will suffer permanent brain damage and Long Covid.

        Reply
        1. anon in so cal

          “apparently while filling her tank at a gas station”

          This aligns with what some articles have suggested: that one can catch Omicron outdoors, even in a sparsely populated area. A neighbor related that she caught Covid from opening her front door and briefly chatting with someone outside her door. Two individuals in China apparently caught the original wild variant from a 15-minute face-to-face chat, outdoors. I assume that, like my neighbor, everyone in these anecdotes was unmasked.

          Reply
          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > caught Covid from opening her front door

            “Fleeting contact” in Australia. IIRC (too lazy to find the link) one case of transmission at a quarantine hotel was originally attributed to a garbage can lid (fomites) but was then shown to be the result of two doors opening simultaneously on the same hallway (airborne).

            Reply
            1. The Rev Kev

              And that happened twice! And the medical staff were only wearing surgical masks in those hotels. They were determined not to learn a goddamn thing.

              Reply
      5. The Rev Kev

        I’ll add thanks as well to Lambert. Here in Oz, I heard that two more States removed mask wearing on public transport because reasons. Glad to see that they were still doing mask wearing when I had to make a quick visit to the hospital this morning. If I had to use a word to describe how public health is being done in relation to the pandemic, I would have to use the word ‘normalizing.’ They are trying to make living with this virus normal and everyday and of no more consequence than catching the flu. So yeah, ‘normalizing’ can be our word of the year.

        Reply
      6. Joe Well

        I am using Sanitize before going out and after. The clinical trial they are running now involves morning noon and night administration, so I think they are assuming pre and post exposure prophylaxis.

        Reply
      7. drumlin woodchuckles

        This is valuable enough that if every single one of these posts and also every single relevant one of these comments were published as an ink-on-paper book , I would buy that book.

        If it could not be bought from a NOmazon source, I would even buy it from Doctor Evil Jeff. That’s how valuable a book it would be.

        Reply
    2. Joe Well

      I’ll thank you (and Yves), too. I haven’t gotten Covid yet. Partly luck, partly “privilege” but also the ideas regarding N95 masks, and also turning me on to Betadine gargle (not medical advice, just an amazing thing I never knew existed and would have improved my quality of life for a long time if I had known since I was always getting a sore throat). Also for turning me on to nasal sprays which have given me some hope.

      Reply
      1. LawnDart

        I’ll add my thanks to Lambert, Yves, and the NC covid brain-trust too.

        We readership got a heads-up on what was coming, what is happening, and what we could do to best protect ourselves and others.

        Personally, I’ve shed weight, watched my diet more closely, made sure I am getting at least some exercise in, started popping vitamins, and further refined my adversion towards the human species– with selective exceptions, of course.

        Reply
    3. Basil Pesto

      Anecdotally, I’ve heard several local COVID stories. My neighbor, a retired professor, told me about attending a wedding in Oregon earlier this summer with his wife, two kids and a granddaughter. The wedding was indoors and no one was masked, the whole family became sick and they had to take the two year old to the emergency room. Another friend had it back in December and is still out of breath. A singer I work with had it back in 2021 and said he hasn’t felt the same since. These are all people in their 60s or early 70s.

      Was talking to a friend yesterday, infected several months ago. had symptoms for a couple of months afterwards, shortness of breath, lack of energy etc. He took it easy for 2 months after those symptoms disappeared – no exercise etc.Then went for a run after 2 months and they all came back. Can’t run anymore. Just turned 30, slim, fit.

      Reply
  2. Toshiro_Mifune

    “iPhone 14 iFixit teardown shows Apple’s learning on repairs”

    If you’ve ever done an iPhone repair (like replaced a battery, etc) the iFixIt video is worth watching

    Reply
  3. Toshiro_Mifune

    But de facto we acted as if this thesis was correct; we have been acting as if the world was on its way to becoming one big village where everyone is interested in economic cooperation because, after all, everyone benefits from it. That has stopped being the case for some time now, though

    They are unable to acknowledge that not everyone benefitted.

    Reply
    1. Pat

      I think this is another instance where, in America at least, our puritanical mindset helps hide it. Certainly most of those in a position to make policy have benefitted and don’t know people who didn’t (ignoring the nepotism and corruption helps too) Yet they can look at the Rust Belt or economically depressed areas and tell themselves this is because people just don’t want to work anymore. If the people there just learned to code or started small businesses they would be fine.

      Reply
      1. Tom Doak

        Yes, I am especially tired of the Democrats’ “working families” branding for everything, which strongly implies if you don’t have kids and/or don’t have a 40 hour PMC job, you are a loser undeserving of any government assistance.

        Of course they only gravitated toward that position after Ronald Reagan made it the moral high ground.

        Reply
  4. notabanker

    We were supposed to have flying cars by now. What’s up with that?

    George Jetson was born a couple of months ago, we are running out of time here people.

    Reply
  5. Louis Fyne

    —“Airline’s Pitch to Aspiring Pilots: Fly Our Planes Now, Work for Us Later”—

    History has gone full circle….sounds exactly like the career track of a North America colonial-era journeyman or medieval apprentice

    Reply
  6. WobblyTelomeres

    “A Great Copper Squeeze”

    Landfill mining, although I know of no place where it is currently done. Wikipedia says Tel Aviv?

    Reply
    1. Amfortas the hippie

      yeah, lol.
      ive intercepted prolly half a ton of copper on its way to the dump through the years.
      there it sits, in a far corner of a pasture, waiting for the mines to run out.
      mostly old window units.
      only a few of them ours, originally.(people toss away all kinds of things)
      in the beginning, my copper mine was for blacksmithing…copper is easier to learn on…easier to cast with, too.(gotta smelt off the lead with some of it, hence the respirator in the shop)
      and there were all manner of artsyfartsy things i had intended to do with the stuff.
      now, it’s just a copper mine.

      Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      What if there were a way to paint whole wall-sized photo-realist mural copies of that photograph of Clinton and Epstein together? And plaster those photo-murals on the side of every Clinton building?

      Or at nightime, set up projectors to project huge images of that photo onto the sides of those buildings, just like they were movie screens?

      Reply
  7. Bart Hansen

    Today in Private Equity

    Headline: “Buy and Bust: After Platinum Health Took Control of Noble Sites, All Hospital Workers Were Fired”

    From today’s Kaiser Health News Summary. Happened to two hospitals in Missouri.

    Reply
    1. Glen

      It’s the new American health care company – all they need is a surprising billing department, and a list of “customers” acquired with the hospitals.

      Reply
  8. semper loquitur

    re: gaslighting

    “spells of power”

    Nailed it there. Altering consciousness in accordance with the will, your own or others. It brings to mind that interview on Tucker with that Belgium academic who spoke about “mass formation psychosis” and how it takes just one seed crystal of a demagogue to lock that liquid state of fermenting uncertainty and anxiety into a concrete lattice of rage, the sweet certainty of violence. You could view, I think, social media as systematized gaslighting, both intentional and by virtue of it’s basic structure.

    Reply
    1. LawnDart

      I felt it was an excellent article with strong and well-articulated aspects on the subject. Gaslighting can trash the self-confidence of the victim and induce anxiety and self-doubts that may be very difficult to overcome.

      It also did show that it is important to have mentally-healthy, and (at least somewhat) normal people in your life, although if the article was intended as self-help, I would have emphasized a necessity to define and set boundaries in interpersonal relationships, distancing yourself from inappropriate behaviors and abuse, and cutting ties when necessary.

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        my mom’s a “covert narcissist”(nice to finally have a name for this weird behavior)…so i am somewhat immune to gaslighting from platforms, media and whatnot.
        but i found that i was also better than those around me at spotting it…like after 9-11, especially…but now, in total overdrive.
        when exposed long term, it is possible to overcome it by learning to be rigorous in examining assumptions…the “socratic perplexity” i’ve tried to instill in the boys.
        i take everything my mom says with a large barrel of salt…and check her numerous strange and fantastical claims as best i can.
        same with the rest of the mediated environment.

        and, this is not the only behavioural trait ive noticed that mom shares with…say…Hillary…but i’d skirt the edges of generationalism, so i won’t go on,lol.

        Reply
        1. semper loquitur

          Same here, my mother is a user who sees herself as the eternal victim. She robbed me of my childhood. I discussed it with one of my shrinks and he said she sounds about as close to a narcissist as far as he can tell from a distance.

          Reply
        2. LawnDart

          Narcissism seems to a charcteristic of the would-be psychological manipulator. Got to really examine and experience “gaslighting” twice in my life, maybe three times– although I’m not sure that the third does it intentionally: could be an alcohol-induced dementia on top of other psychological issues.

          The other two, seperated by a generation. One divorced pretty-well the first time, learned from that experience, and divorced quite well the second: not rich, but definately part of the “aspirational wealthy.” The second gal, born a blueblood into a very well-to-do and connected East Coast family– “it’s not a trust fund! It’s a bhawnnd-fund…” Unaccomplished in life, but entitled by virtue of the family name– total psycho-manipulator: if not gaslighting, then flat-out lying when it suits her.

          I believe that gaslighting a learned-behavior, and if true, it is done by conscious choice and can be unlearned. But as they say, what gets rewarded gets repeated…

          It might better that a shrink or therapist weigh-in (although many of these are batshit-nutzo themselves) on this subject, or someone with professional experience researching this behavior.

          Reply
      2. semper loquitur

        Cutting ties is the right move when it’s too much. I cut out most of my family. Narcissists and abuser who saw other family members as easy pickings. Constant undermining of self confidence. I’ve been criticized by some for it but it was worth it.

        Reply
        1. Amfortas the hippie

          by the time i finally landed on a diagnosis that fit her, (last year) it was too late…sunk cost, etc…i’ve invested too much in this place and Will inherit it.
          dammit.
          the rest of my family is either dead or 350 miles away in houston.
          my replacement familia…wife’s bunch…is a world away from the narcissism and passive aggressive nonsense of my own people…notably, all Team Blue.
          half of them(wife’s) are republicans and aspirational bougies…but thats tolerable, because they still remember chip sandwiches for dinner, and don’t generally bring those bougie pathologies to family get togethers….saving it for the Chamber Dinners or whatever.
          and literally all of the women can make tortillas from scratch…on a comal, no less.

          Reply
          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Based on your comments here in the past, the place is/will be a good enough Survival Doomstead Refuge that it seems worth smiling through as much more bad maternal behavior as you have to in order to make sure that you DO inherit it and HAVE inherited it.

            Reply
      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I felt it was an excellent article with strong and well-articulated aspects on the subject.

        The personal/family version of gaslighting is a metaphor for the political use. The two are separate, not a continuum. So naturally the author wanders off into identity politics…..

        Reply
        1. LawnDart

          History would not be allowed to repeat if us plebs could remember what we had for breakfast yesterday, or took pols promises at face-value and held them to their words.

          “Look forward, not back…”

          The teleprompter crowd– news-readers and figureheads– use torrents of words to elicit vague but directed emotional responses, reactions devoid of intellect… …it’s just wind.

          And bearing in mind that wind gradually wears things down, carries objects aloft, and causes stuff to destroy other stuff.

          Reply
  9. Robert Hahl

    Re: It plans to extend pilots interest-free loans to fly those planes around until they have accumulated the hours they need to work at Mesa…. “• More debt? Really? Why not just give the hours away?”

    If you are proposing to give pilots free use of an airplane with gas included, where do I sign up? I guess you haven’t seen T-shirts and caps that say “Will Fly For Food.”

    What this scheme implies is that young pilots cannot build time as flight instructors anymore, which means people are not training for the private pilot license like they used to. Seems structural.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      When I was learning how to fly 25 years ago, I remember our instructor explaining how all you need is 1,000 hours to be able to land a $25k job flying for BFE airlines, to get your feet wet in the big leagues of commercial aviation.

      It was on par with a student having $125k worth of college debt, so they can land a $25k job.

      This was way back then, a cautionary tale.

      Reply
    1. playon

      A couple of years ago I heard Marc Maron interview Stacey Adams on his podcast. I thought I might like her, but my impression of her was that she’s a typical middle-of-the-road “liberal” Democrat. (Obama comes to mind.) I couldn’t figure out what she actually stood for other than being very ambitious. Same old same old…

      Reply
      1. rowlf

        The Babylon Bee website has a few edgy takes on her ambition if you use the search function to find the stories.

        Being a former union member for over two decades I’d like to see the Democratic party nuked from orbit and then cattle guns used on the standing Republicans until they represent voters. It’s wild that Russia has more than 1.5 political parties running in elections. /s

        But that’s just me.

        Reply
  10. petal

    Noticed the other day that our local buses now have large stickers saying that they have installed air purification systems on each bus. There’s no masking rule, though. I still wear my N95 every day on the bus.

    Reply
    1. Jen

      Notice that the general store in the town to my north had both doors open and a fan running the last time I was in there, and there’s a take out place that now has big industrial fans going all the time. I’m thinking of printing up some flyers with instructions on C/R boxes and leaving them with the owners.

      Reply
      1. petal

        Jen, nice to see you! I hope you are well.
        It’s worth a try, and maybe it will take off and other people will give it a go, especially with cooler temperatures setting in that will no longer allow doors and windows to be open like during warmer weather.

        Reply
  11. LawnDart

    We were supposed to have flying cars by now. What’s up with that?

    We won’t, at least for a few more years… …but China (other Asian countries, MENA, and some of Europe) will, soon, or already do have them. You see, China refers to eVTOLs as “flying-cars,” but these aren’t the George Jetson contraptions that we were promised, and most (not all) of the ones on the drawing-board or being test-flown today still require actual pilots to fly them.

    United Airlines has invested and/or ordered flying taxis from two companies– Archer Aviation and another company called Eve. But one that is actually flying now and will likely soon be certified for commercial flights is made by China, a company called Ehang that reportedly has 20-30,000 test-flights under its belt already: if there are people who think China just produces cheap crap and are incapable of high-level engineering and advanced manufacturing, they are horribly mistaken– the Chinese are beating us to the skies with their flying cars (4-minute video that’ll really shake your perspective on China, even is you think that you’re aware of China’s capabilities):

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=DiKaYUB3keY

    And there’s this, an eVTOL industry report (PDF file) that’s pretty-wild:

    Asia-Pacific AAM Report H1 2022

    https://globalsky.media/market_intelligence/asia-pacific-aam-report-2022h1/

    It’s really looking like Eurasia may dominate tech and commerce more quickly than most of us are aware, unless we blow it all up first.

    Reply
    1. Tom Doak

      I agree that the Chinese are capable of high-level engineering and advanced manufacturing, but their system is also Boeing-level capable of cutting corners and building shoddily. And a few deaths don’t stop the Chinese from moving forward.

      Reply
      1. LawnDart

        The CCP very recently and publicly indicated that they wish to bury the reputation China earned through trade of shoddy, even dangerous, products– that they wish China to build a reputation for high-quality and fairly-priced goods.

        In China, it is usually not good to cross The Party. It’ll be interesting to see if they lower-the-boom by shuting-down, prosecuting, or sending poor-quality manufacturers scurrying for safer climes.

        Reply
  12. semper loquitur

    Tesla recalls nearly 1.1 million U.S. vehicles to update window reversing software

    WASHINGTON, Sept 22 (Reuters) – Tesla (TSLA.O) is recalling nearly 1.1 million U.S. vehicles because the window automatic reversal system may not react correctly after detecting an obstruction, increasing the risk of injury.

    https://www.reuters.com/business/autos-transportation/tesla-recalls-nearly-11-million-us-vehicles-update-window-reversing-software-2022-09-22/

    Smart…

    Reply
  13. Mark Gisleson

    Regarding Stacey Abrams, I can’t get past her fiction writing. I could never vote for anyone who wrote this opening page to a novel:

    Nighttime suited Sebastian Caine. In the shadows, he could prowl the quiet streets, invisible to the unsuspecting eye. Dakkar or Paris, New York or New Delhi, the nighttime yielded its secrets to him with a delicate sigh.

    Or, perhaps, with the muffled shorting of a cross-circuit alarm system.

    “Not nearly as poetic, but effective,” Sebastian acknowledged, as sparks cascaded to cobblestones where he knelt. He eased the door open, alarms successfully disengaged. Looking down at the now-darkened keypad, a frisson of awareness tightened his skin. Cutting the alarm hadn’t been simple, but an incongruity niggled at the back of his mind. Circuit broken—check. Alarm pad disengaged—check. Brass locks picked—check. He’d done this a hundred times before, stealing inside deserted buildings to relieve unsuspecting owners of their possessions. Still, tonight felt different. Unsettled. But, he reminded himself ruefully, standing outside a mark’s house was not the place to figure out what bothered him.

    Quickly, he slipped inside the doorway that led into a kitchen most chefs fantasized about. Nearly the size of the walk-up he’d lived in as a toddler, Sebastian thought, but much quieter. As he’d planned, nothing sounded beyond the distant lapping of waves. The perfect spot on the Pacific coast for a thief.

    And it gets worse. Not to be cruel but Abrams’ fiction appears to rely very heavily on skills and tricks that are never explained, simply mentioned in tones of hushed awe. When I first tried to read “Secrets and Lies” I started flashing back to reshelving used Harlequin Romances at a used bookstore I once worked in. I tried so hard to read those romances (Harlequin had a contest going) but each time I would immediately encounter writing so bad I simply could not make myself turn the page.

    I think of this as aspirational writing. You have a great idea for a novel and you know how to write so you crank out a novel all of which came out of your head without any help from anyone. Or any reference materials other than a dictionary for spelling. And all your friends love love love your book!

    The book Abrams wanted to write would have taught me how to pick locks. I would have learned interesting differences between exotic cities the protagonist had visited. I wouldn’t have tripped over clever descriptions that didn’t actually describe anything. I started to count the unnecessary commas then realized that was most of them.

    And that’s what the world is like when you live in cult. When no one needs proof that their leader is She Who Should Lead because the narrative is so compelling how dare anyone disagree?! Stacey Abrams lives in a DNC world where no one would ever tell a good person they’d just written an awful book. (90% of all books are awful, and that’s just the published ones.)

    Sorry this is long for comments but in my opinion bad fiction and bad politics have a lot in common.

    Reply
    1. Bugs

      Thanks for this. I’ve listened to her in interviews, but this gives a new perspective. What I can’t understand is who’s backing her. It seems like she’s just a bog standard liberal in a state with a very strong culture that needs someone with a lot more charisma to get elected. But the Dems keep running her. The comparison to Beto is apt.

      Reply
  14. NorD94

    Lambert,

    On your daily grumpiness over CA (and FL) covid case charts from https://91-divoc.com/ “California on a high plateau all of its own. A sudden jump, and then no doubling behavior? What’s up with that?”

    Have you ever looked at other sources? For example the official state of CA webpage?

    https://covid19.ca.gov/state-dashboard/

    Scroll down look for Cases and Deaths, set time range to 90 days, steady downtrend since mid-July nothing weird going on. A few jiggles with 7-day average and 3-day weekends.

    Same if you look at google “ca covid cases”, set time to 3-months, same general downward trend on 7-day average and on the per day bars. Same for Florida.

    Is the problem with California? or is the problem with something “91-divoc.com” is (or is not) doing?

    Reply
  15. Lex

    The medical community arguing about studies of HEPA filtration is hilarious. First of all, the only question worth asking in a research setting is how many viable virus particles can get through a HEPA filter in real world scenarios. Coating the HEPA is almost certainly pointless unless A. virus is making it through the HEPA and B. if the contact time of the anti-viral is short enough to be effective, because it’s pretty unlikely that a particle makes it through the HEPA but also stops long enough to effectively be destroyed by the antiviral. The only purpose of the antiviral would be to have dead virus when you change the filter, but HEPAs are infrequent changes and the solution is just do the change with appropriate PPE.

    Reply
  16. LawnDart

    Old Blighty and our neoliberal masters:

    Hardly set in the grave, while a nation is celebrating, distracted by the passing of their mother-queen colonialist, PM Truss fracked the now and future generations of British: hope they like earthquakes, more radioactive waste, chemically and flammable tap-water, and toxic emissions downwind.

    “Oh! It’s not our fault… …Putin, Russia made us do this!”

    UK lifts ban on fracking for shale gas

    UK lifted ban on fracking, a controversial method to dig for fossil fuels, in order to boost oil and gas output after Russia’s war on Ukraine.

    https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/9/22/britain-lifts-ban-on-fracking-for-shale-gas

    Reply
    1. JBird4049

      Didn’t we go over the bit about earthquakes like last year? I remember being chastised for thinking as a Californian that the quake sizes as being really nothing, but was reminded that unlike California with its earthquake code, Great Britain doesn’t have any (non man made) quakes so everything is easily collapsed by them.

      I guess that by reducing the housing stock, it just might prop up real estate values. Then there are all the overpasses, tunnels, bridges, railroads, dams, and canals that can fail as well. But maybe they will use the knowledge California accumulated from the past 116 years constantly updating the code and repairing each successive quake’s damage? However, the building codes always miss something and people die. So, they fix it and something else gets destroyed the next time.

      I am being a jerk with those last remarks, but earthquakes truly is are no joke, and if they already know about the dangers, which is why fracking was stopped before, why are they risking losing a city or three? I get greed, even stupidity, along with the continuing desire for World War III, but earthquakes are really not a joking matter.

      Reply
  17. Mikel

    “Google co-founder’s flying car startup is winding down” [CNBC]. • We were supposed to have flying cars by now. What’s up with that?

    Be happy they haven’t arrived. Couldn’t you just imagine a flying Tesla? A flying fireball?

    Reply
    1. LawnDart

      Meh. Unless you’re Michael Hastings, most auto-crashes are confined to 2Ds: to make it really really spectacular, think of an eVTOL whose battery suffers a violent short or other catastrophic malfunction– think BIG, man! Go 3D! Go out like a massive comet that burns hot-white, throwing off plumes of sparks while gyrating to the ground! Visible for many, many miles!

      Reply
    2. Amfortas the hippie

      lol/
      i didnt even make it to tech failure in my mind when reading that headline…i mean, have you been on a road lately?
      imagine those people in the air, at speed, and without clearly marked lanes(which many cannot, apparently ,understand on the ground)
      flying cars…in texas at least.. is a recipe for culling the herd.

      Reply
      1. Angie Neer

        Long ago, I traveled with a business associate who was a very experienced army pilot. We were in his car and he insisted on always driving. He had a very original, terrifying, interpretation of the rules of the road. I concluded that he drove as if he were flying, with 3 dimensions to work in, not just 2.

        Reply
        1. LawnDart

          I had some training in the military that your pilot likely also received– the sort that un-trains you from “rules-of-the-road.” Basically, we learned how to jump curbs, take-out other vehicles, cross drainage, and other cool stuff.

          I didn’t use it. Not in a while. And not while in the military. But that training has helped to save my butt a time or two.

          I’ve been doing the motorcycle-thing for a few decades. Never crashed. Yet. I was a good rider before I went through that training, but after that, I saw the road in a totally different light: speed-limits, lane-markings– none of that means shit. Your goal is survival; evaluating and getting away from threats, or potential threats. You’re focused on conditions, probabilities and variables– not rules or laws.

          I also test the capabilities of each of my vehicles, before I need to test them or actually ise them, if you know what I mean. On my latest ride, I got some sick air off a railway crossing with a wheelie to follow that I held for a good 50-75 meters. Will I ever need to press it like that? Probably not. Although I gotta admit, aside from practicalities, it was pretty-freakin fun!

          Reply
          1. The Rev Kev

            Your experience reminds me of a story I read once about a Japanese pilot that during WW2 flew one of the big multi-engine jobs but was the soul of caution which led to his survival – unlike most contemporaries. As soon of the war was over and having done his duty, he turned his back on aircraft and never looked back. But this American guy, who had married the guy’s daughter while stationed in Japan, noted that his flying habits still stuck and whenever the guy went to his car to drive somewhere, he did a walk around his car first to see if he could spot any oil leaks, things out of place or any other problems first.

            Reply
  18. curlydan

    About the Yahoo Long Covid chart: It is mislabeled. It is not “US Adults who experienced Long Covid, as of 08/2022”. It is actually US adults who “Ever experienced long COVID, as a percentage of adults who ever had COVID“.

    So 41% of Floridians have not had Long Covid. “Only” 18.3% of Floridians report ever having Long Covid from the survey conducted in the time period of 7/27-8/8/2022.

    I saw that article and the %s a couple days ago and had to dig into the data a little since the %s looked so high. The data is in this link, but it’s a little tricky since there are multiple time periods embedded in it: https://data.cdc.gov/NCHS/Post-COVID-Conditions/gsea-w83j/data

    At a national level in the survey time period 7/27-8/8/2022, 14.8% of adults reported ever experiencing long Covid. 33% of people who’ve had Covid also reported experiencing long Covid. 45% of adults reported ever having Covid. Still insanely high numbers.

    Reply
    1. ChrisRUEcon

      > Still insanely high numbers

      #Exactly

      … and more people keep getting infected, and a fair amount for multiple times, which increases the probability of suffering #LongCovid

      Reply
    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Ever experienced long COVID, as a percentage of adults who ever had COVID

      That’s how I read it. You can’t have Long Covid without having had Covid. (I clicked through to the CDC link, but there’s no map there; CDC data must have been used to build it.) And yes, insanely high.

      Reply
  19. Wukchumni

    Awaiting the verdict @ the Jonesdown settlement trial, and he’s quite squirmy sitting in the hot seat proclaiming he’s done being sorry…

    I’m putting the over/under line @ $86 million

    p.s.

    I only just noticed today,…that he has no neck.

    Reply
    1. Jason Boxman

      Yes. On Walgreens it has more than doubled since 9/20 compared to the most recent Walgreens variant data. This is my bet for Biden’s Winter of Death should it materialize.

      Reply
    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Seems like the variant to worry about is BA4.5, more than BA2.75

      Could be. This is the link I use. BA4.5 is increasing share, but I refuse to use CDC’s algorithmic projection (Nowcast), which shows a jump.

      Reply
  20. Michael Ismoe

    Gee, I wonder if that rise in violent crime in Philly could be the result of the DA’s unwillingness to keep anyone in jail? Asking for a friend named Chesa Boudin.

    Reply
    1. JBird4049

      Do you know that the accused in jail often for months, sometimes years, before trial is a routine tactic used by prosecutors to coerce confessions out of the victim? Just asking for Kalief Browder.

      Whatever the forms of the law and its enforcers take in societies that lose faith in them, the system is perceived as a military occupation and is treated as such; we all have seen the increasing brutality and corruption from the effective creation of murderous gendarmeries often used as revenue collectors with asset forfeiture to a judicial system more concerned about convictions of anyone available, guilt not required, and the higher courts covering for it; why should anyone be surprised that particularly brutal and corrupt police departments, which Philadelphia is, are being ignored?

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        aye. ive always considered things like the “War on Pot” at face value…they meant what they said, which means they had declared war on me.
        i never really had a Tribe back then, so i focused on SERE(survival evasion resistance and escape).
        crimen familia i have known, DO have Tribes, and approach the declaration of war upon them differently.
        sucks for the population already extant wherever this happens.
        but it shouldn’t surprise anyone.
        (in that light, the cartels have seemingly read Black Panther stuff(or Lenin,…or bookchin..) experimenting, sort of chaotically, with social services and the like.)

        Reply
    2. Rip Van Winkle

      Every DA and Judge in Chicago metro should turn their own homes into halfway houses. Sort of like the Roman engineer-builder who had to stand under his newly built bridge as the Legion marched over to test it.

      Reply
      1. JBird4049

        I would rather have those DA, Judges, and the police as well as the supervisors, commissioners, mayors, council members, and members of both the state and federal legislatures spend a week, just seven days to live in the same cells, eat the same food, enjoy the recreation and the healthcare given to the prisoners who often enough are merely accused; it is very easy to demonize entire populations often for evils that they have not done. To think it fine, even just, to imprison people weeks, months, and yes, years for being accused of a crime and not yet gone to trial. Living in hell on earth in some places and in other places merely awful. Maybe, just maybe, a week living the life of the not despised really, but the already disposed pre-dead might give our rulers some sense of compassion.

        I doubt it though.

        Reply
        1. Amfortas the hippie

          add to that requirement a month in a trailer park, in winter, on foodstamps.
          harvard, et alia should have a whole department devoted to experiential sociology, based entirely on “walk a mile in their shoes”.

          Reply
  21. djrichard

    10Y Treasuries closed at 3.7+ % today, the highest yield since 2010. That’s definitely breaking the downward channel that the 10Y yield has been in since 1982.

    What’s interesting is what seems to now be driving it. Since the Fed is tighttening other countries are defending their currencies by “selling dollars” to buy their currency. Which means their central banks are selling some of their treasury hoards into the market to get the necessary US dollars to effect that swap. They’re basically unwinding their currency manipulation from when they were weakening their currencies to peg them to the US dollar as part of locking in their position in the global supply chain.

    Most recent central bank action triggering today’s huge jump in yield seems to be Bank of Japan. At least that’s what is anticipated. Seems the BoJ doesn’t want to pursue the other option to keep their currency at par with the US dollar, which would be to raise their short term rate like the US central bank is. Which would suggest that BoJ sees increasing rates as introducing too much “risk on” into the wealth effect in their economy.

    By the way, as the 10Y keeps increasing, that buys more room for the Federal Reserve to raise their rate without tipping the economy into recession. Seems the Fed Reserve is committed to creating a recession, but the increasing 10Y yield makes it more of a race.

    Interesting times.

    Reply
  22. digi_owl

    Flying cars are the epitome of raygun 60s scifi. Incredibly energy inefficient and a safety nightmare. The only reason air travel right now “works” is thanks to 24/7 traffic control, and massively distances between the planes. Good luck implementing that for rush hour city traffic.

    Reply
  23. VietnamVet

    The CEO of Deutsche was about as plain as possible under the circumstances without scarring the pants off everyone. Western Europe and North America to a lesser degree have run into the downside of the petroleum depletion curve. Like Sperm Whale’s Oil, scarcity is rising prices — “electricity and gas have become scarce and extremely expensive”. There is still cheap energy in Russia. Will it be seized, coerced or embargoed?

    Russia has added Donbas regions that voted to join the Russia Federation under its nuclear umbrella (like Sweden and Finland did by joining NATO). Nuclear Brinkmanship is back. Will Ukraine stand down its counteroffensive or risk a global nuclear war? If war is avoided, and Russian energy remains sanctioned, a freezing winter and an economic depression awaits western Europe without cheap sources of energy.

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      I have read that the Ukranazi minority within Ukraine is a death cult which would rather incinerate Ukraine into ashes and biochar in their own Gotterdamerung than allow the Ukranormal majority to accept a compromise peace. If I could remember where I read that I would bring the link here.

      If that is so, then the only way the Ukranormal majority will be allowed to achieve survival through a compromise peace is if it can conquer and remove from power the Ukranazi minority. And since it is the Ukranazi minority which NATO EUFUKUS specifically backs and supports, such an internal Ukranormal conquest of power would be very difficult for the Ukranormals to achieve.

      If they achieved that internal conquest of power, would the RussiaGov tolerate a compromise peace that the Ukranormals could live with? If not, then the Ukranormals themselves would keep on fighting, with or without NATO EUFUKUS support.

      Reply
    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      As long as it remains embargoed, that means Russia gets to keep it for its own future use or sale to countries which don’t respect the embargo. So embargo would be the best outcome for Russia.

      Reply

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