2:00PM Water Cooler 9/26/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Patient readers, I am finishing up a post on Barbara Tuchman’s The March of Folly, so this must be an open thread, birdsong-less, but with a plant. Talk amongst yourselves! –lambert

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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 RM:

RM writes: “It’s always nice to share the wealth. In case you are still posting sunflowers this one not so savaged by the grasshoppers.”

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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. Carolinian

      ZH calls it “explosive news”–don’t know why. According to the MIC he was already a traitor.

      Good for him if that’s what he wants (and he applied for it).

      Looking forward to Barbara Tuchman. I’ve read most of her books.

      1. laughingsong

        Me too! I recently re-read Distant Mirror (that was the first of hers I read, lo many decades ago) and was thinking of moving on to Guns of August and/or March.

        1. barefoot charley

          I recently read her last, “The First Salute,” and while appreciating its history of Dutch connivance with anyone who pays (they were excellent Anglo-Saxon models) I was startled by Tuchman’s absence of fact-checking. I have to guess she was kinda coasting at the end of her life, as were her editors. I’d loved several earlier books.

          And her simple story conceit is interesting: the Dutch West Indies free (ie smuggling) port of St. Eustatius fired a salute to our Continental Congress flag, which was entering their harbor to run guns and ammo to our revolutionaries. This was our upstart flag’s first salute. England felt all this was taking free trade too far (but don’t tell imperial China!). Hilarity and revolution ensues.

      2. Lee

        Long ago and not far from here I read one or more of her books. I particularly recall the one that focused on a French noble who tried to conquer Switzerland only to have his butt handed to him by, IIRC, a volunteer army made up mostly of patriotic Swiss commoners.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Not surprising that. Switzerland was the source of professional mercenaries for centuries and they were reckoned as tough fighters.

      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        It is formally declaring a further level of physical protection for Snowden against Western efforts to reach out and touch him physically while he is in Russia.

        Of course he should understand that he can never leave the borders of Russia, because if he visits any other country, he will be stalked and staked out for kidnapping for transport to America to undergo Padillafication or Guantanamization preparatory to a show trial.

      4. baileysinsb

        If you’ve read Tuchman (I doubt it), you didn’t digest much. Patriotism is supporting your Country all the time and your Gov’t. when it deserves it (Twain, I think). Snowden is a Patriot, you waste NC space.

        1. Carolinian

          Actually I’ve read quite a bit of Tuchman but don’t recall her having much to say about patriotism. Dr. Johnson said patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel and I think the word itself has a bit of a taint.

          To me a country is like your parents. You may not approve of them but they are still your parents and the reason you are here. I loved my parents in both senses and when I traveled overseas eventually felt great homesickness for our not so lovable republic.

          As for Snowden, he has never renounced America even as its rulers renounced him. What Putin seems to be giving him is sanctuary.

            1. JBird4049

              The same could be said of both major parties for many people.

              My definition of patriotism comes from Senator Carl Schulz:

              “My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.”

              It seems though that too many people, whatever their religion, country, or party are fixated on the first third and not the remaining; it being easier, I think, to not think about what exactly is loyalty. Too many people define it as being against something instead of being for something, if only because actively supporting something is often harder than actively being against something. Creation vs. destruction.

    2. ChiGal

      I think it’s a good thing for him to have full citizenship rights somewhere. Someday he will be recognized as one of the greatest patriots in US history and his despicable treatment by this country will be recorded as a black mark against us.

      1. albrt

        I’m about halfway through his memoir, Permanent Record. The first few chapters about his childhood are a little bit of a slog because he writes about himself hitting thematic points like an overly determined fictional character. But the CIA and NSA stuff is intense – I have to keep putting it down to digest it.

  1. Lee

    Covid Immunity

    UCSF and Stanford Researchers Investigate Why Some Infected with COVID-19 Are Asymptomatic, While Others Become Severely Ill or Die Dark Daily

    “If we did a mass testing campaign on 300 million Americans right now, I think the rate of asymptomatic infection would be somewhere between 50% and 80% of cases,” she told UCSF Magazine.”

    UC San Francisco researchers discover why some people are asymptomatic when infected with COVID-19 KTLA

    “Hollenbach and the research team analyzed each person’s DNA, looking closely at a set of genes called HLA. They found a genetic mutation in HLA genes that fought off COVID so quickly, the person’s body never had enough time to develop symptoms.

    And while the mutation was not bulletproof, it raised a person’s chances of remaining asymptomatic times 10.”

    Alas, tests determining who are and are not among the lucky is not as of yet readily available.

    1. Dean

      For those interested the pre-print can be found here: https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.05.13.21257065v2.full.pdf
      Many have sought to determine if HLA allelic expression could be involved in Covid-19 severity. In that regard Hollenbach’s previous research (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/tan.14574) concluded that severity was not correlated with HLA alleles.
      “Overall, at the population level, we found HLA type is significantly less predictive of COVID-19 disease severity than certain demographic factors and clinical comorbidities.”

      This new manuscript shows that HLA*B 15:01 was significantly higher (2.45 times higher) in asymptomatic individuals. Individuals homozygotic for this allele were 8 times higher in asymptomatic individuals. They conclude:
      “HLA-B*15:01 is strongly associated with asymptomatic infection with SARS-CoV-2
      and is likely to be involved in the mechanism underlying early viral clearance.”

      I was initially dubious that this could account for early viral clearance as HLL*B are MHC I and thus involved in CD8 killing of infected cells. I thought it unlikely that antigen processing and presentation by antigen presenting cells to CD8 cells, followed by clonal expansion of those cells, could occur fast enough so that virally-infected cells could be killed early in the infection to prevent increase in viral loads.

      The authors point out that the HLA-B*15:01 groove can accommodate an immunodominant T-cell peptide epitope. T-cells activated against this epitope could be highly active killers of coronavirus-infected cells. T-cells epitopes are much more likely to be highly conserved than B-cell epitopes.

      I wonder if individuals with the HLA-B*15:01 polymorphism (I would not call it a mutation) might have had previous coronavirus infections, perhaps even common colds, The resultant long-lived highly active CD8 cells might be capable of eliminating SARS-C0V-2 infected cells early enough to prevent symptoms.

      1. chris#5

        Looking at the extended haplotype associated with HLA-B*15:01 would be interesting – that is, other genes that tend to be inherited along with HLA-B*15:01. These could include pro-inflammatory genes, for example (not my area, just noting that these associations can be important). A quick search shows that HLA-B*15:01 (and other MHC class I and class II loci) is associated with multiple sclerosis. The authors you cite (Hollenbach et al) note for example that “the class II allele HLA-DRB1*04:01 enhances the effect of HLA-B*15:01”, so T cell help for antibodies is also possible. As you mention, MHC class I – restricted epitopes are often highly conserved in viruses, which always suggested to me that they were not important targets for virus selection (and therefore virus spread), though obviously important in recovery from infection.

    2. Roger Blakely

      That still means that between 20% and 50% of people get sick. That is a lot of sick people. Now we are living in a time when community transmission is high and on the rise, and no one is calling for non pharmaceutical interventions. I predict that thousands of Americans will die in December and January. People have bought into the narrative that the pandemic is over. People will not think that they need to protect themselves. They will get hit with a bad case of Omicron and end up dead.

      1. Lee

        I was surprised to learn recently that paralytic polio, depending on which of the three types one catches, strikes only 1 in 100, 1 in 300, or 1 in 2000 of those infected. Polio probably is and has been circulating in the gen pop since forever but is rendered harmless by a combination of innate immunity and vaccination.

        A highly transmissible disease that causes even relatively few instances of symptomatic illness still produces large numbers of dead and disabled people. The pandemic is not over and winter is coming.

        1. Janie

          Headbanging anecdote: I talked yesterday to an out of town friend who said nobody there was masking as the pandemic is over. I said, but you just told me your son is recovering from covid and that he was quite ill. She said, yeah, but his wife didn’t get it and he’s ok now, so we don’t need masks. (And my neighbor informed me that it’s been proven that masks don’t work.) Conclusion: it’s never gonna end.

    3. Jeff W

      There were reports early on of “asymptomatic” patients presenting ground glass opacities in CT scans of their lungs, about 67% according to Dr. Aileen Marty, professor of infectious diseases at Florida International University or 70-80% of post-COVID patients, according to Dr. Brittany Bankhead-Kendall, an assistant professor of surgery with Texas Tech University.

      It seems like the asymptomatic status of the participants in the study was based on a series of self-reporting surveys. But the patients who had ground glass opacities did not report any symptoms either, per Drs. Marty and Bankhead-Kendall. So it doesn’t seem, at least to me, like that patients with “silent” conditions arising from COVID were excluded from the study, on the one hand, or that they were examined for this particular condition, on the other. If someone has a different take, please chime in.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > They found a genetic mutation in HLA genes that fought off COVID so quickly, the person’s body never had enough time to develop symptoms.

      Waiting for the ill-concealed versions of “only the genetically superior deserve to live” to start being emitted by the Brownstone crowd, from thence to infest the West Wing in about six months.

  2. NotThisAgain

    I’m pondering the impacts of a collapsing British Pound (along with struggling Canadian dollar and Chinese RMB), combined with an energy and food deficient Europe.

    I don’t think that even a coordinated central bank intervention will change things much…And yet, beyond sheer panic, I can’t seem to work out the implications.

    Either way, opinions about the demise of the US Dollar are clearly way, way off-mark.


    1. Louis Fyne

      the US dollar is the proverbial one-eyed currency in the land of the blind.

      repaying debt and/or debt destruction strengthens the USD. Anti-Russian sanctions making USD-settled commodities more expensive strengthens the USD.

      Weakening GBP, JPY, EUR causes a (Soros-ian reflexivity) feedback loop: scared rich foreigners dump their home country assets, buy US treasury debt and US stocks, which further pushes down the currencies of non-US economies, causing more capital flight to the USA.

      Foreigners don’t dare buy Chinese financial widgets given the capital controls within the Chinese economy.

      In an economic panic, (nearly) all assets fall as people liquidate what they can to pay taxes, debt servicing.

      The world is awash in debt and zombified debt-addled companies. Debt destruction will eventually lead to deflation/disinflation. But only until the real economy gets crushed.

      But the odd wrinkle is that given covid, drugs, aging population, labor is relatively scarce. So we may see this weird distortion of financial markets getting crushed, but unemployment stays relatively low (6% to 7%) for a recession.

      1. John Beech

        And I’ve got my powder dry waiting on a certain Ferrari I’ve been lusting for. Time to buy these toys is when brokers are making margin calls to the optimists. Oh happy days!

    2. NotThisAgain

      As an aside, if Truss doesn’t change her policies or rhetoric very soon, she may very well end up having one of the shortest tenures as PM in British history.

      1. c_heale

        My shock this morning in East Asia is the the BOE hasn’t increased interest rates. That is what the market expected. So the pound is going to fall again. And Truss and Kwarteng won’t reverse their policies because they would see it as losing control of the narrative. Anyone for 0.8 pounds sterling to the dollar?

        1. NotThisAgain

          I don’t know how banks and hedge funds work exactly, but I would be somewhat surprised if all of their models incorporated this type of a drop…I gotta believe that some players are heavily levered and unhedged against this “unthinkable” scenario… Maybe this will be the new round of headlines in the upcoming months?

          If the BoE caves, I’m interested in seeing how the public will react to higher interest rates, higher costs, and a tanking economy simultaneously, though–I don’t see how Truss remains unless she backs down *extremely* quickly.

    3. barefoot charley

      Agree. Every time our owners’ greed and criminality trigger global breakdowns, the US remains the safest haven to hide from what we cause. The certainty that our institutions will grow stronger from each wave of destruction they create is no secret, except from fewer and fewer Americans. Alas, TINA, so there.

      1. NotThisAgain

        Well, in this case it is definitely a matter of safety.

        In general, though, I have read a theory that suggests that the US dollar rises for a different reason: The USD is the most heavily used and borrowed currency, meaning that businesses are “short” it. When there is a market dislocation, creditors call in their debts. That forces borrowers to cover, which causes a demand on US-denominated debt, and hence on US dollars.

        I don’t know how accurate this explanation is, incidentally–I just found it thought provoking.

      2. Tom Stone

        Considering Biden’s recent statements those wealthy Chinese who purchased US Real Estate might be well advised to move their assets to a Country that still observes the Rule of Law.
        Perhaps Cuba…

      3. Michael McK

        I assume China realizes it will never be able to spend most of it’s dollar reserves. If I were them I would pay off the dollar denominated debts of the third world, giving them a clean slate, in return for never trading with dollars again. Let third world elites and their dollar hoardings crash. They could issue enough bonds themselves (in their currency of course) to soak up some excess local saving instead of it fueling inflation speculation, though not for the purpose of foreigners offshoring loot.

        1. NotThisAgain

          Interesting thought, but I’m not sure they can spend their reserves because the country will need to bail out its banks (that real estate hangover is going to be a doozy, I think.) I am actually more pessimistic on China than even Britain in the medium term.

          However, assuming this is possible, I’m curious how this would work in practice. Let’s says China uses some of its reserves to buy all of a country’s foreign (e.g. Argentinian) bonds that are USD-denominated. They then cancel the debt. In that case, China takes a loss on its balance sheet, the USD goes down a bit (because there are more USDs circulating in the open market), and the Argentinean peso presumably goes up while interest rates decline (because likelihood of default has dropped to nil).

          Is that correct? If so, what happens next? I think that money then flows into Argentina, creating a boom that the economy has useful (productive) assets that it can invest in, and then maybe becomes speculative if the economy cannot absorb that cash productively.
          What happens to all of the other actors?

          1. John Beech

            Added to which, Argentines are experts at getting in over their heads so how long before they’re in trouble yet again?

          2. Doc

            I don’t think so. The economic model is rent seeking. That is driven by interest rates. I don’t the moneyed folks have any interest in doing actual business in Argentina or Latin America in general. They want to bail out failed governments, that we (USA) caused to fail with huge loans that are not intended to be repaid. They are intended to create a new indebted society that they can siphon any wealth from. I think that is why everyone is in a panic that Colombia voted for a leftist and the Chile is trying to protect its lithium assets. If Argentinas debt suddenly went to zero, they have no need to take on new debt. They can start their economy fresh with minimal input/influence from the US and others. That would be a huge win for the global south.

          3. drumlin woodchuckles

            If the ChinaGov can’t afford to spend all its dollar reserves paying off the entire debt of all the Third World countries, perhaps the ChinaGov can afford to spend some of its reserves paying off all the debt of a few strategically selected potentially powerful-in-their-own-right Third World countries. If China paid off the entire debt of Brazil, Venezuela, Algeria, Argentina, Turkiye, and a few crucial others, the ChinaGov would have some very grateful friend-governments in a position to turn gratitude into support.

            Those other governments might even pay it forward by themselves paying off the debts of some other “second tier of power” Third World countries. And so on down the cascade of dominoes.

    4. Lex

      Not qualified to offer an informed opinion, so instead I have a question: is the US now defending the dollar no matter the collateral damage to the currency of friends and/or enemies? Or is it less of a “defense” of the dollar than it is a confluence of events brought about by everyone pursuing their “rational” self-interest?

      Because beyond the dollar, it does look like the west is sucking as much of the world’s real economy into itself as it can. There’s the EU willing to starve the global south if need be to make sure it has enough food and the US willing to destroy the EU economy so long as it can keep up appearances in the land of pleasant living a while longer.

      1. NotThisAgain

        I don’t think that the US is mounting a defense of the dollar–I think it is trying to control (or provide some semblance of pretending to be interested in controlling) inflation. I think that it will have to give up and ease financial conditions soon, though, just to cushion the rest of the world to whatever degree that it can.

        I am not sure how much help that will actually provide, but this is not my area of expertise. However, I don’t see how Europe emerges unscathed, or even minorly scathed, from this. In fact, I can’t even quite explain the current absence of a flood of Europeans trying to get PR in the US/Canada/Australia.

        Given Europe’s security situation, though, and its demographics, I think a “Guns Vs Butter” debate is inevitable–and I think that the guns will win.

        1. bsun

          In fact, I can’t even quite explain the current absence of a flood of Europeans trying to get PR in the US/Canada/Australia.

          Having spoken to a few friends in Europe about this in the last week or so, I think it might be because they don’t think it’s going to be that bad. European liberals seem to have great faith that the leadership in the EU and in their respective countries are capable of dealing with the problems in the long term. They think they’re going to have one bad winter and then things will start going back to normal.

          Although I’d be interested to hear from people living in the EU if this matches their experience.

          1. stack_comrade

            I can only report on what I’m seeing in Germany. The people I know who consume international news are very worried; the people who consume the German news are preparing for a cozy winter. I don’t think anybody, including me, has any concrete idea about how bad it’s gonna get. I’m expecting planned blackouts and unprecedented price hikes for staples. Energy bills have already doubled and will probably do so a couple more times. I’m expecting a vituous PMC to virtue signal about how uncomfortable it is to work in a fancy coat inside while ever more people start getting evicted for not being to afford to live in heated flats. There was some talk about plans to turn turn sports arenas into warmth shelters, which I can only hope will happen if they can’t figure out how else to house people. It looks bleak, though, and nobody seems to have enough of an overview of what we will be facing to really start planning for a myriad worst case scenarios.

      2. Lou Anton

        It’s foreign (non-US) states and banks that lend and do business in [euro]dollars. The world is short on dollars and will pay any price and sell anything they can to get them (e.g., their US govt bonds).

    5. skippy

      Links has a post from Kelton you might be interested in where she points out Bill Mitchell’s work on the 1976 experience.

      This blog continues the discussion of the British currency crisis in 1976. Today we discuss the way the US government was constructing the crisis. They had previously seen Europe in terms of military and political threats and had clearly developed a range of interventions in Europe (NATO, military bases etc) in response to their fear of Communism. But, it was clear that the US began to believe that the on-going financial turmoil that accompanied the OPEC oil shocks at a time when the world was trying to adjust to the collapse of the Bretton Woods system (and the Smithsonian agreement reprise), was undermining what they called their “assumptions of political stability” and increasing, in their paranoiac minds, the threat of the spread of communism. They considered that the IMF would have to be ‘steered’ to take a larger role in this period of turmoil to restore financial stability – a precondition for political stability (in their eyes). And if they couldn’t directly order the IMF to act in the perceived interests of the US government, then they would do it informally – through “‘conversations’ rather than meetings”. It is a very interesting period because the US clearly wanted to use the IMF to influence “the future shape of the political economy of Great Britain”. The ‘crisis’ was, in effect, manufactured to give those ambitions ‘ground cover’. At least, that is one plausible perspective of what happened in 1976. – snip


      I’ve linked to the aggregate of the posts on the topic from his site. It should be noted that this timeline is currant with the rise of neoliberalism becoming the dominate socioeconomic ideology that guides the Western world. It might also help to explain the currant geopolitical motivations[hangovers] and how path dependency is baked in or rusted on so hard.

      All of which is summarized by Bill so well – “the course taken by the Government was a triumph of ideology and perception over evidence and reality.”

      1. skippy

        And also point out this ideology deemed it – ‘immorality’ – yes, the US thought the fiscal deficits the Brits were running were immoral. Hence I would argue its a currant reflection of many political operatives and their groups in how they formulate policy and more importantly how they frame it for consumption by the unwashed. Which then seems to translate to the increase in sociopolitical fundamentalism and all its socioeconomic ills e.g. become more ridged and when that fails fat finger some other mob and double down.

        Case in point … watching the American Greens side with the Sound Money Monetary Theory group aka Monetarist’s … what is old is new … thingy …

    6. Tim

      Currencies have been in a race to the bottom, with the dollar in last place.

      Just think that despite the strength of the dollar relative to other currencies it is still devaluing at nearly 9% a year.
      US Series I savings bonds are the best investment vehicle in the world right now and it’s not even close. And they seem to be designed for average joes (10k/year max) so spread the word.

    7. aj

      We spent years trying to figure out how to prop up our (USA) currency, when all we really had to do was destroy the European economy instead. Problem solved. /sarcasm

    8. griffen

      I try to find solace in these times in true satirical fashion, wherever that is available. Since it’s an open thread, I want to drop in the latest print on the Rapture Ready index. Today’s level at 186.


      It is shockingly down by 1, according to the link. The all time high is within reach, just need to try harder on the doom and gloom.

  3. petal

    Received notice of a nationwide CO2 shortage today and were asked to shut down any unused cell culture incubators, etc. Good times.

    “As many of you are already aware, there is a significant national shortage of CO2 gas due to a confluence of production issues in both the petroleum and ethanol industries that are the source of most CO2 used in industry, food production and medical/laboratory settings.”

    1. Arizona Slim

      I’ve seen similar signs on the door of the local homebrew shop. Makes me all the more grateful for my preference for bottle carbonating my kombucha batches.

  4. Michael Hudson

    Schadenfreude question:
    Do any of you have a head count of how many heads of state have come down with Covid since the QE superspreader funeral?
    Only the Dutch royalty — and did they already have it (and merely spread it there?).

    1. Arizona Slim

      Y’know, back in the day, there was a simple bit of advice: If you’re sick, stay home. Whatever happened to that one?

    2. Acacia

      Another superspreader state funeral happening in Japan today: former PM Abe Shinzo.

      From Super Mario to Suupaasupureddaa (yes, people say “スーパースプレッダー”).

      A majority of Japanese are against the state funeral, PM Kishida has ignored public opinion as usual, and many taxpayers are angry not only about all the connections that have been exposed between the LDP, Abe and the Unification Church, but that the LDP’s budget for Abe’s funeral is quite a bit higher(!) even than that for Queen Elizabeth (I guess bribes cost more in Japan?).

      At the same time, there are anti-state funeral protests happening, Adachi Masao’s new film about the assassin entitled REVOLUTION + 1 (screening concurrently), “Anti-State Funeral Protest” is the top search suggestion on Twitter, and last week a man attempted to self-immolate near the prime minister’s office by pouring oil over himself and setting it on fire. He left a note saying that he was “absolutely against” the state funeral.

      The event will be held in Budokan (you know, the place where bands like KISS and Van Halen used to perform ;). Masks remain popular in Tokyo, despite the official efforts to follow CDC policy, but dunno about the ventilation at the venue.

      It’ll be interesting to see how many attendees become sick with Covid in the coming weeks.

  5. Samuel Conner

    A gardening technique I’ve been saving for a “talk amongst yourselves” day:

    Emulsifying Neem oil for garden use.


    the recipe is toward the bottom.

    TL;DR — thoroughly blend the neem oil with dish soap in a small-ish amount of warm water before diluting to final concentration for use in sprayers.

    Just mixing to final concentration following directions on the label may not result in adequate dispersion of the oil; doing that in my experience led to soon re-separation of the phases, with globs of neem oil gumming up the sprayer (warming the spray bottle in a hot water bath unjammed the sprayer, but in future I will use the two-step “emulsify, then dilute” procedure to avoid this problem).

    1. Acacia

      I’ve been trying this lately, with Neem, water, and Dr. Bronner’s, but it doesn’t seem to stop the insects. :/

      Or maybe there’s some trick?

    1. Foy

      My sister in Austria just sent me a message about this.

      Spiegel are saying there was a leak in Danish territorial waters.


      “After a drastic pressure loss occurred in one of the two lines of Nord Stream 2 during the night on Monday and a leak was found in Danish territorial waters,”

      “Research into the causes has been initiated in both cases, and the security authorities at federal level have taken on the cases. “Forensic results” cannot be expected within a short time, since the seabed has to be reached.”

      “However, due to the timing, the three pipelines affected and the severe pressure losses in Nord Stream 1, which also indicate a large leak, the worst is expected.”

      “We can’t imagine a scenario that isn’t a targeted attack,” said a person familiar with the federal and federal government’s assessment. It went on to say: “Everything speaks against a coincidence.”

      Original German article here


      1. notabanker

        Forensic results” cannot be expected within a short time, since the seabed has to be reached.”

        By the S&P500?

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      I heard a news report about 3 major points of leakage. The report said that it is unknown whether Russia diddit, or whether anti-Russia diddit to say ” look what Russia did.”

    1. griffen

      Recently booked my first flight in nearly 3 years, not a major or national airline but regional based. I think they’ve copied the pricing model espoused in the fiction by PK Dick. You don’t have a seat assigned, there is a fee to choose one ( okay that’s not really a new thing ). Every angle is covered.

      Fly with Ubik. We are the friendly flyer of choice! \sarc

  6. Pelham

    I caught some NPR on the way to my latest Covid vaccine this afternoon and listened to a portion of a segment on, I think, various Republican efforts around the country to rally people to somehow rig the 2024 elections. Fine. But the two NPR talkers appeared to recoil in particular at the MAGA rabble rousers’ call for paper ballots counted in public.

    This was spoken of as if it were an obvious example of nefariousness aimed at undermining democracy. At least that’s what I gleaned as I was maneuvering through traffic and half listening. Has anyone else picked up on anything like this, in particular on 1) 2020 election deniers calling for a turn away from machines and a return to paper ballots, and 2) PMC revulsion at the mere idea of paper ballots?

    If I’ve got this right, it’s another example of the lately inverted nature of the universe, including those infrequent but telling instances of folks like Marjorie Taylor Greene vying for Lambert’s (and my) vote.

    1. marym

      I’m not following too closely, but here are a few points.

      69% of voters already have the election day option of hand-marked paper ballots. I think the voting rights bill Democrats pretended to want to pass had that option as a requirement. In 2020 40% of voters voted by absentee ballot. These are overlapping categories in some cases, but we have a lot of voting by hand-marked ballots. In states where there’s already a well-established process for hand-marked ballots the issue would be tabulation.

      According to the WaPo link there’s been very little study comparing accuracy, with a slight advantage to machine scanning. Another issue would possibly be the time it would take. I haven’t found much discussion or study of that, and my own very brief attempt to search for other countries with ballots having many races, and also many different races depending on jurisdiction wasn’t fruitful. The ninja audit in Maricopa county took weeks, just to recount votes for president and senators, though they did some other examination of the ballots, like under some sort of special light.

      Since states don’t have history, methodology, lessons-learned, etc. on how to organize hand counting on a large scale, a political issue in the near term would be potential for “brooks brothers riot” scenes at tabulation sites when counting takes a long time; and (if one takes a darker view of current controversies) the possibility of calling off a long-running count in favor of an “independent state legislature” choosing electors.


    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      I see two different things at work. Thing One: Hand marked paper ballots would make elections more secure even though Republicans say they would.

      Thing Two: Trump-movement aligned Republicans are working to get their people into every pain and pressure point they can for falsely declaring a perfectly legitimate election to be fraudulent if Republicans don’t win that election. They are also working to pack poll-watching and poll-working cadres and staffs with their Trump-movement intimidators and harrassers in order to chaotify as many little zones of ballot-casting as possible to be able to create a sh!t-flood zone “plausible un-knowability” as to who really won what election.

      Those who hate the Democrats and want to see them “punished” will view all this with delighted Schadenfreude, the more Democrats who can be denied office , the more delighted Schadenfreude they will feel. In the long run and too late, they will realize that the same election fraud engineering methods the Republicans roll out against the Democrats over the next few cycles will remain in place for use against any other political party which the Democrat-haters would like to see winning elections, such as the Democratic Socialists of America.

      That is my confident prediction.

  7. michael sharkey

    A recent study of more than 6 million people 65 and older found that seniors who had Covid-19 had a substantially higher risk of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease within a year.

  8. Mark Gisleson

    School shooting in Russia.

    Swastika wearing gunman, 15 dead many more wounded. Terrible day for Russia but all I can think about is, Was the United States government behind this in some way?

    I don’t think that’s an unfair question.

      1. Mark Gisleson

        They updated the article to identify the gunman and apparently he was an actual escapee from a local facility for the insane.

        1. Harold

          I stand corrected. I wonder where he got the gun & swastika in the mental facility, though. Maybe not a recent escapee.

    1. notabanker

      Surprising they found enough middle aged singers from the 1940’s left to do the recording. Or maybe there’s an app for that.

    1. Brunches with Cats

      Aaaand THAR SHE BLOWS!

      No explosion, just the camera going dead. But the images just before impact were pretty amazing.

        1. Brunches with Cats

          Dunno, Mark. Onboard camera was destroyed on impact. I’m assuming NASA was filming from other vantage points, but when they’ll release those images, your guess is as good as mine. Hopefully they’ll be faster to respond than the CDC.

  9. Hepativore

    How about a music post?

    Here is Robot Stop by King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard.


    They are a bizarre psychedelic band from Australia. This is their attempt at a “punk” album. I like how the video takes place in a red, pixelated world filled with electronics and heavy machinery.

    1. Mark Gisleson

      Huge following on internet sites, and they’re big into recording their concerts like Gov’t Mule does. KG&LW and Gov’t Mule are the true heirs to the Grateful Dead, at least so far as bootlegs go.

      I’ve followed them casually and they seem to keep getting better. Not sure, but I think some modern rockers have learned from the past and no longer bring a pharmacist on tour.

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