By Lambert Strether of Corrente
This is Naked Capitalism fundraising week. 267 donors have already invested in our efforts to combat corruption and predatory conduct, particularly in the financial realm. Please join us and participate via our donation page, which shows how to give via check, credit card, debit card, or PayPal. Read about why we’re doing this fundraiser, what we’ve accomplished in the last year,, and our current goal, supporting the commentariat.
Readers, I hope your Labor Day weekend was enjoyable! I accumulated a ton of material over the three-day weekend, and I need to incorporate it now, or I’ll never get out from under. So please check back. –lambert
Bird Song of the Day
Cozumel Thrasher, Quintana Roo, Mexico. Species suggested by alert reader SV. Energetic little creature! (The bird, not SV.)
“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
“White House requests $47 billion in aid for Ukraine, virus fights and natural disasters” [Politico]. “In the funding request, the White House will seek $11.7 billion in Ukraine security and economic assistance, $2 billion to address the effects of Russia’s war on domestic energy supply, $22.4 billion for the domestic fight against Covid-19 and $3.9 billion for domestic efforts to fight monkeypox — as well as $600 million to combat the monkeypox spread globally. The administration is also requesting $6.5 billion to aid recovery for recent natural disaster events, such as major flooding in Kentucky and wildfires in California.” • Adding:
Per @PunchbowlNews this am- “We’re hearing that Democratic congressional leaders are considering attaching a provision codifying same sex marriage protections onto a must-pass spending bill to keep the federal government open past Sept. 30.”
— Kellie Meyer (@KellieMeyerNews) September 6, 2022
Oh. So they’re going to codify Obergefell but not Roe v. Wade? Really?
“Biden picks White House veteran to run revived climate drive” [Associated Press]. “President Joe Biden on Friday brought back John Podesta, a behind-the-scenes veteran at getting things done on climate in past Democratic administrations, to put into place an ambitious U.S. climate program newly revived by $375 billion from Congress. Biden named Podesta as a senior adviser, charged with implementing the landmark clean-energy and climate spending under the huge health care and climate bill passed by Congress in August. Podesta will also lead the administration’s climate task force. Further reshaping the White House’s climate team for a significantly more hopeful phase, Biden also announced the departure of his current climate adviser, Gina McCarthy. A former Environmental Protection Agency chief, McCarthy had led Biden’s domestic climate program during Democrats’ two years of struggle — often seeming all but doomed — to get the climate financing through Congress. McCarthy was trusted on Capitol Hill and delayed her departure until Biden could sign the new climate measures into law last month.” • Podesta is 73. I’m verging on gerontocrat status myself, so I can’t get too upset about this — granted, I’m not being asked to run a $375 billion program — but holy [family blog], couldn’t the Democrats find anybody besides a CAP goon and the chair of Clinton’s 2016 campaign?
* * *
“Dems erase GOP’s Senate advantage” [Politico]. “The fight for control of the 50-50 Senate is a toss-up…. A number of factors contributed to Democrats’ resurgence, but the declining national headwinds facing the party are most responsible. Democratic voters are energized after the Supreme Court’s abortion decision, and Donald Trump’s constant presence in the spotlight is driving Democratic anger. Weaker Republican opponents in some states have also played a role: In Arizona, GOP nominee Blake Masters’ struggles since winning the primary last month have moved the state from “Toss Up” to “Lean Democratic” — a reflection of Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly’s growing lead over Masters. The Arizona shift leaves four “Toss-Up” Senate races — two currently controlled by each party. If neither party wins one of the races where the opposition has an advantage now, Republicans would need to win three of the four “Toss Up” races to wrest control of the majority.” • Of course, the Democrats deserve to be greatly punished (but I’m glad I never jumped on the bandwagon that they would be. I mean, Labor Day is only just past, so the real horse-race has just begun.
“The Coin Is in the Air for the Senate” [Charlie Cook, Cook Political Report]. “One of the primary reasons the president’s party has suffered a net loss of House seats in 36 of the 39 midterm elections since the start of the Civil War is that those in the opposition party are almost always more motivated to vote than those in the president’s party. This had been the case for much of this cycle, but the Dobbs Supreme Court decision, as well as some of the other developments previously mentioned, seemed to put a bit more starch in Democrats’ shorts, all but completely closing the gap, As NBC News Senior Political Editor Mark Murray wrote, “68% of Republicans express a high level of interest in the upcoming election—registering either a “9” or “10” on a 10-point scale—versus 66% for Democrats. That 2-point GOP advantage is down from 17 points in March and 8 points in May.” This is a key yardstick, though not the only one, that pollsters use to look at the likely level of voter turnout within each base.” • Cook is a sober commentator; the whole piece is worth a read.
“Biden seeks to separate ‘mainstream’ Republicans from ‘Trumpies’ in Wisconsin speech” [Politico]. • As earlier in Pennsylvania, as I wrote.
“Judge orders halt to DOJ review of documents seized from Trump” [Politico]. “‘Plaintiff faces an unquantifiable potential harm by way of improper disclosure of sensitive information to the public,’ U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon wrote in a 24-page ruling issued on Labor Day. Cannon’s order included permitting a so-called special master to review the seized materials for potential attorney-client and executive privilege. Prosecutors expressed exasperation at Trump’s demand to review for executive privilege, noting that there is no precedent for a former executive to assert privilege to bar review of materials by a sitting executive branch — particularly when the government has determined the need is urgent.” • Seems like a reasonable outcome, given that the FBI investigation is being run by Trump’s political enemies, and they’ve already seized attorney-client privileged documents. Commentary:
If the FBI seized anything actually damning from Trump it would have been leaked to CNN, WaPo, and the NY Times five minutes after the raid.
— John Cardillo (@johncardillo) September 6, 2022
I hate to be cynical, but I have to agree.
“Barr suggests Trump ‘deceived’ the government over classified records” [NBC]. If deceiving the government is a crime, there’s gonna be a lot of people in jail, especially from the Beltway. “It’s unclear what was in the classified records taken by Trump or why he took them, and Barr said he couldn’t figure out what Trump’s motives were.’ I can’t think of a legitimate reason why’ the documents were taken, Barr said, swiping at Trump’s defenders who said that he could declassify records en masse by mere verbal or mental fiat. ‘I, frankly, am skeptical of this claim that ‘I declassified everything,’” Barr said. ‘I think it’s highly improbable … if in fact he sort of stood over scores of boxes, not really knowing what was in them, and said, ‘I hereby declassify everything in here.’ That would be such an abuse, and — that shows such recklessness that it’s almost worse than taking the documents.'” First, I think standing over boxes and saying “I declassify everything” is not ipso facto reckless and we should do much more of it (start with JFK, move on to UFOs, and then, as a palate cleanser, whatever the spooks have on Jeffrey Epstien). I realize my attitude would cause a cause of collective verklempt in those wealthy Northern Virginia suburbs we hear so much about, where everybody “works in government,” but come on. Everybody knows overclassification is a serious problem. Also, is Barr a little child? Trump’s obvious motive is RussiaGate (August 29). And I’m not the only one who thinks so (September 1).
Realignment and Legitimacy
“Voting “Not Guilty”: A Toolkit on Jury Nullification” [Beyond Criminal Courts] (PDF). “Jury nullification is a term used to describe a situation when jurors decide to acquit a person of criminal charges even though the person on trial could technically be convicted based on the evidence. Jury nullification is a concrete, practical way that jurors can assert their values and stop people from going to jail or prison, and it is one approach that we can use, alongside many others, to disrupt the carceral state.”
Lambert here: As readers know, I stan for nasal vaccines. The news flow, at least, is increasing:
• ”Starpharma wins recognition for development of COVID-19 antiviral nasal spray” (press release) [Biotech Dispatch]. “
Starpharma (ASX:SPL) has been announced as the winner of the ‘Most Significant Commercial Outcome’ award following the completion of a Biomedical Translation Bridge (BTB) program backed by the federal government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) and MTPConnect. The award recognises the substantial and rapid impact of the company’s novel, broad-spectrum antiviral nasal spray in the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Starpharma developed and commercialised , within 12 months. It was .” • Big if true; I think we’re looking at mouse studies. Here is the site, with the mechanism. It’s apparently available over the counter in the UK. That said, I’m all for low-cost, high-reward approaches. What have we got to lose? Can any Austrialian readers chime in?
• ”Mount Sinai spins out vaccine Castle, preparing to lay siege to infectious diseases” [Fierce Biotech]. Buried in the story: “Mount Sinai reports that interim results from a placebo-controlled, phase 1/2 study of the technology in Thailand found that the nasal vaccine induced higher neutralizing antibodies against the Wuhan strain than the available COVID-19 shots in the U.S. Interim results of a booster study of the nasal spray conducted at Mount Sinai are expected in the fourth quarter, according to CastleVax CEO Matt Stober. The vaccine technology has been transferred to manufacturers in Brazil, Mexico, Vietnam and Thailand, which together could produce more than a billion doses a year.” • A billion doses would be nice. It has occurred to me that nasal vaccines take dead aim at two ginormous monopolies: Big Pharma, especially if the nasal vaccines are sterlizing, as early reporting suggested they would be; and also Big Hospitals, because medical professionals are no longer needed to inject the vaccines with needles. There is also the decreased requirement for a cold chain. Nasal vaccines upset a lot of rice bowls. Hence….? —
• “Bharat Biotech’s nasal vaccine enters 2nd phase of human trials in Kanpur today” [KnockSense Hindi]. From 30 Aug, 2021. “The second phase of human trials for the intra-nasal COVID vaccine, BBV 154, has started in Kanpur from today onwards. As per reports, this innovative vaccine has been developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with Washington University School of Medicine. Reportedly, the trial centre set up at Prakhar Hospital received ICMR’s approval on Monday and now, the volunteers have been called for this maiden drive…. As per reports, Chief Guide Dr. J.S. Kushwaha, informed that two drops of the nasal vaccine will be introduced in each nostril of the volunteers and they will have to lay down for 5 minutes. After this period, two more drops will be given to them and they will not be permitted to get up for the next 30 minutes. A second dose will be administered, on the same lines, after 28 days. Further, the doctor apprised that the antibody tests will be conducted in two different ways. Besides the saliva samples, 5 mm blood samples will also be collected on the 1st, 28th, 56th, 90th and 180th days. With the help of this, comprehensive antibody reports will be prepared. As per reports, this group consists of non-vaccinated individuals, with or without a history of COVID infection… As per reports, it is anticipated that the third phase trials will be conducted in Kanpur itself.” • Awesome, except I thought, from Bharat’s press release, that BBV154 had already passed its Stage III human trials. NOTE: All that detail about volunteers lying down makes me think there are indeed concerns about administration, a known issue with nasal vaccines. Here is the new study in Clinical Trials:
— Pdr (@Pdr_US) September 2, 2022
(Bharat hasn’t released its data, either.)
• ”Barts Health researchers show nasal spray can prevent Covid-19″ (press release) [NHS Barts Health]. “Newly published results from a clinical trial led by Barts Health and Queen Mary University of London researchers show that a nasal spray (pHOXWELL) can reduce infection with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes Covid-19) by 62%. The trial was carried out in India between April to July 2021, the peak surge of the highly infectious Delta variant. It involved 556 participants – 275 used pHOXWELL and 281 used a placebo (i.e. a fake nasal spray) – three times a day. After 45 days, our researchers measured how many antibodies against Covid-19 each person in both groups had. They found that pHOXWELL was safe and that after 45 days, 13.1% of those in the group that used it had antibodies against the Covid-19 virus, compared to 34.5% in the group who received the placebo. This shows that using pHOXWELL dramatically reduces the chances of developing Covid-19. Researchers also found that people who used the nasal spray were less likely to experience symptoms than those given the placebo. No serious side effects were reported in either group and participants noted that the nasal spray was easy to use.”
• “Immunogenicity and protectivity of intranasally delivered vector-based heterologous prime-boost COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik V in mice and non-human primates” [Emerging Microbes and Infections]. “Here, we demonstrate that the intranasally delivered Gam-COVID-Vac (Sputnik V) vaccine induced in mice. High immunogenic properties of the vaccine were verified in non-human primates (common marmosets) by marked IgG and neutralizing antibody (NtAb) production in blood serum, antigen-specific T-cell proliferation and cytokine release of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) accompanied by formation of IgA antibodies in the nasal mucosa. We also demonstrate that Sputnik V vaccine can provide in K18-hACE2 transgenic mice exposed to experimental lethal SARS-CoV-2 infection protecting them against severe lung immunopathology and mortality.” • Remember, however, that “monkeys exaggerate, but mice lie.”
• ”New inhaled COVID-19 therapeutic blocks viral replication in the lungs” (press release) [Berkeley News]. “Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have created a new COVID-19 therapeutic that could one day make treating SARS-CoV-2 infections as easy as using a nasal spray for allergies. In a new study published online in the journal Nature Communications, the team shows that these short snippets, called antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs), are highly effective at preventing the virus from replicating in human cells. When administered in the nose, these ASOs are also effective at preventing and treating COVID-19 infection in mice and hamsters.” • Therapeutics beyond busts like Paxlovid are good. Getting away from needles is good. The key is the words “one day.”
• ”Serious adverse events of special interest following mRNA COVID-19 vaccination in randomized trials in adults” [Vaccine]. Meta-study. From the Abstract: “The excess risk of serious adverse events found in our study points to the need for formal harm-benefit analyses, particularly those that are stratified according to risk of serious COVID-19 outcomes. These analyses will require public release of participant level datasets.” Indeed they will. And from the body: “Rational policy formation should consider potential harms alongside potential benefits.  To illustrate this need in the present context, we conducted a simple harm-benefit comparison using the trial data comparing excess risk of serious [adverse events of special interest (AESIs)] based against reductions in COVID-19 hospitalization. We found excess risk of serious AESIs to exceed the reduction in COVID-19 hospitalizations in both Pfizer and Moderna trials.” • Oopsie. Something to consider….
• ”How covid-19 spreads: narratives, counter narratives, and social dramas” [BMJ]. Worth reading in full. “The official droplet-but-not-airborne narrative materialised as artefacts (such as posters, disinfectant dispensers, and 2 metre distancing markers) and social practices (actions accepted and expected in particular contexts). Droplet directed practices became ubiquitous, as people washed hands and forearms assiduously for 20 seconds, quarantined and disinfected their post, and stayed a measured distance apart, and institutions installed and policed the various artefacts and practices. These rituals of purification powerfully reinforced the official narrative. ‘Clean’ and ‘contaminated’ came to be demarcated in terms of how recently and thoroughly hands had been sanitised and how far a droplet was assumed to travel. The same rituals served to downplay or obscure the narrative of aerosol transmission—which demarcated clean and contaminated in terms of air purity, with practices oriented to controlling indoor crowding and time spent indoors, ventilating or filtering air, and optimising quality and fit of masks. These material and enacted features of policy discourse served to silence further the narrative that SARS-CoV-2 is airborne.” • The tragic and unnecessary consequences:
One major, toxic consequence of the failure to acknowledge and properly message that SARS2 (and a ton of other pathogens) are airborne is that many people who are actually cautious about Covid aren’t aware of the best ways to reduce risk
— Thomas Finch, MD, MBA (@FinchTH) September 5, 2022
You still see people cleaning surfaces in good faith, because of CDC and WHO’s droplet goons controlled the “scientific” messaging.
If you can’t infect strangers with a highly contagious potentially debilitating virus and view stunning works of art at the exact same time what is art even FOR? ❤️ https://t.co/lcnzHYEoc2
— Covid19 (@friendlycovid19) September 4, 2022
Makes me wish there’s a Hell.
If you missed it, here’s a post on my queasiness with CDC numbers, especially case count, which I (still) consider most important, despite what Walensky’s psychos at CDC who invented “community levels” think. But these are the numbers we have.
Case count 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 ~83,350. Today, it’s ~65,850 and 65,850 * 6 = a Biden line at 395,100 per day. (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:
I assume Labor Day data issues, but again, the rest of the South doesn’t have the wild gyrations that Texas and Florida do.
Doing pretty well!
More backward revisions. Labor Day weekend data issues?
Wastewater data (CDC), August 30:
California isn’t reporting anything, so we have no cross-check on its recent fall in case count. This is beyond absurd, even for the eugenicist buffoons who run CDC.
For grins, August 29:
• ”Wastewater surveillance becomes more targeted in search for poliovirus, monkeypox and coronavirus” [CNN]. “Some disease detectives in the United States are narrowing their wastewater surveillance efforts to zero in on specific buildings and to identify hot spots for a growing list of diseases. ‘Some wastewater surveillance is done at the community level, and some is done at the building level, which is a little bit better nuanced in terms of trying to target messaging,’ said Lori Tremmel Freeman, chief executive officer of the National Association of County and City Health Officials. ‘For example, in some of our jurisdictions, they’ll monitor a large hotel or a prison setting,’ she said. ‘If it pops up there, you can target messaging directly to that building.’ A building-level approach to wastewater surveillance is underway at all 11 hospitals within the NYC Health + Hospitals integrated health care system in New York City.” • An obvious solution for college and university dorms, too.
From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, September 6:
-2.7%. The downward trend inside the red circle is actually encouraging.
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.
This is actually still improving. More yellow in the Plains states and the Mountain states.
NOT UPDATED Rapid Riser data, by county (CDC), August 30:
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), August 30:
Lots of green, which should make the hospital-centric goons at the Centers for Disease happy. Then again, Light Green is trending down, and Dark Green is straight down. What I would like to see is a lot of Dark Green. But I’m not.
NOTE: Rapid Riser and Hospitalization data are updated Wednesdays and Fridays.
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].
Lambert here: The last real — i.e., not modeled — data from CDC is August 6. That’s such a ginormous derelection I don’t even know what to say. Basic disrespect for honest, hardworking Americans trying to make their “personal risk assessments.” How on earth are people supposed to do that without variant data? Do the morons at CDC think BA.5 is going to be the last?
NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (Walgreens), August 20:
Still no sign of BA2.75 at Walgreens, despite its success in India and presence in Bay Area wastewater.
NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (CDC), August 13 (Nowcast off):
Still no sign of BA2.75.
Logistics: “United States LMI Logistics Managers Index Current” [Trading Economics]. “The Logistics Manager’s Index in the US fell for a fifth month to 59.7 in August of 2022, the lowest since May of 2020, from 60.7 in July mostly on falling demand. Although the index shows the overall logistics industry continues to expand, the rate of growth is now 16.5 points down from March when we saw an all-time high reading of 76.2. This is the largest slide we have seen over a five-month period in the history of the index.”
Services: “United States ISM Non Manufacturing PMI” [Trading Economics]. “he ISM Services PMI unexpectedly edged higher to 56.9 in August of 2022 from 56.7 in July, beating market forecasts of 55.1, and pointing to the strongest growth in services activity in four months.”
The Bezzle: “Conspiracy Brokers: Understanding the Monetization of YouTube Conspiracy Theories” [Association for Computing Machinery]. From the Abstract: “We collect 184,218 ad impressions from 6,347 unique advertisers found on conspiracy-focused channels and mainstream YouTube content. We classify the ads into business categories and compare their prevalence between conspiracy and mainstream content. We also identify common offsite monetization methods. In comparison with mainstream content, conspiracy videos had similar levels of ads from well-known brands, but an almost eleven times higher prevalence of likely predatory or deceptive ads. Additionally, we found that conspiracy channels were more than twice as likely as mainstream channels to use offsite monetization methods, and 53% of the demonetized channels we observed were linking to third-party sites for alternative monetization opportunities. Our results indicate that conspiracy theorists on YouTube had many potential avenues to generate revenue, and that predatory ads were more frequently served for conspiracy videos.” • YouTube, good job. Maybe focus on the predatory advertising rather than content. Just a thought.
Mr. Market: Committed to the bit:
— unusual_whales (@unusual_whales) September 6, 2022
NOTE: Zelensky will virtually ring the bell. He’s not in New York checking out real estate.
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 41 Fear (previous close: 42 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 49 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 6 at 1:42 PM EDT.
Rapture Index: Closes up one on Climate. “It’s very rare for this category to be at the maxium rating” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 188. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.). Finally, climate. I like “maxium,” because it menas a human is reallly doing this.
I wonder if anybody is photographing European LNG terminals and pipelines right now:
"One just has to select the right objects and fit them into the picture precisely, then they tell their own story all by themselves."
— Aesthetica Magazine (@AestheticaMag) September 2, 2022
The source for kawaii?
— HAM: Drawings (Bot) (@ham_drawing) September 3, 2022
it’s really hard to express or grasp how quickly generated art went from a promising novelty to… this pic.twitter.com/q7hxHvCNIt
— tal yarkoni (@talyarkoni) September 3, 2022
I haven’t seen any AI-generated art that isn’t creepy and bad (that goes for NFTs, too). McLuhan was right — I paraphrase, perhaps incorrectly — that media is amputating. Art AI will amputate our human ability to make art for itself. AI should be killed with fire (especially because we don’t know how it works and can’t maintain it).
Successor ideology assaults the museum label:
the labels in this museum are really something pic.twitter.com/07ew5au0I5
— Jonathan 🎃 (@PseudoJonathan) September 3, 2022
These labels talk down to the reader more than any musty scholarship ever did.
Imperial Collapse Watch
The haunting remains of the busts of the first 43 presidents are all that's left of Presidents Park. They're now deteriorating in a field in Virginia. https://t.co/qlS3nxXl68
— Abandoned America / Matthew Christopher (@abandonedameric) September 2, 2022
“The super-rich ‘preppers’ planning to save themselves from the apocalypse” [Guardian]. Holy [family blog]:
They started out innocuously and predictably enough. Bitcoin or ethereum? Virtual reality or augmented reality? Who will get quantum computing first, China or Google? Eventually, they edged into their real topic of concern: New Zealand or Alaska? Which region would be less affected by the coming climate crisis? It only got worse from there. Which was the greater threat: global warming or biological warfare? How long should one plan to be able to survive with no outside help? Should a shelter have its own air supply? What was the likelihood of groundwater contamination? Finally, the CEO of a brokerage house explained that he had nearly completed building his own underground bunker system, and asked: “How do I maintain authority over my security force after the event?” The event. That was their euphemism for the environmental collapse, social unrest, nuclear explosion, solar storm, unstoppable virus, or malicious computer hack that takes everything down.
This single question occupied us for the rest of the hour. They knew armed guards would be required to protect their compounds from raiders as well as angry mobs. One had already secured a dozen Navy Seals to make their way to his compound if he gave them the right cue. But how would he pay the guards once even his crypto was worthless? What would stop the guards from eventually choosing their own leader?
The billionaires considered using special combination locks on the food supply that only they knew. Or making guards wear disciplinary collars of some kind in return for their survival. Or maybe building robots to serve as guards and workers – if that technology could be developed “in time”.
I tried to reason with them. I made pro-social arguments for partnership and solidarity as the best approaches to our collective, long-term challenges. The way to get your guards to exhibit loyalty in the future was to treat them like friends right now, I explained. Don’t just invest in ammo and electric fences, invest in people and relationships. They rolled their eyes at what must have sounded to them like hippy philosophy.
This was probably the wealthiest, most powerful group I had ever encountered. Yet here they were, asking a Marxist media theorist for advice on where and how to configure their doomsday bunkers. That’s when it hit me: at least as far as these gentlemen were concerned, this was a talk about the future of technology.
And no doubt these billionaires are arranging their portfolios — financial and human — for optimal results before, during, and after “the event.” No doubt the continuity of government people are thinking along similar lines:
“Long Covid Is Keeping Millions Of People Out Of Work” [William Haseltine, Forbes]. “The experience of each person who is afflicted with Long Covid is often unique. Some may have more severe and disabling symptoms that prevent them from working entirely, some may have milder symptoms or employer accommodations that allow them to maintain their regular employment, some may work reduced hours or some may be forced by dire financial circumstances to keep working despite severe illness. A July 2021 study from the Patient-Led Research Collaborative found only about 27% of long Covid patients worked as many hours as they did before falling ill, and approximately 23% weren’t working at all, as a direct result of long Covid. In order to accommodate these diverse experiences in their estimates, Brookings drew data from the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank, United Kingdom’s Trades Union Congress, and a Lancet study about the extent of work reductions. This data resulted in estimates of 2 million, 3 million, and 4 million full-time equivalent workers out of the labor force due to Long Covid. The midpoint of this range (3 million full-time equivalent workers) is 1.8% of the entire U.S. civilian labor force.” • Nothing special about Forbes, but this is a good aggregation.
News of the Wired
Justine Haupt’s rotary cell phone:
Really awesome. I like the idea of being out from under location tracking, and I especially like getting four bars in the boonies (which Haupt can accomplish because she doesn’t have to cram a tiny antenna into a tiny case). This project cannot have been easy!
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 Carla:
Carla writes: “The marshmallows are blooming at Shaker Nature Center in NE Ohio. Marshmallow root was traditionally used to give marshmallow candies their characteristic sponginess. It is used to treat many illnesses & conditions around the world. August 2022.”