2:00PM Water Cooler 12/1/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Ochre-lored Flycatcher, Riberalta–Pampa San Lorenzo North, El Beni, Bolivia. I cannot forebear from posting this Media Note: “Song from the xanthochromic member of the pair, in response to playback of Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl.” Two words of the day here. Also, how does “ochre” have “lore”?

* * *


“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

“So many of the social reactions that strike us as psychological are in fact a rational management of symbolic capital.” –Pierre Bourdieu, Classification Struggles

Biden Administration

On the railroad strike legislation and “enrollment correction” (more on rail below under “Class Warfare”):

Quite a lot of commentary, most focusing on the separation of the Temporary Agreement (TA) bill from the sick leave bill:

Republican Funhouse

“Congress Should Act to Prevent a Rail Strike” [National Review]. “Three years is enough, and all other options have been exhausted. It’s time for Congress to fulfill its duties under the RLA and prevent a work stoppage by adopting the Walsh–Biden deal, with no modifications or poison pills, before December 9, the first day a strike would be legal. The sides have had plenty of chances to negotiate a deal on their own, and in many respects they have, but a few holdouts have taken the economy hostage. Congress is well within its statutory and constitutional roles to act in protection of interstate commerce, and it should do so as soon as possible to reassure businesses of continuous rail service. President Biden, for once, has put the interests of the general American economy ahead of special interests who donate to Democrats. Republicans in Congress should as well and join with Democrats to make sure that nationwide rail strikes remain a thing of history.” • Good to have that whole “party of the workers” thing cleared up.

Democrats en Déshabillé

Patient readers, it seems that people are actually reading the back-dated post! But I have not updated it, and there are many updates. So I will have to do that. –lambert

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.

* * *

Apparently, “Trumpy” is a term of art now:

“The quiet maneuvering that delivered Jeffries the top House Dem spot” [Politico]. “Behind the scenes, House Democrats’ biggest power transfer in two decades was hardly a shoo-in. Democrats across the caucus said Jeffries — along with his top lieutenants, Reps. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) and Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.) — succeeded thanks to years of careful maneuvering to consolidate support from every influential bloc in the party. And the powerful but unassuming trio, which has jokingly referred to itself in private as the “kids table” for the last two years, did it without a formal whip team. With Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her top lieutenants still in place, Jeffries and his two deputies instead wooed colleagues with a heads-down mentality, raising gobs of money and listening to what fellow Democrats wanted…. As another senior Democrat put it: “The race was over before anyone else knew what was happening.'” Too bad the New York Democrats helped lose the House, but presumably Jeffries will straighthen that out. More: “Democrats were in high spirits Wednesday as they huddled for a closed-door meeting to elect the new triumvirate, with screams and hugs as senior members touted the importance of a new generation of leaders.” • Screams and hugs….

“Jim Clyburn was elected to a new leadership position after David Cicilline pulled his short-lived bid to challenge the Democratic leader.” [Politico]. “Clyburn, who’d previously been the third-ranking House Democrat, opted to exit the upper three positions of leadership to make way for a generational change as Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) announced they would step down. Though he had previously hinted for months at moving aside from leadership completely to fill an emeritus role in the party, his decision to instead seek a position in the upper tier of leadership forced Democrats to reshuffle their positions to make room.” • Clyburn will become Assistant Leader (apparently the number 4 spot). Jeffries, Clyburn… Wouldn’t it be nice if the Black Misleadership Class wasn’t irredeemably corrupt?


Lambert here: I can’t call a winter surge, but I’m certainly not uncalling it either, after what we see post-Thanksgiving. High transmission (CDC), the elevation and continued increase in positivity (Walgreens), and the steady takeover of BQ.1* (CDC; Walgreens), along with increased hospitalization in BQ.1* hotbed New York, are all more than a little unsettling (as is the apparent proliferation of variants). Stay safe out there! (As one might expect at the beginning of a holiday surge, wastewater in Queens County, NY (JFK/LGA), Cook County, IL (ORD), and Los Angeles County (LAX) continue to be elevated. If you are planning to travel on Xmas, do consider your plans carefully.)

• ”How to Hide a Plague: How Elite Capture and Individualism Made Covid Normal” (video) [Justin Feldman, YouTube]. Grab a cup of coffee and listen, it’s great (and some members of the commentariat attended Feldman’s lecture personally; please chime in).

This is the best current history of the Covid pandemic I have heard. It gives historical background, and an excellent timeline from pandemic start to the present day. I recommend this highly. (It all makes sense; not in a good way, but at least…. sense. (As opposed to Wither and Frost — names chosen with care — wandering about at the end of That Hideous Strength, an alternative picture of pandemic management.)

* * *

• “The Skagit County Choir Covid-19 Outbreak – Have we got it Wrong?” [Public Health]. “Over time, papers or reports may come to be taken for granted as evidence for some phenomenon. Researchers cite them without critically re-examining findings in the light of subsequent work. This can give rise to misleading or erroneous results and conclusions. We explore whether this has occurred in the widely reported outbreak SARS-CoV-2 at a rehearsal of the Skagit Valley Chorale in March 2020, where it was assumed, and subsequently asserted uncritically, that the outbreak was due to a single infected person…. We show it is vanishingly unlikely that this was a single point source outbreak as has been widely claimed and on which modelling has been based.” • Commentary:

More commentary:

Not impressed with Greenhalgh’s argument from authority, except insofar as it points out the stakes (for a group of exceptional PMCs). Something to watch. I would expect Science to grind this one down. Unless it’s politicized, of course. And a historical note:

Citizen science!

* * *

• How will hospital Infection Control fill those empty slots…..

* * *

• Ka-ching:

Far be it for mother and lawyer Powell to look into Runyon Saltzman, a Democratadjacent Sacramento-based PR firm. Looks like routine corruption, to me. Frankly, I wouldn’t mind a “Covid-Industrial” complex that much, unless it produced material like this:

I like the vaguely Constructivist look, but California Public Health really shouldn’t be stating that vaccines prevent transmission, because they don’t.

* * *

• Maskstravaganza:

I’ve been clamoring for mask stickers!

* * *


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

Lambert here: The powers-that-be don’t even see transmission as a problem, obviously. But you might!


From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, published November 30:

4.3%. Yesterday was 3.8% (3.2%). We now have not only an increase, but an increase in the rate of increase. If we look at the entire chart, we do see surges that accelerated faster. But not when the pandemic is supposed to be “over.” Could be a Thanksgiving travel artifact, of course, in which case it should slow in the next week. But if not….


Wastewater data (CDC), November 27:

JFK/LGA, Queens County is red; ORD, Cook County is orange; LAX, Los Angeles County is orange. Stay safe when travelling.

November 26:

And MWRA data, November 28:

Lambert here: Nothing special, but note the date. Here we go. Note that this data is a 7-day average. Let’s see what happens after the coming weekend when all the college kids go clubbing.


Lambert here: It’s beyond frustrating how slow the variant data is. 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? [grinds teeth, bangs head on desk]. UPDATE Yes. See NC here on Pango. Every Friday, a stately, academic pace utterly incompatible with protecting yourself against a variant exhibiting doubling behavior.

Variant data, national (Walgreens), November 13:

Lambert here: BQ.1* moving along quite briskly, though lower than CDC. XBB coming up on the charts.

Variant data, national (CDC), November 5 (Nowcast off):

BQ.1* moving along quite briskly. Note the appearance of XBB, and see the highlighted note: Like BQ.1*, XBB appears suddenly when CDC decides to disaggregate the data. Exactly as with CDC’s infamous “green map,” a lag is introduced, this time by CDC’s decision-making process; Walgreens had XBB last week, but CDC has it only this week. I don’t see what purpose the aggregation serves. If the issue is a jillion low-circulation variants would make the table impossibly long and confusing for users, that’s a UI/UX issue; handle it with software. Have a slider/filter that aggregates variants under 1%, say. Allow scrolling the results. Whatever. But stop concealing data!

New York/New Jersey (Region 2) numbers are higher:

• As a check, since New York is a BQ.1* hotbed, New York hospitalization, updated November 30:

Lambert here: Starting to look like a real surge. Unlike positivity, these rates are not smoothed, so we really can’t be sure if there’s a train rolling or not. Nevertheless, we now have not only an increase, but an increase in the rate of increase.


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,105,546 – 1,105,049 = 497 (497 * 365 = 181,405 deaths per year, today’s YouGenicist™ number for “living with” Covid (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, though they can talk themselves into anything. If the YouGenicist™ metric keeps chugging along like this, I may just have to decide this is what the powers-that-be consider “mission accomplished” for this particular tranche of death and disease).

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 decreased by 16,000 to 225,000 on the week ending November 26th, compared to market expectations of 235,000.”

Personal Income: “United States Personal Income” [Trading Economics]. “Personal income in the United States increased 0.7% from a month earlier in October of 2022, up from a 0.4% rise in September and above market expectations of a 0.4% gain. It was the strongest reading since October of 2021, primarily reflecting increases in compensation and government social benefits. The increase in compensation was led by private wages and salaries.”

Manufacturing: “United States ISM Purchasing Managers Index (PMI)” [Trading Economics]. “The ISM Manufacturing PMI declined to 49 in November of 2022 from 50.2 in October and more than market forecasts of 49.8 pointing to the first contraction in factory activity since May 2020.”

Manufacturing: “United States Manufacturing PMI” [Trading Economics]. “The S&P Global US Manufacturing PMI was revised slightly higher to 47.7 in November of 2022 from a preliminary of 47.6, but continued to point to the first contraction in factory activity since June of 2020. The fall was driven by declines in output and new orders. Demand conditions weakened in domestic and external markets, as new export orders fell further. Employment growth slowed as pressure on capacity dwindled and backlogs of work contracted strongly. On a more positive note, supply chains improved for the first time since October 2019.”

* * *

The Bezzle: “What Does Sam Bankman-Fried Have to Say for Himself?” [New York Magazine]. “I feel real fucking bad about what happened. It hurt a lot of customers, and it hurt a lot of employees, and my friends — and I want to do anything that I can to try to make that up as best that I can. But it’s — it’s bad. I fucked up. I did. In multiple ways, frankly.” Gawd, it’s like Beckett. Yves posted at length on SBF this morning, but I just wanted to add that l did listen to the DealBook video where Ross-Sorkin (dear gawd, the West Wing) interviewed SBF. You should too, for as long as you can stand, maybe ten minutes. SBF’s voice is really, really weird, and it’s not just because he uses a lot of finance jargon, which I can cope with. To quote Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash: “Da5id’s voice is deep and placid, with no trace of stress. The syllables roll off his tongue like drool. As Hiro walks down the hallway he can hear Da5id talking all the way. ‘i ge en i ge en nu ge en nu ge en us sa tu ra lu ra ze em men….” SBF’s voice isn’t deep, but “the syllables roll off his tongue like drool”? Absolutely.

The Bezzle: “Crypto Trader Auros Global Misses Payment on DeFi Loan as FTX Contagion Spreads” [CoinDesk]. “Auros joins other digital-asset firms, including BlockFi and Genesis Global Capital, that face financial difficulties as contagion spreads across the crypto industry. This phase of the now yearlong market rout started as crypto exchange FTX and its corporate sibling Alameda Research became insolvent and filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this month. Genesis is a unit of Digital Currency Group, which also owns CoinDesk.”

Concentration: “How monopoly enshittified Amazon” [Cory Doctorow]. “one of the unfavorable terms Amazon forces on sellers is “most favored nation” status (MFN), which means that Amazon sellers have to offer their lowest price on Amazon — they can’t sell more cheaply anywhere else. Then Amazon hits sellers with fees. Lots of fees: Fees to be listed on Prime (without which, your search result is buried at the bottom of an endless scroll): Fees for Amazon warehouse fulfillment (without which, your search result is buried at the bottom of an endless scroll) And finally, there’s payola — the “ads” you have to buy to outcompete the other people who are buying ads to outcompete you. All told, these fees add up to 45% of the price you pay Amazon — sometimes more. Companies just don’t have 45% margins, because they exist in competitive markets. If I’m selling a bottle of detergent at a 45% markup, my rival will sell it at 40%, and then I have to drop to 35%, and so on. But everyone has to sell on Amazon, and Amazon takes their 45% cut, which means that all these sellers have to raise prices. And, thanks to MFN, the sellers then have to charge the same price at Walmart, Target, and your local mom-and-pop shop.” • “Cory, Lambert. Love your work. Could we say “crapified”?” It’s more euphonious….

Mr. Market: In a crisis, everything correlates:

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 70 Greed (previous close: 70 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 62 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Dec 1 at 12:25 PM EST.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Maybe this will finally take Walensky down:

First, “sacrifice”? As in voluntary, knowing participation. Second, “men”? Yes, what the Tuskegee doctors did to the men was horrible, but what about the children born with congenital syphilis? And the partners of the men? Holy moley, if Walensky doesn’t dogpiled on this one, I’m gonna have to give consideration to the idea that this “social justice” thing isn’t entirely on the up-and-up….

Class Warfare

Railroad workers:

“Why America’s Railroads Refuse to Give Their Workers Paid Leave” [Eric Levitz, New York Magazine]. “The freight carriers can afford to make concessions on pay. It isn’t that painful to increase wages by a sizable amount when you’ve recently slashed your head count by 30 percent (and hope to continue innovating your way to a smaller payroll in the years to come). But providing rail workers with ordinary time-off benefits would threaten the industry’s core business strategy, [Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR)], an operating procedure that has helped to nearly double its profits over the past decade. That strategy is predicated on treating rail workers as if they were nearly indistinguishable from the railcars they drive. The typical railcar requires maintenance at predictable intervals and does not require an unanticipated day off to see a doctor about an unexplained pain or to visit a loved one in the hospital. But workers often do.” • Shorter: “We’re capital and your not.” (On PSR, see NC here.)

About the coverage:

“Alliance Resource Partners (ARLP) Q3 2022 Earnings Call Transcript” [The Motley Fool]. “I think on the rail strike, there’s continuing negotiations. There’s several of the various unions, there’s like a dozen different unions that are impacted by those negotiations in the rail sector. I think there’s several of them that have already voted down the most recent proposal. We know the railroads and U.S. government is involved along with labor unions. It’s a possibility. We’re still believing that the federal government will be involved enough to prevent a major disruption to our economy that a rail strike would occur. So we’re placing a low probability on it.” • It’s a done deal!

“Most Americans support Congress’ intervention in the possible rail strike” [YouGov]. • Maybe they don’t have a clear picture of what Congress has in store. That said:

* * *

“Alabama’s Striking Coal Miners Are Upping the Ante” [Kim Kelly, The Real News]. “Once the marchers reached their destination, they gathered to listen to President Roberts speak about the ongoing struggle. Creating a painfully on-the-nose visual metaphor, Brookwood police cars formed a ring around the group, silently protecting the forces of capital from the laborers who created it. Across the road, a belt cleaner sat atop a massive mound of sparkling black coal, its obsidian angles glinting in the fading sunlight as the striking miners hollered at the scab vehicles driving past them. Emotions began to run high. Even as union officials emphasized the importance of nonviolence, some workers in the crowd yelled out that it wasn’t enough—that they needed to take the fight directly to the scabs’ doorsteps. ‘Years ago, that’s what they would do,’ Miss Pearlie, a retired coal miner and one of the Auxiliary members who’d volunteered to be arrested, piped up. ‘They would go to their houses, and they would do something.'” • Hmm.

News of the Wired

For electrical transmission tower mavens:

And hanging plants mavens:

* * *

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 lyman alpha blob:

lyman alpha blob writes: “Here’s a fungus from Dover-Foxcroft, ME. Not sure what kind.”

* * *

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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. Roger Blakely

    The weekly press conference for Los Angeles County Public Health starts at 1:45 p.m. PST on YouTube. We didn’t get one last week due to Thanksgiving. Dr. Barbara Ferrer’s comments ought to be interesting. Over the past week we went from 800 hospitalizations to 1100 hospitalizations. Hospitalizations is what moves the needle for the CDC’s community ratings. I will also be interested in the wastewater numbers. Last month we were at 25% of upper baseline. Two weeks ago we were at 30% of upper baseline. I would guess that we are at 40% of upper baseline. They hit the panic button at 60% of upper baseline.

    1. Roger Blakely

      Dr. Ferrer said that this week LA County went from CDC’s low COVID-19 community level to medium COVID-19 community level. She went on to say that LA County will go into high COVID-19 community level next week. It looks like the order for universal indoor masking will be issued next week.

      “COVID-19 is still with us,” she said. “We are facing a lack of certainty for the winter,” she said.

      COVID-19 infections doubled during the month of November.

      The official infection rate is 185 per 100,000 residents. We will go into the CDC’s high COVID-19 community level when the official infection rate exceeds 200 per 100,000 residents, which will probably happen by next week since the infection rate is increasing by 4% per day.

      The wastewater SARS-CoV-2 measure went from 30% of the July 2022 upper baseline two weeks ago to 59% of the upper baseline this week. LA County Public Health considers anything over 60% to be of high concern.

      Today’s briefing sets the stage for big decisions to be taken next week.

      1. Thistlebreath

        As of 5 pm, KNX carried remarks from a Cedars Sinai Doc about levels: “this holiday season, be extra special careful, take care of yourself and be safe. Social gatherings are so very very important to our well being that we’re not going to go back to prohibiting anything. But do be sure to exercise caution whenever you can.” This from someone who graduated somewhere and became an MD. Oy.

        1. Roger Blakely

          Dr. Ferrer had wastewater numbers for RSV and influenza in addition to those for SARS-CoV-2. There is a lot of virus out there. No, social gatherings are that important to me.

          On Saturday I walked into a social gathering for three minutes to drop something off. I was wearing a respirator. I picked up some BQ.1 in my eyes. That’s all it took.

  2. Jason Boxman

    The freight carriers can afford to make concessions on pay. It isn’t that painful to increase wages by a sizable amount when you’ve recently slashed your head count by 30 percent (and hope to continue innovating your way to a smaller payroll in the years to come). But providing rail workers with ordinary time-off benefits would threaten the industry’s core business strategy, [Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR)], an operating procedure that has helped to nearly double its profits over the past decade.

    Yep, I’ve been saying that for weeks, although probably not in comments. Because it actually screws with their looting strategy, it ain’t gonna happen. And liberal Democrats are all too happy to twist the knife, as usual.

      1. Jason Boxman

        I just saw that news as well. What a joke. It’s beyond disgusting. Nationalization should have been Sanders’ opening position, as well. What a complete joke.

      2. JBird4049

        I have long been a supporter of paid sick leave for workers in all industries – not just the rail industry – and my fight for that critical benefit continues,” Biden said in a statement.

        What’s that remark I’ve heard before about “lying liars who lie?”

        It is just an amazing thing to see President Biden and Congress (as well as the RR owners) collectively shoot their toes off.

      1. thousand points of green

        “Lore” can have two different meanings when used regarding birds. If it is a bird’s “lore”, it is about this particular part of a bird’s anatomy. If it is about things and stuff about birds, then it means something close to the “lore” in “folklore”.

        There is a magazine about things and stuff about birds and it calls itself Bird Lore. Here is a bunch of images of issues of Bird Lore magazine, using ” lore ” in this broader more general sense.

  3. mrsyk

    Thanks for posting “How to Hide a Plague”. My partner and I are going to watch it after dinner tonight.

  4. ChrisPacific

    That actually looks to be a photo of a mollusc – specifically, the elusive land scallop. When threatened it can jet away using its siphon and attach to another log. Hand harvested land scallops, known as ‘hiker scallops,’ are considered a delicacy in many countries.

    1. hunkerdown

      I think you got it. But danged if it didn’t look just like a bicycle seat ear, Auricularia jangoedwardsii.

    2. AndrewJ

      Looks like a ganoderma to me! Sometimes known as varnished conk, members of the genus are used in traditional Chinese medicine.

  5. Val

    #PublicHealth leaders

    “as we honor…” a whole bunch of dead people we didn’t treat

    and in so honoring, we avoid any critical self reflection, which is our main job

    as we ritually insist upon

    “our commitment to ethical research and practice”

    family blogging family blog!

    1. The Rev Kev

      The worse thing about it is that it normalizes doing the same sort of experimentation again. As they were black people and their families being experimented on, you think that Jim Clyburn will speak up on their behalf? /sarc.

  6. cfraenkel

    That Skagit choir thread is eye-opening (in a bad way). That creditable scientists can be so wedded to their distributions and fancy statistics to claim with a straight face that ‘those facts can’t be real’ – smh. Who are you going to believe, your fancy curves or your lying eyes? I can’t decide which is worse – relying on convenient curve fitting, or jumping to assuming that 1000x less likely community transmission was the cause.

    Also a good reminder how sketchy the thinking supporting the approved narrative can be.

    1. ChrisPacific

      Yeah, I went and read the actual paper in the hope that there might be some actual scientific reasoning there. Nope. Hypothesis rejected because the data didn’t fit the curve even though the curve wasn’t chosen on any scientific basis, but empirically because it kinda-sorta fit the data a little better than anything else. No attempt to provide an alternate explanation for why the case count was so vastly higher than the background rate for just that one particular gathering. To claim adamantly that there was no evidence of higher than background transmission rate at the event, in the face of the numbers in question, just beggars belief.

  7. thousand points of green

    @Lambert Strether,

    “Lore” is one of those words with different meanings in different contexts. A narrow technical meaning of lore is part of a bird’s head just in back of the rear-most edge of its “lips” ( mouth opening corner). Here is a link to a picture of a sparrow’s head called “Topography of a Sparrow Head” with little black arrows pointing to different parts of the head. And each arrow has a name. And one of the arrows is named “lore”. When the picture comes up, it is possible to embiggen it in order to see the words and arrows better. ( The sparrow being used is a lark sparrow).


    1. thousand points of green

      I tried finding images of the ochre lored flycatcher to see if I could find the ochre lore. I couldn’t find any such images. But here is a picture of an ochre lored flatbill, just barely showing the tiny chestnut-colored lore region between the corner of the mouth and the eye. Another illustration of the narrow technical meaning of the word “lore” in this special topography-of-a-bird’s-head context.


    2. thousand points of green

      ( Oh . . . and I see that skeptic got there ahead of me anyway. Still, I hope my pictures are nice.)

  8. kareninca

    The Santa Clara county sewage spike that just came out for Palo Alto, CA is nearly the steepest spike I have seen in the course of the pandemic: https://covid19.sccgov.org/dashboard-wastewater (you have to click through other areas to get to Palo Alto). We are now at 86 percent of the concentration that we reached during the Omicron surge! Other areas nearby are up as well so it does not look to be a data problem.

    More people are wearing masks, but plenty aren’t.

    I don’t hear coughing. I get the impression that the current variant (whatever it is here) prefers some other body part. Maybe the brain.

    Actually I take that back about no coughing. The kid in the unit upstairs is going crazy for Christmas ornaments. So I went to Goodwill for the first time in forever (in my N95) to get a big, garish Christmas wreath. I decided to risk condo management ire and put one up. Goodwill’s inventory was the barest I’ve ever seen. I’ve read that they are now putting their good stuff online. But they had almost no wreaths (which would be too bulky to sell online and not costly enough), which was really strange; ordinarily they have many at this time of year. I chose among the three shabby options, and went to the checkout. But I got to within ten feet of it, and heard the cashier coughing and then saying to the customer before me that she had to get home to take her medicine. I put the wreath back and left. I will add ornaments to a autumnal wreath I already have, instead.

    I still test weekly and I still don’t seem to have caught covid (I’m not vaccinated). I don’t see how I can keep this up, however. I know more people with covid now than at any other time in the pandemic. I’m not actually around them but even I can’t bear to wear a mask outdoors far from other people. Maybe the xlear and prophylactic claritin (not medical advice) will continue to help.

    1. Louos Fyne

      got covid Wed. before Thanksgiving via one of the kids, per the Binax/Abbott home test. good thing that I still had a stash of tests leftover.

      Spent all of Thursday sleeping it off, that AM hit 7 out of 10 on the misery scale. No fever, no coughs or hacking, no sore throat. just lota of soreness, headache, and fatigue.

      treated with regular severe cold pills (acetometphine, guaisfen, phenylephedrine)

      Fine, but homebound that weekend. vaccinated. 2nd bout of covid in 8 months after 2 years of avoiding it.


    2. Tom Doak

      More anecdata: we had a family reunion over Thanksgiving with 15 in the house. I was somewhat concerned that our kids and grandkids might be bringing COVID home for the holiday, as they did summer 2021. But, it turned out we were fine . . . because unbeknownst to me, four of our five kids and presumably all of their kids had had COVID within the last month. [smh]

      P.S. I doubt that any of the eleven of them were included in the “official” statistics.

  9. katiebird

    More on my dental adventures: A While back I asked about finding a dentist and the good news is that I did find one that has pretty good COVID practices. They mask with N95s and had a HEPA filter machine running just a few feet from me. He also had me gargle with a peroxide mouthwash. Sadly, I have way more than a broken filling. THAT tooth needs a root canal (which can’t be done til mid Jan by this dentist – and I feel weird about having a regular dentist doing a root canal) … And I need to have a tooth extracted by an oral surgeon whose office seems very laid back re COVID. And that won’t be done till Feb 1st.

    So I’m thinking about getting my own portable HEPA thing. To take with me. Assuming I’m going anywhere in February. Which with COVID…. who knows?

    1. petal

      My mother has been announcing ski races for many years and it’s in a little room so I got her a little portable HEPA air purifier for pre-Christmas specifically for the timing room. I told her to keep it in her truck and take it wherever she goes.

      Best of luck with your dental problem!

      1. katiebird

        Thanks, petal!! — what brand/model did you buy? I have several appts coming up so I’m thinking I really need it.

          1. katiebird

            Thank you, petal, I just ordered it. Maybe should regret the Amazon purchase but I hardly get anything from them, and I really need this. I really appreciate this!

            1. petal

              I hope it works for you! My mother’s first race is Christmas Eve, so we’ll see how it works. Take care!

  10. carolinus

    i believe the plantidote is Reishi, commonly grows on conifers like hemlocks down here in North Carolina

  11. hop2it

    I attended Justin Feldman’s lecture. It was reassuring in the sense that I’m not a idiot for thinking like I do and wearing a mask in all indoor settings, and paying attention to ventilation etc, unsettling because the basic sense of trust in public health authority has eroded. Who on earth can you trust, given that breathing is a social relation as you always say. God help us! Good to know I’m not alone, you know what I figured out since days and weeks after that talk & everything I read here on NC, Life does not have to come to a stand still, sure things will not be the same as pre-covid. We must learn to adapt and move on
    -like wearing a mask in all indoor setting with other’s when sharing air, especially people not in our own family.
    -Build Corsi-Rosenthal boxes for self use or if one can afford get HEPA air purifiers. Start a campaign and donate those, it’s cumbersome currently to find localities who have the same mindset. Imagine what can be done if people come together.
    -Keep a window open as long as your geography and weather permits. Be it class rooms or our own homes.
    BTW I was told that opening windows at school is not officially permitted here in the Carolinas. I have been homeschooling my kids since 2021, while this is excellent as I can spend the time and effort it is extremely isolating for the children. Unless one is involved in a co-op.
    -Get outside, be active, barring any health issues- fresh air and sunlight does wonders for your physical & mental health.
    -Take care of your self and people you care about, eat healthy.
    -Always keep the three C’s in mind as per Japanese CDC.
    -Use a throat and nasal spray as extra layered protection during air travel etc. Our entire extended family lives in India.
    I live by the adage that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. Be the change you wish to see in the world.

  12. IM

    Fungidote looks like a Reishi mushroom. Polypore type that grows all over the place, not just in Asia. It contains a molecule identical to pravastatin!

  13. marku52

    Brilliant thread re “PGE burning down Paradise CA with the broken 3 phase interconnector”

    Those are necessary because the capacitance (coupling_between the outer lines and the inner lines) is different than the inner to the 2 outers. The outers have more capacitance to ground and this makes their impedance deviate from optimal. Switching them around equalizes that effect.

    When I was in EE school, they were trying to get students into the power sector, but this was just as the computer biz was just getting going, most weren’t interested. Me neither, but in retrospect it would have actually been pretty interesting. And probably a lot more stable than the part of EE I ended up in.

    Another fun EE fact. In the south, where the humidity is high, you can often hear arcing as the hi voltage leaks across the damp dust on the insulators. Periodically, the power company has to wash the dust off the insulators, they use a fire hose truck to blast the water off. But wait, isn’t water conductive? Well, yes, normal water is, because it is ionized with various salts. The power co uses de-ionized water, which is safe for this use. Amazing!

    1. Glen

      By the way, the same MBAs that did this type of cost cutting at PG&E are probably doing the cost cutting at America’s railroads too. It’s not like America hasn’t known how to run an electrical grid or it’s railroads. It’s just that this is what companies do to maximize profit.

      I’m fully convinced the best way to bring Russia to it’s knees is to get these same MBAs into high management positions in their core industries. They’ve done a fine job of wrecking America’s industrial base.

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      they put one of those high voltage lines across the street from the house i grew up in.
      interesting to watch the construction…although i missed the woods they cleared down to dirt.
      after it was up and running, on foggy days, you could feel the electricity on yer skin, hair standing up…and once, on one of the foggiest mornings i recall then or since, mom took us out under the tower and waved a fluorescent light bulb around…and it flickered.
      not much, but enough that we could see it.
      lack of the possibility of such things…highlines, railroads, logging, oil and gas, etc etc…was one of the main criteria for moving way out here.

  14. Polar Donkey

    I know several people currently with covid who had covid earlier this year. They had BA and now they have BQ. Fortunately, BQ seems fairly mild, but who knows the long term issues of multiple infections. On a related note, a buddy sent me a paper about a clinical trial of people taking pepto-bismal for covid (that sounded nuts to me too), but the paper of study came from clinicaltrials.gov website. Anyone have an opinion about this?

    1. C.O.

      I have heard about something like this in an FLCCC discussion, that famotidine aka brandname heartburn remedy Pepcid seems to have a positive effect in treating covid. The doctors talking about it were very cautious though, it sounded like they agreed there was a reasonable interaction that could have a positive effect, but they were not sure if that interaction would actually have a strong enough effect to be taken up as a treatment more widely. I made note of the medication they were discussing because the idea sounded so strange to me and I wanted to look up what it was. However, to the best of my knowledge via wikipedia and reading ingredient packages at the drugstore, famotidine and Pepto-bismal are completely different substances.

  15. Matthew G. Saroff

    Given that railroad workers will be overworked and tired, they need to double check, and triple check, every piece of equipment that they use, and every task that they perform,

    Safety is paramount.

  16. Jason Boxman

    I never looked, hilariously, but NC (North Carolina) actually has a decent COVID stats dashboard available for the state, including variant breakdown, wastewater, and so forth. LOL they do have the BS CDC “community levels” lie, but at the very bottom of the page thankfully. Wastewater seems to be locally sampled by the state:

    “NCDHHS is testing samples of wastewater from select treatments plants across the state to look for COVID-19. This metric helps us understand spread of COVID-19 at the community level.”

    So not biobot maybe. Hospitalization is not up yet here. Wastewater here is up *significantly* over last week.

    Stay safe out there!

  17. LawnDart

    Re; Variants: add to the choir…

    A deep dive into the omicron variant’s origin

    “The fact that omicron caught us by surprise is instead due to the diagnostic blind spot that exists in large parts of Africa, where presumably only a small fraction of SARS-CoV-2 infections are even recorded. Omicron’s gradual evolution was therefore simply overlooked… …Only good data can prevent policymakers from implementing potentially effective containment measures, such as travel restrictions, at the wrong time, which can end up causing more economic and social harm than good.”


    Africa, USAmerica… …same-same, whatever.

    1. LawnDart

      Above my pay-scale, but…

      Mucosal-associated invariant T cells restrict reactive oxidative damage and preserve meningeal barrier integrity and cognitive function

      Increasing evidence indicates close interaction between immune cells and the brain, revising the traditional view of the immune privilege of the brain. However, the specific mechanisms by which immune cells promote normal neural function are not entirely understood… Could the underproduction of poorly understood immune cells contribute to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of cognitive decline?


  18. Wukchumni

    Oh Larry Yun
    What will you tell us this time
    You’re only dancing on this earth for a short while
    And though American Dreams may toss and turn you now
    They will vanish away like a 30 year fixed
    Mortgage fading up to the sky
    And though you want the bubble to last forever
    You know it never will, you know it never will

    And the interest rate hike make the good buys harder still

    Oh Larry Yun
    What will you have us believe this time

    There’ll never be a better chance to change your mind
    And if you want this world to see a better day

    Will you carry the words of low interest loan with you
    Will you ride great housing bubble into mandate of heaven
    And though you want it to last forever
    You know it never will

    And lack of affordability makes the journey harder still

    Oh Larry Yun
    What will you tell us this time
    You’re only dancing on this earth for a short while
    Oh Larry Yun
    What will you have us believe this time

    Oh Very Young, by Cat Stevens


  19. The Rev Kev

    That tweet where Linsey Marr said ‘In the past year, we’ve come farther in understanding airborne transmission…than we have in decades. Frankly, I thought it would take us another 30 years to get to where we are now.’

    Does that mean that she is waiting for the current generation of scientists who deny air-borne transmission to die out first and make way for more honest scientists? With the way that this virus is still spreading, maybe Marr won’t have to wait 30 years for that to happen.

  20. IM Doc

    On the tweet in the links about Infectious Disease fellowships filling only 42% of their slots……

    Yes, this is very true. There are a few other medical specialties and indeed General Internal Medicine itself that are in severe danger right now of not being able to even begin to fill the need in our society. They have not been for years and now the situation is becoming critical as the entire Baby Boom generation retires.

    I would very much like everyone reading this comment and that tweet to recall just a few months ago Dr. Fauci in a fawning interview…..The questioner just told him that all kinds of young people were signing up for public health and medical careers especially those having to do with COVID. And then he went off on one of the most self important statements I have ever heard in my life. The Cliffs Note version – This was all his doing. People were trying to emulate him and his career, etc. That will be his legacy, etc etc etc.

    Everyone paying attention in medicine knew the minute he stated that what a crock it was. Infectious Disease in particular has been suffering for a long time. COVID and the influence of Dr. Fauci have done nothing but to make the problem much much worse.

    There are few specialties in medicine that are required to see more patients than ID. They see almost every ICU patient daily, and I would dare say 33-50% of everyone else in the hospital. On top of that, busy outpatient practices full of chronic issues like AIDS and diabetic foot ulcers. It is very non-glamourous and relatively low-paying and very time consuming and stressful. COVID has magnified this many times over.

    Again, do you think the reporter would have done his homework and been prepared with appropriate questions about how precarious is the whole situation with ID and indeed many other specialties when talking to Fauci? Why of course not – much more important to set up on national TV a self-hagiography.

    I am literally getting sick and tired of the whole thing.

    1. Randall Flagg

      Reporters? Who are they that you speak of?

      Seems these days all that “reporters” are doing is regurgitating the talking points memos. Nothing but agenda driven stenographers for the most part.
      Sarcasm off

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