2:00PM Water Cooler 1/13/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, happy Friday the Thirteenth!

Bird Song of the Day

Snowy-throated Kingbird, Santuario Historico Bosque de Pómac–Ruta de la Cortarrama, Lambayeque, Peru. And I hope the Peruvian general strike is going well.

* * *

Politics

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

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

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

Capitol Seizure

“The Failures of the January 6 Report” [Jeet Heer, The Nation]. “But the report issued by the committee also has a broader purpose: to establish a convincing account of the coup attempt that can shape public memory. Harvard historian Jill Lepore, writing in The New Yorker, offered a scathing critique of the report, convincingly portraying it as a narrowly focused indictment of Donald Trump that ignores broader political forces that created the coup. In 2016, Donald Trump ran on the boast ‘I alone can fix it.’ The January 6 report merely flips the script by saying Trump alone can break it…. A truer account of the origins of January 6 that tried to move beyond Trump could find genuine bipartisan responsibility if it focused on shared policy failures. The Clintonian embrace of neoliberalism in the 1990s wreaked economic havoc on the working class that made Trump’s demagoguery more persuasive. Bipartisan support for the Global War on Terror after 9/11 helped legitimize the xenophobia that Trump would come to exploit and created a nation fearful of the world. The failure of the Obama administration to push for a strong stimulus in 2009 and 2010 ensured a lost economic decade, again driving desperation. Lepore doesn’t address any of these salient issues of policy. Her focus is on blaming partisan rhetoric and social media.”

Biden Administration

“GOP races to suggest Trump equivalency in Biden-linked classified docs” [Politico]. • Whenever you see the word “races” in a headline, think “not organic.” The cause of the race is always orthogonal to the story, and almost always not presented within it.

2024

“McCarthy says he will look at expunging Trump impeachment” [The Hill]. “In the last Congress, a group of more than 30 House Republicans led by Rep. Markwayne Mullin put forward a resolution to expunge Trump’s impeachment in the wake of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. The resolution was supported by the fourth-ranking Republican in the House, Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik (N.Y.). A smaller group, again led by Mullin, also introduced a resolution to expunge Trump’s December 2019 impeachment for allegedly attempting to withhold military aid from Ukraine in an effort to pressure the country to investigate the business dealings of President Biden’s son Hunter Biden.” • Hmm.

Republican Funhouse

“Rep. George Santos’ finances are raising questions. Here’s what public records show” [USA Today]. “In his first disclosure to the House, filed in May 2020, Santos reported a commission bonus worth somewhere north of $5,000 from a New York company called LinkBridge Investors. The same day, he filed an amendment to the disclosure saying he made $55,000 from LinkBridge in 2019.” • Most of this raises the more interesting question of why this oppo was never done in the first place (or if it was done, why it wasn’t conveyed to Santos’s opponent). I can’t get into a moral panic about campaign finance, my bad.

“House Republicans Can’t Even Tolerate the Word Labor” [Ed Kilgore, New York Magazine]. “But the committee’s rechristening as the House Committee on Education & the Workforce reflects a tradition of Republican labor hostility that has grown more remarkable as the GOP has come to think of itself as the party of working people with white* non-college-educated folk at the core of its electoral coalition. The GOP’s self-identification with the horny-handed sons and daughters of toil is central to its claim that the Democratic Party is now a vassal of woke coastal elitists with Ph.D.’s, whose ground troops are Big Government leeches and the immigrants who want to join them at the welfare trough… But deep-seated Republican fidelity to the interests of capital, as opposed to labor, keeps bubbling up to the surface, not least in GOP refusal to countenance the very term labor. Just as they did when they took over the House in 2010, and before that in 1995, Republicans immediately got labor out of the committee’s title.” • NOTE * Wrong. It’s well-known that Trump increased Republican vote share in what Democrats used to call “the coalition of the ascendant’ (i.e., non-whites). Now, I see the qualifier “GOP’s self-identification,” but self-identification of party apparatchiks will follow the votes.

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.

* * *

“Democrats’ identification as liberal at new high in Gallup polling” [The Hill]. “While more than 6 in 10 white Democrats identify as liberal, only 39 percent of Black Democrats and 41 percent of Hispanic Democrats also do so. Both figures for the latter two groups still represent almost 20-point increases since 1994.”

“Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez pledges to ‘put aside’ differences with Democratic leadership after Republican concessions to far right” [WSWS]. “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, confronting growing left-wing opposition to her subservience to the Democratic Party, gave an explanation which was as revealing as it was pathetic. ‘I see some people say Dems should negotiate to get concessions,’ she said in a social media post this week. ‘We do, but what we don’t do is bring them publicly in order to empower not just Republicans but the fascist flank of the Republican Party.’ This statement tracks with her record in Congress: The class struggle must be suppressed for the sake of the institutional security of the imperialist Democratic Party and the Biden administration. For this same reason Ocasio-Cortez and the DSA’s congressional representatives illegalized the rail strike and denounced left-wing criticism of Biden as ‘privileged’ and racist.” • Thomas Frank is right on this. The Democrat Party as presently constituted cannot defeat fascism.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“‘Justice Has Finally Prevailed’: Former Student Celebrates Shutdown of Fundamentalist School Where He Says He Was Abused” [The Roys Report]. • There must be a study out there that compares various Christian denominations for levels of abuse; but I’ve never seen it. However, it doesn’t seem to me that Christianists and Catholics differ much in that regard.

#COVID19

Lambert here: I am but a humble tapewatcher, but unlike Eric Topol, I’m not calling a surge, because the last peak was Biden’s Omicron debacle, and after an Everest like that, what’s left? Topol’s view is the establishment view: Hospital-centric. Mine is infection-centric. I do not see the universal acceleration or doubling in cases that I would expect to see based on past surges.

I am calling a “Something Awful.” It’s gonna be bad, in some new way, and we don’t know how, yet (but see here for immune system dysregulation, which is looking pretty awful). We are now two weeks away from holiday travel, so we should have a result. See below at case data.

Stay safe out there!

* * *

• “U.S. Public Health Professional Routinely Mislead the Public about Infectious Diseases: True or False? Dishonest or Self-Deceptive? Harmful or Benign?” [Peter Sandman]. From 2016, highly germane. I’ve run this before, but never gotten a reaction, so I’ll try once more, because it’s important. Long, and quoting one passage:

“It is important to say that the dishonesty of public health organizations and practitioners typically is not entirely conscious. They don’t twirl their moustaches and tie maidens to railroad tracks. They don’t say to themselves: ‘Now we’re going to mislead the public. We know we’re doing it. We know why. We’ve decided integrity matters less than the outcome we have in mind.’ I think that kind of self-aware dishonesty is comparatively rare.

17. On the other hand, public health dishonesty is not entirely unconscious either. Somewhere in the middle realm between deception and self-deception is a place where we don’t feel we’re being dishonest because we’re not focusing on the truth we’re hiding. If you catechized us or cross-examined us on the facts of the situation, yes, we do know that X and Y are true, and we do know that what we said gave the impression that X and Y are false … but no, we weren’t intentionally deceiving anyone.

18. Until 2011, the CDC routinely claimed that the flu vaccine was 70–90% effective. When CIDRAP was documenting that this was a wildly optimistic claim, Mike [Osterholm] and I had many debates about whether CDC, ACIP, and the rest of the flu vaccine leadership were misjudging the data or intentionally misrepresenting the data.

I think the truth was somewhere in the middle. When they put their minds to it, they sort-of knew that 70–90% was too high even for healthy young adults in a year with a good match … and way too high for people my age and older in a year when the match was suboptimal. But when they said 70–90%, full stop, they mostly imagined that they were simplifying the science, not misstating the science. I call this ‘misoversimplification.’ And they almost surely thought that claiming high vaccine efficacy was a crucial path to achieving high vaccine uptake.

Almost singlehandedly, CIDRAP forced them to change their efficacy claims. Interestingly, flu vaccine uptake did not collapse as a result.

The issues we’re seeing with scientific communication and organization behavior are not new, at CDC or elsewhere (remember that public health is primarily a local responsiblity. So where was New York when XBB.1.5 was growing like kudzu all over everything?). Bourdieu, of course, would look at “professionals” and see professionals grasping their accumulated symbolic capital like grim death, their basic view being that the public is not educable. (This is, of course, false, as citizen science in Long Covid and citizen engineering in Corsi-Rosenthal box manufacture shows.)

• It’s interesting to think that one of CDC’s social functions is to determine the boundaries of acceptable pro-social behavior:

Of course, when you’re dealing with people who have talked themselves into believing that a policy of mass infection is pro-social, that could be a problem.

* * *

• The role of delusion (“organic” or engineered) in public affairs is often over-estimated:

Tuchman might call “delusion” folly, but I think her March of Folly is primarily an account of how the great and the good think, if think is the word I want.

* * *

• WaPo Reporter Adds Value:

I don’t wish to seem churlish, but three years in?! (I suppose the interval between the invention of the Corsi-Rosenthal box in August 2020 and WaPo taking notice in January 2023 — that’s [breaking out my calculator] 29 months — is a good metric for the length of time an idea takes to penetrate the PMC hive mind; although acceptance takes longer. That’s almost six Friedman units!

* * *

Case Data

The latest BioBot data:

Lambert here: If we take wastewater data as the best proxy for case data (ignoring the clinical data portion of this chart, which in my view “goes bad” after March 2022), then we’re on the downside of a less-than-Biden surge, much like 2021, which also unexpectedly dropped after holiday travel in January. It looks like such data as we have — positivity, New York hospitalization, and MWRA wastewater — confirms this. (I watch New York and Boston so closely because they are both the source of major previous outbreaks and both have international airports, and Boston has lots of students.) It’s good that we didn’t have a major outbreak, but a return to our previous plateau of mass infection is not good. (This national scenario does not rule out regional surges at all.) Of course, the future lies ahead. Let’s wait and see.

Lambert here: The situation with what seems to have been our latest narrow escape reminds me of this passage from H.P. Lovecraft’s The Shadow over Innsmouth (similar in theme to Ionesco’s Rhinoceros come to think of it). The protagonist is in his hotel room at night:

After a time I seemed to hear the stairs and corridors creak at intervals as if with footsteps, and wondered if the other rooms were beginning to fill up. There were no voices, however, and it struck me that there was something subtly furtive about the creaking. I did not like it, and debated whether I had better try to sleep at all.

Then, after a long, dreary interval, and prefaced by a fresh creaking of stairs and corridor, there came that soft, damnably unmistakable sound which seemed like a malign fulfilment of all my apprehensions. Without the least shadow of a doubt, the lock on my hall door was being tried—cautiously, furtively, tentatively—with a key….

After a time the cautious rattling ceased, and I heard the room to the north entered with a pass-key. Then the lock of the connecting door to my room was softly tried. The bolt held, of course, and I heard the floor creak as the prowler left the room. After a moment there came another soft rattling, and I knew that the room to the south of me was being entered. Again a furtive trying of a bolted connecting door, and again a receding creaking. This time the creaking went along the hall and down the stairs, so I knew that the prowler had realised the bolted condition of my doors and was giving up his attempt for a greater or lesser time, as the future would shew.

I heard a muffled creaking on the floor below, and thought I could barely distinguish voices in conversation. A moment later I felt less sure that the deeper sounds were voices, since the apparent hoarse barkings and loose-syllabled croakings bore so little resemblance to recognised human speech

We are the protagonist; the noises are the fragmentary data; the monster making the noises by rattling the doors and croaking hoarsely is Covid; and the darkness is the collapse of our public health system. It has been, and continues to be, a very nervous time (or, to pre-empty and convert away from a “living in fear” trope, a theme of the work is that the protagonist is making a “personal risk assessment” (“debated whether I had better try to sleep”), and that the results of said assessment are, well, unexpected.

Transmission

Here is CDC’s interactive map by county set to community transmission (the “red map,” which is the map CDC wants only hospitals to look at, not you.) The map is said to update Monday-Friday by 8 pm:

The previous map:

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. That the “green map” (which Topol calls a “capitulation” and a “deception”) is still up and being taken seriously verges on the criminal.

Positivity

From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, published January 13:

-3.8.%. Still heading down, faster.

Wastewater

Wastewater data (CDC), January 9:

That’s a lot of red!

January 8:

And MWRA data, January 10:

Lambert here: Unmistakably down, north and south. However, not all the students are back; BU classes begin January 19; Harvard’s January 22.

Variants

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.

NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (Walgreens), December 30:

Lambert here: BQ.1* still dominates, XBB moving up fast. Note all the BQ subvariants; it’s almost like something’s encouraging them, like maybe a policy of mass infection. Sure hope none of ’em get lucky, like XBB.

Variant data, national (CDC), December 24 (Nowcast off):

BQ.1* takes first place. XBB coming up fast. (For BQ.1/XBB and vaccine escape, see here.) Here is Region 2, the Northeast, where both BQ.1* and XBB are said to be higher, and are:

Holy moley, XBB.1.5! (Makes clear that Region 2 (New England) varies greatly from the national average. Wouldn’t it be interesting if we ended up with different variants dominating different parts of the country.

• As a check, since New York is a BQ.1* hotbed, New York hospitalization, updated January 12:

A retreat from the steady rise I have found so concerning.

• Hospitalization data for Queens, updated January 8:

Deaths

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,124,399 – 1,123,466 = 933 (933 * 365 = 340,545 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).

Lambert here: Deaths lag, so we have a nice little jump here as a consequence of whatever it is we’ve been going through.

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

There are no statistics of interest today.

* * *

Finance: “Holy high rollers: prosecutors take down phony pastors who targeted immigrants in $28 million Ponzi scheme” [MarketWatch]. “‘I’m everything you imagine me to be, as long as it’s good and it’s Godly.’ That’s how Dennis Jali, a South African self-proclaimed finance guru sold his Christian-themed program of financial success to crowds of mainly African immigrants at churches and banquet halls in and around Baltimore and Washington, D.C. But while Jali claimed he could multiply their money by as much as 35% through cryptocurrency and foreign exchange investments, prosecutors say it was simply an unholy scam. Not only were Jali and his accomplices not pastors like they claimed, they never made any investments with their clients’ money, instead using it to finance lavish lifestyles of private jet travel, luxury homes and fleets of fancy cars.” • How anybody could read the Bible and imagine Jesus wants them to be rich astonishes me.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 62 Greed (previous close: 57 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 47 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 13 at 1:38 PM EST.

Under the Influence

A strong dynamic, not only imposing itself on influencers:

Health Care

“Health Care Giants Are Making Millions off of Unfair Medicare Overpayments” [Jacobin]. “his year, for the first time, a majority of seniors eligible for Medicare will be on privatized Medicare Advantage plans. Now, the insurance companies raking in giant profits from these for-profit plans are mounting a pressure campaign and planning to sue the government to protect years of overpayments they’ve extracted from Medicare. A cash cow for big insurers, the for-profit version of Medicare has not been a great deal for the American public. Medicare Advantage plans cost the government more per beneficiary than traditional Medicare, and often wrongfully deny care. What’s more, federal audits have found Medicare Advantage plans systematically overbilling the public — mostly by billing as if patients are sicker than they really are, a scheme known as ‘upcoding.’ Officials estimate that the private plans collected $650 million in overpayments from 2011 to 2013. The Biden administration is expected to finalize a rule next month to try to recoup some of these overpayments — but Medicare Advantage insurers are threatening to sue if the rule moves forward as written, according to Stat News. If insurers sue, it could further delay the government’s efforts to claw back excess payments stretching back more than a decade, as well as future overpayments. The health insurance industry argues that regulators should allow for some level of payment errors — and should only apply new rules to audits moving forward, instead of retroactively punishing past misconduct.” • Because of course they do. If only there were some way to deliver health care to without going through the insurance companies at all! Maybe some Democrat elected could hold hearings or sumpin. NOTE On upcoding see NC here, here, and here. Coding is for billing; it has to do with health data only tangentially. Medical coding is a solid and well-paid professional job, even if as presently constituted it should not even exist.

Class Warfare

“NUGW union with United Electric, Radio and Machine Workers of America authorized following two-day election” [The Daily Northwestern]. “The [graduate student] union was authorized after a majority (1,644 to 114) voted in favor of the union.” • Holy moley!

“The bishop’s profitable sex workers” [Wellcome Collection]. Pursuant to KD’s comment here: “Although the medieval Church condemned vice, they also viewed sex work as a necessary evil that protected ‘respectable’ women from the lusts of men. St Augustine (354–430), for example, is quoted as saying: ‘Suppress prostitution, and capricious lusts will overthrow society.’… Medieval brothels were commonly known as ‘stews’ or ‘stewhouses’, as they were once bathhouses where you could literally stew yourself in the hot water…. Considerable evidence survives about life in the Southwark stews because of a remarkable document, drawn up in the 15th century, which allowed the Bishop of Winchester to sanction and profit from sex work in his jurisdiction. The ‘Ordinances Touching the Government of the Stewholders in Southwark under the Direction of the Bishop of Winchester’ sets out 36 regulations for those working in the stews, and the fine each infraction would incur. So profitable did this venture prove that the sex workers of Southwark came to be known as ‘Winchester Geese.'”

News of the Wired

Does anybody know ground zero for the gas stove moral panic? It randomly appeared on timeline, but I have no idea what triggered it:

* * *

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 CW:

CW writes: “We had a pretty big snow fall the week before the big Xmas storm. Readers will see some young beech trees with leaves still attached as discussed recently.”

Readers, I could use just a few more plants!

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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.

155 comments

    1. TimH

      …and next there will be a ban on any combustion inside a house. Obviously gas water and room heaters, but also fireplaces and solid fuel stoves.

      No? So perhaps health fear is not the real reason.

      Reply
      1. JTMcPhee

        It’s sometimes hard to move around outside my modest tract home, especially on a calm evening. For some reason, people here seem to use extraordinary amounts of hyperscented laundry products — detergents, fabric softeners, various and sundry other chemicals that have some pretty ugly information on their Material Safety Data Sheets. All of which blows out the dryer vents which, in the houses here. exit half way up the roof. I asked the next door neighbor lady, who has told me she has lots of debilitating allergies, if she uses this stuff which is loaded with allergens, and she denied it — but her dryer was running, and the tiny breeze was wafting it right at us.

        In the meantime, the March of Folly brings us closer and closer, thanks to the ******************* neocons and corporate MIC types and idiocracies in the Pentagram and CIA and State, to that tipping point in Ukraine where those Fokkers turn the nuclear weapons loose.

        If there is a next sentient species on this planet, assuming arguendo humans are such, I hope it has better luck with the nuclear-biological-coding transition.

        Reply
    2. Henry Moon Pie

      May be, but I can’t help but be struck that the day AOC tweeted about it was the day I heard about it from two different news networks. And it’s usually not such a big deal that the government is issuing some new regs unless they’re restricting our “right” to drive around like maniacs or wolf down the baby back ribs at Applebee’s in the midst of a pandemic.

      Ask AOC and I’ll bet she’ll point to climate impacts. Those regs are not exactly the Green New Deal (remember that?), huh? And that’s a double sin since she’s encouraging more climate skepticism in the long run by joining in on this tall tale, but that will be the Democrats’ cover story.

      And what’s it cover? We need to send more NatGas to the EU ASAP without the COL rising too fast. Makes the narrative quite complicated.

      Reply
    3. Objective Ace

      I sincerely doubt the US gov is only now becoming aware.. just like they are quite aware of the bad effects of plastic, forever chemicals, sugar etc etc and yet don’t consider limiting (or even warning about them)

      Maybe it’s because our energy industry is too busy making money hand over foot selling to Europe to bother lobbying the US. Gives regulators a short window to actually do something while industry is focused elsewhere

      Reply
    4. Realist

      Not as bad for your health as breathing in clouds of exhaled respiratory viruses whenever you go out in public. If they are ok with that, which causes hundreds of thousands of deaths a year, they should be ok with us breathing anything we want in our own homes.

      Just put a warning sticker on the stoves and have done with it.

      ps welcome to the site!

      Reply
      1. Nikkikat

        I agree with Realist on the sudden issue of gas stoves causing problems for children with asthma. Sick buildings, Covid, smog, Fires. Suddenly they are all concerned about us. I doubt it. They don’t care one whit about us. They never have cared about us. However, now if say all of us have to get a new furnace, a new stove and covert our homes from gas to electric…..that would make an awful lot of money for some people. I’m also thinking that if gas is converted to LNG that might also be a money maker. Last and not least. My house has an electric stove. I despise it.
        No one can cook a decent meal on this thing. Loved my gas stove.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          Phyllis says the same. She misses her gas stove. According to her, and some other cooks I have listened to over the years, gas is the most versatile medium for cooking. Instant heat control for one.
          When the fracking “boom” peters out, the remaining natural gas supplies will become very important as national resources. That directly conflicts with Neo-liberal Globalism. There is a very specific reason that the various International Trade Regimes proposed have allowances for Private Corporations suing Sovereign Nation States. So, cut back on internal national uses of the gas so that it can be sold across State borders. All for the greater glory of Profit.

          Reply
          1. LY

            Induction stoves are more efficient, and just as good in terms of heat control. They’re better in terms of combustion products (VOCs and PM), and they don’t heat up the kitchen as the only thing that gets hot is the pot/pan. I’m already induction ready as my cookware is already compatible: pots from from Ikea, cast iron skillet, carbon steel wok, and carbon steel fry pan.

            Water boils faster in induction (unless you’ve a commercial grade jet engine). Can still make very good stir fry (ala Uncle Roger). Just don’t get the wok hei from the flames licking the food as you toss the food.

            I’ve been aware of induction for a while – kind of reminds me of how heat pumps are becoming the solution.

            Reply
    5. bassmule

      What the hell is this really about? Just a guess: high-polluting energy companies diverting attention away from their own activities? It’s gonna be a very tough sell among people who’ve used gas ranges their entire lives without ill effect. Which is a lot of people. And a handy way, I guess, to put restaurants that employ woks out of business. I’m gonna miss Chinese takeout.

      Reply
      1. Pat

        It will put almost every restaurant out of business not just Chinese restaurants. Not to mention making it much harder to get through an electrical outage. BTW forget electric vehicles, can the grid provide enough electricity for all the stoves and furnaces…

        But hey they can pretend to do something. (While making a huge amount of money for utility companies, and manufacturers)

        Reply
    6. chris

      Yeah.. there’s enough tells in that article you linked to that I can smell the BS through my phone.

      First, it is again another study funded by a group that has express interests in carbon free energy. Second, there’s no real discussion on ventilation which is something you could easily improve to increase the air changes per hour even in poorly designed apartments to remove the offending combustion products in the indoor space. Third, the description that this is a burden on minorities is pure theater. The ASHRAE codes specifically require general surveys of a space in order to even begin to assess what level of indoor air quality is possible because if you’re living next to a factory or a highway or waste treatment facility there’s a limit on what you can do. Eliminating NO2 in the apartments of poor people won’t help that many of those people are living next to polluting sources and pretending that it will be of outsized help is disingenuous. Fourth, there’s no mention of the problems that people have with off-gassing from electric batteries inside properties, as proposed by the people who want the electrified future discussed in the linked article. They’re literally changing one exposure concern for another using their logic. Fifth, even assuming all these properties have the wiring necessary to supply power to all these new electric appliances, we don’t have the power generation capacity to support them. Gas appliances use a lot less electricity. As with the people pushing for EVs… where are we getting all the electricity to run this stuff? You going to tell people that they’re not allowed to cook when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow? Like places such as Switzerland and California have done with EVs this past year? Sixth, tell me where we’re going to get all the ferrous pans for all these people who are supposed to use induction cooking? You can’t use most of the pans people own if you cook with an induction cook top. So are we also going to pay for all these poor people to have completely new cookware in addition to the more expensive appliances we’re now insisting they buy because gas is evil?

      This really does smell like someone is pushing something on us because they have an ulterior motive. Because if we were to institute and enforce indoor air quality standards we’d be changing a lot more than gas stove tops AND we’d be trying to relocate most of the poor people in this country to better living areas.

      Reply
    7. King

      I assume a big driver is wanting to cut down on the gas infrastructure to homes. Those small distribution lines often leak (methane is a bad greenhouse gas) and aren’t free. Converting the homes served by an old gas line to all electricity when it would be time to replace the gas line might make financial sense. I think there has been at least one article in links about where the utility was doing this on a voluntary basis but had one hold out so everyone stayed on gas. Cooking uses far less gas than space or water heating in residential use but, people tend to care more about what their stove uses than those other uses.

      I’d bet on more regulations around rentals.

      Reply
        1. chris

          You keep mentioning radon in natural gas. The only market I’m aware of where that has been alleged to be a problem is Pennsylvania, and there specifically because of the high volume of shale gas from fracking in their supply. But because Pennsylvania in general has such high levels of radon it’s actually hard to say how much is in the natural gas as compared to just being in the ambient background.

          The theory is that radon can be drawn up into the gas stream from fracking and collected into the process. However, the concern is most acute for the workers who are likely to get the exposure, and not the consumers who use the gas.

          So is there any chance you could provide a reference for why you believe there is a radon concentration in natural gas? Because it isn’t in the spec for the fuel and is not part of any process used in collecting, refining, or transmitting it.

          Reply
          1. tevhatch

            Chris: If you’d go back to 11 Nov Water Cooler, or even just do a simple internet search, you’d see where you’ve gone wrong. Don’t you go back to see if questions you asked get an answer?

            Reply
    8. Lydia Marie Child

      Empire wants the US peasants to use less gas so it can get more supply to sell to their slaves in Europe. Pretty simple and not hard to understand. The idiots “protesting” this are also the biggest supporters of their fascist empire. Can’t make this isht up. The US population is a joke. Almost as much of a joke as Europe.

      Reply
    9. agent ranger smith

      Burning candles in your living space is also bad for human health. Burning a fire in your fireplace in your living space is also bad for human health.

      So let government try to ban these things also. Ban new fireplaces in houses. Ban candles.

      Reply
  1. nippersdad

    “Does anybody know ground zero for the gas stove moral panic? It randomly appeared on timeline, but I have no idea what triggered it:”

    Per ABC:

    “The notion that the government may regulate some stoves out of existence in the future isn’t totally baseless. In an interview published Monday by Bloomberg News, Richard Trumka Jr., a CPSC commissioner who was nominated to the post by Biden and has concerns that gas stoves emit dangerous levels of toxic chemicals, was quoted as saying: “Any option is on the table. Products that can’t be made safe can be banned.”

    https://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory/fact-focus-biden-administration-banning-gas-stoves-96405196

    Reply
    1. agent ranger smith

      This is a gimme being all tee’d up for the Republicans to hit for a three hundred yard drive.

      The House just has to pass a clean bill saying only that gas stoves will remain forever legal in the US of A and all its territories. They can then dare the Senate to fail to pass it likewise. If the Senate passes it, they can dare Biden to veto it.

      If such a clean one-issue/one-problem bill passes the House and then fails in either the Senate or the White House, the Republicans have a winning issue to run on.

      ( Separately, if 5 Michelin Star chefs feel that only gas can allow them to do the fancy chef-ing they do in their restaurants, they may well convince the pro-PMC Democrats that they had better make sure the bill passes in order to avoid offending their high-end PMC restaurant patrons.

      Protect your American Gas Stove Rights.

      Reply
    2. agent ranger smith

      I first read a referrence to an article about the ” unsafeness” of indoor gas stoves on the Ran Prieur blog, of all places. It was several months ago, but I don’t remember how many or few. So I tried looking back through all of Ran Prieur’s posts for over a year. A problem is that Ran Prieur very swiftly decides which of his posts are worth saving for the ages and which ones are not that important. And he deletes the “not that important” and only archives his output after he has removed the ” not that important”.

      I tried the wayback machine and couldn’t find it there either.

      Perhaps if someone were to email Ran Prieur personally and ask him when he first heard about this, he might write back and say when he did. Or perhaps he might not.

      But I tried to find it and I have hit my own brick wall of “can’t find it”. So all I can say is that I know I remember it having been there at one point.

      Reply
      1. Roger Blakely

        Come on, Lambert. Give us a wiggle.

        “Followers want a fantasy girl/guy living in a fantasy world without COVID- and anything that reminds them is an unfollow. You’ve got folks literally unable to do anything but lie in bed all day, restricting fluids just so they can fake being lean for a 30sec wiggle on video.”

        Reply
      1. ambrit

        Hmmm…. “The Shadow Over Little Rock.”
        (I was going to type “The Shadow Over Mena” but that would have been too obscure a reference.)
        Also, “The Esoteric Order of Davos.”

        Reply
  2. albrt

    Can we agree to use the term “anti-Friedman unit” to describe the approximately 30 months it takes for an obviously good and true idea to get past a coordinated campaign by the Friedman class of professional agnatologists?

    Reply
  3. Jason Boxman

    LOL remember “card check”? So the real difference between liberal Democrats and Republicans on labor issues is the former will taunt labor by including the word “labor” in a committee’s name, while the latter will not.

    Who’s more honest here?

    Reply
  4. tevhatch

    “There must be a study out there that compares various Christian denominations for levels of abuse; but I’ve never seen it. However, it doesn’t seem to me that Christianists and Catholics differ much in that regard.”,

    Don’t forget that other religion, high school and college sports. Since sports is such an important money maker for mass media corporations world wide, it’s not all that surprising how successful has been the effort to keep items like Penn State or GDR’s woman’s swim team suppressed for so long, and to look as if they are singularities they can not be.

    Reply
  5. KD

    Good. The Democrat Party as presently constituted cannot defeat fascism.

    Better. The Democrat Party as presently constituted is fascism.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      No, it’s not. The organized militant tendency is missing. I will be happy to concede that the Democrats have bundled some aspects of fascist governamce (propaganda, especially, but also surveillance etc.). That’s not the same.

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        Isn’t Antifa a group of organized militants? I’m not saying they are Democrats but they definitely aren’t Republicans and the degree to which the Dems cheer on violent demonstrations suggests more than a little sympathy with their tactics.

        Reply
        1. Yves Smith

          I don’t think Antifa are organized. I think it’s a term adopted by people who are anti-right and willing to use violence. There may be some organization in some localities.

          Reply
          1. Raymond Sim

            To the extent they have any wide-area coordination, the FBI probably staffs it, which the Antifa types would have to be amazing idiots not to know. Apparently calling them mostly local, loosely coordinated, militant “self-defense” groups makes them sound too virtuous?

            I recall when anxiety over Antifa began to show up in comments on ‘Sic Semper Tyrannis’. It appeared to me that Antifa became a boogeyman when rightwingers started getting stomped in Portland, ruining it for hippie-punching tourism.

            Reply
        2. ashley

          youve got to be kidding me.

          who was the largest antifa force in the world? the allies in WW2. my grandfathers were antifa and you bet your ass im antifa too. antifa is short for anti-fascist, it is not an “organized group”, it is an ideology against fascism and made up of an umbrella of different political ideologies from far left to relatively centrist (think lincoln project on the republican side). you know what is an organized group, and part of the paramilitaries that make up fascism? the three percenters, the proud boys, and other right wing “militias” such as those shouting “jews will not replace us” in charlottesville in 2017. the “cultural marxism” nonsense and going after sexual and gender minorities also screams early 1930s nazis – look up the institute of sexology which was one of the first targets of the nazis. us LGBTQ people have been around a longgggg time, we’re not some mythical gen z creation off of tik tok (eyeroll).

          quit the goddamn pearl clutching. if you got a problem with anti facism… youre a fascist.

          the democrats are not fascists, but their mediocrity and support of neoliberalism since bill clinton is creating the conditions ripe for it (not to mention support of the patriot act and spying on US citizens, which can one day be used by a fascist government against minorities it seeks to eliminate). bailing out wall street while telling main street to get fucked in 2008 is absolutely a turning point in the growth of fascism from a quiet ideology only spoken about positively in the shadows to outright fascists trying to overthrow the government on 1/6. their failed beer hall putsch…

          now we have states like texas seeking state government data on people who changed their sex on their drivers license (regardless of if they are trans, or if a clerical error was made). cant imagine why the governor of texas needs that information…. surely not to target people for harassment or worse…

          point to me on the doll where antifa hurt you?

          Reply
        3. ashley

          i dont see democrats leading an attempt to violently overthrow the government.

          who was encouraging the mob on 1/6? it sure wasnt biden!

          Reply
          1. Pat

            If you think 1/6 was a violent attempt to overthrow the government you really really do not want to see a real attempt. One person died that day. And that wasn’t because law enforcement was so effective. Real insurrectionists would have come armed. Blood would have run in the streets, and at least one politician would have met a violent end along with lots of cops and rioters.
            So While it might not be Biden, If you look closely you might find it was the FBI. Just as in the Whitmer kidnapping plot. Law and military security were absolutely complicit and organized. The rioters not so much, not even the friggin’ Proud Boys who weren’t on the FBI payroll.

            There was an attempt to overturn the election but it wasn’t violent and Democracy is under far greater attack from organized corruption and the open purchase of elected officials than anything involved in 1/6. And for the record top Democrats have been all in on that overthrow attempt for decades, including Biden.

            Reply
      2. GramSci

        If Riefenstahl-esque parades are the sine qua non of fascism, then I suppose Lambert has a point. In linguistics all it takes is one distinctive feature to change the meaning of a word.

        But that seems so twentieth century. IMHO, the noble International Alliance of Freedom Fighters for Ukraine and the internationalized Five Eyes G-e-s-t-a-p-o Peace Forces, are a modern, very organized ‘tendency’ that would be the envy of a modern Furor.

        Similarly, my semi-orthodox brother-in-laws mocks the notion that the the Ukranian military is notsie-adjacent on the grounds that the Ukrainian President is Dzhouish. Ergo, Israel is a freedom-loving democracy.

        Reply
        1. albrt

          Honestly, Democrats just don’t have the guts to be fascists. They’re like Umair Haque the other day, whining “why will the CIA and the NSA not rid me of these troublesome Russian stooge Republicans?”

          Democrats are united by a belief that there is a magical, clean, procedural reform that will deliver them into office in every election henceforth. They will give up every one of your rights and your firstborn child to the NSA and the CIA in the name of that reform, but they will never actually do anything hard.

          Reply
        2. JBird4049

          American fascism has or will not have German characteristics. It will be American and very likely not quite look like fascism because it will be incorporating American symbols and ideas into an American ideology.* This will make it or has made it hard for we American fish swimming in our social water to see it. More, fascism is not strictly defined, not really. It is more a set of ideas, tactics, and goals with the government working with the wealthy and big businesses to take over and control the country for the benefit of both ostensibly for the betterment of the nation.

          I think that there are several national factions who are competing for power using some of the methods of previous fascist movements with the Republicans being the closest to an actual one. Perhaps the Christian nationalists in the that party. However, there is still time and some movement from the Left. I just don’t know enough to truly speculate on that.

          * Look at all the reasonable people you have known who have turned into Democratic or Republican rageroids whose understanding of reality has gone sideways. Covid, Biden, Trump, and so on. Propaganda is one heck of a drug especially when it is tuned to hit your (hidden) biases. This is why I am going slightly crazy from trying to not go bananas if some propaganda hits my hidden flaws.

          Reply
          1. anahuna

            “This is why I am going slightly crazy from trying to not go bananas if some propaganda hits my hidden flaws.”

            Thank you, JBird, for stating this succinctly: a method for using our unavoidable exposure to propaganda as a spiritual exercise.

            Reply
      3. Raymond Sim

        Our oligarchs enjoy all the main benefits they’d get from Facism Classic without the expense and trouble of imposing a full blown facist state on a gun-toting nation of people convinced they have liberties and rights to protect.

        They’d be crazy to go for it. So they probably will.

        Reply
        1. britzklieg

          Sheldon Wolin – Inverted Totalitarianism

          https://www.thenation.com/article/archive/inverted-totalitarianism/

          Representative institutions no longer represent voters. Instead, they have been short-circuited, steadily corrupted by an institutionalized system of bribery that renders them responsive to powerful interest groups whose constituencies are the major corporations and wealthiest Americans. The courts, in turn, when they are not increasingly handmaidens of corporate power, are consistently deferential to the claims of national security. Elections have become heavily subsidized non-events that typically attract at best merely half of an electorate whose information about foreign and domestic politics is filtered through corporate-dominated media. Citizens are manipulated into a nervous state by the media’s reports of rampant crime and terrorist networks, by thinly veiled threats of the Attorney General and by their own fears about unemployment. What is crucially important here is not only the expansion of governmental power but the inevitable discrediting of constitutional limitations and institutional processes that discourages the citizenry and leaves them politically apathetic.

          No doubt these remarks will be dismissed by some as alarmist, but I want to go further and name the emergent political system “inverted totalitarianism.” By inverted I mean that while the current system and its operatives share with Nazism the aspiration toward unlimited power and aggressive expansionism, their methods and actions seem upside down.

          Reply
      4. Fastball

        I never did think Democrats were outright fascists, though I do believe the self described liberal today is just a far right neocon warmonger wearing a social justice fig leaf. A very SMALL fig leaf.

        Reply
      5. KD

        The other piece is the fascist-bogey man altogether. Did Italy under Italian Fascism have extrajudicial killings? Absolutely, but something like 23 of them. Compare it to say Pinochet or Suharto, and Italian Fascism is practically a human rights movement. Did Italian Fascism exercise political repression against socialists and communists? Absolutely, they smashed printing presses, imprisoned people like Gramsci, but at the end of the day, who assassinated more socialists and communists, Mussolini or Stalin?

        As a nasty right-wing 20th century movement that advertised itself as “totalitarian,” Italian Fascism had historical primacy, but it was hardly the worst. In addition, the goals of Fascism are much better served via Neoliberalism, with fake parties, fake news, fake politics while democracy is managed and encapsulated by international institutions controlled by capitalist interests. Who needs fascism when you can have the American duopoly empowered by Corporate Media fighting over women’s bathrooms while you immiserate the population, trap them in debt-slavery, destroy the middle class, take away civil liberties, drain all the wealth into the 1% and recreate feudalism?

        The other kind of “odd” thing is the way that so-called fascist regimes like Germany, Japan, Spain, Portugal, so easily transitioned from fascism to liberal democracies, versus the convulsions in former Communist countries. Its almost like they are substantively the same, while formally distinct.

        Reply
    2. spud

      that is correct. the nafta democrats are just slowly bringing down the hammer on us. but look what they have done to the world since 1993, if this is not fascism, then what is it?

      this says it all, and why i say free trade is fascism,

      https://mpbritt.com/understanding-what-fascism-is-and-isnt/

      “fascism is a variant of capitalist rule in which the most reactionary capitalists, specially finance capitalists, resort to when their rule is threatened. This has to be understood, because eventually fascism can return if you maintain the underlying socio-economic system that fascism comes from – capitalism. Capitalism has three outcomes: fascism as it becomes threatened, defeat by socialism, or the exhaustion of resources and destruction of the world.”

      https://againstthecurrent.org/atc194/antifa5/

      “Fascist rule, however, confronts a fundamental contradiction. Remilitarization plus spending on the social measures necessary to sustain popular support had to be paid for, but without excessively taxing the industrialists and large landowners. This could be done only by plunder, domestically by confiscating Jewish properties and internationally by invading and seizing the wealth, especially the raw materials, of other countries. Hence fascism’s imperialist dynamic.”

      https://voxday.net/2014/02/24/free-trade-is-global-fascis/

      “But to fulfill its full potential the multinational corporation must be able to operate with little regard for national boundaries – or, in other words, for restrictions imposed by individual national governments.”

      Reply
  6. Val

    Burning nat gas is bad for your health, or the markup on LNG is just too delicious?

    Thankfully there’s nothing else floating around in the air that might be harmful.

    Family Blog.
    These. People.

    Reply
    1. t

      Only stove natural gas. Tank water heaters are just fine.

      You can still get propane tanks and I believe they are still widely used in rural settings but nary a peep.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        Yeah, but try affording a fill up of that propane tank now. The prices, I am given on reasonable authority, have spiked along with the export bonanza that the Nordstream bombings unleashed. Regular old natural gas does not need compression and cooling, mobile bombs for delivery, and finicky valving to transship. All of that adds cost to the retail price.
        This all might be a side effect of the push for carbon neutral technology. I know not where to look for it, but I’ll bet that there are databases where the “carbon footprints” of natural gas and electricity can be compared.

        Reply
    1. Jason Boxman

      The key sentence is right at the top:

      But are these Americans dying from covid or with covid?

      So we already know where this particular propaganda piece is headed.

      Understanding this distinction is crucial to putting the continuing toll of the coronavirus into perspective.

      And America’s favorite hack is here to explain that to us!

      Robin Dretler, an attending physician at Emory Decatur Hospital and the former president of Georgia’s chapter of Infectious Diseases Society of America, estimates that at his hospital, 90 percent of patients diagnosed with covid are actually in the hospital for some other illness.

      So there ya go! There’s no COVID here. Pandemic over!

      Doron acknowledges that there is a gray zone in the data in which covid might not be the primary cause of death but could have contributed to it. For instance, covid infection could push someone with chronic kidney disease into kidney failure. She and her colleagues are collecting data on this as well.

      They want the public to see what they’re seeing, because, as Doron says, “overcounting covid deaths undermines people’s sense of security and the efficacy of vaccines.”

      Oh noes!

      Reply
    2. ChrisPacific

      So count them properly. It’s not hard. New Zealand does it. It means the actual Covid death stats take a while longer to come out since a number are listed as provisional or unclassified for a time, but they clearly show counts in both categories and also give regular updates for reclassification.

      Interestingly about 60% to 75% are eventually classified as death from Covid, with the others either death with Covid or undetermined. This demonstrated once and for all for me that the ‘deaths are overcounted’ talking point is a red herring. Yes they are, but not by all that much, and certainly not by an order of magnitude, as is usually implied by anybody taking that line.

      Reply
      1. Screwball

        I read it as a narrative to lessen the focus on the pandemic, which I think is a bad idea. I’m also not thrilled with the author, so there is that. YMMV

        Reply
  7. Jason Boxman

    From BLS, is medical billing really a well-paid professional job? When Fight For 15 really ought to be at least 20 these days, I dunno if $22.43 is all that much. From what I’ve heard, it is also a mind numbing job of quickly looking at records and then coding as quickly as possible, with a minimum ‘error’ rate, for whatever definition of error is compatible with “upcoding”.

    The median average medical billing and coding salary is $46,660 per year or $22.43 per hour according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), but many things impact how much you can earn. Medical billers and coders in New Jersey, for example, earn $67,130 per year, which is much higher than average. And according to the AAPC, certified coders earn 27% more than non-certified coders. In this guide, we’ll dig into medical billing and medical coding salary factors including how much you can make in each state, the highest paying cities, and how salary changes for medical coders and billers depending on where you work.

    https://nurse.org/healthcare/medical-billing-coding-salary/

    Make of that what you will.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      $46,000, indoors, credentialed, with opportunities to advance through professional training seems pretty good to me. I’ll delete “well paid,” if need be — clearly medical coders aren’t doctors, lawyers, brokers…

      Reply
      1. Fiery Hunt

        Oh, yeah, medical billing is a shit job…my sis in law did it for a bit.

        It’s akin to telemarketing in terms of demand for “production”, “volume” and “speed”.
        And the pay sucks.

        Reply
  8. KD

    Thou knewest not, it seems, that it was precisely in the name of that earthly bread that the terrestrial spirit would one day rise against, struggle with, and finally conquer Thee, followed by the hungry multitudes shouting: “Who is like unto that Beast, who maketh fire come down from heaven upon the earth!” Knowest Thou not that, but a few centuries hence, and the whole of mankind will have proclaimed in its wisdom and through its mouthpiece, Science, that there is no more crime, hence no more sin on earth, but only hungry people? “Feed us first and then command us to be virtuous!” will be the words written upon the banner lifted against Thee–a banner which shall destroy Thy Church to its very foundations, and in the place of Thy Temple shall raise once more the terrible Tower of Babel; and though its building be left unfinished, as was that of the first one, yet the fact will remain recorded that Thou couldst, but wouldst not, prevent the attempt to build that new tower by accepting the offer, and thus saving mankind a millennium of useless suffering on earth. And it is to us that the people will return again. They will search for us catacombs, as we shall once more be persecuted and martyred–and they will begin crying unto us: “Feed us, for they who promised us the fire from heaven have deceived us!” It is then that we will finish building their tower for them. For they alone who feed them shall finish it, and we shall feed them in Thy name, and lying to them that it is in that name. Oh, never, never, will they learn to feed themselves without our help! No science will ever give them bread so long as they remain free, so long as they refuse to lay that freedom at our feet, and say: “Enslave, but feed us!” That day must come when men will understand that freedom and daily bread enough to satisfy all are unthinkable and can never be had together, as men will never be able to fairly divide the two among themselves. And they will also learn that they can never be free, for they are weak, vicious, miserable nonentities born wicked and rebellious. Thou has promised to them the bread of life, the bread of heaven; but I ask Thee again, can that bread ever equal in the sight of the weak and the vicious, the ever ungrateful human race, their daily bread on earth? And even supposing that thousands and tens of thousands follow Thee in the name of, and for the sake of, Thy heavenly bread, what will become of the millions and hundreds of millions of human beings to weak to scorn the earthly for the sake of Thy heavenly bread? Or is it but those tens of thousands chosen among the great and the mighty, that are so dear to Thee, while the remaining millions, innumerable as the grains of sand in the seas, the weak and the loving, have to be used as material for the former? No, no! In our sight and for our purpose the weak and the lowly are the more dear to us. True, they are vicious and rebellious, but we will force them into obedience, and it is they who will admire us the most. They will regard us as gods, and feel grateful to those who have consented to lead the masses and bear their burden of freedom by ruling over them–so terrible will that freedom at last appear to men! Then we will tell them that it is in obedience to Thy will and in Thy name that we rule over them. We will deceive them once more and lie to them once again–for never, never more will we allow Thee to come among us. In this deception we will find our suffering, for we must needs lie eternally, and never cease to lie!

    Reply
  9. Jake Dickens

    I let my beard grow for a month, always masking the rare times I left home (KN95 respirator). Trimmed my beard a few days ago. Now, I can feel the resistance of the mask when breathing. In other words, my masks weren’t actually working and the change was so gradual that I didn’t notice it.

    Reply
    1. Terry Flynn

      I understand this. I’ve been clean shaven all my life apart from a short experiment when living in Sweden. I “get” that it can make preservation of body heat easier or have other benefits…. But for someone like me with “iron wire brillo pad” body hair I cannot slack off a daily “scrub” routine to stop truly excruciating ingrowing hair (don’t forget hairs grow in cycles so you can’t simply do it for 6 weeks then assume you’re ok).

      Working in health I knew I could “properly mask” but it required extra effort on top of extra daily beard routine. So I will always shave and be careful with masks.

      Reply
    2. Angie Neer

      I always knew, deep down, that I was cheating a bit by keeping my beard under my N95. I kept it short, but still I’m sure it compromised the seal. Well then I got covid, finally faced reality, and now I’m clean-shaved. (In case you’re wondering, my name Angie is short for Angus)

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        Hmmmm… as my Scots cousins would say.
        Angie and Angus have the same number of letters. Angie now suggests that you might be a ‘short’ Scot, which would make you somewhere between 5′ 10″ and 6′ 2″ in height.
        Stay safe and keep ‘purifying’ your tonsils with 100 proof mouthwash in these fraught days of pandemicity. [I have yet to see any data on the relative effectiveness of single malt or double malt ‘mouthwash.’]

        Reply
        1. Fiery Hunt

          Don’t know about the different malts but I swear by Tennessee charred barrels!
          Over 1,100 days Covid free is all the “proof” I need!

          Reply
    3. chris

      Yeah… anyone trying to get a well fitted respirator has to be clean shaven. There are people who try the nice goatee but that’s a pain too. I’ve been fit tested for various kinds of respirators for decades and you always need to be clean shaven to pass the positive and negative pressure test for your seal.

      I don’t know why that information wasn’t more commonly shared. It’s all over OSHAs materials. But I guess it would have caused even more resistance to masking.

      Reply
    1. Screwball

      It’s almost like following a spy novel, given this seemed to feed Russiagate as I read it in the bigger picture. I also think of icebergs.

      Reply
    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      From inside the bubble:

      “Sprawling.” Definition of retcon:

      noun

      a subsequent revision of an established story in film, TV, video games, or comics:

      In an awkward retcon of his origin story, the hero’s parents survived the attack but suffered complete memory loss.

      verb (used with object) ret·con·ned, ret·con·ning

      to later revise (an established element of a fictional story):

      The writers retconned the origin of her powers, newly attributing them to alien ancestry.

      It’s odd, and telling, that all they know is narrative.

      Reply
  10. flora

    re: “Does anybody know ground zero for the gas stove moral panic? It randomly appeared on timeline, but I have no idea what triggered it:”

    Wild guess: the hidden ‘great and good’ in WEF setting up an opportunity to preen at Davos this year for “saving the planet” (aka, hurting the little people )?

    From last Feb 22 WEF Davos paper:
    https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2022/02/gas-stove-cooking-health-environment/

    Now: World Economic Forum Annual Meeting will take place in Davos, Klosters from 16-20 January, 2023.

    By the way, how’s Sri Lanka doing now without fertilizer? (Another grand plan from WEF Davos.)

    Reply
      1. Henry Moon Pie

        BoJo called it “guilt-free flying.” Now I’d be impressed with the guilt-free flying cars that I’ve been waiting 60 years for. About as likely.

        Reply
          1. JBird4049

            >>> Hey, guess where BoJo is flying to soon. What country does he intend to go visit? Go on, guess.

            Does Christmas Island count? :-)

            Reply
          2. griffen

            Since I watch or tune into CNBC each day, whilst filing my TPS reports. So I kinda know there is a scheduled conference soon. And…He is going to Davos, is the Davos man. That is where all the right people go, to conjure and plan.

            Davos, that’s where it’s at. We can kick at the starving and poor, and make fun of them who thinks the earth is flat. \SARC

            Reply
  11. fresno dan

    fresno dan
    January 13, 2023 at 3:42 pm
    “The Failures of the January 6 Report” [Jeet Heer, The Nation].
    So I find the “failures” kind of like the asswer given to that question at job interviews: what is your biggest flaw and the aswer that is given as: I work too hard.
    First, the real problem is that there wasn’t a coup or at least not in 2020. It was a rather mild riot, and if there is anything that needs to be investigated, it is how with so much surveillance and so many police organizations, there weren’t enough police to stop people who did not have even ONE gun.
    Second, there was an attempt to overthrow a legitimate election in 2016 by Hillary, apparently adided and abetted by the Obama administration. (Again for the record, I was appalled Trump was elected, although more appalled that Trump AND Hillary were nominated) I am willing to concede it may not have been specifically the Obama administration as much as the “PMC.” After all, the republican investigation of Russiagate seems awfully lackadaisical.
    To equate a very minor riot in 2020, with a conspiracy in 2016 that involved the DoJ, FBI, CIA, FISA court and who knows how many alphabet agencies, just reveals a total lack of seriousness, as well as the fact that the conspiracy continues. The real threat to representative government is not being addressed, because the people in control don’t want it addressed. Rising inequality is what they wanted, what they got, and what they will ensure will continue. Trump is LOOK, squirrel!

    Reply
      1. Late Introvert

        I agree completely. I have had success pointing out to family and friends that Russiagate was some ads and polls on Faceborg that nobody even saw. They always look kind of surprised, like really?

        Try it out.

        Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > To equate a very minor riot in 2020, with a conspiracy in 2016 that involved the DoJ, FBI, CIA, FISA court and who knows how many alphabet agencies, just reveals a total lack of seriousness, as well as the fact that the conspiracy continues. The real threat to representative government is not being addressed, because the people in control don’t want it addressed.

      Or they’re completely serious….

      Reply
    1. griffen

      That’s incredible. Thanks for linking to that tune! I gotta say I was born and raised in eastern NC and attended small, fundamental baptist churches my life until about age 23 or so. Saw some kooks and odd behaviors but none of this Joel Osteen-tinged prosperity preacher ideology. Which to allude further, is false ideology in my opinion. Worship mammon and prosper, then multiply and establish high walled private academies. Yeah I’m not sure that was in the New Testament studies of my youth!

      Reply
        1. Raymond Sim

          Oh my goodness, I remember hearing that song as a little boy in East Lansing. My Mormon babysitter’s hillbilly neighbors were playing it. I remember wanting to reassure her that she didn’t need to worry, I understood that God was not an atom bomb, but not knowing how to do so without risking another lecture about Joseph Smith.

          I grew up to be quite fond of the Louvin Brothers, but I never realized that was their song.

          Reply
    2. Pat

      Hey, imagine my surprise during a conversation with a co-worker about their being Buddhist when after a probably typical introduction/conversion story they then launched into telling me that their career had taken off as they now chanted for general success and specific jobs. ( And no we were not working on anything to benefit mankind).

      Americans can apparently find a way to turn any doctrine into being about prosperity.

      Reply
      1. Raymond Sim

        “Human Being Zen” is what one author I read years ago called that. They used each of the realms to denote a particular way of getting things wrong.

        “Devil Zen” was my favorite. The description was something like “A real-life devil is someone who truly believes the clothes make the man.”

        Reply
      2. SocalJimObjects

        It’s not just Americans. Here in South East Asia, a priest was recently overheard telling the masses that God hates poor people.

        Reply
      3. rowlf

        A roommate took me to a Japanese Buddhist meeting once and the theme was achieving prosperity. Having had friends from South East Asia who had been novices and being an Alan Watts fan since a teenager I was put off.

        See also Dhammakaya as a Buddhist mega church. They like their Triumph Of The Will visuals as well as donations. It was fun over the years to see a story in the NYT lauding the church and then a year or so later another story on how the church had stepped on their wands and disgraced themselves.

        Reply
    3. tevhatch

      Well, there’s the Southern Baptist Church, where they believe(d) Jesus wants the blacks to be slaves, and the Asians to be dead. There’s a reason religious text are a mess, it allows for creative interpretation.

      Reply
  12. Bosko

    I like that Heer quote, for the most part. I’ve come to believe we’re in a political moment where both parties are willing to do anything to hold onto power. The Republicans are willing to suppress votes, get the Supreme Court to play with election outcomes, hate-monger, de-fund education, and flirt with fascism at every turn; this often became cartoonishly awful under Trump, but the party has been pushing the envelope for a long time. But the Democrats, I now think, are often even worse. We now have a clear ongoing conspiracy in which the intelligence services, the political class, and the media are essentially doing anything they can improve their personal and professional fortunes. Russia conspiracies, cartoonishly breathless Ukraine war propaganda, Trump demonizing, and an endless appetite for January 6th-related indignation are their main weapons. The main difference is the audacity of the Republicans, and the sanctimony of the Democrats… I’m not sure which one is worse.

    Reply
    1. britzklieg

      Agreed, and for the usually milquetoast Heer it is a notable step forward, like a single scale falling from one eye. Let’s hope there will be more and that such clarity will infect more of the wan regulars at The Nation.

      Reply
      1. Late Introvert

        I rather slowly washed my hands of The Nation through my late 30s and it’s been 2 decades now. I did not click those links. I’ll wait until NC comments are far more positive before I venture back there. I still feel the mental crud those people left on my brain. In my defense there was no NC back then.

        Reply
  13. Starry Gordon

    The only measure of general infection I pay any attention to any more is the wasterwater counts. They are derived from the only part of the human body that doesn’t lie. It does not surprise me that there is lying in high finance and high politics, but now there is lying about everything, in this case the pandemic and other public health issues one would think would be outside the realm of required lying.

    In regard to lies, Taibbi has this article titled “America Needs Truth and Reconciliation on Russiagate” which I think emanates from his Twitter excursion that I think you may have been referring to. I wrote in reply to a comment, “Lying by political and corporate leaders goes back long before 9/11, but otherwise you’re correct: the people who do it “no longer know who [they] are.” They lose their identity, their selfhood so to speak. As such, they cannot recognize their friends and enemies as well as themselves; eventually they cannot recognize the truth of anything. They have so much invested in their lies that they belong to them entirely. That is why there cannot be a truth and reconciliation commission in America: because these leaders and their important followers have no truth in them, and they cannot recognize the truth when they see it. …”

    My theory may help explain not only the lies of Russiagate but the lies of the pandemic. The PMC and their owner-operators lie as default behavior about everything within their purview. Everything must be lied about. It’s what they do, and the consequences (see above) follow.

    Reply
    1. Jason Boxman

      Reminds me of a thread on Twitter linked here years ago, where a journalist(?) notes that Neera was in a hearing at Congress or some otherwise captured by CSPAN meeting. She claimed otherwise. And it was right on the CSPAN footage or whatever, but she denied it so completely that he second guessed what reality actually was. Now that’s an impressive liar.

      Reply
    2. Raymond Sim

      They are derived from the only part of the human body that doesn’t lie.

      I think we should always keep the chain of custody in the back of our minds though.

      Also, I feel bad now about the times I’ve called somebody a lying a–hole or a mendacious piece of s–t.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I think we should always keep the chain of custody in the back of our minds though.

        It has also crossed my mind to ask what quantity of RNA would have to be flushed in order to game the system (say, by a pharma company that had a product tuned to a virus with that RNA signature, and wanted to create “demand” for it. We aren’t at that point yet, but who knows…).

        Reply
    3. Raymond Sim

      The PMC and their owner-operators lie as default behavior about everything within their purview. Everything must be lied about.

      Yes. I suffer a failure of imagination/empathy every time I try to understand it, which has made it hard to integrate into my worldview. I think many other people struggle with guilt when they find themselves thinking this way. But assuming you’re being lied to is sound adaptive behavior.

      Reply
    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The only measure of general infection I pay any attention to any more is the wasterwater counts.

      That’s what I’m coming to think. I may re-orient my coverage to reflect this.

      The CDC’s coverage of the South is miserably inadequate, a real proxy for red/blue division. Does anybody know of any good local links there? Maybe the cities are going the work, and the governors or legislatures won’t let them co-operate with the CDC.

      Reply
  14. cnchal

    . . . The health insurance industry argues that regulators should allow for some level of payment errors — and should only apply new rules to audits moving forward, instead of retroactively punishing past misconduct.” . . .

    Payment errors = fraud

    It’s as if a criminal were to say to the judge, ‘look yer honor, I demand to be let off for my previous crimes or I will sue you and continue my crime spree and if you let me off I promise to only do a little crime in the future’.

    How many S class Mercedes Benzes did this crime spree fund?

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      To give them their due, following older money trails will lead back to the Treasure Islands Tax Havens and then who knows who else will show up as having stashed gains, ill gotten or otherwise therein?
      This threatens an entire class, not just a limited group of malefactors.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > This threatens an entire class, not just a limited group of malefactors

        Yes, and the behavior of the hegemonic factions in that class will discredit and bring down the entire class, including those exceptional members trying to do the right thing, as with public health, and doubtless other classes as well.

        Reply
  15. Michael McK

    I am throwing this out to the braintrust.

    https://nebula.tv/videos/realengineering-nuclear-fusion-is-changing-helion

    It is about an emerging fusion technology. I have always thought all fusion energy research was hopium and a huge waste of resources and imagination but this was new to me. It is far from putting energy out yet but seems to have gotten around many problems with standard approaches though just how many rare elements are needed for all the magnets etc may be an issue if commercialized. It is also very different from the Philo Farnsworth concept.
    Of course any action plan which does not clamp down on the footprint of the golden billion let alone the 1% is doomed for reasons far beyond energy production.
    On a philosophical level I fear that were as foolish a people as us to get actually “clean” unlimited, cheap power we would turn our home into a Death Star so if this technology is for real perhaps I should be against it. I found it on Ytube as could you but it had a link to another (new to me) video platform so I am sending that link. Sorry if this already graced these fine pages and I missed it.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Well, Helion (the company) clearly has the nous to get PR put up on a video channel, which speaks well for them.

      Presumably this technology is based on or adjacent to their 2015-2018 ARPA grant:

      Helion Energy’s team will develop a prototype device that will explore a potential low-cost path to fusion for a less expensive, simplified reactor design. In contrast to conventional designs, this prototype will be smaller than a semi-trailer – reducing cost and complexity. The smaller size is achieved by using new techniques to achieve the high temperatures and densities required for fusion. The research team will produce these conditions using field-reversed configuration (FRC) plasmas, a special form of plasma that may offer significant advantages for fusion research. FRC plasmas are movable – they can be produced at one location and then moved into the fusion chamber, which prevents the hot fusion products from damaging the FRC formation hardware. FRC plasmas also have an embedded magnetic field which helps them retain heat. Helion’s reactor employs a pulsed heating technique that uses a series of magnetic coils to compress the plasma fuel to very high temperatures and densities. The reactor will also capture and reuse the magnetic energy used to heat and confine the plasma, further increasing efficiency. The smaller size and reduced complexity of the reactor’s design will decrease research and development costs and speed up research progress in developing the efficiencies required for fusion power production.

      The company seems real. From CNBC:

      On Thursday, October 20, I took a reporting trip to Everett, Wash., to visit Helion Energy, a fusion startup that has raised raised nearly $600 million from a slew of relatively well known Silicon Valley investors, including Peter Thiel and Sam Altman. It’s got another $1.7 billion in commitments if it hits certain performance targets.

      As I walked through the massive Helion Energy buildings in Everett, one fully operational and one still under construction, I was struck by how workaday everything looked. Construction equipment, machinery, power cords, workbenches, and countless spaceship-looking component parts are everywhere. Plans are being executed. Wildly foreign-looking machines are being constructed and tested.

      Helion is working on constructing components for its seventh-generation system, Polaris. Each generation has proven out some combination of the physics and engineering that is needed to bring Helion’s specific approach to fusion to fruition. The sixth-generation prototype, Trenta, was completed in 2020 and proved able to reach 100 million degrees Celsius, a key milestone for proving out Helion’s approach.

      Polaris is meant to prove, among other things, that it can achieve net electricity — that is, to generate more than it consumes — and it’s already begun designing its eighth generation system, which will be its first commercial grade system. The goal is to demonstrate Helion can make electricity from fusion by 2024 and to have power on the grid by the end of the decade, Kirtley told me.

      Big if true.

      Reply
    2. PlutoniumKun

      Back in the mid 1980’s as a teenager I was hospitalised for a few weeks and a friend of my brother gave me a monster stack of old Omni magazines to read through. For some reason (maybe age or boredom), a lot of the articles stuck in my head. I do have a memory of reading of a similar device to this proposed at the time, although given the variations in non-Tokamak and non-laser based approaches to fusion that are so popular with proposals on the fringe of ‘big fusion’ its hard to know. Even their website doesn’t claim that in terms of physics they are proposing anything new.

      The proposal seems to have some vague justification as Y-Combinator is a backer, but the overwhelming majority of Y-C proposals never get very far (to be fair, the whole point of it is to back wild cards). There are some good physicists involved in Y-C (I know one), so presumably someone with some knowledge thought this was worth a punt.

      However, I always ask the same question whenever someone comes along promoting compact nuclear proposals. If its so good, why is the military not throwing mountains of cash at it? If anyone can come up with a reasonably compact fission or fusion device that can produce between 50-200MW consistently at a price within 2-3 times that of a diesel generator and can fit within a large vessel, then every military research institute on earth will pounce on it and put billions into it to power the next generation of subs and aircraft carriers. But everyone – the US, China, Russia, France, UK are all still using variations on the same fission devices that were developed in the 1950’s. You can either assume they are all entirely incompetent, or you can assume that they’ve put these various compact devices to the test and worked out that they are not as efficient, cheap and/or safe as the water cooled fission reactors that prowl around the deep waters of the Pacific and Atlantic right now.

      If, on the other hand, the device is not compact (its not clear from the website), then there is every chance that their projections are based on massive scaling, in which case it will most likely run into the problems of ever other nuclear station that isn’t a light water fission reactor.

      Or put another way, until it actually produces energy, and they give a fully costed plan for how it can be made viable, then its just another Y-Combinator unicorn designed to fleece Softbank of whatever cash they have left.

      Reply
      1. Michael McK

        It is not compact. The ‘unit’ is but the massive capacitor banks required fill the building’s basement. I think the issue is how much extra energy do you get out eventually relative to the massive amounts of embedded energy and manufacturing capacity needed to scale up the tech.
        If that energy and industry could make more power consumers happy by being used to make small solar or wind and energy storage units that would be a better use.
        And I repeat my last 2 paragraphs,

        Reply
  16. Louiedog14

    RE: U.S. Public Health Professional Routinely Mislead the Public about Infectious Diseases

    I think the issues highlighted here just come down to basic human nature and can be seen routinely in our own interpersonal relationships. It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission. Properly asking for permission involves making an argument, being honest about the parameters and also about what your desired outcome is (which can sometimes be difficult to admit to oneself, never mind others), and then standing by helplessly as the other person renders a verdict. It can be daunting, and there is a tendency to anticipate the other person’s reaction so that you can (ahem) tailor your “facts” in the best possible light to achieve the desired outcome, or to avoid having to have a difficult conversation.
    In some cases (“I hear the triple-cheese nachos have surprisingly few calories”) your perfidy might get you an eye-roll, but in others (“this vaccine will allow you to live the life of your dreams”) you’re going to illicit a powerful sense of betrayal.

    During the pandemic, it became quickly obvious that our experts really suck at understanding how people work. They keep tailoring their truths to get us to act the way they want, and we keep confounding them, and every time they are caught in a fudge, they lose more credibility. Negative feedback loop ensues.

    Step One: Admit to yourselves that you are powerless to control how people are going to react to what you say. Tell the truth as best you know, and let the chips fall.

    I am convinced that the reason the CDC will not acknowledge that COVID is airborne, is because the task of refitting our entire infrastructure with proper ventilation is too daunting to contemplate. It’s too difficult a conversation to have. And honestly, they may be right. But if they’d told the truth, we’d be arguing more about HVAC and costs and implementation (and the fight would be ugly) than masks, and at least the “experts” would still have some credibility left to carry the fight with.

    I’ve lived among the humans for nearly sixty years, and I can tell you: they’re a weird bunch. Sure, they can be manipulated, sometimes pretty easily, but if they figure out what you’re up to, they’ll get surly real quick. Best to shoot straight and hope for the best.

    Reply
    1. CanCyn

      I think you hit the nail on the head when you talk about anticipating someone’s reaction to what one has to say. It’s a lesser version of what politicians do, checking which way the wind is blowing (or knowing where their paychecks come from). I have a bit of sympathy for the public health folks. Some things are difficult to explain to lay folks. But isn’t communication a big part of their job? Shouldn’t they be able to tell it like it is and then answer questions? I just can’t let them off the hook the way Sandman’s friend Mike does. Even if they are not deliberately or maliciously lying (and many days I’m not so sure about that), I think it is always better to tell the truth. Or just simplify accurately. An example from the article: “25.7 You can make a good case for requiring everyone to get the MMR, precisely because it’s a “prisoner’s dilemma” situation: It is fairly sensible for the individual child not to get the MMR as long as most other nearby children do get the shot, but everyone is better off if everyone is required to get it than if lots of children fail to get it. So requiring the MMR makes sense. But telling a parent that not vaccinating his or her child is taking an unconscionable risk is simply false.” So don’t exaggerate the risk, just say, “everyone is better off if everyone is required to get it than if lots of children fail to get it.”? I do love Sandman’s term ‘misoversimplification’ and really do believe it can be done inadvertently but oy, the mess we’re in now? Sandman may not have been able to see much public reaction to public health ‘lies’ back in 2016, but I’d say that chicken has indeed come home to roost. I’m going to see if I can find anything about the pandemic by Sandman.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I think you hit the nail on the head when you talk about anticipating someone’s reaction to what one has to say. It’s a lesser version of what politicians do, checking which way the wind is blowing (or knowing where their paychecks come from).

        One of the quotes that I run every day:

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

        Ties in neatly with the failure to shift paradigms on droplet v. aerosols (as Greenhalgh argues here in “Orthodoxy, illusio, and playing the scientific game: a Bourdieusian analysis of infection control science in the COVID-19 pandemic” (illusio being “internalised rules and vested interests in the game,” or to put it less politely, the layers of impacted bullsh*t that allow PMCs to maintain their class position (“predatory precarity”).

        Reply
    2. Raymond Sim

      I am convinced that the reason the CDC will not acknowledge that COVID is airborne, is because the task of refitting our entire infrastructure with proper ventilation is too daunting to contemplate. It’s too difficult a conversation to have. And honestly, they may be right. But if they’d told the truth, we’d be arguing more about HVAC and costs and implementation (and the fight would be ugly) than masks, and at least the “experts” would still have some credibility left to carry the fight with.

      It’s not that. As an experiment, deprive CDC and all the powers that be of all benefit of the doubt, and reconsider the situation. Same conclusions?

      Reply
    3. Fiery Hunt

      Louiedog14…you seem to have learned quite a bit about these humans!
      Absolutely right, I say, based on my own studies…

      “When in doubt, tell the truth.
      It will confound your enemies and astound your friends.” Mark Twain

      Reply
    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I think the issues highlighted here just come down to basic human nature and can be seen routinely in our own interpersonal relationships. I

      I don’t believe that class and power dynamics can be erased so easily. Neither do you, in fact:

      I am convinced that the reason the CDC will not acknowledge that COVID is airborne, is because the task of refitting our entire infrastructure with proper ventilation is too daunting to contemplate.

      Economics got thrown out the front door with an explanation founded on “the psychology of the individual” (as Wodehouse’s Jeeves would say), and then got right back in through the window, didn’t it?

      (As I showed, politely, here.)

      Reply
    5. PlutoniumKun

      Just on the final point, one of the cruellest ironies of the failure of public health authorities to address the issue of clean air, is that on the basis of the work of what amounts to hobbyists, we now know that it would cost a pretty trivial amount to clean the air of all public buildings and offices and homes too. A fraction of the cost of fire protection or energy insulation.

      There are highly efficient air filters now available online that can clean a room the size of a typical classroom that use 12W and cost well under $250, and thats without scaling. Far UV lighting of various kinds is a relatively trivial technology that can be used on existing light fittings just by changing bulbs. Existing certified Far UV bulbs are expensive, but thats not due to any fundamental bottlenecks – its just that up to now they were seen as a highly specialised product.

      Reply
    6. eg

      I agree that all along the resistance to the frankly obvious need for significant upgrades to indoor air quality has been behind considerable family-bloggery where the Covid response has been concerned — which is typical short-sightedness since more airborne respiratory diseases are inevitably coming.

      I imagine similar penny wise, pound foolish reactions bedevilled our Victorian forebears when the public sanitation movement was first underway. That we appear doomed to repeat their foolish resistance is not to our credit …

      Reply
  17. Jeremy

    Hey Lambert – I have some plant photos ! I’ve emailed a few times at your yahoo address, but must assume you are not getting them. What to do ?

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I have two emails from your address, filed in my plants folder. Your email has not disappeared into the void.

      My positive response — and my responses are 99% positive — will come in the form of publishing your photo.

      I run the email queue by what I have read (therefore published) and what I have not read (not published). That is the only way I can imagine that allows me to avoid thinking (as opposed to recategorizing, tagging and untagging, responding and then re-marking as unread, etc.). “Don’t make me think” is my cardinal principle for workflow design.

      Sorry!

      Reply
  18. Raymond Sim

    Regarding the Sandman piece: I read it after seeing it here some time back. I guess I was so busy flogging it to my family that I neglected to post a comment.

    Do they know what they do oh Lord? While this is clearly an important question for Sandman professionally, in most circumstances I don’t give a damn whether deception is conscious or unconscious, and my experience is that discussion of it is usually an unwholesome diversion into unlicensed psychoanalysis, and ripe for exploitation by a truly malevolent actor. Unconscious deception may be in some degree less evil, but to me “They’re in denial.” isn’t nearly the exculpation many other people seem to see it as.

    As for Sandman’s broader subject, while he’s extremely informative, and I’d urge everybody to read this piece (especially anyone who found GM’s recent remarks at all shocking or incredible) I don’t see it addressing what being discredited means in the context of our controlled media. Does it even matter? What happens when a significant chunk of the public can be convinced getting infected is good?

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I don’t give a damn whether deception is conscious or unconscious

      File under “know your enemy.” I want to understand culpability (so I know who to punish), and also to see if there is some mitigation possible.

      > What happens when a significant chunk of the public can be convinced getting infected is good?

      Mother Nature teaches them a lesson they’ll never forget (in the worst case).

      Reply
      1. Raymond Sim

        Mother Nature teaches them a lesson they’ll never forget (in the worst case).

        If the worst case involves them being as dumb as I’m capable of being then what gets learned is liable to be that we should colonize Mars, or eat bugs or somesuch.

        Reply
  19. JustAnotherVolunteer

    I live in a city that’s working on a natural gas ban for all new construction and they picked up the bug from Berkeley

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jul/23/berkeley-natural-gas-ban-environment

    It looked like smooth sailing a year ago but the tide is turning – and yes – it’s gas stoves that cause the heartburn.

    We live in a place with abundant hydro power and wood as a survivalist fallback so I’m in sympathy with the eco minded who are pushing this but the local utility and big gas have deep pockets and the development and realtor types know they can command a higher price for gas appliances when selling a house.

    Reply
    1. Jorge

      I am strongly opined that the technology base of the Jackpot will partly include solar-powered small, smart railroad cars. Railroads are still the cheapest long-haul transportation technology. Autonomous driving is a far simpler problem in a rail car than a free-roaming car. Security is a big problem.

      Reply
  20. LawnDart

    Re; Democrats en Déshabillé

    Worth reading in full– from Margaret Kimberley, Black Agenda Report:

    The Vote for House Speaker Obscured Democratic Treachery

    House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s need for 15 rounds of voting from his party is viewed with alarm or humor. But the right wing proved that activists win if they make demands.

    Whatever one can say about them, they did something that Squad members did not. They withheld their votes from Kevin McCarthy, who needed 15 ballots to become Speaker of the House, a record in congressional history.

    Not only did democratic progressives run for cover when their leadership dropped the hammer, but they lied in order to hide their cowardice. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others claimed that they would lose the speakership to Republicans unless they all stayed on board. “We are just an extremely slim amount of votes away from risking the speakership to the Republican Party. It’s bigger than any one of us.”

    This statement was a bald-faced lie meant to keep liberals in line. Republicans didn’t lose the Speakership to the Democrats despite taking 15 rounds of voting to select McCarthy. The overly hyped congresswoman known as AOC was doing the leadership’s bidding and protecting herself from criticism.

    https://blackagendareport.com/vote-house-speaker-obscured-democratic-treachery

    Reply
  21. Glen

    Debt limit by Thursday according to Yellen?

    Let the fun n games commence!

    I’m sure, sure, sure that the Republicans are completely supported by their ultra rich owners when they contemplate wrecking the dollar.

    But I’m equally sure all those over 65 Republican voters are extremely confident Social Security and Medicare will not get thwacked.

    Hmm, who will win – owners or voters?

    Ok, I’m only kidding, owners win.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > make of it what you will…

      “Is the Earth Flat? Opinions Differ” <-- "make of it what you will" We've had plenty of discussion about CT vs SCAD, so is this CT or is it SCAD? No way to tell.

      With no summary of the video’s theory on your part, “make of it what you will” is treating the NC comments section like your own personal information dumpster (and/or sending clicks Iverson’s way).

      Don’t do that.

      Reply
  22. Koldmilk

    It is important to say that the dishonesty of public health organizations and practitioners typically is not entirely conscious.

    That matches my experience of the PMC, especially in administration and other bureaucracies:

    Before they lie to the public, they lie to themselves.

    (Mostly they lie to themselves of how smart and noble they are.)

    Reply
  23. DGL

    2016 article on Public Health integrity and misleading: I always considered Fauci to be a political animal. How else do survive being hated by AIDS activists and then embraced; how else do you survive multiple administrations? I do not know if being political is bad, but it is not science. It is “pragmatic.”

    I found this to be illuminating:
    “53. Starting in April, CDC (and Tony Fauci at NIH) continued to voice the “limited local transmission” SOCO, but less frequently and less loudly, most often deferring instead to the White House messaging. CDC even advanced the White House messaging in a variety of ways – most notably by replacing its preexisting map of places where the Zika-competent Aedes aegypti mosquito is prevalent in summer with new maps showing the estimated “potential range” (essentially where the insects could theoretically survive) of both Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus – a swath of parts of 30 states. (Imagine replacing a map of places that often have tornadoes with a map of places where a tornado is possible – and then basing your tornado preparedness, prevention, and response planning on the new map.)”

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