2:00PM Water Cooler 3/17/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Eastern Bluebird, Lafayette Heritage Trail Park, Leon, Florida, United States. Song.

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

Biden Administration

“Deb Haaland in difficult spot after Biden approves Alaska drilling” [The Hill]. “President Biden has put Interior Secretary Deb Haaland in a difficult spot by approving a controversial Alaskan oil-drilling project that the former New Mexico lawmaker opposed when she served in Congress. Biden’s decision to proceed with the Willow Project will allow ConocoPhillips to produce up to 180,00 barrels a day at its peak, which a ConocoPhillips spokesperson said should be within the first few years of startup. The project is expected to produce 576 million barrels of oil over 30 years. The president and supporters of the project say Willow will create thousands of jobs in Alaska and help keep the U.S. energy independent, an increasingly important notion for Biden ahead of an expected 2024 reelection bid likely to take place against a backdrop of elevated gas prices aggravated by the Russia-Ukraine war. But the project will also produce an estimated 239 million metric tons of carbon emissions over the next 30 years, which is equivalent to driving 51 million cars for a year. That’s why Haaland, the first Native American to lead the Interior Department, opposed the project when she was a member of Congress. And it’s why the decision to approve Willow undercuts her standing and puts her in a tough spot going forward — especially with groups opposed to the project, who believe their lead defender within the administration was just big-footed.” • Funny thing. Haaland’s ascriptive identity wasn’t the controlling factor.


“The GOP Campaign Trail Is Already Getting DeSantis-Proofed” [Daily Beast]. “Enshrined in DeSantis lore is an episode from four years ago: During a private plane trip from Tallahassee to Washington, D.C., in March of 2019, DeSantis enjoyed a chocolate pudding dessert—by eating it with three of his fingers, according to two sources familiar with the incident.” • Seems a bit sketchy, even for the Daily Beast, but as New York Magazine points out, there are two sources

DeSantis’s glass jaw?

This kind of riff was going around for a few days on the Twitter before the pudding “story” broke. It’s almost like they’re all on a Slack channel together. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Williamson story on staff treatment wasn’t discussed in the same channel, if it exists.

“Trump’s VP? Some in GOP already jockeying for consideration” [Associated Press]. “Trips to Mar-a-Lago. Glowing speeches. Front-row seats at major events. The first Republican presidential primaries are nearly a year away and the candidate field is unsettled. But already, a shadow contest of another sort is underway with several Republicans openly jockeying to position themselves as potential running mates to Donald Trump, the early front-runner for the nomination. ‘A lot of people are right now auditioning,’ Trump boasted to supporters in Florida last month. The dynamic was on full display earlier this month at the Conservative Political Action Conference, where a trio of women who have been mentioned as possible contenders sat in the audience to cheer Trump’s headline speech. They were Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Elise Stefanik of New York and Kari Lake, the news anchor-turned-failed-Arizona gubernatorial candidate who ended her remarks at a keynote event dinner by kissing a portrait of Trump that was placed on stage. While Trump, according to people who have spoken to him, is in no rush to make a decision and understands that he has to let the nomination process play out, he has nonetheless talked through possible choices since well before he formally announced his candidacy last fall. In those conversations, he has indicated his interest in selecting a woman this time around. But allies say Trump is looking, first and foremost, for someone who will be unabashedly loyal after feeling burned by former Vice President Mike Pence for refusing to overturn the results of the 2020 election.” • How about Liz Cheney’s daughter, Mary?

“SEAN HANNITY: Investigation reveals four Biden family members received payments from Chinese companies” [FOX]. “According to an oversight investigation on March 1, 2017, less than two months after then-Vice President Biden left office, well, not one, not two, not three, but four different members of the Biden family, they started receiving payments from an entity named Robinson Walker LLC. Now, Joe Biden’s brother, James, received a whopping $360,000 in incremental payments. Zero experience, Hunter, you know, the author and artist that he is, portraits of a crack addict, he got $500,000. Beau Biden’s widow, Hallie, who was also Hunter’s lover at the time — no judgments, whatever, this is a messed-up family. Anyway, she got $35,000 and an unknown Biden received $70,000. Now, we don’t know what these various members of the Biden family did to actually earn the money, but what we do know is where it came from. It came from the People’s Republic of China. Now we’re going to know a lot more when we get the suspicious activity reports. They’ve been very slow to hand them over to the committee, this is the House Government Reform Oversight Committee. But according to the ongoing investigation, prior to making the bulk of these payments, Robinson Walker LLC, which is operated by a Biden business associate, they received a $3 million wire transfer from a major Chinese energy company, but that’s not all. In 2015, when Joe Biden was still vice president, Robinson Walker LLC, they received a wire totaling nearly $180,000 from an unknown company with a foreign bank account.” • FOX, granted…

“Opinion | Republicans Are Delusional If They Think Biden Will Be Easy to Beat” [Rich Lowry, Politico]. “Biden is not a dead man walking; he’s an old man getting around stiffly. Biden is vulnerable, but certainly electable; diminished, but still capable of delivering a message; uninspiring, but unthreatening. No one is going to mistake him for a world-beater. In the RealClearPolitics polling average, he leads Donald Trump by a whopping 0.8 percent. If his job approval has been ticking up, it’s still only at 44 percent. He walks as if he is only one step away from a bad fall, and an NBC poll earlier in the year found that just 28 percent of people think he has the mental and physical health necessary to be president. That said, he’s in the office, and no one else is. Incumbency bestows important advantages. The sitting president is highly visible, is the only civilian in the country who gets saluted by Marines walking out his door every day, has established a certain threshold ability to do the job, and can wield awesome powers to help his cause and that of his party. Since 1992, Trump is the only incumbent to have lost, failing to join Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama as re-elected incumbents. Biden was never going to be the next LBJ or FDR as a cadre of historians had seemingly convinced him early in his presidency. But he punched above his weight legislatively during his first two years, getting more out of a tied Senate and slender House majority than looked realistically possible. He’s set up to have the advantage in this year’s momentous debt-limit fight, since it’s hard to see how congressional Democrats aren’t united and congressional Republicans divided. Biden’s age is a liability for him, but comes with a significant benefit — he does not look or sound like a radical any more than the average elderly parent or grandparent. This has enabled him to govern from the left — he would have spent even more the first two years if he could have — without appearing threatening or wild-eyed.” • Rich Lowry’s concept of “governing from the left” — How? By union-busting the railroad workers? — is a little odd….

Republican Funhouse

“George Santos refuses to quit Congress, brazenly says ‘truth still matters'” [Associated Press]. • You’ve gotta admire his commitment to the bit.

“The Federalist Society Isn’t Quite Sure About Democracy Anymore” [Politico]. Trip report from a Texas conference: “‘The people I met at student conferences a decade ago are now sitting federal judges,’ said Josh Blackman, a professor at the South Texas College of Law and a fixture of the Federalist Society speaking circuit. ‘The people you meet here and the networks you build up over years — they’re very, very important.’… The first major clue about those preoccupations came from the symposium’s theme, which the organizers had designated as “Law and Democracy.” As the programming unfolded over the next day and a half, it became alarmingly clear that, even among the buttoned-up young members of the Federalist Society — an organization not known for its political transgressiveness — the relationship between those two principles is far from settled. From radical new theories about election law to outlandish-seeming calls for a ”national divorce” the symposium-goers were grappling with ideas that raised fundamental questions about American democracy — what it means, what it entails, and what, if anything, the conservative legal movement has to say about its apparent decline… ‘Democracy is what philosophers call an ‘essentially contested concept,” said Daniel Lowenstein, a professor of law emeritus at UCLA and an expert in election law, during a panel on Friday evening. ‘Differences that seem on their surface to concern the meaning of the word ‘democracy’,’ he added, are actually struggles to advance particular and controversial political ideas.’ What democracy does not mean, Lowenstein argued, was ‘plebiscitary democracy,’ or simple rule by democratic majorities. Citing the Federalist Papers — the namesake of the Federalist Society — Lowenstein suggested that governance based on simple mathematical majorities would enable ‘tyrannical domination of the minority by the majority.'” • This is, in fact, a correct reading of the Federalist Papers, as far as it goes. In my view, the Federalist Papers are brilliant for their reading on “human nature” — or at least social relations within political systems — and for their implementation of the separation of powers. Also in my view, the system they built is, well, due for renovation. (Note that I don’t think that liberals believe in “plebiscitary democracy” any more than conservatives do; in fact, I don’t think I do either. How about — hear me out — we consider integrating deliberative democracy and sortition, and use that as our mechanism to allocate society’s capital, instead of relying on those hysterical and greedy herd animals on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley?)

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.

“Why Barney Frank Went to Work for Signature Bank” [The New Yorker]. • Wait, let me guess.

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“I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.” –William Lloyd Garrison

Resources, United States (National): Transmission (CDC); Wastewater (CDC, Biobot; includes many counties); Variants (CDC; Walgreens); “Iowa COVID-19 Tracker” (in IA, but national data).

• Readers, thanks for the push. We are now up to 39/50 states (78%). I have helpfully added “______” to the states still missing data. We should list states that do not have Covid resources, or have stopped updating their sites, so others do not look fruitlessly. Could those of you in states not listed help out by either with dashboard/wastewater links, or ruling your state out definitively? Thank you!

Resources, United States (Local): AK (dashboard); AL (dashboard); AR (dashboard); AZ (dashboard); CA (dashboard), Marin; CO (dashboard; wastewater); CT (dashboard); DE (dashboard); FL (______); GA (______); HI (dashboard); IA (______); ID (______); IL (wastewater); IN (dashboard); KS (______); KY (______); LA (dashboard); MA (wastewater); MD (dashboard); ME (dashboard); MI (wastewater; wastewater); MN (dashboard); MO (______); MS (______); MT (dashboard); NC (dashboard); ND (______); NE (______); NH (wastewater); NJ (dashboard); NM (dashboard); NV (______); NY (dashboard); OH (dashboard); OK (dashboard); OR (dashboard); PA (dashboard); RI (dashboard); SC (dashboard); SD (dashboard); TN (dashboard); TX (dashboard); UT (wastewater); VA (dashboard); VT (dashboard); WA (dashboard; dashboard); WI (wastewater); WV (wastewater); WY (wastewater).

Resources, Canada (National): Wastewater (Government of Canada).

Resources, Canada (Provincial): ON (wastewater); QC (les eaux usées); BC, Vancouver (wastewater).

Hat tips to helpful readers: Art_DogCT, B24S, CanCyn, ChiGal, Chuck L, Festoonic, FM, Gumbo, hop2it, JB, JEHR, JF, JL Joe, John, JM (6), JW, LL, Michael King, KF, LaRuse, mrsyk, MT, otisyves, Petal (5), RK (2), RL, RM, Rod, square coats (4), tennesseewaltzer, Utah, Bob White (3). (Readers, if you leave your link in comments, I credit you by your handle. If you send it to me via email, I use your initials (in the absence of a handle. I am not putting your handle next to your contribution because I hope and expect the list will be long, and I want it to be easy for readers to scan.)

• More like this, please! Total: 1 6 11 18 20 22 26 27 28 38 39/50 (76% of US states).

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Look for the Helpers

Taibbi is definitely a helper. Another Twitter file drops:

VP = Virality Project. This, to me, is the key Tweet:

This tweet means that informed consent didn’t even enter into Biden Administration thinking on vax. In fact, CDC initially refused to track “breakthrough infections” at all. Over the course of the pandemic, it became clear that in fact vaccines didn’t prevent transmission at all, at least on the population level, giving the lie to repeated statements by administration officials, including Biden, that “you will be protected.” (This thread gives me the creeps, because a lot of the censored material was by produced by loons and creeps. However, the VP demonstrably failed in their efforts to censor them, and may even, through the Streisand effect, made the situation worse. Of course, when the online loons are funded by rich loons, censorship doesn’t work all that well. What a mess.)

Leaving this one up for yet another day because it’s important:

“Introducing: The Covid Underground” [Covid Underground]. The deck: “Welcome to The Covid Underground, a newsletter for the Covid-free movement and all of those who continue to avoid infection.” More: “True health is the ability to change. About 10-30% of the U.S. population has changed their lives in the light of the freeing revelations of 2020, and we keep changing. We are dynamically, creatively faithful to what was— briefly— plain to all: normal is a dangerous illusion.” • Worth a read.

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Finding like-minded people on (sorry) Facebook:

“Covid Meetups” [COVID MEETUPS (JM)]. “A free service to find individuals, families and local businesses/services who take COVID precautions in your area.” • I played around with it some. It seems to be Facebook-driven, sadly, but you can use the Directory without logging in. I get rational hits from the U.S., but not from London, UK, FWIW.

Covid Is Airborne

Not a literally a post mortem, thank heavens:

If life were a movie, there’d be some drama here, like transmission via zombie bite, instead of transmission via an invisible, odorless, soundless lethal pathogen that moves like cigarette smoke….


“A novel pan-sarbecovirus vaccine candidate neutralizes Omicron BQ.1.1 and XBB subvariants” [News Medical Life Sciences]. Monkey study. “In a recent article published in the journal PNAS, researchers in China provide evidence that a novel vaccine candidate known as CF501/RBD-Fc robustly neutralized severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) Omicron subvariants BQ.1.1 and XBB in a rhesus macaque animal model.” And: “Overall, the study findings indicate that the CF501 adjuvant stimulated the conservative but nondominant RBD epitopes for generating bnAbs against pan-sarbecovirus vaccines. Thus, the researchers recommend replacing the adjuvant in the first-generation COVID-19 subunit vaccines with CF501 for next-generation booster vaccinations. This strategy might enhance the immune responses against SARS-CoV-2 Omicron subvariants BQ.1.1 and XBB, as well as future SARS-CoV-2 variants that have yet to emerge.” • So, tinker with the adjuvants? That’s the second time this week I’ve seen focus redirected to inactive ingredients. Odd.

Elite Malfeasance

Lambert here: Perhaps someone more knowledgeable in Covid naming conventions and Covid excess deaths calcuations can weigh in on the two links below.

“Statement on the update of WHO’s working definitions and tracking system for SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern and variants of interest” [WHO]. “In addition, going forward, WHO will assign Greek labels for VOCs, and will no longer do so for VOIs. With these changes factored in, Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta as well as the Omicron parent lineage (B.1.1.529) are considered previously circulating VOCs. WHO has now classified XBB.1.5 as a VOI.” • So the international agencies corrupt the naming system, and the nation-states corrupt the data. Is that what’s going on? One hand washes the other? Commentary:

Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.

“Excess Deaths Associated with COVID-19” [Centers for Disease Control]. From the Technical Notes: “Estimates of excess deaths for the US overall were computed as a sum of jurisdiction-specific numbers of excess deaths (with negative values set to zero), and not directly estimated using the Farrington surveillance algorithms. Summation (rather than estimation) was chosen to account for the possibility that some jurisdictions may have substantially incomplete data while other jurisdictions report may more deaths than expected, these negative and positive values will cancel each other out when estimating excess deaths for the US directly using the Farrington surveillance algorithms. Until data are finalized (typically 12 months after the close of the data year), it is not possible to determine whether observed decreases in mortality using provisional data are due to true declines or to incomplete reporting. Thus, when computing excess deaths directly for the US, negative values due to incomplete reporting in some jurisdictions will offset excess deaths observed in other jurisdictions. For example, the total number of excess deaths in the US computed directly for the US using the Farrington algorithms was approximately 25% lower than the number calculated by summing across the jurisdictions with excess deaths. This difference is likely due to several jurisdictions reporting lower than expected numbers of deaths – which could be a function of underreporting, true declines in mortality in certain areas, or a combination of these factors. In addition, potential discrepancies between the number of excess deaths in the US when estimated directly compared with the sum of jurisdiction-specific estimates could be related to different estimated thresholds for the expected number of deaths in the US and across the jurisdictions.” • Way above my paygrade. The bottopm line:

I wish I could be sure this is true. But as we saw with the infamous “Green Map,” CDC has form: They are expert in jiggering the numbers to nudge the population toward behaviors that conform to their preferred policy outcomes (for the Green Map, eugenics rationalized as not overloading hospitals).

* * *

Looks like “leveling off to a high plateau” across the board. (I still think “Something Awful” is coming, however. I mean, besides what we already know about.) Stay safe out there!

Case Data

BioBot wastewater data from March 16:

For now, I’m going to use this national wastewater data as the best proxy for case data (ignoring the clinical case data portion of this chart, which in my view “goes bad” after March 2022, for reasons as yet unexplained). At least we can spot trends, and compare current levels to equivalent past levels.

Covid Emergency Room Visits

NOT UPDATED From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, from March 11:

NOTE “Charts and data provided by CDC, updates Wednesday by 8am. For the past year, using a rolling 52-week period.” So not the entire pandemic, FFS (the implicit message here being that Covid is “just like the flu,” which is why the seasonal “rolling 52-week period” is appropriate for bothMR SUBLIMINAL I hate these people so much. Anyhow, I added a grey “Fauci line” just to show that Covid wasn’t “over” when they started saying it was, and it’s not over now.


From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, published March 17:

-1.9%. Still high, but at last a distinct downturn.


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,150,567 – 1,150,133 = 434 (434 * 365 = 158,410 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).

★ NEW ★ Excess Deaths

NOT UPDATED (but updating). Excess deaths (The Economist), published March 7:

Lambert here: Based on a machine-learnning model. Again, we see a high plateau. I”m not sure how often this updates, and if it doesn’t, I’ll remove it. (The CDC has an excess estimate too, but since it ran forever with a massive typo in the Legend, I figured nobody was really looking at it, so I got rid it.

Stats Watch

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The Fed: Stoller on the warpath, rightly:

Tech: “Inside Elon Musk’s cost-cutting drive at Twitter” [Financial Times]. “The February cuts removed more than 200 staff, but were still broader and deeper than many employees had anticipated, because they came after Musk had already laid off half of the company’s 7,500 workforce following his acquisition of Twitter in October. The move wiped out large swaths of its business development and product teams, leaving Twitter leaner — and more unstable.” • I think Elon is “taking one for the team” — the billionaire class to which he belongs — much like Uber did, in creating and legitimizing a whole new form of exploitation (gig work). Silicon Valley’s owners, collectively, have seen that Twitter still functions. Hence the layoffs, the cutbacks in perks, the pruning of a labor aristocracy (far, far too late for any of them to unionize, too).

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 25 Extreme Fear (previous close: 19 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 32 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 16 at 1:48 PM ET.


“FTC Finalizes Order Requiring Fortnite maker Epic Games to Pay $245 Million for Tricking Users into Making Unwanted Charges” [Federal Trade Commission]. “The Federal Trade Commission has finalized an order requiring Epic Games, the maker of the Fortnite video game, to pay $245 million to consumers to settle charges that the company used dark patterns to trick players into making unwanted purchases and let children rack up unauthorized charges without any parental involvement.” • Big money. And penalties for dark patterns is awesome (on dark patterns, see NC here). Now do the platforms.

“The Last of Us Creators Will Not Recast Bella Ramsey for Season 2” [Teen Vogue]. “It is official: Bella Ramsey’s character will not be recast for The Last of Us season 2. Neil Druckmann, one of the series co-creators, confirmed the news to The Wrap following season 1’s finale, which premiered on HBO Max on March 12, 2023. ‘We are extremely lucky to have Bella… and the only way we would ever consider recasting Bella is if she said, ‘I don’t want to work with you guys anymore,” Druckmann told the outlet. ‘And even then, we’re not sure we would grant her that. We might force her to come back this season.'” • Weird flex on “recast.” I would have said “replace.”

The Gallery

“The non-Riemannian nature of perceptual color space” [PNAS]. “The scientific community generally agrees on the theory, introduced by Riemann and furthered by Helmholtz and Schrödinger, that perceived color space is not Euclidean but rather, a three-dimensional Riemannian space. We show that the principle of diminishing returns applies to human color perception. This means that large color differences cannot be derived by adding a series of small steps, and therefore, perceptual color space cannot be described by a Riemannian geometry. This finding is inconsistent with the current approaches to modeling perceptual color space. Therefore, the assumed shape of color space requires a paradigm shift. Consequences of this apply to color metrics that are currently used in image and video processing, color mapping, and the paint and textile industries. These metrics are valid only for small differences. Rethinking them outside of a Riemannian setting could provide a path to extending them to large differences. This finding further hints at the existence of a second-order Weber–Fechner law describing perceived differences.” • Whatever a second-order Weber–Fechner law may be, I am sure we have a reader who can explain it to me like I’m five. As a color photographer, I should know this!

“Bewildering Reflections and Perspectives Shift in the Hyperrealistic Oil Paintings of Nathan Walsh” [Colossal]. “In his intricate oil paintings, Nathan Walsh captures the textural sheen of rain on city streets and luminescent reflections in cafe windows. The artist has previously explored different vantage points in elaborate cityscapes, rendering the corners of buildings, corridors of skyscrapers, and expansive bridges in detailed, two-point perspective. Recently, he has further honed ideas around perception and the way the built environment presents uncanny optical illusions in the interplay of people and objects, light, and reflections…. Pieces like ‘Metaphores’ or ‘Rue de Saints’ represent a shift in Walsh’s understanding of the urban landscape or more concisely, of how it is experienced. Elaborate window reflections warp our sense of space and fuse realism with imagination, such as in ‘Monarchs Drift,’ in which the artist has spliced together scenes of Chicago and San Francisco. Walsh imbues the works with what he describes as a ‘hallucinatory quality which is ‘neither here nor there,” embracing notions of transition, global connections, and his own memories of trips he has taken.” • For example:

To me it looks like all the grits been left out, but perhaps that’s the point. Related story–

“The Era of Urban Supremacy Is Over” [New York Times]. “Most of the nation’s major cities face a daunting future as middle-class taxpayers join an exodus to the suburbs, opting to work remotely as they exit downtowns marred by empty offices, vacant retail space and a deteriorating tax base. The most recent census data ‘show almost unprecedented declines or slow growth especially in larger cities,’ William Frey, a demographer and senior fellow at Brookings, emailed in response to my query. From July 1, 2020 to July 1, 2021, ‘New census data shows a huge spike in movement out of big metro areas during the pandemic,” Frey argues in an April 2022 paper, including ‘an absolute decline in the aggregate size of the nation’s 56 major metropolitan areas (those with populations exceeding 1 million).’ This is the first time, Frey continues, ‘that the nation’s major metro areas registered an annual negative growth rate since at least 1990.’ The beneficiaries of urban population decline are the suburbs. Even more damaging to the finances of major cities is the fact that the men and women most likely to move to the suburbs are among the highest paid, key sources of income and property tax revenues: workers with six-figure salaries in technology, finance, real estate and entertainment. Those least likely to move, in turn, are much less well paid, working in service industries, health care, hospitality and food sales.” • Attapersons, PMC. No doubt this will make 2024 even more reactant than it was already slated to be. Meanwhile, another visual:

Guillotine Watch

“Inside the Bro-tastic Party Mansions Upending a Historic Austin Community” [Texas Monthly]. “None of the [short-term rentals (STRs)] immediately surrounding Thompson’s home compared to the newest one, however. As neighbors would soon learn, the home had been purchased by a limited liability corporation managed by the owner of an upstart Austin-based ‘vacation rental investing’ company called UrbanStay, which had turned the former residence—as well as more than twenty others in historically Black and brown neighborhoods across East Austin—into a full-time short-term rental property marketed toward big-spending, hard-partying tourists in their twenties…. .Despite being operated as a business, records show the home is benefitting from the previous owner’s homestead exemption, a mechanism to lower tax bills that is reserved for owner-occupied homes, according to the Travis County Central Appraisal District. Prior to construction, the residence had three bedrooms. Now, with closets converted into miniature sleeping quarters, it contains seven bedrooms with fifteen beds, allowing the property to function as a minihotel with enough room to sleep over a dozen guests each night. With a flashy, Instagram-friendly aesthetic that could be described as Miami Vice meets Wayfair, white walls have been painted hot pink and black and adorned with generic prints of palm fronds and photographs of tigers. Above select beds, glowing neon signage with suggestive phrases such as ‘Take Bold Action’ encourage visitors to abandon restraint. ” • Gad.

News of the Wired

“The Stonehenge of PC design, Xerox Alto, appeared 50 years ago this month” [The Register]. “These were the three significant aspects of the [Alto]: the first GUI PC, the first networked PC, and the machine that drove OOPS into the mainstream.” The Star, the Alto’s commmerical successor, “introduced the desktop metaphor.” • For PCs UI/UX, Silicon Valley has been coasting for 50 years. “Innovation,” my sweet Aunt Fanny.

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Contact information for plants: Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, to (a) find out how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal and (b) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. From WB:

WB writes: “Wisconsin landscape, October 2022.”

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


    1. Terry Flynn

      Maybe the Egyptian (assumed/allegedly/whatever) worship of the cat WAS the peak of human civilization after all

  1. Wukchumni

    Join us now for As The Biden World Turns with our host Hannity…

    I like to terrorize my wife, but only when we’re driving.

    I’ll preset Hannity on the radio dial, and then most importantly, lock down all of the windows by pressing a button on the driver’s side, and then on comes Sean, and she’ll last 8 maybe 10 minutes before attempting to defenestrate out of a moving vehicle, and she’s not even of Czech heritage.

    1. Carolinian

      An analogue might be finding yourself in a prison cell with nothing to read but The Daily Beast. Whatever happened to Tina Brown anyway?


      Oh sorry Christina Hambley Brown, Lady Evans.

      I’m sure DeSantis is a jerk but there’s the pudding thing and the Ukraine war thing [makes weighing gestures with hands]

      1. Harvey

        After election, his holding the first Florida State Cabinet meeting in Israel shows he’s a Neoconartist, through and through. No thanks, I’d rather support Trump.

        “TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is going to Israel with a large contingent of business leaders — not surprisingly, especially as the GOP woos Jewish voters ahead of the 2020 presidential election. But DeSantis’ plan to hold a meeting with his elected Cabinet while he’s there has raised concerns about whether officials are violating the state’s open-meeting laws.”


        1. Carolinian

          Donald Abraham Accords Embassy in Jerusalem Trump? I’m not making a case for DeSantis who I know almost nothing about. It was more a case against The Daily Beast.

      2. Mo's Bike Shop

        DeSantis: Florida Man Eaten by Big Fish.

        This is a purple state where Democrats can’t win statewide offices.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > the pudding thing

        It’s almost like DeSantis’s pudding thing and Williamson’s staffer thing were cooked up in the same lab. The Democrats are really good at that. (Obama’s opponent in his Senate race was taken out by a sex scandal for example). It’s one of the better things they’ve got going for them.

        1. some guy

          I sometimes lick plates with my fingers. That would not be among the reasons I would fear and loathe DeSantis for.

    1. fresno dan


      You have to skp commercials to see a commercial….
      You can have my pudding pop, when you pry it out of my cold, dead, sticky, fingers….Actually, that is a lie. I don’t want a pudding pop.
      You know, if DeSantis ate pudding pops, they wouldn’t be able to say he eats pudding with his fingers…

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      And this is happening with Covid, Ukraine and now the banks. Lurking behind it all is the climate catastrophe. These people just want to stave off widespread realization of the depth and danger of these many crises for as long as they possibly can. “Don’t Look Up” is not satire.

      I was very amused yesterday at the Democrats’ theme of the day: Biden needs to do more to “sell” (actually the word they used) the Ukraine war. Begala was singing it in his Texas drawl. And Chuck Todd was there too. But Chucky, that’s YOUR job. Not going so well?

      And it doesn’t look great when Jamie and Janice cook up some tasty bankster solidarity, and it falls flat as soon as the market opens.

      And when PacWest or Bakhmut falls, there will be lots of fast talking Philadelphia lawyers spinning like dervishes.

      1. .human

        This reminded me of W candidly blurting out, “See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda.”
        ~ May 24th, 2005

  2. ChrisFromGA

    Bezzle alert: An astute author/commenter over at Seeking Alpha posted that SIVB filed ch. 11 in the Southern District of NY, despite being HQ’d in California:

    So they did some “shopping” for a favorable judge-typical. Why Southern District of New York?- it is not a New York based company. Since they do have significant operations in NYC -it file in NY.

    His handle is @WycoResearcher and he has done good work on other bankruptcy cases (Sears, Revlon) so I give him some props here.

    1. OwlishSprite

      I heard that FTX judge-shopped in NJ (Judge Dorsey) to keep Sullivan & Cromwell handling their bankruptcy. What a can of worms that is, that will be kept under wraps. Judge Dorsey denied a request from the DOJ for an independent investigator. That hardly ever happens, I have heard. A lot of big names involved?

      1. ChrisFromGA

        SBF’s parents are both Stanford Law professors, I think.

        Just fill in the blanks after that.

        1. OwlishSprite

          Yes, his parents active in Dem fundraising, Democrats, Ukraine and money laundering and incestuous business doings at Sullivan & Cromwell.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > Yes, his parents active in Dem fundraising, Democrats, Ukraine and money laundering and incestuous business doings at Sullivan & Cromwell.

            Needs a link on all that. Here, SBF complains about Sullivan and Cromwell. And a cursory search on Ukraine and Bankman-Fried yields this.

            I’m getting tired of commenters who use the NC comments section as dumpster for plausible but unsubstantiated claims. Do a little research, and add some value.

            Today is my day to be kind, so you’re not getting whacked. Watch it.

  3. IMOR

    re: Willow Alaskan oil drilling approval.
    “Funny thing. Haaland’s ascriptive identity wasn’t the controlling factor.”
    That is funny, but funnier how the administrative state and wide-open delegation of authority by Congress are always okay with the pseudo-Federalist clowns when it’s profit for their buddies and themselves, screwing the environment; but oh so wrong to protect natural persons’ health, rights, or the environment.
    Their side of those questions has no stomach for up or down votes on such matters, inconsistency and primitive constitutional ‘thought’ notwithstanding.

    1. Chas

      I wonder if Haaland is thinking of resigning over Biden’s Willow decision. It would be a powerful political act if she did. I think the last US cabinet secretary to resign because of personal conscience was Nixon’s attorney general over Watergate.

      1. sixpacksongs

        Hi Chas – Cyrus Vance, Carter’s SoS, resigned in opposition to Eagle Claw, the failed Iran hostage rescue mission, in 1980.

      2. some guy

        Would it? The Bidenoids would just replace her with a pro-Willow Sec. of Interior. Who might well be anti-Indianitic.

  4. ChrisFromGA

    Will insider stock sales and bonuses to execs at SIVB be subject to clawback?

    I can haz clawbacks?

    Nyah-nyah-nyah na, nah-nah-nah-nah, nah-nah-nah, nah-nah-nah

    Here come the bank clawbacks (embezzler)
    I’m the forensic gangster (embezzler)
    Big firesales in the area (embezzler)
    Still love you like that!

    No, no banks don’t die
    Feds can multiply
    Anyone pressed will have to give up that bling
    Act like you know R.I.C.O.
    I know how you paid for those
    Give ’em up, and go, uh-oh
    Ch-ch-ching ching!

    Here come the bank clawbacks (embezzler)
    I’m the forensic gangster (embezzler)
    Excuse me Mr. bankster (embezzler)
    Still love you like that!

    Give back those Louboutins
    Put ’em on eBay, cause
    If you don’t you’ll no longer shop at Bloomingdales
    I’m the daddy of the mack daddy
    From the town of FDIC
    Ain’t no coder-bro gonna play me
    Top auditor man

    Here come the bank clawbacks (embezzler)
    I’m the forensic gangster (embezzler)
    Excuse me Mr. bankster (embezzler)
    Still love you like that!

    Lyrics/inspiration – Ini Kamoze, 90’s rap star
    (Wukchumni your rap theme got me thinking.)

    1. Wukchumni

      Glad to be of assistance, and that was my first rap song ever take… for what its worth.

    1. Mark Gisleson

      It wouldn’t be Friday without Matt ruining my weekend with more absolutely horrific revelations.

      I was spending way too much time on Twitter back then and I distinctly remember vaccine stories being tweeted by mutuals that I never saw mentioned again, but that happened a lot regarding lots of things so the COVID censorship didn’t really stand out like it would have in pre-Orwellian times.

      1. Screwball

        Same. It was almost became a game to pick what would disappear. And it usually did.

        If nothing else, the Twitter files exposures have given us a peek inside the matrix. Some are outraged by what we have long suspected (about many topics) and now find out, while others think is a giant conspiracy theory spewed by people on Putin’s payroll.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Matt ruining my weekend with more absolutely horrific revelations.

        I should have mentioned that this too is horrific:

        This is a second example of the “particularities of office” being dissolved in what I suppose is the universal solvent of a FlexNet (Taibbi doesn’t trace out the relationships between the players, so I can’t be sure; the first Twitter censorship effort Taibbi exposed was). But I bet they were all “leaders”!

        This is not government (or, as we say today “governance”) as envisioned in Federalist 51: “In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.” Goebbels-ian embubblement seems to be doing to job on the “first” difficulty; but the liberal Democrats seem to have removed the controls on the second difficulty altogether. Of course, in a state of exception, which Democrats (implicitly) declared in 2016 and have not revoked, that’s what you do. But if no office is uniquely worth holding because all offices are dissolved into the same formless goo, then you don’t have separation of powers any more. In fact, you have tyranny as the Framers understood it in Federalist 47: “The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.” I was yammering about the Bush administration doing this with warrantless surveillance; but Obama normalized and expanded with his “disposition matrix”[1]; now, under Biden, it’s metastazed and gone domestic (no doubt because, also under Obama, the Democrats gutted the Smith-Mundt Act).

        Whatever Constitutional order we are living under, it is not the Constitutional order envisioned and designed by the Framers, that is 100% certain. (Whether that order is adequate for the times is another issue),

        NOTE [1] “I’ll be judge, I’ll be jury, said cunning old Fury. I’ll try the whole cause and condemn you do death.” –Lewis Carroll.

  5. John

    I had the pleasure of being an occasional visitor to Chungking Mansions in Kowloon during the 1980’s. Among other things, it was a budget backpacker wateringhole similar in concept to the Walled City.
    I always liked the touch of the peacekeeper Sikh guy with a baseball bat at the Nathan Rd street entrance.
    Those people in Austin ain’t seen nothing for dodgy chopped up urban residential space.

    1. Wukchumni

      I was in Hong Kong for a coin show when Typhoon Ike paid a visit in 1984.

      I’d never been in a hurricane or tornado being a left coaster, and it was something!

      I was on the 17th floor of the Holiday Inn in Kowloon, and it was a continual 4.1 earthquake up there for the duration of the typhoon, part of me wanted to watch from the window, more of me wanted to take a bath and act as if it wasn’t happening.

      The next day junks were 300-400 feet inland and some bamboo scaffolding on work sites shredded like a little too big to be toothpick size, wow the strength it possessed to do that.


  6. Laughingsong

    “The Stonehenge of PC design, Xerox Alto, appeared 50 years ago this month”

    Hehe! Wow, I worked on a later model of this (the “Xenix” workstation) at Xerox in 1988. The monitor by that time was reoriented to landscape but the graphics were very similar, except better resolution. Still connected to a big, freestanding-dishwasher-sized disk cabinet containing a 5 platter Dysan disk. It was my first encounter with GUI, icons, and Tetris! Although because the screen was monochrome, the different shapes had different patterns like crosshatch or dots.

    Gah I’m so old….

    1. digi_owl

      The Xerox Star?

      Because the only Xenix i can think of was the unix variant Microsoft was selling for a time under that name.

      1. Laughingsong

        Actually I think it was called the Alto (for Palo Alto, natch)….. but it looked very similar. I was told it was running Xerox’s own UNIX flavor so I can’t personally vouch for the OS. But it was definitely the first GUI I ever worked on.

    2. Acacia

      I wrote software on the original Alto for some years in the 1970s. By current standards, the machine was quite modest. 128 KB of memory was standard. The Diablo HDD had one platter and only held 2.5 MB per cartridge. But the CPU was 16-bit, discrete TTL chips, whereas microprocessors of the era were 8-bit. The design of the Alto was roughly inspired by that of the Data General NOVA, except that the Alto had a graphical display, Ethernet, and could run microcoded emulators for BCPL, Smalltalk, and later, Mesa.

      As is well-known, it took Steve Jobs to get the ideas developed at PARC into a commercial product.

      When the Apple Lisa was introduced in 1983, I remember seeing it on the news and thinking: “Finally…”

      1. lambert strether

        > wrote software on the original Alto for some years in the 1970s.

        Truly, the NC commentariat is the best commentariat.

        Can you say what the software was for?

        1. Acacia

          Various projects. One was part of a print server that could drive a Xerox 7000. The printer engine was a giant that printed one page per second, but the memory to render an entire page at 300 dpi (usual resolution at the time) was prohibitively expensive in that era, and the Alto memory wasn’t fast enough, so special hardware was used to prepare the image data in bands. Instead of a strip of laser diodes to expose the drum as in current tech, there was a single gas laser with a spinning polygonal mirror and a special crystal called an “acousto-optic modulator” to control the beam.

          The page description language was something called Press, which could handle fonts, graphics, halftones, etc. It was developed by a different group (I had nothing to do with that), and superseded by another called “JaM”, which was essentially Postscript.

          It may not be widely known, but the tech behind PDF was another thing that slipped away from Xerox, as researchers left to found Adobe Systems..

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > It may not be widely known, but the tech behind PDF was another thing that slipped away from Xerox, as researchers left to found Adobe Systems..

            That’s an astonishing true fact. (Reinforces my point, though, about LACK of innovation from Silicon Valley. Innovative financial engineering in the form of rental extraction seems to be the focus.)

            1. Acacia

              Looking back, I would have to agree with you about lack of innovation over the past decades. In many ways the tech has indeed improved, but a lot of that comes down to better engineering and polishing of existing art — not inventing fundamentally new technologies.

              It’s a disconnect between discourse and reality. There’s a discourse that the IT business is going through a continuous process of revolution, that just as hardware is getting faster, software is doing new wonderful things, Silicon Valley is at the bleeding edge of innovation, real AI is just around the corner, etc. It’s an ideology (or perhaps theology) of progress, that history is a succession of singularities, that industry can ‘creatively disrupt’ its way into the future.

              1. Terry Flynn

                Yes, many thanks. During my PhD (circa 2000) I had to learn Fortran (else I’d still be running my simulations now). Whilst there were so many frustrations when a program crashed 2 minutes after I left it compiling to go to the gym or library, it became fun as I compared failure rates with a more established medical statistician who also “had” to learn it.

                Crashes became “fun” as learning accumulated. However the bottom line of all this stream of consciousness nonsense is that we had the perhaps last gasp of “unfettered” med sci research where we could just “go investigate something interesting”.

                Ultimately mine got me a PhD which was totally boring and rapidly superceded. She did “n-of-one trials” which, had they been “economic” would have solved so many medical scandals today and reduced the workload on NC people!

  7. Jason Boxman

    Deb Haaland in difficult spot after Biden approves Alaska drilling

    But it’s all a lie. We export our crude thanks to Obama. It’s not really what the refineries want. We’re addicted to that Saudi crude. This energy independence line has always been a scam, at least for petroleum. Maybe not for LNG.

    U.S. Imports Mostly Heavy Crude As Light Oil Production Booms

    The United States is currently the world’s largest crude oil producer, but it still needs to import heavy varieties of oil, as most of the domestic output tends to be light crude while refineries are running on a diverse range of crudes, including heavy oil, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in an analysis on Friday.

    1. digi_owl

      Yeah as we learned with the whole Russia embargo foot gun, crude is not interchangeable.

      Similarly i think a problem for Venezuela is that just about the only refineries that can handle its crude are located in USA, thus badly limiting its market.

    2. vao

      I vaguely remember to have read somewhere that unadulterated fracking oil is excellent for (precursors of) plastic, and pretty much useless for anything else (especially automobile/airplane/ship fuels).

  8. clarky90

    Just a heads up for all, “World Wide Geo-Political Wrasseling” (aka, the WWGPW) Fans . You know who you are! The first thing in the morning, YOU brew tea/coffee, and immediately check the Web/Radio/Newspapers for the latest domestic and International Wrasseling News Storylines. The personalities, the historic feuds, the developing feuds, the love stories….

    For instance the evolving bro-mance story of “The Total-Narcissist Trump” and his team mate, “The Ultimate Thirst-For-Blood Putin”. Or the antics of that crafty cross-dressing, trouble-maker character, “The Insatiable Zelensky”, who appeared suddenly from the wing of the wrasseling ring to advance the International, Heels vs Baby Faces story line…. The Crowd Goes Wild! …

    My reliable sources in “The Industry”, tell me that “The Management” has ordered, “The Narrative Writing Team” to perform a dramatic AND unprecedented pivot in the storyline (your newsfeed)!

    For decades, the USAians Tag Team (USA, GB, the Aussies….) have been the Ultimate World Wide Baby Faces (good, beautiful, kind…), opposing the World Wide Heels. (The Russians, The Muslims, the Wreckers, The Deplorables …..)

    However, public opinion pollsters have noticed that the public have become fatigued with the “traditional” narrative. Viewership is dramatically DOWN! So.. a courageous and innovative decision had to be made, at the Very Top….. A Heel Turn by the USAians Tag Team. No more Mr/Mrs/They/Them Nice Guys. The Team is slathering on The Evil Clown make-up. The wardrobe is now Baal inspired….. The signature music is Heavy Metal………

    Will the public continue to tune out of the storyline, and go bush-walking, birdwatching, surfing, camping etc…..??

    The future of The WWGPW is on the line!

    1. clarky90

      A member of “The Tertiary Alliance of The Online Disinformation Watchdogs” (aka, The TAoTODWs) has reached out to me.

      The correct and accurate title is “The World Wide Geo-Political Wrasseling Cooperative”, (aka TWWGPWCoOp).

      The TWWGPWCoOp is NOT affiliated, or associated, in any way, with the rogue, breakaway….. “The World Wide Geo-Political Wrasseling Federation”. (TWWGPWF)

      I pray that I have not caused any offence or confusion!
      Thank you…….

  9. FreeMarketApologist

    Re: Bewildering Reflections and Perspectives…

    I really appreciate the picture, as the view is from the Roosevelt Island tramway looking toward it’s touchdown spot in NYC, between 59th & 60th St, on the east side, and that’s my home neighborhood (my apartment building would be in that picture were it not blocked by an adjacent slightly larger building), but even on some of the best orange/red/gold glowing sunset evenings as the dark blue night sky creeps in and darkens the silver faced buildings, it never has those colors. (And I don’t think that particular painting is an example of two-point perspective.)

    Neighborhood pride aside, I’d much rather look at the hyperrealism of people like Richard Estes, who caught NYC in paintings and large scale screenprints quite some time ago, with far greater accuracy (but still not much grit).

  10. antidlc


    How the government decided to rescue Silicon Valley Bank in 72 frenzied hours

    Jeffrey Zients, Biden’s new chief of staff, and Lael Brainard, the new director of his National Economic Council, were also being pelted by warnings about the bank’s threat to the economy.

    As Silicon Valley Bank’s depositors raced to withdraw their money Thursday, sending its stock into free fall, Brainard and Zients began receiving a flurry of calls and texts from worried leaders in the startup community that the bank heavily served.

    Oh, can I get their phone numbers? Maybe I can ask for a personal bailout if my insurance doesn’t cover my hospital bills.

    1. JBird4049

      Wukchumni and his neighbors are sure to get plenty of help from FEMA, right after the people living at the East Palestine Superfund site are helped. I mean isn’t that what the government is for? To help everyone especially after major disasters?

      After the 1989 World Series Earthquake, I did not question that I and the people around me would get the aid that we needed both from the state and the feds. Not so much anymore.

      Since it’s normal to privatize the profits and to socialize the costs, I should not be too surprised that a growing amount of the costs of living including natural and man made disasters are socialized onto the survivors while Big Money is made whole.

  11. antidlc

    Pandemic fatigue and a lack of research dollars means long COVID patients are being left behind
    Experts tell Salon there aren’t enough research funds to help figure out how to help long COVID patients

    Why aren’t there enough research funds to help figure out long COVID? What happened to the $1.15 billion? Did they spend it already?


    About RECOVER: The National Institutes of Health Researching COVID to Enhance Recovery (NIH RECOVER) Initiative is a $1.15 billion effort, including support through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, that seeks to identify how people recuperate from a COVID-19 infection, and who are at risk for developing post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 (PASC). Researchers are also working with patients, clinicians, and communities across the United States to identify strategies to prevent and treat the long-term effects of COVID – including long COVID. For more information, please visit recovercovid.org external link .

    1. Jason Boxman

      Sadly, I’d be shocked if there were ever any resolution for this. This virus damages the host. I doubt there is any fix for this. We’re going to have an increasingly sick and disabled population for which there is little hope. Truly the stupidest timeline. Davos Man knows the truth, and takes precautions.

      1. some guy

        Sometimes the Davos Pigmen and Pigwomen have to come out of their Davos fortresses. What if every Davos participant had his /her name and face blasted all over the internets so that everyone could recognize them when they emerged into the wild among regular people? Then people could earnestly petition them for extending Davos Safety to the normal masses.

        ( I would never suggest anything so rude as having normal persons who also carry covid to cough and sneeze and blow their noses at any Davos PigPeople seen in the wild outside their Fortress of Davos viral security. That would be very nasty and very not nice, as a former President would say).

  12. Glen

    Larry Summers being Larry Summers.

    Interview with Larry Summers, Former Secretary of the Treasury | The Problem with Jon Stewart

    I think Jon Stewart is also demonstrating one way to handle all those feral hogs: Skewer and barbecue them. Personally, I think the meat would be riddled with wormy parasites, but I’ve been told it’s an acquired taste.

    1. semper loquitur

      Gamey, according to a farmer from Michigan I spoke with a few weeks back. Probably riddled with worms as well. He was telling me what an enormous problem they are for him. Did you know a big sounder of hogs can wipe out a square kilometer of new growth in a night? 🐗

      1. Glen

        That’s horrible. It’s Michigan – couldn’t they have a special hunting season to help out the farmers?

        Here in the PNW when the salmon farming fish pens broke in the San Juan Islands, the WDFW just announced “no limits” on catching those fish and the salmon fisherman took care of most of the problem.

        1. semper loquitur

          I wouldn’t be surprised if they do. But hogs are crafty creatures, the guy said they use the pen-traps that drop down onto them. And still they come.

      2. Questa Nota

        New social program for 2024

        Background: now that NYC and other select metros are losing population and tax base to the ‘burbs, it is high time to engage the left-behinds.

        Solution: bus them out to those feral hog and other areas, with weapons and wrapping paper, so they can store up some meat for the next season. Buy onto the return bus with a hind quarter.

        Financing: federal grant with adequate oversight provisions and staffing to hire relatives ensure photo ops.

        1. Henry Moon Pie

          “Solution: bus them out to those feral hog and other areas”

          Your socialist tendencies are showing. In ‘Murca, we pull ourselves by our own damn bootstraps to get out to that meat!

      3. lambert strether

        Sounder, the collective noun of the day

        A sounder of venture capitalists, a sounder of bankers….

        1. ambrit

          How about a “clangour” of advertisers?
          Also, to go with the ‘gamey’ feral hog flesh; a “brothel” of influencers. [It’s called ‘terms of venery’ for a reason.]

  13. McWatt

    If oil and gas is a finite resource why would we export today what we will need in future?

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      We export today what we will need in future? — For profits now. Remember … the future extends no further than the next quarter.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Maybe the idea is that if the US starts to run out, that they can just invade Venezuela and free them of their ‘patrimony’.

  14. JustTheFacts

    I’ve never heard of being “projected” by the CDC before. Presumably a spelling mistake for “protected”.

  15. Wukchumni

    Happy St. Pats Day to My Kevin (since ’07), sharing the blarney on sham o matters with Joe back in humordor!

    Kev’s district rather looks like a toilet, and i’d be up by the back lid, I guess.


    Anyhow, much of it is and will be a disaster zone not for days or weeks, but months. So there’s no rush to respond here, haven’t heard a peep out of the Speaker of the House.

  16. fresno dan


    We have some new friends, and we were invited to visit them with another couple a few weeks back at their Shaver lake cabin, which normally would be easy peasy. But we decided not this season.
    The central valley used to be a lake. The fact that it has been dry the entire time I have lived here, as the financial types might say, is past dryness is no guarantee of future dryness.

      1. skippy

        It reminds me of the Australia I came to in 95 where in the public wielded a nasty lash that would take strips off anyone gaslighting this hard in the NSW election – national sport/past time. That all changed after the PR/Marketing team from neoliberal team USA started its tour down under in the late 90s.

        Saw on morning TV late 90s a US media neoliberal proselytizer ask whats the deal with the tall poppy syndrome thingy in Oz, why would anyone want to diminish and not worship those that are successful in the market place.

        It might have been right, could do better, but it had a spine ….

    1. The Rev Kev

      Saw that on their channel late last night and it is hilarious. Better put a language alert on it as it is after all from Juice Media. :)

      Just checked and see that the elections for NSW are next weekend. Hope that there are lots of fireworks.

      1. skippy

        Its Oz and as such always a language alert, but I must ask, green, blue, black, or red – ???? – you know so individuals can dial in their preferences …..

    1. Milton

      I wonder how the desert blooms are to be this year. Because most of the rains came in the form of ARs, hardly any moisture was left after being squeezed dry by the orographic lifting over the mountains. Precip numbers for desert regions show most of them below normal.

  17. Swamp Yankee

    Re: STRs. I know that piece about Austin, having come across it during my research for an article I wrote on the attempt by a non-resident property heir and scofflaw to gut our small, New England Town’s zoning bylaw so that he could run an illegal lodging and events center on a beautiful coastal property inherited from his Boston Banker grandfather.

    Note that this was not a gutting of the Zoning Bylaw to produce something useful or for the public good — this was not affordable housing or a park; it was a place where the heir sold $375/plate “influencer” dinners with local oysters (said heir is a hanger-on at a prominent local oyster growing operation).

    The heir attempted, in order for him to evade the bylaw, to effectively commercialize the entire Town to make running a STR a by-right usage, meaning if your neighbor decides to run a small hotel next door, tough luck. Given that economic research by Barron, Kung, and Proserpio demonstrates a 0.018% rise in rents and 0.026% increase in home prices for every 1% increase in AirBnB listings in a given US ZIP code, this would exert significant upward pressure on already unaffordable local housing.

    The Article (bill/proposed legislation) was brought in a procedurally irregular fashion, as well, coming by Citizens Petition before a Special Town Meeting that the heir chose to call (he had the requisite signatures, we couldn’t do anything as a Town per Mass. General Laws) 12 days before the statutorily scheduled Annual Town Meeting (the Open Town Meeting is the directly democratic legislative branch of a New England Town’s government). The Select Board, formerly Board of Selectmen, the executive branch who control the Warrant, or agenda, of a New England Town Meeting, offered said heir a place on that already scheduled Town Meeting.

    He refused, at real expense ($15,000) to the Town, in order to try to “choose” a more favorable electorate; but it didn’t work. Thus it was that after a bitter campaign by the petitioners, full of calumny, misleading claims, and crazed social media attacks on beloved local Kindergarten teachers, we trooped out on a snowy Tuesday evening, and defeated his Article by 840 to 50 votes.

    On that night at least, democracy beat aristocracy.

    1. OwlishSprite

      Wow, good for you. Reading that article made me think of that old classic, “The Milagro Beanfield War” by John Nichols. Hope those Austiners will get creative, shame they have to.

      1. Swamp Yankee

        Thank you Flora and OwlishSprite, as well as Lambert — no, there were not many, and in fact, the number in favor of the Article (50) closely correlates with the number of operators of illegal (as in, outside the Town bylaw) short term rentals (48) per the Commonwealth of MA, which registers them.

        Without wishing to unduly drop links, and at the risk of letting my day-to-day identity slip, I did write up an (extremely long) story on it that went viral locally, according to a friend from HS, who said he was sent it, independently, on two different Town text chains he is on (indeed, it got more than twice as much traffic as the previous all-time high story).


        Turnout was the highest since a controversial school proposal in 2011 or so.

        The fact that the heir, and esp. the Bolsonarista Mrs. Heir, called us all Communists at the slightest disagreement probably didn’t help their cause. These are mostly rock-ribbed Yankees said heir was addressing, not crunchy liberals, mind you. They are the farthest thing from Communists imaginable; it was just insane.

        It was the largest majority I remember at Town Meeting. People had had it with the petitioner.

        1. skippy

          When they used the term communist it was in the framework of anything that would deny them of personal profit which would, at the end of the day, diminish the society around it not only in price terms but emotionally.

          Their economics has no emotion and as Hayek said it should be killed from the human condition so the market could function correctly ….

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Thank you Flora and OwlishSprite, as well as Lambert — no, there were not many, and in fact, the number in favor of the Article (50) closely correlates with the number of operators of illegal (as in, outside the Town bylaw) short term rentals (48) per the Commonwealth of MA, which registers them.

          50/840 = 5.9%. Not even 10% (as in top 10%).

          > Bolsonarista Mrs. Heir


          1. Swamp Yankee

            Oh yes, very much so! She had a big “Bolsonaro” ‘filter’ or whatever they call it emblazoned across her Faceborg profile picture for a while. All of the rabid and paranoid anti-communism in her rhetoric follows from that.

            And I can assure you, the red-baiting just doesn’t work when the person on the other end is Mrs. F_____, our dear public school elementary teacher for 45 years.

            Did I mention they don’t even live in the Town but have gamed the system regarding voter registrations? They are like the bastard children of a washed up Stuart Monarch.

            What reputation they had locally is by their own hand destroyed; they are viewed as anti social pariahs, and rightly so. Don’t F___ with the Commons of the Town!

    2. The Rev Kev

      Congratulations to the people of that town and much respect. Just watch that that heir does not run off to the State government to get them to push those changes through on their behalf.

      But going after local Kindergarten teachers would have gone down like a lead balloon.

      1. Swamp Yankee

        Thanks, Rev Kev! Fortunately, the MA Constitution grants unusually expansive and extensive authority Towns to govern our own affairs, so long as it is not repugnant to the Constitution or preempted by State or Federal Law. The State can force overrides of Town Zoning Bylaws, but only basically for a few specific things, generally affordable housing, though there are others (illegal sand miners/cranberry latifundists use MA agricultural exemptions to cover violating the Earth Removal bylaws of various local cranberry Towns).

        But the tide of power is not flowing towards STRs at the level of policy here, it’s against them, so I am less concerned about that than I would be otherwise.

        1. The Rev Kev

          @ Swamp Yankee

          Congratulations to your town once again. To be crude about it, that heir came to your town, Fecked Around and Found Out.

  18. tegnost

    • Funny thing. Haaland’s ascriptive identity wasn’t the controlling factor.

    Endeavor to persevere

  19. fresno dan

    Barber insisted that McWorld and Jihad are both deplorable, because they are anti-democratic. McWorld’s central operation is depoliticisation. It puts fundamentally political issues into the supposedly apolitical hands of market elites, experts and judges. In this way, McWorld carries out class warfare, while rendering social class and conflict as such publicly illegible. Working people can’t contest the wage-depressing effects of open borders, for example, because the immigration issue implicates human rights and must be left to the courts.
    For now, it seems McWorld has crushed Trumpian democracy. After the ignominious end to the Afghan and Iraq conflicts with the US withdrawals in 2021, the uniparty is fully back in the saddle, this time gearing up for “democracy wars” against Russia and China.
    Backing Ukraine and provoking China, isn’t, so far, the obvious diasasters of active war in Iraq and Afghanistan. But 2 years to see how foolish the dems will be.

  20. chris

    Random question to the commentariat… does it seem like blood cancer is everywhere lately? With the latest on Sam Neil being treated for Stage 3 leukemia, and several friends having been diagnosed, and one dying from an undetected case of it that was metastatic, it feels like there are way too many people dealing with what I had thought was a rare type of cancer in adults. Is this just personal bias or is anyone else seeing this too?

  21. Mark K

    Re:“The non-Riemannian nature of perceptual color space” [PNAS].

    Lambert, I don’t think you have to worry about this article.

    Here’s my take from reading the article, although not very closely, and based on what I remember from studying this stuff years ago: The Weber-Fechner Law basically says that perceived intensity of physical stimuli grows more slowly than the intensity of the physical input — typically via a logarithmic relationship. (For example, decibels are based on logarithms of the corresponding sound pressure.) So, a second-order Weber-Fechner Law would say that even the basic Weber-Fechner Law overestimates the size of differences in intensity as the intensity increases. (For spectral colors, physical intensity translates to wavelength and perceived “intensity” translates to hue. The fact that human color vision works by taking something that is intrinsically unidimensional (wavelength) and turning it into something that is two-dimensional (think: color wheel) — and trying to represent the resulting phenomenon mathematically — is what all the talk about Riemannian spaces is about.)

    The reason I don’t think you need to worry about the article is that I don’t think that accurately measuring the difference-in-the-difference of various colors is of much practical use. This seems especially true if the colors in question are very different from each other, which is exactly the situation in which the discrepancy the article is touting shows up. How much would one really need to know if this shade of blue is more similar to this particular shade of red or to that shade of green?

    1. Jeff W

      I’m glad you took a crack at it. I was going to give it a try but you did a much better job than I could have.

      The reason that it matters (well, maybe not to most people or to lambert but to someone other than the people studying it) is given as follows in this article in Fast Company:

      …as [Roxana] Bujack [a computer scientist and mathematician and one of the authors of the study] explains, the key benefit to developing a new model is not just accuracy of presenting color but efficiency: “If you figure out a mathematical model that can figure out when a human really makes a distinction between colors, you can throw a lot of data out. You can also make displays that better represent reality.”

      And that has obvious implications for things like image and video compression. If you know which colors are not worth coding into a frame because a human won’t be able to distinguish the difference with another color, you can save a lot of bandwidth. The differential can be very big.

      “We are talking more than 15%,” Bujack says. That figure may seem small, but if you add up all the color information coded in all the videos streaming worldwide, even the smallest change can end up in huge savings.

  22. Will

    This will probably feed into the priors of many (all?) here, but Prof Mazzucato has a new book out on the management consulting industry and government. I hope to get to it soon and based on, among other things, this interview with her, I’m really looking forward to digging in.

    How consultants mangle government

    I think this quote likely summarizes the book:

    This book would have been a very easy book to write if it was as simple as saying, “The consultants are the big baddies”… That’s not what the “Big Con” is. The “Big Con” is about the relationship between governments and consultancies, how one feeds off the other and has developed this kind of parasitic relationship that has the effect of hollowing out capacity internally or legitimating controversial decisions in business and government, such as restructuring

  23. SocalJimObjects

    Hotel room, ventilation and Covid. I know a lot of people here don’t like the idea of AirBnb, but I would never stay at a hotel again while the pandemic is not over. Bringing your own HEPA filters might be feasible if you are traveling by car, but it’s generally not practical. I have been traveling in Taiwan the last few weeks, and I’ve always stayed at places with windows that can be opened and I would always ask the hosts to leave the windows open while they are cleaning as well as afterwards. That means I get to check into my room after hours of ventilation, and while staying at my accommodations, I never closed the windows.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > never closed the windows

      It would be helpful if the booking sites added ventilation info. I have been able to open some hotel room windows, even in New York.

  24. Wukchumni

    Lake Kaweah is letting out around 5,500 cubic feet per second through the spillway as the 185k acre feet capacity dam is chock-a-block full. Its currently taking in around 5,000 cfs so it’s a push.

    Rain isn’t expected until Sunday and then push meets shove as the most they’ve released is 6,100 cfs per hour, and that wont cut it as there’s 3 inches coming in the foothills, more like 5 or 6 in the higher climes. The emergency spillway has never been used and is of the dirt variety on the backside of the dam.

    Not trusting my math skills, I had my wife crunch the numbers, and for those of you scoring at home, that is 43,000 gallons per second that are flooding Godzone down on the fruited plain 24/7.

    This means the end of what are primarily orchards in between Lake Success to the south and Lake Kaweah to the north, most all the trees will die from the flooding, putting another whammy on the worlds food supply chain.

    1. chris

      Trees can be regrown. But once you’ve lost good top soil from erosion driven processes… you’re in a bad place for replanting.

  25. chris

    I’m sure Yves and Lambert will be all over this next week or so. Especially if it makes the Sunday talking head meme dump. Otherwise, file it under, it’s a mad mad mad world…

    The west has decided to use the ICC to attempt to intimidate Putin. So the court we don’t recognize, and that Russia doesn’t recognize (both for the same reasons), is going to limit Putin how? And his ability to do things is going to be affected because why? Sure, 123 member countries recognize the ICC. But… there’s a handful of places that have Russian Derangement Syndrome. China and India and Iran and Malaysia do not. Ditto for African nations. Only the likes of the Guardian staff could think that limiting Putin’s engagement to the majority of the world would be a problem.

    Taking a step back, I think this means they really don’t see any options for Ukraine short of removing Putin. Because this move is guaranteed to keep him away from the negotiating table. So I guess what we’re going to see in Ukraine is more bloodshed and more dead people until the same kind of folks who didn’t blow up the Nord Stream pipelines decide to not execute a plot to eliminate Putin. Utter madness.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Utter madness

      Looks like Biden, Sullivan, Blinken, Nuland really are the drivers (and not, say, Austin):

      “The monkey’s got the locomotive under control….”

  26. KD

    were grappling with ideas that raised fundamental questions about American democracy — what it means, what it entails, and what, if anything, the conservative legal movement has to say about its apparent decline

    If we take the Divine Right of Kings, and we look closely at 17th Century France, it is very hard to notice Lord God intervening to keep the Bourbons on the throne and guide them in their decision-making process. This is to say, the Divine Right of Kings is not a theory of government, it is a theory of legitimation for an existing government. With the French Revolution, you do not see so much a new theory of government, you end up with Bonaparte and not Louis the XVI, but you see a change in the theory of legitimation of government, from sacred autocracy to rule by the People. But again, it is very hard to notice the Will of the People intervening to keep Bonaparte’s on the throne and guiding them in their decision-making process. Granted, democracy is different from sacred autocracy, and the nation-state is different from the dynastic state (and public opinion–and its manipulation–is much more important), but many of the institutions are identical, and mostly there is a cycle of new elites replacing and leavening old elites.

    Further, the task of governance remains the task of governance whether it is nominally an autocracy or nominally a democracy. On the other hand, given the inherent impermanence of office holders in the democratic system, the real power is wielded outside the electoral system, and the real power wins whoever gets elected–this is the real test of power in a democracy, which set of interests win whoever gets elected, as those interests hold real power. That is to say democracy is based on the inherent obfuscation of the actual power structure through false ideological claims about the power structure (intended to obfuscate and shield the true power). I think Robert Caro’s works are an excellent case study in democracy in action. Its a very odd system really, where the strong pretend to be weak, the weak are supposed pretend to be strong, and of the really strong, one might get into trouble even noticing that the really strong exist, as we see in discussions of the Deep State.

    Certainly the right wants to invoke democracy to de-legitimate the status quo, as does the left, but neither actually supports some form of government called “democracy”–they support a reordered set of institutions with new elites shuffled in a manner that benefits their faction. and of course “democracy” is different between the right and the left as a contested symbol, because they want to pull things in different directions. [Can we be surprised that Fascists and Communist regimes both claimed to be true democracies, as do the Capitalists?] Its a little like Protestants and Catholics contesting for the Godly Ordering of the Res Publica–but from below, its contesting “demo[n]ologies” in the place of “theologies”.

    1. KD

      *dā-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning “to divide.”

      It forms all or part of: betide; daimon; Damocles; deal (v.); deal (n.1) “part, portion;” demagogue; demiurge; democracy; demography; demon; demotic; dole; endemic; epidemic; eudaemonic; geodesic; geodesy; ordeal; pandemic; pandemonium; tidal; tide (n.) “rise and fall of the sea;” tidings; tidy; time; zeitgeist.

      It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit dati “cuts, divides;” Greek dēmos “people, land,” perhaps literally “division of society,” daiesthai “to divide;” Old Irish dam “troop, company;” Old English tid “point or portion of time,” German Zeit “time.”


      Democracy = Division of society, and “real democracy” is a division that accords with my preferences?

      1. Steve H.

        Our county uses it as the portal for property and tax info. That’s a solid base to build on.

      2. square coats

        I found more but was having trouble successfully posting more comments, so please check your email for several more states when you have a chance!

  27. Samuel Conner

    re: the link to the post at “COVID Underground”:

    > We are strange and sometimes lonely, but our lives have a meaning not given by the pursuit and purchase of conventional satisfactions.

    There is a strong echo of this in my life, beginning long before the pandemic began.

    I wonder to what extent the COVID-cautious among the population are characterized by “different” ways of thinking about “what life is for”, and whether differential survival conditioned on how one thinks about “life, COVID and everything” might have demographic, social, or even biological/population genetic consequences.

    As many have said, we are in uncharted territory.

  28. Paua Fritter

    Over the course of the pandemic, it became clear that in fact vaccines didn’t prevent transmission at all, at least on the population level

    I think it’s important to be clear about this, and with respect I think the sentence above is really not clear. Whether you mean it this way or not, Lambert, that formulation allows an interpretation which is quite false but which has been widely made by anti-vaxxers, namely, that vaccine effectiveness against transmission was a falsehood right from the start (whether a lie or a hoax or just overstatement or wishful thinking). Such claims are false and misleading and this includes Taibbi’s claim that US officials were “mistaken” to say that vaccines reduced transmission.

    In actual fact the vaccines really were effective when they were introduced, and what changed is not that their ineffectiveness was revealed, but rather that their effectiveness was gradually undermined by physical changes to the virus in circulation.

    That at first the vaccines really did substantially prevent transmission, at least on the population level, is absolutely clear from Australian epidemiological statistics. The Australian experience during 2021 is telling for a number of reasons:

    ① The country was substantially isolated from foreign incursions of the virus, so the country was a test tube (or rather a rack of different test tubes, as states closed their borders to each other).

    ② Anti-COVID mitigation regulations remained stable for fairly long periods, which meant that changes to the reproduction rate over time could reasonably be assumed to reflect the level of population immunity over time.

    ③ In some states, particularly New South Wales and Victoria, there was sufficient spread of COVID in the community that the epidemic’s trajectory was a smooth curve that allowed the current reproduction rate to be measured and tracked over time.

    ④ At the same time, case numbers remained low enough that statistically only a small minority of the population ever contracted the disease, meaning that viral immunity was always largely the result of vaccination rather than infection.

    I live in Queensland where the virus was eliminated for almost the entire period up until the end of 2021, but I do remember seeing that the daily case numbers from states where the epidemic was happening showed that the epidemic’s reproduction rate was in lock-step with the vaccination rate; as the unvaccinated proportion of the population steadily declined, the case numbers declined to match. The correlation was exact, and the effect of vaccination was decisive; the reproduction rate had declined to well below 1.0 and the total cases were trending down rapidly.

    So if it’s true that “it became clear over the course of the pandemic” that vaccines were ineffective at blocking transmission, it’s not to say that the vaccines were ineffective and the lie of their effectiveness was at some point exposed; rather it’s that the vaccines really were effective and subsequently became ineffective at the end of 2021, when the Omicron variant’s mutant spike protein broke the tether between the epidemic’s reproduction rate and the population’s vaccination rate.

    There are now vaccines which have been developed based on the spike proteins of Omicron variants (I had a booster shot of one just a week ago), and yet some people will shun these life- and health-saving medications because they’ve been led up the garden path by COVID contrarians happy to twist the facts for the sake of contrarianism.

    1. kareninca

      I’m looking forward to catching covid from one of the many, many, many covid-infected rats and mice and deer (and so on) who haven’t been vaccinated, and whose aerosolized breaths hang in the air for a good long time. But maybe I won’t catch it. I’m not vaccinated, but I use various prophylactics (including masks and ivermectin and Xlear and claritin), and test weekly, and I haven’t caught it yet. But most of the vaccinated people I know have caught it. You are very right that some of us will shun the new vaccines.

    2. Grebo

      When the mRNA vaccines were first announced as being ready I read the press release (there were no scientific papers) looking for the answer to the most important question: what effect do they have on transmission?

      It did not contain it. It did not even contain the question. It was like it had not even occurred to them to ask it. I knew then that the answer must be that they have little effect on transmission, they just didn’t want to admit it. Nevertheless, the vaccines were sold to us as transmission stoppers—implicitly by the producers and authorities, often explicitly by the media.

      They were not completely ineffective at first, just not impressive. They faded as new variants arose. Surprisingly, the much vaunted potential for rapid development of new vaccines has not been used. The only update has been for Omicron, and that long after Omicron was superseded.

      They oversold the vaccines, underplayed the risks, then tried to force them on people who could sense they were not being levelled with. What is the truth? Pfizer wanted to hide it for 75 years. One can only surmise that is because it would not be good for their stock price.

      PS. I took the Oxford/AstraZeneca.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Lambert, that formulation allows an interpretation which is quite false but which has been widely made by anti-vaxxers, namely, that vaccine effectiveness against transmission was a falsehood right from the start (whether a lie or a hoax or just overstatement or wishful thinking). Such claims are false and misleading and this includes Taibbi’s claim that US officials were “mistaken” to say that vaccines reduced transmission.

      First, I think the tendency (very prevalent among liberal Democrats) to self-censor because of the use others might make of one’s work is a very bad tendency, societally; it allows the worst sort of actors to live rent-free in one’s head. I’m supposed to not write something because of what anti-vaxxers might say? Ridiculous. The correct attitude is that they’re gonna say what they’re gonna say regardless of what I do.

      Second, as Grebo points out, for the mRNA vaccines, their effect on transmission was not part of the studies at all. And the CDC refused to collect the data on breakthrough infections.* Meanwhile, Biden, Fauci, and Walensky all swanned around saying “You are protected.” To anybody who fitted the new vaccines into the existing box of childhood vaccines for measles and polio, etc. — and I certainly did! — “you are protected” implied permanently protected and raised the possibility that the vaccines would be sterilizing. I am not aware of any polling on this, but I’m guessing that most dull normals were hopeful, just as I was.

      Well, as it turned out, the vaccines were good only for months (and mutation me no mutations. Covid is covid. Spikes are spikes. The original messaging was not qualified). They did not halt transmission sufficiently to be sterilizing, as all the breakthrough infections soon showed. As a result, what the vaccines were good for was reframed to “protected against hospitalization and death,” thereby erasing vascular and neurological damage, plus long Covid, even from mild cases, from the discourse.

      So I don’t know whether the Biden Administration and the public health establishment were “lying” or not. MR SUBLIMINAL So I won’t say they were lying. But feel free to think it. However, they were certainly, in Churchil’s words, “economical with the truth.”

      Personally, I think vaccines were and are life-saving at the population level. (Your Australian R-level argument is interesting, but there are a ton of confounders, and in any case we have actually data on transmission now, and don’t have to rely on correlations). I took one for the team, got vaccinated, and people for whom I am responsible got vaccinated too, which makes me happy. I would rather risk vax than Covid (since I have no contra-indications for vax).

      My issue is coercion. The vaccines should never, never, never, ever have been mandated, because not enough was known about the risks; for example, whether breakthrough infections were likely or not. Non-pharmaceutical interventions, however, being low risk and highly effective, should have been. The upshot was Biden’s policy was 180° wrong, and we ended up with a eugenicist outcome of mass infection without mitigation, which killed upwards of 700,000 people and counting, besides destroying the credibility of the public health establishment and giving every libertarian hater an enormous victory. So put that in your “contrarian” pipe and smoke it.

      NOTE * IOW, nobody could have known whether the vaccines blocked transmission or not. We can, of course, only speculate on why the CDC refused to collect breakthrough data.

      1. Paua Fritter

        I’m supposed to not write something because of what anti-vaxxers might say? Ridiculous.

        No, you you can write what you believe in, but you should be clear about what you write.

        You should avoid writing something in an ambiguous way which is open to harmful misinterpretation when anti-vax propagandists are making exactly that misinterpretation. That’s not “self-censorship”; it’s taking care to write with an awareness of how you fit into those misinformational agendas.

        1. Yves Smith

          You are utterly out of line. You have absolutely no business telling ANYONE here what to say, particularly a site administrator. That plus your condescending attitude, combined with official-narrative-backing Dunning-Kruger effect, is a reader assisted suicide note which we are only too happy to honor.

          You take a position that is factually false, that the vaccines prevented transmission and then have the nerve to challenge Lambert, who I guarantee has a vastly superior knowledge of both the “science,” the actual evidence, and the ever-shifting messaging, to you.

          They vaccines NEVER NEVER NEVER prevented transmission, even under wild type. It was the vaccine touts that were engaging in false messaging by saying they did and implementing vaccine mandates that reinforced that bogus claim.

          On top of that, your preachy remarks misrepresent the anti-vax position. They never made claims about the impact of the vaccines on transmission. Their positions were: 1. Covid is no worse than the flu; 2. Natural immunity is better (in protecting individuals, they never cared about transmission) than vaccines; 3. The vaccines too often produce injuries.

          What got transmission down before Delta became prevalent was lockdowns, social distancing, particularly work at home, and masking. The efforts to attribute any reduction in transmission to the vaccines were weak and unpersuasive.

          You made other comments larded more false information alongside your bogus posture of superior knowledge that I binned, such as misrepresenting the performance of the vaccines (the endpoints in the studies were severe infection and death, not all infections, as you falsely stated. The only major vaccine that I saw break out data on reduction in all infections v. severe infections + deaths was Sinovac, and to trash that vaccine, our officials set their lower ‘all infection” number with our “severe infections + deaths” number, rather than making an apples to apples comparison).

          I also guarantee that Lambert and I know a hell of a lot more about propaganda than you do, both having been regularly involved in policy fights in an active if small capacity (ex CalPERS) for pushing two decades.

          I trust you will find your happiness elsewhere on the Internet.

      2. sharron2

        In early 2021 my husband’s primary doctor and county health officer told me the vaccines were being touted to the medical community as being sterilizing. I remember being amazed as back in prehistoric times when I attended college, it was taught covid viruses evolved too quickly to make it worthwhile to attempt vaccines. I hoped that science had advanced enough to overcome this. Obviously not, but we will continue to booster as it is all we have, along with masking and crowd avoidance.

  29. Lambert Strether Post author

    I just added some orts and scraps. I’ve gotta say, every time I think I’m got the news flow under some sort of control, another dam breaks and starts flooding everything (in this case, Trump’s impending indictment and, presumably, arrest).

Comments are closed.