Tuesday , January 18 2022
Home / Lambert Strether

Articles by Lambert Strether

Latest Biden Covid Speech Sinks Without a Trace

13 hours ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
President Biden gave another speech on Covid on January 13: “Remarks by President Biden at Virtual Meeting on Military Deployments Supporting Hospitals for the COVID-⁠19 Response.” I promised I’d pull on my yellow waders and go through it; and here you are!
The speech is 12 minutes long; I have helpfully numbered each of the very short paragraphs, and annotated them. There are clearly places in the speech where Biden is stuttering; I have not marked them. But there are also places where Biden has clearly lost his train of thought; I have highlighted the false starts and the flubs in yellow, thus.
If I occasionally betray a little irritation, please forgive me. It’s been a long pandemic. I have added some commentary at the end.
* * *
(0) [Introductory

Read More »

Links 1/17/2022

20 hours ago

How did birds like penguins evolve into some of the world’s best swimmers? ABC
Walmart Plots ‘Super Intense’ Crypto, Metaverse Push, Filing Suggests Heisenberg Report
An Explosion Felt Round the World New York Magazine
Climate

Get Ready for More Volcanic Eruptions as the Planet Warms Scientific American
First the Fire, Then the Fungus Small Things Considered
#COVID19

Mild respiratory SARS-CoV-2 infection can cause multi-lineage cellular dysregulation and myelin loss in the brain (preprint) bioRxiv. From the Abstract: “the findings presented here illustrate striking similarities between neuropathophysiology after cancer therapy and after SARS-CoV-2 infection, and elucidate cellular deficits that may contribute to lasting neurological symptoms following even mild SARS-CoV-2 infection.”

Read More »

Biden Urged to Fire Covid Response Chief Jeff Zients Over ‘Damning’ Failures

21 hours ago

Lambert here: Why stop at Zients? Klain, Fauci, and Walensky should all go. Psaki, too, while we’re at it. Not that any of this will happen, if only because Biden is intensely loyal to staff.
By Jake Johnson, a staff writer for Common Dreams. Originally published at Common Dreams.
President Joe Biden is coming under growing pressure to fire White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients—a former private equity executive with no public health background—as the administration continues to face criticism over its slow-moving and inadequate efforts to combat Covid-19.
Watchdog groups have long warned that Zients is not qualified to take on the massive task of leading the federal government’s pandemic response given both his lack of scientific and medical experience as well as his

Read More »

An Introduction to Family Offices (and Generational Wealth)

2 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
“We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings.” –Ursula Leguin
The United States, it is said, is an oligarchy; it is ruled, by the rich. Hence it behooves us, as a simple matter of self-preservation, to study the habits of our oligarchs, especially those who have achieved dynastic wealth. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists those habits as follows:
IPS identified six “habits” of highly-entrenched dynasties. These include defeating attempts to raise taxes on the wealthy, not giving away too much to charity, forming a family office to sequester wealth, creating dynasty trusts and loopholes to avoid gift or estate taxation, and using

Read More »

Links 1/16/2022

2 days ago

Why cat-like creatures vanished from North America for 6 million years New Scientist (PD). They heard a can-opener from some other continent?
Tongan geologists observe stunning eruptions at Hunga Matangi Tonga Online. Impressive:

And from space:
[embedded content]
KPMG auditors forged documents to avoid criticism, tribunal heard FT and Economic Consequences of Auditor Reputation Loss: Evidence from the Audit Inspection Scandal SSRN. From the Abstract: “Our results suggest, despite the serious ethical violations the scandal exposed, there were few market and competitive consequences for KPMG and its clients.” Study from 2020, still germane.
Elon Musk’s Tesla Asked Law Firm to Fire Associate Hired From SEC WSJ
Climate

How the Refrigerator Became an Agent of Climate Catastrophe The New

Read More »

With Billions in Fines, U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Ranks Are ‘Packed With Rogues’

2 days ago

Lambert here: Tsk!
By Nick Cunningham, an independent journalist covering the oil and gas industry, climate change and international politics. Originally published at DeSmog.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, an ultra-powerful business lobby, does not disclose its members, but it represents the interests of America’s largest corporations — some of which have a long record of breaking state and federal laws.
A new report from consumer watchdog group Public Citizen details how 111 known members of the Chamber — including major polluters and banks that back fossil fuels — have violated state and federal laws at least 15,896 times since 2000, totaling more than $156 billion in fines and penalties.
These findings come after the Chamber attacked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) late last year for

Read More »

2:00PM Water Cooler 1/5/2022

13 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Patient readers, I must add a little 1/6 stuff… –lambert
Bird Song of the Day

Who? Who?
* * *
Capitol Seizure
Greenwald is right:

A full year after the 1/6 riot at the Capitol, the total number of indictments from the Biden DOJ for insurrection, sedition or treason is the same number as Americans indicted by Mueller for criminally conspiring with Russia over the 2016 election:
ZERO. https://t.co/WMw1htTQiz
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) January 3, 2022

Presumably, insurrection and sedition are crimes. It’s been a year. The small fry went to jail. If there are indeed big fish, where’s Merrick Garland?
Politics
“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51
“They had learned nothing,

Read More »

2:00PM Water Cooler 1/4/2022

14 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Patient readers, I have streamlined Water Cooler somewhat. The main change is that the Politics section is now first. I anticipate that 2022-2024 will be quite lively, and with the previous structure, I was stretched too thin, and not able to devote enough time to that topic. –lambert NOTE I just realized that, in the throes of reorganization, I forgot to include the plant. One moment! UPDATE I needed to do a pantry clearout after the holiday break, so I have broken my rule and added some UPDATEs.
Bird Song of the Day

This is the closest I can come to the owl of Minerva. The media notes say: “This recording after playback of his own sounds.” Very meta — thanks, Zuck, for polluting a perfectly useful word — but I believe readers have said this is something

Read More »

Links 1/4/2022

14 days ago

Whales Once Walked Along the Coasts of North America Smithsonian
Fossils Suggest an Aquatic Plant That Bloomed Underwater Was Among First Flowering Plants Plantings
Seattle amateur scientist helping to unlock the secrets of slime molds Oregon Public Broadcasting
How NFTs became a $40bn market in 2021 FT
On the Intraday Behavior of Bitcoin (PDF). The Ledger. From the first peer-reviewed journal on Bitcoin. Possible subject matter:

I have only read the introduction and am already RIVETED (it is called The Great Beanie Baby Bubble). Truly the most batshit time to be alive. pic.twitter.com/pVesXr2061
— Elizabeth May (@_ElizabethMay) January 2, 2022

Repealing Section 230: Giving Mark Zuckerberg What He Wants? Dean Baker, Counterpunch (Re Silc).
The Creepy TikTok Algorithm Doesn’t Know You

Read More »

2:00PM Water Cooler 12/30/2021

19 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Patient readers, I will be taking a holiday breather, and running an abbreviated Water Cooler though January 3, 2022 (may it be a better year). Please consider this an open thread, and talk amongst yourselves. –lambert
Bird Song of the Day

A blackbird, or “calling bird,” or (originally) “colly bird.”
* * *
Here are a couple Covid charts. Case count by United States regions:

Jaw-dropping. Dumbfounding. Flabbergasting. Impressive. The anti-triumphalist black “Fauci Line” seems beside the point. We are in unknown territory on cases alone. (Worth noting the case count is probably an undercount. Home tests don’t get counted, and not everybody can go get a test.)
NOT UPDATED Here are the CDC’s rapid riser counties as of 12/23/2021:

Thanks to the sharp eyes of

Read More »

Links 12/30/2021

19 days ago

Maine cat missing for 2 months spotted on trail cam with a fox before being reunited with its family Bangor Daily News
Take a closer look: how more and more students are catching the citizen science bug The Conversation
Corporate Profits Drive 60% of Inflation Increases Matt Stoller, BIG
The Fed’s Doomsday Prophet Has a Dire Warning About Where We’re Headed Politico
Cryptocurrencies: a view from the left MR Online
Professional Poker Player Banned For Deceiving Opponents By Knowingly Betting On Weak Hand The Onion
Climate

Judge won’t intervene to let Maine power line construction resume WBUR
As Western states pledge to take less water from Colorado River, tribes seek a bigger role LA Times
Alaska hits record-high temperature for December, plus freezing rain Seattle Times (Re Silc).

Read More »

2:00PM Water Cooler 12/29/2021

20 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Patient readers, I will be taking a holiday breather, and running an abbreviated Water Cooler though January 3, 2022 (may it be a better year). Please consider this an open thread, and talk amongst yourselves. –lambert
Bird Song of the Day

From the media notes: “Calls and eventually crowing from a group of four hens and one rooster foraging in the shade at the edge of a field.” So, a bonus hen.
* * *
Here are a couple Covid charts. Case count by United States regions:

We’re gonna need a bigger chart. I have helpfully added an anti-triumphalist “Fauci Line.” Worth noting the case count is probably an undercount. Home tests don’t get counted, and not everybody can go get a test.
Because hospitalizations and deaths lag, we won’t have a complete picture for

Read More »

Links 12/29/2021

20 days ago

Ecstatic Arkansas donkey is over the moon with his new ‘jolly ball’ Christmas toy Daily Mail
You Have No Idea How Hard It Is to Get a Hamster Drunk The Atlantic
Inside the cult of crypto FT
The $900 Billion Cash Pile Inflating Startup Valuations WSJ
Climate

A shellfish company gets into the weeds High Country News
The Penobscot River and claims against military subcontractors SCOTUSblog
Wakashio Captain, Chief Mate Sentenced Over Mauritius Shipwreck gCaptain
CN Rail wins right to privately prosecute northern B.C. rail blockade participants Times-Colonist
#COVID19

The very bad day at the CDC Etric Topol. Brutal. A must-read. Topol comments:

US officials recommend shorter COVID isolation, quarantine AP. Now five days, no test requirement to leave quarantine. Walensky, Monday: “Not all of

Read More »

2:00PM Water Cooler 12/28/2021

21 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Patient readers, I will be taking a holiday breather, and running an abbreviated Water Cooler though January 3, 2022 (may it be a better year). Please consider this an open thread, and talk amongst yourselves. –lambert
Bird Song of the Day

One turtle dove. English countryside birds in the background, and time to grab a cup of coffee.
* * *
Here are a couple Covid charts. Case count by United States regions:

We’re gonna need a bigger chart. I have helpfully added an anti-triumphalist “Fauci Line.” Worth noting the case count is probably an undercount. Home tests don’t get counted, and not everybody can go get a test. I also added a vertical line for election day (since we were given to understand that the Biden administration was organizing a Covid

Read More »

2:00PM Water Cooler Christmas Eve 2021

25 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Here is the King’s College Cambridge Choir, singing “Once in Royal David’s City.”
[embedded content]
No commentary needed. A Merry Christmas to us all!

Read More »

Links 12/24/2021

25 days ago

Scientists discover new part of the body Live Science
Economists Say 2022 Is the Year of Inflation. Can the Public and Policymakers Get on the Same Page? Morning Consult. And totally not, say, the year of strikes. These people.
The Politics Of Inflation The Heisenberg Report (Re Silc).
Facebook to build metaverse with start-up that had US military contracts FT
Investors Snap Up Metaverse Real Estate in a Virtual Land Boom NYT
Jack Dorsey’s hot Web3 takes are apparently too much for Marc Andreessen to handle The Verge
Would Keynes have bought Bitcoin? The Conversation
Climate

Road Salt Is Wreaking Havoc On Our Drinking Water and the Environment, Study Says Popular Mechanics (Re Silc).
#COVID19

Omicron cases less likely to require hospital treatment, studies show FT. Less risk at the

Read More »

2:00PM Water Cooler 12/16/2021

December 16, 2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Bird Song of the Day

“MEDIA NOTES: Mâle et femele BEHAVIORS: Song.”
* * *
#COVID19
Vaccination by region:

A roller coaster. (If by Bubba we mean The South, then Bubba has done pretty well on vax, despite all the sturm und drang in the press.
61.1% of the US is fully (doubly) vaccinated (CDC data, such as it is, as of December 16. The stately 0.1% rise per day returns. We have broken the important 61% psychological barrier! Mediocre by world standards, being just below Estonia, and just above Peru in the Financial Times league tables as of this Monday).
Case count by United States regions:

Still fiddling and diddling. Also, as happened in 2020, I would expect a second, higher peak, from Omicron if for no other reason.
At a minimum, the official narrative

Read More »

2:00PM Water Cooler 12/15/2021

December 15, 2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Bird Song of the Day

Nice and long, so you can make your coffee now. Another migratory bird (with accompaniment).
* * *
#COVID19
Lots of charts today:
Vaccination by region:

A roller coaster. More data problems? (I have also not said, because it’s too obvious, that if by Bubba we mean The South, then Bubba has done pretty well on vax, despite all the sturm und drang in the press.
61% of the US is fully (doubly) vaccinated (CDC data, such as it is, as of December 14. The stately 0.1% rise per day returns. We have broken the important 61% psychological barrier! Mediocre by world standards, being just below Estonia, and just above Peru in the Financial Times league tables as of this Monday).
Case count by United States regions:

I whinged about the period

Read More »

Links 12/15/2021

December 15, 2021

Rare fossil reveals prehistoric Melbourne was once a paradise for tropical pig-nosed turtles The Conversation
Adored and endangered: the complex world of the Japanese eel Bangkok Post (Furzy Mouse).
Climate
Wall Street Is Close to Triggering a Climate Financial Crisis Bloomberg. Deck: “And just like 2008, the biggest losers will be those least responsible for it.”
The Scramble for EV Battery Metals Is Just Beginning WSJ
Winter without snow is coming High Country News
#COVID19
Shorter Tedros: Biden’s Vax Vax Vax is a failure:

Omicron is spreading at a rate we have not seen with any previous variant. I need to be very clear: vaccines alone will not get any country out of this crisis.It’s not vaccines instead of masks, distancing, ventilation or hand hygiene.Do it all. Do it consistently.

Read More »

2:00PM Water Cooler 12/10/2021

December 10, 2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Patient readers, I had planned to do a pantry clearout to make up for Monday and Tuesday, but fate intervened, and I spent time on administrivia. Hopefully next week will be better. –lambert
Bird Song of the Day

Another one of Darwin’s finches. With some kind of weird intermittent grnding or groaning noise in the background. Walruses? Penguins?
* * *
#COVID19
On the word “mild.” To me, “mild” means “status quo,” i.e. “We’re enduring the present situation, and what is to come will be no worse.” Well, the present situation, whether you look at cases, deaths, or hospitalizations — isn’t mild at all. In a civilized country, 812,205 deaths — we lost 750,000 in the Civil War — would be regarded as a catastrophe. Yet we soldier on. It’s weird. I don’t understand

Read More »

Links 12/10/2021

December 10, 2021

Patient readers: Google has been in the process of decommissioning its RSS reader by gradually strangling its functionality, which is why some of you have received the daily Links mail at random times. This weekend, we will be installing a new mailer, and porting the subscriber list to it. When we are sure the new mailer is working properly, we will nuke Google. In the meantime, you may receive duplicate daily e-mails. –lambert
See Microscopic Butterfly Wing Scales Materialize Inside of a Chrysalis Smithsonian
The myth of independent central banks FT
What to Watch Out For in the Inflation Numbers Bloomberg
This Inflation Defies the Old Models WSJ
Climate

The Millions of Tons of Carbon Emissions That Don’t Officially Exist The New Yorker. Ah, biomass.
Coffee crisis in Central America fuels

Read More »

2:00PM Water Cooler 12/8/2021

December 8, 2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Bird Song of the Day

Another one of Darwin’s finches, recorded in 1981 (what a great archive). This is the one recording for this bird, so I feel I have to run it!
* * *#COVID19

A lot of action in the charts today. On the word “mild.” To me, “mild” means “status quo,” i.e. “We’re enduring the present situation, and what is to come will be no worse.” Well, the present situation, whether you look at cases, deaths, or hospitalizations — isn’t mild at all. In a civilized country, 812,205 deaths — we lost 750,000 in the Civil War — would be regarded as a catastrophe. Yet we soldier on. It’s weird. I don’t understand the mass psychology at all.

Vaccination by region:

Jumpy. More data problems? (I have also not said, because it’s too obvious, that if by Bubba

Read More »

2:00PM Water Cooler 12/7/2021

December 7, 2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Patient, patient readers, my post on containers took longer than I estimated. I’ll make it up to you over the rest of the week, I swear! At least today, I will have progressed from skeletal to merely emaciated. –lambert.
Bird Song of the Day

Chatty! I wonder if they scolded Darwin!
* * *
#COVID19

Vaccination by region:

Data rollercoaster! (I have also not said, because it’s too obvious, that if by Bubba we mean The South, then Bubba has done pretty well on vax.)
60% of the US is fully (doubly) vaccinated (CDC data, as of December 6. We have broken the important 60% psychological barrier! Mediocre by world standards, being just below Estonia, and just above Taiwan in the Financial Times league tables as of this Monday). No change from last week, but I

Read More »

The Romance of Shipping Containers

December 7, 2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
We’ve been reading a lot about shipping containers being “strewn about” Southern California because of congestion at the Port of Los Angeles, so I set out to learn a little bit more about them (not for housing purposes). As it turns out, shipping containers embody two subjects I really enjpy: Transportation, and international standards. (Most of the general knowledge in this post, such as it is, is taken from Marc Levinson, The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger, a solid business history I bought a couple years ago and never got round to reading).
As transportation, container shipping is as global as it gets. Here is an image of the “CSC plate” (Convention for Safe Containers), which must be attached to every

Read More »

Gravel or Green: What Will Become of Alaska’s Coastal Plain?

December 7, 2021

By Jonathan C. Slaght, who works for the Arctic Beringia Program of WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society). He is the author of “Owls of the Eastern Ice,” which won the 2021 PEN/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award, was named a New York Times Notable Book of 2020, and was long-listed for the National Book Award in Nonfiction. Originally published at Undark.
Life on the coastal plain of Alaska exists on a scale difficult to capture. It’s a wild place where herds of caribou move around wolves and bears in wide arcs, musk oxen graze among dwarf willows, and gyrfalcons search the terrain for waterbirds. The tundra ground cover — a thick mat of damp, stunted vegetation — has sat atop the permafrost that’s existed since at least the last ice age.
Conspicuous clusters of bright metal

Read More »

Links 12/7/2021

December 7, 2021

Who’s Killing the Grizzlies of Fremont County? WaPo
How the Pandemic Changed the Terms of Investment John Authers, Bloomberg
Bitcoin’s weekend tumble hints at Wall Street traders’ growing sway FT
Climate

USA TODAY investigation reveals a stunning shift in the way rain falls in America USA Today. Important.
Beings Seen and Unseen (interview) Amitav Ghosh, Emergence Magazine
We Can’t Have Our Climate Cake And Eat It Too Indi.ca
Creating a Better Leaf Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker
#COVID19

Tshwane District Omicron Variant Patient Profile – Early Features South African Medical Research Council. From Gauteng.
Probable Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 Omicron Variant in Quarantine Hotel, Hong Kong, China, November 2021 (research letter) CDC, Emerging Infectious Diseases. From the body:
The only

Read More »

The PR Industry Has Been a ‘Major’ But ‘Overlooked’ Influence in Climate Politics for Decades, Says Study

December 7, 2021

By Nick Cunningham, an independent journalist covering the oil and gas industry, climate change and international politics. Originally published at DeSmog.
From coining “clean coal” to “carbon footprint,” public relations firms have been instrumental in shaping the public discourse around climate and energy policy, and as a new study underlines, their powerful efforts have flown under the radar for too long.
PR firms have played a key role in obstructing action on climate change over the past 30 years, engaging in PR campaigns on behalf of the fossil fuel industry to not only downplay the seriousness of climate change, but also to position industry-favored solutions as the preferred course of action. 
A new peer-reviewed study, published in Climatic Change on November 30 by Robert J.

Read More »

2:00PM Water Cooler 12/6/2021

December 6, 2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Patient readers, I was not able to pull off my yellow waders in time, so this is a skeletal Water Cooler, with only the standing elements. Otherwise, talk amongst yourselves! –lambert
Bird Song of the Day

I’m really having fun with these finches; there are so many! No doubt Darwin had the same feeling, a thousand times more intensely!
* * *
#COVID19

Vaccination by region:

Big rebound. Still chugging along. (I have also not said, because it’s too obvious, that if by Bubba we mean The South, then Bubba has done pretty well on vax.)
59.6% of the US is fully (doubly) vaccinated (CDC data, as of December 2. Mediocre by world standards, being just below Estonia, and just above Taiwan in the Financial Times league tables as of this Monday). No change from

Read More »

Biden’s Faltering Speech on His Covid “Winter Plan”

December 6, 2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Patient readers, sorry for the formatting issues. I actually had my chair collapse under me, and aside from the shock, I needed to do some re-arranging of desk, cables, etc. I hope all is well now. –lambert
President Biden gave a speech on December 2 at the National Institutes of Health — Walensky’s nose must be out of joint — on his “Winter Plan” for Covid. The speech (transcript) seems already to have sunk beneath the waves of Omicron coverage, but I thought I’d pull on my yellow waders again and go through it. Get ready!
I used the word “faltering” in the headline, in three senses. First, as policy: The Adminstration seems to have, as it were, “lost a step” in dealing with Covid; we have a policy of “Vax Only” and some relatively minor and not especially

Read More »

Links 12/6/2021

December 6, 2021

Maryland homeowner burned down house trying to fight snakes WTOP
‘Metaverse’ hype fuels booming digital property market Agence France Presse (Furzy Mouse).
The Internet’s Casino Boats Stephen Diehl
John Rolle, the Bahamian Banking Pioneer Bloomberg
China’s Yutu 2 rover spots cube-shaped ‘mystery hut’ on far side of the moon Space.com
Private space stations are coming. Will they be better than their predecessors? The Conversation
Climate

Geography class: La Niña expected to intensify global rain and drought after second consecutive year FT
How heat waves warp ecosystems High Country News
Gambling ‘America’s Amazon’ CNN
Humans Are Doomed to Go Extinct Scientific American
Why Are There So Many Kinds of Phytoplankton? Hakai Magazine
#COVID19

Many Omikron cases after Christmas lunch and

Read More »