Saturday , October 31 2020
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Lambert Strether

Lambert Strether



Articles by Lambert Strether

2:00PM Water Cooler 10/30/2020

16 hours ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Bird Song of the Day

#COVID19
At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart from 91-DIVOC. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site.
Here are the United States regions:

No sign of relief, sadly….
Here are the Swing States as I conceive them (see below):

Ditto….
Politics
“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51
“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune
“They had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.” –Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord
The electoral map. July 17: Georgia, Ohio, ME-2 move from Leans Republican to Toss-up. Continued yikes. On July 7, the tossup were 86. Only July 17, they were 56. Now they are 91. This puts

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Links 10/30/2020

23 hours ago

How dogs tracked their humans across the ancient world Science
And Now, a Sinkhole Full of Rats New York Magazine. Very on-brand for 2020.
Too few companies disclose financial hit from climate change, regulator says Reuters
Big Tech shows its resilience to pandemic and politics FT
M.T.A. Slashes in Service Could Erase 450,000 Jobs NYT
Zeta leaves over 2.1 million customers without power and at least 6 dead after battering Gulf Coast CNN
Authorities Urge Orange County Residents To Stop Building Additions Onto Homes Currently On Fire The Onion
#COVID19

A room, a bar and a classroom: how the coronavirus is spread through the air El Pais (DJ). See also COVID-19 Airborne Transmission Tool Available Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado

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Biden at Gettysburg and Lincoln’s Second Inaugural: Division and Unity

2 days ago

Biden at Gettysburg[1]: The very definition of bathos? We shall see. (Biden has now given a speech in Warm Springs, GA, FDR’s personal retreat. I suppose I shall have read his homage to FDR too, and find the appropriate speech to compare it to, but not today.) Unfortunately, I don’t have the energy to pull on my yellow waders and do a close reading of Biden’s speech; instead, since Biden explicitly invokes Lincoln’s Second Inaugural (“With malice toward none”), I will compare Biden to Lincoln on the nature and causes of “division,” and how to achieve division’s opposite, “unity.” I’m not sure comparing Biden to Lincoln is entirely fair, but Biden brought it on himself.
First, the nature and causes of “division” in the Civil War[2]. In the Second Inaugural, Lincoln says:

[A]ll thoughts

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2:00PM Water Cooler 10/29/2020

2 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Bird Song of the Day

So that is a thrush!
#COVID19
At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart from 91-DIVOC. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site.
Here are the United States regions:

No sign of relief, sadly. (I don’t know what other strongly regional countries look like, but the first of our three stairsteps was in the Northeast, the second in the South, and to a lesser extent the West, and the third… everywhere. This pattern merits explanation, and I’m not sure I’ve seen it. Readers? Whatever our problems may be, we’re great at natural experiments!
Here are the Swing States as I conceive them (see below):

No changes.
“Trump’s path to victory narrows as Covid cases surge in Midwest” [Financial Times].
Here are positivity and

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Fourteen of My Favorite Flowers

6 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
The news is a bit much to process, even for me, so I thought I’d do something completely different. I keep saying, of the plants that readers send in, “This is my favorite flower!” So here are fourteen. (The images I gathered over the web; they are not from my own garden[1], or from readers, sadly, because my file-naming convention for plant images is not sufficiently robust, dang.) In alphabetical order:
Bee Balm (via).

Bee balm is a terrific perennial, because its bright red color attracts hummingbirds; indeed, if I wear a red shirt or sweater, the hummingbirds dive bomb me! In one of the few true plant facts I have retained, its square stem means it belongs to the mint family. Bee balm grows in clumps that are easy to break up and transplant, so you

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Links 10/25/2020

6 days ago

Jellies Transfer a Significant Amount of Carbon to the Deep Ocean EOS
Mediocre SPAC Returns Shouldn’t Be a Surprise Barry Ritholtz, Bloomberg. Special-Purpose Acquisition Vehicle. They call it a “vehicle” because it’s designed to drive off with your money.
#COVID19

Has Covid killed off the flu? Experts pose the intriguing question as influenza cases nosedive by 98% across the globe Daily Mail
Covid traces located in Samut Prakan Bangkok Post. “The Department of Disease Control (DDC) yesterday said health authorities found the Covid-19 virus on the surface of an exercise fitness machine at a gym room of a quarantine place in Samut Prakan where a French woman who contracted the disease stayed.” Not an iron-clad case of fomite transmission without DNA analysis. Nevertheless.
* * *
Host

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Shipwrecked by Rents

6 days ago

Lambert here: Sounds like code bloat.
By Fernando Arteaga, Postdoctoral Fellow, Economics Department, University of Pennsylvania, Desiree Desierto, Affiliate Faculty, George Mason University, and Mark Koyama, Associate Professor in Economics, George Mason University. Originally published at VoxEU.
The Spanish Crown had a monopoly on the trade route between Manila and Mexico for more than 250 years. The ships that sailed this route were “the richest ships in all the oceans”, but much of the wealth sank at sea and remain undiscovered. This column uses a newly constructed dataset of all of the ships that travelled the route to show how monopoly rents that allowed widespread bribe-taking would have led to overloading and late ship departure, thereby increasing the probability of shipwreck. Not

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Links 10/24/2020

7 days ago

First Asian giant hornet nest in US found in Whatcom County to be eradicated this weekend King5
A Chasm Deepens in America’s Credit Markets, Swallowing Smaller Firms Bloomberg. You say “swallowing smaller firms” like that’s a bad thing.
Wells Fargo May Deprive Investors Of Its Peerless Service And Customer Care Dealbreaker
Virtual branch concept making inroads in U.S. American Banker
When Going Green Backfires: Eco-Friendly Car Wiring in Newer Cars Apparently Attracts Rats Core77 (Re Silc).
It’s Official: Solar Is the Cheapest Electricity in History Popular Mechanics (Re Silc).
#COVID19

How Straight Talk Helped One State Control COVID (interview) Scientific American. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control. Today’s must read.
The engines of SARS-CoV-2 spread Science.

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2:00PM Water Cooler 10/23/2020

8 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Bird Song of the Day

Raucus! Alert reader Rod writes:

I have so enjoyed your inclusion of bird voices as an intro to Water Cooler–and find it centering before reading on. thanks for bringing it onboard.Black Capped have a cousin that was noticed here first–so we call it the Carolina Chickadee. Its a regional voice being sweeter and more melodic, imo. Also a bit more petit, though often carouses with the BCs.
The voice graph makes an interesting comparison of the two.
It worked for Robert J. Lurtsema….
#COVID19
At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart from 91-DIVOC. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site.
Here are the United States regions:

Still rising, if anthing faster. Gonna be interesting to see what happens if the virus is

Read More »

Links 10/23/2020

8 days ago

Starlings in the Scottish skies Reuters (Re Silc). A murmuration.
Rescued endangered Loa water frogs have 200 offspring BBC
How The Bankruptcy Code Protects Lenders And Harms Student Debtors — And What One Lawyer Is Doing About It Above the Law
Digital Money Across Borders: Macro-Financial Implications International Monetary Fund
Got any signal up here? Nokia to build mobile network on the moon Reuters
#COVID19

Convalescent plasma in the management of moderate covid-19 in adults in India: open label phase II multicentre randomised controlled trial (PLACID Trial) British Medical Journal. Conclusion: “Convalescent plasma was not associated with a reduction in progression to severe covid-19 or all cause mortality. This trial has high generalisability and approximates convalescent plasma use

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Live Blog: Presidential Primary Debate #2 in Nashville, TN

8 days ago

Time: 9:00PM-10:30PM Eastern Time (with no commercial breaks. The TV coverage started at 7PM, but I figured we could skip that).
Place: Belmont University, Nashville, Tennessee
Host: Commission on Presidential Debates (a non-profit controlled by the two parties)=
Moderator: Kristen Welker, White House correspondent, NBC News
Candidate line-up:
Donald Trump (President of the United States)Joe Biden (former Vice President of the United States)
Topics, fifteen minutes each:
Fighting COVID-19American FamiliesRace in AmericaClimate ChangeNational SecurityLeadership
How to watch:
The debate will air live on CNN, CNN en Español and CNN International.It will stream live in its entirety, without requiring log-in to a cable provider, on CNN.com’s homepage, across mobile devices via CNN’s apps for

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2:00PM Water Cooler 10/22/2020

9 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Patient readers, I just spent 45 minutes fighting to get iOS Apple Mail on my iPad to send me my own mail. Needless to say, this is time I do not have. (Apple’s crapified mailer sends mail reliably for some days, then starts refusing to send it, complaining that the password is wrong — in which case it would not have been able to send the previous mail. Restarting the app doesn’t do anything, but restarting the iPad works, so I go through a cycle of sending the mail thats stuck in the Outbox manually, restarting the iPad, rinse, repeat. (I’ve tried various shrew paths of approving settings, turning the VPN on and off, restarting the app, but nothing takes.) Can anyone recommend a reliable and hopefully free iOS mailer with this key requirement: I need it to

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Will There Be a Second Dust Bowl? And What Happened to the Topsoil From the First One?

10 days ago

A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself –Franklin Delano Roosevelt
By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Will the Great Plains once again looks like they’re part of a world imagined by dystopian futurist Simon Stålenhag?

Let’s hope not. Unfortunately, this picture (taken at John Martin State Park in Colorado) suggests otherwise:

Of course, that’s just one photograph. In the “Dirty Thirties,” there were many photos like this one, taken in the Texas Panhandle under FDR’s Farm Security Administration:

So will there be a second Dust Bowl? In this post, I’ll first look at a study that suggests there might be (although nobody says we are there yet). Then, I’ll look at the implications of a second Dust Bowl, including the prospect of desertification, and what happened the topsoil lost in

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2:00PM Water Cooler 10/21/2020

10 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Patient reader, this Water Cooler is a bit light, because I have more posting to do. –lambert UPDATE All done!
Bird Song of the Day

A robin, and lots of other chatter.
#COVID19
At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart from 91-DIVOC. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site.

Here are the United States regions:

Still rising, if anthing faster. Gonna be interesting to see what happens if the virus is really cranking in November or December, and the FDA says a vaccine is ready…
Here are the Swing States as I conceive them (see below):

Unmistakable rise everywhere. Including Texas, which alas seems to have straightened out its data problem, in the past few days.
Politics
“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all

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COVID Testing and Contact Tracing in RI, the UK, and NYC: a Personal Anecdote/Saga

10 days ago

Lambert here: Long-time alert reader AM threw the following over the transom. She describes the experiences she and her husband had with rapid testing, a false positive, a negative test, and tracking futility and box checking in Rhode Island, the UK, and New York City. Needless to say, it looks to me like our pandemic infrastructure has a ways to go. Readers, have you had similar experiences that you would like to share?
Our story starts in Providence, Rhode Island…
* * *
Here is the sequence of events:
We decide to go ahead with a trip to Scotland in the first two weeks of October (postponed from May). We are going to be in the countryside in a vacation rental property with no one else and plan to play some golf and do other socially distant activities. No plans to meet anyone there, so

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Links 10/21/2020

10 days ago

Behind prison walls, cats and inmates rehabilitate each other through animal care program Indianapolis Star
The gut microbiome defines social group membership in honey bee colonies Nature
What Sharks Can Teach Us About Survivorship Bias Farnam Street
Travis Kalanick Finds New Industry To Put Out Of Business Dealbreaker
Everything’s Too Expensive and Nothing Can Be Done John Authers, Bloomberg
Google antitrust case backed by rare Washington consensus FT and US antitrust case accuses Google of strangling competition FT
Google execs urge employees to keep their heads down amid DOJ’s antitrust lawsuit CNBC
Antitrust as Economic Stimulus Pro-Market. The editor truncated the original headline: antitrust-as-economic-stimulus-competition-help-workers.
California may replace cash bail with

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UVA Health Still Squeezing Money From Patients — By Seizing Their Home Equity

10 days ago

Lambert here: Medicaid can’t seize your home (see NC here and here) if the University of Virginia already has. So there’s a bright side (and I wonder how many other health care systems are doing just what UVa is doing. In fact, there are probably consultants with PowerPoint decks out there right now, explaining how to do it).
By Jay Hancock, Kaiser Health News. Originally published at Kaiser Health News.
Doris Hutchinson wanted to use money from the sale of her late mother’s house to help her grandchildren go to college.
Then she learned the University of Virginia Health System was taking $38,000 of the proceeds because a 13-year-old medical bill owed by her deceased brother had somehow turned into a lien on the property.
“It was a mess,” she said. “There are bills I could pay with that

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The Fed’s New Policy Framework: A Major Improvement But More Can Be Done

10 days ago

Lambert here: “[A] scenario that seems empirically relevant,” from the introduction, is dry. Very dry.
By Gauti Eggertsson, Professor of Economics, Brown University, Sergey Egiev, PhD candidate in Economics, Brown University, Alessandro Lin, Josef Platzer, PhD candidate in Economics, Brown University, Luca Riva, Ph.D. Candidate in Economics, Brown University. Originally published at VoxEU.
The Federal Reserve has recently announced a new policy strategy of average inflation targeting. The column argues that while this is unambiguously a positive step, it may not – under all circumstances – subscribe to a sufficiently aggressive make-up strategy when the zero lower bound is binding. This is particularly likely to be the case if episodes of high unemployment are not associated with material

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2:00PM Water Cooler 10/20/2020

11 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Bird Song of the Day

Really sounds like sunny, open field, with insects in the background…
#COVID19
At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart from 91-DIVOC. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site.

Here are the United States regions:

Still rising, if anthing faster. Gonna be interesting to see what happens if the virus is really cranking in November or December, and the FDA says a vaccine is ready…
Here are the Swing States as I conceive them (see below):

Unmistakable rise everywhere. Including Texas, which alas seems to have straightened out its data problem, in the past few days.
Here is the case fatality rate for the regions, the Northeast (yellow), Midwest (blue), West (red), and South (green):

I track confirmed cases,

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Paul Romer Comes Out Against Contact Tracing in the United States (which Biden Supports)

12 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
I had been intending to write a post on lesser-evilism, but then I saw the tweet storm from Paul Romer that follows, and I thought I should but it before you immediately. (However, if we have any philosphers or theologians in the readership who are familiar with the problem of evil, especially institutional evil, I’d love to hear them.) Paul Romer is an economist that NC can actually appreicate; hard to believe, I know, especiallly because Romer won a “Nobel,” and was formerly chief economist at the World Bank. Nevertheless, Romer (with co-author George Akerlof, here, here, and here) wrote the paper (“Looting: The Economic Underworld of Bankruptcy for Profit“) that Yves calls “seminal’ to understanding “who wins no matter what” in our “current hypertrophied

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2:00PM Water Cooler 10/19/2020

12 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Bird Song of the Day

For a change of pace, here’s a bird flapping (in this case, a vulture. Only two weeks ’til the election…).
#COVID19
At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart from 91-DIVOC. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site.

Here are the United States regions:

Unmistakable rise in all regions now, including the Northeast. Ugh. Super-ugh. Gonna be interesting to see what happens if the virus is really cranking in November or December, and the FDA says a vaccine is ready…
Here are the Swing States as I conceive them (see below):

Unmistakable rise everywhere. Including Texas, which alas seems to have straightened out its data problem, in the past few days.

–>

College: “Off-campus “super-spreader” event linked to 125

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“Fiscal Cliffication” Continues as the Election Looms

12 days ago

By Nathan Tankus. Originally published at Notes on the Crises
I haven’t written in detail about the prospects of a congressional fiscal package since the beginning of August. Since we’re two weeks out from an election, this seems important to revisit. Long time readers will remember that I’ve been an aggressive advocate of large fiscal support to the economy so that there weren’t major income and financial impacts from having to quarantine. As the prospects of a new deal become more remote, I added my voice to the larger calls for a new package. I’ve outlined the damage that could be inflicted by not having a deal. I ended this run of articles with a piece in the Guardian warning against the terrible prospect of congress passing another fiscal deal. And especially not extending the

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Links 10/17/2020

14 days ago

Could Schrödinger’s cat exist in real life? Our research may soon provide the answer The Conversation
Federal Reserve debates tougher regulation to prevent asset bubbles FT
Solar power could be ‘the new king’ as global electricity demand grows CNN
California’s Boom Collapses as Fires Add $1.1 Billion Toll Bloomberg
Court allows Exide to abandon a toxic site in Vernon. Taxpayers will fund the cleanup LA Times
Fiscal Monitor Database of Country Fiscal Measures in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic International Monetary Fund. Big variations:

Virtually every country in the world has responded to the corona shock with fiscal policy. But even within EM world there are HUGE differences in the capacity & willingness to respond btw, for instance, India/Mexico and

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2:00PM Water Cooler 10/16/2020

15 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Bird Song of the Day

Might as well end the week on a note of song…
#COVID19
At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart from 91-DIVOC. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site.

Here are the United States regions:

Unmistakable rise in all regions now, including the Northeast. Ugh. Super-ugh. Gonna be interesting to see what happens if the virus is really cranking in November or December, and the FDA says a vaccine is ready…
“U.S. Virus Cases Climb Toward a Third Peak” [New York Times]. • From earlier this week, but readers who follow these charts will remember that I’ve been remarking on this, in my quiet way, since the curves first turned upwards.
Here are the Swing States as I conceive them (see below):

Unmistakable rise

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Links 10/16/2020

15 days ago

How Humans Benefit From a Highway of Trails Created by African Forest Elephants Smithsonian
Tech Companies Are Destroying Democracy and the Free Press Matt Stoller, NYT
Billionaire Robert Brockman charged in $2bn tax evasion case FT
Kill Your Gas Stove The Atlantic
We Tested OpenPilot, the $1,199 Device That Adds Entry-Level Autonomy to Your Car The Drive. Level 2.
Why I’m Glad I Left America The Atlantic (J-LS).
#COVID19

Act now, wait for perfect evidence later, says ‘high priestess’ of U.K. COVID-19 masking campaign Science. Reader will recall we flagged Dr. Trisha Greenhalgh’s work back in July.
Efficacy of face masks, neck gaiters and face shields for reducing the expulsion of simulated cough-generated aerosols medRxiv. From the Abstract: ” We used a cough aerosol simulator with a

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2:00PM Water Cooler 10/15/2020

16 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Well, it looks like I positioned myself properly with respect to the WiFi signal! –lambert
Bird Song of the Day

I had to poke around a little bit to find anything that sounded like a “gobble.” Turkeys have numerous calls?
#COVID19
At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart from 91-DIVOC. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site.

Here are the United States regions:

Unmistakable rise in all regions now, including the Northeast. Ugh. Super-ugh. Gonna be interesting to see what happens if the virus is really cranking in November or December, and the FDA says a vaccine is ready…
Here are the Swing States as I conceive them (see below):

Unmistakable rise everywhere. Including Texas, in the past few days.

–>

College: “Off-campus

Read More »

2:00PM Water Cooler 10/14/2020

17 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Patient readers, if u cm rd ths, my Internet has continued flaky. –lambert UPDATE #1 I lost about an hour before I discovered that moving my desk had screwed up my signal. More soon. Sorry, Joe. UPDATE #2 Sadly, done for the day. I had to leave much too much on the cutting room floor; who knows, maybe tomorrow my internet connection will have recovered its mojo!
Bird Song of the Day

Sadly, there is no “ornithopterae herbertii” in the Macauley Library’s collection, so I cannot meet reader ambrit’s request. I substituted a falco sparverius paulus.
#COVID19
At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart from 91-DIVOC. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site.

Here are the United States regions:

Unmistakable rise in all regions now,

Read More »

Links 10/14/2020

17 days ago

Amazon workers in Germany strike on ‘Prime Day’ Reuters
Amazon Offers New Blank Box Upcharge For Progressive Members To Discreetly Receive Prime Orders The Onion
Retail’s tick-box approach to supply chains is untenable FT
ESG Drives a Stake Through Friedman’s Legacy John Authers, Bloomberg
A fifth of countries worldwide at risk from ecosystem collapse as biodiversity declines, reveals pioneering Swiss Re index (press release) Swiss Re. Handy map:

New Maps Show How Climate Change is Making California’s “Fire Weather” Worse Pro Publica
Uber is attempting to colonize the California government Ryan Cooper, The Week
#COVID19

Genomic evidence for reinfection with SARS-CoV-2: a case study The Lancet. From the Findings: “The patient had two positive tests for SARS-CoV-2, the first on April 18,

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2:00PM Water Cooler 10/13/2020

18 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Bird Song of the Day

A Yellow-rumped Warblers were mentioned the other day; here’s one.
#COVID19
At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart from 91-DIVOC. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site.

Here are the United States regions:

Unmistakable rise in all regions now, including the Northeast. Ugh. Super-ugh. Gonna be interesting to see what happens if the virus is really cranking in November or December, and the FDA says a vaccine is ready…
Here are the Swing States as I conceive them (see below):

Unmistakable rise everywhere…

Here are Southeast Asia and East Asia, with the United States for comparison:

Which ruling elite did better by its people?
–>

Politics
“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all

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Have the Democrats Risked Ruin by Increasing Vaccine Hesitancy in the Electorate?

19 days ago

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
A failure of Covid vaccine uptake threatens the United States with ruin. Therefore, Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s Precautionary Principle applies. Liberal Democrat election tactics have violated the Precautionary Principle by turning Trump into a demonic figure. In so doing, they may well have created “the horn effect” (the opposite of the halo effect) around the Administration’s vaccine development effort, Operation Warp Speed, thereby increasing vaccine hesitancy in the public, and risking vaccine uptake failure. That is the Abstract, now let us move on to the Discussion, starting with Taleb (and I hope I don’t cut myself juggling those sharp tools)[1].
In Taleb, et al, “The Precautionary Principle (with Application to the Genetic Modification of Organisms)”

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