When You Reward Reckless Banking, You Get More Reckless Bankers

Adam Levitin says, “The new Fed facility allows banks to borrow against their Treasuries and agencies at par, not at market value. That’s a way of extending support to banks that have failed at Banking 101 and mismanaged their interest rate risk.” In other words, the government is subsidizing bankers who were so incompetent they didn’t come up with a system to deal with the Fed increasing interest rates, even though increasing interest rates is a normal thing which sometimes happens.

I urge you to read Adam Levitin’s full blog post.

Basically, the government is loaning money to Silicon Valley Bank based on the nominal value of the bank’s treasures, not the real market value. Imagine that a house burned down, but instead of borrowing against the market value of a plot of land with a burned-down structure, someone let you borrow against the value the property had before the fire. That’s what’s going on here. No reasonable financial actor would let someone put a burned-out house as collateral as if it had the value of an intact house—they would only do so as a subsidy. The government claims this isn’t really a ‘bailout,’ that taxpayers aren’t paying for it. Narrowly true in the sense that taxpayers won’t pay through taxes. Instead, the funding for the ‘bailout’ will come from payments made by banks (including the responsible banks which are well-managed), and the banks will pay for this by charging their customers more money. We’re going to pay the taxes to the bank rather than the government.

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I’m Confused About What’s Going on With Covid

Time Sensitive: If you live in California, Oregon, or Washington, and want to keep the mask mandate in healthcare settings, you can participate in West Coast Covid Action. (I know that some people in healthcare settings who wear masks now would stop wearing them in the absence of a mandate, and that this change would cause some deaths and disability from long covid which would otherwise not happen, and thus it’s worth fighting to keep the mandate, but given how hard it is already to find a set of doctors and nurses who follow the mask rules, not to mention that they often use leaky masks instead of respirators, I admit I’m dispirited about this).


In this blog post, I said, “It’s possible that the last wave is over… but I won’t believe it until we go through a winter with low death and low hospitalization rates.”

Well, winter is almost over.

I didn’t define what I considered to be ‘low.’ I think what I anticipated was either a surge (like the Omicron wave in the winter of 2021/2022) or, if that didn’t happen, a clear decreasing trend. I can tell you I didn’t expect the plateau in covid deaths we’ve had for months (a plateau visible in both official covid death counts and excess deaths).

Since I didn’t anticipate this plateau, I lack ready explanations. I’m confused.

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Covid Infection Isn’t Inevitable

About a month ago, I got the result from my covid nucleocapsid antibody test: negative. The lab couldn’t detect any nucleocapsid antibodies in my blood.

The covid vaccines available in the United States don’t trigger the production of covid nucleocapsid antibodies, so the only people who have them are those who got certain vaccines available elsewhere or who’ve had at least one covid infection.

Nucleocapsid antibodies wane over time, but according to this study, 92.6% of people still have nucleocapsid antibodies 400 days after a documented covid infection. Thus it’s a reliable measure of whether I’ve been infected within the twelve months prior to the test (excluding the most recent month, since it sometimes takes 30 days for n-antibodies to reach detectable levels).

Yes, a false negative is possible, but I believe this is a true negative, and that didn’t have a single covid infection in the calendar year of 2022, the year of omicron. My respiratory health had been excellent all year, and whenever I had the slightest suspicion of a covid infection, I got tested (all my rapid antigen and PCR tests came back negative).

It IS possible to evade covid.

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If We’re Talking about Bowdlerizing Roald Dahl, Why Not Talk about Danny, Champion of the World?

In case you don’t know, the new UK editions of some Roald Dahl books have some new edits suggested by sensitivity readers.

What I find most remarkable is that nobody has mentioned Danny, Champion of the World. Nowadays Danny is far less known than Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, The Witches, etc. Danny is the only Roald Dahl book I’ve read as an adult, so though I’m not sure if it’s as good as the more popular Dahl books, I assert it’s a well-written children’s book which can delight people of all ages, except…

… except Danny glorifies poaching.

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Abandoned Mausoleums as a Metaphor for Not Thinking About the Future

Last week, I watched JPVideos’ YouTube series about the abandoned Good Shepherd Mausoleum. The short version of the story is: the previous owner claims someone forged a check to steal all the money in the perpetual care fund and that because of his health problems he couldn’t fix the leaky roof, then he died, nobody paid property taxes for a few years so the local government sold the property through a tax auction in 2005, the new owners claimed they had no idea it was a mausoleum and cemetery when they bought it, they didn’t repair the roof, in 2010 they stopped paying property taxes, the overhang began collapsing which made it dangerous to access some of the crypts, water got in through the roof, so much mold grew inside the mausoleum that it was dangerous to breathe, in 2015 the local government condemned the building, every year the building falls deeper into disrepair, it’s only a matter of time until it collapses with the caskets inside.

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I’d Choose the Future

Many years ago, I saw a comment on The Archdruid Report from a teacher at an upscale private school. They’d done a class exercise where students had to answer which time period they’d want to go to if possible and why. The most popular answer was that they wanted to live in the 1960s. The teacher then pointed out they didn’t have to go to the past, they could also choose to go to the future. None of the students wanted that. These were upper-middle class students in the United States, and even they didn’t believe they had a future better than the 1960s to look forward to.

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Two Thoughts on Pandemics and the “Livestock Industry”

First, a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report states that ‘coronavirus’ aid in 2020 and 2021 overpaid many agricultural producers, especially for ‘livestock’ and grains (most of which feed livestock, not humans).

For decades, tons of government subsidies have enriched “farmers” (I put this in quotation marks because many of the biggest payments go to people who have little to do with farming in their everyday lives), and the way it’s structured, most of the subsidies go to livestock and plants to feed livestock, not plants grown to feed people.

Of course, the coronavirus aid packages were corrupt as hell beyond agriculture (notice the airlines who took the aid money, laid off their workers, then spent the money on share buybacks to juice their stock prices). Much more money went into these corrupt deals than the $2000 checks sent to ordinary people.

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About That 36-Year-Old Woman Who Was Healthy Until Covid Gave Her Heart Failure

I have so much to say about this news story that it became this blog post.

For those who don’t want to read the entire article, the tl;dr is: Jamie Waddell, a healthy vaccinated-and-boosted 36-year-old woman, got covid-19, recovered, then got heart failure so severe they put her on a heart transplant list, then recovered from that too.

Why Didn’t The Urgent Care Clinic Test Her for Troponins?

From the article:

Two days later, she was coughing and achy and asked her doctor for a chest X-ray, which came back normal. She called off work two days and went to her local urgent care clinic. She did not test positive for COVID-19 or flu.

“My vital signs at that visit were a little off. My heart rate was a little high. I had a fever,” she recalls. “I came home and basically went to sleep.”


Given that she had myocarditis, a troponin test at this point would’ve come back positive. Then the doctors would’ve known that she had a heart injury, and she needed treatment. Good treatment at this point in time would’ve slowed or perhaps stopped the progression of her heart failure, and she wouldn’t have needed such intense life support.

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Many Doctors Care More About Their Egos Than Saving Lives

State of the Heart by Haider Warraich ends with these words:

This means that if science continues to advance, perhaps half this book will one day be proven false. Perhaps one day, a historian will cite these words snidely to reflect how ignorant we were and how far we have come since. That thought gives me a lot of joy, and the sooner we can break the untouchable idols of today, the sooner we can strip the masters of dogma, the sooner we can focus on the sum of our organs.

Being proven wrong about his scientific understanding may make Warraich joyful, but many other people in a position of power in medicine and public health would rather cause many deaths than admit mistakes.

History is full of examples. Take for example, Ignaz Semmelweis, who found evidence that washing hands before helping women give birth greatly reduced deaths.

That said, it was Dr. Semmelweis who ordered his medical students and junior physicians to wash their hands in a chlorinated lime solution until the smell of the putrid bodies they dissected in the autopsy suite was no longer detectable. Soon after instituting this protocol in 1847, the mortality rates on the doctor-dominated obstetrics service plummeted.

“In 1850, Ignaz Semmelweis saved lives with three words: wash your hands” by Dr. Howard Markel, PBS News Hour

Did other obstetricians rejoice because they had a simple method to increase the survival rate of their patients? Nope.

Unfortunately, Semmelweis’s ideas were not accepted by all of his colleagues. Indeed, many were outraged at the suggestion that they were the cause of their patients’ miserable deaths.

The same thing happened in the United States when Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. advocated that doctors wash their hands.

These “doctors” didn’t care about evidence or saving lives. Or at least, they cared less about that than the insults about their unwashed hands’ uncleanliness. To them, it was better than more of their patients die painful deaths than that they go through the inconvenience of washing their hands.

You might also know about the story of John Snow and cholera.

Warraich describes an example prioritizing their egos over following evidence or saving lives I hadn’t heard of before.

In the early 20th century, doctors regarded high blood pressure as a good thing. Some believed it was an effect of aging with no bearing on health, others believed that the higher the blood pressure, the better.

I can say two things in defense of doctors in the very early 20th century: nobody had collected evidence that high blood pressure is dangerous, and the only method they had to reduce blood pressure was extreme salt restrictions.

Then someone gathered and published evidence that high blood pressure is deadly: life insurance companies.

In 1925, the Actuarial Society of America published a report which noted a correlation between high blood pressure and earlier death. While doctors were dismissing the need for blood pressure readings, life insurance companies pushed to have it measured and factored into their policies.

The doctors and scientists ignored this.

In various parts of the book, Warraich describes the various pressures to conform to authority and hierarchy in science and medicine. In a top-down hierarchy, you get ahead by pleasing the people of higher rank. Saving many lives might impress the people of higher status, but a more reliable means to get ahead is to flatter them and not embarrass them. It’s safe to agree with the medical authorities even when they’re wrong, but it’s risky to point out their errors.

Life insurance companies are predictive markets of human death. They bet they can collect more money from living customers than money they spend on the dead. When their bets are accurate, they make money. When their bets are inaccurate, they lose money. Given a choice between conforming to people of high status in medical and scientific hierarchies and understanding reality, they choose to understand reality.

Then the Framingham study began in 1947. It tracked the lives of people in the town of Framingham, Massachusetts to better understand human illness and health. Warraich says, “when the Framingham study was threatened with its funding being cut, life insurance companies helped bail it out, seeing how important the actuarial benefits of the study were.”

The first report published on the Framingham study showed a strong correlation between high blood pressure and heart attacks, as well as high blood pressure and strokes.

Warraich says:

The Framingham study investigators thought their job was done after they began publishing their landmark findings but quickly realized they had run into a wall—that wall was their fellow physicians. The overwhelmingly strong data they had generated failed to change the practice of either the most preeminent doctors of their time or those running mom-and-pop-style clinics in the country. And all this time, people continued to die of untreated high blood pressure by the millions—after the Second World War, every other person died in part due to hypertension. Even in the 1970s, when some medical textbooks started to recognize the importance of blood pressure, they focused on the lower number, the diastolic blood pressure, even as the Framingham investigators continued to show that it was the systolic blood pressure that mattered a lot more. Yet it wasn’t until the 1980s and 1990s, after large clinical trials proved them right, that the medical community fully embraced the findings from Framingham that had been published sequentially over many decades and had long before been supported by the life insurance companies.

(I hope to write a post about what life insurance companies say about Covid-19. Until then, the tl;dr is that life insurance companies are still uncertain about how to adjust their policies.)

To be fair to the doctors of the 1950s and 1960s, they had no way to safely reduce blood pressure other than restricting salt. The first reliable medication for reducing blood pressure was discovered in 1975—though perhaps if scientists had taken blood pressure more seriously, the medication would’ve been discovered sooner (it came from pit viper venom of all places—the viper’s bite causes victims’ blood pressure to drop so low they faint, but a small dose of a chemical in the venom only causes a small decrease in blood pressure).

Today, we have Dr. Anthony Leonardi. Do I believe Dr. Leonardi is 100% correct? No, because scientists are rarely 100% correct. Dr. Leonardi himself would probably admit that he can make mistakes. However, he has predicted the course of the covid-19 pandemic more accurately than the ‘experts’ who claimed that an infection would grant lasting immunity, then claimed that the first generation vaccines would end the pandemic, then claimed hybrid immunity would end the pandemic. In predictions about the future of the covid-19, I think Leonardi is more likely to be right than the WHO or the CDC.

Contemplating this history gives me another perspective on the healthcare workers of today who refuse to wear masks, even around vulnerable patients indoors.

Or maybe, the healthcare workers who refuse to mask even when their patients beg them too has given me a new perspective on the obstetricians in the mid-19th century who, even after encountering Semmelweis’ evidence that handwashing saves lives, continued to touch women in childbirth with unwashed hands.

I Shouldn’t Have Heart Disease. Why Me?

Before the weirdness in my chest began, it never occurred to me that I could have heart disease. Sure, in the vague future perhaps, but not anytime soon. I’m physically active, eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, I don’t eat animal fats, I’m a woman under the age of 40.

(I eat a lot of coconut fat and, until recently, plenty of sodium too, but I have reformed my sodium-eating ways, and I’m not sure coconut fat is a problem, I’m a good girl now).

My chest sensations made me seek more information, which led me to the books The Exquisite Machine by Sian Harding and State of the Heart by Haider Warraich.

Both books confirm that heart disease can happen to anyone with a heart.

Yes, I’m at ‘lower risk’ than many other people. It’s just that—lower risk. Not zero risk.

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