2:00PM Water Cooler 4/29/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart:

The data is the John Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. I have changed to a logarithmic scale for US States and territories.

New York’s geometric growth down to 1.0 from 1.01. Yay!

* * *

See Vice, “How to Read the Coronavirus Graphs“:

Quantities that grow exponentially, when depicted on a linear scale, look like curves that bend sharply upward, with the curve getting constantly steeper. On a log scale, exponentially growing values can be depicted with straight diagonal lines.

That’s the beauty of plotting things on log scales. Plots are meant to make things easy to understand, and we humans are much more adept at understanding linear, straight-line behavior. Log plots enable us to grasp exponential behavior by transferring the complexity of constantly steepening curves into the simplicity of an exponentially increasing scale.

On a log scale, we want to constantly be making the line more and more horizontal. The general concept of “flattening” is still a good one, but it’s never going to curve down. And so what we should be looking, and hoping for is a trend toward horizontal.


“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

* * *


Biden (D)(1): The Biden campaign has signed up possibly the most disgusting email fundraiser ever, the National Democratic Training Committee (NDTC). I know, because I subscribe to them, which I recommend. They’re really entertaining! Here’s their latest:

NTDC’s mailer consultant is Mothership Strategies, and as you can see, they have a very distinctive style. From WaPo: “But its lightning-quick rise also has sparked consternation in Democratic circles, where Mothership is sometimes derided as the “M-word” because of its aggressive and sometimes misleading tactics, such as claiming in fundraising appeals that President Trump is preparing to fire the special counsel. Some critics call its approach unethical, saying the company profits off stoking fear of Trump and making the sort of exaggerated claims they associate with the president.” (You can see how Mothership was positioned to profit from, e.g., RussiaGate.) The Founders, as one might expect, worked for the DCCC. “Public records show that in the second half of 2017, all three men purchased homes worth more than $1 million each in snazzy Washington neighborhoods not far from Mothership’s offices.” Lovely people. As you can see, BIden’s mailers are an online update of the direct mail physical mailed designed to prey on elders — Biden voters skew old — by extracting multiple donations; Richard Vigurie would recognize this mail right away, especially the multiple appeals.

Biden (D)(2): “Why Have Women’s Groups Gone Dead Silent on Biden Sex-Assault Accusation?” [The Daily Beast]. “The Daily Beast contacted 10 top national pro-women organizations for this story, including Emily’s List, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and the National Organization for Women. Most organizations did not respond to a detailed request for comment about the allegation by Tara Reade, a former staff assistant in Biden’s Senate office who has accused the former vice president of forcibly penetrating her with his fingers in the early 1990s. Others replied and did not provide a statement. One prominent women’s political group cited a scheduling conflict and asked to be kept “in mind for other opportunities!” When pressed if the following day would work better, an associate said it would not, citing another scheduling conflict. The near-total lack of acknowledgement from nearly a dozen leading pro-women organizations comes as new corroboration has emerged with respect to the allegation, which the Biden campaign has categorically denied. Neither the Biden campaign nor Reade responded to requests from The Daily Beast for comment Tuesday. It also is taking place as prominent elected women in the Democratic Party rally to Biden’s side.” • Natalie Shure comments: “[R]emember all the performative outrage over Sanders saying the political arm of Planned Parenthood was “part of the establishment?” Euthanize the NGOs, say I. (This also shows that these supposedly independent organizations are in reality part of the Democrat Party.)

Biden (D)(3): “Democrats Will Have To Answer Questions About Tara Reade. The Biden Campaign Is Advising Them To Say Her Story “Did Not Happen.'” [Buzzfeed]. “The Biden campaign circulated talking points among top Democratic supporters shortly after the New York Times published a story earlier this month about the allegation by Tara Reade, a former staff assistant in Biden’s Senate office who says he assaulted her in 1993….. Biden’s campaign’s talking points say the Times story served as proof that Reade’s allegation “did not happen” — but the story did not conclude this, nor did it conclude that an assault definitively did happen.” • Oddly, the name “Anita Dunn,” top Biden advisor and Harvey Weinstein defender, does not appear.

Biden (D)(4): “Stacey Abrams on sexual assault allegation against former VP: ‘I believe Joe Biden'” [CNN]. • One has to admire Abram’s tenacity and focus.

Biden (D)(5): “Former Democratic Nominee Hillary Clinton Endorses Joe Biden” [NPR]. Clinton: “Just think of what a difference it would make right now if we had a president who not only listened to the science, put facts over fiction, but brought us together, showed the kind of compassion and caring that we need from our president, and which Joe Biden has been exemplifying throughout his entire life.”

Sanders (D)(1): “Sanders advisors form super PAC to back Biden and push him left” [Los Angeles Times]. “Announced Tuesday, the political action committee called A Future to Believe In [seems familiar] will be headed by Sanders’ longtime senior strategist Jeff Weaver and include the senator’s top aide on Latino outreach, Chuck Rocha. Also helping lead it is Tim Tagaris, a veteran of Sanders’ presidential campaigns in 2016 and 2020 who was instrumental in building his formidable fundraising operation by bringing in small but consistent donors nationwide.” • I think I just threw up a little in my mouth. And I’m not the only one:

Note the source.

Sanders (D)(2): Sanders helld an online “Thank you” meeting with supporters yesterday at IIRC 8:00PM. No media coverage, but screen shots are leaking out:

Good news, that. If anybody attended virtually, I’m sure readers would like to hear about it.

Sanders (D)(3): I haven’t had a chance to look at this, but:

Bernie should be funding strikers. At this historical ocnjuncture, as one might say. That said, DSA is said to be listed, so interesting.

Yang (D)(1): “Andrew Yang Sues Over New York’s Cancellation of Democratic Primary” [Newsweek (urblintz)]. “The lawsuit, filed on Monday, argues that Yang should be kept on the ballot as he has met all the requirements and did not ask to be removed. Yang and seven other New Yorkers who filed to serve the former candidate as delegates to the Democratic National Convention (DNC) are the plaintiffs of the suit, as well as Jonathan Herzog, a longshot contender running against Democratic New York Congressman Jerry Nadler. Yang’s removal ‘denies voters due process and denies voters the right to vote, and therefore must be invalidated removing the authority for the Defendant to take the actions complained of herein,; they wrote in the suit.” • As I understand it, there is no Constitutional right to vote. Nor do Democrat voters have any right to due process. I mean, obviously. But good for Yang anyhow.

* * *

Our Famously Free Press

“POLITICO’s reporting on President Trump and the Bank of China” [Editor’s Note, Politico]. “POLITICO published an article Friday morning on President Donald Trump’s business dealings with China. (‘Trump owes tens of millions to the Bank of China – and the loan is due soon.’… On Friday evening, POLITICO received a statement from a representative for Bank of China USA, which had not been contacted beforehand, that the bank had sold off, or securitized, its debt shortly after the 2012 deal. A spokeswoman said the bank has no current financial interest in any Trump Organization properties. We updated the body of the article to take account of the bank’s statement. The original headline was changed to ‘Trump owed tens of millions to the Bank of China.'” • Oh.

“How a Digital Ad Strategy That Helped Trump Is Being Used Against Him” [New York Times]. • A beat sweetener on Acronym which oddly, or not, fails to mention Acronym’s stellar success in denying Sanders a bounce from victory in Iowa, thereby giving Buttigieg millions of dollars in “earned media.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The Coronavirus Is Showing Members of the Professional Class That the Government Doesn’t Work for Them Either [Slate (Chris)]. “[G]overnment programs in the United States—even those supported by the purportedly pro-government party—are not designed to solve problems. Rather, they are designed to solve a given problem only to a degree—and that degree can’t require an amount of spending that would necessitate financial sacrifice on the part of high-income taxpayers. This is not a leftist conspiracy theory, but the overt position of the party’s leaders, who believe they will not be able to achieve crucial voting margins in upscale suburbs if they authorize too much taxation and spending.” • Remember Pelosi’s “Get our money’s worth comment” on UBI? I don’t know what’s come over Slate; this is a good article.

Stats Watch

At reader request, I added some business stats back in. Please give Econintersect click-throughs; they’re a good, old-school blog that covers more than stats. If anybody knows of other aggregators, please contact me at the email address below.

Home Sales: “March 2020 Pending Home Sales Crash Due To Coronavirus” [Econintersect]. “The year-over-year growth is in NEGATIVE territory. I believe the housing industry will reset due to the coronavirus – and I suspect housing will slump until a permanent fix for the pandemic is realized.”

Honey for the Bears: “Advance Estimate 1Q2020 GDP Quarter-over-Quarter Growth Now In Contraction Due To The Coronavirus” [Econintersect]. “The coronavirus lockdown is the reason for the decline – and pushed GDP into contraction. No doubt the U.S. economy is in a recession. I am not a fan of quarter-over-quarter exaggerated method of measuring GDP – but my year-over-year preferred method showed a significant decline from last quarter.”

Honey for the Bears: “April 2020 Chemical Activity Barometer Again Declines And Consistent With A Recession” [Econintersect]. “The Chemical Activity Barometer (CAB) fell 5.5 percent in April on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis following a downwardly revised 2.9 percent decline in March. On a year-over-year (Y/Y) basis, the barometer fell 7.3 percent in April.”

* * *

Real Estate: “Icahn’s ‘Beautiful Trade’ Pays Off Early With Malls Shut” [Bloomberg]. “With the Covid-19 pandemic forcing stores to remain closed, some of them aren’t paying landlord Wilmorite, a family-owned real estate developer. Wilmorite, in turn, missed about $820,000 of mortgage payments due in April, filings show…. While similar stories are unfolding across the U.S., what makes Eastview’s stand out is its role in one of Wall Street’s most closely watched trades, with billions of dollars on the line…. The $210 million loan is one of the largest in deals referenced by the CMBX 6, a derivatives index that investors use to bet on the future of brick-and-mortar retail in the country. With businesses shuttered from Maui to Maine, the CMBX has cratered…. ‘We have billions and billions of dollars on the short side of this,’ Icahn said last week in an interview with Bloomberg Television. ‘It really is a beautiful trade on a risk-reward basis.'”

Manufacturing: “Boeing to cut staff, plane output after big Q1 loss” [Agence France Presse]. “[CEO David] Calhoun said the belt-tightening was needed to maintain adequate liquidity at a time its revenues are depressed, adding that the company is ‘exploring potential government funding options’ in the wake of COVID-19. Boeing has previously called for $60 billion in government support for the US aerospace industry. Federal relief legislation includes $17 billion aimed at Boeing. Calhoun has previously balked at the idea of the US taking a stake in Boeing. The loss reflected ‘abnormal production costs’ connected to the temporary suspension of Puget Sound manufacturing operations due to COVID-19 and due to the suspension of production of the 737 MAX, which remains grounded following two deadly crashes…. ‘We have done a tremendous job of increasing our production rates and services offerings in recent years,’ Calhoun said. ‘But the sharp reduction in our demand for our products and services over the next several years simply won’t support the higher levels of output.'” ¨• Hopefully there will be money for the 737 MAX payouts…..

Mr. Market: “Gilead Virus-Drug Trial Signals Hope, and Fauci Sees ‘Good News'” [Bloomberg]. “Gilead Sciences Inc. said early results from a U.S.-government-run study showed its experimental drug to treat coronavirus helped patients recover more quickly than standard care, suggesting it could become the first effective treatment for an illness that has turned modern life inside-out…. The company issued a news release early Wednesday commenting on the study from the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases without providing details of the results. Anthony Fauci, the head of NIAID and the government’s top infectious-disease specialist, said at a White House meeting with President Donald Trump and Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards that the trial showed a significant positive effect on the virus and that the results ‘were quite good news.’ Fauci called the study the ‘first truly high-powered randomized placebo-controlled trial’ of remdesivir.”

Mr. Market: “S&P 500 clears 2,900 hurdle as drug maker Gilead says trial for coronavirus treatment has met initial goal” [MarketWatch]. “Stocks traded sharply higher Wednesday as reports that a drug manufacturer’s clinical trial for a treatment to help patients recover more quickly from the COVID-19 disease helped to offset news of a plunge in U.S. first-quarter gross domestic product…. The news helped to outweigh the bearish impact of a sharp slump in U.S. economic growth in the first quarter, gross domestic product shrinking by 4.8% on an annualized basis.” • Seems a little detached from the real economy?

Fodder for the Bulls:

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 45 Neutral (previous close: 42 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 40 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 29 at 12:44pm. Holy cow! Back to neutral?

The Biosphere

“Deadly virus turns honey bees into Trojan horses” [Science]. “Social distancing is nothing new to honey bees. When a colony is infected with the deadly Israeli acute paralysis virus (IAPV), bees are less likely to touch or feed their sick nest mates, according to a new study. But the virus appears to have an alarming counterattack: When sick bees try to enter a new colony, they do a better job of getting past the guards than uninfected bees… Honey bees are particularly vulnerable to infectious diseases: They live in crowded conditions, and they touch each other all the time. Moreover, their immune systems are weak compared with other insects. They depend instead on hygienic behaviors, such as grooming or removing sick larvae…. When Dolezal and colleagues took IAPV-infected bees and placed them outside another colony, the guards let about 30% of them enter, compared with about 15% of healthy foreign bees that were allowed in…. The researchers aren’t sure why IAPV is so successful at deceiving the guards… The sick bees were also more submissive when challenged by guards and more likely to offer them food, and those behaviors may also help them spread the disease. ”

Health Care

This is astonishing:

Half of GDP decline from the cessation of elective procedures? Can that be true? What does it say about “our economy” if it is true?

Class Warfare

“Hero” propaganda is global:

“Coronavirus Is Creating a New Class Divide That Threatens Us All” [Robert Reich, Newsweek]. “The pandemic is putting America’s deepening class divide into stark relief. Four classes are emerging. The Remotes These are professional, managerial and technical workers—an estimated 35 percent of the workforce—who are putting in long hours at their laptops. The Essentials They’re about 30 percent of workers, including nurses, home care and child care workers, farm workers, food processors, truck drivers, warehouse and transit workers, drug store employees, sanitation workers, police officers, fire fighters and the military. The Unpaid They’re an even larger group than the unemployed—whose ranks could soon reach 25 percent, the same as in the Great Depression. Some of the unpaid are furloughed or have used up their paid leave. The Forgotten This group includes everyone for whom social distancing is nearly impossible because they’re packed tightly into places most Americans don’t see—prisons, jails for undocumented immigrants, camps for migrant farmworkers, Native American reservations, homeless shelters and nursing homes.” • Trivially, the Forgotten are the other “classes” at different lge stages; once a warehouse worker, now a nursing home patient or prisoner. Less trivially, from a high level, there are two classes: Those who sell their labor power to survive*, and those who don’t. Even less trivially, and amazingly, or not, Reich completely erases a fifth class: The capitalists, who buy labor power, also know as the 1%, “the rich,” etc. Come on, man.

“The Corporate Right Is Giving Us Two Choices: Go Back to Work, or Starve” [Jonathan Schwartz, The Intercept]. “There are two paths forward during this pandemic. The U.S. could rationally follow the science about the novel coronavirus, as complicated and incomplete as it is. This would necessitate putting much of the economy in hibernation until we have the capacity to immediately find anyone with Covid-19 and provide them with a safe place to stay in quarantine, while doing our best to keep everyone who has to work safe. For regular people to survive, we would need government action along the lines of that proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash.: guaranteeing no one goes hungry, direct emergency cash payments to everyone, Medicare covering all health costs. Alternately, we can follow the heart’s desire of the corporate right, and shove everyone back to work as soon as possible. The problem for the corporate right is that the force-everyone-to-risk-death concept is unpopular.” • Nonsense (albeit in good faith). Wage workers must sell their labor power to acquire the means of subsistence and reproduce their labor power (by, e.g., eating). The “go back to work or starve” is the choice built into wage labor. The issue is not “the corporate right,” but capital as such. What the corporate right is doing is removing the ameliorations. Although I am sure Schwartz would agree this is the problem:

“What are you going to do about it?” Same with Cuomo throwing Sanders off the ballot in New York, if it comes to that.

News of the Wired

“Bad WiFi is slowing you down. Fix yours without spending a dime” [WaPo]. • Pretty good, but it does show how ridiculously complex home internet still is. It’s a lot like setting up a model train layout, except not fun.

“Sword-wielding scientists show how ancient fighting techniques spread across Bronze Age Europe” [Science]. “Bronze swords have been found by the thousands in graves, rivers, and bogs all across Europe. But because the alloy is so soft—and easy to mangle compared with later iron weapons—historians have long wondered whether these swords were battlefield tools or mere status symbols. Now, a team of archaeologists has staged modern fights with bronze swords to measure the resulting microscopic dings and dents. Sword-on-sword contact was a ‘big part’ of Bronze Age fighting, they found, done with specific, artful moves that spread from region to region over time. Unlike axes, spears, or arrows, ‘swords are the first objects invented purely to kill someone,’ says University of Göttingen archaeologist Raphael Hermann, who led the new study. … While a graduate student at Newcastle University, he recruited members of a local club devoted to recreating and teaching medieval European combat styles, and asked them to duel with the replicas, using motions found in combat manuals written in the Middle Ages. After recording the combat sequences using high-speed cameras, the researchers noted the type and location of dents and notches left after each clash. The team assigned characteristic wear patterns to specific sword moves and combinations. If the motions left the same distinctive marks found on Bronze Age swords, Hermann says, it was highly likely that Bronze Age warriors had also used those moves.” • I wonder if anybody has compared the moves to those described in The Odyssey.

“Letter to the Editor: Why These Agents Argue Books Aren’t Essential” [Publisher’s Weekly]. “A book is a product, not a person—and in a moment when publishing is laying off workers who were already significantly underpaid and overworked, the expression, even coming from an industry periodical, feels almost callous: the product is considered essential, but the people who make it are not…. The natural endpoint of an industry treating the sale of its product as essential but its workers as expendable is already visible: we need only to look at the horrors occurring in Amazon warehouses and fulfillment centers. In this light, how can we even consider a book to be truly essential in the context of a pandemic response? Information, expression of free speech, and art are all “essential” to a society, certainly, but publishing as an industry is not equivalent to those concepts; it’s just one means of packaging and selling them. People are reading a lot under quarantine, which does present an opportunity for the industry, but we must keep that opportunity in context. This industry has the chance to honor the ideological merits of the books we’re making by responding radically, compassionately, and creatively to the difficulties our human workers are experiencing. For instance, we should be protecting our warehouse workers by pushing electronic and audio formats in order to lessen the strain on filling physical orders, and reduce the consumer expectation of lightning-fast shipping times. We can help our indie bookstores do business safely by making them less reliant on their physical presences through something as simple as changing a promotional link from Amazon to Bookshop or LibroFM.”

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) 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. Today’s plant (HH):

HH writes: “Pineapple guava in flower, Pflugerville, TX just northeast of Austin city limits.” Encouraging news from Texas, but backlight is challenging!

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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. Lambert Strether Post author

      As long as he kept it on ice, yes.]

      (For those who came in late, I had a typo in the headline: “Water Coolear.” I can’t imagine how that happened, because I each day I use the previous Water Cooler as a template, so all I change in the title field is digits in the date. Woo woo.)

        1. ChrisPacific

          If I’m not mistaken that’s what we call a feijoa in New Zealand. The season is just ending here – it’s short and the fruit don’t travel well or have much of a shelf life, so we make the most of it. They are quite delicious when you can get good ones though. A bowl full of ripe ones will perfume the whole house.

          1. Oregoncharles

            the flower petal s are very tasty, too, and thick. Haven’t had fruit yet, nor are mine in flower yet – I just looked. Last year was the first one of them had flowered. Huge bush.

            1. polecat

              We had one growing in our backyard when we bought our first house. When ripe and dropping from the tree, it smelled, to my olfactory senses, as if someone had left out an open jar of Mentholatum. I could not give them away …

              The loquats, however, were to die for!

      1. George Bailey

        But isn’t that what you’d expect? Sweden has much less lockdown, they are letting the virus circulate to create herd immunity (while focusing on isolating the vulnerable). And so, they expect more deaths up front but then a better outcome over time. Their neighbors, with lockdown, of course will have a lower death rate at first, but are just delaying the inevitable by a few months. When they lift lockdown they’ll have no herd immunity and will also have all the economic pain (which kills people too)

        1. PlutoniumKun

          There is one slight problem with that. There is no evidence whatever that ‘herd immunity’ exists with Coronavirus. Most virologist think any immunity is likely to last no more than a year or so, based on human experience with other coronavirus (the common cold is usually coronavirus, who gets immune to that?). WHO has made it clear that there is no evidence that the previously infected are protected.

          1. Duke of Prunes

            Isn’t it also true that there’s no evidence that previously infected are NOT protected? That is, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence? Or did I miss the study that proved there’s no immunity.

            1. jsn

              Nothing is proven.

              The precautionary principle should remain in effect.

              It is safer to assume risk exists and act accordingly than to assume there is none. Unless, of course, you are subject to a government that is happy to see you starve in order to keep you meek and dependant on your wage income and risk your life to maintain that condition.

              1. Dirk77

                For the USA at least, every crisis faced in the last twenty years, e.g., 9/11, the GFC, has demonstrated that the federal government’s response is always much worse than the cause. Therefore, the precautionary principle applied for Covid should have been for the USA gov to do nothing and let states, cities apply whatever restrictions made sense for themselves. In that sense Sweden’s approach would have been best for the USA in the long term.

                1. Fiery Hunt

                  Gotta say, having a hard time finding the lie in this comment.

                  I guess I’m biased because my state, California has really outperformed…don’t think I’d necessarily agree if I was a New Yorker….

                2. Lambert Strether Post author

                  > For the USA at least, every crisis faced in the last twenty years, e.g., 9/11, the GFC, has demonstrated that the federal government’s response is always much worse than the cause.

                  9/11, definitely

                  The GFC? Obama’s response was miserably inadequate, but surely better than nothing?

                  1. ambrit

                    Without the GFC response, I imagine that there would have been a massive shake out of the business sector to allow a true reset. With the Obama Recovery, all we got was more of the same on steroids. Here we are today facing GFC 2.0 because nothing changed after 2008. So, I’ll go out on a rotten limb and say that nothing would have been better.

                    1. Wukchumni

                      Look at housing bubble part deux…

                      Places such as Portland, Seattle, Boise, Denver, et al, more or less doubled from 2008 real estate values.

                      All we could do, was more of the same flim-flam

                  2. Dirk77

                    I don’t mean to imply that a federal government is somehow intrinsically incompetent. I mean dependency corruption, a problem since the Constitution was signed, appears to have taken over. So any big fed response has to be first a con, even if the original intent becomes a clustef***. The GFC = perps rewarded, solution sets us up for the next crash and an acceleration of inequality. There are no perps in Covid, but it’s looking like the last two actions will be repeated. It’s as if being on the make is not only best but the moral thing to do.

                  3. Jack

                    But then:
                    “You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing, after they have exhausted all the other possibilities.”

                    Maybe we still have some possibilities to explore.

          2. Carey

            >There is no evidence whatever that ‘herd immunity’ exists with Coronavirus.

            So completely different, then, from every other virus in the history of the planet?

            yeesh #doomPorn

            corporatist kool-aid drinkers

            1. Yves Smith

              Stop making shit up and getting nasty when you are totally in the wrong. You are already in moderation for previous violations. You are asking to be banned with this crap.

              In cased you missed it, we’ve pointed out that the common cold, a coronavirus, confers only six month immunity, which is tantamount to no herd immunity. And the coronavirus that confers the longest immunity, MERS, at 34 months, also has a 34% fatality rate.

              HIV is a virus and getting it confers no immunity.

              Dengue is a virus. Not only does getting it confer no immunity, it actually makes subsequent infections more serious. Only good news is it isn’t airborne, it is transmitted by mosquitoes.

              1. ambrit

                I, being acclimated to the Deep South, am worried about this coronavirus being perhaps mosquito-borne. That would be the triple whammy.
                Absence of proof is not….

        2. Monty

          That’s fine, but i thought neighboring countries were a more apples to apples comparison. The original post seems to imply that the lock down did not make any difference, and I don’t think that is accurate.


          Some medical interventions may come online in the near future. Many therapeutics and vaccines are in development, so the deaths are not necessarily inevitable.

        3. neplusultra

          Sweden will still have the economic pain. Their real GDP growth is still expected to decline by 3.4% this year. So there really doesn’t seem to be an economic offset. You can’t just do nothing and expect people to not alter their behavior anyway. That’s a pipe dream that isn’t backed by reality and constantly trotted out by the “just open everything up hurr durr the economic pain will be worse than the cure” contingent

        4. Lou Anton

          I’m expecting a long tail of “excess deaths” over the longer term in Sweden compared to their locked-down neighbors. :(

    1. TXMama

      We have friends in Sweden who say they are not encouraged to weak masks in public but are encouraged to cough/sneeze into their elbow. When I questioned the efficacy of that they just said any masks other than N95 masks are useless anyway. I wish them well, but am not confident their approach will work. We shall see.

      1. Darius

        I’m surprised at the self-centeredness Swedes appear to be demonstrating. I thought Scandinavians had a solidarity ethic. Norwegians and Danes appear to have it. Once again: you don’t wear a mask to protect yourself. You wear it to protect those around you from your own exhaling, talking, singing, or whatever. There is a fairly good chance any of us may be sick and don’t know it and are breathing virus particles all over everyone around us.

        This Swedish attitude is so March. Have they been living under a rock? Or have they been so busy socializing they haven’t paid attention to what’s going on around them?

  1. bun

    Gilead Virus-Drug Trial Signals Hope, and Fauci Sees ‘Good News’” [Bloomberg].

    From the Guardian today, which just now reported on the US study as well:

    No clinical benefits from remdesivir, study finds

    Treating coronavirus patients with the antiviral drug remdesivir showed no “significant clinical benefits” in the first randomised trial of its kind, according to research released on Wednesday, AFP reports.

    In a study among more than 200 Covid-19 patients in Wuhan, China, published in The Lancet, doctors found no positive effects of administering the drug compared with a control group of adults.

    The findings were released after US pharmaceutical giant Gilead, which makes remdesivir, said a separate large-scale trial with the drug had showed positive results.

    “Unfortunately, our trial found that while safe and adequately tolerated, remdesivir did not provide significant benefits over placebo,” said Bin Cao from China-Japan Friendship Hospital and Capital Medical University in China, who led the research.

    “This is not the outcome we hoped for.”

    I am way too cynical to believe the ‘good news’ story coming out of a US Pharma giant, but hoping anyway that I am wrong…

  2. Arizona Slim

    Quoting Lambert: “As you can see, BIden’s mailers are an online update of the direct mail physical mailed designed to prey on elders — Biden voters skew old — by extracting multiple donations; Richard Vigurie would recognize this mail right away, especially the multiple appeals.”

    To which I say: Welcome to my world.

    My mother has been dead for nearly one year, yet I’m still struggling to get her OFF the lists of organizations that use this type of fundraising mail. Some of them have required multiple replies — which include my rich vocabulary of words that cannot be used on this family blog.

    To make matters worse, several of these organizations picked up on the fact that I put a mail forwarding order in place so I could tend to mail relating to her estate. Which means that I’m getting this junk mail at MY address.

    1. sd

      My mother passed almost a year ago and this seems to have helped considerably.
      For bulk mail like catalogues, etc – look for link to form to report someone who is Deceased:

      I printed out and put yellow stickers over envelopes with “Deceased, Return to Sender”

      I also notified the credit agencies in writing Experian, etc.

      Hope this helps.

    2. carl

      I took over mom’s mail about 2 years ago, partially to protect her from all the scams like this. I’m still getting a ton of crap from every NGO on the Democrat side; truly disgusting.

    3. Stillfeelinthebern

      When my father passed, I had to deal with the organizations (charities) that he let take a monthly amount out of his checking account. (He was a generous humble man.) Tracking them down was very time consuming. I couldn’t track down a final one, went to the bank and they basically told me they couldn’t stop it, but they did give me enough information that I could call the receiving bank and finally get to the organization to end the withdrawl. I will never let anyone take monthly amounts out of my cking account. And I am sure it will not surprise you that many of them were not decent organizations.

      1. Jack

        Never ever let anyone into your accounts. Never. If for no other reason you lose control of when the money is extracted.

  3. Anarcissie

    ‘Half of GDP decline from the cessation of elective procedures? Can that be true? What does it say about “our economy” if it is true?’

    This reminds me of a question I wanted to ask you all about. As we know, the state produces money ex nihilo as its rulers please whose value relates only to its own scarcity. It does not represent actual goods, services, labor, or any other actual value. It is, therefore, funny money. It is mostly given to the rich, whereupon it disappears. Also, as to labor, social critics from George Carlin to David Graeber have noted that a great deal of employment is bullshit, not the production of value — activities like shifting paper from one side of a desk to the other in an insurance office. I can testify from my own personal experience: I was a very highly-paid computer programmer, systems analyst, software engineer, etc., for the 45 years I consumed in employment for money, and I can’t think of a single thing I did that was socially useful outside my immediate locale. Indeed, some of my work may have been used for highly destructive purposes like war, imperialism, and banking. So the present plague has revealed that some work and workers are ‘essential’, and these tend to be in the real economy of the proles, not that of ‘symbol manipulators’ or the rest of the PMC. Doesn’t this imply that we don’t need the other crap? And that we should be actively thinking about how to get rid of it? I mean instead of making up funny money and giving it to inessential rich people?

    1. Bsoder

      I would think that if we are ever going to deal with the ‘climate’, we are going to need to have real discussions leading to real changes in doing useful work as opposed much of the nonsense that goes on now. I think life is going to harder but it could also be more rewarding.

    2. Fiery Hunt

      Doesn’t this imply that we don’t need the other crap? And that we should be actively thinking about how to get rid of it?

      Short answer?

      Yes, yep, yeah, absolutely.

      Everyone uses the term unsustainable to refer to our prior way of doing things but very few really, really understand that “unsustainable” means cannot continue as in not able to be maintained, upheld, or defended.

    3. Alternate Delegate

      Those of us still “consumed in employment for money” may have the same reservations about what we’re doing, but feel trapped into continuing to do it.

      Actually, it’s really hard to keep doing it. I think about quitting every day. But what do I do then? And I feel the decision will be made for me, soon enough. Again – what then?

    4. HotFlash

      Doesn’t this imply that we don’t need the other crap?

      Yes, and it’s highly clarifying, as Lambert might say. Just got back from a mini-shop on my bike, it is amazing how few cars we can get by with.

  4. Carey

    >How does it compare to it’s neighbors who did have a lock down?

    They are higher, of course, because they’re choosing to take the hit early on.

    As Dr. Tegnell says in the piece: “what happens when you end a lockdown?
    How do you do it?” Meanwhile, they don’t have a cratered economy
    (relatively speaking), or *the social and personal costs imposed by lockdown*;
    and they are many..

    1. ambrit

      The primary weakness I can see in the “cratered economy” argument is that any “economy” is a dual economic/political function. To that end, who is the “economy” supposed to serve? Therein lies the real lineaments of the struggle presently going on, under the cover of the present pandemic. It is a power struggle for primacy in the economic sphere.
      The “cratered economy” argument also completely ignores the real reason for instituting the lockdowns; to ‘flatten the curve’ and save the medical system from being overwhelmed at any one time. This is ostensibly to save lives in the long run by assuring that there will be adequate medical resources available at any time during the ‘run’ of this virus. The longer the virus is ‘contained’ and limited, the fewer people will die. This is a result of the fact that medical interventions are designed to save lives. That is a Public Good.
      The struggle is between public health and private greed. I know which side I am on.

      1. neplusultra

        The economy is going to crater anyway. People keep offering that claim when there is evidence to the contrary

      2. Duke of Prunes

        Ok, but I believe Sweden’s health systems have not been overwhelmed. Granted, this isn’t over yet, but so far so good as far as Sweden concerned. Unfortunately, “fewer people will die” because of the lockdown is very optimistic. There’s no guarantee that the area under the curve that we’re flattening is less than the area under the steep, non-flattened curve. There still is no widely accepted cure or successful treatment for this virus. Turns out ventilators aren’t so helpful after all. There’s never been a successful vaccine for a corona virus so why are we so confident that we’ll get one now, and within an amazingly short time frame? What about the deaths caused by people having heart attacks, strokes, or that cancerous lump, but being are afraid to go to the hospital because of the corona?

        To be honest, I’m glad I don’t live in Sweden, but I’m glad someone is going down a different path. We will just all have to watch, wait and learn.

      3. Big River Bandido

        who is the “economy” supposed to serve?

        Swedes have guaranteed health care for their entire lives. That’s one indication that their economy serves average people.

        1. ambrit

          Hindsight is always superior to foresight. Err on the side of caution when lives are at stake.
          My area is also in the C range, but then, we are not a major metropolis, nor a quaint backwater.

        2. Carolinian


          I’m not sure what “lockdown” even means here in the US anyway. It’s not like you have to do as they did in Italy and borrow a neighbor’s dog so you can go outside. Here in SC a few people were given fines for congregating on the beach etc. But cars still drive. Families still walk the sidewalks. The stores seem to becoming more crowded.

          As for Sweden, we’ll know in a few months who was right including about the immunity. If the Swedish public agrees with the policy–and their polls say they do–then let them conduct this possibly useful experiment.

    2. neplusultra

      please cite sources wrt economic claim. I’ve seen reports that they are still supposed to see negative gdp growth of 3.4% this year.

  5. Wyoming

    Re: the Reich article on there becoming 4 classes emerging : Remotes, Essentials, The Unpaid and The Forgotten.

    A big miss here in my opinion as he has completely forgotten himself one class of folks who are a huge part of the puzzle/problem. Maybe two actually.

    Class 5
    The Sufficiently Comfortable and Retired: I belong to this class. Pending illness (Covid or otherwise) I and my cohort are golden. We can socially distance if we choose (many where I live do not, but it is a choice we have…) and we have sufficient resources to easily outlast the Covid crisis assuming it does not last 10 years or something. And there are Lots of us. We are a major driver of the local economy where I live and many other places. In that sense we are essential I suppose.

    Class 6
    The Oligopoly and the simply Rich: I am not certain of their numbers – perhaps they are the 0.1% – but they run the show and we dance to their tune. It seems odd to leave these folks out. And if you do then who are we going to blame and why do I have the guillotine standing ready out in the shop?

    1. sd

      There’s a group between Remotes and Essentials – the people that do the in-person work for the Remotes who do not want to interact with the Essentials.

      1. ambrit

        That group is the lower quintile of the Remotes.
        I worry about the future status of the Class 5 you mention. Many of those people are funded by the Financial Casino, whether through 401ks or Mutual Funds, etc. Few that I know are sitting on stacks of precious metals. Destroy the financial casino and you impoverish a lot of the Class 5 people.

        1. Kurt Sperry

          Any Class 5 people whose futures would be put in peril by the DJIA falling to 10k and haven’t got out of the securities markets yet… I don’t even really know what to say to those people. I don’t wish them ill, but they are playing a very dangerous game.

          1. ambrit

            This will be a function of how involved the individual is in the investing aspect of their retirement scheme. a lot of people are involved in retirement funds which are well nigh opaque as to their investing strategies. Insofar as many investment managers are held to a short term returns metric, to keep their job, the chase after return will intensified and be much more dangerous than simple, plain vanilla investing. so, we have a potential cohort of Class 5 retirees who have little to no knowledge of the nuts and bolts of their retirement schemes. As far as many see it, money went in and now should come out. When the money at issue has been ‘destroyed’ the ‘traditional’ retirement scheme, ex-Social Security, grinds to a halt.

          2. Tom Bradford

            “haven’t got out of the securities markets yet…”

            And go where? Cash in the bank at 0% or fixed interest at 0.5% with Govt’s looking to inflate themselves out of debt? Bricks and mortar with millions who can’t afford food let alone rent? Bullion under the bed?

            1. Kurt Sperry

              Maybe 0.5% FDIC insured isn’t actually a bad deal right now. And maybe the important thing now is potential downside risks, not trying to make money with money.

    2. o-o-o

      I like your two additional classes, but I think all of these classes fall into one of three larger buckets. To use a slightly less profane term, I will call them the Screwed, the UnScrewed and the Essential.

      Class 5 and 6 clearly fall into the UnScrewed category. They have the accumulated resources (particularly class 6) to ride out fat tails and business fails. Their life may not be the same, but they largely won’t be made uncomfortable by unfolding events. Unless they get the bug.

      The Unpaid and the Forgotten clearly fall into the Screwed category.

      The Essentials class gets its own category. It is broad and has its own levels of stratification; on one end doctors and nurses do some of the most difficult and dangerous work for professional salaries, while on the other end meat packers and migrant farm workers do some of the most difficult and dangerous work for poverty level wages. Yet it is the Essentials, all of them, that keep society from collapse and starvation.

      But the big surprise is the Remotes. I am going to have to put them in the Screwed category. Once the PMC realizes that these jobs don’t have to be performed in the office, then it becomes managerially irresponsible not to ship those jobs out to India where they can be performed for 1/10th the cost. They could hire 5 offshore workers to replace one single domestic worker and still come out ahead. By demonstrating competence in working remote, many of these Remotes may have sealed their own fate.

      I guess the lesson here is if you cant be Unscrewed, at least be Essential.

      1. John

        Just as there is a real number between any two real numbers so there is always a class between any two classes for some definition of class.

      2. cnchal

        >. . . the big surprise is the Remotes. I am going to have to put them in the Screwed category. Once the PMC realizes that these jobs don’t have to be performed in the office, then it becomes managerially irresponsible not to ship those jobs out to . . .

        Perhaps I am mistaken, but are the “Remotes” and the PMC for the most part, not the same?

        What exactly does “work from home hunched over a laptop” mean, as far as type of work done? I picture managers collaborating on how to navigate the new normal or setting up flypaper websites to trick people into thinking they are not buying from the hegemon, or a plethora of useless and deceptive visual trickery added to the digital churn. Is it dullish data entry where someone has to take a spreadsheet and sort it out? Does it describe the Robert Reich’s that produce the text version of nostril cam? Are they useless bullshit jawbs, where productivity is measured by the byte?

        Am I anywhere close to what’s actually happening?

        1. Democrita

          Well, at our house we have two ‘hunched over’ PMCers working remotely. My job in journalism is largely the same, it just takes twice the communication to get things done.

          Hubby is a manager for city government. A big part of his job now is checking to see that all the remote workers are actually working — when the clock in, when they clock out, and whether they seem to be actually at their desks in between. For example, if he sends an email at 10:30 a.m., and the worker replies from a cell phone, that’s usually a clue the worker is not at his/her desk.

          Just a sampling for ya.

  6. Tom

    We need millions of tests to open this economy. Where are they? | Make Me Smart #181 | Loren Wold


    Interesting discussion/explanation of testing basics and the challenges associated with ramping up.

    Hosts Kai Ryssdal and Molly Wood interview Loren Wold. “He’s director of biomedical research at the College of Nursing at Ohio State and one of Molly Wood’s high-school classmates. After explaining the difference between antigens and antibodies, he made us smart about supply chains for swabs and told us just how scared he is about what’s coming.”

  7. zagonostra

    >Congressman Vito Marcantonio floor of Congress April 30, 1936

    My how the unemployed’s treatment at the hand of those in power has changed so little in 84 years.

    In the face of this appalling situation the unemployed can expect nothing from those in power. They must depend on themselves, on militant labor organizations, and on all liberty-loving Americans. They must organize American public sentiment behind a genuine relief bill.

    You can talk all you want to about financial recovery, but when you go back to your districts this year you are going to be confronted with the unemployed in your district. You can show them the stock market sheets and you can show them the increases in prices, but they will ask you: “How can you vote for increases in naval and military appropriations and at the same time vote for decreases in appropriations for the unemployed in your own district?” That is a question which you must face and is a question which you must answer.

    in dealing with the problem of unemployment we never appropriated sufficient funds to give the unemployed any purchasing power. That is why the unemployed are in no better position today than they were before. Today they are in a worse position … If in the past we had given the unemployed sufficient to maintain themselves in health and decency, they would have had a purchasing power. Using this power, the wheels of industry would have been moving on a larger scale than today. However, we would still have had many unemployed. In the past, with the end of the crisis, we had few unemployed left during the period of so-called recovery. Today the residue of unemployed is so large that, despite financial recovery, the unemployed remain our most important problem. Why? Is it the fault of the unemployed, or is it due to an inequitable and unjust economic system which must be overhauled? Would the gentleman refuse to give shelter and food to the victims of this system simply because the system forces them to remain idle?


    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Struggling to think of one, One! politician on the landscape today who would have the stones and the moral decency say this.

      It took decades and serious and repeated pushing down on the pillow but Labor has been well and truly euthanized by Capital.

  8. Clive

    I’ve planted a pineapple guava (last year) in a bare spot in my front garden. It said on the label it was hardy enough for my location in southern England (US Climate Zone 4 equivalent). We shall see. It survived the winter just fine and it’s putting out new leaf growth. No flowers yet. But it looks lovely in the pictures I saw when I researched it (and in today’s plantidote).

    1. Bsoder

      A pineapple guava that is rated for zone 4? Hmm, that be like North Dakota. I don’t doubt such a plant exists, but I’d think Southern England is closer to zone 5A. I’ll have to look into this, might be fun to plant one.

  9. Dr. John Carpenter

    Considering Biden has made it clear he sees no reason to move left and the Sanders organization’s unconditional support without any concessions has justified that decision, how is a super PAC formed by Sanders advisors going to push him left? Since they’ve pulled punches thus far, how does this avoid being anything but a Biden super PAC? (I suppose we could be talking about the advisors who allegedly told Sanders he needed to be more forceful against Biden, but I would also assume they understand the futility of this exercise.)

    And related, the tweet about where Sanders campaign contributions are going that follows in post #2, what does “continued work in the progressive movement” mean?

    1. Shonde

      And what does “Contributions to Bernie will now go to his Senate Campaign fund” mean? To me it means any new contributions. I want to know about where his leftover campaign millions will go and what it will be used for.

      Anybody know that answer? I remember something here at NC about paying for healthcare for his campaign workers until November. Does anyone have confirmation or cost?

    2. allan

      Moving left with Bidenese characteristics:

      Biden Would Consider Republicans for Cabinet [Bloomberg]

      Joe Biden says he would consider enlisting Republicans for his Cabinet though not for his running mate.

      The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee said during a virtual fundraiser Wednesday that a Republican would be considered for a post if they were “the best qualified person” to do the job. But he made clear the potential bipartisanship would not extend to his choice of vice president. …

      What part of “would not extend to his choice of vice president” do Sandernistas not understand?
      Is that not left-wing enough for them?

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > how is a super PAC formed by Sanders advisors going to push him left?

      It isn’t. Biden comes not to fulfill but to abolish the left. It’s a scam.

      I’m 100% sure the staffers will get their health care covered. I don’t think we know the answer to the rest.

      1. Carey

        oh yeah, our big truthteller.. super-awesome.

        electoral politics are a sham and scam, as you *well know*.

        1. Yves Smith

          That’s it. A bogus attack on PlutoniumKun and now an attack on Lambert. This is a reader assisted suicide note and we are only too happy to oblige. Goodbye for good.

    4. The Rev Kev

      Moving Biden to the left? Right now, Biden has views that are to the right of Donald Trump. If someone was able to shift him to his left, which is extremely unlikely, then that would mean that he might move to where Donald Trump is currently sitting. Forget it. Biden and his ‘handlers’ will always be hard right and the world will ridicule the US for electing Grandpa Simpson. Trump is erratic beyond belief but old Joe would merely be embarrassing.

  10. marcyincny

    I wouldn’t get too excited about today’s numbers for NY. Here in CNY, Onondaga county, the daily number of new cases continues to go up as testing increases. Today’s report of 35 new cases is the highest to date. The first weeks the county averaged about 20.

  11. ChristopherJ

    So, everyone is discussing the loans and purchase of toxic assets by the Fed – the making whole of corporations, so they can continue doing great things for (a minority of) Americans.

    Meanwhile, ordinary folk, who have just been given the worst government pandemic response, are left to fend for themselves, even when models of how to do things better abound everywhere.

    Are you all just going to sit meekly in your homes and tell one another how horrid they all are?

    How bad does it have to get before people revolt? Pretty far it would seem

      1. Tom Doak

        Most Americans associate May Day with pastels . . . or a distress call seeking immediate help . . . instead of revolution.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      It’s curious isn’t it.

      Maybe 3 things:

      1. Lack of education about politics, history, and civics. People literally do not know that change in their favor is possible. History for them is a chart over 30 years going from the upper left to the lower right. The label at the top says “Less”.
      2. Stockholm Syndrome: we’ve fallen in love with our captors.
      3. “It-Could-Get-Even-Worseism”. People who can’t scrape together $400 in an emergency frozen into inaction because they fear any sudden move and the number could easily go down to $300

  12. Bsoder

    ‘Bronze Age warriors had also used those moves.” • I wonder if anybody has compared the moves to those described in The Odyssey.’ How about the Samurai, or Chinese, or that matter the Mayan’s of South America, as these regions are the only regions outside of the ancient Fertile Crescent that independently from one another created bronze? So sayeth, Jared Diamond.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I think its generally accepted that there is very little functional difference between bronze and iron age swords. While bronze is a little softer, the cutting edge can actually be made as hard as iron, and not very far short of steel. They were probably prone to bending, but could be quite easily repaired. The idea that they were largely ornamental has been discredited long ago, they were certainly made to be used, even if they were probably more expensive than an iron blade (i.e., only the wealthier warriors would have one). So far as I know, they were independently invented twice – once in the Aegean, which spread to Europe and the Middle East, and also in China, although at a slightly later date. I think its still something of a matter of dispute as to the origins of bronze making in Asia, there are claims for central Asia and India as well as China. I don’t think there was an independent Bronze Age in Japan, the technology diffused from China via Korea.

      It’s difficult of course to know how they are used. As experimental archaeologists and fighting enthusiasts will always point out, weapons are not always used as the makers intended. Its extremely difficult to be sure how even medieval weapons were used, and there are plenty of contemporary treatises around. But given the similarities in size and design, I don’t think its unreasonable to think that bronze age swords (and spears) were used pretty much the same way as similarly proportioned later iron and steel swords.

      1. The Rev Kev

        The main difference in sword styles would be whether they were for slashing or for stabbing and styles influenced form. Wait, did I just say form follows function? Anyway, you see those old films where warriors were slashing away at each other and you think that that was the way it was. But then you have the professional Roman infantry who use their Gladius sword for stabbing from behind a shield. Effective? It is reckoned that the Roman Gladius has killed more people than any other weapon in history. Medieval sword fighting was different again-


        Finally, troops that went into battle with iron swords against troops armed with bronze swords may have been trained to fight differently to take advantage of the fact that iron is stronger than bronze and could break them. There was an old Hollywood film from the 50s set in ancient Egypt and in it, the friend of a Pharaoh managed to bring back an iron sword to him though they were estranged. The Pharaoh struck as a test but to his shock, the iron sword left a cut in the bronze blade and another strikes napped the bronze blade in half. I wonder how true that scene was of what actually happened.

        1. JBird4049

          Maybe. However, IIRC the transition to iron from bronze took centuries with the presumed developers (The Hittite Empire) not surviving the 11th BCE Bronze Age Collapse, but the Bronze Age itself didn’t end in the area until 7th or 8th BCE. I think that it was a long time before any purely iron weaponed army existed.

          Maybe the new weapons were used like the Wehrmacht’s panzer units; a breakthrough edge backed by masses of less effective units. The German Army was more a horse drawn army than a mechanized one. Certainly far more than an armored one.

          1. The Rev Kev

            I like what you say and it does make more sense. You would only have to equip a single unit (as presumably iron swords would have been very expensive), have them punch a hole in the enemy lines, and then pour in regular formations to roll up the flanks. That does sound more feasible that.

        2. PlutoniumKun

          I suspect the main factor in changing sword styles was not the swords themselves, but the type of armour used. Iron allowed for much better armour. So far as I’m aware, early iron swords were not that much superior to bronze. Contrary to myth (maybe spread by Hollywood, certainly spread by archaeologists who never left their books), bronze is not brittle (they were probably confusing it with the brass household objects there were used to). It is, however quite soft, so warriors probably spent a lot of time straightening them out on the battlefield. But a skilled craftsman could make a bronze sword with a harder, sharper edge than an iron sword, one that would only be surpassed by later steel blades. In reality, the advantage of iron was more likely that it was far cheaper and more easily available than copper and tin. A typical bronze age army probably had more warriors with wooden clubs than swords and spears.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        In an earlier life I spent a lot of time on archaeological sites, including one run by an academic known as probably the more respected authorities on the western European bronze age, but I quickly found out that it was those lowly archaeologists who worked with reenactors who were far more reliable at identifying what objects dug up really were used for. This is particularly the case with anything military, an enormous amount of rubbish has been written by academics who never lifted a sword or spear in their lives, let alone made one.

        1. The Rev Kev

          One of my favourite archaeology stories was set about a century ago in England. Each summer, you would often have the same labourers working at the archaeological digs. Some of them would take a keen interest in what they were doing and would spend the winters reading up on the subject.

          One year, an interesting piece of pottery was uncovered and the professor of archaeology was saying that it was probably third century Roman when a nearby labourer piped up and said (and I am approximating what he said here)-

          “No sooorr, I be reckoning it be about fourth century that. You can be telling that by the fluting there on the side, aye.”

          And he was right.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            I’ve no doubt it’s true. As a student I worked on a neolithic archaeological site that had been ongoing for nearly 20 years. A local farmer worked on the site every summer – in theory as a casual labourer, but in reality he did the same work as the post grads. Even the notoriously pompous lead archaeologist acknowledged that he knew more about the period than most academics and he had a real gift for spotting important features that others were overlooking.

            A classic example is the Irish soutterain – these are cut and cover tunnels found within nearly all iron age sites. For more than a century archaeologists have speculated among them, and most textbooks concluded that they were for defensive purposes, the equivalent of safe rooms. It was local enactors who discovered that they were ideal for brewing beer.

          2. lyman alpha blob

            Something similar happened at a dig I worked on. The dig director had found some mineral deposit and concluded that since the mineral in question didn’t occur locally, it was evidence that the ancient locals had a trade route with Anatolia where such minerals were found. Then the local fisherman who ferried us to the excavation every day pointed out where there was such a mineral deposit just over the next hill.

            I also noticed that the local Greeks who worked the dig every summer were able to find considerably more artifacts than the tyros like myself.

        2. LifelongLib

          Can’t find a link, but I recall reading that for a long time it was a mystery why ancient armies moved mostly in columns rather than ranks (there was an idea it was to give them courage). The mystery was solved when someone had to stage a battle reenactment for a movie and found that it was impossible to keep large groups of people together in rank formation for long periods of time. There were always obstacles or impassible areas in front of some that broke up the ranks, whereas people in columns could simply follow each other forward and keep together. Actually having to do something brings out issues you would never figure out from just thinking about it…

  13. curlydan

    Solution for bad wi-fi? Mine is to stop using Wi-Fi. The Wi-Fi on my top floor is terrible, but I use a “powerline ethernet adapter”. It’s a two part system. One part plugs into an electrical socket near the router and connects to the router via an ethernet cord. The other plugs into an electrical socket near wherever you are in the same house and connects to your computer/laptop via another ethernet cord. The internet traffic is carried via the powerlines at really good speeds.

    The downside is that I’m “connected” via the ethernet cord, but at least I can watch/work from wherever I am in the house.


    1. Mark Alexander

      I haven’t tried ethernet over power lines, but I did wire the previous two houses I lived in with ethernet. It’s faster, more reliable, and more secure than wi-fi. It’s really a necessity if you have a couple of machines that need to transfer large amounts of data between them.

  14. JohnHerbieHancock

    Sanders (D)(2): Sanders helld an online “Thank you” meeting with supporters yesterday at IIRC 8:00PM. No media coverage, but screen shots are leaking out:


    — Biden’s Hairy Leg ??? (@BernieWon2016) April 29, 2020

    Good news, that. If anybody attended virtually, I’m sure readers would like to hear about it.

    I dialed in, but only listened to Bernie’s thank you speech. It was a little sad. The wind seems to have gone out of his sails quite a bit.

    I got distracted part of the way through, but he mostly focused on his campaign’s achievements, and what they accomplished.

    But campaigning well against adversity is great and all… but is it the way to attain power?

    He mentioned they just didn’t have the delegates to win, but if I recall, when he dropped out, there were still way more delegates up in the air among remaining primaries to cover the gap between Biden and him.

    I don’t know… a bit of a disappointing end to the campaign. I would’ve liked a little more fire and brimstone, especially for those like me who are thinking after the way the DNC closed ranks to force him out “Okay, so the door’s shut on electoral politics as a means to reform… what now?

    1. Pat

      No idea on what’s next, but I think the reason he threw in the towel was because he is not a psychopath. The only other non-psychopaths running were so far behind they had already suspended their campaigns. That meant that Sanders honestly had to face that the DNC and Biden’s camp would happily risk people’s lives to stop him. I don’t think he could take that. That is probably a bigger bitter pill than the obvious cheating. How does some one who wants to help people, really help people, reconcile the manslaughter of voters and poll workers to get the nomination.
      Denial is also strong in humans. Sanders truly does believe that Trump is dangerous and his policies deadly, but I wouldn’t be surprised that he is slowly having to reconcile the facts of the last days of the primary, the bull shit of the Congressional response, and yes even Cuomo blowing off the primary. All to realize that there probably isn’t as much difference between Biden, most of the Democratic leadership and Trump as he has always believed. And then there is so many of his campaign staff forming a PAC with bull shit excuse. It can be depressing as hell, when you can deny reality no longer and must admit that you have been taken and were naive.

      But that is just my guess.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Sanders truly does believe that Trump is dangerous

        Let us remember that Sanders lost most of his family in the Holocaust.

        We might also add that Sanders could not do physical rallies any more. I bet a lot of the money dried up without any ability to drive the news cycle.

    2. fresno dan

      April 29, 2020 at 4:53 pm

      what will Bernie think when Biden drops out….and somehow, Bernie doesn’t get the nomination?

    3. clarky90

      Sanders threw in the towel, just as his opponent (Biden) was stumbling around the ring, his eyes cock-eyed, his tongue hanging out, and drooling.- Clearly, dead on his feet.

      Has there ever been a more dazed and confused candidate than JB?

      Flacid as Sanders has been, if he had simply stayed in the race……….he may have ultimately, been able to crouch down and take the nomination from Joe’s twitching fingers?

      Trump will mop the floor with Joe and Jill Biden.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            The continued presence of Joe B holding the mantle that has been handed to him is the largest and most blatant middle finger to the 99% and the reality-based community imaginable.

            A majority of people apparently can no longer even tell when they are being ridiculed relentlessly and their faces are being smashed in the mud.

            I’m detecting a deep psychological explanation: something about wanting the beatings to continue while simultaneously not caring at all whether morale, or anything else, improves.

            Maybe it’s Facebook. People post cool stuff they do 1% of the time. Others look at it and say to themselves “99% of my life is not like that, it must be that I am not worthy”. Self-flagellation ensues.

      1. Yves Smith

        You have utterly lost the plot.

        Sanders’ opponent was not Biden. It was first and foremost, the media, and secondarily, the DNC and its many allied Democratic party operatives. The media was as out for Sanders’ blood as every, and ditto the DNC. The condition of the candidate they maneuvered into place is irrelevant. He just has to have a thin veneer of legitimacy so as to sit in the designated seat, as did Petain in Vichy France.

        1. Tien

          Sure. But at the poll booth it’s not that difficult of a choice between Sanders and biden and voters chose the latter. This time the blame lies with Biden voters and they have a lot of soul searching to do.

          1. Clive

            Having been in the U.K. Labour movement for nearly 20 years now, I can tell you that one thing which never, ever increases the left’s share of the vote or garners support for progressive (socialist or genuine liberal in the US sense of the word) leaning candidates is to blame the voters.

            And to do, as you’re doing there, heap opprobrium on a group of voters for not voting as you think they should is the living embodiment of a hierarchical authority-led (some may even call it authoritarian and I would certainly call it bourgeois) view of politics. One where “the masses” have to either be “led” by (self-appointed) “leaders” and, if they defy what these whip cracking types say they should do, have to account for their actions and voting.

            This denial working class agency, needless to say, sets the left back every time it is attempted. So go and blame the DNC for undermining Sanders in the eyes of the public. Or, even, blame Sanders for underestimating just what he was up against and having to work within as part of such a treacherous gang of thieves and not making well thought out plans to counter the inevitable cutting off at the knees attempts. Failing to plan (by Sanders) is, there as always, planning to fail. You can’t now sit there and try to tell me “gee, who could have predicted that would happen…?”

            1. orlbucfan

              Sanders was defeated by the fake Democrats/DINOs and their allies in the corporate press. He had to defeat the DINO Party. The general election would have been a cakewalk for him especially with the pandemic. Don’t blame the voters. Blame the brainwashed idiots who won’t vote.

  15. PlutoniumKun

    Re: Fodder for the Bulls and Chinese pollution.

    There is a lot of mixed messages coming from China. In the last week its reported that factory orders for construction plant is massively up, even compared to last year. There is also, as noted in that embedded tweet, a very significant increase in pollution. It was reported today in Caixin (official media) that electricity demand for this year will actually be up on last year, which I find very hard to believe (Chinese officials are well aware that electricity use is a commonly used metric for the health of the economy). If true, it means there has been an enormous increase in industrial use in electricity, its hard to see the demand coming from anywhere else.

    But on the other side, there is clear evidence that the Chinese consumer is refusing to indulge in the much talked about ‘revenge consumption’ (i.e. making up for lost time by buying lots of stuff), and there is also clear evidence as reported today in SCMP of a huge oversupply of office space, with a potential collapse in commercial real estate looking very likely.

    So what to make of this? It looks like an old story – the Chinese government is doing everything it can to shove money into concrete and steel and local infrastructure, anything that can be built rapidly. Meanwhile, domestic demand and exports are struggling. And there is a huge potential issue with debt if there is a big drop in property values – this is particularly dangerous in China as property is very often used as collateral for SME business debt. Its been widely reported that SME’s are in particular trouble in China as traditionally they’ve used the shadow banking system for funding – but Beijing has clamped down severely on this – but the major banks aren’t interested in dealing with them, so they are struggling for cashflow and investment.

    The only certainty seems to be that China will have a very different looking economy in a year or two once the dust settles, but whether thats a better one or a worse one, well, thats anyones guess I think.

  16. charles 2

    Installing Internet networks in a house is not more (and not less !) complicated than installing electricity, water or heating networks. But for all the latter, there is a common understanding that one must pay a tradesperson, possibly with compulsory credentials, to install it, whereas for the former, ignorant DIY or  “ignorant“ ISP personal is the norm. Garbage in, garbage out : what else could one expect ?
    Note that for ISP, lousy WiFi configurations is a feature, not a bug : there is no better way to ensure that the client is not going to use the right to thf bandwidth it purchased !

  17. Wukchumni

    Casino gambling in the USA was first legalized in 1931 in Nevada, and there is no way as far as i’m concerned to make it feasible during the pandemic and aftermath, not a chance.

    I’ve viewed gambling as one of the main causes of why we’re here @ this juncture, it became the thing to do, be it utilizing dice, cards, 3-letter-montes, or any host really, it didn’t matter, just get the bet down!

    We need to get rid of public gambling, and similar to way back when in the depths of the Great Depression when the unthinkable of allowing legitimacy to games of chance happened, why not use this opportunity to 86′ it from the country, and that means all Indian casinos & other venues as well. We’ll never get a second chance to do this.

    1. John Beech

      Haha, you’re so funny. People will gamble no matter what. Why not make drinking liquor illegal, instead. Wait, that was tried without success, either.

      1. Wukchumni

        There was no legal casino gambling for the first 155 years in this country, not as if there isn’t a precedent.

        1. Massinissa

          By that argument we shouldn’t have direct election of Senators either.

          “We had state legislatures elect Senators for the first 125 years in this country before the 17th amendment was passed. Clearly we don’t need the direct election of Senators!”

        2. vlade

          The fact that there was no legal casino gamblig doesn’t mean there was no gambling, or even public gambling. They just called it “saloons” (for example).

          Google Michael C. McDonnald, Saratoga Springs in 1870, or John bet-a-million Gates and Saratoga Club (not that more than a few New Yorkers got there, they had to do with more seedy gambling parlours).

          The reality is, for better or worse, gambling will stay with us. Is it better to have it controlled at least to some extent, or entirely “free-market” (i.e. criminal)?

          1. Wukchumni

            You can plot the start of various financial bubbles to after Atlantic City allowed casino gambling-which in turn opened the door to Indian casinos.

            In Los Angeles there have been 4 real estate bubbles since the 1980’s not to mention all of the other regional & national exuberance, and gambling on Wall*Street mushroomed as well, to the point now where it’s inherent for the powers that be to keep it inflated, the hell with gravity.

            Las Vegas was going to figuratively get kicked in the mouth with climate change and being completely dependent on the shrinking largess of the Colorado River, it was about to go tilt anyhow, why not put it out of it’s misery and yeah there’s a lot of sunk costs, not dissimilar to say the pyramids in Egypt, but so what?

            Vegas was largely dependent on punters flying long distances to get there, and that sort of airangement simply doesn’t work going forward, not to mention their business model-which was based on large amounts of strangers mingling close together.

            Gambling isn’t going away in total-nor should it, but we can shrink it’s impact dramatically if we have the will.

    2. Massinissa

      “I’ve viewed gambling as one of the main causes of why we’re here @ this juncture”

      And you have done this with what evidence, exactly?

      1. Geo

        If we were to include Wall Street, and much of what the investor class has transformed our economy into, as gambling (which it very much is, only with the protection of Fed bailouts to hinder any real risk), then this is very accurate. Also, lotteries. They are a depraved poverty tax that is a giant scam.

  18. richard

    I wonder what the commentariat thinks about J. Ventura’s recent mullings about seeking the Green Party nomintaion?
    I am pretty agnostic, turned off to electoral politics in general (oh really richard? whatever could have caused that?)
    But there is certainly no one like him, high name recognition, and on some policy stuff at least he seems sound (m4a)
    I’ve never run into anyone from Minnesota that thinks he was any good there, but that might just be the bourgeois elements I too f*&^ing often hear from

    1. Massinissa

      Its getting pretty late: The Green party has their own primary, and 12 states have already decided on Howie Hawkins, with one additional state having been won by Dario Hunter. I’m doubtful the Green party would even let Ventura into the primary at this point. Maybe he would have more luck in the Libertarian party: Only nine states have voted, but two have voted for joke candidate Vermin Supreme (Lol…), so that contest might still be wide open.

      Sadly, the Libertarian party usually gets more votes in the general than the Greens do anyway, and by more I mean twice as many.

      1. Massinissa

        Er, I forgot to mention that those 7 Libertarian states that did not vote for Vermin Supreme voted for someone named Jacob Hornberger, who sounds… Er… Suffice to say I would prefer Ventura or Vermin Supreme, though Hornberger at least sounds passable on foreign policy, as libertarians usually are.

        1. richard

          Thanks for the info. Just saw Nick Brana with the Movement For A People’s Party on the Dore live show, and he was terrific. Went into details about Jeff Weaver’s right wing influence on Sanders, including pushing for billionaire donors for Our Revolution, and sabotaging efforts at grassroots fundraising in an attempt to discredit it as being insufficient.
          The more I hear Brana, the more I like him. The video will be well worth a watch when dore gets around putting the interview up on you tube.

          1. Stormcrow

            Thank you for the reference to Nick Brana. He offers an appealing vision at a time when I, at least, cannot bring myself to vote for either of the two rapists. His vision is of course quixotic, but one has to start somewhere. Perhaps a growing number of people will feel that they must now opt decisively out of the Duopoly. I couldn’t find the Dore interview that you mention (it seems to have been removed), but I did find this one with Niko House (April 29), which is pretty informative.


            Brana is also on twitter, where he has a long thread that goes deep inside the Sanders campaign, looking especially at the nefarious infuence of Jeff Weaver, who has now gone whole hog for Biden.


            Brana’s measures admittedly have an air of desperation about them, desperate measures for desperate times, but perhaps they offer a small flicker of hope.

            1. richard

              The interview was from Dore’s livestream show last night. It will go up on you tube, I’m sure; they just haven’t got to it yet.

    2. YetAnotherChris

      In Minnesota, Ventura had the good fortune of running against two extraordinarily weak candidates (“Skip” Humphrey /*cough*/; and Democrat-turned-Republican Norm Coleman, who would later win a one-term Senate seat due to a plane crash). In 1998 Ventura capitalized on a broad disaffection with the major parties and their lackluster candidates. This is sounding familiar. I’m not sure there is enough runway for a third-party insurgency in 2020. But Minnesota shocked the world with Wellstone in 1990, and again with Ventura eight years later. I would probably consider him were he on the ballot.

  19. The Rev Kev

    “Why Have Women’s Groups Gone Dead Silent on Biden Sex-Assault Accusation?”

    Uhh, if I had to take a guess, is it because that they are mostly made up of third-wave feminists? That their concerns are only about women in the top ten or twenty percent of the country? And mostly in context of their professional development and “glass ceilings”? And that because of this, they understand power – or what they think of power. And that some – especially lower – women will just have to lay back and take one for the team?

  20. fresno dan

    4/29 in Fresno county – 538 covid-19 cases
    total deaths remain 7, which reached that total on April 15

  21. cnchal

    > . . . Even less trivially, and amazingly, or not, Reich completely erases a fifth class: The capitalists, who buy labor power, also know as the 1%, “the rich,” etc. Come on, man.

    >“The Corporate Right Is Giving Us Two Choices: Go Back to Work, or Starve” [Jonathan Schwartz, The Intercept].

    Quite the contrast, thank you Lambert. The capitalists aren’t buying labor, they are holding labor hostage and forcing a death march for profits. Truly macabre.

    For example, the governor of Iowa wants the names of any employees that are afraid of the corona cooties and making a list, checking it once, to starve them into earning their gruel.

    Are Iowans really OK with this? Asking for a molotov cocktail throwing friend.

  22. Geo

    “We can help our indie bookstores do business safely by making them less reliant on their physical presences through something as simple as changing a promotional link from Amazon to Bookshop or LibroFM.”

    Why any booklover would purchase through Amazon, a company whose founding mission was to annihilate bookstores, is baffling to me. Maybe I’m just a purist but I’ve boycotted them since day one for that very reason. Same reason I never got a Netflix account (indie video stores used to be heaven for film nerds like me).

    I can understand people who shop at Walmart or other box stores because they live in rural places and have no other options. But, with online shopping you have options. Maybe it costs a little more, doesn’t have immediate shipping, or takes a bit more searching, but the benefit is not feeding the Bezos beast.

    Why is this so difficult for us therewise Progressive people to comprehend? Genuinely curious. So many I know who proudly shop at farmer’s markets, talk about their fair trade this-and-that, and wouldn’t be seen in a box store, openly talk about all their Amazon orders. Where is this disconnect coming from?

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