Links 6/11/2020

‘Resilient’ subprime borrowers spread cheer in US debt markets FT. That’s nice.

The Looming Bank Collapse The Atlantic. Real economy chickens coming home to roost in the financial economy? The chicken in question, however, is the CLO. See Yves here in May 2020 when the FT ran the same story: She was dubious.

Court to consider high-stakes tobacco fight Florida Politics (Alex).

An Internet of Trouble lies ahead as root certificates begin to expire en masse, warns security researcher The Register. “Some IoT devices such as security systems or lighting systems do make secure internet connections to enable remote control and reporting, but have no visual user interface, which could leave users perplexed as to why they no longer work.” Oh.

Yeast of our worries: Marmite supplies hit by Covid-19 beer brewing slowdown Guardian (dk)


The science:

The sprint to solve coronavirus protein structures — and disarm them with drugs Nature

* * *


UPS expands healthcare footprint, shifting focus to vaccines HealthCare Dive

Over half of people tested in Italy’s Bergamo have COVID-19 antibodies Reuters

Dissecting antibody-mediated protection against SARS-CoV-2 Nature. “[P]opulation level studies show that most individuals who recover develop only low levels of neutralizing antibodies, indicating that neutralizing antibodies are likely to have a relatively limited impact on resolving disease.”

Seroprevalence of immunoglobulin M and G antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 in China Nature. From the abstract: “In our cohorts, the seropositivity in Wuhan varied between 3.2% and 3.8% in different subcohorts. Seroposivity progressively decreased in other cities as the distance to the epicenter increased.”

* * *


Rapid whole genome sequence typing reveals multiple waves of SARS-CoV-2 spread (preprint) bioRxiv. “As the pandemic SARS-CoV-2 virus has spread globally its genome has diversified to an extent that distinct clones can now be recognized, tracked, and traced. Identifying clonal groups allows for assessment of geographic spread, transmission events, and identification of new or emerging strains that may be more virulent or more transmissible.” Note that clones are not strains.

Preliminary analysis of SARS-CoV-2 importation & establishment of UK transmission lineages (preprint) COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium. “The UK epidemic comprises a very large number of importations due to inbound international travel2. We detect 1356 independently-introduced transmission lineages, however, we expect this number to be an under-estimate….. We estimate that ≈34% of detected UK transmission lineages arrived via inbound travel from Spain, ≈29% from France, ≈14% from Italy, and ≈23% from other countries. The relative contributions of these locations were highly dynamic.”

* * *

Testing and tracing:

23andMe Provides More Evidence That Blood Type Plays Role in Virus Bloomberg. Talking their book?

* * *

Political response:

America Fails the Marshmallow Test Paul Krugman, NYT (MA).

America Is Giving Up on the Pandemic The Atlantic. “In the interregnum, a great variety of morbid symptoms occur.” –Gramsci

* * *


How to avoid the virus as the world reopens (free) FT

Which Patients Get in the Door First After Reopening? MedPage Today. “A new opportunity for healthcare to discriminate against the poor and the ‘medically complex.'”Our systems seem to become more like themselves. Capitalism under stress is anti-fragile?

* * *

Remedies and ameliorations:

Will the coronavirus bring back the corner store? TreeHugger (Re Silc).


Telling China’s Covid-19 Story China Media Project

Arrested Hong Kong protesters: how the numbers look one year on South China Morning Post

The Death of Engagement The Wire China (deplorado)

Zoom closed account of U.S.-based Chinese activist “to comply with local law” Axios

Vietnam’s ghosts are hungry for iPhones The Economist


‘Ticking time bomb:’ Lack of beds slows Delhi’s virus fight AP

Anger Grows Against Modi Among Workers Hit Hardest by Lockdown Bloomberg. That is what the story of the girl who took her father hundreds of miles home on her bike ought to be telling any of us not blinded by sentimentality.

An Indian Outsourcer Begins Bringing Back 150,000 Workers Bloomberg

Why Forecasters Can’t Make Up Their Mind About Africa And The Coronavirus NPR


Coronavirus: UK to see ‘worst’ economic contraction among developed countries Sky News

U.K. Does a U-Turn on China, Forced Into an Uneven Fight Bloomberg. Whose poodle, then?

Spain approves guaranteed minimum income scheme for vulnerable families El Pais (Ignacio).


EU states warn Brussels of hard Brexit risk to coronavirus plans FT

New Cold War

Russia’s ruling class nervous over spreading global protests WSWS

Pandemic Blasts Change Through Russia’s Church Carnegie Moscow Center


HISTORY! Congress Poised to Get Its First QAnon Believer The Daily Beast. Sharing a bond with the RussiaGaters, I suppose.

Shahid Buttar: “Nancy Pelosi stands, as she always has, on the side of the past” (interview) Open Democracy

Voting chaos spells trouble in November The Hill (Re Silc) As I’ve been saying

Pelosi claims Georgia’s primary election issues were ‘by design’ CNN. Just like VSAP in Los Angeles, the long lines in Michigan, the voter roll purge in Brooklyn, 2016. Come on, man.

Some states have embraced online voting. It’s a huge risk. Politico. More precisely, it risks ruin.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Portsmouth Confederate statues beheaded, partially pulled down by protesters Virginian-Pilot. Portsmouth Virginia, far from the media centers. Chains, people. Chains. Not ropes!

Black tech founders say venture capital needs to move past ‘diversity theater’ WaPo.

White Liberals in Minneapolis National Review

Violence and economic activity: evidence from African American patents, 1870–1940 Journal of Economic Growth

Police State Watch

The Left’s New War On Police Patrick Buchanan, The American Conservative. Also, to be fair, Cato, from the privatization angle.

Police have been spying on black reporters and activists for years. I know because I’m one of them. Nieman Labs

Health Care

Babylon Health admits GP app suffered a data breach BBC. No problems with telemedicine, no, not at all. Your data is secure with us. Especially — putting on my tinfoil hat, here — the kind of data that health insurance would buy up on the black market to keep their actuaries sweet.

Our Famously Free Press

Battleship Newspaper PressThink

They Really Are Lying To You The American Conservative

Wikipedia formally censors The Grayzone as regime-change advocates monopolize edits The Grayzone


Boeing 737 MAX FAA Test Flights Could Happen Soon. Why the Market Shrugged. Barron’s

Boeing tells Spirit pauses 737 MAX fuselage production Leeham News & Analysis

Imperial Collapse Watch

Welcome Back to Kissinger’s World Foreign Policy. Look out, Cambodia!

Class Warfare

Rethink economics to help marginalized people Nature

AFL-CIO Censors Payday Comments on Cop Unions From It’s Twitter Feed Payday Report (LT). Classy!

Uber and Lyft drivers are employees, California regulatory agency finds NBC

Brutality and Spectacle The Baffler

It’s not how you play the game, but how the dice were made Science Daily. From 2018, still germane.

Antidote du Jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here:

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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. The Rev Kev

      There is a lot of smearing going on in that discussion and yet it got accepted. Wikipedia as a source of reliable information is getting more and more corrupted. But we already have newspapers, radio and TV stations for that. As they say-

      ‘When your democracy depends on a bunch of unaccountable billionaires…’

      1. Alex

        Personally I don’t agree with the outcome of this discussion as no examples of falsehoods have been presented.

        However I think a lot of people misunderstand the purpose of Wikipedia. It’s not to uncover the lies of the MSM. It’s supposed to reflect the consensus as it exists in the real world, with a hope that eventually it will converge to something resembling truth (see the article about Iraq war for example).

        1. urblintz

          “discussion?” looks more like character assassination to me by people who have zero credibility…

        2. alex morfesis

          we ithakans had a wondrous time fighting off wiki nonsense…it did not totally die…it is buried as reference number 9…but a wholesale fight it was…and a perfect example of politization and cover up at the great wikithingee…there was a goofy book written by an amateur archaeologist/historian or whatever he claimed to be…and it just “proclaimed” that Ithaki was not Ithaki and that the north part of Kefalonia was in fact Ithaki…pretty silly…and the “facts” to “prove” it were all wrong…Ithaki is in fact, farther north than Kefalonia, and since the party of Kefalonia that was “claimed” to have been “historically” separated by some mystery canal no one had ever spoken about…well…that part of Kefalonia to the north is low lying, so, if you were sitting on the top of a mountain, like a good king odysseus might just have been…you get a glorious view of the sunset…

          so…there had to be an “other” reason for all the publicity this door stopper was getting…and after a little poking around…well…turns out this good fellow was doing some politicians a favor…

          seems as though the EU had sent some tourism dollars to build hotels and other things to Ithaki, but somehow it had made its way to Kefalonia instead…at least 30 million euros worth of magical mystery money…the Kefalonians needed a cheap excuse…they were able to convert the money to their own use since the State(nomo) of Kefalonia was in control of Ithaki at that time (locals protesting got us our freedom again finally)…and so the paperwork to the EU had said it went to Ithaki, so this clowncar book(door stopper) was invented and many dollars were spent to create this “plausible deniability”…

          by the time we Ithakans were able to kill off the nonsense…the Germans pulled the plug on Greece at the same time the Greek Government was doing its asking of questions for that tiny little company called Siemens….imagine that…anyway…we have almost gotten rid of it, but apparently there is a need to keep this hoax alive to prevent certain folks in Kefalonia from having to give the money over to Ithaki or otherwise perhaps face prison time…

          but the good folks at wikinonsense keep leaving that there…just so someone can hide behind the skirt of that doorstopper…reference number 9…

          hopefully, sometime in the next few years, wikinonsense will end up in the dustbins of history where it belongs…and something with a bit more veritas will take its place…

          1. Alex

            Well I think this confirms what I wrote earlier – eventually the generally accepted view features prominently in the article while the fringe one occupies much less screen real estate and is described as such.

            Of course believing blindly in everything written in wikipedia is just as stupid as blindly believing any other source of information – this is why they’ve got these small numbers after the sentences called references.

            1. MLTPB

              I agree we look at it (acquiring information/knowledge) as a journey rather a destination.

              Read Wiki, a dictionary, a magazine or book. It’s only the beginning.

            2. JBird4049

              As one of my fellow students said, one good thing to like about Wikipedia, is its reference links. Just like the sources listed in a good history book it can give so many sources to check.

        3. lordkoos

          You cannot trust Wikipedia, as I found when I attempted to correct some blatant falsehoods on an alternative health modality entry. Apparently the site is heavily biased against anything that isn’t western medicine, including acupuncture and many others, which are referred to as quackery. This is the entry in question:

          I have been trained in this method (a 4 year program) and know for a fact that the information is erroneous, and the aggressively negative attitude expressed is off the charts. All of the criticism is from MDs who have no firsthand experience a all with this, who have never audited or visited a training program, experienced a class, or attended a session. They also omit studies that have shown its effectiveness. Many people have tried to correct the entry but have given up, as the censors invariably restore the mistakes and slander. I was shocked by this initially but have come to accept that the site cannot be trusted.

          1. HotFlash

            Ah, Feldenkrais! I am personally convinced (as in, “it worked *spectacularly* for me!”) *but* I have had the advantage of some very, very fine practitioners *and* a couple of bad ones. Yes, I consider that an advantage. Not everyone who completes all the assignments on time and passes all the tests is a healer. I have found this with ‘trad’ med people, chiropractors, naturopaths, as well as Feldenkrais, Mitzva, yoga, raiki, oh, and martial arts teachers, voice teachers, professors, thesis advisors… Most are mediocre, however well-credentialed, some are grifters, a few are gifted. Finding the gifted, that is the challenge.

          2. Adam Eran

            I’ll second your observation, especially in the area of economics. The Government Spending article, which has some very valuable tables, also spouted the neoliberal (neoclassical) notion of “Crowdng Out.” See the “Heterodox Economics Disagrees” portion of the article. For what I added.

            For my trouble I suffered vandalism (the section was deleted) and excoriation by the neoliberals who authored the section above it, including the accusation that I was the vandal! Sacre bleu!

            Anyway, I persisted and (for now) so has the alternative story…but sheesh! The illegitimate arguments simply beggar description.

            …and speaking of heterodox economics, Stephanie Kelton’s The Deficit Myth: Modern Money Theory and the Birth of the People’s Economy is hot off the press, and I can wholeheartedly recommend it as the clearest, most readable explanation of MMT I’ve seen to date (and I’ve read an awful lot about it, including the Macroeconomics text book)

    2. urblintz

      Indeed, it fairly establishes that Wikipedia should “Option 4” itself out of existence: Option 4: Publishes false or fabricated information, and should be deprecated

      1. Laughingsong

        It’s supposed to be an encyclopedia (hence the name), not the portal of goodthink.

        After the whole Philip Cross scandal and now this, well I am done with them, it’s untrustworthy.

        1. periol

          I remember when Wikipedia first came out, and even then many people thought it would be used as the portal of goodthink. None of this is new, it’s just slowly starting to really hit home I think. The same can be said for Google. I never believed the hype when it started, and I remember using it in the 90s and also remember going through the pain of trying to get a site listed and giving up, again, in the 90s.

          The history of the internet is a slow corporate choke-hold.

    3. ewmayer

      The subject of regime change is clearly near and dear to article author Ben Norton’s heart, as he and Grayzone colleague Max Blumenthal were, only a few years ago, both big advocates for regime change in Syria. Oddly, or not, Norton fails to mention this little before-we-were-against-it-we-were-for-it tidbit in the piece, noting only that

      “This Venezuelan opposition supporter argued The Grayzone should be blacklisted on Wikipedia because editor Max Blumenthal has appeared on Russian media outlets like RT and criticized the Western regime-change war on Syria, as well groups like the White Helmets, which have been funded with tens of millions of dollars from the US and several European governments.”

      Lots of “Ben Norton 1.0 versus Ben Norton 2.0” links here:

  1. hemeantwell

    Re the Atlantic article on CLOs, I recall several weeks ago that Yves was skeptical of claims they imperiled the economy and thought a similar article at that time was an attempt on the part of CLO holders to grab some virus bucks. Does that still hold?

    1. JohnnyGL

      Yves’ comments are definitely pertinent. She had her finger on the pulse of the ’08 crisis better than really anyone.

      Characteristics from ’08 that were vitally important that are missing –

      1) resecuritizations – no one is making CLOs of CLOs
      2) the derivatives market through CDSs in 2008 was absurdly non-transparent, non-centrally cleared.

      Item 1 meant a buyer’s AAA securities could be wiped out in a hurry and item 2 meant no one knew which counterparties were at risk so the conclusion reached by most financial players was that EVERYONE was a risky counterparty. When EVERYONE is a risk, no one trades and assets are stuck in place wherever they happen to be when the collective decision is made that the music is stopped.

      Those were the two major points from Yves’ voluminous writings on the financial crisis that were most pivotal, in my view.

      Partnoy’s write up is a good one, but the shorter message is that if the real economy goes south, so does the financial system. CLOs are going to be one of the major vectors for the expression of a corporate debt crisis. Well, no big shocker on that front, it’s become a big marketplace to reallocate corporate debt.

      It is worth pointing out that there’s been a big rise in Cov Lite loans in the Leveraged Loan market. That will show up as lower recovery rates when defaults do pile up.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        had to look it up(ten plus years):

        they never learn…and neither do we.
        my roofer small l libertarian cousin used to “Day Trade”….
        “That’s where the money is”
        he’d obsessively watch CNBC, and such…inevitably reaching for current stock trends for explanations of current events..
        It took Covid and it’s Depression…and the for once Obvious decoupling of Stocks and the Real World(and much beer on a golf cart in a pasture under an oak tree) for him to finally divest himself of all that nonsense.
        Explaining “exotic financial vehicles” and tranches and CDS’s and all of that rot from a decade ago in a field was arduous.
        But he finally got it…sold his shares for a modest profit and swore to never fall for their nonsense shell games again.
        Walking through the living room of two households, I note that the stock ticker is ever-present at the bottom of the screen, no matter what “news” channel one is watching.
        Big part of the Mind%%ck…subtly implying that it’s important to the walmart “associate” and the burger flipper…but read that link, above,lol.
        there’s nothing there.
        Belief…and Ontology…is where the battlefield lies.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            i think of that kind of thing as a Spell, or a Prayer…given in bad faith, of course.
            and in fact, various concepts in Chaos Magick are pretty derned useful in thinking about a lot of rather disembodied things that, nevertheless, have real effects on real people.
            My favorite is Corporation as Egregore:

            Of course, that language is just about as useful in the feed store as Marxist rhetoric…Not very,lol.
            Since everyone in there is some version of Christian(mostly protestant, and mostly leaning towards the Evang/Charismatic side)…relevant Christian-y concepts are better, if you want to get their minds around it.
            False Idols, Golden Calf(right there on Wall st.!), Moloch, Baal, etc
            Comparing NYSE, et alia to Vegas has little utility…since most of them dream of going to Vegas and striking it rich.
            It’s Sisyphean, really.

        1. shinola

          Econ. prof. @1974(!):

          -“Unless you’re buying [an IPO] you’re not investing – you’re gambling.”

          -“The stock market is the only form of gambling legal in all 50 states.”

  2. Off The Street

    Keeping up with the times, er, Times.

    How can you tell that your attorneys journalists are lying to you?
    When their lips fingers lips or fingers move.

  3. dk

    Found some odd stuff on brewer’s yeast and Sars-cov-2:

    Synthetic coronavirus created with brewer’s yeast comes with research options, hope and a warning

    … The coronavirus is extremely challenging to make from scratch, even in the best-equipped laboratory, because its genome is longer than that of most other viruses.

    [Joerg Jores and Volker Thiel from the University of Bern in Switzerland] found a key to solving the problem in a yeast called Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Also known as brewer’s yeast, the fungus has been used for thousands of years to make wine, beer and bread.

    In the planning stage, the researchers divided the coronavirus genes into 14 fragments; they then bought most of these fragments from a biology company. They put the fragmented genes into the yeast, which automatically combined them piece by piece, from head to tail, until a complete genome was formed.

    The recombined genome could not infect cells as a virus does. But using electricity [?!?], the scientists injected the man-made genome into a cell to mimic the viral infection. Once in the cell, the viral genome started replicating and mass-producing the fully formed virus with genetic material wrapped in spiky protein shells.

    1. a different chris

      I *love* this kind of stuff and by “love” I mean “drives me crazy”.

      >They put the fragmented genes into the yeast, which automatically combined them piece by piece, from head to tail, until a complete genome was formed.

      As somebody who knows nothing about this (and is too late to start I’m afraid especially if the non-Type O blood type is actually true because it means yet one more way I’m family-blogged and can never leave the house) a statement like that is fascinating.

      I mean, “automatically”??? I really don’t think the yeast looked at it and said “hey it goes together like this” as if it were some sort of puzzle with a picture on it. So did the yeast make all possible combinations of the 14 fragments or what? Is there less than whatever-to-the-power-of-14 assemblages possible?

      1. dk

        The pop-science description of the RNA assembling by the yeast’s volition is colorful but inaccurate personification. RNA assembles through biochemical reactions “by itself” when in an appropriate medium, and there are a few different kinds of media in which this will happen.

        Chemical reactions happen “automatically” under the right conditions, and not just the ones we consider biological. Drop a grain of salt into a glass of pure water and the salt grain will dissolve “automatically,” all by itself. Or we could say that the water does the dissolving, but both statements misassign agency. What actually happens is a reaction between the components of water and salt. There is no singular agency except the universe itself; its volume hosts a variety of physical actions permuting over time.

        > Is there less than whatever-to-the-power-of-14 assemblages possible?
        Yes, some of the pieces won’t completely reassemble. If the researchers cut up 1000 sars-cov-2 RNA strands into 14000 pieces and throw the lot into the yeast medium, they’re probably not going to see all 1000 genomes regenerated. Some of the sub-strands may break or get lost before reaching the yeast medium, and the distribution of different types of pieces may leave some groups too far apart from each and have no opportunity to combine.

        The researchers cleaved the RNA in pieces to transport it more easily, shorter segments being less fragile than longer ones. But these cleaves have to be calculated so that the RNA will reassemble correctly, kind of like taking apart a jigsaw puzzle in sections that can’t be easily mis-reassembled. It is generally possible for some strands to assemble incorrectly, it’s just very unlikely that they’ll make a complete and viable new genome.

  4. Wukchumni

    Brutality and Spectacle The Baffler
    The article on beheadings mentions Adolf, but omits the role of the guillotine in the 3rd Reich, in particular the high tech electronic version utilized in Dresden.

    By 8 February 1945, the last execution day before the air raids of 13-14 February partially destroyed the building complex, over 1300 people had died under the guillotine. Beginning in 1942, the number of executions at Münchner Platz soared as the war and occupation brought on a draconian expansion of offences punishable by death.

    Among the victims of judicial proceedings before the ‘People’s Court’ and the state supreme courts included were people involved in active and organised resistance to National Socialism. These included members of Czech and and Polish resistance groups convicted of ‘territorial high treason’. Victims also included members of the German labour movement or politically motivated individuals charged with ‘high treason against the constitution’ or ‘subversion of national defence’.

    1. a different chris

      Interesting because we say “barbarism!!” when ISIS beheads somebody, but 75 years ago (a blink of the eye to a Middle Easterner) we Westerners were beheading people on an industrial scale.

        1. Pelham

          Actually, that’s a real difference, as Gillis explains with the reference to being able to feel a victim’s pulse while using a knife to carry out the act. This gets to the core of the depravity.

          The guillotine, by contrast, was developed as a humane machine of execution — and may still be preferable for the victim by comparison with the current practice of chemical poisoning. If I had to choose, for instance, I might prefer the guillotine to most other methods, but beheading by someone wielding a knife would be dead last on the list.

  5. John A

    Re The looming bank crisis
    One sentence sticks out about the whole neoliberal nightmare:
    “Without reliable credit, many Americans might struggle to pay for their daily needs.”

    You should be able to pay for your daily needs with your daily wage.
    It is not a lack of reliable credit that is the problem, it is the lack of a living wage. The fact that wages are so low and people have to resort to credit cards and payday loans etc., to survive is the real underlying problem.
    If the banks collapse again because of dodgy loans, the companies that dont pay a living wage should pay, not ordinary people like last time.

    1. timbers

      “You should be able to pay for your daily needs with your daily wage.”

      So true. Why even yesterday after the FOMC meeting, Fed Chairman Powell said the Fed’s goal is to keep the flow of credit going. Will he ever notice we have so much credit destroying the economy that we are drowning in it?

      I don’t use credit so that doesn’t help me, in fact it harms me. More to the point, on what Planet does he live on if he thinks the economy must get ever MORE credit, all the time, without end? Credit is debt and we as a nation and species are drowning in it.

      Credit has become the PROBLEM not the solution. But our officials and leaders are completely blind to that, living in their bubble world.

      Oh…except when they can use “too much credit (debt)” to push austerity on those they think should austerityized, then they are very good at that selective application.

      The Fed is so captured by the vested interests getting trillions of “credit” from it, to support their zombie corporations at the expense of real innovation and capital, I’m think we should just abolish the Fed. It has become the problem not the solution.

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      i just finished yesterday’s article about neoliberal education(
      since my first, comprehensive introduction to what “Neoliberalism” is….
      …I’ve recognised it as a gigantic, near insurmountable challenge to pretty much all that is(or could be) Good in the world.
      it’s Thought Virus qualities…the fact that most people have no idea what’s been done to them…how they’ve been remade into actual Cogs in the Machine…is terrifying.
      atomised hyperindividuals as interchangeable parts, with The Market(holy, holy) as the ultimate arbiter of Worth…and with the trappings and empty clothes left behind to fool us all into complacency, as if nothing’s changed at all…
      How to impart all this in the feed store?!
      and if it can’t be gotten across in the feed store, or the bus stop, or the produce aisle and the playground…how can it ever be challenged?
      I read that Laval and Dardot book 3 times…partly, i think, due to the weirdnesses in translation from Academic French,lol…but also because the subject matter is necessarily Dense.
      if a self-educated genius guy who reads things like Toynbee and Gibbons for fun has to go to such lengths…how are we ever to get a sufficient number of the masses to understand these nefarious and ultimately world-ending changes to what it means to be Human?

      1. The Rev Kev

        Maybe start with talking about the US Bill of Rights as I would imagine that that is popular in rural Texas. When you read through the text, there is a lot there that is in direct contradiction to the effects of Neoliberalism as those rights are not dependent on ‘market’ forces. Demanding those rights back again and things like habeas corpus would go a long way in tilting back the balance of power IMHO.

      2. The Historian

        The Powell Memorandum of 1971 set out a plan to change the culture in this country and it has worked even better than expected. When Progressives are willing to overlook their petty differences and come up with a similar plan to change the culture in this country, maybe then the people in the feed store, the bus stop or produce aisle will finally begin to understand ‘what it means to be Human.’

        BTW thanks for recommending the Laval and Dardot book, I’m putting it on my reading list.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      >> It is not a lack of reliable credit that is the problem, it is the lack of a living wage. The fact that wages are so low and people have to resort to credit cards and payday loans etc., to survive is the real underlying problem.

      What do you mean, “problem?” You say “people have to resort to credit cards and payday loans” like that’s a bad thing.

      No but seriously folks, we’ve passed some sort of weird sound barrier in political economy. Wages that insufficient reproduce labor power? In the limit case, where you have nothing left to pay the debt with, how is that different from servitude?

  6. The Rev Kev

    “An Internet of Trouble lies ahead as root certificates begin to expire en masse, warns security researcher”

    Sounds like a great way to force customers to upgrade devices. Tell them that if they do so, that they will not see this problem again for a quarter of a century but if they don’t, that upgrading those certificates may be ‘complicated.’

    1. oliverks

      Actually this is a bit of a dilemma. Using these certificates is really good practice, and I recommend clients build their systems around digitally signed and authenticated communication.

      In fact we can now buy specialized chips that are programmed at the time of manufacture to hold digital certificates. As it is really hard to tamper with these chips, it makes the IoT device as a class hard to attack. They are a really good way to ensure very secure communication between IoT type devices and servers.

      I can go into more details, but it helps to ensure IoT devices don’t turn into menaces and it also helps to prevent data leaking off the devices.

      Having said all that, you do need to ensure that you can maintain your certificates correctly over the life of the product, which isn’t as easy as it sounds.

      One can debate the merits of converting everything into an IoT device, but that’s a different question.

    1. The Historian

      Is the Trump Campaign intentionally writing off black voters? Because this doesn’t seem to be a smart move in any campaigner’s playbook. Maybe the Trump Campaign is so tone deaf they really don’t know?

        1. The Historian

          Probably not, but it is stupid for any campaign to just throw away voters – Hillary learned that the hard way as did Romney.

          1. Duck1

            Well, Reagan kicked off things in Philadelphia, MS, so there is a long tradition of dog whistling by the Republican presidential types.

          2. CanCyn

            They made the mistake but I don’t think either of them learned from it. Certainly not Madame Clinton.

        2. MK

          There is a component of Trump’s campaign dedicated to black engagement. See, e.g. Candace Owens.

  7. timbers

    An Indian Outsourcer Begins Bringing Back 150,000 Workers Bloomberg

    Checkout that employee cafeteria. Looks like the open office space layout is officially R.I.P. Open office space layouts can be reconfigured but they won’t be able to accommodate as many bodies as originally intended.

    Read a comment somewhere “If you work from home you might as well be in India” meaning this might accelerate offshoring U.S. work to low labor nations.

    1. Oh

      There’s very little detail about bringing back workers and a lot about the pandemic. There’s one line that says that the company (HCL) does not have office space for their workers who are currently out of the country. Misleading headline as usual.

  8. dk

    Chains, people. Chains. Not ropes!

    Chains are heavier and much more difficult to handle, and more dangerous than ropes when they break (and even when they don’t). Rope is prone to fraying and tearing from abrasion against a metal object (as might have happened in Portsmouth), but chains have a tendency to catch on projecting angles, concentrating pressure on one or two links.

    Also, if chains are symbols of oppression, then ropes are symbols of vengeance.

        1. Alfred

          Will you permit me to recommend ? Of course Wikipedia is not a very reliable source, generally speaking; however, I think this article does a creditable job of presenting the background of what is happening this week in many US places. Jane Clapp, back in 1972 and under the title, Art Censorship: A Chronology of Proscribed and Prescribed Art, published an astonishing list that makes for fascinating perusal. Both iconoclasm and vandalism come up in several places in Moshe Carmilly-Weinbergers book, Fear of Art (1986), which provides a good introduction for the general reader to one of the more neglected corners of the sociology of art. Its bibliography is in itself an education.

          1. MLTPB

            Ideas and objects.

            Objects might remind, reinforce people of ideas.

            On the other hand, removing them does not remove ideas necessarily.

            There is more work or more urgent work to be done.

            1. Alfred

              Thanks for these observations. In their connection I venture to quote from another Wikipedia article, the one of Damnatio memoriae: “Looking at cases of damnatio memoriae in modern Irish history, Guy Beiner has argued that iconoclastic vandalism entails subtle expressions of ambiguous remembrance and that, rather than effacing memory, such acts of decommemorating effectively preserve memory in obscure forms.” Perhaps the very obscurity of the forms in question is the ultimate, or else the only feasible, objective of this cultural process? Anyhow, It does seem to me that the events of this week in Richmond have elevated Jefferson Davis to a degree of public fame (viz., anathema) that his Confederate presidency never yielded. One could formerly drive the length of Monument Avenue taking only the minimal notice of Davis’s cenotaph required to maneuver around it. But now, and ‘forever’, its absence will remind every driver along that thoroughfare of both him and his Lost Cause. Glamor has already filled up the void created by the demolition; can pilgrimage and vigil, and the pilfering of mystic dust, be far behind? The UNC Press’s 2001 monograph on Richmond’s Monument Avenue, still only a few days ago just a standard work of scholarship, has already become a rare book. Ordinary shelving no longer suits its elevated status. Any vault that holds it will henceforth be a shrine. Alas.

      1. dk

        Ah, nice. But (emphasis mine, caps the author’s): ” You want strong rope attached to the chain—rope easier to hold onto versus chain. EVERYONE NEEDS TO BE WEARING GLOVES FOR SAFETY (there is a lot of safety first).”

        Rope is not only “easier”, it doesn’t have the chain’s tendency to crush and pluck off fingers, safety first. You can tie knots in rope for better grip, wrap it around things and pull at angles, it’s a more, ahem, flexible tool for this job. Of course if you have a tractor doing the pulling instead of people, you can use chain all the way.

        Ask sailors about the differences between ropes and chains, they know from doing. They can also explain about why not to use metal cable for this application.

  9. John

    Welcome Back to Kissinger’s World: Realism has always been the only path to a world that endures. It is messy and imperfect; its compromises can leave a bad taste in your mouth, but you still have a mouth to suffer that bad taste.

    Uncompromising idealism is confronted with its opposite. Risk taking of the, “Dare you.”; Double dare you.” sort in a world with nuclear weapons is a recipe for suicide. Those speaking of the use of ‘tactical’ nuclear weapons, i.e. suicide in small doses, and of spending trillions to modernize weapons that if ever used would end the world and the modernizers are dangerous simplifiers, hand-waving their way to their favored outcome. It does not work that way. It never has. It is not working that way at this moment and it is not going to in the near future. All of the ” Putin is Svengali.” and “China did something we should not like.” bluster, blather, and nonsense are ignorance, ideology, and campaigning for office.

    China did not on its own construct the fragile, point failure, supply chain for which they are excoriated. Russia did not elect Trump. If you do not like the world as it is, get to work and do your best to change it.
    Chin stroking, press releases, and pontificating on the Sunday shows all involve hot air.

  10. The Rev Kev

    “Coronavirus: UK to see ‘worst’ economic contraction among developed countries”

    Looks like the UK is ending up with the worse of worlds due to their government’s handling of the pandemic. I guess that you can’t ‘muddle through’ a pandemic after all. By trying for herd immunity and then chopping and changing their decisions without really trying to enforce the restrictions needed, it has left them with at a minimum of 40,000 dead people, a 1,000 new cases a day and a coupla hundred still dying each and every day.

    And now it seems that their economy is going to fare the worse of all the developed countries. Worse yet, while other countries are starting to cautiously open up on things like tourism, people from the UK will be barred from going there so no summer holidays in Spain this year. As a Brit might say, it’s a right dog’s breakfast.

    At the start of the year I noted the number of ‘clowns’ running governments. Boris is a clown and so is Trump. And Brazil’s Bolsonaro too for that matter. And since then we have had a full blown pandemic sweep the world showing that the price for having a clown at the head of a country is often a butcher’s bill in bodies. That I never saw coming.

    1. Fireship

      They say a country gets the government it deserves. Someone keeps electing these clowns. Now, how does that happen? Imagine if – shock, horror – the electorate were somehow responsible. Not oligarchs, not neoliberalism, not Russians. Maybe, just maybe, there are too many dumbfcuks out there. Which is really, really good news for those who want to see America fail.

      1. Ignacio

        That is one of the phrases repeated all over again I hate the most. Nobody, no country, deserves a bad government.

      2. ambrit

        The people who have a stake in a country being mismanaged and run as a looting exercise may say such a thing. Thus, as you wrote above, “…those who want to see America fail.” might do so in their self interests as criminal wreckers. The electorate are not born into “dumbf—ery.” They have to learn how to become such consummate dumbf—s. Such a course of “learning” can, and usually is set and inculcated in the individual by the social education system. It follows that the control of the education and socialization systems in a society are key.
        One can stand Aristotle’s theory of the “Philosopher Kings” on it’s head and posit a theory of “Libertine Kings” as ‘rulers’ of a society. Just such a situation confronts us today.
        Short form: Stop blaming the electorate for the sh—y choices being offered them.

        1. Oh

          It’s true that the two single party run by the deep state puts up two zeros for (s)election. And with much fanfare and propaganda, they play “pied piper” tunes to the electorate. If the electorate had any kind of discerning ability, they would refuse to participate. Sadly, they fall for the same CON every election season and we get stuck with another zero.

      3. John Wright

        There is a book by the late Australian Alexander Edward Carey that is titled “Taking the Risk out of Democracy” in which he suggests that the wealthy elite are concerned that the plebes just might use democracy to better their lives at the elites’ expense.

        To prevent this, risky to the elite/powerful possibility, democratic governments around the world attempt to guide their populations to an acceptable, to the elite and powerful, behavior.

        I have watched three US government sponsored events in this century in which the broad USA population was harmed, Iraq/Afghanistan Wars, the 2008 financial rescue and the ongoing 2020 financial rescue.

        My voting approval was never required for any of these actions.

        Blaming the US electorate, which has a very choice limited and infrequent voice at periods of 2 years(US house) /4 years (US president) /6 years (US senate) for these actions is asserting an agency that isn’t there.

        And even when the population votes to support a candidate who promises to help them, how often are the campaign promises honored?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Blaming the US electorate, which has a very choice limited and infrequent voice at periods of 2 years(US house) /4 years (US president) /6 years (US senate) for these actions is asserting an agency that isn’t there.

          > And even when the population votes to support a candidate who promises to help them, how often are the campaign promises honored?

          Exhibit A: Obama

  11. marcyincny

    from “America Is Giving Up on the Pandemic”
    “…nobody has suggested that cases must be brought to negligible levels before normal activity can resume. No federal official has shared a plan for preventing transmission among states that have outbreaks of varying intensity. [We] did not use the eight weeks of intense social distancing to significantly expand our suppression capacity.”

    This is exactly what drives me nuts.

    1. jsn

      Yep, this is what “collapse” is all about, capabilities that were once there are no longer there. It’s not just that the elites have lost the will to do things for the 90%, they’ve written the capabilities to actually do anything out of budgets, which over time has created an absence of previously existent capabilities.

      Market based policy making will in time externalize everything that cannot contribute money to create a price signal in the market. As more and more of the population is marginalized, and more and more of the market concentrated with monoplies and monopsonies, more and more of society is simply abandoned by a state that only concerns itself with sustaining established cash flows.

      The Fed can apparently maintain this zombie economy until the reality of the withdrawal of consent of the abandoned from containment by the carceral state is achieved. At present, every facet of what “establishment” there is continues to be focused on coaxing the abandoned back into containment. Anything else would require doing something positive for majority populations, which is anathema to winner take all neoliberal capitalism.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Yep, this is what “collapse” is all about, capabilities that were once there are no longer there. It’s not just that the elites have lost the will to do things for the 90%, they’ve written the capabilities to actually do anything out of budgets, which over time has created an absence of previously existent capabilities.

        I think you are correct. I keep hearing all the calls for testing and tracing, and then I look at what other countries do to get that done, and I just don’t think the country can do it. Never mind the politics of it, we don’t have the operational capacity. That’s one reason we keep hearing nonsense solutions that involve apps.

    2. Cuibono

      the largest single investment in the history of the US and we squandered it. We could have built capacity to tackle this thing like Iceland, Germany, etc etc but no…
      Was this by design or by incompetance or both?

  12. jr

    “One way to think about the Covid-19 pandemic is that it poses a kind of marshmallow test for society.”

    No it is not and no it doesnot. This is pure laziness on the part of Krugman and so freaking stupid it makes me grind my teeth. This is an analysis of our times? These are the insights he gets paid for? I thought broadly cast moralizing was Thomas Friedmans department. The problems “we” face are the result of mass juvenile behavior? It’s all the fault of nit wits in crowded casinos and beach parties? Im sure he doesn’t have his social cohort in mind, they’re mature enough to Zoom from their summer homes and finally dig into their wine collections. This kind of blather serves two purposes: to cast blame on victims and to affirm the righteousness of the ruling classes. It’s lazy and stupid propaganda

    1. The Historian

      Nevertheless, what Krugman says is true if you look at who the only people Krugman knows anything about – the top 10%. They did fail the marshmallow test. They just couldn’t wait to open up and make money, no matter the effect on the rest of us.

      When reading Krugman, you always have to keep in mind that he really isn’t interested in the 90% – sometimes I wonder if he knows we exist – and that he is usually speaking to the 10%.

      1. The Other Jean

        FWIW – There was finally an attempt to replicate the Marshmallow Test (the original was N<90, pretty poor study construction, statistically speaking) — and it didn't replicate. Whatever analogy Krugman made (IDK, I'm not willing to go around the paywall), it was based on outdated info. The test says more about affluence than willpower, and fails to predict outcomes:

        Maybe the only solid conclusion that can be drawn from the test itself is that when life is uncertain, people take the marshmallow that is in front of them and are not the worse for it (except for receiving the silent judgement of the researcher who notes your “lack of willpower”). And it only applies to marshmallows :-)

        1. a different chris

          He does say (yeah understand why you didn’t read it!) that it was not reproducible but he was using it as a metaphor or something, I forget must have been the post NYT brain bleach I use.

          On a side note – the previous test was done in 1990, right?

          That’s too soon for my possible theory, but in general these kinds of comparisons may have the problem that people have changed.

          Once upon a time, when I was growing up to be specific, we were told about scientists and engineers learning stuff and build things from it. There wasn’t much talk about their efforts resulting in fancy cars and the like, Iron Man was only another weird comic.

          Now it’s impossible to get a college degree and go work for IBM and “work hard, learn from your elders and climb the ladder”. You are now told you need to go go GO and “raise capital” and “innovate” and all that crap. If you aren’t rich by 30 then you are a loser.

          So, again, one group raised under one set of ideals might respond differently to a test than a later generation.

          Again, doesn’t seem to apply here. But food (sorry, couldn’t help myself :)) for thought on how much the world has changed. We always talk about the technology, but what about the people?

      2. vlade

        TBH, I think more of the 90% than of the top 10% were interested in re-opening, as the top 10% could mostly WFH, and if not, likely could survive ok for a few weeks more. It’s really the bottom 50% (or more) that cannot survive economically now. The top 0.1% made tons of money from the pandemics, so why should they care?

        See how it panned out in India – the middle classes were ok with the brutal lockdown, it hit the poorest the most. If your choice is you and your family _certainly_ dying of hunger, or _maybe_ dying from CV-19, which one do you chose?

    2. rd

      This column today is a more nuanced look at this:

      Hanlon’s Razor ( ) is still usually more accurate than conspiracy etc. theories to explain things.

      Morgan Stanley did an analysis in mid-April that assumed competence etc. and modeled what Covid could look like in the US. Needless to say, the competence was utterly missing except in a few spots, and so the backside of their initial wave indicated we should be well below 5,000 new cases per day, whereas we are not close to that.

      Everybody keeps talking about a second wave. You need to actually complete a first wave to get a second wave. We are dealing with sea level rise in Covid cases in the US, not waves.

      It looks like we will have 10,000 to 30,000 new cases per day as far as the eye can see. There won’t be a second wave – it will just be a continuous first wave. The only waves will be like a pool sloshing around as different areas peak and wane on different schedules, but the pool of cases is unlikely to get drained in the near-future.

      Our area in upstate NY has largely crushed it and people are taking it seriously when out in public with near-universal mask wearing and social distancing. It is going to be hard to sustain given the continuous inflow of cases from other areas of the country as things open up more. I am quite pessimistic over the next 2 years.

      1. MLTPB

        I read at the local county public health dept website once that Rt < 1 was the number they were looking at.

        That (just less than one) doesn't say much about the length of time to get to the goal, though, it seems.

        Everything else being the same, a Rt of 0.2 will get you there sooner than a 0.99 rate, I believe.

        1. rd

          American exceptionalism!! We are #1!!!

          US is currently worst in major countries in controlling Covid-19.

          I expect a concurrent surge with an Ro>>1 of euphemism cases describing how increasing illness, death, and destruction are positive signs. Thoughts and prayers will be sent out by the bushel to the unwanted and unfortunate statistics.

      2. Ignacio

        I don’t think this can be said with any certainty. Go local. If not properly monitorized and if superspreading events occur the disease can cause local outbursts here and there, though I believe the amplitude of these would not be as large as the one seen in NY-NJ.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > We are dealing with sea level rise in Covid cases in the US, not waves.

        That’s what the COVID graphs I’ve been publishing in Water Cooler seem to show. There are states that have had waves, but there is also a steady background rise. Remember flattening the curve? Good times.

        I’m waiting for when the “new normal” becomes US citizens have to be quarantined for two weeks when visiting foreign countries, and I wouldn’t blame those countries, it would be the only sane thing to do to protect their own populations.* If you think we live in a bubble now…

        * Absent a vaccine, of course. We’ll see how that works out, especially in a health care system that won’t do testing for free at-the-point-of-delivery, let alone a vaccine.

  13. Anthony K Wikrent

    I find it clinically interesting that Krugman does not mention that further research of the marshmallow test revealed a strong correlation between kids’ patience and socio-economic status: poorer kids whose life experiences made rewards a doubtful prospect, “failed” at significantly higher rates than kids from affluent families. Which brought to my mind a very disturbing theory: are people with lower socio-economic status more accepting of higher mortality risks because they don’t see life as worth living? Or fear what life has in store for them when they look like elderly people at their socio-economic level, who have significantly worse health and degraded mobility and cognizance?

    1. Quentin

      They might be more simply called snobs. Reduce them to the coarsest core. Leave out the veneer they’ve taken on for themselves to look shiny and blinding.

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      has Thomas Frank finally returned from sabbatical?
      I’ve missed him much more than i thought i would.

      “Listen Liberal” is next in the pile on my bed, after EP Thompson’s, “making of the English Working Class”(which I strongly recommend!)

      …and, related to all this reading stuff…Like Jerri Lynn said the other day…why can’t I read all of a sudden?!
      I’ve been reading voraciously since I was 3 years old, at least(I don’t remember not being able to read, and no one has any idea how or when i learned, they just noticed that I could, one day)
      But since all this mess came around, I find it hard.
      Business? check…hyperstimulated frontal lobe? check.
      Insomnia? no more than usual.
      Disturbance in the Force.

      1. TXMama

        Another symptom common to my friends and family lately: dreams that are more crazy than usual. I think our brains are trying to process a lot right now and dreams are a way to do it.

      2. periol

        I stopped reading in 2008. I’ve moved back and forth around the country several times since, hauling my books with me, but haven’t cracked one, even a digital book, in over a decade. That said, I also have no time for television anymore. I can’t even make it through 25 minute shows my wife puts on.

        I still write though, at least a few pages a day on my typewriter.

        No idea what to make of any of it. I want to read books. I just don’t anymore.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > why can’t I read all of a sudden?!

        I do, but not nearly as much as I used to. I’ve been a voracious reader all my life, and I figured I’d keep it up under quarantine. But no.*

        As for dreams, I hardly ever remember mine. I have been remembering more recently. Odd.

        NOTE * This seems not to be true in the UK. Escapist literature is #1.

  14. The Rev Kev

    “Portsmouth Confederate statues beheaded, partially pulled down by protesters”

    The trouble with this is that you do not know where it will end. Here in Australia some people are saying that the statues of Captain Cook should be removed. For the crime of mapping Australia perhaps? Pulling down statues sounds great but what it means is that chunks of history are then relegated to what-must-be-forgotten. Unless you remember the mistakes of the past, how will you learn to avoid making the same mistakes in the future. And in any case, how will people regards us in a century’s time? As greedy, selfish individuals who squandered the planet’s resources?

    But we are seeing spill-over effects of this style of thinking. HBO Max has pulled ‘Gone With the Wind’ from its service in order to ‘fight racism.’ But it also removes not only a classic of American film history but also the fact that the first black American to win an Oscar won it in this film. Will she be dropped down the memory hole as well? What happens when some people insist that ‘offensive’ paintings be removed from art galleries? Or artifacts from museums. Or books from libraries? For the later, is a history of a Confederate Regiment in the Civil War racist?

    Yesterday someone accused NC of suffering from Obama Derangement Syndrome. Should people like that be given power to censor NC because of this viewpoint? Someone opined that the problem is that we do not teach history – real history. Too often we get the goodies-vs-the baddies version. We should be teaching our kids real history as in what actually happened and why. And what we should be doing is putting these statues in museums and put into context the difference between how people thought then and how they think nowadays. Not to say that truth is relative to the era but to show what they thought and how it played out. So you would, as an example, keep a statue of Leopold II of Belgium but then show the proof that he was in fact a homicidal b******. The truth must always count or else we get lost in our illusions.

    1. Rod

      the vast majority of these statues erected were funded by ‘donors’ to the erecting organizations–like DoC.
      the membership roles are public as are the donors records.

      I might leave the statues in place–with new, very visual ‘contectual explainations” ALONG with the list of every family that donated. Then you could have a second break out of those funders who transitioned into elected positions locally and nationally.

      golly–whose family doesn’t want to believe theirs was ‘part of history’ and be proud now?(and can’t erase it)

      1. JWP

        I would also suspect their donations had the goal of increasing their real estate holdings. Many of the statues built since ww2 were placed in majority poor and/or black neighborhoods with the intent of driving them out of the community, sort of like a smaller version of redlining with highways.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > I would also suspect their donations had the goal of increasing their real estate holdings.

          Ha ha! As soon as you said that, I thought “real estate speculation,” and behold! From a book called Commemorations: The Politics of National Identity in Google Books:


      1. chuck roast

        The Portsmouth statue seems to be a case where history was re-written by the losers who eventually assumed their place as the winners when the original winners abrogated their requirement to history. Time’s arrow is a funny thing. This once imperious public utterance demonstrated on a daily basis the power of one race over another, and that message was not lost on anyone who ever went by it. I rather like the way it looks now. It should be left just as is…abused, defaced, revised. Kind of like Oradour-sur-Glane in France. It’s inhabitants were exterminated by an SS Division in the last days of WWII, and it was left in ruins as a testament to an extreme human event.

        Here is a case where we find ourselves at a pivotal point on time’s arc. It is a crucial time, and should not be papered over by the complete removal of the abusive symbol. What’s far more important is to remember the point in time where the descendants of both the abused and abusers came together to try to change the arc of the arrow. A living testament to the racists that their world-view is shit.

    2. jr

      @ Rev Kev

      About a year ago I came across an article about a group of concerned Karen’s in England who were banding together to try to force Websters dictionary to remove female slurs, the B word and the C word specifically. “Our daughters!” was their battle cry. I argued about this with my GF and she was all for it. A common theme was that men wrote those dictionaries and therefore those words were a form of repression. My arguments that words are words, that context is crucial to understanding their use and reception, that removing them does nothing for women but erase their past and that “canceling” words was a far more insidious evil were met with indifference.

      I tried to find the article but I just get protest related hits, sorry!

      1. Massinissa

        Do those women not understand that removing the things from the dictionary doesn’t prevent misogynists or anyone else from using them? Seems like a rather quixotic and irrelevant hill to die on to me…

      2. rtah100

        Sorry but England doesn’t have Karens. Not in the way you are thinking, anyway.

        It’s deeply non-U as a name here (but not in Northern Ireland and, for all I know, Scotland) – too far below the salt for the PMC connotation it needs.

        If you want a name of female white privilege, it’s quite hard, because there are still so many different types of privilege in the Old World. There are endless comedy smart set names (Arabella, Jocasta, Honor, Felicity etc.) but the stereotype bearer would be more interested in the Tatler or Horse and House than nth wave feminism. There are blue-stocking names, a little more bookish and bizarrely Anglo-saxon, the Eleanors and the Rosamunds, but unlike Karen, they lack the shrill solipsism and they would have actually read the oeuvre.

        I cannot think of a Karen equivalent. Maybe a humourless Guardianista could be their Marie-Anne, perhaps Polly Toynbee or Cristina Odone?

    3. barefoot charley

      Yes, I entirely agree. And it’s pointless to (replying first to the Rev Kev), because monuments to past follies must be frolicked upon by present ones–for example, the folly that pulling down monuments to oppression reduces said oppression. It just reduces cognitive dissonance, which in my book is a bad thing in our hideously dissonant society. We should see it and know it.

      Hate to trigger the moderation gods, but J. K. Rowling has brought the forces of folly down upon herself by saying sensible things about sex v gender. It’s the fascistic instinct to impoverish the real into a semblance of ideology that unites the ‘left’ and the ‘right’ against the sensible. Caution, good read ahead:

      1. False Solace

        This is something I think older people have trouble wrapping their brains around. Bear with me please.

        Many women don’t menstruate. Many women don’t ever bear children. Does that make them less “woman”? No. Women are more than just their parts.There are many different possible experiences of being a woman. Reducing women to their reproductive function and physical attributes is something I thought feminists wanted to move away from.

        Some transmen menstruate. Hence the phrase “people who menstruate”. There are even transmen who give birth. Are there a lot of them in numeric terms? I don’t think so, but hey they exist. Ok?

        There are people who are born with parts that don’t conform to either sex. There are people born with parts that don’t match their sex chromosomes. There are people born XXY. There are people born with 1 X. There are all sorts of people born in nature who don’t conform to a narrow “XX” vs “XY” dichotomy. I think it’s possible for these people to be women. If we allow certain people to determine their gender themselves, what’s so wrong with letting trans people do so also?

        I myself am on the older side and I admit it took me a while to get it. Transwomen are women just like women who don’t menstruate are women and women who do are women. Just expand your definition a bit. You’ll get there.

        Does that mean we should disregard the majority experience of women or downplay the unique challenges we face compared to men? No. But we don’t need to narrowly reject people who fit outside our own learned comfort zone.

        After all, we are just talking about a couple of words used in an advertisement. Rowling has said many insensitive things about trans people before. Get over yourself, JK.

        1. Massinissa

          I mean, even trans-people aside, the issue is further complicated intersexed individuals who are born with both parts. Or some more rare intersexed conditions that are not so obvious at birth. Since menstruation was mentioned, there have been children who have male genitalia who had ovaries who, at puberty, started menstruating through their male genitalia. That sounds rather uncomfortable. Even if trans people didn’t exist, due to intersexed individuals and, as you mentioned, women who can’t menstruate, defining gender based on menstruation would still be nonsensical and wrongheaded.

      2. marieann

        Thank you for the link, interesting reading as I have not followed this story before.

      3. periol

        For a writer, Rowling sure did a good job of word salad there. I read that entire piece and I have no idea what her actual, original, thoughts on the subject are. She did have her 5 points that can’t possibly be distilled down, but that link reads as a self-pity party more than anything else.

        The sad part is that I probably agree with her. It sound like she wants to say that we should take a nuanced approach to this stuff, but she doesn’t want to say what she thinks specifically. Makes it feel like there’s a different agenda, when you don’t say what you think like she does here.

      4. Lambert Strether Post author

        I’m old enough to remember when not confusing gender with sex was a very big deal and had to be struggled for. Having internalized that, one now finds that gender drives sex.

    4. shtove

      The statue of the founder of the Scout movement, Robert Baden Powell, on Poole quay in England is scheduled for removal after intelligence of its targeting for defacement. Nazi sympathies, homophobia, suppression of dreams of being handled by well-muscled boys etc.

      Well, I passed by this afternoon. Statue still in place, draped with Cross of St George and the Dorset flag. About thirty people gathered to protect it, middle-aged men in Scout uniform with short pants, a few grizzled bikers sipping Stella from cans, some feeding chips to seagulls.

      Sadly, the 275 ft private yacht, which had been slumming it opposite Wetherspoons pub during lockdown, has managed to escape. Or somebody sank it, and nobody noticed.

    5. CanCyn

      “Pulling down statues sounds great but what it means is that chunks of history are then relegated to what-must-be-forgotten”
      The problem with statues is that they ‘honour’ and ‘celebrate’. They are not about teaching history. I firmly believe in taking down the statues but would never agree with removing those people from the history books.

      1. ewmayer

        “The problem with statues is that they ‘honour’ and ‘celebrate’.” — No, there is a well-known category of “memorials which warn”, holocaust memorials being a prominent example. The Germans use two distinct terms, Denkmal = “think marker” for the celebratory kind, and Mahnmal = “warning marker” or Gegendenkmal = “anti-memorial” (a term only a German could love :) for the second kind. After WW2, of course most Nazi memorials were removed, but some of the not-obviously-Nazistic, for example some WW1 Denkmäler erected by the Nazis as part of their militaristic fetish but honoring a different era, some of those were kept but now sport an accompanying Mahnmal by way of contextualization. Here an example of an artist who created several of the warning kind after WW2:

        1. CanCyn

          Holocaust memorials and other memorials do not generally depict a particular person. The statues that I am talking about depict a person and those are generally meant as tributes to those people. You are not erasing history by taking them down.

          1. ewmayer

            So monuments to, say, Washington and Jefferson should be removed? They were slaveowners, after all. Washington DC as well as a whole lot of other places and schools, all need renaming as well.

            1. CanCyn

              Again – not monuments or memorials. Are you deliberately misunderstanding me? I am talking about statues depicting people, stand alone, implying that the person was are heroic and/or good. The Washington and Jefferson memorials in DC are much more than ‘statues’.
              As a Canadian not overly fond of American jingoism, I fully expected to dislike the memorials in DC when I visited. I was very surprised by how moving I found them all. Favourites were FDR, Korean War and Vietnam War.

        1. CanCyn

          “What’s next?” How about statues of people who abused aboriginal people?
          No need to destroy them or put them in storage. They can be moved to museums where they could be given proper context and used to educate -similar to what Rod suggested earlier in this thread.
          Tributary statues are not art so removing them is not akin to banning novels or movies. The are more akin to history but removing them is not about erasing history. History is not a static story, interpretations and perspectives change over time. E.g. Canadian history books written when I was a child had no mention of residential schools (indigenous children were stolen from their families and faced horrible abuses from gov and church officials who tried to “integrate’ them into white culture). I am ashamed that I didn’t know about those vile places until I was an adult. Now history books include information about residential schools, the old ones are outdated and should not be used in schools any more. They are useful only to historiographers. Those statues are not serving a good purpose left as they are.
          What I know for certain is that if I were an African American living in the southern USA, I wouldn’t want to be exposed to tributes to Confederate ‘war heroes’ or the Confederate flag, that is just wrong.

          1. The Rev Kev

            I too believe in moving controversial statues to museums where their record can be displayed to put them into context. But some people should study history more. Just yesterday Prime Minister Scotty from Marketing claimed that there was never any slavery in Australia. And he was serious! Yeah, he got roasted for that stupid statement but had he never heard of ‘blackbirding?’

            Hard to think which people should be on display as statues without striking controversy or pushback. I certainly do not believe like some in shaming people because their ancestors fought on the wrong side like a few politicians seem keen to do. If America had lost the American revolution, then people like Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, Paine, etc. would be seen as traitors and shame would be put on those descended from people who fought on the side of the rebels.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              > I too believe in moving controversial statues to museums where their record can be displayed to put them into context.

              Theoretically, I agree, but’s not on offer. The choice before us is to leave them up or pull them down. There are issues of “where to draw the line” but I’m all for undoing as much of the damage that “Lost Cause” propaganda did as possible. s

  15. McWatt

    Many years ago in the early days of Wikipedia I heard someone on the radio say “If you want to see every lie ever told about you visit your Wikipedia page”. I thought “Isn’t Wikipedia just like an Encyclopedia only on line? They have to tell the truth”.

    No so. I looked at my Wikipedia page, and in those days you could help edit it. So I put the truth back in. A month or two later I revisited it, and it had all been changed back and even more lies added. So I changed it back. A week later it had been changed back again. I gave up.

    Wikipedia is a joke, if a nobody like me can’t have the truth told about their career what about someone of importance?

  16. Amfortas the hippie

    I’d like to thank NC, in toto, for turning me on to Treehugger…specifically because of this, which I happened upon in the margins, and answered a very pressing question: what am I gonna do with that giant bowl of grapes that Mom foolishly picked before they were ready?

    They’re in the oven right now.
    we’ll see what happens,lol.

    and since I’m threadjacking and all, I’ll add this for y’all so inclined, to wander in a bit.
    I have this plant all over…it’s insidious!…and never knew what it was…although I suspected it was a Mallow of some kind. Turns out it’s edible:
    a neat website that’s invigorated my understanding of my most local environs.
    Here’s another plant that I’ve kept around because I like the flowers. It’s a celery substitute:

    1. deplorado

      >> After the flower [of Malva neglecta ] comes the “cheese” which is a round seedpod. These seedpods are a good nibble when still green and tender.

      I’ve eaten the “cheese” looking pale-green seedpods as a child. Kids were just eating them for fun. I remember they tasted good, kind of like edamame.

      Great foraging website!

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        and/but…anything to do with eating wild plants, i always look for at least one other source.
        like that site’s entry for Cucurbita foetidissima(buffalo gourd):

        they mention the toxicity, but IMO, not enough.
        3 sources in my Library say that the caustic properties of the seeds can really mess you up—burn you from the inside out—, so care must be taken to not just roast the seeds, but to do so with actual flame…to scorch them. I pull those vines all the time(decent cordage when dried; like for tying tomatoes), and they, and the flesh of the gourds, do, in fact, burn one’s skin.
        We have those things all over the place…squirrels love them, and inadvertently plant them everywhere they’re not already(like in the garden beds)
        but I’d hafta be pretty hungry to try them(the roots are a starch source, apparently…there’s great big stone “ovens” on the Llano River near me, where Native Americans we don’t have a name for were cooking them millennia ago…but they are deep, and hard to get at without a number of strapping youths)

        still, a pretty neat site that feels as if it were made for where i live.

    2. jo6pac

      Sadly there hasn’t been anything new from Treehugger and I do hope they stay around.

      Thanks for the links

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