2:00PM Water Cooler 7/13/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. Our five problem states, with New York for comparison:

I’ll just keep doing this one until I see a peak followed by a decline. CA had a big drop, but it could be an artifact. So did Florida. (Seems like the “first wave” is geographically and chronologically distributed. It will be interesting to see if and when New York starts going up again.)

World cases, United States and China highlighted:

Sure, China is China, but it would take data manipulation on a world-historic scale to get them into our league. USA! USA!

UPDATE “Official Covid-19 Statistics Are Missing Something Critical” [Elemental]. “At the moment, official record-keeping offers only three options when it comes to Covid-19: infection, recovery, or death…. But these official statistics miss quite a lot. Specifically, they fail to represent Covid-19 morbidity — the harm that the disease causes, even in people that it doesn’t kill. In terms of measuring the long-term impact of the disease — and accurately evaluating risk — that’s a big problem…. All these early reports point to the possibility that Covid-19 causes acute infection, but also long-term inflammatory damage. Inflammatory diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide. If Covid-19 worsens these conditions — or causes its own long-term inflammatory damage — the result could be millions of additional deaths from heart disease, diabetes, asthma, and the like, especially in already vulnerable populations. These effects of the disease may not be apparent for years or decades.” • Ulp. Something to watch….

UPDATE “More than 1 in 3 Americans say they know someone who has been sick from coronavirus, survey shows” [USA Today]. “More than one-third of Americans (36%) say someone they know outside their immediate family or work has been sick with the coronavirus, according to a survey from the Democracy Fund and UCLA Nationscape Project. That number is more than triple the number in mid-March, when it was 11%…. Nearly three times as many Americans say someone in their workplace has been sick with coronavirus (17%) than in March (6%). ‘There’s just a much larger percentage of people today who are saying, ‘This is impacting me and my personal family,” says Robert Griffin, research director for the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group…. Latino and Black Americans have been three times as likely to become infected with the virus than white Americans. Black and Latino people are nearly twice as likely to die from the virus compared with white Americans, the Times reported.” • That’s an enormous constituency. Good thing liberal Democrats shut down those #MedicareForAll nuts in time.

UPDATE FL After Disney’s re-opening:


“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune

“They had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.” –Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord

The electoral map. As of July 12: Wisconsin moves from Toss-up to Leans Democratic. On July 7, the undecided votes were 86. Now they are 56. This puts Biden at 278, i.e. over 270.

Click the map to create your own at 270toWin.com

So, taking the consensus as a given, 270 (total) – 204 (Trump’s) = 66. Trump must win 66 from the states in play: AZ (11), FL (29), MI (16), NC (15), PA (20), and WI (10) plus 1 to win not tie = 102. 102 – 66 = 36. So if Trump wins FL, MI, NC, and PA (29 + 16 + 15 + 20 = 80), he wins. That’s a heavy lift. I think I’ve got the math right this time!


Patient readers who were also Sanders canvassers, thank you for your responses. I am mulling them. I may end up doing a survey, hopefully not too onerous. –lambert

UPDATE Biden (D)(1):

Really? You’re gonna wangle me a no-show job at $50,000 a month with a shady Ukranian natural gas company? Look, I support a Jobs Guarantee, but surely this is carrying things too far?

UPDATE Sanders (D)(1):

This ain’t it, chief. This is not “the key political question of our time.”

Trump (R)(1): “Donald Trump’s base-first strategy is working — and dooming him” [CNN]. “[M]ore than 9 in 10 (91%) Republicans now approve of the job Trump is doing in office. That’s up from 85% who said the same in the last Gallup poll, which was conducted in early June. Which makes perfect sense! Trump has leaned hard into his base-first strategy over the last month as he looks for a handhold amid a political free fall. He’s talked relentlessly about the lawlessness of the protests in the wake of the death of George Floyd in late May in Minnesota. He’s appealed to a defense of ‘our heritage.’ He’s cast the very fabric of America as tearing — thanks to the assault of a liberal horde intent on destroying everything that made America great. ‘Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children,’ Trump argued in a speech on July 3 at Mount Rushmore. The problem for Trump, politically speaking, is that every political action — or at least this political action — has an equal and opposite reaction. Which, in this case, is a drop in Trump’s support among independents — and even Democrats.”

Trump (R)(2): “What 9 GOP Campaign Consultants Really Think About Republicans’ Chances in November” [Tim Miller, Rolling Stone]. “I reached out to nine of my former allies and rivals who still consult for Republican candidates at the highest levels of Senate and House races, some who have gone full MAGA and others for whom the president is not their cup of tea. I asked them to speak candidly, without their names attached, to learn about the real behind-the-scenes conversations about the state of affairs. How is the president’s performance impacting their candidate? Are there discussions about either storming the cockpit or gently trying to #WalkAway from Trump? And finally, why in the hell aren’t they more pissed at this incompetent asshole who is fucking up their lives? What I found in their answers was one part Stockholm Syndrome, one part survival instinct. They all may not love the president, but most share his loathing for his enemies on the left, in the media, and the apostate Never Trump Republicans with a passion that engenders an alliance with the president, if not a kinship. And even among those who don’t share the tribalistic hatreds, they perceive a political reality driven by base voters and the president’s shitposting that simply does not allow for dissent. As one put it: ‘There are two options, you can be on this hell ship or you can be in the water drowning.'” • I know the feeling…

Trump (R)(3): “Trump gets some good election news: GOP voter registrations outpace Dems” [Politico]. “Late last month, the Democratic data firm TargetSmart found that while new voter registrations had plummeted amid the coronavirus pandemic, those who were registering in competitive states tended to be whiter, older and less Democratic than before…. The study from TargetSmart was especially alarming for Democrats because it spotlighted not only falling registrations, but which party was damaged most in battleground states. In a majority of 10 states TargetSmart studied, registrations skewed older and whiter than before the pandemic. And in the states included in the study that register by party — Florida, Colorado, Maine, North Carolina and Pennsylvania — Democrats made up a smaller share of new registrants than before…. Because overall registration numbers have been so low across the board during the pandemic, Republican gains during that period have been too small in most cases to make up for months of pre-pandemic Democratic advances.” • And there’s been an uptick since the George Floyd demonstrations.

* * *

UPDATE “Faced with coronavirus, Republican and Democratic leaders overhaul convention plans” [USA Today]. “Some have speculated about a “virtual convention” – a combination of Zoom meetings and live-streamed speeches – although what that would look like isn’t clear. DNC officials are remaining tight-lipped but expect to announce some plans soon, perhaps by the end of the month.” • From the Twitter, so cum grano salis, but it looks like USA Today isn’t current on the story:

“Programming will include both live broadcasts and curated content” cerainly doesn’t sound like a live feed from the floor. Yikes.

“Republican anxiety grows as Democratic Senate challengers outraise incumbents” [CNN]. “Democratic Senate candidates, spurred by anger at President Donald Trump and hope that the party could take back the Senate, have posted massive second quarter fundraising numbers this month, distressing Republicans who now fear November’s election could be devastating. The hauls are giving some Republicans déjà vu, reminding them of the 2018 midterms, when dozens of Democratic challengers across the country consistently outraised Republican incumbents. That fundraising superiority led Democrats to take back the House. Some of the most substantial numbers have come in deep red states that Trump won handily in 2016. In South Carolina, Democrat Jaime Harrison announced on Tuesday that his campaign raised nearly $14 million in the second quarter, building on the $7.3 million he raised in the first quarter. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham has not yet released his second quarter fundraising totals, but Harrison outraised Graham’s $5.7 million in the first three months of 2020. In Kentucky, Democrat Amy McGrath raised $17.4 million in the second quarter of 2020, according to a campaign official. McGrath is challenging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a strong fundraiser, but Democrats are hopeful that McGrath’s ability to raise millions could keep a tough race close.” • Sending a lot of Democrat strategists’ kids to college!

“Ex-Sanders aides launch pro-Biden ad targeting Latino voters” [Politico]. “A pair of super PACs launched by top aides to Bernie Sanders’ 2020 campaign is rolling out its first presidential campaign ad. The spot, shared with POLITICO, targets Latino voters and attacks President Donald Trump over his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is part of a seven-figure buy that will appear on TV and digitally in Arizona, Michigan and North Carolina, in Spanish as well as English…. The advertisement was the combined effort of Nuestro PAC, launched by ex-Sanders senior adviser Chuck Rocha, and America’s Progressive Promise, which was founded by top Sanders aide Jeff Weaver. The operatives are looking to persuade Sanders supporters, particularly Latino voters, young people and progressives, to back former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee.”

When Democrats suddenly grow spines:

And 2016 was a walk in the park compared to 2020.

Realignment and Legitimacy

The Great Assimilation™:

Welcome to The Resistance!

On political parties, a thread:

Obviously, the “left” — even if you include the DSA — is very far from even raising such issues.

Cancel culture defined:

Seems that social media has enabled a particularly virulent form of groupthink.

* * *

UPDATE “Your Absentee Vote May Not Count” [Bklyner]. “Thousands of absentee ballots in Brooklyn and across the city are likely to be invalidated by the city’s Board of Elections, after many were not marked with a cancellation notice, or postmark, at post offices in the city…. ‘It’s a mass disenfranchisement of voters who did everything right but somehow their envelope didn’t get postmarked through no fault of their own,’ Steiner told Bklyner, “and because of that their vote gets discarded.” • Just in case you don’t live in New York or California, and have the idea that Democrats don’t disenfranchise voters.

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.

Employment Situation: “The impact of social distancing on leisure and hospitality” [The Fred Blog]. ”

The GeoFRED map above shows the percent change in employment levels in the leisure and hospitality industry by U.S. state between May 2019 and May 2020. Note that the data are seasonally adjusted. That means they discount regularly occurring increases and decreases in activity due to seasonal demand, such as winter skiing in Colorado or summer vacationing in Florida. The number of employees in the leisure and hospitality industry decreased in all 50 states during May compared with a year ago. That decrease ranged from 18% in Oklahoma to 62% in New York. The median value was 38%.” • Handy map:

Purple is high, dark green is low, white is in the middle. (Is that color scheme weird?)

* * *

The Bezzle: “Why general artificial intelligence will not be realized” [Nature]. “[W]hen one looks at what has actually been accomplished compared to what is promised, the discrepancy is striking. I shall later give some examples. One explanation for this discrepancy may be that profit is the main driving force, and, therefore, many of the promises should be regarded as marketing. However, although commercial interests no doubt play a part, I think that this explanation is insufficient. I will add two factors: First, one of the few dissidents in Silicon Valley, Jerone Lanier, has argued that the belief in scientific immortality, the development of computers with super-intelligence, etc., are expressions of a new religion, “expressed through an engineering culture” (Lanier, 2013, p. 186). Second, when it is argued that computers are able to duplicate a human activity, it often turns out that the claim presuppose an account of that activity that is seriously simplified and distorted. To put it simply: The overestimation of technology is closely connected with the underestimation of humans.” • See robot cars.

UPDATE The Bezzle:

“Any system thst can be gamed will be gamed” is an elegant restatement of the phishing equilibrium concept.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 62 Greed (previous close: 59 Greed;) [CNN]. One week ago: 51 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 13 at 12:09pm. Fully shifted into Greed mode.

Rapture Index: Closes down one on Food Supply. “Fears of Covid-19 related food shortages have not panned out” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 184. Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing. The Rapture crowd believes in a V-shaped recovery? Really? Apparently so!

Health Care

“Surgeon general says U.S. can reverse coronavirus surge in a few weeks ‘if everyone does their part'” [The Hill]. “”Just as we’ve seen cases skyrocket, we can turn this thing around in two to three weeks if we can get a critical mass of people wearing face coverings, practicing at least six feet of social distancing, doing the things that we know are effective,” [Surgeon General Jerome Adams] said. ‘And it’s important for the American people to understand when we’re talking about the fall, we have the ability to turn this around very quickly if people will do the right thing.'” • Good for him. But then there’s this: “Adams said mandates requiring face coverings work best on the local and state levels, arguing a federal mandate could lead to issues with ‘overpolicing.’ ‘We need people to understand why they’re doing it, and we need people to understand how they benefit from it,’ he said. ‘If we just try to mandate it, you have to have an enforcement mechanism, and we’re in the midst of a moment where overpolicing has caused many different individuals to be killed for very minor offenses. That is a very important consideration.'” • I’m not sure he’s wrong. But it does call into question the liberal Democrat mantra that the only missing ingredient is leadership. What if the dogs don’t eat the dog food? And speaking of dog food–

“Column: Hey, Hollywood, we could use a snappy ‘wear the damn mask’ campaign right now” [Los Angeles Times]. • Interesting:

{H]ow hard was it to wear a seat belt? Or to stop flicking lit cigarettes into the brush and leaving campfires burning in the forest? How hard was it to quit thinking it was OK to throw bags of trash out the car window?

Hard enough to warrant some fairly serious and successful PSA campaigns.

Smokey the Bear has been warning us that “Only you can prevent forest fires” since the 1940s, and the 1971 “Keep American Beautiful” “Crying Indian” commercial (though problematic in many other ways including the fact that the “Indian” was portrayed not by a Native American but an Italian American) kept many bags of trash in the car, and is still considered one of the best ads of all time.

Smokey Bear was created Aug. 9, 1944, as a property of the U.S. government. During World War II, government officials were worried that enemies might set fire to U.S. forests to destroy an important resource: timber.

These and other campaigns, including Woodsy the Owl (“Give a hoot, don’t pollute!”) helped modify many types of harmful behavior over the years — but it’s the “Crash Dummies” series that provides the best “wear a mask” model.

The federal law requiring seat belts in all vehicles passed in 1968, but by 1985, only 21% of Americans were using them. Car seats? Forget about it — kids just rolled around in the back of station wagons half the time. Then, in an effort to decrease the number of car accident fatalities, the U.S. Department of Transportation partnered with the Ad Council to produces a series of ads featuring two crash test dummies.

Over the next six years, Vince and Larry tried to explain, and often vividly show, the need for buckling up. Each spot ended with the memorable tagline “You could learn a lot from a dummy” and, in conjunction with the passage of many state laws, helped almost quadruple the safety-belt compliance rate.

UPDATE “Bottleneck for U.S. Coronavirus Response: The Fax Machine” [New York Times]. “The absence of a standard digital process is hampering case reporting and contact tracing, crucial to slowing the spread of the disease. Many labs joined the effort but had limited public health experience, increasing the confusion.” • Horror story after horror story. Now we are testing, but we can’t interpret the results. Maybe we could be looking to First World countries with functional health care systems to see how they handle these issues. For example, “in other countries, like Britain and Canada, patient data travels with a unique number that identifies whom it belongs to.” Naturally, the reporters don’t mention what these countries (and Taiwan, and South Korea) have in common.

“A New Understanding of Herd Immunity” [The Atlantic]. “But the effects of the coronavirus are not linear. The virus affects individuals and populations in very different ways. The case-fatality rate varies drastically between adults under 40 and the elderly. This same characteristic variability of the virus—what makes it so dangerous in early stages of outbreaks—also gives a clue as to why those outbreaks could burn out earlier than initially expected. In countries with uncontained spread of the virus, such as the U.S., exactly what the herd-immunity threshold turns out to be could make a dramatic difference in how many people fall ill and die. Without a better plan, this threshold—the percentage of people who have been infected that would constitute herd immunity—seems to have become central to our fates. Some mathematicians believe that it’s much lower than initially imagined. At least, it could be, if we choose the right future.” • The article goes on to give estimates like 20% and 40%. Well worth a read, disagree or not. But “In countries with uncontained spread of the virus, such as the U.S….” Holy moley.

* * *

Airborne transmission:

“How can airborne transmission of COVID-19 indoors be minimised?” [Environment International]. “[E]xisting evidence is sufficiently strong to warrant engineering controls targeting airborne transmission as part of an overall strategy to limit infection risk indoors. Appropriate building engineering controls include sufficient and effective ventilation, possibly enhanced by particle filtration and air disinfection, avoiding air recirculation and avoiding overcrowding. Often, such measures can be easily implemented and without much cost, but if only they are recognised as significant in contributing to infection control goals. We believe that the use of engineering controls in public buildings, including hospitals, shops, offices, schools, kindergartens, libraries, restaurants, cruise ships, elevators, conference rooms or public transport, in parallel with effective application of other controls (including isolation and quarantine, social distancing and hand hygiene), would be an additional important measure globally to reduce the likelihood of transmission and thereby protect healthcare workers, patients and the general public.”

“Airborne coronavirus transmission, explained” [Vox]. This is useful: “Perhaps a part of the reason the WHO has been slow to address the airborne transmission of Covid-19 is because in a health care setting, ‘airborne’ means a very specific thing. Though infection prevention experts know there’s a fuzzy boundary between drops that fall and specks that float, the dichotomy between airborne and droplet-borne is baked into how health care workers are trained to respond to outbreaks. ‘We’ve trained [health care workers] for decades to say, airborne is tuberculosis, measles, chickenpox, droplet is flu and pertussis and meningitis,’ Saskia Popescu, a hospital epidemiologist in Arizona, says. ‘And that’s, unfortunately, kind of antiquated. But that’s how we’ve always done it.’ They do it because there are very specific sets of guidelines in place to deal with extremely contagious airborne diseases in a hospital setting. For instance, a patient with a dangerous airborne disease often needs to be put in a room with an air pressure lower than the rest of the rooms in the building. That way, no virus in the air of that room can escape it (since air flows from high pressure to low pressure). For droplet transmission, health care workers can be a little more lax; they can wear simple surgical masks during routine care and can save high-filtration (and sometimes scarce) respirators for the most dangerous procedures and cases. In this light, it makes some sense that the WHO has been hesitant to label Covid-19 an ‘airborne’ infection. It’s not an airborne infection like measles is. It is not as contagious. Contact tracing studies consistently find that Covid-19 is spread most readily among people in the closest physical contact to one another. ‘Airborne’ means something very specific, very resource-intensive, and very scary for hospitals and the people who work in them. And Covid-19 doesn’t match that definition.” • I wonder if we’re optimizing too much for hospitals (that is, in the United States, for enormous profit centers). I can think of three other examples: Ventilators (which turned out to be awful for patients), hydrochloroquinine studies that were not prophylactics, and, of course, Fauci and WHO’s noble lie about masks.

UPDATE “Japan has long accepted COVID’s airborne spread, and scientists say ventilation is key” [CBS]. “This densely populated country has operated for months on the assumption that tiny, ‘aerosolized’ particles in crowded settings are turbo-charging the spread of the new coronavirus. Large droplets expelled through the nose and mouth tend to fall to the ground quickly, explained Makoto Tsubokura, who runs the Computational Fluid Dynamics lab at Kobe University. For these larger respiratory particles, social distancing and face masks are considered adequate safeguards. But in rooms with dry, stale air, Tsubokura said his research showed that people coughing, sneezing, and even talking and singing, emit tiny particles that defy gravity — able to hang in the air for many hours or even days, and travel the length of a room. The key defense against aerosols, Tsubokura said, is diluting the amount of virus in the air by opening windows and doors and ensuring HVAC systems circulate fresh air. In open-plan offices, he said partitions must be high enough to prevent direct contact with large droplets, but low enough to avoid creating a cloud of virus-heavy air (55 inches, or head height.) Small desk fans, he said, can also help diffuse airborne viral density.” • I am not in quaratine now, but when I go to a coffee shop, I bring a small, USB fan that my laptop can run.

Our Famously Free Press

“Chatham Asset Management, a hedge fund, has won the auction to buy the McClatchy newspaper chain” [Poynter]. “The stage was set for the McClatchy family to relinquish control and put the company into bankruptcy. They chose to do so after failing to get a waiver from the Internal Revenue Service or the PBGC for pension payments due this year that the company would be unable to make. Chatham also controls American Media Inc., which includes the National Enquirer (which it announced in April 2019 had been sold — though the transaction has never closed). It also has a controlling interest in Postmedia, a large Canadian chain. Chatham has managed each with a light hand. And since it has been in a position to influence decisions in McClatchy for some time, my guess is that deep cuts or other radical action once it owns the company are not likely.” • Maybe. Before McClatchy was McClatchy, it was Knight-Ridder, the only “newsgathering” organization that did not support Bush’s WMD scam that helped justifiy the Iraq War (looking at you David Frum). So McClatchy goes under, while the warmongering Washington Post and New York Times go from strength to strength.

Sports Desk

There is masking in baseball:

The Tube

“It Looks Like a Reality Show. Why Not Just Make It One?” [New York Times]. Those smiles. I want to slap some sense into them. Anyhow: “[M]any wonder if a new wave of unscripted shows about the lives of young influencers could captivate the next generation of viewers.” • The shows are thoroughly scripted. Just not by scriptwriters.

L’Affaire Joffrey Epstein

“Ghislaine Maxwell’s House” [Virtual Globetrotting]. What an interesting site: “View amazing and beautiful satellite imagery from across the globe. Celebrity homes, roadside attractions, movie locations, landmarks, military, and more!” For example, “Billionaire & Millionaire Homes” (always assuming, of course, that the family office didn’t intervene with Google and fake data. Not that I’m foily).

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Trump Financial Regulator Quietly Shelved Discrimination Probes Into Bank of America and Other Lenders” [Pro Publica]. “Since President Donald Trump took office, the OCC has quietly shelved at least six investigations of discrimination and redlining, according to internal agency documents and eight people familiar with the cases. Flagstar Bank, a leading lender in Michigan, wrongly charged Black homeowners more through a network of mortgage lending affiliates, OCC officials concluded in 2017. That same year, agency examiners found that Colorado Federal Bank, an online lender, was doing the same to female borrowers. Another inquiry by OCC officials concluded that Chicago-based MB Financial, a lender acquired by Fifth Third Bank last year, charged Latinos too much on mortgage loans. Cadence Bank, a lender in several Southern states, was turning away minority borrowers in Houston, according to an OCC investigation. Fulton Bank, a lender based in Pennsylvania, had been discriminating against minorities in parts of Richmond, Virginia, and its home state, regulators concluded. In each case, despite staff recommendations that fines or other penalties be imposed, the OCC took no public action and closed the investigations quietly. In the past, banks have had to pay substantial sums after similar investigations.”

Guillotine Watch

“Stocks Generate Big Gains and Bigger Questions” [New York Times]. “‘We’ve gotten the gains, now we’ve gone too far,’ said Tobias Levkovich, chief United States equity strategist at Citi Research. ‘What happens to the tens of millions of unemployed? Retailers are closing stores. Where do those jobs go?'” • IBGYBG. That’s what happens.

Class Warfare

“A Quiet Genocide: Rural America and the Continuing Plague” [The Muckrake]. “A child of rural America, I’m now hearing horror stories of mounting tension and spreading infection. Our rural communities, middle America, the interior of the country, is swimming in coronavirus. Confirmed cases are growing, doubling in some cases, even while testing remains virtually inaccessible in these regions. It’s going to get even worse, especially if we reopen America, or whatever slogan they’ll try next, and, most tragically, these deaths will probably never be known or counted…. Right now, following decades of top-down, Reaganomics manipulation, the rural parts of our country have been devastated. They’ve been hollowed out by Walmart. By corporations looting, polluting, and addicting Americans to drugs that are designed to be addictive. The schools are falling apart or can’t hire teachers. There are no jobs. There is no local economy or culture. The towns are unconscious on their feet, ready to fall at the slightest breeze. And all of it has been by design. Like my family, rural Americans are more likely to have preexisting conditions. They’ve been worked hard, exploited by industry, exposed to chemicals, addicted to pain relievers and prescription medications. They are more likely not to have health insurance or at least decent health insurance. They are taught to grin and bear the pain, to avoid going to the doctor because the bills are exorbitantly high and can bankrupt them.” • All true. And if Trump weren’t so wussy, “genocide” is the word he would use. And he would be right (falling life expectancy; opiods). Of course, he didn’t deliver on “stop the carnage,” but who delivers on anything?

“Mammoth Heat Wave Lasting “Weeks” Will Cause Painful Spike In Utility Bills For Poor Americans” [Forbes]. “‘Hot and humid conditions are likely to persist with much-above-normal temperatures predicted for much of the country during the last two weeks of July,’ the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said today. For many Americans, the timing could not be worse. America’s public spaces and offices are still mostly closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, depriving Americans of cool places of refuge such as shopping malls and movie theaters, and instead forcing them to crank up air-conditioning units inside their homes. For low-income families and the 11.1% of the workforce that is unemployed, air-conditioning will either be a luxury they can’t afford or a burden that pushes them closer to financial ruin.” • Or a way of recirculating the virus in a closed system, which is bad.

News of the Wired

UPDATE “A Healing Handicraft” [JAMA]. • A lovely story about knitting. Well worth a read.

These are prayer flags, not garbage:

Nevertheless, I can’t help but think that the best prayer flags of all would be the clouds and the wind.

“Noisomeness” [London Review of Books]. Smells have a cultural history. Here is an interesting nugget: “In 1893 the medical officer appointed for schools in Bradford found that more than a third of the first three hundred children he inspected hadn’t removed their clothes for at least six months.” • Perhaps that’s why Bruegel’s children look the way they do:

McMansion Hell, but for Shutters:

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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 plan (CM):

CM writes: “Springtime in a Grey County (Ontario) marsh! The dogwoods and marsh marigolds are showing their colors before they get hidden by reeds.” The composition is what it is because the things in themselves are what they are :-)

And is a garden project (CO):

CO writes: “You said you’d like a picture of our garden projects. This garden is in the “Driftless” area of Wisconsin.” The beds are structured so that gate is really inviting.

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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. Tom_Doak

    “Sure, China is China, but it would take data manipulation on a world-historic scale to get them into our league.”

    As if we are not already trying to outdo them in manipulating the data!

    1. Howard Beale IV

      China is an authoritarian command-driven economy – when the Politboro says “Jump!” those who don’t say “How High?” magically disappear, quite unlike Russia’s open affection for defenestration as a control mechanism.

      Now that Pompeo has come out with his penis-slamming-the-table edict over the South China Sea, it will be fascinating to see how quickly the People’s Revolutionary Navy puts the squeeze on that area – especially given that our COVID-19-laden ships are so far away and out of position from that area to be of any value….

      1. Briny

        USS Nimitz and USS Reagan carrier battlegroups are jointly operating in the area so they are definitely not out of the OPAREA.

    2. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

      first the missile gap.
      then the mineshaft gap
      now the fake data gap.

      I only trust shadowstats. Which you guys turned me on to.

  2. John A

    Noisomeness” [London Review of Books]. Smells have a cultural history. Here is an interesting nugget: “In 1893 the medical officer appointed for schools in Bradford found that more than a third of the first three hundred children he inspected hadn’t removed their clothes for at least six months.

    Supposedly, back in the day, people smeared themselves in goose fat and then sewed themselves into their clothes to last through the winter.

    1. Off The Street

      The lucky ones got the Saturday night bath, where age had privileges and youth got colder, soapier, dirtier water.

    2. Otto

      According to Hilary Mantel, (Wolf Hall, etc.,), in a radio interview she insisted that during the 1500-1600s, that people bathed every day and were sensitive about being clean. After reading many histories of England and sociology, I’ve come to the conclusion the middle to late 1800s were insane, completely in so many ways. So I’m not surprised to hear this.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        There are periods where people like to wake up and pretend everything was invented later that very afternoon and with this you get wild myths about the past.

    3. Edward

      I learned during a tour of Quebec city that in the good old days people considered bathing a health risk. The triangular hats they wore were designed to channel sewage tossed from chamber pots away from the wearer. Now that is herd immunity.

    4. jr

      I can’t recall the source, it may have been in a history by Braudel, but there was an account of medieval French peasants who would simply hibernate through doldrums of the winter, families literally sleeping for weeks, rising only to nibble food and water, purge, maybe feed the chickens, and climb back into the sack.

  3. Adam1

    Marsh Marigolds… where I grew up my grandmother always refereed to them as Cows Slip. She also like them steamed like spinach.

          1. ambrit

            Hmmm… You place me in a quandary.
            If I take that order, and state that I will fill it, you know that the mavens and boffins here will tear me limb from limb for violating the “keep it real” statute that prevails here.
            So, alas, in the interests of self preservation, I am going to have to direct your steps towards Wall Street and the Venture Capital funds, if it’s unicorns you want.

  4. Tom Doak

    Also, re: the green and purple map of hospitality activity: restaurants in Michigan have quickly reacted to the situation by setting up tables outside in the parking lot or wherever they can, but I wonder if any of them have thought about how that will work come November?

    1. Otto

      Yes, and more then one car or truck (mostly pickups) have whacked people eating, so there’s that

    2. Darthbobber

      Nobody has such a long horizon. They’ll worry about November if they survive the preceding months

    3. Keith

      Propane heaters. They were used to great effect in Santiago Chile when I was there for school in the winter. Another plus, gas should be cheap for a while, helping them out. They even have enclosures for more heating, with sides closed but top open.

    4. crittermom

      Restaurants in Colorado began doing that, as well. They close the street & put out tables.

      Regarding staying warm, I’ve been at mountain bars that provided these where they had outdoor seating when the weather turned cooler…

  5. Carolinian

    a new wave of unscripted shows about the lives of young influencers

    Aieee. It’ll be improv The West Wing–perhaps featuring some of those “young influencers” at the NY Times who are suggesting it.

    Thank goodness I don’t watch TV anymore except for PBS nature shows. There are rumors our very own president was once a reality TV star. Surely a return of the unscripted plague not desirable.

  6. Krystyn Podgajski

    “Progressive organizations that presume to move in the interest of the masses must constantly confront the psychology of power.“ -David Lee Cox

    The only goal of gaining power is to dismantle it.

  7. Synoia

    “Why general artificial intelligence will not be realized”

    Because it first requires real intelligence.

    If that is difficult to understand, then watch Trump on TV.

    Or define what “win” is in the war on Terror.

    1. Krystyn Podgajski

      As I said to a friend recently, the problem with artificial intelligence is that it lacks wisdom.

      1. Foy

        Hey Krystyn, you may be interested in the writings of Bernardo Kastrup, who has a Ph.D. in computer engineering and worked at CERN, and also has a Ph.D. in Philosophy (ontology, philosophy of the mind). He has worked a lot in artificial intelligence and he says that artificial intelligence with something like consciousness can’t be created as matter is quantitative (mass charge momentum etc) but feelings eg the feeling of the colour red, or love, or despair which are qualitative (and I guess could be could ‘wisdom’), and can’t be created from something that is purely quantitative, which is what science and materialism say the physical world is. This is the hard problem of consciousness.

        A red colour wavelength only has mathematical quantitative properties according to science, so any AI can never achieve a qualitative feeling the colour red generates like a human feels. It can only ever be a robot. Wisdom I feel is a qualitative process hence AI wont achieve it.

        In order to explain consciousness and qualitative processing he’s got a fascinating theory of the the universal mind. He suggest the universal mind has the ability to create alters (individual isolated consciousnesses eg people animals etc) much the same way that in a dream we create different things/individuals or a someone with Disassociated Identity Disorder can create completely differentiated personas all within their one mind. And recent findings in Quantum Mechanics support it.

        “the physical world is exactly what it seems to be, in the sense that it consists solely of the concrete qualities we experience as physicality—namely, the colors we see, the smells we feel, etc. Therefore, the physical world exists entirely within our mind… But not within our head! Our body is itself part of the physical world, so it is our body that is in our mind, not the other way around.” The world as we see it (plants animals stars other humans) is the image that of mind


        The material universe is how the universal mind presents itself, and human body/brain is how other individual consciousnesses present and are perceived by the subject. This allows qualitative feelings and processes to occur. I wont try to explain any more here as i wont do it justice, but I know this stuff is up your alley as it incorporates Eastern Philosophy, Tao etc, you might enjoy reading it!

        1. jr


          Kastrup drives his sword right into the heart of the matter. Consciousness is irreducible, it is the fundamental “stuff” of reality. No one, and I mean no one, can figure out where it comes from. No one can say how hydrogen atoms gave rise to the Upanishads, spaghetti bolognese, or Dachau. The dreaded “hard problem”, a knot so tangled that some pretend it doesn’t exist at all:


          Or check out the comic fumblings of DeGrasse or Nye for crude materialistic explanations of mind, you know, the guys who opine on the worthlessness of philosophy without realizing they are engaging in philosophy when they critique the value of it. Such a paradox would blow their circuits, anyway.

          But if you start from the premise that consciousness is primary, things start to make a lot more sense, as I see it. The “hard problem” goes away first thing, you don’t have to explain mind in terms of matter, rather it’s “matter” in terms of mind. Not your mind, or my mind. Rather, Our mind.

          Kastrup provides one of many valuable allegories and metaphors to help explain this. There is Consciousness, in the beginning so to speak. It’s like a river. Now, when you look at a river, you see patterns, for simplicities sake lets say ripples and whirlpools.

          Ripples are inert “matter”, the non-living substances, rocks and plastics and water and whatever. Living organisms are whirlpools, with an “internal perspective”, they have an “pocket” of Consciousness that is disassociated from the Whole. Small “c” consciousness, if you will. Not utterly cut off, that’s impossible, but tangled around It’s self so much It can “see” Itself. As an it.

          Another way to say it is that inert matter is the dream stuff of God, yes the “G” word, living organisms are the lucid dreams of God. Just as when you dream lucidly, you have agency in disassociated imagination, so to does God. It’s you. These ideas are of course encapsulated in both ancient wisdom and religious thought and more recently idealist ontology, Kastrup has honed and polished them to a gleam.

          Another Kastrupian way to think of the difference between materialist and idealist treatments of mind is through the metaphor of a lightning bolt. When we see one, we don’t say the bolt was caused by an electrical discharge in the air, it IS the discharge. Similarly, when one looks at an active brain scan, the neurons in the image aren’t causing the mind, they are the image, the bolt if you will, of the mind in action.

          Please note this conception of God is not the Old Man in the Sky reclining on a cloud, counting dead sparrows as the saying goes. You don’t have to use that word at all: Dharma, Mind at Large, Ain Soph, the Unity, the All…all are labels for what is by necessity a Mystery so make up a name if you like. Religious notions of this Mystery are only fragments, glimmers, shallow hints of the Truth that lays beyond.

          1. Foy

            Thanks JR. Yes I really like Kastrup’s analogies of the lightning bolt and the discharge, or the whirpool, and and active brain scan and the neurons in the image being the image of the mind (consciousness) in action. I’ve been reading for years this type of idea where our dream sequences are an example of what is happening on the larger scale, (think I first read it in the writings of Paul Brunton ages ago and it jumped out at me then) but Kastrup has really “polished them to a gleam” as you say.

            As he says Disassociative Identity Disorders demonstrates empirically that subject decomposition occurs. There is no question about plausibility, even if there are no conceptual models at all to explain how it works. We don’t know how DID works but it happens. And I there are disparate, seemingly autonomous characters in my dreams when I have them, but I don’t think my mind doesn’t get divided into pieces when that happens.

            And De Gasse would drive me nuts if I allowed him to!

            Glad someone else has also discovered Kastrup!

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Yes, I’m fully aware that the expert consensus in 2016 was wrong. Not “fake,” except in the sense that the entire political class is what it is (i.e., not “fake” in the sense that counterfeit Gucci purses are fake, or eveb Judy Miller’s stories on WMDs in the Times).

      1. a different chris

        >counterfeit Gucci purses are fake

        At least they are real purses. If only our political class could fake something that still is useful in some way.

      2. Biph

        The national numbers for the presidential race were right, HRC was ahead by 2-4% in the polls and won the popular vote by 2.5%, where it was wrong was in calling WI, PA and MI as small HRC wins they ended up being small Trump wins. I think HRC got a bounce that put her up by 6-8% right after the Dem convention, but that quickly returned to the +2-4% in national polls. Since covid kicked in to high gear Biden’s been +8-10% nationally even if Biden comes in at the low end of that number or slightly below, say wins nationally by 6-7%, it’ll be nearly impossible for him to not get 270+ EV’s.

        1. Very Well Paid Democrat Consultant

          “it’ll be nearly impossible for him to not get 270+ EV’s.”

          I’ll take those odds!

        2. ObjectiveFunction

          An all fronts media attempt to ‘talk past the sale’ here. Like doing business with sales shysters who refuse to hear No and keep trying to MoveOn to ‘next steps’ for as long as they can keep you on the phone or in the room.

          We haven’t seen the last of Biden’s senior moments, and we don’t yet have an Infanta (heir apparent, aka VP).

          I actually wonder whether Michelle might be their safest bet, along with a more or less open admission that this is Barack’s third term: unify, heal, hope, blah blah blah.

          I’m not saying this is a good thing, but given the Dem mentality that they must toss away the rulebook since Trump did, it isn’t unthinkable any more. I mean, they’re nominating a man with advancing senile dementia.

        1. ambrit

          I’m thinking of a super October Surprise, such as; a BLM/Al Qaeda ‘team’ does Disneyland.

          1. John k

            My imagination is trump promises to support and sign m4a, in contrast to Biden who promised to veto it. Watch Bernie tie himself into a knot…

            1. ambrit

              I would not put that past Trump. He can cite the coronavirus as the cause of his “road to Damascus” moment. He could use the “it’s good for business” argument to drag his traditional Republican ‘fellow travelers’ along with him.

  8. Geo

    ‘There are two options, you can be on this hell ship or you can be in the water drowning.’”

    A rising swamp lifts all boats… and if you don’t have a boat you either drown or get eaten by swamp creatures.

    1. Pookah Harvey

      I wish people would quit defaming swamps. The Everglades is a swamp. Washington DC. is a sewage pit.
      Hmm, on second thought that may be defaming sewage pits.

  9. Matthew G. Saroff

    Problem with attributing the change in attitude to the crash dummies, it took 25 YEARS 30 years, from the late 1960s until the early 90s, to get people to wear seat belts, and it was because seat belt laws were passed, not because of the dummies.

    I loved those dummy commercials, and I lost my mom to her not wearing a shoulder harness because she was too short for the early 1960s VW bug belts, but lets be realistic here: Hollywood did not do the moving and shaking here.

      1. Howard Beale IV

        It took decades for wearing a seat-belt to become common practice. Here you have something (a pathogen) that cannot be seen and all of a sudden mandate mask-wearing in under a six-month span – what the hell did you think what would happen?

        1. Yves Smith

          So you are saying Americans are more stupid than people in the Czech Republic, Asia, and the Nordic countries ex Sweden who’ve masked up? Or Americans at the time of the Spanish flu? Or people in New York City, who when I visited last month were all wearing masks, even when outdoors and some when exercising?

          1. Howard Beale IV

            With all due respect – yes, Americans are that stupid. If there is a saving grace, it is that not everybody is stupid at the same time.

            1. jr

              You’re confusing misled, poorly educated, repressed, misinformed, hornswoggled, balderdashed, kicked around, marginalized, and led down the path with stupidity. Not just in regards to COVID but in pretty much all avenues of life. The United States is the most heavily propagandized body of people in history. Stalin would have marveled, Hitler would have cried to see the mechanisms of disinformation the average USer deals with as a matter of course.

              Now, there will always be jerks who flout the rules, no doubt. But much of the resistance to safety measures we’re seeing here isn’t just mule headedness. It’s also an ideological breakdown. Many really think they are experiencing freedom when they chose not to wear a mask. Many also think that having a McDonalds vs. BK or Coke vs. Pepsi is freedom as well. It’s because their notions of freedom are warped, stunted intentionally by TPTB, like the medieval circuses who masked children in iron to deform their faces for display. And then this misshapen creature is told that this is the best of all possible worlds, that this is real liberty. The freedom to starve, the freedom to ignore science, the freedom to isolate and marginalize oneself with an AR15 Meetup or and an IDpol cuddle puddle. Purple ignorance.

              A concrete example: I watched a Youtube video a while back about this prepper type in Alaska. He lived on the far, far edge of a town on the far, far edge of civilization. He had his own homestead and spoke about the freedom he enjoyed, about how knuckle headed you have to be to live in a sub/urban setting. A real lone wolf type.

              One problem: the guy had some advanced neurological disease that confined him to an electric wheelchair! Utterly dependent on WiFi, high end electronics, high tech batteries, excetera, etc! Not to mention the very high probability he has a weekly home aide! But he is free, at least he thinks he, apparently because he is not burdened by building regulations like the poor fools in the one street town he desperately relies on.

          2. Bugs Bunny

            I’d say some Americans might be as stupid as the French who seem to have decided that it’s all over and time to party and head to the usual vacation spots. I see about 10% of people in shops wearing masks now, and we all have terrified looks in our eyes. There was a concert in Nice attended by about a thousand people the other night – no masks, no distancing.

            A group of doctors is outraged by the situation and published an open letter in Le Parisien yesterday, demanding that the government require masks in enclosed places or where social distancing can’t be maintained.

            We’re well on our way to a vacation second wave.

          3. Copeland

            I’m not calling my mom and dad stupid either, but they’re both at age 78 and have not been captured by the seat belt commercials, or the laws. They never wear them, ever. I doubt they’ve ever been ticketed either in the upper midwest USA, but perhaps one time in Ontario.

            And driving is literally their only hobby!

            1. Foy

              They may be great drivers but perhaps their success has more to do with the lottery of life and not having been rammed by a drunk driver that may have sufficiently tested their philosophy of not wearing seatbelts during their driving career?

          4. s.n.

            and the Nordic countries ex Sweden who’ve masked up

            just fyi….I’m all in favor of masking up, but here in Denmark you’ll see few if any masks worn outside of the airport (mandated only a few weeks ago) &/or hospitals / nursing homes. And it’s been that way since early March. The big public health measures here were early shutdown and a great emphasis on distancing and hand-disinfecting. Things are now going quite well here, with only a minor eruption in a small Jutland provincial city about 2 weeks ago

            1. Vilma Virtanen

              And the same here in Finland. You might see one person in a thousand wearing a mask and there is no social, legal or medical pressure to do so. We had early and comprehensive shutdown measures (now about 90% lifted) and social distancing was generally observed responsibly. And so far we have been quite successful: with a population of 5.5 million, we have had only 7295 confirmed cases and 329 deaths (Johns Hopkins).

        2. Kurt Sperry

          Where I live in Washington State mask wearing is now mandatory in pretty much any indoor public space and it is actually a misdemeanor offense not to wear one. Enforcement is up to the businesses, it is illegal for them to serve people not wearing a mask and they could lose their business license for not following this direction. The result, here at least, is nearly 100% compliance; everyone in the stores is now masked up.

          Based on this working even with nutty Americans, I’d argue that making mask wearing mandatory isn’t the compliance or enforcement problem people are imagining it to be. If it works in the US, it’ll work on all but the clinically insane.

      2. John k

        We’re doing everything Sweden did.
        And Brazil.
        The 1918 version died out after two years, granted a lot of people died.

  10. ptb

    re: florida covid numbers … median age of daily cases is inching up, now at 41 (was 36-37, 2 weeks ago)
    something to keep an eye on, due to massive electoral impact.

  11. Off The Street

    While there is much to lament in the Muckrake article, there is also much broader blame to ascribe. Bi-partisan blindness, indifference, graft, corruption, you-name-it, all contributed to the ills in rural America.

    Ross Perot, remember him, was right when he talked about NAFTA and that giant sucking sound of jobs disappearing. The exiting companies that devastated so much of the country had a lot of help by Senators and Congress-critters on both sides of the aisle. That is only one example of the malfeasance and willful nature of the best reps money can buy.

    Adding insult and death to injury, those opioids didn’t just prescribe or dispense themselves.

  12. tommy strange

    Cox, and the issue of Leninism and Maoism in the Panthers has been deeply discussed and written about since the 80’s. PM press and AK press have put out great books by ex panthers. Even University Press. Huey even de certified entire chapters over rifts. Not to belittle the gov’t cointelpro and actual murder…..but…this has been a topic on the real left, whatever that means since I was a kid. Most Panthers that are still active, have gone farther left, i.e. libertarian left……with no leaders…or at least no Leninism….

    1. Fwe'zy

      How many successful anarchist or libertarian revolutions have there been? The goal is indeed the withering away of the state and hierarchy. At this moment in historical and yooman development, that’s not only dicey, it’s downright CHOPpy. Burning Man revolutionaries. We’ve seen what happened there!

      We certainly don’t need charismatic leaders, but we do need leadership and organization, and we need to dedicate resources to human/ economic development in a way that fosters healthy, responsible, competent individuals in a web of life.

      How do libertarians feel about the inescapable reality of being in the water cycle along with the rest of us slobs? How would they enforce the necessary maintenance and other management requirements/ standards upstream and downstream?

      1. fwe'zy

        Clarification: I meant that we’ve seen what has happened to Burning Man, which started out with a radical mutual-aid-adjacent gift economy. Now it’s a festering sore of VIP lounges and other banality.

      1. John

        Why do we need conventions? They decide nothing. The primaries have picked the Presidential candidates since the 1970s (?). The presidential candidates pick the vice president. The rest is party housekeeping. Waste of time and money. I have not watched a convention in more than 30 years.

          1. ambrit

            Don’t get me started on my “Two Mommies” ‘conspiracy theory.’ I’m in enough trouble with the site admins as it is.

  13. JWP

    Conflating polls with outcomes already seems to be the theme among all sorts of predictors and media outlets. Its a lot easier to say “biden” into a phone than it is to register, vote, sign your ballot, and hope it gets counted. Let alone when no one has any idea how people will be able to vote in large numbers with a pandemic. Ky, NY, GA, already showing how bad it will be. I remain skeptical of a Biden blowout or even win until election day.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The largest difference in the polls between HRC and now is thone over 65 numbers, though my suspicion is the lack of another round of stimulus is the GOP strategy to force as many evictions as possible.

  14. Geo

    On the 10th Anniversary of “Shock & Awe” I wrote an email to Jonathan Landay who was one of the journalists (and at the time editor of foreign affairs) at McClatchy who reported on the fraudulent intel leading to the Iraq War. Just had to thank him and his staff for being the sole voice of truth in the media at that time.

    He wrote back: “Thanks much for the email. It’s a reminder of why we do what we do. Cheers. – Jonathan”

    Truly sad to see another truth teller fall while all the liars keep getting richer and promoted. Makes his response “why we do what we do” really make me depressed.

    1. sierra7

      Didn’t Gore Vidal label that very nicely:
      The “United States of Amnesia”
      How I miss that guy…..and Molly Ivans!

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        Miss Molly was the Real Deal.
        during a protest against an anti-homeless ordinance in Austin(early 90’s), I had constructed a teepee from bamboo and a sheet on the corner of Congress and 8th…and she showed up. I gave her the lawn chair that i had brought for myself, and shared the cheap beer(she sent my then wife with a 20 for more) and just sort of hung out with her, watching the marching and chanting.
        the most biting and vicious wit i’ve ever encountered.
        and did deadpan better than even me.
        a heavy loss for Texas, for sure.

  15. Wukchumni

    It’s a world of juvenile diversion,
    A world of potential infection always near.
    It’s a world of dashed hopes,
    And a profound lack of fear.

    There’s Covid-19 that we could share,
    That it’s time we’re aware,
    It’s a small world after all.

    It’s a small world after all.
    It’s a small world after all.
    It’s a small world after all.
    It’s a small, small world.

    There is just one little virus,
    Under the golden sun.
    And a maskless smile means,
    Screw you to every one.

    Though the Disney divide,
    Let the paying customers decide,
    It’s a small world after all.

    It’s a small world after all.
    It’s a small world after all.
    It’s a small world after all.
    It’s a small, small world.

  16. flora

    Thanks for the Muckrake link about the MSM-ignored disaster that’s been rolling across middle America since Reagan. I’m seeing it first hand.

    Also for the Black Panthers history link. I didn’t know any of this. I had to lookup the term ‘democratic centralism’. So, learned a new term!

    And thanks for the Pro Publica story about several big banks’ current redlining and lending discrimination. That stuff was made illegal decades ago. Jeez.

  17. Mel

    The times I’ve gone into town in the last couple of months, I’d been going around with my mask in my pocket watching all the other people not wearing masks. What it took today was the greeter/cart sanitizer at the supermarket asking “Do you have a mask?” Everybody else had a mask too, it turned out. Word at the Credit Union is that you can’t be inside without a mask. Masks are available there, for a $2 Food Bank donation. Maybe Federal enforcement will be needed for a couple of die-hard cases, but the softer methods will probably do fine, most of the time.

    1. Arizona Slim

      It’s been several months since I’ve been allowed into my credit union without a) an appointment and b) a mask.

      1. Mr. House

        i bought two cigars today to celebrate my younger brothers first born while wearing a mask.

  18. shinola

    The author of the ‘Rolling Stone’ article (What 9 GOP Campaign Consultants Really Think…) Tim Miller nearly blows his credibility in the 1st paragraph with this:

    [Trump]… “Being MIA while his Russian benefactors put out a hit on American soldiers in Afghanistan.”

    Tim should really try to get his TDS under control before he starts typing.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      I used to think of TDS as something like a virus, that could be caught, but then could also be recovered from. Given the state of things I decided to consult the Oracle of Google. I searched the phrase “nothing means anything anymore” and got several results for “aphasia”: the inability to understand what you hear, read, or say. This is often the result of a stroke.

      For me, it fits. The nation does not have a passing virus (TDS), the national body politic has suffered a massive stroke. Large swathes of formerly functional grey matter have gone dark. The body as a whole can no longer comprehend what is happening to it so it tends to lash out angrily and incoherently. For the obvious reasons Biden is the poster boy, only a nation that does not comprehend what is happening to it could arrive at the conclusion that an aphasic grandpa spouting policies from the 1990s could somehow make things better. I’m moving through the phases myself, from anger, through denial, through bargaining, through acceptance, and now to the pity one would reserve for a formerly great mind, still there in body but no longer able to create and process the commands required to function. Requiescat in pace America.

      1. Andrew Thomas

        Wow, does this sound familiar. Like hearing my own mind speaking to me. Thank you for saying it, HAL. I feel less alone. Reaching that level of acceptance does not make it easy to function, however. I need to go back to anger just to get out of bed sometimes.

    2. JWP

      Easily repurposed as “Biden MIA while his constituent benefactors die of virus and despair”

  19. Wukchumni

    Tree fallers are here taking down around 500 dead formerly upright standing citizens of the community, and although i’m too far away to see their efforts, it sounds like this:

    BBBBBBzzzzzzzzzzzz-BBBBBBBzzzzzzz-(pound a wedge in)-BBBBBzzzzzzzzz-BBBBBBBzzzzzzzz, CRACK…

    …WOMP… there it is

    1. The Rev Kev

      I heard of three guys from Ireland that made this their specialty. So if you ever needed tree fellas, to be sure…

  20. Roquentin

    I can’t say I’m too surprised about the Democratic convention, but it’s worth mentioning that any and all attempts to keep Biden out of the public eye are strong indicators that all the talk about dementia is true. The way I see it, is if they come up with a way for him not to debate Trump, no matter what the pretense is, you can rest assured it’s all true and then some.

    I actually fear a contested election more than either of them winning. If we see a version of Iowa or Georgia on a national scale, and there’s a lot of reasons to think it’s not that remote of a possibility, all bets are off. Try as I might, I don’t see any scenario on the horizon which isn’t bleak. A couple of old fools fighting over the steering wheel of a hopelessly broken ship as the whole thing takes on enough water to start sinking.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Don’t worry Team Blue pilloried Nader not Warren Christopher or Lieberman in 2000. Biden will denounce the Russians and bow out for the good of the country if history holds.

  21. Pavel

    Re: Airborne spread

    I am old enough to remember the “Sick Building Syndrome” concerns of the 1990s and 2000s. Back then it was poor ventilation, toxic carpet materials, and similar poisons. Now it is a potentially fatal virus.

    What a tragic shame they designed all those office buildings without windows that could actually be opened.

      1. JBird4049

        Many of those office buildings were never meant for real living, breathing people to use, but as status symbols for the owners and ego gratification for the architects, who dreamt up what he thought would make a great office building. In these cases efficiency and economical use of light, heat, and cooling, and not of comfort, effective workspaces, or even breathing were considered the most important aspects.

        I think that the people who have to use those buildings from the CEO to the janitor are rarely, if ever, asked what they wanted or needed in a building. To make it worse, Brutalism and a little later the International style, became popular after the Second World War. While I do not like either style especially the former, a good architect can make stylish, functional buildings.

        If they want to.

        Too often you get architects treated like a God-Emperor of Architecture with his every drawn line treated with reverence.

        1. a different chris

          Who are these “architects” that you speak of?

          Most of use work in buildings that are built the same as Walmart but with two floors and crappy cube dividers. I’d be happy in a “Brutalism” -styled building, and I HATE Brutalism.

          But at least somebody tried.

  22. Mark hodgson

    Ventilation rates and aerosol transmission.

    Aerosols tend to hang around for prolonged times (several hours) unless flushed from the air. In hospitals code requires high air exchange rates to address this, typically 6 air exchanges per hour in patient rooms up to 12 per hour in high risk area such as Operating rooms. The Air is typically filtered using MERV 15 or above (HEPA in old language) high quality equipment, Hospitals are designed for this.

    Office buildings are not designed for this. ASHRAE standard 62 dictates the amount of outdoor air per person required typically 20 cfm, this can be as low as 10 percent of the total, the balance is air recirculated from the occupied space and filtration may be MERV 10 or lower (stops about 35 to 40 percent of particulate. The typical air exchange rate is 1 to 2 per hour. All of this is driven by energy efficiency requirements, systems are designed and installed to be as energy efficient as possible. The Air handling systems do not have the capacity to increase filtration (too much back pressure), increase outdoor air flow (not enough eating or cooling capacity) or increase air exchange rates (not enough volume flow).

    Whilst improving the amount of outdoor air flow (Fresh air) and increasing air exchange rates to an office would undoubtedly be good for COVID reduction, it would require massive capital investment in new HVAC equipment (and loss of available space) and would significantly increase energy consumption in the built environment. As for opening a window….. the bottom line is you simply can’t in most modern office buildings.

    1. steve

      I believe the ACH requirements for Operating Rooms is now 15 ACH. Some local requirements are in excess of this. Most new facilities I’ve seen are designed at 20 ACH.

    2. anon in so cal

      Wonder what air exchange rate occurs in medical center MRI radiology suites, which are typically one or two floors under ground level.

  23. FreeMarketApologist

    re: Shutter shaming

    Given everything in the world to be concerned about, I get that shutters are low on many people’s lists, but please: either put shutters on correctly (there’s really only one way: height and width sized to the interior dimensions of the frame, and mounted to the frame, not the siding) or take them down. Better a naked house than one wearing a band-aid and calling it an earring.

    (my house is naked until I can repair, scrape, and repaint all 21 pairs and put them back up).

  24. Code Name D

    Shutter shaming? Maye its about time. Shutters truly do serve a real function of protecting fragile glass from things such as high winds, hale, and other hazards. When bad weather threatens, the homeowner would close the shutters to protect the windows.

    Things have changed. We now have storm windows which are a lot more durable and can take punishment before braking. They hold up against all but the worst hail stones, so here in Kansas, they are more vestigial decorating elements than real features. But along the east and gulf coast where hurricanes can deliver a lot more force, shutters should still be a real thing.

    And yet very time a hurricane pays a visit, there is a scramble for plywood to board-up windows that should have shutters in place for this very function. So why do their building codes not include shutters? And why do contractors not used them religiously hurricane prone areas?

    1. mrsyk

      Up here in northern New England we have “Indian shutters” on some of the older houses. The ones on my grandparent’s house slid out of the wall, similar to a pocket door.

    2. GramSci

      So why do their building codes not include shutters? And why do contractors not used them religiously [in] hurricane prone areas?

      Because builders get a higher profit from selling “hurricane glass”?

      1. sierra7

        Scares potential buyers away to have to be reminded that maybe, just maybe the “surf will be up” and poof! There go our windows!

    3. Alternate Delegate

      In Switzerland the regular apartment buildings had steel shutters that rolled down over the whole apartment balcony opening. Also, any windows. I understood the purpose was make the building militarily defensible.

      I’d check out the Orient Express in the Geneva railway station for bullet holes, coming back from Zagreb et al. during the Yugoslav civil war. The annoying part was the Croation draft dodgers in the bars. I understand your parents bought you a student deferment from the draft. But you don’t get to go on about how “Vukovar will be ours again.” That’s chickenhawk crap!

      Not a flight of fantasy, in Europe, those steel shutters.

    4. polecat

      The first thing I did after purchasing what I lovingly refer to as ‘the Clamshell’ .. was to remove those funky plastic nonfunctional shutters .. all 16 of them.

  25. dk

    Interesting article from Robertas Lisickis at BoredPanda:
    Slow Motion Video Shows How Well Different Masks Work To Stop The Spread Of COVID-19

    “It was surprising to learn that masks that are too thick or have too many layers—while they might seem to be more effective—may actually block too much air and end up forcing your breath (and any viruses) out the side of the mask, defeating the purpose,” said [Dr. Joe Hanson of the YouTube channel It’s Okay To Be Smart]. So, if you want to be careful in making your own mask, it’s thus advised to not overdo it with the layers.

    I think to remember this consideration being suggested in NC comments some time ago but can’t remember/find who or when, or if it was only my own thought sparked by discussion.

  26. Expat2uruguay

    Does anyone know anything about this? If it turns out to be true, it could solve a lot of problems we can’t seem to figure out, like resuming education.

    1. rowlf

      For fun I like to read Israeli news, as it is an alternate reality to everyone else and they discuss things that are not allowed to be discussed in the US. The Israeli news has had a Covid-19 cure or vaccine announcement just about every other week. Some really amazing research and development and PR over there.

  27. Otto

    “Whilst improving the amount of outdoor air flow (Fresh air) and increasing air exchange rates to an office would undoubtedly be good for COVID reduction”, as I understand it air pollution increases risk of infection so in some cities or being next to some ‘things’, (power plant) with out filtering the outside air, I wonder if that is always a good idea.

    I think there are several studies about CV19 floating around in the air and I like the MIT one best. But they more or less all agree (I’ve read four). I don’t think the idea about whatever goes on in hospital based thinking in anyway negates the need for the ability to create negative air pressure in any room, which is to say all rooms. And to what degree is necessary. The risk here is if one gets it wrong one is dead. This however is not the end of the story.

    During the Peak of the Ebola epidemic, CDC used one of its three hospitals to care for those so inflicted. There done was to maximum hazmat standards. At first things went well, but then staff outside of the ‘bubble’ started to get sick. This was very serious and a big deal. What was wrong? The plumbing in the sinks. The ‘U’ joint in the plumbing designed to keep sewer gasses out of the room, were in fact trapping germs that ended up infective the entire plumbing system of the hospital. Engineers changed the plumbing to a straight joint, and added a building wide gas blocker way downstream. Problem solved. But people died. In the end the hospital was torn down and treated as radioactive debris.

    This all happened where all the people around were devoted to stoping any infections, and yet the virus found a way. With humans not wanting to protect others from infection from CV19, and given what we know do far, I fear this is going to be a long emergency indeed. I say with sorrow.

  28. allan

    In this afternoon’s edition of Nigeria with Nukes:

    Quest Diagnostics Media Statement about COVID-19 Testing

    Demand for COVID-19 molecular diagnostic testing continues to soar, further increasing turnaround times for test results

    Despite our rapid scaling up of capacity, soaring demand for COVID-19 molecular diagnostic tests across the United States is slowing the time in which we can provide test results.

    We attribute this demand primarily to the rapid, continuing spread of COVID-19 infections across the nation but particularly in the South, Southwest and West regions of the country. Specific drivers of demand include pre-operative patients undergoing procedures in hospitals and surgery centers; high-risk populations, such as those receiving care in federally qualified healthcare centers, nursing homes and correctional facilities; and individuals seeking testing from community drive/walk through events with government agencies and corporations.

    We now have capacity to perform up to 125,000 molecular diagnostic tests a day, roughly double our capacity 8 weeks ago. By the end of July, we expect to have the capacity to perform 150,000 molecular diagnostic tests a day.

    Despite that dramatic increase, demand for testing is increasing even faster. As a result, our average turnaround time* for reporting test results is slightly more than 1 day for our priority 1 patients.** However, our average turnaround time for all other populations is 7 or more days.

    At Quest Diagnostics, we are doing everything we can to bring more COVID-19 molecular diagnostic testing to patients at this critical time.

    However, we are limited in how quickly we can add capacity. For instance, global supply constraints continue to be an issue. While our suppliers of test platforms and reagents continue to be responsive to our need to add capacity, they are limited amid surging demand in the United States and globally.

    To address these challenges we are seeking to add new technology platforms, among other options. We are also considering additional partners for our lab referral program, through which we forward specimens we receive to other laboratories with open capacity.

    Yet, we want patients and healthcare providers to know that we will not be in a position to reduce our turnaround times as long as cases of COVID-19 continue to increase dramatically across much of the United States. This is not just a Quest issue. The surge in COVID-19 cases affects the laboratory industry as a whole.

    We realize this situation is complex and not easily fixed. Fortunately, each of us has the power to take steps to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The CDC provides helpful information on how to reduce the spread of the virus on its website.

    We are also asking healthcare providers to abide by the prioritization plan we have established and to limit the number of specimens they forward for patients who are low risk.

    Finally, we want to recognize the remarkable contributions of our Quest Diagnostics colleagues, who have been central to our nation’s pandemic response. They are among the heroes of healthcare, and we are grateful for their willingness to go above and beyond to serve patients during these challenging times.

    *Turnaround time for molecular diagnostic and antibody testing includes the time to transport a specimen to a Quest Diagnostics laboratory after collecting it at a patient service center or provider site to reporting results. Turnaround time can fluctuate with demand and vary by region.

    **Priority 1 patients include hospital patients, pre-operative patients in acute care settings and symptomatic healthcare workers. We rely on the healthcare provider to indicate the level of priority of each patient specimen referred to us for testing.

    ***Now imagine the additional demand from opening the K-16 education system in August.

    1. Rod

      Surely you’ve heard of the University Lab Partnerships they have been working on to boost that capacity–part of the lateral response of creative problem solvers thinking ahead and all that.
      Not that I have.
      But if they want to open any education how about looking at opening that part of the Education system first.
      Might refer to it as Applied Education.

  29. chaco

    Bernie: “Trump’s commutation of Roger Stone’s sentence is “unprecedented, historic corruption.” ”

    As noted yesterday Bush Sr. pardoned Cap Weinberger(with AG Barr’s assistance) and The Idiot Bush pardoned Scooter Libby.
    I remember when Bernie was relevant; right before he caved to Hillary

    1. Briny

      Clinton pardoned Marc Rich, as I recall, to add another data point. Ther are numerous other egregious examples by both parties.

        1. Duck1

          The president uses his constitutional power to commute a sentence or pardon an individual, why is this corrupt? I may disagree with the decision, but that is the nature of a democratic system. Sorry to see Bernie joining the pearl clutchers swooning on their couches in Versailles on the Potomac.

          1. Briny

            It’s another MSM/Neoliberal distraction also perpetuating the Russia Hoax. It doesn’t matter what I think about it, the power is absolute and despite what Pelosi thinks,Congress, short of a constitutional amendment, can’t do a thing, aside from trying impeachment again. Even then, the commutation would still stand.

  30. kareninca

    There is still a line outside the Gun Vault gun store in Mountain View, CA; I checked again today. Seven guys six feet apart. I drove 5.6 miles down El Camino and that was the only place that had a line outside it.

    1. Wukchumni

      I had no idea there was that much game in Silicon Valley, but hunters must be hep to stag parties and the like.

      1. ambrit

        It’s Silicon Valley Wukchumni. The main game animal is the unicorn. Although, where that crowd is going to find a virgin, I can’t figure out.

  31. The Rev Kev

    Fiorella Isabel
    BREAKING: On a zoom call about the Democratic Convention, I just found out the convention isn’t going to be on zoom. So people won’t be able to watch it. Only some credentialed media will have access. This has been verified. Welcome to your “Demockracy”.

    I recognize that girl. She did an epic rant how the grassroots campaigners for Bernie were betrayed by him and the “democrats” that he brought into the campaign who then sabotaged it. Jimmy Dore interviewed her back in early May and here is that interview, which starts off with her rant (some language) in the first minute or so-


    1. a different chris

      Wow. Impressive. Yes epic is the word.

      My wife, when she was that age, also had one eye that slid inward when she was really, really frickin’ angry. It took all I had to keep from hiding under my desk when I saw that. Brought back memories, not pleasant ones! Although in truth I do actually sort of enjoy memories of my young stupid Republican self getting the crap deservedly kicked out of him.

      The TPTB probably think it’s a sign of weakness. They will be surprised.

    2. Oh

      Thanks for the link. It shows Bernie for what he really is. So many people are disappointed. Same as Mr. Hopey-Changey who let down his supporters.

    3. Foy

      Very impressive, she can talk! Don’t often see Jimmy struggling to get a word in there. Hope she keeps going.

    4. Foy

      Fiorella: “We need to make these people uncomfortable (Democratic Party Elites and politicians), we need to go to their houses and protest and make them uncomfortable, we are not going to achieve anything by sitting at home or waiting for Bernie or anyone else ….last time I was upset, this time I am angry… the working and middle class need to unite in a movement that is beyond party”.

      Similar to what Ian Welsh has been saying for a while.

  32. furies

    Had to share, fresh from my inbox:

    George W. Bush Stands up to Trump; Bush Alums form SuperPAC to elect Joe Biden
    George W. Bush | Joe Biden

    The 2020 Election is full of surprises — but we NEVER expected this!!

    George W. Bush Stands up to Trump; Bush Alums launch SuperPAC to turn on Trump and fight like hell to elect Joe Biden!

    He’s putting Country before Party. It’s not the easy thing to do, but it’s right. And if we want to beat Donald Trump, we need all the help we can get!!

    And if 100,000 Democrats thank George W. Bush by 9AM tomorrow, we’ll build UNSTOPPABLE momentum and force thousands of Republicans to turn on Trump!

    But we can’t do it without your help. As a TOP Democrat from your city, you’ve been selected to represent your state in this matter:
    So please — take 30 seconds to thank George W. Bush for working to beat Donald Trump:

    Thanks for doing the right thing,

    – Progressive Turnout Project

    Paid for by the Progressive Turnout Project and not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.

    1. The Rev Kev

      By August you will be getting an email starting off with-

      ‘BREAKING 2020 NEWS
      Richard B. Cheney Stands up to Trump; Cheney Alums form SuperPAC to elect Joe Biden
      Richard B. Cheney | Joe Biden’

      And you know that it is going to happen. Bush and Cheney – Guardians of the Republic!

  33. anon in so cal


    California’s case numbers are always artificially low on Mondays. Today, CA Gov Newsom reversed some reopening steps
    But more needs to be done. University of Minnesota epidemiologist, Dr. Michael Osterholm, issued a dire warning in this Friday podcast:


    The takeaway is we need another nation-wide lock-down, immediately.


    “How California failed at coronavirus testing from the start”


    1. Wukchumni

      Stop all commercial airline, bus & rail traffic for 2 months, and impose a 3 gallons per week rationing on all drivers for the same time period, so as to enable people to drive locally to do essential things, but you ain’t going nowhere-which is the whole idea.

  34. Daryl

    Reporting in from Texas, where the obituary section of the paper is now standalone and 43 pages long: https://twitter.com/TexasVC/status/1282342324283101184

    I’ve been hearing sirens nonstop today as well, in my normally quiet (well, siren-free) part of the world.

    I myself am mentally preparing for another couple months of this. Oh, we’ll get this one under control. The big cities will lockdown again, schools will not start despite what their administrators think, cases will slow. Then everyone will decide it’s fine again and go right back to what they were doing. Some other, still functioning part of the world will have to invent a vaccine for us to get out of this.

    1. JBird4049

      Oh goody. I keep flashing back during to the early fun filled years of nightmare and panic during the AIDS Crisis.

      I would open up the San Francisco Chronicle’s obituaries, which were pages of youngish, good men who were all dying “after a brief illness.” There was the occasional or not so occasional splash of hemophiliacs, the occasional clean and sober addict, survivors of accidents and cancer, maybe a young woman who was noted as someone who like parties or something like that.

      What caused it or how you got it was unknown for too long. Finding out how to treat it took just as long because it was the gay disease or of those people – heroin users, prostitutes, partiers, sexually adventurous people. The disposables of the day. Just because it wiped out much of a generation of hemophiliacs and any number of accident victims and surgery patients got conveniently ignored.

      Rather like much of the current population of disposables, but today’s selection has grown greatly.

      Interestingly a few of the religious conservatives got angry because of the foot dragging causing people to die. Human beings, horrible disease, and awful death was something that they were against for everyone. They are the type to run soup kitchens and pantries. Too many of the supposedly respectable people turned out not to be.

      1. ambrit

        That was the tipping point for my visceral hatred of Ronald Reagan. His foot dragging on HIV is a lot like the present administration’s foot dragging on the Dreaded Pathogen. Let “those others” suffer a “well deserved” fate.

        1. jr

          I noticed in that recent tweet or insta-whatever of Ronald Reagan speaking while anti Trump images were displayed. Shown here of course. The person who posted it bore the Rainbow flag next to her BluCheck to demonstrate either her identity or her support for those identities. A real live, breathing example of bifurcated thinking in action…

  35. jr

    Re: AI

    “As long as computers do not grow up, belong to a culture, and act in the world, they will never acquire human-like intelligence.”

    I agree with the author that computers will never acquire a human like general intelligence, the AGI he describes, but not for the reasons above. They will never have an intelligence like a human because they aren’t and won’t ever be conscious. You can raise an AI from little tiny algorithm up to a towering architecture of them but it will never taste an apple or write a poem or feel blue on a rainy day.

    1. a different chris


      Yeah I read that and thought “this author is rather left-brained himself, actually. And yet even he (if a bit dimly and wordily) gets it”.

      1. RMO

        “As long as computers do not grow up, belong to a culture, and act in the world, they will never acquire human-like intelligence.”

        I read that and thought “So what?” Humans aren’t the pinnacle of the freaking universe. There have been countless numbers of animals with various types of intelligence for millennia. Humanity should get over itself.

    2. Foy

      Hey JR, agreed, I put a post up in a reply to Krystyn above about this exact thing with a link to Bernardo Kastrup who has a Phd in Computer Engineering and Philosophy and worked at CERN and in artificial intelligence has been writing some very interesting stuff (to my tiny mind) saying the same thing.

      Its the Hard Problem of Consciousness. The difference between quantitative matter made up of charge, momentum, spin etc and the qualitative feelings of seeing the colour red, taste of an apple. No matter how many little pieces of matter you build up into a big AI machine, how does it gain the ability to go from a quantitative calculation to the qualitative FEEL of what the taste of say a good Merlot brings to the mind, as opposed to the Merlot’s quantitative chemical makeup?

      1. flora

        an aside: The most extravagant claims and hopes for AI start to sound a little like the extravagant claims made by neoliberals about ‘the Market’ as they imagine it, imo. ;)

  36. kareninca

    “I asked them to speak candidly, without their names attached, to learn about the real behind-the-scenes conversations about the state of affairs. . . . And finally, why in the hell aren’t they more pissed at this incompetent asshole who is fucking up their lives?”

    Yeah, putting something that way is really how you get an candid answer. /s

  37. VietnamVet

    Crash Test Dummies and Dr. Anthony Fauci are different eras. Madison Avenue “Mad Men” were great at selling goods. Obama/Biden Administration thought PR could fix anything. But they failed. Hillary Clinton didn’t sell in 2016. Democrats have bigger problems today – A pandemic, depression and unrest that they are jointly responsible for. They have no solutions. There is nothing to sell if the fight against the coronavirus pandemic is not federalized. Adam Schiff and Chuck Schumer are really uncharismatic. Exploitation, illness and death are unsaleable. That leaves only old fashion denial and racism.

  38. Foy

    NC alumni Nathan Tankus’ ‘Notes On The Crisis’ Substack blog on Fed Operations, Banking and MMT etc is flying! 40,000 subscriptions and 80,000 twitter followers including many influential figures across finance government and journalism from around the world and says that he is now financially secure enough with paid subscriptions to publish full time.

    He’s got his articles in Spanish Chinese, Korean Arabic and Japanese papers (and thats just what he knows about) and even he’s on the front cover of a Japanese magazine smiling happily!

    Maybe, just maybe we might get to a critical mass where how the Fed and Banking and money really works is properly understood widely.

    It’s wonderful to see someone like Nathan make such inroads into the financial and publishing establishment and also make what he is doing economic for himself. Great work Nathan!


    With young people coming through Nathan and Fiorella Isabel there’s hope yet…

  39. allan

    White House campaign urges jobless to ‘find something new’ [AP]

    A new White House-backed ad campaign aims to encourage people who are unemployed or unhappy in their jobs or careers to go out and “find something new.” …

    The campaign is a product of the White House’s American Workforce Policy Advisory Board, which President Donald Trump created in 2018. The board is co-chaired by Trump’s daughter and White House adviser, Ivanka Trump, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

    “There has never been a more critical time for Americans of all ages and backgrounds to be aware of the multiple pathways to career success and gain the vocational training and skills they need to fill jobs in a changing economy,” said Ivanka Trump, who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. …

    Being lectured on the discredited `skills gap’ by Sweatshop Barbie is definitely
    what the back row kids are looking for at the moment. Keep up the good work, guys.

  40. Mao "No Landlords Now" Zedong

    >All true. And if Trump weren’t so wussy, “genocide” is the word he would use.

    I guess white genocide is a thing after all

  41. jr

    Department of the Weird:

    So I came across this guy, Dave Paulides, who runs the CanAm
    411 missing project. He is a retired cop and search and rescue volunteer whose project claims that there are hotspots of missing people who disappear under weird circumstances around the US and the world. Some are in sub/urban settings but most are in wilderness settings. CanAm believes there are patterns to these disappearances and have written books and produced a film to that effect. Their videos are up on Youtube.

    A lot of his claims are really odd in their own right, they certainly wouldn’t leap to mind if I were looking at it. But if he is honestly reporting the official reports he draws his data from and we set aside his interpretations, there are some strange things going on….

    Toddlers who go missing, who spark extensive week long manhunts to no avail…then are suddenly found wandering totally unscathed in a place searched over and over. (That one is in the movie and is relayed by two women who were directly involved in the rescue. IIRC one said the place was swarming with mosquitos yet the child bore no bites. and wasn’t dehydrated.) Dogs who suddenly lose trails on searches for missing hunters in the dead middle of the woods, no guns found (often the heaviest and first thing lost hunters eventually drop), nothing, as if the person disappeared mid stride. An account of a rock climber, the belay man, who disappeared without a trace mid climb, the guy above said the line went slack as if he had just let go, no body found. The bodies of missing people including young children, found at high elevations from where they went missing on ledges inaccessible except through brush that experienced hikers claim is well nigh impossible to penetrate. Or bodies found miles and miles away, often missing their shoes and their feet worn to the bone. And not only in winter when one can counter they have hypothermia and feel “overheated” in their delusion but the dead of summer over sharp rock and broken sticks. CanAm claims that federal, state, and local authorities ignore and suppress these events, Paulides also claims to have been approached by Park Service rangers who told him that there is official repression of the information in the Park Service.

    Paulides makes no claim to understanding why these events take place but he does brush up against some dubious topics like Sasquatch etc. Again, setting aside his ideas and if he is accurately relaying the newspaper accounts, personal stories, local legends, and missing persons reports he cites, this stuff keeps me up at night…

    Here is a free movie on YT:


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