2:00PM Water Cooler 7/14/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, Happy Bastille Day! –lambert


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. Congratulations, FL, you passed NY. Looks like CA’s big drop was an artifact; now TX is having one. (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 vs. Southeast Asia. On a log scale, because 50 vs. 50,000 doesn’t fit on the y-axis of a linear scale:

(I left out Vietnam because it doesn’t display well, but right now it’s confirmed case count is one (1).

“Mujeres dañan mercancía en tienda al negarse a usar mascarillas” [Noticentro]. Google translation:

Three women caused damage to merchandise from the Zara clothing store in Mall of San Juan yesterday, Friday, after they were told that they had to wear a mask to be in the establishment, police reported.

According to the authorities, agents from the Hato Rey Este precinct of the Police investigated the complaint for damages and vandalism at 6:20 in the afternoon.

The complainant reported that the three women, who are tourists, arrived at the store and were told that they had to put on the mask. After that, the women allegedly caused property and merchandise damage, valued at approximately $2,000.

The Police continue the investigation of this complaint.

Direct action brings satisfaction….

“Orange County education leaders want schools to reopen without masks or social distancing” [Los Angeles Times]. “Orange County education leaders voted 4 to 1 Monday evening to approve recommendations for reopening schools in the fall that do not include the mandatory use of masks for students or increased social distancing in classrooms amid a surge in coronavirus cases…. “Among the many compelling expert arguments for reopening our schools, a number of us were also struck by something different, something we might call advice for adults,” [the Board of Education White Paper] states. ‘Among our greatest responsibilities as adults is our responsibility to model courage and persistence in the face of uncertainty and fear, which is what many families are feeling with the mixed messages and confusion surrounding reopening of schools in the COVID-19 era.'” • Modeling courage: “‘Forward, the Light Brigade!’ Was there a man dismayed?” Children are fomites, so maybe masking won’t help; I haven’t done the research on this. Most virtue signaling from liberals, though pernicious, doesn’t have immediately lethal consequences. Not, apparently, virtue signaling on the right!

“Told to wear a mask at Kansas City area BBQ restaurant, man in MAGA hat flashes a gun” [Kansas City Star]. “‘I asked him if he could wear a mask, since it’s what Gov. Kelly told us to do,’ said [Arlo Kinsey], 18, who was working shifts at the barbecue joint this summer before heading off to college. He had dealt with a handful of customers who refused to wear masks inside the restaurant despite the statewide mandate — but none like this, he said. The man said he had an exemption to the mask order: He then lifted up his shirt, revealing a gun in a holster on his hip. ‘It was definitely a threat,’ Kinsey said. ‘I was looking at the gun thinking he was going to shoot me.’ ‘My first thought was, I work in customer service and this is really what’s going to happen? All we’re asking is that you wear a mask for a couple of minutes. We could have taken your order outside if you didn’t want to. But you go into an air conditioned area without a mask on, and if I tell you to wear one, you’re going to shoot me? Wow. I make $8.50 an hour, plus tips — for this?'” • Totally “model[ing] courage and persistence in the face of uncertainty and fear.” Kinsey, I mean.

“Family gathering infects 41 people with the coronavirus, NC health official says” [Charlotte Observer]. “According to one recent case study by the county health department, a single family gathering was responsible for at least 40 of those cases. More than two dozen people were reportedly in attendance. ‘Folks did not wear masks or observe physical distancing at this gathering, and 14 people who attended subsequently tested positive for COVID-19,’ [County Public Health Director Jennifer McCracken] said. The family members went about their daily lives before they started showing symptoms — which can appear anywhere from two to 14 days after exposure, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That included going to work and “taking a beach trip with other families,” according to the release.” • Handy diagram:

Good for Catawba county doing the contract tracing. That said, an outbreak of 41 would be (as the chart above shows) cause for national concern in Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand, or Vietnam.

“43 new coronavirus cases have been linked to one large house party in Michigan” [CNN]. “Forty-three new coronavirus cases have been linked to a large house party from early July in Washtenaw County, Michigan, according to health officials. Most of the new cases are young people between the ages of 15 and 25, the Washtenaw County Health Department said…. With a recent surge in cases, more parties have been identified as the source of Covid-19 clusters. Cases, sometimes fatal, have been linked to gatherings in Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Missouri, California, Texas and New Jersey.” • Look out, college towns!

“California, Florida and Texas, home to nearly 100 million, are getting swamped by the virus” [New York Times]. “Leaders in the country’s three most populous states acknowledged on Monday that the outbreaks they have been battling for months were on the rise and may require a return of stricter lockdown measures. California, Florida and Texas have reported a total of at least 892,000 cases since the start of the pandemic, according to a New York Times database. On Monday alone there were at least 30,000 new cases recorded across the three states, 18 percent of the world’s daily total…. In Texas, a top medical adviser to Gov. Greg Abbott said the state may need to roll back its reopening plans and reinstitute an economic lockdown if cases keep rising. The adviser, Dr. Mark McClellan, is a physician and an economist at Duke University who is a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. He said in an interview that a lockdown in Texas was a “real possibility” that Mr. Abbott may be forced to impose in the next few weeks. ‘I don’t think we have much time, before having to go to a more extreme step,’ Dr. McClellan said. • You have no time! The pandemic is an exponential process! (If Taleb read McClellan’s comment, he’s probably tearing his hair out.)


“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 14: July 14: Indiana, Montana, South Carolina move from Safe to Likely Republican. 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

Sanders (D)(1): “Ex-Sanders aide says Biden unity task forces need to go farther” [The Hill]. Briahna Joy Gray on Hill.TV’s “Rising’: “The whole theory behind the Bernie campaign was that it recognized the crises that we live in now, we lived in before the [coronavirus] pandemic, and it was targeted to address those things. And ironically now that corona is happening, what we needed was not the middle ground between Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden but something that was even more responsive than what Bernie Sanders had already put on the table.” Yep. More: “Gray cited the task forces’ marijuana policy and refusal to address qualified immunity, the legal standard protecting police officers from litigation over their use of force, to bolster her claims that the proposals did not go far enough. ‘It seems really empty and somewhat performative for Joe Biden to be claiming that he respects his so-called base…to be so overwhelmingly dismissive and cavalier about what would really be a political no-brainer,’ she said of legalizing marijuana, noting the disproportionate impact drug arrests have on communities of color. ‘It’s really kind of thumbing your nose at the whole process to not seriously take those things into consideration.'”

Sanders (D)(2): “We Can Want to Stop Trump and Still Require Biden to Earn Our Votes [Op-Ed]” [ColorLines]. “Lest you believe I am being unfair, I want to remind you that previous calls for Biden to heed the demands of Black voters have been, thus far, dismissed. On May 14, seven notable Black women graciously reminded Biden of the debt he and the Democratic party owe to Black voters, and Black women voters, in particular. After all, it was a landslide victory in South Carolina among Black voters that propelled him forward. Not even a week later, Biden had arguably the greatest (worst) faux pas of the campaign. In response to a line of questioning about his record and his platform for Black people, a frustrated (and all too comfortable) Biden retorted, ‘If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t Black.'” • Why don’t we just make Clyburn Vice President?

Trump (R)(1): “House Democrat warns about ‘inaccurate’ polls: Trump voters ‘fundamentally undercounted'” [The Hill]. “Surveys often count people they determine are ‘likely voters,’ but Slotkin learned that a person who tells a pollster that they don’t have plans to vote but may ultimately do so ‘ were fundamentally undercounted.’ ‘I believe that same thing is happening right now,’ Slotkin said.” • One CIA Democrat’s view….

* * *

Remember when Trump didn’t accept the 2016 results, even though Democrats did? Oh, wait…. Anyhow:

As I keep saying, if the election results are disputed — say because of “Russian meddling” or “hacking” (Democrats) or vote-by-mail issues (Republicans) or a collossal screw-up with electronic voting machines (neither party establisment talks about this, interestingly) — then where does the country go for resolution? I think the intelligence community, including DHS, and that’s very concerning to me, because it gives a highly undemocratic yet politicized entity control over the democratic process. Could make Bush v. Gore (or Hayes v. Tilden) look like a walk in the park. (Hard to see the Electoral College taking any action on its own; do they have the power to call witnesses?)

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Expert warns the US is approaching ‘one of the most unstable times in the history of our country'” [CNN]. “With rising Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations sending many states backward in their reopening plans, one health expert warns that if the US continues on its current path it will reach ‘one of the most unstable times in the history of our country.’ ‘We will have hospitals overwhelmed and not only in terms of ICU beds and hospitals — and that’s bad — but exhausted hospital staff and hospital staff that’s getting ill themselves,’ Dr. Peter Hotez, the dean of tropical medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, told CNN Friday night. ‘So, we won’t have enough manpower, human power, to manage all of this.'” • Oddly, Hotez doesn’ describe the instability in any way. People shooting their way into ERs?

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“Final Recommendations To Board of Registration & Elections Respectfully Submitted By, Chairman Pitts Elections Task Force”” (PDF) [Fulton County, Georgia]. • Obviously a debacle from top to bottom. Picking out something simple:

2.2 Tactical

Have a clear understanding of the power capabilities at each facility. Ensure that WiFi is working at each location, have back up servers and generators on site in case of equipment failure.

2.2.2 Conduct a dry run of the power grids at every polling location at least 24 hours before the election begins and again on the day of election. This includes checking all outlets within the facility.

2.2.3 Have a clear understanding of the power requirement for the 2 and 4 unit cabinets.

Have enough plugs for the electronic voting machines ffs….

“Here are the reasons your mail-in ballot might not be counted in New Jersey” [Shore News]. “The May 2020 mail-in ballot election saw a 10% rate of rejection for ballots, meaning in New Jersey, every vote no longer counts. Some common errors include forgetting signatures, improperly marked ballots and accidental overvoting, if a voter for two candidates in the same election. Overvoting is not possible during in-person voting on voting machines, because the machines do not allow for two votes in one race. At least 100,000 ballots remain to be counted statewide, including provisional ballots and mail-in ballots that were received after Tuesday of last week. Still, there’s another possibility that your ballot may not be counted. If you mailed your ballot on Election Day, many county election boards did not process or receive ballots on Friday and many were returned as undeliverable to the post office. Those returned ballots have until tomorrow night to be returned to the election board offices in order to be eligible to be counted.”

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.

Housing: “April 2020 Loan Performance: Early-Stage Mortgage Delinquencies Exceed Great Recession Levels in April” [Econintersect]. “Loan Performance Insights Report for April 2020 shows on a national level, 6.1% of mortgages were in some stage of delinquency (30 days or more past due, including those in foreclosure). This represents a 2.5-percentage point increase in the overall delinquency rate compared to March 2020, when it was 3.6%… The CARES Act provided forbearance for borrowers with federally backed mortgage loans who were economically impacted by the pandemic. Borrowers in a forbearance program who have missed a mortgage payment are included in the CoreLogic delinquency statistics, even if the loan servicer has not reported the loan as delinquent to credit repositories…. The resurgence of COVID-19 infections across the country has created economic uncertainty and leaves those who are unemployed concerned with their ability to make monthly mortgage payments,” said Dr. Frank Nothaft, chief economist at CoreLogic. The latest forecast from the CoreLogic Home Price Index predicts prices declining in all states through May 2021, erasing some home equity and increasing foreclosure risk.'”

Consumer Expectations: “Continued Gradual Improvement in Consumer Expectations In June 2020” [Econintersect]. “The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Center for Microeconomic Data released the June 2020 Survey of Consumer Expectations, which shows continued gradual declines in pessimism about household financial conditions. While consumers overall remain less optimistic about earnings growth, income growth, and job finding expectations compared to the pre-COVID-19 environment, some indicators showed considerable improvements in June.”

Consumer Confidence: “Economy Getting Worse, Americans Say” [Econintersect]. “In a June online poll from YouGov, nearly 60 percent of U.S. adults who responded said they felt the economy was continuing to get worse. Just under 18 percent said the economy was getting better, while 23 percent said they were either unsure or it was staying the same. This survey parallels with many other recent surveys showing Americans’ confidence in the economy at record lows. In an Ipsos survey, 50 percent of Americans surveyed said the economy won’t recover quickly whether businesses reopen soon or not. In an index from the University of Michigan, consumer confidence in the country is rising from its record trough but is still very low – even as businesses across the country reopen. As the U.S. attempts to reopen its economy, Americans are still feeling a general uneasiness surrounding the possibility of a second wave as they see other countries having to re-implement lockdowns after reopening.”

Small Business Confidence: “June 2020 Small Business Optimism Improves in Anticipation of Better Economic Outlook” [Econintersect]. “The Small Business Optimism Index increased 6.2 points in June to 100.6 with eight of the 10 components improving and two declining. Owners anticipate improving sales as the economy continues to re-open with sales expectations rebounding to a net 13% after April’s lowest reading in survey history (a net negative 42%). Small business owners continue to be optimistic about future business conditions and indicate they expect the recession to be short-lived.”

* * *

UPDATE Housing: “This Recession Is a Bigger Housing Crisis Than 2008” [Eric Levitz, New York Magazine]. “In times of crisis, the unaffordability of American housing is exacerbated by our “just in time” socioeconomic model: Steady GDP growth is the duct tape holding together this jerry-rigged social order in which low-income Americans have little to no emergency savings, many basic welfare benefits are contingent on employment, and the threadbare safety is patchy by design. This top-heavy, gold-plated jalopy of a political economy can pass as road safe in fair weather; try to ride it through a once-in-a-century epidemiological storm and it starts to break apart. Between 2006 and 2014, about 10 million Americans lost their homes to the foreclosure crisis. Today, upwards of 20 million U.S. renters are poised to be evicted between now and September, according to Emily Benfer, the chair of the American Bar Association’s Task Force Committee on Eviction. At present, the impending flood of evictions is partially dammed by a federal moratorium that covers one-fourth of all renters, the $600 federal unemployment insurance bonus, and the recent dispersion of $1,200 coronavirus relief checks. But even with these protections, a great many renters are being washed out of their homes while millions more accrue onerous debts. Roughly one-third of U.S. households have not made their full housing payments for July.”

UPDATE Pandemic:

UPDATE Mr. Market: “”Wild Ride to Nowhere”: APPL, MSFT, AMZN, GOOG, FB Soar to New High. Rest of Stock Market is a Dud, Has Been for Years” [Wolf Street]. “The ‘Giant 5’ – Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Alphabet, and Facebook – had another good day on Friday…. [T]he Giant 5 Index, which was at $5.78 trillion on June 8, has since surged by 14%, to $6.6 trillion…. To see how the rest of the market is performing without these five stocks, I have created the ‘Wilshire 5000 minus the Giant 5 Index.’ This shows what’s left of the entire stock market of 3,415 stocks, after removing these five giants. The ‘Wilshire 5000 minus the Giant 5 Index’ closed at $25,836 trillion today, still down 10.9% from the peak on February 19. Over the same period, the Giant 5 have soared 18.7%!… A miserable savings account would have outperformed the overall stock market without the Giant 5, and would have done so without all the horrendous volatility of the two sell-offs. Just five stocks whose market values have soared beyond imaginable magnitude pulled out the entire market. And that’s a scary thought – that this entire market has become totally dependent on just five giant stocks with an immense concentration of power that have now come under regulatory security. And just as these stocks pulled up the entire market, they can pull down the entire market by their sheer weight.” • Hoo boy.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 56 Neutral (previous close: 54 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 48 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 14 at 12:48pm. Whoa, back to Neutral!

Health Care

The headline turned me off, because it seems directed to symbol manipulators, but this is really excellent:

“It’s Time to Tell a New Story About Coronavirus—Our Lives Depend on It” [The Nation]. “It’s time for a new story, one that more accurately captures the reality of how contagions unfold and why. In this story, pandemics would be cast as both a biological reality and a social phenomenon shaped by human agency. And the coronavirus, if cast as any kind of monster at all, would be a Frankenstein’s monster: a creature of our own making. We, after all, created the world in which SARS-Cov-2 evolved, one in which our industry has swallowed up so much of the planet that microbes from wild animals easily slip into livestock and humans. We created the society of overcrowded prisons and nursing homes staffed by underpaid employees who must work in multiple facilities to make ends meet; in which employers force their workers to labor on meatpacking lines even if they’re sick; in which asylum seekers are crammed into detention centers; and in which people living in hard-hit cities like Detroit lack access to clean water with which to wash their hands. A narrative that elevates these realities would compel us to consider a much wider range of policy responses to counter the threat of pandemics.” • “Narrative,” dread word. “Paradigm” is a better word, used earlier in the article.

* * *

“Medical Vulnerability of Young Adults to Severe COVID-19 IllnessdData From the National Health Interview Survey” [Journal of Adolescent Health]. Implications: “Close to one third of young adults are medically vulnerable to severe COVID-19 illness. Smoking is the strongest risk factor for young adults with one in 10 participating in past 30-day smoking.” • The methodology doesn’t look real strong. But those parties!

“Cloth masks can protect the wearer” [fast.ai (Tricia Greenhalgh)]. “Unfortunately, many public health bodies still incorrectly claim that there is no evidence that DIY masks are useful at protecting the wearer [WHO, Dr. Fauci, take a bow!]. There’s actually plenty of evidence they can. Effective protection for the wearer of a mask depends on three critical things: 1) Material: does the mask filter particles of the appropriate sizes? 2) Fit: do particles squeeze in through the gaps of your mask? 3)Sanitation: can you clean and re-use the mask?” • The whole piece is worth a read, but mask-makers may find these results on material very useful:

“Factors Associated with Cloth Face Covering Use Among Adults During the COVID-19 Pandemic — United States, April and May 2020” [Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report]. Discussion: “Days after announcing a new behavioral recommendation on April 3, adults in the United States quickly adopted the practice of using cloth face coverings, and a higher prevalence of use was reported 1 month later, in May 2020. From April to May, the prevalence of reported use of cloth face coverings was higher in all sociodemographic groups in the population, especially among non-Hispanic white persons, persons aged ≥65 years, and persons residing in the Midwest, suggesting widespread acceptance of this recommendation. The increase in cloth face covering use continued to be reported as more persons began leaving their homes and going out in public more frequently from April to May… These findings show higher prevalence estimates of the use of cloth face coverings in May 2020 compared with April among all sociodemographic groups. Research among persons who report not wearing a cloth face covering while in public is needed to understand potential barriers and to shape services or messages that would facilitate and encourage adoption of this recommendation. Among constructs known to influence behavior (e.g., attitude, behavioral intention, personal agency, perceived norms, and outcome expectations), there was strong agreement (>74%) among those who wore cloth face coverings. Based on behavioral associations, messages should be targeted to reach populations not wearing cloth face coverings to promote a positive attitude toward cloth face covering use, encourage social networks to be supportive of cloth face covering use, describe positive health outcomes expected from wearing a cloth face covering, and help persons feel confident in their ability to obtain and wear cloth face coverings consistently and correctly.” • Better late than never, I suppose.

“Face masks should be the norm until we find a vaccine, says STEPHEN POLLARD” [Express]. “The issue is clear. If we do not get the economy moving again, a health disaster will turn into an economic cataclysm. To avoid that, we need people out and about. But since many people won’t go out until they feel safe, they need reassurance. That means making facemasks the norm….. That highlights the often forgotten point of a mask – that it’s not so much about protecting whoever is wearing one as it is protecting others from the mask wearer. You may not have a clue you are infectious – you may be asymptomatic. If you’re wearing a mask, the rest of us are safer.”

“An airborne virus is a threat worth taking seriously” [Financial Times]. “The current uncertainty over airborne spread mirrors the international debate about masks. An anxious pro-mask consensus was building for months before the WHO’s advice formally changed in June to support face coverings. Strong evidence always trumps weak, but, in an extraordinary situation, weak evidence — especially when it converges from multiple disciplines — is arguably better than none. The final answer on airborne coronavirus transmission might well be blowing in the wind.” • The Precautionary Principle…

Police State Watch

“Baltimore Police sergeant arrested, accused of extortion and kidnapping contractor while on duty, county police say” [Baltimore Sun]. “A Baltimore Police Department homicide unit sergeant was ordered held without bail Friday after allegedly extorting, kidnapping and threatening to arrest a home contractor whose work he was unhappy with and whom he drove to a bank to withdraw money for a refund. Three other homicide unit detectives were present at one point during the confrontation, and the department said a preliminary review indicates all were on duty at the time. ‘You are going to give me my money back, and I’m going to give you freedom,’ Sgt. James Lloyd told the contractor, according to charging documents.” • So The Wire was a documentary?

Humanity’s Best Friend

“Time to Tell America’s Dogs This Arrangement Won’t Last Forever” [Bloomberg]. “America’s pets are luxuriating in dreamy, continual proximity to their owners. Well, not all. ‘Cats are annoyed,’ says William Berloni, who trains animals for the stage (Annie, Legally Blonde) and screen (Billions). ‘Mine are like, Why are you in the bedroom? What are you doing here?’ But dogs are in paradise, certain—or as certain as we can be about what dogs think—that this newfound dynamic will last forever. ‘They assume it’s a new lifestyle,’ Berloni says. ‘They’re thinking, Finally our owners know that we want to be with them 24/7.’ But there’s a problem: Dogs are becoming ‘overly bonded,’ which means they’re intensely reliant on our presence to stay calm. Dogs signal this when they can no longer self-soothe and panic after an owner leaves a room or, God forbid, the house. It has to be addressed now—long before your dog is left home, solo, for long stretches when you return to the office—to avoid doggie meltdowns.”

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Best photo bomb ever:

Guillotine Watch

UPDATE Learned nothing, forgotten nothing:

UPDATE “Apple’s Cook, IBM’s Rometty, Ivanka Trump Tout Job Training” [Bloomberg]. “Apple Inc. Chief Executive Tim Cook and IBM Corp. Chairman Ginni Rometty launched the “Find Something New” campaign with the White House on Tuesday, encouraging Americans to retrain or seek new job opportunities and employers to loosen degree requirements in favor of skills-based hiring…. Ivanka Trump, a senior aide to and a daughter of President Donald Trump, joined Cook and Rometty in a virtual roundtable event Tuesday. Ivanka Trump co-chairs the White House’s American Workforce Policy Advisory Board and has spearheaded its ‘Pledge to America’s Workers’ program, in which firms make non-binding commitments to train staff.” • Oy.

Class Warfare

“The Urban Archipelago” [The Editors of The Stranger, The Stranger]. From 2004, when the red/blue trope was invented: “It’s time to state something that we’ve felt for a long time but have been too polite to say out loud: Liberals, progressives, and Democrats do not live in a country that stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from Canada to Mexico. We live on a chain of islands. We are citizens of the Urban Archipelago, the United Cities of America. We live on islands of sanity, liberalism, and compassion–New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle, St. Louis, Minneapolis, San Francisco, and on and on. And we live on islands in red states too–a fact obscured by that state-by-state map…. For Democrats, it’s the cities, stupid–not the rural areas, not the prickly, hateful ‘heartland,’ but the sane, sensible cities–including the cities trapped in the heartland. Pandering to rural voters is a waste of time… We can secede emotionally, however, by turning our backs on the heartland. We can focus on our issues, our urban issues, and promote our shared urban values. We can create a new identity politics*, one that transcends class, race, sexual orientation, and religion, one that unites people living in cities with each other and with other urbanites in other cities…. To red-state voters, to the rural voters, residents of small, dying towns, and soulless sprawling exburbs, we say this: Fuck off.” • Looks like it’s working! Good job on the falling life expectancy project! NOTE * Interesting early usage. 2004!

“Amazon Tells Staff Hand-Washing Time Won’t Be Held Against Them” [Bloomberg]. “In a message Amazon sent recently to employees and posted in bathrooms at the Staten Island facility, the e-commerce giant said workers wouldn’t be disciplined for falling short of quotas based on how many tasks they complete each hour. Time spent on safety measures like handwashing also won’t be counted against them under Amazon’s “Time Off Task” policy, which limits the number of unproductive minutes allowed in their day.”

News of the Wired

UPDATE “Nothing gives champagne its fizz like a humble radish” [Agence France Presse]. “Forget Beluga caviar, foie gras, smoked salmon or ortolan, the tiny bird that French gourmets put a napkin over their heads to eat so they can savour every last second of their unique aroma. No, the food that goes best with the finest champagne is the humble radish…. Didier Depond, the head of the venerable Delamotte champagne house, is so convinced of the validity of Puisais’ science he has become an evangelist for the root vegetable. ‘They have all the virtues. They cost nothing and they don’t make you fat,’ Depond added as he led an online champagne tasting, one of many which have flourished since the coronavirus.”

Honoring Bastille Day by honoring French, and the French:

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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 (JN):

JN only sent the photo, and I can’t think of anything clever to say, so I’ll just admire the loveliness.

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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. John A

    Honoring Bastille Day by honoring French, and the French:

    Cant. Stop. Laughing.

    Get that guy talking about how they count in Danish. Makes French child’s play.

    1. voteforno6

      From talking to an inhabitant of a different Scandinavian country, the impression I got of the Danes is that they’re like the Geordies – they supposedly speak a very similar language, but it’s very hard to understand them.

      1. Irrational

        Incidentally, the Danish for eighty is “firs”, shortened from the old “firsindstyve” or “four times twenty” = quatre-vingts.
        Guess we were just better at modernising the language.

  2. voteforno6

    Re: French Numbers

    I tried making that exact same point to a French relation. I asked why they just couldn’t come up with a number for eighty, but no, she said, “quatre-vingts” is their word for “eighty,” so why is it so hard to remember that?

    Of course, English and it’s many ‘merikun varieties have all sorts of quirks as well, so who am I to judge?

    1. hunkerdown

      Just remember the French count on their toes too, so it’s just like four-ty in base 20. Cheeky-breeky! I mean, what were Mayans counting on to get to base 12? Did the Astronauts have extra fingers or something?

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      yep about americanese and our dialects.
      when i was in my twenties(pronounced “twennneez”) i met a girl from minnasota…and was smitten by her accent,lol.
      so exotic!
      then i got out into the world a bit…from el paso to florida panhandle, via Oklahoma,Kansas, Arkansas a sliver of Missouri , and of course alabama, mississippi and lousiana.
      we are not, and have never been, one country,lol…based on language , alone.
      when i lived with that extended family of swamp-rat cajun people in the Atchafalaya Basin, i couldn’t understand a word when we first got there.
      after almost 6 months(? pretty hazy on the chronology of that whole period), having been essentially immersed in it, since i hadn’t seen anybody else in all that time, I could understand maybe 60% of what was said.(excitation or drunkenness excepted)
      now, i’ve been 21 years with my wife’s extended familia…and texmex still has me dumbly nodding,lol.

      one of the things i love about mankind.

      1. Swamp Yankee

        I love American dialects! My freshman roommate as an undergrad thought that I said “out” (I have an eastern New England accent, though pretty heavily code switch depending on the social situation) like a Canadian.

        Also had great difficulty understanding a friend’s (not particularly nice) mother from Port Arthur, TX. She also had a hard time understanding me, something about the way New England vowels sound in words like “hot.” Even my Mid-Atlantic friends say the way we say “hot” sounds like “hut” to them.

        And don’t get me started on the “Mary/merry/marry” phenomenon — three different words east of the Appalachians, one word with a strange kind of (to my ears at least) “a” sound in each. One friend from Oregon couldn’t even hear the difference when I and a fellow New Englander demonstrated the differences in a sentence (“Mary merrily got married.”).

        As my friend from Colombia says — “you’re a continent, not a country!”


        1. polecat

          So perhaps we should break-up like one. Like little tectons, shifting .. with some moving apart, others docking into new aggregations .. preferably peacefully, and without eruption!

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            i’ve always been down with that, but the crazier parts of the Right successfully absorbed the entire concept into their protoplasm…making it a sort of organelle, i guess.
            at the very least, break up Texas…it’s too damned big for the currently configured methods of gooberment.
            Smaller Polities all around!
            My current state senator(Charles Perry, a real piece of work) lives and is officed in Lubbock, which is what? 6 hours away from here?
            Hard to yell at him from such a distance…and there seems to be something wrong with his phones.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > we should break-up like one. Like little tectons, shifting .. with some moving apart, others docking into new aggregations .. preferably peacefully, and without eruption!

            Who gets the nukes?

        2. ChrisPacific

          There is a traditional Scottish patter song called ‘Mary Mac’ (and variant spellings) that features those three words (Mary/merry/marry) in various combinations, sung very fast. Carbon Leaf (band from Virginia) do a good version.

      2. howseth

        I’m originally from NY & Long Island – growing up nobody had an accent (except my friend Stuey – who just sounded like he was sucking on lemons).

        I moved to Chicago when I was 29. They had an accent in Chicago. People gave me a second look when I ordered something in a store, “uh,scusemewhere’sduhcawfee”.

        After 5-7 years – give or take – Chicago lost it’s accent – but, all my family and friends back in NY gained a rather humorous one.

        1. Swamp Yankee

          In teaching my aforementioned Colombian friend the difference between a Boston and a NYC accent, which after all are both heavily non-rhotic but also non-Southern, “coffee” became a key tell. New York has the classic George Costanza “Cooawwfffeee” whereas Boston says it more like “cough-fee” or “cawfee”, drier vowels, harsher. Interestingly enough, this language isogloss extends much farther into New England than you might think. People from Rhode Island and adjacent MA cities like Fall River use the New York pronunciation, while retaining mostly otherwise Eastern New England features of speech; though it seems to end just about at Fall River (towns immediately to the north and east of “FallReeev” as the local predominantly Lusophone population calls it use the Boston pronunciation, e.g.).

          Another interesting aspect is accents-within-an-accent. I swear to God people from Revere, MA, have their own special accent, as they do in Taunton, MA. Distinguishing Boston English from rural New England English is easier — but how about between types of rural New England? That’s a hard one! How do Mainer vowels differ from those of the southern New England “Swamp Yankee” (e.g., rural southern New England) vowels? To me, Maine seems dryer, the Swamp Yankee vowels are chewier. And forget about Springfield, you might as well be in Chicago! Seriously, the Connecticut River is the beginning of the Inland Northern dialect. Someone from North Adams, MA, talks more like they’re from Rochester or Michigan than from Southie or Cape Cod (speaking of which, there is an ancient Cape Cod accent that is dying out, borne of the sea and long winter isolation, but rarer and rarer as summer people and national broadcasting, as well as Bostonian metro expansion, bring other dialects in).

          Anyway, I could go on for hours!

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            aye. I like this sort of thing, too.
            wife took some linguistics courses when she was getting her spanish degree, and this has provided much fodder for date-afternoon rides around in the pasture.
            i was unaware of it, but i partially code-switch when i start talking about intellectual things(phil,econ, comparative mythology)
            …partially lose my baked in east texas drawl with the fifty cent words.
            now that she’s pointed it out, i notice it,lol….and it makes me uncomfortable, somehow.
            we’ve also identified a handful of non-east texas idioms i habitually employ…and mostly figured out their provenance.
            grandma’s people came from midwest, etc.
            things like corner as “coner”…wash as “warsh”….fascinating!
            what strange creatures we are.

          2. MJ

            Back in the late 1960s, I was poking around in Yale’s Sterling Library when I came upon a large volume entitled Linguistic Atlas of New England (check out the Wikipedia article). Transcriptions of pronunciations elicited from informants across the region were printed directly onto maps of New England, at the location of each informant’s hometown. One map was included for each of the 734 items that were studied.

            I imagine that modern communications and mobility have erased those differences by now.

      3. Copeland

        Shortly after graduating college in my home state of Minnesota, I took a job in Boston. When the holidays rolled around, my Boston boss asked me:

        “Clark, are you going back to Minnesota for Christmas?”

        What I heard was:

        “Clock, are you going back to Minnesoter for Christmas?”

        They save up the R’s from where they should be, and use them where they shouldn’t.

        Now I’m in Seattle, perhaps the most accent-free part of the country?

        1. wilroncanada

          My father, a francophone Quebecois from right on the Vermont border, took the “H” off orse and put it on the “H”umberella.
          Now, listen to Newfoundlanders; they not only have accents, but a whole different vocabulary. And I love it!

        2. Janie

          My friend from Boston related her story of a visit to the Chicago planetarium gift shop. (She spoke at the speed of Yellow Rose of Texas.) She wanted to buy a “stah chot) and had to write out the request.

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      They improved upon the latin. 18 was duogeveginte but seventeen is just sedecim. Following the madness, 19 is of course undeveginti. So small steps.

    4. Bugs Bunny

      Somebody told me that the French used to use septante (70) octante (80) and nonante (90) but Napoléon changed it back. Not sure if that’s true. Belgium uses quatre-vingt like in France, but not soixante-dix or quatre-vingt dix. Swiss francophones use huitante for 80. French colonies and ex-colonies follow metropolitan France usage. Oh, and quatre-vingt takes an ‘s’ when it represents multiplication ergo “quatre-vingts euros” vs. “quatre-vingt deux euros”.

      The important thing, if you’re taking down a number that someone is dictating to you, wait a second and listen carefully before you write down anything from 60 – 90.

      Legend has it that Louis XVI wrote in his diary on this day in 1789, “aujourd’hui, rien”

      Hope I got it all right!

    5. Moshe Braner

      Americans are supposed to remember that there are 16 ounces in a pound, and 4 quarts in a gallon, 12 inches in a foot, and 5280 (is that correct?) feet in a mile. The French keep things WAAAY simpler.

      1. The Rev Kev

        And it only took a Revolution to do it. After it was done, they had their best scientists gather together and form a logical system to replace the mish-mash of measures used throughout France. Pity they did not do the same for their numbering system according to that New York taxi cab driver.

        But we used the old system in Oz until the 70s. I still remember inches, feet, chains, bushels, pints, stones, acres and all the rest of it and a bit how they came about. The definition of an acre was once how much land a man with an ox-team could plow in a day. If you think that this system is bad, you should have tried the old English money system of currency where 12 pennies makes a shilling, twenty shillings makes a pound except where you had twenty-one shillings make a Sterling pound. Even the British gave up on that system.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Kinda. I hear stones and have to work out that in kilograms but it is taking decades to have oldies like me to forget the old system. You still hear about babies in terms of how many pounds that they weigh. Heard about one old guy who went to buy some timber. When asked what size he said ‘Oh, about 6 mills by 8 inches will do.’ I had hoped to forget it all but doing genealogy has forced me to re-learn the old system all over again. Groan!

          2. Basil Pesto

            This must be a generational thing – I’ve never heard anyone say stone in ordinary usage here, though I know my parents are certainly familiar with it. They occasionally lapse into the old measurements, particularly if presented with a metric unit of something that they can’t readily conceive of – they’ll do a quick conversion to the old system and that gives them a better conception of what’s being discussed.

            1. Amfortas the hippie

              that’s how i am. I’m an inches and feet guy, and loathe metric measurements
              I appreciate that it’s more logical, but in my life, it just adds unnecessary calculations…mostly when dealing with the various engines, etc.
              we had a string trimmer that had an american made engine that was SAE, on the body, etc of the machine that was metric…so i ‘d have to get out both sets of tools to fool with it.
              not really that big a deal, just frustrating.

          3. PlutoniumKun

            In Ireland, most people calculate distance in metres and km, but land is still sold in acres. Products are bought and sold in g and kg, while everyone measures their height in feet and inches, and body weight is almost always in stones, and occasionally kgs, but never in lbs.

        1. juliania

          I still miss pounds, shillings and pence. And florins, and halfcrowns, and ha’pennies and even farthings! Sixpence, thruppence….bring ’em back!

        2. steelyman

          I believe 21 shillings would equal one Guinea. The reason…… Tradesmen were paid in pounds but gentlemen always in Guineas. And every penny could be broken down further into a smaller unit called a farthing (four to a penny).

          1. Wukchumni

            Go deeper and there were 1/3rd Farthings as late as the early 20th century, just to complicate things, and don’t get me going on Groats.

  3. Kurt Sperry

    High political drama underway in Seattle.

    Today, Mayor Jenny Durkan stood alongside Seattle Police Department Chief Carmen Best and proposed ~*reimagining*~ $76 million worth of services handled by the SPD, which amounts to 20 percent of the department’s budget.

    Durkan said she would achieve these cuts by reallocating to civilian control civilian services within SPD, such as the 911 dispatch center, parking enforcement, the Office of Emergency Management, and the Office of Police Accountability. That would account for $56 million in cuts to SPD’s budget on top of the $20 million Durkan proposed last month.

    The mayor’s move would satisfy only one part of a four-part proposal from Decriminalize Seattle and King County Equity Now to defund the police department, but the Seattle City Council wants to go further to meet those demands.

    Last week, seven of the nine council members voiced their support for cutting the SPD budget by 50 percent, another demand from activists and protesters. Best called this idea “reckless,” and Durkan called it “irresponsible.”


    1. Off The Street

      How many of those Seattlites may be up for re-election this fall? At some point there will be massive push-back as citizens realize the likely effects of the recent city council causes. They’re on Puget Sound, they’ll understand tides.

    2. Billy

      Oh goody, does that mean that I can punch out a meter maid over aggressively giving tickets, and it will be just simple assault, instead of a felonious attack on a policewoman?

  4. Big River Bandido

    Re: Arianne Cohen, Time to Tell America’s Dogs This Arrangement Won’t Last Forever

    …But there’s a problem: Dogs are becoming ‘overly bonded,’ which means they’re intensely reliant on our presence to stay calm. Dogs signal this when they can no longer self-soothe and panic after an owner leaves a room or, God forbid, the house. It has to be addressed now—long before your dog is left home, solo, for long stretches when you return to the office—to avoid doggie meltdowns.

    This is foolish crap written by someone who doesn’t know the first thing about dog psychology.

    A person who does not spend *most of their time* with their domesticated dog should not own one.

      1. Billy

        Even a dog knows the difference between being “tripped over” and “kicked”.

        Think 1960s, if you don’t get it man.

  5. Mr. House

    “Face masks should be the norm until we find a vaccine, says STEPHEN POLLARD”

    So forever then eh? Comforting thought

  6. SD

    I have two cats (both neighborhood strays I adopted) who are thrilled I’m home! I live in rural New England, and both my cats are indoor-outdoor. They delight in having their human servant available to manage ingress/egress, brushing, and prompt delivery of treats and meals.

    1. jo6pac

      I for one is happy for you. You were easy to train and they didn’t have to harm you in any;-)

      human servant available 24/7 your cats life couldn’t be any better.

    1. Off The Street

      For want of a nail campaign stop in Wisconsin, or was it Michigan, or maybe Ohio, or why not all of them, an election a Queendom was lost.

      1. rowlf

        Good’un. I kinda stuck between “I had a guaranteed military sale with ED 209 campaign – renovation program, spare parts for twenty-five years… Who cares if it worked or not?” and “Oh, but you can’t expect to wield supreme executive power just because some watery tart fawning consulting team that ran on cubic money threw a sword campaign at you.”

      2. edmondo

        Hillary lost votes every time she campaigned somewhere (that’s how hated she was). The only reason that Wisconsin and Michigan were close, is that she never showed up and alienated anyone in person. Uncle Joe learned his lesson and has been holed up in his bunker in Delaware. (If there was only a way to keep him there for 4 years….)

    2. clarky90


      “Bari Weiss

      Dear A.G.,

      It is with sadness that I write to tell you that I am resigning from The New York Times.

      I joined the paper with gratitude and optimism three years ago. I was hired with the goal of bringing in voices that would not otherwise appear in your pages: first-time writers, centrists, conservatives and others who would not naturally think of The Times as their home. The reason for this effort was clear: The paper’s failure to anticipate the outcome of the 2016 election meant that it didn’t have a firm grasp of the country it covers. Dean Baquet and others have admitted as much on various occasions. The priority in Opinion was to help redress that critical shortcoming……..”

      1. The Rev Kev

        I think that is known as a Parthian shot that. Maybe not the best look on your resume though.

      2. neo-realist

        If the Grey Lady wants to bring some ideological diversity to their pages, why not bring in some hard core progressive voices, e.g., Thomas Frank, Glen Ford, Caitlin Johnstone, Dave Lindorff. They don’t qualify as those others?

        Bringing in centrists, conservatives? You mean elite bootlickers like David Brooks and Thomas Friedman don’t draw within those lines?

  7. Krystyn Podgajski

    I am so tired of trying to figure out this mask stuff.

    I would rather just wear a surgical mask because I only go out for groceries. Are they ok for that? But I look on Amazon for them and none of them say surgical masks so I do not know if they are the right ones.

    And why is it so hard to find a cloth mask with an insert and an nose wire? Where is all the capitalism they keep talking about? Why are people even making masks without nose wires?

    And yes, I broke down and signed up for Amazon because I get a discount for Prime being on Medicaid and every time I go to a big chain stores all I see is people with masks either below their nose or under their chin so I am refusing to go in them anymore.

    My landlord came over and was about to come in my house without a mask and I scolded him good. And his wife is a radiologist. I hate this country.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      I’m sticking with my bandanas…wife and boys have a bunch of those homemade fancy masks that people we know who sew have been making, but i cannot abide the behind the ear elastic.
      but if there’s a bunch of people in the post office or whatever store i need to go into, i’ll go somewhere else first to let it thin out.
      and i haven;t lingered in any such place since this began.
      long before the pandemic, it was a sort of running joke between wife and my mom that i’m no fun to shop with…ie: i have my list and i methodically and efficiently go through and collect what’s on it, and am immune to all the plus-selling psywar nonsense….while for both of them, shopping is a leisure activity, and they peruse and linger and backtrack and take ten times as long as i do.(not any more)
      well…i’m even less fun to shop with, now,lol…

      hardware store is the worst…it’s crammed full of stuff, so there’s no way to distance oneself..dollar store is bad like that, too…a closely spaced maze of aisles with cardboard displays jutting out everywhere…
      haven’t darkened their door since february.

      and, regarding mask wearing…we went to walmart yesterday in brady, texas.
      everyone in that town was wearing a mask..unlike our town, Mason, where almost nobody is.

      1. Darius

        I made masks with string and Swiffers. I use one piece of string looping around head and tied behind my neck. The Swiffer is folded once into two layers. This string is attached with staples and is adjustable. It works fine. I also bought a cotton mask with four long ties you can tie behind your head. I don’t like the loops behind the ears either.

        1. Krystyn Podgajski

          Eh, whatever. My coop had a 10 pack of surgical masks for $8. That’s better than any homemade mask.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > I made masks with string and Swiffers.

          Swiffer is in fact the second-best on the list in the article.

          Also, I forget which commenter said this, but it’s amazing that there’s no little innovation in the mask market. Masks should be washable instead of throwaway, and should be fashion forward, so people can express their, er, identities with them. But there is no innovation at all at the industrial level.

          1. hunkerdown

            Perhaps the Death’s Head black face coverings are still somewhere in the licensed product pipeline.

          2. curlydan

            also, shouldn’t there be a mask for bars? I was thinking of some flap and magnet so a “drinker” could quickly pull up on a string, take a drink, then quickly reclose the mask. I guess I should learn to sew and make one myself.

            1. polecat

              Praytell, how does one drink with a mask on ??

              Are masks supposed to act as a sieve, when imbibing ?? Just don’t try smoking while doing so .. or you’ll risk becoming an impromptu molotov cocktail.

              I can imagine eating through one might have its’ own particular hazards ..

              1. ambrit

                One does not drink with a mask on, one sips, as in through a straw.
                To eat through a masque means that one is bored with the pavane.

          3. RMO

            “Masks should be washable instead of throwaway”

            Contemplating the use of throwaway N95’s in hospitals I’ve found myself thinking that even going with something similar to the half-mask respirator I used at work might be an improvement. It had replaceable cartridges (organic-vapor for my job) preceded by replaceable P100 elements. The fitted silicon rubber mask sealed well and was very comfortable. If the exhalation valve was deleted and it they made it so it had just the two P100 pre-fliters mounted in quick change clips then the only throw-away part would be those filters. The rest of the mask could be easily sterilized and reused. Possibly the pre-filters could be sterilized too for that matter as once separated from the rest of the mask they could likely be autoclaved. They could likely be reused many times before the material gets blocked enough by dust that the airflow is insufficient.

            Surgical masks seem to be readily available here in the Vancouver area now. Not sure about the N95s though – I still have some of those from the box I bought a few years ago for dusty jobs.

          4. Basil Pesto

            I linked them before months ago but here’s an NYC company (that I buy a lot of my normal clothes from) that’s been experimenting with masks https://shop.outlier.nyc/shop/retail/mask001-ultrasuedesnaptight.html

            They’re up to their 3rd iteration now but I can’t find the product page for it. For instance I think they got rid of that closure on the back in the above link which doesn’t look especially comfortable. They get good-to-very-good reviews on their reddit with regards to comfort and breathability, but there are two major problems:

            1. They’re expensive (I think their latest was $125)

            2. They are: a) a popular ~cult~ brand; b) dealing with supply problems for the fabrics I would imagine and c) have timed weekly releases that everyone gets primed for. I believe the latest mask release sold out in 60 seconds. They’re a small brand that doesn’t want to rely on outside investment and would like to grow organically (which they have done) so it’s understandable. I’m not sure what it would take to scale up their production and get their product in the hands of everyday people who are yearning for a functional and comfortable mask as many people here seem to be, rather than their typically more preening and devoted customers.

            But yeah, their hallmark is they’re pretty obsessed with fabrics generally and experimenting with garments in different ways in terms of materials and construction. I’m gonna share that fast.ai link on their subreddit and see what they make of it.

      2. hunkerdown

        A few months back my sister out west sent me sewn masks with four free-ended stretch-knit ribbons on them (30-40cm?) which you can tie behind the head or the ear as you like. I use both, depending on my feelings that day. Maybe you should have the home front make you some customs.

        I took a trip to Micro Center last week for some not-entirely-essentials (okay fine it was 3D printer filament) and, aside from masks (which are now mandatory in Michigan as of last night, by Executive Order 2020-147), they simply demanded you sanitize your hands before they would let you in to paw the merchandise. Pretty sensible, and I wish supermarkets could or would done the same. Most people don’t put SD cards directly into their mouths after handling the retail packaging, but potato chips are another matter.

        Patience is sort of a required thing if one wishes to complete shopping these days. One has to weigh the value of the goods being acquired versus the risk of being in an air volume with uncertain viral load. With immunocompromise present in your compound, maybe ordering screws and small parts from China is still the better, faster way to go, even with the Post Office in the process of being Gadhafied.

    2. jr

      I ordered a backup of our vacuum cleaners HEPA filters just in case I have to make my own…I’m rocking bandanas at the moment….

    3. Lee

      “I hate this country.”

      Alas, no others will have us. We live behind the viral curtain.

  8. EGrise

    I have to share this because I found it so delightfully random yesterday:


    This is Dairy Ashford Road in western Houston, and it was like 105 degrees outside. The comments are great too: other than the post office puns, it seems like men criticized their technique while women wondered why anyone would wear a bubble vest in this heat.

  9. Samuel Conner

    re: You have no time!

    Perhaps he’s thinking like a politician. A week is a long time in politics.

    re: People shooting their way into ERs?

    Perhaps the militias will provide security in exchange for expedited care in the event they fall ill.

  10. Billy

    “one health expert warns that if the US continues on its current path it will reach ‘one of the most unstable times in the history of our country.

    The sentiment that I get on the street, from the people that I talk to is
    WE NEED NATIONAL HEALTHCARE! Or, whatever label you want to hang on it.

    Only politicians who support that are entitled to your vote.

        1. hunkerdown

          So she’s getting exactly what she gave. Well, good. Let’s make sure she gets it threefold and can’t find work in journalism anymore anywhere.

        2. Darthbobber

          Does it require enormous bravery to deal with some of your coworkers saying (unspecified) mean things about you on Twitter? Please.

        3. flora

          I do not like the thought-police mentality affecting campuses and I do not like it affecting journalism and newspapers, even if it’s aimed at someone I disagree with. Writers I disagree with prod me to think about where their arguments are wrong. It’s good exercise. So, I’m sorry to read she’s been hounded out of her job, even though I often disagree with her.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            that’s how i feel about it, too.
            i mean, i make a point to read max boot, BECAUSE i don’t agree with him on anything but that thing about water and wetness.
            if the mob can get bari booted, they can get anyone booted…and this craziness sure didn’t stay on campus…it moved out into the world along with the people who graduated from those campuses.
            how long before members of that mob end up in positions of real power?(which, like it or not, they apparently already have)

            1. a different chris

              >if the mob can get bari booted

              JFC. They didn’t get her booted.

              She booted herself. She is a thin-skinned white girl with no concerns about feeding herself, and thus up and quit. This is exactly the problem with the attack on Cancel Culture, people who can’t deal with being disliked, let alone direct criticism, get to act like victims.

              Give. Me. A. Break.

              1. flora

                Sure. Greenwald has an interesting story about what happened when he tried to make a movie.
                I remember watching some Evert/Navratilova tennis matches; they were were such intense contests I still remember them.


                To quote a commentor in todays links (h/t martell):

                Freedom of speech can be greatly diminished when a majority of the population or a very active minority is able to prevent the expression of views with which they (the majority or the “activists”) disagree by making and making good on threats of various kinds: ostracism, denial of employment, etc.

          2. Bugs Bunny


            Mostly disagreed with her columns but now I agree with her – they hired a “center right” columnist and she did her job well enough that I would avoid her columns.

            She’s right about Twitter, which is btw half the paper now. Public editor gone. Friedman still there, gawd knows why. Douthat often sounds reasonable, which makes me question my mental state.

            Ah, the Grey Lady.

        4. Carolinian

          Whatever one thinks about Weiss–and I only know a little about her–this is damning stuff re the Times

          She said that she is not alone in such treatment under the new order and that “the truth is that intellectual curiosity—let alone risk-taking—is now a liability at The Times.” She stated:

          “Twitter is not on the masthead of The New York Times. But Twitter has become its ultimate editor. As the ethics and mores of that platform have become those of the paper, the paper itself has increasingly become a kind of performance space. Stories are chosen and told in a way to satisfy the narrowest of audiences, rather than to allow a curious public to read about the world and then draw their own conclusions.”

          Perhaps it all goes back to this, still during the 2016 campaign


          Sez Rutenberg

          If you’re a working journalist and you believe that Donald J. Trump is a demagogue playing to the nation’s worst racist and nationalistic tendencies, that he cozies up to anti-American dictators and that he would be dangerous with control of the United States nuclear codes, how the heck are you supposed to cover him?

          Because if you believe all of those things, you have to throw out the textbook American journalism has been using for the better part of the past half-century, if not longer, and approach it in a way you’ve never approached anything in your career. If you view a Trump presidency as something that’s potentially dangerous, then your reporting is going to reflect that. You would move closer than you’ve ever been to being oppositional. That’s uncomfortable and uncharted territory for every mainstream, nonopinion journalist I’ve ever known, and by normal standards, untenable.

          Needless to say Rutenberg concludes that Trump, by being “abnormal,” requires abnormal standards because of the NYT’s “duty to the public.” (Some of that abnormal consists of bashing NATO and praising Putin–clearly great crimes). The result has been several years of sordid NYT history. They are advocates on both sides of the “Chinese wall.” If the subject is politics or foreign policy go elsewhere.

          1. periol

            “intellectual curiosity—let alone risk-taking—is now a liability at The Times”

            When was that not true? We are talking about The New York Times, correct?

          2. clarky90

            Ewwwwhh, Trump is such a stinky poooop. I’m never, ever, going to invite him to MY birthday party. I’m not even going to talk to him or play with him! He is sooo yukky! I hate him, hate him, hate him…..

            My Mommy and Daddy have way more mansions than Donald does!

            (I’m not being sarcastic)

          3. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Maybe it is the internet and Google search algos’s fault after all.

            Used to be you heard all sorts of opposing viewpoints. Then, web: you’re served an ever-narrowing circle of stuff you agree with. Pretty soon you can be convinced that 100% of the world thinks exactly like you do. And so that MUST be the RIGHT way to think.

            So you end up with the outgoing POTUS using the FBI to thwart the incoming prez. Because they all KNEW they were RIGHT.

            1. flora

              Interesting point. A generation (in internet years) that thinks everyone on their ‘team’ must think the same way, that a thought monoculture is good. That’s different from expecting different opinions, expecting to argue, and thinking diversity of opinion is a strength, not a threat.

              1. flora

                And as you say, the interwebs search algos can display individualized ” an ever-narrowing circle of stuff you agree with.”

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The speculation is she is joining noted skull measurer Andy Sullivan and Ben Shapiro to have a non-partisan FoxNews style newsletter.

      1. jr

        See, everyone was mean to her…that was the problem:


        ““But the lessons that ought to have followed the election—lessons about the importance of understanding other Americans, the necessity of resisting tribalism, and the centrality of the free exchange of ideas to a democratic society—have not been learned,” Weiss said in her letter addressed to publisher A.G. Sulzberger.”

        I watched her on JRE, IIRC she undermined every single one of those sentiments either directly or indirectly. I hope she ends up writing for “Grit”…

        1. Rhondda

          Grit is a really good magazine and I subscribe. Bari Weiss doesn’t inspire the empathy, I know…but have you ever been bullied and hounded like it appears she was? I have experienced that or something akin to it. So even though I have not liked her or respected her, I do feel for her. Nevertheless, I am not interested in her “centrist” worldview in my “news”.

          1. jr

            I’m dating myself here terribly, I was referring to “Grit” from about 35 years ago, as I recall it was quite reactionary. I remember a column “Ed Anger: the Voice of America!” which now sounds prescient. The new Grit doesn’t see like that at all.

            And yes, I’ve been terribly bullied, mostly by my own family, but I never turned into a professional hate fountain:


            She’s a professional liar on behalf of baby killers and thieves. I’m sure her support for murder isn’t limited to snipers blowing away kid’s kneecaps in Gaza. So no, no comfort for monsters. I don’t feel a single thing for her and I wouldn’t no matter what situation she found herself in.

            1. jr

              Doh, memory fail, Ed Anger is at the World Weekly News…I think I melded Grit and them together. *<;o)

  11. SerenityNow

    “Fire, Fire, Gentrifier”

    It seems that gentrification is only a bad thing if you aren’t one of the ones getting a cut of the appreciating property values–if you are, then it’s called “opportunity” or “wealth building”. In my experience working in housing, many of the people who rage against gentrification seem to miss the reality that the entire system is predicated on the commodification of land for private gain. They don’t want their neighborhood to gentrify until they can get in on a piece of the action or until they are ready to sell. The real answer is to take profit out of all housing and land speculation via land banks or land taxes–but no one really wants to advocate for that.

    1. MK

      Seriously, how would that work? There is a reason (right or wrong) why one house sells for $500,000 and another sells for $50,000 (same sq. footage, acreage, etc. but the first one is in the outer suburb, let’s say Westchester and the latter is in the inner-city rust belt, let’s say Syracuse).

      If I could pick up my inner-city home and move it few miles to Pittsford, NY, it would almost triple in ‘value’. And the suburban school districts are a huge driver of all this inequality.

      1. SerenityNow

        Most housing is valuable because of its location–and locations become valuable because of public investments into things like roads, sidewalks, schools, water systems, police coverage, etc. When people use homeownership as a wealth building tool, they are capitalizing public investments into private gains. The bricks, nails, wood, and shingles of $500,000 house in the hottest markets are not actually worth $500,000, the access provided to the area within those property lines is. In most cases, selling the land is not selling the bricks, nails, and wood, but selling the access. Housing should be like cars–a depreciating asset.

        To resolve gentrification, the system would have to be set up so that no one could store up value by hoarding property (access) and thus no one would be incentivized to so severely how others use nearby property (zoning). There would have to be an understanding that a home is a tool you live in, not an investment vehicle you happen to inhabit. Land tax does this by removing at sale the gains accrued to the property because of surrounding public improvements, land banks do this by removing the land value from any transaction.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          I usually cheerfully pay my property taxes(O.W.Holmes-“taxes are the fee i pay for civilisation”).
          However, here in backwater Texas, at least, they’re smoking strong stuff at the appraisal office.
          twice now i’ve had to protest…as in go through the rigamarole process…to remind them that an almost 30 year old trailerhouse does not appreciate…especially by $13,000 in one year, as my last year’s statement alleges.
          I missed the appeal date, due to chaos around wife’s cancer stuff…and when i looked at what i was supposed to pay in january, i was shocked at the numbers,lol.
          last time this happened, it went up around $6K.
          actual tax bill due was 60 or 70 bucks, and i would have preferred to just pay it and yell at them as i did…but mom beat me to raising hell about it, and got some special dispensation for me to go down there in July with pictures and such….but then covid happened, and i really don’t want to do that.
          again, the actual tax bill for last year is around $60.
          and the new appraisal notice has that trailer back down to $3000 value…which is still quite ludicrous.
          they know who we are, too,lol.
          years ago, this county was one of two who continued to tax vehicles, after court cases led to a change in the law outlawing that practice. No state level remedy or recourse, so stepdad fought it…for almost 7 years.
          Finally, when they sent a notice that they would seize the vehicle, he relented and said he’d pay it. I talked him into paying it in pennies.
          The look on their faces when i brought in feedsacks full of pennies and asked for a receipt,lol.
          it is common practice with that office…and i assume in others like it…to raise the valuation on the properties of po folks…hoping that they will be ashamed to go before the board that hears appeals…made up entirely of local worthies who are also all slumlords, and who get their rentals from tax sales from delinquent taxes(no conflict of interest there,lol)…and show pictures of their falling down hovels. Or, barring that, just be confused by the bills enough to where they just pay them, or ignore them.
          informal polling indicates that this never happens to the wealthy folks with the big ranches, nor those way up on the rich hill overlooking the town.
          rantangent over…
          my point is that valuing property is not at all cut and dried, and is often far from above board.
          that POS trailer should have never, ever been valued at such an amount…if “The Market Value” is what they supposedly go by, then that pos trailer ain’t worth anything at all…because i am more likely to find a diamond-studded leprechaun in the latrine than to find someone willing to buy it.
          also, if my end-of-the-road neighbors find a rich fool and sell their place…which is almost an open pit iron mine, what with all the ancient cars and trucks and farm implements scattered around…for…say $10 million bucks(it ain’t worth that)…then that makes all the rest of our property “values” go up.
          I’m all for taxes…but only if they’re fair.
          the way they do it here, is anything but.

          and, i agree totally about the whole flipping houses nonsense, and would never even think about getting an equity loan or whatever.
          I lean far more towards Henry George

          1. ambrit

            The reverse of your process also happens. We bought a ‘fixer upper’ on Miami Beach back in 1967. The woman who died had several properties. she left this one to her “boyfriend” who lived in California. Dad saw the place and visited a local realtor.
            “How much do they want for it?” dad asks.
            “We don’t know.” replies the realtor, (who later became a friend of Dad’s.)
            “So,” Dad insists, “call them up and ask.”
            The “new” owner didn’t care about the place and made up a figure from out of thin air. The end result was that Mom and Dad got the place for one quarter of the surrounding neighborhood’s “average” valuation. Over the years Dad fixed the place up nicely. The neighbors hated us for years for causing their property values to drop. (One later admitted that the general consensus had been that the place, built in 1927, would be demolished and something new built in it’s place. That eventually did happen, thirty years later.)

        2. Duck1

          The terrible thing is that this is about the only way other than the lottery for a lucky few proles in burgs like SF to make a killing financially. I think it is the land value that makes a hovel in SF worth high six figures on a 25×100 lot on a street of shabby row houses.

          1. JTMcPhee

            Think about who and what dies, when the blessed techies in SF and SilVal “make a killing?”

          2. ambrit

            Exactly that happened to my Mom when she finally sold the house on Miami Beach.
            Luckily, she used the money wisely, she built my youngest sister and her family a house up near West Palm Beach. (She also contracted the job herself, saving mucho dinero.) Now she has her semi-private “pad” in that home and lives with the sister’s family. An extended family situation that works. This probably because Little Sister’s husband is of old school Spanish stock. (Don’t call him a Cuban or you’ll have a fight on your hands.) We Anglos are of stock that tried to assimilate into the American Dream and found it wanting. Now we’re hybrids.

          3. SerenityNow

            If the ones who bought property in San Francisco were lucky “proles”, then what would we call the people who came after them that were unable to even find a place to rent due, to the decades of exclusionary zoning that the “lucky” ones had demanded?

            Anyone who bought property and profited from it has been part of the problem.

            1. periol

              The conspicuous spending in the aftermath of 9/11 always got my goat. All those mortgage refis turned into fancy cars and granite counters and everyone pretending like it was a good economy.

              The problem is that “need” to make a killing financially. It’s a current that runs deep.

              1. Amfortas the hippie

                in the maybe 5 years leading up to the GFC, realtors sprouted like sticker burrs out here…all locals…and locals who were already known for their lack of scruples when it came to moneymaking,lol.
                They pranced around and lorded over for a time, and then quietly went back to waitressing and running cows.
                I see our 20 acres as a Homestead…and forbid any of my bunch(including my mom) from encumbering it in any way, at all.
                Wife wants to be scattered here…and I’ve told the boys that when i go, get a couple of cords of mesquite, 5 gallons of diesel and a keg of shiner and see me off in the back pasture(inform the VFD, of course).
                I realise that this hankering for stability…for a place to become a part of and then evolve with… is somewhat iconoclastic in these times…
                and that it likely derives from the utter lack of such stability in my earlier life.
                I also think that it’s likely to get a lot more popular in the years ahead.

            2. Duck1

              I know it goes back away, but believe it or not SF used to be a mostly working class city. The place has been pretty built up since I was a kid in the sixties, when the last lots were built in the sand dunes of the Sunset district. There was plenty of racism and restrictive covenants, the Fillmore district was destroyed by redevelopment in the 50’s-60’s which was the Black cultural hub. Building infill 7 figure condo’s for the the tech con men doesn’t accomplish anything for a fairly dense city that has a rather poor mass transit system and enormous elite pretensions. They are content with people shitting in the street and stepping over the OD’s. ‘Twas not always thus.

  12. Darthbobber

    Apparently the black leaders theatrically dissatisfied with Biden were unaware that you should impose your demands BEFORE you hand over the nomination on a silver platter.

    1. Pat

      And have a better broker than Clyburn.

      I know so many people who wonder how could_________ (insert select Id pol group) vote for Trump. Frankly I am more gobsmacked by the black and senior support of Biden. Talk about asking to be punched in the nether regions…

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        More like rewarding the guy who has *already* punched you in the nether regions

  13. JN

    Mr Market
    It leaves one hoping the Fed is considering massive antitrust enforcement. Standard Oil was worth multiples once broken up.

    I thought the Taijitu quality of the picture spoke for itself.

    Thanks for posting it!

  14. Milton

    Guardian editorial that is contra to the established neo-lib dogma concerning the post-Covid (should it ever happen) need to implement austerity. Color me surprised that the entire article was supportive of S. Kelton’s reasoning as outlined in the Deficit Myth and instead directed jabs at the mainstream orthodox econ methods being espoused by status quo politicos.

    1. Detroit Dan

      Thanks. That is a refreshing editorial from a major mainstream newspaper.

      Yet the message from the chancellor, the government’s economic watchdog and thinktanks is that the current level of spending is unsustainable and needs to be brought down by raising tax revenues or reducing spending, or doing both. This is not an economic argument but a political one. The public is being made anxious about the “debt” so that this fear can be weaponised. By persuading voters that something must be done about the national finances, and sustaining that outrage, politicians can push for spending cuts. This is a repeat of the familiar austerity con that voters fell for a decade ago.

      1. Tom Bradford

        Jim Bolger, a right-wing ex-Prime Minister of New Zealand startled me in a radio news interview this morning by stating that high government debt levels needed to recover from the pandemic were not a problem because, as the Treasury essentially owed Government debt to itself, it could just write it off!

        Perhaps times they are a’changing.

  15. jr

    Re: Urban Archipelago

    Wow, a bold declaration of blue fascism. This guy is says it all in one piece, alienation of the presumed morally and probably genetically superior “non-urban” white working classes, a regulation of the “blue” power centers with the ideology of identify politics, and a clear intent to take over those power centers politically.

    “We can create a new identity politics, one that transcends class, race, sexual orientation, and religion, one that unites people living in cities with each other and with other urbanites in other cities.”

    It will transcend those categories by fragmenting society into those categories…and what about the cities that prey on other populations, like when LA steals water? Is that ok? Or are smaller cities and towns not enlightened enough?

    “To all those who live in cities–to all those depressed Kerry supporters out there–we say take heart.’

    Why? What have liberals done lately? Play blue good cop to the red bad cop? Stab you in the back instead of shoot you in the face? He lumps the goals of liberals and progressives together yet anyone with eyes to see can understand there are major differences, more than similarities. He argues that everyone in a city is working on the same sheet of music, essentially, we are all united in our urban-hood. Except the city is riven with racial, political, cultural, and religious conflicts, official violence, and domestic strife. The class structure in NYC ranges from people who live in rotting hovels to people in skyscraper penthouses, one of three they own. This guy lives in a dream world, an idealized city wear everyone wears togas and meets for philosophical discussion in shaded groves…

    “To red-state voters, to the rural voters, residents of small, dying towns, and soulless sprawling exburbs, we say this: Fuck off. Your issues are no longer our issues.”

    There is the othering we talked about the other day, the dehumanizing of the enemy by those who claim to represent the best of humanity, the most “liberal”.

    There are so many other idiocies in the piece it’s actually a little hard to read. Who are these people? Stranger is right, a stranger to reality…

    1. Milton

      I bet in 2004, if I had read this, I would have been pumping my fist-agreeing with the author. Sometimes looking back can be pretty embarrassing, like old clothing styles and haircuts.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        i remember reading it back then, from my desk in that trailerhouse in the woods, where i could glance out the window and watch goats bumping uglies.
        and given that history and circumstance of my life, i remember it being one of the first times when i realised that …aside from economics and various sex and drug policy issues, that i had far more in common with these backwards hillfolk than i ever did, or could have, with people like the writer of that bit.
        My fist pumping at that article was of indignation…damned fool doesn’t know where his toast comes from….as well as, at the time, an ill defined sense of Americanness, in re the brotherhood of man, etc.
        prior, i had been thinking of such hippy dippy brotherhood/sisterhood tropes in answer to the right wing crazies i remain embedded in.
        it was kind of shocking to realise that i’d prolly hafta start thinking about how to talk to “progressives” and “educated ” folk in the same way.
        of course, that endeavor didn’t really get rolling until after obama’s first year in office,lol, as i had my hands full with lobbying for healthcare reform(and getting a hip) and countering some of the more idiotic ideas that were running through the local and regional hive mind.
        any way..it’s a timely reminder.
        well done, Lambert.

        1. periol

          “damned fool doesn’t know where his toast comes from”

          Dunno if you remember Comrade Simba from LATOC, but I spent some time on his farm and he used to complain at least once a day “g-d people think their food comes from the Walmart” and that was in a rural area lol!

          You can really tell which rural places Angelenos don’t like because that’s where they truck their sewage. I think there should be a law that sewage has to stay home. Everyone has to deal with their own s**t!

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            I do remember him,lol.
            (falls into reverie for a time)

            as for what to do with several million humans’ droppings…I’m an evangelist for sewer gas. Build great big digesters, and extract the methane(“Natural Gas” is a marketing term*), run it through some charcoal filters, and turn it into streetlight or whatever.
            the “sludge” that’s left over is (if it all works properly) sterile and can be safely composted for use around all those palm trees and azaleas.
            (*it would be fine for agriculture, of course, but i guarantee the peeps would turn their nose up(!)….which is exactly why the then infant Natural Gas Industry had to come up with such a benign sounding term…because burning sewer gas to heat one’s home or cook with turned folks off…because they were still a lot more connected to the hinterlands in those days, and knew what an outhouse smelled like)

            1. jr

              I recall a tale from Harper’s magazine years ago about some NGO scam that traveled to some African nation to gift them with some devices that would turn their poop into electrical energy or some such. What the geniuses failed to note was that in the culture they were “helping”, unsurprisingly the people who handled sewage were the lowest of the low, the bottom caste. No one touched the devices and the project collapsed. No one had done their research…

              Oh yes, I meant “inferior” above, not “superior”

            2. ambrit

              Be careful about effluent. There is a big paper mill in Bogalusa, Louisiana. The place has a five acre settling pond on site for the residue left after treating the pine wood into paper. The place would pay the trucking fees for delivering dump truck loads of the sludge from that pond to your property within about a twenty or thirty mile radius from the plant. They needed to get rid of that residue because it contained the concentrated metallic salts from within the trees. This area is a low level uranium ore source. The pine trees collect and concentrate the uranium bearing salts. Processing the trees further concentrates the uranium. At the end of the process, you end up with a slurry that is deemed by the EPA to be too radioactive to landfill. So, give it away and spread it out. Most people who got it used it to fertilize lawns and pastures. The stuff, I have seen this, makes grass grow an intense green seldom seen in nature.
              The above is just one byproduct of our industrial civilization. It’s going to take the Earth centuries to recover from our wanton neglect, with or without our co-operation.
              In googling around the web in search of a useful link, (said googling now more of a craps shoot and has a very low co-efficient of success,) I found very little about low level uranium ore bodies. Odd, since I remember looking through one such paper a decade or more ago online. So, something generic about sludge and waste uses for fertilizer and such.
              See: https://whyfiles.org/063recycle/toxic.html

              1. Amfortas the hippie

                there’s lots of hidden stuff like that around, sadly.
                my biggest local issue is all those tons and tons of cow manure that the 4 feedlots in town generate…3 of them are contaminated with persistent herbicides, due to the ranchers spraying that stuff on their hay fields…takes 5+ years to compost it out to where the manure is not, itself, an herbicide.
                the other feedlot got all fancy and modern(sic) about 20 years ago…started feeding their cows stale tater chips and fritos and stale bread…brought in in huge trucks, and sealed into big white plastic tubes until needed.
                the resulting manure is greasy to the touch, and the couple of yards of it i brought home, 20 years ago, would let nothing at all grow in it, until 2-3 years ago.
                all this in service of efficiency and cost reduction, at the expense of the wider world.
                that said, if i had a dumping trailer, I’d likely take the merely herbicided manure, and spread it in rows in some of the pastures…it’s gotta go somewhere, and the offending dowpont poisons do eventually break down(my experiments indicate that the addition of dry molasses accelerates the breakdown)….and it’s free.
                i wouldn’t allow the tater chip manure at all.

                oh..and re: heavy metal contamination: carrots are known to pull such things out of the soil…but then you just have a bunch of radioactive/toxic carrots to deal with.

    2. hunkerdown

      Dan Savage was no less than editor-in-chief for the paper since 2001. In 2012 the upper class gay community seemed to make a pact with the Democrats: you need money and an enemy, we need power. Dan Savage was one of the first to prime the Democrat base for Putin = Bad conditioning during the Sochi Olympics. So yes, hacks gonna hack.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Dan Savage was one of the first to prime the Democrat base for Putin = Bad conditioning during the Sochi Olympics. So yes, hacks gonna hack.


    3. The Rev Kev

      Well, it looks like that it really happened. Only it changed names so that in 2016 that it became known as the Clinton Archipelago. Tiny pockets of Democratic support concentrated in cities in an Ocean of Republican support whom they had abandoned. And I suspect that those very same cities were acting as wealth-pumps as they monetized and sucked dry any value to be had in the fly-over bits of the country as well. But that was a bipartisan effort that-


  16. Pelham

    Re the urban archipelago: As Mark Blyth notes about the Hamptons, none of these are defensible positions. Or self sustaining, for that matter.

  17. jr

    “wow: JPMorgan, the biggest U.S. bank, just reported its highest quarterly revenue EVER, according to CEO Jamie Dimon’s comment in the press release”

    That’s why he knelt for BLM, his wallet dragged him down…

  18. Terence Dodge

    ” So The Wire was a documentary?”

    Well one of writers had spent time working for the local Newspaper ( Simon was a crime reporter for a time ), and I do not recollect reading about any major change in community dynamics, has anyone have a reference to changes in Police and criminal dynamics that would indicate “The Wire” was more fiction in relationships ( city/county institutions and communities depicted? ) that was depicted in the 5 seasons ( crime, port, education, government and media ).

    1. Basil Pesto

      I don’t have supporting evidence to hand but I have some recollections from reading about the show and hearing from Simon and the odd director’s commentary over the years. A lot of it was drawn from journalistic and career experience and anecdote, and many of the characters were composites of real-world Baltimore figures. Also, Simon’s writing partner (and maybe a co-producer?), Ed Burns, worked as a public school teacher after leaving the police force (and was a model for Prezbylewski in season 4).

      Simon also has a book called ‘The Corner’ which was a kind of precursor to The Wire, also about the west Baltimore drug trade, and which was adapted as a miniseries on HBO before The Wire. He also wrote the book ‘Homicide’ where he took a sabbatical from the Baltimore Sun to spend a year observing a homicide unit. This formed the basis for the show Homicide: Life on the Streets. He wasn’t the showrunner but he was a producer and occasional writer iirc. It’s a very different sort of show to The Wire not just because of the different staff but by dint of the exigencies of a network tv series compared to the burgeoning cable tv series market spearheaded by HBO that The Wire grew out of, but one can nevertheless observe some similarities.

      I don’t think it made any pretense to being a documentary (I know Lambert’s comment was flippant) and I’m dramatic license was doubtless taken, but I believe a guiding principal was that the show was undergirded by a strong degree of verisimilitude and authenticity (and I believe the feedback from Baltimoreans at the time, particularly those involved in ‘the game’, confirmed this). Same as Treme and The Deuce, which are also both excellent.

      The Wire’s about 15 years old now, mind you, and I’m not sure what’s changed since then. Alas, probably not much.

      1. occasional anonymous

        The street parts of The Wire hold up, but I think subsequent history have shown that even its much less glorified portrayal of the police is massively idealized.

  19. sam

    Re Twitter thread on DIY masks: The linked article says Filtrete HVAC filters showed the highest level of filtration but those are not well suited to mask use due to thickness (about 1”). Sheet type a/c filters such as for Aprilaire are easier to work with and can form a serviceable mask by folding once with a pipe cleaner inside the fold to fit the nose, sewing the open edges and securing elastic to the corners to hold it on your head. Look for MERV 13 rating and avoid products that contain fiberglass.

  20. IMOR

    re: O.C. school board reopen without masks in guidelines.
    Fresno Dan, Amfortas and others will already know, but Orange County sits between L.A.S.D. and San Diego’s, each of which aren’t going to reopen classrooms next month. Good ol’ right wing ‘turning blue soon’ since 1995 O.C. thereby dramatically devalues the broader age group and geographic potential curve-restraining benefits of the closures by its larger neighbors. But..but…local control of schools! (at least since the busing era)

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      from what i’ve read about this disease, OC denizens could turn blue in an unfortunate way.

      interestingly, the biggest source of immigrants to my far place in the texas hill country hasn’t been from the south, but from the west…namely OC.
      probably 80% if the newcomers of the last 10-15 years have been from there, and every one of them says they left to escape the “communism”.
      None of them are all that liked by the natives, who seem to find them brazen and prickly…but would never tell them so,lol.
      2 of them have seen fit to enter local politics(city council) where they set about stirring up a lot of caca for no apparent reason save for some nebulous ideal of “liberty”. They are the most vociferous of all the people around me in agitating against masks and such.
      so, thanks, california,lol.

      1. Daryl

        Ah yeah the liberty to harm others, seems to be the most popular one today.

        Ask not what you can do for your country, ask your country to prevent businesses from requiring masks, think someone said something like that.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        I wonder how they would react if you told them that they are Typhoid MAGA corona-spreaders.
        Or called them Typhoid MAGAtards.

  21. Riverboat Grambler

    I work in downtown Madison WI as the lone night cashier at a bodega. As of last night it’s my job to enforce the county-wide mask mandate, and it went about as I expected; most people complied, some people grumbled if I had to turn them away (even though we sell masks in the store), and a couple people got pretty nasty with me.

    One group of young dudes from out of town instantly jumped down my throat that “We didn’t know, we’re not from here!” There’s a big “masks required” sign on our front door that’s eye-level, the only sign on the door. They assured me that I am a loser for working in a bodega and also a racist (I am white and they were black).

    Another older guy who is a regular got pretty pissed when I told him he needed a mask, said some nasty things, went outside and came back in with one on less than a minute later and said “what do you think of that, boy?” I said that’s great, you have a mask, you are welcome in the store.

    No one pulled anything on me, so that’s nice.

    Today a regular came in without one and I gently reminded him about the mandate, he apologized and said he forgot it and went to leave but as he did so another customer came in and immediately called him an asshole for not wearing a mask. Had to defuse that, good times.

    Things have been pretty wild around here since June. We were robbed twice the week before the weekend the riots, during the riots the guy who robbed us was hanging out around the store and the cops never sent anyone even after the first night when they supposedly had reinforcements from all over the state. We were broken into after hours twice in that time, cops never sent anyone.

    The protests are still happening sporadically which is a good thing, but they got pretty ugly a few weeks ago when one of the protest leaders was arrested “for having a megaphone”. Later I found out he had a megaphone and a baseball bat and went into a couple different bars threatening the staff until they gave sent money to his Venmo/gave him free food. One of the places he did that is actually my favorite bar and I know the staff, and they told me the story.

    Anyway after this guy was arrested a protest group of about 50 came and blocked off the major intersection right in front of my store and things got pretty tense. They weren’t letting anyone through and there’s really no way to turn around once traffic is backed up. One of the protestors came in to buy cigarrettes and asked me if I would be out there with them if I wasn’t working. I said that I didn’t think blocking off the major intersection was the best thing to do and she said it’s a valid tactic. I said what are those people stuck in their cars supposed to do? She said they are supposed to get out of their cars and march with us. I said so you are forcibly conscripting people into your protest? She said it’s a tactic. I said okay and she left. Throughout the interaction I felt like I had to be real careful with what I said; there were 50-something pissed-off people outside and if that girl tells them the dude in the store is a racist, then what? Maybe they smash up the store, maybe put me in the hospital. They certainly put a couple people in the hospital that night, including a gay Dem senator from Milwaukee who tried to film them. They also tore down some statues on the capitol square, statues of people who were pretty much the opposite of Confederate soldiers. Here’s a link describing the basics of what happened: https://madison.com/wsj/news/local/crime-and-courts/protesters-tear-down-statues-punch-senator-set-small-fire-in-madison-after-arrest-of-black/article_8356b4c1-4dbf-52ff-9d5b-cadb98bf5356.html

    I don’t say all this as a denouncement of BLM. I support defunding the police and I’m glad the protests are still happening. But I’m not gonna be out there beating people up or blocking major intersections, at least not without giving people SOME way around, however inconvenient. What if someone’s trying to get to their chemo treatment? And no, threatening bar staff with a baseball bat is not activism, it’s extortion.

    I’ve rambled enough, consider this an overdue field report.

    1. Jason Boxman

      Stay safe out there! It shouldn’t be a citizen’s job to enforce government orders… that’s what government officials are supposedly for.

  22. Wukchumni

    Sequoia NP is going through an odd crisis in that with the inundation of the SoCalist movement primarily, I was told they’ve been getting oh so many ‘come rescue me’ queries from SPOT devices and the like, many of which are not worthy but you have to treat them all initially the same, not knowing what the malady is, combined with last year’s opening up the main area of the NP-the Giant Forest, to cell service. This has resulted in a lot of rookies in the forest for the trees needing assistance not needed.

    It was related it is akin to a lack of beds situation in ICU, so many nuisances are clogging up the works of their excellent SAR team spread too thin, that the real emergencies suffer.

  23. Amfortas the hippie

    a few items from Texas…where it’s currently 107 on my front porch in the shade, and given how fast the cowboy pool evaporates from my skin, about 10% humidity.
    (I’m a barometer, too…High Pressure remains parked overhead, meaning the only pain i have is of my own doing)

    Texdem looks north, sees that even more red Oklahoma managed to circumvent their own insane righty clownhouse:

    Camp Abbott in Austin is going about as well as you’d expect(caution, it’s a tear jerker if you care about homeless folks):

    the whole “lets open everything and go around licking doorknobs” project is having it’s predicted effect:

    and Ross Ramsey indicates that he’s seen evidence that Abbott has stones, after all, and is no longer going to let the Radio Preacher(Lite Gov) and his flying monkeys push him around:https://www.texastribune.org/2020/07/13/greg-abbott-critics-texas-coronavirus/

    as usual, the comments below Texas Tribune articles usually contain a sort of snapshot into the hive mind of that Flying Monkey Cohort, but i warn against reading too much into them, however tittilating they may be at a safe remove…it’s the same 5-10 nutters all the time, and actually only reflects a rather small proportion of Texans…they’re just really loud and insistent, and too good to pass up for clickbait stories, given their penchant for over the top theatrics and hysterical leaping about.
    Remember that Texas has long been a kind of proving ground for insane Right Wing policies that we then export to the rest of you(you’re welcome)…but we’re in an off year in our every two year Legislature, so it’s unclear if there are any policies coming out of that Big Pink Granite Brothel in Austin at the moment.
    The Humanist in my head kicks the Little Vulcan in my head for thinking about God’s Little Skimmer on the Gene Pool when i observe some of my fellow Texans, here lately.

    Meanwhile, back on the Farm…we’ve put about 5 gallons of homegrown pasta sauce in mason jars in the last week.
    and have learned how to sneak eggplants into common fare without anyone noticing(it’s the Year of the Eggplant, apparently)
    and I noticed about 50 Wheelbugs on the Cuke vines that are trellised in the squirrel planted pecan tree…usually a good indicator that all is well, and that my extraordinary measures in the rearguard actions re: the grasshoppers, haven’t been too extreme after all. They appear to be after the leaf miners….but i really need new glasses.

    1. Jason Boxman

      You see, lefties, there are times when saying “no” to war means saying “yes” to oppression. Don’t believe me? Go ask a Czech or a European Jew about the British and French saying “no” to war with Germany in 1938. War may be bad for children and other living things, but there are times when peace is worse for children and other living things, and this is one of those times. Saying no to war in Iraq means saying yes to the continued oppression of the Iraqi people. It amazes me when I hear lefties argue that we should assassinate Saddam in order to avoid war. If Saddam is assassinated, he will be replaced by another Baathist dictator–and what then for the people of Iraq? More “peace”–i.e., more oppression, more executions, more gassings, more terror, more fear.

      I guess that speaks for itself; it’s not entirely coherent. So liberal interventionism was a thing in 2002 as well. No lessons learned after that, as Libya and Syria demonstrate, among others. Or see Somalia under Clinton.

      1. hunkerdown

        That and Boeing clearly explains Mr. Savage’s promotion to publisher and eventually into Obama World.

  24. PeasantParty

    The people I am around on a daily basis seem to think this virus will pretty much disappear after the election. I think it will be worse in the winter months. I try my best to find legit reports of other countries and their fight against the pandemic. It appears that everyone is having a tough time in curbing the spread.

  25. Goyo Marquez

    re mail in ballots
    Here in El Centro California the signature problems really meant you signed your normal signature but the voter registration and the absentee ballot required a signature with your full name. So I might sign Goyo Marquez ordinarily but to register to vote I had to sign Gregorio Regino Marquez. Then my absentee ballot comes, it instructs me to sign my full name as registered but I sign my normal signature, Goyo Marquez, my ballot is rejected, here, I understand it was a machine rejecting them. So the more hurdles to register the more opportunities to reject ballots. The Bernie campaign was advised of at least 200 ballots rejected for signature reasons in our little county.

  26. anon in so cal


    4,244 new cases and 73 deaths in the last 24 hours, in Los Angeles County, alone.

    Went to visit an elderly relative today (outdoors, 10 feet separation, both masked). Passed several people in my neighborhood with no masks. There was a traffic jam on one freeway, due to people heading to a testing center. My veterinarians’ offices may have had an outbreak. I called yesterday to check on a shipment of some meds for our remaining dog. There was a strange recording announcing the place was closed “for a deep cleaning” and that all ER services, appointments, etc. were cancelled until the 15th. This sounded drastic as this is a 24-hour office and hospital. Since pet owners are not allowed inside the facility, and animals apparently do not act as fomites (although this is not definitive), it must have involved staff. There is no mention of the place in the list of clusters for Los Angeles county so maybe they were just being proactive.


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