2:00PM Water Cooler 7/30/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. Back to our top five problem states: Florida, California, Texas, Georgia, and Arizona, with New York for comparison:

This chart includes new cases and positivity. Positivity is concerning. In terms of undercounting as measured by positivity (higher is bad), the order from worst to best would be AZ, FL, GA, TX, CA, at 7.46%, is still too high by WHO standards (they want 5%). So all the states are making progress in testing, especially Arizona (20.2%) but all have a way to go.


“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. July 17: Georgia, Ohio, ME-2 move from Leans Republican to Toss-up. Continued yikes. On July 7, the tossup were 86. Only July 17, they were 56. Now they are 91. This puts Biden at 278, i.e. over 270. July 28: Still no changes.

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!


Biden (D)(1): The Biden ground operation, reported by alert reader km. Hoisted from comments:

I recently drove from North Dakota to central Michigan and back, passing through Minneapolis, Chicago and Grand Rapids, Michigan (which is the second largest city in that state), as well as rural areas, suburbs, and smaller towns.

I saw quite a few Bernie bumper stickers.

I saw a metric crap-ton of Trump hats, shirts, flags, stickers, yard signs, tricks, trinkets, tchotchkes, and whatnot of every description. They probably sell Trump ladies’ underwear, if I knew where to look.

Apart from those, I also saw a lot of performatively “Guns God and Freedumb” patriotic displays that didn’t directly reference Trump, but left no mistake as to the owner’s sentiments. I also saw frequent references to supporting the Q cult. Not many Qultists are planning to vote for Biden, just saying.

I saw a total of one (1) Biden yard sign (in rural Indiana, albeit a heavily unionized part of Indiana). I did not see any Biden bumper stickers, etc.. I did see quite a few BLM and related yard signs, including in conservative western Michigan.

NOW: I am willing to believe that the polls are off, even if they are probably not as far off as some people claim. There probably are some “shy Trump voters” out there, but I’ll need to see some evidence before I believe that there are enough such people to give Trump the election.

That’s not why I’m writing. While nobody gets an extra vote just because they own a MAGA hat, if Trump loses, people who identify so strongly with Trump, people who wear Trump outfits head to toe, drive Trumpmobiles, festoon their yards with Trump flags and signs, get Trump tattoos and rename their kids “Don Jr.” “Ivanka” and “Barron” are not likely to say “Oh well, I guess we lost fair and square, then. Better luck in 2024!”

For that matter, many of the people who think that Trump has a direct line to Jesus are armed to the teeth.

In retrospect, it probably wasn’t the best idea to simultaneously deindustrialize the heartland and flood it with weapons.

Trump (R)(1):

I think anybody who looks seriously at our electoral system should have no confidence in it whatever, and that’s before COVID. Still, the date of the election was set in law in 1845. Come on, man.

Trump (R)(2): “Why Trump Might Quit” [Politico]. “The Trump-drops-out scenario hinges on the assumption that Trump is less concerned with wielding the levers of government than he is preserving his role as disrupter at large in American politics over the next decade. The latter might be much easier to maintain if he avoids being tattooed as loser in November—especially if the margin is larger than could be attributed, even by his most conspiracy-minded supporters, to media bias or vote-counting manipulation by Democrats. The scenario hinges also on an assumption that Trump’s political project is more weakened internally—in the psychological sense—than it is even in the external sense, as measured by polls and campaign coverage.” • Trump isn’t getting “earned media” these days, unlike 2016. Quite the reverse.

* * *

About time:

Alert reader UserFriendly tells me this is very depressing. On the Lincoln Project:

Bitecofer is quite the self-promoter.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Near and Present Anarchy” [The Baffler]. • A helpful taxonomy:

In State Failure and State Weakness in a Time of Terror, Harvard’s Robert Rotberg writes that while every country is different, the signposts tend to be the same. It is worth attending to the characteristics he describes. They should sound familiar:

  • In a weak state, basic services such as education and health are privatized; public facilities decline. Infrastructure, including schools and hospitals, shows signs of neglect, particularly outside of major cities. Journalists and civil society activists are harassed. Tensions among ethnic, religious, or linguistic groups increase, but widespread violence does not erupt—yet.
  • In a failing state, a single leader gains control of the legislature, law enforcement, and the judiciary. The leader and his cronies are enriched while ordinary citizens are left without basic services.
  • In a failed state, living standards deteriorate rapidly. Citizens feel they exist only to satisfy the ruler’s greed and lust for power. The potential for violence increases as the state’s legitimacy crumbles.
  • Finally, in a collapsed state, warlords run the country. The market rules to the exclusion of any other concerns, while the social compact has been completely eroded. “The Id is unleashed.”

Intriguing, but where do the billionaires fit in?

“When conservatives become revolutionaries” [Damon Linker, The Week]. “Just how dark and desperate is the right becoming? So much so that it is now increasingly common to find conservative writers flirting openly with ideas that clearly point in the direction of outright political radicalism — including talk of civil war, permanently purging liberals from political office and positions of cultural influence, the need for revolutionary action, and hopes for a ‘refounding‘ of America using ‘regime-level power.’ This is how political actors talk when they have lost faith in the legitimacy of the political opposition and begin dreaming of overthrowing the system as a whole in favor of one that will be more inclined to place people like themselves in (potentially permanent) positions of power.” • “People like themselves….”

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.

GDP: “Advance Estimate 2Q2020 GDP Drops Deeper In Contraction” [Econintersect]. “The advance estimate for second-quarter 2020 Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is a negative 32.9%.” Holy [family blog]. More: “This growth is a significant decline from the previous quarter’s decline of 5.0 % if one looks at quarter-over-quarter headline growth. The year-over-year rate of growth also significantly declined and now is deep in contraction. The coronavirus is the reason for the decline – and pushed GDP deeper into contraction. I am not a fan of quarter-over-quarter exaggerated method of measuring GDP – but my year-over-year preferred method showed a significant decline from last quarter.” • A pretty deep V, if indeed a V it is.

Employment Situation: “25 July 2020 Initial Unemployment Claims Increase To 1,434,000 This Week” [Econintersect]. “The pandemic has so far caused a 54,416,000 job loss. Likely more half of this number are now employed or have dropped out of the workforce as the continuing claims number is 17,018,000]. Of the 1,434,000 jobs lost this week, the BLS says 829,697 were due to the coronavirus (versus 936,073 last week)…. The four-week rolling average of initial claims is 540 % higher than one year ago (versus the 531 % higher last week).”

Rail: “Rail Week Ending 25 July 2020 – Mixed Data But Still Deep In Contraction” [Econintersect]. “Intermodal and carloads are under Great Recession values. Container exports from China are now recovering, container exports from the U.S. declined, and remains deep in contraction.”

* * *

Manufacturing: “COVID production rates ‘firm’ up” [Leeham News and Analysis]. “The 737 is muddled. Boeing will slow the ramp to 31/mo in 2022. The 450-470 stored 737s (the number varies depending on who is talking) must be delivered on top of the initial low-rate production. Based on information, the 737 is currently being produced at a rate of about 7/mo. Boeing expects to increase the production rate gradually in 2021. Boeing said it hopes to deliver the inventory within about a year. This equates to about 39/mo with 470 stored aircraft. This seems optimistic. Some of the storied aircraft are now white tails following canceled orders and the collapse of some airlines. Demand also doesn’t seem to support this delivery rate. Nor does it seem to support the delivery rate for the A320. Airbus has 145 airplanes in inventory now, produced for customers that can’t accept them.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 61 Greed (previous close: 64 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 68 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 30 at 11:41am. Solid greed.

The Biosphere

Public service announcement from Swamp Yankee on the Chinese seeds, hoisted from comments yesterday. Besides not planting them:

If you don’t want them to germinate and grow, do not put them in the trash or flush them down the toilet. Both systems have some “volunteer” seedling presentation. When I lived in New Orleans, the absolute biggest and best tomatoes I ever saw were growing in a spoil bank in the New Orleans Parish Waste Water Treatment plant which was at the parish line next to Jefferson Parish. These monster plants were growing out of a pile of sludge cleaned out of one of the settling ponds.

Mysterious seed packets from China isn’t a subplot I would have expected. Frankly, I think 2020’s showrunners have lost their minds.

Health Care

“Some scientists are taking a DIY coronavirus vaccine, and nobody knows if it’s legal or if it works” [Technology Review]. “[I]n what appears to be the first “citizen science” vaccine initiative, [Preston Estep] and at least 20 other researchers, technologists, or science enthusiasts, many connected to Harvard University and MIT, have volunteered as lab rats for a do-it-yourself inoculation against the coronavirus. They say it’s their only chance to become immune without waiting a year or more for a vaccine to be formally approved.” It’s a nasal vaccine, so at least the delivery mechanism is smart. More: “A vaccine delivered into the nose could create what’s called mucosal immunity, or immune cells present in the tissues of the airway. Such local immunity may be an important defense against SARS-CoV-2.” That makes sense: A recent study showed how the attack of the virus grows progressively weaker, from initial seeding in nasal tissues (very strong) down to the lungs (weaker). Of course, if the attack on the lungs succeeds, that’s very bad! More: “But unlike antibodies that appear in the blood, where they are easily detected, signs of mucosal immunity might require a biopsy to identify… So far, the group can’t say if their vaccine works or not. They haven’t published results showing that the vaccine leads to antibodies against the virus, which is a basic requirement for being taken seriously in the vaccine race. Church says some of those studies are now underway in his Harvard laboratory, and Estep is hoping mainstream immunologists will assist the group.” • Here is the RadVac Group’s white paper. I’m torn between liking the DIY ethos + skepticism of Big Pharma and Big Science vs. the possibilty that these people are arrogant [family blog]s high on their own supply, kinda like Elon Musk proposing tiny submarines to rescue the Thai cave boys.

“States are running out of doctors and nurses as COVID-19 surges” [Ars Technica]. “Researchers estimate that more than 100 percent of intensive care doctors [in Arizona and Texas] will be needed to care for COVID-19 patients alone in August. Eleven other states are facing staffing strain, the researchers also reported. That means more than 50 percent of the states’ intensive care doctors may be required to support COVID-19 patients in the coming months. ‘The news media [have] largely focused on hospitalizations and the danger of depleting the ICU bed supply, but staffing these beds may be an even greater problem,’ the researchers write in the report. ‘New beds can be set up in other hospital units, or even outside the hospital setting, but it takes time to find highly specialized ICU professionals.’ The report also noted that the pandemic will also stress current staff, who will have to work more and harder shifts to care for the influx in patients. That in turn could lead to more burnout and more infections among health care workers.”

“Six U.S. states see record COVID-19 deaths, Latinos hit hard in California” [Reuters]. • Deaths lag, as NC readers know.

“Confused Republican Louie Gohmert Wonders If Wearing a Mask Led to Positive COVID Test” [Ryan Bort, Rolling Stone].

“It is interesting,” Gohmert said, “and I don’t know about everybody, but when I have a mask on I’m moving it to make it comfortable, and I can’t help but wonder if that put some germs in the mask. Keep your hands off your mask? Anyway, who knows?”

Blaming his mask for his positive COVID test result probably doesn’t even crack the top five dumbest things he’s said since he joined Congress in 2005.

What’s really unfortunate about this piece has been that both the writer and the editor are too busy watching themselves in the mirror while they dunk on Gohmert to add an editorial note — just as a simple public health measure for the sake of dull normal readers — that fiddling with your mask is indeed bad. For example, you should remove your mask by the earpieces because if the mask is doing its job it might have trapped some SARS-COV-2 on the front (which is what Gohmert, in his crackpot way, is struggling to articulate). So who are the stupids, here? Anybody remember this series from back in the 90s?

Allard and Marshall should write a new book called “The Stupids Do Covid.” And it won’t feature only Republicans. It really would not have been hard to add that little editorial note.

Police State Watch

Cam tactics:

Not clear to me why the police are in essence publishing a How-To guide for taking out cams — and any professional would look to Hong Kong anyhow — or why the young lady wasn’t in bloc. There she is, right on camera!

“ICE Agents Complain About Nazi Comparisons, Say They’re Only Enforcing the Laws” [Newsweek]. • Too easy.


“Hundreds of Toxic Superfund Sites at Risk of Flooding, Study Finds” (video) [The Weather Channel (ambrit)]. “A new study by the Union of Concerned Scientists warns that hundreds of toxic Superfund sites could flood in the next two decades and put the health of millions at risk.”


“Joe Rogan says grinding games is “a waste of time” for most people” [Dexterto]. “Joe Rogan, the immensely popular comedian and podcast host, described video games as a ‘waste of time’ for most people, during his episode with author, fitness guru and businessman Joe De Sena…. ‘Video games are a real problem,’ Rogan said. ‘They’re a real problem. You know why? Because they’re f**king fun. You do them, and they’re real exciting, but you don’t get anywhere.’ Rogan contrasted video games with Jujitsu, and stated that someone who put significant effort into running a martial arts school would likely be experiencing success after 3 years of grinding. In episode 1514 of JRE, He argued that someone who grinds video games for the same amount of time is still unlikely to be earning money from that particular pursuit.” • “Grinds”?

“Nintendo, Disney, and Cultural Determinism” [Matthew Ball]. “‘whale’ monetization is the core driver of mobile games today. Only 4% of Candy Crush players, for example, spend on the game. And 10% of this 4% (or 0.4% of users) generate 50% of revenue. As a result, even minor adjustments in whale optimization can devastate economics. According to WSJ, CyberAgent, the developer of the Nintendo-based mobile title Dragalia Lost, “slashed its fiscal-year earnings forecast for the first time in 17 years in January due in part to the game’s disappointing performance. While player numbers for the game have grown due to an aggressive advertising campaign, revenue from each player has fallen short of projections.” An anonymous official at CyberAgent told the Journal, “Nintendo is not interested in making a large amount of revenue from a single smartphone game… If we managed the game alone, we would have made a lot more.” Notably, Disney should share Nintendo’s brand concerns in mobile gaming. But this has not stopped the company from releasing basic games that generate billions from whale monetization. Its brand, albeit not one based in games, does not seem to have suffered. Nor has the Pokémon franchise in the years since the ultra-lucrative (and whale-supporting) Pokémon Go.” • A power curve with a long tail. Familiar!

“Watch Your Medicine: Video Game Therapy for Children With ADHD” [JAMA]. “The first video game therapy to treat children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) was given a nod. Prescription-only EndeavorRx is indicated for children aged 8 to 12 years who have an attention issue.” • This seems little… circular.

Groves of Academe

“A three-year bachelor’s degree” [American Enterprise Institute]. “[I]f there is a benefit for higher education that can come from COVID-19, then it might just be some soul-searching and even repentance about what we have been buying with the second-highest expenditure per student in the world. College students, regardless of their majors or professional programs, need a rigorous liberal arts core curriculum. That curriculum must efficiently develop college-level skills and knowledge in the arts and sciences disciplines that are necessary for success in a dynamic and demanding workplace and for a lifetime of informed citizenship. Individual and national success will hinge on mathematical, scientific, economic, and historical literacy; excellent writing skills; and the ability to navigate foreign languages. Students also need a faster track for their undergraduate education that gets them into the workforce quickly and saddles them with less debt. That is why everyone, especially conservatives, should support reestablishing a solid core curriculum, taking an ax to the vast menu of distribution requirements and electives, and shortening the undergraduate degree from 120 credit hours to 90 credit hours—allowing determined students to graduate in three, rather than four, years. A good core curriculum should be built around requirements, not a cafeteria line of choices. It needs to include formal expository writing, literature, a college-level mathematics course, a natural science course, an economics course, a survey in US history or government, and three semesters of a foreign language.” • So long as the economics isn’t mainstream. We can talk about the canon later….

Class Warfare

“Two months since the riots, and still no ‘National Conversation'” [Michael Tracey, Medium]. “Yes, civil unrest has of course occurred before. But the riots of 2020 exhibited features which belie any easy historical parallel. For one thing, consider their enormous geographic scope. While the most extreme riots in cities like New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and particularly Minneapolis did receive considerable attention — however fleeting, incomplete, and unnecessarily inflected with knee-jerk partisanship — there were also smaller-scale riots in surprisingly far-flung places that you hardly would’ve known about unless you lived in the area, happened to visit, or intentionally sought out what remains of the bare-bones local media coverage. To take just a small sampling: Atlantic City, NJ, Fort Wayne, IN, Green Bay, WI, and Olympia, WA all underwent significant riots, at least per the normal expectations of life in these relatively low-key cities. Did you hear anything about them? Because I hadn’t, and I’m abnormally attuned to daily media coverage. Only because I personally visited did I learn of the damage…. Complicating matters is that the riots occurred in tandem with a protest movement now believed to be the largest ever in U.S. history — one which saw demonstrations, vigils, and general rancor extend even into the most unassuming expanses of suburban and rural America…. But it’s also clear that the severe ramifications of these riots have been widely ignored — if not consciously obfuscated — by a media class that was near-unanimous in its approval of the accompanying protest movement. That they could have so quickly ‘moved on,’ particularly from the wreckage of Minneapolis/St. Paul — where residents commonly told me that their lives are still in ‘agony’ — is galling.” • I know Tracey is a “contrarian” — that is a bad thing to be, now — but this article is well worth a read, and the cumulative effect of the photographs is impressive (like Chris Arnade). My intuition for some time has been that the riots and the protests are simultaneous only, and that the protests were also two factions operating in parallel: the anarchists and (for want of a better word) the reformers. I wish I knew the demographics of the “Wall of Moms.” I reacted badly to the leafblowers, remarkable though the spectacle was, because they struck me as a suburban marker. But perhaps my knew was jerking. Again, well worth a read.

News of the Wired

“Let’s Talk About Circus Peanut Jello Salad, One of the Weirdest Retro Recipes Out There” [Southern Living (DJG)]. “Of all the strawberry pretzel, tropical stained glass, Christmas cranberry, and tomato aspic gelatin salads we Southerners are used to having crash every family holiday celebration, there is one retro congealed salad that eludes even the most experienced of Jell-O mold eaters. For most, it might appear as only a distant memory, a flash of bright orange in a casserole dish, topped with a confusing peanut-shaped candy, no less. After all this time, who else is still hopelessly befuddled by Circus Peanut Jello Salad? This classic congealed salad recipe is made with the peanut-shaped, fluorescent orange marshmallow candies known as Circus Peanuts, which were made popular in the 19th century as penny candy. The reason why this particular jello salad confuses us more than any other mold—okay, maybe except jellied chicken salad—comes down to one thing: Circus Peanuts make absolutely no sense at all. Do they taste like peanuts? Absolutely not. Why are they banana-flavored? No clue. Is the obscenely neon orange color necessary? Heck no. But do we still succumb to the sentiment of this retro congealed salad made with canned pineapple and Cool Whip? Of course, you Negative Nancy.” • No, let’s not. I have always hated what I now understand are called “Circus Peaunts,” for the reasons given. Also, the article insists on repeating the phrase “congealed salad.” I wish they wouldn’t have.

They’re trying to send us a message:

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (AM):

AM writes: “From July 1 – this white bloom stalk came out overnight. Don’t know what it is, but the garden always has new flowers popping out as others, like the roses, fade away.” AM’s mother-in-law thinks it’s a yucca. I’m not so sure.

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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. Toshiro_Mifune

    The Biden ground operation

    That matches what I’m seeing and have mentioned previously here in suburban NJ. Probably less Trump than the Dakotas or Michigan but really a complete lack of pro-Biden signage/stickers/banners/etc.
    Obvs its still early, but I have no problem seeing pro-Trump signage when I go running. Can’t say the same for Biden

    1. Keith

      I live in what could be called Trump country (SE WA state), but nearly all of the signage appears geared toward local elections and issues, not the national one, yet. There are some Bernie and Trump stuff still floating around, but nothing like I would have expected.

    2. Glen

      We have traveled the PNW to/from Seattle/Portland to see our daughter. We are tired of the Interstate and take nothing but back roads, mostly logging, farm, and dairy country. We see plenty of Trump signs, we have not seen a Biden sign.

      These are very Blue states which I’m sure will end up in the Biden side, but there sure don’t seem to be any signs for him.

      Personally, I would rather eat the bowl of $hit than vote for Biden.

      1. JBird4049

        I don’t know much about the population of those two states, but I would guess that like California, there are densely populated urban areas along the coast and a much lighter population density in a greater area of land that surrounds each Blue metropolitan area. Something like ⅔ of Californians living in ⅓ the area might be labeled Blue.

        But, Bernie was/is big here and the blues and reds are intermingled everywhere with the granola people up in the boonies among the “conservative” people. Many of the “liberals” here have a thin coating of liberalism over their neoliberal bodies and actual conservatives tend to hide their beliefs.

        Add the class divide in California is greater than it ever has been. Not only am I not surprised by the lack of Biden signs, I am not sure how people will react when it goes kaboom. As it is, the Feds are going wild on the city dwellers and leaving the countryside alone for now. That maybe might make each group of Californians sympathetic to each other or at least it would be the enemy of my enemies is my friend.

      2. Dirk77

        In my current quasi-urban part of Oregon, what was almost all Bernie signs has turned into BLM signs. I will ask my neighbors if opportunities arise.

    3. Polar Donkey

      Sunday I had to drive east to west through central Tennessee. Interstate 40 had an accident. Serious Trump country. Those people will crawl across glass to vote for Trump. I don’t know why a POS like him elicits such rabid support. Guy has never ridden in a pick up truck in his life, and wouldn’t be caught dead in any of these small rural towns. One weird thing along the trip happened in Linden Tennessee. 1 stop light town. Courthouse/city hall in middle of town. As we drive into town, see all these pickups with Trump flags. When we get to city hall, there is a BLM protests. Pretty good amount of protesters. Needless to say this was a surprise. As we drive out of town, see more Trump flag pickups driving to protest. It was like the Trump signal was activated. I never heard in news of any riots in Linden Tennessee, but between the protesters and trumpers, I don’t think anyone is voting for Biden. Trumpers are going down with the ship and BLM protesters have no love for Biden, nor do I.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Perhaps they want to be cared about and he fakes real well the appearance of caring about them.

        Clinton called them all a basket of deplorables. Trump gives them great big rallies.

          1. ambrit

            I didn’t have any spare money to give to Sanders, but I believed in him. I feel betrayed and I want my faith back.
            This is what I believe the long term strategy of whomever pushed Sanders on the American public aimed at, the fostering of a very deep cynicism and despair. True movements are based upon and feed off of passion and belief. The Sanders campaign destroyed both.
            Bernie- the ultimate scorched earth campaign.

            1. JBird4049

              There are some problems with Bernie, but a lot of powerful people went after him and his movement.

          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            That is true. That is part of why the Catfood Democratic Party conspired so fast and furious to take him off the field before more Deplorables got to know how good a big Sanders rally could be.

      2. The Rev Kev

        ‘Those people will crawl across glass to vote for Trump. I don’t know why’

        Maybe because while Trump was saying back in 2016 that I will get you this and that but was lying about it (as do all politicians), the Democrats weren’t even giving these voters the courtesy of even lying to them and offered nothing. I forget what Trump was offering on healthcare back then but one of the few times Hillary got fired up was when in answer to a question in public, she was saying you will never get anything in the way of healthcare for all. She couldn’t be even bothered lying to people while trashing their hopes.

        1. carl

          And don’t forget the coal miners and auto workers she baldly told to go get retrained, to code or something.

      3. Polar Donkey

        I didn’t mention one thing I noticed about the hardcore rural trumpers. They seem to have pretty nice houses and land. Most had tall flag poles in front of house with Trump and American flags. The trumpers coming to counter protest had big, fully loaded 4×4’s. Like $50,000 to $60,000 trucks. They seem to be on upper end of the income ladders in these areas. These people may be benefiting the most from farm subsidies or some other Trump policy.

        1. FluffytheObeseCat

          Yes, that’s exactly who they are. “Local notables” as Yves terms it. It’s rural landowners and related chest-thumping braggarts who are all hot for Trump, not the vast majority of the people. Of course they’re the ones who vote the most, and who count the votes as well.

          There was a non-regular NC commenter a few days ago – an exterminator from the Gulf Coast south – who described them to a tee in reference to the Black-White wealth divide. I’d love to hear what he has to say about which types of people pay him on time, and in full. Is the ones with personal watercraft and late-model 4 door Dodge Rams, or not?

          The greater Reno area signage is like SE WA state. Lots of local candidates’ signs in yards and along fences of private residences. Remarkably little for either presidential candidate. I’ve voted since 1980, and I’ve never seen less signage for the presidential campaign this late in the season. And even fewer bumper stickers. The lack of enthusiasm is palpable. Most people agree with Ms. Turner; their only variance is in regards to which corrupt old man constitutes the larger bowl of……..

          1. tegnost

            I was in E Washington last weekend and the notable was lots of governor candidates, (R) ones, blaming Insley for homelessness which is ridiculous. Trump support is solid amongst his base though, and there was plenty of support for him signage wise. different take on masks…”…I don’t like it, you don’t like it, but it’s the law…” on the radio.

      4. jonboinAR

        Perhaps he would never share a meaningful second with any of those folk if he were trapped in a cave with them for 3 days. Maybe that’s obvious to anyone who has paid the slightest attention to him, even his supporters. Still, in all his talk, bluster, tweets, etc., he has been careful, if that’s what it is, to never disparage them. Many of his rivals can’t say that. Also, in MAGA and others of his trademark memes, racist as many of them are, he plays directly to their desire to be respected again, for this to be their country as it used to be. He’s their man.

    4. Pat

      Yes I have a hard time understanding anyone voting for Trump. I understood it in 2016, but now not so much. Although I guess I could to attribute it to throwing TPP on the cr*p heap.

      But can anyone really WANT Joe Biden to be President? Really?! Even those most deluded souls nostalgic for Obama are probably “but I wish it were Michelle.” It isn’t just Bernie supporters who recognize that Joe is also a “bowl of shit” even if they believe it isn’t as full as the Trump Bowl. Not being Trump is Biden’s largest and nearly only asset. That isn’t something that gets people to decorate themselves and their property with his name.

      Unlike 2016, I don’t think this metric tells us much. For me the only thing shocking would be that it isn’t close and all about the electoral college.

      Both candidates offer so little…

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        The Biden has to select a VP and let’s face it everybody knows that will be the actual president. We’ll see whether, like with Hilary, there is a fund of (the-opposite-of-love) for the woman he selects. As Obama was Bush’s third and fourth terms, The Biden will be Obama’s third term. It’s always fun to ask an Obama-bot what the best thing he accomplished in 8 years was, actual policies and programs please. Normally I hear about gender bathrooms, sometimes about Cuba relations, various vague mentions of gravitas and civility. Then I am told I am just an evil Trump supporter. Any critique of Team Blue (which just overwhelmingly torpedoed an actual health care system for the country in the midst of a pandemic) is strictly verboten. Two out of three people say they are afraid to discuss their political leanings, wondering how they will act in the privacy of the voting booth. My guess right now is we get four years of Blue-flavored billionaire war and financial crimes on both foreign and domestic victims as The Empire of Laughter and Forgetting slips beneath the waves but the election is alot closer then people seem to think.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Kamala Harris would make the most sense as Biden’s VP. Picking her and her accepting could be spun as them two agreeing to Bury The Hatchet. a True Reconciliation. the Beloved Ticket ( with apologies to MLK’s “beloved society”.)

          Also, she is an upper class warrior, same as Obama. The way she immunized and impunified Mnuchin sends a signal to how an Acting President Harris would immunize and impunify the FIRE perpetrators after the next money-concentrating crash. She would be the Fembama.

          1. Nedd

            I think a more approriate name for her would be

            “The Black Narcissist”

            with apologies to Michael Powell.

          2. John Anthony La Pietra

            If Harris gets the nod, does that revive interest in this?

            (For awareness of which I have nc to thank.)

      2. John k

        Former bushies seem to think Biden offers war; they’ve given up hope that trump will invade somebody. Anybody! There’s so many deserving targets…
        Susan rice on deck?

        1. jo6pac

          If susan rice doesn’t make it to VP she can always take fat boys job at S of D. That way everything would stay on course of stupid;-)

        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          During Trump’s first year, there was quite a bit of bemoaning Trump’s “inability” to fill positions. Eventually this turned into “no one respectable would take it.” I just assumed the Bushies are on the outs and Trump never called them. Like Mathis and Bolton, they would all jump if Trump gave an inkling he was going to pat them on the head. They see Trump as an aberration and see the return of a proper patrician in 2024 after Biden bumbles around. Obama had charisma and lost 1000 seats to the Teabaggers with his last political triumph being succeeded by Trump.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            But then that’s what we want, isn’t it? Charisma and civility during the final looting of the people, can’t have any rude Tweets riling people up. Oh and plenty of kente cloth. Maybe Nancy can propose The Kente Cloth Availability Act, give people free kente cloth they can construct their homeless shelters from. They’ll be really woke homeless shelters, that’s the important thing, dermal tones are the nation’s top problem by far and it will be so good to see them finally taking meaningful action.

      3. Keith

        If one is concerned about wars, I think one may lead toward Trump. If he keeps his promise on Afghanistan, I will happily give him my vote (that assumes no adverturing by him). Another factor that may help him is divided govt. Does anyone really want either party in complete control of the federal govt?

        Then there is the entertainment value, like masses of people to emit a primal scream when he gets inaugreated. Plus another bonus, another bite at the impeachment apple, maybe this time with a Dem senate. I would love to see it all play out.

        1. km

          Trump has had three and a half years, and he has not ended any of the stupid wars.

          He has escalated several of them.

          1. Massinissa

            I agree with you. I hate how some people are effectively trying to argue that ‘not starting WW3’ = Success. Such a low bar.

            1. ambrit

              I dunno. Starting WW-3 = The End of the World As We Know It.
              Anyone who publicly proclaims atomic war as “winnable” must be kept as far from the levers of power as possible.
              Some may claim that Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 was atomic war. Fair enough, but we only had two bombs ready to go at that time. Now, how many warheads are there, world wide?

            1. km

              We’ve gotten our hopes up several times already, only to be disappointed.

              If Trump really wanted to leave Syria/Afghanistan/Yemen/etc. he has had ample opportunity to do so.

              In the case of Yemen, Congress twice (!) passed resolutions that would have given him a face-saving out. Trump has vetoed three laws so far as president. Two of those vetoes were of resolutions for disengagement from Yemen.

              1. Keith

                Considering it is not American boots on the ground (aside from some SOF), I am not that concerned as I am with Afghanistan. Also, the MIC screams and stampers every time a pullout is tried. If we get one done, like Afghanistan, it is a great start. We not only have a poor record winning wars, we also have a poor record of knowing when to give up.

                1. km

                  In other words, Trump can’t even pull out of a war where there are relatively few American boots on the ground, one in which Congress twice gifted him an excuse to do so.


          2. The Rev Kev

            To be fair, every time Trump announces that he wants to pull out of a place like Syria or Afghanistan, the House rushes out and writes a law saying how he can’t do it without all sorts of restrictions that make it all but impossible. Official Washington does not want to leave Afghanistan, even after nearly twenty years – as in ever.

            1. marym

              The House doesn’t write laws. They may pass bills which also need to pass in the Senate and get signed by the president, though I don’t specifically know of this happening in regard to troop withdrawals – definitely the opposite in Yemen as referenced above by km@July 30, 2020 at 7:32 pm.

              He did withdraw from positions in Syria “Though the withdrawal seemed to mark the end of U.S. presence in Syria, Trump later announced he would retain a force in the east of the country to guard the oil wells there.

              The official reason for the oil field deployment was to keep the resources out of the hands of ISIS remnants, but the president himself admitted he wanted to bring in American companies to extract the oil.”

              He said during his campaign that he thought the US should “keep the oil” [possibly a war crime] so, promises kept, not thwarted by the establishment.

              “In the final months of Obama’s presidency, approximately 198,000 active duty U.S. military personnel were deployed overseas, according to the Pentagon’s Defense Manpower Data Center. By comparison, the most recent figure for the Trump administration is 174,000 active duty troops. But even that difference reflects an accounting trick. Beginning in December 2017, the Defense Department started excluding troops deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria from its official reports, citing a vague need to “protect our forces.” When the estimated troop levels for those three countries are added back in, the current total is around 194,000—roughly equivalent to the number Trump inherited.”

              I’ve also posted links in the past about his escalation of drone strikes and increased civilian casualties.

              1. Mr. House

                By gosh Marym, that dastardly trump single handily destroying the world again!

                (insert picture of snidley whiplash)

                1. Aumua

                  Questionable personal attack of no substance, in response to a post of reasonable substance, supported by multiple links, which was hardly an unfair, one sided, or cartoonish depiction of Trump.

        2. Aumua

          I honestly don’t see America being able to take four more years of this. The Trump, the Dems, the media circus, all of it. The entertainment value does have an expiration date.

          1. apleb

            It won’t change. This trajectory was locked in long before Trump showed up. Obama’s tenure certainly wasn’t different. Trump is not exceptional, I can see things already in Ronnie Raygun’s time.

            It will get a lot worse before it can get better.

        3. Lost in OR

          Trump has so far not attacked the neocon’s favored targets. I have lower expectations for either Hillary or Biden.

          An alternate elephant in the room is which would you rather lead through a depression? I’m stumped on that one. I think we’re hopelessly sunk.

          1. Keith

            Essence of create destruction, you got to burn it to the ground before you can start anew. Also why I support as much handouts as possible, bankrupt the system as quickly as possible to slay the beast. Then hopefully something new can be rebuilt, preferable along the lines of many new countries instead of a 330 million monolith. Hope and dreams, but hope nonetheless.

              1. Keith

                Well, that depends on how much stock you put into MMT. I don’t think it will pan out. That being said, we have been living it for a while now, and like it or not, we are all MMTers now. I just want some of that action.

                1. ambrit

                  “I just want some of that action.”
                  Me too.
                  The real limiting factor is available resources.

                  1. JBird4049

                    And the more hollow the country, the less in resources it has. Inflation is too much money chasing too little of value.

                    IIRC, Weimar Republic tried to print its way out of its war reparations to France. Great. But the French used that money to buy stuff in Germany. Germany’s production of stuff did not increase much as the incoming flow of money to buy it.

                    We can print all the dollars we want, but that wouldn’t increase the availability of food, gasoline, concrete, or doctors.

                    1. ambrit

                      Right. There is an essay, or travel article by I believe Hemingway from the twenties about him and his wife crossing the border from France to Weimar Germany to buy stuff that they couldn’t afford anywhere else. The corrosive effects of the hyperinflation had made their supply of dollars worth the proverbial king’s ransom.
                      This is also why the decades long neglect of America’s infrastructure will come to bite us in the fundament. Any amount of money, when chasing a shrinking supply of locally produced goods, will begin to inflate in “value.”

    5. zagonostra

      The DNC is the weatherman telling you to believe it’s raining even though your eyes don’t see a cloud in the sky. How Biden upset Bernie who by all accounts and polling should have won is in my eyes suspect.

      The establishment wants Trump out, they been at it in various devious ways since he took office. Bernie is now out of the way – he fulfilled his function whether intentional or not of stymieing a third party movement – now they need to push it over the goal post, which won’t be to difficult with 100M folks who sat out the last election and with many more, including myself, thinking about sitting this one out too – which will be the first one I sat out since I was eligible to vote.

          1. Mr. House

            “Inverted totalitarianism reverses things. It is all politics all of the time but a politics largely untempered by the political. Party squabbles are occasionally on public display, and there is a frantic and continuous politics among factions of the party, interest groups, competing corporate powers, and rival media concerns. And there is, of course, the culminating moment of national elections when the attention of the nation is required to make a choice of personalities rather than a choice between alternatives. What is absent is the political, the commitment to finding where the common good lies amidst the welter of well-financed, highly organized, single-minded interests rabidly seeking governmental favors and overwhelming the practices of representative government and public administration by a sea of cash.”

    6. voteforno6

      To be fair, Biden didn’t seem to have much of a ground operation during the primaries, either.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        One. Biden enjoyed wall to wall positive coverage from MSNBC while Joy Reid for example was employing O’Reilly’s body language expert to scare people about how Sanders was going to eat children.

        Two, how many MSNBC viewers stayed home in the primary. At the end of the day, the primary electorate is very small.

        Three, its easier to catch a fly with honey than with vinegar. People are going to do things “for” Biden. The eviction crisis is about to be an election crisis. And plenty of people won’t be able to vote. Not only do you have the usual hustle and bustle of life, there is a pandemic.

        Four, the vote suppression tactics in the primary. The GOP will continue to use those. Every little thing.

        Biden might win on the backs of Republicans who can tolerate Biden because of his friendship with Strom Thurmond, but this leaves room for down ballot carnage.

    7. Alternate Delegate

      Minnesota: plenty of Trump signage around, and some Bernie signage. There is actually a Biden sign near us, and I think there may be another one, a mile away across town.

      Problem is, I casually know the people with the Biden sign, and really I don’t want to bring it up. They’re older. We chat. I watch for signs of dementia. They’re functional. I hope they can continue to live independently for as long as possible. It’s upsetting in a way. Certainly not something we could talk about.

    8. Arizona Slim

      Here in Tucson, I’m still seeing more Bernie signs than Biden or Trump signs. It’s as if this isn’t a national election year.

      1. richard

        Blue Western WA, have yet to see a biden yard sign on my walking route, which is mostly homeowners. BLM signs here and there, no Biden yet. No nothing.

    9. L

      Same here and I live in a liberal part of a conservative state. While people I talk to are certain that he must be elected! they aren’t covering their yards with signs either. The closest to a ground campaign I have seen was a call I got asking me if I would phone bank for him, but no calls from the phone bank, no mailers, no effort to listen on issues etc. At this point either they don’t think they need one (The Clinton approach), or they are “keeping their powder dry” for some big ground push later.

      Neither one seems like a good plan but then I don’t get paid consulting fees.

    10. skippy

      The Trump thing reminds me of those awaiting the second coming in these regions, that he embraces that mantel is the scary part.

    11. a different chris

      There are two things people aren’t taking into account — actually just one thing that underlies both:

      > There probably are some “shy Trump voters” out there,

      Yeah. Shy. A Trump voter. Seriously? Find one, all the “shy” voters are ones who are going to vote for Biden despite what they tell their spouse.

      >but really a complete lack of pro-Biden signage/stickers/banners/etc.

      Well *yeah*. I mean duh. Did you see the way the MAGA idiots arm themselves up? We do watch the news, here. I *live* in a rural area. I’m not putting a Biden sign on my house even if I did support him, it’s basically a target out here. My house can’t duck. My car won’t heal, and my body might but it won’t be fun.

      The cities all hate Biden too, but they sure are not closet Trump voters.

      1. km

        I didn’t say that there aren’t any Biden voters who won’t identify as such in public.

        In this part of the country, that might not be a dumb strategy.

        Nor did I say that Trump is winning or had some kind of silent majority on his side. Read carefully what I wrote.

    12. Adam Eran

      Two observations from California: 1. I had a neighbor with a “Bernie” bumper sticker…a little bit of a surprise since her household has been known to display a Confederate flag. Since Bernie’s withdrawl, she home-made a “F*ck Biden” bumper sticker.

      2. Meanwhile, in two locations, I’ve seen voter registration tables with “Protect your gun rights” signs and T-shirts with AK-47s for sale next door.

      3. No Biden signs visible where I go.

      1. km

        I see a LOT of Number 2 type signs, decals, signifiers around. In fact, where I live, such perfomance is so biquitous as to be unremarkable. Like skulls and black leather at a heavy metal concert.

        We also see a lot of people who aggressively refuse to socially distance. There is a lot of convergence between these two groups.

        America is absolutely seething mad, white-hot with incandescent rage.

        1. JBird4049

          I think that the rage is causing the population to merge regardless of ideologies. People might be it, but anyone can see how everyone is being shafted whether they be left or right. It’s creating class consciousness.

          Probably the most popular candidate for president has been shafted by TPTB. Twice. Even if you think he was a crypto Stalinist, the doing and reasons for it is rage inducing. Trump was elected president as message to the entire elite class; not only has the message been ignored, both Houses of Congress have done precious little for the bottom 95% because it somehow might cost too much while giving actual trillions to the top 0.5%. This while the whole United States is collapsing into the Second (greater) Depression!

          We might, somehow not have everything blowup in 2020, but then next Summer will be fuuuuun.

    13. km

      Readers may be interested to know that many of the BLM yard signs and automobile decorations that I saw on my trip were clearly homemade.

      1. ambrit

        That’s funny, because all of the BLM signage around here, the NADS, was professionally produced and uniform in design.

    14. savebyirony

      Small city in North East Ohio. The local paper just ran a poll: who you voting for, Trump or Biden? Trump won it easily. And the amount of letters to the editor supporting this guy, it’s scary, not to mention their content. We have scattered Trump signs out and I see Trump bumper stickers quite often around town and throughout the county. While Bernie signs and stickers were quite common last winter, there are no signs of public Biden support here that I have seen. I know many locals sincerely enthusiastic about voting for Trump, but no one excited about voting for Biden though they say they will IF they vote.

    15. Dan

      I see more Trump than Biden signs where I’m at in NJ as well, though not nearly as many Trump signs as 2016.

    16. Phil in KC

      My congressional district will probably go low 50’s Biden, 40-45 % Trump. That said, I see zero Trump regalia no yard signs, no bumper stickers. no MAGA hats, but Biden signs are popping up all over my middle-middle class to upper-middle-classenclave in Kansas City, Missouri. The state will go red, though. Are Trump supporters really afraid to express their political leanings?

      The biggest enthusiasts are those who plant to vote against Trump. Listening to Limbaugh today, a caller and the host both seemed to agree that Trump didn’t seem to have his heart in it and was headed in the wrong direction. Their exchange reminded me of George H. W. Bush in ’92, who seemed tired, old, and not all that into a second term.

    17. hunkerdown

      Around my corner of Michigan (+12, h/t chapo.chat) I have seen a small number of Biden window stickers, maybe 5 over the past month, and had a home-made Trump sticker placed on my car without my consent.

      That sounds like permission to vote for Howie.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        If you decide to scrape it off, don’t use your fingers. Use a long-bladed knife or something. There could be pieces of razor blade or little bits of glass “under” the bumper sticker, right between it and the bumper.

  2. Toshiro_Mifune

    He argued that someone who grinds video games for the same amount of time is still unlikely to be earning money from that particular pursuit.” • “Grinds”?

    Grinding is performing any sort of repetitive task in a game to acquire resources/level the character up/etc.
    E.G. In a role playing game spending time repeatedly killing “monsters” in a specific location with the hopes that they will drop a special sword or maybe just for the experience points to level.
    Grinding is annoying and I’ll avoid it in almost any game but certain people seem to enjoy it.

    1. urblintz

      Professional poker players (especially those who don’t win much, i.e. most of them) have long been called “grinders.”

    2. Massinissa

      I hate grinding, but some people find it relaxing and therapeutic. I suppose the same could be said of any repetitive task, so one doesn’t really need to use a video game for that sort of relaxation.

      1. FriarTuck

        To my knowledge, “Grinding” in videogames has a legacy originating from an outgrowth of Japanese Role-Playing Games (JRPGs) in the late 80s and mid 90s. Historically, in those games there would be sections of the game that would increase in difficulty such that in order to proceed to the next part of the game, you would need to level up your character by “grinding”, ie – as Toshiro_Mifune said above – repetitively battling and defeating monsters. The original issue here was that games were often poorly-balanced, such that the reward-power curve of your characters and the challenge of the content you were about to experience weren’t well matched. Examples of this are rife within the early Final Fantasy series, the Suikoden series, Pokemon, Persona series, and Dragon Quest series.

        That’s not to say western RPGs were any better during this time period, though the game systems in western RPGs were typically oriented around systems that were less hard number advancement as rewards and more randomization. Baldur’s Gate (a D&D system digitized), Fallout, and Ultima as examples of more randomized systems, though games like Diablo contain examples of western hard numbers systems.

        For a while in the late 90’s and early 00’s, grinding fell out of fashion, except as optional components of a game appealing towards the obsessive completionist. Grinding and completionist as mainstays became the primarily the province of JRPGs. Typically in the market, game companies experimented with different genres, from the side-scrollers of Mario and Castlevania, to the Hollywood-esque Call of Duty and Halo.

        Then came the mobile games, where there was money to be made. As soon as companies realized that parts of games could be cordoned off and monetized by creating dark patterns (note: a great website reference with examples) to encourage addictive behavior, grinding became something that companies built into their games. Monetization would be built in such a way that the amount of time of gameplay “grinding” for a reward would excuse the absolutely exorbitant pricing for the advertised “skipping the grind.”

        Grinding for non-mobile games became a way of increasing play time, as to do so would encourage recurring user spending or monthly subscription spending models, or recurring monopolies on attention. In order to sell future games, you would want players to stay with your game to ensure their brand loyalty for the next game your production machine could churn out in the next year. Call of Duty is a vivid example of this, as I think they’re on version eleventy-billion or something.

        While I disagree with Rogan that videogames should be dismissed out of hand (you could say the same thing about “wasting time” to someone who reads for pleasure), I agree that there are dangerous addictive tendencies built into some games that encourage destructive behavior.

        1. Massinissa

          “Then came the mobile games, where there was money to be made. As soon as companies realized that parts of games could be cordoned off and monetized by creating dark patterns (note: a great website reference with examples) to encourage addictive behavior, grinding became something that companies built into their games. Monetization would be built in such a way that the amount of time of gameplay “grinding” for a reward would excuse the absolutely exorbitant pricing for the advertised “skipping the grind.”

          Grinding for non-mobile games became a way of increasing play time, as to do so would encourage recurring user spending or monthly subscription spending models, or recurring monopolies on attention. In order to sell future games, you would want players to stay with your game to ensure their brand loyalty for the next game your production machine could churn out in the next year. Call of Duty is a vivid example of this, as I think they’re on version eleventy-billion or something.

          While I disagree with Rogan that videogames should be dismissed out of hand (you could say the same thing about “wasting time” to someone who reads for pleasure), I agree that there are dangerous addictive tendencies built into some games that encourage destructive behavior.”

          I’m highlighting the second half of your comment here to make sure everyone here who doesn’t know much about video games reads it. An increasing number of games, even aside from phone games, are taking up all sorts of varied and sundry monetization models, often aside from the base purchase cost of the game itself which is often as much as $60, with many of such monetization models being actively predatory. As one example, the UK is getting pretty close to actively viewing ‘loot boxes’, an increasingly common system where you pay cash for a randomized in-game item, as actual gambling.


    3. Charger01

      This was a semi-popular pastime back in 2005-2007 for the MMO crowd such as world of warcraft, an enterprising player could build a spec character with some bells and whistles that could be sold for a could sold for a few hundred dollars. I wouldn’t be surprised if this still occurs or more sophisticated players can cheat in some good gear for sale. Although Joe Rogan (former avid Quake-head) probably was referencing grinding up characters for 80 hour + popular games such as league of legends or warframe.

      1. occasional anonymous

        No, he was referring to playing any video game.

        His logic is basically gibberish; he’s saying that you could be doing literally anything else and come out of it with a career. Putting aside the fact that he’s basically arguing that hobbies and leisure shouldn’t exist, that the only things worth doing are things you can get paid for, he also doesn’t seem to realize that a. most people who do something athletic will never turn a profit off of it, and b. because of streaming video games are basically the one thing anyone can sit down and make at least a little money off of.

    4. ChrisPacific

      I think Joe Rogan is confused about the difference between work and leisure. People do things all the time that don’t make them money or advance useful skills, just because they are relaxing or feel good (take watching TV, for example). It’s generally agreed (neoliberal moralizing about the lower classes and unemployed excepted) that too much of either one at the expense of the other is bad.

    5. Paradan

      For a while now I’ve felt that video games are suppressing popular unrest. It’s an excellent way to keep unemployed young men busy. It allows a safe outlet for aggression, and offers a community to belong to. I don’t think this was planned, but I’m fairly sure it’s being taken advantage of by the elites. Most of the popular games cost tens of millions to make and market, therefore the financial class gets to choose which games get made.

    1. Off The Street

      Reminiscent of church potlucks. Moms could await feedback from offspring about those strange new dishes and note any to include in the dinner rotation. They could take some comfort in offhand comments about how those new ones just weren’t like what Mom makes. Can’t say I was ever tempted to try that lime jello topped off with Miracle Whip, as was mentioned by a colleague from Ohio, so chalk that up to regional tastes. Now for some more Hawaiian Punch, a rare treat in a Kool-Aid world. YTMV

    2. Darius

      The words Jello and salad should never be in the same sentence, even this one.

      Take that, Grandma!

    3. HotFlash

      My Great Aunt Anna, a coathanger tycoon (a story for another time), used to bring her special Jello salad to the family reunion. It was cherry Jello with sour (pie) cherries, but she replaced the cold water with red wine. It was very popular.

    1. Val

      Intriguing, but where do the billionaires fit in?

      The billionaires are the warlords. The market is the control fraud. The country is the planet.

      As an aside, can the DNC prove they held a primary? They have claimed in court that they are under no obligation to do so.

      1. Charger01

        The billionaires are the warlords. The market is the control fraud. The country is the planet.

        See “lord of war” with nick cage as a reference

        1. Phil in KC

          No, the billionaires fund the warlords and hope they can avoid the carnage outside of the walls.

    2. gsinbe

      Looks like that to me, too. A surprising plant – appears adapted to dry, deserty conditions, but does well here in wet, cool western NC.

    3. Darius

      Definitely yucca. Yucca is native to the southeast. The stem of one species has soapy sap. Supposedly, the indigenous people used it to bathe. You have to destroy the plant, however, to get it.

      1. Eureka Springs

        All of my Fall blooming yuccas bloomed in late Spring this year. I asked around and none of us can remember that happening for at least the last 30 years.

    1. Steal the Thunder

      Given how much the Democrats are on the offense attacking Trump for stealing the election this autumn I am 100% that they are the ones that will steal it. That is how Biden will win.

      The same mechanism for how Russia is used, e.g., Europe. Russiarussiarussia meddling in elections etc but in reality the US is deciding for the Europeans where they can buy gas from – existential stuff.

      Just diversion from the real criminals

        1. hunkerdown

          Democrats are exceptionally and dependably competent at serving the desires of their rich friends and the professional-managerial class, and at pretending to be incompetent when at risk of achieving something for the working class. They’re competent, they’re just not into us. Welcome to NC!

        2. jonboinAR

          They certainly had it together enough to suddenly and unexpectedly sweep Bernie off the field.

      1. edmondo

        It kinda helps when your opponent endorses you during a 2 person debate. Thanks Bernie. I’m going to vote for the shit sandwich. Not sure which one, but since they are both shit sandwiches I don’t have much choice.

        1. a different chris

          Why don’t you vote 3rd party?? Send a message about where you are. TPTB have made a career out of not hearing us, but someday somebody might.

          You vote for Trump, he doesn’t think that you think he’s a shit sandwich. He thinks you love him. You vote for Biden, almost the same thing although even Joe isn’t senile enough to think anybody loves him.

          1. polecat

            I’m of the opinion that we have to hit the rocky, sharp bottom, before the third, forth, or even the fifth stone gets a notice. The whole empiric Golianth needs to stumble, badly .. if not outright fall .. but most wish to shield their eyes .. thinking/wishing that it won’t ever happen. Even the purported ‘Left’ seems not to get that we’re all in new territory.

        2. Michael McK

          Yes! 3rd party all the way!
          Join a local board while you are at it. You will learn a ton, make a difference, and be ready to credibly run for more important office later, if nations last that long.

  3. Keith

    Regarding the shortage of doctors, how many jumped ship when COVID hit? I was talking to a doctor via a “tele-consult” who told me she left her clinic after COVID hit because she didn’t want to deal with it, and it now doing this. We did not speak long, as these run at most ten minutes, but it was interesting. On a side note, in eastern WA state, 5-7 days before you can get a COVID result (I was refereed to a clinic with what appeared to be lax protocols, as in staff wore what looked like regular face covering, while potential infecteds like me had to demask to be tested. I did not ask, so perhaps they were better sealing, but did not look like it, seemed more fashionable than anything.

    1. Charger01

      Yup. Donated blood with RC/vitaliant on the 15th, received antibodies test results on the 22nd.

    2. The Rev Kev

      There was a story several months ago of how Trump was trying to lure medical staff from overseas to work in the US in fighting this pandemic and were offering an easy path to emigrate. I guess that they did not get that many takers.

      1. Keith

        Interesting. I wonder what the AMA had to say about that. They control admissions and numbers into medical school, under the notion about ensuring quality and long term value (hence age restrictions), but I suspect it has more to do with market value. That said, I generally prefer immigrant doctors over native born ones.

    3. LifelongLib

      I got tested here in Hawaii, result (negative) in less than 24 hours although I was told it could be up to 48. Requires a referral from your doctor. I’m having some mild symptoms and the doctor wanted to rule out covid because of my age and family members with age/health issues.

      1. Keith

        My boss complained about the time frame, as it took a few hours for her, but she is in the city, whereas I am in the country. How country, when I asked about interacting with my newborn, he said “no swapping spit” and to take the normal precaution, mask, wash hands and do not share utensils, but to not become a hermit in the house. Also advised that child under ten have nothing to be concerned of, as there are no documented cases.

  4. JohnH

    Grinding in a game is performing rote tasks – “slay 1,000 monsters” – in order to advance in some way (which very might be having to slay 2,000 monsters). If I am not mistaken, it is taken directly from “the grind” in reference to the workweek.

    There is a sense of accomplishment and bragging rights, I suppose, but as Rogan notes, it’s imaginary progress.

  5. John

    Is the spate of stories, factoids, and opinions all speculation and gasping in horror at the prospect of disputed election for the purpose of assuming their will be such or normalizing the idea of it? Trump is way behind in the polls at the moment so three months in advance he is hinting darkly but openly that those dastardly Democrats are going to rob him of his victory.

    Would this not be a good time for people of good will to bestir themselves and take action to make the election as trouble free as possible. This will mean (gulp! gasp!) spending money and enlisting electoral district workers and vote counters and making sure those pesky, but unhackable, computerized voting systems are in fact as unhackable as possible.

    Come on people. Less talk. More actioon.

    1. edmondo

      Trump has no intention of postponing the election. He wanted to deflect you from focusing on the GDP numbers. And it worked. The stock market should have been down 5000 points on those GDP numbers if reality had anything to do with it.

      1. km

        Because a disputed election and potential civil unrest are totally bullish for stocks!

        Besides, it’s not as if equity markets could process more than one story at a time.

  6. drumlin woodchuckles

    Grogan . . . games . . . grind . . . grinding . . . “what?”

    I feel as if “grinding” here basically means nose-to-the-grindstone for hours a day. Grinding away at something. The daily grind. Etc.

    National Lampoon once featured the nose-to-the-grindstone concept on the cover of its ” Work” issue.
    That cover should be the first image in this collection of images. ( I couldn’t find a shorter URL to this image specifically or I would have offered it).

  7. DJG

    Indeed I remember the series about the Stupids, with their dog Kitty and their cat Xylophone. I bought them for my nieces and nephews, because few other writers are so subversive as Marshall and Allard.

    And when you recover from Post-Circus-Peanuts Trauma Syndrome (I haven’t been near one of them in years), you can track down Marshall’s other wildly “transgressive” book:

    Rapscallion Jones

  8. DJG

    Questions about the seed packets, which must be some dastardly campaign by the Chinese, right?

    I am seeing photos of at least eight to ten different kinds of seeds. Has anyone bothered to identify them? Most articles repeat the same language about them. Don’t plant. Invasive species. And so on.

    Also, I ran across an article that claimed that they were going to people who had used Amazon and eBay. Major hack? No other article mentioned how the company would have found all of these names.

    I’m not giving much credence to this “brushing” business. None of the photos I see have a brand name or even identify the seeds.

    Weird. In a way, though, this isn’t much weirder than my endless stream of unsolicited letters from Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, telling me to fill in an important poll and send them some moolah.

    Yet I don’t have to tell you that it has been a weird year.

    1. Judith

      That was my first question. How can we make any recommendations unless we know what kind of seeds these are. Isn’t anyone curious? Is no one available in the local College or Ag School Botany dept to ID the darn seeds?

      1. Arizona Slim

        Can I run them through my food processor’s dry grains container and throw the powder into my compost bin?

        1. pricklyone

          Why? If I had some, I’d light up the grill, and throw them on the charcoal. Kill it with fire.
          First, might be a good idea to let the local Ag dept. have first refusal.
          I suspect, though, that identification from seeds alone, is not easy or fast.Especially if they are not familiar local or regional species.
          Fairly sure that getting them ID’d was an early, obvious strategy. Surely in the works.
          Seems reports are widely varied types of seeds?

    2. L

      Well the brushing does not depend on them submitting a brand name anything. In fact the whole point of brushing is that you ship anything and then use it to boost other business, fake your export data, or just cover some other dodgy financial transaction. So if you are a company that needs to do this and you can lay your hands on a big pile of really cheap seeds, why not?

    3. Lost in OR

      Here are instructions from the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

      Anyone who receives an unsolicited package of seeds from China should immediately contact their state department of agriculture or the APHIS state plant health director and follow these steps:

      Save the seeds and the package they came in, including the mailing label.
      Do not open the seed packets.
      Do not plant any of the seeds.
      If the packets are already opened, place all materials (seeds and packaging) into a zip lock bag and seal it.
      If the seeds have been planted, leave the seeds/plants in the ground until you receive further instruction from your state department of agriculture or APHIS.

      Oregonians are requested to send seats and packets to the ODA.

    4. h2odragon

      I have seen what looked like morning glories, and a cantaloupe type melon family seed in news pictures. I’m assured that there *is* delivery confirmation tracking of these packages by a postal carrier, which gives the “brushing” theory some points.

      I’d like to see some web site that shows a delivery to one of these addresses in a seller’s feedback, or some evidence of the other end of the operation, before buying into that totally.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Cool, morning glory seeds, now those I can use. Need to dig out my old Anarchist’s Cookbook, I seem to recall that denatured alcohol can extract the constituents I’m after. Need some way to visit Earth 2 as I can’t seem to maintain a connection with Earth 1 any more…

        1. Massinissa

          Is the anarchist cookbook called To Serve Government?

          Wait nevermind, I think that’s the book Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan cowrote.

          1. hunkerdown

            It was half ghostwritten, half verbatim from The Road to Serfdom (an even earlier example of the cookbook that predates The Twilight Zone).

    5. ChrisPacific

      I am curious whether this is a new problem or an ongoing one that the media has just started noticing for some reason. There was a story here about somebody receiving unsolicited seeds in the mail (from Zambia though, not China). Customs was quoted as saying that it had been going on for some years already and they were ‘working with ecommerce platforms to stop this practice’ which suggests it’s correlated with the online sellers somehow. Some sort of scam, fraud, or money laundering would seem like the obvious explanation, although I’m at a loss to explain why seeds in particular, especially given the high likelihood of interception by biosecurity. Perhaps that’s the point, to create a convincing paper trail of a lost/destroyed package.

  9. Alternate Delegate

    When I visited a month after the peak of the riots, much of this major American metropolis [Minneapolis/St. Paul] still lied [sic] in ruins.

    Michael Tracey is full of [family blog].

    He can also cut out the attempt to blame all the damage on “left-wing whites”. That’s precisely what this wasn’t: black versus white.

    This is what it was: it was police violence against the people, and police blackmail against the small business owners. “Nice little shop you’ve got there … be shame if something happened to it …”

    I don’t think it will work. People know exactly what happened.

    1. pjay

      Do you have first hand experience in Minneapolis? Are you saying Tracey is flat lying? If so, why, and what do you think are his motives? Do you think the police did all the damage depicted? If not, who did?

      I had to laugh (bitterly) at your last sentence: “People know exactly what happened.” NO, they don’t, because it’s impossible to find out *anything* with f***ing certainty about *anything* these days. If you say you do I have to call BS, unless you can explain why I should believe your “black and white” (no pun intended) picture is the last word.

      I have no direct knowledge about Minneapolis. But I do have a family member who lived in Seattle and witnessed events there (she was very sympathetic to BLM, by the way). The situation is different there than in Minneapolis, where the Floyd murder occurred. But I know that there was definitely a “mixed” situation, to say the least, though I believe a vast majority of the protesters were legitimate. Of course people see what they want to see. Tracey seems to be trying to get past the partisan rhetoric to depict a more complex reality. I know I’m very weary trying to evaluate absolutely contradictory reports stated as absolute fact about EVERYTHING these days, from Russia to COVID. So I’m thankful that Lambert posted this. I welcome anyone who can shed some real light on this situation.

    2. Alternate Delegate

      Yes, I’m here, yes with direct knowledge, and I’m calling BS on Michael Tracey’s harmful misrepresentation. Not attributing any motive to him beyond laziness.

      It is way, way too easy to blame the “outside agitator”, the “white leftist”, the “out-of-towner” stories. Yes, you can point to a couple of cases, and people can be tricked into parroting these stories as an explanation, but they’re broadly wrong, and parroting them is harmful and divisive. That’s what I’m calling out.

      The point of police blackmail is that deliberately letting stuff happen is a divide-and-conquer tactic. They deliberately abandoned a guy I know whose business suffered damage, and they did it in order to divide him from his neighbors, and to establish their paychecks in the violence pecking order, and the point is IT DIDN’T WORK.

      Do I really have to establish the central theme here of police violence against protesters who are both black and white? Who are people, united? It seems there is enough evidence out there on that one.

      1. Carolinian

        you can point to a couple of cases

        So you are saying that it was rather the residents of these neighborhoods (and he talks about many more places than just MInneapolis/St Paul) who did most of the burning and breaking and not just the looting? He talks about the spray painted anarchist “A” on the now boarded up businesses. All a fake by–what?–white supremacists?

        Frankly I think if it really had been white supremacists the media would be talking about it nonstop and doing everything in their power to tie it to Trump. That’s the only “narrative” they are interested in. Surely you do concede that whatever one thinks about Tracey’s report the media, by and large, are not talking about the looting and damage. NC did link a Minneapolis story about it the other day.

      2. pjay

        Thanks for the reply. It does make me feel better that you are there. You do not have to convince me at all about (1) the reality of police violence, (2) the overwhelming majority of protesters being united in protest of police violence, or (3) the police strategy of “deliberately letting stuff happen” (certainly one used in Seattle as well). Also, I’m well aware of the long history of blaming “outside agitators” for legitimate indigenous protests (it’s actually *not* easy for me to consider that possibility). And Tracey himself notes small minority business owners who suffered damage but were nevertheless still supportive of BLM. So much more for me to agree with than disagree with here.

        But like you, I am concerned with “divide-and-conquer” tactics. So I am concerned with some indications of agent provocateurs or those with other agendas, and who they might represent. I don’t think the ambivalence about looting and property damage by residents Tracey describes is unfounded, even if those residents support the BLM cause (which I’m sure they do). You think Tracey’s reporting has the effect of dividing black and white, and “parroting” stories of white agitators is harmful. Margaret Kimberley of Black Agenda Report would agree with you. I think Tracey would probably argue that it’s the “white agitators” that risk diverting attention from what is important. You probably also feel that reporting on opportunistic looting by (mainly young) community residents is harmful as well. No doubt such information will be (has been) used by right-wing critics. So maybe we should just not report this stuff?

        I tend to favor maximum transparency these days. But I’m open to argument.

        1. Carolinian

          maximum transparency

          The news from both sides has an agenda and that–I think–is a problem. Surely the old saw “the truth has a liberal bias” is out the window. When it comes to establisment journalism no one seems to care about the truth that much anymore and, just as many of us once turned to the internet to find out what we are not being told, many now also check rightie sites to find a different perspective and–perhaps–information that we are not being told. After all a popular site here for links is now The American Conservative. TAC describes itself as “paleo conservative” and some paleo liberalism may be needed as well. The political world didn’t begin with Trump.

        2. Alternate Delegate

          I’m all for transparent reporting, but I’m against opinion pieces pretending to be factual news.

          The selection of “outside agitator” story retellings was not about facts. This was about reinforcing the writer’s opinion, and reveals how much he doesn’t understand.

          And then there are those two pictures focused on circle-a tags on boarded-up windows. The writer seems to take that as evidence of “white”, and perhaps some of his older storytellers told him that, too. But in fact it isn’t necessarily so.

          When I saw those pictures I thought, you know, those tags are smaller than our normal everyday circle-a’s. I get the feeling they’re saying: I realize this isn’t all about me, but I’m here too. So why does the writer focus on them so much? He’s not local. Maybe he doesn’t know how normal they are.

          Just like a circle-a isn’t necessarily white, an opportunistic looting isn’t necessarily black. The video just shows skinny kids looking for money. Why should I read more into it than that?

          Right now our two newspapers are both catapulting the Minneapolis PD’s claim that Umbrella Man is an unnamed and uncharged local white supremacist. I don’t know that I believe that. I also don’t regard Officer Peterson as exonerated, regardless of what the Saint Paul PD says.

          But what exactly changes if we find out who in fact precipitated the first arson at AutoZone on Lake Street? Ultimately it’s not about Umbrella Man. And, painful as our losses are – and fortunately, loss of life was low for trouble at this scale – it’s not about our losses. It’s about what happens next.

          1. Carolinian

            What happens next is that all those poor small business people are ruined. Target will probably struggle through.

            You’ve picked out a small part of the article to attack and ignored his claim of interviewing African American people in other towns who don’t understand why their neighborhoods were trashed. Indeed the “let’s move on” attitude is exactly what he is talking about. I’d say it’s entirely relevant and important to know who those committing the violence were.

            It has been pointed out that the worst of the violence and damage has often been in cities where the black population is not that great. In Seattle and Portland it’s around six percent. In my fifty percent AA town we’ve had no riots but did have a few protests. If the goal is to divide us then who is doing the dividing and what is their motive since there seems to be more going on here than outrage at the police.

            1. Alternate Delegate

              Who’s trying to divide us? The police, working for the big owners. Don’t let them distract you with talk of “outsiders”, “anarchists”, or “white supremacists”.

              “… the worst of the violence and damage has often been in cities where the black population is not that great.” That’s because these places are the home of a multiracial working class that still has sufficient strength and solidarity to put up a fight. So the police has to hurt them. The ghettos are too weak to matter.

              This did not happen in North Minneapolis. It happened in South Minneapolis. That means something. It means that the racially divisive story “… don’t understand why their neighborhoods were trashed” is flat-out false.

              North Minneapolis was not damaged – further. Inequality and racism have done a thorough job there and there isn’t much left to damage. The police can keep it broken without working up a sweat.

  10. Synoia

    “It is interesting,” Gohmert said, “and I don’t know about everybody, but when I have a mask on I’m moving it to make it comfortable, and I can’t help but wonder if that put some germs in the mask. Keep your hands off your mask? Anyway, who knows?”

    I do know that you have to remove your brain cage (however tiny) from your posterior.

  11. WobblyTelomeres

    Gardening question: are there flowering plants that attract bees but repel mosquitoes?

    1. L

      I have been told that floweing lavender and rosemary will do that. I can’t say that I have good empirical evidence on that however as my rosemary just won’t flower but the lavender seems to be working.

    2. marieann

      I just found out this week the Dragonflies eat mosquitoes, all you need is a water source to attract them. I don’t know of any plant that repels mosquitoes.

      1. HotFlash

        Well yes, but they eat mosquito larva, which live in water, not adult mosquitoes. So, the watersource is also the habitat for mosquito larvae. Self-licking ice cream cone?

        Me, I like bats. Many birds eat mosquitoes, too.

        1. polecat

          I toss a partial mosquito bacillus disc in our small water feature – about every couple of months. We have a few fish .. chubunkins and koi .. don’t know if they’re attracted to mosquito larvae, but the discs seem to work. Whilst changing out water, I have noticed damselfly larvae, looking to stay hydrated, during what for them must surely seem like an ordeal ..
          We definitely have bat action. Especially on those relatively calm, warm twilight. YAY!

    3. Brian L.

      Tansy. I’m sure there are others. Check your preferred search engine (I hope that’s not google ;) ).

    4. grayslady

      Your best bet is Nepeta, also known as catmint. Bees prefer blue or lavender flowers, and catmint has lovely lavender-blue flowers. (It also has one of the longest bloom periods of any perennial.) I have real, honest-to-goodness honeybees on my catmint all summer long. Catmint leaves also happen to contain nepetalactone, a terpene that mosquitoes,and other insects, can’t stand. Terpenes are one of natures’s favorite ways to help plants discourage predators (since plants can’t move, they need to have some ready defenses). Pine trees are among the most notable plants with terpenes–get up close and you can really smell the powerful terpenes.

      1. polecat

        Melissa perhaps ..? Also might try some Agastache cultivars. Our bees love it .. along with the catmint, as mentioned above.

  12. marieann

    I agree about the Yucca. It has Yucca type flowers but I have never seen them with stems growing from the stem. Yucca flowers are usually just in the centre.

    We dug out a yucca once and it took about 10 years to finally get it to stop sending shoots up

    1. pricklyone

      I have that problem with volunteer Mulberry trees in flowerbeds. 4 ft. tall in 2 months! Have been cutting to the ground for 5 years, since redigging these. This is why I am not a gardener.
      Gotta be a little masochistic to do this to yourself…
      Flowers (Iris) were here when I got here 30 years ago. I like them, but cannot maintain them. I was told to spread them out, when they stopped producing, so I did. Now I get a few on one side, one year, and a fiw on the other side, the next year.
      I gave away a few hundred to my flower farmer buddy, and hers are gangbusters, even though she doesn’t care much about them, as she is into hybrid day lilies, and exotic irises, not my vanilla iris.

    2. h2odragon

      It’s a *very happy* yucca. The moths will happen soon, which is a treat for the first person to bump into the plant in the morning.

  13. L

    “A three-year bachelor’s degree” [American Enterprise Institute].

    As an educator I have to comment on this one. While there is no question that we need to reduce debt, doing what the authors propose does not seem like it would serve the students, it runs counter to my experience with what students are actually taking, and it runs counter to what we hear from industry representatives.

    From the authors’ description, they seem to be assuming that undergraduates are spending a lot of time taking “extra” courses such as two or three lit courses etc. In my experience however most students do not do that. In fact the “general” requirements such as they are are generally limited to one writing course, one history, etc. and the extra time, such as it is, is spent either taking additional minor courses or, more commonly, more electives in the major. Moreover, even where students are taking writing courses, those courses are geared towards their degree (e.g. “Writing for STEM Students” or “Communication in the Sciences”).

    Second, in dealing with industry representatives their general call has always been for more not less. That is they want students who are good scientists, also good communicators. They want them to have advanced skills and cutting edge knowledge as well as basic foundations etc. All of which makes sense. And all of which we try to do. It would be difficult to cut a year off of students’ degree programs without sacrificing either foundations or depth and thus making them less attractive to the potential employers.

    Thus there is very little “air” that can be squeezed out of a degree this way without sacrificing either depth or essential skills. If anything our challenge with electives has historically been to find ways to adapt what we cover to help them start on the cutting edge earlier and earlier often by pushing for more stem skills at the high school, and now grade school level. But that does nothing to reduce how much they learn at college, it only changes the balance.

    it seems that they are assuming that there is a way to reduce the range of courses that the students are taking and yet give them an equal amount of breadth and depth.

    1. prickyone

      Just sounds like “idea people” reacting to stories about college debt. We already know how to do trade schools. That is what this describes, and it turns out you can overcharge even more for those!
      Ka-Ching, indeed…

    2. John

      STEM skills are the stuff that business wants for its drones and clerks.

      I bristle every time I see the argument that university is to prepare its graduates for the work-a-day. I do not equate a liberal education with job training. If business wants people trained in a particular way, let them pay for it.

      1. L

        Perhaps it depends upon how you define “STEM Skills”. I see my job as teaching the fundamental understanding necessary for a discipline and the advanced knowledge necessary to participate in it. I define that as foundational STEM skills. Where many of the employers I speak to want that we are in agreement. But many people, unfortunately even students, define STEM skills as mastery of tool X. Where X was mentioned by Musk in a tweet today. Then they wonder why we haven’t been teaching tool X for 10 years. Never mind that tool X is 6 weeks old and tied to one vendor and probably won’t survive the summer.

        To my mind if you have the foundational skills you can go far, including leaving your current job & company for better things. If you only know Tool X you are stuck, or worse, replaceable.

        1. polecat

          ‘When every budding stem works for those SiliCONing Cloud People ________ (choose an ending .. predicated solely (or perhaps that should be souly..) on grift & control-freakdom, of course!)

      2. hunkerdown

        Well, yeah, that’s the point. It’s a NEOliberal education. AEI is a neoliberal promotional agency and terrorist organization. Notice the “economics” course? I don’t think they’re calling for Bill Mitchell et al.’s new textbook to be their prayer in school.

    3. Gregorio

      But if they can reduce the amount of credits to get a degree, they could raise the price per credit, while funneling 25% more students through the system. The effect would be extracting more profit, and at the same time slightly reducing the overall debt per student. Win/win!

  14. aj

    RE: de-capitalizing ‘white’ in ‘white House’

    I hope this is a joke. With the capitalized spelling it is a proper noun that taken together is the name of the building. When you de-capitalize it, it becomes an adjective, and describes the house. It’s would be like if you thought de-capitialing the ‘n-word’ from Mark Twain’s character ‘N-word Jim’ would make it less racist. No. Now instead of simply being the guy’s name, you are now calling him the n-word which to me sounds much worse.

  15. ambrit

    Hmmm…. I thought site policy frowned upon ‘sock puppets.’
    Still and all, it’s for a good cause.

  16. Pelham

    Re the protests/riots and whether the participants can be separated into peaceful and violent groups: Yes, but does it matter? I don’t think so, especially after a clear pattern of protest accompanied by violence has been established, as it was quite early on.

    Separately, I’d like to know how the extent of mostly random property destruction in this unrest stacks up against similar destruction in previous outbreaks. I’m too young to remember, but (for instance) was there much property destruction during various Vietnam War protests, or during the “police riot” at the Democrats’ ’68 convention in Chicago?

    Finally, after skimming through the photos in the Medium piece, my heart goes out to the owners of these small businesses. I sample the 3 execrable cable news networks from time to time and had begun to wonder whether Fox was somehow manipulating video images to give a distorted impression. I guess they weren’t.

    1. Lost in OR

      From the distant and vague recesses of my just-forming memory, I would say that the we haven’t seen anything like the race riots of the ’60s.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      The only separation between peaceful protesters and violent recreationalists which would matter would be a separation which the peaceful protesters could create and enforce themselves.

      And they would need a high tolerance for irony, because the only way the peaceful protesters can separate the recreational violencians from themselves would be with swift, surgical, savage and extreme violence. They would have to kill or maim every antifa and black bloc member so fast and so thoroughly that not one antifa or black bloccer would have time to break not even one thing. And they would have to kill or maim EVERY antifa and black bloccer because while it may be taken as a given that some of the antifas and black bloccers are white power boogalo agitators or secret policemen or looters-of-opportunity; there is no way to know which ones are and which ones aren’t. You would have to eliminate them all within the first minute or two of them showing up in order to be sure of getting the false-flag hidden-hand black-advance operators among them. You would have to eliminate them so fast that not even one of them would even have time to draw police fire.

  17. John

    “Intriguing, but where do the billionaires fit in?” The billionaires own the warlords. One never knows when a little muscle might come in handy.

    1. Wukchumni

      Once the shooting starts in earnest, the usual rabble that thought their hand cannons will keep them safe will realize they need to sleep and it’s difficult to get a bead on the bad guise when you’re catching 40 winks.

      This will bring on the first ad hoc warlords, small time affairs encompassing initially just a number of participants, but they’ll grow in size as events play out.

      I doubt the illionaires will have much impact, as guns are if anything the only egalitarian thing we have going in this sorry excuse for a democracy, right?

  18. Darius

    As a confirmed scatter-brain, I would welcome a video game for adults with ADHD. Or any kind of fun way to waste time that has actual benefits. This would alleviate my guilt over all the time I waste to no productive purpose.

  19. martell

    Interesting development regarding the Wall of Moms (WOM):


    The white female administrators of WOM all resigned last week in favor of black women, on the grounds that white women can play no leading roles in an organization opposed to anti-black racism. To fill the void, WOM reached out to a partner organization: Don’t Shoot Portland. The founder and executive director of the latter, Teressa Raiford, became one of the new WOM admins. Raiford, incidentally, recently ran for Portland mayor and lost in the primary, coming in third with about 8% of the vote.

    But the new arrangement didn’t last long. Just this week, Don’t Shoot Portland announced that it is no longer working with WOM due to WOM’s “anti-Blackness.” They accuse WOM of disregarding the safety of black moms at protests, and they suggest that the focus of WOM was on removal of federal agents instead opposing racism. Another major problem: the founder of WOM, a white woman, filed for 501c3 status without the knowledge or consent of the new black leadership. In the wake of these developments, a new group has formed: Moms United for Black Lives.

    1. Mr. House

      These groups can’t even do solidarity right, that’ll create some change in the system.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        These groups don’t even want solidarity, least of all the Social Justice Warriors.

        An alliance is two way. If you want somebody to be your Ally, but you don’t want to be their equal and reciprocal Ally right back; you don’t want an Alliance. You want a Domination-Submission relationship.

  20. ambrit

    I just ‘got’ Lambert’s krill references from yesterday’s Water Cooler!
    He’s saying that he is a ‘Blue State Whale,’ filtering the rich soup of infobytes from out the Sea of Inter Nets. He has the necessary neurological baleen to sieve the Phaque Newts out, and the Salamanders in, so as to supply the requisite ‘fire in the belly’ that successful politicos need to ‘progress.’
    I feel so, ordinary. (But, hey! What’s wrong with that?)

    1. The Rev Kev

      I have always been personally encouraged by the saying that the mediocre are always at their best.

      1. ambrit

        s/ Thank you for ‘validating’ my pain. /s (It is actually much more nuanced than that, but you get my drift.)
        I have always been partial to the very obscure ancient Grek “Myth of Sisi.” For some unknown infraction, (the unknowing part is emphasized in the original,) Sisi, a distant cousin of Sisyphus, is condemned to roll a big boulder up a hill, but stops half way up to “do lunch.” Lunch is always interrupted by that pesky boulder rolling back down the hill. After finishing lunch, Sisi decides to try again tomorrow.
        An alternate version of the myth has the act of rolling the boulder up the hill being payment for yesterday’s lunch.
        Got to love those Greks!

        1. The Rev Kev

          The ancient Greeks had a wealth of such stories on dealing with hopelessness, pain, unrequited love, trickery, hubris, etc. to talk about the human condition. Here in the 21st century, Sisi’s modern counterpart just gets a job in an Amazon fulfillment center. Sisi never had to strap a pee bag to his leg.

          1. ambrit

            Oh, I am not convinced. My view of the situation is that Sisi has to take the job of emptying the pee bags and attaching replacement bags for the Amazon warehouse workers, during their “working breaks,” (for reasons of efficiency, of course,) to pay off his/her student loans.
            In the “myth,” Sisi is an independent actor. In the Amazon “reality,” Sisi is de facto indentured.
            Try as I might, I have yet to find a reference to the vaguely remembered collateral “Myth of Phus.” It concerns the poor sod who has to make certain that the returning boulder doesn’t destroy the Temple of Dionysus nestled at the foot of the hill. I imagine that many of the ‘denizens’ of this and likewise sites will empathize with Phus. We all are going to be very busy in the upcoming years trying to salvage something worthwhile from the coming wreck.

  21. JWP

    On the medium piece:
    While not directly related to the protest damage part, the ineffectiveness of protests relates to this, The Oregonian ran a story about the Wall of Moms being disbanded for being “anti-black” because they failed to protect black moms and did not consult BLM groups in their 501c filing. I fail to see how peacefully protecting BLM protestors at the federal building matches their reasoning.


    How could any progress be made if everything has to be vetted to conform to PC standards? I hope the movement shifts to the economic underpinnings of all the injustices and links up with striking workers and eviction protestors over it. Until then cancel culture will drive the whole movement into the ground

    But by all means elect and support an overt sexual predator and staunch supporter of racist policing and justice systems.

  22. VietnamVet

    Planning for 2021 is impossible. Anything could happen. Donald Trump is dumb. The Democrats are dumber. “white House”, I think, is what Matt Taibbi and Glen Greenwald are trying to point out about authoritarian corporate “woke” group think. Even dumber is Nancy Pelosi not requiring regular coronavirus testing and “pod” isolation. The US House of Representatives and the MBL’s Miami Marlins blown reopening have much in common.

    Business and corporate Democrats have thrown Americans to the wolves. The Pharmaceutical Industry is being gifted billions of dollars for a jackpot for-profit vaccine or treatment. There is no national public health system in place or planned that tests workers and students with quick cheap antigen tests, conducts contact tracing, and manages safe isolation centers. Costing billions, this would eventually control the virus.

    If no effective vaccine or treatment is developed hundreds of thousands more Americans will die. Unrest will explode. A horrendous gamble ignored by corporate media and the top 10%. Essential workers, the elderly and convicts are dying because of the choice to digitally transfer 4 trillion dollars to Wall Street but not to restore the public health service.

    On the other hand, the Wuhan coronavirus could mutate into a less deadly fifth common cold insuring its continuing reproduction as long as humans inhabit earth.

  23. grayslady

    AM, it’s such fun to see the garden you inherited with your house. Whoever lived there before you was a keen gardener, willing to experiment. Personally, I have never had the patience to grow biennials (other than parsley), but you have a beautiful pink Digitalis (a biennial) just beyond the pink roses. They are supposed to re-seed themselves, so if you like Digitalis (I do), just leave it alone. I also notice another planting of daylilies underneath the tree, a clump of perennial geraniums just beyond the rose (it looks like one of those where the leaves turn red in the fall), a bearded iris to the left of the yucca, and, on the left side beyond the yucca, a nice clump of yellow Coreopsis. What a lovely garden in which to sit and forget about the outside world. Lucky you!

  24. John Steinbach

    “ICE Agents Complain About Nazi Comparisons, Say They’re Only Enforcing the Laws” Still looking for The Onion by-line

  25. anon in so cal

    >Wall of Moms

    Lee Fang tweeted about this today.

    “Portland’s Wall of Moms crumbles amid online allegations by former partner, Don’t Shoot PDX”

    “Portland Wall of Moms, a group formed in recent weeks and quickly recognized as a staple of nightly downtown protests, was accused publicly Wednesday of “anti-Blackness” by leaders of an existing, Black-led community group.

    Wall of Moms, whose members said they aimed to support and protect other Black Lives Matter protesters near the fence in front of the federal courthouse, announced Friday that its white leadership had rescinded their positions to allow women of color to be in charge. New leaders announced Friday include Teressa Raiford, executive director of Don’t Shoot Portland, Demetria Hester and Danialle James.”

    (apologies if this was already posted)



    The pollster previously mentioned on this site, who accurately predicted 2016, tweeted this out:


    1. ambrit

      The ‘Wall of Moms’ situation comes across as a “Battle of the Woke Kaiju.”
      Divide and conquer, the eternal verity in politics.

  26. allan

    Turning Point USA co-founder dies of coronavirus-related complications [Politico]

    The co-founder of conservative student group Turning Point USA, Bill Montgomery, has died from complications of the coronavirus, according to two friends of his.

    Montgomery, who started it in 2012 with young conservative star Charlie Kirk, died at the age of 80 on Tuesday from Covid-19 …

    Over the course of the pandemic, Turning Point USA representatives have downplayed the impact of the coronavirus on public life. …

    “[E]very single time I go into one of these grocery stores, ‘Where’s your mask?’ I say, well first of all, the science around masks is very questionable, very questionable,” [Kirk] said. “In fact some people, some doctors think that masks actually make you sicker and have you less likely to be able to get oxygen and more likely to infect yourself, and less likely to be able to fight the virus, and actually more likely to be able to die sooner. …

    In this evening’s elevator to Galt’s Gulch in the Sky, social distancing will be difficult.

  27. SlayTheSmaugs

    The billionaires are visible if the weak state paragraph is rephrased:

    Billionaires (and hundreds millionaires) weaken the state by using their money to influence elections and legislation to privatize basic services such as education and health. Public facilities decline. Infrastructure, including schools and hospitals, shows signs of neglect…Journalists and civil society activists are harassed. Tensions among ethnic, religious, or linguistic groups increase, but widespread violence does not erupt—yet.

  28. Tom Walsh

    I was not going to post on the Minneapolis insurrection, but here goes.

    Minneapolis and Saint Paul are really large villages. Anybody politically aware, with friends, and here a long time, can figure out what is going on. A bit like the old USSR, there are many “known secrets”.

    Yes, the police (meaning the police union, their official gang name) started this off deliberately on that Wednesday night. It just got out of hand and scared the real city and state powers. (I sometimes think that the police have secret lectures: “How to turn a demo into a riot”.)

    So far as I recall, Wednesday there was not much going on in black north Minneapolis or in the black fringe of the old Rondo in Saint Paul. What happened then and later was along Lake Street in Minneapolis and University avenue in Midway Saint Paul. It grew into a major violent insurrection Thursday and Friday. Why?

    These two areas were once poor white working class, the deplorables of 1950. Many small single family houses, now many rentals. (I know people who live there now or grew up there, in Midway or south of Lake Street.) these areas are now full of poor mixed race and often unemployed young people–neither just black or just white. I watched the streaming videos of events with some amazement when I realized this. They have lots of sympathizers, across race and even class lines. That is why I think of this as a social insurrection, not a riot. George Floyd’s murder was the spark.

    The bad? Nobody Thursday or Friday night seemed to care that they were accompanied by arsonists and criminals. Those were real. My wife and I both came across what I think of as “looter autos” without license plates, two occupied and one abandoned. My local pharmacy and an acquaintances’ store were looted, one burned. Insurrections sometimes have really bad outliers.

    The real powers here did in time bring in the National Guard and calmed the police gang a bit. At least for now.

    1. Carolinian

      Since you are on the scene, did the Mayor or other city officials tell the police to stand down? Who made these decisions and can we automatically assume it was some kind of police strike? I’ve read that the burning was out of control because the fire department refused to respond for fear for their own safety.

      Maybe some news outfit needs to produce a “tic toc” or maybe they already have.

  29. allan

    How Jared Kushner’s Secret Testing Plan “Went Poof Into Thin Air” [Vanity Fair]

    … Countries that have successfully contained their outbreaks have empowered scientists to lead the response. But when Jared Kushner set out in March to solve the diagnostic-testing crisis, his efforts began not with public health experts but with bankers and billionaires. They saw themselves as the “A-team of people who get shit done,” as one participant proclaimed in a March Politico article.

    Kushner’s brain trust included Adam Boehler, his summer college roommate who now serves as chief executive officer of the newly created U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, a government development bank that makes loans overseas. Other group members included Nat Turner, the cofounder and CEO of Flatiron Health, which works to improve cancer treatment and research.

    A Morgan Stanley banker with no notable health care experience, Jason Yeung took a leave of absence to join the task force. Along the way, the group reached out for advice to billionaires, such as Silicon Valley investor Marc Andreessen. …

    A $52 million invoice from the UAE for defective test kits makes a cameo appearance.
    It turns out that reagents need to be kept refrigerated. Who knew?

    1. John Anthony La Pietra

      Sounds like an instance of my favorite corollary of Murphy’s Law: “Nothing can be made foolproof because fools are too ingenious.”

  30. Jason Boxman

    These riot destruction photos remind me of a town I stopped to photograph while traveling north through rural Georgia back in 2011. Virtually every single structure in the vicinity of the off-ramp from the interstate was partially or complete destroyed, by a tornado.

    A gas station was just twisted wreckage of pumps. Half the McDonalds was missing. A Red Roof inn (or similar) that must have had a 100 rooms, multiple stories, had partially collapsed in on itself. You could see inside of the rooms, both stories of the building. I’d liken it to a war-zone.

    And that’s what these photos remind me of.

  31. Basil Pesto

    As an Australian, the seed story is kinda astonishing to me. In the sense that, if some unlabelled renegade seeds showed up in ports here, they’d be incinerated post-haste

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