2:00PM Water Cooler 8/17/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart from 91-DIVOC. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. Here are the four United States regions, plus US data. Today

Today, I thought I’d look at the Midwest: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin:

“Navajo Nation turns the corner on coronavirus” [ABC]. “The Navajo community suffered one of the highest COVID-19 infection rates per capita in the country just three months ago but with the implementation of strict public health measures such as curfews and mandatory mask-wearing, Navajo Nation has curbed the spread of coronavirus…. In addition to having 57 weekend curfews, tribal governments are working to improve access to water for many residents by allocating funds from the CARES Act into the community to get needed infrastructure.”

CA: “California under counted COVID-19 cases after certificate expired” [SC Magazine]. “Beginning July 31, an expired certificate kept California’s centralized reporting system from receiving data from Quest, one of the labs doing COVID-19 testing in the state. That incident followed a glitch caused by a temporary patch applied after a server outage in the centralized system…. California Governor Gavin Newsom said in a press conference that California was relying on ‘databases that were never made for the world we live in’ and pledged to address what he called ‘foundational data issues.'”

GA: “Coronavirus spread in Georgia is ‘widespread and expanding,’ says report on leaked WH warning” [NBC]. “The number of coronavirus cases in Georgia shot up to nearly 235,200 on Saturday, making it the fifth-highest after California, Florida, Texas and New York…. Against this backdrop, the state reopened many of its schools for in-person learning. In Cherokee County, where students returned to school last week, there are now at least 110 confirmed coronavirus cases, resulting in over 1,600 students and staff in quarantine… Georgia reported its youngest coronavirus fatality, a 7-year-old boy, as schools were reopening last week. On Saturday, a 15-year-old became the second-youngest person reported to have died from COVID-19 in the state. Both boys had no underlying health conditions, according to the state Department of Public Health.”

IA: “How an Iowa summer resort region became a Covid-19 hot spot” [Vox]. See the image in the header: Always the [family blogging] beaches — complete with prurient telephoto of scantily clad youth — when it’s the bars, the rooms, the parties, the after-parties and closed, crowded, close-contact spaces that are the problem. The same dynamic happened with resorts earlier in the crisis. Good round-up, though.

TN: “Schools can stay open until coronavirus positivity rate hits 25%, Shelby County health department says” [Chalkbeat]. “While Shelby County’s guidelines mean that coronavirus infection rates would have to get a lot worse before the health department urges school buildings shut, the majority of students in the county won’t be returning to campuses just yet. That’s because Shelby County Schools is scheduled to begin online Aug. 31 and remain virtual until further notice. The district has not yet indicated what coronavirus case numbers would signal a safe return to school buildings or what would prompt recurring closures. Some local charter schools, private schools, and suburban districts have already begun in-person learning or are planning to do so later this month.”

TX: “COVID’s true toll in Texas is higher than reported, data shows” [Houston Chronicle]. “Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in Texas, the state’s death toll from all causes has soared by thousands above historical averages — a sobering spike that experts say reveals the true toll of the disease. Between the beginning of the local pandemic and the end of July, 95,000 deaths were reported in Texas, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control data. Based on historical mortality records and predictive modeling, government epidemiologists would have expected to see about 82,500 deaths during that time. The CDC attributed more than 7,100 deaths to COVID-19, but that leaves roughly 5,500 more than expected and with no identified tie to the pandemic. The CDC’s chief of mortality, Dr. Bob Anderson, said these “excess deaths” are likely from a range of pandemic-related problems, including misclassifications because doctors did not initially understand the many ways that COVID-19 affects the circulatory system and results in a stroke or a heart attack.” • This is the number I would like to track nationally; I wish 91-DIVOC had it, but of course there’s no standard way of collecting this data either.

And a wrap up of stories, probably skimming the surface, internationally: Canada (Toronto, strip club, 550 exposures), Ireland (spike, “deeply concerning”), Hong Kong (new cases, 45), and Italy (youth). And in the states: Georgia (Cherokee HS, 500 exposures), Indiana (Notre Dame, “spike”), North Carolina (UNC, Sigma Nu, “clusters”). And college generally:

Of course, it’s not like we give them a lot to live for…


“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. August 10: 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): “Barack Obama reportedly said: ‘Don’t underestimate Joe’s ability to f… things up'” [The Telegraph]. “In his book Ben Rhodes, Mr Obama’s former deputy national security adviser, wrote that ‘in the Situation Room, Biden could be something of an unguided missile.'” • The headline is better than the original Political headline, but the Rhodes quote is new. I seem to recall that most of the books from Obama Alumni Association members have similar quotes.

Biden (D)(2): “Wall Street’s Big Money Is Betting On Biden And Democrats In 2020” [NPR]. “For the first time in a decade, deep-pocketed donors from the halls of finance are giving more money to Democrats than Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a research group that tracks money in politics.” • Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think Wall Street backed FDR. At all.

UPDATE Biden (D)(3): “This is the future Joe Biden wants” [Vox]. “Johns Hopkins political science professor Daniel Schlozman, who has studied the ways labor unions and other social movements influenced Roosevelt’s presidency, describes Biden as, like FDR, someone “notably aware of the influence of various organized groups and the strength and intensity of their preferences rather than someone with very deeply held views of his own on most policy questions.” • Those “other social movements” included sitdown strikes, the CIO and an actual, functioning Communist Party (which did a lot of work combatting segregation in the South). In other words, if “the left” wants to get Biden’s attention, that’s how militant they’ll have to be. That’s why I liked Sara Nelson’s suggestion of a general strike on Election day. More: “What Biden would do, [advisor Ben] Harris explained, is leverage his relationships in the Senate to pass his agenda with bipartisan support. ‘I’ve spent a lot of time in the vice president’s office when he was vice president. I sat there when he called Democratic members, and I sat there when he called Republican members,’ Harris recalled. ‘That’s what happens when you spend so many decades in the Senate is you build these friendships and you build these relationships and you build this credibility.'” • In The People, No, Thomas Frank describes Biden’s strategy as follows:

[In Hofstadter’s view] when reform came from the bottom up, in other words, it was moralistic, demagogic, irrational, bigoted, and futile. When reform was made by practical, business-minded professionals — meaning lobbyists and experts who were comfortable with the company of lobbyists and experts from other groups — prosperity was the result.

(We call these people “the adults in the room,” and they gather round “the table.”) In other words, “fundamentally nothing would change.”

UPDATE Biden (D)(4): “Biden eyes inroads with evangelical voters” [The Hill]. “Team Biden doesn’t think it can win over all evangelicals or even a majority, but it does think it can slice off some of them from Trump’s coalition by emphasizing the former vice president’s personal faith and values. At the Democratic National Convention, Biden’s campaign will hold an interfaith service on Aug. 16, and a Believers for Biden watch party ahead of the candidate’s acceptance speech is set for Aug. 20, according to a Biden adviser.” • I think this falls under the heading of “measuring the drapes.”

Trump (R)(1): “Why Trump Should Accept His Nomination At Gettysburg” [The American Conservative]. “It would be a ‘stunt’ in some sense, and certain members of the media will be sure to pillory the president for it. There is a performative element to all politics—especially good politics. But it would not be merely a stunt: what happened at Gettysburg—what makes the place so sacred—is not devoid of politics, nor even of political implications for the present day. There is a right way to go about a battlefield acceptance speech, one that honors the memory of the men who died there and looks at our world honestly through their eyes. He should go to Gettysburg not in spite of its sacredness but because of it. A Gettysburg performance is almost certain to be deeper, more dramatic, more persuasive than any speech in any stadium, precisely because, in connecting our present to our past, it could elevate our temporal politics to the seriousness rightly due them.”

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“CNN Poll: Biden and Trump matchup tightens as enthusiasm hits new high” [CNN]. “Overall, 50% of registered voters back the Biden-Harris ticket, while 46% say they support Trump and Pence, right at the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.” • Only one poll!

“Wasserman Schultz accused of assaulting minor during early voting” [The Floridian]. “Attorney Jen Perelman tweeted out that her volunteer, Martina Velasquez, 16, was ‘physically shoved’ and ‘verbally accosted’ by Rep. Wasserman Schultz for questioning her ‘record on the environment while passing out campaign literature.” • DWS could not be reached for comment.

Democratic National Convention

“The Official 2020 Democratic National Convention Drinking Game” [Matt Taibbi]. “Turn on your TV to CNN or MSNBC right now. The odds aren’t bad – I’d put them at 7-2 – that the word ‘historic’ is in the chryon. You will hear this word five thousand times, at minimum, per day of convention coverage. Out of respect for human life, you’ll therefore be asked to drink to ‘history’ or ‘historic’ only when uttered by actual convention speakers. I hope readers understand, without it being included on the list, that any mention of ‘Malarkey’ is an automatic drink.”

“Here’s What To Expect At The 2020 Democratic National Convention” [HuffPo]. “The main events will be aired from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET on each of the four nights, although there will also be daytime events starting at 9 a.m. … “The message we aim to deliver is simple,” DNC program executive Stephanie Cutter said in a statement. ‘Joe Biden is the steady, compassionate and experienced leader America needs right now to bring us together and steer our nation out of Trump’s crises and constant chaos and build a better future for all.'” • I ge en i ge en nu ge en nu ge en us sa tur ra lu ra…

“A Viewers’ Guide to the Democratic National Convention: Monday” [Bloomberg]. “All major broadcast networks will air an hour of convention coverage each night from 10 to 11 p.m. EST and cable news channels will showcase the full two-hour programs. No cable? No problem. The events will be livestreamed by the DNC at DemConvention.com, and YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Twitch, Amazon Prime Video, Microsoft Bing, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Roku TV.”

“Eyes turn to Ocasio-Cortez as she seeks to boost Biden” [The Hill]. • In a video that lasts all of one minute? As usual, the DNC is completely in touch with the electorate:

“Why John Kasich, Lifelong Republican, Is Helping Launch Joe Biden’s Democratic Party” [Buzzfeed]. Kasich: “I listen to people all the time make these statements, and because AOC gets outsized publicity doesn’t mean she represents the Democratic Party. She’s just a part, just some member of it.” • Off to a good start!

UPDATE “Bernie Sanders on How He’ll Rally Progressives Tonight” [The Nation]. Sanders: “What we have got to be talking about, Roosevelt said in 1944, is that economic rights are human rights, and that means you are entitled, as an American, to decent housing, to decent health care, to a decent job, to a decent retirement. Economic rights are human rights, and you’re not going to be a really free person unless we guarantee those rights. That was an extraordinarily profound statement! What I tried to do in the 2020 campaign is talk about Roosevelt’s 1944 speech and how we make it relevant to the year 2020.” • It would be nice if Biden believed that. More Sanders: “My view is that after we elect Biden, what we’re going to do is everything that we possibly can to move his administration in a progressive direction. Biden has told me, and I would not say it if he hadn’t made the same statement publicly, that he intends to be the most progressive president since FDR. That’s a noble ambition, and our job is to hold him to that goal. I think millions of people are prepared to do that.” • “[T]he most progressive president since” is doing a lot of work, there.

UPDATE “I Asked Bernie Sanders if It Was All Over. ‘No,’ He Groaned.” [Elizabeth Bruenig, New York Times]. “The first prong, Mr. Sanders explained, is to focus on electing Mr. Biden — because the alternative is Mr. Trump, whose regime could, in Mr. Sanders’ view, endanger the progressive cause in ways far more damaging than one led by moderate Democrats. ‘This is a guy who believes in voter suppression,’ he said of Mr. Trump. ‘We are fighting for American democracy — for whether we have free elections in this country, or whether you will have an antidemocratic pathological liar running this country. On this issue, there can be not one doubt.’… ‘Now, the day after Biden is elected, we have got to mobilize and organize all over this country to make sure that Biden becomes as progressive a president as is possible, that Democrats control the Senate and the House, and that we can put sufficient pressure on Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to carry out a progressive agenda.'” • I understand the logic, but I’m not sure where the pressure comes from; see my comment on Biden-as-FDR above.

Health Care

“Dems Begin Signaling A Post-Election Surrender On Health Care” [David Sirota, Too Much Information]. “The Partnership for America’s Health Care Future (PAHCF) — a front group created by health insurance, pharmaceutical and hospital lobbying groups to oppose ‘Medicare for All’ — announced on Friday that it is launching a new national ad campaign to persuade Democrats to abandon their plans to create a public health insurance plan. The group said it will run ads during the Democratic National Convention (DNC) this week. PAHCF is led by a former Hillary Clinton aide and run out of the offices of a D.C. lobbying firm led by former top Democratic congressional aides…. Within 24 hours of the launch of the industry’s new ads, however, anonymous Democratic congressional sources were telling The Hill that Democrats likely won’t bother with the public option fight next year if Biden wins the election…. To justify the preemptive retreat, Democratic congressional aides told the newspaper that the party’s moderate crop of 2020 Senate challenger candidates could make it harder to pass a public option.” • And who selected those challengers? Little elves?

Obama Legacy

“It’s Not Symbolism; It’s Our Vanity” [Irami Osei-Frimpong, Medium]. “Obama’s election and Harris’s selection are expressions that your race, gender, or religion shouldn’t stop you from doing what you want to do, regardless of whether or how you change anything about the objective world, even if the job is literally securing justice in the objective world…. This is why nobody is going to hold them accountable for their objective record. It’s because what Obama ran on and Harris is running on, in a deep way, is the freedom from being accountable to objective records…. [Obama’s] job wasn’t the change the objective conditions of the world; his job to validate the subjective aspirations of the many through validating the subjective aspirations of himself. It was the ultimate vanity run, pitched to a people who wanted to legitimize their own lives of vanity, which is why I’m not surprised that it led to the election of a reality star President successor.” • Interesting framing. Well worth a read.

“Barack and the beach house: Longtime friend ‘builds Obama’s multi-million dollar Hawaii ocean villa using loopholes to bypass coastal protection laws’ on site made famous by TV show Magnum PI” [Daily Mail]. “[A loophole] allowed the sellers of the property to obtain an easement on the seawall for a one-time payment of $61,400 before it was sold in 2015, according to ProPublica… The developers of the property are now reportedly pursuing an expansion of the seawall – angering community members who point out that the existing beach along the property has nearly disappeared, and who view Obama as a proponent of environmental sustainability.” • For a community organizer, Obama certainly does have a knack for offending the locals….

2016 Post Mortem

“Hillary Clinton says she’s ‘ready’ to serve in a Biden administration: Former Secretary of State and defeated 2016 candidate hints at a return to D.C. and ‘wants to help fix the US'” [Daily Mail]. Clinton: “I’m ready to help in any way I can because I think this will be a moment where every American – I don’t care what party you are, I don’t care what age, race, gender, I don’t care – every American should want to fix our country.” • I am sure some ways Clinton can help will be suggested.


“”Gosh Almighty”: Democrats Call to End Durham Investigation Despite Proven Criminal Conduct” [Jonathan Turley]. “With news of the criminal plea by Clinesmith, one might expect the media and our members of Congress to demand the same vigorous investigation from Durham as they did from Mueller. The collusion allegations that were noted to launch the Russia investigation were after all ultimately rejected. Durham is by contrast investigating the bias and misconduct. So we have a collusion investigation that was shown to be based on false or unreliable information. It was launched and maintained by officials who were accused by an inspector general of misconduct, false statements, or procedural errors. Today we have the actual criminal guilty plea. However, many voices in Washington continue to insist that there are no reasons for Durham to continue digging. As Biden says, ‘Gosh almighty.'”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Anti-Despair Economics” [City Journal]. “Trump’s deregulatory agenda has disproportionately benefited families with below-average incomes. Strangely, Case and Deaton seem not to recognize that the current president not only agrees that socialism is not the solution but is also implementing a policy agenda that resembles recommendations they make in their book.” • I don’t have much sympathy for the author’s ideology, but I think the fact of the article is itself interesting, and it’s worth reading for that reason. I mean, if the Democrats don’t want the working class in their base, why shouldn’t the Republicans make their play for it?

“TRUTH Always Wins: Dispatches from the Information War” (PDF) [Sarah Hartman-Caverly (RC)]. From the abstract: “The composition features three interwoven strands presenting three levels of analysis: an interpretive ethnography of the conspiracy, a critical discourse analysis and critique of contemporary news media, and a confessional tale reflecting on the allure of conspiracies, intellectual taboos, cognitive biases, epistemic choice-making, intellectual humility, and the elusiveness of truth.” An excerpt: “Participants in the QAnon Storm conspiracy community engage with a broad range of information sources, using sophisticated techniques to synthesize and communicate their findings. In any given thread one can find links to stories from multiple establishment newspapers of record, clips from broadcast and cable news, SEC filings and public records of financial transactions, government re- ports, statutes and regulations, patents, academic papers, live hearings, interviews and expert witness testimonies, indictments and other court filings, sacred texts and esoterica—just to name a few. Pursuant to the themes of the conspiracy, anons collaboratively maintain a deep time line of political intrigue, compile lists of newsworthy resignations in the public and private sectors, follow law enforcement actions to thwart human trafficking, track the purchase and sale of stock by executives at major corporations, and count sealed federal indictments. Diggers take deep dives into the public record to report back biographical and historical findings of note, some draw network maps and time lines of associations between entities and events of interest, anons with coding skills develop post aggregators and searchable dashboards,15 and those with talent in digital artistry design imag- es and iconography for memes. Claims posted without supporting information are flagged as opinions or met with demands for ‘sauce,’ wordplay for source.” • From the perspective of library science.

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.

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Retail: “Ganni and Levi’s Release Rental Denim Collection” [Teen Vogue]. “The ‘low-impact, rental-only‘ collection is intended to be ‘a love letter to great denim’ and spotlights how ‘sharing denim that gets better over time’ could be an option. ‘Ganni was the perfect partner to bring this upcycled rental collection to life. Our mutual love for denim and desire to creatively reconstruct vintage 501’s was an incredible jumping off point,’ Karyn Hillman, chief product officer at Levi’s said about the joint venture.” • Rental jeans. Gad.

Shipping: “The Hidden World of the LCL Consolidation Market – Part II” [Maritime Executive]. “The challenge for any consolidator in building any new LCL trade lane between two port pairs is getting a baseload volume or anchor customer. A baseload volume or anchor customer is shipment volume that a forwarder or consolidator can rely on through thick and thin, rain or shine to arrive at the container freight station for loading on a daily or weekly basis. The easiest way to do this is to focus on clients that can offer stable, regular volumes on a certain port pair and to get them committed on long term contracts at below market rates. Once such volume has been secured, the service can now begin as a regular business, albeit an unprofitable lane. The next phase is to get other clients to join on this regular baseload at margins that push the consolidation box into profitability. For most port-pairs, it’s a huge challenge getting regular volumes from one port to another if either port is not a transhipment hub. The easiest way is to route their cargo via such hubs instead. The growth to a mature LCL service is to provide a direct connection bypassing the hub altogether.”

Shipping: “Cheap delivery options for U.S. shippers during the holidays are drying up. The U.S. Postal Service plans to add surcharges for commercial packages starting in October… joining the private carriers in taking action to offset the increased expenses from the pandemic’s impact and a projected peak-season surge in volume from online shoppers” [Wall Street Journal]. “It’s the first time the USPS has implemented surcharges over the holidays, leaving sellers with a dilemma over whether to pass the increases on consumers and risk crimping an important revenue source amid the broader retail-sector upheaval.”

Tech: “Instagram faces lawsuit over illegal harvesting of biometric data” [Fortune]. “In the new lawsuit, filed Monday in state court in Redwood City, California, the company is accused of collecting, storing and profiting from the biometric data of more than 100 million Instagram users, without their knowledge or consent. ‘This suit is baseless,’ Stephanie Otway, a Facebook company spokesperson, said in an emailed statement. ‘Instagram doesn’t use face recognition technology.'”

Instagram faces lawsuit over illegal harvesting of biometric data Fortune. What, not TikTok?

Tech: “A college kid’s fake, AI-generated blog fooled tens of thousands. This is how he made it.” [Technology Review]. “At the start of the week, Liam Porr had only heard of GPT-3. By the end, the college student had used the AI model to produce an entirely fake blog under a fake name. It was meant as a fun experiment. But then one of his posts reached the number-one spot on Hacker News. Few people noticed that his blog was completely AI-generated. Some even hit “Subscribe.”.. GPT-3 is OpenAI’s latest and largest language AI model, which the San Francisco–based research lab began drip-feeding out in mid-July. In February of last year… Porr says he wanted to prove that GPT-3 could be passed off as a human writer. Indeed, despite the algorithm’s somewhat weird writing pattern and occasional errors, only three or four of the dozens of people who commented on his top post on Hacker News raised suspicions that it might have been generated by an algorithm. All those comments were immediately downvoted by other community members.” • Kill it with fire.

Supply Chain: “Piecing together a pandemic-era supply chain has become largely guesswork for retailers. Home Depot Inc. says the usual measures it uses to forecast sales are out the window… leaving the home improvement giant whipsawed by rapid changes in consumer buying patterns that are often running strongly against the company’s assumptions” [Wall Street Journal]. “Home Depot has been a winner in the retail-sector upheaval. Americans stuck at home have turned to home improvement projects and used their government stimulus checks to fund the work, highlighting how the pandemic has boosted parts of the retail landscape while it has battered other parts. But even the winners have had to abandon pre-pandemic business models, dropping systems that had been refined over years to forecast demand or track consumer trends. And uncertainty abounds for the survivors, along with the higher costs that have come with the turn toward e-commerce.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 70 Greed (previous close: 72 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 74 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 17 at 11:27am.

Rapture Index: Closes even on Earthquakes, Beast Government [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 182. (Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing.)

The Biosphere

“Millions of Beetles Are Wiping Out Forests All Across the World” [Bloomberg]. “A plague of tiny mountain pine beetles, no bigger than a grain of rice, has already destroyed 15 years of log supplies in British Columbia, enough trees to build 9 million single-family homes, and are chewing through forests in Alberta and the Pacific Northwest. Now, an outbreak of spruce beetles is threatening to devour even more trees in North America just as similar pests are decimating supplies in parts of Europe, creating a glut of dead and dying logs. The bugs are thriving as climate change warms winters that would normally keep them at bay, destroying a swath of the world’s timber supplies.”

“Arecibo Observatory damaged by broken lashing cable” [EarthSky]. “One of the auxiliary cables that helps support the receiver platform in place above the famous Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico broke on Monday, August 10, 2020, causing a 100-foot-long (30-meter-long) gash on the southeast side of the 1,000-foot (305-meter) reflector dish. According to the University of Central Florida (UFC), which manages the National Science Foundation facility, the three-inch cable also damaged about six to eight panels in the Gregorian Dome, an antenna receiver on the platform. It is not yet clear what caused the cable to break…. The new damage to Arecibo, caused by the heavy cable, happened while repairs from Hurricane Maria (2017) were still ongoing… Among many contributions to science, the facility helps in the analysis of Near-Earth Objects, playing an important role in defending our planet from asteroid strikes.”

“The Great Truffle Discovery” [Modern Farmer]. “[Dan Luoma’s] serendipitous discovery back in 1981 was brought back to Oregon State University where his mentor James Trappe and other fungi experts were unable to identify the truffle. It sat in the school’s collection for decades, but with the help of new DNA sequencing technology and a team of mycologists who analyzed the truffle over the past 12 years, Luoma’s truffle was recently identified as a new species—Tuber luomae.”

Health Care

“What if ‘Herd Immunity’ Is Closer Than Scientists Thought?” [New York Times]. Key sentence: ” The new models offer food for thought, he and other experts said, but should not be used to set policy.”

“Distribution strategies for possible Covid-19 vaccines in the U.S. are starting to take shape. Government officials say they will tap McKesson Corp. as the main distributor of vaccines nationwide should the shots prove to work safely… as they try to take advantage of the existing infrastructure of one of the world’s largest drug wholesalers and the biggest vaccine middleman in the U.S.” [Wall Street Journal]. “The federal government has struck deals with vaccine makers to secure hundreds of millions of doses, in addition to taking steps to guarantee supplies of vials and syringes. The collaboration with McKesson is the first major step toward determining how the shots would be distributed from manufacturing plants and where Americans will need to go to receive them. Officials clearly aren’t anxious to build an entirely new supply chain: McKesson already distributes up to 150 million doses of all vaccines annually.” • Not insane.


“Shitty Waterfall In Dumbass Game Doesn’t Even Have Stupid Cave Behind It” [The Hard Times]. “MODESTO, Calif. — Local gamer Ryan Aguirre discovered that, against all odds, the goddamn waterfall his character spotted from across the map in a video game did not, in fact, have a fucking cave behind it, according to close sources.”

News of the Wired

“This Case Gives Your Phone Robotic Legs So It Can Crawl to a Wireless Charging Pad” [Gizmodo]. • And when you see one, you know there are more…

Abandoned North Dakota:

And in the same genre, abandoned America:

I wouldn’t call these photos “ruin porn,” because the photos are beautiful, and true.

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

JK writes: “Caught a bee by the green onion bloom with the tomato bed blurred in the background.”

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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. flora

      But, but, the Clintons know where a lot of the bodies are buried (in the figuative sense). Keeping those buried is the main thing, dont’cha know. Why else have Sally Yates speak at the convention? / ;)

      1. foghorn longhorn

        Looks like bill was laid low by the epsteinovirus, not sure what it will take for hils.
        The garlic, silver bullet and wooden stake have all failed.

        1. jr

          Good thing for her she has a ghost writer concocting a fantasy biography in which she dumps Bill early on instead of marching shoulder to shoulder with him for years as he flew on the Lolita Express in Degenerate Class:


          I’m waiting for this to come up in conversation. “Oh you know she never wanted to stay with him. She did it for Chelsea, or because she knew she could do more good that way, or because she feared the political blowback.” Things that humanize her.

          1. km

            [expletive deleted familyblog], HRC would never have been elected county dogcatcher, were it not for her association with Bill.

            Thought experiment (alchemy, perhaps): suppose some random woman with comparable education and background had moved to New York State in 2000 and demanded that Nita Lowey step aside so that this random female could run for the Senate on the Team D ticket, without having to stoop to the indignity of enduring a primary contest or anything like that?

            How long would it take for the peals of hysterical laughter to subside? How likely do you think it would be that this random would actually win the Team D primary?

            That’s but one example. Go back a few years to Arkansas. Does anyone in their right mind think that Wal Mart would appoint some woman of no particular experience or expertise to their board, if she didn’t happen to be married to the Governor of the State? For that matter, The Rose Law Firm wouldn’t have given the time of day to some woman who showed up after flunking the DC Bar (which also doesn’t exactly show a commitment to practicing in Arkansas) and who had some ethics concerns from her work on Watergate.

            1. russell1200

              LOL – But other then that I am sure it all would have gone smoothly!

              Wasn’t aware she had a Watergate connection.

    2. S.V. Dáte

      And she won more votes than trump. I am not a fan boi. As to Barry (Obama), what a mess. As to Biden, one senile Biden is worth 2 live trump, anyday. Oh, the oligarchs are in their twilight but that’s a separate issue. Keeping what remains of our crappy safety net & environment oh it matters a great deal day to day, all micro Econ you might say as to whether it’s Biden or trump. Now you might things better trump (I wonder what the average net worth of @NC devotees are – for reasons of science) as he will blow things up. No way he is not going nuclear. You want an egomaniac you’ve got one. Many of you have not thought things through. Stealing an election is only 1/10th of it.

      1. foghorn longhorn

        Re; average net worth of NC commentators, I am definitely part of the ten percent.
        The ten percent of broke mfers hoping to make it to retirement, er, scratch that, death, without being bankrupted by the corrupt health industry, that the saintly obama/biden foisted upon us.
        Do your duty, just say no.

      2. JTMcPhee

        This is what you really truly believe? I tend to go with the notion that we mopes have no idea what’s “at issue” and what’s “really going on,” and no amount of searching the text of all the MSM and press releases and police reports and FOIA responses and such can “find the truth.”

        You don’t get just a “senile Biden.” You get the whole part of the political-economic scrum that lines up on his side of the vastly fuzzy and obscure line. Trump, that shorthand for “out-front crazy looting,” is just s different symptom of the manifesting disease of Imperial Density (sic).

        I doubt anyone here, any set of anyones here, has a clue about how to actually line up sufficient ordered power (that won’t carry the seeds of just another wave of dead-end power grabbing and looting) to produce a different set of outcomes from those that the very bright people here do such a great job of highlighting and attempting to put into some kind of coherent order.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          On my version of Earth 2 I believe the most important thing we need is an opposition party. We understand that one party is 100% for business and Capital. That’s fine. As a counterweight to the awesome power of that we need a party that represents the interests of people and Labor. Enabling the Dems to continue to pretend they are that merely perpetuates the rot. They lost in 2016 but invented all sorts of reasons for it that were not true. My hope is that a resounding defeat in 2020 would finally uncork the genie from the bottle, yes you would have 4 more years of the business agenda but you would then also have a chance to form and reform an actual opposition. That then could rule for a generation.

          The comments on the Twitter/DNC Convention are hopeful. If the people mistakenly thinking that the Dems represent anything approximating their interests are starting to ask why Republican Kasich, the anti-choice union buster, is even given a pass to enter, let alone a major speaking slot, then perhaps a glimmer of hope can emerge.

          1. John k

            My view in 2016 was that Clinton had to lose for a progressive to have any chance in 2020.
            I feel the same way now regarding 2024. Move Biden Harris left? Don’t make forlorn jokes about serious things. Bernie started the good fight, but he’s been disappointing sing SC disaster, for which he seemed oddly unprepared.
            Aoc will be old enough in 2024, just sayin.

      3. hunkerdown

        Several grand… in the red. With due respect, I seem to remember you own your own residence.

      4. griffen

        The lesser of 2 evils is still, to summarize it distinctly…Family blog evil.

        Let’s not be fools about this aspect.

      5. Lambert Strether Post author

        > he will blow things up

        Not based on Trump’s track record. If you want people with a track record of blowing things up, you need to look at Biden, Rice, and all the Bush Republicans who clambered onto the the Biden bandwagon.

      1. The Rev Kev

        And if there is anything you know about Hillary it is the word “access”. When she was SecState, if a foreign government wanted to talk to someone in office, they made a contribution to the Clinton Foundation. You wanted the State Department help your country out, you made a contribution to the Clinton Foundation. You wanted to do a transaction with the US government, you made a contribution to the Clinton Foundation first. If you did not make a contribution, then you had a more difficult time sealing with Washington It was something like out of the old Ottoman Empire.

  1. Tertium Squid

    Clinton: “I’m ready to help in any way I can because I think this will be a moment where every American – I don’t care what party you are, I don’t care what age, race, gender, I don’t care – every American should want to fix our country.”

    Presumably she has to say this stuff publicly because Joe isn’t taking her calls.

    1. DJG

      Tertium Squid: + + +

      “because Joe isn’t taking her calls”

      From your keyboard to the ear of the god Hermes, destroyer of the Clintons’ cellular phones, herald of hidden news of Ghislaine Maxwell, and divine protector of travelers, who, without a doubt, doesn’t want to have to heft Hillary’s ungodly baggage.

      1. km

        Joe’s handlers have to know that anyone who can lose a national election to a glorified carnie, a national election in which HRC had every possible institutional advantage, and she still lost, such a woman must be well and truly toxic, radioactive kryptonite, and therefore best avoided.

        1. John k

          Funny, though, the vast number of dem elites that will support the push to get such a qualified person into a suitably high spot in the admin. AG? State again because she did such a great job there… I remember Libya.
          She won’t go away until she’s carried out.

          1. John Wright

            Maybe Joe can send HRC to Libya to fix what she started (maybe with assistants Susan Rice and Samantha Powers).

            What is it with the levers of power for some people?

            HRC could simply rest easy, spend Clinton Foundation money, read, travel, garden and care for grandchildren.

            Instead she has a need to “help” the USA, possibly digging existing holes ever deeper.

            I don’t want any more HRC “service” to her country (and I suspect many foreign citizens may feel the same)

    1. Bill Carson

      Wow. I used to follow Sully quite closely up through the ’12 election. I wouldn’t use the word “conservative” to describe him, but it’s not wrong.

      1. RMO

        The following article bringing up the possibility that Trump may not honor the election results is good for a laugh:

        “What he’s doing, it seems to me, is simple. He’s muddying the waters so he can claim fraud if he loses by a small or even not-so-small margin, and try to delay handing over power. If that fails, he has a classic stab-in-the-back narrative that can serve as the basis for his post-presidential media experiment”

        Good thing the other party would never do that! /s

    2. jr

      “My view is that there is nothing wrong with exploring these ideas. They’re almost interesting if you can get past the hideous prose.”

      I would add the intentionally hideous prose, designed to alienate the uninitiated.

      “I can say this because liberalism can include critical theory as one view of the worlsd worth interrogating. But critical theory cannot include liberalism, because it views liberalism itself as a mode of white supremacy that acts against the imperative of social and racial justice.”

      My question is how does critical theory contain critical theory? Why is it above and outside it’s own critique? Is it special?

      ” why liberalism is supple enough to sustain countless theories and ideas and arguments, and is always widening the field of debate; and why institutions under the sway of Social Justice necessarily must constrain avenues of thought and ideas.”

      SJ would wither away under any real critical examination, it has to undermine reason and critical thinking because it has no premise, no grasp on anything other than it’s referencing of itself. Everything else must be wrong because pretty much any other ideology can beat it up. I’m no liberal, I think that diversity of thought liberalism embraces is actually a way to contain those ideas, but it’s true enough liberalism can muster some arguments to it’s defense. These dummies seem to be saying they have the Truth because they believe there is no truth.

      ” Ibram X. Kendi would create an unelected tribunal to police anyone and any institution from perpetuating what he regards as white supremacy”

      Speaks for itself. Wait till that sociopath Harris is calling for such tribunals. Rainbow fascism.

      ” Because it suggests that reform is always better than revolution”

      SJ ain’t revolutionary. It’s an authoritarian ideology with a patina of revolutionary flavor that’s creeping into all aspects of our culture, forging ties with the corporate world and politics as it does. It will be interesting to see what impact it has on the military

      1. periol

        “These dummies seem to be saying they have the Truth because they believe there is no truth.”

        I think it’s more like this – we now realize that the people who claimed to have The Truth have been using their “Truth” to wield power and control. Now that we realize that their “Truth” is not objectively true, we are attacking the control mechanisms that have been put in place by this system that has used these truth claims against us in the past, and is continuing to do so.

        It’s not a claim about some new “Truth”, it is simply attacking the system that depend(s)(ed) on the old “Truth”.

        1. jr

          I agree with that but isn’t that claim of the efficacy and necessity of attacking all ideologies as equally deficient a kind of truth claim? For sure, they may not explicitly make that claim, living in a fog of truisms and platitudes as they do, but it seems implied to my thinking…

          1. periol

            Who is attacking all ideologies?

            Certainly, I’m not.

            Ideologies that lay claim to objective truth are ones I personally take issue with in general. Ideologies that attempt to assert control over others through a claim to objective truth are a problem, and deserving of attack.

            Post-modernism isn’t an ideology. It’s a thought-experiment tearing down other ideologies.

            I believe there will be new ideologies that emerge with time, that are not dependent on fanciful claims for objective truth, that are comfortable dealing with unknown unknowns. Quite honestly, I have spent most of my adult life wishing I had the mental acuity to bringing some new ideas like this into the world, but as of yet I have not yet figured it out.

            Quite honestly, I believe deconstruction is very necessary for us to move forward as a society. My own personal experience was a long time ago, I went through a dark night of the soul, when I first realized there was no objective foundational truth girding the firmament. After a couple of years of intellectual wandering, I realized I had gone through a second stage of personal deconstruction, where I was taught that not only was the previous foundation I had based my wordview on non-existent, but there is no foundation, there would be no foundation. Everything is shifting sand. It was a troubling place at first – I felt quite adrift for a while before I started to come to terms with reality. I believe there is a third stage of personal deconstruction I have not been through as of yet, where perhaps the point stops being trying to come up with ideologies that control and shape the world (and others, or more philosophically, The Other), and instead coming up with ways of living with the world (The Other), not so much ideologies but living frameworks. But that last bit may just be fanciful hopium.

            1. flora

              This is a very serious question:

              If …but there is no foundation, there would be no foundation. Everything is shifting sand. , then wherein is there any sense of morality, of good or evil, or even of ethics?

              1. flora

                Are the K.J.Bible verse Mathew 7:12, or Kant’s categorical imperative only so much power projection over peoples?

                1. periol

                  Personally I think the golden rule is a good basic framework for morality. No need to point to an objective ground outside of yourself.

                  Kant was definitely looking for an objective grounding for morality, but I think his quest was an initial step towards dealing with the problems we are facing as our understanding of morality and reality becomes more and more nuanced with time. I would say his moral work is still the jumping-off point for much of the discussion about morality and ethics happening these days, though I will also honestly admit that I’ve never enjoyed reading him and therefore have only dabbled a little.

                  1. flora

                    Personally I think the golden rule is a good basic framework for morality.

                    I agree. But if “everything is shifting sand ” then how can this be?

                    1. periol

                      The shifting sand is an analogy for a lack of objective truth grounding morality. If there is no objective grounding, then it must be subjective. That can feel like shifting sand, because my subjective grounding could be different from yours. It can definitely feel like shifting sand if you’re used to using an outside objective standard to guide your personal morality.

                      The golden rule has a subjective grounding, as in, the morality is based on your subjective experience. If you wouldn’t want it to happen to you, then don’t do it to someone else. That’s subjective.

                      From there the challenge is to take that subjective measure and make it work for society as a whole. And I think we are doing that, albeit slowly and quite imperfectly.

              2. periol

                Welcome to the study of ethics for the past 60 years or so. This is a question that many people have spent much time thinking and writing about. I’m not going to pretend anyone has come up with substantive answers yet, though I would argue that makes the study of ethics and epistemology more fun than most of what is considered philosophy today!

                I believe the answer is the same as it is now, as it has always been. It’s just that now, we pretend that morality, good and evil, ethics, etc. rely on some outside objective truth we can point to as an intellectual foundation. The reality is that society creates morality – it always has. My favorite description is like weaving – we take all the individual moral strands (each person), and they become woven together into a fabric that is stronger than the original strands on their own.

                Much like in the story about the emperor’s new clothes, change comes when there is enough collective energy to shift society’s moral matrix.

                The scary thing about this kind of morality is you can’t pull a book off the shelf and turn to a page and quote a rule. The same action could be good, but it could also be evil. That depends on factors external to the action itself.

            2. jr

              No my friend, I didn’t mean you are attacking all ideologies, I meant CT does. Sorry for the unclear writing.

              Isn’t post modernism an ideology though? I think an argument could be made but it’s too early in the morning and probably too late in the discussion….

              1. periol

                OK, well I would argue the ideologies under attack are fully deserving of said attack. I can’t speak for CT, but I think my previous response was clear enough.

                I have yet to see anyone postulate one single positive statement that people have described as coming from post-modernism that would allow it to be described as an “ideology”. No one who thinks seriously about this stuff thinks “deconstruction” is a way to live. It is a critique of the ways that we have ordered ourselves and arranged our societies, not a blueprint for how we should order ourselves and arrange our societies.

                Post-modernism is the current name for a demolition crew that is making future ideologies possible. It’s right there in the name.

        2. Laputan

          Sullivan, Lindsay, et al’s conception of post-modernism’s influence is a bit overstated. It’s kind of like the right’s hysteria over ANTIFA. Both are…things, but neither has structure, organization, or coherence and, thus, have a limited affect outside of their own little spheres of influence. Though, make no mistake, there are some institutions like universities where they do have an outsized presence.

          Where Sullivan and the rest are right (and where you’re consistently wrong) is that post-modernism in the form of critical theory doesn’t offer a substantive critique of several of what you quote as “Truths” because it doesn’t rely on logic, empiricism, or any of the epistemological tools we’ve relied on since before the enlightenment. Their truth is solely determined by power and can only be expressed through their self-referential narratives. There’s no standard of proof. It’s completely and purposely ignorant of formal inquiry, and that’s why several of its proponents were made to look like absolute buffoons during the science wars in the 90s.

          Also, in being singularly obsessed with symbol over substance, it doesn’t really challenge the structure of power. Since vacuous gestures like gender pronoun declaration don’t require the kind of material sacrifice or the work of research like, for instance, addressing the climate catastrophe, corporations can simply force employees to introduce themselves with their preferred pronouns as another one of their rules to be followed. I’d be curious to know if there are any employees at Lockheed who declare their gender pronouns in their signature lines. It would be the ultimate hollow victory of critical theory.

          So, I don’t buy into the premise that it attacks “control mechanisms” (whatever that means), it uses its shallow methodology to play silly word games so it can catch the powerless in a gotcha moment. Real, structural power, on the other hand, doesn’t have anything to worry about.

          1. periol

            Is it safe to assume you’re not a fan of Wittgenstein?

            “post-modernism in the form of critical theory doesn’t offer a substantive critique of several of what you quote as “Truths” because it doesn’t rely on logic, empiricism, or any of the epistemological tools we’ve relied on since before the enlightenment.

            Post-modernism does not rely on logic? Please explain.

            I agree, post-modern thought calls much of our “empiricism” into question. But science is doing that as well? Maybe our empirical experiences of the world are not actually sufficient, and simply the best that we were able to do with limited knowledge?

            I would argue the epistemological tools we’ve relied on since before the enlightenment are not sufficient for helping us describe the world we live in. Much has changed in our knowledge of the world, and we have also learned that epistemology is, you know, quite tricky without an appeal to an outside objective truth.

            I continue to insist that post-modernism is not an ideology, but simply a word that we coined to describe this bizarre in-between time we live in where the old ideologies no longer work but we haven’t thrown them out yet or come up with new ones that work better.

            1. Laputan

              On the contrary, Wittgenstein was one of the more important thinkers of the 20th century. I also think he would have as little to do with post-modernism as any other formal school.

              Post-modernism does not rely on logic? Please explain

              This is the frustrating part about debating post-modernism; it’s nebulous and means different things according to different disciplines. I, for one, think we could use a healthy dose of post-modernism in economics.

              What I mainly refer to is post-modern critical theory, which is actually distinct from both nouns in the noun phrase. It’s not the Frankfurt School or Foucault, but Judith Butler and Derrida. And, no, they don’t use formal logic at all. To that particular school, everything is constructed through narrative.

              I agree, post-modern thought calls much of our “empiricism” into question. But science is doing that as well? Maybe our empirical experiences of the world are not actually sufficient, and simply the best that we were able to do with limited knowledge?

              I would argue the epistemological tools we’ve relied on since before the enlightenment are not sufficient for helping us describe the world we live in. Much has changed in our knowledge of the world, and we have also learned that epistemology is, you know, quite tricky without an appeal to an outside objective truth.

              Science is constantly building off of or sometimes even superseding previously established truths, but the standards and methods don’t change. What was once considered empirically true in Newtonian mechanics proved to be partially true, using the same empirical methods, with the advent of quantum mechanics. Post-modern critical theory disregards empiricism altogether by classifying it as a power struggle like everything else.

              I continue to insist that post-modernism is not an ideology, but simply a word that we coined to describe this bizarre in-between time we live in where the old ideologies no longer work but we haven’t thrown them out yet or come up with new ones that work better.

              Those ideologies you refer to as old haven’t been proven to no longer work. I still see that we’re all in structures that were constructed using classical mechanics in civil engineering. What post-modernism critical theory attempts to do is not build off of, but to delegitimize everything previously understood to be true because it was established through the lens of phallocentrism or whatever.

              For instance, Luce Irigaray claiming that E=MC^2 is sexist. What could be developed from such a patently absurd, scientifically illiterate, and useless accusation?

              1. periol

                I still argue that post-modernism is not a “formal school” and, separately, I would argue that Wittgenstein laid the foundation for post-modern critical thought with his work on epistemology and private language..

                1. I have spent some time studying logic, and I have read Derrida. He is a devastating logician, and his literary and philosophical deconstructions are based entirely in logic, albeit a linguistic logic. It is the logic that makes his critiques so devastating.

                I haven’t read Butler to comment.

                2. I would argue that much of our understanding of quantum mechanics in no way coexists easily with empiricism, which is quite simply our empirical experience of the world. Quantum mechanics defies empiricism in many ways.

                I will admit that tools acquired through empiricism have helped scientists discover more about the world. But I personally find it a stretch to say that recent scientific discoveries jive with the way I (or anyone else for that matter) experience the world with my sensory organs – or is there some other definition of empiricism you are working with here?

                3. The ideologies I refer to as old are the ideologies that we as humans have been using to one extent or another for the past few centuries at the least, and they have driven us to the the very edge of species and planetary extinction. If that does not count as failure, perhaps only actual societal collapse will prove the point. Call me crazy, but if we aren’t there, we are nearly so.

                The fallacy of empiricism in modern thought is that people thought if they could understand the world they perceive, they could learn to control it. Hence the fascination with objective truth – to have objective truth is to have control. The world is beyond our control, full stop. We need to replace old ideologies that attempt to control the world we perceive with ideologies that are about coexisting in the world and with each other instead.

                “What post-modernism critical theory attempts to do is not build off of, but to delegitimize everything previously understood to be true because it was established through the lens of phallocentrism or whatever. ”

                Is this a serious point? Phallocentrism or whatever? We have deepened our understanding of the world, and so the old categories we had for living need to be adjusted. Some of the old categories had some baggage we would be better off discarding anyways. Also, sometimes to correct a problem momentum swings farther to the other side than one might wish. But let’s not pretend that where we are now is not problematic.

                1. Laputan

                  1. Derrida is notorious for not using formal logic, nor is he some brilliant linguist. It’s all rhetoric. Here’s an actual linguist on Derrida:

                  “So take Derrida, one of the grand old men. I thought I ought to at least be able to understand his Grammatology, so tried to read it. I could make out some of it, for example, the critical analysis of classical texts that I knew very well and had written about years before. I found the scholarship appalling, based on pathetic misreading; and the argument, such as it was, failed to come close to the kinds of standards I’ve been familiar with since virtually childhood. Well, maybe I missed something: could be, but suspicions remain, as noted.”

                  2. Your argument would be wrong as you keep confusing the method with the results. Quantum mechanics doesn’t defy empiricism, empiricism is the actual tool that’s used in its proof! It’s pretty facile to claim that because quantum mechanics proved that the universe isn’t as neat, discrete, and predictable that we thought it was, and that there are certain constraints re: what we can know altogether, that somehow disproves all sense-experience.

                  3. Speaking of facile…it’s a cute point you’re trying to make, but it’s not as if analytic philosophy or whatever else you want to describe as old is what has led us to the brink of the apocalypse. It’s not even a point worth debating.

                  Everybody who has taken an intro philosophy class has learned that objective truth doesn’t exist, there’s only objective truth insofar as we can know it. It doesn’t follow that we should throw the baby out with the bath water and abandon any attempt to construct, predict, or assert any control over our environment. You don’t detect any irony in maintaining that position while sitting in your (probably) air conditioned home, running electricity, using your computer, etc?

                  And, yes, it’s a serious point. I gave you an example right below. Care to address it?

          2. Acacia

            Good read — thanks for this link!

            I would just like to note that the “critical theory” described in this article isn’t really “critical theory” in the original sense. For that, I think we’d have to go back to the project of the Frankfurt School, and maybe think about the argument of Horkheimer’s 1937 essay “Traditional and Critical Theory”. The current generation of “woke” academics may claim they are doing critical theory, but it feels like something else.

        1. periol

          Talk about overt propaganda moves, that one…

          Did they just decide people weren’t quite ready for it?

    3. chuck roast

      This was very informative. I liked the “Non-binary” action. I am thinking of setting up a Roku account and getting a TV. So I went to the Roku website this morning and checked out the “create a Roku account” at their website. After name, e-mail, blah-blah you are asked to select Gender* (*this is a required field). You are given three options Male, Female or Non-Binary. Who knew?

      And then this afternoon I find an article to explain it all. It’s actually kind of cool to be post-modern for once. I can get new address labels made: “Nb C. Roast”. Not Mr., not Mrs., not Ms…totally nebulous. I can for the first time be so far ahead of the curve that that the marketeers will be stymied. Maybe there is something to this woke stuff.

    4. periol

      Definitely an interesting read.

      FTA: “All we have are narratives, stories, whose meaning is entirely provisional”

      So Sullivan intellectually can use the words to describe post-modern thought, but he still insists that the narrative he believes in has a meaning that is objective and grounded, and not entirely provisional. Sure, there may be all these narratives out there, he’s saying, but mine is the right one. There is objective truth, and I know that truth, and so because what I think is grounded by that objective truth, what I think is right.

      This is always my favorite response to post-modern thought. There are many narratives out there, but mine is right, objectively so (and that means all the other narratives are wrong, btw), and how dare you say otherwise…

      Good stuff.

    5. lambert strether

      I’m extremely depressed to find that Sullivan has written something worth reading. I think the potted summary of wokeness as applied post-modernism is very good; the defense of liberalism less so, especially when I consider Liberals I Have Known.

      1. flora

        A wide aside: Dale Chihuli is a famous modern glass artist who has use of only one of his eyes. Because he has only one working eye he has no depth perception. When I view his work in person with my both working (for now) eyes I don’t quite get it. But, if I hold a hand over one of my eyes so that I lose depth perception (this doesn’t work on a 2-d format like youtube, by the way, it has to be done in person with the art work) suddenly I “see” what he’s doing and it’s magical. So right and left eye combined give a kind of mental ‘depth perception’ of view. And work done without depth perception is best viewed by mechanically restricting one’s depth perception. And so… oh dear, I’ve lost the point I intended to make with this comment.

      2. MrQuotidian

        A note of caution about the article – it seems to be a review of a book by James Lindsay and Helen Pluckrose, two people well-known for beating this “grievance studies” drum. Their main shtick is trying to get fake papers published by academic journals they don’t like.

        Recently they were scheduled to talk at an event hosted by a Conservative Christian group called “sovereign nations” if that gives any indication of who is writing the checks.

        Not saying dismiss it out of hand, but those authors give me pause when I see them come up.

        Personally I find the obsession with post-modernism to be fascinating and bizarre.. as though it’s the humanities professors who are destroying the world and not MBAs. I get that it’s not mutually exclusive, and there’s a lot of empty-headed woke shit used as cover for dark purposes, but when I see this critique come from the right, my spider sense starts tingling..

        1. barefoot charley

          MBAs are destroying the world, critical studies are only destroying universities and HR departments.

          1. periol

            “critical studies are only destroying universities and HR departments.”

            Pretty sure MBAs destroyed universities and HR departments too. No need to appeal to post-modern thought when it’s clear that greed is the real culprit here.

            1. flora

              So, greed is bad? (Ayn Rand and objectivists seemed to think greed was justified as rational action, by their lights, furthering the goal of building the absolute data processor, the market.)

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          Perhaps the humanities professors are destroying the ability to think. Including the ability to think about how the MBAs are destroying the world. Which sets the MBAs even freer to keep on destroying the world.

          1. periol

            Again, it’s still the MBAs. I haven’t seen any news stories about any humanities departments getting so big they need new digs. No one is breaking ground for new humanities buildings to help students expand their minds.

            “When humanities professors retire, they aren’t replaced with new tenure-track lines. In a few cases, when the diminishment isn’t happening fast enough, programs are consolidated or shut down entirely.”

        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          > as though it’s the humanities professors who are destroying the world and not MBAs.

          The MBAs are hiring the “humanities”* professors; see, e.g., Robin Diangelo.

          NOTE * I put “humanities” in quotes because the post-modernists destroyed so many humanities departments, along with concept of “humanity” itself.

  2. Drake

    “What if ‘Herd Immunity’ Is Closer Than Scientists Thought?” [New York Times]. Key sentence: ” The new models offer food for thought, he and other experts said, but should not be used to set policy.”

    Of course, the current policy of containment is working so well. If policy had been to accept that the cat was long out of the bag back around March and that less than half-assed attempts to put it back in by razing the economy to the ground were foolish and counter-productive, we’d all be a lot better off. But that would be one fewer thing to blame Trump for, so there’s that.

    1. S.V. Dáte

      Herd Immunity doesn’t mean much when based on links provided @NC that Covid-19 keeps going because of super speakers in super spreading situations. In the Air.

    2. Cuibono

      “We’ve known from the beginning how the end will arrive. Eventually, the coronavirus will be unable to find enough susceptible hosts to survive, fading out wherever it briefly emerges.” NYT

      Wait, WHAT?
      I do not know one serious scientist who believes that to be true.

  3. occasional anonymous

    Shitty Waterfall In Dumbass Game Doesn’t Even Have Stupid Cave Behind It

    I’ve run into some of these in Ghost of Tsushima (a wholesome medieval Mongol murdering simulator). But then some waterfalls will have stuff in them, so you’re incentivized to check them all.

    1. DonCoyote

      Skinner showed, many years ago, that VR (Variable Ratio) reinforcement schedules are the most persistent.

      Fun bonus fact on behaviorism: my undergraduate psych advisor got his PhD from Washington State (one of the last bastions of behaviorism), and his dissertation was on Schedule Induced Polydipsia in rats. Amazingly, he was unaware of the acronym-related humor in this until I pointed it out to him,

      1. East Texas Gentry

        Oh Lordy,
        I did an experiment on schedule induced polydipsia for my advisor at SMU in 1973. Every damn six hours I had to go down to the lab and either give or take away the water bottles. My advisor had some crazy grant from a distiller’s group. Never thought I would see that phrase again in my lifetime.

  4. ptb

    Re: Florida Covid

    About 10 weeks after the start of Florida’s summer outbreak, it is now definitely receding. I was curious about the age-demographic patterns. Nothing too surprising. Thought I’d share anyway, here’s the graph*.

    Shows the time scale of these things. IIRC, local authorities got serious about it a week or so before Jul 4th, 2-3 weeks after that it peaks for all age groups. Infection rates for the higher age groups are still too high.

    * Data is from weekly differences between daily reports for the state.

      1. ptb

        There is indeed less testing, which is part of it. In addition, more of the remaining test count is re-tests of people who got sick a couple weeks ago. But the decrease is not enough to account for the 50% decline in most age groups. Also the percent-positive-for-new-cases is dropping, despite limited availability of testing which typically discourages asymptomatic people from coming in.

        Of course we’re now going to have the next round because of schools. One of the UNC’s who had live classes just got 135 cases the first week and had to shut down… Keeping my eye on schools like Penn State… Hopefully more schools figure it out and cancel in-person classes for the semester

        1. urblintz

          I don’t know, and haven’t asked my former colleagues on the voice faculty, how they will proceed with one-on-one singing lessons at Florida State, where, apparently, lectures will be taught remotely but personal instruction is face to face… that’s 5 or 6 hour long sessions per day, 4 days a week, a different student each session (that’s 21 students a week) taught in small offices which must stay “shut” (doors and windows) throughout. I assume there will be intensive testing but… well…

          I wouldn’t do it if I still had a faculty position there.

  5. Lambert Strether Post author

    I added some material in Politics, mostly circling round the notion of Biden as FDR. I had a ton more links on the Convention, but I can’t even, as the kids say these days, and I have a post to complete.

    Please refresh your browsers.

  6. Lambert Strether Post author

    I also hope readers will watch the Convention tonight, and share their impressions here. Taibbi has published a drinking game, but — at least in my younger days — I would say there’s in fact only one rule:

    1. Start drinking, and keep right on.

    1. JacobiteInTraining

      I might play a modified version of that game, using bong hits instead of alcohol. My report sharing my impressions may be….well, never mind about any reporting…sorry.

      So there hasn’t ever been a documented case of an overdose death from marijuana, right? (Asking for a friend.)

      1. The Beeman

        Thought I read there is no known lethal dose of Cannabis. If that includes CBD or edibles, I do not know.

        Blaze on!

        1. Treadingwaterbutstillkicking

          I thought Bob Marley was the ONLY known victim of weed? At least that’s what friends used to tell me…

      2. Dan

        I’ll join you with the bong, or in my case my trusty little bowl. I’d love to have a drink, but that leads to bigger and badder things for me.

        1. Lost in OR

          The three things I learned in the army (back in ’80) were to roll a joint, flip bottle caps, and, um, I forget the third.

          They say the memory loss is just short term. But no, it’s permanent.

    2. carl

      AOC is the only one I’d listen to. The rest turn me off completely. John Kerry? Are you kidding?

    3. IMOR

      Wait. The Dems are bothering to hold something in the format of a (nominating) convention? And it’s now? /s
      I guarantee you no one actually living a life- comfortable, desperate, anywhere in between- knows or would care one bit if they were made aware. Of course, many of the organizers and speakers have not, themselves, been living for quite some time. Wish AOC had said, “One minute? No thanks.”

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        I’m busy detoxing my 87yo father-in-law off of Fox News. Two weeks in and he now says both Trump and Biden are terrible. Can’t afford a relapse, so no convention watching here. Umbrella Academy more likely.

        P.S. he is another that would be dead if not for the VA.

      2. JTMcPhee

        Seems to me that even AOC’s brand is tarnished, starting with her apotheosizing Pelosi as “Mama Bear.”

        But we so desperately want to believe that someone will come along with an intact halo and a tall white horse to make it all better, or at least give us the sense that “somebody hears our weeping and cries…”

        1. John k

          Regardless of the compromises she’s made to coexist in her corrupt party, she’s got both the best speaking style and the most intact halo. You simply have to say trumps the most evil evah right now.
          Best we’ve got at the moment.

    4. Big River Bandido

      I also hope readers will watch the Convention tonight, and share their impressions here.

      I hope other readers will blog about the Democrats tonight; I enjoyed your takes on the Democrat clown shows during the primaries. I can’t watch any of the convention myself, as I have to watch some paint dry and then attend to some dumpster fires.

      1. RMO

        There are people far more strong and resilient than I who can watch that convention and then give the edited “highlights.” Personally I would rather shave my head with a cheese grater while chewing on alumimium foil (yes, I still have a couple of old amalgam fillings)

        I suppose I handle it if I made a drinking game variation part of the experience. Perhaps if I did it so that the first time someone said a word with the letter “e” in it I would take enough morphine to send me off to dreamland for the rest of the evening.

    5. Pat

      I’m sorry. I probably can’t. My fingernails are already down to the quick and I do not drink.

      Tonight is probably the only night I could make it through without destroying television or tablet.

      Everything tells me that the big tent will be rolling out the red carpet to people who largely would clear out the best canapes and name champagne while casing the place to clear it out later. Meanwhile all the plebes who were traditional voters or support centrist popular policies will be relegated to the staff entrance and threatened with being fired or sued if they make eye contact with the valued guests and Democratic royalty.

      I have been amused that they are clearly terrified of AOC. I don’t think the sixty second limit is going to protect them.

        1. John Anthony La Pietra

          I almost wish she’d kept silence and delivered her speech Dylan-style. (Maybe leaving them guessing as to which vandals took the handles.)

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        yeah. if i watch that, i’ll end up drunk in a field, somewhere, trying to give away vegetables.
        had a hard enough day already.
        spent morning(only 103, today, even with the clouds) shoring up the fences around half of our part of the place…the half where the house, trailerhouse/library, poolyard, shop and most of the garden beds are(all done, now).
        patched everything i thought a herd of spooked barbadoes could possibly get through.
        …but one…one place where the deer leap over, through a sort of break in the turkey pear…due to the turkey pear, i didn’t think they’d even find it.
        so we parked one of the trucks in a certain way, propped up some stock panel for a temporary chute, and managed to herd them, and the geese, over here…where there’s abundant grass/cover crops…unlike where they have been(grasshoppers and the heat and the dry )
        after making certain that the gates were closed, i crept down past the library, and peered around the corner, in order to check taht they were satisfied with the grass.
        they spooked…and half of them(7) freaked out and went right through that not-even-a-hole-in-the-fence…turkey pear be damned….and into my neighbor’s 50 acre field.
        youngest chased on foot, attempting to get ahead of them…all the way to the back of the field…but they escaped through the gate back there(almost a mile back), and joined neighbor’s herd.
        meanwhile, i had accidentally left the gate between mom’s and mine ajar, and the remainder escaped back over there.
        neighbor says he’ll cut them out no problem in a day or so…and have them back easy-peasy.
        I braved the turkey pear with a patch of stock panel…got it in my fingers on both hands…as well as in my left butt cheek.

        but there ain’t no hole any more

        1. Pat

          Ouch. After being so responsible you deserve a treat not a trick, especially one so evil.

          Take care of yourself.

      2. nippersmom

        I would probably end up with alcohol poisoning if I tried to drink enough to make that fiasco watchable.

  7. Mel

    North Dakota ghost towns, upper right, Looks to me like it is actually the University of Southern North Dakota at Hoople, where Prof. Peter Schickele did his ground-breaking research on the life and works of P.D.Q. Bach, the youngest of J.S. Bach’s offspring.
    If I could unpack my books, I could check.

    1. Janie

      Saw PDQ Bach in So Cal decades ago – great fun and great music. He began the show by entering from the rear of the theater a little late, scurrying down the aisle and clambering onto the stage from near the orchestra pit. More comedy ensued, with mock serious intros and movement names, such as “like a bat outta hell” in Italian for allegretto. The actual music was very well done.

      Hadn’t thought of him for years. Thanks for reminder.

      1. PhilK

        I saw him do the slide-up-onto-the-stage thing at Orchestra Hall in Chicago. He stood up, brushed himself off, and told the audience, “Thank you, thank you. It’s great to be here in Milwaukee!”

      2. Lost in OR

        I saw him swing down a rope from the balcony in Burlington VT.

        Some of the fun was seeing some of the staid musicians obvious discomfort. Great show.

    2. MJ

      Thanks for alerting us to the Ghosts of North Dakota. The images of abandonment resonated with me.

      I was born in Fargo (yes, there really is a place named Fargo) and my mother’s ancestors were homesteaders in North Dakota. Were it not for the winters, it might not be such a bad place to return to in these times.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        As the global keeps heating, climate refugees will begin moving to places with any winter left at all.
        N Dakota might be one of those places. You might want to get in ahead of the refugees to come.

        1. WobblyTelomeres

          North of the 45th parallel, near fresh water. Advice from a friend in Toronto. Strangely.

      2. Michael Fiorillo

        North Dakota is a beautiful state, it’s loneliness and ruins part of that beauty.; I’ve been through it a few times, along the High Line and in Teddy Roosevelt NP, the last time in 2012, during the peak of the Bakken boom… a crazy gold rush scene, and ruins of the not-so-distant future… very much want to spend a solid couple of weeks in the prairie pothole region during migration season..

      3. The Rev Kev

        I hope that someone is recording and photographing those old buildings before they go. They are not just buildings but a reflection of past lives as well as a way of life.

      1. Mel

        Nothing dire. Just a 2-room apartment and about 2 rooms of books. Renos are planned to make the place bigger, someday.

  8. allan

    It looks like the DNC is a tribute band for a 1990’s group, the 1996 Republican National Convention.

    Steve Kornacki @SteveKornacki
    August 13, 1996: Gov. Christine Todd Whitman (NJ), Rep. John Kasich (OH) and Rep. Susan Molinari (NY) all address the Republican National Convention in San Diego.

    Bob Dole’s convention.

    For every steel worker we lose in Wisconsin, we’ll pick up two Viagara Republicans in Orange County.

  9. a different chris

    Gettysburg is so weird because that’s generally considered the turning point against the South?

    I swear the guy taunts his supporters even harder than his enemies. I think that is actually not unusual from the nouveau riche, they tend to enjoy putting this “whatta ya gonna do about it” attitude in the faces of those dependent on them, whilst they are more circumspect with those who, regardless of bank balance, can tell them to go family blog off.

    1. S.V. Dáte

      That and Grant at Vicksburg. & Sherman in September doing ‘Gone with the Wind’. It is, if anyone cares, illegal to do a political speech on Fed (our) property. So what non-political speech could trump give at Gettysburg? The start of WW3?

      1. Big Top

        Vicksburg was more important. It permanently split the South in half at the Mississippi River and it remained that way the rest of the war. Gettysburg though it was a Northern victory Lee was allowed to largely have his army escape back to Virginia. He fought on almost another two years. Also Sherman taking Atlanta and the Carolinas helped cement Lincoln’s reelection in 1864.

  10. jo6pac

    Thanks to all for watching the dog & phony show. I’ll catch up tomorrow my beloved power company pg$e might turn of my power in a few hours.

    They burn down towns and kill people and none of them go to jail. WOW

  11. ChiGal in Carolina

    Hmm anyone know how to get those alerts if you’re not connected to UNC (chapel hill)? My Orange County alerts didn’t inform me.

    Surfacing for a brief time out from Momcare. She is through the worst, caused by hospice having her go off gabapentin cold turkey when she could no longer swallow, throwing her into painful, agonizing and unnecessary withdrawal.

    Silver lining dept is to manage it her morphine, ativan, and haldol have been ratcheted up to the point where she is in effect terminally sedated, which she would have wanted if it was legal.

    A few days more. No pain and a room full of love (and Brahms), her daughters putting their differences aside to be at bedside, doesn’t get any better than that.

    1. DJG

      ChiGal in Carolina: As I write in closing to just about everyone these days:

      Abbracci malgrado tutto

    2. Katiebird

      Sending hugs and love and sympathy, ChiGal. Glad your sisters can be with you. Your mom may be sedated (and ready) but she’s glad to have you all there.

    3. Amfortas the hippie

      hugs from me, too.
      i played that role with my great grandmother…closed her eyes and everything.
      it’s a hard row.

      1. Elizabeth

        ChiGal – being with your mom is something you will always cherish. Peace to you and your family.

    4. BillS

      How beautiful when family members overcome differences when loss strikes. I wish you and yours well. May we all have such an exit from this world.

      I played this when my mother lived out her last days in the ICU. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wpAxBZSXW28 The 16th century was so rich in melancholy, cathartic music. After a difficult time..tears were healing. È un sogno la vita…

  12. fwe'zy

    Rental jeans Gad, but did you get this: creatively reconstruct vintage 501’s Gad Almighty! They will rent a pair of jeans out until it is 2 scraps of original denim held together by safety pins and successive rounds of patching.

    1. John Anthony La Pietra

      For toddlers and maybe up to 2nd grade or so, jeans rental might just be the next step onward after consignment shops or thrift stores. But for anyone older that, and once there’s talk of refurbishing the pants, we’re getting into “Yeah, all the parts have been replaced at least twice, but this is still my great-grandfather’s axe” territory.

    2. griffen

      I got those as a young boy. They were called hand me down. No telling which older brother wore them last.

      Late 70s – early 80s. So a while ago, but not that long.

  13. Bill Carson

    Regarding the Iowa summer resort region story (“prurient telephoto of scantily clad youth”), I clicked on the link hoping to find some photos of scantily clad youth to satisfy my prurient nature, but I didn’t find any. I think I need to look at the rest of the photographer’s camera roll to see what else might be in there.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        Yeah…i resisted the temptation, until after the loose barbadoe experience.
        didn’t see any scantily clad anything, but my “ad blocker that shall remain unnamed” often cuts pictures.
        prurience is for wokesters.
        I’ll be having none of it.

    1. hamstak

      Bear in mind that Iowa “scantily clad” is not like, say, Florida scantily clad, and even less like French Mediterranean scantily clad.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > prurient telephoto of scantily clad youth

      Certainly telephoto, certainly scantily clad. Prurient: “causing lasciviousness or lust,” so I suppose that’s one for the judges. (This genre, and it is a genre, is meant to license shaming by we who have suffered for our virtuous behavior, e.g. masking, I don’t quarrel with the behavior, but the moralizing aspect repels me.)

      I just noticed the subtle touch of the “Trump” flag in the background; I have never seen any evidence that reckless behavior by college youth has a partisan bias.

      1. Bill Carson

        I would hazard a guess that it is more likely that the fathers of Trump-leaning college students own boats than the fathers of Bernie-leaning college students.

        I also think the person who took the photograph that you posted should go investigate the mask-wearing habits of young people on Lake Havasu during Spring Break. ;-)

  14. carl

    RE: Italy
    Spouse, who spent 17 years there, reads the Italian news daily. Apparently, the country is planning on spending a good chunk of the EU money on…strengthening the healthcare system! I, as a US resident, have trouble fitting my head around this. Also up for consideration is mandatory testing for those irrepressible young Italians coming back from holidaying in Greece, Spain, etc. More seriously, they anticipate a second wave in the fall and are preparing for it. Serious people, serious country.

    1. DJG


      The government closed the discoteques across the country, as of yesterday. Too many people, too much bending of the rules.

      Today’s announced total of new cases (from La Repubblica’s site) +182. Deaths +4. Yep, 182.

      The Italian government is insisting that the schools should open in the fall, but only if they can open safely and normally. Minister of Health Speranza is quoted as saying to all Italians not to squander what they have worked for by being cooperative.

      Greece also has taken COVID very seriously.

      Funny how in the Mediterranean world, many of those whacky and irrational Mediterraneans think that life matters. Unlike the supremely rational Anglo-Americans.

      1. carl

        Yeah, that disco thing was a bad idea. They’re still traumatized by their Lombardy experience, and are ready to do whatever’s necessary to avoid another.

      2. BillS

        The Mediterranean world takes life very seriously, after all they have been philosophizing about the good life for more than 2500 years!

        I believe it was Hannah Arendt in her treatise on the Eichmann trial who noted that the Italians, despite fascism, were an “ancient and civilized culture”, referring to their gumming up of the Jewish deportations from their country.

        1. Basil Pesto

          she does, when comparing with Denmark, who are singled out for praise along with Sweden and Bulgaria in their treatment of the Jews:

          What in Denmark was the result of an authentic political sense, an inbred comprehension of the requirements and responsibilities of citizenship and independence-“for the Danes… the Jewish question was a political and not a humanitarian question” (Leni Yahil) – was in Italy the outcome of the almost automatic general humanity of an old and civilized people.

  15. Dr. John Carpenter

    Can anyone take Bernie seriously when he’s fretting about Trump/Republican voter suppression? Given the DNC’s history with his own campaigns, this just seems like an incredibly odd way to try to rally his supporters to vote blue.

    1. Dan

      Anyone who takes Bernie seriously at this point is seriously deluded. That said, a lot of people invested a lot of energy in him over the years, and each of us has our own psychic limit on how much unadulterated truth we can handle. Thus all the excuses on behalf of Bernie.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Hopefully all the disappointed ex-Sanderistas will still keep in touch with eachother in an organized way.

        They could be the stub for a future buildout of a future movement for some genuinely good reasons and goals.

        1. JTMcPhee

          From what I see there’s lots of individuals with the same idea. All of whom just know their particular new brand is the standard around which all the rest of the disaffected and dispossessed should rally. Hard to cast off the generations of operant conditioning provided by our betters, urging us to pursue self-actualization…

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Well, if they all at least keep in touch with eachother over time, bunches of them might agree on some Least Common Denominator shareable goals to work towards or for in organized bunches. Even as they pursue their separate self-actualization journeys otherwise and at the same time.

      2. Laputan


        There’s some real jaded college freshman volunteer energy going on in these replies. Is this the only campaign you’ve felt embittered about? Strap in because whoever catches your eye next is probably going to act like a politician at some point.

    2. Jason Boxman

      I do wonder how many will buy what he’s selling. He’s dead to me. That’s gotta be some cognitive dissonance there, to callout the billionaire class as an existential threat to American Democracy, but since Trump’s election somehow it’s just Trump that is the threat. It does dovetail nicely with liberal Democrat sensibilities though.

      Liberal Democrat amnesia to history is a much larger threat, and one which Sanders actively cultivates.

      1. clarky90

        “Dear Senator Sanders

        It’s Simon and Schuster Publishing House, touching base, to reconfirm the details of your forthcoming, HUGE book deal. We are certain that you will be very very pleased with what we have put together!”

        1. John k

          I don’t think he values money enough to be influenced by it. He wants to stay relevant with all his friends in the senate and be able to influence things a bit at the margin.

            1. GettingTheBannedBack

              It’s a shame he didn’t want to end up like Nader. Nader kept his principles and integrity and even though it cost him a lot he didn’t turn his back on the little guy.
              I watched Sanders storm around the country until this year, it was amazing to see how people flocked to hear him. And what he said sounded so good.
              Then just as though it looked as if his time had come, he folded up his tent and snuck away back to the Dems. To me he stopped looking like a Nader and started to look like a misery vampire.
              A misery vampire is a person who feeds off the misery of others for their own selfish ends, but walks away from the downtrodden when the payoff has gone. There are a lot of them around in these times.

          1. The Rev Kev

            He said a coupla years ago in an interview that he did not want to end up like Ralph Nader as in isolated and ignored. I have no doubt that people like the Democrats and Republicans have psychiatrists on tap to analyze both friends and foes to seek out weaknesses in them. And this appears to be Bernie’s Achilles heel. The need to belong.

        2. curlydan

          I think people’s greatest strengths can be their greatest weaknesses–all of have this double edged sword. So for Sanders, his compassion and caring helped him see through the BS of Wall Street and greed and advocate for the people. But his compassion also prevented him from going for the kill against his “good friend” (ack!) Biden when he so desperately needed to do it.

          I ignore his pleas on Facebook now, and I’m basically done with him. But I recognize his failure as a personality failure and part of just being human.

      2. Cuibono

        Really? He is far from perfect to be sure, but name one other politician alive in DC who has done more to bring these issues to the fore?
        WEllstone is dead.

    3. Grant


      An actual revolutionary would point out the total undemocratic nature of the entire system and that corrupt party. My god, we just witnessed the train wreck of that primary, from Iowa on. Perez did all those horrible things, didn’t flinch, didn’t feel shame, still has his position. This isn’t an outlier in any way, it is us reaching an end point. These policies are utter failures for most of the country, and it was obvious years ago when this whole neoliberal project started, that we would reach a point where formal democracy would have to thrown out. It was obvious not only because of the undemocratic nature of the system, but also because it wouldn’t benefit enough people that they would vote to maintain the system. So, if the people chose to go in another direction, would the neoliberals in power allow for a transition, or would they close democracy to change, and cement their rotten policies? Not surprisingly, they are ditching democracy, and they are now so arrogant in that party that they do so openly. The rank and file that take part in the primaries doesn’t care, or isn’t paying tons of attention. A perfect recipe it seems for societal collapse.

      1. RMO

        I’m gonna go way out on a limb here and predict that if Biden loses we will spend the next four years hearing about how it’s Bernie’s fault (somehow… despite his folding and doing everything he can to try to help the Dems succeed). Oh, and Putin of course. Maybe China too. But definitely Bernie will be to blame.

        1. edmondo

          Whoo cares? Bernie is in The Club now. He achieved his goal. The Dem Establishment “loves” him.

    4. landline

      Dog breeders have long known that Saint Bernards are loyal but not too bright. Good sheepdogs, also.

    5. zagonostra

      At the time, seems eons ago, I took personal umbrage at people calling Bernie a sheep dog. I believed he was authentic and donated money, tried to convince folks to voting in the primaries for him, even gave friends a couple of bucks to donate to his campaign so that number of contributors would be higher than if I donated more money.

      Now, there is no way I can stand to listen to anything he has to say. Someone said that he is “dead to me.” in my case, I wish that were the case. To hear him makes me feel like running into someone who has betrayed you. No, it’s worse than can I take him “seriously” can I take him at all without feeling sullied…the only relief from the betrayal is listening to Jimmy Dore call him out and sparing no invective in doing so.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        Now, there is no way I can stand to listen to anything he has to say.


        It’s called pissing on your leg and telling you it’s raining:

        “The Partnership for America’s Health Care Future (PAHCF) — a front group created by health insurance, pharmaceutical and hospital lobbying groups to oppose ‘Medicare for All’ — announced on Friday that it is launching a new national ad campaign to persuade Democrats to abandon their plans to create a public health insurance plan.


        Within 24 hours of the launch of the industry’s new ads, however, anonymous Democratic congressional sources were telling The Hill that Democrats likely won’t bother with the public option fight next year if Biden wins the election

        He’s dead to me too.

    6. HotFlash

      Well, for whatever reason, I think Bernie knows a whole helluva lot about vote suppression. As a supporter of Bernie’s platform, I am sad. I hope his platform carries on — M4A, Green New Deal, Postal Banking, free colleges, universities, and trade schools, cancellation of student and medical debt, restricting campaign donations … all that good stuff that most of the country wants.

      Na gonna vote for anyone on his say-so, but pretty sure he knew that.

      So, who’s gonna pick it up? Nina and these guys? You?

  16. nippersmom

    I work at a public university in Georgia. I am pleased to say most if not all the students I saw when I was out and about on campus earlier today were wearing masks- and this was outside. Students sitting outside were sitting alone or with one other person; the one larger group i saw were sitting in a circle, all several feet a part (and still wearing masks). This is better than the observed rate of compliance among the general public (which has improved over the past couple of weeks- apparently businesses requiring masks is being effective in enforcing their use).

  17. Grant

    “Barack Obama reportedly said: ‘Don’t underestimate Joe’s ability to f… things up’”

    Then maybe he should have stuck to sailing with Branson and gotten all his money from Netflix or whatever, instead of dooming the country with the worst Democratic nominee in recent memory (which says a lot). If it wasn’t for what Obama did behind the scenes between Nevada and SC, there is a good chance that Bernie would be the nominee. And Biden is now saying that he wants to build a bridge between his rotten party and racist police lapdog Pete. As has been said many times before, they would rather lose a race with a zombie like Biden than win with Bernie, because this is about class and power, and not winning elections. If Trump wins, they get tax cuts and can fundraise off of him. If Bernie wins, they lose power, the wealth that comes with the access to power and the hollowness of Obama and his failed worldview become apparent. I don’t know if he is a sociopath, but what I can say is that if a sociopath had his power, he would do everything exactly as he has.

    1. Dan

      I don’t know if he is a sociopath, but what I can say is that if a sociopath had his power, he would do everything exactly as he has.

      That’s a great way to put it, Grant. Given my recent curmudgeonliness, I tend to go right for the ad-hom: He’s a sociopath. Of course, clinically he may well be, which wouldn’t then make it an ad-hom attack. But my point is simply that that is a good way to frame things going forward:

      “I don’t know if ____________ is a sociopath, but I do know that if a sociopath had his power, he’d act in exactly the same manner.”

      1. km

        I am not a psychiatrist, nor have I examined Obama, but his behavior is indistinguishable fromt hat of a sociopath.

        BTW, it’s not an ad hominem if it’s accurate.

    2. S.V. Dáte

      Barack, never said that. The article says “Is reported to have said…” Reported to have said can mean anything. This is how it starts. Or ends, if believed and acted on. Only a fact is fact. Obama had many faults but backstabbing people he cared about was not one. I think we should be good reporters: three sources and two willing to go on the record.

      1. nippersmom

        I have no idea whether Obama actually made the statement of not. I do find it interesting that you imply Biden i someone Obama “cares about”. Whatever led you to that conclusion?

      2. Fiery Hunt

        LOL. Saint Barack was the 2nd WORST President in my lifetime (Jr. wins first evermore).
        …but backstabbing people he cared about was not one.

        Since Barack Obama doesn’t care about ANYONE but himself and his family, I take it you can at least admit he backstabbed the entire country with his Wall St buddies in 2008-2016…Or maybe just the 68,000 who die every year due to lack of universal health insurance?

        Bah. Pox on him and his supporters.

      3. Grant

        Would he not though just be saying something most everyone else says about Biden? He has always been a horrible presidential candidate, and he had to drop out of a previous run in disgrace for lying and plagiarism. He was mocked at the time for how bad and ridiculous he looked even in the corporate press. He lied about his civil rights record, had to issue an apology decades ago. He started to lie again about it this run, his campaign told him to stop, and he created new lies on top of the old ones. I don’t have the time to summarize the mountain of stupid or tone deaf things he has said this run, forget the entire time he has been in politics. Obama is many things, but he isn’t stupid, and if he said that, he is just saying what most everyone else has said.

      4. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Barack never said that.

        Fatal error #1: believing *anything* a politician says.

        The only way to connect them to reality is to examine their *actions*.

        So let’s list The Barack’s actions. Then you can decide whether he is still your champion.

        1. Instructed his black Attorney General not to prosecute any bankers in the worst financial crime wave in a century. That resulted in the largest transfer of wealth *away* from African-Americans in the nation’s history.
        2. “Surged” troops into the ever-failing Afghanistan war.
        3. Codified the worst of Bush’s “temporary” spy powers as law.
        4. Expanded the number of nations the US was unilaterally bombing from 2 when he entered office to 7 when he left.
        5. Took the advice of his African-American National Security Advisor to smash the African country with the highest standard of living on the continent to bits. They took special care to bomb the largest desert irrigation project on Earth, that was feeding millions, to smithereens. And for the record for #BLM fans, the result has been that the country is now an Islamist hellhole with active modern-day slave markets.
        6. Insisted from Day One in his health care insurance reforms that single-payer, the system proven to reduce costs and improve outcomes in almost every other developed nation on Earth, was not considered.

        I could go on. The longer people continue to delude themselves that The Barack had or has anything like *their* interests in mind the longer it will take for those interests to actually be represented anywhere in the political sphere.

        Kids and wife are cute, and he has a decent jump shot, but I feel sorry for those believing a single solitary one of those pesky *words* coming out his piehole. He formed similar words before, but how did he act?

      5. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Barack, never said that. The article says “Is reported to have said…”

        Good to see you’re on a first-name basis with, 44. However, “reported to have said” is here a form of words indicating a cite by the Telegraph to another source, in this case Politico:

        Yet searing, anonymously sourced quotes from Obama kept appearing through the race. One Democrat who spoke to Obama recalled the former president warning, “Don’t underestimate Joe’s ability to fuck things up.” Speaking of his own waning understanding of today’s Democratic electorate, especially in Iowa, Obama told one 2020 candidate: “And you know who really doesn’t have it? Joe Biden.”

        So, yes, “Barack” did say that.

    3. km

      Biden has already accomplished everything that the DNC wanted from him. He beat Bernie. Or rather, he
      “beat” Bernie.

      If Biden also beats Trump, that will just be gravy from their perspective.

      1. Michael Fiorillo

        The #McResistance TM, residing for the most part in the top 10%, get the gravy with Orange Man; Uncle Joe would be the icing on the gravy.

  18. Jason Boxman

    When I visited Boulder a decade ago, in the national park there I remember seeing the vast swaths of trees felled by the beetles there. The destruction is a sight to behold.

    1. crittermom

      The destruction by the beetles in this state has continued on, I’m sorry to say.
      Before I moved away 9 yrs ago I’d already seen vast areas of dead standing pine near Breckenridge (where 1/4 acre lots were/are? $1M).

      I’ve returned to the state in the more southern portion & am still witness to the beetles destruction.
      Last year, about 25 miles from here, there was a sizable forest fire where it was estimated 88% of the pines were already dead from the beetle.
      Areas adjoining that are also experiencing such a loss of trees, as I note when driving over that nearby pass. The beetles march onward.

      This month, Colorado is losing a lot of forests to raging fires.

      It’s been a very dry year with the water table around here apparently dropping, as we’re once again sucking sand with water from the well, after having already raised the pump last year. Not good.

  19. bassmule

    In the comments section of the WaPo regarding student behavior, a few posts suggest this is political: “a red/blue thing”

    It’s not a red/blue thing. It is a Greed thing. School administrators already have plenty of evidence that no matter what their on-campus rules, students will go downtown. School administrators also have a bottom line to think about; they want and need that tuition money. And what about the community’s need for students to spend money at local businesses? So they cross their fingers and open anyway, and then–and this is the part that is truly vile–they blame the kids when it doesn’t work.

    1. Kurtismayfield

      This is the correct response.. if it wasn’t for the School administration having to keep their phony baloney jobs, and the local landlords and businesses needing the students, everyone would be remote learning this fall.

      This has all been a bit and switch. Get the students to commit to campus life and sign their leases, then before October almost all schools will be remote again. The students are the victims in this relationship.

  20. Deschain

    Apple ups the ante on Epic by blocking Unreal engine as well as Fortnite


    Either Apple is seriously misplaying its hand, or it feels utterly secure in the politics of being a monopolist, because this is kinda over the top

    1. RMO

      Pass the popcorn! I don’t care which company “wins” just so long as the fight goes the distance and they hurt each other a lot!

  21. DJG

    “Now, the day after Biden is elected, we have got to mobilize and organize all over this country to make sure that Biden becomes as progressive a president as is possible, that Democrats control the Senate and the House, and that we can put sufficient pressure on Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to carry out a progressive agenda.”

    Bernie, Bernie, Bernie. Please don’t engage in the bait-and-switch. We all know how U.S. politics works. Because elections are scheduled, rather than “floating” as in the parliamentary system, each election causes the government to fall (and you thought that the Italians have had a lot of governments) and each election produces victors who think that they have a mandate. A majority of one in the Senate is considered a mandate.

    So there is no incentive whatsoever for Biden, Pelosi, and Schumer to succumb to pressure from the electorate. Nothing can bring down the government–except for the clock running out. By then, they will have ruined even more things, and the populace will be summoned to give approval to the new mess.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > there is no incentive whatsoever for Biden, Pelosi, and Schumer to succumb to pressure from the electorate. Nothing can bring down the government–except for the clock running out.

      As I wrote:

      Those “other social movements” included sitdown strikes, the CIO and an actual, functioning Communist Party (which did a lot of work combatting segregation in the South). In other words, if “the left” wants to get Biden’s attention, that’s how militant they’ll have to be.

      That is why, as I was screaming at the top of my lightly ironic lungs at the time, Sanders should have pivoted his movement and fundraising apparatus immediately to supporting strikers (in the workplace and rentals). Then he’d be negotiating from a position of strength. Note that the subsequent rise of Black Lives Matter had the happy effect of driving strikes out of the news flow entirely; and indeed that’s where all the energy went. A terrible, tragic waste.

      1. DJG

        Lambert Strether: And you bring up an interesting point: Black Lives Matter is ostensibly a leaderless movement, like Occupy Wall Street, which means that BLM has had trouble formulating demands–which means that the Democrats (I don’t even have to mention the Republicans) won’t engage in reforming the police.

        Strikes, though, have leaders, even wild-cat strikes, which are often directed by a committee. It is impossible to conduct a walk-out without organization before, support during, and resistance to punishments after. Strikers make specific demands.

        So a question comes up: Are the new U.S. social movements one more aspect of a society in which everyone wants to have white-collar impunity? Which is by far the great benefit of the white-collar classes.

        Conversely: Is the weird bourgeois snobbery that unions are remnants of former times also an inadvertent admission that what matters now is to be unaccountable?

        I guess I’m sticking to the union.

      2. marym

        His fundraising apparatus for other candidates, and organizations was his campaign. I think FEC rules govern the scope. Don’t know if there were other alternatives. More broadly I don’t know what people who aren’t strikers themselves should do to provide support for non-union and rent strikes.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > I think FEC rules govern the scope.

          It’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission. Did he want power, or not? Apparently not, since that was the moment.

          1. marym

            How to organize and provide sustained support for would-be strikers is an important issue. A rogue run around FEC and Act Blue legal constraints doesn’t seem sustainable, but Sanders and/or anyone who wants to support potential non-union-based strikers would need to think about this.

  22. Matthew G. Saroff

    My guess is that Debbie Wasserman Schultz was obnoxious, overbearing, and entitled, and that the shoving was leaning in and shoving a 16 year old girl out of the way.

    Thing is, obnoxious, overbearing, and entitled is pretty much all DWS has.

  23. timotheus

    Re McKesson as vaccine distributor: this is the same McKesson that distributed 14 billion opioid pills during a 7-year period, rating it as the #1 contributor to that addiction crisis. They paid a fine and promised to behave in the future. https://wapo.st/3h6N8EK

    Great to see sinners reform and thrive!

  24. Pelham

    Re whether it’s all over for Bernie and his supporters: It most certainly is if Biden/Harris win. As Lambert suggests, there’s no leverage for progressives if neoliberals win national validation in November.

    So, how could progressives avail themselves of leverage? I’d suggest voting for Trump and possibly a Democrat Congress on the theory — admittedly shaky — that 4 more years of Trump will be preferable to 12 years of Biden and Harris while progressives flail at the margins with just half a dozen or so squad-like members in the House.

    Plus, come on, man, wouldn’t it almost be worth it to watch the nation’s punditry completely melt down?

    1. Jen

      There won’t be 12 years of Biden Harris. There will be 4 years of Biden Harris followed by someone who worse than Trump, and who knows how to govern.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Based on past performance, under “recovery” managed by the Obama Alumni Association the top 30% by income will do very well, and the bottom 70% will not be made whole after ten years.

        I have little confidence that they will rise to the occasion this time around, given that the political and economic environment is so much worse than 2008, and they “have learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.”

        I’d love to be proved wrong, because I’m not an accelerationist, but I just can’t see a second FDR administration based on substantial support from Republicans. How does that work? And to relieve the working class from its misery, a second FDR administration is what it would take.

        1. RMO

          I can imagine just how much leverage the progressives will have over the government if Biden and Harris win with their help. I see it as much like Newt Gingrich’s words to some of the people who supported his campaign for Congress: “F(amilyblog) you guys. I don’t need any of you anymore”

    2. Grant

      The 12 years of Biden and Harris assumes a sustainability of the system that is dominated by their failed ideas that doesn’t exist. It is collapsing as is, and Trump is speading it up. My guess is that these frauds will regret what they did to Bernie between Nevada and SC, because he was asking for basic and popular changes that could have kept the system still largely in place, at least for his time in office. Their policy failures are already radicalizing people and it isn’t as if things are going to improve with Biden as president. No, the neoliberals are going to have to let go of their ideology or democracy itself. It is obvious that they aren’t going to ditch their ideology for class reasons, and should be equally as obvious that the radicalization of younger people has only just begun. Given the economic trajectory of the country, the current context, the corruption in the system and that party, and given the soon to arrive environmental crisis, what do the young have to lose? Come 2024 though, the neoliberals will again throw democracy out with their sham primary. If the left, working people have any vision, they will continue to build an alternative infrastructure. If the left continues to elect candidates on the left, it could be up to whatever empty hack to just sign what is thrown on their desks. The left created the infrastructure in the UK for the NHS and the liberals in power signed it into law. Similar situation happened with Medicare in Canada. Stands a better chance than trying to make the Democrats more than the big pile of nothing that they currently are.

      But none of that happens until leftist candidates start to challenge Pelosi, who is just horrible.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > The 12 years of Biden and Harris assumes a sustainability of the system that is dominated by their failed ideas that doesn’t exist

        Good point. I’m not sure where to go with it, though.

    1. lambert strether

      I wonder if, beforehand, they consulted with their lawyer, James Roosevelt, chair of the Credentials Committee at the Democrat National Convention?

  25. polar donkey

    A private school here in Memphis shutdown. It made it a week. The sports teams had outbreaks of covid and now school going online for 2 weeks. We have to have football down here.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Kamala Harris could be Biden’s Dick Cheney

      I don’t think Harris brings as much raw evil to the job as Cheney did, but perhaps she could rise to the occasion.

  26. John Beech

    WSJ . . . ‘leaving sellers with a dilemma over whether to pass the increases on consumers and risk crimping an important revenue source amid the broader retail-sector upheaval.’

    No dilemma at all. Not if you want my product. Bottom line? You always pay because there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Whether it’s sales taxes or fuel surcharges (the latter, which UPS implemented when diesel was near $5/gallon and has maintained despite fuel now costing half as much), I don’t care. The consumer is who pays for it, always has, always will. As for the intellectually challenged, e.g. those who who believe in free shipping, hahahaha!

  27. The Rev Kev

    “The Great Truffle Discovery”

    They are lucky that nobody swiped that truffle in storage all those years ago for a great diner experience one Saturday night.

  28. Wukchumni

    Threescore and fourteen years ago my mother brought forth, on this continent, a new infant, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that not all men are created equal. Now we are on the verge of another great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war.

    We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those Confederates who here gave their lives that that nation might continue to be remembered even though they came in second place. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

  29. Lambert Strether Post author

    Mail from Taibbi:

    Note to readers
    Schedule change for this evening
    Matt Taibbi
    Aug 17

    I tried to start the DNC drinking game at MSNBC’s scheduled start time of 7 and was nearly blasted after twelve minutes. New start time: 9 p.m.

  30. Carl

    Lambert: “Of course, it’s not like we give them a lot to live for… ”

    No, but this misbehavior is what they *do* live for. I’m 4 decades older and I miss my social life desperately. As with so many problems, I can’t imagine growing up now, in this soiled land.

Comments are closed.