2:00PM Water Cooler 9/17/2020

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 United States regions:

Pretty soon those upticks are gonna turn into a third wave…

Here’s the global leaderboard, plus a separate curve for the US:

As you can see, the United States, at this point in time, has achieved mediocrity. (India is driving Southeast Asia. The Western Pacific includes China, Japan, and Australia.)


“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 18: Still no changes. August 31: Indiana moves from Likely to Safe Republican. September 9: No changes. September 14: No changes. Despite the sturm and drang, and the polls, the consensus on the electoral college remains the same: Biden ahead, Trump within striking distance.

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

“New Survey Results From KFF/Cook Political Report Survey in AZ, Fl, and NC. AZ Moves to Lean Dem” [Cook Political Report]. “There are two key geographic battlegrounds for the Electoral College this year. One is the Midwest that until 2016, had been reliably Democratic. The other is the fast-growing Sun Belt section of the country that has traditionally voted Republican…. This week, we are releasing the most recent poll that featured 3,479 interviews with voters in Arizona, Florida, and North Carolina. While Trump carried all three states in 2020, he is not leading in any of these states today. Trump and Biden are essentially tied in Florida (Trump 42%, Biden’s 43%) and NC (Trump 43%, Biden 45%). However, in Arizona, Biden has opened up a more substantial lead (Biden 45%, Trump 40%). A Biden win in Arizona would mean that he could afford to lose Michigan or Wisconsin (two of “Blue Wall” consortium) and still eke out an Electoral College win (assuming that he wins all the states Hillary Clinton carried in 2016). Biden could even afford to lose Pennsylvania and still win the Electoral College with a combination of Arizona and Nebraska’s 2nd CD.”

Time to restore the election countdown:

Here, however, is an early voting calendar. Maybe we’ll have a whole series of October surprises, since election day is gradually being devalued as an event.

And here are mail-in voting ruies, which naturally differ state by state.

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Biden (D)(1):

I don’t have time to research whether Navarro-Cárdenas named her dog after Mueller.

Biden (D)(2):

Biden (D)(2):

I’m a lonely voice on this, but you can’t “follow the science,” “simply” or not.

Biden (D)(3): “A Breakdown of the Biden Policy Platform: Five Key Takeaways” [Wharton Business Daily]. “We split the Biden platform into eight focus areas — immigration, taxes, education, research and development (R&D), housing assistance, Social Security, health care, and paid leave — and projected the budgetary and economic effects of Biden’s proposals…. [I]n the long run, by 2050, the Biden platform would reduce the federal debt by 6.1% and boost GDP by 0.8%.”

Biden (D)(4): “Joe Biden assembles legal team ahead of divisive 2020 election” [USA Today]. “Democrat Joe Biden is assembling a team of top lawyers in anticipation of court challenges to the election process that could ultimately determine who wins the race for the White House. Biden’s presidential campaign says the legal war room will work to ensure that elections are properly administered and votes correctly counted. It will also seek to combat voter suppression at the polls, identify foreign interference and misinformation, and educate voters on the different methods available for casting ballots. The effort, which the Biden campaign described as the largest election protection program in presidential campaign history, reflects the extent of the preparation underway for an already divisive presidential contest in November that could produce significant, perhaps even decisive, court cases over voter access and the legitimacy of mail ballots.”

Biden (D)(5): “Joe Biden is Running an Invisible Digital Campaign in All-Important Michigan. That’s Making Some Democrats Nervous” [Time]. “The reason [Don Sabbe] can’t find a dedicated Biden campaign field office is because there aren’t any around here. Not in Macomb County, the swing region where Sabbe lives. It’s not even clear Biden has opened any new dedicated field offices in the state; because of the pandemic, they’ve moved their field organizing effort online. The Biden campaign in Michigan refused to confirm the location of any physical field offices despite repeated requests; they say they have “supply centers” for handing out signs, but would not confirm those locations. The campaign also declined to say how many of their Michigan staff were physically located here. Biden’s field operation in this all-important state is being run through the Michigan Democratic Party’s One Campaign, which is also not doing physical canvassing or events at the moment. When I ask Biden campaign staffers and Democratic Party officials how many people they have on the ground in Michigan, one reply stuck out: ‘What do you mean by ‘on the ground?'” • I can’t figure out whether the Biden campaign is being run by morons or incredibly innovative, post-post-modern, genius. This thread would suggest the former:

This was a week ago. But… After Labor Day? Follow through on this thread:

Biden (D)(6): “Can Biden coast to victory?” [The Week]. “Biden is largely following the strategy of his primary election, in which he coasted to victory on the strength of his reputation and the anxious fears of the electorate. As much as it is distasteful for leftists like me, who strongly opposed him and his passive style in the primary, to admit, it seems so far that the strategy is working. … Importantly, as Jim Newell points out at Slate, much of Biden’s polling strength is based on an unusual group: seniors. Trump won people over 65 by about 9 points in 2016, and Democrats have been losing this demographic for many years, but Biden has made astounding inroads. A poll from last month had him leading 65+ Americans by 17 points. “That would represent a shift of 26 points among the oldest measured demographic from 2016,” Newell writes (though more recent polls have Trump doing better). As he argues, much of this simply must be about COVID-19, which has hit older people very, very hard.”

Trump (R)(1): “Latinos for Trump release ‘Despacito’ video, highlight inappropriate touching allegations against Biden” [The Hill]. “Actually, ‘Despacito’ is the perfect song for Joe Biden,’ the group said in a tweet, along with a video that begins with Biden playing the hit song from his phone after being introduced at the campaign event by the song’s singer, Luis Fonsi. The video then includes footage of Biden putting his arms over women at public events, along with lyrics of the song translated into English: ‘I want to breathe slowly on your neck’ and ‘let me whisper in your ear.’ The ad then cuts to a previous CNN interview with Lucy Flores, a former Nevada state legislator who accused Biden of inappropriate touching at an event in 2014.”

Trump (R)(2): “Trump’s COVID-19 Culpability” [Niskanen Center]. “The fact that the United States’ Center for Disease Control has long been the world’s leader in research, knowledge, experience, and capacity for the control of communicable diseases is important. A number of the public health authorities in the countries that succeeded in using TTSI to suppress the virus have mentioned that they have modeled themselves after the CDC. Shouldn’t we consider countries that aspired to become America’s peers in disease control — that owe their success in controlling Covid-19 in part because they modeled themselves after the CDC — as the relevant set of peer-countries? Yes, we should. Not only have most of these countries looked to us for leadership in disease control for decades, none of them are wealthier than the U.S. And none but Germany comes even close to the U.S. in terms of medical research, innovation, drug development and medical manufacturing. You don’t need to believe in American exceptionalism to see that, until Trump came along, America truly was exceptional in terms of its capacity for a huge pandemic control push.” • As a whole, thiis is a good piece, and I picked out the weakest part. The CDC absolutely butchered testing in the beginning, which this article doesn’t mention. And that wasn’t Trump’s fault, which this article doesn’t claim.

Trump (R)(3): “Voter says she will choose Biden after Trump ‘didn’t answer’ her health care question during town hall” [USA Today]. • Trump accuses Biden of wanting to pass Medicare for All. USA Today corrects the record: “Biden, however, is opposed to Medicare for All.” Nailing that Overton Window into position.

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KY: “McConnell holds 12-point lead over Democratic challenger McGrath: poll” [The Hill]. • Shocking.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Conceptions of Politics” [Stumbling and Mumbling]. “There is a great and overlooked political division today – between those who think policy matters, and those who think it doesn’t…. One conception…. sees it as a form of marketing. It consists in giving voters what they want, even if their preferences are ill-informed, contradictory and endogenous. A second conception regards it as a debased form of theatre, a form of play-acting in which appearance and presentation are everything…. Closely related to this is the tendency to see it as a game. I don’t have to tell you that, too often, this is the media’s conception. But there’s another conception, which has grown in recent years. This regards politics not as a matter of solving (or at least ameliorating) social problems with coherent policy, but rather as unifying your tribe – for example by inventing culture wars.” • There’s that word, “tribe,” again. What does it mean?

“‘The difference is QAnon’: how a conspiratorial hate campaign upended California politics” [Guardian (dk)]. “QAnon followers believe, without evidence, that the world is run by a secret cabal of Satan-worshipping Democrats and Hollywood celebrities who are engaged in wide-scale child trafficking, pedophilia and cannibalism. A national politics infected by QAnon is wholly incompatible with the evidence-based debate and compromises required to govern any society. Within QAnon there is no room for nuance or rationality; there is only good v evil, and any disagreement with QAnon dogma is evidence of abject depravity in the form of child murder.” • The bill (now law) in question. I don’t want to have to read about QAnon. I really don’t.

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UPDATE “What’s at Stake in This Election? The American Democratic Experiment” [Dan Coats, New York Times]. “Our key goal should be reassurance…. I propose that Congress creates a new mechanism to help accomplish this purpose. It should create a supremely high-level bipartisan and nonpartisan commission to oversee the election. This commission would not circumvent existing electoral reporting systems or those that tabulate, evaluate or certify the results. But it would monitor those mechanisms and confirm for the public that the laws and regulations governing them have been scrupulously and expeditiously followed — or that violations have been exposed and dealt with — without political prejudice and without regard to political interests of either party. Also, this commission would be responsible for monitoring those forces that seek to harm our electoral system through interference, fraud, disinformation or other distortions. These would be exposed to the American people in a timely manner and referred to appropriate law enforcement agencies and national security entities. Such a commission must be composed of national leaders personally committed — by oath — to put partisan politics aside even in the midst of an electoral contest of such importance. Commission members undertaking this high, historic responsibility should come from both parties and could include congressional leaders, current and former governors, “elder statespersons,” former national security leaders, perhaps the former Supreme Court justices David Souter and Anthony Kennedy, and business leaders from social media companies.” • Hmm.

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.

“12 September 2020 Initial Unemployment Claims Rolling Average Continues To Decline” [Econintersect]. “The more important (because of the volatility in the weekly reported claims and seasonality errors in adjusting the data) 4 week moving average moved from 973,000 (reported last week as 970,750) to 912,000. Job’s loss since the start of the pandemic is now 61,331,000. Many in this number are now employed or have dropped out of the workforce as all programs continuing claims number is 29,768.326.”

Manufacturing: “September 2020 Philly Fed Manufacturing Survey Index Marginally Declined” [Econintersect]. “The Philly Fed Business Outlook Survey declined but remains well into expansion…. Overall, this report was better than last month’s report as key elements improved.”

Housing: “August 2020 Residential Building Growth Falters” [Econintersect]. “Headline residential building permits and construction completions weakened – with the rolling averages improving… The backward revisions this month were small. It is always difficult to understand the trends as the backward revisions sometimes reverse trends month-to-month. The nature of this industry normally has large variations from month-to-month (mostly due to weather) so the rolling averages are the best way to view this series. Because of the previous strong growth months, the rolling averages say this sector is expanding. We consider this report worse than last month.”

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Retail: “NASA Astronauts Will Shoot Images of an Estée Lauder Product in Space” [Vice]. “A face cream called ‘Advanced Night Repair’ will be part of the ‘first purely commercial activity in NASA’s new regime,’ according to reporter Mark Harris, who broke the news in New Scientist… Up to 10 bottles of the beauty product will be bundled into a cargo resupply run to the station this fall, so that NASA crew members can shoot videos and images with them in the microgravity environment….. The agreement reflects the space agency’s recent push to ‘partner with industry to achieve a strong ecosystem in which NASA is one of many customers purchasing services and capabilities at lower cost” to the ISS….'” • Very on-brand for 2020. And yes, both “partner with” and, worse, “ecosystem” are words to watch out for.

Energy: “The business case for coal is burning out. U.S. coal output and consumption are declining at an accelerating pace despite President Trump’s promise to bring back ‘beautiful, clean coal,’… raising questions about the survival of companies in a sector that’s been battered by the upheaval in global energy markets” [Wall Street Journal]. “A surge in demand for exports from countries such as India and South Korea has faded and the domestic business is losing steam as utilities retire coal-fired power plants and turn to cheap natural gas and renewables to make electricity. As of June, the U.S. was producing some 54% more natural gas than it did a decade earlier. That is crumbling a foundation business for railroads. Coal carloads are down 27.5% so far this year.”

Shipping: “Big shifts in trade patterns are changing the direction of container imports into the U.S. The trade rift with China and a boost in e-commerce are pushing more cargo to East Coast ports…. raising concerns at West Coast seaports that have long been the major gateways for inbound Asia business” [Wall Street Journal]. “The recent arrival of a 15,000-container vessel at Atlantic seaboard sites offered one sign of the trend, but maritime executives say the change has been underway for several years and is accelerating under broad trade developments. Most recently, the U.S. trade dispute with China is pushing companies to set up production centers in Southeast Asia that put vessels in easier reach of the big population centers along the U.S. East Coast.”

Tech: “AWS Aurora PostgreSQL versions vanish from the mega-cloud for days, leaving customers in the dark” [The Register]. “Greg Clough, a software engineer who uses the American super-cloud, noticed that AWS Aurora PostgreSQL v10.12, v10.13, and v11.8 vanished from every AWS region on Monday without explanation. And in some areas, v11.7 evaporated as well. From what we can tell, subscribers’ data was not affected by the disappearing act, rather the software could not be deployed… [W]idespread panic appears to have been averted. Earlier this morning, PostgreSQL v10.12, v10.13, and 11.7 returned to AWS Aurora as silently as they’d left, to some AWS regions at least. That leaves only v11.8 unaccounted for. We hope for its safe return, perhaps with an explanation.” • So the MCAS team went on to Amazon?

Tech: “A New System for Cooling Down Computers Could Revolutionize the Pace of Innovation” [Smithsonian]. “Previous attempts to cool microchips have relied on metal sinks, often combined with fans, that absorb heat and act like an exhaust system. Some data centers rely on fluid flowing through servers to draw away heat. But those systems are designed and fabricated separately and then combined with the chips. [Elison Matioli, a professor in the Institute of Electrical Engineering at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)] and his team have designed and fabricated chips and their fluid cooling systems together. In the new design, the cooling elements are integrated throughout by creating microchannels for fluid within semiconductors that spirit away the heat, save energy, and mitigate the environmental problems created by data centers. Their work also could have important applications in an electrified future, helping eliminate the heat problem and reducing the size of power converters on cars, solar panels and other electronics. ‘The proposed technology should enable further miniaturization of electronics, potentially extending Moore’s Law and greatly reducing the energy consumption in cooling of electronics,’ they write.” • Extending Moore’s Law would indeed be a Big Deal.

Concentration: “Why this author is taking a stand against Amazon’s audiobook dominance” [Fast Company]. “When science fiction writer and activist Cory Doctorow releases his new novel, Attack Surface, next month, you’ll be able to pick up a physical copy from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your local independent bookstore. If you’d prefer an e-book, you’ll be able to download it on Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, and other mainstream digital book platforms. But if you’re someone who prefers an audiobook, you’ll find the novel, which deals with a corporate cybersecurity expert struggling with the morality of her work, absent from one of the biggest audiobook stores on the internet: Amazon’s Audible. Instead, Doctorow is selling the recorded version of the book through a Kickstarter campaign, and it will also be available through non-Amazon vendors like Google’s Play store and libro.fm. That, Doctorow explains, is because audiobooks sold through Audible must be bundled with copyright protection, or digital rights management (DRM) controls, whether authors or publishers want to include such restrictions or not. The DRM technology not only makes it harder to pirate audiobooks, but also restricts playback to devices and software authorized by Audible, which Amazon bought in 2008. For traditional e-books, Amazon lets publishers offering titles on Kindle decide whether or not to include DRM. ‘We should not live in a world where manufacturers get to decide how you use their products once you buy them,’ Doctorow says.”

The Fed: “Powell’s Great War Tactics Catch Markets Off Guard” [Bloomberg]. “As the Federal Reserve’s governors do battle with deflation, and with the markets, they are borrowing some tactics from the First World War. In the classic U.K. sitcom Blackadder Goes Forth, the British general briefs his officers on a ‘brilliant new tactical plan’ — to climb out of their trenches and walk very slowly toward the enemy. To the objection that the British have tried doing this 18 times already, the response is that this will brilliantly allow them to catch the Germans off guard. ‘Doing precisely what we’ve done 18 times before is exactly the last thing they’ll expect us to do this time.'”

The Fed: “Fed defends ‘pedal to the metal’ policy and is not fearful of asset bubbles ahead” [Reuters]. “Powell said the decade-long U.S. economic expansion, which ran prior to the pandemic hitting growth, had included both quantitative easing and low interest rates but was ‘notable for the lack of the emergence of some sort of a financial bubble.’ ‘I don’t know that the connection between asset purchases and financial stability is a particular tight one,’ Powell said in a press conference after the Fed concluded a two-day meeting. The central bank said Wednesday that it will continue to purchase $120 billion in government bonds each month in order to support the economy and does not expect to raise interest rates until at least 2023 in order to let some inflation build in the economy.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 53 Neutral (previous close: 56 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 59 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 17 at 12:15pm.

The Biosphere

“CEOs from GM, ConocoPhillips and more defy Trump’s climate-change stance, push for carbon price” [MarketWatch]. • Oh, great.

“Global quieting of high-frequency seismic noise due to COVID-19 pandemic lockdown measures” [Science]. “Human activity causes vibrations that propagate into the ground as high-frequency seismic waves. Measures to mitigate the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic caused widespread changes in human activity, leading to a months-long reduction in seismic noise of up to 50%. The 2020 seismic noise quiet period is the longest and most prominent global anthropogenic seismic noise reduction on record. Although the reduction is strongest at surface seismometers in populated areas, this seismic quiescence extends for many kilometers radially and hundreds of meters in depth. This quiet period provides an opportunity to detect subtle signals from subsurface seismic sources that would have been concealed in noisier times and to benchmark sources of anthropogenic noise. A strong correlation between seismic noise and independent measurements of human mobility suggests that seismology provides an absolute, real-time estimate of human activities.”

Health Care

“COVID-19 and Smoke Inhalation Symptoms are Hard to Tell Apart” [Scientific American]. “Up and down the West Coast, hospitals and health facilities are reporting an influx of patients with problems most likely related to smoke inhalation…. Facilities already strapped for testing supplies and personal protective equipment must first rule out COVID-19 in these patients, because many of the symptoms they present with are the same as those caused by the virus…. The protocol is to treat the symptoms, whatever their cause, while recommending that the patient quarantine until test results for the virus come back, she said.”

“Population Density Does Not Doom Cities to Pandemic Dangers” [Scientific American]. “[Shima Hamidi, an assistant professor of environmental health and engineering at Johns Hopkins University] looked at some of the confounding factors—metropolitan size, socioeconomic status of residents, quality of health care and adoption of social distancing—when analyzing how density affects COVID-19 spread and mortality in more than 900 U.S. counties. She and her collaborators at the University of Utah found that county density had no significant relationship with infection rate. In fact, higher-density counties were actually associated with lower mortality rates, possibly because residents were more strictly following social-distancing guidelines or had better access to health care.”

Protests and Riots

“‘Outside agitator’ in Daniel Prude protest was a University of Rochester student” [Democrat and Chronicle (WM)]. “After the upheaval of the protest on Sept. 5 in downtown Rochester, police announced nine demonstrators were detained and charged. During a press conference the following day, both Mayor Lovely Warren and former Chief La’Ron Singletary said people from as far away as Massachusetts and Alaska were arrested. Singletary said there was evidence and intelligence pointing to ‘outside agitators’ in our community. During a listening session with City Council Wednesday, it was revealed that the Alaska resident charged with unlawful assembly after the protest is actually a 19-year-old sophomore at the University of Rochester.” • Seems a long way for an antifa bus to go, for one person.

“Documents Reveal How the Police Kept Daniel Prude’s Death Quiet” [New York Times (WM)]. “The documents show how the police attempted to frame the narrative in the earliest hours, playing up Mr. Prude’s potential for danger and glossing over the tactics of the officers who pinned him, naked and hooded, to the ground before he stopped breathing. In a police report on the confrontation, marking a box for ‘victim type,’ an officer on the scene listed Mr. Prude — who the police believed had broken a store window that night — simply as an ‘individual.’ But another officer circled the word in red and scribbled a note. ‘Make him a suspect,’ it read.”


“In America’s Blood” [London Review of Books]. Interesting:

[A]s Frank Smyth points out in his new history of the NRA, the organisation was actually founded because a group of Union Army veterans were dismayed by how few Americans actually knew how to shoot, particularly compared with Europeans. According to one of its founders, George Wingate of the New York National Guard, ‘the Civil War had demonstrated with bloody clarity that soldiers who could not shoot straight were of little value. This situation, and the general ignorance concerning marksmanship which I found among our soldiers during the Civil War, appalled me.’ He assumed that Americans would eventually be drawn into a European war in which they would be outmatched, particularly against the Prussians with their superior rear-loading rifles.

Wingate’s model was the British National Rifle Association, which had been organised to promote the Home Guard in 1859, the year Tennyson wrote ‘Riflemen Form!’; Queen Victoria opened its first meeting by firing on Wimbledon Common. (The British NRA still exists to promote marksmanship ‘throughout the queen’s dominions’ and acknowledges no relationship with its namesake.) Smyth explains that Wingate went to London in the 1870s, and ‘studied how the British had designed their system of competitive shooting, and then got the American NRA to follow their lead’, even turning swampland on Long Island into ‘the spitting image of Wimbledon’. The NRA was privately run, but much of its money came from the government. Shortly before his death, Ulysses S. Grant was made its president, and his name helped. The army paid for NRA shooting matches, and allowed it to buy surplus military rifles at cost. After an outbreak of train robberies, the NRA was put in charge of running shooting courses for railroad mail clerks.

Sports Desk

“Golf, the official sport of social distance, had its best summer in decades” [WaPo]. “Golfers played 10 million more rounds in July than they did a year ago, a 20 percent increase. It’s the largest bump recorded since Golf Datatech, the sport’s leading market research company, started tracking the monthly numbers 20 years ago. Play was up 14 percent year over year in June and 6 percent in May…. It’s quite a turnaround for the entire industry — the game’s busiest stretch following some of the slowest months that golf has seen. And, weather-depending, the stubborn pandemic may only help golf’s boom last deeper into fall. Those around the game say golf is particularly well-suited for pandemic life, offering players space, exercise and a much-needed distraction.” • Golf courses are also a space where movers and shakers can go and feel less vulnerable to bugs, recording devices, etc.

Our Famously Free Press

“How Algorithms Are Changing What We Read Online” [The Walrus]. “Articles that show low engagement typically get sidelined in favour of pieces that show more, a measurement that, along with all of the above, takes into account the click-through rate, or CTR. ‘You’re looking at your analytics,’ Gorham explained to me, ‘and you’re saying, Holy shit, this story’s got a high CTR, let’s move it forward. Surface it—share it on Facebook, put it on the home page, release a news alert, put it in the newsletter.’ That support is key to keeping engagement up. ‘If we don’t juice it,’ he said, ‘it just evaporates.’ In practice, this ensures the less read become even less read. It creates what one might call popularity polarization: a few pieces rise to the top, leaving the rest to fend for themselves. With print, this didn’t happen as much. Flipping pages, you would see every article somewhere. But, on your phone, you scroll through what’s been selected for you. And that selection likely reflects a ruthless narrowing of editorial values and priorities. ‘You don’t try to do everything for everyone,’ is how Gorham described it. ‘It’s all about swinging for the fences. Don’t hit singles, don’t play small ball. You pick your one and you hit it hard.'”

“NYT, Facebook launch multi-year augmented reality reporting project” [Axios]. “The New York Times and Facebook have struck a multi-year partnership to co-develop augmented reality (AR) filters and effects on Instagram that help users access and contextualize New York Times journalism, executives tell Axios.” • I’m so old I remember when reality could be described using words. No “visualization” needed. That was really something.

“h “Dershowitz Sues CNN For $300,000,000 In Defamation Action” [Jonathan Turley]. “Alan Dershowitz just filed a whale of a lawsuit against CNN, though it could end up beached in short order under controlling case law. The Harvard Law professor emeritus is demanding $300,000,000 in compensatory and punitive damages from CNN for misrepresenting his legal arguments in the Trump impeachment trial. In fairness to Dershowitz, the coverage of the trial by CNN was dreadful with intentionally and consistently slanted coverage of the evidence, standards, and arguments. However, the objections raised by Dershowitz are likely to be treated as part of the peril for high-profile figures operating in the public domain. In other words, you can complain about the weather but you cannot sue the storm.” • That’s a lot of zeroes. Why did Dersh stop adding them?”

Class Warfare

“The lifelong studies that hold clues to what today’s kids might have in store” [Nature]. “Psychologists Jay Belsky, Avshalom Caspi, Terrie Moffitt and Richie Poulton have between them set up and run three remarkable projects in New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom, tracking children from birth into their teens, twenties, thirties or forties. Every few years, participants are assessed on everything from their height, weight and impulsivity to their school results, pay, personality and mood…. Perhaps the most important theme that emerges is that although clear continuities exist between childhood and later well-being, these links are far from exact. Human development is probabilistic rather than deterministic, and continues well beyond the first decade of life. Many different processes are likely to underlie such long-term continuities. We see here, for example, instances of the ways in which childhood characteristics can ‘select’ individuals into later environments, so reinforcing early tendencies. Tracked to early adulthood, for example, people who were socially inhibited as toddlers had smaller social circles and less social support than their peers, whereas those who had been impulsive in early childhood often evoked negative responses from family, friends and partners, and in the workplace. Early adversities such as maltreatment, social isolation and bullying can become embedded in our biology, influencing inflammatory processes and stress responses in ways that might, later in life, increase the risk of conditions such as diabetes and poor mental health.”

News of the Wired

“The brain rhythms that detach us from reality” [Nature]. “It is premature to draw definitive conclusions from a single individual. However, Vesuna and colleagues’ work provides compelling evidence that a low-frequency rhythm in the deep posteromedial cortex is an evolutionarily conserved mechanism that underlies dissociation across species. Much of the success of Vesuna and colleagues’ study relies on the reversible dissociative effects of ketamine. At subanaesthetic doses, this fascinating drug elicits dissociation and pain relief (analgesia), and has antidepressant and anti-suicidal properties.” • Hmm. “Fascinating.”

“Google, nobody asked for a new Blogger interface” [TenFourFox Development]. “I’m writing this post in what Google is euphemistically referring to as an improvement. I don’t understand this. I managed to ignore New Blogger for a few weeks but Google’s ability to fark stuff up has the same air of inevitability as rotting corpses…. My biggest objection, however, is what they’ve done to the HTML editor. I’m probably the last person on earth to do so, but I write my posts in raw HTML [No, you’re not.–lambert]. This was fine in the old Blogger interface which was basically a big freeform textbox you typed tags into manually. There was some means to intercept tags you didn’t close, which was handy, and when you added elements from the toolbar you saw the HTML as it went in. Otherwise, WYTIWYG (what you typed is what you got). Since I personally use fairly limited markup and rely on the stylesheet for most everything, this worked well. … By switching into HTML view, you lose ($#@%!, stop indenting that line when I type emphasis tags!) the ability to insert hyperlinks, images or other media by any other means other than manually typing them out. You can’t even upload an image, let alone automatically insert the HTML boilerplate and edit it.” • I don’t know why programmers who write editors, especially browser-based editors, feel such disrespect for the needs of writers. WordPress’s Gutenberg editor is horrid, and they will pry the HTML editor from my cold, dead hands.

“Pericles” (podcast) [Melvyn Bragg, In Our Time, BBC]. • This channel had been silent for some time, so I’m glad to see it come alive again. (“In Our Time” is a great, and I have an NC commenter to thank for it.)

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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 (CR):

CR writes: “The older I get, the more luxurious I find the green tapestry, and the less I crave a lot of flowers. But the pollinators need flowers & we need the pollinators, so…” I still like flowers! Lots of them! But what a lovely nook, and what a lovely photo.

* * *

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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. anon

    At the end of the day, how do conspiracy promoters like QAnon differ from “anonymous sources” such as in The Atlantic?

      1. Billy

        Steve Jobs widow’s gossip column, with a magazine to go along with it? We should all heed the wise words of billionairesses who made their money with her ring finger.

        1. Regular Person Username

          America’s Kool Aid shortage continues as angry, heavily indoctrinated MAGA enthusiasts chug it by the pitcher daily.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            I’m so old I remember that origin story of the phrase “reality-based community,” and how Democrat supporters in the blogosphere (including, then, me) embraced it. After 2016 and 2020 — really, since 2008 — it’s been quite clear that KoolAid consumption is massive across the political spectrum, albeit of different flavors.

  2. Toshiro_Mifune

    Anon followers believe, without evidence, that the world is run by a secret cabal of Satan-worshipping Democrats and Hollywood celebrities who are engaged in wide-scale child trafficking, pedophilia and cannibalism.
    Not so much defending QAnon as pointing out that we certainly do have evidence of wide-scale child trafficking and pedophilia among Hollywood elites and, at least by inference, among Democratic (and Republican) elites.

    A national politics infected by QAnon is wholly incompatible with the evidence-based debate and compromises required to govern any society. Within QAnon there is no room for nuance or rationality; there is only good v evil,
    The latter has largely been my experience of American politics, from both major parties, for almost my entire life and I’m 50.

    1. farragut

      I don’t know anything about QAnon, and like our good host Lambert, I wish to keep it that way. I agree with you that some of their claims are entirely plausible due to the numerous ‘evidence-based’ examples seen coming from the Catholic Church, Hollywood, Washington DC, the Boy Scouts, the BBC, etc.

      I have absolutely no trouble believing pedophilia is widespread amongst our sociopathic elites, given the lack of accountability they seemingly face (save for the occasional scapegoat thrown to the wolves). In fact, I’d be surprised if it weren’t happening.

      1. pjay

        QAnon serves our increasingly dysfunctional system very nicely. It polarizes and sheep-herds one portion of the electorate; after all, who could even think of supporting child-torturing cannibals? On the other hand, for the “educated” electorate, it serves to completely undermine the credibility of those trying to expose *real* activities — say, sexual blackmail by intelligence agencies (including that of pedophiles) or the use of those agencies to push a fake *treason* case based on “Russian collusion.” Whoever is behind QAnon, and whatever their motives, it has the same effect as Infowars – to conflate *real* conspiracies with a bunch of bulls**t and combine it all as crazy “conspiracy theory.” There was a lot of trashing of the idea that ‘Q’ was an intelligence op last week. Maybe that was warranted. But it might as well be. It has the same effects.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          I had never thought of this angle. ” Qanon” as an Intelligence Operation designed to discredit the idea of “conspiracy theories” and to muddy all waters and confuse all issues.

          ” Are you saying that Jeffrey Epstein was a pedophile? with underage GIRLS? and his OWN PRIvate ISLAND!? What are you . . . some kind of Qanon lunatic?”

    2. Pelham

      Nicely said. I was going to make a similar comment, but about cancel culture– very Qanon-like in its thunderous judgments.

    3. clarky90

      Redemption Through Sin

      Professor Gershom Scholem (1897-1982) first professor of Jewish Mysticism at Hebrew University of Jerusalem.


      “… In traditional Sabbatean doctrine, Zevi – and often his followers – claimed to be able to liberate the sparks of holiness hidden within what seemed to be evil. … Frank claimed that the “mixing” between holy and unholy was virtuous…”


      What’s Behind the Frankist-Sabbatean Movement and its Cult of the Evil?


      “Do what you want, and you will be saved. That is the message of Frankism, a cult which originated in the 18th century and has followers until our present days. The nihilist religion of Frankism preaches “redemption through sin”. This doctrine of “the sacred sin” demands to annihilate moral religion or any other ethical belief system. If we cannot be saints, let us all be sinners.

      The “true way” of the “believers” is going the path of the evil in order to redeem oneself and humankind. Frankism praises the redemptive powers of destruction to bring deliverance to the world.

      ….. Jacob Frank (1726–91) …said of himself that “wherever I set foot, all will be destroyed, for I came into this world only to destroy and to annihilate”?

      The Collection of the Words of the Lord [Jacob Frank]
      from the Polish manuscripts

      edited, translated, and annotated

      Harris Lenowitz
      Professor of Hebrew, University of Utah


      1. clarky90

        Conspiracy of Silence……(Jacob Frank)

        “….The way of deliverance is deceitful, and the followers of Jacob Frank have to be “perfectly silent”. The mystic principle of Frankism is “the burden of silence”. The followers must maintain a great reserve, and each must appear different from what one really is. Appearance must be upheld while the evil gets done and death comes before confession.
        Frankism has no need of scholars, priests, rabbis or gurus. On the contrary, keeping silent is the true way. The right way is not to talk and to give presentations but to act with all force and to go the way of silence. The “believers” must carry the “burden of silence” and remain clandestine…..”

          1. clarky90

            “Frankism” may explain some of the (in my mind) inexplicable events/actions that have been tormenting the World; The widely distributed, illogic has baffled and confused me for years. It was as if I trying to make sense of someone (Our World) having a full blown psychotic episode? (WTF!!!! is going on here? How could my World behave in this destructive and bad way??)

            Why are/were Purdue Pharma allowed to sell opioids? …..the mortgage markets be allowed to (encouraged to) blow up and millions of homes subsequently foreclosed on? Hedge Funds buying up trailer parks? Trillions of bucks to the banks and not much to struggling people….

            on and on and on. fraud after fraud…..often described here on NC….

    4. dcblogger

      my personal theory of QAnon is that it is misdirection. Yeah, child trafficking exists, but not in the basment of Pizza parlors.

      1. clarky90

        Hi dcblogger. In your opinion, does child trafficking exist on privately owned islands in the Caribbean?

    5. Person

      Within QAnon there is no room for nuance or rationality; there is only good v evil,

      Ha! I missed that. Absolutely nothing new here. This entirely describes Bush’s “with us or against us” as well as his “axis of evil”, the right’s blind hatred of Obama, Hillary’s “deplorables”, and Trump’s own skilled division tactics.

      In my view QAnon is of little consequence, just another try at a moral panic that could be used to whip up support for censorship and more extreme social control measures.

    6. Lambert Strether Post author

      > wide-scale child trafficking and pedophilia among Hollywood elites

      Plus, as I keep saying, the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts, the BBC, and the House of Representatives (Denny Hastert). And that’s before we get to the curious failure of our famously free press to systematically trace the individuals listed in Epstein’s flight logs and Rolodex (and even more curiously to investigate the apparent failure of the intelligence community to acquire and leverage an enormous trove of compromising material known to have been recorded on video).

      QAnon is a fun house mirror, incredibly distorted. But it is mirroring reality (and filling, to mix metaphors grossly, a vacuum in the discourse that is not otherwise filled).

      NOTE And I still want to know who the original Q was. That there’s been no reporting on that is stunning, or completely normal, take your pick.

      1. pjay

        “QAnon is a fun house mirror, incredibly distorted. But it is mirroring reality (and filling, to mix metaphors grossly, a vacuum in the discourse that is not otherwise filled).”


  3. Ignacio

    Indeed, following the science is quite a stupid way of saying nothing, Science is Science (pardon me) not policy. It strikes me that he may be saying that if he is elected will be all day long browsing scientific journals while Harris does the Presidential tasks.

    1. Acacia

      You mean … actual reading? Joe…? Okay, I know you’re joking.

      Of course with Biden, “the science” will go out the window as soon as the donors get uncomfortable.

    2. jr

      Seeing “Play-doh” Joe reading a scientific journal would be a stunner…I’m certain the browsing scientific journals quickly becomes dozing the scientific journals…

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Science is Science (pardon me) not policy

      Science is contested, by definition. You have to pick the paradigm and school of thought (“to govern is to choose”).

      “Following the science” could, at one point, have meant accepting the phlogiston theory of combustion, science at the time, competing with the oxygen theory of combustion, also science at the time.

      More concretely, this year “following the science” would have meant accepting WHO’s and Fauci’s lies on masks, and WHO’s intractability on droplets v. aerosols. At the time. (And also Fauci’s ramping of Gilead’s stock, which didn’t turn out so great from the “science” aspect.)

      “Follow the science” is the stupidest and most vacuous slogan imaginable, suitable only for authoritarian followers (hence having great resonance in the Democrat base that supports Biden).

      “Follow the science” also means, in operational terms, this slogan: “All Power to the PMC!” (see Thomas Frank*). That power struggle is, in fact, the crux of 2020, as it was, following the Obama Alumni Association’s miserably inadequate performance, in 2016 as well. Not that either party has great clarity on this.

      Readers who have been following me for awhile know that I stan for science; I constantly link to Nature, Science, PNAS, NEJM, JAMA, the various pre-print archives, etc. I read the science as best I can and quote it, because it’s dulce et utile. So what really frosts me is PMCs as a class slipstreaming on the work of scientists within their class, who are, in the main, good faith actors who want nothing better than to count mosquitos in malaria infested swamps, or stomp through ice and snow of the Arctic digging boreholes and taking samples. The paradigmatic example of my hatred here is Andy Slavitt of US of Care, who will leverage his genuinely good work as an aggregator of Covid tweets into the moral prestige necessary to sabotage #MedicareForAll on behalf of his funders, thereby killing tends of thousands people (mostly not PMCs, certainly not rich, so it’s all good). It’s disgusting. The same goes for cargo cults like mainstream macro, which confuses science with the use of italic letters, and is responsible worldwide for many thousands of deaths through austerity.

      Of course, disempowering PMCs has a price, given that the entire political economy is constructed to enable their predatory precarity on behalf of capital; certainly the Covid death rate is to an extent due to that (modulo the CDCs testing debacle, which would have destroyed the ability of any administration to respond to a multiplicative pandemic in time, and which is certainly an example of PMC auto-defenestration). Then again, the PMCs who ran Obama’s response to the Crash were responsible for a lot of excess deaths, too, in the form of suicides, especially, followed by those deaths of despair that continue not to be a political issue. So you pays your money and you takes your choice….

      NOTE * In Le Monde Diplomatique. Naturally.

  4. Wukchumni

    Retail: “NASA Astronauts Will Shoot Images of an Estée Lauder Product in Space” [Vice]. “A face cream called ‘Advanced Night Repair’ will be part of the ‘first purely commercial activity in NASA’s new regime,’ according to reporter Mark Harris, who broke the news in New Scientist… Up to 10 bottles of the beauty product will be bundled into a cargo resupply run to the station this fall, so that NASA crew members can shoot videos and images with them in the microgravity environment…..
    Cosmetics runs into cosmology, does this lack of atmosphere make me look fat?

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      It is kinda sad. Imo, NASA really has no further use for the ISS. The primary justification*, learning how humans will fare in microgravity for extended periods, has been addressed. Basic technologies, such as urine and sweat recycling, have been developed and refined. Now, it is merely an incredibly complicated and expensive national vanity.

      And, I hear Tom Cruise is to film the next Mission Impossible there. Maybe some lotion will be there for him.

      *old joke.

      Q: Why do we need the shuttle?
      A: Duh. To get to the space station.
      Q: Well, why do we need the space station?
      A: Duh. To give the shuttle somewhere to go.

      1. Pelham

        But we need a space station as a base from which astronauts can go around and replace worn-out vacuum tubes in our satellites.

        We’ve been studying the horrid effects of micro-gravity on human beings for about 60 years and haven’t made a jot of progress on the subject. Even the reduced gravity of the moon or Mars is likely to mess with human health.

        Let’s forget this solar system and build a technologically feasible cosmic telescope (using the sun as a lens) that would allow us to view in detail the genuinely Earth-like planets many light years away to see what’s happening there. And then we should forget rockets and start working on the technology that will take us to these actually desirable places in realistic time frames.

        1. anon y'mouse

          or, we could try to preserve the place we evolved to be and are designed to live on. and try to make it better in itself, and for each other.

          nah, waste it on rockets!

        2. Keith

          I think part of the issue with a lack of progress is the lack of competition. The moon landing was a result of the space race and a desire to beat the Soviets. I think if we had some other rallying cry to beat whoever with some nationalistic fervor to go with it (like the Olympics do), then there may be some imperative to get something accomplished.

        3. WobblyTelomeres

          Pelham: Even the reduced gravity of the moon or Mars is likely to mess with human health.

          I agree, being of the opinion that we are, forever, Earthlings. Never pleased the human spaceflight “boots on the ground” astronaut fanbois. Still, my better half makes me watch The Right Stuff 2 or 3 times a year.

          Pelham: Let’s forget this solar system and build a technologically feasible cosmic telescope (using the sun as a lens)

          Cool. Hadn’t heard of this. I think you’re referring to this:


          Interesting is this:

          “To get this resolution without the magnifying power of the Sun, we calculate that you would need a telescope with a diameter of about 75,000 kilometers, or about six times the diameter of the Earth. This is, to put it mildly, impractical.”

          Not so fast! There is another way. In my last pie-in-the-sky suggestion to NASA, I proposed positioning a ring of cubesat-based radio telescopes over the course of a year in orbit around the sun, creating an astronomical interferometer with a diameter equal two Astronomical Units (AU) or 300 million kilometers.

          Alas, too too pie-in-the-sky.

      2. The Rev Kev

        It was never meant to be this way. The original idea decades ago of having a space station was a place that you could build spaceships that could travel through the solar system with whether manned or not. It should have been a spaceport rather than a space station. But instead the governments of the world decided to throw trillions on the military annually instead as that made more people richer – and our planet poorer.

        1. polecat

          As for ‘a bowl of Cold Nancy’ .. ??

          Or, considering the recent musings by the opposition’s reference to ‘Tidal packets’, maybe a ‘Pod of Cold Nancy’ isn’t so far fetched.

          The thought of a pod person as third in line to run the show, scares me .. as the non-pod person in question, is almost used up!

      1. John A

        With no gravity, would you even need a face lift, or to boost various sagging body parts of normal earthlings?

  5. allan

    Search for new director of U of T law faculty’s International Human Rights Program leads to resignations,
    allegations of interference
    [Toronto Star]

    The faculty advisory board of the International Human Rights Program (IHRP) at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law has resigned following a controversy over the hiring of a new director for the program.

    Edward Iacobucci, dean of the prestigious law school, has come under fire, accused of rescinding an offer of directorship to prominent international academic Valentina Azarova.

    Several national and international scholars wrote to the university to express their consternation that the reversal came after reports of pressure from a sitting judge — a major donor to the faculty. He reportedly expressed concerns in private over Azarova’s past work on the issue of Israel’s human rights abuses in Palestine. …

    Harper’s letter writers to the white courtesy phone … or not.

  6. Tom Doak

    Trump’s plan for clean coal is horrid, but isn’t Biden hawking clean coal via carbon capture?

    Is that another example of following the science? Or is it just that both of them want Appalachia’s votes and neither has the foggiest idea how to revive its economy in any other way than preserving the (obviously failing) status quo?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > isn’t Biden hawking clean coal via carbon capture

      Biden on climate policy:

      A union leader on Joe Biden’s transition team yesterday pitched the Democratic presidential nominee’s climate plan as an “all of the above” energy strategy, while an additional union official used the same campaign event to tout “clean coal.”

      The fossil fuel-friendly language at a virtual Wisconsin roundtable — which Biden did not attend — is the latest sign that Democrats remain divided over how to reduce carbon emissions if they win power, even as they have united over the short-term goal of defeating President Trump.

      Biden’s climate plan has helped the centrist former vice president bridge the party’s ideological split. Yesterday’s event, however, demonstrated how it could also open new rifts.

      The plan’s biggest concession to the political left is a 2035 deadline for eliminating electricity-sector emissions. But union leaders’ comments suggest they might resist policies that endanger oil, gas or even coal jobs.

      Lonnie Stephenson, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers president and a member of Biden’s transition team, said electrical workers toil on the front lines of climate change whenever they respond to wildfires or hurricanes.

      That experience means energy workers appreciate the stakes of climate change, he said, but it doesn’t change their need for good jobs.

      “Successful social solutions to climate change must be based on an all-of-the-above energy source strategy that is regionally focused and preserves optionality,” Stephenson said, referencing joint policymaking efforts by unions and former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz (Energywire, April 22).

      Biden’s plan has strong labor protections, he said, adding that climate programs must emphasize “preservation of existing jobs where possible.”

      Stephenson is a member of the Biden campaign’s Climate Engagement Advisory Council, which he said meets “virtually every week.” He did praise the Democratic nominee’s goal of reaching net-zero emissions — though he made no mention of the timeline, which he has sometimes cast as unrealistic.

      “Democrats remain divided.” Let me translate that: “Democrat leadership has hung out a ‘For Sale’ sign on the issue.”

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        What I find interesting is that Dems have been willing to throw industrial unions under the bus forever through free trade deals but are apparently completely afraid of the construction unions on climate. That would suggest to me that its not pandering to the unions; it’s pandering to the corporations and using the unions for cover.

  7. Carolinian

    Re Melvyn Bragg–he always takes a late summer break. At the end of last season he was sounding a bit hoarse and under the weather and I was worried about him. He’s no spring chicken and has been with the BBC since the 1960s.

    If he’s back on schedule then presumably it wasn’t the dread disease.

    And re e-books–my library offers the Kindle option which I avoid because Kindle is a spybot. But they also allow you to read books on Overdrive’s excellent browser reader which has an option for downloading onto your computer and reading offline. Unfortunately some books–and they don’t tell you in advance which ones–do not allow this. As I see it any book reader that is required to be hooked to the internet is also a spybot.

    Paper the way to go after all?

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Well . . . once the internet goes dark for good and stays dark for good; and/or if a Carrington Level Solar Coronal Mass Ejection 2.0 fries, burns, ignites every chip and wire and every digital everything; the people who went paper or stayed paper will be laughing and the people who went digital will be crying.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Paper the way to go after all?

      I find paper books much easier to read than on-screen books, and I’m extremely online (with a 12.9-inch iPad, so none of this cellphones-with-tiny-screens crap for me).

  8. Big River Bandido

    Didn’t click on the NYT article because it’s behind a paywall. Wasn’t Dan Coats a Senator from Indiana?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Clear your cookies; in any case, that’s why I give hopefully representative snippets.

      He was, but more to the point he was as the Director of National Intelligence — under Trump (!).

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          That’s certainly a long range goal to torture and terrorise our governating classes into permitting when we have the power to torture and terrorise them that much.

          But for now, that “Commission” is the only thing we will be offered in time for this election. Is it better than nothing? Worse than nothing? Better decide fast, because the hourglass is ticking, and the sand is running out of the meter.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > IDK, instead of a commission, couldn’t we just do hand marked paper ballots, hand counted, in public?

          No. Neither party will give up the capability to steal elections, which is the unique selling proposition of ballot marking devices.

          The purpose of the Commission is to assure a non-violent transition of power, not to actually validate the election (because if that was their goal, they would, as you say, be supporting hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public).

  9. Louis Fyne

    — I can’t figure out whether the Biden campaign is being run by morons or incredibly innovative, post-post-modern, genius. This thread would suggest the former:—

    You saw this w/Hillary 2016 and I’d bet it rings true w/Harris 2020—-Dem. management and staffers just do not want to be sent to Flyover-land, particularly–heaven forbid—any of the smaller 100k-500k cities that dot middle of the country.

    Everyone wants to stay in Brooklyn (2016) or Philly (2020). What a profile in courage!

    1. km

      From the point of view of the average frustrated Team D staffer – you want to be, you need to be where the action is, where the deals are cut and where the jobs and assignments and contracts and grift are being allocated..

      Anything else is like a courtier in Louis XIV’s France being sent on an assignment away from Versailles.

      1. John k

        Never to be seen or heard again.
        But what if somebody sent to, say, Michigan… even, say, Detroit… supervises the local dem rubes, and holds the state for Biden? Wonder what his her reward would be… stay there for 2024?

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      This reminds me of John Stewart’s “roving newsman in the field” Assif Manvi, during one of the presidential primary campaign seasons.

      Manvi was being shown standing out next to a field somewhere, and leading his Report From The Field with . . . . ” Is this Hell!? NO! It’s IOWA!” I don’t know if that clip can be found anywhere on the internet.

  10. km

    In re: QAnon: Remember the old NESARA conspiracy theory, the idea that Congress had enacted a super secret law that would make everyone rich, sort of a strawman MMT, but Mean Republicans wouldn’t let him make the secret law public, because, you know, Mean Republicans?

    For purposes of this exercise, ignore the content of NESARA. Instead, look at the kinds of people who bought into NESARA, the people who bought “prosperity certificates” peddled by obvious charlatans, the people who wrote letters to Congress urging the publication of the secret law, the people who scanned the news for clues that the free money was going to show up in their bank accounts any day now, just you see!

    More importantly, look at the economic situation of many of these people. They were, I suspect, not so much stupid or even naive, so they were lost, confused and frantic, a precariat desperately looking for an Answer as their hold on a middle class existence sank beneath the waves.

    1. Oh

      The precariat began to increase with IRS regs that allowed “contract workers” so that employers didn’t have to withhold taxes nor pay health insurance. It also allowed them to fire layoff these people at will without any severance pay.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Perhaps those regs should be outlawed. That would be something for a ” Renew The Deal” to run on. Among other things.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      On NESARA.

      This is the second time I’ve hit “Logically.ai” on a CT search this week and to be fair the content reads well. That said, “The genuinely sly man will not rationalize any coincidence. Instead, he’ll slam doors” (John D. McDonald, The Turquoise Lament). From their About page:

      Logically is a social enterprise that builds tools to adapt to the constantly evolving nature of the information ecosystem. We use ensemble machine learning models in combination with human intelligence to address the key challenges posed by the digital age.

      From the Articles page:

      Logically employs the world’s largest team of dedicated fact-checkers. We digest news stories, rumours, and conspiracy theories to help you separate the facts from the fakery in your news diet.

      Here’s the leadership team.

      From PR Newswire:

      Founded in 2017 by MIT and Cambridge alum Lyric Jain, Logically is a social enterprise that leverages artificial and human intelligence to credibly curate news and social discourse today. Working with government bodies and social platforms, and providing consumer products, the company solves for the issue of misinformation that plagues the world today. The company has offices in the U.K. and India, and is opening an office in the U.S. For more information, please visit Logically.ai.

      They’re a private startup with headquarters in London.

      Their software:

      Jain is the founder of Logically, a UK-based fact-checking app which hopes to transform the way we consume news. Combining AI technology and human researchers, Logically integrates fact-checking into an RSS-style news feed. Articles pulled from major publishers are marked as “true” or “false” on the app, unifying what had previously been two processes — the act of reading news articles, and then fact-checking their content — into one experience. Users can also upload forwarded text or WhatsApp messages into the app to have them fact-checked.

      That’s insane. Truth or falsity inheres, at the very most, at the paragraph level (certainly the sentence level) and not on the article level. Surely everyone here has read an article that’s complete drivel except for a single brilliant insight or fact(oid)? This is exactly the kind of mistake I would expect a 24-year-old programmer to make.

  11. Wukchumni

    Headed up to Mineral King one last wistful time to retrieve objects d’art and turn off my propane tank. They’ve been really anal retentive about mandatory evacuation around these parts, in the post-Paradise world and as luck would have it, today might be my last chance.

    1. skippy

      In retrospect, as I noted yesterday, my sons great uncle is more concerned about prepping for the bush fire season than he is concerned about Covid, albeit it does complicate things. Hence why the old boy network is making sure the lines of communication and alternatives to state or fed response is at the ready.

      As always during such times people you can trust is at premium, would think your wealthy in that regard.

      1. Wukchumni

        Among friends i’ve talked to, this is everybody’s first ever mandatory evacuation for a good many, and I never knew there were so many horses here, as every eighth truck has a horse trailer leaving town, cats are easier.

        I raked (homage to glorious leader) out 10x 40 gallon bags of leaves, needles and other ready to burns from 50 feet around buildings last week, and then shamed 2 other friends into doing something similar, and a lot got done in a hurry on both fronts.

        It’s something we should have done anyhow, merely needed the whip hand to slit our risks.

        The fire looks licked (…he had to say that…} for firefighters did a backfire and then took advantage of southerly winds giving the maelstrom no fuel to feast on, game set & match (strike anywhere)

        1. skippy

          These property’s already have tree clearance from way back, on your own back days. Even then bulldozer up grades are being sought, old small ones for specific areas and new bigger ones for more open areas.

          Most have at least a months food from town stocked and then have meat on the hoof as needed. In my sons uncles case they have not only the guest compound and old workers kitchen-bunkhouse, but his two sons have small spec houses for their families with in the two acre-ish compound.

          Son is going back up for x-mas and I’m glad he’s getting exposure to this social circle.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > Son is going back up for x-mas and I’m glad he’s getting exposure to this social circle.

            Yep. I wonder how many others are thinking like this. I would bet a lot.

  12. dcblogger

    one of the most depressing things about our times is watching the West Coast burn and the Gulf Coast get pounded by hurricanes and KNOW there will be no helpful government response. We need billions to rebuild people’s lives and none of it will be forthcoming.

    1. skippy

      Yeah but, that would mess with force majeure et al claims and other market functions, per se the investors suing Universities for refunds.

      Similarly some aged care facilities here in Australia, after being bought by American investors, and stripped mined now have residents seeking legal recourse …. see last post on libertarian nightmare.

      Did someone say Veblen – ????

    1. Oh

      With her new boots Kamala and Michelle (with her hip length snakeskin boots) can both walk the runway, although I ‘d prefer that they run away. Biden can follow using his walker.

    2. polecat

      She at least coulda scuffed them up a bit ..

      Not a fleck of dirt, not a smear of charcoal … not even a light dusting of ash, on those brand new treads she be wearin.

      What a PozerPhony she is!

      …. but she repeats herself

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Be serious, voters holding their noses and pulling the lever for Biden know they are in fact getting Kamala for prez.

        That’s fine for the Blue PMC, but I’m just wondering how the 100M undecideds feel about getting a complete lightweight woman, who never finished a job in her life, in her casual camo outfit with her Timberlands up on the desk in The Oval Office.

        Not that I think it will matter, people will do as they are told by CNN, CBS, NBC, and Google

  13. hemeantwell

    Early adversities such as maltreatment, social isolation and bullying can become embedded in our biology,

    Erm, what about those calamities leading to you carrying around models of social relations that are frightening and, since you have to live in the midst of frightening social relations, you experience “stress” and attendant neurochemical imbalances? Just how do the researchers know that those mediating relational models have gone poof, and so we can really be said to be dealing with an unmediated biological determinant?

  14. Matthew G. Saroff

    I wholeheartedly agree on the new Blogger f%$#ed up interface. It sucks. (My blog here)

    What’s more because of some weirdness with the way that they have setup the html box, my tagging context menu extension for Firefox, bbCodeWebex, does not work on the page.

    I’m still trying to figure out why.

    Google has been pulling this crap for a while, which in one case f%$#ed up google search for blogspot.

    It’s why I avoid cloud apps like the plague, when they do something awful, like the Microflaccid ribbon, you have no choice about it.

  15. verifyfirst

    A small field report from Ypsilanti, Michigan–there is a storefront state Democratic Party office in town, which is always there, year round, since at least 10 years. I have actually never seen a person in there–normally it is not open. They now appear extremely busy–people walking out with Biden signs etc. And I have actually seen several Biden signs on lawns in my neighborhood–at least one at a former Bernie sign house.

    As for Mr. Coates, that horse left the barn a long time ago–maybe something like he suggests would have been helpful in ….2000….. but nobody today is going to believe anything a group of super-insiders like he proposes say……

    1. rowlf

      Can you Fedex me something from Sidetracks?

      Isn’t the Democratic Party in the building that insurance and real estate agent Jack Brown was murdered in in 1984?

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      I wonder how the people of Flint feel about Governor Rick ” The Lead Poisoner” Snyder endorsing Joemala Bidarris for President? Will it sway their votes? And if so, which way?

  16. Cue Ball

    “‘The difference is QAnon’: how a conspiratorial hate campaign upended California politics”

    In my opinion, the single most far fetched thing that QAnon cultists believe is that President Trump is actively trying to counter the horrors they talk about.

    1. Aumua

      It’s not just that Trump is working to expose this radical left democratic “cabal”. It’s that he has been chosen by God to do this (indeed Trump has called himself the chosen one), that it is the main reason he decided to become president, and that mass arrests are always either happening right now (behind the scenes) or just about to happen.

      I’m starting to see signs though that all this exposure to the mainstream is probably going to change the character of the QAnon movement, although I don’t know exactly how.

  17. Oh

    “Biden is largely following the strategy of his primary election, in which he coasted to victory on the strength of his reputation and the anxious fears of the electorate.”
    Really? Did he coast to victory with Obamba and DNC pushing his go cart from behind while fixing the polls and asking the others to step down? Everytime I see his face I can’t help but feel that he looks ashen and uninspiring. He needs to see a doctor.

    1. ChrisAtRU

      #Exactly … I guess if one wanted to give such an assertion the benefit of the doubt, one would have to consider the primary akin to a race in two portions: an uphill and a downhill. Assuming each participant competed in an engine-less vehicle (like a box cart), each would have had to push their cart uphill then coast down the other side. Obama intervened half way into the up hill portion and absconded with one of Bernie’s wheels, allowing Biden to coast to victory.

      How’s that sound?

      1. RMO

        Didn’t he start out by getting almost no delegates in the early primaries and only started winning after the DNC and establishment movers and shakers began pushing him with all their might? His win in the Dem primaries was “coasting” in the same way that a cyclist being pushed along all the time by a guy riding a Honda CBR1000 in combination with a special exception to the rules just for them could be said to have “coasted” to victory in the Tour De France.

        I can’t predict for sure who is going to win the US presidential election but I already know who will lose – about 90% of the population.

      2. Oh

        Knowing Obama, that’s typical – he wants to steer. I hope Biden crashes and Obama’ll get egg spattered on his face.

  18. marku52

    Moore’s law is about shrinking the transistor switches so you can fit more of them into a given size. Since they are already using X ray lithography (visible light wavelengths are too big) and the insulation surface in a switch FET is now only one or 2 atoms thick, it’s hard to see how a different cooling technology helps this.

    Not to say that getting rid of the heat isn’t a big problem, just that the 2 aren’t related.

    1. S. Goodlin

      Moore in 1965 made an observation some one else turned it into a ‘law’. As a chip designer you are right and wrong. No how I put the transistors isn’t directly connected to heat, but once I power the chip on I do have a heat problem. So, if I can add to the technology to make transistors also cooling channels- well why not. Thing is I don’t see myself using this technology outside of a lab or a real special made to order cpu. Cooling inside the chip with liquid adds way to much complexity to something that already is way too complex.

    2. ewmayer

      I’m thinking the obvious implication of effective microfluidic-channel cooling is that would allow stacking layers of compute surface vertically, i.e. “extending Moore’s Law” by going from 2D to 3D in terms of transistor density.

  19. John

    Will an “FDR-like” figure rise up to smite the money-changers? The horizon looks bare, but then FDR became something other than what he seemed. Will there be an epiphanous moment when simply everyone realizes that unless we take drastic action a good sized chunk of the earth is going to become too unbearably hot for humans to survive much less thrive? I see no evidence. Please show me that I am wrong. I find it difficult to bear the thought that my grandchildren must suffer the consequences of the greed and inattention of today.

    1. hunkerdown

      Beautiful. Dmitry Orlov recently penned an article called “Taxi drivers know everything.” [Fact check: true] The interesting thing in Orlov’s article was the level of strategic political knowledge obtainable just from the gossip within a widely dispersed family unit. Imagine the ease with which such a strike could go worldwide…

  20. jo6pac

    “Commission members undertaking this high, historic responsibility should come from both parties and could include congressional leaders, current and former governors, “elder statespersons,” former national security leaders, perhaps the former Supreme Court justices David Souter and Anthony Kennedy, and business leaders from social media companies.” • Hmm.”

    That’s a great little list they got maybe throw in attorney loo and how a chaney doesn’t matter which one. They can fly in from their location first class to a high end resort have a some wonderful food and ice cream and maybe a few rounds of golf on the Amerikan tax payer. They could have some guest speakers from the 1%. Why have an election?

    1. edmondo

      Their role would be to make sure another Trump doesn’t happen. The last four years have been very distressful to elite. Kamala seems to be another brand of dog food that the dogs won’t eat. Better we should have The Tribunal select the right candidate in case the proles get uppity again.

  21. ewmayer

    Re. CA wildfires — been exchanging e-mails last several days with a former Sillycon Valley friend about air quality in our respective locales – I’m now in Marin county, he’s still in Santa Clara. In the context of discussing Trump’s visit to CA and meet-up with the governor yesterday, a rather interesting irony struck me. Here my note to him:

    I dislike how the MSM and pols are painting the fire problem in strictly binary terms – Newsom et al say it’s global warming, Trump et al say it’s a century+ of fire suppression and lack of prescribed burning. It’s both – fire suppression and “must protect people’s properties at all costs, even those built in historically fire-prone areas” policy led to a massive accumulation of fuel, global warming made the resulting dry-tinder-ness and mega-scale wildfires that much worse.

    And the real problem with only blaming global warming is that it’s a cop-out, for many pols it provides a built-in excuse to do nothing but get on one’s soap box and point fingers at the evil global-warming deniers. The deniers may be delusional fools or industry-lobbyists with an agenda, but the fact of global warming is overwhelmingly an indictment of rampant western-style capitalism and consumer culture – the exponential “growth” so beloved by economists on a finite planet is a recipe for disaster. Insofar as we are living that lifestyle we are all complicit, whether we deny global warming or not.

    Come to think of it, it’s actually quite ironic – let’s compare the opposing views of the 2 binary camps and see which offers the better odds of actually improving the fire situation:

    1. “It’s global warming” – obviously we’re dealing with forces beyond our control, we can only rail against the GW-deniers as we drive our SUVs around.

    2. “It’s misguided fire suppression policies” – so let’s get serious about large-scale efforts to reduce the fuel load and better manage things, say via several million acres of prescribed burns in between rain events during the wet season each year.

    The native tribes that inhabited CA long before it was CA were noted for doing strategic undergrowth burning, they understood how important the natural fire cycle was to a healthy forest ecosystem, they just found ways to do it that kept their villages safe – we need to take a cue from them. There’s a reason redwoods have bark multiple inches thick – they evolved in an environment where regular understory fires were normal, and catastrophic crown-destroying firestorms like we’re seeing now were rare.

    1. a different chris

      But as you pointed out, #2 falls apart immediately because it just is gonna be too close to rich people’s get-away properties. An issue the (relatively) nomadic native tribes did not have.

      So nothing has and nothing will be done. Trump can talk all he wants but his own voters will, as usual, turn out the be a big part of the problem. Just for different reasons. People in CA *do* vote for Republicans and I do not think those voters live in the barrio.

      1. jo6pac

        The state, feds, and pg&e use to do clean up every year then austerity came about. I don’t know but Ronnie ray gunn might have been the start. Ronnie was know to say trees cause pollution.

        1. Lindsay Berge

          Global warming reduces the opportunities for and increases the risks of controlled burns. A controlled burn here in Victoria, Australia by the CFA (Country Fire Authority) got out of control and caused massive damage a few years ago. The winters are warmer and drier and the possibility of unexpected wind shifts cannot be ignored. It is also a resource-intensive operation and harder to manage if there are fewer days with suitable conditions. The relevant authorities get little credit for doing this correctly, have limited resources, and will get slammed for any damage which they cause. Is it surprising that this service is under provided?

  22. ewmayer

    Re. “A Breakdown of the Biden Policy Platform: Five Key Takeaways”: Yah, well, here are my own Five Key Takeaways:

    1. This is just words;
    2. For the overwhelming majority of DC pols, “words are wind”;
    3. The policy platform is Biden’s “public position”;
    4. For Biden’s “private position”, i.e. real policy platform, just examine his long legislative and voting record in DC;
    5. An empty vessel makes the most noise.

    1. John k

      Biden’s real positions are perfectly aligned with his donors. To know Biden’s private positions you only need to know who or what is donating to him.
      But you don’t need to know much to know none of his donors favor m4a, or 15/hr. He will be successfully
      pushed right, not left.
      The two parties are cabals of prostitutes that continuously sell themselves to the highest bidder. Power gets you money, and money is god, Pelosi and Schumer the high priests.Poor Bernie never had a chance in the dem side… it was existential for them, he might pull down the temple. Imagine no revolving door! What would be the point?

  23. tegnost

    Re:I’m a lonely voice on this…
    I expect bidens “effective distribution” is going to target poor people as being the most vulnerable so they need to be forced to take the first wave of vaccine, thus testing it for the much more important work from homes. The recent stories about how we won’t be able to vaccinate everyone til 2024 only reinforce this in my tri corner tin foil opinion.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I expect bidens “effective distribution” is going to target poor people as being the most vulnerable

      If the vaccine turns out to be a typical example of American technology, it will be SUV-like in needle-size, Glyphosate-like in side effects, and F35-like in efficacy. “Access” to vaccines will be granted through a system that is ObamaCare-like in its complexity, randomness, and cost at the point of care (unless you can afford ClearVaccine™, which also gets you the pain-free version with no side effects). There will naturally be an enormous rakeoff for Big Pharma. Any simple, rugged, cheap, and effective vaccines from elsewhere in the world will be vilified in the press and banned by the FDA. Oh, and the vials in the streaming Vaccination Telethon™, attended by influencers, Hollywood celebrities, and B-list politicians alike, will later be shown to have been filled with water. Not that I’m cynical.

      1. Noone from Nowheresville

        Funny I suspect that some of the first rounds will go to a certain segment of essential workers. Can’t have them infecting others plus added bonus potentially higher viral exposure and considered by some to be disposable and interchangeable.

        I wonder if we’re headed to “jobs” will have a requirement that one MUST have proof of the annual vaccination in order to be able to work or go certain places / events like say as a fan of Big Ten football games or a music festival.

  24. ChrisAtRU

    Trump (R) (3)

    I dunno … to be blunt, that plays better if it’s a white undecided voter from Pittsburgh, but I suspect CNN can’t find any of those willing to lay clever traps for Trump to trip over.

      1. ChrisAtRU

        Biden (D) (1)

        “I don’t have time to research whether Navarro-Cárdenas named her dog after Mueller.”

        It’s ChaCha, Lambert! (via Twitter)

        So, not Mueller, and definitely not Hugo Cha-Cha-Chavez! LOL

  25. SteveD


    I’m a lonely voice on this…

    . Only in the media, Lambert. A much more nuanced view is prevalent amongst us regular folks who understand how “science” works.

  26. Greg

    I’m a lonely voice on this, but you can’t “follow the science,” “simply” or not.

    That’s not true, you can definitely follow the science! You just have to be prepared for when it takes you to a place where you’re having a fierce and uncompromising argument about a tiny technical detail that nobody involved believes matters, while the subject you originally wanted to know about is a million miles above the rabbit hole you live in now.
    I mean, I guess you could run the presidency that way? But I think it’s usually just called congress.

    (Not implying that congress deals in empirical observations, merely meaningless trivia at the expense of large issues.)

  27. DJG

    Can’t get past the ANC tweet: “My poodle and I are going to bed happy knowing that when Uncle Joe becomes President, Auntie Kamala will be there in case bad crap happens.”

    Infantilism. Also, just as we are seeing people fetishize masks, I am seeing plenty of fetishizing of neurotic little dogs. But back to the infantilism of the U.S. population: I will add that in a long essay recently published in Harper’s Magazine entitled “Nonconforming,” Laurent Dubreuil sums up the state of the the U.S. political parties as no longer being political movements and serving mainly as identities.

    So you have Poodle ChuckTaylors ByeDon as a signal of Resistance. Makes sense to me!

    This also ties into the disastrous numbers being reported in the Midwest for Covid. I note that Illinois has averaged about 2,000 new cases a day for about a week. Annualize that: 720,000 cases. Unsustainable.

    And Auntie Kamala is going to make that vewwy vewwy bad virus go away.

    It’s sure looking like I will be voting Green in the Uncle President race. As disorganized as the Greens are, they aren’t nihilists like the Republicans and they aren’t Eloi like the Democrats.

    1. Oh

      Aunty Kamala is a wolf (sorry wolves!) in sheep’s clothing. She’ll eat the poodle first and then work on you, mamma!

    2. Acacia

      Yep. Voting Green here too.

      What struck me about that ANC tweet is that it shows how much liberals literally want to go back to sleep.

      1. Late Introvert

        When my daughter was a baby I came up with the idea of Adult Swaddling. Large Russian women come and wrap you up tight. Best naps ever!

        1. jr

          My sister lived in Colorado years ago and worked at a consignment shop. One day her boss came in complaining because she had accidentally bought several pairs of triple extra large panties….like circus tents. She was furious.

          So sis told her to let her handle it. She put them up for sale on Ebay. Within a week they had sold, all to guys with panties fetishes. They must have worn them like gowns…

  28. Person

    From Tablet, America’s China Class Launches a New War Against Trump. Compare with this from Peter Zeihan, The End of the Last, Best Chance, on Terry Branstad’s attempt to fix US/China relations and his recent resignation.

    Discarding the Trump angle, the “China Class” moniker is not entirely off base. There is an element of the political and business classes, mostly associated with Big Tech and the Uniparty, who seem willing to take instructions from anyone as long as sufficient funds (or equivalents like market access) come along with it. It could be China, Ukraine, Russia, Pakistan, it doesn’t really matter as long as the paycheck comes through.

    I hate how 2016-2020 has made me sympathetic towards nationalism.

    1. pjay

      In my opinion, this is a healthy response. That’s why the “Uniparty” is trying with all their might to associate “nationalism” with “authoritarianism” or even “fascism.” But in our current political environment, it is hard to identify “good guys” and “bad guys.”

    2. fwe'zy

      Disdain for paycheck … another rugged individualist? I used to disdain paychecks too but then my grants ran out.

    3. Late Introvert

      Terry Branstad also presided over the crushing of local family farms and the businesses that supported them. My Grandpa Krusenstjerna ran a John Deere Implement in Odebolt that was killed by the Farm Crisis. Anybody remember that one? Cue John Mellencamp.

      And his 6 terms also destroyed Iowa’s waterways, and the Gulf of Mexico to boot.

      Anybody checked on the state of Iowa’s schools after his 6 terms? Not this writer.

      1. Person

        Not up on Iowa politics so it’s good to see this perspective, thanks. Zeihan has a tendency to pick and choose the facts he focuses on but this one takes the cake. No need to lionize this guy.

  29. DJG

    Blogger, software developers, the virtual world, virtual time, and the physical world and its cycles:

    “I’m writing this post in what Google is euphemistically referring to as an improvement. I don’t understand this. I managed to ignore New Blogger for a few weeks but Google’s ability to fark stuff up has the same air of inevitability as rotting corpses…. ”

    As someone who has worked as a book editor for many years, I am finding that software people live in a culture that somehow isn’t focused on results. Book editors tend to focus on books as physical objects (yes, we are all addicted to the scent of paper). The books have to be sent to warehouses (an alien concept to the virtual world). Book editors think in terms of yearly cycles–publishing conceives of progress as cyclical and nonlinear. These concepts are tied to how blue-collar workers think of their products (plumbers and pipes, lumberyards and boards, bakers and cookies, and so on, the daily and seasonal cycles of one’s work). Hot cross buns for Lent, and the spring booklist for publishers. Likewise, farming is cyclical. Pumpkins in the fall.

    Not so the world of software developers, which is run by the metaphor of the arrow of time. One goes from version 1.0 to version 2.0 and so on to the Singularity. With an ironclad EULA.

    I recall discussions with software developers making digitized products for the publishers. There was no understanding of schedule–how to complete the overall task. There was little understanding of the book as physical object. There was little sense of the publishing year–yes, software developer, your digitized book has to arrive sometime….

    So there are two cultures. The idea of improvement for those of us who work with the physical means something that we can point to and demonstrate. The idea of improvement in software seems, in my not so humble opinion, mainly to consist of assurances that the new version would “actually” work. Someday.

    1. hunkerdown

      What’s a version? We do continuous deployment and cloud distribution these days. Management wanted everything now, perfect, and free, and we gave them now as best we could.

      (Speaking of cloud distribution, those of you who use the Fusion 360 CAD suite will be ~overjoyed~ to hear they’re removing a bunch of semi-advanced features from the personal edition at the end of the month. Gotta love this brave new world where vendors can withdraw features arbitrarily without notice or recompense.)

      1. Late Introvert

        I saw that writing on the wall in the early 2000’s and exited software dev for good. That was my best paying/worst job. Both in extreme.

        But I’m poor now, so no one should follow my career path.

  30. rowlf

    In the posting on the NRA article: The army paid for NRA shooting matches, and allowed it to buy surplus military rifles at cost. I am not sure that is accurate. The US Army worked with the NRA for the National Competitions held at Camp Perry Ohio and military arms were made available to civilians through the Director of Civilian Marksmanship (Later the Civilian Marksmanship Program).

    There is a push in the precision shooting community to return the NRA to it’s promotion of marksmanship and safety training roots instead of marketing for manufacturers through electing leadership but it is a slow go. There is also a push to move the competition parts of the NRA to the Civilian Marksmanship Program and USA Shooting.

    Wayne LaPierre should be sent to Mars with that Musk goofball. It would serve him right for hiring a war criminal like Ollie North.

    DCM, CMP And NRA Explained

    1. Arizona Slim

      I remember the NRA you’re describing. It’s the NRA I read about in American Rifleman while I was growing up.

      I’ll admit that my father was much better at marksmanship than I ever was, but, oh, well. I wasn’t as passionate about it as he was. But, be that as it may, we had many discussions about Camp Perry. It was a lofty goal, even for Dad, but it was a goal just the same.

      1. rowlf

        Sweet. While I was always interested in firearms (My mom used to shoot pistols with her younger brother in the 15 yard range set up in my grandfather’s basement) I first got to shoot at the Montreal World’s Fair at I think was the USSR pavilion. They had air rifles converted to laser shooting to show their Olympic team’s training. My father did well (Duh! He was in the Curt LeMay club) but I wobbled all over the target.

        Camp Perry is a national event but I am afraid it is fading away like Olympic shooting sports.

    1. christofay

      Harris/Biden has noticed Markey. That’s why Harris is wearing the shoes shown prominently in her public appearances, the Keds, the Timberlands.

  31. allan

    Head of Federal Election Commission calls separation of church and state a ‘fallacy’ and
    2020 election a ‘spiritual war’
    {Religion News]

    Completely normal.

    One more data point: in the last few weeks I’ve seen presentations in which people from conservative
    Think Tank Land go really out of their way to say that talk of Trump ignoring the results of the election are
    unfounded, if well intended, and reflect more on those who are voicing the concerns than on reality.
    You can feel the narrative being built in real time.

      1. jr

        It’s probably the NSA but when the excrement hit the AC around here a friend got it and said it was a good way to keep up in events in the hood. There are false or mistaken reports so I don’t take it as a pure source of info but if it steers me clear of the lady waving a razor on the street yesterday…that was only blocks away.

      2. jr

        “You used to have to call a police tip line to help. Now you can use Citizen to broadcast live video, sharing relevant updates with others.”

        From the Citizen website. More public to private. And they have a point, sad as that is.

        About four years back I called the 6th precinct to report a huge street fight. I literally got a recording telling me to leave a message. No one ever responded, the cops often don’t bother to break up fights, just let em run out unless there is serious blood spilt. When you have a 110 lb. girlfriend and 10 lb. dog, the thought if them bumping into a brawl is chilling.

        And yes not a single thing on the website about who they are other than we are “independent.” Whatever that means. But I found this on a job announcement:

        “With a group of passionate builders from Facebook, Square, Uber, Google and HQ Trivia, Citizen is the company your current company doesn’t want you to know about.

        Citizen is backed by Sequoia Capital, 8VC, and Founders Fund and has raised tens of millions in VC funding.“


    1. bassmule

      I looked at the Times, the Post, and Gothamist this morning, not a peep from any of them about the taxi driver demonstration. Golly, why would that be?

  32. VietnamVet

    It is my age showing but Americans now live in a world where the only thing that matters is money. But humans evolved on earth for millions of years up to now. Money was only invented with civilization a few thousands of years ago. Human culture, facial recognition, relationships and emotions were selected if they are effective in increasing survival and reproduction within a hierarchical tribal structure. This has led to weird human discords – no more so than in the Overseer Class. By being freed from the New Deal, they now are totally on their own. They must pay through the nose for healthcare, education and shelter to cement the higher position on the totem pole and give their offspring a chance of survival. But since neoliberalism suits their innate need to seem to be the top dog, they live with the cognitive dissonance and loss; especially from being separated from community.

    Similarly, money is the reason that the coronavirus has not been controlled in the USA despite the accolades for the expensive exceptional Centers for Disease Control. As shown by China, Taiwan, South Korea, New Zealand, Thailand and Vietnam, the virus can only be controlled with a functional Public Health System. There is not one in the USA since public health costs money; it will not make more for the wealthy and could even result in higher taxes.

    The quick, cheap antigen tests and bubbles are spreading across America. They are the only way currently to assure that valuable people in real time are not infected. Testing and isolation protect the White House and the NBA. Yet, millions of antigen tests are going unreported because there is no national program to build bubbles for American workers and students with testing, notification, contact tracing, and isolation.

    The Pandemic and Climate Change are affecting all Americans. Magical thinking only fuels the unrest. Oregon is the harbinger of the future of America. Democracy must be restored for the USA to survive as a nation.

  33. Big Tap

    Voting for the Green Party and you live in Pennsylvania? Not any more because you’re plum out of luck. The Democrats have successfully removed the Green Party from the ballot in the state. The PA Supreme Court controlled by the Democrats removed the Green Party in the November election. I considered voting Green but the Democrats took my option away. I now will definitely vote for Trump for spite. The Democrats need a lesion that they can’t pull off this crap anymore without consequences.


    1. Acacia

      Indeed. I wonder how many independent voters in Pennsylvania (which the Dems need — if they care about winning, that is) will respond the same way?

    2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Agree that the Dems need a lesion as well as a lesson. This revolutionary change stuff is hard, you have to think about the maximum effect you can have towards a long term objective. Trump is a ridiculous president. And what’s required is an “Opposition”. We have one party masquerading as an opposition, and until that lie is exposed an actual opposition cannot emerge. So the chess move is to vote to defeat the fake opposition, especially given the unbelievably horrible candidates they have put up and the methods they used to install them. Anything that replaces it must be more amenable to the needs of the 99%. Which it will be. The public had four solid years of lying about why the Dems lost, I do not believe they will stand for another four year lie while their needs are absolutely ignored. Kill it with fire. And then get ready for springtime.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The Democrats have successfully removed the Green Party from the ballot in the state.

      That seems odd. It would imply that Democrats aren’t very democratic in their actual practice. Hard to believe!

      1. polecat

        You made me spray TANG all over my screen! Globules everywhere.
        Will somebody Please press the Gravity switch!

    4. jr

      The Dems are like an abusive spouse who kicks you around and then is stunned, stunned! when you say you are leaving. They really are divorced from reality. I sincerely hope Trump loses this election. I sincerely hope Biden doesn’t win.

  34. drumlin woodchuckles

    About those chips with the coolant microchannels integrated right into the chip for much faster taking away of heat with much less “yet more energy” needed to forcibly extract and move the heat . . . . if big-to-huge greenhouse complexes could be built near each data center to use the waste heat for growing greenhouse vegetables over the winter, that would turn all that waste heat into an economically valuable input to the greenhouse complex right next to each data center.

    Since the digital data-center companies can’t be bothered to operate greenhouses, these could be separate businesses getting their heat from the data center delivered into their greenhouses. At least in winter.

  35. Basil Pesto

    avid golfer here: that’s good news for the courses. Less so is the news also mentioned in the article that the equipment manufacturers are also enjoying a boom – the negative effects of the golf-equipment arms race on the sport at pro-level and golf course architecture (American fetishisation of distance, which is satisfying to achieve, athletically/technically impressive, but undoubtedly the least interesting thing about the actual game of golf. Nevertheless, said fetishisation has taken a lot of design sophistication out of courses. Another issue, exacerbated by the PGA Tour and the laserlike accuracy of their players, is lack of fondness of the ground game, which is undoubtedly one of the most fun things about the actual game of golf) are well documented, and without intervention from golf’s administrators, the manufacturers will possibly treat this fillip as a vindication of said arms race.

    Still, a surge of people taking up this healthful and fun activity might help offset some of the negative consequences that the pandemic is having re: mental health, physical fitness etc. It would be good as well if Americans used this opportunity to wean themselves off of golf carts, which seem to be almost a sine qua non of playing golf over there for some reason – the photo accompanying the WaPo piece was upsetting.

    Because of the strict second lockdown in Melbourne, where golf is very popular, courses have been closed for five weeks now, and will be for at least another week. I expect there’ll be a surge of players when they re-open as there was after the first lockdown, which’ll make it hard to get a round by myself (which is how I prefer to play), although the lengthening days here should help. I was writing back in April here about how I thought it was a safe activity, and my conviction as far as that goes has only increased since then with the increased understanding of aerosol spread, and particularly spread of the disease in outdoor environments – as well as the understanding that the risk of fomite transmission, which courses already went to some length to reduce, is smaller than we thought earlier in the year. What wouldn’t be safe is the milling about and socialising indoors in clubhouses, bars, locker rooms etc before and after a round – that suits me as I tend to avoid all the extraneous bullshit (although a cold drink after a round is always nice), but it’s a big part of the appeal for a lot of people, I gather.
    I miss it a lot, but the closure of the courses is understandable. Australia seems to be a bit behind in terms of understanding of the disease (masks are only mandatory, or even recommended, in Victoria, the state which Melbourne is the capital of – and they were very late to the mask party) – all outdoor sports are banned in the second lockdown and I’m not sure that’s necessary, but as long as it’s enacted, you can’t start making exceptions for some sports and not others, which of course breeds resentment (and is a bad look for a sport already stereotyped for aloofness). Resentment in general is already building after five weeks of the harsh lockdown here – I’m coping fine with it but I can understand how others are struggling.

    The biggest hit, I suspect, will be resort courses in remote locations away from urban centres, as leisure and business travel diminishes. My annual trip to one such resort in Tasmania in June fell by the wayside for this reason. I had plans to go to the UK in August for a wedding which also fell by the wayside, and was going to play quite a bit there, but I think in the UK courses are quite closely tied to their nearby communities so they’ll probably be okay as far as the tourist business goes, but I can’t be sure.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > American fetishisation of distance

      I have been watching random cricket videos, and after seeing the way cricket bowlers fling the ball at the batsman, and fielders don’t wear gloves, I’m thinking that American baseball is to cricket as American golf is to golf (thinking of “links” in Scotland, with acres of gorse for rough, and rain, and nasty wind off the ocean).

      1. Basil Pesto

        links golf is kind of the ideal of what golf courses should be, for a number of reasons, not least of which is the wind you mention which lends variety to the challenge, and the fact that they’re just a lot of fun in a beguiling landscape. They tend to be my preferred style (though hard to find true links in Australia). More broadly, sandy soil is preferred in general, and there are lots of great inland courses with just that profile.

        That said, while there are a loooot of mediocre courses in America, it probably has more sensational, spellbinding ones than anywhere else in the word, too. The best, of course, either precede the technologies that have led to the increases in driving distance, or pay it no heed (these are often the resort courses that have no aspirations to host a professional tournament).

    2. YetAnotherChris

      Professional golf has moved into NASCAR territory, not just in its appetite for endorsements but in the freakish level of performance. Weekend duffers simply cannot relate to what they see on TV. Even the broadcast crew, many of them former champions, are agog at what they’re describing. Seven irons to a 220-yard target. Long par-5s reached with a drive and a nine iron. It’s impressive, true, but many classic tournament venues have been rendered obsolete in the process.

      The game was and should remain a fun and healthful pastime. [Walking!] It does attract its share of odious people, but the municipal golf course is a public treasure and its demographics might surprise a lot of people and explode a few stereotypes.

      1. Basil Pesto

        I enjoy watching women’s golf for this reason. Although they are amazingly skilled, huge distance is taken from the equation and so you see a lot more than driver + wedge.

        The game was and should remain a fun and healthful pastime. [Walking!] It does attract its share of odious people, but the municipal golf course is a public treasure and its demographics might surprise a lot of people and explode a few stereotypes.

        100%. I often see millennial-liberal types regurgitate such stereotypes, and you can just tell they’ve never been anywhere near a municipal
        golf course before.

    3. PlutoniumKun

      Ireland is packed with courses, partially due to its popularity, and partially due to a boom in the 1990’s which led to lots of expensive courses being built without a real business plan. The result was good news for casual golfers – plenty of cheap clubs to join.

      The economics of courses can be curious. The links courses of course are beautiful but often an environmental nightmare as they are destructive of very sensitive coastal habitats. The most expensive ones (such as Trumps course in Dunbeg, Ireland) now have to be protected from rising seas, a near impossible task for active dune systems. Virtually all suitable coastal sites have now been developed, the remaining ones are generally protected by law (although post Brexit of course EU habitat designations no longer apply…..)

      In the 1990’s I was peripherally involved in golf course development in the UK. The trick was to find some low grade agricultural land that needed improving. You got permission for a course with lots of mounds and hills, and you then imported a million cubic metres of surplus construction waste to build it (at a gate cost at the time of about £10-20 per cm). As it was for an approved construction purpose, it was no longer legally ‘waste’. So smart developers actually made a profit from building courses before they sold a single round or membership. Hiring a ‘name’ like Ballesteros to put the final touches on the design was generally worth every penny when it came to attracting customers.

      1. Basil Pesto

        That’s interesting, the courses by big firms with names like ‘European Golf Associates’ or whatever that then hire names of former tour pros like Ballasteros to be ‘architects’ but are really just branding exercises are generally held in low regard by golf course architecture nerds, and the courses tend to be artificial, with contrived mounding and/or water features. I never realised that all that naff mounding might have been a developer hustle for relocating waste! ‘Minimalism’ is the style that’s very much in favour among nerds like me, and ideally a course should require very little earth moving. That resort in Tasmania I mentioned is on land owned by a potato farmer that was otherwise going unused, iirc. He didn’t know golf but the unused land was perfect for it, and little was moved from tee to green. There are a couple of brilliant courses there now.

        As far as UK/EU goes, I know of this course in Scotland, a modern one, that was built with a light touch because of the sensitive coastal habitats, as it was also built on a Site of Specific Scientific Interest – https://machrihanishdunes.com/golf/the-course/

        Another links course by minimalist architects was planned for some links land in Scotland recently and there was a conflict between the designers and locals due to, I think, an endangered butterfly that lived in that habitat. Not sure what the outcome was.

        I’ve spent a lot of time reading about the environmental impact to try and figure out whether it’s a net positive or negative and the answer seems to be: it very much depends (keeping in mind that golf precedes the combustion engine, pesticides etc by about 500 years). There’s a risk of tendentiousness/confirmation bias on the subject, for example this document is interesting, but consider the source: https://tinyurl.com/y4ht96zl ), though I’ve seen positive studies on, for example, carbon sequestration in conservation journals than have no apparent golf connection. There are of course many negative studies, too.

        But anecdotally I’ve seen positive environmental developments on courses: return of wildlife to former mining sites, bird and plant conservation, interesting water management (the case of Glenelg mentioned in the above document, more detail here: https://www.glenelggolf.com/cms/golf-course/asr-wetland-project/ , provision of habitat (again, from Glenelg, the course is in the middle of the inner suburbs and right next to an international airport, they have a quarterly ornithology report: https://www.glenelggolf.com/cms/2020/04/09/birds-of-glenelg-golf-course/ https://www.glenelggolf.com/cms/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Course%20update_biodiversity_Feb2020.pdf ). I’m not really equipped to tell what’s ‘greenwashing’ and what isn’t though. But certainly I know that not all golf courses are created equal.

  36. YuShan

    “Powell said the decade-long U.S. economic expansion, which ran prior to the pandemic hitting growth, had included both quantitative easing and low interest rates but was ‘notable for the lack of the emergence of some sort of a financial bubble.’ ‘I don’t know that the connection between asset purchases and financial stability is a particular tight one,’ Powell said in a press conference after the Fed concluded a two-day meeting. ”

    This is truly scary

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