2:00PM Water Cooler 9/3/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

#COVID19

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 again is the Midwest: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin:

And at reader request, Midwest positivity:

ME: “How an intimate wedding in rural Maine led to the state’s largest COVID-19 outbreak” [Boston Globe]. “As of Friday, Maine authorities had linked 123 positive cases to the August 7 wedding, with a quarter labeled as tertiary cases, meaning they were infected by someone who was infected by someone who attended the wedding. On Saturday, the Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced it was also investigating an outbreak at the Calvary Baptist Church 225 miles away in Sanford, where the officiant who presided over the wedding, Todd Bell, is pastor. There are at least five confirmed cases of the coronavirus among those affiliated with the church, the CDC said. ‘What we are dealing with is a giant tube of glitter. You open a tube of glitter in your basement, then two weeks later you are in the attic and all you find is glitter and have no idea how it got there,’ Dr. Nirav Shah, the Maine CDC director, said in a Tuesday briefing…. The seclusion and self-dependence of Millinocket seemed to insulate it from the pandemic’s perils. But after the wedding, it became clear that in small towns built on close personal connections, those virtues could be hazards, too.”

LA: “Sent Home to Die” [Pro Publica]. “[Ochsner West Bank] made a decision in stark contrast to those made by other hospitals in COVID-19 hot spots across the country: At a time when relatives were being kept away from their sick loved ones to prevent the spread of a contagious and deadly virus, Ochsner sent infected patients back into communities to die at home, and be cared for by untrained family members without the proper protective equipment. Under normal conditions, hospice workers make frequent face-to-face visits, especially in a patient’s final days. But during the pandemic, when hospice companies were limiting in-person visits, Johnson’s family was left to spend her last days alone with her, watching her moan, convinced she was in pain. The city’s death statistics reveal an aberration, ProPublica found. Nationally, coronavirus patients aged 85 and older died at home only 4% of the time, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; local coroner records show that in New Orleans, it was 17%.”

Midwest: “Weeks after Sturgis motorcycle rally, first COVID-19 death reported as cases accelerate in Midwest” [NBC (Furzy Mouse)]. “Some 260 cases across 11 states had already been recorded before the first death linked to the Sturgis bash, a sometimes raucous event that ran from Aug. 7 through 16 during which the bars were packed and where there was barely any attempt made at social distancing, let alone wearing masks. Since then, the number of coronavirus cases have doubled in South Dakota and there has been an uptick in new cases being reported in neighboring North Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska as well, the latest NBC News Digital figures show.”

Politics

“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. 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

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

Time to restore the election countdown:

A long time in politics!

2020

Biden (D)(1): “Biden’s lead in Pennsylvania shrinks to 4 points in new poll” [Politico]. “A Monmouth University poll conducted in the days after the Republican National Convention and released Tuesday reports that 49 percent of registered voters in Pennsylvania prefer Biden, while 45 percent favor Trump. The previous version of the same Pennsylvania survey, published in July, showed Biden with majority support among registered voters polled and a double-digit advantage over Trump, 53-40 percent.”

Biden (D)(2): “A Sister Souljah Moment to Rule Them All” [The New Republic]. “Biden’s standing in the polls just hasn’t been affected in any obvious way yet by a backlash to protests. Instead, the polling averages suggest that Biden’s lead against Trump widened once the demonstrations against the killing of George Floyd took off. Even in Wisconsin, where widely circulated polling from Civiqs taken before the shooting of Jacob Blake showed support for Black Lives Matter had declined from its June peak, Biden’s lead has held steady. Still, the basic idea pundits have been thinking through is a valid one. Like Bill Clinton in 1992, Biden really should consider showily denouncing divisive figures within Democratic politics to shore up his remaining vulnerabilities as a candidate. In fact, Biden should denounce Bill Clinton.” • GENIUS!

Biden (D)(3): “I need money” [London Review of Books]. “The​ state of Delaware has given the world three gifts: chemicals, debt and Joe Biden. Each promises great things but may deliver undesirable side effects….. Scenes of the young Biden ingratiating himself to Republicans recur during a youth spent winging it, hustling, and depending on the kindness of a series of characters who, in the words of his letters of recommendation, took ‘a chance’ on him despite his ‘lousy marks’, because he was ‘a natural’. For spring break in his junior year he flew to the Bahamas, despite having only a fraction of an $89 tax refund left to spend. On the beach he met a blonde, Neilia Hunter, who picked up the tab for hamburgers for two and got him into a club for free because a friend of hers was dating the owner. (‘I fell ass over tin cup in love – at first sight. And she was so easy to talk to.’) By the end of the weekend they had decided to get married. Biden, a mediocre undergraduate at the University of Delaware with a spotty disciplinary record (he once sprayed a dorm adviser with a fire extinguisher), quit the football team and mustered the grades and testimonials for law school at Syracuse. There he managed to scrape through despite a charge of plagiarism – a matter of poor citation, he explains – and won the reluctant approval of Neilia’s father, who didn’t want to see his daughter marry a Catholic or a Democrat. His father-in-law’s generosity set the pattern for Biden’s career in politics: he scrambled along on a shoestring budget, showing gratitude and deference to the holder of the purse; he set expectations low and either by a stroke of luck exceeded them or came home empty-handed because he never really had a chance.” • 

Biden (D)(4): “Former Michigan governor Rick Snyder: I am a Republican vote for Biden” [Rich Snyder, Detroit Free Press]. • Oddly, or not, Snyder doesn’t mention Flint, which happened on his watch.

Trump (R)(1): “Trump’s Kenosha visit exposes U.S. divisions over race and policing ahead of November vote” [Los Angeles Times]. “In Blake’s neighborhood, stereos blasted the “Cupid Shuffle” as groups danced in the street, some wearing shirts that said “BLAK: Black Lives Activists of Kenosha” and others calling for justice for Blake’s nephew, Jacob, who was left paralyzed. Volunteers lined up to register voters and offered free COVID-19 testing. A few blocks northwest, dozens in red Make America Great Again hats cheered for the president’s motorcade before he spoke with local officials at Mary D. Bradford High School. Trump did not mention the Blake name, and when a reporter asked about protesters’ concerns about racism, the president said that was ‘the opposite subject’ of what he wanted to discuss. He wanted to talk about the violence that has struck cities and left buildings torched. ‘I keep hearing about peaceful protests. I hear it about everything, and then I come into an area like this, and I see the town is burned down,’ Trump said. He said protests were really ‘acts of domestic terror’ and ‘anti-American riots.’ While much of Kenosha is on alert with boarded-up stores visible well into the suburbs, actual damage is limited to a small stretch of its urban core.”

Trump (R)(2): “The Payroll Tax Delay Is Here, But So Is Confusion About It” [NPR]. “With the start of a new month, some workers may get a boost in their take-home pay. The Trump administration has given employers the option to stop collecting payroll taxes for most workers through the end of this year. President Trump announced the move three weeks ago, after failing to reach a deal with Congress on a more comprehensive pandemic relief package. ‘This will mean bigger paychecks for working families as we race to produce a vaccine,’ Trump said. But as new guidance from the IRS makes clear, the windfall is merely a temporary loan. Unless Congress decides to forgive the taxes, employees will have to repay the money early next year.” • Which Congress will do, right?

UPDATE Trump (R)(3): “Trump Call for Voting Twice Sparks Warning From State Official” [Bloomberg]. “Trump, during a Wednesday visit to Wilmington, North Carolina, told supporters, ‘If you get the unsolicited ballots, send it in and then go make sure it counted and if it doesn’t tabulate, you vote. You just vote, and then if they tabulate it very late, they’ll see you voted and it won’t count.’… North Carolina’s top elections official warned voters against trying to vote twice after President Donald Trump encouraged people who mail in their ballots for November’s election to also go to the polls on Election Day.”

UPDATE Trump (R)(4): “Trump eviction ban tests limits of CDC authority” [The Hill]. “While the ban could be a crucial lifeline for struggling renters, experts say its legal basis rests on a broad interpretation of a 1944 law. The regulation cited by the CDC gives it power to take whatever action it deems necessary to stop the interstate transmission of an infectious disease. The logic behind the order is that if a renter is evicted and forced to move in with someone beyond state lines, it could further spread COVID-19. ‘This does not appear to have been hastily put together,’ Wiley said. ‘It’s clearly written by someone who knows the ins and outs of CDC authority and is interested in pushing the boundaries of it, but in a way that is as defensible as possible in court.’ But Wiley said the regulation in question focused mainly on efforts such as fumigation and sanitation practices, making the ban vulnerable to a legal challenge over whether the CDC exercised its power beyond the intent of Congress. ‘I absolutely do expect to see legal challenges,’ Wiley said.”

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UPDATE MA: “Markey’s win shows young voters will rally behind incumbents who embrace their causes” [Boston Globe]. “But, for the rising generation of progressive activists who helped return him to the Senate, Markey’s win sent a message: The restive left-wing is looking for champions, not just blood — and its passionate army of engaged young voters will rally to the defense of incumbents who partner with them and who embrace their causes.” • What’s wrong with looking for blood?

UPDATE MA: “Why Joe Kennedy’s Senate campaign flopped” [Politico]. “What Kennedy didn’t envision was the way Markey would reinvent himself as a darling of the progressive left over the course of the year, harnessing the energy of young voters and climate activists. Sitting on a sizable lead in the polls for much of the race, Kennedy’s campaign was reluctant to go negative on Markey. That gave the low-key incumbent, who lived in the shadow of more prominent Bay State Democrats like Elizabeth Warren and John Kerry, the chance to define himself on his own terms…. More important, Markey stepped into the political vacuum created by the departures of Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders from the presidential primary. Progressives were devastated by the collapse of the two campaigns, which came just before the coronavirus pandemic hit Massachusetts, leaving a cohort of newly unemployed presidential campaign staffers and volunteers — and young high school and college activists — stuck at home with time on their hands. They turned their attention to Markey.”

MA: “Pro-Israel Groups Celebrate Victory in Crucial Massachusetts Primary” [Haaretz]. “Neal was endorsed by Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI), an organization that’s trying to strengthen support for Israel within the party, that placed a six-figure ad buy in the district to support the incumbent…. Pro-Israel America, another political action committee supporting Neal, also congratulated the congressman: ‘We look forward to continuing our work with congressman Neal to help further strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship towards a safer and more secure future for both of our great nations.'”

“There’s A Big Focus On Suburbs, But Democrats See Potential Gains Farther Out” [NPR]. “The Smiths are part of a worrisome national trend for the GOP: party members who don’t think Trump is what Republicanism is supposed to be. And in battleground states, voters like the Smiths could tip the scales, with both of them planning to vote for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. ‘I know I would walk over broken glass, through fire, on my hands and knees, to put my finger on that coronavirus ballot if I have to and try to vote this guy out,’ [Steve Smith, who works as a landscaper] said. ‘And luckily, I live in North Carolina, where I may actually have some impact.'” •

RussiaGate

“The Russian Election Hack That Wasn’t (This Time)” [Foreign Policy]. “Areport published Tuesday in a Russian newspaper claiming Russian hackers had seized personal details of millions of U.S. voters sparked panic about a repeat of Russian efforts to sway the U.S. presidential election. The story was shared online by a number of high-profile journalists, political commentators, and national security experts, playing on widespread concerns about Moscow’s plans to repeat its successful cyber-meddling in the 2016 election. The only problem: The story was almost entirely false.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Why Centrists No Longer Understand the World” [Tribune]. “For Anne Applebaum, whose work on Soviet-era history is so respected it landed her the Pulitzer Prize in 2004, it is not the past which is a foreign country, but the present. Her latest book, Twilight of Democracy: The Failure of Politics and the Parting of Friends, offers a snapshot of a political centre in disintegration…. One explanation for the book’s tepid diagnosis is that the scale of neoliberalism’s breakdown is lost on an esteemed historian and journalist insulated from its worst impacts. This would certainly explain why Applebaum can only comprehend the present conjuncture as the result of mass irrationality and moral failure…. Despite being both retrospectively naïve, and possessed of few insights regarding the future, as a pièce d’occasion for the 2020s Twilight of Democracy is instructive. When historians come to reflect on a centrist intelligentsia in befuddled disarray it will be an excellent resource.” • Ouch!

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“Opinion: Oregon’s key lessons on voting by mail — after 2 decades of only voting that way” [MarketWatch]. • This is a good description of the Oregon system, and it does seem that there are lot of checks. I would like to know if a Karl Rove-level ratfucking attack has ever been made on it, and, if so, what happened.

“One Reason Voting by Mail Worries Me” [Mike the Mad Biologist]. “If you’ve taught – from preschool to grad school – you know that no matter how many times or how clearly you give instructions, some students won’t follow them…. One of the issues – not problems, but an issue to be aware of – with mail-in ballots is that the instructions create opportunities to reject ballots. To use the example of the recent Kentucky primary, ballots were rejected for failure to sign, failure to sign in the correct place, failure to enclose the ballot in an inner envelope before putting it in the outer envelope…on and on. Petty stuff, but stuff that is going to get your ballot tossed if you don’t read and follow directions correctly…. In an election in which a lot of ballots are going to be cast by mail and it is patently obvious that Trump will use every possible mechanism to try to question the legitimacy of the ballots cast, I worry about the potential for these minor, insignificant instructions will toss otherwise valid votes.”

UPDATE “Democrats Should Curb Their Enthusiasm for Mail-in Voting” [Rich Lowry, Politico]. “Absentee voting isn’t as secure as in-person voting, but there’s no evidence of widespread fraud, as Trump repeatedly alleges, sometimes in ALL CAPS. Nor is there any evidence that, at least prior to this campaign, mail-in voting has favored Democrats, as the president also believes. Trump shouldn’t be trying to delegitimize the process, a point that journalists have often made, rightly. Yet there hasn’t been enough focus on the other side of equation: Does it make sense for Democrats to be such fervent boosters of a process that may lead to a historic number of votes cast in a presidential election not counting? … Only about one-hundredth of 1 percent of in-person votes are rejected, whereas rejection rates of 1 percent are common with mail-in votes, and many states exceeded that during their primaries this year. This should be a five-alarm worry for Democrats. According to polling, almost twice as many Biden supporters as Trump supporters say they’ll vote by mail this year. According to NPR, studies show ‘that voters of color and young voters are more likely than others to have their ballots not count.’ In another universe, if Trump were urging Democrats to stay away from the polls and instead use the method much more likely to get their votes discarded, it’d be attacked as a dastardly voter-suppression scheme.”

UPDATE PA “House OKs Changes To Mail-In Voting In Near-Party Line vote” [WESA]. “One key aspect of the [Republican-drafted] bill will allow counties to start processing mail-in ballots three days before Election Day to speed up vote-counting. Democrats, however, want to give counties more time, as many as 21 days before the election. It also prescribes specific locations where voters can deliver mail-in ballots by hand: to a county courthouse, permanent election office and polling places on Election Day. Democrats oppose that provision, too, saying that it effectively bans the drop boxes that Philadelphia and some southeastern Pennsylvania counties plan to use to help handle the avalanche of mail-in ballots in November.”

“Mark Zuckerberg’s $300 million donation to protect elections must overcome Facebook’s past” [Recode]. “The majority of the gift, $250 million, will go to the Center for Tech and Civic Life, a nonprofit popular with many tech philanthropists, which will then regrant the money to local election officials so they can recruit poll workers, supply them with personal protective equipment, and set up drive-through voting. Another $50 million heads to the Center for Election Innovation & Research to be distributed to Secretaries of State across the country.” • With only 60 days to collect the money, figure out how to spend it, and spend it? Really?

Stats Watch

At reader request, I added some business stats back in. Please give Econintersect click-throughs; they’re a good, old-school blog that covers more than stats. If anybody knows of other aggregators, please contact me at the email address below.

Employment Situation: “29 August 2020 Initial Unemployment Claims Rolling Average Now Under One Million” [Econintersect]. “Market expectations for weekly initial unemployment claims (from Econoday) were 910 K to 1,175 K (consensus 958 K), and the Department of Labor reported 881,000 new claims. 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 1,069,250 (reported last week as 1,068,000) to 991,750… Econintersect watches the year-over-year change in the 4-week moving average. There is always some seasonality that migrates into the seasonally adjusted data, and year-over-year comparisons help remove some seasonality. The four-week rolling average of initial claims is 358 % higher than one year ago (versus the 395 % higher last week).”

Employment Situation: “August 2020 Job Cuts: Highest Ever Jobs Lost-To-Date In A Single Year” [Econintersect]. “Job cuts announced by U.S.-based employers in August totaled 115,762, 116% higher than the August 2019 total of 53,480. August’s total is 56% lower than the 262,649 job cuts announced in July…. ‘[T]he leading sector for job cuts last month was Transportation, as airlines begin to make staffing decisions in the wake of decreased travel and uncertain federal intervention. An increasing number of companies that initially had temporary job cuts or furloughs are now making them permanent,’ said Andrew Challenger, Senior Vice President of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.” Hysteresis, here we come–

Employment Situation: “Analysis: More People Got Back to Work in August, but Outlook Dims for Those Still Looking for Jobs” [Morning Consult]. “Recent improvements in the demand for labor are creating two distinct employment paths as the economy recovers. On the one hand, a growing share of workers who are now back to work feels secure in their jobs and does not expect to suffer a loss of employment income over the next four weeks. On the other hand, unemployed workers are losing hope of returning to their prior jobs, and 50% of unemployment insurance recipients are unable to cover their basic expenses with the money they receive from UI benefits. Barring dramatic developments in the spread of the virus, all indicators suggest that U.S. workers are likely to continue experiencing modest employment improvements on average, with unemployed workers likely to experience prolonged unemployment and suffer financial hardship.” • Everything’s going according to plan!

Productivity: “2Q2020 Final Headline Productivity Improved” [Econintersect]. “A simple summary of the headlines for this release is that labor costs are growing slower than productivity on a quarter-over-quarter basis. On a year-over-year basis – the opposite is true… Please note my productivity analysis at the end of this post which is at odds with the headline view. Doing a productivity analysis during a major recession is a waste of time as productivity should crater especially since the government has paid business not to layoff staff.”

Trade: “July 2020 Trade Again Improved But Remains Deep In Contraction” [Econintersect]. “Trade data headlines show the trade balance grew with both imports and exports increasing…. The data in this series wobbles and the 3-month rolling averages are the best way to look at this series. The 3-month average rate of growth improved for imports and exports – but remains in contraction.”

* * *

Tech: “Google Wants to Remix News Radio Just for You” [Wired (Re Silc)]. “. Each personalized playlist is structured to mimic a news program typical of what you’d hear on public radio: short clips about the big headlines up front that gradually shift into longer, more detailed stories. The goal is to create a seamless 90-minute broadcast—a mix of radio, podcast snippets, and text-to-speech article translations—tailored to an audience of one.” • No.

Tech: “Japan’s ‘flying car’ gets off ground, with a person aboard” (Video) [Tech Xplore]. • I think people are gonna hate those things as much as they hate scooters.

Tech: “Bitcoin Miner Is Scoring 700% Profits Selling Energy to Grid” [Yahooo Finance]. “On a sweltering summer afternoon in West Texas, a cryptocurrency miner backed by billionaire Peter Thiel powered down its data-processing centers for about 30 minutes. During that short window, the company made money not from Bitcoin, but from selling electricity. On hot days without wind, the company, Layer1, can sell its contracted power supplies back into the grid for a profit. Recently, when power prices in Texas topped $200 a megawatt-hour, Layer1 reaped returns of more than 700%, according to its founder and chief executive officer, Alexander Liegl. At night, as power prices drop to zero or lower due to the oversupply of wind energy, it can throttle up operations as much as the circuit boards can handle. When that happens, ‘we’re getting paid to produce Bitcoins,’ Liegl said.” • Seems very on-brand.

Mr. Market: “Dow down nearly 600 points as tech shares slump” [MarketWatch]. “After a day of records for the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite on Wednesday, investor optimism waned as large-capitalization technology-related stocks led losses on Thursday. Doubts about traction for further fiscal stimulus from Washington lawmakers may be one factor discouraging investors who have been betting on Republicans and Democrats striking a deal later this month to offer additional relief to American consumers and businesses. On Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democrats and Republicans still have “serious differences,” following a brief phone call.”

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 63 Greed (previous close: 77, Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 76 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 3 at 12:05pm. Quite the downdraft!

The Biosphere

“Conscientious SUV Shopper Just Wants Something That Will Kill Family In Other Car In Case Of Accident” [The Onion]. • Continuing our conversation on this topic…..

“City of Hoboken Files Climate Suit Against Exxon—’The Most Ruthless, Deceitful, and Unapologetic Climate Polluters on the Planet'” [Common Dreams]. “The city of Hoboken on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against multiple Big Oil players—including ExxonMobil, incorporated in New Jersey—joining an increasing number of state and local governments using litigation in efforts to hold the fossil fuel industry accountable for defrauding the public about foreseen climate crisis damages and to make companies “pay their fair share” of the costs of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to a warming planet. The lawsuit (summary pdf) argues that the defendants—ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, BP, ConocoPhillips, and the American Petroleum Institute—knew that ‘their production, marketing, and sale of fossil fuels would cause global climate change,’ but they engaged in a massive ‘disinformation campaign’ to protect their profits, which would diminish in conjunction with decreased fossil fuel use. ”

Health Care

“Trust pharma for coronavirus news? Most people say yes, but more Democrats than Republicans: poll” [Fierce Pharma]. “A new Harris Poll found that while both Democrats and Republicans consider doctors and nurses as well as nationally recognized hospitals like the Mayo Clinic+ the most trustworthy sources, the two groups diverge when it comes to others. Seventy-one percent of Republicans trust the White House and President Donald Trump, but only 28% of Democrats do. On the other hand, 61% of Democrats trust the national news media, while only 36% of Republicans do. When it comes to pharma companies, trust is high among members of both political parties. Overall, 71% of people polled said they trust drugmakers actively working on coronavirus vaccines. Breaking that down by party lines, however, shows more Democrats (76%) than Republicans (68%) believe pharma news.” • Maybe this trust will, er, pay off when vaccine time comes.

“Gerald Ford Rushed Out a Vaccine. It Was a Fiasco.” [New York Times]. “History offers Mr. Trump a cautionary tale. In February 1976, hundreds of soldiers at Fort Dix, N.J., contracted a new strain of the H1N1 virus that seemed to be a descendant of the one responsible for the 1918 flu pandemic, which killed at least 50 million people worldwide and possibly as many as 100 million. Back in those days, the World Health Organization twice a year convened a panel of experts to determine which strains of influenza should be included in that year’s flu shots, then provided the necessary ‘seed virus’ to manufacturers. President Gerald Ford, however, decided to leapfrog the protocol in the face of the news out of Fort Dix.” • I’m really of two minds on this. On the one hand, don’t we want a vaccine to be developed as rapidly as possible? And wasn’t the parallel vaccine development under Project Warp Speed a really good idea? On the other, will profit-driven vaccine companies cut corners, especially under pressure from the administration? On the third hand, don’t we, in a democracy, want a President to fight and win an election based on the successful delivery of a vaccine? Next, it’s quite clear from the tone of the article that the Times would prefer that the effort fail (“reckless obsession,” “desperate words”). So while my understanding is that the data for the effort will be transparent, the coverage of it will be another matter. Finally, I return to my idea that the ideal initial test population would be every single member of Congress, plus every political appointee in the Executive Branch, plus the President. You first!

“Pandemic’s Emotional Hammer Hits Hard” [National Public Radio]. “Nearly a quarter of people in the United States are experiencing symptoms of depression, according to a study published Wednesday. That’s nearly three times the number before the COVID-19 pandemic began. And those with a lower income, smaller savings and people severely affected by the pandemic — either through a job loss, for example, or by the death of a loved one — are more likely to be bearing the burden of these symptoms. When a population experiences something traumatic, such as a pandemic or a natural disaster, researchers usually expect a rise in mental illnesses in the weeks and months following the event. But the mental health toll of the coronavirus pandemic seems to be far greater than previous mass traumas, says Catherine Ettman, a doctoral student in public health at Brown University and an author of the study, which was published in the current issue of the American Medical Association journal JAMA Network Open.” • Again, everything’s going according to plan!

“Wear a mask while having sex, Canada’s top doctor suggests” [Reuters]. • What a great way to alleviate depression! (Though I grant masks may have a festive aspect.)

Gunz

“Active shooter drills are meant to prepare students. But research finds ‘severe’ side effects.” [NBC]. “A report being released Thursday, obtained in advance by NBC News, found active shooter drills in schools correlated with a 42 percent increase in anxiety and stress and a 39 percent increase in depression among those in the school community, including students, teachers and parents, based on their social media posts… The report, released by the advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety, relied on research from Georgia Tech’s Social Dynamics and Wellbeing Lab, which analyzed 27.9 million tweets and 1,454 Reddit posts that came from accounts with connections to 114 schools in 33 states that held active shooter drills in the 2018-19 academic year. The researchers examined changes in social media posts in the 90 days before and after a drill. The higher rates of anxiety and depression were evidenced by an increase in words such as ‘afraid,’ ‘struggling,’ ‘nervous,’ ‘therapy’ and ‘suicidal.'” • These aren’t bugs; they’re features. School as preparation for life, eh?

Police State Watch

“Blue Bloods: America’s Brotherhood of Police Officers” [Vanity Fair]. “Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police [FOP] is a local chapter of the larger national organization of the same name. The national FOP boasts more than 2,100 such lodges, representing more than 330,000 members, which makes it, according to its website, ‘the world’s largest organization of sworn law enforcement officers.’…. When Jason Van Dyke was convicted of second-degree murder for the death of Laquan McDonald, the FOP defended him. When four of the officers accused of aiding in the cover-up were fired, a different FOP vice president used the decision as an occasion to impress upon police board members that they should not ‘fall to the pressure of the media or the radical police haters.’ These men were sworn officers of the law. But they did not look at Van Dyke as a convicted murderer who had broken that law. They did not look at him and see police—a social category, a profession, a uniform one puts on and can take off. They looked at him and saw their brother. They saw a different type of being, bound by an oath that transcends civilian understanding. And by virtue of Van Dyke’s being, in their eyes, he could do no wrong.”

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Led by a 105-year-old survivor, lawsuit seeks reparations in 1921 Tulsa race massacre” [CNN]. “Lessie Benningfield “Mother” Randle, was a little girl when an angry white mob rampaged through the city’s Greenwood District, known as “Black Wall Street” because it was home to more than 300 black-owned businesses. By the end of the night on June 1, 1921, the 35-city block district was burned to the ground. Contemporary reports of deaths began at 36, but historians now believe as many as 300 people died, according to the Tulsa Historical Society and Museum. The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Tulsa County District Court by Justice for Greenwood Advocates, a team of civil and human rights lawyers. The plaintiffs include Vernon A.M.E Church — the only black-owned building to survive the massacre — descendants of other victims and the Tulsa African Ancestral Society.The lawsuit claims that the racial and economic disparities caused by the massacre created a public nuisance and an economic blight that remains. It says local government and agencies failed to help the neighborhood rebuild.”

Sports Desk

“Study: College Football Is Feudalism” [David Sirota, Too Much Information]. “it is not the unpaid players who most “need” a season. Instead, those with the real financial stake in reopening are the coaches and university officials who are together making huge money off players who are barred from being paid and joining a union to collectively bargain for compensation. Those prohibitions continue thanks to the same lawmakers now demanding the unpaid players risk their lives returning to the football field to generate the revenues that finance coaches’ multimillion-dollar pay packages. A new study from researchers at Northwestern University, University of Chicago and University of Michigan found that if Congress permitted Division I college football and basketball players to form a union and collectively bargain for the same revenue share as professional athletes, on average each college ‘football player would receive $360,000 per year and each basketball player would earn nearly $500,000 per year.'” • A nice shout-out to Michael Hudson and Naked Capitalism in the comments.

Class Warfare

“As Amazon pulls union-buster job ads, workers describe a ‘Mad Max’ atmosphere – unsafe, bullying, abusive” [The Register]. “Pallets stacked 10 high when the old rules said a maximum of five; policies to thwart the spread of the COVID-19 virus not followed and co-workers only informed about positive tests a month later; punishing work rates that are constantly changed and used as a weapon; write-ups as retaliation for complaining about racist behavior; and serious injuries dismissed with a Tylenol and an ice-pack. This is the reality of life inside an Amazon warehouse, according to workers The Register spoke to this week…. Away from the number-crunching at corporate headquarters, the work rate has become a weapon that stressed-out managers use to bully and intimidate those on the shop floor, it’s claimed. Not only are warehouse workers frequently not told what the required work rate is, the rate changes constantly – sometimes hour by hour depending on the whims of the local operational manager…. Amazon implies it has a single work rate across all its operations, though long-term workers who have spoken to colleagues across America say it varies all the time, and appears to be developed by averaging out the work rate of the top 10 per cent of workers on any given week, which would explain the sometimes daily variances. While expecting everyone to work as hard as the hardest working at all times, those who don’t are written up and are fired if they don’t improve. Amazon has apparently hard-coded a five per cent failure rate into its system as a way to constantly drive performance improvements.” • Yikes. Didn’t Microsoft once have a similar system?

“Disdain for the Less Educated Is the Last Acceptable Prejudice” [New York Times]. “Being untainted by the Ivy League credentials of his predecessors may enable Mr. Biden to connect more readily with the blue-collar workers the Democratic Party has struggled to attract in recent years. More important, this aspect of his candidacy should prompt us to reconsider the meritocratic political project that has come to define contemporary liberalism…. It is important to remember that most Americans — nearly two-thirds — do not have a four-year college degree. By telling workers that their inadequate education is the reason for their troubles, meritocrats moralize success and failure and unwittingly promote credentialism — an insidious prejudice against those who do not have college degrees. The credentialist prejudice is a symptom of meritocratic hubris. By 2016, many working people chafed at the sense that well-schooled elites looked down on them with condescension. This complaint was not without warrant. Survey research bears out what many working-class voters intuit: At a time when racism and sexism are out of favor (discredited though not eliminated), credentialism is the last acceptable prejudice.” • The Obama Alumni Association will be more than able to compensate for Biden’s inferior degree.

News of the Wired

“How to Fail at Writing a Novel” [Connor Wroe Southard]. “You spend three years writing a novel that doesn’t work. It makes it through various stages of the process by which novels are sold, and doesn’t sell. You decide to stop trying to sell it—not because it hasn’t sold, but because you’ve outgrown it. You’ve rewritten it in its entirety roughly six times. You’ve lost count.” •

R.I.P. David Graeber:

(Cause not known.) Graeber’s last tweet:

Flashback: “Debt: it’s back to the future” [Gillian Tett, Financial Times]. “[In Debt, Graeber’s] sweeping narrative history essentially argues that many of our existing ideas about money and credit are limited, if not wrong. Take how we think that money evolved. In modern society, Graeber argues, economists often assume that money emerged as a medium of exchange to replace barter, while virtual credit developed after that. After all, gold is easier to carry around than sacks of potatoes or cows – and credit cards are a very recent invention. However, Graeber asserts this sequencing is wrong: his reading of history suggests that complex debt relations, in the widest sense, emerged before coins circulated (and before complex systems of barter, too). … [T]oday, numerous non-western societies operate with fiendishly complex debt systems, which blur social and economic obligations, even if they barely use ‘currency’. Indeed, anthropologists spend a considerable amount of time looking at how these ‘debts’ bind groups together. ‘There is nothing new about virtual money. Actually this was the original form of money,’ Graeber argues. ‘Credit systems were interspersed with a period of bullion, but credit came first.'”

* * *

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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.

176 comments

  1. Joanna Bujes

    David Graeber was a wonderful teacher, writer, and human being. And a writing machine. He had just finished what looks like to be a very interesting book on political play in early societies, and was about to start another on pirates.

    For those of you who don’t know his work, I recommend

    — Debt, the First Five Thousand Years
    — Possibilities
    — The Utopia of Rules
    — Bullshit Jobs

    I would also like to impart three pieces of wisdom he communicated over the last decade:

    –On social possibilities: “there are two kinds of societies: those who animate objects, and those who turn people into objects.”
    –On dealing with writer’s block: “write the second book on your list”
    –On dealing with cops: “agree with anything they say, and then do what you’re going to do anyway.”

    He came up with new, fresh ideas the way Mozart came up with melodies. He wrote beautifully and was on the side of human flourishing.

    I shall miss him greatly.

    Reply
    1. Pelham

      Same here. Thanks for the wonderful remembrance. I rate David Graeber among just a tiny cohort of people (Steve Keen would be another) meaningfully trying to wrench the world free from some of the most awful and onerous practices and ideas. In the meantime, he made our chains seem appreciably lighter.

      Reply
    2. skippy

      Had the pleasure of introducing him to NC long ago and engage in topics posted there with him and some others. He always sought the approximation of fact/truth without being encumbered by too much environmental baggage, even though he was not shy of making his ideological preferences known.

      His thoughts moving foreword will be missed.

      Reply
      1. Conrad

        I was all set to rave about how amazing the Tribune book review was and then I scrolled down and read about Graeber’s death. A big loss. This year just keeps on crushing.

        Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > it is almost as if Democrats do not have any problems that could not be solved with hand marked, hand counted ballots

      This has been true for years. One can only wonder why this solution is “off the table.”

      Reply
      1. John

        >This has been true for years. One can only wonder why this solution is “off the table.”

        Do you suppose they don’t really want any pesky voting? Given all the stumbling blocks in the way of universal suffrage, it sure seems so.

        Reply
        1. sierra7

          Ahem….
          Who was it that said, “If elections made a difference they would be outlawed”?
          The American “system” of elections is a total disgrace.

          Reply
              1. skippy

                As in the days when bars and saloons were the voting booth or gathering place before voting, candidates buying last round thingy. On the other hand I hear Bars were the original stock exchanges and back alleys once the financial district.

                Reply
                1. ambrit

                  Ah! People seem to want to forget just how much of a social ‘lubricant’ spirituous liquors are.
                  And, open but channeled, the flow metered and guided to accomplish “useful” tasks. When the dam breaks though…..
                  Be safe!

                  Reply
      2. Phil in KC

        The pencil maker lobbyists don’t have enough clout compared to Diebold. Seriously. Its the same reason why more Twix are eaten than apples.

        Reply
  2. John Beech

    Why shouldn’t I like Google’s remix of news radio? Whomever owns the ink is going to control the message, but so what? What’s wrong with Google having a news director and 10 people churning our articles expressing Google’s point of view? How is it different from Hearst, or any of the long string of publishers throughout the world?

    Note; I have zero financial interest in Google, but I’m also not prejudiced just because they’re large. Why not? Could it be because I have gray matter between my ears and use it to apply a grain of salt to everything inbound through said ears? I’m thinking Google-class money should result in a quality program I’d enjoy. And if I don’t I can tune out. Simple, so I’m willing to give the idea a chance. Bring it on . . . I can’t wait.

    Reply
    1. zagonostra

      I’m not sure about the color of the substance between your ears, but if they continue on degrading the quality of their searches in both Ytube and in general, I’ll switch to some other search engine or platform. I’ve already ditched Chrome and use Vivaldi and couldn’t be happier with its performance.

      And I’m not sure news is about the “quality of program I’d enjoy” but truth, truth in what those in position of power are doing. So I’m not sure their service, being that they are in bed and embedded with those in power would provide what I want or need to hear.

      Reply
    2. The Rev Kev

      Put it this way John. Can you imagine if Google had control of NC? They would only let you see stories that “they” think that you want to see and read comments that they would think that you would want to read. You know yourself the wide variety of commenters here from so many fields in business, education, science and the extraordinary lives that others have led. And look at link recommendations, book suggestions, advice from everything from coffee to cars. If Google had control, how much of that would you be permitted to read or even see? On my tablet when I look at YouTube videos, I find myself clicking randomized clips or else Google just feeds me the same old-same old. never let a corporation replace your own judgement and thinking.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        On a related note, a Corporation, despite the legal fiction of it’s “personhood,” does not possess “agency.” So, eschew the “Mr or Mz Corporation” argument and look beneath the covers to see just who is cohabiting with whom under the guise of that Corporate identity.

        Reply
          1. ambrit

            Good work if you can get it.
            I generally laugh at the phenomenon of “Hasbara.” To get “true believers” to go online and promote the “Party Line” for free is a stroke of neo-liberal genius.
            I would be tempted to say that Sr. Haya has “sold his soul” for the traditional thirty pieces of silver, but I suspect that, he maybe being a ‘non-person,’ he would also theoretically possess a ‘non-soul.’
            Modern technology has surely vastly complicated the Infernal One’s vocation.

            Reply
    3. ChrisPacific

      Because Google, like Facebook, is not a news service.

      Have a look at the mission statements for a few news organisations and see if you notice a pattern. Almost all of them will mention words like truthful, accurate, or impartial. Granted they don’t always live up to that standard in practice, but it’s still their stated purpose.

      Now look at the mission statement for Google or Facebook. Do you see anything about truth, accuracy or impartiality? Facebook’s is all about connecting people and bringing them together. If lies and conspiracy theories turn out to be more effective at connecting people than the truth, why then, lies and conspiracy theories are what Facebook will deliver. Whether a story is true or not has no relevance to Facebook beyond its ability to engage users. As far as Facebook is concerned, there would be no difference between, say, Seymour Hersh’s expose of the My Lai massacre and the fake story about Hillary Clinton running a human trafficking operation out of a pizza parlour. Both would be assessed in terms of their ability to generate clicks and comments, and nothing more.

      Google and Facebook are both trying to have their cake and eat it – they want the traffic that comes with being a trusted news source so that they can monetize it, but don’t want to assume the obligations and responsibilities that come with the role. Google has, so far, been a bit better behaved than Facebook on this front and is making more of an effort to present credibly as a news source, but they play in the same space and are subject to the same market forces.

      Reply
    1. Amfortas the hippie

      It’s DLC 2.0.
      Dude on the right there was triangulating his butt off once he realised where the conversation was heading.
      Because it’s too soon to reveal the real plan, or they’ll loose the real left and sandernistas and the youth for the current election.
      the real plan, of course, is the Big Center Party of Practical Adulting….that they’ve been trying to gin into existence since 2015…the Great Assimilation Lambert’s always mentioning, as well as the incredible rehabilitation of max boot and even Lil George the war criminal.
      and you can see the other side of the operation in the repeated…if still rather subtle…equating of the Real Left with Trumpism. all that is not the Big Center is “populist” and evil.
      Bernie=Trump.

      and here’s a republican pol indicating that “of course we’re gonna have universal health care”,lol.
      as if it’s perfectly obvious that that’s where the Adults have been trying so hard to get to.
      people like my mom and stepmom….and almost all of the democrats i know…lap this stuff up…nod their heads knowingly…whisper “of course” to the tv.(and i must note the similarity of that tv watching behaviour to old folks i have known watching Benny Hinn.)
      The only question to me is how this endeavor fits into the Davos Set’s “Great Reset”…still not enough information from that quarter to determine what the real game plan is.(although i’ve been too busy to dig around of late)

      Reply
  3. John Beech

    YES to . . . “the ideal initial test population would be every single member of Congress, plus every political appointee in the Executive Branch, plus the President. You first!”

    Reply
    1. Tom Doak

      Unfortunately it would probably just be a stunt, like Obama not drinking the water in Flint, or Bill Clinton not inhaling.

      OTOH, if it actually worked, of course they would be lined up to get it ahead of everyone else.

      Reply
    2. John Anthony La Pietra

      Why not throw in the corporate officers and board members? And major stockholders (with a threshold value or percentage)? And family members and heirs?

      Reply
  4. Wukchumni

    Not like Sturgis so much, but this Labor Day Weekend is going to be a doozie with perhaps a 4 to 5 mile backup to get to the entrance of Sequoia NP, and there’s only a few places to eat, and the most pleasant setting has patio seating on the outside deck by the river and it’s shaded by tarps, lessening the heat, oh, and 1 other thing, it has a ‘I do what I want!’ mask policy, as in none.

    It’s the perfect vector…

    Reply
    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      The Maine COVID wedding link had me thinking about the coming 3-day weekend and how that’s going to spread this further. Guess we’ll know in a few weeks!

      Reply
        1. Dr. John Carpenter

          I saw a meme someone made a few weeks ago with a similar idea and thought it was really clever. Having lived with someone who did a lot of crafts, it’s also very accurate.

          Reply
  5. John Beech

    Unpaid players in reference to college sport ignore a fundamental element of the equation, and make no mistakes there’s an equation involved. It’s one which exchanges an education resulting in a college degree for playing. And it’s offered in good faith because players injured playing continue that free education if knocked out of the sport due to injury. Value for value.

    Reply
    1. JTMcPhee

      Kind of silly. College players bring in hundreds of millions to the schools and a variety of attendant bloodsuckers. They are a very tiny percent of the overall student body (also being fleeced by the university system, with outrageous tuitions and fees and the corrupt student loan racket.) At this point, a college degree, if the players make it through to graduation, which is not a given, is generally “worth” piffle. There’s an old principle in contract law that disparity in bargaining power requires favoring the weaker party. The players are clearly the weaker parties in this racket, and your notion that the “degree” they might eventually get equates to “fair consideration” for the costs they bear, under your “contract” analysis, is kind of smoke and mirrors. https://www.sbnation.com/college-football/2014/7/9/5885433/ncaa-trial-student-athletes-education

      Reply
    2. periol

      University of Georgia is #1 with official annual football revenues of $123 million.

      https://www.saturdaydownsouth.com/sec-football/revenue-figures-sec-football-2018-2019-fiscal-year/

      Each school offer 85 football scholarships, which are worth approximately $30,000 per year.

      https://www.saturdaydownsouth.com/sec-football/full-cost-of-attendance-explained/

      Each scholarship the University of Georgia gives out results in approximately $1,447,058.

      The “keep your scholarship if you get injured” clause is like the absolute tiniest bone they could throw. Players also get spending money now, which is included in those scholarship costs.

      In the professional sports leagues the revenues are split somewhere around the 50/50 point between players and owners. If that happened at the University of Georgia, each football player would be making north of $700,000 per year if it was divided evenly. Even if it’s not divided evenly, the players would still bring home significantly more than just the “scholarship value plus spending money”.

      Reply
      1. Laputan

        The “keep your scholarship if you get injured” clause is like the absolute tiniest bone they could throw.

        It’s also not entirely true. In fact, I’m not sure it’s true at all because scholarships are awarded on a year-by-year basis and, unless something has recently changed, not renewing scholarships happens all the time for injuries, lack of performance, or whatever.

        My take is if Dabo Swinney, Nick Saban, Coach K, et. al want to be compensated for coaching college sports, that’s fine. They and even their family members should be able to take as many courses as their hearts’ desire.

        Reply
    3. Tom Doak

      If we pay each football player their $360,000*, they can then easily pay for their education, and have something left over for their troubles.

      * Hard to believe that with rosters of 100, they could pay each player that much and still make $$$, but that’s what the article said!

      Reply
      1. periol

        Don’t forget the numbers we are throwing around for this are official revenue numbers, and do not include the much larger “hidden” graft economy that goes along with big-time college football and basketball. Using just the official numbers players would be paid six-figures a year to play. Getting rid of the ‘funny money’ would just end up adding more $$$s to the official revenue numbers and the salary packages for the athletes. There are so many sleazy people making bank off the back of these unpaid college students it’s ridiculous.

        Reply
    4. Pelham

      Haven’t I read for many years now that colleges generally make no money on their major sports programs? Maybe I’m delusional and prone to confirmation bias, as I really and truly hate college and pro sports.

      Reply
      1. Laputan

        The overwhelming majority don’t but those that do have their own mints. It’s basically Tulip-mania but the music never stops since colleges can keep bilking kids for the tab.

        Reply
      2. periol

        Football and basketball are the money sports. In the past they helped keep the non-money sports programs funded to levels beyond their means.

        Reply
        1. TMoney

          So predominately black kids from poor(er) situations subsidising white snowflakes and getting bugger all in return. How very American.

          Reply
      3. Lil’D

        Minor sports don’t make money.
        Football and basketball usually do. At least, they generate revenue.
        Stanford just trimmed a dozen. This is notable because Stanford always wins the Directors Cup and produces more Olympians than any other source. US Olympic performance in 2024 are at risk. In case you care.

        Reply
        1. periol

          “US Olympic performance in 2024 are at risk.”

          Olympic-quality athletes will just go somewhere else. Right now Stanford gets those athletes because it arguably provides the highest value for an athletic scholarship – a degree from a top pedigree-school from one of the Power Five conferences. This will probably end up a boon for UC Berkeley unless college sports goes down the tubes in general, which is fine. With the exception of curling I pay the Olympics no mind. No, I’m not Canadian.

          Reply
    5. drumlin woodchuckles

      How much education are the players permitted to attain what with all the practicing and training they are commanded to do?

      Reply
  6. Howard Beale IV

    Amazon’s 5% culling of the herd is nothing new – it goes all the way back to Neutron Jack Welch at GE, and them spread far and wide by ex-GE managers into other companies (Citi did a weekly Top-10/Bottom 10 meeting with managers)

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      It is hard to buy from NOmazon when little NOmazon businesses are going extinct from Covid on every side. Still, every transaction made with or through Amazon is a vote of support for what Amazon does to people and businesses.

      Reply
      1. tegnost

        +1, all of it is available somewhere else, and you might even get the real thing you ordered, not a broken repackaged fake that got returned and resold…

        Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          If Amazon does enough of that, even pro-Amazon shoppers might get worn out and go through other channels.

          Unless Amazon makes that such normal and expected practice that every would-be Amazon-shopper knows they run a high risk of that happening, it will be up to the NOmazon shopper-of-conviction to keep the NOmazon retail sector just barely alive enough that the amazombies will return to it if Amazon cheats and tortures them all badly enough.

          Reply
  7. johnherbiehancock

    I *just* finished reading Bullshit Jobs a week or two ago.

    I am distraught to read about Graeber’s passing. And the more I learn about him & his work, the sadder it makes me. He was one of those people humanity was better off with. Too many of the ones we’re better off without are still here…

    Going to order Debt today (from a local bookseller, NOT Amazon).

    Reply
  8. Another Scott

    In reading the poor analyses of the Massachusetts senate primary, I came across a tweet has more insight than any article that I’ve read.

    “In the 25 municipalities with the highest college attainment, Markey won 68.8% of the vote. In the 25 municipalities with the lowest college attainment (minus Winchendon, which hasn’t reported), Kennedy won 61.9%.”
    https://twitter.com/alexanderao/status/1301007200815546370?

    Note: his analysis only includes the 20 highest and that Winchendon went for Kennedy (60.5%) after the tweet.

    Alexander’s posts have a better analysis of Massachusetts results than the local and especially national media, and there are a large number of similar insights about how the state’s Gateway Cities and the white working-class communities voted.

    Reply
  9. Carolinian

    active shooter drills in schools correlated with a 42 percent increase in anxiety and stress and a 39 percent increase in depression among those in the school community

    Hey what about the generation that had to hide under their desks in case of an atomic attack? Actually I never had to do that but we did have a bomb shelter in the basement of the school.

    And I assume everybody here does know that Blake had a warrant out for sexually assaulting an ex girlfriend and theft of her car. This doesn’t excuse what the police did, but it does mean, if guilty, he shouldn’t be fitted for a halo. The zeal for narrative has overwhelmed the news, at least when it comes to certain areas.

    Reply
    1. petal

      When I was in HS in the early 90s, we had annual nuclear accident drills due to the aging nuke plant in town, just a few miles from the school. All of us had to evacuate the school, get on buses and go for a drive. If I remember correctly, I think we were taken all the way to the southern part of the county, about 20-30 minutes. Wasn’t fun to think about. We’d have been toast. It is now the 2nd oldest operating nuke plant in the country as of 2018.

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        I think my generation was profoundly affected by The Bomb and it had a lot to do with the antiwar movement. Then, in the 80,s antinuclear had a revival after Three Mile Island and on the theory that Reagan was just crazy enough to push the button.

        Cut to now and do we even still have an antiwar movement? Pat Lang says he’s not sure someone with possible dementia should be trusted with the nuclear codes. But then he is a Republican. Still, the “Washington Consensus” seems quite cavalier these days about nuclear danger and messing with a country that could destroy us utterly. For those who lived through the Strangelove era this seems madness.

        Reply
    2. Kurt Sperry

      It doesn’t make any difference whether the victim of a murder is a saint or a sinner. It is, in fact, entirely irrelevant. The crime is the same either way.

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        Well he’s still alive and allegedly admitted he had a knife in the car although in the world of rumor why should that matter? The warrant would explain why he resisted arrest including two attempts to taze him.It’s not like he didn’t know why he was stopped. So it’s entirely relevant. This wasn’t a broken tail light.

        Reply
      1. JTMcPhee

        Not to worry, the Fed has the “investor class” fully covered. And remember, there are people getting rich on shorts while this “correction” or whatever it is progresses whichever direction it will go in…

        “The Market,” as often observed, is a bubble (or more likely a dirigible) that stays aloft via the buoyant and volatile and flammable dollargas piped into it via the narrow aorta of MMT wealth plumbed to it via Treasury and Fed. Even the “full faith and credit’ of the Real Economy has its limits, as people are slowly learning to their sorrow.

        Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Why? Why get in at all?

        Why not use the money to stockpile several months to several years of storable food depending on its healthy storage life? Why not stockpile toilet paper? Why not do other survival-enhancement things?

        ( Unless you have money to burn, including by burning it in the stock market?)

        Reply
  10. kareninca

    I recently ordered a TV from Amazon. Yes, I know. I waited a few days, then I checked our account, since I was wondering when it would show up. It is for my 95 year old father in law; his old one broke and he is reduced to using a tiny TV which he can’t see well. So it is really wanted. My account told me that it had been delivered on Aug. 30th! Not only that, but that it had been delivered by USPS and placed in my mailbox! That is a real feat, to place a 32 inch TV in a mailbox.

    So I did a chat with Amazon, and without any description of the situation – simply by telling them it hadn’t arrived – they immediately told me that they would send me a replacement at no charge. And that if the original showed up, I could do with it what I wanted.

    This is all so strange. This is not a neighborhood where Amazon packages are stolen. Who wrote that it had been delivered? And into a mailbox? And Amazon didn’t care or hesitate about replacing it. Admittedly it is a cheap TV – $148 – but that is not a totally trivial amount of money. But Amazon doesn’t seem to care.

    Reply
    1. periol

      It was most likely stolen by someone at the post office, who had access to adjust the delivery notice. Hate to say it, but it could very well have been the person delivering it. There has been a noticeable increase in USPS delivery notices that are just wrong. I reported two of the more personally important ones over the past year, and both times spoke to a manager after an internal investigation turned the item up as “lost”.

      My personal opinion is this “casual theft” that is not really investigated or punished is all part of the plan to destroy privatize the USPS. Which could help explain that response from Amazon – hurts their bottom-line in the short-run, but I bet they’re planning on buying the privatized leftovers of the USPS.

      Reply
      1. kareninca

        Oh thank you, that all makes sense. It did occur to me that maybe the mailman tossed it due to frustration with Amazon packages. Theft by the postman did not occur to me, and it really didn’t cross my mind that it could be someone at the post office. But a small TV, even a cheap one, could be fungible. Well, that is like something out of a non-functioning country.

        Reply
        1. periol

          Just one note: sometimes (often?) I have found that the delivery person for packages, especially larger ones, is not the regular postman.

          Reply
          1. kareninca

            Oh, that is interesting. Even though it is the USPS, it is not the regular postman? I could picture that being the case.

            Reply
    2. ambrit

      To really find out, contact the Postal Inspectors office. When I worked at the USPS, lo these many years ago, the Inspectors were a force to be reckoned with. Don’t call the local Post Office, try to find a number for the state level office.

      Reply
      1. kareninca

        I wouldn’t dream of calling the local post office; they are huge and an understaffed mess. On the assumption that the PI’s office is overworked, I think I’ll leave them alone here. Right now there are probably more important things missing than a cheap TV.

        Reply
  11. DJG

    The Sister Souljah Moment article in TNR (even the liberal TNR) is too clever by half, which is a characteristic of much of the population these days.

    First, the original Sister Souljah moment was in 1992, and it being Bill Clinton, there was a racial aspect (as in telling a black woman to shut up), an enforced civility aspect (which reinforces hierarchy), and a disproportionate attack, given that he wielded much more power than someone working as an activist and rapper.

    And if WIkipedia is correct, I suspect that Sister Souljah wasn’t the target of the attack:
    –Souljah became infamous for her statements about the 1992 Los Angeles riots. In an interview conducted May 13, 1992, she was quoted in The Washington Post as saying, “If black people kill black people every day, why not have a week and kill white people?”[9]
    –The quotation was later reproduced in the media, and she was widely criticized. Presidential candidate Bill Clinton publicly criticized that statement and Jesse Jackson for allowing her to be on his Rainbow Coalition.

    And then she gave this formidable statement:
    https://www.c-span.org/video/?26613-1/rap-artists-response-clinton-remarks

    Which sounds awfully familiar 28 years later.

    I’m not sure that George Will would survive another Sister Souljah moment. Although he is trying to be helpful in his obsolete way:
    –Over at The Washington Post, George Will dedicated a whole column to the idea. “Candidate Bill Clinton’s criticism, not of extremism in general, but of her explicitly, reassured temperate voters that he was not intimidated by inhabitants of the wilder shores of American politics,” he argued. “Today, even more than 28 years ago, the Democratic nominee needs to display similar independence.”–

    So it is ancient history. What person under the age of 60 knows what a “Sister Souljah Moment” is?

    But then the current election seems to be about the obsolete contending with the obsolete.

    Reply
    1. Amfortas the hippie

      Damn!
      I didn’t have cable back then, and have never seen her response before today….i was living in a van, hiding from the cops, and rambling all over the south at the time. The newspapers apparently didn’t cover her response.
      that was masterful!
      thanks for that link.

      Reply
      1. a different chris

        Ditto ditto and ditto…uh no, guess I never lived in a van. Ok two dittos.

        But wow. No wonder we didn’t get to hear it.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          I’ve lived in a van on out of town job sites when I worked Commercial Plumbing jobs. Even back then, per diem wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.
          One needs must be a bit, adventurous, from time to time.

          Reply
    2. Oh

      DLG,
      Thanks for your well articulated comment and the C-SPAN link. It’s horrifying to note that a dirtball like Clinton won that Presidential election. That tells me once again how people don’t do their homework before they vote.
      “Obselete contending with the obselete” is a good way to put it regarding this year “election”. At least one obselete demented candidate was put in there by an ageing dreadful leader of the house.

      Reply
      1. a different chris

        Well it was him or Bush.

        The more things change, the more they stay the same only at a lower quality level. We’d be happy with that choice today, unbelievably enough.

        Reply
        1. Eureka Springs

          And Sister was right, along with the super plurality of eligible electorate, in refusing to endorse or vote for any of it.

          Reply
    3. Dr. John Carpenter

      Well, I’m under 60 and I do, but I was a big hip hop fan, so I knew who she was already. The politics I followed at the time definitely felt that was one of many examples of Clinton dissing Jessie Jackson in a very passive aggressive, cowardly way with an added dollop of dog whistle racism on top. It wasn’t just “liberating himself from the extremes of his party”. As you are saying, it was primarily about power dynamic and racial and gender dynamics.

      I’m still trying to understand how Biden distancing himself from Clinton is anything like that, but I think the author understands the Sister Soulja Moment differently than I do.

      Reply
    4. pjay

      Damn is right!

      I was closely following the political campaign back then, and I was disgusted at Clinton’s obvious BS. But I never saw this. They called Reagan the “teflon” President. But could anyone top Clinton on this score — our “first black president”? Thanks for posting this.

      Reply
  12. furies

    I’d wager that anyone here could make an appointment with a psychiatrist and come away with a “mental illness” diagnosis.

    It’s an insult and the direct source of any ‘stigma’. Health outcomes for those diagnosed with ‘brain diseases’ is worse than the general population; health care providers see a ‘m.h.’ diagnosis on a chart then proceed to not believe anyfu*king thing you say.

    I have learned a lot from my run-in with psychiatry–the ‘medicine’ doesn’t cure anything…but does ‘change’ your brain chemistry. And not in a good way.

    See the Mad in America site–Robert Whitaker wrote “Anatomy of an Epidemic” in 2010. I read the review of his and Irving Kirsch’s work about SSRIs/SSNIs, and began my years long journey to get off the drugs and heal my damaged nervous system.

    ymmv

    https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2011/06/23/epidemic-mental-illness-why/

    I think labeling someone as ‘mentally ill’ is a metaphor at best. There’s still no lab test for bipolar, is there? (In nursing school “Manic Depression” was extremely rare–now everybody is bipolar “2” (see SSRIs))

    Reply
    1. Arizona Slim

      Seconded. I owe much of my current quality of life to a friend-of-a-friend who was a psychiatrist.

      Summary of our conversation: I didn’t need to be going anywhere near the “brain disease” drug that another doctor was insisting on. So, I avoided it.

      Thank you, Dr. Ed!

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        Dr. Ed did you a great service.
        I was put on Prozac for six months back in the 1980s. The experience almost destroyed my life. Luckily, Phyllis saw through the MD bull—- and finally agreed with my decision to go off the substance.
        She once mentioned that time to one of her sisters (within my hearing) as “the time [ambrit] was a zombie.”
        Stay safe and have pity for the University students in your town. What a hard lesson to have to learn at the very beginning of one’s “journey into adulthood.”

        Reply
    2. clarky90

      “….black businesses. By the end of the night on June 1, 1921, the 35-city block district was burned to the ground……..”

      Juxtaposed with…

      “While much of Kenosha is on alert with boarded-up stores visible well into the suburbs, actual damage is limited to a small stretch of its urban core.”

      Bad mayhem here, but good mayhem there?

      Our ethical internal world MUST be coherent. Or we inevitably become depressed or crazy. “Darkness Itself” can always be identified, because it can only/always/ever be, “A Boldfaced Liar”. That is why we react to betrayers with repugnance and anger. (Barry O’Bomber…..The Nobel Neo-Peace Maker)

      The question is only, “when” does the penny drop? When to we grok, that the cherished life partner, laying beside us, is in truth, a liar and sociopath!!!??

      This is the wake-up call that everyone one of us will hear, over and over, during our lives.

      What is true? What is false?

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        I’d say the lesson from your example is that the cracker racist mobs from the past are the last thing any black rights movement would want to be associated with. After all, historically they have mostly been the victims of crowd psychology and in my region quite horrifically. Even the rumor that a white woman had been “insulted” could lead to a lynching.

        Surely this the reason MLK insisted on a peaceful Civil Rights movement. You win by being better than they are, not by imitating them.

        Reply
    3. jr

      The meds worked for me as a bipolar 2, along with therapy. The truth is, for actual bipolars and not the mental health groupies who call themselves that, it’s a spectrum between 1 and 2. I’m no fan of pharma and I have no doubt about over diagnosing and over medicating, or even the problems with just medicating. But without the pretty small dosage of meds I take my personality, behavior, speech go off the charts.

      This is a problem of course but I see it as a temporal one primarily. If I had been born 6000 years ago, I would be the painted one who lives on the edge of society, dancing and whooping at the lightning, eating psychoactive plants, taking animal form, advising warlords. Now I just talk to much and dress outrageously…

      Reply
      1. furies

        See “Medication Spellbinding”

        It might feel good to finally ‘know’ what’s ‘wrong’ by getting a diagnosis; but I contend (and others who have been harmed by psychiatry) that the current ‘bipolar’ avalanche of diagnosis is due to the unacknowledged actions of SSRIs/antidepressants.

        Check out Mad in America. Very science oriented and plenty of research with documentation.

        Psychiatry has been doing evil shit for years and years (still is)…and it is mos def NOT based on any valid science (see pharma ‘ghost writing’ articles/research and follow the money)

        Reply
        1. jr

          No, my friend, it’s not that straightforward. I totally believe that there is an over diagnosis of mental issues and the over prescribing of dubious meds. I have no beef with that. And I have no problem believing psychiatry does more harm than good.

          My behavior predates any of that, long before the candy store of meds available today. Long before I took any meds of any kind. Bipolar is a real thing and I fit the bill to the “T” for most of my life. But let’s drop the label: my behavior was a problem; meds and therapy gave me the wherewithal to collect myself, breathe, and start to build a life.

          They just did. It’s a fact. I’m infinitely more stable than I was: started a career, long term relationship, wrote a book, stopped wearing eyeliner and gold jeans on first dates…

          With all that, I would never want to stop being bipolar. I wasn’t kidding about the 6000 years thing. I’m not the problem, society is. I love being who I am. I’m just way too much of it for this milieu. I have a feeling that may be changing though.

          I would like to get off the meds at some point for that matter, but it would take a lot of physical exercise (which I hate) and some really intense meditation. Not the Eastern kind.

          Reply
        2. rl

          Anecdotally: I was cycled through just about every SSRI, SNRI, and second-generation antipsychotic/”mood stabilizer” on the books between the ages of 11 (that is not a typo!) and 19.

          How did a licensed psychiatrist with (at that time) some 30 years of clinical experience explain the decision to prescribe a cocktail of sertraline, ziprasidone, and lamotrigine (am not epileptic, have never even had a seizure) to a gay 12 year old in an abusive home and school environment … ?

          Good question. In all those monthly 15-minute “visits,” I don’t remember getting much in the way of an answer. Though I don’t remember much anyway. That’s part of the problem.

          I can’t help it, and I know it’s not “scientific,” but honestly — today nothing makes me fear for a friend like hearing that they’re going on one (or several) of these “medications.”

          Reply
          1. jr

            That’s horrific and I’m sorry you went through that. I get my meds through the VA where the Drs. dont make any money or get free laptops for pushing drugs, although one nit tried to put me on lithium

            Reply
  13. marku52

    On firing the bottom X%. Very common in the tech world. Probably every tech Co in the SillyCon valley does it.

    Stupidest layoff I ever watched, was at HP under the Reign of the Wicked Witch of the West. Ms Fiorina was peeved that some layed off HPers had a successful age discrimination lawsuit against her last one, so she came up with a plan, so clever, that you could pin a tail on it and call it a weasel.

    She’d let a computer pick out the names of the poor unlucky ones. At Random. No discrimination there, Oh No! (PS I am not making this up)

    So it didn’t matter whether you were working 80hrs/week, or 3. Top performer, or mostly useless. Your odds were identical. It also snagged a new college hire who we had aggressively pursued for months, after about 2 weeks on her new job. (Fortunately, she was a genius and was unharmed, got a better job right away.–“Welcome to the World of Tech!”)

    What a motivator. Not.

    When Fiorina got axed, the sound of “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” echoed all over the plant.

    Reply
    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Lambert asked about Microsoft policy so I’ll describe an aspect here.

      As a manager I was required to put my employees equally into 3 categories: Outperform, Perform, and Underperform. I had 6 people reporting to me so 2 slots to allocate in each category.

      The result for the Outperforms was they got a nice bonus check. The Performs got a moderate check and the right to keep their jobs. Underperforms were on notice for firing, and no check. If they were into negative territory a prior period’s bonus check could be clawed back.

      Being humans, my employees figured out how to game this. They realized that in order to excel they did not need to do their jobs well, they simply needed to do better than the other five people. So they spent as much time trying to sabotage the work of others as they did trying to do good work themselves.

      This from a company that spent tens of millions of dollars on HR experts. Once CEO Steve Ballmer (who should occupy a hallowed place in a Harvard Business School case study on the Worst CEO In History) went, the whole scheme was scrapped.

      Reply
      1. caucus99percenter

        That is so totally the Alec Baldwin “coffee is for closers only” speech from the film version of Glengarry Glen Ross. “First prize is a Cadillac El Dorado. Second prize? A set of steak knives. Third prize is you’re fired.”

        The idealistic Peter Drucker conception of top management may live on in Japan (judging from the popularity of the book and anime Moshidora), but it certainly seems nearly extinct in America.

        Reply
      2. lambert strether

        I knew there was a problem with the M$ approach…

        Was it Bezos’s genius to design a workplace that could not be gamed?

        Reply
      3. paintedjaguar

        This is exactly the kind of sociopathic management that finally destroyed Sears Roebuck, which unlike most large businesses was widely regarded as a beneficial American institution, despite being the Walmart/Amazon of its day.

        Reply
    2. RMO

      An engineer friend of mine was at HP during her reign. Fortunately he was able to get a much better job at SGI. Unfortunately his whole division was axed in a downsizing binge about ten years ago and being middle aged he has found the job market difficult ever since. He did get another really good job that looked like it would be steady but after a few years that firm was bought out and, you guessed it, almost everyone was laid off and they strip mined the company assets.

      Reply
  14. fwe'zy

    Hey, please check out for an example of idpol in service of other agendas:
    A&E City Confidential Greensboro “Operation Greenkill” re KKK armed ambush of Communists in broad daylight. Lots of great details about textile worker conditions as well as local tolerant/ diverse way of life being sabotaged by textile barons!
    https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1214219/

    Just found out the lady reporter passed away last month:
    https://greensboro.com/obituaries/wheaton-liz/article_5ddfaf23-e56d-5a22-bb81-0d0f9b1f5e43.html

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      I remember reading about this some decades ago. Without reading the link to refresh my memory, here is what I remember. The police carefully “re-scheduled” and “re-located” marching times and routes to walk the Communists and the “Klansmen” into eachother.

      The really good shooters were not the known local Klansmen. The shooters were unknown (probapossibly government) sharpshooters freshly brought in for the purpose.

      Reply
      1. fwe'zy

        Terrifying. On the other hand, the imperial wizard of some sort made a statement in 2000 that made me think, where’s the lie?

        He said he didn’t know what the difference was between the Communists he’d been made to kill (remember compulsory military service/ draft) in Vietnam and the ones right in his town; why he was sent to help the Vietnamese against the Commies but couldn’t help his own hometown against Commies right there in their streets, etc.

        Good questions!

        Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Yes, the local klansmen could be forgiven for wondering about such things. Also, some of the language the splinter-Communist labor organizers was straight-up challenging the klansmen to a literal duel. Perhaps the splinter-Communists were too dumm stupid ignorant about the Southern Culture in which they had immersed themselves to realize they were using straight-up challenge-to-a-duel language.

          Still, just because someone challenges you to a duel, that does not make it legal for you to accept the challenge.

          And still also too, the sharpshooters were not local klansmen recognized by the splinter-Communists. Occam’s Razor type thinking would lead us to suspect they were special government-connected sharpshooters brought in for the special assassination mission.

          The Left might think about that today when challenging the Right to a duel. Antifa should remember that there may be special government assassins sprinkled in among the Proud Boys and Stormtrumpers at any time.

          Reply
  15. D. Fuller

    Amazon’s work issues are something that Carly Fiorina (Hewlett Packard) & Eddi Lampert (Sears) are well familiar with. All three CEO’s are of the Libertarian, Ayn Rand mob that believes in the Atlas Shrugged fairy tale meant for 3rd grade school children.

    HP managed to survive the 10% work force firings under Fiorina, attributed to “low performance”. Sears forced workers & departments to work against each other instead of competitors.

    Both companies cannibalized themselves. Sears more than HP.

    As for Amazon? Their use of low-wage labor, tax accounting gimmicks & fraud, tax loopholes? Different setting. Everyone knows that Amazon would never make a profit if they did not use accounting gimmicks/fraud/tax dodges.

    Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        The CIA can’t make ordinary “civilian-grade” individual shoppers buy stuff from Amazon. If no one in the world would ever buy a single item from Amazon ever again, Amazon would be strictly limited to its CIA contracts.

        Reply
        1. norm de plume

          I have long had a policy of not buying anything from Amazon. Until lockdown I had actually never bought anything online anyway, so my protest was kinda academic. But stuck at home I thought ‘might buy some books n stuff’ so I used Abe and found that several books I had chased for years in libraries and second hand bookshops (eg, BS Johnson’s Christy Malry’s Own Double Entry) were there. I went mad for a week before sobering up.

          Last week I thought of a few more to get and googled Abe to go to the site and noticed in the info on the right hand side – Parent Company: Amazon.

          Jeez. My mum had told me she got things from Book Depository so I googled that. Yep, Parent Company: Amazon. And of course, the smaller indie sites don’t have the half of what you want.

          It’s unreal. Even that punter’s review site Goodreads turns out to be Bezos territory. I’m mad as hell and won’t take it any more, or at least won’t buy online much any more. Soon he will own every damn thing.

          It was synchronicity that a friend, within the hour of these depressing discoveries, sent me this tweet from the late and very much lamented David Graeber, seething that authors, the book industry, literature generally has been destroyed by this one awful man:

          https://twitter.com/davidgraeber/status/1299701075075833857

          A thousand Jeff Bezos’s aren’t worth one of Graeber’s fingernails.

          As an aside, I Googled that paraphrase above of an infamous quote from a prominent religious leader (after removing the names) and the entire first page was about fingernail maintenance. I tried it in Qwant and the top result was a link to the original quote. Commercial imperatives, or ethno-centric airbrushing?

          Reply
          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            The Dark Lord Bezos of Mordorazon has long suspected the existence of a NOmazon resistance out here, and has been buying up every possible digital shopping venue in order to close off our means of escape. Eventually we will have to turn to goverpolitics to force Amazon to disgorge its ill-boughten companies so they may go free and be competitors again.

            In the meantime, does anyone here know of any on-line bookseller, new or used, which have not yet been bought by the Dark Lord?

            Are there enough NOmazon bitter-enders to be a devoted viability-conferring customer base for any new NOmazon on-line bookseller which someone might try to establish? People understanding the need to pay a HIGHER price to a NOmazon bookseller to help it make up for its permanent lack of volume? The volume which the Dark Lord will never allow it to achieve?

            Reply
            1. Basil Pesto

              Twice a year I buy films from Barnes & Noble, but they’re in PE hands

              in Australia, I buy from Booktopia and Dymocks:

              https://www.booktopia.com.au/why-booktopia/news19.html

              https://www.dymocks.com.au/about/dymocks

              I used to buy frequently from bookdepository but once they were bought, the appeal wore off. I do buy from them occasionally depending on their stock and pricing. I tend to agree with Stoller that it’s a political problem, and not something that can be fixed by consumers at the point of sale, so I don’t beat myself up about it.

              Reply
  16. tommy strange

    did someone post this already> High and Mighty….about SUV’s came out in 2004. A very good book. Has info about how consumer groups, public citizen etc, tried to get Clinton and Gore to stop the truck chassis stuff to get around emissions……….

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      It goes to show that Laws and Rules do influence the behavior of everyone within the Lawfield Matrix and the Rulefield Matrix. That’s why bussiness works so hard to buy the Lawfield Matrix and the Rulefield matrix that bussiness wants.

      Reply
  17. jr

    Re: COpulateVID masks

    There are, or were, stores here in the West Village that are waaaaaay ahead of the curve on this one…

    Reply
  18. Louis Fyne

    If media had any sense of historical awareness, they’d do some research on Kenosha and its neighbor Racine….both archetypes of the post-FDR American dream— which morphed into the bipartisan deindustrialization nightmare

    Good paying jobs not just in light and heavy industry…even one of the country’s biggest children’s book publishers was HQ’d in Racine (Western Publishing/Golden Books) and printed books in Racine.

    Go try finding a children’s book today published by the NYC media giants that is printed in the USA. Spoiler: they don’t exist.

    Reply
  19. JWP

    The headline of Reuters reads :”Wall Street tumbles as investors eye slow recovery”

    I’m not sure what we would be “recovering” towards seeing as no bottom has been found for wither unemployment, deaths, inequality, or environmental destruction. I would go as far to say any perceived economic recovery at this point is a bubble until those four stop getting worse and take a better trajectory.

    Reply
    1. John Anthony La Pietra

      So it must be time for us lowly animals, before we turn into glue, to call (ahem) a Boxer rebellion. . . .

      Reply
  20. periol

    On the college football front, Penn State has released some initial info from looking at players in the Big 10 with COVID. Scary stuff:

    https://www.centredaily.com/sports/college/penn-state-university/psu-football/article245448050.html

    During a State College Area school board of directors meeting on Monday night, Wayne Sebastianelli — Penn State’s director of athletic medicine — made some alarming comments about the link between COVID-19 and myocarditis, particularly in Big Ten athletes. Sebastianelli said that cardiac MRI scans revealed that approximately a third of Big Ten athletes who tested positive for COVID-19 appeared to have myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle that can be fatal if left unchecked.

    “You could have a very high-level athlete who’s got a very superior VO2 max and cardiac output who gets infected with COVID and can drop his or her VO2 max and cardiac output just by 10 percent, and that could make them go from elite status to average status,” Sebastianelli said. “We don’t know that. We don’t know how long that’s going to last. What we have seen when people have been studied with cardiac MRI scans — symptomatic and asymptomatic COVID infections — is a level of inflammation in cardiac muscle that just is alarming.”

    Over in Europe there are many professional football (soccer) players who have tested positive for COVID-19, including recently. If 30% or so of all elite athletes who contract this are no longer elite, there are going to be lasting repercussions across the world of sports.

    Edit to add: It was reported a few days ago that Trump called up the Big 10 Commissioner to try and convince him to play football this fall. I’m guessing this news was released as a result of that phone call.

    Reply
  21. Fresh Cream

    It was here at Naked Capitalism that I first heard of David Graeber. His comment that barter was not the starting point for money grabbed my attention right away. What a miracle it is when someones words totally change what you thought was true without question. David was that type of thinker! And then he did it again with Bullshit Jobs. I’m so sad he is gone.

    Reply
      1. Katniss Everdeen

        Hear hear (?).

        Whenever I try to puzzle that one out, “Hear, here” always makes to most sense to me.

        Whatever.

        Reply
        1. Sailor Bud

          Always took it as a shortening of “hear ye, hear ye,” and hence hear x2, but I’m sure some regular here knows the real story.

          Reply
  22. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: “Former Michigan governor Rick Snyder: I am a Republican vote for Biden”

    I can remember a long time ago when Trump was eviscerated for not “disavowing” the “endorsement” of david duke.

    It’s a good thing the dems have decided to call this “healing,” because the slime trail behind biden is getting too big to ignore.

    Still, I don’t expect either biden or snyder will be taking “healing,” solidarity sips of Flint water any time soon. Because “covid.” And “science.” Oh, and “lead.”

    Reply
  23. fresno dan

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ti09oEN-DJ0
    Cornel West: The choice is between ‘disaster’ and ‘catastrophe
    =============================
    Woody Allen: “More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.”
    That used to be a joke, but nowadays its reality…
    Ask yourself this: do you think you’ll be better off 4 years from now?

    Reply
  24. edmondo

    Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI), an organization that’s trying to strengthen support for Israel within the party,

    How do you get higher than 100%?

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      How about charging all House and Senate members associated with DMFI and AIPAC as unregistered agents of a foreign power and having them shot? Someone tried just this scheme against Mike Flynn, and almost got away with it.
      Turnabout is fair play.

      Reply
      1. caucus99percenter

        There is, and has been for a long time, literally more demonstrated loyalty in Congress to Netanyahu (appropriations of free money, special joint sessions with 29 standing ovations) than to their own country’s president, whether named Obama (“You lie!”) or Trump (Pelosi tearing sheets of paper).

        Reply
  25. drumlin woodchuckles

    If the Catfood Congress does “nothing” and by-default forces the collection of all the “back FICA taxes” after the suspension period is over, the people getting “retro-taxed” will be bitter and upset and may think it is a “new” tax rather than just a delayed FICA tax “catch-up”.

    The Big Catfood Media will work their hardest to foster that confusion in every single citizen mind they can reach and pollute.

    Since the Catfood Congress hates Social Security and wishes to destroy it without leaving its fingerprints on the body, it stands to reason that the Catfood Congress would like to see a “retro-FICA-tax snapback” happen and enrage the targets. The Catfood Congress could then leverage that rage for a Catfood Plan for Social Security.

    So I predict: the Catfood Congress will carefully do nothing in order to accidentally-on-purpose let the FICA retro-tax snap back as painfully as possible.

    Reply
    1. Oh

      You can tell that Congress and the Orange monster both want to destroy Social Security, And the fools who take the money in cuts intended for their own retirement will never know what’s gonna hit ’em.

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        That’s what the Catfood Congress is counting on.

        The problem is that we few . . . we happy few . . . . who underSTAND the scam, will also get the FICA tax deferral even though we don’t want it and didn’t ask for it. And our only defense against the Snapback Surprise will be to NOT spend the “extra” money so that it won’t “hurt as much” when the Snapback Surprise makes our paychecks smaller again.

        If we can weather that Snapback Surprise, we can at least feel some short term bitter-good in that the initial gambit . . . only deferring the FICA tax in order to starve the Trust Fund of just that much incoming money . . . will have failed. We will then have to do a lot of heavy hearts-and-minds lifting with everyone we know who will express bitterness over the FICA tax increase.

        Reply
  26. LawnDart

    I was assigned to American Tire Distributors as a temp for about three months, driving a manlift and picking tires off of racks 20′ or more in the air– scooter tires, tractor tires, you-name-it tires; tiny tires to ones weighing hundreds of pounds.

    First job I had in a long time that didn’t drug-test, and the reason for this was soon pretty clear: it didn’t matter on how many picks were to be done on a given evening, you were expected to complete your list as quickly as possible, every time without exception. At the end of the month, the slowest pickers were “culled” and new workers sent from the temp agency. Since it was one of the better paying jobs ($15hr) in the region, most of the guys tries to hang onto it by most any means, to include massive consumption of amphetamines and pain pills during break time in order to continue work and to be able to continue to “make the cut.”

    Accidents, injuries, and damage were frequent, but most went unreported as you might lose your job otherwise.

    That’s what capitalism in America looks like for many these days: work for a pittance of bread until your body is too broken or old for work.

    Reply
    1. Janie

      What a grim picture! I’m guessing there are many such situations. Have I ever led a sheltered life! Thank you for posting this.

      Reply
    2. jr

      When I got out of the service, I briefly worked lawn care in Florida. There was another crew whose chief would hand out lines of meth to his boys first thing in the morning. They would always get done on Thursdays instead of Fridays…

      Reply
  27. CarlH

    I bought an SUV in 2003 after being in a horrible car accident on the Audobahn while in a small sedan. I didn’t feel safe in anything that small at the time, so I bought a small sized SUV. I rarely drove then, and it is even rarer when I drive now, but it served me well for a time (eventually my fear of being in small cars was vanquished) but is no longer in my hands, and now I don’t think I will ever own another car if I can get away with it. I have a feeling some people on here would still condemn my purchase decision.

    Reply
    1. Amfortas the hippie

      my life changing wreck was in a 90 Nissan centra(sentra?…dont remember)…basically a beer can on wheels.
      Then i got the 76 vw van and went on the run for 5 years.
      I’ve driven a pickup ever since…a real pickup.
      not one of those dinky ones(although chevy luvs were fun for running around on a ranch)
      Of course i can further justify it due to farm stuff…can’t haul manure in a prius…or drive around in a cactus and mesquite dotted pasture looking for a goat(10 ply tires).
      wife had several little cars over the years, and i hated taking those anywhere…and i worried incessantly when she and the boys would go to away games…because that wreck utterly changed my life.
      it sticks with you.

      Reply
      1. CarlH

        Yes, a horrible wreck will definitely change your life. I count myself lucky in that after an awful lot of time my fear subsided a bit. As an aside, I really value your input here Amfortas. It is unique and inspiring. Would love to share a j around a campfire someday.

        Reply
    2. ambrit

      Feel safe with us here Carl. a full range of opinion and argumentation is the norm. As for the fact that some here will condemn you for needing the sense of security an SUV gives, well, so what. Let them live their own lives without trying to micromanage yours.
      I’ve had all sorts of vehicles, and wrecked a few. The most spectacular wrecks were my own fault, if you forget about the little old lady who ran a stop sign in New Orleans and sent me and my motorcycle spinning.
      Now I try and make do with the wife’s 2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser, which I have done some serious repair work on over the years we’ve had it. I mention this because I feel that few if anyone nowadays can afford the garage specific repairs the newer cars are designed to maximize. The smaller and simpler they are, the better.
      If you make a mistake, observe it, learn from it, and don’t look back.

      Reply
    3. ObjectiveFunction

      “Conscientious SUV Shopper Just Wants Something That Will Kill Family In Other Car In Case Of Accident”

      Sing it, Geddy!

      Suddenly ahead of me
      Across the mountainside
      A gleaming alloy air car
      Shoots toward me, two lanes wide
      I spin around with shrieking tires
      To run the deadly race
      Go screaming through the valley
      As another joins the chase!

      I remember reading “A Nice Morning Drive“, the dystopian short story this song was based on, in (I think it was) Omni magazine. Entertaining in its own right:

      But in the late Seventies, with no major wars, cancer cured and social welfare straightened out, the politicians needed a new cause and once again they turned toward the automobile. The regulations concerning safety became tougher. Cars became larger, heavier, less efficient. They consumed gasoline so voraciously that the United States had had to become a major ally with the Arabian countries.

      Reply
    1. Daryl

      All the college admins who made the decision to open this year need to be held accountable for this.

      Think of how bad it’s going to be when these large schools close and then send all the students *back* around the state and country.

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        While keeping the tuition these students have already paid, thereby giving the students an education in the deceit and treachery of Esteemed Institutional Leaders.

        Picture millions of young people , the “future of
        America” , turning this image into a full sized poster and putting millions of these posters on millions of bedroom walls.

        https://i.redd.it/tefrmspmnkh51.jpg

        Reply
  28. ambrit

    A Zeitgeist Watch item from the NADS:
    Am I alone in seeing noticeable price hikes on basic foodstuffs and basic household supplies in the shops recently?
    Also, I just went outside to check the mailbox and was “swooped” by a big owl. It scared the piss out of me! Those things are big and silent!
    An omen?

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      I was mildly attacked by an owl once.

      I took it as a message. The message being: ” Hey pal, we don’t need your kind around here. Stay out of the woods.”

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        That message understood. However, this happened in front of our house in an inner ring suburb in the NADS. Metropolitan area population of about 50,000 souls. We have three thirty foot tall second growth Southern Pines, one out front, two in the back. The owls like the bigger trees with big branches to perch on and spy out prey. It being twilight, perhaps I looked like a tubby morsel?
        Nature abhors a vacuum, someone once said. Are we leading such vacuous lives that Nature feels compelled to make up the deficiency?
        This isn’t the first time the owls have “swooped” me, in both front and back yards. I’ve been scared out of my wits every time. Those birds fly perfectly silently. I empathize with the small ‘game’ critters. You don’t know Doom is coming for you until it is too late.
        The feathered assassin flew across the road and perched on the peak of the neighbour’s porch roof.
        And we have the gall to tell ourselves that we are in control!
        Nature bats last.

        Reply
        1. Late Introvert

          Lots of owls here in Eastern Iowa, and lots of big trees. They have been very active the last week. I have not been swooped but have heard the aftermath of their silent attacks many times outside my window. Silence. Loud, sharp screech, minor scuffle. Silence.

          Reply
        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          Perhaps the owl was just having some fun with you.

          Was this the little screech owl? Or the big great horned owl?

          Reply
          1. ambrit

            The large kind. It being twilight, I did not get a good look as it glided past me at head height and about three or four feet away. The body was definitely bigger than my head.

            Reply
    2. Janie

      About 4 years ago there was an owl in our big, centrally located park that attacked joggers. Beware of owl signs were posted. It was big news at the time

      Reply
    1. ambrit

      Oh man. We do seem to be facing the prospect of a swarm of Moties entering our Social System.
      I have serious philosophical and political differences with the authors of the referenced works, but must concede that a well written story stands on it’s own merits.
      What’s next, King Biden’s Spaceship?

      Reply
  29. YetAnotherChris

    The most direct avenue to police reform is getting the cops in dense urban areas to walk their beats. Get to know the neighborhood and the people who live there. Cops should be doing almost as much walking as a postal carrier, and if they’re not careful they might learn something along the way. Officer Prokuski is going to stop at the burger shack for a half-priced meal and gab for an hour, but he’s going to share a lot of intel with the merchant and their customers about the state of the neighborhood, gleaned from walking the beat. That’s hard to achieve from a roaming SUV.

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Also . . . less law, hence less enforcement. Also, ending the practice of enforced arrest quotas. And maybe other little fixes along the way.

      Reply
    2. fwe'zy

      Isn’t surveillance about to be total anyway? Police may become redundant soon, especially with robots and other control/ enforcement technologies . :/

      Personally, I like your vision of government workers walking the neighborhoods, integrating more with the community. We just have to figure out how to make it a public service they’re providing, as opposed to a more threatening/ punitive role.

      Reply
  30. Jack Parsons

    “The seclusion and self-dependence of Millinocket seemed to insulate it from the pandemic’s perils. But after the wedding, it became clear that in small towns built on close personal connections, those virtues could be hazards, too.”

    The retail illegal drug trade will penetrate every little fenced-off village. Everybody’s gotta have their meth. And, retail drug sales often involve performative friendship rituals to promote trust. As in, take off the mask and smile.

    Reply

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