2:00PM Water Cooler 9/4/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart from 91-DIVOC. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site.

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

Illlinois and poor Iowa looking better….

And at reader request, Midwest positivity:

Midwest: “Fauci says Midwestern states should be on alert this Labor Day” [The Hill]. “The nation’s top infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, said Midwestern states in particular should be vigilant during the upcoming Labor Day holiday. ‘There are several states that are at risk for surging, namely North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Arkansas, Missouri, Indiana, Illinois,”‘ Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said… Cases rose dramatically following the holiday weekends of Memorial Day and July Fourth, and officials do not want a repeat. Memorial Day marked the beginning of when many states decided to reopen, despite not having contained the spread of the coronavirus. Cases peaked shortly after the July Fourth holiday…. [W]hile case numbers in the hot spots in Florida, Texas, Arizona and California have started to fall, coronavirus cases in the Midwest are rising. Since Aug. 23, six Midwest states saw single-day records for new cases, according to the COVID Tracking Project. … According to the COVID Tracking Project, 28 percent of all nationwide cases in the past week have occurred in the Midwest, with an average of about 10,000 new cases every day. Those numbers aren’t nearly as high as what the Southern states saw, but the populations are also much smaller. It’s also unclear what specifically is behind the rise in cases, but some of the largest outbreaks have been tied to students returning to colleges.”

Reopening: “The left is blowing the school reopening crisis” [The Week]. “The failure of the public schools to get their act together is driving even very liberal parents around the bend. Where will they ultimately land? I worry that they’ll land in a place vastly less-supportive of public education. Trust betrayed takes work and time to regain; many administrations may not be prepared to do the work, and few may have the time. Parents who have settled on alternatives may be wary of going back in even after the virus has receded — particularly when the schools are laboring under the austerity budgets likely to predominate in the post-pandemic economy. And if they are unwilling to trust the schools with their children, are they likely to trust the system with their dollars? Guilt only goes so far; even liberal parents may decide that rather than prop up a system that failed them, they’d rather put their money behind efforts to get more needy students out. Of course, that’s exactly what advocates of school choice and privatization have long sought. But a collapse in support for public education would be the absolute worst way to get there, even from the perspective of those who agree on the destination.”


“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!


Biden (D)(1): “Joe Biden’s Campaign Is Plodding and Forgettable and Winning” [Ross Barkan]. “Biden has run the most plodding and forgettable presidential campaign in recent memory. For many blinkered liberals, to even suggest Biden needs to articulate a clear, affirmative vision is to offer yourself up to the MAGA horde. Though the former vice president has been smart at times to physically remain in isolation, due to both COVID-19 and the reality that unscripted interactions inevitably lead to strange verbal gaffes, we are reaching a point where he will have to engage and attempt, perhaps, to form a coherent, forward-looking argument for his candidacy. This does not mean simply explaining, once more, why Trump is so awful and why he is a threat to American democracy. It does not mean releasing occasional, well-intentioned policy platforms, hoping voters see them on his website. It means, instead, doing what all winning campaigns have done: offering a compelling vision for a presidency that can be understood, and easily summarized, by average people. For good and ill, this is what victorious campaigns tend to do. Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton all did it. Even Trump—”Make America Great Again!” “Build the Wall!—engaged in a version of this messaging in 2016. A campaign must answer a simple question: what do you hope to do for us? Biden, puttering ahead, hasn’t done this yet, not in a way beyond releasing policy papers to newspaper reporters…. Democrats will have to start thinking about wielding power again.” • Again? Adding, I’m not sure allowing liberal Democrats to go to brunch again is altogether a good thing. Are the PMC’s class interests mine?

Biden (D)(2): “‘Words Matter’: Details From Joe Biden’s Private Kenosha Talk” [Patch]. “Biden spoke about expanding mandatory rehabilitation for drug users. ‘They’ve gotta go to mandatory rehab. That way it’s not part of their record, if they finish it. We shouldn’t be putting anybody in jail for that.'” • Not the Crime Bill, but pretty far from legalizing marijuana, too.

UPDATE Biden (D)(3): “More than 175 current, former law enforcement officials endorse Joe Biden, slam Trump as ‘lawless’ president” [FOX]. “More than 175 current and former law enforcement officers and officials endorsed Joe Biden for president on Friday, while slamming President Trump as a ‘lawless.'” • Pretty far from defunding the police, too.

Biden (D)(4): “Team Biden eyes a trillion-dollar January stimulus” [Axios]. “Many of Biden’s economic advisers served in the Obama administration and know what it’s like to inherit an economic crisis on day one. They feel that the 2009 stimulus package — the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act — was woefully inadequate. And they’re determined not to make the same mistake twice.” • I would like to know who “they” are, and whether “they” have shared their views in public. I would also like to know if the Lincoln Project, the Blue Dogs think, and Nancy “PayGo” Pelosi think.

UPDATE Biden (D)(5): “Democrats Worry Joe Biden Is Taking Latino Voters for Granted” [Time]. ” When young Latino voters were asked in a Telemundo and BuzzFeed News poll conducted in June to name politicians who had ‘shown up’ for the Latino community, 33% of respondents said no one. The stakes are high: Apart from being a rapidly growing demographic within the U.S., Latinos in some states could very well determine the outcome of the presidential election.” • Dunno about “Latino voters” as a category: Florida is not Texas is not Arizona is not California.

Trump (R)(1): “Presidential race tightens in Minnesota as Trump plows resources into state” [The Hill]. “Minnesota Democrats believe Biden is in a better position than Clinton. But they acknowledge that the same cultural trends that helped Trump turn Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania red have forced Democrats to play defense in the state for the first time in decades. ‘It’s realistic that a Republican could win here for the first time in a long time, but Trump is not the favorite in Minnesota by any means and having one or two good polls doesn’t make it a toss-up ye\t,’ said Todd Rapp, a veteran Democratic operative in the state. ‘Trump will get trounced in the Twin Cities and I don’t know that there are enough votes in the rural parts of the state to make up for it. But I tell you what, plenty of things could happen in the next two months to make my confidence waver.’ Biden leads Trump by 5.3 points in Minnesota, according to the RealClearPolitics average. Trump fell short to Clinton in Minnesota by only about 40,000 votes in 2016.”

UPDATE Trump (R)(2): “If Maricopa County Sours on Trump, So Will Suburbs Everywhere” [Bloomberg]. “Maricopa is one of the largest counties in the U.S. by both area and population: With 4.5 million residents, it’s more populous than 23 states. That gives it outsize political importance, because whoever wins the county usually wins the state. And because Arizona has emerged as a crucial battleground, it’s no exaggeration to say that control of the White House and U.S. Senate could both end up hinging on Maricopa County. For anyone hoping to understand American politics in the Trump era, its significance goes even further. Maricopa is one of the most heavily suburban counties in the country, growing and diversifying at a more rapid clip than any almost anywhere else. The trends in Maricopa are being replicated in suburbs across the country, particularly in fast-growing, traditionally Republican metro areas such as Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, and Houston. In 2016, Trump won them narrowly. In 2018, Democrats made huge inroads, taking over the House of Representatives on the strength of suburban voters who ousted GOP incumbents. Now, in 2020, these suburbs have emerged as the new frontier of U.S. politics.”

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ME: “Ad Watch: Ad against Susan Collins on Big Pharma blows up small parts of her record” [Bangor Daily News]. “A new ad from a Democratic super PAC goes after U.S. Sen. Susan Collins over the opioid epidemic, making two sweeping assertions that link back to only small pieces of her record and personal finances. While it is accurate in asserting that Collins has not supported some accountability provisions from Democrats, she has also supported measures responding to the opioid crisis. The ad’s most explosive claim — that Collins profited off the epidemic — is based on no more than a few of her husband’s stock sales that the senator has said the couple does not control.”

UPDATE “The Nine Types of Voters Who Will Decide 2020” [Bloomberg]. “Pollsters and analysts helped us identify nine groups who will likely determine the outcome of 2020: 1) Double Haters, 2) Shy Trumpers, 3) Tired Trumpers, 4) Racial Justice Voters, 5) Minority Mold-Breakers, 6) Coronavoters, 7) Swinging Seniors, 8) Hurricane Maria Refugees, and 9) Florida’s Newly Enfranchised.” • Sanders voters are thrown into the “Double Haters” bucket. This is a fun article with a lot of interviews, not as superficial as the headline makes it sound.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“QAnon looms behind nationwide rallies and viral #SavetheChildren hashtags” [NBC News]. “QAnon spent years on the fringes of the internet, with the theory evolving and often growing less specific. What was originally a conspiracy theory that centered on an anonymous internet poster has now become something of a catchall for a variety of beliefs about a hidden group of child abusers in positions of power.” • As I keep saying, the difficulty here is that there are hidden child abusers in positions of power (IOW, this not the Satanic ritual abuse nonsense all over again): the Catholic church, the Boy Scouts, and the BBC among them (along with Denny Hastert and Jeffrey Epstein). I don’t want to get out my yarn for Q diagrams, because I’ve seen some and don’t want to see any more, but the general moral condemnation of globalist elites is spot on (and presumably will be channeled into something less dangerous in due course). Also, I still want to know who Q is. Why isn’t that part of the story?

This thread could be taken as another “Bigfoot Trashes Local Yokels” story, but I don’t think it is. This:

Well, yes. Most voters are in fact forced to weigh incommensurables. That’s what you do if you don’t have a well-worked out theory of power and governance.

* * *

UPDATE “Economic Insecurity Brought on by Covid-19 Threatens to Disenfranchise Millions of Voters” [The Appeal]. “While people lose their homes and become transient and displaced, voter registration becomes more difficult as the election draws near and people don’t have time or capacity to re-register with temporary addresses or are unable to because of the shutdown or curtailing of hours at state and local agencies. The problem is especially alarming in the Deep South, a region reeling from the ramifications of the Supreme Court’s 2013 Shelby County v. Holder case that disemboweled Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act and made it easier for state and local governments to rewrite their voting rules and \ people of color.”


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: “August 2020 BLS Jobs Situation – Employment Grew 1,371,000 But Still Down 11,697,000 Year-to-Date” [Econintersect]. “Employment recovery from the coronavirus continues. However, readers are advised that the basis of the BLS numbers are from the middle of August (which are extrapolated to the end of the month). Still, these numbers are much better than ADP estimated on Wednesday…. The economically intuitive sectors were mixed for economic growth. The rate of further recovery will be dependant on the coronavirus effects.” • The permanently unemployed though….

Income: “USDA Says Farm Income Is Increasing, Gov. Payments Are A Record” [Farm Journal]. “According to USDA, net cash-farm income is forecast to increase $4.9 billion (4.5 percent) to $115.2 billion in 2020. Inflation-adjusted net cash farm income is forecast to increase $4.0 billion (3.6 percent) from 2019, which would be 5.7 percent above its 2000-19 average ($109.0 billion).” • That should help the Republicans in the Midwest…

Leading Indicators: “28 August 2020 ECRI’s WLI Improvement Continues And Is Finally In Expansion” [Econintersect]. “ECRI’s WLI Growth Index which forecasts economic growth six months forward improved and squeaked into expansion this week.”

Rail: “Rail Week Ending 29 August 2020 – August Total Movements Down 5.8% Year-Over-Year” [Econintersect]. “Total rail traffic has two components – carloads and intermodal (containers or trailers on rail cars). Container exports from China are now recovering, container exports from the U.S. declined and remains deep in contraction. This week again intermodal was in expansion year-over-year and continues on a strengthening trendline. However, carloads remain deep in contraction.”

* * *

Tech: “Amazon’s top UK reviewers appear to profit from fake 5-star posts” [Financial Times]. “Amazon is investigating the most prolific reviewers on its UK website after a Financial Times investigation found evidence that they were profiting from posting thousands of five-star ratings. Justin Fryer, the number one-ranked reviewer on Amazon.co.uk, reviewed £15,000 worth of products in August alone, from smartphones to electric scooters to gym equipment, giving his five-star approval on average once every four hours. Overwhelmingly, those products were from little-known Chinese brands, who often offer to send reviewers products for free in return for positive posts. Mr Fryer then appears to have sold many of the goods on eBay, making nearly £20,000 since June.” • Man’s reach must exceed his grasp, or what’s a Heaven for? –Robert Browning

Tech: “Five Eyes nations start new club for competition regulators and paint target on digital giants” [The Register]. “The nations of the five eyes alliance – Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the USA – have started a new club that will see their respective competition agencies ‘share intelligence, case theories and investigative techniques to better coordinate investigations across international borders.’ The new club operates has the roll-off-the-tongue name ‘Multilateral Mutual Assistance and Cooperation Framework for Competition Authorities’ but will go by ‘MMAC’…. None of the regulators have named any specific organisation or investigation that spurred the creation of the new club, but all five nations have expressed different degrees of frustration with the likes of Google and Facebook.”

Mr Market: “US tech shares slide for second day” [Financial Times]. “US technology stocks extended a market sell-off into a second session on Friday, led by further strong selling of stocks such as Apple that had rallied sharply in recent months….. The heavy weighting of tech stocks meant that even the broader S&P 500 was down sharply, by around 2.5 per cent, brushing off early optimism from a US employment report that showed the world’s largest economy added 1.4m jobs in August. The figure met economists’ expectations and contributed to a notable improvement in the unemployment rate, to 8.4 per cent from 10.2 per cent in July.”

Mr. Market: “Nasdaq Plunge Is Victory Lap for a Stable of Stock Naysayers” [Bloomberg]. “Bearish investors took a victory lap as high-flying stocks such as Zoom Video Communications Inc., Tesla Inc. and Apple Inc. dragged the Nasdaq 100 lower, after the index had rallied in 11 of the past 13 sessions. While the correction was abrupt, it was overdue given how crowded the megacap tech trade had become, according to Wells Fargo Investment’s Sameer Samana. And with market attention likely to turn to the upcoming U.S. presidential election after the holiday weekend, traders are likely trimming risk, he said.”

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 59 Greed (previous close: 60, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 77 ( Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 4 at 12:42pm. The downdraft continues.

The Biosphere

“Industrial waste can turn planet-warming carbon dioxide into stone” [Science]. “At Gahcho Kué, Dipple’s team bubbled a mix of CO2 and nitrogen gas simulating diesel exhaust through a grayish green slurry of crushed mine waste in water. Over 2 days, the slurry acquired a slight rusty hue—evidence that its iron was oxidizing while its magnesium and calcium were sucking up CO2 and turning it into to carbon-based minerals. The CO2-hungry waste from the diamond mine is an exotic deep-earth rock, shot up to the surface in the volcanic eruptions that bring up diamonds. But a wide array of rock and mudlike wastes from mining, cement and aluminum production, coal burning, and other large-scale industrial processes share a similar affinity for the greenhouse gas. Known as alkaline solid wastes, these materials have a high pH, which causes them to react with CO2, a mild acid. And unlike other schemes for drawing excess CO2 from the atmosphere, these reactive rocks can both capture the gas and store it, locked away permanently in a solid mineral. ‘The potential is real,’ Dipple says. ‘It will make an important contribution to lowering CO2.'”

“Deep-Sea Mining: How to Balance Need for Metals with Ecological Impacts” [Scientific American]. “Slashing humanity’s reliance on fossil fuels will require billions of kilograms of metal: a single wind turbine can contain more than a metric ton of copper, and electric car batteries demand heaps of cobalt, nickel and manganese. Most of these metals now come from terrestrial mines—often at the cost of deforestation, water pollution and human rights abuses. But a vast trove of metals on the deep-sea floor could soon provide an alternative source…. Proponents say deep-sea mining can avoid a few of the ills of land-based extraction and cut the costs of renewable technology. But some scientists caution against jumping from exploration to exploitation too quickly, given how little we know about the deep-sea environment and the life it supports. ‘I generally don’t think it’s possible for us to objectively assess all the risks involved right now,’ says Jeff Drazen, a marine biologist at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. “This is the poorest-described ecosystem on the planet.'”

“UMBC study reveals gender bias in bird song research and impact of women on science” [UMBC]. “A revolutionary group of scientists has been rethinking for two decades how we understand bird song, with women leading the way. Several of these scientists are from UMBC, and their latest research has revealed findings not just about birds, but about bird researchers. Elaborate bird song had been considered mostly a male trait for centuries, famously discussed by Charles Darwin. But Karan Odom, Ph.D. ’16, biological sciences, published a landmark paper on female bird song in 2014 that helped change that viewpoint. Odom’s study found that as many as 70 percent of female birds sing. Her extensive research also established firmly that both sexes almost certainly sang in the common ancestor of all bird species—a radical idea in ornithology.” • Some bird song:

Does anybody know a source of daily bird songs?

Health Care

“DNA Firm With History of Errors Botched Nursing-Home Covid Tests” [Bloomberg]. “Botched Covid-19 tests from a single Massachusetts laboratory led to about 300 flawed and misleading results at nursing homes across the state, a casualty of the nationwide rush to get diagnostics to the public after initial attempts to supply them went awry. The spate of false results from Orig3n Inc., a consumer DNA-testing company that pivoted to coronavirus detection during the pandemic, cost some nursing homes tens of thousands of dollars, reduced levels of available staff and sent panic rippling through employees and residents. After the erroneous results came to light, Orig3n was told by Massachusetts health officials to suspend testing Aug. 8, according to a person familiar with the matter. Incorrect test results can arise for a variety of reasons, including sample contamination, pressure to process tests quickly and lack of vetting and validation. What was unusual about Orig3n’s case, said Davey Smith, head of the Division of Infectious Diseases and Global Public Health at the University of California, San Diego, was that it didn’t catch the surge in positives itself before sending out results.” • I guess it’s good that’s unusual….

“Health officials worry nation not ready for COVID-19 vaccine” [Associated Press]. “With only about half of Americans saying they would get vaccinated, according to a poll from AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, it also will be crucial to educate people about the benefits of vaccination, said Molly Howell, who manages the North Dakota Department of Health’s immunization program. The unprecedented pace of vaccine development has left many Americans skeptical about the safety of COVID-19 immunizations; others simply don’t trust the federal government. ‘We’re in a very deep-red state,’ said Ann Lewis, CEO of CareSouth Carolina, a group of community health centers that serve mostly low-income people in five rural counties in South Carolina. ‘The message that is coming out is not a message of trust and confidence in medical or scientific evidence.”” • Let’s not blame the deplorables for everything, mkay–

“Sociodemographic Predictors of Vaccination Exemptions on the Basis of Personal Belief in California” [American Journal of Public Heatlh]. “Personal belief exemptions are more common in areas with a higher percentage of White race and higher income.” And–

“Vaccines and Wealth: Another Take on the Unvaccinated” [University of Michigan School of Public Health]. “Unvaccinated children are more likely to be uninsured, live below the poverty level, and reside in rural areas… Yet, several studies indicate that vaccine refusal thrives in affluent communities that have access to vaccinations. Individuals who refrain from vaccinations cluster in geographic regions, such as specific counties and schools. In 2014 to 2015, vaccine exemptions for school children were most prevalent in areas of high socioeconomic status. Research consistently indicates that vaccine exemptions are concentrated in wealthy areas, clustered particularly around private schools.” • Somebody needs to ask Fauci, Azar, and Redfield about “Personal belief exemptions” immediately.

Riots and Protests

“Federal agent feels like he ‘never really came back’ from Portland” [Duffel Blog]. “He may have returned to El Paso, but US Border Patrol Agent (BPA) Ken Greggs says he doesn’t feel like he ever truly came home from his harrowing 27-day deployment to Portland, Oregon. ‘Every time I hear a leaf blower, it’s like I’m right back inside that courthouse,’ Greggs said. ‘I still hear the drum circles when I close my eyes.'” • In objective terms, just looking at the numbers…. “Greggs” is right.

I ran into this tune in my perambulations, I forget why:

Seems like a good plan that could solve a lot of problems (lyrics; but where’s the outrage?).

Sports Desk

“PSU football doctor clarifies comments on percentage of COVID-positive athletes with myocarditis” [Centre Daily Times]. “During a State College Area school board of directors meeting on Monday night, Wayne Sebastianelli — Penn State’s director of athletic medicine — made some \ 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…. CORRECTION: Penn State Health later clarified that the 30-35% figure pertaining to COVID-19-positive Big Ten athletes verbally shared with Dr. Wayne Sebastianelli by a colleague was actually published at the lower rate of 15%. He was unaware of that when he made his comments at the State College school board meeting, a spokesperson said.” • Oh, so one-in-ten at the very lowest. So that’s alright then.

Class Warfare

UPDATE “Manners, Deference, and Private Property: Or, Elements for a General Theory of Hierarchy” (PDF) [David Graeber (cocomaan)]. I had to stop my fascinated reading to snag a quote: ” I also believe a theory of manners opens the possibility of understanding how forms of social domination come to be experienced in the most intimate possible ways—in physical habits, instincts of desire or revulsion— that often seem essential to our very sense of being in the world, so much so that even our instincts for rebellion often appear to reinforce them. I do not claim to have found a clear way out of this dilemma; but in order to do so, it is at least helpful to be able to state clearly what the dilemma is.” • One frames the liberal Democrat insistence on “civility” almost instinctively as a “form of social domination,” but it would be nice to have some theory to back it up. Also, apparently Graeber hates post-modernism, a plus in my book!

“Economic Crisis? Not For Everyone” [HuffPo]. “Employment rates for low-wage workers are down 16% from where they were before the pandemic, but employment is down only 0.5% for those earning more than $60,000 a year, according to an analysis from Opportunity Insights, a team of economists and policy analysts based at Harvard University. HuffPost spoke with a handful of upper-income professionals about the inequality gap. Many said they felt a bit squeamish about their good fortune…. In March, when it looked like the U.S. was headed for a catastrophe we’d all feel equally, Congress passed a massive stimulus bill with wide support. Now, as it becomes clear that some groups are being hit much harder by the virus ― Black people dying at higher rates, low-wage workers facing higher unemployment ― the appetite to do more seems vastly reduced. Lawmakers haven’t been able to pass more stimulus, allowing expanded unemployment benefits and an eviction moratorium to expire. Ultimately, this could lead to an economic catastrophe everyone will actually feel.” • Squeamish….

“Unexpected victory in bagging area: Apple must pay shop workers for time they spend waiting to get frisked” [The Register]. “A three-judge panel in California has ruled [PDF] that Apple Store staffers should be paid for time spent waiting to undergo the iGiant’s bag checks. It’s the latest turn in a class action Apple has been battling for seven years, fending off retail workers that asked to be paid for up to 45 minutes spent at the end of their shift waiting to be searched.” • That’s ridiculous. Genius at the Bar, petty thief on your way out the door. Good job, Apple. (And why didn’t Tim Cook have the courage of his convictions and institute a cavity search?)

“White professor at George Washington University admits she lied about being Black” [CBS]. “A White history professor at George Washington University on Thursday admitted to falsely claiming a Black identity. Jessica A. Krug said in a Medium post that she is actually White and Jewish, but that she has ‘built her life on a violent anti-Black lie.’ Krug wrote that, throughout her adult life, she claimed to have North African, African American and Caribbean heritage. She called her actions the ‘very epitome of violence, of thievery and appropriation, of the myriad ways in which non-Black people continue to use and abuse Black identities and cultures.’ ‘For the better part of my adult life, every move I’ve made, every relationship I’ve formed, has been rooted in the napalm toxic soil of lies,’ wrote Krug, who is originally from the suburbs of Kansas City.” • Not clear to me why a declaration of racial identity is verboten while a declaration of gender identity is not. In any case, Krug was Person of the Day on the Twitter, never a good thing.

News of the Wired

“The Unfaithful Guy/Jealous Girlfriend Meme Couple Has an Entire Story on Shutterstock” [Did You Know?]. ” “This is another shining example of human creativity at its best, and it all started with the ‘jealous girlfriend’ stock photo that serves as the foundational image for what seems like a million memes.” This one:

I like it because it’s dialectical. But that seems not to be the subtext….

“Dawn of the topological age?” [Physics Today]. • Above my paygrade. I think this is about spooky action at a distance, but sciene at the threshold of engineering.

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

TH: “A little lens flare here, spotlighting the only plant with blooms in the whole bloomin’ desert.” And used to good effect!

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. notabanker

    Hey Lambert – Have a great long weekend! Something to toss on the grill and a some cold beverages are on me!

      1. cat’s paw

        hey, i haven’t read thru the comments to see if it’s been mentioned, but graeber passed away unexpectedly a couple days ago. you guys seemed to have not got the news yet.

        he’s off doing field studies in the sky.

    1. Arizona Slim

      If they’re anything like the birds that frequent the Arizona Slim Ranch, they’re guys who are trying to impress women.

      And, no, darkness doesn’t stop them. I’ve been rousted out of a sound sleep by male mourning doves and male white winged doves.

        1. Arizona Slim

          “Ooo-WOO-hoo-hoo-hoo!” That’s a mourning dove.

          Now, here’s a white-winged dove: “Hoo-hoo-hoo-HOO!”

            1. Ignacio

              This page gives a starter for bird identification through songs. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is one of my favourite sites for birdie info.

              There is a link to the Macaulay Library with more than 6.000 recorded songs.

          1. Off The Street

            Our pair of owls speak up, too. They complement the mourning dove sounds and offset the noise of those pesky crows. The red-tailed hawks don’t say much, but don’t need to since the other fowl suddenly quiet down. The juvenile hawk is sneaky, hopping along the swale to stir up those little rodents that would otherwise be hidden from view.

            Quite a delight to have so many feathered friends, supplemented by newer arrivals, three varieties of hummingbirds. Their wings sing for them :)

    2. rd

      Cornell University Ornithology Lab is a great source of info on birds, including bird songs. They also provide sources for getting them on your phone etc.

      FYI – the Northern Cardinal is interesting. The male and female stay together year round. The males sing more than the females (mainly to stake out territory during key periods) but the females have more complex songs. The birds are common in most northeastern suburbs because they love edge habitats (trees and shrubs next to open space) which many suburbs provide.

    3. Ignacio

      Go to this site. Explore by species, or much better explore by region/state/country, for instance Maine that lists nearly 500 avian species seen. Click on the species of interest, for instance Baeolophus bicolor (bicolor tit. I believe). There you have distributional map, seasonal sigth frequency, pictures and, if available, audios with the bird song.

  2. grayslady

    There is supposed to be an app for iPhone that identifies bird songs recorded in the wild. However, many users claim it doesn’t work (doesn’t surprise me–many of the bird visual id apps are useless for juveniles or for coloration during fall migration). Best way I know to id bird song is just to get outside and listen, and even then it’s not always easy. Robins, for example, have an amazing repertoire of songs, and their morning songs are distinctly different from their afternoon/evening songs.

  3. petal

    If anyone likes Take the Skinheads Bowling and wants to hear more, David Lowery will be doing a livestream performance on Sept 10th at 9pm(EST) to celebrate his 60th birthday.

      1. Eureka Springs

        I lived in the Haight and on occasion stumbled into Rockin’ Bowl as Camper originally played that song at the I Beam and such. Man it always put things in perspective and made me laugh. But I could get along with just about anyone. Skinheads were like New Yorkers, angry without eye contact. Mostly posers.

        1. ambrit

          Where I was, the skinheads and fellow travelers were all right. It was the rich kids who did the “we’re better than you dirty proles” routine to perfection who were insufferable.
          One of the big things we all noticed about “live entertainment” was that the interesting bands were available at the low end of the ticket price spectrum. The “name” bands were priced for the uppers and their concerts were mainly “social occasions.”

  4. Louis Fyne

    re: “Deep-Sea Mining”

    Note to whale lovers, terrestrial mining is not known to be a quiet, vibration-free affair.

    noise pollution from ships, submarines, sonar is a known negative for whales. Can’t imagine mining helps—it’s not like ore is just sitting whole on the ocean shelf waiting to be picked like grapes.

    1. zagonostra

      It is insanity. What if whales wanted to mine our atmosphere, would it be OK? No it is crazy and it underscores the hubris of our species.

    2. ObjectiveFunction

      I gather the biggest ticket item for subsea mining today isn’t nodules. It’s cobalt crusts that form on the surfaces of seamounts, deposited there over many millennia by ocean currents. The Japanese are already surveying and piloting projects in the Pacific, with the Chinese watching them closely.

      Sample link: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-02242-y

      But these crusts need to be hammered or blasted off, with ecological effects you can easily imagine. Seamounts are critical ecosystems in their own right, particularly for fish breeding (we barely know anything yet).

      Cobalt is, of course, the major bottleneck metal for the battery storage transformation that seems to be human civilization’s last chance before fossil fuels ring down the curtain on us. But as cobalt guru Jack Lifton has noted for years, barring a Tech Fairy breakthrough, there just isn’t enough cobalt to supply all our gizmos + robots + electrify vehicles AND ALSO time shift renewables to deliver baseload utility power.

  5. Samuel Conner

    > “Dawn of the topological age?” [Physics Today]…. I think this is about spooky action at a distance, but sciene at the threshold of engineering.

    Electron states with well-defined momenta are necessarily delocalized (think “Heisenberg uncertainty principle”); this is not related to the weird non-local behavior of correlated particles in EPR experiments of the kind made famous by Alain Aspect (if I’m interpreting your commentary rightly).

    The article is about unexpected features of some materials with well-defined electron band structures. I took and later TA’d a class in solid-state physics in the ’90s. It’s neat that there continue to be unexpected developments in this field. It looked pretty stodgy at the time, but maybe that was my ignorance.

    I got lost about halfway through, but a mention toward the end of higher-efficiency thermo-electric materials drew my attention. Materials that can convert temperature differentials into voltages can also convert imposed voltage differences into heat flows. It would be cool if it were possible to replace mechanical refrigeration with electrical refrigeration — fewer moving parts and no worries about working fluid release into the environment. I would expect such solid-state refrigeration units to also be a lot more durable.

    1. Bob Tetrault

      Peltier devices have a long history in heat/cold management. They are, however, not as efficient as Ye Olde Rankine Cycle refrigerator technology.

  6. Hepativore

    From what I understand, the majority of antivaxxers in the US are actually educated, wealthy, liberals who tend to be in upscale neighborhoods; I.e. Whole Foods shoppers, Karens and wine moms.

    Their vaccine-hesitancy stems from the fact that they think that vaccines are a secret plot by Big Pharma to give their little Lexus autism and cancer.

    Nationally, I think the largest rates of vaccine non-compliance are in “blue” wealthy suburbs in the Pacific Northwest.

    1. Yves Smith

      Yes, it turns out a major anti-vax evangelist was Laura Hayes, whose husband Rick Hayes was the head of PE at CalPERS before going into PE. Rich is one of the “you can count them on one hand and have fingers left over” people who jumped from a US public pension fund to PE. The fact that he was Stanford and Harvard (I forget in what order) meant he was overcredentialed for his CalPERS job, which helped.

      In fact, the reason he stayed at CalPERS as long as he did was the Sacramento public schools at the time had excellent programs for autistic children. One pf Laura’s and Rick’s children was severely autistic. Laura was apparently convinced it could not be their genes; it had to be an outside agent. She and Rick raised a ton of anti-vax money from Rick’s PE friends, who felt sorry for their situation.

      A friend whose wife is a major academic medical researcher/university prof had the Hayes for dinner. The MD/prof wife, who is a big believer in evidence-based medicine, was willing to consider the anti-vax theory and asked Laura for the basis for her views. As one witness to the dinner reported, “The wives nearly came to blows.”

      1. shinola

        “A friend whose wife is a major academic medical researcher/university prof had the Hayes for dinner.”

        Were they tasty?

      2. Ignacio

        My jaw has dropped to the ground. Because someone has an autistic son or daughter, turns to be antivaxxer just to find algo to blame. Having an Education does not work as a vaccine for such intentional ignorance.

        1. Yves Smith

          Yes, you have the picture right. And then did tons of damage by having a social network well suited to propagating what amounted to a psychological self-defense.

          1. Ignacio

            This also means they are not accepting their child as she/he is, suggests they are rejecting her/his personality and they are not understanding what autism really is. And they are ventilating their sense of blame and their inability to accept the facts against the rest of the world. This is quite sad. I understand now how antivax can mainly be more common in supposedly educated elites: they might be less tolerant to ‘mistakes’ like autism.

            (A question about gender, is it in English used she/her by default or is there a neutral adverb?)

            1. ambrit

              Many of us use “it” as the neutral form.
              To the best of my knowledge, English generally uses the Romance tongues convention of using the male gender as the default form.
              (Real grammarians please correct me if I err.)

            2. ambrit

              Short form: “it” is the neuter form.
              For example: “Madge waited tensely for it to decide on this weeks gender expression for the Hive Mind.”

            3. albrt

              There is no good gender neutral default in English, which is why you get awkward workarounds like “she/he,” “zhe,” “they,” “folks,” “y’all,” “y’inz,” etc.

              I’m not sure if Ambrit is joking, but “it” is usually considered insulting when applied to people.

              1. ambrit

                I may be exposing too much dirty laundry but, I see “it” used for general descriptions of uncertain or mixed gender as perfectly acceptable.
                At a remove, other people are not ‘intimates’ or ‘friends’ automatically. In that case, an impersonal description is acceptable.
                “It” is also acceptable when inanimate objects, or “lower orders” of lifeforms are the subject under discussion. ‘albrt’ might be reacting to the implied combination of human being and “lower” being. Such is insulting, but, in extremis, is so intended.
                The above falls prey to ambiguity. Language is more than, strictly, words. Tone, context and accent play parts in the overall communication.

                1. Yves Smith

                  I see “they” used even when the party is clearly singular. “When the user opens, the file, they will find…” is a very common formulation. I tend to use the old-fashioned “he” to connote either gender (which is the old-fashioned treatment) and offend the PC police.

                  1. ambrit

                    Ah. The descriptor moves ‘up’ from the particular object to the class of objects.
                    I also am from the cohort that learned English during the Late Patriarchal (Civilized) Stage. “He” is also one of my default ‘neutral’ descriptors.
                    I often set off PC landmines in conversation. I once responded to an attack on my Non-PC, (and so labeled by my interlocutor,) language by reminding it that humans had climbed up from mass poverty and suffering to the “Promised Land” of technological civilization using such non-PC language. I hoped that the other speaker would not see through the logical flaws in my argument, and was lucky to get away with it.
                    This is just another aspect of the ongoing socio-political wars.
                    Same as it ever was.
                    Enjoy the long weekend!

              2. William Phillips

                In science / philosophy we often use “one”, as in one does wonder why Latin grammar is the basis for English.

            4. ObjectiveFunction

              Rather than using an awkward looking (dehumanizing?) neuter form, a lot of writers (myself included) use a plural, even though it isn’t grammatically correct:

              e.g. “[the parents] are not accepting their child as they are….”

              I thank my Maker daily that I did not have to learn English as a second language!

              1. Ignacio

                Ha, Ha, Ha OK, now everything is clearer to me. English is quite dynamic and this makes it difficult as a second language.

                1. ambrit

                  I learned Spanish as a “second language” in my teens. Experts will say that it was too late by then for me to really ‘learn’ any foreign language well.
                  I can only lay this effect to the feet of the plasticity of the young brain. Is there a section of the pre-pubescent brain that specializes in language acquisition? Then, after pubescence, that section of the brain, if not already activated, withers back?
                  In such situations I fall back on the artificial distinction of “Language” as versus “Tongue.” One is learned, the other is absorbed.

                2. Basil Pesto

                  This also means they are not accepting their child as she/he is, suggests they are rejecting her/his personality and they are not understanding what autism really is.

                  Would, in my opinion, be best rendered* in English as:

                  This also means they are not accepting their child as they are, suggests they are rejecting their personality and they are not understanding what autism really is.

                  which can maybe be a bit confusing when the subject is plural as in the case of the parents, but I think the subject and object can often be discerned by context, including in this case.

                  *I was going to say ‘most commonly’ rendered, but I don’t know that for a fact, and I hesitate to say ‘most correctly’, because I tend to be against linguistic prescriptivism.

                  fyi, here’s an addendum for the entry for ‘they’ in my Merriam-Webster app. Note the age of the examples given from literature; It’s a quite long-established usage:

                  Can they, their, them, and themselves be used as singular pronouns?

                  They, their, them, themselves: English lacks a common-gender third person singular pronoun that can be used to refer to indefinite pronouns (such as everyone, anyone, someone). Writers and speakers have supplied this lack by using the plural pronouns.

                  and every one to rest themselves betake
                  — William Shakespeare
                  I would have everybody marry if they can do it properly
                  — Jane Austen
                  it is too hideous for anyone in their senses to buy
                  — W. H. Auden

                  The plural pronouns have also been put to use as pronouns of indefinite number to refer to singular nouns that stand for many persons.

                  ’tis meet that some more audience than a mother, since nature makes them partial, should o’erhear the speech
                  — William Shakespeare
                  a person can’t help their birth
                  — W. M. Thackeray
                  no man goes to battle to be killed. — But they do get killed
                  — G. B. Shaw

                  The use of they, their, them, and themselves as pronouns of indefinite gender and indefinite number is well established in speech and writing, even in literary and formal contexts. In recent years, these pronouns have also been adopted by individuals whose gender identity is nonbinary, as illustrated in sense 3d above.

                  William Phillips above also points out that we can use one in English as a subject pronoun, but it is typically used in a rather more general sense, rather than when referring to a specific person of indeterminate sex (which is no doubt why it must come up a lot in philosophy!) The analogue for this in French is the subject pronoun on**; I’m not sure about Spanish, but I assume it would have its own equivalent pronoun.

                  **[Shoddily] translating William Phillips’ example:

                  one does wonder why Latin grammar is the basis for English.


                  On se demande pour que la grammaire latin forme la fondation pour l’anglais.

      3. Annus Horribilis

        Autism and human embryo cranial physiology. Evolutionary pressure toward hypertrophy of the brain during development [as a predicate for outlying socio-economic success? Debatable] x evolutionary pressure favoring narrow skulls to pass through a narrow pelvis [relative to other large primates, an adaptation to bipedal locomotion across the savanna] during birth x evolutionary metabolic pressure for a squaring of the skull shape [as opposed to a spherical shape] to minimize surface area relative to volume to conserve heat loss in northern latitudes. – The skull container is restricting the goods during development and potentially damaging the cerebral surface, where the upper neurological functions depend on uniform density and distribution during gyrification [folding of the surface].

        Then take US ivy league’s as a genetic heterotopia for sexual assortment of hyper-intellectuals with slight bone structures that emphasize visual aesthetic height over width. Neurological pathology endemic to the upper echelons, the gut-punch of misplaced guilt, and the relentless cruelty of nature: one can see why blaming vaccines is so seductive. Silicon Valley witch-trials in the year of our lord 2020.

        1. ObjectiveFunction

          I know the Commentariat approaches all these gee whiz! Health and Science Fairy vaporware pieces with a suitably jaundiced eye. But given the joint problems that afflict most of us a little more each day, perhaps we can indulge a tiny bit of hopey changey just this once….


          “Microfracture results in what is called fibrocartilage, which is really more like scar tissue than natural cartilage,” said Chan. “It covers the bone and is better than nothing, but it doesn’t have the bounce and elasticity of natural cartilage, and it tends to degrade relatively quickly….”

          But what if the healing process after microfracture could be steered toward development of cartilage and away from fibrocartilage? The researchers knew that as bone develops, cells must first go through a cartilage stage before turning into bone. They had the idea that they might encourage the skeletal stem cells in the joint to start along a path toward becoming bone, but stop the process at the cartilage stage….

          …one advantage of their discovery is that the main components of a potential therapy are approved as safe and effective by the FDA.

          YMMV (as may your ‘access’ to care)

      4. The Rev Kev

        I have long noted a belief in social Darwinism in shall we say privileged classes. I do wonder if this may be spilling into a belief in superior genetics on their part as well. Epstein for one was planning on spreading his superior DNA through a ‘breeding ranch’. This may be a long bow being stretched here but what if this makes the birth of say an autistic child so intolerable as it would suggest that perhaps those genes are not so superior after all. Hmmphh. “Gattaca” wasn’t a movie. It was a blueprint.

        1. ambrit

          I have also noted that trend in “upper” ideology.
          The real problem with “managed genetics” is that the expression of individual human genes is not straightforward at all. Some beneficial genes also hold the potential of ‘turning’ away to the “dark side” if stimulated ‘differently’ than in the ‘normal’ way.
          Genetics is a primal source of Scientistic Hubris. As things like the Japanese mercury poisoning cases (Minamata disease,) and thalidomide show us quite clearly, Nemisis is not too far behind.
          Read: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minamata_disease
          All this takes on an added level of urgency when we consider just how many Class One Superfund sites there are in America alone.
          See: https://grist.org/article/this-interactive-map-shows-the-toxic-sites-near-you/
          (I am constantly being surprised by the high quality of the Grist “product.”)

    2. periol

      Don’t forget about the large cohort of evangelical Christians and conservative Catholics who are concerned about the use of aborted fetal tissue in vaccines.

      1. marym

        The cohort of people who don’t care what happens to fetal tissue if a pregnant woman contracts a disease preventable by vaccine.

        1. periol

          I’m really not sure what you’re saying.

          Regardless, they do make some vaccines without using fetal tissue from abortions.

          I am simply aware that there is a large group of Americans who are opposed to vaccines for reasons that are rarely mentioned in the MSM treatments of the issue.

          1. John Zelnicker

            September 4, 2020 at 5:29 pm

            “… they do make some vaccines without using fetal tissue from abortions.”

            With all due respect, your use of the present tense is a bit misleading.

            While you’re not wrong, the facts are a bit more complicated.

            The fetal cells lines being used were harvested in the 1960’s from legal abortions. These cell lines have been maintained for over 50 years without any additional fetal tissue being added.

            The Vatican has this to say:

            “…the cell lines currently used are very distant from the original abortions and no longer imply that bond of moral cooperation indispensable for an ethically negative evaluation of their use.”

            Now, I understand there are many religious folks who could care less about the Vatican and still have moral objections to those vaccines. However, the Catholic Church does have some of the strongest anti-abortion history and they think vaccination is more important. FWIW

            1. periol

              I understand, what you’re saying, but I don’t understand your issue with my use of the present tense. I am not expressing my opinion here, or even an opinion. They do make some vaccines without using fetal tissue that came from abortions. Some, not all. They did in the past, and they still do in the present day.

              I grew up in the evangelical community, so I still hear a great deal about their thoughts whether I want to or not. There are also a large number of conservative American Catholics who disagree vehemently with the Vatican on many things, including this. I just think there are lots of people in America who think this way but don’t say anything. Abortion is still a huge issue to them.

              I would only add that the Vatican encourages Catholics to push for vaccines that do not use fetal tissue.

              1. WobblyTelomeres

                The anti-abortion protestors (sidewalk counselors) are all over this issue. Pro-vaccine = Pro-choice = Satan.

    3. Scramjett

      Can we dispense with the idiotic “Karen” pejorative? My sister’s name is Karen and she is the polar opposite of the meaning of that pejorative. In fact, of all the Karen’s I’ve ever known, none of them really fit into that pejorative. But I guess saying “Karen” is easier (read: lazier) than saying “entitled, rich, spoiled white lady.” How about turning that into an acronym if you must go full Orwellian and “save words.”

      1. John Zelnicker

        September 4, 2020 at 4:47 pm

        Ok, Scramjett, I spent 15 minutes on your Orwell challenge and the best I can do (however pitiful) is LEWSR.

        That is, Lady: Entitled, White, Spoiled, Rich.

        Edit: My apologies for adding to the moderation burden.

    4. Scramjett

      Btw, my mini-rant on the Karen pejorative not withstanding, I do agree with the notion that the types of people you mention are at least a fairly large and vocal portion of the anti-vaxer movement.

    5. rd

      They don’t remember what it was like when these diseases were prowling their cities. So they think they have gone away, but in reality they are piggy-backing on herd immunity by all of the vaccinated people around them.

      So they get really surprised when their community drops below herd immunity level, somebody travels somewhere where the disease is still prevalent, brings it home and suddenly hundreds get sick. This has been happening in wealthy suburbs and religious communities (e.g. evangelicals and Ultra-Orthodox Jews). i believe Orange Co, CA and parts of NYC had some major measles outbreaks a few years ago. so their kids got immunity the hard way. Generally speaking, the adults were vaccinated decades ago but did not vaccinate their children, so it rips through the schools, especially highly infectious diseases like measles. Measles is so contagious that it requires 90%+ immunity to provide herd immunity, so it doesn’t take a lot of unvaccinated people to suddenly have it spread among all the unvaccinated people.

      They estimate Covid is somewhere between the flu (60% immune for herd immunity) and measles, which is where the target of 70-80% immunity to achieve herd immunity is coming from.

      1. ShamanicFallout

        Yes. I have good friend who is a travel medicine doctor here at a very prestigious hospital in Seattle. Pretty ‘liberal’ as you expect here, and very smart. When my daughter was born 7 years ago I had been hearing about vaccinations and autism (maybe this was around the time Yves was talking about up thread with the PE couple?). At any rate I asked him whether we should do the vaccinations for her and he looked at me like I was insane. He said, “Of course you should!”

        1. John

          I was born in the 1930s. As a child I had whooping cough, measles, mumps, chicken pox, and polio. There were no vaccines when I had each of those diseases. I wish there had been. I also have the scar from a small pox vaccination. None of this was unusual.

          1. Janie

            I had German measles, red measles and chicken pox. Polio epidemics were terrifying. Swimming pools closed, huge headlines daily announcing the latest tally, someone you knew in an iron lung. If you felt bad, you didnt dare tell your mother – she would panic.

    6. Off The Street

      I think that there is room for further discussion about vaccines, efficacy and safety in general, whether one may be pro, con or indifferent. That is more critical now in the wake of the 1986 legislation that enabled Big Pharma while letting them off the hook.

      Separate out the various cross-effects to allow review of the individual factors. Don’t muddle or inject emotion when more basic fact, replication and side-effect investigation and follow-up work may be done. Truth in formulating and prescribing, akin to truth in lending.

      Big Pharma Delenda Est

      1. furies

        Thank you for saying this.

        Vaccines are not safe for ‘everybody’ — we are not all carbon copies and there *are* genetic variations.

      2. Dan


        Yes. It’s amazing there’s not more nuance about vaccines from many of the regular, thoughtful NC commenters.

        I don’t fit neatly into either box. Smallpox and measles vaccines? Sure. Flu shot? No thank you. And they’re trying to make flu “vaccines” mandatory for schoolchildren here in NJ. Does this mean I have to join the religious folks because the “pro-vax” crowds won’t have me?

        Flu vaccine, incidentally, is 40-60 percent efficacy, and those numbers, given what we know about how these things (don’t) work, are probably high. Every year I meet people who got the flu shot who went on to get the flu.

        Further, the whole autism debate takes center stage over other issues. There are people who have very negative reactions to these vaccines. Their voices should be heard, not laughed at by an arrogant medical/scientific community that’s often every bit as biased and self-absorbed as it accuses them of being.

        1. nick

          Medical community is no doubt very well aware of heterogeneous reactions to vaccines and takes some bit of care to minimize the bad ones as they should. A lot of the discussion above is about religious/personal belief exceptions, and in that discussion I can’t see any reason why the voices of people who have physiological reasons for not taking vaccines are relevant at all.

      1. marym

        Didn’t listen to it, but here are some issues:

        ““This Order does not relieve any individual of any obligation to pay rent, make a housing payment, or comply with any other obligation that the individual may have under a tenancy, lease, or similar contract,” reads the notice published in the Federal Register today. “Nothing in this Order precludes the charging or collecting of fees, penalties, or interest as a result of the failure to pay rent or other housing payment on a timely basis, under the terms of any applicable contract.”

        In order to be protected from eviction, you must prove that you’re likely to become homeless if kicked out of your dwelling. However, you’ll still be required to pay as much rent as you can afford. You’re also required to provide a declaration form to your landlord stating you tried to obtain available government assistance for rent or housing, that you make under the required income thresholds, can’t currently afford your rent, and are at risk of homelessness if evicted.”


        1. JBird4049

          But the likelihood is that he will gain, not lose, votes in the November elections. The political class is looking only at the next three months because that is all they think will matter to them.

          It is a pity that this is probably not true this time for we all get to enjoy the folly of their reasoning. Such as it is.

        2. John k

          Still, that’s a place to stay until then, maybe another miraclehappens. What’s not to like for the renter? Who might well express their appreciation when they vote.
          I admit I think both parties will be ready to cut instead of spend in Jan.

  7. Billy

    Begs for a rewrite:
    “Kamala Harris said in a Medium post that she is actually White and Indian, but that she has ‘built her life on a violent anti-Black lie.’ Harris wrote that, throughout her adult life, she claimed to have African American and Caribbean heritage. She called her actions the ‘very epitome of violence, of thievery and appropriation, of the myriad ways in which non-Black people continue to use and abuse Black identities and cultures.’ ‘For the better part of my adult life, every move I’ve made, every relationship I’ve formed, has been rooted in the napalm toxic soil of lies and self-promotion.”

  8. Mark H

    “White professor at George Washington University admits she lied about being Black”
    Given the fact that there’s no scientific basis for “race” — it’s a made-up label — who cares? The concept of “race” is not grounded in genetics, anthropology, or any other branch of science. There’s zero doubt that 100% of this “white” professor’s ancestors’ ancestors came from Africa. It’s merely a matter of when they came from Africa that makes her ashamed to call herself “black.”

      1. Mark H

        She’s a history professor, but she doesn’t know the history of science, nor, apparently, do you. You don’t know that what we think of as “race” came in 1776 from Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, who defined five “races” of humans, including “Caucasians,” which no reputable geneticist or anthropologist believes in today. You say, “She isn’t black.” You’re using circular logic. You can’t define the term “black” because it’s nonsense. A racist ultimately is someone who believes the term “race” means anything. Let me help you out a bit here. Read this article, or any of the hundreds like it: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2018/04/race-genetics-science-africa/

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          But race being an artificial construction doesn’t make it something we don’t deal with. So its certainly wonderful of you to be counted among the “i don’t see color” crowd, but whether you like it or not, the effects of slavery and segregation are with us and very alive. Pretending that they aren’t is simple denialism. The U.S. has quite the history with racism. In case, you haven’t noticed recent history, Donald Trump is President.

          1. Mark H

            Of course I see “color,” but “color” isn’t “race.” Ethnicity isn’t “race.” “Race” is the idea that you can neatly fit you and me and every human in the world into one of five or so categories. It’s nonsense because it’s non-science. The sooner we don’t “acknowledge” this artificial divide called “race, the sooner we’ll see that everyone is the same “race.” It’s maintaining the fiction of “race” that causes racism.

            What “race” is Barack Obama? His mother was “white”; her ancestors for the last few thousand years lived in Northern Europe, although all of her ancestors came from Africa at most 50,000 years ago, just as yours and mine did.

            Jimi Hendrix, backstage with his “white” girlfriend in 1968, was confronted by a cop who was outraged that Jimi was with a “white’ woman. Jimi said, “It won’t matter in 500 years.” He was overly pessimistic. I think it’ll be more like 100 years. I’m 67, and I’ve seen a huge change in attitudes about ethnicity just in my lifetime. Most people under the age of, say, 30 today even in America don’t see “race” in the same way that I did when I was young, where ethnic background was a significant personal distinction. Most young people today don’t find that distinction significant or interesting. Why would they? There are many other distinctions that are far more significant and interesting.

    1. Ford Prefect

      Slavery and being classified as a black slave was largely an economic thing with African black origin as a convenient way of excusing it before Emancipation:

      “According to the 1662 Virginia slave law, children born to enslaved mothers were considered slaves under the principle of partus sequitur ventrem: the slave status of a child followed that of his or her mother. Elizabeth (“Betty”) and her children, including Sally Hemings, and all their children, were legally slaves, although the fathers were the white masters and the children were majority-white in ancestry.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sally_Hemings

      Sally Hemings is believed to be 75% white as her mother and grandmother had children by the white slave owners. Since it appears that Thomas Jefferson fathered Sally Hemings’ children, they were still black slaves even though they were 87.5% white. Their appearance was so white that a couple of the children were able to escape the plantation and live as white people in the northern US without people guessing that they were actually legally black.

      The Jim Crow era was able to perpetuate these ludicrous societal judgements for more than a century after the Civil War so that white people can actually pass themselves off as black. This would be unlikely to happen in Nigeria.

    2. pjay

      “Not clear to me why a declaration of racial identity is verboten while a declaration of gender identity is not.”

      The piece linked to here by Lambert is another very good discussion by Adolph Reed on the dilemmas of identity politics, in this case the contradictions of “trans for me, but not for thee.” Recommended.

      1. The Rev Kev

        If this keeps on happening, you will have a female professor claim a privileged position in an elite University through a claim of native American heritage. They might even contribute a recipe to a Native American cookbook and claim that they are Cherokee or something. Oh wait…

    3. VietnamVet

      The color of skin is dependent how close to the equator one’s ancestors lived. Melatonin darkens the skin and prevents skin burns and cancer. Black skin is selected on the equator. Nearer the North Pole with less sunlight, Vitamin D deficiency causes rickets. White skin is selected.

      Due to growing grains for food and learning to control flowing water, agricultural civilizations developed in the subtropics and temperate zones across the world. People moving towards the poles or up mountain ranges required food storage and overwintering shelter. Culture, technology and education were adapted to survive. Northern tribes moved south, became nations and later west and east conquering colonies until WWI.

      Skin color is a quick way to identify status and select out others to promote tribal identity and aggression. This has resulted in different cultural artifacts. Japanese women use umbrellas in bright sunshine to avoid tanning. Indians select by skin color who is suitable for mating in an arranged marriage. Separate drinking water fountains for whites and blacks in Birmingham, AL.

      Even today, the US Democratic Party uses tribal identity politics to try to get elected since they are unwilling to help Americans by funding a national public health system to control the coronavirus pandemic or provide jobs for the unemployed to avoid hunger and evictions in an economic depression. Thus, both US political parties to keep their current gravy train running, are ignoring the actual causes of the current unrest which is turning violent.

    4. Jonathan Holland Becnel


      Pseudoscience BS made up in the 1400s by the Catholics to persecute Jews and Non Catholics.


  9. Laura in So Cal

    ‘Sociodemographic Predictors of Vaccination Exemptions on the Basis of Personal Belief in California” In California, SB277 signed in 2015 abolished all exemptions except medical ones in California. After 2016, the # of medical exemptions started rising (predictable) so SB714 signed in 2019 now has a structure for submission and review of medical exemptions to Public Health and standardization of requirements to get a medical exemption. As an example, the doctor must certify that he did a complete physical exam, etc. People think that the rise of medical exemption was due to doctors being pressured and/or fraud. However, I think that at least some of the rise is due to the fact that if your kid had medical issues, you could just easily do the Personal belief exemption without having to get your doctor to sign. Now you go to the doctor to get the exemption if necessary.

    1. Laura in So Cal

      BTW, we got caught up in some of the “checkpoints” last year when the School District was computerizing all the vaccination records. I got a letter 3 days before school started saying that my son couldn’t attend school because the vaccination requirements weren’t met. I knew this wasn’t correct, so I trekked down to the school before work the next day with my son’s medical records. The school nurse and I went thru the computer record and found that whoever entered the records hadn’t checked the “had the chickenpox” box. My son wasn’t vaccinated for Chicken pox because he had a medically verified case of them when he was 2. I wasn’t the only one with an issue. I was 2nd in line at 7:00am, but there was a line out the door when I left.

  10. Laputan

    RE: White professor at George Washington University admits she lied about being Black

    Adolph Reed nails it again (or should I say nailed it since the article was from over 5 years ago?). I’ve never understood the notion that gender is a spectrum but race is categorical. It seems particularly ridiculous when you go outside of the country and see that racial constructs don’t really transfer. That “whiteness” means something different in Latin America, for instance, than it does here. But critical race theory doesn’t seem at all concerned with the fluidity of those notions since that would perhaps contradict their basic assumptions

    1. jr

      I’ve worked with a number of Latin American’s in various kitchens and many of them identify as white, irregardless of skin tone. Well, upon reflection the darkest skin tones don’t make that claim but a multi hued spectrum of other tones are considered white, at least by their wearers. I worked with a bar manager from Puerto Rico, blond and fair, who got sick and tired of explaining to people what they should know by now.

      I once had a conversation with an indigenous Ecuadoran about how white people like him and I have to watch out for black people This was directed towards the jovial beer delivery guy, Mike. When I told him my Sicilian ancestry invalidated me as a white person for some white people, he was stunned.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      “But critical race theory doesn’t seem at all concerned with the fluidity of those notions since that would perhaps contradict their basic assumptions”

      And perhaps break their basic rice bowls.

      1. Jessica

        Only an ahistorical, rigid concept of race and racism can avoid discussing class, in particular the class cleansing of the prosperous, unionized US working class over the past 4 decades.

    3. Basil Pesto

      Always been bemused that the ‘jewish’ racial category has now been subsumed into the ‘white’ racial category (unless you’re ethiopian or mizrahi jewish, ie obviously non-white skin colour). If only someone had got the memo to Hitler, “hey, it’s okay, turns out we’re white after all just like you!”

      It’s all just so vapid and tedious.

  11. NotTimothyGeithner

    Not clear to me why a declaration of racial identity is verboten while a declaration of gender identity is not.

    In short, gender and orientation are biological realities, and race is a construct determined for us by the powers that be. How can Christians and Muslims have slaves? They need to reduce the humanity of a person. Hence, the professor from George Washington was taking advantage of programs designed to assist the primary victims of structural racism while not enduring the structural racism themselves.

    I mean there are complaints about men competing as women (but lets be honest, life was probably wasn’t too great for those men to get to that point), but a man named Lauren who goes by a more masculine associated name today isn’t probably going to be stopped from taking a spot designated for a woman for obvious reasons.

  12. L

    “Democrats Worry Joe Biden Is Taking Latino Voters for Granted”

    Coupled with that I’d say that wealthy expat Venezuelans, first-, second-, and third-generation Cubans are not recent arrivals working meatpacking in the southeast. Nor still are they Puerto Ricans who have experienced all the love of Bipartisan Austerity in the form of PROMESA, long before Trump threw paper products at them and sniped on their mayor. DC Statehood got a bill through the house. Puerto Rico got a promise of a convention to develop options.

  13. L

    On school district funding I can say as a parent, this has only made me more determined to support public schools, not less. This may be due to my locale as much as anything. The school has handled it as well as they can but if anything this has highlighted just how much the district has been screwed over by the charter movement. At the same time the well-publicized failure of local charters to deal with it (the ones who opened became clusters, the ones who didn’t took extra money and delivered less than we are getting from our real public school) hasn’t made them look like a good option and I don’t have the time or the money to build my own pod.

  14. bassmule

    “A campaign must answer a simple question: what do you hope to do for us?”

    He’s not Trump. It’s enough. Let us stipulate every Biden shortcoming, and do what needs doing. Better still, let’s find out what Democrats will or won’t do when they have the Presidency and both Houses. No more hiding behind mean Republicans!

    1. urblintz

      I am rather secure in my knowledge of “what Democrats will or won’t do when they have the Presidency” and “not Trump” is decidedly not enough. It portends the familiar kayfabe that undermines the lives of those who believe it. Look over there – Russians!… but don’t you dare call us out for our near unanimous votes on 1.7 trillion dollars to the Pentagon (more than Trump even asked for), don’t mention the election fraud which we won’t do anything about, don’t question our dependency on the oligarchy that supports us as long as our legislation (which they write for us) fills their coffers, don’t even imagine that we can afford M4A because affordability isn’t really the issue, don’t ever mention class because it’s all about race, don’t reproach Nancy Pelosi because she’s a woman, don’t besmirch the rights we gained for gays to kill and be killed in our wars of choice and aggression and definitely don’t pay attention to those wars once we’ve started them, Obama (who had the presidency and both houses) was a god, doncha know(?) so hands off and you better believe that everything we do is “for the people” because if you don’t we’ll crush your protests… Clinton’s crime bill, welfare “reform” Bidens bakruptcy “reform” the ACA ALL for YOU (credulous fools) and you need to shut up and agree or you are Putin’s puppet, a Trump enabler, just pure evil.

      It’s a long and devastating list of deliberate treachery hiding behind Madison avenued propaganda and false promise. Selling, on hope and change, the right to abuse you. Indeed, it’s a cult no different than Scientology.

      You can vote for that. I can’t and won’t.

      1. pjay

        I can relate to your comment. I’ve been criticizing Republicans and right-wingers my entire adult life. But in recent years many friends and acquaintances cannot understand why most of my vitriol is reserved for Democrats and “liberals.” I tell them it’s about betrayal — of their claim to represent “the people.” But if I’m honest, I’m also irritated at myself for believing that there was a slight possibility of “reform” for too many years.

      2. Andrew Thomas

        Biden may well take office and say, “oh, look at that pesky deficit”, and people on Social Security will get screwed. If Trump is still president, we are 100% under the bus. Finished. Kaput. Apple Annies and Andys with no health care. You may think that’s a superstition, but I KNOW THAT FICA FUNDS THE DAMNED PROGRAM. That, my friend, is a HUGE difference.

    2. no one

      Wow! I think we KNOW what the Dems will do with a large majority in both Houses, a crisis, and the winner of more votes than any American in history: Obama-Biden’s first two years in office. What they did was bail out the rich and twiddle their thumbs (rather than ending the filibuster) until the Republicans came charging back in 2010, when the Dems could blame their conduct on implacable opposition. Am I wrong to think that past performance is a predictor of future behaviour?

    3. Jessica

      The Democrats had the presidency and both houses in 2009 to 2010. We know what they will do and what they won’t.
      And Biden was vice-president during that period.

      1. Basil Pesto

        I guess the difference is that the president then had a cult of personality that deflected criticism from those that should know. That wouldn’t be the case with Biden.

    4. lambert strether

      Yes, many are well-aware that Biden is not Trump, but thanks for your clarification. Some are concerned that when the Restoration* happens, and the Obama Alumni Association fails to deliver again, the next Trump will be competent.

      “Fundamentally, nothing will change.” —Joe Biden, to big donors

      * Redemption?

  15. Oji

    If I assert my identity as an “Extra-terrestrial,” will humans provide a spacecraft capable of spiriting me away from this madhouse of a planet?

    Help me Ob-elon, you’re my only hope.

    1. flora

      There were some links a couple days ago about 2 airline pilots reporting in 2 separate instances that a guy in a jet pack appeared 300 yards off their wings at altitude as they were making a landing approach. Was that Elon? “Ground control to Major Musk”. /heh

  16. flora

    re:UPDATE “Economic Insecurity Brought on by Covid-19 Threatens to Disenfranchise Millions of Voters”

    The Dem House is on vacation and doing, essentially, nothing to address this. Meanwhile, T has declared a moratorium on evictions. Not quite sure how it works or if the states will engage, but at least he’s doing something. (As a reg. Dem, I think the Dem estab leaving the field of action to T during this pandemic is infuriating. )

    1. notabanker

      Their billionaire constituents are all good, increasing their wealth more than ever. Votes don’t matter, voting machines do. Check. What’s left to work on?

  17. John k

    Biden eyes trillion dollar stimulus in Jan…
    I doubt it, his campaign manager told I think wsj that the cupboard is bare. Trump moratorium on evictions helps and will get votes, but ends in Jan, plus it doesn’t require any gov spending.
    IMO neither party, certainly not pay go Pelosi, wants more support for workers… donors understood about the election coming, but that excuse ends early nov, and they can’t see wasting any more of their ill gotten money on such.
    I’d almost bet the current impass was kabuki theatre.

  18. The Rev Kev

    “Ad Watch: Ad against Susan Collins on Big Pharma blows up small parts of her record”

    I have been a newshound for a very long time now. In going through news articles I often come across Susan Collin’s name but it has never, ever been in a good way.

  19. allan

    Non-negotiable: all military members will be subject to Trump’s payroll tax deferral [Federal News Network]

    All active-duty military members as well as federal civilian employees will be subject to the president’s upcoming payroll tax deferral, a senior administration official told Federal News Network Friday evening.

    The president’s payroll tax deferral, which the administration said all payroll providers will launch in unison later this month, has left federal employees, their unions and members of Congress scrambling this week for more details about the policy and its impact on the workforce. …

    Another major win for the back row kids.

    Come for the stimulus, stay for the indebtedness at tax time next year.

    1. lambert strether

      I’m sure that if the House passes a bill in 2021 forgiving the debt, whoever is President will sign it. Ditto rents. This really is not hard

      1. allan

        Just like the extra $600/week in the CARES Act (and now the $300/wk from the hijacked FEMA funds)
        was tax free … oh, wait …

        Bookmarked. Let’s see where things stand in the spring. If anything is standing.

  20. richard

    I have a question about that article on “the left” blowing “school reopening”
    (didn’t realize we were in charge until just this minute; S*&%!)
    what does the writer mean by frustrated parents putting their “money behind efforts toward getting more needy students out”?
    it seems very non-sequitarish to me

    1. Tom Doak

      Wealthy liberals sometimes try to atone for taking their own kids out of public schools by putting up some money to fund a few “needy, deserving” students getting to go to the same school their kids do. If they support the “deserving ” kids than it’s okay to bail on the rest.

      I visited South Africa in 1992, just before the end of white rule, and listening to their justifications for how they had ruled was very instructive. In their view, the 10% whites could not possibly afford to give a good education to ALL the children, so they gave it to their kids and some small sampling of the other 90%. Makes it much easier for me to understand the PMC view in the USA today.

  21. polecat

    They have the ‘better’ brains, afterall …

    Someday, they may have the last laugh, as we devolving hominids are forced back down into the mud and slime from whence we came .. while They, the Cetaceans .. finally decide that it’s safe and firm enough to retrofit some appendages, build up the pects and such,
    .. finally developed hard technologies, in the endeavor to rule Terra THEIR way … whatever the pitfalls.

    Life Does seem to find a way, even if it eventually screws up!

    Think about it – Cetaceans with ( pick yer MWD .. tusks, sinusoidal-high-velocity-hydraulically induced aqueous emission surges, sticky ambergis projectiles, pyro-chimney vector-directed water-cauldron blasts …. with the occasion lava-tube engineered to be redirected as per .. as they take that last step, and stand upon that top-most ladder ..
    They could eventually be proceeded by those proto-bipedal racoon-like creatures that bear small, extremely tactile hands … evolving from such as those that like to make off with my annual grape harvest.Just imagine what they could do with blubber!

    But I ‘digress’ ..

  22. Tom Stone

    If “Nothing will fundamentally Change” doesn’t fire up the troops perhaps the Biden campaign could try “Jill has wonderful taste in drapes”.
    Something those suburban Republican women can identify with!

  23. David in Santa Cruz

    Am I the only one concerned that the Five Eyes Alliance means that each of its members is half blind?

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