Links 9/16/2020

Scientists baffled by orcas ramming sailing boats near Spain and Portugal Guardian

Oil Demand Has Collapsed, And It Won’t Come Back Any Time Soon NPR

Business Roundtable to endorse market-based climate policy Politico

Study suggests financial holdings influenced key votes for house lawmakers Phys.org (RM).

Shock and sorrow as Canada’s biggest co-op sold to US private equity firm Guardian (IM). IM: “Canadians who were born in the 70s grew up with MEC; I always had an MEC backpack for school, bought my winter jackets there, and when I spent serious time in the mountains in the 1990s, I couldn’t wait to make trips to the store in Calgary to gear up. There really was a co-op spirit that reflected the organization’s collectivist, hippie west coast / prairie roots. Many meaningful trips in the wilderness happened with MEC gear. Now it’s…in the hands of private equity.”

Warren Buffett’s BNSF Railway Names Kathryn Farmer First Female CEO Of Major Railroad Forbes. BNSF moves a lot of coal, and a lot of containers. So a woman is holding the bag…

Microsoft pulls underwater data center back to the surface to assess benefits of deep-sea cloud GeekWire

Wildfires

West Coast wildfires are ravaging communities. Here’s how to help victims and first responders USA Today

Wildfire dispatch from an Oregon farm The Counter

DIY on smoke filtering (dk). Thread:

#COVID19

Community and Close Contact Exposures Associated with COVID-19 Among Symptomatic Adults ≥18 Years in 11 Outpatient Health Care Facilities — United States, July 2020 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. From the discussion: “Exposures and activities where mask use and social distancing are difficult to maintain, including going to locations that offer on-site eating and drinking, might be important risk factors for SARS-CoV-2 infection.” Handy chart:

This is interesting, but these are also aggregates, and the virus is highly capricious. For example, I would bet exposure varies by church denomination and worship style (shouting, singing). “Shopping” is also a category that’s far too broad: Air circulation patterns will differ between and within malls and small shops.

‘Trained Immunity’ Offers Hope in Fight Against Coronavirus Quanta. And from that article–

Effectiveness of booster BCG vaccination in preventing Covid-19 infection (preprint) medRxiv. From the abstract: “Our findings demonstrated the potential effectiveness of the booster BCG vaccine, specifically the booster in preventing Covid-19 infections in an elevated-risk healthcare population.” Controversy here, however.

COVID-19 herd immunity: where are we? Nature. From the discussion: “With flu pandemics, herd immunity is usually attained after two to three epidemic waves, each interrupted by the typical seasonality of influenza virus and more rarely by interventions, with the help of cross-protection through immunity to previously encountered influenza viruses, and vaccines when available10. For COVID-19, which has an estimated infection fatality ratio of 0.3–1.3%1,5, the cost of reaching herd immunity through natural infection would be very high, especially in the absence of improved patient management and without optimal shielding of individuals at risk of severe complications. Assuming an optimistic herd immunity threshold of 50%, for countries such as France and the USA, this would translate into 100,000–450,000 and 500,000–2,100,000 deaths, respectively. Men, older individuals and those with comorbidities are disproportionally affected, with infection fatality ratios of 3.3% for those older than 60 years and increased mortality in individuals with diabetes, cardiac disease, chronic respiratory disease or obesity. The expected impact would be substantially smaller in younger populations.”

High potency of a bivalent human VH domain in SARS-CoV-2 animal models (preproof; PDF) Cell. From the abstract: “It potently neutralized mouse adapted SARSCoV-2 in wild type mice at a dose as low as 2 mg/kg and exhibited high prophylactic and therapeutic efficacy in a hamster model of SARS-CoV-2 infection, possibly enhanced by its relatively small size… The potent neutralization activity of VMH-Fc ab8 combined with good developability properties and cross-reactivity to SARS-CoV-2 mutants provide a strong rationale for its evaluation as a COVID-19 therapeutic.” This really does look like a novel approach (here is the English version), although let us remember the First Law of Animal Studies: “Monkeys exaggerate and mice lie.”

Man ‘uses snake as a face mask’ on bus Yahoo News (Re Silc).

How COVID-19 Has Affected One Mexican Pueblo Commonweal

Russian excess deaths over summer outstrip COVID toll by more than 3 to 1 Reuters

China?

China’s great power play puts Asia on edge FT

Chinese Communist Party Wants Stronger Role in Private Sector Bloomberg

Felix Chung: Issue bonds to fund Lantau project RTHK. I’m told this is an enormous boondoggle.

Baidu Apollo head says technical issues and high costs likely to delay full roll-out of robotaxis until 2025 South China Morning Post

Suga takes the reins as Japan’s new prime minister, replacing Abe Japan Times

Japan’s exports extend double-digit declines as pandemic hits demand Reuters

UK/EU

The Great British Humbling The Atlantic

Bandits Target Nigeria’s Farmers and Threaten Food Security Bloomberg

Syraqistan

Israel signs deal establishing formal ties with two Arab states at the White House WaPo. And it’s not even October!

New Cold War

Navalny’s Poisoning Is the Act of a Sickly Regime Tatiana Stanovaya, Carnegie Moscow Center

Trump Transition

Economists warn of US ‘wasteland’ without stimulus deal FT

Emails Show the Meatpacking Industry Drafted an Executive Order to Keep Plants Open ProPublica

Lawmakers Mull Whether Depression-Era Laws Could Break Up Big Tech Gizmodo. From late August, still germane.

2020

QAnon site shutters after reports identifying developer The Hill. For a world-girdling conspiracy theory that’s shaping up to be our next moral panic, this Jason Gelinas dude is making $3,000 a month on Patreon? That’s enough to keep him in granite counter-tops, but hardly f*ck you money for somebody who works on Wall Street, even if only in IT. Gelinas looks like an opportunistic arriviste to me. I’m still waiting for our famously free press to find out who (or what) the original Q was. Isn’t that the story here?

Whistleblower Says Facebook Ignored Global Political Manipulation Buzzfeed

Realignment and Legitimacy

Sudden efforesence on this topic:

We need to reclaim populism from the right. It has a long, proud leftwing history Thomas Frank, Guardian

Conservatives Should Ensure Workers a Seat at the Table American Compass. Since liberal Democrats don’t want to….

Red and Blue America took different roads. Here’s how to bring them together Jeffrey Sachs, CNN

A Political Philosopher on Why Democrats Should Think Differently About Merit The New Yorker

America is a Tale of Fractured Economic Realities and That’s Stopping Us From Fixing this Crisis Time

How the Death of Faith Will Hurt the Left Murtaza Hussain, Wisdom of Crowds

Guns or Butter: How the Public Judges Its Leaders in an Authoritarian Regime NYU Jordan Center

The New Economy:

Waiting for technicals, here, where they put the guns on the truck, Mad Max-style.

Health Care

Who Pays for Covid-19 Medical Care? That Depends on How (or if) You Are Insured WSJ. The deck: “Pandemic has put a spotlight on the vast differences in affordability of health care across the country.”

Promoting Equitable Access To COVID-19 Vaccines—The Role Of Medicaid Health Affairs

Our Famously Free Press

U.S. commander: Intel still hasn’t established Russia paid Taliban ‘bounties’ to kill U.S. troops NBC. I don’t understand this at all. When the Times broke the story, they sourced it to “American intelligence officials.” What could have gone wrong?

Assange

Your Man in the Public Gallery: Assange Hearing Day 10 Craig Murray. A must-read.

Police State Watch

Government corruption and negligence drive most wrongful convictions, report finds NBC

City of Louisville reaches $12 million settlement with Breonna Taylor’s family NBC. Criminal charges still hanging fire.

Column: We don’t know much about the ambush of 2 L.A. County deputies. But we have scapegoats Los Angeles Times

Boeing

Boeing hid design flaws in Max jets from pilots and regulators FT. For more on Boeing’s more recent woes, see here at NC.

For Poor Countries, Gains in Education Are Not Matched in Income Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis (UserFriendly).

Class Warfare

Mom lied about residence to get TennCare benefits for her 3 kids, officials say FOX17. Faces up to 27 years in prison.

Stripe will pay workers $20,000 to move — then cut their pay Los Angeles Times

World missing all targets to save nature, UN warns France24

Sydney’s New Suburbs Are Too Hot for People to Live In Bloomberg

New Climate Maps Show a Transformed United States Pro Publica (Re Silc). “Today, the combination of truly dangerous heat and humidity [“wet bulb”] is rare. But by 2050, parts of the Midwest and Louisiana could see conditions that make it difficult for the human body to cool itself for nearly one out of every 20 days in the year. New projections for farm productivity also suggest that growing food will become difficult across large parts of the country, including the heart of the High Plains’ $35 billion agriculture industry.” Handy map:

Interesting how the Missisippi River basin transforms to a weakness from a continental strength (though I wonder how river restoration would affect humidity; I’d guess favorably). So, coastal elites doing pretty well on their project to turn flyover into a teardown! Kidding. Partly. Pretty well, except for ocean rise, of course. I wonder how long before the Irvings start selling off the Unorganized Territories in Maine to, well, gentrifiers….

New ‘Solar Cycle’ Has Begun, NASA Says Independent (KW).

Antidote du jour (Timotheus):

Timotheus: “Monarchs at Mentor Marsh (Ohio), near Lake Erie.”

Bonus antidote:

Sid! Sid! Sid! Sid!

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here

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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.

203 comments

  1. fresno dan

    https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/texas-police-officer-shoots-woman-death-inside-her-home-n1065451

    This was in the Breonna linked article – and I had not heard of it, and I am quite attuned to news about police shootings. There will have to be a acronym like DWB (driving while black) for a law abiding black person being shot while in their own house. RWB (residing while black?), DWB (dwelling while black?)
    It makes me wonder how many black people have been shot by police inside there own homes.

    Reply
    1. Howard

      Most police killings are treated as local news (if they make it into the news at all), and so they don’t make it into national consciousness. I think that protests make the difference. Because I live in Texas, I was aware of this killing, but as I recall, there were no street protests.

      Reply
    2. Katniss Everdeen

      I get that Breonna Taylor is black, and carpetbagging on the blm Trump-has-turned-america-uber-racist theme makes for sensational knee-jerk headlines; campaign mudslinging; and quick, multi-million dollar settlements, but the real issue here is allowing cops to crash into people’s homes–people of ANY color–with bullshit no-knock warrants.

      It could be argued that Breonna Taylor would be alive today if that issue had been addressed, say, six years ago when cops with a no-knock warrant threw a flash bang grenade into a baby’s crib after they broke down the family’s door to arrest a suspect for–you guessed it–drugs, and it blew up in his face.

      “The door was locked, so they breached it with a ram, inserted a device,” Terrell said. “It was dark, they couldn’t see.”

      https://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/05/baby-in-coma-after-police-grenade-dropped-in-crib-during-drug-raid

      But that was way back in 2014 when the militarizer-in-chief wasn’t a white political interloper, and every cop-involved death wasn’t “racist.”

      As far as I’m concerned, racializing this issue obscures the real one–cops should stay the hell out of people’s houses unless someone lets them in. End of story. If you “need” to arrest someone who’s in there, wait outside until s/he comes out. Otherwise, back the eff off.

      PS. In the above story, the guy wasn’t in the house either. They burned the baby’s face off for a big show of macho nothing. No-knock warrants still exist because nobody gave enough of a shit, and $12 million of somebody else’s money is a small price to pay for maintaining the privilege of busting down doors whenever and wherever you feel like it.

      Reply
      1. fresno dan

        Katniss Everdeen
        September 16, 2020 at 10:43 am

        I tend to agree with you about racializing the issue – cops kill any race with impunity and that SI THE ISSUE.
        OTH, we have had decades of equal opportunity ignoring of police misconduct. under dems and repubs, white and our 1 black president, as well as at the vast majority of local government. If it takes racializing it to get ANY attention to police misconduct, so be it.
        It says something about the intellectual quality of our media* that the fact that more white people (not proportionately) are killed by police is never even mentioned. Why??? I would posit for the same reason white poverty is verboten.
        Or the fact that the number of civilians in foreign countries killed by police is a fraction of the number in the US.
        As long as billionaires aren’t being shot, (or their income diminished) its all good….

        And I also agree with the taxpayers paying for police and JUDICIAL misconduct. So many judges, so many rubber stamps. Until the WRONGDOERS (i.e., the police and incompetent, lazy, or corrupt judges) are punished individually and their superiors, this continues. Decades of experience shows very little evidence that civil penalties substantively changes police conduct.

        * and by media, I mean not only news media, but TV and Hollywood. The propaganda that any police misconduct is rare and due to one bad apple, instead of being the outcome of designed policies.

        Reply
        1. Aumua

          Can police thugs killing with impunity and also them disproportionately killing people of color both be THE ISSUE? I’d like to think so.

          Reply
      2. ArcadiaMommy

        Someone else’s money… I do wonder why police officers are not required to carry some sort of professional liability insurance. My husband (attorney) carries PLI for his practice and also for his board positions. And it isn’t cheap and you have to detail many things about how you conduct your business, including prior claims and incidents. Hmm…

        Reply
        1. Procopius

          I recall an article a couple of months ago that pointed out large cities, like New York and Chicago, carry insurance that covers both the city and individual policemen, in case they are not protected by limited immunity. I wonder if Louisville is? Anyway, the point of the article was that for smaller cities, where the annual premiums are a serious burden, the insurance companies sometimes bring about real police reforms as ways to reduce their risk and so reduce the premiums. Of course that doesn’t work with bigger cities, because if they weren’t spending the money on settlements and/or insurance, they might have to use it to actually provide municipal services.

          Reply
  2. Olga

    A view on Lebanon’s situation from one of the clearest commentators:
    https://consortiumnews.com/2020/09/13/the-angry-arab-the-franco-american-designs-on-lebanon/
    “The U.S. has been using the same tired strategy against Lebanon: Washington didn’t create corruption and sectarianism, but it has sponsored and supported the bulk of the sectarian and corrupt ruling class in Lebanon. And when those corrupt politicians have faced public demands for prosecution, the U.S. has shielded them.”

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      Same old, same old. The US wants Hezbollah out of Lebanon which is as realistic as demanding that Catholics get out of America. Recently the US tried to get the mandate for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFL) changed so that it could militarily go after Hezbollah in southern Lebanon but instead it was agreed to reduce the number of UN troops so no win there. In any case, those UN troops know from history that they are far more likely to be killed or wounded by Israeli actions than Hezbollah ones.

      The aim remains the same. To get Hezbollah to totally disarm like was demanded of the IRA. But the Lebanese are not stupid and they know that the day after that happened, Israel would once more invade Lebanon and occupy the southern half once again. I bet they still remember what happened to Gaddafi after he gave away his defensive advantage. And it is not like the Lebanese think that the Saudis and the other Gulf countries will have their back. Those countries regard the Syrians and Lebanese like mudbloods so no joy there. Hard times still for Lebanon.

      Reply
        1. km

          The irony is that Trump is unblackmailable. Even pu$$ygate didn’t affect him or his standings much, because everyone knows, that’s just how Trump rolls.

          Pity Putin didn’t control the man.

          Reply
            1. Oh

              The orange wig can only cover so much. A hair stylist I used to know was a staunch Trumpie and she also made wigs for woman losing their hair due to Chemo. She insisted that Trump was wearing a wig. She said “Notice how his hair always looks the same”.

              Reply
  3. jackiebass

    The article about Medicaid misses an important reality.The connected and powerful will be at the front of the line.Even ahead of health care workers. The general population will probably be 2 years behind.
    A market based climate policy will be a continuation of present failed policies. We hear a lot about markets but in todays world markets become dominated by a few with the most money. Competition that is relatively small are bought up by the big guys which consolidates a market. It’s the reality we live with today and probably in the future. Government will do nothing because they big guys bankroll politicians.
    Not enough people are following the Assange hearings. This is an attack on our freedom of speech and a step closer to fascism.

    Reply
    1. diptherio

      I’m beginning to be of the opinion that we’re already living in a fascist state, but like the future, the fascism is just unevenly distributed. Thousands of reports every year of child sexual assault by our border patrol, forced sterilizations of women in immigrant detainment camps, “law enforcement” authorities encouraging right-wing militias to harass protesters (or worse)…the list just goes on and on. Most of us commenting here are avoiding it, so far, but I think for some non-negligible portion of our population, the current situation and one under an explicitly fascist system are not recognizably different.

      Reply
      1. Phacops

        Well, with our corporatic media, markets uber alles, and elections being the dog and pony shows that we used to accuse totalitarian states of running, I would rather think that we are now into the realm of inverted totalitarianism.

        Reply
  4. Olga

    At least Indians and Chinese are settling the border dispute amicably, sort of:
    https://asiatimes.com/2020/09/an-india-china-reset-is-still-possible/

    “The Indian narrative is divorced from realities. The nation is bogged down in a raging epidemic and a deepening economic crisis. A vaccine to contain the Covid-19 pandemic will not be available in the market before the second half of next year. Meanwhile, the epidemic will remain as the “new normal.” A war with China would set back the country’s development by a decade. It is unthinkable.
    Suffice to say, Jaishankar was given a weak hand to negotiate. And he has made a good job of it. The biggest gain is that a war has been averted and a new phase of constructive engagement with China, with a sense of realism, becomes possible. This is a moment of truth to rethink the entire foreign-policy trajectory the Indian government has followed in recent years.”

    Reply
    1. L

      I’m not sure that “rethinking” the foreign policy trajectory would mean peace. In fact Modi made smoothing ties with the PRC and the supposed “Wuhan Consensus” a major part of his foreign policy which allowed them to become big trading partners. Now that the PRC chose this moment to make serious attacks different voices are being elevated:

      https://thediplomat.com/2020/09/indian-defense-minister-blames-china-for-ongoing-crisis-suggesting-indias-military-option-remains-open/

      India is quite vulnerable along their northern border, as are the border states of Bhutan and Nepal both of whom have come under increasing pressure from the PRC. There is little reason to believe the current discussions (which have been paralleled by the construction of new fortifications and seizure of new ground by both sides) will lead to interest in peace.

      https://thediplomat.com/2020/07/chinas-bhutan-gambit/

      Reply
      1. Olga

        Methinks The Diplomat repeats certain propagandist conventional opinions, while Mr. Bhadrakumar, a former Indian diplomat, has a more long-term view and one that understands a war would serve no one (except, of course, that a certain power would fight China to the last Indian).

        Reply
        1. L

          Lets be clear you cited a piece that specifically said India “should” be engaging to settle peacefully and citing the joint statements made and from that and stated that they were avoiding war. I pointed out recent statements and activites that show that the view is not universally shared and that other flashpoints exist. That is hardly propaganda. The fact is that whatever other powers want India, the PRC, and Pakistan have a long and complex border including land claimed by India that Pakistan “ceeded” to the PRC, and new land claims by the PRC against other neighboring countries that are very much about strategic advantage through salami slicing.

          Whether or not they should avoid war, and certainly all-out war is unwise, the fact is that the engagements and salami slicing go on and they have led to India and China pulling back from the prior diplomatic consensus that they had achieved. Even if they cool this down now the embarrassment to Modi will likely be remembered.

          You may talk about “a certain power” all you want but it is the PRC and now India who have moved across the LAC.

          Reply
          1. Oh

            I think the Indians will fight to defend thier positions if attacked by China and will not give up. They would feel that development is second to survival.

            Reply
      2. km

        I doubt China has the logistical capabilities to drive far into India, and India certainly doesn’t have the logistics to support a sustained war across the Himalayas.

        Reply
        1. L

          If you read closely in the articles this, particularly China’s shift across the LAC, seems to be part of an attempt to build up that logistics. The tensions last summer were about building roads up to the LAC and forward depots, and the proffered land swap deal with Bhutan (which of course is predicated on the PRC’s novel claim that Bhutan was historically part of China) is about the same thing.

          Whether this is a hot war now the fact is that the jockeying is about preparing for one, not pulling back from it.

          Reply
  5. John A

    Re: Navalny’s Poisoning Is the Act of a Sickly Regime

    “Amateur sleuths have already divided Navalny’s possible poisoners into two groups.”

    That’s a novel new description of western mainstream media, not a single one of which has even questioned why the first blood samples, taken in Russia, contain no traces of novickok like poisonous substances, and the blood samples taken some days later in Germany and whose contents have only been shared with NATO countries (and supposedly a lab in Sweden, a non-NATO, but as good as country. Amateurish sleuthing in the extreme when a third possibility, meddling with the sample, ought not, at this stage, be ruled out.

    Reply
    1. km

      “Amateur sleuths” = Bellingcat, or maybe that brand is getting stale so the spooks have made up another “grassroots amateur” to perform the same services.

      Reply
    2. diptherio

      “Amateur sleuths” who question the official narrative = conspiracy theorists = bad.

      “Amateur sleuths” who support the official narrative = totally credible = good.

      Reply
  6. PlutoniumKun

    Felix Chung: Issue bonds to fund Lantau project RTHK. I’m told this is an enormous boondoggle.

    Before the handover, HK put billions into infrastructure (particularly the new airport), the scarcely hidden agenda being to empty the city coffers of reserves so it couldn’t be grabbed by Beijing. I suspect there may also be something of that agenda at work now. It should be said that if the project worked, then the land would be very valuable, although there is an open question as to how much the government would get of that value, and how much would go to the usual round of HK billionaires.

    Anyway, HK, despite perceptions, is not actually that short of housing land, there are significant areas of publicly owned land which has been identified by campaigners (housing shortages is a huge political issue in HK) as suitable for public housing. But the priority of course in HK is always the free market, and in HK – as elsewhere in Asia – reclaimed land is particularly attractive to private developers as it avoids so many of the legal and regulatory issues associated with ‘natural’ land. This is one reason why the Japanese reclaim so much from the sea. HK, like Japan, lacks the aggressive land purchase powers that exist in different forms in South Korea and China.

    Reply
  7. Noone from Nowheresville

    The study suggests that many lawmakers voted in ways that benefited their personal finances, regardless of whether those votes were consistent with their espoused politics.

    Donors smonors these people don’t need no stinking donors to tell them what to do. They are already there all by themselves.Combine this with the priorities of their legislation and their espoused politics are just for show. What are their espoused politics again? Can we nail them down?

    “Honestly, we were surprised that nobody had done this analysis before, given that all this data was publicly available,” Peterson says.

    That’s my funny for the morning. What really kills me is what can be put into “these lame duck congress” deals like repealing Glass Stegal and more recently killing the post office with tiny fires year after year. Expect a huge wildfire soon.

    So I guess what I learned this morning is beware lame duck congress sessions in addition to public free for all fights. Now where do I slot CARES?

    And where is that Overton Window and that Norms Fairy rule book again?

    Reply
    1. Katniss Everdeen

      The study suggests that many lawmakers voted in ways that benefited their personal finances, regardless of whether those votes were consistent with their espoused politics.

      I don’t know which link you’re referring to, but my comment is the same regardless–DUH.

      What “honestly” “surprises” me is that somebody needed “data” to figure out something that is “intuitively obvious to the most casual observer,” a phrase from back in my college days used to express maximum disdain for preening brainiacs displaying “brilliance” telling people things everybody already knows.

      Reply
    1. a different chris

      Regardless, let me insert my continual whine about being led by geezers. None of the first 3(!) stories I read told me Suga’s age, I finally googled it directly and yeah he ain’t no spring chicken, in fact he is older than Abe. What a surprise.

      No wonder the world’s young seem to be almost voting for Covid.

      Reply
      1. Oh

        Suga’s deputy is older and the cabinet, surprisingly has 8-10 people who’re younger than 60 with one of them at 39.

        [It looks to me that most of the world is leaning towards old foggies for leadership. Sad!

        Reply
    2. curlydan

      I was hoping Sega, not Suga, would be named Japanese PM. I’d love to see Trump welcoming Sonic the Hedgehog to the WH.

      Reply
  8. Henry Moon Pie

    Death of faith and the Left–

    Juicy stuff here:

    These are questions we should consider sooner than later. Because while people have rapidly stopped believing in organized religion, they have certainly not stopped believing. As old ways of belief pass away, loosely-knit mass movements have already begun developing their own texts, rituals, mysteries, martyrs, and moral hierarchies. The pandemic has given these changes a massive push forward. Like plagues throughout history COVID-19 has triggered an outpouring of public spiritual energy. In doing so it is also revealing how new systems of morality and belief are already beginning to fill the God-shaped hole that has emerged in America’s collective consciousness.

    It might be easier to talk about these things without using words like “religion” and “faith” that trigger some atheists and agnostics. What we’re really talking about is “worldview,” a set of assumptions and beliefs that filter and organize the stimuli each of us receives from the world “out there.” The worldviews of some people do have a strong, traditional religious component, but even Richard Dawkins has a “worldview” without which we would be overwhelmed by the bombardment of outside stimuli that hits us every day.

    It is also important to recognize that “worldviews” have a maturity component. We do not die with the same worldview we had as young children. Here’s a handy chart integrating James Fowler’s “stages of faith” with Scott Peck’s (People of the Lie simplified version, that lays out the maturation process following along the lines of Piaget and Kohlberg who was Fowler’s doctor father.

    We have a rip-roaring division within our elites along worldview lines, and that’s mirrored in a public that has been fighting this battle with each other and within themselves since the 60s. Exacerbating this split is a conflict between two groups of corporate elites: on the one hand, the traditionally minded extraction and manufacturing bosses; on the other, the bankers and the techies.

    My problem is that I have no more use for the folks who dream of a nudging combination of Brave New World and Gattaca than I do for the old Western European Christian domination worldview. Hussain is tuned into this need for an alternative, but he’s understandably concerned about just what might emerge. He’s worried about any worldview that doesn’t have room for a diversity of beliefs in the community. Fair enough. I’m worried about any worldview that doesn’t radically re-orient our relationship to the Earth and its creatures, including our fellow human beings. Until we quit treating the cosmos as a collection of objects and being interacting as if the universe is, as Thomas Berry claims, a communion of subjects, we are on track to destroy our home and ourselves.

    Reply
    1. a different chris

      I found Hussain to come across as doing the equivalent of mansplaining to the non-religious.

      He can’t see a type of moral grounding different from the one he was raised in, so he fears it. Well you should fear pretty much everything that comes out of the mind of Man, fair enough, but he isn’t really any help here at all.

      Reply
    2. Carolinian

      That’s a really interesting article.

      Shedding our old beliefs and developing new ones, we might end up reviving in new guises the worst aspects of the old religions, including moral censoriousness, judgmentalism, heresy-hunting, and the persecution of those who think differently. Frighteningly enough, these base sentiments would also be unchecked by any countervailing religious imperatives towards mercy or the recognition of human frailty.

      Sounds like now. Perhaps religion has a more rational social utility than many of those who scoff at superstition would care to admit. If we have inner drives, instincts if you will, that heighten our tendency toward selfishness then it may take an equally irrational belief system to tame this beast and promote social cooperation. People in the past weren’t necessarily better or more moral than they are now, but they were taught a system of right and wrong that said you would go to Hell if you didn’t toe the line. And the fearfulness of modern life may also have to do with the loss of faith in a great beyond–no atheists in foxholes as it were.

      And finally, per the above quote, it does seem like the faith based beliefs of religion have simply transferred to other and potentially more harmful irrational beliefs among the elites. For example it is taken as an article of faith among our ruling class that Russia is an evil empire threatening to harm us and they believe that simply because everyone they know and read believes it as well. Sounds like religion.

      Reply
      1. Katniss Everdeen

        Can’t believe he uses the word “mercy” in any context without the word “no” preceding it.

        Talk about an anachronism.

        Reply
      2. a different chris

        Seems like we could have done with a lot less of the “social cooperation” driven by religion. The Crusades as an example that comes immediately to mind.

        I’m not sure how you could come up with a “more harmful” belief than, for another example, than the one that led to Jewish genocide.

        Reply
        1. Carolinian

          Obviously power corrupts including the religious. But while all religions are flawed I’m not sure we can say with certainty that no religion is better. What the author is saying is that we are undergoing that experiment right now and so far the results are not so encouraging. Often it simply means replacing one set of irrational beliefs with another (markets, meritocracy, exceptionalism). It would be great if pure reason could rule the land and our society transformed into one with a social contract and the desire for social harmony–if only for the practical reason that chaos serves no one.

          So far secularism doesn’t seem to be headed that way. If anything we seem to be more timid and fearful. People like MLK faced the fire hoses and death threats and didn’t worry about finding a safe space. Could be “faith” isn’t quite so irrational if it helps us function.

          I’m not religious myself but I don’t resent my Baptist parents for trying to drill it into me. They were flawed themselves but also two of the most honest people I’ve ever known.

          Reply
        2. Ariel

          Would the Polish, Ukrainian, and German guards at the death camps have been so enthusiastic about their work had they not learned from earliest infancy that Jews were Christ-Killers?

          Reply
          1. Carolinian

            I don’t know how enthusiastic they were, but if you are saying that the Nazis were on some kind of religious crusade I don’t think history shows that. Antisemitism at other times certainly was religious.

            Reply
        3. Henry Moon Pie

          Maybe we should prohibit the search for meaning beyond “what you own is who you are.” Surely that would end human suffering.

          Reply
        4. vidimi

          what was the belief that led to the jewish genocide? that the jews were unpatriotic communists who led to germany’s defeat in the first world war by demoralising the troops and, hence, needed to be preemptively destroyed if germany was to go at it again? how is that a religious belief? good grief.

          Reply
      3. occasional anonymous

        Identity politics is just a particularly ugly strain of Calvinism with god stripped out. It even comes complete with original sin and inherited guilt.

        Reply
    3. Count Zero

      I agree with the main thrust of your final paragraph, Henry. But I think you are a bit generous about Hussain’s remarks. There’s only a god-shaped hole because a god was placed there and then taken away. Now you see it, now you don’t. If there are paranoid cults and spiritual manias proliferating in the USA these are part of the disintegration of some specific forms of American Christianity. They are not symptoms of the “death of faith” but symptoms of its continuing life in new perverse practical forms.

      Reply
      1. Henry Moon Pie

        Good point. Most of those perverse forms are so out of kilter that I think it’s unlikely they can be shaped into any coherent belief system beyond “Me want things the way they were.” It’s hard to see these survive or attract many adherents.

        We old folks will find it difficult as the traditional worldview becomes so out-of-touch with reality that it loses its functionality for people who must stay connected to the here-and-now. That’s what mushrooms are for, I guess.

        Reply
      2. Count Zero

        The English poet William Blake in 1793:

        “The ancient Poets animated all sensible objects with Gods or Ge­niuses, calling them by the names and adorning them with the prop­erties of woods, rivers, mountains, lakes, cities, nations, and whatever their enlarged & numerous senses could percieve.

        And particularly they studied the genius of each city & country, placing it under its mental deity.

        Till a system was formed, which some took advantage of & enslav’d the vulgar by attempting to realize or abstract the mental dieties from their objects: thus began Priesthood.

        Choosing forms of worship from poetic tales.

        And at length they pronounced that the Gods had orderd such things.

        Thus men forgot that All deities reside in the human breast.”

        Reply
        1. Henry Moon Pie

          “Till a system was formed, which some took advantage of & enslav’d the vulgar by attempting to realize or abstract the mental dieties from their objects: thus began Priesthood”

          This was Murray Bookchin’s theory of hierarchy: it was the damn shamans!

          But seriously, beautiful Blake passage.

          I guess I differ a little. Those Ancient Poets, the verbal, were attempting to recover a communion that had been commonplace in the era before humans became settled. It was re-connection, a re-communion, that Bookchin’s despised shamans were shooting for, mostly at the behest of the people around them.

          Completely aside from that, I was hoping to revise my earlier response to you anyway with something less facetious. The phenomenon you describe, i.e. the dissolution of patriarchal Christianity and its perversions into fanatic sects, is exactly what the opposing worldview, the Technos, have been charged with averting by the monied. There are two ways to do “what needs to be done.” One is brute force and its threat. The other is to drown the public in Bernays sauce until they’re happy to accept declining conditions as dictated by The Musk, God of The Market.

          The Enlightened Technos have had 50 years (after all, it was about 50 years ago that the increasingly desperate Christian Right arose) to “re-educate” the misguided who still believed there was something more important than profit and “progress” as they defined it. The task was made much more difficult, it must be admitted, by incredibly selfish oligarchs who demanded that their share of the value of society’s production would constantly increase.

          The symptom is a failure to maintain social cohesion during a moderately challenging, unanticipated (because we’re idiots) situation. The Democrats’ ability to deal with such a challenging situation is beautifully illustrated by Biden’s response to a question about how he would enforce a mask mandate. His first response was that his legal “experts” have told him the President has the power to enforce such a mandate though there was some very qualifying language attached. Then he sought to show his grasp of power by asserting he would call in all the Governors to lay out the reasons for requiring something beyond the wearing of pants in public places.

          Not exactly the fireside chat tradition. No recognition that the real issue is that American public is basically going crazy as it fragments beyond an already frightening level of division.

          Reply
    4. Krystyn Podgajski

      ” I’m worried about any worldview that doesn’t radically re-orient our relationship to the Earth and its creatures, ”

      Me too. There are many levers that we can use in the U.S. to re-inject this relationship into peoples beliefs. In Eastern religions it is much easier since this is still incorporated in these worldviews (although it has been perverted by neoliberalism more recently).

      But for Christianity I feel the Franciscan route would be the best method in the U.S..

      From “Canticle of the Sun”

      Praised be You my Lord through our Sister,
      Mother Earth
      who sustains and governs us,
      producing varied fruits with coloured flowers and herbs.
      Praise be You my Lord through those who grant pardon for love of You and bear sickness and trial.

      So maybe preach the way St. Francis did to make change. Do not just praise Christ, emulate him.

      (I would say I am at stage 5 of Mystical-Communal, struggling to get to stage 6. The reason I say I am at stage 5 is that my brother, a Buddhist, once scolded me by complaining that “First you are a Buddhist, now you are a Franciscan?” HA! I asked him “What’s the difference?”)

      Reply
      1. ShamanicFallout

        I was reading Jung’s Structure of the Psyche (postulating a deep level of the mind to which we rarely meet) last night and this passage really has stuck with me: “If this supra-individual pysche exists, everything that is translated into its picture-language would be depersonalized, and if this becomes conscious would appear to us sub species aeternitalis (Spinoza). Not as my sorrow, but as the sorrow of the world; not a personal isolating pain, but a pain without bitterness that unites all humanity. The healing effect of this needs no proof.”

        Reply
      2. Henry Moon Pie

        “The reason I say I am at stage 5 is that my brother, a Buddhist, once scolded me by complaining that “First you are a Buddhist, now you are a Franciscan?” HA! I asked him “What’s the difference?”

        What a perfect concrete example of what this is all about! And as you well know, it all begins with a humility before the universe.

        I think you and I know what the best branch of Christianity knows about the value of suffering, a particularly Christian focus because of the cross. And I think you and I know the value of the harmony that is the focus of many Eastern views. (Please take that as an assertion of commonality rather than authority.) We need, if anything, a Moon Shot attitude toward finding some new worldview that will pull human beings back together to face rectifying the awful mess they have made of their own nest.

        Reply
  9. Noone from Nowheresville

    We need to reclaim populism from the right. It has a long, proud leftwing history

    I think we need to get over this right / left framing because either way the bottom 81% lose. We need something new. No idea what that is beyond the type of historical information Frank presenting. We definitely need to refresh our collective memories.

    Reply
      1. Montanamaven

        I’ve listened to their Unity 2020 ideas and I enjoy listening to both of them. But how does this differ from the Third Way kind of parties that always seem to say that there is a place in the middle which always still seems to not really include the working class. I’m genuinely interested in finding something like finding some compromise between Left Libertarianism which is founded on ideas from the 19th century “anarchists” like Bakunin to the 20th c ideas of Colin Ward who aren’t fond of a lot of private property and the Right Libertarians who love private property. The idea of the emphasis on freedom while still recognizing that we need to live together and use some kind of mutual aid mechanisms like perhaps Wang’s push for a UBI is a start in melding these two.

        Reply
        1. Stephen V.

          At risk of being seen as a White Winger, to your UBI example– I would argue against it based upon an idealistic picture of individual humans. It’s not simply finding out who we are, but also what are our capacities,– through work we also serve the community. Similarly, I think mutual aid has to be grounded in ‘sovereign’ individuals not something externally imposed if it is to be effective. Since we have an educational system largely aimed at “compliance,” all of this becomes a very “hard problem,” but perhaps necessarily so. The gov’t and any aid therefrom cannot save us from the work of figuring out at any point in time how best to develop ourselves. Yes, there would always be some entrepreneurs/ artists needing funding for a film, but a lot of young peeps are kind of lost, is that fair to say?
          This theme is played out in the contrast between Booker T Washington whose Tuskegee was founded on the self-improvement principle vs. WEB Dubois who pursued a more political / legislative strategy of change. Some have said BTW set back the cause of civil rights 60 years. He is largely forgotten.
          But perhaps in this century things we will witness a swing more towards his strategy. Superficially Tuskegee was viewed as training Black laborers (BTW represented it this way–as a cover– & WEB saw this as demeaning) but upon closer inspection it was as well-rounded a humanistic education as one could hope for.

          Reply
          1. Henry Moon Pie

            At the risk of being accused of being a Fisker:

            “Similarly, I think mutual aid has to be grounded in ‘sovereign’ individuals not something externally imposed if it is to be effective.”

            This assumes that mutual aid is a product of culture, mandated from above or accepted by some defined “majority,” rather than the genes, i.e. instinct, that brought us to the point of surviving to create culture and civilization. Given how technologically conditioned humans react to the natural world, it’s understandable that a denial of innate tendencies is critical to the continued propping up of a bankrupted worldview.

            Reply
        2. Pelham

          I agree with you about the threadbare and counterproductive notion of somehow finding a middle way between Democrats and Republicans, as if there were a magical, pristine mean between two wholly corrupt parties that are only microns apart on a miles-long political spectrum.

          But I don’t entirely dismiss the Weinsteins’ idea. The main thing they’re driving at is taking a few, admittedly not very productive years to restore (or introduce for the first time) a base level of trust in the political system. With this in mind, all they want are fairly untainted, uncontroversial figures who might not do much policy-wise but who can credibly claim at least some degree of integrity.

          Reply
          1. wilroncanada

            It seems to me that for the past 40-odd years the Democrat party has been adhering to this belief. The Party moves to the middle, and then the right moves further to the right. The end result: the Democrat Party is hard right wing, and the Republican Party is extreme right wing.

            Reply
    1. marcyincny

      Too true but it’s a long established power play that has worked for centuries and even to this day most people can’t see when they’re being played by ‘divide and conquer’.

      No idea here either but whatever it is I suspect it needs to be something that works on a much smaller, decentralized scale.

      Reply
    2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Agreed.

      Right and Left and Liberal and Conservative all mean something different to Political Neophytes. These terms are confusing.

      Reply
    3. Off The Street

      One big step in reframing any discussion is to expose what the current Uniparty has been doing. By that, I mean, show how they vote for massive programs that are under their control and disbursed (read, stolen) for non-publicized purposes. The juicy stuff about their minions, unindicted co-conspirators, flaks and other assorted miscreants is in effect a type of misdirection. Those little people, like Leona Helmsley’s little people, get swept up, not the ones in charge. The real action is behind the scenes, and much ends up offshore, as in Panama Papers or current version(s), or repurposed for creative funding.

      For example, if any of the Burisma or related Ukraine accusations prove out, and those funds got shifted from whatever original purpose they claimed, isn’t that a huge indictment of said Uniparty? How much money got shifted into political campaigns, slush funds, western country version of Black Sea dachas and such? How many other programs over the years have had one set of platitudes in the Congressional Record and yet another on the ground? Iran-Contra and such were just the clumsier ones.

      Reply
    4. km

      The terms “left” and “right”, in the USA-ian sense, have little meaning or relevance outside the context of contemporary US politics.

      Reply
    5. occasional anonymous

      If 81% of the population is losing, then by definition it isn’t the left that is in charge. The fact that you are even making a distinction between a rich and poor division in society is evidence for the validity of the left-right construct.

      Reply
  10. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

    Julian: Tucker had Glenn Greenwald on his show and he gave a very nice summary that pulled absolutely no punches. Must admire Carlson for trying to open a few minds. Where are the Dems on this? I thought every last thing Trump did was despicable? This must make their heads explode: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrYN3e4sq8I

    And speaking of exploding heads, that rarest of rare events: Biden unchained, no teleprompter, trying to form complete thoughts. Jill definitely should be up on elder abuse charges. This is heavily edited but worth a watch anyway: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sExGofYTfuI

    Reply
    1. foghorn longhorn

      They’ve got two weeks to get that moron drugged up before the debate on the 29th, good luck with that.
      Was on the side of town where the beto signs outnumbered or were equal to the cruz signs, not one biden sign, have yet to even see a bumper sticker.

      Reply
      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        They’ve rigged “the debates” with solid anti-Trump moderators, and I’m sure Biden’s handlers are suggesting the questions as we speak and then tuning their answers. They’ll get the final questions beforehand, just like last time.

        Their refusal to put the man in front of the public and have him speak is much more than a political expedient, it’s a gigantic slap in the face to anyone who wants to try and take the measure of the man before voting for him as president. That slap in the face is on par with Hilary refusing to show her face the night she lost. With that act she showed us both her actual opinion of the country and its institutions, and of the voters themselves.

        4 hours unscripted Joe Rogan but of course they know their man is not up to that. Maybe they could send The Kama Kameleon instead? Seriously, everybody already knows what the score is, and besides, she’s got black hi-top sneakers!

        Reply
  11. timbers

    RE: Your Man in the Public Gallery:

    ” the US Government explicitly argued that all journalists are liable to prosecution under the Espionage Act (1917) for publishing classified information…”

    I have arrived at a Trumpian solution for 2020 elections, one that Dems can embrace in future should they be allowed to win any going forward….

    By U.S. Presidential Executive Order:

    Due to widespread conspiracy theories and concern regarding voting fraud affecting the validity off our exceptional and indispensable elections, The President of the United States declares all election results classified under the 1917 Espionage Act against Russia and China (but not Israel), until vetting by Federal Election Team, which is also established by this Presidential Classification. The first election to be classified is the 2020 Presidential Election. After now created Federal Election Team is up an running, other elections will be duly applied.

    Reply
    1. Pelham

      I found it mildly interesting that the mucky-muck mainstream, notably including the NYT and WaPo, aren’t bothering to cover this hearing, which on the face of it would have the most profound consequences for all of American journalism.

      I say “on the face of it” because I believe that the mainstream forms of the profession are now in direct opposition to the real thing, such as that represented by Assange, Glenn Greenwald, Matt Taibbi, Aaron Mate and a few others, all marginal. Rather than uncover the evil deeds of the Deep State, the Times, Post and networks are more concerned with serving the same ends. There has always been a nasty and prominent streak of this sort of rot in American journalism, but the rot has spread to engulf the host.

      I still check in on these sources daily, but only to learn what they want me to think.

      Reply
  12. Krystyn Podgajski

    RE: “Shock and sorrow as Canada’s biggest co-op sold to US private equity firm”

    When the exchange rate was oin my favor I would often travel in Canada for three months to save money and MEC was my REI when I did. I still have a travel coffee mug I bought there.

    But reading this is interesting timing. I stopped by an REI yesterday looking fro a way to spend some of my membership benefits as I get ready to live in my van again. I was shocked when I went in the store. Pre-covoid is was usually packed in the afternoon and I was one of three people in the store. Plus their was a distinct lack of merchandise. It did not look healthy at all.

    This is interesting since all I hear is how people are all about being outdoors. And also when I go into a walmart it is packed.

    Reply
    1. Rod

      Saw the same two weeks ago—went to their web and saw the same dearth—thought the same—they are hurting.
      I thought turning the HQ and Flagship Store into Commercial Property drastic but now looks foresighted…

      Reply
      1. wilroncanada

        Funny. I always thought of Mountain Equipment Co-op as a PMC (Professional Management Class) store. Probably a co-op in the same sense my co-op service station is. You buy a “membership” but you are a silent “member”. At least at my co-op we get a rebate every year on gas & grocery purchases, and get to vote on the Board every year.

        Just around the corner from the MEC store in Victoria, BC, is a locally-owned store which sells many of the same products. The store has been operating for 80 years, into it’s third generation. It is where I would shop.

        Reply
    2. Keith

      REI tends to cater to the more affluent, so perhaps they have been shifting to a more online sales model. That being said, the stores that do sell outdoor gear seem to be low in stock, from Walmart, Ranch and Home, and others whose names I cannot think of, so it could be demand plus supply disruption. Also, lots of that outdoors stuff doubles as prepper gear, too. Another aside, RV prices have shot up, too, so demand certainly seems to be there. As winter approaches, perhaps these places can catch up.

      Side note, a local appliance chain has shut down for the rest of Sept due to a lack of inventory and an inability to stock their stores.

      Reply
      1. MK

        Even Home Depot and Frigidaire seem to be having issues. My 15 year old dishwasher finally died, the new motor, plus labor was going to be north of $500, so I went looking for new one. I found it mid-July online and the first delivery date was August 15th (almost a full month!).

        Then, about a week before I get an e-mail from Home Depot and a recorded call from Frigidaire. Delivery was being pushed back and they would let me know the new delivery dates. Almost 2 weeks later, they tell me it will be delivered September 12. And it was, but it took 2 whole months to get it!

        Reply
        1. Keith

          Yeah, I am already looking ahead at stocking up. I let some of my supplies get used up to rotate and clear up space, but with the shortages continuing and more disruptions looking likely, I am getting ready to start restocking. Luckily, I do not really need any appliances right now, although I am keeping an eye open for AC units. I am not sure is lockdowns will continue due to fatigue with them and the economic impact, but if it does, I suspect shortages being worse than during the summer.

          Reply
        2. Medbh

          I’ve had to order a new toilet and a fridge (from Menards and Best Buy). Both were out of stock when I purchased them, but they ended up needing to reschedule delivery multiple times. The delivery time was 6 weeks out when I placed the order, and they both ended up being delivered about 4 months from purchase. Neither one was an “emergency’ buy so it wasn’t a big deal, but I now assume that it’ll be at least double whatever timeline I’m quoted.

          Reply
      2. Medbh

        I stopped at a furniture store to see if I could get an ottoman for a sectional sofa we bought two years ago. The sales person sighed, and said that she can place the order, but the supply lines are all messed up. It could take up to a year for it to be delivered. The furniture is built in the US, but they can’t get the fabrics from overseas. I don’t think she was just scamming me, as I was willing to buy a matching ottoman today, and instead I walked out and bought nothing. She seemed more resigned, frustrated, and apologetic than anything else.

        I got the same response when I tried to buy dance clothes for my kids. The dance shop owner explained that half of her previous suppliers went out of business, and the ones that were left would make no guarantees as to when items would be delivered. Many of the most basic items (such as dance shoes and leotards) were out of stock, and she couldn’t say when they would be back.

        It’s sad. Business is down because so many people are struggling financially, but even when they have a potential sale, they can’t get the products in stock to sell.

        Reply
    3. JWP

      The Portland stores have been packed, sometimes lines up the block. While it is a hub for outdoorsiness, everyone has been stocking up on camping/hiking/biking/fishing stuff at an abnormally high rate, including myself. I hope the pain is temporary elsewhere.

      Reply
    4. diptherio

      The fact that the membership didn’t have any say in this decision says to me that they were a co-op in name only (CINO). And sadly, I wouldn’t be surprised if something similar happens to REI which is also a CINO. A lot of large consumer co-ops are, to be frank. Without effective member-led governance, these consumer co-ops, like ESOPs, are simply feel-good names without any real difference from your standard-issue corporation.

      Reply
      1. Keith

        I suspect the majority of people that shop at REI do not care about the reality. It is about the image of being part of a “co-op” and shopping at a store without scary guns and harmful fishing gear.

        That being said, I have heard employment perks and benes are good there.

        Reply
    5. Sub-Boreal

      There is no MEC store near me, so for years I’ve relied on mail-order purchases between occasional visits to their physical stores when visiting Vancouver. My membership dates to 1977. I always appreciated their excellent returns and repair policies.

      I actually did vote pretty faithfully in Board of Directors elections, but some of the signs of crapification and neoliberal infestation were apparent in recent years. For example, you had to request a ballot for the Board elections, and the billing for the officially-endorsed slate was always pretty heavy-handed. So I made a point of voting for the un-endorsed candidates.

      Signs of increased competition were becoming obvious long before the age of online retailing. There has long been a halo of surrounding outdoor-oriented retailers within a couple of blocks of the flagship store on Broadway in central Vancouver.

      Although the Lululemonization of their product line was apparent in recent years, I managed to tune that out and focus on the things that I needed.

      My personal warning sign came about 5 or 6 years ago when I had a jacket zipper fail after only 2 years of moderate use. [Crapification note: zippers are always the first thing to go! ] I wrote MEC’s CEO while still in the initial heat of annoyance, and got a fairly lame reply from a VP whose excuse amounted to, well, the whole market is going to lightweight products, so we’re no worse than anyone else.

      Most of all, I think they succumbed to growth over-reach, and that was the beginning of their death spiral. Not that we needed another case study, but in this instance we see again what happens when the members of a membership-based organization stop paying attention and the managers turn it into their playpen.

      Another warning sign – trying to fight off unionization: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/mec-union-victoria-vancouver-outdoor-retailer-unfair-labour-complaint-1.5358635

      FWIW, co-op loyalists launched a petition campaign 2 days ago ( https://www.change.org/p/mountain-equipment-coop-stop-the-privatization-of-mountain-equipment-co-op ) and have a FB group ( https://www.change.org/p/mountain-equipment-coop-stop-the-privatization-of-mountain-equipment-co-op ). Now that bankruptcy proceedings have started, it’s not clear whether anything can stop the privatization.

      Reply
    6. Cat Burglar

      The MEC had great gear. It follows the purchase a few years back of employee-owned Black Diamond Equipment (the ski and climbing gear maker) to some private investors.

      Friends that were REI employees in the 90s told me that REI management had looked in to going private, but found the legal barriers insurmountable.

      REI’s big crisis came in the mid 70s, when a self-regarding CEO expanded the number of stores outside Seattle in the face of a recession. The creditors came in — mainly local banks, with the late and unlamented Seafirst Bank being one — appointed a new board and CEO, and that created the REI we know today. In the early 70s, REI used to call itself “the Co-Op,” but that stopped after the reorganization.

      My Seattle climbing friends were always quick to say,”It’s not a Co-op!” While it has it’s advantages as a retailer still, friends that are former employees are quite negative about their REI jobs — but then, they worked the floor. If you work at the corporate level of REI, you have a great deal — in the 90s they even got to cherry pick the sweetest returned items before store sales. In the 90s, at least, there was a vicious two-class system at work. One close friend that won a monthly sales award was told she would be fired if she did not remove her nose piercing — and she was not the only one. She had waited on an REI corporate employee looking for a pair of boots, and the corporate robot praised the service to store management, reported that the nose piercing was “distracting.” The espresso cart worker in the store got a similar threat, but was given the option of covering the piercing — she managed to figure out any number of ways to apply bandaids to the stud in her nose, all of which would give you an uncontrollable itch your nose! I imagine REI management finally got over their aversion to nose piercings, but the incident gives some idea of management pettiness.

      Reply
      1. Off The Street

        Rec Co-Op was the first name I heard when looking at buying climbing gear about 50 years ago. In that simpler pre-everymedia era, I learned the full name of REI shortly thereafter while ordering a catalog. That was some wishbook, a nice change from the prior exemplars of Sears, Penney’s and Monkey Wards.

        A simpler era when love of the outdoors could be stated in a then-current book title, Backpacking: The Freedom of The Hills.

        Reply
  13. The Rev Kev

    ‘Waiting for technicals, here, where they put the guns on the truck, Mad Max-style.’

    That is actually quite insightful that. Technicals have been in use in places like Africa and the Middle East for decades now. Now, I for one do not believe in an approaching American Civil War 2.0. I leave that wet dream to all those bankers out there. But supposing that you did. Look at two elements of American culture – guns, especially big guns, and trucks. Put them together and you would have fleets of technicals roaming throughout America in one conflict or another in no time at all-

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technical_(vehicle)

    Reply
    1. rowlf

      I don’t agree. Due to the National Firearms Act there are not very many automatic weapons available to civilians for mounting on vehicles in the US, plus the ones that do exist are very expensive to document and purchase compared to world prices. The second amendment hasn’t kept up with militias having crew served weapons and being able to provide indirect fire.

      Reply
      1. Duck1

        “The second amendment hasn’t kept up with militias having crew served weapons and being able to provide indirect fire.”

        droll

        Reply
      2. JTMcPhee

        There’s apparently a lot of “leakage” from US military arsenals, https://www.ibtimes.com/us-marines-sold-nearly-2-million-stolen-guns-combat-equipment-gangs-and-foreign-countries-698575, and if things go sideways, there’s likely a lot of troops in the military who are friendly to militia-ing and forming up into little private armies under various kinds of warlords. https://warontherocks.com/2020/05/of-course-the-u-s-military-has-a-white-supremacy-problem-its-baked-in/

        Reply
          1. ambrit

            True story from someone who was indirectly involved.
            Someone in Phyl’s family was a foreman at the Louisiana shipyard that refurbished the American Battleship USS Iowa back in the 1980s. He regaled us with the lurid tale, (one of several,) of the 20mm anti-aircraft gun that was stolen from off of the deck of the Iowa. Later, it was discovered that a bolt for that type of gun had been stolen from the Navy lockup hut. Much wailing and gnashing of teeth ensued.
            Evidently, plain old 50cal machine guns are common. Locally, last fall, an old but working Vickers .303 water cooled machine gun was put up for sale on a local gun nut website. The asking price was several thousand dollars, and it eventually sold, though for how much was not disclosed.
            Old tymers will remember the plumbing truck originally from Houston that ended up in the Middle East as a ‘technical.’ So, the required materials for war making are already available in America. You just have to know where to look.

            Reply
            1. The Rev Kev

              When I made my comment, I was actually thinking of that poor Texas plumber and his truck. He got a lot of threats over that but who was sending American trucks to places where ISIS could get a hold of them? The car companies are all in on it and a 1987 Chadian–Libyan conflict was known as the “Toyota War” as Chadian troops used so many Toyota pickup trucks, mostly the Toyota Hilux and the Toyota Land Cruiser.

              Reply
    2. km

      For that matter, offers to trade firearms (or solicitation of firearms) in exchange for various goods and services is a long honored tradition in the West and rural Midwest.

      It’s unremarkable for a North Dakota “for sale” ad to either specify “no guns” or to list the types of guns that the owner might be interested in trading for, with or without cash boot. Because if you have something of value, people will offer to trade you guns for it.

      Reply
      1. RMO

        Came here to say that – it’s a pretty common joke among people who use Craigslist to sell cars, musical instruments, motorcycles etc. etc. that no matter what you say in the ad you’ll get someone trying to trade firearms (or ATV’s) for it. Almost as much of a cliche as the ads for something outrageously overpriced that aggressively say “no lowballers – I know what I have!”

        Reply
      1. rowlf

        Having many hours in my father’s 1970 Toyota Landcruiser I am jealous of the serious 4x4s sold in Africa. In the US we have fruity all-wheel drive junk with carpeting in the cab. The African vehicles have turbo-diesel engines, manual transmissions, locking hubs/axles/transfer cases while US vehicles have gasoline engines, automatic transmissions and pushbutton engagement.

        Reply
  14. Anthony K Wikrent

    “Business Roundtable to endorse market-based climate policy Politico”

    Why? Why does the policy have to be market-based?

    Because ever possibly admitting or even indicating that the role of government might be superior to the role of markets can never be allowed.

    I’m not sure this can be understood unless you are familiar with the history of neoliberalism, from the work of Philip Mirowski, Corey Robin, and others.

    And I think that an understanding of republicanism — and how some of the founders, such as Hamilton and Adams, thought of a republic, and what it should be — makes the point even more profound. Because in a republic, the General Welfare, the public interest, ALWAYS must have precedence over self interests. And, thus, the markets can NEVER be allowed to predominate.

    In fact, in the founding era, certain characteristics and behaviors of markets, such as engrossing, speculating, and price gouging, were highly disreputable, if not outright banned.

    “The questions of the introduction of domestic manufactures and the role that labor-saving machines might play in American life were considered not as isolated economic issues but as matters affecting the entire character of society. No doubt profit motives existed, but would-be manufacturers had to make cogent arguments which addressed broader ideological concerns. “In addition to asking “How much will it pay?” they had to consider as well, ”How will it advance the cause of republicanism?” The question was not rhetorical – not at this time at least.” [Civilizing the Machine: Technology and Republican Values in America, 1776-1900, by John F. Kasson, Grossman Publishers, 1976, p 6).

    There are still reverberations of this republican consciousness in the body politic, but the entire effort of movement conservatism, libertarianism, and neoliberalism, is bent toward eradicating them. (And I think this is a useful point at which to not liberalism, let alone neoliberalism, is NOT republicanism.)

    Reply
    1. Eclair

      Because the market-based policies of the past decades (centuries?) have worked so well in preserving our planet’s resources ….. abundant clean water, clean air, pristine and flourishing forests, fertile plains and valleys with deep topsoil. Oh … wait ….

      Reply
    2. JWP

      Time to reboot Obama’s Chicago Carbon exchange. No policy can truly be adopted unless the powers that be find a way to monetize it for their own.
      I think there’s more support for non market based solutions than people realize, they just fear the backlash more than the backlash actually will be because of the Cnbc/fox/bloomberg propping up of market solutions. If everyone’s idea of saving the env is buying a Tesla, market solutions aren’t what the public wants, because markets cannot deliver public goods that function.

      Reply
    3. diptherio

      I’m currently reading The Great Transformation by Polanyi and this is the exact point that seems to be the thesis of the entire book: before the industrial revolution of the 19th century, the economy was embedded in, and subservient to, the larger social order; afterwards, the relationship was reversed and society became embedded in, and subservient to, the “self-regulating” market economy.

      The classical and neo-classical economists have done a great disservice in assuming that the latter situation was somehow always the case, that the economy has always been something separate from, and somehow more fundamental, than society and the social structure itself. More and more people seem to be getting the picture that this way of arranging things is highly destructive and needs to change, but it would be helpful if more people realized what a recent and historically aberrant view this market uber alles mentality is.

      Reply
      1. wilroncanada

        Thus, the successful separation of Economics and Political Science into different specialties over time. The pretense that there is no overlap. The insistence that the politics should be subservient to the economics.
        Even as late as the 1960s I used to distribute the Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science from the University of Toronto Press. Note the political was the “science” while the economics was just economics.

        Reply
    4. lyman alpha blob

      This is the part that killed me –

      In a statement on its website, the Business Roundtable warned of the threats that climate change posed to the United States, and said although significant progress had been made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the uncertainty caused by the patchwork of state and federal efforts was hurting companies.

      “It is time for a new approach,” the statement said.

      You mean it wasn’t the market-based approach we’ve been using for the last half century that has brought us to this point?!?!?

      I want what those Roundtable guys are smoking.

      Reply
    5. Bruno

      The great technological innovation of that early republicanism was Eli Whitney’s invention of the “cotton gin,” which led directly to a great intensification of slavery, genocide of the native population, destruction of the English class of weavers–and indirectly to worldwide ecological devastation symbolized by the extinction of the Aral Sea.

      Reply
      1. Anthony K Wikrent

        Whitney’s cotton gin and its effect in giving new life to slavery, which was economically in decline (see Avery O. Craven, The Coming of the Civil War, University of Chicago Press, 1957) is certainly monumental, but I think not anywhere as important as the invention and diffusion of metal cutting machine tools, and the consequent new ability to produce interchangeable parts with ever greater precision, which creates the basis of modern industrial society. “King Cotton” and slavery are destroyed as institutions and as economic forces by the Civil War. Their influence, if not terminated, is severely reduced (it can be argued the end of Reconstruction allows their influence to gain strength again, but I would agree instead with Heather Cox Richardson (How the South Won the Civil War: Oligarchy, Democracy, and the Continuing Fight for America, Oxford University Press, 2020) that it is the ideas of racism and oligarchy that win with the end of Reconstruction.) Metal cutting machine tools, and the ability to produce interchangeable parts, allow the development of industrial mass production. (See David A. Hounshell, From the American System to Mass Production, 1800-1932: The Development of Manufacturing Technology in the United States, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1984).

        Reply
    6. pasha

      business roundtable was one of the first anti-new deal organizations, formed in the 1930s. iirc, the du ponts provided funding. the chamber of commerce goes back that far, too

      Reply
  15. The Rev Kev

    “Sydney’s New Suburbs Are Too Hot for People to Live In”

    Having lived in Sydney’s western suburbs for two or three years I can definitely say that yes, parts of Sydney can get as hot as a b******. Sydney itself sits in a geological formation known as the Sydney Basin. The coastal areas can be cool, especially when Sydney’s “Southerly Buster” blows in, but the heat can be trapped over the western suburbs and other areas where it can get pretty bad in the high summer. After we moved north where it was supposed to be hotter, I would see that no matter how hot is was here, down in Sydney’s western suburbs it was always much hooter. Sometimes ferociously so. And that is where air-con comes in but in doing so, it has made electricity prices a long simmering ‘hot’ topic in Australian politics.

    Reply
    1. ChristopherJ

      The older suburbs had bigger blocks, Kev, a quarter acre, not unusual. The streets were wider too and typically lined with shady trees Now, developers are permitted to offer 300 to 400 m2 blocks, where the builders typically build houses right to the boundary.

      The picture at top shows all homes have black or grey steel roofs. All those aircon outdoor units blowing hot air at their neighbours… And not a shade tree in sight.

      I am in a 1962 Queenslander. We have a large ficus on the back boundary which provides shade and a lot of cooling on a hot day. We have a lot of other trees too, including seven citrus. You’d be lucky to grow a tomato on these newer blocks of land

      Just another example of the past was better

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        I think that you have it. Shady trees make all the difference where we live. Nearby us is a housing development where the blocks are so small, that you can have a front yard or a back yard but not both. No room for shady trees.

        Reply
  16. Code Name D

    Kim Iversen makes some bold claims here about the democrats sabotaging COVID treatments. We already have growing examples where Dems are trying to sow doubt about a vaccine. (Feeding the anti-vax movement.) But here she says the Dems have spiked several other promising treatments.
    https://youtu.be/gzU5PcHKhHQ
    Looking for independent vitrification.

    Reply
  17. Tom

    https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-researchers-unveil-new-drug-that-could-treat-and-prevent-covid-19/

    From the article:
    The drug’s foundation is a tiny but potent antibody that can block the virus from infecting cells. The drug, called Ab8, has been effective in preventing and treating covid-19 in mice and hamsters. Human clinical trials could begin in early 2021.

    At a news conference Tuesday, UPMC officials said the drug will be especially helpful to vulnerable patients who wouldn’t respond as well to a vaccine, such as the elderly or those with compromised immune systems.

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I had the worst Cold I’ve ever had in mid-December. I was at the UVA vs UNC game on December 8th, so the crowd is a bit different and from farther corners than most games that time of the season. I wasn’t being dimwitted like I have in the past when sick and actually did rest, and I was at the point where I thought I might need to see a doctor.

      I didn’t have a fever though if I did it was brief and not severe. The cough wasn’t that bad. The tiredness was off the charts. Its like how I feel at about 830 if I skip coffee and haven’t had any in 24 hours, but it didn’t pass. I didn’t lose my sense of taste. My sense of smell is…nothing to rely on. I can’t smell the additive to natural gas.

      Reply
    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      I had the worst Cold I’ve ever had in mid-December. I was at the UVA vs UNC game on December 8th, so the crowd is a bit different and from farther corners than most games that time of the season. I wasn’t being dimwitted like I have in the past when sick and actually did rest, and I was at the point where I thought I might need to see a doctor.

      I didn’t have a fever though if I did it was brief and not severe. The cough wasn’t that bad. The tiredness was off the charts. Its like how I feel at about 830 if I skip coffee and haven’t had any in 24 hours, but it didn’t pass. I didn’t lose my sense of taste. My sense of smell is…nothing to rely on. I can’t smell the additive to natural gas.

      Reply
  18. Poopypants

    You ever notice how when a major corporation breaks laws they’re often referred to in the third person:

    ‘Boeing Hid Design Flaws in Max Jets From Pilots and Regulators’

    So no human beings hid the design flaws, ‘Boeing’ did. I see how that works, no humans to blame, just the organism known as ‘Boeing’.

    We have been conditioned to not question this ambiguity and accept that ‘Boeing’ will be fined and or punished and that will be enough, but no actual humans.

    Reply
      1. John Anthony La Pietra

        Well, now, let’s think about that for a moment. . . .

        If corporations are people . . . how can they be owned?

        Are they all guilty of some sort of “original crime” which condemns them before they’re “born” to slavery or involuntary servitude under the 13th Amendment?

        Maybe a better description is suggested by that word “born”. Maybe corporations are more properly viewed as children — needing guidance from their creators for a time until they mature and go out to make their own way in the world.

        IOW, at age 18 (or maybe 21) a corporation leaves the (investment) house and family in which it grew up. It no longer belongs to the board and stockholders who invested time and money in its upbringing; instead, it controls its own body, its own organs — the elements that make it move and breathe . . . those who do the work.

        It graduates to adult co-operative status. . . .

        Reply
  19. Tom Stone

    The only surprise to me about the Assange trial is that the verdict wasn’t announced before the trial began.

    The arrogance and stupidity of the upper classes is on full display in Judge Baraitser.
    Honey, the “Rule of Law” was put in place to protect you and yours, it’s there to protect property.
    When you dispose of it out of shortsighted greed and hubris you will shortly find that your ONLY security comes from attaching your lips firmly to the right set of buttocks.
    Choose carefully.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      The UK is getting itself a pretty bad reputation these days as far as the law is concerned. You have this mockery of a trial which by rights should die of embarrassment, you have London stealing Venezuela’s gold to ‘protect it’ and now you have Boris saying that he can break agreements that he signed because he does not like them and never planned to keep them anyway. If a country had dealings with the UK, they would have to take this all into consideration you would think.

      Reply
  20. anon in so cal

    Biden told the Council on Foreign Relations he wants to move NATO eastward (has to mean Ukraine and Georgia?). He added that, “Russia must pay a heavier price.”

    The other day Biden said this:

    “First thing I’m going to have to do, and I’m not joking: if elected I’m going to have to get on the phone with the heads of state and say America’s back,” Biden said, saying NATO has been “worried as hell about our failure to confront Russia.”

    https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2020/09/15/are_the_forever_wars_really_ending_144200.html

    Reply
    1. a different chris

      Never any specifics on what Russia is doing that needs to be “confronted”.

      Just pat us on our little heads and say “Daddy can’t talk about it but he’s protecting you“.

      Reply
    2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      The world has a virus problem: the Pox Americana virus. I’d think more and more nations would want to quarantine

      Reply
    3. vidimi

      yes, this is why i think trump is the lesser of two evils. trump may not be anti-war – he would love to start one with iran, for example – but he is so transparently and cartoonishly evil that he cannot get the international support for one. barack obama did and i suspect joe biden or his handlers would too, and that is the biggest danger.

      Reply
  21. jr

    I am going to start a small blog of my own soon using one of the free services. I did a budget and I can just barely afford “free“ so I’m winging it. I bought a mini keyboard for my phone. Forward!

    It will intentionally have little to do with economics, finance, or politics but a lot to do with power. It will be about the things I don’t discuss here so I will still be NCing 24/7 so as to help make sense of the world as well as remind myself I’m not completely f*cking nuts. Plenty of neologisms and puns ahead!

    Does anyone recommend one blog service over the other? I’ve heard complaints about WordPress in the past. My sincere thanks for any tips.

    Reply
          1. lyman alpha blob

            According to David Hume via Bertrand Russell, nobody is nuts – they are just minorities of one in how they view the world. I always kind of liked that sentiment.

            Reply
      1. Jr

        Thank you! I will do so. And interestingly enough as a bipolar that is exactly one of the questions I will be dealing with. The easy answer is that you live with two minds. You have yourself but you have to kind of create another, smaller self who is always watching it’s bigger self. A mental Mini-Me, so to speak. One with a stricter set of behavioral norms that the one’s you generally allow yourself. When you see a sharp divergence between the two, it’s often a good idea to start to adjusting behavior or toning down one’s speech. Even if it doesn’t make sense in those moments, just having a set standard to use as a metric is oftentimes enough to alter one’s actions. So that is how you know you’re crazy even when you are crazy.

        But that’s just for everyday manic/depressive episodes. About a year ago, due to a grueling four day bout of insomnia, I had a near total psychotic break. Another, more primitive personality exhibit’s itself in times like that. I become a very different person. Aggressive, lustful, and cruel. It’s freeing, I lose a lot of the social inhibitions that I’ve intentionally developed over the years to be able to live in society and the burden of curtailing my impulses melts away. Now impulse rules and it’s exhilarating.

        Now in those instances I oftenknow I’m not “right” but it’s so much fun! I’m almost 50 but I feel 16 again, if you take my meaning. If someone wants to debate a topic I ruthlessly tear them apart, all guns on auto. I have no sense of social graces or manners. When I would drink, it would start at noon and run till morning. I used to say my brain makes it’s own cocaine. And then I bought cocaine. Wild and barbaric. It’s would not be inaccurate to compare myselves to Angel and Angelus from “Angel”. Similarly, upon awakening after such a spell, there is an enormous rush of guilt and shame.

        Now, there is a third category of self reflective crazy. It’s the scariest of all. It’s when you feel your mind slipping away from you but you are still there, as yourself. It’s as if you mind gets up out of your head and starts walking around the room but you are still sitting in your skull. You look upon your own thoughts as if from another place. It happened most recently about a month ago. I sat in a chair and watched myself as I slipped away for a second. It was as if I were “looking” into my own mind rather than just being it. This is, I suspect, the literal borderlands of consciousness. Terrifying but revealing.

        Anyway, this is what my new blog will be for, I will definitely be exploring that question more there.

        Reply
    1. vidimi

      good luck with the venture. i don’t have too much to add except think carefully about the type of exchange you want with your blog. if it’s a one-way stream of information, then a traditional blog service like wordpress would be fine. the one weakness i find with this site is that it is difficult to have an extended debate in the comment section since old content quickly gets archived by new content. it is still possible to comment on older posts, but no-one will go back to read it. so if you want a more conversational exchange of ideas, perhaps a forum might be better (afaik it is still possible to post blogs on online forums)

      Reply
  22. Rod

    https://www.newyorker.com/news/q-and-a/a-political-philosopher-on-why-democrats-should-think-differently-about-merit
    This was a very illuminating read this morning
    Lot of synthesis with other topics current here at NC.
    That “Rhetoric of Rising” is a good connotation for the myth of meritocracy. This simple phrase stuck out to me. Bold mine.
    What the rhetoric of rising has missed is the lost dignity of work that a great many people spend their lives engaged in. Not only in terms of stagnant wages, but also in terms of social recognition. Honor. At the heart of the resentment of many working people is the sense that the work they do isn’t respected in the way it once was. Not only the economy but also the culture has left them behind

    Reply
    1. barefoot charley

      When deindustrialization was first pulverizing the Midwest I remember ads on tv for amazing opportunities not to “get dirt under your fingernails.” The propaganda against working-class work shamed those who did it, and has ever since. The parasites ate the whole mind-pie.

      Reply
    2. Left in Wisconsin

      Yes, pretty good for a Harvard man. But what he misses is that dignity not just about rhetoric. Telling us in New Yorker articles that working behind the counter dealing with a$$hole customers all day is dignified work doesn’t cut it. This is what eggheads and coasters don’t get about manufacturing and construction (and farming and mining…) – the dignity flows largely from the work itself.

      Still, a thousand times better than Sachs – it’s not “China” and “Mexico” who have stolen the jobs, much less his automation fable, it’s our corporate overlords who have taken them away.

      Reply
  23. km

    For those who care (read: nobody) I actually got to see my very first Biden bumpersticker yesterday.

    Location: Moorhead, Minnesota Wally World parking lot.

    Vehicle: A newish Chevy Impala, sporting not one, but two! (2) Biden-Harris stickers.

    Perpetrator: White male, somewhere between young adulthood and middle age, who, sorry for stereotyping, looked like the textbook definition of an incel or maybe a MGTOW.

    Reply
    1. voteforno6

      In that part of the country, it takes a little bit of something to display any Biden stuff. There’s a lot of Trumpsters in that neck of the woods (though, it’s worth noting, not much in the way of woods).

      Reply
      1. km

        Tell me about it. In that part of the country, Trumpmobiles are about as remarkable as drunk people at a frat party.

        Biden, not so much.

        Reply
    2. WobblyTelomeres

      Same here. Huntsville, Alabama Costco parking lot. Biden/Harris sticker, late model sedan.

      Still doesn’t hold a candle to the car I saw a few weeks ago, same Costco. Middle-aged white male in scrubs loading up a beat up hatchback, the back and sides of which carried large “F*CK TRUMP” stickers, only without the asterisk.

      Pretty bold statement for Alabama.

      Reply
    3. Carolinian

      Strangely enough the Biden signs are becoming common in my upstate SC middle class neighborhood. Only one Trump sign spotted in the yard of a hard core Republican.

      But this neighborhood is very PMC. Being a Trump supporter around here is not something you’d boast about. The state itself will almost certainly go Trump.

      Reply
  24. nippersdad

    Re: New Climate maps show a transformed United States.

    I was reading that last night, and it was truly horrifying. I have spent thirty years trying to turn our place into a habitat, quite possibly the only thing I have managed to do right with my life thus far, so it was a real shock to the system* to see that it may become an actual desert in twenty years. It has always been a given that “life is hell outside the hedges,” but hell sounds like it is about to invade them.

    I am now perceptibly less excited about the native plant sale this weekend.

    *Given I read it correctly, so there is a degree of plausible deniability in play here.

    Reply
    1. nippersmom

      Looking at the list at the bottom (granting I read it correctly, which is not a given) we seem to be in better shape than much of the rest of the state. Our biggest hit looks like it will come from farm crop yield, and the article read like that was based largely on corn and soy harvest conditions (again, my interpretation could be completely wrong). I think the planting you’ve been doing may help mitigate some of the effects in our little corner.

      I’m still looking forward to the plant sale.

      Reply
  25. Randy G.

    “Orcas baffle scientists by attacking boats…..”

    Orcas are intelligent creatures: apparently they’ve figured out exactly which species of sociopathic vermin is killing our planet.

    Reply
    1. sometimes susan

      I live in Victoria, BC where many whale watching high speed zodiac boats take tourists out into the Salish Sea. Until now I’ve called them ‘the whale frighteners’ but from here on in they’re ‘the whale aggravators’.

      Reply
    2. lyman alpha blob

      Very intelligent.

      I saw a documentary several years ago about a pod of orcas in Eden Australia who actually helped whalers catch other whales in exchange for being allowed to eat the tongue. The orcas would alert the whalers that there was another whale nearby and herd it into the harbor. The whalers would dispatch the whale and leave it overnight, and then the orcas would eat the tongue and leave the rest for the whalers. The arrangement worked well for years until one of the whalers tried to tow a whale in without leaving the tongue for the orcas and that was the end of that mutually beneficial relationship. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Killer_whales_of_Eden,_New_South_Wales

      Seems that orcas really can tell the good humans from the bad ones.

      Reply
      1. vidimi

        the freakiest and scariest thing I’ve seen orcas do is hunt poor seals on drifting ice: they synchronise to create a huge tide that sweeps the poor animal off the ice and into the deadly water. such evil cunning worthy of humans.

        Reply
  26. edmondo

    For Poor Countries, Gains in Education Are Not Matched in Income Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis

    I was just mentioning the same thing to my barista who has two master’s degrees and a sweet part time gig that she pays back her student loans making 9 bucks an hour.

    Reply
  27. barefoot charley

    My nephew finally explained QAnon to me. He’s a Burner, web addict and clever fellow who says it’s not even a Repug plot, but only a nihilist amusement from basement-dwellers inspired by such rot as the Illuminatus Trilogy, the compilation of conspiracy theory nonsense written in the 60s by a Playboy editor who’s article idea was rejected, Robert Shea, and acid-flaked trouble-maker Robert Anton Wilson. They stitched all the explanatory paranoid flotsam stirred up by the 60s into one great big joke, and were stunned to discover that many idiots took their jag seriously. How fun! The next generation’s nihilists are taking it to the next level. They’re way too smart to give a shirt about politics.

    Reply
    1. ChrisPacific

      As a number of articles have pointed out, the fact that a majority of Americans now get their ‘news’ from algorithmically-curated echo chambers on Facebook and social media is what allows this kind of thing to thrive. (That and the decline of, and resulting lack of trust in, traditional news media).

      The Crazy is always out there – the question is whether the conditions exist in your society for it to grow and flourish.

      Reply
    2. Aumua

      Haha comparing QAnon to Illuminatus! is really reaching. Maybe it’s like that, minus all the humor and creativity, and with a deadly serious agenda attached. Sure why not.

      Reply
  28. Mikel

    I’ve seen that the wildfires have raised concerns about climate change.

    And along comes a story like this:
    https://www.marketwatch.com/story/check-in-but-dont-fly-airlines-launch-flights-to-nowhere-2020-09-15?mod=home-page/

    “Singapore Airlines, for example, is considering launching a “flight to nowhere” from Changi Airport, starting in October. Basically, the passengers will board the plane, fly around for a few hours, and come back — a quirky round-trip that could also include staycations at the city’s hotels and limousine ferry rides, according to a report in the Straits Times….”

    Reply
  29. Sub-Boreal

    Since there seems to be a hardcore faction of soil fans in the NC readership, I note a new book which just launched: https://twitter.com/Anna_K_speaking/status/1306224910918971393

    I have nothing more to go on, so this is not a recommendation. So it could be mostly unreadable C.V.-roughage, given some of the obvious red flags evident in the ToC: “relational”, “epistemological work”, “alterity” etc.

    Still, when soil momentarily becomes a trendy thing, dirt-folk should probably not turn down the rare opportunity to bask in some benign attention. It will pass soon enough.

    Reply
  30. Grant

    “Business Roundtable to endorse market-based climate policy”

    Naturally, because market based methods are totally unworkable, unrealistic, could never deal with the complexity of the environmental crisis. There is no way to realistically pass ecological information through markets, there are clear limits to monetization, if we were able to price these non-market impacts accurately they would result in everything exploding in price and there are informational issues that cannot be overcome at the consumer/enterprise level when it comes to the environmental crisis. The Austrians liked to talk about informational issues during the socialist calculation debate, things a planning body would have to confront. Their critiques are even more damning when it comes to the market, consumers and enterprises. Whatever informational limitations a planning body has, it is a million times worse for consumers and enterprises, and there is no realistic way to overcome the informational problems.

    In short, they want to deal with the crisis in a way that they feel comfortable with, regardless as to whether it is actually workable and matches the scale of the crisis. They will simply oppose many of the things that we need to do, and people should put aside pretending otherwise. Market based methods are better than nothing, but totally insufficient.

    Reply
  31. Martin Oline

    I read the Microsoft pulls underwater data center back to the surface to assess benefits of deep-sea cloud article with some interest because, until now, I had assumed that “The Cloud” was in a building somewhere on the campus in Langley, Virginia. Maybe the George Bush Center for Intelligence. Hey, is that an oxymoron? That doesn’t mean it isn’t there, just that Microsoft is looking at alternatives.

    Reply
  32. rl

    An observation on economic recovery:

    My mother, a full time teaching assistant in a local elementary school’s special needs and disability classroom, has been put on a 14-day quarantine in light of her co-teacher’s positive test result. If she violates the terms of this quarantine, the county doesn’t pay her.

    Well, like many teachers and certainly like many “mere” teaching assistants in our nation’s public schools, she has a second job. 16 hours/week in a grocery store bakery. Grocery store management tells her: Take the time off, but if you don’t have a doctor’s note, you don’t get paid for those two weeks. No, the quarantine order from the county Board of Education, signed by your school principal, explicitly stating that if you are reported for breaking the mandatory quarantine, etc. etc., you will not receive your wages … is not good enough.

    At her hourly wage, this means she’s going to be short about $300 for the month. I am thankful that—this time—I can cover it for her from my own savings.

    But, point is: the data on the number of Americans who keep two or even three jobs to make ends meet = I can only infer that a sizeable chunk of the country has run into this Kafkaesque [familybloggery]. And it’s exactly the sort of thing that could and should have been anticipated by any policymaker on regular speaking terms with reality.

    Because this particular “loophole” = poor people are effectively taxed for nothing other than working multiple, generally high-exposure (schoolteacher, grocery store clerk …) jobs during a pandemic. Setting aside all of the other ways in which poor people were already taxed for living-while-poor; here you are also taxed for working-(your-life-away)-while-poor.

    That seems like something that even our friends in D.C., state capitols nationwide, and the MSM couldn’t be blind enough to overlook, or malicious enough to accept. But here we are.

    Reply
  33. Maritimer

    In my jurisdiction a lot of the Government’s Emergency measures may be illegal. I have heard two separate interviews with a former high ranking member of our Emergency, non-democratic government who has suggested this.

    Governments will act illegally until they are challenged in Court; there is no other way to stop the illegality. Unless they are challenged they just keep at it.

    So, depending upon the situation in your mother’s jurisdiction, she may have recourse to the Courts. The first tipoff is if the Government is acting under Emergency powers and refuses to pass specific legislation regarding Covid which is what is going on in my jurisdiction. They refuse to convene the Legislature because it is an Emergency. But for a number of their mandates, they have said they will not enforce them. A never, never land of lawlessness and murkiness created by Government along with all the Covid confusion itself. There are now a number of legal challenges in the Courts here but, of course, the Judges are creatures of the Government. Meanwhile if I do not feel the mandate is appropriate I do not obey it.

    Maybe check to see if any legal challenges underway in your or neighboring jurisdictions. I hope all can agree that citizens should have recourse to the Courts. Just my non-legal-professional experience.

    Reply
      1. anonymous

        I’m pretty sure her regular doctor or any doctor she has seen, shown a copy of the quarantine order, would provide a note for the grocery store that in his/her professional opinion, your mother should not be at work for that time period. If those doctors are unwilling, try calling a doctor affiliated with her county health department, or see if one of the parents at her school is a doctor, since that doctor would be aware of the quarantines and likely be glad to help. If nobody will provide a letter without a visit, she can schedule a televisit with a doctor or give an office advance notice so that she can be seen with precautions. Check her coverage and see if there would be a co-pay for a visit and, if so, how it would compare to the lost wages. I really would be shocked, though, if a doctor wouldn’t give her a letter without charging her or requiring a visit.

        Reply
  34. Olivier

    Does anyone know whether this Jason Gelinas of QAnon fame is a relative of Nicole Gelinas: a regular contributor to City Journal?

    Reply

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