2:00PM Water Cooler 10/2/2020

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By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Seems appropriate, especially since crows have consciousness


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

Here are the United States regions:

Flattening continues… Except for that unsightly uptick.

Here are the Swing States as I conceive them (see below):

Texas bounces (more data woes?), Wisconsin continues steady rise.


“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune

“They had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.” –Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord

The electoral map. July 17: Georgia, Ohio, ME-2 move from Leans Republican to Toss-up. Continued yikes. On July 7, the tossup were 86. Only July 17, they were 56. Now they are 91. This puts Biden at 278, i.e. over 270. August 18: Still no changes. August 31: Indiana moves from Likely to Safe Republican. September 9: No changes. September 14: No changes. September 21: No changes. September 22: Ohio moves from Toss-up to Leans Republican. September 25: Ohio moves from Leans Republican to Toss-up. September 30: Iowa moves from Leans Republican to Toss-up. For all the sturm and drang, and the polls, the consensus on the electoral college remains remarkably static: Biden ahead, Trump within striking distance. Of course, if Trump is still in striking distance on Election Day, that will count as a loss. Maybe.

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

The election countdown:

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

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

NEW “2020 General Election Early Vote Statistics” [U.S. Elections Project (SlayTheSmaugs)].

“How to Vote in 2020: Everything You Need to Know” [Bloomberg]. “Casting a ballot in the U.S. isn’t always easy, with a complex web of varying state rules governing how and when you can vote. The Covid-19 pandemic has introduced even more complexity in 2020, as many states have made significant changes to allow for more early voting or voting by mail. More changes could come as lawsuits in several states wind their way through the courts. That’s why Bloomberg News is answering these critical questions so you’ll know what you need to do to make sure your vote is counted in the 2020 election.”

Here are is an enormous spreadsheet on voting equipment, so you can check your own jurisdiction (hat tip, UserFriendly. I should really aggregate these onto a map…).

* * *
The Debates

“More than 73 million watch Trump-Biden debate; Fox News draws record 17.8M” [The Hill]. “The 73.1 million viewers for the event marked by dozens of interruptions and insults were almost 11 million fewer than the number who tuned into the first debate between Trump and Hillary Clinton.”

“Trump Fails to Impress Voters at First Debate Against Biden” [Morning Consult]. “Biden exceeded expectations for the debate: A Morning Consult/Politico poll conducted ahead of the event found Biden narrowly favored to triumph in the moderated discussion, with 44 percent of voters saying they expected Biden to perform best, compared with 41 percent who said they expected Trump to do better.” • Handy chart:

“Debates panel says changes under consideration ‘to ensure a more orderly discussion'” [The Hill]. “The Commission on Presidential Debates [CPD] sponsors televised debates for the benefit of the American electorate. Last night’s debate made clear that additional structure should be added to the format of the remaining debates to ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues. The CPD will be carefully considering the changes that it will adopt and will announce those measures shortly,” the group said in a statement.” • The CPD is a nonprofit established under the joint sponsorship of the Democratic and Republican duopoly. Whether the CPD “sponsors televised debates for the benefit of the American electorate” is open to question. I think the entire process should be handed back to the League of Women Voters, who used to sponsor them.

“Democrats see fundraising boom following wild debate between Trump and Biden” [CNBC]. “The Democratic fundraising website ActBlue processed close to $8 million between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET, according to the site’s live ticker. By 9:30 a.m. ET Wednesday, it showed that, since the start of the debate, at least $25 million had gone through the site to various campaigns and committees up and down the ballot…. As of early Wednesday, the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee and a representative for GOP donation website WinRed had not announced fundraising hauls. They did not return CNBC’s requests for comment on how much they brought in over similar time periods.”



Hard to believe German doesn’t have this noun compound already, but here we are:



Biden (D)(1): “Democratic nominee Joe Biden tests negative for coronavirus after potential exposure, Trump’s diagnosis” [CNBC]. “Democratic nominee Joe Biden has tested negative for the coronavirus, hours after President Donald Trump had revealed he tested positive.” • One test is not dispostive, of course.

Biden (D)(2): “Harris tests negative for coronavirus” [The Hill]. • Ditto.

Biden (D)(3): A pre-debate message to Pelosi:


Only $12 a pint, so if you amortize the $24,000 fridge…. Come on, man.

Biden (D)(4): And a message in the debate:


Well, so much for all those Task Forces….

Biden (D)(5): “How Biden Can Beat Trump” [The Onion]. • Go down the bullet list. It’s all been working brilliantly so far…

Biden (D)(6): Biden looks “comfortable in his own skin” as we used to say. Advance did a good job with the Amtrak car in the background:


If you don’t listen to what he’s saying (“plans” seems familiar…).

Trump (R)(1): “Turnberry hotelier tests positive for coronavirus” [Ayr Advertiser]. • Dry. Very dry.

* * *
“Electoral Chaos Might Ensue if Biden or Trump Is Forced Out of the Race” [Slate]. “The bottom line is that if a party nominee dies or withdraws after being officially nominated for office, the national political parties—the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee—can choose a replacement candidate. If there were enough time, that new candidate’s name could appear on ballots and the election would go forward. The problem here is that ballots are already out and millions of people have already voted. At this point it seems impossible for the parties to come up with a new name to replace Trump or Biden on the ballot without starting the whole election process over. This is not practically possible about a month before Election Day, and becomes less possible by the day. Congress could pass a bill delaying the election, but it is almost impossible to believe they would. While things are far from certain, what’s most likely is that the election would take place on time with the deceased or incapacitated candidate’s name on the ballot. Then there would be a question if legislatures would allow presidential electors of each state to vote for someone other than the deceased candidate, such as that candidate’s vice presidential selection, depending on who won the state. Only some state laws provide for this eventuality, allowing the votes for a named replacement to be counted. Some states have adopted the Uniform Faithful Presidential Electors Act, which leaves the question open, according to Jason Harrow, a lawyer who argued a recent faithless electors case in the Supreme Court. Another alternative is that individual state legislatures would seek to appoint electors directly. Here’s where it gets especially tricky….” • Oy.

This is — and I can’t emphasize the word “fortunately” enough — a parody:


Realignment and Legitimacy

Charles Booker would have won:


“Can an Algorithm Help Solve Political Paralysis?” [Scientific American]. “‘If you believe an ideal democracy involves informed deliberation among a representative group of people, the current electoral system fails on both counts,” says [Brett] Hennig, who has a Ph.D. in astrophysics. He believes something called ‘citizens’ assemblies’ offer a better way to elicit policies in line with people’s real interests—with a little help from an algorithm. Hennig explains citizens’ assemblies using simple logic: society is made up of people who are young and old, rich and poor, and mostly in between, so decisions governing it should more directly involve a group proportionally representing these kinds of characteristics. But because many ordinary citizens may lack technical knowledge of the issues at hand, citizens’ assemblies invite these individuals to make decisions in a ‘deliberative environment’—in which they can consult experts to “reduce the effect of biases, misleading information and ignorance” when learning about a problem and assessing possible solutions, Hennig says. From there, these citizens collaboratively craft recommendations for policy makers to consider….” • The algorithm looks like a sophisticated form of sortition. Can readers knowledgeable in statistics comment?

“Amerikan Musik: Fascism Ascendant in the USA” [NIna Illingworth]. • A collection of Illingworth’s post with an introduction to her oeuvre. I disagree with Illingworth’s thesis, partly because whatever else the Proud Boys may be [NSFW], they are not the “mass-based party of committed nationalist militants” that Robert Paxton considers a requirement for full-grown, fifth-stage fascism, and partly because I have not thought through the implications of my view that fascism first developed in the America, in the Reconstruction South (i.e., in the time of the first KKK, not the second one). Nevertheless, Illingworth is always worth reading and you should watch her.

“2020 Is Tumbling Toward 1917” [The American Conservative]. “But are we really so safe? In June, the great Russian literature professor Gary Saul Morson told The Wall Street Journal that America was starting to feel eerily familiar. ‘It’s astonishingly like late 19th-, early 20th-century Russia, when basically the entire educated class felt you simply had to be against the regime or some sort of revolutionary,’ he said. Even the moderate Kadet Party could not bring itself to condemn terrorism against the czar, any more than a modern Democrat could condemn Black Lives Matter: ‘A famous line from one of the liberal leaders put it this way: ‘Condemn terrorism? That would be the moral death of the party.” Today, the Resistance is already signaling that they won’t accept a Trump victory in November any more than they accepted one in 2016. After the last election, they attempted a soft coup by means of the Russiagate scandal and impeachment. What kind of coup will come next? By looking at the Russian precedent, we can evaluate the risk that this country might enact our own distinctively American version of 1917—and how close we have come to it already.” • Whatever else the Resistance might be, they’re not Bolsheviks. Indeed, if we accept Corey Robin’s definition of conservatism — “a meditation on lost power” — then the Resistance is conservative, with the lost power being the PMCs perceived right to rule, as expressed in Trump’s election.

“Inside the Dangerous Mission to Understand What Makes Extremists Tick—and How to Change Their Minds” [Time]. • Must we psychologize everything?

The Ratchet Effect:


“The Ratchet Effect” in this context from the late lamented blog, “Stop Me Before I Vote Again.”

You can check in any time you like:


Stats Watch

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

Leading Indicators: “25 September 2020 ECRI’s WLI Modestly Declined” [Econintersect]. “ECRI’s WLI Growth Index which forecasts economic growth six months forward declined but remains in expansion.”

Consumer Sentiment: “Final September 2020 Michigan Consumer Sentiment Improves” [Econintersect]. “The final University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment for September came in at 80.4, up from the preliminary of 78.9, up from August’s 74.1, and up from July’s final of 72.5…. Surveys of Consumers chief economist, Richard Curtin, makes the following comments: “Consumer sentiment continued to improve in late September, with the Sentiment Index reaching its highest level in six months. The gains were mainly due to a more optimistic outlook for the national economy.”

Manufacturing: “August 2020 Headline Manufacturing New Orders Improve” [Econintersect]. “US Census says manufacturing new orders improved month-over-month with unfilled orders shrinking modestly. Our analysis shows the rolling averages improved but remain in contraction. According to the seasonally adjusted data, the increase was widespread except for transport (civilian aircraft, ships and boats) which significantly contracted.”

Employment Situation: “September 2020 BLS Jobs Situation – Employment Grew 661,000 But Still Down 9,859,000 Year-to-Date” [Econintersect]. “The headline seasonally adjusted BLS job growth continues to show a very good job gain but on the low side of expectations, with the unemployment rate improving from 8.4 % to 7.9 %. Employment recovery from the coronavirus continues. However, readers are advised that the basis of the BLS numbers are from the middle of September (which are extrapolated to the end of the month). There was significant layoffs/furloughs announced late in September.”

“Unemployment Insurance Data Dashboard” [The Century Foundation]

* * *
Travel: “CDC extends cruise ship ‘no sail’ order through October” [NBC]. “Cruise ships will be barred from sailing in U.S. waters for at least another month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced late Wednesday, extending its “no sail” order through October. That’s a far shorter extension than what the CDC originally proposed to the White House coronavirus task force, which was that cruise ships should not sail until at least February…. The revised order mirrors actions taken by a trade organization representing the cruise industry, the Cruise Lines International Association, which announced over the summer that its members would suspend U.S. operations until at least Oct. 31.”

The Bezzle: “Uber Freight is getting new funding and fresh direction as its parent company copes with broader upheaval in its core business. Greenbriar Equity Group is leading a $500 million investment round in the truck brokerage arm of Uber Technologies… in an agreement that values the digital-freight business at $3.3 billion” [Wall Street Journal]. “The transaction comes as Uber pushes to cut costs in a ride-hailing business that has staggered under the pandemic and to complete a $2.65 billion all-stock deal to acquire Postmates. Uber has said it is looking at all of its businesses, and it’s adding two partners from transport and logistics-focused Greenbriar to Uber Freight’s board under the new investment. Uber Freight has grabbed market share with its load-matching app, but it lost $49 million in the second quarter on $211 million in gross revenue and the unit’s growth rate has slowed.” • I wish the rest of us could lose metric f*cktons of cash and get handed even more, like Uber does. It must be nice.

Manufacturing: “America’s troubled aerospace supply chains are tilting a bit more to the Southeast. Boeing is ending production of its 787 Dreamliner in the Seattle area after more than a decade…. and consolidating assembly of the popular wide-body jet in South Carolina next year. The aircraft maker is taking a reduced manufacturing operation from Everett, Wash., after slashing production because of the pandemic-driven drop in travel” [Wall Street Journal]. “The action will bring more manufacturing to the North Charleston, S.C., site along with deliveries of high-value aircraft parts. It isn’t clear how the shift will affect Boeing’s heavily unionized workforce in the Puget Sound region. Efforts to organize Boeing’s workforce in the right-to-work state of South Carolina haven’t succeeded. Boeing still produces wide-body 767s, 777s and 747s in Everett, but those assembly lines are slowing, with the 747 program set to end in 2022.” • The message to the workforce is clear: Doing quality work won’t help you. I don’t know if that’s a message that Boeing wants to be sending, but then I’m not a pencil-necked MBA performing a controlled flight into terrain.

Concentration: “The top of the K” [I’m Late to This]. “‘m not all that sure describing this recovery as K-shaped is anything other than a re-statement of the economy we were already living with before the pandemic. Haves and have nots and the way policy shapes the divergence between these two classes in America has been a consistent theme for the last few decades and it seems to be the world we’re barreling towards living in after this crisis ends, too. We choose to support some areas, leave others for dead, and call it the market system when the dust settles.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 41 Fear (previous close: 41 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 48 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Oct 2 at 1:16pm. Trump’s case of Covid put Mr. Market in fear.

Health Care

“‘Crazy Fast’ Vaccine Race Has Drug Companies Pushing Their Limits” [Bloomberg]. “Now, no less than four Covid vaccines are hurtling toward the finish line in the U.S. Moderna and Pfizer Inc., along with its German partner BioNTech SE, are leading the pack with vaccines that require two doses, while a single-shot vaccine from Johnson & Johnson began a late-phase trial last week. ‘This is beyond unprecedented,” says Otto Yang, a viral immunologist at UCLA. “It is crazy fast.’ There may never have been anything like this pedal-to-the-metal race in the history of vaccines. But will they work? And will enough people take them, especially amid the political turmoil surrounding their development? Safety problems are unlikely, but not unheard of.” • I think that fast is good. But I also think, as I have said, that the first batches should be tested on the electeds in Congress, the political appointees in the Executive Branch, and the President. I don’t think I had K Street on there. I should add K Street.

“This Overlooked Variable Is the Key to the Pandemic” [Zeynep Tukekci, The Atlantic]. “There’s something strange about this coronavirus pandemic. Even after months of extensive research by the global scientific community, many questions remain open…. I’ve heard many explanations for these widely differing trajectories over the past nine months—weather, elderly populations, vitamin D, prior immunity, herd immunity—but none of them explains the timing or the scale of these drastic variations. But there is a potential, overlooked way of understanding this pandemic that would help answer these questions, reshuffle many of the current heated arguments, and, crucially, help us get the spread of COVID-19 under control…. By now many people have heard about R0—the basic reproductive number of a pathogen, a measure of its contagiousness on average. But unless you’ve been reading scientific journals, you’re less likely to have encountered k, the measure of its dispersion. The definition of k is a mouthful, but it’s simply a way of asking whether a virus spreads in a steady manner or in big bursts, whereby one person infects many, all at once. After nine months of collecting epidemiological data, we know that this is an overdispersed pathogen, meaning that it tends to spread in clusters, but this knowledge has not yet fully entered our way of thinking about the pandemic—or our preventive practices…. The now-famed R0 (pronounced as “r-naught”) is an average measure of a pathogen’s contagiousness, or the mean number of susceptible people expected to become infected after being exposed to a person with the disease…. This highly skewed, imbalanced distribution means that an early run of bad luck with a few super-spreading events, or clusters, can produce dramatically different outcomes even for otherwise similar countries.” • This article is worth reading in full; I’m not sure I extracted it properly. “Over-dispersion” would seem to be confirmed by the study I posted in Links yesterday: “71% of infected individuals did not infect any of their contacts, while a mere 8% of infected individuals accounted for 60% of new infections.”

“Ophthalmology and COVID-19” [JAMA]. ” In the first preliminary study of characteristics of ocular findings among 38 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in Hubei province, China, Wu et al1 reported conjunctivitis in 12 (38%). Virus material also was detected on swabs of the conjunctiva among 2 of 11 patients (18%) tested for COVID-19 in this manner…. These findings meant that all health care workers needed to consider not only respiratory transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) from the nose and mouth but ocular transmission as well….. In another recent epidemiologic investigation, Zeng et al8 noted at the beginning of the pandemic in Hubei province in China that among 276 patients admitted to a hospital with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19, the proportion of patients who reported routinely wearing eyeglasses was lower than in the general population. These findings suggest a hypothesis that eyeglasses may be acting as a barrier that could reduce the frequency with which people touch their eyes.”

She’s right:

UPDATE “On the road with Operation Warp Speed, the U.S. COVID-19 vaccine effort” [Science]. The lead: “A hospital at the University of Cincinnati (UC) sits on a street named after Albert Sabin, who famously developed a vaccine against polio that has helped rid most of the world of this once widely feared disease. A unit at the hospital now has a similarly ambitious goal as it participates in the U.S. effort to find a vaccine against COVID-19. Last week, on 25 September, the leaders of Operation Warp Speed—the Trump administration program that has committed $10 billion to this vision—flew in from Washington, D.C., for a tour. After learning that the hospital had in about 3 weeks enrolled 130 participants in the multisite phase III efficacy trial of one experimental vaccine, the first question Warp Speed’s scientific director, Moncef Slaoui, asked was, ‘Do you have a good representation of diverse populations?'” • For more on Operation Warp Speed, see NC here.

Guillotine Watch

“When a $38,000 Chair You Can’t Use Is a Bargain” [Bloomberg (GP)]. “‘There’s been a collectible design market for a while, but I think it’s really spread and extended since 2010,’ says Mélanie Courbet, the owner of Les Ateliers Courbet, a design gallery in New York. ‘In some ways it follows the art market’s expansion, but there’s also more appreciation for design. People are educated about it and exposed to it.’ Le Gaillard says his business has grown about 20% annually for the past decade. And amid the pandemic, ‘the art and design collector market has stayed steady-ish,’ Courbet says. “The established, blue-chip segment of the collector market seems to have done pretty well under the circumstances.'” • I wonder what Christopher Alexander*, say, would think of this chair:

NOTE * Or Tom Lehrer: “They didn’t have a sofa, so they offered him… the chair.”

Class Warfare

Mass movement v. cooperatives (federated). Very interesting thread from Black Socialists. Here’s the start:


“Local Residents Express Concern Over Homeless Shelter Being Built On Their Planet” (podcast) [The Topical]. • And back here on Earth 1–

Listen for the word “class.” The whole thing is only 1:29–


Property values…..

News of the Wired

History major totally makes good:

Works for me (1):


Works for me (2):


2020 vision and all that…

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

Vlad writes: “Boletus edulis aka cep, porcini, etc.. Very good in all sort of dishes :)” I should probably advise you not to go picking mushrooms in the woods unless you are absolutely certain what you are doing…

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About Lambert Strether

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


    1. lyman alpha blob

      Ah here it is. I thought maybe Lambert took a bite of the antidote and wandered off to chase some unicorns.

    2. JacobiteInTraining

      *narrows eyes*

      …hey, you dont look like joe6pac….what have you done with him???

  1. Clem

    The difference between 1917 Russia and now is that the children and grandchildren of the Bolsheviks then are already here, and instead of allegedly being the poorest, are the most wealthy, with their revolution coming from the top down rather than the bottom up.

    1. Pavel

      After reading the tweet about Calif politics above, all I know about 1917 Russian politics is that no doubt ancestors of the Getty, Brown, Pelosi, and Newsome were running the show.

        1. AbateMagicThinking But Not Money


          In the Russian context I think the door to the ante room to hell opened earlier when the Czar was running a huge empire as an autocrat without a secretary, and engaged in war first with Japan, and later with Austria and Germany.

          From my reading about that period, I have to conclude that the military are de-facto revolutionaries-in-waiting. The Czar as general-in-chief destroyed his own regime, and the same is effectively true of the leaders of the concurrent empires of Austria-Hungary, and Germany.

          So, my view, militarism is revolutionary*, but paradoxically,
          order is a requisite of overall public health, and the military is the back-stop.

          Aside: Did America’s slide start when the Department of War, become the Department of Defense?


          *check out what it did to Japan!

    2. km

      One could say something similar about some Bolsheviks. V.I. Lenin was the son of a provincial school inspector, the civilian equivalent of an army general.

      One thing about Tsarist Russia was the Table of Ranks, so you always knew where a given person stood on the official pecking order.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > V.I. Lenin was the son of a provincial school inspector, the civilian equivalent of an army general.

        Lenin also had a law degree; I don’t know if he practiced. Many of the early Bolsheviks (Krupskaya, for example) began as teachers.

    3. shtove

      Our little nook in Dorset UK hosted some White Russians after 1917 – they had a mutual affinity for the local squirearchy, and later purchased the bones of our local murdered king – Edward Martyr (d.978) – for veneration, but only after the patriarchy ruled that England pre-1054 (year of the Great Schism) had been Orthodox, despite its adherence to the filioque heresy. Dig deep enough and you get into their notions of Moscow as the Third Rome.

      Sadly, no oligarch connections – except an 83m yacht previously owned by Alexander Dzhaparidze had to slum it at our local quay for the duration of lockdown. He sold it to a Kiwi billionaire, who had sold his two other yachts to another Russian oligarch. The yacht on the opposite quay was owned by a homegrown UK billionaire, but sadly his airport currency exchange business has just gone into administration. It’s all happening in Purbeck!

      1. skippy

        “Dig deep enough and you get into their notions of Moscow as the Third Rome.”

        Everyone fighting for where the space ship will land … even some in the good old USA.

        The Avalanches – ‘Frontier Psychiatrist’ – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLrnkK2YEcE

        Dovetails nicely with Lambert’s question about its overarching need in every situation.

    4. D. Fuller

      Good old Bolshevism. Still used money. Thus State Capitalists. Why, even their central committee members who controlled entire industries as monopolies, behaved like traditional monopolists in Capitalist societies. Fighting turf wars over who controlled what, backstabbing each other, etc.

      If you ever know an economist who really trusts you? They will admit that the US economic system is a thoroughly Communist system. The point of full employment is not full employment. The point of employment is to have workers pay taxes to fund the government. However, said taxes pay the debt and new debt is issued. Interestingly enough, deficit spending goes to pay for… tax refunds to major corporations who paid $0 in taxes. IBM is a fine example of 100% of their profits coming from a taxpayer refund for 1 year.

      For example, real estate developers are allowed to spread losses over a decade, in tax deductions. Literally, the US tax system reimburses such people for their losses. There are legitimate business expenses as tax deductions; and then there is government support of gambling by real estate developers.

      Defense contractors, banks, Big Pharma, the banks, Wall Street… all taxpayer & government supported. Amazon wouldn’t exist as a viable entity w/out government support through favorable tax laws.

      On another note? I have it from a US military member stationed in the Western United States, that certain US military units who would normally assist States such as WA, CA, and OR in fighting wild fires (especially when started on Federal lands) … that the military units were told to stand down. Combat engineering units are frequently used during fire fighting season. As can other US military units be tasked to fight wild fires.

      The only way to know for sure is to measure the numbers of military personnel and which units have been commanded to assist the States. And which have not. If it is there, it is there. If not? We’ll know.

    5. Mike

      The comparison to 1917 is entirely based upon a victory for the revolution. Let’s say this first uprising will be more like 1905. We have much to learn, the political lines are muddled, and they have far more weapons in deluded hands. Win over the military and neutralize the police, then talk 1917.

      As for the descendants of the 1917 uprising being here and wealthy, you’ve missed the boat by about 30 years of dictatorship. The original revolutionary leaders were all killed during Stalin’s purges and assassinations, and left behind debts, not wealth. The Bolsheviks you see are descendants of European parties already Stalinized to accept cash as a substitute for destitution and lack of power. Truly, the lack of historical understanding is deep and troubling. Bolsheviks were not the answer, and the best of them understood that well. Advanced capitalist countries of the time were the answer, and no backward, dependent country could substitute.

      I’m sure to get snide comments, but save it- I’ve already heard them before.

  2. lyman alpha blob

    Thanks for Mike Duncan in today’s News of the Wired. I highly recommend his podcast on Roman history – very informative and really entertaining too. Duncan has a great sense of humor about all the treachery, poisoning, backstabbing, adultery and murder.

    As far as bad rulers go, Trump has a ways to go before matching the likes of pretty much any of them. In fact I wouldn’t even compare him to any of the Roman dictators or imperators. I’d put Trump down as a modern day Catiline, who tried to be populist but was really just a power hungry bumbler who just couldn’t get out of his own way.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Thanks for Mike Duncan in today’s News of the Wired. I highly recommend his podcast on Roman history – very informative and really entertaining too. Duncan has a great sense of humor about all the treachery, poisoning, backstabbing, adultery and murder.

      Duncan’s Revolutions podcast is really good, too. It starts with Cromwell and now we’re at the Bolsheviks (a topic of discussion elsewhere in today’s comments).

      I think after Augustus History of Rome goes downhill. All the elite “treachery, poisoning, backstabbing, adultery and murder” starts to seem the same. It’s a long slog.

      Great point on Catiline!

  3. none

    These findings meant that all health care workers needed to consider not only respiratory transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) from the nose and mouth but ocular transmission as well…..

    Yeah this has been known for quite a while. About a month ago, Dr. Fauci advised people to wear goggles as well as a mask when out and about. I’d started wearing safety glasses a little while before then.

  4. Carolinian

    8% of infected individuals accounted for 60% of new infections.”

    Control the clusters and control the disease? Perhaps indoor social distancing really is the ticket. Worth pointing out that while the Swedes have never worn masks they allegedly were quite cooperative and rigorous about social distancing.

      1. flora

        Or, per the Atlantic article, identify and control the superspreaders via serious contract tracing. The Atlantic article was very interesting. Thanks. I kept thinking of the “Typhoid Mary” stories of yore. Good contract tracing might, *might* , be why some countries got on top of this better than others.

          1. anon in so cal

            I actually thought that contact tracing sought to learn how the individual contracted the virus in addition to learning whom they came in contact with subsequent to diagnosis. But apparently that has not been the case. Separately, the Japan policy article presents an overall ominous outlook.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              That was my understanding too. I guess the “index case” is the first in a group, meaning where you stopped tracing backwards??? Seems odd.

              And especially relevant in the case of Trump, since backtracing is exactly what we want to do.

    1. a different chris

      >the Swedes have never worn masks they allegedly were quite cooperative and rigorous about social distancing.

      Cooperative? My impression of the Swedes is that if they have to see more than 1 person every other day then it makes them angry. Why would you live in Sweden otherwise? :D

      So they didn’t have to change a thing.

    2. Count Zero

      In my limited experience, Swedes are pretty “rigorous about social distancing” at any time.

  5. fresno dan


    (from the article) It’s that Doug Parker is telling all of us – citizens and media alike – how to think about what an airline is. Doug Parker wants you to think that “American Airlines” is the financial health of AAL, the publicly listed company with its current debt holders, current equity owners, and current programs to programmatically offer cash and non-cash compensation to senior executives. He wants all of us to think that those things are synonymous with having functional, well-maintained airplanes, protected employees and route infrastructure capable of quickly ramping back up when the depression in air travel caused by COVID-19 subsides.

    And we’re buying it – hook, line and sinker.

    We don’t have to. As citizens, we can carry two ideas in our heads at once. We can believe that airlines are a critical industry, that its workers are important fellow citizens worthy of public financial support and that keeping them in the industry is an indispensable part of rapidly returning to full capacity. AND we can believe that literally none of that requires us to unconditionally support the share price, current equity holders or executive compensation expectations at AAL or UAL or any other airline.
    It is a strange thing, but a thing where people have been indoctrinated to believe it for decades. Government money used to support the 0.1% income and wealth (executives and shareholders) but the employees without support. As if it is physics, geology, or chemistry instead of POLITICAL DECISIONS with OUR money…

    1. Tom Doak

      The world would be so different without commercial air travel that it’s impossible to contemplate.

      Yet, we live in a country that insists on capitalism, while ignoring that an essential business like air travel is historically unprofitable. (Warren Buffet had a great line years ago that airline investors would have been better off if they had shot Orville Wright in 1903, but he’s doing very well with NetJets.)

      I agree with you that businesses should be allowed to fail and investors allowed to lose, as tgey have declared they can afford to do so. But I fear that air travel is about to become a privilege of the elite, if it wasn’t already.

      1. Phillip Allen

        It’s quite possible to contemplate a world without commercial air travel. The velocity of life will be slower. It will be much, much more local.

        Mass commercial air travel is a scheme without a long-term future in any case, given the foreseeable and inevitable constriction of the availability of fuels, raw materials to feed the necessary manufacturing processes, etc. Sooner or later all of the global arrangements we take for granted will and must come crashing down, and we will find anew old ways of doing things, and maybe, here or there, genuinely new ways of doing things. We could, as a species, decide to plan our path into that future with forethought and considerable conservation of resources – material, financial, and human. It’s more likely that we will shamble into that future chaotically, to great waste, pain and cost, but there we are.

        1. Wukchumni

          I flew maybe a million miles around this good orb chasing aged round metal discs in the 80’s & 90’s, but since 9/11 have only flown 3x domestically, as we were put off by rigamarole & drama that came on high.

          It was as if we were training for the advent of Covid and the end of commercial airlines as we knew them.

          They’ve been bailed out by governments so often, they think it’s their birthright, but that was then and this is now, adios.

          You can’t very well miss something you don’t bother participating in, and i’ll admit to being taken in at an early age @ LAX smelling the lofty air consisting of spent jet fuel, an ad hoc perfumery and/or airport.

          My sisters on the other hand are jet junkies, one has a couple million points and the other isn’t far behind, early on in the crisis they often waxed poetic about being up in the air, and I think they still get the shakes having come down to Earth.

        2. The Rev Kev

          Not that long ago I was making air trips down to Sydney to visit my aged mother. Looking out the cabin window, I often reflected how long a trip would have been by horse or wagon going from Brisbane to Sydney a century ago. Yes, trains and coastal shipping made the trips faster back then but if you were going to a place without either, then it was a bit of an epic journey. Consider the wagons trains crossing America back in the 19th century as an example.

          1. Tom Bradford

            it’s less than 150 years ago (148!) that Phileas Fogg made his bet that he could circumnavigate the globe in 80 days, and only just made it.

            Does the fact that anyone can now do it in less than two days make anything better?

          2. Wukchumni

            It’ll take me a week of walking around 10 miles a day in the High Sierra with about 35 pounds on my back to do 60, and on most any hwy in the state you can do that many miles in an hour in most any car.

            The saga of the early pioneers going out west in the 1840’s is remarkable. Until 1849 nobody went specifically for the gold rush, so it was an interesting mix with similar aims of what their California dream entailed.

          3. BobW

            My father was born in the Missouri Ozarks, in the early 1900s. The family got tired of raising a new crop of stones every spring, and moved to W Tennessee, which actually had some deep topsoil. They moved by wagon, and he said that going through a swamp in the bootheel of Missouri, they would sometimes camp within sight of the previous camp. Less than one hour by car, now.

        3. drumlin woodchuckles

          Part of getting ready would involve long distance rail travel restoration. And not white-elephant High Speed rail. Workhorse fairly-fast rail. The medians of all Interstate Highways could be retrofitted with strictly-passenger railways. It could be called Federail. Or even Amtrak if we upfunded Amtrak enough to run it.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > The medians of all Interstate Highways could be retrofitted with strictly-passenger railways.

            There will be curves that are too sharp, which would have to be handled…..

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              At-or-under what speed would those curves cease being too sharp for the train to take the turn? Would such turns be more take-able if passenger cars were shorter than what they are today, giving them a shorter turning radius?

          2. Basil Pesto

            why is HSR automatically a white elephant, given its success in Europe and East Asia? I’d’ve thought for a country as expansive as the US, a robust HSR network would be quite a boon.

  6. L

    On the Algorithmic model.

    I don’t have time to do a deep dive of the algorithm but I would like to offer a hot take. I think the approach could fall down in three places: complexity; databases; and assumptions.

    Complexity: In order for democracy to be a going concern then the process must be as legitimate to the public as the outcomes. The problem you have with any complex model for consensus building is that if the participants do not accept it, or cannot understand it, then it is not really democratic because they cannot meaningfully verify it. This is true of all the fancy crypto approaches to online voting, it is also true of other models. Standard winner take all voting is not pareto optimal, we know that. But neither is ranked choice voting. To get better you need to use a weighted method, but such methods fail to get through because then you need more complex models to calculate them and verify them and trust goes down proportionally.

    Databases: The model seems to rely on making a database of people and then choosing whom to invite based upon it. That will be a political nonstarter for most because it means that (a) you are making a national database OMG, mark of the beast… etc. and (b) someone gets to decide on invitations meaning that groupings are not by free choice (i.e. where you choose to live) but by an abstract model of where you belong. This point comes up in the article, and really there is no way to avoid it because of the next issue.

    Finally, Assumptions: This will take a bit more to pick apart but in general any model you make of the world has assumptions baked into it. This too seems to assume that we can be best grouped by demographic identity classes (admittedly that is consistent with how politicians view us) and that such groupings will be better. But to the extent any assumption breaks down, the whole model breaks down. So if, for example, people should really be aligned by exposure to pollutants for deciding on environmental issues, but we instead group them by race then we aren’t doing the very thing the algorithm purports to do are we?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thanks, this is really useful.

      The issue that complexity and trust are inversely related is a good one.

      Nevertheless, state lotteries provide a precedent. The draw would be bigger, and the people selected would need to be perceived (i.e., prepared by marketing and propaganda) as “lucky winners,” but I think the biggest problem would be framing being selected to do public service as winning.

      OTOH, the deliberative assembly concept dovetails neatly with citizen science, a hobbyhorse of mine…

  7. Arizona Slim

    My comments on that Section 8 video:

    I live just a few steps away from an apartment complex that rents to Section 8 tenants. Matter of fact, the whole complex is for low income people.

    Now, before we go any further, let me say that I am VERY sensitive to noise.

    Has this complex disturbed the peace of the Arizona Slim Ranch? I’ve been here for 16 years, and the answer is: Hardly ever. It’s a well managed complex. Has been for as long as I’ve lived here. If you’re not on your best behavior, the management will kick you out.

    1. marcyincny

      I’ll just put this here.

      We live in an old mixed neighborhood, low income to >$500,000 properties.

      Wednesday morning we had local police with their German Shepherd, state park police and state troopers running around, poking around in our outbuildings and shrubbery, looking for a young parolee who’d ‘escaped’ when two parole officers arrived at his apartment in the village.

      The police and the robot call from the 911 center made it clear that the fugitive was unarmed and was running around in his boxer shorts. (There was also another call when they had determined the fugitive had left the immediate area. He was finally picked up several hours later.)

      My point is that local residents here have familiarity with people of different backgrounds/classes and while we don’t see a lot of individuals in their boxer shorts being chased by the police, we don’t feel need to protect ourselves from what we don’t know.

      For the most part my neighbors took the morning’s events in stride.

  8. ShamanicFallout

    Re the Low Income Housing video

    James 2:13

    ‘For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy.
    Mercy triumphs over judgment’

  9. zagonostra

    >Bernie Burnout

    Having been so gungho on Bernie, below is very sobering and a good corrective for falling into the same trap.

    There are myriad real and pressing problems in need of resolution. And we can only solve them by replacing the existing order with social organizations determined to solve them. We, the left, had to try the bird-in-the-hand of electoral politics. But it didn’t work. In and of itself, that wouldn’t be sufficient reason to write the electoral route off. But what was illustrated is that not only is the electoral route not open to the left, but without a revolution to dislodge the power of capital first, it never will be. This capitulation is undoubtedly what the Democrats were hoping for. However, with a wall of foreclosures and evictions due early next year, and the total unemployed from the pandemic still in the multiple tens of millions of people, establishment politicians are about to get a taste of interesting times.


  10. none

    Ya know, I’m kind of surprised Trump didn’t get a vaccine some time ago. Maybe he did, and it didn’t work.

      1. John Steinbach

        This from the Washington Post”

        Trump has received an “antibody cocktail” treatment after testing positive for the coronavirus, and he is now “fatigued but in good spirits,” his physician said late Friday afternoon…. “The experimental treatment, a drug made by the pharmaceutical company Regeneron, is one of the most promising known, and experts say it could be the best bet for fighting the virus….

        “Trump is also taking zinc, vitamin D, famotidine, melatonin and a daily aspirin.”

        “Regeneron manufactures the drug, a cocktail of two monoclonal antibodies, from hamster ovary cells. It’s meant to reduce the virus’s lethality by boosting a patient’s immune defense. Early data from the drug’s trials are encouraging but preliminary. When it works, it can prevent an illness from progressing to the point where a person may need to be hospitalized or put on a ventilator.”

    1. flora

      I’m all for snark… yeh yeh… but not at car accidents or human suffering… not even if it’s T, not even as some sort of schadenfreude. Guess I don’t have an au courant sense of humor.

      1. richard

        me neither flora. the disease attacks us all; we can’t ever make common cause with it, in my mind anyway. this is one of the few times i’m willing to let T huddle in the second person plural with me. I wish him better health, and anyone else afflicted.

      2. Darius

        Can’t work up much sympathy for a guy who has acted like facing up to the pandemic is a forbidden admission of weakness. Adults are responsible for working out hang ups. Not acting them out on hundreds of millions of people with catastrophic and deadly consequences.

  11. Yik Wong

    California Political Dynasties: No wonder so many Chinese and Indian immigrants feel right at home there. Nice to see the Bush, Clinton take up where the Kennedy family left off in building the same for US National Office. What I suspect is the permanent state, mostly Mormon in the CIA, for example, is even more chock-a-block with nepotism.

  12. Lambert Strether Post author

    I added some orts and scraps; please refresh your browsers. (I had an enormous amount of material, since I’d accumulated a full batch yesterday before my keyboard failed, and then a full batch today. So a little bit of a pantry clearout.)

  13. fresno dan

    Mike Duncan
    Oct 1, 2020
    Replying to @mikeduncan
    You maybe have seen this going around (some of you have already tagged me about it), but The Simpsons is doing a Roman history themed episode this Sunday night.

    I, Carumbus! The Simpsons visit Ancient Rome this Sunday at 8/7c on FOX.
    I haven’t been this excited about something since….hmmm. Oh, I saw a fox in my backyard (not the network, a real 4 legged fox).
    The Simpsons may not be batting 400, but they still have have occasional good episodes.

    1. polecat

      I, CARUMBUS – Holy Toledo!

      Oh, to be a fly on Derek Jacobi’s couch about now …..

      …assuming he hasn’t yet met the Ferryman…

      1. Sailor Bud

        If they do a “poisons that lurk in the mud” or other such reference, I do wonder what percentage of viewers will get the joke. That series was in 1976, and it might be the most stagey miniseries ever, so maybe a bit inaccessible for general audiences now. Dunno. Will have to miss it anyway, since I don’t have a tv.

        1. polecat

          Have the series – on disc, so it’s all good! .. at least in this household, anyway’;]

          And yes, the poisons are seeming to hatch out – in spades!

          Who will be as our Clavdivs, recorded for the 2300’s ??

      1. The Rev Kev

        If you get really stuck, does your Mac have a virtual keyboard? Slow as hell but it would serve the job while you got a new keyboard. Blame Crapitalism.

      2. Procopius

        I dunno, do Logitech keyboards work with Macs? I’ve never had a problem with one except the letters wear off the keys. Not a problem with the Latin alphabet, but I’m not touch typing capable with the Thai.

  14. Lee

    Tax Justice Now interactive graph let’s you explore how a wealth tax would erode the wealth of the richest Americans (had it existed since 1982). Spoiler alert: we could have been taxing the hell out of the rich for the last forty years and the richest would still be rich.

    1. JBird4049

      But that’s the Dreaded Communism!

      You know… that thing were there are wait lines, shortages of things like medicine, food and toilet paper, mass destitution, corruption, and an all powerful police state, which the elites get all the comforts. We can’t have that, can we?

      1. Yik Wong

        I know a rabid Republican, who out of his government run high school went to work as a welder at a shipyard building warships, and then was a fireman after than for 30 years till he retired on his government pension. Then he opened a sweatshop in an empty bedroom using a robotic Brother sewing machine to embroidery logos for local teams, etc. I told him one day after his latest rant that it was bad enough he spent his entire schooling and productive years as a raging socialist, but to become a communist (owning the means of production) was a step too far, that I was reporting him to the party as a fraud. Didn’t make a dent because his real reason was the same as why he left the Episcopal Church of his ancestors and joined the Southern Baptist — He was a racist through and through who believe as was preached in the local pulpit blacks should be slaves or dead. Naturally he lacked the courage to really act on his beliefs, but put him in a large enough crowd of fellow travelers and watch out.

        Don’t take anyone’s message about values at face value.

  15. Bill Smith

    “Electoral Chaos Might Ensue if Biden or Trump Is Forced Out of the Race”

    I’d argue that being “dead” means that candidate is not qualified (according to the US Constitution) to be president. Thus the name on the ballot that got the next most votes and is qualified (not “dead”) would be the winner.

    1. D. Fuller

      I would expect that the VP-Elect would be next in line. Unless it is before the election. In that case, The RNC will choose the candidate as per party rules. Same with the DNC.

      Quite frankly, this election – like last election – reminds me of the geriatric Soviet leadership that preceded Gorbachev. Andropov, Chernenko, etc.

      The US is at that stage, complete with out of control military spending. One Soviet General after the collapse admitted that the real problem with the military were The Soviet Design Bureaus (equivalent to corporations) who fielded so many different types of equipment. The expense of maintaining six different tank types commanded more and more money. As with the Soviet Air Force, etc.

      The corruption embedded in The Soviet system is legendary.

      That’s 3 commonalities with The Soviet Union now extant in the American system.

      We all know how The USSR ended. I can assure you that right now, Russian analysts are attempting to determine when a Soviet-style collapse will occur within the US.

    2. edmondo

      “Thus the name on the ballot that got the next most votes and is qualified (not “dead”) would be the winner.”

      You are not that familiar with the US Constitution are you? It’s pretty clear that in the instance you describe that Pete Buttigeig becomes president.

  16. Wukchumni

    Aside from air that looks like any old day in LA in the late 60’s on account of so much smoke from the SQF fire, our conflagration is in the home stretch of being done, and they expect more or less full containment by October 10th, not that there won’t be assorted hot spots here and there to contend with until the first substantial storm comes along to put everything out.

    The latest development being a series of prescribed burns in the southernmost tier of Sequoia NP (which just reopened after a fortnight of being closed, btw) where the Ladybug & Garfield Grove trails are.

    You used to be able to go from the Ladybug trail (this was the original historic Hockett Trail which supplied the Cerro Gordo mine in the Owens Valley with supplies & food from Visalia by pack trains in the 1860’s) and connect with the Garfield trail, and then came the winter of record for the past century+ in 1968-69, which ripped out a bridge over the South Fork of the Kaweah River and said trail was abandoned. It’s easy enough usually to cross over the river sans bridge, and we’ve explored as far as we could, maybe a bit less than a mile on the old trail which is still somewhat distinct, but then ran into poison oak hell along with impenetrable bush, as in you ain’t going nowhere.

    But that was then and this is now, and everything looks to have been burnt up real good by the prescribed fire, and I might just be the first person to walk it in over half a century, sometime in the next year, the silver lining in what will be a 160,000 acre blaze.


  17. Noone from Nowheresville

    In honor of the American Crow & Birds in Art exhibit, may I present 2016’s Master Birds in Art: Karen Bondarchuk or rather her squarespace website

    In 2016, I got to see her Ergo Sum A Crow A Day exhibit in honor of her mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease. One of her very large dead crow sculptures from the Corvus Sculptures series made out of tires. Her Requiem (Fabric of the Cosmos) pieces which were funny, amazing and close to floor-to-ceiling in the atrium near the restrooms.

    The Three Disgraces and Betwixt contain some of my favorite crows from her collections.

    She works in many mediums but I’m very fond of large realistic piece and all of the puns and humor she works into her pieces. Such fun just like the crows themselves.

    Enjoy! I just revisited the pieces myself because I needed a break from the real world.

    ETA: Although not a crow Hubert is very nice as well.

  18. Michael Fiorillo

    “He (Kuwasi Balagoon) was imprisoned for a robbery in 1981…”

    That’s a hefty bit of elision, since he was a part of the bungled, incredibly stoopid – armed bank robbery in an area thick with cops and COs – 1981 Brink’s Robbery in Rockland County, in conjunction with the Weather (“You Don’t Need a Rectal Thermometer to Know Who the A*>holes Are”) Underground.

    The tweeted quote is inoffensive, but it’s flabbergasting to me that figures who represent the decayed, spasmodic half-life of ’60’s political battles (which the BLA and Weather Underground fundamentally were) are being put forward in contemporary struggles. That’ll really help build the Popular Front, now, won’t it?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > That’ll really help build the Popular Front, now, won’t it?

      I think the Black Socialists are pretty good (and Stalin was a bank robber too, so go with a winner, eh?)

      To me the point of the tweet storm is the argument that a mass movement — as, for example, a Popular Front — is not the way forward; cooperatives, which provide concrete material benefits and also prove by example that TINA is false, are. The Black Socialists have some skin in the game, in that regard. I also think this 198* material is far more cogent than anything than those self-induldent bougies, the Weathermen, ever produced.

  19. Wukchumni

    For $38k, you’d think an aggressively ugly faux mother of pearl chair would at least be connected to the IOT, but no.

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      I can see them clearly, with their own subreddit, an older chair logs on, “oh, the asses I’ve seen”.

      No. No. They don’t need internet access.

  20. Drake

    “Hard to believe German doesn’t have this noun compound already, but here we are”

    German doesn’t really need compound words for this sort of thing. “Unordnung” seems to convey the concept adequately, the lack of “Ordnung” being a pretty serious thing to the German psyche, so far as I can tell. But “Durcheinander” seems to be a rough equivalent to “clusterfuck”. Interestingly, it also seems to mean “stew”.

    I thought “Schlamassel” might be an compound word of similar meaning, but etymologically it seems to be a German borrowing from Yiddish, (ie, “shlimazl”).

    Of course, nothing prevents German from borrowing English words directly, as it has done countless times. Usually just stick a “Das” in front of it and you’re set.

    1. Tom Bradford

      Seems to me that ‘clusterfuck’ is just another word for ‘orgy’, and as at an orgy everyone gets what they’re after (or so I’m told) if in a somewhat disorganised way I wonder if it’s an accurate simile.

      1. flora

        No, it’s similar in meaning to the military slang acronym “fubar”: f*ked up beyond all recognition.

  21. allan

    Salish Lodge’s silence on coronavirus outbreak enrages guests, raises questions about when public should be told [Seattle Times]

    On Sept. 23, managers at the Salish Lodge & Spa learned of a COVID-19 outbreak at the luxury resort, that has now infected at least 23 staff members and two guests.

    On Sept. 26, Salish Lodge, on social media, told guests to “Come and enjoy our delicious mascarpone buttermilk pancakes.” The next morning they closed sit-down dining at the resort.

    On Sept. 30, Public Health – Seattle & King County sent out a news release announcing the outbreak at the resort. The health department said they were investigating. They said anyone who had been to the resort in the last two weeks should get tested for the virus, watch for symptoms and quarantine for 14 days.

    But the delayed announcement, a full week after the hotel said the outbreak was discovered, enraged some people who’d visited the lodge, unaware of the spate of infections hanging over their weekend getaway, and it came far too late for many to limit their social interactions after potential exposure. …

    In fairness to the Salish, its slogan is


    What could be more True Pacific Northwest, the land of Amazon and Microsoft, than We Don’t Care ?

  22. David J.

    The Univ of Cincinnati/Sabin story sparked some some really fond memories. It’s a tenuous connection but I thought I’d share.

    When I was in college at Miami University in Ohio, my best friend and roommate was gifted a cat by his sister. The cat was named Sabin. Sabin was special.

    We lived a couple of blocks from a large grocery store. Sabin would walk over with us, then patiently wait outside next to the coin-operated news stands until we came out and would walk back with us. Didn’t matter that there were tons of people coming in and out of the store. Didn’t faze her at all.

    I often used to ride my bike in to classes. Campus was about a mile away. When I was running a bit late I’d be pedaling like crazy to get to class on time. On more than one occasion I’d look back and Sabin would be galloping behind me, halfway there. Had to turn around and lead her back but I couldn’t help but laugh when this happened.

    This next bit went on for a few months until we figured it out. My roomie or I would be heading out the door and there Sabin would be, sitting outside waiting to get in. We both would think, “Well, [roomie] must have let her out earlier.” Not so. Our apartment was on the third floor and we had a balcony. Sabin would go out on the balcony, jump down to the air conditioner halfway to the second floor, then back off the a/c, doing one of those crazy cat contortions mid-air and then land on the balcony below us. Then repeat again until she got to the ground. What an escape artist! Once we caught her in the act, we let her keep doing it because it was a Cat Feat! Had to put the kibosh on it after we got a couple of kittens and found one of the little ones doing a dangle, trying to emulate Big Sis Sabin.

    God, I loved that cat!

    1. HotFlash

      thank you for sharing your fond memories of Ms Sabin, and a deep bow to her ladyship. Sounds like she must have been one helluva cat.

  23. Darthbobber

    The McGrath ad. Fighter pilot lady continues to flail uselessly. The only question at this point is the over/under on McConnell’s margin. High single or low double digits? And the donor gang ponied up around 40 million in the primary to saddle their party with this flotsam.

    This race doesn’t even make anybody’s ten most likely to flip lists.

    1. JBird4049

      The true purpose of McGrath’s candidacy is not to win the seat of one of the most unpopular, yet powerful, politicians in the Senate.

      Like with old Joe, the assumption that they want their Manchurian Candidate to win is not necessarily correct.

      Ad time, donations, the emotional agitation of the marks supporters, and the blocking any candidates that might interfere with the gravy train is the true goal.

  24. Katiebird

    CBS just broke in with news that Trump is on his way to Walter Reed Hospital. A helicopter is landing on White House lawn now.

    1. Alex Morfesis

      el donaldo to do his best fred g sanford….clutching his chest and sayin he coulda been a contenduh…to deal with failing polls ?? and give himself a clean out from the election…always able to say he wooda one had that darn chinese thingee not kicked in, and then roils the party from the outside with his don-botz, doing his best Taft family rope-a-dope for the next decade ?? Using his noise factory krewe to win chips by helping candidates win local elections ??

      or he could be doing a deng xiaoping, to see who will turn on him if they think he is down and out and possibly gone…how many times was deng on his death bed, only to have others die in their beds when he magically recovered…???

      or sometimes a cigar is just a cigar…

    2. allan

      Larry Kudlow has said that POTUS has a `very moderate’ case,
      so, given Kudlow’s history, it’s probably time for FOX, VOA and NPR to interrupt regular programming
      and start playing Chopin.

      1. JBird4049

        If Kudlow said that sky was blue and the hills green, I would check. Although to be fair both are brown where I live. He has only been consistently wrong about the economy for the thirty plus years I have been seeing or reading him on screen

      2. D. Fuller

        On the extreme? A palace coup could be underway. Such is a very remote possibility. The terms of the coup would have to be ironed out before Trump stepped down. However, again? This is an extremely remote possibility.

        What is not a remote possibility? Trump is dodging the debates seeing how a lot of independents that Trump & Biden are attempting to entice? Are now turned off by both. Thus narrowing the conditions for victory by either side. In other words, the pool of swing voters just got smaller and it makes either side, very nervous. Especially Trump.

        Any trips by Trump to Bethesda recently? If not? The the chances of him faking it are greatly increased. BoJo got a sympathy vote from some after he recovered from his bout of Covid-19. I would never put it past Team Trump to pull such a stunt.

        Already, over 50% of either’s supporters do not like their candidate. Quite a few of those would have been turned off from voting. The advantage is Trump’s in this instance as his voters are much more committed.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        For all of the talk about Trump not “respecting the election”, the certainty of Pence doing this is 100%.

        1. edmondo

          JFC – Biden is barely leading in the polls against someone who is mentally unbalanced and the entire establishment has been demonizing for 4 years. What are the chances that he could beat a generic Republican?

          What policies?

    3. markodochartaigh

      A blessing for tRump in this time of his physical illness. May Donald live a thousand years… so that he can finish his prison sentences!

    4. Lee

      Doctor Jha on PBS Newshour expresses concern at the rapid onset of more serious symptoms.

      There are now a number of cases in Trump’s inner circle and in the upper echelons of the Republican party.

      Pinetta and Woodruff blathering about foreign “bad actors” taking advantage of the situation. LOL. We seem perfectly capable of self destruction. Why interfere?

      1. Mikel

        “Pinetta and Woodruff blathering about foreign “bad actors” taking advantage of the situation…’
        Psyco Projecting.

      2. pjay

        Andrea Mitchell used the same “foreign ‘bad actors'” line on the NBC News. Must be an intelligence community talking point.

        I hope Trump brought his food tasters with him.

        1. edmondo

          You won’t think its funny when the Venezuelan army comes marching up your street and forces you to buy crude oil. (Un)Fortunately, my little town probably has more guns than the Venezuelan army does.

          1. Paradan

            Chavez bought assault rifles for every village r(seriously like millions of rifles, neocons threw a fit), and they have some kind of citizens militia thats tied in with the army. All done to specifically make a US invasion more fun.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Dems better hope Trump survives because Biden loses to whoever replaces him.

        Yes, there’s a good chance of that. I don’t know the actual mechanism by which that happens or who would initiate it. Not the Never Trumpers, they lost their chance. McConnell?

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Am I wrong to assume that the Never Trumpers would be perfectly okay with a Candidate Pence?

          In the same vein . . . am I wrong to assume that lots of Democratic Officeholders would be perfectly okay with a President Pence?

  25. anon

    This is the reason we should not elect 70+ y/o who are more likely to have medical issues/complications. It also indicates that a negative test today does not mean you will be negative tomorrow or were not infectious the day before.

  26. Pelham

    Re the debate: I see that Telemundo polled Hispanics afterward and 66% said they thought Trump won. 66%! Of course, I guess that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to vote for him.

    1. D. Fuller

      Since the 1986 headlines first proclaimed a demographic shift in favor of Democrats after Reagan signed immigration reform? Democrats have been chasing that illusion of sorts.

      Forgetting that Hispanics are? Religiously Conservative. The Cuban vote in Florida regularly goes Republican.

      Democratic Misleadership has been hitting the demographic pipe dream for over 30 years. Yes, they do usually get more of the vote? But that does not mean that small percentage shift in Minority voting do not occur. Because they do.

    2. Tom Bradford

      Civilised debates a’la Oxford University are a very Anglo-Saxon thing. What little I saw of the debate reminded me of the proceedings in any market in any Mediterranean nation!

  27. landline

    50% chance that Pence will be an especially busy fellow this month. A VP debate on Wednesday, even though he may no longer be the VP, and then two Presidential debates later in the month. Will he pick Ivanka as his VP?

  28. Pelham

    Putting down my marker: Trump and Melania don’t really have the virus. They’re using it as an excuse not to campaign and thus hand the election to Biden/Harris with minimal embarrassment since Trump was going to lose anyway.

    1. Mikel

      Hypothetically (playing along with the “not real” assumption), I would see it more as ploy to become the authoritative voice on all things Corona.
      As in “get out there you pleebs and get to work and shopping” for the billionaires.

      He would never trust what polls are saying about the election. Polls by the media would mean zilch.

  29. ewmayer

    “Hard to believe German doesn’t have this noun compound already” — Closest analog I can think of is Schlamassel, a mess, a shitstorm. Note the Germans may love their compound nouns but don’t go out of their way to create such when a shorter word expressing precisely what is meant exists.

    I always considered Schlamassel as a possible origin for the Yiddish shemozzle, “a state of chaos and confusion; a muddle.” It certainly seems as or more plausible than what my dictionary suggests:

    ORIGIN late 19th cent.: Yiddish, suggested by late Hebrew šel-lō’-mazzāl ‘of no luck.’

  30. hunkerdown

    Emphasis mine:

    With the 25-year deal with China now moving ahead at pace, Iran has a buyer for all of the crude oil it can produce, albeit at discounted levels, so Tehran is pushing oil field development across the board. This includes not only the major fields in the huge West Karoun cluster – across which China has pledged to increase collective output by at least 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) within the next two years – but also the more challenging fields that nonetheless are rich in oil, especially those that are shared with Iraq. In order to meet these challenges, Iran is resuscitating a program of engaging top domestic universities to work on the scientific challenges of increasing recovery rates, in addition to utilizing human, technological, and financial resources from China and Russia as and when required, with the Azar field being a test-case for such co-operation.

    Directional drilling to steal Iraq’s oil again?!

  31. anon in so cal

    >Biden and Amtrak

    Reminded me of how Biden got Hunter Biden’s drug conviction expunged at the same time he was pushing mass incarceration and mandatory minimums for everyone else. Sanitizing Hunter’s record allowed Hunter to get a lucrative position on the board of Amtrak.

    “Joe Biden’s son Hunter was arrested on Jersey Shore drug charges in 1988 and had his record expunged at a time when his father was pushing for the incarceration of drug offenders drawn disproportionately from minority groups….

    ….Biden of Delaware was one of the leading advocates of the federal government’s war on drugs. He abandoned his 1988 presidential run, in which he stressed his law-and-order credentials, after a plagiarism scandal. He crafted the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, which imposed significantly harsher sentences for possession of crack cocaine versus powder, a law that critics argue increased the racial disparity in prisons. He also wrote bills leading to the appointment of a national drug czar and increasing mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes….

    ….Five months after his son escaped a sentence and had his possession charge kept secret, Biden voted for the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, which made crack cocaine, often used by poor, black offenders, the only drug with a mandatory minimum penalty for a first offense of simple possession.

    But while many minorities were imprisoned for minor drug offenses, the wealthy, white Hunter Biden was allowed to participate in a state diversionary program called pretrial intervention. The program allowed first offenders to “avoid a trial and having the stigma accompanying a guilty verdict…”


  32. Wukchumni

    Good old Bolshevism. Still used money. Thus State Capitalists. Why, even their central committee members who controlled entire industries as monopolies, behaved like traditional monopolists in Capitalist societies. Fighting turf wars over who controlled what, backstabbing each other, etc.

    The Soviet bloc party used money but with a twist in that it had official exchange rates within a country, but not so much in the west, My parents bought Czech Korunas from a bank in Vienna in the mid 1970’s for 30 to the $ when the official rate was 12 to the $, but my mom told me even with the advantageous rate of exchange, the stores were full of nothing, and the one item you could buy was leaded glass crystal this that and whatever-and if you aren’t into that good luck.

    They never bothered trying to do future arbitrage FX deals, why bother?

    In fact, just the opposite happened when they’d figure them for foreigners and Americans in particular, damn near everybody in Prague and elsewhere in their travels wanted their Dollars, Deutschmarks, Pounds and any other western currency that would allow them to buy groovy consumer goods-certainly not available in regular places, at a store called Tusex that only took hard currency, not communist play money, which getting rid of was almost a national pastime.

    They went back to the old country most every year for a few decades after he went back the first time in 26 years, after having left in 1947.

    1. vlade

      Almost :).

      Tusex was Tuzex . Technically, there were only very limited circumstances under which you could own hard currency (i.e. not a USSR bloc one, but really, anything else than Czechoslovak Koruna). If anyone received hard currency, they were legall required to give it to the state in exchange for Tuzex vouchers. Which meant that you had old ladies that were receiving their husbands pension say from the US or Canada (there was a lot of people from Ruthenia, part of which now eastern Slovakia who emigrated to the US/Canada in 1920s), standing before Tuzexes selling the vouchers on a black market (later selling directly to the black marketers).

      TBH, the whole Soviet block was fun, as you had various good shortages (the toilet paper shortage earlier in the US? At least annual occurence, running sometimes for months), but the weird thing was that each country had different shortages. But it was not easy to travel even within the Soviet bloc (an even worse travelling to the US. You needed a special permit for that, and had a designated marshroute you were not allowed to deviate from on the way to your destination), so there was often “tourism” which was really massive shopping trips. For example, Hungary had better food provisioning (you could even buy Coca Cola!), Poland had clothing, shoes and some electronics, Czechs had bikes, motorbikes, cars and parts for all this + some other electronics etc. Because of only limited means to exchange the currencies, a lot of those shopping trips were really barter trips. You loaded on the goods in your country, sold them on arrival, and with the proceeds purchased what was there. For example, I remmeber us travelling to Romania, stocking on sherbets, chocolates and some similar, selling them at the camp, and buying clothes (including my winter coat which looked cool to me at the time as it was shiny and glossy – made of some totally unbreathable plastic)

      Of course, some people made a decent living off all this (unofficially).

      When the regimes fell, some of the first trips people took to the West were literally massive shoppning trips, often just oggling in the shopping centres (because they could not afford much).

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