2:00PM Water Cooler 10/21/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Patient reader, this Water Cooler is a bit light, because I have more posting to do. –lambert UPDATE All done!

Bird Song of the Day

A robin, and lots of other chatter.


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:

Still rising, if anthing faster. Gonna be interesting to see what happens if the virus is really cranking in November or December, and the FDA says a vaccine is ready…

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

Unmistakable rise everywhere. Including Texas, which alas seems to have straightened out its data problem, in the past few days.


“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. October 3: Indiana moves from Safe to Likely Republican; Iowa moves from Toss-up to Leans Republican. October 6: Arizona moves from Toss-up to Leans Democratic; Iowa from Leans Republican to Toss-up; Indiana from Likely to Safe Republican; New Mexico from Likely to Safe Democratic. October 8: NE-2 moves from Toss-up to Leans Democratic. October 13: Indiana moves from Likely to Safe Republican. October 16: Indiana moves from Safe to Likely Republican. October 19: No changes.

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.

“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…).

“2020 General Election Early Vote Statistics” [U.S. Election Project].

“California Ballots Mailed and Returned Tracker” [Political Data]. • California only, sadly.

“Where’s My Ballot?” [Alex Padilla]. “Tracking your vote-by-mail ballot—when it is mailed, received, and counted—has never been easier. The California Secretary of State is now offering Where’s My Ballot?—a new way for voters to track and receive notifications on the status of their vote-by-mail ballot. Powered by BallotTrax, Where’s My Ballot? lets voters know where their ballot is, and its status, every step of the way.” • Ballottrax. Shoulda gone long….

“State Fact Sheets” [Georgetown Universitty]. “[F]act sheets for all 50 states explaining the laws barring unauthorized private militia groups and what to do if groups of armed individuals are near a polling place or voter registration drive.”

All the deadlines, rules, and voting hours to know when casting your ballot in the 2020 presidential election” [Business Insider]. “Here are 12 interactive graphics, charts, and maps Insider created to answer your most common questions about voting in 2020.”


Swing States

Here is my list of Swing States, with votes in the Electoral College and selected ballot initiatives in parentheticals):

  • Arizona (11) (marijuana; taxes(=)
  • Colorado (9) (taxes, lottery, abortion, paid medical leave)
  • Florida (29) (minimum wage)
  • Georgia (16) (declaratory relief)
  • Iowa (6) (Constitional convention)
  • Maine-02 (1) (vax)
  • Michigan (16) (oil and gas royalties; privacy)
  • Minnesota (10)
  • Nebraska-02 (1) (payday lending; gambling)
  • Nevada (6) (marriage)
  • New Hampshire (4)
  • North Carolina (15)
  • Ohio (18)
  • Pennsylvania (20)
  • Texas (38)
  • Wisconsin (10)

Inspired by the thread starting with Arizona Slim’s comment here, I went to Ballotpedia and added selected, hopefully hot button, ballot initiatives, because sometimes they affect turnout. If you live in a swing state, please comment if I got the hot buttons wrong!


UPDATE Still a horse race, then?

A candidate with a muddled message, a poor economy, dragging a pandemic; it’s amazing Trump is doing as well as he is. But a lot more has to break his way than it did in 2016. (Note, however, that Biden still has not visited Texas; Florida and Texas for Biden would put it way for him on election night, although there are other paths for that.)

* * *

Biden (D)(1): “Biden Looking to Longtime Aide Ron Klain for Chief of Staff” [MSN]. “Allies point to Klain’s Ebola-response and economic-recovery work as especially relevant, given that Biden would be tackling coronavirus and the resulting economic downturn upon taking office. He’s widely respected by Democrats across the party’s ideological spectrum and progressives say they would be comfortable with him in that role. Others under consideration include Steve Ricchetti, also a former Biden vice presidential chief of staff and chairman of his presidential campaign, and Jeff Zients, a co-chair of Biden’s transition team. But Klain, who first worked for Biden during his short-lived 1987 presidential campaign, has the candidate’s trust and more pertinent experience than anyone else who might be considered for the job, the people said.” • Obama’s economic-recovery work has been more than sufficiently airbrushes, so I don’t we need further efforts in that regard, fortunately.

Biden (D)(2): “Obama goes full throttle for Biden” [Politico]. “[H]ere were lots of logical states for Joe Biden to roll out the biggest weapon in his campaign arsenal. But he chose to deploy former President Barack Obama to Pennsylvania for the latter’s first in-person event in 2020, perhaps the clearest sign yet that Biden’s team sees the state as the most important piece of the Electoral College map. On Wednesday, Obama will hold a drive-in rally in Philadelphia, and he will talk directly to Black voters — and Black men specifically — according to the Biden campaign. The former president is also expected to discuss the importance of making a plan to vote early.”

Biden (D)(3): And speaking of talking directly to Black people:

UPDATE (D)(4): Iconic:

“Birthday girl” [squeeeeee]. I will never understand this attitude…

UPDATE Biden (D)(5): NSFW:

Buttigieg (D)(1): “Foreign Policy for a New Era? A Conversation With Pete Buttigieg” (upcoming call) [Foreign Policy]. • They’re sure pushing this guy…

Trump (R)(1): ‘Former RNC chairman endorses Biden with two weeks left in the election” [CNN]. • Rats leaving the sinking ship.

Trump (R)(2): “Lawyers spurn Trump campaign in individual donations, including from Jones Day” [Reuters]. “Lawyers at Jones Day, which has earned millions as outside counsel to U.S. President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, have donated nearly $90,000 to the campaign committee of Trump’s Democratic rival Joe Biden. Contributions to the Trump campaign by Jones Day lawyers totaled just $50, records show.” • More rats….

Trump (R)(3): “GOP pollster Luntz blasts Trump campaign as worst he’s ever seen” [The Hill]. Luntz: “It is the worst campaign I’ve ever seen and I’ve been watching them since 1980. They’re on the wrong issues. They’re on the wrong message. They’ve got their heads up their assess. … Your damn job is to get your candidate to talk about things that are relevant to the people you need to reach. And if you can’t do your damn job then get out.” • As Yves points out, without crowds, Trump can’t do A/B testing, which is what allowed him to craft his populist message in 2016. Anyhow, another rat, though I have a sneaking fondness for Luntz…

UPDATE Trump (R)(4): “Who are the first time Trump voters?” [NBC]. “In dozens of voter interviews across six battleground states over the past few months, efforts by NBC News to find first time Trump voters have largely come up short…. While anecdotal, NBC’s difficulty finding new Trump voters on the campaign trail highlights the president’s struggle to expand his coalition beyond his base supporters.” • Either that, or Trump supporters aren’t helping out somebody perceived as an enemy; which would go for pollsters, too. We’ll soon know!

* * *

PA: “Supreme Court Tie Gives Pennsylvania More Time to Tally Some Votes” [New York Times]. “The Supreme Court’s action was the result of a deadlock. It takes five votes to grant a stay, and the Republicans who had asked the court to intervene could muster only four: Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh. On the other side of the divide were Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and the court’s three-member liberal wing: Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Neither side gave reasons. The result suggested that Judge Amy Coney Barrett, whom President Trump nominated to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg after her death last month, could play a decisive role in election disputes.” • I don’t think Roberts wants another Bush v. Gore, and will do what it takes to prevent it, ideally by diverting any such cases from the Court entirely (unless one candidate wins decisively, of course).

UPDATE “Infirm of purpose! Give me the daggers!

Our Famously Free Press

Platforms at work:

Get used to it:

What, they aren’t already?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The Unlikely Coalition That Made the New Deal (with Thomas Ferguson)” [YouTube]. Grab a cup of coffee:

“Stepping Back From The Brink” [William Lind, The American Conservative]. “There is nonetheless a more portentous question facing our country: do politics stay within the banks of the political system or do they overflow those banks and inundate daily life? The answer to that question may lead to another: do we remain the United States or will the astonishing disintegration of the Soviet Union be followed by the even more astonishing disintegration of our own country? Why are we faced with these questions? Because all around the world the state is in decline. The decline is steeper in some places than in others, but it is occurring almost everywhere. Why? Because many of the elites that run states have disconnected themselves from the rest of the country. Their culture and values are hostile to the beliefs of their non-elite countrymen. They suck money and power out of the rest of the country and use them solely for their own benefit. And they care about only one thing: remaining the elite. These behaviors generate a growing crisis of legitimacy for the state the elite controls. People come to see the state as a racket. When people give up on the state, politics flow out of the system and into the streets.”

“Diddy Reveals Launch of Black Political Party Called Our Black Party” [Complex]. Hmm:

“I’m launching one of the boldest movements that I’ve ever launched. It’s called Our Black Party. It’s time for us to have our own Black political party—unapologetically. Because right now, if you look at the debates, we’re not even a part of the conversation. We don’t have any political power, we don’t have any political leverage and so we started our Black party with some young, fearless Black activists, elected officials, and I’ve stepped up and put the money behind it.”

He made similar remarks on Twitter, opening with, “The NUMBER ONE priority is to get Trump out of office. HE HAS TO GO. We can’t allow this man to continue to try and DIVIDE US. The people that have the most responsibility and should be SCARED TO DEATH of this man are white people. WE ARE ON THE VERGE OF A RACE WAR.”

Diddy also endorsed Biden, but let everyone know that if Biden is elected, he will be held to a higher standard: “We need to get Biden in and hold him accountable. Trump has taken things too far. As Black people, we aren’t even a topic of real discussion. We can no longer stand for doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. That’s insanity! It’s time we unify.”

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.

There are no statistics of note today.

* * *

The Bezzle: “Blank-Check Company Deals Driven by Speculation, Chanos Says” [Bloomberg]. “The surge in blank-check company deals is a sign of unfettered speculation and investors may see lackluster returns from these offerings, legendary short-seller Jim Chanos said…. Chanos, the founder of hedge fund Kynikos Associates Ltd., said ‘academic work has showed us that the return of special purpose acquisition companies is not only bad relative to the stock market, it’s even worse than initial public offerings. That hasn’t stopped people from getting excited and throwing money.'”


Fodder for the Bulls: “A blue wave on Election Day may unleash $2.5 trillion in stimulus, Goldman Sachs says” [Yahoo Finance]. “Break out those shovels, picks and the debit cards if a blue wave of Democrats washes into D.C. come Election Day. Goldman Sachs said Monday in a new note that a blue wave could lead to a whopping $2.5 trillion new stimulus plan. “This would likely include a stimulus package in Q1, followed by infrastructure and climate legislation. In this scenario, we would expect legislation expanding health and other benefits, financed by tax increases, to pass in Q3,” explained Goldman’s Jan Hatzius. Hatzius further tossed his hat into the debate on whether presidential hopeful Joe Biden’s proposed tax hikes on corporations and those earning more than $400,000 a year would help or hurt the economy.’We recently analyzed the implications of a fiscal program similar to the Biden campaign proposals and found that the boost to growth from fiscal stimulus would outweigh the negative effects of tax increases, particularly in light of the fact that the increased tax revenue would go to fund new spending.'” Hatzius added.” • So Goldman is anti-austerity….

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 64 Greed (previous close: 58 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 56 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Oct 21 at 1:15pm.

The Biosphere

“The next environmental crisis could be in space” [Axios]. “Last week, two inoperative satellites nearly collided in orbit, an event that is becoming more common as debris builds up in space. While there are recommendations in place to help govern when and how satellites are de-orbited once their operational lives are over, it’s not enough, according to experts. Rocket Lab’s CEO Peter Beck told CNN his company is already having trouble finding safe ways to launch its customers’ satellites in part because of the huge number of spacecraft and junk already in orbit. A new report on space junk from the European Space Agency last week found the disposal of defunct spacecraft in orbit is getting better, but it is happening at a slower pace than needed.” • Must we sh*t in our own nest?

Health Care

“Low-dose hydroxychloroquine therapy and mortality in hospitalised patients with COVID-19: a nationwide observational study of 8075 participants” [International Journal of Microbial Agents (anon)]. From the abstract: “In Belgium, off-label use of low-dose HCQ (total 2400 mg over 5 days) was recommended for hospitalised patients with COVID-19. We conducted a retrospective analysis of in-hospital mortality in the Belgian national COVID-19 hospital surveillance data…. In Belgium, off-label use of low-dose HCQ (total 2400 mg over 5 days) was recommended for hospitalised patients with COVID-19. We conducted a retrospective analysis of in-hospital mortality in the Belgian national COVID-19 hospital surveillance data.” n= 8075. The coverage of HCQ in the United States has been as shameful as Russiagate. But probably more lethal. As Taibbi wrote:

Trump one day in a press conference mutters that a drug has “tremendous promise” as a treatment of coronavirus. Within ten seconds a consensus forms that hydroxycholoroquine is snake oil, and the New York Times is running stories denouncing Trump’s “brazen willingness to distort and outright defy expert opinion and scientific evidence when it does not suit his agenda.”

Then you read the story and find out doctors have been prescribing the drug, that “early reports from doctors in China and France have said that [it] seemed to help patients,” and moreover that the actual quote about it being a “game changer” from Trump included the lines, “Maybe not” and “What do I know? I’m not a doctor.” In response to another Trump quote on the subject, “What do you have to lose?” journalists piled on again, quoting the president of the American Medical Association to remind audiences “you could lose your life” — as if Trump had recommended that people run outside and mainline the stuff.

All of which is insane, but so is rooting for a drug to not work in the middle of a historic pandemic, the clear subtext of nearly every news story on this topic dating back to March.

This after [genuflects] Fauci ramped Gilead, whose remdesivir turned out (according to a JAMA Editorial turned out to have “modest clinical benefit for the 5-day course compared with standard care, although, as the authors acknowledge, the clinical importance of this finding is uncertain.” Move along, folks, move along. There’s no story here!

“Early Hydroxychloroquine but not Chloroquine use reduces ICU admission in COVID-19 patients” [International Journal of Infectious Diseases (anon)]. From the Conclusion: “The results of this observational study demonstrate a lack of effect of (H)CQ on non-ICU mortality. However, we show that the use of HCQ – but not CQ – is associated with 53% decreased risk of transfer of COVID-19 patients from the regular ward to the ICU. Recent prospective studies have reported on 28 days all-cause mortality only, therefore additional prospective data on the early effect of HCQ in preventing transfer to the ICU is still needed.” n=1064.

* * *

“Cost-effectiveness of transitional US plans for universal health care” [The Lancet]. “The USA stands alone as the only high-income country not to provide health care as a human right, leaving almost 80 million of its citizens without adequate insurance. In a 2020 study, we found that securing quality health care for the entire country would save 68, 000 lives and 1·73 million life-years annually…. Given that saving lives is the paramount goal of a health-care system, any plan that expands health-care coverage is progress. Nonetheless, the economics of different plans are at the heart of the ongoing debate. Using our previously developed model of health-care costs in the USA,4 and updating the plan to 2020 US$, we calculated that reaching universal coverage without conversion to a single-payer system would increase the national health-care budget by US$149 billion annually, relative to the status quo. This would increase the overall health-care budget to more than $3·6 trillion per year, compared with an estimated $3·0 trillion for Medicare for All….. Our calculations indicate that incremental steps to achieve universal coverage en route to a single-payer system are a worthy investment. At the same time, expansion without structural improvement is not ideal. Medicare for All is the end-game strategy both economically and morally.”

“How obesity could create problems for a COVID vaccine’ [Nature]. “It was clear early in the outbreak that obesity heightened the risk for people infected with the coronavirus. When epidemiologist Lin Xu at Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou, China, was analysing data from the earliest wave of the epidemic in China, she noticed a pattern emerging in model after model. ‘BMI was always there,” she says. “It is always positively associated with severity of COVID-19.’ When Xu submitted her study to an academic journal in March, the editors urged her to alert the World Health Organization about her findings. Since then, studies have poured in from countries around the world reaching the same conclusion: those who are obese are more likely to die from COVID-19 than are those of normal weight, even when factors such as diabetes and hypertension are taken into account.” • The United States is #12 in the World Obesity Rankings. China is #169.

“I tested a Harvard-designed nasal spray to help stop the spread of COVID-19” [Fast Company]. “However, when the FEND sprays and I inhale, suddenly, my airways feel washed. The effect is refreshing in a way that even holding your nose up to a humidifier, or using a bottled saline spray, isn’t. The best analogy I can make is that my nose suddenly feels like a wet dog nose—in a good way!—and I’m immediately hooked. Through the dry nights of winter, I often sit up sniffing over and over like there’s sand up my nose. Right in that moment, I plan to FEND every night before bed to prevent this.” • Well, maybe. The article has a good explanation of nasal tissues and mucus. Here is the study From the abstract: “We propose the nasal administration of calcium-enriched physiological salts as a new hygienic intervention with possible therapeutic application as a response to the rapid and tenacious spread of COVID-19. We test the effectiveness of these salts against viral and bacterial pathogens in animals and humans. We find that aerosol administration of these salts to the airways diminishes the exhalation of the small particles that face masks fail to filter and, in the case of an influenza swine model, completely block airborne transmission of disease.” n = 10. Dunno. I think I’ll be sticking with Povidone even if it doesn’t “make my airways feel washed;” I like brutally simple Victorian-era technology a lot…

Our Famously Free Press

“Zoom sleaze Jeffrey Toobin’s history of sex scandals: CNN analyst cheated on his wife, offered to pay for baby mama’s abortion, visited swingers’ club with Roger Stone and has a hardcore ‘fixation'” [Daily Mail]. • What the heck was David Remnick thinking? (Whatever he’s been thinking since he got conned by Obama, I would say.)

Class Warfare

“Hypocrite? This So-Called Socialist is Earning Money at Her Job” [Reductress]. “‘Molly claims to be a Democratic Socialist, but she doesn’t seem to have any qualms taking a paycheck from our boss,’ says Molly’s smart coworker, Ron Antonelli. ‘Plus she has an iPhone, so it seems like she’s enjoying capitalism enough to me.'”

News of the Wired

“Driving the 2021 Cadillac Escalade was one of the most stressful experiences of my life” [The Verge]. “When you need a suite of high-definition cameras and other expensive sensors to safely drive to the grocery store, there might be something inherently wrong with your design. Manufacturers know that these types of vehicles are more dangerous to pedestrians and cyclists, but they keep making them because people keep buying them. Cadillac says it is responding to customer demands for more interior space and cargo room. Super-sizing its vehicles helps it sell more SUVs to more people.” • Well worth a read. The horror! The horror!

“Discipline Doesn’t Scale” [Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programmers]. “[W]hatever the source, the problem with calls for discipline is that there’s no strong motivation to become more disciplined. I can use these tools, and my customer is this much satisfied, and my employer pays me this much. Or I can learn from you how I’m supposed to be doing it, which will slow me down, for…your satisfaction? So you know I’m doing it the way it’s supposed to be done? Or so that I can tell everyone else that they’re doing it wrong, too? Sounds like a great deal. Therefore discipline doesn’t scale. Whenever you ask some people to slow down and think harder about what they’re doing, some fraction of them will. Some will wonder whether there’s some other way to get what you’re peddling, and may find it. Some more will not pay any attention. The dangerous ones are the ones who thought they were paying attention and yet still end up not doing the disciplined thing you asked for: they either torpedo your whole idea or turn it into not doing the thing (see OOP, Agile, Functional Programming). And still more people, by far the vast majority, just weren’t listening at all, and you’ll never reach them.” • Perhaps these thoughts apply to social engineering, too…

* * *
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 (MC):

MC writes: “Attached, a picture from friends in Mexico of some colorful grasshoppers as they start to decimate what appears to be a boxwood bush.”

* * *

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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. Glen

      Oh, ouch, China got their hands on the ability to make EUV lithography machines? Oh, THAT”S gonna leave a mark.

      You know it’s bad enough with American CEOs moving our technology, factories and jobs to China, but this one is gonna catch up with us if China figures out how to make state of the art chips at the same time that Intel is struggling to do 7nm, and AMD (Global Foundries) has gone right past them.

      1. Temporarily Sane

        Why ouch? Does America have a divine right to a monopoly on technology or something? China has a 5000 year old culture and about 1/5th of the world’s population. It’s gonna have power and influence and there is nothing anyone can do to prevent that unless they want to nuke the planet into oblivion.

        The fact is only the West has an obsession with forcing its way of life on every country and casually invading, destroying and sanctioning to death countries that want to remain independent. Remember, China was supposed to let itself be exploited and become a colony of western capital. Just like Russia. They didn’t do that so now they are “threats to democracy” and use their cunning foreign ways to throw elections via Facebook memes while America the innocent trembles with righteous indignation. Give me a family blogging break.

        It’s amazing how many people buy into the whole ‘China is evil’ nonsense. Even people who are skeptical of Russiagate like Glenn Greenwald. Matt Stoller is completely unhinged when it comes to China.

        Americans just can’t help demonstrating over and over again that they are the most propagandized people on earth.

  1. Howard Beale IV

    That Check Engine Light reminds me of the apocryphal story about Unix: “Ken Thompson has an automobile which he helped design. Unlike most automobiles, it has neither speedometer, nor gas gauge, nor any of the other numerous idiot lights which plague the modern driver. Rather, if the driver makes a mistake, a giant “?” lights up in the center of the dashboard. “The experienced driver,” says Thompson, “will usually know what’s wrong.””

    1. farragut

      Rather, if the driver makes a mistake, a giant “?” lights up in the center of the dashboard. “The experienced driver,” says Thompson, “will usually know what’s wrong.”

      There’s a joke in here about clueless husbands (sheepishly raises own hand); however, being the mental oaf that I am, I’m unable to tease it out.

    2. dougie

      I would like to try to correct some misunderstandings about the CEL “scam”. I own and operate an auto repair shop, and have been in the business since 1977. Sorry if this becomes longish.

      First off, as we explain to our clients every single day, A CODE SCAN IS NOT A DIAGNOSTIC. Here is why.There are MANY different levels of “diagnostic” equipment. Do you seriously think that a generic scanner at an AutoZone store, one that they use on all makes and models, is capable of providing information in enough detail to be helpful in more than a handful of cases? Believe me, they are not.

      Every Monday, we deal with the fellow who watched a YouTube video, bought cheap parts online, and spent his weekend replacing those parts, all because a $200 scanner told him to. He may be $800 bucks into it, but still has the same problem. Most of the time, one of the trained professionals in our shop finds a simple problem, and repairs it for less than $100.

      The general public largely thinks that we hook up a device that tells us what part to replace, and we over charge for it. That may be the case, in certain circumstances. There are unethical people in all walks of life. We find that a general code scan with a high end Snap On generic scanner is sufficient for accurate results maybe 30% of the time, no more. After that, assuming you get accurate information, knowing what to do with that information, how to correctly interpret this information, is where the DIAGNOSIS occurs.

      I used to tell customers, when I worked on the counter “A “code” puts you in the zip code. Sometimes it will provide the street name. An accurate diagnosis finds the correct house number, room in the house, and even the closet where your actual problem lies.”

      In the last two years, I spent over $100k on diagnostic equipment to allow me to accurately repair CEL’s, recode vehicle computers, etc. The yearly subscriptions to dealership information systems runs $2- $10k PER CAR LINE. Our wonderful technicians earn into the low six figures. It’s not nearly as easy, or inexpensive, as most people think.

      1. rowlf

        A lot of folks think there is flash-card (X= part) corrections to faults, when often the fault is X= A x B x C x D for the fault code to appear.

        A – Part/component
        B – Fuse/power
        C – Switch
        D – Relay

        Since I do not like to work on my own vehicles if the goat rodeo factor ramps up (I can get lucky in my driveway, the shop has plans A, B, C), I feel fortunate to have a very reliable shop to go to. I have also shared the troubleshooting gospel with the owner, who prides himself as a troubleshooter and not a parts changer.

    3. The Rev Kev

      There is an old story about a Silicon Valley design for a car when Bill Gates criticised GM for how they built their cars when he said “If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving twenty-five dollar cars that got 1000 mi/gal.”

      In return, General Motors issued a press release stating:

      If GM had developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be driving cars like this

      1- For no reason whatsoever, your car would crash twice a day.
      2- Every time they repainted the lines in the road, you would have to buy a new car.
      3- Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no reason. You would have to pull over to the side of the road, close all of the windows, shut off the car, restart it, and re-open the windows before you could continue. For some reason you would simply accept this.
      4- Occasionally, executing a maneuver such as a left turn would cause your car to shut down and refuse to restart, in which case you would have to reinstall the engine.
      5- Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, was reliable, five times as fast and twice as easy to drive – but would run on only five percent of the roads.
      6- The oil, water temperature, and alternator warning lights would all be replaced by a single “This Car Has Performed An Illegal Operation” warning light.
      7- The airbag system would ask “Are you sure?” before deploying.
      8- Occasionally, for no reason whatsoever, your car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key and grabbed hold of the radio antenna.
      9- Every time a new car was introduced car buyers would have to learn how to drive all over again because none of the controls would operate in the same manner as the old car.
      10- You’d have to press the “Start” button to turn the engine off.

    1. Katiebird

      We got a “check engine light” decoder from Harbor Freight a few years ago. Since Rick works on all our cars, it’s been very handy

      1. Carolinian

        You can get a gizmo that will plug into your OBD socket and use bluetooth to display the codes on your smartphone. I have one and it costs like ten bucks.

        However I’ve never used it because in many many years my older car never turned on the check engine light once. The system mostly monitors pollution controls. Other problems may not show up depending on how computerized your car is. I now have a newer car which monitors all kinds of things including the tire pressure but if something is wrong will light an indicator light on the instrument panel. The check engine light, however, still exists along with those codes.

    2. a different chris

      The replies are worth reading, you get the brilliant sarcasm directed towards late-stage capitalism from Elaine:

      The real question is why auto makers don’t have *more* proprietary diagnostics. Like, manufacture custom tire valves, so you can only check tire pressure at an authorized dealer. Oil dipstick bolted down with proprietary Honda bolts; radiator cap requires custom spanner, etc

      To the more helpful but in its way completely clueless (not in an idiotic way, the guy is a dealer and sounds helpful in general, but in a cloistered worldview way):

      You can get a diagnostic for free at autozone

      Um, yeah. As pointed out (although not as a direct response) by others on the thread: The Car Knows What The Problem Is And Has A Way To Display It. In English.

      Why should Mr Keen, or whoever, have to find time to drive to the dealership/AutoZone/wherever and wait for an hour to learn what the car could just tell him instantly.

      1. hunkerdown

        Take a minute to ponder the ramifications of an infotainment device connected to God and the Internet, probably running a general-purpose embedded OS and a none-too-recent version at that, also being able to talk and listen unrestricted on the engine control network. Are you really sure that’s what you want?

        Not that I don’t miss the old days when you could short two positions on a connector and count the engine codes off of the status light, and not that I disagree that there are manufacturer-private codes and parameters that make the “open” port a scam, but engine-to-Internet is one firewall I’d be loath to punch a hole in.

        1. Carolinian

          Well perhaps you know more about this than I do or perhaps the car repair guy upthread does, but don’t you have to affirmatively connect your car to the internet–in other words an opt in rather than an opt out? My car has a ‘connections’ screen that supposedly tells you whether you are online via cell or wifi in a manner similar to a computer or smartphone. I know this ‘head unit’ does have the radios to do both without a smartphone attached but I assume they are inactivated unless I do something to change that.

          I really want to know!

          1. John

            The cell modem is always active. You can pay for WiFi access over it, but the manufacturer uses the cell modem for themselves to exfiltrate diagnostic data about the car and also automatically download updates. Also with an active cell connection that means your car is leaving a trail of cell towers it connects to everywhere you drive. It’s all really unacceptable.

            1. Carolinian

              Not to be a doubter but think I’d need a link for that to take it out of the urban legend department–even if it only applies to certain car brands.

              1. Carolinian

                I did a web search and my car brand supposedly only does updates to the map navigation system via OTA and that presumably with your consent since you have to pay for the service. Engine and critical updates are done by the dealer which is how it should be.

                There is an Onstar type service that will monitor your car via cell but that too you have to pay for and presumably consent to.

                Of course if car companies–or anyone–are secretly tracking our cars that we’d very much like to know.

              2. hunkerdown

                WIRED from 2015, no longer germane for that model. They had discovered access to more vehicle controls in a later hack, after the apparent open Internet access was closed.

    3. hdude

      $35 bucks will buy a scanner that plugs into engine jack that will identify what the code in English is (from there Google is your friend /s).

    4. km

      No need to even buy a code reader. Most auto parts stores will lend you one (and other tools) if you ask.

      1. RMO

        There are quite a few car models out there where the “infotainment” (I hate that word…) will display diagnostics if you want it too. An OBD scanner will do that if you don’t have a built in screen. Sure it costs money, but so does a set of wrenches – or a timing light and dwell meter as examples of tools that are needed for performing certain maintenance tasks on older cars. This can let you deal with a few simple Check Engine Light causes and avoid a visit to a mechanic (e.g. my father-in-law’s Toyota Echo that just needed the fuel filler cap to be tightened to put the light out). As pointed out above though just seeing the OBD code doesn’t necessarily diagnose all the problems for you. Unfortunately there are some mechanics out there who seem to start and stop with scanning for codes. An example being a friend who had an intermittent problem with his VW Golf where suddenly the engine would drop to idle no matter what was being done with the throttle and would then come back to life after a few seconds. Multiple dealer visits resulted in the car being scanned for errors and when none came up they just sent him on his (intermittent) way again after relieving him of some money. Eventually he went to an independent mechanic who actually diagnosed and fixed the problem.

        As for myself, I’m just not that enthusiastic about doing my own wrenching anymore. I actually go to the Honda/Nissan dealer who sold me my car for service because they’re fairly priced, competent and honest. I’ve had bad luck with independent mechanics starting with my first car back in the 80s. Him, and every one I’ve tried since has turned out to be some combination of incompetent and dishonest. In fact the reason I got started working on cars in the first place was in trying to figure out what was still wrong with my first car (a beater of a 1974 Capri 2.8) after two visits to that first guy. As I discovered he had unnecessarily replaced the carb (the running problems I was having were caused by something else) and managed to hook it up so that only the primary barrel was opening. Oh, and he left one spark plug wire disconnected too…

        1. Basil Pesto

          in my experience, google maps/other consumer reviews are an excellent way of finding a car mechanic. If people feel they have been shafted, they will make it known – a mechanic with a rating of, say, 4.5 or higher, stands out as worthy of consideration.

          There’s always the possibility of competition sabotaging these reviews, but it’s worth reading a few of them: you can usually tell whether reviews are bona fide.

  2. DJG

    Meanwhile, the Popester is making Justice Sammy Alito pisciare in his pantaloons by endorsing civil unions for gayfolk. News stories everywhere this morning. About the Pope, not craven “Justice” Alito.

    Also, La Stampa reports that he highlighted, and complimented, a woman for breast-feeding a baby during a papal audience.

    And Fratelli Tutti, his latest encyclical, just came out, condemning capitalism in no uncertain terms.

    I think that he’s doing all of this just to annoy Mike Pence.

    Next up: Following his patron, Saint Francis of Assisi, and preaching to the birds, I suppose.

    1. km

      It will be sorta satisfying to watch the smug First Things set once more call for the fainting couch, as they seem to do pretty much every time Francis opens his mouth.

      1. a different chris

        I won’t be that surprised if American Catholics eventually break away just like the Protestants did so long ago. They are that kind of stupid, and if they get two Popes in a row like this, well.

        It’s an authoritarian sect, and those things do the schism thing pretty darn well.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          The Protestant Reformation was about real power dynamics and real issues. The monasteries owning everything was a big deal. The Pope is just a man in a funny hat. He had a bit more sway in Italy back in the day. The loud mouths are one thing, but the rank and file could care less.

          What is going to the Association of Catholic Bishops sales pitch? Rome was too hard on us over the priest abuse scandal?

          There are occasional sedevacanists, but they are going nowhere as they are basically isolationist in nature. The Pope would have to do something like calling for shrinking of the church to really drive people into action.

          The converts like Jeb Bush, maybe not him specifically, could leave, but its just that.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            For Jeb Bush converts, the Orthodox definitely have a similar appeal as the RCC in a style category, but I’ve heard about Orthodox Easter Vigil. It might still be going on.

  3. ShamanicFallout

    Well, since I have to work everyday and do as much mitigation as can, I couldn’t resist- I ordered a FEND. I shall report back here as to whether I feel ‘washed and refreshed’. Approved by Harvard! How could it not be great?

    1. jaaaaayceeeee

      I keep googling aeronabs nasal spray (which I heard of here) because it sounds like it could be miraculous, if they ever finish trials and start production. It caps off the coronavirus spikes and wouldn’t need refrigeration or fancy admistration. A grad student came up with the idea to search for proteins like those that llamas use to fend off viruses.

  4. Seth Miller

    Re: “I don’t think Roberts wants another Bush v. Gore, and will do what it takes to prevent it, ideally by diverting any such cases from the Court entirely.”

    As Wikipedia reports, a grant of certiorari (in other words, a decision to take a case) requires only four votes. Even if he positions himself dead center, Roberts cannot himself stop election cases from being heard. Not with the people on the Court now, and certainly not if Barrett joins.

    As I keep saying, instead of trying to push for court-packing (a non-starter that, even if it got anywhere would just lead the Republicans to do worse), the Democrats should be limiting the Court’s jurisdiction. They should start by requiring a unanimous vote before the Court can take a case.

    Corey Robin posted an article today that contains a link to this interesting law review article, which I haven’t finished, but which seems to make some of my points more elegantly than I have done: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3665032 . The basic point of the article is that supermajority requirements are more in sync with a progressive agenda than court packing. My basic point is that supermajority requirements both lessen the risk of damage from the Supreme Court and pull it away from extremism.

    1. Biph

      Court packing could work but the Dems would need to back it by adding at least 2 more states to the union. PR and DC are ripe for the picking there, 4 more Dem senators wouldn’t be a guarantee the repubs couldn’t take back the senate but it would make it much harder. They could also take a look at the viability of statehood for other US territories.
      If the court tosses Obamacare I would expect a lot of support for court packing, and quite honestly in that case it should be packed. I’m no fan of Obamacare, it being the worst possible republican plan, but it’s something that should be left up to legislative and executive branches. Remember when the GOP used to complain about un-elected judges legislating from the bench?

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        When The Republic of Texas was admitted to the Union, it was admitted with open ended till forever permission to break itself up into 5 States any time it wanted. Those would probably be 5 Republican States.

        Good luck recruiting miserable little “statelettes” into the Union. That’s just one more game that the Republicans can play better than you can. And they will, too.

        1. Biph

          It wouldn’t be 5 republican states 3-2 at best, plus Texas had enough trouble with no longer being the biggest State in the union no way it gives up being the biggest in the lower 48.
          PR should have statehood if it wants it and while I would prefer DC be given federal city status with 1 house member and 1 senator it deserves representation in the legislative branch and I prefer statehood to the current set up.

        2. Darthbobber

          Not necessarily. This was the text of the annexation act, but the actual admission act that superseded it some months later said that Texas would admitted on the same basis as other states. (the original annexation act also said the 4 additional statelets could be admitted “with or without slavery. ”

          In any case, THAT Texas chose to secede in 1861 and had to be reconstructed by somewhat different provisions.

          1. Wukchumni

            Texas paper money backed by nothing (it went down to being worth 6 Cents on the Dollar in Federal $’s) eventually was worth par with the US $, when it got bailed out by the feds, kind of along the same lines as the CSA was hoping with their banknotes, once the south had beaten the union.

            Under the Compromise of 1850, Texas was given $10 million for all the land it had claimed outside its present state boundary. With this money, Texas paid off all its debts, including the redemption of its notes.


    2. Lee

      I concur.

      Jurisdiction stripping Wikipedia

      “In the United States, jurisdiction-stripping (also called court-stripping or curtailment-of-jurisdiction), is the limiting or reducing of a court’s jurisdiction by Congress through its constitutional authority to determine the jurisdiction of federal and state courts.”

      1. Reality Bites

        Jurisdiction stripping is not at all a panacea. The courts have, in certain cases, found that stripping jurisdiction is unconstitutional. The cases surrounding Guantanamo Bay detainees are a good source for the arguments surrounding that. Also, be careful what you wish for. There was a short-lived effort to eliminate the ability to recoup attorney’s fees for successful constitutional challenges. This is often how poorer litigants are able to challenge unfair and unconstitutional practices. Eliminating this ability would cripple most constitutional cases unless the client has deep pockets. It was deemed to extreme for GWB.

        Access (that infamous word again) to justice is already similar to access to healthcare. However, as someone said above, Republicans play the game far better. If you come for jurisdiction, they will go for fees. They can also put a series of pleading requirements and numerous civil procedure rules in that will go much further. I don’t trust Democrats to start this fight because they will surrender quickly and the Republicans will go full on the moment they are back in power.

        1. Darthbobber

          Jurisdiction stripping is how the radical Republicans protected some of their reconstruction acts from being overturned. Guantanamo, as an extraterritorial possession held by lease, I believe falls into the original jurisdiction of the court, which is constitutionally specified.

          The appellate jurisdiction is not constitutionally specified, but has been controlled by congressional legislation for nearly the entire history of the nation.

          Then there’s the Jackson-Lincoln method on constitutional rulings. Just ignore them. Marbury v Madison rests, after all, on nothing more than a bare assertion by the court itself.

        2. Seth Miller

          No, not a panacea, and it’s got to be done very carefully. My idea is that granting cert should require unanimity. Then, there’s no argument that anyone is protecting unconstitutional conduct. I think unanimity should be required to overrule precedent, or to find legislation unconstitutional. This is consistent with the “balls and strikes” rhetoric that the Republicans employ so hypocritically.

          BTW, as I recall the Stevens flagged the issue in the Guantanamo cases, but did not rule on it. I agree that passing a controversial law (e.g., the upcoming law eliminating qualified immunity for cops) that says that the court will not have jurisdiction to hear challenges to this law, would be asking for trouble.

          But in this moment, when it looks like the Dems will control things for awhile, keeping the Court from taking any cases that Sotomayor doesn’t want, seems like a prudent way to protect any gains.

    3. Alternate Delegate

      The Court makes up its own rules, in this case the Rule of Four. In exactly the same way that they made up corporate personhood, and judicial review (the idea that they get to invalidate laws just because they feel like it). Out of whole cloth.

      In my opinion, the balance of power between the legislative and judiciary branches requires that the Legislature arrogate to itself the power to impeach and remove judges precisely for making wrong decisions.

      Yes, this asserts that these wrong decisions may rise to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors, which I claim is obviously true. In particular, it smashes the falsehood that “the law does no wrong”. Of course the law does wrong.

      More broadly, impeachment restores a necessary symmetry between branches of government. So the Court decided it could throw out laws? So the Legislature should decide it can throw out judges.

      1. Biph

        The legislative branch can already do that, high crimes and misdemeanors is vague enough already. The trouble is and always will be getting 2/3 of the Senate to vote to convict. Constitutionally the co-equal branches of govt is BS, the legislative branch is the most powerful branch as it has the ability to toss out any member of the executive branch and judicial branch any time it wants so long as it can get a majority in the House and 2/3 of the Senate to do so, the judicial and executive branches have no such lever to remove members of the legislative branch. Practically not so much as getting 2/3 of Senate to agree is much more difficult.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Roberts cannot himself stop election cases from being heard

      If Roberts has any clout in DC, now is the time to use it. He needs to get out from under the falling safe if he wants to maintain the integrity [snort] of the court.

  5. DJG

    I noticed a whole bunch of “rats leaving sinking ship” posts. Then I noticed the post about still another article presenting the corporate-confection Mayor Pete as a serious person. The combination of rats and suck-ups makes me think that we should all wait till Wednesday, 4 November, to decide what to do about things.

    By then, the New Yorker and its enablers will have decided what to do with the ultra-exuberant Toobin, too.

      1. fresno dan

        October 21, 2020 at 3:20 pm

        Mere coincidence that the “occupation” consists of Toobin wrapping his hand around a cylindrical object of a particular circumference and length. After all, if he doesn’t have his hand wrapped around his joystick, what else would he be possibly doing?

        And I pledge, that is my last Toobin double entendre …. unless the opportunity for a really, really, REALLY good one …comes up

        1. Wukchumni

          After all, if he doesn’t have his hand wrapped around his joystick, what else would he be possibly doing?

          To pee or not to pee, that is the question~

      2. clarky90

        There is a possibly innocent explanation for Toobin’s indiscretion.

        Perhaps Jeff was taking an investigative, deep-dive, into Hunter Biden’s laptop? He is a Harvard Law Alumni, so, clearly, a trained expert researcher.

  6. Off The Street

    Good news in the never-ending struggle against Big Pharma.
    Purdue guilty on three counts and to pay $8.34 Billion settlement, per WSJ.
    That is a good start!

    1. notabanker

      Jail time or nothing. If pharma execs know the worst that happens is the company pays, then nothing changes. Put some in prison and they will start to take it seriously.

      1. JTMcPhee

        There was a brief period when the US EPA and US Atorneys and some few kooks at DoJ got around to using the criminal enforcement authorities Congress had written into the principal environmental protection laws. Having had a bit to do with creating the EPA’s criminal enforcement program, I got to look into the eyes of corporate executives who discovered that their whining about reputation damage and shared responsibility and the efficacy of ‘cost of doing business’ “Largest Settlement Ever” deals was not going to protect their lily-white a$$es from doing jail time. And having to recognize that they might ought to avoid the behaviors that could get them prosecuted personally and sent off (albeit, usually, to a pretty cush federal lockup) to do some time thinking about their misdeeds. Stuff like letting tanks full of toxins corrode to the point of rupture, sending lots of nasties directly into drinking water sources, gross and intentional violations of air and water discharge and emission permits, intentional dumping of hazardous waste.

        You look at the EPA and DoJ brag sheets from those days, and you saw real enforcement — not on as large a scale as was warranted, but for the time, it had a measurable effect on corporate behavior, as in CEOs and senior executives spending the effort and money to minimize the risk that they would be the ones getting arrested. Look at the brag sheets these days, and you see little people being raked over for pretty petty violations, interspersed with announcements of “Biggest Penalty EVah” and “Largest Fine EVah” with no admission of guilt, not jail time, and just another cost of doing business. Passed on to the mopery, of course.

        Regulatory capture has of course been at work. Congress has weakened or evaporated criminal enforcement authorities. The Sentencing Guidelines have been lobbied into largely nugatory noise. The DoJ has reverted to its longstanding partnership with corporate interests, and the recent Google antitrust action exists only because bigger corporate interests want it to proceed. Don’t expect any kind of enforcement action under any publicly beneficial regulatory processes against GoldmanSachs, Wells Fargo, BlackRock or other malefactors of great wealth.

        Fear of personal consequences is a significant motivator, and can outweigh the externality-generating corporate profit incentives that lead to the mess we have today. Looking at you, Exxon/Mobil, DowDuPont,Bayer/Monsanto… and all the minions serving your core of evil.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        No but I’m sure we can get redress from the regime that the Sackler money is installing in The White House LOLOLOL.

        Kind of like we’ll be allowed to know what the reference to “10% of amount held by Hunter for The Big Guy” on Hunter’s laptop means LOLOLOL.

        Hey I know, let’s get actual criminals running the place, that’ll be LOL “better”.

  7. flora

    re: “Discipline Doesn’t Scale”

    Interesting read. I think what he’s talking about (and this applies to many fields) is “craftsmanship” vs time-and-motion-type assembly line work. Does craftsmanship scale in the same way assembly line work scales? People writing in FORTRAN or COBOL were probably writing code inhouse with a small/medium size IT department.

    But you know what’s better? You get the idea. You see similar things happen in other contexts: for example C++’s move from new/delete to smart pointers follows a similar trajectory over a similar time. The reliance on an entire programming community getting some difficult rules right, when faced with the alternative of using different technology on the same computer that follows the rules for you, is a tough sell.

    An entire programming community can be as large as all programmers in one country or all FORTRAN programmers eg, checking in and out of projects – often midstream – on a time limited consultancy basis, or never meeting co-workers in person but only sending code back and forth, only working on a tiny bit of code that will be combined with other bits of code someone else wrote, etc. Sort of like an assembly line. My 2 cents.

    1. flora

      adding: in assembly line programming it’s up to the chief manager to let everyone know what’s expected by way of file and data structures, and all the other acceptable code type parameters for the project: what language, OS platforms, file types, data structure types, coding tools, etc.

      This is a management issue, not a discipline issue, imo.

      (And that’s before getting into the issue of understandable documentation of code. I won’t open that can of worms. ;) )

  8. KevinD

    Knowledge Takes the Sword Away

    In a political world in which those responsible for telling us the truth provide us with two distinct sets of facts, even if we are 100% convinced that our facts are always the correct ones and our truth-tellers the honest ones, dismantling the competition game that results in politically polarized truth-tellers should STILL be a huge objective.

  9. drumlin woodchuckles

    About Pete Buttapig, as with Obama, look at who has been grooming them, developing them, advancing them from square to square. Just as Obama was a long-term UpperClass investment from when he played “community organizer” to begin burnishing his resume’, Buttapig has been a long-term UpperClass investment since at least his “Naval Service” in Afghanistan and time at McKinsey.

    It might be worth giving Americans a very short primer on the sport of Curling. The Stone, the Sweepers, the launcher, etc. Buttapig is somebody’s Curling Stone. Somebody launched him. Somebody keeps sending out the Sweepers to clear the treacherous icy path ahead of him in order to guide his trajectory into somebody’s preferred goal.

    Seen this way, how much effort is required to keep dropping a little sand now and then along Buttapig’s path, to nullify the guiding work of the Sweepers?

      1. edmondo

        No. Mayo Pete has all the personality, charm and ethics of a curling stone. The analogy was inspired.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Pete is rat boy, and Obama was cool. Buttigieg is the Marco Rufio, an old out of touch person’s idea of a young person, of Team Blue, but he isn’t a position to establish himself for federal office.

      One problem with Biden is the idea people believed they already “knew” him. He was Leslie Knope’s friend or the guy who looked like a tv president who stood near Obama.

      There was an organic part of Obama’s popularity.

      The only real problem with Buttigieg is that he has enough backers they’ll allow him to squeak at various times and distract from otherwise bad people. All the time wasted on Pete, Beta, Kamala, and the rest was time not spent on exposing what a POS Biden is.

  10. ChrisAtRU


    Heh … I’ve seen a lot of people looking at national polls and preparing touchdown dances as they spew nonsense like “Biden’s going to crush it!”

    File under “T” for #TheyHaveLearnedNothing.

    It’s nip and tick even without considering potential suppression/malfeasance. When I look at the 270 to win graphic, I tell myself Trump is going to win PA and all the toss-ups which still leaves Biden with 270, but Biden has to sweep the upper-upper Midwest – WI, MI, MN. This is not trivial IMO. One can only hope that these Trump-adjusted-weights mean that there’s not an additional 2% in the offing for Trump beyond the MOE.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Joemala would have to win EACH electoral-college-delegation-needed State by so much of a majority that every challenge the Trumpists mount would be ridiculizable on-its-face as spitefully frivolous.

      Wherever the least crack of hope exists to drive in a wedge of challenge, the Trumpists will drive it in. The lack of enthusiasm which the Joemala has and will continue to have will be a weakness in the November 4th-and-counting days of dispute.

    2. PhilK

      Trafalgar Group chief pollster Robert Cahaly told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Tuesday night he sees President Trump being reelected, citing a “hidden vote” Cahaly says is predominantly missing from polling showing Democratic nominee Joe Biden leading nationally and in most swing states.

      Trafalgar Group’s polling in 2016 showed Trump leading in key battleground states including Pennsylvania and Michigan when almost all other pollsters had the Republican nominee trailing Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Trump ended up wining both of those states and Wisconsin, becoming the first GOP presidential nominee to do so in decades.

      “I see the president winning with a minimum high 270s and possibly going up significantly higher based on just how big this undercurrent is,” Cahaly said, referring to Electoral College votes. A candidate needs 270 electoral votes to win the White House.

      Trafalgar chief pollster predicts Trump victory: Polls ‘predominantly missing the hidden vote’

      1. ChrisAtRU

        It’s funny – Bragman’s follow-up tweet pointed to this #FiveThirtyEight article:

        What Pollsters Have Changed Since 2016 — And What Still Worries Them About 2020

        … needless to say, after the debacle of 2016, many pollsters no doubt want to regain credibility on the ultimate prediction stage as it were. Where that puts them given a penchant for functioning as push polls remains to be seen. It’s going to be interesting. I consider this the equivalent of half time adjustments in (American) football. #WeShallSee

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > a “hidden vote” Cahaly says is predominantly missing from polling

        “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Heb 11:1

  11. Leftcoastindie

    Not sure if this link will work or not. But my ballot is on the way to the registrars office.

    1. Leftcoastindie

      Evidently the link didn’t work. However it is a very simple screen that tells you when your ballot was mailed to you, when you sent it back and when it goes to the registrar and finally if it was accepted or not. Nice and simple.

  12. rowlf

    Due to the superb Propublica article in yesterday’s Links on Georgia voting and the wife wanting to try early voting, I decided to go for it. We went to the county seat, the spaced out line took about 15 minutes, everyone wore masks, the ballot marking machines worked fine and the ballot scanner worked fine. I chatted with the friendly poll workers and manager, who said the first day last week was rough getting everything sorted but after that they had a smooth system. Little finger condoms were provided for using the touchscreens.

    I tend to like the poll workers as they remind me of friendly librarians and museum staff that want you to have a pleasant experience. The only negative I could think of was the ballot marking machine touchscreen were very large and there wasn’t much privacy with the small dividers. I also wanted to vote for the very popular incumbent Sheriff about eight more times as he treats everyone well and thinks no-knock warrants are stupid and dangerous, and says you can solve most problems with good police work.

    My wife told the poll workers this was her first vote in person since she recently naturalized and they gave her a warm congratulation. The Georgia voting stickers have been updated to include a slogan stating “I Secured My Vote”.

    1. Wukchumni

      When we had our evang-militia-survivalist-church in town, many of the poll workers were from that nutty outfit, and of course they got to see everybody’s political affiliation, which says an awful lot only knowing that tidbit.

      Thank goodness they’re gone!

      1. kareninca

        Well, you could have worked at the polls and then it would have been done to your specifications.

    2. flora

      What a great antidote to this election season’s politicians (both parties) claiming half the country is horrible and doom is upon us. Thanks.

      1. rowlf

        You’re welcome. I like that the county I live in is very integrated and appears to stratify by class. The southern courtesies of holding doors, letting someone go ahead of you, having a maybe quick chat with whoever you are interacting with, and waving to people as you see them, agrees with me as does having some sense of community.

        A short aside. I had traveled back from Europe a year or so ago and the practice at the European airports was like a scrimmage for all the passengers to get on an airplane. Arriving back at the local airport the shuttle bus shows up and as the waiting riders surge to get on, one man says, hold on, let’s let the ladies go first. Why not, as Gomez Adams would say? A lot of the riders where airport workers at the end of their shift.

        I think if we try to get along and tell the federal politicians and their media hanger-ons to go climb trees as they work to divide us we can have a better life. I miss that the politicians rarely have to fear that the locals might pelt them with rotten produce and dead animals anymore.

        1. LilD

          I never know if it’s right to share this. It’s lucid and to me so depressing that toaster bathing seems like a good option. I’d hate to cause my friends pain… which pill should we be taking?

          1. rowlf

            Red. Not the blue pill. Not the black capsule.

            I hang around a lot of Buddhists, so the red pill is the only way. And one of my favorite Forest monks thinks the Matrix films are silly.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the ballot marking machines worked fine

      Ballot Marking Devices are not auditable. Hence, they cannot ever be said to “work fine” (at least not for the definition of “work” I think you are using).

      1. rowlf

        The print out on heavy paper that I had to take over to the scanner showed all the Ba’ath party candidates I selected and a computer scan code on it. I guess the computer scan code could be different than what I selected.

    1. GramSci

      I make my own. Get a saline nasal spray and a graduated eye dropper. Povidine is in any pharmacy, cheap, and a little goes a long way.

  13. notabanker

    leaving almost 80 million of its citizens without adequate insurance….

    Ah so the rest of us with monster deductables, monthly contributions and out of pocket caps that could wipe out 50-100% of your annual take home pay are deemed adequate.

    So tired of this narrative. I’m convinced a third party could form to challenge these corporate politicians on this issue alone. This has got to be a 75%-80% issue already.

    1. wadge22

      Every time I catch myself thinking there might be some issue like that that could unite us, I have to remind myself about Guns and Abortion. Ahh… Guns and Abortion. Very difficult to carve out a universally satisfactory non-stance on either of those issues, let alone both.

      “Abortions for some, miniature American flags for others!”

      1. Wukchumni

        Why not combine both….

        Sure, your newborn can’t even hold it’s head up hardly, but is it ever too soon for ‘baby’s first Beretta’?

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Wait wait wait Pick Me!

        I have one. It’s something we waste hundreds of billions of dollars on every year. Not only is that money lit on fire, but the activity kills tens of thousands of people and causes untold refugee crises around the world. In polling almost 80% of American people say they are against it, across age, income, and race lines.

        THE WAR

        (But Oops! There’s a glitch in The Matrix! The nation is about to elect the team that caused The Iraq War, at a cost of $2 trillion so far and 2 million lives. Silly rabbi, didn’t you know kicks are for Trids?)

  14. Another Scott

    I thought the controversy over the 1619 Project had died down, but I guess not. The World Socialist Web Site has a story about the controversy over Bret Stephens’ article and the newsroom fallout. It is well worth a read.

    Each time this topic comes up, The New York Times seems to cover itself in less and less glory. The leaders seem afraid to say much of anything out of fear of upsetting liberals, inside and outside of the newsroom.

  15. Wukchumni

    Luntz is one hellova massagionist, and it really is about the words you choose to push your product. I kinda wish he was on the other side of the political spectrum, even though the Donkey Show would promptly relegate him to right field.

    1. Geof

      His climate change memo is a work of genius. It has wreaked incredible harm, but it is still brilliant. If you want a model of effective communication, I don’t know if you can do better. Nor, as I recall, is it outright dishonest. It simply frames the issue to benefit Republicans.

      This is basically what a good lawyer does and should do, even for a bad client. Though there’s a good deal of difference between upholding the integrity (such as exists) of the justice system by offering a vigorous defense, and ruining the environment. Although it’s quite possible Luntz believed what he said in that memo, in which case I’m not sure you can criticize him for anything except being mistaken about climate change.

      Whatever. It is far too easy to blame the moral failings of individuals rather than address the structural failings of institutions. And this clip from Frontline is devastating. He describes the polarization and hate in America, and where he sees the country going. The months since this was filmed seem to be proving him right. Every American should watch this, and step back from the brink.

      So I have a soft spot for him too. Anyone who can listen to the range of ordinary people, on all sides – really listen, and see them as human beings – deserves some respect.

      1. notabanker

        Wow, that Frontline clip is really, really good. He pretty much nails it over the course of an hour, and the last minutes are just devastating, very good choice of word there.

        This is right up there with Blyth in terms of calling it like it is and backing it up with hard evidence. This truly is must see.

        One could argue with his framing of some of the issues, but in substance, I completely agree with him. This left / right framing of every single issue is very passive-aggressive in the sense that both sides are willing to fail just to prove their point, and that is destructive behavior. The McConnell-Pelosi mind games over stimulus is the perfect example. Multiply that by, well, everything, and it is a mess.

        No crystal ball here, but the magic 8-ball in my head says ‘Outlook not good’ no matter how many times I shake it.

  16. Arizona Slim

    Uh-oh. Surge in Arizona:


    Sotto voce: I think a lot of this surge has to do with the reopening of our state’s three universities. Note the final graf’s reference to super-spreader events. Quite a few of those near campus.

    “LaBaer said we need to continue to wear masks, communicate, limit gathering sizes and conduct more tests. He said ‘super-spreader events’ are also contributing to the increase in cases.”

  17. Darthbobber

    I don’t think the problems with the New Yorker stem from getting conned by Obama or others. I suspect they stem from their absorption by Conde-Nast.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      That’s part of it, though Conde-Nast used to be pretty good, in the Before Times. Nevertheless, Remnick and Hendryk Hertzberg lost their minds in 2008, and it showed.

      1. Wukchumni

        I used to read about 2/3rds of the New Yorker, and then the amount gradually went down to the point where although i’d always find something of worth in every issue, it became a diminishing returns gig, and after 35 years let my subscription lapse.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          The New Yorker was a much better magazine when it had no table of contents and all those capsule movie reviews in the front (which I learned a lot from). I grew up reading it, like you read it for decades, and now…. I don’t miss what it’s become at all. It’s sad.

          You kids get offa my lawn!

      2. Carolinian

        Bring back Pauline Kael! Oh wait…

        Honestly her reviews were about the only things I used to read in the mag. The Tina Brown era was also not so hot.

      3. Darthbobber

        The best articles were always ones they bought from other writers. They once had editors who were excellent at selecting those. Though even at their best, I think C Wright Mills’ summation of the New Yorker as having “a sophistication of tone but not of thought” was pretty spot-on.

  18. petal

    Re check engine light: my last car, a Subaru, the check engine light was on all the time even though there was nothing wrong. I finally taped a picture of Tom Magliozzi’s(RIP) laughing face over it. Fixed!

  19. Pavel

    HRC: I’m going to be the most inauthentic POTUS candidate in history and turn off the voters!

    Kamaleon: Hold my bottle of hot sauce.

    Jeebus that video clip was cringeworthy. I’ve been following USA politics for 40+ years and Harris is possibly the least likeable candidate I’ve every witnessed. She is the luckiest politician of all time — she will become president by accident of history.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Yikes. She’s even less likeable than Vice Presidents Andrew Johnson and Lyndon Johnson, both of whom became POTUS through accidents of history.

      1. ambrit

        Alas, the two worthies you note ascended through unforeseeable “accidents” of history.
        Mz. Harris, she of obstructionist lineage, is almost assured an ‘ascension’ in a year or two. Although, as Phyl reminds me, my ongoing jape about the “Artificial” President Reagan gives one reason for pause. “Cyborg” Joe Biden might become a ‘Thing’ all too soon. [With apologies to Christian Nyby and later, John Carpenter. I like the original story by John W Campbell, “Who Goes There?” From that to “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” gives a capsule prognostication of the next seventy years from the first film.]

    2. notabanker

      “It is the worst campaign I’ve ever seen and I’ve been watching them since 1980. They’re on the wrong issues. They’re on the wrong message. They’ve got their heads up their assess. … Your damn job is to get your candidate to talk about things that are relevant to the people you need to reach. And if you can’t do your damn job then get out.”

      I was reading this and looking at those tweets and how it applies to both parties. They are now so entrenched they are just going through the motions. The people running these campaigns think they are the smartest people in the room and the reality is they are woefully dreadful at doing their jobs. Who is their right mind thinks HRC stumping for Harris is going to generate any more interest in that ticket that wasn’t already there. It has zero upside, all downside. And these campaign images of black masked Biden – Harris have pseudo post apocalyptic neo fascist imagery all over them. It’s just delusional.

      Not to excuse Trump from screwing up his campaign colossally as well. I watched his reporter Q&A yesterday and he was just a rambling fool, I had no idea what he was talking about. Best I could glean is something magical will happen to get more votes. In two weeks.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I see Obama on the news right now – telling black people how they should vote. Especially after everything that he and Joe did for them in their eight years of power such as ahhm, errrr, lemmethink, hmmmm. Let me get back to you on that one. And Joe? He has been MIA ever since he got busted by his son’s laptop files for being the crook that he is.

    3. nick

      I don’t understand all the hate. At least, for a time, she was for the elimination of private health insurers. So no Bernie, but a clear #2 in that pool

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          One would think the #Resistance would care that Harris let Steve Mnuchin off and then took a donation from him. I guess it really is an admission their opposition is purely about style.

        2. a different chris

          Or maybe “for a time” is the key to the hate?

          Do you hate the person more who is your implacable enemy, or the one that you thought was on your side and went turncoat? The first at least you have respect for.

    4. Clem

      Combine a color changing Kamaleon with a mockingbird of many accents and songs, than add a shape shifter to throw in a little razzmatazz of hip hop, a BMW driver who honks at bicyclists, a family Kamama who never had children, but claims his brood, who hate her guts, and you get Kamala Harris.

      You think the world laughs at Donald Trump?, wait until they see her act collapse on the world stage. Me? I’m voting for Kanye West.

  20. John k

    …More has to break his way than 2016…
    A few points:
    Bragman comparison with 2016 seems to show it’s easier.
    Trafalgar, correct in 2016, again predicts trump, though closer.
    I’ve read dem leaning pollsters over sample dems.
    IMO Biden has less enthusiasm among dems than Clinton, though maybe more among indies.
    What about progressives? Clinton said she’d support Medicare down to 55, Biden just 60. What progressive thinks Biden will move left?
    Trump has extended some stimulus and moratoriums without congress. Pelosi maybe seen as the obstructionist now.
    Next debate maybe forcing trump to be more civil, which benefits him.

  21. rowlf

    The Thomas Ferguson interview on Jacobin was awesome. I have been arguing forever (usually with Birchers and such) that FDR was not a leftist and he only enacted policy to neutralize the left, to steal their flags.

    I love this Ferguson comment “We have Single Payer for the banks”.

    I also agree with Ferguson’s descriptions of labor union development and compromises. Good stuff.

    1. Chris

      This was a fascinating interview to read by the author of “The Revolt of the Public.”

      I really liked this quote:

      Liberal democracy is still the only game in town. You can’t compete with it – but you can destroy it. You can smash it to bits and put nothing in its place. You can bring down an avenging chaos on a corrupt world. So when you ask whether today’s protests will ever lead to anything, the answer is probably not. They have little positive content. My concern is that they might lead to nothing – to a politics of righteous annihilation and a society lobotomized of all memory. The lust for destruction, rather than fascism or some “successor ideology,” looms as the great threat to democracy today.

  22. TonyinSoCal

    The polling in 2016 was different in terms of quantity to this year, this is not a valid comparison–RCP 15 days out.

  23. ambrit

    Zeitgeist Watch, NADS version.
    Took a trip about fifty miles south of here to pick up a turkey roaster pan, with the lid, natch. It was on sale for fifteen bucks! The price savings plus the gasoline toll still came in cheaper than anything being offered within twenty miles of our hovel in Hattiesburg.
    First, has anyone else observed the trend for brick and mortar outlets to stock mainly the high end, expensive versions of basic household items? I swear, [and I did a lot of swearing during my internet search for the item this morning,] that all I could find quickly available was bloody expensive tatt. Even the dreaded ‘shipped within two days’ items were on the high end of the price range. I saw roaster pans for fifty, sixty, one hundred and fifty, and even two hundred dollars on sites like Walmart and similar. The ‘cheap’ ones were in the twenty-five to thirty dollar range. I lucked out in finding a ‘basic’ model that was being put on clearance sale status to clear the shelves for the Christmas goodies. I ‘bought’ the item over the internet and then proceeded to trek on down to the store. To add insult to injury, I was told that the item was “out of stock” when I got there. Luckily, being a paranoid geezer, I had called the store and inveigled the store “associate” to pick up the item and sequester it. I got to the ‘back room’ and foud that someone was trying to sell “my” item out from under me. I raised Holy H— at the Pickup counter and basically successfully deployed the “squeaky wheel” strategy. [One useful behaviour the Phyllis has taught me. I am generally conflict averse and have been known to cave easily, sort of like a recent President.] Said item has been used this evening to prepare an unfortunate turkey. (I will sleep soundly tonight!)
    Secondly, this little town was chock full of Trump signs, bumper stickers, flags and tee shirts. Striking up conversations with various and sundry denizens of this area at the store led me to see a clear and strong distrust of the PMC cohorts. A few of the comments were of the ‘why do ‘they’ treat us so badly’ variety. Being the ‘sticks’ and all, though I expected it, I saw no overt signs of racism. One older black man had on a Trump 2020 tee shirt. One redneck fellow had on a Trump tee shirt in the design of a well known brand of beer. {Shades of brother Billy Carter!} I saw absolutely no Biden signs.
    Thirdly, I saw spotty mask usage. About a half of the people I saw at the store wore nothing over their mouths. Most of the older citizens I saw did wear masks. A trend of selective usage based on perceived threat levels? When I mentioned the Third Wave (TM) to one young man, he replied to the effect that “…it never really went away.” A ‘devil may care’ attitude among the younger cohorts could be surmised. I don’t know. No one I spoke to displayed signs of planning in their response to the Dreaded Pathogen. Making it up as you go along seemed to be the best explanation for the behaviours I observed.
    Fourthly, as some have mentioned here of late, I observed noticeable rises in prices for basic food items compared to nine months ago. Nothing was visibly out of stock, but prices were up, perhaps depressing purchases.
    Fifthly, in my drive there and back, (though no dragons or hoards of gold were to be seen,) the traffic on Hwy 49 was faster than I remembered it being last year. More reckless driving as well. I had a pickup truck cut in front of me, I going the speed limit in my ageing Chrysler, with about a half a car length to spare between us. In our half horse town, I observed ‘in the wild’ a new four door Maserati automobile today. I see the occasional Ford Era Jaguar, they being a sort of “Middle Class Manx’s Sportscar,” so, no big deal. Also a few Porsche ‘family’ model cars. No real ‘sporty’ Porsches show up here. I have yet to see a 911, but do see a few Cayennes. Also seen on our streets are Mercedes G Class SUVs. From this I surmise that the PMCs associated with the University are paid a bit more than the ‘lumpenproleteriat’ who actually ‘do stuff.’
    All in all, an eventful day.
    Stay safe!

  24. Brunches with Cats

    “What the heck was David Remnick thinking?”

    Perhaps a better question is, “What the heck was David Remnick thinking with?” I made a snide comment in Tuesday’s WC suggesting that Toobin was just the one who got caught (put a guy in a room alone with a computer, and what are the odds he’ll take advantage of it?). This whole thing reminded me of an experience I had during a brief on-site contract in Silicon Valley in the 1990s.

    The company was in the final stages of acquisition by Disney, and there was a steady flow of traffic past my desk in and out of mahogany row. One morning I came in to deathly silence. One of the execs had been arrested for soliciting sex from a minor online — or so he thought. When he arrived for the tryst, he was met by police with handcuffs. As with Toobin, corporate leadership issued a vague statement worded in a way to give the impression that it was an isolated case by someone with a problem. A few months later, I had a bizarre experience that suggested otherwise.

    When my contract was up, I went back to freelance writing. One of the top execs had a new product in the works that I thought would make a good story, so I requested an interview. He wanted to do it at his home, to which I readily agreed, thinking it would provide some color for my article. The housekeeper answered the door, said he was on a call, showed me to the living room, and disappeared. I waited … and waited. There was no sign anyone was home, so I got up and started looking around. On one wall was a gallery of family photos, including a studio photo of a woman I assumed was his wife. She was dressed in a business suit over a lace push-up bra, cleavage shoved up to her ears, makeup like the bride of Frankenstein.

    Finally he came in for the interview, distracted and disengaged. I did the interview as efficiently as possible, thanked him, and got up to leave. Well, suddenly he wanted to give me a tour. Walking by the photos, he pointed out the picture of his wife and said she was some local business VIP, I forgot the details. Then he took me down to the basement, with theater seating and a full bar. He flipped on the VCR and played a clip from a film shoot of his house. At one point, he was shown quickly opening and closing a safe, inside of which was an adult magazine with a woman dressed in black leather straps on the cover. I looked at my watch, feigned distress by how late it was, I had a long drive home over the summit, etc.etc. He left me to show myself out, didn’t even turn on the porch light.

    On the way home, I started thinking about the weird little clues at the office that had gone right over my head, kicking myself for being so dense.

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