Links 10/26/2020

Animals Keep Evolving Into Crabs, Which Is Somewhat Disturbing Popular Mechanics

Time to Reset Expectations for World Economy With Virus Untamed Bloomberg

Nearly 12 Million Square Feet of Vacant Office Space in S.F. SocketSite

Apple, Google and a Deal That Controls the Internet NYT

The importance of Taleb’s system: from the Fourth Quadrant to the Skin in the Game Branko Milanovic, globalinequality. From 2018, still germane.


Nursing Home Staff Networks and COVID-19 (PDF) M. Keith Chen, Judith A. Chevalier, and Elisa F. Long NBER. From July, still germane. Quoting the abstract in its entirety:

Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities account for a disproportionate share of COVID-19 cases and fatalities worldwide. Outbreaks in U.S. nursing homes have persisted despite nationwide visitor restrictions beginning in mid-March. An early report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified staff members working in multiple nursing homes as a likely source of spread from the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington to other skilled nursing facilities. The full extent of staff connections between nursing homes—and the role these connections serve in spreading a highly contagious respiratory infection—is currently unknown given the lack of centralized data on cross-facility employment. We perform the first large-scale analysis of nursing home connections via shared staff and contractors using devicelevel geolocation data from 50 million smartphones, and find that 5.1 percent of smartphone users who visit a nursing home for at least one hour also visit another facility during our 11-week study period—even after visitor restrictions were imposed. We construct network measures of connectedness and estimate that nursing homes, on average, share connections with 7 other facilities. Controlling for demographic and other factors, a home’s staff-network connections and its centrality within the greater network strongly predict COVID-19 cases. Traditional federal regulatory metrics of nursing home quality are unimportant in predicting outbreaks, consistent with recent research. Multivariate regressions comparing demographically and geographically similar nursing homes suggest that 49 percent of COVID cases among nursing home residents are attributable to staff movement between facilities.

Holy moley.

Simulating the Potential Impacts Of Covid-19 School Closures on Schooling and Learning Outcomes: A Set of Global Estimates (PDF) The World Bank. Adam Tooze comments:

Nearly 80% of coronavirus-positive children in Japan infected by family members Japan Times. In Japan, school closures don’t protect children.

* * *

COVID-19 tracker: AstraZeneca gets OK to unpause U.S. trial; Merck’s slow and steady vaccine approach sparked internal debates: report Fierce Pharma

US faces major hurdles for COVID-19 vaccine distribution: Vaccine advisory committee Yahoo Finance. Good round-up also includes EUAs and a discussion of placebos.

Rush for results could lead to inferior Covid vaccine, say scientists Guardian. The headline is bad. This is the central argument: “[B]y spring, several vaccines may have passed their trials without any mechanism being in place to select which is the most effective for different groups…. It is expected that approval would be given to any vaccine that protects at least half of those injected with it. The problem will come when other vaccines appear and it is unclear whether or not they are better than the first licensed product.”

* * *

New England ice rinks shut down after coronavirus case clusters emerge linked to hockey The Hill. Cf. China and New Zealand’s experience with frozen foods?

Mitigating a COVID-19 Outbreak Among Major League Baseball Players — United States, 2020 Morbidity and Mortality Report

Policy Responses to COVID-19 International Monetary Fund. Browse by country.

* * *

Covid-19 and the Political Utility of Fear Craig Murray

Who Are the Scientists Behind the Great Barrington Declaration? MedPage Today

Covid-19 and the victory of quantitative easing The Spectator

Jubilation as Chile votes to rewrite constitution BBC. Via alert reader Timotheus on the Chilean overseas vote:

Lots of liberal Democrat mutuals high-fiving on how Chile “voted out fascism,” erasing fifty years of popular resistance — oh Lordie, another useful word corrupted — and the role we played installing fascism in the first place. Who was it who said “Americans have the memory of goldfish”? Zhou Enlai?

Bolivia’s Landslide Lays to Rest the Fears of Fraud International Crisis Group. Translation: “The margin was so great our goons at the OAS couldn’t cry ‘fraud,’ unlike last time.”

Venezuelan Hard Right Opposition Leader Leopoldo Lopez Flees to Spain Venezuela

Brazil soars to China’s No. 3 crude oil supplier in September Reuters


China Commercial Leases: Watching the Sausage Get Made China Law Blog

Marcum in the Middle: Watchdog Research Francine McKenna

The new Chinese migration to the Philippines: Inquirer columnist Straits Times

Philippines Halts Expat Retirement Visas on Senators’ Concern Bloomberg

Apple’s Shifting Supply Chain Creates Boomtowns in Rural Vietnam Bloomberg


India is caught between the need for good China relations and rising public anger South China Morning Post


Brexit: frustrating times EU Referendum

Johnson will wait for US election result before no-deal Brexit decision Guardian. Masterful inactivity….


Biden relies on pattern of activity to blame Russia for release of data from what is said to be his son’s laptop WaPo. “Do you see yonder cloud that’s almost in shape of a camel?” And–

Insisting that the Hunter Biden laptop is fake is a trap. So is insisting that it’s real. Thomas Rid, WaPo. The money quote, per Greenwald:

We must treat the Hunter Biden leaks as if they were a foreign intelligence operation — even if they probably aren’t… in the likely continued absence of certainty either way, the Biden leaks deserve the full potential-disinformation treatment.

So we really do live in a simulation, now? One designed and operated by counter-intelligence officials from the organs of state security?


Italy and Spain introduce sweeping new pandemic measures FT

Trump Transition

Scoop: Trump’s post-election execution list Axios. You say “Defenestrate Gina Haspel” like that’s a bad thing.

A Broken Census Can Break Democracy The Big Picture


Presidential election is forecast to have the highest voter turnout in 112 years with record 150m ballots expected to be cast, representing 65% of eligible voters – and 58m early votes are ALREADY in Daily Mail

Kamala Harris to make campaign stop in Texas Texas Tribune

Tech on the Ballot in November The Markup

* * *

Mark Meadows: U.S. ‘not going to control’ COVID-19 as nation adds 83,718 new cases UPI. From the transcript, which is contentious:

TAPPER: Why aren’t we going to get control of the pandemic?

MEADOWS: Because it is a contagious virus. Just like the flu, it’s contagious.

TAPPER: Yes, but why not make efforts to contain it?

MEADOWS: Well, we are making efforts to contain it. And that’s…

TAPPER: By running all over the country not wearing a mask? That’s what the vice president is doing.

MEADOWS: Jake, we can — we can get into the back — back-and-forth. Let me just say this, is, what we need to do is make sure that we have the proper mitigation factors, whether it’s therapies or vaccines or treatments, to make sure that people don’t die from this.

But to suggest that we’re going to actually quarantine all of America, lock down our…

TAPPER: I never said — no one — no one is saying that.

MEADOWS: Well, they are. Joe Biden is saying that.

TAPPER: That’s not what he said….

MEADOWS: Well, when we look — when we look at the number of cases increasing, what we have to do is make sure that we fight it with therapeutics and vaccines, take proper mitigation factors, in terms of social distancing and masks when we can.

And when we — when we look at this, what we’re — we’re going to defeat it, Jake, because what we are, we’re Americans. We do that. And this president is leading, while Joe Biden is sitting there suggesting that we’re going to mandate masks.

Oh. American Exceptionalism, our civic religion. (One minor question of fact: Elsewhere in the transcript, Meadows says the phrase “dark winter” comes from Biden. Tapper says he “thinks” Biden was quoting William Haseltine. I can’t find a quote to this effect from Haseltine, but Google is what it is. Biden used the phrase “dark winter” in debate, but did not cite to Haseltine. Can readers assist?) Meanwhile, Biden isn’t going to mandate masks, as Meadows says. He’s going to ask the governors to mandate masks, and if they don’t agree, he’ll jawbone state and local officials (“[Biden] insisted that official mandates would help, if only as a messaging tool.” So, public relations.)

Pence’s ‘body man’ among aides who tested positive for coronavirus: report The Hill

Feds say far-right group coordinated attack on Minneapolis police precinct during protest The Hill

Activist with ties to Ohio Republican legislators plotted to kidnap and kill Governor Mike DeWine WSWS (GF).

Realignment and Legitimacy

R.I.P., G.O.P. Editorial Board, NYT. “A healthy political system needs robust, competing parties to give citizens a choice of ideological, governing and policy visions. ” Obama, after winning the Democrat nomination in 2008, had the Preamble to the party platform revised to reflect this idea, and as we all know, won the election with a mandate for “hope and change.” Obama had his boot on the Republicans’ throat, gave them a hand up, dusted them off, and let them back in the game (engaging in prolonged negotiations with them to pass a Heritage Foundation-friendly, market-based health care plan, for example). So this West Wing-style quest for a rational interlocutor has been pursued in elite Democrat circles for some time, this year’s Great Assimilation™ being one consequence.

Democrats in Disarray

Pelosi commits to running for Speaker if Democrats retain House The Hill

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Zoom Deleted Events Discussing Zoom “Censorship” Buzzfeed. Because of course they did.

Why the U.S. Space & Rocket Center is teaming up with FBI

Our Famously Free Press

Facebook Prepares Measures for Possible Election Unrest WSJ

On the Week of the Election, Social Media Must Go Dark Wired. Election silence isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but why limit it to the platforms? How about polling? Advertising?

A Leaked Internal Report Reveals The Wall Street Journal Is Struggling With Aging Readers And Covering Race Buzzfeed. A comment:

Translation: “Now, don’t you trouble your pretty little Generation Alpha heads about capital!”

Imperial Collapse Watch

Expeditionary Advanced Basing Capabilities on Display During Exercise Noble Fury Marines. Island-hopping in the Pacific. Funny how the exercise-naming algo has never emitted “Operation Miles Gloriosus.”

There’s No Turning Back on AI in the Military Wired

Guillotine Watch

Private jets take off as wealthy flyers seek to avoid virus FT

Class Warfare

Yale’s David Swensen Puts Money Managers on Notice About Diversity WSJ. Stoller: “David Swensen is probably one of the most destructive people in American finance, validating the movement of large chunks of financial assets into hedge funds and private equity.”

Americans Working From Home Face Internet Usage Limits WSJ

Art Museums in the US Are Facing a Reckoning Jacobin

Use Your Bike as a Backup to Your Backup Power Supply IEEE Spectrum

I am Seriously Considering Going Back to Desktop Computers Miscellaneous Stuff. “What worries me as much as the end of general-purpose computing for the masses is that so few seem to understand that it is ending.”

Antidote du Jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. timotheus

    The Chile plebiscite vote totals exactly track income with the upper-middle-class neighborhoods of Santiago (Vitacura, Las Condes, Lo Barnachea) registering the only majorities for Reject. The country has much more European-style class politics and consciousness. Or as an Australian diplomat told me after two years in the country: “Anyone who is not a Marxist in Chile is not paying attention.”

    1. Susan the other

      I’m not following the elections in Chile and Bolivia except for the headlines. Which are wonderful. Bolivia’s election results blew the “Neoliberals” out of the water – the election “officials” couldn’t begin to claim fraud. Hopefully this is the force of the tsunami in Chile as well. And considering both Bolivia’s apparent trend and Argentina’s, it looks as if game over for extractive, exploitation-capitalism. Can Brazil be far behind?

      1. JTMcPhee

        Anyone taking that view ought to reflect on how the Powell Memorandum got circulated and acted on, and the tenacity of PNAS and related security and corporate structures, and the demonstrated ability of manipulators of public thinking to reverse or simply kill off by state terror the momentum of popular-will “uprisings.” Not to be too negative, but people who are used to power, who know how to go about accumulating it and exercising it ruthlessly and subtly to serve their own selfish ends, have an enormous advantage over the “popular” people who push for comity and equity and all that. Old story, retold and acted out again and again.

        The Takers know exactly what they want: EVERYTHING. And how to go about getting it. Decent people just want a sufficiency and equity for everyone. Who has the strongest drive to achieve what they want? Who will do “whatever it takes” to achieve their goals? Here’s how the aspirations (this is a long read) of Palestinians were crushed by their heroic (and vastly corrupt and self-serving) Fearless Leader:

        “A Republic, madam, if you can keep it.” Ol’ Ben understood the history and dynamics pretty well. And of course the US was an Empire from the git-go, murdering and looting across continents and oceans. Here’s one little episode that really hit the point for me: Check the attitudes toward domination in the propagandize correspondence that the US Navy guy used to describe how he put down the uppity locals.

        1. Susan the other

          I agree with everything you just said – except for one thing. Stuff like sabotage goes around and around – but it never happens in exactly the same way. And at some point, call me Pollyanna, it becomes necessary to begin to cooperate. I can think of various reasons already in existence, like our financial system has become dependent on “demand” and the Fed is backing small sovereign countries to help them get good interest rates. The reason western Neoliberals could not tolerate any kind of socialism – beyond a bare minimum, was because the West had an achilles heel as big as the World Bank – if one country succeeds socially other countries will follow. And the profits of big corporations depend on people needing to buy their goods and services at too high a price. It was simply the system – a hangover from earlier ideologies. This has never been acknowledged – we only know this is the old goalpost because that’s what happened, but now, I’d submit cautiously that, the tables have turned and the very thing the “CIA” needs is people – not dictators. Nobody is going to dictate to Planet Earth. Right?

  2. IdahoSpud

    I am Seriously Considering Going Back to Desktop Computers /

    Been using desktops since 1987, and home-built ones since 2006. I never did see the allure of a Laptop that has to be replaced rather than upgraded.

    Isn’t this the sort of thing we mean when we talk about right to repair?

    1. Krystyn Podgajski

      A very good laptop to check out; the Thinkpad T440, released in 2013. The only issue is that it chokes on HD videos. Everything is serviceable, including the backup internal battery. And it runs Debain Linux like a dream.

      I am thinking about building a low power draw desktop system for my minivan that will run off a a solar charged 300W battery. It could be more efficiency than my laptop even with a small display.

    2. fresno dan

      October 26, 2020 at 7:33 am

      Never left my desktop – sure, its a pain tending the coal bin, and getting all grimy and tough on the back too, and descaling the boiler, but with my steam power, I can run my flip phone too.

        1. WobblyTelomeres

          To take your quip (and it is funny, even older, grumpy, malformed-by-time guys can laugh at themselves) seriously, had a lot of luck with guitar shops, old non-chain pharmacies and hardware stores. One of my sons was led to the back storeroom of an old pharmacy in Florence, Alabama. The founding pharmacist’s pharmacist son presented an old tube tester and shelves of new old stock (NOS) tubes, having no idea what to do with them. My son had his vintage Marshall amp up and running shortly.

        2. ambrit

          Vacuum tubes? Those are too new fangled. Try an old Babbage system with punch cards to manage your steam powered looms. If you must include ‘electricity,’ step up to a Hollerith tabulator.
          I believe the idea of “steampunk” computers was explored in the novel, “The Difference Engine” co-written by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling.

    3. D. Fuller

      Every few years, the desktop is supposed to die. Consoles, tablets, phones, etc. were the desktop killers. Desktops moving to the cloud is the latest M&A schtick. Until the cloud goes down. I am waiting for a cloud failure resulting in billions of dollars lost and the attendant lawsuits. It is only a matter of time. Though the cloud is more robust given the enormous amount of resources – time, energy, money – being poured into it.

      Silicon Valley is adept at one thing now. Creating hype to create a market. Information economy & AI being two of my favorite overhyped buzzwords.

      Ad delivery is more efficient, kind of. No more relying on snail mail. I did place my “smart” phone in the bathroom just to see what would happened. Within minutes, Google was serving bathroom related ads (bidets, etc).

      Databases are still databases. Word processors are still word processors. Etc. The hardware has improved. The basics remain the same.

      Improvements? Yes. True revolutions in industry? No. Though the creation of the SSD gets an honorable mention. What? My “smart” phone is suggesting that the word “improvements” in this paragraph should be spelled “improv3ments”.

      The last true revolutions? The laser and transistor.

      Hah, the Linux desktop was supposed to take over from Windows. At least they gave up on this one.

      “Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated” -The Desktop Computer

      1. Anon II, First of the Name

        Silicon Valley is adept at one thing now. Creating hype to create a market. Information economy & AI being two of my favorite overhyped buzzwords.

        This may be true, but I don’t know if that is necessarily Silicon Valley’s fault. We have squeezed an awful lot of advancements out of the transistor and communications technologies (I would argue that antenna design and modulation techniques have been more important than the laser, incidentally), but these are old technologies, and they have carried the burden of advancements for 50-80 years (depending upon where you draw a line in the sand).

        It’s a bit unfair to expect continued “revolutionary innovation” on the consumer end without first having revolutionary advances in underlying technologies, I think.

        The places where the underlying technologies are experiencing quantum leaps are more in biology (e.g. CRISPR), but that is not my area of expertise.

        As an aside, AI is sort of the obvious logical progression to:
        (a) Software being cheaper to produce and iterate than hardware
        (b) Large amounts of storage
        (c) Large amounts of computing power
        (d) Large, interconnected networks.

        Yes, the term is overhyped and very poorly defined (in fact, if you press many of the most obnoxious proponents of AI, you will find that they consider it to little more than Bayesian stats, which is hardly revolutionary, even though the field has progressed far beyond that point now), but it is difficult to imagine that AI will not create fundamental changes going forward–only not across every aspect of life, and not within the very short time frames that people are assuming. In fact, the same was true of the transistor and the modern telecom network…

      2. Anon II, First of the Name

        Sorry, now that the caffeine is finally kicking in, I thought that I could craft a better response regarding your comment that , “Silicon Valley is adept at one thing now. Creating hype to create a market. Information economy & AI being two of my favorite overhyped buzzwords.

        I think that just about every industry, in the end, reaches the hype stage late in its cycle. Silicon Valley (the way most people think of it, anyway) comprises a set of industries that center around communications and transistors. Both of these quite old technologies, and to have gotten something like 80-100 years out of these same two basic magic tricks (by the time this plays out to its end) is actually pretty impressive. After all, people do not expect revolutionary new steam power technology anymore, and yet utilities are not criticised for being unable to revolutionize such systems.

        If you want a revolution, you should look at places where the technological fundamentals are advancing, as that is what drives the end-stage product innovations. I believe that the area where the fundamentals are changing most right now is biology (e.g. CRISPR), but that is not my area of expertise.

        I hope this makes more sense than my previous post

        1. farmboy

          CRISPR puts the GMO debate in the dustbin and yes some enterprising kid in a garage somewhere will build a carbon eating, great tasting, shipping and handling durable, grows in contaminated soil, Halloween candy

          1. Jeotsu

            As a cynical biochemist, I think CRISPR will be most effective at pulling away the next view of biology/biochem, and reveal the horror of complexity-turtles all the way down.

            We really don’t know what we don’t know, and way too much is still dealt with by hand waving and vague proclamations. Like how does the immune system distinguish self from non-self? No, really. How? Like at a molecule level.

            1. polecat

              A Telepod for every Aspiring STEM student!

              Say! How do you like your steak? Medium, or .. ‘off’??

        2. Phacops

          I have been watching CRISPR-Cas9 since seeing that only a 10 nucleotide homology can induce recombinational events, reducing specificity. Both minor and major errors have been showing up when researchers care to look.

          I as yet do not know how sophisticated were are in looking at errors in regulation and expression when there is DNA added at non-targeted locations in eucaryotes. In simpler systems it is well established that DNA supercoiling, impacts transcriptase access to genetic elements, and some regulation relies on relaxation of supercoiling in urder to activate both upstream and downstream elements.

      3. BobW

        The last place I worked before being forced to retire for health reasons ran off of AWS. That’s Amazon Web Services for those lucky enough not to have to know. It did run more or less reliably, but sometimes the net would hiccough, and we would sit around for a while, since there was literally nothing we could do. Maybe grab a broom to clean the break room, but nothing business related.

      4. Ray

        Hah, the Linux desktop was supposed to take over from Windows. At least they gave up on this one.

        Ironic, then, that Microsoft is incorporating more and more Linux into its Windows system.

      5. fajensen

        The last true revolutions? The laser and transistor.

        I am not so sure that “the last true revolution” has ended just yet. The laser was the first practical application of quantum mechanics. The Free Electron Laser is pure quantum mechanics, all the new magnetics (magnetoresistive) sensors are quantum devices, the rate of new tools and devices based on “Quantum Engineering” is growing exponentially (a low exponent, granted, but, faster and faster).

        The transistor was based on a wrong model, yet it still worked (and sometimes one still finds the original transistor models in introductory texts on electronics).

        The point being that: We think we understand something just because we have a model that makes predictions good enough for current stuff to work “well enough” and some people even believe that we know The Truth so there is no need to research anything. Then someone, a teenager usually, looking for a fresh thesis subject, peels at the flaking paint of the normal models and there is another, much richer, reality underneath.

        I’s say that one of the next “upsets” will be: Heat. The model for heat as vibrating things is wrong and there is a quantum-based model hiding underneath the 2 centuries of accumulated grime.

        I believe this will happen because people have found that heat will “teleport/tunnel” through a vacuum and into the test fixtures when the heat is generated by current inside a carbon nano-tube (where the lattice is too narrow to support the vibrations). Tunneling is a quantum phenomenon.

    4. philnc

      As a sysadmin/systems architect for over 20 years who still does a fair amount of coding, I still find myself doing most of my serious work on a desktop. For me, the cost/benefits of laptops vs desktops in processing power, memory, discrete graphics and expandabilty have consistently resolve in favor of desktops. I also run Linux on my primary desktop, where there are virtual Windows machines for interacting with systems that are (intentionally or indifferently) incompatible or hostile to open source solutions.

      Even as my role has evolved to make me spend too much time in kanban boards and mind maps, I still find myself more comfortable with a setup that includes multiple big monitors and plenty of excess horsepower unconstrained by the power and cooling limitations of the laptop form factor. I do have 3 laptops, all but one fairly old (a company machine running a Skylake i7 and a personal Thinkpad T430 with an i5, as well as newer Celeron Chromebook for media consuption when off the clock — its 8 to 10 hour battery life and halfway decent keyboard makes it my favorate portable device).

      UEFI hasn’t really been an issue for me yet, as the mainstream Linux distros I’ve stuck to (primarily Ubuntu and Fedora/CentOS) have good support for it.

      1. JCC

        As a Sys Admin I wholeheartedly agree (particularly since my primary job is administering/maintaining linux-based HPC systems (High Performance Computer clusters).

        I run only one windows (10) system at home, a 2-1 HP slim laptop, rarely used, and my main system is a fedora desktop that serves the whole house.

        In Apple’s defense, their newer laptops make an exceptionally good fedora box. UEFI works fine and the system is pretty snappy with an ssd and reliable, unlike when it was running Apple’s OS that couldn’t be updated anymore due to hardware age. A 15″ MacBook Pro running fedora OS is my primary “coffee table” system for media, etc.

      2. flora

        Note about UEFI /GPT: this initialization /partition type supports partitions much larger than 2TB, which is the BIOS /MBR partition size limit. Of course, the OS itself may have a partition limit size – how many words it can address in memory. But that’s a different issue.

        The original article seemed to suggest there’s something nefarious about UEFI but that’s not the case.

        1. RMO


          I ran afoul of UEFI (I think, could have been missing drivers) when, after my laptop hard drive died I tried to install Linux on the new one. I couldn’t get it to recognize and boot from any of the Linux versions I tried. Windows 7 wouldn’t start either but 10 did. Of course I couldn’t try changing the UEFI options until I had an OS up and running again and by the time I had 10 installed again I had lost my patience and have just been running it since. I find it funny though that one of the advantages of UEFI is the ability to support larger partition sizes than 2TB since I’ve found that new laptops all seem to come with tiny, tiny hard drives – 256 is common, 500 about the max for low and mid range options. 2TB seems to be the most you can option out at overall. I assume this is because we’re supposed to be keeping everything on the damn cloud and streaming on demand so a small hard drive is all that is needed. When I bought a new laptop recently I went with a budget gaming model as they were the only ones I could find that offered the option of a 1TB drive without spending a lot more money than I am willing to for a portable device that’s going to get banged around a lot.

          1. flora

            You’re right, on machines with <2TB hard drive partitions the pc doesn't need UEFI max capacity. BIOS is being phased out, however. UEFI is the way the market is going, it's being used even on laptops with <1 TB drives.

      3. JacobiteInTraining

        “…As a sysadmin/systems architect…”

        Yup, thats me as well, though i dont code. Got into computing at the tail end of the dumb terminal era, when everything was owned and operated by …whoever owned the computer center… and you just rented time. Saw the glory days, and now….seemingly right ‘back to the future’ w/Cloud. You just rent yer time from the big guys.

        I second or third the recommendations for old ThinkPads…430’s, 440’s, etc – refurbished, sold for dirt cheap, buy em OS-free and install some variant of Linux and you can live outside the OS-Cloud ecosystem if you prefer.

        I still have a ridiculously overpowered desktop whose sole purpose is to run …insert open-source virtualization platform of yearly choice, depending on my whims and mood… to host servers/clients/appliances of my own for testing, support, learning and what not.

        I dont game anymore, so the last reason most people have to own a Windows-OS is moot for me. i do have a windows laptop for the company i work for, but its off on its own network isolated from mine.

        Just random musings that a *lot* of techy types see (and have seen) this coming, find it incredibly distasteful, and both resist and evangelize for alternatives to ‘The Cloud’ (even as we/they may hypocritically make our salary from the same damn Beast.) :/

        1. WobblyTelomeres

          I found that after running Linux for 20+ years, people/family quit asking me for tech support. I just shrug, “I have no idea wtf Microsoft is doing these days.” I still have to bug my wife to use her work laptop when my GPS needs updating.

          Anyone remember Coherent?

    5. Keith

      It is, but there are trade offs, notably convenience. Laptops can go pretty much area, and when you are sharing space with others, it is a great benefit, as well as other benefits of being to bring your computer around. Add to the fact that prices have dropped and laptops generally last years (in my case at least), and benefits present themselves.

      With desk tops, many people do not have the skill set to modify/upgrade them. I tried once, got the wrong parts because this do-hickey (technical) term did not work with that class of chip or whatever. As time is a commodity itself, I never put forth the effort to learn enough about the hardware to be able to make the upgrade. As for hiring out, it seemed the cost of taking the computer to a shop did not outweigh the benefit of getting a new laptop.

      1. Jesper

        +1 on the convinience.

        I’d love to have a set-up with dual monitors and large keyboard but I simply do not have the space. The laptop takes up next to no space when not in use.

        I’ve got a Thinkpad T430. Bought it for the keyboard and the number of ports. It is now 8 years old. I’ve gone through two power adapters and have now replaced the SSD. Windows 7 is no longer supported so I might switch it to Linux. As is then I am starting to think that the only reason why I still use Windows is inertia.
        I’ve had no need to upgrade anything in the laptop for 5 years and I don’t forecase a need to upgrade it in the next 3-5 years, once the keyboard stops working then I might replace the whole laptop. The build quality of the consumer laptops have improved but not enough yet for me so the next laptop is likely to again be a refurbished business laptop.

        1. hdude

          …consumer laptops have improved but not enough yet for me so the next laptop is likely to again be a refurbished business laptop.

          Here Here. I have recently acquired 4 lightly used Dell E7450s laptops (one for everyone in the household) and upgraded them to 500GB SSD. Runs Win10 w/o issue. Average price $300. Does anything I need – Browsing, Edit, SpreadSheet, photo editing, stream movies, play dvds, do taxes and much more. This makes it easy to manage all of them. Probably the best value available at this time.

          1. Ook

            I made the mistake of trying to use a 55-in 4K TV as a monitor. Very cool, but after a couple of years you get screen burn.

  3. PlutoniumKun



    Brexit: frustrating times EU Referendum

    Johnson will wait for US election result before no-deal Brexit decision Guardian. Masterful inactivity….

    A few points – the EUReferendum site points out a key issue thats usually overlooked – not the question of a ‘deal or no deal’, but what the deal itself contains. Nobody really knows, but we do know that the EU has far better negotiators and a far stronger hand, so most likely the deal will strongly favour European businesses in the longer term. This is irrelevant of course for Boris because most Tory MP’s are stupid and don’t read the details (this is clearly an objective fact, not an insult), and the Tory papers will, if they think it is politically desirable, do everything to trumpet the deal as a ‘Johnson triumph’, whatever the actual contents of the deal. So viewed from this perspective, the EU are very serious when they say they want a deal – they know it will both avoid a January crunch and it will benefit their businesses and fishermen in the longer term.

    As for the Guardian article, Andrew Rawnsley yesterday outlined clearly why a Biden win is very bad news for the Tories (about the only reason I can think of for really wanting him to win). I suspect that a Trump win would embolden Johnson to go for no-deal, but a Biden win could cause significant panic (although even this is not clear, as there is plenty of evidence that Tories simply don’t realise how dimly they are viewed by Biden and his people).

    As to the other point about Macron’s scepticism being a ‘cover’ for other EU countries concerns with the deal, I think this is correct – again, its often overlooked, especially by UK commentators, that the EU is not run by Merkel/Macron, the smaller countries are well capable of pursuing their own ends. Perhaps Ignacio can comment here, but I strongly suspect that Spain will have something to say about a final deal, and could even potentially veto the whole thing if its seen as politically advantageous for the government.

    But ultimately, I think the ball is very much in London’s court – whether or not there is a deal will largely come down to the political calculations of a core of senior Tories, most of whom are not elected representatives. My gut feeling is that they want to give Johnson a big victory so he can be sent out to lucrative pastures, clearing the way for a new face in the Spring. They really don’t care whats in any deal, so long as its saleable as a victory, and with almost complete Tory dominance of the media, they could sell pretty much anything.

    1. Anon II, First of the Name

      the EU is not run by Merkel/Macron, the smaller countries are well capable of pursuing their own ends.

      The fact that most of the countries are undergoing economic depression and yet seem to be imposing austerity measures suggests that you are incorrect on this point…

      1. a.matthey

        I don’t see how… There is nothing contradictory between his thesis and your statement. Austerity and supply-sides reforms are the dominant ideologies in most small EU countries and their capitals.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        In almost all those cases, those countries have centre right pro-austerity parties that were voted in by their own electorates. Austerity has not been imposed by Brussels, or by Germany/France. The Finns, Austrians, Dutch, etc., are among the strongest proponents, even the Baltic countries are to a large degree enthusiasts.

        Until people rid themselves of this ridiculous notion that austerity is being ‘imposed’ from above, it will never be overcome. Since the 1980’s almost all EU countries have consistently voted for pro-austerity political parties, that is the simple reality.

        1. Susan the other

          I don’t know how the confusion is equalized here – but smaller electorates are more conservative because their populations are coherent enough to maintain a direct value relationship from money to people. In that everybody is employed; nobody is extracting; nobody is shutting down; nobody is creating obvious inequality. But at the large national level all this is happening at accelerating speeds. It’s almost a question of communication. Hey, why can’t I afford to live anymore? Because people we never met are sucking us dry.

    2. David

      Yes, I think the EU is waiting for the UK to fold, and to sign anything in order to say that there was a “deal”, and confound the naysayers. Partly this is because, as we’ve discussed, there’s no time now for the 27 to agree anything new. I think they will, because I don’t see Boris having the stamina or the inclination to fight yet more battles on Brexit within the Tory Party and in the country.He’ll retire (at least for a bit) as the man who Got It Done. Of course, this could always be derailed by the Tory party’s bottomless capacity for stupidity, but I think the odds are on them climbing down.
      On the smaller countries, it’s true that Merkel and Macron don’t run the EU, and the impression they sometimes give that they do annoys and irritates others. I see every possibility that one of the smaller states will decide to make a bit of trouble, to extract some kind of a price for their agreement, while also reminding the big states that they exist.

      1. The Rev Kev

        ‘Yes, I think the EU is waiting for the UK to fold’

        Probably because they know that the UK is playing with a two pair of black aces and black eights – otherwise know as a dead man’s hand. It didn’t have to be that way but those are the cards that Boris is going with.

  4. a different chris

    Gupta, a professor of theoretical epidemiology in the department of zoology at Oxford University, has spoken out on several occasions about her anti-lockdown stance.

    “We can’t just think about those who are vulnerable to the disease,” Gupta told The Guardian in June. “We have to think about those who are vulnerable to lockdown too. The costs of lockdown are too high at this point.”

    I wonder how Dr Gupta would feel if say, Dean Baker gave a widely published opinion on “theoretical epidemiology”?

    “I am smart therefore I do not need to stay in my line like you little people” is apparently her schtick.

    And again, I also like the inability of people that actually work in a teaching environment to somehow have a picture of a school filled with nothing but children. Who just are there 24/7. Did they think Lord Of The Flies was based on their local primary?

    1. jef

      What part of theoretical epidemiology do you not understand?

      Lord Of The Flies is fiction and not based on anything but was totally made up.

      1. ewmayer

        Dude, theoretical epidemiology is, like, as bogus as theoretical physics, which dabbles in esoterica like ‘gravity’ and ‘quantum mechanics’ which have 0 relevance to the real world. How dare you question NC’s self-appointed academic-credentials-checker ADC?

    2. Anthony G Stegman

      What the heck is “theoretical epidemiology” anyway???? Sounds like a bulls*t job to me.

      1. AnonyMouse

        Follow the money!

        Let’s not forget that this same Prof Gupta also “published a paper” (actually a PDF that wasn’t even a pre-print and was never peer-reviewed) arguing that 50% of people in the UK had COVID-19 in March.

        That was before 50,000 people died.

        That same paper urged antibody testing to “confirm” its conclusions. And then when the antibody tests suggested only 7-8% had been infected, Gupta changed her tune and argued that perhaps there was some other kind of immunity that didn’t show up in the testing.

        She has been anti-lockdown from the start, and has repeatedly discarded hypotheses to shape her conclusions. It’s not great science.

  5. PlutoniumKun

    The new Chinese migration to the Philippines: Inquirer columnist Straits Times

    This article is a useful primer on the complexity of racial/political politics in Asia, especially in the traditionally weaker countries. Its so often forgotten by non-Asian commentators that the local rivalries and concerns are far deeper than anything represented by European colonialism or US Imperialism. Most small Asian countries are far more worried about what China or Japan will get up to than anything the US will do.

    I was in Manila a few years ago, and went looking for a bank to change some money – google maps indicated one a short walk from my guesthouse – although I’d forgotten that nobody seems to walk there, especially in that heat. After gasping my way across roads clearly not designed for pedestrians I found that the ‘bank’ was within an utterly gigantic featureless modern building (no windows whatever). I walked around it to find a grand entrance, and used my white privilege (well, red and sweaty privilege by that time) to stroll past the security and doormen. It turned out to be a monstrously oversized casino, and nearly everyone inside was Chinese. I asked some Phil friends about it later and they shrugged but were clearly resentful – it was all part of the usual corrupt dubious Duterte dealings involving Chinese money – and it was obviously built and designed for Chinese only, not for locals, even rich ones.

    Some of the worst massacres in Asian history had a strong racial element – the Khymer Rouge focused on lighter skinned people (mostly ethnic Vietnamese), in Indonesia it was mostly Chinese ethnic people who the focus for killing during Suharto’s reign, similarly in Malaysia in the 1950’s. Sometimes it was because the Chinese were associated with the merchant class, sometimes because they were seen as Labour leaders – but no doubt in all cases it was because they (along sometimes with ethnic Indians or Japanese) were scapegoated by local leaders.

    I don’t think there is any good reason to think that this kind of thing won’t happen again. My suspicion is that this is one reason why the Chinese are so interested in building aircraft carriers – they are they type of weapon needed to intervene in a local conflict where Chinese interests are heavily at stake.

  6. timbers

    Apple’s Shifting Supply Chain Creates Boomtowns in Rural Vietnam Bloomberg

    Had the headline read “Rural America” Trump might well be ahead in the polls right now. The corporate media won’t let you read such ideas on the MSM.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      This is what amazes me – there was a huge opportunity right now for Trump to push harder for the relocation of industry from China – there has been a flood of companies leaving for some years now (the boomtown in northern Vietnam has been ongoing for a few years now and its nearly all in western suppliers). Something similar is happening in Indonesia and Bangladesh. Its happy news for those countries, but given the huge cost to the companies, it really wouldn’t have taken much to push/pull them back to the US. For all the bluster, the mercantilist mentality that built the US in the 19th Century seems well and truly dead, most likely murdered by Milton Friedman.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Trump is too limited to set and follow through on an agenda without help, and the GOP doesn’t want to change the policy. Team Blue is no different and won’t set an alternative to the status quo, so he doesn’t have to respond.

        1. timbers

          Thk that is indeed the closest to the truth as I can see. Trump displayed no follow through/organizing to achieve stated goals, easily distracted and thrown off course. Like US jobs. Apple has been relocating jobs for yrs. All the while an ignored prime opportunity to bring Apple jobs to US. Another ex: North Korea the agreed actions towards peace. Trump completely blew off his side AND sent rabid warmongers to implement & “fix” any problems. Even Trump had to know that was exactly the same thing as reneging and voiding the peace deal.

          1. polecat

            In all fairness to Trump, if he hadn’t been attacked and berated from Day One of his presidency .. by both the spineless Rinos and corrupt Demos, he might’ve gotten more accomplished. I mean, who WOULD’NT be distracted under such unprecedented conditions of foulplay! .. especially for one not of the D.C. body!

      2. JohnnyGL

        I think a full 4 year term of Trump has demonstrated, pretty obviously, that Trump wasn’t really very serious or bold enough on changing the course of the country’s policy framework. He has a general fondness for tariffs and a couple of decent people in his administration with good ideas (Lighthizer and Navarro) but 1) it’s clear Trump himself has an incomplete understanding of what conditions underpin industrialization and 2) was more dedicated to his own self-promotion and hyper-focused on personal loyalty than to making a more fundamental policy shift.

        I think we’ll have to see how badly Trump loses, but if the results show that he is still somewhat close, then it will be clear just how LITTLE he needed to improve things to get re-elected.

        Regarding Milton Friedman infecting everyone’s brain. It’s quite crazy to see how large chunks of the leadership of both parties are firmly, almost immovably, dedicated to doing nothing and will perform all kinds of mental and verbal gymnastics to justify doing nothing, even at political cost to doing so. It’s really quite disturbing. Look at the Mark Meadows interview above, these guys can’t be bothered to lift a finger to fight a pandemic, let alone re-orient 40-odd years of trade and industrial policy.

        1. flora

          They’ve been hypnotized by Milton’s nonsense. They surrendered to the fantasy of marketism. Their donors make their trance very very comfortable to prevent them from snapping out of it and waking up.

          1. Susan the other

            It’s just my knee-jerk BS detector, but it tells me that manufacturing the essentials for a nation to live adequately is really not a global logistical problem. We need to get back to localism – it will easily provide sufficient provision, and closely monitored because – “it’s there” – and reduce the crazy arbitrage and profiteering going on globally. Which skews the entire global “economy” into a spiral that looks like critical mass. And there are other reasons as well – but they are humanist and sociological so nobody bothers as they are not easily monetized.

            1. CanCyn

              “We need to get back to localism”. I couldn’t agree more STO. I shop locally as much as possible and have for a very long time.
              I have to say that when I advocate for such and decry the global supply chain, I am somewhat stymied by those who say ”but what about the foreign workers who have come to rely on making our stuff for their living? Don’t I care about them?” The obvious answer is that I don’t care to exploit them or benefit from their less than adequate wages and benefits. ”But what else would they do, isn’t something better than nothing?” I have trouble with this argument. What does happen to all the folks that the global economy employs, however inadequately? Is it too late to stop this madness?

              1. Kfish

                Most of those foreign workers were once villagers with their own land in their own community, before they were thrown off to make room for mega-farms growing cash crops. Relocalisation of production in the developed nations could reduce the demand that feeds those giants and give the little guys a fighting chance to get their land back.

                1. Lambert Strether Post author

                  > Most of those foreign workers were once villagers with their own land in their own community, before they were thrown off to make room for mega-farms growing cash crops.

                  That is true. It’s not easy to be a peasant, though.

                  1. Noone from Nowheresville

                    True but it’s also not easy to be a person with even fewer options once the commons have been more fully enclosed.

      3. jefemt

        The Bloomberg article was paywalled… Might it have to do with wages and overhead, in the Great Race to the Bottom that is Globalization?

        Every penny saved on wages, salaries, inures directly to the bottom line.

        The part I like best about globalization is retail prices stay at US highest-levels, ‘what the market will bear’, and the company rakes in that second layer of moo-lah, the savings in production are not passed along to us consumer taxpayer lemmings.

      4. zagonostra

        I saw an article today that referred to Trump as akin to a “vaporware” president. I thought that was a pretty good description, promise everything ahead of launch, deliver nothing after purchased.

          1. Noone from Nowheresville

            Or more importantly getting the corporate executive suite to buy in for a multitude of reasons since many of the original products used in corporate offices were superior to the Microsoft offerings. Plus smart for giving certain companies licenses for their users to use free at home. Plus smarter still to build in the ability to spy on the employees that middle management wanted before that became a required thing. etc., etc., etc. Microsoft is a huge case study all on its own.

            Ah, those were the days.

    2. philnc

      2020: Howie Hawkins went MMT at this week’s Open Presidential Debate. While his statements have fallen short of what some devotees demand, what he said is still a pretty major break with the deficit myth thinking that dominates the rest of the field. A while back he said he had Stephanie Kelton’s new book on backorder. It’s now clear he read it. Of course it won’t get covered because, well, a Green said it and the Green voicesvneed to be suppressed at all costs (like freedom of speech and association). Anyway, here’s the link for anyone who’s interested:

      1. edmondo

        It’s really hard to vote for a party who doesn’t know where their vice presidential candidate lives. You can’t pretend to run the country if you can’t run a campaign. Hillary proved it. Trump is re=proving it. Howie Hawkins is confirming it. The egos on the left are a bigger problem than the policies.

        1. Big River Bandido

          Yeah, all that is true. I still voted for Hawkins today. Couldn’t vote for either of two major party clowns.

      2. Carla

        Thanks, philnc, but that’s an 11 HOUR video. I sure ain’t wading in to hear Howie Hawkins’ meanderings about MMT. I already voted for him, although of course not for reasons that had anything to do with him.

        1. philnc

          Sorry, the link generated used to take you directly to the point of the recording where he spoke on the issue. Not that anyone will care, but I’ll youtube-dl, slice and dice and reupload to my YT account tonight.

    1. diptherio

      I seriously doubt that. No mention of pandemic diseases in that scenario, just “An outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease in Taiwan began about three weeks ago and is having a devastating impact on the local swine industry.” which is based on actual events from the late 90s. Adjust your tinfoil hat and try again.

    2. Jeotsu

      I was at a bioterrorism conference in 2001 (June or July, I know it was summer). About half the participants were US Mil, the rest of us were scientists making devices that detected biomolecules in “complex environments”.

      One interesting subject of conversation was “what do we do if there is a UniPowderer”? In context, this was a discussion of what could be done if someone started shipping Anthrax through the US Post Office. And it would happen 3 months later (reference to the UniBomber).

      My presence at that conference is how I know I was on the list of people the FBI investigated once that Anthrax attacks began. :)

      And to answer the obvious question: nobody present really had any good idea what to do to prevent/inhibit attacks through the post.

  7. The Rev Kev

    “Pelosi commits to running for Speaker if Democrats retain House”

    Pelosi could die in office and yet they would still wheel her in on a trolley like something from “Silence of the Lambs” rather than let anybody else fill that position. She reminds me of what the French said of their elderly politicians a century ago. It was not enough that they eventually died, they said, but you had to push them over to make sure that they were.

    1. Carolinian

      An article on Russia says they think we are going through our Brezhnev phase of geriatric leaders. Apparently Biden’s latest gaffe from the basement was to blank on who he is running against and say “George Bush” and Jill whispered the right answer in his ear.

        1. Pat

          Probably disco with a smattering of WWII*. See Cher singing “Happiness is a Thing Called Joe”

          *Without any of the innocence but a whole lot more of the war profiteering.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > See Cher singing “Happiness is a Thing Called Joe”

            OMG, OMG. Here’s the Peggy Lee version:


            Skies ain’t gonna cloud no more
            The crops ain’t gonna fail
            Caught a blue bird by the toe
            A rainbow by the tail
            A certain man with eyes that shine
            Voodoo’d up this heart of mine

            It seems like
            Happiness is just a thing called Joe
            He’s got a smile that makes the lilacs want to grow
            He’s got a way that makes the angels heave a sigh
            When they see Little Joe passing by
            Sometimes the cabin’s gloomy and the table’s bare
            But when he kisses me it’s Christmas everywhere
            Troubles fly away and life is easy

            Does he love me good?
            That’s all I need to know

            Seems like happiness is just a thing called Joe
            Little Joe

            What stuns and appalls me — and gives me The Fear — is that Cher, and voters like her, may not be cynical; they may actually believe this, or something close to it.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Huh, hadn’t heard that one so I looked it up and found that MSDNC is even running it –

        I guess someone didn’t get the memo about not running stories that make Uncle Joe look bad.

        What does it all mean? Is the Blob in the tank for Kamala the Kop? Or is this just another example of the DC elites proving themselves stupider and more incompetent every day?

      2. chuck roast

        Randy Credico recently opined that the Democrat Biden is the Weimar’s Hindenburg. A decrepit, senile old man rolled out by the ruling elite to prevent the mad radical (take your pick) from taking control. We all know how the Weimar experiment turned out.

    2. nippersmom

      My dream is that Shahid Buttar shocks Pelosi and the rest of the DC establishment by defeating her November 3. So much for committing to run for Speaker, Ms. Pelosi, you arrogant harridan.

      1. Pat

        That is second only to my dream that Americans come to their senses and we find Biden/Harris and Trump/Pence tied for fourth behind third parties and write ins.

        Third is that somehow KY writes in Booker and both McConnell and McGrath cry into their champagne on election night.

        I have a rich and full fantasy life, that often leaves me deeply disappointed.

    3. Susan the other

      Spit my coffee. Just thinking that the electioneering industry needs a new deus ex machine thingy. One that artificially sucks a persons teeth while they look sorta blank – like they are in deep thought; and maybe raises their forearms and hands and separates their fingers in emphasis; twists their goofy faces into a pleasant smile – and lip sinks their idiotic non-sequitur confusion into simple yes-no answers. Either that or a mandatory retirement age because most people try to outlive their sell-by date, especially in politics.

    4. Lex

      You’ll need to find her lair and the coffin she’s hidden there, and you’ll need a stake and something pretty heavy to drive it into her chest. The tricky part will be getting past her watchdogs, catching her snoozing, and locating her heart. That last part seems dangerous.

      Maybe just drag that whole mess out into the sunlight?

      1. Kfish

        Her death is hidden inside a needle which is hidden inside an egg inside a cave, a la Koschei the Deathless of Russian folklore. We’ll need a brave maiden with a sword.

  8. Philip

    American Exceptionalism, our civic religion. (One minor question of fact: Elsewhere in the transcript, Meadows says the phrase “dark winter” comes from Biden. Tapper says he “thinks” Biden was quoting William Haseltine. I can’t find a quote to this effect from Haseltine, but Google is what it is. Biden used the phrase “dark winter” in debate, but did not cite to Haseltine. Can readers assist?

    I have no idea who this William Haseltine fella is. (prolly a good thing?) In any case, this may well be the entry point into the current lexicon:

  9. Mikel

    RE:Apple / Google

    “Apple now receives an estimated $8 billion to $12 billion in annual payments — up from $1 billion a year in 2014 — in exchange for building Google’s search engine into its products. It is probably the single biggest payment that Google makes to anyone and accounts for 14 to 21 percent of Apple’s annual profits.”

    Everybody with retirement accounts tied to the stock market should be terrified. Many are in index funds overweighted in these companies and even if the DOJ doesn’t stop the deal, this is all thin gruel for any economic foundation.
    It is NOT that hard to switch search engines.
    But this could all be a ploy to set up a precedent where they make it impossible to.

    DuckDuckGo Forever!!!

    And get hip to the Ghostery browser while at it.

    1. JohnnyGL

      It’s actually quite interesting, kind of a peak behind the curtain of the real business power structure in Silicon Valley.

      It turns out Google is one of the top dogs and Apple is more of a 2nd tier player, riding shotgun on Google’s payroll.

      Some hefty checks have to get written to maintain the power structure as is.

      1. RMO

        “It is NOT that hard to switch search engines.”

        Maybe, but is even less easier to not switch from the default. This is why getting your product in as the default option is so effective at increasing market share to the point where it is a near monopoly. I use DDG myself, and never found Google to be that great even in the early days so I’ve always used different search engine options but the vast majority just use Google.

  10. Wukchumni

    New England ice rinks shut down after coronavirus case clusters emerge linked to hockey The Hill. Cf. China and New Zealand’s experience with frozen foods?

    I’m sitting out resort skiing this winter, as it was one of the early indicators of something’s not right there in being vectors for the virus in Feb-March @ US resorts. I had a ‘Danger Will Robinson!’ moment around February 10th @ Mammoth, when I was picking up my skis from being waxed, there was a Chinese family of 4 being sized and set up for rental skis, and having followed the virus and luckily not vice versa, China was the only vector I knew of then. I went out of my way to avoid passing by them via slalom.

    A friend my age knew a 32 year old woman who died of it after returning from an Italian ski resort where she was one of 13 out of 14 LA skiers in their group to contract it.

    I bailed out on our monthly March trip the Friday before we were to start on Sunday, and it was a moot point as the resorts all closed up the next day.

    As the cases pile up early this winter, i’d expect the resorts to be taboo. They’ve come up with social distancing rules for the new season, but nothing can be done about the cold temps that come with the territory.

    …in contrast, didn’t hear much about clusters of Covid on the trail in the wilderness where it was warm in the summer, at similar altitudes

    1. The Rev Kev

      ‘I bailed out on our monthly March trip the Friday before we were to start on Sunday’

      I remember you talking about that in comments and trying to make up your mind as what would be the best thing to do. I suppose that a lot of people at the time were wondering the same thing too. There has been a lot of water passing under that bridge since then and it looks ski ski trips are still out. And trips to Vegas too for that matter.

      1. jefemt

        I just saw that there is a (dps model?) pieps transceiver that can accidentally switch to non-transmit mode. Black Diamond, the owner of Pieps, is working throught the issue. Lots of speculation that backcountry skiing will be huge this winter, as an unforseen result of covid. Worry that many people may wittingly or unintentionally dump the Pieps onto Craigslist, adding fuel to a la nina big snow winter and potentially larger than normal number of avalance-sad-day events.

      2. Wukchumni

        My posse of pole workers are all still planning on going, having spent six hundred semollians for the rite. Judging from how often i’m being hit up for really good season pass deals online, in ‘1-week only’ come-ons that change names fortnightly, their sales must be kinda slow.

        When I was growing up most every ski resort was independently owned, and now the majority are parts of say the 15 resorts that Alterra Mountain Co. owns and operates, or other liked concerns who own similar swathes.

        The nice thing about having all those resorts was you could make 15x as much profit, the downside being the slope as we shall see soon the oncoming swoon, the black diamond masque of depth.

        1. bruce

          Pole workers? You run a strip club? Oh, and is that a badger in the picture? It looks awfully smug?

      3. Wukchumni

        There has been a lot of water passing under that bridge since then and it looks ski ski trips are still out. And trips to Vegas too for that matter.

        Assaults on the public have been ramping up in Pavlovegas as negative reinforcement due to the low room rates houses of chance are offering in attempts to have you as a ‘loss leader’.

        Gun crimes and assaults are on the rise on the Strip; aggravated assaults in the area covering the Strip are up 29 percent since last year

        1. RMO

          Ice rinks seem to me to be an obvious high hazard area for covid. The NHL managed a season but look at the extreme precautions they needed to take in order to do so.

  11. zagonostra

    >Commodification of Charity

    Gofund me has a new category called “Food,Rent, Monthly Bills” that Jimmy Dore covers in below link. It takes a comedian to expose just how insane life in the U.S. has become for some. The political system is broken, corrupt, and beyond reform. Without a seismic shift that entails a party realignment or viable third party it will be more of the same until the system collapses for those who remain relatively well off. For those depending on “Go Fund Me” for paying medical bills or now regular monthly bills, it already has.

  12. Jos Oskam

    “…Seriously Considering Going Back to Desktop Computers…”

    I have never left the desktop computer. Ever since the IBM PC it has been the core of my private ICT setup. And I do not intend that to change anytime soon.

    The heart of my system is a big tower with a large power supply, both from reputed specialized manufacturers, and by now almost 15 years old. Roomy enough for lots of internal drives, front-panel stuff, full-size ATX mainboard, big graphics adapter and multiple cooling fans.

    Throw in a top-of-the line mechanical keyboard, quality mouse, big flatscreen monitor, high-resolution camera and serious 5.1 surround speaker system and there is a setup that is impossible to beat by any laptop or portable currently on the market.

    And everything connects and mounts through relatively stable industry-standard interfaces. So, I regularly upgrade parts without having to replace the whole. The old CRT was replaced by a flatscreen. Mainboard and graphics adapter have been upgraded several times, as have memory and disk drives. Spilled coffee on the keyboard isn’t nice but not the disaster it would be on a laptop.

    As for software, boot Linux, boot Windows, boot VMware, whatever, this is trivial in a system with multiple hard drives.

    Over the course of 15 years, the whole configuration has probably been replaced, part by part, a bit every year as needs arose and technology became available. I have lost count of the number of portable devices I have owned over that period, and I don’t even want to think about their total cost.

    Yes, portable devices are useful, but if I were forced to choose, my desktop system would be the last to go.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I use an old desktop myself running Win7 because it suits my needs and I don’t need a high-end computer. In any case, there was no way that I was ever going to sign up for Win 8 or especially Win10 when they came in as that was a bridge too far. With so many programs and the like being on the cloud, I suspect that the endgame for Silicon Valley is that for your desktop computer, that you will have a monitor, a keyboard and a mouse. In other words, a Dumb Terminal. But you should be aware that the newer generation computers will have newer processors that will be unable to use older operating systems to force you to adopt Win10-

      1. cyclist

        My favorite machine is also a desktop – a home built hackintosh still running OSX 10.8.4. That version of the OS is getting a bit ancient so I’m trying to decide if it is worth building a new hackintosh or going Linux. Not keeping up with things Apple and wondering if some of the new OS versions are going to be more trouble/crap. Might go Linux on my older Lenovo ThinkPad T430, since I can’t update Win 7 any longer. My work computer is not inspiring me to make the leap to Win 10.

        1. RMO

          I’m still running 7 on my desktop. 10 was out for quite a while when I built it but I didn’t feel like using it – have it on my laptop and still don’t want to change the desktop unless I absolutely have to. I’ve done what I can to make 10 less privacy invading but I still don’t trust it entirely. It’s used for gaming so I’m planning on sticking with Windows. On the desktop front I skipped entirely over the SATA hard drive era. My previous desktop was built long enough ago that it 1TB SATA spinning disks were the only practical option and the new one is recent enough I went with a 1TB M.2 hard drive.

  13. fresno dan

    For the most part, there’s nothing terribly remarkable in Maryland’s LEOBR, though I suppose there are a couple of items that could use a fresh look. The linked article mentions one of these, specifically the five-day grace period given to officers after they’re accused of misconduct before they have to speak to investigators.
    Sometimes, I actually have hope. A good portion of the commenters aren’t buying the idea that police bill of rights laws are a benign little adjunct to the bill of rights. That there shouldn’t be supra rights for police above and beyond what is available to citizens.

    1. John Anthony La Pietra

      If police want to be seen as protecting and serving, maybe they should look at their private Bills of Rights and related statutory/contractual provisions, figure out which ones they’re willing to allow to protect us too, and give up the rest.

      (I remember my Constitutional Law professor telling us journalists didn’t really have more First Amendment rights than the rest of us — they just use them more often. . . .)

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > That there shouldn’t be supra rights for police above and beyond what is available to citizens.

      Exactly. We’re going to make cops a protected class? What next? Intelligence officials?

  14. John Beech

    The WSJ is only suffering because they are failing to adapt. Young people will want to grow their wealth just as much as I have and knowing what Jon Meacham thinks of President Trump is immaterial to that goal. Ditto knowing what the Kardashians are doing – except – as it represents an opportunity to invest or short. In other words, business intelligence is just that, intelligence, or data which you either integrate into your investing scheme, or neglect. Just as long as you bear in mind there are no participation prizes when it comes to growing your wealth. And where they are downright stupid is in not creating value and hanging onto the old-school form of dispensing information, the printed page. After all, even I gave up my beloved newspaper whilst sipping hot coffee in favor of the internet and a tablet, PC, or phone. They need to get on with it and adjust pricing whilst they’re at it because nobody will pony up more than perhaps $10/year for a subscription because there are simply too many other ways of gathering intelligence. The WSJ is no longer as exclusive as it once was. They need to deal with this reality. Or die – I don’t really care which.

    1. The S

      The WSJ is a Fox/Murdoch newspaper, so no young people believe WSJ anymore than they would Fox news. And the number of young people trying to “grow their wealth” is minuscule these days. When most are living with their parents, swamped in student medical debt, and working in a service/gig economy that pays pittance wages, what money do they have to invest? I’d say a lot more young people are looking to overturn the systems of rent-seeking and collecting interest/dividends than are interested in reading a paper upholding these destructive practices.

  15. Carolinian

    Craig Murray

    The problem is that it is a truism of politics that fear works in rendering a population docile, obedient or even grateful to its political leaders. The major restrictions on liberty under the excuse of the “war on terror” proved that, when the statistical risk of death by terrorism has always been extraordinarily small to any individual, far less than the risk of traffic accident. All the passenger security checks that make flying a misery, across the entire world, have never caught a single bomb, anywhere.

    Trump was attacked recently for saying don’t be afraid and gosh knows he’s done plenty of fearmongering himself. But maybe facing expulsion he’s finally hit the right note. There’s a time for fear and a time for attacking “fear itself.”

    1. pjay

      The trouble with Trump hitting the right note once in a while is that he will inevitably go back to the wrong note in his next news conference, tweet — or sometimes his next sentence.

      But I thought Murray’s points on fear mongering were good ones, and his overall discussion of COVID made several reasoned arguments that need to at least be considered.

    2. Alex

      That’s faulty reasoning though on Craig Murray’s part. Traffic deaths do not change much from year to year, they cannot possibly double next year. On the other hand terrorism could easily cause 10 times more deaths, which makes

      Also, the argument that the security checks haven’t caught a single bomb and therefore are useless is like saying that since I have never been robbed locking doors is useless.

      1. vlade

        Actually, the security checks as such might not have capture many bombs, but they almost certainly deterred number of attacks. CF 1960s and early 1970s, for example the famous Dawson Field hijacks etc. Between 68 and 82 there was almost 700 hijacks or hijack attempts, and in the 1972 June-July there were five hijacks in the US alone.

        After the Memphis-Orlando flight in Nov 1972, where the hijackers were threatening to crash the plane into a nuclear power station (yes, 9/11 were copycats), in 1973 US introduced gate security, and it gradualy spread across the world. Which dropped the number of hijacks a lot (second half of 80s had only 11 hijacks all together), although of course you can never eliminate them.

        Where Murray is right is that the additional checks introduced are really just theatre, as their marginal safety impact is small to negligible.

        The proliferation of MANPADs is IMO a higher threat, although a guy I know working on threat assement was always telling me it wasn’t w/o too many specifics.

    3. David

      Murray is right about airport security theatre, but the problem with his argument is that it’s infinitely extendable. At the next dinner party you’re invited to, try the following arguments with your liberal fellow guests:

      – young black men are far more likely to die in car accidents than at the hands of the police, therefore …
      – women are far more likely to die in car accidents than at the hands of their male partners, therefore …

      and see if you make it out alive.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “Mark Meadows: U.S. ‘not going to control’ COVID-19 as nation adds 83,718 new cases”

    And it is because of people like Mark Meadows that the pandemic got out of control on his watch. The measures taken were half-hearted, too late and no central coordination as being undertaken. Even now the counter measures are ill-thought out, unworkable and have led people to finally revolt. So what is Meadows offering up as a public health policy to deal with this virus? By the sounds of it, “jazz hands”. You read his bio and it sounds like someone that you would want nowhere near the levers of government-

    1. Carolinian

      got out of control

      Your base assumption is that we have control and most especially that the federal government controls state health policy. When Trump mulled a quarantine of the NYC area–quite likely the prime source of covid on the east coast–Cuomo said no. I’d say blaming covid on Trump is not fact but “narrative.”

      Of course by posing in front of cameras with an ‘I’m in charge’ stance he put himself into that narrative but that’s still what it is.

      1. Pookah Harvey

        Here is a 2009 discussion at NPR on the response from the Bush and Obama administrations for the Bird and Swine flu. The Bush administration came up with a playbook after the Bird flu which Obama used for the Swine flu epidemic and then improved it. “Bob Stephan, who was an assistant secretary of Homeland Security in the Bush administration also worked on the playbook. He says containment is half the plan. The other half, he says, is government showing leadership.”
        Trump ,on the other hand, threw out everything that had been learned previously and apparently has done nothing in the way of planning for any possible future pandemic.

        1. Carolinian

          Wasn’t the swine flu a big fizzle? In any case neither is comparable to our present unprecedented situation.

          And you don’t address my key point which is that response was up to the individual state with their various laws and constitutions. For example there’s considerable question whether in SC the governor’s mask mandate in restaurants is allowed under the state constitution (it has gone to court). Whether that mask mandate has had very much effect is questionable. It has been in effect since the beginning of the summer and yet summer was our worst time.

          The bottom line is that there is so much that is not known about this disease and how to treat it that the notion that there was a “plan” that was ignored is not very convincing. And even if that’s not true your first target would probably be named Cuomo. Even now no state except New Jersey has come close to NYC’s deaths per million.

          1. Pookah Harvey

            You are right, the federal government cannot mandate a response. But as I did point out “The other half, he says, is government showing leadership.”

            1. Carolinian

              Well when the pandemic first came on the radar screen Trump was in the midst of that oh so serious impeachment. The Dems do everything possible to undermine his leadership and then say where’s the leadership?

              Which doesn’t mean that Trump is necessarily inclined in that direction assuming you could take the tweeter out of his hands. But whatever he suggested via leadership they were probably going to attack.

    2. DJG

      Rev Kev: I read the quote and thought immediate of you:

      “And when we — when we look at this, what we’re — we’re going to defeat it, Jake, because what we are, we’re Americans. We do that. And this president is leading, while Joe Biden is sitting there suggesting that we’re going to mandate masks.”

      Mark Meadows from Marketing, in your words.

      Having worked in publishing for many years, I am now rethinking the whole idea of marketing. Is anything in marketing useful? Or are they just a layer of middle-level bean counters and fantasists who should be fired? As a practical matter, as we start to descry a horizon beyond this pandemic, should any complex organization even bother to resuscitate a marketing department? Isn’t marketing now at the level of bloodletting to control a fever?

      It is obvious that marketing now operates as a church, some residual or excrescence of late-state Anglo Protestantism.

      1. hamstak


        “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy defines the marketing division of the Sirius Cybernetic Corporation as “a bunch of mindless jerks who’ll be the first against the wall when the revolution comes…”

        1. DJG

          hamstak: Thanks for quoting the estimable Hitchhiker’s Guide. I forgot about that. One has to admit, though, that so much of the marketing bloviation in the Anglo-American world has a strong whiff of Vogon poetry, too.

        2. DJG

          hamstak: I mentioned Vogon poetry in my reply to you, and my internet connection went bonkers. Such is the enduring power of Vogon poetry.

          Trying once more: thanks for quoting the estimable Hitchhiker’s Guide and reminding me of its excellent solution to the problem of rising personnel costs.

        3. The Rev Kev

          October 26, 2020 at 12:27 pm

          Thanks to a copy of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” that came from the future via a small worm hole, it mentioned that the marketing division of the Sirius Cybernetic Corporation were a bunch of mindless jerks who were the first against the wall when the revolution came.

    3. DJG

      And more marketing:

      Scientists behind the dreamily named Great Barrington Declaration:

      From the statement at the “Great” Barrington Declaration site (oh, how convenient a word as “great,” from a marketer’s orgasmatron:

      Why was the Declaration signed in Great Barrington?
      The Declaration was written and signed at the American Institute for Economic Research, located in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. The Institute kindly offered to help with the video recording, providing a location, equipment and a camera man pro bono. 

      From Wikipedia:
      The American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) is a libertarian[2] or free-market think tank[3] located in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. It was founded in 1933 by Edward C. Harwood, an economist and investment advisor. It is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit[4] that partners with the Atlas Network and other Koch-funded think tanks.[5]

      Let’s admit it. We’re dealing with sewage, and not in the sense of public health and control of sewage.

        1. hunkerdown

          Nah. That piece is written to center Gupta and the GBD as incumbents which any challenger has to answer in terms of, and ignoring threats to one’s life and working ability as “normal” or “duties”. But it does note that Gupta’s interest in this began only when she had to do things she didn’t want to at work.

          She wouldn’t even be heard from if the Kochs did not consider her useful. It’s safe to say that’s the only reason we’re hearing about her.

          1. Carolinian

            So it’s still OMG Kochs.

            In the article she says she was in favor of lockdowns when the disease first appeared but now that we know more about the disease the justification has become less justifiable. She’s particularly opposed to its one size fits all application to the third world where such measures may kill a lot more poor people than they save assuming they even work.

            It is interesting that many of the strongest opponents of the current policies are medical people and many of the proponents are politicians who may have their own motives. And there is a big corporate lobby on the other side of the question–big Pharma. Ever notice who runs all those ads on the nightly news?

            So going by your explanation that she must be a Koch shill you could say all pro lockdown people are working for pharma (right wing sites do). But there are other ways to make an argument like simply addressing the issues..

        2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Here in Australia the Branch Covidian Cult has the state of Victoria in some of the most draconian lockdowns in the world, the people were informed by Obergruppenfuhrer Premier Andrews that the state of 6.5 million people would not be permitted to emerge from self-incarceration until they went 2 weeks with a daily average of 5 cases or less. That’s right, 5. That’s right, cases. They had 6 yesterday (+/- 40% false positives) and apparently that means the state can continue their extra-legal repression indefinitely. People arrested for no masks. People arrested for being more than 5 kms from their homes. People arrested for being outside their homes without one of four accepted excuses. (A local Senator has contacted Amnesty International to investigate the human rights abuses). Meantime 40% of businesses in Melbourne will never re-open their doors. Suicides, depression, spouse abuse, child abuse, alcoholism all trending sharply upward.

          Someday they will write a complete history of this sad episode that will include the loss of civil liberties, the decline in the standard of living, the drag on the nation’s finances for a generation, the total deaths from missed procedures and checkups, all to stop try to slow the progress of a disease that has contributed to caused the deaths of 928 people in a country of 25 million. I believe that when that comprehensive view is finally written those who drank deep from the cup of the Cult will need to hang their heads in abject shame.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            That review will include hidden policy side-effects that will be very surprising for some. A typical influenza season starts with the coronaviruses followed by the rhinoviruses, will reduced exposure to Covid-19 put people at reduced immunity and additional risk when Corona-20 comes along? What about the people who now have a police record due to arrests, what will be the net effect on their mental health and job prospects (400 arrests so far)? What about the huge spike in pet medical costs, as Susie, Dad, Mom, and Sis all take Rover for a walk (one of the four allowed reasons to be outside your cell home) and Rover now needs hip surgery, did that get counted in the “costs” side of the ledger? Madness.

            1. Basil Pesto

              What about the huge spike in pet medical costs, as Susie, Dad, Mom, and Sis all take Rover for a walk (one of the four allowed reasons to be outside your cell home) and Rover now needs hip surgery, did that get counted in the “costs” side of the ledger? Madness.

              What are you talking about?

          2. Basil Pesto

            the state of 6.5 million people would not be permitted to emerge from self-incarceration until they went 2 weeks with a daily average of 5 cases or less.

            Is your submission that for three months, we have all been forced to stay sequestered in our homes until this was the case? Because that is a lie.

            The lockdown the above commenter has suggested will be continued indefinitely is, in fact, ending tomorrow.

            The invocation of “Human Rights” is a politically useful tool. The fact remains, however, that int’l Human Rights law carves out exemptions for precisely this kind of emergency. That does not mean that all state measures will automatically be acceptable for combatting the virus from a human rights law point of view, but the matter is considerably more nuanced than exclaiming “human rights!!!”

            Comparing Andrews, who I don’t care for, to a Nazi is childish. But more to the point, the idea that the Victorian gov’t is going full fash because, hey, why not, might be fun and politically expedient? – is trivially inane.

  17. sam

    Craig Murray on the COVID response is the most reasonable analysis I’ve seen and one that is completely missing from the MSM and most polite discussion of this subject. Thanks to NC for linking to it.

    1. pjay

      I agree. This is the type of reasonable discussion that should at least be considered in “progressive” circles without being cast into the “deplorable/hoaxer” box.

    2. BillC

      If the death rate and preponderance of elderly victims that Murray (and I) accept as in the ball park were the only thing to worry about, I would agree with his conclusions. However, Murray does not discuss the issue of permanent and possibly disabling organ damage for those who survive, including for some younger people whose short-term symptoms were mild to moderate and were not hospitalized.

      I have seen some estimates in the last couple of months (sorry, no links handy) that, if correct and extrapolated into the future, would predict substantial numbers of far-from-elderly people who require lifelong treatment and/or assistance coping with permanent disability. Until we can reasonably reliably determine that this hazard is lower than the numbers I’ve seen, I believe we need to continue to obseve the precautionary principle and make every effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 throughout the population.

    3. EoH

      I agree with Craig Murray that the UK government’s management of the Covid crisis has been abysmal. Its performance is matched only by the incompetence of its management of Brexit. Beyond that, we vehemently part company.

      He admits that we know too little about the disease, then fills the gap with opinion. A real estate developer could do that. He ignores limits on hospital and carer capacity. He seems to know nothing about Covid’s debilitating long-term effects, including heart, lung, and brain impairment. And his convenient assumptions about how few people would be affected by a let the plague spread policy are unspeakable.

      1. grayslady

        Totally agree. I also felt as though I were reading an updated version of Swift’s “A Modest Proposal,” but without the wit or sarcasm; and in Murray’s case, he seems to think the elderly are expendable rather than the children in Swift’s essay.

  18. Darthbobber

    A Philadelphia story:
    Over on Walnut lane, here in Germantown or E. Mt Airy, are a couple old mansions inhabited by folks of differing politics, both of whom are members of a pair of Germantown community facebook groups.

    Few weeks ago the little old lady in the one mansion puts a Trump sign in her window.

    Soon the inhabitant of the other mansion is posting horrifying pictures of said sign, along with some blather about hate speech and good Germans, usw, usw… And naturally calling out the little old lady by name.

    This produces the predictable result, as the Trump window sign is reinforced by a half dozen Trump signs and a larger Respect Free Speech sign.

    Followed by escalated foofraw about the 3rd Reich and some purple prose about the need for aggressive defense measures which are on the edge between direct incitement to violence and meaningless hyperbole.

    After a couple days of this, someone replaces the Trump signage with Biden signage in the middle of the night and posts a photo of their work.

    Signage back to normal next day.

    The most interesting part of all this is the amazing amount of symbolic freight being loaded onto something as banal as the display of the mere name of a candidate by a citizen, and the tortured reasoning that leads some to the literal equation of little old conservative lady with concentration camp guards, etc. Absolutely unhinged.

    Meanwhile, out in Cumberland and Perry counties where my wife’s mom and sister are prominent in such democratic organization as there is, it’s the Biden signage that falls victim to this desire to impose unanimity at the visual level.

    1. DJG

      Darthbobber: And I’m fond of Philly.

      I think, though, that you should consider this a signal of the “impending civil war.” The war is going to consist of pumpkin smashing, sign shredding, finger wagging, and snark. Hey, this nation is exceptional at snark.

      What it reminds me of is the whole culture of scofflaws, sneak thieves, and chiselers that now dominates the country.

      Fortunately, they all take gun safety classes from the French-chateau-fantasy couple in Saint Louie.

  19. Wukchumni

    I blundered into Pine Flat, Ca. by chance, the fork of the road leading me astray and I had time to kill, so it was a premeditated 11 mile excursion off-course.

    It’s your standard roller coaster ride in getting there, and when I made my grand entrance to the tiny town of 166 people @ close to 4,000 feet in the lower reaches of the Sierra range, was overwhelmed by Trump flags fluttering along with a smattering of Gadsden flags. It was almost like one of neighborhoods you drive through where everybody tries to outdo one another in xmas decoration, albeit only with flags.

    Flags are the new bumper sticker, as the latter are old hat-and what if your ride gets keyed when you aren’t there because you wore your political cred on your sleeve, er fender?

  20. DJG

    Trumps making a list of people to fire:

    “The president has never been impressed with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, for example. But that doesn’t carry the urgency of replacing Wray or Haspel.”

    As if I should care? So we are now / still at the point where people are having attacks of the vapors over the career of Gina Haspel?

    I am beginning to worry that we are getting the government that we deserve (although I have always believed that we got better government than people gave it credit for.)

    1. Susan the other

      I hope Trump gets a second mandate as well. Because it’s like certification – yes we approve. Please fix this mess. My biggest nightmare is that Biden wins. And we start all over again with the “Democrat” neoliberal agenda that really has no chance. It will put us back 50 years by the time we get in there again and clean it up – I’m thinking environmentally mostly – Trump plays it down but he is dealing with it pretty aggressively as far as I can tell. And Biden is just a political hack who anybody can buy. Biden is by definition a prostitute.

      1. vlade

        sorry, are we talking the same person?

        Donald “I love oil and coal, we NEED more coal mines and power plants” Trump (also known as “kill-all-environmental-regulations” Donnie)?

        Bidden is bad, because it sends all the wrong signals to Democrats. But Trump _guarantees_ that for four years nothing good will be done (nothing positive was done in his first term, and he doesn’t even bother to promise anything positive on environment on the second term) and sends all the wrong singnals to GOP.

        I can understand someone not voting, as the situation is not dissimilar to “you’ll be shot or thrown into a pool full of hungry sharks, your choice”. But rationalising voting for Trump that “deals pretty aggresively [with environement in a positive way]”, I don’t get.

        At least with a prostitute, the paying client gets somethign, so you can try to make sure it’s the right paying client.

        1. Susan the other

          OK. Just for example. Trump has followed the directives to cut and curtail oil. He has successfully made Israel the Oil Port of the Mediterranean which can be controlled at the spigot in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf. That’s not insignificant. It has been made to look innocent, but it is highly strategic. He has gone out of his way to eliminate reactionary regimes like North Korea (I think he made good progress there) so we don’t have to waste time “going to war” which is a godawful diversion which really never accomplishes anything; he has blamed China for Covid because he failed to control it (well not for 2 months – then he geared up); as far as CO2 goes, Trump seems to be as aware of the existential danger as anyone else and the only thing stopping him from bloviating (which he is a natural at) is the fact that it is so critical – CO2 must be physically contained and no BS can achieve it. He has defused Russophobia as well. When it comes to M4A, he is going after the debacle referred to as Obama Care which is a travesty that deserves to be wiped away. I fault Trump on not having a decent replacement and I also fault him for scapegoating “socialism”. But he is walking a tightrope between the old and the new and things are politically explosive. And Biden is an old, unconscionable, grifting wheeler-dealer from way back. And it is time for him to go. Just imo.

          1. EoH

            I would suggest that Trump’s daily schedule of McDonald’s, hours of TV and tweeting, and the year he has spent playing golf at his own courses, suggest he’s not serious about his job.

            Trump has refused to disclose his tax returns and business interests, which should worry anyone concerned about his self-dealing, other conflicts of interest, and his vulnerability to domestic and foreign pressure. The opinion that he has promoted US national interests via his relations with North Korea, Russia, China, or any other foreign state is a distinctly minority one.

            Trump seems more concerned about how much he can extract in donations from energy industry lobbyists than he is about energy or any other form of environmental conservation. Opening the Tongass National Forest, for example – one of the few great remaining carbon sinks – to logging and real estate development benefits no one but corporate lobbyists and a few Alaskan politicians.

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              LOLOLOL Trump taxes LOLOLOL.

              We spent three years and 48 million dollars with more than 200 dedicated FBI agents and multiple Congressional committees poring over every last shred of the man’s finances and connections over the last 30 years desperately seeking something, anything that linked him with Russia, malfeasance, and lawbreaking. Show me the indictments.

              Where a casual glance at his opponent’s business dealings and a review of actual bank wire transfers totalling millions reveal the most corrupt possible selling of the country by him and his family to the highest bidders in an alphabet soup of countries spanning the globe.

              Q: Is it green? (the color of the sky on your planet)

              1. EoH

                There’s a reason they shut down HAL 9000. Bob Mueller’s investigation famously Did Not look at Trump’s finances or tax returns. Neither did any congressional committee. House committees are still trying to get their first look at them, as is the NYC DA. As for indictments, see, Bill Barr, and the OLC’s infamous prohibition on indicting a sitting president. Your figure for the cost of Mueller’s investigation ignores the assets clawed back from indictees, which more than paid for it.

                And, yes, as it happens, green was the color of the sky on my planet, before Cmdr. Adams nuked it and ran off with the only blond.

                1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                  Excellent corrections, thank you.

                  Show me where Trump profited while in office by promoting the interests of a foreign nation. Pretty clear what Hunter meant when he repeatedly said “10% for The Big Guy”, now that Homeland Security has the bank wire transfer records (because they are now a national security concern) we can connect 1+1. Oh, except that The People’s Censorship And Thought Purity Committee will be sure nobody gets to see or hear about them.

                  1. EoH

                    I would include profiting personally from his own government, which is an Emoluments Clause problem. The simplest place to start would be the books of Mar-a-Lago and the Trump International in DC.

                2. Young

                  So, it has come down to

                  “Show me your taxes, then I’ll tell you whether I am the Big Guy or not”

            2. Lambert Strether Post author

              > I would suggest that Trump’s daily schedule of McDonald’s, hours of TV and tweeting, and the year he has spent playing golf at his own courses, suggest he’s not serious about his job.

              The famous quote from Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord:

              I distinguish four types. There are clever, hardworking, stupid, and lazy officers. Usually two characteristics are combined. Some are clever and hardworking; their place is the General Staff. The next ones are stupid and lazy; they make up 90 percent of every army and are suited to routine duties. Anyone who is both clever and lazy is qualified for the highest leadership duties, because he possesses the mental clarity and strength of nerve necessary for difficult decisions. One must beware of anyone who is both stupid and hardworking; he must not be entrusted with any responsibility because he will always only cause damage.

              Not to say that Trump is in the “clever and lazy” category… But to say that laziness is not an automatic disqualification for high office.

    2. anon in so cal

      Haspel colluded with the NYT to trick Trump into expelling Russian diplomats.

      This was the “dead ducks” Novichok incident. She also stalled the release of the declassified docs, recently.

  21. JohnB

    On Craig Murray:
    What about bringing cases to Zero domestically with a single Hard Lockdown, with proper enforced quarantine of foreign travellers to prevent new outbreaks?

    The success of multiple SE Asia countries is something regularly highlighted, here. I have zero faith in the kind of shielding Murray talks about, after all the nursing home deaths.

    I don’t understand why the former wasn’t done in the first place, and why it’s still not being considered now – all over the world.

    1. jef

      The virus can live on almost any surface for a long time, several weeks on some. So we completely disinfect everything that everyone brings into their lockdown place, even what is inside of the packaging?

      This after completely disinfecting every person, surface and items in every lockdown space prior to lockdown?

      Then how do you end this lockdown, 100% vaccination?

      The great barrington declaration is starting to look more reasonable.

      1. JohnB

        You just need a long enough lockdown. Surface transmission is not a major vector.

        When the lockdown is over, there is Zero local transmission – and zero introduction of new foreign cases, because of proper restrictions on foreign travellers.

        It’s what SE Asia countries are doing.

        1. Calypso Facto

          Unless the central banks are going to deploy the digital currencies and soak the proles with free money to stay home, and deploy the military to distribute food so nobody starves, there will be no ‘single long lockdown’ to fully wipe out covid. Vietnam and South Korea and China did all of that to ensure their lockdowns were effective. Until I hear people mention the money/food distribution the whining about another lockdown is literally just that, whining to go back to a status quo that is now gone forever.

    2. Phillip Cross

      I agree about the shielding. They have had all summer to explain who is vulnerable enough to be shielded, and how that shielding will work, and yet… *crickets*

      My hunch is that saying, “Protect the vulnerable” is usually just code for “*shrugs* Not my problem!”

      1. EoH

        “Protect the vulnerable” sounds great, until you realize that you can’t do that and still allow the supposedly not vulnerable to pretend as if Covid’s not there. It’s a baby blanket for those who want to reopen the economy without first addressing why it’s closed. Like Trump, they don’t care who suffers, as long as they profit.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > What about bringing cases to Zero domestically with a single Hard Lockdown,

      Because when you bring the economy to a halt, you have to pay all the workers so they can live (or, alternatively, means test everything and establish complex eligibility requirements, and make sure a lot of the checks come late, and so give people plenty of incentive to keep working, and spreading).

      And paying workers simply to live, as opposed to selling their labor power to survive, might give some of the proles ideas above their station.

  22. BoyDownTheLane

    “… And the media’s reaction to these new facts? Silence of the tombs.

    The difference between Trump supporters and Biden supporters is simple and telling. If this kind of evidence emerged showing that Donald Trump was allowing his kids to use his name and position to rake in tens of millions of dollars while engaging in perversion worthy of Caligula, Trump supporters would desert him in mass and support his prosecution.

    And Biden supporters? They are like Sergeant Schultz from Hogan’s Heroes–they see nothing, they say nothing, they hear nothing and they, along with Hunter and Joe, are accessories to selling out America to the Chinese Republic.”

    1. km

      “The difference between Trump supporters and Biden supporters is simple and telling. If this kind of evidence emerged showing that Donald Trump was allowing his kids to use his name and position to rake in tens of millions of dollars while engaging in perversion worthy of Caligula, Trump supporters would desert him in mass and support his prosecution.”

      You sure? I suspect that for many a Trump true believer, no amount of evidence, fact, logic or sympathy will make them veer from the path. They’d find a reason to stick with Trump. If anything they’d double down.

      Note that when presented with the evidence of Hunter Biden’s misdeeds, the usual response of the Team D cultist is “but Trump!”

      1. BoyDownTheLane

        I didn’t say that. That’s a direct quote from an article you can access and read in full and you can drill down and read about the author. And you can probably find a way to communicate with him.

        I’m in the habit of observation (seeing what others are saying and reading about them and their perspectives over time, and reporting it out). If I said it, I identify my thoughts as mine, often with the technique [Ed.:…] where Ed. is in red. It is similar to Lambert’s use of a large bullet point as a divider. Nothing in what I entered is mine. I am in agreement that there are a lot of accessories to be found in selling out America.

        For the record, I’m 72, retired, have a moldy degree from BigStateU in communications studies and political science (film, TV and audio production) who wanted to work as a TV news producer but whose senior work (and employment while being a student) won him a career in the start-up of EMS systems and expertise in mass casualty incident management instead. My senior broadcast news project was built on a one-day site visit to the production of an ABC-TV Evening News show with Harry Reasoner in March 1973 during which I interviewed everyone involved and sat in on every production meeting. I did not get to hear what the caller said during the two phone calls from inside the District of Columbia. The project grade was 50/50, A+++.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Ranking corruption:

      Hunter Biden < the Trump Family < the Clinton Foundation The difference is in the complexity of the network concealing the corruption, which is done through layers of indirection. Hunter is just a cheap grifter.

      1. EoH

        Sadly for him, Hunter Biden is nothing to write home or brag about at your next alumni gathering. But there’s no evidence that any of his grifting – spectacularly common on both sides of the aisle, inside the Beltway, among the one per centers, and members of Ivy League secret societies – involves his dad. I’m no fan of the neoliberal Clintons, but ranking the Trump crime family behind the Clinton Foundation looks like gaslighting.

        1. Young

          On their flight to China:

          Joe: “Son, what are you going to do when we get there?”

          Hunter: “Dad, you REALLY don’t want to know”

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > ranking the Trump crime family behind the Clinton Foundation looks like gaslighting.

          Nonsense. The Trump family are routine, high society looters, as we see in many Third World countries. Surely you remember that when Clinton lost the Presidency, contributions to the Clinton Foundation dried up? As if a market had suddenly disappeared?

          For myself, I vastly prefer a crook who openly puts their hands directly in the cookie jar to a crook who wreathes their cookie-stealing round with lawyers, foundations, and proxies who all put their hands in the cookie jar, and then pass the cookie along to the principal crook after taking a nibble.

          That is why I set up the rank order as I did. Gaslighting, forsooth. Throwing the word around without knowing what it means, like “kompromat”!

        3. EoH

          I admire the Beltway level of cynicism about criminality and the ease with which you choose among them. As for lighting the gas, gadzooks, portraying one evil as inferior to another is a form of denialism about the former that qualifies.

  23. Maria

    San Francisco office space story:

    All those empty highrises and more importantly, highrises still being built–

    Those can, espcially at the preliminary construction stage easily be converted into studio apartments. The plusbrilliant persons running San Francisco city government can mandate this. Homeless people can be moved into these new apartments, thus helping to solve the homeless crisis in the city.

    These newly sheltered can should and will be registered to vote, thus perpetuating the equitable, non-racist and democratic beacon of hope that is San Francisco, and which probably attracted the the unhoused to San Francisco to begin with.

    Lots of mass transit nearby so no need for parking, or cars. A congestion pricing traffic management system, to punish drivers who don’t take transit to or through the city can offset the loss of payroll and business taxes; say $10 every time one enters or passes through the city, (except on state owned freeways.) This system will guarantee that the city remains a beacon of hope for America.

    1. Susan the other

      I agree. It’s almost a no brainer. The value of idle real estate is hugely negative. If the City bought up the rental contracts – at a discount- it would solve two insolvencies – one is the business space never to be occupied again and the other is the living space priced out of existence. It’s a win-win.

    2. Acacia

      Ahem. San Francisco is one of the most unaffordable cities in the country, and home of Wokester shops like Twitter. I’d say the “beacon of hope for America” bit went down the toilet already a few decades ago.

  24. JohnnySacks

    Obama had his boot on the Republicans’ throat, gave them a hand up, dusted them off, and let them back in the game (engaging in prolonged negotiations with them to pass a Heritage Foundation-friendly, market-based health care plan, for example)
    And subsequently got zero Republican votes for all his wasted effort in that god awful summer of 2009 while his own party became the largest opposition to anything transformative in the bill. Especially when two of the largest distinctions between him and Clinton was his. ‘Robust Public Option’ support (and nay Iraq war vote)

    1. Darthbobber

      The 2 biggest differences between the Obama and Clinton healthcare plans in the primary, as I recall, were the Obama rhetorical gestures to a public option, and that the Clinton “plan” featured the guaranteed to be unpopular mandate, and his made a very big deal of featuring no such thing. Detail-oriented wonks insisted on treating such differences as real and likely to last past the election. When finally rolled out, the ACA bore more resemblance to the Clinton primary campaign plan than to the Obama one.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > The 2 biggest differences between the Obama and Clinton healthcare plans in the primary, as I recall, were the Obama rhetorical gestures to a public option, and that the Clinton “plan” featured the guaranteed to be unpopular mandate

        Even Krugman trashed Obama for not including the mandate. As it turns out, all the experts were wrong, including — hold onto your hats, folks — Krugman, and the mandate was not needed; when Trump abolished it, the sky did not fall, in fact barely moved. I, for one, was happy to pocket the savings from not having to pay a large monthly fee for a plan whose deductible was so high I could never have used it.

  25. chuck roast

    No ice skating or hockey in New England rinks this winter? Good thing I’m not 17 or I would have committed suicide as soon as this was announced. OTOH the results of the Bolivian election might have made me think it over for a few days. If I had thought it over for a few days the results of the Chilean election would have been announced and that would have kept me going until the ponds froze…oh, wait…

  26. Doug

    Dark Winter

    Best I can find:

    On Linden, when the sun was low,
    All bloodless lay the trodden snow,
    And dark as winter was the flow
    Of Iser rolling rapidly.

    Thomas Campbell

  27. Susan the other

    The post about Taleb’s “empirics to ethics” is really good. I hesitate to read anything Taleb thinks or says because he is over my head – but I’m beginning to think he is delightfully quantum. Which I can almost understand. (I understand it is basically un-understandable, hence lots of probability; hence caution.) And tinkering with the “inductive” approach equated with evolution (as a method) is certainly a well-worn path. The thing about evolution is that it is archived with almost indestructible intelligence – DNA – but economics is not. Not by any stretch of the imagination. Economics is almost one dimensional – big bang-big crunch. So that puts economics in a position of extreme caution. Risk aversion. Isn’t that Taleb’s speciality?

  28. EoH

    Boris Johnson’s “masterful inactivity” itself promotes the hard, cliff-event that a No-Deal Brexit represents – and which he, Cummings, and their patrons so obviously want.

  29. kareninca

    I like my paper WSJ subscription. I am employing someone; it is a job to deliver it; that is money in a person’s pocket. I find a lot of uses for the paper – I just filled a halloween-pumpkin hefty bag with crunched up newspaper so that it has structure (no, I can’t use leaves; I live in a condo). I am considering cancelling it because they now limit comments, but I can’t cancel until after Christmas because if I did I couldn’t send the delivery person a Christmas check. Gee I’m an old person even though in my 50s.

    The real problem at the WSJ – besides the comment censorship – is that the “journalists” are neoliberals and the readers are old timey small businessman conservative. The owners try to thread the needle with conservative opinion pieces. That is not going to hold things together for much longer; the readership feels ill used; you can tell from the few comments that are allowed. They mostly allow comments on articles on topics like “tangerines being the IN fruit;” it is truly demeaning and infantilizing.

  30. ewmayer

    “Animals Keep Evolving Into Crabs, Which Is Somewhat Disturbing | Popular Mechanics” — toward the end of H.G.Wells’ The Time Machine, where the tie traveler has narrowly escaped the Morlocks and knocked the levers to racing-ahead mode in losing consciousness, is this marvelous passage. Note Wells’ accurate use of then-cutting-edge science, the sun gradually cooling and going red giant – though we now know when this eventually happens it will in fact bloat so large as to likely engulf the Earth – and tidal drag with the sun gradually slowing Earth’s rotation:

    …At last a steady twilight brooded over the earth, a twilight only broken now and then when a comet glared across the darkling sky. The band of light that had indicated the sun had long since disappeared; for the sun had ceased to set— it simply rose and fell in the west, and grew ever broader and more red. All trace of the moon had vanished. The circling of the stars, growing slower and slower, had given place to creeping points of light. At last, some time before I stopped, the sun, red and very large, halted motionless upon the horizon, a vast dome glowing with a dull heat, and now and then suffering a momentary extinction. At one time it had for a little while glowed more brilliantly again, but it speedily reverted to its sullen red heat. I perceived by this slowing down of its rising and setting that the work of the tidal drag was done. The earth had come to rest with one face to the sun, even as in our own time the moon faces the earth. Very cautiously, for I remembered my former headlong fall, I began to reverse my motion. Slower and slower went the circling hands until the thousands one seemed motionless and the daily one was no longer a mere mist upon its scale. Still slower, until the dim outlines of a desolate beach grew visible.

    ‘I stopped very gently and sat upon the Time Machine, looking round. The sky was no longer blue. North- eastward it was inky black, and out of the blackness shone brightly and steadily the pale white stars. Overhead it was a deep Indian red and starless, and south-eastward it grew brighter to a glowing scarlet where, cut by the horizon, lay the huge hull of the sun, red and motionless. The rocks about me were of a harsh reddish colour, and all the trace of life that I could see at first was the intensely green vegetation that covered every projecting point on their south-eastern face. It was the same rich green that one sees on forest moss or on the lichen in caves: plants which like these grow in a perpetual twilight.

    ‘The machine was standing on a sloping beach. The sea stretched away to the south-west, to rise into a sharp bright horizon against the wan sky. There were no breakers and no waves, for not a breath of wind was stirring. Only a slight oily swell rose and fell like a gentle breathing, and showed that the eternal sea was still moving and living. And along the margin where the water sometimes broke was a thick incrustation of salt—pink under the lurid sky. There was a sense of oppression in my head, and I noticed that I was breathing very fast. The sensation reminded me of my only experience of mountaineering, and from that I judged the air to be more rarefied than it is now.

    ‘Far away up the desolate slope I heard a harsh scream, and saw a thing like a huge white butterfly go slanting and flittering up into the sky and, circling, disappear over some low hillocks beyond. The sound of its voice was so dismal that I shivered and seated myself more firmly upon the machine. Looking round me again, I saw that, quite near, what I had taken to be a reddish mass of rock was moving slowly towards me. Then I saw the thing was really a monstrous crab-like creature. Can you imagine a crab as large as yonder table, with its many legs moving slowly and uncertainly, its big claws swaying, its long antennae, like carters’ whips, waving and feeling, and its stalked eyes gleaming at you on either side of its metallic front? Its back was corrugated and ornamented with ungainly bosses, and a greenish incrustation blotched it here and there. I could see the many palps of its complicated mouth flickering and feeling as it moved.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Toward the end of H.G.Wells’ The Time Machine

      Believe it or not, I actually had this dimly remembered passage in mind. Thank you for posting it!

      * * *

      And since we’re in “The End of the World as We Know It” mode, the conclusion of Pope’s Dunciad:

      In vain, in vain,—the all-composing hour
      Resistless falls: the Muse obeys the power.
      She comes! she comes! the sable throne behold
      Of Night primeval, and of Chaos old!
      Before her, Fancy’s gilded clouds decay,
      And all its varying rainbows die away.
      Wit shoots in vain its momentary fires,
      The meteor drops, and in a flash expires.
      As one by one, at dread Medea’s strain,
      The sickening stars fade off the ethereal plain;
      As Argus’ eyes by Hermes’ wand oppressed,
      Closed one by one to everlasting rest;
      Thus at her felt approach, and secret might,
      Art after Art goes out, and all is night.
      See sulking Truth to her old cavern fled,
      Mountains of casuistry heaped o’er her head!
      Philosophy, that leaned on Heaven before,
      Shrinks to her second cause, and is no more.
      Physic of Metaphysic begs defense,
      And Metaphysic calls for aid on Sense!
      See Mystery to Mathematics fly!
      In vain! they gaze, turn giddy, rave, and die.
      Religion blushing veils her sacred fires,
      And unawares Morality expires.
      Nor public flame, nor private, dares to shine;
      Nor human spark is left, nor glimpse divine!
      Lo! thy dread empire, Chaos is restored;
      Light dies before thy uncreating word:
      Thy hand, great Anarch! lets the curtain fall;
      And universal darkness buries all.

  31. ewmayer

    “A Broken Census Can Break Democracy | The Big Picture” — Agreed, that would indeed be a worry if we were fortunate enough to live in a Democracy. Lambert will appreciate that the Germans have another great word here: Scheindemokratie. And as a related saying goes, der Schein trügt. (Appearances are deceiving.)

  32. John Anthony La Pietra

    Expeditionary Advanced Basing Capabilities on Display During Exercise Noble Fury Marines. Island-hopping in the Pacific. Funny how the exercise-naming algo has never emitted “Operation Miles Gloriosus.”

    “Stand aside, everyone! I take large steps! . . .”

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