2:00PM Water Cooler 11/10/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I have a pantry clear-out for the ages of election-related material, but I think I’m going to wander off for a late brunch; it’s been a rough few days. I’ll try catch up tomorrow. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day


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

Case count by United States region:

Waiting for the line to go vertical…

Test positivity by region:

I don’t understand why the sudden dip around a week ago, in every region except the (organge) Northeast (and why does the Northeast keep being the exception?)

Case fatality rate by region:

The Northeast (orange) really stands out.

Hospitalization by region:

Again, the Northeast (green) stands out for its enormous spikes.

I keep hanging out, waiting for some kind of turn to call; it’s not happening…


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

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

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

2020 Democrats in Disarray

“Can Joe Biden avoid Obama’s mistakes? He must – for the future of the party” [David Sirota, Guardian]. “To answer it, you must first appreciate how we arrived at this moment of peril. In this week’s election, Trump kept the race close by winning 82% of voters who listed the economy as their top concern, according to exit polls. He was able to do that amid an economic crisis because Democrats did not forcefully articulate an economic message. Instead, Biden cast his candidacy in gauzy platitudes about restoring the country to a pre-Trump status quo. That was enough to barely defeat Trump, who mismanaged the coronavirus response – but it was not enough to prevent Republican gains down ballot. Even more problematic, that much-glorified pre-Trump “normal” of crushing economic inequality is what originally created the conditions for Trumpism, and that larger ism probably isn’t going away. And so moving forward, the answer to Democrats’ “what do we do now?” question should be clear: a new Democratic White House must show it is using its power to deliver for the working class.” • Lol no.

“Manchin shoots down chance that Senate Democrats nix filibuster, expand court” [The Hill]. “Manchin, referring to chatter that Democrats could nix the filibuster and expand the Supreme Court, said he wanted to ‘rest those fears for you.’ ‘That won’t happen because I will not be the 50th Democrat voting to end that filibuster or to basically stack the court,’ Manchin said. Pressed if he was saying definitively that if Democratic leadership tried to use the nuclear option to nix the filibuster if he would vote against that, Manchin replied, ‘Absolutely. I will vote against that.’ … Manchin added that the ‘Green New Deal’ and ‘all this socialism’ was ‘not who we are as a Democratic Party.’ ‘We’ve been tagged if you’ve got a D by your name you must be for all the crazy stuff and I’m not,’ Manchin said, adding that Democrats should have a message that ‘didn’t scare the bejeezus out of people.'” • Im thinking that statehood for D.C. and Puerto Rico isn’t in the cards either…

Biden Transition

“Obama Official Ben Rhodes Admits Biden Camp is Already Working With Foreign Leaders: Exactly What Flynn Did” [Glenn Greenwald]. “Any doubts about how customary it is for such calls to be made by transition officials were unintentionally obliterated on Monday night by former Obama national security official Ben Rhodes, who is almost certain to occupy a high-level national security position in a Biden administration. Speaking on MSNBC — of course — Rhodes, while amicably chatting with former Bush/Cheney Communications Director turned-beloved-by-liberals-MSNBC-host Nicolle Wallace, admitted in passing that ‘foreign leaders are already having phone calls with Joe Biden talking about the agenda they’re going to pursue January 20,’ all to ensure ‘as seamless a transition as possible,’ adding: ‘the center of political gravity in this country and the world is shifting to Joe Biden.'” • Presumably the FBI should be interrogating Rhodes about his guilty knowledge. Anyhoo, I’m so old I remember when IOKIYAR was current in the blogosphere: “It’s OK If You’re A Republican.” But now IOKIIOG: “It’s OK If It’s Our Guy.” Pleasant to see that Greenwald is still in excellent form, and worth a read for the exposition on the Flynn case.

“”Shredding The Fabric Of Our Democracy”: Biden Aide Signals Push For Greater Censorship On The Internet” [Jonathan Turley]. “[Bill Russo, a deputy communications director on Biden’s campaign press team,] tweeted that ‘If you thought disinformation on Facebook was a problem during our election, just wait until you see how it is shredding the fabric of our democracy in the days after.’ Russo objected to the fact that, unlike Twitter, Facebook did not move against statements that he and the campaign viewed as ‘misleading.’ He concluded. ‘We pleaded with Facebook for over a year to be serious about these problems. They have not. Our democracy is on the line. We need answers.’ For those of us in the free speech community, these threats are chilling. We saw incredible abuses before the election in Twitter barring access to a true story in the New York Post about Hunter Biden and his alleged global influence peddling scheme. Notably, no one in the Biden camp (including Biden himself) thought that it was a threat to our democracy to have Twitter block the story (while later admitting that it was a mistake).” • When you hear a liberal Democrat say “our democracy,” remember that they mean precisely that: Their democracy.

“The Web Inventor’s New Invention” [Protocol]. “Though much of the Biden transition team has yet to be announced (and rumors abound, like that one about Eric Schmidt becoming tech’s guy in the White House), we’ve already got three big names sliding in from Apple, Facebook and Twitter…. Jessica Hertz: The former Facebook attorney will manage the transition team’s ethics questions, which has already upset just about everyone who has ever said the words ‘Facebook’ and ‘ethics’ in the same sentence… Cynthia Hogan: Apple’s former chief lobbyist has been part of Biden’s orbit since she served as his chief legal counsel during his time as a senator, and then again when he became vice president…. Carlos Monje: Twitter’s public policy chief left his post to join the transition team, though it’s unclear what his role may be.”:

* * *

“Candidate concessions have been colorful, funny — or absent” [Associated Press]. “Losing presidential candidates have conceded to their opponents in private chats, telegrams, phone calls and nationally televised speeches. Al Gore conceded twice in the same race. President Donald Trump isn’t expected to concede at all — not even with a tweet. There’s no law that says he has to concede, but if he doesn’t, Trump will be the first presidential candidate in modern times to ignore a tradition that has marked peaceful transitions throughout American history. Most concessions are gracious — less about the loser and more about closure for the country. Others have a little dry humor mixed in.”

“Why Trump won’t concede” [Popular Information]. “Trump isn’t devoting this new cash to fund his legal challenges to the election results, and it shows. Most of the lawsuits the campaign has filed have been dismissed by the courts. In one case in Michigan, lawyers representing Trump made basic errors in submitting their appeal. The filing was rejected as ‘defective.'” •

“Nevada whisleblower affidavit alleges disregard of mail-in signature verification” [Washington Examiner]. “‘I personally witnessed disregard of signature verification as well as other irregularities,’ the whistleblower said in the affidavit. ‘While working, I observed a significant number of signatures on mail-in ballots I believe did not match the name and should have been reviewed. When I asked the supervisors, [redacted] and others, about it, instead of taking the ballots to verify the signature in the electronic database, the supervisor told me to push the envelope through without verification.'” •  It’s frustrating to me that these cases aren’t being covered as a story, so I have to look for dribs and drabs on the Intertubes (and don’t have the time to assess them). Heck, if they’re so awful, why not aggregate them and show that? (I also find the prevasive huffiness about the integrity of our election system a little offputting, as anybody who’s watched the 2016 and 2020 Democrat primaries carefully would. For example: “Trump and Republican leadership have joined together in baselessly undermining public confidence in the integrity and transparency of U.S. elections.” Anybody remember the Iowa app that went belly up, and Buttigieg claiming victory when the official count was zero (0)? “Integrity and transparency” my Sweet Aunt Fanny.)

“Trump Campaign Has Been Fundraising Heavily Off of Election Lawsuits. Legal Experts Say Buyer Beware.” [Law & Crime]. A long post combining a review of the various Trump campaign cases, and the fundraising Trump is doing off them, bless his heart.


“The Memo: Five key lessons from the 2020 exit polls” [The Hill]. “Attention is shifting to how and why Biden won. Exit polls provide the most reliable guide.” • Not to be cynical, but “most reliable” does not mean “reliable.” For myself, I’m going to wait for reporting from the ground to inform any interpretation of the polling I would make.

“How and when are election results finalized? (2020)” [Ballotpedia (DJG)]. The deadlines:

Election result certification deadlines are set in state law. Certification deadlines for the 2020 election are as follows:

  • The certification deadline in six states is within one week of the election.
  • In 26 states and the District of Columbia, the certification deadline is between November 10 and November 30.
  • In 14 states, the certification deadline is in December.
  • Four states (Hawaii, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Tennessee) do not have statutory deadlines for results certification.

And then there are recounts…. Worth bookmarking.


“Why Biden’s national mask mandate will be a national mask suggestion” [Vox]. Federalism. “There are varying schools of thought about whether the president has the authority to issue a national mask mandate, as many other countries have. Some attempts to do so at the state and local level have been met with lawsuits and refusals to comply, as masks have become an increasingly politicized and contentious issue. Biden has said he will issue an executive order requiring masks to be worn on federal property. Beyond that, Biden’s version of a national mask mandate, as spelled out in his new transition website, does not appear to come from him. Instead, he’s going to be “working with governors and mayors” to encourage them to issue their own mandates, as well as remind Americans to wear masks. While the majority of America’s governors have issued statewide mandates, 16 states have not — including Mississippi, which revoked its mask mandate in October (Gov. Tate Reeves is requiring masks in certain counties). Though it’s hard to see a reality where states and localities run by Republicans work hand in hand with a Democratic president these days — even in the face of a virus that infects people regardless of their political leanings — many firmly Republican state governments have issued mask mandates once their constituents began getting sick and dying, most recently Utah on Monday. Others still seem to take pride in their obstinance, like South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem. Even in that state, however, local governments are trying to issue their own orders.”

Our Famously Free Press

Millionaire fools:

No. 538 is the number of electors in the electoral college. Florida was decided by 537 votes. So an off-by-one error. Sorta.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“White Women’s Support for Trump Remains High in 2020 Election” [Teen Vogue]. And the deck: “White women have to answer for backing the Republican nominee yet again.” Finally sentence: “As Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, dressed in suffragist white, reminded us during her acceptance speech on Saturday, democracy ‘is not guaranteed.'” • Suffragist white, for those who know anything of the sad and tortured history, is just a little too on the nose.

Stats Watch

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

Small Business Optimism: “October 2020 Small Business Optimism Improves, Uncertainty Index Remains High” [Econintersect]. “The NFIB Optimism Index remained at 104.0 in October, unchanged from September and historically high reading. Four of the 10 components improved, 5 declined, and 1 was unchanged. Although all of the data was collected prior to Election Day, a 6-point increase in the NFIB Uncertainty Index to 98 was likely driven by the election and uncertain conditions in future months due to the COVID-19 pandemic and possible government-mandated shutdowns. The uncertainty reading was the highest reading since November 2016.”

* * *

Shipping: “How vaccine and Biden victory will impact shipping” [Freight Waves]. “To the extent that nondomestic vaccine distribution (whether the Pfizer vaccine or another vaccine) takes up air-cargo space, it will push more cargo into ocean transport. That would be a plus for liner demand. But there’s a caveat. Analysts believe a shift in U.S. spending is driving record container volumes in the trans-Pacific market. Consumers are buying more goods as they spend less on travel, restaurants, bars and movie theaters. When vaccines return the world to normalcy, consumers will reallocate more spending to services. In addition, a resumption of passenger air travel will increase capacity for air cargo. That would shift some cargo back from ocean to air.” • And then there’s the results, if any, of Biden’s stimulus package, if any.

Manufacturing: “Bad software crashed Boeings. Now it appears the company lacked a singular software supremo” [The Register]. “Boeing has created a new role for a vice president of software engineering and filled it with a veteran of similar gigs at SpaceX, Tesla, and Google. The Register reports the new job because Boeing’s appointment announcement points out that it previously lacked such a role…. Who was brave enough to step into this gig? Meet Jinna Dylan Hossein, whose previous roles include veep of software engineering at SpaceX, interim veep of autopilot software at Tesla and director of software engineering at Google.”

Manufacturing: “American Airlines is quietly bringing back the 737 Max. Here’s why that’s disturbing” [ZD Net]. “[A]s the nation’s focus was on all things electoral, American Airlines quietly announced that it would return the Max to its schedule next month. European regulators have already declared the Max is safe to fly. What’s curious is that Boeing hasn’t yet made the software changes that European regulators insisted was necessary. In the US, the Max has passed its certification test flights. American, though, understands that passengers will be nervous. The airline is trying to entice passengers to take a tour of the plane at selected airports. This all exudes a quiet confidence. Yet it’s one thing to patch software. It’s quite another to ensure that those who operate it know all of its nuances. So this week I was a little disturbed to read: ‘Southwest, American pilots say new Boeing 737 Max manual may lead to errors in emergencies.’ The pilots are concerned that the Federal Aviation Authority’s manual for handling the new software in the event of an emergency is inadequate. They say there are simply too many steps to remember. This, they insist, has been proved in simulator flights. Yet the FAA is proposing pilot training every three years when the pilots believe it should be two.

The Fed: “How the Covid Crisis Calls for a Makeover at the Fed and ECB” [Bloomberg]. “In his first year in office U.S. President-elect Joe Biden has an opportunity to remake the leadership of the Federal Reserve: the current terms of Chairman Jerome Powell and both his two vice chairs expire by 2022. But what the Fed and other central banks need most in a post-Covid world is not new leadership, but a fresh understanding of what they were put on this Earth to do…. This reliance on monetary policy has had two related side effects: it has tested central bankers’ policy repertoire to the limit, and focused more attention on the way that monetary policy may have impacted income inequality and the efficiency of the economy. In thinking about how the standard toolkit could be expanded, recent official debates about the future of monetary policy have responded to the first of these. But the second set of issues is just as important — and arguably even more urgent.”

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 60 Greed (previous close: 52 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 30 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 10 at 12:03pm.

The Biosphere

“Could Listening to the Deep Sea Help Save It?” [New York Times]. “[A growing field of acousticians] believe that sound may be the quickest, cheapest way to monitor one of the most mysterious realms of the ocean. A database of deep-sea soundscapes could provide researchers with baseline understanding of healthy remote ecosystems, and singling out the sounds of communities or even individual species can inform scientists when populations are booming.” • I wonder where else this idea might apply.


“China’s glaciers in retreat” [Reuters]. “The melting in the mountains could peak within a decade, after which snow melt would sharply decrease due to the smaller, fewer glaciers, China Academy of Sciences expert Shen Yongping said. That could bring water crises, he warned. The changes in Qilian reflect melting trends in other parts of the Tibetan plateau, the source of the Yangtze and other great Asian rivers, scientists say.” • Well-written and beautifully photographed. Worth reading in full.

Health Care

“What Pfizer’s landmark COVID vaccine results mean for the pandemic” [Nature]. • I read this twice. In contrast to Bloomberg’s coverage in this morning’s Links, there’s no sentence remotely similar to “The messenger RNA technology used in the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has never been deployed in humans before.” The closest is “One key unanswered question is how long the vaccines’ effectiveness will last,” and that’s not very close.

Readers know I’m pro-vax as a public health measure. That’s not the same as saying I won’t try to exercise critical thinking on any particular vaccine. Yesterday, in Links, the commentariat had a long discussion about the difficulties of cold-chain distribution of Pfizer’s vaccine. Then, in Water Cooler, I pointed out an unsettling similarity between Gilead’s remdesivir, and Pfizer’s vaccine: The obvious possibility of stock ramping, leading to profit by insiders. And now we have (the now, and sadly, politicized) Nature airbrushing the risks to the population who will be injected with it, which comes perilously close to denying them informed consent. I’m reminded of this classic sketch, from back when Saturday Night Live was funny:

Maybe I’ve gone all counter-suggestible, but I’m queasy. And there are other vaccines in the works, too. In fact, it feels like Operation Warp Speed had more controls, amazingly enough.

“On the Effectiveness of Time Travel to Inject COVID-19 Alerts” (PDF) [Vincenzo Iovino, Serge Vaudenay, and Martin Vuagnoux (dk)]. The Abstract: “t. Digital contact tracing apps allow to alert people who have been in contact with people who may be contagious. The Apple/Google Exposure Notification (EN) system is based on Bluetooth proximity estimation. It has been adopted by many countries around the world. However, many possible attacks are known. The goal of some of them is to inject a false alert on someone else’s phone. This way, an adversary can eliminate a competitor in a sport event or a business in general. Political parties can also prevent people from voting. In this report, we review several methods to inject false alerts. One of them requires to corrupt the clock of the smartphone of the victim. For that, we build a time-traveling machine to be able to remotely set up the clock on a smartphone and experiment our attack. We show how easy this can be done. We successfully tested several smartphones with either the Swiss or the Italian app (SwissCovid or Immuni).” • BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA! Here’s hoping the Biden administration doesn’t turn to the developers of the Iowa Caucus app when it rolls out its contact tracing program…

News of the Wired

“Going Against the Decluttering Craze: The Book Hoarders Who Defy Marie Kondo” [Indepedent]. “Books are more than objects. They are filled with ideas, stories, versions of ourselves, memories. Bookshelves are like your wardrobe: they send a message. And the message these famous book-lovers shared with us is loud and clear: Books spark joy… My office is just books everywhere. There is no order. There is no rhyme or reason. They’re every which way. There are picture books, an old Scrabble board, cookbooks, typewriters, newspapers that have stories that I’m inspired by, fan art that I’ve framed, stickers and finger puppets that kids have given me. I’ve got Spider-Man toys given to me by Marvel, my own books. I should be more organised, but I’m not an organised person. It’s a good example of how my mind works. The only time I get rid of books is when I have multiples. I send them to schools and to people who need them.” • I have lost at least three book collections in my various moves. All in many, many boxes!

“NonViolent Compassionate Communication A Language of Life” (video) [Marshall Rosenberg. YouTube] 

This comes recommended, but it’s five hours long. Pack a lunch.

* * *

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

AM writes: “Gorse flowers in Scotland on October 16 – there was a bee busily working in them but it was camera-shy.”

* * *

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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. Billpreston

    Logan Act? What Logan Act?

    Obama Security Adviser Admits Biden Is Already Talking With Foreign Leaders; A Breach Of The Logan Act

      1. ambrit

        Snark alert!
        “fairy” is hate speech! Get Woke (TM) and start using “norms supernatural person!”
        Snark off.

        1. John Ralston

          My snark has taken serious offense with your appropriation and utilization of said descriptor in conjunction with all other words in your post.

          Please delete immediately and report to the nearest social media shark tank for public self flagellation and perpetual cancellation.

            1. Lost in OR

              I went on a snark hunt once. With it’s beautifully understated camouflage, snark can be very hard to perceive . I missed them all. I did bag three snipe though. A most excellent hunt.

              1. ambrit

                I did dress up as a Boojum for Halloween one fell year. The dissimulated obloquy I suffered inscribed a cicatrix upon my tender soul that I still obscure beneath a Macho Tatt to this very day. I could say that the ‘Ink’ I sport was by Jacques Tati, but who would get the cream of that jest? Perhaps the Caballeros?
                [More obscurantism from the NADS.]

  2. Wukchumni

    A neighbor in Mineral King has perhaps a thousand titles which take up an extended built in bookcase which fills the wall nicely in their cabin.

    It looks great, but if the same amount of books were in orange boxes, etc. laying around, you’d claim he was a book hoarder who ought to see a shrink, er Kindle.

    1. HotFlash

      My dear Wuk, your neighbour is clearly not a hoarder. Books are not only excellent insulation but also a very effective firewall.

  3. zagonostra

    >David Sirota – “That was enough to barely defeat Trump..”

    I’m getting confused, was Trump officially defeated. If not why are all these folks making these kinds of statements without any qualifications, none, zip. He could have said “most likely” or some other qualifier. Am I missing something here? Let the legal process of contesting the election play out for Pete’s sake.

    1. Phillip Cross

      It makes me think of the old saying about a tree falling in the woods.

      i.e. If Trump contested an election, but nobody (“virtuous”) was there to hear it. Did he make any sound?

      The deep state has spoken, and they said, “Cut his mic!”. (Extra Bill O’ Reilly)

      1. The Rev Kev

        That is not getting funny. Fox News – Fox News! – cut off Kayleigh McEnany for ‘illegal votes’ spiel. So the old norm was that you would let them speak and them tear them to pieces afterwards in an analysis. The new norm say that you can cut off a President or any of their speakers just because you can. Some people will feel virtuous about this but in reality it is just pumping out kindling for a future blaze-


        1. dcrane

          For 4 years the press obsessed over every idiotic Trump utterance with “he’s the president” as their excuse, all for clicks. Yet somehow now they have no problem ignoring him.

      1. Chris

        It ain’t over ‘til the spindly geriatric speaks. And Rupert appears to have made his preference known…

  4. Chromex

    Signature verification is a matter of opinion anyway. What does “not match” mean? What does “I believe” mean. The whole signature verification can of worms borders on voter suppression anyway- speaking as a man whose signature on his DL does not look like the ones on his checks. The underlying assumptions – that a person will sign his or her name the same way every time are not proven or provable and requiring “verification” is a dangerous path. I liked neither candidate this election but honestly, the margins here are too great to worry about fraud, Particularly with the downballot results. something not applicable in the primaries referred to.

    1. km

      Living in Ukraine, I got so tired of having to argue with clerks and bureaucrats over whether the signature on my passport matched the signature on some document somewhere or properly spelled out my name, I took to signing my name in Cyrillic

    2. Duck1

      “the margins here are too great to worry about fraud”
      Seems to me that the counts are pretty close in the swing states. Seeking recounts is a legitimate part of the election process for Trump to pursue.
      I am not a Trumpist.

      1. Unsympathetic

        Sure, “seeking recounts” is legitimate – just as filing any lawsuit about anything is technically legitimate.

        What have you done to inform your assertion that the counts are “pretty close” ? Clearly not a single internet search.. you’d find that recounts have a chance of changing the outcome if the delta is under 1000 votes. No state margin was under 1000 votes.

        People say the margins are “Too Great” – not because they’re trying to con someone, but because to actually flip any results you have to find conclusive [not random hearsay post-it notes] proof that the votes should be another way. They’ve got no proof.. because there is no proof.. because the vote totals aren’t fraudulent.

        1. ambrit

          Oh, really?
          Just remember Bush vs Gore 2000.
          Back then, the vote totals were “incomplete,” but the Supreme Court decided the contest anyway. Thus, Trump has every right, indeed, the obligation to pursue this to the very end. If he does still lose, he must spend the next four years demonizing the Biden Administration. That ‘new’ rule is courtesy of Her Royal Highness Hillary Rodham Clinton. Sauce for differently gendered flying fowl and all.
          Addendum: the above went into Moderation. I’m scratching my head over this one. I can’t see any obvious trigger words or phrases. Oh well. Inscrutable are the ways of Skynet.

          1. Unsympathetic

            The Supreme Court stopped the counting of mail-in ballots in 2000 simply because they saw a chance to steal an election for a Republican.. even though when all the votes were actually counted, Gore had won.

            And your theory is.. Using that election as precedent, Republicans get to steal all elections forever? That’s… not how this works.

            1. Mo's Bike Shop

              Let me play. You’re saying the Dems should get to steal this one just to make it even?

              Like a visit to the DMV, just relax and watch your social institutions function. CNN is not a social institution. You actually think about things after watching your social institutions in action. I guarantee.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              Those were the famous butterfly ballots. They were designed to trick voters into punching out the wrong hole. So old ladies who were voting “for” Gore were tricked by the design of the ballot into actually voting for Buchanan.

              I have always wondered whether the designer of that ballot was a secret agent Republican.

        2. Duck1

          Aware that recounts seldom flip elections. Yesterday it looked like several of the swing states were close to 1/2 of 1% difference in counts, so that seems pretty close. Maybe you should relax if any recounts get underway, because you know the totals aren’t fraudulent.

        3. Duke of Prunes

          What about the 6000 vote flip in Antrim county Michigan? Oh that’s right, it was a ‘glitch’. A glitch in software used in ~40 other MI counties and many more counties in 35 states. Seems like there’s a lot of glitches lately. Oops, it wasn’t a glitch, it was “human error”.

          1. Unsympathetic

            Republicans have lost 100% of the court cases in each state regarding this issue. They *d around and found out.

            Even if ALL the Republican conspiracy theories are true [Pro tip: They’re not] – Republicans do not have the votes to flip ANY state, let alone enough to win the election.

            If Democrats were going to rig an election, why didn’t they take the Senate also? If Democrats were going to rig an election, how did they take Georgia… a state that is run [read: has the vote certified] wholly by Republicans?

            Facts just don’t care about the feelings of Republicans.

            If Republicans want to think [or run around implying] all US elections are fraudulent, the Republican Congressional reps are more than welcome to simply not go back to Washington. Life will proceed without them.

            1. Shiloh1

              The teacher knows when the C students are copying from each other on a test when they all get the same answers wrong.

              1. Unsympathetic

                Speaking of getting all the answers wrong.. Who could have possibly guessed that the guy who is/was the basis for Pennsylvania claims admitted to USPS investigators that he fabricated everything? I’m shocked. Shocked, I tell you!

                Who’dathunkit: No voter fraud – not one bit.

                I’m beginning to think these Republican claims are just ginned-up lies from people who will never accept the legitimacy of the opposition.

            2. Duke of Prunes

              I actually hope the Rs continue to lose their cases because that would support the contention that the election was fair-ish, and Antrim and the other anomalies were simply human error or glitches.

              However, I will continue to support their actions as this is the process, and it is their right to do this.

              As the security state likes to says to us plebes, if you have nothing to hide, then you should not mind me looking.

      2. marym

        If Trumpworld were claiming in good faith* that there was fraud that statistically seems as though it won’t change the outcome, but is worth pursuing for the good of the country, they would consider what else would be for the good of the country.

        Even holding off on the concession and some aspects of transition cooperation, while lawsuits continue, without undermining it completely would be a better look for a faction that thinks they are the Real Americans™️.

        Instead, to summarize assorted tweets, Trump’s firing high-level people and installing cronies; golfing; his public schedule hasn’t included an intelligence briefing since Oct. 1, no foreign lead call readout in weeks, no statement on Tropical Storm Eta, no COVID task force meeting in months; Pence has gone on a week’s vacation; and his “side” is all in on propagating internet rumors and insinuations about unsubstantiated fraud.

        * unlike decades of bad faith claims, but that’s another story

        1. Josef K

          I like this comment. Mostly missing in the above is a discussion of bad vs. good faith. The GOP effort reeks of the latter. Imagine!

          I don’t have much like for the current Dem party, but looking back as far as my personal wayback machine goes, the GOP has the edge on bad-faith, win-at-all-costs politicking.’

          And there is a cost to bad-faith actions, sooner or later the bill becomes due. Trump is one thing (who knows or cares what he really thinks–does he himself?), but the rest of them denying it’s done, over, put a fork in it, are not doing it because they really believe what they say. There’s a large enough contingent of fellow travelers and cynical supporters that they can trust they’ll still have a place in the world when this is done.

          1. anon in so cal

            >the GOP has the edge on bad-faith, win-at-all-costs politicking


            After Dems held the nation hostage, brainwashed many millions, spent $40+ Million, raised the risk of nuclear war with their Russiagate psy ops—attempting to overturn election 2016 and obstruct the peaceful transfer of power?

  5. Grant

    “We’ve been tagged if you’ve got a D by your name you must be for all the crazy stuff and I’m not,’ Manchin said, adding that Democrats should have a message that ‘didn’t scare the bejeezus out of people.’”

    You will have healthcare as a right, it will not be tied to your job, the system will cost you and society far less than the present system, up to 70,000 Americans will not be dead this time next year because of the system, and the system will not result in half a million bankruptcies. “Crazy”. What exactly would scare people about such a thing? We want to avoid ecological collapse in the coming decades, and want empty corrupt nothings like Manchin to explain how anything he favors helps us to avoid this. We see a political system corrupt to its core, and we want that to change. We see crumbling infrastructure and a systemically inequitable economic system, we want to change that. What we want, and not the present monstrous system, should scare bejeezus out of people. When society is in this shape, and when microeconomic and macroeconomic trends are what they are, how worthless do you have to be to not be able to make a case to people about this system and alternatives?

    Manchin, Clyburn, Pelosi and the like are really fascinating. They demand power, they demand your votes, but they are completely unserious about actually governing and don’t want to do anything for anyone but their donors. In situations where the public can be moved, say they aren’t yet on board with something but are open to an argument, they don’t believe in anything enough to try to actually change how people think. So, why are they in power, but to enrich themselves and their donors? It is truly mind blowing. I mean, would a logical person look at the environmental crisis (far bigger than just carbon emissions) and be scared? Read The End of Ice? But Manchin can’t be bothered to actually lead on anything. He is a pile of nothing, held together by a corrupt system and party. He is also the norm of the people on TV. They want power, but they aren’t serious about governing or doing anything to justify their power. In what other area of life can someone have such a mindset? Whatever answer you come up with, it won’t be pretty.

    1. DJG

      Grant: + + +

      As you say, “They demand power, they demand your votes, but they are completely unserious about actually governing and don’t want to do anything for anyone but their donors.”

      I think that news outlets runs after Manchin because he is a particularly egregious example. He’s like Trump–he is stating the truth about the Democratic Party, in his case, just as Trump is constantly accidentally blurting out the truth about the nihilism-light right-wingers who have succumbed to his manifest charms.

      In a way, you’d think that Manchin would know better, because what he sounds like is a member of a hereditary aristocracy. Hereditary aristocracies haven’t always ended well. There was France, and there are the English aristos, so in-bred and self-absorbed that they have produced the likes of Boris Johnson.

      Boris Johnson makes Prince Charles look like a serious person.

      They are hollow men. They are hollow women. What’s the difference between having Manchin, Carly Fiorina, Meg Whitman, Hillary Clinton, Rahm Emanuel, Rick Santorum, Jim Comey, or Mike “Here Comes the Apocalypse Ever So Conveniently” Pompeo in power?

      But, as we all know, the problem is that AOC is too rigid ideologically and too engaged in “id-pol,” whatever id-pol means today.

    2. Glen

      They really don’t want to do anything, and they don’t want anything to change. In that sense they are true “conservatives”. They are completely on board with fundamentally nothing will change. They will argue forever about changing, but actual change, any change, is to be blocked with further discussion.

      Given this message, I fully expect massive loses by the Dems in 2022. In fact, one could argue that the House loses they have already suffered are because everybody can see what’s coming. Because if Manchin doesn’t want anything to change THIS is what he supports:

      Manchin is fully supportive of not bailing you out, your job out, or your business out.
      Manchin is fully supportive of giving trillions to billionaires who buy your business for pennies on the dollar and send your job to China.
      Manchin is fully supporting of letting states and cities go broke.
      Manchin is fully supportive of massive and crippling student debt.
      Manchin is fully supportive of letting the American infrastructure collapse of old age and neglect.
      Manchin is fully supportive of allowing climate change to flood our coastline and burn our forests.

      Let’s be sure to discuss the “crazy stuff” that they DO SUPPORT.

      1. TMoney

        This take pushes all my buttons. When I tell the Republicans I know that nothing is going to change they look at me like I’m mad. When I tell the Democrats I know that nothing is going to change they look at me like I’m mad.

    3. Pookah Harvey

      I have to give points to Pelosi and Manchin. At least they are not as hypocritical as Clyburn.

      Waleed Shahid
      Nov 8
      Rep. Jim Clyburn railing against “socialism” while often having a bust of one of America’s most prominent democratic socialists — W.E.B. Du Bois — behind him

    4. curlydan

      Manchin saw that 67% of his state voted for Trump (2nd most to only Wyoming), so he thinks any movement other than “to the right” will sound the death knell for him. In the really old days, I might say, “Kick him out of the party” but these days that would almost be a positive, and Manchin is a big dull negative.

      1. a different chris

        He needs kicked out of the party. Here’s how:

        >adding that Democrats should have a message that ‘didn’t scare the bejeezus out of people.

        My commercial would start right with me looking into the camera saying “so Joe Manchin thinks West Virginians are scared of the rich. Scared. Cowards. I don’t think you are, and I don’t think you have to take this crap anymore.”. And I would hit on that insult and hit on it and hit on it in every commercial I make. The trick is to mix “us vs themism” always with a small does of what “us” means.

        I’m not as convinced MfA is a winner if you just stand there and say it. I think you allude to it as the icing on each us vs them cake you deliver in speech and in adverts and by your door knockers. There are one-armed men out there that can knock you out with a punch, but you don’t see them in the ring because one punch doesn’t work. You need to work over your opponent from all angles.

        Show everything fancy the rich have and don’t share in West By God Virginia. Say they have it because Joe Manchin thinks you are too “scared” to demand your share.

        I bet you could beat him. This place was the heart of unionism, the place named the first time I ever heard the term “wildcat strike”.

        Now I’m sure he would switch to the R party and beat you by a smidgen…. but this is what it takes if you want power. The willingness to hit them where they think they are strong and make it hurt. And get up again when you lose a round. Karl Rove would approve, can’t we pay him enough to switch sides?

        1. Unsympathetic

          Joe Manchin voted in early 2020 to give trillions to the big businesses that destroy WV land.

          Joe Manchin voted against giving you healthcare when those businesses make you sick, voted against giving you a living wage indexed to inflation, voted against allowing you to discharge your student debt in bankruptcy, and voted against your personal bailout in 08 and 2020.

          Joe Manchin is simply a pawn of the rich fatcats.

          Want power? Repeat that. No joke: It never has in all his career — he’s only faced ridiculously tepid primary challenges.

          If someone’s really enterprising, they could also point out that “A Local Police Force” was originally the coal mine owner’s way of socializing what used to be the owner’s personal expense of the Pinkerton armies used to oppress/keep the workers away from the mine/factory… onto the overall tax burden of those same people. And that “Redneck” originally is a term referring to the red bandannas worn by striking union coal miners who needed to know who wasn’t on their side during the days-long battles with the Pinkerton/police forces.

    5. notabanker

      I feel your pain man. I really only see one way out of this and that is constitutional amendment removing corporate personhood, along with campaign finance restrictions. It’s the only way to usurp the SCOTUS.

      Otherwise, this is an endless loop that just continues to evolve, and not in a great way.

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        The Personal Mandate didn’t take a constitutional amendment. That required all of us to buy a product from a private company. Legislatures can do wonders. If they want to.

        1. Yves Smith

          The personal mandate is on track to be deemed unconstitutional. From Wikipedia:

          United States Department of Health and Human Services declared the law unconstitutional in an action brought by 26 states, on the grounds that the individual mandate to purchase insurance exceeds the authority of Congress to regulate interstate commerce.

          This then led to court cases, with the Supreme Court now hearing a challenge to the entire law. The court-watchers believe SCOTUS will strike the individual mandate, but leave the rest of the law intact.


  6. Calypso Facto

    Digital contact tracing apps allow to alert people who have been in contact with people who may be contagious. The Apple/Google Exposure Notification (EN) system is based on Bluetooth proximity estimation…

    I have been waiting for non-techs to catch on that this was the only way rapid mass contact tracing was likely to happen. This outlines some of the many known exploits for the smartphone implementations, but even the non-smartphone chips in wide use in consumer electronics are incredibly insecure. I vaguely recall early in the pandemic at least one asian country created tracking fobs and distributed them to citizens – possibly Singapore? – which sounded a bit more secure as they were not linked to a smartphone and thus were not subject to scammy/crappy apps distributed through one of the walled gardens (which would enable a lot more exploits via fake apps and data pulling from the app itself rather than just the NRF chips). The fobs would only require a key-value database that linked citizen name and fob id (and possibly a cell number for contact); the alerts would be sent when multiple fobs were in proximity and at least one fob owner had tested positive. The ‘time travel’ reference is regular polling of historic data as new cases come in (so you could be notified for a contact that happened weeks ago). Still have to carry the fob around but in that case if a phisher/phreaker/whatever were hanging around with an RF scanner and slurping data from the fobs, all they could get would be an ID. With the smartphone app it could potentially track your actual movements, contacts, etc.

    1. Oh

      I think the cell phone companies jumped on the “contact tracing” bandwagon in order to use it as an excuse farm more of your data on movement, contacts, etc. Unless quick testing (saliva tests with results available within an hour) is performed along with backward tracing, contact tracing will not accomplish anything.

      I agree with you that fobs be used rather than cell phones for this purpose. It’s less intrusive to employ them.

    2. HotFlash

      My dear Facto-san, you said that ‘even the non-smartphone chips in wide use in consumer electronics are incredibly insecure’. As a person who prizes her privacy, I have avoided anything with ‘smart’ in the name in so far as I can/am aware (dumb phone, dumb fridge, dumb doorbell, etc.). Could you please tell me (us) where these other chips might reside? I suspect my ‘smart’ electricity meter, but am I harbouring more spies?

      1. Calypso Facto

        They’re very common in devices that offload the UI to the user’s phone, where the devices are also connecting to another system; so wireless speakers, radios, peripherals like mice and headset, etc. If you have an iphone you can turn on Bluetooth in the phone with it in discoverable mode and walk around to try to find pairable devices. Searching Amazon with the keyword ‘bluetooth device’ will also show lots of products that have it.

      2. hunkerdown

        These chips really feel like they’ll never amount to anything or be recognized for their significance, and have nothing ahead of them in their service lives but work, work, work until they can’t anymore, then off to the recycler with them and all their friends.

        Seriously, though, in infosec jargon, the term “security,” left unqualified by e.g. a specific property or area to be secured or a specific hazard or agent to be secured against or a specified time period or strength of attack to withstand… is just FUD. “Insecure” has a sneaky specialist meaning here: you can use it without a password.

      1. Calypso Facto

        I should have been more precise about my statement. I read the linked post; I agree with your take on the value of a contact tracing app and that most Americans would not install it, listen to it its advice, and even the idea of an app to do so is stupid because many people do not have a phone capable of running the app. I am not arguing that phone contacting should be used, only that in the rush to appear to do something as well as connected people wanting to make a payday, that I believe it is likely phone contact tracing will be pushed.

        Amber and emergency/weather alerts already set a precedent for geofenced updates to devices; someone like Palantir could demonstrate a proof-of-concept app that could show how to have ‘microlockdowns’ targeted only to the affected. I don’t want this, I hate this, I am not defending this, I agree it is a fail. I still believe there will be attempts to push it in lieu of doing actual real public health responses like income support and social workers doing physical checks, because it is a classic move of offering the appearance of doing something rather than actually doing something, and lots of people would make money from this type of boondoggle.

  7. Sam Adams

    Re: “Manchin shoots down chance that Senate Democrats nix filibuster, expand court”
    Maybe some senator should filibuster all WV pig trough slop? Maybe veto all those WV funding? Get lost in the reconciliation package? Just spitballing it.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Like that is going to happen. Who you suggesting? AOC? Any of the other Squad? Bernie? Maybe Paul? They have their own logs to roll, and are not about to give that up “for the common good.” You don’t bring home the bacon, you don’t get re-elected. Especially if you rely at all on “small individual contributions.”

      I’ve done my best to block the fundraising dreck from Squad, and others, who hammer us through ActBlue — and note that ActBlue somehow has been taking $3 from me via PayPal for over a year on a supposed “recurring contribution,” and my repeated efforts to turn off this little dollar leak just didn’t seem to work.I’ve never intentionally made a recurring contribution to ANY candidate. And good luck trying to find a human to make rectify this in the ActBlue archipelago.

      1. ambrit

        Would a complaint to the Federal Banking Regulators work? Say that you are being defrauded through your bank account.

      2. Shtucb

        Paypal naturally hides recurring billing very well, but last I checked – say 10 days ago – you can turn off these recurring payments in the interface to Paypal. They don’t make it easy or obvious, but it is possible.

        Your “Yeah, Yeah I agree” text is subtly different when you agree to recurrent billing in Paypal. I now look for it, and immediately go in and remove the recurring tick after paying for whatever.

        Again, not defending the borderline scam here, just saying to look on the Paypal side, not the ActBlue side.

      3. a different chris

        >AOC? Any of the other Squad?

        Psst: they are in the House, not the Senate. So no they would not. Because they couldn’t if they wanted to. Jesus – Rev Kev is from Australia, so he gets a pass on that kind of stuff. What is your excuse?

        1. The Rev Kev

          Speaking for myself, I now watch how politicians vote when it come to the crunch. That is why the CARES Act vote a coupla months ago was so instructive. It was a watershed moment in American politics. Whether in the US they are in the House or the Senate, if a progressive makes great speeches but always votes the party line, what exactly do you gain by having them there?

          Of course writing this from the bottom of the world, I always get an upside down view of what is happening where you guys are. :)

        2. JTMcPhee

          WV pork originates in the House, I do believe, though all the pigs in both houses get their feet in the trough in the budget process. If AOC and others were true firebrands, one would think they could muck up the reconciliation process for Manchin’s pet pork. But not going to happen, Mr. Smith.

          I did go to the PayPal site several times and do what they said to extinguish the recurring payments. Did it several times over several months, but for some reason (maybe the code tests for persistence on the part of the payor?) it didn’t “take.” Looks like they did not hit me up this month yet, so maybe I ticked the counter in the persistence loop enough times to make it permanent. Of course, the transaction record is still there, maybe waiting to be activated by some unseen algo. Thinking now of “Office Space,” stealing a little bit from a lot of people, “they’ll hardly miss it…”

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Is the amount of dollars worth of Federal Funding which went into West Virginia since West Virginia became a State more than the amount of dollars worth of coal and wood and other exportable raw materials which came out of West Virginia since West Virginia became a State? Or is it less?

            1. ambrit

              That confuses the “private” economy with the “public” economy. More accurate would be to compare taxes collected from WV exports versus Federal dollars sent to WV.
              I’ll wager that the majority of the “private” profits extracted from WV did absolutely nothing to improve anything inside of WV, especially the lives of the people living there.

              1. drumlin woodchuckles

                Your last sentence makes the point I was hoping to hint at. The Federal Money given to West Virginia is a tiny derisory risible fraction of the wealth removed from West Virginia, and is probably only a fraction of the outrightly measurable wealth-destruction left behind in West Virginia after removal of the wealth.

                I think it would be neat if the people of West Virginia voted in a referendum to change their State’s name to Appalachia. They could then invite any bordering Appalachian counties in neighboring States to seccede from their States and join the new and growing State of Appalachia.
                Their State Motto could be: Welcome to Appalachia — America’s Tibet.

  8. Keith

    I am pro book boarding. It is too easy to lose information, whether important, trivial or somewhere in between when it is in its electronic format. I do regret purging one book collection during a move, but it has since recovered. I am also applying this hoarding to film, well, VHS, in order to collect older movies and cartoons in their original format and not doctored and pc’d updates.

    Han shoots first!! Part of his appeal, not a true good guy, but a smuggler who chooses to do some good, or put another way, character development.

    Also want to pick up some little lulu cartoons, girl power from the back and white days.

  9. clarky90

    “Move To Cull 625,000 New Zealand National Library Books, Is Cultural Vandalism!”


    What I have been seeing. Books, scholarly articles, old journals ……. are being moved on line. Great!

    And then….the physical books are being dumped in rubbish pits (I have seen this). Makes ecological sense, it’s so expensive and time consuming to store those smelly old books and journals.

    But, recently, digital access to info is slowly, incrementally, being a throttled. Disappeared, pay-walled….

    non party line POVs are fading away. The curtain is descending…..

  10. Krystyn Podgajski

    I have always been frustrated with people using non-violent communication when speaking with me. I see it as a weird form of psychological manipulation to get someone to do what you want them to do. It is like how sociopaths can fake empathy to get people to do what they want.

    If people are still violent on the inside, speaking non-violently changes nothing. Peak neoliberalism?

    See this: https://www.collectivelyfree.org/nonviolent-communication-privileged/

    1. JWP

      great link.
      I would add that it defaults to the “middle is the best” logical fallacy. If it seeks to avoid violence, it will lead to compromise even if it is counter-factual and against the betterment of both parties, therefore hindering progress. I liked the point about absolving from responsibility, as if neo-liberal complacency has nothing to do with the issue being discussed (it almost always does). Furthermore, this speaking approach is being used more and . more by the center-right to encourage the “under one tent” approach to politics that squeezes out the left by encouraging social responsibility and fiscal conservatism as a nice compromise, despite both approaches roles in creating the very issues that are often discussed.

    2. LilD

      NVC saved my life and marriage.

      I don’t understand the attack on it – yes a sociopath can use it to be manipulative but that’s not the only use. It is focused on listening and communicating, not trying to control others.

      It’s quite helpful to come from “I” rather than attacking or labeling your interlocutor or using passive aggressive formulation. Plenty of ways to manipulate with deep FOG (fear, obligation, guilt)

      It is certainly true that we don’t all share the same culture and experience but raffi’s criticism seems like a stretch to then claim that it’s only good for perpetuating privilege. But I’m not pro idpol anyway

      We have control over our own actions and attitudes and not others.
      We are allowed to take offense but if, eg, one objects to the word “niggardly” as racist and try to control someone else or cancel because of ones outrage, then I believe that NVC would lead to a better outcome

  11. Amfortas the hippie

    the thing on books.
    i’ve only ever been, at best, peripherally aware of who this marie kondo person is.
    “tidy” is also one of my least favorite words.
    whatever. I like books…and i like clutter.
    i thrive in clutter, in fact.
    the old trailerhouse where my eldest abides is my Library…he’s in the master bed/bath…Library occupies the rest, along with the Museum of Us.(i’m the default curator of family lore and heirlooms)
    there are thousands of books.
    of course, my favorite books—-rather, a couple of hundred of my favorites—are over here at the house…mostly in my room(wife took over the living room when she got diagnosed with cancer. no one complains about this)
    the Library is more or less organised by topic/genre….sci fi shelf…great literatures shelves…a large section on comparative mythology, subsectioned into the various religions…
    econ and political stuff are all down the hall, ie “political economy”///and what used to be the kitchen is all how to and diy and gardening reference and stacks of mother earth and acres usa, etc…as well as materia medica and ditch medicine texts.
    I know where everything is, of course…even in it’s current disarray.
    that disarray is due to cousin and his eldest moving in in march and pretty much stacking everything willy nilly out of the way.
    still recovering from all that,lol.
    (i’m the Anti- Kondo=>”do not tidy!”)
    before the upset, i’d hang out and write over there, among my stacks….but the space is mainly for storage of all that weight in a usable manner.
    so i can find it when i need it.
    the Library and Environs were also the site of Date Nights….but we have to go out in the woods, these days,lol…too many young adults popping by.
    the biggest lament is that so few people i know in real life are interested in books, at all.
    when eldest has a few people over(outside, around the fire), some marvel at the books…but show no interest otherwise….it’s just notable to them that there are so many, when all the other places they encounter are bookless.
    the ai curated iphone has killed the curiosity and bibliophilia that made me who i am….and i don’t know how to feel about that.

    1. DJG

      amfortas: Thanks for this. I just laid in my stock of winter reading (we’ll see if they manage to stretch through the winter). I was interested in some new titles from Italy, so I had them shipped over.

      I may be tidier than you. I stacked them on the bedside table in the order that I am likely to read them.

      But then I work in publishing, and editors still sniff books–breathe in that magical and reassuring smell of paper, that, somehow, still evokes trees. (And as we all know, trees are prophetic, especially oaks, with their big personalities.) I still examine each book that I buy for its “production values.” Good book-making matters.

      As you may have noticed, your iPhone just isn’t a sensory experience, except as something eye-wearying and slick. With a monthly fee.

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        Our Friends of the Library is in an old southern building that just uses attic fans for ventilation. I ride past there when I go to work, and that smell was all around the building.

        They did two sales a year, which got regional interest because everyone who liked books in this university city knew where to send them on. That whole ecosystem has closed down now. I’ve got a few bags of ‘gift books’ that I’ll just stow for better times.

  12. Synoia

    Trump isn’t devoting this new cash to fund his legal challenges to the election results, and it shows.

    Of course not. He has, I believe, some ($300 million I believe) loans coming due in a year or so. I also wonder about his reelection fund, which was started when he was elected, and how much of that remains unspent.

    Maybe he will write (have his name on) an ego boosting book. I suggest he follow Enid Blyton’s format, and use her characters, Noddy, Big Ears, Golly, and Mr Plod. /s

    Disclaimer: Enid Blyton is considered bigoted in this day and age.

    In the ’50s she was not. Nor were the little badges one could accumulate form collecting Robertson’s Jam labels.

    1. hunkerdown

      “A lot of strange comins and goins in that old castle. Secrets and signs and threats….”

      Quite frankly I think the Comic Strip crew and Channel 4 had thoroughly exhausted the counter-revolutionary potential of the Famous Five, in their second and third time as farce, fourth time as satire. A fifth time by Mr Trump would be nothing more than gratuitous, therefore likely.

    2. Oh

      The Orange Monster can’t hold a candle to Enid Bylton in wrting prowess. Trumpie is not even capable of writing a one page essay.

    3. John k

      I ordered a set of blyton’s famous 5 series that I collected as a boy in Benghazi for my grandsons thru eBay. One is just starting them, the other too young. Hope they like them as much as I did.
      She sure was prolific.

    4. Yves Smith

      You can’t use campaign funds for personal debts.

      And we’ve said REPEATEDLY that this hyperventilating about Trump having debt coming due is nonsense. Trump is underleveraged for someone in real estate. He’ll have no trouble either rolling those loans or paying them off from borrowings against other assets.

    5. wilroncanada

      My wife read Enid Blyton to our children in the 70s/80s along with many other writers. She has since read them to our grandchildren.

  13. Wukchumni

    Plan B

    Fast forward to January 20th and the inauguration is held via Zoom because the virus is so virulent.

    Do we get a nationwide hard shutdown for half of the first 100 days, soon enacted after Biden takes office?

    It’d be kind of in the spirit of FDR’s ‘Bank Holiday’ in which Roosevelt restored confidence in banks in a fashion that no way could Hoover have done.

    1. JTMcPhee

      A nice idea only if the gov’t dispatches those helicopters to shower down some money and food and stuff to the people who are locked down (many of whom will off course cheat or resist, defeating the whole exercise.) And my bet is that the helicopters will stay hangared in the various Federal Reserve buildings, to be always ready to deliver pallets full of greenbacks and their digital equivalents to the Very Rich Already…

  14. chuck roast

    For those of you about to experience the nirvana of “recreational” marijuana, here’s what I did today:

    A snowbird friend of mine left me his car for the winter. This luxury that I would never pay for allowed me to drive to an away Medical Marijuana Dispensary and Recreational Cannabis Store (self described). After a series of humiliations including showing ID upon entry and at the counter…they scanned my ID to get my name which allows me to purchase this legal product. I show it again at the counter, and look around in vain to spot smoke coming off the top of anyone’ s head but my own. They did not ask to see my Medicare A&B card. I tried to trip them up by showing them my passport instead of my driver’s license. Not happening. Anyway, I’m buying for friends.

    Here is a summary of my receipt (all 3.5 grams or 1/8 oz.):
    Cereal Milk (2) $50/ea.
    Watermelon Gelato (2) $50/ea.
    Ice Cream Man $50
    Subtotal $250

    Various Regressive Sin Taxes:
    State Sales Tax $15.63
    Cannabis Excise Tax $26.88
    Local Tax $7.50
    Total Tax $50.00

    Payment (cash) $300.00

    My friends will have to go to Oregon themselves if they want psilocybin. I am not giving up my DNA to get into a strip mall.

    1. JohnnySacks

      At $400 an ounce plus a 20% tax on top those prices is completely exploitative and the protocol ridiculous. Did you stay for the airhead behind the counter’s blather about the differences between those laughable ‘flavors’ too? As someone ‘with friends’, you need to hook up with a hobbyist and pick up a couple clones.

    2. jeremy Grimm

      Happiness too quickly turned to sorrow … from what I’ve read, my state’s legislature will spend the next 1-3 years hammering out the laws for controlling recreational cannabis — so no nirvana. Even simple matters like how much you can have around, how many plants — if any — you are allowed to grow, and issues of licensing and taxation remain to be worked out. I’ll start another batch of mead and study up on indoor lighting for plants, plant nutrition and diseases, and learn about starting seeds and the best soil and nutrient mixes. If I make that study sufficiently general it should also yield knowledge about growing container food in various conditions.

      With the costs for legal cannabis surpassing the costs for purchases from the black market I guess our police departments can continue their efforts to ‘serve and protect’ us from the black market dealers and lower prices. I wonder how well the legislature will be able to make the penalties for black market sellers and buyers approach the penalties pre-‘legalization’. We cannot allow the vacancy rate in our state prisons to threaten any long term investments in real estate and social improvement.

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        Oi, home grown. Visiting Alaska back in the day, I realized Alaskan Gold wasn’t worth the pain. I found I could deal with this weird situation by just saying, ‘I’m from Florida’ and there would be shrugs and nods all around.

    3. ambrit

      Good Heavens! $300 USD for 1/8 ounce?
      I remember “acquiring” kilos of Michoacan for $200 USD. The expensive stuff, Colombian and Panama, was up to $300 USD a pound weight.
      Let’s not even get into THC content. Who would not prefer a simple, happy ‘buzz’ to being Psychedelicized?
      If I want to “trip,” I’ll go to Oregon.

      1. hunkerdown

        You don’t have to smoke the whole joint anymore, and neither do your lungs. This is unironically a good thing. You need only take one or two puffs and put it out until next time, or use a single serving smoking utensil such as a dugout.

        Also, chuck’s price was $50/3.5g (plus tax). It’s still in the $60-70/3.5g range in Michigan. Top shelf strains and rapper limited editions are priced higher still. The first grow usually pays for itself with 2-3 ounces of the best bud you ever had before legalization. The next one is almost free.

        Friends are probably still cheaper.

    4. Pelham

      I had occasion to glance at a construction industry publication today and, apparently, contractors are really worried about legalization. For one thing — they say — it’s unclear whether employers can prohibit workers from using the stuff on the job. Edibles, for instance, could be particularly worrisome.

        1. The Rev Kev

          A position for Willie Brown? How about Kamala Harris’s official arm-bracelet? Bring it around full circle so to say.

        2. ambrit

          Mega Snark alert, plus NSFW (Not Safe For Wokeistas).
          This time, she will be on top.
          [I return to the Bunker as a matter of simple self preservation.]

  15. Roquentin

    I hear the news about the Pfizer vaccine and mostly think about how little I really understand about medical science. I’m not even remotely in a position to sort out how much of what they are saying about their results is and isn’t BS. What I do know is that them announcing it the day after the election was called sets off all sorts of alarm bells for me, indicating that it is likely way more about politics than any actual results. The charitable reading is that Pfizer knew for a while, but just kept it under wraps until the election had passed in order to avoid giving Trump a boost. It seems plausible to me, but who am I to know?

    I think that’s another part of the whole pandemic that doesn’t get discussed enough, how most people feel like they keep getting jerked around as far as scientific opinion on what the virus is and isn’t, what to do about it etc. It doesn’t explain it all away, but it at least explains part of the distrust and hostility to precautionary measures here. The messaging on COVID has never been very consistent. You can lay a lot of that at Trump’s feet too, but there’s that old saying about how people like having the black sheep around because it makes the rest of them look whiter by comparison.

    1. GramSci

      There’s this from a comment in yesterday’s Links:

      “Gruber said that Pfizer and BioNTech had decided in late October that they wanted to drop the 32-case interim analysis. At that time, the companies decided to stop having their lab confirm cases of Covid-19 in the study, instead leaving samples in storage. The FDA was aware of this decision. Discussions between the agency and the companies concluded, and testing began this past Wednesday. When the samples were tested, there were 94 cases of Covid in the trial. The DSMB met on Sunday.”

      So a decision was jointly made by the FDA and Pfizer not to announce results before the election.


      1. Jeremy Grimm

        I am not sure of the thrust of your comment. What do you read from the FDA complicity with Pfizer’s decision not to announce results before the election?

        I would tar the FDA with the same brush and hot tar I believe Pfizer deserves.

        1. John Ralston

          I presume that by FDA you really meant some person(s) in high place(s) within the FDA.

          A person or small group of persons made the decision to purposefully put progress on development of this vaccine on hold.

          A task that is supposed to be of vital importance to the health and security of the entire populace of the United States ( the government aka the citizens paid for it ) -if not the entire World, was apparently willfully slow-walked for political expedience or interference.

          Let that sink in.

          The pandemic was allowed to progress and worsen and what might be a life saving vaccine for some number of persons was with-held in order to damage Trump and help Biden.

          Is it really acceptable to with-hold vital medical interventions from thousands of desperately sick people all over the nation just to unseat a politician that one disfavors?

          If provable this might reasonably be construed as intentional conspiracy to murder.

          Now, what are we to make of THIS ‘trust science’ bullsh*t?

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      Your comment states my own feelings very well. Pfizer’s announcement and its timing does indeed smell of rotten fish. Nature Magazine seems intent on sullying its reputation with ‘generous’ omissions like that Lambert caught. This lapse of ‘scientific’ veracity is not a lonely lapse. I suspect that even experts in a range of fields are growing concerned as publications increasingly reflect the whims of profit-taking interests rather than Science and Truth. And the scales of goddess Dike have long measured weights of gold in place of facts in evidence.

      People in the US have not just been “jerked around” by official announcements and proclamations of ‘scientific’ opinion — we have been openly lied to. What is most disturbing to me is how little effort has been expended to make the lies at least somewhat plausible. Consider for example, the back and forth about masks, aerosols, droplets, and fomids. I am coming to believe we are being lied to and the lies might be true because our scientists don’t really know what is true. I am suggesting a chasm in our knowledge of infectious diseases … and reading journal articles and reports published in the last several decades it suggests a remarkable lack of memory in our institutions of public health.

      I don’t agree with your view of Trump as the black sheep that “makes the rest of them [our other Government Officials] look whiter by comparison”. I don’t see white anywhere. I see only black and dark blood red.

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      …… how most people feel like they keep getting jerked around as far as scientific opinion on what the virus is and isn’t…..

      Emphatically yes. They are being jerked around.

      So here’s a bit of a primer on how the number of covid “cases” is being determined, how the severity of the crisis is likely being deliberately overstated and why the crisis is likely to “pass” now that uncle joe is “in charge.”

      The most widely used diagnostic test for the new coronavirus, called a PCR test, provides a simple yes-no answer to the question of whether a patient is infected.
      The PCR test amplifies genetic matter from the virus in cycles; the fewer cycles required, the greater the amount of virus, or viral load, in the sample. The greater the viral load, the more likely the patient is to be contagious.
      One solution would be to adjust the cycle threshold used now to decide that a patient is infected. Most tests set the limit at 40, a few at 37. This means that you are positive for the coronavirus if the test process required up to 40 cycles, or 37, to detect the virus.

      Tests with thresholds so high may detect not just live virus but also genetic fragments, leftovers from infection that pose no particular risk — akin to finding a hair in a room long after a person has left, Dr. Mina said.

      Any test with a cycle threshold above 35 is too sensitive, agreed Juliet Morrison, a virologist at the University of California, Riverside. “I’m shocked that people would think that 40 could represent a positive,” she said.

      The article goes on to explain how creating so much noise hinders efforts to identify those people who would actually suffer from or spread the virus.


      As for the sainted dr. fauci, in July he said:

      “What is now sort of evolving into a bit of a standard,” Fauci said, is that “if you get a cycle threshold of 35 or more … the chances of it being replication-confident are minuscule.”

      “It’s very frustrating for the patients as well as for the physicians,” he continued, when “somebody comes in, and they repeat their PCR, and it’s like [a] 37 cycle threshold, but you almost never can culture virus from a 37 threshold cycle.”

      So, I think if somebody does come in with 37, 38, even 36, you got to say, you know, it’s just dead nucleotides, period.”


      Do yourself a favor and read both articles. They are wonderfully “clarifying.”

      1. John Ralston

        IE: Fauci basically admited that the vaunted PCR tests are being wildly misused ( abused ) to inflate ‘case’ numbers.

        Some reasonably call this simple fraud since the falsehood IS known and IS being exploited.

  16. ChrisPacific

    “Can Joe Biden avoid Obama’s mistakes? He must – for the future of the party”

    I’m assuming that Sirota knows this is a rhetorical question, and is writing for an audience. Given the extent to which he owes his present position to Obama, Biden will avoid Obama’s mistakes if and only if Obama wants him to do so. That would presuppose Obama admitting that he actually made mistakes in the first place. Can anyone point me to any interviews or publications where he apologized to the people who lost their homes? Wondered if maybe he shouldn’t have prosecuted a few bankers? Had second thoughts about whether austerity was a good idea? Acknowledged his role in increasing inequality? Anybody? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

  17. TBellT

    On the vaccine someone linked this video in a discord I am in and I found it to be a good summary.

    The one thing I had hoped the doctor in the video touched on more was they say something like MERS/SARCOV1 has a long immunity life > 10 years. But I think there is some funging of the difference between antibody response (the shorter lived “immunity”) and T cell response (the longer lasting) has come up here and the video didn’t really delve into that or what it means for vaccines.

    1. Yves Smith

      Sorry, whoever said that MERS or any “common” coronavirus confers immunity of 10 years is a quack or lying. MERS confers the longest immunity of any of the four major coronaviruses and it’s around 34 months.

  18. JWP

    Seeing the small business stats were up gave me pause because I think that’s momentary. Portland, with its large amount of small businesses for its size, might be a thorn in those stats. The place i work at (two employees, retail) is seeing holiday spending already, but we do not have a good outlook beyond the holidays where the COVID financial squeeze turns new years resolutions=spending less, into serious budgeting to stay afloat=spending less. Furthermore, online sales have dried up the last two months, indicating the savings from COVID might be running into the macro effects on the household budget.

  19. fjallstrom

    “I don’t understand why the sudden dip around a week ago, in every region except the (organge) Northeast (and why does the Northeast keep being the exception?)”

    When I see a one week spike or dip in a 7day average I suspect a single day spike or dip in day by day numbers. And there are, kind of, if you look at the day by day data. That could in turn be driven by anything from a holiday, to data being reported in batches and the collection noting the day of report, to something in the actual spread.

    If you look at the day to day numbers, Northeast is by far the least noisy and lowest in positivity. I would assume that this is because a build up in testing capacity, but I don’t know if it has. I do know the states hit hard during the spring in Western Europe expanded testing capacity in the wake of the first wave.

    1. Samuel Conner

      This is surely correct; the dips are 7 days in duration, the same as the averaging window.

      Running the plot again without the smoothing would show the precise events responsible for these features in the averaged time series.

      1. Samuel Conner

        I am mystified by the gigantic spikes in hospitalization (link below, or one can click on Lambert’s link and turn off the smoothing.)

        There are absurd single-day values, and I think that this may indicate some sort of glitch in data aggregation and/or reporting.


        1. Samuel Conner

          It looks like the fundamental data may be “total hospitalized cases” day by day. This gets differenced to produce “new hospitalized cases per day”.

          There are large steps in the “total hospitalized cases”, which suggests “new data discovered” and added in. Sort of like what appears to have happened in some of the vote counting.

          Rather than determining how the “step up” total hospitalization numbers came to be due to past over-time daily admissions (perhaps this information is simply not available), the totals are simply updated and this results in the artificial steps in the totals and the artificial spikes in the derived-from-daily-differences “new hospitalizations” values.


          I speculate that perhaps something similar is going on with the daily testing data. There are steps in the “Total COVID-19 tests” data, which when differenced would produce large spikes in the daily tests, and those spikes happen to have lower positivity than the surrounding data. The 7-day average produces the “inverted top hat” function shapes.

          Basically — ignore the large one-day (unaveraged) or 7-day offsets and focus on the underlying trends.

          1. fjallstrom

            I agree, focus on the underlying trends.

            91-divoc is a very neat project, making the data very accessible for graphs, but given how much data they present from all over the world and how many different ways one can choose to make graphs of it, these anomalies are likely to pop up.

            1. thoughtful person

              I wondered how the total US cases plot line was often less than various US regions?

              The likelihood of batch reports coming in on one day makes sense to create the block shapped spikes.

  20. Tinky

    Lambert –

    re: mRNA

    “What Pfizer’s landmark COVID vaccine results mean for the pandemic” [Nature]. • I read this twice. In contrast to Bloomberg’s coverage in this morning’s Links, there’s no sentence remotely similar to “The messenger RNA technology used in the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has never been deployed in humans before.” The closest is “One key unanswered question is how long the vaccines’ effectiveness will last,” and that’s not very close.

    From the statnews article linked below (bold emphasis mine):

    Both Pfizer’s vaccine and Moderna’s use messenger-RNA, or mRNA, technology, which uses genetic material to cause the body to create a protein from the virus; the immune system then recognizes the virus and learns to attack. Other vaccines in the late stages of development use genetically engineered viruses for a similar purpose, or pieces of protein that are directly injected. No mRNA product has ever been approved by regulators.


    1. flora

      Is this similar to gene therapy work I’ve read about in other contexts? I don’t know much about it. My impression is the gene therapy medical use investigations are still experimental.

      1. Samuel Conner

        I believe that this is different from “gene therapy” in that it doesn’t modify the underlying DNA. mRNA in normal cell function is a “work product” transcription from DNA that informs the ribosomes how to construct a protein.

        Here, the “work product” is provided without the original being present in the cell.

        It’s a less permanent change to the cell than altering the DNA. Still strikes me as mildly alarming in that you’re instructing the cell to produce a non-native protein (a viral protein).

        Introducing the capability to produce non-native proteins (via incorporation of non-native DNA) is a pretty common thing in transgenic crops (GMOs) and is sometimes used in bacteria to produce useful proteins at industrial scale. As therapy in humans … it’s new.

  21. Glen

    Oh, hey, surprise, surprise:

    Justices appear ready to uphold Obamacare

    Sorry, I think this is behind a firewall.

    But really? Surprised? No, the SCOTUS is COMPLETELY OWNED by big corporations and billionaires.

    So everybody is worried, worried that Trump will do something crazy before he is gone. You know what he ought to do? Would he be willing to do something that would get him RE-ELECTED in 2024? Implement Medicare For All as part of dealing with COVID-19.

    I would vote for that.

    1. Samuel Conner

      I like the idea, but doubt that he could do much via executive order.

      I wonder if Medicare eligibility conditions can be tweaked by executive order.

      Still, just verbalizing this as an aspiration would be … spectacular. And it would be joyous to see the Ds squirm as they seek ways to criticize the President for daring to utter such heresy.

  22. The Rev Kev

    “White Women’s Support for Trump Remains High in 2020 Election”

    ‘White women have to answer for backing the Republican nominee yet again.’

    I have no idea how she will react when she learns that more black and latino women also voted for Trump. Somebody should go get her some cheese to go with her whine. Must be brunch time now.

    1. a different chris

      I dunno, but hold your horses.

      Black Republicans vote for Republicans. That’s why they are Republicans.
      Female Republicans vote for Republicans. That’s why they are Republicans.

      These are exit polls. Everybody here has read about how heavily the Dem voters used mail-in compared to the Republicans. So what the frell does an exit poll tell you? It tells you how a group of mostly Republicans voted. And probably actually how well less than 1% of those voters voted.

      Man I would give all the fingers on one hand if I never had to type “poll” again.

      >when she learns that more black and latino women also voted for Trump.

      I mean after the polls have spent years screwing up, if you found yourself at the Pearly Gates and the entrance question was “do you think black voters actually voted more for Trump than they did in 2016” how good would you feel about answering that?

    2. flora

      So… half the country “has to answer” for voting GOP in a normal election? This is unhinged ranting. I just love sore winners. /s Wonder what the media ratings will be for whiney sore winner-ism? Pretty dismal is my guess. /heh

    3. John Ralston

      That rat has been gnawing on white women’s ankles for her meals and doesn’t deserve any more cheese than she has already been paid for doing it…

    4. jr

      Oh, that’s an easy one. I think it was Charles Blow (I think that’s his name.) who opined in a tweet posted here the other day that plenty of PoC act “white” as well. It’s a race, a color, and a state of mind, baby. It’s the Swiss Army knife of identitarianism, anything you want it to be.

      1. hunkerdown

        To be fair, whiteness was always more of a lifeway than a race. And what is race in the material sense if not a tradition of not interbreeding?

        They used to say the Internet was awesome because you could role play. Today, even Patti Labelle’s son can tweet as an anti-feminist critic and nobody would ever be the wiser.

        (Nah, actually he got found out promptly and his accountS came crashing down within the hour)

      2. Quentin

        For instance, see Barack Obama and Kamala Harris. Why hasn’t a black person of slave descent been yet chosen by the Democratic Party for one of the two highest offices? There are blacks, and there are blacks, as recognised in the highest social circles.

  23. drumlin woodchuckles

    Reading these latest entries on “covid vaccine” affairs re-confirms the wisdom of my standing personal decision to avoid any covid vaccines which come out for now. I will let others be the first wave Beta Testers. And then Beta 2.0 Testers. And then Beta 3.0 Testers. In the meantime, I will lead my current semi-shut-in life. And try avoiding places where the Typhoid MAGA coronatard-lepers congregate.

  24. book hoarder

    If you love your books and keep your books you are not anti-Marie Kondo at all. If you don’t like your books and keep them because you feel like you should have some around to look cool, then you’re anti-Marie Kondo. Most people who hate her have no idea what she’s saying.

    1. tegnost

      needless to say 18 mil is a chump change cost of business fine and they demanded a recount to the bitter end… they spent 22 mil to defeat the initiative, the fine should be much higher

      1. tegnost

        needless, oh and…
        “CEO Jeff Bezos celebrated Biden and Harris’ win in an Instagram post. Bezos said their victory signifies that “unity, empathy and decency are not characteristics of a bygone era.””
        but you won’t find those characteristics in any bezos enterprise…hmmmm…

  25. Brunches with Cats

    Deep philosophical question regarding human perception of time:

    At what point does “late brunch” become “early dinner?”

    1. skippy

      Permutations surrounding floating point multipliers has attempted to grapple with such important distinctions … alas transcendental functions comes with low accuracy … as such we are reduced from freedom of choice by arbitrary group dynamics that depends on which way the elites fickle fashions dictate … E.g. most of philosophy … mirth …

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