2:00PM Water Cooler 11/25/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

For Turkey Day, my favorite holiday!


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:

There’s a drawing back from the vertical and an actual fall in the Midwest, perhaps somehow related to the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.

The Midwest in detail:

Perceptible drops in the Midwest, for whatever reason.

Test positivity by region:

Nowhere near 3%, though.

Hospitalization by region:

Hospitalization seems to have plateaued in the South, nearly. And we see the curve in the Midwest has turned down. I suppose we could use this chart as a rough and ready guide to capacity, on the theory that “what we have done, that we can do.” (That assumes that hospital workers can handle it; maybe not.) On that theory, no region but the Midwest approaches its previous peak, and this is really the first time through for them.

Case fatality rate by region:

Deaths (purple dotted) heading toward vertical, as they will for awhile, although they should drop (or at least dip) where the case count does, with the two-week lag.


“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

Election Legitimacy

MI: “The Inside Story of Michigan’s Fake Voter Fraud Scandal” [Politico]. Horrible stuff. And here’s Hitler: “Having long been advised by his legal team that state legislators would be his ace in the hole—particularly in Republican-controlled states with close elections—the president called Chatfield and Shirkey the morning after the Wayne board meeting. He invited them to the White House for a briefing on the state of play in Michigan. Both Chatfield and Shirkey are talented and ambitious, self-grooming for future runs at higher office. Both could see the obvious problems of meeting with the president at such a precarious moment—and both could also see how spurning Trump could torpedo their careers in the GOP…. The president asked them about allegations of fraud, and the legislators told him about various probes they had authorized to look into reports of irregularities. But Trump, perhaps sensing the nervous reticence of his guests, did not make the ask they feared. As the meeting went on, it became apparent to some people in the room that more than anything, Trump had called his Michigan allies to Washington to get an honest assessment of what had happened there. He wanted to know if there was any pathway to victory. They told him there was not.” • Makes you wonder if the same thing happened in Nevada–

NV: “Huge court win lets Trump present ballot evidence, could overturn Nevada result” [Washington Examiner]. “According to Trump officials, the judge set a Dec. 3 hearing date and is allowing 15 depositions. What’s more, the campaign plans to present its evidence that could result in the rejection of tens of thousands of mail-in ballots in Democratic Clark County where Biden ballots outnumbered Trump ballots by 91,000 in unofficial results…. In its court filing from Nov. 17, the Trump team made several allegations of voter fraud, including votes by nonresidents and the dead. But its biggest claim was that the signatures on hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots were not verified by human officials, as required by law. What’s more, they found that officials used a machine to verify signatures, apparently against the rules, and even those machines were plagued with problems. [Big if true.] Schlapp said he is eager to get a chance to finally show its evidence of fraud and for the campaign to present the thousands of examples of signature machine errors. Since many states require signature verification, that is where the campaign’s fraud investigation is focused.” • Speaking quite generally, because I haven’t had the capacity to dig into particular cases: (1) Anybody who has followed Democrat primaries over the years know that Democrats have the capacity and the will to commit election fraud when needed. However, (2) the Trump campaign has had absolutely terrible lawyering; the Bush campaign in Florida, for example, had absolutely top-notch legal talen, and that’s what it took. In consequence of poor lawyering — and, no doubt, lack of a prima facie case no matter the lawyering, in most instances — (3) no coherent narrative in any state has ever emerged; it’s been like Benghazi, all yarn and no diagram. So all we have — as opposed to affidavits and discovery, which is what we need — is an atmosphere of suspicion (and of course the fund-raising and epistemic closure that goes along with that, similar to Russiagate). However, (4) the signature verfiication narrative above strikes me as plausble; it’s very much in line with the culture of the Democratic nomenklatura: It’s technocratic (verification machines), they butchered the technology (“plagued with problems”), and the goal was to bring in as many ballots as possible. So, we’ll see. The nice thing about the signature allegation is that it can be disproved (or proved).

PA: “Williams prof disavows own finding of mishandled GOP ballots” [Berkshire Eagle]. “Miller told The Eagle that he made a mistake separating his analysis of the data from questions about the reliability of the data itself. ‘Especially as the consequences are so important, I should have made a greater effort to go deeply into and share how the data was collected and not treat this solely as an independent calculation,” he wrote in a statement Monday night. He said he was not claiming that voter fraud had occurred but maintained that ‘the extrapolated numbers here are significant’ and deserve more attention…. The data Miller used came from Braynard’s ‘Voter Integrity Fund,’ a group led by former Trump campaign staffers and government employees, Miller confirmed to The Eagle. He said he was not paid for his work.”

Because our political class collectively has the memory of a goldfish:

Transition to Biden

“‘People are pissed’: Tensions rise amid scramble for Biden jobs” [Politico]. “‘The Obama staffers are now cutting out the people who got Biden elected,’ said a senior Biden official channeling the feelings of the old guard of the Biden campaign, who requested anonymity for the obvious reason. ‘None of these people found the courage to help the VP when he was running and now they are elevating their friends over the Biden people. It’s f—– up.'” • The Obama Alumni Association? Surely not. It’s a damn shame.

UPDATE “Climate Groups Prod Biden to Bolster Kerry by Declaring Crisis” [Bloomberg]. “Invoking a climate emergency could give Biden the authority to circumvent Congress and fund clean energy projects, shut down crude oil exports, suspend offshore drilling and curtail the movement of fossil fuels on pipelines, trains, and ships, according to a research note by consulting firm ClearView Energy Partners…. ‘The president’s powers to address climate change through an emergency are very, very large,’ said Kassie Siegel, an attorney with the environmental group Center for Biological Diversity, which is lobbying Biden’s team to act. ‘This is No. 1 on the list of things the Biden administration should do.'”

Confidence builder:

Liberalgasm Jouissance (1): “…And Universal Darkness buries All“:

(Re: some Jake or other’s remarks on a “boring” Biden administration, presumed to be forthcoming….)

Liberalgasm Jouissance (2):

Liberalgasm Jouissance (3):

No wonder the gullible think these national security goons are “superheroes.” when they get staging like that:

Granted, the costumes are different…

Transition from Trump

Boring once more:


UPDATE “It Wasn’t Ideology That Sank House Democrats. It Was Bad Strategy.” [Politico]. This is brutal, worth reading in full. “Guidance from Washington broadly understood by campaigns as a ban on in-person canvassing was the most damaging decision of all—an error that compounded all the others. It seemed to make sense on its face. But it was also—like the defiant lack of mask-wearing at Trump rallies is for Republicans—a form of Democratic brand messaging: They walk in the low-down footsteps of Typhoid Mary, we take the high road with Tony Fauci. Applied to campaigns all across the country, it backfired terribly. Instead of finding ways to safely campaign in swing districts and talk to voters, wearing masks and social distancing, in the weeks before the election—as did Joe Biden’s presidential campaign—Democratic campaigns had to rely on secondhand insights, filtered through the misperceptions of pollsters and politicos in far-off Washington, D.C. They had no option but to rely on polling data, which a more robust ground operation would have exposed as inaccurate: Nothing better gauges voter sentiment than meeting voters in person. And so they had to connect with voters through the largely impersonal means of TV ads, email blitzes and massive spends on social media.”

UPDATE “Why Stacey Abrams Is Confident Georgia Will Stay Blue” [New York Times]. Abrams: “This coalition existed in 2018 in my election. This is a coalition that we’ve been building together for the last decade through groups like Asian-American advocacy funds, Black Lives Matter, Coalition for People’s Agenda, Mijente, Southerners on New Ground. So this is a group that didn’t just come together out of convenience. We’ve been working together in coalition, and that’s why I think we can sustain it.” • Abrams is better than the Democrats and the media make her sound. They generally deploy the leadership trope, and attribute success to Abrams personally. Abrams is careful to spread the glory around; note the namechecks. (The West Wing Thing has a good discussion here.) Now, how much Abrams drove the “group” is open to question; for example, I have never tracked down the source for the 800,000 figure for voters Abrams supposedly induced to register. Another example: I doubt very much that Abrams, were she in any sort of executive capacity, would have approved this:

Pretty hard to explain that one to the brunch-goers.

PA: “Meet Pennsylvania’s anger translator, and Donald Trump’s worst nightmare” [Independent]. “Fetterman began his political career in the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. He won his first election by one vote to become the mayor of Braddock, a gritty former steel town, and won two more times after that. In Braddock, Fetterman championed a community-led approach to tackling crime and poverty, both of which blighted the town. He took the job seriously — very seriously. On his right arm he has tattooed the dates of murders that took place in Braddock while he was mayor. He currently has nine dates and is due to add one more. On his left arm he has the town’s zip code. He made an unsuccessful run for the US senate in 2016, before eventually winning election as lieutenant governor in 2018. During that campaign, he was endorsed by Bernie Sanders, who called Fetterman the “candidate of the working people”. After he won, he refused to take up the residence his position afforded him, and chose to live in a converted car dealership.” • I would keep an eye on Fetterman:

Getting a Jesse Ventura vibe, here. I’d like to see him debate, say, Josh Hawley.

Obama Legacy

UPDATE Liberalgasm Jouissance (4):

Guys. Get a room.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The Double Agent” [Commonweal]. “It’s not clear whether McCarrick acted on the FBI’s proposal, but what the rest of the report makes clear is that the FBI, the KGB, and the Vatican all recognized something in McCarrick that made him a natural for either spycraft or the clerical culture of the Catholic hierarchy. Those two worlds could be remarkably similar. Indeed, the report often reads like a George Smiley Soviet-era spy novel (a comparison Villanova theologian Massimo Faggioli often makes). There is a sprawling cast of characters engaged in plots and sub-plots, developing networks of informants, sending secret missives, and delivering envelopes of cash. Gossip is a double-edged sword that can cut your opponents but also be turned against you. There are wheels within wheels, betrayals and secret alliances, and running through it all is McCarrick’s remarkable talent for survival.” • And we wonder why we in the United States so often have trust issues…

“The Silenced Majority” [Harpers]. “Instead of seeking lessons from twentieth-century Germany, we should look back to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries of the Anglo-American complex. That will remind us that most of the phenomena we label fascist—nationalist fictions of ethnic supremacy, mass disenfranchisement, censorship—are fully compatible with free-market capitalism. In the seventeenth century, England was an emerging superpower. Supremacy would come from its invention of a world principle of property. This principle was developed following contact with the Americas, where it became possible to conjure vast new English properties ‘out of nothing’—in a way that was impracticable, for instance, in the militarized, mercantile societies of India. Such properties were created by a legal definition of ownership designed so that it could be applied only to the invaders. ‘As much land as a man tills, plants, improves, cultivates, and can use the product of,’ John Locke wrote in 1689, ‘so much is his property.’ When combined with other new legal categories such as ‘the savage’ and ‘the state of nature,’ this principle of property engendered societies such as Carolina, where Locke’s patron, the first earl of Shaftesbury, was a lord proprietor…. Obviously, such a system could take no account of the general opinion, and the right to vote and hold political office was restricted to men with property. All women and 90 percent of men were therefore excluded. Democratic conspiracy, meanwhile—which always had two interdependent causes: the expansion of suffrage, and the organization of workers—could be punished with exile to the penal colonies.” • This sounds like a very fruitful approach to me. Well worth a read.

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.

Employment Situation: “21 November 2020 Initial Unemployment Claims Rolling Average Worsens” [Econintersect]. “Market expectations for weekly initial unemployment claims (from Econoday) were 700 K to 780 K (consensus 730 K), and the Department of Labor reported 778,000 new claims. The more important (because of the volatility in the weekly reported claims and seasonality errors in adjusting the data) 4 week moving average moved from 743,500 (reported last week as 742,000) to 748,500.”

Durable Goods: “Headline Durable Goods New Orders Improved Again In October 2020” [Econintersect]. “The headlines say the durable goods new orders improved for the sixth consecutive month. Our analysis shows the rolling averages improved. The data this month was within expectations – and, the previous month was revised up. In the adjusted data, the improvement was driven by aircraft and motor vehicles.”

Consumer Sentiment: “Final November 2020 Michigan Consumer Sentiment Significantly Declines Due To Republican Consumers” [Econintersect]. “Surveys of Consumers chief economist, Richard Curtin, makes the following comments: ‘Consumer sentiment was unchanged in late November–a difference of just 0.1 points from mid-month–although there was a significant decline in the Expectations component which was offset by more favorable assessments of current economic conditions. Importantly, the November data were less optimistic than last month due to the resurgence in covid infections and deaths as well as partisan shifts due to the outcome of the presidential election. For the first time since Trump entered office, Democrats rather than Republicans held a more optimistic economic outlook (see the chart). The steep rise in covid infections had a greater impact on Democrats as 59% of Democrats reported that the coronavirus had changed their lives to a great extent compared with just 36% among Republicans. In the months ahead, if infections and deaths rise as anticipated, further declines in optimism are likely. The anticipated declines, however, will be tempered by the approval of several vaccines by the end of the year.'”

Personal Income and Expenditures: “October 2020 Real Expenditures Improved” [Econintersect]. “The data continues to be affected by the pandemic. Expenditures improved year-over-year (but is in contraction year-over-year) whilst income also improved year-over-year (but is in expansion)…. The real issue with personal income and expenditures is that it jumps around because of backward revisions – and one cannot take any single month as fixed or gospel. This should be considered a worse report than last month.”

Housing: “October 2020 Headline New Home Sales Slow But Sales Are Stronger Than Any Year Since 2006” [Econintersect]. “The headlines say new home sales slowed month-over-month. Still, overall sales-to-date in 2020 is now better than any other year since 2006 – and this index has not been affected by the coronavirus. This month the backward revisions were upward. Because of weather and other factors, the rolling averages are the way to view this series. The rolling averages significantly improved. Even with the slowing this month, sales again remained strong this month demonstrating the resilience of the new home market. Growth in 2020 to-date still exceeds every year since 2006.” • I don’t understand how this can be…

GDP: “Second Estimate 3Q2020 GDP Growth Unchanged But Remains Deep In Contraction Year-over-Year” [Econintersect]. “The second estimate of third-quarter 2020 Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was unchanged from the advance estimate’s positive 31.1%…. The coronavirus recovery is the reason for the improvement from the previous quarter – and pushed GDP quarter-over-quarter growth to record levels. I am not a fan of quarter-over-quarter exaggerated method of measuring GDP – but the recovery from the pandemic is not over as the year-over-year GDP growth remains in contraction.”

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Retail: “Twice abandoned for dead, RadioShack may have a new lease on life” [MarketWatch]. “The plan, in short, is to build a vast online marketplace on top of the RadioShack brand. Trust in that name will get consumers to the site, where the quality and variety of merchandise will dictate whether or not shoppers click the “Buy” button, they say.” • I know its just a firm, but I loved RadioShack in all its incarnations. I don’t know how a website duplicates the feeling of going into that crowded space of gear, and knowing that what you want is somewhere, in some drawer. A brand is more than a logo, and a retail experience is more than bits on a screen. I guess we’ll find out!

Tech: “Amazon Web Services suffers amid widespread issues with online applications” [MarketWatch]. “Multiple attempts to contact Amazon for comment have yet to be returned.” • I’ll bet. It’ not fair to call AWS a single point of failure, since there are competitive clouds, but it’s certainly one of not-very-many points of failure.

Manufacturing: “Europe sets in motion January end to Boeing 737 MAX safety ban” [Reuters]. “The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) set out conditions for putting the grounded jets back into service, including new training and updating MCAS software implicated in the crashes that killed a total of 346 people in 2018 and 2019. … How long it takes for flights to resume in Europe depends on pilot training and the amount of time airlines need to upgrade MCAS software and carry out other actions mandated by EASA. U.S. flights are due to resume on Dec. 29, some six weeks after Boeing’s main regulator, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, lifted its own ban on Nov. 18.”

Mr. Market: “Dow set to pull back slightly from 30,000 ahead of Thanksgiving holiday” [MarketWatch]. “U.S. stocks pointed to a mixed open on Wednesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average likely to retreat somewhat from its historic close above a milestone at 30,000 on the day before the Thanksgiving holiday. Markets will be closed on Thursday for Thanksgiving and will shutter early on Friday. Due to the holiday, investors will digest a full slate of U.S. economic reports Wednesday, including weekly jobless benefit claims, a report on new-home sales, and an account of the Federal Reserve’s most recent rate-setting meeting.” • So homeless encampments are a bullish sign. Good to know…

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 91 Extreme Greed (previous close: 88 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 63 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 25 at 12:37pm.

The Biosphere

“Medicinal Plant May Have Evolved Camouflage to Evade Humans” [Smithsonian]. “A highly sought after plant used in traditional Chinese medicine has evolved camouflage to make itself harder for humans to spot and collect… The plant, Fritillaria delavayi, grows on the rocky alpine slopes of China’s Hengduan Mountains, and for more than 2,000 years its dried bulbs have been used to treat heart and lung ailments. Historically, the plant was not hard to find—a bright sprig of green amid a sea of gray scree—but demand for the powder made from its bulbs has made it rarer and more expensive…. But just as many animals have evolved camouflage to better evade predators, human harvesting behaviors have spurred many Fritillaria plants to shift from loud greens to the muted grays and browns of the rocks they grow between… The researchers also found that this effect is especially pronounced in areas where the plants are most heavily pursued by people looking to pluck them.” • Evolution in historical time!

“Indigenous Peoples’ Victory: Largest Dam Removal in the World” [Popular Resistance]. “After nearly two decades, Indigenous Peoples win an agreement for the largest dam removal in the world. Four of the six dams on the Klamath River in California and Oregon will be taken down, allowing the water to flow freely again and the salmon to spawn. This is a powerful story of how four tribes put aside their past conflicts to work together and environmental groups participated in an indigenous-led campaign that took on two of the wealthiest men in the world, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. And this is an example of why, if we want to succeed in restoring our relationship with the earth, Indigenous Peoples must be at the forefront.”

Health Care

The other day I speculated that a fan would be useful at Thanksgiving to keep the air moving, diluting the virus (if present). Someone agrees:

“Oxford/AZ Vaccine Efficacy Data” [Derek Lowe, “In The Pipeline,” Science]. “Overall, I would have to think that Oxford and AZ are disappointed with the results from the two-full-dose regime and will be actively trying to track down the reason for the better performance in the the half/full dosing, which one would expect to be the way the vaccine is eventually used. How many of the other trials that are being run are using that protocol, one wonders? This could still be an effective weapon in the pandemic, but the stories are starting to differentiate. Pfizer (very effective, tough distribution and storage), Moderna (very effective, easier distribution/storage than Pfizer, but perhaps stronger safety reactions), and now Oxford/AZ (widely varying efficacy depending on dosing, easier distribution/storage, safety details TBD). The next vaccine effort to report efficacy will be J&J, another adenovirus vector, and this time with a one-shot dose. The landscape is starting to fill in a bit!” • Lowe is always worth a read; this post also includes a clear explanation of the mRNA “platforms.” And speaking of Oxford/AZ–

“The AstraZeneca Covid Vaccine Data Isn’t Up to Snuff” [Hilda Bastian, Wired]. This is quite the takedown: “The problems start with the fact that Monday’s announcement did not present results from a single, large-scale, Phase 3 clinical trial, as was the case for earlier bulletins about the BNT-Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Instead, Oxford-AstraZeneca’s data came out of two separate studies: one in the UK that began in May, and another in Brazil, which got started at the end of June. These two studies were substantially different from one another: They didn’t have standardized dosing schemes across the trials, for one thing, nor did they provide the same “control” injections to volunteers who were not getting the experimental Covid vaccine. The fact that they may have had to combine data from two trials in order to get a strong enough result raises the first red flag…. Consider that leading vaccine makers—including AstraZeneca—issued a scientific-rigor-and-integrity pledge back in September, in which they promised to submit their products for approval or emergency use authorization only “after demonstrating safety and efficacy through a Phase 3 clinical study that is designed and conducted to meet requirements of expert regulatory authorities such as FDA.” Note the wording here: These companies did not suggest that they might claim to have demonstrated efficacy through multiple, distinct clinical studies, combined together to get enough data. They said they would use a Phase 3 study—as in, one big one.” • Yikes. There’s more, much more.

“Health care is going digital and that could make it ‘almost free,’ says tech investor Tim Draper” [CNBC]. “Draper said artificial intelligence and data will help to create a ‘really good AI doctor’ and design drugs that are unique to the person who is taking it. He pointed to CloudMedx, a health tech company that Draper Associates invested in, which uses medical data to ‘do a better job of diagnosing your disease than the average doctor.’ The firm announced last year that its clinical AI assistant outperformed human doctors on a modified version of the United States Medical Licensing Exam in 2019.” • Classic. VC optimizes AI for a written examination and thinks that’s the same as a medical examination.

Our Famously Free Press

“Meet the Censored: Andre Damon” (interview) [Matt Taibbi, TK]. Damon: “In August 2017, the WSWS sent Google executives an open letter demanding ‘that the anti-democratic changes to the Google search result rankings and its search algorithm since April be reversed.’ In January 2018, we called for the formation of an “international coalition to fight Internet censorship.’ In response to our letters, Google flatly denied it was carrying out political censorship. But this makes its admission this month that it is censoring the WSWS so significant. When Senator Mike Lee asked Google CEO Sundar Pichai, ‘Can you name for me one high profile person or entity from a liberal ideology who you have censored,’ Pichai replied that ‘We have had compliance issues with the World Socialist Review [sic], which is a left-leaning publication.’ This was a confirmation of every claim made by the WSWS in its campaign against internet censorship.” Oh, and naturally: “The actions by Google were the outcome of a campaign, largely bipartisan but led by the Democrats and their affiliated news outlets, to claim that domestic social opposition was the product of interference by foreign countries, particularly Russia.” • The Democrats were viciously McCarthyite when they didn’t control the Presidency, so it will be interesting to see what Biden does…

“Penguin Random House Staff Confront Publisher About New Jordan Peterson Book” [Vice]. “During a tense town hall, staff cried and expressed dismay with the publishing giant’s decision to publish ‘Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life.'” • Dear Lord. If the staff wants to control what’s published, then they should form their own publishing house, ideally a co-op. Meanwhile, I’m sure none of them ever edited a book they found distasteful, say one by a war criminal (Hillary Clinton’s Hard Choices, or Obama’s Promised Land). Weeping staff!

The 420

“In Heavyweight Move for Cannabis, Weedmaps Sponsors Mike Tyson’s Return to the Ring” [AdWeek]. “In one of its most significant marketing moves to date, Weedmaps is sponsoring former heavyweight champ Mike Tyson’s return to the ring on Saturday, breaking ground for the cannabis industry in the high-stakes world of pro-level sports…. For Weedmaps, the partnership means more than putting its logo on the mat. The brand has created an original piece of content, narrated by Nas and celebrating cannabis pioneers, that will air during the event.” • I would have thought most cannabis pioneers are anonymous and still in jail. Perhaps not.


“Head Of Xbox Calls Out Toxic, Console War ‘Tribalism'” [Kotaku]. “Xbox boss Phil Spencer said in a new interview that if there was anything that could make him quit the video game industry altogether, it would be the ongoing toxic fandom around consoles….” • Is this new or different? “Mac vs. PC” was quite a thing, back in the day…

Class Warfare

“DoorDash to pay $2.5 million for allegedly misusing worker tips” [CBS]. “DoorDash will pay $2.5 million to resolve allegations that it misled consumers in the District of Columbia and misused tips intended for workers. A lawsuit filed against DoorDash by Karl Racine, attorney general for the District, last year alleged that between 2017 and 2019 the company let consumers believe their tips were for workers, when in fact DoorDash was using part of that compensation to fund their operations. DoorDash will pay $1.5 million in relief to delivery workers, $750,000 to the District of Columbia and $250,000 to two local charities. The company also will be required to maintain a system that ensures tips go to workers without lowering their base pay, Racine’s office said in a news release.”

“University of the Arts faculty in Philadelphia have voted to unionize” [Inquirer]. “Faculty members at the University of the Arts, who are mostly adjuncts without access to health-care benefits or job security, have voted to unionize with United Academics of Philadelphia (UAP). The vote was 255-2. About 350 instructors were eligible to vote in the election, conducted by mail and administered by the National Labor Relations Board, UAP said. The size of the bargaining unit is still to be determined between the union and the school.”

“The Winner of The Federalist’s NLRB Saga? Public Rights.” [Labor Law Lite]. “Late Monday night, the National Labor Relations Board released a one-page decision holding that publisher Ben Domenech of The Federalist, a far-right web magazine, unlawfully interfered with his employees’ rights under the National Labor Relations Act by tweeting, in response to reported strike activity by employees of another online publication, “first one of you tries to unionize I swear I’ll send you back to the salt mine”. Two Trump appointees contributed to the unanimous ruling.” • Good!

“NewsGuild Staff Shakeup as Questions Linger about Violent Intimidation, Racism & Sexual Misconduct” [Payday Report]. “On Thursday, Payday Report confirmed that NewsGuild President Jon Schleuss dismissed the long-time NewsGuild staff director, Tim Schick, from his role as the administrative director of the NewsGuild… Schleuss’s refusal to speak publicly is part of a troubling pattern, one where he refuses to speak about everything from the cover-up of sexual misconduct within his union to the refusal of his union to join their rival union in calling for the expulsion of police unions from the AFL-CIO… Schleuss even kept silent after NewsGuild officer, Zach Tanner, elbowed and punched me in my ribs on tape while I tried to ask him about a sexual misconduct cover-up in our union at a NewsGuild rally at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette earlier this year on September 25. While Schleuss knew that he was being recorded on camera, he watched as Tanner repeatedly punched and hit me. He did nothing to stop the attack. Later, Tanner and a group of three other men including one wearing a CWA union shirt surrounded me, shoved me into one another, and threatened to beat me up on tape if I attempted to approach Schleuss again to ask him more questions about sexual misconduct. Schleuss simply watched the assault and physical threats as I attempted to do my job as a reporter.” • “Questions linger….”

News of the Wired

The power of the Almighty Signifier:

Very on-brand for 2020 so far:

(The diver does make it back up!)

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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 (ChiGal):

ChiGal writes: “On a recent walk I saw this rather stumpy sylvan spirit with a lovely white lacy cloak drawn about her: a beauty again as in youth. Would that we could all achieve this!” As a sort-of animist, I am quite taken with the idea of spirits that live in trees.

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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. ambrit

      A good prank would be to put out a poster with the superheros as cardboard standees without heads and photoshop the heads of the Biden Creeps onto the cardboard cutouts. Make it look obvious, like one of those old amusement park items where one puts their head through a life sized picture and is photographed pretending to be some fictional character.
      This whole experience is beginning to feel like a Monty Python film; “The Life of Biden.”

      1. foghorn longhorn

        I’ll just drop this here, fascinating story.


        “A century ago, in the years between statehood and the beginning of World War I, 9-year-old Louis “Bud” Abernathy and his 5-year-old brother, Temple, hankered for adventure.

        Their dreams were not unusual. What was out of the ordinary was that their father said yes.

        After the boys asked to ride their horses by themselves from Oklahoma to Santa Fe to see the new mansion of the governor, Jack Abernathy seriously considered their request. Their mother had died, and they were growing up fast. With every confidence in their horsemanship, he laid down some guidelines, opened a checking account for each with $100 apiece and encouraged them to saddle up.”…

  1. NotTimothyGeithner

    “‘People are pissed’:

    “But her emails” has been suppressed, but in the Podesta email dump, Podesta asked if they could get staff to stop letting Hillary promise the VP to everyone.

    I wonder what has been promised. I saw old Mayor Pete was plugging the book of Joe Scarborough which I thought was odd given Joe’s Congressional career. It looks like Pete’s looking for a side gig at the Comcast PR department now.

      1. Louis Fyne

        Comcast doesn’t need it. The American public just doesn’t care beyond some grumbling, and would rather argue about Orange Man or the Kardashians. Not data caps or $/TB of US internet or media oligarchies.

        To wit, the public, even “the liberals,” stands aside and lets Comcast buy NBC-Universal, giving it a firm hold on both content creation and content distribution and news reporting.

        Same with AT&T and Warner. And to a lesser extent Verizon.

        Media anti-trust is unsexy. Allowing Big Media to wield so much power and help create the current toxic political environment.

      2. edmondo

        LOL. Comcast was Biden;\’s largest contributor. He announced his campaign at the residence of Brian Roberts, the Chairman and CEO of Comcast. They must be shaking in their boots there at Comcast.

    1. doug

      The ones here sounded like they might be running in front of heavy equipment or something…
      I hope they made it..

  2. Wukchumni

    Flyover wins in a romp with new confirmed Covid cases, approximating a Loch Ness Monster on the chart.

  3. DJG

    Re: Antidote, the tree stump as the source and sustenance of the mushrooms.

    Indeed, spirits live in trees. The oracle at Dodona in Greece was a large oak tree (oaks being the most prophetic of trees) that gave prophesies as whispers and sounds of its leaves.

    Lithuanians still believe that after a person dies, the soul goes to live in a tree. (Probably with some bees, the Lithuanians’ favorite insect.)

    1. Janie

      Old traditions in British Isles – Druids; Celtic France – Asterix. There’s a traditional Welsh tune, The Ash Grove, with sad lyrics of a dead love. Old friends come to greet me, the ash grove again is my home, sings the dead soul.

      1. Janie

        Adding, in the movie Testament to Youth (WWI memoir of the same name), early on two 18 year old boys are excited about a new piano in the home. One says, what should we play? The other exclaims, Ash Grove, and they begin a chirpy, chopstix style duet. Then dinner is announced. Highly recommend the movie.

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      there’s a very large, very old post oak tree right in the middle of my part of the place.
      i’ve sat beneath it, in varying states of undress and modified consciousness, for 25 years, now.
      one summer afternoon, i’m out there, contemplating all the activity up in the canopy—wasps and squirrels and snakes and lizards and such—and…feeling slightly more ‘animist’ than usual baseline…i wondered in my mind if “she”(she has always felt female, to me) had a name.
      …and idly ran through several words in a nonspecific manner….
      one was Laniakea (as i had read earlier about the superduper galactic supercluster of that name we reside in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laniakea_Supercluster)…and the wind blew for the first time that day…the tree shuddered…and i almost heard the whisper within the rustling:” oooh…i like that….”…as well as the feeling that went with it…
      so it is, and shall be, henceforward.

      so far, none of the other sylvan exemplars on this place have spoken thus….although an even older, gnarlier post oak i know is full of bees, which is it’s own sort of language…perhaps because i don’t spend enough time with them.
      This one is right at the center of all our usual doins.

        1. Wukchumni

          I’ve been dating an older woman for some years now, and I always have to go to her place and it has never gotten past the heavy petting stage, not to mention the awkwardness that comes with a 1,461 year difference between us.

      1. DJG

        Amfortas: Indeed, oaks have big personalities. There is a burr oak the grows on the “parkway” (the narrow lawns in front of buildings in Chicago) in front of my apartment building. It holds numen, or numen holds the tree. Immanence–or as numen means, “that which is nodding,” showing its presence.

        I make sure to greet the tree each day as I go on my daily walks. The tree, being on a different scale of space and time, usually signals back: Don’t get caught in the little messes of the day like some fly in the web of an orb spider.

      2. The Rev Kev

        We have a large racehorse tree in the front and back yards and now they have their foliage growing again. They once more have their yellow flowers out and you can just watch their petals fall like a gentle rain. On some days, the sound of bees among the flowers of that tree are heavy. In the heat of summer that form a pool of cool shade. learning to love those trees.

        1. jr

          When I lived in NE Pennsylvania years ago our house was bordered on the west by a line of some sort of pine tree, maybe 40 feet plus. There was one whose branches stuck out like an ascending circle of bicycle spokes; the thing was made for climbing. About 2/3rds of the way up was a thick, flattened branch to sit on and above it a split branch you could lean into and rest your arms on. It was an arboreal armchair. I would sit and watch the sun setting through the needles, a soft wind blowing the scent of pine into the air.

      3. wol

        When I’m discouraged I get better reading poetry. Franz Wright is usually helpful for me (though he was a Christian and I am not). I’ve been returning to this one lately, the formatting is changed from the original:


        The world’s wordless beauty’s
        intact and can never be other than
        intact no matter what
        harm we perpetually do
        and have done
        and will I can assure everyone
        as they say

        World’s wordless beauty and the word’s
        wordless liberty

        The champagne shopping binge
        is over
        The check is about to arrive
        and nobody knows how much it will be
        I know I don’t give a shit not now

        The world’s
        beauty intact, indeed

        it can never be other

        radiantly intact
        like the stars, like the stars

        when the stars have no name once again.

  4. Wukchumni

    Real estate bubble:

    Just looked up the Zillow value on the first home in Los Angeles I grew up in, a 1,200 sq ft domicile that my parents bought for $12k in 1960, which is now ‘worth’ $700k.

    To put in a similar performance by 2080, it would be worth upwards of $40 million!

      1. Wukchumni

        Who in the middle of a worldwide pandemic that promises all sorts of bad ju ju says, yeah I want to do 30 to life in the big house?

        1. edmondo

          When a 30 year mortgage is 2.75%, it would be foolhardy to wait for them to go down. I believe a 3 year CD currently pays out 0.1% so why not push the Dow to 30,000 and the rate of return on real estate looks like a goldmine comparede to a money market fund.

          Thank the Fed.

          1. Glen

            Just remember, if you are cold called by PE to see if you are interested in selling your house (and I am since I’ve never bothered to disconnect the land line phone number I’ve had for over 30 years), tell them you want at least a BILLION BUCKS. (And when they dare complain tell them to go {family blog} themselves.)

            That’s as close as we’re going to get to that free Fed money.

  5. Toshiro_Mifune

    RadioShack may have a new lease on life
    IDK. I realize a lot of people love the old RadioShack but for most of my life RadioShack was a place for knock-off/cheaply made and usually over priced electronics. Honestly, since the early 90s it was a place of last resort in terms of shopping.

    1. Keith

      A lot of what they sold was garbage in that regards, but they did have some good merch. I think their real value was stocking all the misc parts for radios and electronics, sort of like the Home Depot for geeks. If they can capture that magic, and the world stays in lock down, perhaps they will get a new lease on life, as people fiddle and do for themselves more and more.

    2. Louis Fyne

      no one should be holding their breath for RadioShack.

      Expect all the stuff you can buy from Alibaba and PRC-based ebayers, just in brick-mortar form.

    3. stefan

      When I was in Army intelligence in Tokyo during the early 70s, we used to go to Akihabara to get parts to build our gadgets. Would often run into Soviet agents doing the same thing. It was an endless bazaar of tiny stalls under the National Railway line. Stalls were remarkably specialized. Parts department for the world of transistor radio (all things electrical, really). Last year when I visited, it wasn’t quite the same, though there is still plenty there.

      NYC had its Radio Row razed in the 1960s to make way for the World Trade Center.

      Nowadays I’m sure, China has one five times as big in Shenzhen, the shanzhai (山寨) “mountain stronghold” of technology innovation, though I’ve never been there.

      1. Mel

        Probably. dangerousprototypes.com used to hang out there, though they haven’t blogged about it since late 2018. They’re still active with projects and app notes.

    4. Dr. John Carpenter

      I have very fond memories of getting the annual catalogs, the battery club card, the middle aged nerds working there who could actually help you with DIY electronics, etc. They had reasons for you to actually step foot in the store and that was what made them successful. When they became Cellphone Shack (motto: “You’ve got questions, we’ve got dumb looks”) they blew it. There was no longer a reason to go there versus anywhere else. They can’t replicate that in store experience on line and I can’t imagine this relaunch going any better than the last few times someone tried.

      1. rowlf

        Radio Shack had some very good electronics publications. Between college course books, military training manuals and the hobby books you could find most of the puzzle pieces if you were trying to build something electronic. I had a basement electronics lab and did small scale production and Radio Shack was a great resource for odds and ends.

        (Though I still like the big electronic component distributors, as I had a few tell me instead of submitting my small order to ask for samples instead, which they sent. I love working with folks instead of against them.)

    5. jr

      I always found Radio Shack weird. My youthful technical skills maxed out at changing batteries and the toys there always seemed like rip-offs of cooler stuff. I do remember them once asking me for my personal information after buying something to which I responded “Why?” The woman chirpily replied “To provide better service!” I sniggered and walked out.

      Nowadays I barely think twice before pumping out my info into the ether….

    1. Intergalactic Joe

      True, but nowadays it’s not just tribalism- the structure of the industry encourages polarization. Things have become more divisive since online gaming became common, since the fact that X-Box users and Playstation users cannot connect to players who own the other console puts pressure on friend-groups to converge on a single platform in order to play each other. The Console Wars will stay bitter as long as the companies are selling non-interoperable infrastructure to the same group of people. Nintendo only stays out of it by targeting a different segment of gamers.

  6. ambrit

    A thought on the new home sales uptick; we have seen a slow but steady destruction of older housing stock. Rather than renovate and repurpose these units, they are torn down. In a time of increasing homelessness, housing stocks are being destroyed.
    A second variable would be the location of all these new dwellings. Is this a function of the new “work from home” PMC suburban flight? If you can afford to get out of a ‘scarier’ inner ring suburb and move to the “New and Improved” exurbs, why not? All the ‘better’ sort are. We do want to be counted in with ‘those who count,’ don’t we?

    1. Wukchumni

      AirBnB caused quite a run on any old home here south of $300k that required minimal fixing in order to be worthy of renting out, but the domiciles that needed a lot of work just sat, although that was before Covid and this is now, and people of wealth in the Big Smokes can see how useless a metropolis of size is, and are hedging bets by buying those beaters that have been on the market so long, some of the listings are seemingly older than the actual dwellings themselves.

  7. cocomaan

    I really liked the Bob Wachter recommendations of taking 10% more caution. I think that’s a responsible public health approach.

    My wife was doing some medical ethics work and said to me that one of the evaluations of a medical intervention, especially a voluntary one, is the rate of adoption and trust.

    If your medical intervention is “never see granny again”, you’re going to have poor compliance. People will not understand how to actually adjust their lives for the disease. So Wachter’s intervention makes much, much more sense.

      1. Geo

        I’ve tried when talking with friends/family who are excited to have “adults in the room”. They seemed to enjoy themselves though, even if I was just going through the motions. Not sure if my faked liberalgasms have been convincing though.

        1. Wukchumni

          I still get a little choked up when I think of what Beau would’ve thought about everything, but as we’ve been reminded 4,572 times now since his passing, it wasn’t meant to be.

  8. flora

    re: “‘People are pissed’: Tensions rise amid scramble for Biden jobs” [Politico]

    If anyone wonders why the US Civil Service was started in the 1880’s, it was to stop this sort of candidate’s campaigners’ importuning for jobs if their candidate won. Filling govt jobs with cronies, often unqualified for the work, had terrible political consequences not just for the country, but also for the politicians themselves who found themselves endless harrassed for jobs as a ‘debt owed’ to their supporters. The Pendleton Act was passed after the assa**ination of Pres. Garfield by a disappointed and mad/delusional office seeker, Charles Guiteau.

  9. BoyDownTheLane

    Just checking in to wish everyone whatever it is they want in delectable victuals tomorrow, to see if y’all had gotten the news yet (doesn’t look that way) and to suggest that tomorrow you forego the alcohol and the KOOL-AID and stick with espresso black. I suggest at least two cups, and one to go.

    [Oh, BTW, didja see that story about the Apple security dude bribing cops for the paperwork to carry concealed weapons? I suspect that the next time my aging Mac gets a security download, it will come with a printable CCW permit and a coupon I can use up at Sig Sauer.]

    1. JBird4049

      I haven’t heard the latest on the Apple story, but the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department has been rumored for years that “donations” for the Sheriff’s re-election fund expedites the paperwork. It tends to wind up in the garbage otherwise. IIRC, the San Jose Mercury News did some stories on it a few years back. There are supposedly 2-3 other Bay Area Counties doing the same like Contra Costa. I am as cynical as the next voter, but I thought this was unlikely, but having the Merc come out with the story gives credence to the idea that several other counties are involved with selling CCWs. In many parts of the state it is impossible to get CCW (Concealed Carry Weapon Permit even with good cause, like an ex stalking you or if you transport diamonds or cash). You need to pass a background check to buy ammunition even for your register weapon, but if you can grease the right palm, you’re good for a CCW.

      So, guns are incarnated evil unless you’re rich. Rules for thee and not for me.

  10. dcblogger

    I have to say that Biden is worse than I thought he would be. I assumed that his response to covid and the related economic collapse would be inadequate, but I never supposed it would be non-existent. From what is coming out of the transition it sounds like that they are all oblivious to the coming economic catastrophe.

    I blame the celebrity press corps. For decades they have been teaching us that we can’t have nice things and that America exists to prosecute endless war and too many believe them.

    1. Geo

      I’m sure they have a very thorough and detailed plan on how to impose austerity, cut social safety nets, and promote “Shared Sacrifice” (as they used to say in the Obama years). Of course, the sacrifice will be the poor and working class and the shares will continue to rise for the investor class.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      Biden is exactly as bad as I thought he would be. I did take a look at his record over the last 40 years and decided voting for him and ‘holding feet to the fire’ after the fact would be a rather pointless exercise and cast my ballot otherwise.

      As far as racist, warmongering, neoliberal, faux populist presidents go, at least Trump had a sense of humor. And lucky for us, the celebrity press corps won’t let us miss him. We may still have a couple yuks while the country continues to circle the bowl.

  11. Howard Beale IV

    “Health care is going digital and that could make it ‘almost free,’ says tech investor Tim Draper”

    Hell, it wasn’t all that long ago that IBM’s Watson, having done it’s marketing glory with their Jeopardy challenge, was going to be the platform to beat cancer.

    1. Geo

      “Greetings Howard. I’m Dr. Placebo, your virtual AI doctor. Welcome to your free exam! Can you tell me what ailments you’re feeling today so I can sell your health data to marketers, employers, and pharma? Upon completion of this exam you will offered a variety of diagnosis and treatment packages ranging from the “basic plan” which gives you a general assessment and coupon for aspirin, to the “premium package” which gives you a detailed assessment and complimentary prescription to our sponsor’s drug of choice. Shall we begin?”

      1. JBird4049

        I’m a bad person for somehow mixing up the Vampire Peter “we only want to serve mankind” Thiel with Charlton Heston “It’s made from people!” moment in Soylent Green when thinking of the latest COVID treatments here or yet to come?

  12. Wukchumni

    For Weedmaps, the partnership means more than putting its logo on the mat. The brand has created an original piece of content, narrated by Nas and celebrating cannabis pioneers, that will air during the event.
    It’s illegal to smoke 420 in the National Parks as they are Federal-not state so i’d never contemplate doing it there, but probably the ideal place to toke away is a stoners’ whet dream of a place called Potwisha campground, and specifically behind camping site # 14 which leads to the Marble Falls trail, with a spectacular waterfall especially around April-May when the spring runoff is in full swing.


  13. zagonostra

    – MaCarrick – Commonweal

    The new report, commissioned by the Vatican’s secretary of state, is careful to avoid the kind of sweeping characterizations that could foster simplistic interpretations…

    Complexification, don’t know if that’s a word, but it sure could be a strategy. Vigano framed the issue very simplistically, when he spoke of forces of darkness and of light. The article in a sense is a deprecation of Vigano’s narrative about MaCarrick and all the cast of characters implicated.

    The Report was very long and tedious I don’t know many Catholics who read it or will read it, including myself. So, thanks for posting this article, it will require a second reading for me to make sense of what the underlying takeaway is.

  14. Phillip Allen

    Regarding the phenomenon of Fritillaria delavayi seemingly evolving in real time, I think it’s more likely a natural experiment in selection. The quote mentions that the plant was previously recognized by it’s bright green foliage. Chances are very good that there is (or maybe was) a range of variation in the species, some fraction of every generation being of the camouflaged, grey/brown foliaged type. Given the prediliction for picking bright green-leaved plants, it seems reasonable that over time, more and more of the camouflaged variety came to predominate.

    A quick look at the Flora of China lists F. delavayi as F. delavayi var. banmaensis, and it seems to be the sole variety in China. I can’t put my hands on my bulb references right now, and can’t confirm there are any other F. delavayi (type or varieties) elsewhere.

  15. Wukchumni

    Dow Jonestown is right around the altitude of Mt Everest, and most climbing accidents tend to happen when profits fade into thin air on the descent.

  16. Jason Boxman

    ‘America is not going to lose this war,’ Biden says as he urges the country to persevere against the virus.

    Why not? We lost Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan. And the elites didn’t care to even recognize, let alone fight, deaths of despair, foreclosures, Wall Street fraud.

    And so far the elite aren’t much interested in fighting the virus, and now having failed so completely, what legitimacy does technocratic government have left with which to deal with what is a public health challenge, not a war? Public health first and foremost needs public participation.

    But I doubt much anyone expected this to end well anyway, outside those in love with Biden.

  17. The Rev Kev

    In the Graham Clark twitter feed there was one person saying something interesting, namely-


    The fact that our elites are trying to cancel Thanksgiving and not Black Friday is everything you need to know.

    Devastating if true.

  18. rowlf

    I have always found James Oglethope’s founding of the colony of Georgia interesting. Probably an early pinko commie.

    Oglethorpe was uncomfortable with the prospect of Georgians attaining immense wealth and coalescing into a planter aristocracy


    1. Louis Fyne

      the urban plan for Savannah (ie, everyone gets to live near public green space) was very egalitarian and ahead of its time

  19. Mikel

    Just went for a walk:
    The neighbors across the street have a big party van delivery unloading and the big liquor store on the corner has people circling the parking lot looking for a space.

    Buckle up!

    1. petal

      I live in grad student/staff housing at our local academic institution. The apt complex has completely emptied out the last few days-it’s at ghost town level tonight.

      1. ambrit

        I spoke to Mom today and she said that both of little sister’s children are being sent home, (rusticated?) from University for an extended Holiday Season. She lives with Little Sister’s family. (H—. Mom bankrolled building the house.)
        Since it was her 86th birthday Monday, I suggested that she demand that the kiddies stay outside on the front yard in a tent for the next two weeks, as a quarantine precaution. [As regular readers will know, I tend to “stir the pot” from time to time.] Mom replied that my sister, being a practical sort, would just staple a sheet of clear plastic, slit down the middle, inside and outside of Mom’s bedroom door. “Instant airlock,” is how Mom described it. {A demonstration that I didn’t get all of my sci-fi memes from Dad the Engineer.}
        If you can ‘hack’ the “empty space station” effect, count your lucky stars at having an entire dorm block to yourself!
        For an appropriate mood, try watching the 1979 Robert Altman film “Quintet.” Winter never looked so, wintry.
        See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quintet_(film)
        Stay safe and keep warm!

        1. petal

          Good suggestion for them to camp out for a couple weeks. Reckon it’s fair. Our undergrads have been sent home as well-I believe they are finishing the term remotely so then there aren’t any issues with them all coming back after Thanksgiving and bringing plague. Scuttlebutt is if things continue to worsen, they’ll not bring undergrads back for Spring term. I worry about these grad students in the apt complex bringing it back in the very near future. They are from all over.

          Thank you for the stay safe and keep warm-we had a little coating of snow this morning and I hit some black ice(where the snow had been compressed, melted, and re-froze) and spun out, narrowly missing an oncoming car, a parked car, and a tree. I hate November here. I’ll save “Quintet” for warmer, sunnier times-might put me over the edge right now as it’s been quite bleak weather-wise! As for covid, they are testing on-campus workers about once a week. It’s always a little nerve-wracking when you are waiting for the result page to load. We joke that if someone tested positive, they’d know it because there’d likely be a swat team at the door.

          Please give my best to Phyl, and I hope you guys have a nice Thanksgiving. Y’all be safe, too.

            1. petal

              Thank you so much, jr. It was pretty scary. Was the first time it’s happened to me. Snow tires didn’t matter.

        1. petal

          The undergrads, yes. The grad students can come and go as long as they follow the guidelines/rules as it’s off-campus housing rentals.

  20. The Rev Kev

    “‘People are pissed’: Tensions rise amid scramble for Biden jobs”

    You think that these Biden people could make common cause with the progressive people to get some sort of leverage back? Or is the hatred too thick? Biden may be making a mistake here. Even George Bush knew that you had to dance with the people that brung ya and he was not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

    1. flora

      It’s possible Joe is cognitively past being any sort of knife in the drawer. Press conferences will be interesting.

      1. TsWkr

        I bet he only does one every few months or so, may be surrounded by his group of die hards, he won’t let himself get exposed.

    2. Louis Fyne

      Team Biden learned from Clinton and Obama…throw liberals/whatever they call themselves, they’ll whine and then fall in line like an abused spouse

      what are liberals going to do, vote Trump?

      Liberals have ZERO leverage….irony of being so anti-Trump

      1. ambrit

        Not really snark, but close: How about the People’s Liberation Front of Dixie?
        The worse ‘things’ become, the more possible such political evolutions become.

  21. Glen

    The return of DEATH PANELS:

    So everybody remembers Sarah Palin blathering on about death panels when they were combating the passing of Obama Care. Well now, courtesy of the private healthcare insurance industry, and CV-19 we have DEATH WARDS which is where overcrowd hospitals are placing CV patients to provide care while they die.

    Strangely, I cannot find a link to any articles reporting on this even though I have heard it mentioned in recent articles and reporting. I suppose it’s not something anybody would care to headline in the MSM. But, I would like to know more about the criteria used to select people for this type of treatment. Is it their medical condition? Under staffing? Is it lack of insurance? (Honestly, I KNOW doctors and nurses would NEVER do this, but the PMC that manages them? They would do it in a heart beat.)

    1. Clem

      This it?

      Covid ‘Long Haulers’ Ask Who Pays When Sickness Just Won’t End
      “Group health plans and insurance companies are supposed to cover diagnostic testing for Covid-19 under federal laws passed in response to the pandemic. Plans shouldn’t charge deductibles, co-payments or coinsurance for office, telehealth, urgent care or emergency-room visits where a Covid-19 test is given or ordered.

      But no federal law requires insurers to pay for coronavirus treatment.”


      1. Glen

        Yes, that’s what I’ve heard except it was for hospitals in Nebraska. And I’m not surprised there are more.

        So what is the criteria used to put a patient in one of these wards?

  22. anon in so cal


    The Los Angeles County Department of Health is calculating that 1 in every 145 people in the county could have Covid. If that conservative multiplier of 10 still holds, that means 1 in every 15 is positive, no?

    >Joe Biden today on the coronavirus pandemic:

    “The federal government can’t do this alone, each of us has a responsibility….”

    Does that suggest (as is obvious) that he has no plan?

    In my solidly blue neighborhood, many residents walk around mask-less and my street is very narrow…
    Some of the aerodynamics specialists such as Donald Milton and Lindsay Marr lead me to believe 6 feet doesn’t get it done.

    Today’s numbers for Los Angeles County: 49 New Deaths and 4,311 New Confirmed Cases of COVID-19 in Los Angeles County – “Key Indicators Show COVID-19 Pandemic Worsening in L.A. County.”

    18,350 new Covid cases for the state of California in the last 24 hours….

    1. Mikel

      My report above about the party van unloading across the street and the liquor store parking lot overflowing …LA.

  23. Daryl

    > It’ not fair to call AWS a single point of failure, since there are competitive clouds

    One of the problems here is, even if a product is itself insulated against an AWS outage (by not using AWS, using multiple clouds with failover, self-hosting etc), if dependencies are, not much you can do. Redundancy is hard but the homogenization and domination of the tech stack has made it almost impossible to ensure that outages of these giant cloud providers won’t harm something.

  24. rowlf

    Oh Rev…

    I think you may like this. A presentation of events at a nuclear weapons decommissioning site with fair analysis. I like the research but the host could lay off the caffeine a touch.

    I lived on several US Air Force Bases within 1 mile or less of nuclear weapons for fifteen years. We anticipated being hit in a first exchange. I went to several Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners at Alert Facilities.

    Medina Modification Center Explosion, November 13, 1963

    Channel search/nuclear — check out the BOMARC accident

  25. flora

    The Payday report story about harassment of the reporter trying to do his job was pretty horrible. One thing caught my attention: the reporter was subjected to email threats sent from an account falsely setup and listed as his own account, which could make it look like he was sending threats to himself for whatever reason.

    So, a tech bit here about email data that many of you already know:

    If you receive threatening emails that look serious, save/keep them in your email program on your personal email account/client that received the threatening email. If you want to trace who actually sent them, or from what machine or timezone and how many hops the email went through, that information is included in what’s called the ‘full header’ of the email.( Email software is generally default set to only display the ‘normal header’ of From, To, and Subject lines.)

    To see the full header of an email if you use Outlook, for example, you can opening an email, click on the 3 little . . . within the top of the email in its action panel, select View, then select “Show message details.”
    A window with a full trace, including sending ip# , hops, and originating mac address will appear. This can be very useful in tracing abusive emails. Digital forensics experts can do this using the info in the full header. (yes, ips and mac addresses can be spoofed, but it’s hard to spoof hops.) Forwarding an abusive email to a lawyer, for example, is insufficient for analysis because that will replace the original sender’s full header with your full header since you are forwarding an email. So keep any dodgy emails as received on your own email for forensic analysis and possible further action.

    More than you ever wanted to know. ;)

  26. Jeff W

    “It Wasn’t Ideology That Sank House Democrats. It Was Bad Strategy.” [Politico]. This is brutal, worth reading in full.

    It is brutal and it rightly smacks the DNC and DCCC around for their disproportionate influence and lousy guidance in local campaigns, the latter detailed in abundance in the article, but it gives the impression—no, it says it outright—that ideology didn’t sink House Democrats. It washes the policy out of politics.

    Meanwhile, today there’s political scientist Tom Ferguson, in an interview about why people voted for Donald Trump with Paul Jay on theAnalysis.news, saying

    And so bluntly, a large chunk of the population gets the idea that Democratic elites don’t like them very much and that their policies don’t do much for them.

    [emphasis added]

    That’s something that Miti Sathe, the executive director of Square One and former Associate Director for the Obama White House, and one of the co-authors of the Politico article, isn’t likely to mention.

    1. Brunches with Cats

      More brutal than past articles of this genre but still not brutal enough on two points:

      1) The blame game being played by the progressive left and the liberals/centrists, as well as the reporting on it, misses the point. It doesn’t matter who did or didn’t say/do what; the GOP was going to position their attack ads that way regardless, because they know their target audience. The ads in my district included outright lies and distorted half-truths, but they worked, because they reinforced the prevailing rightwing/civil libertarian ideology.

      2) I have yet to read an analysis that blames the toxic effect of Pelosi herself. I live in NY-22, where the House race is still too close to call. I’m not sure who is loathed more here, Pelosi or Cuomo. The attack ads in my district were Pelosi, Pelosi, Pelosi. Socialist: “voted with Pelosi more times than AOC.” Defund the police: “voted for Pelosi’s bill to defund the police.” Said he wasn’t going to vote for Pelosi for speaker, “he lied.” “Pelosi’s lapdog” ads started as soon as impeachment was on the table. The Dem media won’t call her out.

      Rs outnumber Ds nearly 2:1 here, but the GOP challenger is leading by only 100-300 votes. The contest is now in court for a judge has to decide on the validity of individual ballots. Counties were suppose to certify results by the 28th [Note to Rev Kev: You were right about the deadline], but the judge overrode the deadline due to a host of discrepancies that county election boards haven’t been able to reconcile. I sent a few links to mods, but I guess our lost-in-the-wilderness district — so forgotten it doesn’t even merit “flyover” status — doesn’t meet the threshold of general interest.

      Anyway … Jeff, I haven’t listened to the Ferguson interview yet, but the quote you lifted is absolutely right. I was talking to a neighbor today and that very subject came up. (He walked by while I was out working in the garden in the rain, and it was perfectly normal to stand there talking politics with cold rain dripping off my nose. No brunch for the weary.)

  27. Brunches with Cats

    I would keep an eye on Fetterman

    Krystal and Sagaar did an interview with him before PA was called. I was thinking, “Wow, who is this guy?” Struck me as a better working class look than “Scranton Joe.”

  28. rowlf

    Jeff W

    In case my original comment got et up.

    Having been a labor union member and organizer I decided to escape the Democratic plantation. I like your emphasized quote.

    Neidermeyer: Ken, Lonny, l’d like you to meet Mohammet, Jugdish, Sidney and Clayton. Grab a seat and make yourselves at home. Don’t be shy about helping yourselves to punch and cookies. Animal House (1978)

  29. vlade

    “spurred many Fritillaria plants”. Grr. I always hate phrasing like this, as it gives the agency to the organism, as if the organism somehow (in its lifetime) actively decided to change its colour or whatever.

    It’s “evolution by natural selection“. If peple pick the plant, is there any wonder that the plants they don’t pick (i.e. are harder to find) will become more prevalent?

    They haven’t “evolved”. They were selected.

  30. skippy

    HOLY ……

    The Supreme Court signaled a major shift in its approach to coronavirus-related restrictions late Wednesday, voting 5-4 to bar New York state from reimposing limits on religious gatherings.

    The emergency rulings, issued just before midnight, were the first significant indication of a rightward shift in the court since President Donald Trump’s newest appointee — Justice Amy Coney Barrett — last month filled the seat occupied by liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died in September. – snip


      1. skippy

        Imagine what will come of self inflicted pariah status to others …

        PS the legal argument alone bends the mind considering factors like intent to infect others through being cavalier E.g. belief before science … ugh …

        1. ambrit

          Well, the “True Believer Religious” will consider ‘pariah status’ as a visible sign of G–s Grace.
          Nothing says “Gott Mit Uns” like a little Martyrdom.
          I used to describe the Theocratic elements of a certain Middle Eastern state’s government, (indeed, several such states,) as being like if the Protestant Evangelicals ran America. Hah! I spoke too soon. We might very soon find out first hand how that plays out.
          The Founders of America mandated the separation of Church and State for very good reasons.

          1. vlade

            “The Founders of America mandated the separation of Church and State for very good reasons”

            Something that the next 250 years tried very hard to revert, and I suspect coming pretty close right now..

            1. ambrit

              True that.
              The particular religious doctrines may stray all over the place, but the underlying psychology of “True Believers” is the same for one and all.
              Alas that ‘tolerance’ is not the default state of human character.
              Be safe!

          2. WobblyTelomeres

            Find out soon??? For my entire life, the great state of Alabama has been run by bible-waving pomade weasels. On my happier days, I can be amused by their ability to imagine and subsequently inhabit a world in which they are not grubby corrupt mediocrities.

          3. flora

            Nothing in the article about Prot churches requesting relief. It was the 2 other biggies, according to the article.

            1. Louis Fyne

              probably (a) they don’t have the deep pockets/collective action problem (see Mancur Olson), and (b) many mainline protestants and even some evangelical congregations have gotten woke over the past decade.

              This ain’t your 1999 megachurch

          4. skippy

            Wellie that’s my concern, its the feedback loops with a side of self fulfilling prophecy during what looks like an extended period of calamity due to covid.

            Its not like things were getting frisky with lines in the sand and irretrievable stakes in the ground between some groups, seeing who could become more fundamentalist – as if the fervor of belief alone vindicates a position and the more its challenged the more extreme they get.

            Getting sorta late timeline in the Akira movie where every one and group starts to vibrate at a higher frequency.

            Anywho … in alternative reality I’m off to another Qld’er after about 5 weeks basically on my own, great clients, retired nurses, great convos, same level as around here, sharing information and experiences, all are gobsmacked ….

    1. Louis Fyne

      Cuomo could’ve easily averted this challenge by, as example, limiting indoor capacity-occupancy to all public buildings (stores, churches, etc.) to X people per 100 sq feet of space for no longer than yy minutes.

      (imo) Cuomo was clearly in the wrong on this one cuz the religious places had a separate set of rules imposed on them.

      Can’t tell if he (or most likely his staff) was just sloppy with the legalese, or have a beef against religion.

      PS, I am as religious as a bag of rocks so I got no dog in this fight—other than laws/lockdowns should be uniform, applied equally—-and any exceptions need to have a reasonable reason

      Happy Thanksgiving to all

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