2:00PM Water Cooler 12/1/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Two days into the week and I’ve got to do a pantry clear-out on Politics! –lambert UPDATE All done!

Bird Song of the Day

Nightingale duet (the Macaulay Library’s classification system is really obsessive and excellent).


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:

Thanksgiving data.

The Midwest in detail (with New York, California, and Texas for comparison):

Note that the fall in the Midwest began around 11 days ago. That’s a little early for Thanksgiving travel. So, some of the drop is real. But Thanksgiving data is an issue, too.

Test positivity by region:

Nowhere near 3%, though.

Hospitalization by region:

Hospitalization bounces right back up. We should also take into account that hospitalization is also discretionary; they may also be reducing their admissions rate — relative to cases we cannot see in this data! — to preserve future capacity. See this thread:

Case fatality rate by region:

Deaths (purple line) dropping starting on Thanksgiving Day sure looks like a reporting issue to me.


“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

No contradictions here:

Transition to Biden

“With Tanden Choice, Democrats Stick it to Sanders Voters” [Matt Taibbi, TK News]. “Tanden is famous for two things: having a puddle of DNC talking points in place of a cerebrum, and despising Bernie Sanders. She was #Resistance’s most visible anti-Sanders foil, spending awe-inspiring amounts of time on Twitter bludgeoning Sanders and his supporters as a deviant mob of Russian tools and covert ‘horseshoe theory’ Trump-lovers. She has, to put it gently, an ardent social media following. Every prominent media figure with even a vague connection to Sanders learned in recent years to expect mud-drenched pushback from waves of ‘Neera trolls; after any public comment crossing DNC narratives. No name in blue politics is more associated with seething opposition to Sanders than Tanden. Biden is making this person Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Sanders is the ranking member (and, perhaps, future chair) of the Senate Budget Committee. Every time Bernie even thinks about doing Committee business, he’ll be looking up at Neera Tanden. For a party whose normal idea of humor is ten thousand consecutive jokes about Trump being gay with Putin, that’s quite a creative ‘f*ck you.'” • Something to this, although it is “very online.” That said, Tracey is on to something too:

I’m not privy to the machinations that produced “#Resistance,” so I don’t know if Neera drove the process. She was, however, very, very early — which is how I knew it was a scam — and used her clout to propagate the hash tag, and set her enforcers on people she considered oppositional or deviant. I also don’t know who masterminded its hideous mating with RussiaGate. But Neera was successful — which is why Trump has copied her strategy.

Then again, Stoller’s theory (from yesterday) has support, too:

Of course, the Biden team could be both devious and stupid. Bush’s “Mayberry Machiavellis” were, after all.

More dunking on Neera, in no particular order: Here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. And fortunately there’s the Wayback Machine:

And lots and lots of people who took screenshots just before she blocked them.


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.

Debt: “3Q2020 Household Debt Shows Consumer Debt Back on the Rise after Second Quarter Dip” [Econintersect]. “The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Center for Microeconomic Data today issued its Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit, which shows that total household debt increased by $87 billion (0.6%) to $14.35 trillion in the third quarter of 2020. The increase more than offset the decline seen in the second quarter of 2020 as total household debt has surpassed its 2020Q1 reading.”

Housing: “October 2020 CoreLogic Home Prices: Home Price Appreciation The Fastest Annual Acceleration Since April 2014” [Econintersect]. “CoreLogic’s Home Price Index (HPI) home prices for October 2020 increased 7.3% in October 2020, compared with October 2019, marking the fastest annual appreciation since April 2014. On a month-over-month basis, home prices increased by 1.1% compared to September 2020…. COVID has contributed to the acute shortage of inventory as the pace of new construction slowed and older prospective sellers postponed listing their homes until after the pandemic.”

* * *

The Bezzle: “Five Reasons Why Bitcoin is Going Up” [The Reformed Broker]. “A few reasons for Bitcoin’s return to the record highs. It’s about $18,500 as of this writing, matching the previous highs from 2017’s original explosion. Reason one: It’s going up because it’s going up. Don’t scoff, this is the reason most things in the markets happen and then the explanations are called for afterwards. I’m in financial television, I have literally watched this process occur in real-time. … Reason two: Paypal and Square’s Cash App, according to reports, are in a race to acquire enough Bitcoin to facilitate the next generation of their money transferring services. They both seek to allow their massive user bases to be able to seamlessly transact with merchants in Bitcoin, moving money back and forth from sovereign currencies into Bitcoin, etc. This use case has been the holy grail all along – how do you get regular people who don’t know anything about cryptocurrencies to transact in cryptocurrencies? I don’t know how to read the code that went into Expedia’s website, but I know how to book a vacation on it. I don’t know to disassemble the engine of my Chevy Tahoe, but I know how to drive my kid to school in it. Reason three: Wall Street legends are being won over. Don’t underestimate the pull of FOMO, peer pressure, idol worship etc. Read this thing by Niall Ferguson. And then this article in Barron’s about how institutions are afraid of missing out. Reason four: Gold and silver aren’t ‘working.'”

Tech: “S&P Global’s $44bn deal shows data is the oil of the 21st century” [Financial Times]. “Monday’s announcement by S&P Global that it has agreed to buy IHS Markit — the large London-based financial analytics company — for $44bn encapsulated how data is now to the financial industry what oil is to the industrial economy. Separately, both S&P Global and IHS Markit are major players in the business of collecting, refining and piping information that power chunks of modern finance. The former is big in the stock market index business, credit ratings and energy analysis. The latter boasts a strong position in debt market and derivatives analytics and a host of corporate research in areas like transportation, aerospace and trade. Combined, they might hope to compete with the likes of Michael Bloomberg’s eponymous empire, whose pricey terminals are ubiquitous on Wall Street; Refinitiv, which is being acquired by the London Stock Exchange for $27bn; and newer challengers like Intercontinental Exchange, the acquisitive owner of the New York Stock Exchange that bought Interactive Data for $5.2bn in 2015 and Ellie Mae for $11bn earlier this year.”

Tech: “AWS going AWOL last week is exactly why less is more in cloud server land” [The Register]. “On Wednesday last week, Amazon decided to take serverless at face value. Its US-EAST-1 region fell out of the cloud like a rain of frogs, leaving hundreds of services crippled or dead. Adobe Spark, Roku, Flickr, iRobot, and many more stuttered and fell. The firm passed the buck as quickly as possible, but to nobody’s satisfaction. All at once, we were back to the pre-PC days where everything lived on the mainframe and you did what IBM told you to do, and if you didn’t like that then good luck living outside the ecosystem. This is one of the cloud’s less impressive aspects.”

Tech: “Algorithmic Collusion: working mechanisms” [University of Amstersdam]. This is a conference program, not a report, but it certainly sounds interesting.

Mr. Market: “The Biggest Worry For Everyday People Is No Obstacle For ‘Blissful’ Financial Markets” [Heisenberg Report (Re Silc)]. “It’s really quite something — tell the average voter that the US government doesn’t actually need to tax or borrow to spend, and you’ll be scoffed at, but tell that same voter there are no aliens at Area 51, and they’ll say ‘Are you sure?’).” • Propaganda works…

The Fed: “Powell stresses importance of lending programs, calls economic outlook ‘extraordinarily uncertain'” [CNBC]. “Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell emphasized the importance of the lending programs it has deployed during the coronavirus pandemic, telling senators in testimony to be delivered Tuesday that they’ve been integral in keeping the economic fallout from being worse. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who will appear twice on Capitol Hill with Powell this week, has said that the legislation that enabled the programs does not permit them to run past Dec. 31. The two officials are speaking as part of required updates on the CARES Act funding initiatives Congress passed to aid the economy through the pandemic. Many of the key programs that the central bank has used since March are expiring at the end of the year, and the Fed will be forced to return the funding that supports them.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 92 Extreme Greed (previous close: 88 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 88 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Dec 1 at 12:53pm.

The Biosphere

“Dallas turned off lights to save birds migrating through Texas. Will Fort Worth join?” [Fort Worth Star-Telegram]. “In an effort to reduce the number of bird deaths across the state, Jones worked with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to promote Lights Out Texas, a campaign urging Texans and building owners to turn off non-essential outdoor and indoor lights between 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., when birds are coasting on a superhighway toward the south. Light pollution can create a ‘deathtrap’ for migratory birds, which are drawn out of their typical elevation and into a chaotic downtown environment, Jones said. Each year, between 365 million and 988 million birds across the U.S. are killed when they collide with buildings, according to studies cited by the Cornell Lab.” • Yay, Cornell Lab! (Yay also Fort Worth, of course.)

“The Search for Dark Matter Is Dramatically Expanding” [Quanta]. • With handy chart of the possible masses of dark matter, all the way from primordial black holes to ultralight dark matter.

“An ‘Impossible’ Discovery of ‘Twisted Light’ Could Rewrite Laws of Physics” [The Independent]. “Scientists have suggested that dark energy could be a cosmic ‘quintessence’ – a substance in itself, rather than a constant of space as was previously thought.” • Like a luminiferous ether, except not luminiferous?


“A Desert City Tries to Save Itself With Rain” [Bloomberg (GF)]. “In an average year, Brad Lancaster can harvest enough rain to meet 95% of his water needs. Roof runoff collected in tanks on his modest lot in Tucson, Arizona — where 100 degree days are common in the summer months — provides what he needs to bathe, cook and drink. When Lancaster gets thirsty, he sips filtered rain ‘known as sweet water,’ he says, having never picked up salt from soil. When he wants a hot shower, he places his outdoor shower’s water tank in the sun. To irrigate his fruit trees beyond the Sonoran Desert’s two rainy seasons, which bring the vast majority of Tucson’s precipitation, he uses fresh rainwater or greywater — the latter being, in his case, used rainwater leftover from the shower, sink, or washing machine. ‘More rain falls on the surface of Tucson in a typical year than the entire population of Tucson consumes of municipal water in a year,’ says Lancaster, author of Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond. ‘So we have more water than we need most years — if we harvest it and reinvest it as opposed to draining it away.'” • I wonder if we have any readers in Tucson who know Lancaster?

Our Famously Free Press

Reinventing the blogosphere:

Substack doesn’t even have a blogroll, ffs — even an internal one made up only of substack blogs. The silo is strong….

“What do I care the open web is dying?” [Insight Browser]. • Apps make you stupid.

Feral Hog Watch

The Influence of Feral Hog Power Upon History (nippersmom):

The Conservatory

“Bob Dylan: The Lost Bar Mitzvah Tapes” [Untold Dylan]. “Pastor Wendell Helgason of the Wesley United Methodist Church, in Hibbing, Minnesota discovered a rare artifact in the basement of the Church last Easter Sunday. It was an audio tape recording from the days before the Church moved in and took over the mortgage from the former owners, the Agudath Achim Synagogue which closed its doors in 1964 due to a dwindling local Jewish population. When Pastor Helgason dusted off and activated the old Sony reel to reel he was intrigued at first by the melodic chanting which he assumed to be the young men’s Hebrew choir. It turned out to be the Synagogue Cantor’s own recording of each boy’s Bar Mitzvah rehearsal. He was about to turn off the tape when he heard a distinct voice that he immediately recognized. ‘I would know that nasal sound anywhere,”Pastor Wendell said, bursting with hometown pride. “No mistaking that voice belonged to the prodigal son of Hibbing.'”

Crapification Watch

Do better, Ekumen!

Book Nook

I believe that Levine is correct:

The thread gives counter-examples, but I think only Phillip K. Dick gives a real sense of the grittiness, the griminess, the crapification of “future poverty.” That’s one reason I like him; his realism.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Race, Risk, and the Emergence of Federal Redlining” [NBER]. The Abstract: “During the late 1930s, the Home Owners Loan Corporation (HOLC) created a series of maps designed to summarize spatial variation in the riskiness of mortgage lending in different neighborhoods. The HOLC maps, in conjunction with contemporaneous maps produced by the Federal Housing Agency (FHA), are at the center of debates regarding the long-run impacts of government-imposed redlining, particularly because black households were concentrated in the highest risk zones on these maps. This concentration, combined with the fact that these formerly redlined neighborhoods largely remain economically distressed today, suggest racial bias in the construction of the maps has had important effects over the long run. Using newly digitized data for ten major northern cities, we assess the maps for the importance of this channel in explaining the prevalence of black residents in redlined neighborhoods. We find that racial bias in the construction of the HOLC maps can explain at most a small fraction of the observed concentration of black households in redlined zones. Instead, our results suggest that the majority of black households were redlined because decades of disadvantage and discrimination had already pushed them in to the core of economically distressed neighborhoods prior to the government’s direct involvement in mortgage markets. As a result, the HOLC maps are best viewed as providing clear evidence of how decades of unequal treatment effectively limited where black households lived in the 1930s rather than reflecting racial bias in the construction of the maps themselves. We argue that the systemized treatment of neighborhood risk vis-à-vis mortgage lending that was adopted by HOLC and the FHA may have played a central role in locking these patterns of inequality in place.”

Guillotine Watch

“Celebs mingle without masks at birthday party for Lil Wayne’s daughter” [CNN]. “A packed party was being held to celebrate Carter’s 22nd birthday. It even featured music performances by her father, Lil’ Wayne, and fellow hip-hop artists, Juvenile and 2 Chainz. They were all seen in posts at the party without masks and at times standing shoulder to shoulder with each other…. Other celebrities in attendance included music producer and rapper Mannie Fresh, singer-songwriter Kandi Burruss and her husband Todd Tucker. Burruss shared several images and videos on her Instagram from the party. The couple owns restaurants in Atlanta and are cast members on ‘The Real Housewives of Atlanta.’ A representative for Burruss and Tucker could not be reached for comment.” • This keeps happening.

“McKinsey for Kids: Hungry fish, baffled farmers, and what happened next” [McKinsey (Stoller)]. “You’re a kid. You’ve heard of McKinsey—maybe your parent even works here—yet you don’t quite get what we do all day. You’re not alone—many adults don’t either. Basically, we help solve problems. And many of those problems affect you directly: how to improve education, or tackle climate change, or design products that you and your friends might like. Let’s look at, say, fish: Have you eaten sushi lately, or fish sticks, or a fish sandwich? Here is how we helped some farmers in Latin America who might have grown that fish. Check it out.” • N-o-o-o-o-o-o-o….

Class Warfare

“Abolishing the Economics Nobel Isn’t Enough” [Current Affairs]. “Under this argument, the problem with the economics Nobel is not so much its origin, but its mere existence. The fact that political power is accorded to those who have won the prize—in addition to the political power they must already possess to have put their ideas into practice in the first place—is a matter of democratic contention. Economists have a habit of convincing themselves that their proposals are scientific and sidestep questions of democracy, when actually those proposals just prioritize economists’ own values and approaches over those of others. Whether we’re talking about RCTs, auctions, or monetary policy, much of the application of economic ideas has taken place behind closed doors and in a language inaccessible to most of us. In every case this secrecy has had clear consequences for which policies have been implemented—and subsequently which groups have benefited and which have lost out.” • The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is not to change it.

“Let’s Talk About Higher Wages” [Editorial Board, New York Times]. “This is not just a political problem for Democrats; it is an economic problem for the United States. The nation needs a better story about the drivers of economic growth, to marshal support for better public policies. The painful lessons of recent decades, along with recent economic research, point to a promising candidate: higher wages. Raising the wages of American workers ought to be the priority of economic policymakers and the measure of economic performance under the Biden administration. We’d all be better off paying less attention to quarterly updates on the growth of the nation’s gross domestic product and focusing instead on the growth of workers’ paychecks.”

News of the Wired

“Undergraduate Math Student Pushes Frontier of Graph Theory” [Quanta]. Finally a paragraph from Quanta I can actually understand: “For example, imagine you’ve got six vertices, each connected to every other vertex by edges. Now color each of the 15 total edges either red or blue. No matter how you apply the colors, it’s inevitable that you’ll end up with three vertices that are all connected to each other by edges of the same color (known as a “clique”). The same is not true, however, if you start with five vertices (for which it’s possible to do the coloring without creating a clique). As a result, mathematicians say that the Ramsey number for two colors and a clique of size 3 is 6 — meaning you need at least six vertices to guarantee the clique exists.”

“Dijkstra Was Wrong About ‘Radical Novelty’: Metaphors in CS Education” [Communications of the ACM]. “Dijkstra’s argument is that computers represent “radical novelty.” There’s nothing like them in human experience, and we cannot use our past experience to understand them. In particular, we shouldn’t use metaphors…. We now know that this is likely impossible. The learning sciences tell us that all learning is based on connecting new experiences to previous, through a process called constructivism developed by Jean Piaget (see a nice explanation here). Trying to learn something without connection to prior experience inhibits learning. It leads to a phenomenon called inert knowledge (see Wikipedia page) where you have memorized stuff to pass the test, but you don’t really understand and can’t really use the knowledge.”

ZOMG this is not fiction:

I thought Terry Pratchett invented this concept in Men at Arms

I don’t think Google Captcha is training robot cars any more with the damn crosswalks and traffic lights and bicycles. I think it’s just random sadism from an algo. Others agree:

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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 (JU):

JU writes: “Being in a burn area not long after ignition is interesting. I’ve been on this trail [Ladybug Trail, Sequoia National Park] a hundred times, so got to really know the lay of the land before the Castle fire came calling, and will have the great pleasure of watching it reanimate itself over the course of the rest of my life.”

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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. Carolinian

    That Taibbi column is a must read and sums up the reservations some of us had about Bernie. Which is to say it’s pointless to run for the most powerful office in the world if you have a personality that has so little interest in confrontation and exercising power. Arguably the presidency is all about personalites, not ideas.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Ya know, in hindsight, it’s probably better Bernie didn’t win.

      The way it probably would have gone is that President Bernie would float an idea, and pelosi and schumer would get ALEC to write a “law” real quick that made whatever he wanted “illegal,” basically in perpetuity, with no recourse. (Kinda like Prop. 22 in california that requires seven eighths of the legislature to recognize delivery drivers, who are now “contractors,” as the employees that they actually are.)

      Then they could “whip” and vote in the middle of the night or on Christmas Eve, and kill whatever it was forevah.

      President Bernie would then make a comment to the effect of “Nobody cares about your damn emails” and the effort would disappear into oblivion.

      Back in the day, I used to play a lot of cards–double deck bid euchre–and we had a saying when someone didn’t trump big enough to take the trick–“Never send a boy to do a man’s job.” I could probably work that around to apply to Bernie, but you get the idea and I just don’t give enough of a shit anymore.

      1. jsn

        The Democrats are blind to 70% of the population. They really don’t care and, when forced to pay attention at all, do so only with irritated resentment.

        All the Republicans I know would in no circumstance ever vote for a Democrat. Ironically, in 2016 about half of them would have done so for Sanders over Trump. Democrats don’t get this, don’t understand they are loathed as a group nearly as much as Hillary.

        The result is Biden has won a poisoned chalice. There is much I think he could do, but looking at his team, he’s obviously not interested in any of those things. He will give Republicans a great deal more of their program while getting the usual nothing in return, which with the state of things will be a humanitarian disaster. We’ll be relying on Hawley and other ambitious Republicans now to save Social Security. I have Republican clients who are big investors in cannabis, it appears now they will be more likely to legalize marijuana than a Biden Admin. The mid-terms will hand Republicans a supermajority and if they and Biden don’t completely destroy the county, they’ll have everything in 4 years.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          texas public radio had a long thing today about legal weed in texas…including a guy who said he had’nt gotten a hard no from repub brass…and that even litegove radio preacher was softening.
          it’ll come down to money as an excuse….specifically, lack of oil and gas revenue, as well as the covidepression’s vivisection of state, county and city budgets.
          i know plenty of rednecks and good old boys these days who partake of the noble weed.
          things have changed.
          i hope they’ve changed enough.
          sticking point, i predict, will be exoneration and liberty for those in jail for the stuff.
          gop mean streak will hafta be overcome…likely with some judas goat substitution(i nominate versailles dems)

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            and maybe our best shot is to split the gop into 2 parties( or more), rather than the dems.
            let the latter wither(hopefully)
            push hawley left, tie off cotton, and use rubio as a rainbow bridge

            1. Lost in OR

              You may be correct. My old stated position was “I’m so far left I’m right”. What could the opposite be?

            2. Person

              Yes, please. I’ve been observing the increasing cross-talk between left and right populists on Twitter with great pleasure. Put bread on the table, go after corruption, and take the media class down a few notches and you’ve won over enough of the country to gain power. People are more fed up about this stuff than the usual wedge issues, and the last remaining arrow in the elite quiver (idpol) is getting worn out from overuse.

      2. Pelham

        I have to agree. But for the simple reason that Sanders for a host of reasons probably wouldn’t have been able to get much done. Then all the Neeras of the world could say, “See, that fusty old socialism can’t possibly work.”

        1. Temporarily Sane

          The Democratic Party will fight tooth and nail to keep out any candidate who even nominally represents the interests of the American people over their billionaire donors. Anyone who thinks AOC or the Squad or any other “progressives” are going to transform the Democrats into a people’s party is going to be very disappointed.

          How much evidence do the wishful thinkers need before they realize the Democratic Party is a lost cause? A viable third party won’t be built overnight and the country might collapse or go hard authoritarian before it comes to fruition, but at least there is a chance such a project will yield desirable results.

          1. Pelham

            Agreed. The odds of a viable party representing a large majority of people are murky but better than nothing.

            But I think the odds could be improved if the left were willing and even eager to REALLY reach out to and accommodate people far to the right of them on cultural issues but who might be allies on mainly economic issues. The afflictions of rampant globalist capitalism are apparent to pretty much all of us now, left and right.

            1. LifelongLib

              Several times here on NC I’ve seen gratuitous anti-Christian or anti-American comments that have no connection with actual economic issues, but just seem to be part of the thinking of many on the left. Reaching out to “people far to the right…on cultural issues” will require some leftists to bite their tongues…

              1. Person

                I have wondered if the popular left might be able to come up with a compromise on this with some on the right. It may be possible, for a delineated time, to agree to keep cultural arguments siloed internally within left and right spheres and keep the active cross-conversation focused on shared issues. Who is anyone convincing with the culture war stuff, anyway? It’s always been red meat for the base.

          2. dcblogger

            Almost every Democrat south of 40 voted for Bernie, Bernie owns the future. He won’t win, but his wing will control the future.

            1. Robert Hahl

              I think they will be too busy pulling down statues; correcting each other’s pronouns, and thinking up new words for retarded.

            2. Count Zero

              dcblogger — there’s a flaw in your logic. Bernie’s wing will be over 40 before long and believe me they will have dissolved into a disorganised myriad of different politics and no politics. It might be a bit of a cliche but I speak from bitter experience — youthful idealists soon change into every kind of compromised cynic.

              The future always arrives too late.

        2. Dr. John Carpenter

          I’ve often thought if the Dems were as smart as they think they are, they would have made sure Sanders won this time. As mentioned above, this presidency is a poisoned chalice so why wouldn’t they want to let Sanders and his ideas take the fall?
          But I also understand why they couldn’t do that. The spice must flow and even though I don’t think Sanders would have been able to affect much change, assuming he was actually willing to piss some people off trying, TPTB won’t tolerate even the smallest risk.

      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        Would the people of California require a 7/8ths majority to remove this from the California Constitution if they voted in a referendum to remove it? Proposition Remove Proposition 22.
        Prop Remove Prop 22.

        If not, maybe that is a mere majority way to remove it. At the Prop Removal Prop level.

      4. JBird4049

        Sanders was asked earlier this year about the obstruction he would face as a President trying to put through his agenda; go to the home or headquarters of the problem person as the President and bring along his followers to protest. Even morally empty people like Pelosi, Schumer, McConnell, or Zuckerberg might act differently.

    2. fresno dan

      December 1, 2020 at 2:10 pm

      It was the same with charges that he was a favorite of the Russians, another regular theme of Tanden. Rather than recognize from the start that the Russia issue was being used as a club against opposition voices across the spectrum, including the antiwar left, Sanders tiptoed around the question, often giving lip service to the most absurd Russiagate theories. He didn’t show a hint of anger until a fresh dump of “Secret Sources Say Putin Loves Bernie!” reports hit the news about ten minutes before the Nevada caucus.

      Bernie at least saw through that one. “I’ll let you guess about one day before the Nevada caucuses,” he quipped last February. “The Washington Post? Good friends.”

      Even in that case, though, Sanders couldn’t take the next step. Instead of taking aim at the conniving bund of reporters, DNC pols, and intelligence sources driving these McCarthy-style attacks, Sanders after the Nevada incident dutifully denounced the Foreign Menace. “I unequivocally condemn such interference,” he said, essentially conceding that Russia was helping his campaign.
      To acquiesce to McCarthyites is arguably even worst than acquiescing to corporatists.
      And it shows that once you start down the road of Russian conspiracy theories to get rid of Trump – well, why not use it on anybody you need to get rid of? And of course, once you use a conspiracy theory, what prevents your opponent from using his conspiracy theory?

    3. Stephen C.

      I have to agree. My wife loves Bernie because he’s “such a nice guy.” Yes, it’s refreshing to see a public figure who isn’t a full-on jerk, but we’re trying to diffuse a full-on failing empire here. You want nice, watch some old Hugh Grant movies.

      1. Betty

        OSHA Let Employers Decide Whether to Report Health Care Worker Deaths. Many Didn’t – From the other day. The link doesn’t work — has anyone found the correct url?

      1. Hana M

        Thanks to you for all your work on this topic. The next key event on the vaccine front in the US is coming up in ten days: https://www.fda.gov/advisory-committees/advisory-committee-calendar/vaccines-and-related-biological-products-advisory-committee-december-10-2020-meeting-announcement#event-information

        “The meeting presentations will be heard, viewed, captioned, and recorded through an online teleconferencing platform. On December 10, 2020, the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research’s (CBER), Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) will meet in open session to discuss Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19 in individuals 16 years of age and older.”

    1. amfortas the hippie

      i’ve wanted to do rainwater for 40 years
      built an ad hoc system into my house… but ran out of money and had to settle for just the 350 gal tank i had on hand
      since then, i’ve liberated gobs of gutters from the metal pile at the dump, and acquired around 3000 gallons worth of tank from hither and yon( most intercepted before they went to dump)
      so the new bar, chicken house, turkey house and goat barn are soon to be water sources
      tanks are still the biggest impediment from 60 cents to a dollar a gallon depending on materials
      when i’m done with current building spree, with “average” rainfall, ill passively collect almost a million gallons per year…. most of which will run out of the full tanks

      i’m considering a pond, but will hafta convince mom(sigh)
      pond liners have come way down in price, and improved in efficacy, in the last 20 years

      1. JTMcPhee

        Any inspiration for reducing evaporation losses in your climate? Maybe not an issue if it’s less than use.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          until the willows(*) grow, no.
          the old cycles…as indicated by old people and historical records….have intensified. longer, hotter droughts….longer, wetter monsoons…
          the Gulf of Mexico is around 300 miles away.
          given 50 foot rise in sea level, the beach will come a lot closer(maybe an hundred miles away, if it gets up to Luling or Gonzales).
          i always expected that to cause a more Mediterranean climate(Hadley Model, 99?)…but instead of Provence, Tunisia might be in order.

          (*cypress? Pecan?–i’m pretty sure that the 100 year old pecan trees in mom’s yard are tapped into the water table(100′), and are….by some cappilary action…keeping her st augustine grass(which shouldn’t be, here) alive and flourishing(til she ceased making me take care of it))

          Regardless…it’s too soon to even try growing Date Palms

          1. ambrit

            Uh, are there a Luling and a Gonzalez in Tejas? The two towns of that name in Louisiana are both about ten feet above present day sea level. A fifty foot sea level rise above present day levels would put the beach somewhere around
            I think that it was good old boy Robert E Howard, (of Conan fame,) who wrote a story that included the Gulf rolling far inland into Tejas. I think it was one of his “Wierd” tales.

      2. Glen

        Check into solar powered water purification too. Here’s a link to one, but there are quite a few out there:

        For thirsty campers, GoSun’s water purifier purges germs with power of the sun

        Nice to know you can put in a small system for the drinking water you need. We use spring water at our place. It’s what the place has used for about 120 years, but we may start collecting rainwater as we expand our gardens.

    2. Greg

      Does he get into the larger watershed beyond the city he lives in? When he says things like “‘So we have more water than we need most years — if we harvest it and reinvest it as opposed to draining it away.’” I get the impression he doesn’t understand where water goes when it “drains away”. The total watershed and global cycle is important to understanding freshwater constraints.

      In other countries rainwater redirection has been a successful strategy to increase freshwater availability specifically where it would otherwise drain into the sea – ie, in coastal cities where concrete culverts take stormwater to the sea. If the water is otherwise draining into the ground, it is refilling aquifers and other groundwater supplies that are then being extracted to provide your municipal supply.

      1. carl

        This is what I’ve always wondered about; when you collect the rainwater, what are you depriving of rain?

        1. Laughingsong

          Your downspouts and the pipe to the gutter essentially. We had a total of about 1300 gallons in tanks to catch rainwater from the roofs of the house and the garage. House is small, ~850 sq ft, garage considerably less. The tanks fill in about a week of steady (but not necessarily heavy) rain, the rest is overflow.

          An incredible amount of water runs off, I don’t think these types of catchment are causing much deprivation.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            consider, also, that the land , itself, is rainwater catchment on a larger scale than any roof.
            depending on what’s actually ON the ground, that is.

            all this rainwater i’m catching goes in the gardens.
            on cloudier days, and when i run water at nights(the long driplines for the trees), i’m sure some gets to where it was going anyway.( perhaps with a fraction less gullywashing).
            i am certain that it’s a much smaller rainshadow than any of the sandmines hereabouts.
            or the little municipal golf course, in town.
            we are 100″ grey water, too(pee goes in a built wetland, with cattails, horsetails and a cypress(willows y black walnut forthcoming).—#2 goes into leaves and/or shavings for a year of dry composting in the pasture, and then around the base of various trees)

            i’m really not all that worried about depriving downstream of water at this point.
            with me, or without me, it will flood all the way to the gulf.

  2. Idland

    Taibbi is almost as bitter as me. Why this burning hate for this charming woman who is trying to kill you?

  3. RMO

    UK clown copyright: I learned that watching an episode of The Avengers when I was a kid. John Cleese was in it.

    1. The Rev Kev

      With all her Russia-gating, I was trying to remember who she reminded me of. And then I realized – Louise Mensch! The Russians nicknamed her the “Unhinged British witch” for this. I wondered therefore if you could nickname Neera Tanden the “Unhinged American witch.” This seemed unkind of me but then I remembered that this was Neera Tanden that we are talking about so yeah, I am going with that.

      One point. The Republicans have already said that no way will they pass her for any appointment as she has made far too many enemies among them. Don’t blame them here. But could not Biden appoint her sometime when the Senate is in recess and try to slip her in the back door? I am given to understand that appointments made in recess must be confirmed by the Senate by the end of the next session of Congress, or the appointment expires but would that not be a very long time?

  4. kareninca

    Abbreviated anecdote from friend here in Silicon Valley:

    “(yesterday) I went for a walk around the XXX with a friend from the boys’ elementary school days . . . super ultra liberal gal, but when we discussed covid, she said, “i’m not worried about it, you can come over anytime” . . .”

    This is in a “purple” zone.

    Shaming political opponents for their stupidity is good clean fun, but actually walking the walk is just too dreary.

  5. Jim Hannan

    Brad Lancaster is a Tucson original and icon. He has pioneered the idea of curb cuts that allow stormwater runoff to irrigate small streetside plantings of native plants. His books are treasures.

    It looks like the Central Arizona Project, which delivers water from the Colorado River all the way to Tucson, will have to start rationing water perhaps as soon as next year.

  6. Toshiro_Mifune

    I thought Terry Pratchett invented this concept in Men at Arms…

    I got to admit I was about to write the same thing

  7. lobelia

    To File under Just Shoot Me (for the millionth time, and please – the next time – have the human decency to practice your aim, I can barely stand the wounds anymore):

    A preview of the oncoming Silicon Valley Administration?

    Weekly FaceBook News Broadcasts™ with Doctors Fauci and Zuckerberg (via promptings from Health Venture Capitalist Zeke Emanuel (https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2020/11/links-11-22-2020.html#comment-3472994 ) perhaps?

    Has, or has not, Zuckerberg been proven to be yet another Anti Social, Pale Yale FratBoy, Billionaire Liar and Privacy Violator for closing in on two decades now? Has, or has not, Zuckerberg been in numerous, supposed Defendant™ (though treated with the most delicate, and luxurious of Kid Gloves) Congressional Hearings now? Doesn’t Facebook still owe the IRS about 9 Billion regarding Ireland and Transfer Pricing [in a now ancient case regarding Ireland Asset Transfers) Fraud?


    Sorry, yet once again, for: no time to respond now if someone responds to my comment. The worst, crippling – Utterly Unnecessary – lethal and criminal HealthCare Industry™ blows yet in this hideous Golden Gold Rush, Blue[st] STATE™, regarding someone I love deeply, happened a day after I made my linked comment above. If at all possible I may be able to respond some time later (as in days, or more) via linking back to this comment.

    1. clarky90


      Scott Adams “If you can’t audit the election software, did an election actually happen?”

      If “Our Democracy” is not ours, then how a person identifies themselves politically, is irrelevant.

      In 1917, Russia was teeming with diverse, heated, political discourse! Anarchists, Socialists, Bundists, Christian Conservatives, Monarchists, Menscheviks……. But, after the Bolsheviks managed to make all elections “Ours”…….. One (only one) Party ruled for the next 90 years. More than a lifetime.

      And if you believe that choosing the “correct” leftist party was a good move? Not so much.

      Far safer to have absolutely no thoughts or opinions about anything. Never make any witty remark. No banter. Even “conversations” were fraught if the Party Line was to suddenly change.

      ….. wake up, go to work, come home, eat, go to sleep, wake up…..

  8. drumlin woodchuckles

    About the Neera nomination for OMB Chair . . . . perhaps she is a sacrificial nominee. The Republican Senators need to be seen to deny Biden at least one of his cabinet picks, for political credibility reasons with their base. Maybe rejecting Tanden will meet their visible credibility requirements.

    If Sanders votes to confirm Tanden, that will be the final straw that breaks the camel’s back. That will be the “bridge-too-far”, over which Sanders can never return to his supporters after he goes over that bridge to the Dark Side of the Farce.

    I hope Sanders does not destroy his credibility by failing to vote against Tanden. Merely abstaining will not be enough.

    1. Cas

      That was my take, too. It satisfies the “we’re so woke” crowd and finishes off Sanders, plus it clears the way for Biden/Harris to nominate a white male, e.g., Bruce Reed, who they probably wanted in the first place.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      I will again try introducing an eye-catching partial acronym for the ClinTandens of the world.

      Pink KKK Democrat. The KKK stands for Kitty Kap Klintonite. Kitty Kap Klintonite. KKK . Get it?

  9. Arizona Slim

    Slim here. And, yes, I do know Brad Lancaster.

    Matter of fact, I’ve had him here for water harvesting consulting. That was back in 2006. He’s too busy to do that sort of thing now.

    BTW, his books are excellent.

  10. fresno dan

    Stevie Martin
    Nov 29
    when you need to confirm you’re not a robot

    C’mon man – that is absurd
    I have never seen a captcha that easy…
    Seriously, I have a cheap a$$ flip phone where the buttons have to be pressed twice to get anything to display and than they display the number 3 or 4 times. Erasing numbers is the inverse. I try to go to the bank or utility website, and they ask me to enter some 24 digit code to START the process of getting to talk to someone.
    And OF COURSE, its just that way because it has to be just that way…

    1. RMO

      I use a laptop for all of my online needs and even with a big clear screen, full keyboard and touchpad a lot of the captchas are wretched experiences.

      I keep remembering an old Dilbert comic where they hired an interface design expert who had the view that a good interface should hurt the user. I swear that all the tech companies found real-life counterparts to that character and have been taking their pronouncements as holy writ.

  11. jr

    I was listening to a bit from “Ring of Fire” on Youtube about hunger in America:


    1 in 6 children are experiencing hunger, 50 million Americans will be suffering thusly by the end of the year.

    It’s a mostly blue leaning relatively progressive talk show, off the charts with the Trump Derangement Syndrome, but the host is aiming his ire at both parties this time. He drew his information from the food bank organization “Feeding America”:


    It’s going to be a grim winter.

  12. Vander Vieira de Resende

    Selection from WSWS:
    [About Sawant, Seattle’s recall]
    Sections of the Democratic Party launched the politically motivated recall drive, attacking Sawant on the basis of her
    – involvement with protests against police violence
    – and her role in the “Tax Amazon” campaign,
    – which resulted in the imposition of a minor payroll tax of less than 2 percent on Amazon and other major corporations.

    Lou and his attorney, John McKay, base the petition on six charges, including
    – using city resources to carry out the Tax Amazon ballot initiative,
    – allowing the national Socialist Alternative organization to make employment decisions regarding her City Council office,
    – leading protesters to Democratic Mayor Jenny Durkan’s private residence,
    – letting anti-police violence demonstrators into City Hall on one occasion,
    – and two charges related to her support for the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP).
    Source: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/10/27/sawa-o27.html

  13. Goyo Marquez

    I think it was here on NC that i first learned of PKD’s visions and how they were related to his later stories.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Heinlein also talked about bleak futures where you could have starships and rural poverty in the same region because of an ossified economy. Where many professions like starship navigators to hairdressers are damn near hereditary and each guards their “trade secrets”. Where the unemployed are sent to Labour Battalions to work at whatever is decided for them.

      Should mention before I forget that I missed those bird songs last week while NC was on break. They make a great start to the day and today’s was especially great.

      1. Alex Cox

        PKD is wonderful, as are Harry Harrison (Make Room! Make Room!) and Pohl & Kornbluth for working class dystopiae.

    2. Yves Smith

      Come on. Harlan Ellison! He did morbid all the time. Typical title: “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream.” And whaddabout A Boy and His Dog? Set in a post-nuclear-apocalypse desert.

      He tried having his name taken off his Star Trek script, The City on the Edge of Forever, which won an Emmy, because the producer changed key plot points, including that drug addiction was rampant on the Enterprise.

      Ellison and Dick were friends.

  14. Pelham

    Allow me to clear up all this nonsense about dark matter, which is supposed to account for the fact the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate:

    There is no dark matter. Rather, the four dimensions (including time) of the Big Bang occurred on the surface of a fifth dimension that can only be described as spherical in shape. If you imagine the bang occurring at the North Pole along an Earthlike sphere, the velocity of the expansion would have slowed in all three directions — as would be expected — until it reached the equator.

    At that stage matter passing over the equator all around the fifth-dimensional “sphere” would begin growing closer together in the Southern Hemisphere– and accelerating as a result, in turn pulling matter still remaining in the Northern Hemisphere and accelerating that matter as well. Hence, the acceleration we’ve detected. And we can also conclude that the universe is somewhat past the halfway point before it collapses back into a pre-bang point.

    Or not.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        that film was one of the (many) surreptitious introductions to ethics and moral philosophy i used with the boys.
        when they were little and would still sit through “Dad’s Movies”.
        (with prodding and engagement to keep them conscious)
        worked, too.

  15. lyman alpha blob

    RE: scifi and future poverty depictions

    I haven’t read extensively from the 40s and 50s, what would be considered the scifi ‘golden age’ but my understanding is that it was a lot of Buck Rogers/Flask Gordon style pew pew laser fight stuff where the handsome hero gets the girl. One commenter on the thread did mention Vonnegut’s Player Piano though. Vonnegut isn’t necessarily a scifi writer, and definitely not hard scifi, but he is certainly scifi adjacent. Player Piano may be the exception that proves Gibson’s rule, but it was right on the money with its social critique of automation, suffering of the working class, etc.

    1. Glen

      It was much of what you describe because the readers tended to be teenage boys.

      Many of the magazines from back then are no longer under copy write protection and are available here:

      Project Gutenberg; http://www.gutenberg.org/

  16. anon in so cal

    >Covid 7,593 new cases in Los Angeles County, California, in the past 24 hours, and 46 deaths.

  17. The Rev Kev

    “Bob Dylan: The Lost Bar Mitzvah Tapes”

    ‘They say he’s been back once or twice but never let anyone know.’

    It seems that a lot of people have the urge to go back to where they came from when they get older. And when famous, they would naturally do so on the sly so as not to attract unwanted attention. Here it is Bob Dylan. I read Michael Caine’s autobiography and he too went back to visit East London where he grew up.

    While there once, he came across Charlie Chaplain who too came from East London and made the occasional visit there where he grew up as well. I have to admit that I once visited the places that I grew up in after being overseas several years. You can’t go back of course and the changes found enforces this. But it is a natural urge.

    Finding that early recorded session Of Bob Dylan was a great find. But you know what I hope that they find one day? The jamming session that The Beatles had with Elvis Presley when they went to visit him on their first tour of America. Wouldn’t that be a find.

    1. YetAnotherChris

      Dylan has been known to slip in and out of Minnesota mostly unnoticed. It was rumored that he traveled to Hibbing to pay his respects to a cherished mentor:


      There is still a family farm in Hennepin County where Bob has been spotted on a riding mower. Interestingly, there is a neighboring farm belonging to a different clan of Zimmermans who are said to suffer the occasional stalker.

    2. Count Zero

      Sorry to sound pedantic, Rev Kev, but Michael Caine was born Maurice Joseph Micklewhite in Rotherhithe in SOUTH London. Charlie Chaplin was born not far away in Walworth, also in South London.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Actually you are right Count Zero and I was too lazy to go looking for my copy on Michael Caine’s book “What’s It All About” when I tried to remember that part. I just now dug up that book and Caine mentioned that he ran into Chaplin who did not know who Caine was. Chaplin was very nostalgic about the Elephant area in London and was sad at the way developers had torn the place apart. About 300 years from the prefab Caine grew up in, Chaplin pointed out an old music hall called the ‘South London’ that he had performed in before going to America. I have often thought that you could make a great film about this meeting between actors from the two different generations set against a changing London.

  18. against bad art history

    I know this is an old thread and this will never be read but! I cannot let it stand! Dick wrote his major works post 1960! And there were plenty of great 60s sci-fi writers who included poverty (which is why Gibson mentioned the time frame he did). The one you want for the 50s is Alfred Bester.

  19. Sigge

    “Miserable distorted block-heads, the generality; ape-faces, imp-faces, angry dog-faces, heavy sullen ox-faces; degraded underfoot perverse creatures, sons of indocility, greedy mutinous darkness, and in one word, of STUPIDITY, which is the general mother of such. Stupidity intellectual and stupidity moral had born this progeny: base-natured beings on whom the Genius of Darkness (called Satan, Devil and other names) had now visibly impressed his seal, and had marked them out as soldiers of Chaos and of him … Him, you could perceive, they would serve; but not easily other than him.”

    Thomas Carlyle, Latter-Day Pamplets, No.2.

    Was Thomas Carlyle a prophet? If not, then how did he manage to describe the utter STUPIDITY of naked capitalism commenters, 150 years before these miserable, distorted, ape-faced 40 IQ blockheads were even born?

    1. Count Zero

      Carlyle wasn’t much of a prophet, Sigge, but he was a demented old git who, especially in his latter years, spewed forth incoherent poison about his fellow men. Mr Angry! You can see even from this brief extract why he was much admired by those Nazis who were able to read a line of prose.

      1. Sigge

        Get your b*tch cloth on, and get back in your shipping container, Count Zero, don’t you know there’s a pandemic?

        Where’s your “covi-pass,” you contemptible worm? You can’t just leave your shipping container whenever you want! Get that rag on your face and that poison into your veins!

  20. drumlin woodchuckles


    Dear Mr. Sigge,

    Thank you for your interest in our comments. We are always happy to hear from you. Please let us know if you have any other concerns.

Comments are closed.