2:00PM Water Cooler 12/11/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I’m afraid brunch ran late. More soon. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

A Scottish bird (for Morag).


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:

A slight decrease in slope, 15 days after Thanksgiving. I feel I’m engaging in a macabre form of tape-watching, because I don’t think the peak is coming in the next days, or even weeks.

I thought I’d look at some big states (New York, Florida, Texas, California) instead of the Midwest:

Texas and Florida diverge, but California sprints ahead.

Test positivity by region:

Big drop in the West.

Nowhere near 3%, though.

Hospitalization by region:

Drop driven by West and Midwest. 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.

Case fatality rate by region:

Slight decrease in slope, driven by the Midwest only. On deaths (dashed lines) the pairing of Midwest (blue) and South (green) vs. the pairing of Northeast (orange) and West (red) isn’t something seen in any of the other charts. Odd.


“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

“Biden’s electors prepare to seal his victory, as Trump and coronavirus rage” [Politico]. “[T]he Biden campaign has spent the days since Election Day making sure each of the president-elect’s electors is armed with precise logistical information, transportation and a backup plan, should anything interfere with their ability to arrive on time to cast the official votes to make Biden president — including the possibility that there could be last-minute protests or attempted disruptions from supporters of the president.”

“Jeb Bush blasts Texas lawsuit: ‘This is crazy. It will be killed on arrival'” [The Hill]. • Like all the other mainstream articles I’ve read on this topic, the legal arguments are omitted, completely. Not that the Trump legal team has covered itself with glory, but shouldn’t we at least be told what Texas’s theory of the case is?

“In Blistering Retort, 4 Battleground States Tell Texas to Butt Out of Election” [New York Times]. “In theory, the court has several options, including granting a temporary injunction barring the states’ electors from voting for Mr. Biden while the case proceeds or putting the suit itself on a fast track. But by far the most likely outcome is for the court to refuse to hear the case.” • This doesn’t summarize Texas’s theory of the case either.

“States tell justices to deny Texas request to overturn 2020 election” [SCOTUSblog]. • Summarizes (some of) the states’ arguments: If the Supreme Court takes this case, it will be flooded with others; and Texas lacks standing. (From the Pennsylvania brief: The court should “not abide this seditious abuse of the judicial process.” I hardly see how bringing a court case “rebels against the authority of a state.”) I dunno. I’ve skimmed the Texas brief, and there are points in it that at least have substantive form (I can’t speak to the content). Those points are not mentioned. If the Texas brief is as bad as “everyone” says that it is, then why the incomplete coverage? If indeed the Trump administration is in cahoots with the Roberts court, and installed Amy Coney Barrett with such unseemly haste to get a favorable ruling in 2020’s Bush v. Gore, then surely SCOTUSblog is the forum to demolish the Texas brief in detail? Granted, the demolition may be out there — readers? — but “Texas says ____ and that’s absurd because _____” doesn’t seem to exist as a talking point.

UPDATE “The Galling Hypocrisy of Texas AG Ken Paxton” [Jonah Goldberg, The Dispatch]. “[P]hilosophically this lawsuit is a betrayal of everything defenders of federalism and the Electoral College claim to believe. The state of Texas has no standing to complain how those other states conduct elections or appoint their electors. If it were taken seriously, it would open a Pandora’s box of asininity in which various states would use the federal government to dictate how other states operate.” • Maybe national elections should be conducted according to national standards (an idea nobody seems to be pushing. Along with hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public).

UPDATE Montana’s brief:

Trump, in other words, has made the exact same error Gore made in Florida 2000: Suing to overturn the election only where he thinks he can win, which cedes any moral high ground there is to be had.

UPDATE “Trump Reaps $207.5 Million After Loss as Donors Answer His Fury” [Bloomberg]. • You’ve gotta respect the grift.

Democrats in Disarray

UPDATE “Report: Gavin Newsom’s team ‘increasingly concerned’ about recall efforts” [SFGATE]. “The report also states, ‘Sources close to Newsom said the governor’s office has been disorganized over the past month and has not responded effectively to damaging headlines’ including his French Laundry trip, controversial new stay-at-home order and delay in naming Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ replacement in the United States Senate. In addition, most of the state’s public schools remain closed while they are open in other deep blue states such as New York and Massachusetts, and small business owners were particularly irate over the lack of evidence presented to support certain business closures. The Chronicle’s Phil Matier talked to some of the recall leaders for his Wednesday column, and organizers agree that with more financial support, they could probably garner enough signatures to force the state’s first recall election since Gray Davis was recalled in 2003.”

Transition to Biden

UPDATE “Biden forms team of insiders” [The Hill]. Shocking, I know. “Lobbyists adjusted to the Trump administration and Trump aides have been no stranger to working with outside influence, but the incoming Biden administration is providing a sense of comfort to lobbyists looking to interact with people who understand policy and process, sources said…. One source said that the Biden cabinet is already full of people that Washington insiders are checking if they have their most recent cell phone number. ‘If we’re playing the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game, most people can get home in two moves. Under Trump, most people needed four or five,’ the source said.”

UPDATE “Biden’s Cabinet picks give Kamala an edge in 2024” [Politico]. “Joe Biden hasn’t picked any of the nearly two dozen Democrats who ran against him to serve in his administration — and that bodes quite well for the former rival he did elevate as his No. 2, Kamala Harris. Biden’s decision to forgo a Cabinet of ambitious pols in favor of a group heavy on seasoned loyalists and technocrats contrasts with Donald Trump and Barack Obama’s appointment of next-generation officials to top posts. And it could deny a springboard to potential Harris competitors in 2024 if Biden decides to retire after one term rather than running for reelection in his 80s.”

UPDATE “Is Joe Biden Just Being Stubborn?” [Tne New Republic]. “As far as I can tell, the Biden administration makes appointments in two ways. One is, very obviously, to pick guys Joe Biden has known forever, such as Vilsack, Denis McDonough for Veterans Affairs, Lloyd J. Austin III at Defense, or Tony Blinken at State. The other, for positions they don’t care as much about, is to pointedly ignore whichever candidates have been designated by the press as favorites of “the left,” along with candidates various Democratic interest groups are pushing. Then they pick people at random, seemingly simply because they just don’t want to be told what to do. It helps if they can convince themselves that their critics ought to be happy with the eventual pick, even if he or she wasn’t their first choice. This theory would explain why people no one seems to have lobbied for keep getting important jobs, as Fudge did at HUD…. This entire bizarre cycle indicates that for all the “we believe science” rhetoric about responsible adults being in charge again, important decisions that will shape the government for the next four years are still being made based on petty, personal, and deeply cynical reasons. If Biden’s appeal relied in large part on nostalgia, well, welcome back to having the Democrats in charge.” • Does this mean we can’t go to brunch?

“Joe Biden and Kamala Harris: TIME’s Person of the Year 2020” [Time]. “The Democratic ticket was an unlikely partnership: forged in conflict and fused over Zoom, divided by generation, race and gender. They come from different coasts, different ideologies, different Americas. But they also have much in common, says Biden: working-class backgrounds, blended families, shared values. “We could have been raised by the same mother,” he says. In an age of tribalism, the union aims to demonstrate that differences don’t have to be divides.” • Harris’s father, Donald, is a Marxist professor emeritus of development economics at Stanford. Harris in no sense has a working class background. I wish Biden weren’t so shameless a fabulist. To be fair, it hasn’t caught up with him so far.

A second example of “stolen valor”:

Biden and Black people (1):

Biden’s thin skin is concerning. More concerning is that Biden actually seems to believe he won the election all on his own. Here, Biden is fact-checked by one of the candidates the DNC shoved aside for him:

Personally, I think “the soul of America” is a nonsense construct because it’s a category error. Nation’s don’t have souls, any more than government is like a household.

Biden and Black people (2):

Cranking up the enthusiasm in Georgia, I see….

Our Famously Free Press

“With News of Hunter Biden’s Criminal Probe, Recall the Media Outlets That Peddled the “Russian Disinformation” Lie [unlocked]” [Glenn Greenwald]. “In sum, we have the extraordinary historic disgrace of media outlets collaborating with the intelligence community in the weeks before a presidential election to manufacture and peddle a propagandistic lie to justify censorship of highly relevant materials about the presidential front-runner and his family’s efforts to profit off his name — namely, that the documents were not authentic but rather “Russian disinformation.” • Worth reading in full, now that Greenwald unlocked it. Of course, now that Trump is no longer President, the media and the intelligence community will certainly revert to their former arms-length relationship [snicker. Not. This toothpaste will never go back in the tube. Never].

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.

Rail: “Rail Week Ending 05 December 2020 – Improvement Continues” [Econintersect]. “Total rail traffic has two components – carloads and intermodal (containers or trailers on rail cars). Container exports from China are now recovering, container exports from the U.S. remain deep in contraction. This week again intermodal continued in expansion year-over-year and continues on a strengthening trendline. Carloads are still in contraction year-over-year this week – but nearing positive territory.”

Inflation: “November 2020 Producer Price Final Demand Continues To Show Modest Year-over-Year Growth” [Econintersect]. “Year-over-year inflation pressures remain soft as this index is barely in expansion.”

Employment Situation:

* * *

Retail: “McDonald’s Happy Meals could get more expensive next year” [CNN]. “McDonald’s is eliminating a two-decade-old deal with its franchisees that subsidized the price of Happy Meal toys for customers. That could mean pricier Happy Meals next year. Beginning next year, McDonald’s will stop issuing a roughly $300 per month contribution to each of its 14,000 US restaurants called the ‘Happy Meal Rent and Service Fee,’ according to an internal message from its US leadership obtained by CNN Business. The chain told franchisees the subsidy is ‘no longer fueling growth in the way it once was’ and that franchisees could opt to increase the price of a Happy Meal by 20 cents next year to offset. McDonald’s doesn’t set the prices of its menu items, bur rather lets franchisees decide depending on location. The National Owners Association, a group of McDonald’s franchisees, said in a team message that it ‘does not support, nor did we endorse’ the elimination of the Happy Meal subsidy…. Tensions are flaring once again between franchisees and corporate over that subsidy loss and new fees coming into place next year.” • “Rent and Service Fee.” Also, “team message.”

UPDATE Retail: “Premium Chocolate Emerges as Winner in Pandemic” [Bloomberg]. “Chocolate has emerged as one product that consumers won’t do without in trying times. The U.S. market for it expanded at unusually fast double-digit rates in June and July and it was still higher than pre-Covid growth levels in September, according to Sanford C. Bernstein, which cited Nielsen data.” • Go long gold tinfoil….

UPDATE Manufacturing: “Looking for an edge in vaccines, Thermo Fisher plots major expansions across global manufacturing sites in its portfolio” [Endpoints News]. “In a big year for contract manufacturers, Massachusetts’ Thermo Fisher Scientific has emerged as a leading partner for drugmakers fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly in diagnostics and therapeutics. Now, buoyed by that success and looking to scale up its vaccine offerings, Thermo Fisher is plotting big expansion across its global portfolio. Thermo Fisher will expand its facilities in Greenville, NC; Ferentino and Monza, Italy; and Swindon, England, to expand its range of offerings for customers”whether it’s an emerging biotech working on a vaccine for a novel virus or a high-volume pharmaceutical manufacturer delivering necessary medicines at scale,” a spokesperson told Endpoints News.”

UPDATE “Toyota’s game-changing solid-state battery en route for 2021 debut” [Manufacturing]. “A trip of 500 km on one charge. A recharge from zero to full in 10 minutes. All with minimal safety concerns. The solid-state battery being introduced by Toyota promises to be a game changer not just for electric vehicles but for an entire industry. The technology is a potential cure-all for the drawbacks facing electric vehicles that run on conventional lithium-ion batteries, including the relatively short distance traveled on a single charge as well as charging times. Toyota plans to be the first company to sell an electric vehicle equipped with a solid-state battery in the early 2020s. The world’s largest automaker will unveil a prototype next year. The electric vehicles being developed by Toyota will have a range more than twice the distance of a vehicle running on a conventional lithium-ion battery under the same conditions. All accomplished without sacrificing interior space in even the most compact vehicle.”

Supply Chain: “The Future of the U.S. National Stockpile Isn’t a Bigger Stockpile” [Bloomberg]. “[T]he stockpile must evolve toward embracing the modern-day logistics of supply and demand, says Robert Kadlec, HHS assistant secretary for preparedness and response. We can’t predict what the next bug or disaster will be, so the U.S. needs ‘a set of capabilities that give our country an advantage to be able to respond quickly,’ he says. ‘That’s not a number of masks or boxes on a shelf. That’s something that requires a little more science and art put together to develop.’ For one thing, traditional stockpiling has logistical limits. If the national stockpile were to hold enough N95 masks for the 1918 influenza pandemic, adjusted for today’s population, it would have 3.5 billion, which would ‘fill up every warehouse in the U.S.,’ says Greg Burel, who was director of the stockpile from 2007 to January 2020. The future of the stockpile, Kadlec says, is about having ‘better visibility into the supply chain to know what’s out there and what is available, and how do we respond in a way that is timely and effective.’ He says the federal government should enter into contracts with key distributors that it would pay to share information on their supply chain, manage some of the national stockpile’s supplies, and agree to assist in future emergencies.” • The idea that you have to pay for visibility into the supply chain is interesting…

Mr. Market: “Investors Risk Being Shipwrecked on Shiller’s Cape” [John Authers, Bloomberg]. ” Very briefly, a CAPE is like a normal P/E, except that it compares prices with the inflation-adjusted average of earnings over the previous 10 years. This corrects for the tendency of P/Es to be higher when profits are cyclically depressed, and lower when they are at a top. The CAPE became famous after Robert Shiller of Yale University put it at the center of an argument in 1999 that U.S. equities had formed a bubble that was about to burst…. The CAPE also helped spot the risk of a big equity sell-off ahead of the global financial crisis. Since then, the CAPE has returned to extremes, and currently is higher even than it was on the eve of the Great Crash of 1929. Does this mean another bubble is about to pop? Last week Shiller published an article introducing the “Excess CAPE Yield,” which is the inverse of the CAPE (earnings over price) minus the 10-year bond yield. This number is very high at present, and as this chart shows, that implies equities are a great bet to beat bonds in the years ahead, even though they are so expensive in absolute terms…” • I don’t play the ponies, but if I did, this might be a controversy to look into.

The Fed: “A Letter From 9 Million U.S. Expats to Janet Yellen” [Bloomberg]. • Making it impossible to live here yet impractical to go seems very on-brand for the United States just now.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 77 Extreme Greed (previous close: 89 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 85 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Dec 10 at 12:03pm.

Health Care

“US to get COVID-19 vaccines 1st because it’s ‘epicenter’ of pandemic, biggest investor: Official” [ABC]. “But notably, the official also offered another key reason: ‘The United States is the epicenter of the pandemic. We are the country that has the most cases, the highest percentage of COVID rates. It is very important for us to make sure that Americans receive this vaccine and receive it first,’ the official said in an interview. Under an executive order President Donald Trump signed Tuesday, the U.S. will begin providing vaccines overseas once the domestic demand has been satisfied.” • Indeed, we are exceptional.

“The Missing Piece In America’s COVID-19 Isolation And Quarantine Strategy: Wraparound Services” [Health Affairs]. “An important missing piece in the US’s case-based disease control strategy is the provision of wraparound services to support those who need to isolate or quarantine. Specifically, to safely comply with isolation and quarantine requests, patients may need assistance in three key areas: access to isolation and quarantine hotels for those who cannot safely physically distance themselves from household members at home; connections to health care services to ensure better clinical outcomes; and delivery of meals, pharmacy services, financial support, and other services to prevent unnecessary trips and in-person interaction. Failing to provide these services creates disincentives for patients to comply with public health isolation and quarantine requests.” • For your typical working class adult, how about “wraparound services” (great jargon) for the entire family?

“The face-mask seat: a South Korean student’s attempt to recycle in COVID times” [Reuters]. “othered by the waste caused by disposable face masks, many of which are made of polypropylene, the South Korean furniture design student has come up with an eco-friendly solution, melting them to make stools he calls ‘Stack and Stack.’ ‘Plastic is recyclable, so why don’t we recycle face masks, which are made of plastic?’ the 23-year-old said. In June, Kim set up a mask collection box at his school, the Kaywon University of Art and Design in Uiwang city, south of Seoul. He has since gathered 10,000 used masks, and has received more than a tonne of defective ones from a factory as well. To lessen the risk of coronavirus transmission, Kim keeps them in storage for at least four days. Then, removing elastic bands and wires, he wields a heat gun over the masks in a mould, melting them down at temperatures over 300 degrees Celsius (570 degrees Fahrenheit). The result? Three-legged stools 45cm (18 inches) recycled from white, pink, blue and black masks, which Kim displayed in his graduation exhibition.” • Plastic stools are ubiquitous in South and Southeast Asia, so this is a keen idea. (I still wish for filtration material that was plant-based and biodegradable, though.)

As an aerosol believer, I think we should all pay great attention to the flow and condition of air indoors, but I confess I have no concrete suggestions for winter; it’s unpleasant (and costly) to open the windows when it’s cold. Apparently, low humidity makes it easier for the virus to spread, so if you have radiators, be sure to put a pan of water on top of each one. If anybody has thought through a winter system for covid, I’m sure readers would love to hear it. I don’t think the “six feet apart” mantra is enough; we need to think about air flow. For example, does the virus concentrate in “dead air,” like dust balls?

The Biosphere

“These Trees Are Not What They Seem” [Bloomberg]. “The Nature Conservancy recruits landowners and enrolls its own well-protected properties in carbon-offset projects, which generate credits that give big companies an inexpensive way to claim large emissions reductions. In these transactions, each metric ton of reduced emissions is represented by a financial instrument known as a carbon offset. The corporations buy the offsets, with the money flowing to the landowners and the Conservancy. The corporate buyers then use those credits to subtract an equivalent amount of emissions from their own ledgers…. Now, with an increasing number of companies looking for creative ways to cut emissions, the nonprofit has accelerated its work on carbon projects. But a review of hundreds of pages of documents underpinning those projects and interviews with a half-dozen participating landowners indicate that the Conservancy is often preserving forested lands that don’t need defending. ‘For the credits to be real, the payment needs to induce the environmental benefit,’ says Danny Cullenward, a lecturer at Stanford and policy director at CarbonPlan, a nonprofit that analyzes climate solutions. If the Conservancy is enrolling landowners who had no intention of cutting their trees, he adds, “they’re engaged in the business of creating fake carbon offsets.'” • Maybe I should just file carbon offsets under The Bezzle all the time…


“How the first life on Earth survived its biggest threat — water” [Nature]. “[L]ife’s cornerstone molecules break down in water. This is because proteins, and nucleic acids such as DNA and RNA, are vulnerable at their joints. Proteins are made of chains of amino acids, and nucleic acids are chains of nucleotides. If the chains are placed in water, it attacks the links and eventually breaks them. In carbon chemistry, ‘water is an enemy to be excluded as rigorously as possible’, wrote the late biochemist Robert Shapiro in his totemic 1986 book Origins, which critiqued the primordial ocean hypothesis. This is the water paradox. Today, cells solve it by limiting the free movement of water in their interiors, says synthetic biologist Kate Adamala at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. For this reason, popular images of the cytoplasm — the substance inside the cell — are often wrong. ‘We are taught that cytoplasm is just a bag that holds everything, and everything is swimming around,’ she adds. ‘That’s not true, everything is incredibly scaffolded in cells, and it’s scaffolded in a gel, not a water bag.’ If living things keep water controlled, then the implication, say many researchers, is obvious. Life probably formed on land, where water was only intermittently present.”


“A New Horizon of Animal Crossing Conspiracy Theories” [Kotaku]. “Look, we already know how great, amazing, blissful, etc. life in the Animal Crossing universe can be, especially when you compare it to this mess of a simulation some say is reality…. [A}t some point, running errands for your charming squirrel neighbor ain’t enough to distract you from the slight, yet noticeable, cracks in this handheld utopia. Perhaps some things are too good to be true. In this spooky sequel to Animal Crossing: Conspiracy Theories, we ask and attempt to answer a new set of questions we just can’t shake. Who, or what, exactly is Jack, the self-proclaimed Czar of Halloween? Whatever happened to the original mayor in 2012’s Animal Crossing: New Leaf, who peaced out and ditched you with the job? We are the only human resident in our towns, yet not once do the other villagers mention it. In fact, no one ever calls you a ‘human.’ So… are we?”

Department of Feline Felicity

From The Department of Papers Not In Fact Written:

Bible Corner

“Why Did These Millennials Leave Church?” [The American • Holy moley. Say what you like about Rod Dreher, but he can certainly elicit reader mail. This is a must read. Perhaps not all, but at least the few at the start. The United States is a very large and very disparate country.

Book Nook

“How the Slowest Computer Programs Illuminate Math’s Fundamental Limits” [Quantum]. “As Turing noted in 1936, in order to compute something, a Turing machine must eventually halt — it can’t get trapped in an infinite loop…. [I]f you’re only allowed one rule, and you want to ensure that the Turing machine halts, you’re forced to include the halt instruction right away. The busy beaver number of a one-rule machine, or BB(1), is therefore 1. But adding just a few more rules instantly blows up the number of machines to consider. Of 6,561 possible machines with two rules, the one that runs the longest — six steps — before halting is the busy beaver. But some others simply run forever. None of these are the busy beaver, but how do you definitively rule them out? Turing proved that there’s no way to automatically tell whether a machine that runs for a thousand or a million steps won’t eventually terminate. That’s why finding busy beavers is so hard. There’s no general approach for identifying the longest-running Turing machines with an arbitrary number of instructions; you have to puzzle out the specifics of each case on its own. In other words, the busy beaver game is, in general, ‘uncomputable.'” • Neat!

“Kim Stanley Robinson Imagines a Future Where We Don’t All Die” [Jacobin]. “Although the notion of commandeering finance to solve the ecological crisis is perhaps the biggest single idea deployed, there is no silver bullet in The Ministry, no magic carbon sequestering technology that will save us on its own. In this tale, a combination of strategies and policies by state and nonstate actors, including mass uprisings, geoengineering, and Green New Deals weave together to create conditions by mid-century to at least give humanity a fighting chance at long-term survival.” • Dang. Another book to read. I really enjoyed “KSR’s” New York 2140, and a hat tip to the reader who suggested it.

Xmas Pregame Activities

“We Need To Talk About Your Christmas ‘Decorations'” [Tressie McMillan Cottom]. “This is the first time I have encountered holiday decorating as subculture and identity. I am talking animated displays, layered twinkle lights and displays set to music.” • With photos of the displays, which seem… odd, to me. The culture changed, and I missed it. More: “If you’re going to give up, give up deliberately. Give up with STYLE! Skip the lights and the Polar Bear Express display. Buy a onesie, turn off all the porch lights and get drunk. That’s called self-respect.” • Not getting drunk in a onesie. Sorry, but no. The culture changed again on me.

Class Warfare

“Eviction crisis looms as millions rely on federal moratorium expiring this month” [ABC]. “Of the 44 states that implemented eviction moratoriums since March, 27 lifted them before September, resulting in an estimated 433,700 excess COVID-19 cases and 10,700 excess deaths, according to a recent study.”

“Do foreign-educated nurses displace native-educated nurses?’ [IZA Journal of Labor Policy]. “Taken together, the findings suggest that relying on foreign-educated nurses to fill gaps in the US health-care workforce does not harm the employment of native nurses, but rather the entry of foreign-educated nurses to the US nursing market causes an increase in native wages in the long run.”

“Within a decade you may be working with an avatar or a digital twin” [CNBC]. “‘I think workforces will adopt hybrid models where some people will be at the office live in-person, and others will be working remotely. Eventually we will be able to use augmented and virtual reality to improve the way we interact with one another in the workplace virtually,’ [Paul Jacobs, former CEO and executive chairman of Qualcomm] said, noting it will help humanize the remote work experience.” • No, it won’t. These freaks think it will because they already experience reality as virtual.

News of the Wired

How the Slowest Computer Programs Illuminate Math’s Fundamental Limits Quanta

Update on Sid and Fern:

Kill it with fire:

I put this tweet next to Sid and Fern because it occurred to me that one reason these… things elicit such lust to say (if one can kill what is dead) is that while occupying the mental space of animals, they cannot express emotions; they cannot snarl. They have no hackles to raise. I don’t know whether this is Uncanny Valley or something different.

* * *

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 (TH):

TH writes: “This tree is our neighbor in Running Springs (San Bernardino Mountains—California). The texture of the bark, and the apparent presence of acorns within it, so amazed me that I had to research it. Apparently this is known as a granary tree, where acorn woodpeckers store acorns. According to a May 2016 article by Tao Tao Holmes on an “Atlas Obscura” blog, the Acorn Woodpeckers (gee, I wonder where they got that name) use trees, posts, and wood-sided houses (we can attest to that last one) to store acorns that, stored in piles, would mold. And apparently they spend a huge amount of time moving the acorns (that shrink after they dry) to smaller holes. The woodpeckers chose the right habitat. All of the street names in this area are named after various oaks, including the large Valley Oak that shades our house and may well be the parent of these younger oaks beside this pine, and the primary source for this particular granary.”

* * *

Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the recently concluded and — thank you! — successful annual NC fundraiser. So if you see a link you especially like, or an item you wouldn’t see anywhere else, please do not hesitate to express your appreciation in tangible form. Remember, a tip jar is for tipping! Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of donations helps me with expenses, and I factor in that trickle when setting fundraising goals:

Here is the screen that will appear, which I have helpfully annotated.

If you hate PayPal, you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check. Thank you!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Guest Post, Water Cooler on by .

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. fresno dan


    It is one of this state’s poorest counties, and one of its least educated. Its population of some 130,000 people is also, though, one of the most broadly diverse in the nation—42.3 percent American Indian, 30.6 percent white, 23.6 percent black, with a growing Hispanic presence as well.

    Trump and his campaign targeted voters regardless of their racial differences with his rural-resonant messages of social conservatism—pro-gun, pro-life, pro-military—and anti-NAFTA broadsides that are catnip for an electorate that blames free trade agreements and globalization for shuttered factories and a sinking standard of living. The campaign also added to the equation a hyperspecific and transactional component: very publicly backing the federal recognition the Lumbee have been seeking since the 1800s. Finally, Trump and his most prominent surrogates kept showing up, a persistence that crested with Trump’s rally in the county seat a week and a half before the election—something no sitting president had ever done here.
    Wow. Its like a – what do you call it – a specific goodie…a great benefit…..a material entitlement??? Well, whatever its called, it seems to work. Maybe the dems could try it…NAH, what am I thinking?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Trump and his campaign targeted voters regardless of their racial differences with his rural-resonant messages of social conservatism—pro-gun, pro-life, pro-military—and anti-NAFTA broadsides that are catnip for an electorate that blames free trade agreements and globalization for shuttered factories and a sinking standard of living.

      Thanks, this is a great link I didn’t have time to get to. What triumphalist liberal Democrats don’t seem to realize is that Trump nearly pulled this one out; and if he’d been a more disciplined candidate hammering the populist themes again, I bet he would have. And it took a billion dollars funding Biden plus a plague to drag him over the finish line. Anybody want to give odds on Harris 2024? Or are the wheels going to fall off the wagon before that?

      1. fresno dan

        Lambert Strether
        December 11, 2020 at 3:38 pm

        I’ve said this before – and I would really appreciate your thoughts – Trump apparently was all for another Covid relief bill before the election. So in not getting that relief bill, which I believe would have easily gotten Trump re-elected, was it really the repubs who put the shank in Trump, or was it…wait for it….keep waiting…bipartisan ;)

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > bipartisan ;)

          Bipartisan, with Pelosi making the running.

          Bonus points handling the corporate stuff immediately in the CARES Act, punting the working class stuff to the sleazily named HEROES Act, and then deep-sixing the HEROES Act.

          Master legislator!

      2. Pat

        I am betting on before that.

        You are forgetting being able to campaign from a distance in pushing him over the line. For all that Trump alienated a lot of people, he also had a whole lot of people who liked him. Biden does not play well in Peoria so to speak. Very few people LIKE Biden, sorry Bernie. Very few of his votes were FOR him. The more people experience Biden, the less they are going to like him, same with Harris.

        And that isn’t even considering that more people are hurting than ever AND they are losing patience with the government.

        Nope it is going to be a bloodbath unless they reject the status quo and how many of us see that happening.

      3. dcblogger

        unless dramatic action is taken, millions of Americans will be made homeless beginning January 1. The wheels might come off by March. I wonder if this is what it must have felt like in St Petersburg in Christmas 1916.

        1. edmondo

          This theory would explain why people no one seems to have lobbied for keep getting important jobs, as Fudge did at HUD…

          What could Marcia Fudge be thinking? Why would you take this job? There will be zero help coming from Congress and Biden will be napping about 20 hours a day while Mitch McConnell decides what color tie Old Joe should wear that day. Marcia Fudge will go down in history as the Secretary of Housing that lost more homeowners than Obama did. That’s quite a legacy.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          I expect continued volatility. I am not sanguine at all.

          I grant that the Obama Alumni Association is, on the average, more competent at “governance” than the Trump Administration, which just couldn’t find good help (like Bush the Younger’s administration before them, although they had the advantage of the remnants of the Reagan/Bush the Elder’s networks).

          However, I think they have a conception of “leadership” that involves getting the various parts of our creaky system to work together for a given policy goal, while changing the system as a whole minimally. (That’s why they want Czars for everything; to do the wrangling.) That’s what Klain did, for example. The West Wing is full of that.)

          That leadership model can work for a single crisis. I don’t see it working for multiple, overlapping, simultaneous crises, which is what we have now. It’s also slow. There are two forces I can see that are working very fast: One is the enormously empowered “billionaire class.” The other is the loony right. So there are two additional elements to add to the crisis.

          I look at the collection of mediocrities in the Biden cabinet, and I don’t see how they can cope. In fact, I wonder if they are intended to cope.

          Adding, boy howdy are the midterms gonna be ugly.

      4. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

        So very true. And I find it curious that in his re-election bid and unlike 2016, Trump-while reaching out to constituents ‘of color’, made zero effort to speak to that segment of the electorate that is angry about all the things readers of this page are angry about? Gone was the Trump who glibly spoke ugly truths about how Hillary used to regularly come to kiss his ring for campaign donations. The Trump who decried ‘endless war’. Instead, we got the message of George II “W” coming out of The Apprentice’s mouth. Enough people are fed up with anti-abortion, pro-business and ritual bashing of China, Russia, or Iran. But wait till Sloppy Joe gets in there-it’s going to be full force bombs away. Because what could go wrong?
        Maybe the power elite felt that having a man who clearly suffers advanced dementia in office when the wheels of the economy go into the ditch would be preferable. Then there’s no one to really blame but a ghost.

      5. Ron Grissman

        What – he lost the popular vote this time & the last time as did Bush. There is a trend alright. And it not is, Republicans are my friends. Nor liberals. Can we agree to this and move on?

        1. JBird4049

          Becomes President again in 2024 as I don’t see Biden lasting the full term although since he does go to Bethesda and has access to all the latest treatments…

      6. polecat

        I see the wagon pitching into that icy blu creek. Whether anyone suffers injury, or worse .. well, hard to tell. The creek will get muddied though, probably more than once .. especially if some supremely courtly folk spit init!

    2. D. Fuller

      After Ronald Reagan signed 1986 immigration reform that included citizenship for millions of “illegal” immigrants? Headlines quickly trumpeted that Democrats would soon benefit from a demographic shift. In the 2000’s, Democrats were convinced that they would become the permanent majority party due to demographic shifts.

      Trump managed to increase his votes, however slightly, among Minorities as evidenced by Venezuelans & Cuban descendants. Politics for one. With many Hispanics being religious Conservatives. Not the only 2 reasons, of course. There are many. Such as Obama caging children.

      Slogan politics. It has been 34 years since 1986 and the headlines. Resulting in Democrats looking to be the permanent MINORITY party. Such all depends on what issues Republicans pursue in addition to what candidates Republicans put forth. The future of the Democratic Party is almost solely in the hands of Republicans. If Republicans go over the cliff? Democrats have a chance. In that scenario, the current balance of power in Congress & Government will seesaw between either party.

      Otherwise, if Republicans put forth – on the surface – a populist message and reasonable candidates? The Democratic Party will increasingly become a party of LOSERS. With legacy Democrats such as Schumer & Pelosi more concentrated on maintaining their claws on power, while sacrificing junior Democratic Congress Members in backroom deals with Republican majority leadership (ex. New York and Cuomo and his deals with NY Republicans over NY Legislative seats). One other example of senior Democratic Leadership sacrificing junior Democrats? The DNC & DCCC have abandoned State parties. Instead preferring “Hollywood Celebrity” Politics of spending vast sums of money on a select few – as evidenced by races such as Ossoff in 2018 and Amy McGrath recently or the delusions of Democrats turning Texas into a Blue State (which they can’t do until the actually fund State committees adequately).

      Democratic Party Leaderships are playing to lose in 2022. I would not be surprised to see 60 Republican Senators in two years with House leadership firmly in the hands of Republicans. With a consequent win in 2024, of The Presidency. This will depend on the quality of Republican candidates and their messaging and how they play the blame game over dysfunctional government.

      The Biden Administration picks are the usual suspects of lobbyists, corporate prostitutes, and Wall Street. Which Republicans will be able to take advantage of if Democratic leadership can not hide their grifting with plausible deniability – something Trump never could do.

      1. Stephen C.

        Funny how on Zerohedge they blather about the immigration law of, I think ’65, and conveniently skip over Saint Reagan in ’86.

        1. D. Fuller

          Or how Reagan sold arms to Iran, or Reagan Administration was one of the most lawless in history judging by number of convicted officials, or how Reagan Admin officials helped create the crack cocaine epidemic in America with the Contra part of Iran-Contra (and incidentally led to the rise of MS-13 in L.A. in 1987), etc.

          The Saint Reagan that was installed by the Moral Majority, itself the creation of a Nazi loving Paul Weyrich along with actual Nazi – through the Hungarian Arrow Party of WWII – Lazlo Pasztor, both being involved in the creation of The Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute.

          With Pasztor last being seen in the White House in 2005.

          There are many, many issues Republicans skip over from 1980-1988. About as much as Democrats skip over the very Republican Wet Dream Administration of Bill Clinton.

  2. Wukchumni

    Day 38 of the ‘I Ran Hostage Crisis’

    In what many are saying is his Hail Mary throw that only reached midfield before falling harmlessly to the turf, who would have thought Trump would go for a full court press on law secession in other states via the Lone Star state, but here we are waste deep in the big muddy and the big fool said to push on.

    1. edmondo

      Look on the bright side: The more time he spends on this nonsense, the lesss time he has to sign executive orders.

      1. ambrit

        Yeah, but he does have the habit of signing the occasional pro-public executive order, something “Creepy” Joe has explicitly rejected.
        I’m thinking that Trump’s more ‘organized’ minions are laying the groundwork for a “Return of Russiagate” strategy with which to hobble the Biden Democrat Administration.
        Turnabout is fair play.

  3. Mikel

    RE: “Why Did These Millennials Leave Church?” [The American • Holy moley.

    Yeah, lots of cults out there.

    1. Wukchumni

      There’s a fateful scary urgency of the evangs to make their self-fulfilling prophecies came true and only 40 days & 40 nights to pull it off and they’ll never get another chance such as this one, making it even more desirous.

      They lusted so hard for the political brass-ring since Carter, finally grabbed hold of it tight and don’t want to relinquish it, combined with the loss of interest in young adults walking the dogma, kind of the same thing thats happening in hobbies with a broad decline in interest-albeit with less masturbating.

      1. ambrit

        Oh, come on Wukchumni. Whilst one is a teen, masturbation is not a hobby; it is a vocation.
        While working in the French Quarter, lo these many years ago, being ‘cruised’ by gays or propositioned by ‘loose women’ was something one became accustomed to, and, truth be told, somewhat blase about.
        The really surprising “come on” I got happened years later while on a “Hay Ride” sponsored by a local Evang church. I was chaperoning our kids and some others. The proposition came from a married woman keeping eye over another flock of children.
        Another ‘interesting’ “family” I knew a bit was a man and his two sons who worked at a plumbing contractor I also worked for. This group were part of a “blended family” structure. The husbands and wives shifted around while the children were managed in a sort of creche organization. They all went to the same Evang church. The oldest son said that the arrangement was not unique to his Dad and Mom in that church.
        Then there are the “Children of God,” later known simply as “The Family.”
        See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Family_International

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > The proposition came from a married woman keeping eye over another flock of children.

          The stronger the rule, the greater the thrill in breaking it.

          Trying to read through the children’s words to the adult behaviors, it would seem that the evangelicals are having problems similar to those the Catholic church had (has?). Maybe this sort of thing is a danger wherever there is a power structure to be found, I don’t know. After all, if the point isn’t pure power, perhaps the point is impure power.

          1. ambrit

            I am working from a circumscribed set of observations, here being mainly American Protestant groups.
            The tell to me is the prevalence of ribald humour at the expense of religious “elders” of all denominations. Jokes from American Black Protestants about the salacious behaviours of Church Elders are a staple of the formerly “fringe” blue comedians. The same is true about American White Protestants, but more ‘underground’ in nature.
            I personally knew, through business connections, a Deacon of a Protestant Evangelical Church who ended up nearly going to prison for having sexual relations with one of the young teen girls in his Sunday School class. (By young, I mean fourteen.) Everyone who knew the persons involved agreed that the relations were mutually consensual. The question of the age of consent was a major point of contention in the community wrangle resulting from this case. Later, the Principal of the local Junior High School, (which place we had already decided to keep our children out of, for cultural reasons,) was arrested for the exact same crime.
            I’ll second your observation that much of this sort of behaviour is based upon power relations.
            In the cases of religious institutions being involved, I’ll add that the continuing influences of Social Patriarchy come into play. Sexual exploitation is almost exclusively a male instigated action. Females will act as enablers, for various reasons, but I seldom read about women instigating abusive sexual relationships. Perhaps that’s a result of internal bias, but there it is.

    2. D. Fuller

      Church was boring at the Southern Baptist Church I attended. My grandmother always had to pinch me to keep me awake. Until the pastor – who always had the best house & a new car every year or every other year – mentioned that God came to him and spoke to him, that The Last Temptation of Christ was a work of the Devil and anyone who watched that movie would be forever be eternally damned to Hell. Before the movie was even out.

      At which point I realized that the pastor was insane. Not that I ever believed in God in any meaningful way ever.

      My experience with Evangelical Churches and organized faith – mostly dealing with Christians – is that Evangelical Churches are great places for sexual appetites running the full spectrum; from kinky to criminal. Not that I participate because I don’t. However, I always do catch the conversations of people I know who attend church. Detailing their exploits – from a Satanist friend of mine bedding multiple women – including married women – at a Fundie Church in Las Vegas to WA State where the Fundie Church was the best place for gay sex & swinging.

      Never mind the deviancy often found in Southern Baptist Churches, running the gamut from sex in the graveyard to sexual assault between children being classified as “horseplay” – especially if it is male-on-male.

      Best sex club in town? Go to the local Fundie Church. It is the place for predators. I’ve known too many people who have been abused while attending Church.

      However, I will say that not all churches are the same. The menu of sexual relations available differs between congregations gathering at single locations.

      Abuse – physical, sexual, emotional – is not only limited to Churches. What I do know is? That most people I have known who have been abused or would be classified as sexual deviants? Related to a Church.

      1. Anonymous

        Share your skepticism of so-called “Christian” churches.

        But God has not left Himself without a true witness and as banal as that may seem to be He wrote it in a Book!

        But what translation? I have my favorite but any reputable translation should do IF the entire Book is read so as to establish context. And, per the Bible, there is the Spirit of Truth to guide us.

        1. D. Fuller

          One translation of the Bible IIRC is the NIV. Itself, copyrighted. I once tried to get a Christian to acknowledge that the Bible was actually copyrighted by reading the copyright.

          He refused to utter the printed words of copyright in the Bible he was holding. Denying REALITY.

      2. Janie

        Luck of the draw. Growing up in Oklahoma and Texas, with close connections in neighboring states, in the late forties to mid-fifties, we all went to Sunday School (main-line protestant) regularly. Never did I encounter any come-ons, much less abuse, lessons about sex were absent – focus on Golden Rule, Good Samaritan, nor did any of my friends mention any such. There was no reluctance to attend; it was a social thing. I never was much of a believer, but I do recall some good life lessons from some wise adults who set good examples. IOW, I do not attend now, but I do not regret those years.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          To a certain extent, luck can be made. My sisters and I were roasting my father’s inability to remember or bother to learn our friend’s names despite being the kind of person who chaperoned for field trips and so forth. At some point, my dad responded he never watched any of the kids, but he knew or set out to know the situation with every adult going on field trips or what have you.

          When you read about the priest abuse scandal, the priests were not abusing kids like me, not that the monsignor would do anything untoward. The environment where that can happen can and is out there. I feel like what the church is selling matters and what environment its fostering matters.


          I read an article like this, and I’m just kind of left with the thought, “what did they expect?”

          When I think about the priest abuse scandal, I can see the people who would be the enablers all over, but to a certain extent, they were held in check. Like anything, it takes a village to keep those people position where they can only make good choices. Don’t give them an opportunity to be wrong.

          One of the abusive priests in the list put out by the Richmond Diocese was at my old church when I was little. I don’t really remember him because he wasn’t the main priest, but I do know my mom didn’t like one of the priests when I was little. It was the one on the list.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Would it be crass of me to mention that the Prime Minister of Australia is a member of the Hillsong church here and that he takes it seriously? I have seen film clips of him doing the whole hand in the air routine. For context, our PMs are only expected to be nominally religious and not to have it effect their political positions so this is new.

            1. Foy

              No it wouldn’t Rev. Hillsong is the perfect church for a marketing guy with its focus on wealth, riches, and outward appearances. I don’t think most people knew that he was of that church when he was elected. Might have known he was a Christian, but not Hillsong Christian. I find that prosperity Christianity scary, how the reconcile its concepts with Jesus’s words is beyond me.

              1. The Rev Kev

                Yeah, feel the same way that you do. I would even prefer it when you had a Julia Gillard who came out and said that she was an atheist. But having a happy clapper in a prosperity Christianity church is offsetting. Especially when early in the pandemic he was found steering funds towards that church from Federal coffers.

              2. skippy

                Whilst scanning the idiot box I took a quick peak at the Hillsong channel, only to find some young man being interviewed. Basically it was about how his relationship with Jesus was sorted and all he needed to accept was Gods “business plan” for him.

                If the IPA was to have a religious component this mob would be it.

                  1. Anonymous

                    But note in the very next chapter that Zaccheus only promised to give away half of his wealth, not all: “And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham.” Luke 19:9

                    Luke 18:22 used to terrorize me but all I had to do was read the next chapter to see I wasn’t getting something right.

              3. Anonymous

                Prosperity isn’t the problem; the problem is indifference to justice.

                And that comes from ignoring the Bible, especially the Old Testament, lest the bankers and rentiers in the 1st row be offended.

        2. D. Fuller

          I traveled a lot during my lifetime. I’ve met them all. Some Churches are really nice. Most? Well… especially in the last 20 years? Are not so nice. I chalk that up to rise of Dominionism (i.e. wealth = God’s power) and as Christians have become far more politically active since the very late 1960’s – though my time really begins in the 1980’s. Power & Money corrupt.

          I’m concerned about the charismatic Fundamentalist Churches and their extremism that seems to breed all sorts of societal problems.

          My Grandmother we joked was conceived a Southern Baptist. Sometime around 1905-1911 since no birth certificate was issued. She once commented about going to Church how everyone know wore jeans and semi-formal shirts, how they did not respect God anymore. We always dressed in our Sunday’s finest.

        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Growing up in Oklahoma and Texas, with close connections in neighboring states, in the late forties to mid-fifties, we all went to Sunday School (main-line protestant) regularly. Never did I encounter any come-ons, much less abuse, lessons about sex were absent – focus on Golden Rule, Good Samaritan, nor did any of my friends mention any such. There was no reluctance to attend; it was a social thing.

          This describes my Midwest experience in the late 50s early 60s.

      3. km

        I must be boring, because the most exciting thing that ever happened to me in church was the time a slightly batty friend of my mother kissed me hard on the neck when I was a teenager. I wasn’t so much skeezed out as surprised.

        The church youth groups i was dragged to as a child weren’t creepy. They were deathly dull.

        If the Orthodox churches that I have attended as an adult were secret repositories of power, privilege and sex, they sure hide this well.

        1. Wukchumni

          My house of worship amidst granite pews was and is a real swingers hangout with everybody on the make, and the biggest orgy of all should go off without a hitch @ Ladybug Camp in Sequoia NP where from January to March there are hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of them getting it on, and the area they typically can be seen wasn’t burned by the recent Castle Fire, luckily.

          There have been many times we’ve had to turn around, because each step forward would squash 50, they are so numerous.

      4. Lambert Strether Post author

        > the pastor – who always had the best house & a new car every year or every other year

        It has occurred to me that one reason there was so much pressure to keep churches open was to keep the collection plates circulating.

    3. marieann

      I grew up catholic in Scotland in the 50’s. All the horrible stories coming out now of the abuse by priests makes me glad that our 2 priests were “just” alcoholics.

      I gave it up when I was around 15 and never went back.
      I think Jesus was a nice guy but his followers just didn’t understand the bit about love one another.

    4. Amfortas the hippie

      reminded me of where i grew up…near east texas, north of houston.
      1980’s, and that area was a sort of spawning ground for the hatching of the gop’s religious right legions.
      suddenly “nondenominational” was a thing…”church” in someone’s living room was a thing…and fervent weeping “grace” in bland, puce carpeted rentals in failed stripmalls were a thing.
      some of these disparate experiments got legs, and turned into mini-mega churches, often built(apparently) by the same folks that made cattle auction barns.
      the most popular one in my home town had a big, white rock out in front of it, taught that music(and musical instruments) were of the devil, and talked about sex all the damned time(i went with several girls, trying to get laid…but decided that , if they were so into all that, maybe i really didn’t want them, after all)
      across the highway was an old time snakecharmer church…i went out with the preacher’s daughter for a time…an atheist punk chick, who introduced me to cyperpunk and industrial music(!?).
      she took me to her dad’s “service” so i could meet him after, while he was putting his serpents into their airconditioned tanks for the next “service”.
      in that town, alone, there were at least 30 churches…but no high level sense of morality or ethics to accompany it.
      what we did have was a moral panic(satanic cult scare), and a whole lot of acrimony and scandal, and persecution of weirdos like me.
      i was a “shoulder guy”…a good listener, nonjudgemental…and heard numerous tales just like this…as well as tales of abuse in the home that would shock you.
      i accidentally ran an underground railroad to planned parenthood, south of downtown houston…more tales of debauchery and evil by the pious and holy.
      I like dreher…but i’m not sad at all that the weirder, more pathological of the righty xtianism is failing to “pass on their faith” to the next generation.

      however…not for lack of trying…way out here, like i said, young life is a superspreader…as is the baptist youth groups…and a bunch of the kids that are into all that are sincere about it, rather than trying to get laid.
      but a whole bunch of them go to please(or shut up) their parents, and/or because it’s the only chance they have to get out of the house.
      we lived across the street from young life when we lived in town…and i’d lurk on the front porch sometimes and watch and listen.
      flashbacks to east texas…and the creepiness of the “youth leaders” is, if anything, worse than back then.

      ““And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.”
      (i’ve never heard these words mentioned in any church service i have ever attended)

  4. Pat

    I wonder if at some point in the future the Biden Harris Person of the Year choice will see the current editor or publisher explaining that the choice is not an endorsement but is about influence. Think what we hear about Hitler.*

    And Biden has to lie about their relationship and points in common, this was an arrangement formed in a smoke filled room between power brokers, and he can’t really admit that what they have in common is grift, greed, ambition and a total lack of ethics and conscience.

    *Yes I do consider Biden/Harris to be evil and dangerous, and controllable enough to be the face of powerful interests who desire a totalitarian state.

    1. neo-realist

      And Trump wasn’t a “face of powerful interests who desire a totalitarian state”, with his interest in filing RICO charges against Left activists and organizers?

      1. D. Fuller

        A battle between factions. Both are.

        DLC Biden has the favor of the Koch Bros, the same brothers – one now deceased – who turned on Trump. With Goldman Sachs playing both sides. While Blackrock is swiftly gaining favor among Democratic leaders; not so much among Republicans.

        That is the problem with blanket statements such as “The Deep State” & “Trump the Authoritarian” & “Biden being controllable enough to the face of interests who desire a totalitarian state”.

        No one ever mentions the factions who fight each other, will occasionally cooperate with each other – while hating each other (temporary alliances). Few have ever taken the time to chart the relations between individuals who make up these factions – usually exposed through meetings such as Davos or (formerly) Peter G. Petersen Foundation (D & R leadership loved to hobnob here) advocating Social Security, Medicare cuts along with austerity.

        Republicans & Democrats promote austerity, handing out crumbs, supplying their rich donor bases with endless taxpayer money, and using the Federal budget to buy votes. In an effort to amass wealth & power.

        Key differences between either party?


        Some factions play both sides. Goldman Sachs, for instance.


        Republicans want to gut Social Security & Medicare immediately. Democrats want to take the slow approach – Chained CPI, etc. Sometimes the methods overlap. The goals are the same.


        Enter identity politics. Either The Moral (or Silent) Majority. Or the #Resistance. Either $1200 payoffs to struggling Americans in return for trillions of dollars more to float the Dow and deliver money into the offshore bank accounts of the wealthiest, or to simply achieve the latter.

        Stability also provides legitimacy to either party through voter elections, even when candidates win with less than 50% of ELIGIBLE VOTERS. Most candidates win with a minority of VOTERS who bothered to vote. The plurality of voters usually don’t show up, especially in mid-term elections.

        A typical election would look like this: 47% Voter no-shows, 26% for X Party, 27% for Z Party… Z Party candidate wins. That’s not a majority among all eligible voters. That’s minority rule.

        Talk of the various factions, internal or external to either party? How those factions inter-relate, which factions are continuously shifting alleigances?

        Such in-depth exposes would be detrimental to either party. Shining the focus on those factions, who they donate to, when they switch allegiances, who they currently back? Really do not exist in the public conscience.

        1. Ron Grissman

          Nah, I’m sorry but the any issues around the social-safety net between Republicans & Democrats is as the author of this post often says a feature not a bug. The American oligarchs don’t care one way or the other, creating mischief just comes with the billions. Further, MMT by those in the know and those that matter is a thing. Push comes to shove – fine give the working class some ‘stuff’, not like it’s costing any oligarch anything.

          1. D. Fuller

            So the factions backing either (or both as in the case of Goldman Sachs, for example) party want Social Security gone. That’s something in common they have.

            Factions have their differences. They fight each other. They will even aid each other in the face of a common threat, such as populists, progressives, etc. Before they go back to fighting each other.

            The politicians are the front-men and front-women of the factions. Factions can have an economic agenda, a foreign policy agenda; frequently mixing agendas.

            Hell, when Obama was President, Republicans frequently passed legislation tweaking Medicare with the eventual goal of bankrupting Medicare & Social Security. Obama signed them. That is what most – if not all – factions see as to their benefit.

            Every faction fights for a slice of the taxpayer pie. Some become favored under Administrations & Congresses, others lose some favor. And then the next election… fortunes are reversed.

            Each faction can agree on a goal, disagreeing on how to achieve that goal. This is where buying politicians comes in handy. Let us not pretend that the average Congress Member is not already bought and paid for. Those Congress Members then have to balance their Master’s desires against their own desires (such as seeking re-election or expanding their future access to The Good Life).

            Sometimes, politicians don’t even stay bought.

      2. Pat

        Fair enough, he was named it in 2016.

        And Obama was named twice and suspended habeas corpus and ordered an American citizen killed without trial, we have been on the path to totalitarianism for awhile. But frankly Biden’s history does not bode well for reversing that. He has been a tool for decades, see his history with the Patriot Act.

        1. D. Fuller

          The choice is:

          1. Democratic Party authoritarianism & their brand factions

          2. Republican Party authoritarianism & their brand factions

          With Goldman Sachs & other factions playing both sides of the field – these are the most dangerous actors in American politics. Congress Critters & The President are the politicians who front for their respective factions.

          DC politics is faction warfare with shifting alliances. Until this is brought to the fore of the public conscience?

          We are f****d.

            1. Procopius

              I was expecting Trump to use the precedent set by President Obama to create Proscription Lists (see history of Roman Republic, dictator Sulla). The Office of Legal Council may have presented a ruling that the procedure of directing the killing of anybody, including American citizens. accused of “involvement” with a terrorist organization, without judicial review or due process of law. We don’t know, because apparently some of their rulings are classified (secret law). Apparently that was too much for even Trump to stomach, but I am certain that someday another American President will revive that precedent and use it to kill one or more of his political enemies. Since the OLC has apparently declared the practice legal, the soldiers directed to do so cannot refuse it as an illegal order, which they could/would have before the killing of Anwar al Awlaki and his son (a week later).

      3. albrt

        But Trump was really bad at it, always saying the quiet parts out loud.

        We’ll see if the Harris/Biden ticket does any better.

        1. D. Fuller

          Trump was really bad at it, saying all the quiet parts TOO LOUDLY.

          Which angered Establishment types of his own party, the money-men and money-women.

          They wanted him gone, never a sure thing as that requires voters to vote – the wildcard in the deck.

          Trump is gone. Establishment Politics is back with a vengeance with Biden. It’s a lull in the winter that is coming.

    1. Kurtismayfield

      The economic damage was coming with or without the lockdowns. And you are going to have a hard time seperating the lockdown and the pandemic in any economic analysis.

    2. chris

      Thanks for this. While I agree that we were going to be in for a hard time with or without lock downs, the sheer lack of imagination from our ruling class as to the outcome of the policies they’re pushing is astounding. You’ll notice she’s not saying anything in there about how this means we need UBI and rent assistance now…

    3. D. Fuller

      Yes, and if one bothers to watch the end-of-life interview of Robert McNamara? He admitted his mistakes. He was seeking forgiveness for failures, not showing remorse.

      Add Melinda Gates to that list. There are many names on that list.

      1. caucus99percenter

        Henry Kissinger reportedly was scornful of Robert McNamara’s remorse, according to this account:


        “Boohoo, boohoo,” Kissinger said, pretending to cry and rub his eyes. “He’s still beating his breast, right? Still feeling guilty.” He spoke in a mocking, singsong voice and patted his heart for emphasis.

        Not just a person they regarded as an elder statesman on foreign policy, Kissinger was also someone Bill and Hillary Clinton went on vacations with.

        1. Janie

          Kissinger and Albright. Gah. Gag. Can’t believe they are still around. They rival Strom Thurmond for living forever.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      It’s not the lockdowns as such. China, New Zealand, Thailand all did very well with lockdowns. When you’ve got half-assed lockdowns with no masking requirement, testing and treatment that’s not free, and lots of people still having to go to work, that’s when your lockdown fails. And that’s what we did. Of course, paying people to stay home for 60 or 90 days is anathema to the political class, so our lockdown was bound to fail. As it did.

  5. zagonostra

    >Joe Biden and Kamala Harris: TIME’s Person of the Year 2020 – [Time]

    You really have to be living in la la land to believe any of this tripe. Unfortunately there will be those who feed on this nonsense without the natural reflex to want to vomit. He won because the establishment was on their toes this time around in rigging it so Bernie, who truly represents the policies that the majority of the people want, was effectively derailed – with his complicit cooperation. The vision they speak of is empty rhetoric that anyone who reads NC can easily pierce and that is really aimed at perpetuating the status quo ante (Trump ante that is). This puff piece is a hagiography written for the gullible

    Defeating the Minotaur was one thing; finding the way out of the labyrinth is another

    Biden had the vision, set the tone and topped the ticket. But he also recognized what he could not offer on his own, what a 78-year-old white man could never provide: generational change, a fresh perspective, and an embodiment of America’s diversity. For that, he needed Kamala Harris

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      But all you need to find your way out of the labyrinth after you defeat the Minotaur is some carefully placed thread. Where is Ariadne? … Kamala Harris?

      1. ambrit

        Harris had better be very careful. Ariadne was jilted by her lover and stranded on Naxos if I remember my mythology aright.

    2. D. Fuller

      Trump was simply too incompetent to hide the grift & graft that is a normal part of The DC Establishment. Which led to too much focus on corruption in DC. More than Establishment types are used to.

      Which caused the Establishment – not only Democrats with their fake Russia!Russia!Russia Kookspiracy – to turn on Trump.

      The issue being that the monster that Republican created by allying with religious conservatives (exhibiting deep Persecution/Victim complexes and Perpetual Siege Mentality) through the creation of the Moral Majority – neither Moral nor a Majority. Reinforced by Newt Gingrich and Contract With America – an open declaration of war on Democrats along with promulgation of conspiracy theories befitting an insane asylum.

      Has Establishment Republicans from the top to the bottom, fearing their very own constituency. Fearing for their own lives. Literally.

      Which puts Republicans in a bind.

      Democratic Leadership has their own issues.

      1. The Rev Kev

        The problem with Trump was that he put an ugly face on what Presidents like Obama did even more – like caging kids and throwing Hispanics back across the border. He said the quiet bits out loud like wanting to steal Syria’s oil instead of “liberating” the locals for freedom’s sake. All those liberals that just wanted to go to lunch in peace were forced to see what was really going on and did not have the smooth words of an Obama to mutter stuff about doing things to “some folks.” With Biden in, brunch is now back on the menu.

        1. D. Fuller

          Part of “incompetent to hide(ing) the grift & graft that is a normal part of the DC Establishment”… was that Trump led to too much exposure of the grift & graft… that included Obama’s prior bad acts.

  6. fresno dan


    Why did Barr’s critics misjudge him so badly? Because despite their proclamations of open-mindedness, they have a very limited worldview. Despite their confidence in their ability to see a complicated world of nuance and shades of gray, they’re actually pretty Manichaean in their worldview — you’re either a progressive Democratic good guy or you’re aligned with one of history’s greatest monsters. No one is allowed to be merely mistaken or wrong; ALL of the opposition’s arguments must be made in bad faith and they must be driven by malevolent motives. (emphasis added)
    When I put forward the proposition in this morning links that Barr was a pretty good Attorney General, I had not seen this article. You may not agree with Barr’s policy preferences, but I think a good case can be made that Barr is making his decisions consistently, dispassionately, and trying to do so without fear or favor.
    It may serve the cable “news” shows to have simplistic “commentators” preaching about the evils of the other side, but it is in no way providing critical or objective analysis of the events of the day.

      1. D. Fuller

        Barr is an old school Reagan Republican (Establishment), Iran-Contra conspirator, and government political mercenary. Trump came to represent the anti-Reagan of Establishment Republican politics.

        Which eventually caused Barr to make certain moves, such as possibly concealing the investigation of Hunter Biden before the election. While wholeheartedly pursuing The Left – such as BLM.

        Barr wouldn’t be doing what he is doing without personal & Establishment motivations.

        The Establishment preferred Biden. The Establishment would destroy BLM.

        1. neo-realist

          The establishment will likely take a more non-confrontational approach toward BLM, which won’t have the effect of rallying blacks and woke whites to their cause, e.g., infiltration of the organization by people who lead them astray from fighting the system, co-optation of the leadership w/ $$$ and positions. The soft coup approach, me thinks.

          1. D. Fuller

            BLM is practically neutered. Happened under Obama, not as much so as when Obama CRUSHED and choked the life out of OWS before throwing OWS under a bus with a swift vengeance.

            The Floyd George murder galvanized BLM for a short while.

            The OWS protests featured everything that recent BLM protests featured.

            OWS threatened Wall Street and Corporations.

            BLM, not so much.

            BLM is allowed to exist solely because BLM is not a financial justice movement that threatens Wall Street. When that becomes their main focus? They too will receive the OWS treatment.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      “Brunch”? “Brunch”? Say it isn’t so!!!!! Assure us you are not drawn to Siren calls of the Dark Side!

  7. chris

    Where would I be without Slate? There I was, thinking that the best way to help people in their time of need is to simply give them money in a way that doesn’t require jumping through a bunch of hoops and doesn’t come with the risk of a state suing you to claw back funds if you fill out a complicated form incorrectly, but I was wrong! Mr. Weisman at Slate knows better. Rather than side step the byzantine process most states have for doling out UI, we should embrace it! Rather than stay with campaign promises, we should preemptively fold on them. It’s all so clear to me now…

    We are so [family blogged].

  8. JTMcPhee

    Seems to me what we are seeing is the foreshortened conclusion of a vastly flawed faux “democratic election” (sic) by a stage-managed acclamation, catalyzed by the intersection of well patterned propaganda about and against the current office holder, and the final round of that slow-motion coup by the (does not exist) deep state, abetted by what might be called the ‘exhaustion principle’— enough people just wanting a resolution and not wanting to be forced to see how it came about and what their puny and circumscribed roles in it were and are. Like Gore, rolling over and letting the juggernaut of “public opinion” roll on to the foreordained conclusion, devoid of hope that anything can possible change for the better or that the Few will ever disgorge any of their perks and “ownership.”

    Hence, the media reporting the chin noise of various Important Personages, without, as Lambert observes, giving any air to the “theory of the case” of those obviously ignorant and partisan folks who want to invoke the “law” that is supposed to guide the actions of legitimizing institutions like the judiciary and state legislatures. Roll on, roll on, there’s not stopping the Narrative from crushing any dissent. Too bad Trump is his own worst enemy, in disappointing his nominal base and distancing potential allies among the populi, while in failing to deliver concrete material benefits and the draining of the Swamp, yet not delivering enough of the tribute the Ruling Class demands from the peasantry, with savoire faire and rhetorical grace…

    So the Narrative once again expunges substance, and shoves the blade deeper between the ribs of the most of us.

  9. HD Goering

    Re: the odd pairing in the case fatality chart. Have the wrong death data been incorporated, perhaps? The data seem not to be normalized for population. Normalized data would be more meaningfully correlated with case fatality rates. Also, the odd parings in non-normalized data can be explained as ordinary coincidence.

  10. NotTimothyGeithner

    Biden’s thin skin is concerning

    I think about Biden’s famed “gaffes” over the years where he had to apologize. The real Biden will be on full display.

    I mean you got the first mainstream African American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice looking guy. I mean thats a story book man.” -Joe Biden on Obama.

    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      Well, he means what he says when he says it. Or so he’s telling us now.

      It was much easier to sell the “gaffe” excuse when he was VP and could be put in time out after opening his mouth. Between his thin skin, his “gaffes” and his sundowning, his spin doctors are going to have their work cut out for them.

  11. marym

    General explainer of the TX case:

    Opinionated summary:
    “By Texas’s own admission, it’s “challenging” the other states’ “administration of the 2020 election.” No constitutional provision, no statute and no principle of law gives one state the standing to challenge another state’s handling of an election.”
    ** Jurisdictional issues … there’s discussion in this link and elsewhere **
    “What of the Texas suit’s merits? It has none. It’s a recycling of failed claims. Whining about poll-watchers being excluded, nonsense about “mysterious late night dumps of thousands of ballots,” fantasies about rigged Dominion voting machines — a Cuisinart of allegations rejected by courts from Philadelphia to Carson City.”

    The general case:
    “[The case] relies on a novel theory that Texas can dictate how other states run their elections because voting irregularities elsewhere harm the rights of Texans.”

    As far as the “recycling of failed claims” there’s detail in the states’ “brief(s) in opposition to Texas’ motion” (Link) that rebut the claims, which as linked article says has occurred in courts, as well as media investigations, and twitter commentary. I have some links which may be more readable than searching through pdf court documents, so if there’s a specific item of interest let me know and I’ll see if it’s among them.

    1. JBird4049

      If corporations are people and money is (free) speech, then why shouldn’t a state challenge another state’s administration of their elections and even laws?

    2. JTMcPhee

      Seems to me that the people of Texas, through their government, have standing to demand that all the other states abide by the laws that their respective representative governments have enacted to govern the holding and test the validity of an election. As do all the other states, mutually. If this is truly a “representative democracy,” where the winner-who-takes-all is decided by who gets the most valid votes, then each voter, and each set of voters within the several jurisdictions, seemingly have a right to have their sole “legitimate” means of affecting the actions of the political actors (short of bribery, like the SuperCitizens called corporations and squillionaires get to rely on to have their interests advanced. or Second Amendment fun and games) protected against the kinds of scamming and election fraud that might be reduced by hand marked paper ballots, hand counted in public. But we mopes are being given the bum’s rush toward accepting and becoming subject to the domination of the demonstrably corrupt Democratic Party (Republican Party too, of course.

      Who has standing to challenge voter exclusion? Gerrymandering? Insinuation of corruptible “voting machines” into the process of casting one’s ballot? Delegation of the electoral process in increasing measure to the two private corporations (D and R) that choose, in a closed and rules-free and apparently unreviewable process, the two candidates we get to “choose” from via the primary processes also dominated by the private-club parties? Seizure of the public debate process from the control of an organization like the League of Women Voters by the corporate parties? Devolution of the media of public communication and debate into the hands of a few self-interested kleptocrats?

      I live in Florida, where the Reps have organized to disenfranchise a lot of voters, and the Dems have played “dead roach” in response. And the Dem Party controls the nominations and primaries, and the Dem apparatus is pretty much OK with the corruption, the gerrymandering (as long as Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s district is protected), the voter exclusion. What’s my remedy for the corruption and fraud that makes the chin music about “democracy” that spews out of politicians’ and pundits pie holes in a nauseating flood, that has most of us still believing that what we the people want will somehow, eventually, via some ineluctable process of “democracy,” be delivered? Despite all evidence to the contrary, to the clear proof that we live in an oligarchy with the flimsiest fig leaf of a collective delusion that we are a “democracy?”

      So is the hate-able Red State of Texas attempting to “dictate to other states” how the other states run their elections? Or (however disingenuously, and with partisanship aplenty) demanding that the electoral process be free and fair, within the boundaries of what most of us would think of as an honest election leading to a valid expression of the majority of voters?

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        it’s a whole lot simpler than that.
        it’s the money.
        in the same way that Team Blue made bank from Russiax3!, Team Red is making bank from “fighting for the sanctity of your vote”(falls to floor with belly laughs)
        it’s stupid, hypocritical and vile…but it works.
        so ride it right down into the ground.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > in the same way that Team Blue made bank from Russiax3!, Team Red is making bank from “fighting for the sanctity of your vote”(falls to floor with belly laughs)

          The Democrat version has a lot more moving parts and indirection (since they control the high ground in the press and in the intelligence community), but at the bottom the business model is just the same, yes.

      2. marym

        I can’t answer the Constitutional issue or what would be the practical consequences of states suing each other over election procedures. I agree the Dems are complicit in not defending and promoting voting rights.

        As far as this particular election being “free and fair” the Republicans have lost or voluntarily withdrawn from all but 1 of (so far) 57 cases for lack of credible evidence or standing. As far as Texas, or this particular AG, or Republicans generally, or Trump having an interest in fair elections, they didn’t sue states where Trump won, where similar actions to facilitate mail voting occurred, or similar voting machines were used.

      3. John Anthony La Pietra

        Section 2 of the 14th Amendment has a Mal-Apportionment Penalty for states which deny voting rights. Here is the full text of the section (emphasis added to focus on the most relevant and un-superseded language):

        Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

        So a stste which denies or abridges some of its voters’ rights in a Presidential election (among others) should lose a matching share of its House seats — and an equal number of electoral votes.

        Mind you, some may take this even farther, and arue that — since one way to deny voting rights is to dilute voting power (under the one-person-one-vote SCOTUS cases) — the same penalty applies to states which allocate their electoral votes on a winner-takes-all basis . . . and which thus dilute the voting power of at substantial minorities if not actual majorities of their voters. (And note that NPV would only make that dilution worse.)

        See here and here for more. (Please.)

  12. Wukchumni

    The Teachings of Donald Juan: A Yankee Way of Knowledge

    As imagined by Carlos Castaneda…

    An attempt at disclosing the internal cohesion and the cogency of Donald Juan’s teachings, and if he wasn’t on peyote, mescal or jimson weed, why’d he always act as if squadrons of vultures in V-pack formation were circling above him on high with thunderlizards underfoot and other activities becoming of a mind altar’er?

  13. Jeremy Grimm

    The more I learn about the Corona vaccines, the less inclined I am to push my way to the front of the line for an injection. [Actually the concerns about how many people are willing to get the vaccine ‘right away’ may be without a point unless the production and logistics problems are better solved than they were/are for face masks.]

    If you like GMO — you will love the new vaccines. The name Moderna contains a hidden warning. The ‘Mod’ in Moderna refers to the modifications required to assure that vanilla mRNA isn’t attacked by the immune system before it can mysteriously sneak into a cell and produce carefully selected virus protein(s) — the protein(s) that assemble a Corona virus spicule — and NOT the proteins exposed to the blood after a virus particle has fused with a cell. The mRNA is modified — this is where the ‘Mod’ in the name ‘Mod’-erna comes from. The problem with vanilla mRNA is that its uridine is blocked by RNA-dependent protein kinase (PKR) and that in turn blocks the translation of the RNA to a protein … bummer. But wait! by substituting pseudouridine for uridine in the mRNA — a few modifications and voilà! enhanced translation of the mRNA and decreased activation of PKR. We can grease the transit from syringe to cell by encasing the modified RNA in a lipid shell. And we know so much about how viruses work and some much about the inner working of cell, and so very much about human biology and medicine … what could possibly go wrong!!!!!?

    Considering the cool ways for fooling the immune systems of Humankind the new vaccine technologies have discovered — imagine what new methods might be found — and what wonderful biological weapons they might help actualize? I am so glad the US government would never never work on any biological weapons.

    [Fun Fact: Did you know Jason McLellan is named on roughly a dozen patent applications for technologies related to the new vaccines?]

    1. Jen

      Yay Bay-Dole act. Jason’s work on spike proteins paved the way. He used to work for my small liberal arts college, before moving on to UT Austin.

    2. Janie

      Re delaying being vaccinated: are we miscalculating the odds? By the time the vaccine is available to me, what will be the odds of a serious reaction vs if I delay, what are the odds I will get a serious case of covid? An MD I know says it may have unknown defects, but he is still practicing and will take the vaccine as soon as he can.

      1. ambrit

        I hope he has his life insurance policy paid up, and prepaid for the next five years or so.
        As I am reading so much now; “Go Long Covid.”

    3. marieann

      Where I am in Canada, we are supposed to get 2,000 doses of the vaccine next week. I am very glad I will not be in the first few groups to be offered a dose. I really don’t now if it is safe and I’d rather wait until it has been tested on a few more volunteers.

      Our area has just gone back into lockdown for the next 28 days so if I can I will just stay home to be safe.

      and I am entirely grateful that I have that option, I know everyone cannot stay safe.

    1. D. Fuller

      Trump committed a felony in North Carolina when he advocated for Republicans to mail-in their ballots & then attempt to vote in person.

      Yes, it is a felony in North Carolina to exhort others to commit voter fraud. Any North Carolignian can make the criminal complaint at their local court house or law enforcement office.

      It is also, conspiracy to commit sedition (USC definition) as opposed to sedition. Unless someone attempted to vote both ways. Then the act of exhortation resulting in an act, becomes sedition.

      The argument of Trump’s court cases being sedition? They are not. Though, it could be argued that Trump’s lawyers knowingly and frivolously filed these cases – which would require a determination of intent to do so. Then, the actions can be sedition.

      It is all in the intent.

      1. jo6pac

        On the battery there isn’t any news that there’ll working on it. The battery factory in Germany was closed by the German courts a few days ago.

          1. jo6pac

            German court halts felling of trees at site of Tesla plant | World | dailyprogress.com

            Not really
            Ex-Tesla Engineer Says Solid-State Batteries Are A ‘False Hope’ (insideevs.com)

            For some reason the links don’t show.

            Tesla researchers show path to next-gen battery cell with breakthrough energy density – Electrek

    1. ambrit

      When I explained the Nancy Pelosi “Ice Cream Freezergate” to Phyllis, her first comment was: “Ah. So that’s where she hides the bodies.”

  14. Calypso Facto

    re: Biden’s weird cabinet choices – funny to read all this 11-d chess, I assumed this is just the end result of Team Blue becoming 100% patronage/machine politics. Not everyone is bidding for their seat – some may have ‘earned’ it thru service with Obama and the big man putting in a good word.

  15. jr

    Holy crap, those sound bites of Biden are whacked. He sounds like an old man screaming at a waiter that he knows what he ordered, by God! when in fact it’s not even on the menu. And how about “I mean what I say when I say it!” Even if he does, it doesn’t count if you immediately forget what you said and wander aimlessly off the stage. Watching him crack up in mid flight over the next, what, maybe year and a half will be a fat sack of belly-laughs, especially when I’m around some Biden supporters. I’m going to have an F’ing field day after listening to how Biden is going to save us, etc. for months now. Like Jimmy Dore says, these guys do your work for you.

    Then we get reptile brain Harris, a woman who would devour her own young like one of those African crocodiles. Perhaps one good thing can come of her. By the time she is done, the notions of “identity politics” and the innate wisdom of electing someone based on the color of their skin will have taken some serious blows.

    1. edmondo

      The Biden Administration will be such a disaster that the only good thing to come out of it will be the total destruction of Kamala Harris’ career.

      1. jr

        That will be a treat to watch. Everything she tries to do will be shot down, especially after the Repubes tear into Congress in ‘22 like the Wehrmacht. Proles of all alignments despise her already and she is genetically incapable of helping another human being so that anger will only fester till it’s weeping pus.

        19 million evicted in January, record unemployment, small businesses vaporized, the treasury looted by the guards. The Dems led by “Doh!” Joe, “Diapers” Feinstein, “Chief” Warren and the Mother of all Psychopaths Pelosi play political parlor games. Sanders makes politician-like noises off in a corner. The “Squad” try to square the circle of staying relevant while servicing “Momma Bear”. The IDpol winged monkeys in the mainstream media will lose the last fragments of public trust they have managed to cling to, babbling to themselves and one another while the mob is pressing at the gate and gauging the height of nearby lampposts. Get the popcorn and dust it with coke, it’s going to be a party.

    2. The Rev Kev

      I swear when I heard Joe talking that my first thought was – this sounds just like something that Trump would say.

    3. Foy

      Just a small note, African crocodiles don’t devour their own young. Mumma croc puts the baby crocs into her mouth when there is danger around, its the safest place. Don’t want the crocs to be dragged down to Harris’s level!

      1. jr

        Good point, the males will eat their own but yes, the momma’s carry them in their mouths. However, Harris will eat your kids. Or abandon them to pedo-priests…

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I expect Biden’s ego is such that Clyburn will be kept far away from the White House. Biden wont want to acknowledge he was saved.

        1. ambrit

          Biden won’t want to admit that he was saved by a n—–. Delaware and all that.
          (Honestly, why did Obama agree to Biden as Veep? Was Obama’s ego that fragile that he wouldn’t accept any ‘backtalk’ from any quarter?)

          1. Pat

            No but his desire to serve the bankers was intense. The largest speaker fees don’t come from your average School group but from the financial wizards. And Joe was their boy.

          2. edmondo

            It coulda been Hillary but Michele wanted Barack to increase his life insurance payout to Bezos’ levels.

  16. chuck roast

    This toothpaste will never go back into the tube. It seems to me that the toothpaste we have recently been using to shine our pearly whites has the taste of the Church Commission Report. It clearly looses it’s effectiveness with repeated reuse.

    1. km

      I believe that it was Lambert Strether who commented that, after Russiagate, the spooks, the “intelligence community”, the Deep State, the Blob, the Borg, whatever you want to call it, will have a defacto veto on nominations going forward.

      The leadership of both legacy parties are too risk adverse to let a candidate that spooks don’t approve of get through.

      1. rowlf

        Doesn’t the Intelligence Community have a lot of experience in massaging elections around the world? Could they resist doing this domestically if they thought they were threatened?

        1. ambrit

          It goes way back. Not just ‘massaging’ elections, but administrations as well. The history of the Dulles brothers and Jack Kennedy during the Bay of Pigs fiasco are but one glaring example.

  17. Bill Carson

    Regarding the McDonald’s Happy Meal story, the movie Founder starring Michael Keaton was really eye-opening about McDonald’s business model. It’s on Netflix.

    1. Wukchumni

      When I was growing up, there was a phony McDonalds hidden on the back streets of the City of Industry that was used strictly for making TV commercials, 1,000 or more of which have been served up there.

      Its kind of awkward looking as they keep it fenced in when not shooting…


  18. Tom Doak

    It boggles my mind that The Nature Conservancy is selling pollution credits against the land it holds in conservancy. I wonder if that was in the fine print when people donated their land?

    Also, since I presume there is no one in the Trump administration checking up on this, or in any other administration, I wonder if they can resist triple-selling the pollution credits for each given property, if there are corporations lined up to buy them?

    1. polecat

      So, they punted. I think that this is where the tears in those supremely flowing robes show their tawdry upkeep. Their response I believe, will have negative repercussions down the rutted lane.

  19. chuck roast

    Carbon offsets…the Bezzel of all time…bah-da-bing!

    The Nature Conservancy…rivals and even exceeds the Sierra Club as the scam queen of the environmental 401c3’s. Here’s one of their tried and true beauties. There are three country clubs in my old neighborhood. Not what you might think, since the town almost went bankrupt a few years ago. Blaming it all on the unionized teachers. Anyway, a few years ago the most exclusive of the three CC’s wouldn’t pay it’s property tax. The club is owned by 17 wealthy and prominent families. The plutocrats threatened bankruptcy of the club and eventual sale for development. Right on cue everybody headed for the fainting couch, but the genius shysters saved the day with the perfect time honored solution.

    The Nature Conservancy would step in and for $2M buy the development rights for a large portion of the grounds including the environmentally sensitive area along a stream abutting and running through the club. Taxes paid; tax write-off divided up; wetland critters protected; a hole in one for 17 people and their BFF’s. It’s a great country.

  20. rowlf

    Yesterday in unusual US Post Office interactions…

    I happen to like working with the USPS as they have always helped me in the past as I often had to mail/ship stuff internationally. Additionally, working at airports mail was always a high priority and we always tried to keep it running smoothly. I always try to put myself in other’s shoes so I can understand and tolerate what the USPS has to handle with the resources they have. (Gallic shrug) Since the postal carriers around here have been running Code Red I try to work with them, such as meeting their trucks to unload packages to save them time and wear-and-tear (I reload and prefer to meet the van to get my bulk packages of bullets. Easier for them and saves the box from possible mis-handling. Besides, I ordered the stuff, let me deal with it.)

    So yesterday while working from home I see an unfamiliar Made-In-Alabama minivan pull into my driveway and a woman gets out and comes to the door. One of my sons makes custom designed clothing he sells on Etsy and ships often through the USPS. The woman looks familiar and says she is from the local USPS office and is coming by to pick up the packages my son has for shipping as the route carriers are often coming in late. She does this so the packages can ship more on time.

    A very nice lady and as my son gets all the packages to ship I chat a bit with her about USPS workloads, manpower and resources. As a former union member I am concerned about her using what appeared to be a personal vehicle to do employer business with. As a former mis-manager I did comment favorably on the customer service aspect of what she was doing. We shared some observations of who benefits from privatization too.

    I really hate what the government is doing to the USPS. I also can’t tolerate my coworkers who feel that “those people” shouldn’t have a better work environment. Idjits.

    1. ambrit

      Wow! I just tried to send my coast property tax off Certified from the Downtown Main Post Office today. This is a wonderful late Deco Federal building, from 1941 I believe. The place had no green return receipt slips. I know the counter women a bit and asked what gives? The senior clerk tells me of the early morning crew seeing someone from the main satellite office coming in very early and making off with the entire box of replacement green tags waiting for distribution that morning.
      So, off I go to the satellite office. Sure enough, this being the main post office for the suburban upper class region, the line for the counter was about ten people long. While waiting, I ask for a green slip to fill out while waiting. “Check out the tables in the lobby,” I am told. I do so and find hundreds of brand new green slips. So, after sending my tax payment off, I ‘nationalize’ a hundred or so green slips and bring them back to the Downtown office on my way home. The Downtown counter clerks were ecstatic. “We couldn’t get anyone to go on over there and get some back for here.”
      Is this any way to run an airline?

      1. Anonymous

        Yes, she is; I’ve been bing watching and am coming to realize how precious the younger generations are and worthy of respect too. Another day maker!

      1. ambrit

        That is actually a good idea. Trump vetoes the bill and lets it languish until Biden is sworn in. Let the Democrat Party hacks take the blame for the “no bid contract” Pentagon Budget.

          1. caucus99percenter

            Following a veto there is still, however, a formal requirement that each house of Congress, while in session, vote with a two-thirds majority to override the veto. It’s not automatic, no matter how big the initial margin in favor of a bill or resolution.

            1. Procopius

              I saw a story that said the vote was 84-14, or something close to that, so no, it wasn’t a voice vote. If it had been they wouldn’t have the numbers.

  21. C

    My experience growing up in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod was overall positive. It was a little tough coming to terms with evolution in public high school. However, the church’s theology on that topic is more conservative than its membership. It always emphasized salvation by grace through faith and love your neighbor.

    I left the LCMS because non-LCMS Christians are not welcome at communion. With the LCMS being so small, this makes dating difficult.

    Now I’m at a more left-leaning Church that is welcoming to both me and my wife. There’s much that I miss about the LCMS and there’s a part of me that would like my child to get the same disciplined, orderly LCMS primary education I received: despite the young earth creationism, almost half of my 8th grade class went on to be valedictorians or salutatorians at our respective high schools.

Comments are closed.