2:00PM Water Cooler 12/28/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I’m going to be keeping Water Coolers shorter than usual through the New Year. In order to make the year turn toward the light more rapidly, I will make the proportion of frivolous material greater than usual. –lambert.

Bird Song of the Day

I thought this was a warbler from the American West (poor birds) but I was wrong. I will try again tomorrow.


Not exactly holiday material, but it has to be done. Drops across the board, which I assume is entirely a holiday-driven reporting issue.

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:

An enormous holiday drop, far larger than 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. Is the virus gathering itself for another leap?

Big states (New York, Florida, Texas, California) instead of the Midwest:

Enormous drops, except in New York:

Test positivity by region:

A wild swing in the West. Again.

Nowhere near 3%, anywhere.

Hospitalization by region:

Enormous drops again. 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; or because hospitals have figured out how to send people home.

Case fatality rate by region:

Enormous drops in deaths, I assume due to reporting; a slow and steady rise in the fatality rate, which is troubling.

* * *

“China’s coronavirus success boosts confidence that its system is the best answer to the country’s challenges” [South China Morning Post]. “Some may complain about the huge human and social costs involved in China’s rigid testing and quarantines, and others may continue to question whether China’s handling of the coronavirus in the early days missed an opportunity to contain its global spread, but it does not change the fact that China’s results are among the best.” • There’s something to be said for that:

Incidentally, this is also the chart to show anybofy who thinks Trump is uniquely bad. At least as far as cases go, he isn’t.


“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

Democrats en Deshabille

I have thoughts on politics, but I said this Water Cooler would be short. Tomorrow!

Stats Watch

Today’s Fear Greed Index: 54 Neutral (previous close: 53 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 63 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Dec 28 at 11:57am

Rapture Index: Closes down one on wild weather. “The closure of the hurricane season has downgraded this category” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 183. (Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing, so high is better.) I’m really stunned that Trump’s impending defenestration hasn’t affected this index at all. Perhaps I’m looking at the wrong sort of Christian.

The Biosphere

“A Century Of Misunderstanding? William James’s Emotion Theory” (PDF) [Jake Spinella, William James Studies]. “Emotions, for the James of “What is an Emotion?” are bodily feelings that prepare us to act in certain ways in order to solve certain problems due to both adaptive pressures by natural selection and our individual faculties for associative learning and habit formation.” • Hmm.

Feral Hog Watch

“Feral pigs flummox Puerto Rico, infiltrate communities” [ABC]. “Thousands of Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs are snorting and squealing their way across Puerto Rico in what many fear has become an unstoppable quest to eat and reproduce on an island struggling to stop them. They forage through gardens and farms, knock over trash cans and leave pungent trails of urine and excrement, stopping occasionally to bathe if they find potholes full of rainwater. The former pets — or descendants of former pets — have reproduced at such an alarming rate that the U.S. territory declared a health emergency last year so federal officials could start eradicating them. It’s the latest non-native species to invade communities in Puerto Rico like iguanas and caimans did before them, although these are proving particularly hard to control and can’t be killed for food because they carry so many diseases.”

Police State Watch


The 420

“Is Marijuana Safe? Experts Weigh in On Teen Weed Use” [Teen Vogue]. ‘Usually, I smoke to relax. I smoke with friends more than I smoke by myself,’ Yasemin tells Teen Vogue. ‘Smoking weed usually allows me to engage more vulnerably and comfortably with others, and smoking with friends is a great way to unwind. As long as I’m doing the things I need to do and I’m getting some sobriety into the week, I think my consumption of weed is chill. I could definitely stop smoking weed if I had to, and often do by choice when I feel like it’s something I don’t currently need or want.'” • Well, “I can quit whenever I want rings a lot of alarm bells for me. Still, marijuana and alchohol are different drugs. (My only concern is that marijuana today is much stronger than the marijuana, er, in my day. I wonder if the quantitative change has led to any qualitative changes.)


“Gaming Below the Poverty Line” [Mel]. “It’s no accident that a greater percentage of lower income people consider themselves ‘gamers’ (the same Pew survey found that across income groups, although those making less than $30,000 a year were the least likely to report they played games, with only 46 percent saying so, low-income respondents were still the most likely to actually describe themselves as ‘gamers’). Chris Arnade, a photographer and author of the recent book Dignity: Seeking Respect in Back Row America, explains that gaming is ‘one of the few virtual communities open to a lot of lower-income people.’ Arnade, who’s spent ‘a lot of time basically sleeping in cheap motels when I was on the road or in my van,’ tells me that while looking for a good WiFi connection, he often came across people from families with Section 8 housing vouchers in search of prime gaming real estate ‘with their old, beat-up PC.’ Through his lens, Arnade has been clued into a more intimate, nuanced view of the low-income gaming community than most. As such, much of the discourse around gaming pisses him off. ‘This whole language of, ‘Young men should be doing something better with their time,”’ he says. ‘Like what?’” • Well worth a read. Who is going to be the first politician to communicate over this channel? (Incidentally, Gibson gets the class and cultural markers of this milieu right in The Peripheral; kudos to him. I mean, I think he does. Readers?)

Xmas Postgame Analysis

I don’t know what, if any, presents you got, but:

This is a great thread. I don’t even own a Windows machine and never plan to, but I follow Swift on Security for the exceptionally clear technical writing.

Following through on some of the lovely comments on Christmas music from readers here, where “Angels We Have Heard on High” was a favorite:

“‘Santa Baby’ composer Phil Springer, 91, still can’t figure out why his sexy Christmas song endures” [Los Angeles Times]. “[Springer] wasn’t always so happy with the song. When Springer and his frequent collaborator Joan Javits finished writing ‘Santa Baby,’ he delivered the music to the publishers with an apology: ‘I said, ‘Gentlemen, this is not really the kind of music that I like to write. I hope it’s OK. It’s the best I could do.” Certainly, its coyly crass message and the way it so blithely revels in the season’s greediness set it apart from the usual Christmas standards. But the publishers loved it. So did Kitt, whose recording of the song was a huge hit.” •

Holy smokes!

It had to happen:

Maybe I should have saved this for a New Year’s wrap-up:

“NORAD’s Santa Tracker Began With A Typo And A Good Sport” [NPR]. • And nuclear weapons….

The Law’s the True Embodiment

“Seeking the Source: Criminal Defendants’ Constitutional Right to Source Code” (PDF) [Ohio State Technology Law Center]. “Software has also found its way into trials. Software’s errors have meant that defendants are often denied their fundamental rights. In this paper, we focus on “evidentiary software”— computer software used for producing evidence—that is routinely introduced in modern courtrooms. Whether from breathalyzers, computer forensic analysis, data taps, or even FitBits,5 computer code increasingly provides crucial trial evidence. Yet despite the central role software plays in convictions, computer code is often unavailable to examination by the defense. This may be for proprietary reasons—the vendor wishes to protect its confidential software—or it may result from a decision by the government to withhold the code for security reasons. Because computer software is far from infallible—software programs can create incorrect information, erase details, vary data depending on when and how they are accessed—or fail in a myriad of other ways—the only way that the accused can properly and fully defend himself is to have an ability to access the software that produced the evidence. Yet often the defendants are denied such critical access.” • Code is law!

Book Nook

There was a long thread the other day where a surprising number of readers said they “can’t read books anymore” during the pandemic. I had been toying with the idea of a new feature, which would be me plowing through Thomas Piketty’s enormous Capital and Ideology, with a short quote and brief discussion every day. I feel the need for more rigor in my thinking and Piketty’s Capital, while dry in tone, sparkles with ideas. I expect continued volatility in 2021, and I need to be a more conceptually grounded poster than I am. Naturally, I expect to be able to apply the concepts to the present day. Taibbi, being a nicer guy than I am, polled his readers, but I’m pretty set on this idea. You can try to argue me out of it though! But right now, all I have is an expensive doorstop, and that’s not good.

News of the Wired

Via chuck roast:

This is lovely. (It’s also true that Maine has a mean streak, too, but this anecdote shows Maine at its best. And, amazingly, the Trustafarians were right all along….)

Too bad our public spaces don’t look like this any more. Thread:

* * *

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: “I like contrast, so I try not to miss an opportunity when the background is in shadow and a beautiful flower is enjoying the sun. This is a Hong Kong Orchid Tree at South Coast Botanical Gardens in Palos Verdes, CA.” Gorgeous!

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Hubert Horan

    Amazed that the twitter thread on libraries did not include (much less highlight) room 315 at the New York Public Library–a far better space for people using the books than any of the others included

    1. Geo

      Yes! I love the beautiful libraries but prefer ones that are as accessible as the NY Public Library.

      Also, had the privilege of doing a short film shoot in that room a few years back. Could have spent all day there filming that beautiful location but only had two hours. Still got some amazing footage there though!

    2. Eustachedesaintpierre

      Good to see Trinity included as it is beautiful & quite intimate unless full of tourists , but as far as books are concerned my favourite inner space would be the British museum reading room, which is the central part of the Great Court at the heart of the museum itself.

      The last time I visited there was a Zulu choir & band performing as we entered, so we lingered for a while till we needed to move on for a toilet break, but as we moved around the library the music started to distort & reverberate & by the time I was sat waiting for the Missus, it had turned into something else entirely that to me at least sounded incredible, which was of course a total one off & could not have been created anywhere other than that particular sound box constructed mainly of marble floor, stone limestone Classical facades, the library itself & the glass ceiling. A great mix of architectural styles IMO with it’s own harmony, perhaps reflected in that amazing sound on an amazing afternoon.

    3. DJG

      Admittedly, it is now the Chicago Cultural Center, but it was built as the central library. The mosaics, the domes, the stained glass–the most spectacular building in Chicago. And its nickname is the People’s Palace.

    4. DJG

      I’d also add to the list the Biblioteca Angelica, in the Piazza Sant’Agostino in Rome. I found it by chance, because of light emanating from its windows.

    5. Basil Pesto

      I think there perhaps needs to be a distinction between beautiful libraries, and beautiful reading rooms. For instance, the photo of the state library of Victoria in Melbourne is of the old reading room (and it’s a really nice reading room irl), but it’s a relatively small part of the library building itself.

    6. Kurt Sperry

      The reading room at the University of Washington Suzzallo Library is one of my favorites, the very, very different reading room at Rem Koolhaas’ main Seattle Public Library is another favorite, although I know people who don’t approve. But I also like the cozy, if rather shambolic, atmosphere of the little Biblioteca Comunale di Anghiari which will never be featured in any architectural periodical just as well. There can’t be many of us who had two Library Science doctorate parents growing up. I was a stack rat at the amazing UC Berkeley Library stacks before I left elementary school.

    7. Lambert Strether Post author

      > did not include (much less highlight) room 315 at the New York Public Library

      Very true about that room; I loved putting in my slips and having the books come back. I hope the NYPL hasn’t crapified it. New York readers?

      Do any other Luddites like me prefer physical card catalogs to electronic search? I thought they provided a far superior synoptic view of a topic through the literal names on the cards, and also promoted serendipity through the physical proximity of topics.

  2. Wukchumni

    3 weeks left before the evangs lose the brass ring politically.

    They don’t seem bothered by this, did they do enough damage to our country that it doesn’t matter?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Much of the GOP philosophy is dedicated to annoying “Team Blue types”, and despite Trump’s views aligning so often, Trump doesn’t play the Bible Humper part that well.

      Then again, they did largely dump Shrub despite worshipping him for years, and I personally think he replaced his alcoholism with religion and had a schtick that would play well in those circles. My guess is they don’t care about Trump as much as maintaining their persecution complex which is a lot easier if the “other” party is nominally in charge.

      1. notberlin

        “Damage” is not a worry to them. Threatened by working people who actually make stuff, and create, and don’t exploit. Their biggest fear and enemy.

  3. Louis Fyne

    did you know that House rules require in-person voting for Speaker?

    Not impossible that not enough Dems. show up to elect Pelosi.

    1. Geo

      Would love to see a Putney Swope type of vote where Rashida Tlaib ends up as Speaker to the chagrin of the rest of the House. :)

      Putney Swope, 1969: “The board of directors at a Madison Avenue ad agency must elect a new chairman. In the maneuvering to make sure that enemies don’t get votes, all the members accidentally cast their ballot for the board’s token black man, Putney Swope.”

      1. Mark Gisleson

        Robert Downey Sr’s finest movie (sorry, the “cured” cripple crawling through scenes in Greaser’s Palace still unnerves me).

        Seemed like a good thread to comment on 420. Anecdotal only, but I quit cold turkey Thanksgiving weekend. After three years of wake’n’bake (recovering from the 2016 election) I expected consequences but so far the only ones I’ve noticed are that spicy food gives me a noticeable endorphin surge now. (Most likely they did before but I didn’t notice.)

        Sleep not impacted, energy levels maybe a bit higher. Better impulse control (actually staying off Twitter this time).

        It is my sincere nonobjective opinion that cannabis is the most benign drug you can use. Nothing like the hell of quitting tobacco (twice).

        1. BobW

          Tobacco is easy to quit, I have done it dozens of times. I think this last time took.

          It was hard for me to quit weed, and I actually had a vivid dream where I could taste it, once. This took, too, it has been years since I had any weed. A good friend got a Rx for medical marijuana, and that worried me, but I was never tempted to try any.

          1. notberlin

            I never found it easy, but have quit cigarettes maybe 4 or 5 times. It’s been two years now, this time around, but still miss it. It’s funny, I was a runner in high school and college (kept me alive, really), had decent times for the 800 and 1500 meters (painful), but at age 30 started smoking for some reason. My dad smoked, maybe it was early conditioning. I tried pot a few times, made me sleepy. But then I was always drinking alcohol at the same time….

            I still miss a good smoke. Especially in fall, with the leaves drifting down, a light breeze as the sun sets and the colors of a new season. And maybe reading a Raymond Carver story by the fire, with a beer and a good dog at your side :) Hard to beat.

        2. Screwball

          I applaud those above for the determination to do so. I was a long time smoker who quit last year only to go goofy during the lock-down and start again. I can tell how much better I could breath once I quit after starting again.

          I will quit again, but I can’t imagine giving up the herb. I’m retired, I can do what I want. :-)

          1. jaaaaayceeeee

            It’s amazing how much more addictive nicotine can be for some of us, than anything else. After 29 years of smoking mostly Camel non-filter (I’m so old I remember the objection was that it’s not lady like), I’d tried quitting often, for a while (up to a year), but then I found the Danish nasal spray, but it’s too expensive. My experience is pretty pre-internet, so might be outdated.

            My doctor was doing trials for the prescription spray, and told me that those who feel like an old TV that has developed really bad snow, and find that their focus is both less and shorter, might have neurotransmitters that are much, much more addicted. For example, half of the direct relatives of schizophrenics, although they show no signs of any mental illness ever, still have an alpha 7 nicotinic receptor that takes twice as long to desensitize (500 milliseconds). He speculated that people with outlying brain chemistry might be people who need more attempts to quit, and don’t do as well with the patch (steady level of nicotine without peaks and valleys). He recommended using the spray and then the gum.

            He said a puff of a cigarette takes only 2 seconds to start calming down screeching receptors, the spray less than 2 minutes, and the gum 45-50 minutes. I did smoke a couple of cigarettes a year later when I had to put my dog to sleep, and the desire came back strong, but the spray makes quitting easy, because anyone can get by with a couple of minutes of goofiness.

            When I switched to the gum, I’d been made much, much poorer by almost a year of using the nasal spray. I was very, very fortunate that my heart was good, because that first cig of the day desire, was so devilish, it had me chew multiple gums simultaneously to gut out an hour. Even 20 years later, I am still tapering off the gum, but hey, it worked better than any of the other things (you name it) I tried.

            I think there is something to the notion that nicotine is harder to quit for 10 or 20 percent of the population. That would explain why half the people quit in the ’90’s but it got really hard for those still smoking (it’s not like they didn’t try).

            Maybe trying different times, and trying different ways, works better for those who took a long time to quit, like me.

        3. Amfortas the hippie

          I’ve given up, for now, on quitting cigarettes.
          cutting back is the best i can do for the foreseeable future.
          weed, on the other hand, i find easy to stop….generally when i run out, from time to time.
          no ill effects, save falling productivity and more pain.
          same with vicodin, too…less productivity and more pain whenever i do a drug holiday.(I’m due for one…prolly midsummer)
          i understand that everybody’s different in these matters.

          1. Laughingsong

            I found quitting cannabis much, much easier than quitting anything else that I’ve quit, successfully or not. I can stop for days or years, with sleep affected for maybe 4-5 days at first. Mind you, I’ve stopped when I’ve needed to (moving, job hunting, weight loss), never decided to quit, so one can read things into that, I guess.

            Other substances that I (finally) quit successfully: cocaine and tobacco although with the latter, I started again after quitting for 14 years, smoked for another 7, then quit again 9 years ago. Unsuccessfully: chocolate and caffeine, the latter being by far the hardest… haven’t even dared to try in years.

            1. Amfortas the hippie

              i forgot about coffee.
              stayed at my brother’s house one time when him and his wife were to the “quitting coffee cold turkey” phase of their circular search for magic health and immortality.
              I wasn’t informed,lol.
              so 4am, searching the kitchen for a mundane substance that simply wasn’t there.
              no biggie.
              but then i forgot about it…until wife and i got the headaches, and couldn’t figger why(we don’t generally have headaches around here).
              ergo, in case of calamity, i’ve meant to incorporate camellia sinensis(tea) into the landscape…but haven’t got around to it.
              in my fancy lettuce growing days, i think that i inadvertently released Italian Dandelion into the local flora…but the roasted roots, while tasting something akin to really bitter coffee…contain no caffeine.
              we have one yaupon on the place(ilex vomitoria), so i suppose i could attempt the “Black Drink”…but would prefer to learn about this from someone with experience.
              I’m attempting to root some cuttings of that just in case…as it’s one of only 2 natives in north America to have caffeine.(and it’s pretty—smooth white bark really stands out among all the thorns on everything else.

              1. jaaaaayceeeee

                I had to quit caffeine because it was messing me up too much, although I loved AM coffee. 30 years later, I can’t imagine not having roasted chicory and dandelion root to substitute, with some nice cocoa to concoct a “mocha” (using stevia, erythritol and a big pinch of cane sugar for aftertaste), to which I have to add some peanut butter, which has enough fat to carry the flavors. Since dandelion root is a pretty effective diuretic, you need to know you haven’t any problem with using it

                It’s my fake reeses mocha, which is at least reminiscent of my beloved java. I was heartened to read that before WW2, 40% of Americans were happy with chicory based substitutes for coffee, until the military turned them on to coffee. I remember a few decades ago, when toasted grain based substitutes were marketed. They tasted like agribusiness dust repurposed – remember how blah Postum was? I swear that companies were trying to repurpose trash, which Campbell soup did brilliantly by using the “trimmings” to make V8.

              2. drumlin woodchuckles

                If you want a self-grown caffeine source on your property, I wonder whether either or both of the Ilex-genus holly-type shrubs might be better. They could maybe grow with less watchful care than Camelia sinensis would need in Texas. Ilex vomitoria in particular was the Cherokees’ source of caffeine. By itself there should be nothing vomitous about Ilex vomitoria. I believe it was called that because it was one among many other ingredients mixed into the Cherokees’ “black drink”.


                Oh, and now I see that you already know about the Ilex vomitoria. Well, anyway . . .

          2. Kurt Sperry

            I’m one of those weirdo intermittent tobacco smokers, I regularly go weeks, months, and even years without, but probably enjoy it too much to ever hang it up forever. plus I’m afraid I might live to be 100 and run out of money if I don’t smoke at least some. Cannabis, has no addictive potential for me at all. I can absolutely take it or leave it even if I enjoy it when in the mood. Coffee is harder, I’ve never even tried to quit that and nothing gets you out of bed in the morning when you otherwise wouldn’t feel like it like an addiction and coffee is just perfect for that. The deep satisfaction of succumbing to a ritual/habit/addiction like morning coffee is pretty hard to top.

    2. Darius

      In 1855-56, the House took two months and 133 ballots to elect a speaker, let alone committee chairs. It takes six Democrats to throw the incoming House into chaos for as long as they like. That’s a lot of power for those who are willing to wield it, rather than giving it to others and deferring to them.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > House rules require in-person voting for Speaker

      Needs a link. I can’t back up that claim here. Here from House Practice: A Guide to the Rules, Precedents and Procedures of the House, Chapter 34. Office of the Speaker:

      Nomination and Vote

      The general practice for election of Speaker begins with nominations from each party caucus followed by a viva voce vote of the Members-elect. Relying on the Act of June 1, 1789, the Clerk recognized for nominations for Speaker as being of higher constitutional privilege than a resolution to postpone the election of a Speaker and instead provide for the election of [[Page 639]] a Speaker pro tempore pending the disposition of certain ethics charges against the nominee of the majority party. 2 USC Sec. 25; Manual Sec. 27.

      Under the modern practice, the Speaker is elected by a majority of Members-elect voting by surname, a quorum being present. Manual Sec. 27; 1 Hinds Sec. 216; 6 Cannon Sec. 24. The Clerk appoints tellers for this election. However, the House, and not the Clerk, decides by what method it shall elect. 1 Hinds Sec. 210. For former practices relating to the election of the Speaker, see Manual Sec. 27; 1 Hinds Sec. Sec. 212, 214, 218; 8 Cannon Sec. 3883.

      I don’t see a requirement for in-person voting, if by “in-person” is meant physical presence.

    4. Procopius

      The speaker is chosen by the majority of voters present and voting, so if the whole ten most “progressive” people “withhold their votes,” Pelosi wins by one. If any one of them votes for another person, Pelosi and McCarthy tie. If two of them vote for another person, the next speaker is Kevin McCarthy. Is that really something Jimmy Dore wants? Then there’s the point that it is nearly certain at least one Representative and one Senator will object in writing to at least one slate of electors, at which point the counting stops, the two chambers separate and debate among themselves, and then vote to resolve the issue. If the two houses do not agree, the slate of electors certified by the governor is chosen, but here’s where it gets interesting. There is no requirement that either house complete their debate. They can keep on debating, day after day, without settling. If they do that, the Speaker of the House becomes Acting President until the debate does end. What if the Speaker is Kevin McCarthy? See Van Jones is WRONG: the Laws Governing the 2020 US Presidential Election. It’s a little long, but the good stuff starts at about 30:00. The earlier stuff has mostly all passed us by already. By the way, I’ve been amazed that almost nobody pushing for pressuring Pelosi seems aware that the Speaker is chosen by a majority of the voters present and voting.

      1. Will S.

        The scenario you describe only occurs if Pelosi/Establishment Dems decide to call progressives’ bluff and refuse them any concessions; which, if the risk is truly as dire as you intimate, why would they do so?

  4. Geo

    “Gamers – Who is going to be the first politician to communicate over this channel?”

    Not sure if this counts but:

    “AOC’s debut Twitch stream is one of the biggest ever” 10/20/20

    “AOC raised $200,000 for charity on her ‘Among Us’ Twitch stream” 11/28/20

    She gets a lot of flack for these but seems to be an effective way of reaching a wider group of people not used to politicians paying attention to them.

      1. Aumua

        Bernie has a twitch stream too, but so far I don’t think he’s done any gaming on it. Would be quite something if he were to start dabbling in Warzone or WoW or something.

      2. The Rev Kev

        Old Joe could certainly go play Fortnite. I am sure that the owners would code in a Corvette Stingray for him to us. But if you were playing with him, you would have to remember never to have your back to him.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Not sure if this counts but:

      It does. When some desperate campaign decides to buck conventional wisdom and somehow get their avatar into the gaming world*…. some things might change, for good or ill.

      * Somebody who actually understands games will have to tell me if that’s possible.

  5. diptherio

    Some good news for a co-op farm out in Lambert’s neck of the woods.

    Lewiston’s New Roots farm receives $80,000 in grants

    Since 2017, a group of African immigrants has leased 30 acres of land off outer College Street to operate a cooperative farm.

    Their dream of owning the land they painstakingly developed over the past four years received a major boost when they received word that they are the recipient of two grants totaling $80,000.

    With the two gifts, the New Roots Cooperative Farm fundraising goal of raising $200,000 to purchase the property has reached nearly $120,000.

    Seynab Ali of Lewiston waters cold-crop seedlings in 2019 at the New Roots Cooperative Farm on College Street in Lewiston. The 30-acre farm produces chemical-free vegetables for sale to the community.


    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Lewiston’s New Roots farm receives $80,000 in grants


      It speaks well of the Somalis that they can come their hot country (mean daily maximum 30 to 40 °C (86 to 104 °F), mean daily minimum temperatures 20 °C (68 °F) to more than 30 °C (86 °F), says Google) to cold states like Maine* — and Minnesota.

      It also speaks well of the United States — for all the problems! — that this happened. I stan for Somalis since I saw they did well in speech and debate.

      NOTE * Cheap land!

    1. Katiebird

      How fun! My year: far-out, black power, data processing, hallucinogen, moped, and unflappable. Nice.

      1. Adam

        “Socially distance” apparently is from my birth year (along with unexpectedly: netizen, search engine and VPN, which I thought would have been introduced later).

        My favorite inclusion is Death Metal.

      2. FreeMarketApologist

        And from my year, apropos to two of the water cooler items: “pot-bellied pig” and “object code”.

        Also: mRNA, Bibb lettuce, fettuccine Alfredo, grok, power broker, and wazoo.

        This will be our New Years eve game: Give a list of words, guess the year.

    2. Geo

      Really cool! And kinda depressing.

      Strip mall, supercenter, Ebola, text message, cringeworthy, conversion therapy, parachute pants

      My birth year was an awful year.

      1. Hana M

        Not as bad as 1918 (NOT my birth year). Several new words from 1918 are getting another good run in 2020: implementation, rehospitalize, self-quarantine, tear-gas, parenting, triage, cabin fever. And two that could well be revived: blah and bugger all.

        1. Eudora Welty

          The term “oral sex” was first used in print in 1959? I find that hard to believe. That kind of devalues the whole word exercise, to me, although it sounded fun before doing it.

    3. Pat

      Barf, kitten heel, and margarita.

      There are other far more important words, but we are keeping it light! Oh and I can use them in a sentence but…

      1. Hana M

        uh,oh. I read that sentence too! And now I can’t unsee (14th C) the movie (1909) that’s streaming (adj.,1980) in my brain (12th C).

    4. HotFlash

      I am probably dating myself, but it seems that before I was born, people did not speak of hummus or felafel, ice-cream chairs, lonely hearts, or recreational vehicles. So glad I waited!

    5. fresno dan

      Hana M
      December 28, 2020 at 2:38 pm

      That is fun. Being born almost in ’56, but officially 1955, I will stick with 55. Still, I have my doubts as to the truthiness of it all.
      Artificial intelligence
      big bang theory (I am pretty sure the big bang theory was first postulated in the ’30’s – are they talking the English language or in popular and wide spread usage?)
      weirdo (well, I was only 2 days old prior to 1956 beginning, so it seems premature to originate a new word just for me…)

      1. Samuel Conner

        “Big Bang” as a class of cosmological model — “expansion from a hot, dense early state” — is considerably later than the applications of Einstein’s GR to expanding cosmological models, some early forms of which expanded because of a cosmological constant (sort of an early concept parallel to what today we call “dark energy”).

        It was the mid-’60s discovery of the cosmic microwave background radiation — which was most naturally interpreted as the redshifted remnant of an early very hot state — that, I think, made the “Big Bang” concept really credible and won the term a lasting place in the lexicon.

        1. Glen

          Some of the earliest measurements of the cosmic microwave background were done by Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson. They were investigating what was causing the noise interfering with their radio reception.

          Holmdel Horn Antenna

          At first, pigeon poop was suspected since pigeons lived in the horn antenna, and had caused quite a mess.

          I remember once we were investigating what was causing electrical noise in a test system. The engineer in charge decided he was going to be at it a while so he plugged a coffee pot into the test system – and the noise went away! It was a “noisy” power strip. He didn’t win the Nobel for that one – but we all had a big laugh.

    6. ChiGal in Carolina

      Some of these are surprising, like, that recently, what did they say before? Or, that long ago, who’da thunk? Others are a sign of those times (1957):
      cognitive dissonance
      Decision tree
      Informed consent
      happy camper
      Scumbag (!)

      Magic mushroom

      Doggie bag (when the plebes started going to restaurants I guess)

      btw definition of bafflegab was when Pelosi was called on not going after Bush for taking the country to war over WMD she knew didn’t exist

      1. Yves Smith

        No, this says I am from Honolulu, San Jose, or Freemont. The only time I lived west of the Mississippi was 3 years, in elementary school, in Oregon near Portland.

        Of course I did move a ton. Oregon was actually the longest we were in one town, although we did live in Ohio for four years in total and my mother is from Ohio, but the heat maps says I definitely don’t speak as if I am from there.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > will hopefully place you in the right place of residence in these United States based on your regional dialect…

        That’s really uncanny. I got Boston, Providence, and — this is the uncanny part — Yonkers (!), which covers my mother’s branch of the family and my father’s (and not where I grew up at all, in the Midwest. Of course, we always considered ourselves “from the East” and were conscious that we pronounced some words differently…).

        NOTE Of course rubber-soled athletic shoes are called sneakers. What the hell else would you call them?

    7. Massinissa

      In no particular order: 3d Printing, the Taliban, Frankenfood, Civil Union, arm candy, augmented reality, smack talk, and polyamory.

    8. petal

      Thanks, that was so fun! 1978 was a heck of a year for biology, especially immunology. Have sent it around to friends.

    9. Bob Haugen

      1941: area code, drag queen, campy, crapola, CRT, de-skill, existentialism…

      this is addictive, I better stop….

      1. fresno dan

        Bob Haugen
        December 28, 2020 at 6:30 pm

        drag queen in 41!??! Whoa – much naughtier back then than I would have ever imagined…

    10. ShamanicFallout

      Nice! Keeping with some of the links above about weed, my year gives us ‘acid-head’, ‘acid-rock’, ‘head shop’, ‘DMT’ and ‘mind-blowing’. A great year! Some wild vibes in the ether

    11. John Zelnicker

      For 1950:
      assault rifle, brainwashing, Foggy Bottom, foul-up, H-bomb, kiloton, LSD, multimedia, online, Orwellian, schlub (likely from a Yiddish word), and zip gun, among a ton of other commonly used words and some used mostly in their specific field.

    12. Lex

      Funny how the language of the 1950’s presaged the decades to come and became common usage: chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), cognitive dissonance, doggie bag, happy camper, hipsterism, informed consent, one-hit wonder, opiod. The Dictionary only underlined three of those.

      (Nearly as annoying as watching my posts disappear here, is watching them being posted before I’m ready because I touched something (?).

  6. Louis Fyne

    China is a one-party state, with one dominant ethnic group, with 100% penetration of domestic surveillance via its social credit scoring.

    be careful what one wishes for.

    what works for China ism’t necessarily scalable for the world.

    and nevermind that the world still does not have a transparent, unbiased inquiry into the origin of that bug which shall not be named.

    1. dftbs

      I’m not sure I understand what the social or human costs of China’s Covid response are? The SCMP article in the links doesn’t highlight any specific complaint? We can quantify the social and human costs of our (non) response, in contrasts to China’s whether by our death toll, or the collapse of our (non financial) economy, and the suffering that the later will reap on the American people for years to come.

      Moreover, the criticism of China’s transparency seems to be misdirection. It seems like ages ago, but the Chinese shut down Wuhan in late January of this year, they didn’t do this secretly. They shut down national travel during their biggest holiday. We could criticize them for not shutting down international travel out of China, but could you imagine the uproar had they done so? The headlines about the Chicoms stranding or kidnapping westerners. In any case we had the power to unilaterally stop these flights. We chose to ignore Chinese warnings out of some misguided sense of exceptionalism.

      China is a one party state, with roughly 18% of the worlds population. You could argue, as I’ve seen often on this site, that the US is also a one party state, regardless I think it’s a wrong conclusion that the China’s response couldn’t scale up. If anything it would need to scale down. And as to domestic surveillance, I mean we wrote the book on that?

      Perhaps the Chinese response worked, because the priorities of their system are different from the priorities of our system. You can see where our priorities, and how our system worked perfectly, by looking at the response from 33 liberty street; and how the stock market has performed since.

      1. fresno dan

        December 28, 2020 at 3:11 pm

        Well argued. Maybe we are where we are not because of a love of freedom, but because of a love of money…

        1. Pelham

          Agreed. dftbs makes points that needed to be made. And your insight about the love of money here is welcome on this context.

          As skeptical and cynical as I have been over many years about our system, I always maintained a thread of faith. And that applied particularly to journalism, whose institutions I knew to be fundamentally unsound but whose individual practitioners could still sometimes be depended on to deliver valuable information. In the Trump years, however, that thread of faith has vanished — and it’s not Trump’s fault.

          1. chris

            Agreed. Also, for some reason, the people who make the decisions in the US are completely isolated from the consequences of their decisions. Whereas in China, the ruling class seems very aware of how close they are to expulsion if they screw up.

            1. Massinissa

              “Whereas in China, the ruling class seems very aware of how close they are to expulsion if they screw up.”

              I don’t think it will happen during our lifetime, but I’m pretty sure the CCP have studied Chinese history well enough to be concerned that widespread and long lasting government incompetence could lead to the entire system imploding, followed by a spectacular civil war. It’s happened over and over and over again in Chinese history, I see no reason it couldn’t happen again. Even if a widespread revolt in China was nonviolent, it would still be very, very unpleasant for whoever was in power.

      2. Robert Hahl

        The United States is also a one-party state but, with typical American extravagance, they have two of them.
        – Julius Nyerere, first president of Tanzania (1964).

    2. Astrid

      You’re confusing democracy (rule of the majority, at least theoretically) with the West’s neoliberal death cult. It’s possible for any functional society to run an effective quarantine. It’s considerably easier than general policing because the criteria are clear and cost/benefits are obvious. You do it by establishing firm mandatory guidelines and then severely punish the sociopaths who have no problem killing others through their rulebreaking. Taiwan, Australia, and New Zealand all have much more lively democracies than the kleptocracy we are stuck with. They just had firmly and rationally implemented rules such as mandatory border quarantine and zero tolerance lockdowns. A coordinated sharp month long shutdown in April accompanied by a $2000/ head onetime payment was very doable, but our kleptocrats were too busy hoarding ice cream and enriching themselves and their billionaire Masters

      But keep telling yourself that the Chinese are coming for your precious social scores, while Google and Facebook destroy the last vestiges of free press and suck up everyone’s data, and can shut you off from your *free* accounts at anytime for purported thought crimes from decades ago.

      1. Wukchumni

        I was re-reading The Good Soldier Švejk and came across a very unpolitically correct few pages on a black guy in Prague, thankfully the author is dead and unable to respond, but maybe we can dig up his grave?

      2. Carla

        “any functional society” requires either a certain level of trust, or the willingness to exert a certain level of lethal force.

        Since the former is out of the question, it could be we’ll find out if we have the latter in a country with more arms in private hands than people. However, it appears that our dear leaders figure it’s easier (and safer for them) just to let the plebes die… free-dumb, dontcha know.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > It’s possible for any functional society to run an effective quarantine. It’s considerably easier than general policing because the criteria are clear and cost/benefits are obvious. You do it by establishing firm mandatory guidelines and then severely punish the sociopaths* who have no problem killing others through their rulebreaking. Taiwan, Australia, and New Zealand all have much more lively democracies than the kleptocracy we are stuck with. They just had firmly and rationally implemented rules such as mandatory border quarantine and zero tolerance lockdowns. A coordinated sharp month long shutdown in April accompanied by a $2000/ head onetime payment was very doable, but our kleptocrats were too busy hoarding ice cream and enriching themselves and their billionaire Masters

        Our society is highly functional. It’s only a question of at what.

        NOTE * Eight people in Indonesia who refused to wear face masks ordered to dig graves for COVID-19 victims as punishment USA Today. Instant karma. I don’t know if that would work in the United States. We are not a shame-based society. In fact, it hasn’t worked in Indonesia; their response has been just terrible.

  7. Milton

    Re: Police Prayer
    Perhaps the little puppy should pray for itself as a larger percentage of them die in the line of service then their human brethren. Incidentally, 4X as many police have died from Covid this year than from gunfire. Also, 10X as many hospital staff have fallen than police.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I would like to see Covid-detecting medical dogs given a similar heroic treatment. And how does the dog use its paws to apply handcuffs? Yecccchhh. Wint isn’t generally sentimental (unless the irony was so vast I couldn’t see it).

  8. flora

    Matt Taibbi’s latest article.

    Neoliberal Champion Larry Summers Opens Mouth, Inserts Both Feet
    The former Harvard President and Treasury Secretary offers important thoughts on the negative consequences of aid to the less fortunate

    The genesis of this Summers article is a perfect tale in microcosm about how America’s intellectual elite manages to lose elections to people like Donald Trump. It’s a two-step error. First, they put people like Summers in charge of economic policies. Then, they let them talk in public.


    1. fresno dan

      December 28, 2020 at 2:54 pm

      Summers the day before Christmas appeared on Bloomberg to offer his initial thoughts on why $2000 checks must be bad: he looked at which politicians were supporting the plan, and worked backward. “When I see a coalition of Josh Hawley, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump getting behind an idea, I think that’s time to run for cover,” he said,…
      There are of course different positions one could take on the question of stimulus checks, but the issue with people like Summers is the utter predictability of their stances. Summers belongs to a club of neoliberal thinkers who’ve dominated American policy for decades. From Bob Rubin to Tim Geithner to Jason Furman to Michael Froman and beyond, the people one friend jokingly refers to as the “Rubino Crime Family” ….
      Of course, these same people often believe in jaw-droppingly enormous levels of public aid. Think of the $20 billion in taxpayer funds that went to rescue currency traders in 1995 (presented in the media as a bailout of “Mexico”), the massive IMF bailouts of Asia and Russia in the late nineties, and especially the multi-trillion-dollar Fed-fueled rescues of the finance sector both after 2008, and now (“We’re not going to run out of ammunition,” explained Fed chief Jerome Powell). Other examples include giving companies like Goldman, Sachs 100 cents on the dollar on debts owed them by AIG in that bailout, or the $3.625 billion private intervention to save one crackpot hedge fund called Long Term Capital Management in 1998.
      What is amazing to me, is that the dems still advertise or brand themselves as “liberal” when in fact they are for scr*wing the poor as much if not more so than the repubs. AND the dems get away with calling themselves liberal. Kinda like if MSNBC says it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it actually is a wolf…

      1. Massinissa

        Part of the problem is that ‘liberal’ in American politics has essentially no definition, apart from being not the same as the concept of liberalism everywhere else. In its American context, it’s essentially a buzzword with no concrete meaning.

    2. Laputan

      Perhaps he’s angling for a position in the Biden administration? His pitch couldn’t have been more on-brand, if that’s what he’s shooting for.

      1. Glen

        Or Ebenezer Scrooge in a Broadway revival of “A Christmas Carol”.

        Oh, wait Scrooge wakes up as a changed man.

        Never mind…

    3. bob k

      did anyone notice the pic in the piece where Summers is sitting with, among others, that vile piece of scum Jeffery Epstein? I’m pretty sure they were discussing some important economic issues but…

  9. DJG

    The tweet stream on Jesus’s ethnicity gets some basics wrong, as is so typical of those who have accepted Jesus as their lord and savior. Bathsheba was the local and Hebrew. Uriah is called Uriah the Hittite. That’s kind of a hint.

    All in all, the ERLC piece is an example of something that a Marxist pagan radical writer (and they exist) noted: The constant panicky attempts of Americans to impose their racial categories on the world. The writer doesn’t seem to understand that the Canaanites and Moabites (especially the Moabites) were close relatives of the Hebrews. We’re talking about the equivalents of Germans marrying Swiss.

    But let’s get all dubiously multicultural if it means imposing U.S. racial fantasies on the rest of the world theologically.

    1. AbateMagicThinking But Not Money

      DJG “…theologically”

      The year word game mentioned above is fun but personally I came up against the phrase “bounded rationality” a few years ago and nowadays when I consider cosmology and quantum mechanics I get the expression out and brush it off.

      Of course I cannot resist the temptation to riff on it: Warp Speed Unbounded Irrationality – seems to be the zeitgeist.

      A gaming aside; recently I learned from a December 2020 computer mag that a blow-torch may be required to manage (defrost) certain items in a liquid nitrogen overclocking set up. Yes, a blow-torch!


  10. Ohnoyoucantdothat

    Just an interesting observation. This afternoon, for the first time in my 15+ years in Crimea, the air raid sirens went off. Wife says it was a test. We are an hour’s drive from the naval base in Sevastopol which would be a prime target for a nuclear strike. Wonder why the testing now just weeks from Biden assuming presidency. Just a coincidence?

  11. JWP


    Drones now getting the federal go ahead to start delivering packages. I can already see two things. first, the legal battles from homeowners and landowners with air rights saying drones cannot fly above their property. Second being the NSA slipping a backdoor into the drone’s cameras to spy on anyone. Among issues with birds, planes, and hopefully, people beating up and shooting these things.

    About time to reset this simulation.

    1. Danny

      Anything under 500 feet is your private airspace, meaning you can shoot down the drone and keep whatever is on it. Discharging firearms is illegal in most places, but harpoons trailing nets, radio jammers, slingshots and any other device would make for some fun and possibly rewarding
      skeet “shooting”.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      It might be fun to net a drone and repurpose it after reverse engineering its control software. Maybe have deliveries diverted to a house chosen at random. Send a message back to Amazon “All your drone are belong to us.”

  12. Anonymous

    re Dirt Road Maine:

    You tempt me to move there but my brother is sensitive to the cold and my hopefully wife-to-be might object.

    But thanks for the temporary escape.

    Btw, it was Maine that stood off stubborn Mississippi at Gettysburg and that says a lot…

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      Aw, you should have said it was Tim Sample! I saw him when he did a tour with Marshall Dodge way back when.

    2. ambrit

      We’re still pissed off over that.
      Could it be relevant that both places were and still are mainly rural?

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Gettysburg

      We haven’t gotten to that point on the Civil War Podcast, which I plug again. They’re doing a really superb job of taking apart Robert E. Lee’s reputation*. Such a pleasure!

      * Also, their voices are so soothing. It’s paradoxical that I often fall asleep listening to tales of battle and mayhem, but there it is. Very on-brand for the 2020s.

    1. Cuibono

      two things: the commentator says we know it will reduce deaths. actually that is not yet true. the data suggested that but the CI were very wide.
      second: he says he was confident it would reduce transmission but at least qualified that with a big maybe. I think it alsmost certainly will reduce transmission: the big questin is by how much. and will that reduction be enough to compensate for the inevitable increase in transmission that a lack of symptoms will engender?

  13. time stamped


    Might suggest Peter Daou look into William James:


    Among other works.

    (James coined the terms, stream of consciousness and specious present)

    I think of James when reading Chris Arnade also.

      1. JBird4049

        Her account has been suspended. Gee, I wonder why? /s

        I just might also subscribe. The ruling tribe’s groupthing is strong and I could use some continuing light though the fecal cloud.

  14. Tomonthebeach

    “Is Marijuana Safe? asks Teen Vogue”

    For teens, marijuana is no safer than alcohol because both drugs impair driving and impulse control (reckless behaviors). For adults, alcohol and/or tobacco will shorten your life expectancy. So far, there is no conclusive evidence that cannabis smoking/vaping causes premature death in adult populations.

    As for Yasemin’s assertions that cannabis is not addictive – “I can quit anytime.” is like the cigarette addict asserting that quitting smoking is easy: “I’ve done it numerous times.” Most adults have known at least one pot-head slacker in their life.

    Facts are facts. All drugs are neurotoxic. They work by making your body act differently to lower blood pressure, make the wound hurt less, etc. Taken regularly over time, quitting any drug triggers withdrawal symptoms that vary from individual to individual. It is withdrawal symptoms that motivate the continued use of recreational drugs. Gotta have that cup of coffee and or cigarette when you wake up. So in that respect, cannabis is addictive.

    1. Rtah100

      All drugs are not neurotoxic. Unless you also want to argue reductio ad absurdam that oxygen-based respiration is killing us because of the free radicals and oxidants.

      Most (all?) recreational drugs are neuro-modulatory, acting on the CNS or peripheral nerves, directly or indirectly.

    2. John Zelnicker

      December 28, 2020 at 4:14 pm

      See my comment below, Dec. 28 @6:29 pm.

      If you can find a study showing that cannabis is neurotoxic, please provide a link. Preferably one that doesn’t come from someone with an anti-pot agenda, like Big Pharma.

      The human body has nerve cell receptors specifically designed for cannabinoids, so I have serious doubts that it’s been found to be toxic since 1985.

      Any substance can be addictive if used and abused for the wrong reasons, but marijuana has not been shown to be physically addictive, to the best of my knowledge.

      1. bob k

        yes, you’re right the body has cannabinoid receptors. you can’t go into a dispensary and not see all the printed evidence of that. the body also has opiod receptors but I’m pretty sure you can get physically addicted to heroin which overstimulates those receptors. i don’t claim to be an expert on the endocannabinoid system, and i don’t much care for the stigma-loaded term addiction, but it seems to me that if you overload a system with an outside source of what it produces naturally you’re going to expect more and more of it. what i got dependent on (see my post below) and came to crave was the feelings, the sensation that weed produced for me. call it physical, call it psychological but in my case it was the craving I came to depend on. everyone’s different and weed is benign compared to alcohol and heroin and no one to the best of my knowledge has ever OD’ed on it but I do believe you can develop a physical craving for it. I did.

    3. al

      “All drugs are neurotoxic.”


      An all encompassing categorical simplicity rarely, if ever, describes and/or explains completely that larger complex, nuanced reality of universals and particulars, residing both outside and inside of ourselves.

      So, for example,

      A. “The potential for psychedelic compounds to influence and enhance functional neuronal connectivity, stimulate neurogenesis, restore brain plasticity, reduce inflammation and enhance cognition provides a new therapeutic target and compelling argument for further investigation of the potential for psychedelics as a disease-modifying compound in conditions where currently none exists.”

      “Psychedelics as a Treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease Dementia”


      B. “Psychedelics Promote Structural and Functional Neural Plasticity”


      C. “Psychedelic drug triggers growth of new brain cells in mice”



      The ‘psychedelic’ research Renaissance continues. What fruit it finally yields, remains to be seen.

    4. David in Santa Cruz

      I worked in a youth drug court for several years with a woman who coordinated treatment — she was in her fifties and in recovery herself, an ex- AOR FM radio DJ who had been heavily into coke and booze before going cold turkey and getting her Masters in clinical psychology.

      The youths were getting patted on the head for positive tests for marijuana — “It’s just pot!” The woman came unglued over this — said that she’d rather see an adolescent using crystal meth than smoking high-THC weed. Why?

      Brain development is largely experiential in late adolescence:


      Smoking weed numbs the ability to have and learn from experiences — which ultimately stunts the structural development of hippocampal-prefrontal integration, which can never be recovered and can cause a lifetime deficit in brain development. At least on speed the experiences are vivid — and ill-effects are more from chronic long-term use.

      Maybe that’s the plan for the next generation, as the next link suggests. No career prospects due to the COVID shut-down? An X-Box and a bag of weed and you’re good!

    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      > All drugs are neurotoxic. They work by making your body act differently

      I don’t believe that for a moment. See e.g. Michael Pollan’s How to Change Your Mind, about psychedelics. It’s not his best book, but neurotoxicity? No.

      Another way to think about this, at least for natural drugs like marijuana or peyote, is to look at Pollan’s earlier and better Botany of Desire. Plants with intoxicating properties evolved in co-evolution with us. They “knew,” as it were, our desires, and adapted to meet them. How on earth would be be adaptive for them to poison us?

    6. spro

      “ For teens, marijuana is no safer than alcohol because both drugs impair driving and impulse control (reckless behaviors).”

      This is satire, right?

    7. Jeremy Grimm

      I think Lambert’s aside next to the link captures a concern I have about the cannabis available these days. Most of it is so strong it’s difficult to get a good buzz without taking one hit too many and ending up zoned out. I also wonder at the different combinations of drugs in the high potency cannabis and their impacts on the nature of the high.

      “All drugs are neurotoxic” — sounds like you watch too many old movies from the 1930s [e.g. 1936].

  15. bob k

    re cannabis I can personally attest to the fact that you can definitely abuse it and become dependent on it. this from someone who supports legalization. I smoked weed in University in the late 60s and it was a benign drug – no more than 5% THC. I am now 71 and live in Florida where I got my medical marijuana card and for the past two years have smoked daily a gram a night. I was waking up hungover every day, exhausted and with the worst headaches I ever experienced but I didn’t realize it was the weed until it finally dawned on me that my headaches went away when I lit up at night – duh! I thought it was withdrawal from clonopin which was prescribed for me for anxiety.

    The weed today is commonly 18 – 25 % THC. I know cuz it says so on the labels. And the 720 – hash oil – and dab can be 80% THC. That is insane. For the past year I have been going through hell and didn’t know why. but the good news is that its not at all difficult to quit if you want to. I have now been sober 25 days, I am swimming and biking again, the hangovers and headaches are gone! and I can dream again! If you don’t dream – which I never did when I was abusing – its hard to store memories, so my short time memory was crap.

    So if you want to partake do, but just know that if you abuse it well, as the saying goes, it’s a wonderful servant but a terrible master. I doubt I’ll ever smoke again. I feel alive again. and a final note: the weed is so potent that it’s not even fun to smoke.

  16. chuck roast

    Dirt Road Christmas…a big hat tip to the Roots Controller on The Drive Thru on WERU community radio in Blue Hill live and direct every Wednesday nite at 8 PM EST…irae!

  17. marym

    House passed $2000 checks – 275-134

    44 R’s voted yes
    2 D’s and 2 I’s voted no
    21 R’s didn’t vote

        1. Glen

          Maybe we could get it to pass if we added an amendment to put a big sign on SCOTUS saying “Presented By Mitch!”

          1. marym

            House also voted today to override Trump veto of NDAA. This also goes to the Senate tomorrow.

            “Sen. Bernie Sanders will filibuster an override of President Donald Trump’s defense bill veto unless the Senate holds a vote on providing $2,000 direct payments to Americans…[He] can’t ultimately stop the veto override vote, but he can delay it until New Year’s Day and make things more difficult for the GOP.”


    1. polecat

      taxable? …..

      Because if THAT’S the case, Nancy &co. blew it for mid-term infinity, and beyond!

      The public will come to resent having the peanuts being offered, whilst later to having to scrounge up the shells!!

  18. The Rev Kev

    That deer on the frozen lake sure seems to have gotten himself far into that lake. Meanwhile, in Finland-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GQiMThft7I (11 secs)

    If Lambert is going to be keeping Water Coolers shorter than usual, perhaps one day can be a free comments day to ease the work load off in compiling this page.

  19. drumlin woodchuckles

    Do the Vietnamese pot bellied pigs carry diseases in Puerto Rico which they don’t carry in Vietnam? If so, then ” can’t eat them” is understandable. But if not, then how is it they can be eaten in Vietnam but not in Puerto Rico?

    Depending on what the answer is, maybe the V p-b pigs CAN be eaten in Puerto Rico if they are handled right and cooked right. If so, hunt them and eat them. Mankind has proven itself able to extinctify a species it likes to eat. But if not, then hunting them to kill them out becomes an unpleasant duty and harder to achieve.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      likely for the same reason that people in my part of texas get mad when you speak of eating a horse.
      or a dog.

      which reminds me about a chinese buffet in san angelo that we used to go to….now, when i eat chinese, i check the surrounding alleys for the presence of strays(that chinese family got run out of town, btw)

      1. notberlin

        I’m sort of amazed at this exchange…. for example. To wit: if you call yourself “drumlin woodchuckles,” and you exclaim: “Do the Vietnamese pot bellied pigs carry diseases in Puerto Rico which they don’t carry in Vietnam?”

        Or, if you call yourself “Amfortas the hippie,” and you retort: ….”people in my part of texas get mad when you speak of eating a horse or a dog,”

        My response is that this is inspired comedy. Love it :) A. Lot.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          I took Drumlin’s query to be obliquely asking “why don’t they do the obvious thing and have a barbque?”
          I’ve known a few people who’ve kept potbellied pigs…and they are seen as equivalent to dogs…anthropomorphised and attributed with a sentience that is right up there with man’s best friend(unknown if they lick their own ass, though—I’m definitely a cat-person)
          for years, i was essentially prevented from pragmatic(if unorthodox) pasture and livestock management, because mom kept naming the goats and barbadoes…thus removing them from the menu.
          Can’t eat Judy, after all.
          (Judy the Goat died of old age, and is buried in mom’s yard, right by Peggy the Dog.)
          when i got the geese, i therefore named the two alpha males, George Bush and Dick Cheney….George bit me one too many times, and we feasted upon his greasy flesh…(Dick is still with us; geese can live for up to 40 years).
          don’t know if the point got across(speaking of Oblique digs), but after 10+ years, we have barbados again…and mom hasn’t named any of them, so far.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            That sentimentalized pet-ification itself of the pot bellied pig seems bizarre to me, in that the breed was first developed in Vietnam as a food source to begin with, and not as a pet to the best of my knowledge.

            Vietnam is a densely populated country with many small-holder or tiny-holder farmers who only have room for small or tiny pigs. So the pot bellied pig was developed to be small enough to live on small-farm or tiny-farm ecosystems and grow useful meat and fat reserves ( the “pot-belly” . . . . where the “bacon” is . . . ) on the relatively small amounts of food that Vietnamese farmers could give their pigs. Only in the West did people think: such a cute little pig, such a pet-able house-pet house-pig.

            If Puerto Rico is basically Western enough ( Spanish IS a European language, after all) that they too can’t bear to kill and eat the cute darling little pigs, then perhaps the American Vietnamese community can send organized groups of hunter-finders to kill the pigs, process them for meat, and send the meat back to the American Vietnamese food-business sector. Or at least maybe they can do this once ( if ever) the covid problem is solved. If the Puerto Ricans are even prepared to stand for allowing that, even.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              > Vietnam is a densely populated country with many small-holder or tiny-holder farmers who only have room for small or tiny pigs.

              This is great information, thank you. An adaptation very helpful to peasants gets sentimentalized by the West with predictably bad consequences. “Everybody hates a tourist.” –Jarvis Crocker

              1. drumlin woodchuckles

                I must confess that my “knowledge” of the V p-b pig’s origin story is as much conceptual as fact based. So I tried web searching to see if I could find any supporting facts.

                Here is a wikipedia entry about the V p-b pig. It has a few facts and links. It does seem to be developed for eating and able to eat rough food that people can’t eat. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnamese_Pot-bellied

                And thinking about this made me remember that decades ago I read something about a Mexican cattle-researcher who wanted to research about Zebu cattle and began breeding them down to a size tiny enough to be able to work on them with his meager resources. But they are still real cattle. They can give milk and meat and traction-power in proportion to their size. And they really exist. Here is a link to a bunch of images.

                Tiny pigs and tiny cows. Of what relevance? Well, if we decide to retrofit suburbia as a huge zone of live-in permaculture, mini-pigs and micro-cows small enough to live between the houses and among the yards can be a diffuse source of just-enough complex animal protein derived from these cows and pigs eating Suburbistani detritus which the Suburbistanis cannot eat themselves . . . . to keep the New Retrotopian Villagers alive in their neo-peasant Suburbistani slum-villages.

                Doesn’t sound attractive? Well . . . does starvation sound better?

                And if global warming gives America an India-Vietnam style climate, these pigs and cows should fit right in and be happy.

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          Thank you for the kind words. I wrote my comment with a straight face but sometimes comedy can be accidental. Still and all, I hope my comment pointed to thoughts worth thinking about.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          The Aztecs sound a lot like neoliberals:

          In 2017, Barrera’s team uncovered the Huey Tzompantli, a tower of human skulls that was a monument to the Aztecs’ highest deity, Huitzilopochtli, the god of war and the sun. The conquistadors described a terrifying satanic sight. It was precisely the opposite for Aztecs.

          Aztec ‘Tower Of Skulls’ Reveals Women, Children Were Sacrificed
          THE TWO-WAY
          Aztec ‘Tower Of Skulls’ Reveals Women, Children Were Sacrificed
          “It is important to understand the worldview of the Aztecs,” says Barrera. “The tzompantli was about giving life.”

          As Barrera explains, the Aztecs had deep, complex rituals around death. Aztecs believed their gods needed nourishment to survive and made them offerings of people and animals. For example, offering warriors — primarily prisoners of war — ensured the sun would continue to shine and the Aztecs would be successful in war. The Spanish didn’t see it that way.

  20. dcblogger

    I am reading Stephanie Kelton’s The Deficit Myth and just finished the chapter on inflation. It is a spectacular take down of conventional wisdom and highly recommended.

    1. freedeomny

      I got it as a holiday gift and can’t wait to read! Actually, a very smart beloved (after she had read it) re-gifted it to me :)

    2. Procopius

      That reminds me how much I hate Larry Summers. He objected to $2,000 dollar checks because they “COULD RISK” inflation. Those weasel words have been used for forty years to object to good ideas. I believe Summers is doing this just because he thinks it will please Biden and he’s desperate to get a job in the Biden administration. I have to remind myself I don’t know what he thinks or believes, I only know what he says, which is evil.

  21. freedomny

    “In order to make the year turn toward the light more rapidly,” Ok so this resonated with me :).

  22. John Zelnicker

    Lambert – To answer your query about quality and quantity:

    It is a misconception that cannabis today is much stronger than it was 50 years ago. Until marijuana was legalized the potency was determined from what was confiscated during drug busts. This was mostly cheap, mass-produced, mediocre quality plants. However, there were strains just as potent as anything found today, just very little of it, and hard to find.

    I had the opportunity to try Thai sticks that were incredibly potent (brought back by Vietnam vets), as well as huge buds from Hawaii that were as pretty as a picture and very strong. There really was a strain called Maui Wowie and it was what we called “one-toke” weed. One puff and you were as stoned as you could want.

    In response to some commenters above who have had issues with consuming cannabis, I would note that there will always be people who have a difficult experience with almost any substance, no matter how innocuous it may be for others.

    As far as toxicity, according to the back cover notes on Jack Herer’s seminal work The Emperor Wears No Clothes, published originally in 1985, 100% of dozens of research studies showed that pot has no toxicity, and there has never been a reported death from a marijuana overdose. This, of course, does not mean that some folks can’t have a bad reaction.

    It may also be worth noting that the human body produces its own endocannabinoids that are chemically almost identical to the psychoactive components of cannabis, as well as nerve cell receptors specifically designed for cannabinoids that can be found throughout the body.

    1. bob k

      yes you’re of course right but high potency weed was NOT widely available. i smoked a LOT of weed in the 60s but the only weed that ever rocked me out of my socks was some Vietnamese weed a friend had. I almost walked in front of a car. and you could not get anything like 720 or dab back in the day. and I knew a lot of dealers who got the best of what was available.

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      there’s also experience and (potentially resulting) presence of mind to consider.
      sometimes i get ahold of stronger than usual stuff…and thereby smoke less of it at a time.
      i also think about that infamous maureen dowd column, where she ate a ton of edibles, after a lifetime of apparently avoiding weed….and had a bad experience.
      exactly the wrong way to approach it, lol.
      i keep brownies frozen for bad pain days…like when hurricanes come near…and whenever i make a new batch, i try crumbs, first,lol.

      currently have 4 shots of green dragon whiskey working for new years eve.
      we’ll see how that turns out.

      and! taught a sick buddy(who’s smoked forever, but can’t any more) how to infuse weed in butter. now he gets high on scrambled eggs.

      1. polecat

        Remember that ‘ol Maureen ALSO knocked down a few glasses of vino, whilst in the process of attempting to put sizzled brain to hot frying pan …

        1. John Zelnicker

          The only person I ever knew who got physically ill from smoking was a secret alcoholic. Cannabis and alcohol can be a bad combination if either one is overdone.

      2. LawnDart

        Smoking or vaping weed, especially a new to you strain, is WAY better than the edible route: you can take a few tokes and set it aside, but if you munch you’ve bought the ticket and you’re taking the full ride– you’re not getting off that bus until it leaves you where it leaves you!

        I had a case of accidental ingestion once… I WAS STONED FOR DAYS!!! So when I speak of edibles, it comes from hard learned experience.

        If Lambert posted a subject as the day’s topic, I am quite sure that this readership could pick up the ball and run with it.

        1. John Zelnicker

          LawnDart – Excellent advice.

          A few tokes will wear off within 60 minutes at most, edibles can go on for 6-8 hours.

  23. polecat

    Another impromptu mu$kmelon barbecue.

    “Will that be Flamebroiled .. or the Deluxe Carbonization menu?”

  24. eg

    I read Capital and Ideology — it is very, very good. I prefer it to Piketty’s previous effort, though I also enjoyed that one at the time.

    1. The Rev Kev

      That is an amazing animal that drumlin. What possible evolutionary pressure could come up with a combination like that, I have no idea. Apparently they can survive long periods under water to hide from predators too.

  25. drumlin woodchuckles

    I remembered reading once that another name for “mouse-deer” was “chevrotain”. And I think there are several species of chevrotain. I have found a collection of images of chevrotains. Every picture has its own “URL”. If any of the “URLs” seem interesting, one can click on them and be transported by a kind of “wormhole search” to possible sources of information about chevrotains which text-based search engining will never ever be able to provide, I am afraid.

    Here is the link.

    What kind of evolutionary pressure? Perhaps not pressure so much as opportunity. A little creature able to run around fast on the tropical rain forest floor where there is not much to eat and not need too much to eat and still survive. Any “niche” tends to get filled.

    The tropical forests of Central and South America have mouse-deer-sized rodents which have evolved into the same basic shape to live the same basic way . . . run around on longish deer-like legs hunting for meager food items on the rain forest floor. A classic one is called the agouti.

    Another one is called the acuchi. ( Though a lot of the images in this collection are not rodent-relevant at all. But some are.)

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I think they are all from the same group ( ” sub-family”) of rodents. Big heavy square heads. But their legs do look sort of longish and deer-like for running around fast on the rain forest floor, somewhat like mouse-deer.

        And it occurred to me that there is another group of related animals who evolved in separate-parallel into a similar shape and size and lifestyle to fit a similar niche. And that is the tiniest jungle antelopes of rain forest Africa, the duikers and especially the dik diks. ( Though from the images, they may be more savannah tolerant and my rain-forest-niche memory may be misplaced). Still, don’t they look like that little mouse deer? And yet they are antelopes.

        Duikers seem bigger, but not all that big.

  26. umar

    There is either something in the covid vax, or something surrounding it.

    Is the vaccine a ritual used to bond the majority and exclude a minority? A social cleansing process to purge those who question power/science/media/authority?

    A means to simplify a complicated reality, to provide a story?

  27. umar

    PCR is not a remarkable technique.

    PCR is a research tool. It’s use is severely limited.

    Anyone who claims it can be used to diagnose any illness, condition or infection is a fraud. And I don’t care how many prefixes they have or how many degrees they got at the universities who are part of this virus scam.

    Yet again, you are pushing “the virus is real” myth.

  28. umar

    Covid-19 is a borderless and global operation managed by the militaries and governments of the world against their own populaces, to further the Agenda 21 and Agenda 2030 protocols, using a branding front called The Great Reset to hasten the following protocols:

    Depopulation, sterilization, mandatory vaccination, lockdowns, destruction of small businesses and corporations, robotics and automation replacing most jobs, AI and machine learning data collection of populations, curfews, travel restrictions, global governance, digital passports, Q codes for humans and animals, geotagging of all plant and animal life, carbon taxes, carbon credits, energy restrictions, humans as data storage devices and capital, biometric surveillance, digital currency, GMO consumption and deregulation, land, property and asset seizure of populations, forced UBI, social credit system and a Global Currency Reset.

    This is organized and controlled under the umbrella of the IMF, BIS, World Bank, WEF, WHO and the United Nations, partnering with their 1,000+ publicly registered and traded transnational corporations, along with hundreds of NGOs owned and operated by the billionaire parasite class and central banking cartel.

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