2:00PM Water Cooler 12/7/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, Politics is very light today, but I must hustle along and finish up a post. More tomorrow! –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Quite the morning chorus!


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:

Returning to the upward trend.

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

I feel I’m engaging in a macabre form of tape-watching, but it’s interesting that the big states all moving more-or-less in tandem now; perhaps spread was nationalized with colleges and universities opening and closing? The correlation seems to happen around 63 days ago (October 1).

Test positivity by region:

Nowhere near 3%, though.

Hospitalization by region:

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:

I thought I’d look in on the world’s largest and longest natural experiment in health care policy:

Which country has the better system?


“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


Obama Legacy

Some found this image… challenging:

Valley responds to detractors–

“When Barack Obama Met Frederick Douglass” [Eli Valley, Patreon]. “Another tension or challenge with this comic was, obviously, the risks of racial caricature. This is a particular challenge for political artists, especially of the visual-grotesquerie variety, as any exaggeration risks playing on tropes of historic vilification. I’m not unfamiliar, to say the least, with bad-faith misrepresentations of my art along these lines, but usually it focuses on drawings of Jewish communal leaders. For Obama, I wanted to place him in my visual pantheon of ghouls, that’s how repulsed I was by his remarks this week (and, by extension, by his near-total absence during four years of Trump Administration atrocities). I decided that drawing him as a sleazy/wormy guy, a la Jared Kushner, would be ideal because it would shine a light on him that’s rarely depicted without falling into racial tropes. If wormy is an anti-Black trope, it’s certainly not the dominant one, so I felt it was a good choice. I was self-conscious about not overdoing his lips for the same reason, as that is a dominant anti-Black trope. But in the end it didn’t matter; one person even said the differently-drawn lips were a sign of racism. Another person said the big ear and teeth were a Jim Crowe visualization. To this I’d say Obama has big ears, and it’s formed a bedrock of visualizations of him since he first ran for national office. The teeth charge is less easy to defend, because it is a more prominent element of anti-Black caricature than, say, ears, but again, Obama is known for his toothy smile! So it’s a challenge to do it right, but I thought focusing on worminess, avoiding common tropes but not denying certain physical attributes, was best…. Ghoulish, but hopefully not racist.”

“Obama Agonistes” [Ross Barkan, Political Currents]. “In 2020, a sharp divide exists between a younger left that views Obama with jadedness and derision and the millions in Democratic primaries that selected the candidates he deemed his successors, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden. At the heart of the debate is a truth not always easily reconciled, one worth setting down in blunt terms: Obama was a hall of fame candidate, not a hall of fame president. For those who graduated into the Great Recession and bore the brunt of a neoliberalism never checked, Obama nostalgia offers little: no free health insurance, no canceled student or medical debt, no end to the forever wars. What did you do with your historic majorities, Obama? If you’re a severely underemployed twenty-eight year-old who can barely afford rent and will never own a home, the glories of 2008 are meaningless.”

“Obama’s Curious Cautiousness” [Charles Blow, New York Times]. Deck: “He is a great politician, but he is not an activist.” • 2020 – 2008 = 12…

I think it’s the upgrade that’s depressing and tragic; it looks like luxury hotel room, not a bedroom:

Where’s the messy pile of books on the bedstand? Bring back the bed Truman, JFK, and LBJ slept in, say I. The decor, too. Let’s have a little humility.

Stats Watch

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

Employment Situation: Yikes:

* * *

Banking: “Bank Error in Your Favor: Citi’s Fight to Reclaim $900 Million” [Bloomberg]. “A contractor in India for Citigroup Inc.’s Citibank retail business, Raj had been the ‘checker’ on a periodic interest payment to a group of Revlon Inc. creditors, with the bank acting as administrative agent on the loan. Suddenly he realized that Citi had instead sent some of those creditors the full remaining principal. ‘Bad news,’ his supervisor told the head of North American loan operations by chat on Aug. 12. It was, in fact, $900 million of bad news.” • O felix culpa! Granted, not for Citi.

Commodities: “Factbox: Investigations facing the world’s biggest commodity traders” [Reuters]. • Vitol, Glencore, Trafigura, Gunvor.

Tech: “The nightmare is real: ‘Excel formulas are the world’s most widely used programming language,’ says Microsoft” [The Register]. “Microsoft will let users create custom functions in Excel using the number wrangler’s own formula language. ‘Excel formulas are the world’s most widely used programming language, yet one of the more basic principles in programming has been missing, and that is the ability to use the formula language to define your own re-usable functions,’ said Microsoft…. Recursion, long missing from Excel formulas up to now, can be achieved by allowing functions to be called within functions. What could possibly go wrong?”

Tech: “Robot vacuum cleaners can be used by hackers to ‘spy’ on private conversations: NUS study” [Channel News Asia]. “Computer scientists from the National University of Singapore (NUS) have demonstrated how a common robot vacuum cleaner and its built-in light detection and ranging (Lidar) sensor could be used to “spy” on private conversations, the university said on Monday (Dec 7). The method, called LidarPhone, repurposes the Lidar sensor that a robot vacuum cleaner normally uses for navigating around a home into a laser-based microphone to eavesdrop on private conversations. The research team, led by Assistant Professor Jun Han and his doctoral student Sriram Sami, managed to recover speech data with ‘high accuracy’, said NUS.”

Tech: “If your Apple HomePod refuses to play certain songs, here’s how to fix it” [CNBC]. • “Certain songs.” The URL is more explicit: how-to-play-ripped-music.

Mr. Market: “Dow pulls back from record high as Birx says COVID will be ‘worst event this country will face'” [MarketWatch]. “On the public-health front, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, warned on Sunday that the coronavirus surge ‘is the worst event that this country will face,’ as hospital systems are overrun.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 88 Extreme Greed (previous close: 89 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 88 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Dec 7 at 12:07pm.

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged “Iran voes [sic] revenge against Israel after its nuclear chief is killed” [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 would have expected “Beast Government” to be popping with Biden’s election.

Health Care

“Fauci: Christmas could be worse than Thanksgiving for COVID-19 spread” [The Hill]. “Top infectious [disease (!)] expert Anthony Fauci said Monday that Christmas could be worse than Thanksgiving for COVID-19 spread. ‘My concerns are the same thing of the concerns that I had about Thanksgiving, only this may be even more compounded because it’s a longer holiday,’ he said on CNN’s ‘New Day.’ Fauci noted that Thanksgiving celebrations tend to be shorter as people return to work the following week, but Christmas leads into New Year’s…. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautioned a week before Thanksgiving for people not to travel or gather with people outside of their households. But still, millions traveled by plane on the days before and after the holiday, with the Sunday after seeing the most air travelers in the U.S. since March.”

The messaging is not working:

Cf. Pro 26:11. As I wrote:

We should also hope that Biden, FDR-like, can say that “It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another.” Sadly, our Professional Managerial Class is not known for that.

Here are the activities epidemiologists like Fauci and Fiegl-Ding are undertaking in order by frequency:

Note the low rankings for visiting an elderly relative, attending church, weddings, or funerals, and sporting events (like high school football in Texas). These choices reflect values, and I would bet the values of the people the epidemiologists are trying to persuade are quite different. Perhaps the most resonant reason I’ve heard for refusing to mask up is that masking demands “living in fear.” That’s a values statement. Perhaps the epidemiologists should get off their high horses and start thinking about how to meet people where they actually are, rather than doubling down on fail. (And it’s not like the Blue Oligarchies are any great shakes at this, either. We hear about the damn bikers in Sturgis to this very day, but the stories about Manhattanites fleeing Covid’s epicenter in Manhattan for the Hamptons, the Hudson River Valley, and points West and South, bringing the virus with them, have all died away. Why is that?)

* * *

“On the ground, the pledge to vaccinate 20 million against Covid-19 in December seems unrealistic” [STAT]. “Leaders of Operation Warp Speed have repeatedly said they are on track to vaccinate 20 million people in December, enough for nearly all the health care workers and long-term care residents who are first in line to get a vaccine. But those involved in vaccine planning at four health care systems, in California, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Kansas, told STAT they expect to still be giving staff their first shots in mid-January. These workers would then receive their second vaccine dose three to four weeks later, depending on the vaccine, and would receive the full immunization effects a week after that, in mid-February.” • The hospitals are, after all, going to be busy with other things. Like cases.

“Vaccine Cards And Second-Dose Reminders Are Part Of Warp Speed’s Immunization Plan” [NPR]. “Millions of Americans who are expected to receive the new COVID-19 vaccinations in coming months will need to take two doses of the drug – and the U.S. government says it will issue a vaccine card and use other tools to help people follow through with their immunizations…. People who receive the vaccine cards will be encouraged to take a photo of them or keep them in their wallet, [Army Gen. Gustave Perna, Warp Speed’s chief operating officer], said. Images of a sample vaccine card that were circulated after the briefing show that it will record a recipient’s first and last name and date of birth along with the dates on which they received a dose of the vaccine. There are also spaces to record the vaccine’s name and maker – crucial details, to ensure people get the correct second dose to complete their immunization.” • Well, at least it’s not a chip under the skin. However, I don’t recalll a lot of discussion about this, in the US or (below) the UK.

“No10 stops short of ruling out Covid ‘immunity passports’ despite saying it is ‘not something the PM wants’ – as Wales raises fears of spot checks at pubs and shops by bringing in ID-style cards for people who get vaccine” [Daily Mail]. “[I]t emerged that people in Wales are to receive an ID-style card to show they have been vaccinated for coronavirus. Health minister Vaughan Gething revealed the move as he hailed news that that Pfizer jabs have been approved by UK regulators. The cards will include the date of immunisation, with the Labour-run Welsh government insisting it will serve as a ‘reminder’ about when individuals need the second dose. However, they sparked an immediate backlash with fears of an ‘authoritarian’ crackdown as pubs, shops and other public venues demand to see the proof before people are given access.” •

Helpful suggestion on vaccine uptake:

* * *


“Nothing fundamental will change.”

The Biosphere

“Exxon Holds Back on Technology That Could Slow Climate Change” [Bloomberg]. “Taken together, all the world’s existing capture facilities can zero out more than 38 million metric tons of CO₂ a year. That number, about 0.1% of all global emissions, would have to rise 100-fold to 200-fold by 2050 to meet climate goals, according to the International Energy Agency. Most of these carbon-capture projects are run by fossil fuel companies. Big Oil likes to celebrate the technology: By putting carbon back in the ground, the industry can provide consumers with the benefits of fossil fuel without the full climate impact. ‘If you’re going to ask somebody to actually do carbon capture, oil companies have all the experience,’ says David Use, a former Chevron Corp. engineer who purchased some of the gases from LaBarge for use at the Rangely oil field, about 200 miles south, in Colorado. ‘They’ve got the pocketbooks and the credentials to do the big projects.’ And therein lies the paradox. As Exxon and its peers look into a carbon-constrained future, CCS seems to offer a golden opportunity. Oil companies could develop a tool considered crucial by no less than the scientists with the United Nations-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. But in the absence of strong government support or regulation, the oil industry might not have the will to invest enough. ”

Our Famously Free Press

Only trying to help:

The Conservatory

“Bob Dylan to Sell His Entire Songwriting Catalog to Universal” [Bloomberg]. “Universal didn’t disclose a price for the deal, though Dylan’s songs are worth more than $200 million, according to people familiar with the terms. The collection encompasses 600 works, from early-’60s songs such as ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ and ‘The Times They Are a-Changin” to an album released just this year, ‘Rough and Rowdy Ways.’ Dylan, 79, is cashing in on the boom in music rights. The value of songs and recordings has skyrocketed in recent years thanks to streaming, which has fueled a five-year expansion for the music industry after a deep slump. He isn’t selling the recordings, which are a separate asset.” • I dunno. Dylan won’t be selling merch at concerts much longer. Isn’t this a wasting asset?

Black Injustice Tipping Point

The trouble with uplift:

“Black flight attendant and white airline CEO reunite after emotional talk on race” [ABC]. “Hill [the flight attendant] is now starting a YouTube channel in an attempt to create a judgement-free space where people can talk about topics such as race.” • Hill and the CEO got talking when she noticed he was reading White Fragility. Gawd knows I don’t want to disparage human connection, but the flight attendant is still the flight attendant, and the CEO is still the CEO. Their material circumstances did not change. So identity politics really works!

Xmas Pregame Activities

Not a real thing on Amazon, though:

I wonder what a minimalist Advent calendar looks like….

Class Warfare

The peasant moves to the city for work and sends money back to the family:

News of the Wired

“11 Minutes of Exercise a Day May Help Counter the Effects of Sitting” [New York Times]. “The scientists wound up gathering results from nine recent studies in which almost 50,000 men and women wore accelerometers. These studies’ volunteers were middle-aged or older and lived in Europe or the United States. Combining and collating the nine studies’ data, the scientists found that most of the volunteers sat a lot, averaging close to 10 hours a day, and many barely moved, exercising moderately, usually by walking, for as little as two or three minutes a day. The researchers then checked death registries for about a decade after people had joined their respective studies and started comparing lifestyles and life spans. Dividing people into thirds, based on how much they moved and sat, the researchers found, to no one’s surprise, that being extremely sedentary was hazardous, with people in the top third for sitting and bottom third for activity having about 260 percent more likelihood of premature death than the men and women who moved the most and sat the least. (The researchers controlled for smoking, body mass and other factors that might have influenced the results.) Other combinations of time spent sitting and moving were less alarming, though, and even heartening. People in the middle third for activity, who exercised moderately for about 11 minutes a day, were significantly less likely to have died prematurely than people who moved less, even if all of them belonged to the group that also sat the most.” • The only kind of exercise I can stand is walking. What I should do is walk for an hour each day. Unfortuanately, I can’t do anything else while walking, so the time seems wasted. I hate gyms, so walking machines with a TV or radio on are non-starters. Hmm. Maybe I should get some AirPods or similar and listen to podcasts. As long as I don’t get hit by a car I don’t hear….

Another soulful, non-corporate, non-chain business that did not survive the pandemic:

Apparently this is a bad idea:

* * *

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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. GF

    “11 Minutes of Exercise a Day May Help Counter the Effects of Sitting” [New York Times].


    I walk about 45min to an hour a day and I’m not dead yet. Part of the enjoyment of the walk is not having to do anything for the duration. Sometimes solutions to problems just pop in. If you need to do something, one can have a long article read to you through your phone or iPod while walking.

    1. Katiebird

      When the lockdown started toward the end of March, I decided to start doing floor exercises every morning (What Me Exercise?) I started on the 1st Rung and am now (probably permanently) on the 30th Rung. I haven’t missed very many days. And now it takes nearly 15 minutes to get through it.

      In addition, my husband and I take a 40+ minute walk every day that takes us up hill and over fairly rough ground) and down hill without a lot of flat-level. We don’t walk fast but we do it pretty much everyday (I wonder what happens in winter) ….

      Finally, my fitbit reminds me to walk (if I haven’t already) 250 steps every hour for 14 hours (7am-9pm)

      I figure these efforts will counter my tendency to sit — very much encouraged by my knitting and Naked Capitalism hobbies. Oh and reading novels ….

      I don’t know how to tell if I’m any healthier. But it definitely helps keep me awake!

      1. CanCyn

        Katiebird – I saw this link when you posted it a few weeks ago and I can’t thank you enough for the tip! I convinced my very sedentary husband to give it a try. I do the exercises with him and we’re slowly working our way up the ladder. I am an intrepid walker and this past week he has even come out with me a couple of times… I guess a body in motion stays in motion or some such thing. It was the ‘only 15 mins a day’ that sold him. I am not telling him about the 11 mins a day study ;)
        I try to mediate but sitting and focusing is tough for me, I have quite the monkey mind. Walking is a much better way for me to stay present. And yes, sometimes problems are solved or ideas are hatched even when it doesn’t feel like I’m thinking about them. And sometimes it is just a pleasant interlude with nothing big or small achieved. It is all about the endorphins!
        PS I am with Yves about doing strength work too, even a little is a very good thing.

        1. Katiebird

          CanCyn, thank you for your update. I wish I could remember how I found John Walker’s plan. I know I originally found his diet book, The Hacker’s Diet and this exercise plan is a part of that.

          I wish I could find something similar for strength/weights — I would like to do that too but I don’t have any idea how to start.

          1. CanCyn

            As Yves’ troubles attest, it is possible to hurt yourself with weight training. And you do need some equipment. A gym and some training help/coaching really are the best way to start.

    2. Carla

      “Part of the enjoyment of the walk is not having to do anything for the duration.” Agreed!

      I’ve been walking the residential streets in my neighborhood almost daily since I quit smoking about 30 years ago. I never take a phone along, and it’s never boring. Sometimes I have a destination, usually not. This year we had exceptionally gorgeous summer and fall weather. Because everyone was home last spring, the summer gardens were beautifully tended and lush. It’s harder to get myself out the door during the short, dark days of winter, but I’m trying to keep it up. The best part is the thoughts that come unbidden; sometimes solutions to problems, sometimes just special insights. Now we share our city neighborhood with a large deer population. They sometimes look at me with a clear “What are you doing here?” expression, but then they just turn back to feasting on those yummy gardens.

      1. dcblogger

        I have not taken a proper walk since my dog died two years ago. Somehow just going for a walk is not the same.

        1. Katiebird

          I know. Our Tommy used to walk with us. I don’t know how long we went before we started walking again after his death but it was quite a while. One nice thing that happened was that other walkers asked us about him and told us how much they liked seeing us again.

          I hope you can start taking walks again. It’s hard. I am so sorry for your loss.

    3. Mark Gisleson

      I can’t make myself exercise but I do love skinnerboxing myself.

      • My computer is upstairs.

      • The bathroom is downstairs.*

      • My computer chair is broken and little more than a stool to sit on.

      • I do not have any comfy chairs in my house.

      I doubt I’ve done two hours of uninterrupted sitting since beginning this regimen three years ago.

      *By putting celery in most of my cooking I have significantly increased my use of the stairs.

      1. anon in so cal

        >I used to walk around the block daily. 2.4 miles with a 500 foot elevation gain. I stopped because the streets are narrow and there are plenty of people out walking and jogging without masks. So, I walk up and down stairs 20 – 50 times a day instead (17 stairs).

        >visiting the elderly….driving to visit an elderly relative/friend in another county is the only reason I regularly go out of the house. It’s fraught with anxiety, ranging from having to get gas, getting stuck in traffic, potential car breakdowns, etc. For a while, we’d meet in the parking lot of a park and visit from within our cars, masked, 6 feet apart. One day their car battery gave out, which meant interacting with a tow truck driver. Nowadays, we visit outside their house and occasionally go for masked drives. I compare this to one of my Biden-supporting friends who refuses to “live in fear” and regularly goes out to stores, etc. 10, 528 new cases yesterday in Los Angeles County, alone.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        The above comment is presented as a joke, but making exercise easy to do versus having to think about it a huge factor in success versus failure.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          both my boys have the Gym Bug, due to football, mostly.
          i just go about my business, out here on the farm.
          even when the golf carts not in the shop(sigh), i walk 3 miles per day, easy(according to my phone).
          cutting wood, running the little tiller, hoes and shovels and pitchforks, chasing various barnyard fowl fixing things…except for my skeleton, doc says im in a remarkable state of health.
          doing things low to the ground is the hard part…especially getting down and up….but my legs are as lead by this time of day.

    4. Keith

      I agree. I try for 2-3 15-20 minutes walks a day during work. I either let my mind wander or go out with a problem in mind. Either way, I find solutions to the problem at hand, other issues or ideas pop in or at the very least, my brain gets a little break from reality and is ready to be productive. It also helps beat the PM fatigues.

      That being said, I found a little MP3 player on Amazon that also has a record function, which could be very helpful during a walk.

      1. ProNewerDeal

        Like Keith, I also like using a MP3 player for running/walking. Specifically the clip-on-your-shirt type, with hardware buttons (not a touchscreen like a smartphone), a USB slot for transferring files from computer, NO wireless internet connection (a bonus in case of this product!), a microSD cart slot, & a Fast option for podcasts (eg listen to a 60 min podcast in perhaps 40 mins). Sand1sk Clip Jam is 1 such product local BigBox retailers have, there are other vendors on Amaz0n but I haven’t tried one yet.

        You can copy/paste mp3 podcasts or music songs to the MP3 player.

        Lambert, as far as “worried by getting hit by car”, afaict many/most Murican areas have public parks with trails or schools with track-&-field type tracks open for public use that could be within walking distance or if not for car drivers a short drive away.

        AFAIK some exercise, even just walking 3x/week, is pro health in general & specifically helpful for COVID prophalyaxis insofar as it improves immune system function.

    5. howseth

      “11 Minutes of Exercise a Day May Help Counter the Effects of Sitting”

      Excellent. I love sitting. (Who over a certain age wants to stand all day?) I have stuff to do that forces me to stand – That’s Enough. Last thing I’d buy is one of those ‘Stand-next-too work’ desks – whatever they are called.

      I get some exercise – and am not obese. What I’d really like is a comfortable chair by my computer & recording devices. Ah!

    6. polecat

      Typical workout: wake up – exercise eyelids whilst looking at tiny screen, eat morning chow-whilst Still staring at screen, coffeeslurp, fire up the woostove-push/pull/stretch&bend, walk out down porch steps-watch that ice!-to chicken run, bend-unlatch gate lock .. steps back 3 paces .. pull down & secure popdoor, stand up bend neck forward, say HI! to hens .. in chick jib … vigorously rake leaves mid a.m., forcfully pull carrots from bed, twist&punt tops to hens-‘hi reciprocated’ “booooock!”, lift roofs off hives-check feed trays, ‘duck! Stretch while lifting roofs back on hive stack 6’ high, but do not run-deep breaths! ..despite the dive bombing .. bees react to quick moves!-treat Slow-motion like good friend, lift& haul wood to be sawed to work horses- when sawing, do intense finger grips so as Not to cut through digits, rather than stock, lift cut wood back to shop for finishing. Pull some weeds mid p.m. Swing/Chop/lift&haul wood chips to and inside house for stove-before dark! ……. repeat after next Orb rotation ..*

    7. clarky90.

      Hi Lambert. I wrote my Thesis sitting on a Swiss Ball/physio ball. Have a regular chair on hand for when you want to relax. Pump the Swiss Ball up so that you, the ball and your desk all fit together perfectly. Brace yourself when typing.

      Straddle the ball like a horse to stretch out your adductor muscles. You can bounce up and down- or swivel your hips.

      The opportunity shops here always have them for $5 or so.

      When you are sitting, you are being active. You will end up with a strong core! Rocky Lambert!

      Persist for the first few days, then it is like riding a bike. Simple, cheap….eco…

      1. jr

        Re: simple and cheap

        I bought myself a pull-up bar and installed it in the doorway betwixt the living room and the bed room. I follow no pattern but when I’m feeling antsy I knock out 10 reps or so, over hand, under hand. Also some grip strengtheners. Total cost: 25$ I also installed four flights of stairs and no elevator in our new place.

  2. Lee

    “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.”

    Just heard a doctor on KQED Radio Forum describe how he is monitoring people in their homes on oxygen. This was from a harrowing 1 hour interview with healthcare workers in California, in the midst of their being overwhelmed. I’ll post the link when it becomes available for streaming. I’d call it the “Jesus Wept Edition.”

    1. Lee

      After you’re done here consider this:

      California Healthcare Workers Share Experiences from COVID’s Frontline KQED Forum (52 minutes)

      As of Friday, more than 9000 Californians are hospitalized with a confirmed case of COVID-19 — a state record more than 90 percent higher than two weeks ago, according to state public health data. For healthcare workers who treat very sick COVID patients, the surge is  taking a particularly hard toll. We’ll hear from medical professionals about their experiences and reflections on the frontlines of COVID care in California.


      Amy Arlund, registered nurse, Kaiser Permanente Fresno Medical Center

      Parimal Bharucha, pulmonary critical care specialist, Dignity Health in Sacramento County

      Mawata Kamara, registered nurse, Alameda Health System’s San Leandro Hospital

      Alex McDonald, family medicine specialist, Kaiser Permanente Fontana Medical Center in San Bernardino County

      1. flora

        If anyone is wondering why people in care homes and nursing homes are listed in most states at the front of the line for vaccination; if anyone is thinking “why these very old people who surely haven’t got that much time left compared to younger people in normal circumstances” , consider this: The over-85s age group is the smallest age cohort in the US, and yet it suffers 33% of the total reported C19 deaths. So, if the care home and nursing home residents and their care providers are vaccinated at the earliest, that could well translate into a significant reduction in hospitalizations, especially long and resource intensive hospitalizaions. And that could well result in significant reductions in the stress on hospital nurses and doctors. One hopes.

        1. Lee

          Excellent point. I’m in my 70s with some chronic medical issues for which I’ve postponed a half-dozen diagnostics and procedures for fear of contracting Covid. I’ve had three telemedicine appointments, and my doctors, who are decades younger than I, all look sicker than I feel.

  3. PlutoniumKun

    “11 Minutes of Exercise a Day May Help Counter the Effects of Sitting” [New York Times].

    A few studies have indicated that activity should be more than once a day to counteract being very sedentary. People who cycle to work, for example, even very short distances, seem to have far lower mortality that would be expected – the key point seems to be that they are active morning and evening.

    There are many ways to stop the ill effects of being too sedentary – a simple kettlebell beside your desk (if you are working from home), swung for 60 seconds 2 or 3 times a day can be a surprisingly effective way to kick your heart rate up and help with your crucial glute muscles. Failing a kettlebell, just a bag of potatoes will do the trick too. And you can use them for squats (another crucial exercise for long term joint health).

    Walking is great and a highly effective exercise, as well as the best way to explore your neighbourhood if it is walkable. I’m fortunate in living close to a large park, so during lockdown I could get regular fresh air and a good walk. I generally dislike having headphones, but I did recently invest in a good quality pair bluetooth headphones as it is a way to help with language learning (struggling with Japanese now for a couple of years), and I rarely get the time other wise.

    1. flora

      Thanks. I wonder if the fuller breathing that walking or kettle bell exercise brings, as opposed to the often shallow breathing of sitting for long periods, is part of the health effect. Heart, muscles, and breath.

    2. Yves Smith

      I find this all very depressing since I was once very fit and now have too many busted joints to do anything. Doing all the right things with a poor structure has led to bad outcomes.

  4. Mark Hessel

    I don’t think this is minimalist, but my brother got a beer advent calendar for the season.

  5. flora

    re: Another BLM Co-Founder is now part of WEF’s “Young Global Leaders” program, a 5yr leadership & networking program

    So that’s where some of BLM’s national leadership , including the “trained Marxists”, go? To global neoliberalism’s headquarters, to the World Economic forum, wherein is planned the 4iR and 4th Globalization ? Well, well. B. Clinton crossed a picket line and Angela Davis is promoting the WEF. Buffet and other billionaire are getting quite a return on their investment. Maybe BLM leadership is not as leftist as they claim. If they’re planning a WEF-backed revolution, what’s their “trained Marxist” plan? Using Marxian analysis to promote and excuse mass layoffs, gig economy work, and increasing monopoly power? /(Normally I’d put a snark tag here, but this beyond snark.)

    1. km

      If the political/economic current system is good at nothing else, it is good at identifying whom to co-opt, whom to buy off, and whom to marginalize.

      It’s how some genuinely heroic participants in the Civil Rights Movement were converted into Team D machine politicians. It’s how some Sixties firebrands were neutered into mild-mannered academics and Team D apparatchiks, while others were shuffled off into obscurity.

      BTW, much like the first conspirator to turn stool pigeon gets the best deal, I suspect that the same holds true for would-be sellouts.

      1. km

        Question: is there even a “national BLM leadership”, with lines of authority and meetings and a board of directors and everything? I was under the impression that BLM was a more decentralized and spontaneous organization.

        Of course, if there is no national leadership or organization, one can bet that there will be calls for one, whether an authentic organization coordinating various chapters or an astroturf outfit claiming to represent BLM. Once an organization emerges with an org chart and all, then it will be clear whom Team D needs to co-opt, whom to buy off, and who can be marginalized.

        First thing I’d do is check the trademark registrations. ;)

        1. flora

          Well, there’s the BLM Foundation (of course!), raising money in its own interests even though not officially attached to the grassroots BLM movement.


          And then there’s the Black Lives Matter Global Foundation.

          Grifters gotta grift. (Is the word “Foundation” a tell?) Sorta like what happened with the original Tea Party, not that the politics are the same.

          1. km

            Your last sentence is most telling. It’s not a popular sentiment around here, I suspect, but from what I can tell, the Tea Party was a spontaneous, grassroots thing that was quickly co-opted and became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Team R.

    2. Massinissa

      ‘to the World Economic forum’

      I’m still trying to figure out how right wing conspiracy theorists genuinely believe that the World Economic Forum is trying to form the New World Order. It’s about as baffling to me as some of the Qanon stuff. They’re going to form the New World Order of Neoliberalism, maybe…

    3. Mao "No Landlords Now" Zedong

      All the original BLM founders the Ford Foundation couldn’t buy, the cops killed.

    4. Count Zero

      What on Earth is a “trained Marxist”? Are their trained libertarians and trained Lockeans? Trained Hegelians? Anybody who can describe herself as “a trained Marxist” clearly hasn’t a clue what thinking critically means or what education means. I doubt she has ever read a word of Marx. I seem to recall this was a casual throwaway remark in the course of a radio interview. It is a vacuous remark that has been endlessly repeated.

  6. zagonostra

    >“Bob Dylan to Sell His Entire Songwriting Catalog to Universal” [Bloomberg].

    Dylan selling the rights to his songs to be used as a background/foreground score for commercials has always been a source of contention with friends who are also musicians. Their standpoint is he should be able to whatever he wants with the songs, he is the creator and should have complete control. I on the other hand say using “Blowin in the Wind” to sell Budweiser beer or Chrysler cars belittles the memories that are linked with those songs for the listener and shows his complete disregard for his fans.

    1. Follow the Money

      How much do you think Dylan will earn as dead? My bet is very little.
      His squeaky voice is horrible unless you learnt to love it as young and his fanbase is dying. Comparw this with the price slump of Elvis memorabilia beacuse his fans that were ready to pay top dollar started to die and there was no new generation to buy. Jackson, Elvis and other top earning dead artists at least had a nice voice and good sings to listen to across generations.
      His songs are always better as covers, i.e. Hendrix All Along, Winter Like a Rolling etcetc but there are very few songs that are worth to cover.
      In the best of worlds Dylan cashed in but the buyer sits with a useless pile of songs that are brown and sounds like a bell.

      1. miningcityguy

        Horrible voice. Mediocre musician. Pretty much just a great songwriter but somehow it was enough for him to win the Nobel Prize in literature which I still can’t believe, especially when so many great writers like Don DeLillo have not won.

        1. jr

          Amen, I never saw what anyone heard in the guy. Except for “Girl from the North Country” which Cash did better.

          I always thought a lot of the big name ‘60’s acts were overblown. Sure I liked a lot of the stuff but you would have thought they invented music from all the hoopla. Give me a little punk or metal any day over the Stones. Except “Waiting on a Friend”.

        2. Massinissa

          As a fan, I think his voice being bad is actually part of the appeal, though obviously its an acquired taste sort of thing.

          1. Big Tap

            Do have any idea how many artists had hits with Dylan composed songs? The Byrds (particularly their early hits) , the Band, the Animals, Jimi Hendrix, the Turtles, Peter Paul and Mary, Manfred Mann etc. His forte is as a composer/wordsmith not necessarily as a performer though some do like his style.

        3. Aumua

          Unpopular opinion:

          Bob Dylan is one of the greatest vocalists of all time. I mean yes his voice has that nasally quality of course, but what he does with it… I don’t know man, I think that anyone who says Dylan is a bad singer has never really heard him sing. They’re hung up on the nasal tone.

      2. ShamanicFallout

        I just don’t get that take at all. He was always about his songs but much more than that. He was a lightning rod. He was channeling something at an explosive, creative time. It wasn’t about a “squeaky voice” or whether he was a great guitar player. Like Ginsburg said- he was a musical shaman; onstage like a column of air. Someone said about Dylan in the mid 60s, onstage he was LSD.
        There is a reason (cliche alert) that he was ‘voice of the generation’. I mean, the guy was absolutely revered by the Beatles, Hendrix, the Byrds, the Band, the Dead, pretty much everyone. Watch the Scorsese movie the Last Waltz, supposedly about the the Band, but it’s really just a lead up to the appearance of Dylan.

    2. Alternate Delegate

      Contrast Tom Lehrer, who just put all his songs in the public domain, with Bob Dylan, who’s flipping the extortion rights to some corporation for one last wad of cash he doesn’t need.

      It doesn’t really matter anyway since it’s all going to be public domain sooner rather than later. But it’s good to notice who’s on the right side of history, and who’s not.

    3. notabanker

      I would take the $200M and run, so I certainly cannot blame him for doing so. Question is why he held out so long. You could do a lot with that, way more than whatever studio it is coming from.

      1. Carla

        Turned out to be $300 million. He was a great songwriter and businessman. IMO, crappy singer, but that’s just me.

        Great contrast with Tom Lehrer putting all of his genius into the public domain. Thank you, Prof. Lehrer. As a piano tickler, satirist, and lyricist, you are a class act.

    4. The Rev Kev

      Not a great fan of his songs but that is not the point. By selling all his songs, does he not lose control? Let me illustrate. Suppose some woke-warrior went to Dylan and said that they had a problem with some of the lyrics for his “Blowin’ in the wind.” And you know that it can very easily happen. I do not know what Dylan is like but I can guess what he would tell them. But now you have a gate-keeper in the form of corporation to all those songs. You know that a corporation would listen to a woke-warrior because they would worry about a social media frenzy attack. Then suddenly you do not hear “Blowin’ in the wind” much anymore. Or maybe that corporation will leave most of his songs in a vault for some commercial reason. How many old films are being deliberately not released these days as an example. Or are not put online which makes them disappear. If you are a Bob Dylan fan, better save those songs. And no, not in the cloud. That is yet another fickle gatekeeper.

    5. pjay

      I’ve been seeing a car commercial lately with Pete Seeger providing the music. I was just telling my wife the other night that I bet Pete is turning over in his grave. Then I read about the Dylan deal.

      My feelings about Dylan have gone up and down over the years. I loved his early songs, and a lot of his later work is pretty good too. It’s not uncommon that artists fail to live up to the ideals inspired by their art. I don’t know if I begrudge Dylan his millions. But I agree with zagonostra that I’m gonna hate it when I hear Blowin’ in the Wind in a beer commercial.

  7. cocomaan

    The death of Roadside America was truly heartbreaking. My dad brought me there as a kid and I had a model train hobby for awhile, maybe as a result. He and I enjoyed a lot of hours working on the train set. Once, I electrocuted myself when playing God and making “lightning” in the miniature town by plugging in and unplugging the lamp nearby as fast as possible.

    However, Roadside America had been on the decline for years, Covid just meant there were no more buyers. I’m cynical, however, and wonder if they are just putting this news out in order to find a buyer.

    What Roadside needs is a Netflix drama in order to get people buying up model trains the way they’re buying up chess sets due to Queens Gambit.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I had a model train hobby for awhile, maybe as a result. He and I enjoyed a lot of hours working on the train set.

      I have similar memories. That was a good parenting decision, getting the trains. (My father also had big tinplate trains when he was a child; I wonder if any of us have passed model trains on, or whether the hobby will die out, which would be sad.)

  8. BlakeFelix

    I just use cheap sony over the ear headphones and listen to a podcast or a book on tape with my cell phone (Motorola g7 power). Which is like $200 and has a battery that lasts for days!

  9. Altandmain

    So Josh Hawley is working with AOC and Sanders on a stimulus.


    I’m happy that if Hawley and his ilk can change the GOP, it might be for the better. I’m increasingly of the opinion that Claire Mccaskill losing to Hawley was a very good thing.

    Hawley is far from perfect, but a major improvement over the GOP types like Paul Ryan.

    1. a different chris

      Yes the “beauty” of the Democratic Party’s large tent was it guaranteed nobody needed to do anything.

      Now there may be “gridlock”, but you know the world keeps turning. Eventually Somebody will realize that they have to Do Something about Whatever. So instead of the McCaskill/Manchin types doing the Republicans work for them, they will have to do it themselves.

      And who knows where that will lead. Probably neither far nor fast enough even if it is in a relatively correct direction, but at least it will be The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe sort of entertaining.

    2. ChiGal in Carolina

      this is how we get there, if we do. an example people on the ground should follow. thank for the link!

  10. bob

    “Apparently this is a bad idea:”

    The reviews are funny, but this idea is the enemy of linesmen everywhere. People use this or something similar to this to “easily” plug their generator into their house after a power outage. One end into the generator plug, the other into a wall plug. It backfeeds the power and all the plugs in the house are back on. Miracle!

    They forget to cut the main power. The power is then backfed through the fuse box into the service line and back to the transformer on the pole. Power company guy climbs the pole to reconnect the power after it has been restored and gets killed by being completely blown off the power pole. He’s connecting a mains to a generator. Lots of trouble. Both wires are pushing power to the guy on the pole.

    1. flora

      Yikes! I never knew that could happen. Hope my friends with generators for power outs know about this.

      1. jo6pac

        Yes an off grind solar and generators there’s device that can’t remember the name that disconnects the system from the power company at your house the house stay powered up. Almost all solar panels companies install systems that turn off when you lose power. That seems to defeat the purpose of solar I think.

      2. Glen

        Power transfer switch. These disconnect the house panel from the line power when you switch to the generator. Houses with solar panels use much more than that involving batteries, inverters, etc, and have to constantly ensure that you are not back feeding power into the grid

    2. Mason

      Is there something that prevents sending power to the grid, a circuit breaker? I’m not an electrician so I wouldn’t know but there should be a safe-guard that detects a power loss in the grid. Frankly I don’t want to spend 10,000-20,000$ on the ‘Cadillac’ treatment for a grid tied system. I would prefer something that gives me backup power for the most critical things only and have it ready to activate in my house.

      Plug in Solar systems only cost about 2000-3000$ depending on system size and DIY (I ain’t DIYing it until I take an electrician’s class) or assisted installation. They also would chip away a good chunk of my electric bill even if it doesn’t fully power the house.

      So what would stop the power from being back-fed into the grid and wiping out a lineman?

      1. bob

        If the generator is wired in by a professional, it should be OK. It’s not hard to do it correctly. It does cost more.

        Non professionals use things like the double male extension cord.

        1. jr

          This reminds me of a terrible but hilarious practical joke from the land line era:

          During a bad thunderstorm, have someone call a friend and explain they are from the phone company. Inform the mark that they are not to answer the phone for the next half hour, as someone will be testing the lines and calling all of them, thank them officially and hang up. Wait about 10 minutes and call them back. If they answer, scream horribly and hang up.

          We did this to a buddy’s dad, he duly answered and I screamed bloody murder and hung up. He called my buddy a minute later to tell him he thought he had killed someone. My buddy told him the joke and his dad told him to stay at my place that night.

  11. Wukchumni

    When I rarely see somebody inside a building sans mask, I take off mine to give them a really dirty look.

  12. LibrarianGuy

    I really admire the strength and clarity of Eli Valley’s cartooning. The call-out of Obama fits like a glove and no wonder it has all the Libs outraged, and he had to explain & defend his artistic choices. Yes, “wormy” in the Jared Kushner mode is spot on.

    I had only previously been aware of his work when Chapo Trap House did an episode with him in March of 2019, partly about a cartoon he’d done making Chelsea Clinton the Madonna of the sensitive, “woke” Neolib elites, for which Valley got accused of . . . anti-Semitism!! (Even though the Clintons are clearly not Jewish, and as I recall, Valley evidently is.) Link here– https://twitter.com/elivalley/status/1107719709280141313

    He does an awesome Pelosi as well, apart from the b/w format she looks appropriately like one of the ghouls from the censored 1950s EC comics that got Congress’ (esp. Kefauver’s) panties in a bundle.

    Now that I see Valley’s on Patreon he may be someone I add to the mix of those whose work I support.

    1. dcblogger

      I was surprised that Obama caught so much well deserved flack for his put down of defund the police. Admittedly my twitter list is lefty, but I assumed his defenders would come out in force, but I saw none.

      1. ambrit

        Fear trumps ideology for the 99%. The true believers fear nothing. G–, or Marx, or Cybele, or Cthulhu is always “with” true believers. In America, as in any Proto-absolutist society, the Forces of ‘Law and Order’ are now worshiped in a cultic fashion. They have been ‘built up’ as the protectors of the PMC ‘elect.’ Defunding the Police would be a renunciation of the ‘exceptional’ nature of the ruling elites and their enablers.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I was surprised that Obama caught so much well deserved flack

        I don’t think his book helped him, beyond the usual circle of sychophants.

        Every time I read it — I just read the Libya section — it gives me the megrims. Such distortion! What’s frightening is that he could really believe what he’s saying…

      3. Spring Texan

        That surprised me too, and pleased me! Maybe his arrogance is now so great and public that people will start getting a clue.

  13. zagonostra

    >Brazilian soy farmers push ahead with 5G Huawei project

    The future of farming.

    In a 5G smart farm, wireless sensors connected through 5G can monitor field conditions such as the weather, air, soil parameters, crop growth, and detect when crops need watering, pesticides, or fertilizer and what are the optimal quantities, CGTN.com reported.

    Smart farming also replaces farmhands with all kinds of smart agricultural machinery and devices, such as automatic irrigation systems, agricultural drones and self-driving tractors, CGTN.com reported.


  14. UserFriendly

    Maybe I should get some AirPods or similar and listen to podcasts. As long as I don’t get hit by a car I don’t hear….

    Bone conduction headphones. I’ve used several different types. These work well. You can still hear other noises around you, they are great for driving. If you listen with the volume up people around you can also hear noise, though not necessarily be able to make heads or tails out of it. The more expensive ones claim to be better at minimising the noise other people hear but I’m not sure how much I believe that.

    1. Pat

      I’ll second that suggestion. At home or in the office I can use earbuds or over the ear headphones. On the street, I wouldn’t dare, there are too many ways to get flattened on the street and sidewalks in Manhattan. (I have grown to fear bikes and scooters, too many riders ignore the laws.) while traveling or in public, conduction all the way.

  15. Wukchumni

    “Bob Dylan to Sell His Entire Songwriting Catalog to Universal” [Bloomberg]. “Universal didn’t disclose a price for the deal, though Dylan’s songs are worth more than $200 million
    I can hear all the music i’d like from any era for free, just by tapping out words on the keypad, nobody buys recorded music anymore and the only moneymaking venue left is concerts, which aren’t happening again anytime soon.

    I like Bob Dylan, and hell yeah i’d sell myself out for a fifth of a billion if there’s somebody that’ll pay that extravagant amount.

    But similar to a newspaper selling for a like amount and then trying to get me to read beyond the headline for a crummy buck for 3 months worth, and when on chance I get my mitts on a dead tree edition, and there’s scant advertising, so how do fishwraps make money?

  16. ChrisAtRU

    “Obama’s Curious Cautiousness”

    Well, well, well … what do we have here?

    Pardon my barely containable rage as I see rabid establishment apologist Charles M. Blow engaging in the kind of faux awareness that he couldn’t summon say, four years ago …

    To employ the parlance of #LeftyTwitter: this you, bro? (via NY Times, Feb 2016)

    “I cannot tell you the number of people who have commented to me on social media that they don’t understand this support. ‘Don’t black folks understand that Bernie best represents their interests?’ the argument generally goes. But from there, it can lead to a comparison between Sanders and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; to an assertion that Sanders is the Barack Obama that we really wanted and needed; to an exasperated ‘black people are voting against their interests’ stance.

    If only black people knew more, understood better, where the candidates stood — now and over their lifetimes — they would make a better choice, the right choice. The level of condescension in these comments is staggering.”

    I wonder if the same level of condescension could be interpreted in the coward Blow’s current (and politically safe by a distance of four years) assertion that:

    “This moment needs the radical young activists. It needs them to push far and hard. It needs them to confront the power structure, to stare it down, to demand its dismantling.”

    Oh … so it’s cool to push far and hard now, is it?!

    People like Blow are rancid in their fealty to the very oppression they claim to resist. There is no meaningful interaction possible with them. They are best relegated to irrelevance.

    1. Laputan

      Charles Blow is also the first to employ the same condescension when referring poor whites voting against their own economic interests when voting for Republicans, never acknowledging all the cultural and political industrial machinery dedicated to keeping those poor Republican voters poor and voting Republican. It’s always just those poor dumb voters’ fault.

      Interesting how its condescending whenever that logic is applied to the black vote when they do that exact thing in the democratic primaries. It’s almost as if Charles Blow is a bad faith actor who uses identity as a shield for his PMC interests. Almost.

    1. Lee

      To be fair, there has been significant counter messaging too. The withholding of material support commensurate with the truthfully dire messaging is a criminal failing.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > The withholding of material support commensurate with the truthfully dire messaging is a criminal failing.

        Yep. Demanding that you climb while simultaneously sawing through the rungs of the ladder or kicking it away entirely seems like a PMC speciality…

        1. polecat

          a)ssholean • t)otalitarian • c)orrosive • g)rifters

          ‘rungs of a ladder’ indeed! I think many are in need of some seriously ‘m)isfunctional’RNA .. ‘STAT!

          how’s that for a kickstart?

    2. a different chris

      They may not be so doubling down as giving up and venting. Remember, they actually don’t have a lot of physical contact with “these people”, and can easily reduce it to no contact at all. “Die if you want to, you misguided martyr!” is what I’m hearing.

      Who in Trump land is reading somebody named Elizabeth Rosenthal in the New York Times???

  17. Donald

    “ Perhaps the epidemiologists should get off their high horses and start thinking about how to meet people where they actually are, rather than doubling down on fail.”

    Actually that seems as much a job for anyone as epidemiologists. They study public health and not public persuasion. So does anybody have a suggestion?

    I doubt the guys in the video were open to persuasion by someone they would regard with contempt. The message would probably have to come from someone they respect. The guy he is talking to is wearing a Trump cap, so the argument probably has to come from a fellow Trump supporter.

    But the guy asking nicely and even begging them to wear a mask— that predictably only made them dig in their heels

    1. a different chris

      Or maybe no matter how you approach it, it’s like trying to teach a pig to sing?

      We are in this awkward position where other people’s stupidity can get *us* killed. There are many things the “coasts” should be lectured on when it comes to Real America.

      But I’m not so sure about this. What are we supposed to say? How are we supposed to say it? We want them to wear masks and they don’t want to — there is a brilliant horse trainer, Madison Shambaugh (sp?) whose classes family members have attended. Competes in, among other things, free riding – no saddle, no halter, no nuthin. And they start the contest with an unbroke horse.

      The point is that she also hilariously has a zebra. She’s been trying for years to ride it, don’t think she’s accomplished it yet.

      I don’t think we are quite dealing with zebras but they’ve been so poisoned against us it’s sure showing the same dynamics. I don’t believe in the “you identify the problem, so I expect you to identify the solution”, so I’m not expecting Lambert to figure out for me how I would talk to my neighbors who still have Trump yard signs. And worse, this particular subject is a dark comedy because you have a mask on and they don’t. So you already are wearing colors…

      Really, does anybody actually have a clue about how to get to these people?

      1. verifyfirst

        This afternoon, my Governor (Michigan) came on the radio and announced a extension of her stay at home order for 12 more days, no doubt causing a frenzy among all sorts in the state. She talked about data, and science, and saving lives, and trends–well, she used those words, she did not actually provide much facts on those topics.

        But really, all she should have said–from the beginning–is this:

        If you want the economy to be open, wear a mask. 95% mask wearing and we have no lockdown.


        If you want to sink the economy, DO NOT wear a mask (and broadcast to everyone your complete lack of giving a rat’s rear end).

        That’s all.

        This makes clear the selfishness of not wearing a mask, and the hypocrisy of those who proclaim the economy needs to stay open while they don’t wear a mask. Put the onus on the refusers–THEY are causing the shutdowns should be the messaging–they are the bad guys.

        It’s like if you want to go to Petosky…..but you refuse to travel. Ok, you have the right not to travel, but understand, if you don’t travel, you won’t get to Petosky.


        C’mon America, don’t you want to do Covid better than those stink’in Commies???!!!!

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I am guessing that part of the problem is that aerosol transmission never sank in, hence the necessity for masks did not. This was not helped by the initial downplaying of masks by WHO, CDC, and Fauci.

          1. BoyDownTheLane

            One would think that would be clear to anyone who understood why Frank Olson was defenestrated at the Statler, or why General Jack Wheeler III ended up in a dump in Wilmington, DE. Or anyone who had read Albarelli’s works on “le pain maudit”.

        2. verifyfirst

          My Governor even went so far as to say it’s nobody’s fault, it’s a virus. But the spread is very much somebody’s fault–the people who don’t follow the rules. So call them out.

          1. Spring Texan

            Even though I’m doing the things you want I cringe when people say FOLLOW THE RULES FOLLOW THE RULES and it makes even compliant me want to defy you. Though I’m not. It has an ugly ring and little humanity.

        3. Duke of Prunes

          Then there’s the problem of all these politicians breaking their own rules. It makes an inquiring mind wonder if maybe this thing isn’t so dangerous since our “betters” certainly aren’t acting like it.

          Just to be clear – this is not my opinion. I’ve lost a good friend and a few acquaintances so far. However, just watching behaviors, this is one conclusion I could have easily drawn (if someone tells me to not touch a hot stove, but then keeps touching it when they think I’m not looking, then it’s not unreasonable to conclude maybe the stove isn’t that hot). My current theory is that these narcissists don’t think it can happen to them because they’re so special.

      2. ChiGal in Carolina

        see the link above about Josh Hawley and AOC working together. start by conceptualizing yourself as not fundamentally different from “these” people. ultimately everyone is driven by Maslow’s hierarchy, no?

        1. a different chris

          I have trucks. They have trucks. I have horses. They have horses. I have multiple acres. They have multiple acres. Obviously since we live on the same street, we have the same government representatives.

          I actually could talk to them before Covid, and probably can talk (thru my mask) to them now. About trucks, horses, land… but not about politics.

          I simply can’t talk to them about the rat’s nest the Republican Party has become. I am just an engineer, not a PhD in sociology. I can’t do this.

      3. Katniss Everdeen

        Maybe you could start by not referring to them as “these people.” Gotta say, even written down as opposed to spoken, the disdainful sneer is as plain as the mask on your face.

        1. a different chris

          I live with them. They are not like me. BTW, you are the most judgmental person on here so I guess you know best about sneering at others. However, think I’ll skip your advice thanks.

      4. dcblogger

        I am with a different Chris, it is a little exhausting to deal with people whose sense of entitlement causes them to behave in a way that puts the rest of us at risk. yeah, those in positions of power should work on messaging. certainly the retailer’s trade association should work on a focus group tested public service announcement that would help persuade people. but I am tired of all the excuses made for people who will not listen to reason. I am not the most selfless person in the world, but I got the message and have been wearing my mask for months. I expect to be shut in my apartment all the way until summer, maybe even next Christmas, partly because a bunch of arrogant buffoons won’t wear a mask.

      5. Josef K

        I was just food shopping, a middle-aged woman was wearing no mask and talking on her phone the whole time. I asked an employee to talk to her–she just said “I’m exempt” and went back to yakking on her phone.

        Edit: I’ll add that if this person really had a medical exemption, they wouldn’t be sauntering around yakking non-stop, I mean non-stop, on their yak-stick. Her medical problem, aside from probably antisocial personality disorder and/or narcissism, would appear to be yak-stick addiction.

        I was told they will ask but not demand the person wear a mask or leave. Why not? Fear of losing a customer, it seems. Maybe when it warms up I’ll walk in with no shoes, no shirt, but a mask on, see what happens.

        A foreign friend recently told me it’s a $1000 fine for refusing to wear a mask in their country. Sounds like a good idea to me, the self-entitled can b*tch and whine all they want while the late fees and penalties stack up.

        1. Phil in KC

          Game it out: if you ask the maskless customer to leave, you lose that customer and perhaps (luckily) their anti-masker friends. If you allow the maskless person to roam freely about your store, you’ll likely lose an equal amount customers who follow the guidelines, plus their friends, and lose some goodwill, because by refusing to enforce health measures you put your customers, your staff, and yourself at greater risk. And for what? Free-dum? I err on the side of being responsible.

          1. Procopius

            Just a reminder. It may be more than losing a customer. They may leave for a while, and then come back with a baseball bat or a gun. I’ve seen a few news items where that happened.

      6. roxan

        You can’t persuade people–you have to make them want to do it. I think these mask rebels might respond to appeals to their patriotism, as in–wearing a mask is a symbol of supporting your country, showing you’re a member of the ‘team’, like a team jacket. On the other hand, each side now has established insignia, so probably too late.

      7. jr

        “how to get to these people”

        Yeah, try a decent, well rounded education. When I was doing in person culinary instruction a few years back, I learned quickly that the surest way to lose an audience was to use a word like “molecule” and that was with the PMC’s who were regretting skipping their science elective too many times. “Working class” types take it as a personal insult and will sneer. Both shut down pretty quickly; I dumbed it down and everyone immediately relaxed.

        Then I had to explain the four button scales to them. Want to see a scientist or engineer lose their cool? Explain to them, in front of a room full of their colleagues, how to power up a scale. I had the good hearted folks from McKinsey one evening, some of the “sharpest” idiots I’ve ever encountered. Point being: lots of people just shut out information if they feel it threatens their self image, if it casts them as ignorant. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn a lot of anti-maskers are just embarrassed by not understanding how and why they work.

        1. a different chris

          This is actually good advice, with one caveat:

          >When I was doing in person culinary instruction

          You entered the conversation as an instructor. I’m just some guy getting the mail with a mask on.

          Now, I have discovered in my life that sometimes you just wait people out. Even the biggest blowhard runs out of breath eventually. At that point, you have a shot at “instructing”.

          But I’m not a real patient person. And I don’t know why I have to explain water is wet. This shouldn’t be on me. These are not children.

          1. jr

            Totally agree, I wouldn’t try instructing in such an instance either. I was decrying, in a more general way, the lack of basic science knowledge as well as peoples’ automatic defensiveness when it’s pointed out to them. Little inclination to learn, even on the part of the learned. It’s all chimpanzee status posturing…

        2. Count Zero

          “How to get to these people”

          I think you are right jr. But I think too it’s a refusal to be bossed around and the pleasure of annoying other people. You can’t get to them. You just have to accept it. Bullying, pleading, moral blackmail, histrionics will make things worse by increasing the pleasure of upsetting you.

          Stay away from anybody in an enclosed space not wearing a mask. Avoid dangerous places like bars and restaurants. On the other hand, masks outdoors are not usually necessary. And maybe dial down the pleasure of being morally superior and castigating strangers in a public place for not confirming to your requirements? After all, one person — especially without symptoms — is unlikely to infect anybody. So look to what you can do for yourself. Let others learn from their own experience. Ever tried to convince somebody to stop smoking?

          1. jr

            Agreed, it’s that “false freedom”, the sugar rush of telling someone to fob off, even when what they are telling you is in their own interest.

      8. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Really, does anybody actually have a clue about how to get to these people?

        We have insanely successful marketing and public relations firms in this country; it’s one of the few things we still do really well.

        I would suggest they be consulted, because obviously the public health establishment is completely fucking this up.

        NOTE As far as “these people,” you do realize, do you not, that by not wearing masks they are following the guidance given at the start of the pandemic by WHO, CDC, and [genuflects] Dr. Fauci, stock ramper and noble liar extraordinaire?

        You might also consider that the instant — i.e., not at all data- or science-driven — reaction by most public health professionals to mass marches by Black Lives Matter protesters was to support them, masking be damned, while simultaneously condemning Trump rallies. (I know that as soon as understanding aerosols kicks in, the two cases can be distinguished, but that was not clear at the time.) Do you think “these people” were too stupid to notice that?

        It’s really the worst messaging imaginable, almost criminal in its badness and poor effects. One might almost think that to these professionals the essential matter is their authority, not the content and the effects of their guidance. And now, of course, unwilling as they are either to admit failure or to take responsibility for it (a generic PMC failing, see the Clinton campaign debacle, the ObamaCare launch debacle, the CDC testing debacle, Obama’s stimulus and foreclosure debacles, and before that Iraq) they are throwing up their hands in despair and saying “There is nothing to be done.” And after studiously ignoring deaths of despair, too.

        Does the concept that trust must be earned cover the case?

        1. John Anthony La Pietra

          I cannot speak in general, but masking was certainly NOT canned at the BLK rally in the small town in Michigan where I live.

          1. John Anthony La Pietra

            Now that’s an interesting autocorrect. I guess it was my phone’s “canned” response when I typed “damned”. . . .

  18. verifyfirst

    Labert says: “Bring back the bed Truman, JFK, and LBJ slept in, say I. The decor, too. Let’s have a little humility.”

    Indeed. Here is a nice quote I have never forgotten from Truman, who:

    When Harry Truman left the White House in 1953, historian David McCullough records, “he had no income or support of any kind from the federal government other than his Army pension of $112.56 a month. He was provided with no government funds for secretarial help or office space, not a penny of expense money.”


    “I could never lend myself to any transaction, however respectable,” Truman later wrote, “that would commercialize on the prestige and dignity of the office of the presidency.”

    Harry Truman’s obsolete integrity

    1. The Rev Kev

      Looking at that image, that bedroom was not made for the Obamas to sleep in. It was made to be looked at and admired. There are some books on the nightstand on the left side but I notice that there are no ash trays. They must have been put away for the photographer.

      1. John A

        The Steele Dossier famously claimed that Trump hired Russian prostitutes to pee on the bed Obama slept in on a visit to Moscow (and the episode was taped as kompromat). By extension, one would suppose Trump would do the same thing to the mattresses in the White House. Or am I missing something?

  19. Riverboat Grambler

    The Douglass comic reminds me of a Matt Stoller comic posted on Daily Kos in days of yore. It was right after the “we tortured some folks” look-forward-not-backward brouhaha and the comic portrayed Obama sitting on a front porch in a stereotypical country bumpkin outfit, a single straw in his teeth, reclining comfortably in a rocking chair. “Yep, we tortured some folks…”

    The comic was obviously lampooning Obama’s adoption of a folksy rhetorical style to downplay and whitewash a government policy of torturing human beings, but this was Daily Kos, baby! Numerous accusations were made that Stoller was invoking the loathsome “porch-monkey” stereotype, an interpretation only possible if one ignored all context: Obama is black, and he’s on a porch, therefore racism. What got me was that when questioned, the people leveling that charge could not even bring themselves to type out the term that they were accusing the artist of invoking, not even in the context of articulating a horrible phrase in a discussion among ostensibly non-racist participants. Talk about “purity politics”.

    It served as an early lesson on how identity would become weaponized to cover for awful policy. Good old DK.

  20. chuck roast

    Michael Beschloss on the White House bed:

    Would any self-respecting “historian” ever be caught dead commenting on the various incarnations of the presidential suite? Only if said “historian” is a milquetoast kind of researcher, and a powerful breast-stroker amongst the swamp creatures. During my DC days, I remember seeing him on Connecticut Avenue up by the zoo. This was in his early period as an unofficial, go-to soporific for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. He had just gotten his hair-plug implants, and he was at what one might call “the horse-$hit” stage of his new hairy head. It was very weird looking indeed. But baldy-beans are made for radio, and coifs are TV essentials. Both he and his hair appear to have fully embraced the contemporary Kardashian Historiography.

  21. flora

    Wood Thrush song: love the Wood Thrush and the Western Meadowlark songs. They’re now silent in the winter, and I’m “treated” to only the grackels’ gracks and the occasional sparrow chirpings. Short staccato notes, mostly silence, not the long exuberant songs of spring and summer mating seasons. But spring will come. The lovely Thrush’s bird song is a reminder of that. Sort of like the seed catalogues arriving in January and February, which one can pour over in the winter and dream of coming spring and gardens of veg and flowers. :)

    1. Judith

      On my daily walk yesterday down here in the Boston suburbs I saw cherry trees and pussy willow both flowering. Strange fall.

      Don’t forget the Carolina wrens, who sing year round.

      (Walking and noticing)

  22. The Rev Kev

    “Obama Agonistes”

    This could be an interesting dynamic in the years to come. You would have Obama pumping out book after book trying to polish and protect his “legacy” while a rising generation has to deal with the consequences of his eight years in office. And they would not automatically offer him their fealty as why should they? And that would set them against all those people that fell for the kool-aid while he was in office. Those people won’t want to admit that they were suckered by him as he has now become part of their identity. Almost part of their lore. Interesting times ahead.

    1. Daryl

      I’m not sure if negative takes on Obama books have been as widespread as they seem to me (filtered though by my own preferences). But it sure seems to have been quite an own goal.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The positive takes amount to “Obama once again spins his own patented oratory in book for where he describes how he was once the President. I wonder if he can hook me up with Hamilton tickets.”

        Like his actual Presidency, the “positve” reviews seem to simply not be about the book at all but the Obama lifestyle brand.

        1. polecat

          Just you wait! Next up – ‘BamaStyle Quarterly … or somesuch. I mean, he’s now what?..branched out into Comedy, lol!

          ‘uurrrrpppppp …’

          wouldn’t put it past him looking forward, not back

          towards the greater accretion of $$$☆☆☆dom – and the ever shameless promotion of ironponies, for all of lowmoke-istan.

    2. flora

      You would have Obama pumping out book after book trying to polish and protect his “legacy” while a rising generation has to deal with the consequences of his eight years in office.

      To think that O , in trying to place his hand on the tiller of history’s judgement with his book writing, is going to lose to Nixon’s much better and more believable efforts. Who knew that the ancient Greek goddess Nemesis, goddess of retributive justice, had a sense of humor. / ;)

    3. Glen

      Jumps up and down waving upraised hand wildly…

      Me, me. me, I was fooled, I thought we were even done doing the BS that Clinton and W pulled, dumping Glass-Steagall, the deregulation, the triangulation, all that crap. Heck, Time magazine even had a picture of him on the cover as FDR:


      I mean, it was obvious to EVERYONE. Reaganism had completely failed, Neolibreralism had (i.e. Clinton) had completely failed. Greenspan admitted to Congress that a LIFETIME of assumptions was WRONG. We had suffered a economic collapse because of deregulation and greed. Even Time magazine agreed, we needed FDR, we voted for FDR. We need a New Deal. We had done it before, we had a road map.

      By the spring of 2008, it was obvious Obama was going to take the crooks on Wall St that ran THE WORLD economy into the ground, and put them RIGHT BACK IN CHARGE. Obama is a COMPLETE POS! We lost a once in a generation opportunity to pull our country back from the brink. And look where we are now.

      Then Obamacare, a MASSIVE government backer bailout of the failing American corporate healthcare insurance system.

      I am a lifetime Democratic voter, I have not voted Democratic for President since then.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        he’s still the only Dem i’ve ever voted for for president.
        only repub, too.
        after the bush2 darkness, i fell for his soaring oratory…but the shine was off the rose by a month after inauguration.

        1. Hepativore

          …and yet all of the major media outlets with the exception of Fox News as well as most of the older, reliably Democratic-voting public still regard Obama as being a messianic figure of prosperity and wisdom.

          I mean sure, the fact that Obama was little more than a neoliberal con artist was blatantly obvious to anybody who cared to look for all of his presidency and the years after. The problem is that the people that have anointed Obama as a saint projected onto him what they wanted to see and hear. They see no reason not to believe what the likes of CNN and MSNBC tell them nor will they ever stoop to listening to something like the Rising, Humanist Report or Secular talk and they will tune out anything that is critical of Obama and dismiss it as Russian propaganda or coming from whiny millennials.

          The point is, these are not the sorts of people that would be caught dead reading something like Naked Capitalism even if they are the ones that need to the most.

          I can already hear the rationalizations and Biden apologists creeping out of the woodwork when Biden makes retroactive cuts to Medicare and Social Security as part of his planned austerity initiative to carry out Obama’s Great Legacy.

        2. polecat

          One has to notice a conjurer’s handiwork in action, to belie what he does not want you to see ….

          We ALL succumb to such at times. I do remember the eve when Barry gave his inauguration speech, thinking ‘well, we’ll see, won’t we …..’ then once I saw his cabinet choices, I knew the plebs were in for a royal screwing. The perennial ACA ‘tribute’, to be relinquished each tax season, was the slippery icing on a cake that contained many a sacchine layer.. and from that first extortion on, I seared .. like a StarTrek horta ..into stonecold resolution, that Logic would dictate – NO DEMOCRAT VOTE I – “stsssssss”

          So I felt compelled, when the chance finally arose, to vote Klingon instead ..TWICE!

  23. roxan

    Roadside America closing is a great loss. So was Zern’s farm market and flea market–another place I shopped for about 50 years. They closed because of an internet rumor that said they were shut, and shoppers stopped going.

  24. Amfortas the hippie

    “I wonder what a minimalist Advent calendar looks like….”

    well, this is what i strive for…and have strove for, for all my adult life.
    i try mightily to ignore/not hear the entirety of the “Holiday Season”.
    it was whole lot easier when we didn’t have satellite tv.
    back then, and when the boys were little, we’d do xmas eve with familia, and xmas morning just us….and then i declared it over.
    i allowed a tree to go up on Epiphany, and tore that thing down on new years day.
    i’ve loathed the entire exercise since i was 14 or so.
    fakery and enforced joy and pretension.
    and all the males are supposed to love football.
    (me:”can’t we at least go outside and wave branches at each other?”)

    a lot of this particular pathology is due to the worst things in my young adulthood happening during this time of the year…wreck, to just coming off the road because of the cold, and the cops finding me again….and also, winter is pretty painful all by itself, for me.

  25. SerenityNow

    “The peasant moves to the city for work and sends money back to the family”

    It looks like she is living in what today would be called a “single resident occupancy” or SRO unit, rendered illegal by most municipal zoning codes (yet still popping up in old single family homes that have to pretend, for the sake of local regulations, that they aren’t apartments). Just another way to make being poor more illegal.

    1. epynonymous

      The local city council is slowly coming to grips with the fact that single unit occupancy or there abouts *is* the local economy.

    2. I have 5 housemates

      Looking at it I think…living alone…killer view…I’d take it over where I live now.

  26. kareninca

    I hate walking as exercise; I find it unbelievably boring. But I have an elderly friend who lives alone and is lonely due to covid. So I walk every night at the same time and call him every night and we talk as I walk. He is a co-religionist so we could talk about that, but instead it is usually about what he had for dinner and how much he enjoyed feeding peanuts to the local crows. There might be someone out there whom you could call daily.

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