2:00PM Water Cooler 1/13/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, again the extraordinary volume of material and my (thanks, Tim [snarls]) Apple-driven workflow woes have me behind the eight-ball. I will sort through more material and write a continuation of yesterday’s essay, hopefully by 3:00PM. –lambert UPDATE All done. The essay is more of a rant. Actually.

Bird Song of the Day

#COVID19

At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart from 91-DIVOC. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site.

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.

Vaccination by region:

The South is the national champion for vaccination, so far, although the Midwest is now coming up on the outside.

Here are the states of the South (as defined by the US Census):

Case count by United States region:

Big states (New York, Florida, Texas, California):

Oh, California!

Test positivity:

Synchronized drop, weirdly.

Nowhere near 3%, anywhere.

Hospitalization:

Holy moley, an enormous jump in the West. The Northeast seems to be holding steady after its jump, so maybe it’s not reporting. Hospitalization is 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 (plus deaths):

Fatality rate looking a little better, though still not as good as two months ago.

* * *

IA: “Iowa won’t immediately offer COVID-19 shots to all seniors, despite federal recommendation” [Des Moines Register (JG)]. “Iowa does not plan to immediately offer coronavirus vaccinations to all people older than 65, as the federal government recommended Tuesday, the Iowa Department of Public Health said…. ‘Once we have reasonable confidence that supply meets the demands of this broader eligibility criteria, we will activate the broader distribution criteria,’ the department said in a news release Tuesday afternoon. ‘From the very beginning (of) this distribution effort, it has been our goal to reach all Iowans.’ Iowa’s vaccination program, which started in mid-December, has focused on front-line health care workers and residents and staff of long-term care facilities so far.”

PA: “‘We must show patience’: Pa. vaccine rollout faces criticism as unused doses pile up” [York Daily Record]. “Health officials in Pennsylvania — much like those in other states — face mounting criticism for their slower-than-promised coronavirus vaccine rollout as public health experts and President-elect Joe Biden slammed what they said was poor planning and a lack of urgency about ‘getting shots into arms.’… Pennsylvania mirrored those numbers with only 311,477 people vaccinated as of Tuesday. That’s only about 33% of the nearly 830,000 doses shipped to the commonwealth to inoculate front-line health workers and residents and staff of nursing homes, making it rank 33rd in the nation for inoculating residents, according to the CDC.” • You don’t get “shots into arms,” ffs; you get “shots into people’s arms.” I wish I knew who invented that vile locution.

VA: “Virginia investigating if website has been incorrectly telling Spanish readers they don’t need the coronavirus vaccine” [Virginian-Pilot]. “A translation problem on the Virginia Department of Health website apparently has been telling Spanish readers they don’t need the coronavirus vaccine. The issue came up during a Virginia Vaccination Advisory Workgroup telemeeting Monday. Dr. Rebecca Vargas-Jackson, a member of the group, said her students at George Mason University were the first to bring it to her attention. Before the faulty translation, the English passage simply meant the vaccine wasn’t mandatory, she said.”

Politics

“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

Inaugural

“Secret Service launches massive security operation to protect Biden inauguration” [WaPo]. Paragraph six: “Veteran Secret Service and Homeland Security officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share their worries….” • Well, at least the anonymous intelligence officials aren’t in the lead. It’s wise to remember that these are the same people — press and intelligence community — who brought us RussiaGate. They have not changed. There’s no indication thay they’ve thrown away their playbook, which has after all worked well for them. I don’t doubt that the situation is dangerous, even unprecedented, as the Capitol seizure was unprecedented. It’s not clear to me that the Post and its sources are the ones to explain the nature of the danger to us.

“Right-wing extremist chatter spreads on new platforms as threat of political violence ramps up” [Politico]. “With the threat of future political violence looming, a surge in online extremist chatter is increasingly taking place in private groups and encrypted messaging apps with little, if any, rules about what is posted…. But the severity of the threat is increasingly hard to ascertain, in part because of the crackdown that authorities have already put in place on message boards. That crackdown has driven would-be insurrectionists further underground and scattered their activity across innumerable platforms, including one — TikTok — that’s best known as a hub for teens to share videos. The diffuse, chaotic nature of the online chatter has fed into a climate of fear.” • You say “climate of fear” like that’s a bad thing. Anyhow, they got forced off the plaforms and now nobody can track them, good job. What on earth did anyone expect?

“We’re bringing the war back home” [sings] (1):

“We’re bringing the war back home” (2):

Impeachment

UPDATE “Trump impeachment: six House Republicans indicate they will vote in support – live” [Guardian]. Cori Bush: “The 117th Congress must understand that we have a mandate to legislate in defense of Black lives. The first step in that process is to root out white supremacy, starting with impeaching the white supremacist-in-chief.”

“Group of House Republicans wants Trump censured” [PIX11]. “A group of moderate House Republicans has introduced a resolution to censure President Donald Trump for his role in last week’s attack at the Capitol and for ‘attempting to unlawfully overturn the 2020 presidential election.’ The group, led by Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, said in a statement Tuesday that they believe Democrats’ push to impeach the president for a second time is unrealistic and would likely result in acquittal by the Senate. Instead, they said they believe the House and Senate should censure Trump to ensure that Congress “can unite to hold the president accountable.” • MoveOn’s original position re: Clinton.

Capitol Seizure

Let’s never forget the Capitol seizure happened in America:

Not Germany, not Italy, not Spain. America.

And he’s not wrong, is he?

Although roundly mocked — Gohmert is indeed eminently mockable — by the usual suspects.

Some Congressional reactions:

“Mikie Sherrill says unidentified lawmakers led ‘reconnaissance’ tours ahead of Capitol attack” [Politico]. “Sherrill did not identify the lawmakers she was referring to, how she was able to describe their activities as “reconnaissance” and how she knew they were connected to the riots that consumed the Capitol the following day. She told POLITICO on Wednesday that she’s referred her information to authorities.” • Sherrill is a CIA Democrat.

“‘It was like looking at evil’: The Capitol attack through the eyes of the Massachusetts delegation” [Boston Globe]. “‘Every panic button in my office had been torn out — the whole unit,’ [Sarah Groh, Ayanna Pressley’s chief of staff] said, though they could come up with no rationale as to why. She had used them before and hadn’t switched offices since then.” • This seems to be the only such incident that has surfaced in the week since the Capitol seizure; pix would have been nice.

Some backers:

“Here Are The Donors To Tea Party Group That Helped Organize Pre-Riot Rally” [The Intercept]. “Donors to the Tea Party Patriots Foundation, one of the groups that helped organize the January 6 rally preceding the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol, include the Jewish Community Federation and late billionaire Republican donor Sanford Diller, according to a 990 form submitted to the IRS by the tax-exempt nonprofit in 2019. The right-wing organization was listed on the March to Save America website alongside groups like Stop the Steal, Turning Point Action (an affiliate of Turning Point USA), and Women for America First, according to a report last week from Documented, a watchdog group that investigates corporate influence. The March to Save America website is down, but archived versions list several participating organizations. Supporters of President Donald Trump gathered for a mass event outside the Capitol last week, aiming to coincide with challenges to Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. The rally culminated in a mob attack on the Capitol that left five people dead. The Tea Party Patriots’ tax filing was obtained by Eli Clifton, the a senior adviser at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, who shared it with The Intercept.”

Participants:

“Six Republican lawmakers among rioters as police release photos of wanted” [Independent]. “Tennessee state lawmaker Terri Lynn Weaver told the Tennessean that she was ‘in the thick of it’ during the rally before the storming of the Capitol. She said there was ‘Just a whole heck of a lot of patriots here.’ She later tweeted a picture of the mob at the base of the Capitol, saying: ‘Epic and historic day gathering with fellow Patriots from all over the nation DC.”” • All the lawmakers, as was Weaver, are state legislators. “Patriot” might be a good word to reclaim.

“What covering heavy metal taught me about spotting Nazis” [Columbia Journalism Review]. “a close look at his hairy torso made Angeli’s leanings clear: when I zoomed in on his tattoos, I noticed white power symbols—Angeli was quite literally wearing his fascist sympathies on his heart. I knew what I was seeing because I recognized some of the same iconography hidden in the margins of black-metal albums…. The Encyclopedia Metallum, a kind of crowdsourced metal Wikipedia, has been an invaluable resource in examining album details and discovering links between seemingly harmless artists and their racist collaborators. Sometimes a werewolf is just a werewolf, but often it’s a sign of something more malignant.” Of the horns dude: “[A] close look at his hairy torso made Angeli’s leanings clear: when I zoomed in on his tattoos, I noticed white power symbols—Angeli was quite literally wearing his fascist sympathies on his heart. I knew what I was seeing because I recognized some of the same iconography hidden in the margins of black-metal albums.” • I think the headline is a little deceptive. Led Zeppelin is heavy metal; so far as I know they have no Nazi sympathies. Black-metal is a later derivative, no? Can any metal fans in the readership comment?

Consequences (1):

Consequences (2):

Consequences (3):

Consequences (4):

“Consequence” discourse makes my back teeth itch is because to me, the political class of the United States includes the most consequence-free people on the planet, save only the oligarchs it serves. This is the political class that allowed life expectancy to drop without making it a political issue. With no consequences. This is the political class that deindustrialized flyover and sent our manufacturing capability to China. With no consequences. This is the political class that still embraces the war criminals who brought us Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, and Yemen. With no consequences. Within the political class, the Democrats wagging their fingers while yammering about “consequences” are the party that never even did a post mortem on the 2016 election. No consequences. The party of RussiaGate. No consequences. The party whose base is protected from globalization by credentials and guilds. No consequences. This is the party whose response to the last crash was to sail off in half-empty lifeboats like Titanic survivors.

For that, consequences, as we see. Matthew 7:5 is relevant:

You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

Of course, it’s the “you hypocrite” that sets off my moralizing fury (and Matt 7:5 is more subtle than one might think: What about the log(s) in my own eye?). But on reflection I think it’s the “you will see clearly” part that is far more important. Will a now-dominant party and a party’s base that cannot see clearly — that refuses, over and over again, to self-reflect or hold itself accountable — be able to attain the strategic insight and operability capability to deal with the current, multiple crises? We must pray that they do (those of us who pray). I have my doubts.

Transition from Trump

“‘I’ve Been Selfish And Arrogant, And I Apologize,’ Says Content, Mentally Healthy Trump Minutes After Social Media Ban” [The Onion]. Trump: “Over the past quarter hour, I’ve realized that caring for others, lending a hand to someone in need—these are the only things in this world that can give a man true integrity. I hope you all have it in your hearts to forgive me for my pride and my many failures in this life.” • This classic of the same genre is, I think, better.

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.

“December 2020 CPI: Year-over-Year Inflation Rate Grows” [Econintersect]. “According to the BLS, the Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) year-over-year inflation rate was 1.4 % year-over-year (up from the reported 1.2 % last month). The year-over-year core inflation (excludes energy and food) rate was unchanged at 1.6 %.”

* * *

Finance: “Walmart to launch fintech startup with partner Ribbit Capital” [Banking Dive]. “The details of Walmart’s new fintech startup are scarce. The Bentonville, Arkansas-based company did not disclose the name of the new entity, specific services or a launch date. The retailer said the strategic partnership ‘will bring together Walmart’s retail knowledge and scale with Ribbit’s fintech expertise to deliver tech-driven financial experiences tailored to Walmart’s customers and associates.’ The startup will be majority-owned by Walmart and its board will include Furner, Walmart Executive Vice President and CFO Brett Biggs and Meyer Malka, managing partner of Palo Alto, California-based Ribbit Capital. Walmart said its plans to add independent industry experts to the fintech’s board and build a management team of experienced fintech leaders. The company also plans to grow the startup through partnerships and acquisitions with fintech companies.” • A “tech-driven financial experience.” Who comes up with this drivel? Does it mean something to investors?

Retail: “E-commerce in the pandemic and beyond” (PDF) [Bank of International Settlements]. “In terms of e-commerce, the pandemic unfolded in three basic stages: (i) a precautionary stage; (ii) a

stockpiling stage; and (iii) a shelter at home stage. Proprietary data from Mercado Libre shed light on which products saw the highest demand in each stage (Graph 2, left-hand panel). Initially, as the Covid-19 virus spread across Asia, Europe and the Americas, consumers made precautionary purchases of medical supplies, eg hand sanitiser, disinfectant and facemasks. In the second stage, after a pandemic was declared, consumers stockpiled household essentials such as personal care products and non-perishable foodstuffs. This is consistent with uncertainty about the length of government containment measures. Finally, in the third stage, technological goods, exercise equipment and entertainment and education services were in high demand. This reflects the fact that more activities were being conducted at home, and teleworking and home schooling became more prevalent. This stage was particularly important in the Americas. While in some countries in Asia and Europe lockdowns were often in place for a matter of weeks, in some parts of the US and Latin America, non-essential retailers were closed for months.”

Shipping: “New world record set for shipping rates: $350,000 per day” [Hellenic Shipping News]. “It has never been more expensive to get a container of goods across the ocean. But it’s not just containers. Liquified natural gas (LNG) shipping is also rewriting the record books…. In the case of container shipping, COVID has supercharged rates as consumers switch purchasing from services to goods. In the case of LNG, shipping rates have been driven up by extreme winter weather in Asia (LNG is used to generate power for heating), LNG production outages in Asia and Panama Canal congestion.”

The Bezzle: “This Year, Autonomous Trucks Will Take to the Road With No One on Board” [IEEE Spectrum]. “In principle, developing an autonomous truck can be somewhat easier than developing an autonomous car. That’s because unlike passenger vehicles, trucks—in particular long-haul tractor-trailers—generally follow fixed routes and spend most of their time on highways that are more predictable and easier to navigate than surface streets.” • As I’ve been saying for years: When your algorithm is broken, control your inputs. Anyhow, I’m sure robot trucks will experience no trouble driving over those long, straight roads in flyover. No trouble at all, and especially not at night.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 68 Greed (previous close: 69 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 59 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 13 at 12:05pm.

Health Care

“Hatzolah EMS Service Could Land Flying Ambulances On City Streets” [Bklyner]. “Hatzolah Air, a newly formed air division of the volunteer emergency medical service (EMS) organization whose independent chapters serve mostly Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn and around the world, announced last week that it pre-ordered four air ambulances from an Israeli aerospace company called Urban Aeronautics. Renderings from press releases announcing the purchase show a futuristic-looking vehicle landing on crowded city streets to assist at the site of an accident.”

A long but useful thread on airborne transmission:

“social mask, the intelligent mask that can identify air-borne pathogens” [designboom]. “MIT’s pandemic response lab launched an initiative asking designers, researchers, engineers, scientist, or anyone to reimagine face coverings and PPE. today we present you with the winning entry, the social mask by burzo ciprian, a young designer and engineer from romania…. the front of the mask contains a modular device that can be removed or replaced while integrating the biosensors, bluetooth capabilities, and an air vent. on the side, users can find another filter ventilation system, the temperature sensor and its display. the intelligent mask can connect to your phone via a dedicated app with different functions like temperature tracking, particle status checking, or a map with surrounding users. collecting the data from the mask, the algorithm realizes a percentage of the possible infection with SARS COV-19. all users will appear on the map so that an uninfected person avoids the area with possible infections.” • All nice ideas if the data can be collected. I myself would settle for a visualization of airflows (via CO2 concentration?). Which reminds me: Presumably sending aerosols up into the air to get them away from people at ground level would be a good thing (or would it? Aerosol experts please weigh in). Something along these lines:

The 420

“Mexico moves to create world’s largest legal cannabis market” [Al Jazeera]. “Mexico’s health ministry on Tuesday published rules to regulate the use of medicinal cannabis, a major step in a broader reform to create the world’s largest legal cannabis market in the Latin American country. The new regulation, signed off on by Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, will now allow pharmaceutical companies to begin doing medical research on cannabis products. The cannabis reform taking place includes the recreational use of marijuana and would create the world’s biggest national cannabis market in terms of population.”

Guillotine Watch

“Slouch or Slack Off, This ‘Smart’ Office Chair Cushion Will Record It” [New York Times]. “A technology company in eastern China designed ‘smart’ cushions and gave them to its employees for their office chairs as part of a product study. The cushions were supposed to monitor their health, note bad posture as a sign of possible fatigue, measure heart rates and tally minutes spent at work stations. But when the company’s human resources manager began inquiring about employees’ long breaks and early departures from work, it soon became clear that the cushions were also recording the last thing employees wanted their bosses to know: when they were absent from their desks, potentially spelling trouble for workers.” • What, no options for electrodes and automatically closing wrist straps?

Class Warfare

“Dollar General offers workers four hours pay to get COVID-19 vaccine” [The Hill]. “Dollar General announced on Wednesday that it is offering its workers four hours of pay if they go get the COVID-19 vaccine. The company said the offer is currently only applicable to front-line workers, but it plans to extend it to its distribution and transportation teams. The offer is only an incentive and the company will not require its workers to get the vaccine. ‘We do not want our employees to have to choose between receiving a vaccine or coming to work, so we are working to remove barriers (e.g., travel time, mileage, child care needs, etc.) by providing frontline hourly team members with a one-time payment equivalent of four (4) hours of regular pay after receiving a completed COVID-19 vaccination and salaried team members with additional store labor hours to accommodate their time away from the store,” the announcement states.’ Dollar General is one of the first larger companies to incentivize its employees to get the vaccine. The more essential employees who get the vaccine, the safer customers will feel shopping in those stores.'” • Half a day doesn’t seem like enough time.

“Report of Ombudsperson” (PDF) [White & Stradley, PLLC, Attorneys At Law]. Of the American Economic Association: “Reported bullying based on sex includes yelling, screaming, throwing objects at a victim, breaking objects in front of the victim, and making a threatening move to cause a victim to feel she was about to be punched. Also reported is less physically threatening conduct such as pressuring a complainant to party more, to party less, not to work with students, to allow students to get all the credit for their work, to be more friendly, less friendly, less threatening, or less attractive. Sexual harassment allegations include rape, attempted rape, unwanted touching, unwanted grabbing (to the point of leaving bruises), inappropriate suggestions of sexual encounters, and gaining entry into a complainant’s secure workplace through personal connections, in order to visit the victim without permission.” • Horrid stuff.

News of the Wired

Chumps:

No.

So some private equity firm can rent out the robot? Really?

“Are Straight People OK? How We Can Improve Heterosexuality” [Teen Vogue] and “What to Do When Your Friends Keep Judging Your Relationship” [Teen Vogue]. • Make up your minds! (The department heading for both is — you guessed it — “Identity.” To be fair, Teen Vogue actually has a labor reporter. Nevertheless….

“French gastronomy: The origins of haute cuisine” (video) [France24]. • I’m not filing this under Guillotine Watch, I only learned to eat over the age of 40, and French cuisine in Montréal taught me how. Food can give a lot of pleasure, and that’s before we get to the conviviality promoted by eating together, a value people are increasingly desperate to have in the pandemic.

* * *

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 (HH):

Hh writes: “The leaves have fallen from our persimmon tree here in central Texas, revealing the fruits that we overlooked when we made our persimmon harvest last month.” Lovely composition.

* * *

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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.

183 comments

  1. Mikel

    RE: “Walmart to launch fintech startup with partner Ribbit Capital” [Banking Dive]

    “A “tech-driven financial experience.” Who comes up with this drivel? Does it mean something to investors?”

    To get a bump in stock price a company has to show fealty to the techno-feudalism of the future.

    Another thing that I’ve been noticing: EV of 2020 is the .com of the late-90s. A lot of the .com of 90s was hyped before there was a sufficient infrastructure to support the wilder dreams. Same with EV.

    Also, all that mining that will be needed for materials for batteries and such isn’t really the epitome of “green.” Won’t have wars for oil as much, but wars for minerals? And the disposal of batteries…I think of in the landfills with old cellphones.
    So “green.”

    Reply
    1. Michael Fiorillo

      I’ve read that EVs have considerably more potential/embedded energy in them than traditional autos, primarily via the batteries, and at best take years to net out as carbon/thermodynamically superior. Any better-informed readers able to rebut?

      Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        The generally accepted figure I’ve seen is that EV’s require about 15% more energy in construction – i.e. their embedded energy is greater. But this is far outweighed by the much lower energy required for their use. Even if the electricity is 100% coal derived, over a 10 year lifetime an EV emits about half the CO2 of an equivalent ICE car. Plus, they are more energy efficient at the end of life and recycling.

        Reply
    2. Temporarily Sane

      “A “tech-driven financial experience.” Who comes up with this drivel?

      Everything is an “experience” these days. In a
      news story I saw recently about people fleeing from war zones the interviewer asked his guest to “tell us about the refugee experience.” The English language is being strangled and beaten into a deformed shell of itself in front of our eyes (and ears). Management and military jargon abounds and the list of words that no longer mean anything (e.g. amazing, literally, terrorist, experience, innovation, inclusive) grows ever longer.

      This drivel, as you aptly call it, is everywhere. A lot of people use it because that’s what they’ve been taught or they just mimic the style they see and hear around them. Euphemisms and tortured phrases are replacing succinct descriptive words in professional and vernacular communication

      Over the holidays I “reached out” (i.e. contacted) someone who I haven’t talked to in a while. Her reply to my email began “Thank you for reaching out to connect.” This is a well-read, very literate person but she nonetheless has been infected by the nonsense-speak bug.

      It’s super annoying but there’s not much you can do about it besides not using such language yourself and lightly poking fun at people who do.

      Reply
  2. Synoia

    Trucks generally follow fixed routes and spend most of their time on highways that are more predictable and easier to navigate than surface streets

    “Generally” is doing a lot of work here, and those pesky surface streets are featured on the departure and arrival of every truck.

    I wonder about the who is liable for accidents, and survival rate of the other road users (Cars and Drivers), which are perhaps not so predictable.

    If they were to install steel wheels, could these trucks be called “Trains”? I believe an autonomous train more practical than autonomous trucks – but there is still a marshaling and delivery complexity to trains.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I believe an autonomous train more practical than autonomous trucks

      I’m not sure about that. Trains have enormous mass, and “driving” them (as the Brits say) really is a skill. And accidents happen very, very quickly.

      Reply
      1. Charger01

        Robo truck jacking will soon become a thing. Victimless crime, only the AI and insurance companies will suffer. Soon we’ll have armed convoys instead of using independent operators to heavy haul….because efficiency!

        Reply
        1. gc54

          So guard the robo-truck with Boston Dynamics “dancing” (AKA combat maneuvering) robots. If the truck is carrying batteries then the predation loop is complete.

          Reply
      2. Synoia

        Trains are heavy because steel on steel driving friction is low, and can only be increased with weight.

        I learnt this from the “Thomas the Tank Engine” books, where wet fall leaves on a rising rail could cause the engine to lose traction.

        Reply
    2. John Anthony La Pietra

      Delivery by trucks has complications, too — unless we’ve suddenly standardized the approaches and getaways for freight bays (not just the ramp heights).

      Reply
    3. TsWkr

      Funny you mention trains, but the North Dakota legislature has taken up a bill allowing for “road trains” aka extra long trucks. It seems like it would still need Federal approval on any interstate.

      https://apnews.com/article/north-dakota-legislation-e205011491a294fc8581b0028e3e24a4

      Without fully autonomous driving and not much ability to expand rail capacity, we may see the development of a new mode of freight which mixes autonomous + larger size on some sort of hybridized piece of infrastructure with dedicated right of way.

      Reply
  3. diptherio

    Overheard online:

    It’s cheaper and more successful and more efficient to find a penny item at Amazon, mark it as a gift, include a message in the gift invoice, and have Amazon deliver that gift, than it is to send a postcard via the United States Postal Service.
    https://dobbs.town/@onan/105549165910907755

    NYC DSA posted an interesting infographic about the dreaded “job application process” on the twitter a few minutes ago. 1,015 apply, 8 get hired and last more than a week…data from a warehouse job, apparently:

    https://twitter.com/NYCDSA_Ecosoc/status/1349421399102922753

    Reply
    1. Phenix

      Warehouse jobs are hard. The hours generally suck. Warehouses are usually not heated or have ACs so you are either working in very cold or very hot conditions. The boxes can be heavy and it’s physical labor which breaks a lot of people.

      A higher wage is needed. If the Fed min is 15 then most warehouses need to start at 20-22 an hour with rates hitting 25+ an hour for unskilled labor.

      A jobs guarantee will not change the fact that many Americans are unfit for physical labor.

      Reply
      1. Val

        I worked as an Amazon picker for 2 1/2 years. The work is incredibly hard and you are constantly running to “make rate.’ The bottom-performing 10% of the work force are routinely fired. The rates are raised regularly. I wore a step counter and clocked 12-15 miles per 10 hour day on concrete floors. I was let go when I could no longer make rate after a workplace injury which they deemed “healed.” Distribution center work is no replacement for traditional retail for a woman in her fifties.

        Reply
        1. boomka

          Stories like this need to be told and retold.
          It has to sink in that despite having the most productive society in history we are somehow back at Dickensian society levels of misery, cruelty and disregard for fellow humans.

          Reply
        2. ambrit

          You have just described the methodology used in the Concentration Camps under the Third Reich.
          That modern “Liberal” Capitalism can unapologetically adopt the processes used in the Holocaust tells us something profound about the “character” of the ruling elites today.
          Making this comparison is not a Godwin Law violation; the analogies are too exact.

          Reply
      2. JBird4049

        People can’t work because they are unfit and they became unfit because they were denied work.

        Becoming and remaining fit requires work. Mental and physical stimulation. Pleasant of good food and sleep. Social connections. Receiving, not just having “access to,” good medical care also helps.

        Just what has an increasing amount of Americans not been getting? Fortunately, much, if not all, of one’s health can be regained over time once they get what they need.

        Reply
    1. Swamp Yankee

      That’s what I thought of, too, Col. Kurtz waxing lyrical over the “pure, crystalline will” needed to cut off “that pile of little arms”…..

      Reply
    2. Lemmy Caution

      Reminds me of how usage of “Boots on the ground” spread to anyone seeking a little insidery, unearned, battle-savvy panache.

      Reply
      1. Temporarily Sane

        I think it has to more to do with military (and management) euphemisms and jargon making their way into standard English rather than people deliberately trying to coat themselves in unearned glory (though I’m sure that happens too).

        Similar to how a news website might have a “Morning Brief” or a how group of office friends might talk about returning to “civilian life” after work.

        We live in a militarized and corporatized society and the English language reflects that.

        Reply
    3. Mikel

      “shots in arms” is easy to simplify into “X”
      or some other indicator in a mathematical formula.
      And then all the detachment that can go along with that…

      Reply
    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      I first started hearing “jabs” on BBC radio. I suspect “jabs” is Englandish for “injections” which is standard English. “Shots” is the Ameringlish word for it.

      Englandish is considered hipper and cooler and groovier by some non-English, so the word “jabs” spreads here and there.

      Reply
      1. Procopius

        Some years ago I realized there are several separate but closely related languages. I think “English” and “American” are discrete names of languages.
        A: “Do you speak English?”
        B: “I’m afraid not, I only speak American.”
        Other separate but similar languages are Australian and Indian. Then you have pidgins or creoles, like Singlish (Singapore English) where English was used as a lingua franca among speakers of many languages

        Reply
  4. WJ

    This BAR interview of Max Blumenthal, who attended and covered the 1/6 riot/protest/coup/etc at the Capitol, is a pretty good first-hand account of the general “feel” of the crowd there. And Blumenthal reminds us that there was, or should have been, ample advance notice given to law enforcement that something big was going to happen at the Capitol:

    “I assume that some of these plans were discussed on Reddit, on Subreddit forums, 4chan, 5chan, that kind of thing. And honestly, the reason I went down is because I kind of knew this was going to happen.

    I was surprised they got in because I assumed there would be enough of a police presence to stop them, but I knew something insane was going to happen. That’s why I chose to go down because I hadn’t gone down to the previous Proud Boys incursions into DC, just because I considered it to be kind of like playacting. But this seemed to be something much more serious that I needed to cover. And there were calls to stay home from elite white liberals on Twitter and within the general white liberal community of DC, whose homes surround the Capitol and whose population far outnumbers those of the right who were able to get into DC. They said, “Stay home. All they want is to create chaos. And if you go out, it will create more chaos.” So the Biden voters avoided the Capitol, did not confront or try to talk to the rioters, and didn’t protect this building that they call the People’s House. That was, I think, an additional factor in why it was just so easy for the rioters to get in…”

    https://blackagendareport.com/max-blumenthal-breach-capitol-security-was-military-operation

    Reply
    1. Harold

      So, a “military style invasion” by those trained within the Deep State, which hates Trump, takes place?
      Supposedly controlled by and to help him?

      Or, more likely is allowed to take place by the Deep State, which makes the “lack of preparation” and “surprise” logical, as it paves the way for a re-introduction of H.R. 4192 after a new congress is seated.

      A “white terrorist” staged false flag event will be needed to create the conditions to rush the bill through, just like 9/11 was for The Patriot Act. Dissenters, or those who want to debate the bill, will get what inducements to say “Yea”? Anthrax is like so yesterday.

      Reply
    2. Carolinian

      Thanks for the link. He says it was 100 percent an attempt to invade the Capitol but lest you think he’s shilling for the Dem coup-sters there’s this

      I guess the comment I would want to make here is not about where I fall. I think that if you’re familiar with what I say on Twitter, where I share opinions or my reporting, you’ll know, but I was very supportive of the “Force the Vote” tactic that was being deployed in the week before this catastrophe at the US Capitol. That was the grassroots left was gathering a lot of momentum and applying pressure on the so-called squad, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Ilan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, all these characters who are portraying themselves as the true progressive wing of the Democratic Party, to withhold their votes for Nancy Pelosi as House Speaker until she agreed to bring Medicare For All to a vote on the House floor. This would have been fantastically educational and instructive for everyone to see which Members of the House support healthcare during a pandemic and which don’t.

      It wouldn’t have succeeded in bringing us Medicare For All, but it would have brought to the surface the real crisis in the Democratic Party, which is that it’s undemocratic. It doesn’t support the will of its own constituents, who at rates of over 80% support Medicare For All. It failed to gain consent from the Squad—the Squad rejected it. AOC forcefully condemned, Jimmy Dore, this comedian and pundit who is leading the charge. She accused him of violence for basically rhetoric that he was using that was not in any way violent or threatening. And they were exposed in a big way. And then they all cast their votes for Nancy Pelosi. I mean, you had Rashida Talib, one of the first Palestinians to serve in Congress, someone who is very vocal about their Palestinian identity and support for Palestinian sovereignty. And she cast her vote for Pelosi, who is one of the most Zionist pro-Israel house speakers in recent memory, someone who just supports every Israeli action.

      So the hypocrisy was on bold display.

      We’ll never get anywhere unless the left abandons the the Dems IMHO and stops supporting Nancy. Speaking of which this from Pat Lang is interesting.

      https://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2021/01/finding-your-roots-the-nancy-pelosi-reveal.html

      Reply
      1. Offtrail

        Not that interesting. His insights into Nancy Pelosi are not illuminating.

        Pat Lang’s site has sadly declined, becoming a sump of raving “election fraud” outrage, while he himself has commenced calling the Civil War “The War Between the States”. It’s a shame. He still writes well, but has gone pretty far around the bend.

        Reply
        1. Temporarily Sane

          Yep, and he’s become a China China China guy even though he saw through the Russiagate nonsense. He’s thrown his hat in with the Forever Trump crowd and they are no more rational or reasonable than TDS infected liberals and just as annoying.

          Reply
        2. Carolinian

          He has never pretended to be anything other than a conservative with an old school view of the Civil War so if you think his site once had merit–therefore eligible for a “decline–it’s hard to see what has changed. As for Pelosi, Lang’s take may be dollar book Freud–still interesting imo–but some of us would say that our 80 year old speaker does have a rather erratic leadership style with snap impeachment being the latest example. Take Turley’s word for it if not mine.

          Reply
          1. flora

            Late in 2019 the Dem House impeached T, and while that dog and pony show captured media attention they quietly passed massive increases in defense spending, among other things that got little MSM attention at the time.

            I can only wonder if this new snap impeachment is also designed to distract MSM attention from, say, something like horrible new laws they’ll quietly tee up or pass, for example? “Squirrel” !

            Reply
    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      It’s interesting at the detail level for sure, but when I read a sentence like “I’ve confirmed that with some sources who were inside” I get a little nervous.

      Looking at the picture of the rioters climbing the wall, it’s interesting that so many of them look like antifa as a physical type: Thin, young, not too tall, clad in black, mostly male. (I”m not buying into the insane concept that antifa incited the riot, just saying the overlap of physical types is interesting. If we cropped the picture to eliminate the Capitol background, it could be a Federal building in Portland, OR).

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        Not just climbing a Federal building in Oregon but getting inside and trying to set fire to it.

        Blumenthahl has always seemed fairly reliable to me but some don’t agree. If there really was a plan for the Capitol assault on the internet then should be easy enough to find the evidence and prove him wrong or right.

        Reply
        1. Procopius

          There was a guest on Rising last week, who has good sources in law enforcement and intelligence circles. He said he heard from several people that the brass believed a right-wing crowd was “people who look like them,” so not to be feared. They resented the criticism they got last year for ramping up the violence in Portland, and decided they could do a little, “OK, let’s see how you like not having police,” getting a little violence that could be controlled later. Trying to be fair, a lot of the “chatter” is not serious. Like the people on centrist blog comment sections calling for Trump supporters to be burned at the stake. A lot of the calls for physical action are just play acting. Nevertheless, the Proud Boys have shown themselves to enjoy street fighting, which has produced fatalities.

          Reply
      2. Temporarily Sane

        Looking at the picture of the rioters climbing the wall, it’s interesting that so many of them look like antifa as a physical type: Thin, young, not too tall, clad in black, mostly male.

        This makes no sense.

        You are surprised that there are a lot of young, reasonably fit, men of average height wearing black among the rioters? Or…?

        Because “antifa as a physical type” isn’t a thing. I’m surprised you would use such a goofy phrase.

        I’m always a bit suspicious when someone says “I’m not suggesting x, but that sure looks like x.”

        Well why don’t you tell us what you are suggesting, then. That way there is no confusion about the point you are trying to make.

        Reply
        1. pricklyone

          I was wondering what picture…the one on the BAR article? I saw no one is “black clad”, mostly blue jeans, tan or blue jackets, and camo pants or cargo pants. ??
          Only one guy I would characterize as “thin”, and only by USA standard, but of course, these are the ones who actually could climb the wall. Although one fellow has three guys giving him a hand up…confused.

          Reply
        2. BlakeFelix

          Also they are climbing a wall. Not to be silly, but how many old, fat, out of shape, tall for some reason, women do you see climbing walls?

          Reply
      3. neo-realist

        The resemblance may have been deliberate to falsely blame Antifa as provocateurs (which many supporters of the riots did) and not assume any agency for their actions.

        Reply
        1. Count Zero

          Or it may be that the Capitol rioters and some of the Antifa rioters are, indeed, of the same generation of angry and alienated young Americans — with similar tastes in dress. And maybe they have other things in common too.

          The question would then be: why are some mobilised politically by the right and others by the liberal/left. It’s easy to speculate here about precise social background, educational levels, urban v rural, etc. But again — why have the left of any stripe failed to connect with young people who been exploited and brutalised by years of neoliberal policies?

          Reply
    4. voteforno6

      I think there were some people operating with intent, and were using the general chaos as cover. This is what seemed to happen last summer, with some of the violence that occurred during the BLM protests. I do think had a number of counter protests been there, that would’ve redirected the energy of the crowd to some degree, and would’ve probably brought a greater police presence there. So, it’s not implausible to think that this wouldn’t have happened had the counter-protesters showed up in force.

      Reply
    5. bwilli123

      Consistent with this from another attendee with some independent professional credibility.
      J. Michael Waller is Senior Analyst for Strategy at the Center for Security Policy. His areas of concentration are propaganda, political warfare, psychological warfare, and subversion. He is the former Walter and Leonore Annenberg Professor of International Communication at the Institute of World Politics, a graduate school in Washington, DC. A former instructor with the Naval Postgraduate School, he is an instructor/lecturer at the John F Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg.
      Covert Cadre: What I saw leading up to the US Capitol attack
      https://www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/2021/01/13/covert-cadre-what-i-saw-leading-up-to-the-us-capitol-attack/

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        That’s a very interesting account. So who were these militants in the crisp uniforms? You’d think the Congress would want to find out what really happened before voting an impeachment.

        Guess not.

        Reply
  5. Mr Grumpy

    A good friend from grad school wrote that My Antifa Lover book. She is a completely unhinged Trump supporter. Even more scary, she is a foreign policy PhD who’s worked as a Fed govt intelligence analyst for 25 years. It truly scares me to see her Facebook posts.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      A friend has shaky 16mm video footage of an Antifa taken from some distance away. The object was walking into the forest and had a bit of a hunchback appearance, abominable if you ask me.

      Reply
      1. Mr Grumpy

        A Reaganite Republican, but a very sweet person, who’s underlying racism and classism have come to overwhelm her over the years. Early adopter of Fox News. Now lives in a right wing media bubble. Some of our other friends from those days (many of them professors) try to engage her, but she never responds with anything rational. Her Facebook posts and comments are filled with irony she does not recognize. The quality of her work at her job must be horrible, yet she is a senior analyst. I no longer wonder why our foreign policy sucks regardless of party in power. Sorry!

        Reply
    2. The Rev Kev

      Wait until that young Congresswoman learns that her Antifa lover is actually an FBI agent provocateur. But as she is a CIA Democrat, it turns out cool.

      Reply
  6. Del

    Kamala Harris
    @KamalaHarris·
    Jan 12
    “In eight days we’ll show every child in America—regardless of their color or gender—that there are no limits to who can lead and hold positions of power in our country.”

    As long as they are PMC, and even better, if they are some performative color scheme.

    No limits to hypocrisy either:

    “Harris has spent her career locking up Black and brown people. She should not be allowed to shake hands, kiss babies or walk into black churches without being taken to task.”

    https://blackagendareport.com/freedom-rider-kamala-harris-destroyed-black-lives

    Reply
    1. gc54

      Perhaps she’s referring to the lower limit, but that is ultimately bound by zero so the statement is inaccurate unless it’s an allusion to Zeno’s Paradox, which would sum up my expectations for this pair.

      Reply
  7. Amfortas the hippie

    i glean that Hh and his/her persimmon tree is east of me, somewheres…(we don’t have persimmons out this way–NW Texas Hill Country).
    I wonder if they have noticed trees retaining leaves overlong this winter…many of my mesquites, for instance, still have green leaves, in january…which is weird.
    given, they have fewer after the 2 recent snows, but still. My peaches, pears, nectarines and plums and even the post oaks, retained their leaves well into december…with the peaches only dropping them after christmas.

    Mother Nature has felt confused all year.

    and regarding outdoor covid transmission: as i said in that comment in an old thread going around the comment hiatus(sorry), wife and both boys went to an outdoor gathering of the familia the day after xmas…aunt, the bank manager, turned out to have been exposed prior to this.
    everyone wore masks(for wife’s sake, about half are repubs,and otherwise don’t make a big deal about pandemics)…but they all sat at several tables outside: wife and boys with 2 others at one…more spaced than non-pandemic gatherings.
    boys, and the rest of the males, went and peed behind the barn…wife went inside, as did the rest of the females…again, masked…didn’t linger, etc.
    this is the only time they could have been exposed…we’ve been super cautious(and i’m rather sick of being the Bad Cop for the last year, dammit)…we do hand sanitizer after handling money and goods, and haven’t hugged anyone or shook hands since i can remember.
    we also don’t go anywhere…save for absolute necessity, and then it’s with preparation, admonitions and such as if we were entering a leper colony naked.
    eldest has been working since may(i think) at the drive through only(due to pandemic) coffee shop belonging to wife’s cousin…taking $ and handing out beverages through the window, and immediately doing the hand san.

    my Bad Cop methods rely heavily on the Cancer Card…and what we went though with all that, 2 years ago. I’m seen sometimes as an hysteric, but i persist, and bury them in erudition and fiery sermons on the ethics of being the guy who killed momma.
    (ie: you don’t want that on your conscience)

    all that said, it apparently CAN be transmitted outdoors, on a windy sunny day, while wearing masks.
    Nurses from the clinic who have dealt with us during this(they get the first fruits and veg out of the garden) say that the variants haven’t made it out here, yet…and they’re terrified about those finally arriving in this far place.
    so this is the Old Version of covid.
    at the very least, the masks and other precautions seemed to have engendered a mild case all around for us….lending credence to the doe depence idea.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > all that said, it apparently CAN be transmitted outdoors, on a windy sunny day, while wearing masks.

      Fomites? In the kitchen during prep, or in the bathroom?

      Very glad that your family has come through this safely, so far.

      You did get my note that you were not the cause of the shutdown?

      Reply
  8. Pat

    Are there no animals on highways anymore?

    A couple of years ago I amused myself on a road trip by counting the number of carcasses I saw. In a two hour period there were three deer, five rabbits or raccoons, and more than a few random fur or bloody debris spots.

    The animals and other possibly reckless or impaired drivers might be a real sticking point for autonomous trucking. But then it took hitting a pedestrian for the geniuses determined to let computers play driving games for real to realize that might be a problem.

    Stupid. Reckless.

    Reply
    1. gc54

      If you care to see true highway slaughter, Tasmania is the place for you. No idea why, but truly astounding mayhem.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        Tons of Possums (Aussie variant) laying flat on Kiwi roads in the South Island, and you’ll see majestic NZ Falcons munching on said roadkill, flapping those big wings in beating a retreat just before your arrival.

        Reply
      2. Copeland

        I think I know why. Right-wing brother vacationed in Taz around 2004. Ended up staying with a rural family for a few days, don’t know the details of who they were. When the locals learned that my brother enjoyed shooting, they all went out after dark and killed as many critters as they could find, up in the eucalypts, using rifles and spotlights. On the drive back home, the goal was to run over as many critters as possible, and they ran over dozens and dozens. A good time was had by all. I try to avoid stories told by my brother now.

        Reply
      3. Chris

        Tassie devils are the most susceptible. Their massive jaws are specialised for eating carrion, and used for cracking open long bones to get at the marrow. Roadkill is carrion, and they sit feasting on the tarmac until the next vehicle hits ‘em.

        That said, I sometimes wonder whether the frequency of carcasses is partly due to the fact that nobody ever seems to clean up.

        Reply
  9. a different chris

    “Reported bullying based on sex includes yelling, screaming, throwing objects at a victim, breaking objects in front of the victim, and making a threatening move to cause a victim to feel [they were] about to be punched. Also reported is less physically threatening conduct such as pressuring a complainant to party more, to party less,..”

    I don’t mean to make light of this but I got that far before I realized it wasn’t about marriage.

    Reply
  10. Laughingsong

    “Slouch or Slack Off, This ‘Smart’ Office Chair Cushion Will Record It” [New York Times]. • What, no options for electrodes and automatically closing wrist straps?

    Nope, we need to reach the keyboard, mouse, and phone, so it has an automated leg manacle add-on. This opens to allow for official breaks but lets off a whoop whoop if the wearer’s leg is not back in it when it closes.

    It’s sooooooo good to “see” everyone again.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      The automatic assumption is that a person only has worthwhile ideas at their desks. No conception that people might have pretty good ideas at the water cooler or even going for a dump. Hell, you might be one of those people that have their best ideas in the shower or just as they get ready to go to sleep. This managerial idea of only doing good work while chained technologically to a desk is a bit of a Gideon’s band idea and is more directed at average workers at the cost of getting rid of workers that think best away from a desk. This sounds like more make-work on the behalf of the PMC.

      Reply
      1. Offtrail

        This is really true. If I’m facing a really challenging design question, the answer hardly ever comes when I’m sitting in from of the computer. I bill for some of that time, just as I don’t bill for some nonproductive time actively “developing”.

        Reply
    2. Lemmy Caution

      Seems to want to be paired with the trucker’s hat with built-in alarm from a few days ago. It’s not enough that your (family blog) is in the chair…you must be ALERT and ATTENTIVE at all times!

      Reply
  11. Pelham

    Re impeachment: Did Trump really try to stage a coup, as Robert Reich and others are saying? I think much of the answer depends on what that fraction of the DC crowd that stormed the Capitol intended to accomplish and how likely they were to achieve that end — if there was one. And Trump did ask them to go home.

    But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Trump’s plea was just a way of covering his behind. And maybe there’s an assumption abroad that our system of government is hanging by such a thin filament that the even slightest disturbance will snap it. More seriously, these events may be only a prelude to a truly nasty coming weekend.

    In all I’m reminded of a tweet repeated here to the effect that in 2021 we may look back on 2020 as the last fairly normal year before things got really weird.

    Reply
    1. Zar

      Trump’s actions—trying to call Tuberville mid-siege, for example—suggest that he didn’t expect the Capitol building to be stormed. It might have been a foreseeable consequence of continually stoking the flames, but I doubt it’s the primary or only result he envisioned. As for whether the other involved parties foresaw it, I’d like to know that myself.

      Reply
    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Did Trump really try to stage a coup

      To me, the whacky behavior of the rioters who breached the Capital argues no. There was no professional, organized team to (say) take hostages, for example. That didn’t happen. Zip ties don’t make it, especially when one of the guys holding them was a bartender doing cosplay. We also know, from the murder of abortion providers, that the right has snipers. That didn’t happen, either.

      Again, when you’re staging a coup, you don’t waltz away with the House lectern and then put it up for sale on eBay. You stand behind it and proclaim a provisional government. With some gun humpers military dudes standing in a semi-circle behind you.

      I’m not at all saying that the Capitol Seizure wasn’t unprecedented. (The closest example of a similar inflection point from which there was no turning back that I can think of is the caning of Sumner.) I am saying that it wasn’t a coup. I would put claims of a coup that are in good faith under the heading of not being able to see clearly, a la Matt 7:5 (in the post).

      Reply
      1. a different chris

        If you want to dilute it to “everybody had to want to overthrow the government” you might have a point — but

        1) I’m not sure what else they were doing there – you think they were just touring? Were the zip-ties a thoughtful addition to the garbage bags they intended to use to clean up after themselves? What?
        2) There were supposedly bombs. Again, what would be the point if not a coup? Just because *everybody* didn’t bring them…
        3) Snipers shoot the people that would shoot back. These nimrods thought the Capitol Police would be on their side. So no need.

        Trying to let them off because they were totally incompetent doesn’t cut it for me. And “Wacky” is really an unfortunate word choice, I don’t think the people inside who were scared (familyblog)less would appreciate it. The Mad Max thing did look rather funny on TV, but I don’t think it was to the people directly experiencing it.

        And despite all the incompetence, a uniformed cop died. I am pretty sure the Pussy Hat march didn’t kill anybody.

        Explain what I’m not “seeing clearly”.

        Reply
        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Explain what I’m not “seeing clearly”.

          1) If you want to prove an organized kidnapping plot, when you need to show (a) the organization and (b) the plot. Both need to be shown, and neither have been. Two people with zip ties, one a cos-player, doesn’t, as you say, “cut it for me.” Nor should it for you.

          2) “Do you think they were just touring”? Do you think straw-manning works here?

          3) I’m leaving aside “supposedly”; the world is full of supposedlies. I’m trying to figure out what happened, as opposed to the usual exercise of constructing a narrative against an enemy (“let them off”). It’s a lonely effort.

          Reply
        2. Procopius

          I can’t deny there might have been a group who intended a coup, but without the support of the military I don’t see a coup succeeding. I think this was more in the nature of “the propaganda of the deed.” When anarchists planted bombs it was in hopes of showing a cowed working class that the authorities were actually powerless to protect the bourgeoisie, so that they would unite (spontaneously?) and rise up against their oppressors. Also, there may have been more that one group acting independently of each other but with similar aims. Not immediate success but raising consciousness among future allies. I found the description of four different, apparently disciplined, groups interesting. The author seems to have a center-right outlook, but seems to have had situational awareness.

          Reply
      2. Jessica

        Divided about how serious an attempt the Capitol attack was.
        All those videos of them milling about or posturing suggests role play more than a coup.
        The absence of protection, delays in getting the national guard in, etc. suggest something more sinister. Unless the lack of protection wasn’t high-level collusion but rather genuinely profound incompetence.
        That AOC says that she felt it unsafe to meet at the evacuation point is a data point I take seriously. She knows that folks better than I do.
        Thank you for the reference to the caning of Sumner. It really is the closest parallel.

        Reply
        1. LibrarianGuy

          5 dead plus dozens of cops (& a few QAnon zombies) injured argues that it was semi-serious. Still, not too bright a group after all, what would one expect of Trump lemming followers?

          What will be interesting is the extent of the Capitol police collusion/ collaboration with what went down, letting the putschists in thru the gates, etc. I wonder if given the # of them that were wounded, killed, they have any 2nd thoughts about allying with the far Right?

          s/ on that last line.

          Reply
        2. Jessica

          The other historical precedent I find myself coming back to over and over these days is the period between the February 1917 Russian Revolution and the October Revolution. The first revolution was pretty much a palace coup in response to widespread civil unrest: changed something in order to change as little as possible. This strategy quickly proved ineffective and by summer, the government was basically starting to fall apart because what the elites wanted (continue the war, continue the landed aristocracy) and what most of the population was unusually unified around (end the war, land reform) were irreconcilable opposites. Then the left made a clumsy grab for power and failed. This put the right into ascendancy, but in their triumphalism, they overreached and attempted a putsch (i.e. a coup). This failed and from that point, the revivified left increased its strength and after a few months took over.
          The point that worries me is where the right overplayed its hand after the failed move by the left. It is not so hard for me to picture the centrist Dems, some of the Republicans, and the corporate establishment as a whole overplaying their hand. Of course, in addition to the similarities, there are huge differences between Russian 1917 and the US 2021.

          Reply
      3. David J.

        Aiding and Abetting, or, How Many Degrees of Separation Does It Take?

        I’ve been reading reports and prognostications about just how organized this riot was. And while it’s too early to say anything definitive, sometime in the near future I imagine some wheat will be sorted from chaff. If nothing else, a more clear idea of just who the “birds of a feather” are, versus a motley sort of “fellow-travelers.”

        Your reference to the attack on Sumner serves as a reminder that sometimes political connections are pretty clear, if not precisely and directly cause and effect. While Brooks was beating Sumner, Lawrence Keitt stood nearby with a pistol in his hand, threatening to shoot anyone who might interfere with Brooks. (Also, a couple of years later, he personally attacked another member of Congress on the floor of the House, which precipitated a brawl.) Both events took place during the Buchanan administration. Keitt and Buchanan were good friends and sympatico, which for me has always raised the question of just how much responsibility/blame redounded to Buchanan, who, to my knowledge, didn’t distance himself from Keitt.

        Reply
        1. David J.

          Didn’t get my edit done quickly enough. To clarify: I’m not referring to culpability with respect to the specific events–Buchanan isn’t responsible for fire-breather Keitt’s actions. But I do wonder just how culpable Buchanan is for tolerating the “climate” in which all this took place.

          Of course, it was a proverbial whirlwind then. Buchanan was a terrible president who, at minimum, dithered his way through the crisis which brought on the Civil War. He also was very clear (in his letters and other writing) that he thought he had responded properly all throughout the crisis and that history would vindicate him.

          Decent intro reading on Buchanan: Gary Boulard’s “The Worst President: The Story of James Buchanan.”

          Reply
      4. vlade

        It wasn’t a coup, or even a coup attempt. There’s one simple reason – a coup cannot be “distributed”.

        There must be at least an attempt to take the power, which here did not happen. To qualify for a coup, at the very least someone would have to publicly declare “We have taken the Capitol, and declare the election of Joe Biden null and void, with one Donald Trump being declared a dictator for life”. Or similar. They shouted the slogans, but strangely, once they got inside, it stopped, or at least a public exposure of such. The “public” is importnat here, as muttering “I’m now the president” under your nose is something you can do on a tourist vist and doubt anyone would qualify it as a coup. And they had opportunities, as they could happily stream it.

        That said, I’d qualify it as an insurrection attempt, if barely – what qualifies it for me it as an insurection are lethally intened attacks on the cops.

        Reply
    3. Louis Fyne

      regardless, we’ve gone from the pundits saying “Don’t you (Trump) dare militarize law enforcement” over the summer to “militarize DC, please. now!”

      And those pics that Lambert has at top doesn’t include all the Stryker armored fighting vehicles rolling into the Beltway.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stryker

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Citations needed and not from Wikipedia. We know what a Stryker is.

        This comment is a classic case of the interesting information not being substantiated. That’s not high value add.

        Reply
        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          I thought they set up strykers parallel to the Mall on streets perpendicular to the Mall. Or at least thats my memory of 2009, and I walked all over two days before the inauguration to see everything. It sounds like sighting of helicopters in DC.

          Reply
    4. marym

      It’s difficult to imagine Trump himself planning a coup, any more than coming up with a healthcare plan. It’s more like all along he wanted something to happen that would result in his remaining president, and thought what he perceived as the power of the office and loyalty of his followers would ensure that.

      Lawsuits (which he was predicting well before the election), pressure on Republicans in Congress, state officials, and Pence to refuse to certify election results, encouraging his followers to go to DC on 01/06, some type of disruption of the electoral vote count would all be ok with him. fwiw (I didn’t save links, and it was probably from the usual anonymous “sources in the WH”) there were media reports that he was enjoying watching the events at the Capitol on tv, and had to be persuaded to issue a statement to calm things down.

      Maybe we’ll learn more about whether a subset of rioters had plans (or at least some cosplay version of a plan) beyond showing up for opportunistic looting or violence; and whether there were complicit Congressional or police involved in the planning. Or maybe this will mostly devolve into a long-term riot-truther issue.

      Reply
      1. Offtrail

        Trump is incapable of planning a coup, but there is no question in my mind that violence and mayhem was what he wanted. His being glued to the tube with delight during the riot is evidence of that.

        Reply
    5. Tom Bradford

      Seems to me that what you had here was a mob in need of someone to get in front of it. A true fire-brand with clear objectives and local knowledge could have consolidated a sufficiently motivated core of the mob to do real damage.

      There was nothing that could have been done on the day to ‘save’ it for Trump but had the mob been able to get hold of Pelosi and/or other senior Dems and get them to ‘admit’ that the election had been stolen from Trump there is, I understand, already an alarmingly number of Republican voters who believe it that to be the case that Biden’s entitlement to the Presidency and foundation to his authority under the Constitution would have been seriously undermined amongst the population.

      Fortunately it didn’t happen – the man for the hour didn’t materialise – which seems to confirm that Trump and his handlers really couldn’t organise the proverbial piss-up in a brewery!

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        i’m still rather obsessed with the contours and taxonomy of power, as well as cui bono?
        the magabilly circus…and trump, himself…are a distraction from something else. That’s what my beard tells me , at least.
        the old money/extractive/old big industry/ reactionary and anticommunist portion of the tippy top got behind trump as a last gasp of their 50+ year counterinsurgency.
        perhaps that cohort made a mistake in their cooptation machinations…not just in allowing the rabid footsoldiers to run amok(from militia movement, to Moral Majority to Tea and Maga) but also that part of the Demparty they brought over to the dark side, starting in the late 80’s. it’s the latter…the Big Center…that’s in charge, now…and that has the biggest moneymen behind them, as well as the panopticon and the shadows on the wall of the cave.

        whomever turned me on to Dianne Johnston yesterday, thanks,lol(i’ve read her before, of course, but i forget, and my bookmarks ive allowed to become hyperchaotic)
        she’s definitely in the vein of Mills, bertram gross, and many others…now relegated to obscurity…who have/had access to the Bosses, and rub a little frost off the windows of the vampires’ castle.

        Reply
    6. Robert Hahl

      Didn’t the protestors simply leave the Capitol building at closing time? That doesn’t sound like any coup I ever heard of before.

      Reply
      1. flora

        At this point it’s hard for me to avoid the thought we’re all getting played – both left and right, in order to criminalize dissent. See: some states using the BLM protests and violence as a reason to pass rather draconian state anti-protest laws (aimed at the left), followed by this DC protest/riot (and violence by some) which is going to be used (imo) as the reason to pass Biden’s Domestic Terrierist law, aimed at the right.

        Meanwhile, the globocap Great Reset crowd (aka the international donor crowd) gets what it wants in terms of weakening democracy and democratic accountability. (too foily ? /heh) The revolution will not be colorized.. or something. ;)

        https://theintercept.com/2021/01/12/capitol-riot-anti-protest-blm-laws/

        Reply
        1. Tom Doak

          Yes, God knows there are too many conspiracy theories around these days, but when the media was so quick to have the word “insurrection” on the tip of their tongues in reporting the violence, it made me wonder if that side hadn’t been preparing [talking points] for something like this, as a means to prosecute as well as cancel some of their enemies.

          And, of course, you’ve gotta let them breach the Capitol for it to get past the point of a riot. The press were quick to point out “possible sympathizers within law enforcement” as the reason the security was easily breached; they just let everyone jump to their own conclusions on which side those officers might sympathize.

          Reply
  12. .Tom

    Technical question related to the impeachment drama. There have been reports that McConnel might schedule it soon and that he and some other Rs might vote to convict. If so, it’s possible (if maybe unliekly) that he and some faction of R leadership wants to go to war with the pro-Trump faction and restore their supremacy. My question: does the party have the power to force primary challengers it doesn’t want out so that any sufficiently radical populist has to challenge from a 3rd party?

    Reply
    1. vlade

      If Trump is convicted by the Senate, he could barred from any future office. That is assuming Supremes would not object to Senate convicting someone who is not in an office anymore, it’s not clear cut. I also think convicting him could invalidate any self-pardon (if it was allowed to stand in the first case), as it allows stripping of any benefits of the office, which the self-pardon coyld be construed

      Reply
    2. notabanker

      Rising covered this today and has plenty of references to what McConnell actually said/leaked.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MV161Nmstng

      If they can keep Trump from running in four years, it will be well worth the drama. But GE, Murdoch, CNN et al will lose billions without being able to cover the boogieman as a serious threat, so I question whether it will get to the finish line. Maybe that is Mitch’s play, ‘ok donor base, I’ll take him out permanently…what’s that? Oh you’re not sure you want him off the table completely?’

      Reply
      1. .Tom

        Rising is what prompted my question. In the party were to decide it wanted to be tory again, could they prevent primary challenges from populists or not?

        Reply
      2. caucus99percenter

        Are you perhaps thinking that GE still controls the NBC news properties? MSNBC and CNBC are owned by NBCUniversal, which is in turn a subsidiary of Comcast (a.k.a. the Dark Tower, in Philadelphia / Center City).

        And CNN is Warner, which is AT&T.

        I could be wrong too, it’s hard to keep up with all the acquisition stuff.

        Reply
    3. Carolinian

      McConnell has said he will not call back the Senate and therefore the trial will take place after the Inauguration.

      And whether Schumer will be able to muster 2/3–particularly in that Trump did not tell his speech listeners to invade the Capitol–probably dubious? Here’s guessing Republican base a lot less disgusted with Trump than Repub career politicians.

      Reply
  13. Jomo

    If I may, a Covid vaccination field report from Florida: I have read that rural citizens are reluctant to get the Covid 19 vac. I live in a poor rural county, Putnam, where if you are over 65 you sign up by the county health website to get the vaccine. 800 doses were allotted for the county last week. I have submitted my request last week for the shot and I am waiting for a call. Yesterday the county posted that it had no more room on the website for reservations that all 10,000 had been filled. From census info, I estimate that there are 18,000 people over 65 in the entire county. So, I do not see rural reluctance for the vaccine.

    Next county over, St. John’s, is one of the richest counties in Florida. Gov DeSantis just announced that Publix grocery store pharmacies will be allowed to give the shot. Publix stores are located in affluent areas and there are 13 stores in St. John’s. Putnam county has one Publix, approximately a mile from the Putnam County health department. So the Publix option will allow white privileged people, greater convenience options for receiving the vaccine (you don’t have to drive to the County Health Dept). Ain’t that America. Also St.John’s county was DeSantis old Congressional district. Just how it works. So 14 locations for the vaccine in St John’s, possibly 2 in Putnam and at 800 doses a week for Putnam, I expect it will be awhile before I get a call.

    Reply
  14. Wukchumni

    The year 1933 found the United States in the grip of the Great Depression. Millions of young men were jobless, their prospects grim. Seventeen days after his inauguration, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt sent a message to Congress urging creation of a Civilian Conservation Corps to employ jobless young men in conservation work on public land.

    This federal work relief program, in the ten years of its life, put 3 million young men to work on projects aimed at “conservation and development of the natural resources of the United States.” The CCCs planted billions of trees, built infrastructure in national parks and forests including campgrounds, trails, and roads. They constructed fire lookouts and strung wires connecting them to ranger stations. They fought forest fires. The U.S. Army established camps to house recruits across the country, and the young men received $1 per day, regular meals, housing, and access to education.

    https://www.nationalparkstraveler.org/2021/01/essay-its-time-ccc-revival-national-parks-and-other-public-lands

    Reply
  15. Louis Fyne

    “We must send a message that nobody in the United States is above the law.”

    So when are we sending GW Bush to the Hague for 2003? Wouldn’t mind sending Cheney and everyone who voted yes in Congress.

    PS, forgot about Clinton and his bombing of Serbia.

    Reply
    1. voteforno6

      So, because they didn’t face consequences, that means that Trump shouldn’t, either? If we want to bring real accountability, we have to start somewhere.

      Reply
      1. boomka

        I think parent’s point is that it’s fake outrage and they don’t actually want the rule of law, they just want Trump gone.

        It’s similar how in most countries after the ruler changes, there is usually a 6 month long campaign against corruption, where everyone knows it’s nothing to do with fighting actual corruption but is effectively just a purge in the middle levels of the government, to let the loyal ones feed at the trough.

        Reply
      2. Temporarily Sane

        Did he say he doesn’t want to see Trump held to account? It’s reasonable to point out that nobody was talking about bringing “real accountability” when war crimes on a massive scale were being committed.

        But it’s a moot point anyway because no American president will be tried for war crimes or genuinely held to account as long as the current power structure exists. The hoopla over Trump is more about revenge and punishment for transgressing unspoken rules of conduct than it is about accountability.

        Reply
  16. Phenix

    Did Cori Bush already go from a transformative politician to another ID pol? We are now back to all Trump supporters are racist.

    This entire episode is about keeping Trump from challenging 2024…the real challenger is Hawley. If he runs he will win. My Trump supporting co-workers already like him and his move in Pa made him more popular not less.

    Reply
    1. notabanker

      I think the Dems are making a huge strategic mistake taking Trump out of 2024. A smooth operator with an actual platform would have destroyed Biden, and Harris is flat out unelectable. She will likely be even more so if she ascends to POTUS. They also lose all of their TDS distraction capabilities and will have to actually govern, and we all know how adept they are at that. Repubs are smart to take him out now when they have the chance.

      Reply
    2. Count Zero

      Cori Bush another IDpol?

      No, it’s good business. The BLM brand was in danger of slipping out of public attention. It’s a fairly desperate attempt to get it back into the news. Some would call it advertising.

      Reply
  17. ChrisAtRU

    Amazon Web Services response to Parler request for temporary restraining order (via Twitter).

    I am not a lawyer … but given the evidence, I’m not sure Parler has much of a case here. I’ll leave it to the lawyerly among the commentariat and our esteemed editors to comment otherwise.

    #TriggerWarning: Violent speech

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      Some way chilling stuff in there, as if the pollitariat on Parler had no idea what you say online has a weird staying power…

      “After the firing squads are done with the politicians the teachers are next.”

      Reply
    2. Ronald Grissman

      I am a lawyer and without looking at the contract I can’t be certain of anything. But, just as a contract can’t contain language contrary to the greater good, as one private party allowing another private party access to its resources, there isn’t any free speech rights involved, sure they can throw you off their system pretty much for any reason. Also Section 240 or not, one can’t knowing allow one’s resources to commit crimes. (Yes, I can hear people thinking what about amazon.com itself? Everybody has a right to their opinion.)

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        Given that AWS also hosts the CIA they are not exactly speaking from the high ground, violence wise. I think the counter argument from Parler defenders is that Youtube etc have for years provided violence promoting material from some groups and therefore private companies shouldn’t get to conduct a “selective prosecution” on questions of free speech.

        Reply
    3. Yves Smith

      It looks like Parler not only has not much of a case, its lawyers aren’t too hot either. Alleging anti-trust abuses by saying Amazon failed to suspend Twitter when Twitter isn’t hosted on AWS?

      Reply
    4. Pat

      Just a thought, and it is pure speculation.

      Could Parler’s lawyers know they do not have much of a case but have thrown whatever they can think of in their attempt? All because the gentleman behind Parler knows his clientele and is satisfying them with the lawsuit even as he seeks the replacement for AWS he knows he will have to find.

      Reply
  18. Mikel

    RE: “Report of Ombudsperson” (PDF) [White & Stradley, PLLC, Attorneys At Law].

    With the broader and now more accepted definitions of sexual harrassment, especially around streotypes of “looks” and fashion, I’ve wondered if complaints by females against other females has risen?

    Reply
  19. Mikel

    “Slouch or Slack Off, This ‘Smart’ Office Chair Cushion Will Record It” [New York Times

    Better enjoy this golden age of work from home.

    Reply
  20. Deschain

    > Led Zeppelin is heavy metal; so far as I know they have no Nazi sympathies.

    Well . . . it’s complicated . . .

    https://www.reddit.com/r/ledzeppelin/comments/fypcns/on_this_day_in_1977_jimmy_page_wore_his_infamous/

    That said I don’t think Page really was a Nazi symp. However he was definitely into Crowley, and Crowley’s maxim was ‘do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law’, which certainly sounds like something a neoliberal elite would dream up (for themselves).

    Reply
    1. voteforno6

      I have to take exception to this. Not about the Nazi part – I think that may have been more about the transgression to norms than the specific Nazi symbolism. That’s not an usual position for a rock star to take, especially a member of a group that had a bit of a piratical streak to them.

      The part I take exception to is calling Led Zeppelin “heavy metal.” Heavy rock, maybe, but they were too talented, and had too much dynamic range to be boxed in like that.

      Reply
      1. notabanker

        Page is infamous for the 1977 Stormtrooper outfit, and has posted about it in modern times. He’s never referred to it as Nazi, but it clearly is WWII SS attire.

        I think of Black Sabbath as the founders of heavy metal, but at the time, Zeppelin was about as heavy as you can get. The certainly were dark and it is no secret Page was into Crowley and Satanism. He seems to have change dramatically after he kicked his heroin addiction, and hasn’t written anything approaching Zeppelin quality since. And it makes me wonder…..

        Reply
        1. voteforno6

          I don’t dispute the heavy part, but they just had too much of a foundation in the blues to be considered metal. They had much more in common with the blues-rock bands such as Cream, Hendrix, the Allman Brothers, ZZ Top, etc., that sprang up in the late ’60s than any heavy metal band such as Black Sabbath. I do enjoy some metal, but I just can’t picture even the best metal band being able to pull off “Immigrant Song” and “That’s the Way” on the same album.

          Reply
    2. Fiery Hunt

      No one under the age of 60 thinks Led Zeppelin was heavy metal. (Sorry, Lambert!)
      Lyrics invoking fantasy literature isn’t metal.

      In the 70’s, Kiss and AC/DC were making blues-based, guitar “heavy” music but that was totally in line with the coming “glam bands”.
      By the 80’s, “heavy metal” was a PR tag for every hair band going from Sammy Hagar/Montrose (who did songs for the “Heavy Metal” movie soundtrack) to Def Leppard to Quiet Riot to Motley Crue.
      It was just rock and roll focused on Sex, Drugs and Rock N’ Roll!

      The term heavy metal was meaningless.

      About the same time, “thrash metal” was making its bones. Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax, Megadeth all played extremely aggressive, extremely fast, guitar and drum heavy music. (professional musicians can explain the increased tempo but I can’t).
      The lyrics went to dark anger and frustration. West Coast Punk also went with the increased tempo and anger…but kept their political perspectives…see Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, Rancid, Circle Jerks, Social Distortion, etc.

      Slayer was probably the most influential of the bunch. They are the basis of so much so-called “Death Metal” that continues unabated to this day.

      In the end, any understanding of “metal” music comes from the lyrics.
      Dark and angry.
      IMNSHO.

      Reply
    3. Jr

      Crowley didn’t mean do whatever you want to whoever you want with that phrase. “Doing what thou wilt” refers to freeing oneself of irrational fears, of self imposed limitations, of experiencing one’s true will as opposed to the tangled web of hang-ups, compromises, and confusions that seems to be what we want. It’s about setting aside illusions and finding out what it is that really makes you feel alive.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        I beg to differ about Crowley.
        He sponsored an ethos best described as licentious.
        At least in America, the “religion” he promoted, Thelema, attracted a lot of devotes of various forms of ‘Sex Magic.’
        Interesting “coincidences” abound in this field. One major Thelemite figure in California was Jack Parsons, who, among other things, was a founder of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He had a personal correspondence with Crowley, and became entangled with L Ron Hubbard, who later ‘created’ the “religion” of Scientology.
        If anything, Crowley reminds me of an older society version of the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. The ‘hook’ that pulled many devotees into his movement was ‘Free Love,’ otherwise known as sex without guilt. I briefly knew someone who had lived at the Rajneesh compound in Oregon. She was open about the cult’s methodology. Roughly, lure wealthy individuals in with the promise of endless guiltless sex. A strategy as old as time.
        So, by removing guilt, one also removes socially sponsored morality. This is a perfect philosophy for people who think of themselves as “superior,” “special,” “exalted,” etc. etc.
        See:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thelema#:~:text=Thelema%20(%2F%CE%B8%C9%99%CB%88l,%2C%20mystic%2C%20and%20ceremonial%20magician.
        Also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rajneesh
        With a special appearance by: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Parsons_(rocket_engineer)

        Reply
        1. jr

          His personal conduct was indeed licentious but I don’t think he saw Thelema as a religion. According to some accounts, he only intended Thelema to be the focusing point philosophy for a loose organization of magicians whose main purpose was to just practice together; it was never meant to be an organized into the Ordo Templi Orientis. To be clear, I’m not a Thelemite nor an expert on their history but this is the story I’ve picked up so far.

          But Crowley could have done all of that and still meant what I think he meant by “Do what thou wilt…” He certainly didn’t live it, his personal life sounds like near total chaos, but he very well could have meant it. He was a complicated guy. The free sex shenanigans aside, the notion does free one from socially sponsored morality but you are asked then to construct your own. I do…relying mostly on notions of socially sponsored morality from all over the map as well as my own intuitions and ideas. Some see this as a mere excuse to run amok but they are missing the point completely; a realized Will doesn’t need naked pregnant women jumping through flaming hoops like Parsons did.

          Reply
          1. ambrit

            Fair enough. You have progressed past simple self gratification. Very, very many do not. I have known many such.
            I threw in Hubbard because of the nakedly self serving nature of the “religion” he created with the publication of ‘Dianetics.’ Hubbard also stole Parson’s girl friend, and money and decamped to the Caribbean with both. To me, Hubbard personifies the depths to which a non-self-reflective philosophy can sink one.
            Freedom and responsibility, a difficult balancing act to pull off.
            Be safe.

            Reply
  21. Wukchumni

    Talked to a friend of a friend that’s an ICU nurse, and they’re opening rooms in the hospital they’ve hardly ever used, along with getting a bevy of traveling nurses to fill in the gaps, as RN’s et al are dropping like flies from Covid. He got the vaccine and related it kind of put the hurt on your arm like a regular flu shot does, but feels fine otherwise.

    It’ll be interesting to watch if he has any reactions to the vaccine, i’ll use him as my Baedeker, need deep in big muddy.

    Reply
    1. voteforno6

      I know someone who’s had both shots, and the first one just caused pain in the arm, but the second one gave her a headache, and made her feel sick for a day or so.

      Reply
  22. cat’s paw

    black metal genre: appeared in late 80s early 90s from Scandinavian countries. highly dissonant; lo-fi sounding which is rare for metal. the scene was overtly nihilistic, anti-christian, ambiguously reactionary, directly critical of liberal northern european society and politics, tended to valorize ethnocentric (racist?) tropes (pagan, viking, etc.); really, these guys were the prototype of what we now call edgelords.

    also, some arson, murder, and mayhem amongst a couple of the scene’s early influential bands. watch the doc “until the light takes us.” fascinating and a good intro to the significance of black metal as a cultural phenomenon.

    Reply
  23. maps

    Situated within the larger genre of heavy music, black metal is especially notorious as a haven for Nazi’s. It is a musical genre that prides itself on abrasiveness and revels in shocking people. Most of the participants of the 2nd wave of black metal in the early 90’s had Nazi sympathies. While a lot of those musicians have attempted to distance themselves from those beliefs, some are quite unrepentant (Varg from Burzum is a prominent white supremacist). While a lot of people (including myself) find all of that disgusting, there is still something of a battle happening within the black metal community. A lot of the younger anarchists and punks are getting into black metal and bringing that ethos to the scene, creating a tension that can spill over at shows. Black metal was my first exposure to people who are proudly white supremacist and openly fascist. Fortunately there is a lot of pushback happening and people are making the spaces unsafe for Nazi’s.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      I wonder what sort of music war criminals like George Bush, John McCain and Barrack Obama listened to? I’m sure that it was respectable and appropriate.

      Reply
  24. ZacP

    re black metal and facism:

    Historically, heavy metal branches off from rock music by eschewing much of the American Blues structure in favor of inspiration from classical music (Tocatta in D). Endless sea of subgenres within heavy metal. I am surprised that the author did not mention seminal and infamous Norwegian black metal band Mayhem, whose ex-members political and racial views continue to be representative of a subculture within the genre. These sentiments are oftentimes hidden in plain sight, much like white supremacy at a Trump rally.

    Reply
  25. John Zelnicker

    The House of Representatives has voted to impeach Trump for the second time. Vote was 232 to 197, including 10 Republicans voting in favor.

    Via al.com: https://www.al.com/news/2021/01/us-house-impeaches-president-donald-trump-for-second-time.html

    McConnell: “While the press has been full of speculation, I have not made a final decision on how I will vote and I intend to listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate,” McConnell wrote.

    From the same article.

    Reply
  26. Mikel

    Re: Robo Trucks
    “When your algorithm is broken, control your inputs. Anyhow, I’m sure robot trucks will experience no trouble driving over those long, straight roads in flyover. No trouble at all, and especially not at night.”

    When we drive we use all of our senses. Most of the focus has been on what is seen, but all of our senses work together to form images and trigger actions to be taken.

    Reply
  27. K.k

    Yikes! I hope those national guard personnel laying right next to each other have good mask discipline. I can see couple of them with masks below the nose and others standing without masks above others laying down. Hopefully doesn’t turn into a super spreader event. There seems to be plenty of space, i would think they would a bit more spread out. Is it cold in there?

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      Watched the impeachment trial, and the Pachyderms giving testimony had overwhelmingly uncovered noses on account of mask droop, compared to what I saw in the Donkey Show.

      Reply
  28. Ander

    RE: Heavy metal and nazi links: nazis and heavy metal are like a venn diagram with a substantial degree of overlap. Same thing goes for paganism in North America. A lot of nazis gravitate towards paganism, not all pagans are nazis.

    ‘In the United States, Asatru has long had to contend with white supremacists and Neo-Nazis claiming the religion because it has “Aryan” cred and (unlike Christianity) did not originate among the Jews. The Nazis (the original ones, not the shaved head thugs of today) also used significant amounts of Norse symbolism in their propaganda, and placed the Nordic people at the tippy-top of their racial ladder.’
    https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Asatru

    Reply
  29. pricklyone

    Don’t forget the $100+ /yr for the Prime membership required for such an act…
    Lacking that, it would cost several dollars to send that penny item.
    I suggest that all Prime members immediately start doing this, as to take the strain of moving all those postcards (really?) off of the postal service.
    The guy at subgenius is a submoron. They seem to believe that somehow Bezos has found a way to costlessly move material around the country.
    PLEASE everyone, TRY THIS! See what your Prime membership costs next year…

    Reply
  30. Ganjadawg

    “Metal” is a whole universe of music, starting with Zeppelin and Sabbath, but branching out into lots of subgenres. Slayer (a pretty mainstream metal band, very influential for black metal and doom metal scenes), for instance, has flirted with Nazi imagery throughout their career; maybe their intention in the early 80s was to be edgy, and in later interviews band members have disclaimed their Nazi flirtation as some form of parody. Seems like a case of a very bad example being set by the trendsetters of a newly-forming scene. The Norwegian death metal scene in the early 90s was known for satanism; prominent band members burned down a 900-year-old church (one of the oldest wooden structures in western Europe) in a string of arson incidents, and there were high-profile murder cases. More recently hipster appropriation has set in, and a really good doom-influenced band (Liturgy) conceived of their music as a Nietzschean/Dionysian transcendence apparatus : https://archive.org/details/TranscendentalBlackMetal
    Much of the black and doom metal I’m familiar with seems intended as ritual accompaniment or liturgical. It is overwhelming by design.
    However, the notion that we can get some insight into all this nonsense at the Capitol by self-policing a music scene composed of some people communicating their Nazi sympathies to each other on heavy metal album art is pretty wacky. the appearance of coded Nazi tats on the Q Anon Shaman doesn’t mean we can dismiss the years of societal decay that led up to the Capitol riot. Mainstream interpretations of recent history put way too much stress on fringe elements as an excuse for taking any responsibility for the present condition.

    Reply
  31. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Can any metal fans in the readership comment?

    I don’t purport to be an expert in white supremacist semiotics, but I do listen to a fair amount of metal and have perused the Encyclopedia Metallum on occasion. I have never noticed any white supremacists gathering there, but then again that wasn’t what I went there for either. I did work with a white ex-con several years ago who was all tatted up, and a co-worker took the boss aside claiming many of the ex-con’s tats were Arian Nation jail tats which made him more than a little uncomfortable. I know this guy also listened to some metal.

    That being said, while there may be some Arian types who are in metal bands, they are far from the majority and I suspect the author of the article is using more than a little hyberbole due to recent events.

    One metal band I remember being criticized when I was in college was Motorhead, with people calling for them to be blacklisted or banned as they were encouraging rape or some such. Well, their lyrics can tend to be somewhat sexist, especially if you aren’t a headbanger type and don’t get the culture, but I would argue they are in large part joking in order to get a rise out of the Tipper Gore types. You might think this song Orgasmatron is one of those sexist tunes judging only by the title, but give it a listen – it’s very much an anti-war song, even though IIRC the lead singer Lemmy was known to sport some Nazi regalia on occasion. And that’s just one anti-war song from him – I could point to many many more. And then there’s one of my favorites Get Back In Line where he takes it to the fat cat bankers. In interviews I’ve seen of Lemmy, he is one of the most decent human beings you could ever want to meet, (literal) warts and all.

    Gojira is another good example. This video looks and sounds pretty scary – at least with Motorhead you can mostly understand the lyrics but not so here! But Gojira, despite being considered death metal, is very concerned about the environment and their lyrics reflect that (if you can understand them through all the guttural howling).

    Slayer is another one – some pretty scary sounding songs with Nazi elements to them, but unless I’m extremely naive they are speaking out against those types of people and are also very anti-war despite some of their song titles.

    Rammstein are another that I haven’t actually listed to myself, but they are actually from Germany, were cited by the Columbine killers, and were accused of being neo-nazis to the point I actually thought they were until looking it up several years ago. They have gone out of their way to show that they are not – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rammstein

    In general, metal’s bark is much worse than its bite, and much of the sturm and drang of it all is just about feeling like a misfit in society, or just to get a rise out of the shrinking violets. Metal is lots of sound and fury signifying not nothing, but generally not nazism or white supremacy either. As with everything, I’m sure there are exceptions.

    Now off to listen to my new favorite metal band who are more in the stoner/doom/Black Sabbath-y genre of metal, if you must characterize things – Sergeant Thunderhoof! And if metal isn’t your thing but you still want to feel the Hoof, they have done the courtesy of releasing an acoustic album too – The Delicate Sounds of Thunderhoof.

    Rock on NCers and as always, keep kicking against the pr*%ks!

    Reply
    1. Amfortas the hippie

      in my home town, north of houston, circa 1986-8(that satanic cult scare/moral panic happened in october 1987)…the numerous and flourishing “non-denominational” churches were forever sending out teams of “prayer warriors” to wherever young people gathered…to cajole, and pray loudly and…often, when the former had no effect…scream into faces.
      one of their largest concerns was heavy metal.
      Blue Oyster Cult (because of the name, natch) and Black Sabbath(ditto) were their main targets…but it was like they never listened to any of the lyrics(easy to hear, compared to death/black metal,imo)
      Ozzy routinely called out hypocrisy and railed against war and oppression.ffs.
      among the kids, of course…well, it was what was on mtv, or the radio, or someone’s tapedeck…and there was of course a sense of alienation in my generation that played a heavy part….and the tippergore brigade didn’t help at all…and made numerous kids i knew throw up their hands and say, ‘why yes! we are all satanists and are coming for you!”—Wham! had a marketing push about “Choose Life”, presumebly to pander to the parents…many goody two shoes i knew wore those shirts(along with “RELAX”)…and I, being the target of much official and conformist ire, obtained a bumpersticker for my beat up 76 toronado that said in big block, “Choose death” in ironic response to the whole mess of hypocrisy and condemnation and antifreedom. This caused much worry among the town fathers, of course, and added to my rebel bona fides.
      it’s innerestin, to me, that the heirs of that era’s repression-mongers and conformity freaks are now so wild looking and performative….and the cohort that’s seems the most dangerous(atomwaffen, etc) are really into the darker sides of metal)

      Reply
      1. lyman alpha blob

        To be fair to those who believe concessions to the Dark Lord pervade heavy metal, it is highly possible that Danny Carey sold his everlasting soul to be able to play like this. The man is a monster.

        Reply
      2. YetAnotherChris

        76 toronado

        I took one for a spin but felt like Gerald Ford and decided against it. I’ve always wanted a ’66.

        It’s good to hear from you again, Amfortas. I’m not the first to note that yours is a treasured presence around here. Good health to your crew.

        Reply
    2. petal

      Heck, my plain, normal, straight laced early 70s year old mother likes Rammstein! I do, too, but she dug it well before I did.
      PS-Missed you guys so much. amfortas, so glad y’all made it through the infection okay. Was sending good thoughts.

      Reply
  32. Donald

    On the lack of consequences for elites—

    What I have noticed is that PMC liberals use the term “ whataboutery” to dismiss such criticisms. This happens to me sometimes. I think “ whataboutery” can be good or bad. It’s bad if the intent is to excuse bad behavior, but it is good if meant to point out undeniable hypocrisy. The Bible is full of “ whataboutery” as in your example from Matthew but there is a much older example when Nathan the prophet essentially tricked King David into condemning himself for plotting the murder of Uriah.

    So I am in support of impeaching Trump for inciting the Jan 6 riot, but as Jeremy Scahill pointed out ( Jan 4 in the Intercept but I don’t have the link handy) nobody is going to impeach Trump for supporting war crimes in Yemen, because you would have to go after Democrats too. Complicity in genocide is one of the worst crimes imaginable, but if you are a high ranking Western politician you have nothing to fear.

    People can call this “whataboutery” if they want. It is still true and it is morally defensible.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > nobody is going to impeach Trump for supporting war crimes in Yemen

      Nobody’s going to impeach Obama for whacking a US citizen with a drone strike and no due process, just like nobody (nobody being in this case Pelosi) impeached Bush for torture, WMDs, or destroying the Fourth Amendment. These clowns think they’re removing a cancer by impeaching Trump when in fact they’re only slicing off wart.

      I forget which brilliant member of our commentariat said this, but “Trump is the stench, not the rot.”

      Reply
    1. epynonymous

      Say what you want about Trump, but “tired of winning” is an original turn of phrase.

      Why, it’s almost subversive. Nothing like the Obama screed.

      Reply
      1. Carl

        Never thought of that. “Rumble, rumble, rumble.”

        BTW, collapsed at “That’s quite an act. What do you call it?” Er, um, consequences?

        Reply
  33. Mark Dempsey

    Lambert wanted some land use posts, so I made several of them here: “Local ‘planning’ follies“. These come from my experience in the business and governance of city design. The word “planning” is in quotes for a reason…

    That post about sexual harassment amongst conventional economists is really disturbing. After having some contact with MMT guys, I’ve discovered they’re a little grumpy, but honestly, the orthodox guys completely leave them in the dust.

    Reply
  34. JTMcPhee

    Just had to comment on that tech-y “social mask,” “with an air vent on the side.” So the well-accoutered, asymptomatic spreaders can cool-ly discharge their virus-laden exhalations without impediment of any kind of filtration, which of course is supposed to be the primary public health benefit of the mask. Taking advantage of all the really special gadgetry incorporated into the thing, of course.

    But maybe I am being obtuse, and that whole thing was just a snarky gag?

    Reply
    1. pricklyone

      JT, did you look at the photo of the man wearing the mask? At least an inch of free opening all around the top and sides! This is in the nature ofa face shield not a mask,only too short too cover eyes, and nothing shown has any capacity to “identify pathogens” as stated in the headline.
      The text is pure buzzword gibberish.

      Reply
    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > that tech-y “social mask,”

      We in the West (except for Venice) seem to be struggling with masks. Perhaps we are thinking the conditions that require them are temporary (and hence no investment by technically advanced and fashion-forward humongous corporations like Nike). I doubt the conditions are temporary, and in any case the health benefits of not breathing polluted air are increasingly obvious.

      Adding, there’s also the Google glass concept; if a heads-up display is wanted, it’s hard to imagine a better screen for projection than a screen the size of one’s head, i.e., like the techie mask. Perhaps there is a smaller market in the medical field for, say, surgeons.

      Reply

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