2:00PM Water Cooler 1/14/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, more shortly. Essay later. –lambert UPDATE All done. No essay; but see Ritholtz (“What is Wrong with These People”) and the Financial Times (“America’s political crisis”), with my comments following.

Bird Song of the Day

A bit of a duet.


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. Is the virus gathering itself for another leap?

Vaccination by region:

The South is the national champion for vaccination, so far, although the Midwest and now the Northeast are gaining.

Case count by United States region:

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

California resumes its upward climb.

Test positivity:

Not sure what this chart means if testing is rationed so widely.

Synchronized drop, weirdly.

Nowhere near 3%, anywhere.


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.


“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


“State Capitals Tighten Security Amid Threat Of Armed Protests Ahead Of Inauguration” [NPR]. “States are taking steps to tighten security at their capitol buildings following a warning by the FBI to prepare for armed protests in the days leading up to the the presidential inauguration on Jan. 20. Many state capitals have already seen protests by people upset by President Trump’s loss in the election. On Wednesday, the president put out a statement responding to reports of more demonstrations. ‘I urge that there must be NO violence, NO lawbreaking and NO vandalism of any kind,’ Trump said in a written statement. ‘That is not what I stand for, and it is not what America stands for. I call on ALL Americans to help ease tensions and calm tempers.’ The warning collides with the beginning of new legislative sessions in many states, including in Washington.”

“State capitals nationwide bracing for possible violence in wake of attack on U.S. Capitol” [CBS News]. “America’s capital cities are bracing for possible unrest after last week’s assault on the United States Capitol. The FBI is warning law enforcement across the country that groups are calling for the ‘storming’ of federal, state and local courthouses in all 50 states if President Trump is removed from office prior to Inauguration Day on January 20, a law enforcement source told CBS News.”

“As law enforcement braces for more violence, state Capitols come into focus” [NBC News]. “More than a dozen flyers are circulating online advertising pro-Trump rallies at state Capitols, according to social media analysis by NBC News. “Freedom is a right,” one popular flyer reads; “Refuse to be silenced,” says another… As part of its response to an increase in online activity and organization efforts that could lead to further violence, Facebook has been tracking many of these fliers across alternative sites popular with militia groups and QAnon followers and pre-emptively blocking them, according to a spokesperson who asked not to be named for safety concerns. State Capitols, long seen as meeting places for activists to protest and sometimes clash with counterprotesters, are on alert. Social media platforms have taken unprecedented steps in recent days to keep their sites clear of content that might incite further violence.” • Perhaps I’m too cynical, but I’d fix that last sentence: “Social media platforms[, anxious to avoid increased regulation or even breakup from the incoming Democratic administration,] have taken unprecedented steps.” Speculation, I know.


“‘The Genie is Out of the Bottle'” [Politico]. “Wednesday’s impeachment of President Donald Trump was one of the strangest political events in memory: A historic rebuke to a president delivered with just days remaining in his term, with seemingly little at stake—and a Senate away on recess, in no rush to take a vote on whether to convict. Notably, 10 Republicans joined the vote, making it the most bipartisan vote in the slim history of impeachments. But how much will any of this really matter? Does it stand any chance of bringing Americans together in rejecting Trump’s instigation of the Capitol riot—or will the rushed process just make an already stubborn partisan divide worse?” • A real lesson in what it takes to get Congress to act on a problem with some dispatch, I suppose.

Life’s little ironies:

And the first time Trump wasn’t impeached, it was for something he didn’t do. Imagine if, instead of investing enormous energies in RussiaGate, liberal Democrats had invested that same effort in continuous oversight of the Trump administration’s performance, particularly with regard to the pandemic, not only showing us what Trump was doing wrong, but what they would do instead. If they truly intended to “hit the ground runnning” after the Presidential election, that would have been helpful. Of course, that would come perilously close to governing.

Our Famously Free Press

“How Facebook Incubated the Insurrection” [New York Times]. Weirdly, the Times puts this in the Opinion section. “Facebook’s algorithms have coaxed many Americans into sharing more extreme views on the platform — rewarding them with likes and shares for posts on subjects like election fraud conspiracies, Covid-19 denialism and anti-vaccination rhetoric. We reviewed the public post histories for dozens of active Facebook users in these spaces. Many, like Mr. [Dom] McGee, transformed seemingly overnight. A decade ago, their online personas looked nothing like their presences today. A journey through their feeds offers a glimpse of how Facebook rewards exaggerations and lies. But the rewards are trivial compared with the costs: The influencers amass followers, enhance their reputations, solicit occasional donations and maybe sell a few T-shirts. The rest of us are left with democracy buckling under the weight of citizens living an alternate reality.” • From the “news-gathering institution” that brought you RussiaGate, not to mention Iraq WMDs. I also note that the word has changed from “coup” to “insurrection.” Worth a read, though!

“Exclusive: Over 1,000 brands ran ads alongside election misinformation” [Axios]. “A new report from NewsGuard, a service that uses trained journalists to rate news and information sites, found that from Oct. 1 through Jan. 12, nearly every major brand in America inadvertently ran automated ads on websites that peddled election conspiracies and misinformation. The chaotic nature of the modern news cycle and digital advertising landscape has made it nearly impossible for brands to run ads against quality content in an automated fashion without encountering bad content.” • B-a-a-a-d content. Bad, bad, bad!

Capitol Seizure

UPDATE “‘This isn’t the final chapter’: Analyst warns, again, about rise of right-wing extremists” (interview) [NBC]. Background: “In April 2009, a senior Homeland Security intelligence analyst named Daryl Johnson wrote an internal report warning that right-wing extremism was on the rise in the United States and that it could lead to violence. The report leaked, and the backlash was swift.” Now the interview: “NBC NEWS: What was your reaction when you saw the insurrection on the Capitol last week? JOHNSON: Over the summer, spring and fall we had two other capitol buildings, in Michigan and Idaho, that were overrun and breached by the same type of people. It was not beyond the realm of possibility that these people will do a similar thing to try to stop the election. I thought it was going to be at another state capitol building, but it ended up being the U.S. Capitol. So it wasn’t a surprise.” • Now I don’t feel so bad. It turns out that others more qualified than I am made the same mistake I did. So, no more self-administered lashes with a wet noodle for me for not making the call.

“Democrats demand probe into nature of Capitol tours on day before assault” [ABC]. “Congressional Democrats have demanded an investigation into what they call ‘suspicious behavior and access’ for some visitors the day before the Capitol assault, alleging that unnamed lawmakers led ‘an extremely high number of outside groups’ through the building on what they say could have been ‘reconnaissance’ tours…. 30 lawmakers [signed] a letter Wednesday to request an investigation from the acting House sergeant-at-arms, the acting Senate sergeant-at-arms, and the United States Capitol Police… The letter does not name any members or make a specific reference to Republicans, nor does it make any specific allegation that members leading the tours were privy to any plans to attack the Capitol the next day…. ‘Many of the Members who signed this letter, including those of us who have served in the military and are trained to recognize suspicious activity, as well as various members of our staff, witnessed an extremely high number of outside groups in the complex on Tuesday, January 5,’ the lawmakers wrote.” • Eesh.

“‘What is Wrong with These People?'” [Barry Ritholtz, The Big Picture]. Re-upping from 2017: “‘What the hell is wrong with those people?’ If the events of recent weeks (or years) have you asking yourself that, the answer is: not very much. They simply suffer from a small but crucial error in the way their brains create models of the world around them. That is the conclusion of “The Unpersuadables: Adventures with the Enemies of Science,” a 2014 book I reread this weekend. The insights of author Will Storr are applicable not only to the current political mayhem but to traders and investors. Indeed, anyone who makes important decisions based on their subjective understandings of the universe stands to learn something about themselves and their decision-making processes. Storr interviews, and occasionally embeds himself with, people many of us might describe as rather eccentric if not disturbed. UFO abductees, Holocaust deniers, new earth creationists, Western medicine eschewing homeopaths, meditation gurus, extreme yogis, ‘skeptics’ and past-life regression therapists are among those whose world views are closely examined. What is so striking about all of the people embracing unorthodox views isn’t that they are insane, but rather that they seem so normal. Indeed, what is wrong with these people? They are deeply tribal; they construct story lines to help make sense of the world; when evidence is presented in direct conflict to that narrative, they find ways to dismiss it or ignore it. Their compulsion for emotional narratives overwhelms any sense of data or evidence-based analysis. They are homo sapiens operating the way homo sapiens wetware has operated for hundreds of thousands of years. What is so shocking is not that these people are so awful or believe in awful things, but that they are otherwise rational and sane people.” • Catullus 22: “Everyone has their own special delusion; but we do not see the knapsack which is on our back.”

UPDATE Interesting:

If any readers know of similar aggregations, I’d like to see them. You can forward links to me at the email address before the plant. Thanks!

UPDATE “The Slush Fund Bankrolling The Insurrectionist GOP” [Daily Poster]. “An election in Colorado illustrates how CLF often plays a far more direct role than PAC donations in supporting insurrectionist Republicans. Freshman Rep. Lauren Boebert, who voted against certifying the presidential election and refuses to walk through Capitol metal detectors, was boosted by more than $900,000 of spending by CLF and only received $20,000 from business PACs. ‘Are these corporations saying they’re no longer donating their $5,000 max corporate PAC checks to Republicans or saying they’re no longer doing bundling and financing million-dollar super PACs on behalf of Republicans?’ asked Justice Democrats’ Waleed Shahid, whose organization works to elect progressive lawmakers. ‘Big difference.’ That difference explains the dissonance between exuberant media headlines heralding the end of PAC donations and yet quiet reassurances that there will be no interruption of the much larger flood of cash funding the GOP’s political apparatus.” • I continue to express my amazement at the idea that cutting Republicans off from corporate funding is bad for Republicans, and good for Democrats. Does Sirota really want the right-wing equivalent of the Sanders campaign, small-donor funded, but this time a true 365-day-a-year movement? (I think this piece reproduces two cardinal errors that Democrats of whatever stripe often make: (1) They focus on what Repubicans are doing, instead of what they themselves should do, and (2) they don’t consider the idea that Republicans will display adaptive behavior. I like Sirota a lot, but I think he’s getting a little caught up in the whirl.)

UPDATE “FAA steps up enforcement against unruly airline passengers” [Associated Press]. “The Federal Aviation Administration said there has been ‘a disturbing increase in incidents where airline passengers have disrupted flights with threatening or violent behavior. These incidents have stemmed both from passengers’ refusals to wear masks and from recent violence at the U.S. Capitol.’ The FAA said under an order signed by Administrator Stephen Dickson, unruly passengers will no longer get warnings. Instead, the agency said, it will launch legal enforcement actions. Penalties can includes fines up to $35,000 and jail terms for passengers who assault or threaten airline crews or other passengers. The new policy will be in effect through March 30. It won quick praise from the head of the largest U.S. flight attendants’ union. ‘First strike and you’re out. We applaud FAA Administrator Dickson for taking this clear stand for our safety and security,’ Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, said in a statement.”

Transition to Biden

“Scoop: House freshmen at war after Capitol siege” [Axios]. “The freshmen class of House Republicans has been fighting since last Wednesday’s Capitol assault, creating a clear split just over a week after being sworn in. The conversation started when Greene — a fierce defender of President Trump and former QAnon backer — sent a National Pulse article to the chain claiming the president’s approval numbers had increased in December. Mace, who came out early against Republicans who planned to reject the election results, fired back: ‘I’m disgusted by what you and other Q-conspiracy theorists did last week in the chamber after all of the violence.’ Greene said she condemned it and told Mace ‘don’t believe the fake news.’ She also brought up how some Black Lives Matter protests turned violent. Mace answered: ‘Literal QAnon lady trying to deny she’s a QAnon lady.'”

Does make you wonder if Democrats decided, early, that they would need a cop:

Transition from Trump

Stats Watch

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

Employment Situation: “09 January 2021 Initial Unemployment Claims Rolling Average Significantly Worsens” [Econintersect]. “Market expectations for weekly initial unemployment claims (from Econoday) were 775 K to 835 K (consensus 788 K), and the Department of Labor reported 965,000 new claims. The more important (because of the volatility in the weekly reported claims and seasonality errors in adjusting the data) 4 week moving average moved from 816,000 (reported last week as 818,750) to 834,250,”

Rail: “Rail Week Ending 09 January 2021 – Rail Starts Year In Positive Territory” [Econintersect]. “Week 1 of 2021 shows same week total rail traffic (from the same week one year ago) improved according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR) traffic data. Total rail traffic has been mostly in contraction for over one year – and now is slowly recovering from the coronavirus pandemic.”

Imports: December 2020 Import Year-over-Year Inflation Now -0.3%” [Econintersect]. “Year-over-year import price indices inflation remained in contraction and grew from -1.0 % to -0.3 %.”

* * *

Commodities: “USDA Report Analysis: Is the U.S. Running Out of Soybeans to Sell?” [AgWeb]. “USDA’S final crop production report of the year made some historic adjustments. As a result, soybeans shot 60 cents higher in a matter of minutes, and corn traded up the limit. While the corn revisions seemed to be the bigger story on Tuesday, University of Missouri extension economist Ben Brown says USDA produced several surprises in its report on Tuesday. ‘I continue to believe after today that the story was really about corn, and especially the corn yield drop,’ he says. ‘We found in our first quarter stocks report this month, it came in 651 million bushels blow trade estimate. So that’s a large bullish surprise.'”

Shipping: “Surging Shipping Rates Add New Headwind for the Global Economy” [gCaptain]. “The convulsions are reaching beyond supply chains into operations, either curbing output or saddling manufacturers with goods that haven’t been paid for, and wreaking havoc on inventories and cash flows. In some cases, supply snarls are begetting demand drags: Some factories complain they can’t consider new orders until the clogged pipeline clears…. The outlook gets no less murky heading into February — when Chinese New Year marks a seasonal turn in Asian exports, many importers renegotiate freight rates with carriers for the next 12 months and ocean carriers start to receive tens of thousands of new containers they ordered last year… Normally container rates drop 15% to 20% after the Chinese holiday, he said, but ‘that might not happen exactly the same this year because the backlog has got to be cleared.'”

Tech: “Amazon’s Ring Neighbors app exposed users’ precise locations and home addresses” [Tech Crunch]. “A security flaw in Ring’s Neighbors app was exposing the precise locations and home addresses of users who had posted to the app…. Another problem was that every post was tied to a unique number generated by the server that incremented by one each time a user created a new post. Although the number was hidden from view to the app user, the sequential post number made it easy to enumerate the location data from previous posts — even from users who aren’t geographically nearby…. Ring currently faces a class-action suit by dozens of people who say they were subjected to death threats and racial slurs after their Ring smart cameras were hacked. In response to the hacks, Ring put much of the blame on users for not using “best practices” like two-factor authentication, which makes it harder for hackers to access a user’s account with the user’s password…. The smart tech maker has also faced increasing criticism from civil rights groups and lawmakers for its cozy relationship with hundreds of U.S. police departments that have partnered with Ring for access to homeowners’ doorbell camera footage.” • Idea: Make Ring mandatory!

Tech: “U.S. asks Tesla to recall 158,000 vehicles for touchscreen failures” [Reuters]. “The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on Wednesday asked Tesla Inc to recall 158,000 Model S and Model X vehicles over media control unit (MCU) failures that could pose safety risks by leading to touchscreen displays not working…. NHTSA added that ‘during our review of the data, Tesla provided confirmation that all units will inevitably fail given the memory device’s finite storage capacity.'” • Oh.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 69 Greed (previous close: 70 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 66 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 14 at 12:24pm.

The Biosphere

“British bees are becoming reliant on the invasive Himalayan Balsam flower for nectar as honey samples show decline in native wildflowers” [Daily Mail]. “Using cutting-edge DNA barcoding, de Vere and her team identified which plants bees visit most often today – by looking at the pollen trapped within honey. They compared this to a 1952 survey where a microscope had been used to analyse the grains sent from hives across the country…. The differences were clear between results from 1952 and the modern study. With fewer pastures and increased use of herbicides and inorganic fertiliser in farming, white clover has dropped to second place as a honeybee staple. The insects are also turning much more to oilseed rape, a plant which has a sting in its tail because of bee harming pesticides. The team behind the new bee study also found they were turning to Himalyan balsam – which is non-native to Britain and highly invasive. Other important sources are spring flowering shrubs and trees including hawthorn, apple, Cotoneasters, sycamore, maples , cherries, plums and heather.”

Health Care

UDPATE “CDC study finds COVID-19 outbreaks aren’t fueled by in-person classes” [The Hill]. “A new study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that in-person classes at K-12 schools do not appear to lead to increases in COVID-19 when compared with areas that have online-only learning. The CDC study noted that in the week beginning Dec. 6, coronavirus cases among the general population in counties where K-12 schools opened for in-person learning were similar to rates in counties that were online only. ‘CDC recommends that K-12 schools be the last settings to close after all other mitigation measures have been employed and the first to reopen when they can do so safely,’ the authors of the report wrote.”

“Improving Ventilation in Your Home” [Centers for Disease Control] (updated 2021). This full of useful, pragmatic information. Picking out one random item: “Use ceiling fans to help improve air flow in the home whether or not windows are open.” • I don’t know whether “virus particles,” used throughout, was in the 2019 version, or whether CDC is using this phrase to bridge the droplets v. aerosols controversy.

“Bury Me Furious” [The Nation]. “Losing dozens of friends in your 20s and 30s and then getting diagnosed with a deadly virus yourself when you’re young really fucks you up. I’ve lost more people than I care to count to AIDS since the late 1980s—and many of those who survived still bear the scars of those years… I spent most of 2020 high on adrenaline. As an infectious disease epidemiologist and someone living with HIV, pandemics strike visceral fear into me even as I try to focus my thoughts, logically, scientifically, on what needs to get done. At the end of 2020, with no holiday celebrations, with instructions to my research group not to do any work between Christmas and New Year, my world was quieter for a few days. And the grief, sadness, terror of 2020 just welled up. I looked in the mirror and could see what this struggle has done to me, physically, emotionally, psychologically…. Twenty twenty-one is here. We greet it with a Democrat soon to be in the White House, and both the Senate and the House in Democratic control. This is our last best chance to finally vanquish Covid-19. We cannot screw it up. The ability to cope, to make our way through the pandemic relatively unscathed, ended a long time ago for some, but for even the die-hards like me, it’s getting tough to think how we can all bear much more of this.” • Check his list. It seems unlikely to me that the Biden administration will be able to do all of it, or if it even wants to.

“The World Is Desperate for More Covid Vaccines” [New York Times]. “There is another way. President-elect Joe Biden can solve the U.S. and worldwide vaccine shortages by using a strategy inspired by the one our country used to address the AIDS crisis. Mr. Biden can marshal the federal government’s resources to manufacture additional vaccine supplies and combine that move with vigorous efforts to boost distribution. Nearly two decades ago, Anthony Fauci, who was then almost 20 years into his role as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, helped persuade President George W. Bush to establish the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. The goal of Pepfar, as it’s called, was to ensure that people in countries with limited resources could get medication to treat H.I.V. Pepfar has received consistent bipartisan support and is recognized as one of the most successful global health initiatives ever implemented, responsible for saving an estimated 18 million lives to date, according to the U.S. government. Mr. Biden can help address today’s urgent global health challenge by establishing the President’s Emergency Plan for Vaccine Access and Relief, or Pepvar, and rapidly building facilities to manufacture vaccines and their constituent components at scale. Manufacturing could be coordinated using a model similar to the one used by the Department of Energy’s national laboratories, in which a government-owned facility is operated by a private organization experienced in the relevant sector.” • I don’t think Pfizer would be happy about that.

UPDATE “Problems With Paying People to Be Vaccinated Against COVID-19” [JAMA]. “[P]ayment-for-vaccination proposals are not only unnecessary, but problematic. First, people have a moral duty to be vaccinated, including a duty to promote their own health, a duty to others to promote the community benefit of vaccination, and a duty to society for individuals to do their fair share in putting a stop to the pandemic. Being vaccinated in order to receive a $1000 or $1500 incentive robs the act of moral significance…. Second, paying a substantial sum as an incentive to overcome vaccine hesitancy and to promote vaccine uptake is not a prudent investment. It is likely that a majority of the population will be eager to get vaccinated as soon as possible in view of the extremely high and increasing number of SARS-CoV-2 infections and COVID-19–related hospitalizations and deaths…. Third, some might feel that a substantial monetary incentive for vaccination is coercive. While this is a misconception that confuses an offer with a threat, there is a genuine ethical concern about the influence of such an incentive on decision-making.” • Wellie… First, we’re facing ruin. Moralizing can wait. Second, “prudent investment” sounds like “complex eligibility requirements, to me. Why not just pay people whether they want to be vaccinated or not? The third point restates the first. I think the overarching problem is that for many outside the public heatlh establishment, “public” is just a word; that’s life under neoliberalism. If paying the individual is what it takes, pay them.

Police State Watch

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes (which I think I got wrong the other day):

Not sure how the liberal Democrat focus on enforcement action plays out, given the enforcers they’ll have to rely on. (One wonders whether “Demilitarize the police” would have gotten more traction than defunding them. Now that all that surplus equipment is no longer new and needs to be maintained…)

Guillotine Watch

Another ugly home:

I’m always astonished at the sheer ugliness of these multi-millionaire’s homes. Versailles, for all the, er, issues with the Bourbons, is beautiful. So, despite being built on profits from the empire or the slave trade, are many English country houses. But these houses are just deformed. It’s like these rich clients can’t even imagine or express what they want to the architect, so they end up with something that looks like a resort or a hotel. In a way, this mirrors the capitol allocation problems our society has: So much stupid money sloshing about, so few places to invest it. Public goods don’t count.

News of the Wired

“‘The Queen’s Gambit’: a review.” [The Scrum]. “The series is inspiring in an endearingly old-fashioned sense. While it is neither moralistic nor judgmental, it certainly has something to say to us today. A young woman flirts with real dangers while growing up in unusually confronting circumstances. More and more, she comes to see that she is being helped along the way by the love and compassion of other people, people who, at the same time, are trying to find a way through their own problems and insecurities. The story sends a message that none of us is perfect but that we do better when we set out to support one another and work in teams. In other words, society matters. There is a subtle—almost invisible—international dimension to this theme.”

“‘Rent-a-person who does nothing’ in Tokyo receives endless requests, gratitude” [The Mainichi]. “A 37-year-old Tokyo man who says he rents himself out to other people ‘to do nothing’ has been inundated with gratitude from Twitter users, indicating people are happy with his new form of support. ‘I’m glad I was able to take a walk with someone while keeping a comfortable distance, where we didn’t have to talk but could if we wanted to,’ one user wrote. Another reflected, ‘I had been slack about visiting the hospital, but I went because he came with me.’… In the current age, difficulties have spread to various areas of life. It may be the case that somewhere in their hearts, everyone is longing for someone who will cheer them on. It seems that this may be why the “rent-a-person who does nothing” — who doesn’t tell you to ‘do your best’ or that they ‘support you,’ but stays by your side in silence, has seen endless demand.” • “[D]ifficulties have spread to various areas of life” is “not necessarily to our advantage”-level understatement…

“A lost paradise of purity” [Standpoint]. “Whilst it is generally undesirable to map biographical elements onto abstract music in the absence of external evidence, in Schubert’s case the evidence is to hand. There is moreover a directness of utterance, an absence of artifice or gesture in his music, which make him for many the most lovable of all composers. His genius is to draw us in to the melancholy of his interior world, and at the same time to set before us a vision of unattainable beauty, albeit one suffused with the ineffable sadness of transience.” • The rest of the piece is in fact better, but hard to extract. Worth a read. If not:

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (WHD):

WHD writes: “If you look in the lower left corner, you can see the first coffee bean ripening. Next to the Xmas tree. Frozen pond in background. In Minneapolis. I purchased one coffee plant at the Friends Plant sale about six years ago. There were actually 9 in the pot. Five survived and are thriving.” I had no idea one could grow coffee indoors. Although I don’t think the yield from five plants would meet my needs.

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About Lambert Strether

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


    1. Carolinian

      Maybe they are competent libertarians but incompetent computer wizards (a “pirate”skill set).

      It doesn’t take much to keep Pirate Bay online as it is just a set of easily mirrored links. I believe I once read that they carried it around on a thumb drive.

      1. Shtucb

        The Parler guys having their iPhone app tossed was a risk they could not plan around. If they wanted to be on the iPhone, they take the risk of Apple pulling the rug out from under them at any time. Apple has a proven track record of doing this, so having it done should not have surprised them.

        For Android, they should have had a side-load APK strategy ready to go and well documented. No idea if they did that. But again, there was nothing much they could do if Google pulled them from the Play Store. They pretty much had to take this risk to be on Android.

        But relying on AWS, Amazon’s cloud API and infrastructure, was a [family-blogging] big mistake on their part. Losing this killed their web site entirely, and switching to an open cloud hosting environment is NOT a simple operation. I’ll be impressed if they can get it done in the week they say. I’d guess a month of 10+ hour days for their dev team, but we’ll see.

        1. R

          I use Twitter and Facebook via their web apps on my phone and can’t really imagine why anyone would use an app for a service that is basically reading text and clicking web links…

          Being kicked from the App Store sucks for them, but there’s always the web.

          1. Kurt Sperry

            From the user standpoint too. apps are mostly a solution in search of a problem. It’s like downloading a separate browser for every website you visit instead off just using one, or at most a couple. Of course there are no choices of browser, no privacy extensions or ad blockers for apps, so you can see the appeal.

        2. The Rev Kev

          Maybe those guys never imagined that Amazon, Apple and Android would get (“collude”?) together and yank all support with only a day or so’s notice. For an individual, that would be like a bank cancelling all your accounts, your insurance company cancelling your policies and your local county announcing that they will be seizing your land for a development project all at once.

          1. polecat

            Kinda like what the warriors-of-cashians wish for – Complete CONtol & $ubMission. ‘All Your former Anonymity .. Belong to US!.’

    2. ocop

      I would think they would have had the rug pulled out from under them if they were google hosted too. Maybe not Azure?

      Either way if they end up back up and running they will have an extremely committed and further agitated user base. “De-platforming” as a strategy seems like it can only result in fleeting symbolic victories followed by blowback when a substantial share of the public is involved.

  1. QuicksilverMessenger

    The Queen’s Gambit- I loved this series as I’m a fan of chess, and it really is a quality program. If anyone is interested in the actual chess matches played here (or any historic chess games), Agadmator on youtube (he’s a former Croatian master) analyzes the the matches in the Queen’s Gambit. He has also analyzed thousands of great matches from chess history as well.

    Attached here is one of the games from Queen’s Gambit, Harmon v Borgov:


    1. Sardonia

      I loved this series. Great characters, and possibly the only film or series that really got the chess right.

      But the kicker was the very last scene, where she leaves her handler to go see the old men playing blitz chess in a Moscow park, who are possibly the only people to know who she is. And amidst the recognition, one old man gestures her an invitation, and she sits and says in Russian “Let’s play.”

        1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

          An excellent series which I was fortunately coerced into watching by herself. Not a world into which I would enter, but as a layman a fascinating insight into that game. I was worried that the plot would descend into the usual cliches when the inevitable things going wrong & the Russians turned up, but it rose well above that.

          As for Schubert –


          1. montanamaven

            It’s a great series! Not about rich people. About middle class Midwestern kids trying to make a buck. At chess. Disclosure. I visited the set as I’m an agent. It was all shot in Berlin! Amazing production design. The Vegas casino was built inside a 1930s building,

    2. wadge22

      I watched and enjoyed The Queens Gambit a little while ago when it came out. I think the article does a pretty good job of pitching it, but I had a couple things to add.

      First, it was notable that I felt it does an okay (as in at-least-not-a-demented-propagandistic-caricature) job of depicting the Soviet Union and it’s people with some nuance. I also thought it was nice that, while there were scenes that dealt with Russia, it didn’t dominate the show or seem to be there as a topic to make a point about, just a setting and a reality for the characters. I was surprised both ways, as I generally have come to expect the opposite from Netflix produced programming.

      The other thing that I thought was a success was a variety of engaging depictions of the game of chess. If you watch the whole series, and have even little interest in chess, there will likely be at least one scene that presents interesting chess play somewhere near your level of knowledge. I know it was true both for me, with my atrophied small amount of chess knowledge, and for my girlfriend who knows almost nothing about the game. Reaching both of us without boring either was probably not an easy task, and I think they did a good job. No doubt the series was a win for public perception and awareness of chess.

      1. Michaelmas

        I dunno. I suspect the book, THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT, by Walter Tevis is better than the movie. The snatches I see of the series seem deeply implausible, in that the lead actress looks like the product of advanced genetic engineering to produce a Beautiful Person.

        Good for her. But anybody who won the genetic lottery like that almost certainly never suffered the early-life problems the Beth Harmon character is supposed to have had. (Though it’s nice to see the 1960s fashions again.) Tevis’s novel makes it clear that Beth is no particular winner in the looks department.

        Tevis was an adept novelist, who also wrote THE HUSTLER, THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH and MOCKINGBIRD, which are all well worth reading. He called himself ‘a third-rate writer who fooled people into thinking he was a second-rate one’ or something like that. But he was one of those writers who wrote books that have stories that move regular people and you can make movies of, but who are actually better than a lot of the critics’ favorites.

        1. howseth

          I dunno too… Ah! her talent was pointed to – in the first episode – by genetic superiority. She had a crazed math PHD genius mom. (not dad?) – then those looks- what a deal!
          I’ll admit I liked looking at this pick-of-the-litter beautiful big eyed girl though – and they did a good job framing her head during those chess games. Yeah, it had quality lighting and 1960’s sets. Lighting quality reminded me of good BBC series lighting – in some of their series in the 1980’s – I used to think think back then how garish much of American TV series were lit.

    3. eg

      I enjoyed the series very much, especially the sets and costume. I don’t usually notice the visuals in film quite as much as I did in this one, so this was something of a revelation for me.

  2. marcyincny

    “And the first time Trump wasn’t impeached, it was for something he didn’t do. Imagine if, instead of investing enormous energies in RussiaGate, liberal Democrats had invested that same effort in continuous oversight of the Trump administration’s performance, particularly with regard to the pandemic, not only showing us what Trump was doing wrong, but what they would do instead. If they truly intended to “hit the ground runnning” after the Presidential election, that would have been helpful. Of course, that would come perilously close to governing.”

    Yes, yes and YES.

    1. Pelham

      I’ll confess I haven’t read a single Trump tweet other than the few that have been shoved in my face by other sources. So my understanding of what Trump is being accused of in the “insurrection” impeachment is not all it should be.

      So let’s see whether I’ve got this straight. Trump is accused of fomenting an insurrection due to his persistent challenge of the election results and certain sly remarks, such as telling the Proud
      Boys to “stand by.” Then shortly after the mob stormed the Capitol, he again maintained the election was rigged but urged the crowd to go home.

      But Democrats after the elections in 2000, 2004 and 2016 also challenged the election results without raising any objections that they, too, were risking an insurrection or undermining the democratic process. Of course, no violence ensued. So maybe that’s the determining factor? Or maybe the crime is not so much what Trump said but rather his insistence and persistence in saying it?

      1. Acacia

        I keep hearing people make this argument:

        “Well, Trump didn’t say it, but that’s what he really means to say. He’s very crafty, you know, and always finds ways of signaling to his base.”

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Symbol manipulators gotta symbol manipulate.

          First take the yarn diagram out of your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the yarn diagram from your sibling’s eye.

      2. marym

        I disagree that there were no objections to the Democrats’ undermining of the electoral process in their failure to acknowledge their own role in the 2016 defeat, the attempted solicitation of “faithless electors,” the whole idea of the #resistance, the endless Russiagatery, and the first impeachment. They have their followers among the electorate and the media, but there was always criticism from establishment Republicans, the Trump electorate, the left, and of course Trump.

        As far as Trump’s role in incitement, below is a link to a summary and additional links.


      3. The Rev Kev

        There’s something about Trump that drives some people crazy. Just a few minutes ago I was listening to demands on TV that Trump be removed digitally from Home Alone 2 because his very image must be banished. Of course that is not the only time that he did cameo in a film-


        The section on his appearance in Sex and the City is fun to read now when it say “Samantha, a Cosmopolitan, and Donald Trump, you just don’t get more New York than that.” But some PMCs have just gone over the top with anything to do with Trump-


        1. ambrit

          Most of the PMCs that I deal with wish that Trump’s entire time in the White House could be relegated to a cameo. Unfortunately for this desire, Trump is the embodiment of a serious angst arising from the “lower” and declining “middle” classes of America.
          The rot runs deep, and is bipartisan.

          1. QuicksilverMessenger

            Is there good data on who the Trump supporters are, and the demographics? Are they actually lower classes, etc? I sometimes wonder if it is well-to-do right wingers who are core of his support. I know that “Podium Guy” (since arrested) was a father of five, married to a physician. Not lower class. And I have an uncle who is a dentist, rich, married even richer- die hard Trumpist. I think also that Yves has written in comments before that she knew Trump people from the Upper West Side (I think?). I liked where Lambert was going a few days ago, trying to determine the make up of the crowd, even if to little avail.
            “I also couldn’t get a sense of the class and cultural markers in the capital crowd; perhaps weekend and leisure-wear homogenize everybody.”

            I have been thinking along these lines as well

    1. Mikel

      I guess they didn’t want robots?
      Strange ways of trying to make money out there.
      Like watching people “react” to listening to music on YouTube channels. What is that about?
      Nobody to listen to music with so you watch somebody “react” to hearing a song you’ve always liked?

    2. The Rev Kev

      When I was reading that article, I was reminded of a line form the novel “Shogun” where it talks about the danger of sharing truths and that it is better to whisper into a deep well what you want to say and when the sun is high so that you can be sure there is nobody at the bottom of that well. Kinda the same here as in having a stranger who does not know you or anything about you being around to share conversations, walks or even just no conversations at all.

  3. Jason Boxman

    The World Is Desperate for More Covid Vaccines – “Manufacturing could be coordinated using a model similar to the one used by the Department of Energy’s national laboratories, in which a government-owned facility is operated by a private organization experienced in the relevant sector.”

    As I recall, that hasn’t gone so well for the actual contract workers involved in managing our nuclear stockpile. For example, AILING, ANGRY NUCLEAR-WEAPONS WORKERS FIGHT FOR COMPENSATION from 2015 from The Center for Public Integrity. I know I’ve read others, in the past few years, but I don’t recall where.

    It’s typical that everything has to be public-private partnership. Why not develop these capabilities and have them available as a public good? In the distant past we did have a national, publicly owned capability to manufacture vaccines. This is as good a time as any to recover it.

    1. Carla

      @Jason Boxman — yes, this is what we urgently need in so many areas of life. But when I mention “the public good” or “the common good” to my local elected officials or civil servants, the response is either a blank stare, or a slightly suppressed, condescending little smile.

      We have an excellent, prize-winning, local public library system in my town. Some years ago, the word “public” quietly disappeared from its logo and signage. Residents have never failed to support a library levy. It is certainly the best-loved institution in our community. Yet a few years ago, the (excellent) library director and her board decided that they needed the (highly taxed) citizens they serve to create a non-profit corporation to further support our library system. The reason? the state of Ohio has slashed it funding for public libraries. When I argued that in response to the state’s action, the community had stepped up valiantly in support of this service it so values, and that creating a private funding mechanism for a public institution was the first step down the slippery slope of privatization — I was completely alone in my point of view.

      These are people whom I respect personally and professionally, and it was as if I was speaking in some strange dialect. No one really could quite understand what I was talking about. The idea that maybe private money should NOT be sought to support and sustain a public purpose is incomprehensible to them.

      Well, I guess Andrew Carnegie started the whole free public library thing to salve his conscience, so maybe I AM all wet.

  4. Bill Carson

    “Wednesday’s impeachment of President Donald Trump was one of the strangest political events in memory: A historic rebuke to a president delivered with just days remaining in his term, with seemingly little at stake—and a Senate away on recess, in no rush to take a vote on whether to convict.”

    I actually found yesterday’s impeachment to be cathartic. It provided some closure, even though there will have to be a full investigation.

    I was in favor of the impeachment, so that will affect my opinion of the House’s actions, but rather than further divide the nation, I think it may start the healing process.

    1. Lee

      I take the term “healing process” more literally. It will begin when everybody can afford to get the medical care they need. If I sound bitter and cynical as to our country’s political leadership and our prospects for the future, it’s because I am. I do hope I am wrong.

    2. Return of the Bride of Joe Biden

      I don’t think there is a healing process to be had. The process seems more akin to ripping a scab off periodically with the intention of preventing healing.

      Cheers, and remember to vote D or R in two years. God only knows what will happen if we don’t.

      1. John Anthony La Pietra

        That last paragraph reminds me of a classic quote from Basil Fawlty. After thanking his wife Sybil out loud for a bit of “help” she’d just given him — and tacking on a “I don’t know where I’d be without you!” — he concluded, under his breath, “Land of the living, probably. . . .”

    3. Keith

      I think the impeachment gets rid of the need for the full investigation. Impeachment is about politics, and now the question is how will the Trump show continue, after the new Congress shows up or do they what I think Clyborn mentioned, and wait 100 days to let Biden start his agenda. Either way, as long as there is a show trial, there will be a spectacle. Either way, both sides dig in deeper and deeper, and the spotlight on Biden goes away. Also, I suspect the Congress’s thoughts about 2022 elections kick in, truly turning the impeachment into a sight to behold. That is without reference to Swalwell being the impeachment manager- which I am sure the conservative base knows much about.

      1. Rodeo Clownfish

        I kind of expect the Senate trial part of the process to wait until the Dems take control and try to maximize the votes for conviction so they can hope to legally ban Trump from running again in 2024. Even if Trump’s age in 2024 would make his candidacy unlikely, I suspect he would continue to hint at running for re-election as a means to stay in the spotlight and raise campaign funds that might find creative purposes. The Dems might blunt his hold on the Qanon masses if his future candidacy could be forestalled.

    4. Carolinian

      there will have to be a full investigation

      Shoot first, ask questions later? Turley says this sets a terrible Constitutional precedent although one could argue the Repubs did that when the impeached Bill Clinton over that dress. But at least there was an investigation before they did that (boy was there ever).

      Pelosi will be remembered as a great trivializer of government. In that sense she’s an appropriate Trump antagonist.

    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the healing process

      Please don’t take this personally, but at least in the press and the political class, those who call for “healing” are highly unlikely to be wounded or injured in any material sense (as with eviction, loss of work, lack of “access” to health care, being hounded by debt collectors). There are not very many deaths of despair among the political class!

      I translate “healing,” then, into “allowing me to forget my ego damage.” Brunch, anyone?

  5. Wukchumni

    Liked the 8 bedrooms/14 bathrooms gig on the $20 million Garage Mahal, all the rich ever desired, was more chances to go.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I’m surprised — translating the deeply sad Mainichi example to the American context — that they haven’t hired any members of the lower orders to “go” on (nice work if you can get it, and 14 good jobs at good wages for those willing). I mean, who among us would deny the rich their simple pleasures?

  6. Mikel

    9030 Sandringham Dr, Houston, TX 77024
    Priced at: $19,950,000
    8 beds / 14 baths / 21,738 sqft

    Everyone gets a bathroom for doing a #1 and a bathroom for doing a #2?

    1. anon y'mouse

      2 master suites that have dual baths, each other bedroom gets a bath, and a few scattered around so you don’t need a scooter to get to one quickly when you need to–bar area, pool area, dining area, and entry.

      makes sense in a place that size. but who really needs a place that size?

      it has the architecture of a school or a community center, even bland as it is. it’s not a house, and definitely not a stately house.

          1. Wukchumni

            My sister blew $35k on a bathroom remodel, and I asked her why so much and she silenced me with a two word answer: ‘shit happens’.

            1. ambrit

              Just wow. You can buy a base model pickup truck for that amount of money.
              What is America coming to? (Answer: A fork in the road. Either way, we’re forked.)

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > So, the dwellers therein can properly be called “institutionalized.”

            “The stately homes of England are filled with padded rooms.” –Virginia Woolf (apocryphal).

    2. DJG

      Mikel: Yes. Otherwise, I am going to have to think of fourteen bodily functions that require a bathroom. I may have to become more imaginative.

      Lambert Strether asks why these places are so ugly: In the case of this one, it is obvious that it is built for re-sale. Everything is about getting it ready to sell again. The boring and inoffensive “art”–not even a Wyeth, not even a French advertisement / poster. The furniture, none of which looks older than five years.

      Beige carpets à go-go. The house is a tribute to beige.

      There are no books. Nothing has the weird layers of age and use that most of employ in our places–the books in the shelves along the fireplace, the pottery and vases (and in my case, the spirit house) on the mantelpiece. That odd piece of silver from Grandmama that migrated to the mantel. Nothing to indicate the house is inhabited and enjoyed.

      That everything is new and coordinated is a sign of re-sale-readiness. Always Be Closing.

      Knuckleheaded dynasties like the Savoys had plenty of houses–and even though they weren’t particularly bright, they knew better than Always Be Closing. They also took care of the house over years and years–sometimes, centuries.

      The U.S. upper-middle class knows ABC and nothing else. But there are a lot of bathrooms.

      1. Xihuitl

        Seems likely the house was “staged” for sale. But also likely the actual furnishings were not much different.

      2. Michaelmas

        That everything is new and coordinated is a sign of re-sale-readiness. Always Be Closing.

        Yes. The photos remind me of a set for a TV series, honestly — probably, one of those antiseptic near-future homes in BLACK MIRROR.

    3. polecat

      I always wonder, whenever I see some contemporary elite ‘home’ highlighted .. and ask myself – Would it make a beautiful and lasting Ruin?

      You just can’t beat the Ancients, for structural integrity and design. I’d take a 2000 year old roman villa any day, ash or no! … Hell, even a decrepit 13th Century english abbey would suffice.

      1. Hepativore

        I would like to see an attempt to rebuild the UK Crystal Palace that burned down in the 1930’s. Imagine having that for a mansion. You could turn it into a giant greenhouse and have your living room in a jungle.

        I also liked the Arabic-style of architecture in regards to many of these medieval-era mosques and palaces in the Middle East. It is too bad that none of these people who have mcmansions built for themselves never try to do anything like that. I wonder if there is something about being rich that also saps your creativity and imagination like it seems to do with empathy.

    4. Lemmy Caution

      I say bless their freakin’ hearts for every lavish square foot. I’d like to see how many painters, carpet layers, plumbers, carpenters, electricians, roofers, tile guys, interior decoraters, landscapers, furniture and lighting salespeople, cleaning service employees and probably dozens of other trade and service workers have made a pretty penny off of this ostentatious display. Unless the owners are hard-core do-it-yourselfer types, they must employ an army to take care of that baby.

    5. AbateMagicThinking But Not Money

      Nouveau Riche Piles:

      There is almost nothing so Joyful as sneering at the “what were they thinking?” excrescences that pollute the landscape in the nouveau riche “lifestyle” areas.

      I don’t go to to the beach, so what else is there to do but cycle around the “glitzy” areas of Australia’s Gold Coast, and have a good sneer?


      ps One of my more rational fears is that sooner or later a strong cyclone will dip much further south than usual and wash the canals and excrescences away with an associated storm surge.

  7. Wukchumni

    I’m quite a fan of the cherry slush in the summertime or a granita in Italy, and take great umbrage that a confectionary drink you can purchase for a few bucks is included in ‘slush fund’ stories, it has to stop.

    Why not ‘Cristal Funds’?

    1. ambrit

      It panes me to say this but next, you’ll be encouraging us all to indulge in the occasional “Crystal Night.”
      As the boys in the Beer Hall like to say; “When putsch comes to shrove…”
      From what I know of your background, I very much doubt that such was your intention.

  8. Wukchumni

    Oh Mademoiselle from Mercerville
    She’s the hardest working girl in town
    But she can’t make living when the site is down
    Hinky-linky Parler-view

    1. Wukchumni

      Oh Mademoiselle from Mercerville
      The cooties rambled through her lair;
      She whispered sweetly: red-bait fare
      Hinky-linky Parler-view

  9. Lee

    “‘Rent-a-person who does nothing’ in Tokyo receives endless requests, gratitude” [The Mainichi].

    My perfect job, if only I can do it from home and without actually being in the presence of whoever is paying me.

    More seriously, I am reminded of meditation in a Zendo, where a group of people do nothing together and derive strong feelings of solidarity in silence. Also, the pleasure of sitting alone in cafes discretely observing my fellow patrons over the edge of a printed page, or burglarizing snippets of their conversations, I am so sorely missing.

  10. JeffC

    Since by our good fortune, Schubert made it into our topics today, here’s my discovery of the week. Blew my socks off:

    “Schubert: Piano Trios – Sonatensatz – Notturno – Grand Duo by Jean-Philippe Collard/Augustin Dumay/Frederic Lodéon”

    I stumbled into it on Primephonic (https://play.primephonic.com/album/0094636529554)
    but when I looked on behalf of a friend, I found it on Amazon Prime’s streaming service as well. (And yes, there is even a CD.) I’ve been a fan of the two full piano trios since hearing them in concert last year, and I’ve been looking for a worthy recording ever since. For me this is it.

  11. notabanker

    Here is the actual CDC report, I think because the Hill doesn’t actually link to it. Good luck reading this gobbeldy gook. I routinely read 100+ page technical contract for a living and my brain hurts after trying to process just 12 paragraphs.


    First, here is the only sentence in the entire report that correlates Covid cases among children to community transmission:
    Despite this level of in-person learning, reports to CDC of outbreaks within K–12 schools have been limited,††† and as of the week beginning December 6, aggregate COVID-19 incidence among the general population in counties where K–12 schools offer in-person education (401.2 per 100,000) was similar to that in counties offering only virtual/online education (418.2 per 100,000).§

    Note the disclaimers in the second to last paragraph:
    The findings in this report are subject to at least four limitations. First, COVID-19 incidence is likely underestimated among children and adolescents because testing volume among these age groups was lower than that for adults, the rate of positive test results was generally higher among children and adolescents (particularly those aged 11–17 years) than that among adults, and testing frequently prioritized persons with symptoms; asymptomatic infection in children and adolescents occurs frequently (9). Second, data on race/ethnicity, symptom status, underlying conditions, and outcomes are incomplete, and completeness varied by jurisdiction; therefore, results for these variables might be subject to reporting biases and should be interpreted with caution. Future reporting would be enhanced by prioritizing completeness of these indicators for all case surveillance efforts. Third, the reporting of laboratory data differs by jurisdiction and might underrepresent the actual volume of laboratory tests performed; as well, reporting of laboratory and case data are not uniform.**** Finally, the presented analysis explores case surveillance data for children, adolescents, and young adults; trends in cases among teachers and school staff members are not available because cases are not routinely reported nationally by occupations other than health care workers.

    I don’t know how this report comes to the conclusion that schools should be the last to close and first to re-open. There certainly is evidence, going back to last February, that covid cases are far lower as children decrease in age. The data cited here reinforces that. But I see nothing in here that a reasonable person would translate to “in person classes does not increase community spread”, other then the one sentence cited above that seems to be awful weak sauce. Yet Bloomberg and the Hill are running with it, with very weak citations, as if it is a new fact.

    Please correct me if I’m wrong here, but this strikes me as a conclusion looking for good data, so we cobble some together and throw in the spanner at the end.

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      Thanks and condolences for the grueling public service read!

      I just so happened to listen to the most recent On the Media podcast, which gets granular about how the narrative that schools are safe gained traction in this country. Not long and worth a listen. They interview a journo who has been following this and I guess most recently published an article at the Intercept.

      Anyway, she says the reason countries abroad that didn’t close schools are closing them now is because their conclusions that there was little transmission were based on evidence gathered when the kids weren’t in school anyway, over the summer.

      And an influential study done in this country in the fall that contributed to the schools are safe consensus included a large group of kids as being in person who were in fact being virtually schooled.

      She said although a shift in the narrative is beginning within the scientific community, she heard Lori Lightfoot on the radio just within the past week announcing the opening of Chicago Public Schools and cringed when she heard her say, “We know schools are safe.”

      If I had school-age kids, I wouldn’t take the CDC’s word for anything. Come to think of it, I don’t have school-age kids and I don’t take their word for anything.

    2. CloverBee

      Having a kid attending in-person learning, it is important to note some clear issues.

      1) It is significantly more difficult to get kids tested. As an adult, I can drive up to multiple sites and get tested sitting in my car. Kids have to get an appointment to be seen before getting tested at a separate location; call, get an appointment, waiting room, see a provider, waiting room, get tested. The appointment isn’t free either.
      2) Parents can test positive, and send kids to school without getting them tested.

      I don’t doubt that kids need to be in school for adequate learning, I know they do, as I made the choice for my kid. It would be completely ignorant to not note the clear correlation between rising cases at the end of August and schools opening. Our nation’s continued lack of testing means there is no ability to draw any real conclusions about how spread is occurring in the community.

      On another note, there is no requirement for people who are COVID positive not to go to work, and private employers are continuing to require them to work. Community spread is completely unavoidable in these environment.

      1. notabanker

        Thanks for the link. Excellent article that looks at both sides and has actual reference links.

    3. Medbh

      I think it’s fair to debate whether or not the harms of in-person school outweigh the benefit, but I don’t see how anyone can argue schools are not a serious risk of spread.

      1. Kids are supposedly more likely to be asymptomatic. Unless you’re actually testing everyone on a consistent basis, how would you know if they’re infected or not?

      2. The test is unpleasant and somewhat scary (at least for a kid), and a number of the testing centers (especially the free ones) have age restrictions, which both suppress kid testing numbers.

      3. There’s a huge incentive for parents not to test or disclose their kids are sick. Parents send their kids to school sick even in normal times. For people with economic pressures, having to quarantine for 2 weeks with no pay is not an option. Some parents are openly encouraging others NOT to test because it might risk shutting the school down. There is serious peer pressure and social consequences relating to testing in some communities.

      4. The studies I’ve read compare the covid rates in schools to the community spread, but the “average” doesn’t reflect the difference in risk between those groups. I don’t consider it “safe” just because kids in-school have a lower covid rate than adults going to bars. I don’t know how those numbers exactly average out, but many people in the community are in very dangerous situations. A lower rate doesn’t mean it’s not spreading at schools too.

      5. I’ll accept the idea that schools are not a source of spread once they run a study that compares kids at home to kids at school, and everyone (family members included) gets tested twice a week. To use our family as an example, we’d go from no exposure (we all work and attend school from home) to sending 4 kids to 4 different buildings, with hundreds of kids indoors together for hours, multiplied by thousands of families in the district…and that’s not going to contribute to covid spread?

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thanks very much; I generally always try never to run the reporting and always find the original. I plead extenuating circumstances due to my totally destroyed workflow (hopefully to be restored by Tim Cook’s monopolistic and customer support-free behemoth on January 20, Inauguration Day :-o).

      I have been working on the assumption that the CDC should be kept away from manufacturing entirely, and that it is too slow to react on measures like masking but that its science is generally sound. The tenor of your comment makes me consider the idea that its science is not sound either. Oh dear.

  12. Mao "No Landlords Now" Zedong

    Remember that time that a bunch of terrorists were imprisoned together and then created ISIS from the connections they made while incarcerated?

    Good times, good times.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Indeed. I did not think of that historical precedent, but that is my fear.

      Adding, I believe that the same thing happened in Egypt with the Muslim Brotherhood.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Lee, thanks, this is really great and I listened all the way through (and good golly, so I loathe the way our increasingly oral culture made me spend 13 minutes listening when I could have spent a minute or two reading).

      I wrote down this sentence: “[T]hose that are disaffected but trained are the highest priority overseas…. because they were trained to act.” They have “initiative.” That is not true here, because those doing assessments domestically identify with those being assessed (“He was in my unit, he would never do that”).

      King also thinks “50 cities” on 1/20 is overestimated; 5 tops is more like it.

      King does however assume a pyramidal structure; but what if we’re got people working from a theory of leaderless resistance?

      Feel free to post more videos from this guy (and/or mail them to me). I would subscribe but that would require me to have a Google account.

      Also, I’m sure the semiotics speak deeply to a lot of people; I liked the “Curious George” cap….

  13. nippersdad

    Loved the plantidote!

    We have a back porch full of citrus trees at the moment which, at some point, I hope will make nice topiaries. There is nothing more cheerful than lemons, limes and calamondins in January and February; adding some nice red coffee beans to the mix is giving me ideas.

    At some point we may need something like the Houston monstrosity to house them all, but otherwise I see little point to living in such a poorly designed orangerie. My advice to them would be fewer bathrooms and more drains.

    1. Wukchumni

      What I think is a honey tangerine only fruited for the first time in 5 years, and there’s 15 of the sweetest little orbs imaginable on it.

      Citrus is probably the best bet here from an animals messing with you standpoint, they have no interest in fruit on the tree, and really want no part of the trees.

  14. jsn

    Those monstrous house clients come to architects with clippings of the signifiers that are important to them.

    They don’t hire one until they find a pastiche similar to pile of signifiers they want in someones’ marketing material.

    Private clients who actually want architecture are as rare and unexpected as good politicians.

  15. Mike

    RE: “A lost paradise of purity” [Standpoint].

    One thought regarding “sad” to describe this music (and probably the majority of minor-mode music in the world)— it could be helpful to appreciate this music more if it were described as “thought-provoking”- it is usual to think of slow minor key as inducing sadness because it is slow and can provoke thoughts of melancholy, but the first step is to produce thought. I often use minor key music to induce thoughtfulness and calm resolution of disturbing or jangling issues, memories, tc. without falling into depression or sadness. Of course, my individual take could be different…

  16. Jean

    This is why Kamala Harris was chosen by the Democrats despite my community rejecting her pic.twitter.com/JjgW8lexY5
    The hits just keep coming:

    Supreme Court May Finally Reverse Kamala Harris’s Attack on Free Speech

    “In 2015, Attorney General Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) demanded that two conservative nonprofit organizations, Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and the Thomas More Law Center (TMLC), hand over their donor lists. This demand threatened to reveal the identity of donors, potentially subjecting them to threats and harassment for supporting these groups. It also flew in the face of a 1958 Supreme Court decision upholding Americans’ right to support causes they believe in without government harassment.”

  17. Mark Gisleson

    ” I like Sirota a lot, but I think he’s getting a little caught up in the whirl.”

    Like Lambert I subscribe to Sirota but haven’t read anything from him in my mailbox for a while because he’s really been off since the so-called Left hammered him on Twitter this fall and winter. Frankly, the criticism was making him punchy and he loosed several regrettable tweets.

    We’re reading about how anti-union law firms are compiling dossiers on potential union members for their clients. I don’t think it strains credulity to assume neolib orgs are stirring up [family blog] on social media just to keep the left fighting with itself over tactics. If so, it worked on me.

    I’m off Twitter now, hopefully for good. As a result my heart is less heavy, and my house is much cleaner. But I still feel bad for Sirota, a good guy with decent reporting skills caught up in a [family blog] fight.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I think that’s really sensible. Obviously, “the discourse” shifted from “coup” to “insurrection” overnight because that is the term used in the articles of impeachment. I buy that the Capitol seizure was not an insurrection either, which is why we have consistently called it a “riot,” and the participants “rioters.”

      I do think that Trump did wrong to aim an obviously hopped up crowd at the Capitol, and I do think his “fighting words” incited them.* Although it’s not insurrection, I’m sure it’s not legal on some other grounds, and those are the grounds Trump should have been impeached on. (It’s also a bit disconcerting to see younger “left” Representatives jumping on the bandwagon, partly out of fear, but also, I am sure, to ingratiate themselves with party elders.)

      Simply to preserve some slight measure of whatever remaining institutional integrity we have, I would rather see Trump censured for what he did do, as opposed to being impeached for what he did not (censured as imposed to impeached again because of the timeline).

      NOTE * I should read the transcript. I would want to see if the “peaceful” parts read like lawyerly parsing, or whether they have the true Trumpian improvisational flair. If the latter, it’s more likely he meant them.

  18. LawnDart

    Matt Taibbi, a most excellent article kinda related to Biden Transition in the sense of the dominant separate but parallel realities a good 150-million Usains live in and why a politically independent news media needs to be resurrected:


    I very much appreciate Taibbi’s sentiment, but this article seems wishfull, and almost hopeful. Being a Hope and Change kinda guy (none and oh sh..) I suspect that things are going to get much, much worse in USA before they get better, perhaps beginning as soon as this weekend.

  19. Darthbobber

    The Times piece on Facebook and the insurrection/coup/banana/whatever.

    Oddly, or not, they diagnose an aspect of the problem but manage to make no mention of the most obvious piece of a solution. Clearly the phenomenon they describe won’t be dealt with by monitoring individuals, identifying bad actors, banning people here and there. Or by “fact-checking.”

    Regulation that prohibited the algorithmic self bubble-creation and self-siloing dynamic, and left interaction to proceed without the targeting secret sauce (for Fbook, Twitter, Google, et al, would obviously reduce this to more manageable levels. (It would be limited to bubbles knowingly created by people who explicitly thought to do that).

    Of course, the bubble-creating aspect is inextricable from the targeting aspect that is almost certainly the biggest money-earner by far in these business models. So doing anything about it would involve REALLY acting against the interests of Tech social media and search.

    It would of course also impinge on the interests of the political parties and consultants themselves, who make vast use of the exact same feature for their own purposes, as well as of Facebook et als’ commercial customers. (No, not us. We’re the product. The ones paying to be able to track, pigeonhole, and manipulate us.)

    And I can’t help commenting on this closing paragraph:
    “But the rewards are trivial compared with the costs: The influencers amass followers, enhance their reputations, solicit occasional donations and maybe sell a few T-shirts. The rest of us are left with democracy buckling under the weight of citizens living an alternate reality.”

    Well, the set of those reaping the rewards isn’t exactly the same as the set of those bearing the costs, now is it? Nor is the level of influence of the two sets. And from the perspective of those reaping the rewards (the companies themselves plus a host of satisfied customers), said rewards are by no means trivial, but lucrative indeed, in terms of both economic profit and influence maximization. And lets face it, for many of these people a broken or low-intensity democracy is not a problem at all, but the best of possible democracies.

    1. Carolinian

      All the alternate reality that’s fit to print, er, pixilate? Starting with the headline. See my Lauria link above for an explanation of what an insurrection is and isn’t.

      The rightie sites have unearthed a 2017 Pelosi tweet where she says

      “Our election was hijacked. There is no question”

      yet oddly she wasn’t accused of insurrection. Shorter Dems seens to be “it;s ok when we do it.” Not that the Republicans are particularly better of course. The NYT on the other hand is very bad–little more than a consent factory for the elites.


      1. Darthbobber

        Maybe because she wasn’t actually claiming Clinton won or demanding that everybody fight on and never concede. After all, Pelosi had already congratulated Trump on Wednesday, the day after the election, referring to him as President-elect Trump, congratulating him and his family, tossing in the usual platitude about praying for his success and suggesting that everybody could get together on that big infrastructure project he kept talking about during the campaign.

        The usually graceless Mrs. Clinton had also taken a break from manning the blame cannons that Wednesday morning to concede the election to Trump and suggest that he should be given the benefit of “an open mind and a chance to lead.”

        Even given the largely symbolic challenges attempted by some Democrats in 2001 (gavelled down by Al Gore, who got to preside over the electoral count that installed his opponent, 2005 (focused entirely on Ohio issues and not intended or expected to actually change Ohio’s votes) and 2017 (handful of House members led by Barbara Lee, unsupported by House democratic leadership or a single Senator).

        There remains a fairly large difference of degree between any of those antics (barely even noticed by most at the time, and regarded as inconsequential sideshows even by those paying attention) and what we saw from Trump and his allies this time around. A difference of degree sufficient that I’d be pretty tempted to say it adds up do a difference in kind.

        1. Carolinian

          I have to disagree. The Russiagate fantasy that persisted for years–probably still does–was constructed by the Clinton team and eagerly embraced by them after the election despite Hillary’s conceding. And it was also embraced by Pelosi which was the basis for that tweet. Here’s suggesting that they were really never sincere about cooperating with Trump and Hillary went on to blame her loss on everything but herself in her book.

          An interesting thought experiment is: what would have happened if Trump indeed had won the 2020 election and whether BLM and Antifa shock troops would have responded by scaling the White House fences rather than the walls of the Capitol and whether that would have been tagged an insurrection by the media or instead a legitimate protest against racism. In fact there were some Dem supporters before the vote who vowed that any Trump win would be viewed as illegitmate and not allowed to stand. When he almost did win, after the inaccurate polls, and the House almost fell to the Repubs they were dumbstruck. Our ruling class is very out of touch with the rest of the country.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Maybe because she wasn’t actually claiming Clinton won or demanding that everybody fight on and never concede.

          They didn’t need to; they had people for that (in the intelligence community, and the press. They also had the ability to deny the Trump administration professional services from their base in the PMC).

          I don’t think there’s any question that the liberal Democrats tried to delegitimize Trump’s election literally from “day one” (the famous meeting of the Clinton campaign staff the morning after, when they decided to blame Russia for their defeat). I don’t think there’s any question that through RussiaGate they attempted to delegitimize Trump as President (see Aaron Maté’s summing up the sorry history of the key document, the Steele Dossier).

          So now there’s blowback, tit for tat-style. Surprise!

          1. Darthbobber

            I don’t miss the point, but I was alive in 2016/17 as well as now. The democratic/ns apparatus reactions to that loss were bad enough, but the 2020/21 Trump/GOP production goes massively beyond that.
            I can see the similarities, but I can’t make them identical, or get them to anywhere in the near neighborhood of identical.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      >The influencers amass followers, enhance their reputations, solicit occasional donations and maybe sell a few T-shirts. The rest of us are left with democracy buckling under the weight of citizens living an alternate reality.

      The Times, meanwhile, instigates RussiaGate not only for clicks but for subscriptions. See also Maddow.

      But that’s COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. I guess when have enough institutional backing to have amassed an audience and real power, you’re no longer an “influencer,” but a “media figure” (?). Good to know.

  20. VietnamVet

    In two days it will be the 30th anniversary of the first invasion of Iraq during Operation Desert Storm. The start of the Forever Wars. I am watching “The Looming Tower” on Hulu. Entertaining drama of bureaucratic infighting. I’ve gotten to the truck bombing that destroyed the US Embassy in Kenya twenty-two years ago. But the show, like all the rest of media, all of the hierarchy; can’t add one and one together. The bombing was due to US troops stationed in Islam’s holy land, Saudi Arabia. Where troops and contractors are once again in-country. 30 years of chaos for two unmentionable reasons; war profiteering and propping up the Petrodollar.

    Like the motel mansions, privatization of government has bought glossy slick. But the blowback (ignored) is an endless war Air Force veteran deeply in debt shot dead and National Guard troops sleeping on the Capitol floor without cots. Denial of Intentional incompetence.

    The Biden/Harris Administration has shown no inclination to end the wars or build a national public health system to control the coronavirus pandemic/depression; to provide Americans with jobs, food, shelter or healthcare. Due to ever more money being transferred to the 10% professionals and trillions of digital dollars for the 0.1%; a failed second Presidency in a row is a guarantee.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > an endless war Air Force veteran deeply in debt shot dead

      The liberal Democrat model of sustaining the empire while supporting the troops — but no, not those troops, not the bad ones! — has probably persisted so long exactly because it’s so incoherent (and hence can be twisted to any purpose). I think an under-rated aspect of the Capitol seizure is domestic blowback (which has been remarkably long in coming).

      It’s the same thing with cops. The police are heroes, they will protect us — but no, those cops, not the bad ones! — is just as infantile.

      In fact, the empire damages everyone involved in it, including “us,” to the point of literal brain damage for the troops, exactly as militarized domestic policing does (lead poisoning; steroids).

      It’s too bad we can’t put the militarized into the reserve army of the unemployed, and pay them a stipend to go away never return to their professions. Hard to see how that could be worse than what we have.

  21. ambrit

    Zeitgeist watch, North American Deep South (NADS) version.
    The ‘word’ from the Nextdoor site, from State sources, is that Mississippi is out of vaccine now until the middle of February.
    See the note at the very end of the post.
    Alas: https://covidvaccine.umc.edu/
    It’s fubars all the way down.

  22. Glen

    And now for some belated Good News!

    In 2015, an appeal for good WORKED:

    I am a total sucker for good new stories, how people doing SOMETHING GOOD can achieve positive results, and here it is (put on your good headphones, and CRANK IT, these folks hit it out of the park!):

    Learn to Fly – Foo Fighters Rockin’1000 Official Video

    The people of Cesena, Italy wanted the FooFighters to pay a vist and this is how they asked. It worked.

    Can we use this as a model for how to get our government working for the people? My early 70’s Telecaster and a very rusty player stands at the ready!

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > In 2015, an appeal for good WORKED:

      That is truly neat. Not sure about the aerosols from singing en masse just now, though. I don’t think Zoom would substitute, either; the sheer physicality of the performances is important.

  23. Basil Pesto

    A bit of an anecdote from the antipodes.

    so I travelled home for Christmas for the first time since Feb, which was nice to be able to do without worrying about getting sick (not meaning to brag about it, just to point out that Australia’s accidental competence is something I feel very fortunate about and don’t take for granted). There was minimal political discussion at Christmas, but after I left just before New Years, my brother tells me Trumplord came up.

    By way of background, my Mum’s pretty plugged in to the loony right wing blogosphere. She used to watch Fox as entertainment but I think it became too moderate for her. I suspect she fancies herself as a free-thinking cynic but she’s anything but. Moreover she’s a generically middle class “I grew up poor but I’m not now so therefore every poor person should just stop being poor” kind of classist. The appeal of Trump is hard to discern, in no small part because he’s precisely the kind of nouveau riche vulgarian I recall her having scornfully mocked all her life. She’s also an arch Zionist racist, who seems to genuinely believe that a new Shoah is perpetually just around the corner.

    Anyway, at lunch the Trumpster came up and as my brother tells it, Mum started saying something like “just wait til January 6”. She had been claiming that the election was stolen and it was a matter of time before Trump’s second term was ratified. (She’s also been claiming that Hilary Clinton is “going to jail” any day now, for about 5 years. It was about 8-10 years ago that she asserted to me that Climate Change was ‘over’ based on some mild Murdoch press-driven leaked email story at the time. CC continues apace, of course, but I believe she’s still a denier. If she commented here they’d have to shut down the comments section!! too soon?) This triggered my sister (leaning generically liberal) and her husband, and probably my Dad as well. I don’t know exactly what they said but probably along the lines of “what the hell could possibly happen on January 6?”, “you don’t know what you’re talking about” etc. Then Jan 6 happened. The way I see it, they’re both wrong, and both right.

    Mum was right in that, by being plugged in to this corner of the internet, she knew something was going down on Jan 6 on the other side of the planet. On the other hand she was completely wrong in thinking that it would have any concrete, determinative
    impact, and the rest of the family right to be doubtful in that regard. The whole event was a comical farce of virtuoso unseriousness. Its long term historical consequences may well be important and intellectually honest and sound reflections on it (like Lambert’s) are wholly worthwhile. But the spectacle, to this non-ideological outsider, was just funny.

    People in comments here often rail unprovoked against ‘wokesterism’, and I get it. It’s bad. But I find the toxic echo chambers that have poisoned my mother’s mind far more worrisome. They’re similar insofar as they’re both intellectually, empirically and morally bereft. But ‘wokesterism’, such as it is, is just so manifestly, self-satirically silly that I find it very hard to take seriously as any kind of political threat (I might if I had a job in the academy, or entertainment). Those who take it to its most absurd extremes have no political future, except perhaps in the academy (and even then, only the departments which have very little real-world political sway). Those of my generation I think generally try to abide by the ‘don’t be an asshole’ principle, and just let the wokester ideologue minority do their thing on twitter. The moment their ideological excesses threaten to become concrete , I feel like the brakes would be put on because people understand intuitively that they are quite stupid. Maybe it’s different in the US though and I’m not appreciating that difference properly, or maybe I’m just being blithe. On the other hand, the more traditionally right wing ‘subculture’, or whatever you want to call it, I find far more disconcerting, even if this recent manifestation was ultimately pretty cartoonish. Their ideas are enduring and have broader appeal than public morality driven by post-modern whimsies.

  24. farmboy

    re AgWeb;corn usage-ethanol 40%, feed 40%, exports 20%.
    soybean usage-feed 70%, food 15%, biodiesel 5%, exports10%.
    wheat usage-domestic 50%, exports 50%. US produces about 40% of world wheat
    Exports are the tail waging the dog, domestic usage usually stable, miniscule by impact. Reporting of S&D by China is a huge wildcard, really unreliable. Both India and China stocks subject to large losses caused by spoilage. Prices runup and contracts get cancelled and rebooked at lower prices. Wheat prices have the biggest impact on inflation and 4th of July 2017 is the last big move.
    Marginal utility dominates commodities and value of the dollar v other commodities is the biggest variable. Argentina dock strikes, Russian export taxes, drought, all crucial to US producers, but THE biggest and only elephant in the room are the Chinese, who are they buying from and how much. The Chinese have deftly maneuvered through the Trump embargo by promising big purchase targets, but not following through.
    Tracking and predicting price movements has gotten very sophisticated with two basic approaches, 1) fundamentals (see above#) (the movie Trading Places, favorite Christmas movie) and 2) technical signals. In the 1700’s, candlestick charting was invented by a Japanese rice trader. WD Gann developed a numerical and astrological suite of tools in early 1900″s, don’t smirk…millionaires use technical analysis, billionaires use astrology, is a traders saying. Turtle Traders swallowed huge profits in the 1980’s. With today’s computing power, algorhythmic automatic trades make markets, but it’s still buyers and sellers. Having sophisticated tools and abilities is crucial for farmers to manage risk of commodity prices, interest rates, fuel prices, and relative currency values AND relate them to each other. And of course the politics of it all…Historically Bread prices stayed the same, but when prices went up for wheat, loaf size shrank.

  25. skippy

    Barry’s – “What is Wrong with These People?”

    From the basic principal about human minds constantly seeking patterns to inform them of their world they live in and as such survive, speculated evolutionary upgrade, one might think the information processed on the ground in a natural setting vs. what has occurred since the advent of glyphs, written language, print, radio [audio], TV [visual+audio], and now the advent of full immersion behaviorally targeted [advertising bucks] digital multi device information … wellie one could only wonder at the results of all that digital Bernays sauce jack hammering peoples innate evolutionary pattern seeking behavior and what might be the outcome of all that … ummm.

    It makes one ponder if some actually understand this stuff and play around with it for one reason or another, then others cotton on and use it to gain market share from the other mob and then once the ball gets rolling it gets a life of its own and the dial is ratcheted up regardless of the increasing results on its targeted audience and the social dysfunction that goes with it.

    I mean its not like in the old NC days myself pointed out the best child psychologists working for PR/Marketing firms for the big bucks whilst targeting kids as young as 3 years old and adjusted the tools as their minds developed to 5 years old … sorta like burning in soft ware …

    Keep it real Amfort … youngest son is back up with the old boys on his uncles property before school starts and with it his apprenticeship with Volvo CE.

    1. Lambert Strether

      > the best child psychologists working for PR/Marketing firms for the big bucks whilst targeting kids as young as 3 years old and adjusted the tools as their minds developed to 5 years old … sorta like burning in soft ware …

      Silly rabbit!

      1. skippy

        Amends in advance Lambert and only link to this as a bookend that squares the perspective you offered, from a similar time line, and with worrisome connotations to what has occurred of late.

        “The Diceman Cometh” (Entire Show) – Andrew Dice Clay (1989)


        The comedian is not the key aspect as its just a day job and hay markets … the aspect I would like to highlight is the audience and its response to the targeted and prepackaged embedded bias of its humor.

        I guess what I’m saying is stuff exists in the wild [such is humanity] and some have no dramas playing that for what ever reasons or outcomes.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Andrew Dice Clay

          Comes under the heading of “Don’t be a [glass bowl].”

          But you are correct in that just because something is funny doesn’t mean it isn’t menacing.

          (Was the horns dude schlock, or kitsch?)

          1. skippy

            Sigh … to think so much of the suffragette movement at the coal face was about cheap sugar and not lofty ideas and its effects on domestication … but marketed by men for a profit with the notion that it was a mans world ….

            Yet here we still ponder why modern [tm] economics – politics has anti social outcomes.

            Personally I view the Trump followers as I would any cult in defining itself above others due to the dint of belief alone when confronted with a reality that threatens it. That said third way dinos is a bit of a mixed bag with legacy baggage, Chicago school antics in geopolitics being the most egregious ….

            Whats a body to do old chum … I remember it all … sorry …

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