2:00PM Water Cooler 1/19/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Sadly, the state bird of Delaware, the Blue Hen, is not a distinct species.


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:

Vaccination reporting (I assume) drops over all regions, like reporting (I assume) over all regions, but I’m reeling at the scale of it, equal to Christmas. Musical interlude

Case count by United States region:

Still reeling.

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

Now Texas reporting drops, too.

Test positivity:

Still reeling here, too.

Nowhere near 3%, anywhere.


And here. 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


“Brayden Harrington, who bonded with Biden over stuttering, to appear in prime-time inauguration special” [CNN]. “Harrington, who went viral over the summer after talking about his bond with Biden in a video at the Democratic National Convention, said Biden’s inauguration will send a special message to kids — including those grappling with stuttering. It shows them ‘that they matter,’ he said. ‘It’s a huge part of our life because there’s a president being elected that has a speech issue.’ Harrington will be part of a segment introducing the President-elect’s remarks during the 90-minute ‘Celebrating America’ special airing on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and MSNBC, CNN has learned.” • 

“‘Celebrating America’ Inauguration Special With Demi Lovato, Justin Timberlake & More: How to Watch” [Billboard] and “Lady Gaga Set to Perform National Anthem at Biden-Harris Inauguration | Billboard News” [Billboard].

“The Latest: More Guard members removed from inauguration” [Associated Press]. “Ten additional U.S. Army National Guard members are being removed from the security mission for the presidential inauguration of Joe Biden, according to a senior U.S. intelligence official and a U.S. Army official briefed on the matter. The two officials spoke on condition of anonymity citing Pentagon regulations. Early Tuesday morning, the FBI sent a list of names to the National Guard Bureau who were identified as having ties to fringe right-wing groups or had posted extremist views. No active plots against Biden were found. The information was passed from the National Guard Bureau to the D.C. National Guard.”

Capitol Seizure

No wonder the DNC had to get her out of the debates:

And somehow, I don’t think she’s taking about Texas realtor Jenna Ryan….

Transition to Biden

UPDATE “McConnell, Schumer close in on power-sharing agreement in evenly divided Senate” [CNN]. “The top two Senate leaders are nearing a power-sharing agreement to hash out how the evenly divided chamber will operate, with Democrats in charge of setting the schedule but both parties likely to hold an equal number of seats on Senate committees, according to sources familiar with the talks. The negotiations between Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell have been built largely around how the Senate operated the last time the body was split 50-50: When George W. Bush initially became president in 2001. Final details are still being sorted out between the two leaders, sources said, and the two are expected to meet on Tuesday to discuss these issues. Similar to those rules, set in January 2001, Schumer and McConnell aides are discussing allowing bills and nominations to advance to the Senate floor even if they are tied during committee votes, something that could become common given that each party is expected to have the same number of seats on committees. Democrats will hold the chairmanships of the committees, giving them power to set the agenda, and Schumer will be granted the title of majority leader since Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will cast tiebreaking votes on the floor.” • Possibly Schumer has a Jim Jeffords scenario in mind? It’s hard to see who he could get to cross the aisle. Susan Collins? She would need incentives, after she clobbered her challenger. Mitt Romney?

“Biden’s Record-Breaking Cabinet Nominees, In One Chart” [FiveThirtyEight]. Handy chart:

“They say the next drone will be sent by a woman.” “We’re part of history!”

When they tell you who they are…

“[Power] is considered to have been a key figure in the Obama administration in persuading the president to intervene militarily in Libya.

“Blinken pledges ‘humility and confidence’ as secretary of State” [Politico]. “‘Humility and confidence should be the flip sides of America’s leadership coin,’ he said. “Humility because we have a great deal of work to do at home to enhance our standing abroad. And humility because most of the world’s problems are not about us, even as they affect us. Not one of the big challenges we face can be met by one country acting alone — even one as powerful as the U.S.’ Blinken, who has good relationships on both sides of the aisle, has not encountered much partisan resistance to his nomination. Indeed, a group of former foreign policy and national security officials — all Republicans who said they did not endorse Biden for president — urged the Republican chair Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho to confirm Blinken swiftly in a letter obtained by POLITICO.” • So there we are.

“Former Trump intel chief Coats introduces Biden nominee Haines at hearing” [The Hill]. “Former Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Dan Coats, who served under President Trump, on Tuesday introduced Avril Haines, President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee to serve as DNI, at her Senate confirmation hearing…. Coats, who served as DNI for Trump between 2017 and 2019, described Haines as an ‘exceptional choice,’ praising her stated goal of ‘bringing non-politicized truth to power and restoring trust and confidence in the intelligence community and the American public.'” More: “Coats left the role of DNI after clashing with Trump on multiple issues during his tenure, most notably over Trump’s comments at a 2018 press conference in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin, where Trump accepted Putin’s claims that Russia had not interfered in the 2016 presidential election. Coats, and much of the intelligence community, strongly pushed back after those remarks.” • The Steele Dossier being the ideal example of “non-politicized truth”….

“Joe Biden names top geneticist Eric Lander as science adviser” [Nature]. “US president-elect Joe Biden has chosen decorated geneticist Eric Lander as presidential science adviser and director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). In what would be a first for this position, if Lander is confirmed by the US Senate, he will serve as a member of Biden’s cabinet… Lander was a key leader of the Human Genome Project — the race to sequence the human genome, which ended in 2003 — and is president and founding director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He will be the first biologist to run OSTP…. One major question is what parts of science policy Lander and his office will be responsible for. Biden has already established a separate, high-level team to lead the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a team to drive forward his climate agenda. With COVID-19 and climate tasked to other groups, it remains to be seen what science issues OSTP will be able to take the lead on.”

“Senate Democrats make democracy reform first bill of new majority” [The Hill]. “‘Senate Democrats are committed to advancing real solutions and fighting to uphold the core tenets of our constitution, which is why we are announcing today that the first bill of the new Congress will be the For the People Act,’ Schumer said in a statement. The bill, which is endorsed by a wide swath of progressive and civil rights groups, includes, among other things, changes to voter registration requirements, more funding for election security, requirements for presidents and vice presidents to disclose their tax returns and new ethics rules for members of Congress. The bill would also require a code of ethics for the Supreme Court, boost public funding for presidential elections and require new disclosures for online advertising.” • Sounds like weak tea. Funding for “election security” should be zeroed out and replaced by a requirement for hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public.

Surely the political class generally:

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.

Housing: “November 2020 CoreLogic Single-Family Rent Index Rent Growth Exceeds Pre-Pandemic Rates” [Econintersect]. “The Single-Family Rent Index (SFRI) shows a national rent increase of 3.7% year over year, up from a 2.8% year-over-year increase in November 2019. Annual rent growth slowed in the early months of the pandemic – from February through June – but then steadily picked up in November, which was the highest annual growth since June 2016.”

* * *

Tech: “Apple Plans Upgraded MacBook Pros With Return of Magnetic Charging” [Bloomberg]. • Apple brings back the MagSafe connector? Maybe they want my business after all?

Tech: “A lightweight book aims a heavyweight punch at the digital advertising ecosystem” [Science]. “Many folks do not realize that the ads they see on their screens are sold through automated real-time auctions that resemble algorithmic trading in financial markets. Buyers bid for attention, and sellers offer eyeballs through which the attention is supplied. The market for online ads managed to grow to its current size because the underlying technology created standard ways in which attention is measured and sold. Attention has been “commoditized” in order for it to be easily traded. Those who shaped these platforms were inspired by financial markets, Hwang argues, and indeed—under the hood—the industry resembles a stock- or commodity-trading market. The ad-tech industry, he cautions, exhibits strong parallels to the mortgage-backed financial markets that caused the 2008 global financial crisis. Hwang describes what experts refer to as the ‘opacity’ problem, arguing that companies do not know exactly what they are getting for their ad spend and that they considerably overvalue online ads, just as the market overvalued mortgage-backed securities in the mid-2000s. The book is thin on supporting evidence, but there is indeed a growing academic literature that demonstrates the severity of the opacity problem and the degree to which digital advertising is overvalued (1–3). The opacity problem is exacerbated by the ‘subprime’ nature of attention, suggests Hwang. Over the past decade or so, the value of attention has deteriorated as a result of fatigue, ad blockers, and outright fraud in the ad-tech space. Combine these factors with companies that want to spend tons of money on a shiny new advertising medium, and you have a bubble waiting to burst.”

Tech: “Exclusive: Over 1,000 brands ran ads alongside election misinformation” [Axios]. “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… The report finds that advertisers are also inadvertently boosting sites that repeatedly publish conspiracies and misinformation.”

Tech: “Enter Sandbox: How Google is building an internet without cookies – and why publishers are concerned” [Press-Gazette]. “The “cookie-less web” is nothing less than a total restructuring of the internet, which will spell the end of digital advertising as we know it with obvious ramifications for online publishers too…. With cookies marked for extinction, the question now is: what will replace them? Enter Google Privacy Sandbox…. Google’s Privacy Sandbox will keep data on a user’s browser, rather than storing it on servers, and use application programming interfaces (APIs) to share data on users with advertisers. These will be limited by a ‘privacy budget’ capping the number of APIs that can be ‘called’ by a site. Each call to an API will reveal more about a user. ‘Websites can call APIs until those calls have revealed enough information to narrow a user down to a group sufficiently large enough to maintain anonymity’, said [Google Chrome engineering director Justin Schuh]. Any further attempts will be blocked, however. Google Privacy Sandbox is being phased in and is currently in developer testing. It is expected to be completed in 2022.” • This doesn’t sound evil. But it’s Google. So there’s a catch.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 61 Greed (previous close: 60 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 69 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 14 at 12:24pm.

Rapture Index: Closes up 1 on food supply. “Corn, wheat, and soybeans are at five-year highs” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 185. (Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing, so high is better.) You’d think there were Beast Government implications from the Biden Adminstration; apparently not.

The Biosphere

“Tracking, targeting, and conserving soil biodiversity” [Science]. “Nature conservation literature and policy instruments mainly focus on the impacts of human development and the benefits of nature conservation for oceans and aboveground terrestrial organisms (e.g., birds and plants) and processes (e.g., food production), but these efforts almost completely ignore the majority of terrestrial biodiversity that is unseen and living in the soil. Little is known about the conservation status of most soil organisms and the effects of nature conservation policies on soil systems. Yet like “canaries in the coal mine,” when soil organisms begin to disappear, ecosystems will soon start to underperform, potentially hindering their vital functions for humankind. Soil biodiversity and its ecosystem functions thus require explicit consideration when establishing nature protection priorities and policies and when designing new conservation areas.” • We really don’t know anything. And surely the more salient issue is carbon capture, not “nature conservation”?

Health Care

“Mutated strain of COVID-19 spreading quickly, tied to Kaiser, jail outbreaks” [East Bay Times]. ” A potentially more infectious COVID-19 variant that’s increasingly spreading throughout California is now “relatively common” in Santa Clara County, where it has contributed to the infamous Christmas Day outbreak in a Kaiser emergency room and multiple other outbreaks…. A hospital receptionist died from the Kaiser outbreak, which has been largely attributed to an employee making an unannounced visit to the ER to bring some holiday spirit. She wore an inflatable Christmas tree costume that may have spread the virus because it used power-circulated air.”

“Memory B Cells, Infection, and Vaccination” [Derek Lowe, “In the Pipeline,” Science]. “This new article, I have to say, is rather reassuring about the human immune response to the coronavirus…. [It goes] to a deeper level and looking at the actual memory B cells. Those, you may well recall or already know, are the ones that persist and stay on guard should the same antigens reappear. They can go on for decades as an inbuilt surveillance system, ready to expand and start the antibody production process again if a similar immunologic threat shows up again… The good news is that the ones from the six-month check showed both increased potency and an increased range of responses against various protein mutations. That includes many of the ones that are in the news these days, things like R346S, Q493R, and E484K. (As an aside, did anyone ever imagine that amino acid variant notation would creep into major news stories? Strange days). But while the one-month antibody samples were unable to recognize these and bind to them, the six-month ones were.” • Much more detail at the link. Lowe is always good at breaking down the concepts so that a layperson like me can understand them.

“Provider practices in Iowa lead to more c-sections, complications” [Bleeding Heartland]. “So what is causing Iowa’s high cesarean rate while at the same time its maternal mortality rate is increasing? It is well documented that the biggest risk factor for whether someone will have a c-section is the hospital where they will give birth. I take this a bit further and would say that while the hospital is a factor, ultimately the biggest risk is the provider and their practices. “You can pick a hospital with a low rate, but you don’t know if that individual provider is the one contributing to that,” says Dr. David Lagrew, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist based Orange County, California in this U.S News and World Report article.”

Police State Watch


Our Famously Free Press

“Fearing more violence, online platforms are cracking down on livestreams from Washington” [CNN]. “Facebook plans to block ‘the creation of any new Facebook events’near the White House, the US Capitol and any state capitol buildings through Inauguration Day…. [Gamers] DLive has since announced additional measures and said it’s blocking all livestreams from the Washington, DC, area on Inauguration Day.” • Wait. “Any”? “All”?

“Extremists exploit a loophole in social moderation: Podcasts” [Associated Press]. “Major social platforms have been cracking down on the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories in the leadup to the presidential election, and expanded their efforts in the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. But Apple and Google, among others, have left open a major loophole for this material: Podcasts…. Podcasts suffer from the same misinformation problem as other platforms, said Shane Creevy, head of editorial for Kinzen, a startup created by former Facebook and Twitter executives that offers a disinformation tracker to companies, including some that host or curate podcasts.” • A disinformation tracker… This will not end well.

“Sharon Begley, path-breaking science journalist who spun words into gold, dies at 64” [STAT]. “In the hours after Sharon died on Saturday at 64, due to complications of the cancer, her longtime friend and colleague Melinda Beck was unsure of what to do with herself and opened their college yearbook. “In her little entry, she wrote that she hoped to be a science journalist,” Beck said, a little after midnight. “What an understatement. It’s kind of like Louis Pasteur saying, ‘Gee, I’d like to be a biologist.'” • Begley wrote for STAT, and I always welcomed an article that began with her byline. Which I can’t say about many other publications these days.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“White women’s role in white supremacy, explained” [Vox (Re Silc)]. • See review of They Were Her Property at NC.

Class Warfare

“The Life in The Simpsons Is No Longer Attainable” [The Atlantic (VE)]. “The most famous dysfunctional family of 1990s television enjoyed, by today’s standards, an almost dreamily secure existence that now seems out of reach for all too many Americans. I refer, of course, to the Simpsons. Homer, a high-school graduate whose union job at the nuclear-power plant required little technical skill, supported a family of five. A home, a car, food, regular doctor’s appointments, and enough left over for plenty of beer at the local bar were all attainable on a single working-class salary. Bart might have had to find $1,000 for the family to go to England, but he didn’t have to worry that his parents would lose their home. This lifestyle was not fantastical in the slightest—nothing, for example, like the ridiculously large Manhattan apartments in Friends. On the contrary, the Simpsons used to be quite ordinary—they were a lot like my Michigan working-class family in the 1990s….. For many, a life of constant economic uncertainty—in which some of us are one emergency away from losing everything, no matter how much we work—is normal. Second jobs are no longer for extra cash; they are for survival. It wasn’t always this way. When The Simpsons first aired, few would have predicted that Americans would eventually find the family’s life out of reach. But for too many of us now, it is.” • Obviously, diversity is the answer to this.

“HR is not your friend, and other things I think you should know” [Rachel by the Bay, Writing]. “HR is not your friend. HR is there to support the company. If you are not the company, they are not going to be there to support you. HR boils down to paid witnesses in some cases. It changes it from a ‘you said, the boss said’ thing to two-on-one (or worse). They just pay attention and maybe give a sworn statement down the road if things turn truly nasty. Who else operates like that? Mall cops and security guards. They don’t have guns. They have phones and notepads. So, it’s really mall cops, security guards… and HR.”

“35 Percent of Men and 17 Percent of Women Masturbate While ‘Working From Home'” [Vice]. “[T]he fundamental takeaway here is this: everyone is horny, sex is perfectly natural, and as long as you’re not breaking the law or hurting anyone in the process, go forth. It’s been a hellish year and you probably deserve it.” • How sad that this privilege is not afforded to essential workers….

“A wristband that tells your boss if you are unhappy” [BBC]. • Presumably with a motion detector?

News of the Wired

“Big O Notation – explained as easily as possible” [That Computer Scientist]. “So, the question is, How do you rank an algorithm’s efficiency? The simple answer to that question is the Big O Notation. How does that work? Let me explain!”

“The Unsettling Truth About the ‘Mostly Harmless’ Hiker” [Wired]. • This is a sad story, well worth a read. (It’s also a story about how identifying people from online data isn’t necessarily accurate.)

“the tragedy of gemini” [maya.land]. “There’s something called the Eternal September, about how – well, should I be pretending to tell you from the position of someone who’d know? It happened the month after I was born. Every September before, college students with new network access would stream onto Usenet fora without ever having accustomed themselves to the etiquette. Things would get rowdy and stupid for a while. Then they would learn or get bored and things would quiet down again. That September, though, was more than just college students – America Online offered Usenet access to all its members. Ever after, the numbers would be dominated by those who had no manners, who didn’t know there was culture to learn. September continued forever.”

“Eolithism and Design” [Hans Otto Storm]. “Children, when they construct things in play, normally play after the eolithic fashion: a pointed board suggests the making of a boat, and if the toy, in process of construction, begins to look less and less like a boat, it can conveniently be turned into an airplane. Select the child who appears most ingenious in the making of this class of toys, present him with adequate tools and lumber, give him a simple plan which must, however, be adhered to until completion, and usually his ingenuity gives way to a disheartening dullness. Poor children usually do not have this kind of opportunity, and it is notorious that poor children make themselves the best playthings. They have to make them out of scraps, and the scraps constitute variety. They are eolithic craftsmen; it is not only that eolithic craftsmanship can get along without uniform material and plans – it is precisely the non-uni- formity of scraps and the absence of set plans which form the circumstances for its best development. One of the saddest spectacles in professional education is the routing into design channels – that is, into science, certain fields of rational scholarship, and particularly engineering – of good, immature eolithic craftsmen. The great designer of works who spent his boyhood building windmills is a thoroughly established myth, so that the boy who builds things out of scraps is urged to study engineering, only to find out, late and perhaps too late, that the ingenuity and fine economy which once captivated him are some- thing which has to be unlearned before he can do satisfactory work on large projects which involve design. So much more formidable is the stern discipline of design than the genial junk-picking of the eolithic craftsman.” • I’m not sure if Storm is a forgotten thinker, or a deservedly forgotten thinker.

“Local “Planning” Follies Part 1 – The state of play in land use planning” [it’s simpler than it looks]. “In Sacramento, private development interests have diligently sought opportunities for their personal profit. Meanwhile discovering what are the real costs or benefits of their proposals for the public at large remains difficult, or at least obscure. Governments in the region often have not been interested so much in refining and clarifying public ‘input’ to empower the electorate as they are in public ‘offput; that essentially keeps the public off their backs. This ‘offput’ has been as insignificant as omitting any discussion of a policy’s consequences so the public’s advice is based on whatever fantastic imaginings the spin-meisters or conventional wisdom can produce. Another common offput strategy has been concealing a proposal’s consequences in a blizzard of distracting information. Consider Sacramento County’s General Plan—a document required by State law produced ostensibly to guide land use planning. For Sacramento County it is as thick as a phone book (remember those?), and about as readable. The public can only guess what the mysterious ‘RD-5’ zoning means, really, as a priesthood of planners assures them that the plan is working for the public benefit without specifics or real knowledge of its consequences. The truth: such zoning schemes do not, and could never work (see Why Bother Planning? below), but none of that is clear, on the face of it. For contrast, consider Haussman’s 19th century plan to rebuild Paris. It consisted of six rather large pages. That’s six pages, not a phone book. And he got Paris!” • Lots of detail on how local governments really work. And “offput” is a great coinage!

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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 (Madarka):

Madarka writes: “A path in the botanical garden of Santo Domingo.” An inviting path indeed!

* * *

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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. Wukchumni

    I call upon President Biden and Vice President Harris to stop the Soviet-era habit (before any American President went to the old glory card, Brezhnev was sporting a hammer & sickle flag on his lapel) of wearing flag lapel pins.

    Everybody knows where you’re from, and very few other Presidents, PM’s and the like around the world do this because it’s hopelessly jingoistic and looks stupid.

    How debased has the practice gotten?

    NFL halftime show ex-players & coaches are all wearing one now, pathetic!

    Your fear of course will be the proles reading into things (‘what happened, I thought Joe was patriotic! this isn’t who I voted for!’)

    Ease into it, wearing a flag lapel pin for the first week, and then miss a day every week, increasing the omission accomplished eventually.

    1. Darius

      True to form, Obama got bullied into wearing it by the Republicans. He was constitutionally incapable of telling the Republicans to f#$% themselves.

      1. Pat

        Perhaps by saying “I refuse to wear a pin made in China pretending to honor the flag of the United States.”

        Oh, wait, that was another group he couldn’t annoy – the people who wanted everything built somewhere else because Americans expect to get paid.

        1. Wukchumni

          Leader fashions come and go, no dictator currently worth their salt would be seen dead or alive in a pair of baggy 1930’s tyrant horse riding pants, as was the custom.

    2. fresno dan

      January 19, 2021 at 2:17 pm

      If I wore a Fresno flag pin (really, there is such a thing) in the presence of lucid humans, they would have me committed, as it would be irrefutable evidence of having a mental defect.
      And if wearing a pin is good, wouldn’t wearing a shirt and pants of the American flag be better???
      Unfortunately, I can’t find a clip from Clint Eastwood’s Bronco Billy of the tent made out of American flags, which I wanted to add because I just really like that movie, and I think it does say something about what the American flag really means

      1. Wukchumni

        Fresno’s flag underwhelmed me, and if forced upon my lapel, i’d wear it upside down as a symbol of distress, not that anybody would ever know.

      2. lyman alpha blob

        …wouldn’t wearing a shirt and pants of the American flag be better???

        President Camacho seconds that!

        With the presidential inauguration seemingly having turned into a Super Bowl halftime show (restoring dignity to the office!) how long will it be before the above clip looks more documentary than satire?

        1. ambrit

          With all the “muscle” on the streets of DC, it will look much like one of the old Soviet Era May Day parades in front of the Kremlin.

        2. Procopius

          I haven’t looked it up, so I may be violating site policy (I sure hope not) but my memory from the Army of how the American Flag is supposed to be treated is that making a shirt, and especially pants, from one is considered desecration. Not nice. On the same level as burning an American Flag in a protest. It doesn’t actually bother me, but I would think the 3 Precenters, Oathkeepers, and Proud Boys would care.

    3. The Rev Kev

      Noted the same myself over the years. It seems to be a part of a uniform now and I wonder how many people have an American flag flying from home not because they want to but because it is expected.

    4. posaunist

      It has also become customary for the president to salute military personnel (or return their salutes). This was started by Ronald Reagan, but is not considered proper since the president is a civilian.

      1. The Rev Kev

        But the President is also the Commander-in-Chief. That means that he is in the line of command of all soldiers, sailors & marines. I think that Reagan may have been right here.

        1. Robert

          I believe Reagan asked an advisor if it would be proper to return the salutes of uniformed service members. He knew that it was improper to salute if not wearing a cap. The advisor told him, “You’re the president, you can do whatever you want!”
          Also, I think the president is considered the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces only when Congress has declared war on an enemy state.

          1. Procopius

            No, the President is always the Commander in Chief of the armed forces, in peace and war. He’s the top of the Chain of Command (the Joint Chiefs of Staff are not in the Chain of Command). My complaint is, he’s not the Commander in Chief of civilians, who are not supposed to have a commander. Since I am retired, he is not MY Commander in Chief, unless I am called back to active duty, which, at my age, is not likely to happen.

    5. eg

      The Canadian version of this lapel obligation is the poppy worn for Remembrance Day — fortunately it is only an issue for the early part of November.

  2. Cuibono

    ‘Surely the political class generally:”
    yes, but I think the democrats prefer to eat their human flesh cooked and served at brunch, not raw.

  3. dcblogger

    All the bridges leading into DC are closed today and tomorrow. Not a big deal for Virginia, but here east of the Anacostia it cuts us off from all the hospitals except, the worst one. The United Medical Center is always over crowded, even before covid. I understand why the Pennsylvania Ave bridge is closed, but there is no occasion to cut off the Benning Road bridge. Just another example of how the elite feels no hesitation in putting the life of the poor at risk.

    1. dcblogger

      correction, bridges over the Anacostia have been opened to local traffic, which presumably includes ambulances.

  4. NotTimothyGeithner


    He’s running.

    Re: The Simpsons lifestyle.

    The core group of writers were essentially real life versions of LIsa who wound up at Harvard. My long held suspicion is the decline of the show was by writers who were once real life versions of Lisa being replaced with people like Pete Buttigieg. Al Gore’s daughter wrote for the second stint of Futurama which was terrible, like The Simpsons moving from satire to parody.

    Also, I would like to note Homer belonged to a union and even became union president.

  5. Chad

    Without exploring the issue closely, Google’s privacy sandbox sounds EXTREMELY evil…

    1. There is no inherent limit to the size of apis
    2. And browser that wants to use the internet would have to comply with Google’s demands
    3. There is no actual way to prove that your data is actually anonymous, so you have to take Google’s word that you aren’t being tracked, and publishers who violate that would blame Google “they said it was compliant” while Google would blame publishers “they tricked the system” thus attempting to avoid and limit liability.
    4. If Google is deciding the limits on the data someone can grab, then they can decide to grab all data at will. I doubt this can be strictly limited to browser data

    5. So uh…lets say Google manages to get most of the internet onto it’s infrastructure. Then Google can’t be broken up. Or what if it goes bankrupt or…and in serious here, just one day decides to abandon the project. I mean they’ve never done that before, but you never know

    1. Skip Intro

      I concur. It sounded to me like Google arrogated the right to all the personal data it mines from your browsing, forms, gmail, etc. to itself implicitly, while explicitly making itself both the seller and the marketplace for that data, opaquely filtered and ready for monetized access by advertisers or anyone else interested in you. I’m sure Google’s own software will also restrict itself. I guess the name Surveillance Sandbox, despite aptness and alliteration, did not test well.

      1. chuck roast

        Google, schmoogle…our privacy is totally screwed in any case.

        After a 40 year absence, I recently took up permanent residence in my old seaside town. Today I started searching around for a GP so I could get a “wellness” check…apparently “physicals” are a thing of the distant past. My preference is to find a woman MD because IMO a woman is more likely to listen to my health monologue and less likely to be thinking about her golf handicap.

        So, I locate a woman MD on a neighboring island who is taking new patients. The staffer asks for my name and DOB. I give her my name and DOB, and she tells me that my name and DOB are already in the “system.” They have no other info on me, but they do have my name and DOB. Of course all I could do is laugh…there is no escape my friends…no escape.

      2. Nancygrew

        Notice how Google shows everyone’s pictures in Google images with the notice that observing copyright is the responsibility of the viewer? Fine, that means we can use any picture from Google Street view, or Google earth, with their copyright notice prominently displayed and the tag line, “observing copyright is the responsibility of the viewer?”

        Use DuckDuckGo, it anonymizes your google searches.

    1. Cuibono

      too easy to cover up. might necessitate injecting into the forehead, and that sounds unpleasant. How about just making sure that the whole process turns you into a more docile consumer?

  6. Carla

    Lambert: “Possibly Schumer has a Jim Jeffords scenario in mind? It’s hard to see who he could get to cross the aisle. Susan Collins? She would need incentives, after she clobbered her challenger. Mitt Romney?”

    Given Joe Manchin, Schumer could need both Collins and Romney.

    1. WJ

      But since Republicans are mostly Putin-loving fascist domestic terrorists, why not simply take advantage of Kamala Harris as tie-breaking vote, invoke the nuclear option, and ram through a bunch of popular legislation that will materially help ordinary Americans and by doing so Save Our Democracy?

        1. Arizona Slim

          I can’t help thinking that there’s going to be some world-class heckling during his inauguration. I mean, come on. ACA is copied and pasted from a Heritage Foundation proposal and the public option is like a sparkle pony that keeps on disappearing.

          1. ambrit

            As for heckling; I wonder how far away the “free speech zones” will be from the steps of the Capitol Building. (Riffing on an old joke; we should start calling it the Capital Building?)
            I echo Lambert’s observation of the technical aspects of visual meme generation and will be checking out the angles and width of field of the visual presentations of the event.

    2. a different chris

      I predicted Manchin would do a Jim Jeffries. He has such power now that maybe he won’t, but still wouldn’t be surprised if

      1) things quieted down in a few months, helped by the always “reaching across the aisle” feckless spineless Dems
      2) he got basically matching seniority as an R.

      Won’t happen if the seeming groundswell of disgust for the Republican Party is actually real (I have no idea) as he is a politician after all. But is it real?

      1. LibrarianGuy

        An anecdotal incident viz current disgust for Pres. Trump and Republicans–

        My father is an 86 year old lifelong (R), and pretty noticeably racist (including anti-Semitic though he luvvvvs him some Israel ‘coz of how they kill those Muslims) . . . I’ve tried to have a relationship with him knowing that he is not long for this earth, & we didn’t talk for many years from my late teens to mid-20s. Even my very (former, no longer young) yuppie, upward-striving Dem. establishment sister had to tell him to STFU when he was spouting Trumpist bile in front of her teen daughter 3-4 years back, and they are close . . .

        So catching up with him on a long drive today, and he said he’s DONE with Trump, looking forward to his being gone. He said T. targeting Pence for not violating the Constitution & putting him in danger was too much for him. He added that he thinks Trump will have “no political future” in 2024. Only anecdotal, I know, but some people with a smidgen of rationality left will abandon that sinking ship. At the very least, my Florida-dwelling dad may (?) not vote for Rick Scott and similar types, the party will split between semi-rationalists and the QAnon cultists, I would think.

  7. Wukchumni

    BananaCoin is now bid up to $75k, don’t miss out on a strictly limited edition of 1.


    By the way, here’s the backstory on BananaCoin….

    Bureau of Engraving & Printing employee Satoshi Nakamoto sat down one afternoon in 2004 to a repast of what was the King’s favorite, a fried peanut butter & banana sandwich, affixed the Del Monte seal to his work clothes, and then it stuck to a sheet of 32x $20 Federal Reserve Notes in the first of 3 processes of printing them.

    At this late stage in his term, Fed Chief Jerome Powell has expressed interest in running the country on a BananaCoin basis, each note costing around 15 Cents to print, with an additional 38 Cents to acquire a Del Monte seal from the source. ‘It sure beats relying on China & Japan to fake-buy US Treasuries’ he related.

  8. Mark Gisleson

    Forgive me for being anecdotal but today’s Water Cooler justifies my decision to revisit morning drinking as a thing. Also gave me delusions of trying out for the men’s Olympic curling team as I broomed the new snow off the sidewalk.

    I have other excuses, but I think those are sufficient.

        1. ambrit

          I’d imagine that after watching the Biden Investiture, SWMBO will happily join in the “Self Medication” protocol.

            1. The Rev Kev

              How about you have to drink a glass of beer every time that you see a camouflaged soldier with a rifle, shot of whiskey if you see a police sniper on a rooftop and a glass of wine if a TV commentator is wearing an American flag lapel pin.

              1. ambrit

                That amount of “mixing of the drinks” will be generating some seismically measurable hangovers Thursday.

              2. fresno dan

                The Rev Kev
                January 19, 2021 at 6:52 pm

                If the TV cameras begin panning the area 5 minutes before it starts, death by alcohol poisoning within 3 minutes.

            2. Jen

              kill the bottle and stop watching if Biden refers to the Harris administration in any way shape or form.

        2. Mark Gisleson

          As a former blogger from a much much lower tier (the alphabet having been exhausted by the time they got to me), my respect for the proprietor greatly exceeds my usual compulsion to tweak those in power (and at any level the power of the blogosphere is less than one full bitcoin in mass media parlance).

          More snow has arrived, my new corn broom beckons (and as I’ve had more than few I must admit that so far as corn brooms go, this one is above average).

  9. mle

    “…the boy who builds things out of scraps is urged to study engineering, only to find out, late and perhaps too late, that the ingenuity and fine economy which once captivated him are some- thing which has to be unlearned before he can do satisfactory work on large projects which involve design. So much more formidable is the stern discipline of design than the genial junk-picking of the eolithic craftsman.” Lambert: I’m not sure if Storm is a forgotten thinker, or a deservedly forgotten thinker.

    As it happens, I’m reading Anti-Fragility at the moment. That Taleb would agree with the useful (especially if one is looking for “innovation”) distinction drawn by Storm is an argument for not forgetting.

    1. LifelongLib

      A world in which only engineers make things, only English majors read novels, only astronomers notice the stars…we’re pretty far down that road already…

  10. Amfortas the hippie

    get ready to defend the free speech rights of nazis, again:


    to my knowledge, yelling “i’m gonna kill ya” at a congressperson has never been regarded as Protected Speech.
    I predict that whatever algorithm driven speech codes that come out of the back end of this will dampen alternative economics and the Left more than it will ever effect the rabid right.
    that said, came across a purported Q thing wherein it’s OK…because biden has been arrested, and they’re switching his face with trump, so that when “biden” puts his hand on the bible, it will really be trump…so four more years!
    it’s instructive that it’s almost impossible to determine when someone is trolling the Q-verse.
    and “Eolithism” sounds a lot like what i do with all that junk i accumulate from the dump/side of the road.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        oh, i did, lol.
        the house builds itself.
        the materials guide the construction.
        very Tao.
        the telephone poles are the clearest example…per my cousin, who does the professional building for a living.
        i cut them at 10 foot or whatever, sink them in the ground at 2-3′(depending on hardpan). rafters and framing next…but the circumference at the top of each pole is different, so you can’t measure and square like you would with uniform lumber…instead, you eyeball everything smaller than your roof tin or rafter material, so it ends up fitting.(“measuring” entailed laying one’s rafter on the ground to determine where the next pole went)
        hard to describe…easier to show…i should have filmed the process. Cousin was mystified and dismissive and frustrated the whole time….but in the end admitted that it works, and we ended up with super sturdy structures that would take a dozer to dismantle. Function over Form…and I like the finished product, aesthetically: organic…growing up out of the ground.
        were i in the city, the zoning/permit people would have kittens.

  11. Sardonia

    “The Simpsons” isn’t economically inaccurate. The national average salary for a nuclear plant safety inspector is $69,700, and Springfield is the very definition of average – maybe a bit below, with its perpetual Tire Fire.

    And in 31 years, they’ve driven the same 2 cars, and never replaced their couch. Their kids never outgrow their clothes (in fact, they’ve worn the exact same ones for 31 years).

    And a beer at Moe’s? If one Duff costs more than $1.50 from the tap, Moe is marking it up 300%.

    Maggie’s gonna need some serious braces one day though….

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      This is the point of the article. Episodes revolved around the cost of the vet bill for the dog, but episodes where the kids needed new clothes because they outgrew them the Simpsons had the money. The Simpsons have a dental plan. They had to strike. The dental plan didn’t come from the heart of Mr. Burns or any Henry Ford make believe about paying workers.

      Springfield has a small centralized population. Its not the bedroom community nightmare of much of modern America either. It doesn’t need an Elon Musk type “mass transit” system like a monorail.

      My dad’s father was a handyman, house painter, milkman, and even had a real estate license. And my grandmother was besides being an awful human being was homebound. Yet at no point did my dad or his sisters ever want for clothes they needed, school supplies, and so forth. The only reason my dad couldn’t swing Harvard was he only had enough scholarship money and assistance to cover half when his dad died and he needed to take care of the family. He had to settle for Boston College. No, he doesn’t know Ed Markey, but he did know Tim Russert (we never tuned in to see MTP growing up) and knew Bob Ryan. Its not that terribly small a school. The original Simpson writers are younger than my dad, but they grew up in a world much more like this, a bunch of Taxachussetts pinkos.

      To a certain extent, nothing for the MOTUs would change if we removed much of the parasitical financial arrangements we have from healthcare to just fees for school.

      I have a theory that the enduring popularity of “The Office” is linked to the fantasy of the job security presented by the show.

  12. BBC Vice

    “….masturbate while working from home.” and “Wristband that tells your boss…” Should be combined into a single post?

  13. Louis Fyne

    —Sandbox This doesn’t sound evil. But it’s Google. So there’s a catch. —

    the tech to track you/your browser without cookies is old. But now CPU power and cloud storage costs are so low that it’s a no-brainer to use non-cookie methods to track browsers.

    check it out yourself… https://coveryourtracks.eff.org/

  14. Wukchumni

    Not another employment relief jerk from home story…
    “35 Percent of Men and 17 Percent of Women Masturbate While ‘Working From Home’” [Vice]. “[T]he fundamental takeaway here is this: everyone is horny, sex is perfectly natural, and as long as you’re not breaking the law or hurting anyone in the process, go forth. It’s been a hellish year and you probably deserve it.” • How sad that this privilege is not afforded to essential workers….

  15. Rick

    I was active in the Usenet world from 1983 until the early 2000s. The pre-monetization online world (Usenet and early WWW) was a quite different experience than the profit seeking, AI driven social media of today.

    In spending a few minutes I found only fragmentary archives available, especially for before 2000.

  16. fresno dan

    Marianne Williamson

    FDR said we must take a stand against “dictatorship by mob rule and the overprivileged alike.” His words are true today. Economic tyrants who fly to DC in private jets & enter the capitol building politely can be as are much, much, MUCH MORE dangerous to our democracy as rioters in MAGA hats who storm it.

    There, fixed it for ya

    1. rowlf

      I guess we were lucky there were no clever protesters that either disguised themselves as lobbyists or Ukrainians for warm and welcome entry.

      What ever happened to the impish prankster tendency in the US?

  17. urblintz

    and the hits keep on coming!

    “Biden Lifts Health Care Plan From Insurance Lobbyists”

    President-elect Joe Biden’s new COVID relief plan does not adopt existing Democratic legislation to expand government sponsored medical coverage nor does it propose a promised public health insurance option. Instead, it adopts proposals from health insurance lobbying groups’ recent letter to lawmakers demanding lucrative new subsidies for insurance companies, at a moment when those corporations have recorded record profits as millions lose coverage and many face claims denials.


    call me unsurprised…

    1. Massinissa

      I mean, that’s basically what Obama did with Romneycare, er I mean Obamacare. Clearly Joe has learned from the best!

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      This is why I think doing something like forcing a vote on a public option would have been much more beneficial. We already know Biden and most Team Blue types could care less about healthcare other than missing brunch. Biden is already lowering the bar.

      1. Hepativore

        I am not looking forward to Biden reinstating the individual mandate tax penalty like he apparently wants to do. Getting rid of it was one of the few good things Trump did.

        Why should people like me be penalized for not purchasing a plan that we can barely afford, hardly covers anything, and has a deductible that makes it practically useless for most things? The Cigna bronze plan where I work has a deductible of $6,000 and that is the only one that most of us can realistically afford on what we are paid.

        Also, I heard that health insurers are using the pandemic as an excuse to raise premiums and deductibles even more this year.

        1. MayLee

          The individual mandate forces the uninsured with income below rich onto Medicaide, or Medi-Cal in California. plus all expenses, are tallied up and clawedback from Joe Sixpack’s estate postmortem.
          Medi-Cal, and many other state Medicaid programs include a ‘claw-back’ provision for recovery of costs incurred by the state, including a premium, which can be over $1,000 per month, to provide medical care. While there is much variation in particulars from one state to another, the bottom line is these costs include a monthly ‘administrative fee.’

          The ‘claw-back’ mechanism functions via the state placing ‘liens’ on individual assets at the point the Medicaid recipient reaches age 55, then recovers the money at the point the Medicaid recipient dies by ‘seizing’ the money from the estate.

          1. howseth

            Note: MediCal will not claw-back your assets/estate if you still have a living spouse. I just got a letter from MediCal last week stating that.

    3. petal

      This got me to go back tonight and look at what I wrote after attending Biden’s town hall here back in August 2019. Thanks. There was BidenCare where people could buy into medicare or keep their awesome union-backed or employer plan(“you like your plan you can keep it!”), it would lower deductibles, access access access, bring in panels to set drug costs so pharma can make a healthy profit while not ripping off the public(haha yeah I know, right?), and lots of swings at M4A and how it would cause more rural hospitals to close. Ugh reading that write-up again makes me feel like I need a shower. Yuck. In the time that has passed, I had blocked out just how used car salesman sleazy yet physically and mentally frail the guy was in person. Am I surprised by this(what you posted)? Nope. Not at all. Expected really. And this is only the beginning.

  18. DJG

    White Women’s Role in White Supremacy. Indeed it is interesting. One must accept some of the underlying assertions, though.

    These sentences stood out to me: >> Overall, about 20 percent of white Americans of all genders “feel a sense of discontent” over the status of white people in society, Darby writes in Sisters in Hate, drawing on the work of political scientist Ashley Jardina. And white women are actually more likely than white men to hold “exclusionary views about what it means to be American, preferring boundaries around the nation’s identity that maintain it in their image.”

    Anu Partanen, in her book The Nordic Theory of Everything, pointed out how intensely her new U.S. female friends were searching for a man who was a “good provider.” Economic insecurity means that most Americans don’t marry across class. When was the last time you met a woman lawyer married to a male plumber? Exclusion is built into the identity.

    This means that any class analysis indicates that some of the portrayal of white woman as victims is in bad faith. At the same time, you have deep-seated Republican Virtue (which goes back to the earliest days of the Republic) limiting women’s roles, which may mean more insecurity about one’s identity.

    This also indicates that the women on the right likely also are engaged in Poujadism, as discussed earlier today in the article about the class makeup of the putschists.

    But the desire to self-exonerate and self-inoculate is intense in the U S of A. Think of how long Hillary Clinton has been doing the dog&pony&victim show.

    A fascinating article nonetheless. I recommend.

  19. Wukchumni

    We have kind of a neo-Oswald Mosley in our midst, the only way to put him out of our misery is to impeach him.

    In a farewell address expected to be posted online at 4 p.m., Trump will tout his record as president and declare that “the movement we started is only just beginning,” (WaPo)

    1. Carolinian

      So the solution to this “threat to democracy” is to cancel democracy? Turley says an impeachment trial of soon to be private citizen Trump is unconstitutional and even if a trial is held it’s dubious that they would get the 2/3 necessary to bar him from future (federal only) office. It would more likely be excuse for another Nancy “I’m ready for my closeup now Mr. DeMille” moment. She is something.

      Let’s just forget about Trump and her too. The more attention you give him–good or bad–the more he thrives.

      1. Wukchumni

        Nancy will be walking the Planck sooner perhaps later and really isn’t going anywhere, but it is imperative we impeach Trump, lest Perónitis set in.

  20. Pelham

    Re the podcast loophole: Thank goodness there is one.

    Relatedly, I wonder what would happen if some entrepreneur set up a social network dedicated exclusively to conspiracy theories. I’m sure it would be tough to find a host, but let’s say one was found. Once the terms of service were clearly stated — only as yet unsupported or only semi-supported conspiracy theories and discussions allowed but no calls to arms — what could be the objection? And potentially it’s a great business model.

  21. cocomaan

    Good article I came across giving perspective on terrorism movements and what we consider to be “historic” events:


    In a single eighteen-month period during 1971 and 1972 the FBI counted an amazing 2,500 bombings on American soil, almost five a day. Because they were typically detonated late at night, few caused serious injury, leading to a kind of grudging public acceptance. The deadliest underground attack of the decade, in fact, killed all of four people, in the January 1975 bombing of a Wall Street restaurant. News accounts rarely carried any expression or indication of public outrage.

    2,500 bombings today would cause such an upheaval of panic that it would be off the charts.

    1. Sharron

      About 1980 a disgruntled high school student, at a very exclusive school I worked at in Dallas, planted a pipe bomb in the cafeteria. Amazingly, no students were badly injured when it blew up in the trash can as they emptied their lunch trays. One student did have some permanent hearing loss. The principal didn’t report it to the FBI as he didn’t want the media to know about it. The FBI found out anyway and he was in hot water for a while. The student left and went to a private school. It was scary and exciting, but no one was undone by it.

  22. Tom Stone

    Am I the only one that noticed Xavier Basura is going to be head of HHS?
    He’s not someone Biden would be familiar with , however he is someone Kamala Harris would be more than comfortable with…
    Why the heck are so many people underestimating Harris?
    She went from 1.7% approval in her home state to VP in a matter of months. that is not an easy thing to do.
    If McConnell and Schumer think they will be in control when she takes over the offal orifice they are going to get a rude wake up call.

  23. Massinissa

    Er, I sort of hate to ask this, but uh, can someone explain to me what exactly Otto Von Storm was talking about? I can’t make heads or tails of it.

    1. ambrit

      With a name like that, what’s to not understand?
      Now, if he used the avatar Otto Von Doom, we aging Marvel kiddies (the comic book generation,) would all know what to expect from the get go. [And yes, the presumptive Veep does lend herself to comic book level parody. Kamala ‘Kameleon Girl’ Harris.]

    2. Greg

      I read it through, but i can’t promise I’ve got this right. My read is that he is making an argument for keeping a place for artful assembly of found objects and craftsmanship in general, under what he prrceives to be a culture of growing uniformity in design processes. Eoliths are archaeological artifacts, a stone shaped a little to function as a tool.

      Interestingly, given he was writing in 1953, he proposes that a fixation on uniformity of materials in scientific design (ie concrete or precisely milled timber or pure plastic beads) will eventually result in a demand for uniformity of parts and a consequent reduction in the diversity of products available. Which i think we could say has come to pass with the age of globalisation and the modular manufacturing trend. And not only do we have fewer real variants in products(although so many choices of colour and brand), the choices we do have are all a bit rubbish.

    1. Milton

      I meant to add if this practice is common or only when the subject matter is of an embarrassing nature.

  24. lyman alpha blob

    RE: “A lightweight book aims a heavyweight punch at the digital advertising ecosystem” [Science]

    Glad that someone is finally noticing at least. The fact that what are essentially ad agencies in google and FB have the outsized political, social and economic clout that they do ought to make it obvious that what they are selling is grossly overpriced. If their ads were really so superior, you’d think it would be the advertisers who saw their fortunes rise dramatically, not the other way around.

    To be fair, that argument can be used for pretty much any corporate behemoth, but these ad agencies have even outpaced the giant corporations who actually make things and used to be the main economic and political, if not social drivers.

  25. The Rev Kev

    “35 Percent of Men and 17 Percent of Women Masturbate While ‘Working From Home’’

    Considering the question, I am going to assume that 35 percent of men and 17 percent of women are able to type with only one hand. And online sex? I guess that this is a case of we see who is Zooming who.

    1. Mark Gisleson

      “One-handed typing” is an old and (I thought) well known euphemism for self-indulgent writing.

  26. The Rev Kev

    ‘Stacey Abrams
    Excellent decision – @SamanthaJPower possesses the mind and heart to show the world again who we can be.’

    Considering her track record, that is exactly what the world is afraid of. Apparently Stacey Abrams does not do irony.

    1. rowlf

      Well… the voter purge laws were passed by modern Democrats in Georgia so maybe Ms. Abrams has picked a reality she can live comfortably in.

  27. Lemmy Caution

    I’ve heard of someone being a hands-on manager but this is ridiculous.

    And the next time a participant pipes up with a comment about needing to get a grip on the situation, I’m gonna be more than a bit suspicious.

    But the moment someone says they think they’ve put their finger on the problem, I’m leaving the meeting.

    In case you’re wondering, I’ll be in my bunk.

  28. Rodeo Clownfish

    “Sadly, the state bird of Delaware, the Blue Hen, is not a distinct species.”

    I believe the red junglefowl, native to southeast Asia, is the wild ancestor of domesticated chickens worldwide.

  29. fresno dan

    “The Unsettling Truth About the ‘Mostly Harmless’ Hiker” [Wired]. • This is a sad story, well worth a read. (It’s also a story about how identifying people from online data isn’t necessarily accurate.)

    I read the original story however long ago it was – pure serendipity that I came across the conclusion here. I know I had theories and hopes for some kind of profound message, lesson, or moral of the story. But the truth is most things are rather ordinary.

  30. Calypso Facto

    DLive has since announced additional measures and said it’s blocking all livestreams from the Washington, DC, area on Inauguration Day.” • Wait. “Any”? “All”?

    It’s called geofencing and it’s relatively commonly baked into any platform that spans multiple countries (geofencing content to enforce availability windows for media companies is a big business). They’ll define a polygon using latitude/longitude coordinates within the administration layer of the platform and restrict livestream uploads within the polygon on that day. Same reason Netflix works differently (or not at all) in certain countries.

    In the US geofencing is mostly also used for targeted sms updates (Amber, weather alert) and smartphone shopping apps that rely on couponing within specific stores.

  31. allan

    Interior Secretary seizes control, grants revoked grazing permit to Hammond Ranches [Western Watersheds Project]

    BURNS, Ore. – Outgoing Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt today used his last moments of authority to issue grazing permits to Hammond Ranches, Inc., the same permit that had been revoked by Oregon Bureau of Land Management in 2014. Dwight and Steven Hammond were imprisoned in 2016 for setting fire to federal public lands to remove native trees and shrubs to increase livestock forage. Both were released from prison three years into five-year sentences by a pardon from President Trump in 2018. …

    The grazing permit governs the leasing of more than 26,000 acres of public lands neighboring Malheur National Wildlife Refuge for cattle grazing, on the Mud Creek, Hammond, Hammond FFR, and Hardie Summer allotments, including portions of the Bridge Creek Wilderness Study Area. …

    The grazing permit was also illegally re-issued by Secretary Ryan Zinke on his last day in office, January 2, 2019, in a decision overturned by a federal judge in December 2019.

    Doing it this way, Bernhardt made sure that it will not be reversible by executive action,
    but only by protracted litigation. Vandalism with Trumpian characteristics.

  32. Synoia

    “HR is not your friend, and other things I think you should know”

    When HR was named “The Personnel Department,” It was referred to as “The Anti-Personnel Department.”

  33. pricknick

    Hear Hear!
    Thanks Lambert.

    “Apple Plans Upgraded MacBook Pros With Return of Magnetic Charging”

    They are also said to be ridding the craposphere of the dreaded “Touchbar”.
    I want my apple back.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > ridding the craposphere

      Now if they return to actually manufacturing the Mac, instead of gluing everything together, we might even be able to repair them.

      “Craposphere” is a good coinage!

  34. John Anthony La Pietra

    Yes, “offput” is a great new word, and I’m looking forward to reading the whole series about how it’s been applied in Sacramento. (I’m confident things have gotten more offputting since my first career back in the 1980s when I was a planner, mostly in public transportation.)

    OTOH, we could already have been calling this phenomenon keeping the public “BOTL”-ed up . . . with this as the word origin, of course.

  35. farmboy

    Soil Biodiversity is far beyond carbon storage and mitigation. It is essential, it’s where our nutrition comes from. From a cropping point of view, this is the sink where productivity will come from. Most nitrogen is fixed from the atmosphere, not generated in the soil. 25% of all life on the earth exists in the soil, manipulating that life underground gives above ground production.
    We need another cultural definition of Heaven (in the sky) and Hell (underground) and to learn to think through our feet, our so(u)les. What is all that teeming 25% telling us, what’s their story.

  36. Propertius

    Ah USENET, I remember it well and miss it dearly. I even remember when the unwashed masses from AOL first appeared (since I was on the Internet before it *was* the Internet). I remember being truly grateful to Larry Wall for inventing the “rn” newsreader and the “killfile”. AOL went right in there.

    The world would be a better place if we were all still posting to public newsgroups instead of walled-off blogs. Except for NC, of course (the exception that proves the rule).

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