2:00PM Water Cooler 2/16/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Query: Readers, I’m looking for an epidemiological study on Covid transmission in the schools that I know I linked to, whether in Links or Water Cooler. It was from Europe, and had one of those nice diagrams showing the index case, and I may even have included a tweet with that diagram. But Google being what it is, I can’t find it. Can anyone help? I didn’t run it this month, and it might have been as far back as October. Thanks!

Patient readers, the Presidents Day three-day weekend was remarkably restorative for me. Excitingly, I cleaned and reorganized my room! Well, most of it….. In any case, I hope your long weekend, if you could take one, was good too. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Here is a snow-bunting. (The playback seems a little herky-jerky, but that seems to be a server thing. I hope it clears up before you listen.)


At reader request, I’ve added these daily charts 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…. (A reader asked the source of the data: Johns Hopkins CSSE. DIVOC-91 does allow other data sets to be used, like Our World in Data and The Atlantic, and where they provide visualizations similar to those below, a cursory comparison shows that the shape of the curves is the same.)

Vaccination by region:

Case count by United States region:

The South seems to have resumed its downward trajectory. Looks like alert reader Lou Danton was right!

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

Test positivity:

Nowhere near 3%, anywhere.


The South has resumed its downward trajectory. 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):

This chart is starting to give me the creeps. The deaths at the top of the chart remain stubbornly high, after everything else has been dropping for weeks. It looks like the Midwest (orange) is the problem. Why? And the fatality rate at the bottom is even more worrisome. Look at the West (red). It’s accelerating, and it’s already way worse than the summer. Again, why?


“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


“Senators and impeachment managers: The trial is over but the work isn’t done” [Politico]. “Speaking on a host of Sunday shows, senators from both parties agreed that there should be a 9/11-style investigation into the Jan. 6 Capitol riots and that Trump had spewed falsehoods relating to the 2020 election. From the lack of law enforcement on the Capitol grounds that day to the seemingly coordinated maneuvers of the rioters, senators pushed to probe into the events that culminated in the attack, which left seven people dead. ‘We need a 9/11 commission to find out what happened and make sure it never happens again, and I want to make sure that the Capitol footprint can be better defended next time,’ Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told Fox News’ Chris Wallace.” • Clearly, if the Saudis had any role in the Capitol Seizure, that should be suppressed for at least 14 years.

“Impeachment isn’t the final word on Capitol riot for Trump” [Associated Press]. “‘President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office, as an ordinary citizen, unless the statute of limitations has run,’ Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said after that vote. He insisted that the courts were a more appropriate venue to hold Trump accountable than a Senate trial. ‘He didn’t get away with anything yet,’ McConnell said. “Yet.'” • Nice foreshadowing–

UPDATE “House Democrat Sues Trump, Giuliani And 2 Far-Right Groups Over Capitol Riot” [NPR]. “The lawsuit, filed on Thompson’s behalf by the NAACP and the civil rights law firm Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, accuses Trump and the other defendants of violating the 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act by trying to interfere in Congress’ certification of the Electoral College count. The legislation was part of a series of Enforcement Acts at the time intended to protect the enfranchisement of Black citizens from violence and intimidation.” • The article doesn’t give the theory of the case, unfortunately. Will there be video? (I wish at some point the Democrats would figure out that “we were really afraid!” just isn’t a good public relations strategy.) No, but seriously, here is the lawsuit:

Here is 42 U.S. Code § 1985.Conspiracy to interfere with civil rights:

(1)Preventing officer from performing duties

If two or more persons in any State or Territory conspire to prevent, by force, intimidation, or threat, any person from accepting or holding any office, trust, or place of confidence under the United States, or from discharging any duties thereof; or to induce by like means any officer of the United States to leave any State, district, or place, where his duties as an officer are required to be performed, or to injure him in his person or property on account of his lawful discharge of the duties of his office, or while engaged in the lawful discharge thereof, or to injure his property so as to molest, interrupt, hinder, or impede him in the discharge of his official duties;

The section end with a semicolon and isn’t a complete sentence. I think this is where the sentence ends, in section (3):

in any case of conspiracy set forth in this section, if one or more persons engaged therein do, or cause to be done, any act in furtherance of the object of such conspiracy, whereby another is injured in his person or property, or deprived of having and exercising any right or privilege of a citizen of the United States, the party so injured or deprived may have an action for the recovery of damages occasioned by such injury or deprivation, against any one or more of the conspirators.

This certainly strikes me as a more serious effort than the article of impeachment. One might imagine this language being applied with success to the Wilmington “Insurrection” of 1898 (which is nice because I’m so tired of hearing about Nazis when we have so many examples here at home.)

“Trump Emerges From Impeachment Trial With Sturdy Backing From GOP Voters” [Morning Consult]. “According to a Morning Consult/Politico poll conducted at the conclusion of the Senate’s weeklong trial, a majority of Republican voters (54 percent) said they would support Trump in a hypothetical 2024 presidential primary election – matching the share who said the same in late November, before his standing dipped in a survey conducted shortly after the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.”

UPDATE “Democratic impeachment manager: Trump trial could have lasted years if witnesses were called” [The Hill]. • Translation: The dog caught the car, and then didn’t know what to do.

Capitol Seizure

“57 GOP State And Local Officials Were At The Capitol Insurrection” [HuffPo]. “At least 57 state and local Republican officials attended the Jan. 6 rally in Washington that turned into a deadly insurrection, according to an updated HuffPost tally. Almost all of them are resisting calls to resign…. In the mob on Jan. 6, according to HuffPost’s analysis, were, at least, 16 Republican members of state houses or assemblies, four state senators, a state attorney general, six county commissioners, seven city council members, two mayors, three school board members, two state GOP chairs, two prosecutors and a slew of other officials and party functionaries.” • Given that Republicans fear their base, it’s doubtful they’ll pay a price at the polls. Which is how democracy is supposed to work, no? I don’t know what losing scheme the Democrats are ginning up this time — anything, anything but give people material reasons to vote for you! — but all I can say is that let’s all pray they don’t pour gasoline on the flames, profitable though that would be for clicks, the intelligence community, the moralizers, etc. (See below at “Mapping the Trump Meridian in Texas.”)

Biden Adminstration

“President Biden extends mortgage relief, ban on home foreclosures through June” [USA Today]. ” President Joe Biden on Tuesday extended a ban on home foreclosures for federally backed mortgages by three months and expanded a mortgage relief program in a push to stabilize the nation’s housing affordability crisis amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The foreclosure moratorium was set to expire March 31 and is now in place through June 30. It’s the second time Biden has extended the ban after he used one of his record number of Day One executive actions to push back a previous Jan. 31 end date. The Biden administration Tuesday also extended the enrollment window to request a mortgage payment forbearance – which allows borrowers to pause or reduce mortgage payments – until June 30. That program also was scheduled to end in March. As a result of a third action, the federal government will allow borrowers to defer mortgage payments for an additional six months. Eligible homeowners must have enrolled in a forbearance plan by the end of last June.” • Last June? Really?

UPDATE “Biden relaunches faith-based White House office” [The Hill]. “The office was established 20 years ago by former President George W. Bush, the White House noted, and continued on through the Obama administration. Former President Trump did not appoint a director to the faith-based office during his tenure and its website remained blank during the four years he was in the Oval Office. Trump instead created the Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives, which served as the Health and Human Services Department’s ‘liaison to the faith community and to grassroots organizations’ and sought to ‘champion religious liberty in all HHS programs’ according to its website. Melissa Rogers will reassume the position she held in the Obama administration as executive director of the office and as senior director for faith and public policy as part of the White House Domestic Policy Council. White House Senior Adviser for Public Engagement John Dickson will serve as deputy director of the office. He previously served as national faith engagement director for the Biden campaign.” • I’m trained to hate this, since it’s a Bush administration initiative, but perhaps jaw, jaw is better than war, war….


“Former DNC Chair Perez Calls the Calendar Status Quo ‘Unacceptable'” [FrontLoading HQ]. Perez: “A diverse state or states need to be first. The difference between going first and going third is really important. We know the importance of momentum in Democratic primaries.” • “Diverse” is, of course, undefined. Wallethub’s diversity ranking has six elements: Socioeconomic, cultural, economic, household, religious, and political. The top five are California, Texas, Hawaii, New Jersey, and New York. So diversity, as such, is a recipe for the high-dollar air war, cementing oligarchic control even further. Surprise! (South Carolina, whose political machine tipped the 2020 primary, is #23. To be fair, Iowa is 46, New Hampshire is 47.) Why don’t we just let the DNC pick the names out of a hat?


“Mapping the Trump Meridian in Texas” [The Nation]. “President Donald Trump’s performance along the west and South Texas border in 2020 was nothing short of remarkable. Just five years after he’d called Mexican immigrants drug dealers, criminals, and rapists, the enthusiasm of Latino voters for the 45th president dashed Democratic dreams of a blue Texas, resulting in voting shifts in Texas border counties unseen in over a century. The Democratic Party and its media sycophants blamed the lackluster showing on Covid-19, the ‘defund the police’ backlash, and the specter of socialism.” • Because of course they did. More: “According to the Texas secretary of state, the voting shifts were substantial, with Trump collecting more than 30 percent of the vote in every border county. In a majority of those counties, Trump received 10 percent more votes than he had in 2016, with some, like Starr County, showing shifts as high as 28 percent.” • Conclusion: “The 10-hour drive back to Laredo gave us time to think about the men and women we’d met. Both of us had expected to hear something different from them, honestly. Hardly anyone mentioned “socialism” or “defund the police.” Instead, we heard praise for the economy and for Trump himself. He remains a great favorite with the people we met. They all still believe he won the election and said they’d be comfortable if the results were overturned. In just four years, Trump managed to turn parts of what had been a strong blue border wall for Texas Democrats deep Republican red—truly an incredible feat. As to what lessons we can learn from it… we’re still trying to figure that out.”

Democrats en Deshabille

UPDATE Fire me into the sun:

To be fair to the Democrat leadership, they’ve certainly done everything they can to make this possible….

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Something About The Way Society Was Exposed As Complete Illusion Over Past Year Really Getting Man Down Today” [The Onion]. “‘Maybe it’s just quarantine talking, but the reality dawning on me that American life is a fundamentally hollow cesspool of spectacle and misery is really bumming me out lately,’ said [local man Paul] Carpenter, adding that he had the vague idea that living in a social system based on brutal competition that made all human relationships transactional and perverted the very idea of community might have something to do with it.” • Worth reading in full.

UPDATE “The “For The People Act” Would Make the U.S. a Democracy” [The Intercept]. “o ensure voters can be confident that elections are secure and that their votes will count, all states would be required to conduct elections via paper ballot.” • I don’t know whether the Intercept is sloppy and dumb or deliberately lying, but HR 1 permits the use of ballot marking devices (BMDs) which are inherently unauditable and poorly reflect voter intent. (See discussion here: The ballot is what is counted. With a BMDs , what is counted is a machine and not-readable QR code, which may or may not — depending on whether the BMD is hacked — match the printed human-readable printout, which is a mere receipt. Another way of saying this is that HR1 legitimizes technology that supports election fraud, a nirvana for both parties.

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: “December 2020 CoreLogic Single-Family Rents Experienced Growth at Disparate Rates” [Econintersect]. “The Single-Family Rent Index (SFRI), which analyzes single-family rent price changes nationally and across major metropolitan areas. December 2020 data shows a national rent increase of 3.8 % year over year, up from a 2.9 % year-over-year increase in December 2019. Annual rent growth slowed in the early months of the pandemic but then steadily picked up in the latter half of the year, reaching pre-pandemic growth rates by October. 2020 was a noteworthy year for the single-family rental market. Renters sought more space and detached properties to weather the pandemic, which kept rent prices of single-family properties on the rise and multifamily rents tumbling. While single-family rents increased on average, some areas of the country experienced lower growth and even drops in rents.”

* * *

Shipping: “A pivot in supply chains driven by soaring e-commerce demand is proving to be a boon for trucking’s less-than-truckload sector. Companies including Old Dominion Freight Line, ArcBest and Saia are building their profits and expanding their operations… as their “middle-mile” business dovetails with a push by shippers to make their supply chains more nimble to meet changing consumer demands” [Wall Street Journal]. “The truckers are among businesses that are benefiting from broad changes in economic demand driven by the coronavirus pandemic. The online sales boom has companies pushing more goods through tighter warehouses near population centers, where space constraints require smaller and more frequent shipments to keep inventories stocked. At the same time, sharp swings in demand are scrambling forecasting, triggering more stopgap shipments with short notice and tighter lead times that put LTL services at a premium and hand those carriers more pricing leverage.”

Shipping: “LTL carriers continue to issue general rate increases” [Freight Waves]. “Less-than-truckload carrier Old Dominion Freight Line announced a 4.9% general rate increase Monday for freight carried under various general tariff codes. The increase will be effective March 1. The rate bump follows similar announcements from LTL carriers in recent weeks. The majority of the increases are in the 5% to 6% range, likely indicative of tightening LTL capacity and a rate-disciplined environment.:

Manufacturing: “The swift, global fallout from the semiconductor shortage across the automotive industry is exposing a structural supply-chain problem that car makers can’t easily solve. …. [T]he chip shortfall underscores how the growing use of technology in vehicles has fractured supply-chain strategies the automotive giants had built up over decades” [Wall Street Journal]. “The auto makers have long used their muscle over parts makers to streamline supply chains and lower inventory costs under just-in-time principles. But car makers can’t dictate terms to a chip industry with a broad customer base across many industries. Some auto manufacturers are rethinking supply chains, talking not just with front-line suppliers but with chip vendors to take a role in striking deals. Some want greater transparency on the sourcing, but others are considering getting directly involved by reserving capacity with the semiconductor suppliers.”

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 68 Greed (previous close: 63 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 57 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 16 at 11:55am.

Rapture Index: Closes up one on Earthquakes. “A 7.1 magnitude earthquake strikes Japan” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 185. (Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing, so high is better.)

Health Care

Masking, how it’s done:

Somehow, we’ve been able to turn sneakers into coveted and very expensive consumer goods in high demand. Why oh why can’t we do the same with masks?

“We Never Reached Containment” [Mike the Mad Biologist]. “We still haven’t wrapped our heads around the importance of prevalence, and are still too focused on the trend (the trend does matter, just not for what you decide to do that day). I have yet to hear prominent politicians or other figures lay out prevalence-based goals*, as a path to containment. A broad failure of governance. *As best as I can tell, the ‘metrics’ exist only to justify loosening restrictions, otherwise political leaders are just using any good news, no matter how trivial or irrelevant, to loosen the restrictions they want to loosen.” On prevalence: “If people want things to ‘return to normal’, or some semblance of normal, then we need to dramatically lower the prevalence of infected people. When COVID-19 is very rare, one is far more likely to survive higher risk activities. That means masks and physical distancing for an extended period of time–the first, sort of shutdown didn’t cut it, and we left far too early.”

The Biosphere

Here’s hoping our friends are weathering the storm:

Under the house:

When you button up the house for the winter, you really do have to imagine that critters have excellent infrared sensors, and a lot of incentive to get in out of the cold. And if — spoiler alert — there are pipes in that crawlspace? They’re probably frozen. No drafts!


* * *

“Texas’ power grid crumples under the cold” [Ars Technica]. “Texas is unusual in that almost the entire state is part of a single grid that lacks extensive integration with those of the surrounding states. That grid is run by an organization called ERCOT, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, a nonprofit controlled by the state legislature.” • Ah, the Leg. More: “[R]oughly 30 gigawatts of generation capacity has been forced offline. While some early reports indicated that frozen wind turbines were causing significant shortfalls, 30GW is roughly equal to the entire state’s wind capacity if every turbine is producing all the power it’s rated for. Since wind in Texas generally tends to produce less during winter, there’s no way that the grid operators would have planned for getting 30GW from wind generation; in fact, a chart at ERCOT indicates that wind is producing significantly more than forecast…. So while having Texas’ full wind-generating capacity online would help, the problems with meeting demand appear to lie elsewhere. An ERCOT director told Bloomberg that problems were widespread across generating sources, including coal, natural gas, and even nuclear plants. In the past, severe cold has caused US supplies of natural gas to be constrained, as use in residential heating competes with its use in generating electricity. But that doesn’t explain the shortfalls in coal and nuclear, and the ERCOT executive wasn’t willing to speculate. With generation failing to meet demand, ERCOT was left with no other option other than to cut off customers’ access to power.”

“Scotland’s hilarious gritter fleet triggers naming contests in US and Russia” [The Scotsman]. “It comes as the likes of Sir Andy Flurry, Lew-Ice Capaldi and Gritter Thunberg gaining such a following that an online tracker showing their movements has clocked up more than 100,000 hits a day. The US states of Michigan, Minnesota and South Dakota are among those following Scotland’s lead to soliciting names for their winter fleets. Stateside name suggestions have included Salter Mondale, Lake Snow Be Gone and Plowy McPlowface.” • Here is the gritter tracker:

The gritter tracker is actually a good way to demonstrate that government actually brings concrete material benefits; states and localities might consider expanding on this idea. I think the naming concept — probably comes from named British steam locomitives? — is important, too. We might name school buses and ambulances, for example. Or postal routes.

Book Nook

“Heresies of ‘Dune'” [Los Angeles Review of Books]. Worth reading in full. The conclusion: “Though the counterculture’s most visible immediate impact was on the left, the 21st century has witnessed the growth of its right-wing forms. Technolibertarians like Elon Musk reach for space; the incels of 8kun promulgate antigovernment paranoia; and heavily armed Odin-worshipers storm state capitols to protest mask regulations. The right no longer sports a crew cut, goes to church, venerates the family, and plays it straight. Instead, it spurns the establishment and makes war on the state. On cue, Dune is back. The first book is a novel, not a manifesto, and has admirers across the political spectrum. Yet the one itch it doesn’t scratch is the longing for liberal democracy. Dune is, in that sense, a measure of our discontent. As liberal norms lose their hold — as our world lurches from Parks and Recreation to Game of Thrones — Arrakis feels more real. We look up from the wreckage of 2020 and there is Frank Herbert, beckoning from the desert.” • The review trashes Herberts later Dune works (“written quickly while the IRS hounded the author for unpaid taxes”), with a lot of quotes I just don’t remember (or have repressed). I don’t much care for the novels where Leto has turned himself into a sandworm, but I do think Heretics of Dune and Chapterhouse Dune have some wonderful set pieces, even if the plotting is so intricate as to defy comprehension.

Screening Room

“Can’t Get You Out of My Head review: Adam Curtis’s emotional history is fascinating and disorienting” [Independent]. “Two years in the making, this six-part, eight-hour series aims to tell an entire emotional history of the postwar period, of how we got to where we are. As ever with Curtis, the film resists précis, but it broadly aims to show how radical movements, emerging after the Second World War, were neutralised and co-opted by an establishment determined to maintain the status quo. These decades that prioritised the individual, mainly as a consumer, have become a dead end for politics and culture. His case studies are extraordinarily varied and would all make fascinating films in their own right. There’s Michael de Freitas, one of London’s most notorious gangsters but also a civil rights activist who persuaded Yoko and John Lennon to cut off their hair for him; Jiang Qing, aka Madame Mao, who clung to her thwarted dreams of acting as she rose to be the most powerful woman in China; Afeni Shakur, the Black Panther and mother of the rapper Tupac. For someone who professes to side with “the people”, Curtis has a Nietzschean fascination with thugs and strongmen. Their stories are told via detours to Dominic Cummings, the Baader-Meinhoff Gang, Lee Harvey Oswald, the Illuminati and MK Ultra, among others…..The feeling of watching Curtis’s best work has more in common with an encounter with a piece of art than it does a piece of history or a more traditional documentary. You emerge from Can’t Get You Out of My Head not with the clean satisfaction of rational combat, but the sense of having been carpet bombed out of your old worldview.”

“Why Did Bridgerton Erase Haiti?” [Los Angeles Review of Books]. “Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton novels are mostly populated with white people like the regency-era England where they take place. The London of Shonda Rhimes’s Bridgerton tv series for Netflix, in contrast, is a multicultural mecca, sprinkled with Black characters of various skin hues, as well as a smattering of east and south Asians walking around silently in the background. There is even a Black queen and a Black duke…. In season one, episode four, we learn that the reason the Black Brits of Bridgerton are on par—economically and socially— with the white characters is not because they are the mixed-race children of white male British colonists and free women of color from the Caribbean, nineteenth-century England’s actual Black children of ‘uncertain fortune,’ in one historian’s words. Instead, it is because the white king, George, fell in love with a Black woman, Charlotte, whose marriage to him made her the Queen of England…. [I]n Bridgerton love has already changed everything. It has defeated color prejudice and it has eliminated chattel slavery. Likewise, it has erased any need to mention the thousands of Black revolutionaries in Haiti who fought for abolition for 13 long years, in the process creating the first independent and slavery-free nation of the American hemisphere.

Go long social distancing:

Class Warfare

“State treasurers of Delaware, Illinois, Wisconsin and Colorado tell Amazon not to interfere in union efforts” [AL.com]. “The officials sent a letter Feb. 9 to the chair of Amazon’s Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee, echoing a similar letter sent by an investor group. Last week, a group of about 70 Amazon investors told the company in a letter to stop interfering in unionization efforts in Bessemer. The investors, led by the Swedish groups Folksam and Ohman Fonder, control more than $20 billion in company shares and include the comptrollers for both New York State and New York City, Legal and General Investment Management, BMO Global Asset Management and the Church of England Pensions Board.” • No word on the Bessemer vote as of this writing.

“Workers at Medium are unionizing” [The Verge]. “Medium workers have announced they’re forming a union with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 9410. The Medium Workers Union says more than 70 percent of eligible employees have already signed cards in support, currently representing 140 workers across editorial, engineering, design, and product, according to CNN. The organization plans to negotiate a contract for its members. Right now, it’s asking Medium to voluntarily recognize the union. If the company refuses, the union can force recognition through the National Labor Relations Board as long as a majority of employees vote in favor of unionization.”

News of the Wired

“Talking Is a Free Action” [TV Tropes]. “Time in comics is flexible. Each panel shows a single event, which is usually accompanied by a length of dialog, which must take some time to say. This disparity is usually accepted if it isn’t taken to extremes. But often, characters will exposit when it’s most needed: at the story’s climax, when both the intricacies of the plot and the intensity of action hit their highest… The Trope Namer is Dungeons & Dragons, in which certain actions (most notably talking) are designated “free actions” and can be taken in addition to any other actions within the normal limit of a turn. Talking does not distract the player from any other actions, and there is no word count limit on how much the player can say. This is a case of Rule of Fun; spouting a Bond One-Liner during combat is awesome, but no one would do it when it would impair combat performance.” • Fascinating idea, the reverse of a filibuster, but I’m really including this to plug TV Tropes, a wonderful, wonderful site (which I hope isn’t run by the Clinton Foundation or something).

“The War For The Future Of Psychotherapy” [Forbes]. “Maybe you heard. There’s a war brewing. At stake is the future of psychotherapy. Will manuals, algorithms, and automatons prevail? Or will we be able to preserve the centrality of unique and responsive human relationships? The fight will determine the kinds of care available to people with problems in living. And you better pay attention. This fight concerns you; after all, who doesn’t have such problems at some point in life, or care about someone who does?

call the people fighting to remove the human from the psychotherapy equation “algorithm warriors.” I’m on the other side, standing with those defending psychotherapy as a professional practice ever more sharply focussed on the healing power of human relationships. … I call the people fighting to remove the human from the psychotherapy equation “algorithm warriors.” I’m on the other side, standing with those defending psychotherapy as a professional practice ever more sharply focussed on the healing power of human relationships…. The need is great and potential profits and rewards astronomical….. The second faction in the algorithmic alliance are inside the profession; those reducing and then limiting psychotherapy to a set of procedures encoded in instruction manuals, i.e., to an algorithm. The group supporting instruction-manual therapies includes psychotherapy researchers designing treatment procedures based on how easily they can be studied under controlled circumstances. Rather than taking seriously the unique features of specifically psychological treatments, this research is built on a serious case of medicine-envy: if the drug companies do it then so too should we!” • Ugh. Do we have an psychiatrists in the commentariat?

Speaking of algos:

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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 (Tommy):

Tommy writes: “Wanted to submit a picture from our hike on the Pickering Creek Audubon trail on the eastern shore of Maryland. Pic was taken after freezing rain from the night before.” Gorgeous!

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. hunkerdown

    Covid-19 Dims Job Prospects, So Young People Sign Up for the Military (WSJ). “Canada saw a 37% surge in military applicants for the final nine months of 2020 from a year earlier. For the full year, Australia reported a 9.9% rise over the prior year. The U.K. last spring hit its annual recruitment target for the first time in seven years—and is on pace to do so again this year, a government spokeswoman said. The U.S. Army saw about 92% of its eligible personnel re-enlist for the year ended in September. The prior year’s tally was 83%, a spokeswoman said.”

    If I may, Lambert, “Everything’s going according to plan!”

  2. Carolinian

    Re McConnell–if this keeps up he may get his own show on MSNBC. And to think only last fall during SC nom he was the devil incarnate. Fickle much?

  3. Terry Flynn

    Re Scottish gritter naming. Yep that’s us Brits who refuse to take anything seriously. It’s Boaty mcBoatFace all over again.

    1. ambrit

      I say that “Sled Zeppelin” wins by ‘acclimation.’ The picture in my mind associated with that name is epic.
      Now, for dealing with non-functional ‘public’ assets, how’s aboot a tracker of the locations of Federal elected officials?

      1. Socal Rhino

        I still like the idea of public officials wearing their big money donor names on their clothes like Nascar drivers.

      2. hunkerdown

        You’ve heard of gritter trackers, now get ready for Grifter Trackers. Can we assign them names, too? Is “Crazy Catfood Lady” G-rated and family friendly enough for Neera Tanden?

      3. neo-realist

        What’s that song, D’yer Mak’er?

        Oh oh oh oh oh
        You don’t have to snow, oh oh oh oh
        You don’t have to snow, oh oh oh oh
        You don’t have to snow

          1. ilpalazzo

            Considering seamen being rather superstitious people I don’t think it would go well with them to give a seagoing vessel a joke name.

  4. Wukchumni

    If I was on a ship on Lake Michigan and heard the call of Cthulhu in the distance, i’d probably disregard it.

      1. petal

        Funny you mention it-the song was on the radio when I turned the car on leaving work this afternoon. Growing up on the southern shore of Lake Ontario, it was played on a local station fairly often. Love that song, was belting it out today.

        1. Wukchumni

          I’ve seen Gordon Lightfoot in concert maybe half a dozen times, the last one being about 5 years ago, and sadly his voice is utterly shot now, a friend I was with mentioned after the concert that it would’ve been better to buy the ticket-but don’t go, and instead watch him @ home at the height of his ability in a masterful 1972 hour long BBC video on youtube.


          1. flora

            Old age ….

            “Though much is taken, much abides; and though
            We are not now that strength which in old days
            Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
            One equal temper of heroic hearts,
            Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
            To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”
            ― Alfred Lord Tennyson, Idylls of the King and a Selection of Poems

            1. Wukchumni

              It was akin to say watching Gordie Howe playing in the NHL when he was 80.

              At some point you have to rest on your laurels…

  5. petal

    Not sure anyone would be interested, but in case they are, just had a company cancel a nitrile glove order on me because rapidly rising costs are exceeding their ability to fulfill current orders. And the pipet tips we use have nearly doubled in price.
    ps-Love the iced-over lighthouse photos, and the gritter fleet names are quite funny.

      1. petal

        Good question, Jen. We’d have to stop work because of safety, plus we need things to be sterile. The stockrooms have been rationing gloves and other supplies. It is hard to tell where this is going and where it will end. Luckily we do have money, but what if at some point there just aren’t gloves to buy? What about those groups on tight budgets? What about medical facilities or nursing homes? I’ve tried to plan ahead as much as possible but there’s only so much one can do to head this stuff off.

        1. Jen

          Yep. And if the Biden administration really ramps up testing? Then what?

          Meanwhile we’re thinking the only risk to keeping research going is an outbreak. Interesting times.

        2. Carolinus

          We recently had an email go out VA-wide indicating that the acting directors have concern about supply of gloves in the future and encouraging staff to minimize use of gloves wherever possible. Not an encouraging sign.

        3. Paradan

          So my clinical microbiology teacher used to tell us stories about working in Africa. Some clinics soak there used gloves in bleach and then air dry them in the sun.

          Will Nitirile survive in an autoclave? If an autoclave in good enough for surgical tools it should be good enough for gloves.

          1. Isotope_C14

            Nitrile gloves will not survive autoclaves.

            I just started a new job and we can’t get 1ml pipet tips. (We are in Germany)

            Petal, are you stateside?

              1. Isotope_C14

                If I hear of any other shortages I’ll mention it here in the next 24 hours.

                The 1ml pipet tip thing is quite a big deal for us. We had Doktorarbeit students begging for them earlier today, and had none to give.

                Here in the DE, the MD students have to do science work for their degree, they are called Doktorarbeit, and some do a short (6 mo.- 1yr) clinical publication, but the brave ones do a 2+ year, almost-masters-degree thesis that results in, sometimes a peer reviewed article. The Doktorarbeit isn’t *required* but it is common. There is a smaller project that they can do called Hausarbeit, and that at least dips the toe into the science world.

                Pretty telling that the US doesn’t have this as a mandatory component of medical training, at least that I’m aware of. I have been at large teaching hospitals in the past (stateside), and never encountered this type of requirement.

                Stay healthy and warm!

    1. Kurtismayfield

      I thought one of the benefits of a capitalist system was that as soon as someone sees a business opportunity (shortage of supplies and rising prices) they can respond by producing more.

      Meanwhile my supermarket still has a shortage of certain items, and even us on the education end are having trouble finding pipettes and tips..

      Was my Econ 101 class wrong?

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Maybe your Econ 101 class has just been “overtaken by events”. Which is a kind of wrong-by-default, I suppose.

      2. Count Zero

        Your Econ 101 class will always be wrong as soon as it comes into contact with the real world. A bit like Theology 101 I suppose.

      3. Procopius

        Your Econ 101 class did not enumerate its assumptions, one of which is that entry into the market is costless and unimpaired. An Englishwoman named Joan Robinson wrote an excellent book titled The Economics of Imperfect Competition, which seems not to be widely read in the U.S., probably because of the competition between Oxford and Chicago schools’ definition of “utility.” A summary of a few of the things that go wrong with markets is “What Do Econ 1 Students Need to Remember Second Most from the Course?”

  6. SE

    Regarding the photo of Pickering Creek….is it me or is that overgrown with [gritting teeth]….Autumn…Olive trees?

    1. Laura in So Cal

      On the ground report this morning from my sister in suburban Austin. “No power, no heat. It has been consistently under 10F degrees for 3 days. We are doing everything we can to keep warm and make sure the pipes don’t freeze. It’s bad…roads are closed, school is closed, grocery store is closed. No gas at the gas station and people are tearing down their fences for firewood” She also says that cell service is spotty although she has electronic “bricks” to keep the phones charged.

      1. Daryl

        The roads promise to be extra dangerous throughout the week; it’s warm / sunny enough that some of the snow melted but there will be freezing rain tonight.

      2. Wukchumni

        No gas at the gas station and people are tearing down their fences for firewood

        I understand that white picket burns the best…

        Wish I could supply Texans with some of our largess, must have close to 10 cords of rounds of primarily oak from trees that died in our long drought last decade. We have fires here, but it’s more atmospheric, as it rarely gets down lower than 35 in the winter.

        Mentioned it yesterday, but good old fashioned hot water bottles are the bomb, and a brand named Fashy (that’s a heck of a name considering the source) are the finest, an unusual German import.

        A couple of them filled up 2/3rds with nearly boiling water will keep warm until the morning~

      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        Running a hot and a cold faucet at a slow steady drip would lower chances of pipes freezing.

    2. Another Scott

      The Houston Chronicle points out that the first problems were the wind turbines freezing Sunday into Monday, but that the real problems happened Monday when the weather got colder, deeper into the state.


      It also points out that the structure of the Texas energy market (which has only energy prices), is likely a major contributor to the factor. Wasn’t this the same market that was designed by Bush donors at places like Enron?

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      If the rate hike is high enough, and long-lasting or permanent enough, AFter this Cold Emergency, it might encourage electricity conservation by punishing electricity use.

      If the rate hikes can be raised to utterly punitive levels, it might torture the State of Texas into insulating all its buildings ( private and public) up to North Dakota or Manitoba levels.

    1. Lee

      The first episode has left me dazed and confused but captivated such that I must now watch the whole series. From the sound track: I’d not heard Song for Zula before, an example of the love will rip yer heart out genre, which I quite liked.

      1. Worf's Prune Juice

        I finished Part 4 last night and while I’m enjoying the documentary so far, it feels less coherent than previous Curtis documentaries I’ve seen. I’m really not sure how he’ll tie everything together in the end. He’ll go down one thread following a person or event, and then jump cut to another thread without any transition. I realize this is his style, and perhaps it will all come together in the end, but I often get the feeling that he has an idea of how this all fits together in his head but that this doesn’t always translate to the audience. I was also a bit skeptical of his discussion of Russia in the 90s, with only a minor mention of the US’ role in supporting the shock therapy of privatization after the end of the USSR.

        He definitely has his own style. He’s like the Wes Anderson of documentaries about how the world is in decline. Here’s hoping he brings it together in parts 5 and 6.

  7. lobelia

    Can’t help but fear how many homeless Texans (there are a reported, https://worldpopulationreview.com/state-rankings/homeless-population-by-state , minimum of 26 thousand homeless Texans, thousands unsheltered), will end up dying of freezing and hypothermia (which, contrary to popular mythology propaganda, can occur in temperatures as high as 60°, https://www.weather.gov/safety/cold-during , particularly elders, and/or those subjected to wind and moisture) in Texas over this week.

    The US desperately needs to start – FINALLY, after centuries of refusal – seriously addressing poverty; and its lack of, or steadily crumbling, infrastructure. This, over the current and endless profiteering wars and technologically monetizing all human activity; while subjecting testifiers and whistleblowers to: defamation of one’s unjustly and opaquely ‘determined’ [AI™] Social Score™ (which one now needs to rely on for a roof over their head, food, a jawb, i.e. survival); censorship; 24/7 surveillance – i.e. Subjecting testifiers and whistleblowers to Sadism.

  8. Samuel Conner

    Re: the disconnect between rapidly falling detected COVID-19 cases and the not falling as rapidly mortality,

    some early studies last year found seroprevalence of antibodies several to many times higher than reported cases.


    this implies (assuming the effect is not dominated by cross-reactivity of the test with antibodies for other viruses already present in the population), I think, that most infections were going undetected at that time. Some MMWR reports from mid-2020 find similar substantial ratio of seroprevalence to PCR-confirmed cases.
    Perhaps the ratio of “detected to total” infections is a time (and place?) variable quantity.

    CDC has a seroprevalence surveillance project, but I do not see recent results in Google searches

    updated last week — seems like an “explainer”:



    It seems a bit puzzling — maybe I’m wrong to be puzzled, or maybe “everything is CALPERS” — that there isn’t more information about “results of seroprevalence studies”. This seems to be a very important metric for “total population infected.”

  9. Anonymous

    Just five years after he’d called Mexican immigrants drug dealers, criminals, and rapists, the enthusiasm of Latino voters for the 45th president dashed Democratic dreams of a blue Texas,

    Likely because the victims of Mexican criminals are mostly Mexicans. Likewise with Black criminals.

    So while some may see Mexicans and Blacks as homogeneous groups, they are, like all other humans, composed of the good and the bad.

    1. jsn

      Trump made their lives better by making their wages go up just a little and their circumstances seem slightly less dire.

      It doesn’t take much to actually appeal to voters, but both parties are adamantly opposed to doing so.

      Trump understood this and absent COVID would have bee re-elected. Yes he is horrible, but this is also true. He’s gone now and the duopoly has inherited the wind: the arid dust storm that was once infrastructure and governing capabilities. We have allowed the corporate sector to dismantle everything but the enforcement they need to make sure their contracts are honored. The resulting market is now selling life to those who can afford it.

    1. hemeantwell

      The idea that psychotherapy is supposed to make “the world” a better place is the practically-minded and equally naive sibling of psychological reductionism in social theory. That a person may be relatively more free to labor and love doesn’t have much effect on social conditions that are strongly determined by .[insert your favorite collection of structural forces here, I’m fond of capitalism and the military industrial complex]

  10. drumlin woodchuckles

    Large parts of the South and Mid-South are going to get 10 degrees or colder tonight. Millions of homes there were not constructed with that kind of cold in mind. Many people who have not had pipes freeze and burst yet are at risk of having their pipes freeze and burst.

    Since running water is harder to freeze than still water, such people might consider turning on their cold water faucets to a slow steady dripping trickle. And turn their hot water faucets on to a slow steady dripping trickle as well.

    And those who have heating inside their houses should turn their hot water heaters all the way up, and should turn the indoor heat as high as they can comfortably stand it, to further reduce their risk of pipe freeze and burst.

    1. petal

      Yes yes to the dripping taps suggestions! This helped keep our pipes from freezing when I was growing up. It works!

      1. expr

        Be careful what you suggest. In 1962 while in college in Houston
        they had a cold snap below freezing for several days. Someone
        (radio?) suggested people turn on their outside faucets to keep them from freezing and they did, full blast. The water pressure dropped so low toilets did not flush. They cancelled classes and sent everyone with nearby homes home and the rest of use got portacans in the quad. Fire engines to keep up the pressure at hospitals etc

          1. Lunker Walleye

            No to outside faucets being turned on. Yes to a little drip and opening up any basement cabinet door that encloses water pipes.

    2. John Zelnicker

      @drumlin woodchuckles
      February 16, 2021 at 3:23 pm

      Good advice, drumlin.

      While it’s not usually necessary to have all faucets dripping, one should try to determine which faucet is the furthest from the where the water supply pipe enters the house and make sure it’s dripping. E.g., you only need to run one faucet in a bathroom.

      If your home is built on a concrete slab, most of the plumbing will be in the slab and the walls and they should be safe from freezing as long as the house stays reasonable warm.

      If your house is built with a crawl space underneath, like so many in the South, you should have it closed off with plastic sheeting to stop the wind.

      And don’t forget outside faucets, again, especially the one furthest from the water supply pipe.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I live in a unit in a low-to-moderate-income housing co-op. The in-wall insulation was good when I moved in. Over time it has settled. It is now very bad.

        The one bedroom units were apparently designed with a no-insulation-for-certain-critical-pipes flaw built right in. So we are told by management that for any deep cold brrrr, to turn indoor heat to 72 and open the utility-closet door a little bit. So I figured, why not add the slow drip faucet, to keep water moving instead of freezing?

        It may be safer to assume even a nice house has hidden thermal flaws which sub-zero weather will help you find.

        1. Jen

          Yup. We had an extended spell of temps ranging from single digit highs during the days to -10 at night. Came home from work one day to find half of my dining room ceiling on the floor, and my two dogs looking at me as if to say “we didn’t do it, we swear!”

          Heating pipe that ran under an upstairs kneewall burst. Found out the hard way that relying on the woodstove for heat during a really cold snap isn’t a good idea because parts of the house get cold enough for pipes to freeze.

      1. Wukchumni

        Would the silver lining in the frigid steppes of Houston be that it’s so damned cold that the stuff in their fridges & freezers will keep and not spoil?

        1. The Rev Kev

          People might have to start climbing into their fridges and freezers to get warm in Houston. Still wonder if this is a one-off or whether this may be a more frequent occurrence as climate patterns shift.

          Found a YouTube channel called “It’s a Southern Thing” and it showed how the south is not really set to spats of cold weather-


  11. zagonostra

    >The Great Reset – Off-Guardian

    Excellent article by Hiroyuki Hamada

    Capitalism is getting a new OS, and it needs to be restarted…We are being told that casino capitalism for profits must end to introduce “stakeholder capitalism”. But of course, since the notion is coming from the profiteers who have colonized, corporatized, militarized and financialized, we can presume that they are talking about ensuring their own interests by directly guiding the economic decisions instead of continuing the show called the economy by the “invisible hand…

    Now, it must be clearly stated that what we perceive as the dystopian future of The Fourth Industrial Revolution—AI, blockchain, digitalization, financialization, green capitalism and so on—can’t be separated from the invisible hand and the invisible cage. It cannot be allowed to be defined by capitalist institutions as a “legitimate political topic” instead of what it really is.


    1. flora

      Thanks for the link. The author at least presents his structural analysis, whether one agrees with it or not.

      I watched most of the Curtis thing. When he blithely gave a pass to 3rd-Way Bill Clinton (and crew) as a hapless pols carried along by unspecified ‘dark hidden forces’, instead of Clinton being major Dem political architect of political neoliberalism wedded to Wall St., I though ah… TINA then, is it? Clinton was only a hapless pol who could do nothing wrt to the growing neoliberalism (except work to kill the New Deal)? … Not much structural analysis there, imo.

      1. flora

        adding: when the author writes/describes capitalism as if it’s a single thing in an unalterable state I think he misses a step. Yet, he’s very close to describing ‘monopoly capitalism’ (without recognizing there have been good periods of non-monopoly capitalism when govt is used to break up monopolies and regulate finance, safety, etc. (Matt Stoller wrote a book – ‘Goliath’ – about this struggle between monopoly capitalism and democracy.) The 4IR/Great Reset dream of Klaus Schwab is monopoly power on steroids without democratic control and regulations. The author gets close, imo, with paragraphs like this:

        The kings and queens monopolize them— material resources as well as people with skills and knowledge are captured to serve. Once monopolized, the valued items are commodified, to be distributed in ways that benefit those same kings and queens.

        The New Deal is a counter example to the 4IR dream, imo.

        1. flora

          edit: maybe the struggle is between the big monopoly capitalists and the smaller non-monopoly capitalists. How many small store owners have been put out of business by Amazon or Walmart, for example. How many small service companies are threatened with extinction by the bigs anti-right to repair stance? How many small farms are being put out of business by Monsanto or ADM or other corporate agri-biz giants?

          Break up the monopoly powers, break up the monopoly money centers, and much can rebalance to a better equilibrium in non-monopoly (capitalism free from unregulated private monopolies) economics and politics, imo.

        2. lyman alpha blob

          I had a very similar thought about that part of the film – Curtis did a big hand wave over Clinton’s responsibility for the neoliberalism that took over the US and it was presented as if stuff just happens. Stoller’s book describing in great detail how the New Deal was deliberately dismantled came to mind for me too.

          But then I realized he at least mentioned Clinton – I don’t believe Ronald Reagan got any notice whatsoever and he barely mentions the entire decade of the 80s at all. And maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing. One of the points of the movie I thought was to get people to understand the power of the narrative, that the narrative isn’t reality, and we shouldn’t attribute more power to the elites than they really have just because of the stories they tell us. He shows the emptiness of a range of modern governments – Russia, China, the UK, the US, the EU – and by giving the US less focus than maybe USians have come to expect, he changes the overall narrative just a little bit and takes away some focus that the US elites likely think they deserve, and perhaps changing the worldview of some people slightly along the way.

          1. flora

            Yes, he shows his view of the emptiness of modern governments, and in their place he would substitute … what? Nothing?

            He also shows individualism and society (what he calls collectivism) as an either/or binary, not a as both in relation at the same time. Rights and obligations, not just either rights or obligations. If they are not both in r elation at the same time then their is no hope for democracy. Does he think democracy is a ‘god that failed’?

            Or, is this long, long series just a Rorschach Inkblot test with no intrinsic argument or point at all; just an experiment in holding attention through fast-clips of odd or extreme images combined with an authoritative voice hopscotching from one subject to another. I don’t know. I stopped watch the pinwheel whir midway through episode 5.

            1. Jeff W

              “…just an experiment in holding attention through fast-clips of odd or extreme images combined with an authoritative voice hopscotching from one subject to another.”

              My very first comment on this site was about how Adam Curtis in his All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace was “engaging in a bit of hand-waving and throwing up dust in presenting ‘misleading, spurious and categorically inaccurate claims’ leading to wrong conclusions.”

              I don’t think Curtis is merely holding our attention—he employs a kind of implicature with his succession of images and words where the viewer is led to infer some kind of conclusion or another. (The words themselves might be true but the inferences the viewer is asked to draw may not be.) I think Curtis’s films are compelling to watch—if they are—not because what he is leading us to infer is sound—much in All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace was not—but just because of, as you suggest, the way he takes us from one inference to the next.

      2. Phillip Cross

        Whether you agree with his framing or not, you have to agree that it is one of the most information diverse and dense presentations you’ve seen for a long time. An absolutely unparalleled assembly of archive footage.

        Next to a typical US documentary, it’s like the Encyclopedia Brittanica vs. P. D. Eastman’s “Go dog go”.

          1. Phillip Cross

            Can you give me an example of something that you think exceeds it in that respect? I’d be interested to watch!

  12. drumlin woodchuckles

    What if some DepPres wannabe were to run in only a few mid-to-late primaries in Electoral-Vote-Heavy states and win those states? That could make it irrelevant who wins the “early primaries” and/or even Super Tuesday.

    I don’t know why some Dem Nom-seeker hasn’t already thought of that. He/she could run in the California primary on the slogan
    ” You! will Not! For get US!”

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Shatner is Canadian, so he is ineligible. Actually, I was trying to match the cadence of the White Right Power chant . . ” You will not replace us!”

        It has an interesting cadence which many different phrases can be matched to.

        Teachers being extorted to return to work in festering cauldrons of coronavid can chant:
        You will not infect us!

        White people being harangued in Maoist Race-Wokeness Struggle Sessions can chant:
        You will not command me! or . . . You will not command us! or . . . You will not extort me! etc.

        Anyone being hustled to support something-or-other can say: I am not your bell-hop!

        All to that same cadence.

        1. Wukchumni

          Shatner has a nice ranch here, but i’ve never laid eyes on him, and he’s seldom seen, but once upon a time he lived here for long stretches i’m told about 30 years ago.

          Best story i’ve heard is he was on a powerboat on the lake, and the main fork of the river empties into it, and someone got stranded on a little island in the middle of it, and who comes by and rescues them, but the starship captain. What could the person being rescued say really aside from ‘one to beam up’.

        2. polecat

          “Maoist Race-Wokeness Stuggle Sessions”

          Declare that ‘I won’t play your victim game’ to your pursuers, and simply walk away. Should be good coverage for all bases, no? J.M. Greer has covered this ground in his past ADR posts.

          1. ObjectiveFunction

            I prefer the shorter Nassim Taleb riposte where the second word is “off”.

            But it really needs to be the final word, immediately followed by an unfriend or whatever.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I never tried analyzing Bloomberg’s 2020 strategy, if he even had one. His goal was to destroy the Sanders drive. As soon as Sanders was functionally driven out of the Primary race, Bloomberg dropped out too.

        1. tegnost

          yeah, he was in it up to the debate solely to run we ain’t socialist ads, at least that’s what it was on the otherwise non partisan sports radio back in the stone ages of last march? was it? It’s a blur…reading the iowa brought it all back.

    1. Ben Joseph

      Re: Perez unhappy with calendar

      You know what would be the most diverse start to the primary calendar, Tom?
      Every state having its primary on one day. But you couldn’t rig the results, could you?

  13. a different chris

    So the Publix thing is interesting — the country seems deadlocked as the right-wing party simply is going to obstruct and the supposed left-wing party, even if they do ever pass a law nobody can make any sense out of it anyway.

    But a corporation is different. Remember that even in the states of a very predominant “color”, red or blue, you get like 35-40% of voters seemingly haplessly voting for the other side. And I’m sure they, like me, feel hapless.

    Maybe not so much, though? If you are Publix or whoever that depends on customers – your margin is *not* what Mitch McConnell needs to obstruct or ram thru or whatever. If you lose 5% of your shoppers overnight that’s a big, big, emergency boardroom meeting type hit. You don’t get to family blog off Democrats just because it’s Oklahoma, you don’t get to family-blog off Republicans just because it’s the state of Washington. You gotta make nice.

    Man I don’t have enough popcorn. It’s interesting that Midwestern wingnuts seem to get this (Koch brothers even though they don’t have “storefronts” per say, the Waltons of course are pretty circumspect) but the Southern variety just seem to see nothing but a mirror.

    1. phoenix

      The Publix thing is just another idpol-fueled case of the supposed left eating its own. Publix is private and wholly owned by past and present employees. Also supposedly never had a layoff. All things considered, far from the worst organization. But it should be destroyed because of the unrelated actions of a heir who has no control over the company.

  14. JerryDenim

    Thank you Lambert for the link to the Wilmington NC Reconstruction era coup d’état. Very nice to see the event gaining awareness. I grew up in the area and never heard of the event until I heard it pitched as a documentary movie idea while in a film making class at UNCW in the late nineties. I frequently see the event bandied about these days as an illustration of the dangers of white supremacy, but I think that misrepresents the genesis and motives of the event which are incredibly important. It was a white supremacist mob that was deliberately inflamed and activated by colluding (conspiratorial) southern elites from the Planter Class. An early example of media psych-op, Id-Pol divide and conquer operation. Powerful Planters with railroad, banking and newspaper interests whipped up a race panic and aimed the mob right at the material-minded and redistribution oriented, biracial political collation of working class southerners that had taken control of the local government in Wilmington. True Populists. This collation of “Fusionists” threatened the power and wealth of the entire southern Planter class who had weathered the Civil War with their fortunes intact. Nearly identical to the ‘Readjuster’ party you’ve astutely written about in Virginia during the same era. Nothing scares the rich and powerful in this country more than the prospect of working class whites joining forces with their race minority brethren who share their material plight. When it starts to happen people always end up dying, as this is the line elite power will not tolerate being crossed. After 40 years of dormancy, the rise of a true progressive left intent on challenging the neoliberal status quo inside the Democratic Party is once again making the rich and powerful nervous. This is why I think elites have the divide and conquer Id-Pol Wurlitzer knob set to an eleven now full-time now. They are afraid.

    1. Alex Cox

      Is there any chance of a new left-right fusion
      party in the US? Based around simple policies like bring the troops/jobs home?

  15. fresno dan

    “Mapping the Trump Meridian in Texas” [The Nation].
    “According to the Texas secretary of state, the voting shifts were substantial, with Trump collecting more than 30 percent of the vote in every border county. In a majority of those counties, Trump received 10 percent more votes than he had in 2016, with some, like Starr County, showing shifts as high as 28 percent.”
    Laurel, 36, voted for Barack Obama in 2008, but she recalls the experience as unfulfilling. Her love affair with specific, decidedly liberal social causes—gay marriage, the legalization of marijuana—piloted her to the Democratic Party in her early years, but the party’s stance toward Latino voters alienated her. She didn’t appreciate being told what political ideals she ought to hold. “You’re either a Republican or a Democrat, and the media puts you in little boxes, and once they decide where you go…if you’re a conservative, you’re either super money-hungry or a racist,” she told us. “I don’t have a box!”
    Uh, now I am no mathomatrcian, but going back to second grade, when dinosaurs ruled the earth, 70% beats 30%. Of course, 90% or 99% would be better. I have even read that Trump increased his share of black male voters. So maybe, just maybe, there is some flaw in the campaign strategy…

  16. marcyincny

    I’m not sure about 91-DIVOC but their report may be thrown off by several states adjusting their stats by several thousand in the past week, chiefly Ohio.

  17. pjay

    “…senators from both parties agreed that there should be a 9/11-style investigation into the Jan. 6 Capitol riots…”

    There is no doubt in my mind that any “investigation” into the Capitol riots will be a “9/11 style” investigation.

  18. chuck roast

    “Senators and impeachment managers: The trial is over but the work isn’t done”

    I can be kinda dense, but I think I’m finally getting it…Riots, Riots, Riots replaces Russia, Russia, Russia. Where is Maddow on this? One of the brethren must be watching the beast. Is she frothing? Muller is available for a new investigation. How about he leads the 6/1 Commission? He can use a win. And there is so much important work for the legislators to do in order to preserve our democracy…as long as it’s not substantive like M4A, $15/hr, anti-monopoly and blah, blah, blah. And where exactly is my two grand? I mean $1,400. But they already gave me two grand, and then six hundred bucks…does that mean I now owe them money? I guess I better focus on the riots.

    1. Samuel Conner

      Today I received a letter from the IRS informing me that my 2nd stimulus payment was on the way. There were instructions on what to do if the payment did not arrive within a week of receipt of this letter.

      Oddly, it arrived weeks ago. The letter is weeks late.

      Maybe everything is on schedule, for some definition of “schedule.”

      1. Duck1

        I got the card and just withdrew the $600 at the approved ATM machine, I think it was called “one point”. I am in a metro area so there were a few relatively close. I took $200 from the first machine a few days ago, and today took 2 $200 withdrawals. Maybe you can do 3 withdrawals, worth a try. Now I have 30-$20 bills, so guess I will spend cash for a while.
        Threw the card mail in the junk pile for a week or so until I took a second look as well.

  19. jr

    “Word on the Street” Desk

    So I just called my local Chinese takeout for dinner. I offered to pay cash but the guy said they can’t take it. “The money won’t get here.” He mentioned a particular delivery company whose name I forgot. The implication seemed to be this was a problem with the company as a whole, not just a driver or two. It just got me wondering what the petty crime rate on the part of the delivery guys is. I’m not making a judgement, those desperate guys (and ladies) work like devils for crap money. I might steal a bit if I were doing that job. But I was just curious how prevalent it is. Apparently some companies are worse than others.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Back in the olden times before there was an app for everything and people delivered for an individual business, stealing was probably more difficult. The restaurant knew the cost of all the food you took out the door and you were expected to bring that much back later in the evening. Not that there weren’t hustles, having witnessed and performed some myself, but you couldn’t just blatantly pocket money.

      If you work for an app where you never meet your actual boss and are taking deliveries for multiple establishments every night, I can see how it would be a lot easier to just walk off with cash it if were allowed as payment.

  20. richard

    whoa those lighthouses look so cool! Kind of lovecraftian, although that’s an overused adj. these days. Help with alternatives?

  21. Wukchumni

    Not really mentioned in regards to the extremely frigid weather is the idea we’re in the midst of a solar minimum, maybe a Maunder?

    Something akin to 1709…

    The Great Frost, as it was known in England, or Le Grand Hiver (“The Great Winter”), as it was known in France, was an extraordinarily cold winter in Europe in 1708–1709, and was the coldest European winter during the past 500 years. The severe cold occurred during the time of low sunspot activity known as the Maunder Minimum.


    1. RMO

      It will be another 50 years before we could tell if the current minimum will even come close to the Maunder Minimum, but solar activity has been decreasing on average since the circa 1950 peak. 2000 on the peaks have been low and the minimums longer – this coincided with the me finally being able to afford both a decent telescope and a solar filter. Got the gear, but not much to see!

  22. drumlin woodchuckles

    ” Likewise, it has erased any need to mention the thousands of Black revolutionaries in Haiti who fought for abolition for 13 long years, in the process creating the first independent and slavery-free nation of the American hemisphere.”

    Wait! Weren’t some of the Native Indian Nations of the American hemisphere . . . slavery-free? If none were, then the above sentence is true. If some were, then they should not be forgotten about in our thinking.

  23. drumlin woodchuckles

    About carmakers and chips . . . . it would be nice if some carmakers went partway back to making their cars partway analog. I wonder how much brute silicon force is merely substituting for a thoughtless heedless lack of smooth analog grace in design and technology.

    1. rowlf

      Makes one wonder if there could be a market for a maintainable car like the Checker Marathon or a Lada VAZ-2101 or Lada Niva. I drive an older Honda Civic and don’t desire any more technology. I just want it to run as needed. (Cue all the farm trucks in my past)

      Part of the appeal of old Jeeps is everyone knows how to maintain the CJs even though they break down all the time. There is a person in North Georgia USA that imports Mitsubishi built CJ-3Bs that I have a hard time ignoring.

      1. Yves Smith

        I like the basic 2003 Buick LeSabre I drive. Problem is I don’t know if any manufacturer could bring themselves to make a simple car. You’d at least have to have the heavy duty airbags, which leads to shallow windows and lots of blind spots with typical designs.

        1. rowlf

          The GM 3.8 liter engine and drivetrain was a sweet spot for reliability. GM, like Toyota, likes to reuse components across platforms making parts availability and harvesting good. My day job is improving fleet reliability, so a boring engine, drivetrain and platform is appealing to me.

    1. Daryl

      Crenshaw’s a real genius. If you ever want to amuse yourself, look at the fractal work of art that is the “district” they had to draw up to get him elected.

    2. FluffytheObeseCat

      Good article. Texas didn’t bother to winterize its gas pipelines or its turbines, and now it’s suffering. And the usual political grandstanders are BSing at top volume through it all.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Perhaps they never used to have to winterize their gas pipelines or turbines. These polar vortexes may be an artifact of jet stream weakening and north-south wandering. And that weakening and wandering may be an artifact of the overall lowering of net average heat-and-temperature differences between the polar latitudes and the non-polar latitudes. If that is true, then more global warming will mean more jet stream wandering and more such polar vortex outbreaks. So Texas will have to expect this near-zero weather every few years now. So will the rest of the South.

        A co-worker from Egypt recently told me that in the last few years Cairo has had winter cold snaps which the Cairenes are not used to. Even as people are reporting summers being hotter than remembered.

        A co-employee in a different part of the hospital who knows I have a hobby interest in global warming issues told me recently that he is from Somalia, and this winter family and friends still in Somalia have been reporting cold at levels they are just not used to and have no winter clothing for.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Maybe Nancy Pelosi & old Joe should rethink their support for a 9/11-style commission to ‘investigate’ the US Capitol riots. By the sound of what Greenwald turned up, that would lead to a spectacular explosion of the narrative of what happened that day. And once the truth of those events starts emerging, it is not like the Democrats can end a 9/11-style commission like they did with the second impeachment process. The Republicans would not let them.

      1. Carolinian

        There’s also the question about whether Pelosi turned down a National Guard presence that day because she didn’t want “bad optics.”

  24. Angie Neer

    The sparks video: I’m puzzling over the mechanism for this. I think what we’re seeing is two energized wires shorting together (you can see them flopping around and touching), and I guess the arc travels because of its own magnetic field pushing it around, or perhaps pushing the wires apart behind it. Certainly dramatic!

  25. John Anthony La Pietra

    Thanks for the continuing contrarianism of opposing the fool’s-gold standard of not-really-hand-marked-hand-counted-paper-ballot “reform” in HR1.

    The bill would also quintuple the threshold to qualify for matching funds, as Richard Winger points out at Ballot Access News. That in turn would make it much harder for alternative-party candidates to qualify, and thus also much harder for them to get over the barriers and get on as many state ballots.

    And that at a point in time where the percentage of voters identifying as neither R nor D is not only greater than the share for either R or D — as it generally has been over the 17 years Gallup has been polling for that. In fact, for the first time, the “independent” share is as great as both Ds and Rs together. . . .

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