2:00PM Water Cooler 2/2/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I got wrapped around the axle on AOC. More in a bit. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day


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…. (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:

At some point, say by the third week in February*, we’re going to need to see these curves going more vertical, or else we can conclude that the vaccination rate is basically a function of our extraordinarily [family-blogged] health care system, and “competence” and “leadership” operate only at the margin. Needless to say, I’d like to see the curves going more vertical. NOTE * “He’s only been President ___ weeks, give him time.”

Case count by United States region:

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

California slips below Texas. But Texas is rising. I don’t like that. A cloud no bigger than a man’s hand? (1 Kings 18:44)

Test positivity:

Nowhere near 3%, anywhere.


I wondered if New England would repeat its earlier, and unique, stairstep pattern; now it has. 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):

There’s that slow rise in the fatality rate again. Nice to see a little drop in deaths, may it continue.


“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

Capitol Seizure

“‘Be ready to fight’: FBI probe of U.S. Capitol riot finds evidence detailing coordination of an assault” [WaPo]. “FBI agents around the country are working to unravel the various motives, relationships, goals and actions of the hundreds of Trump supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Some inside the bureau have described the Capitol riot investigation as their biggest case since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and a top priority of the agents’ work is to determine the extent to which that violence and chaos was preplanned and coordinated.” • And if so, by whom….

“‘Blame Trump’ defense from alleged Capitol rioters dovetails with Democrats’ impeachment case” [CNN]. “One by one, die-hard supporters of former President Donald Trump are now blaming him for their actions that day, after being charged by federal prosecutors and facing possible jail time. A lawyer for one rioter who allegedly attacked police officers with a baseball bat said he was “inspired” by Trump’s incendiary speech at a rally beforehand. The so-called QAnon shaman, whose horned bearskin headdress made him go viral, now claims he was “duped” by Trump, his lawyer said. At this point, the statements may be more of a public relations strategy than an articulated legal defense. But they dovetail with Democrats’ case in favor of impeaching and convicting Trump; they agree that the former president incited the deadly insurrection that overwhelmed the Capitol on January 6.”

“A 2009 warning about right-wing extremism was engulfed by politics. There are signs it’s happening again.” [USA Today]. “In April 2009, federal intelligence officials issued a prescient warning to police departments around the country. ‘Right-wing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to exploit their skills and knowledge derived from military training and combat,” experts in the Department of Homeland Security wrote. ‘These skills and knowledge have the potential to boost the capabilities of extremists – including lone wolves or small terrorist cells – to carry out violence.’ It was one of DHS’ most explicit mentions of homegrown terrorists since 9/11, one with a direct connection to the military. But the call to action was effectively buried after powerful Republican politicians and their allies in the right-wing media launched broadsides against President Barack Obama’s administration and Democrats, alleging that they had disrespected the men and women in the U.S. military while attempting to surveil and silence conservatives. The blowback shifted the debate away from how to actually address the threat and into another partisan public spectacle.” • Translating, the Democrats — assuming good faith — were weak. Yet another 2009 debacle from Obama.

“How to fix our domestic terrorist problem” [Washington Examiner]. “We saw five dead in the Jan. 6 attempted coup d’etat. We saw possible assassination plots against both former Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. We saw coercion designed to prevent certification of President Biden’s Electoral College victory. We now see the Capitol necessarily secured behind razor wire. But we also see some Republican members of Congress trying to sneak guns onto the House floor. One has even called for violence. It is time to confront these putschists.” One suggested measure: ‘Make fire and police departments that receive federal grants have their members sign commitments not to engage in acts to overthrow the government.'” • Hmm.


“House Dems make their impeachment case in pretrial brief” [ABC]. “‘The only honorable path at that point was for President Trump to accept the results and concede his electoral defeat. Instead, he summoned a mob to Washington, exhorted them into a frenzy, and aimed them like a loaded cannon down Pennsylvania Avenue,’ the managers wrote in their brief submitted ahead of next week’s trial of the former president.” •

Transition to Biden

“White House Reporters: Biden Team Wanted Our Questions in Advance” [Daily Beast]. “According to three sources with knowledge of the matter, as well as written communications reviewed by The Daily Beast, the new president’s communications staff have already on occasion probed reporters to see what questions they plan on asking new White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki when called upon during briefings. The requests prompted concerns among the White House press corps, whose members, like many reporters, are sensitive to the perception that they are coordinating with political communications staffers.” • Can you imagine if Trump did that…. (A couple of agregrious Psaki beat sweeteners here and here.)

“NBC Removes Story on Biden Official’s Ties to $500,000 in AIPAC Donations” [Haaretz]. “In order to warrant publication, [the story] it needed on-the-record quotes from critics, rather than anonymous ones.” Come on, man. We just had four years of 24/7 anonymous sourcing on RussiaGate.

“Evidence of Things Not Seen” (podcast) [The West Wing]. • If you want to listen to Biden promise the $2000 checks, the clip is right at the start. He goes on at some length about it.

Come on, man:

“Democrats risk unintended Medicare cuts if they pass partisan Covid relief” [NBC]. “But under the Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010, known as PAYGO, new laws that raise the national debt automatically trigger offsetting cuts in some safety net programs… Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who will shepherd the reconciliation process and has been a supporter of expanding safety net programs, will work to prevent the cuts, said his spokesman, Keane Bhatt.” • 2010. Another Obama-era debacle (and one which Pelosi, among other top Democrats, supports.)

“Hunter Biden’s Guilty Laptop” [The American Conservative]. • Worth reading in full; this is not cray cray. (It’s worth noting that TAC broke the John Weaver story, a story to which the Times, after a leisurely two weeks, gave its imprimatur).

Democrats en Deshabille

“5 wacky things Senate Democrats will do instead of ending the filibuster” [Jon Walker, The Week]. “It would take the Senate Democratic majority roughly five minutes to use the so-called “nuclear option,” to end the Senate filibuster rule and pass any bill they want with a simple majority. The problem is a few Senate Democrats, like Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), refuse to do that. So the next two years in politics are going to be largely focused on the bizarre and often convoluted ways Democrats can pass their agenda without Republican support and without officially ending the filibuster. Here are five, ranked by likelihood.” • I don’t understand this. Sinema is, as Wikipedia puts it, “openly bisexal.” Why isn’t her ascriptive identity giving us a direct readout for progressive politics? More: “Ultimately, the rules of the Senate are whatever the vice president plus 50 senators say they are. So Democrats can get around any filibuster for policies they truly care about, even if they insist on “keeping the legislative filibuster.” They can do it by bending the rules of reconciliation, or by turning the filibuster into some grueling months-long endurance challenge which eventually ends, or by redefining the filibuster in some completely new way. All it takes is the will and a plan.”

Obama Legacy


Nothing would fundamentally change.” –Joe Biden, to large donors.

“Biden administration eyes Rahm Emanuel for ambassadorship” [NBC]. “President Joe Biden is considering former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel for a high-profile ambassadorship, potentially to China, three people with knowledge of the discussions said.” Rahm Emmanuel, China hand. More: “Becoming the U.S. ambassador to Japan is another option that Biden administration officials have discussed with Emanuel, one of the people with knowledge of the discussions said.” • “You don’t have to do this, Joe, you really don’t.” Please don’t. Please don’t confirm me in all my priors.

Realignment and Legitimacy

I’m filing the AOC stuff here, for reasons that will become obvious in a moment:

Here is the entire AOC Instagram on the Capitol Seizure:

It’s an hour-and-a-half long, and I just don’t have time to listen to it all. It would be great any readers had to time and the inclination to pick out the highlights and put them in comments (and if you do, please include time codes).

“AOC on Instagram Live: Recounting Jan. 6 attack details draws more than 160K viewers” [Staunton News-Leader]. “[S]he laid out the fact that people knew violence was coming on Jan. 6. Members of Congress, trying to help her, sent messages as early as the Thursday before Jan. 6 that they expected bad things to go down as the Congress moved to certify the Electoral College results of the November election.” • The News-Leader is a Gannet paper in the Shenendoah Valley, but they didn’t pull the story from the wires, they had a reporter write it up. The last politician I can remember who made the story like this was, well… Donald Trump.

“Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Opens Up About Trauma in a Moving and Powerful Instagram Live” [Marie Claire]. “On Monday night, in a brave and candid video on Instagram Live, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez revealed her deep trauma following the Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol, and the prior traumas that had made it even more triggering. Ocasio-Cortez shared that she is a survivor of sexual assault: ‘I haven’t told many people in my life,” she said. She began crying during her retelling of the events of Jan. 6, but fought to continue to tell her story. ‘All of your traumas can, kind of, intersect and interact,’ she explained. Ocasio-Cortez compared Republicans’ insistence on telling her and other survivors of the Jan. 6 attack to ‘get over it’ to the tactics used by abusers. She added: ‘The folks [false note, there] who are saying we should move on, we shouldn’t have accountability, etc., are saying: ‘Can you just forget about this so that we can do it again?’…I’m not going to let it happen to me again … and I’m not going to let it happen to our country.” • I have mixed reactions to this. On the one hand the “we should just move on” attitude has done the country a lot of damage. Obama’s version of this was “we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards,” and as a direct result Gina Haspel, a torturer, headed the CIA. On the other, I would want expert testimony on whether traumas “intersect and interact,” and how they do. On yet another, I’m deeply suspicious of the concept that trauma conveys authenticity, especially political authenticity. If trauma did convey authenticity, then PSTD-suffering soldiers would make the best cops. Finally, it’s a category error, exactly on the order of confusing government with a household, to equate personal trauma with political violence. They may have similar roots (say, deaths of despair), and they may feel the same to the person experiencing them, but they are products of difference systems.

“AOC: Ocasio-Cortez recalls Capitol raid, calls for accountability” [Al Jazeera]. “US Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has described being terrified for her life during the storming of the US Capitol, doubling down on calls for Republican politicians to be held accountable. In an emotional broadcast on Monday night, New York House member Ocasio-Cortez said she was harassed by those she identified as fans of former President Donald Trump for days before the January 6 incident and was warned by other members of Congress to be “careful” on the day of the rally.” • To me, it looks like AOC — a very, very talented politician — is picking up the power that’s lying in the street. First, the “survivor” rhetoric, like it or not — I don’t; see my comment above — speaks directly to the bourgeois feminists of the Clintonite wing of the Democrat Party. Who else is doing that? Second, the “accountability” rhetoric speaks directly to the broad (albeit PMC) base that really wants to stick it to the Republicans, bipartisanship be damned. Who else is doing that? (The pink pussy hat brigade will, of course, do whatever the leadership tells them to, but that’s their initial, default, setting). Third, in a party with a weak bench thirsting for non-geriatric leadership, AOC is stepping forward. Who else is doing that? Finally, speaking directly to her fan base (i.e., one assumes, voters, ultimately) on Instagram — as, apparently, she while cooking (!) — bypasses the press entirely. Who else is doing that? Again, one thinks of Trump. I wonder if she does A/B testing? (There are all sorts of reasons to dislike AOC on policy — I notices a long time ago she was saying “working class” a lot less — but there’s no denying her talents as a politician.)


“Why are grandiose narcissists more effective at organizational politics? Means, motive, and opportunity” [Personality and Individual Differences]. “We report the results of three studies that show: (1) those higher in narcissism are more likely than those who are lower to see organizations in political terms (opportunity), (2) they are more willing to engage in organizational politics (motive), and (3) they are more skilled political actors (means).”

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 Home Prices: Annual US Home Price Appreciation in 2020 Outpaced 2019 Levels by 50%” [Econintersect]. “CoreLogic’s Home Price Index (HPI) home prices for December 2020 exceeded expectations in 2020, closing out the year with the highest annual home price gain since February 2014 in December at 9.2%…. Price growth exceeded my forecast for the year – home prices are continuing very strong.”

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Manufacturing: “Chinese syringe producers under pressure as vaccination programmes drive order surge” [Reuters]. “Chinese syringe makers are warning that they may only be able to fulfil some orders as late as June, as global coronavirus vaccination programmes put unprecedented levels of pressure on their factory lines and snarl the country’s own vaccine efforts.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 58 Greed (previous close: 39 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 55 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 2 at 12:42pm.

The Biosphere

I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm:

“Moonstruck sleep: Synchronization of human sleep with the moon cycle under field conditions” [Science]. “Our results show that sleep starts later and is shorter on the nights before the full moon when moonlight is available during the hours following dusk. Our data suggest that moonlight likely stimulated nocturnal activity and inhibited sleep in preindustrial communities and that access to artificial light may emulate the ancestral effect of early-night moonlight.”

Health Care

“Single Dose Administration, And The Influence Of The Timing Of The Booster Dose On Immunogenicity and Efficacy Of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (AZD1222) Vaccine” (preprint) [The Lancet]. “ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccination programmes aimed at vaccinating a large proportion of the population with a single dose, with a second dose given after a 3 month period is an effective strategy for reducing disease, and may be the optimal for rollout of a pandemic vaccine when supplies are limited in the short term.” The Methods and Findings sections are above my paygrade. Have a ball, vaccinologists!

“Diet modifications — including more wine and cheese — may help reduce cognitive decline, study suggests” [Science Daily]. n = 1,787 aging adults (from 46 to 77 years of age, at the completion of the study).

Here are four of the most significant findings from the study:

  1. Cheese, by far, was shown to be the most protective food against age-related cognitive problems, even late into life;
  2. The daily consumption of alchohol, particularly red wine, was related to improvements in cognitive function;
  3. Weekly consumption of lamb, but not other red meats, was shown to improve long-term cognitive prowess; and
  4. Excessive consumption of salt is bad, but only individuals already at risk for Alzheimer’s Disease may need to watch their intake to avoid cognitive problems over time.

“I was pleasantly surprised that our results suggest that responsibly eating cheese and drinking red wine daily are not just good for helping us cope with our current COVID-19 pandemic, but perhaps also dealing with an increasingly complex world that never seems to slow down,” Willette said. “While we took into account whether this was just due to what well-off people eat and drink, randomized clinical trials are needed to determine if making easy changes in our diet could help our brains in significant ways.”

Inclination matching neatly with necessity, here!

Groves of Academe

“Why I Am Leaving Academia” [Well-Read Herring]. “Today, almost a year after I officially became Dr. Herring, I resigned from my postdoc at Ghent University. There are several reasons that motivated this decision but the main one is that I no longer enjoy the work enough to justify how demanding it is…. As I neared the end of my PhD, I worried about my future. It is hard to explain to those who are not in academia just how bad things are for those who are starting out. Say the words “job market” within earshot of a junior researcher and watch fatalistic dread cloud their face. I was relatively lucky because I secured a research job straight out of my PhD. But despite being somewhat cushy, my position was still fixed-term. To hope to one day obtain an elusive permanent contract, I had to accept that my current job would most likely be the first in a series of short-term contracts in various distant locations. To succeed in academia, I would have to make a number of sacrifices. The simple truth is that I am no longer willing to make these sacrifices. A great deal of enthusiasm is needed to survive early career academia with its endless applications, rejections and precarity. Sadly, this enthusiasm is too often exploited. For instance, academics are not paid to publish their research in journals. To guarantee the quality of the research being published in these journals, they review the findings of other researchers, also for free. But journal publishers tend to charge thousands in yearly subscription fees to university libraries. Increasingly, higher education staff suffer casualisation and unreasonable workloads, and the pandemic (or rather, the ways in which governments and university high-ups are dealing with the pandemic) is making things worse. I do not mean to discourage anyone who is currently working in academia or who might be considering it as a profession. The enthusiasm and persistence of researchers is admirable and important. Their work should be celebrated and their enthusiasm should be nourished rather than exploited. I am proud of my friends who have managed to make things work despite all these obstacles. For my part, I have come to terms with the fact that academia is not for me.”

Guillotine Watch

Amazon is a corporation. It’s not “excited” about anything:

Structurally, of course, the Amazon HQ “helix” is a giant screw. Which makes sense, because their logo is a d*ck with an outsized glans. Once you see it….

Class Warfare

“FTC says Amazon took away $62 million in tips from drivers” [ABC]. “The Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday that for more than two years, Amazon didn’t pass on tips to drivers, even though it promised shoppers and drivers it would do so. The FTC said Amazon didn’t stop taking the money until 2019, when the company found out about the FTC’s investigation…. The drivers were part of Amazon’s Flex business, which started in 2015 and allows people to pick up and deliver Amazon packages with their own cars. The drivers are independent workers, and are not Amazon employees. The FTC said Amazon at first promised workers that they would be paid $18 to $25 per hour, and also said they would receive 100% of tips left to them by customers on the app. But in 2016, the FTC said Amazon started paying drivers a lower hourly rate and used the tips to make up the difference. Amazon didn’t disclose the change to drivers, the FTC said, and the tips it took from drivers amounted to $61.7 billion.” • And a “team” at Amazon reprogrammed the app to steal tips. Managers, programmers, testers, documentation specialists, accountants, database wizards, etc. Nobody said a word. All corrupt to the bone. “Learn to code!”

“A hungry America needs new food for thought” [The Hill]. “President Biden’s decision to issue an executive order last week asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to increase food stamp benefits and provide more nutrition to children is a painful reminder of how America has enjoined the global hunger movement as both participant and leader. Census data show that 30 million American households reported periods of not having enough to eat last month, a sharp jump from before the coronavirus pandemic. Our nation was in the midst of a hunger crisis long before the pandemic. But COVID-19 has caused far more families to go hungry, with one in seven households and more than one in five Black and Latino households unable to get enough food to eat.”


I imagine the Trillbillies will have something to say about this….

News of the Wired

“Tony Bennett’s Battle With Alzheimer’s” [AARP]. “But Tony was a considerably more muted presence during the recording of the new album with [Lady] Gaga. In raw documentary footage of the sessions, he speaks rarely, and when he does his words are halting; at times, he seems lost and bewildered. Gaga, clearly aware of his condition, keeps her utterances short and simple (as is recommended by experts in the disease when talking to Alzheimer’s patients). ‘You sound so good, Tony,’ she tells him at one point. ‘Thanks,’ is his one-word response. She says that she thinks ‘all the time’ about their 2015 tour. Tony looks at her wordlessly. ‘Wasn’t that fun every night?’ she prompts him. ‘Yeah,’ he says, uncertainly. The pain and sadness in Gaga’s face is clear at such moments — but never more so than in an extraordinarily moving sequence in which Tony (a man she calls ‘an incredible mentor, and friend, and father figure’) sings a solo passage of a love song. Gaga looks on, from behind her mic, her smile breaking into a quiver, her eyes brimming, before she puts her hands over her face and sobs.”

From Portland, ME:

Portland is practically a Boston suburb (although with better beer).

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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 (RH):

RH writes: “Overlooking a pond.” See NC on ponds here.

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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. Dave

    I just started limiting wine with dinner to 3 days a week or so, because my doctor said it was associated with age-based cognitive decline–so I don’t know what to believe any more. (She is also against cheese.) Whom, if anyone, do you trust for interpretations of nutrition science?

    1. farragut

      “Trust the Science (which makes you feel good)!” :-)

      I feel better when I eat more cheese and drink more red wine, thus, I shall follow my own science. I would eat more lamb but it’s awfully expensive around here.

    2. dcblogger

      dairy, alas, is loaded with cholesterol and arachidonic acid and very bad for you. I say this as someone who eats cheese every day. but alas, should not.

      1. Yves Smith

        Cholesterol is not bad for you. This is a completely debunked theory. Your body makes cholesterol. And if you are worried, simple sugars are the thing to be worried about.

        The total cholesterol level in women correlated with the lowest level of all factor mortality is 270.

        And red meat is the biggest source of arachidonic acid.


        This very wordy discussion of bovine milk consumption in the Netherlands, where milk and cheese consumption are higher than in the US, merely pointed out they couldn’t get enough Omega 3 fats by eating dairy. And dairy wasn’t the main source of Omega 6s either:


      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        I once read a little book by Dr. George Price called Coronaries Chlorine Cholesterol. In briefest,
        it laid out his theory ( and some experiments which appeared to support it) that since the rise of arteriosclerosis tracks closely the rise of municipal water chlorination, that maybe chlorination somehow caused arteriosclerosis. He theorised that chlorine in the body damaged blood vessel linings which the body then tried to spackle over with otherwise innocuous cholesterol. I will not do a reprise of the book here. People can look it up and read it if they wish.


    3. Keith

      Doctors are not nutritionists; plus, wine and cheese has been around for a long time, so I am with the latter.

      1. Janie

        Rumpole of the Bailey: Doctor tells him to abstain, She Who Must Be Obeyed enforces the rule, doctor dies suddenly, Rumpole does as he pleases.


      One of my all time fave bumper stickers i still remember from 30 or 40 years ago: “stay fit, eat well, exercise regularly, and die anyway.”

    5. polecat

      I’ve been on a pizza-making kick for the last couple weeks, so have had plenty of cheese to go with the other toppings .. with a glass of wine (or mead) as a compliment. I feel cognizance surging through my neocortex with every slice!

      I don’t feel that I can justify using the term ‘smartness’ … as my culinary creations were not IoS derived.

  2. Alex

    Jeff Bezos seems to like d*ck-shaped things. Just look at the Prime swoosh or the Blue Origin logo. Yeah, that’s totally just a feather. Ok.

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      It’s a damn cool looking building though, not that I will ever buy anything from Amazon.

      A fairy tale building built by a troll, in the old-fashioned meaning of the word.

      1. Darius

        It would be if it were made of stone. Like a modern-day Tower of Babel. This design looks like some product you buy online and throw away after a few years when its all dirty and parts start to break. After 10 years, people are going to really start hating that derelict eyesore.

        The Amazon Screw, a building, as well as certain type of corporate interaction.

        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          Chia pet was my first thought. Rising damp the second. Are there any duffers out there tracking these green architectural features from CGI to the dead plants in situ?

        2. polecat

          I wonder, could one skateboard down that spiral, without getting screwed?

          ”Here dude, hold my box”.

      2. Mikel

        I’ve collected about $500 in Amazon gift cards.
        Saving for one big purchase so that I don’t contribute to continuos traffic on the site.

      1. ambrit

        The Hanging Gardens of Arlington.
        “Beside the river of Arlington, we sat down and wept, when we remembered Democracy.”

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          ” By the River of Ar ling ton , where we sat down , and there we we-ept . . . when we re mem bered free-ee dom”

          (imagine the tune of that Jimmy Cliff song . . .)

  3. cocomaan

    Dammit Lambert, the Amazon logo is ruined hahahaha!

    Placing bets now on how many invasive species will be planted on the Amazon penis headquarters building.

    My guess, at a minimum, stinky Bradford Pears and various invasive turf grasses.

  4. wol

    “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Opens Up About Trauma in a Moving and Powerful Instagram Live”
    And Tara Reade is Memory-Holed.

    1. Pelham

      It’s kind of breathtaking, what the media did to Tara Reade.

      Someday I hope someone compiles a complete list of all instances of memory-holing, non-coverage, use of anonymous resources, repetition of falsehoods, silencing, canceling, censorship, advocacy of dumping the 1st Amendment and the other journalistic crimes of our media over the past five years or so.

  5. Tvc15

    The “side hustle” thing makes me want to vomit! Why aren’t we questioning why we need one…rhetorical question. I wish Dolly had refused this request.

    1. cocomaan

      Combine it with the article about the researcher quitting academia. The fact is that anyone who is still climbing in their career (ie, people 50 and under) need to have a side hustle to survive. Virtually no job is safe anymore. If you aren’t under pressure on the budget side, you’re under pressure to make loyalty oaths in the form of political statements (“I disavow white supremacy” or “I think Trump actually won the election” or whatever). I have family members who are well-credentialed with graduate degrees and certifications who are on one year rolling contracts, or fired/laid off constantly. Few have a stable job.

      As someone put it on here about academia, and I wish I could remember their name to attribute, “the older generations kicked the ladder out behind them.”

      If you’re still a worker, you need to hustle every day to reach even a modicum of stability. Welcome to 2021.

      1. a different chris

        >“Why I Am Leaving Academia”

        The problem this person has, and apparently does not know it — academia is a lagging adopter of the world they are “escaping” to.

        > had to accept that my current job would most likely be the first in a series of short-term contracts in various distant locations. To succeed in academia, I would have to make a number of sacrifices.

        Yeah nobody in the non-academic world ever has to move. Nobody makes any sacrifices. Oh boy, are they in for a rude awakening.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          Anecdote on the vibe in north houston 2-3-2021…feels very germane to this part of the zeitgeist:

          cousin calls, and says he’s coming up…same worry in his voice as a year ago, when he came out here to hide from the pandemic and correlated uncertainty. (he stayed til late april).
          This time, his worry is civil unrest, violence, insurrection.
          He’s a self-described “manwhore”…never nailed down…having numerous women all over texas that he breezes though and stays with for a while when work brings him near(he’s a roofer and tree expert and heavy equipment operator…with ample talent in all of them). The women in question are all divorcees, and seem happy with the arrangement: playing happy married to a hot guy who leaves before he becomes a chore.
          Anyway…lately, he’s been hanging around north houston…where we’re both from.
          Woodlands, magnolia, tomball, etc.
          he lives in his truck on a spread of pineywoods he inherited…and gets a hotel room off and on, for a week at a time.
          He spends a lot of time in bars, beer joints, dancehalls and clubs.
          It is this part of his life where we find the Doom:
          he says the clubs, etc are at best ¼ populated…and that the ratio of men to women is, at best, 3 to 1.
          of course this is the pandemic, and all…we both understand that…although he chafes at the mandates more than I do.
          The scary part is the sentiments of the remaining men in these stag halls: “f&&k it…i ain’t doing this any more…they’ve screwed us all…” etc.
          the way he puts it:”they’re tired of everything…the pandemic, the half-assed attempts at mitigating the pandemic, the economic results of those half-assed attempts, the lack of material support to mitigate the half-assed mitigations…and on and on in that vein…”
          I interject: “so…blue balls, combined with hopelessness and angst”
          so I ask what he thinks will become of this mood/vibe…
          him: one of two things are being bandied about in these spaces: 1 run to the hills, and hunker down(essentially the way i’ve lived for 25 years)…and 2.” leave…as in leave the country”
          I ask if there’s been any talk of warlordism or becoming land-pirates or marauders….he says no…but if the other two options are frustrated, that may well be.
          These are working class guys…generally white…and towards the upper end of working classdom…small contractors, parts store managers,…guys who made enough pre-pandemic to have a nice truck and a bunch of tools, and maybe a decent little house somewhere…many of them had women in their lives, but now do not(i get the gist that this is due to pandemic related economic and emotional stressors)
          they feel betrayed and left behind and ignored, and are casting around for purpose and some goal to look forward to…none of them(he stressed this part) were all that politically engaged…so no trump trains, here…just regular guys in their late 20’s through late 40’s…with no prospects and declining chances.
          Of course, one wants to berate these guys….their antagonism to taking the dern virus seriously a year ago is a large part of our current malaise, after all(why are they in a bar?—i’d be avoiding bars right now just as a question of ethics)…but such berating and acrimony will only serve to further isolate them.
          While we were having this conversation, my mind kept going to Nietzsche…and his warning about “200 years of Nihilism”.
          I, myself, have been well aware of just how broken our Social Contract is for as long as I can remember…and it was this same cohort(among others) who berated me for thinking it.
          Now that it’s come for them, something must be done, obviously,lol.
          Cousin says that anything less than a full blown New New Deal will be too little and too late…and that it may be too late, any way…that the Vibe in these spaces is such that he feels the need to run off to my Hill Country Redoubt, because it feels immanent…whatever “it” is.
          Some of this, of course, is his own depressive state…all the conditions laid out above apply to him(women troubles, no prospects, etc)…but he’s finding ready reinforcement from the other guys just like him at the various bars, beer joints and dancehalls.
          This disenchantment and inchoate anger and nebulous sense of betrayal is almost never reported…so when it boils over in some orgy of violence, we’re always shocked and at pains to explain it.
          My take is that the demparty better get their shit together, cease the bipartisanship fetish and send in bernanke’s helicopters full of cash. Start dumping it in the suburbs and exurbs, and expand it from there. It’s only money, after all…and we can make more if need be, as evidenced by all the repeated bailouts of the rich folks.

          As for me, I’m ready for the extra labor…i have too much to do, and not enough body to keep up with it all.
          I’m finally getting the dump-trailer manana, and absconding with 10+ loads(40+ cubic yards) of mulch from the county dump, as a substrate for the expansion of the gardens….bringing me to a whole acre of raised beds.
          4 tons of well rotted manure…already here, or right down the highway waiting for me…and mostly horse…goes in top…and then I can relax a bit, and resume tinkering and puttering about, in my usual…much less frenzied…style.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            and here’s the Week’s resident dour curmudgeon, referencing the cohort i’m speaking of.
            “What Trump recognized was that there are millions of Americans who do not oppose or even care about abortion or same-sex marriage, much less stem-cell research or any of the other causes that had animated traditional social conservatives. Instead he correctly intuited that the new culture war would be fought over very different (and more nebulous) issues: vague concerns about political correctness and “SJWs,” opposition to the popularization of so-called critical race theory, sentimentality about the American flag and the military, the rights of male undergraduates to engage in fornication while intoxicated without fear of the Title IX mafia. Whatever their opinions might have been 20 years ago, in 2021 these are people who, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, accept pornography, homosexuality, drug use, legalized gambling, and whatever GamerGate was about. On economic questions their views are a curious and at times incoherent mixture of standard libertarian talking points and pseudo-populism, embracing lower taxes on the one hand and stimulus checks and stricter regulation of social media platforms on the other.”

            these are the guys that repair your roof, landscape yer yard, fix your plumbing, or build yer house…rather, the guys that yell at the Mexicans doing all those jobs.
            wife got the house, alimony and child support are regarded as kafka-esque regimes, everything costs too much, and one night stands are a necessary part of their existence.
            ugly and primitive as we might see them, from their barstool, –or truck stuck in traffic on the way to the job–, the world has collapsed, and there’s a sense of drifting and purposelessness, and an almost total lack of meaning.
            again, deploy the helicopters full of $$$.
            I sure wish Bernie were president right now.

            1. marym

              “…opposition to the popularization of so-called critical race theory, sentimentality about the American flag and the military, the rights of male undergraduates to engage in fornication while intoxicated without fear of the Title IX mafia.”

              So idpolitics and culture wars. Not exactly the basis for a working class movement, is it? I’m for helicoptering in the money anyway, but that’s a dismal report from the taverns and traffic jams.

              Here are some observations about flags in Trumpworld.

              2018: https://harpers.org/archive/2018/07/a-flag-for-trumps-america/
              2020 (short threads):

              1. Amfortas the hippie

                my cousin is my only contact with that cohort any more…at least to any depth.
                i’m a friendly loner and habitual outsider, and keep folks at arms length.
                but i observe them all the time…from the people working on mom’s house here and there, to people i know in town, and see in the hardware or feed store.
                cousin allows deeper probings…like into motivations, hopes dreams and perceptions.
                i try to control for these probings being specifically about him, the individual…but i see regularly the same features in these broader contacts.
                they are very individualised…and small-l libertarian…”me against the world” and a warrior ethos.
                but if separated from the herd, and with socrates gently applied(asking questions), they generally arrive at some version of new dealism…they just don’t have the words or the experiences to give it heft…so it remains subconscious, and as hidden as the boner they once got in the locker room.
                to radicalise them in a class consciousness manner would take a large program of evangelism…and i doubt that it’s even possible any more(happened with my grandparents generation…Great Depression and WW2).
                that means that we’re left with great piles of cash, and a lot of readily available infrastructure work that pays well…and maybe after 10+ years of that, we might be able to talk about class.

                one thing i get from cousin, and via him, all the people he hangs out with, as well as the local specimens…is that they’re not Klan….whatever racism is evident in them is mostly habit, learned at the knee, as it were.
                and, in spite of his troubles with relationships(married 3(i think) times, 2 kids with different women)…and him settling into his “Manwhore” lifestyle…he doesn’t think of himself as misogynist or even all that sexist.
                his often selfish prickdom is both color and genderblind,lol
                but he learned no tact or subtlety at that proverbial knee, and has a terrible case of foot in mouth disease…and is always shocked when he finds his whole leg down his throat.
                the relationship model that he…and many of these others…had settled into pre pandemic…a string of hookup pseudowives, met in bars…is another thing that needs to be studied.
                I’ve met…and done the socratic druid feral anthropology thing with…many of his serial woman friends over the years. all but the first wife seemed clear eyed and satisfied with the arrangement…which, it must be stated, was never really negotiated, it just happened.

                anyhoo…like the talking tree thing, we really don’t know all that much about so many things that are right there in front of us.
                lumping this particular subculture into maga or deplorables misses a lot of subtlety, and allows the too easy writing off of their grievances….as well as our continued ignorance of drives, perceptions and motivations.

                (it also occurs to me that “socratic druid feral anthropology” should have a place in whatever citizen science happens under a hoped for New New Deal…akin to “let us now praise famous men”(https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/243360.Let_Us_Now_Praise_Famous_Men) being ignored is, after all, one of the main grievances)

                1. skippy

                  In the early 90s I always remembered driving in and out of Texas when doing big concrete floor coating jobs. The two most predominate *HUGE* billboards were as in order …

                  Get your vasectomy @ here …

                  Followed by a few miles down the road …

                  Get your vasectomy reversed @ here …

                  Then there was the job in DFW on the north west side of the ring road and the only bar near our accommodation was a swingers bar [curse of the light industrial area thingy] but as luck had it they had a small ringed off area for singles, so there us 4 blokes sat to have a draft beer in walking distance …

                2. Late Introvert

                  Good to hear from the great Amfortas. You don’t know me, long time lurker who appreciates your missives very much.

                  I am also family adjacent to the righties, but my brother is a former salesman for P&G and other biggies, so it’s a different aroma.

                  Him and I lost close contact around the time he was arguing for “fight the terrrorists over there” in the GWB Shock and Aw Crap! exercise of starting up The Endless Wars. I haven’t spoken to him much since.

                  So I appreciate the socratic druid feral anthropology approach, I will try to apply it to save my own family relations.

                3. marym

                  The criticism directed at most movements of the left and liberals has long been some version of failure to find common cause with what is supposedly The Working Class (and since the events at the Capitol, maybe The Petit Bourgeoisie as well). However, the cohort of today’s alienated Trumpists is hostile to large swathes of the actual working and small business class.

                  I really admire your multi-faceted attempts to understand the world and share your insights here. I mostly follow your reasoning. In this case I question an argument that racism is a habit learned at the knee and they don’t consider themselves racist, but their grievance is “critical race theory”; and that building a class movement requires everyone else to understand and address the grievance. It requires those who consider themselves aggrieved to do the work of finding common ground too.

                  1. Amfortas the hippie

                    cousin wouldn’t know “critical race theory” if it cancelled him…but there is a nebulous sense that their speech is overly policed(mainly due to what one hears on am radio, i presume–not hordes of wokeratii chasing them down the street)
                    those are Walther’s words, not mine.
                    the grievances i’m talking about are largely economic…feeding into a larger grievanceworld of recognising their uselessness in this modern age(see: Fight club, the tv series “Vikings”, etc).
                    and that, indeed, is something to potentially rally around, and is the basis for the various attempts at “Red Brown Alliance” over the decades.
                    gain, these aren’t people who are actively engaged in politics…some of that rhetoric is there…but what else is on the radio when stuck in traffic trying to get to the job site but Rush and Hannity Clones?
                    mom has had a crew at her house redoing her siding for a week….and they are definitely in this cohort.
                    the boom box played Tupac and Dr Dre very loudly before lunch, and that GAC(“Gack”) pseudo country in the afternoon.
                    the Klan adjacent idiots i grew up around, 40 years ago in East Texas, wouldn’t even listen to rock and roll, because it was “N*&^%%er Music”.
                    and cousin’s main adult advisors are, respectively, from Mexico and Ecuador(not to say he follows their life advice any more than he does mine,lol, but still)
                    all of this is worlds away from the overt assholery regarding race i grew up around….so yeah…habit…with a growing sense of “owning the libs” by saying nasty things.
                    (the scolding backfires)
                    whatever…i don’t hang around with such people (with anyone, really..I’m a hermit)…i just think that instead of lumping them all in to an ill fitting box, it would better serve humanity if we tried to understand them…including from their perspective, and on their terms.

                    1. skippy

                      At the end of the day Amfort their a collection of nuts and bolts someone else put in their heads and told them it was their own thoughts. See Trump ending every sentence with – You – knew that.

                      All the cognitive sunk costs makes the notion of bridging that gap unlikely and worse easy fodder for those like Trump and per se those DFW mega prosperity churches.

                      BTW CRT always reminds me of the old Chris Rock skit about wealth and race E.g. some would rather be poor but white rather than the rich and black.

            2. jr

              “so…blue balls, combined with hopelessness and angst”

              This line sent a chill down my spine. It brought to mind a memory from a childhood visit to the D.C. zoo. There was a female rhino in heat and she had been separated from the male in their space behind a large door.

              The male was the living picture of the phrase above. Horny, pissed off, and helpless on both counts. He kept ramming the door to get at her and his horn had split down the middle as a result. Blood was leeching out of it but he kept slamming into the metal door with dull thuds. There were smears of it on the door itself. The crowd was horrified.

              An attendant explained that there was nothing they could do, they couldn’t let them mate and there wasn’t anything to do to calm him down. (I learned later that tranquilizing rhinos is a tricky job; they will happily drop over dead on you.) So the poor beast just kept smashing into the door, his pain and anger growing visibly.

              I think you are spot on to about the importance of one night stands and and, I suppose, a casual sex life in general. Especially for the precarious male. As a former “manwhore” and someone who made a life using OKCupid like the classifieds, being sexually “successful” is sometimes literally the only claim to fame you can make. No money, no job, no prospects but there is always a lady around. It’s a lot when you have nothing and it has currency from the top of the socioeconomic ladder to the bottommost rung. I’ve watched plenty of well-off guys glower in envy at me as I left the bar with the only lady in it. Or came in with a crowd of them.

              Sexual prowess is also a form of security. You can be great at sports or your job or hunting but none of those are going to let you crash at their place for a week because you lost your sublet situation. It doesn’t even have to involve actual sex. Just being appealing opens the doors to spare bedrooms or the couch.

          2. Wyatt Powell

            An incredible read! Love to hear the local chatter. The situation is much the same in Southwest Missouri.

            Thank you, as always, for sharing.

          3. Patrick

            In a parallel uni I’d present myself as “extra labor” in exchange for “raised bed” nutrition and campfire conversation. Your report from the nether regions is appreciated and dang that I don’t have a small parcel in “hill country”.

        2. Terry Flynn

          I was aware of increasing job insecurity from first postdoc (2001) and had my views vindicated by others posting in early days of nakedcapitalism. Just as well I wasn’t bothered about starting a family etc because I ended up having to move from UK to Australia to Sweden to progress to full professor. I was very aware that those ahead of me were “pulling up the ladders” as fast as they could.

          In the end it was too much and I got out. I largely had to abandon my previous online identity to stop organisations and individuals from still thinking they were entitled to “free work” from me. Unlike the author, I knew I was in one of the last bastions of the “old system” and gambled that I could “make it” before the drawbridge went up. I was wrong. But I learnt a lot along the way…little of it that puts academe in a good light!

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        Is it the older generations of professors who kicked out the ladder for younger gig-adjuncts? Or was it the Administrator Class who kicked out the ladder?

        We have to know who actually did it in order to be able to hate the right people and seek out the correct target to destroy.

    2. ahimsa

      from the original lyrics…

      9 to 5, yeah
      They got you where they want you
      There’s a better life
      And you think about it, don’t you?
      It’s a rich man’s game
      No matter what they call it
      And you spend your life
      Puttin’ money in his wallet

      9 to 5, whoa
      What a way to make a livin’
      Barely gettin’ by
      It’s all takin’ and no givin’
      They just use your mind
      And they never give you credit
      It’s enough to drive you crazy
      If you let it

      1. Tvc15

        Indeed, and the unfortunate side hustle ditty is the antithesis of her original lyrics.
        To reiterate Lambert succinct comment…NO Dolly!

        Neil Young and Dylan both sold some of their song catalogues so I guess why not, ugh.

    3. Arizona Slim

      I’ll never forget what Lee Camp said on one his live “Redacted Tonight” shows:

      “Why can’t we just have one [family blogging] job?

  6. Robert Hahl

    Tony Bennett’s Battle With Alzheimer’s [AARP]

    I met him briefly in 1982 at a gallery show of his paintings. He was very low-affect even then.

    I always remembered what he said about making a life in the arts. He said always work in at least two distinct fields, so that if things are going poorly in one, you can work effectively in the other for a while.

    1. RMO

      I remember what he said to Bob and Doug McKenzie: “Andy Warhol said in the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes. But fifteen minutes isn’t enough. You’ve got to be famous for at least two weeks for the cheques to clear.”

  7. PlutoniumKun

    “Diet modifications — including more wine and cheese — may help reduce cognitive decline, study suggests” [Science Daily]. n = 1,787 aging adults (from 46 to 77 years of age, at the completion of the study).

    I think that study will make many people happy, although it raises some immediate questions. The obvious one is that the study is on UK adults and wine and cheese consumption among older people is a strong marker of being educated and higher middle class (and probably white too). Similarly with lamb consumption, as it tends to be quite expensive. I wonder if it could be associated with the Vitamin K content in mature cheeses.

    A while back I read Dr. Valter Longo’s book on longevity, and he noted that very long lived people generally ate low protein diets during their lives but frequently upped their protein consumption in old age, this may have helped with maintaining muscle and bone strength. He also I think noted an association with goats cheese specifically with long lived populations, but in general dairy is a negative for long term health, including with dementia.

    There is, so far as I’m aware, strong evidence that some foods aid with preventing the development of Alzhimers, including blueberries and the broccoli family (through sulforaphane). Most of what I’ve read thinks that while red wine is better than other alcohols, the amount of resveratrol (seemingly the most beneficial compound in red wine) is so low that its probably not significant.

    But all in all, cognitive function is closely associated with overall health and fitness, so the usual rules apply – plenty of exercise and a diet focused on unrefined plants as far as possible. The evidence for the benefits of that type of diet and lifestyle is pretty much overwhelming. But some nice cheese and a glass of wine is always a welcome addition.

  8. dcblogger

    anybody here from Seattle?
    Senator Bob Hasegawa, who represents Washington’s 11th District (Renton, Tukwila, part of Kent, SoDo, the Industrial District, Georgetown, and South Park), introduced a bill that would create a healthcare trust allowing everyone in the state to access affordable healthcare, vision care, dental, and mental health care.

    Hasegawa’s bill, SB 5204, has six co-sponsors so far.


    1. Keith

      I am on the other side of the state. My question is how much will it cost? Dems have been desparate for an income tax here and pushing up spending is one way to get it.

      1. dcblogger

        given how much the state already pays for insuring its employees, and pays for its share of medicaid, it will probably cost less. In any case it could be paid for with a payroll tax. Better to pay a reasonable tax that will cover everything, than an inflated insurance premium which comes with deductibles and co pays.

      2. Angie Neer

        I live in Washington and we absolutely need an income tax. I say that as a 10-percenter who would presumably pay substantially.

    2. Angie Neer

      The article you linked makes a point I wish more people understood: “If you tried to dream up the worst model for healthcare, it would be insurance. And the reason for that is that you buy insurance expecting not to have to use it, generally. Everybody uses their healthcare insurance.”

    3. Wellstone's Ghost

      Bob Hasegawa is a long tenured member of the Washington Legislature and a fairly progressive one at that.

      He has also been a long time proponent of a Washington State Bank(yes please!).

      Unfortunately, a lot of Dem’s in Washington State are neolib’s who will question the expense of universal coverage.

      It will be interesting to see how many members he can get to support it.

      The Washington Democratic Party fought with the Bernie wing tooth and nail.

      On a good note, our Governor Jay Inslee will go whatever direction his wet finger in the air tells him to.

    4. jax

      I’m just north of Seattle and boy oh boy, do I support this bill. If we could get WA state residents out from under the thumb of corporate for-profit health ‘care’ it would make me happy that I’ve lobbied for single payer universal health care for the past 55 years.

  9. urblintz

    “Don’t fall in love with your suffering. Never assume that your suffering in itself is a proof of your authenticity.” – Slavoj Žižek

  10. a fax machine

    re: domestic terrorism

    A certain President made the quote “when peaceful revolution becomes impossible, violence becomes inevitable”.

    This situation exists because Democrats and Republicans refuse to confront the problems unrestricted globalism has created. Open door market access has ruined the US economy in many places, causing people to be poor and ruining the environment. Meanwhile it caused the genocides of Tibetans and Uyghurs, soon Hong Kongers as well – and this is baked into western products if the reports of such chattel slavery in the solar panel supply chain is true. The growing computer supply chain disruption doesn’t help. Regular, sensible people reject this.

    I beilive Biden has a better grip on it than Obama does though, largely because Democrats got a taste of what their failure results in: Trump and Trumpalike politics. Whether or not he puts words to action is another question.

    Another issue is if Democrats pass another Assault Weapons Ban, which is obviously a lightning rod for domestic terrorism. So would be another Waco standoff, but one would hope The People’s Champions’ in the BATF are smarter now (the successful YFZ Ranch and Amalia raids imply so). One would hope that they’d avoid such an issue for more practical, worldly matters such as healthcare reform – for which there is now tepid support for on the right as a means to prevent spree/anger shootings.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Another issue is if Democrats pass another Assault Weapons Ban,

      Its February, and Team Blue hasn’t managed to pass a stimulus. They won’t deal with the filibuster. They won’t force Republicans to vote on issues. This is a political party that sat on its hands after Sandy Hook. I guess Mark Warner went from an A rating to an F rating from the NRA, but the result is the same. He’s done as much for gun control since Sandy Hook as he did after Virginia Tech when he had an A rating. Columbine was almost 22 years ago.

      The closest will be a stunt next year when their poll numbers aren’t great and they are pinning their hopes on Obama and Hillary singing duets on the campaign trail. Even then it will be an absurd piece of legislation banning independent blacksmiths from making guns from scratch or something.

  11. hemeantwell

    ” On the other, I would want expert testimony on whether traumas “intersect and interact,” and how they do. ”

    I don’t think AOC strengthened her case by saying she had been previously assaulted. Dunno if she weakened it, however. The account she gives of the actual situation at the Capitol compellingly establishes that she had every reason to be frightened. Obviously she had a lot of company, including the officer who killed Babbitt.

    1. barefoot charley

      I really like AOC, and forgive her crooked path into effective politics. That said, her short-version fear-for-her-life story is “a white man” shouting “Where is she?” again and again, who turns out to be a Capitol cop who, in an angry and aggressive manner, tells her what building to run to. This is not my grandmother’s terrorism.

      1. dcblogger

        we are critiquing AOC for the way she responds to a lynch mob? it was a scary and confusing situation.

        1. Noone from Nowheresville

          No, we are critiquing her narrative. It’s very political and extremely well done.

          BLM check. outsized militarized response. check. white supremacy. check. little parade styled fence nothingness response. check. electric car. check. having to smile and flirt to charm her way out of a potential dangerous or at least uncomfortable situation. check. dangerous males with pointy sticks with metal ends aka flag poles with spear tips. check. dangerous vibe in her bourge grocery store aka danger on her home turf check. reminder of stop and frisk. check. believes in god and that there’s a plan for her. her willingness to be satisfied with what she’s done if this is it. check. joy over the Georgia elections. check. electoral thing so out of control. check. old neighborhood. check. 2nd covid shot and videoing it for Instagram for her fans / voters. check. racism. check. dangerous angry aggressive white males. check etc.

          AOC’s sexual assault strengthened her narrative because it gave her an easily relatable reason to have such a triggered response even though the previous part of her day was so happy go lucky (Georgia we won) and carefree despite the dangerous vibe that had been increasing in the previous days.

          Lots of truth in it. But also a whole lot of smooth political speak to her tribe and loyalty to leadership. She’s in the “know,” uses the right language and does it well.

          All that said, I absolutely believe that she’s a target.

          Still have disconnects with her narrative.

          1. Noone from Nowheresville

            Yeah, the narrative disconnects really bothers me the more I think about them. If this were a novel, somewhere after the 53 minute mark is where the book would hit the wall.

      2. Amfortas the hippie

        but she’d been previously warned that she was a likely target…and her whole time in office has been littered with open threats on her person.
        i sympathise, definitely…and would if she were a rabid maga person put in that situation, with lunatics in the halls calling for your blood.
        one of the reasons i’ve been avoiding news is that I’ve been there.
        and get triggered by things like the riot, and the rhetoric that surrounds it, even now.
        beaten and left for dead, beaten with sticks, buried alive twice…once by cops…
        yeah…nobody could have seen this coming,lol….all that was 30+ years ago, and haunts me still. those experiences are my number one reason for studying the american right.
        of course, i think a robust new new deal would be a better response than a domestic patriot act, or anything resembling “coming for your guns”, but i suppose that too few of the blue check people have so far met the elephant….nor thought too far about what might be behind all of this violence and hate.
        angry lunatics, ready and able to burn it all down, are Made, not Born.

        1. EGrise

          too few of the blue check people have so far met the elephant

          This is an important point. Like you, I’ve faced the elephant (in my case, in the Persian Gulf War), and I understand that it affects different people differently. The lack of empathy from those blue checks who’ve spent their whole lives in idyllic safety is both disappointing and unsurprising.

          None of them have the humility or introspection or anything else to understand how they’d really react in a similar situation, but it doesn’t stop them from chucking rocks from their glass towers.

  12. Peter

    For the stealing tips article, the original had a typo of “$61.7 billion” instead of “$61.7 million” which you copied over.

    Wouldn’t be surprised with them stealing either amount quite frankly…

    1. Wombat

      I saw that too. What’s wrong, the headline or the article text? A factor of a thousand, and I don’t know what, when dealing with Amazon-level figures.

      Those poor drivers really got the spiraling, vertical forest helix.

      1. Peter

        The spiraling, vertical forest helix indeed!

        I am fairly certain it is the article text that’s wrong. I think total Amazon revenue was ~$600 billion over the past two years so $61.7 billion would be too big a chunk of that.

        Very similar to the DoorDash story stealing tips from late 2020.

  13. a different chris

    >Please don’t. Please don’t confirm me in all my priors.

    Now wait a second – he is going to send Rahm Emmanual out of the country? That cannot be an unmitigated bad, can it?

    I’ll help pack his bags.

  14. flora

    re: “Hunter Biden’s Guilty Laptop” – [The American Conservative].

    No wonder the Biden admin wants to pre-check WH reporters’ questions before press conferences. ;)

  15. petal

    Re: The re-working of “9-5”. Seeing that makes me sad. I’ve had to work side hustles(sometimes more than one at a time) on top of a FT job the last several years and am looking at having to do it again. It’s humiliating. I wish Dolly hadn’t done that.

    Re: the $1400-$2000 scam: The jerking around by politicians is soul-crushing for people that desperately need the money, and I think it’s intentional. Once you crush any hope that is left, all that’s left are zombies that don’t fight back anymore. Pretty sure that’s their goal. They are getting people used to being abused so then those people have no expectations and don’t want to feel overwhelming disappointment again and then the politicians can do anything and get away with it. Does this fall under gaslighting?

    Also, for those interested here is the talk by Glenn Greenwald with the Dartmouth Political Union from last week about authoritarianism in the United States.

    1. Thistlebreath

      There’s an analogy in horse training (which is really humans educating themselves with horses present) that explains the difference between “learned helplessness” and “cooperative partnership.” The latter takes way longer to develop but the former is of great political convenience.

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      “Once you crush any hope that is left, all that’s left are zombies that don’t fight back anymore. Pretty sure that’s their goal.”
      please see my first comment, above.
      they’re playing with sweaty dynamite, here.

      1. petal

        Thank you Amfortas. It helps to talk about it. Your homestead sounds like a piece of heaven, and I hope your family is well. My pennies are on the demparty not getting their ish together(well, for the rest of us). Reckon they’re just running a big looting spree and doing their best to keep it going. The rest of us can go die.

      2. The Rev Kev

        I like the phrase ‘Never cheat a man who has nothing to lose’, but sweaty dynamite also works for me. Thanks for your extensive report above as there is a lot to unpick there and lots to think about.

    3. Michaelmas

      petal: Once you crush any hope that is left, all that’s left are zombies that don’t fight back anymore. Pretty sure that’s their goal.

      If that’s their goal, they’re deeply stupid. Masses of people with nothing to live for, except maybe a final jolt by coming at their enemies on the remote chance of payback by turning them into red paste, are not what any sensible ruling class needs. See Amfortas’s comment.

      Honestly, the U.S. empire, if taken as commencing in 1945, hasn’t lasted any longer than the Soviet one.

      Amazing how quickly America’s Dunning-Kruger elites have trashed the best hand — an ability to print as much of the global reserve currency as needed in order to pay other countries for their real goods and services — that any empire in history ever held. The Roman and Brit imperial elites would have had contempt for these buffoons. As China’s elites currently do.

      1. Massinissa

        “petal: Once you crush any hope that is left, all that’s left are zombies that don’t fight back anymore. Pretty sure that’s their goal.

        If that’s their goal, they’re deeply stupid. Masses of people with nothing to live for, except maybe a final jolt by coming at their enemies on the remote chance of payback by turning them into red paste, are not what any sensible ruling class needs.”

        That’s literally what’s happening to India right now. The protesters aren’t even being violent, but there’s millions of them and the Modi government is struggling to limit the damage to itself. This is what happens when a government purposely tells the poorest half of the country to F themselves and/or go die. I’m not sure we’ll see anything this dramatic in the west though. But that doesn’t mean popular discontent (non-violent or otherwise) won’t be easy for the elites here to deal with either, even if its relatively on a smaller scale.

      2. a fax machine

        The end of American Imperialism will look a lot like how it started: leaders won’t get the message until Industry has problems and a larger crisis occurs outside of their control. In 1941 it was German and Japanese submarines denying shippers free access to global markets, in 2041 (? – who knows) it’ll be Chinese and Russian ones denying them the Arctic and the Philippines. The multi-polarity of the world will be revealed, and US firms will no longer be able to dictate the terms of trade. At this point it’s either tariffs or an expensive submarine war that most people won’t support.

        The damage is already visible on the homefront. The chip shortage is the most obvious as it prevents the desired EV car transition, meanwhile the entire fight over Chinese-made PPE supplies turned individual cities against each other. Step it up into an energy crisis (say a Saudi civil war) and the same fights instead happen over fuel. Only when Americans cannot get to work, will they realize that the dream is over. A Capitol Fire or similar is enough to ignite people into fascism, and the old system will be swept away.

        Democrats are almost aware of this. Decades of allowing Republicans to thwart space spending has created a situation where the US still lacks replacements for the Space Shuttle and ISS. Only the latter remains, and when it is decommissioned it’ll be the final end of the unipolar era. Only when China or Russia launches another Sputnik will Washington get the message, and the public’s response will probably scare them more than Soyuz at 70.

  16. Samuel Conner

    Re: the TAC article on “the laptop”, I suppose that one could interpret the final quotation from JB, “my son did nothing wrong”, to be an acknowledgement that even when H does “nothing”, he gets it wrong. One shudders to think of what may have gone wrong in all the somethings that the article describes.

  17. DJG

    I truly wasn’t ready for an article about the decline of Tony Bennett. The article, though, goes into detail about his career–and how he dealt with years out in the cold, which is inevitable in any artistic career.

    But I’m still not ready for Tony Bennett to go into terminal decline. There are many lovely details of how he has served as a teacher–teaching Lady Gaga to sing, now that’s something else.

    Poor video, but “Here’s That Rainy Day” with the divine Sarah Vaughn:


  18. Carla

    “Amazon didn’t disclose the change to drivers, the FTC said, and the tips it took from drivers amounted to $61.7 billion.”

    Until Bezos is in prison for life without parole, nothing will change.

  19. Nakatomi Plaza

    Regarding “Why I Am Leaving Academia,” this has been true for a long time now, maybe twenty years or so. The previous generation of university educators didn’t retire on schedule (I can’t really blame them, tenure and ridiculously light teaching loads) and that, coupled with the rise of adjuncts and funding siphoned off for administrators, changed the nature of academia and the number of available jobs. How did the author not know this? I was halfway through my MA when I understood that a PhD would likely end in economic and professional disaster, so I gave up my dream (or more accurately, woke up). I’m sorry for Herring, but she really should have anticipated what happened. I’ve read probably a dozen articles and essays repeating her exact experience, and none of them less that 15 years old.

  20. The Rev Kev

    That Naked Cowboy must have antifreeze running through his blood. I thought he would be from a place like Michigan but no, he is actually an Ohio boy. Going into his background, he has a bachelor’s degree in political science and has run for office a coupla times. He has quite an interesting story and he also participated in the January 6, 2021 demonstration in front of the US Capitol supporting Trump. Wait! What?


    In other news today, Sir Tom Moore, who raised $57 million for the NHS by completing 100 laps of his garden using his walker, has died of coronavirus at the age of 100. R.I.P.


  21. DJG

    Hunter Biden’s laptop. The article is by Peter Van Buren, who indeed is not a nutcase.

    Anyone here ever / currently a free lance? You’ll love these details:

    “for example, on September 28, 2018, Hunter ordered $95,000 transferred without explanation), a “business” run by Jim Biden out of a residential address. Jim regularly invoiced Hunter for office expenses and employee costs, as well as a monthly retainer cost of some $68,000, plus other fees in the tens of thousands of dollars.”

    Sure: My accountant would have been ga-ga for that. Then there’s this little tidbit in which the CPA seems to believe that paying taxes is voluntary:

    “The CPA’s concern is that the IRS is sensitive to the fact that some try to conceal income as loans to be written off as expenses later, especially if the amounts are large. This can trigger an audit. If the loans are “forgiven,” then they are income. If not declared, that is potential fraud. The same note from the CPA indicates Hunter owes $600,000 in personal taxes and another $204,000 for Owasco and urges him to file a return even if he is not going to pay the taxes.”


    1. km

      Richard Murphy teaches the revolutionary working masses thusly: taxes are obligatory for small business. Taxes are optional for multinationals.

      This also applies to the rich and connected, although for different reasons.

  22. freedomny

    Really sorry that AOC was scared for her life. Was gonna look it up re how many politicians have been killed by Americans in the past 100 years but….just too much energy.

    We’ve all been traumatized.

    45,000 Americans.die every year from no insurance.

    This girl needs to get over herself.

    1. David J.

      I’ve been in a few “fluid” situations over the course of my lifetime, one of which included the loss of life. It can provoke a febrile state of mind.

      My sister was, to put it politely, sexually traumatized. It has been a defining feature of her behavior for decades.

      I respect AOC even if I don’t always agree with her. Perhaps, instead of demeaning her natural and well-earned adulthood, it would be better to find charity in our own hearts.

      1. A man who knows

        Hear, hear. I (a male) have known several women who have had sexual trauma handed to them, anywhere from significant to unbelievably horrific. Anyone who would say to a woman that she should “get over herself” knows nothing about the lasting impact those moments of powerlessness can have. Just because AOC (or any person) isn’t curled up in the fetal position sobbing doesn’t mean that they don’t carry damage inside them forever.

  23. buermann

    RE: the wine and cheese study, “Participants also answered questions about their food and alcohol consumption at baseline and through two follow-up assessments. The Food Frequency Questionnaire”

    Retrospective observational analyses relying on self-reported food intake surveys are nothing but noise.

  24. Kevin Carhart

    Parton doesn’t surprise me. There is an ongoing churn of recuperation at all times. Tom Frank describes an example in One Market Under God, citing Stuart Ewen.
    “In 1943 the corporation soon to be known as Exxon hired Roy Stryker, the man who had directed the government’s photography project during the thirties, to launch a PR campaign of its own … The soon-to-be Exxon wanted to combat its reputation for ‘cold-bloodedness,’ and New Deal populism was exactly the way to do it…”

  25. lyman alpha blob

    Another ammo anecdote from suburban Portland ME – a few years ago someone stuck a live round through a political campaign sign in my neighborhood and left it hanging there. Someone called the police to check it out and I spoke with one of them who had previously worked as a cop in California. He said that based on the residences he’d visited in both states, people in Maine had waaaaaaay more guns than those in California. And this in a pretty liberal area of Maine to boot.

  26. The Rev Kev

    “AOC on Instagram”

    There is a shorter video by AOC linked in the following tweet and I will say this for her. She knows how to project an image. In the video you will see the black borders on either side, a cream background, and AOC dressed in a grayish-black top with her face being the only colour in this 1:37 min video. If these were not her decisions, then she must have a very good media advisor-


    1. Noone from Nowheresville

      she’s very very good. I said that last year after her IG interview CARES with the soccer star. Who she ends up being good for or representing in the long run remains to be seen.

      She is someone to pay attention to because of what she talks about and specifically how she frames it. Whip smart and capable of learning / navigating the currents with seemingly effortless charm.

  27. Matthew G. Saroff

    In terms of the study showing that lamb improved dementia outcomes, my guess would be the branched-chain fatty acids (BCFAs) that give lamb (and even more so mutton) its distinctive taste, since the brain is a fatty organ.

    Thankfully, I lurves me some lamb.

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