2:00PM Water Cooler 2/23/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Birds of Texas. Somehow I’d expect a bird with a name like the “Great Blue Heron” to have a more mellifluous song!


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

I feel I’m engaging in a macabre form of tape-watching, because I don’t think the peak is coming in the next days, or even weeks. Is the virus gathering itself for another leap?

Vaccination by region:

Big drop in the South no doubt storm-related.

Case count by United States region:

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

Encouraging to see cases in Texas go up, in that at least we know there’s some testing being done.

Test positivity:

Regional averages approach 3%, which is what we want to see. (Alert reader TsWkr pointed out it’s time to update my test positivity comment, which I just did.)


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):

Once Ohio’s data is processed, an enormous drop (down to the peak of the first wave). Still, that rising fatality rate in the West (red) worries me. Could that be due to variants?


“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

“FBI Seized Congressional Cellphone Records Related To Capitol Attack” [The Intercept]. “WITHIN HOURS OF the storming of the Capitol on January 6, the FBI began securing thousands of phone and electronic records connected to people at the scene of the rioting — including some related to members of Congress, raising potentially thorny legal questions. Using special emergency powers and other measures, the FBI has collected reams of private cellphone data and communications that go beyond the videos that rioters shared widely on social media, according to two sources with knowledge of the collection effort. In the hours and days after the Capitol riot, the FBI relied in some cases on emergency orders that do not require court authorization in order to quickly secure actual communications from people who were identified at the crime scene. Investigators have also relied on data “dumps” from cellphone towers in the area to provide a map of who was there, allowing them to trace call records — but not content — from the phones.” • Just like Bush’s warrantless surveillance….

Biden Administration

Selectively, though:

Biden walkbacks (1):

Should have asked for $20. Or $25.

Biden walkbacks (2):

The hysterical moralizing stopped like a switch got thrown, didn’t it? See Taleb here.

Democrats en deshabille

“Could Cuomo be impeached?” [City & State]. “The only other governor who has come close to being impeached in recent history is former Gov. Elliot Spitzer, who became entangled in a prostitution scandal in 2008. Spitzer resigned after serving 15 months in office, right as state lawmakers began drafting articles of impeachment. ‘Far worse behavior (than Cuomo’s) by public officers in recent years did not result in impeachment,” Gerald Benjamin, an expert on the state’s government, told City & State in an email. “I don’t think impeachment of the governor is in the offing, nor from what I now know, should it be.'” • Whacking thousands of elders in nursing homes is better than a prostitution scandal?

Republican Funhouse

“Almost half of Republicans would join Trump party: poll” [The Hill]. “A Suffolk University-USA Today poll found that 46 percent of Republicans said they would abandon the GOP and join the Trump party if the former president decided to create one. Only 27 percent said they would stay with the GOP, with the remainder indicating they would be undecided. ‘We feel like Republicans don’t fight enough for us, and we all see Donald Trump fighting for us as hard as he can, every single day,’ a Republican and small-business owner from Milwaukee told the newspaper. ‘But then you have establishment Republicans who just agree with establishment Democrats and everything, and they don’t ever push back.'”

“Silence About GOP Senators’ Hypocrisy” [David Sirota, Daily Poster]. “A group of Republican senators are pressing President Biden’s Justice Department to investigate Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s mismanagement of nursing home policy during the pandemic — and conservative media outlets are excitedly touting those lawmakers’ plans to spotlight the issue at this week’s confirmation hearing for Biden’s attorney general nominee. Cuomo deserves the criticism. However, there is some serious hypocrisy at play here. Amid an outcry about nursing home deaths, these same Republican critics copied and pasted Cuomo’s infamous nursing home immunity law into their own legislation. That fact has not been spotlighted by the same conservative media machine hyping the Cuomo scandal, even though it is out in the open for all to see.”

“Trump taunts don’t shake McConnell’s hold on Senate GOP” [Politico]. “The crumbled alliance between Trump and McConnell, who worked hand-in-glove on political and legislative strategy for four years, has finally brought the GOP to the reckoning that never happened after the 2016 election. Trump may take another swipe at McConnell in the coming days at the Conservative Political Action Conference. But McConnell probably won’t hear it: He is not expected to speak at CPAC, according to Republican sources. McConnell still hasn’t spoken to Trump in more than two months. And interviews with nearly a dozen Senate Republicans on Monday night make clear that it will take more than a war of words with Trump to knock McConnell off his perch. Both Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas), the two most likely successors to McConnell at the moment, back him vocally…. Many senators have little interest in refereeing McConnell’s seething comments about Trump’s ‘dereliction of duty’ during last month’s insurrection and Trump’s brutal assessment of McConnell’s ‘lack of political insight, wisdom, skill, and personality.'”


“Bloomberg’s 2020 aides got an unwelcome surprise in their tax forms” [Politico]. “In recent weeks, aides to the former Democratic candidate started receiving tax forms that in some cases list incomes that are tens of thousands of dollars more than they were compensated in salary. The added amounts account for paid housing and other generous benefits they received last year, but the price tag is coming to many as an unwelcome surprise. In interviews, former Bloomberg aides said they were stunned by the high amounts, examples of which were reviewed by POLITICO. One staffer was shown to have been compensated more than $50,000 than they earned. In another case, a former staffer’s gross amount was about $25,000 more. Others had incomes that were in the range of $10,000 more than what they were paid. In some instances, Bloomberg representatives have assured the aides that the additional taxes they now owe the government were taken care of by the campaign. A Bloomberg campaign spokesman told POLITICO that the aides were paid more during the campaign to account for the higher tax burden, though not all of the ex-aides said they were aware of the arrangement at the time. The spokesman added that Bloomberg’s accountants had no choice but to lump fringe benefits in with the salaries given their interpretation of tax law.” • Aren’t billionaires supposed to have mastered the intricacies of tax law?


“Pete Buttigieg Doc ‘Mayor Pete’ Lands at Amazon Studios” [Hollywood Reporter]. “Mayor Pete, director Jesse Moss’s documentary about former U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, has landed at Amazon Studios…. Mayor Pete, produced by Story Syndicate, follows Buttigieg on the campaign trail and at home in Indiana with his husband, Chasten. Buttigieg eventually exited the race and endorsed former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden before his rival went on to win the U.S. presidential election in 2020. Mayor Pete reveals the inside story of the campaign for the White House and the ways it changes the lives of those at its center. Amazon Studios and Story Syndicate recently collaborated on All In: The Fight for Democracy, from directors Lisa Cortés and Liz Garbus, featuring Stacey Abrams.” • Looks like Bezos is all-in for the Democrats, doesn’t it? (2024: Harris [x] Black [x] Woman / Buttigieg [x] Gay. So looking forward. Maybe Harris can give Buttigieg some tips on how to deal with his cop problem….

“Pete Buttigieg Is Bootleg Obama in the Worst Ways Possible” [Jacobin]. “Finding the blank space in a mass-market political book or memoir is therefore a useful way of stripping off its artifice. And, since most entries into the genre by mainstream politicians feature far more artifice than they do genuine insight, whatever remains tends to be the key to understanding their authors’ actual beliefs, commitments, or intentions. Which brings us to Pete Buttigieg and his recently published Trust: America’s Best Chance, released last fall just ahead of November’s presidential election. As an uninteresting book written by a ravenously ambitious and brand-conscious politician, plenty about Trust barely merits comment. Running less than two hundred pages if you don’t count its appendices (the first being an excerpt from a Pew Research study on the subject of, you guessed it, trust; the second a transcript of Buttigieg’s Sorkinesque 2020 campaign concession address), it is mostly just as you’d expect: a very quick read that is part politics and part autobiography — the sort of book that counts the likes of Edmund Burke, Thomas Jefferson, Hannah Arendt, Nate Silver, and David Axelrod among its citations. The sort to feature the word “trenchant” on its back cover.” • Fun stuff!

Realignment and Legitimacy

State Capacity (1):

State Capacity (2):

State Capacity (3):

State Capacity (4):

Yale undergrad gets it!

State Capacity (5):

“Asian America and the Politics of Guilt” [Current Affairs]. “Historian Andrew Liu, commenting on some recent open letters that also rebuke Asian Americans along similar lines, wrote, ‘[I]f we set aside the particular content of these [open] letters, ranging from the Chinese to Filipino/a experience to South Asian experience, they broadly share a general formal shape, that of millennial and younger diaspora telling their elders how to act like good white U.S. liberals…One consequence is that this does not open up a broader discussion about racism from multiple perspectives but instead encourages the assimilation of Asian diaspora (and Latino/a and Muslim, etc.) views into the norms and values of white liberals, namely, guilt and privilege talk.’ That is to say, while claiming that Asian Americans are too cozy in their white-adjacent status, these letters are demanding that Asian Americans become even more white-adjacent, by absorbing a liberal politics of guilt entirely.” • [hums] “And that’s why I’m turning you in.”

“Once Upon a Presidency” [American Mind]. “That is not the story you imagined. And you aren’t sure where that kind of story can end.” • Definitely from the right, but worth a read.

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.

There are no official stats of interest today.

* * *

Tech: “Huawei’s Mate X2 foldable adopts Samsung’s dual-screen design” [The Verge]. “Huawei has announced the Mate X2, its first all-new foldable device since 2019’s Mate X…. This being a Huawei device, the Mate X2 will launch without support for Google’s apps or services, which is likely to severely limit its appeal outside of China.” • I’m not so sure about that. Which tech moloch would you rather give your personal data to? The one that can monetize it, or the one that can’t?

Manufacturing: “U.S. manufacturers grapple with steel shortages, soaring prices” [Reuters]. “Both companies and more are getting hit by a fresh round of disruption in the U.S. steel industry. Steel is in short supply in the United States and prices are surging. Unfilled orders for steel in the last quarter were at the highest level in five years, while inventories were near a 3-1/2-year low, according to data from the Census Bureau. The benchmark price for hot-rolled steel hit $1,176/ton this month, its highest level in at least 13 years. Soaring prices are driving up costs and squeezing profits at steel-consuming manufacturers, provoking a new round of calls to end former President Donald Trump’s steel tariffs. ‘Our members have been reporting that they have never seen such chaos in the steel market,’ said Paul Nathanson, executive director at Coalition of American Metal Manufacturers and Users.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 53 Neutral (previous close: 58 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 71 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 23 at 12:13pm.

CNN]. One week ago: 69 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 19 at 11:46am. New intern? —>

The Biosphere

I underestimated/misrecollected the effects of the Montréal ice storm because I experienced it in downtown Montréal, not the surrounding country:

These are the power lines to Montreal from Hydro Quebec, which run (IRRC) for hundreds of miles. I’m putting this image up partly to rectify my error, but also because of a conversation I had with a cab driver in Montreal: I mentioned the downed wires, and he said “So much for separatism,” and explained that clearly the Canadian Air Force could cut a secessionist Quebec off from electric power whenever it wanted. I wonder if a similar logic applies to Texas?

Breaking the ice for the Northwest Passage:

“Scientists Accidentally Discover Life 900m under Antarctic Ice” [EuroNews]. “Researchers from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) found animals – including sea sponges and several potentially undiscovered species – living in complete darkness and temperatures of -2.2 °C. Very few creatures have been found living in such extreme conditions and the discovery goes against all previous theories about what kind of life could survive there…. Very few creatures have been found living in such extreme conditions and the discovery goes against all previous theories about what kind of life could survive there.”

Health Care

“Former OSHA head: We’re getting it wrong on COVID workplace safety” [David Michaels, NJ.com]. “Q. So the federal Centers for Disease Control has set no standard for ventilation? Not even for schools? A. That’s right. There are private groups that put out voluntary standards, but there are no actual standards for ventilation right now…. Q. You think the government should be setting air standards for workplaces and requiring N95s or other respirators? A. Yes. What we’re asking the CDC to do is recognize this means of transmission is an important one, and modify its guidance to reflect this. That will be important because OSHA is likely to be issuing an emergency temporary standard for workplaces within the month. It will point to CDC guidelines and say, follow this. And if the guidelines are out of date, they will be less protective.” • A definitely good thing from the Biden administration, I must admit. Walensky had better get her act together (or OSHA will get it together for her). Commentary:

Generally, Feigl-Ding is a little rich for my blood, but he is calm and on point in this thread, which is worth reading in full.

If there’s any justice in the world, short Plexiglass. Thread:

On getting aerosols wrong (a):

(I linked to the Zhang piece yesterday.) On getting aerosols wrong (b):

On Kuhn’s paradigm shifts, see NC 2020 and 2008.

CO2 testing:

High CO2 is a good proxy for poor ventilation. This little instrument looks like it could be useful.

* * *

“A Reader’s Guide to Safety & Adverse Event Data From Vaccine Trials” [Hilda Bastian, PLOS]. Lots of good tips. Here’s one: “Solicited adverse events are a list of events/symptoms that participants are specifically asked to record. If that’s not done in a consistent, structured way, the rate of adverse events is likely to be under-estimated. The less thoroughly researchers look, the fewer they’ll find – and the rate of adverse events they report could be artificially low. A vaccine trial should have a structured method for soliciting adverse events for the week after vaccination, either for everyone, or for a large enough representative subset of people. That’s because vaccines stimulate the immune system, and that stimulation can cause a well-known set of adverse reactions (called reactogenicity). Normal immune reactions are transient, which means they go away on their own, usually within a day or two. People ideally keep a diary for the first week, filling in details according to clear instructions about what to look for and record.”

A good vaccination experience. Thread:

“Polymerase Chain Reaction Is More Sensitive than Viral Culture and Antigen Testing for the Detection of Respiratory Viruses in Adults with Hematological Cancer and Pneumonia” [Clinical Infectious Diseases]. From the Abstract: “We conclude that PCR is more sensitive than viral culture or antigen or serologic testing for detection of respiratory viruses in patients with hematological malignancies, and that it offers the possibility for early, more rapid diagnosis.”

“School officials order windows screwed shut after teachers open them to increase ventilation” [CBC (Steve)]. “Teachers at Godson Elementary School had assumed HVAC ventilation — an important system for maintaining airflow that reduces the risk of coronavirus transmission — was installed throughout the school, but were shocked to learn in December that this wasn’t the case in an older wing of the building. After teachers began opening windows wide to increase airflow in the affected classrooms — despite cold temperatures outside — the school district responded by sending contractors to fix the issue. The district says those contractors found safety issues with the windows and partially sealed them.” • By screwing them shut (!). To be fair: “Brooks was told by school officials the gaping windows also strained the boiler, which heats the school.” • More crapified infrastructure.

“For those with body dysmorphic disorder, masks do more than protect. They help them function” [CNN]. “Daily commute debilitated the 23-year-old — because body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) defined so many parts of her daily life. But one afternoon in a pandemic-rattled 2020, Darr compulsively checked the bus mirror for her flaws and saw a mask instead. ‘I couldn’t see any of the features I fixate on,’ she told CNN. ‘The mask is covering my nose and my jaw, and I was like, ‘Wow. My hair is really nice today.'”

Groves of Academe

“Dear Reviewer 2: Go F’ Yourself” [Social Science Quarterly]. “Results: There is no evidence that Reviewer #2 is either more negative about the manuscript or out of line with the other reviewers. There is, however, evidence that Reviewer #3 is more likely to be more than one category below the other reviewers. Conclusions: Reviewer #2 is not the problem. Reviewer #3 is. In fact, he is such a bad actor that he even gets the unwitting Reviewer #2 blamed for his bad behavior.” • Has anybody checked in on the social scientists recently?

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Remembering W.E.B. Du Bois: a giant in the struggle for Black freedom in the US” [OpenDemocracy]. “His magnum opus, ‘Black Reconstruction in America’, first published in 1935, reveals just how close the US came to finally building a genuine multi-racial democracy in the wake of the Civil War. The decade of Reconstruction, from 1867 to 1877, marked the establishment of a thriving Black civil society that included churches, primary and secondary schools, and the rise of a Black political class devoted to implementing universal social programs. Du Bois’s idea of ‘abolition democracy’, coined in the pages of ‘Black Reconstruction in America’, outlines the central demands of this era for Black ‘physical freedom, civil rights, economic opportunity and education and the right to vote, [as a] a matter of sheer human justice and right’. However, this vision for full equity was ultimately defeated by a targeted campaign of physical violence, economic exploitation, and political neutering against Black Americans.” • By (in my view) the world’s first case of fascim, in fact. Sadly, and tellingly for a publication that styles itself “open” “democracy,” the article erases Du Bois’s socialism (as are, I would guess, other liberal sentimentalized retrospectives).

Guillotine Watch

“Vaccine access codes for hard-hit Black, Latino communities improperly used in other L.A. areas” [Los Angeles Times]. “The program to address inequities in vaccine distribution relies on special access codes that enable people to make appointments on the My Turn vaccine scheduling website. The codes are provided to community organizations to distribute to people in largely Black and Latino communities. But those codes have also been circulating, in group texts and messages, among the wealthier, work-from-home set in Los Angeles, The Times has learned. Many of those people are not yet eligible for the vaccine under state rules. Some people able to make appointments have been driving to Cal State Los Angeles to get the shots.”

Class Warfare

“Amazon Drivers Are Worried About New ‘Customer-Obsessed’ Disciplinary Program” [Vice]. “While Amazon’s contracted delivery drivers have always faced intense pressure to deliver up to 400 packages on 10-hour shifts, they worry the new disciplinary system, which coincides with this month’s announcement that Amazon is rolling out AI-powered cameras in delivery vans to monitor drivers, will add pressure to already stressful jobs and put drivers at increased risk of termination at a job that many drivers say is fundamentally punitive.” • Oh, great, telescreens. Good job, Jeff.

News of the Wired

“Episode 184: The Eat Pray Love Coalition” (podcast) [The Trillbillies]. Includes a serious — i..e., not performative — discussion of the psychological effects of the pandemic one year on (albeit discursive, Trillbilly-style).

“Dad-to-be killed when gender reveal device explodes: Police” [ABC]. • This keeps happening. When will the madness end? And why did it begin?

* * *

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 (JP):

JP writes: “Giftmas fungi on a tree from the Seneca Bluff trail along Seneca Creek in Montgomery County, Maryland.”

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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. tegnost

    Whacking thousands of elders in nursing homes is better than a prostitution scandal?

    Shhhh!! You’re saying the quiet part out loud!

    1. Geo

      Sort of related: I recently ran some ads for my movie and the AI bots flagged them for “adult subject matter”. I cut out one shot of a shirtless guy in a bed and the ads passed. All the footage of bloody vampire carnage was fine to use of course. That stuff is fun for the whole family!

      Our Puritan society is absolutely demented. We are hysterical prudes about sex and have no concern for lives.

      1. JBird4049

        What? Won’t the children turn into sex fiends if they see any naked boobies??

        Demented you say? Does anyone remember when slasher flixs first came out and the people who always died were the ones making out. This while blood and body parts were flying about, perhaps in slow motion.

        Heck, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was first released as a PG rated film when one of the scenes was of a man’s heart being pulled from his chest and the still living sacrifice then being incinerated in a pit of lava.

        Are there any good words stronger than demented?

        1. fajensen

          Yes, the Horror: Some Innocent Children can spend their first year attached to a naked boob. A boob the size of a planet from their perspective.

          1. Grateful Dude

            “Boob”? I noticed that women prefer that word. It seems disparaging to me, a male. Our moms and their bodies should be universally honored. But boobies … Woot!

      2. rowlf

        A week or so ago a commenter from Germany mentioned the German censorship practices, which I thought were pretty good. Violence was censored and skin or aardvarking (as Joe Bob Briggs would say) was ok. Seeing as I do not watch tv or movies due to violence that sounded really good.

        I think I could go along with more gun control if gun violence was prohibited also in tv, movies and video games.

    2. Lunker Walleye

      My last uncle passed away on Sunday from Covid at a nursing home on the Great Plains. I have not seen him for years. He was a sweet man of very few words. He suffered greatly on his way out. RIP Ralph.

    1. Greg

      Bad news if you do your thinking on the can in public bathrooms i guess. Although cognitive movements that take place in private facilities with fewer prior clients should still be productive.

      1. Gc54

        Pre covid my classroom regularly exceeded 1000 ppm when I entered following the exiting class. Let everyone assemble, told them the # then threw open the windows to avoid stupor. Not sure the declined # helped.

        At least we dodge the pointless plexiglass dividers nonsense.

  2. chris

    Re: schools and ventilation, yes, a lot of crapified infrastructure and lack of maintenance. But even in schools where they’ve done a good job of updating things people don’t believe it was done. I think we’re approaching a time when people will stop driving over bridges because they won’t trust it’s safe.

    I had a conversation with another parent about our local school and had to show them pictures I had taken a few months back when there were dumpsters full of HVAC equipment and ducts and insulation that had been removed as part of the system upgrades for COVID and even then they didn’t believe me that the school had done what they claimed they had done to make the building safe for kids. Infrastructure is supposed to be invisible because it works so well you can take it for granted. We’re losing that sense in the US right now, if we haven’t lost it already.

    1. anon y'mouse

      the teachers may not believe because doing nothing (except making more work for teachers) is what admin does, and then when someone asks, they engage in CYA mode.

      as a student, i worked in the H.S. library shelving books that had been “borrowed” and moved there from somewhere-or-other to fill shelves so that the accreditation committee coming to inspect would see a full library and not mark down our school. because i’m sure they had lots of other things to mark it down for!

    2. Kurtismayfield

      The problem is that some schools are so old that their HVAC system could not be upgraded in a way to allow it to fit to COVID guidelines. (We have one building in our district that fits that). So it is definitely a question the parents should ask.

      Two directives from the last two days that basically say “We are killing off remote and getting the kids in the building by April!”.

      The Biden administration’s announcement that all states will be testing.

      The DoE of my state today released a directive stating:

      “If granted this authority, I will pursue a phased approach to returning students to the
      classroom, working closely with state health officials and medical experts. Ideally, my initial goal is to bring all elementary school students back to in-person learning five days a week this April”

      So there ya go.. meanwhile we have given the students three options (Two hybrid and a four day a week model) and the vast majority are staying home.

    3. JBird4049

      Get abused enough and even the most emotionally captured victim will not believe the most solid truth when it shows. Rather like those villagers and the boy who cried wolf.

    4. Objective Ace

      Can someone confirm the plexiglass separators (part of many school reopening plans) don’t do anything then? That’s what the “how not to do pandemic precautions” seemed too imply. But it wasn’t explicitly said, nor did I see a source

      Also on nailing windows shut – that’s definitely a fire code violation. Making children less safe at the expense of forcing them to breath Covid. You can’t make this stuff up. Better than the onion

      1. grateful dude

        inexpert opinion, but if air can move around the shield, it isn’t working. Don’t breathe on anyone and don’t let anyone breathe on you. Even masks aren’t perfect, but they do keep aerosols out of your mucus membranes well. Plexiglass (Lexan) shields are impossible to break through, but not so good to hold off little bugs.

  3. Terry Flynn

    Social scientist bad behaviour: when I became middle ranking social scientist a co-author was “God” in math psych. Reviewer #1 attempted to shred me, knowing who I was – by time you achieve mid-career status “blind” reviewing is a joke in the social sciences.

    My “god” co-author wrote most of the rebuttal. Result? Paper published with minor revisions & it’s open access BTW. “Troublemaker” then approached me at first conference we both attended and dressed me down for daring to cross him like that and I believed I received some unsubtle threats. Soon after I quit academia.

    Even “protoges” of the trouble maker subsequently (subtly) intimated their life wasn’t good. I learnt not to care anymore. Else you go mad.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Observation many years ago by a cousin from San Angelo, TX, speaking about a particularly obnoxious neighbor: “Some people just need killin’.”

        1. sandy lawrence

          State motto of Texas sounds right, and one of numerous reported quotes of the (in)famous Judge Roy Bean. From “The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean” (1972), Paul Newman as the Judge:

          [Bean has just shot a man for shooting a picture of Lily Langtry]
          Judge Roy Bean : Justifiable homicide.
          [Goes through the man’s pockets]
          Judge Roy Bean : I fine this man, uh, $50 for disturbing the peace and $10 for lying around.

          Other famous quotes from the Judge:

      1. Old Sarum

        My father, who had lived as a teenager through the bombing of Coventry in 1940 by Germany used to say “We need another war” when some violent act by youths caught his attention. He wanted national service to resume so that said youths would be given better weapons and taught how to be truly violent. Well, that was my interpretation of it.

        Pip Pip!

    2. Val

      Reviewer#1 is thoughtful, concise and improves the manuscript. “This is an important blah blah…”
      Reviewer#2 had some terrible argument with their spouse or offspring this very morning.
      Reviewer#3 has profound unmet emotional needs that they fully intend to take to their grave.

      Occasionally 2 & 3 switch places. Punch back hard enough and they will slither away to abuse those nearer to them.

      1. Terry Flynn

        OMG that is so on the nose….. I fully believe some sort of open reviewing system based on what goes on in certain hard science like physics is required.

        Thanks for making me laugh at what was an incredibly stressful episode in life (at the time).

      2. Rodeo Clownfish

        Another refugee from Academia, here. What is sometimes overlooked is that the editor has picked these reviewers, partly from a list of suggested reviewers provided by manuscript author(s), and partly based on their own knowledge of the landscape of personality and proficiency among other researchers in the relevant field. Sometimes, you may end up with a jerk reviewer because various nicer candidates told the editor they were too busy working on any of the several grant proposals with looming deadlines and could not spare the time to read the manuscript do a review. If the editor him/herself does not care for your work, or works closely in the same field and not as a collaborator, find a different journal or brace yourself for the impact from some very petty reviewers.

        1. Terry Flynn

          Yep. Whilst I didn’t know the editor in this instance, some subsequent “repeat instances” automatically went my way because I knew the editor, he had (I found out) checked me out from genuinely unbiased 3rd parties and knew when someone was trying to familyblog me.

          Another editor didn’t cross me because I found him on grindr and another site but I felt honour bound not to use that power because I was too nice so I kinda retreated ;)

      3. Betty

        A similar process occurs in faculty evaluations. I was young, and saved by a chairwoman (very rare those days) who discovered the negative rater did not stay the full 30 minutes or whatever. So another faculty member was assigned. I couldn’t stand that whole process! Needless to say when the city went bankrupt and most non-tenured profs were laid off and their positions transformed into millions of PT adjuncts, I took the opportunity to get into another field. The late 1970s were an awakening.

  4. jr

    Has anyone else been holding their breath strategically to avoid inhaling someone’s contrail? I just passed a maskless guy muttering into his phone on the stairs, I let him pass and ran up the flight, without breathing, until I reach the landing above. I did have a 95 on, to be clear. Anyway, it seems like a useful strategy.

    1. curlydan

      pretty much all the time. If I don’t have a mask with me, I will pull up my coat/sweater/etc to breathe into it.

      Sometimes I do it at home after someone’s come in from a public place.

      And when I wear a mask and smell cigarette smoke, it drives me crazy as well because I then realize how crappy my dumb mask must be.

      I’m a hypochondriac as well.

      1. Objective Ace

        Your probably over worrying about smoke.

        Cigarette smoke can be as small as 0.01 microns (although they can be much larger up to 1 micron)

        The coronavirus is about 0.12 microns in diameter and N95 (masks) protect down to 0.1 microns, with 95% efficiency, which is where it gets its name.

        Its almost impossible to fully filter smoke. It goes through solid walls

      2. ChiGal in Carolina

        Relax, I remember reading that the molecules that generate odors are not comparable to viruses in terms of filtering.

        And to jr, absolutely; I also cross the street in order not to walk behind people talking animatedly or breathing hard, even if masked.

        1. jr

          Thanks for the comments. I have been double masking in addition to all the other tricks, a surgie or “ear” 95 under a “head” 95. My logic is its easier and cheaper to switch out the inner mask for cleanliness while avoiding touching the harder to find good 95. I can feel the inner mask pull in when I inhale, assuring me of a decent seal. Surgies seem easier than the “ear” 95’s to position.

      1. John Zelnicker

        February 23, 2021 at 9:09 pm

        A few months ago I saw advice (probably on NC) on using a Povidone-Iodine solution at 0.5% to gargle and to spray in your nose to kill the virus.

        You can purchase Povidone-Iodine in a 10% solution and dilute it to 0.5%. Do not use it without diluting it. Iodine can have bad effects on your thyroid.

        I usually gargle and spray whenever I return form being around a bunch of people without masks, which is all too common here in the North American Deep South (hi, ambrit) such as the grocery store.

  5. cocomaan

    Black Reconstruction is a truly excellent book. It will always have a place on my shelf and I recommend it all the time.

    I read it in graduate school and it really introduced me to the idea of political economy when it came to American life. For whatever reason, it’s always stuck in my head more effectively than Howard Zinn’s book.

    What I liked about DuBois is that, while Lambert points out that he was a socialist, he confronts the subject in a really even-keeled way. DuBois’s portrayal of Lincoln shocked me. I could not believe what I was reading.

    One of those moments of clarity you get when you’re baffled by what you read.

    The only thing that ages Black Reconstruction is that, as a product of its time, it doesn’t have the same level of rigor when it comes to citations that we’re used to now. If you’re looking for the “updated” version, my old professor told me that Eric Foner’s “Reconstruction” basically the same book, updated with additional supporting evidence and all the works cited that you could ever dig into.

    The only other book about race in America that I ever found to be as honest and systematic was The Warmth of Other Suns, about the Great Migration, a terrific book.

    1. 430MLK

      Haven’t read Black Reconstruction yet, but I read Foner’s book during the early-shutdown. I need to pick that one up. Foner’s book (it’s pretty massive) devotes many pages to documenting the altered economic relationships that, along with civil rights, were at the center of how Reconstruction shook out. One thing that stuck out to me from Foner’s book was how hard wealthy southern landowners and an emerging class of southern industrial barons (Bourbon Democrats and New Departure Democrats in Kentucky) worked to politically divide newly freed slaves (Republicans) from those landless or cash-poor white southerners lying outside the plantations belts (Union Democrats).

      For a somewhat succinct look at the vigilante component of Reconstruction, I found the Equal Justice Initiative’s _Lynching in America_ document did a good job of driving home the aspects of home-grown terrorism and their far-reaching effects on both individual families and also the more general ‘great migration’ of African Americans to northern cities “for work.”


      1. cocomaan

        The home grown terrorism aspect really reminded me of the American treatment of the Iraqi army in 2003: let them all go home, don’t secure the armories, not our fault what happens next.

        You’re convincing me to get Foner’s book out of the library now!

  6. roxan

    Re, ventilation in schools, when I taught summer high school in Camden, NJ, we had to keep all windows shut and locked even though it was very hot– the kids might escape and mug someone in the park across the street. Likewise, the library, on the south side of the building was so hot teachers assigned students there as punishment for bad behavior. The books were ancient and falling apart, too. The kids wewn’t much interes ted in school. Wonder why?

  7. Keith

    I must tip my hat to Lambert for the “Republican Funhouse” heading. With Trump back in the three ring circus, I think that hits the mark perfectly.

  8. Grumpy Engineer

    You said, “High CO2 is a good proxy for poor ventilation.” I’d like to tweak that: “High CO2 is an excellent proxy for overcrowding combined with poor ventilation.”

    A crowd in a very well ventilated room is low risk. It’s also low CO2.
    Merely two people in a poorly ventilated room is low risk. It’s also low CO2.
    A crowd in a poorly ventilated room is high risk. It’s also high CO2.

    Increased CO2 levels are almost a perfect indicator of increased risk coming from too many people in too cramped a space without adequate ventilation. I need to go buy a CO2 meter.

    1. grayslady

      Regarding CO2 meter: Reason number 597 why I hate algorithms–if you put CO2 meter in the search box of Google, it returns CO meters! Bing-based search engines slightly better, but not much. Even when you type in “carbon dioxide”, you get hits for carbon monoxide. Why is there an assumption that people who work in tech are smart? If they had a liberal arts education that included chemistry, they would know that carbon dioxide is different than carbon monoxide. Idiots! (Rant over)

      1. EricT

        Some search engines can look for the combination carbon dioxide by encasing the two words in quotes. That way it won’t give you results for carbon and dioxide, just “carbon dioxide “.

      2. EricT

        Some search engines can look for the combination carbon dioxide by encasing the two words in quotes. That way it won’t give you results for carbon and dioxide, just “carbon dioxide “.

      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        The search engine called Yahoo or also known as All The Web, must still have a non-sucky algorithm.

        I typed in the 3 words carbon dioxide meters without any quotation marks and the first 8 entries in a row are all about-or-pointing-to carbon dioxide meters.

        The Yahoo search engine link is . . .

        Better use it before Verizon kills it. Because Verizon owns it now.

      4. fajensen

        The machines have just learned to guide us towards ever more extreme content.

        They “know” CO is worse than CO2 so that’s what you will get.

  9. Geo

    “Birds of Texas. Somehow I’d expect a bird with a name like the “Great Blue Heron” to have a more mellifluous song!”

    Not quite the same but if you’re looking for some beautiful songs check out the indie group “Birds of Chicago”. It’s a wife/husband duo that have a folk/soul sound that’s absolutely gorgeous. Again, not the bird songs you post here but worth a listen. :)


    This particular song actually warmed my cold soul and brought a sparkle of tears to my eyes first time I heard it. A good listen for my fellow cynics who need a dose of optimism.

    1. Wukchumni

      We have Great Blue Herons here and I can’t remember any sound they make aside from the one time @ our swimming hole by the river, we were sitting on chaise lounges and one landed on a boulder 15 feet away from us, surveying the action on the water for about 5 seconds when it realized we were they and took off in a very vocal display of ~wings~ flapping…

      When in flight they have a tendency to look like pterodactyls more than any modern bird…

      1. cocomaan

        This fall I was right in the middle of a Great Blue Heron rookery in a marsh on the Eastern Shore of MD.

        I tell you what, those guys are LOUD, especially when you’re trying to be quiet. The Cornell recordings do get across the intonation, but when you’re in a silent marsh and hear GOOOOG, GOOOG and then a WWE match of flapping wings and honking, well, it’s indeed like Jurassic Park.

        One of my favorite birds. Green Herons are neat too.

        I’ve been fortunate to watch the blue and the green kind spearfishing. They have the funniest foot movements as they creep around the flowing streams.

        They don’t just go after fish with that big old head of theirs, either: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=naElLC53tVs (love the musical interlude). I have heard of them spearing mammals as big as adult groundhogs.

        Can you imagine if your face was a spear? That’s life as a heron.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          jurassic park, indeed.
          usually solitary around here, like most large-ish endotherms in these parts…flying from stock pond to stock pond. we’re historically a rather arid place.
          many more at the rivers, with several heron-like birds(and eagles and ospreys, too).
          sandhills are pretty neat to watch at a medium distance, too…maybe 50 yards(those and migrating cattle egrets used to mistake my big greenhouse for a pond, and circle, land and take some time figuring out what went wrong. it’s currently uncovered, sadly…so they pass right by.

        2. R

          In Tarka the Otter, Old Nog the grey heron nearly spears Tarka as a cub surfacing in front of him: his mother saves him.

          Old Nog later eats a rat that had lived a “jolly and murderous life” in a chain-of-life passage about Tarka catching a lamprey on a dying trout as a courting gift for Whitetip. Whitetip rejects it, an older suitor wounds Tarka and drives him off, the trout is eaten by the rat, which is eaten by the heron, Tarka floats down the river in injured self pity and only the lamprey lives happily after.

      2. Geo

        Absolutely love blue herons! Used to see them at my grandparents place when I was a kid and often imagined them as pterodactyls. Such elegant and efficient predators! Seeing them swoop a fish out of a lake was always a thrill to see.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Sometimes they make mistakes in judgement, though. I once saw a great blue heron take a really big fish ( of some kind) out of the river. I watched it spend 20 minutes trying and failing to get it swallowed. After “choking” a while, it would throw it back up and try bashing it all different ways to soften it down enough to change shape enough to get swallowed. None of all that effort worked. The heron finally have up and left the fish on the ground and flew away.

      3. 430MLK

        I am normally accompanied by a Great Blue Heron when I paddle beneath the palisades of the Kentucky or Dix Rivers. (The stretch of the KY River near me has several established rookeries, so they’re quite common.) Normally our travels go like this: I paddle to about 40 feet of the blue heron, perching on a sawyer or planter sticking out of the river; heron then bends skinny jointed legs and leaps into a low-altitude downriver flight, about 15 or 20 feet above the water. I arrive at next bend, where blue heron is perching on a sawyer or planter sticking out of the river; heron then bends skinny jointed legs and leaps into a low-altitude downriver flight, about15 or 20 feet above the water. I arrive at next bend, where heron is perching on a sawyer or planter….

        I often hear the “grrreaat grrreat grreat” sounds on about the 5th or 6th repetition of this, when they normally get fed up with my canoe-meddling, and, lifting a little higher into the air this time, choose a different flight-track that has them flying directly over me to a bend I’ve already passed. (I usually imagine it as a ‘return to start’.)

        1. cocomaan

          Haha, I had a similar experience canoeing, but not them calling at me! I wouldn’t want one of them cross with me, though.

      4. Tim W

        We get them a lot here in NW Oregon and I’m always amazed at how slow they are in flight. Just doing enough to stay airborne….

  10. diptherio

    As an undergrad at the University of Montana back in the late 90s, I gave my first public comment at a Public Service Commission meeting about the proposed deregulation of Montana Power. I was opposed, obviously, and tried to give them an Econ 101 lesson on natural monopolies…to no avail, sadly, as our already-dirt-cheap electricity rates failed to decline as promised, and the deregulated Montana Power Company promptly sold it’s assets to out-of-state companies, tried to transform itself into a telcom company, and promptly went out of business, replacing a whole lot of well paid, stable jobs with a whole lot of current and former MPC employees with retirement accounts full of now-worthless MPC stock. De-reg in MT destroyed more than just infrastructure.

    1. Glen

      It raised power costs to the point where several major mines closed too. The pit at Butte closed. I’m not sure it has ever reopened.

      1. The Historian

        Berkeley Pit ceased operations in 1983, long before the Montana Power debacle. I saw the town decay right before my very eyes when that happened and I knew I had to get my family out of there too. I don’t think Butte has ever fully recovered.

        I haven’t been back to Butte since my youngest graduated from Montana Tech over 10 years ago, but I understand that there is now a plant treating the water in Berkeley Pit.

        1. Ed Miller

          Agree. Butte is a hard place to live. We travel from Portland, OR to Minnesota for family visits, almost always through Montana on I-90 to I-94 (or US12 from Miles City) to Minnesota. Butte is often the overnight stop point if we start early.

          The only area that seems to be recovering is the interstate servicing area, which is mostly owned and operated by national corporations. Local restaurants survive there. They still have a good geology museum.

          Speaking of declining towns/corridors we drove US12 through Montana once. Most don’t know this, but the railroad had a line servicing the valley along that highway many years ago. When the service was ended the railroad actually removed all the steel rails from the entire run. Never ever saw that before. Also, no gas or anything else except abandoned, collapsed wooden structures in a stretch of 100 miles. Motorcycles outnumber cars on US 12 from Roundup to Forsyth. Forgotten places are the norm in much of Montana.

          Compared to Harlowton, Butte is a thriving town. I have seen few towns in worse shape. Dinner of frozen pizza at a bar was the best option for a meal. Actually the only option.

      2. Ed Miller

        Re: Butte open pit mine

        I drove past that mine on my way to a summer job in 1967. I thought it was amazing then, being a young impressionable young man, with all the deep blue inside the mountain.

        Much, much later in 2007 we (now a family with newly adult daughters) visited the site again. The whole mountain had filled with toxic water. Some water was ground water (had to be pumped when the mine was operating) plus highly toxic brine from ore processing that was dumped back into the mine. The mine is now known as the Berkeley Pit. Surprise, surprise it’s a superfund site.


        The sight of the dark brown, toxic water certainly changed my view of mining.

    2. upstater

      The executives cashed out of MPC in the $60s, well before the stock went to near-zero. Employees were prevented from liquidating MPC stock in their retirement accounts until it was $3 or something like that.

      Blame Marc Racicot and the ditto head legislature for allowing deregulation.

      Everywhere electric deregulation has been implemented, consumer cost have gone way up. Pub!ic power agencies and electric cooperatives have had much more stable rates.

      Carter and Clinton did the heavy lifting to push through electric deregulation.

      1. diptherio

        Yes, something that I didn’t make clear enough. Our previously low rates not only didn’t decline, they went up…which isn’t much of a surprise. And the infrastructure assets that (dams, lines, etc) Montanan rate-payers had purchased over the years, through their power bills, became the property of Northwestern Energy and Pennsylvania Power & Light. Grrrrr….

        1. jefemt

          Hydro dams were then sold to a Swiss conglomerate, and then re-purchased later by Northwestern? All at ratepayer expense.

          And now they use old hydro as part of their Green portfolio, as opposed to bringing on new wind and solar. NWE They Are The Devil

    3. montanamaven

      Yes, MPC going from a public to a private utility and the price of energy going from dirt cheap to really really expensive is a story that should be told over and over. Racicot soon left the state after selling out the state. A friend of ours was a lineman and saw his retirement disappear.
      So when I talk to “conservatives” here or anywhere about government run health care, I use the MPC story. Cheap energy to run our small businesses and cheap healthcare for healthy employees should be run as public utilities. And a national guard to help with national disasters and to defend the country. Most everything else can be produced privately. I get some nods of agreement.

      1. upstater

        MPC was never a publicly owned utility. It has always been an investor owned utility. It was a regulated vertically integrated utility.

        1. The Historian

          True! And it was known for its blue chip stocks that always produced a stable dividend which is why it was so preferred as a retirement stock. The company management was always very conservative and prided itself on its steady profits and reliability. Bob Gannon fixed all that!

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Wasn’t PUHCA either deformed or repealed in order to set the Bob Gannons of America free to fix all that?

            Would full restoration of PUHCA permit and drive the re-regulation of power companies?

            Just like a full restoration of Glass-Steagall might permit and drive the re-regulation of FIRE Sectorators?

  11. ChrisFromGeorgia

    Looking at those vaccination charts, I can’t help but notice the recent decline not just in the weather-hit South but all regions of the US. This started about a week ago.

    I wonder if the early adopters/enthusiasts have all gotten their shots and now the “rise of the refuseniks” has begun.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      My first guess is that it’s the weather; the polar vortex hit most of the country, if I recall the maps correctly. Another week and I think we can worry the market’s exhausted. (Also, my impression is that the vaccine data is slow-ish, coming in as it does state by state.)

      1. Nax

        We had several stories in the local television news in California that distribution from vaccine factories (located in areas that were hit by the storms) had been interrupted. It wasn’t stated if production had also been delayed or not.

        Anecdotally I know an elderly woman whose appointment was cancelled due to lack of supply.

  12. occasional anonymous

    ‘Asian America and the Politics of Guilt” [Current Affairs]

    Throwing Asians under the bus as ‘basically just white people’ has been a long time coming in identity politics. You could see it a mile away.

    Stupidpol won’t be satisfied until it’s divided everyone up into hyperspecific categories of one.

    1. Geo

      As much as the current state of IdPol is annoying I find it helps to try to look at it from the another perspective. IdPol isn’t new, it was just always weaponized by the dominant identities (white, male, Protestant, etc) as a way of keeping “others” out of power. Now, IdPol has been democratized and all these various groups, instead of uniting as one force to take down the old hierarchical system that segregated and oppressed, are following the example set for generations and using identity as a way to preserve their own little pocket of power and shun those not like them from their small social dominion.

      Sadly, it goes against what equality movements have fought for and instead of one mass of underrepresented people sharing power to change the system we have mini-fiefdoms of micro-groups engaged in IdPol battles for factional dominance.

      It’s totally counterproductive, annoying, and sad, but not exactly surprising. Sorta like a small nation expelling their colonialist oppressors only to fall under the grip of domestic warlords and rival militias. And, as is so often the case, that factional fighting is often enabled and even stoked by those old colonial powers as a way to retain control without the old overt form of control they’d once employed. Makes the controlled feel like they’re in control as long as they can oppress their neighbor. IdPol seems to serve the same goal. Makes groups feel powerful even though they are still marginalized from real power.

      1. flora

        It’s taken on a very ugly tone in academia. It seems like it’s used to attack the staff or any group including faculty that might try to unionize. Take what happen to Bret Weinstein at The Evergreen State College or more recently to Jodi Shaw at Smith College*. utube ~10 minutes. Idpol is used by management to attack employees who might want to unionize, request raises, etc. It’s management by intimidation in the guise of moral superiority, imo.


        1. Terry Flynn

          Yep. I mentioned above one problem but it wasn’t the only one. I saw the beginnings of all the issues you mentioned and realised I had to get out.

          Ironically it was a bunch of liberal arts female Facebook “friends” who were my early warning sign. I (to them) was “safe” as part of the alphabet (a gay man) but they didn’t realise that I saw idpol as a problem. I left Facebook but told all of my (30ish) friends that I’d love to stay in contact but via more traditional emails. Most never responded. Told me all I needed to know. My true friends stayed in contact and we do old school long form letters (albeit via email) but I’m happier. No weird political agendas etc.

          1. JBird4049

            I just wonder how the Page Act, the Chinese Exclusion Act, Angel Island, and the Manzanar Concentration Camp fits into the “white adjacent” narrative?

            I think that I was in high school when I learned about General Eisenhower’s insistence on the filming of and the for the many visitors including the involuntary tours by Germans of the concentration and death camps; he said that he believed that people would soon deny the existence of these camps. I had thought he had been silly, but not now. Holocaust denialism is an industry. People deny racism has any real negative effects today and that it’s all those people’s fault. And now Asians are privileged by being white adjacent.

            There are still some few survivors of the Holocaust, the Japanese-American “relocations” and of Jim Crow with witnesses of lynchings. We have vast, vast mountains of evidence physical, written, audio, and visual on all of this and people still either disbelieve or spout steaming, heaping piles of manure excusing or minimizing all of it.

            It seems to me like Identity Politics might be better thought of like racism, sexism, and homophobia; a means of denigrating the other group, labeling them as inferior or an evil, and then as something to be controlled or eliminated. If they are bad, then probably their views, ideas, and contributions are certainly of little value.

      2. occasional anonymous

        Stupidpol has advanced far beyond merely being annoying and is now some sort of insane hybrid of McCarthyism and the cultural Revolution. It’s been thoroughly weaponized (assuming it wasn’t simply always a weapon).

  13. RMO

    What is it with Taleb? I read the linked tweet… meh, but maybe a bit of a point there. Then I see below it “Gratitude to Jeff Bezos”: “As an author, I owe Amazon. Before, publishers were subservient to bookstores & their book placement” This seems to happen to me often when I read his stuff. Kind of like consistently finding rat droppings in an otherwise sort of OK fast-food hamburger.

  14. Mike

    Watch Dr. Michael Osterholm interviews: we are being soothed again by doctors, who have no idea how more contagious or deadly all the many new variants are, like the California recombinant variant. New variants +economy = RIP airlines, restaurants, etc.

    Even the vaccines may not protect us later on in 2021 or 2022.

  15. Wukchumni

    My imaginary Bitcoin holdings took quite a hit recently, but no problem as I took out a HELOC on my imaginary Malibu beachfront pad to buy more and cost average.

    Seriously though, does Wall*Street use cryptos as the reason for the much expected downfall on Dow Jonestown even though they bear as much resemblance to stocks as a flounder?

  16. Mikerw0

    A quick look at FRED does not show a steel market in a price spike or disarray. The first question is, hot rolled what? You need to know what product. Next, its not a business that you quickly turn on and off, but the crude steel index shows plenty of capacity (utilization recovered but still will plenty of room). Scrap prices are on a spike, which would indicate high demand from electric arc furnaces. So the price issues, if they are really there, would be in low end, mini mill products.

    More work would have to be done to assess what is really happening.

  17. merdi55

    Wow! Nice turkey tail mushrooms there. (I mean, don’t take this anonymous internet poster’s word for a positive ID) They make a nice tea with many health benefits claimed. Those are in perfect condition for harvest.

    1. fajensen

      This random internet person believes that there are no known acutely toxic species of “flat mushrooms growing on trees”.

  18. Reader_In_Cali

    “Vaccine access codes for hard-hit Black, Latino communities improperly used in other L.A. areas”

    This article is, and the dual blame and guilt that it is attempting to ignite, such lib nonsense.

    a) The design of this “program” is so horrible and lazy that it could never be properly targeted to Black and Brown people, if, in fact, that is the goal (which I highly doubt). A text based code, that by definition could be sent to anyone and spread quickly through an individual’s various social networks. I would argue that this program’s design was actually intended to get those who desire vaccination to get their shots quickly and efficiently. FWIW, it was much easier to fill out the reservation question flow on a laptop, than on a phone (again, largely to the benefit of people with laptops and stable internet connections, in addition to the ability to be able to hike it over to the vaccine site during a work day at the last minute)

    b) The article obscures the fact that it is in the interest of public health for as many people to get vaccinated as quickly as possible, period! And, that there’s a disproportionate amount of vaccine hesitancy in lower income, Black and Brown communities to boot.

    c) You mean to tell me, that the state (capital ‘S’ state and the actual state of California) all of a sudden has some paternalistic care for Black and Brown people? Now??? After deliberately not doing what would’ve kept them safe (and ALIVE!) during this pandemic in the first place (that is, the poor and working class to stay home)??? I call bullsh*t. My spidey senses are tingling, and this feels more like Newsom, et al are trying to buy some goodwill with this flaccid attempt at being equitable, after standing pat while so many people died. This may help him shore up support to defend this latest recall effort

    No one should feel guilty about getting vaccinated. 2020 has thrown into stark relief that it’s every person for themself.

  19. Wukchumni

    I tried to score and got carded on a fake i.d., and they told me to come back in 6 years when I was old enough to be an early vaccine adopter.

  20. JBird4049

    >>>Reminder that oil companies have been preparing for this moment, redesigning tankers, drilling equipment, and offshore platforms for a melting Arctic since the 1970s.

    I was reading about the new shipping lanes for cargo ships in the Northwest Passage twenty years ago in shipping industry magazines; the propaganda against (man made) climate change was still going strong so it was interesting to see members of Congress mocking it while my employers’ industry was studying it and preparing for it; of course, their (and our jobs) depended on these different views of reality.

    Knowing about where the new shipping lanes and perhaps ports were going to be was necessary to get paid in the future ideology be gone. So if companies like Maersk are making noises, you listen. Much like the oil gas industry and Congress.

  21. jr

    Re: Asian American’s and the Politics of Guilt

    Damning article from Current Affairs. Ties in nicely with that article I linked in 2/22’s Watercooler about the flaws of IDpols epistemic foundations. There is so much to note in this article but one point really jumped out. Not only does IDpol tend towards solipsism per the Hypatia article:

    “Since no woman can avoid living a plurality of identities, a central dynamic of identity politics is to move toward ever-shrinking identity groups, for which the logical terminus would have to be not merely subjectivism but solipsism,since no one person’s set of experiences is identical to another’s.” pg. 4

    it commits the sin of begging the question as well per the CA article:

    “If we start with the premise that the category of race can be explained by a particular sense of self or a form of belonging, we are presuming what we are supposed to explain, and we are taking for granted the categories produced by racism.”

    IDpol is tainted at the roots, let alone the poisonous fruit it bears.

  22. The Rev Kev

    ‘T. Greg Doucette
    This vaccination process has been bizarrely efficient. I’m not used to experiencing this level of competence’

    You would think that somebody like the CDC would have worked out a basic procedure last year when it was realized that vaccines were the only way to get out of the pandemic. Just review how it was done in the past and how other countries did it, built a model, tested it out with small groups somewhere, then send out this blueprint to all the the State health departments for local fine-tuning and general use. For the minimal amount of time, money & resources that it would have cost it would have given a big boost to distribution of vaccines across all the States. From what I am reading, it seems that each State was left to work on their own procedures per Trump’s ideas.

  23. Mikel

    “Dad-to-be killed when gender reveal device explodes: Police” [ABC]. • This keeps happening. When will the madness end? And why did it begin?

    I’m suspecting marketing campaigns for various baby products by social media influencers. And that shooting off fireworks has been made a staple of these kinds of parties…it’s something for social media.

  24. Culp Creek Curmudgeon

    Re: “Dad-to-be killed when gender reveal device explodes: Police” I don’t why people keeping getting killed by the explosions, etc. But I think the reason for the gender reveal parties is a deep-seated, unspoken fear of trans and non-binary folk. I’ve got no proof of this, but I do know that gender reveal parties only became a thing after trans and non-binary people became more prominent in society. I don’t think this is a coincidence.

    1. Massinissa

      I believe it had to be a few months ago, but I saw one trans-person doing a gender reveal (gender re-reveal?) video for theirself, complete with their parents being part of it alongside some of that showy nonsense (I think a glitter bomb was involved? Safer than whatever it is these people keep getting killed by), after undergoing a gender transition. Can’t remember if the video was done as a parody style joke or if this is some kind of Trans trend I don’t know anything about, but it sort of makes me chuckle either way.

  25. Jessica

    Lambert, thank you for repeatedly bringing up the idea of the anti-Reconstruction terror campaign in the US South as the world’s first fascism. Grappling with that forces one to see the complexity of the interaction between racism and classism. I may have to read the Dubois work. I have held back because of its length and because it must 85 years later be at least somewhat dated.
    BTW, I would nominate the Black Hundreds in the counter-revolution against the 1905 Russian Revolution and much of the Whites* who fought against the Bolshevik Revolution as an abortive second instance of fascism.
    (*Just to be clear, “White” is this context is the opposite of “Red” politics, not the opposite of the Black race.)

  26. ambrit

    Zeitgeist Watch.
    Had to go fill hypertension meds prescription today. Was stuck in mild traffic behind a new Ford 250 pick-em-up truck. Discreet and ‘tasteful’ bumper sticker on passenger side rear bumper: “No White Guilt.” The truck was all black in colour.

  27. urblintz

    Amnesty International removes Navalny from it’s “prisoner of conscience” list: https://www.rt.com/russia/516395-amnesty-navalny-prisoner-conscience-hate/

    ““Yes, we will no longer use the phrase ‘prisoner of conscience’ when referring to him, since our legal and political department studied Navalny’s statements from the mid-2000s and concluded that they qualify as hate speech,” Artemyev told Mediazona.

    However, he added that the organization will continue its calls for his immediate release since it considers Navalny’s arrest political.”

    I’m not surprised by A,I.’s caveat that his arrest was political… frankly, most arrests are “political” when you think about… but it’s a good thing to have called him out for his crypto-fascism (and I don’t mean bitcoin).

  28. The Rev Kev

    “Once Upon a Presidency”

    Definitely worth a read. Not sure what would happen if your tried to post it over at Kos but I think that it would make a challenge for students to analyze and see how they look at things on the other side of the hill. And it took a Professor of Philosophy to put this together so kudos to him.

  29. kareninca

    I have a friend who goes to Palo Alto Medical Foundation, in Silicon Valley. He got his first shot a recently. Then he went in for his second. This was his experience:

    “I went to PAMF this morning to get the second Moderna shot, but the parking attendant said all immunization appointments had been canceled indefinitely. When I emailed for more info, it turned out that PAMF has not gotten its latest allocation of vaccine because of winter storms.”

    What a great headline:

    “California’s coronavirus strain looks increasingly dangerous: ‘The Devil is Already Here'” (https://www.sfgate.com/news/article/California-s-coronavirus-strain-looks-15972270.php?IPID=SFGate-HP-CP-Spotlight)

    “A coronavirus variant that emerged in mid-2020 and surged to become the dominant strain in California not only spreads more readily than its predecessors, it also evades antibodies generated by COVID-19 vaccines or prior infection and it’s associated with severe illness and death, researchers said.”

    “Ominously, the new study also suggested the California variant could have greater virulence.
    That observation is based on the medical charts of 324 patients hospitalized at UCSF, a relatively small sample. Still, the researchers found that the 21% of these patients who were infected with B.1.427/B.1.429 were more likely than their counterparts to have been admitted to the ICU, and they were 11 times more likely to die. That finding held up even after researchers adjusted for differences in the patients’ age, gender and ethnicity.” (disclaimer added that the increased death rate might be due to hospitals being overwhelmed, but I don’t think our hospitals have been overwhelmed around here, so I don’t see how that would affect this particular study).

    1. Daryl

      Had a similar report from someone in CA who was scheduled to get their second.

      Strangely enough, I was able to register for an appointment next week this morning in TX. The first time I have even seen any availability near me.

      We’ll see, I won’t be surprised if it is randomly cancelled.

  30. Robert Gray

    Re: “Amazon Drivers Are Worried About New ‘Customer-Obsessed’ Disciplinary Program” [Vice].

    In case you haven’t seen it, Ken Loach’s latest (2019) Sorry We Missed You treats this general topic. It may not be among his greatest work but it is typically disturbing.

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