2:00PM Water Cooler 3/1/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I got wrapped round the axle reading a WHO document. More shortly. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Mockingbird, Ecuador.


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:


Case count by United States region:

A little uptick in the South, driven by Texas.

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:

Decline is flattening across the board. Weather? Variants? 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):

That rising fatality rate in the West (red) is what worries me. Of course, the uptick in deaths isn’t good news either.


“Arcane WTO Pact Takes Center Stage in Vaccine Equity Debate” [Bloomberg]. “n the World Trade Organization’s alphabet soup vocabulary, one particular acronym is gaining a lot of attention: TRIPs. Shorthand for the Geneva-based group’s agreement on trade-related aspects of intellectual-property rights, TRIPs sets enforceable rules for the protection of trademarks, designs, inventions and other intangible goods in international trade. Today this arcane 1995 agreement has re-entered the political lexicon as a potential tool to save lives and ensure fairness in the pandemic. India and South Africa have offered a proposal that seeks a broad waiver from the TRIPs agreement’s rules on the production and export of vaccines and other critical medical goods needed to combat the Covid-19 virus. On its face, it’s a simple request. Poorer nations without the means to develop vaccines and other medical technologies should be allowed to do everything they can to treat their citizens without fear of punitive trade retaliation.” But: “While India and South Africa say IP rules for vaccines create unnecessary hurdles to ending the pandemic, opponents of the waiver — like the U.S. and European Union — argue that enforceable IP rules are critical tools that incentivize companies to take the kind of risks that resulted in the development and deployment of multiple Covid-19 vaccines in less than a year.” • For many, Operation Warp Speed guaranteed a market, ffs. Not much risk there!


“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

“When the Left Attacked the Capitol” [Politico]. • In 1971. I’d completely forgotten about this. What a debacle the whole Weatherman thing was, anyhow.

Biden Administration

Biden on unions, worth a listen:

I’ve gotta say, this is miles better than anything Obama ever said (or did. Remember how he betrayed unions on card check?) Two sentences, however, stood out for me:

The choice to join a union is up to the workers — full stop… Every worker should have a free and fair choice to join a union.

This sounds perilously close to “access to unions,” to me. It also stops short of endorsing any actual union (unlike Sanders). The proof of the pudding will be in the eating, when Amazon does the Amazon thing to the Bessemer (and Iowa) workers. What will the Biden administration do then?

“Biden Moves To Reverse One of Trump’s Worst Directives” [David Sirota, Daily Poster]. “In a fact sheet detailing new executive actions, the administration says President Biden ‘is asking the Department of Labor to consider clarifying that workers have a federally guaranteed right to refuse employment that will jeopardize their health and if they do so, they will still qualify for unemployment insurance.’ Biden wants his administration to modify the government’s interpretation of existing laws that say recipients of unemployment benefits cannot continue to collect such benefits if they reject offers of ‘suitable’ work.”

“Harris gets a crash course on foreign policy” [Politico]. “The push started early: the day after the inauguration, Harris called the director-general of the World Health Organization to discuss the U.S. role in the global Covid-19 response. Since then, she has held solo calls with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron, given a speech at the State Department and on Tuesday participated in the first bilateral meeting of the new administration between the U.S. and Canada—an opportunity Biden himself was not afforded when he was vice president… [Halie Soifer, who served as Harris’ national security adviser while she was a senator] noted Harris’ travel to Israel in 2017, early in her Senate term, and her ‘deep commitment to the U.S.-Israel relationship,’ as well as her work on the Senate Intelligence Committee, where Soifer says Harris played ‘a very active role’ in the panel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.” • Swell. You can’t go wrong with Canada, can you?

Biden Walkbacks: “Senate Democrats nix ‘Plan B’ on minimum wage hike” [The Hill]. “Under the backup plan, outlined on Friday by Wyden, large corporations would get a 5 percent tax penalty if they paid workers less than a certain amount, with the amount of the penalty increasing over time. Democrats were also looking at giving tax incentives to small businesses to raise their wages. But Democrats have dropped the effort, with one source familiar telling The Hill that there were concerns that working out the details could slow down the overall coronavirus bill. Democrats want to get the bill to President Biden’s desk before unemployment benefits expire in a matter of weeks.”

Biden Walkbacks: ‘Joe Biden says his hands are tied on a $15 minimum wage. That’s not true” [David Sirota, Guardian]. “The White House continues to say it is ‘fighting our guts out‘ for Neera Tanden’s nomination, even though it might not have enough Senate votes for her confirmation. And yet, the same White House is simultaneously retreating on the minimum wage, seemingly unwilling to force a floor vote on the issue, even though presidential pressure, legislative brinkmanship, and negotiation could change the outcome. In the Tanden situation, in fact, the Biden team is acting like a White House’s power of persuasion and legislative arm twisting can potentially move votes for something a president cares about – in this case, the nomination of a Washington insider to a fancy White House job. The real story, then, is that Biden seems unwilling to use the same influence to push as hard as possible for a minimum wage increase that would boost the pay of millions of Americans during an economic emergency. He has the power to at least try – he just seems unwilling to.”

Biden Walkbacks:

The trope familiar to every Democrat blogger from 2003 on. Perhaps that;’s why AOC had to learn it afresh, all by herself…

Excellent long thread on diversity in the Biden administration. Here is the top:

And the tail:

Democrats en deshabille

“Second former aide accuses Cuomo of sexual harassment” [The Hill]. “The former aide added that Cuomo, 63, told her he was open to relationships with women in their 20s.” • Yes, thank you for this information. “Luv Gov.”

“Cuomo apologizes over allegations, calls for NY AG to tap lawyer for independent probe” [The Hill]. Cuomo emits a classic non-apology apology: “I now understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal and that some of my comments, given my position, made others feel in ways I never intended. I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation. To the extent anyone felt that way, I am truly sorry about that.” • Dude.

Republican Funhouse

At CPAC, Biden not hated (!):

At CPAC, Lighthizer on Trump:

USTR Lighthizer doesn’t fit easily into the cray cray bucket, though of course who knows these days….

CPAC, 2024: “Trump wins CPAC straw poll with 55 percent” [The Hill]. “Former President Trump won the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) straw poll on Sunday, with 55 percent of respondents saying they would vote for him in a hypothetical 2024 primary. In the straw poll that demonstrated Trump’s hold on the GOP, 21 percent said they’d vote for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and 4 percent said they’d go with South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R).”


“Exclusive: How Obama went to bat for Warren” [The Hill]. “[T]he new book ‘Lucky: How Joe Biden Barely Won the Presidency,’ by The Hill’s Amie Parnes and Jonathan Allen of NBC, shows Obama helping Warren in an an October 2019 meeting in New York City with a group of powerful Black donors from the corporate world.” • Spoiler alert…

“Why Was The National Polling Environment So Off In 2020?” [FiveThirtyEight]. “But one reason the polling in 2020 has received so much attention is that down-ballot polling, namely the generic ballot — which asks respondents whether they plan to vote for a Democrat or Republican in their local race for the U.S. House of Representatives — was also off by a similarly large margin in 2020. In fact, as the table below shows, the House popular vote was 4.2 points more Republican-leaning than the polls anticipated, making it the largest generic ballot polling miss in a presidential or midterm cycle since 2006.”


“Once-secret FBI informant reports reveal wider-ranging operation to spy on Trump campaign” [John Solomon, Just the News]. “The now-declassified operational handling reports for FBI confidential human source Stefan Halper — codenamed “Mitch” — provide an unprecedented window both into the tactics used by the bureau to probe the Trump campaign and the wide dragnet that was cast to target numerous high-level officials inside the GOP campaign just weeks before Americans chose their next president in the November 2016 election…. While current FBI Director Chris Wray has insisted the bureau did not engage in spying on the Trump campaign, Halper’s taskings include many of the tradecraft tactics of espionage, including the creation of a fake cover story (he wanted a job at the Trump campaign), secret recordings, providing background on targets, suggested questions to ask and even contact information for potential targets. But the memos’ most explosive revelations are the sheer breadth of the FBI’s insufficiently predicated dragnet targeting the Trump campaign, and the agents’ clearly stated purpose of thwarting any Trump campaign effort to get dirt from Russia that could hurt his Democratic rival.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The Council for National Policy” [Documented]. “The Council for National Policy (CNP), a 501(c)(3), is an influential network of conservative think tanks, right-wing religious extremists, Republican operatives, elected officials and wealthy GOP donors, which have gathered in secret for nearly four decades to advance their social and political agenda. Documented is releasing its archive of CNP materials below, which include CNP Membership directories (12 individual directories spanning September 2017 to September 2020); CNP ‘action steps‘ from meetings; Members only newsletters; CNP Meeting agendas; with more to follow. Documented has also published 59 internal CNP recordings, from inside CNP meetings between 2017 and 2020, available here.” • Quite a trove!

“For a democratic DSA” [Tempest]. I think the key point is this: “National Grievance and Harassment Officer positions should be elected by the convention.”

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.

Leading Indicators: “March 2021 Economic Forecast – A Small Step Back” [Econintersect]. “The effectiveness of stimulus programs is significantly undermined when the economic brakes are not released. The last stimulus was banked by the majority, and the new stimulus being legislated currently will likely end up in the bank also. This is the main reason that this economic forecast showed a lower growth rate – poor consumer spending. In the case of our forecasting model, it was not designed to accurately forecast very swift movements – as our model averages to remove noise. That means the relative decline of the forecast index due to the coronavirus pandemic is understated as the decline was swift and the beginning of the recovery was swift. Analyzing the economic data, the real decline during the pandemic lockdown was much deeper than the Great Recession. A recession ends when the economy begins to recover – and the economy is definitely recovering albeit still marginally in contraction year-over-year. This may be the shortest recession ever at 2 to 3 months. HOWEVER, the pandemic is not over and the coronavirus will decide when it wants to release the economy from its grip. At this point, the coronavirus is in control of the economy and all forecasts are simple guesses. Also, there is some slowing of major indicators which are a cause of concern.”

Manufacturing: “United States Manufacturing PMI” [Trading Economics]. “Although the rate of overall growth eased from January, it was the second-fastest since April 2010 and was supported by sharp increases in output and new orders. Unprecedented supply chain disruption remained apparent, however, with supplier shortages and transportation delays leading to a substantial rise in input costs. Firms were, however, able to partially pass on input prices to clients through the fastest increase in charges since July 2008. At the same time, employment grew at the steepest rate since September 2014, as business confidence also improved.”

Manufacturing: “United States ISM Purchasing Managers Index (PMI)” [Trading Economics] “The reading pointed to the strongest expansion in factory activity since February of 2018. New orders (64.8 vs 61.1), production (63.2 vs 60.7), employment (54.4 vs 52.6) and new export orders (57.2 vs 54.9) increased at faster pace. Also, supplier deliveries slowed (72 vs 68.2) and price pressures intensified (86 vs 82.1, the highest since July 2008).”

Construction: “United States Construction Spending” [Trading Economics]. “Construction spending in the US rose 1.7 percent from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of USD 1.52 trillion in January 2021, an all-time high….”

* * *

Finance: “The resilient mechanics within ARK ETFs” [Izabella Kaminska, Financial Times]. “While Redditors were busy congratulating themselves over their amazing discoveries about GameStop shorts, they may have completely missed the exposed structural shorts baked into some of their own favourite innovation ETFs.” • Hmm.

Shipping: “Los Angeles Port Congestion Lingers, Slowing U.S.-Asia Trade” [Bloomberg]. “The number of container ships waiting to enter the adjacent ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles remained elevated as goods crossing the Pacific continued to face delays of more than a week to reach docks on the U.S. West Coast. Thirty-three vessels loaded with containers were anchored Sunday outside the biggest gateway for American trade with Asia, compared with 34 a week earlier, and 16 more are scheduled to arrive over the next three days, according to officials who monitor traffic in southern California’s San Pedro Bay.”

Shipping: “China’s exporters hit by global shortage of shipping containers” [Financial Times]. “ The surge in exports from China to the west, combined with disruption at ports due to coronavirus, has left many containers out of position, resulting in queues of ships outside ports and soaring freight rates. The Chinese media have dubbed it ‘a single box is hard to find.”…. Roberto Giannetta, chairman of the Hong Kong Liner Shipping Association, said a lack of truckers and warehouse workers elsewhere in the world inhibited the ability of ports to return containers to China. ‘There’s a huge number of containers that are just sitting around the middle of nowhere . . . Australia, eastern Europe, middle America,; he said. ‘It’s like a kind of perfect storm preventing containers from returning back to Asia.'”

Manufacturing: “United orders another 25 Boeing 737 MAX jets to prepare for recovery” [Channel News Asia]. “United Airlines Holdings Inc has ordered 25 new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to receive in 2023 and moved up the delivery of others as it prepares to replace aging jets and meet expected post-pandemic growth in demand, the company said on Monday…. ‘With a number of our aircraft nearing the end of their lifecycle and the growth opportunities that we know will exist in the COVID-19 recovery period, this agreement will help us to grow as demand returns,’ Chief Commercial Officer Andrew Nocella said in a memo. In addition to the new Boeing order, United said it has moved up delivery of 40 previously ordered MAX aircraft to 2022 and 5 to 2023, meaning it will have 94 new aircraft in its fleet over those two years.”

Tech: “Google Is Paying for More Information in a Break With Its Past” [Bloomberg]. “Google is under growing pressure to pay for information that, for two decades, the search provider snipped from the web — and made a mint from — without paying a penny. Australian and French efforts to force Google to compensate news publishers are only the latest examples of a trend spanning the globe. Canada is considering a similar requirement and rival Microsoft Corp. has urged the U.S. to pass a comparable law. ‘If Australia is successful, it could be a precedent for the rest of the world,’ said Belinda Barnet, a senior lecturer at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne. In response, Google has begun paying for more information, but on its own terms rather than rules imposed by strict new laws. In October, the company committed $1 billion to fund a News Showcase that lets users discover and read stories from a variety of sources.” • A “variety of sources” carefully curated by Google and its advisors in the political class (and intelligence communities) no doubt. No thanks.

Tech: “NFTs and a Thousand True Fans” [Andreessen Horowitz]. “Crypto, and specifically NFTs (non-fungible tokens), can accelerate the trend of creators monetizing directly with their fans…. NFTs are blockchain-based records that uniquely represent pieces of media. The media can be anything digital, including art, videos, music, gifs, games, text, memes, and code. NFTs contain highly trustworthy documentation of their history and origin, and can have code attached to do almost anything programmers dream up (one popular feature is code that ensures that the original creator receives royalties from secondary sales). NFTs are secured by the same technology that enabled Bitcoin to be owned by hundreds of millions of people around the world and represent hundreds of billions of dollars of value. NFTs have received a lot of attention lately because of high sales volumes. In the past 30 days there has been over $300M in NFT sales… That said, there are three important reasons why NFTs offer fundamentally better economics for creators. The first, already alluded to above, is by removing rent-seeking intermediaries. The logic of blockchains is once you purchase an NFT it is yours to fully control, just like when you buy books or sneakers in the real world…. The second way NFTs change creator economics is by enabling granular price tiering….. The third and most important way NFTs change creator economics is by making users owners, thereby reducing customer acquisition costs to near zero.” • Making users owners. What a concept!

Tech: “How Etsy Prepared for Historic Volumes of Holiday Traffic in 2020” [Code as Craft]. “We take pride in operational excellence, meaning that every engineer takes responsibility not just for their own code, but for how it actually operates in production for our users. When there is an outage, we always have more than enough experts on hand to mitigate the issue quickly. When we hold a Blameless Postmortem, everyone shares their story candidly. When we discover a technical or organization liability, we try to acknowledge it openly rather than hide it. All of this helps to keep our incidents small. Our approach to systems architecture values long-term continuity, with a focus on a small number of well-understood tools, and that provided us the ability to scale with confidence. So while 2020 had more than its share of surprising circumstances, we could still count on minimal surprises from our tools.”

Tech: “The designer behind one of the iPad’s biggest apps is calling for an end to minimalism” [Fast Company]. In 2012 “a breakthrough app called Paper was released. It transformed the iPad into a slick digital canvas that turned anyone into a professional artist.” For example, me! More: “Now Andrew Allen—Paper’s lead designer—is hoping he’s figured out the next big paradigm of app design…. While companies such as Facebook have used all this new resolution and processing power to explore virtual reality headsets, the software we have on phones and tablets has fallen into a rut of sans serif fonts and hamburger menus. These conventions are largely good for users. When is the last time you opened an app that you couldn’t figure out how to use instantly? But they also lack variety and fail to maximize the capabilities of ever-improving iPhone processing power.” • So what is Allen selling? Among other things, a weather app with a big fancy font where you can rotate the clouds. With a subscription model. That ain’t it, chief. How about something that lets me visualize CO2 in an enclosed space?

Travel: “Bed Bugs Shied Away With Less Pandemic Travel. They’re Not Gone” [Bloomberg]. “Terminix said bed bug infestations have declined because people are traveling less and fewer workers go into offices. But reporting of the problem also dropped because people have been reluctant during the pandemic to invite professionals to their homes for hours of treatment…. Pest professionals warn that the bugs are bound to spread again as people resume travel. Bed bug service calls gradually picked up last fall when people began traveling more, said Benjamin Hottel, a technical services manager at Orkin. And the bugs haven’t disappeared: They can live for a year without eating,”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 65 Greed (previous close: 48 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 58 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 1 at 12:29pm.

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 185. (Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing, so high is better.) You’d think there were Beast Government implications from the Biden Adminstration; apparently not.

The Biosphere

“This complex microbial warfare is taking place in a single drop of water” [Nature]. “Deep in the churning pools of a wastewater treatment plant, microbiologists have uncovered stealth alliances and intrigue that rival human guerilla warfare. The instigator is a microscopic fungus, and its target is rotifers, tiny common aquatic animals that also thrive in wastewater sludge.” • Yet another example of how little we know.

Health Care

New guidance from WHO on aerosols, at long last. Handy decision-making chart:

The issue here, I think, is that you really have to understand your building to make these decisions work, because the airflow in every built environment is unique. That’s going to be problematic for decision-makers who don’t want to involve people on the ground. Here is the document–

“Roadmap to improve and ensure good indoor ventilation in the context of COVID-19” [World Health Organization]. From the executive summary: “The risk of getting COVID-19 is higher in crowded and inadequately ventilated spaces where infected people spend long periods of time together in close proximity. These environments are where the virus appears to spread by respiratory droplets or aerosols more efficiently, so taking precautions is even more important. Understanding and controlling building ventilation can improve the quality of the air we breathe and reduce the risk of indoor health concerns including prevent the virus that causes COVID-19 from spreading indoors.” • I don’t know if this language is strong enough to warrant purchase of anything, whether ventilation systems of PPE. (Perhaps that is not the goal of a WHO document like this, however; I’m not familiar with how WHO guidance works.) In any case, the droplet paradigm is being dragged, kicking and screaming, toward aersols. I don’t see any language here that suggests aerosols are primary mode of transmission.

Sports Desk

“Police Raid F.C. Barcelona and Detain Four People” [New York Times]. “Multiple news media outlets reported that the four people detained were prominent current and former executives of the club: the former president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, who resigned as the club’s president last year, shortly before he was to face a vote of no confidence; Oscar Grau, the club’s chief executive; Roman Gomez Ponti, its head of legal services; and Jaume Masferrer, an adviser to Bartomeu…. Investigators have been looking into Barcelona’s affairs for months, after incendiary revelations suggested the club had secretly hired an external marketing company to produce disparaging social-media content about some of its most important and high-profile players, including Lionel Messi and Gerard Piqué, and other critics of the club’s leadership.” • It gets better! They hired PWC, and…


“How I cut GTA Online loading times by 70%” [nee.lv]. The conclusion: “If this somehow reaches Rockstar: the problems shouldn’t take more than a day for a single dev to solve. Please do something about it :<" • This is written with great clarity. I recommend it to games, programmers, and those who are programmer-adjacent or -curious, and want to see how problem solving in code proceeds. Wow. (Also, Rockstar has internal problems in their business to let this p.o.s. out the door, and have it persist so long.) "How Google's Grand Plan to Make Its Own Games Fell Apart" [Wired]. “In March 2019, Google CEO Sundar Pichai took the stage at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco to tell gamers [that] Google would launch Stadia, a gaming platform built on the company’s cloud infrastructure. Not only that, but Google announced that it would produce its own exclusive titles for the service. It was officially in the business not just of distributing video games but creating them…. Earlier this month, Google announced it was closing Stadia Games and Entertainment, and laying off the 150 game developers it hired to make first-party games for Stadia just a year or two after hiring them. Many of those who lost their jobs still don’t have clarity on why. But sources familiar with Stadia’s operations believe that after pouring tens of millions of dollars into two game studios, Google couldn’t stomach the expensive and complicated creative process necessary to build high-caliber video games—especially considering Stadia’s unremarkable subscription numbers.”

Imperial Collapse Watch

British McMansions:

Class Warfare

“Could an Amazon union form in Iowa? The Teamsters say they’re organizing employees” [USA Today]. “International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 238 Organizing Director Buzz Malone said Friday that he has been recruiting workers to organize since November. He said the union has approached ‘400 to 500’ current or former employees, primarily tied to Amazon’s distribution centers in Grimes and Iowa City. ‘We’re going to continue to organize them and turn them into a cohesive group to fight for their wages and conditions here,’ Malone said….Malone said the union is demanding from the company higher pay and less stringent rules, particularly regarding how fast warehouse employees and drivers have to work.”

“Silicon Valley Bus Drivers Restored Community Rides for Free—By Taking Matters into Their Own Hands” ]Labor Notes]. “With Covid cases surging in their ranks, bus drivers in Santa Clara, California, demanded to resume rear-door boarding, which is proven to reduce the risk of infection. Management of the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) balked, even blaming the workers for getting sick. Pressure mounted from the leadership of Transit (ATU) Local 265, and from rider and community groups. But it was rank-and-file bus drivers who forced management’s hand when they started planning to stop boarding at the front door whether the agency agreed or not. Bosses prefer anything to allowing workers to run the company. On February 3, the agency announced that it would resume rear-door boarding.”

Zeitgeist Watch

A long thread that turns out to be about Korean zombie movies:

Interestingly, Korean zombies don’t shamble; they run.

News of the Wired

“‘To Me, This Penis Is Out of Control’” [The Atlantic]. “The world of Danish children’s television is not for the prudish. Kids who turn on the tube in Denmark might be greeted by gratuitous flatulence, cursing, casual nudity, or cross-dressing puppets. One show centers on a pipe-smoking pirate who wallops ninjas and flirts with Satanism. In another, an audience of 11-to-13-year-olds asks probing questions about the bodies of adults who disrobe before them. As Christian Groes, an anthropologist at Denmark’s Roskilde University, told me, Danish children’s television is not unlike an LSD trip: ‘Everything is possible in that universe,’ he said, loosely quoting a friend, ”and people won’t complain about it.” But people did complain when the Danes debuted a kids’ animated series in January featuring a protagonist with an absurdly long, prehensile penis.” • Prehensile? Wait, I thought… Oh.

Good one, Dad:

(Actually, modulo the cropping, I love vernacular religious art like this. For me, it’s next door to animism.)

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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:

Fan coral. Perhaps Biggest Fan Coral? (The photographer asked not to be mentioned, but what a lovely image.)

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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. Laurence Peterson

    Regarding the reference to Biden’s statement on the unionization election in Bessemer, AL, is it just me or is anyone else really angry about the timing? Since balloting began just last week, I would guess Amazon will not be holding any more meetings with employees in which they can propagate an antiunion message anyway; and if this is the case, one wonders why Biden did not come out before the balloting, when his words may have resulted in the actual cancellation of meetings actually planned for that very purpose by Amazon. The gesture appears, in this light, empty and manipulative in the extreme.

    1. farragut

      “Everyone should have access to unions! Unless the Parliamentarian says, ‘No’.”

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Its cowardice under most circumstances, and the greater story is simply this makes Biden officially the most pro-union since LBJ, well pro-union Democrat. He still has some lifting to catch up to Ford. The US is terrible.

  2. zagonostra

    Mockingbird, Ecuador…I thought for a moment the Bird Song of the Day had to do with the CIA and recent elections…as in “operation” mockingbird.

  3. Carolinian

    re TRIPS–even if you think Pharma has a role in creating drugs like, oh say, Viagra (in line with today’s penis theme), it’s surely absurd to apply the profit motive to an international pandemic and shame on the US and EU for doing so. I’m told that in places like Phoenix it’s still very hard to get vaccinated. Perhaps the Cubans or Russians could help us out.

    1. Alex Cox

      Here in Oregon 65s were as of today invited to sign up for vaccinations by phone.

      NC readers may not be surprised to learn that my wife and I spent the day on hold, were repeatedly disconnected, and did not get to speak to an operator.

      An 83 year old lady back east organizes meet-the-locals-and-avoid-nuclear-war trips to Russia. I wonder if we went on this year’s visit we could get the Sputnik?

  4. miningcityguy

    Biden on Unions

    In addition to completely failing the unions on card check,Obama, despite the efforts the unions put forth to elect him in 2008, did nothing in 2011 to aid the Wisconsin public unions when Scott Walker was destroying them in 2011. Obama, being something of a macroeconomic moron, was wholeheartedly embracing austerity at that time and essentially endorsed what Walker was doing,


    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Was Obama a macroeconomic moron? Or a macroeconomic saboteur-of-opportunity when he suspected the richness of the rewards he would reap after office depended on pro-upper-class actions while in office, even if they sabotaged the macroeconomy?

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Calling Obama a moron reduces how obsequious he was to the rich. He didn’t not understand or buy the GOP arguments they use for justifying their horrid policies as much as he simply wanted to kick the 99%.

    2. Riverboat Grambler

      Yep. I was at those protests. And it only got better; during the historic recall election against good old Scotty Walker the Dems put up Tom Barret: the guy who lost to Walker the last time around! He lost by an even bigger margin in the recall, and in 2014 the dems put up Mary Burke, who was more moderate than other candidates BUT Dems loved her cause she was a millionaire who could self-fund and isn’t that the most important thing in an election? She lost.

      It wasn’t until 2018 that Scotty’s popularity bled out enough to be defeated by dem moderate Tony Evers, who is pulling his punches with the state GOP to this day.

  5. rjs

    i have a long subheader on my oil & gas post this week, for anyone who’s interested in seeing the impact of the Texas freeze off…

    natural gas supplies see 2nd largest drop on record as US burns 15% of inventories in one week; oil prices hit highest since 2019 as US oil exports drop most on record, oil production drop matches record; distillates’ output drops most on record to an 11 year low; oil refining and distillate exports drop most since Hurricane Harvey; refinery utilization at a 40 month low; gasoline output falls by most in 46 weeks to lowest in 38 weeks; gasoline demand falls most in 43 weeks to a 39 week low…

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      If this leads to natgas prices so punitively high as to force consumption downward, would that be a bad thing?

      1. ambrit

        Such a process would be regressive in the extreme. Until cheap “green” energy is made available to all, the average standard of living will depend on the price of carbon based fossil fuels.
        In cold climates, such a ‘forcing down’ of consumption will result in “excess” deaths at the lower end of the wealth continuum.
        Significantly higher transportation costs will force a reorganization of our farming practices, and distribution patterns.
        The Great Famine of the 2030’s will be a testament to the bankruptcy of the neo-liberal model of social organization.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Well, then lets just see it go up enough to punish luxury consumption without preventing survival consumption.

          At some point, fossil fuel consumption will go way down if we hope to survive. I just want to see it go way down at the top of the ladder, and then work its way down to our lower rungs. Not starting with the lower rungs and then staying there.

          1. Baldanders

            And your hypothetical push to punish luxury consumption will punish survival consumers more than luxury consumers, no matter what.

            The relentless calls for belt-tightening by environmentalists will ALWAYS hit the poor more, so nothing new there.

            1. rjs

              problem is the poor always get f**ked more by the environmental problems that the environmentalists are pushing against, so they’re damned if they do as well as damned if they don’t..

        2. Carla

          “In cold climates, such a ‘forcing down’ of [fossil fuel/natural gas] consumption will result in “excess” deaths at the lower end of the wealth continuum.”

          Oh, ambrit. Oh, dear ambrit. I live in Cleveland, Ohio, and I am so sorry to say that what my long life is teaching me is, that’s EXACTLY THE PLAN. As Lambert repeats: everything’s going according to plan.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Perhaps natgas should be escalatingly charged for in progressive threshhold amounts.
            The first decent survival and comfort amount could be charged least-for per unit. Then luxury consumption after that could be charged more per luxury unit. Then any gas consumed at or over the disgustingly decadent threshhold should be charged most per unit.

            That would remove the price of decent survival gas as being a threat to anyone’s decent survival.

            Meanwhile , living long is the best revenge. And living longer is the bester revenge.
            And living longest is the bestest revenge of all.

            1. Rod

              Best to have a pocketful of imaginative possible solutions handy for the those threatened by what we know inevitable—a massive retreat from fossil fuels consumption. To show there are other ways…

              1. drumlin woodchuckles

                Such possible solutions from the tiny to the large scale do already exist. But information about them is thinly scattered all over the infomation universe the way plankton is scattered all over the ocean. A first step to allowing more people to even find out about these things would be to start assembling the information or sources of it into one or a few easy-to-find places. Hopefully the few people who found those places at first might advise more people of them, who would advise more people of them, and so on.

                Here is one such source pointing to some interesting possible solutions to problems.

                What if several thousand people each knew of one such source of information apiece? What if there were one place where those thousands of people could bring those thousands of pieces or sources of information to? So that seekers could see these thousands of links and sources and bunches on information at one place?

                Meanwhile, here is a small thing I tried out and find works. It illustrates how slightly re-wording a problem helps to solve it. Let’s say it takes X gas to boil a set of hard boiled eggs totally immersed in water the way everyone just knows. But if you put the same eggs in a pot with only 1/8th of an inch of water in the bottom of the pot, and turns on the heat just enough to just barely boil some steam up off the water, the steam surrounds the eggs and dumps its ” heat of vaporization” into the eggs while condensing on the eggs and dripping down them back into the water at the bottom of the pot. Where it rises back up to re-surround the eggs and dump more “heat of vaporization” into them and round and round. Tightly fitting the lid onto the pot will keep the steam inside and hard-steaming the eggs for a fraction of the heat-use it took to hard boil them.

                1. Rod

                  But information about them is thinly scattered all over the infomation universe the way plankton is scattered all over the ocean. A first step to allowing more people to even find out about these things would be to start assembling the information or sources of it into one or a few easy-to-find places.

                  I agree. Thanks for the link. And a bounce back with this user friendly primer.


                  I believe NC will get a “Solutions” section established soon.

                  There will not be one big pill that does it all.

      2. rjs

        @drumlin woodchuckles: at this point it’s moot…while spot gas prices spiked more than a hundred-fold during the cold snap, they’ve already retreated to below where they were when the polar vortex arrived…

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Well then, we need to go back to using as little natgas as feasible to re-keep the price of natgas low enough to keep coal comatose. While using as little electricity as feasible to keep demand for electricity somewhat restrained so as to undercut demand for coal even more and keep coal even more comatoser.

        2. Rod

          Talking about the changing Weather is not the same as talking about the changing Climate.
          imo, like spot prices – v – long term trends

  6. farragut

    Regarding Korean zombies, I had the pleasure of stumbling upon “Train to Busan” last year and it was terrifically entertaining. I don’t recall it being gratuitously gory; there is some gore, but not nearly the same amount as in peers. I understand Hollywood is poised to remake an American version, but I can’t imagine its version will top the original.

    In the same vein, the Korean fictional historical drama, “Kingdom” is excellent. Set ~500 years ago, it’s nominally about zombies, but it’s really about political intrigue–the zombies are really an afterthought. Compared to Busan, these zombies are even less gory. While the storyline and acting are very good, the best thing about this series is the stunning cinematography. It’s a visual feast.

    1. a different chris

      Train to Busan is simply awesome.

      >I understand Hollywood is poised to remake an American version

      Ugh. Pass.

      >In the same vein, the Korean fictional historical drama, “Kingdom” is excellent.

      Thanks I will look for it.

      1. ambrit

        Hmmm…. A Zombie Empire pseudo-historical film? Something like, urrrr, “Dead Man’s Burden?”
        I’ll look those films up. They sound like fun. As an aside; ‘over there,’ film makers do Magical Realism plots and call it Art. Here, politicos do the same and call it Politics.

        1. farragut

          Clarification: ‘Kingdom’ is a TV series purchased by Netflix. Two seasons, with 6 episodes per season.

    2. c_heale

      I have to disagree about Train to Busan. I felt the characters were little more than cliches. There are much better Korean movies. (n.b. I live in S. Korea)

      1. farragut

        Fair point. But when I sit down to watch a zombie action movie, I’m not looking for nuanced character development, pathos, or revelatory insights into the human condition. I want a decent plot, humor, and adrenaline. Lots of adrenaline. :-)

      2. occasional anonymous

        Pretty sure they’re all meant to be stereotypes, because Train to Busan isn’t actually about zombies. It’s a critique of Korean class dynamics. It also has a sequel, set in the same universe, which is a much, much worse film despite having the same director, producer, and writer as the original, because it isn’t actually about anything other than zombies.

  7. drumlin woodchuckles

    So Asia has trouble getting its emptied-out shipping containers back? No problem. They’ll just make new ones and write off the old ones.

    Maybe we can turn the old ones into Affordable Housing Units.

  8. Lee

    “‘To Me, This Penis Is Out of Control’” [The Atlantic]. “The world of Danish children’s television is not for the prudish.”

    By limiting my frequent watching of European film productions to crime dramas, particularly Nordic Noir, I’ve obviously been missing out.

  9. QuicksilverMessenger

    FC Barcelona. Wow. There are lot of loathsome football (soccer sorry!) clubs in the world: Real Madrid (Franco’s club!), Chelsea (Russian oligarch money! But how did he get it? We don’t care! We’re winning now!), Manchester City etc
    I always admired Barca as a club “of the people” (though not exactly), the symbol of Catalunya. Admired the club but still can’t stand their tika-tak style of eternally passing the ball this way and that, possession being the first order priority. Maybe this is even still the legacy of Cruyff. Idk. Watching them play makes we want to gouge my eyes out from boredom. Normally I wouldn’t care too much as it’s just one club, and one style, but you can see now how the ‘Barca way’ has infected even mediocre clubs. Gawd help us

    1. dougie

      John Cippolina approves your online moniker. “Happy Trails” is still my go-to album from the 60’s SF scene.

      1. QuicksilverMessenger

        RIP John Cippolina (long ago). And now you can find a lot of live recordings of QMS from 66 and early 67 at the Fillmore and Avalon. Great guitar work from Cippolina, one of the best. Puts you in a mood that’s hard to find in this day and age. If you’re into any of the streaming services you can get them there.
        And Dave Freiburg is still around too- 82 years young!

          1. QuicksilverMessenger

            I find the era fascinating and I was born too late for it!. Go figure. I came across this ‘documentary’ by Jack O’Connell called Revolution (came out in 68) but was filmed in the summer of 67 in the Haight. It follows a young hippie who calls herself Today. There a lots of ‘interviews’ with diggers, kids on hippie hill, artists, etc. Also QMS live at what looks like an Avalon dance, Steve Miller, Ace of Cups (a girl group). And a famous filming of an acid session with a group of young people with QMS’ Babe I’m Gonna Leave You as the soundtrack. Just look at their eyes!


    2. phoenix

      “Admired the club but still can’t stand their tika-tak style”

      blasphemy. The Barcelona sides from the mid aughts to the end of xavi’s career played some of the most beautiful football of all time. Or maybe you prefer Mourinho’s park the bus style of absorbing pressure for 90 minutes and trying to hit a team on one break? c’mon man. I’d say the counter-attacking style has infected way more clubs than tiki-taka which requires far more skill throughout the squad to properly execute

      1. QuicksilverMessenger

        Of course there are more than two ways to play football- it’s not just the Barca way and the Mourinho counter-attacking, though that can be exciting, just as excellent defending can be exciting. But one can’t deny this scourge of “playing out from the back, keepers included” is all over the place now. It’s deadening
        I’m thinking much more about Ferguson’s United; Milan with Van Basten, Gullit, Baresi; Bayern Munich now and even in the 70s; Arsenal under early Wenger, France with Zidane and co. These sides played an athletic, power game with bigger athletes, aggressive attack and aggressive defending. And they all scored plenty of goals- they just didn’t need 30 monotonous 4-yard passes and a tap in from the 6 yard line. To each his or her own though!

        1. deplorado

          Milan with Van Basten, Gullit, Baresi, and Rijkaards was the best.

          Gullit made playing soccer look easy, natural and fun like dancing, and Van Basten made impossible, beautiful, stunning shots that lingered in your mind’s eye. Maybe it was my young age but they and how beautifully the whole team played were sublime to watch.

    3. Bruce F

      I just watched the full match of Real Madrid – Barca from 2009. While agree with you that later versions of tika-tak is boring, the version from 2009 was incredible. Their movement/play in this game was menacing/amazing/arrogant. I’m guessing you’ve seen it before, if not, check it out.

      I’ve watched a lot of sports, this team was up there with Jordan’s Bulls, the 80’s Lakers/Celtics, and Muhammad Ali at his best.


      As an aside, thanks to everyone at NC who make the comments a treat!

  10. Mikel

    RE: Biden Walkbacks: ‘Joe Biden says his hands are tied on a $15 minimum wage.”

    Not yet 100 days and “hands are tied.”

    1. Kurtismayfield

      I am happy Sirota is trying to educate the squad on Lucy pulling away the football. Next he needs to share this gem:


      From the vault:

      “After what seemed an age, lights suddenly snapped on, and, blinking into the sudden brightness, I beheld at the bottom of the stairs a man I recognized as a prominent Democratic consultant.

      “Who are you?” he snapped.

      “I’m from the DLC,” I lied. “I’ve come to check on the powder.”

      “Of course,” he nodded. “The FISA thing. I suppose they’re rending their garments up there again, those people in the Nutroots. Don’t they understand what would have happened if we hadn’t given the president everything he asked for, and there’d been an attack on this country while we were on August recess in the south of France?”

      He shook his head. “It takes months to make those sorts of reservations–and we would have had to rush right back!””

      Yes, those reservations are important!

    2. Glen

      Maybe we can get the Senate Parliamentarian to tell Biden it’s a war crime to bomb Syria, and see what happens.

      1. Late Introvert

        Biden already had War Criminal printed on a flaming tire hung around his neck, so proving it again during the First 100 Days is now farce.

  11. Mikel

    RE: Finance: “The resilient mechanics within ARK ETFs” [Izabella Kaminska, Financial Times].

    No FT subscription. But will hunt for other link.
    I took a look at the WSB Reddit over the weekend. (First found out about it last year after research on a stock’s sudden rise led me there).
    Now it’s a Marketing/Propaganda madhouse like no other.

  12. Matthew G. Saroff

    I am less concerned about Victoria Nuland’s consulting payouts than I am that she fomented a coup in the Ukraine by consorting with Neo Nazis when she was Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs .

      1. The Rev Kev

        An unconfirmed report says that she was seen handing out cookies outside the Capital building during the riots there.

  13. jr

    Re: Micro-murderers


    This is a great Utoob channel that is all about microorganisms. They use high level magnification microscopes to follow the lives, loves, and lunches in a simple drop of water. Very relaxing and informative.

  14. jr

    Re: Governor “Handy Andy”

    Every time I see Andy and Chris together side by side, I am left with the unshakeable impression that Chris is the ventriloquist’s dummy version of his older brother.

    1. Michael Ismoe

      We need more hard-hitting journalism like this. Maybe Jill can grill Joe on national TV and then answer her own questions while he just sits there like a sack of potatoes.

  15. Mikel

    Re: Google / Games

    “…Google couldn’t stomach the expensive and complicated creative process necessary to build high-caliber video games—especially considering Stadia’s unremarkable subscription numbers.”

    Ok. Maybe sub numbers weren’t there yet but says something about the disconnect between tech “innovation” and creativity?

    1. jr

      I briefly tried my hand at 3d modeling for video games with an amateur outfit online. It’s an incredible amount of work and we were just using the Doom engine, not starting from scratch. I think a lot of modern games are pretty much clones of one another because it’s easier to sell the boardroom on something that has already made some cash and can be hammered out as cheaply as possible, as opposed to a brand new idea. For every good game there are plenty of weak ones. More than once I’ve seen a basket of games next to a Playstation or whatever that never get played. Why? The answer is inevitably “They suck.”

      1. Baldanders

        I own a XBONE, but I rarely buy AAA titles. Mostly I play a handful of games with excellent gameplay.

        And on my PC, I have been playing the nearly 30 year old Master of Orion games.

        Graphics sell, but solid design is what I care about.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Maybe Google figured out that they could just not go into gaming and buy dominance there. That to do so would require years of work, massive financial investments, thousands of qualified professionals of all types, etc. So they lost interest when they realized what would be required as Google, like a lot of Silicon valley corporations, is just only interested in the fast bucks.

    3. occasional anonymous

      They weren’t there yet because they were never going to get there at all. Stadia is a streaming service; the game is actually running on a server somewhere and they stream the game to you as video. This is a pretty niche thing to begin with (most people want to actually own the games they buy), but Stadia also has problems with latency between player input and the server receiving it and then the player actually seeing it happen on screen at their end. Also, like everything streaming, quality is bandwidth intensive, and much of American (and also places like Australia, or so I’ve heard) internet is terrible and not up to the task. Games are (mostly) going to look and play better running locally on a PC or console.

      The whole point of the Google developed Stadia-exclusive games was to try and create demand. But now they just view that as throwing good money after bad.

      And if you really do want a gaming streaming service, there are multiple much better choices than Stadia. Google has spent a lot of time and money developing a thing that has a narrow use, and is inferior to multiple competing products anyway.

  16. Synoia

    Could an Amazon union form in Iowa?

    A friend of mine, a Unionist said: “Companies get the Union (Behavior) they Deserve.”

    Union actions are a reaction to an Employer”s policies and behavior.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Exactly. Back in 1980, when I was a young Slim, I worked at a printing company in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

      To be perfectly frank, I was beyond bad at my job. They let me go after one pay period, and they made the right decision.

      However, to this day, I have nothing but good things to say about this company. Why? Because they killed their employees with kindness.

      The company managers were quite upfront about the reason: The UAW had been trying to organize at this company. And the union had gotten nowhere.

      1. Late Introvert


        I grew up in Iowa and remember well payed union jobs at the slaughter houses (not “meatpackers”, yuck) until about 1985 or so, around the same time they crushed the tire plant unions in Des Moines.

        Conservatives love St. Reagan to this day.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        Were these the American workers who were perfectly willing to do “those jobs” at union pay scales and conditions? And didn’t the companies push and drive them into a corner with no way out but to strike so that the companies could break the strike and break the union and replace every strikebroke union worker with illegal aliens?

        And isn’t this history entirely unknown to the illegal immigration advocates who claim that Americans ” won’t do those jobs” and that’s why we need illegal immigration?

      3. rowlf

        In the 1980s when I was an IAM member we used to stereotype ignorant fellow union members by saying they probably drank Coors beer, ate Hormel chili and drove on Firestone tires. We used to have lists of all the products to boycott due to labor disputes.

  17. clarky90

    Re; “Ave Maria”

    Orthodoxy Chants Spiritual Songs Sacred Medita


    I often have this one hour long YouTube on my big TV. I pause it, because I love the utterly exquisite (imo) image of the Theodokos (“The Bearer of God”- the teenage, solo mum, Mary), and her beautiful Baby Boy, Yashua (Jesus), as an image in my living room.

    I have no idea what the name or origin of this painting is. There is no info about it on the channel. I did a brief image search, but found nothing.

    The music is also, very beautiful.

      1. jr

        You guys may enjoy this:


        “A Cheerful Noise: Songs and Dances of Medieval and Renaissance Times played on the original instruments”

        The third section of “Lauda and Motet” is the whole of Life in a bit of music…I first heard it when COVID struck and I was alone for a month while my girlfriend tended to her elderly mother. As I was listening to it, a light, the color of which will never be seen again in the Universe, came into the window like an angel. I felt a rush of elation and burst into tears at the sight of it; I’m sniffling now just listening to it again.

        1. rl

          Thank you for this link as well, jr. I have not listened yet as I am working very late tonight, but your comment strikes home.

          You have reminded me of Arvo Pärt’s De Profundis—a setting of Ps. 129/130 that caused me to weep when I first heard it. Now even the memory is enough to soothe me when I’m troubled. Impassable gentleness.

        1. clarky90

          “What ever?” (aka “come what may”). Kids do this all the time, accompanied by a big, audible sigh of exasperation. “REALLY?….. really….??”

          During a day, I will often roll my eyes to the sky and do the same. It always works

          “rl”, Re; Our Lady of the Sign. I would have never known this, except for you. Thanks friend

  18. NotTimothyGeithner

    This isn’t the last bill we will adopt this year.

    Even the “centrists” are defeated. I think they really thought the GOP was going to simply do things for them.

    1. Michael Ismoe

      If Wall Street gets themselves into a pickle we will see what “immediately” looks like.

  19. DJG, Reality Czar

    I am leery of polling about Trump as boss of the Republican party and shoo-in as the next Republican candidate for president.
    –We are in the glorious afterglow of his term, which only ended five weeks ago, so the polls are a lagging indicator, in a sense.
    –A characteristic of the Republican Party is that it is hierarchical and tends to run its candidates in the order in which they emerge as viable candidates. In spite of the melodrama of McCain as maverick, he, too, awaited his turn. So the ambitious young Republicans have to wait for Trump to pass on another term.
    –Did I mention “young”? Trump turns 75 in June. I’m not sure that he will be willing to wander around America at the age of 77, in the summer of 2023, on campaign, especially given his weight. I see health issues on their way.

  20. JWP

    RE: minimalist apps:

    Wouldn’t apps that are more complex and beautiful also require amazingly more storage and processing power and therefore take up a ton more energy and water at data centers? If so, I don’t think it’s worth it, there’s plenty of beauty in physical art and nature. Furthermore, this could also make us more addicted to phones with moving interactive images at every corner. I’d Rather have the concept applied to the built environment.

    1. hamstak

      I tend to think this is at least to some extent the promotion of a “manufactured cycle”, much as you have in the fashion industry. Minimalism has run its course (no new icons to make!), so we return to intricacy, for maybe a decade, and then back to minimalism. Gotta keep that creative class in bling, after all.

      Of course, at that point we might* have cellphones implanted directly into our brains, capable of 3D projection into the visual cortex — if Elon Musk has his way with Neuralink. Can’t wait for those Zoom meetings!

      *We will not.

    2. hunkerdown

      >Wouldn’t apps that are more complex and beautiful also require amazingly more storage and processing power and therefore take up a ton more energy and water at data centers

      The code and other assets to build the complexity and beauty aren’t all that hard on the servers; they just sit there as static files, handed out verbatim to all requestors. The complexity and beauty mostly implicates the browser side of the connection that has to do the work of laying-out and drawing it to suit your window or screen dimensions.

      hamstak’s sibling comment has got the driving dynamic exactly right, however: changing fashion makes work for the creative class. To paraphrase one major company’s informal development strategy for their flagship platform product, Web 3.0 ain’t done until Web 1.0 won’t run.

  21. marym

    “Congressional delegation to visit Amazon facility in Alabama to support union vote

    The delegation will include U.S. Representatives Andy Levin, Jamaal Bowman, Cori Bush, Terri Sewell and Nikema Williams among others, said a spokeswoman for the Retail, Wholesale & Department Store Union, which is supporting the workers’ effort to unionize.”


  22. Terry Flynn

    An online fully multiplayer version of The Sims – an extremely established game – has been “in the works” for ages. I gather an earlier attempt didn’t work and the existing version is still going strong, with the makers finding that adding mods (modifications) is far more profitable/popular.

    After game designers initially disliked attempts to “break” their games they came to embrace these: GrayStillPlays is a yootoober I watch who provides hilarious run throughs of games where he “breaks” their internal laws of physics etc or blatantly manipulates characters in highly inappropriate ways that go way beyond the early stuff people got SIMs to do.

    During lockdown he got two competing houses – one full of young party goers and another with older “sensible” people to compete to see who’d die off first following a virus. It was surprisingly close result. He also (I’m convinced) acts like a white hat hacker which game developers use to iron out bugs (or deliberately NOT for the lulz). A running joke is loading time for GTA and there is clearly (still) lots of mileage in non-cloud-based games that are long established so I’m not surprised by the gaming stories.

  23. Will Short

    Lambert, was hoping you would make comment on bedbugs story re new class “Pest Professionals”!

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