2:00PM Water Cooler 3/15/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I had a workflow debacle where I accidentally sent my enormous haul of weekend nuggets and scraps to the wrong account, which took me awhile to sort. Here are some conversation starters. Please check back for more. –lambert UPDATE All done!

Bird Song of the Day

The insect sounds are so summery!


The worst case scenario:

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. If we are in the eye of the storm, we are still in the eye of the storm.

Vaccination by region:

That’s the stuff to give the troops! The jump is a data artifact. • Early in February, I said a simple way to compare Biden’s performance to Trump’s on vaccination would be to compare the slopes of the curves. If Biden accelerated vaccine administration, post-Inaugural slopes would get steeper. They have not. The fragmented, Federalized, and profit-driven lumbering monstrosity that we laughingly call our “health care” “system” has not responded to “energy in the executive,” but has continued on its inertial path.

Case count by United States regions:

Before we break out the champers, we would do well to remember that cases are still well above the peak New York achieved early in the crisis, then regarded, rightly, as horrific.

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

New York leads.

Test positivity:

Humongous drop in the West, but is this a data artifact?


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):

Good to see those deaths dropping.

* * *


“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

Biden Administration

“How to get Joe Biden to tell us something new (because there’s a lot we don’t know)” [Dan Froomkin, PressWatch]. “That’s why I’d like to see at least some questions that don’t have talking-point answers, and that will add to our understanding of how this presidency is going to work. Ideally, they would not only provide transparency, but encourage even more of it. So I’ll start with some of those.” • Here’s an example:

Q. When speaking extemporaneously, you occasionally interrupt yourself in mid-sentence and go on riffs that don’t seem directly related. Sometimes it’s not easy to figure out exactly what you mean. What are we to make of that?

I picked the most incendiary one, but there are many, many questions!

“Biden’s White House launching ‘Help is Here’ tour to promote stimulus package in key states” [Channel News Asia]. “Taking their case directly to the people, Harris will launch the tour on Monday in Las Vegas, while Biden goes to Delaware County, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday and Atlanta on Friday. He will also do an interview on Wednesday on ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’ program. Biden defeated Trump in closely divided Nevada, Pennsylvania and Georgia in the 2020 presidential election. Each state will also feature a competitive Senate race in 2022. Losing just one seat in that evenly divided chamber would all but doom Biden’s legislative agenda, handing Senate control to Republicans for the rest of the president’s four-year term. At least two outside political spending groups that backed Biden’s presidential bid, Priorities USA and Unite the Country, said they would put millions into advertisements supporting the stimulus measures.” • But no presser!

“Biden Eyes First Major Tax Hike Since 1993 in Next Economic Plan” [Bloomberg]. As long as Biden soaks the rich, I’m fine with it. “President Joe Biden is planning the first major federal tax hike since 1993 to help pay for the long-term economic program designed as a follow-up to his pandemic-relief bill, according to people familiar with the matter.” • No. More: “The plan will test both Biden’s capacity to woo Republicans and Democrats’ ability to remain unified…. White House economist Heather Boushey underlined that Biden doesn’t intend to boost taxes on people earning less than $400,000 a year.” • Also, why don’t we use the estate tax to roll back our current aristocracy of inherited wealth?

Sanders presser from last week, with Vermont governor:

Drawing the knife across means-testing’s jugular. We hope.

“Sanders: Americans Care More About $1,400 Checks From Aid Plan Than Lack Of GOP Votes” [NPR]. This is the best part: “Look, I am not a baseball expert, so I don’t know how you develop talent. But this is what I do know, is you go to a minor league game and kids get their hotdogs, and the ballplayers are often very nice and they’ll sign autographs and kids, you get good seats for a couple of bucks. Minor league baseball is enormously important to dozens and dozens and dozens of communities all over this country. It is a beautiful thing. Baseball is not just, you know, paying $50 million for some great athlete, you know, who plays for the New York Yankees. And I am really outraged that at a profitable institution like Major League Baseball, these guys want to eliminate baseball in so many communities around this country. It really is awful to my mind.” • I remember going to the Portland Sea Dogs with my mother and father. It was great!

Trump Post Mortem

“Trump and the Trapped Country” [Corey Robin, The New Yorker]. “The current moment is less reminiscent of the last days of Weimar than of Britain in the years before the Reform Act of 1832. With a scheme of representation dating back to the twelfth century, Parliament was the playground of grandees from rural and sparsely populated regions of the South. Growing cities in the Midlands and the North had no representation at all…. This is the situation we now find ourselves in. One party, representing the popular majority, remains on the outskirts of power, thanks to the Constitution. The other party, representing the minority, cannot wield power when it has it but finds its position protected nonetheless by the very same Constitution. We are not witnesses to Prometheus unbound. We are seeing the sufferings of Sisyphus, forever rolling his rock—immigration reform, new infrastructure, green jobs—up a hill. It’s no wonder everyone saw an authoritarian at the top of that hill. When no one can act, any performance of power, no matter how empty, can seem real.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“AP-NORC poll: 1 in 5 in US lost someone close in pandemic” [Associated Press]. “COVID-19’s toll is staggering, more than 527,000 dead in the U.S. alone, and counting. But ‘it’s hard to conceptualize the true danger if you don’t know it personally,’ said Dr. K. Luan Phan, psychiatry chief at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center. For those who lost a loved one, ‘that fear is most salient in them. They’re going to be a lot more cautious as businesses reopen and as schools start back.’ Phan said. And without that first-hand experience, even people who heeded health officials’ pleas to stay masked and keep their distance are succumbing to pandemic fatigue because “fears tend to habituate,” he said. Communities of color were hardest hit by the coronavirus. The AP-NORC poll found about 30% of African Americans, like Parks, and Hispanics know a relative or close friend who died from the virus, compared with 15% of white people.” • Oddly, I don’t see any polling reported on essential workers (though to be fair, maybe it’s in the original). Remember when essential workers were important, and people were performing empathy right and left?

“How Biden, Republicans and public health leaders are trying to persuade GOP skeptics to get their Covid vaccinations” [NBC]. For example: “Groups like the Ad Council, which recently launched a half-billion dollar campaign to promote vaccines, are planning to partner with faith leaders, country music stars, athletes and other figures influential in conservative and rural areas.” • All very well, but isn’t it a bit late to get this going? Remember all those task forces during the Interregnum? What was up with them?

“The Conservatives and The Court” [Jack Goldsmith, Liberties]. This is an excellent history of the Federalist Society and the judiciary from a conservative perspective. The Conclusion: “Whatever happens, the Court is destined to become a more politicized and controversial institution. When all is said and done, the Court has only itself to blame. Beginning in the 1960s it reached far beyond its proper jurisdiction to grab enormous control over public policy away from democratic institutions, which sparked a conservative counterrevolution in the 1980s that has now won power and on many issues is doing the same thing in the other direction. It is a sign of advanced constitutional decay that so many important decisions in our democracy are made by five or six unelected Justices, and that confirmation battles have become the most consequential political episodes in the nation after presidential elections.”

Stats Watch

Manufacturing: “March 2021 Empire State Manufacturing Index Improves” [Econintersect]. “The Empire State Manufacturing Survey index improved and remained in expansion…. Key elements are in positive territory but new orders declined. This report is considered about the same as last month.”

* * *

The Bezzle: Great Q&A on BTC v. USD:

Tech: “American Idle” [Remains of the Day]. “By network effects of creativity, I mean that every additional user on TikTok makes every other user more creative… Various memes and trends pass around on networks like Instagram and Twitter. But there, you still have to create your own version of a meme from scratch, even if, on Twitter, it’s as simple as copying and pasting. But TikTok has a strong form of this type of network effect. They explicitly lower the barrier to the literal remixing of everyone else’s content. In their app, they have a wealth of features that make it dead simple to grab any element from another TikTok and incorporate it into a new TikTok.” • “Reemixing” was the strength of the blogosphere. Both Facebook and Twitter make it extremely hard to quote and link to other sources, and impossible to do so long form.



* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 57 Greed (previous close: 59 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 49 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 15 at 12:37pm. One year ago: 5 (Extreme Fear).

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 189. (Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing, so high is better.) Worth noting we are now at Record Highs. Angst in the Heartland?

Health Care

“How the West Lost COVID How did so many rich countries get it so wrong? How did others get it so right?” [David Wallace-Wells, New York Magazine]. This is worth reading in full, but I’ll quote the portion that substantiates the thesis expressed in “By Declaring March 11 ‘Our’ Covid Anniversary, the Press Erases Covid’s Origin Story in the U.S.” (because it’s always nice not to be completely alone):

On February 11, a month before Ryan’s press conference, Anthony Fauci, Nancy Messonnier, and Ron Klain had taken the stage at an Aspen Institute panel on the novel coronavirus led by the superstar infectious-disease journalist Helen Branswell. Several times, Fauci repeated that he believed the virus was low-risk — later clarifying that it was important to communicate to the public that it was low-risk, in part to protect his own credibility and the credibility of the public-health Establishment. “To this day I do not understand why,” Branswell recently wrote. A few days after the panel, Fauci described the risk of the coronavirus to Americans as “minuscule.”

This was a time when the U.S. public-health infrastructure assuming (or even pretending to assume) a war footing might have made a meaningful difference. But at every opportunity, Fauci was counseling the opposite — calm in the face of the storm. On February 15, he told an interviewer that the flu was a bigger threat to Americans. For another month, he was still advising against masks. It wasn’t just Fauci (whom the upstart leftist magazine The Drift recently mocked as “Dr. Do-Little” in what likely won’t be the last reconsideration of the sainted physician). New York governor Andrew Cuomo, a cable-news hero in the spring, has already come in for reconsideration, and in his self-aggrandizing pandemic memoir, he is unintentionally revealing. “Most of all, I was concerned about public panic,” Cuomo writes, reflecting on the need to “socialize the notion of a shutdown,” ideally slowly, rather than simply imposing it. “Panic is the real enemy,” he adds. The coronavirus may not prove Cuomo’s ultimate political undoing, but his formulation may nevertheless provide the most fitting epitaph for the entire western response: that disruption was scarier and less tolerable than the disease.


“The return to school is welcome, but we must minimise shared air” [British Medical Journal]. From Britain, but still relevant here: “Although there is still some debate about how the virus spreads through air (inhalation), increasingly the evidence suggests that airborne spread is the dominant mode of transmission even at close range. Against this background, it is time to revisit our analysis in The BMJ last year, where we discussed how physical distancing, masks, ventilation, and type of activity combine in shaping the relative risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission. If a live virus spreads exclusively through large ballistic droplets (which fall quickly onto surfaces and objects), integrated people, surface, and space management is required to minimize direct touching or spraying, with a focus on cleaning surfaces, installing physical barriers (e.g. screens), practising physical distancing (e.g. 2 metres apart), and wearing any type of mask. But if a live virus is airborne, it can be transmitted whenever someone inhales air that another has exhaled. Preventing airborne spread then additionally requires integrated measures of people, air, and space management designed to minimise air-sharing including universal, well-fitted, and higher grade masking, particularly indoors, adequate ventilation and air filtration, reducing crowding and time spent indoors, and managing patterns of air flow (see recent fluid dynamics review for more detailed arguments [8-14]). The risk of airborne spread increases with the number of people in an indoor space, with crowding when it leads to overlap of breathing zones of the occupants (order of 2 metres), and with the duration of time they breathe the same air.” • All of which the school reopening guidance from CDC suppresses. Garbage guidance from a sclerotic, entrenched institution. The tragedy is that “managing patterns of airflow” is common sense to those who know the buildings, and not necessarily expensive. CDC can’t and won’t see this.

An excellent thread from Tricia Greenhalgh on what I would call the aerosol paradigm shift. Current focus is on AGP (Aerosol-Generating Procedures) by doctors in hospital, for example intubation. But now that we know that Covid is airborne, the AGP paradirgm is not adequate:

(Hospital-centrism also led to a lot of useless studies on HQ; no use testing hospitalized patients if the use case is prophylaxis!) More on AGP/non-AGP dualism here. Shorter: “Don’t share your air!”

“Evidence on: Doulas” [Evidence-Based Birth]. From 2015, still germane. “][T]he doula’s role and agenda are tied solely to the birthing person’s agenda. This is also known as primacy of interest. In other words, a doula’s primary responsibility is to the birthing person—not to a hospital administrator, nurse, midwife, or doctor…. Overall, people who received continuous support [the doula’s job] were more likely to have spontaneous vaginal births and less likely to have any pain medication, epidurals, negative feelings about childbirth, vacuum or forceps-assisted births, and Cesareans. In addition, their labors were shorter by about 40 minutes and their babies were less likely to have low Apgar scores at birth. There is a smaller amount of evidence that doula support in labor can lower postpartum depression in mothers. There is no evidence for negative consequences to continuous labor support.” • Nobody else in the health care system has “primary responsibility” “to the birthing person”?

The Biosphere

“Parrots Will Share Currency to Help Their Pals Purchase Food” [Smithsonian]. “Parrots go bonkers for walnuts. After snatching the seeds, these brightly plumed birds crack into them with glee. When offered the nuts as a prize, parrots will do tricks, solve puzzles and learn complex tasks. They’ll even trade currency for them in the form of small metal rings passed into the hands of human researchers…. But despite the nuts’ value—or perhaps because of it—parrots are also willing to share their treats and the tokens to buy them with other birds. Given the option, the birds will transfer the precious metal rings to a friend in a neighboring cage so they, too, can enjoy some nutty nosh—even without the promise of reciprocation, Brucks’ latest research shows.”

“Letter: Coyotes are a beautiful, valuable natural resource” [Niagara Now]. “Coyotes, as top-of-the-chain predators, are an essential part of our natural system. They are responsible for the control of vermin and other smaller animals, which if not kept in natural balance by predators become, in the least, an annoyance, and at best, a health risk. These animals will become a destructive force when their numbers rise because the natural balance is disrupted. Killing coyotes does not bring a balance to nature, but it certainly sets the course for problems down the road. We need only look to Niagara Falls, which has been struggling with rat infestations for years because the rat population has exploded unchecked. It is not only urban centres that will struggle with overpopulation of vermin: look to barns housing animals and feed, and you will find the same problems. Left to predators, these problems are positively controlled. I have lived in Niagara for 20 years and have come across the ‘sport’ of hunting coyotes. Let us be clear that these animals are set on the run by hunting dogs fitted with tracker collars, followed by their handler through GPS signal, and when they all meet in an open space, the coyote is shot.” • The unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable…


An amazing thread on what’s difficult in games-making:

A whole world of art-making, of which I know nothing whatever… .

The Agony Column

“How the pandemic has changed our bodies” [NBC News]. Lots of good detail. This in particular: “A large international survey of more than 7,700 adults in April found that 27 percent of all respondents reported weight gain around the start of the pandemic, a figure that increased to 33 percent among those already obese. Fewer than 20 percent reported losing weight. More than half of parents gained an average 36 pounds, according to the APA survey.” • I certainly didn’t gain 36 pounds (!!!), but gain weight I did. On top of the weight I gained from the last quarantine. I used to be thin!

“Hitting the Books: America’s loneliness crisis began well before the COVID quarantine” [Engadget]. “Overnight, contactless became in many respects our only choice. It’s impossible to predict with certainty how this will play out in the long term. As we’ve seen, the human craving for proximity and physical connection runs deep; later we will see how a burgeoning Loneliness Economy may act as a counterbalancing force. But the reality is that new habits, once forged, can take hold pretty fast. Many people who lived through the Great Depression, for example, remained frugal throughout their entire lives.” • And so, perhaps, with social distancing.

“Why you might be experiencing what psychologists call ‘the anniversary effect’ — and what to do about it” [CNN].

Zeitgeist Watch

“Linger Eatuary” [Atlas Obscura]. “The rooftop neon sign that used to proclaim [Denver’s] ‘Olinger Mortuaries’ was barely even altered, with the capitol ‘O’ simply being turned out and the word ‘mortuaries’ being slightly altered so that the current sign reads, ‘Linger Eatuaries.’ The funereal history continues on in the interior as well where the old A/C units have been turned into hanging lamps, glass-topped metal conveyor belts are used as tables, and a church pew is used as the host’s stand…. Other deathly touches abound in the eatuary such as water served from formaldehyde bottles and a picture from one of cinema’s more touching paeans to death, Harold and Maude. To the restaurant’s credit, all of the morbid accents do nothing to make the site unappetizing, possibly because of the constant reminder that you can’t eat when you’re dead.” • Unless you’re a zombie or a ghoul. So, optimism!

Not my world, or the Pope’s either, it would seem. Thread:

Weak ties!

Our Famously Free Press

This thread is a must-read, all of it (because the platforms will do this to podcasting next, and all independent blogs and sites next, if they possibly can. There’s a reason apps aren’t real good at displaying URLs, and phone browsers are starting to hide them or make them hard to use):

The moral, of which Stoller would approve, is that once the “free market” meant a market that was free of rentiers, because of regulation. Now it means the opposite.

Class Warfare

“The Revolt of the Feminist Law Profs” [Wesley Yang, Chronicle of Higher Education]. From 2019, still worth a read: ” In the fall of 2011, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights issued informal, non-binding guidance on how colleges should treat claims of sexual assault and harassment in a document now referred to as the Dear Colleague letter. It was accompanied by public claims of an ongoing crisis of sexual violence on universities made by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. In 2014, Gersen and three of her colleagues — Elizabeth Bartholet, Janet Halley, and Nancy Gertner — led a contingent of their peers in calling out the system of investigation and adjudication that emerged during the Obama years as ‘so unfair as to be truly shocking.’ The four were joined by 24 of their Harvard Law colleagues in an open letter published in The Boston Globe decrying Obama’s Title IX recommendations as ‘overwhelmingly stacked against the accused.'” Critcally: “As informal guidance, the Dear Colleague letter was not subject to the normal rule-making process, which would have permitted give-and-take with universities through formal comment-seeking. It was, however, accompanied by the threatened withdrawal of all federal funds from universities that did not comply with its instructions, including ones that “are in no way required by Title IX law or regulation,” as Gersen and her colleagues put it in The Boston Globe. The process was so irregular, Halley told me recently, that if any university had asked a court to declare whether the guidance was legally binding, “Every single court would have said, ‘You don’t have to do this.’” But no university wanted the bad press.'” • Sounds familiar. I love the “Dear Colleague” formulation. Just PMC-to-PMC, no need for any pesky process.

News of the Wired

This is apparently going around again. A thread:

Family Power Struggles:

One more reason to hate the change to (and from) Daylight Savings Time:

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JJR writes: “This is a Silk Floss Tree in Sarasota, FL. It also has a wide spiky trunk.”

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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. Arizona Slim

        Happening here in Tucson as well. I’m already seeing wandering packs of grade school kids.

        Poor guys and gals have been cooped up for months. Now that they can get out and about, the seem a bit lost.

        OTOH, good news! Parks and rec reinstalled the hoops in our neighborhood park.

        So, I give you the Basketball Psychos!

        That’s the name I’ve given to a bunch of young adult guys who converge on the park in the late afternoons. They’ve got the music pumpin’ and on the court they are passin’ and jumpin’! After almost a year of basketball deprivation, they are back and letting the rest of us know it!

        To which I say, good on them. Keep going, fellas.

      2. Carolinian

        Explains where all my local traffic has gone.

        So re Corey Robin–are the Dems really a majority or just a plurality? And how does the departure of Trump affect that?

  1. Samuel Conner

    It is so soooo important for children to learn their parents’ and grandparents’ recipes while those people still remember them.

    I’ve passed that point and am reduced to internet searches and experimentation to get “close.”

    1. Phacops

      We were lucky that copies of my mother in law’s recipies were copied and given to everybody. I was so proud that the Thanksgiving after her passing my spouse and used the recipies (with some savory touches) to cook the meal for the family. That Thanksgiving was a magnificent tribute to her.

      1. Lunker Walleye

        We have recipe boxes filled by my orderly mother-in-law who has been gone two decades. We always make several of her Thanksgiving recipes. The pumpkin pie has extra spices, “because Dad likes a spicy pie”. Last night we made Tricia Nixon’s chicken divan to celebrate a birthday. (Don’t look it up or you may roll your eyes or gain weight reading the ingredients.) I have several of my own Mother’s recipes. She didn’t have a set of measuring spoons until she was in her 50’s and was a terrific baker.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          She didn’t have a set of measuring spoons until she was in her 50’s and was a terrific baker.

          I forget where I heard it, so it was probably Gordon Ramsay but the gist was that measurements aren’t really that important as much as understanding what the ingredients do to each other.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            except for certain baked goods, that’s how i rolled when i was cooking…i can feel a half-cup, cup, etc of flour…or a teaspoon/tablespoon of herbs…but you’re right: it’s a lot about interaction between ingredients…and in many things(non-sourdough bread), proportion matters a lot…amounts do not.
            I’m a frustrating chef to learn from, as most things are different every time (what was it? “eolithism”?)
            , and folks who were fans when i was still cooking professionally would be shocked to learn that i pretty much just made it up as i went along, with whatever was to hand.
            not very easy to teach.

      1. Geo

        A few years back I took my great-grandmother’s old recipe book from my mom for a few weeks. The thing was so old that pages would crumble to the touch. So, I carefully scanned each page and then used one of those photo printing websites to make a book from the scans. Made for a great Xmas present to a bunch of family members as well as preserving the we original writing, notes, and other oddities she’d written along with the recipes. It’s also a cool coffee table book for guests to flip through now.

        Highly recommend it if you have any old journals, recipe books, or other family documents you want to preserve and share.

    1. epynonymous

      Sounds over hyped. The airforce has had on site machinists for their f15s as soon as grift would allow.

    2. chris

      I’m not sure it’s that so much as the people who make decisions regarding these things are mostly insulated from the consequences of their decisions. If they’re even capable of being aware of what’s going on.

      I am open to the possibility that when it comes to infrastructure, materiel, and day to day experiences, the vast majority of our drug addled gerontocracy in government has no clue how bad things are. Those that have a glimmer of an idea probably figure it won’t affect them. But there are probably many who can’t even grasp those terms or their role in any of this. Diane Feinstein and Joe Biden being two examples we can find hours worth of YouTube gaffs on. I have a difficult time believing either of those individuals have much mental capacity to devote to matters of governance any more.

      1. Charger01

        It is widely known that Feinstein has cognitive “trouble”, as Marcie Wheeler wrote an article for the Atlantic/New Yorker about her decline….TLDR her staff is covering for her, but she’s losing her abilities

    3. Glen

      This situation is so common where i work, and I would assume its the norm across all major American corporations. Its called “Run To Failure”. Money to pay management bonuses gets priority. Everything else falls apart.

      The services should be better run, but programs like the F-35 can suck all the money out of even massive budgets.

      1. JTMcPhee

        “The services should be better run.” Huge heavy lift for “should,” there.

        The “services” do what, again? “Protect the nation?” Even “project power?” It is to laugh.

        Corruption, feather-bedding, idiocy all the way through. Ranks filled by not exactly the best and brightest that the defective education and social systems of the Empire “should” offer, thanks to the all-volunteer “services.”

        Anyone not convinced, whose breast is filled with patriotic fervor and will not brook any criticism of the System, “The world’s greatest military EVAH!,” is urged to do a web search on “corruption in the US military.” Officers get away with selling secrets, rape, murder, theft of government property, you name it. Enlisted soldiers and Marines steal weapons and sell them on to drug cartels and gangs. The cozy contractor-procurement arrangements produce fraud on a massive scale, and weapons that simply do not even meet the hazy “mission requirements” of the Imperial hubris.

        The F-35 is just a lightning rod that attracts and deflects criticism of the insane idiocy of that self-licking ice cream cone of war to run up expenditures of MMT to keep the Banksters in Funny Munny to use that wealth-power to make more war, around and around.

        Like you put it, “Run To Failure.” The Brass and the CEOs know they will be able to gorge and dance and slip away before the sh!t really hits the fan. And everybody is happy with FUBAR and sports stadium flyovers by trillion-dollar boondoggles that make a lot of noise.

        “What so proudly we hailed…” Stupid effing humans.

        1. Robert Gray

          Anyone who has done military service — fewer and fewer nowadays — knows that these comments are spot on.

          Active military and veterans love to tell stories about what they’ve purportedly seen, heard and done; human nature being what it is, however, many (/most) of their tales are pure bs. But the thing is, no matter how wild or outrageous the anecdote, you can’t simply dismiss it out of hand because if you have been there yourself you know that it just might be true, as you will have stories of your own that are equally unbelievable but true nonetheless.

          > Corruption, feather-bedding, idiocy all the way through.

          What got me most was the idiocy. Having to follow stupid orders from stupid people was extremely challenging.

  2. Cuibono

    “If you just list, for instance, the interventions that places like New Zealand or Australia have implemented, they’re not drastically different — in stringency nor duration — than in some y other places. ”

    This is just false. Every country with GOOD reliable data that has done well has dontr so with ONE COMMON measure: BORDER CONTROL!

    Can anyone find a counter example?

    Why not admit this?

    1. Duke of Prunes

      Because that would sound like you’re against immigration; hence, you’re a Trumpist! No one wants to be called out as a Trumpist… regardless of whether this could meaningfully contribute to saving lives by better understanding the infection vectors of this public health crisis. People have their careers to worry about. Can’t risk being cancelled.

    2. The Rev Kev

      I think that the more important principle is to go in early and go in hard. As that article “How the West Lost COVID” makes clear, most countries did not do so and Fauci is irredeemable for just trying to minimize and putz the whole thing. Maybe he was just trying to protect his position or something but so many people died because of his approach.

      I think that the common theme for countries that dealt with this pandemic the worse is those that tried to keep their economy going while having the virus spreading around. They tried to have it all and lost everything. Border control was vital too, as you said, so that more cases would not continue to feed the flames but the UK for example stayed open nearly all of last year.

      1. Cuibono

        Strict border control is the ONLY factor i can find that ALL successful countries have in common

    3. JTMcPhee

      So hard to control borders when the Elite can just wave their scented, privileged handkerchiefs and slide through any attempts at putting a stop to the importation of deadly viruses with a propensity to spread fast and wide. I think I read that international air travel, by Special People and Business Class and those folks who travel on private jets is one of the principal vectors of pandemic pathogens. So Buffy and Biff want to zip over to the Swiss Alps for a bit of skiing and cocaine, and their people make it happen. Or some conclave of doctors and pharmaceutical corporatists want to have a big meet-up to discuss profit opportunities, and Bob’s your uncle, superspreader!

      It’s hardships for families “kept apart,” but Death or lifetime debility and sowing diseases among non-family are another kind of “keeping apart.” And how much of “business travel” is ego-driven, are we finding that out? The disease is airborne, in so many different ways. Who has the courage to say that globalism is telomeres in action, or a bunch of cancer cells propagating through the human space? Killing whole ecologies at the same time?

      The PMC likes its “I can AFFORD it” travel, surfing above the deadly externalities that get shed off it. Open Borders is just cover for wage suppression and abuse of other humans. As is the case with so much of carbon-spewing ocean trade.

      1. Redlife2017

        Re: “how much of “business travel” is ego-driven”

        You have so hit the nail on the head. I would say about 80% of it is (probably more). The only time I’ve had good business trips is when I needed to get to know an outsource provider and meet the people working on my stuff. The other time would be if you have a giant integration project (or IT project that cross boundaries & time zones) and need to have sit downs over several weeks with people. Or exhibitions where small/medium producers meet wholesalers. That honestly gets rid of most of it, I would have thought (certainly most of the mindless flying around). A phone call or zoom will do for most things (noted exceptions above). The reason people do the mindless trips is because it hierarchically looks important. It kind of feels very 1950s…

        Funny enough I started refusing going on business trips with flights in the last few years (pre-Covid), only going when I absolutely had to meet people and see the processes. At this point I really only want to take trains…

  3. Lost in OR

    There is no evidence for negative consequences to continuous labor support.

    I can confirm. My son was birthed with both a midwife and doula. The birthing was long and difficult to the point where I knew to stfu and stay out of the way. The midwife managed the birthing process and the doula was mom’s personal coach. Both were the ultimate professionals. I have never felt more like a vestigial organ than those six or so hours. I am very grateful to the doula.

    1. chris

      We had a doula help us and our midwife during the pregnancy and birth of our third child. She was wonderful.

    2. deplorado

      Friends of mine in Oakland CA had a birth with a doula for their 1st baby and had a horrible experience a few years ago. From what I remember, there was some complication, and the doula gave up and they had to rush the mother to emergency with her life at risk. These friends swore to never use a doula again.

      So, YMMV as they say.

      Main question should be, how are doulas certified – what is the national standard, experience requirements, trainings, what is the liability etc. When things go well, all good – but when they don’t, all that talk about primary interest is just marketing. Why should we go for it??

      1. chris

        I know some rely on doulas and midwives for home births but all 3 of our kids were born with the help of midwives in hospital settings. We also had the doula help us in a hospital setting. We wouldn’t have used either if they didn’t have hospital privileges. That was all very clearly shown to us when we reviewed the contracts for their services. It was explained that they were prepared to keep helping us even if things went wrong.

        I don’t know any of the details behind what you shared but it sounds like your friends weren’t aware what would happen if things started to go wrong.

      2. Lost in OR

        Yes to Chris.

        Had I know the length and breath of potential complications, I might have remained single. My wife and I were summer chickens (as in, beyond spring chickens). It’s amazing the childbirth issues we guys have no clue about. I think we just don’t have our radar on.

        My son was born in a hospital. Though we didn’t know it at the time, we had an emergency team poised at our door that had been monitoring our progress from the main desk. My son was stillborn with meconium in his nostrils. He was respirated and rushed down the hall to the NICU. He made it and is an awesome kid.

        There’s a lot of reasons the maternal death rate has been what it has been. It’s dangerous business. Everything has to come together in just the right way. Don’t get too optimistic. And anything you can do at home you can do in a hospital. Bathtub births, midwives, doulas, whatever. The doula is that backseat driver at a time where first-time parents have no idea where this may lead. They’re a godsend. As to credentials, do your homework.

  4. Lambert Strether Post author

    UPDATES all done; please refresh your browsers.

    A little bit of a bummer for me; this weekend seemed to be a time when a lot of people sat down and wrote interesting things, so I was looking forward to providing a real feast of reason. Then I opened my production account and found I seemed to have sent nothing to myself since last Friday, jeepers.

    Anyhow, what we have now will do to go on with.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Not as disconcerting as when your Win7 computer boots itself up in the middle of the night and when you login after you wake up, you find that your programs aren’t working. Took me a few minutes to realize that the clock of the computer had been reset to 2002 so none of the certificates were valid anymore. Must have been a power spike as the phone went off as well.

    2. Acacia

      I used to always e-mail bits of articles or comments to myself (especially here at NC), but recently I discovered Bear and iOS shortcuts. Now I have an item Clip to Bear on the iOS share menu that takes whatever bit of text I have selected in the browser, asks if I want to tag it, and saves it to Bear. It recognizes comments here on NC and saves a direct link, along with the author’s name and a tag for the site name (e.g., #nakedcapitalism).

      Bear syncs across all devices, runs on macOS. iOS, iPadOS, and uses iCloud, so it’s not necessary to sign up for yet another cloud service. I can clip on the iPad and later get all my clippings on the Mac.

      Feel free to copy and customize the shortcut (link above) for your own use.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I’m wary about the Covid Triumphantalism we seem to be having because we have to deal with people being less on guard and all the people from the fall through Jan 1st losing immunity. Not to mention the schools.

    1. Jen

      They want that big pile of money that we are paying into Medicare all to themselves. Shareholder value, baby.

  5. Jason Boxman

    I find that Eric Feigl-Ding tweet amusing to the extent that I’ve been thinking this for at least a year now. If containment measures work, those opposed can point to a successful outcome as proof that no such action was ever necessary. And how can you prove otherwise? We can’t run A/B testing, at least, not ethically. (And then you can point to similar outcomes in CA and FL to claim it didn’t matter anyway, when the reality is complicated.)

    It presents a conundrum, to be sure.

    Stay safe out there!

  6. DJG, Reality Czar

    The Christina Wade thread is illuminating. To quote her: “In the 1324 trial of Alice Kyeteler in the city of Kilkenny, Ireland, the prosecution stated that, ‘in rifeling through the closest of the ladie [i.e. Alice}, they found a pipe of oynment, wherewith she greased a staffe, upon which she ambled and galloped through thick and thin'”

    The ointment comes up often, as does the broom or staff. These have little to do with the women who made ale.

    For a longer read, try the various works of Carlo Ginzburg, who wrote about village heretics, mystical battles in the Friuli, and the “witches’ sabbath”–the existence of which is hard to prove. Ointment comes up as a way of giving the power of flight and of invisibility. Ginzburg, though, can’t find a recipe. The ointments, like the “sabbath” may not have existed, physically.

    The problem with the alewives thread, now quite popular on FcBk, is a very typical problem: The assumption is that something happened in the Anglo-American world, so it must be universal. Sorry, no. Heck, the Weird Sisters in The Scottish Play don’t even conform.

    1. Swamp Yankee

      The stuff by Carlo Ginzburg on witches is fantastic. _The Night Battles: Agrarian Cults in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century_ is particularly fabulous. Traces the “night-ride” to Siberian shamanic traditions. Un-be-friggin’-lievably good history.

      1. R

        Look out a book called Murder, Magic, Medicine in the ethnopharmacology of these progenitor practices.

      2. DJG, Reality Czar

        Swamp Yankee: Yep, a book that formed me. I adapted it to the stage, how successfully, I don’t know. Trying to explain that the benandanti were “good witches” who battled for the harvest, sometimes with fennel stalks, is hard to get across to a U.S. audience. The incomprehension between the inquisitors and the benandanti (who knew how to stand up for themselves) is, errrr, clarifying.

        I did some research in Cormons, where several of them were from–still a lovely and slightly haunted place. Cividale del Friuli, where the inquisitors hung out, is now an architectural/historical gem.

        I seem to recall seeing in the museum in Cividale an altar cloth that was an acheiropoietan–a holy relic not made by human hands.

        It is that kind of region.

  7. timbers

    “Biden Eyes First Major Tax Hike Since 1993 in Next Economic Plan”

    NPR says we have to cut Medicare and Social Security because we passed the $1.9 trillion stimulus. Maybe they got ahead to themselves or maybe taxing the rich is a fake out to prep of for this.

    1. MRLost

      Notice that absolutely no one is suggesting we cut the defense budget and use that money for infrastructure or education or health or …

      1. ambrit

        Agreed. With the caveat that those who are making that suggestion are being drowned out by silence.
        “Will no one lay the laurel wreath”
        “As silence drowns the screams.”

      2. hunkerdown

        To the contrary, we have to start some kind of police action somewhere for some reason or else badness will win! Don’t talk reason to me, HAVE TO! :)

  8. Alex

    Most of the variants we are wringing our hands over were known by 2/1. With the increase in infectiousness they promised, I did a little math and decided that it would be a couple of weeks before we could be pretty certain about whether there’s anything there. Here we are, even a month after THAT, and…
    Meanwhile, Dr. Nutritionist is pretty sure we’re in the scary part of his cutesy cartoon graph. #BookDeal

  9. cocomaan

    Biden may be out on the road celebrating, but the mood in the nation is still dour. Maybe not on twitter, but I don’t think it’s going to automatically win him anything.

    Had my mid-30’s senior moment today and had to bite my tongue. A gen Z person was complaining to me about income inequality and credit scores, all in the midst of this giant showering of stimmy from the Feds.

    BACK IN MY DAY… back in the 2008 recession, when I was fresh out of school and could not find a job, we got $600 and nobody got bailed out except the banks and the auto companies.

    NC’ers will be happy to know I did not get all grumpy and begin to weave yarns about how things were worse when I was young.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      If you don’t complain, nothing gets done. There wasn’t enough complaining in 2008. Its why you never thank a politician. They are service employees who actually deserve nothing but the “let me speak to your manager” routine.

      1. ambrit

        The real “not enough complaining” event of the modern age was the end game for the 2000 Presidential election.

      2. cocomaan

        it’s really true, though I did my fair share of griping. My wife demonstrated against the Iraq war in 2003 and we were both in occupy. Even got on the front page of a local paper during occupy! Fun times.

        You’re absolutely right, though, and I have to give the youth credit for not just accepting the status quo.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          This isn’t directed at you as much as the “give him time” crowd. Griping should be the minimum of behavior. Even if Biden had demanded the Delaware Senators vote for the minimum wage and bothered to call Manchin and even managed to pass the minimum wage, he shouldn’t be allowed to go on tour to sell something that’s basically only a positive and won’t require much in the way of change on the part of individual voters without being told get back to work.

          Its like Bernie having picked up his mail before the Inauguration. He’s the only one doing the bare minimum.

          1. cocomaan

            I’m with you. Without griping, as Lambert and others have pointed out, Manchin becomes the King of the Senate.

      3. Lee

        “There wasn’t enough complaining in 2008.”

        Complaining was racist in 2008. And complaining about the Obama years is still highly suspect.

      1. cocomaan

        The height of luxury: my job kept me on because of something called a PeePeePee!

        I do try to be sympathetic to the youths. It can’t be easy growing up right now.

  10. shinola

    The money quote from Cory Doctorow’s twitter rant about Amazon’s rent seeking:

    “Adam Smith railed against rents, describing markets as “free” when they were FREE FROM RENTS, not free from regulations. For centuries, a “free market” was a market where buyers and sellers operated without interference from rentiers, not regulators.”


  11. Unfinished

    “Parrots go bonkers for walnuts.”

    We had a not large almond tree in our back yard in Perth, WA. One of my favorite memories is of the black cockatoos and that almond tree. Ascertaining that the almonds were ripe for eating, a flock would swoop in and chattering gregariously feast on the almonds while the tree sagged under their weight. We would watch spellbound for the twenty minutes or so that it took them to polish off the nuts. Lovely creatures.

  12. Michael Ismoe

    “How Biden, Republicans and public health leaders are trying to persuade GOP skeptics to get their Covid vaccinations”

    If Trump actually did a PSA and went on TV and urged everyone to get the shot, the very next day all the genius liberal Democrats would cancel their appointments to receive the vaccine because Orange Man bad.

    ….unless Trump endorses the Sputnik vaccine because, you know, Putin.

  13. Chas

    Bernie is right about the popularity of minor league baseball. Maybe the majors are afraid of the competition.

  14. occasional anonymous

    Re: games development

    If you have free time to spare, you may find videos like this of interest, about a rerelease of a deeply flawed and poorly performing (it’s usually sub-ten frames drawn a second, and you want at least thirty for a smooth game) older game on a modern system: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3cYBhSoRvTY

    In a much longer stream they did later with one of the conversion developers, he talks about various idiosyncratic minutiae of the game, like the fact that simple bridges were done in a very bizarre way that they simply couldn’t figure out (I gather it was something about them always being present but invisible until activated to ‘extend’, at which point they become visible and can be crossed), which the conversion devs simply couldn’t figure out so they had to reimplement them from scratch.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I’m surprised that doors in games are that hard. I see them in PUBG where they open and close with appropriate sound effects (so you know if someone is entering) but that you can shoot bits off them as well. Also, someone standing there can prevent them opening or closing properly. I’ll have to look at them closer next time.

      1. Anthony Noel

        Yeah doors are actually surprisingly difficult to make “work”. They have to be discrete bits of the environment that are either actual “physical” objects i.e polygons, that have then have to have properties assigned to them or tag switches that alter clipping properties for a piece of the environment. You have to account for the size of objects passing through the door, and how they react if they touch an edge. I.E does the object lose all momentum, does it turn on an axis in relation to what part of the object is traveling through the “free” space etc. This of course includes you the “player”. So if you take a door at a wrong angle or hit an edge do you screech to a halt, do you “slide” along the edge etc.

        If they’re polygon’s then you have to assign properties and have them interact with the games physics engine implementation, choose if the material of the door will have properties, i.e. can I shoot through it, can explosions propagate “splash” damage through them, can sound travel through it, how does it effect line of sight for the player and the pathfinding of the a.i., if and how they effect other objects in the environment in regards to physics etc.

        Early 3d engines are hilarious and strange for the number of cludges used to get doors to work and equally strange and hilarious results from failed attempts. Heavily armored space marines who can take a shotgun blast to the chest and laugh have a wooden door close on them when they’re “halfway” through and being instantly gibbed as if they got hit by a rocket. Closing doors causing physics trigger glitches that would launch you out of the level geometry. Fun stuff.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Thanks for that explanation Noel. Yeah, they are way more complicated than I would have given credit for. As you can shoot bits off a door in PUBG, I guess that they were done as polygons. You see some funny things involving PUBG doors in video clips. Saw one where one team guy threw a grenade into a window. When the enemy tried to run out the room, he could not get out because the door was blocked by another player that he had just wounded and who, in coordination with the player outside the room, had crawled over there – boom!

    2. ObjectiveFunction

      This link on the thread contains pure comedy gold (as well as the entire substance of the New Economy. The wages of Learn to Code is….):

      To help people understand the role breakdowns at a big company, I sometimes go into how other people deal with doors.

      Creative Director: “Yes, we definitely need doors in this game.”
      Project Manager: “I’ll put time on the schedule for people to make doors.”
      Designer: “I wrote a doc explaining what we need doors to do.”
      Concept Artist: “I made some gorgeous paintings of doors.”
      Art Director: “This third painting is exactly the style of doors we need.”
      Environment Artist: “I took this painting of a door and made it into an object in the game.”
      Animator: “I made the door open and close.”
      Sound Designer: “I made the sounds the door creates when it opens and closes.”
      Audio Engineer: “The sound of the door opening and closing will change based on where the player is and what direction they are facing.”
      Composer: “I created a theme song for the door.”
      FX Artist: “I added some cool sparks to the door when it opens.”
      Writer: “When the door opens, the player will say, ‘Hey look! The door opened!’ “
      Lighter: “There is a bright red light over the door when it’s locked, and a green one when it’s opened.”
      Legal: “The environment artist put a Starbucks logo on the door. You need to remove that if you don’t want to be sued.”
      Character Artist: “I don’t really care about this door until it can start wearing hats.”
      Gameplay Programmer: “This door asset now opens and closes based on proximity to the player. It can also be locked and unlocked through script.”
      AI Programmer: “Enemies and allies now know if a door is there and whether they can go through it.”
      Network Programmer: “Do all the players need to see the door open at the same time?”
      Release Engineer: “You need to get your doors in by 3pm if you want them on the disk.”
      Core Engine Programmer: “I have optimized the code to allow up to 1024 doors in the game.”
      Tools Programmer: “I made it even easier for you to place doors.”
      Level Designer: “I put the door in my level and locked it. After an event, I unlocked it.”
      UI Designer: “There’s now an objective marker on the door, and it has its own icon on the map.”
      Combat Designer: “Enemies will spawn behind doors, and lay cover fire as their allies enter the room. Unless the player is looking inside the door in which case they will spawn behind a different door.”
      Systems Designer: “A level 4 player earns 148xp for opening this door at the cost of 3 gold.”
      Monetization Designer: “We could charge the player $.99 to open the door now, or wait 24 hours for it to open automatically.”
      QA Tester: “I walked to the door. I ran to the door. I jumped at the door. I stood in the doorway until it closed. I saved and reloaded and walked to the door. I died and reloaded then walked to the door. I threw grenades at the door.”
      UX / Usability Researcher: “I found some people on Craigslist to go through the door so we could see what problems crop up.”
      Localization: “Door. Puerta. Porta. Porte. Tür. Dør. Deur. Drzwi. Drws. 문”
      Producer: “Do we need to give everyone those doors or can we save them for a pre-order bonus?”
      Publisher: “Those doors are really going to help this game stand out during the fall line-up.”
      CEO: “I want you all to know how much I appreciate the time and effort put into making those doors.”
      PR: “To all our fans, you’re going to go crazy over our next reveal #gamedev #doors #nextgen #retweet”
      Community Manager: “I let the fans know that their concerns about doors will be addressed in the upcoming patch.”
      Customer Support: “A player contacted us, confused about doors. I gave them detailed instructions on how to use them.”
      Player: “I totally didn’t even notice a door there.”

  15. vw

    Two thoughts about the doula issue above.

    First, unfortunately, no – there isn’t anyone in the average obstetrics unit whose main job is to prioritize the experience and emotions of the “birthing person”. The goal there, in no small part assisted by potential litigation, is to deliver the baby as safely as possible. The maximum safety, from the point of view of a litigation-shy doctor, is achieved by having as much control over the birthing process as possible. This means epidurals, inductions, questionably-necessary C-sections, and literally strapping the mother to the bed under hideously bright lights throughout. (Which give the doctors better visibility, but have been shown scientifically to disturb the natural progression of labor.)

    More babies DO come into the world alive this way, and it’s a blessing… but. The process is hideously unnatural, and often traumatizes the mother. I’ve seen a statistic that around 10% of new mothers leave the hospital with diagnosable levels of PTSD. Yes, that PTSD – no different from soldiers driving over IEDs.

    I’m sure that modern obstetrics would justify this by saying “Birth is dangerous!!” Well, yes, but having someone you trust there to hold your hand and tell you that it will all be OK would be the best of both worlds, IMO. But insurance doesn’t cover that, because it isn’t a “medical service”. In the modern day, fathers have been recruited to try and fill this role at the mother’s side, but… sorry guys… most of them aren’t truly prepared, and don’t do a good job. The mothers suffer through years of mental illness as a result, told by everyone around them that they should forget about their living nightmare of an experience and be “grateful” for their child’s life (with a side note of “how DARE you complain”).

    Second, birth is dangerous, and when you need medical assistance you need it fast. A doula assisting alone means that the mother faces birth with no more protection than her medieval ancestors – and, frankly, far-less-developed birthing muscles, thanks to our modern lifestyles. Tragedies can and do result.

    The best of both worlds, then, is a traditional birthing suite, with a medically-trained midwife AND a doula at hand – one person to deliver the baby, and one to reassure the mother – with an obstetrics unit down the hall standing ready.

    This was the circumstance I chose to give birth in (though arranging the rest was expensive enough I then could not afford the doula) and the relationship between the midwives I hired and the local obstetrics unit turned out to be invaluable, when my child developed with a too-short cord that would have ripped out during labor and caused us both to hemorrhage and die. I was swiftly provided a planned C-section, it was performed well, and my son and I are happy and kicking. The midwife came in to hold my hand during the spinal. One comment – I wish she’s been allowed to stay and hold my hand during the surgery itself. It was hospital rules that forced her to leave right after, and even kept out my husband. Thank goodness for a random nurse who took it upon herself to hold my hand and talk to me soothingly while I was being disemboweled on the other side of the curtain…

    Finally, my C-section was performed in near-ideal circumstances, and the recovery (while caring for a newborn) was still brutal. It’s a brutality, no more and no less, to subject any woman to that surgery if it isn’t strictly necessary. It’ll be a cold day in Hell before your local obstetrics unit acknowledges that, though. Future mothers reading, be warned…

    1. Cuibono

      you forgot to mention convenience and profit
      OBs would love to have all deliveries be scheduled C-sections. and no i am not making this up

  16. Amfortas the hippie

    re: coyotes:
    “It is the responsibility of every animal owner, whether a farmer or urban dwelling dog and cat owner, to ensure their animals are safe at all times. We are charged with understanding the dangers to our animals in the places we live.”

    out here, there are annual “varmint hunts”…usually in early february.
    it’s an actual right of passage, juniors riding with seniors(and girlz, too, if they’re innerested) on an all night ramble in pickuptruck through designated rangeland.
    I’m against the “takings” of fox and bobcat…little harm to the kind of livestock we have out here…and i’ve not told anyone about the juvenile male mountain lion i met on the mountain out back…but coyotes really do do a lot of damage if they get too numerous.
    They are too numerous in my area of the county, at this moment….lots of babies killed…cows, sheep goats…

    Many ranchers hire a trapper(licensed) from late fall through winter, to roam around and set traps, etc.
    (we lost a dog to a maybe 50 year old snare, one time, incorporated into a fence.)
    many, also, “hire” donkeys, llamas, alpacas and even whatever those large white dogs are that appear(during the day) to be the second laziest animals on the planet.
    all of these will adopt a herd/flock and defend it(donkeys and llamas have quite a kick, and one must train one’s dogs to get along with them, lest they be killed)
    They also employ “propane cannons” rarely, these days, thankfully)…and some kind of siren i can hear away over yonder sometimes.
    sirens are also used for calling them when hunting.

    I don’t doubt Mr Niagra’s experience, but out here, it’s pretty difficult to kill a coyote…much less 30.
    they are wily and sly and vanish at a light, a cough, a squeaky truck door…I’ve been intimately involved in roaming around this place at all hours for 26 years…and i can see a long way from almost anywhere on the place…and i’ve only actually seen a handful of them.

    as for my coyote countermeasures…barbado are safely back behind mom’s…but they’ve overwintered across the road on my place…right by a coyote trail.
    so i put up windchimes, happened to place the bar to where i could shine a light over there at night, put a radio in the bar on whatever am talk radio i can get, and deploy the barrels from the bano to that fenceline for their year-long dry composting process….coyotes think we’re living over there and avoid it.
    whatever bar patrons are encouraged to pee on certain fences, as well.
    wouldn’t work with cows…as they’d knock them over right quick.

    1. Lee

      The best way I know of to reduce coyote populations is to introduce wolves. But I suppose that wouldn’t go over too well in your neck of the plains.

  17. Amfortas the hippie

    and regarding Feigleding(sp-2)…
    took wife to san antone for the first time since first of december…after clerical nonsense weather and covid delayed all that cancer stuff…and can attest that the general level of assholery and just plain anger in the vibespace is palpable.
    bad, aggressive driving, numerous Karens(male and female), drivers staring angrily into the space above their hoods, etc etc.
    everywhere we went(not many places), people were mostly masked…mostly properly(over nose, etc)…but people were noticeably more surly than 3 1/2 months ago.
    wife reports that the oncology place was much better, re: the mood….likely due to the overwhelming sense of shared suffering in that cohort.

    1. QuicksilverMessenger

      I propose that male and female Karen’s, to save time and hurt feelings, heretofore should simply be referred to as Karxn’s.

        1. ambrit

          To avoid any hint at bias or partiality, I suggest that we simplify the designation for the entire class of “person” to “K.” (I freely acknowledge my debt to a certain Middle European writer of the previous century.) I find that the ultra-simplification to “X” has already been appropriated.

      1. ambrit

        Hah! I’m with the Traditionalists on this one. What’s wrong with using the old fashioned forms? Indeo and Indea?

        1. tegnost

          I googed indeo and I don’t think it’s family blog friendly, what the heck are you talking about? I’m sure it’s not indian maids in a state of frolic…

  18. Amfortas the hippie

    found this twitter thing linked in something i read in the parking lot, today:

    gels right in with the sour vibespace i mentioned earlier.

    and somewhere in my online fone rambling, i came across this quote, which i wrote on a napkin:
    “money is a trading value, not a collector’s item”..so whomever eric osterbeek is will have his quote immortalised at the bar at the hermit kingdom.

    and, one more thang:
    i thought about y’all when i read this guy, whomever he is(i’ve been too tired for weeks for any intellectual digging)

  19. Amfortas the hippie

    as i mentioned a week(?) ago, my eldest flew the coop, off to houston to work demolition for my cousin on all the freeze damage.
    he called us this afternoon with a strange conundrum…one that i didn’t anticipate.
    the older guys he’s working with played on his ignorance of coworker etiquette, and asked him how much he was making.
    he offered it up readily, because that’s how he and his buddies out here are.
    turns out, it’s commensurate with theirs, even though he’s a newbie/kid(i had no idea).
    they’re not mad at him, but at the foreman…cousin is big boss and is thus far unaware that he’s got brewing labor problems….specifically, this was the last straw in an already brewing grievance…all tangled up in foreman being ex father in law to one, and brother in law to another.
    eldest was upset…felt guilty…and entered Philosopher Mode.
    I reminded him that that wouldn’t fly with those guys, and to Be Jane Goodall for a week or so….and if approached about this, to Keep it Simple…and instead of “remember that thou art dust”…” remember that thou art a country bumpkin”, and therefore ignorant(“i know that i know nothing”)
    i explained that 80(?) years of Texas being “Right to Work” means that it’s a Hobbseian all against all out there, by design…(and that i am likely the best boss he’ll ever have,lol, in that i encouraged questions and speculation and such.)
    i stressed that there is a strong taboo about discussing paychecks with coworkers, which always leads to drama…unless, i suppose, one happens to be in a Union.(i never have been).
    I apologised for neglecting to inform him of this…which had never even crossed my mind in his upbringing.

    these guys were already itching to quit and/or ask for a raise, but were too chickenshit to do so without the use of a kid spilling the beans.
    they only even asked the question because the foreman pays them with stacks of bills(even i paid my guys in envelopes…even if i had to make one with paper and tape)…so they were able to see for themselves.
    anyhoo…big lesson for him…it’s very different back here at home, from the rest of the world,lol.
    it was strange having this conversation with an excited 19 year old, 350 miles away, and having to glean the real story on the fly and formulate a strategy/explanation extemporaneously.

    oh…and “Empty Nest” is a real thing.

    1. tegnost

      Empty nest…yes it’s hard…it seems to me that women are programmed a little better to deal with this, look at all the new careers moms create after said event…men could take a lesson from that, at least the one’s who made compromises for child rearing so that maybe there’s a dream to chase. I do believe that’s the key, women carry the child, there’s no question of whether this impacts the other parts of your life, guys can go deadbeat or just be lame but it’s them who’s missing out and when they’re gone they’re gone, you missed your chance and yeah a lot of times they hate you for it, leaving mom to deal and hiding behind the money thing. Go ride down the train tracks on sunday in the deserted part of town and get your points in when there’s no pressure. It’s good for you and it’s good for the ungrateful little punks, too /s . In your case i am not worried about your capacity for chasing dreams it seems like you’ve mostly caught up with them. I’m a fan of the b russell philosophy that one is happiest chasing unachievable dreams that nonetheless have successful hills you go over on the way up the mountain. The kid barely talks talks to us now but I rely on those uneventful moments when we were dumpster diving or just riding around the hood on bikes and talking about whatever. I looked for my chances to get in the good words…at some point you just have to go “well I think I said all i could say, sure hope it works out” but get comfort as I know he was listening and now he’s doing his thing.

      1. Rory

        An observation I like is that mother’s and daughters have face to face talks. Fathers and sons talk side by side, looking out the windshield or at the TV screen.

        1. Yves Smith

          You need to meet more WASPs. They don’t talk. I can’t recall ever asking my parents for advice or telling them about much of anything important to me, even in my teens, given their lack of interest in my having been repeatedly and badly bullied when I was eight and again when I was ten, each time after a move. And see below about stereotyping.

        2. Amfortas the hippie

          due to my terrible arthritis and dead hip manifesting right after he was born, i was a househusband/stay at home dad….for both boys.(i was shocked at the ire/acrimony this role reversal played among the folks out here) When Momma’s inadequate maternity leave ended, i draped her nightgown over me when tending to them, so they could smell her, and get acclimated to me,lol.
          eldest spent 0-4 years following me around the farm…then helping with his new baby brother.
          i wept when both had their turn going off to pre-K, etc.
          He’s definitely in culture shock, right now…north houston suburbia is like another planet compared to here, socially, and physically(he’s noted the ever present noise).
          (and…umm..I’m sorry Yves…I can’t seem to locate the offending stereotype…unless it’s that most people simply aren’t philosophers, while my boys essentially grew up at radical philosophy camp: i started Socratic Dialog/ Questioning as soon as they could talk…which approach has served them well, and even infected their buddies…which is the problem, in this case. his habit is to think outside the box, and offer up speculations freely…which is way cool on the farm with dear old dad, but(in my experience) often seen as threatening/offputting among the Mundanes.(“Men fear thought…”))

      2. Yves Smith

        I find this sort of stereotyping deeply offensive. Don’t do it again.

        As for finding out who makes what, this was simple on Wall Street since everyone had an interest in knowing what the pay levels were for the purpose of negotiating v. management next year (or quitting) and they did it by having everyone in a department put their total comp # in a hat and a secretary would compile them and the list would be circulated to all who’d contributed.

    2. skippy

      “Empty Nest” is just wings taking flight …. so how you manage that is more about you than it is about them … especially when ones own personal rear view mirror bends time and space …

      Funny thing is coming from a back ground of classic blue bloods and dirt under the fingers farmers is that back in the day they were both the same when it came to personal achievement E.g. you might have a door opened if you were worthy, but the rest was on your back and if you embarrassed those that opened the door ….

      My youngest son just got a gold plated apprenticeship with Volvo CE through such an occurrence, yet he had to present himself for a long interview with the business director and the apprenticeship mob that administrates the the whole thing. Not long after passing the test and whilst at work this group were instructed on what the days job would be, disassemble and rebuild a big differential, whilst all the others were standing around he picked up a rattle gun and started stripping nuts off bolts ….

      He’s ahead of the rest because of myself and sending him of to the bush to hang out with his uncle and the old boys, learn the code, lmmao his uncle is worth hundreds of millions and dresses like a yabbo laborer with international clients …

      Anywho the whole not talking about wages is a classic case of the betters setting the acceptable dialogue from a methodological individual framework with some heavy duty sophist moralization to give it gravitas – see YS comment below.

      My thoughts are you should tell him to get his feet under him and then when he gets respect he could expand on some things wink wink …

  20. michael99

    Caught this podcast the other day:

    Rethinking the Senate: The Modern Filibuster, Political Appointments, and Minority Rule

    This is from the KQED public radio program Forum. The guest is Adam Jentleson, author of Kill Switch: The Rise of the Modern Senate and the Crippling of American Democracy, just out in January.

    Jentleson worked as an aide to Harry Reid. In recounting its history and arguing that it makes obstruction a politically winning strategy for the Republicans, I think he makes a strong case for killing the filibuster.

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