2:00PM Water Cooler 3/22/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Most popular bird song audio at eBird today.


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 “in the eye of the storm” , we are still in the eye of the storm.

Vaccination by region:

Not sure whether we’re looking at a data artifact or not; the Johns Hopkins data was updated today. Bloomberg (also averaged) has a slight dip. • 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.

FL: “Florida among states where rapid COVID-19 vaccine rollout backfired, analysis finds” [Orlando Sentinel]. “A surprising new analysis found that states such as Florida, South Carolina and Missouri that raced ahead of others to offer the vaccine to ever-larger groups of people have vaccinated smaller shares of their population than those that moved more slowly and methodically, such as Hawaii and Connecticut. The explanation, as experts see it, is that the rapid expansion of eligibility caused a surge in demand too big for some states to handle and led to serious disarray. Vaccine supplies proved insufficient or unpredictable, websites crashed and phone lines became jammed, spreading confusion, frustration and resignation among many people.”

Case count by United States regions:

The curve has definitely been flatterrnning for the last three weeks, and in the last two days seems to have flattened entirely (remember I use one-week averages to smooth out data artifacts). That’s not good, and when we look at the Northeast, it’s flattened entirely. Since these are averaged weekly, there’s some momentum in the train, too. 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, and is now hardly decreasing at all. Not good news, especially since an average of 16,584 cases per day, now felt to be normal, isn’t all that less than 20,526 at New York’s peak a year ago, then regarded as horrific. I’m also loathe to give Florida’s DeSantis permission for a happy dance, but there’s no question that in the enormous natural experiment that is our Federalized response to Covid, Florida didn’t do badly, and its case curve looks pretty much like that corrupt crook Cuomo’s, just with a later peak.

Test positivity:

Big jump in the South.


Hospitalization data is the best data we have, because hospital billing is a highly functional data acquisition system (ka-ching). That said, 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. The fatality rate in the West is where it was last May.

* * *


“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

“‘I was sick to my stomach’: George W. Bush denounces the Capitol riot in a new interview.” [New York Times]. • But torture? Hundreds of thousands of dead civilians? No problemo!

Biden Administration

“Obama-era officials return to White House worth millions” [ABC]. “As several Obama-era officials return to the White House under President Joe Biden, their reunion comes with fuller pockets and deeper ties to corporate interests, new financial disclosure reports show…. . High-ranking government officials typically divest their financial interests in specific private companies that they may regulate, as required by ethics rules, or recuse themselves from matters that could affect their personal financial interests. Some of the Biden White House officials have indicated in their disclosure reports that they will divest from their corporate interests, but the full extent of their plans to avoid conflict of interest are not yet known because ABC News has not yet obtained their ethics agreements.”

“DHS secretary says border is closed: ‘The message is quite clear, do not come'” [The Hill] • Fundamentally, nothing will change.

“Biden promised change at the border. He’s kept Trump’s Title 42 policy to close it and cut off asylum” [Los Angeles Times]. • Perhaps we look back, as some of us did with Obama and Bush, to find more continuities than differences with Biden and Trump.

“Republican AGs take blowtorch to Biden agenda” [Politico]. “Republican attorneys general are suing the Biden administration over the Keystone XL pipeline, and over its its immigration and climate policies. One is challenging the White House’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. Others have raised the specter of a constitutional challenge to the voting rights bill H.R. 1… With their party out of power in the White House and Congress, the nation’s 26 Republican attorneys general have emerged as the weapons division of the GOP, reprising a role played by Democratic AGs during the Trump era. Just as Democratic AGs served as the vanguard of the blue-state resistance, Republican AGs are leading the charge to stymie President Joe Biden’s policy-making agenda.”

Trump Legacy

“Former Operation Warp Speed head takes credit for ’90 percent’ of vaccine rollout so far” [The Hill]. “The former head of the White House’s Operation Warp Speed partnership, Moncef Slaoui, said on Sunday that the Trump administration was responsible for “90 percent” of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan so far…. “I do think that we had plans and in fact 90 percent of what’s happening now is the plan that we had. Of course the first thing was to accelerate the development of the vaccine,’ he continued. ‘We constructed [contracted?] specifically 100 million doses of vaccine, but also built into the contract options to acquire more vaccines once we knew they are effective. And the plan was to order more vaccines when we knew they are more effective.’ Pres. Biden has criticized the Trump White House for failing to provide enough COVID-19 vaccine doses. Slaoui said that he believed that the former administration could take credit for most of the manufacturing and distribution of the coronavirus vaccines. However, he added that vaccine administration and the utilization of the Federal Emergency Management Agency was ‘not part of the plan’ and acknowledged that the Biden administration had taken the lead in those areas.” • 90%? I dunno. What I do know is that the Trump administration is given no credit whatsoever, and that’s just bogus.

Republican Funhouse

“The Florida Theory Of Republican Power” [The American Conservative]. “The Sunshine State has become a veritable home of the Grand Old Party in exile. Its regional breakdown could be taken as a simile for the various power centers of the party as a whole. First, you have the Panhandle, most prominently represented in Congress by Matt Gaetz…. Heading south, and you start heading into expatriate families from America’s more old guard climes real fast. Like many Republicans, Tucker Carlson has taken up residence off the Gulf coast, ditching D.C. The artist and TAC board member George O’Neill Jr. has long lived in the middle of the state. Stopping there, you might assume the GOP was still all WASP stock at the commanding heights, like back in the old days. Moving right along, Fort Myers and Naples, where DeSantis spoke, have long been considered hotbeds for those leaving the Midwest… Rick Scott, the former two-term governor and Florida’s junior senator, hails from the Show Me State and calls Naples home. A little north, Tom Brady of Tampa, the peerless Super Bowl champion, has long been regarded as a crypto-Republican. In Miami, you encounter Florida’s senior senator, Marco Rubio, the party’s perennial once-and-future hope. You also run into more and more folks from Silicon Valley, who say they’re fleeing “woke” California. Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have also decamped to a place there following their exodus from government. Miami’s mayor, Francis X. Suarez, is certainly trying to make a name for himself, and like Rubio, is at the forefront of the party’s attempts to court Hispanic Americans, which proved more successful than anyone imagined in 2020. And, of course, the secretive Matt Drudge has long convulsed the news cycle from his Miami-Dade compound.” • Interesting….

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Nev. Democratic Party in upheaval after progressive takeover” [Associated Press]. “[This week] a slate of Sen. Bernie Sanders-aligned progressives backed by a local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America won the party’s top leadership posts. The results prompted resignations of the party’s staff and consultants. Nevada political operatives say the progressive takeover could diminish the power of the state party and jeopardize a push to make the state the first presidential nominating contest in 2024, ahead of Iowa and New Hampshire. It’s unlikely that Whitmer’s leadership will weaken the broader, vaunted political “Reid Machine” or the 2022 reelection prospects of Nevada’s U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, three Democrats in the U.S. House and the state’s Democratic governor. It seems likely Reid and other establishment politicians may move to work outside the party structure to raise money, recruit candidates and run voter outreach.” • Lol, “unity.”

“Trump adviser says former president will return to social media within months” [The Hill]. “Former Trump administration senior adviser Jason Miller said Sunday that the former president plans to return to social media in the coming months with his “own platform.'” • If your business depends on a platform…

“Neil Gorsuch Supports an Originalist Theory That Would Destroy Modern Governance” [Slate]. “On Thursday, the Columbia Law Review published one of the most important and topical scholarly articles in recent memory, “Delegation at the Founding.” Its authors, Julian Davis Mortenson and Nicholas Bagley, put forth a sweeping argument: They assert that an ascendant legal theory championed by conservative originalists has no actual basis in history. That theory, called the nondelegation doctrine, holds that the Constitution puts strict limits on Congress’ ability to let the executive branch set rules and regulations. Congress, for instance, could not direct the Environmental Protection Agency to set air quality standards that ‘protect public health,’ and let the agency decide what limits on pollution are necessary to meet that goal. Nondelegation doctrine has enormous consequences for the federal government’s ability to function, since Congress typically sets broad goals and directs agencies to figure out how to achieve them. The theory is supported by a majority of the current Supreme Court; in 2019, Justice Neil Gorsuch signaled his eagerness to apply the doctrine, and at least four other conservative justices have joined his crusade.” • Important, and well worth a read.

Stats Watch

“February 2021 CFNAI Super Index Moving Average Index Declined” [Econintersect]. “The economy’s rate of growth declined based on the Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) 3 month moving (3MA) average – and the economy remains below the historical trend rate of growth…. This index is likely the best coincident indicator of the U.S. economy. A coincident indicator shows the current state of the economy. This month, only two of the four broad categories of indicators improved. The economy has slowed from its rate of growth in 2018 but now has moved above territory associated with recessions [a level below -0.7 indicates a recession is likely underway].”

* * *

Shipping: “Unvaccinated sailors risk deepening global supply chain crisis” [Financial Times]. “Of the world’s 1.7m seafarers, 900,000 are from developing nations, where vaccines might not be available for all until 2024, according to the International Chamber of Shipping, a trade association. Guy Platten, secretary-general of ICS, said it had received reports that three ports in China had prevented sailors from disembarking because they had not received a specific Covid-19 vaccine, foreshadowing a potential repeat of last year’s welfare crisis for seafarers and the challenges to rebooting international travel. ‘If our workers can’t pass through international borders, this will undoubtedly cause delays and disruptions in the supply chain,’ he said. ‘We’re really scared seafarers will become collateral damage again.'” • Another aspect of the “crew change” problem; see NC here.

Tech: “Zoom Pays $0 in Federal Income Taxes on Pandemic Profits” [Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy]. “Zoom Video Communications, the company providing a platform used by remote workers and school children across the country during the pandemic, saw its profits increase by more than 4,000 percent last year but paid no federal corporate income tax on those profits. The company reports that it made $660 million of pre-tax profits for 2020, an exponential increase from its $16 million in pre-tax profits in 2019. The immediate shift to online activity explains the company’s unprecedented income growth. For many, Zoom has become a ubiquitous daily meeting space, both for work, class instruction, family gatherings and evening happy hours. But why was the company’s income bonanza not matched by at least a token federal tax bill? The main answer appears to be the company’s lavish use of executive stock options.”

Tech: “Creator who sold NFT house for $500,000: We’ll be ‘living in an augmented reality lifestyle’ soon” [CNBC]. “Contemporary artist Krista Kim recently sold an NFT-minted digital house for 288 ether, valued at over $500,000 based on the cryptocurrency’s trading price Wednesday. The creation — called Mars House — is part of Kim’s grand vision for the role augmented reality will play in the world….The new owner of Mars House, she said, will be able to upload the file into various metaverses — 3D immersive worlds — and experience the digital real estate there. She said Mars House represents the ‘next generation of NFT art.’ ‘For me, I actually foresee that we will be living in an augmented reality lifestyle within a very short period,’ Kim said, predicting it could happen in ‘a couple years.'”

Concentration: “A new effort to revive North American freight rail consolidation is under way. Canadian Pacific Railway agreed to acquire Kansas City Southern…. in a deal valued at about $25 billion that would create the first single freight-rail network connecting the continent'” [Wall Street Journal]. “If approved by regulators, the deal would allow the combined carrier to link factories and ports in Mexico, farms and plants in the midwestern U.S. and Canada’s ocean ports and energy resources. That approval carries high hurdles, and attempts by railroads to resume the large-scale mergers that marked the freight rail sector in the 1990s have foundered.”

Supply Chain: “The production end of the Covid-19 vaccine supply chain is speeding up. Drug makers Moderna, Pfizer and its partner BioNTech are using experience gained since the start of manufacturing to nearly triple their output of doses from last month to this month” [Wall Street Journal]. “That will push more vaccines into the immunization pipeline and draw greater attention to the final stages of vaccination that have proven challenging for many U.S. states…. To boost factory output, the manufacturers have started making certain raw materials on their own, Pfizer has figured out how to stretch scarce supplies of special filters and Moderna shortened the time needed to inspect and package vials.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 55 Neutral (previous close: 53 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 60 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). L Last updated Mar 22 at 12:20pm. One year ago, just after the Before Times: 8 (Extreme Fear).

Rapture Index: Closes down 1 on Food Supply. “Corn, wheat, and soybeans have declined from recent highs” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 188. (Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing, so high is better.)

The Biosphere

“How a Village United to Save Cinque Terre’s Ancient Terraces” [Atlas Obscura]. “For centuries, locals in Cinque Terre shaped the slopes to create terraces that allowed them to plant grapevines, olive trees, lemon groves, and more, the rows supported by dry stone walls that snaked across the hills. It took a millennium of hard work. By the 19th century, at their peak, these narrow strips of cultivated plots covered nearly 4,000 acres. In the 1950s, however, families began abandoning their plots. … Over the past three decades, the region has found new life as a tourist destination. As tourism boomed, the terraces were increasingly neglected, as were their stone walls…. Dry stone walls, which are the backbone of Cinque Terre’s terraces, regulate water flows, function as fire barriers, and stabilize the slopes. They reduce the risk of landslides, floods, and avalanches, combat erosion, and can help keep the cultivated soil healthier and more productive. But if they’re falling apart, the walls may actually increase the risk of catastrophic events… Starting with small meetings in homes, a group of local citizens created a foundation to restore the terraces.” • It looks like the locals give their terraces to a Foundation….

Health Care

The tweet from the Times social media team includes this image:

The story from the clickthough includes this image:

(This is the second case where the Times tweet has shown a poorly masked kid, and the clickthrough a well-masked kid, but I didn’t save the link, so you’ll have to take my word for it.) I assume #newsroom-feedback on the Times’s Slack is full of outrage that the Black kid has no mask discipline, and the white kid does, but thats not my point. Rather, in the absence of vaccinating teachers and ventilation guidance, the CDC is betting the public school system on proper masking by children, which the Times’ choice of photos shows na ga happen.

How Japan reacted on ventilation, back in March 2020:

WHO started out wrong on aerosols, and to this very day they are wrong. Thread:

“Could an accident have caused COVID-19? Why the Wuhan lab-leak theory shouldn’t be dismissed” [USA Today]. Interesting article. However, I’m pulling this out. Forgive the length of the quote:

With the help of a tipster, I revealed that the CDC’s then-new $214 million infectious disease lab building – a crown jewel in the nation’s race to defend against the threat of bioterrorism – suffered an hour-long power outage from a lightning strike and the failure of its emergency backup generators. The outage shut down key safety systems in the 368,000-square-foot concrete and glass research tower, known at the agency as Building 18, including specialized air pressure systems that help ensure lethal viruses remain inside individual labs.

CDC’s Building 18 houses numerous labs, including a suite of biosafety level 4 labs. Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal a dramatic 2009 incident in a decontamination chamber in one of the BSL-4 labs.

What’s worse, I later obtained internal documents and emails showing the CDC dismissed warnings from the agency’s own engineering staff, years before the lab opened, that the backup power system’s design “gives us no protection whatsoever from many types of failures.”

Following up on another tip, I revealed that scientists in this same troubled building were conducting experiments on a type of dangerous bacteria in a biosafety level 3 lab – the second-highest security level – where the containment door was sealed with duct tape.

The tape was applied around the edges of the door a year earlier, after it was discovered that a malfunctioning ventilation system was pulling potentially contaminated air out of the lab into a “clean” hallway, where others in the building walk around in street clothes and lack any gear to protect against infection. Nine workers who had been in the fallout zone were tested for potential exposure to the highly infectious bacterium that causes Q fever, which is classified as a potential bioterror agent and can cause mild to severe symptoms, including potentially fatal heart problems. No one was infected.

As I stood in front of the duct-taped door on a summer day in 2008, escorted by five CDC officials, the head of the agency’s occupational safety program downplayed the significance of the duct tape. The public was never at any risk, he said, the lab was perfectly safe, and the ventilation system had worked properly in the time since the incident happened a year earlier.

“Then why is the door still sealed with duct tape?” I asked.

It’s an enhancement,” replied Patrick Stockton, who at the time was the CDC’s safety and occupational health manager. “We could take it off.”

This is 2008. 2021 – 2008 = 13 years. The CDC has been broken for a long, long time.

“Trump says Fauci ‘a promoter more than anything'” [The Hill]. • Where’s the lie?

L’Affaire Joffrey Epstein

“Leon Black quits leadership positions at Apollo” [Financial Times]. “Leon Black has quit his leadership positions at Apollo Global Management, ceding power at the investment firm he co-founded 30 years ago after an outcry over his ties to the late paedophile Jeffrey Epstein…. ‘The relentless public attention and media scrutiny . . . have taken a toll on my health and have caused me to wish to take some time away from the public spotlight,’ Black wrote in an email to Apollo staff on Sunday…. ‘I will remain Apollo’s single largest shareholder and its biggest supporter,’ he wrote to Apollo staff on Sunday, adding: ‘I hope to return at some point.'”

Groves of Academe

“New online reporting form allows students to report sexual harassment anonymously” [Brown Daily Herald]. “‘Any steps we can take to reduce barriers to reporting and to center marginalized populations,’ [Sexual Harassment and Assault Resources and Education advocates Alana Sacks and Elliot Ruggles wrote in an email to The Herald] can help us be more comprehensive and effective in dealing with interpersonal violence.'”

The Agony Column

“‘Keeping Up With the Kardashians’ is ending, but the family’s influence on body image isn’t” [NBC]. “Over the years, the Kardashians and Jenners have both embodied and encouraged a highly specific physical aesthetic, dubbed “Instagram face” by the New Yorker’s Jia Tolentino. If you spend any significant time on social media, you likely know the look — lips filled with filler, arched eyebrows and high, plump cheekbones. Every member of the Kardashian clan boasts these attributes, in addition to countless influencers and celebrities (Addison Rae, Amelia Hamlin, James Charles) who’ve followed in their wake. The Kardashian appearance also entails ambiguously ethnic, highly tanned skin (sometimes questionably so), typically long dark hair, large breasts, a teeny-tiny waist and a sizable butt. Altogether, the look is instantly recognizable, next to impossible to replicate naturally and very, very popular.” • I’m so glad I have deliberately and successfully known as little as possible about the Kardashians.

“‘I don’t want sex with anyone’: the growing asexuality movement” [Guardian]. “Yasmin Benoit realised she was asexual around the time her peers in Reading figured out they weren’t…. Today, as well as being a fashion model, the poised 24-year-old is the world’s most prominent activist for asexuality, an orientation estimated to apply to 1% of the global population, although some think the number is higher…. The asexuality movement is young and fast-growing, and it recently received a notable boost. Last September saw the release of Ace, a critically acclaimed book by asexual journalist Angela Chen. It illuminates the myriad shades of asexuality via a series of real-life profiles. “Instead of getting bogged down in definitions, people can read those stories and think: does that resonate with my experience?” says Chen, 29, who is based in Brooklyn.’ • Brooklyn. Of course.

And then there’s this:

(This seems to be the original.) Musical interlude

Class Warfare

Why would anybody expect Amazon to obey the law? Important thread:

And another episode–

“Amazon Illegally Interrogated Worker Who Led First COVID-19 Strikes, NLRB Says” [Vice]. “In March 2020, the first COVID-19 cases at an Amazon warehouse in the United States were reported at a delivery depot in Queens, New York City. At the time, Amazon warehouse workers at the facility staged two walkouts in protest of Amazon’s handling of the outbreak, kicking off a wave of COVID-19-related protests and strikes at Amazon facilities across the United States. A National Labor Review Board (NLRB) investigation has now found that Amazon illegally interrogated and threatened Jonathan Bailey, a lead organizer of the Queens Amazon walkouts, and has issued a federal complaint against Amazon, according to official NLRB documents obtained by Motherboard. The case was settled before it went to trial, but the issuing of the complaint means that an NLRB investigation found Amazon broke the law.”

“Old Boys’ Clubs and Upward Mobility Among the Educational Elite” [NBER]. “This paper studies how exclusive social groups shape upward mobility, and whether interactions between low- and high-status peers can integrate the top rungs of the economic and social ladder. Our setting is Harvard in the 1920s and 1930s, where new groups of students arriving on campus encountered a social system centered on exclusive old boys’ clubs…. The club membership premium is large: members earn 32% more than other students, and are more likely to work in finance and join country clubs, both characteristic of the era’s elite. The membership premium persists after conditioning on high school, legacy status, and even family. … We conclude that social interactions among the educational elite mediate access to top positions in the economy and society, but may not provide a path to these positions for underrepresented groups.” • Well, that was almost a hundred years ago…

News of the Wired

“The Magician’s Library” [Walter Kirn, Unbound]. “One of the special virtues of physical books is that they lie scattered about the world in no particular order and a title of interest can be discovered at random, serendipitously. This doesn’t happen with digital books.”

Don’t try this at home!!!!

Why has this not already happened:

* * *
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 (AM):

AM writes; “Anastasia State Park, St Augustine FL – sea grass and plant with leaves backlit by the sun in the dunes on Ground Hog Day, 2021.”

* * *
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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. John Beech

    Re: FL rates of vaccinations – I think it’s like anything else that new, those most interested crushed the system and the folks tasked with scheduling (who have never dealt with pandemic levels of citizen concern) tried their best and couldn’t meet demand. Awful easy to Monday morning quarterback. And I, for one, wish folks would refrain. Especially those whose two main qualifications are fogging a mirror and having a bellybutton.

  2. diptherio

    I have to disagree that those are “flattering” curves, Lambert ;-)
    They’re certainly not flattering to the public health authorities…

  3. Mr. Magoo

    Re: “Zoom Pays $0 in Federal Income Taxes on Pandemic Profits”

    Seems like eliminating stock-based compensation as an expense, as well as going back to prohibiting public companies from stock repurchases might be a tool in shaping public policy that is not discussed often enough.

  4. Miami Mitch

    On the kids not shagging:

    So men are having a less sex, but women are having the same amount of sex? This can only be a result of fewer men having sex with more different women. So is it that women have become more selective after the financial crisis, which seems to be a pivot point in that graph?

    And I don’t buy that the asexuality movement is a thing. Someone wants to sell a book, promote an ideology, maybe that’s it. Or maybe that woman who wrote that book felt alone and wanted to reach out to see if there were others like her. But I really think it’s based in fear. A fear of not wanting to open up to another human. Sad nonetheless.

    1. Utah

      I think your point is valid, a certain amount of men are having sex with more women. And also, my first thought was that more women could be having sex with women.

      I don’t know if I agree with your conclusion about asexuality. I think there is now language and social acceptance for something that has probably been around forever. It used to be there norm to get married and have children, and anything outside of that was weird, however old maids have always been a thing. Just like there is now language for homosexuality, and people sleeping with others of the same gender has been around forever.

      1. occasional anonymous

        I’m open to the possibility that there are some number of genuine asexual people around. But the fact that it’s now a ‘movement’, that some relatively significant number of people are claiming to be asexual, well, I view that the same way I view the recent vast increase in people suddenly claiming to be trans. It’s a social pathology, a sign of a civilization in an advanced state of decay.

        And I don’t mean that in some mean-spirited conservative sense of ‘degeneracy’, but I think the US is materially declining, and people are reacting to that in many more or less crazy ways.

        I also think, and I’m sure this will offend and piss some people off, that there’s a direct connection between the growing number of men not able to get laid, and the growing number of MTF transwomen. I’ve spent enough time around trans people to become convinced that at least some number of them are basically resorting to switching genders, or dating people who have switched genders, as a last ditch effort to get some approximation of a girlfriend. Especially given that there’s a significant overlap between autism and trans, and yes, I can back that claim up with evidence.

        1. Basil Pesto

          But the fact that it’s now a ‘movement’, that some relatively significant number of people are claiming to be asexual, well, I view that the same way I view the recent vast increase in people suddenly claiming to be trans. It’s a social pathology, a sign of a civilization in an advanced state of decay.

          That’s some leap, and I say that as someone who’s pretty cynical about the ‘movement’ framing (Halcyon’s view below is more or less my own).

          You may not mean it in the ‘mean-spirited conservative sense of ‘degeneracy’’, but I daresay that the outlook of a society that always seems to be in a state of decay is and has been the definitive conservative impulse for hundreds (thousands?) of years, and consequently a launching pad from which to cast aspersions on the blameless in the hope that they stick.

          1. Yves Smith

            Having a low libido is a big problem in this sexually liberated era. Perhaps occasional anonymous has never heard of all the MDs who treat women with low sex drive:


            It’s treated as a pathology. Admittedly, responsible MDs treat it as a pathology only if the woman is “distressed” about not wanting sex….but how much of that is due to the recognition that having her man know she’s not enthusiastic about sex is likely to lead to relationship stress and probable failure?

            I know a gay man who was up front about not having much libido and wasn’t much bothered about that but in general men would be even more inclined to pathologize low libido.

            Now that being single is a more viable option economically than it was in the 1950s, what’s wrong with people who aren’t into sex being open about that?

            1. Basil Pesto

              I’m not sure if you’re querying me or occasional anonymous but to clarify, I am in agreement with you, insofar as my answer to:

              Now that being single is a more viable option economically than it was in the 1950s, what’s wrong with people who aren’t into sex being open about that?

              is “nothing whatsoever”. I say that as well as someone who, if I’m being honest, is probably more autoerotically inclined, for various reasons (though I wouldn’t describe myself as asexual by any means).

              The cynicism I mentioned about the ‘movement’ tendency is a general (and perhaps lazy) cynicism about the possibility of mainstream identitarian grift (and corollary ressentiment) developing from it. But definitely not that asexuality is shameful or something to not be open about or a development that signifies the decay of civilisation (alongside, inter alia: videogames, comic books, the novel, boobies in movies, and so on)

              1. Yves Smith

                I was attempting to respond to occasional anonymous. Now one can argue that elevating asexuality to a brand is a bit much, but sadly that is where we are. And the branding may produce some overshoot, that those who get the big hormonal hit late or are awkward may use the “asexual” banner as a shield, but I’m not sure there’s much harm since they can change their minds later. There’s so much pressure on kids of both genders (and now all the other identities) now regarding sex and sexual identity that declaring oneself to be asexual as a way to tell others to stop pressuring you to be a certain way seems like a sensible strategy for those who might just be low libido and not full on asexual.

                1. Sara K.

                  As someone who has been involved in the asexuality movement (to varying degrees) for about a decade, I can explain why we need a ‘brand’.

                  First of all, many asexuals have trouble explaining/understanding their experiences when they are surrounded by people who assume that they experience sexual attraction. Many feel ‘broken’ because they do not feel the sexual feelings they are supposed to have (I personally did not experience this, but I can tell you after having communicated with many asexuals that it is very common). Having a word for it helps explain it, and it help people feel like broken. Though I myself did not feel ‘broken’, once I realized that the concept of asexuality was out there and that I was asexual… other people started making a lot more sense.

                  The other reason we find having a ‘brand’ useful is that it helps us find each other, for example, crafts meetups for asexuals. It would be hard to find each other if we did not have a word for it.

                  And yes, it’s true that someone who identifies as ‘asexual’ at one time may later conclude that the word does not apply to them. It happens once in a while. In the cases I know about, they felt like they still benefited from contact with the asexual community.

                    1. Sara K.

                      I think your comment was okay, I don’t expect most people to be well-informed about the asexual community.

                  1. Basil Pesto

                    Yes, thank you for sharing. I apologise if my aforementioned cynicism came across as callous.

            2. RMO

              In my marriage it’s the other way around – my wife’s libido is certainly higher than mine. According to those graphs I also seem to have been ahead of my time for decades and am now once again out of sync. I was a virgin until my mid-40’s but since getting together with the lady I am now married to I’ve been having regular sex… and now celibacy seems to be the new trend. I guess I’m never going to be in with the cool kids!

          2. occasional anonymous

            There are many, many signs that decades of neoliberal polices have shredded much of the social and cultural landscape. Bowling Alone is a classic tome on this subject, though there are plenty of others. NC itself is constantly hammering this kind of point. Personally, my point is that I’m inclined to see a lot of recent sexual movements through that lens. Are there actually a bunch of people out there who are just genuinely uninterested in sex? Or are there a growing number of people who think (or have convinced themselves) that they are because, eg, their capacity or opportunities for social connection in general have been degraded. Or perhaps it’s something like a hormonal problem, brought on by the unhealthy chemical environment rampant capitalism has created (we’re all full of plastic, extra hormones in our food, etc).

            Given that the urge to reproduce is one of the most ingrained and fundamental to biological life, I’m very skeptical of so many people claiming they have literally no sex drive.

            And just to clarify, I’m not saying gay (or bisexual) people have no sex drive, because that’s very self-evidently not true. In their cases it’s not about reproduction, the sex drive seems to have been ‘misdirected’ (in a reproductive sense. I’ve seen arguments like it’s a natural function of evolution; eg a population gets someone who can work but won’t add to the population themselves as a further resource drain), but the sex drive still exists.

        2. Sara K.

          It’s nice to know that you think that asexuals like me are a social pathology, a sign of civilization in an advance state of decay.

          Or did you not think that any asexuals read Naked Capitalism?

          1. occasional anonymous

            Since that’s explicitly what I didn’t say, I’m not going to apologize. I’m not saying asexuality doesn’t exist, I’m saying it suddenly being a relatively widespread phenomenon is very likely just one of many signs of social decline brought on by decades of neoliberal decay.

        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          > as a last ditch effort to get some approximation of a girlfriend

          Are the operations covered by health insurance? If not, there are ways to have “a girlfriend experience” without undergoing major surgery.

          1. occasional anonymous

            In fact the vast majority of MTF trans never get genital surgery. I don’t know what the numbers are for breast surgery, but a lot of them end up being satisfied with whatever hormones alone give them. I can also say from personal interactions (and yes I know the plural of anecdote is not data) that there are people who start to transition and then stop once they realize how much it can negatively impact their sex drive. That makes me extremely skeptical of so many people claiming they have gender dysphoria (which is not me saying literally no one actually has gender dysphoria), if they’re so willing to just give up when they find out they might stop being horny as a result of transitioning.

    2. Carla

      “So men are having a less sex, but women are having the same amount of sex? This can only be a result of fewer men having sex with more different women.”

      Or more women having sex with other women.

      1. Greg

        This seems more on the money. Didn’t we see a graph in watercooler a few weeks back showing a dramatic increase in self reported bisexuality and homosexuality amongst millennials?

      2. Miami Mitch

        Maybe, but my gut instinct is that it would mean the graph for women should be going much lower. And if bisexuality and homosexuality were more accepted, then why aren’t the men’s rates keeping pace with women’s.

        1. hunkerdown

          Because the acceptance of bisexuality and homosexuality is still shaped by existing and long-standing gender norms, one of which strongly discourages sexual contact between its adherents. Related, there is a certain mystical tendency to believe that sex between women isn’t “real” sex because there isn’t an organ of intromission involved.

          It could also be that normal definitions of “sex” are gendered, and one gender has a broader definition that doesn’t necessarily include the intromission of an organ of intromission as a litmus test.

          1. chuck roast

            I don’t know if this is covered in the Brown Univ. online interpersonal violence reporting. Anyway, those kids at old Brunonia are real bright and should be aware that self abuse would be characterized as intrapersonal violence. Just so there is no confusion.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > one gender has a broader definition that doesn’t necessarily include the intromission of an organ of intromission as a litmus test.

            Elevator pitch: “Intromission Impossible.”

    3. Toshiro_Mifune

      This can only be a result of fewer men having sex with more different women

      Thats the way I read it: women are chasing an ever dwindling pool of eligible* males.

      *As distinct from available

      1. enoughisenough

        It’s not clear women are having normal amounts of sex. They just don’t appear in the graph at all, they were not asked. I expect the graph to be the same, or higher for women.

        But no one cares if women aren’t getting laid, just lots of pearl-clutching about the mens. The assumption is men will start murdering if they don’t get attended to.

        It’s all so tiresome, this trope that a woman can always get sex if they want it. Just not true.

        1. occasional anonymous

          I wouldn’t frame it as men need sex or they’ll start murdering, but if so many men aren’t getting laid, I think it’s a sign that some notable number of men are having problems socially in general. This seems to be just one of many signs of a general social decay in the United States. You can write off any particular guy not being able to find someone willing to have sex with him as him just being a weirdo/loser/creep. But at some point there is such a number of such people that we have to start searching for non-personalized explanations, because it’s clearly a social level phenomenon. The prevalence of men not having sex is a symptom of some larger general social decline.

          And sorry, but it is true. Women are the gatekeepers of (straight) sexual activity. Unless she is exceptionally ugly or overweight (and even then, some people have a kink for BBWs), or carries some overt red flag of being crazy or toxic in some way, a woman under, say, about 55 will have little trouble finding a guy up for a screw within any 24 hour period. She might not be able to get or hold together a relationship, but just having sex is far less of an obstacle for a woman than it is for a straight man.

          1. enoughisenough

            you don’t know what you’re talking about.

            In fact, the original incel group was started by a woman. Young people in general are having less sex, and that includes women.

            It’s a sexist trope that women are sexual gatekeepers. Sorry, but it’s nonsense.

            “Unless she is exceptionally ugly or overweight (and even then, some people have a kink for BBWs), or carries some overt red flag of being crazy or toxic in some way, a woman under, say, about 55 will have little trouble finding a guy up for a screw within any 24 hour period.” <<< just wow.

            Are you assuming the men asked for this info in the graph are just normal, happy, attractive dudes themselves? You got a double standard, there.

            The rates for both men and women are the SAME.


            1. enoughisenough

              it’s very possible women are going without sex because their options are toxic, you can think about that one.

              Men can eliminate sexual options for toxicity, and that’s fine, but if a woman does it, she’s “gatekeeping”?

              Think about the implications there. Anyway, the stats are there^.

              1. occasional anonymous

                I stand by my statement. If the average woman openly advertises online, or someplace like newspaper personals (do those even still exist?) that she’s looking for sex, she will be bombarded with offers within a few hours at most. She will be the gatekeeper with multiple choices to filter.

                If the average guy does it, he’s very unlikely to get such a response. If he’s some Henry Cavill looking dude, he will, but the average guy? No way.

                I didn’t say that being discerning was bad in women. My point is that the average woman has a choice of options that the average guy doesn’t. And this is a consistent dynamic.

                And if you don’t believe me, go to any dating site or app, or a personals site like Doublelist, and compare the number of desperate guys to the number of women seeking just sex. There is no comparison. Sites like OnlyFans basically exist to separate the ocean of thirsty guys desperate for even remote female attention from their money.

                If there are large numbers of average looking women (and I don’t mean that as an insult; most people are average, by definition, neither exceptionally beautiful nor hideous. Some skill with makeup can also go a very long way to enhancing looks) who insist that they can’t find any non-sleazy men up for casual sex, then my only explanation would be to question how they’re advertising themselves. As far as I’m aware there is still no straight equivalent to Grindr, an app that is pretty openly primarily for enabling gay men to hook up for casual sex. For straight people everything still has the fig leaf of being for ‘dating’. There’s still to a large extent a stigma against women just openly asking for sex, so they’re usually more circumspect about how they advertise.

                I’ll add that I can definitely appreciate that even when a woman does get a bunch of offers, especially over the internet, she might be extremely worried about sifting through them in the hopes of not ending up with a rapist or psycho murderer.

                1. enoughisenough

                  I gave you actual data, in the webmd link. Women are not having sex at the same rate as men not having sex.

                  Did the data stutter? Or do you just know best, from your mythical imagination in which women are all having tons of sex, just leaving men behind, somehow?

                  Come on. Not having sex is a cultural problem, and it is happening to everyone, men and women, and everyone. That’s documented.

                  Men. Women. BOTH not having sex.

                  Women not advertising free sex at the same rates as men is not data in actual sex having. It’s data about that being more dangerous for women to do. At least you acknowledge that possibility. I’d advise you to take that seriously.

                  1. Yves Smith

                    Not having sex is not the same as not having the opportunity. You are seriously conflating the two issues and the point of departure was women’s access to sex, not if they were actually having it. So you’ve now shifted grounds. That’s bad faith argumentation.

                    Two out of five women would rather eat cheese than have sex:


                    Similar stats, 39% of women would give up sex for a year rather than give up their favorite food. This from a survey of 4,000:

                    About 32 percent of singles say that if forced to choose, they’d rather give up sex for a year than their favorite food. More women would take that path to satisfaction, with 39 percent choosing food over sex, while only 16 percent of single men would do the same.


                    Heterosexual sex is conventionally defined as an event that produces a male orgasm. One survey found 26% of women fake orgasms all the time. There’s also the prospect of a new lover not being very good or being in too much of a rush that night, and not many men being receptive to training.

                    1. occasional anonymous

                      Those are some pretty damning stats, at least by implication, of many men’s prowess as lovers.

            2. Yves Smith

              I disagree. Women can pretty much always trade down enough to get laid. I personally knew three women who I am highly confident would be classified as nymphomaniacs, two as roommates at different times, the third as the recently divorced wife of a friend. Despite having serious jobs, they all prowled bars every night to find a willing man (this was way before the Internet) and had a close to 100% success rate. One of these three is how I had the dubious pleasure of seeing Alan Dershowitz clad only in a towel, he was one of the guys she picked up (although I am sure he sees it as he picked her up…).

              The third of this trio was 52 and as I stress had no difficulty finding a sex partner when she wanted to, which seemed to be all the time when she wan’t drunk.

              I have the strong impression that you are not at all familiar with the casual sex scene. Do you know anyone who has been to a sex party? A sex club? One of my friends ran a sex club. It’s very easy to get laid if you know how to go about finding the right venues.

              Some New Age cults (Rajneesh and I know there were break-away groups many years ago) were to a large degree about promoting sexual encounters (“being open and available”) you could tell ex Rajneesh-iis a mile away, it was hard for them to get over hitting on people and assuming the answer would be “yes”.

        2. polar donkey

          From the younger guys I speak too, late teens to mid twenties, these guys on average have really low abilities to interact with women who aren’t family. A few things are factoring into this. First, economic opportunity. There doesn’t seem much chance for a decent job for a lot of these guys, so how attractive to a possible partner are you? Second, cell phones and video games. About the only thing these guys can talk about is Madden and very recently sports betting for the guys with some pocket money. Third is porn. When you are hardly speaking to women not related to you and a large portion of the videos watched online are porn, you get pretty screwed up and socially awkward guys.

        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          > just lots of pearl-clutching about the mens

          If a double-digit percentage of young men aren’t having sex at all, that… doesn’t seem good, never mind the moralizing. I don’t know what the numbers would be for other societies in other times are, but intuitively that seems high. Darwin didn’t give men libidos and all that hydraulic apparatus to rust, maladaptively, unused, after all.

          I also wonder how much of this is evangelical related. Men who because the economy’s been in the crapper for most of their adult lives can’t marry because they can’t provide, and can’t have sex outside marriage because that’s a mortal sin.

          1. Anonylisa

            My tiny anecdote in a wealthy Dfw suburb is what I hear from high school kids. I think for many evangelicals this data may be skewed by the definition of the word sex. The teens around here only regard intromission as sex. Literally any and all other behaviors are not really sex. Anal and oral are not. This starts with their promise rings at church.

    4. Expat2Uruguay

      Or perhaps men are having more sex with men? After all the graph is of the question “have you had sex with a woman since you turned 18?”. Also, when did virginity become defined as not having sex after 18?

      All in all, there’s just not a lot of clarity about the results presented.

      1. Yves Smith

        I also wonder if there are definitional issues. I am told teenaged women don’t consider giving a blow job to be sex . If they mainly classify fellatio as “not sex” while men mainly classify it the other way, that could partly explain the issue.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Definitional issues has long been the bane of any kind of research into sexual activity. One persons ‘fooling around’ is another persons ‘sex’. Its also one reason why its so very hard to quantify issues like the percentage of people who are *insert sexual identity* or have been sexually assaulted, etc. And of course far too many researchers have an agenda of one sort or another.

    5. jrs

      But what does opening up to another human being have to do with wanting to have sex with them or not? See asexuality is defined as no pull to have sex with other people, no sexual attraction, and you are saying if only they had enough therapy, the sexual attraction that they don’t possess, would magically appear?

      And can’t one open up to another human being in an entirely platonic relationship with any and all genders?

      And many though not all, asexuals have had sex with other people to see what it was all about, a curiosity thing mostly of course, and some have regular sex to please sexual partners, they aren’t all celibates and virgins, they just have no sexual attraction to others, that other people seem to somehow possess. It’s why an asexual might not be able to tell you if they are homo or hetero or bi sexual, they would be “well both genders can be asethetically attractive” or “well it’s easier to be heterosexual as it’s the default so maybe I’m that” or “well I’m not attracted to the other genders so I must be homosexual” etc., when they really don’t experience sexual attraction as such.

      1. Halcyon

        I think many people have almost always wanted companionship, emotional and physical intimacy much more than sex, which they will view as just another activity or something you have to put up with to get the former things. It’s just that now we have labels for these people as “asexual” and as with all labels, if it helps people feel better about themselves, I’m all for it… insofar as it becomes weird idpol stuff that then traps people into identities they may not feel they want, I’m against it. Nice and consistent position!

        1. Miami Mitch

          Being on prozac made me asexual so I just do not know anymore. Are these kids on meds? Is it in the water? And why asexuality not considered a disorder? Maybe they have too much serotonin. And why the bad rap on sex addicts then? Don’t they call those people sluts? And how do asexuals know if they do not want sex if they never has sex? I want to find one of these people an talk with them for hours.

          And I read that they are fine with masturbation. That is sexual for sure, but just not sex. Sex with themselves? The ultimate idpol?

          They say something is a disorder when it interferes with your everyday life. I think this interferes with their everyday life.

          1. Sara K.

            No, I’m not on meds, and many asexuals aren’t on meds either. Some are on meds because asexuals sometimes need meds for the same reason other people need meds.

            Why would asexuality be considered a disorder?

            Have you ever had sex with a banana tree? If not, how do you know you don’t want sex with a banana tree. Do you go to heterosexual men and ask them if they have never had sex with a man, how could they know that whether or not they want sex with men.

            You may want to talk to an asexual for hours, but I don’t. Leaving a few comments is one thing; I don’t want to dedicate hours talking to people who think that my sexual orientation is a disorder. Most asexuals wouldn’t want to talk to your for hours either. If you really want to know more, how about reading a book about asexuality, such as the book by Angela Chen just mentioned, or The Invisible Orientation by Julie Sondra Decker?

          2. Keep ignorant opinions to yourself

            This is projection. Being uncomfortable with not having sex looks to be your issue.

            I’d had over 30 sex partners by the time I was 35 and regularly had men pick me up, including a very rich man who was keen to keep me. I pretty much quit having sex then and hardly ever masturbate either. I was having sex for social reasons, because I thought I was supposed to. I didn’t enjoy sex much when I had it and haven’t missed it except for people thinking a single woman ought to be dating (I never bothered finding arm candy for appearance’s sake).

          3. Lambert Strether Post author

            > Is it in the water?

            Could be. It’s complicated.

            I have to play this because it’s one of my favorite clips in the world:

            I’ve always felt that Ripper got the delivery mechanism right (water), but the chemical (fluoridation) wrong. There’s no reason not to take epigenetics into account; quite the reverse, I think.

      2. Sara K.

        jrs, as an asexual, I thank you for your comment. You accurately describe many asexual people.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > But what does opening up to another human being have to do with wanting to have sex with them or not?

        Very little, I would say; the conflation of romance, love, sex, intimacy, and marriage strikes me as a particularly knotty bourgeois double-bind. People have sex for all sorts of reasons, intimacy being one; the illusion of intimacy probably being more frequent than the actuality.

        1. occasional anonymous

          Sex, even casual sex, is a social activity though. I’m inclined to see a society-wide growth in sexual, uh, dysfunctions (for lack of a better term; I’m not intending for it to carry a judgement value) as one of many signs of a general social decline.

          Neoliberalism is breaking everything and making everyone miserable. Why wouldn’t that also show up in sexual activities (or lack thereof)?

    6. Halcyon

      I don’t normally mention this but it is germane to say I’m in my mid-twenties.

      I think a number of things are responsible for this, but dating apps are absolutely one of them. The vast majority of young people who are interested in having sex are no longer going out and meeting the likeliest possible person. They are going on dating apps instead. Here, it’s well-known that the game is unbelievably stacked in favour of women, with most men swiping to match with pretty much every woman. They can therefore be much more discerning when it comes to finding potential matches; when it comes to appearance, life circumstances, conversation, etc. and I think this is simply playing a huge role. I admit that I had no idea how these things worked before, mind, but I can’t help but think the inflection will map very neatly onto the use of these apps.

      1. Roger

        Maps pretty well to increasing smart phone technology and tinder etc. A lot of research shows that women view only about the top 20% of men as physically “above average”, so easy availability through visually-oriented dating apps would trend toward the 80%/20% rule. Reinforced by women tending to want more attractive men for quickie “romances” as against long term relationships. Men’s view of physically “above average” more maps to the top 50% of women, also men will tend to accept less attractive women (than themselves) for quickies.

        The result is the “young studs” with a never-ending supply of women and the rest becoming extremely resentful, hence “red pill”, MGTOW etc. A lot of angst about women supposedly having their “hoe periods” then settling for a lesser man to marry later in life. The average 25 year old woman may nowadays have had significantly more partners than the average man. Thankfully I am in my 50’s and can watch this shit-show from afar.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > They are going on dating apps instead

        Or watching pr0n. I have never seen a study showing damage from professional-grade pr0n, but I’ve never gone looking. The standards (bodies; performance) seem impossibly high, but they also seem to me to be bad standards in the first place.

        One might remember that sex is one of the few activities, for either sex, that can give pleasure without the necessity for any kind of mediation, commercial or no. It’s the one way, for millennia, that non-elites could always be gratified/have fun/find pleasure (modulo the usual mostly male bad behaviors, especially violence). Hence the necessity, so evident in today’s university- and corporate-driven idpol, to leash and collar it.

        For the Lords and Ladies, sex was for making an heir to carry on the line (the property). Not so for the peasant!

        1. The Rev Kev

          ‘Hence the necessity, so evident in today’s university- and corporate-driven idpol, to leash and collar it.’

          Not just them. The Proud Boys have an edict against masturbation for their own reasons. I am given to understand that it is an old mechanism to deny groups of people sex in any form and any resulting tensions being let off by providing a convenient target group from time to time.

        2. occasional anonymous

          I don’t know about the high standards part. ‘Pornstar pretty’ is a phrase that’s been around for years. Most of the women in professional American porn are only attractive in a very narrow sense, and I’m far from alone in having that judgement. They’re usually really fake, so plucked and shaved and plastered in sharp makeup that it kind of circles around to being unattractive. My sense is that getting a girl next door type who looks like a real person is a kind of holy grail for porn producers, because such a woman is so rare in the industry.

          For male porn stars (”’stars”’), 99% of them are muscled, tatted up, and have a shaved head. The preposterously named James Deen (with two E’s!) basically based his entire porn career on not looking like one of the standard skinhead types. He’s also apparently a genuinely nice guy, which was extremely appealing to female porn stars. I gather most of the men in mainstream porn are not particularly nice people.

          As for other forms of damage caused by porn, I’m pretty sure porn addiction is a real thing, because people can get addicted to basically anything. But finding credible information on it can be very difficult, because the ‘porn is bad’ genre is completely overrun by Evangelical types.

    7. Jeotsu

      I wonder what affect PFAS and declining fertility (male and female) is having with these stats. Is sex drive decreasing or changing in people who are more PFAS contaminated? Could this also play a role in the increase in the (declared) preference for non-binary, or body dysphoria?

    8. Sara K.

      I’ve been involved (to varying degrees) with the asexuality movement for a decade. It exists, it’s existed since long before Angela Chen wrote her book.

      You have demonstrated one of the most common derogatory stereotypes of asexuality, one that is often used to pressure asexuals into having sex they don’t want to have. In my experience, the people who claim that human asexuality isn’t real are the ones who do not want to open up to other humans experiences. Maybe before jumping to conclusions about asexual people you actually research the topic?

    9. Lambert Strether Post author

      > On the kids not shagging:

      I wouldn’t mix up asexuality and “not shagging” (in your elegant formulation).

      Not to go all Too-Much-Information-ish, but I got a very late start, partly through diffidence, but mostly because my economic situation was such as to — or so I felt! — make a serious relationship impossible. Of course, I was young….

  5. Etrigan

    I once traveled to Cinque Terre overnight with a small group after my semester ended to see the architecture and a hillside mausoleum…the costs of hoteling and hostelry were so far beyond us that we ended up sleeping in a lemon orchard above the city. Waking up there early in the morning to the smell of citrus and sea air is one of my favorite memories. I hope the foundation is on the level.

    1. Miami Mitch

      Funny! I traveled there in 2004 with a young woman and we found our pensione was canceled out from under us when we arrived. We ended up sleeping for two nights on one of the terraces they mentioned, making love and drinking a bottle of homemade wine.

    2. Roger

      When I visited Cinque Terre I could imagine waking up to the sound and smell of the sea, wandering down for some coffee and pastry and idly constructing my next novel. Such are dreams!

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I once traveled to Cinque Terre overnight

      I am amazed, though perhaps at this point I should not be, that I give a link to Cinque Terre and three commenters have visited it!

  6. petal

    Just want to say happy 90th birthday to William Shatner today. He seems to have the live long thing down so far, and the prospering, too.

    1. Adam Eran

      …and for the Deep Space 9 trekkies, you can anticipate the series “Ceeping up with the Cardassians”…

      ok, ok, I’ve written worse…

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        It was old footage, but Shatner made an appearance in Deep Space Nine.

        Tribbles! For those who have never had the fortune to see this episode, its bonkers. For those who have seen it and might now or have already seen it and do not know, I would recommend looking up the actress who plays Jadzia’s relatively recent spouse after watching the episode. Only after watching.

        I thought Deep Space Nine fans were called “Niners”.

    2. Yves Smith

      OMG he is so willing to lay the corn pone on super thick! And he gets away with it!

      Two of his best moments:

      And this. Who else could be so credibly excited about fried turkey?

  7. Another Scott

    CP-KC Southern’s not the only merger in railroads. CSX is trying to acquire a regional railroad, Pan Am, which is the legacy of Boston & Maine, which would give it a monopoly on all rail traffic to and from New England, which was JP Morgan’s dream 100 years ago. This all comes at a time when the railroads have implemented “precision railroading,” which just seems like an excuse to cut maintenance, capex, and workers to increase stock prices and executive compensation.

    1. upstater

      I think the Surface Transportation Board possibly will not approve the CSX purchase of PanAm or the CP-KCS merger.

      CSX was in the process of selling the Syracuse to Montreal route to Canadian National, but was forbidding interchange with 2 shortlines in Syracuse. The STB was pushing back on this obviously noncompetitive arrangement. Not sure the sale will go through. CSX-PanAm basically leaves a single railroad in New England.

      Every single merger since the 1980s have resulted in huge service quality meltdowns lasting months or even years. Further, there is massive shedding of carload customers and extortionate rates under “precision scheduled railroading”.

      I guess we’ll see whether Biden takes antitrust seriously. Every president between Reagan and Obama greenlighted rail consolidation and monopolistic rates.

  8. Dr. John Carpenter

    Re: Poor Masking. I don’t know how it is in other’s areas but on the rare occasions I’ve been out and about, the mask under the nose look is rather common, even at this point in the pandemic. Heck, if this weekend’s errands were any indication, the people have declared the mask mandate over, even though the state hasn’t (and they just lowered the vax age to 40+).

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      I had the same experience out on a walk yesterday. People approaching me were engaging in mask theatre, pulling their masks up as we got close as if they had not left a “plume” of exhalation behind them that I was heading right into.

      And just now I noticed over at the Guardian they are featuring Walensky “pleading with Americans to remain vigilant” since relaxing restrictions could cause an avoidable surge. And this is the lady that just reduced 6 ft apart to 3 ft apart in schools?

      This is straight up crazy-making. Why would anyone pay attention to these people? Do as I say, not as I do…

    2. Riverboat Grambler

      Very prevalent look in my bodega, usually from people with glasses on. I know it’s because full-faced coverage often fogs up people’s glasses, which is understandable, but come on people, there’s a lot of search results you can find for fixing that problem. It’s been a year. If your nose is sticking out you might as we not be wearing it. To be fair, I ask these people “would you mind doing up your mask for me?” and nobody has given me crap.

      1. RMO

        We just tried out the Zeiss anti-fog kit here. It’s worked really well so far. Only done one treatment so I don;t know how long it lasts before you have to clean the glasses and reapply and polish again. I only found it recently when I was out to buy some lens cleaning stuff for my camera and binoculars and I figured it was worth a try.

  9. fresno dan

    “‘Keeping Up With the Kardashians’ is ending, but the family’s influence on body image isn’t” [NBC].
    • I’m so glad I have deliberately and successfully known as little as possible about the Kardashians.
    I have never seen an episode of the Kardashians. I guess I’ve missed my opportunity, but I do admit to some curiosity about what the show was actually about – I always assumed it was about them shopping and than squabbling about what they bought.

    1. Geo

      I was in a relationship with a woman who was a reality show fanatic. Never watched Kardashians but lots of similar stuff. Watching these shows was profoundly depressing:
      1. The lifestyles portrayed were so luxuriously foreign to the lifestyles of most people that it was startling, and yet the “cast” portrayed the emotional maturity of toddlers. It all perpetuates the idea that “success” comes from being an entitled, selfish, and hostile person with no regard for anyone else.
      2. As an artist, to know that this garbage is popular entertainment, that this is what people want to watch, is dispiriting to say the least. I image it’s the feeling a struggling family restaurant owner who takes pride in offering delicious meals must feel when seeing a line of cars at a fast food drive-thru. To know people prefer trash over substance can make one feel like their efforts to create thoughtful art is meaningless.

      So, my next film will be called “Fights, Money & Babes” and will feature an all “social media influencer” cast that spend the movie arguing about who said who was “a loser” interrupted occasionally with gun fights and superhero punching battles. And the final scene will be all the survivors standing in their posh mansion throwing money at the camera and laughing at the audience for being poor.

      It think it has franchise potential!

      Do I sound bitter? I guess I’m a little bitter. :)

      1. wuzzy

        Not to mention musicians. Live music is now called “Recorded Live”.

        As my guitar player says:

        A musician is someone who puts $5,000 worth of gear into a $400 car to go to a $50 gig.

      2. Michaelmas

        Geo: As an artist, to know that this garbage … is what people want to watch

        True only for certain limited values of ‘people.’

        It would be a boring world if we were all the same.

    2. CanCyn

      I have never the seen the show either. They came to my attention a few years back when I noticed that everyone was talking with slightly gravelly voices with their sentences sort of trailing off. Upon investigation, it turns out that this is the way the Kardashians talk. To this day it makes me crazy. Started this note without looking for an example. Will find one and reply here. I still have no idea why they became a thing. So weird to me to this day.

  10. aleph_0

    I’ve been trying to keep up with info about potential covid vaccine side effects as my opportunity to get vaccinated starts to inch closer. Has anyone heard about or seen any for the Johnson and Johnson vaccine now that it’s been out for a bit (aside from the clinical trial data)?

    1. CallMeTeach

      I had the J and J just over a week ago. It took 2 days before there were side affects, which is standard. I was a little achy and tired. The vaccination site grew itchy and had the mosquito bite lump of the others, but that was it. I was surprised that the shot itself hurt, but it didn’t last more than a few minutes.

  11. Geo

    “‘For me, I actually foresee that we will be living in an augmented reality lifestyle within a very short period,’ Kim said, predicting it could happen in ‘a couple years.’”

    Much easier than living in reality I guess.

    “ He wrote on a piece of paper with his pencil.
    Psychosis: out of touch with reality.
    Since then, I have been trying to find out what reality is, so that I can touch it.”
    – Jeanette Winterson

    1. RMO

      Five hundred grand (and god knows how much CO2 pumped out since it’s NFT) for a digital “Mars House.” The amount of real things that could be bought or done for that kind of money and resource use are pretty substantial.

  12. fresno dan

    Real Estate Note
    I have been thinking about buying another house (and selling my present house). So I look at real estate.com several times a day. And just in about the last week, houses moved in a day or two, now it seems most are still listed after 7 days. It seems even a very small increase in mortgage rates can have a profound affect on how fast houses move…

    1. Arizona Slim

      I am noticing similar things in Tucson. Methinks that we are running out of California refugees who are seeking their WFH place in Arizona.

  13. Mark Gisleson

    “The Magicians Library” is classic Cult of the Dead Tree book fetishism. The thrill of finding something new or something you’ve been looking for half your life is easily replicated on pirate sites by simply checking in once a day to see if any new books have been added (or god forbid by entering the name of the book in the search field to see if it’s already there). And not just books you’ve been seeking or didn’t realize you needed, but books in a format that allows you to resize the print, change the fonts and/or play with the line spacing — whatever you need to do to make the book more readable/accessible to your eyes and reading habits.

    Of course you can’t caress a digital book and hold it to your breast, fuss over it or be dismayed to find a tiny tear in the dust jacket. The only thing you can do with a digital book is read it which, apparently, is less than half the fun for book hoarders (whose true joy in finding a book out in the wild is to “collect” it and remove it from general circulation or, if it’s really rare, bag it and forbid any of their friends from touching it).

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      The internet gives you access to all kinds of books. Advantage you.

      When the Carrington 2.0 Event takes place and there is no more internet or computers or anything digital, the advantage will be to the physical owners and/or accessors of physical books.

      1. Miami Mitch

        My daughter bought me a Kobo ebook reader and she emails me books all the time that I can pop right into it. But to me there’s a calmness about reading a book with actual pages. So I find myself often going to the thrift store to see if there’s anything of interest. I do miss bookstores.

        1. wuzzy

          With e-books and computers it is almost impossible to jam a thumb or finger between pages as a temporary bookmark.

          1. Basil Pesto

            with e-books there’s no need for a temporary bookmark. Your current place is stored in RAM or uploaded to le cloud and you’d have to be trying very hard to lose it.

            I read mostly physical books, and the thumb bookmark when I do it is done out of expediency, not because of ~the subtle tactile joys of paper handling~

    2. Katiebird

      I like paper books. But since getting cataract surgery, I can’t read normal sized fonts without reading glasses. And I kind of hate wearing glasses to read. So an eBook’s ability to adjust the font size has totally won me over. Plus the ability of having pretty much my entire library at hand is pretty great. I do buy paper copies of books by my favorite authors in case the world collapses and I can’t recharge my Kindle.

      1. Baldanders

        I have crystalized protein clusters dead-center in both eyes, severe astigmatism, and 20/200 vision. Thank god for screen reading.

        But why aren’t white characters on a black background standard? So much easier to read than the stupid attempt to mimic paper…….

        1. The Rev Kev

          Agreed. I use a notepad program for taking notes on and I altered it so that instead of the normal black text on a white background, it is set to soft blue text on a black background. Much easier on the eyes that.

          1. Mark Gislesonm

            I’ll skip the eye history and will just say that during daylight hours I use black type on a white screen, twilight/early evening black type on a mustard yellow screen, and then I go to off-yellow/tan on a brownish-red screen (sometimes green instead of red with the important thing being the color contrast). I’ll also go from serif to sans-serif when I reverse the screen to lighter type.

            I will also confess that in my dead tree reading days I frequently harbored unkind thoughts about publishers addicted to Times New Roman, possibly the worst font this side of any font “tweaked” by Microsoft for proprietary reasons.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              > frequently harbored unkind thoughts about publishers addicted to Times New Roman

              Agreed. There are few things more beautiful than a really beautiful book, and it is not possible to make a beautiful book with TNR. It was not designed for that.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The only thing you can do with a digital book

      I find digital books both harder and less pleasurable to read than paper ones, and I virtually live on an iPad. I tend not to finish digital books.

      1. Mark Gisleson

        You’ll love (and hate) BookFusion but installed on your iPad it gives you remarkable control over how your books display on the screen.

        Their gimmick is forcing you to use their cloud for book storage but the end-around is to put the books into iTunes then use filesharing to install them on BookFusion (for absolute privacy I keep my iPad in airplane mode which would probably be inconvenient for you). Not a huge choice of fonts but better type size control than Apple’s Books and total control of background and type color as well as line spacing options.

        For the life of me I don’t know why ebook readers don’t all give the reader exact control over type size.

  14. Alex Morfesis

    Gorsuch…slate…columbialawreview…Originalist fabrication and third world judicial nonsense in America…selective creatEVILness from failed lawyers crawling their way up the food chain…they are the vanguard who imagine roe v (the guy who knew too much about nov 22nd) should be thrown out but forget the concept of the quickening and those historical founding father acts and mindsets… banana republic tin pot dictator death spiralism….a dozen fools in black robes…Franklin is spinning at warp speed in Philly…food for worms indeed….

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      another Borkean Fad that self-serves the Rumpy Right, since they can’t win fair and square.
      in the living room on the other side of that there wall, it’s been something called “march madness”…wife and youngest growling and howling and comparing their spderweb paper…and “Oral roberts” has been uttered more in the last 3 days in this house than at any other time, ever.
      Youngest comes in and asks who the hell “Oral” was…snide fellatio reference included.
      So i hold forth about evangelical universities and their “law schools” that have been quietly manufacturing crazy zealot lawyers for 60 years and seeding them throughout the legal world…and that now the Scotus itself is lousy with those nutters, with their weird theories(stated as obvious fact, you librul loonz) and zealot gleams in their eyes….and behind those gleamy eyes are the barely held back visions of Noahide Legal niceties and putting wimmens back in their place, along with brown people, and burning the queers and the godless…all because a guy named “Oral” heard a voice in his head telling him to found a college so Bizarro Jesus could have his very own law school.
      a slow motion judiciary coup, beginning with Lochner, of course, but coming roaring back with Reagans’ appointments.
      It was more than Youngest had wanted, and he scurried off to pore over the spiderweb papers with Momma, and yell at men running with balls on TV.

      1. Patrick

        Reporting from Tulsa OK: Oral Roberts University’s Coburn Law School (named after the father of former Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn who apparently made money selling eyewear) closed in 1986 when its 23 students transferred to Regent Law (VA) ( where I am confident they continue to do god’s work as described so poetically above). When Oral went to his maker a rich man (having made a fortune marketing the magical “seed faith ministry”: I have a special relationship with god; donate and I can arrange a miracle for you) his lackluster son seemed to have milked daddy’s u dry and near bankruptcy until rescued by the hobbylobbymardelbible magnate (little Richard had to resign). But his daddy Oral according to legend worked miracles with one known exception: I was 14 and like every weekday that summer would most likely be found scraping a little white ball around the golf course at Southern Hills Country Club. Mostly alone – the course usually empty of golfers. So one twilight I’m out there just finishing the first hole and I see a twosome in a cart on the first tee. I tee off the second hole and walk after my errant tee shots (yes, mulligans were my specialty) when I see my “in a hurry twosome” fast approaching the second tee. As taught, I stepped aside and waved them to “play through”. Now it turns out to be Oral and his son Richard. Oral invites me to join them. “No thank you. I’m afoot and you are in a cart”. To no avail he asks again. “No thank you. I’m just practicing”. Oral wouldn’t take no for an answer; seems he just didn’t want to lose this argument. But finally he relents and off they went.
        In the car ride home I told mom about my strange encounter with the famous televangelist. “And mom, he kept looking at me with these really weird eyes”. Without skipping a beat mom replied “Pat, he’s practicing for Sunday”.

        I ran into him on the golf course again about four years later. Again by myself I had hit a half dozen or so ninth hole tee shots until I finally got one in the fairway. I was fetching my errant shots when I hear this loud, angry voice. “Hey is that your ball?” (I was picking up one of my strays in the woods that separated the ninth hole and the eighteenth hole that Oral was playing). He was in a heat looking for his lost ball. “Yessir” I replied. “Well didn’t you just pick up a ball over there?” “Yessir. I hit a couple of tee shots”. Oral started cussing me like a sailor. Words I’d never heard before. “You little sob. Don’t you know your only allowed one goddamn tee shot? What’s your (sailor talk) name? I’m reporting you for practicing on the (ship ahoy!) course”.
        I didn’t know then about gentlemen’s wagers on the golf course and ‘automatic presses’ on the last hole. Hell, for all I knew gambling was a sin. But one thing I did know for certain: the only look in his eyes this time was “damn your soul you little (more sailor jargon).
        I was learning about the world.

      2. The Rev Kev

        There has been an organized effort going back several decades to alter the legal infrastructure so that it is full of corporate-friendly judges and the present Supreme Court is an example of how successful they have been doing this. They have their own educational institutes, recruitment, courses and the whole nine yards. You see the results in the decisions being made against smaller people by having judgements going against them in law courts to do with union activity, voter registration, etc. And unfortunately more than a few of those judges bring religious baggage with them forgetting about the whole separation of church and state thing.

    2. Wotan

      Not sure what you said means, but the fact is that the federal and state bureaucrats are employees of governments whose purse is controlled by their legislatures, and depend upon them for wage increases. So while the bureaucrats have delegated power to make precise what the legislature failed to do when delegating the power, the bureaucrats are sensitive to making the bosses happy, and in doing so use their imprecise delegated power to their bosses advantage. For example, while sitting in a US Senator’s office years ago, we were interrupted by a call from a ‘donor’ who asked why his application pending before a government agency was not approved after languishing in the agency for months. The Senator told the caller that he would ‘look into it,’ and after hanging up called his administrative assistant in to his office and told him to call the head of the agency and tell him to come over to his office right away. I learned later the agency approved the application that very afternoon. The fact is the loosely-defined delegation of power gives the legislators the power to bully the bureaucrats into making precise the power delegated with the advantage if anything goes wrong, the bureaucrat not the legislator takes the blame. I believe it is hard to imagine the Framers of the Constitution anticipating unelected officials would be so empowered and bullied.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      If the Supreme Court finds a way to rule Congressional “delegation” of something to any “agency” under a “particular law” to be unconstitutional, the Corporate Fascist Overclass and its IdeodPol supporters will bring case after case against law after law and agency after agency.

      Eventually Congress will have to either name 60,000 chemicals by name in a “no-air-pollution” law and legislate that they will be Zero Toleranced, or Congress will have to throw up its hands and admit the Constitution is a Suicide Pact and we all live in a Law-Free Total-Permission-To-Pollute zone.

      At which point, the only check and balance against runaway pollution will be quasi-military militia raids against offending factories and other sources to destroy them so they don’t pollute . . . . and assassination contracts let by polluted communities against the business polluters polluting them.

  15. cocomaan

    “Trump adviser says former president will return to social media within months” [The Hill]. “Former Trump administration senior adviser Jason Miller said Sunday that the former president plans to return to social media in the coming months with his “own platform.’” • If your business depends on a platform…

    Definitely do understand what you mean here, Lambert, but on the other hand, there’s a huge market share of people who are afraid to post opinions counter to what the Twitterati want to see. Hundreds of thousands of people, definitely, possibly millions.

    If Trump plays this right and launches an alternative to other social media outlets, it could make him richer and more powerful than any real estate deal he ever did.

    1. John Anthony La Pietra

      If you own the platform, maybe your business isn’t quite as dependent on the platform. (Or maybe it’s still dependent after all — on tech support?)

    2. Lambert Strether Post author


      “If your business depends on a platform, you don’t have a business.” As many people who suddenly had no income when Google changed the algo, or YouTube demonetized them, or Facebook banned them, have discovered.

      Of course, that apothegm doesn’t include the case where you own your own platform.

  16. drumlin woodchuckles

    So, Tucker Carlson lives ” off the Gulf Coast” ?

    Pray he spends millions of dollars on his property. Pray his property is within reach of the rising sea whose rising he denies, caused by the manmade global warming whose existence he derides as a liberal hoax.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        For those who don’t remember or weren’t around:

        “Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott’s house — he’s lost his entire house — there’s going to be a fantastic house. And I’m looking forward to sitting on the porch.” -George W. Bush, he who gaveth a mint to Blessed Michelle

        Gosh, those pre-Trump Republicans were men of honor and integrity.

  17. Mme Generalist

    “‘I was sick to my stomach’: George W. Bush denounces the Capitol riot in a new interview.” [New York Times]. • But torture? Hundreds of thousands of dead civilians? No problemo!

    Hey, Lambert, it’s problema. Cheers!

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > ‘Problemo’ if one is speaking Spanglish.

        I was speaking Spanglish.

        Thanks for the information, but I was channeling Bush, so isn’t Spanglish more appropriate?

    1. RMO

      Considering one of the reasons the Supreme Court gave for installing him in the White House to begin with was the possibility of civil unrest if they had decided to you know, count the freaking votes to find out who really won, that takes a lot of gall from Bush. Not that I should be surprised by that. Or surprised by the press not bringing up any unpleasant facts about his reign. He just slept on the job allowing the mass murder of a few thousand citizens, tortured people… to death, shredded the Constitution, and committed the “supreme war crime” so naturally he’s fully accepted in polite society.

  18. Expat2Uruguay

    Interesting story out of Chile, where a nursing home for the elderly reported 51 out of 52 residents tested positive for Coronavirus a few weeks after having received Sinovac vaccine. But none of them died, in fact they’re doing very well. Supporting the theory that sinovac doesn’t stop the spread of covid-19, instead they improve the health consequences of infection.


    1. ambrit

      Now that is interesting. I’m wondering if Sinovac has prophylactic value for defeating or alleviating ‘Long Covid.’
      We’re just at the beginning of this mass Terran human population wide experiment in epidemiology.

  19. flora

    an aside:
    I’ve watched a few Catherine Austin-Fitts videos claiming the international central bankers want ‘the end of currency’, and then thought to myself, “Huh, interesting but seems very unlikely. Seems a bit ‘out there’, as they say.”

    Then in today’s NYTimes in the Business section as a subheading I read this:

    “Jerome Powell says the Fed won’t issue a digital currency without congressional approval.”

    (photo caption)
    Jerome H. Powell in 2020. On Monday, he said cryptocurrency was “more a speculative asset, that’s essentially a substitute for gold, rather than for the dollar.”Credit…Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

    (article text)
    Jerome H. Powell, the chair of the Federal Reserve, said the Fed’s research into central bank-issued digital currencies is early and exploratory — and that U.S. officials would only consider issuing a digital dollar if they believed there was a clear use and if the idea had widespread public and political buy-in.


    So, they’re studying the idea? Why? Maybe the idea of digital-only currency (the end of cash) isn’t as far ‘out there’ as I’ve thought. There’s been a big push to do away with physical currency for some time. (See Modi’s cashless experiment in India, for example.) Guess I’ll be buying all my local daily purchases with cash. The vendors are happy to take cash. No percentage of price is shaved off by the cc companies on the transaction. / ;)

  20. km

    “Trump adviser says former president will return to social media within months”

    Besides network effects (readers go where there are posts to read; posters post where there are readers to read the posts), setting up an alternative social media network will not only require a lot of capital; it will also require more planning and follow-through than we have seen from Trump in a long while.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Wasn’t he always trying for his own tv station back in 2016? Its possible he has the plans, and as its been noted, he will be pimped 24/7 by MSNBC. The people who gave money to the Lincoln Project will probably buy subscriptions so they can be outraged by Trump’s tweets before anyone else.

        1. Baldanders

          My guess is it will happen if he can find other folks who want to use is name, much like all the property he doesn’t own.

          Otherwise, vaporware.

    2. fajensen

      Donald Trump will monetize his Brand at every opportunity. He would have “people” doing most of the work and he will be “The Star” of the show. People will pay good money for the “World Wide Wrestling Experience”, I think people will be willing to pay for this also.

      “Putin” for sure would, just to stir the shit a bit.

  21. Otis B Driftwood

    “Nev. Democratic Party in upheaval after progressive takeover…”

    And people wonder why so many progressives have given up on reforming the Democratic Party.

  22. Riverboat Grambler

    I’m 32 and realized I am asexual a few months back. I’ve always been romantically interested in women, I desire a relationship and I’m a certified cuddle monster but the concept of penetrative sex just does nothing for me, never has even as a teen, and this has always short-circuited my relationships in the past. I have been vaguely aware of the term asexual for years now, but I always assumed it meant that a person has zero desire for sexual activity of any kind or even romantic interest, which seemed to disqualify me.

    In December I started seeing someone, I did my usual hemming and hawing about how I take things really slow when it came sex, and she suggested I might be asexual. I said that can’t be because I masturbate from time to time. She said that doesn’t matter, that it’s a spectrum. This was news to me. I did some digging and found out that asexuality is understood as a spectrum of people who exhibit very little to zero interest in sex. Some people only develop sexual interest after developing a committed bond over time, some people have zero interest in sex but still want romance, some people want neither, some people have a sex drive but not for “normal” sex, and so on. I found a spot on the spectrum that described me perfectly.

    I read a number of accounts of people describing how they realized they were asexual, and in every story one word jumped out: “broken”. Every single person described themselves as feeling broken somehow, which is the exact word I had always used to describe myself. I was lonely, but even when someone showed interest in me, it felt like a countdown to the inevitable reveal of my own sexual inadequacy. Suddenly I find out that I’m not alone, that there is a community of people that have lived a similar experience, and that it’s okay to be that way. It felt really good.

    I still sometimes grapple with the idea that I’m just a garden-variety impotent straight guy. But it’s not that I desperately want to have sex, but I can’t; I simply have no interest in it. It’s something I wish I just didn’t have to deal with. I spent all of my 20s trying to “fix” myself and I’m tired of it.

    I’m still with the woman who helped me realize that I’m asexual (can’t quite bring myself to call myself “ace,” seems corny) and she is not asexual, and yes, we are still figuring out how to work with that. I even tried breaking up with her shortly after I realized I was asexual because I thought it could never work and she would grow to resent me, but she didn’t give up and managed to rope me back in again. It’s important for me to be able to fulfill her needs, and we are working on it. We still do stuff, and I enjoy it. I’ve never had a relationship like this, where I don’t have to constantly worry about sex like that. It’s what I’ve always wanted.

    All I know is, even if we do break up at some point, and I’m single again with the unenviable task of finding another asexual person to date (estimated 1 percent of the population), I will feel infinitely better and more secure with myself now that I know I’m not broken. That’s a big deal for me.

    And I’m not even from Brooklyn.

    1. Baldanders

      Thanks for the very intimate and informative post!

      I find the tendency of the current idpol towards infinitely subdividing sexual identities bit irritating to no end, but I am glad that we can acknowledge that some folks aren’t as consumed by the need to have sex as most us are, and that is OK.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > infinitely subdividing sexual identities bit irritating to no end

        “Identity” = subdivision + commodification (Brooklyn being a key site for such manufacturing).

        It’s the drive to subdivide, the drive to commodify, that bugs me. And after the division and commodification, we end up with an approach to sex that’s contractual and litigious, overseen by a Human Resources-like culture of compliance, policing, and snitching.

        I think Sappho had the right of it:

        With his venom
        and bittersweet

        that loosener
        of limbs, Love

        strikes me down

        Sexual, asexual, as far as what we desire, we do not choose, and have little insight (possibly because it is not adaptive to have insight about how the species is reproduced, or one’s role in that collective process).

        Behavior is something we do choose, but I’m very dubious that a Human Resources Department-like approach is the way forward. Of course, that’s how we do things in America, because if you can’t make a three-ring binder for it, it doesn’t exist.

        1. Sara K.

          As someone who has been involved with asexual communities for about a decade, I find the idea that it originated specifically in Brooklyn strange. The ‘Brooklyn’ thing is more about where people have easier access to Serious Media Sources than where asexual identities emerged. Please don’t confuse where asexuality started getting traction among Serious Media Sources with where the communities actually started.

          It’s honestly weird for me now that there are now books published by major publishers about asexuality: ten years ago, we were practically ignored by major media, and only got an occasional mention as ‘odd news.’ Also, we were ignored by academia for a long time, it’s only in the past few years that academic research about asexuality which wasn’t laughably off-base has come out, and even today I think someone who actually talks to a bunch of asexuals has a better understanding than most of the academic researchers who have commented on it in papers. (Indeed, seeing how offbase some of the academic research on asexuality is has made me wonder what else academia is misinterpreting).

          Also, so far, nobody has found any profitable way to commodify asexuality (unless you count someone like T.J. Klune becoming a bestselling novelist, though his asexual novels are not his bestselling works). Quite the opposite; one of the problems of asexual community organization is that there are few options for funding, so we are very reliant on unpaid volunteers (I can confirm that I have never been paid a cent for anything I’ve done on behalf of the asexual community).

    2. Alternate Delegate

      Thank you, that was very informative. I didn’t realize this was as common as 1% of the population, but now that you describe it that seems perfectly reasonable. And I’m glad to hear you feel you’re okay with it. Best wishes!

    3. Sara K.

      As a fellow asexual (by coincidence, I am also 32), I salute you. I’m glad that someone told you about the term ‘asexual’ and that it helped you.

    4. Amfortas the hippie

      γνῶθι σεαυτόν
      it’s the first of the Delphic Maxims for a reason.
      Good on you for learning what makes you tick…especially when it seems that the entire world is geared to deny the possibility.
      I’m generally against the rush to categorise human sexuality into simple binaries…we’re as lush and diverse as a rainforest…and “it takes all kinds”.
      my wife tends towards asexual, especially since cancer and the removal of so many ladybits…but much of that i chalk up to the Catholic Church.
      I, on the other hand, may as well have goat legs and curling horns.
      when she could still drink, vodka was a temporary hack, and we make do…because sex isn’t love and love isn’t sex…at least not 1:1.
      patience and compassion and the willingness to accommodate anothers’ needs and desires, and much can be overcome.
      Good luck, sincerely, in your relationship.

  23. Geoffrey Dewan

    “I actually foresee that we will be living in an augmented reality lifestyle within a very short period,’ Kim said, predicting it could happen in ‘a couple years.’”

    And she’ll be right there to sell you the blue tarp to put over it..

  24. skippy

    Interesting to see no mention of the currant Australian LNP fiasco, which is being overshadowed* by the biblical deluge, if Pat Roberson was only here to guide us …

      1. rowlf

        Guilty. I actually re-wrote the whole sketch for the UAL situation and passed it around at work but then realized if I posted it here some of the office gwendolyns might find it in a search and blow my cover.

    1. ambrit

      Cuba would actually be several states. Perhaps incorporated with the same caveat that Texas has; that it can subdivide if it wanted to.
      Do remember that Cuba was a slave state alongside the Confederacy. Slavery survived legally in Cuba until 1880.
      Read: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery_in_Cuba
      Thus, a successful Confederacy would have been much more likely to have “filibustered” Cuba than anyone else.
      While we’re at it, America had a ‘window of opportunity’ to have absorbed Cuba just after the Spanish-American War. For some strange reason, it did not acquire Cuba, but did claim suzerainty over the Philippines. Go figure.

        1. ambrit

          The problem with that idea is that it assumes that the Government would willingly cede power to a rival organization. As many cynics will tell you, there is scant difference between the American Government and the American Mafia. The real co-conspirators of the Mafia are the “Intelligence Agencies,” a de facto parallel institution with the formal Government.
          One primary lesson that almost no one in a position of influence in our country learns from the history of Cuba is that kleptocracies eventually are supplanted. The period of changeover of control can swing either way. You can get either a Right wing or Left wing government from a “revolutionary” change in rule. Either way, a lot of the previous ruling elites are executed or exiled.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Cuba be incorporated into the United States like DC and Puerto Rico as ‘a sign of our vigor’-

      Heck, Venezuela. The new (or the old) ruling elites could run the show from Miami!

  25. drumlin woodchuckles

    Somebody at a bitcoin site offers what they think is a good gotcha statement. Is it?

    “It’s a bit odd being told how energy inefficient bitcoin is, whilst watching tv and seeing several gigantic diesel machines churn up thousands of tonnes of earth in Alaska to produce tiny flecks of gold.”

    1. ambrit

      I don’t think so. At the end of the gold mining process, one is left with an actual, physical item. All that energy produces a tangible result. With bitcoin, what have we? A theory of value that is easily falsifiable. Just remove the energy that maintains the computing network that “houses” it. How do we remove the ‘energy’ from a piece of gold? A new problem for the alchemists to ponder. Turn gold into lead. (I guess that it could be done in the heart of a reactor, but the results could well be lethal to be near.)

    2. Basil Pesto

      Not really, it’s a fairly tepid ‘whatabouttery’ and not even an especially good one, as gold has material uses, and isn’t an abstraction.

      1. RMO

        If you had to mine the gold from the bowels of the Earth, refine it and cast it into coins/bars every single time it changed hands or you did a transaction with it then they might start getting closer to having a point.

        It also ignores the point that fiat currency has immensely lower costs to produce and use than Bitcoin and fiat currency is what the crypto-bros are supposedly trying to replace with Bitcoin.

  26. Lambert Strether Post author

    Thanks to the commentariat for the more-or-less polite and more-or-less informed discussion about sex. I know this is a “Just So” story, but I think it’s almost impossible to be smart and self-reflective about sex, because being so would be maladaptive; Darwin doesn’t want us thinking about it; Darwin wanted us doing it. (One of the more difficult aspects of Covid is that we have to think about breathing, also an autonomous process. And our own social mores + financialization + collapse don’t make things any easier.) But we did our best!

    And now, Mini Dry Erase Whiteboards for everybody!

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