2:00PM Water Cooler 3/3/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

San Diego, California. Quite the tour de force!


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

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

Vaccination by region:

Oof. The South has dropped from 550,000 two weeks ago to 300,000 today. That’s quite a drop.

Case count by United States region:

A little uptick in the South, with the Northeast flattening.

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

Texas uptick, with an assist from New York.

Test positivity:

Decline is flattening across the board. Weather? Variants? Regional averages approach 3%, which is what we want to see.


Hospitalization is discretionary; they may also be reducing their admissions rate — relative to cases we cannot see in this data! — to preserve future capacity; or because hospitals have figured out how to send people home.

Case fatality rate (plus deaths):

That rising fatality rate in the West (red) is what worries me. Now it’s at it’s highest in over a year. At least it seems to have flattened in the last couple of days. It’s not going vertical, which is what I feared. Of course, the uptick in deaths isn’t good news either.


“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

“Police uncover ‘possible plot’ by militia to breach Capitol” [Associated Press]. “The threat appears to be connected to a far-right conspiracy theory, mainly promoted by supporters of QAnon, that Trump will rise again to power on March 4. That was the original presidential inauguration day until 1933, when it was moved to Jan. 20… The [Capitol Police] statement said the agency was ‘taking the intelligence seriously’ but provided no other specific details on the threat.”

Biden Administration

“Biden Backs Tighter Limits on Checks to Speed Relief Bill” [Bloomberg]. “Individuals earning over $80,000 now won’t qualify for the direct payments, compared with a $100,000 cap in the previously drafted legislation, the aide said on condition of anonymity. The ceiling for couples will now be $160,000 against $200,000 before. Checks start at $1,400 before they begin phasing out.” • As I understand it, the income limits will be based on 2019 tax returns, because those are the most recent. There must be a number of people who would not pass this means test in 2019, but would pass it now. One more reason for universal benefits. Just write checks, then do clawbacks at tax times.

“Democrats Again Limit Who Will Receive A Stimulus Check” [HuffPo]. “The proposed change would deny checks to higher earners who would have received only partial checks under the previous version of the legislation, which cut off payments to individuals earning more than $100,000 and couples above $200,000…. [T]he lower income limit means that some people who received partial payments from the December bill would not receive partial payments from the next one.” • Good job. Democrats certainly giving voters something to remember them by!


“‘Lucky’: Adviser described COVID-19 as ‘best thing that ever happened to’ Biden” [The Hill]. “Biden’s campaign found the politics of the pandemic advantageous, given that Biden could be critical of Trump but would not actually have to make decisions himself on how to handle the coronavirus, according to Lucky: How Joe Biden Barely Won the Presidency, by The Hill’s Amie Parnes and NBC News’s Jonathan Allen.”

Democrats en deshabille

“Democrats Need an 11th Commandment” [Rahm Emmanuel (!), Wall Street Journal]. “Take a split-screen snapshot of America’s two political parties. Congressional Republicans, having just witnessed President Trump literally sic a mob on them, have remained overwhelmingly loyal. Democrats are trying to build support for President Biden’s Covid-relief package by disparaging former President Obama’s efforts to save the economy in 2009. It’s a study in contrasts, and a master class in the relationship between messaging and politics.” • The 11th Commandment was Reagan’s: “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.” This Rahm Emanuel: “Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, has apologised for calling Left-wingers Democrats ‘—-ing retards’.” Come on, man. Is the Wall Street Journal trolling us?

Realignment and Legitimacy

Here’s a helpful image for when you hear the phrase “The Blob””

UPDATE “Interview: Saikat Chakrabarti, creator of the Green New Deal” [Noah Smith, Noahpinion]. Chakrabarti: “[T]he team that worked on the Green New Deal was greatly inspired by the American approach to World War 2. In 1940, as the threat of war loomed, FDR famously delivered his Arsenal of Democracy speech. What’s a little less known is he followed up in a speech to Congress by setting specific production targets for what America needed to produce, which included 185,000 planes, 120,000 tanks, 55,000 anti-aircraft guns, and 18 million tons of merchant shipping. For context, in 1939, America had built 3,000 planes. A lot of experts at the time thought FDR was just doing political theatre and these numbers were completely unrealistic. But of course, America crushed these targets–we built 300,000 planes in five years. So how’d we do it? That’s a long story (and I highly recommend the amazing Destructive Creation if you are curious about it), but it involved mobilizing our economy to hit actual goals. It wasn’t a story of socialism vs. capitalism, but rather a story of all of American society trying, together, to do something ambitious and not being tied to any ideology to do it.” • And the carbon budget for bootstrapping the mobilization?

Stats Watch

At reader request, I added some business stats back in. Please give Econintersect click-throughs; they’re a good, old-school blog that covers more than stats.

Employment Situation: “February 2021 ADP Employment Grew 117,000” [Econintersect]. “ADP reported non-farm private jobs growth of 117,000 which was above expectations. A quote from the ADP authors: The labor market continues to post a sluggish recovery across the board…. Last month’s employment loss was revised upward. It will be interesting to see what the BLS says is jobs growth.

Services: “United States Services PMI” [Trading Economics]. “The IHS Markit US Services PMI was revised higher to 59.8 in February 2021, from a preliminary estimate of 58.9 and compared with 58.3 in the previous month. The latest reading pointed to the strongest expansion in the service sector since July 2014, as new order inflows expanded at the steepest pace since April 2018 despite a decline in new export orders. However, despite further pressure on capacity, service providers registered only a fractional rise in employment. On the price front, cost burdens increased by the most since data collection began in October 2009, while output charge inflation was the second-highest on record.”

Services: “United States ISM Non Manufacturing PMI” [Trading Economics]. “The ISM Services PMI for the US decreased to 55.3 in February of 2021 from 58.7 in January, well below market forecasts of 58.7. The reading pointed to the lowest growth in the services sector since a contraction in May, amid supply constraints and higher prices. A slowdown was seen in supplier deliveries (60.8 vs 57.8), business activity/production (55.5 vs 59.9), new orders (51.9 vs 61.8) and employment (52.7 vs 55.2) while price pressures intensified (71.8 vs 64.2). On the other hand, both export orders (57.6 vs 47) and inventories (58.9 vs 49.2) rebounded. “Respondents are mostly optimistic about business recovery and the economy. Production-capacity constraints, material shortages and challenges in logistics and human resources are impacting the supply chain.” • Hmm. Little bit of a mixed message thing here?

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 54 Neutral (previous close: 61 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 63 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 3 at 12:29pm.

Health Care

I will have a good deal more on health care shortly. There’s a lot to sort through today. –lambert UPDATE All done!

“Estimated transmissibility and impact of SARS-CoV-2 lineage B.1.1.7 in England” [Science]. The Abstract: “A novel SARS-CoV-2 variant, VOC 202012/01 (lineage B.1.1.7), emerged in southeast England in November 2020 and is rapidly spreading toward fixation. Using a variety of statistical and dynamic modelling approaches, we estimate that this variant has a 43–90% (range of 95% credible intervals 38–130%) higher reproduction number than preexisting variants. A fitted two-strain dynamic transmission model shows that VOC 202012/01 will lead to large resurgences of COVID-19 cases. Without stringent control measures, including limited closure of educational institutions and a greatly accelerated vaccine roll-out, COVID-19 hospitalisations and deaths across England in 2021 will exceed those in 2020. Concerningly, VOC 202012/01 has spread globally and exhibits a similar transmission increase (59–74%) in Denmark, Switzerland, and the United States.” • VOC = Variant of Concern.

“‘It’s Like Buying Bruce Springsteen Tickets’: The Hunt to Find a Vaccine Shot” [New York Times]. “The clamor for hard-to-get Covid-19 vaccines has created armies of anxious Americans who have resorted to hunting for leftovers on the fringes of the country’s patchwork vaccination system. They haunt pharmacies at the end of the day in search of an extra, expiring dose. They drive from clinic to clinic hoping that someone was a no-show to their appointment. They cold-call pharmacies like eager telemarketers: Any extras today? Maybe tomorrow?” • No State capacity….

American Academy of Pediatrics disses aerosol transmission (along with the CDC):

The whole thread is worth a read. Horrid presentation by the AAP, lots of good tips for schools.

More on ventilation (i.e., aerosols):

The “backlash” focuses on two incidents: (1) The Sturgis rally, and (2) the White House cluster. Common to both was intense liberal focus on cultural and political enemies (bearded bikers from Flyover; the Trump administration), with a moral panic — like the beach moral panic — driven by images of outdoor activities. Common also to both was that the spread occurred in the indoors components of both events. So the moral panic gets in the way of [pause] the science. This whole thread is worth reading, too; it’s Tufecki in near-Cassandra mode going through the mistakes of the last year, which are many.

“Over 200K sign up for ACA plans during Biden special enrollment period” [The Hill]. “Nearly 30 million people were uninsured in 2019 before the pandemic, according to the Census Bureau.”

“US Catholic bishops urges people NOT to take the Johnson & Johnson vaccine because it ‘uses tissue connected to aborted fetal cells'” [Daily Mail]. “Roman Catholic leaders in St Louis and New Orleans are advising Catholics that the COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson is ‘morally compromised’ because it is produced using a cell line derived from an aborted fetus. The New Orleans archdiocese says the decision to receive a vaccine is one of individual conscience. In its statement late last week, it stopped short of advising Catholics not to take the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but adds that Catholics should choose coronavirus vaccines made by Moderna or Pfizer – if they are available. The Archdiocese of St Louis on Tuesday encouraged Catholics to seek out the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines and avoid the Johnson & Johnson version if possible. Like the New Orleans archdiocese statement, the St Louis statement called the Johnson & Johnson vaccine ‘morally compromised’. However, the St Louis statement stressed that Catholics can get that vaccine ‘in good conscience if no other alternative is available’. • Biden, I believe, is Catholic.

Our Famously Free Press

“NYTimes Peru N-Word, Part One: Introduction” [Donald G. McNeil Jr.] “One last thought: what’s happened to me has been called a “witch hunt.” It isn’t. It’s a series of misunderstandings and blunders. I may be the only living Times reporter who has actually covered a witch hunt — in Zimbabwe in 1997. They inevitably end worse for the accused. I’m at least getting my say.” • The last paragraph.


Interesting datapoint:

First, can any reader answer the question? Second, this illustrates my general intuition that games will increasingly come to play a big role in the zeitgeist, but I’m utterly unequipped to recognize it (and especially to recognize it when games break through into electoral politics). I subscribe to the Kotaku newsletter, but I would bet readers can offer better suggestions.

Zeitgeist Watch

“The problem of CryptoArt” [Studio Joanie Lemercier]. “The CryptoArt market is a new way for artists to distribute digital works to collectors: often digital images and video files. The blockchain technology provides secure ownership, traceability, artist commission on second market sales and a thriving market place, with platforms emerging quickly: Nifty Gateway, SuperRare, MakersPlace.. It’s a vibrant and welcoming community, a place to discuss the works with collectors, and it brings a lot of benefits that the Art market fails to provide. With no travel involved, and a mostly digital distribution, this new model looks like it has the potential to become a sustainable practice for artists. That’s until you understand the magnitude of the environmental impacts of the current blockchain: It is a DISASTER.” • The new acronym from the CryptoArt market is NFT (Non-Fungible Tokens). Commentary:

Guillotine Watch

“The rich vs the very, very rich: the Wentworth golf club rebellion” [Guardian (Basil Pesto)]. “Since the 1980s, Wentworth has been reshaped – just like England itself – by money: first the wealth of the homegrown 1%, which considered itself immune to the turmoil of change, but which then found itself subject to the whims of the globalised capital held by the 0.001%… Chinese conglomerate’s entry into Wentworth Estate was novel, but it wasn’t like Wentworth hadn’t seen money before. Yan Bin is only the latest, and among the very richest, of a long line of well-heeled arrivals. Beginning in the 80s, in particular, the Island attracted people with a high order of wealth – all of whom have found, over the past decade or so, that they, in turn, are being inconveniently supplanted by people with an altogether more stratospheric order of wealth.”

Class Warfare

“Glitch workers sign tech’s first collective bargaining agreement” [The Verge]. “Glitch workers have signed a collective bargaining agreement with the company — a historic milestone for the tech industry. The contract, which was ratified overwhelmingly by union members, will last for 11 months. It’s the first agreement signed by white collar tech workers in the United States, according to a press release from the Communications Workers of America (CWA). The contract went into effect on February 28th…. The agreement does include significant working protections, as well as codifying the benefits that currently exist. Among other measures, the agreement ensures “just cause” protections for Glitch employees — meaning workers can only be fired or disciplined through a specific process.”

“The Biden and Romney Family Plans Go Too Far” [Oren Cass, New York Times]. “While universality may appeal in its simplicity, it violates the principle of reciprocity at the heart of a durable social compact. To strengthen a nation’s commitment to shared expectations and obligations, and to sustain broad-based political support, a program should ask recipients to do their part in supporting themselves. Many think of Social Security payments to retirees as a “universal” program, but it goes only to those who “have earned this benefit by contributing to Social Security with every paycheck,” as Senators Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren and Ron Wyden emphasized in a recent proposal to increase it.” • You will pry means-testing from the cold, dead hands of the political class. Also, Federal taxes don’t fund Federal spending.

“The Woke, No-Trust Society” [Rod Dreher, The American Conservative]. Dreher is Dreher, but he gets letters: “I read your piece on the Donald McNeil incident… I [have[ judged and coached high school policy debate in [major city], as a volunteer, for about 5 years.” • Yay! But: “I’m not going to take that risk for free.” • I smell business model: Woke insurance!

“More Americans are dying ‘in the prime of their lives,’ new report finds” [CNN]. “The [National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine] committee, which included researchers from universities around the country, was convened to help explain why US life expectancy had plateaued, and then declined in recent years.

‘Beginning in 2010, progress in life expectancy stalled in the United States. Then between 2014 and 2017, life expectancy fell for three years in a row,’ Harris said in a news conference on Tuesday. The three-year slide was the largest sustained decline in life expectancy since the 1918 flu pandemic. The committee did not examine data from the past year, but its final report comes after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that overall US life expectancy had dropped a full year in the first half of 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic…. Among the causes of death increasingly striking working-age Americans between 1990 and 2017 are drug overdose, alcohol use and suicides.” • So, deaths of despair (again). Everything’s going according to plan! Here’s the original study.

News of the Wired

Bowie on how the art world kills off proletarian art:

Bowie’s analysis is quite similar to Adolph Reed’s in “The Trouble with Uplift.” Since Basquiat was mentioned, herewith:

On the Dr. Seuss controversy:


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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant:

AM writes: “December 27 – Nearly full moon over Stillhouse Cove, on the Providence River, Pawtuxet Village RI. Stillhouse Cove is where the captain and crew of the Gaspee were brought after the ship was attacked and burned in June 1772, in what is called the first act in the Revolutionary War.”

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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. Alex

    I’m seeing an analogy between our secret police and an apocalyptic death cult that’s announced a date for the end of the world. The day comes and goes without incident, what’s your next move? This is what separates the cult wheat from the cult chaff.

    Also, boy who cried variant.

    1. Wukchumni

      I’m seeing an analogy between our secret police and an apocalyptic death cult that’s announced a date for the end of the world. The day comes and goes without incident, what’s your next move? This is what separates the cult wheat from the cult chaff.

      Jehovah’s Witnesses called for the end of the world-the second coming & all that in 1878, 1881, 1914, 1918 & 1925, but then must have felt they were losing credibility and stopped making predictions undermining their cause.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        One of the oldest known examples of that is in Daniel 12:7, a verse that attempts to answer desperate 2nd century BCE Jews’ questions about how long they would have to endure Seleucid rule until YHWH came to end it all. The first stab was one year. After that passed, it was amended to a year and a half, but the original prediction seems to have been recopied over and over out a fear of leaving out even a jot or tittle as the KJV renders “iota” and “keraia.” The base-level Hebrew of the original (most of Daniel is in Aramaic) doesn’t make much sense at it stands, but defenders of biblical inerrancy have come up with creative solutions over the years.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      From the aspect of the structures needed to allow chattel slavery, I would argue Seuss would have been raised in a world were the kind of systemic racism exists. The books in question do have problematic imagery, and though not done with the goal of degrading a group of people, its part of the world Seuss would be in.

      Will writing about the Moor of Venice is still a story about an immigrant. The races would be different, but Othello can move about without having his worth as a human questioned. The dehumanizing of sub-Saharan Africans necessary to the development of slavery in the Americas wouldn’t have been particularly relevant to an English guy who died in 1616 as Will doesn’t need to justify chattel slavery in his midst. The usual “not one of us” prejudices exist, but they aren’t “hey, lets put them in a zoo” level.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Will writing about the Moor of Venice is still a story about an immigrant. The races would be different, but Othello can move about without having his worth as a human questioned.

        Except by Iago! Critics speak of Iago’s “motiveless malignancy,” but I wonder if Iago’s motive was akin to racism* — before we (and Shakespeare) had the word.

        NOTE * I say “akin to” because Othello was written in 1603 and the British slave trade only began in the 1640s. Nevertheless, Caliban….

  2. zagonostra

    >“‘Lucky’: Adviser described COVID-19 as ‘best thing that ever happened to’ Biden” [The Hill].

    Before the pandemic hit, polls showed a tight race between Trump and Biden, who in March was just becoming the Democratic front-runner.

    I’m not buying what this article is selling. Luck had nothing to do with it. The full force and backing of all establishment organs, print, cable, magazines, security state, Silicon Valley, etc…were clearly behind Biden.

    Let’s forget the night of the long knives and the Iowa “Dark Shadow” skullduggery, to name but two data points, behind Biden even getting the nomination. This article is useful from the perspective of ideopol, that is, trying to spin Biden arriving at the presidency over Trump as a consequence of “Luck”, random chance…not a chance, Hill.

    If it wasn’t CV19, it would have been something else, they dropped the ball in 2016, they certainly weren’t going to let that happen again and let Trump have anther term…whether this turns out to be a net positive for the U.S. and humanity, we’ll see, based on first month with Biden as president I’m not feeling sanquine.

    1. Lemmy Caution

      And I think the other shoe is yet to drop. Namely, that when (and if) COVID-19 diminishes its hold on us all, it will be the worst thing to happen to Biden.

      The excuses for laying low and conducting his presidency via secretive Zoom meetings will be gone, and he will have to face the harsh glare of the lights and the mild questions of the media in person. I can’t wait to see how long he lasts running that gauntlet.

      1. Starry Gordon

        He’ll just start a fairly serious war. No problem. The only question is who to pick on. Iran looks like a tough nut to crack, so maybe Venezuela.

    2. The Rev Kev

      COVID-19 might have been best thing that ever happened to Biden but for 530,000 of his fellow Americans not so much. The obvious conclusion was that it took a world-wide pandemic to get someone like old Joe into the White House.

    3. neo-realist

      Trump shot himself in the foot by with his diminishing and handling of the covid-19 virus and his hateful attitudes toward blacks and anti-police brutality demonstrators.

  3. petal

    Re Seuss: Said to my boyfriend last night that I’d even be happy to get ahold of xeroxed copies stapled together, and was thinking and wondering about how these were still copyright protected after so many decades of being in the public domain, that there should be some way for books that have been out and around this long to be available no matter what, like a big public database where anyone can download and print them out for free(well, paper and ink but whatever). No one should be able to pull them, and essentially erase them. Do we need to develop an underground library system of “naughty” books?

    1. Mark Gisleson

      I just checked one of the better known book piracy sites and a “Dr Seuss” search pulled up 500 responses all of which are working links to malware free ebooks.

      I’m not advocating for piracy of anything, but the day is coming when only pirates will have certain books (but you’ll always be able to legally buy a copy of Mein Kampf or Mao’s Little Red Book).

      1. petal

        Thank you, everyone. Much appreciated!
        Mark, funny you say that- I was standing at the stove cooking dinner last night and thought “I could easily get my hands on Mein Kampf or The Communist Manifesto but I can’t get a family blogging Dr. Seuss book.” What’s next?

        1. Isotope_C14

          Always great to see your posts Petal!

          I don’t know if any of you have bothered to search on the Ytube “Mein Kampf – minecraft” – I know it was staged, but it’s one of the funniest things you can watch.

          On the science side, we don’t seem to be able to get 1.0 ml pipet tips still, and one of my co-workers had the Astra-Zeneca vaccine today, she hasn’t turned into a zombie yet, but she did complain of a headache (second-hand intel).

          tl;dr (type into Ytube search, mein kampf minecraft) and proceed to laugh.

          1. petal

            Hey Isotope_C14! How ya been? Man, I wish I could send you a care package of some 1ml tips! Glad to hear your coworker hopefully has escaped with just a headache.

      2. Alfred

        Yes, indeed, there will be samizdat Seusses, in both digital and hardcopy formats. No doubt about it whatsoever. The legitimate copies in private hands are already heirlooms.

        1. howseth

          I have kept my copy of Scrambled Eggs Super for over 50 years. Even used it as a prop in photos… with a bit of the blue cover – the letters ‘bled Eggs’ showing… Influential book.

      1. flora

        If I donned my foil bonnet I might wonder how well these 6 titles were selling over the past few years; if they were selling below the big-hits Dr. Seuss books I might wonder if this was all publisher kayfab to create a demand and price bonanza for books that were dragging down their sales numbers, and to stop publishing the books? (Especially if they’re contractually obligated to offer all of Dr. Seuss’s books, unless said books can be found in some way objectionable.) No no, that sort of sleight of hand would *never* happen. ;)

        (‘Woke’ works for the owners/profits side, not for the wages/costs side, imo. ;) )

        1. flora

          edit: ‘Woke’ works for the big owners, the monopoly owners, not for the small owners or the wage earners.

    2. Cas

      Check out Project Gutenberg (gutenberg.org). It has thousands of free books on all kinds of topics, fiction and nonfiction, in multiple electronic formats. It is a wonderful site.

      1. caucus99percenter

        Alas, the Project Gutenberg website currently blocks any access from Germany, apparently because of some pending dispute re copyright law.

      2. JBird4049

        True, but I like a real non-digitized, physical, hard copy of a book to be read in my non-digitized hand, thank very bleeping much. And yes, Project Gutenberg does have some nice books, which I have downloaded.

        And really, I just have to roll my eyes very hard over the idea that Dr. Seuss is a crypto racist out to poison the minds of our children

    3. HotFlash

      Lots of sources for free books, here are a few listings. Also places like the Smithsonian and the Boston Public Library have scanned copies ofmany wonderful books that are out of reach for the casual reader, I downloaded a mint copy of The Wizard of Oz , first edition with all the lovely illustrations. I could have bought one for a mere $40k.

      These sites *say* they have free downloadable Dr Seuss books, haven’t checked them out.

      Note: both links go to Swisscows search results.

      1. Temporarily Sane

        Many of the “free books” sites are malware laden scams or data mining outfits that just reupload content they’ve grabbed from Library Genesis.

        LG is the biggest ebook depository on the web and its initial purpose was to make academic journal articles available for free to students in the developing world (it was started by a computer science student in Kazakhstan). The journal article database is still updated regularly and over the years the site has grown to include millions of ebooks in a variety of languages.

        It’s a great place to get out-of-print books, DRM-free versions of ebooks you already own (wink), and, if this book burning thing spreads, to get copies of officially memory holed material.

    4. The Rev Kev

      What if the Chinese start printing knock-off copies of his books and selling them around the world. They might do it just for the giggles of watching videos of FBI agents raiding bookstores and confiscating copies of Dr. Seuss. Can you imagine Washington going before the world and threatening China with sanctions if they don’t stop printing Dr. Seuss?

  4. Howard Beale IV

    If you think those Dr. Seuss books will now become rare items, just try to find a videotape copy of Disney’s “Song Of The South”.

    1. John

      “Song of the South” was one of the first movies I saw as a child.
      Ever see Theodore Giesel’s (Dr. Seuss) political cartoons in the New York newspaper PM? He did them in c.1941-1943. I read the Seuss books to my son 50+ years ago. Don’t remember if the ones mentioned were among them. His world’s were worlds of fantasy; I accept fantasy for what it is.

  5. Hepativore

    So, is the New York Times helping to pave the way for when Biden gets around to picking up where Obama’s Grand Bargain left off?

    Also, we see Biden once again backing away from his $15 minimum wage hike promise and instituting further means testing for a one-time, and grossly inadequate stimulus payment. This is the same one that got inexplicably knocked down from $2,000 to $1,400, I cannot help but think that this is further evidence that the Democratic establishment actually wants to lose the 2022 midterms and 2024 presidential elections.

    I am not sure how electoralism works in a situation such as ours, when one party is perfectly willing to throw the fight as long as it stops the left from getting its way. Unfortunately, I am also of the opinion that starting a viable third party is essentially impossible because of state ballot laws and the fact that the establishment would change the rules at the last moment to defang any up and coming third party, like how the Green Party candidates were retroactively tossed from state ballots

    1. petal

      There’s a scene in Sense & Sensibility(1995) where Mr. John Dashwood(who has just inherited after his father died) and his greedy shrewish wife are discussing how much the Dashwood widow and 3 daughters should receive. He starts off with a generous amount, and they go back and forth lowering the amounts(justifying the decreases all the way, of course) and finally whittle it down to essentially nothing. I keep being reminded of this scene.

      1. Pat

        John resembles Joe in that he also has moments sensing this is wrong long enough to say something and then is talked out of it….again. Momentary empathy being a fallback for Joe.

        (I know how bad insurance can be because Beau but friends, aka make believe Obama, or go fund me make it all work and ACA worthwhile comes to mind.)

        1. Jen

          I don’t think he senses it is wrong at all. He just spews some momentary fake empathy before doing what he planned to do all along. Nothing will fundamentally change!

          It’s been a while since I’ve called my congress critters. Tomorrow feels like a good day to give them some well deserved grief.

    2. marku52

      Watch yesterday’s Rising. Saagar is equally astonished that the Pubs lost the presidency and the Senate by refusing to send out the checks that Trump wanted.

      Both parties are simply unfit for use.

      1. Jason

        Trump said he wanted them but he didn’t distinguish himself arguing on their behalf. He mentioned it a few times because it was politically expedient.

        No, I don’t suffer from TDS. Just stating facts.

  6. NotTimothyGeithner


    I usually check out a bit after major updates and wait for sales, but I did get the last big DLC for Europe last year.

    I’ve skimmed the EUIV subreddit from time to time. There are memes, and based on a few factors early, games go certain ways. To a large extent, playing is the only way to appreciate it. Stellaris. Hearts of Iron. Crusader Kings, Victoria. It sounds like they fixed Imperator.

    As for its world view, you play as a European country, any country now, in 1453 a few months after Constantinople fell and lead your empire through the renaissance, reformation, exploration, colonization, absolution, and revolution. You try to get different achievements like crowning the Protestant Pope in Rome (err…) or reforming the Roman Empire, expelling Christians from the Iberian peninsula. Leaving Europe to Spain and moving Portugal to the Americas, which kind of happened. Curb stomping everyone as France because why not? Restoring Byzantium to glory. Forming Italy centuries before Garibaldi.

    Its a sandbox game, so short of annoying your neighbors enough, they decide they have to remove you from the map, you just kind of do what you want to do until Victoria 2 starts.


    I do not work or know anyone who works for Paradox. I just simply enjoy their games. For anyone interested, there are all kinds of DLC guides explaining which ones to get and avoid. Due to so many DLCs, the Third Rome and Cossacks isn’t necessary unless you simply want to play as Russia as the changes are specific to Russia or were added in other updates.

    If you have questions about Stellaris, I can go on.

    1. Basil Pesto

      I’m sure the phenomenon described in the tweet is the same with the Civ Games – the combination of informed, dee historical background wrapped up in a compelling presentation doubtless inspires people to get a bit [auto]didactic. For my part, that means a lot of time has been spent on wikipedia reading about Boudica, Pedro II, etc. over the years. I’m sure that would extend to undergrad enrolments for something like EUIV.

    2. Kurtismayfield

      Oh yes that game is definitely going to inspire a group of gamers to study European history. The events in it (at least during the first 100 years or so) are directly modeled around the period of European history from the Fall of Byzantium to the Reformation. After that, if the player has done a lot of “paint the world your color”, it can deviate

      It’s a huge time sink. One game can take you a hundred hours as the micromanaging can get to be very specific (but you can just play for a bit, save, and come back another day). That and there are so many systems involved… Religion, trade, military, royal marriages, espionage. Its Civilization on steroids, a database of spreadsheets that interact to form an AI whose only goal is to slow down the player.

      For example of it’s connection to history. I am currently trying to cover all the claims of Good King Rene. Rene was the head of a Cadet branch of the French king, and had claims in Naples and was offered the Crown of Aragon. So the missions in ruling Provence invoke reclaiming Naples, taking over France, and Claiming the Kingdom of Aragon before Ferdinand married Isabella and makes it nigh impossible. Basically setting yourself up to rule Western Continental Europe.

      And I don’t play Multiplayer.. that’s another layer of the game.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        my boys and their friends(and my cousin) are all into video games…mostly fortnite, which appears to be more of a social hangout than anything.
        i routinely fail to understand it all,lol.
        last home video game i had was Pong on a Commodore 64.
        last arcade game i played was Stargate in the hamburger joint in my hometown.
        I’m building civilisation right outside, there, though.
        same considerations, same level of politico-economic-social-religio systems thinking…on top of “All I want for christmas is the means of Production” thinking.(big sign on wall of my shop, right next to the bird icon of the Rebel Alliance(6 foot high, no less))

        1. wilroncanada

          Larpers from the SCI (Society for Creative Anachronism) do research into European history in order to adopt their personas. One of the former members, now retired, still has vanity plates on her car with her persona. My youngest son-in-law is a gamer, but hates video games. He started and ran a game convention in Victoria for 7 years, He got to do some traveling, a couple of times with part of the family, to do setup and demos for Wizards of the Coast, out of Seattle, at game conventions in Indianapolis, Seattle, Los Angeles, Honolulu, Mexico City, and Madrid.

  7. Randy

    Europa Universalis 4 is part of a long running series of games (abbreviated EU) from Swedish developer/publisher Paradox Interactive that have come to be called “mapgames”. You pick a country on a map, consisting of the entire planet in the EU games, from certain time periods and play from there. The games don’t really have goals, but because warfare requires the most player involvement most players typically try to conquer as much as possible, called spreading your country’s color or clay by hardcore fans. You also manage your country’s government and economy, but these aspects typically require less involvement and in the older games mostly consisted of moving sliders around.

    The game are semi-simulationist and claim to be apolitical about the systems they depict. I’m sure if you wanted to you could find some bias. EU4 specifically tries to cover the renaissance through the revolutions of the early 19th century. Despite the name of the games they’ve tried to move away from west is best stuff, so for example its possible for Japan (or one of its warring states in that time period) to be the source of the renaissance if Japan meets certain conditions the developers have deemed leading to Renaissance thought (I can’t remember them, I think one is having a really high amount of development) and gets lucky (the games always have some amount of randomness).

    The games are more interesting as an example of a very niche genre that has become successful organically from player support. People post after action reports or lets plays online (basically summaries or stories of their game) where they talk about how they singlehandedly beat the Ottoman Empire as Serbia and recreated the Roman Empire in the 1800s or whatever. There’s a seedier element of people posting “corrected” timelines with things like Nazi Germany conquering the planet, but the games are so free form you’re going to get that. The memes generated from these games are what have launched them into something approaching the mainstream.

    I don’t know if there have been any serious long form articles on the game. Again, I think they’re more interesting for how Paradox started as a little company and grew to be almost a AAA publisher/developer while making these really niche, weird games.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      while making these really niche, weird games.

      This is a funny way to spell awesome.

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      As a long-time player of these Paradox games (and before that, Avalon Hill), I’d affirm what Randy says about EUIV’s cultural perspective. While I have played as the Ming Dynasty and retained the Mandate of Heaven long enough to see the Industrial Revolution begin in the East, the general worldview is what I’ve called the Pizarro Worldview: Modernity can and should conquer the world. (I think the answer to both questions is pretty clear.)

      That’s interesting what you say about an evolving role for games in this society, Lambert. I reported earlier on games I’ve played this winter, “Surviving the Aftermath” and “Green Project,” and their perspectives on a response to ecological disaster. “Green Project” is a riff on a very popular game, “Stardew Valley,” but where Stardew is a pleasant if somewhat economically depressed rural locale, the Green Project is post-Apocalypse.

      A good game teaches some things. It’s not surprising that the prof is finding that strategy games like Europa Universalis and Civilization teach enough history to get people interested, but they could also be teaching and helping us think about ecology (like Green Project attempts), community structures, alternative economic systems, etc.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        …they could also be teaching and helping us think about ecology…

        That’s one of the drawbacks to the Civ games – there is a strong Realpolitik aspect to them. Just try going peaceably about your business of building a utopia and see what happens. I’ve played Civ since the original and it sometimes gives me pause to think Kissinger would probably love the game too.

        Never heard of EUIV but will will have to check it out. Civilization on steroids! – what’s not to like?

        1. Basil Pesto

          I mean, you can, but you’re not going to win the game, and depending on the AI settings, you’re liable to have someone try and take all you’ve built.

          One of the things that’s interesting about Civ is that each game has a different lead designer, which makes each game more like a variation, than a sequel (beyond the graphical improvements). I do detect varying levels of cynicism across the games. It’s also worth noting that the endgame which veers into the near future almost always does shade towards dystopian, certainly when played for a military victory (nuclear war and Giant Death Robot, anyone?).

        2. ilpalazzo

          I think that’s the most important original insight that grand strategy games give – an opportunity to see the world from the perspective of ruler with all the cynicism involved. In the school history curriculum you may learn that a prince imprisoned his brother and gouged his eyes out, poisoned his wife etc. and think these things are horrible but in the games all these things are viable options, often coming out as winning strategies considering the circumstances. You learn that when the good of your nation (as you perceive it) is involved, crushing some eggs is often necessary.

          Also, you get the big picture and may realize that history as actually happened is a poor outcome and be tempted to correct it in line with your ideological bias, for example retake Constantinople etc. Retaking Constantinople is a frequent meme btw. and hardcore gamer community can be quite nasty.

          1. occasional anonymous

            Paradox games tend to attract a vocal Nazi contingent (something Paradox didn’t at all intend). The Kaiserreich alternative history mod (‘what if Germany won WW1’) is notorious for the kind of right wing players it seems to attract.

        3. Henry Moon Pie

          Was it Civ III that tried to include global warming as an element? Uncleared pollution raised that global temperature and actually changed squares from arable land to desert. If there was a nuke war, then the amount of pollution led to a complete climate breakdown and an end to the game. But that was gone in later editions.

          1. Basil Pesto

            The second Civ VI expansion, Gathering Storm, makes climate change a central late-game mechanic

          1. occasional anonymous

            I love Alpha Centauri, but a problem with that game is that each faction is essentially a strawman; some ideology taken to an extreme (the business faction openly advocates raping the planet for resources, the science faction has no ethics and conducts human experiments, the collectivist guy runs a totalitarian dictatorship, etc) This is literally part of the backstory, where only the murdered captain was able to corral the various factions to work together and to curb their excesses. So literally an appeal to centrism.

      2. occasional anonymous

        I’m a big believer in games for getting a basic grounding in history. Even a game that gets lots of things wrong can still be incredibly useful for providing a firm foundation in geography, and getting a sense of factions and personalities. Having a map you can move around and click on things in a game is infinitely better for getting a lay of the land than any book.

        The Paradox games are also great for temporal geography, since each one covers a period of at least a few hundred years. In fact, with the official save converters it’s possible to have a thousand year alternative history campaign across multiple games, as you play one game until its end date, then convert the save file and start the next game with the same faction dispositions.

        As for the Paradox strategy games themselves, they’re historical simulators sandboxes. There are no goals other than ones you set for yourself (many things have digital trophies to entice you into doing them though). You can try to role-play actual history, or do stuff like take a minor power that Georgia and attempt to turn it into a colonial monster. Or simply try to survive until the game’s end date without being gobbled up by another power.

        It’s also possible to turn the games into total farce. You can treat them as a serious historical simulator…or you can do stuff like intentionally inbreed your royal family for generation after generation just to see how many negative character traits you can manage to get on one of your heirs. These games can be taken as seriously as you want them to be, really: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3FCYIAJxeU

        The worldview is absolutely biased towards ‘progress’ being inherently a good thing. But you’re also playing from the perspective of rulers; from that vantage point anything that makes your armies better and your economic numbers go up is desirable.

  8. Pelham

    Re the Dems’ pullback on stimulus checks: As a guest on Tucker Carlson noted earlier this week: First of all, that’s our money.

    1. QuicksilverMessenger

      Are these seemingly arbitrary income cutoffs based on gross income, or taxable net income?

      1. John Zelnicker

        March 3, 2021 at 2:48 pm

        They are based on Earned Income, which means wages reported on a W-2, income reported on a 1099-NEC or 1099-MISC after allowable deductions, and/or self-employment income from a partnership or a sole proprietorship.

        For those who have not received the full amounts of either stimulus, they can use either their 2019 or 2020 amounts and potentially claim additional payment on their 2020 tax return.

        It looks to me like the IRS decided at the beginning of tax season to stop sending payments and force people to claim them on their 2020 tax returns. This is most likely due to a lack of resources as the IRS has suffered a 20% decrease in funding (inflation-adjusted) over the past 10 years.

        1. EricT

          They did that back in the early aughts when Bush jr sent everyone 400 dollars. If you didn’t receive it but qualified for it you received a tax credit. I think it’s primarily for first time return filers considering that the IRS wouldn’t have any prior income to base the payment on.

          1. John Zelnicker

            March 3, 2021 at 7:13 pm

            No, it’s not just for first-time filers. I’ve been filing returns for over 40 years and I didn’t get the recent $600 stimulus check. I’ll have to claim it on my 2020 return.

            In my previous comment I said it “looked like” the IRS made the decision to stop sending checks. Since then I found the email from the IRS indicating that that’s exactly what they did due to a lack of resources to process checks and to process tax returns.

    2. Wukchumni

      I’ve contacted JG Wentworth to see if they could front me some of the expected 1400 clams and they were busy sponsoring a name tie-in tournament in the UK, but the receptionist pleaded with me in the meantime to buy some lottery tickets-win the grand prize in a structured settlement basis over 20 years, and then call back to negotiate a deal certainly not to my advantage for a lump sum now.

      1. Jonathan Holland Becnel


  9. Basil Pesto

    the irony of the Wentworth article, I should’ve mentioned yesterday, is that Wentworth probably isn’t even the 10th best golf course in Surrey, let alone England. The article deals in hoary old clichés (down the road is a golf course with green fees starting from £15, £10 for juniors – I am shocked, shocked that *checks notes* a guardian reporter is not as in touch with the common man as he seems to think he is. Writer also seems to be unaware of the many wonderful courses laid out over various commons in England, too, but I digress) but what is there in the riche v nouveau riche battle he describes is very amusing, and something that’s been readily observable in London for ages now, of course.

    1. a different chris

      I howled all the way thru that. Enjoyed, as it said, the 1% getting treated like the rest of us plebes.

      Funny thing was the article spoke about them vs the “the 0.001% like Yan Bin”. Like Yan Bin, huh? So I google Yan Bin — he was worth in 2019 1.1 billion dollars.

      That means the difference between his wealth and The Donalds is like my wealth and a run-of-the-mill heart surgeon’s. Which ain’t close. Even more hilarious if you, like me, have to just give up and laugh, is that Yan Bin doesn’t even have a penny for every dollar Bezos *or* Gates *or* Musk have.

      Some times we live in, huh.

  10. Wukchumni

    You could faithfully reproduce the image of any painting digitally for almost nothing, it wouldn’t look all that much different than the original worth $100 million from 10 feet away nicely framed, and why of all totems are paintings worth the most of any collectible?

    1. a different chris

      >why of all totems are paintings worth the most of any collectible?

      I have never ever ever *ever* understood that. The best I can come up with is that they are easy to hide from the tax man. Just put another painting in the frame on top when he comes by. Can’t do that with the Rolls.

      1. KiWeTO

        It is convincing the Precariat to get in early on the next speculation lottery.
        Digital ARTificial scarcity.

    2. wol

      The rule of thumb for looking at a painting is to stand back at a distance equal to the diagonal of the painting. I could see the difference, but then I paint every day.

      Increasingly paintings are collected as investments. A group decides on a contemporary painter to champion and conspires to bid them up at auctions to artificially inflate the prices. Sell a few to the wannabes and warehouse the rest in hopes they appreciate. Paintings are flat and relatively lightweight, easy to store. Iirc, I read about a warehouse complex in Switzerland that stores paintings exclusively.

    3. urblintz

      Investing in paintings is like investing in real estate. The buyer puts 10% down and essentially has a mortgage until selling at a higher price.

      Mary Boone is evil.

  11. Mikel

    RE: Guidelines and aerosol transmission

    It crosses my mind that getting outside wasn’t encouraged because people were and are in the protesting mood. Keep everybody on the easier to surveill and control “social” media.

  12. Userfract

    From my experiences playing Europa Universalis 4 over several years, I would say that the development team tries to avoid imposing a particular worldview wherever possible. It is very difficult to try and model something like the genocides of colonization, religious inquisitions, or the slave trade in ways that neither omit nor celebrate these aspects of early modern history which were hugely consequential, but Paradox Interactive has tried to do so. If there is a bias, I would say that this game in particular began as more Eurocentric. The base game has been updated multiple times, with the game mechanics related to colonization developed earlier than mechanics designed to simulate say the importance of the Mandate of Heaven in Ming Dynasty China. The developers have responded to criticism of this Eurocentrism by adding more historical content, unique units and game dynamics for different regions as they release new downloadable content, so that even playing as a minor new world or sub-Saharan country can be an educational and entertaining experience. While there are online forums where the game is discussed, by far the best method for understanding it is to buy a copy and start messing around. In pretty much any game you are going to see some fun alternative history events pop up, and you have choices besides just being a conquering juggernaut if that is your wish. I have certainly learned a lot about the period from the game, so it does not surprise me that it is driving interest in history class enrollment.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Crusader Kings 2 does, though you might have to form it in the game play based on start dates. I don’t know about the current CK3. Paradox constantly adds for a small fee of course.

      2. Massinissa

        CK2 and I think 3, start in 1066, when the Normans gobbled up England. Khazars are dead by then, having been gobbled up by the Oghuz, Pechenegs and Cumans around 969 or so, but IIRC either the main game or a mod will let you re-form it. I think the expansion pack about judaism lets you do it? Or the one about steppe nomads

        1. Massinissa

          My bad, they do exist at game start, but they’re really tiny and weak, since their heydey was a few centuries earlier: Expect uphill battle. Might not be the best one to start off with, you need the expansion pack that lets you play nomadic tribes in order to play them since the main game is about european feudalists, and Judaism has its own expansion and you will want that too. So basically you need base game and two expansions. Get them on a steam sale at 50% off.

          This is for CK2: CBA to check CK3, I don’t even have it yet.

          1. Basil Pesto

            I noticed that EUIV is on sale for about $12 USD this week on Steam. Not sure about the expansions. I have to say I’m tempted, with all this chat about it.

            1. Massinissa

              IMO the game is fine without expansions, but they do make the experience better. If you want an expansion, either pick one that focuses on a nation or theme you’re interested in, or check online. There’s too damn many for me to discuss here. Even if you only give the main game a spin, it will be worth the 13 dollars.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I have certainly learned a lot about the period from the game, so it does not surprise me that it is driving interest in history class enrollment.

      This seems to be a similar dynamic to History or Rome/Revolutions, or the Civil War podcast. Quite a thirst for scholarship without the apparatus/style of scholarship, it would seem?

  13. FreeMarketApologist

    Re: “US Catholic bishops urges people NOT to take the Johnson & Johnson vaccine…

    Doing their best to bring about the rapture.

    Further evidence that the organized Church (for most all definitions of the word) has minimal interest in the welfare of their earthly subjects.

    1. Michael Ismoe

      This warning is brought to you by the same people who told you that you would burn in Hell for eating a cheeseburger on Friday. Roll up them sleeves, people!

    2. RMO

      I’m not a big fan of the Catholic Church in general but “Catholics should choose coronavirus vaccines made by Moderna or Pfizer – if they are available. The Archdiocese of St Louis on Tuesday encouraged Catholics to seek out the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines and avoid the Johnson & Johnson version if possible” doesn’t sound particularly inconsiderate of the welfare of their earthy subjects. The two diocese involved here are saying their people should consider taking either of the other two vaccines only if there is a choice rather than the J&J vaccine – not to choose not to be vaccinated at all. Even then they’re saying it’s up to the individual.

  14. km

    Woke Insurance. Hiring a “diversity coordinator” and making a bunch of performative statements is, in fact, a form of Woke Insurance for corporations.

    Like most symbolic gestures, it is in fact quite cheap.

  15. Shane

    I haven’t played EUIV myself, but it was highly recommended to me from two friends — one a self-described tankie, the other a Ross Douthat-type centrist *blegh* — who knew how much I loved the Sid Meier’s Civilization series (and who had both played that as well). The tankie, who is an American of Palestinian origin who converted to Islam here in the States, exclusively plays as a Yemeni tribe for the challenge; don’t know what the centrist’s favorite play style is. I almost got into it a few years ago, but the tankie told me I needed to start by watching 20 hours of youtube videos or I’d be completely lost, and so I was turned off at the time cost of entry. (Ironic, considering I have over 1000 hours played on Civ VI alone.)

    It certainly seems like a worthwhile game to check out, though, for those interested in history and civ-building games. And it doesn’t surprise me in the least that it motivates young people to want to learn more about history — my social studies education was pretty terrible growing up, but Civ, along with a decade of NC lurking and other online political pedagogy, definitely sparked my own interest in it.

    1. Massinissa

      “but the tankie told me I needed to start by watching 20 hours of youtube videos”

      IMO hes bsing you. The 20 hours would be to get optimal playstyle. You don’t need to know that to enjoy it. Do trial and error, that will be more fun, and that’s how I did it. Then again, I had played EU3 (also no guide)

      The most complicated paradox game would be Victoria 2. It starts in 1836 and ends in 1914 I think. Its basically the Victorian Capitalism Simulator, though Laissez Faire is crap because the AI for the in game capitalists is so terrible so you want to do State Capitalism or Planned Economy to build your own damn factories. You DO need a 20 hour guide to that one. The others are mostly pick up and play.

      1. Massinissa

        I don’t play Hearts of Iron 3 or 4 or whatever the latest one is, thats the WW2 simulator. No idea about that one but its at least less complicated than Victoria 2. Theres also Crusader Kings 2 and 3 if you want medieval, and Stellaris if you want their science fiction space one. Oh and Imperator if you want to do post-alexander ancient history. Pick whichever period (or scifi for stellaris) interests you the most. Uh, you might want to avoid Vicky 2 as I mentioned above, its basically spreadsheet simulator. The economy barely makes any damn sense and you have to be an extremist asshat (Reactionary or Fascist for State Capitalism, Socialism or Communism for planned economy, but the socialists are pacifist and not jingoist totalitarian so if you want to be not-authoritarian you have to pick that one) in order to have a non-terrible economy.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Civ, along with a decade of NC lurking and other online political pedagogy, definitely sparked my own interest in it.

      Interesting. Is this a widespread phenomenon?

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I suspect it’s more itch scratching, but these games, maybe not Crusader Kings, are functionally glorified versions of Risk and Stratego.

        In the Civ series, each nation has the same leader with a set personality. In the original back in 1991, Gandhi has an aggression rate of 10 on a scale of 0 to 256. Genghis Kahn was 256. When nuclear weapons are developed, the aggression rate for every character gets reduced by more than 10, so Ghandi starts nuking everyone. It’s just dice rolls, but the games fix the Risk shortcomings.

        1. Massinissa

          I disagree. There’s plenty to not like about EU4, but comparing it to Stratego or Civilization is unfair. It has more depth than that, even if you dislike the game, and while it might not be to the depth of some other grand strategy titles, this comparison seems very unfair to me.

      2. Shane

        I certainly can’t speak for everyone, but I think this spark of historical-education-through-video-games is a gradual process, built up from other civ-building games. I’ve met a number of people my age (around 30) who grew up on Age of Empires II; Civ seems a natural next step for those. For some, the next step after Civ might be a game like EUIV, or one of the others by the same studio mentioned upthread.

        But for me, from the perspective of social studies education, the interesting thing about Civ is that, while it doesn’t have the historical realism that you seem to start with in building your civilization in EUIV, it invokes real historical wonders, great people, great artists and works of art, great prophets, great scientists, great merchants, great musicians and works of music, great generals, great admirals, natural wonders, and geographic features from around the world, in an eclectic hodgepodge that varies every game. In doing so, the more curious among its players get the itch to learn about what these things are in the real world — and the game itself provides a great jumping off point through its “Civilopedia,” which gives a few paragraphs of context and can be accessed in-game.

        Lambert, you often remark on how video games have the potential to be a great organizing force, or at least an untapped political force that’s waiting to be unleashed. It might be worth your time to check out a super-popular streamer of a game like Civ (such as Potato McWhiskey, an Irish streamer with a huge following), if nothing else to see how a community can develop around the confluence of a charismatic streamer and a game loved by millions. In my opinion, this is the most likely realization of the type of change you’re looking for. Though, there are other possibilities — I have read, for instance, about the space-corporation-building real-time game Eve, in which Chinese factions have essentially taken over entire systems under the shared understanding that they will attack any non-Chinese language user or faction who enter their systems. This, though, might be more of an in-real-life geopolitics brought to cyberspace (represented in actual space) than the type of political-force-in-real-life that you’ve alluded to or are looking for.

  16. Roger the cabin boy

    “Democrats Need an 11th Commandment” [Rahm Emmanuel (!), Wall Street Journal].

    I find this to be a very hopeful story. If a remorseless parasite like Rahm Emmanuel thinks criticism of (important) Democrats needs to stop, then maybe we are making progress and should double down.

    1. Carla

      “a remorseless parasite like Rahm Emmanuel” … lovely, lovely — the perfect description I’ve been looking for for years. Thank you!

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > If a remorseless parasite like Rahm Emmanuel thinks criticism of (important) Democrats needs to stop, then maybe we are making progress and should double down.

      No “perhaps” about it!

  17. Marc

    I have played the Europa Universalis series since #2 and enjoyed it.

    The podcast Byzantium & Friends recently had an episode where they discussed how Byzantium and other civilisations are represented in video games and the mechanics of games. The guest is on the development team for EU IV and other Paradox games titles (Crusader Kings, etc.). I think this will provide some context as the podcast host is in a similar position to you.

    If you want to go further into the rabbit hole I suggest Polandball.

    1. Massinissa

      3 is fine but out of date. Never played 2. Don’t even know what Polandball is. Podcast? Poland is popular meme in Europa circles, alot of people play it for laughs (though its by no means weak, especially considering it starts fairly strong with the ability to assimilate the even larger Lithuania later since it starts out as Poland Lithuania as a personal union between the two powers) and the phrase ‘Poland Can Into Space’ has been a popular meme term for years and years, at least since EU3 if not before.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Here is another funny little Amazon-relevant video. It is titled ” Amazon delivery driver practices his aim with my package”. I wonder if something breakable was in the package.

      Here is the link.

      People who buy anything from Amazon fully deserve whatever bad thing happens relative to any aspect of their Amazon experience. This is a small part of what every Amazon shopper supports by buying anything at all whatsoever from Amazon.

      I support the concept of Unionizing Amazon. If that can lead to the utter extermination of Amazon from existence and its total enwipement from off the face of the earth, then I support it twice as hard.

  18. chris

    If you haven’t ever looked through it before, you can get a lot about gamer culture and the wider attitudes that people who consider themselves gamers have by reading the comics and articles on penny arcade.

    And if we ever have conventions again, you could always check out PAX to see what it’s all about :)

  19. Bill

    Europa Universalis IV is a real time grand strategy game based on history period from the 15th century to beginning of 19th century. You take the role as a leader of a medieval kingdom, or duchy and end up as an enlightened republic or empire.

    The game is based on real events, such as war of the roses, 30 years war, age of enlightenment, wars of revolution, age of discovery, wars of religion etc.

    1. Massinissa

      You might be thinking of CK2 for the first paragraph, where you can’t play anything but feudalists without expansions. In EU4 you can start out as Republican Venice, post-mongol states like the Golden Horde, etc etc. Basically any nation, though you might need expansion pack for more features of whatever you are playing. Like, they made a small expansion just for Spain, though I here that one isn’t very good.

  20. JTMcPhee

    Here’s an interesting article about the action in the wings of the 1968 Democratic Convention, sold as some apocalyptic watershed in the political history of the Empire: https://www.kenoshanews.com/opinion/local_columnists/leicht-federal-troops-deployed-to-chicago-for-1968-democratic-convention/article_b19112bd-7e70-5a24-aecb-b9a131652194.html

    Line that up against the hype the forking FBI is puking out in “testimony” before Congress, with those baleful warnings of Bad Things Are Going To Happen When Domestic Terrists Attack Our Sacred Capital on March 4, or 6, or whatever.

    I’d like to take the opportunity to pitch for a documentary that adds some more richness to the recollections of all the sh!t that was flying around in that time of Jane Fonda and Hippies and actual resistance to the military: “Sir, No Sir!” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VfcfzcAy_fU Just a half an hour or so.

    Put that up against another event not so very long ago, a major mutiny by enlisted men (and some officers) in the British RAF at the end of WW II: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1SkyxdlSR0

    One wonders if this kind of mass action is even possible any more, the way the PTB have divvied us up…

    1. Michael Ismoe

      I am pretty convinced that there is an uprising planned for March 4th. The question is will the FBI or one of it’s employees be leading it?

  21. MK

    “Also, Federal taxes don’t fund Federal spending.”

    Lambert says this a lot . . .

    I’m relatively new to this community and am still learning about MMT. Am I missing something (seriously)? Shouldn’t we acknowledge that Federal taxes do indeed fund ~3/4 of Federal spending and that Federal borrowing makes up the difference?

    The Federal Government has the capacity to fund itself through the creation of dollars so it doesn’t have to be this way but isn’t saying that taxes don’t pay for spending a little misleading?



    1. Halcyon

      Hi MK,

      The MMT framing is closer to the idea that spending creates money which taxes then destroy by taking out of circulation. This way, we can view the taxes as having two purposes:

      1) control inflation by limiting the money supply
      2) the re-distributive effects that tax policy has to hopefully make civilisation not collapse

      but as a matter of practice, the Federal government is not required to take in any of your tax dollars before it spends money into existence. It does not take taxes and put them into an account which is then spent. If I’m “funding” my Terry’s Chocolate Orange habit, I have to obtain the money from somewhere else first. The government does not; it can just decide to spend as and when it chooses. So it’s not really clear what it means “to fund” in this framing, because the actual, practical order of operations is different.

      And the framing is important – in fact, the framing is everything, really… hence The Deficit Myth.

      Of course, this doesn’t mean that levying taxes is unimportant, or that it doesn’t in a sense free up monetary capacity that can be redirected by government spending in a less inflationary way. But that’s different to spending taxpayer dollars on xyz.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        But if that is true, and government newly emits every dollar it spends, and decides to collect back zero of the dollars as taxes, then what happens? What happens after 10 years? 20? 30?

        1. eg

          Taxation gives the currency value — it’s why public sector entities want to hold it as “savings”

    2. InquiringMind

      He’s saying that because the “borrowing” part is also not what you have been led to believe. The basic logic is: you can’t “borrow” something which you are the sole source and creator of.

      The Fed Gov (at this point in time) is offering bonds as a risk-free benefit to savers, not as a means to obtain $$$. In other words, the Federal Gov pretends to borrow the $$$ to help savers stash their $$$ somewhere safe (which also helps control interest rates).

      The documentation from the CBO comes from myopic people who are inside the machine and aren’t viewing the big picture with a wide-enough lens to understand that the system factors down to a much simpler equation:

      The Fed Gov creates all $$$ at will; Federal taxation destroys some of the privately-held $$$ so that inflation doesn’t run rampant.

        1. WobblyTelomeres

          An integral point of MMT, if this obtuse layman may comment, is that taxes drive demand for a given fiat currency.

          For example, if the IRS demanded Swiss francs instead of US dollars for tax payments, most of us would spend 40 percent or so of our time amassing Swiss francs instead of US dollars to pay our tax bills.

  22. DJ Forestree

    “NYTimes Peru N-Word, Part One: Introduction” [Donald G. McNeil Jr.] “One last thought: what’s happened to me has been called a “witch hunt.” It isn’t. It’s a series of misunderstandings and blunders. I may be the only living Times reporter who has actually covered a witch hunt — in Zimbabwe in 1997. They inevitably end worse for the accused. I’m at least getting my say.” •
    I read the series by McNeil Jr., about his trip, his departure from the NYT, etc. I posted the long note below on his Medium page. I thought I would include it here as well, since his articles are linked. Not sure if my long response to him goes against the current comment rules; of course feel free to dismiss it if that is the case. This is what I wrote:

    I appreciate your detailed narrative and the sharing of details regarding these events. You claim to be a non-partisan person, but several of your statements, according to your own recollection of your conversations with the students, show that you have a distorted and very partial version of history, in particular when it comes to the US relationship to Latin America and the Caribbean. And your distortions depict a more benign, favourable view of the US policies and practices towards Latin America than what reality and history shows. You are biased, in the sense that you fully embrace and adopt a mainstream and often non-critical US narrative of the world and of history.
    One example, when you write: “Yes, we had some colonies we inherited in the Spanish-American War, and yes, we sometimes conquered other countries, like Mexico, but we didn’t keep them and rule them as England or France did”. So, because the US won the Spanish-Cuban-American War it was right to try to turn some of the former Spanish colonies into colonial possessions (look at Puerto Rico today), or to control them by meddling in their affairs forever (look at US involvement in Filipino or Cuban affairs through the 20 century and still today), including making sure that the US will have military bases in those nations even against their will (Guantanamo comes to mind)? “We inherited” the colonies, you write. And then what, “we” decided we will control them or try to keep them as colonies under one or another form of dependency? Why not let them go free and decide their own affairs? How is that not colonialism, under a new name or form?
    And regarding the US and Mexico, last time I heard the territory that was taken away from Mexico is still under US control. The US violently conquered and controlled vast swaths of Mexican territory and has been historically unapologetic about it. I think that mentioning Mexico to the students wasn’t the best choice on your part.
    Another example, when you said, “I know what United Fruit did. And it was bad. But that was 100 years ago. And colonialism is over. Most colonies freed themselves 50 years ago, in the 60’s.”
    However, what the United Fruit and the US government did in Guatemala to topple the Arbenz democratic government did not take place 100 years ago, it happened in 1954. And, how long since Allende and Chile? Aristide and Haiti? Zelaya and Honduras? Are you telling the students and your readers here that this is not US blatant interference in the internal affairs of countries that are supposed to be sovereign? Are you saying that these are not examples of a new form of colonialism, known as neo-colonialism? Aren’t the CIA and the US government responsible for such violent interventions, often from the stage of planning them with the complicity of American corporations (forget United Fruit if you wish; think ITT, etc.) If you are not ready to discuss these nuances then you can’t ask for an audience with a more nuanced understanding of the world. You told the students: “Latin American and African countries…have to take some responsibility for their own futures. They can’t just say “It’s all America’s fault” or “it’s all because of colonialism.” I agree. But the examples I am mentioning and others show that when Latin American, or African, or Asian, or even Australian people elect leaders that the US dislike, the US government and its agencies will use all their force to get rid of such leaders, and that happens still today. How can you omit this point and then ask for a more nuanced discussion? I have not followed your coverage of the pandemic; it sounds like it has been very good; congratulations on a job well done. Did you write in the NYT about the Cuban Covid-19 vaccines, and did you tell your readers that this country, still suffering from a decades’ old US embargo is the only one in Latin America that is producing its own vaccines?
    Your view of the American poor is also very partial. It seems that you dismiss the 2 million American who lack running water and basic plumbing (see here: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/2-million-americans-dont-have-access-to-running-water-and-basic-plumbing-2019-11-20). The social issues that the poor segment of the American population face are dire, and these issues are insufficiently covered in the American press, including the newspaper you used to work for. Just think of literacy: 43.0 million U.S. adults possess low literacy skills. This is like a Third World problem, one different than living on 2 dollars a day, but a terrible problem anyways. Engaging the students on a more nuanced, less biased view of the world and of American society could have been more productive for you and for them, in my opinion.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > we inherited in the Spanish-American War

      Not how I recall then Philippine-American War of 1899–1901, which casts a long shadow all the way to Vietnam. And Iraq (waterboarding). Very much a “When they tell you who they are, believe them” moment.

  23. The Rev Kev

    Re the nearly full moon over Stillhouse Cove and the “Gaspee”. Here is the Wikipedia article on this affair a few years before the evolution kicked off. In short, a British customs boat ran aground giving chase to a pocket ship so the locals used the opportunity to board it and burn it down to the waterline. The captain of this ship had made himself very unpopular after his arrival and was running roughshod over the locals and their laws so when he got himself stuck, the opportunity for revenge was just too great-


  24. upstater

    “Interview: Saikat Chakrabarti, creator of the Green New Deal” is a bit rich… The idea originated in 2009 by Edward Barbier. In 2010, Howie Hawkins ran for NYS Governor as the Green Party candidate advocating the GND (Hawkins was the 2020 GP Presidential candidate). Credit should be given where it is due.

    Wasn’t Chakrabarti defenestrated as AOC’s chief of staff?

  25. rowlf

    A few days ago I did an internet news search for how the topic of using Ivermectin was being reported. In a way a fun exercise to see the reporting swings and belief systems. One article I read was a three week old Washington Post story from a US reporter in Brazil who wrote about how he and his wife tested positive for Covid-19 and sought local treatment. He lists the medicines recommended to minimize Covid-19 effects but the writes about how after looking around they decide to stop taking the medicines. They both recovered after they stop taking the local recommended medications.

    For me the scary part was the comments. If you didn’t reject all non FDA allowed treatments and only sought US vaccines you could never get to heaven. If you considered anything other than FDA allowed treatments you were a Trump supporter who would/should ingest/inject bleach. Really wild stuff between believers and skeptics suggesting some of the Covid-19 treatments used by brown people may work.

    I don’t know what works and I don’t know what is being reported correctly. I do know from studying history and being around historical events that the news reporting is never ever reliable. I appreciate how this website (NC) covers Covid-19 topics.

    My wife and I got covid-19. Our doctor prescribed a medication used to treat parasites in livestock.

    1. Jason

      The FLCCC Alliance website has a wealth of information. You’ll find these front line doctors have a very different opinion of Ivermectin than the people the Post ran down for their cute little article.

      The Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance was organized in March, 2020 by a group of highly published, world renowned Critical Care physician/scholars – with the academic support of allied physicians from around the world – to research and develop lifesaving protocols for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 in all stages of illness.


      1. rowlf

        I can’t see the downside to Ivermectin from what I have read about it, but I am surprised by the vaccines only response. What a goofy world we live in where you can only follow what the church says or be burned at the stake for heresy. Cue the Jonathan Pie “There are no discussions” rants.

        1. JBird4049

          Fear, and don’t we have good reasons, does make people revert to their lizard brain. “I am going to time travel to 300 million years to before the mammals and the dinosaurs separated. Because why not?”

          I wish I could get angry at some of what I read, but with all fecal matter plus death and economic destruction, it is hard to do so at the idiots at both ends. I know how easy it is for me to go stupid and so…

  26. Paradan

    In regards to a game about electoral politics, Democracy 3.

    I’ve never played it, but it seems popular enough to keep the devs busy on sequels and expansions.

  27. skippy

    I would have thought the Europa Universalis IV – Steam gamer blog discussions I proffered would have been a hoot with the grunt around here …. sigh ….

      1. skippy

        The big ????? is why a request for information was edited when a fundamental source was deemed ????

        It was linked to the Steam Blog without any interference in the information it presented. Contrary to the suppositions of many posts above thread about the game and its larger ramifications considering the plea of the link which initiated the call for information on the subject matter.

        It seems in conflict with the blogs ethics ….

        1. Yves Smith

          It looks like you two are talking past each other. Lambert asked for a translation because what you said was cryptic. I have no idea what you are referencing here.

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