2:00PM Water Cooler 3/30/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, this is a bit short. More soon. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Another migratory bird from the Birds of the Atlantic Flyway.

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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.

Vaccination by region:

Early in February, I said a simple way to compare Biden’s performance to Trump’s on vaccination would be to compare the curves. If Biden accelerated vaccine administration, the rate of vaccination post-Inaugural would kink upward, as the policies of a more effective administration took hold. 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.

“KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor: March 2021” [KFF]. “The share of U.S. adults who report being vaccinated for COVID-19 or intending to do so as soon as possible continues to rise (currently 61%) and the share taking a ‘wait and see’ approach continues to shrink (now 17%), while the share who say they will ‘definitely not’ get the vaccine (13%) has remained about the same since December, according to the latest KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor. Black adults saw the largest increase in vaccine enthusiasm (55% of them now say they have either gotten vaccinated or want to as soon as possible), but one-quarter of Black adults say they still want to ‘wait and see’ how the vaccine works for others before getting vaccinated, somewhat higher than the share of White adults who say the same. About three in ten Republicans and White Evangelicals say they will ‘definitely not’ get the vaccine, as do one in five adults living in rural areas.” • Lots of interesting charts; I thought this one was the most intriguing:

The Wall Street Journal has a similar view of vaccine uptake:

Case count by United States regions:

No longer an upward blip, but a very ugly trend. Disappointing in the extreme. All I can say is that if you have a system that has worked for you, keep at it. And avoid closed, crowded, close-contact settings, evem so-called outdoor dining. Don’t share air!

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

New York in the “lead,” but with a jump after a recent drop. 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.

NY: From the New York Times tracker, here is a handy map of New York cases:

I wish I had demographic data at New York county level, particularly income. Perhaps some kind reader can put me on to a source.

CA: “Backlash After California COVID-19 Vaccination Site Plans Closure For Anime Event” [HuffPo]. “A county spokesperson confirmed to the Bee that the vaccine site closure this week is due to preexisting events planned at the venue. The clinic will extend its hours into the evening Monday through Wednesday to maximize the number of doses administered this week, compensating for the closures, the spokesperson said. She also stated that around 90% of this week’s approximately 5,400 appointments at the site are second-dose appointments, meaning that “the impact on first dose appointments available in that time window is not very large.” The county did not anticipate major issues with administering second doses, the spokesperson told the Bee.”

Test positivity:


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.

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“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

“Proud Boys organizer charged in Capitol attack says he aided FBI ‘antifa’ inquiries” [Politico]. “A leader of the Proud Boys charged in an alleged conspiracy to attack the Capitol on Jan. 6 claims he has a longstanding relationship with the FBI, which he said regularly sought him out for information about “antifa networks” in Florida and other parts of the United States.,,, Biggs’ claims, not immediately corroborated by the FBI, nevertheless are likely to sharpen concerns that law enforcement has tolerated violence by the Proud Boys, who have long styled themselves as allies of the police in a fight against leftists.” • The [genuflects] FBI is looking more like the Okhrana every day…

Biden Administration

“Congress looks to rein in Biden’s war powers” [The Hill]. “Congress is looking at three previous authorizations for the use of military force (AUMFs): the 1991 measure for the Gulf War, the 2001 bill passed days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and 2002 legislation passed for the Iraq War. The biggest challenge, lawmakers acknowledge, will be how to handle the 2001 authorization. It was approved by Congress just days after Sept. 11, 2001, to go after terrorist groups behind the attack. But it’s since been stretched to cover military operations in 19 countries, including against groups that didn’t even exist on 9/11. ‘What the replacement looks like, what are the contours of it, that’s going to be the tricky part of that and the more difficult part,’ said Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.), a member of the panel, agreed that the 2001 AUMF should be ‘rewritten’ but that it would be hard to do. ‘The administration seems open to revisiting some of these things, but admittedly the ’01 AUMF is going to be much more challenging than ditching the ’02 and the ’91,” he said.” • Oh.

UPDATE “COVID Tracking Apps Have Eerie Echoes of Chinese Surveillance System” [Washington Free Beacon]. “President Joe Biden’s COVID team appears to have entertained an electronic test-and-trace program pioneered by the University of Illinois that would have let businesses deny service to patrons based on their health data, a PowerPoint presentation obtained by the Washington Free Beacon shows. The program has eerie echoes of China’s surveillance system, which uses data from citizens’ phones to impose quarantines. A PowerPoint produced by the school suggests scaling up the university’s intrusive contact tracing system for use across the United States. Its file name, ‘2020-12-14 Shield Biden Covid Team,’ indicates that it was presented to the Biden team in December, amid an ongoing search for solutions to a seemingly insoluble problem: how to stop the virus without stopping the economy? The presentation proffered an answer. The school’s system uses a mobile app that records test results and Bluetooth data to determine who has been exposed to the virus—and ‘links building access’ on campus to that information. Local businesses have also embraced it, making entry conditional on a “safe status” reading from the app.” • Any governance idea that comes out of university administration is probably bad. More: “But the surveillance schematic is there, and it could become a flashpoint in future crises. With over a sixth of the population fully vaccinated, such schemes have been temporarily tabled by the Biden administration. Whether they stay that way is an open question.”

Democrats en Deshabille

“Chrissy Teigen: John And I Had Sex In DNC Bathroom” [TMZ]. The Democrat National Convention, not the DNC offices, sadly. “For those wondering which DNC they did the deed at, we did some digging … and it seems like 2008.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

Of course, people can still be spiritual even while “unchurched”:

Looks to me like the Evangelicals in Bush the Younger’s administration soured America on their project. Bible camps aren’t helping either, are they….

Stats Watch

Housing: “S and P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20 City Home Price Index January 2021 Year-over-Year Growth Continue” [Econintersect]. “The non-seasonally adjusted S and P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index (20 cities) year-over-year rate of home price growth continues. The index authors stated, ‘January’s performance is particularly impressive in historical context. The National Composite’s 11.2% gain is the highest recorded since February 2006, just one month shy of 15 years ago.’…All home price indices are now showing home price growth is continuing year-over-year. At this point, it looks like the pandemic has little affected home prices (or sales for that matter).”

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“The Suez ship has sailed, but here’s why there might be a few problems left in its wake” [Yahoo News!]. ” the short term, European and Asian retailers will still feel the impact. The Ever Given’s predicament left an estimated 370 fully loaded ships carrying nearly $10 billion in goods idling in its wake, and it will take an extended period of time to clear that backlog. Some ships could be forced to circumnavigate Africa, which could add anywhere from 10 to 15 days to their original journey time, according to Goldman Sachs…. There’s also the matter of what S&P’s Rogers referred to as the “long-term lessons” the world needs to learn from the Suez ship’s grounding. It exposed how vulnerable large vessels are to any mishap, which should be incorporated into planning, he explained. ‘The incident will still leave its mark and represents a gentle reminder of the geopolitical importance of the Suez Canal to global trade,’ Eurasia Group’s Kamel said.” • A gentle reminder, too, of the importance of a docile workforce, especially at supply chain chokepoints. Ever Given and the Bessemer vote take place in the same time-frame. Coincidence? You be the judge.

UPDATE Tech: “Data diaries: A situated approach to the study of data” [Big Data & Society]. “This article adapts the ethnographic medium of the diary to develop a method for studying data and related data practices. The article focuses on the creation of one data diary, developed iteratively over three years in the context of a national centre for monitoring disasters and natural hazards in Brazil (Cemaden). We describe four points of focus involved in the creation of a data diary – spaces, interfaces, types and situations – before reflecting on the value of this method. We suggest data diaries (1) are able to capture the informal dimension of data-intensive organisations; (2) enable empirical analysis of the specific ways that data intervene in the unfolding of situations; and (3) as a document, data diaries can foster interdisciplinary and inter-expert dialogue by bridging different ways of knowing data.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 44 Fear (previous close: 44 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 48 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 30 at 12:46pm. One year ago, just after the end of the Before Times: 25 (Extreme Fear).

The Biosphere

UPDATE Was agriculture a mistake?

UPDATE What’s your favorite invasive plant?

UPDATE “Lifecycle of a Leaf” [Current Affairs]. “[T]here are—at minimum—around 30 points at which fossil fuels are used to grow, process, and distribute a simple box of lettuce leaves. This doesn’t even take into account all the fossil fuels that were burned to manufacture and ship all the tools—the trucks, the hoses, the tractors, the trains, the washers and dryers—needed to run the farm and ship the product. Of all food, lettuce is not uniquely carbon-intensive. The entire food system in the Global North is like this.” • The article details all 30 points (which is ridiculous). This is a must-read.

UPDATE “Why Peanut Butter Could Trigger the Next Pandemic” [Inverse]. “Planting an acre of a monoculture crop — such as an orchard of fruit trees — is technically considered forest growth, even though monocultures are unsustainable and ultimately reduce biodiversity. This new study shows how this kind of commercialized “reforestation” contributes to disease outbreaks just like deforestations.” • This is horrible. It’s the horrid palm oil, of course: used in peanut butter. Well worth a read.

UPDATE A thread on compost bins:

“His Plane Crashed in the Amazon. Then Came the Hard Part.” [New York Times]. The final paragraph: “Reflecting on his ordeal, Mr. Sena said he walked away with a newfound appreciation for the rainforest, which is being razed every day by the illegal miners he briefly worked for. ‘If I had fallen somewhere in a deserted plantation site, I wouldn’t have water, shelter, or what to eat,’ he said. ‘The Amazon is so rich.'” • Yes, Amazonia was designed. It’s the world’s largest garden, an edible forest.

Health Care

“Operation Warp Speed: implications for global vaccine security” [The Lancet]. “OWS has invested an estimated US$18 billion mostly in the late-stage clinical development and early manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines and has agreements in place to buy 455 million doses…. [T]he Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) invested $1·4 billion in support of the development of COVID-19 vaccines. CEPI funding carries commitments to ensure global access and affordable cost. The OWS programme is focused on the USA and approval by the US Food and Drug Administration. The USA continues to lead globally in the number of COVID-19 cases, and its deaths due to COVID-19 are approaching 560 000 people in March, 2021. However, the global toll of infection (ie, approaching 121·2 million people) and deaths (ie, nearly 2·7 million) means that vaccines that are developed under OWS should also be considered for global distribution. Interestingly, several of the companies that are supported by OWS also received funding from CEPI, which should require global access. Failing to provide equity in the early distribution of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, according to modelling by Chinazzi and colleagues, could result in a doubling of global mortality.5 Leveraging the efforts of OWS for global health and bringing safe and effective vaccine solutions to people around the world in a timely manner is a crucial endeavour and too important to fail.”

UPDATE “Role of ivermectin in the prevention of SARS-CoV-2 infection among healthcare workers in India: A matched case-control study” [PLOS One]. The Conclusion: “Two-dose ivermectin prophylaxis at a dose of 300 μg/kg with a gap of 72 hours was associated with a 73% reduction of SARS-CoV-2 infection among healthcare workers for the following month. Chemoprophylaxis has relevance in the containment of pandemic.” Methods: “A hospital-based matched case-control study was conducted among healthcare workers of AIIMS Bhubaneswar, India, from September to October 2020. Profession, gender, age and date of diagnosis were matched for 186 case-control pairs.” • Worth a careful review.

UPDATE “Ivermectin as Pre-exposure Prophylaxis for COVID-19 among Healthcare Providers in a Selected Tertiary Hospital in Dhaka – An Observational Study” [European Journal of Medical & Health Sciences]. Conclusion: “Ivermectin, an FDA-approved, safe, cheap and widely available drug, should be subjected to large-scale trials all over the world to ascertain its effectiveness as pre-exposure prophylaxis for COVID-19.” Methods: “An observational study, with 118 healthcare providers who were enrolled purposively, was conducted in a tertiary hospital in Dhaka from May 2020 to August 2020. The subjects were divided into experimental and control groups; and the experimental group received an oral monthly dose of Ivermectin 12mg for 4 months. Both groups were exposed to COVID-19 positive patients admitted in the hospital during the course of study. The symptomatic subjects were evaluated by physical examination, COVID-19 RT-PCR and/or HRCT of chest.” • Also worth review.

UPDATE “A COVID-19 prophylaxis? Lower incidence associated with prophylactic administration of ivermectin” [International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents]. Method: “we collected data from countries that routinely deploy prophylactic chemotherapy (PCT) using various drugs including ivermectin [18]. Based on the varying MDA designs, we grouped these countries into two different categories—those that include ivermectin in their PCT and those that do not. We then proceeded to compare COVID-19 proliferation between these two groups and further contrasted them against a third group of countries that do not use PCT at all.” Results and Discussion: “the difference between nations that deploy PCT using ivermectin and those that do not use any PCT turned out to be highly significant… there is a very strong negative correlation between the use of PCT—especially involving ivermectin—and COVID-19 proliferation. This, paired with ivermectin’s proven inhibitory effect on SARS-CoV-2 replication in vitro, leads us to the hypothesis that the drug may have a—likely indirect—prophylactic effect and thereby reduce the spread of the disease.”

UPDATE “Britain’s regulators approve 20-SECOND Covid saliva test that firm hopes can be used in airports, football stadiums and offices” [Daily Mail]. “Users take their own sample and only one trained person is needed to operate the machine. Each screening device is capable of carrying out hundreds of tests per day.”

“9.1. Can we use the CO2 level in a space to estimate whether ventilation is good or bad?” [FAQs on Protecting Yourself from COVID-19 Aerosol Transmission]. Vouched for by Trish Greenhalgh. “Since accurate, affordable CO2 meters are available, measuring CO2 is the best way to get a sense of the amount of exhaled air in a space…. A key goal is to make clear that the many shared spaces with 2000 or 3000 ppm CO2 are unsafe, so that people realize that they have to take action to improve the situation there. Surveying classrooms, offices etc. with a CO2 monitor can be useful to determine which ones may have the worst ventilation, and prioritizing our actions there.” • I don’t know whether this is any sort of litmus test, but the aerosol community is abuzz with concrete actions to take, whereas fomite advocates are completely silent, and the droplet crowd has nothing to say either, despite the manifest inadequacies of their appoaches.

“We Need to Talk About the AstraZeneca Vaccine” [Hilda Bastian, The Atlantic]. “We still can’t be sure whether this blood disorder is triggered by vaccination, and we don’t know yet whether the risk—if it’s real—applies equally to all recipients, or only to a subset that might be predisposed. In light of these uncertainties, the balance here between vaccination’s costs and benefits is obvious. Given the present context of COVID-19 transmission throughout Europe, and even assuming the very worst about the risk that the AstraZeneca vaccine might pose, the shot will save many more lives per million doses than it could ever possibly end. It should be just as obvious that health authorities cannot simply look the other way. For these sorts of blood disorders, early diagnosis and appropriate action might be crucial for saving lives. Rajiv Pruthi, a hematologist at the Mayo Clinic, points out that the standard treatment for a cerebral clot—a blood thinner called heparin—could make things worse for patients with this syndrome. At the very least, doctors must be kept informed about potential risks.”

“Canada suspends use of AstraZeneca Covid vaccine for those under 55” [Guardian]. “Canada on Monday suspended the use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for people under 55 following concerns it might be linked to rare blood clots. The pause was recommended by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization for safety reasons. The Canadian provinces, which administer health in the country, announced the suspension on Monday. ‘There is substantial uncertainty about the benefit of providing AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines to adults under 55 given the potential risks,’ said Dr Shelley Deeks, vice-chair of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization. Deeks said the updated recommendations came amid new data from Europe that suggests the risk of blood clots is now potentially as high as one in 100,000, much higher than the one in one million risk believed before. She said most of the patients in Europe who developed a rare blood clot after vaccination with AstraZeneca were women under age 55, and the fatality rate among those who develop clots is as high as 40%.”

“Tourism in Antigua and Barbuda Is Sending Covid Skyrocketing” [Bloomberg]. “Herd immunity could be achieved across the Caribbean with just 300,000 to 400,000 doses, says Browne, but vaccines have been difficult for island nations to procure, with wealthy nations buying up the supply.” • But in the body of the article, returning expats are a big problem, too.

Class Warfare

“Liberalism and class” [Interfluidity]. “I think it makes perfect sense that liberalism has become a kind of upper-class creed. So long as it is, liberalism is in peril, and should be. There are illiberal currents on both the left and right that would exploit popular dissatisfaction to remake society in ways that I would very much dislike, whether by restoring a “traditional” hierarchy of implicit caste, or by granting diverse professionals even more prescriptive authority than they already have at the expense of liberty for the less enlightened. My strong preference is that we do neither of these things, and instead restore the broad appeal of liberalism by “leveling up”. We should ensure that everyone has the means to rely upon some mix of the market and the state to see to their material welfare, reducing the economic role of networks of personal reciprocity and history. This would render the good parts of liberalism more broadly and ethically accessible. Reducing economic stratification makes liberal proceduralism more credible pretty automatically. When economic and institutional power are dispersed and broadly shared, no one has a built-in edge, and aspirations of neutrality and fairness become plausible. Once we view society less through a lens of domination and oppression — because in a more materially equal society that will be a less credible lens — it will become possible to agree on a common, stable set of commercial and professional mores rather than extend deference to myriad communities’ evolving sensibilities.” • This is very good, and the anatomization of liberal values (not in the excerpt) is excellent. Note that it would be easier to “level up” if liberals didn’t hate the working class (see Thomas Frank) and didn’t believe they deserve their fate.

UPDATE “Lineaments of the Logistical State” [Viewpoint Magazine]. From 2014, still germane. “Struggles at the choke points of a planetary logistical system have led Sergio Bologna to speak of ‘the multitude of globalization,’ designating all of those who work across the supply chain, in the manual and intellectual labor that makes highly complex integrated transnational systems of warehousing, transport, and control possible. It is members of this multitude, clerical workers and truckers in Los Angeles and Long Beach, crane operators in Hong Kong, distribution centre workers for Wal-Mart, logistical workers in Northern Italy, or even air-traffic controllers in Spain that have led some to see not a secular vanishing but a shift in the loci of class struggle. This has prodded some to look again at the critical role of antagonism along the conduits of circulation – an abiding feature of the workers’ movement throughout its history – taking into consideration the intensifying significance of logistics to the reproduction of capital, but also its contradictory, uneven relationship to the reproduction of the capital-labor relation.” • The article mentions Oakland; I well remember when Occupy Oakland actually shut down the port with thousands of marchers (and, IIRC, union co-operation). Then the black bloc came in, and in a little while there were a couple hundred people smashing windows, misson accomplished.x

News of the Wired

“Living in one state and working remotely from another? You could owe income taxes in both” [CNN]. “Say you were among those who rode out the pandemic in a different state from your own — for example, at a vacation home or your parent’s house. Or maybe you simply worked from home, which happens to be in a state different from that of your employer, where you used to commute to work. Either way, your home state and the other state may both lay claim to a piece of your earnings. Here’s why: Every state sets its own tax laws governing how residents and nonresidents should be taxed on their income generated when working for in-state or out-of-state employers. Add to that the fact that several states created temporary tax rules specific to the pandemic, and you can see how this gets messy fast. The issue becomes more complicated still when an employee effectively stays in a new state for more than 183 days, thereby calling into question their official residency status.”

“Scientists Implant and Then Reverse False Memories in People” [Gizmodo]. “In the experiment, [Aileen Oeberst, head of the Department of Media Psychology at the University of Hagen] had another interviewer ask participants to identify whether any of their memories could be false, by simply thinking critically about them. The scientists used two ‘sensitization’ techniques: One, source sensitization, where they asked participants to recall the exact source of the memory (what is leading you to remember this; what specific recollection do you, yourself, have?). And two, false memory sensitization, where they explained to the subjects that sometimes being pressured to recall something can elicit false memories. And they worked, they worked!” Oeberst said, adding that of course not every single participant was persuaded that their memory was false. Particularly with the false memory sensitization strategy, participants seemed to regain their trust in their initial gut feeling of what they did and didn’t remember, as if empowered to trust their own recollection more.” • ”Department of Media Psychology,” eh?

UPDATE Who did this:

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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 (PM):

The Keukenhof Gardens, Amsterdam. I never have liked tulips much, but then mine have never looked like this!

Readers, I’m a little short of Spring plants, having put the remainder of my winter plants into inventory.

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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. km

    I would say that liberalism is a coalition between yuppies and various racial and sexual minorities. This is why Biden got more support than Trump among both millionaires and those making less than $50,000 per year, many of whom are minorities.


    https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/in-michigan-win-biden-backed-by-lower-income-voters (there are better links but I don’t feel like hunting them down)

    Of course, as that coalition gets hold of power, the coalition members will quickly discover that they don’t really have all that much in common, and don’t even really like each other all that much.

    Much the same could be said about the coalition making up modern American conservativism.

  2. Fedup

    “Living in one state and working remotely from another? You could owe income taxes in both”

    The social justice tax parasites occupying San Francisco city “government” reacted to companies rightly refusing to pay the 1.5% payroll tax on WFH employees abandoning the office towers and working outside the city. They got the same voters that “elect” them through the charade of ranked-choice voting to institute a percentage of gross receipts tax.

    Once leases expire, how many companies will choose to remain in Baltimore by the Bay?

    Where’s the money go? Here’s an example of the maximum extant, so far, of the modern Left, in a city that epitomizes the thrashing dying lights of a dying political ideology:

    “In the six “Safe Sleeping Villages” set up by the city of San Francisco during the pandemic, the cost of maintaining a single tent-camping spot is $5,000 per month, or $61,000 per year — more than it would cost to put each of these people in a market-rate apartment.”

  3. Anonapet

    Bible camps aren’t helping either, are they…. Lambert

    I’ve been a Roman Catholic, a Baptist, and a Calvinist and I can safely say, after reading the ENTIRE Bible, that they ALL distort it.

    So declining church membership is only a justly due payback, imo – especially as the churches (at least the white ones) reveal themselves disgracefully ignorant wrt economic justice.

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      Sorry. I’m terribly curious. If out of line, please ignore.

      “I’ve been a Roman Catholic, a Baptist, and a Calvinist”

      In that specific order?

      1. Anonapet

        Well, I left out Eastern mysticism after being in the RCC until the 10th grade in High School but that’s the order.

        But none of them compare to just reading the Bible myself and taking it seriously and almost always LITERALLY.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Any special attention given to the Pentateuch in that “almost literally” reading, learning and inwardly digesting of the Bible? Which is now available in over 500 flavors just in English, https://www.christianity.com/wiki/bible/why-are-there-so-many-different-versions-of-the-bible.html with may varying and inconsistent renderings of text taken or passed on from the Greek rendition of Aramaic root sources, as modified and revised by many generations of often self-serving “keepers of the One True Faith”?

          I read the King James version cover to cover while a young person in the Presbyterian Westminster Fellowship. Left me with a lot of cognitive dissonance to try to deal with, and sickened, over time, by attendance in Quaker, Episcopal, Baptist, and Methodist churches. The latter several supported preachers who extracted bits of text and wove from them a whole lot of what seemed to me un-Jesus dogmas and “lessons” on what God decreed and intended. Which most often were taken from the meanness and male-dominant stuff in the Old Testament, holding up egocentric and disloyal and genocidal special people as heroes to emulate.

          The half-digested meals of dogma I took from those Presbyterian days, taken with the years of Boy Scouts indoctrination to “do my duty to God and my Country,” primed me to enlist in the Imperial Army in 1966, giving me the chance to go spend a year in Vietnam. Jesus wept?

          I’m at the point that makes up the ending advice in Tom Robbins’ ecclesiastical reverie, “Skinny Legs and All:” “You have to figure it out for yourself.”

          1. Darthbobber

            Hmm… were those midwestern Quakers? Most of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting’s member meetings don’t support preachers of any sort. Or programmed worship.

          2. Pelham

            I, too, have read the Bible through — 3 times (RSV, Oxford New English and King James). My takeaway: The Old Testament served as as the founding document of the Jewish people, simply laying down a history (mostly false, but this matters little) and distinguishing practices to make them God’s chosen. That plus some pretty wonderful little stories and passages sum it up.

            The New Testament is a sort of Festivus for the Rest of Us. It distills the 600-some commandments of the Old Testament into a sort of Kantian morality that’s simple in essence but can be very trying in practice. Ultimately, if you can get to this point, there’s a kind of radical freedom accessible through a magnificent obsession with God.

            That said, I do believe that a community of faith is important. I miss going to church.

            1. John Zelnicker

              March 30, 2021 at 5:30 pm

              Although there are, indeed, some 600 commandments in the Old Testament, when the great Rabbi Hillel was asked to define Judaism while standing on one foot, he said “Do not do unto others that which is abhorrent to you. All else is commentary.”

              1. MichaelSF

                It would have been nice if he’d added “and don’t do unto others that which is abhorrent to THEM.” Too many religious types seem to figure that what they like is good for everyone, without any regard for what “everyone” has to say about that.

        2. pjay

          Also curious, but by “Calvinism,” are you referring to a particular Protestant denomination, or to the literal writings/beliefs of Calvin himself?

          I know from personal experience that “Baptist” can mean almost anything, given the independence of Baptist churches. I was raised in a large American Baptist church. Compared to my Southern Baptist relatives my church was downright Episcopalian.

        1. WobblyTelomeres

          Funny! Just to be clear, I wasn’t questioning any belief, just started wondering what that path was like. There may be (accessing nether number generator) 20 people who have. Add in that they somehow ended up posting here? That’s a unique individual.

          If I spend some time adding sinew and bone, perhaps an interesting character. Voltaire kept a priest, right?

    2. occasional anonymous

      Look, if so many different groups and people, over the course of 2,000 years, are reading from the same source but all manage to ‘distort’ it…maybe it just wasn’t particularly coherent to begin with?

  4. Stephanie

    Re: scularization: how much of that downward curve can be attributed to Catholics leaving the Church in the wake of the increased visibility of the clergy’s aiding and abetting abusive priests since the Boston Globe story broke in 2002?

    On another topic, a data point on COVID spread in schools: a friend in Iowa called last night, her son in junior high is on his 3rd two-week exposure quarantine since he went back to school in February. At least one of the diagnosed children had a high fever for several days. On the other hand, there have been no exposures that she’s aware of at her older son’s high school.

    My first thought had to do with what were the differences in the ventilation systems in the two buildings. My second was that kids in early puberty are more likely to have elementary-age siblings and, being at the still-squirrely end of adolescence, more physical contact with family members and other children. My third thought was that high school-aged kids are more likely to just take some Advil and go to class without telling an adult about any low-key symptoms (my likely play at that age, because omg you are making such a big deal over this.)

    1. Anonapet

      how much of that downward curve can be attributed to Catholics leaving the Church in the wake of the increased visibility of the clergy’s aiding and abetting abusive priests since the Boston Globe story broke in 2002?

      In the case of my own family, none of my RCC siblings (2 sisters and 1 brother) think they have a choice but to stay in the “one true Church” despite their outrage. So far fewer than you’d expect is my bet.

  5. drumlin woodchuckles

    I have two equally favorite invasive plants, kudzu and water hyacinth. I can imagine a way to grow both in semi-the-same-place in such a way as to get huge compostable or otherwise ag-and-gardening usable yields of plant-biomass.

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      On the other hand, the 3 invasive banes now dominating my semi-pastoral life: buckthorn, garlic mustard, and honeysuckle. Ironically, if we succeed in controlling/eliminating all 3, we’ll be left with a virtual monoculture of black walnuts, which themselves have colonized a space that would have at one time been dominated by oaks.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Autumn olive has become considered by some to be a harmful invasive in parts of the Midwest. I believe Tegnost wrote about that some threads ago.

        I thought of another way to control it in an area small enough to patrol and manage by hand. I don’t know if this way would work, though. But here is what occurred to me .. . . .
        Get to know what the seedlings look like very well. They should be physically easy to pull up tin their hundreds or thousands, especially after a long soil-softening rain. As to the big ones, wait till they are flowering and then cut off just those parts of the branches which have flowers. When the shrub grows new branches to try to reflower, cut those off once flowering has begun. Do that enough times and the plant should wear out , starve and die.

    2. Robert Hahl

      There is no lesser celandine in the competition, which my wife says cannot be killed by chemical warfare and digging it up just spreads it around. Some people say it simply cannot be eliminated. Looks pretty though.

    3. Kurt Sperry

      Probably my two current favorite invasives in the yard are the Asiatic blackberries which provide an ample harvest of sweet berries to us and the birds in midsummer, and the Buddleias which really do attract a lot of welcome butterfly attention.

      Invasive or potentially invasive plants that you like or have a use for can be a gardener’s best friend.

    4. HotFlash

      Garlic mustard. It’s abundant, tasty, nutritious, fresh, organic (in most cases), grows by itself, and free. Shoots and leaves are great in salads, stir-fries, omelettes, mixed with grains, and make a lovely pesto. Seeds can be made into nice mustards, tossed in with quinoa or such, and sprouted for winter microgreens. I made garlic mustard kraut last summer, great with hummus and pita.

    1. Geo

      Thanks for the list! Was surprised to see Smuckers on there. As a PB junkie this is very helpful.

      1. a different chris

        If you bike the Redbank Valley Trail you go right past the place the pure stuff is made (and yes it smells nice but not like a bakery or anything) in New Bethlehem PA.

        There is no sign or anything, I had to work backwards from various sources – all I started with was “they make peanut butter there” and was really, really surprised to eventually find it was Smucker’s Natural.

        Smuckers just lists headquarters (Ohio? Don’t remember) on the jar.

      2. wilroncanada

        We buy the Adams (Smuckers) brand in 500ml jars–still glass. It is easier to mix than the 1litre–the oil rises to the top–and store it upside-down in the refrigerator after opening. We have converted our grandchildren. Unfortunately, both sons-in-law are still wedded to Kraft. Supposed economy, because one can buy it in 2litre plastic jars. I notice it is not on the list.

      3. Alternate Delegate

        Yes, I noted that Smuckers (“Natural”, whatever that means) claims a single ingredient, which happens to be “peanuts”. It seems to be acceptable here around the home.

        Separate issue: aflatoxin in peanuts is a problem, and this is better tested for in US peanuts than in imported ones. However, I have been unable to locate passport documents (or even claims of origin) on my locally available jars of peanut butter.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Our legacy-hippy co-op has a powerful little grinding machine for grinding peanuts into peanut butter for people to fill their containers with, as much or little at a time as they want. The only oil in it would have to be peanut oil.

      1. Tom

        Making peanut butter at home is as easy as buying it in the store! Dry roasted peanuts in a food processor. Boom. Peanut butter. And it’s delicious. Add a pinch of salt if you’re so inclined, and that’s it. No oil. No sugar. You can do it in a blender, but a food processor is easier. The 16oz container of peanuts (I do the lightly salted ones) gives you about a jar of PB. Dump them in, turn it on and be patient. It doesn’t look like it’s going to work. Keep waiting. You’ll be sure that it’s not going to work and that you wasted the peanuts. Then, like magic, the peanut gravel becomes peanut butter. I have a small, inexpensive food processor. Nothing fancy required.

    3. lyman alpha blob

      Thanks – good to know!

      Another bonus for the Teddie and Adams brands which I’ve eaten for years and are delicious – they are two of the dwindling number of condiments you can buy in a glass jar rather than plastic.

    4. Arizona Slim

      I grind my own peanut butter here at the Arizona Slim Ranch. Just peanuts. No added oil.

  6. petal

    Re church thing: Yeah, as a recovering Catholic that bailed in 2004, was wondering about how much of an effect the scandal had on people leaving.

    NYS map: A quickie about the darker colours on the map-Buffalo(colleges, city), Binghamton(SUNY/city), college towns(Oneonta; St. Bonaventure in Olean, SUNY Plattsburgh, etc), Ft Drum area, downstate might be due to the places like the orthodox religious settlements(Kiryas Joel in Orange County). Not necessarily an income-related thing.

      1. upstater

        I was puzzled about Lewis County in NYS. It is really rural and quite poor; probably the highest ratio of Trump 2020 flags in the state. Ft Drum is nearby, but most enlisted and ossifers are in Jefferson or St Lawrence counties.

        Kiryas Joel in Orange County is no surprise, measles periodically runs rampant there (supposedly the poorest county in the US, or the most adept at milking the welfare system).

        I’m in Onondaga County and rates have ticked up. 2 neighboring families, 40s with kids in school got COVID in last week. No major effects conveyed. But must be B117 because they avoided the wild version for a year with rather nonchalant attitudes and cloth masks.

        1. petal

          I figure the baptism and auction outbreaks combined with a low population probably made Lewis Co’s rate a little higher than it would be otherwise, you know? Doesn’t take much.

          1. upstater

            According to wikipedia, Lewis county had 27,000 population in 2010. Not hard to have 50 cases per 100,000 with 2 well attended events.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I would look at the decline of mainline Protestantism and the effect it has on “membership”. A lapsed Catholic is one thing, but what practicing Catholic wouldn’t associate themselves with an individual church building. If you don’t like the priest, you don’t go to a different church. You complain to the Bishop. What do you do when there isn’t an official church hierarchy?

  7. cocomaan

    Was looking at the Covid charts, is the hospitalization rate falling but test positivity rising because of the vaccine? Or are we just better at treating covid now?

    Haven’t seen a good answer to that.

    Re: invasive bracket,
    I’m a big fan of invasives that I can eat. Glad to see garlic mustard on there. But here in PA, a few others that are reliable for food are wineberry (sometimes better than raspberry), and mulberry trees.

    I’m thinking of writing some essays on learning to love invasive plants. You have to respect multiflora rose. It’s a horrific plant to try and bushwhack through.

    1. jhallc

      We had a huge 3 foot diameter Mulberry tree in my yard growing up. It was my job to sweep them up off the paved drive. If we didn’t get to them quickly they would sometimes ferment on the warm pavement and the birds and squirrels would have a great time.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Did you ever try eating any, or were they too high overhead before falling? If you did try any, how did they taste?

        1. tennesseewaltzer

          I have often eaten mulberries.. Picking them from lower branches before the birds get to them. And rescuing some fallen ones from the ground before birds and ants find them. One’s fingers are stained a lovely shade. They are long slender fruits and the stem cannot be disconnected. So it is eaten along with the fruit. Taste a bit like a blackberry. They make a good cobbler and also a good jam. The stem just adds some fiber.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            I have read that mulberry is a fairly strong, hard and flexelastic wood. And that the tree handles cut-and-come-again coppicing every few years. If that is so, and if one could find one with especially good berries, perhaps taking home and planting a couple cuttings for the berries and for coppice-harvested poles every so often might be something worth doing.

        2. jhallc

          They were a bit tart and very seedy/fibery. Could reach a few low hanging branches but most were high up. It was splitting down the middle and we had a steel rod and cable installed to keep it together. You had to be careful not to park under it as the bird droppings were quite purple.

        3. Alternate Delegate

          We would go down the alley, lay out a sheet under each tree, and whack at the branches with sticks. This gave you the really ripe mulberries, and they were good!

        4. HotFlash

          There is a tall but skinny mulberry tree on my fenceline. The berries are just OK raw, but very nice cooked. I attach a couple of old sheets to the (neighbour’s) fence when the mulberries are ripe and every morning during the season collect a couple of cups, enough for a jar of jam. I end up with a year’s supply of mulberry jam for more-or-less free. This year I might try soaking some in vodka to make a cordial.

    1. Arizona Slim

      I was just going to post my own comment about buffelgrass. Thanks for beating me to it!

  8. GF

    “The Keukenhof Gardens, Amsterdam. I never have liked tulips much, but then mine have never looked like this!”

    During the couple of years we lived in Boulder CO we would go to Pearl Street during the early spring to look at the rather beautiful tulip displays. A more urban setting than the Amsterdam gardens but very nice tulips. The people in charge even had a free tulip bulb giveaway every fall for whomever wanted some for themselves.

  9. enoughisenough

    Lambert, I am really confused about the “herd immunity” people keep saying we can achieve. How can we, if the vaccines we have do NOT give us immunity, just reduce symptoms/reduce severity? And if we can still pass the virus, after having been vaccinated?

    Obviously these vaccines are needed, but shouldn’t there be better ones, that can actually make us immune?

    Can anyone clear this up for me?

    1. enoughisenough

      and if variants are being incubated and spread by asymptomatic carriers, then the vaccines won’t stop new variants, right?

    2. cocomaan

      Because this vaccine is basically a therapeutic, not a prophylactic. I don’t know why more people aren’t talking about this.

      Seems to me that the marketing around these vaccines uses our previous experience with small/chickenpox, diphtheria, etc vaccines in order to get it out there for use.


      1. enoughisenough

        That’s what it seems like. I find the rhetoric about “immunity” extremely dishonest and worrisome.

    3. marku52

      The concept relates to whether an infected person can find enough other non-immune people to keep the epidemic growing (R0 >1.0)

      If enough of the population has immunity from either previous exposure or vaccination, any infection sector will burn out. The level of immunity is mathematically related to the uncontrolled R0 of the infection.

      We don’t have firm data on the Mrna vaccines, as to whether they prevent a vaccinated individual from spreading the disease, but early indications are that they do. This came form household studies in Israel where household clusters were much reduced in the vaccinated groups, as you would hope.

    4. Cuibono

      Clearly there IS immunity as it is commonly defined. Is there sterilizing immunity?
      So far the data supports a reduction in both symptomatic and asymptomatic disease and some very limited data from Scotland about decreased transmission of the virus. How much is still anybodies guess as the studies are not that powerful. Enough to make this virus go away?? Highly doubtful. Factor in vaccine resistance, variants, lack of availability globally, waning immunity, new variants and animals and you would be NUTS to think this thing is going away IMO

      1. Heidi’s walker

        I agree. They say that once you are infected with a virus you will always have it. See chicken pox. Your body learns to live with it.

  10. RMO

    I’ve never flown first class on British Airways so I have no idea what the food is like. I did however flown the late, lamented WardAir twice in the 80s – that food I would be more than happy to have served to me at home. It was good, even compared to a very good restaurant. Don’t even get me started about the fact the upper deck on the 747 was a lounge with comfortable couches… or that corrected for inflation the ticket cost was about the same as a cattle class flight from Vancouver to Honolulu would be nowadays. And that’s with an early 747 with kerosene guzzling JT-9’s, and a three person cockpit!

    1. David

      I did fly first class on BA a handful of times, although it was a while ago, and once or twice with other airlines. For what it’s worth, it very much depends on the route and the time of day. An overnight flight from North America to Europe, for example, you hardly have time to notice the difference, and I noticed that many regular travellers just went straight to sleep (OK, in a proper bed). But a daytime flight in the opposite direction could be an actual pleasure, with not just very good food, but personal service, lots of room, a huge choice of films to watch and as much champagne as you could drink. It almost made flying worthwhile. That said, I should also put in a word for the old Virgin Atlantic Upper Class, which many experienced travellers actually preferred to BA First, and could actually be fun. But those were other times ….

      1. Roger

        I have many good memories of Virgin Upper Class, being picked up in the limo from home and then enjoying the chocolates and champagne all the way from London to Los Angeles and back as a 20-something junior consultant was a joy. Hitting Venice Beach in the middle of a British winter was also. The project dragged on, forcing me to take a number of such flights, just awful ….

    2. Gc54

      Briefly ~10 yr ago BA allowed steerage passengers leaving LHR internationally to pre-order an upscale meal for $20. Since work was paying for my ticket to Capetown overnight I bought one. The sirloin was tiny but good, like Trader Joe’s, the rest forgettable. Wasn’t worth $20 and I was among the last to be fed. They did provide silverware.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        I’ve never flown first-class but the best airline meal I can remember was just a nice, simple crudo, mozz, and tomato Italian bar panino, a real pasticceria tiramisù, and a glass of prosecco on a short Air Dolomiti flight from Venice to Munich.The view of the sunny Alps at barely above summit height helped too.

    3. The Rev Kev

      I have an idea. About two months ago images came out in the UK of food provided to school children for £30 (about US$41) which was basically just cheap rubbish worth nowhere near £30. So why not give the contract to British Airways for their food parcels? Bet they could do a much better job-


  11. Grant

    “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.”

    I don’t know. For one, isn’t Cuomo’s response pretty disastrous? Seems that they are in the same horrible ballpark. Even if there are state-mandated closures, it doesn’t mean such things didn’t happen at the county or municipal level. I would also say that weather can play a role too. If you live in New York and it is the wintertime, outdoor dining is not going to be the same as in Florida. Restaurants in Florida could be open in ways New York couldn’t be given the weather. You could survive based on modifying operations in Florida in the winter that you couldn’t in New York. Beyond that, density and the modes of transport matter. A far more densely populated area that utilizes public transport is not the same as an area with far less density where people get around a lot more in private cars. What if in Florida there are people with more disposal income that don’t have to go into work and don’t have to go to the store, whereas in New York more people have to travel on public transportation to work, more have to go to the store, more have to go into work, etc.?

    I think, in regards to state lockdowns, of Texas. Okay, Texas has not been as stringent generally at the state level. But, that doesn’t mean that Dallas, Austin, Houston and so on (or counties) don’t have pretty strict standards. There could be greater regional variation, but you could have a state “open” and there could still be restrictions at the municipal or county level. If the rural and less dense areas in Texas didn’t have restrictions, there was an outbreak and people travelled to neighboring states with state mandated restrictions? One way or another, these states aren’t islands.

    To me, it seems obvious that in a pandemic you try to identify and isolate the sick, you try to lessen or eliminate situations where large amounts of people gather and you limit or bar indoor uses that can help to speed up the transfer of the virus. Many of our problems could have been avoided with stronger federal support for small and medium businesses, local and state governments and workers. We could be getting through this a lot easier, with less sick and dying, with stronger federal support. This chaotic, inefficient healthcare system has also made things more harmful and made fighting this much more difficult.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      And everything in Florida is post-50s car-centric infrastructure. We’ve been doing drive thru and delivery for a long time.

      Old population, but heavily retired and able to set their own schedules.

      And good weather, you can all just meet up with lawn chairs and something you picked up at the drive thru.

      1. a different chris

        Yes this is exactly the time of year you can and will go outdoors in Florida. Being outdoors is supposedly the point of living in Florida. A rough look at Lambert’s graphs can be construed to imply – actually we know that’s what they do – Floridians were ducking from one air-conditioned building into another during late summer and started getting sick. Said graphs peak was a little later than that but I think it basically pans out.

        /on opinion
        And even though old people are heavy right wingers, that particular breed of wackjob craves attention – that’s I swear the entire schtick, say shocking things for attention – and will show up for anything even if it’s somebody sticking a needle in their arm.
        /off opinion

        And some fact to go with my opinion:


  12. jhallc

    Re: Invasive Plants

    I would have thought that Eurasian Milfoil (common aquarium plant) would have made the list. It’s one of the most destructive up north in ponds and lakes. Maine is on high alert to keep to keep it from spreading any further in it’s waters

  13. drumlin woodchuckles

    Was agriculture a mistake? Not in all times and places. Annual big down-river floodplain agriculture with its yearly renewal of flood-times silt-fertility restoration has been stable in place for several thousand years.
    The lower Nile, the lower Mekong, the lower Yangtze, etc.

    It was certainly a mistake on dust-bowlable grasslands.

    American Indian agriculture was a non-mistake in many areas. Of course some people might seek to redefine it as ” not-agriculture” so as to not have to face it as a standing rebuttal to “agriculture was a mistake”.

    The super-rootified perennial grass in the image offered in the link reminds me of this image of kernza root systems. Kernza is one of the perennial grass-grains resulting from The Land Institute’s breeding work and efforts.

    1. lynne

      Every time I hear someone pontificate about how we have to save the planet by ridding the earth of grazing animals and plant more crops, I think of pictures like todays and want to cry.

      1. CloverBee

        Yes, monoculture agriculture would be a fantastic solution to the global warming woes, they claim. What udder nonsense (pun intended).

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Was agriculture a mistake? Not in all times and places. Annual big down-river floodplain agriculture with its yearly renewal of flood-times silt-fertility restoration has been stable in place for several thousand years.
      The lower Nile, the lower Mekong, the lower Yangtze

      Excellent point. The Mississippi Basin was not amenable to this? Did optimization for cotton enter in?

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Drainage, wall-to-wall cotton or any other monoculture, forced-march production all through the year, are all features of petro-mechanical agriculture which were not present when agriculture was first invented. So perhaps the mistakes were more recent, in some cases at least.
        Had agriculture along the lower Mississippi been managed the way agriculture was managed for thousands of years in ancient Egypt, featuring letting the floodwaters flood, refertilize the land, and then retreat; agriculture could be just as sustainable along the modern Mississippi as along the ancient Nile.

        But doing that would require a real cultural re-orientation.

        ( In my purely amateur opinion as a just-barely-amateur gardener who likes to read about these things).

  14. CloverBee

    RE: Was agriculture a mistake?
    This picture is originally from the “Soil” issue of National Geographic. An issue that had lots of anecdotal articles and scientific study-based articles on improving soil to store carbon. Does anyone know what that issue was? I can’t find it in my collection, and would like to order another couple because it was incredibly informative, and applicable in every day life.

      1. CloverBee

        No, it was new. Within the last 10 years, maybe the last 5 years. It covered how the natural grazing cycle of bison stimulate the roots to grow deeper, how cattle grazing compacts the soil and does not promote root growth, and how to move cattle appropriately on the plains to simulate the bison patterns and improve the soil. Among other things… like how ancient peoples created terra preta in the Amazon, and how that can apply anywhere.

    1. Thistlebreath

      Looks like one of Wes Jackson’s krewe. The late Harris Rayl, from the long line of Kansas newspaper owners, was a great supporter of it.

      Wes does go on, given the chance. I once had an enjoyable few moments witnessing Wendell Berry slyly poking fun at some of Wes’s football bloviations.

      The Prairie Writers’ Circle is gone now, cancelled by his own self but while it lasted, the occasional email was a pretty good round robin of writing that Jim Harrison would have read. Lots of reflections on brushy thickets, gravel banks in flat rivers and the occasional poem.

      For a very different historical take on the prairie, check out the recently deceased Larry McMurtry’s Berrybender Chronicles. A merry romp through rather well researched history.

  15. chris

    Not sure if this has already been shared or not, but Jenn Budd is asking a lot of questions about the footage showing the immigration crisis at the border that CNN aired the other day. Matt Taibbi is also asking questions, both about the information that was shared and the way CNN handled things. Interesting stuff. I am currently one of the subscribers to their Useful Idiots substack. I appreciate that their new platform let’s them respond to news events much more quickly than before.

    Here’s David Dayen’s Tweet about the issue too.

  16. Phillip Cross

    Ivermectin @ AIIMS Bhubaneswar.

    According to wikipedia, only 35% of Bhubaneswar has piped water, and 27% has a connection to the sewage network.

    It’s also next to a tropical wetland with temperatures 80-100f year round.

    Sounds like perfect conditions to find untreated parasitic infections among the populace.

    Could treating people’s parasites with ivermectin help them to be constitutionally stronger, and fight off Covid19 more easily?

  17. rowlf

    The US media seems to be a little slow blaming the Ever Given blocking the Suez Canal on the Iranians. Is the new US State Department crew still setting up shop and filling up their Rolodexes?

  18. John Siman

    >>>> Note that it would be easier to “level up” if liberals didn’t hate the working class (see Thomas Frank) and didn’t believe they deserve their fate.

    — Well, that’s your fucking bottom line right there, isn’t it?

    1. a different chris

      I think it’s worse than that. They don’t really “hate” them, they regard them… man it’s hard to describe but I think I have (of course I always think I have, others may differ) a good analogy.

      Did you ever know some upper middle class people that got a dog, and they do things with the dog, they spend money on the dog, they pet and coo at it.

      But sometimes, rarely but sometimes, you notice the dog just isn’t there anymore. No, they didn’t have it put down (they paid 4 figures for it, it ain’t gonna be put down!) but they “gave it away” because it somehow became an inconvenience.

      Such goes the working class, they are adorable until they become an inconvenience. You can be adorable curtseying at $7.50 an hour, 2x that is more like an inconvenience.

  19. dk

    I wish I had demographic data at New York county level, particularly income. Perhaps some kind reader can put me on to a source.

    I made a map of NY State County Per Capita Personal Income from 2019 BEA data on ObservableHQ (my first one):

    Also, it’s pretty easy to create a map from the U.S. Department of Commerce – Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA at https://bea.gov) of NY Counties 2019 Per capita personal income (Dollars), by following these steps in a browser:

    1) Go to: https://apps.bea.gov/iTable/iTable.cfm?reqid=70&step=1&isuri=1&acrdn=6#

    “Personal Income, Population, Per Capita Personal Income (CAINC1)”

    3) Select “County” and click [Next Step >]

    4) Scroll the list to select “New York” and click [Next Step >]

    5) Scroll up the Area list if necessary to select “All counties in New York”
    For Statistic, select “Per capita personal income (dollars)”
    For Units of Measure select “Levels” and click [Next Step >]

    5) For Time Period select “2019” and click [Next Step >]

    6) In a few moments you will get a table of data. Above the table on the right are some large icon controls, click on MAP (compass icon), the map should render forthwith.

    The map can be saved to JPG, PNG (best), or PDF from the icon at the top right of the map (inside the border).

    Modify the dataset with the MODIFY button from the controls to get a new table, then click the MAP button for a new map. Alternately, use the tabs above the icon controls to return to a selection page and use the [next Step >} button from there.

  20. Kfish

    “We need to…” get rid of this awful sentence structure that feels like a passive-aggressive lecture from a disappointed parent that I haven’t paid enough attention to their pet cause out of all of the issues in the modern hellscape. No, THEY need to work a little harder to convince me that their issue is actually more important than what I was doing before I encountered their half-assed guilt trip.

  21. scarnoc

    Bible camps aren’t helping either, are they….

    I have bad (or good?) news for you. Evangelicalism is fine, the share of the population who identify as such has stayed about the same since 2000. They also have a good seed stock: the younger generation in evangelicalism isn’t leaving. The decline has happened in Mainline Protestant denominations. Basically, liberal Protestants are now ‘nones’, conservative Protestants have become evangelicals, Catholics, or Orthodox. The conservative Christian right is fine. Liberal American Christianity has basically died.

      1. Mike Mc

        “Liberal American Christianity has basically died.”

        Yes and no. Wife retiring Monday after 40 plus years as an ordained pastor (Disciples of Christ) because the churches she serves are 1) culturally conservative (as is most of rural Nebraska where we live right now) and 2) lay leadership – the people who actually run any American Protestant congregation – is simply absent. This is so common now as to be unremarkable; we’ve seen it happening for years.

        Mainline American Protestant denominations have been fighting a two front war for decades.

        1) Fairly rigid hierarchies within denominations combined with highly traditional cultural norms drove many people away from regular worship. Secular activities from cable TV to the abominable “club sports” phenomenon to shopping and consumption as hobbies (whether for clothes etc. for young women or video games etc. for young men) soaked up ‘family time’ that was once reserved for church activities. Add to that ‘professions’ in which Mom and Dad both worked a good 20 hours more than the old 40 standard work week. Sunday School classes, church youth groups and affiliated groups like Scout troops simply withered and died from lack of participation and support.

        2) America’s relentless tilt to increasingly conservative ideologies – as promoted by the New (and Old Right) and The Powers That Be who followed the Lewis Powell Memo point by point since Nixon’s first term drove those ‘Christians’ concerned about everything from civil rights to the antiwar movement to women’s liberation into more conservation evangelical denominations. These culturally and socially conservative groups also drove anyone not willing to condemn anyone to the left of Richard Nixon et al away from Christianity in general.

        Mainline Protestant denominations couldn’t compete with either secular joys or evangelical fervor. The middle of the road is paved with yellow stripes and dead animals.

        Closest thing to redemption for these folks (us among them) if it’s not too late already would be something like Rev. Barber’s current crusade:


  22. dbk

    Just one small belated observation on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) test-and-trace program. The rapid saliva-based test was developed by faculty, and is produced on-campus. The tracing program was designed by faculty as well. While objections based on privacy rights / libertarian claims are eminently understandable, implementation of UIUC’s 100% home-grown system has kept current COVID-19 positivity rates to around 0.10%, allowing the state’s flagship campus to operate the entire academic year to date.

  23. John Anthony La Pietra

    Special thanks for the invasive-plants tournament . . . and especially for the opportunity to point out that the rivalry in one of the Round 2 match-ups actually stems from (Or is rooted in) a closer relationship — first reported by the eminent team of English musical ethno-botanists, Michael Flanders and Donald Swann:


    A story with a twist — or two. . . .

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